Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

After all that...

It's a statement on how sick I ran earlier this year to realize that as badly as I've run since July that I'm actually still in the black playing poker for the year. Goals for December's trip to Vegas -

1) Don't play 2/4 unless it's in the same way as I play blackjack or pai gow - as pure entertainment.

2) Ditto blogger mixed games.

3) Play NLHE when it's time to play real poker, and play it like I've got a little bit of sense.

Frankly, if I could do #3 more often I'd be way more ahead than I am, particularly in home games. My biggest leak is tossing just a buck or two in there (again and again and again) for the ridiculous factor if I hit with those crap cards. I'll never take a home game as seriously as an opportunity to take money from strangers, but when the stacks are $300+ deep at a home game, perhaps I should treat it with a little more caution and respect my dramatically reduced bankroll with a little more respect.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

So Far...

This is who I have for the tournament at the Venetian in a couple of weeks. If you're not on the list, let me know if you wanna play. A few people that I haven't heard from yet include -

Miami Don
Mr. Subliminal

So let me know if you're not one of the folks below and still want in -

Bad Blood
CA April
Bakini Mary
Astin's Buddy
Dawn Summers
Buddy Dank
Joe Speaker
Johhny Hughes
Dr. Chako

So if I've forgotten that you emailed me or left a comment, please do so again. I drink a lot this time of year and have been known to forget things. If you wanna play, but haven't let me know, please do so quickly. I'm giving Tim at the Venetian our list on Monday the 8th, so if I don't have your info by then, you're SOL. If you're on the list, and mentioned a friend, I have that info as well.

See you in a couple of weeks!

And you plan on playing. Even if you're a "maybe," it's better to set it up for too many people than to have too few seats.

Looking forward to seeing all of you!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Then there was poker...

Of a sort. Most of the gang was out of town, so we played 5-handed at Brian's joint this weekend. It was fun, if a little gassy. With no chicas in the room, the boys felt even less restraint than normal, and I'm just glad no one lit a match. And that pillow I was sitting on? Yeah, sacrificial cushion. It should be burned. I finished the night down by about $40, nothing tremendously notable happened except me picking up aces in back-to-back hands. Me and Jim got it all in preflop and his Queens didn't find a friend, so that was the night's first rebuy.

There were many more. Almost all of them by me & Jim. It could have been ugly, but we mostly passed the same money around the table for 5-6 hours. Sunday I cracked open Assassin's Creed for the first time (new Xbox 360) and whenever I got ill watching the Panthers game (which was often) I switched over to the game. Badass. I'm taking recomendations on what I should put on my Xmas list. I currently have Fable 2, Assassin's Creed, Elder Scrolls Oblivion (I think, whatever the Elder Scrolls game is), Lego Indiana Jones and Kung Fu Panda (they came with the Xbox, don't ask). I want Left4Dead, but not sure what else is badass enough. I have GH3 for Wii, so I'm probably gonna get World Tour for that. So make your recommendations.

Sunday was also all about moving heavy shit. When we got the LCD tv for the den (which is actually for the bedroom but is currently in the den, don't ask) we decided to give our old TV to Suzy's dad to replace his 1980-ish tv. Which was great, except that a 32" Sony Trinitron WEGA is a monster of a TV, so it was all Tim and I could do to get the TV into his apartment. If there had been more stairs it probably wouldn't have happened. Then I had to hook everything up, because that's kinda my gig. So I did that, got all hot and sweaty, then went home to see my team get crushed by a division rival and move into 2nd on the division (since we currently lose the tie-breaker with Tampa based on an earlier loss to Tampa).

This weekend we have some distinguished visitors from up north in the region for turkey day, so I'll be rolling south to Greer to play cards. Check out Bad Blood's blog for the lineup from hell.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Continuing the streak

Of a post a week, whether I needs it or not. Really, there are even things going on. I've even played a little poker. Wanna hear about it?

Didn't think so.

Still don't care. Here goes.

At long last, the Falstaff home game made a resurgence Saturday night with a table full to overflowing. T, Jim, Nate, Brian, Little Nick joined the party, as well as you intrepid host and a couple of bloggers from around town and from down south. We even had an old friend Carver show up for a little while, but he hit his stop/loss mark early and packed it in.

The night started off poorly for yours truly, as I bled out my first two buy-ins in short order. Nothing really spectacular happened, I just picked up a lot of second-pair hands and missed a lot of draws. I reloaded for a hundred (first two buy-ins were for $50), and decided I might want to play a little poker at some point before I gave away ALL my money.

Nate started the night like Nate starts, by running over the table. I picked up a decent pot from him on a hand where I called him down with second pair, decent kicker because I knew that it was good, then I hit him with an absolutely sick beat. I picked up Q-J in late position and called a raise from Nate, because his raises mean either he has a small pair or that he has any random ace. Well when the flop came down K-J-X and Nate led out for a huge bet, I assumed that he probably had either a small pair or a worse Jack. I moved all in for not much more, and picked up a Queen on the turn.

I said "I now have two pair." Brian looked over at Nate and said "that's not enough." I tabled my two pair, and Nate turned over pocket Jacks for the set. At this point Jim doomed Nate by saying that he folded a Queen, and sure enough, the case queen hits the river and I go runner-runner one-outer for the double-up. It was only fair that Jim return the favor, since I did the same thing to Special K earlier in the night when Jim was on a flush draw and behind K's hand when I mentioned that I folded the same flush draw. Boom, club on the river and K goes for a rebuy.

I picked up a couple other decent hands, and dragged a couple of big pots (or at least 3/4 of a couple of big pots) in Omaha to finish the night up a bit after being stuck bad early. I think most folks had a good time, even though nobody hit hands like Jim did. Looking like a couple of game possibilities this week, assuming I make it through the work week. Got a monster of a project that I'm pricing out, and if I get this one, my quota for '09 is pretty secure.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Winter Gathering Tournament Update

Here's the deal -

Private Blogger Tournament
Venetian Poker Room
Saturday, December 13th
$135 ($100 buy-in, $25 juice, $10 toke)

Please email me your real name and blogger name if you want in. I need to let Tim at the Venetian know by a week beforehand. If you have FOBs (friends of bloggers) who want in, let me know how many.

You have to have a Venetian Player's Card to play, so if you don't have one, get there early.

Bring knockout bounties, that's the coolest part of a blogger gathering.

Friday, November 07, 2008

In which we write about poker for a change

So there have been a couple of trips to Vegas since I last regularly updated this here blog (yeah, sorry about that, been a really busy time in the non-blog life, and not much going on at the home game, so not much fodder for the blog. Hell, you should just follow me on twitter, I ramble less there anyway), so I figured I should probably write about them at some point.

I went out for Sir Brian the Red's 40th birthday, hit a high hand jackpot and still lost $1,600 in five days.

That one's out of the way, at least.

Most of it was only due to moderately donkish play, but a lot of bad situations that I should have been good enough to get out of, but wasn't. It happens. Meh.

Then I went back less than two weeks later for work. I took Suzy along so she could mooch free meals off of manufacturers and we added a day off on the front end and back end. I covered the front end and Suzy's tournament success in another post, but the day at the back end was a lot of fun and pretty relaxing, actually. We got up whenever we felt like it and wandered over to see the tiger cubs at the Mirage. They were every bit as ridiculously cute as you would expect, and the baby dolphin was also adorable. We had a good time with that, then wandered down to the Bellagio to see the fall decor at the conservatory.

In addition to being a costumer, Suzy loves the flowers, so she was in hog heaven. The fairies and watermill were very cool, and the big tree with eyes that followed you around the room was pretty spiffy. Nice lighting, too (it is, after all, kinda my gig). Then we watched the fountain show, which never really gets old for me. We had a decent, if less extravagant than the business dinners we'd had the previous three nights, and I headed down to the poker room at the IP to see how life was going there. We were stuck about $650 for the trip, and I wanted to make a last surge and book a win before we left. I sat in the open seat at a 1/2 table and bought in for $100. I've taken to buying short while I try to figure out the table, and if it's soft enough, I build that up quickly enough. If the table's tough, I probably blow through a hundy pretty quickly and just head off in search of greener pastures.

This looked like a pretty good table, with one kid wearing the whole getup, iPod, noise-cancelling headphones, sunglasses at night, the whole deal. I figured he was either going to double me up or stack me, because that's kinda how you earn your Junior Douchebag merit badge nowadays. He was a decent player, and he and his buddy were in town from Colorado. That actually helped me evaluate how to play him, since Colorado also has no legal real poker (but they did just pass a law allowing you to bet up to $100, I think, which should help the games there quite a bit), so he either was an online guy without much live experience or just a kid without much live experience. I pegged him as someone who was very impressed with himself and figured I could take advantage of that a little.

I was right and wrong. He was impressed with himself. He didn't have much live experience. And he did double me up. But he was a good player, and I got lucky to get money out of him. The first time we tangled I picked up Aces in middle position and raised to $11. The table had been pretty tight, and my "yo to go" raise was a little stiff. I was pretty surprised when Junior re-popped me to $45, but since I had about $150 in front of me, I shrugged and stuck it all in the middle. He thought for a long time before finally laying it down, and by the way he agonized, I narrowed his range to just a few hands. He claimed Queens, and I believe it. He was a little too proud of the laydown for it to be anything smaller, and only a very few people fold Kings preflop.

A few hands later he went on uber-tilt when he folded what he claimed was pocket tens preflop in the face of a raise and a three-bet and the flop came out 10-high. The three-bettor's aces held up, and Junior was pissed. A little bit after this I picked up A-10 in late position and called a preflop raise. Flop came down Q-J-9, and I called a small bet from Junior looking for my gutshot. A player behind me went all in for not much more, and Junior and I both called. The turn was an 8, and I had to double-check to realize that I'd actually been double-gutted and now had the second nuts with a redraw to the nuts.

The action checked around, and when a King hit the river, I led out with a bet of about half my remaining stack. Junior went into the tank for a bit before making the crying call, and whined about his K-10 getting cracked by me hitting a 3-outer on the river. I might have mentioned something about him not being allowed to cry when he checked the turn and let me get there, but my recollection was a little fuzzy. I thought about playing more to try and exploit his tilt, but when I almost missed my straight on the turn realized that I wasn't thinking straight and racked up. So I made a nice little comeback, due in large part to a couple of lucky hands, but that's kinda how that happens.

Conservative does not equal bigoted

I was a little disturbed to see this article on CNN today. Obviously, when you lose a bunch of seats in Congress and a presidential election, a party is going to be a bit in disarray. But I think this is a little wrong-headed -

Pointing to measures in California, Florida and Arizona barring same-sex marriage that passed Tuesday, Perkins said President-elect Barack Obama's election did not mean the country had embraced liberal social views.

"There was clearly no mandate to shift the country to the left on social issues," Perkins said. "What Tuesday was, was a fact that people wanted change, and it's a rejection of a moderate view."

This bugs me a little. I know a lot of conservatives (and on some issues am one myself), and I know a lot of bigots. They aren't mutually exclusive, but by no means does being one automatically grant inclusion into the other group. In my never-ever-humble opinion, a big chunk of what you saw this week had practically nothing to do with social issues, and was almost entirely about economic issues. People saw a Republican in the White House, their 401(k) plan in the shitter, and voted in the other direction. It certainly didn't hurt that Obama was the most inspiring political speaker I've seen in my lifetime, but if we'd been cruising along with cheap gas and a Dow over 12,000, it may have been a whole different outcome on Tuesday.

But the politics of hate are not going to be successful much longer, and that's what Prop 8 was about. If the Census Bureau is right, then in 2042 (significantly less far away than it once seemed) non-white people will outnumber white people in the US. That means that if you're only appealing to white people, you're going to increasingly have issues in the upcoming years. And the narrow Gingrich/Rove politics of the recent GOP will continue to have issues.

For the record, I'm not a Democrat. I'm a fiscally conservative socially liberal registered independent who voted a split-party ticket for both state and local elections, and I'm a little disturbed to see the huge Democratic majority in my local government now. I think it's better when there's some dissent, and would like to see the Republicans take back at least one house of Congress in the mid-term elections to create that dissent. I know a lot of people consider my support for Obama to not be fiscally conservative, but I at least hope he remembers what it was like to be broke, and tries to look out a little more for lower-income folks than McCain, who has never been poor. But hey, the only thing I'm really an expert on is my opinion, so there it is.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Day

Today is the day. The day that (unless we have a repeat of the ungodly limbo of 2000) that all the noise will be over. So maybe tomorrow we can all be friends again.

I apologize to anyone who I have hurt by my words and opinions through this election season. It was never my intent. I think that it was very easy to get caught up in the fervor of the moment and cast broad aspersions that hit closer to home than I intended, and for that I'm sorry.

I hope you get out and vote. I don't care for who. If you wanna vote for the old white guy, go for it. If you wanna vote for the less old black dude, go for it. If you wanna vote for Bob Barr, then go for it.

I stood in line for over 6 hours on Saturday to vote, and would do it again. I saw people that were inspired by politics for the first time in their life. I saw people who were re-energized about what role they could play in deciding the leadership of our country, and all that was very heartening. I hope they paid as much attention to the local races as to the national one.

That's what unfortunately gets lost in the hype of a presidential election - the races where your vote not only counts, but is critical. The county council races, the state senate races, the gubernatorial races. Those are the races where you can affect real change, and the ones where you should pay the most, not the least, attention.

I had a moment to chat in line with the chairman of the Mecklenburg County Commission. She was out campaigning on Saturday and pushing for the bond referendum. I told her that while she still had my vote, I was unlikely to vote for the bond package because I thought that this would be a terrible time for the county to borrow money. She then explained that the bond package was merely asking permission to borrow money at a later date, and that the county manager had already told the commission, who agreed, that they shouldn't borrow any money until 2010 at the earliest. I then told her what a crap job they had all done selling the bonds and that given that information, and the fact that I like the greenways we have for me to ride my bike on, I could vote for the bonds at that point.

We also chatted briefly about her compatriots on the Democratic At-Large ticket, and she expressed high hopes that these new folks would be elected. I told her I would likely be voting a split ticket, as I think Dan Ramirez does a good job on the County Commission, and that a lot of people would likely do the same. But that got me thinking - why do people vote a straight ticket? I have actually never voted a straight-party ticket and always felt like it was the province of the true believer (or the truly brainwashed) within a party. Since I think 99 44/100% of all politicians are assholes, I can't really be considered a true believer in either party.

But I realized something today that I hadn't really thought of (and feel free to respond with a "DUH!") - it's also the province of the lazy. People that don't want to take the time to think about individual candidates can vote a straight-party ticket and not have to do all that troublesome reading. You can decide whether you want to be an ass or an elephant, blue or red, and just vote that way. To me, it's a copout. If you're true believer that's one thing (but there's probably a little copout there, too), but if you're not a dyed-in-the-wool whatever, isn't part of your job to study the candidates for office, or not vote for that office?

I admit to not voting for judges in this election because I hadn't researched them. T gave me a list of Republican judges so I could vote the other way if I wanted. but all the flyers people were passing out in line talked about judges who were for "change." Well, call me crazy, but I don't want a district court judge who's looking for change. I want a judge that's looking to uphold. As in, uphold the laws that other people write. I know, what kind of liberal am I if I don't want activist judges? But I don't.

There was probably a point there somewhere, and if you find it, let me know. Anyway - go vote. It's your job.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

This is how controversy gets started...

So after I spent 6 1/2 hours waiting to vote, and I'm finishing up, I notice a woman being turned away and told that she can't vote because she doesn't have the right documentation. Now, I wasn't asked for any documentation, but I've been a registered voter in Mecklenburg County for a long time, and this is (I think) the 3rd presidential election that I've voted in since moving here. And we had one of the volunteer voting dudes (I don't know what the board of elections volunteers are called) come outside and explain to the crowd the following -

If you are registering to vote today, you must have photo ID and something the proves you reside in Mecklenburg County with you.

Now North Carolina allows you to register and vote the same day if you're doing early voting, which I didn't know until I looked up the early voting sites online. But if you're registering to vote, you have to have proof of residence, and a photo ID.

All good, right?

Now if you're a registered voter and you've voted in your county before (like me) you only have to prove your identity by telling them your name and address.

I did find it interesting that I was not asked to provide my birthdate, while the guy beside me and the woman behind me at the sign-in kiosk were asked for this additional piece of information.

Now the controversy begins here - If you are a registered voter and you have not voted in this county before, you must show a photo ID to prove that you are you. But according to the poll observer outside (because he was kicked out by the lady running the voting room over this disagreement) that is only to prove that you are you, and is not required to match the address given. For example, you could use a passport, which is a government-issued photo ID, but does not display your address. According to the woman in the voting room, if your photo ID does not show an address in Mecklenburg County, and you don't have proof of residence with you, then you can't vote, even if you have a voter registration card showing you're registered in Mecklenburg County and a photo ID showing that you are you.

So at least a couple of people waited in line for hours today only to be told that they couldn't vote because they registered early and only had their driver's license with them. Now we'll ignore for the moment the fact that you're supposed to immediately get a new driver's license when you move to a new state, and just say that this is the kind of thing that makes a fuss. Especially when the poll workers are all one level of pigmentation and the voters turned away (and asked to provide birthdays when I wasn't) are another level of pigmentation. I choose to believe that it is a misunderstanding of the finer points of election law rather than some underhanded desire to prevent people from voting, but I'm not the media types.

I just put it on the internet, but that's not media, right? Interestingly enough, there were no McCain supporters to be found anywhere in line around me. Are Republicans scared to vote in my neighborhood even in broad daylight? I thought they had all the firepower?