Wednesday, May 31, 2006

TV extravaganza

Being an avid TV connoisseur isn’t as easy as it seems. To tell you the truth, it can actually be quite harmful to ones long-term emotional stability. This time of year is always the worst; the time when all the shows you’ve been following for the past months go on break for the summer. The characters you’ve been watching and relating with are snatched away from you by greedy station executives for months on end.

It’s not so much the cliffhanger season finales that get me. Frankly I’m not too interested in the specifics of what actually happens in the show. Instead, I enjoy knowing that every week on the same day at the same time I can just sit back and dive into an imaginary world for an hour and live the lives of the characters in question.

But I digress; back to the rant. The very worst thing is when a show is cancelled or otherwise discontinued. Two shows that spring to mind are Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls. Especially Dead Like Me was one of the wittiest, most original shows I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch. Discontinuing a show of that caliber should be outlawed, and the network executive who authorized it should be fired immediately. At least I can find solace in the fact that two seasons of this great show were made and aired, so that I can go back and re-watch those episodes whenever I feel the need to.

I don't believe it's a coincidence that as all the shows I watch have come to an end (for now), I have over the past few days crammed in as many as 15 Scrubs episodes a day to fill that void. It also helps with the withdrawal symptoms.

Anyway, here are some of my thoughts on the season finales and futures of various shows:

24
- The season finale was decent, but I didn't really have my hopes up either so I'm not disappointed. At least the writing staff gave me some indication that they aren't complete buffoons by actually referencing the Chinese. Throughout the whole season Jack has casually strolled around with no mention of the fact that the Chinese want to kill him and that if they knew he were alive he'd be boned. Finally some closure was brought to that loose thread.

Prison Break - Another decent finale. It will be interesting to see what they do with the show now. The episode itself wasn't as good as I had hoped, but it wasn't bad.

Gilmore Girls - Not a bad episode, but all too predictable. You could basically tell this was coming weeks in advance.

Scrubs - A real curveball. I can't picture J.D as a dad at all. All in all, I think J.D becoming a dad could be very bad for the show. A baby just doesn't fit into my perception of J.D as an oddball, geeky loner-type.

The O.C - If Marissa really died, than my hats off to the writing team. If they really had the cojones to kill off one of the main characters like that, then I'm truly impressed. If it happens that Marissa actually didn't die, I'm seriously contemplating stopping watching the show altogether.

Veronica Mars - Not a good episode. The resolution to the whole seasons events just came out of nowhere. It's like the writers had been carefully constructing a nice web of plots and subplots, only to realise they had no logical, good, coherent way to tie them all together, so they went with the easy way out and just staged some big melodramatic scene to quickly end the episode.

House - As an episode, I was thoroughly impressed. I thought the writing in the episode was spectacular. Obviously the ending with the slicing the guys chest open was a touch over the top, but I still liked the episode. However, as a season finale, it didn't really accomplish much.

Grey's Anatomy - It's been weeks since I watched the finale, but from what I can remember it was good (as Grey's Anatomy always is). Some of Izzy's tripping out at the end was a bit too much, but it didn't hurt the episode at all.

Boston Legal - Whatever. Mainly cheese. Boston Legal has long ago lost all value to me, I just watch it for the off chance that Denny Crane will do something ridiculously stupid and funny again.

Sopranos - I have deliberately stopped watching Sopranos at episode s06e09 to wait for the season finale so that I can do a 4 episode, 4-hour long super punch of Sopranos to end the season. I find that Sopranos is a show that lends itself well to watching multiple episodes in a row. I don't know why.

Since I now have a ton of time to kill, I'm compiling a list of shows I'm going to watch over the summer. So far it consists of five seasons of Cold Feet, seven seasons of West Wing, two seasons of The Office US and two seasons of Lost. I may even have to whip out the old ten seasons of Friends if all else fails.

For now, adios from your friendly neighbourhood TV junkie.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

June goals

1. Play 25k hands.
2. Watch and analyse one CardRunners video every day.
3. Read and try to fully understand one hand from the 2+2 archives every day.
4. Analyse at least 5 hands from my PT database every day.
5. Read NLHETAP at least twice, actually stopping to analyse and think over what is said in the book.
6. Hire a coach for at least 1 hour to look over hand histories or watch me play and comment.
7. Stick to 3-4 tabling. Also, stick to NLHE.
8. Exercise at least 3 times a week.
9. Complete my Ladbrokes poker bonus. Complete Cherry Casino, Casino Euro and Betsson monthlies, and any other worthwhile casino bonuses that I stumble upon.
10. Finish rewatching seasons 3-5 of Scrubs and all episodes of the fantastic British show Cold Feet. Find new TV shows to watch. Rewatch the movie Capote.
11. Kick my pool nemesis's ass at 8-ball 15-0 again this month. Become a better snooker player.
12. Keep accurate and up-to-date records of all my sessions to better establish exactly how well I'm doing.

But most importantly: STOP PLAYING LIKE A STUPID SPEWFISHTILTMONKEY.

If I can accomplish all these goals, I'm going to be super happy.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Spew

spew Audio pronunciation of "spew" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (spy)
v. spewed, spew·ing, spews
v. tr.
  1. To send or force out in or as if in a stream; eject forcefully or in large amounts: a volcano that spewed molten lava; spewed invective at his opponent.
  2. To vomit or otherwise cast out through the mouth.

v. intr.
  1. To flow or gush forth: Water was spewing from the hydrant.
  2. To vomit.

n.
Something spewed.


[Middle English spewen, from Old English spwan.]

My game right now = spew.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Coaching

First off, I must note that deep-stacked HU with a donkey calling station = ++++++EV.

I'm feeling a bit melancholy right now, because I just had my last guitar lesson ever with my guitar teacher who I've had for the past 7 years. He really is the coolest guy, and it really meant a lot to me when he said that I have the necessary skills to pursue a career in music. He's also the person who turned me on to Miles Davis and Coltrane etc. Good times.

This now puts me in a pickle. When I move to England in the fall I have to choose whether or not to get a new teacher. I've been playing for like 11-12 years so I can say with confidence that I know how to play guitar, and I don't really have any aspirations to pursue a career in music, so I'm a bit torn. I realize that for my continued development as a guitarist a teacher will help immensely. But as I said, I've gotten to the point where I don't really need to get better as a guitarist (I'm not saying that I couldn't get better, I'm just saying I feel little need to). Frankly I don't know what I'm going to do yet.

This conveniently leads me to another issue I've been thinking of lately. I don't have a poker coach. It's obvious to me that had I not had a guitar teacher ever since my first week of playing guitar I wouldn't be half the guitarist I am now. So why don't I have a poker coach? I have no doubt that getting one would be extremely valuable for my development as a poker player. The only obstacle I face is that poker coaches are ridiculously expensive. $100/hr seems to be the industry standard minimum price to get anyone worth getting. But my bankroll has over the past few months grown to the point where I can take that hit (for a couple of hours at least). I'm going to have to start looking into coaches. Fox (of PokerFox.net) is the obvious choice, but I'm gonna sniff around a bit before I run straight into his arms.

Anyway, that's all for now.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Poker as a summer job (of sorts)

Since I have nothing else to do, and because I like money, I'm going to play poker for a summer job of sorts. I say of sorts, because I have no expenses other than pool and Subway, so I don't really need a summer job and whether or not I make money over the summer playing poker doesn't really matter. However, I do want to make money and will be very disappointed if I come out in a few months time having not won a significant amount of cash.

The plan is: quantity. My goal is to play 25k hands a month at 100NL 6-max to start off. I figure I'll play 1000 hands a day and have a few days off to keep my sanity. Getting the hands in shouldn't be too bad, barring some super bad variance + tilt. I'm going to try to get in two sessions day, 4-tabling. If I can manage to run at 5 PTBB/100 (which I expect I can), that'll amount to $100/day, which is just smashing. I'll also do a little casinowhoring on the side (not much though, probably just a few monthlies) for some extra cash. Assuming everything goes to plan, I'll be making the move up to 200NL 6-max near the end of June.

I'll track my progress here, but I probably won't be updating every day, since 1. I don't feel like it, and 2. I'd like my blog to amount to something more than "Today I won $74."

That is all.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Choose life.

So far today I've written out three different entries and deleted them all. For different reasons I'm not going to publish them here. Instead, I'm going to list some of the things that I want to do before I turn 20. This means that I have until late August 2007 to accomplish the following:

1. Visit London
2. Visit New York
3. Improve as a poker player to the point where I can generate enough money from playing part-time during my university studies that I don't have to rely on my parents to pay all my bills.
4. Play poker in a casino
5. Do something disgustingly decadent like high-stakes blackjack or €100 shots of Remy Martin Louis XIII cognac.

"The reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got heroin?"

It's about time I start doing something with my life before I get sucked into that rat race to mortgage loans; debt repayments; 2 kids, a dog and a house in the suburbs; a mid-life crisis; humping a 9 to 5 job for minimum wage; working your ass off for your whole life and being rewarded with a handshake and a pension that couldn't support anyone. As long as I don't become that guy, I'll be happy.

My old motto: "There's no need for kindness."

My new motto: "There's nothing good about being average."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Update

I'm currently about 75% done with my tests. I only have two Finnish tests and three Chemistry tests and I'm officially done with senior high school forever. Needless to say I've been crushing all of my tests so far, and intend to keep on doing so.

Anyway, the main reason I'm making this entry is because I've noticed that I've started doing something. Say I have a test a 9:00 AM. I wake up at 6:45, eat, shower etc. till 7:35 when I get on a bus. At 8:00 I arrive at my school, then get myself into the right mental state by sitting listening to music, walking a bit, getting some fresh air etc. till 8:45 when I enter the test hall. Every day so far I've had exactly the same routine. To compound on that, I've noticed that the music I listen to in the morning follows the same kind of set routine. Before 7:35 I don't listen to any music. From 7:35-8:30 I listen to a mix of Sufjan Stevens, Iron & Wine, Coltrane, Augustana, The White Stripes, Arcade Fire and Ambulance Ltd. Nothing else. Then from 8:30-8:45 I listen only to the following songs:
  • Touch The Sky by Kanye West
  • Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes
  • 99 Problems by Jay-Z
  • Eye of the Tiger by Survivor (obviously)
  • Jungle Boogie by Kool and the Gang
Also, the very last song I listen to before going into the test hall is always Touch The Sky by Kanye West (I just can't get enough of that horn part). By following this strict schedule every day, I make sure I'm mentally prepared to absolutely destroy any test that comes in my way. Plus I'm 100% focused on the upcoming test.

I realised that I have absolutely no set routine when I start playing poker. Instead I say to myself that I'll sit down at the computer around 9:ish and surf the internet for a bit then start playing. So from now on, especially over the summer when I intend to play poker as a summer job of sorts, I'm going to try and establish a set routine that I will do before each session to get me into the right mindset to play. I hope this will help me bring my 100% focus and my "A"-game right off the bat to each session I play. I haven't figured out all the details yet, but I'm pretty sure the routine will consist of one part datamining, one part Coltrane and one part choosing the music I'm going to listen to while playing.

As a closing thought, I just passed the $1500 made from casinowhoring mark today. I still stand by my claim that if you aren't casinowhoring right now you're throwing away money.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Some thoughts on playing different forms of poker

Apart from poker and watching TV shows, my only real pastime is playing guitar. I’ve been playing for around twelve years now, and during that time I’ve gone from amateur chord strummer to Yngwie Malmsteen shred-monster wannabe to Wes Montgomery jazz guitar enthusiast and back. Over those twelve years I’ve played pop, rock, punk, heavy metal, jazz, swing, fusion, funk, folk, classical and even electronic music (who still remembers Kraftwerk?). I mention this because in my opinion I wouldn’t be half the player I am today without having gone through all these different genres, each with their own characteristic guitar technique and theory. My heavy metal phase greatly improved my manual dexterity and two-handed tapping technique, but did little to further my knowledge and understanding of chord inversions, improvising over II-V-I chord sequences or improving my finger picking skills. Conversely my time spent plucking out the sweet acoustic sounds of Simon & Garfunkel and Bob Dylan improved my songwriting and finger picking, but did little towards my mastering the different modes of the major scale or memorizing the different fingerings of the A-minor pentatonic scale.

Similarly, over the course of my poker career, I’ve played limit hold ‘em, no limit hold ‘em, Omaha 8-or-better hi-lo split, five card draw and razz. I’ve also switched between cash games, sit-n-goes, multitable tournaments and heads-up sit-n-goes. Undoubtedly, switching between all these different games and formats has helped me become a better all around poker player. But herein lies the crux of the dilemma that I face. Is it better to be a good all around poker player, or to be a good player at one specific form of poker?

In poker, money is all that counts. In the end, who the best all around poker player is doesn’t really matter at all. Whether you made $1000 playing a mix of five card draw, razz and Chinese poker, or you made $1000 playing only seven stud hi-lo, it doesn’t matter. $1000 is $1000 wherever it came from. What I think makes the difference here is that it takes time and effort for you to become a good player who can make $1000 playing any form of poker. Say it takes you 10 hours of study to become a super seven card stud jedi master who has an hourly rate of $1000. It also takes you 10 hours to master five card draw, 10 hours to master razz and 10 hours to master Chinese poker. In the 20 hours that you spent mastering razz and Chinese poker you could have made $20000 playing just seven card stud.

Playing other variants of poker will make you better at the others is a common argument made by players who support playing multiple different forms of poker. Take this next contrived example:

Say your hourly rate multitabling the 2/4 6-max NL game on Party Poker is $100. If you stick to that game, you will improve as a player and your hourly rate will improve by $10 every week. Now say that your hourly rate in a 3/6 limit Omaha 8-or-better hi-lo split game is $20. Anyone smarter than a drunken buffoon can see that from a strictly monetary point of view you should stick to the no limit game. But what if by playing in the Omaha game, you can improve some aspect of you poker skills that is better illustrated in Omaha than in no limit hold ‘em, and by doing so you could increase your hourly rate in the no limit game by $20 after one week of play. Is it worth sacrificing $80 times the number of hours played per week in profit for one week to increase your no limit hourly rate by $10 more than you could have by sticking in the no limit game? In the long run it may be a profitable decision, but in the short run assuming you play 20 hours a week you have cost yourself $1600 in profit for that one week. Of course the numbers in my example may be extreme but they go show that there is a definite opportunity cost of playing games other than your best game.

In my opinion, for a player who is just splashing around, hoping to make a few bucks and treats poker as only a hobby, playing all different variants of poker will pay off. Not only will you get to try out all the different games and see which one you like best, the switching will help keep away the boredom of the infamous grind and thus it will be much easier to approach poker as a hobby and as something that is fun to do. The only drawback with playing all the different games is that your relative skill level in each individual game will increase at a much slower rate than if you were to focus on one game. That is why for the player who one day wishes to play poker for a living or at the least wishes to play at the very highest levels possible, I think sticking to one game and mastering that one variant is the best approach. By diverting the maximum amount of your poker playing time to one specific form of poker, you get the most bang for you buck. An additional advantage of this approach is that in the future if you wish to start playing other variants of poker, the overall poker knowledge and skill you will have accrued over the time you spent playing that one particular game will make it relatively much easier to pick up on the intricacies of other variants of poker, compared to if you start playing each new variant as a complete novice.

Monday, May 01, 2006

End of Weekend Challenge + A Fond Farewell


2,014 hands, +$203.00, 10.08 PTBB/100

Sunday was a pretty up and down day, mostly down. Luckily in literally the last five minutes of my playing I was able to stack someone twice, first with a flush and then with a set to pull back to even for the day.

Overall I'm very happy with my play. I only made one play during the whole weekend where I completely donated my whole stack (AA vs. a set). My PTBB/100 would be even higher if it weren't for your handful of typical bad beats (e.g. QQ vs. J9 all-in on 953 flop, KK vs. A7 all-in preflop). Still, I can't complain with 10.08 PTBB/100.

Anyway, now that the Weekend Challenge is over I'm going cut out all poker related jibber jabber* from my life for the next three weeks. I have my last final on the 19th, and after I finish that I'm going to really kick the poker into high gear. As I'm now 18 (well, almost 19) I can finally go to a casino. The only(?) casino in Finland is the Grand Casino Helsinki, and I've been browsing through their site and they have a €2/€2 €200 buy-in NL game going every night. My goal for the summer is to build my bankroll up to the point where I can withdraw ~€500-€800 and then sometime in late July - early August go visit the casino (and obviously crush the game). However, that won't be happening till three weeks from now, so till then, adios.

I leave you with the closest I'll ever become to being Mahatma, aka the river overbet push finally worked. This is also my favourite hand from the weekend:

FullTiltPoker Game #604636763: Table Stardust (6 max) - $0.25/$0.50 - No Limit Hold'em - 18:26:22 ET - 2006/04/30
Seat 1: judocarrot ($48.50)
Seat 2: jokersjinx ($26.50)
Seat 3: xpokermattx ($37.35), is sitting out
Seat 5: BikStik8585 ($54.95)
Seat 6: jtheo7 ($50.10)
jokersjinx posts the small blind of $0.25
BikStik8585 posts the big blind of $0.50
The button is in seat #1
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to judocarrot [Js 7s]
jtheo7 folds
judocarrot raises to $1.75
jokersjinx folds
BikStik8585 calls $1.25
*** FLOP *** [2h Kd 8s]
BikStik8585 checks
judocarrot bets $3
BikStik8585 calls $3
*** TURN *** [2h Kd 8s] [6s]
BikStik8585 checks
judocarrot bets $7.50
BikStik8585 calls $7.50
*** RIVER *** [2h Kd 8s 6s] [5s]
BikStik8585 checks
judocarrot bets $36.25, and is all in
BikStik8585 calls $36.25
*** SHOW DOWN ***
judocarrot shows [Js 7s] (a flush, Jack high)
BikStik8585 mucks
judocarrot wins the pot ($95.25) with a flush, Jack high
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $97.25 | Rake $2
Board: [2h Kd 8s 6s 5s]
Seat 1: judocarrot (button) showed [Js 7s] and won ($95.25) with a flush, Jack high
Seat 2: jokersjinx (small blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 3: xpokermattx is sitting out
Seat 5: BikStik8585 (big blind) mucked [Td Kc] - a pair of Kings
Seat 6: jtheo7 didn't bet (folded)


* Boston Legal is still pretty crap