Patience Through Poker

Every time she emails me, my friend Wendie tells me how much she enjoys reading the blog – except when I write about poker! Wendie, go elsewhere today.

In real life, when I talk about my obsession for online poker (yes, I’ll admit it’s an obsession), the person on the other end of the conversation always brings up luck. There’s no doubt about it, poker is affected by luck – but only in the short term.

This is really important. Luck would be important if poker were just a card game. As played online and in casinos, it’s really more of a betting game – a very important distinction.

If you can quantify the odds of drawing a hand which will win, you can make educated decisions about when to hold ’em or fold ’em. Poker players talk about odds the pot is laying, an obtuse way of asking whether another bet is a good or bad idea.

I think that’s the part of my game which has improved the most. I understand the value of my bets and the value attached to the bets of others. It’s an imperfect system, because you really don’t know what cards your opponent is holding, but you can often tell by how he reacts to certain situations.

If you were to play against me, you’d see me be less aggressive when you’re a passive, though persistent opponents. Often times, passive play is a ploy to suck out bets from an inferior hand. Too often I’d bust out of a tournament by my own aggressive bet made against a superior hand held by someone playing possum.

Big talk for a guy who is not quite even after 2&#189 years of online play!

Actually, I was down to my last $20 a month or so ago. It upset me that I was going to bust out. I mustered whatever discipline I had and tightened my game.

All of a sudden, the swing began.

When I was down to my last $20, I was playing for very small stakes. I couldn’t afford to lose much at one sitting. I entered $3 + 40&#162 ‘turbo’ tournaments or $5 + 50&#162 ‘regular’ tournaments. The downside was small.. as was the upside.

As I began to play tonight, there was $165 in my bank. That leaves me $10 behind my starting point in August 2003&#185! Considering the tens of thousands of hands I’ve played (no exaggeration), and that the casino is pulling a small commission every time I sit down to play, I’m doing quite well.

I decided to play something a little higher risk tonight – a satellite tournament. For $5 + 50&#162, you enter a tournament to win a $530 entry in a much larger tournament (actually the main tournament will pay at least $1,000,000, shared among those ‘in the money’).

The $5 + 50&#162 amount is a little misleading, because you can rebuy for another $5 and then add-on for $5 more. I’m in for $15 + 50&#162, which bought me $5,000 tournament chips. Those paying the minimum got $1,500.

We started at midnight with 431 players. There were 824 re-buys and 217 add-ons. The $7,360 in the kitty means 13 players will cash out for $530. A 14th ‘only’ gets $470.

I played in a much cheaper version of this tournament last Saturday and missed the money by two positions. Ouch. One stupid bet at the end was the difference between something and nothing.

I’d like to do better tonight… obviously.

Nearly three hours in, there are 67 left. I’m in 4th. Obviously, that’s a good place to be, but not even close to a guarantee I’ll cash out.

If I’m not too depressed, I’ll let you know how I did later on.

Addendum – While I edited this entry, the game played on. Now only 50 are left. I’m in 7th place. No guarantees, but this is a good place to be.

Addendum II –

PokerStars Tournament #19966358, No Limit Hold’em

Super Satellite

Buy-In: $5.00

431 players

Total Prize Pool: $7360.00

Target Tournament #19571119 Buy-In: $530.00

13 tickets to the target tournament

Tournament started – 2006/02/22 – 23:59:00 (ET)

Dear ctwxman,

You finished the tournament in 1st place.

You qualified to play in Tournament #19571119 and are automatically registered for it.

See Tournament #19571119 Lobby for further details.

If you choose to unregister from this tournament your account will be credited

with $530.00 Tournament dollars. Tournament dollars can be used to buy into

any tournament.

Visit our web site at http://www.pokerstars.com/tournaments.html for more details.

Congratulations!

Thank you for participating.

I guess I’m up now!

&#185 – I originally bought in for $250. Along the way, a friend asked if I’d put $75 in his account, since it’s a pain in the butt to get the money to Costa Rica. That leaves a net of $175.

Sydney And The “Ohhhhh” Moment

I wanted to take my daily photo of Sydney, so I moved behind her with my camera. Slowly, she turned her head to catch a glimpse of what was going on.

When she saw it was me, she began to run in my direction. OK, run is a bad characterization. She gently walked in my direction and climbed onto my pajama pant leg.

It’s possible her eyesight is so poor she just kept walking until she hit an uphill barrier? I’m more inclined to think she wanted the companionship… and the back rub that comes with dog/human contact.

It was an “ohhhhh” moment. You know, something so genuinely sweet you have to say “ohhhhh.”

Earlier this morning, my friend Wendie sent this:

meanwhile.. we’re inching closer to replacing ivy, i see!!!

and don’t deny it.&#185

The same sentiment has been passed along by a few other friends who’ve caught the photos. It’s just not so.

We loved Ivy more than you can imagine. And we loved having the companionship and love a dog brings. We just have no desire to take on the responsibility again.

It would be different if we could ‘institutionalize’ a dog so we could go on vacation or have a day in the city. We can’t.

So, we will continue in the ‘dog grandparent’ mode – taking in borders from time-to-time and loving every second.

&#185 – A fund is being established for Wendie and everyone else who is capital letter challenged. We can work to find a cure.

Hurricane Wilma And South Florida

Helaine and I were asleep when the phone rang at 6:30 AM PDT. It was my friend Wendie, who lives and works in the Miami area.

Wendie left her house early Sunday evening and headed to a hotel. She expected her family would join her, though they never did. Everyone has checked in and is OK.

As someone who’s been through her share of hurricanes, Wendie has the proper perspective to make a qualitative comparative judgment. Wilma was the worst.

Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. Certainly, after years of being battered, each succeeding storm leaves you somewhat worse for wear. There’s no doubt Wendie was terrorized by Hurricane Wilma.

Reports from her neighbors tell her she has lost her porch. There might be more structural damage, but there’s no way to know right now.

Ask me how glad I am we made sure my parents got out early? Ask me how happy my parents are?

They’ve already been on the phone with neighbors who tell them there’s no power (same with Wendie) and many trees are down. One neighbor had a tree hit her window.

Google, Easy As Pi

I just got this email from my friend Wendie:

go find the EXACT number of new shares of stock that google will be

selling in its secondary offering announced today.

tell me what it reminds you of.

w

So, I did.

Google Inc. Files Registration Statement with the SEC for a Proposed Public Offering

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – August 18, 2005 – Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) announced today that it has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed public offering by the company of 14,159,265 shares of Class A common stock.

Get it?

It’s as easy as Pi (also known as &#028), which is 3. 14159265

Sometimes, ya’ just gotta love Google.

Blogger’s addendum: I almost forgot. The number of shares shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, Google is named after a number. A “googol” is 1 followed by 100 zeros.

Writing While Traveling

Over the past few years I’ve documented my vacation trips by writing about them here on the web. Usually, when I’m writing about life on the road, hits on this website go up&#185. Still, I have wondered whether it was really an exercise in futility, taking time away from my vacation?

Today I decided it was all worthwhile, and all because of the short emails I’ve gotten every day (as have a half dozen others) from my friend Wendie. She has left Miami for a quick vacation to Iceland!

Who would have thought to vacation in Iceland? Not me. But I have been reading Wendie’s notes with interest – looking forward to each one.

good morning to all.

it has snowed here overnight and the city is covered in a blanket of white….

hopefully it will not keep up.. i want to spend the morning putzing around downtown

a bit.. we leave for the airport at 1:30 pm…

yesterday was another amazing day… the golden circle tour…

geysers, waterfalls, craters, you name it.. this island is a volcanic wonderland.

the weather was windy.. but at least there was no precipitation…

another fabulous dinner.. at another fabulous restaurant.. i guess when

you spend 4 months of the year in almost total darkness, you learn how to cook.

and.. another cab driver who spends time each year in florida … this time orlando.

i’ll be home later tonight…

love to all,

w

They’re not long, but I’ve gotten a feel for her trip. Prices are high. Food is good. Sights are spectacular. It snows.

It’s like being there, without needing gloves. I’m glad she wrote. I’m probably not alone in feeling that.

&#185 – They go up in a dependable fashion, though not by great numbers. As it turns out, only about 1/3 of daily readers come to the home page first. Most of my readers have searched for something online (using Google, for instance) and go to an ‘inside’ page.

Watch Your Punctuation

I called my friend Wendie this afternoon. She must have already been on the phone because her voicemail picked up before the first ring.

I can’t remember all of her outgoing message, but I do remember how it ends. If you need to speak to someone at the assignment desk, “press zero and then pound on your phone.”

Pound on your phone! How cruel to the little telephone.

This is now the 21st century equivalent of, “Eat And Get Gas.”

Hard Luck at the Hard Rock

It didn’t take long for my first scheduling snafu. I had planned on seeing my friend Wendie while in Florida. I had changed the day three or four times, trying to make things mesh. I just never told my parents.

This afternoon in the car my mom told me she and my dad would be going to a concert while I went to dinner with Wendie. Uh… that’s Wednesday.

Thank heavens for cell phones. Before we were off the highway the dinner had been moved to tonight. We would meet at the Hard Rock Casino near Ft. Lauderdale after she was done at work.

I borrowed my folks car and headed south on Florida’s Turnpike. The trip was uneventful. I got off at Exit 53, turned left, turned right and right again to the casino.

At about that point the car started riding rough. I was worried something had gone wrong in the transmission. As soon as I got out I knew the problem was a little more pedestrian.

The left rear tire was flat. We’re not talking low here – this puppy was ready to fall off the rim. I called Wendie to tell her where to find me and then called AAA.

In Connecticut I have found AAA to be fine and very helpful. Not here – certainly not tonight.

I called and was told it would be an hour. When the hour was up, I called. “The trucks on the way.” When it didn’t show up, I called again… and again.

The truck showed up 1:45 after I placed the call! I am steaming.

Meanwhile, about 1:35 after placing the call I asked the valet attendant if he’d change it (and I’d pay him). The tow truck showed up as we were finishing. My folks Honda now sports three full size tires and one little donut.

Finally Wendie and I went in for dinner. The inside of the Hard Rock reminds me of their Las Vegas hotel. Except here there are no table games – no blackjack or craps – only slot machines and poker.

Our dinner was at the Hard Rock Restaurant, which considering it was Monday and by now late, was pretty empty. Wendie and I both had salads. Mine was excellent and she said she enjoyed hers as well.

Wendie is not a night person, so she headed home and I headed to the poker area. It’s not a room but an area cordoned off. As I approached I could see the entire rail area was full of people standing, waiting. I wasn’t getting in!

I picked up my car at the valet only to find this was the first casino valet that charged – $5.

I took it slow, considering one tire was not like the others. In the morning we’ll deal with getting it repaired or replaced.

Worried Sound

I spoke with my parents and my friend Wendie today and I heard the same thing from all of them – apprehension. With Hurricane Ivan threatening Jamaica, and the projected path aiming somewhere near Florida, they’re worried.

In the abstract, Hurricane Frances loomed as an adventure. In reality, it was a lot tougher to take – and they didn’t get a direct hit. It is tough under those circumstances not to think about the worst case scenario.

I made the offer again to my folks to come up here to Connecticut for a while. They begged off. No one wants to be driven from their home.

I hope, as is often the case, Ivan changes course and spares Florida. Unfortunately, you can’t will the forecast to happen.