|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Friday, May 28, 2004
Limping In With Nothing
Three days of work and seven of vacation in the next ten. I’m a happy guy.
The babysitter downstairs for the neighbor kid was pacing outside under my living room window last night talking on her phone rather loudly. I wanted to transcribe her conversation and post it, but it wasn’t interesting beyond the first quote here that caught my attention:
”Who drives a Rolls Royce around here anyway? It was like a fucking Cruella DeVille car.I don’t know whether the babysitter was cute or not. Normally, I consider myself a good judge based on just hearing a voice as to whether a girl is attractive or not. In my previous job, I had a contact at another company that had this ultra sexy smoky voice, and I was confident she’d be a good looking girl. I paid a visit, and she turned out to be easily one of the top ten hottest women I’ve ever had the opportunity to share a cup of coffee with. Another contact had one of those delicate French names, and a voice that convinced me she’d be porcelain doll perfect. Which she was, in that Celine Dion sort of way (very French-Canadian looking).
This babysitter didn’t sound hot. That being said, she is the chosen babysitter for the child of my hot neighbor, and you and I both know that hot girls tend to stick together. So now I’m curious. I can make the speculative case that this babysitter is likely to be either hot or not.
I’ll keep you posted.
The Other Genius (link in sidebar at right) had an interesting take on the complaining going on by Annie Duke, Phil Helmuth, and others getting bounced out of this year’s WSOP. With 2,000 plus entries, and a significant percentage of these coming from the online poker sites, this isn’t just your grandpop’s dark backroom game anymore.
He talks a bit about the “I can’t believe he called me with that bet” attitude the pros are taking, and analyzes some reasons why your above-average online player is not respecting the “moves” some of the pros are trying to make.
In other words, it’s interesting that the WSOP game, due to the influx of online players, is starting to resemble to some degree the quality of play in the online game.
“I’m Annie Duke, and you should fold when I raise your straight draw” isn’t working. While I’m sure that the brick & mortar pros aren’t amused by this turn of events, I can’t imagine any online player not smiling a little bit at the way sucking out has turned into an art form in the online world.
Here’s the short and the long of it. Any pro that limits himself to brick & mortar card rooms only is doing himself a disservice. In order to remain competitive, you not only have to learn how to read and bust out a math genius like Chris Ferguson, but you also have to know how to adjust your play for the “I’ll see that raise, maybe I’ll luck into a straight flush with my two gap suited hole cards” mentality that is so pervasive in the online world.
Call it moronic play if you want, but if I can play 35s to the flop five times cheaply, and catch a monster once, I can quite possibly make quite a bit more than the 5XBB it had cost me to see those flops with that ugly hand. Plus, the added bonus is that the other players, especially the pros, wouldn’t be likely to put me on that hand the first time I limp through and catch. It’s a dangerous strategy, but certainly could be extremely profitable under certain circumstances. In other words, if I’m playing this way, I’ve got to catch a set, a ragged straight, or better at least once every five to six times I do this in order to make it work.
By the way, that’s the “speculative I” I’m referring to above. God knows I don’t personally have the balls to make consistent calls with low one gap suited cards in the hole.
Don’t think for a minute with 2,000 plus players there aren’t a few dozen that have a horseshoe planted up their ass (the way Moneymaker did last year) and have taken the art of the suckout on the road to Binion’s this year. As poker continues to boom, I can certainly see the luck factor dropping the hammer on very talented and experienced players, but ultimately in this game, the cream should continue to rise to the top.
Thursday, May 27, 2004
The Pauly v BG Weekly Challenge Part Deux
I think Pauly already feels badly for the whole Tony Randall / Elvin Jones death fiasco last week. He's throwing me a gimme.
Over/Under on Shrek 2's Memorial Day Box Office Take: $151 Million
The quote below taken from the website linked in the title, Box Office Guru (I looked this up after greedily grabbing the under):
"No ice storms in the world will cool down the red hot Shrek 2 which DreamWorks hopes will continue its reign atop the box office charts. After a scorching $129M five-day debut, the computer-animated mega-sequel has continued to pack in the multiplexes with a terrific $11.5M on Monday (helped by the Victoria Day holiday in Canada) and a solid $8M on Tuesday. Don't expect a repeat of the first Shrek's performance, however. That film watched its four-day Memorial Day weekend gross climb 30% from its opening frame as word-of-mouth brought in the non-believers over the sophomore frame.
This time, Shrek 2 is a known quantity which explains the eye-popping turnout last weekend. Positive buzz and a nation with extra leisure time will certainly help keep ticket sales brisk. A 40% decline over the three-day span would not be surprising. That would lead to a four-day holiday tally of around $76M boosting the 13-day tally to a gargantuan $238M."
A Quick PSA
If you're a dude, and you're standing behind a dude in line, and there aren't enough people in line behind you to make the line cramped, if you can touch the dude in front of you on the shoulder without fully extending your arm, you're too close to said dude.
Take one small step backward, and maybe I'll stop grinding my teeth with irritation.
Well, I guess you’re gambling then…
Why no update yesterday? Not only was my boss in town, but he stayed all day long.
Staying on track every single working minute takes a lot out of a guy.
Anyway, at home last night, I poured myself a glass of wine (a 2002 Covey Run Lemberger from Washington state, excellent $15 bottle) and sat down to play a little $1/$2 Limit to continue to get my game on track.
I went up right away after catching a couple of nice hands. I made the unconscious decision, with all those extra chips I’d been raking, to loosen up and play a few hands I normally wouldn’t.
Tilting, but in a good way.
From the small blind I called one raise with 34 of Hearts. Flop puts bookends on an open-ended straight flush draw for me. I check call, and catch the 6 of diamonds, at least giving me a straight. At this point, I’m confident I’m up against nothing better than two pair, and check raise, bringing the pot down to myself and one other. The river is a Queen, and she bets out, I raise, she calls.
She’s beaten. I cracked her Aces in the hole.
(not the chat transcript, just a recreation)
Her: “How can people stay in on 34?”
BG: “When you’re four to the straight flush draw, it’s easy”
Her: “I meant before the flop”
BG: “Well, there’s textbook poker, and there’s gambling”
Her: “I guess you’re gambling then”
Her: “I still don’t know how you can play those two cards at all”
BG: “If I play them and I catch, good luck putting me on a hand”
I managed to see one pre-flop raise from the SB on the next orbit with 22, and caught the set on the flop with junk, and made a tidy little profit on that hand too.
Of course, I continued to chase for the next half hour, and gave a little bit of the money I had made back to those I had been browbeating. From my $50 buy-in, I was as high as $82, and never lower than $48.
I finished up my session with $62, a net +6BB, which isn’t bad for playing on that fun little tilt.
Of course, had I not been tilting, I could have made a lot more money off of that table last night.
T-Minus Seven Days…
Exactly seven days from now, I’ll be sitting in the stands at Churchill Downs in Louisville, watching top level thoroughbred racing live for the first time in my life.
I do see these horses run all the time on the OTB simulcast, but between being in the most storied track in America, and watching the top thoroughbreds compete, it’s a different feeling altogether.
By the way, I work today (Thursday) and Friday, then only Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. That means that over the course of the next eleven days, I’m only working four of them. Nice!
I’ve only seen live horse racing at two tracks previously. Great Lakes Downs features a half-step above the very bottom of the barrel of horse racing. Only Portland Meadows generally has worse thoroughbred racing as far as I’m aware. I’ve also been out to Evanston, Wyoming to Wyoming Downs, which features almost entirely quarter horse racing.
Quarter horse racing is an incredibly tough nut to crack, as you’ve got big fields (normally 10-14 horses) running a short distance (normally no more than 500 yards). If the favorite doesn’t get the best break out of the gate, they may have lost the race before they take their first stride.
Thoroughbreds, on the other hand, run a minimum of four furlongs (half a mile), and with that distance as long as it is, a horse’s running style can come into play. With only 400 yards to race, a jockey can’t count on holding his horse back for the right moment to strike. There’s no strategy. Get out of the gate, get to the line. With four or more furlongs, a jockey can rate his horse near the back of the pack, and pick and choose his moment to make a move. It’s a far more interesting sport.
This brings me to Al’s question in regards to June 5th’s Belmont Stakes.
What will the reduced field do to Smarty Jones’ chances? Help him or hurt him?
First off, Al, I’m guessing all you have to do is make a quick pass through your AM sports radio dial to get that answer. Smart money says that’s about all the hosts are talking about now that the Flyers have been bounced.
Anyway, let’s talk about the Belmont and Triple Crown in general.
At the top levels of talent, the thoroughbred is treated as a talented but fragile athlete. While a low level claimer may run more than 35 times in a year, never more than once in a week, the best of the breed may face fewer than a dozen starts over the course of the year. Some of this does have to do with the fact that a horse’s home track doesn’t necessarily offer $250k Grade I stakes races on their weekly card, but quite a bit of it has to do with the impression that these horses are not capable of running at their peak thirty to fifty times in a season.
Workhorses, they are not.
Eleven horses (give or take, I’m doing this from memory) have won the Triple Crown, none since 1978.
Number one, it takes an exceptional athlete to run this gauntlet. Only once in a horse’s life will they be exposed to as many races over these varied distances in this short a timeframe as they will be during their three year-old campaign. I’m not just referring to the big three races either. Add in the obligatory prep races (Wood Memorial, Arkansas Derby, Santa Anita Derby), and a true Triple Crown contender generally races five to seven times, each at more than one mile in distance, over a March to early June window.
Keep in mind, these are three year-old horses. These are not horses that have reached their peak of athletic maturity. They’re being asked to run distances they haven’t before, and run more races bunched together than they ever have previously.
Secondly, the Belmont Stakes is not only a required win for immortality, but it represents the most enormous hurdle of the three Triple Crown races. Not only is this race at the longest distance (1.5 miles – longest by at least ¼ mile) of the three, but it is the final race of the spring season for these three year-olds. Most likely, it represents their sixth or seventh race in about twelve weeks. They’ll never run that many in twelve weeks again.
And the competition at the Belmont can often be fierce. This year, for example, two very intriguing thoroughbreds – Rock Hard Ten and Eddington – who didn’t qualify for the Derby, did in fact make a solid impression at the Preakness. While no one could have caught Smarty Jones in anything slower than an Italian sports car, there is little doubt that RHT and Eddington are much fresher competitors than Smarty Jones is at this point.
This is part of the reason why good-but-not-great horses get tripped up at the Belmont. They’re tired, and a fresher horse finds a way to eke out the victory.
So what exactly does the smaller field mean for Smarty Jones? I think that question is best answered by asking it another way. What does the smaller field mean for one of his top competitors, Rock Hard Ten? RHT is a huge colt, and still a little green in his racing history. I think a smaller field benefits this horse tremendously. Horses don’t generally like running in traffic, and they don’t like to be bumped around. Especially the young ones. If RHT is given room to stretch out and run, he could be very, very dangerous.
I don’t think Smarty Jones would have any problems in a six horse or sixteen horse field. He’s getting great trips, is rating beautifully for each distance, and certainly seems to be the obvious class of the three year-old group.
The only thing I worry about is fatigue. I believe RHT has the ability to have improved from the Preakness, and will present a big challenge to Smarty Jones. He’s a huge horse, and a huge horse has a huge engine. RHT was bred to run at distance, and I firmly believe that RHT will be a strong contender in graded stakes races at the top levels as long as they continue to trot him out to the gate.
But I hope, as does the rest of America, that school is still in session for RHT, and Smarty Jones teaches the whole field a lesson about what being a champion is all about.
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
The Hard Headed Never Learn
Don’t rock the boat, you’ll scare the fish!
That being said, what if the fish are the ones doing the rocking? I’m already prone to motion sickness, and even though I finished my 90 minute session on the $2/$4 tables up 7.5BB, I was nauseous by the end of the ride.
When I sat down initially, there was one guy that was cleaning up, everyone else was under their original $100 buy-in (assuming that’s what they sat down with). Then, I sat witness to an unbelievable run.
The only hand I contested with this dude in the course of the 30 minutes of magic he was about to be blessed with was his first in the run. I had KQo in the hole, and saw an unraised pot to the flop with a few others. Two suited cards matching my King (including the Ace), but nothing else of value for me. I bailed when Horseshoe-Up-The-Ass (HUTA) came out with a bet first. He had two check calling him all the way through the river, which provided him (and would have provided me) a runner-runner flush with his pocket sevens.
I saw him see two bets on a ragged flop with K6, which gave him nothing. He rivered his King.
He played a 68o UTG and landed an 886 flop.
He saw 69s (to my T2 of the same suit I folded pre-flop) hit his flush and pay off.
For 30 minutes, he won four of every five pots on the table. I was smart enough (and was getting enough junk) to stay the heck out of the way. His run was a net +20BB take in those 30 minutes.
Of course, thankfully, he paid a little bit of that back to me later when my A3s from the BB flopped two more diamonds, and rivered my nut flush.
That being said, I mentioned it was a topsy-turvy session for me. From my initial buy-in, at any single point you would have seen $45-$155 in my stack.
When your bankroll on Party is only $146 when you sat down initially, being down $55 is more than a little scary.
One poker truth I uncovered about myself on Monday: I had been a little scared of sitting down at the Limit tables again because of the way cards haven’t been coming for me online lately. WBT III excluded, I had been getting soundly trounced session after session.
And you can’t play scared. Yes, I laid down a couple of winners on the flop on Monday, but I can’t expect to see runner-runner pay off for me on a consistent basis. That’s playing smart. Playing scared, for me at least, is when I stop seeing each hand I’m involved with in a vacuum, and instead start to see $2 and $4 raises as serious divots to my bankroll.
I chose $2/$4 Monday night for two reasons. First, I wanted to walk out on the ledge with my bankroll. Second, the $1/$2 tables were a little more full.
And after a few weeks of self-doubt, feeling like I couldn’t risk my bankroll at the Limit tables, I just decided I need to suck it up and jump back on in.
And I remembered that I can play this game.
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
After her husband failed to maintain his erection for her, she is interested in dog sex for sexual orgasm. Can she have a dog tie? Dr. Lin's saddest advice! She had experienced powerful multiple orgasms with the high-temperature dog penis and seme: "Since I wrote you last Dr. Lin, I have been fucked by my Rottweiler twice. My husband assisted in the coupling and was very turned on by how the dog fucked me. The dog fucked me for about thirty minutes each time until he was absolutely exausted."
I am linked on the same Google page as this dude, right here.
Monday, May 24, 2004
And the password is…
Family dinner last night at Mom’s joint, and after dinner we break out the handheld electronic version of “Taboo” to play.
Taboo, for the uninitiated, is a game where I have to get my team to say a word (like “Ceiling”) without using the five disallowed words (in this case, “Up, Floor, House, Top, Above”).
I had my cousin and her friend from out of town, both 18, on my team.
If anyone is an EA Sports Madden NFL series player, you might remember what is lovingly referred to as the “Comeback AI,” which was when the computer would start making miracle plays against you late in the game to try to even up the score.
Taboo has comeback AI.
We’re sitting on a lead over my mom, M, and his fiancée, and all of a sudden we’re getting words like “isthmus,” “coagulate,” “Enrico Fermi,” and “dormouse,” while the other team is getting “cloud,” “potato,” and “tooth.”
They did end up beating us that round by one.
The highlight of the game was when my cousin had a word pop up that she didn’t know how to explain. She eventually needed only one clue, the derogatory word for a person from China that rhymes with “chink,” to get us to say “China.” It wasn’t funny that she said it, it was funny how embarrassed she got that the only clue she could come up with to explain the most populated country on the planet was that. Couldn’t she have just said, “Sweet and Sour Pork is from…” and had the same success?
Actually, I do think it’s rather funny sometimes to look at the underlying absurdity of all this political correctness, and say something outlandish just for the sake of doing so. Now, this isn’t stuff I’d say to strangers, but in the right company can be hilarious.
For example, have you seen the new Pringles cans with the red, white, and blue chips inside? Someone, in their infinite wisdom, named them “Colored Potato Chips” on the can. I picked that can up in the supermarket yesterday and showed it to my cousin. “Isn’t that just terrible,” I said, pointing to the word colored on the label and hoping she’d be thinking about how gross red or blue potato chips are, “I know they prefer ‘African-American’ now.”
To me, it’s just absurd that there was a time in this country (not that this feeling is extinct or anything) where black people were called “colored,” and that was designed to be a term of separation, of division, sometimes even of derision. I know this would only be funny to me, but were I the guy stocking the shelves with Pringles cans, I’d probably find some excuse to isolate those cans on a lower shelf somewhere with no other cans or bags of chips nearby. Maybe even put up a sign that says “colored chips only.”
Maybe I have a finely tuned sense of aesthetic absurdity. Of course, it’s that “funny to me because I can’t believe people ever believed that racist crap” ideal that would get me fired as the Potato Chip Merchandiser. Someone would actually be offended by the separation of “colored” and “regular” potato chips, complain to the manager, take down my “colored chips only” sign, and raise a stink.
It’s because they wouldn’t get the joke. It’s ridiculous to isolate the colored chips. I can see that. Everyone can see that. Racism, to me, is no less and no more ridiculous than isolating the colored potato chips.
I’m of the opinion that there are plenty of legitimate reasons to dislike someone, including – but not limited to – things like:
Driving too slowWhoops. How’d that last one get in there?
Point being, why dislike an entire group of people for a reason like skin color when you can channel that rage into something much more constructive, like stumping for legislation that prevents senior citizens from driving their cars between the hours of 6AM and 8PM on public roads? Racism is just ridiculous.
As of this writing, 62.5
62.5. That’s how many working hours lay in front of me before vacation arrives.
Bob and I are headed down to Louisville the weekend of June 5th, and here’s our rough agenda:
Thursday: Drive from Metro Detroit area down to Shelbyville, IN to Indiana Downs. Catch their live card, and simulcast wagering. When done there for the day, drive to Louisville and spend the night.
Friday: Hopefully, we can start the day with an early round of golf with our dad’s best friend Gerry, and then head to Churchill Downs for their live card. That night, head across the river to Caesar’s Indiana Casino for poker and blackjack.
Saturday: It’s Belmont Stakes Day, and as a result, we want to probably go somewhere less crowded than Churchill to watch the races. We’re thinking River Downs in Cincinnati. Ideally, we’d watch the races, and maybe local Cincy kid Iggy has a home game going that night or something. Because Cincy is a good two plus hours from Louisville, and of course two plus hours closer to home, we’ll probably stay the night in Cincy and drive back home on Sunday morning.
I’m definitely excited to get out of town for this vacation. Now… if I can only I can convince a few other poker bloggers to meet up in Cincy – wouldn’t a big ol NL Home Game sound like fun?
Call Me Old Fashioned
With a little bit of third place cash from WBTIII in my pocket early last week, I stopped in to Best Buy to do a little CD shopping.
When I say “it’s been years” since I’ve bought a CD, that’s not an exaggeration (excepting my recent mail order box set). I bought Mobb Deep’s “Infamy” disc (I think that’s what it was called) shortly after release near Xmas 2002. That’s the last one I remember buying personally.
Now, lest you think I’ve been one of the masses ripping, downloading, and burning willy nilly, think again. I actually have not used P2P software in quite awhile either, and haven’t ever really had a good enough hookup on my home PC (including now) for that to be an effective option.
I’m not an IPod kid. I have two lousy discs sitting around with MP3s from my efforts with Limewire eighteen months ago, and about 350 CDs in my collection.
In my opinion, there’s something special about buying a CD as opposed to burning a copy. Oftentimes, liner notes alone will make spending the money worthwhile, not to mention the crapshoot quality P2P downloads can sometimes stick you with.
There’s also the decision making process, standing in front of the racks, rifling through the CDs, six discs in your hands that you need to pare down to only two – but did you remember to look in the Blues section? Do I get the Mingus album I lost a few years back, or do I roll the dice on this Ornette Coleman disc I’ve never heard before?
The growth of these chain stores, these uber mega electronics marts, has completely ruined CD shopping for me.
It’s no longer a fun experience.
I’m not walking into a CD section to pick up one of the eight dozen on-hand copies of Sheryl Crow’s new disc. I’m going in to try to find some great jazz, some classic blues, or maybe even an import bootleg disc I hadn’t heard of before.
Best Buy + Circuit City + Wal-Mart = Death to the Independent CD Retailer
I used to go to Vinyl Solution or Dan’s Compact Music, and have three rows of Miles Davis to paw through. I could pick up the classic Prestige discs from the late 50s, or I could find the Japanese Import (at the time, the only available) version of Live-Evil from his electric 70s period.
Best Buy had “Kind of Blue,” and the Columbia compilation, “Love Songs.” Two copies of each. From quite possibly the single greatest recording artist of the past fifty years.
In my opinion, there’s no “possibly” about that.
The entire jazz section was four feet wide by five feet tall. It had all that finger popping slick crap from the last ten years, but had NO John Coltrane, NO Duke Ellington, and NOT A SINGLE CD from Charles Mingus.
CD shopping is no longer fun for me. This is the type of thing we lose when we take the convenience and deep discounts of a Wal-Mart over a hometown market. Lucy’s Market in Grand Haven was glad to start stocking my brand of cigarettes. Why? Because I asked them to. Think Wal-Mart would do that? If I asked Best Buy to get me a CD, they’d do it. But if I asked them to give me back my ability to shop for CDs the way I used to? Not in a million years.
Call me old fashioned in my young age, but I think somewhere down the line we’re all going to resent the way these mega marts are dictating our taste based on sales in Topeka and focus groups, and we’re going to long for the days when we could walk into a store, know the shopkeeper as a member of our community, and relate to him as a human being and not as just another customer he’s getting just above minimum wage to give a crap about.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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