|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Thursday, August 12, 2004
Mike T from GM is bad luck
I got to play a couple of hours on the $25NL tables Tuesday night with faithful reader Mike T from GM, another Purdue Intern just like CE the Intern, whose summer with an enormous Naval Defense Contractor has not, in fact, made our country a safer place.
Anyway, I hadn’t been on the table for 30 minutes when Mike took the 8s, immediately to my right in 9s. Sadly, due to his presence, I had to turn the chat back on, as there was some dude on there that was just incessantly babbling, regardless as to his participation in the hand. Dude claimed he was 16 and playing with his mom’s money. I don’t doubt it.
In the two plus hours I played at the table with Mike, I was down about $15-$20. That total reflects one hand that Daddy stopped by to see. I had KTs in the BB, and saw the flop with four others for $2.50 or so each (roughly $13 in the pot when the flop hit). Flop hit me nicely with a King and two small cards, three suited. First to act, I pushed $5 in the pot. Another player was the only one to call, putting in his $5 (to win $18 at this point, getting only 3.5-1 on his money). Turn was another small card, putting another spade on the board (total of two – I had none). Again, $5 from me, he calls ($5 to win $23 this time, a call I have less of a problem with).
Now, in retrospect, I realize I had to slam the door shut on a flush draw here. That being said, his $5 call on the flop didn’t put me in the “he has a flush draw” mentality. I was worried more about facing KJ, as that’s what seemed to make sense in this scenario. He would have pushed a made set on the flop harder, and two rounds of calling gave me a “I’m not that confident of my kicker” read. I was hoping for K7 or something, for top pair, bad kicker.
River puts another spade on the board. Again, not worried about the flush draw, I put another $5 out there. He raises me all-in (another $5.50 or so), and I pretty much have to call.
A7 of spades, he had absolutely no hand until the river. Runner-runner.
Here’s his quote: “I didn’t buy your strength on the flop.”
Daddy and Mike laid into the guy, all the while I’m actually trying to calm them down a touch with quotes like, “Hey, if he won, that makes those calls the right ones, right?” and “3-1 to catch runner-runner? I’ve got no problem with that play.”
I don’t have any problem with that. Yes, it sucks to lose a hand like that when you’re best by a long ways until that last card (4-1 shot). But I was giving him 5-1 on his money on fourth street, so he made the right play. Not that he was doing anything remotely smart on the flop, but whatever gets you to a more agreeably smart point, right?
We played for awhile on Tuesday, but eventually Mike called it an evening.
The minute he left, I find KK down. I raise nominally, lead a couple of callers for $5 pre-flop and post, and see a ragged board that’s ten high on fourth street. I’ve got $50 or so in my stack, both others just shy of $30. I push $30, get a TPTK caller, and rake a $90 pot, putting my stack just north of $100.
And man oh man, did I wish Mike would have left a long time previously. Just kidding, but I did leave after folding the next hand, up about $40 for the evening. Not too bad.
You Lazy Monkey You…
I’m not real sure how I feel about this, but sometimes science creeps me out. Reminds me a little bit of Bart’s battle with Focusin on a “Simpsons” episode a few years ago.
I just hope that this time Major League Baseball isn’t watching.
Actually, speaking of MLB, today (August 12, 2004) marks the tenth anniversary of the strike that killed the World Series. Or, to me, the day I officially stopped giving a shit at all about baseball. My interest had been waning a little bit over the previous couple of seasons, but I used to be a stat freak, and had a two-man roto league before I even knew what a roto league was (circa 1990). I used to devour box scores, and I could usually tell you in which clubhouse even the most obscure and buried bench player hung his hat if challenged.
The strike changed all that. Yes, it’s a business, and yes, these owners and players need(ed) to negotiate their best possible deals, and these things can take time. But this was a move of pure arrogance on both sides, with the season being cancelled the way that it was.
I couldn’t care less what happens to baseball, whether it maintains its current status, regains prestige, becomes marginalized, whatever. Mike & Mike on ESPN Radio this morning were asking their listeners to send in evidence that the strike changed their perception of baseball. I can offer this: the best by-product of my TiVo purchase has been the ability to watch SportsCenter in less than 10 minutes due to skipping baseball highlights and commercials. This from a guy who used to meticulously track statistics on a day-to-day basis all summer long.
We’ve reached what will become a regular segment on Good Ol’ RTATS, and I’m going to title this segment The Part Where BG Whines About His Fantasy Football Team(s).
With T-minus twelve days to draft day in my long time league, I got some bad news yesterday.
Anquan Boldin out 8-12 weeks with meniscus surgery.
See, I play in a keeper league with limited keepers and wacky rules on who you can keep and how. Basically, we don’t allow first round draft picks to be kept, and we don’t allow more than one player drafted in the first five rounds to be kept either. Grand total of five keepers is the max, with two of those slots reserved for low round (16th-18th round) draft picks. Plus, keeper value jumps four rounds every year, which means an 18th round pick in 2002 has 18th round value in 2003, and 14th round value in 2004.
In 2002 I traded an emerging Clinton Portis (value = 6th round then, 2nd round now) for the steadier Ahman Green (unkeepable by our rules) for a playoff run that almost got me to the Super Bowl. I walked in to 2003 with an ugly draft position (10th of 14 teams, if memory serves), ugly keepers (Reggie Wayne, Quincy Morgan, Tommy Maddox, an injured Chad Pennington), and an intention to try to build a team for 2004.
My strategy worked really quite nicely. More than any other team in the league, I gambled on young talent, made trades that gave me keeper flexibility, and put a couple of players on the roster that weren’t drafted that should provide nice value ultimately for my bottom tier of keeper selections.
Coming into this week, here were the players I would consider keeping, how I acquired them, and their values (what picks I’d have to give up to keep them) for my keeper selections:
Chad Johnson (14th) (Acquired with A.Boldin in trade for D.Culpepper, A.Johnson, F.Taylor)You’ll notice that there is no huge, big name RB on this list. Well, that’s the way our league is by design. Jamal Lewis, LaDanian Tomlinson, and Clinton Portis are the only top RBs who were “keepable” by our rules, and those teams are giving up top picks to do it.
So, with the choices I had, my initial gut reaction at the end of last season was to keep Johnson, Boldin, Vick, Pinner, and Lloyd.
Then, Eddie George gets released, and I’m sitting on a starting RB for a 15th round pick. Bonus! Brown instead of Vick makes perfect sense.
Then, I get the 7th overall choice in my league. This pick, coupled with the Ricky retirement, almost guarantees I’m going to miss out on one of the top RBs. Corey Dillon and Travis Henry are the cream of the crop there. This leads to major consternation, as I now have to decide whether Michael Bennett is a better player to keep than Anquan Boldin, assuming I’m building my team to win for this year.
Then, the news yesterday. Boldin is likely to miss half the season, and probably won’t be spectacular upon his return.
Man, am I glad I’ve got options. The Boldin pick scared me a little bit anyway, as Josh McCown hasn’t exactly proven himself, and Larry Fitzgerald is in the mix at WR too. But for a 15th this year and an 11th next, that was good value, especially for a guy who was going to be my #2 WR behind CJ.
This all but assures that I have to keep either Mike Vick or Michael Bennett, most likely Bennett. I’m a little unsure as to who is going to fall to me at #7 overall, but, in order of likelihood, it’ll be either Randy Moss, Fred Taylor, or Edgerrin James. I need to keep Bennett over Vick in order to make sure I have an RB, just in case it’s Moss and not one of the other two that slips to me at #7. Most of the young flash-in-the-pan RBs from last year (Suggs, Dom Davis, Rudi Johnson) are keeper picks of someone else’s, which means that when it gets back to me in round two, the RB pickings will be mighty, mighty slim. Tiki/TJ Duckett slim. I like Bennett better than either of those guys, so I think he’s likely my guy. I should have a shot at one of the big three QBs (Vick, Culpepper, Manning) or one of the other big two WRs (Holt, Harrison) at my second round slot, so the Bennett thing makes a lot of sense.
I’d have been a lot happier with Boldin though. Tremendous value with that keeper.
My last selection is going to be from the pool of Artose Pinner, Carson Palmer, or LJ Smith. Pinner is the clubhouse leader right now, as he is the #2 to Kevin Jones, but I’m thinking LJ Smith might not be a bad one to keep either. I can probably snag Gonzo or Crumpler in rounds 3-5, so backing them up with Smith isn’t a bad move.
In Response To Sean’s Anti Fantasy Football Tirade
So please, just enjoy your team, enjoy the players on that team, and watch the game for the beauty of the game. Find the nuances that make football what it is. I urge you to just sit and watch a few games. Don’t worry about other players on teams you don’t care about, or even worse, are rivals to your home team. You might just learn to appreciate the game for what it is.
On Sundays, I breathe football.
On Sundays, I use the picture-in-picture function on my TV to watch multiple pre-game shows at a time.
On Sundays, I’m immobile when the Honolulu Blue and Silver are on the TV… unless Mike Vick or Steve McNair have a good enough match up to warrant four hours in a sports bar.
On Sundays, I can talk to a Bengal fan about how bad their corners are, chide a Cowboy fan for another Nate Newton pot bust, high five the guy next to me in an Eagles jersey when the defense comes up big, or root with a Packer fan when Favre does something else worth telling your friends you saw.
On Sundays, I can keep both eyes on the Lions, and still have a vested interest in what’s going on around the rest of the league, and part of that is due to fantasy football.
Thanks in large part to fantasy football, I would have to put “The NFL” somewhere around “Cooking” and “Classic American Literature” in my canon of expertise. Thanks to fantasy football, I haven’t lost touch with a periphery of friends that geographic distance has made inaccessible.
Thanks to fantasy football, I pay attention more, and can appreciate those little things about the game. How a scatback like Warrick Dunn finds room in the middle of quarter ton behemoths, and how the next generation of wide receiver is combining the big play aesthetic along side the playing big reality of a 240 lb guy who runs a 4.4. I can understand how two teams with similar skill position talent (Chicago and New England, save the QB position, over the last two or three years) can be wildly different in terms of production, thanks to intelligent (or lack thereof) scheme construction.
See, I love the NFL almost as equally as I love my Lions. The Lions belong to me. They’re a part of my upbringing, with picnics on the living room carpet and salted in the shell peanuts, Thanksgiving Day games, and the myth of elusive success all ingrained in me like my multiplication tables. The Lions are part of me. Just like the Pope was born Catholic, I was born into the cult of Detroit Lion Fandom.
But I grew to love the NFL as a whole. I would devour what non-Dallas/Denver games the Salt Lake City regional broadcasts would show. I followed the NFC Central Division religiously, looking for the chinks in the armor of Detroit’s foes and rivals, but happiest when I could catch a glimpse of Chicago or Minnesota instead of San Francisco and Arizona on a Sunday.
True, this love was born of necessity for me, but instead of blind devotion to my team, I grew to love watching what little bits I could see of James Lofton and John Jefferson in green and gold. I used to wish I could play safety like Dave Duerson, roaming the defensive backfield looking for someone to lay out. I always had a soft spot in my heart for some of the Viking warriors like Keith Millard and Joey Browner, especially the latter who could knock heads over the middle with the best. And, well, we always picked on the Bucs.
With SportsCenter and NFL Primetime, as well as an early Madden football addiction, I got to see and know more and more of the greatness around the league, specifically in the early 90s. I remember being saddened by the death of one of the great young players I always tried to catch glimpses of, Jerome Brown. I loved watching Warren Moon hit Haywood Jefferies down the seam. My two favorite running backs between Billy Sims and Barry Sanders were in Cleveland’s mid-80’s backfield, Kevin Mack and Ernest Byner. I thought it was great when Derrick Thomas had that seven sack game. I listened to the entire Houston/Buffalo comeback game on the radio. I never could get enough of watching Brett Favre. And still, I won’t miss a snap of Lions football if I can help it.
Fantasy football for me, has just given me an outlet for my love of the NFL. I don’t consider myself to ever have a dual loyalty. I want my Lions to win the Super Bowl far more than you could imagine. But don’t fault me for rooting for Brett Favre to play a great game. Even against my Lions, even without starting him in a fantasy league, I want him to shine. That’s the nature of my love for football. And fantasy football gives me that much more to love.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
I got a message on my TiVo this weekend inviting me to “join TiVo and Nielsen” in a survey on TiVo habits.
You’re insane if you think I’m going to let the Nielsen people know anything about my TiVo habits.
Now, TiVo, by the terms of my end-user agreement, can collect anonymous data as to what programs are being recorded. That, in and of itself, I have little problem with. What was unclear about this invitation, but insinuated in the bare bones message, was if the Nielsen people are interested in how we’re viewing what we record.
In other words, are we skipping through the commercials?
Nielsen’s main purpose as a research company is to help advertisers understand if the money that they are spending is, in fact, well spent. So it should come as no surprise that they wish to track the habits of viewers who should be a captive audience for their clients, but have the technology to skip ads they don’t wish to see.
Why in god’s name would any TiVo user want to give Nielsen this information? Only bad things can come of this, such as…
>> Technology that prevents future TiVo users from utilizing fast forward technology during sponsored programming (they’re talking about this already, and ReplayTV was hit with lawsuits for providing a “30 second skip” button – at least with TiVo, the images speed by while you fast forward)
>> Less advertising on TV, leading to less innovation and programming than there already is on networks
>> More nauseating product placements within the context of shows.
>> Network/Cable provider collusion against TiVo, flooding the market with cheaper DVRs that provide only the functionality that doesn’t hurt the network’s advertisers.
Just because the DVR is easier to use than a VCR doesn’t mean I should have to suffer ultimately for choosing to be a DVR convert. Not only that, but with as many ads as we’re forced to see in a day, whether it’s on TV, online, or in the open air somewhere, why don’t advertisers understand they are flooding the market with “messages,” and putting so much out there that it all blends into white noise?
By the way, the only time lately I can remember being so appreciative of a TV ad that I actually went out of my way to purchase their product was…
Monday Lunch Report
With 4,300 words under my belt yesterday, I took an opportunity to wait a day to tell you about a special time in a nearly middle-aged man’s life.
Yesterday, I had my very first meal ever at a Long John Silver’s restaurant.
I’ve been meaning to give the chain a little business due to two factors. First, of course, morbid curiosity. The kind that likely killed the cat. Second factor is that LJS is a consistent advertiser on ESPN’s horse racing coverage.
Trust me, it had nothing to do with getting a Dale Jr. shrimp cup, although that was on the agenda.
My first impression of the building was disappointment in that it didn’t feature a drive-thru window. “Spanning the Globe,” a feature on ESPN Radio’s “The Herd” was just starting up, and I had to park and enter the restaurant.
I had always wondered what, besides fried fish, shrimp, clams, and chicken was on the menu over there. The answer, of course, was nothing. Yes, they had fries and something called a “hush puppy,” but choices weren’t exactly plentiful. The faux-nautical theme inside stopped just short of having Brad Hamilton behind the counter in a pirate vest, parrot, and three-cornered hat. I guess pirates wear blue and gold polo shirts nowadays when making their plunder, or maybe that’s just what Daniesha wears to work on a Monday. Anyway, while I certainly didn’t feel as if I had just walked into a Maryland Crab Shack, it was clean and empty enough to where I didn’t feel the need to get the hell out of there either.
For $5.81, I purchased a Dale Jr. Shrimp Cup Combo with a pink lemonade and an extra French Fry. Turned out to be more fries than I wanted, but I had no way of knowing that up front. Unlike the experience behind getting a half-full curly fry at Arby’s, my Dale Jr. Shrimp Cup was packed to the top, the plastic dome was added, and they packed another half dozen shrimp up there for good measure. Then, they filled a box up with an egregiously large number of fries, two of those “hush puppies,” and got me my lemonade to send me on my way.
SHRIMP CUP – completely un-reusable paper cup with Dale Jr.’s picture on the front. How this is supposed to attract rednecks is beyond me, but maybe paper cups, Dale Jr. merchandise, or both are like currency down in the South. The shrimp were small, but plentiful. I prefer the beer battered, rather than the breaded, variety, but they weren’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. Side of lemon wedges and cocktail sauce improved the flavor. Couldn’t tell precisely where, or if, the tails were on many of these things.
HUSH PUPPIES – If these were supposed to be fish, they weren’t quite all the way there on taste. If these were supposed to be like fried dough or something, then I think they hit their mark. It’d be nice to have some idea as to what I was eating.
FRIES – I get irritated with the potato industry’s “innovations” sometimes. When they’re good, like in the case of waffle fries, particularly at Chik Fil A restaurants, they’re very good. When they’re bad, they’re awful. And whoever thought to egg wash fries to add crunch just succeeded in making them shittier. Maybe hotter oil would make them crispier, turn up your freaking fryer. The fries, however, get unexpected bonus points for not tasting like I thought they would. Like fish.
LEMONADE – Why do restaurants always go for the pink? I like the regular too you know. Adequate, at best. Maybe they should have had Dale Jr. cruiser cups.
Overall, I’m not likely to add LJS’ to my rotation. But, for variety’s sake, I could have done worse. I’ll give it a solid 4.15 on my lunch-o-meter (proscuitto / baby mozzarella sandwich gets a 10.0, putting mayo on my burger and me not figuring it out until I’m back at the office gets a 0.0).
Monday, August 09, 2004
Naked, If I Want To
I found this site while looking to figure out what football jersey sizes mean (“52 = 2XL, I guess), and I hope you’re all as horribly amused by the picture on here as I am. It’s taken me awhile now to stop giggling. I saw a guy who’s about this size on Saturday night wearing a red polo shirt trying to wedge his way into a red Volkswagen Beetle. Some people look like their pets, some people I guess look like their cars.
Also, I have bad news for Daddy, who shouldn’t be planning any trips to the Netherlands anytime soon.
But I hear the open-toed sandals on the Barbary Coast are lovely this time of year.
SloeJack’s question to Al regarding which one of the poker bloggers he’d bankroll, given the chance, gave Al a good opportunity to put together his blogger dream team. But, in the spirit in which the question was asked, I’m going to just pick one guy. For my money, Hank’s the guy. Reason being, in this poker renaissance in which we’re all participating, tournaments can be crapshoots. I would rather bankroll Hank in 30/60 for a weekend than give Otis (there, you’ve been mentioned as a solid blogger tourney player. Happy now?) an entry to a big money tournament.
Yes, it’d be more fun to cheer for Otis than to watch Hank grind. But I guarantee you I come out ahead at the end of my month with Hank.
60/40 Hank. When I win the lotto, you’re my horse. Oh, and that’s my 60.
Apologies are due, so long as I am in a linking and talking about other bloggers mood today, to LG and Chris Halverson, as I didn’t go to Trump’s Saturday for a meet-up. I looked at my bank account, and looked at my September, and I really can’t do a casino night anytime soon.
See, Lil’est Bro is getting hitched on September 18th, and there’s all sorts of crap I have to be responsible for. Tuxedo rental is $125, I have to get them a gift, and apparently the bachelor party is a whole weekend sort of thing that may or may not involve a night at a casino. I honestly don’t know, so I honestly don’t know what to budget. Plus, Al has been leaning on me to get to Philly for his September 25th party.
I just put two new tires on my car, paid my brother the last $100 I owed him, and just saw all my bills from 8/1 clear. After a hellish few years with my wife having access to funds with my name on them as well, I get really nervous without about $500 or so in checking at all times.
And if I had played crappy poker Saturday, I’d be under that figure easily.
Luckily, I played decent poker in three home games, cashing in two this weekend. More on that in a little bit.
Saturday was my town’s biggest night of the year, the Coast Guard Festival’s closing carnival and fireworks. On that night, somewhere north of 150,000 people found their way to the waterfront to watch the fireworks that mark the close of a week of celebration. Pretty kickass show. It’s bankrolled by the VanKampen Group, a financial services provider that used to be manned by Old Man VanKampen himself, one of those uber-Christians who builds vaults in the depths of sand dunes to house “religious documents.” Whatever that means. I’m guessing “religious documents” amount to things like a ’52 Topps Pope Pius IX rookie card, and a bar nap signed by Benny Hinn.
I took my dog down to the carnival the other day, just to walk around and maybe grab a Brat for dinner. God knows I love carnival food. I learned a little something along the way though. My dog is afraid of carnival rides. It all came crashing down for him when he caught sight of the rocking pirate ship ride. He was on the leash, and started tugging me as hard as he could in the other direction, while looking for a place to hide behind my legs.
Poor dog, and poor me. The Bratwurst trailers were down that end.
I was really tempted to spend every dollar bill I had on me to win one of those Metallica mirrors from one of the games, but I thought better of it. Sometimes, what’s funny to me is just sad to everyone else.
I saw a lot of tremendously attractive women down at the carnival on Saturday. One in particular could have been Uma Thurman’s hotter twin sister. Oh, the humanity.
I’m just the littlest bit distressed that it seems as if they got the Lions Club, the Rotarians, and some teenagers to work the carnival games down there. Whatever happened to scary-toothless carnie guy? Actually, I think he lives about a block and a half from me. He’s stopped me three times while walking the dog, each time opening the conversation with, “Is that a Corgi?”
Still is Mr. Freakyman, same as he was last time. Mind if I keep moving along so I don’t have nightmares for another week?
I spent an hour and a half on Friday afternoon as the only person left in the department here at work. Reminds me of a little story that I’m bored enough to tell.
I worked for awhile as a headhunter. When interviewing a candidate for a specific opening or opportunity, one of the last questions / statements you make to your interviewee is, “Companies perform very thorough background checks on the people they are going to employ. If there’s anything that I should know up front that might appear on a background check, it’s important that we get that out in the open. It’s easier to explain things ahead of time than to overcome a hiring manager’s perceptions if they see an issue out of context.”
I was tasked to identify an IT professional for a role with a manufacturing company locally. I came across a resume online that was spot on perfect, and seemed to be asking for less money than his experience might dictate he was worth.
If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
I finished up my interview with him, covering the background check issue at the end of the call. Like most people, he shrugged off the last comment, and ended the call.
Not five minutes later, he called back.
“I thought about what you said,” he started, obviously unsure as to how much to tell me, “and I actually do have something that will come up on a background check that we should probably talk about.”
Now I was intrigued. “I appreciate your honesty. Can you tell me what happened?”
He hesitated, and tried to give me nothing but the overview. “I was arrested about a year ago. It was a misdemeanor, and it looks bad, but it’s something I’m taking care of now.”
Taking care of now? As in what? I had to know more. I sat there silently, giving him the discomfort he needed to expand on his story.
“About a year ago, I was working for this company, and they were building a new location nearby. I was one of the network guys, and was supervising getting the servers onsite and making sure the wiring was going in the way we needed it to.
“I was on my way home from a friend’s house, and it was about 1AM. They had just finished the building, and were putting the servers in that week. I had keys, and stopped by on my way home to see how the work was coming.”
At this point, I’m thinking a little B&E, maybe he got caught with a stapler in his pocket by a night watchman on his way out the door.
“I don’t know why I thought it would be a good idea to take off all my clothes and run naked around the building.”
“I guess someone saw a car in the parking lot and called the cops, and they saw me in the building naked, and I got arrested. I got fired because of it.”
He paused for a second before adding, “But there was no porn involved, I swear.”
I didn’t ask, but as long as you’re going there… “You weren’t looking at porn on the company’s computers?”
“No,” he started reluctantly, “but I realized that I had a problem with porn. With Internet porn. This arrest was hard on my marriage, but through counseling I realized that I was addicted to Internet porn, and that was even harder on my wife. I’m in a program now, and doing a lot better.”
Needless to say, I didn’t work with this guy any further, as this isn’t exactly a story you want to tell your clients. I’m just puzzled and astounded by this “addicted to Internet porn” thing. To me, it just sounded like a way to rationalize some pretty bizarre behavior with the little woman. I mean, I understand it becoming an addiction if you’re spending money to join multiple sites, as there’s plenty of free porn out there without having to pay for it. I just don’t get how people can let this become a problem worth going to counseling for otherwise.
Maybe I’m just naďve to think people aren’t sad enough to let the fantasy of porn replace the reality of life. Whatever.
Bronze, Gold, Silver
With the Chicago casino trip not a financial possibility, my brothers and I decided to try to throw together a Friday night poker game, and managed to get together a group of seven, which for us is a smallish game.
So, starting out on Friday in our first game, we had:
1. Ray, Bob’s friend
PD, a home game regular
BG, yours truly
Bob, back for the weekend
My (our) Dad, in his first home game appearance
M7, intent on making a dent
JS, another home game regular
My brothers and I bankrolled my dad his $20 entry fee, as he brought three pizzas to the house. Unfortunately, he not only didn’t call to ask how many were eating (all of us had eaten dinner), but he got two pizzas that were completely inedible due to the amount of vegetables he ordered on them. We had about one and a quarter pizzas remaining at the end of the night, and no one would take them home.
Early on, my dad was paving the path to an early exit. He was seeing damn near every flop, and in one less-than-memorable instance, he saw his pocket sixes all the way to showdown against a board with three face cards. Not pretty. He bounced within the first hour.
PD went out second, as his raises weren’t getting any respect, and his cards weren’t standing up for him either. He bounced when his pre-flop all-in with pocket tens went up against two overcards, and all Ray had to do was catch one. He did, buh-bye to PD.
One hand in this game really stands out for me, as I couldn’t have gotten luckier than this. T6s on the button, and it’s cheap to limp, so I did. 66Q, or something to that effect hits the flop. JS, in early position checks, as does Ray, and I put out a smallish bet that just screamed “CALL ME.” JS pushed over the top to double my bet, Ray folded, and I called, giving him another card. Turn shows a 4, and that makes me happy. JS came in for a decent sized bet, and I push all-in.
He and I were similarly sized stacks at that point, so he started agonizing about the call. He wonders aloud if I’ve got pocket 44, as that would give me the boat. Still, he calls.
He flips up 69s. I’ve got him outkicked with the Ten, even though we both flopped sets. Last card is a low one, and my Ten stands up for the win.
It was a pretty tough game for me personally, as I did sweep a couple of big pots, lost a couple of other ones, and by the time we hit three (M, Bob, and I in a brotherly battle), the chip count looked a little something like this:
THIRD – M7, 500
SECOND – BG, 1500
LEADER – Bob, 6000
Needless to say, Bob was in good shape. But I couldn’t get rid of M. I knew that the small stack was dangerous, and although it was better ultimately to bide my time and try to get him to blind out, he actually started building up his stack.
So I had to pull out the old Mean Gene short stack strategy. If I had truly nothing on the button, I’d fold. But if I had even a little something, which I almost always did thanks to a good run of cards, in the SB, I pushed all-in. I also allowed no limpers when I was BB. All-in.
I had just enough in chips to make a call by Bob uncomfortable, and more chips than M, so his call would knock him out.
I kept this up and stayed afloat for about twenty minutes, probably building up to the 2000-2500 neighborhood, but eventually, Bob called.
I had ATo, he had A7s, caught his 7, and that was it for me.
He and M then waged a classic battle heads-up, which you can read M’s encapsulation of. It went on for at least 45 minutes, and each player was down under 1000 at multiple points. Bob did end up winning, and took down the $100 first prize. M walked away with $40.
Same players in the second game, minus my dad, who had left a few hours previously. Because it was already nearly 11PM, we started with a slightly smaller stack (1000, rather than 1125), and with bigger blinds (25/50, rather than 5/10).
Frankly, there’s not much I remember about specifics in this game, as I was pretty wasted by the time we started this one up. I do remember that PD and I went heads-up at the end, and he had a slight chip lead on me when we started.
Again, I got aggressive.
I pushed 3xBB raises on every hand on which I acted first, and PD’s cards were just bad enough that he wouldn’t call.
I didn’t take one substantial pot from him. I blinded him down to oblivion.
I believe his 55 versus my AJo at the end was the decisive one for me, and I ended up taking home the gold.
$10 game gave me winnings of $50. So, in all actuality, I was up $10 for the night.
On Saturday, Bob’s friends had a game, and I was invited over to participate. We had a couple of rookies at the table, including Bob’s friend’s mom and Bob’s friend’s wife.
That still didn’t prevent Bob from exercising one of his Jedi Mind Tricks on his friend. I don’t know what’s wrong with these guys, but Bob can get them to call huge bets down to the river with nearly nothing. I totally don’t get it. There might be times when he bluffs big, but there are definitely times when he’s swinging the hammer with something behind it too. Most of us are smart enough to get out of the way with second pair.
Not this guy. He was out within three orbits, and bought back in, only to bounce out again shortly after his mom. His mom, who had never played before AND was making us all fajitas while playing.
Nice game Ry.
And obviously, some of the karma stayed in his family, as his wife made an egregious error, folding to my NINE HIGH FLUSH when she was holding the stone cold nut flush in her hand. Thank god for rookies, I took down a major pot because she was worried, with a board that had J82 of diamonds and 74o otherwise, that one of the other hands on her list of hand rankings she had in front of her was going to beat her.
So, let’s enter that play into the mainstream. Bet big enough with 39s in your hand, you’re likely to drive out a made nut flush.
I got down to heads-up with local sportswriter Matt, and ended up with about 40% of the chips to begin our final hand. I was dealt Q2s, and as the dealer I acted first. I pushed in for 3xBB, and he called. A two suited flop came that included a Queen and a Deuce.
In retrospect, I shouldn’t have tried to set a trap, putting just another 3xBB bet out there. But I figured he had missed that flop big time. Well, he missed it, but not as badly as I thought. Another spade, putting three on the board, on the turn and I was pot committed. I pushed all-in.
He called me with K-high, one spade (the King). No pair, nothing. He hit his spade on the river, and that was that.
+$10 for my efforts, bringing my poker tally for the weekend to +$20.
By the way, if you live in metro Detroit, and want to add Ry and his wife to your poker party speed dial, let me know.
It’s a large plastic box with a green lid, not unlike the ones people use to store their Xmas decorations at the end of the season. My name is written on two sides in thick Sharpie marker block letters. The box has been sitting in my mom’s garage for three or four years, maybe more. And in all that time, I really haven’t had the urge to dig into it and “do something” with the contents.
Twelve cubic feet, 80% full of memories.
If you’ve been here a few times before, you probably know one thing about me that is an absolute truth. I live in the past. It’s really not the healthiest place to be, but here we are. That’s why I haven’t gotten into the box. I don’t dig in, because it pains me to remember some of the things that I really have tried to forget.
This weekend, however, I had to get it out of my mom’s garage and take it home. And under the auspices of lightening the load in the box, I went through it to clean it out.
Sure, there was stuff in the box that I was excited to find. I found my earliest stab at absurd humor in a first grade paper titled “My Life.” In it, I start off with truth, but then describe my family’s move into an old barn in a nearby town, and my dad’s career switch to become a lawyer, even naming a local insurance company outright as his place of employ. I invent a couple of sisters I don’t have, and I don’t think the teacher grading the paper had any idea this was almost entirely fictional.
I also found a third grade review of a board game that stated “Monkeys testing this game must have been asleep.”
I really do make myself laugh sometimes.
Cleaning out this box, though, I realized that I’ve kept every single note and letter I ever received from about 9th grade through my freshman year of college. And, since guys don’t really write each other letters very often, a good 95% of the content is from girls. And, although in every case there’s at least ten years gone, some of the wounds are real, and every opportunity I had at friendship or love with some of these girls is far more obvious to me now than it ever was then.
One night at the bar earlier this year, I was talking to Jeff, a friend of mine who graduated the year after I did from our high school. The topic of his recent ten year reunion came up, and I was asking him for updates on some people we both knew. On his own, he offered, “Who was the girl from my year, ridiculously smart, went through the U of M Med School on the fast track, and really got surprisingly hot all of a sudden?”
That was M. Hers was the hardest of the notes and letters to read.
I’ve actually been stuck here really thinking about what I want to say about Mel and myself. She was both a tremendous friend, as well as being one of the great disappointments of my life. M was one of those girls who was mentally capable of achieving anything she wanted. She was a beautiful girl who had a big enough brain and just enough mousiness to her that she wasn’t running with the popular kids.
And I dug her.
I always managed to fall in love with a girl’s mind and spirit far more than her beauty, but M was legit all the way across. I didn’t just have a crush on the girl, which I did, but I had a great deal of respect for her as well. At that point in my life, that made her unique.
And that made us friends. We were equals, or maybe she was even my better. She probably was. We were able to really talk, and really understand, and really sympathize with each other. Maybe that’s partly due to the pressure not being on us while we forged our friendship.
See, M had a boyfriend when we met. I was a senior, she was a junior, and I didn’t know much about this guy. Well, much more than that he was sullen, an underachiever, and not as intelligent as a girl like this deserved. He went to the local “alternative” high school.
I couldn’t figure it out. I think some of it was due to her own low self-image, and maybe part of it was channeling the model of her relationship with her father, himself an exceedingly quiet and sullen man (if memory serves). But here was a vibrant girl, when she wanted to be. Someone who could engender in you the feeling of confidence and pride, as when you conversed with this girl, the brightness in her eyes and her ability to dissect the method of your madness astounded you at every turn.
I remember plenty of conversations about the boyfriend, but I remember only once did I ever challenge her to prove that she wasn’t in a rut, being dragged down by this anchor in her life. We were on the beach, walking at sunset in August, and every ounce of my heart belonged to her. If she wanted it. And I still hadn’t figured that part of the equation out yet.
She never did come up with the reason that could possibly satisfy my question. “Why are you with this guy?” Which, of course, meant, “Why are you with this guy and not with me?” I wasn’t able to ask that question, to really tell her what I thought.
Which was fine, I went away to school, and she continued to date this guy. And she continued to write me letters.
And in the letters to her, I managed to find a way to tell her what I was feeling. And, maybe as a byproduct of that, she dumped him.
The letter I have of hers is the one immediately following the breakup. The one that tells me she wants to be with me, but her heart hurts and it may take some time. The one where she tells me that she digs me too, and respects me even more than I’ve told her I respect her. Where she talks about coming up to see me, and how she’s looking forward to seeing me when I can get home for a break soon.
This wouldn’t be a letter I sigh and frown when I read nowadays, if it weren’t for the fact that it only took a short time from that letter for her to give in to the boyfriend and bring him back, apologetically, into her life. If it wasn’t for my idiot mentality that told me that if she’s going to screw me over like that, then she wasn’t worth my friendship anymore. If it wasn’t for the feelings of regret I have now that she and I were quite possibly the most perfectly matched people at those individual points of our lives, and I never so much as got to kiss the girl.
My box was littered with these notes and letters. Friendships I wish I still had, girls both blowing me off and trying to bring me out of my shell. I can’t help but think about how screwed up my marriage became, and how all these forgotten friendships and missed opportunities, had I been able to realize their potential, may have spared me both the agony of my marriage, as well as this undying spectre of my past failures and mistakes that I seem never able to shake far from my thoughts.
But more than any of the others, it was M who brought me so close to maybe for once realizing a real relationship out of the friendships with those girls I pined for relentlessly. And to have the love of that girl so tantalizingly close, and then lose it. Well, that’s why I keep these letters, and that’s why I think about my hits and misses as often as I do.
I don’t want to miss another chance like this one again.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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