|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Saturday, May 07, 2005
Giacomo. Go figure.
Pauly's $10 place bet? Loss.
I gave Bob $2 WPS on Buzzard's Bay, and he made a good show of it, but that bet was as close as we got.
Oh, and had you boxed all 20 horses in the race together in an exacta, you would have cleaned up. A $2 exacta paid $9800.
Well, in the words of Al Can't Hang, "Exacta? BG, when it comes to you and horse betting, there ain't nothing exact about it."
Kentucky Derby - Money Where My Mouth Is...
I'm not only betting myself on today's race, I also am putting money down for others:
Doc wants $10 to place on Sun King. Done.
Bob and I are splitting a crazy-ass superfecta ticket, but he's also got a couple bets he wants me to make for him today.
He's boxing Afleet Alex, Bellamy Road, Coinsilver, and Greeley's Galaxy in an exacta, and he's putting WPS bets on Andromeda's Hero (well, more on Rafael Bejarano than the horse) and a "high odds horse of my choice." I'm thinking either Buzzard's Bay or High Limit.
Our superfecta features four horses locked into the win column: Afleet Alex, Bandini, High Fly, and Bellamy Road. Those four are joined by Sun King in the place, show, and fourth place fields. $48 each to get that one done.
Me personally? I'm torn. All week I've been saying that I believe the conventional wisdom that Bellamy Road is due to bounce off his performance in the Wood. For the uninitiated, that means a horse that posts a huge race takes two steps back before it takes another baby step forward again.
I don't know if I'm buying that anymore. Are we getting ready to crown a super horse in the Derby today? If I talk myself into that logic, I'm going to put $100 on Bellamy Road to win. If I'm looking for "value," I think putting an exotic wager together with a few of the favorites (as we did in the superfecta above), Greeley's Galaxy, Wilko, and High Limit. The more I look at Greeley's Illinois Derby line, the more I'm buying into a possible step forward off a great race. Wilko is interesting, as he beat a well-regarded pair of horses in Afleet Alex and Sun King in October's BC Juvenile. Since? Not a whole hell of a lot. High Limit's Louisiana Derby got me onboard his bandwagon too, and I can't just ditch him now.
If you're pressing me for picks right now at 1250PM EST, here they are - I'll update later with what I actually wagered:
WIN - BELLAMY ROAD
PLACE - AFLEET ALEX
SHOW - BANDINI
Talk about a chalk pick...
4PM Edit: $50 to win on Bellamy Road, $15 WP bet on Greeley's Galaxy. If I miss on Greeley and the super, I need Bellamy to win and pay just north of $5 on the win bet to break even - which means anything higher than 2/1 should work.
It's not quite quarter of seven in the morning, it's Saturday, and I'm up.
My dad and step-sister rolled into town from Milwaukee this weekend on and for a variety of errands and events, and my old man needed a 6AM wake-up call in order to make a tee time with his buddies.
A gracious host brews a pot of coffee and doesn't bitch about having to be up at a god-awful hour of the morning on a Saturday. That being said, a gracious host doesn't miss an opportunity to gripe that his bathroom has been so befouled that it is nearly impossible to walk by the doorway without instantly falling woozy.
I guess a man of 56 can't drink a bottle of wine and toss a half a pound of prime rib on top of it without brewing something ridiculously horrid deep in his bowels.
It's nice to see the old man for the first time in about six months.
He managed to talk me out of pizza last night, an option I posed simply because I knew he'd be buying dinner. Instead, we started out with a drink upon his arrival at my apartment, which featured my first double Southern Comfort Manhattan of the night. Thus began my first hour of five consecutive where I could no longer feel my lips. From there, we caught up with the lil bro and his wife up at the mall, and from there came back to town to a restaurant called The Rosebud for dinner.
My dad is like Norm from "Cheers" in this joint. The owner and five waitresses out of six came by to chat him up on his first visit back to town since he left a few weeks before Christmas. I got my second of three double SoCo Manhattans, we ordered some food (appetizers were Bruschetta, Carpaccio, and Lox. The men all had the Prime Rib), and got to talking.
I'm about as genuinely Italian-American as Chef Boyardee, to be perfectly honest with you. But I've got the Italian last name, and my grandfather was one of those proverbial right-off-the-boat men of the pre-WWII era that thought the promise of America was worth investigating.
I identify with that side of my family history for the last name and the romance of the story. Not to mention it gives me an excuse to explore the wonders of the cured-meats-ending-in-vowels because they're from my people. But I've never known much about the backstory of my dad's side. I know my clan is from Northern Italy, I know my grandfather was an only child, and I know he certainly didn't get off the boat flush with cash and connections.
He came to Michigan's Upper Peninsula where others from his region had landed. He had a promise of work in Michigan's iron mines, in which he spent a few decades as nothing more than a working man.
I've wondered about Italy, wondered if the terrific Brunello that carries my family's name is somehow connected back to a cousin, a brother to a great-grandparent, something. Had my grandfather not left for America, what would have been in store for him?
I discovered more of the story last night, things I'm not even sure my dad knew until recently.
There is some romance to the story. My grandfather left for America's greener pastures, but his father had something in mind for his return. Not only was there land in the Abruzzi region that would become my grandfather's upon his return, but there was also a woman - an arranged marriage. My grandfather took the long boat ride back after a few years in the mines with the intention of marrying the girl and taking her home. The land would be his, and maybe another decade of breaking stone would flush him with the dough necessary to come back to Abruzzi with his family and the more pastoral life.
It wasn't meant to be.
Within days of his arrival back in Italy, the thunderbolt. My grandmother, a woman who passed away when my father was only three or four years old, stole his heart and disappointed the family so much that the land destined to be passed to the only child was held back in spite. The thunderbolt.
"And by the way," my dad added at the end of the story, "did you know why your grandfather was an only child?" His grin grew and he took the dramatic beat or two that put us on the edge of our seats. "Your great-grandmother, my father's mother?..."
In an instant, the dream that maybe somehow we were connected to Italian nobility or at bare minimum the vineyards that produce one hell of a delicious Brunello, were dashed with a revealing fact that proved our people's peasant past.
"Your great-grandmother was stoned to death by the women of her village. For stealing chickens."
Friday, May 06, 2005
"I think every (this department) Professional should have a crayon." - Overheard just now a cubicle away.
I don't know what that was supposed to mean, but in my estimation that's excellent advice. With the knuckleheaded nature of the daily grind most of us have fallen into, it helps to have a few moments of creativity breaking up the day. I'm all for instituting recess or at least a couple of mandatory ten minute breaks in the day where the literati around the office can do a crossword, and the rest of us can maybe find ourselves breaking open a box of Crayolas and going all burnt umber on a line drawing of a sports car.
Yeah, I'm suggesting that the adult coloring book market could be a huge niche. So long as the employers of America recognize that letting us take our brains out for a walk in between filing TPS reports is actually a pretty damn good idea.
The problem with this though would be with the hipsters. You know who I'm talking about. Put second hand store clothes and Tina Fey glasses on some chick who digs bands you'll never ever hear of, and you've got Exhibit A. The thing with the hipsters is that they ruin everything that could maybe be just a little bit fun for people by glomming onto the trend and playing it for the irony.
Case in point, go read Sarah Brown's latest post regarding her "secret household shame." That shame? Going to dinner at the Olive Garden.
Now, there are plenty of reasons not to go to the Olive Garden. First, one should do everything they can to support local businesses that have been part of your community for decades. Second, eating at the Olive Garden or Applebee's tells corporate America that this global standardization effort that's underway, turning every small town in America into every other small town in America, is working. I believe you lose just a little tiny piece of your soul every time you walk into one of those joints, and you're selling whatever it is that makes your town unique down the river too.
That being said, the food really isn't as bad there as it used to be. As a matter of fact, there are some things that they do pretty damn well there, and it's no coincedence that these restaurants keep popping up all over the landscape, especially in Middle America. If it's my choice of restaurant, The OG isn't making the list. That being said, I'm not so overtly principled* that I won't eat there at all whatsoever if that's where the rest of the crew wants to go.
*(Remind me to tell you my Johnny Depp story some day)
Middle America likes its mediocrity with all-you-can-eat breadsticks on the side. You got a problem with that?
This is what hipsters do. They find something they think is mediocre, they glom on, and they enjoy the irony of their participation in things people as patently cool as they are couldn't possibly enjoy without the sideways smirking irony. Of course, in the same post from Sarah B. there's this gem - which is far more ironic than salad and breadsticks on the sly ever will be:
"You know what I hate? People who still use the word “hipster.” Just stop. When you say “hipster,” you really just mean “asshole,” so say that instead.OK. People who think they're doing something ironic and funny when they go to dinner at the Olive Garden are assholes. Is that better?
(So since Wednesday I've taken a dump on two other bloggers. My bad.)
Back to my point - adult coloring books. It'd be fun to have some of the cartoons and TV shows from my youth re-released in coloring book form, and it'd be terrific to be given a few minutes every day at my desk to color Megatron pea green, or give David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight a John 3:16 rainbow afro. It's never going to happen though. The minute this stuff came to market, you'd have the hipst - I mean assholes - ruining it for the rest of us. The landscape would be littered with the unscrubbed vintage clothing clad dickweeds with the intentionally mussy hair and Wilco-fetishes bringing their coloring books to coffee houses and making a big deal out of nothing with a sideways smirk.
No thanks assholes.
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Seven Words - Kentucky Derby
Seven words per horse, more involved handicapping coming later...
1 - SORT IT OUT (Baffert/Blanc) - Three wins, then regressed next three - 50-1 (morning line)
2 - ANDROMEDA'S HERO ( Zito/Bejarano) - Big longshot. Hasn't won a graded race - 50-1
3 - SUN KING (Zito/Prado) - Can rate or lead. Might be surprising - 15-1
4 - NOBLE CAUSEWAY (Zito/Stevens) - Only one big race. Still, some talent - 12-1
5 - COIN SILVER (Pletcher/Valenzuela) - Never faced top horses. Unlikely to factor - 20-1
6 - HIGH LIMIT (Frankel/Dominguez) - Only two preps, but impressive in Louisiana - 12-1
7 - FLOWER ALLEY (Pletcher/Chavez) - Two preps, one win. Beaten soundly last - 20-1
8 - GREATER GOOD (Holthus/McKee) - Connections aren't bigtime, but don't ignore Rebel - 20-1
9 - GREELEY'S GALAXY (Stute/Desormeaux) - Off three wins, but against who exactly? - 15-1
10 - GIACOMO (Shirreps/Smith) - Weirder things have happened, not here though - 50-1
11 - HIGH FLY (Zito/Bailey) - Five for six and has steadily improved - 8-1
12 - AFLEET ALEX (Ritchey/Rose) - Ignore Rebel, will be a big factor - 9-2
13 - SPANISH CHESTNUT (Biancone/Bravo) - Only here to press pace. Throw out - 50-1
14 - WILKO (Dollase/Nakatani) - Won Juvenile in 03, unspectacular in 04 - 20-1
15 - BANDINI (Pletcher/Velazquez) - Will press pace, rightly a favorite here - 6-1
16 - BELLAMY ROAD (Zito/Castellano) - Huge last race, handicappers say he'll regress - 5-2
17 - DON'T GET MAD (Ellis/Baze) - Raced just last week? No thank you - 30-1
18 - CLOSING ARGUMENT (McLaughlin/Velasquez) - Small time horse in big time spot - 30-1
19 - GOING WILD (Lukas/Valdiva) - Seventh and fifth last two, deserving longshot - 50-1
20 - BUZZARDS BAY (Mullins/Guidry) - Awful post for inconsistent colt. No way - 20-1
Okay, so here's a hand history
I played a two table $10 SNG early this afternoon, and had a terrific battle with the final four competitors which had no one willing to give an inch all the way down.
I won. It was awesome.
The winning hand, which you'll see below, needs a little context. I was really mixing it up playing heads-up, but my standard pre-flop bet was 1800. Just over 4xBB. We had battled heads-up for about ten minutes at this point, and I realized that I was going to have to play him from the flop forward to get his chips - he was no all-in monkey.
So in this hand, I had the BB, found 82o, and had a chip lead. He stubbornly raised the "standard" 3X BB, and since calling/folding if I missed left me with a lead, I came into the pot.
Feel free to tell me what you think of the play, I'm pretty comfortable with it.
#Game No : 1997957977
***** Hand History for Game 1997957977 *****
NL Hold'em Trny:11905560 Level:9 Blinds (200/400) - Wednesday, May 04, 12:59:34 EDT 2005
Table 2 - Table(327526) Table #1 (Real Money)
Seat 2 is the button
Total number of players : 2
Seat 3: Boygza ( $12728 )
Seat 2: sethrsch ( $7272 )
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Boygza [ 8c 2h ]
sethrsch raises .
Boygza calls .
** Dealing Flop ** [ 4s, 8h, Qd ]
sethrsch bets .
Boygza raises .
sethrsch is all-In 
** Dealing Turn ** [ Ts ]
** Dealing River ** [ 7d ]
Boygza shows [ 8c, 2h ] a pair of eights.
sethrsch shows [ Kd, Ac ] high card ace.
Boygza wins 14544 chips from the main pot with a pair of eights.
Congratulations to player Boygza for winning tournament 2 - Table
Player sethrsch finished in 2 place and received $60
Player Boygza finished in 1 place and received $80
you're a joie
gg seth My chat in italics
sethrsch has left the table.
Boygza has left the table.
calling fuccin raises with 82
eat my nuts
nice job you fish
heh - nice
eat it fish
way to call on a draw
Q nothing had you beat
way to call on 8 hiu
made middle pair
you suck balllllls
you fuccin fish
good luck next one - it was a good match
Mental Health Day
So I'm talking online with Iggy last night, and I manage to offer some techie advice to the guy from my half-assed mental pamphlet of technical knowledge, when he pulls out the fact that he's probably just shy of one of the worlds' greatest experts (or something) in what I'm trying to explain and I'm an idiot and moron because it doesn't work like how I'm trying to explain it...
By the way, the "idiot and moron" part is mine. Iggs would have strung me along a lot farther before calling me an idiot, I just managed to recognize it myself before he got the chance to rub it in.
So I mention this because Iggy said to me, "That reminds me... I have to reclassify your blog as Languishing."
So in that instant I made the decision on which I've been teetering for about two weeks. I'm taking a sick day today. I miss my blog.
While most people would use an occasion such as this to sleep in and try like hell to avoid the morning sun, I laid the groundwork with a 530AM voicemail to my boss, and haven't been back to sleep yet. It's seven-something AM, I'm on my second cup of coffee (from an official WPBT-issue mug), and I just couldn't wait to get back on the horse and get to writing again.
So, speaking of writing...
I can't begin to tell you guys how flattered I've been in recent weeks and months with the compliments and recognition some of you guys have given me. For awhile, I was really concerned about "my writing" or the "direction my blog was taking" or "what I am really contributing to the community." Sound familiar? Keep in mind, this wasn't born out of jealousy that Otis had landed a paid blogger poker gig, or that Pauly was getting propositioned to write articles for profit.
No, only a guy who felt like he consistently had something of value to say about poker might have that kind of jealousy. That's not me.
I am jealous of Pauly and Otis though, but it's Rapid Eye Reality and Otis' storytelling and identifiable voice and tone, and it's Pauly's Truckin' stories, his dedication to writing as a craft, his ability to weave a piece of fiction, and his generosity towards other bloggers and writers.
I'm thrilled they're getting paid to write, and for what they're getting paid to do, they are far more deserving and better qualified than I. Were they getting paid to write stories about not getting laid in high school, maybe then I'd have a legitimate gripe.
I think for most bloggers, there's a sort of evolution that takes place. I started this thing, and no one came. Then a few, then a few more started reading me regularly. I wasn't sure what I was doing with this place, but between telling "war stories" and linking to interesting (to me) articles and such, at least I was posting with regularity. Then, either I found this poker blogger community or it found me and my readership increased.
That worked for awhile. So long as I was posting three or four times a week about poker, I felt I was contributing. Between the 2500 word per day brain dumps and the poker content, I had found a formula, my readership was increasing, and I was (and am) part of a community.
From minute one writing this thing I started seeking out other blogs, finding ones whose subject matter and/or style interested me and reading. When I became part of this poker blogger community, all of a sudden I had a bunch of interesting people surrounding me with the same hobby, similar tastes, and tons of content for me on a daily basis.
Two things started happening as I grew into being part of this community. First, my readership plateaued - which I'll get to in a minute. The second is that by reading other poker blogs, I figured out what I didn't want to talk about. I don't mean that to denigrate anyone who is writing the type of stuff I'm not. It's just that there are things I feel I can't make interesting - strategy, hand histories, online tournament reports for instance.
Overall, I felt like I was posting some decent stuff, but really wasn't sure what I was doing. Look, writing is one of the very few things I have an ego about. I'm not saying I'm Ernest Fucking Hemingway or something, but I feel that I'm an above-average communicator and for about a year or more have been a pretty damn good blogger. I'm readable, personal, kinda funny, and generally unafraid to share. I don't know what else you need in a blog, but I feel like I bring those things to the table (most of the time) in spades.
I'm proud of what I've created here.
That being said, sometime late last year I started thinking about this blog too damn much. I started putting myself up against other bloggers I knew and read and wondering why I didn't have their readership. I started looking at some "famous" blogs (including - and I'm not linking to it because I'm going to come off like an asshole saying this - d.o.o.c.e. - dot - com) with thousands of people visiting a day and wondering why the fuck these people were widely read when they weren't by any stretch any more interesting than I am. Worst of all, I felt like I had painted myself into a corner with my blogging style. I felt like I had to talk about poker, and felt like I had to do what people had grown to expect of me when they got here - neither of which were fun for me while I had all of this bouncing around in my head.
I can't deny that seeing Pauly and Otis take steps directly from their blogs into paid gigs had an effect too. But, as I said, they are more than capable and deserving of what they got. I'm not jealous that they got something I didn't, I was just left wondering what my next step was going to be.
This, actually, is the follow up to my whiny-little-bitch post from early January. This is what I wanted to articulate at that point, which I'm pretty sure didn't come across appropriately.
I actually solved this crisis of confidence with a simple question to myself: Whattaya want BG, a fucking blue ribbon?
Seriously, this is my hobby. This isn't my job. No one is going to award me a diploma at the end of all of this. I don't have to write about poker if I don't want to. I don't have to be anything I don't want to be inside this space.
I stopped thinking about this as some sort of means to an undefined end, and just quit worrying. I'm not trying to sell anything, I'm not trying to get a book deal, I just want to entertain myself here. Who cares how many people do or don't read me? My friends in the poker blogging community keep coming back despite the lack of true poker content, and it's appreciated. But I don't write for anyone but me. I decided I'm not going to feel beholden to anyone to post content just because I'm a "poker blogger." Frankly, I'm not. I'm just a blogger whose readership is largely made up of my friends, who happen to be poker bloggers.
Once I got over this mental hurdle, and realized I didn't have to be anyone I didn't want to be here, I feel like I'm writing with more direction and confidence than I've been able to before. I'm not always going to be knocking it out of the park, but I feel good about why I'm writing now. The irony of that is that the answer to "why I'm writing" is really the nebulous "because."
Because it's here. Because I've got something I want to say. Because I can. Because I feel like I'm good at it.
By the way? Landing a column on PokerPlayerNewspaper seems counterintuitive to what I've just said about being hemmed into providing poker content, but in reality it's a challenge I'm really relishing. Since the audience is wider I can't fall back into hand history/tournament report crap. I have to challenge myself to be interesting about a subject that I'm no genius about.
Anyway, this one was for Ryan and Chad (-Errata and Rama-rama respectively) and whoever else might be struggling with "their place in the community" or whatever. My advice?
Quit thinking about it and just keep writing.
The rest of us will still be there on the other side of wherever you want to take us.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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