Tales From The Main

Snapshots of small town life - zany characters and our neverending poker game.

Friday, July 28, 2006

I'm not dead - just resting...

Back from wedding, vacation, family reunion. Life returning to normal.

While strolling through an airport concourse the other day I was struck by just how much of a giant dork people look wearing bluetooth headsets. It is probably telling that not once in my life have I seen a woman wearing a big hunk of plastic with a flashing blue light covering the side of their head. Personally I'll wait until someone with more fashion sense comes up with a cool, non dork design.

Only a quick post. I'm working fairly hard today to finish up some business.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Pretty Beat

Just helped Marcia with studying for a math exam. The kid has it cold and boy math is much more intense than when I was in high school.

I managed to play an hour or two last night after a charity golf tournament. I'm looking forward to playing lots of golf in later life . . .

Hours Played 2
Net winnings +$125
Hours Played 167
Year to date net of expenses + $5036.00
Hourly rate + $30.15

Pretty Beat

Just helped Marcia with studying for a math exam. The kid has it cold and boy math is much more intense than when I was in high school.

I managed to play an hour or two last night after a charity golf tournament. I'm looking forward to playing lots of golf in later life . . .

Hours Played 2
Net winnings +$125
Hours Played 167
Year to date net of expenses + $5036.00
Hourly rate + $30.15

Friday, June 16, 2006

Fight Night

I dropped in on the club around 2 am last night hoping to get in a few hands but the game had already broken. Probably just as well as I was a little incapacitated from the evening we had experienced.

We had been invited out by some friends to a charity boxing event. It turned out to be a pretty cool evening – lots of glittery people, decent food and even a couple of entertaining boxing matches. Between bouts there were live auctions of memorabilia and our host got involved in bidding on a hockey jersey. He timed the auction perfectly – helping the auctioneer run up the price to more than two thousand dollars before stopping and letting another person on the other side of the room ‘win’ it. Good thing too as they have quite a number of charity hockey jerseys that he has already bought sitting around at home.

Some of our local hockey professionals were sponsoring the event so we collected a few autographs for the kids then headed out with our table to a patio for a few more cocktails. It turns out that some of the other guests were close friends with other friends of ours. The world really is a pretty small place.

This weekend Carol is doing a triathalon. It’s a team event so she is doing the water portion – which in this case involves canoeing. Tonight I have a soccer game (2-0-1 on the season so far) and we have a family dinner on Sunday. Apart from that it is a fairly quiet weekend though I may try and organize a dinner party for Saturday night.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Back from our trip to Vegas

We're got back from Vegas yesterday morning. It was quite the trip - if you're going to be in Vegas I highly reccomend you do it in the company of one of the most successful gamblers in the world :) Follow the link for all the details.

Losing two nights sleep in a row played a bit of havoc with my system so yesterday afternoon I decided to take a nap. I was so out of it I didn't even realize the cleaning ladies were busy working around me!

Later that evening we had multiple soccer games to go to. Little Cindy was playing and had a breakaway on net. She kicked the ball as hard as she could, cleanly beating the other team's 'keeper, only to have the ball stop rolling right on the goal line. The sidelines went crazy yelling at both her and the 'keeper to get the ball while the two little girls just stood there looking at it. After what seemed like ages (but was probably no more than 10 seconds), another defender came swooping in and cleared it out. One of these days she'll get one!

After soccer and bedtime rituals Carol and I decided to chill out with a DVD. We popped in an oldie, Gandhi, which I had never seen before. It probably wasn't the best choice for a night when I was already tired as it ran more than 3 hours but if you haven't seen it I highly reccomend it if for nothing more than the absolutely stunning performance by Ben Kingsley in the title role. (Note: Just checked - it won 8 Oscars including Best Actor. I can't argue with the academy's choice on that one). As a tech executive that deals with Indian companies on a regular basis I am somewhat ashamed to admit that my watching of that film comprises the sum total of my knowledge of the life of Gandhi. Considering India's position in the world today and the film's depiction of the influence he had in the development of modern India I owe it to myself to further my education. If anyone has a book they recommend on the topic please let me know.

Tonight will be a quiet night as will the rest of this week. The only event we are scheduled for is a charity boxing event on Thursday (spectating not participating). Looking forward the weekend is empty! I wonder what trouble we can get into?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Nothing too exciting

Made the trek to play in the tournament - I need the practice to get ready for the weekend.

Busted out of the tournament early - not from lack of skill but because the first prize was only $150 - and the play was sooo slow. Also there was a juicy cash game starting up and I wanted to grab a seat.

Some old new faces in the game - Mr. Sub and friend. Sam and Bboy, Couch, Smiley and new guy made up the table. I was pumped, then proceeded to lose my first $80 in a heartbeat. I rebought, then proceeded to get cold decked for the rest of the evening. I ran two bluffs successfully and also won a bit on a flush draw call getting 5:1 on my money. Most of the time though was fold, call - fold, check - fold, fold fold fold fold.

Time for bed.

Hours Played 4
Net winnings +$60
Hours Played 165
Year to date net of expenses + $4911.00
Hourly rate + $29.86

Well I went out last night . . .

To tell the truth it's actually still tonight - though late into tomorrow by the hour clock.

It was a fun night. I had dry cards almost all night. I did hit AA, KK and QQ each once - and each one held up! I also hit three sets of which one was cracked by a flush draw without the right odds to draw. The big thing was I didn't donk off my chips at all. I stayed solid and conservative - winning or having good cards with each showdown.

I had an interesting hand that set up a profitable play later in the evening. I found pocket nines in middle position. I entered raising with my standard bet. I had several callers but everyone to the button folded so I was always last to bet. The flop came J x x with two clubs. Checks around and I quickly bet $20. Fold fold to Sam, the erstwhile host and proprietor of the establishment. Sam had a huge stack - at least $800 in front of him. He calls - as he is wont to do. Turn was a Kh. Sam checks to me, and sensing trouble, I check back. River's nothing, Sam looks at me, checks, and I flip over my nines. He nods acknowledgement that I was at least showing some strength, then wins the pot with his QJ. The interesting part came about an hour later.

The place had emptied, Angus, Smiley, Sarge and a few come and goes had all busted out and headed home. I was late position and found Q7, both clubs. Ninety eight times out of one hundred I throw it away right there. This time I enter raising. Fold, fold, call, call, call, including Sam - who wil have to act before me. Flop is J 9 3 with two clubs amd a heart. Check, check, bet from Sam, $5, call, I raise to $20. Fold, insignificant new guy calls, Sam calls, fold. Turn is another heart. Check, Sam, looking a little uneasy, bets $50. I hem and haw and finally call - looking to raise on the river on any club. The river falls a heart though Sam immediately checks. I am caught off balance a bit and am playing with my chips. To give my self a moment I break down the stack of blacks I am riffling into bet sized chunks. Then, bursting with anticipation, I push $60 into the pot. Sam overtly shudders - $60 is actually pretty small here - and it is setting off all kinds of warning bells. I don't generally bluff - a fact he is well aware of - and I could conceivably have all kinds of hands that could beat him here. He talks out loud to himself, remembering all the times I had shown down hands. Finally he mucks for want of a $60 call into a $208 pot, after thoroughly convincing himself that he was beaten.

I smiled, enigmatically, and mucked my hand, and dragged the chips.

Not a feat to be attempted lightly, or often.

All in all a great buildup for the weekend. Kudos to Carol for helping me find time to practice. The big tournament in Vegas is only a few days away.

Hours Played 6
Net winnings +$420
Hours Played 161
Year to date net of expenses + $4851.00
Hourly rate + $30.13

Monday, June 05, 2006

More details on life

The airline industry has recently been cutting back on the number of flight they operate in a bid to boost profits. While I applaud the macroeconomic and environmental aspects of this strategy I have to admit that this is one area of productivity gain that is hitting me right in the middle seat. Airplanes are decidely more crowded these days. My strategy of flying economy on red eyes has backfired recently. I used to be able to guarantee myself a complete row but lately all I am guaranteed is a middle seat in a non-reclining aisle. Time to start using that online advance seat selection option.

I am going to be busy planning my summer this week. We have quite a bit happening over the next few months. The first event is a short trip into Vegas this weekend. Carol and I are heading down with a bunch of poker afficionados to hang out with a well known poker player. I just receieved the agenda for the weekend and we are having a poker tournament in the VIP room at Caesar's on Saturday afternoon. Now Carol has played in a couple of tournaments we've had with the kids at home but it is safe to say she has never played a serious game. Talk about diving headfirst into the deep end. Caesar's is one of the top casinos in the world and their new poker room is state of the art. Let's just say that if she can pull out a good showing it will be the ultimate beginner's luck story.

Health wise things seem to be on track. I am riding to work and playing soccer. Soccer has been going reasonably well. We're 1-0-1 so far this season with 6 goals for and 1 against. Seeing as I play the pivotal role on defence I think my contributions thus far have been effective.

I'm going to try and get out to play some cards tonight - we'll see how the evening shakes out. If I am going to do anything well this weekend I need to get in some more practice. Details tomorrow.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Good Night and Great Idea

Went out for card night with the boys last night. I met quite a few new faces, some better than others. I played solidly, maxing out on my good hands, laying down well and winning one all-in semi bluff for $180.

The table was friendly, fast and fun. I did the bank and when I cashed out at 1:00 it balanced to the penny.

Laying in bed after playing I had an epiphany for PariVici (or maybe ParVici). Each category will be handled by a moderator. Each moderator will recieve a portion of the 'rake' per the affiliate system. As the site grows moderators will be able to subdivide their category, have sub-moderators, and collect a portion of their earnings.


Hours Played 6
Net winnings +$380
Hours Played 155
Year to date net of expenses + $4431.00
Hourly rate + $28.59

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

This Online Poker Tournament is a No Limit Texas Holdem event exclusive to Bloggers.

Registration code: 9097825

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A billion dollar idea.

I have been watching the proliferation of Web 2.0 startups closely and have noticed a common thread in most of their business plans. It appears they have settled on an advertising model as their revenue source. Now I concede that Google et al have shown that advertising can be a lucrative business – in fact our major TV networks have been ad supported for years – however in the crowded world of the web having another way to make money should be very important.

I may have mentioned this previously so bear with me. The plan has been thought about and refined many times since I originally developed the concept.

People are creative. People are competitive. The web encourages collaboration and creativity among groups of geographically dispersed users with common interests. Our platform – PariVici – will allow users to create, compete and win.

The name of the site is derived from the Latin Pario , meaning to create, and vici , meaning to win.

Users select categories, level of competiton (defined by the amount of money they are willing to invest to enter) and then create an original submission. Each competition operates in a Sit n Go manner meaning there are a defined number of entries accepted and once those have been received the entries are closed and competition begins. Entrants progress through several stages culminating in an award level paying the top entrants.

An example:

In the photography, sports, $5 competition. The tournament launches with 90 spots available. Each entrant submits their photo and pays a $5 entry fee. Once 90 entries have been received the contest begins.

Registered members click on the ongoing tournaments tab, then select the categor(ies) they wish to vote on. Each voter is served a selection of entries from that tournament and ranks their preference of the submissions. An algorithm to ensure that each entry is shown an equal number of times is employed.

After the system determines that enough votes have been cast to ensure a statistically reliable result the tournament moves to the next stage. In the example above the top 10% (9 entries) based on votes garnered in the preliminary stage make the tournament ‘final table’.

Registered visitors can now click on a ‘final table’ tab for this tournament and be shown all of the remaining entries. At this point the voting is reset and each entry starts as an equal favorite. Each visitor can bet for the entry they believe to be the winner. Bets will range from $1.00 to a maximum of the entry fee of the tournament – in this case $5.00.
Betting will remain open for a set period of time. After the betting closes all wagers will be tabulated. The entry with the most money wagered on it will win first, second most second and so on.

Payouts will be made two ways:

For contestants – they will receive prize money based on their finish position. In this example first will receive $135, second $90, third $67.50, fourth $45, fifth $33.75 and sixth will win $22.50

For bettors they will be paid out based on the amount of their wager, finish position of the entry they wagered on and total amount of money wagered on this contest. They payouts will be calculated based on pari-mutuel rules – exactly the same way horse racing payouts are calculated.

The house will make money in two ways. First we will keep a small percentage of the entry fees for each tournament. Second we will take a small commission on each wager placed.

Tournament categories will be seeded by the site but users will also have the ability to create new categories for competition. Current categories include:

Microsoft Paint creations
Jokes/Funny stories

Winning entries will make the front page.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Back in Training

Some recent events have caused Carol and I to take a small step back and evaluate some lifestyle choices. Without going into details let’s just say that we have some habits that we are not happy about – both from an example setting perspective as well as a health point of view.

Rather than make grand plans to change the world overnight we have decided to take some baby steps towards a healthier lifestyle. The first order of business is to eat a bit better. It’s not only a good thing for ours and the kid’s health – it’s also a money saving plan. The strategy is for me to plan the week’s meals – and Carol will buy the groceries to meet the menu. No more scrambling to figure out supper at 6:00pm and then caving and ordering pizzas.

The second strategy is to cut back on casual drinking. We’ve found that the presence of wine and beer in the house is, surprise surprise, causing us to drink it. The solution to that problem is to give up buying alcohol for home use. We’re not going to be foolish and decide to quit drinking – neither of us is an alcoholic by any stretch – but not having it around will cut back on the casual glasses of wine or beers on the patio that were becoming a little too much of a habit.

The final strategy is to pump up the exercise regime a bit. We’ve been playing sports and working out for years – it’s just that the last six months have found us not doing as much as we were in the past and the results have shown – at least on me. Not to be a cliché but my goal is to drop 20 pounds putting me back where I was this time twelve months ago. I have a feeling the first 10 will melt away just from cutting down on the frosties so I am giving myself two weeks to lose the first 10 and then another month to drop the last 10. Check back in often for progress reports. Gut check today – 204 pounds. (My goal is actually 180 but 20 pounds sounds much more attainable than 24 )

Friday, May 12, 2006

They stole my idea! – Well not really.

I don’t know about the rest of you but I find ideas pop into my head on a regular basis. One idea that I had was just validated by Skype – the internet telephone company that was bought by Ebay for billions of dollars last year.

Skype is now launching Skypecasts – essentially a platform where you can invite a group of people to an online town hall meeting. Great idea – I had a better one 6 months ago.

My idea involves allowing everyone to join the town hall by videoconference. Looking at your computer screen you would see a mass of little ovals – each one with a static picture of the participant. As the floor recognizes someone to speak – their oval swells and the video feed goes live so everyone can see and hear the speaker. Other neat touches would include a shout down function – enough listeners hit their virtual boo button and the speaker gets hustled from the podium; perhaps a vote or secret ballot function to help in translating the talking into action; and of course all the other collaboration and archiving features that are commonplace in forums these days.

The real key though is the ability to bring together geographically dispersed groups of like minded people by giving them the ability to organize and customize the experience. As to the $64,000 question – we make money by selling the information we mine.

Yeah yeah, weak business plan. Perhaps we just sell ads through Google like everyone else.

A big apology goes out to my hundreds of dedicated readers – I have been negligent in updating this little bit of the blogosphere lately. For those of you interested in the dark, degenerate poker side of life I have managed to sneak in two sessions over the last couple of weeks. Let’s see. Thursday last was a blah kind of night. Close enough to break even on the night to not matter much – and beyond that no interesting hands or confrontations. That is with the exception of Doctor Frank. I believe the words ‘social retard’ were directed in his general direction. He immediately jumped up and demanded satisfaction in the parking lot – which to his surprise his tormentor was more than willing to give. A quick trip out – bing bang boom – game continues apace.

Last night was a bit of a different story. We played short handed almost all night. The only time the table filled up occurred when two young guys sat down – with $20 each as a bankroll. I knew they weren’t long for the action when one of them warned us that he had been playing lots of online poker as practice – and that he would try and take it easy on us. He busted out in the first hand – and not on a bad beat.

We settled at a core group – Doc, Sarge, Bboy, Smiley and myself. Lord Fop was also in – he made an impression on me the last few times we played hence his elevation to named status. He is an older guy with a clipped English accent and a way of wearing a golf shirt with a little style. If you squint you can see the cravat and smoking jacket just dying to come out of the wardrobe.

The action was pretty light. I lost a bundle when my pocket aces were cracked by a King high flush – and another bundle on a failed attempt to bluff another King high flush off of a pot. Apart from that I played quite well. Interestingly enough the big hands that I made serious money on were hands like 5-4 (boated up), 5-2 (drew an A to 5 straight on the turn), 6-2 (hit trip sixes on the flop) and 10-2 (two pair on the flop). Hands were I won the pot – but with no action were AA (flopped my set of aces – everyone folded to my half pot size bet) and 66 (flopped a set and rivered quads – only got $15 out of the hand). If nothing else my opponents should learn not to let the big blind see a free flop!

The single biggest hand of the evening came against Lord Fop. I found KQo on the button. A good player – who had just sat down a few orbits ago – made it $10 to go UTG. Lord Fop to my right called and I decided to see the flop. It came out K 7 4 with two clubs – just about as good as I could possibly ask. The good player had only just started playing and didn’t have much of a stack – Lord Fop had about $100 back. Good checked and Fop forcefully put $20 into the pot. The way he bet, and evidence from a couple of previous hands, led me to believe he was on a draw and was just trying to by the pot. I debated for a second and then pushed my chips in. Good insta folded and Fop stupidly decided to call. Sure enough he had two clubs – and the turn and river blanked for him as they would be wont to do. I was able to drag a nice pot – and bust the Lord for the evening.

Hours Played 8 (two sessions)
Net winnings +$185
Hours Played 149
Year to date net of expenses + $4051.00
Hourly rate + $27.18

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Monday, May 01, 2006

When the going gets tough . . .

Honestly I’m not too sure what to write today – I just had the urge to commit virtual pen to virtual paper. I guess I’ll start with some good news – I booked another order on Friday bringing my fiscal year to a nice close. Now I can look forward an entire year before the stress begins again. I also started my exercise regime in earnest. My plan is to ride to work (or home from work) while Carol does the other leg of the trip. Luckily we work in close proximity to each other (and live at the same houseJ) so this should work out quite well. Check back with me in 2 months for a progress report. For the record my starting weight is 199lbs. Goal – 180lbs. Shouldn’t be too hard as I was at 180 only six months ago. The extra twenty is a combination of a subsidized cafeteria, virtually unlimited expense account and the fact that I quit going to the gym right around six months ago!

No poker update for today – at least not the cash game type. I did get an email from Party Poker informing me that they had kindly donated $20 to my dormant account. OK says I. So I logged on and played about 40 minutes of short handed $25 no limit. I now have $70 in the account. Time to retire!

I do have a stressful meeting coming up this week . . . I need to go to Jan and Peter’s school to give a speech on what I do for a living. I suspect I should focus on the company I work for and what they do. I have a feeling that explaining the strategic investment of corporate R&D resources on appropriate projects may not excite the kids too much. Since my company is involved in designing high end television and graphics chips I’ll stick to cool pictures of chips and leave out all the boring finance and legal stuff that I actually spend my time on.

That’s it for now – perhaps next blog I’ll post an excerpt from my new novel.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Firing on all cylinders…

Yesterday I decided to put my fitness regime in high gear and start riding my bike to work. I have to admit it was a little longer than I expected – around 13 miles – but about 10 minutes after I arrived I was feeling fantastic. Nothing like a brisk few minutes of exercise to raise your spirits.

The good feeling persisted throughout the day and into the evening. I was able to blast through a couple of poker books – I read Antonio E’s slim volume on no limit cash games – it was surprisingly good – and also read a little more in the killer poker series. It must have helped because I ended up with a big night on the table.

My night started out slowly and I was stuck about $100 within the first hour. Then everything came together. My first big hand started when I found 67s on the button. I raised – hoping to represent AK or AQ and had three callers. The flop came K85 rainbow. Callin’ bet $10 and both Moose and I called. The turn was a beautiful 4. Callin’ bet and both Moose and I smooth called. The river brought a deuce, Callin’ bet another $20, Moose folds and I popped it $45 more. Callin’ called with K8 and I was off to the races.

I made a few other big hands – one where I busted Moose holding a J to his 7 on a JJ77A board – I must have taken him for $250 on that hand alone. I was also able to grab a big pot off of Doc when I filled another boat on the turn to his top two pair. We started around 6 and by 9 I was sitting on a stack of over $800 – probably 60% of all the chips in play.

Carol had dropped by on her way home from work and she was looking fine – I had already told the boys that I was out of there early that night and none of them could possibly misunderstand why! I announced I was leaving after one more round (8 hands) then proceeded to pick up A10, A8s, A3c and AKo. I also found pocket 6’s and pocket 4’s. In all I had playable hands in 6 of my last 8 yet did not hit a single flop. I ended up giving back $160 of my stack in the last round but even in hindsight there wasn’t much I could do about that. I am particularly proud of my A10o hand. I was in late position and both Angus and Doogie Howser limped in front of me. I popped it to 5X the BB looking to just take it down there – only to have Angus raise me then Doogie reraise him. I laid my hand down – showing it to Callin’ before I did. He later told me that he could not believe I laid that hand down – probably a good reason why I have yet to see him cash out at the end of an evening! The flop came 10 high rainbow – good thing I laid my hand down as Angus held QQ and Doogie had JJ. One big bet saved right there.

All in all it was an excellent night. I was home by 10:30 with money in my pocket and a sense of satisfaction. I was able to maximize my big hands and minimize the pots I lost. Not once did I push the second best hand and the monster hands I did get were played with marginal hands like J9s and 67s. Just a little reinforcement for the boys that I am a maniac loose aggressive person when in reality I am the tightest player at the table.

Hours Played 4
Net winnings +$520
Hours Played 141
Year to date net of expenses + $3866.00
Hourly rate + $27.41

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Travel travel travel

The next few months are going to be interesting. Between now and the end of June I will be in San Francisco, LA, Austin, Dallas, Boston, New Jersey, Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle and last but not least - Vegas. Whew. I'm getting tired just thinking about it.

Travel is one of those things that appears exciting - but only to those who don't do it! In reality travelling is a pain in the butt. I think that one reason airlines continue with their super costly frequent flyer programs is to keep people like me from throwing up our hands and saying "Enough!". Somehow it makes the last leg of a 24hr trip go a little easier knowing that you've just added 5000 points to your airline account.

Most of my trips in the next two months are work related, with two exceptions. I'm going to Vancouver at the end of June to visit family and I'm bringing the family and possibly Huck too. The other trip that is on my time is Vegas. I'm going to spend a weekend with a professional poker player - maybe I can teach him a thing or two...

Speaking of poker I've put in two sessions since I last blogged. Neither went well which seems to be my lot in life these days. I lost a total of $220 over the two sessions - I guess on the bright side the losses do include my food and drink expenses. No hands really stand out - in fact it seemed the only hands I won were places where I sucked out on someone on the river - and the big hands I lost happened when I pushed with a huge lead only to have someone suck out on me. Oh well. It happens. I might go back tonight and see if I can turn things around!

Hours Played 7
Net winnings -$220
Hours Played 137
Year to date net of expenses + $3346.00
Hourly rate + $24.42

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A Quiet Night in the Old Town

Perhaps quiet is not the right word. Loud and raucous may be a better description. Monday night found me back in my chair, staring down at Sarge, Sam, Angus, Bboy and Smiley. Moose was there for the short term and gave me the best laugh I’ve had in many a week.

Seems old Moosie has been spending far too much time with the boys and way to little with the missus. Now Moose is no spring chicken – he’s 75 if he’s a day – nor is he anyone’s idea of a model of fitness. His idea of exercise is walking outside to have a smoke. So here’s old Moose, under strict orders to be home at 9pm. The clock ticks along and 9pm comes and goes. Moose decides he’s going to stay and play – then makes the mistake of phoning the boss from the table to ‘tell’ her he’s staying. Instead the conversation goes something like, “Hi Honey – I know I’m late already but ….. but ….. but ….. well can I stay until 9:30? …… but …….. but dear …… well can I stay for 15 more minutes . . . . . . please can I stay for 10 minutes more?” We were all busting a gut trying to keep the laughter in. Sarge cracks the best line, “Moose! You’re 75 years old – you might not even wake up in the morning! What the *$%# are you asking permission for at this point?

All in all in was a casual game – Sarge hit his 3 outer on the river with me twice – cost me about $250 in those hands. Still I stayed cool – played speculative hands only in position – pushed when I thought I had an edge – and was able to build my way back up. After being down over $300 I was able to win a couple of juicy pots and bank a positive result by the time the rooster’s started crowing. Long night – bad cards – still won a few bucks. I’d say my game is improving!

Hours Played 6Net winnings +$20.00Hours Played 130Year to date net of expenses + $3566.00Hourly rate + $27.43

Friday, April 14, 2006

It's always easier to write about good news.

The roadshow continued this last week but I perservered and made it out for two full nights of play.

Tuesday found me showing up late, well after the kids were in bed. I had to hang around for a seat and was on the verge of leaving when one magically opened. I don't know if it was fatigue or just plain ennui but I found myself never really into the game. No hands stand out and after all the dust settled I was $35 to the negative after 3 hours of play.

I organized my schedule around an early arrival on Thursday - pumped to put in some hours. Unfortunately I was totally card dead for a big chunk of the evening. In an eight handed game I went from 8 pm to 11:30 pm without dragging a single pot. The good news is I never dropped my chipstack below my buy in over those long hours, leaving me well positioned to take advantage when the cards turned. And turn they did.

By that time the table was mainly the regular bunch; Doc, Sarge, Moose, Angus, Pooh, B-boy and a new guy who talked kinda funny but who I thought was a little smarter than he was making out to be. In keeping with tradition he will remain nameless until he earns the right to a name but if that day comes I have a good one in mind. Needless to say he busted out after 4 or 5 hours leaving at least $300 on the table.

My big hand of the evening came when I drew AQoffsuit in the small blind. I bumped it preflop and had three callers. Flop came Q x x and I was off to the races. I threw out a $20 bet into the $33 pot and had moose and the newb call. Moose was in front of me and newb was dealing. The turn was a blank. I bet out $40 and Moose raised me $40 more. Newb folded and I decided to just call - there was no way of knowing but Moose could have easily made two pair - he'll play any two cards. The turn was another blank and I decided to test him - I threw in $60 - prepared to throw it away if he raised - but the big guy hemmed and hawed - then finally called only to get outkicked by my ace. Nice hand for me as I was able to drag about $350 - almost doubling up.

The rest of the night I was able to keep it under control - making more well considered laydowns than normal. At the close of business I found myself up $390 - not great but a positive result.

Hours Played 9.5
Net winnings +$355.00

Hours Played 124
Year to date net of expenses + $3546.00
Hourly rate + $28.60

Friday, April 07, 2006

A Life of Leisure

I’ve spent this week traveling around the U.S. Nothing unusual in that except for the fact that this trip has seen every single freakin’ flight I was on either delayed, diverted or outright cancelled. Somehow my meeting schedule hasn’t been messed up – it was only my sleeping time that got cut short. I remember early in my career thinking that travel was glamorous and exciting - now I know better.

Enough complaining for now as things are actually going quite well in life. Carol is her usual positive and fun self, all the little Brady’s are either healthy or recovering from illness, my big deal at work closed on schedule and I have a weekend of fun and debauchery awaiting my return. I’m actually thinking of cutting the trip short and bugging out for home Thursday night – hope I don’t catch Carol in bed with someone – unless of course the someone is a tasty blonde! (heh heh heh)

Precious little has happened on the poker front this week. I did manage to drop by the Main for a quick drink earlier in the week and found a game in progress with an empty seat. With quick glance at my watch, some creative mental arithmetic and a plausible cover story in hand I convinced myself I had time to sit in for an hour. Good thing. I won the first hand I played, then the second and then found AK offsuit in the cutoff position. After my standard raise both Moose and Sarge decided to see the flop with me. It came out rags and I laid down my big slick after a mini-bet from Moose. Good thing I did lay it down as the turn came out a bullet! Sarge was short-stacked and pushed it all in – Moose wasted no time in calling and flipped over a set – Sarge showed two pair ace high. Possible disaster averted by me!

I was very good at getting up and leaving when I supposed to. I got a few dirty looks for my hit and run but heh – deal with it.

Hours Played 1
Net winnings +$120.00

Hours Played 114.5Year to date net of expenses + $3051.00Hourly rate + $26.64

Breaking news. My flight landed really late – Carol would already be asleep by the time I made my drive home from the airport. Sounded like a time for POKER!

I swung by the Main a little after midnight and found a game in full swing. Within 10 minutes Callin’ Jr. gave up his seat and I was able to play. The regular crew was there, Angus Young, Moose, Doc, Sarge, B-Boy, the Captain and a new guy who was sitting with a big stack. I sat down and played my regular TAG game and completely blew through the new guys stack. Bing bang boom. In and out in less than an hour (the game broke up at 1am) with a nice $140 score. Come on back new guy – I’ll even give you a name for next time.

Hours Played 1
Net winnings +$140.00

Hours Played 115.5Year to date net of expenses + $3191.00
Hourly rate + $27.63

Friday, March 24, 2006

Back on Track!!!

I showed up at the Main with a renewed sense of confidence. I have no idea where it came from as this hasn’t exactly been a week of triumphs but it was there nonetheless. Thursdays are turning out to be a hopping night – I walked in just before 6pm and was lucky to get a seat at the feature table. The game was eight-handed almost right from the start, including me there was Sarge, Moose, Callin’, Doc, Happy, Kid Tight and a newb who reminded me of the scary dude in the Goonies – I’ll call him Goonie for lack of a better word!

I got stuck in right away and dropped my first $40 before starting a long slow run up. There were a couple of key hands through the night; one where I was on the button and had A6o. I saw a cheap flop that came AA9. Bingo! Checks around to Goonie on my right who, without hesitation, pushed his entire stack in the middle. Now my first thought was to just throw my hand away but I decided to take my time and think it out. No one had raised preflop, and I had seen Goonie raise big with a naked ace as well as a small pocket pair. The other thing was his bet – most people with trip aces and a good kicker tend to check the flop hoping to induce action on the turn. With that in mind I put him on a 9 and called – hoping for a caller or two behind me. No such luck as it was folds all around leaving a pot of about $65 for us to fight over. Goonie looked a little sick and flipped over 34o!!! What a moron!

He proceeded to rebuy a couple more times – only to be stacked by both Sarge and Doc. Feel free to come back anytime dude – make sure you watch a few more episodes of the World Poker Tour – I think the lessons are starting to sink in!

My night was moving along well – I was really focused on fixing my major leak – the crying calls when I know I am beat but just have too much emotionally invested in the pot to let it go. I was also being a lot better about my starting hand selection as I have a tendency to loosen my opening requirements once I have built a stack. I have found that starting hands like QJo and 9 10 off are very expensive – often making very good, but second best hands.

In the entire six hour session I made only one glaring error that I can think of. Holding 52clubs in the big blind I was able to see a free flop which came 5 2 K rainbow. Uh oh. No slow play for me – I bet out the pot ($12) and got 2 callers. Turn is another 5 filling out my very well disguised boat. Since it was Doc and Moose in the hand with me I decided to keep betting to represent the K and pushed $40 into the pot. Both of them called! Still – I wasn’t worried at all and was quite happy to take their money. The river came another K and also brought a flush potential to the board. I wouldn’t put it past Moose to chase a backdoor flush draw but Doc is smarter than that. I put him on the K and Moose on either the K or the flush. Here’s the stupid part – somehow I missed the fact that a K gave them a better boat than me! Time to go back to Poker 101 I think. Stupidly I bet $100 into the pot only to be raised (obviously) by Doc and then re-raised by Moose. I then compounded my error by calling! What was I thinking? Well really I wasn’t thinking – the part of my brain that actually reads the cards and figures out what hand beats what had just turned off for a few minutes rest. Of course they both had a king and end up chopping the pot – and my $700 stack is reduced to just over $400. Dummy!

I was able to grind a little bit more and had the stack up around $500 when one of the last hands of the night came down. I was dealt fishhooks (pockets jacks for those of you new to the lingo). The flop came with an A Q x and all spades. One of my jacks was the spade. Turn is a blank – river another spade. By this time we are down to heads up – me and Birthdayboy - who had been playing about an hour. I put a $40 bet out on the river – very confident I had the best hand as only the K of spades could beat me. Birthday immediately came over the top with another $60. I thought and thought about it and eventually figured that he had either the K spades or 10 spades based on the way the hand had developed and I was 50-50 on which it was. Since the pot had over $200 in it already and it was only $60 to call I felt I had to make the call. Sure enough he was sitting on the king and I lost but at least I feel that I thought the problem through and made a good value decision.

In the end I booked a decent win – my food and bar tab was a little high tonight and I did tip Ms. Hottie well – but the net net was still $250 to the positive.

On a more serious note I have been following the Roe vs Wade for men case from the fringes. For those of you who don’t know it basically some 20something dude slept with this girl. She freely admits to telling this guy that she was both infertile and on the pill (hello! Alarm bells anyone?) and so sure enough ends up pregnant. He, understandably, is not thrilled with the idea of being a father at that point in his life and would prefer her to terminate the pregnancy or put the baby up for adoption. She decides to keep the baby, has it, then proceeds to sue for and win child support.

I keep flip flopping on my opinion in this case. Essentially the dude wants to wash his hands of the affair and is arguing that he was left with no say in the matter of the kid’s existence. On the woman’s side she now has this child who will need ‘stuff’ and no matter what the dude is paying the woman is sacrificing more to raise the child. It is an interesting dilemma and not one easily solved. There are valid arguments to be made on both sides – i.e. just because the women is the ‘container’ to gestate the child does that give her final say in every aspect of the child’s life? What about if the dude wins the case – and then the child grows up and wants to know her biological father. Doesn’t he then get the benefit of the hard work put in by the mother without any of the effort?

I guess the really smart thing to do is abstain from sex – or go get a vasectomy – or get the industry to develop a really good male contraceptive (Condoms anyone?)

My two cents – dude hasn’t got a hope in hell of winning. If he did it would open a Pandora’s box that we our justice system just doesn’t care to open.

Have a great weekend.


Hours Played 6
Net + $250.00

Hours Played 113.5
Year to date net of expenses + $2931.00
Hourly rate + $25.83

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Throw your television in the tar pit . . .

You can keep the display portion but the idea that we’ll all sit around a TV set watching the same thing at the same time is deader than the dinosaurs. Rumors of this have abounded for years but were officially confirmed earlier this week.

MTV – the former outlet for music videos – has licensed Canada’s CTV to rebrand a moribund digital channel known as TalkTV to MTV Canada. OK – so what’s the big deal. The issue is Canada’s CRTC – their equivalent of the FCC. Seems that the TalkTV license only allows for certain types of programming which will prevent MTV Canada from showing quite a few of MTV’s most popular and successful programs – Stripperella anyone? No problem says CTV brass. We broadcast what we’re allowed to on the TV channel – and stream all the rest through our CTV.ca website – we were mostly interested in the content anyway – the delivery mechanism is secondary.

The words above are mine – the CTV honcho wasn’t quite so cavalier. I believe his words were some marketing speak like “surround our customers with content options” but the reality is clear. No longer are the key demographic for MTV (read teenagers) hooked on televisions for their entertainment fix. They get it through their PCs and increasingly, through their cellphones. These mediums, BTW, do not have clumsy restrictions like content ratings, oversight bodies, codes of conduct and other impediments to making bucks that the big old TV dinosaurs have to contend with.

Oh for the days when the whole country watched the Cosby Show at exactly the same time. . .

(Sarcasm warning for those of you who didn’t quite get that)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Deja Vu all over again

I had a conversation with some friends last weekend where I mentioned that the valley was undergoing a venture capital boom akin to that seen in the dot com bubble. Now these friends are sophisticated professionals heavily involved in the technology business, and I could tell that they either didn’t quite believe me or choose not to believe me. Yet I worry that this wave could come crashing down on our heads much the same way the last one did – pessimist that I can be.

Here’s a tidbit of data to support my thesis from Peter Thiel at Founders Fund who was recently quoted as saying, “Early-state, first-round venture capital valuations are close to where they were in 1999 and 2000.”

Let’s think about this for a second. At a high level what is a VC thinking when he gives money to some uber-nerd with an business plan? The VC is not a noble creature out to create shiny new toys for the betterment of the universe – he’s looking to make money – and lots of it – for some hardnosed investors in his fund. The amount of money the nerd is able to get from the VC is driven by two things – the expected rate of return on the invested money, often a very fuzzy calculation, and the herd mentality of multiple investors clamoring to give money to the same nerd, allowing said nerd to demand more money in exchange for giving up less of his baby. What we are seeing right now is not investment based on rational expectations of positive returns but rather irrational investments by lemmings with bloated funds desparate not to miss out on the next MySpace.com. Yes I agree that this time around the general size of the investment is much smaller - no longer are we dealing with funding the building of the infrastructure with its huge capital requirements - but also the exits are equally smaller. I seriously doubt we will see more than one or two new Googles spring out of the class of 2005-06 - most exits will be more along the lines of a Flickr. A nice return but hardly the creation of billions of dollars in completely new value.

Some may argue that the tidal wave of cash flowing into early stage companies these days is a boon to innovation. I take a contrarian view and feel that an excess of cash at an early stage in a company’s existence is a negative thing. I have found through my career that people work best under two conditions; a) they really believe in what they are building, and b) they are under desperate financial and time constraints. Adding a lot of cash to the mix reinforces a) but removes a lot of the intensity. Having cash in the bank also allows the executive team the feeling that they can buy their way out of strategic or operational blunders and/or allows them to explore and develop variations on their original ideas. Branching out into complentary spaces might seem like a risk reduction strategy but ultimately it is most likely to remove focus from the organization and result in the creation of several mediocre products or services rather than one highly focused and stellar offering. I do agree that starving an operation is equally wrong but a lean and efficient group is far more likely to be successful than a bloated team with a sense of entitlement.

My current gig finds me at a wildly profitable company - and one that certainly struggles with employees feeling that they should be able to take advantage of the organization's success. Case in point is one of my engineers who decided that he would not travel unless he stayed at a 4 or 5 star hotel. Too bad! I stay at a $39.00 motor in in Sunnyvale - everyone else can too. The $150 a night savings times 6 or 700 hotel nights starts to add up to real money after a while.

Who knows? Perhaps this time things will really be different. I just get the feeling that 3 or 4 years from now we are going to see and awful lot of Web 2.0 writeoffs and be listening to stories about how you could get a social networking idea funded with a cocktail napkin business plan way back in the good old days of 2006.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Frustration – and a perspective on life from a trusted source

Frustration was the word of the day. Moose was at his best – calling down with crap and hitting miracle cards on the river. I really don’t mind since I will make money in the long (and short) run from players like that but it can get frustrating at times. All in all I turned a set three times – only to be rivered three times! When the dust settled I was down $500. Luckily I am on my get back in shape kick so there was no beer tab to pay on the evening.

Carol and I spent a pleasant – if somewhat decadent – weekend out of town with some friends. During the course of the weekend they mentioned that they had funded a charity that supports homeless and otherwise down on their luck people, and that they primary contributor to the down on their luck part for these people is gambling. Ouch. Especially considering that my friend had asked me about my business plans and I had somewhat enthusiastically told him about my ideas for marrying webcam technology with online poker to produce a new level of interactive gaming.

To be honest at first I just brushed the comment about poker being a form of gambling aside. Yes you do use money to keep track of who wins - but so does business. As for poker being true gambling - that's arguable - it really is a game of skill and over the long run a better player will always win - unlike roulette or slot machines - where over the long run the casino will always win. The real issue is that nothing of true value is actually created. No facilitation of value creation even occurs. Truly all that I might accomplish by building the most successful and wonderful poker engine the universe has ever seen, and attracting hordes of customers and in the process making myself fabulously wealthy, is to faciliatate the creation of legions of users of homeless shelters. Not really the outcome I am searching for.

So net net. Their comments hold weight. Couple that with the fact that they run a highly successful company yet still seem to have time to dedicate to charity, family and fun – more so than even Carol and I – leads me to believe that I need to rethink my choice of entrepreneurial activity. I still think that macro trends in our world are conspiring to bring about an increase in the desirability of video contact between people – I’m just going to rethink how I monetize that interaction.

Over the years I have been toying with the concept of immersive teleconferencing. Yes I know that it has been talked about for years and has existed in rudimentary form. These days however there is a definite transition from lab to field – company’s like HP are releasing systems – albeit expensive systems – that mimic face to face contact and allow the users to suspend their disbelief about not actually being in the same room. I’m currently reading a business book about moving your company’s product away from competitive oceans into ‘blue’ oceans and feel that I have a germ of an idea for blue ocean videoconferencing. Stay tuned.

Hours Played 8
Net - $500

Hours Played 107.5
Year to date net of expenses + $2681.00
Hourly rate + $24.93

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A bad run on the table - but life is really good.

The last few trips haven't been productive. One of them – there have been two – one due to pure asinine action. I just could not stop myself from calling. It was as if some compulsion had taken control of my hand making me throw chips into the pot. The problem on that night was my playing textbook poker. Bet the flop to price out my opponents draws. Make great reads. Call when I KNEW I was beat. I even called out hole cards that beat me – then called a three-figure river bet! What a moron.

Net on the night. - $100

5 hours

The second night I had lots to do so I could only play for 3 hours. I played much better, listening to the little voice this time and folding in marginal situations. Unfortuately this time I suffered bad beat after bad beat. I got allin in pre-flop with aces but had two callers – K9o and Q10o. Of course I end up losing – but what really hurt was that it was the first frickin' hand of the night! And not only did I lose but I end up with the worst hand! I should have just called it a night right there. The evening was bookended by my dream hand. I 'm in the cutoff – for those of you who don't know that's the position to the right of the dealer – when I'm dealt pocket 8's. We've got a full table by this time. The Captain's dealing to my left, Soundman's posted the small blind and Brad's in the big.

Moose cradle's the card's in his big paws, peers down, and with a quick grimace slides them across the table toward the three grimy white chips sitting waiting for company. Not a good beginning – Moose is one of the likely candidates to chase draws and would have called my raise.

Sam slides his red quickly in – too quickly – he's got nothing and just wants to see a cheap flop.

Smiley's got his chips ready – Sarge next to him has noticed and is already to go ahead and toss his cards away. Smiley looks down – riffles – and pushes forward his little stack of chips. “All in!”, he announces, firmly, gleefully. But he's only got $10 and in this game that's not going too much respect.

Sarge mucks, and I flat call – hoping to get heads up – or at least just have callers behind me and then flop a set. Sure enough the Captain folds, Soundman calls and Brad calls.

The Captain burns and turns and there it is – just like it will be once every eight times or so – the third eight. Even better this time my eight is boss – it's top set – meaning the eight is the highest of the three cards. The flop was 8 5 2 with two diamonds. There was now $40 in the main pot and I was last to act. I didn't have much thinking to do. Soundman bet $10 – Brad instantly went all-in for about $800 – Smiley was already in – and I had the nuts. There was literally no card that anyone could hold that could beat me at that point. Certainly I could lose and there were some scary draws out there but realistically would any of them have called a raise with 34 and then go all in on a side pot. Brad had to have a big pair and I had no idea what Soundman had. It took me about 5 seconds to call – about $40 more and then Soundman called. He had about $65 so Brad pulled back most of his stacks.

Once we sort out all the side pots we flip cards. Sure enough Brad had aces, Smiley laughs, says good hand and throws his cards in the muck. I smile and flip my eights. Soundman flips over A3o and yells out “open-ender”. Sarge nearly chokes him. To make matters worse the very next card is the 4 – filling in his gutshot. The river is a blank and my $160 pot is up in smoke.

Open ender. I should have just gone home.

Results - $ 120

Hours 3

Monday, March 06, 2006

The tale of the choking dog

A friend of mine with whom I used to be close once described me as a very lucky person. He used to tell a story about me having just an absolutely horrible, foul day, storming out of the house in a black mood, and coming across a mangy dog lying in the middle of the road. In my nasty mood I would kick this poor mutt, only to dislodge a bone from its throat, saving the dog’s life. The dog would turn out to be the prize pet of some eccentric millionaire who would then shower me with reward money.

Personally I disagree with him. I must admit that I have been fortunate in life. I have healthy, intelligent and reasonably well behaved children. I have a supportive and loving spouse and I have a comfortable standard of living. No manna has yet fallen from heaven for me though. The rewards I have gained in life have come through effort – which is not to say I’m the hardest working person in the world but I know when to work hard and when to have fun. A great deal of effort in life is expended in pursuit of meaningless goals. Whenever I am working on something I ask myself whether the effort I am making is worth the reward – if not then I just don’t bother doing it. It is amazing how much I can accomplish by just ignoring the inconsequential.

This weekend turned out to be a bit of fun. I managed to get out to play some hold’em on Friday. The boys were chomping at the bit to get some of their money back – seems they think I was a little unfair to their pocketbooks the other night. The game never really got going though. We had myself, Brad, Smiley, PoohBear, Birthdayboy and a new guy so we played six handed for most of the night. With the exception of Smiley and Brad I hadn’t played against the other guys before. For the first few orbits I just sat back and watched and it seemed they played more or less textbook with the exception of Pooh who was just plain bad. I jumped in and started raising with position only to get called by the new guy when I was stealing with 47 diamonds. He woke up with AKhearts but luckily I spiked a seven and was off to the races. I was up about $150 for most of the evening right through to the last hand. We had agreed to end at 1 am and I was sitting in the big blind with Q6 offsuit and was able to see a free flop with two limpers and the small blind. The flop came 66J. The small blind checked, I bet out the pot ($8), and got two callers. The turn was an 8. The small blind had folded so I was first to act. I wanted to take the hand down right there so I bet out the pot again ($32) which left me with about $100. Smiley thought for a second and pushed all in – he had about $50 – and birthday boy – who was up about $500 at that point and who had been pushing the table around for the last hour or so – came over the top all in. At that point I was 100% confident I had the best hand and it took me about a millisecond to call. Once we sorted out the side pot we flipped cards and sure enough Smiley was drawing to 2 outs with top pair and the birthday boy had a 9 10. I was looking really good but as luck would have it the river came a 7 to make the b-boys straight – the fat lady had sung. Birthday cashed out the bank and the rest of us left empty handed. Fortunately I had only bought in for $20 and I can tell the boys I had another losing session! Smiley, Brad and the new guy were each in for $120 and Pooh dropped $180 so it was a nice $560 parting gift for the birthday boy.

Played From 9:00 pm to 1:00 am – 4 hoursWinnings (Net of Expenses) - $20.00Hourly Rate - $5.00Hours Played 95.5Year to date net of expenses + $33381.00Hourly rate + $35.40

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I am a party animal. At least I can be when the mood strikes me.

Carol and I found ourselves at a swishy party recently and I had to be dragged out the door sometime just before the sun came up. I have a vague impression of smiles still on the host and hostess’ face though so I think we’re good to go for a return invitation.

Having been both a host and a guest at numerous get social events I have come to consider myself a bit of an authority on how to throw a good party. If you are considering having your own shindig here are some tips to save your event from becoming the type of party where you have three people left at 11pm, all looking uncomfortably at each other wondering who can leave next.

First off – people make the party. Invite lots of them. Make them from different backgrounds and don’t worry if they don’t know each other. Nothing is worse than going to a party and seeing the same crowd that you saw all day at work! The same goes for showing up at a party where the hosts have slaved away making food for the twenty guests they invited only to have 8 show up. My rule of thumb is for every 10 invitees you get 6 attendees – if you’re Tom Cruise or Oprah then this number changes somewhat but even for that strata of society people are out of town or get sick at the last second.

Second. It’s a party for you too. Do all the work before hand. If necessary hire people (older kids and their friends are good servants if you are on a tight budget – they are dying to be there anyway and you can always kick them out when the heavy lifting portion of the evening is over which is generally long before cousin Sally’s husband starts hitting on your wife anyway). If you have to serve food and drinks, clean, take coats, take care of kids etc. etc. then when are you going to mingle and have fun?

Third. If you have done your job and invited a great mix of people then you need to mix them well. Have a theme that forces people to interact. Some parties go all out – asking guests to dress to themes, organizing teams and formal games, even having prizes and speeches – we had great success with a simple idea – when a guest arrived we put a “Hi My name is . . . .” sticker on their back. We had prefilled in the labels with a variety of celebrity names and the idea was you had to guess who you were by asking questions of the other guests at the party. Simple and absolutely hilarious – especially for the one guy who went the whole evening unable to figure out that he was Superman. “OK. I can leap tall buildings in a single bound! I’m faster than a speeding bullet! I know it! I’m BATMAN!”

His wife, “You baby – You’re an idiot!”

Fourth. The food. I have been to many parties where there is a buffet of food laid out right from the start. By the third hour of the party the shrimp bowl is looking pretty grungy and the impact of the food is lost. Stagger your food service by having your helpers circulate with platters around the rooms of your house. This serves two purposes. One – it gives you a lot more bang for your food budget, and if you plan properly is not any more work, and two, keeps the party from staying concentrated in the kitchen/dining area. Serving food throughout the entire evening also keeps your guest a little more sober in my experience.

Five. Music. Loud music is great if people want to dance otherwise it is a conversation killer. I like to create a dance floor in a separate room and in the age of iPods there is no excuse not to have a great soundtrack for dancing going all night. Keep the music in the rest of the party to background volume.

Six. Don’t forget your legal responsibilities. Have cab numbers handy for those who had too much fun.

Seven. Enjoy yourself. A stressed out host is the biggest party killer around.



Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A very bizarre evening . . .

This was Huck's last day on his mini-trip. He went with Jan to the local ski hill for the school field trip. Both of them had a blast and couldn't stop talking about how much fun they had.

After a quick supper and a nuclear meltdown with Marcia (still to be dealt with), we decided to spend the last night of his trip down at the club - Tuesday's are tournament night and tonight was the final of the winter league. We got there in time to grab the last two seats at the cash game - only to find out that it was all the final table players from the tournament league, waiting for the last satellite to play down and award the final two seats at the championsip table. Perhaps, thought I, it would be time to adjust my play somewhat.

With the exception of Sam, the proprietor, and bet big Pete, the rest of the table were younger players who seemed to have a pretty solid grasp on the game. Right off the bat I decided to present a wild and crazy image and ran an outrageous bluff - tossing away $60 on a busted open ender. The next orbit I found pocket kings but had no takers for my $10 raise. Finally, down about $150 I found rockets in late position and was able to raise all in preflop with one caller. He turned over K10o, my hand held up and I was back to even. I started playing tight until our table broke up when the championship tourney table got underway, finishing that segment down $14. After a short break we got a new game going with me, Huck, Moose, and GQ - Smiley, Sam and DOG (drunk obnoxious guy) all sat down a little bit later - quiet man might have been there too but I can't remember :) Right off the bat I found myself stuck for my entire pocket money - down $300. I had to borrow some money off GQ just to stay in the game, which is probably a habit to avoid. Luckily I was playing reasonably well and since I avoid drinking I was able to stay focussed and on toop of my game. From 9 pm until about 4 am I was unable to get anything going but then, as they are wont to do, the cards turned in my favor. I found pocet aces, AQs that hit a boat, suited connectors that made a straight flush and pocket queens that held up, all between 4am and 7am, at which time the game finally broke. As the dust settled I found myself with a fairly good stack - and the prospect of a long day ahead in the real world.

Played From 9:00 pm to 7:00 am – 10 hours
Winnings (Net of Expenses) + $1025.00
Hourly Rate +$102.50

Hours Played 91.5
Year to date net of expenses + $3401.00
Hourly rate + $37.16

Saturday, February 25, 2006

A Quick Course on Humility

The game just never got into a groove for me last night. Sarge, Brad, Huck and I got it rolling short handed then cajoled Doctor Frank to sit in 'for just one round'. Sure enough we were punished for our evil thoughts on relieving the poor Doctor (who in reality is a wannabe medical student) of the contents of his wallet by the total annihilation of our chipstacks. Doctor F. just kept marching along which in all honesty I don't really mind. You have to exepct to lose on occasion. It is what you take away from the experience to improve your play that really matters.

I did have to run the bank and it came out nice and even which is a satisfying feeling. The biggest drag was the lack of chips in front of me to cash out into it at the end of the night. That's right. Flat busted - me and Huck. Sarge and Brad too. It was a long night.

One thing to take heed of should you ever find yourself reaching out to drag in monster pot after monster pot with your 25 offsuit hitting yet another full house on the turn; do it with a big smile on your face and be happy about it. You won - that's what you are there to do. If you didn't want to win with 25 offsuit then muck the cards and don't play themin the first playce. But if by some miracle you hit the monster board then play the hell out of them and make somebody at the table pay. Just remember that there is nothing worse than being the guy on the other side of the exchange, watching your chips get dragged, and having to listen to you apologize over and over for the beat. You won. Get over it. Just come back and play again!

I try to get better everytime I play - and I really like to use my losing sessions as labs for self improvement. Last night two things stood out. One was the cards. I know that people always blame the cards but in last night's game I did get bad cards. I'm not going to regale anyone with bad beat stories but there were a few. The truth of the matter is though you cannot control the cards you get - you can only play them. The one problem that really stood out in the way I played the cards was my inability to adjust. I was not reading the flow of the game well and adjusting my play to compensate for the new players who came and went. I also made a really bad call with top pair, twice, and lost at least $100 on those hands.

Today is pretty laid back - Carol's working on a project at the office - Bobby's and Greg are at a hockey tournament together - and there is a party tonight. I'm going as Maximus - though I'm not quite in Russell Crowe condition today. Carol was going as Cleopatra but has changed her mind at the last second. How unusual. I fell in love with the only woman in the world who has trouble making up her mind what to wear to a party.


Played From 7:00 pm to 1:00 am – 6 hours
Winnings (Net of Expenses) - $300.00
Hourly Rate -$50.00

Hours Played 81.5
Year to date net of expenses + $2276
Hourly rate + $27.92

Friday, February 24, 2006

The cards were in the air . .

. . . and the beer was being spilled on the table. Last night the Main attracted some serious characters and a few of the regulars found themselves more than a little inebriated. The big winner of the evening – at least at 2:00 am when I packed it in was Doc, who had built his $20 buy in to over $1300 and who had spilled his wine on the cards more than once in the process. It may have been an error to give up my seat when Doc so clearly was ready to see the game through to the dawn but I did have work to do today so over Doc’s protestations I booked out of there at closing time.

We had quite the crowd and our table had a waiting list until well after midnight. Luckily I had stopped in on my way home from work and bought chips and a seat so I was able to walk right in after supper to sit down and play. We had a few of the regulars, Moose, Sarge, Doc and Callin’ were all there along with Callin’s son and a couple of newbs who were clearly thinking they could run all over us and take our money. One of the newbs woke up with pocket aces twice in the first hour and had them hold up both times, managing to accumulate a three or four hundred dollar stack along the way before giving it all back. His buddy, clearly a veteran of the online game, didn’t quite figure out our rules until the end of the night despite projecting an air of smugness and superiority. Between the two of them they walked out down about $20 – which was fine. They at least played in turn and weren’t afraid to gamble a little bit when the circumstances warranted. Gary Larson dropped in toward the end of the evening and donated about a hundred and twenty before going home and then we had LSD man. For about an hour I was sitting in between Doc and LSD who were sniping at each other. Doc I can handle – he’s old and crotchety but he plays well and I can generally put him on hands. LSD was just plain annoying. He had this habit of adjusting the flop cards and persisted on giving me advice – I was tempted to give him advice on how to eat teeth with my knuckles. Luckily the copious amounts of drugs he has ingested in his life have done little to improve his card skills and after about an hour he was busted leaving behind his hundred or so.

I had a couple of key hands – one where I was dealt big slick on the button. Moose raised ten in front of me and I popped it 10 more on top. Sarge smooth called the twenty and Moose called the 10. The flop came Ah Jc 9c. Moose bet out $60. Now at this point Moose had been unusually quiet. Normally he likes to be in pots but for some reason he was a little subdued this evening. I was pretty confident he would have checked a set and I was 50/50 on whether he would have bet so aggressively on AJ or A9 so I bumped him back another 60 making it 120 to Sarge. Now Sarge is generally a winner at this game but just hadn’t gotten it going this evening and was stuck around $500 already. He reluctantly laid his hand down but gave me a look that told me he thought Moose was on a draw. Moose almost instantly saw my $60 and reraised me another $100. I had $103 left at that point. Decision time. If he had AJ or A9 I was meat. Ax of clubs was most likely and in that case I was a favorite – I made Moose sweat for a minute then called and thank the lord he turned over Ac 8c. Turn and River brought bricks and my TPTK held up for a nice $500 pot.

All in all the evening was a success though I don’t think I was on my A game at all. The cards didn’t really run that hot for me; AK twice, couple of low pocket pairs but no sets, hit two flushes that I got paid on. The big thing today was avoiding my normal donk play once I built my stack. I am also quite proud of my discipline for getting up and leaving - I’m working on a big deal here in ‘real’ life and need my wits about me today.

The end result of the night – up $410.00 net of a fairly generous purchase of several drinks for Callin’ and Moose (for saving my seat) and a $20 tip for our hottie waitress. Oh – I’m also proud of my restraint in the indulgence department – only two beers all night and white meat chicken fingers instead of wings! Take that bathroom scale!

Played From 7:00 pm to 2:00 am – 7 hours
Winnings (Net of Expenses) + $410.00
Hourly Rate +$58.57

Hours Played 75.5Year to date net of expenses + $2576
Hourly rate + $34.11

Thursday, February 23, 2006

What comes around goes around

Several weeks ago I mentioned a job opening with my company to an acquaintance of mine and today I noticed that he is in the office interviewing for the job. Considering that about a year ago I helped him land a six-figure job with another company perhaps I should rethink my own occupation and look into becoming a career consultant. I seem to have a knack for understanding people’s motivations and talents and then matching them up with organizational requirements – especially at the senior management level – and my network of executive contacts is pretty good. I’m friendly with more than a couple of Fortune 1000 CEO’s and have cordial relationships with a couple of billionaires (I’m also very close friends with guys who struggle to meet their rent payments and very close with one guy who is currently sleeping on his Mom’s couch!) I have a deal in flight at work and if it crashes and burns I will probably find myself out on the street. Might be something to think about . . .

Today is one of those days that just seems a little grey around the edges. I’m really looking forward to hitting the Main tonight for a little poker with the boys though I have to watch out for the lifestyle issues that come with it. Over the course of a six or seven hour session it can be far too easy to quaff half a dozen pints and I have noticed my weight starting to creep up on me. My six pack abs have turned into a keg over the past three months and even some of my friends have commented. Time to take action!

On a positive note there was a text from Huckleberry waiting for me this morning. His date last night went really well. They ended up back at her place and by all accounts things got a little hot and heavy. Things are looking good for another date with this one and even better, he has a new date tonight with the girl he met on Monday. I swear Huck is like a man who has wandered for forty years in the desert suddenly stumbling into an oasis full of beautiful women. His confidence has skyrocketed and he is really in this virtuous circle. I just hope that he deals well with the inevitable setbacks that are part of everybody’s daily life as that was his downfall in the past. He would take each negative episode and obsess over it rather than focusing and building on each positive development.

On that note I will end today’s missive with my philosophy – life is full of setbacks; learn to look at them as opportunities in disguise!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

How to Design a Perfect Family Life - First, Break One Family. . .

Last weekend, Jan, who is 10, called me on my Blackberry to ask if she could go to a friend’s house to play. I was getting ready to tell her to hang on while I gave her friend’s parents a call when she put me on hold, flash-conferenced her friend into my call and organized the whole thing. Seems like only yesterday that I had to help her dial the phone.

I am often asked how I manage my life with so many kids. In reality it isn’t that difficult. Both Carol and I have responsible (if difficult and at times frustrating ex-spouses) which does make a world of difference. We also have a somewhat unique method of sharing our time with the kids that I thought I would take a moment and share with the world. It works for us – perhaps it might work for you.

When my first marriage was in the process of disintegrating and I found myself facing the prospect of caring part time for three very small children it was an understandably scary situation. I was not at all interested in becoming a Weekend’s and Wednesday’s type of Dad, nor did I think that the traditional method of joint parenting where the Mom keeps the kids for one week then they pack up and move to Dad’s house for the next week would be an ideal situation either. My ex – for now I’ll call her Edna – and I settled on a scheme whereby the kids would stay with me every Monday and Tuesday and her every Wednesday and Thursday. We would then alternate weekends. It sounds complicated but in reality it is extremely simple and provides something the kids need more than anything – routine. For example sports teams are usually organized in such a way that games and practices fall on the same night of the week. In my world if an activity is on a Monday night then it is Dad’s responsibility - end of story. If it is a Wednesday then Mom takes care of it. Similarly if I get a request from friend’s or an assignment at work that needs my presence outside of regular hours I know without looking at a calendar that the only nights I am free from here to eternity are Wednesday and Thursday – Monday and Tuesday are family night.

When I met Carol it was interesting to find that she and her ex had adopted a slight variation on the same theme. They too split the week in half and also alternate weekends however the only difference is they switch Monday/Tuesday and Wednesday/Thursday blocks each week depending on who had the kids the previous weekend. In my situation you can go for 5 days without seeing the kids every second week while in Carol’s arrangement the longest stretch you have to face without kids is the Friday to Sunday weekend.

The real magic came when Carol and I formed our Brady Bunch. Luckily our weekends were in synch with each other so we did not have to supplicate ourselves to the exes and within a short period of time the kids all got along with each other (and by get along I mean they fight, scream, laugh and cry just like brothers and sisters do – I bet most outsiders would have a really hard time telling who was Carol’s and who was mine). From a logistical standpoint we work on a four week cycle. Two weekends in four we have all six kids at home from Friday after school until Monday morning. The other two weekends we have no kids at home – Carol and I use this time to catch up with each other, take weekend jaunts out of town, host parties and quite often dip into the lives of the kid’s for their special events. During the 16 week days in our 4 week cycle (Fridays count at weekend days) we end up with 4 days where we have all six kids at home (2 Mondays and 2 Tuesdays), 4 days with just my guys (2 Mondays and 2 Tuesdays), 4 days with just Carol’s kids (2 Wednesdays and 2 Thursdays) and 4 days with no kids at home (2 Wednesdays and 2 Thursdays).

The net result, with my glass half full attitude, is a best of both world’s situation. I look at a lot of my friend’s who have intact marriages with kids and their biggest complaint is the lack of time to spend with each other. Carol and I have lots of time to spend with each other and we take advantage of it. Not only that but we have lots of time to spend with the kids, both as a large family, as an individual parent with our ‘own’ kids, and as a two-parent unit with a small group of kids. The other thing we are able to do and which we take advantage of on a regular basis is spend one on one time with individual kids. We generally do this on one of our 4 free week days during the cycle or on one of our weekend days when the kids are not home. It gives the exes a break and gives us a chance to spend some real quality time which can range from shopping for Marcia to playing Nintendo for Bobby. The situation we have created for ourselves has the benefit of making us appreciate both our time with the kids and our time with ourselves. We find that we don't become complacent about either aspect of our lives and we tend to enjoy each minute as the precious gift it was meant to be.

I really think the children are going to grow up with a huge support network in place. They have a very large extended family – there are six kids and two parents in our household and Carol’s ex is remarried also (Edna is not). I think it was Hilary Clinton who said, “It takes a village to raise a child.” We don’t have a village but we certainly do have a small tribe.

That’s my sociology lesson for the day. I am going to try and close a deal at work today then it’s off to a friend’s house for the afternoon to watch some sports. He is the CEO of a major technology company so I can justify taking off from the office. Tonight I am taking the family out for dinner to celebrate Carol’s birthday. I left it up to the kid’s to pick a restaurant and unfortunately we are going to a local branch of an Italian chain that specializes in all you can eat pasta. Oh well. Carol and I are planning to go to Manhattan in a few weeks on an adults only eating weekend so I guess we can stomach an evening of garlic bread, chicken strips and spaghetti with meat sauce.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Tomorrow is Carol’s birthday and I Got Her a Fantastic Present

For the most part I find the various electronic gadgets that fill our lives to be ill conceived and fairly useless but the trinkets being produced lately seem to be filling actual needs in our lives. For Carol’s birthday gift this year I picked up a 1Gb digital music player. It is not the fanciest one but it is small and has a few neat features – the best one being that it recharges by plugging into the USB port of any PC. I went a step further and asked Marcia and a couple of her friends to spend an evening and fill up every atom of the flash memory with music which should work out to the equivalent of about 200 LP records. The girls had a lot of fun choosing music to put on Mom’s new machine and Carol will no doubt appreciate the music during her daily lunch hour workouts. What struck me was the scale of the gift. Even ten years ago if someone was to have given me a walkman music player with 200 cassette tapes of assorted bands as a birthday gift I would have been overwhelmed. In fact it would be inconceivable gift in my middle class existence. Times certainly do change – and occasionally for the better.

My best bud Huck gave me a call last night. He’s a drone in sector 7G of this huge faceless corporation but does have the opportunity to move up a bit in the organization. Several months ago he had an interview with the director responsible for the department he is trying to get into but he blew the meeting and didn’t get the job. The company decided not to fill the position at the time so Carol and I sat down with him and reviewed where he could have improved his interview process. Long story short, yesterday he had a second shot with the guy and it looks like he will get the position. He was totally pumped and took his new found confidence out after work with him to one of his local pubs. Turns out there was a young lady enjoying a cocktail by herself in this establishment and old Huck worked up the courage to introduce himself – an hour later she left but gave Mr. H. her digits and email. I tell you he is a new man these days. It is really nice to see as I can’t think of anyone I know who is more interested in meeting someone to settle down with and raise a family. Huck has gone through a fifteen year stretch of self doubt and bad luck and is only now working his way out of the vicious circle. Way to go bud!

My final thought for today is on strategies for sanity in an insanely busy life. With six kids and interests ranging from high stakes poker to global economic theory my life can at times be described as chaotic. Carol and I have both been divorced once and are determined to make our relationship a priority in our lives. We recognized early on in our life together that making time for each other is the only way we will keep from drifting apart over time – let’s face it – it is easy to be totally excited and enthused about a new relationship but as the years progress and you become comfortable and complacent about each other’s presence the risk grows that one or both of you will drift away. Further complicating our situation is the fact that Carol is a morning person who enjoys her alone time from 6 am until the first kid starts stirring just before 7 while I rarely go to bed before midnight or 1am and have to be given an intravenous caffeine drip just to get me up a 8am. We found a common ground at 10pm in our master bathroom. Perhaps we are lucky to have a few extra bucks – I’m not going to apologize for being smart, hardworking or successful – but when we built our house we designed it with a large bathroom retreat of the master bedroom. The kids understand and respect that that part of the house is totally off limits to them. We have a big tub that we use – every night unless it is poker night! – and we sit, soak, and unwind. We talk about our day, we talk about the kids, we make plans, we read, we fool around, we drink good red wine, we have candles, music and bubbles. It really brings us closer together and is our favorite part of the day. If by chance you find yourself in a relationship that is struggling at all and you have any interest in trying to improve it I would highly suggest trying this strategy. Even if you don’t have the private retreat with candles and bubbles try just setting aside the time each day for a date – you fell in love for lots of good reasons and those reasons are probably still there – they’ve just been covered up by all the issues of daily life.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Life is Interesting (and I wouldn't have it any other way!)

Without going into detail on my personal situation (I'll save that for future posts) suffice to say that my life is anything but boring. Every day seems to bring new excitement and challenges and this past weekend was no exception.

After dragging myself out of bed on Saturday morning and gulping down a couple of cups of coffee that my angel so thoughtfully seems to magically make available for me it was time to coordinate schedules for the troop. Perhaps a little background is in order. My house is made up of me (you can call me Mike), my long suffering angel (code name Carol) and our 21st century Brady Bunch (in chronological order they would be Marcia, Greg, Peter, Jan, Cindy and Bobby). There's also a cat, some hamsters, a guinea pig and a fluctuating number of fish but to tell you the truth I tend not to pay attention to those members of the family unless their untimely death causes a younger Brady's heart to break or an unexpected vet bill leaves me in a moral quandry. About the only thing we are missing is the green shag carpets, the wood panelled station wagon and of course Alice. God I would kill to have an Alice!

The various crew comes and goes but mostly tends to hang around - we certainly own the largest refridgerator known to mankind - and they always seem to be accompanied by an extra midget or six. This weekend was typical of most. Hockey starting at 6 am followed by more hockey at 7, basketball at 10, more basketball at 12, more hockey at 2 then 3 then 4. After thawing out our respective rear ends we piled into the vehicles (hey - you try travelling anywhere in one car with six kids), and headed out to the inlaws for a family gathering. It's always a little tense showing up as we tend to take over the place but my sister in law runs a daycare so she has a big basement full of toys that keep the kids occupied for minutes at a time. I worked my magic mixing up martinis that kept my sister in law in high spirits (until she wiped out while sneaking a smoke in the garage and busted a crack in her head the size of an ostrich egg - time to cut her off!). All in all a pleasant way to spend an evening even if we did have to turn down an invite from friends to head out for a night on the town - and this invite was from friends who really know how to party. They could make the debauchery of the Roman emperor's seem like a six month work term in an Amish quilt factory.

The drive home turned out to be one of those experiences that you feel will probably prove pivotal in life. Marcia, who is fifteen, manouvered the seating to manage to get driven home by me and have the rest of the bunch in the other vehicle. Turned out, surprise surprise, that she wanted to talk. Parents out there please take note. Your teenagers do want to talk to you they just don't want to be judged by you. By the time they are fifteen you can influence them you can't control them (you can control them to a certain degree but they will resent the hell out of it and you will probably end up pushing them into decisions they wouldn't have made without your clumsy do gooder intentions - anyway moralizing over). So it turns out Marcia has a boy, has starting experimenting with drinking and has even smoked pot once. Wow. As if we didn't know. She wanted to know what I thought and how she could handle a friend who was pushing her to drink more and cut school. For the record Marcia is on the honor role, plays on a couple of varsity teams, has a part time job, a pretty good circle of friends that we see a lot of and gets a bit of leeway to make mistakes. When things do go outside the lines, and they have on occasion, we tend to take it in stride but there are always consequences. (She hates that part - at least publicly - but secretly I really think she appreciates the fact that there are consequences to going too far)

But I digress. I just think it was really cool to have an open conversation. I didn't condone her drinking or smoking and while I am happy she is showing an interest in dating we talked a lot about the complications that having sex could bring into her life at this time. The upshot of the whole thing was that both her Mom and I understand that she is smart enough to sneak around any rules that we put in place for her, and that soon enough she is going to be old enough to be independent and on her own anyway, but what we are trying to accomplish is give her the tools to make responsible, mature decisions regardless of what is happening around her. I firmly believe that sticking your head in the sand and thinking that fifteen year olds aren't experimenting with sex, drugs and alcohol will lead you down the path to being responsible for a drugged out, dropped out, single parent. It can be uncomfortable to talk about true - but it is more uncomfortable for them - after all it is newer to them - so get over it and talk to your kids. You might just be surprised at how well they take it.

Sunday was . . . more hockey. Told you life was exciting. This time it was Bobby the six year old's first tournament - held in a little town where the hockey rink really is the center of the universe. There is something comical about watching the little kids play though for the life of me I can't figure out why they hire referees. After all was said and done the coaches awarded him the hard hat - the smile on his face was about a mile wide and something magical to see. (For those of you not in hockey the hard hat goes to the hardest working player and at the six year old level where they don't even keep score it is the best award you can get - you even get to write your name and jersey number in marker on it!)

Sunday night was family dinner night - Carol whipped up a ham and fixings - which is really my responsibility but I've been falling short in that department lately. Sorry babe. I rushed out in time to play a game of soccer, 2-1 for the good guys, and after the mandatory pints after the game and a quick pit stop at the Main for some wings and a chat with the boys (no game on the go - dang) it was time to call it a weekend.

This week has a bit of action upcoming - Carol's birthday, a big deal closing at work (fingers crossed), a mid-week mid-afternoon party at a buddy's house and there should be a big poker game Thursday. The weekend has a bit of promise too - we've been invited to a party with a lot of the movers and shakers in town and my best bud, the Huckleberry Houndog, has planned to hit town too. Should be more than a few stories for the next blog.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

A quiet Friday Night

I had to beg and cajole a bit to be let out on Friday - I may have even promised a big win with the prospect of a whale or two showing up at the old watering hole but alas, it wasn't to be. Apart from Old Moose, Sarge, Doc, Angus Young and Soundman Stu we didn't have much of a game. By the end of the night we were lucky to have five hundred in the bank and Doc was both the donator and recipient of the bulk of it. A couple of players dropped in to donate and run and Soundman Stu and Angus did make their usual deposits but all in all it was an unusually laid back evening.

I am starting to realize the major leak in my play. I seem to have little trouble accumulating a significant stack but a big issue with holding onto it. Whenever I have a big pile of blacks in front of me I just can't seem to resist the temptation to get drawn into pots when the little voice in the back of my head is screaming that I am beat. Three times last night I threw away over sixty dollars on top pair when it was obvious that I was beat - and once I was just blind to a straight that totally decimated my top two pair for two and a quarter. Still I did walk out a winner - total invested was only eighty and after my bar tab and a healthy tip I went home with a hunnert and forty one.


Played from 9:30pm to 1:00am - 3.5hours
Net of expenses - $61
Hourly rate - $17.43

Hours Played 68.5
Year to date net of expenses + $2166
Hourly rate - $31.62