Monday, June 27, 2005

Home is Where the Weeds Are

We speak of it only in reverential tones around Speaker Manor: The Slope. It is Moby Dick, inspiring fear and awe in equal measure. Over 2400 square feet of steep obsession. I have conquered half of it. I continue to hold it to my breast.

We were shopping for homes in the midst of Southern California's largest buying frenzy in over a decade. We'd find a place we liked and three weeks later it would be out of our price range. We'd stumble into another faceless development only to find a triple-digit waiting list. We'd arrive hours early to a new model opening only to find people who'd been camped out a week.

Frustrating? Oh yeah.

The end result was being pushed way the hell out. As in 70 miles from downtown LA where I work. It was literally the LAST place in the extended area where we a) could find an affordable home and b) had garnered a reasonable slot on the ubiquitous waiting lists.

Which is where we found ourselves on an unseasonably hot October morning in 2003, grappling for shade with 150 others. The bounty was 18 new homes. We were 40th on the list that day, but our first choice was one of the least popular, owing mostly to the fact it was the only floor plan for which there was no model home. Of course, a week earlier we had infringed on the new owners of the same model and had a look around their finished product. Nice folks.

After a long morning and afternoon, only one home remained: the one we wanted. There were two names above us on the list, neither of whom had selected that plan as one of their choices. We were home free.

Until the white trashy guy just above us on the list, flush with cash from the booming meth industry, announced he'd consider our model. He'd like to go take a look at the home site. The saleswoman, who clearly preferred the good-looking couple with the precocious tot, sighed and reluctantly ferried him away.

For endless minues we waited, the dear and patient wife on the verge of tears, AJ inconsolable over my not letting him eat grass. Finally, a familiar car turned the corner and the saleswoman got out. Alone.

"He didn't like the slope!" she shouted at us. "Come into my office."

That's how close we were to NOT buying a house. More than three years we'd saved for a full down payment, denying ourselves a lot of pleasure in doing so. When the development released the next phase of homes a month later, the price of our model increased 20%, out of the range we were comfortable paying.

So I love that slope. Even though it damn near killed me this weekend.

****************************

There was poker last night. Somehow, I managed a minor cash in the $11 Crazy Re-Buy on Stars, finishing 87th of nearly 1200. I say "somehow" because I never had any chips. In fact, at the end of the third hour with 135 places paid, the stats told the whole story:

Your position is 214 of 214

The details are relatively unimportant. I had less than one BB left and got lucky to stay alive. Then I got Aces and tripled up.

It was my first cash in the Re-Buy in my last four attempts. It was notable for another reason compared to the others: It was the only one in which I had to play short-stack poker the entire affair. In a couple of the prior tries, I had a buttload of chips in the second hour, but didn't manage to break into the money.

There's something going on here. I don't quite know what it is exactly, but looking back over my past top finishes, it seems I'm "better" playing with fewer chips. I don't mean so few that it's "push and pray" time. But I clearly make better decisions with a larger percentage of my chips on the line than I do when I'm flush.

I have some ideas as to why this may be. And, at least some of it is perception rather than reality. By that I mean my psychological reaction to having a bunch of chips vs. not having hardly any. Anybody have any experience with this? Any pertinent literature to suggest? I'd be much obliged.

8 Comments:

At 1:05 PM, Blogger CanYouSmellWhatTheHawkIsCooking said...

Jeez, a guy digs up 4 weeds and all of a sudden he's displacing Magellan in the history books?

No inflated sense of self worth there.....

 
At 3:00 PM, Blogger The Bracelet said...

Seriously, enough about the shrubs.

:)

I keed, I keed.

I can't even imagine having to buy a home in a place like LA. I was in NY listening to stories of 2 hour drives in, and 2 hour drives home from work, every single freaking day. Just for a shitty 1200 square foot home that still costs close to $300,000.

Ridiculous.

 
At 4:17 PM, Blogger TenMile said...

Try re-reading The Psychology of Poker, Alan N. Schoonmaker. He talks about the "Drunken Sailor" (my quote) business a little bit. The darn book helped my "perfect" game in a couple of places.

If you were serious about asking, that is.

 
At 4:35 PM, Blogger Brad said...

As for playing better short stacked, I think it is likely that with the short stack, you will likely only play premium hands whereas with a big stack you will play more hands hoping to get lucky and knock a few people out in the meantime. The problem, as I am sure you are aware, is that you will often get "lucky" but not lucky enough to hit the best hand, and then lose more chips either chasing or with 2nd best. And you will be more willing to chase when you have more chips. So what exactly did you want to read about that for?

 
At 5:16 PM, Blogger Easycure said...

Seems like we all naturally get a little overaggressive with more chips, so it's natural to feel like you're playing "better" when you're playing with less. I guess you are playing "better", but it won't translate to wins as often as getting early checks.

 
At 8:46 AM, Blogger GaryC said...

Joe,
The short stack "phenomenon" is nothing new to the on-line poker world. As I'm sure you are aware, it is one of the things that leads others to believe that "on-line poker is so rigged!"
Good finish.
GaryC

 
At 8:53 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

If you REALLY like yard work, I'm sure my 1/2 acre wooded lot could use some help.

Especially since the previous owner didn't do squat for 4 years.

 
At 8:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also play much better with a short stack - I play a good, tight-aggressive game, pushing hard when I have an edge and folding when I think I'm beaten. When I have a lot of chips I let several areas of my game go loose, especially in pushing marginal hands, because my brain is telling me "Hey you have room to manouevre!" - it's something I'm trying to tighten up on.

 

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