Monday, October 31, 2005

Even Steven

Despite dramatic Mood and Variance swings this weekend, I'm back to level.

First of all, the dear and patient wife was not really close to divorcing me. Sure, she was plenty pissed that she came home to find a drunk, laughing lunatic on the couch playing poker as it was possible I may have neglected to mention I'd be home a little early to play in the Wheaton Shindig (Strike 1). And sure, she may have been aghast that I continued to play poker straight thru the evening, because, well, I was on a bender. You've been there, right? I was enjoying myself a great deal at the blogger NL table, I was cruising in the $50 MTT, why stop? I knew I was in for it, but I figured I could salvage it with solid husband play over the rest of the weekend. There was a shade of doubt come Saturday morning when she actually uttered the words, "We need to talk," but that was still the sour residue of the evening previous and a rough start to her work day. By the time she got home Saturday evening, walking into a pristinely scrubbed home, complete with polished hardwood floors, and a chicken-rice-caesar salad extravaganza of a dinner, I was back in the good graces.

It's all give and take, people. I was definitely out of line on Friday and I will definitely be out of line again in the future. Good thing I'm so lovable. And a solid 85% of the time, fairly conscientious. Besides, after nearly 6 years in the LA sunshine, she' gonna divorce me and move back to Sweden? Ha. She pulls out the parka when it drops below 70.

Remove tongue from cheek. I'm a bastard. Her bad luck to love me.


I asked nicely if I could play the $10K Guaranteed last night on FT and was granted my wish. I really had to step out of my comfort zone to stay alive as long as I did, what with the Coldest Deck of All Time reducing me to making plays at pots with 96o. It was kind of fun. Most of the players were tight once we got past the first half-hour and the Extreme Donks had gifted away their chips. I knew I'd be able to play at some of the weak-tighties remaining and managed to steal some pots. Alas, eventually never getting any pocket pairs above 77 took it's toll and I had to push late in Hour Two with QJo and a Harrington Factor deep in the Red. QJo, meet AA. AA, QJo. IGHN.

My favorite part of the tourney was when AJ walked up and noticed a new--to him--avatar at my table. "Daddy? I didn't know elephants could play Omaha."

Kid's gonna be a Star.

I am convinced those tourneys are more beatable than the ones at Stars. I think the play is a little more basic. I've been taking tons of notes on players, as it seems I run into a familiar face or 20 every time out. The smaller fields certainly contribute to that. There's also a nice marital harmony side-benefit since most of the FT tourneys are done inside 3 hours, as opposed to 5 or 6 with the larger fields at Stars. Thus, I wholeheartedly endorse Full Tilt!


That said, those 180-person tourneys on Stars are gonna get my attention in the very near future. Deep Stack? Probably not so much.

Speaking of Stars, who wouldn't want to spend a Saturday Afternoon in the Park with Pauly?

What: Saturdays with Dr. Pauly
Where: Poker Stars
When: Saturday November 5th at 1pm EST
Tournament Info: #14338880 (check under Private Tournament Tab)
Password: hiltons
Eligibility: Anyone with a Poker Stars account
Attire: Pants optional

Special Prizes: First place (weekly): Phil Gordon's Little Green Book
My Bounty (weekly): Free iTunes Gift Card (Bust me and get 15 free songs!!)
Grubby's Bounty: Visit the Poker Grub for more info

Saturday's with Dr. Pauly Champion...
Overall Winner: iPod Nano
Overall 2nd Place: DVD of the Big Lebowski
Overall 3rd Place: Daddy calls you on Christmas to wish you Happy Holidays

Saturdays with Dr. Pauly Tour Dates:

Tournament #1: Sat. November 5th at 1pm EST
Tournament #2: Sat. November 12th at 1pm EST
Tournament #3: Sat. November 19th at 1pm EST
Tournament #4: Sat. November 26th at 1pm EST

More details at Pauly's world-renowned Tao of Poker.


Anyone who hasn't made a recent trip over to Res Ipsa Poker is missing out on some of the funniest stuff out there. Can we begin referring to him as the Gary Trudeau of Poker Bloggers?

Sunday, October 30, 2005


Another weekend post. Color me prolific.

A few years back, I read a book. It's name escapes me but it was of the self-help variety, along the lines of unlocking creativity. I recall little of its teachings, that kind of thing not really appealing or speaking to me. But I do remember a term/concept that resonated, because it applied.

A "Crazy Maker" was defined as someone who served only to criticize. Let's put aside for a moment how stupid the term itself is and focus on the concept. In all walks of life, people are called upon, at times, to "put themselves out there." It's not the easiest thing in the world. Certainly not for those who are a little self-conscious, a little sensitive, traits which I have possessed too often in my past. "Crazy Makers" represent a roadblock to the creative process, a barrier to letting your words go for fear of their reaction. Which was always a problem for me.

When I started the blog, I had many of the same issues. As time went on, they fell away. I became comfortable with exposing myself, not editing and putting down a flowing narrative of what was I going through or thinking at that precise moment without fear of judgement. Part of that was I was writing anonymously, out of sight of friends and family. But a funny thing happened. I started to take some pride in what appeared here. I wanted to share it with people who knew me. So I told 'em about it.

I'm happy to report that fact hasn't stopped me from continuing to post honestly, even to my own detriment. Including this here. Because the fact of the matter is, I get plenty of support, enough to know that the venture is as worthwhile as I think it is.

On the other hand, some people aren't happy unless they're bringing others down, sitting in judgement from afar with nothing to add but criticism. I'm sure they think they're being clever. Maybe even harmless. But I'd wager if they were honest about their motivations, they probably wouldn't be too proud of their behavior.

Yes, for the record, I'm bothered. Not because I think the criticism is valid. It's been a long time since I've had such a buzz about a project, which is how see this blog. It is both important and rewarding. No, I'm bothered that people who profess to be my friends can't ever manage a kind word, only hurtful ones.

I'm not sorry I shared it with them. I'm sorry they won't share it with me.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Fully Tilted

Boy am I playing some damn good poker. Made a final Table today at Full Tilt, finishing 8th in the $30+$3. Good thing too since only the Final Table paid. Now, you may be askiing yourself how I can say I'm playing so "damn good," if I only finished 8th? Well, lemme tell ya. I was the chip leader in the tourney from the middle of the second hour to the middle of the third hour, playing my funny ass off and dominating the proceedings. In the middle of that third hour, with only 12 players remaining, I re-raised with my Pocket Aces. I was re- re-raised by a Donkey, who obviously had Kings or Queens. I swear to Buddah I damn near folded those Rockets. I'd still have been left with 19K chips and in the top 3. Instead, I called and saw her River the set of Kings on me, dropping me to 6K. I basically folded into the money from there, not trusting myself (or a certain fast growing online poker room) to get involved.


Can I possibly NOT get majorly fucked late in one of these tourneys? Could I possibly have a hand hold up late when I'm buzzing the top? I'll fucking settle for once. Once.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Laundry List

I played too much poker, drank too much beer, had too many chat windows open and had too many wives pissed off at the plethora of poker being played.


The Friday Night Poker Tale of the Tape

1. Donked right out of the Wil Wheaton tourney scant minutes after arriving. Was initially seated with Iggy and Joanne, before moving to BadBlood's table. It was The Man With the Guns who eventually put me out, calmly and coolly checking his pocket jacks on a ragged flop. When the initial raiser made a weak bet, I pushed with my 66. And that was that. I did hang around and watch G-Rob dominate the proceedings, though with a few more chips, I think the Sickness that is Daddy may have given him a run for his Congrats to The Champions.

2. Entered the $50 MTT on Stars due to my lack of tournaments to play following my ignominious exit from the above. Played quite well into the second hour where I ran my QQ into KTs, quickly followed by running my AQ into AK. A few words about the latter. Never, in all my born days, have I ever seen AK played so passively as I have lately. In this particular hand, the guy took half his time bank to call my flop (A43 rainbow) raise. Then, on the ten turn, he checked and took THE REST of his time bank to call my all-in with AK. WTF? I understand that I was the aggressor in the hand and he's happy to let me do his betting for him, but what's with the slow fucking play!?!? Totally tilted me, since I pegged his reluctances as AJ or so. ANYWAY...

3. the meantime I was in a cash NL game with all manner of bloggers, some of whom I didn't even know. I doubled my buy-in there, waiting for Group One hands and only betting when they made Quads Beetches.

4. I left them during the $50, but immediately after falling out of that one, I entered the $20 MTT on Stars (and my wife began calling divorce lawyers). I managed to money in that one, the smallest award possible. Had a relatively big stack early, but went card dead for an hour and down to Push Monkey status I cleverly shoved my KQ into AA. It's all about the timing people.

5. Still unsated, I moved into a $20 single-table SnG with a bunch of rocks, which I'm playing as I type. I nearly tripled up in the second level with a set of tens (v. a set of 4s and AK drawing to a gunshot). After that, I folded for 6 hours. Then I busted a guy. Nothing too interesting. Just superior reads and play. With 5 left, I was one of two big stacks. Then there were 4, but I really had no hand in that. The passive nature of these fuckers drives me insane. Of course, when I raise with air, I get re-raised. The little stacks slowly came back to the pack, thanks to my shit cards, aborted steals and the ridiculous passivity of the other big stack. Hey dude, you can raise, go ahead. Maybe just once, try a little something different. Seriously, the little cocksucker hasn't raised once pre-flop. He's got 3x the chips of anybody else and all he does is fold. I'm dying to get the little fairy heads-up. Which might not happen since I get sucked out on a 60-40. Still got a 2-1 chip lead on 4th place, but goddamit, that bitch has my chips. We've seen 4 flops in the last 42 hands. Yes, four. I've worked my way back to second with lots o' raisin', based on that fact. I mean, c'mon. Are we playing poker or are we having a circle jerk? Take your hands off your cocks people and raise! The Big Stack is to my right. He hasn't raised my BB once and given me several walks. If he doubled up ANY of the remaining players, he'd still be in the chip lead. It makes me wanna throw up. Fortunately, I've got balls. In my BB, I called the short-stack's all-in with QdTd. He had A6o. Fair enough. Flop? All diamonds. Now that we're 3-handed, I'm enjoying raising every time on the button and getting walks in my BB. I've steadily taken the chip lead. Mr. Passive Big Stack is now 3rd. None of us has more than 8x the BB. Though I'll say this about the guy, when he bets or calls, he's packin'. Just sent 3rd place on his way with AK and we are now Heads Up. I dismissed him within 8 hands. Told ya I could wait to get him Heads Up. As Ray Liotta said in "Goodfellas," "Fuck You, Pay Me!"

So, after all that, I've actually booked a little profit on the evening. Nice. I teased a possible Drunken Crazy Re-Buy post tomorrow night, but this will have to do. I think if I spend 6 hours playing poker tomorrow night, those divorce papers won't be far behind. I'll get ya next time.

Friday Crapfest

Six weeks until the WPBT Winter Classic II. Do you know where your bankroll is?

In preparation, the observant among you will notice I have, at long last, updated (and Alphabetized!) my blogroll. Chad, the self-proclaimed "laziest man in America" beat me to it, which I guess means I'm either comatose or dead. Regardless, all confirmed attendees for Vegas are now listed, as well as a dozen or so others I've been remiss in linking. No, I haven't read them all, but I will inside of the next 6 weeks. No, I do not require link reciprocation. I don't need your pity.


The men's toilet at Union Station in beautiful downtown Los Angeles consistently emits one of the most horrible stenches on the planet, placing it near the top along with the Turkish Men's National Soccer team's post-game locker room, Vlade Divac's feet and The Plaza.


People who raise with K8s under the gun and bust me out of tourneys when they chase--and hit--their draw make me very angry. They also ensure that I will stalk them until their bankroll's dying day, which, based on his overall play last night, will be in the very near future.

For my (rapidly dwindling) money, there is no poker situation more frustrating than watching a herd of Donkeys parade in and out of your table/tournament, giving chips away in shocking fashion, while you sit by and fold rag after rag after rag.


The "How Much is Your Blog Worth?" meme lists me at just under $48K. No reasonable offer refused.


I'm playing in Mr. Wheaton's tourney tonight on Stars. I likely won't make it home in time for the start, so enjoy my blinds for 20 minutes or so. Just know retribution will be swift and merciless.


The next person to talk me into playing Stud Hi/Lo is SO off the blogroll.


See you at the tables. Possible Live Tourney Drunken Blogging coming Saturday night.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Back From the Brink

Athletes and competitors of all stripes crave "The Zone," where everything seems to slow down, feints and moves are crystal clear and a player Can. Not. Miss.

I used to get in The Zone sometimes playing hoops at UCLA in the early morning hours while under the influence of Northern California's finest skunk buds. It's almost difficult to describe. It's instinct, I imagine, letting yourself be a slave to your adaptive unconscious and trusting muscle memory to take it from there. Don't analyze, just feel the flow. As a wise friend once said, "Don't think too much. It will fuck you up."

Last night, in the $6K Guaranteed MTT on Full Tilt (the world's fastest growing online poker room, doncha know), I was feeling The Zone. I doubled up in the first 20 minutes with Big Slick topping the Hiltons (I think I have a longer, hopefully more corroborative post on playing AKo in early parts of tourneys, especially in regard to reverse implied odds, but I'll leave that for another day). I then managed three huge laydowns to keep my stack together. Twice, I dumped my pocket jacks. Once to a raise and re-raise in front (pretty easy, actually). Once when a short stack limp-re-raised (okay, so that wasn't too hard, either). Both times, the villain had Kings. Must be a glitch in the RNG. Speaker gets Jacks, someone gets Kings. No need to mention when I doubled up again at the end of the first hour when I got Kings and someone got Queens.

Where was I? Oh, maybe my best laydown ever. I have JsTs on the button and limp into a family pot. The 8s7d4s flop gives me all the draws. A min. bet (50) from the BB is called once before it gets to me and I call as well. The turn is 2s and the BB throws out another min. bet. Other fella folds and I pop it to 350. BB pushes over the top. I think I go broke on this hand 97 times out of 100. But not last night. I mucked and he showed his Ks5s.

While I ritualistically kiss myself all over in awe of my excellence, I get the aforementioned Kings and go to the first Break with nearly 6K and a top 20 chip standing.

I get 66 the first hand back and I raise to get the blinds. That would be the last hand I would play for the next 40 minutes. I made up a fictional skit starring our friends who work at Full Tilt to explain.

"Hey, let's fuck with Speaker."
"Card dead?"
"Sure. To start."
"Got it. No Hammers though. He might play those."
"Give him an ace-little. Suited. See if he can resist."
"Ohhhh. Test passed."
"Okay, try this. When he gets done posting the blinds, move him to another table right into the big blind. Try to do it when the blinds go up, too."
(Much laughter in the Full Tilt office)

To their (fictional) credit, they did bestow aces after that long drought. And they did bestow aces when I had three short-stacked Push Monkeys at my table, so my 3x raise hardly fazed two of 'em who were itching to get their money in with KQo and A8o. Thanks, kids. I was up near 11K at that point and then it happened. You might wanna shield the women and children.

I limp on the button with a pair of twos. Six of us see a flop of KQ8 rainbow. It's checked around. I know somebody got a piece of that and don't make a position bet. I'm happy to see a free card. I check to see if any of the remaining twos complete the rainbow and one does. "Gimme the deuce of hearts," I implore my computer screen.

Ask and Ye shall receive.

See? In The Zone. I'm giddy with my disguised set and believe not only that I'm way ahead, but I'm gonna get some action. UTG leads out for 800, twice the minimum bet. UTG+1 bumps it to 2400. I pause for just a moment and conclude pocket 8s is the only semi-reasonable limping hand I could be behind here. They're betting the flop cards, since only one two remains. Two pair is possible, but a set is unlikely and I'm through seeing monsters under the bed. I push my remaining 10K into the middle. UTG is the only caller, with KQo.

The good news is I had him out-chipped by 2800. The bad news is he hit his River 4-outer to win boat over boat. I'd suggest this put me on Tilt, but that comes nowhere close to what I felt. I quite literally assumed the fetal position. I'm sorry, Poker Gods, was that rectal examination today? I totally forgot. The carnage showed that I fell from the top third of the field with 60 left (36 paid) to 58th. Absent the 4-outer, I'd have been second in chips.

You know what happens now. With less than 6x the BB, with a sub-atomic Harrington M Factor, I have to push with a marginal hand. Get called by a big stack who either a) dominates me or b) sucks out. So much for the The Zone.

Ah, but wait.

Two hands later, I push over the top of one limper with Jc9c. Folds back to him and he happily calls with his AQo. But the River Jack saves me and I'm back up to 5K. I get blinded down for a couple orbits, when I'm first to act on the button with Qh9h. Hey, it's better than average! I push at the blinds and the BB, a loose player who's also short, though not as much as me, calls with 87s. No improvement by either and I'm still kickin', baby.

From there, I manage to fold into the money, hanging on to about 6K when that time comes. A few orbits later, another shortish stack pushes at me from the SB. I happily call with KTo. He shows 42s and I double up again. Now I've got chips. Still only about 10x the BB, but no reason to get crazy. With about 8K left, I get AKo in the BB and raise out the SB, who merely completed. The very next hand, I again get AKo and re-raise the same guy's button raise all-in. He calls with AQo and I am REALLY kickin' now, baby, 10th in chips with 3 tables remaining.

Alas, that was the end of my card rush. I stole enough to keep treading water. Got 88 once, but no action. Down to 14 players and about 16K, I pushed over the top of a button raise (which was so transparently to protect a small pair, I can't tell you. The Zone) with Kournikova. Sadly, his 44 held up (and did I really hear Vince Van Patten refer to 44 as "mid-life crisis" last night? Holy Crap) and I was out.

Nonetheless, from a chip and a chair to 14th of 307 sent this boy to bed happily. It's starting to come back. And even the bankroll got fed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Write Stuff

It's a fine line between clever and stupid. Lord knows I straddle it every day. Does anyone care about my carefully crafted observations, those tight little nuggets of wisdom I've gleaned from years of studying the human condition? You know, the great mysteries like why Pakistani broads are so hairy. Am I giving the people what they want? Is it form or content? Vocabularic gymnastics or simple truths?

The simple truth is that there are a million sentences and themes colliding in my brain and I've no idea where any of them--save one--will take me at this moment.

I think too much. It's always been a problem, one that manifested itself most frequently in a pretty brutal case of insomnia that lasted into my 30s. When I was a kid, I was afraid of everything: Being kidnapped and buried alive, various monsters, Global Thermonuclear War. I didn't dare shut my eyes for fear of the horrors that would visit me in my sleep. Later, it was my life failures, my sense of powerlessness to stem a downward spiral and repeated panic attacks that had me convinced I'd never see 40. Years of a happy marriage, general satisfaction and increased self-assurance have reversed that course, but I still spend too much time inside my own head.

Lately, much of that mental self-examination has centered around this little blog deal. Though I still like to think this is all for me ("self-indulgent" even, as some have criticized), there can be no doubt that I'm writing for an audience. And that is a factor in what I put down, a factor that has altered the way I approach these posts.

The issue is whether that's a bad thing. I don't feel like I've changed my core principals, like performing for readers is, in some way, a betrayal of my creative muse (though use of the phrase "creative muse" might be). In fact, I think it might be a step in my development as a writer, development being the ultimate goal. Surely, I've gained a modicum of discipline by feeling like I need to be a regular presence here. The few aborted attempts I've made to pursue writing have always crashed on the rocks of my poor self-discipline. That there are people out there who read this regularly, even some who like it, has given me a sense of responsibility.

Of course, responsibility isn't something with which I'm entirely comfortable. And I look around at other writers and mock myself for thinking I could compete with them.

I'm not fishing for validation here. It's nice when someone reacts to something I wrote in the same manner I do. I'm plenty proud of some of the good shit I've managed to squeeze out in this space. And, at the end of the day, this is a mostly enjoyable process, even if it never takes me further than this home base. But I know there are other worlds to conquer, treks that will take more discipline and more skill than I've featured here. As such, I'm afraid. Somebody hold me.

Sure, I tell myself, this happy crappy little blog is fun and I've benefited in myriad ways from the friendship and camaraderie of my peers. But it's not exactly the Great American Novel, is it? It's not a long-form, coherent, literary narrative that makes grown men weep or little girls sigh.


What really set me on this path of thought was a couple books I've read recently. I just finished the latest novel from Tom Wolfe, "I Am Charlotte Simmons." I revere Wolfe, as might be expected considering my profession, the deserved "Dean of New Journalism." Our society grieves for the loss of the kind of sharp commentary Wolfe and his peers (HST, Terry Southern, George Plimpton) provided and there's a huge hole where they once ruled (I'm sorry Mr. Franzen, your application has been rejected). But Wolfe isn't that same guy any longer. Hell, he's not even the "Bonfire of the Vanities" guy any longer. "Charlotte" was obvious in its satire, shallow in its subject matter and exposed no more folly than your average daily newspaper. I won't even mention the clunky "sex" prose.

Yet, there is one chapter, one extended passage, where his powers as a story-teller are in full evidence. Where, like the best can, he found the audience. He found ME. He put his arm around my shoulder and took me down a trodden path, summoning dormant feelings and sharp memory. It was as if he'd taken a snap shot of my life and projected it on an IMAX screen so perfectly did he convey the despair, the abject depression of the protagonist. It was masterful and, for that all-too-brief 40 pages, I was blown away. As opposed to the other 680 pages where I was merely a semi-interested observer.

The other book, which I've mentioned here previously, is "The Tender Bar," by J.R. Moehringer. Unlike the Wolfe novel, this memoir hit me in so many different ways I can't begin to enumerate them. Just fantastic on so many levels, speaking to me as a writer, as a son and father, as someone who made bad choices and cowered in the face of difficult decisions. More importantly, Moehringer is telling his own life--like the blog here--yet you are not simply an observer. He pulls you in! You not only identify with him, you are him!

As I said, there are a plethora of little moments in this book with which I could identify. The themes, personal though they may be, are also universal and easily tapped due to the inclusive nature of the tale. I can't recommend it highly enough and I couldn't aspire to anything more meaningful.


So what does my jaunt down Book Criticism Lane have to do with me and my blog/writing/mental health issues?

Nothing. Everything. The blog has spawned new goals, which are quite possibly unreachable, irresponsible and/or idiotic. But I know one thing: I've connected with the audience a couple times. I've taken you down that trodden path. Does that mean I'm ready to graduate to the bestseller lists? Because I wrote a good post in my blog?


But I hope it's been good practice. 'Cause I've got more to do.

Step One

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I'm Good Enough...I'm Smart Enough...

I feel better. I really do. My bankroll is giving me a dirty look, like a chick whose mother fails to regurgitate that tasty chewed up worm into its mouth. Nope. The worm is all mine.

What I mean to say is, my game is coming back around, a fact that is not yet reflected in the bankroll. I've been able to make good laydowns and maximize my big hands lately. Just seem to be running into one or two unlucky breaks when the bubble appears over the horizon. Like tonight when my KK fell to A6o to bust me. Or yesterday when I raised a limper with AQs, flopped the ace and a couple spades, turned ANOTHER ace, got my money in and lost to AK. Have I mentioned lately how much I hate people who limp with AK?

Regardless, I've been in a full tournament poker immersion program and am getting the correct thought processes working again. A little frustrating still, but I've managed to avoid feeling that way at the tables. It manifests itself more in those quiet moments, when I'm alone with my thoughts and some soft jazz. But I'm through doubting my game. It's not near perfect, but it has done right by me in the past and I'm feeling increasingly confident that it will again.

All that said, I'm dying to play some live poker. I need to get out, drink myself into a reasonable facsimilie of a stupor and re-raise some douchebags. Is it Vegas time yet?

Or, perhaps I'll make my triumphant return to the Crazy Re-Buy on Saturday night--I've sworn those off during this little period of malaise--complete with Drunken Live Blog ridiculousness. Haven't done one of those in a while, partly because there's usually some big chat party going on and God knows people who like their funny bone tickled don't wanna miss that.

Whatever, I'll be getting more poker content into this space in the coming days/weeks. Tonight, however, I'll leave you with a hand history that makes me wanna cry.

In the $20 MTT on Stars tonight, I raised my relatively tight/passive table to 3x the BB (100/200) with 66. Two calls behind and the SB, who was very solid, raised to 2K. I'm very obviously behind here and with more than 3K in chips remaining, it's an easy fold. Yet, the others behind me both call. Curious, wouldn't you say?

The flop is TT6. I throw up in my mouth as all three players go all-in. ATs v. ATo v. KK (SB had KK). ATs catches runner-runner flush to take the whole thing. Yes, I would have quadrupled up.

If I wasn't so damn good.

(Yes, for those of you scoring at home, that's two straight posts I've ending with arrogant self compliments. It's all about positive affirmation, baby.)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Better to Look Good Than to Feel Good

I was really looking forward to relating the epic tale of how I won the Poker Stars Blogger tourney and holding a contest to see who would have the pleasure of watching my house while the dear and patient wife and I went to the Bahamas.


I was cruelly hungover, having only a few hours of fitful sleep after my High School reunion on Saturday night. We awoke at 6 in the ayem to catch our early flight back to LA, the flight's earliness precipitated by the tourney. And though things started off well (I got AA and KK in the first half-hour to get up near 3K), I was only slightly more interested in the poker than I was with my pounding head and blurred vision. I had a bluff/continuation bet with AKo snapped off by an aggressive Scot, then had to fold a couple raises to re-raises, taking me down under a grand. I pushed with A6s, found myself ahead of QT, especially after flopping the ace. Naturally, he made runner-runner two pair and I was gone after 52 minutes, a bit disappointed at my showing, but happy to immediately head off for a nap.

When I busted, I had a star-studded table. Maudie was there (also dealing with the aggressive Scot directly on her left). Said Kilt-Wearer made it to the final table, along with a second player at our table. So at least my chips went a long way.

I woke up in time to see Bobby go on his card rush (correction: his Skillful Play Tutorial, available by mail order) and, most importantly, to see the most hilarious chat in my personal experience. If you weren't there, hopefully it was captured--and soon to be posted--in all it's glory.

Congrats to the winners and those who went prize-deep (PPP Halverson, Scott and Jason among them) and thanks to Poker Stars for setting this up. I don't get on early Sunday morning flights for just anybody, so that should convey the depth of my appreciation.


So, my reunion...

I don't really know what to think about the whole deal. As I was in the moment, I was having fun. In retrospect, I am kind of at a loss. I was surprised at the relatively poor turnout (I'd wager less than 25% of my classmates attended). I was happy to see a few faces and pleased with the conversations I had with other, more unexpected, folks. But...

I hate superficial bullshit. And, with scant exceptions, that's what it was. (I would like to stress that this is TOTALLY my own bleeping problem/characteristic and do not hold anyone accountable, save for the two people who were totally, and, far as I know, needlessly, rude to me--which is okay--and the dear and patient wife--which is not.)

On top of all that, I have Alzheimers.

You know how you wake up some weekend mornings after going a little too deeply into the bottle and your buddy reminds you of all the stupid things you did the night before, things which would probably pass into oblivion if you yourself were called on for total recall, but as soon as you hear the tale, you nod and it comes flooding back?

That happens to me, though I have an excellent memory. My good friend Schott, whose presence was the only hands-down highlight of the weekend, told this story about he and I, and two other random classmates, performing some lip-synch contest on a party night in high school. I thought he was confusing me with someone else as I had no recollection of such a strange event, but another of the participants was at the bar and verified Schott's account verbatim. Which doesn't mean I remember it at all. That portion of my brain which carried that singular event has been erased. Which makes me wonder what else has been lost?

Yes, it is quite possible I'm over-reacting to this but, in conjunction with the 20-year reunion, it's goddamn depressing.

It's a good thing I'm still handsome.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Fleece Pimp

A conversation:

Id: Hits are down, bitches. Comments are few and far between. I'M DYING HERE!
Ego: What should we do?
Id: Fix it! Now!
Superego: How? What makes a good blog?
Id: Porn.
Superego: That doesn't seem morally right to me.
Ego: Yes, the blog should be geniune, a synthesis of our experience. Personalized and truthful, but containing universal themes which speak to others' lives and experiences.
Id: Bah! What about the dick jokes?!?! Those are funny. People like those. That's a universal theme.
Superego: I'm more comfortable with the gambling aspect--which I'm not comfortable with at all--than the dick joke aspect.
Ego: Poker isn't gambling, you pansy nitwit. Boy, those Southern Baptists are STILL ruling your world view. Anyway, as I was saying, we need to be interesting and open. Let people in, prance about in our head for a bit to see if there's anything they can hold onto.
Id: Yeah! Let's gamble! Action, action, action!
Ego: What we need to do is chart a consistent path, find a voice, a style, that works for us. Establish ourselves as "That Blog" and then occasionally be something different. Something unique.
Id: We already have a style! You and your stupid big words. Nobody knows what "lugubrious" means. Look where THAT'S gotten us.
Superego: "Lugubrious?" Oh dear, we're not talking about porn again, are we?
Id: Jesus...
Superego: Sinner!
Id: ...H. Christ. When are we gonna re-condition this primitive twit. We're not 8 years old any more. Not to mention the whole Oedipal thing.
Ego: I think we're off the track now. To your corners gentlemen. The issue remains. A good blog should be interesting, informative, enjoyable and relevent. It should be truthful and encompassing, shedding light not just on the good, but the bad, both of which can be instructional and entertaining to the reader. It should present us as we are, absent dissembling...
Id: Goddamnit with the big words!
Ego: Sorry. It shouldn't be dishonest.
Superego: Thou Shalt Not Lie.
Ego: It should be frequent and thought out, with the ability to inspire recognition in others. And, hopefully, a little humorous.
Id: Yay! Dick jokes!


End scene.

I sure hope Poker Stars likes Freud.

Going Full Tilt

In the second hour of an MTT, I call a minimum raise on the button (blinds at 100/200) with ATo and three of us see a flop of Td8c4d. First to act leads out with a minimum bet of 200. Into a 1400 pot. Original raiser just calls.

What am I facing here? The minimum bet, at first glance, shows weakness. As does the call behind. With TPTK I have to raise to defend and advertise my made hand, which I do, to 1200. Original bettor calls and the other drops.

Turn is Qd, a scare card in several ways. Again, first to act leads out for 200.

Based on the way he played the flop, I can put him on diamonds and THIS TIME the small bet is an inducement for action. But I'm unsure enough about the made flush, that I can call the cheap bet that's only 5% of the pot at this point. So I do.

The river is a rag and he checks. I mull again the likelihood of him having the diamonds and am happy to check behind. He shows JTo and I drag the pot.

Welcome to Full Tilt Poker.

Now, his play confuses me for a number of reasons. First, he was the big stack at the table. If you flop top pair, don't you want to lead at it reasonably strongly to gauge your place in the hand? I certainly do. By not doing so, he has no idea where he stands (dominated) and has no information to continue later in the hand (though my big flop raise should have alerted him). Second, if you're gonna CALL a 1200 flop bet, why not make that bet yourself?

Of course, I hardly played it flawlessly myself, letting the turn shut me down. Not unreasonable, but I did let him see a cheap river with 7 outs. My defense is that I truly didn't know what to make of his betting pattern. And really, how could I? It makes no sense given his holding. I gave away a value bet on the end, but feared a trap, so I'm okay with that.

I have found myself in this situation several times in my brief flirtation with Full Tilt multis. This was my fourth and each has featured a considerable amount of passive play, especially in contrast to Poker Stars, my usual home for MTTs. I see a lot of minimum pre-flop raises take the blinds (and antes!). Late in last night's tourney, flops were scarce. The tourney leader with 15 left had an M Ratio of just 8. We're talking about extremely tight/passive play. The flip side of that, naturally, is that when someone plays back at you, you can bet they're packing a hand.

So I made some adjustments last night. I had to be willing to limp early on with marginal, but playable, holdings (K9s for instance) because if you wait for Group One hands, you're not gonna get any action (and people trying to get fancy to create action lost their shirts, as in two slow-played AAs losing to 53o and KJo respectively) . As the blinds/antes escalated, I raised all my suited connectors pre-flop. I stole from every position at the table. I put in a continuation bet EVERY time I was the pre-flop raiser, even when the flop whiffed me completely. I didn't see a lot of check-raising. Generally, when it got checked around on the flop, a position bet would take it down. I led out on my drawing hands and got folds. Nearly all of which worked perfectly. I gave up some smaller pots in the face of (rare) aggression, but I was able to build my stack by mixing it up more often (and winning the one coin flip in which I was involved).

The best factor in all this is that I had to adjust my normal game, play outside of the comfort zone, and I felt like I adapted pretty well. I had a solid table image. I only had to showdown 4 hands all night and all were suitably monster-ish. I also tried to sow some seeds, min. raising some crappy hands and folding to re-raises. I told Jason, who was graciously sweating and advising me, that I was just waiting to spring the trap by min. raising when I got aces. Unfortunately, I never got the chance.

By the end of the night, I'd fully embraced being the aggressor, which ultimately put me out. I open-raised pre-flop 3 times once we got into the money and, unfortunately, the one time I had a big hand (QQ), I got no action. The other two were 33, which I folded to a pair of re-raises (AA and TT) and, when I was finally short, A4o and was busted by AT.

All in all, not just a slightly profitable evening, but a good learning and playing experience. Sometimes, okay a lot, I get distracted playing online--what with AJ running about and wanting me to change my monkey avatar to angry or confused because it's funnier--and the subtleties of the players elude me. With full attention and some counseling, I was able to devise the best plan of attack last night. It ultimately didn't win me the tourney, but it did get me some money and valuable experience.

The King

Putting together a litle something on my initial impressions of the play at Full Tilt, where I've been hanging out lately for a change of pace. I figure if I give Poker Stars a bit of the ol' "hard to get," they might eventually welcome me back with a starting hand better than 99. I finished 15th in an MTT last night on FT for a minor award, playing well for the most part. I found myself playing the players a lot more and there are truly some strange "moves" that seem de riguer on that site, such as minimum bets into big pots. It's a far less aggressive group than at the other sites, at least so far, which leads to a lot of orphan pots, prime stealing opportunities and the all-important continuation bet.

I'll delve into further detail as time allows.

But now, a personal tribute.


It's pretty much standard Norman Rockwell fare: A kid sitting alone in his bedroom, ears tuned to the AM radio, listening to a baseball game on a breezeless summer evening. I was that kid, hanging on every description of every pitch, maybe tossing a ball in the air and catching it in an excessively oiled glove while reclined on my bed. I recall occasionally keping score on scoresheets pilfered from a baseball dice game (boxcars meant a Home Run) I acquired at some point.

It doesn't take much to transport me back to those times. Bill King's voice usually did it.

You may have heard Bill King and not known it. Though he was largely a regional presence, working in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, his classic calls--most notably of Raider football--have been repeated over and over. He called Dave Casper's "Holy Roller" touchdown against the Chargers. His radio call of the Raiders' 1976 Super Bowl victory is routinely featured on NFL Films ("...Old Man Willie!"), his gutteral "Touchdown, Raiders!" is still invoked by Silver and Black fans the world over and then there's his signature phrase: Holy Toledo!

I first heard his distinctive tone listening to the Golden State Warrior games in the days of Clifford Ray, Sonny Parker and Joey "Sonar" Hassett. He didn't begin doing the A's games until 1981, but that perfectly coincided with my fandom being cemented by the euphoria of Billy Ball and the "Amazing Aces."

He'd lost some of his considerable skill in the past couple years. The mind remained sharp, the vocabulary still deeper than any ex-jock in the booth, but his eye-sight seemed to be failing him. He mis-identified players, mis-judged fly balls and sometimes lagged behind the action. He'd become increasingly curmudgeonly--though, in truth, he was never one to back away from an unpopular opinion, even with his superiors--railing against interleague play, scheduling of games in Arlington, TX in August and which stadiums had the worst food spreads for the media. Yet, when he got it, when the excitement infused his voice and the moment took over, you could still glimpse his characteristic and peculiar genius.

Out of his gourd!"

He wore a handlebar moustache and Van Dyke beard whether they were in or (almost always) out of style. He dressed in plaid suits and cut a dimunutive, if Machiavellian, figure. I learned all those things later, of course, after his lingual concerts became a regular part of my summer nights. Long before a 500 channel television menu, before far-flung games nightly beamed by satellite or via the internet, before blustery hyperbole and bald-faced homerism became the announcing norm, Bill King was my link to something I truly loved. If you can believe it, he made me love it more.

Sports fans develop an attachment to their hometown announcers, but King's straddling of three major Bay Area sports teams may have put him in a different class. A survey by a San Francisco paper once listed the 50 most influential area sports figures and King checked in at #37, ahead of such well-regarded, well-known stars as Juan Marichal, Steve Young and Ken Stabler.

At age 78, he was still contracted to do A's games through 2007. He was once asked when he'd know it's time to end his broadcasting career. He replied, "It will either come to me or some circumstance will dictate it when the time comes and that will be it. I can't think of not being on the air, really, but I know that someday that will come to pass."

It has come to pass. Not in a way anyone would have wanted. Bill King died Monday of complications from hip replacement surgery. He will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

House of Cards

First off, let me offer my condolences to the Astros fans among us. I know we have at least two of them in the community and, as an A's fan, I can certainly empathize with your current plight, though at least your nemesis was ambulatory, unlike Kirk Gibson. Though I suppose the most apt parallel is Dave Henderson and the Angels (and if having to re-live that moment made Angel fans hurt in any way, then good for that), which could become more apt depending on the outcome of the rest of the series. Despite all that, the thing is, in my family, the default team for which to root is the Cardinals.


Last summer was AJ's first trip back to St. Louis, where the bulk of my extended family lives. My mom was born there and my grandparents and myriad aunts, uncles and cousins still reside in the area, though most of them across the River (The Mighty Mississipp, The Ole Miss, The Old Man, Old Man Riiiiiiiver) in rural Illinois where I've gotten into many humorous situations during my visits, like seeing the sun come up outside an all-night roadhouse bar after hours of foosball battles against trailer girls with black roots and too much rouge.

But this trip was about AJ meeting a bunch of family for the first time (and going to the Zoo) and the subject, as it naturally must, quickly turned to baseball.

Aunt Judy: Who's your favorite baseball team, AJ?
AJ: The A's
Aunt Judy: Who's your favorite player?
AJ: Mulder
Aunt Judy: Pujols?
AJ: No! Mulder!

Well, it might surprise some to know that AJ's favorite team, some 14 months later is the Cardinals. Because that's where Mulder got traded (though I've tried to explain to him many times how Billy Beane just FLEECED Jocketty in that deal, though the Cards have gotten some benefit, as well). This delights my grandfather to no end.

The "J" in AJ is my grandfather's name. A life-long Cardinal fan--and it's a long life, approaching 90 years--he taught me much about baseball, mostly during the few years he and my grandmother lived out West with us (though basically having two sets of parents when one is going through adolescence wasn't the greatest thing in the world). Many times he fascinated me with stories. Of Stan the Man. Bob Gibson. Kenny Boyer. I cheered in solidarity for Whitey Ball. I soaked up a ton of baseball knowledge during those years and he still has one of the keener minds for the game I've ever known. Such as we both whole-heartedly agree that Tony LaRussa is horribly over-rated.

He doesn't have much time left, my grandpa. He has macular degeneration and retains only the vaguest sight. He's had a couple heart attacks and is never far from his nitroglycerine pills. More than once in the last couple years has someone uttered the morbid joke that if the Cardinals win the World Series, he'll probably just slip away, content with that one last triumph.

He thinks that's funny, grandpa always being the teasing type. Most of the men in my family got that same gene. It's immensely satisfying to see him have a go at AJ, age not having withered his smile or laughter. I'm rooting for the Redbirds to win and hoping my grandpa sticks around so we can talk about it. For many years to come.


I'm adding a couple to the blogroll today. I am, of course, the world's worst at seeking out new blogs and adding them. Nothing personal. The community's a bit large at this point and there aren't enough hours in the day. I will, however, get around to adding everyone headed to the IP in December. That is, if I find you worthy.

That was a jopke.

Just a couple today though. I was pointed to meekspbr by April. I like the idea of an inanimate (though not static) object as narrator. I once had to write an essay from the POV of a piece of lint (I swear), so I can dig it.

Also finally getting around to adding a new LA-based blog, Pot Committed, written by change100. Welcome to the Region of Champions.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Haircut 100

Random snippets from a random weekend:

HDouble said the tourneys on Full Tilt were soft and that I should start playing there. I always do what Hank says. You should too. I didn't see anything to dissuade me from his observation, but I went 0-3. Made no dent in the first when the FT RNG did a fair imitation of the Poker Stars RNG and cold-decked me for two hours. I bubbled in the second, as in REALLY bubbled, finishing 19th when 18 places paid, though I had a fantastic time playing that one since I was a) drunk and b) in very groovy, tournament-winning, humorous, drunk, drunk, manic, thought-provoking company.

Then last evening, I played my way into the top 10 in chips with about 100 remaining (54 places paid) and proceeded to dump my entire stack on a single hand which I mis-played so poorly that I still can't even figure what I was thinking. You know, when you make a determination before the flop about how you're gonna play the hand, then completely ignore that correct plan of attack AFTER the flop, then you are, by definition, a stupid fucking idiot.

Raises hand

The first step to positive mental poker health is admitting you have a problem, so let's just move on.


I went to a birthday party on Saturday night where a haircut broke out, which not only brought the proceedings to a grinding halt, but resulted in way too many male plumber butt sightings.

No, I will not explain further.

I was talking to the Guest of Honor, an old pal who was one of the first friends I made in the Post-Divorce period of my LA life, when an attractive woman, who carried with her a full tumbler of straight vodka and the air of a rich, bored housewife, heard a snippet of our conversation, the subject being this here little corner of the internets. "You're a writer?!?!" she said, her face opening up. "Not really," I replied. "I have a blog."

She could not have left the room faster if it were on fire.

I still got it, ladies.

The end result of the party was one that often happened to me in days of yore: Sitting around in the wee hours shooting the shit with a good friend and eating deviled eggs. Okay, not so much the deviled egg part, but I had a bit too much to drink. It wasn't exactly the quantity that was a problem, but the variety. SoCo, Tecate, shot of 1800, margarita, Murphy's Irish Stout, SoCo (this one precipitated by one Bobby Bracelet on the line from Sin City where my memory insists he said he was getting a massage from a porterhouse steak), shot of Patron. All of which resulted in me being the Last Man (fortunately) Standing and staking out a spot on the couch.

Thanks very much to C and K for the excellent time and when y'all get a minute could you mail me my cell phone? Thanks.


Too bad about those Angels. Maybe my asshole neighbor will take down that stupid flag now. He's got a USC flag up too, but I guess that one can stay. What a game! I don't bother much with college football these days, but had it on the tube while puttering around the house and ended up bolted to the couch for the second half. Riveting drama.


The End.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Just Kidding

A feckless and infuriating Ken Macha, let go by the A's 10 days ago when they failed to reach agreement on a contract extension, is shockingly re-hired as manager through 2008. A's fans react:

"On the bright side, there is no bright side."
"Well, those of us who only watch baseball to see those who have mastered the art of chewing juicy fruit are thrilled."
"I need drugs. Illegal, illicit drugs. I hate everything."
"I'm giving real consideration to giving up baseball until 2009."
"This sucks more than anything that has ever previously sucked."
"Anyone who defends Beane('s move) can go fuck themselves."
"The most disgusting A's news in 10 years."
"I feel like i've been told I have only six months to live."

and my personal favorite:

"He doesn't get the Pittsburgh job so he comes back crawling....AND we hire him back? Disgusting. We are now Pittsburgh's sloppy seconds."

Thanks to the good folks at Ken Macha is a Moron and I Hate Him, Athletics Nation and my buddies over at the ESPN A's message board for some laughter amidst the sorrow.

I'd like to try to make some modicum of sense out of this news, but there is none.

The End is Very Fucking Nigh

No, I'm not fixin' to go broke, despite the paddling I'm taking at the tables. Card dead, mostly. When I do wake up with a hand, I find myself dominated (like getting JJ after 50 straight folds last night and running into QQ). But I'm mostly unaffected, despite the unfairness--THE INHUMANITY--of it all. Like Gloria Gaynor, I Will Survive. And I've already socked away my bankroll for December's Blogger Conclave, which is rapidly becoming my raison d'etre. The rewards and friendships poker and this silly little blog have given me far out-weigh any monetary success and it's easy to get over the beats when a chat room is full of weirdos making me laugh every two seconds. God Bless you kids.

The title refers to the fact my 20-year High School Reunion is a week away. That I am of an age where such an event is necessary is also truly unfair. This thing coming up has sent me into spasmodic trips amongst the past and the one thing that keeps coming back is "Where did the time go?" Seriously, there are large chunks of the '90s missing. I'd like to blame the LSD, but I happen to remember those times very clearly.

And High School, well, that's still pretty clear. Because, I guess, it seems so important to us at the time. It's the first time we become aware of a society and our place in it, the different strata and castes. How our only real life issues are acceptance and trying to get into Mary Jane Rottencrotch's pretty pink panties. There's no pressure of money or mortages or child-rearing, things that detract from us savoring memorable moments.

I was lucky. High school for me wasn't the difficult road it is for many. Sure, there were moments of humiliation and despair, which seemed utterly tragic at the time. But I was generally happy with my lot. I was far from being ensconsed in the Inner Circle, but I could straddle it from time to time. Most of all, however, I had three friends who made it all worthwhile, who protected me, mocked me, entertained me, inspired me, challenged me and yes, I think it's fair to say, loved me.

Of course, none of those assholes are going to the reunion. Thanks a lot, jerks.

Schott loved high school, too. Which is why he's not going. He wants it to stay right where it is, in the past. He doesn't want to see our classmates with 20-years worth of life packed on. He wants to remember them when their flowers were still in bloom.

Kool Breeze doesn't want to go because he dreads the idea of repeating the same rote lines over and over. "I work for _______. I'm living in __________..." Yeah, I'm not really looking forward to that part, either. I'm mulling the idea of changing it every time. "I'm a rocket scientist. I live in India." Things like that. I'll start drinkin' early.

Ron Don Majaworski, well, actually I don't know if he's coming or not since he won't return my calls.

I will get a chance to meet up with them on Friday night, however, and that's the part I'm looking forward to the most.


As far as the reunion itself goes, I have no idea what to expect. I've heard from several people recently, people to whom I've not spoken in a dozen years or more. Some of them I've even wrote about here (and God Knows there is no way I'm outing my blog since I'll be providing intimate details here 10 days from now), like Harry, and I'm absolutely going to enjoy seeing the likes of him again.


The reunion invitation included a link to photos from the last affair five years back. It was with great anticipation that I pulled it up. But looking at the pictures kinda made my nuts draw back into my belly. I barely recognized any faces. I caught some nametags, sparking some familiarity, but could not, for the life of me, remember specific situations which I shared with them way back when. Uh oh, I thought, this is gonna be awkward.

I went to one previous reunion, the 5-year, which was less a reunion that a big party. I had a good time seeing a bunch of friends and partying before and after in our hotel, but the reunion itself sucked balls. For one, it was a big "Dick-Size Contest," full of one-upsmanship and self-promotion. Gawd, I hope we've all moved beyond that point and are comfortable in our adulthood to be honest and genuine. Though I like to talk about myself, as anyone knows, I don't think I'm an especially impressive person. Sure, I have good hair (which should probably put me in the top ten percentile in that crucial reunion demographic), but I'm extremely happy in my averageness (again, NOT the Type-A personality) and more than satisfied with my station in life. I don't envy much in others (though people going to Vegas without me PISSES. ME. OFF.) and I immediately shut down when confronted by braggarts.

Secondly, a lot of people were really uptight last time. Specifically, I greeted a couple people with the nicknames--of the non-insulting variety, I might add--we used in HS and they were truly offended, quickly correcting me. Huh? Loosen the fuck up. It's a party, Senator.


Of course, I can't help but contrast my trepidation with the giddy feelings of anticipation I felt before the June Blogger Gathering. It's weird, ain't it? I dread awkwardness, pregnant pauses and lagging conversation with people I've known for over 20 years, but felt no such issues with people I'd never met.

Is there a phychologist in the house?

Truth is, though I shared a formative and character building four-year experience with these people, I don't REALLY know anything about them. I don't know anything about their lives or personalities. The bloggers, well, I knew you were all retarded and debauched and that I'd fit in perfectly.

ANYWAY, this is much ado about nothing. I'm showing up with my hair, my new suit and a hot wife. Alcohol, it is rumored, will be available. What could go wrong?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Pyramid Scheme

Good evening and welcome to a special Prime Time Edition of The $20,000 Pyramid. I'm your host Donny Osmond.

Today, we have blogger and perennial tournament Donkey Joe Speaker attacking the Big Board with help from our celebrity guest Joey Lawrence of "Blossom."

Joey, you'll be giving the clues. Joe, you'll be receiving. Ready...begin.

"Origami, clothes, your 7th straight hand of nine-three off-suit..."
"Things that you fold."

"Atoms, subatomic particles, your percentage of seeing the flop..."
"Things so small you can only see them under a microscope."

"A wheel, a rock..."
"Things you throw at people."
"A skier, lava, your poker bankroll..."
"Things that can quickly go downhill."

"Greed, sloth..."
"The seven deadly si..."
"Gluttony, not honoring your father and mother, murder, minimum raises..."
"Things that make Baby Jesus cry!"

"Derek Jeter, strip clubs, The Grateful Dead..."
"Pauly's perfect Friday night..."
"...the New England Patriots, King-Queen off-suit..."
"Things that are over-rated."

"Diapers, a cow pasture, your 153rd place finish in last night's Multi..."
"Things that are crappy."

Ding ding ding ding. We have a winner!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

There's No Place Like Home

I was planning on some poker goodness last night but got distracted. Namely, by the dear and patient wife modeling her Halloween costume. When she mentioned she was going as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, I stirred not at all, leastways in my nether regions. Sure, in the right context, a reasonable facsimile of Judy Garland can be arousing, like in "Swingers" where the Vegas Girl is much hotter in her costume than later back at the trailer. But, I did not put the get-up on par with...say...a Catholic School Girl or a Playboy Bunny on the sexy quotient.

Nice read.

This particular costume comes equipped with thigh-high white stockings and a rather short skirt. Not to mention red pumps (in lieu of ruby slippers). Suffice to say, there was a "twister." And no poker.


In the interest of culturalizing you people (with made-up words like "culturalizing"), I'm adding a buddy's blog on the right. Jamie is of the highest breeding--meaning he's an A's fan--and currently immersing himself in German culture (ie Oktoberfest). Some cool photos and stories over there if you're interested.



I was informed the other night by a certain Princess that metrosexuality is out. Furthermore, the Earth is round and water is wet. It was never really "in," was it? I know it got a label, but the whole idea was almost immediately and roundly mocked, yes? It's not like men started rushing to get pedicures and Beckham haircuts (does not apply to the Far East). It was more of a "these people exist" thing. I don't know anyone who was hot to jump on that particular trend. No, not even I, seeing as I'm not really a metrosexual. I can prove it.

1. I haven't combed or brushed my hair since 1987.
2. I let my fingernails grow to unreasonable lengths, though this is partly because I can never find the goddamn clippers.
3. Unless I'm going to work or church, I always have an old Adidas or A's cap on.
4. I buy my hair products at Target. And I buy what's on sale.
5. I mis-spelled Giorgio Armani the other day.

So yes, while I spend far to much time in Banana Republic for a straight guy, while my closet is the largest in my home, while I often plan out my wardrobe a week in advance, you can clearly see that I'm just a run-of-the-mill narcissist and not a metrosexual.

By the way, the metros are being replaced--apparently--by "Uber-sexuals," which has a more masculine edge, but is really just another made-up marketing opportunity. Expect a run on lumberjack clothing in the near future.


I plan on playing the $20 MTT on Stars tonight (8:30 p.m. PST) if anyone wants to join me. That is, unless I have to help some poor heroine find her Toto.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Do Over

Jeez, who was that unreadable nincompoop who posted in my blog yesterday, trying to get all cute and metaphorical and basically missing the entire point he was trying to make? was me.

In hindsight, I didn't quite spell out exactly the conclusion I came to regarding my poker play. I should stick to dick jokes instead of trying to be all deep and fancy. Oh well, it wasn't a total loss as we learned another disturbing fact about Bobby Bracelet.

What I was really trying to say was this: I gained an inflated sense of my ability as a poker player. This was largely due to my run of excellent results in April and May, especially in online tourneys. These happened to include four WPBT satelittes to the WSOP where I had 3 top 10 finishes, including a win. So, really, who could blame me for thinking I was good all of a sudden? Those are some tough goddamn fields and I was runnin' over you bitches like the Nigerian Nightmare in short-yardage situations.


Of course, what followed was a summer-long reaming of epic proportions. As the beats piled up, my play faltered and I began to question myself. But these issues simply obscured the fact that I had changed my game from what had previously worked, that of tight, smart, patient play in the MTTs. I started playing a different game, trying out a more advanced style. Now, learning and trying new things in regard to improvement is a good thing. But what I failed to recognize was that I had moved too far forward too quickly. In retrospect, I jumped over a couple steps. I went from A to D, missing some vital information along the way. As such, I wasn't totally equipped for the game I was playing.

You hear the pros talk all the time about how you have to take shots. But they don't take shots just looking for a bigger score. They take shots because they feel they've mastered their level and the only way to improve is to move up. I agree. It's just that I haven't mastered my level, so the shots I've taken have predictably failed.

So, I'm back to my level. I'm back to playing my tight, smart, patient game, variously incorporating B and C, re-tracing my steps, picking up those things I dropped in my haste.


All of which means you'll be able to find me pretty frequently in the nightly Stars $20 MTT (though I'm also playing cash games regularly, as well). I played last night and finished 153 (of 828). Which is not really impressive except for the fact I was cold-decked for nearly two hours (I had stats that would make drizz insane with jealously). By the way, you read that right. I went out at Level 7 and 72% of the field was already gone. It's almost like you can fold into the money.

I was forced to push with my AQs in the SB and it was actually a pretty good spot for me since there was but a single raise in front and the guy had 88. The problem was the BB woke up with Big Slick. IGHN.


Oh shoot, the Red Sox AND Yanks bombed out of the playoffs? That's too bad. Really. I sincerely hope no FOX executives jump out their office windows over this. Who wants to bet Buck and McCarver still get in plenty of references to the two clubs.

"What a catch by Edmonds! That play gets me about as excited as the time I licked Jeter's anus!"

You know, for example.

I'm tempted to write who I'm rooting for, but the last time I did that, I put a monumental jinx on the Indians. So I'll just sit here quietly and pray I don't have to deal with another off-season of the Angels being world champs.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Finding a Suitable Style

There I was...there I was...there I was... IN the Congo.

I don't recall what that's from, a commercial maybe? But I very nearly started this post with "There I was" and the instant that line popped into my head I scrapped that tack in favor of this begining, which can't possibly be BETTER than what I originally planned but I'm trying to be more stream-of-consciousness these days, which naturally leads to run-on abominations like this sentence.

Still with me?

After my soccer game yesterday, I ventured East with the fam in tow for an afternoon of shopping at the local Outlet Mall, which sits right in the shadow of Morongo Hotel and Casino. It was there I fingered my fat wallet and contemplated taking a shot.

The occasion was buying something pretty for my upcoming 20-year HS reunion. The site was the Georgio Armani store. The object of my affection was this gorgeous blue-grey three-button suit. Exquisitely tailored, giving some shape to my rectangular torso. Running the fabric through my fingers made me immediately want to rub it over my naked body. I may have swooned.

Even at only 25% of the original listed price, it checked in at considerably more than I've ever paid for a garment in my entire life. But I wanted it.


My sporadic poker play of late has been due to many factors, not the least of which is necessary attention to other facets of this here life of mine. It's been nice to step back. Not step back to analyze my play, but to push away and simply leave the game alone. Often, when I write, I do the same. I'll get something down, not always to my satisfaction, but at least I've transfered what I'm thinking to the page in some form. If I can't seem to make it work, I give it the silent treatment. Sometimes a solution presents itself out of the ether, but, more often, the piece sits alone, continues to gather virtual dust. In the best circumstance, what happens later is that I come back to it and it's almost like a whole new document. I see it with fresh eyes and a mind uncluttered by over-analyzing. Much easier to fix that way.

I've been taking much the same approach to poker. I've played some. I've played different games, too. But not with the same intensity. I'm not reading any books, though I have four or five of them stacked up and ready to go. I'm trying to unclutter. And perhaps in that simple act, I'll find some knowledge.


I stood in front of the mirror forever, manually altering the pants (no pleats, godblessem), turning to see all the angles. The dear and patient wife looked on approvingly, star-struck even. It was that beautiful.

We huddled near the dressing room a short time later, discussing the finances, the cost-benefit ratio. I was starting to get a little uncomfortable.


What I've learned about myself lately in regard to poker is that I had a somewhat faulty view of my ability, the view that I am superior to many of my opponents. That erroneous idea has translated to some poor play, largely manifested in my attempts to scare players off hands.

"You called with THAT?!?!? Don't you know who I am?"

Okay first, to my knowledge, I've never said that. And second, shoot me if I ever become that guy. But that's basically a hyperbolic way of explaining what's gone wrong in my game. Sure, I can push certain players off second pair, but if I'm picking the WRONG players to try that move, who's the donkey?

Where I picked up this hubris is a mystery. I've had some tournament success, but it's not like I'm clogging up thepokerdb with my laundry list of results. Regardless, what I've ended up with is getting myself into difficult situations that I previously avoided because I didn't feel confident playing that way. I've loosened up pre-flop, planning on out-playing folks later in the hand.

And it's not working.

I feel like I should be past where I am in my poker journey. I felt like I was taking the next step in my development, becoming more aggressive. But I'm not there yet. I'm playing too much of a style that I'm uncomfortable with and it's cost me money. At this point, it's just not me.


I didn't buy the suit. Not because of the expense. Partly because it wasn't the exact color I had in mind, but mostly because it just wasn't me. I'm not an Armani guy. And it seemed fraudulent to show up at my reunion representing I am.

I put it back on the hanger, brushed the sleeves one last time and left it behind. Later, I found a nice suit, in the right color, off the rack, for about a third of the cost of the Armani. The fabric is fine and it fits well. The dear and patient wife, to lift my spirits, says she'll be happy to rub it over my naked body.


If I play poker now, I'm gonna stick with what got me my bankroll (this doesn't apply to my upcoming win in the blogger tourney in case any of you are taking notes; no, I will be as unpredictable as a guy working his way through a 12-pack of Newcastle, which is what I plan to do) for now. Keep playing the syle and level at which I'm currently comfortable, instead of my fraudulent attempts to emulate Gus Hansen. I realize I can't stay here forever. I understand the need to improve. Which doesn't mean I can go willy-nilly from the kiddie pool to the high dive.

So how do I progress from here? Well, right now, I'm just gonna leave it alone. Something will bring me back to it, cast a different light. It usually does.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Change Man

Not a bad poker weekend 'round these parts. Made a solid showing/cash in a $20 MTT on Saturday (35 of 911) going out in the same manner I got sent packing in the WSOP (my pre-flop re-raise all-in with QQ losing to AJo for those of you new to this space). I played an excellent tourney. Stayed just barely ahead of the blinds most of the afternoon. Made a big play midway through the second hour when I was a below average stack. Limped along with 3 others on the button with A9s to see an AKQ flop. Got check-raised by a big (though not very good) stack and used my full bank to take him off KQ and JT (the latter which he would have most surely played slower). I re-raised him all in thinking he had a naked ace and a split was comin'. I was right. Sorta. He showed A7o and the beautiful turn 5 and lovely river 3 gave me the whole shebang.

I also laid down JJ in MP when on the bubble. A smaller stack pushed in front and I had him out-chipped by just over 5K, or 3 big blinds. I folded, mainly to make the money, but partly because of the loose calling big stacks behind me. Um, one of those big stacks woke up with aces.

My last good move was limping on the button with AQo (three limpers in front) and having the SB raise 5x. Folds back to me and I pushed. Pushed him right off whatever he had. I figured it was a semi-steal, settling on a medium pair for him. Not that I wanted a call. I had enough chips to make it a tough decision for him and I was happy he folded.

Basically, I played it pretty straight the whole way through with the occasional wrinkle, something I'm getting better at as far as picking the right time and right player to pull a move. Baby steps.

Also pulled a small profit out of the Baddest Home Game in the West, which is about as simple as pulling an abscessed tooth out of a crocodile, but infinitely more fun. Thanks as always to HDouble and MrsHDouble for the hospitality, which, sadly doesn't stretch to the latter knocking me out first in the SnG portion of the proceedings. The three times I've managed to attend the game, I've finished last twice in that part, though I won it the other time.

Strangely enough, my exit was on the exact same type of hand that fueled my last win, against the same opponent. Last time, my 88 held up against her KQ. This time, my 77 failed vs. her KTs. So, the percentages pretty much work out.

Got my buy-in+ back in the cash game, basically by out-flopping people all night. The good thing about having the aggressive Lance (Pants) to your left is that you can pretty much assure he's calling any pre-flop raises out of the blinds, so you know you're getting a good price on looser calls on the button or in the SB. Such knowledge allowed me to win pots with 42o (flopping two pair) and ATs against Ryan's jacks. Of course, Lance isn't just a LAG. People's exhibit #1 is when I couldn't con him into a bet when I slow-played my flopped set of Kings. In fact, there were very few big pots. It's the nature of the game. People don't try to draw out because they don't have the odds to draw out. It is, above all else, a great time and an excellent learning experience. Wanna get better? Play with better players.


I'll say this about my soccer game today:


That pretty much sums it up.


Sitting at Starbucks this morning with the family, we were approached by a local homeless guy. We use a Starbucks debit card and were devoid of any cash. When appraised of our situation, said change-seeker continued to linger and stare. After a couple more minutes of this, the dear and patient wife dearly and patiently re-stated our position, finally convincing him to walk away and prompting AJ to say, "Mommy, when I grow up, I don't wanna be a Change Man."

I need to get the little bugger a sitcom.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Police Blotter

I was reading Arcata Eye and found inspiration. For good or ill.


The cops had been there before, of course, prodding the teen-agers from the house, from their New Year's Eve revelry, into their cars, which poured pell-mell out of the suburban cul-de sac. In this oft-repeated dance, the Kids returned as soon as the black and whites were gone.

It might have been the third time, maybe the fourth, when a straggled band of young pedestrians--those without cars--mis-timed their re- re- re-return. They had little option when the squad car skidded to a stop and a puffed-up officer jumped out promising, "Someone's gonna go to jail." He gathered the motley group of seven, boy and girl alike, pulling one from behind a shrub, foiling his comical attempt at a hiding place, his knobby legs peeking out as clear and obvious as the North Star.

Rituals began, of straight lines, touching noses and blatant threats. Nervous glances were exchanged undetected, secret plans made with eyes and shared thoughts. To protect the illicit items on various persons, a bag of this, a vial of that, an ID of someone else.

The cuffs appeared quickly and shockingly, glinting in the moonlight, like hard winter's breath. The officer turned and bent his charge, the catalyst to escape. And two were off.

They churned like ghosts, ignoring the shouts behind them, into the cul-de-sac. Indiscriminately, they lunged at a fence, forever claiming an amusing impression they ran right through it, leaving a Bugs Bunny outline of their bodies behind, when in fact, they'd learn later, they'd knocked it right the fuck down. It may have been three fences, maybe four, until they found themselves in quiet, in a grove of junipers, under cars, hearts thundering and prayers rapidly repeating.

They found each other after a time, planned their long walk to safety. They'd been down this road before. Had, in fact, some hard and fast escape plans for just such events, though they no longer ate grass to mask the scent of booze. So they traveled, cowering at every engine, leery of headlights, diving haphazardly into the shadows at the slightest hint of either.

Home was several neighborhoods away, long past the hour when help could be summoned in the desperate tap on a buddy's window. The two laughed nervously at their plight, charted the course and stepped cautiously among the dark.

The high school quad seemed like safety. They'd made it that far with minimal trouble. Home free. A bit of a hike, but the adrenaline and danger was like a wind at their back. They eased onto the bench, site of so many memories, and began to smoke, illicitly, talking about the evening, their good fortune, what became of the others, especially the Cuffed Guy. They didn't know.

Until his Mom called in the morning. Then everybody knew. Everything.


In a $100 SnG that I recently played, the following hand occurred: At Level 3, 25/50, I open-raised 4x in MP with AhQh. The button and BB called. I bet half the pot on a Qs 8h 2h flop and the button called. I bet the pot on the 3c turn and the button called. I pushed all-in on the 9c river and the button called, showing 9d2c and busting me in 8th.

Besides being set on a Tilt Machine of epic proportions, the beat sent me into a deep philosophical fugue. It produced a question, one to which I needed to find the answer.

How can people be so stupid?

Well people, I'm happy to note, and to share with you, the reasons why Fish exist. And why they will continue to exist.

Behold Scientific Evidence: Unskilled and Unaware: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments

People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it.

That's rich.

I used to spend a lot of time on baseball message boards, before I got bogged down with the illogical nature of it all. Once, when arguing with a particularly deficient individual (and yes, I recognize arguing on a baseball message board doesn't exactly paint me in any kind of Aristotlian light), I said, "One of the biggest problems with stupid people is that they don't know they're stupid."

It seems I have been proven correct. Take that DM1967!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Goofing Off

More non-poker silliness on tap today. I am going to play tonight. I was going to play last night but I got some outstanding news from my good friend Stick and was patiently awaiting his phone call of full disclosure and didn't want to be in the middle of an SnG when he did call, which he didn't. Which is okay, too, because now I'm hopelessly hooked on the implausible but riviting "Prison Break" and I also had some writing to do, which I did.

AJ started this accelerated reading program at pre-school yesterday. When I asked the wife how it went she said. "I think he's in the smartest group." When I asked why she thought that, she replied, "Because the other two kids with him are Asian." After I cleaned up the taco that statement caused me to spit up, she said he got 8 or 10 on his first quiz, while the others both scored perfect. "Well," I said, "AJ's only 3/8th Asian, so, percentage-wise, he's a pretty good overlay."

On the subject of AJ, he (we) won Bill's Hammer Photo Challenge. Thanks to Bill for the effort.

The song I am currenlty most likely to sing aloud on a crowded commuter train is "Seize the Day" by Avenged Sevenfold.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I went 1-3 on my football picks this week. Clearly Week One--when I went 7-1!--was the exception that proves the rule, the rule being that I am a horrific pigskin prognosticator. Remove the spreads, however, and I'm sitting tied for 5th in The Good Doctor's ESPN pool. Surely that too will soon come to an end.

Divisional playoff predictions:

Cards in 3
Braves in 4
BoSox in 3
Angels in 4

I don't wager on baseball. I would if I could wager on something like "Joe Morgan will say something stupid."

Talk about your mortal locks.

Monday, October 03, 2005

This Really Happened

Dear and Patient Wife: I'd like a double Whopper with cheese combo...
Faceless drive-thru voice: I'm sorry, we're out of Whoppers.
Me: Wait, did you just say, Burger King guy, that you're out of Whoppers?
Faceless drive-thru voice: Yes.
Me: Am I being Punk'd?

It was then we saw the sign, hand-written and taped below the speaker box. It said (and this is verbatim, because I wrote it down):

We apologize but we are out of Whoppers. Also chicken sandwiches and chicken tenders and onion rings. We are also out of lettuce, tomato and mayonaise.

Well played, Burger King. Well played.

And You Are...?

Please allow me to re-introduce myself. I am a poker blogger. Not that you'd get any sense of that at all based on the past few weeks of posts. Well, have I got a surprise for you:

I played poker this weekend.

First, I have to point out some recent brilliance amongst my celebrated peers who are apparently living inside of my head, such do their pointed insights hit my mental bulls-eye. It is something I've said before and it continues to be more true with each passing day: I have learned more about this game from blogs and bloggers than from any other source. The honor roll:

ScurvyDog talks about being relenteless. At the tables and in your approach.
HDouble takes us along the path to poker mastery.
Pauly gets all philosophical about improvement--in all walks of life--and plaid skirts and knee socks.
Chad talks about plateaus and fighting bordom on the virtual felt.

It really is uncanny how these things appear right when I need them. While I haven't had a blinding epiphany of any sort, some dark corners have certainly been illuminated.


I've played about 6 hours of poker in the last 3 weeks. I've had no motivation to play, save for the first day back from my vacation (and that didn't go so well). But, with the wife and boy sleeping away on Saturday night, fortified by several malt beverages, I fired up a .50/$1 NL game on Stars. "Hey, ol' buddy!"


You know those hands you get where you've got the other guy in a bad spot only he doesn't know it? Got about 4 of those in the first 20 minutes. AQo v. my 77 with a Q76 flop? Check. Please click the chip tray to re-buy, sir. JJ running into my KK, all undercards on the flop? Check. Turned a straight? Congrats. I turned the flush.

It was Poker Nirvana. Haven't had the deck smack me around like that in a while. I stuck around for a couple hours, my bets suddenly not getting called any longer, until I shut it down up 2 1/2 buy-ins. I can't exactly say it did wonders for my confidence, seeing as there's little difficulty in playing the hands I mentioned, but it was nice to see Mistress Variance swing the other way for a change, if only to remind me that yes, my dominant hands will occasionally win.

And I was ready to play some more, but didn't have the time on Sunday, because I had to return to a different field of play after more than five months of inactivity.

I skipped our summer soccer league this year for several reasons. One, it's fucking hot in Orange County in the summer. Two, since our move, I'm 70 miles from the field, instead of 20. That's a long day. Three, I'm not getting any younger. While I can still play at my age, I'm not wild about walking funny all the way into Wednesday after a Sunday afternoon game.

But, like poker, here's the thing: I missed it. Badly. I missed playing. I missed seeing my friends every week. I missed slide-tackling some douchebags.

So, yesterday, while the result was not as hoped--and unlucky 2-2 draw that we dominated for the final 45--it was awesome to be back out there. And a little surprising that I didn't totally suck. I've only kicked AJ's size 1 soccer ball during the hiatus. I've run nowhere. Hence, I expected both my fitness and touch to be lacking. Happily, it was only the former which was an issue.

Another reason I'm so geeked about it is a position change. I've played holding central midfielder for this team for the last 10 years. But we've picked up a couple guys in my absence who play there, and play there well. Of our midfield corps, probably four of them are better suited for that slot than I at this point (stronger, quicker, better ball control in tight spaces). So I suggested a switch to the left side of midfield. You know, where Macca used to play. Tactically, I have a great feel for that slot. And more space to work. Just a perfect fit and it worked well yesterday. Looking forward to more of it.

So good to be back. On all fronts.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Jovial Ed

There were plenty of girls in 5th grade who had begun to sprout breasts. Rumors of breasts, really, slight bumps you had to strain to see. There was no such mystery with Tanya Olsen, however. All us boys regarded her as something of a freak of nature, well on her way to double Ds. She was, naturally, the object of widespread affection.

She was cute otherwise, if in a quirky way. Stringy, feathered, brown hair with bangs brushing her blue-gray eyes. She was taller than I, my eyes staring directly at her thin, but not uninviting lips. An adorable constellation of freckles splashed across her nose.

I began to court her in the stealthy manner of ten-year-olds, whispered inquiries to her confidants, brief glances across the playground. Scattered replies came by way of the usual channels, taunts from the boys, coquettish asides from the girls, enough to water the seeds of hope. We talked in short bursts, averting our gazes, all shy smiles and vaguely murmured plans. Through the pipe line, I learned one Friday that she wanted to go steady, for me to ask her the question.

"Will you go with me?"

So simple, so nebulous and dorky, but I asked her full of fear. She smiled and put me off.

"Are you going to the rink tonight?"
"I'll tell you then."

I soared. The delay didn't affect me. The skating rink--Roller King--was the center of our social universe. It was a natural place to cement our union, this ritual of kids playing grown-up. The lights were always low, prime real estate to steal a kiss, to seal our timeless romance.

The clock stopped all afternoon. Through dinner, my anticipation held me rapt. I could think of nothing other than the first couple's skate, my hands on her hips, maybe sliding to the small of her back, maybe even lower.

I was leaning against the oddly carpeted walls of the rink when I saw her walk through the door, saw her regally passing through the assembled masses, slow-motion and perfectly lit. This will be a night I remember forever. I went to her straight-away, grinning too wide, unable to temper my expectations. I will argue to this day that, at that precise moment, nothing was amiss. All was progressing perfectly as planned. My gooey daydreams on the precipice of reality.

Until she saw Woody.


Eric Woods was a friend of mine from another school. We'd been soccer teammates for two years and he was our unquestioned leader. Bigger than most, platinum blonde hair topping his bronzed frame, he was the quintessential California Boy. His family was wealthy, his parents attractive, their genes infused into his raw-boned athleticism. He was insanely popular, of course, but not arrogant. Like many kids with all the breaks, he exuded confidence, but needed more attention. His looks set him apart, raised him up. He had to occasionally be assured of his standing.

Tanya fell for Woody at first sight. He and I were talking when she came up. I was so enraptured with her standing there, I didn't notice the looks. I didn't notice her body language. I figured she was there for me. Why wouldn't she be?

Clues kept dropping on me as the night wore on. When it came time for the slow dance, I couldn't locate her. I found her orbiting Woody more than once. Still, I refused to believe it. I ignored the gnawing, distant but certain, and plunged ahead. Until the lights came on. As we gathered our shoes, I sought her out. I stood over her as she stared at the ground, apparently finding the burnt orange carpet the most interesting thing in history. She never looked up when she delivered the blow.

"I like your friend, Eric."


I held my water on the ride home. My father dropped off my friends, not seeming to notice my silence, oblivious to the cannonball in my chest. Its weight was drowning me, making it difficult to breathe, to conceive of how I could face another minute so absorbed was I in this rejection.

The tears came as soon as we walked through our front door, burst forth like a tsunami, both dangerous and unrelenting.

"What happened?" my Dad said.

I blubbered the whole story, hitting every sour note, as he looked on impassively. When I reached the tragic conclusion, he put his hand on my head and said,

"Women are like buses, son. If you miss one, another comes along shortly."

I stared at him with barely disguised fury. "What kind of fucking reply is that?" But he didn't see it. He turned and strode down the hall, muttering a "Goodnight."


My Dad and I have had a checkered relationship. Less the anger I felt that night than a certain ambivalence. From both of us, because I am, after all, my father's son. Everybody likes my Dad. My friends always called him "Jovial Ed." He is immensely likable, works hard to be such.

It's easy to be happy and likable when you don't attach significance to events. When you refrain from delving deeply into yourself, into issues which affect those around you. As in the tale above, my Dad was always available for a quick quip, a one-off, but never for actual guidance. Never for in-depth appraisal. It's not him.

It took me most of my life to come to grips with that fact. Took me decades to forgive this flaw--correction: what I PERCEIVED to be a flaw. As children, boys rely on their fathers to teach them how to be men, for mothers to teach them how to love, to nurture. Though I never suffered from an absent father, not in the physical sense, I felt like I missed a lot of important lessons, arrows I would later need in my quiver as I navigated adulthood. I blamed him for the hard manner in which I learned to grow up, making mistakes I felt could have been avoided with more training.

The distance between my father and I has closed. I recognize my role in the gulf that separated us. It is, in fact, the very trait I always despised in him that I began to see in myself. It's almost a kind of sleep-walking, being preoccupied with so many issues--or even something as mundane as a baseball game or a magazine article or an online poker tournament--that you're numbed to the events and people around you, their needs, their need of YOU. To help, to make an effort, to push yourself off your escapism, to be intuitive. And most of all, to listen. To hear not just the words but the meaning, not just the story but the sub-text.

You appreciate your parents more when you become one yourself. I have fond memories of my Dad, who never refused a request to hit me some flies and grounders. He was always in the stands at my games. I'll never forget sprinting off the field after scoring a goal in the State Cup Final, jumping into his arms and having him lift me into the sky, pride pouring from his face. I'm happy to elevate those times, instead of the ones where I found him lacking. I've stopped looking to see if he's acquired those traits I so desired in him, accepted the fact they'll never appear. Nor do I find fault in that any longer. People will disappoint you if you expect them to be perfect. They'll reward you if you embrace the things about them which you love.

At long last, I've found much to love in my father. The best of which is the love AJ has for his grandad. It's in his eyes. In his smile. In his quiet sobbing at leaving grandpa's house a couple weeks back. Now, as a man myself, THAT is all I ever need from my father, to add to my son's life.

Which is far more than I would have ever gotten out of Tanya Olsen.