Monday, January 25, 2010

Seven Deadly Sins

I've been living in full-scale Soccer Dad Mode recently. AJ is simultaneously involved in basketball and baseball right now, on the heels of a short break following soccer season. We're talking about five games/practices a week and coupled with the morning and evening trips to school, the two of us spend a lot of time in the car together.

These short drives serve as a forum for wide-ranging discussions, information from the playground, his mom's house (where he spent all of Sunday in his pajamas playing video games. When I suggested this was perhaps a waste of a good day, he replied that his teen-age step-brother did it too, so it must be okay) and whatever is on his mind.

What was on his mind last night was a new video game he was playing when I came to pick him up. "You have to commit seven deadly sins in a fortnight," he said. As I searched for a reply, he added, "What's a fortnight?"

That was not the last of the questions.

"What's gluttony?"
"That's when you have too much of something."
"What's envy?"
"That's when you desire something that someone else has."
"Oh, I thought that was lust."

Cue Jon Stewart "Wha wha wha what?" Face.

"No honey, lust is when you desire the someone, not the something."
"Let's go back to envy."


Envy is a difficult thing to explain to an 8-year-old. Of course they want the video game their friend has, or the bed that looks like a race car. "It's okay to want things for yourself," I said. "We can call them goals and to reach them, you have to work hard."

Coincidentally, this is an ethos that he has recently begun to understand. We're in a new Little League district, owing to the move, and he wasn't even sure he wanted to play this year. I refrained from talking him into it, but I did want to know the reasons why not. There were a couple. He didn't want it to interfere with basketball, which he loves. And he didn't have a good time playing baseball last year, called it "boring" because the coach always made him play in the outfield.

I assured him the former wouldn't be a problem. The latter, more difficult. I couldn't tell him that his coach last year was an asshole and that he was far from the only kid who didn't enjoy the season. Instead, I asked him what he thought would make baseball more fun for him.

He wants to pitch. And he wants to win.

Well shit. I've got a Daddy Speech for that.


What I had to do was make the connection for him between success and desire. If he wants to pitch, he has to earn it. He has to practice, take instruction and apply it. In short, make a commitment to this goal. You don't achieve anything by wishing it so. And that goes for everything.

I often rail against the Self Esteem Movement. We're all worthwhile, blah, blah, blah, and we are therefore all equally entitled to praise and worship. Bullshit. Praise without cause does not give kids self-esteem. It gives them license to skate. It ingrains the knowledge that no matter how lowly one performs, he will be passed through because, god forbid, we demand excellence from anyone. Self-esteem comes from within, from effort, from knowing you've done all you can. I'm not about to sugar-coat AJ's deficiencies and I'm sure as hell not going to defend him to teachers/coaches/psychiatrists if he runs afoul of what is expected of him.

I told him, "You want it. Go get it." So he did. And hit the fan.


I'm not sure there's anything better in life than having your son say, "Daddy, can I pitch some to you?" I mean, that's what I'm on the Earth for. I squatted down on the front lawn and chased his errant throws. I gave him a few tips and he started throwing it over the plate. thinking I needed to simulate game action, I went into the garage and brought out a standing fan, about the perfect height for an 8-year-old, and put it in the right-hand batter's box.

Perhaps I shouldn't have gotten so confident so soon. Damn hubris.

He hit it twice, turning it from a working fan into a prop we now use for pitching practice. Still, he threw it pretty well. Not well enough to pitch for the Rookie Diamondbacks just yet, I don't think, but well enough to keep working on it.

"I pitched pretty good, huh Daddy?" he asked.
"You did son, but you'll do even better after more practice."
"I know, but I was good."

I suppose we'll get around to talking about Pride soon enough.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

AQ = Nuts

"Don't use up all your run good."


Normally, I define "run good" as "not getting horribly sucked out upon," since I like to think I get my money in ahead most of the time. That was the case for the most part last night in my 4th place finish in the $28K Guarantee, but I certainly benefited from one Luckbox Moment.

We were about three hours in and my stack was dwindling, trying my vaunted patience. There was a raise and a call in front of me, the former by a huge stack, the latter by a Swede who'd been playing a ton of pots. I had AQ on the button and went ahead and shoved, trying to take it. I was more worried about the raiser than the caller.

I was wrong. The Swede flat called with Aces ("fucking Swedes"). I was already on my way to bed on the ten-high flop, but the King turn and Jack river had other ideas. Suddenly, I had a top 20 stack and new life.

(You know, I did this similar thing in a similar situation late in the WPBT Winter Classic. I raised with AQ, Al flat-called and F-Train popped it. As I did last night, I read Al's flat call as weakness (and F-Train? Well, he and I have been in this spot before. I figured him for a medium pair and I'm willing to race at that point, with that structure) and pushed, somehow getting Al to fold AK. F-Train had AQ and we chopped it up as Al walked away in disgust, but rest assured, we gleefully let him know a king flopped. Clearly, these are bad plays by me, but Hey! they worked out. Results-based analysis rules.)

Anyways, long story short, I played out of my head after that, but fell short. I did a good job picking my spots at the final table, ritually abusing the guy on my right and winning a good pit with Q9s after a re-raise (the hand that spawned the quote at the top of this post). Considering my good fortune, I could scarcely be upset when, down to four, my AK was out-flopped by AQ (oh irony, you sonofabitch), even though that pot gives me the chip lead by 400K or so with three left AND those jackholes chopped three ways after my subsequent elimination for $4K apiece with an extra grand to the winner.

I'm over it. Really.

So that was good practice for Commerce tomorrow, though I don't think an opponent who re-raises me pre-flop will check on every subsequent street (as in the Q9s hand). No, that's not really how they do it at Commerce. The paycheck pumped up my bankroll nicely, even if I promised Emet I'd donate half the winnings to the Major Appliance Fund, and my ROI for 2010 is 525%.

Ship. That.

I'll be certain to Twitter the tourney tomorrow for those of you who can't get enough of chip counts. Let's hope some of that run good remains.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I've Been Busy

So, uh, hey...what's goin' on? I've been meaning to call, but crazy busy here, you know. It's not like I don't value our relationship or anything like that. You know I'm always here for you. It's just there's this imaginary totem pole in my mind, a hierarchy of importance, if you will, and right now it is completely obscured like a polar bear (this is a bad analogy I realize now as it wasn't three weeks ago when the tour bus driver at the San Diego Zoo explained that polar bear fur is not actually white, but black and the individual hairs are hollow, like straws; the more you know) in a blizzard by the flurry of thoughts and tasks and thoughts about tasks that I have to undertake in the next couple weeks.

Yes, moving day is nigh. A homeowner again. That simultaneously proud and anxious step forward for real-life grown-ups. My attendant To Do List shames "War and Peace." Tolstoy'd be all like, "WTF?"

I'm not so good at To Do Lists. Procrastination is part of it. And when mentally itemizing all this crap, it seems like they will take forever, which adds to the distaste of it all--and the insomnia--but eventually, like flush draws against my top set, I get there. Just this week, Emet and I did the home inspection, contracted a painter, picked hues, signed assloads of papers, wired a substantial amount of money into the ether, hired a mover, transferred accounts, played golf and got trashed on a Wednesday night at a local sushi joint.

$1 Asasis. FTMFW.

Emet scored us a great deal on DirecTV. She spent an hour on the phone with them, because of the convoluted nature of our separate accounts (we both had the satellite service, but when she moved in, because of a deal, we used hers and got rid of mine, but now she can't transfer hers because of the last deal and I don't qualify as a "new customer" because of my past service, but we found a way around that), and, by the time she was done, I think they're paying us.

All that's really left is to pack.


Oh, but it's not all bubble wrap and packing tape. I'm gonna play Event #1 of the LAPC next Friday at Commerce. It's a $1 Million Guarantee with four--FOUR!--Day 1s. Friday is the third of the four and should be a big field, since those who bust on earlier days can buy in again. My goal is to last until F-Train gets there so we can have a drink after I bust and play Indian Poker at a 4/8 table.

I wouldn't say the structure or the typical (and necessary, in this format) Commerce style of play suits my game very well, but patience and looking for the best spots early is what I do, so I'll continue to do it. Since I've been running reasonably well lately (a fact I'll attribute to playing less, focusing more), I'll take the shot. Sometimes, I need to play outside of my bankroll to feel energized. That's probably a leak, that desire for extra adrenaline. I'm alright with it. In periodic doses.

Along that same line of thinking, I'm definitely also playing a WSOP event this year (long as the bankroll doesn't take a freefall). At least one. Lining it up so I'm in Vegas for the US-England World Cup game (that's June 12th at 11:30 a.m. local time my poker scribe friends; be sure to get that day off) for some Hot Sportsbook Hooligan Action. There are several of the cheap-ass Donkaments in that date range, so I'll find one.

In fact, I've been planning a whole year of vacations and it's only January. To go with Vegas, there's spring training, The Summit, beach camping and possibly a trip out of country. Going to see Kings-Oilers in a couple weeks for Wayne Simmonds (My Main Main) Bobblehead night. Love that homebuyers credit. Thanks Obama.


AJ's good. Thanks for askin'. He has his first basketball game tomorrow and he's beside himself with excitement. In fact, his favorite part about the new house is not the pool or his playroom, but the hoop cemented next to the driveway. If his practices are any indication, the will be hilarious. He can't stop running around. He's a one-man full-court press. If he were seven years older, the cops would haul him away figuring he had to be on something.

For some reason, I don't think that energy is going to apply itself to packing.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Free Stuff

Online Poker

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