1. The mountains are green, rather than brown.
I heard this story today on "Weekend Edition Sunday":http://www.npr.org/2013/04/14/177204411/a-poker-players-tells-are-in-the-hands-as-much-as-the-face
The audio and transcript will be posted later today.
The first thing I found when logging onto Twitter this morning was Kevmath alerting me that The Mighty Deuce-Four had won a key hand in the WSOP-APAC High Rollers tournament. I quickly looked up the live updates (here) and found this:
When I woke up too early this morning, unable to go back to sleep, jumping into an online poker tournament for the first time since I arrived in North Carolina somehow seemed like a good idea. I found a $5 one on Bovada that had just started.
Though I went out in about the middle of the field, I was dealt the Mighty Deuce-Four three times, and won all three hands. I consider this a sign from the poker gods, welcoming me back to the game.
Seems strange that it was just a few hours less than one week ago that I wrote that last post. I spent four days on the road, arriving in Asheville late Monday afternoon. Cardgrrl was at my apartment (she had picked up the keys from the landlord in case I arrived in town after hours) with roses and a chocolate cake to welcome me. I'm starting to think that maybe she likes me.
The last three days have been a whirlwind of buying stuff, unpacking boxes, getting deliveries, assembling, cleaning. Everything is new and in need of figuring out--how the microwave works, how the dishwasher works, how to distribute dishes and food in the cupboards, how long the washer and dryer run, which bank to choose, where to get good pizza, how to navigate to the Walmart, how the trash and recycling work, how to get new email working, and on and on and on. But it's all getting done, one thing at a time, and my work station is now set up sufficiently that I can resume gainful work tomorrow, which is exactly the day I had planned on when tentatively setting up a moving schedule a month ago--so yay me.
Weather here is mild for February compared to everyplace else I've ever lived except Las Vegas.
Strangely, I have not yet woken up confused or mistaken about where I am. Maybe I've been planning this long enough that it's not a shock to my brain. On the other hand, I see my friends tweeting about a poker game at this or that casino, and have an impulse to go join, until I remember that I'm not there anymore.
Cardgrrl and I spent hours assembling a new desk. I needed to finish it today. It was in the first bedroom, which I had planned to use as an office. But it was a bright, sunny day, and the light was so nice through the windows of my south-facing living room that I changed plans. I am going to try making the living room my work space just for the nice light and view. Which leaves me with a bedroom without assigned purpose for now. I'll probably put my books in there when I get some shelves, and likely use the space to work on my bike when it needs repair/maintenance. Will need to mull over what to do with it.
Tons of work to catch up on, so probably no poker trips for a couple of weeks anyway.
Everything has been shipped or packed into my car, except the two items (suitcase and computer case) that I'll be living out of until I get settled in my Asheville apartment. I expect to turn in my keys and hit the road in about two hours, arriving at my new home sometime Monday--which, by happy coincidence, will be the fourth anniversary of the day I first met Cardgrrl, in the poker room at Harrah's. (I think if you go back and reread the post I wrote about that first meeting, you'll see that I liked her right off the bat.) My goal is to have a home office setup sufficient to allow me to resume work by Friday, a week from today.
Cardgrrl's house, meanwhile, is showing real progress. The foundation is nearly finished, despite lousy weather for construction through most of January. Three or four more months, and it will be ready for her. Then we'll both be settled in our new places, and poised to see what we can make of our lives in North Carolina. (We're not quite ready to actually share the same zip code--that would be too scary--but we will move to the next level of relationship, which is adjacent zip codes.) You can, as always, follow both her house progress and her photographic adventures in her blog, "Something Beautiful."
I am equal parts sad, nervous, and excited about this transition. This past 6 1/2 years has been fun and challenging, and I've learned a lot about myself and the world. I've grown in important, interesting, and unexpected ways. It's time to see if Asheville can reshape me as profoundly as Las Vegas has.
I am immensely grateful that so many people have found my meandering thoughts worth reading. Your enthusiastic reception has made the hours of writing and rewriting a rewarding pursuit. I cannot sufficiently thank you for your support.
I'm sure I'll pipe up here once in a while with a thought, rant, story, or joke. Plus, I expect that occasional trips back to the Land of Many Poker Rooms are inevitable, and you'll read all about them right here.
But for now, take good care of yourselves, play good poker, and don't be grumpy. That's my job.
A couple of other bloggers have kindly spent a good chunk of a post on my impending departure from Las Vegas in their blogs. If that interests you, check out these links:
Thanks for the attention and kind words, guys.
My friend Rob did a blog post the other day that was ostensibly about an over-the-top wild woman at the table. But along the way, he said this:
I was paying more attention to Natalee’s comments and her outrageous behavior than the poker, but I was following enough about the poker to quickly figure out how to play in this situation. With Natalee being so loose-aggressive and so many players going on tilt because of her presence—playing even crazier and more aggressive than they ordinarily would—I knew that the only way to play was to be extremely tight. I’m a tight player anyway, but now I became uber-tight. I wasn’t going to play any speculative hands, any borderline hands. No, I was going to wait for a true premium hand to play. That’s the only way to play at a table full of maniacs and that’s what this table was.This is a common reaction, but it's wrong in terms of maximizing profit. I submitted a comment to that effect. I first appealed to authority. In one of the very first blog posts I ever wrote (November 6, 2006), I said this:
Q-10 offsuit is a hand I would ordinarily either toss or try to play very cheaply, with a high willingness to throw it away unless I get a lot of help from the community cards, or a good bluffing situation arises. And against a loose-aggressive player, my usual reaction has been to re-tighten my already fairly tight game. Recently, however, I've read two things that are making me re-think that strategy. I include them here for the possible benefit of readers, though I didn't want to interrupt the story above.
First, I finished Barry Greenstein's superb book, "Ace on the River." On p. 204, he has a table of "opponent's tactics," the "typical incorrect adjustment" that we mediocre players make, and the "Better adjustment" that he recommends. The first entry in the table is "Extremely loose play." The incorrect adjustment is listed as "Wait for a good hand." The better reaction is given as "Loosen your standards and reraise frequently." Seems like cogent advice, though it takes more nerve than I've usually been willing to bring to bear. I'm trying to change that, a little at a time.
Second, just a few days after reading that, I read a column in Card Player magazine by Matt Lessinger, who I think is one of their best writers. He wrote,Overaggressive Ozzie sits down in the same game, and in six of his first 10 hands, he raises to $20 preflop. Five times, he wins the blinds uncontested. One time, someone calls him and the hand goes to the river, at which point Ozzie produces Q-8 and wins with a pair of eights. I don't have to be Phil Ivey to put two and two together, and conclude that he probably did not have premium hands when he made his other raises. Therefore, I'm going to wait for something good and try to pick him off.
You can read the rest of my comment in the comments section of Rob's blog post, linked above.But am I going to wait for pocket aces or kings? I could, but why would I want to play so timidly? In a cash game, I want to take advantage of all favorable opportunities that come along. Here, I have an opponent who is making oversized preflop raises with substandard values. If I pick up a hand such as 9-9, or even A-J, and think I can get heads up with Ozzie, I'm probably going to play it, because it figures to be the best hand against his typical raising values. And I'm certainly not going to be deterred by the fact that he is raising to $20 rather than a more normal raise to $6 or $8.
Here's the Reader's Digest version: You want to expand your starting hand range enough that your profits go up by winning more pots, but not so much that your average starting hand range is the same as theirs. As long as you're reasonably judicious about it, the increased frequency of wins will more than compensate for the smaller profit per hand. Against a bunch of people who are playing any two cards, you can expand your range quite a bit and still on average have the strongest starting hand, which translates into the highest probability of winning the pot, assuming that you don't play worse than they do post-flop.
Again I stress that this is not the kind of question on which reasonable people can have opposite but equally valid opinions, like whether strawberries are better than raspberries. The math (the real math, not just the back-of-the-envelope version I'm doing here) clearly favors widening your starting hand range. It does necessarily bring higher variance, but if the question is just long-term average profits, there's no serious question about the direction of the correct adjustment. Unlike most poker questions, here there is a factually, objectively right answer: Loosening up is more profitable, tightening up is less profitable. Those who disagree are simply wrong.When I woke up this morning, I was thinking about this some more, and wondered if I could make the math a level or two more rigorous than I did in that comment, without spending all day on it. (I have an apartment full of stuff to pack up, you know, and I'm planning to leave in less than a week.) I thought of a way to use PokerStove to do it.
Today was the opening of the poker room at "The Quad," which is the new name for the remodeled Imperial Palace. The new room is near the elevators that you pass between the parking garage and the casino, also near the escalator that goes up to Hash House. It has huge traffic going by, but of course that also means that there is a lot of noise and cigarette smoke. Stupidly, all the signs still point visitors to the location of the temporary room upstairs, where there is just empty space.
Because the apartment in North Carolina is leased to me starting at midnight (even though I won't physically be there for a while yet), I've spent the last hour or so changing my mailing address and telephone number (yes, I already have a North Carolina phone number) for all of my financial institutions, including the various online poker sites. The last one I was trying to do was PokerStars. I entered the new information in the form, and was quite surprised to get the following message:
I was at the Silverton briefly today and noticed that the new Cantor-operated poker room appears to be on the verge of opening. Sorry for the crappy photo quality; I didn't notice I had blurred the shots until I got home.
Yesterday Kathy Liebert learned the power of the Mighty Deuce-Four the hard way at the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open. I couldn't find a way to link to the specific live-update post, so I took a screen shot:
I'm a day late in thinking of doing this (have had a few other things on my mind...), but won't you join me in wishing my father, Joe, a happy 90th birthday? He was born January 25, 1923.
Yesterday I asked him if 90 felt any different than 89. He said no, then added this observation: "I used to think that when I turned 70, that would be the end of having to do things I didn't want to do. That didn't happen. So then I thought when I turned 80, that would be the end of having to do things I didn't want to do. That didn't happen either. I'm guessing that 90 won't be any different."
There you have it, folks--wisdom from my favorite nonagenarian.
Happy birthday, Dad.
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