7/31/2005

7-31-05 [life] - 1

7-31-05 [life]

The beach is totally over-rated. You get all sandy and salty. The water's freezing cold and dirty and the waves hit you in the face. Here in CA it's usually cold and windy and foggy. It sucks.

Went to LA and hiked to the Bridge to Nowhere (also at localhikes.com ). It's blazing hot up in the mountains, but the stream here is lovely, great swimming holes. A bit too much foot traffic to get naked, but nice boulders to jump into the water from. There's a company that does Bungee jumping from the bridge.

Zephyr in Pasadena is a lovely cafe in an old bungalo-style house (as is common in Pas).

Fuller's London's Pride Pale Ale has a lot of flavor without beeing sickening like many upscale brews; it's similar to Bass or Full Sail, smooth, malty, a bit creamy.

7/30/2005

7-30-05 [video games] - 1

7-30-05 [video games]

The Scratchware Manifesto is another artifact in the saga of tirades against the mainstream game industry. Now, I certainly agree with a lot that these guys have to say, but instead of whining all the time, why don't they just go make a good game? The biggest problem with these attacks on the industry is that the attacks on the industry are pointless. The people making games in the industry are for the most part doing their best to make good games within the realities of the market. You can't rant at them to get more talented. You can't expect them to do things the market & financing won't tolerate. If you want to rant at someone, rant at the consumers who keep buying the derivative crap, but that's not unique to games, consumers keep flocking to the next pop music wonder, the next explosion-fest movie, etc. Part of the problem with this is the continuing cycle of consumers - the young spend the most on new products, and the young have shitty immature taste.

7-30-05 [TV] - 1

7-30-05 [TV]

The PBS series "Guns, Germs & Steel" was mighty disappointing. The title is constantly repeated throughout the show as if this was a Republican brainwash session. The logical arguments are inconsistent and contradictory, and the vignettes don't correspond with the arguments. Jared comes off as a pseudo-scientific quack who reports common scientific knowledge as if he had just discovered it himself in the field. Much better is to read this article by Jared Diamond

7-30-05 [politics] - 1

7-30-05 [politics]

The New York Review of Books is great. The political articles are spot-on. This month I love the article about what a moron Friedman is, and the real problem in Iraq (not terrorism, of course).

7/27/2005

7-27-05 [video games] - 1

7-27-05 [video games]

About the GTA / "Hot Coffee" thing : you knew this topic was so rant-worthy I had to get to it eventually, right? So, to recap, "Hot Coffee" is a mod for San Andreas that you can download . Hot Coffee supposedly unlocks the explicit sexual content that was already in the game, but locked by the developers. Apparently they put it in then had cold feet about the reactions so locked it, maybe hoping that someone would unlock it. Hot Coffee also has a bunch of other cheats. (unrelated, but even more disturbing is the Nude Sims2 patch ).

Now, this has revealed all sorts of insanity in our world. First of all, we are confronted yet at again with the mainstream public's complete lack of knowledge of even the most basic concepts of computers. Many pundits speak of their kids seeing the nudity on the PS2. Yeah, good luck with that. There seems to be a complete lack of understanding of even "programs" and "files". Hell, if you have to download and install Hot Coffee to see the nudity, you could just download porn. Computers + Internet = Porn ; let me tell you something Hillary, if your kids are able to run Hot Coffee, they've probably seen much worse, like videos of ass milk, tub girl, hot carls and so on.

The other insane thing is - this is fucking Grand Theft Auto. This is the game where you are encouraged to have sex with hookers then kill them and take your money back. You're worried about someone being exposed to sexual scenes in Grand Theft Auto? And the ratings board - GTA gets an M ? But add some sex and it's Adult only? Okay, beating up people and running them over and shooting them, that's fine for kids, but a little nudity, that might corrupt them. Silly puritan Americans, making the children all messed up sexually. This sort of parenting leads directly to things like Girls Gone Wild - it makes boys that want to watch GGW because the sight of boobies is so taboo, and girls that want to be in GGW.

7/26/2005

7-26-05 [politics] - 1

7-26-05 [politics]

There's a lot of nonsense talk about the supreme court vacancies and Roe v. Wade. That's a trivial distraction, a hot-button that's used to stir up quacks; it has a pretty small affect on the world (even if it was overturned, it wouldn't really affect abortion that much). There are several issues that are bigger. One is the power of the federal government and the Commerce Clause. Some conservatives want to take away the government's ability to regulate many of the things that government is in; this could destroy the EPA, the endangered species protections, pollution controls, the USDA, etc. basically making it unconstitutional for government to interfere with business' practices. Another major issue facing the supreme court is checking the executive's and the congress' unconstitutional power grabs of late. Some examples - congress cutting funding to enforce judicial rulings, the execute refusing to provide information to congress as required by law, the executive jailing and trying people outside of the rule of law, etc.

If you stop and think for a second that the supreme court is one of the highest positions in the land, it should have the best & brightest people in the US, and then look at the justices we have - Souter? Thomas? Scalia? are these really the best constitutional legal minds out there? The most admirable people?

7-26-05 [poker] - 5

7-26-05 [poker]

Played another 2-table tourney and made 3rd place. Mostly played great until the very last hand, where I read the chip leader for a weak hand and bluffed off all my chips at him (he had top pair). All night he had been leading out with his good hands and checking his weak hands; this time he pulled the string on me (or "walked the dog" if you prefer) and check-called down my chips. Well done sir, good change of gears.

One week of tournaments, playing a few hours a day, and I've made a lot of places in the money, but no 1st places, with lots of bad beats knocking me out on the bubble. Up $150 for the week. I'd be making a lot more playing cash games, limit games in particular, but I'm enjoying the tourneys because I feel like I've really had an epiphany and my tournament play has improved greatly.

Last tourney I had a sweet read on this guy "stanaseck" and never got to use it. Any time he was in the blinds and the board came low, he would bet pot-size if he had nothing, and check if he had something. Basically he was representing hitting some low junk from the blinds when other people who limped presumably had nothing. I watched him take down pots like this many times, and never got the chance to use it against him.

Almost everyone in these games has the wrong idea of what hands are good all-in hands, what hands are good raising hands, and what hands are good calling hands. Unfortunately, I almost never get to take advantage of it.

One thing I've been mulling in the back of my head is this : when I'm making late position raises, I'm raising with both good hands and mediocre hands. With mediocre hands, I really want folds. With very good hands, I'd really like them to play back at me. At the moment I'm basically making the same raise with all hands. Ideally, if I could, I'd like to bet in a way that encourages them to fold when I have weak hands, and play back when I have my best hands. The question is how exactly. One option might be to over-raise with the better hands that I want to get all-in with. Some bad players see an over-raise and think it's suspicious and decide to play back at it. Good players will see the over-raise as just over-committing and rightly fold all but their best hands. Sometimes under-raising with the best hands will make people think you're weak and they'll come over the top, but that also might temp them to just call, which is okay but it's a loss of value. Think for a second about what tempts you to come over the top and let me know.

Sometimes I start to think I have a weakness, which would be that I can be moved off a pot if someone puts me all-in, or bets most of my chips at me. Then I remember the principles of poker. Yes, I can be moved off those pots, but the guy is risking a lot of value to get that pot, and if I just have the hand to call once out of every few times, I get the most value in the end. The problem with this is that in tourneys with fast structures, you don't always get the time to pay back that balance. Especially in tourneys where people get moved around, you may not spend a lot of time together to learn that someone likes to move in without much. What that means is that a move in can be very effective early before people pick it up. By the time they recognize the pattern, it may be too late.

7-26-05 [poker] - 4

7-26-05 [poker]

One of the things that makes tournaments tricky is balancing your bet size against competing constraints. Basically on the low end, you need to bet enough so that you force worse hands to fold. On the high end, you don't want to bet so much that you get pot-stuck, eg. so you can fold if he comes over the top. In a cash game or any game where your stack is high compared to the blinds (early in tournaments), this isn't an issue, you can just size you bet based on the pot size (and that's hard enough to do right).

For example, consider a tournament with 100/200 blinds. You're on a good stack of around 6000. You open late for a raise of 500. The BB calls. The pot is now 1100 and your stack is 5500. The flop comes with you having top pair and draws possible. The BB checks. You need to bet to make draws wrong, but if you bet pot size, it's a huge piece of your stack. If he comes over the top, you're almost pot-stuck since he could make that move with just a draw. Because of this, late in tourneys, you have to bet less than you'd like, which makes draws a bit cheaper, which makes the outcome more random.

7-26-05 [poker] - 3

7-26-05 [poker]

PokerTips.org strategy pages are pretty good. Most of their stuff is pretty pedantic, but it's worth looking over. His analysis of various tournament structures is pretty good.

7-26-05 [poker] - 2

7-26-05 [poker]

Played a 3-table $30 tournament. I like these things the best because the blind structure is much slower than the single tables, and there's good money to win, but it's not as time consuming and hard to win as the big tourneys. I'm playing in the middle of the day, which is really a bad idea for profit, and there are lots of obvious pros in the game. One guy named "dkeller" is really good. I made 5th place for $90 ; I was knocked out in the end on a short stack when I went all-in with 22 (I had only 2X the BB which had gotten huge).

I spent most of the end of the tourney playing really weak, which I hate. The problem was the top 5 places paid, and I had around the 5th biggest stack. There were 3-4 other stacks, all very short. So, I couldn't really take any risks, if I just fold the short stacks go out, and I get into the money, then I can play. The problem was the short stacks kept not going out. For several rounds there were 3 short stacks with less than the big blind, but they kept doubling up and then bleeding down again, while in the mean time my chips were bleeding because the big stacks would attack my blinds, and I couldn't tangle with them because I needed to wait for the short stacks to go out. I never got a good hand in that time either that I would be willing to risk against a big stack or call a short stack to take them out. Eventually my strategy paid off and the short stacks were knocked out, but by that time I was down to a pretty short stack myself, just 2X the BB, and I had to risk my life with the 22.

There was one deciding hand for me that I don't like my play in. I was the big stack and tangled with the 2nd biggest stack. The BB was 400 ; he made the minimum raise from UTG to 800 on a pretty full table. Folds around to me in the BB. I had Q7s. I call the minimum raise, so the pot is now 1800. The board comes JT9 , so I have a straight draw. Now, what is he minimum raising with? I figure it's quite likely he hit a jack or ten, so I don't want to semi-bluff here. He might have two overs, or he might have a PP under the board, in which case he would fold. I check. He bets 700, which is less than half the pot. The small bet is a little suspicious. I decide to call. The turn is a 7. Now I have 7's with the straight draw. Assuming I'm against AJ or something like that, I'm about 30% to win. I check, he goes all-in. I fold. I'm not quite sure what I might have done differently here, maybe I should have raised him all-in on the flop after he bet, but maybe not. Anyway, it was a lot of my stack, 1500 chips from a 6000 chip stack, and put me on the defensive for the rest of the game.

7-26-05 [poker] - 1

7-26-05 [poker]

I just realized that one of the moves I made yesterday was a mistake. It was another of the moves when I was on a big stack playing against a short stack. It's very similar to the one I described yesterday. I had 35s and made it 3X the BB. Now, I will often open with hands like 35s from the cutoff or the button. 35 sounds like a bad hand, but I get value in a lot of ways - 1) I'm always raising when I open from late position, so by playing some hands like 35, it disguises my good hands (this is sort of the opposite of Negreanu, who always limps to disguise his good hands, more on this later). 2) I have a good chance of stealing the blinds, since most players adjust very poorly to my constant stealing, 3) it sets me up to steal the flop if high cards come (or at least get a free card if I have a draw) 4) it disguises my holding so if I flop something good for the 35s, it can often get paid big. For me personally, it's also good because it gives me a rule to fold absolute junk, like 52, I only play actual good hands or hands that can flop something good, like suited connectors. Note that one-gap connectors are just as good as no-gaps, but two-gappers are worse and three-gappers are crap. Now, when you open-raise with 35s, you really want a fold, but a call is okay so you can see a flop. You really don't want to face a reraise. That's where I went wrong. Just like yesterday's case, I made it 300 to a 100 blind, and the big blind went all-in for 400 more. I have to call with almost any two cards here. The mistake is that making such a raise into the big blind, he's on such a short stack that he's got to go all-in with almost anything decent. In that case, I should be playing holes that I want to run all-in against him, things like KT, A8. It's still correct to play big-stack aggression against him, just on a different set of holes. If it was another big stack in the big blind, I would play the 35s, and I would hate hands like KT. Against another big stack, he's not going to go all-in preflop, he'll probably just call the raise, so I want to be playing flop-seeing hands (like 35s), not all-in-racing hands (like KT). The small stack that went all-in had AT, which is a mere 60/40 favorite against 35s, and an obvious call for me.

The promised followup on Negreanu's style - Daniel likes to limp with lots of hands, good and bad, to see cheap flops. I love this style, because it means you don't commit a lot of your stack until you see a flop and can really know where you're at (Hold'em is all about the flop). The reason I don't play this style in PartyPoker tournaments is that 1) people don't defend the blinds enough, so you just get so much value from steals you have to be raising, and 2) people play so badly preflop that you need to get chips in to take advantage. For example, people will call raises with hands like A5 and JT. Even though I'm raising with a lot of hands, calling with weak aces in full tables is just a ridiculous mistake - you can only win a small pot or lose a big pot. A suprising lot of people will call with hands like J5s.

7-26-05 [entertainment] - 1

7-26-05 [entertainment]

So, I want to know why sheets get that smell when left in a drawer for a while. It's not picking up the smell of the wood, it's almost like a musty smell, all sheets get it, and very quickly. Maybe it's some kind of mold?

Anyhoo, the word is that a "dryer sheet" (like Bounce) is a great anti-funny-sheet smell agent. Just put it in the drawer with the sheets. Personally I hate all household perfumes and scents, so if I can use an unscented hypoallergenic dryer sheet for this, that would be dandy. Testimonials, for example, at snopes .

While browsing I found this awesome site on how to maintain your home to keep away old-person smell . Lots of funny bits here such as - "Remember, just because you're not active every day doesn't mean you don't need to shower".

7-26-05 [cycling] - 1

7-26-05 [cycling]

I went cycling this morning and got completely humiliated. I thought I was riding along pretty well, when this guy comes up behind me. He's only going a little faster than me, so I kick it in and lead him for a while. He hangs in my slipstream for about half a mile, then says "I'll take my turn in front" and comes on by me and proceeds to put down the hammer. I try to stay with him, and am doing ok until the road takes a tilt upward, and he keeps speed and I drop off. That's when I notice that he's on a single speed bike. It's a slim elegant old racing bike, with none of that mess of wires and levers and derailleurs to muck it up. I've always thought of single speeds as sort of ridiculous - it's sort of like using DOS instead of Windows because it's "more efficient". Umm, yeah, hey caveman, get with the fucking times, we have better technology now. Single speeds are okay as long as the road is reasonably flat, but on a hill you get killed, and on a downhill or long true flat you can't get up to speed. On the other hand, this guy destroyed me, pedalling at a very fast cadence while I slowly turned my big gear.

Two sports tips. For those who are totally incompetent at sports, like I am.

1) On bicycle sprinting : when sprinting on a road bicycle, you want to be down in the drops, but remember that you are actually pulling yourself down into your bicycle, not holding yourself up; you should be almost lifting the front wheel off the ground. The key to fast bicycle sprinting is the up-turn portion of the pedal cycle; beginners try to just push down fast as each foot comes through the falling portion of the cycle. The key is to pull fast through the whole cycle, and the hardest part of that is the up-turns; each leg should be pulling as fast as possible up through that part of the cycle and down the front.

2) on basketball shooting : remember that accuracy is in the fingers. Of course most of the propulsion of the projectile (the ball) comes from your legs, shoulder and elbow, big muscled flexing. The problem is those muscles will never be very accurate, and they don't need to be. The fingers provide last second corrections that make up for errors in the big muscles. You can't do this consciously, it has to be learned as a muscle reflex, but you can make sure you set yourself up to learn it by making sure that you do use some finger push in the shot; that way the fingers have a chance to apply more or less power to correct the arm.

7/25/2005

7-25-05 [politics] - 1

7-25-05 [politics]

The Gaza withdrawal smacks of "Escape from LA" ; Gaza has become so uncontrollable and filled with crime than the Israelis just evacuate all their people and seal it up. Inside, an Israeli Arab is wrongly sealed in (with an eye patch).

I find the recent London & Egyptian bombings terrifying. Much more so than 9/11. To me, 9/11 was sort of surreal, too extreme - unlikely to happen again. I've always thought all the increases in air security were foolish, obviously just for show to make people feel better, not any real help to our overall security. It's unlikely that attackers would use that same approach again. Furthermore, attacks like 9/11 are inherently easy to detect and thwart, because they require lots of preparation and communication which we can easily catch (as we had caught warning before 9/11). On the other hand, small-scale bombings like those in Iraq, London, Egypt - those are very hard to detect because they're localized operations, and they can be done anywhere anytime.

7-25-05 [poker] - 2

7-25-05 [poker]

Is there a situation where you should fold AA preflop? Maybe. Imagine being in a big tourney on a short stack. You're on the bubble. A hand comes up where you get AA on the button. In front of you, people go crazy - someone limps, then there's a raise, then an all-in from a short stack, then an all-in from a medium stack, then an all-in from a big stack, now it's to you. If you play, you're probably the favorite, but may have less than a 50% chance of winning. With that action it also seems likely there could be another AA out there already, so you're drawing to a split. If you fold, you're almost gauranteed to get into the money, because one of those guys has to get knocked out. If you're playing for 1st place, which is the best move at most tourneys, then you probably have to call here, but if you're happy to get into the money (for example if you think your opponents are better than you) then folding is the right move. One case where folding is absolutely clear in this situation is if you're on such a short stack that even if you win, you still have almost zero chance of making any higher position - in that case, by folding you move into the money and just get some free cash.

I'm out of another tourney, with my AQ beat by A7. I was down to a pretty low stack at that point. In these party poker tourneys, the blinds rise so fast that even if your stack is around average, it becomes very small compared to the blinds very fast. I had the big stack briefly in the tournament, but then lost a bunch of races against short stacks. A typical example goes like this :

Raise from the cut-off with 22 to 3x the BB. I hate 22, but basically this is a pure steal, everyone behind me is a pretty short stack. The BB is 100, I made it 300. On the button, a short-stack goes all-in, he has 850 chips. The blinds fold and it's back to me. It's 550 to call, there's 1300 in the pot already, I'm getting more than 2:1. Again, I hate 22, and if it was a bigger raise I'd fold, but here I have to call, most likely I'm in a race getting great odds. He shows AK, a race as expected, and he wins the race. This is exactly the kind of way I want to play a big stack against short stacks - putting pressure on them to fold, and then if I get caught stealing, I don't have to always just fold, I can call when I have a decent hand getting a good price because their stacks are so short.

7-25-05 [poker] - 1

7-25-05 [poker]

I've been playing some live-game poker with a new group here in SLO. Many of them are programmers, and overall the play is much better than the OW group; a few of the guys are on my level. It's been very unprofitable for me so far, but it's fun to play live. I miss the OW game though, we had some fun characters and trash talk going and weekly recurring plot lines (will Mark Lee bluff us out of a big pot again? will Steve have a big blowout? will Dave get pissed off when his kings are cracked?). Anyway, the funny thing about the new game is that even though these guys are smart and good players, they're totally suspicious about the cards. Anyone who's rational/reasonable knows that each card drawn off the deck is random. It doesn't matter if that randomness is set by the shuffle or the deal or whatever. They want you to deal a certain way; if a card is exposed or something in the deal, they want you to keep dealing as if it didn't happen so that the later people get the card they would have gotten had it not happened (supposedly this is what casinos do). You have to burn before the flop, turn & river (burning makes some sense). Personally I like dealing to people randomly, one card here, one here, draw from the deck randomly, shuffle as you go, just to get it out of everyone's head that there's some concept of the deck having fate in it. Dealing like this sort of encourages people to think that certain cards "were coming". Like, gee, I shouldn't have folded my 85, since 555 "was coming" on the flop.

7/24/2005

7-24-05 [poker] - 1

7-24-05 [poker]

I'm knocked out of a tourney again with AA beat by QTs , all in preflop, he makes a flush. Unbelievable! The pain! This after playing for an hour, taking careful notes on all the players and their mistakes. For example, one guy I had identified as chronically overbetting good hands, but hands that can only be beat by callers. For example, he went all-in with 77 when the board was 898, and reraised with A5 on an AKT board. The last tourney was almost as bad. I got knocked out with QQ when the board was 68J , the guy called my all-in with a flush draw and made the flush. To give you an idea how I'm playing these days - with QQ I hardly want to get all-in preflop, I want to see the board come below the Q. I would never get all-in with a flush draw in hardly any situation. I have a hard enough time winning when I'm a 80-90% favorite, I'm not going to get all-in with just a 30-35% shot of staying.

7-24-05 [entertainment] - 2

7-24-05 [entertainment]

Good article in the New Yorker about Larry David and Curb Your Enthusiasm. The original idea for "Seinfeld" sounds great, sort of like what Curb is.

7-24-05 [entertainment] - 1

7-24-05 [entertainment]

There are lots of complicated baseball batting statistics : OBP, Slugging Percentage, various people's fancy formulas. The only one that correctly measures a hitter's value is Average Run Production (ARP). The ARP is a best estimate of the number of runs a hitter contributes by batting, with a baseline of 0 if he was replaced by a brick which struck out every time. To compute ARP you combine various stats. First you count home runs; multiply home run percentage by the average number of runners on base plus one. Next you count the various hits, each one counts differently. Of course ARP is not counting just immediate runs created, but also runs that are set up. So, a double counts in the ARP as a chance of batting in a runner ahead, plus the chance of you turning into a scored run in the future. If you don't get a hit, the at bat might still contribute; obviously a walk contributes to potentially scoring a run, a fly out counts for possibly driving someone in. You can also count the number of pitches you make the pitcher make; each of those contirbutes very slightly to overall run production by tiring the pitcher. (Actually, to compute ARP right, you have to look at whether or not the plate appearance caused an Out and how that affects chance of runs). (There's also things to do for park adjustment ).

Now, there are three interesting ways to compute ARP. The first is the "experimental" way (I need a better word here). It's just (Runs + RBIs)/(Plate Appearances) . This is a useful number, but it's highly affected by the batters ahead of you and behind you; eg. if the guy ahead of you is great at getting on base and the guy behind you is great at knocking in runs, that can give you a very high ARP even though you're not a great player. The second is the purely statistical way. This model is less dependent on the exact team & batting order. The inputs to the equation are the home run percent, triple percent, walks, etc. and the rest of the figures (like chance of scoring a run if you're on second base) come from the league-wide averages. This gives you a more absolute ARP that doesn't change much if a player changes teams, etc. (it doesn't change any more than batting average does). The final way to compute ARP is situational. For example, to see how a player will do on your team, you use the figures for your team. To see how a player might work in each spot in the order, you use the figures for that spot in the order.

In fact, this is a nice way to optimize your batting order. Simply try all permutations of players and chose the one that maximizes the team's total ARP.

7-24-05 - 2

7-24-05

I played strong poker yesterday and made a bunch of places in small tournaments. I think my game was very good, except for one situation that I didn't handle well at all - playing against other big stacks when I had a big stack. In several of these tourneys I worked up to having the big stack or the 2nd stack. That's great, and I play a big stack pretty well against short stacks. Against other big stacks, I mainly try to avoid them - it's just not worth the risk - but you can't act afraid of them or they'll start picking on you. So, when it's their big blind and I have a good stealing hand, I'll still try to make steals against them, if I have a playable hand against them, I have to play against them, etc. The problem is I don't want to get all-in with them, and if they're good players they can pick this up and use it against me. (when the blinds are very small, it is easy to just avoid the other big stacks, but when the blinds pick up, you are forced to play with them).

The following hand came up : I had 88 , and another big stack was in the big blind. It folds to me, and I made it 500 to go (the big blind is 200). Folds to the big blind, who calls. Our stacks are both around 6000, so the blinds are big enough that 88 is a pretty good hand. Early in the tourney I would look at 88 as a hand drawing to a set, but here I have to play 88 pretty strong or I'm giving up too much value. The flop come 55J. That's a pretty good flop for me, since the most likely hand for him to call with is some kind of high cards, though in the Bayesian sense he has only a small skew towards better hands, since he'll call preflop with lots of hands, only folding the very worst hands like 72, etc. He bets out 500. That's a bit less than half the pot. If he has a 5 or J, I'm beat, if he has a higher PP, I'm beat. But, he could also have a lower PP, or just high cards, or almost any two cards, since he'll suspect me for a steal and not believe I have anything. Now, I could just call here, but I decide to see where I'm at, since I think it's likely I have the best hand. I raise to 1500. He quickly moves all-in. The all-in is a bit suspicious, since if he had a monster hand here, like a 5, I'd think he'd milk it a bit more. It's quite possible he has nothing or something like AK or AQ. I decide I can't call off all my chips here, so I fold, and my stack is down to 4000.

I just haven't quite found the balance of playing strong against the other big stacks, but not risking too much. If I was a pro, I'd be able to use their fear of tangling with me, instead I'm being exploited for my fear of tangling with them.

Another odd hand came up in a different tourney. Assume the same chip stacks as the previous story. I had some junk like T7o , but I was in the cutoff, so I made it 500 to go, as I often will to make a steal. The big blind calls. The flop came with some junk like 954, totally missing me. He bet out the minimum bet, 200. Now, that's an oddly small bet into an 1100 pot. This guy has been making the minimum bet often, and I have yet to see what he's doing it with, because people keep folding when he does it. On Party Poker, people who bet the minimum are usually either fish, people who don't know how to play No Limit, or pros who are exploiting the fact that morons will fold to the minimum bet. Now, I have nothing, but the minimum bet is fishy, I decide to try a bluff right here. I raise to 1200, making it 1000 more. He quickly calls. The turn comes some more junk, like a 2. He bets out the minimum again. Very fishy. Now, at this point I make a mistake; I should just call here, since I have a gut shot and he's giving me a good price to chase it. He must have some kind of hand that beats me. Still, I think he must have something weak that he can lay down, so I raised it to 1200 again. This time he moves all-in and I have to fold. I lost nearly half my stack on this hand. My play on the turn was surely a mistake, but the flop is trickier. If the blinds weren't so big and he wasn't a big stack, it would be much easier to make that bluff, but in this situation, it's so much of my stack to bluff that it makes me not want to risk it, which of course makes me weak.

7-24-05 - 1

7-24-05

A good page on hikes near here (SLO) (well, good pictures anyway). Lots of good info in the parent pages about CA in general.

7/23/2005

7-23-05 [poker] - 1

7-23-05 [poker]

People talk a lot about playing a big stack and playing a short stack, both of which are clear situations where there are certain dynamics. The much harder thing is playing a medium stack. You have to worry about things like the short stacks moving in against you, which is a lot of your stack, you have to worry about tangling with the big stacks, you have to consider moving up in chip position or just waiting for people to get knocked out. In poker as in life, the truly hard situations are the ones that are ambiguous, unclear, not easily categorized and broken down into simple dynamics.

Playing at the higher limits in poker is a whole different ball game. Suddenly you're playing against people who will pick up your patterns and moves and play back at you. They're also willing to take risks that pay off in the long run, because they have big bank-rolls and they're used to the ups & downs of poker and they can make the risky move (like moving all-in with nothing when they detect weakness) that's +EV but could knock them out. You really do feel like a fish with sharks swimming all around, and they make you want to just hide and play very tight/weak and try to catch big hands, which of course means they'll just steal all your chips.

7-23-05 - 3

7-23-05

"Curb Your Enthusiasm" episode : Larry and Cheryl start playing tennis (scenes of Larry ranting - "Tennis? isn't that a gentile-only sport? don't those clubs have a strict no Jew policy? Jews don't look good in little white shorts, we weren't meant to play tennis"). They take lessons and such. In one group lesson, they play together, then the teacher tells them to switch partners. Larry - "Switch? What do they mean switch, we're partners!" Cheryl - "I guess you're supposed to play with other people" - "I don't want to play with other people" ; Larry asks the teacher if they can just not switch, teacher says no, Larry goes back to Cheryl - "He says we have to switch; I mean, what kind of club is this, you come with a partner, you're supposed to stay with your partner, you don't just switch around". Larry isn't picking it up, but Cheryl is getting quite good; Larry says the club is weird, the teacher's bad, they should stop playing tennis, Cheryl - "Oh, I don't know, I think Troy's fine, and I'm having fun." One day Cheryl asks Larry to practice and he can't make it. Later he finds out when he said no, she practiced with another guy. He gets home - "So, you've been playing tennis with another man? Is he better than me?" "No, he's not better, just different, I like playing with some different people." "Oh, I'm not enough for you?" "It's not that, it's just I get bored playing with you all the time." "Just tell me something - is his racket bigger than mine?"

7-23-05 - 2

7-23-05

I frequently find myself cooking a sort of "Stone Soup" (good children's book). I have some stupid ingredient in the fridge that I feel I need to use, something like broccoli or some nonsense that costs like one dollar. But, I don't have any good things to go with it, so I buy some oyster sauce & chillis & garlic for the brocolli, then some shrimp and peanuts and coconut milk and curry for a nice followup, and I wind up building a meal and spending a fortune because I felt like I couldn't waste that thing in my fridge.

7-23-05 - 1

7-23-05

More in the continuing series on how I'm an incompetent human - I realized today one of the bad things about me is that I make people feel bad when they deserve to feel bad. In the old harsh justice-oriented Charles that would be perfectly reasonable, like if someone betrays me or lets me down, I'll make them feel bad, and fuck them they deserve it. Of course in the real world that's a horrible thing to do. When people do something bad, they know it, they feel bad, and they don't need you to rub it in, they need your support. That's all the background. The thing I don't get is this : sometimes people do something bad and they act like it's no big deal; this is sort of just an act, they're trying to get over it and get past it, but to me it looks like they're not remorseful and they will repeat their bad action, which I want to avoid. So, ideally I want a way to make them feel better, like it's not a big deal, but at the same time let them know they did a horrible thing and they better not do it again. Preferably without being a counseling-trained douche who spouts nonsense like "I hear what you're saying that you feel, but what I feel is ..."

7/22/2005

7-22-05 [poker] - 1

7-22-05 [poker]

Played another big tourney on PartyPoker. 1100 entrants. I get to 92nd place. My stack is slightly less than average as my steals haven't been working recently, I keep running into reraises. I get AA, we get all-in preflop, whack it's beat by KQ, now I'm short stacked. Next hand I get AQ, I get all-in again, another guy has KQ, again I'm beat. I'm an 86% favorite on the first and a 74% favorite on the second. Chance of losing both is 3.6% ; I was 12 spots away from the money, I almost surely could have folded into the money at that point. Oh my fucking god it hurts so bad. I played so well this time, never even got impatient.

Fast playing is great (in tournaments; in cash games you're playing more straightforwardly for EV). In doubt, always play fast. That doesn't mean overbetting, it means not slowplaying. If you read my book I outline the cases where slowplaying is actually called for (when it's likely he won't call a bet now, but he's drawing to a hand that will call a bet and still be worse than your hand) and it's actually very rare. Fast playing increases your chance of winning the pot, though it may decrease your EV. The other great thing about fast playing is many opponents think you're pulling a move and they make bad counter-plays and wind up giving you a big pot.

7-22-05 [music] - 1

7-22-05 [music]

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's "Ease on Down the Road" has the best songs ever about playful, loving, honest sex. It's also full of songs about the day's cycle, in particular the morning. It's far more upbeat than "I See a Darkness" , but still in a thoughtful, introspective, mournful way.

Foreign Born's EP is totally radio-ready; it's like a mix of Interpol and U2. It's good head-bobbing driving music.

Innaway is eclectic and well executed, but lacking in impact or heart, I just find myself not drawn into it or wanting to listen to it.

"Superwolf" is still at the top of my rotation.

7/21/2005

7-21-05 [movie] - 1

7-21-05 [movie]

The Sea ("Hafid" , D: Baltasar Kormakur) is a powerful, cold, beautiful icelandic movie. Personally, I don't really see it as a Lear retelling, literally the story isn't like Lear except for the powerful father figure and the issue of inheriting his kingdom, the moral and theme are completely different. It's an intense family drama, but cut with fast pacing, lots of humor and excitement which keeps it moving, so it doesn't get boring or tedious. The scenery of iceland is stark and beautiful and sets the external mirror of the internal drama.

7-21-05 - 5

7-21-05

Energy and Real Estate are the big money makers in the US these days, but are also very risky (though I still like BPT ). I'm not directly invested in either, but by investing in broad-market funds I have huge exposure to them. Energy and Real Estate and related businesses (like construction, utilities, etc.) are around 40% of the US economy today.

7-21-05 - 4

7-21-05

I think a lot of the way that kids make mistakes in decisions is in miscalculating EV's. Taking risks is not always a bad thing, but it should be compared to the reward. For example, sleeping with quarterback behind the bleachers is a large risk and a pretty small reward (unless you're going to use it to blackmail him or something).

7-21-05 - 3

7-21-05

Well, I fixed my bike this morning, and put on some new bar tape while I was at it. I've never done either of these repairs before, and it's always very satisfying to do something new and learn it. To fix my bike I consult the local bike shop, and 3 books (see post 5-15-05). Fixing my bike makes me feel like a real man, getting greasy, working with tools, it's like a proxy for working on a car, which is far too difficult and expensive these days.

7-21-05 - 2

7-21-05

Nina Gordon sings "Straight Outta Compton" (mp3) - this is like the funniest thing ever.

7-21-05 - 1

7-21-05

I'm thinking of buying a latex mattress, but I can't find decent information online. I've read bad reviews of Abed and Englander latex mattresses, but other positive reviews; some say they last forever, some say they get dents & lumps after a year or less.

7/20/2005

7-20-05 - 2

7-20-05

Well, my hand is mostly back to normal (btw, the masturbation when it was swollen was great; it was as if some really fat chick was giving me a hand job) - so, I decided to go for a ride. Everything's going dandy, but I'm noting my rear derailleur isn't shifting very well. Oh well, I think, I'll replace the shifter cable when I get home and adjust it. Half way through the ride, suddenly I can't shift gears any more; I push the shifter and it just moves freely with no resistance. So I get off the bike and check it out - the cable has snapped in the shifter (the same thing happened to my front shifter a few months ago). Fuck! Now I can't shift, and without tension the rear derailleur is stuck in the hardest gear. I can still shift the front, so I'm now riding a two speed bike, but in the two hardest gears. Okay, fine, I ride home; on the flats, I'm blazing fast, being stuck in the hardest gear, I sprint past the local bike club (aptly named the "SLO" bike club; bunch of old farts) out for a morning ride; but on the hills I pay dearly - I'm stuck in a big gear and I have the stand the whole way, in a much harder gear than I would normally stand; it's like doing squats with heavy weights all the way up the hill. Damn biking bad beats!

Addendum : Kim points out an old bike messenger's trick : when the RD breaks like this, you can get home more easily by turning the limit screw (assuming you have a screwdriver or coin or something that can turn a flat-head screw) to put the chain in an easier gear, closer to the middle of the cassette.

7-20-05 - 1

7-20-05

Some of the things I've learned about playing big poker tournaments :

1. Save your chips. Really. Especially in a big tournament with a lot of donkeys, you will have opportunities to get your chips in as a huge favorite, so don't push them in as a small favorite. For example, say you have AQ, you raise, someone comes over the top of you. You guess that averaged over all his hands he'll do this with (ala Bayesian poker), you're a 60-40 favorite. You're clearly getting odds to call. FOLD. Similarly, you flop a straight flush draw. A guy pushes all in, and you're pretty sure he's on top pair. You're actually a small favorite here. If he out-stacks you, FOLD. You'll have better chances to use your chips. Normal hand EV calculations hardly come into play in tournaments; the correct thing is to consider your EV in terms of real money places in the tournament, which is much more complex.

2. Be patient; fold crap hands. This is very similar to #1. "Crap hands" are, for example - medium pairs preflop (you should limp with them and try to make a set, but you don't want to get all-in with hands like TT), flush draws on the flop (again, you'll gladly take a free or cheap card to make a flush, but getting all-in with a flush draw is a major donkey move). You never EVER want to get all-in with only a 40% chance (or less) of staying in the tournament. You really only want to get all-in with an 80% of chance of staying in. To make it concrete - if you get all-in FOUR TIMES with an 80% shot of winning, you'll win all four 40% of the time, so you can get all-in four times in a row and have the same shot of staying in as if you get in just once with a crap hand like a flush draw with an overcard.

3. The stacks you play against are crucial. Even if the big stack is a fish and you'd love to get his chips, be scared of him. You only want to play pots with people who have smaller stacks, so you can get all-in if necessary. It gives you the possibility of bluffing if you feel you can take the pot from them, and you're not risking too much. Against bigger stacks, you're going to have to have a winning hand, so you only want to play hands you're very sure of winning (80% or better). Against comparable stacks, you can play pots, but you have to be very careful; you prefer to play a small pot against them without showing down.

4. Use your chips for raising, not calling. This is standard advice, but think about it in terms of #1 - you're conserving your chips like a resource in an RTS for when you can use them best. Let's say you have a hand like 89s. If someone raises before you, you fold. It's not good value to use your chips raising here. Let's say you can open from late position with 89s - good, come in for a raise. This sets you up in the position of aggressor and gives you much more value for your chips.

5. You really want to win small pots without show-downs. That gives you a 100% chance of winning. Any time you have to get in a race and show down hands, there's a chance of them drawing out on you and ruining your tournament. Be patient, build your stack slowly with steals. With hands like AA, you can get greedy and think you should double up. Yeah, that would be nice, but if you get all-in there's a 20% chance of getting knocked out (against a bigger stack; you'd love to get all-in against a smaller stack).

7/19/2005

7-19-05 - 5

7-19-05

The real lesson of "30 Days" is that most people are complete assholes. The situations are interesting, but the show just becomes a "Real World" camera confessional for unappreciative whining babies.

7-19-05 - 4

7-19-05

I went for a long ride today and had some wild adventures. There are lots of triathletes in town for the upcoming SLO Triathlon on July 24. I was in good form, riding hard, when suddenly I felt this pain in my hand, under my bike glove. I swatted at it and it didn't go away, so I pulled over and stopped and took the glove off - a fucking BEE was inside my skin-tight glove, with its stinger well in me. I pulled it out and tossed it away, but of course I'd already swatted it good so it had fully injected me. Now, a bee sting is annoying for everyone, but me, I'm allergic, bad. It was about 10 miles home still, and my hand was hurting and starting to swell. I got on the bike and rode hard - the pain in my legs was suddenly cleared from my mind and I nearly sprinted the whole way home. My hand was swelling up and filling my tight bike glove. Half way home I noticed that it was so swollen that my digits were turning purple coming out of the finger holes of the bike glove. I managed to get the glove off and rode the rest of the way one handed. The past three days it's been so swollen I couldn't type, I'm just now able to type and it's still big and painful. (I would have gone to the doctor, but they're such incompetent boobs; all they'd do is give me Benadryl and tell me to ice it, which is what I've been doing, and they'd charge me $100 bucks for the emergency room viti).

The principles of traffic keep like people apart. In theory, two vehicles going the same speed will never meet. In theoretical traffic analysis, we assume some density of vehicles, much like fluid or gas particles - a constant density over large scales, but randomly distributed on small scales, and we ignore the rare cases of two vehicles that start together. Two vehicles going 1 mph different (eg. one going 26 and one going 27) are 5 times less likely to meet than two vehicles going 5 mph different, (eg. 25 and 30 mph), becuse the relative flux is 5x less. What this means in practice is that you rarely see kindred spirits on the road - when biking I mainly pass old farts going real slow (the slower they go, the higher relative flux for me), and once in a rare while I'm passed by someone going blazing fast, but almost never do I pass or get passed by someone of comparable speed that I might tag along with.

As I bike down the road, I think of how all energy comes from the sun (except : the core, nuclear). My legs push my bike, burning energy from food, which came from animals which ate plants which used photosynthesis to get energy from the sun. The cars that pass me burn hydrocarbons that are the mass of old plants that got their energy from the sun. These are elaborate solar cells. Hydroelectric gets its energy from the sun when it evaporates water and lifts it up against gravity, which can then be tapped. The Earth's core is an exception; it can provide energy left over from the kinetic energy of the impacts and masses that formed the solar system. Nuclear energy (fission) is another exception; it's a way of tapping energy left over from the big bang, which formed those unstable high energy nuclear isotopes.

7-19-05 - 3

7-19-05

Lots of people talk about how efficient bicycles are, but what's the truth? Some quote the fact that the bicycle chain drive is 98% efficient. That's interesting, but it's not what I'm talking about; that's the energy transfer from the crank to the cassette, a simple machine; in that scheme you can't compete with the crow bar, which is 100% efficient. Let's look at the real efficiency of energy input converted to motion.

Let's consider going around 150 miles at 25 mph. You could do this with an efficient one or two cyclinder diesel on about 1 gallon of gas (it has to carry a human). That's 1.3*10^8 Joules, or 31071 kCals. To do the same on a bicycle, a human would have to consume around 3000 kCals of food energy (above normal resting food consumption) (a food "Calorie" is actually a kCal). So the human+bicycle is about 10X more efficient in terms of turning chemical energy into motion. Note that the gas is far more efficient in terms of volume of fuel and cost of fuel, but that's not the question. Also, I'm talking about semi-realistic vehicles and bikes here over slightly undulating terrain; ideal aero vehicles on flat ground could be more efficient in both cases, but the ratio would be same.

I heard that pro bicyclists riding hard produce a power of around 500 Watts, which is about 0.7 horsepower. That's around 500 kCals (food calories) an hour of output energy, so presumably you have to eat even more. good page on bike efficiency

7-19-05 - 2

7-19-05

"Me and You and Everyone We Know" is a nice pleasant, funny movie that doesn't condescend, though I find the jokes about modern art rather trite. Oh yes, modern art is so pretentious and vacuous, very funny. The lead actor is very good, endearing and genuine, but I find Miranda July to be forced and artificial.

))<>((

"All or Nothing" is another sad, difficult Mike Leigh movie, with great performances, realistic dialog and writing, and really no reason to watch it.

7-19-05 - 1

7-19-05

I feel like I'm playing the best poker of my life, and I keep washing out in these big tournaments outside of the money. Some of my recent bad beats - my AA got beat by a Q6 that hit running queens, my JJ got beat by a J9 that hit two nines. Let me give you some idea of how I feel when this happens - it's sort of like if Michael Jordan is playing one on one vs. a retarded cripple. The tard cripple keeps chucking the ball from mid-court, and it somehow bounces off a spectator, then bounces off the ref and goes in the hoop for a 3-pointer. Every time Michael shoots, a bird flies in the way, or a gust of wind comes out of nowhere, and he misses. The tard wins the match, and the crowd gathers around him as he talks about what a great player he is, and everyone in the crowd talks about how Michael sucks so bad. Not to be arrogant or anything, but that's what it feels like.

7/16/2005

7-16-05 - 1

7-16-05

Poker is really about many things, and I hate those little catch phrases that say "high limit is a battle for the blinds", etc. but here are some catch phrases - to me no limit is about 1. stealing pots and 2. situations where you both have big hands, eg. avoiding having a second best big hand ; limit is about all those medium hands, and making the pot big when you win and small when you lose.

7/15/2005

7-15-05 - 6

7-15-05

There couldn't be anything less fucking PUNK than the "punk" kids these days. Oh yeah, you're really sticking it to the establishment with your rampant consumerism.

7-15-05 - 5

7-15-05

How can you stop someone who wants to die from ending their lives? That's the ultimate intrusion into someone's self-determination - I choose whether I live or die, therefore I have a conscious will. This neo-Republican Christian pandering is yet another departure from the good old semi-libertarian Republican fiction. (in Oregon, you can season with a sprinkle of hippocracy about "state's rights" ; as we all know the real meaning is Republican State's Rights when the federal government is Democractic)

7-15-05 - 4

7-15-05

Boxers who fight dirty are rewarded for it. Elbow someone, head butt, rabbit punch, punch em while they're down - you might get a point deducted (usually after a few infractions), but you fuck up the opponent bad, perhaps leading to a knockout.

Children who lie are rewarded for it. Parents don't want to punish if there's doubt about who did it, so if you ever do anything bad, just lie; you can stab your brother, then just lie and say he was coming at you and stabbed himself. Children learn early that if they ever tell the truth and admit doing something wrong or bad they get much more punishment.

7-15-05 - 3

7-15-05

Hand analysis from the FullTiltPoker.net Championship, shown live on Fox Sports Net. For reference : the results , the announcement and the hand in question : at the full tilt forums

I'm just going to talk about the river bet here. The river involves Ted Forrest and Daniel Negreanu. The board is ((664)A)6. Ted has AA for the AAA66 house, Daniel has AQ for the 666AA. The nuts is 6x for four of a kind. We're going to look at what Ted should do, so obviously Ted doesn't know Daniel's hand, but Daniel has shown a lot of strength both preflop and on the turn. Daniel checks the river and the action is on Ted. In real life, Ted checked to show it down and take the pot.

The first interesting thing to me here is that I believe Howard made the wrong analysis in this case. I love Howard and he's very smart, but he says that Ted makes a good check here, roughly because in Ted's view there's one 6 out there, which Daniel might have and would beat him, and there's just one Ace out there, which Daniel might have to give Ted a call. Howard says since there's one of each, they're equally likely, so the check is a good move.

The reason that's entirely wrong is because Daniel's not on random cards. Daniel called a raise preflop, so he's skewed the likelihood of what cards are in his hands. According to the principles of Bayesian Poker we need to look at the chance of Daniel calling preflop with the hands he might have. Now, his bet on the turn has already narrowed him down to very few hands : Ax, 6x, A6, or 44. What's the chance he'd call with each of these preflop? Well, with Ax, it's almost 100% chance he'd call (maybe he'd fold some lower aces, but we'll ignore that). With 44, we'll also assume he'll call preflop. With 6x, he'll fold many, if not all of them. Perhaps he'd call with Q6, K6 and A6. So, on the river, how many are there of each of these?

6x (including A6) = 9 hands
Ax (not including A6) = 43 hands
44 = 3 hands
total = 55 hands

So, Daniel only has 6x on the river 16.3% of the time. He has Ax 78.2% of the time. He has 44 just 5.5% of the time. Now, to do a proper analysis of what Ted should do here, we need to know the pot size and the chip stacks, which I don't recall exactly. Also, Ted has various bet size options and we'd have to make estimates of Daniel's behavior in each case. I'm just going to simplify and consider a simple case. Let's say Ted can either check or go all-in. If Ted goes all-in, Daniel will call with the 6x and the Ax and fold the 44. It's possible someone could fold with Ax here, but based on Ted's aggression and Daniel's looseness it seems likely Daniel will call with Ax. If Ted just checks, he wins the pot P 83.7% of the time and loses 16.3% of the time, so his EV is 0.837 * P . If he goes all-in for the amount A, the cases are : 0.163 * ( - A) + 0.782 * ( A + P ) + 0.055 * P = 0.619 * A + 0.837 * P . This is strictly greater than checking, and in fact it's quite a bit greater. Clearly the EV is much better to bet here. Now, it's possible you could say that Ted was being cautious and trying not to risk going out, which he would do 16.3% of the time. That, however, is an entirely ridiculous position to take, because it's equivalent to saying that you'd fold AA over 22 because you don't want that 20% chance of losing.

Now that I've made that strong conclusion, let me illustrate the complexity of poker and how you could down that result. In reality perhaps it's less clear cut, because Daniel is a little wild/loose , and maybe you can put him on more of the 6x hands preflop, but I don't think it changes the result very much. The only reason I can see Ted making this play is based on his history in Stud and other such games, where you have to put people on a slightly more random spread of starting hands. Personally, I would understand the check more if the opponent were someone like Gus with a Backgammon/probability background. We're getting into the fine details of the preflop play so I have to mention that John D'Agostino was all-in here. Now, someone who knows preflop odds well and thinks there's a good chance that he and Ted will check it down might actually call with hands like 56, 67, etc. and might also fold hands like Ace-low which are more likely to be dominated. That changes the whole spectrum of probabilities and makes Ted's check more reasonable. However, then you also need to get into the river check - how often is someone with 6x going to check that river after betting the turn?

7-15-05 - 2

7-15-05

I like the way Nair (the chemical hair remover) is now advertising itself as "exfoliating" ; that's a nice way to spin the fact that it's a horribly caustic toxic chemical which is so harsh it takes your skin off in addition to killing the hair follicles. That's sort of like advertising Agent Orange as having effective enemy population reproduction reduction capabilities in addition to the defoliation.

7-15-05 - 1

7-15-05

MC Paul Barman has some funny clever lyrics and original flow. Get the old Housemate Troubles html ; links should be colored differently depending on the type of thing they take you to.

7/13/2005

7-13-05 - 1

7-13-05

cardplayer's updates on the WSOP are pretty good, the commentary and payout tabs are nice. The payout structure is really strange and uneven. From 10th to 9th is a jump from 600k to 1000k , then from 9th to 8th you only go to 1150k ; when there's a jump in the money like that you really have to be aware and it changes the play a lot.

So, John Juanda blew himself out, but Phil Ivey is now the chip leader, so he's in an awesome spot unless he blows it. The bet on a "Nguyen" to finish well has lost, but the bet on a "Phil" is in good shape.

Another little find on the net that shows just how pros can do so much better in tournaments than we shmucks :

Card Player has noticed that no one wants to play a pot with Phil Ivey. If you take a look at Phil's chip stack, he's got more small denomination chips than any player in the field. This might possibly come as a result of him picking up a large number of blinds and antes, due to Phil's consistent raising from late position, and not getting any callers. He's got nearly $700,000 in $1,000 chips.

The countdown is on for Matusow to blow his chip lead. I'll put money on him not even making the final table and making a big speech about how he's such a great player its ridiculous he didnt make it.

7/12/2005

7-12-05 - 4

7-12-05

Too bad - [133] Howard Lederer - taken out by John Juanda. Howard raised, John went over the top and Howard went all-in with an AJ, John called with AK. I can only surmise that Howard was playing the AJ here becase Juanda is known to be a very aggressive preflop all-in specialist; Juanda steals lots of pots by raising preflop with marginal hands. It seems to be paying off well for Juanda this year, but it's a very risky style, so he could still easily get knocked out with one his steals.

7-12-05 - 3

7-12-05

To live on 50k a year for 20 years, you need about 600k in investiments paying 5% after inflation and taxes. If it was just matching inflation after tax, you'd need 1000k obviously. This is the formula :

float alpha = log( 1.f + apy );

float cash = (burn / alpha) * (1.f - exp( - alpha * years ) );

where "burn" is burn rate per year and "apy" is the annual return percent after inflation and taxes.

Generally the thing about these figures is that going to more years doesn't require much more cash. 30 years needs 780k , 40 years needs 880k, 50 years needs 930k.

A funny thing is that a huge amount of America has enough money to retire in most of the world (eg. Mexico, but plenty of other places). If you have any real estate in America, you can probably get out for 100k or more, and go retire in a village somewhere. I guess the quality of life there isn't that great, but you don't have to work at all.

7-12-05 - 2

7-12-05

The buy-in for the WSOP is 10k. If you were of exactly average skill compared to the rest of the field, your EV would be 10k. That EV comes from an average of almost always losing and getting zero, but rarely getting lucky and winning much more than 10k. Varkonyi was just a horrible pathetic unskilled player, his EV was perhaps less than 1k. Moneymaker was a decent player, worse than the pros but better than a lot of the dead money, his EV was somewhere in 9-11k perhaps. Raymer is a good player, not great, not a top pro, but reasonable; his EV was maybe 10k-12k. The pros have an EV of maybe 15k-20k. That means for their 8 days of hard work, their profit is on average 5-10k.

You can see Moneymaker and Varkonyi's preponderance of appearances in the poker top 10 bad beats , though you can't really trust a top 10 that's so wrong it doesn't even have 10 entries !! That's one of the basic things about a top ten, it's in the freaking name, there are only two aspects you have to have - they should be the top things and there should be ten of them!

7-12-05 - 1

7-12-05

Lance's performance today was awesome. I like watching cycling, because you can read the paper, make breakfast, and if you hear something exciting happening, you can run to the TV and catch it. Baseball is similarly boring, but the exciting moments are over in a second, so if you run in you've already missed it. Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin are some of the best announcers I've ever heard in sports. They're smart, knowledgeable, actually were pros, charismatic, clever, always talking, and they have a great way of correcting each other. Sportscasters always make little mistakes, just saying the wrong name now and then; the two of them quickly correct each other without stepping on each other's toes. Even great casts like Al Michaels haven't mastered this technique, when insane old guys like Madden say nonsense things, Al needs to fix it smoothly without making the old coach feel dumb. Brittish sportscasters are always better - they can fill the air, get you excited, without spouting too much nonsense, and they get rightly passionate when the moment calls for it. It seems to correlate with the way Brittish politicians are such better speakers, especially impromptu and off the script.

I went out and tried to ride Old Creek today. It was hot, and I was on the rail, struggling just to make the minimum time; in the end I had to drop out of the Tour de Old Creek in order to live to fight another day.

7/11/2005

7-11-05 - 1

7-11-05

King-Queen is a shit all-in hand, but it's better to call all-in with KQ than with something like Ace-Low. That's true even though A2 is a favorite over KQ ; when you're calling you need to worry about domination, and KQ is only dominated by AK and AQ, while A2 is dominated by all the higher aces.

I wish I had someone to tag-team with to play poker online. I can't play the big tournaments long enough to make the money; I can play well for 3-4 hours, and then I always get impatient and start to play badly, or get mildly unlucky. Today I played a tourney of 1200 players; I made it down to around #250 after hours of play. The blinds are getting big now, I have AJs and make a standard raise to 650 (BB is 200), a solid player comes over the top of me, enough to put me all in. The blinds fold, back to me, I called about 1500 more and he showed AQ, and it held up - I'm out. Probably I should have raised a bit less initially so I dont pot-committ myself, probably I should have folded to the reraise, because he's solid, the best I'll be is 50/50.

This article is a pretty good description of how a pro like Phil Ivey plays so well in tournaments.

7/09/2005

7-09-05 - 5

7-09-05

T-Shirts :

"Thor Bless America" ; shows Thor with big hammer draped in American flag.

"Dont Tread on Shit" , shows 50's business guy in wing-tip shoe about to step in dog turd.

"Capitalist Pork" - pink piggy bank on green shirt.

7-09-05 - 4

7-09-05

PokerWire seems to have the best coverage of the currently ongoing 2005 WSOP. It sickens me that Raymer is doing well again, it will make foolish people incorrectly believe that his win was from skill.

7-09-05 - 3

7-09-05

Now, oversized rims and low profile tires is very cool and appropriate on your Porsche 911, but is absolutely hillarious on your Ford truck.

7-09-05 - 2

7-09-05

If you believe that the words of the bible are literally true, you've probably never read the bible. Now, the New Testament is more believable, it's pretty straightforward, just the story of Jesus, but the Old Testament is absolutely chock-full of bizarre laughable nonsense. Those who hold up the 10 commandments should actually read the passage where God delivers his law to Moses. There's a lot more than the 10 commandments, and it's mostly funny. One of my favorites - "if thou seest a witch, thou shalt surely smite her".

7-09-05 - 1

7-09-05

The idea that other countries can become wealthy without hurting the U.S. is preposterous. Yes, yes, economics is not a zero-sum game, but it is sort of like an average between an unlimited resource game and a zero-sum game. Many important factors are zero-sum, like the share of natural resources, and the share of power at the bargaining table. If you're the medieval lord and everyone else is a peasant, you have much more real wealth & power than if there's another lord in a comparable position to you - suddenly you have a rival of near equal power and you have to split the spoils.

Right now, the U.S. is the thousand pound gorilla - we set the terms of all the world trade agreements to our liking. Almost no one has any real power to fight us. In fact, whenever anyone does fight us even in tiny ways, it's big news because it's so rare (for example, recently at the meeting of the Association of American States, a coalition of South American states rejected some of the free trade rules we were pushing, and it made big news). If power equalizes - not even close to completely, but even just somewhat, so that a coalition of other states comes close to US power - we will be forced to play by the rules of the rest of the world. How would we like it if the world free trade agreements made us drop our agriculture subsidies? or our import tarrifs? or made us balance our budget? or revalue our dollar? or raise federal interest rates? Most Republicans and neocons would consider those sort of requirements from foreign nations to be ridiculous and insulting, and yet those are the kinds of things we impose on other countries all the time.

Many people have latched onto China as something to be afraid of. China is not the problem - India, Russia, Brazil, etc. will follow. The future is about the large multinational corporations. Already they are leaving the US for tax purposes and to avoid annoying laws about corruption and usury and such. Imagine when they are based overseas, most employees are overseas, and most of their sales are overseas. The world power centers will be Walmart, Citigroup, Exxon/Mobil, etc. not governments; government-based power will be diffused among the many nations of the world, while corporate power will be concentrated. The G8 will be the group of 8 multinational corporations, while the U.N. will become an even more ineffectual body of 200+ nations that are closer in power and unable to agree on anything.

The neocons recognized all this long ago; their policies are based on the idea of using current US dominance to secure long term prosperity. That in itself is not a horrible idea, but I don't agree with the idea that prosperity for the US is worth any cost - such as the lives of human beings - and I also don't agree with their methods, or their unspoken true agenda, which is prosperity for the rich & powerful, not for the average American.

7/08/2005

7-08-05 - 1

7-08-05

Evidence is out now that Karl Rove was the one who leaked Valerie Plame's identity (undercover CIA operative), as revenge for Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson telling the truth (which the bushies despise). Of course anyone with sense knew it was a bush insider that did it and why, but if it could be really proved, that would be a rare slip by that clever corrupt cadre of criminals. Lots of info at Wikipedia . The similarities and connections between this administration and Nixon's are sickening.

7/07/2005

7-07-05 - 7

7-07-05

Casey's presentation on IMGUI at MollyRocket forums

7-07-05 - 6

7-07-05

Beer ads are way too far off the nose these days; Pete Coors talking about the hops and the frost brewing and such nonsense - that doesn't sell beer, it's a load of bullshit and noone cares. The Miller High Life adds of late were great (Erol Morris works, btw). I propose a series of beer ads that are more about why people by beer - the tag line is "Oh well, have a beer" and the ads each depict something horrible; like a guy is in his apartment, his girlfriend is telling him what a lazy piece of shit he is; she throws things and breaks them then storms out; cue tag line - "Oh well, have a beer", he goes to his fridge and you hear the sound of a bottle opening and you see him sit down in his recliner, turn on the TV with beer in one hand. Similar spots showing guy in cubicle with boss yelling at him, guy in traffic jam, etc.

7-07-05 - 5

7-07-05

Is there any greater form of mental masturbation than the deep contemplation of fictional characters - especially minor ones? So many literature lovers spends years in study of Polonius or Pangloss, wondering at their motivation or their character, their importance. Good lord, people, they have no motivation, and if their actions don't make sense, it's because the author fucked up, not because it corresponds to some great truth about human fallibility. On the other hand, most of my favorite authors have engaged in this foolish self-indulgent sport - Nabokov, Joyce, Borges, etc.

7-07-05 - 4

7-07-05

Plain Schnapps (like this one ) is a lovely beer chaser; it's very different from that aweful fruit crap that most people in America think of as Schnapps.

7-07-05 - 3

7-07-05

My NetFlix Queue is full. FULL. Nothing on a computer should ever be full. I'm so sick of the very simple software that I use in my daily life - email, netflix, tivo, mp3 players, etc. - all sucking so very badly. And it's not like it sucks in complicated difficult ways, it sucks in moronic lazy ways.

I finally discovered "Curb Your Enthusiasm" for myself. It's a fantastic smart show; it's helping me get through life these days - it reminds of how humorous all the horrible stupidities of the world can be. After watching it, I find it very easy to walk around doing a Larry David impersonation all the time, which makes this ridiculous life easier.

7-07-05 - 2

7-07-05

More propaganda for the NoT : the Google search is sort of an algorithm for rating information based on what the entire internet thinks of it. The problem is the "entire internet" are a bunch of morons, they like Britney Spears and War of the Worlds. The search should be customized for what I trust, for information I want. The most extreme example is to just go to the search and enter "music". With a crap search you get things you don't want. A good search would give you results customized based on your taste, trust, and history, so you actually could just search on simple things like that and get good results.

7-07-05 - 1

7-07-05

London, where my brother is now living, was attacked by Al Qaeda. One can hope that this will motivate the world governments to finally do something serious about terrorism (instead of spending all our energy making new terrorists in Iraq). Everyone knows Bin Laden is in Pakistan. It's high time we 1. Stabilize Afghanistan, 2. Make peace in Palestine, 3. Support democracy and openness in Iran, 4. do something serious about Pakistan, where wide areas (Waziristan) are under the control of Pashtun warlords (this is the hardest one).

One can also only hope that our ridiculous government won't find this to be new fuel for pushing all sorts of unrelated anti-libertarian agendas. This could make a nice smoke screen for them to install a super-conservative judge on the supreme court.

I had a silly thought the other day about why there seems to be a propensity for terrorism in Islamic cultures (the real answer is complex; for one thing, terrorism is common in other cultures, it's more associated with a poor populace that's oppressed and feels they have no alternative). Anyway - it's because they forbid alcohol. The disillusioned islamic youth who's angry about his brother's murder and dreams of the fifty virgins - if he could just get drunk every night, he wouldn't be motivated to blow things up. I've spoken with many half-crazy guys here in America that are furious about our government and talk of revolt, but then they drink some beers and get lazy and settle down again.

7/06/2005

7-06-05 - 1

7-06-05

Human beings are totally out of control. UN Peacekeepers in Congo are reported to frequently pay for sex with civilians, including children. (that's the difference between the peacekeepers and the guerillas - the guerillas just rape, the peacekeepers pay, in the spirit of good democratic/capitalist slavery (* see note)). Locally, here near San Luis Obispo we have the Atascadero State Hospital (ASH; it's a penal mental hospital) where the state's criminally insane and kept; it's primarily populated by sex offenders. Recently there have been reports of frequent sex between workers and inmates at the hospital - that's female workers and sex offenders. What the fuck is wrong with all you people? It makes me think of Dune and the idea of true humans. You all seem like a different species; you grunt and walk around in a crouch, knuckles dragging, throwing feces at each other.

democratic/capitalist slavery - 1. the condition is which people are supposedly presented with a "choice", but are not offered viable alternatives, or are given alternatives so ghastly that they are forced into the decision which those in power want; 2. when people are given jobs, but at wages so low they can only afford the essentials of life and must continue to work constantly just to survive.

7/05/2005

7-05-05 - 2

7-05-05

Many have written about my rants about America going into the shitter. First of all, a general reply. I do not believe that this is entirely inevitable, and you should also understand what I mean by "shitter". You may or may not be aware that America is currently a nation of kings - the poorest in America are lords of amazing wealth by the standards of most of the world. That's less so know, but 10 or 20 years ago, the inequality from the average American to the average Somalian (for example), was just staggering. That is certainly going away. Second of all, I don't mean to imply that I think this is a bad thing. I'm bleeding heart liberal and I think equality for the world is great. I am trying to point out something I think is an important neglected truth, and also a hypocracy in the neocons who claim to act in America's best interest. What do they mean by "America" ? Third, a key issue to be aware of is the success of "America" as a whole vs. the success of the average American. The GDP and wealth of the US en toto will continue to rise astronomically for some time, but the average American is already seeing a drop in real wealth and spending power. That will continue. How do we reconcile this? Because the gap between the rich and everyone else in America will continue to get even wider in the future.

Many have pointed out that America has responded to competition before and come out on top. We simply have moved out of those industries and into more profitable ones. (aside : that's not really true, because we stay in totally unprofitable industries like agriculture, steel, sugar, etc. thanks to government subsidies). When we lost raw material jobs we moved into manufacturing. When we lost manufacturing we moved into IT. Now we're losing low-level IT and moving into management. That's all true, but you fail to recognize that this is a drastically different time. In those cases we were able to move up for a few reasons - 1) there was room at the top, 2) we had more expertise and education, 3) we had research pushing new industries, 4) we moved into fields that no one else could really compete in. All of those things are gone - American education is in the shitter, we're neglecting research while other countries have booming long term research, and most of all we have no more exclusive skills or monopolies on important businesses. In the short term we will be able to move into management and entertainment, but that's only the short term. There's nothing keeping those industries here, we have no special strength in them, and they will eventually move overseas. (probably Entertainment will stay an industry that we are strong in for longer than almost any other).

What should we do about it? One crucial thing is to invest in the long-term intellectual power of Americans. The good jobs of the future are all mental jobs; we need education, research, infrastructure - all of which should be the best in the world; we are still the richest country by far, and we should be using that current wealth to develop long term brains. A crucial thing here is that we have to do it for all Americans, not just the very rich. We need to reverse our shift to tax policy which is cutting services to the poor which putting money in the pockets of those that don't need it. Finally, we need to be smartly protectionist. We want a country where our workers live better than those in the 3rd world; to compensate that there should be import tarrifs and export subsidies that match. (before you cry democrat scum, the current Republican administration is part of a long line of governments that have applied massive tarrifs and subsidies; I would like to cut most of those which are politically driven, and try to see some sort of formula-based system based on the difference in cost of labor).

7-05-05 - 1

7-05-05

In Iraq, the US and the provisional government is engaging in a black-list of ex-Baath party Sunnis. This is ill-advised. Certainly the Baathists in Iraq were a bad group, but not every member did evil. It was simply an organization of power, like the Nazis in Germany in the 20's and 30's, the KKK in the South in the early 1900's, etc. If you were a man of power in politics in those areas, you had to be in that organization. After the organization becomes unfashionable, you can't simply black-list all the members. The US government wisely made use of ex-Nazis (including, immorally and illegaly many known horrific criminals), and of course ex-KKK members made up much of our government. The same should happen in Iraq.

7/04/2005

7-04-05 - 3

7-04-05

Lisa Lampanelli's a pretty decent female comedian. I like the way she breaks the stupid rule that you can only make fun of groups you're in, which is scene as being more PC, but of course it's actually very group-ist, it's far more PC to make fun of everyone.

7-04-05 - 2

7-04-05

I don't understand the role of "closer" in baseball. It makes perfect sense to have your ace that comes in for the 9th inning to lock up games, but why only bring him in when you're ahead? Certainly you don't need to bring him in if the game is a blow out, but what if the game is tied, or you're behind by a run? If you're often ahead, it makes sense to save him for that, but if you're often behind, you may as well use him, it doesn't make sense to let him sit for 10 games, if he's your best guy, you're just giving up quality by bringing in someone else when he's able to go.

7-04-05 - 1

7-04-05

"Three Billion New Capitalists - The Great Shift of Wealth and Power to the East" by Clyde Prestowitz, seems to be about what I was saying a few days ago, roughly that America is headed for the shitter (reviewed in the NYT Book Review). Many, many more data points keep coming in. In the last 5 years, productivity in the U.S. is up 3.8% , but hourly income is down -0.9 % (more typically, productivity and income roughly track). Many companies profits' are up, but are laying off employees. This is the economy of the future - corporate profit, no employees, no trickle down.

7/03/2005

7-03-05 - 4

7-03-05

Hey, you, with the red and white dive sticker on your car - thanks, thanks for letting us know you're a diver. Now, if I have some sort of under water emergency on the side of the road, I can flag you down and get help. You know, if there's some sort of emergency that requires a diver. Thanks.

7-03-05 - 3

7-03-05

It's a little odd to me that we encourage imagination in children, who have a loose grip on reality and can easily be fooled into believing in things like Santa Claus, Angels, the Boogeyman, and God. For children, imagination and reality are fuzzy and blend together, and parents think it's great when a kid sits around in a cardboard box and pretends it's a yacht. On the other hand, as we get older and are more capable of wild imagination (face it, most kids' imagination is pretty stupid and boring - cowboys and indians? come on), and also more capable of understanding what's real and what's not, we stop doing it, and are discouraged from it. When we're older is when we really need imagination to save us from the horrible boredom of reality. Kids don't really need imagination, they have the whole real world to learn about, and fun secure lives.

7-03-05 - 2

7-03-05

Justice Sandra O'Connor was a half-sane testy old woman, but she will be sorely missed. She was one of the few people left in a position of great power in American government who took her job and her duty to the American people seriously - to decide arguments based on their merits, on the Constitution, and the rule of law, not based on politics or partisan agendas.

7-03-05 - 1

7-03-05

The Poker Show is a wierd amateur fake TV show about poker being shot in a basement in Las Vegas. Jesse May is the announcer for Late Night Poker, but the highlight is Padraig ("Parg") Parkinson, the often-coked-up Irish poker pro.

7/02/2005

7-02-05 - 2

7-02-05

Well, Lance is in amazing form, and his rivals look weak. He's got this Tour easily in the bag unless something unfortunate happens, like a crash.

7-02-05 - 1

7-02-05

Salman Rushdie writes :

[...] In these days when the age of pulse was giving way to the age of tone. When the epoch of analog (which was to say also of the richness of language, of analogy) was giving way to the digital era, the final victory of the numerate over the literate. [...]

This little passage tweaked a nerve in my compound brain. I've been thinking for a while about the way people who know a little can write things that are beautiful, despite their horrible wrongness. Salman's analogy of the analog/digital change to the literate/numerate change is nice, but silly. A better analogy would be that analog is gradual, personal, soft, nuanced; digital is extreme - off or on, black and white like partisan politics, precise. Analog is full of lovely natural errors - just like humans, all different, all slightly flawed - digital has an unnatural perfection, every digital copy exactly the same. Now, Salman might know all this and not care; I find that knowing a lot, and never wanting to say anything that's just wrong, it makes it harder to write beautiful poetic things. There are a lot of lovely things you can say or write if you don't care about being right; most people who right about science + life are in this category. The thing that frustrates me most is that the person who's wrong is generally more interesting and more understandable by the general public, because of course his thought patterns are closer to their own.

7/01/2005

7-01-05 - 2

7-01-05

I remember reading that "Spanglish" mirrored real events in the life of James L Brooks - he got divorced from his caucasian wife partly because he was having an affair with his latina house keeper. Now I can't find any material on it in Google, just a lot of vapid reviews of the movie. Help? p.s. the movie is absolute garbage; if it wasn't for the stunning beauty of Paz it would be completely unwatchable self-righteous straight-forward shmaltz. It's actually more interesting if it really is Brooks' justification to the world that his own philandering is okay (sort of like if Hitler made a movie showing Jews doing horrible things to the hapless sweet Aryans) (I can't help it, Hitler comparisons are all the rage these days).

7-01-05 - 1

7-01-05

(film) "Bartlesby" is a very disappointing movie. It has beautiful set design - such trashy cool office decor - and good acting, creepy chacracters. But then it goes nowhere. I'd prefer not to watch it.

(music) Did I mention "Superwolf" is the fucking bomb? It's a collaboration by the brilliant Bonnie Prince Billy (aka Will Oldham) and some other douche. Band names for individuals is the new hip thing (eg. Songs Ohia, Smog, etc.)

old rants