28 April 2006

Children and Poker: My Thoughts

"I intentionally didn't expose my children to gambling, since I wanted them to do something more productive. It is much harder to avoid it in this day and age than when my kids were young. My youngest son (age 18) wants to be a poker player, but I won't help him until he graduates from college. I still wish he would find passion for something else." Barry Greenstein

"The thoughts I have about children and poker is that children should never be put on the back burner (nor should anyone that you care about) for a game of poker. Everything has its proper place and time in life. Our families-especially our children in this day and age-deserve and need all the time with us they can get. To say that one should forsake everything to be a parent isn't the correct answer either. We all need time to develop and learn in the midst of all of it, we need time to ourselves. Poker is a cloaking device in a way. It fills a social need and can help us realize things about ourselves that we would never have explored if we hadn't witnessed other people going through all of the antics at the tables. The cloaking device comes into play when we use poker as a hide-out or escape hatch from the real world. The real world has its place-just as poker has its place. If you have any problems in handling the order of priorities in your life, poker is not the place for you. There is nothing wrong with teaching your children to play poker. Teaching them to understand competition and good sportsmanship, teaching them to handle wins and losses, and how to walk away when it's time to walk away. If you spend time with your children-at the poker table- you may learn a lot about them and end up finding ways to help them conquer and deal with problems that will most definitely rear in their lives. Poker is a complexity of human need, social levels, cards, skill, luck, and the learning curve of how to deal with all of it." Linda R. Geneen

Barry and Linda were good enough to give their thoughts on children and poker, so thanks a ton. In case you don't know, Linda is one of the founding fathers of poker blogging, if not the originator (archives start in 1982).

So now, my final thoughts, all of the wisdom boiled down to my theory on parenting and poker.
  • Protectionism vs. exposure. I understand greatly the desire to shield our children from the dangers of the world. My wife Sweetie is involved in two different regularly meeting groups: her church discipleship group and her neighborhood book club. The ladies in her church group school their kids either at the church's mega-school or home school and are networked almost exclusively with other Christians. The book club (it's called this because they have a book a month to read, although only a couple actually seem to read the book) is maybe the polar opposite of the first. Many of these ladies also go to their Botox parties, etc. We've both always been public school people, and I've seen the value of the boys' exposure to the diversity and challenges of life. Granted, we're still in the fairly innocent years with middle school a couple years away, but I would rather bring the boys up in the context of the world today. With poker, I would rather involve the boys in as healthy a manner as possible. I enjoy it, and I enjoy having the boys on the felt with me.
  • Ban online poker. I may be on the extreme side here, but I don't feel it is appropriate for the boys to play online, even for play chips. Online poker gives them another reason to sit at the computer/video game machine, which we don't need. It sends them one step closer to a risky area. The appropriate age to play online? Again, this may sound extreme, but I would say 18. If their interest would get to the point earlier in their lives, then I would put Wilson Turbo or Poker Academy for them to practice. Online poker is a time devourer, and this global workplace of ours is a competitive landscape to the max. The nearness of real money play is something they shouldn't do. Too crack-like, so I'll ban this.
  • On the felt. I really enjoy the social aspect of playing poker and having the boys involved as well. All-In isn't as into it for sure, but the Big Guy seems to enjoy it when we play. I prefer tourneys with prizes if we can get enough folks, a fun freeroll with neat stuff that everyone would like. The best family gatherings for me are when I'm fighting it out in spades with my sister and Mom. Just like golf, I hope that stacking chips is something that will bring back fond memories to the boys. But like BadBlood, I would keep money away from the table when the boys are involved.
  • Manage my play at home. This is one of my greatest challenges. As you know, I don't play very much, trying to sneak in some play here or there. I rarely play big blocks of time on the weekend unless I have an all-clear signal (Sweetie's out and about, the Little Guy is napping, and the other boys are playing). I think this is extreme probably on my part, and I do want to play regularly in an approved, supported, responsible manner. But the boys are at an age now where they really like me alot. Last night after dinner, the boys wanted to play baseball in the back yard. So out I head with a bucket of balls, put a tee in the very back for the Little Guy to grab a bat and hit the tee, sending the ball tipping onto the ground (at 23 months, his technique seems to be lacking). The Big Guy and All-In take turns with ten balls each, caroming foul balls within six inches of light fixtures, pinging taters over the trees and fence into literally the next neighborhood. With our advanced point system (1 pt for a foul, 3 for grounder, 4 for fly past me, 6 for over the fence), All-In takes the title with 32 points. Will we be in the backyard in four years? I don't know, but they'll remember the towering shots and the stinging in their hands in thirty years, that's for sure.
  • Have a plan. I need to speak regularly with my wife about poker and the impact of my play on the boys. This isn't very easy for me as I don't want to hear anything really. She is outside of my play and can be more objective about what it's doing to me and to the boys.
  • Play to win. If the boys are playing, I don't want to let up to make it easier on them. I'm not into not keeping score in sports. I would never let the boys beat me in anything. I don't have a ton of pity when the Big Guy is writhing in pain on the ground from a bump (looking just like his Dad at the same age, granted). I want the boys to finish what they start, to always prepare, to always do their best, and to build an ability to evaluate and improve. We're a long way from this consistently, but that is the goal.
  • Sniff it out. Sweetie had a fairly innocent, naïve childhood. I did for the most part, putting aside the physical explorations with babysitters and older neighbor girls before I was ten. I'm not quite sure when you get eyes in the back of your head like my Mom had, but my view is that I have to assume that the boys are into everything, that their friends are all hooligans and perverts, and that they're experimenting constantly until proven otherwise. This includes poker, but more broadly it means that I need to be proactive in my communication with the boys. This dialogue needs to happen individually with each of them, not in a check-off-the-box way to be sure they're OK but to ping the periphery of dangerous areas to figure out which other kids are horrible and at risk.
  • Be alert to danger signs in my life. I think the boys are better off with me in their lives each day. I've stood close enough to the abyss of poker's downside to know that I could slip from the world of healthy obsession and passion to the purgatory of reckless, uncontrolled addiction. The latter creates separation from my wife and the boys, either because they would leave me or I would become a different father and husband. This means proper bankroll management, being alert to mood changes, being open with Sweetie if she sees changes in me, becoming consumed by poker instead of further fulfilled through it.
  • Prioritize. As Linda said, poker should never take a priority in my life over the boys, yet it should be part of my life at this time. This means balance but ensuring that the boys have good minutes and hours with me, both together and individually.
  • Sweetie. My wife is the top priority in my life, and poker should never interfere with our relationship and our love. The boys have an incredible mother in their lives, and I owe it to them to keep my poker's impact on my wife minimized. Like in Heat, you have to be ready to walk away from poker if necessary. That doesn't mean I can't have something for myself, but it means that the choice is an easy one for me.
Nothing too groundbreaking or insightful, but a collection of today's thoughts on the subject of children and poker. Thanks for letting me explore this, and I hope it's been helpful to some. Special thanks to The Wolverine, Keith Whyte, Joe Sebok and his Dad, Linda, and all the comments from all of you.

Finally, Friday's Recipe for the inept chefs out there. My reason for a Friday recipe? It's about pulling our own weight and bringing something to the table, literally. And if I can do it, believe me you can too. This is Cousin Becky's Homemade Salsa, which is Sweetie's Florida Gators fanatical cousin. She had a boob job about a decade ago, which my father-in-law is quite fond of. This has to be the simplest recipe known to man for sure. Cut a white onion into small pieces (dice is the term), open two-three cans of diced tomatoes, one-two cans of diced green chiles, add chopped garlic, jalapenos and a bunch of the juice from the jar, cilantro (ideally fresh--less is more until you figure out what to add), some oregano (not much), black pepper. Mix it in a huge bowl and tweak it to meet your own standards. Less onions if you like, more jalapenos, whatever. If you add black olives, only do it to half of the salsa (as I hate olives). Get several bags of chips and lots of paper towels, then get to snacking.

Have a good weekend.

Have a great weekend.

27 April 2006

Children and Poker: Wrap-Up

A rough, rough two days of poker for me during my travels. Down a whopping $1,675, which is a 20% drop in the bankroll. All of this at $10/20 and was even more brutal than that without my typically stupid jump up in limits, hitting the $30/60 Party tables and being up $750 on a couple of quick hit and run sessions. The downslide was a big part luck, losing 70% of the time with AK, QQ, and KK during the two days (that's 70%). Was it disappointing? It was a frustrating mix of loose folks at tables, calling stations who wouldn't go away when I had my big cards that didn't hit, and not getting paid off. The biggest reason I jumped up to $30/60 was the large number of tables going on. It looks like $30/60 is a big game at Party. I was in a good frame of mind, watched the tables I sat at, then played solid. It was different than taking a shot, more like taking a shot to stem the tide. It hasn't worked for me before, but this time it did. I didn't like my mentality at the $10/20, but it is at least understandable in my mind. Continuation bets not getting any respect, everyone staying in with something, all these hands become lessened in value. Saw one very fishy hand where I was between two guys, had been the initial aggressor, got turn raised/re-raised (finally getting out), then the re-raiser folds on the river bet with nothing else hitting. I don't think the above is anything more than variance, if you include me not stopping somewhere in the midst of the variance as part of the variance. If that makes sense.

When I was researching the topic of children and poker, one of the sources on the subject of the risk of gambling with children I found is Keith Whyte at the National Council on Problem Gambling. Keith was good enough to answer some of my questions regarding kids and poker. See their Pathological Gambling Criteria with key questions to know if your obsession has moved to a dangerous problem.

"Talk to your kids about gambling," White says, "just as you would with any other activity that can be addictive." At a minimum, use his Four Know's
  • Know the law
  • Know the health risks (gambling problems, as well as high co-occurance of substance abuse, depression, etc.)
  • Know the warning signs of addiction (pre-occupation, loss of control, harm to gambler and their family)
  • Know where to get help for a problem
I asked Keith if he sees benefits to poker for kids, like some of us do, or if we're just kidding ourselves amid self-justification. "In genereal, there may be some benefits to gambling, for those who are able to gamble recreationally. But there are also risks, and I feel that many advocates highlight the benefits and minimize the potential for harm."

I wanted to highlight some of the quotes and email's that I've received, then I'll give you my thoughts tomorrow. Again, thanks to everyone for reading and giving your thoughts as well.

"With my son who's now 6, I've removed all aspects of money from the game. Right now, to him, the game represents only a strategy game like many others. To me, the issue is the introduction of the financial aspect, not the mere fact of playing poker." BadBlood

"Growing up, I played blackjack and other card games with my grandmothers. I didn't realize it until recently, but that is one of the reasons why I love poker and games. It's subconscious nostalgia." High on Poker

"This is something I'm interested in; I've had some of my students (teenage girls) ask me to teach them poker. I tell them only with a letter of permission from their parents. I'm really of two minds about the whole thing, but I think I'm more on the side of informing kids and giving them some media awareness of the games and ads they see on TV." katitude

"I am a third-genearational gambler, as Las Vegas was always the conduit for a visit or the actual meeting place with my relatives (who all ive in Hawaii when we lived on the mainland). Now that I'm older, that tradition is a powerful part of why I'm a poker player and why I love the city. I walk through the downtown streetns and in the lobbies of casinos, and they are always with me. I think I benefited from my parents teaching me card games early. I think I learned from them the right way to handle winning and losing and winning and losing money." kurokitty

"In the end, gambling is like many other things--drinking, sex, drugs, reckless driving--that irresistibly attract many kids. Some will become alcoholics or addicts, get pregnant or father a child, or die in a car crash. Others will become problem gamblers. As parents, we can only teach our children to make good decisions, work with them to instill an understanding of the world around them and--in the end--put our trust in those efforts and pray for the best outcome. jestocost

Thanks for these and other comments and contributions. Final words tomorrow. I'll also try and add links this weekend to the blog, so anyone who isn't there and would like to be, just let me know. I try to keep it fresh with the sites that I go to daily, and like many I don't add the new good sites that I find, meaning I don't get to those places as regularly.

May you only see the positive end of variance--let everyone else get the negative end!

25 April 2006

Children and Poker: Wolverine

A hectic forty-eight hours, and I'm finally able to breathe a bit. Meeting tomorrow afternoon to (hopefully) close the China project. I'd rather write about poker than play, so here you go.

Great post from Bobby's Room at the Bellagio by Linda. All the big dogs playing their regular 4/8 mixed game.

When I thought we should have a teenager's insight for this series, I unfortunately found an atypical teen in Wolverine, a young veteran of the G-Vegas circuit who took down BadBlood's G-Vegas birthday party tourney this weekend. He's been described as respectful, humble, and a great young man, not the rude, obnoxious . What even those who have seen him on the felt may not know is that he suffers from common variable immunodeficiency, a rare immune deficiency which leads to a lot of illness and suffering. Monthly treatments keep him going, but it's not easy and no one would know about any of this as he's betting into a pot. All a parent can ask for is to raise a child who becomes a man or woman of substance, integrity, and shared values. Shep should be proud that the Wolverine is well on his way.

cc: What are your early memories of poker?
W: Most of my early memories of poker were small $5 buy-in tournaments sitting in my den with a couple of family members, but then again I was playinga lot of free online chip games (usually SNG).

cc: How much do you play (online vs. live)?
W: I play online a lot more than I play live. It just works into my schedule better, but I would much rather play live. I play better in a live game, and it's a lot more fun because you can talk and joke around.

cc: What do you see as the risks of teenagers playing poker?
W: Teens have a lot of risks in playing poker there minds are not quite fully developed and they sometimes do not read things they way they should
be read. Most teens that play are not using there own money to enter into things (I know this because I was there once) my dad was always putting in my $5-$20 buy-in during our live games. I now pay my own way. I have a job and a fairly good one at that I am an assistant manager at a small restaurant.

cc: How do you protect yourself from the downside of poker?
As of now I have to work hard to get the money for a buy-in for a tournament and I do not play frequently. I am juggling School, a job, a girlfriend, and keeping close to my family all of which are way more important than poker. I will not be conceded and say that I am better than that but I will say that I am smarter than to let myself get addicted. I am a very strong minded person I think deep into things I know what’s going on in the world around me and I know when I can and can not play. In the future I still want to be playing poker but I want to get my life on track before I ever think of trying to play poker just for money. I am playing it for fun now and so far it has worked out for me. I want to go to culinary school to be a chef because I have been in a kitchen since I can remember and I have loved every moment of
it, and if I get the chance want to go back to college and get a degree in psychology because I have just taken to reading into peoples stories like a duck takes to water. People make comments about that to me all the time and I realize that is yet another thing I could be good at. In the end I want to be a chef.

cc: Tell me about what it's like to play with your dad, uncle, and their friends?
W: I do not see the people I play with as my dad and uncle’s friends I see them as my friends also. They are a great bunch of guys and I like to hang out with them, as a matter of fact I would much rather hang out with them rather than my friends. Most of my friends are normal teens, immature and perverts, Quite frankly, I am not like that. I am more mature that most of the 17 year olds you meet as for the pervert part. I think people that are perverted are disrespectful and I do not like it. As for playing with my dad and uncle, I thinks it’s fun. I like being able to get at each others’ throats for a little while, and if we take each other out it’s usually followed up by some name calling and laughing and thank a big hand shake or hug its a good bonding experience.

cc: What do you see poker as in your future?
W: I would like to play poker in the future. I see it as a great game, but family, school, and a career come first.

cc: What advice would you give teenagers when it comes to poker?

cc: What advice would you give teenagers when it comes to poker?
Just do not and I repeat do not get addicted to the game. You will lose your whole bankroll. Also do not play outside of you limit because when teens stress gets up they get real stupid and aggressive. I have had enough time to fix this for me.

cc: What would you say to concerned parents regarding poker? Should they be concerned if their son plays poker?
I can’t say much about this subject because I play and my parents let me and I haven’t seen parents of these "Poker Kids". If you are concerned than just sit them down and talk to them about it. At least try to get them into smaller sized games because teens are so Anti-parent you will probably not get them out of the game. They should mainly be worried if there kid is always broke (if he funds his buy-in). If you fund his habits than that gives you the power in their poker games so you can put a stop to it if you are worried.

I look forward to meeting the Wolverine on the felt soon. Thanks for everyone dropping by. Couple final posts in the series. Thanks especially to all those with great comments on their approach and challenges.

24 April 2006

Children and Poker: Joe Sebok

Joe Sebok

A busy weekend of work with a little bit of poker. I had to work all day Saturday and most of Sunday on stuff for my meeting Tuesday, ending up leaving the office last night around 10:30. Went to church and lunch yesterday at Zaxby's, and had a great date with Sweetie Saturday, our standard of Qdoba and a movie. I'm not sure why Lucky Number Sleven hasn't gotten more positive vibes as it was really good, in the vein of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

I've only played around 1,500 hands in April with probably 450 of that being low limit, and I'm up $1397.68 for the month. I started a $10/20 table at Party last night while printing the stuff for Tuesday (starting a table means that you go to a table with no one and have the patience for others to join). There was a 20 person waiting list for tables, which I think is a flaw in the system (they should force a table open with that many players as most people have Waiting List/9 or 8 players indicated). 190 hands, down around $250 at one point after set under set, several bad things, then topped off with me capping with 44 and three others, betting into a board of AQ8 and two spades with everyone calling, then checking down KhTd only to find everyone with these hands: Th9s (takes the pot), 8c7c, and 66. I assumed I was destined for the scrap heap, but I fought back to even. The big winner at the table was two to my left with 48.95/8.45 stats (ending up $761), but the following hand had to be one of the more bizarre hands I've played. I'm on the button with KK, UTG+1 raises, wacko calls, I 3-bet, call, wacko caps, and we call. Flop comes 464 rainbow, check/wacko bets/I raise/fold/wacko raises/I cap/call. Kh makes the complete rainbow, wacko checks/I bet/wacko raises/I raise/wacko calls. 5d on the river: wacko bets/I raise/wacko raises/I cap/wacko calls with 8c7c for the made gutshot straight. Well, that's some faith for sure, and believe me I was cringing thinking I was about to see 44 and hoping for 66, but c'mon.

You may or may not know Joe Sebok, but you know his dad (Barry Greenstein). Joe and I started corresponding probably a year ago (OK, what that really means is that he replies to my emails). Joe had a great WSOP, cashing three times last year, but has struggled in tourneys this year. I posed a few questions to him regarding children and poker, and his thoughts are interesting.

cc: Tell us about poker growing up for you.
Joe: Poker for me was nonexistent when I was a child. It was what my father did for a living, but of course it wasn't as accepted as it is now, so I felt very strange telling anyone about it. He really kept me completely out of it, though. We never even had a conversation about the game until I was 27 and decided to go into it myself. He couldn't have made a better decision regarding this as I was able to go out and have so many amazing life experiences that I wouldn't have had I been pursuing poker that early. There is a certain kind of obsession that accomanies one's delving into the game. I understand that now and am glad that I didn't have to contend with it when I was young.

cc: I know you don't have kids, but what are your thoughts about young people playing poker?
Joe: I certainly tell all young people that email me for advice to make sure that they are pursuing other interests as well as poker, and that it is very likely that they will never play poker professionally, and that it can really damage their lives. I often use the analogy of professional sports. For every athlete theys ee on TV, there are usually more than a thousand that failed on that path.

cc: You're exposed to the latest hot shot kids coming up. What do you see regarding young poker players?
Joe: Younger players are just more aggressive than their predecessors. They often rely more on being able to pressure their opponents rather than actually playing the mathematical component of the game. As well, they often don't understand the etiquette of the game and have learned their own from watching tournaments on TV. This is usually not a good thing.

Tomorrow, we'll hear from a current high school player, Wolverine. You may have read of his exploits from Otis or BadBlood in G-Vegas. Some interesting perspectives from a teen who turns out right. I'll have some final comments later in the week.

And with that, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
  • Whitney: Whitney likes his poker and the ladies for sure. This younger whipper-snapper has some stuff on the David Williams porn foot fetish escapade. I found the same link from someone's blog early last week but didn't feel too comfortable pimping it in the middle of the Children and Poker series. Pauly had stuff on it this weekend, and it was supposedly the talk of the WPT Championship at the Bellagio. You might have to dig a bit for poker on Whitney's site, though.
  • A Letter Never Sent: This collaborative blog includes some very interesting cats: a sportswriter/poker player covering the dreadful Orioles (FJ Delgado). OK, I was going to list stuff about the different folks (ten in all), but I can't really figure out who they are. A variety of different topics, including music, sports, and some poker. Worth a look.
  • Anna Benson: I realize I'll have to backtrack a bit to find another link. This is former Mets pitcher Kris Benson's wife's poker site. I think they may be back together. I think she lives in the ATL. I don't have the energy to figure it all out, but there you go.
  • Mars Needs Guitars: I'm only venturing into this link under Music Blogs that Rock Hard for the benefit of BadBlood. Groups they talk about that I've never heard (all actually): The Sky Drops, Alcian Blue, Languis. I'm not into most of it, but what an exciting time in music, where virtually anyone can create an audience.
  • An Aquarium Drunkard: Alot of album covers, highlighted songs downloadable stuff.
  • Come Pick Me Up: Four somehow related people (lady from Minnesota, guys from Brooklyn, San Fran, and Edinburgh). Lizzy from the land of the Twins seems to bear the burden of posting. Music and other stuff.
  • Cable and Tweed: A blogger from the ATL, some good photos from his weekend trip to Chicago, more music. Highlights include U2 demo's while they were trolling for a record contract.
You never know where you'll end up from here. Thanks for stopping by. Big post from IGGY as well, so hop there.

ADDENDUM: I'm sure everyone's experienced this, but it looks like we've had a major Blogger meltdown today. Kept trying to post this throughout the morning to no avail, so sorry for any inconvenience (including the double post currently up).

21 April 2006

Children and Poker: One Theory

It's always great when one has a positive impact on young, warped minds. As you know, I err toward the side of introspection on poker, leaving strategy and hand analysis for those better qualified. I am, to put it mildly, greatly humbled that my exploration of poker and our relationships, as well as this current work on kids, has profoundly moved Jordan at High on Poker. Jordan has been compelled to scribe a stunningly insightful post: Pets and Poker. With thorough research and the profound knowledge that can only come from loving pets too much, Jordan bluntly confronts the hidden, murky world of the impact our poker play has on pets. If I had some small part in encouraging Jordan in this endeavor, well, that in and of itself is reward enough.

You've seen Gary Loveman, you may or may not recognize the name, but he is one of the key players in the world of the poker revolution as we know it. I'll try to stick to the facts then note where those facts end and where my speculation begins. Until 1998, Loveman was a Professor at Harvard Business School, excelling in his instruction of service excellence and customer understanding while also serving clients to assist them in their business improvement efforts. In 1998, one of his clients, Harrah's, tapped him to serve as their Chief Operating Officer. He became CEO in 2003. Loveman's impact on the gaming community has been profound, including Harrah's introduction of the first player reward program which moved the world of comps to the masses. His approach to gaming has been significantly different than competitors (although they are now in hot pursuit). While most casinos chased the whales, those critical few big gamers ready to drop six and seven figures over a weekend, Loveman felt like the emerging mid-market could be the way to greater profit. Focus on the non-flashy regular gamer, listen to them, serve their needs, increase their frequency to play, keep them in the Harrah's network.

Having said that, the Echo Boomer demographic has confronted the gaming industry with some very significant challenges. To put it bluntly, the twentysomething crowd has been exposed to gaming like no generation since maybe the Wild West days in the 1800's. The frustration that has confronted casino executives is that they have been much more difficult to rope into gaming. Slots, that money-printing cash cow, is something that has been fairly repulsive to the young crowd. The video game generation became bored quickly with slots, looking at this most lucrative gaming space as an old folks, blue haired pursuit. The younger crew would rather hit the nightclubs of Vegas than the craps table. More and more revenue is being derived on what previously were peripheral necessities for casinos: lodging, meals, and entertainment. For the hot spots, like the Palms and the Hard Rock, slots may only comprise less than 40% of the casino real estate.

Finally, the recipe of the weekend. This should again be very easy to knock out.
  • Cut two pounds of boneless chicken breasts. Season with a pinch of cumin grains, oregano, crushed garlic, pepper, and Worcestshire sauce (fifteen shakes should be good). Cumin is very powerful, so less is more here.
  • Chop bell peppers and onions separately
  • Dump the chicken in a big skillet or pot on medium heat, stir regularly and cook for 15 minutes or so. You can cut the bigger pieces of chicken with a fork to see if they are done.
  • Put some olive oil or vegetable oil in a skillet on medium heat, and brown the onions.
  • Follow instructions for tortillas (get the small and large sizes; I wrap them in aluminum foil and heat)
  • Cut whatever else you want: black olives, jalapenos, lettuce, cheeses; have salsa ready
That's it. Again, very easy to do on any day. You can also cut everything early on a Saturday so that you just knock it out over 45 minutes at the end of the day. Have a good weekend, and good luck if you're playing this weekend.

ADDENDUM: Some incredible stuff from Law School Dropout on his mother being accused of being a bot, including the closing of her account by Stars. 2+2 thread here followed by final resolution thread. Incredible stuff.

19 April 2006

Children and Poker: Findings

I'm normally a post daily kind of guy, but I got really busy the last couple days hopping to Raleigh. Didn't get to play Raymer heads-up (never heard from him, which I can understand his reluctance). Knocked out in third in a SNG when I had the chip lead, getting all our money in with the same villain on successive hands (he came over the top pre-flop with 5s6s to my QTo, catching his flush with trips kicker to my three pair; then I come over the top pre-flop with A3o to his Jd8d, which he flushes out on the flop). I had one of these stakes fraidy-scared sessions in the hotel where I didn't want to put too much at risk, just trying to eak out at least up $100 and get my Party bankroll over $4k. Got it to $3,985.31 playing PLHE $0.1/0.25 after getting up a bit in NLHE. I'm not sure why I didn't want to play at any significant stakes, but I feel fine dropping significantly down on occasion. I had everything I could have wanted as well: hotel room, TV, great internet connection, but for some reason I just didn't feel like jumping into a 10/20 table. Who knows.

This series is more difficult for me, maybe because I'm doing more legwork, I don't know. Some great comments on the initial post, so I really appreciate all of the perspective and experience. Please continue to chime in, as it really adds value for me as well as others.

First, some anecdotal information. Poker has taken the place of laser tag and dj's for many a young man's birthday party entertainment. For many teenagers, poker has become the Friday night alternative destination of choice rather than cruising or hitting some parking lot. As Lloyd Dobler said, "
If you guys know so much about women, how come you're here at like the Gas 'n' Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere?" Today, he might find these guys in someone's basement.
Just as ESPN and the Travel Channel originally sucked many of us in, it has provided a seductive invitation to America's youth. Tons of articles in popular press about youth and poker.
  • Today's youth are swept up by the glamorization of the game. Barry Shulman says poker offers teens five things: social interaction, especially for the socially awkward; help with math and other number-related skills, an understanding of risk/reward scenarios, lessons on how to read looks and gestures, and insights into your own limits of self-control. (USA Today)
  • "This is Cabbage Patch territory," says Scott Kling, VP of Sales and Marketing for US Playing Card Co. " Supermarkets are calling us, which they never did before." (USA Today)
  • The number of high school and college students calling gambling helplines in America has doubled in the past two years. "I have been in this field for 30 years, and I've never seen anything as crazy as this," said Ed Looney, who runs the New Jersey Council on Compulsive Gambling. (The Observer)
  • Research by Professor Jeff Derevensky of McGill University's International Centre for Yough Gambling in Montreal found that teenage gamblers were almost three times as likely as adults to become addicted. "Adolescents tend to be impulsive and think of themselves as risk-takers. The adrenaline rush is there whether they are winning or losing." (The Observer)
  • The question is "Do young adults have the maturity to know if it's simply a hobby or an addiction?" University of Chicago child psychologist Dr. Bennett Leventhal has an opinion. "There are a great many concerns because of their tender age. First of all, they don't have the judgement. Second, in most cases it's not their money. But most importantly, they can be influenced by other people in wayst that adults usually cannot be influenced because of their maturity." (ABC7Chicago.com)

Some quick facts regarding children and gambling/poker.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania
  • Estimate of 2.9 mil young people gamble on cards weekly.
  • 37% of high school males play poker at least once per month, this jumps to 50% after high school
  • 14.0% of high school males play poker (vs. 1.6% of high school girls)
  • About 2.5% of males between 14-20 play online poker weekly
  • Four symptoms of problem gambling: preoccupation, over-spending, tolerance, and withdrawal (meaning pulling back from society, not cashing out). In 2004, 44.9% of young people who gambled weekly reported at least one of the problem symptoms. In 2005, this increased to 54.5%.
National Council on Problem Gambling
  • This is the first generation of kids to grow up with
    • Unprecedented levels of gambling (in 1976, less than a dozen states allowed gambling including lotteries; today, 48 states plus more than 250 tribes)
    • Pervasive promotion and marketing
    • High rates of implicit parental endorsement and social acceptance
Most everyone here shares an in-depth knowledge of poker, have seen the seductiveness and obsession risk up close and personal. For many of us, we are fathers and mothers or even aunts and uncles, trying to do the best we can at something few of us probably feel qualified to be doing: raising children. Sorry that this series is not nearly as elegant and fluid, but I've really had a difficult time putting my thoughts together on the matter. We'll see if I do a better job tomorrow. Again, please give your thoughts and opinions on the subject as alot of very valuable stuff.

17 April 2006

Children and Poker: Preface

I can tell you that this is a series I have avoided writing nor wanted to write, the topic of poker and our children. I've avoided it because I'd prefer not to explore the topic, would rather stay focused on myself rather than my boys, would rather stay in the dark to any facts that may change my pursuits. Having said that, I'm going to tackle this as straightforwardly as I can and with as much research and thought as I have time to put forward.

I think it's important to give you a bit more background about me and my own childhood as it will undoubtedly shape some of the series. I was born at a very young age...OK, scratch that. I was born to a very young mother and a recently graduated college father. My parents were fairly normal and typical for the time, I would assume. They were casual drinkers (most of my childhood was in a dry county in Mississippi, meaning hard liquor had to be obtained from outside county lines). My mother was a smoker until I graduated college. There were few other vices available, at least in my own cocoon. I was very religious and had a strong faith, and this led me to make certain life choices. I have had maybe three sips of wine and a couple sips of champagne in my life at toasting occasions but didn't inhale. That made me unusual but not abnormal in our town and a certified freak at Tulane. Growing up it was a religious thing (Southern Baptists don't drink), but during college and afterwards I just decided that I didn't drink. I've never really come up with an explanation that I'm comfortable with, I just didn't. I may have inhaled pot in the second-hand air of a Rick James concert, but that was about as close to drugs as I've come as well. And my parents did host a casino night with my mother's sorority chapter (this really weird sorority for grown women who either weren't in sororities or didn't go to college, I'm not sure which), but that was play money literally.

Why all this rhetoric about me? It somewhat shapes my belief system when it comes to my own theories on raising children. I'll state this through the series, but let me be blunt that I believe I am not an authority on this subject. I've never raised a child. I've never seen a child happily married, graduate college, become homeless, tell me he's gay, die, have a child, lose a job, be convicted of a crime--none of this stuff, so I won't tell you any great truths. I'll just try and lay out facts that I can find, put forward my own questions, and hopefully help me figure this out. As always, the better minds and experiences belong to others who happen to stop by here, those with children or yet to have them.

Why tackle this? A few recent events have spurred this. First, we have JJProdigy (Josh Field), the multi-accounter who lost his $140k Party accounts (and happened to be too young to vote at age 17). Next, we have the short list of players in their late teens who have either scored huge wins or play online at the highest levels, winning hundreds of thousands of dollars, pounds, and euros from the best the web has to offer. All of this is hint enough (if I didn't need it) that I'm sitting with high school kids regularly when I'm at these virtual tables.

Fine. Now let's switch things to me. As I discussed my Relationship and Poker series with my wife, her first comment surprised me: her greatest concern about me and poker was that my poker play could be having or might have a negative influence on the boys. We've played poker with my ten and eight year olds for over a year (or should I say I have). We play just with chips or tourneys where you get prizes depending on where you finish. They've railbirded me at times watching me with my laptop, cheering on my big pots and commiserating with me over my aces getting cracked. The middle son has the same name as a leading pro with the exact spelling even, and his All-In nickname (rarely used) surfaces only occasionally, although it is appropriate. In our games, the blinds are never anything easy, always complex like 12/24 or 17/34, something that makes them have to figure out how to call a 138 re-raise when they have 42 in the pot. Responsible parenting or potential endangerment? No different than golf or leading one of my boys astray? Creating the next Phil Ivey, Stuey Ungar, or Case Williams (or some other guy who's name has been long forgotten)?

The new series, children and poker. We'll explore emerging facts and trends, look to experts to help us understand our options and risks, and hopefully this will be helpful to all of us. Thanks for being here, and here's to our journey with this topic.

ADDENDUM: lol is overused, but after you read the line from Poker Chronicles, I can't imagine not laughing audibly (go to Bellagio Day 1). "I thought I had a four flush. I had that refractive eye surgery two months ago and can't see suits." So that's why you inst-call and catch your gutshot to cripple me in this Bellagio tourney. Got it, thanks.

Weekend Recap

What does it mean when you can't pull the trigger after a continuation bet when you aren't playing with money, you can get more chips if you need to, and you aren't playing for anything? It means you (I) are (am) a big wuss. Four players yesterday after Easter lunch: Sweetie, marshman or Marshall-Will-and-Holly (brother-in-law, BadBlood's nickname), the Big Guy (our ten-year old son), and myself. The horrible, horrendous check/check turn and river by me sees marshman's A5 take my raised pot with nothing. It's hard for the Big Guy to play his best when he keeps running to the computer to help All-In with Empire Earth, so he was pretty much a non-factor (that and being card dead). Best pot of the afternoon was when Sweetie bet a scary three-club flop which marshman and I called (something like ATx), Jd on the turn, then Qs on the river. She bets, marshman raises and she goes all-in, which elicits an insta call from Kc. She them beautifully slowrolls Qc3c for the flopped flush. I almost cried. I made one nice all-in after she had bet a rag board and marshman called, she called and marshman laid down an overpair to my TPTK that ended up two-pair on the river. He wanted me to write about the end of the game when I screamed, "I'm going to blog about that!, but frankly I don't remember any of it except that I had to put all of his chips up and I didn't have any.

I wateched a WPT tourney from last year with Phil Ivey, Negreanu (who wins), David Williams, and Josh Arieh. Arieh made what had to be the absolute worst play in the history of poker when the river gives the board a straight to a 6, Negreanu bets his 6, then Arieh comes over the top for another 1/6th of the pot or something. Negreanu says, "That would be pretty sick if you had 86. OK, I call," in this really strange, almost parental tone. Just brutal (I'm pretty sure it was WPT Borgata 2005).

Sunday's NY Times had an article about the state of poker. Some interesting facts (WPT losing 36% of its audience, total buy-in's up significantly last year). Phil Gordon, late of Celebrity Poker Showdown, says he makes more now from speaking engagements and events than from poker. There is definitely a glut of television programming, and WPTE (stock for World Poker Tour) is a fiasco, but as many of you I think we have life still left in this bird.

I'm working on a new series which I hope to have started this week. It is one that is particularly near and dear to me and should be very interesting. More later.

No poker play this weekend. What does that mean? Is that bad? I dunno. This was a weekend for family, and that's what I did. My father-in-law, Marshman, the Big Guy, and I went to see Georgia Tech pound Clemson in baseball Saturday (they then won 22-4 yesterday without us!). We need to do that more as college sports are so accessible. The Big Guy had a great time just hanging. ADDENDUM: The game stops in like the 3rd inning with Tech in the field. I'm looking around and suddenly realize that the Tech 2nd basemen is throwing up about three yards into the outfield behind his position. He does this for probably three minutes, no one going to check on him or anything. Then he's gagging the rest of the inning, stays in, no problem. When we got back, Marshman played soccer in the back yard with us (adding All-In), then I backed off when our guys played the Cambridge hooligans (the neighborhood behind our house). We prevailed 6-5 with the Big Guy holding his own against the twelve year olds, Marshman playing solidly (he's a solid player, now 27 or so), and All-In once again standing on his head in goal. The Little Guy assisted by chasing a ball near the Cambridge goal, as well as Angel (our Gordon Setter) and Abby (Marshman's Border Collie) disrupting things. The Cambridge hooligans actually didn't have much of a chance.

Then Easter service yesterday, with Sweetie and I having nursery duty for the main service (the Big Guy joined us). In-law's took the Little Guy and All-In back home. I have some sort of spellbinding way of stopping the crying almost-two year olds as I got seven of the twelve to shut up upon arrival. I had to change Noah's diaper. A couple of things about this. You really don't want to change anyone else's kid's diaper as it is strangely very gross compared to your own child's. Also, I took Noah's sandals off and they were absolutely putrid, just horrible. We were able to hold snacktime off until 45 minutes in. Snacktime kills a good fifteen minutes or so as you just keep shoving Ritz crackers in their mouths until they can't chew anymore.

I was pretty wired and maybe stressed for the week, so not in a very good state last night. We tried to watch the French Connection (winner of Best Picture for 1971), but Sweetie kept going to sleep and it was maybe a bit tedious. I don't know if we'll finish it, but maybe yes.

I have to travel to Raleigh Wednesday and hope to close on China in the next couple days. I hope today can be a great day. Until then, here is Monday's Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, where we leave this blog to see where the links take us.
  • Falstaff: Part of the fledgling Charlotte poker scene (really just G-Vegas without the charm and inbreeding from my understanding). Great writer, part of the inner sanctum.
  • Klopzi: An overweight lover (like me) trying to lose pounds and increase bankroll. Klopzi leaves good comments here, which I always appreciate, and has good stuff as well. Why no link to his site? I'm just lazy, I think, I don't know why. I should.
  • Law School Dropout: I've been here before several times, mostly when I hit from other folks' blogs. He dropped out of law school to play professionally, then went back to finish up while still plugging away. Higher limit play, which is always interesting to read. No links, so I have to search and search comments to find somewhere to head from here.
  • Poker Fund Investments: Again, another great blog that I don't hit often for some strange reason. fairnbalncd lives in Wyoming and loves his poker and his lady. GL with the new job.
  • threebet33: Eric lives in Vegas and plays poker. Look at the 5 April post, just a great post into his journey to Vegas, the atrophying of his life, his struggle when confronted with a downturn, and then a rebirth. Good stuff.
  • hempy: Paul Hempseed, British poker dude. Scraping away as the KSOP, twenty pounds at a time.
I've decided that today is going to be an incrementally more productive day than any day last week. Here's to that, and I hope you can crank it out today as well. Take care.

14 April 2006


Chat comment to me during a stud game: "csquard, what do you call with?" This was after I took down some pot in the brutal $0.25/0.50 Stud H/L game four-handed. Of course, I called with 29 in the hole and a 2 on board, but it was like $0.10. What do I call with? For the love of Felicia, how do I know what I call with? I either shove my dime or fold, then a bunch of cards come and I have to count with my left hand to see how many diamonds have come on each street. This is why I'll never be more than a pocket change stud player (although it is a decent way to kill twenty minutes).

OK, new feature will be Friday's Recipe, where I'll give you a recipe from my collection that is easy enough for me to make and will serve you quite a long time (also could get you some sweet additional poker time from your significant other if you can knock it out). My mom made a recipe book for me when I went to college, with recipes like Green Beans ("...open can, put in pot, turn to medium heat, salt/pepper/bacon grease to taste, 15-20 minutes), baked potato, and some advanced level dishes (buttermilk biscuits). Spaghetti is part of the cc core of dishes I can knock out to treat Sweetie and the boys. She's also adopted it, and it is so absolutely easy.
  • 3 cans tomato sauce (small), one can tomato paste (add can of water too), one can of diced tomatoes
  • Cook in pot with two bay leaves, oregano (a pinch, less is more here--shake in your hand first) and Italian seasoning, a little pepper (I never use salt, but you can throw in a pinch of salt), 1/2 teaspoon of garlic (get the small jar of chopped garlic)
  • Medium heat to bubble, then lower a bit, stirring every few minutes (20-30 minutes)
  • Options: brown 1 pound ground beef (drain grease), brown 1 pound of sliced Italian sausage
  • Noodles: bring water to a boil (pour in some salt and a few drops of olive oil), put spaghetti or linguini in the pot (either break in half or push down until it bends, then put the rest in), bring down heat a bit or be there to take the lid off (or you have to clean up the overboil afterwards), boil 5-7 minutes (just take a piece out and eat it until it's good for you), pour into callender (how do you spell that word? strainer)
That's it. You can throw in mushrooms, but we don't like them. It's extremely simple, extremely great, and you can knock it out in 30-45 minutes. Feeds 4-6. You can double the recipe no problem, then you'll just need to play with the spices a bit (taste with a spoon like they do on TV).

I have a couple secret sites that I go to, guilty pleasures you might call them. GoFugYourself I've written about before, but there just great (yesterday's post is titled The Jessifugcation of Ashlee). My new one that I've seen on a couple bloggers is New York Hack, pictures from a New York cab driver. I know I'm late to the party here (she gets 125-450 comments daily on this site), but it's pretty neat stuff to be sure.

Got to IM with willwonka last night during his HUC3. We were watching Survivor, which Will is a fan of also. No spoilers here, but this season may cause a significant shift in Survivor going forward. The one tribe, after getting numbers of 6-4 on the other tribe, have just methodically picked off the other tribe with no thought of anything. They don't even compete in the challenges, and the whole thing is very frustrating as the people are just horrible. Survivor now falls way behind 24 and Lost as must-see-TV (and American Idol). Any time I feel guilty about playing poker, all I have to do is turn on a TiVo'd Bones or Lord of the Rings and have my Sweetie watch David Boreanaz or Viggo Mortensen. We're watching LOTR2 Wednesday night after TiVo Lost, and I'm looking over at her and she's actually drooling in some sort of trance looking at Aragorn. Not exactly great for the ego for sure. I say something about David and Viggo, and she says something like "...no, it's Aragorn and Angel..." I then say, "Well, why do we watch Bones then?" She then wipes the drool from her chin and returns to her trance. PrimeTime Live tonight with Tom Cruise, which will complete the Evil Triumverate.

I have sitetracker on this blog to look at traffic, and I've started looking at top referrers daily to visit folks who have visited the site, as well as Google search terms. It's taken me to my poker buddies you see to the right, but also I'm able to visit blogs that I don't get too much. GuinPoker from Canada, Fat Dan, PokerShark, and Fat Bald Guy are a few that I've been to a few times that you should check out.

Two bits of good news yesterday which will complicate my life. I'm now 95% confident that the China project will go through (it's never a done deal until I have a signed scope of work, but I think we're there). That will be probably three trips to China over three months, which will screw up my soccer coaching. I'm assuming we'll kick things off the week of 28 April or the following week. The second was a videoconference interview with a headhunter regarding a VP position, corporate role at a $10bil company, direct report to a Vice Chairman. It would be tailor made for my background, would probably mean a relo, would be a probable segue into P & L/General Management roles but would mean moving every couple years.

My company and career have been in a real swamp-like holding pattern for probably a year now. I probably am at 30% individual capacity, never really challenged, able to keep money coming in but nothing great. I have no clients or prospects in the ATL or surrounding area, and I've lost most of the enthusiasm. I have structured the company to be able to close it if the right opportunity came along. This was after an interview with a headhunter representing a $20bil company, where the CEO (who had worked with me previously) said I was on his list of 25 people that he'd like to have work for him at some time. Neat stuff for sure, but I couldn't do anything at the time because of employees and long-term relationships with clients. I'll post a couple of ethical situations and my decisions next week that also may give you some insight as to where I've been and who I am, for what it's worth.

All that said, these are times for me that will hopefully get us to a point to really decide what's next. Could I create a process where I had billable work averaging $20k/month or big projects with big gaps, limited expenses (home office), and that's my life, should I get back into the corporate world with the uncertainty of moving around, or is there possibly something here in the ATL? All a good problem to have, I know, and we are blessed to have survived all this stuff. We'll see, and I'll keep you posted.

My goals for April so far are looking good: don't lose my bankroll and have a positive month. Due to my $0.85 stud loss yesterday, I needed $2.05 to proudly state that my bankroll was at $8k. Should be easy, right? Well, FullTilt $1/2 6-max (which everyone knows I don't play 6-max), and it's taken me forever to get unstuck trying to get somebody to give me $2.05. It took Kh9h flopping KK9 to finally push me over the top (you tend to get called down when you bet 96o and raise it when nothing hits three times in a row). I don't know how to play 6-max, stud, or Omaha, but I am now the proud owner of a $8,006.45 bankroll.

Have a good weekend and holiday everyone.

ADDENDUM: In the spirit of this weekend, an article on arguably the greatest band of our generation, U2.

13 April 2006

Melissa Gilbert Sex Google Search

I still get Google searched for Melissa Gilbert sex, so for those of you with Gilbert fantasies, here are some new photos. Also, a link to my bizarre sex with Melissa Gilbert dream post for those new to the site. PokerShark, if you read this, I think you're forgetting to check your moderated comments.

Another hour before going home yesterday, another quick $443 at $10/20. Most of it came from a VP$IP 40/14.29 two seats to my right. I quit believing after awhile and would play him very aggressive. One quick hand question that I have for the better players out there: would you 4-bet the river here?
Maniac and I call with three others in middle position (12%-er in between us), and I have 9h8h.
Flop comes Ts6cJh (check, bet, call,
raise, HERO 3-bet, fold, fold, call, raise, HERO call, call )
Kh on turn (
check, bet, HERO call, call )
Ah on river (
bet, call, HERO raise, 3-bet, fold, HERO calls)
Maniac shows 8dQd (straight), HERO shos 9h8h (flush)

Was that fraidy-scared play or just judicious? Would be interested in any thoughts (and sorry that I can't do a hand converter dealie to make it prettier, but I did spend ten minutes making the colors...) On a separate session comment, the three other biggest donators had the following stats: 20/12, 21.33/6.6, 25/15. I was able to 18.67/10.67 (I'm historically a 22.4/11.6 player). Second and third biggest winners were 16/14.67 and 14.67/10.67. 75 hands are a relatively small sample size, I understand, but most of the time I have to make assumptions with 25 hands then adjust.

My top referrers in March were as follows: Pauly, TripJax, Scurvy, Jordan, Linda, Otis et al, Will, Mark, and BadBlood. BadBlood has a neat contest going, so I'll join in here. I'll send my copy of Barry Greenstein's new book to the first person to pick five of my top 25 most played on my iPod (you get ten choices). Tiebreaker to person with the most.

I received a reply from Robert Varkonyi, the 2002 WSOP Main Event winner. This year was the pre-Moneymaker year, made more famous for the fact that Hellmuth had his head shaved when he stated that there was no way Varkonyi would win. We've seen him again when ESPN featured his wife, Olga, lasting fairly far in the 2005 Main Event. This is all I could get out of him: "My wife Olga thinks that we don't spend enough time playing poker." I think I saw a 2+2 poll once that had him as the worst main event winner, but I'm not quite sure if that's true or not.

12 April 2006

How do You Prevent Laser Focus?

We watched Nell, which I had somehow TiVo'd, last night. First, I couldn't stop laughing for the first five minutes, with Jodie Foster wailing, "Shamina mena sehhhh," and other nonsense over and over. Liam Neeson and Natash Richardson, who are married, also starred in this movie. Liam's character is a big pervert, basically wanting to jump poor ole Nell if the camera's would stop rolling. He's pretty horrible in this. It's a great movie if you need your wife to bawl continuously so you can play poker later, as Sweetie cried for probably the last hour or so.

I've been yearning for Quisp cereal since my childhood, and I just discovered that it was reintroduced in 1999 via the web. Made by Quaker Oats, Quisp was a competitor to Cap'n Crunch, which has a slightly malty aftertaste that can stay with you after your second bowl. A box of Quisp can easily be eaten in one Saturday morning sitting. I would normally have a Cool Whip bowl filled with Quisp, eat it all, add Quisp to existing milk, then repeat until I had to add milk. Quisp had none of the sturdiness of the Cap'n, with it's flying saucer-like shape turning into mush after five minutes. There could be few things worse for a growing boy to eat than Quisp, and I loved every bite.

I snuck in a 193 hand, 140 mintue session on Party $10/20 yesterday. I got stuck $400 and ended +$456. I continue to struggle balancing attacking the fish with playing solidly. I had one bizarro guy three to my left, who got my attention with the following hand early in the session. He posted after missing his blinds and I'm dealt AA. UTG had called and I raised it up in middle position. Bizarro calls and the limper calls, so three to the flop. Qh5h7c comes, and the limper bets/I raise and am called by Bizarro, with the limper folding (?). 4s on turn I bet/called, then 8c on the river I bet/called by Th6h. A couple hands later he beats AJ with A3o on a rag board with the 3 on the flop, he then limps with Q9o in my bb, I bet the flop of 67T with Q7, he calls the 9 on the turn then checks behind me with the K on the river. He then takes calls after limping and betting a couple flops. A couple orbits later from the bb I call a raiser and a couple callers with 6s4h, flop comes 5h6h7h and I bet then three-bet the guy to my immediate left, Ad comes on the turn and I bet and am raised, then 4c comes on the river and I check/call his KhJh. KK vs. AA an orbit later and I'm in my stuck position. I tend to just stare constantly at the Bizarro guy, not really tilt/anger but definitely affecting me. I've overcome loosening way up (putting aside the brilliant 46o and I'm folding tons), but I just keep focusing on this guy. To my detriment? It affects me for sure, so that isn't good.

Anyways, I then limp/call the bb with JTo and catch my gutshot on the turn (QQ) to get back going. I then win a monster pot with KK, four are in pre-flop capped 32J with two clubs and four stay with the two bets (I'm the last actor and raise), 5s just gets one guy out, then 3h has one caller with 99. I flop a set later for a nice pot, flop top set with J25 only to have to lay down after 43 come. Monster hand comes when I cold call three bets with AhJh and two others, flop comes Ks9hQh, and there is a check, bet/I raise, checker three-bets/bettor caps and we both call. Th on the turn brings the checks to me, and 5s and they again both check/call with AdKd (first position) and the black AA (second position). I'm then up and down, filling up on the turn with 97o from the bb, getting called down by 88 to my AK and overcards that don't hit me, AK holding up vs. AJo when I bet it out and nothing hit. Then a truly bizarre hand. A fairly straightforward guy raises and I call with KJo with five seeing the flop. TK3 rainbow gets checked to me, which I bet with the initial raiser raising (check/raise), and I slow down HU with a call. 5 and he bets/I call, then 6 same, when he drags the pot with 56s. Then a sprint to the finish line for me, with AA holding up, Ah8h with 6s9h7h from sb with 5h coming on the river (T7o stayed in), then I end with 88 raising from middle position and called two to my left; flop comes 242 and I bet/raised/three-bet/capped (bb folds after checking the flop). 7 and I check/call, then and A leads to check/check for the 66. A big chunk of the upside coming in the last fifteen hands.

It is easy to become enamored with your PokerTracker data and table selection (see Poker Gnome and Poker Cats for recent discussions). I tend not to do too much with table selection when I'm waiting, just clicking on the wait for any table with 8 or 9 players. Putting aside true maniac tables, what I'm starting to believe in full-table limit is that the low-pot tables vs. high-pot tables are just recent variance driven, meaning that there is no waiting list for the low-pot tables who are normally assumed to be a collection of rocks/sharks when often I find they are just a collection of random players. When I was using Poker Edge, I definitely got altered in my play when looking for players with seductive stats. I do less of it now just relying on PokerTracker, but I do agree that it is best in limit to understand who the tight players are, the loose players, then proceed. I'm able to be more aggressive with my solid hands post-flop, three-betting flops and re-raising turns when I have the better hands. I don't use HUD/Gametime+ or whatever it's called (anyone who can help with this would be great), just PokerTracker. I also can't compress PokerTracker due to some bug it has.

So that's it for today: Nell, Quisp, focusing too much on the lucky bizarro wack-job, being stuck then getting unstuck, tools. One final note: go and get Bluff Magazine immediately. I finished the Michael Craig write-up on Andy Beal vs. the Corporation Part I, which ends with Beal taking their bankroll with the final session vs. Ted Forrest. He does just a great job getting us to the felt, but frankly the pot sizes become a blur after a while ($700k, $1.1mil, $1.4mil). Part II next month will introduce our new character, Mr. Phil Ivey. Can't wait for the month to get here...

11 April 2006

No Root Canal!

There are few folks as fraidy-scared at going to the dentist than I, so my trip yesterday filled me with anxiety. The quick recap: I had a temporary filling put in ten weeks ago. If the medication worked, I could have a permanent filling put in; if not, root canal. I haven't had any pain with the tooth, which I took as not a bad sign but not necessarily positive. I was on a draw, I understood that, but with the pot odds it was a no-brainer. I make my appointment at 1:30 yesterday (although I tried to figure out how to get out of it). No luck, so I keep my eyes closed through the procedure, trying to pick up on some sort of tell to tip me off that I'm out of the woods. I take the further drilling and scraping as that tell, and I was spot-on. No root canal, in and out in thirty minutes. Dentists are only 1000% better than when I was growing up. Back then, most dentists had fingers the size of kielbasa, no gloves, all smoked, and they were pretty much winging it when it came to numbing you up. The shots hurt, the drilling hurt, everything was horrible. Much improved now, but I think you have to go every six months, it really is mandatory for prevention and stuff.

Several folks are in the midst of downward slides. 2+2 threads on largest loss and a 90k losing session may not make you feel better, but they are a bit sobering to say the least. I've started writing some articles for a poker website, doing a series on players making the jump to playing professionally. I'm amazed by a couple of folks that I'm working on now for the next articles, 21 years old, with five- and six-figure months. It definitely gives me the impression that I've just stumbled into some sort of big video game contest, this online poker phenomenon. And maybe that's what this really is, figuring out how to beat PacMan or Call of Duty or something rather than implied pot odds and position. I don't think that's the case, but maybe it's more like that than I'd like to think.

Below is a response to the Relationships and Poker series from Dave, a new visitor here. Some interesting perspectives and a different angle, so I thought you'd like to see it. If you or your spouse would like to email thoughts to me, please feel free to email me at csquard@yahoo.com.

Just started reading your blog a couple months ago when Felicia linked to it for some reason and enjoy it greatly. I am impressed at the thought you put into this subject of poker and our significant others, and the way you are able to get those thoughts across. I am light years behind in writing ability like you and some of the other "big name" bloggers.

Although for the last 18 months or so I have been a winning player, I would categorize my game as C+ or B-. I've been playing what I'd call serious poker for a little over 2 years. I guess that makes me part of the WPT boom. Before that, it was just invite 6 people over, dealers' choice drinkfest. Last year was my first profitable year from poker and that was just under $10k. I think my situation is a bit different than most of the bloggers (or poker players) out there. My wife doesn't play very often at all online. Occasionally, she'll make a deposit, or I'll make a transfer to her, when there is a specific tournament that our friends are playing.

As a rule, I don't play online weeknights. I will still log on most nights to read blogs and my two primary forums, but generally I won't play Monday-Thursday. We both work, it's our relaxing time together. It's our TV time. I may read a poker book or magazine if she's watching one of "her" shows in TiVO. Included in this group are Trading Spaces, While you Were Out, Dancing or Skating with anyone famous, or any other show with washed up actors or any miscellany of shows in the top 10 on TLC or HGTV. We usually eat dinner together every night. I tape nearly every poker show on TV. Since I am a chronic insomniac, I will usually watch these or do my heavy poker reading after she's gone to bed, which is usually between 10:00 and 10:30. I can think on one hand the instances where my online play conflicted with our personal plans. Usually that was when I qualified for a big weekend tournament that I didn't have much choice about the time. I never make plans to play a specific tournament on the weekend. With so many sites and tournaments out there, if I find myself with a free afternoon, I've never had much trouble finding one to play.

When it comes to live poker though, we nearly always play together. We go to Vegas 7 or 8 times a year and will put in a combined 30 hours in a weekend. We always play at the same table whenever possible. Since we live in the LA area, we will usually be at Commerce or Hustler one out of three or four weekends, on average. I guess in this respect I am really lucky, and I do realize it. No one knows more than I do that I have the coolest wife ever. I've always had an addictive personality. I'm not sure that's the right word, but whenever I get a new interest, I dive into it and learn as much as I can. I guess I don't really do anything halfway. I was like that with poker, and signed up on Party Poker from the ad during the first season of the WPT and began getting my butt kicked, I decided to change that, so I started reading as much as I could, and losing. Maybe in the beginning, it was a problem, which is how we came up with the "no weekday" rule.

Very often, players at a table will make comments that they wish their wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend would come out and play like we do. We play completely different styles, but both seem to make some money playing. Possibly part of the reason it isn't a problem is the money we play with. We have kind of a funky budget setup that we pool all our money and each get a certain amount to spend on whatever we want. We both have different interests. She is into scrapbooking and photography, while I like volleyball or games. This is the money we gamble with. If I lose my butt in craps or poker, it's less volleyball tournaments I can play or video game I can buy. If she loses, there goes the new lens for her camera. We buy all our toys with gambling money and I have no delusions about getting rich playing poker, but I do get a lot of things I could never justify buying with "community" money. By having our finances structured this way, we have never had an argument about money. We have both agreed on a plan for our finances to make sure we don't have to work into our sixties before we can enjoy life.

A couple years ago we had a major scare with her health and it kind of not only provided a new point of view for both of us, it really changed her attitude. Before, she was very conservative and resistant to change. She's been at her job for 18 years and hasn't liked it since I met her 9 years ago. She's only lived in 3 houses ………. ever. She lived in the house where she grew up for 32 years, keeping it even after her mom passed away until after we were engaged. It took getting engaged to move in together so we could save for our own home where we lived for the first 2 years we were married, and now the home we live in we bought about 4 years ago. Since her cancer, she is much less afraid of taking risk. "We can always make more money," she will say. We have invested much more, and last fall bought a rental property in Las Vegas. Not only is this an investment, but it did let us write off over $5k in Vegas trips last year. We plan to buy 1 or 2 more properties this year. I'm not sure if it clears up at all your question of how affects relationships, but I think it does give a perspective that's out of the norm.

Thanks, Dave, for this. I picked up my Bluff Magazine at Borders yesterday on my way to the dentist. This has the cover story of Michael Craig's Part I recap of Andy Beal vs. the Corporation. A must read of the $50k/100k sessions. I've also been catching up on new WPT shows. Courtney Friel is much better at her work than Shania was, although Shania is a good bit dreamier than Courtney. I haven't seen Ms. Friel in person, but Ms. Hiatt had this approachable girl-next-door thing going on. I've quit watching Celebrity Poker Showdown, but I'm sure I'll take a peak when the new version comes out with Hellmuth replaces Phil Gordon as co-host.


09 April 2006

Light Weekend and G-Vegas Post Mortem

My first royal flush plus quads and I end up only +$186 for the one $10/20 session Saturday. The royal wasn't a huge pot, raising with AsJs with two callers, flop comes 6hQsTs and I'm raised, Kc comes on turn and I check but get checked behind, then Ks comes on river. I pull the hesitant internet bet and am called by 5d6s. Some big leaks chasing plus QQ vs JJ catching a straight on the river lowered the session, but I'll take the booked win.

Wrap-up from the G-Vegas week:
  • Best part of the week was having the Big Guy (my ten-year old) sitting next to me for nine holes on Friday. I slopped it around a good bit for sure, but his enthusiasm and hugs between shots was just so special.
  • BadBlood's game was a great time and hopefully the first of many.
  • Horseback riding with the Big Guy and All-In (our eight-year old). I used to ride when we would visit our cousins when I was little, but it's something we never see anymore. Will probably do more this summer.
  • Monterrey's. Nice.
  • Could we and should we live there in G-Vegas? I'm fairly certain that I'll be home-officing. Would a smaller place like G-Vegas be a better lifestyle? Would it be a nice place to continue the company with nothing connecting us to the ATL? Is it healthy to be that near to family? We'll be figuring this out over the next few months.
  • Golf vs. poker. I must admit that I enjoy golf more than poker. I don't know which I'm better at. I'm somewhere around a 10-12 handicap in golf, shooting in the low 80's most of the time. I don't know what that correlates to in poker necessarily, maybe about the same in limit, I'm not sure.
I have to go back to the dentist to see if I'll have the completed filling from ten weeks ago or root canal. I'm a big baby anyways, so I'm not looking forward to it in general. I'll let you know what happens Monday PM. Here's Monday's Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon:
  • Poker and Liquor: TeamScottSmith and Shep were at the G-Vegas game, and I had a chance to chat with Shep briefly before we settled in. He was previously a chef at a fancy exclusive club in G-Vegas that I'd been to a couple times. It's again one of the things I like about live poker, being able to meet people that I wouldn't normally bump into. These brothers seem like good guys for sure.
  • Bobby Bracelet: Playboy Mansion photos, etc. I need to check this out more, so I'll put it on my list to hit. A tragic story of a friend of his posted last week also.
  • A Chick and a Chair: I've been to Joanne's site before, and she's now in Vegas on a trip. A lot of photos of Calgary, which is a bad place for me. I was almost deported from Calgary the first time I traveled there in 1992. Long story, but it was pre-NAFTA and they were threatening to send me back to the US (not necessarily where I flew from).
  • yestbay: David is a Texan working away at this game, playing in bar tourneys as well as railbirding blogger tourneys.
  • Poker through the Eyes of an Amateur: Matt has played in recent blogger tourneys, working to maximize his bankroll against those donkey-fish-gay-poker-bloggers (of course not me). GL, Matt.
  • Road Warrior: Shark has alot going on for sure, so I'll have to study on him in the future.
ADDENDUM: In case you missed it as well, Rocco Mediate, our favorite poker-playing golfer, had a brutal 10 on #12, jumping from -4 to +3. Article today said his back was gone by #9. Very unfortunate for him, although if Raymer stayed with him for the weekend he's probably feeling some pain as well. I played behind this year's winner, Phil Mickelson, at Grayhawk in Scottsdale several years ago. He's an absolute sports junkie, and spent his time after the round in Phil's Grill chatting up his group about the NFL (consultants from maybe PWC who I think sponsored him at the time).

BadBlood mentioned Land of the Lost. LOTL was one of my favorites growing up. I remember racing home from PeeWee football to see the new Saturday shows. I was a Superfriends guy with Aquaman as my favorite, and I always watched LOTL. I never had a thing for Holly, maybe because she whined so very much or that she wasn't exactly a hottie. My top kid hotties growing up: most of the girls in Eight is Enough, Kristy McNichol in Family, Kate Jackson in Charlie's Angels (OK, I was a geek), maybe Jo on Facts of Life, Winnie on the Wonder Years (absolutely most definitely). I don't think I had a thing for Jaime Sommers, the Bionic Woman, but I can't remember. I do think I had the hots for all three daughters in Petticoat Junction, although I'm not sure when I watched this. I watched Days of our Lives growing up from about 1969-1983 or so. You can watch off and on skipping years even and for the most part stay up with stuff, although Sweetie's TiVo's it now and I can't get interested. I'm down with Mickey having amnesia and falling for Maggie, Doug and Julie being together forever, all that. But I probably soured on it when Alice Horton dressed as a nun and was either arrested or went undercover. I think that must have been fifteen years ago, maybe twenty.
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