Friday, November 30, 2007

A hand from Riverchasers

You are dealt A-Q in MP.
Blinds are 200/400/75.
You, as usual, have a tight image, so you've been successful attacking checks and taking down pots mostly with continuation bets.
You have 6,500 chips, putting you in 12th place out of 40 runners left. Money is the top 9 spots.
You raise to 1,200.
Limper UTG calls. You have him covered but only by 400 chips.
Flop comes 9,9,3.
He checks to you.
The pot has a little more than 3,300 chips in it. You have about 5,000 left.
What do you do?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Babies that were....

Oh and here's the obligatory "aren't they cute now that they've moved to solid food shot"



Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The grind

We were in McDonald's the day after Thanksgiving to let Jayden burn off some energy in one of those plastic playgrounds that looks like it was built for a giant hamster.
A guy was over there watching his children, and I ignored him, as I usually do in public, since I'm such a social butterfly.
When we traded off, and I started wolfing down some pancakes and sausage, Kate came back in and said, "That guy has twins."
My ears perked. Sweet. Someone to comiserate with us. And his twins were boys! Heh! He must have had it worse than us.
"Yeah, it was pretty hard," he said. "That first year. Wow."
I nodded my head, soaking in the sympathy. Yep. That first year. Wow.
"Of course, they slept through the night at three months," he said.
"Oh, really," I said through gritted teeth, fighting the urge to hit him with a tray.
Our girls are six months old now, and they are not sleeping through the night. In fact, their sleeping habits are much worse now than they were at three months. I actually remember telling my running partners at that time that they were basically making it through the night.
Last night? Allie woke up at midnight for a feeding, using her newfound opera-star lungs for emphasis. Andie woke up at 1:30 a.m. for a feeding (I took that one). Allie woke up at 3 a.m. and screwed around a bit. Andie and Allie both woke up at 4:45 a.m., hungry again. Then at 5:15 a.m., Andie decided it was time to get up and began squealing, and when that didn't work, decided to fuss. Kate probably jolted out of bed seven times to put the pacifer back in her mouth, but we were both awake after 4:45 a.m. Kate left for work at 6:45 a.m. and let me sleep until 8:20 a.m.
I am not only sick of the grind of the twins right now, I'm sick of not having the energy to do the grind because we can't ever rejuvenate at night.

To top things off, Jayden is 2-and-a-half and in full toddler mode. He's sometimes just impossible to deal with. He wants his mommy all the time, which honestly makes me wonder sometimes why I bother. I realize that's a pretty immature attitude but at times like these I can't help it.

Which reminds me.
10 days (right?).
Vegas tempts people with all sorts of vices. Pai Gow, poker, slots, rich food, alcohol, casual sex, strippers, skin, probably drugs if that's your thing. I'll partake in my fair share of poker and good times with virtual friends.
But Vegas may just tempt me with sleep most of all. I'll do my best to resist, but the siren song may be too much to resist.

P.S. Come back for cute pictures tommorow, just so you don't think I'm hating them too much. :)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Gimmie a break and Working on my endgame

So I”m sitting in a big, easy chair, fighting sleep, with a belly fully of turkey, stuffing, cranberry AND pumpkin pie.
I’m content.
That’s unusual for me, considering I busted out of the Mookie last night in 13th place and ran just under 24 minutes in the Turkey Trot today.
Normally I would be more upset at the 5K today. The Turkey Trot just might be my favorite race, and 24 minutes is a horrible time for me. Just terrible. I haven’t ran that slow since, well, I started running semiseriously three years ago.
Last night’s deep run in the Mookie wouldn’t bother me nearly as much, but still, it was disappointing not to cash, considering I had a pretty sizable stack through most of the night and it was one of those nights where everything seemed to go right. I was making great reads, catching good cards, flopping flushes and generally playing my ass off. That is, I was playing well until the end.
More on that in a moment.

So normally I’d be mad at myself on both counts.
But I’m not.
I’m giving myself a break.
I’ve been fighting a pretty horrible cold, as I said last time, and though I’ve started to feel better today, where it should be completely gone by Saturday,
As much as I would love to think that I”m immune to things like that, I'm not. When I started, I felt weak, and I could not breathe once I ran faster than a 7:30 per-mile pace. So I didn’t. I smiled and ran a hard, tough but slower race than I’m used to. I don’t think starting out in 10-degree weather helped either.
The thing is, had anyone else, my running partner, a friend, IG or anyone who told me that they had a bad cold three days before a race (and had to take off a couple weeks a month ago because of a snipping, although IG probably wouldn’t tell me that), I’d say, “well, you ran all right then.”
But in the past, I’d just ream myself and refuse to give myself a break.
No more. I had a cold. I ran hard. Most, I don’t think, would even be out there, let alone finishing in the top 150 of a 2,000-person race.
No, I’m not happy with the time, but I was happy to be out there.
I’m liking this newer me.

And I’m giving myself a break in the Mookie because I’ve done really well in MTTs lately. I’ve either cashed, found myself in the points or gotten fairly nice scores.
But I haven’t won any of them.
I haven’t even really taken down a big score in any of them.
That’s a serious hole in my game.
And it will be fun trying to work on it.

I believe my beginning and mid-level tournament game is solid. I rarely bust out early in any MTT, and usually by the second hour, I’m in good shape. I’m patient, aggressive when I need to be and my post-flop play is probably better than average, even better than the average blogger, if there is such a thing. I’ve greatly improved my stealing and bluffing as well. Sure, I do ultimately need a few cards to get chips, but most players do, especially in those stages.

But my end game is weak. That’s where my patience probably hurts me.
Last night in the Mookie I had a great stack, and then Buddy Dank picked me to win, and my cards immediately went zombie. It’s a good thing they were virtual because I would have had frostbite.
And there’s my weakness. I continue to wait for good cards when the blinds are high, and every orbit takes a substantial chunk out of my stack, and I just let it happen. By the time it’s push or fold, I still wait for a good hand.
In fairness to me, it’s a tough time to expand your range. You’ve played for almost three hours, as I did in the Mookie last night, and you don’t want to put all that time in the trash by going out on, say, J-2 offsuit. You don’t want to go out on K-10 either. And if you’re playing with good players with big stacks, as I always do in the Mookie, they’re probably raising a lot, and I don’t want to call a raise with Q-9, even if it’s sooted. Last night, too, almost every time someone raised, they would show down a good hand, and many times it was a big pair. So I was correct to fold, even if it was costing me.
I live and die by the Gap Concept.
Finally, if you try to steal, and someone wakes up with a hand or catches on to what you’re doing or is a great player and simply decides to challenge you ( Hoy and
TripJaxare great at this) and you fold, at those blinds, you’re suddenly hurting.
But I can’t continue to play well and settle for a $5 profit in the Mookie after three hours of play. I really need to finish it off.
So here’s what I’ll work on:
• Stealing more - If it’s folded around to me, I need to raise it up and challenge the blinds more often. The great players do this consistently.
• Re-stealing - I barely do this at all. I honestly have no real idea how to know when to re-steal.
• Opening my range - If I’m pushing or folding, I may just have to push with mediocre hands, especially if I’m in late position.
• Taking better notes on players - Some players are obviously stealing my blinds, especially if they watch me play. I need to make those players pay while respecting others.
• Re-read Harrington's advice on Endgame poker play.
• Taking more chances - I saw so many sick suckouts last night. I hardly ever get one of those. Is my luck that bad, or am I never giving myself a chance to suck out? My luck is not that bad. In order to suck out, you have to take a chance every once in a while.
• Not go card dead at the end of an MTT - OK, this one is out of my control, but I’ve caught all my good cards too early in a tournament. I also need to make sure that doesn't happen. Tinfoil hat here I come!

The trick is balancing these plays with my usual solid game that’s done me well. Any suggestions on how to improve my endgame in MTTs would be much appreciated. Am I way off on what I need to work on? What's your endgame game plan?

Speaking of the end game, the time is here for my Kansas Jayhawks, No. 2 in the country, and they’ve got No. 3 Missouri, their hated rival, for a possible eventual chance to play for the national title.
Amazing. This will never, ever happen again. I’m still waiting for Rod Serling to appear and tell me it was all a dream. KU vs. MU in the game of the year.
Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My 300th post - sniff, sniff

No, I'm not all choked up for my 300th post. Instead I'm sitting at my desk here sniffing and sneezing and using sandpaper-like paper towels to wipe my ever-seeping nose and generally pouting and feeling pretty damn sorry for myself.
I swear, I should just build a plastic bubble with all the essentials (laptop, nachos, old episodes of High Stakes Poker), so I can move into it whenever I heard my kids sniffling. They are such little germ collectors. I mean we keep a pretty clean house. The kids don't play with rats, the house is reasonably picked up (it would probably horrify a representative from Better Homes and Gardens but it works for us) and we clean them up after every meal (as clean as they'll get, anyway; the only way to really do the job would be using a hose at one of those power car washes).
Yet they seem to pick up plenty of colds, and every damn time, I get it. I mean every time. There was a period before I had kids that I didn't get sick for four years. Now I am sick every couple of months. Ugh. This cold, of course, comes right before my favorite 5K of the year, the Turkey Trot for Thanksgiving, a race that got me started in running, when I was all proud of myself for actually finishing a 3-mile race.
I felt the cold coming on Saturday and Sunday, and I tried to ignore it. Denial, it turns out, does not beat a cold. I am starting to take mega doses of Vitamin C and something called Airborne and it seems to help. I did run today and it didn't seem to affect me too much, although I know my strength isn't where it should.
The girls just got FIVE shots today (ouch!) at the doctor's. I hope the wife had him throw in a cold shot or two. I guess they did get a flu shot.
I'm going to play the BoDonkey tonight for the first time in a while since the kids and Kate are down at her parents for the Thanksgiving holiday. I'll head down there after my race. That means extra time for poker and sweet, sweet sleep.

So I'll continue with this post after that.

OK, now I'm at my desk at home. I just finished the Bodog tourney. I finished 6th. Ran a desperate Q-10 into A-A. I got my money back. The rest got $109 in tournament dollars. If you aren't playing this tournament, well, why not? It's a great deal.

With no kids in the house, it's extremely tempting to stay up late, but I need to go to bed to get better. Arena Rock ruled the night. And I need to hit the hay.
Just as soon as I get through playing Grand Theft Auto.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Entertainment that night

So it's my job to entertain the girls when Jayden is getting a bath. Usually they go down right after, so they're always a little fussy and tired.

So sometimes I get desperate.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Last night I managed to not really cripple myself but tear a chunk out of me anyway, sort of like when you step on a nail, in the Mookie last night.
I was also playing the Dookie and was considering a hand when Full Tilt buzzed me. I had just won a big hand with J-J and had 7,000 chips, which left me in the top 20, maybe even the top 15, I believe. I had played well the whole tournament, stealing, making good contination bets (for once) and getting a couple nice hands.
At the buzz, I clicked on the call button, and found that I had just called off a raise and a re-raise with Q,4os.
The flop brought me a queen and two nines, but TripJax bet large, and while I considered shoving, given that it was TripJax and he had a huge amount of chips and was capable of making a move on both those factors, I still folded because I did not think he would re-raise with nothing. It turns out he told me had me beat but just barely.
In the past such a moronic, stupid mistake would tilt me.
But I didn't even care.
Poker's been like that lately.
As Vegas approaches, I find myself caring less about poker every day, for the first time in at least three years.
The Mookie was the first time I played all week, and I'll skip Riverchasers tonight. As excited as the BBT2 is, my family life and work schedule doesn't allow me to play all the events. In fact, I can only play one a week , and I'm lucky if I make that. That leaves me at a serious disadvantage. So I hope they continue to host these contests, as they are really fucking cool, but I really can't take part in them fully just yet. Maybe in a couple of years.
Occasionally I get in these life funks, and usually I just tell myself to quit being a pussy and shake them, but a few times a year I really can't, and this is one of those times.
There's no reason for it. Work is still good, family life is fine, and after a brief hiatus to get my balls whacked, I'm running strong in time for the Turkey Trot 5K Thanksgiving race.
Ah, maybe that's it. I have post mortem depression.
I do think part of it is the twins have forced me into biorhythms that aren't really me. I would love to stay up until midnight every night and wake up at 7:15 or so, but instead I'm going to bed at 11 p.m., vaguely unsatisfied, and waking up at 6 a.m., sprinkled with wakings at 2 a.m., 3 a.m., etc. It's all catching up to me.
I don't know if poker itself is why I don't want to play or if it's this bluesy feeling I can't shake. I plan on dinking around in a cash game tonight and quitting when I don't want to play anymore, which might be right away. Maybe I need to hit up Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (yes, an old game, but one I've just discovered) and go kill a few innocents.
At least then they can't outdraw my set.

P.S. Congrats go out to Scott for his news on the twins. Welcome to the club. It's not something I would wish on anyone, but it's also been the greatest experience of my life.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The gift that kept on giving - until we got tired

My birthday was Friday, and my wife asked me what I wanted.
Other than the usual wisecracks, I told her I only wanted one thing.
Time is the most precious commodity we have (or, usually, don't have) in our house.
So Friday night, Kate and I went to a Japanese steakhouse, the kind where they cook the food in front of you and throw bits of chicken for you to catch in your mouth. I love watching the chefs throw their cutlery around, just barely missing a finger (both the patrons' and the cookers) and slicing up the veggies and meat with the skill of a veteran serial killer. But I love the food even more. I think shrimp on a grill just might be my favorite food. It's even healthy so you don't have to feel guilty about eating it.
And Saturday, at 10 a.m., Kate dropped me off with a longtime buddy of mine.
It was time for Black Hawk poker!
If there's one thing I truly do mourn since the twins were born, it's time with my friends. Sadly, I just don't get that much anymore. It's not fair to the other person to leave the house at night with three kids up and around (two infants and a toddler I should say), and so everything has to work out just right, and it has to be planned like a D-Day invasion. We went down to Kate's parents in Lakewood for the day, so she would have extra help, and though it worked great, as an example, we packed enough clothes, diapers and other baby crap to get the adults through a month in Germany. It took me five minutes to pack for me and an hour, at least, to pack for the kids.
So Saturday would be great for two reasons. I would get to spend time with a close friend, and I would get to play live poker.
Now it's Black Hawk poker, $2/5 limit, so it wouldn't be very imaginative, skilled or quite frankly much fun at times. But it's still live poker, and complaining about live poker, especially now that I rarely get to leave the house, would be like bitching because your peanut butter pie didn't quite have enough whipped cream.
Probably the most interesting hand came when someone raised and I looked down at a pair of 8s. I called, and an older, 60ish, friendly, chatty lady with a thick Texas accent called as well.
We called her Auntie Poker because she would have made a great aunt. You'd learn how to play poker, and the Thanksgiving dinners would be a lot more lively. But she's also the typical Black Hawk poker player. She wasn't a total idiot, but she played a lot of hands, especially if it was soooted, chased every draw (correctly, if you're into odds) and overvalued marginal hands.
The flop came 8,9,2 with two spades. The original raiser, a young, cool, aggressive player who had climbed Longs Peak seven times (so I liked him right away), bet, Auntie called, and I raised with two spades and a straight draw out there. The raiser re-raised me and Auntie called. I paused for a second and figured if he had a set of 9s, congrats, and re-raised to $20. He just called, and Auntie Poker called.
The third spade came down, a 5, and my heart sank. I did not put the younger guy on a spade, but I definitely put Auntie on one. I figured she had to have some kind of draw. I checked it around. Maybe that's weak but I didn't want to get check-raised, and there was a ton of money in the pot already. Plus I was hoping the board would pair. I weakly checked it around to the river and showed my 8s. The younger guy had K-K, and Auntie mucked. I have no idea what she had. Maybe JJ? I wouldn't even put her past a pair of 9s.
I got A-A three times and it held every time, and I flopped a set of queens and later Kings, but those didn't get much action, and almost all the rest of my big hands, few as they were, didn't get much either. I also did not have a draw hit all day and didn't get a straight or a flush the whole day. And I took a flush too far on a paired board and couldn't fold TPTK to a set of 4s, though in this game it didn't cost me too much, and it's hard to fold a strong hand when it's only $5 more to call and there's a ton in the pot and the players will bet second pair all the way down.
The last two hours we were in card dead hell, and we relied on the Kansas game to entertain us.
What a game. KU played a tough OSU team at their place and really controlled most of the game. It's really unreal that they will most likely be 11-0 and playing for a spot in the national title game. I have to say that over and over to believe it. This is like the Bad News Bears going to the Little League World Series.
As a bonus, my Mookie Vegas bet was on the game, so I'm gonna get a nice payoff for that. Ship it!
As we drove home, we talked poker, our relationships and football. It was disappointing to finish down, but the poker was not about the money. Not today.
The time spent playing it was much more valuable than that.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A short memo to my twins

TO: Andie and Allie
FROM: Daddy
RE: Daylight Savings Time

Look, I know this "Daylight Savings Time" thing is confusing to you. I'm not sure why we still have it, to be honest. But all it means is that when you wake up at 5 a.m., it is no longer 6 a.m., as you probably believe.
It's 5 a.m.
So there is no need for you to start squealing, chirping, hollering or generally telling the world you are wide awake and ready to go. Trust me, girls, 5 a.m. is no time for you to be awake.
You can sleep an extra hour.
Heck, even two, if you want.

P.S. Please?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Hi, Son and other Sunday thoughts

In many ways, the twins are more challenging than Jayden, but there's one thing that's much easier.
Their love is unconditional.
Case in point.
Saturday night:
Me: "Hey, Jayden, do you want to sit with Daddy while we watch Toy Story?"
Jayden: "No."
Me: "Why not?"
Jayden: "NO!"

Um, OK.
This after I spent the whole day with Jayden Friday, as I do every Friday. I drove for an hour, one way, to take Jayden to see a wildlife sanctuary because I thought he'd like the big tigers and lions. He did. I brought extra snacks for him and changed his increasingly gross diaper (toilet training needs to happen soon, I just wish we had the time) and lay with him before he took his nap so he could fall asleep with Daddy by his side.
Saturday was a tough day. I had lots to do and got very little of it done because I was constantly caring for a twin. This is the side of twins that most never see. That's why our friendships have eroded and why simple little errands around the house, like putting a book on a shelf or reading an article in Sports Illustrated, take more planning and determination than an Everest expedition (and for those of you who aren't obsessed with peaks, that's a LOT). Our lives are dominated with day-to-day care of babies.
The thing that sucks the most about that is my relationship with Jayden cracks at time as well. I spent maybe 15 good minutes with him all Saturday. The rest of the time I was holding a baby.
Granted, part of this is my fault. I didn't have to pay such close attention to my Kansas Jayhawks as they ripped apart Nebraska, but I never thought I would see a 76-39 game and have it be a Kansas football team that was putting up the 76. So I'm not innocent here. I could have read Jayden more books Saturday during the game.
But I always feel as if I'm having to prove myself to Jayden while Kate gets love and attention. She's Mom, he's 2, and I understand that, but I also wish we could be closer, and I don't know that's going to change much while the twins demand so much of our time.
I just hope I don't relate too much to "Cats in the Cradle" in a couple years.

The good news is I finally got to go running today for the first time since I got snipped last Wednesday. I ran almost 10 miles. Yeah, I was a little pent up. I hadn't taken that much time off in three years, and I felt sluggish at first, but it also felt good to feel tired and a little pain today.

Poker is going well. The cash games continue to go well, but my MTT play is finally coming around. That was always the worst part of my poker game, but I've cashed three times in a row in the Mookie, cashed in Riverchasers, cashed in an 90-person SnG, finished third in the Bodog blogger tournament (unfortunately I can't make this Tuesday again, this time because of work again (elections), but it's a great deal and you should come out) and last night I finished 13th in a 255-person $11 MTT Turbo on Bodog (great new look by the way).
All of this was just in the last three weeks.
I realize these are not huge scores and weren't worth brag posts, but I'm finally getting more aggressive in the later stages and I'm stealing far more than I did last year, when I just waited for good cards even near the end and whined when I didn't get them. Yes, I've gotten some good cards during this streak, and yes, I haven't been sucked out on much (amazing how far you can go when your favorites actually hold up), but I think the big difference has been my ability to steal now. It's not all cards. I got a big pair, KK, once in the whole Turbo tournament.

I still can't believe Kansas is in the national title hunt. I can barely say those words without laughing. We keep this up and we'll be in a BCS bowl. I don't expect Kansas to play for the title, but to play in one of those bowl games would be something. Basketball is coming, and Kansas is ranked in the top 5, and I'm not even as wrapped up in it as I normally am because the football team is so good.

I finally cashed in Fantasy Sports Live. I took second in the Sundays with Dr. Pauly contest. I didn't have any grand notions of making a ton of money with this, but I know I'm capable of breaking even. My fantasy team in my keeper league, a tough league, is the hottest in the league again now that Drew Brees has wiped the sleepers out of his eyes. But I began to doubt my ability after finishing sixth or seventh every week.
This is a start.