Saturday, January 31, 2009

We will, we will....

Enjoy the Super Bowl everyone. I've got my first race of the year, a 5K. I'm just hoping for under 23 minutes; I doubt I'll get a better time than that as I haven't hit the intervals hard for a while.

Friday, January 30, 2009

All work and little play

Sometimes I worried about what kind of a parent I was when I would dread - and I do mean dream - days like today, when I've got all three kids, all day long.
How could I dislike, even occasionally, hate spending that much time with my kids and be a loving parent?
Well, I thought about that, in bed, with the covers pulled to my nose, as my wife fixed them breakfast downstairs before she handed them over to me.
And I feel better about it.
It's not my kids. I love my kids dearly. I love nurturing them.
But the nurturing doesn't happen most of the time. Most of the time, parenting is work.
That's it. It's hard work. It's hard, exhausting, numbing, tedious, even disgusting work, sometimes for 14-16 hours, and it starts at 6 a.m. and doesn't end until 8 p.m. (if we're lucky, many times you work overtime in the middle of the night). It leaves little time with your partner - you're lucky to get in a half-hour during the day, and usually by then you're too tired to do anything about that.
Almost everyone I've talked to say parenting is rewarding, the most rewarding thing they've done, they say. I'd agree with that. But it's not always rewarding. In fact, many times it isn't.
This, I think, is especially true when you have twins. The nurturing usually gets replaced by more work. Reading a book is rewarding, but it's hard to do that when the other one is either trying to crawl up, too, or is playing with a socket. Dressing, diapers, feeding, whatever, take twice as long, and that cuts into the nurturing time as well. Throw in the toddler, and we're basically screwed.
No, it's not the woman who had eight kids, but you get the idea.
Getting up in the middle of the night for three years is not rewarding. Shit fits are not rewarding. And here's how my day started today. Literally two minutes after I had put Allie in a fresh diaper and dressed her in a cute overalls outfit, she exploded, shitting her diaper so hard I'm surprised it didn't lift her to the ceiling. It was everywhere.
Then, when I got through cleaning that up, I walked outside, and Jayden said, "I pooped." Same thing. He destroyed his pants.
If you can find anything at all rewarding about that, let me know. Because I can't.
The moments that make it worth it help salve everything else. But those moments don't come often enough. And now I have to go. I smell more poop, and the mall and its play area awaits.

Monday, January 26, 2009


I'm actually going to write about poker, since I have a lot on my mind and need to work through a couple issues through the writing.
So allow me to sit on your couch, will you?
I will finish the month down. But you knew that. No one starts a post like this one to say they've won thousands, at least without expecting to get a lime tossed at your head at the next Vegas gathering.
I have played at .50/$1 NL since September on PokerStars. Some of you might scoff at that, but it's the highest level I've consistently played since I started playing for real money back in 2005. I've always been a grinder, and a happy one at that, and felt no need to move up too far because I was making money and enjoying the game.
I moved up in September because I had the bankroll for it and thought I could take a shot.
Results, well, have been mixed.
I actually was ahead before this month. But not by much. It's been a hard month. Two full houses lost to better full houses. Suckouts. The usual. Blah blah blah.
But it hasn't just been that. I honestly believe the players are significantly better than I've ever played before. That could be the UIEGA (OU812?) act finally weeding out many of the fish. That could be because the players are just better in general - it's a long way away from 2005. But I think it might be the level. I see Supernovas. The other day I saw an Elite Supernova at my table.
I'm being pushed off many pots. I'm being outplayed, at least I think so. I've faced more tough decisions. I know it's not the money in front of me. I'm comfortable with the level.
But here's the thing. I'm wondering if I should put or move back to my killing grounds at .25/.50 NL.
Where I know I can win.

I've also started playing Omaha (not that stupid game where you split every pot) and Razz, both at low limits. That's a great way to improve your overall game. It made me realize I've got a serious leak. I play way too many hands out of position. I always paid attention to position, but I didn't realize how important it really is until I played Omaha on a regular basis. This will amuse some of you, but I actually need to tighten up. I'm multi-tabling and making calls with shit like Q-J in early position, hoping to just see a flop, and then the flop comes Q-high and what do you do?
It also made me realize that playing those lower limits can just be easier. I'm playing $25 Pot-Limit Omaha, and I am not a terrific player, but man, i'm killing that game. I usually play shorthanded and people still just hand you money. They can't lay down anything, two pair, an overpair, and they chase flushes and straights on paired boards. Rookie shit. The stuff's that's made me money in the past three years.
The stuff I just don't see any longer at $100 NLHE.

So here's what I'm asking myself:
1. Why do I play? I love the game, but do I love the big pots, the larger bets and the fact that I'm pushing myself, or can I honestly play at $50 NL and be happy? Ultimately, yes, but will it be as exciting? I honestly don't know, especially if those tables are filled with the same nits who I'm seeing at the higher level.
2. I know I need to get better, and I know what I need to do. I need to work on taking advantage of my position, opening up my range in later position and tightening up early. Should I move down to do this, or will that be fruitless since I won't see the same level of player. I've said in the past I need to be more aggressive, but I'm serious about it now, and I don't even see it as being a lot more aggressive as being more opportunistic. I've just started on this with some decent results.
3. How much am I willing to lose to get better? My bankroll is super healthy for $100 NL, but poker is, ultimately, a hobby, and I don't need to blow a bunch of money to get marginally better at it. I can move up to the next level of play, but how much am I willing to do to get there, especially with modest goals in this game and many more important things in my life, like climbing, training, writing and my family?
4. Why bother with $100 NL, and why not just play $50 NL and play more Omaha, a game I am beating (if it wasn't for Omaha this month, I would have lost more than just a trio or quartet of buy-ins).

Friday, January 23, 2009

Competitive solatire

Before I discovered poker, I went through all kinds of games to ease my itch and find a way to quiet my busy brain for a few moments.
I went through Risk on my old black and white Macintosh, Cribbage, You Don't Know Jack trivia, but there was one thing that probably consumed me more than all others.
When I was in high school, Solitaire was my thing.
We used to greet each other as we filed into and out of the journalism room with "4K" or "7K!". That meant the points he/she scored on Solitaire on the tiny Macs we used to put the yearbooks and newspapers together. Calls like "All Four Aces" and "Boardlocked!" It was stupid to spend so much time on such a simple game. I was determined to never let it happen again, after I broke away from it from an intense rehab session of smacking my wrist with a rubber band every time I thought of it.
So I'm doing my best after discovering Game Duell .
Before you roll your eyes and think I'm just doing a shill post, I'm not. I just thought you'd want to know about this. It's a site that allows you to bet on Solitaire duels. You can play Solitaire, for real money (at low low low stakes). I played for a half hour the other day.
Somebody help me.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Gastrological gamble

I am a simple man.
Since I had kids, I am even easier to please.
A 3-year-old and two 20-month-old girls have forced me to give up many of the things I used to enjoy. I know I can't indulge in such hedonistic pleasures as sleeping past 6 a.m., a moment's peace when I get home from work or eating dinner sitting down.
Pleasures now come in the little things in life, like when I open one of the girl's diaper and I don't see something that looks like someone dumped a can of Hershey's syrup down her pants (unfortunately, it does not smell that way).
But now, this salmonella scare is making me question one thing I just can't sacrifice.
Peanut butter.
What do you mean peanut butter is going to make me sick? Or kill me? Or make me crap faster than flame from a rocket? I realize the jars are safe. But the jar is the puddin' in the pie. I want everything.
I stared at the Peanut Butter M&Ms, one of my favorite things in the world, in my cart Sunday as I was buying some lunch. I had just run eight miles, I sniveled to myself. I deserved them. But I kept thinking about cramping and death by potty (and all joking aside, people have died from this latest scare), and after a bit, I put them down.
So then I went over to the ice cream aisle just to look.
Ice cream just might be my biggest food vice. That or queso and chips. But I have basically given it up. It's fattening as hell, and every pound on my ass is one more minute in my races. We runners like to be lean, and I already have trouble being as lean as I can. Ingesting 850 calories in a bowl every night isn't a way to do that.
But I have been running a lot again, in preparation for two tough half marathons coming this spring, and I thought I deserved a treat, if I could something that sounded good. Hmm. Let's see.
Uh oh.
My favorite. Peanut Butter Cup. Double Churned, so it's half the calories, but you don't really notice that.'s peanut butter.....
I am a poker player, so that means I am not a huge risk-taker. But I, like all poker players, do have a little gamble in me.
The bowl Sunday night was delicious. And so far, so good.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Targeting your opponents through their stack sizes

I wrote a story for Pokerworks on targeting your opponents through their stack sizes. You can check out the article here.

To summarize, I generally target big stacks and shortstacks in cash games because I think generally they play looser. But I'm interested to hear what you think.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Aces High

Except later I got this one too:

Omaha is easy.

Sweet! I think!

P.S. Except this was Razz. So not really.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The scavengers hunt

In many ways the twins are getting easier. They are finally - finally - finally - sleeping through the night, for the most part. I'll take for the most part.
They can entertain themselves for the most part, so we don't have to constantly carry one around. I'll take for the most part. In fact, I only want for the most part. I want them to rely on me occasionally. Or else I'm just a guy who wipes poop from their bottom and referees the increase fights over a plastic hot dog.
One thing, though, is harder, and it continues to drive me crazy.
It's the fact that I can't find anything.
We're constantly, and I do mean constantly, looking for juice cups, pacifiers and a special toy or 175 that continually get stuffed into dark corners, trash cans, under couches, in the shower and bathtub, in the toilet and behind the TV. For starters.
Now, given my slightly obsessive personality, I allow these things to bother me when they shouldn't. But they HAVE to bother me after a while, or else we would run out, and then we're supporting Target's toddler division by ourselves. Our house is already a potential treasure trove. Seriously, if a pacifier-driven toddler wants to become the next Indiana Jones, he could come to our house and explore. If he didn't find at least 125 after overturning our house, he needs to turn in his explorer's license.
Let's not even talk about our own stuff. Hairbrushes, toothbrushes, our cell phones, car keys and even my books (one of which found its way to their bath before we saw her with it) all disappear. We all Allie "Swiper" now because of the way she's constantly walking off with things.
This is probably hard with one, too, but it's especially tough with twins because you can't keep an eye on both of them all the time. Mainly you have to focus on the one who is in the most danger at that moment.
I have to make decisions like, OK, Allie is near the stairs, so I should watch that, and then oops, OK, Andie is now crawling up on the window ledge (don't get too horrified, the window is shut, at least most of the time), so she needs to come down, and oops, Allie just grabbed something sharp, get the idea.
I'd write more, but the girls are demanding juice, and I can only see one juice cup.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

When you do play online poker?

Just a quick thought. If poker really is exploding across the country, helping sites like PokerStars grow despite the obvious downturn of U.S. customers, why are we all continuing to play when it's likely more U.S. customers will be playing?
Shouldn't we take advantage of all that new fish across the seas?
The reasons are pretty clear, of course. We can't play poker at work (well, I could at one point, but that was before half our newspaper staff was chopped and I'm actually busy now). So we have to play at night. And a lot of us can't play in the early morning hours, and if we do, usually beer is the reason why.
But is anyone else with me on this? Are there times when the waters might be fishy instead of the increasing number of sharks that swim at U.S. hours? I'm still winning, but I do fear that eventually I'll be next, maybe as soon as the end of this year. So if I played at 6:45 a.m. before I went to work, would that be better?
What do you all think?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

A rest in peace

My grandfather was fiercely independent. He lived by himself for 20 years after Grandma died, in a house way up in a woodsy, suspiciously Unibomber-like area and later in a trailer in Susanville, Calif. He bitched about almost everyone he encountered and was bluntly honest about their shortcomings.
He was also, probably, the best grandparent I had. His independence was who he was. It was a trait he passed along to me. And it didn't make him a bitter malcontent.
He slept in a trailer with my brother and I despite the torture it lashed upon his back. He was my favorite cribbage partner. He ppassed along his love of ice cream to me. He spent time with me when he saw us, and he did so willingly, with loud guffaws and heapings of "christ"s and "dammit"s.
That independence served him well for many years, as he still lived alone, in that trailer, happily, rather than waste away in a nursing home. He lived 92 years because of that.
Soon after my visit in September, a visit I'm now grateful I made, my first in at least a decade, shingles and his heart finally started to chip away at his concrete foundation. He entered the hospital and was forced to stay with my aunt. And the independence, which served him so well for so many years, was a prison.
He was miserable and slowly declined, slipping down into a life of tubes and medications and caretakers. Mom hated this for him. So did I. No one wants this for a family member. That's why we put our pets to sleep when they're on that path.
Mom called Saturday. Grandpa died. He died with my aunt by his side. Peacefully.
It will be a bit sadder without him in my life. But relief, rather than grief, fills most of my heart.