Monthly Archives: November 2009


Raise with AKs. The calls seem like money in my pocket before the flop shows up. The flop can be frustrating. A once stellar hand can turn into garbage. I should be ahead. Reality, though, doesn’t care what should or shouldn’t be. It doesn’t make sense to be angry about even the most incredibly unlikely outcomes. It’s impossible to argue with the cards on the table. They are what they are and no amount of incredulity will change that. Fold your now-beaten hand or take your licks and wait for another pot. When it comes to poker, incredulity is worthless except in your opponents. Incredulity can make anyone call, just to see what they already know is true but cannot believe is true. [As usual, I suppose I will ramble less and become more precise when I write more.]


A good way to get information is to overhear or eavesdrop. Of course, one should never reveal that one was eavesdropping. It is almost always better to blame your insights on your powers of observation. Example: “Did you hurt your knee earlier? I noticed you winced when you put all your weight on it.” It is rude to eavesdrop, but never rude to be ultra-observant; in fact, to be ultra-observant is often impressive. Usually, it is quite simple to concoct a story about small things you observe now that corroborate what you overheard earlier. I suppose that this may also heighten your powers of observation even by practicing it after the fact.

It should be noted that it is okay, on rare occasions, to reveal that you were eavesdropping. This should only be done for dramatic effect, when the effect is desired.

Sit and Watch

I’m folding a lot. When I play poker, there are a lot of trash hands that I don’t want to deal with. Sometimes there are long stretches where I don’t get to play until the flop.

Currently, I spend most of the time studying my poker book. The rest of the time is divvied up between observing the other players and being distracted. My desk is really messy and needs constant cleaning. This is a huge contrast from my apartment, but my table was bigger than a desk. That was definitely one of my smarter decisions — forgoing a desk for a cheap table from Walmart. See what I mean about being distracted?

Ideally, I want to internalize more of the principles of good poker play. This can only come from playing more hands. I think it’s less about memorizing hands and more about memorizing situations. When I’m in the big blind, and it’s called all the way around, then, yes, I can raise with medium pairs. It’s difficult to memorize these situations in the abstract — that would be like reading the book and doing flash cards. It’s easier to memorize what to do when the situation is moored to experience, when I’ve actually done it.

As I spend less time with the book while playing, I want to spend more time observing the other players. The way they play also changes the situation. If someone raises me, I want to see if they’re a tight player or a loose player. If it’s more likely that they have a hand, then I’m more likely to fold. Or, how is the table playing? If I want to check-raise, do I think someone is likely to bet out?

Because of all the folding, I should have a lot of time to observe people. I think this fits my temperament. I like to watch and categorize. With a better sense of how the table is and how individuals play, I should be able to make better decisions. I also wonder if it will help me in life. Will I be more patient? Will I take the time to observe when I’m sitting out, so to speak, rather than be distracted? Will I grow more attuned to details? I don’t know yet.

3 Approaches

I think there are three approaches to any task: Avoidance, Halfheartedness, and Obsession. I am starting to believe that only the first and the third are of any use. I am not convinced that there is anything in between being half-hearted and being obsessed. 3/4-hearted still does not cross over into obsession, and so should be eschewed.

Avoidance and obsession are really two sides of the same coin. If you’re obsessed, you’re avoiding everything else. I suppose the trick is to be obsessed with the right things at the right times.

I Know You Don’t Care About My Fantasy Team

After starting 1-4, I’ve battled my way back to 5-5. I’m sitting at 5th place, two games behind a logjam of 7-3 teams. I’m not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet! I go head to head with two of those teams that are ahead of me. If either of them slips up, I may slip into the playoffs. (You’re going down, Jason.)

BELIEVE in The Banana Grabbers!

This week, I was down 37 points before Monday night. Ray Rice and the Baltimore defense combined for 39 points. My poor friend Nick was in the unenviable position of cheering for the Browns. Shutout! Haha.

My Poker Education

I’ve recently been playing poker online, and it’s an entirely different beast than informal home games. I’m actually sitting there with my book, looking up which hands I should and shouldn’t play before the flop. It’s going to take a while before I internalize all of this, which is why I haven’t started playing with real money yet. And even then, I’m going to start with the micro-limit games.

I had a hand that I think I played wrong. I was in the small blind with Kh-Qs. Lots of callers, no raises, so I decide to call. It wasn’t a raising hand, so I think that was the correct decision. The flop comes Jh 3h 8h. I have the second nut flush draw. Acting first, I decide to bet. I get 2 folds and 3 calls. I think I’m supposed to check-raise in that situation. I bet out not because I wanted to be fancy, but because the table was passive. I thought that no one would bet out, which had often been the case. I also thought that a check-raise would force everyone out, and that nobody was going to raise me. I figured a bet would get the most money in the pot. I also believed that playing aggressive on the flop might get me a free card on the turn, but a check-raise would probably be better for that. I think the assumption about nobody raising me was a poor one. Somebody may have had the flush made already or had the Ah; there were 5 other people in the flop. On the turn, the 9h makes my flush, so I decide to bet out. I get three calls, and then I do the same on the river and get three calls. My post-flop play is something I still need to work on, but I think I played it okay on the turn and river.

At some point, I hope I understand better what to do in this situation because I’m still a little confused. There are also tons of odds that I don’t have memorized yet. Ugh.

The part of my game that has improved the most is folding before the flop. I’m throwing away trash. I’ve also learned that I should be player tighter or looser depending on my position. Another thing I learned is that certain cards I thought were okay to play are actually not that great in a 9-person game. (Example: Unsuited big card with small card, like K5o.)

The Art of Forgetting

“262. Know how to forget, even though it’s more luck than art. Matters best forgotten, are those best remembered, for memory plays the villain by forsaking us when we need her most, and the clown, by appearing when we would see her least; in all that gives pain she is most lavish, and in all that might give joy, most niggardly; at times the only remedy for an evil lies in forgetting it, and to be able to forget is the remedy; wherefore, train your memory to these comfortable manners, for she can bring you heaven, or hell: those self-satisfied are of course excepted, for in their state of innocence, they are already rejoicing in the happy state of feeble-mindedness.” — The Art of Worldly Wisdom

I think a good tool in learning how to forget is forcing myself to change as a person. That way, when I retrieve a memory, it’s difficult to relive it first-person. As I recreate the experience, my mind says, “Well, I totally would do this instead of that.” The person I am now and the person I was then become two separate entities. Preferably, the younger version of me seems alien — someone whose thought patterns are drastically different and hard to imagine.

Instead of these being my own memories, they become events that happened to someone else. It is like recalling what happened to a historical figure.

I should think of an example to make this less abstract, but I’m too tired. I’ll sleep now.

A Costly Loss

With a win last weekend, I would’ve been in 4th place, sitting atop a logjam of 4-4 teams. Instead, I’m 3-5, dropped to 7th, and my playoff hopes have dimmed considerably.

This didn’t cost me outright, but I picked up the Cards defense for this week. They ended up scoring negative points for me. I was really high on them after seeing them beat the Giants, and their schedule over the next several weeks looked really tasty (Seahawks, Rams, Titans)… and of course, this week was the Panthers with the interception-machine Delhomme at QB. With all that information, I thought it was a no-brainer to pick up the Cardinals D/ST. I was also high on Dallas (pass rush woke up last week and would feast on an injury-depleted Seattle o-line), and San Diego (hello Jamarcus Russell). If I had picked up Dallas, I would’ve won. Ultimately, it was the future schedule that convinced me the Cardinals would be a better pickup overall. I should’ve considered the Cardinal’s inconsistency and lack of discipline on defense. It probably would’ve been safer to not roll the dice with them, when I had other options. Then again, I do love to roll the dice, and I could’ve had a massive payday instead of crapping out.

NOTE: Dallas would’ve won me the game, but the Chargers would not. I also had a choice to start the Colts defense, but elected not to because I was being a homer. They wouldn’t have won me the game anyway. (Any of these defenses would’ve put me in a better position to win the game, and with another Roddy White TD, this would have come to pass.)


My Halloween costume was a ninja-pirate-fireman.

  • Ninja mask — $0, borrowed from Stevie
  • Ninja shirt — $0, long-sleeve black shirt from home
  • Ninja pants — $0, black pants from home
  • Ninja sword — $0, borrowed from Stevie
  • Ninja socks — $0, black business socks from home
  • Ninja shoes — $0, my old all-black marching band shoes
  • Pirate eye patch — $1.99, bought at Spirit
  • Pirate cutlass — $3.99, bought at Spirit
  • Colorful parrot — $0, borrowed from Richard
  • Pirate belt — $0, brown belt from home
  • Fireman’s helmet — $5.99, bought at Spirit
  • Fireman’s jacket — $2.99, yellow jacket from thrift store plus duct tape stripes

I was excited about the entire outfit, but I’m particularly proud of the fireman’s jacket. I searched through several places to try to find a fireman’s jacket and the only one I found would’ve put me back over $50. Instead, I found a yellow jacket at a thrift store and then put duct tape on it. I’d like to think that I’m tremendously creative, but I put out a question on the facebook about fireman’s jackets and Sarah had the great idea to find an old jacket and put electrical tape on it. In fact, the entire outfit couldn’t have been done without help from my friends, because they helped me both with the execution of the idea and in procuring items for me to use.

Fun Things

Some fun things I’ve done semi-recently:

  • Planned a 90s party
  • Made the best 90s playlist ever
  • Halloween hotel party
  • Dressed up as a ninja-pirate-fireman costume
  • Put duct tape on a yellow jacket I got for $3 instead of buying a fireman costume
  • Hiked Mission Peak
  • Saw Kim Peek at a speaking event
  • Heard Kim Peek sing Grease before the event
  • Touched an Oscar statuette