Saturday, December 31, 2005

Merry Poker-mas To Me

In the run up to Christmas I left my job. The guys in the office gave me some book vouchers, and presciently commented 'We didn't know which ones to buy you, but we reckon you'll spend these on poker books.'

I scooped some other vouchers as Christmas presents, and put them to good use on a few X-Box games plus the following hoard...

Poker books

Recently I've been re-reading my old strategy books, and I wanted to add a few to the collection. Brunson, Cloutier, and McEvoy are good enough for me!

More than that, I wanted to read some books with an orientation on the human side of the game. Hence the Stuey Ungar biography, as well as Anthony Holden's book, and of course, I HAD to get round to Hunter S. Thompson eventually.

Not quite a poker book, but in the general locale.

Let's Be Careful Out There

Online Poker Addict Jailed For A Year

I wonder what sites she played on.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Why I Love PokerStars

Been a hectic few days. Quite a lot of bloggable material, but not yet much time to put it together.

In my spare time, I've been clawing my way back to even for the month on the PokerStars PLO tables.

As I mentioned previously, the holiday season seems to have really brought out the crazies, leading to some very swingy sessions.

I've also been re-reading How Good Is Your Pot Limit Omaha - which is written in a multiple choice structure, so why not try this on for size...

With a mediocre AAxx hand, you limp with most of the table to see a AJx flop with two hearts.

An opponent bets, you raise, he reraises, you reraise all-in, he calls.

Fearing the flush draw, you are appalled when the 5h hits on the turn, but delighted when a second five hits on the river giving you the nut full house.

When the cards are flipped, is your opponent holding:

a. An unfortunate flush and straight draw
b. An optimistic flush draw only
c. A somewhat foolish straight only draw
d. Something else
e. 55xx

Answer: d. Something else. The guy had JJxx. No hearts, no straight draw, nothing but middle set. Drawing to a single jack for quads.

Love it!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Festive Fun

This is something you can have fun with when you have friends or family round over the holiday season. Upload a photo and see which celebrities you most closely resemble.

I'm not sure how accurate the system is, but it's a laugh. The first pic I tried, I got a pretty good match for Kevin Costner. Interestingly the second closest match was for fellow Scot Jackie Stewart.

The next pic I tried was seriously ego stroking - top match for Keanu Reeves (yeah!), and second was Ewan McGregor - another Scot, so maybe there is something in this genes malarky.

However, the top match for another of my photos rather weakened my faith in the system...Britney Spears. Hmmm. Can't quite see it myself.

Mrs Div seems to be pretty close to Annette Benning, and also scored highly for Penelope Cruz, Isabella Rossellini, Courteney Cox and Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Hmmm, remind me why I married her again?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

So Here It Is...

Merry Christmas
...Merry Christmas.

The shopping is done, the presents are wrapped and under the tree, and I'm looking forward to our first Christmas as a family.

Absolutely zilch to report on the poker front, since I've been getting on with the much more important business of catching up with family and friends - which finds me today nursing a gargantuan hangover.

I'm not huge on the commercial aspects of Christmas, but I do like to take the chance afforded by extended holidays to socialise with those who I have been in only sporadic contact with over the rest of the year.

However you choose to spend the festive season, I hope you have a great time.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Back To Poker

But first a quick football update.

I got a commendably swift response from the Whistleblower site, and have had a short interchange with them, which is still ongoing.

I'll update further when that is concluded.

On the poker front, I'm seeing some extraordinary play in the last day or two. It must be the holiday season bringing out the occasional players.

I genuinely wonder if some of them know the rules of the game they are playing. This leads to a lot of straights losing to 2-pair that fill up on the river, sets losing to people drawing to mediocre flushes and backing into straights, etc.

That's all part of the game, and it's just a case of taking the medicine and getting back to the table.

The bonus is the players are often so bad, they don't get paid when they hit. Instead choosing to check it down, and let me see for free just how lucky they got.

One ATM this afternoon burned through EIGHT buy-ins in about forty five minutes, playing and raising well over half his starting hands. It was incredible to watch.

I was the happy recipient of some of his money, but I've redistributed it elsewhere tonight.

The other thing I've noticed is that chat is even worse than normal. So, I've had to turn it off again.

Which is a shame, since poker is a sociable game. But there's only so many moronic rednecks I can tolerate, before I start to get distracted.

It's fun to needle them, but leads me astray from the cards, so time to set temptation aside, for now.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Constable Savage and Commentator Brown

This article has been bouncing around my head for a few weeks, but since very few Celtic fans read my blog, it didn't seem relevant enough to post. Thanks to Paul at Celtic Quick News, things have changed somewhat in the last day!

The inspiration was hearing the classic Not The Nine O'Clock News Constable Savage sketch, on a matchday morning.

As the sketch progressed, I couldn't help but transpose Jock Brown and his ongoing obsession with Neil Lennon, for the aforementioned constable.

(As an aside, there's a long standing movie cliche that the boy/girl usually fight like crazy before eventually succumbing to their true feelings. Does Jock have a crush on Neil?)

Of course all of this is purely a product of my fevered imagination, and couldn't possibly have the slightest grounding in reality or fact.

The Scene: Jock(J) is taken to task by the producer(P) for complaints about his commentating.

P: (The Setanta producer’s voice has a cutting edge.) Come in, shut the door. Now then, Brown, I want to talk to you about some comments you have been making lately. I think that perhaps you’re being a little overzealous.
J: (in a loud and somewhat pompous voice) Which comments do you mean then, sir?
P: Well, for instance, this one: loitering with intent to pass the ball to a team mate. Brown, maybe you’re not aware of this, but it is not illegal to make an accurate pass. Neither is running less quickly than others an offence.
J: You’re sure, sir?
P: Also there is no law against making a tackle on an opponent or sweating on the field of play.
J: If you say so, sir.
P: Yes, I do say so, Brown! Didn’t they teach you anything at law school?
J: I’m sorry, sir.
P: Some of these cases are plain stupid: looking at Barry Ferguson in a funny way ...Is this some kind of joke, Brown?
J: No, sir.
P: And we have some more here: walking on the grass, wearing a hooped shirt in a built-up area on a Sunday afternoon and possession of an offensive heritage. In short, Brown, in the space of one season you’ve brought 117 ridiculous, trumped-up and ludicrous charges.
J: Yes, sir.
P: Against the same man, Brown.
J: Yes, sir.
P: A Mr Neil Lennon of Glasgow Celtic.
J: Yes, sir.
P: (to Brown, who’s been standing so far) Sit down, Brown!
J: Yes, sir.
P: Brown, why do you keep criticising this man?
J: He’s a villain, sir.
P: A villain...
J: And a jailbird.
P: (exploding) I know he’s a jailbird, Brown. He’s down in the cells now. The SFA are holding him on a charge of possession of ginger hair and an Irish accent.
J: Well, well, well, well there you are, sir.
P: You accused him, Brown!
J: (stupidly pleased) Thank you, sir.
P: Brown, would I be correct in assuming that Mr Lennon is a Catholic gentleman?
J: Well, I can’t say I’ve ever noticed, sir.
P: (absolutely furious) Brown, you’re a bigot. It’s journalists like you that give the media a bad name. The fans love to jump on instances like that and the reputation of our profession can be permanently tarnished. Your whole time on television is dominated by racial hatred and petty personal vendettas. Do you get some kind of perverted gratification from going around stirring up trouble?
J: Yes (!), sir!
P: There’s no room for men like you in my company, Brown. I’m transferring you to The Sunday People. Get out!
J: Thank you, sir. (leaves the room)

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Corrupt State Of Scottish Football

When I started this blog, it was necessary to enter a blog description. As part of my description, I included the phrase 'Occasional comments on Glasgow Celtic Football Club, and the rotten, corrupt state of Scottish football.'

The word corrupt is a pretty strong one, and to understand where I was coming from, it may be instructive to pay a visit to the definition of the word corrupt.

1. Marked by immorality and perversion; depraved.
2. Venal; dishonest: a corrupt mayor.
3. Containing errors or alterations, as a text: a corrupt translation.
4. Archaic. Tainted; putrid.

Whilst I certainly think that Scottish football can at times be described as immoral, tainted, and putrid, my main interest is in the venal and dishonest.

The game in Scotland is administered by people who gain a lot from the game, but offer little in return - which certainly meets the definition of venal. I'm thinking here of the faceless suits who finagle their way into office bearing positions, and gain access to worldwide junkets financed indirectly by the season ticket holders at clubs across Scotland.

Scotland will not have a football team at World Cup 2006, but I guarantee we will have some men in suits there, and probably their wives too. They will fly business class, stay in expensive hotels, and dine in fine restaurants.

More importantly, in my eyes, there is a huge amount of dishonesty prevalent in the refereeing of the game. Dishonesty not in the sense of results being bought, but dishonesty in the sense of a complete refusal to accept any error or misjudgement on the part of those who officiate.

It seems to me those in power recognise that any admission of incompetence by the men-in-black on a Saturday, might reflect on their own shortcomings, and provide ammunition for those who seek an overhaul of the entire game.

The SFA tends to rule in the manner of an extreme communist regime, where control is centralised and no failings are ever acknowledged.

Proving this inherent dishonesty is usually rather tricky, as most incidents fall into the category of 'calling it as he saw it'. The defence which is usually deployed goes along the lines 'The referee only sees it once, and can't be faulted if he saw it wrong. He doesn't have the benefit of TV replays.'

The fact that everyone else in the stadium saw the incident differently without recourse to a TV replay is of no consequence to those in control.

As part of their ongoing PR campaign to protect referees from criticism, the SFA introduced the Whistleblower website.

This site is trumpeted as tackling head-on any controversial decisions, with the referees themselves explaining the decision. 'Explaining' in SFA terms, being a synonym for 'justifying'.

What this means in practise, is controversial incidents which the referee got wrong are either ignored, or reinterpreted, and controversial incidents where the referee got it right are highlighted.

Except this weekend, the SFA are damned by their very own words. The incident in question concerns a penalty awarded to Inverness Caledonian Thistle in their game against Celtic.

The penalty was controversial for two reasons.

1. Many observers felt it was not a penalty. The suggestion being that Inverness Caledonian Thistle player Craig Dargo dived, when tackled by Celtic's Stephen McManus.
2. The penalty having been awarded, some people claimed that McManus should have been yellow carded, and consequently sent off for a second yellow card.

The Whistleblower site, as expected, completely ignores reason 1, as that might imply criticism of referee Stuart Dougal, and instead focuses on why Mr Dougal did not send off McManus.

In doing so, they damn themselves with their own words. The words in question being a DIRECT QUOTE from Stuart Dougal.

The key quote is

On the penalty incident which Dougal said was "impeding rather than a physical or brutal challenge"

Note a direct quote from Stuart Dougal, that the punishable offence was 'impeding'.

Mr Dougal then goes on to say, again in a direct quote, 'Given the position of the infringement and the type of offence, the award of the penalty was sufficient. A foul yes, a penalty kick yes but a cautionable!'

Now see Law 12 of the Laws Of Football, as documented on the FIFA website.

'An indirect free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player, in the opinion of the referee:

plays in a dangerous manner
impedes the progress of an opponent'

Further, see Law 14 of the Laws Of Football, which states 'A penalty kick is awarded against a team that commits one of the ten offences for which a direct free kick is awarded, inside its own penalty area and while the ball is in play.'

So, in the section of the SFA website dedicated to explaining the actions of referees, Mr Dougal has admitted that he incorrectly awarded a penalty to Inverness Caledonian Thistle, when in his own opinion the offence which was committed merited only an indirect freekick.

The usual 'called it as he saw it' defence cannot be brought to bear, since Mr Dougal himself admits to calling it differently to what he actually saw.

Yet somehow this blatant misapplication of the laws of the game is completely ignored. Not only did Mr Dougal get it wrong at the time, he is getting it wrong on the official SFA website, and his comments pass without challenge.

In doing so, the SFA confirms the corruption of the Scottish game.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

U2 Can Be On The BBC

Well, fingers crossed but perhaps the slump is over. Two winning sessions in a row.

Hardly the stuff of early retirement and a life of leisure, but substantially better than what had gone before.

I'm still stuck for the month, but not quite so badly. That was a truly evil run of cards, for which I have at least some documentary proof.

Can you believe those stats? This in a game where 60% of players routinely see a flop - though most of them are pretty bad.

Whilst checking my Sitemeter stats I was prompted to pick up another interesting screen capture. Somehow I'd got a referral from the BBC Six Music website - my favourite online station.

Keane or Roy Keane
On checking the site, I discovered my blog was showing in the 'Music News From The Web' section. I'm guessing they run some sort of filter for band names and somehow mistook fiery footballer Roy Keane, for middle-of-the-road tunesters Keane.

Not a mistake I'd like to make, but an explanation for the rather obtuse title of this post.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Will Roy Be Keane To Fit In?

Och, I know that's as cheesy a headline as you can get, but I couldn't resist.

No matter how cringeworthy the headline, the point is valid. Where will Roy Keane play for Celtic?

I can't see him going to centre half. All the suggestions are Du Wei is a quality defender, and he will take over from Bobo Balde when he goes to play in the African Nations competition.

Midfield? Drop Lennon or Petrov? Can't see it.

Petrov to wide right, Nakamura to the left. Maybe.

Keane on bench? Impossible.

Still, better too many good players than not enough. I'd have preferred the money to go on two quality full backs though.

One thing is for sure, as a business decision it's already looking good. When I tried to access the official Celtic website this afternoon, it had crashed.

That shows the extent of the Roy Keane effect. The number of hits generated must have been phenomenal.

The Celtic commercial department will be having a very merry Christmas, I'm sure.

Roy Keane Signs For Celtic Until 2007

I recorded my views on Roy Keane signing for Celtic a while ago.

His signing until 2007 is something of a surprise. I'd expected 6 months with a 12 month option to follow.

The most important question is, does the manager actually want him here?

We will find out exactly where Gordon Strachan sees him fitting into the Celtic jigsaw in January - reportedly against Clyde.

They will need a bigger media room at Broadwood.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Vegas Envy

I love to travel; and I love to play poker.

So, you will understand the extreme jealousy I am experiencing whilst perusing the myriad Vegas trip reports.

With only three days remaining in my present job, and two weeks holidays awaiting me, I really should be in a better mood.

Maybe it's the Vegas envy. Maybe it's withdrawal symptoms, since I've barely had time to wield mouse or chip in December. Maybe it's frustration that whenever I do, the results are against me - no matter how far ahead I am when the chips go in.

Whatever the reason, some local apprentice chose the wrong person to get gallus with in front of his workmate.

Ambling to work, across the industrial estate within which my hi-tech office was bizarrely planted, I crossed the path of a van exiting the plumbers merchant's yard.

It's worth mentioning this is a very wide exit road, with no pedestrian footpath.

In my typically semi-conscious early morning state, at first I barely noticed the van.

The exit is clearly marked as a 'Give Way' junction, and I'd be halfway across before the van got there.

Despite this, I'd usually stop and let it past - if the driver showed any sign of behaving courteously by slowing down.

That might seem a slightly perverse attitude, but generally I like to reward good behaviour rather than grumble about bad. I'm always polite to people until they are impolite to me, at which point I'll simply reflect and amplify their own impoliteness.

If the shop assistant says 'please'; I'll say 'thank you'. If they ignore me and continue chatting to their mate about what they did at the weekend, I'll butt in and talk right over them. Seems fair to me.

Returning to this morning, after crossing the road I heard a voice, but not the words it uttered. I glanced quizzically over my shoulder just as the van pulled alongside me.

The driver - who looked like he'd never needed a shave in his life - was smirking up at me, and I could see he had a passenger.

'Haw mate. This is a road.'


'Yeah, and that's a Give Way sign! Can you drive? Do you HAVE a license? Can you read a road sign?'

If I'd turned green and burst out of my clothes, he couldn't have looked more surprised.

Jaw sagging, his gaze returned to the road, and off he drove - without a word more spoken.

Work today feels infinitely more bearable than usual.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Nappy Days

Pah. It may be WPBT time in Vegas, but this weekend was also time for the annual Jolly Boys Outing.

This has been an annual fixture in the Div calendar pretty much since I could legally drink alcohol. That's 18 years old, just for you unfortunate Americans.

The Jolly Boys Outing generally involves a bunch of us setting a day aside to get absolutely hammered, usually tied to some other activities such as a pool tournament or casino visit. Wives and partners are not invited.

This year we decided to kick off the day with the Celtic v Hibs game, which proved to be a wise decision.

Many years ago, I can recall the visits of Alex Ferguson's Aberdeen, and Jim McLean's Dundee United, as being significant events on the football calendar. The sort of game where a 1-0 win was a great result worthy of celebration afterwards.

For a very long time, save for the Rangers fixtures, there's been no comparable event to look forward to. Until now.

While Hearts gave Celtic a tough time in the recent 1-1 draw, their style of play is geared towards being organised and difficult to beat. Hibs, on the other hand, play fast, attacking football.

The stage was set then, for an entertaining 90 minutes. With such anticipation, it's not unusual for the game to be an anti-climax.

For once, the teams didn't let us down. 90 minutes of exhilarating action, great goals, fierce tackling, open play, and a real sense of drama about the whole occasion. Culminating in a 3-2 win for Celtic.

All of which left us buzzing at the final whistle, and with a healthy thirst worked up. The perfect way to kick things off.

I can't comment too much on the rest of the day, other than to say many pubs were visited, and a taxi home from the casino ended the night. My memory of the whole thing is pretty fuzzy, and two days later I'm still recovering.

Which perhaps suggests it's a blessing that I couldn't afford the time or money to make it to Vegas. Though I know at least one UK blogger did. Maybe next year.

Even though I made it to the casino, I didn't have the inclination to gamble. I'm having one of those months where everything I touch turns bad, so the prospect of a drunken blackjack session held little appeal.

I offer as an example losing with double suited Aces to a maniac who calls a raise and 24BB reraise pre-flop with K744, catches a solitary king on the most uncoordinated flop imaginable, and calls off the rest of his stack only to river another king for trips. This after I have already sat through FIVE orbits of the table without winning a hand. Waaahh.

Even worse, I'm pretty sure from his username that he was a fellow Scot. Must have been a Rangers fan!

While my poker game may be making little progress recently, it's fair to say Baby Div is going great guns. We started her on solids fairly recently, and she has taken to them with gusto.

While it's great to see her doing so well, and enjoying her new foods, one unfortunate side effect is a dramatic deterioration in her nappy output. Boy do they stink!

Which is bad enough under normal circumstances, but given my extended hangover I have really been suffering over the last 48 hours.

Such is the content of her nappies, I wouldn't be surprised to receive a furtive approach from some emissary of the Iranian Government, seeking new and deadlier warheads for their missiles.

Since we are feeding her on steamed carrots they have also adopted a most unusual hue.

The staining power of pure carrots is something I'd never appreciated before. After a few fountains of orangey, milky puke, Mrs Div and I have learned to maintain our guard at all times, and liberally swathe the baby and furniture in muslin cloths and towels to prevent staining during feeding time.

All of which works fine, but is no defence against the byproduct of the carrot consumption. Whilst dealing with one such output today, I thought my streaming eyes were deceiving me.

Despite my most vigorous efforts with a fistfull of baby wipes, I could not shift the final residue. That's when it dawned on me it was not in fact residual baby poo, but an altogether more stubborn problem.

The carrot infused poo had tanned the baby's bottom in a colour reminiscent of Christina Aguilera in one of her more outrageous moments. A problem not even the strongest baby wipe can deal with.

I did light heartedly suggest we tried a couple of Oxy-wipes as an alternative solution, but Mrs Div vetoed that one.

Bath time tonight seems to have resolved the situation, fortunately.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Prophet

An all too familiar scene. Me on the laptop playing poker. The wife in close proximity.

A new player joins the table. Except, he isn't an entirely new player, for the notes icon is visible.

So I check what they say, and quickly beckon the wife over to see.

She laughs.

TWO HANDS into his session, the guy blows his buy-in, and leaves with tail between legs.

What did the notes say?

Total moron. Made a massive bet into a dry sidepot and pushed me off the best hand. All-in guy survived.

Will take 2 pair to showdown on a flush board.

Reraises with a set on a flush board! Absolute fuckwit.

I wasn't wrong.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A Change Is As Good As A Rest

I've been on something of a blogging hiatus this week.

Principally because there's been very little poker played - save for one 'can't win a hand' session at the weekend. Expensive and very frustrating.

It's amazing how many people will draw to see the river whilst chasing a flush draw. When they are roughly 4/1 against hitting, and it's a pot size bet to call.

In the long run (that phrase again!) it's very profitable to play against people who will take those odds. Yet there's nothing statistically unusual about three or four draws hitting in succession.

Mustn't grumble. Grrr.

Away from the world of poker, I've finally made the leap and quit my job.

Since I'd already booked extensive holidays over the Christmas period, the end will come relatively quickly. Next Friday to be precise.

As of January I return to the mercenary world of IT contracting. Initially I've lined up a 6-month contract in a location relatively close to home. Each day I should save almost two hours of commuting time, which translates to either more bed time, or more time with the family.

It's a real shame to be leaving my current employer. The owners are good guys, who treat their staff well. They just haven't been able to find enough of the work I want to do.

Contracting is a step back career wise, but has potentially higher monetary rewards - so long as I keep healthy and in employment.

It also means a lot less emotional commitment to the job at hand, which in my case at least translates to less stress.

When I was a young and naive graduate, I carried the burden of the job home with me every night. At that time I was working for a young successful firm which was growing rapidly. I knew the owners, and really liked the management, so I was perhaps over committed to the job.

When I went contracting I became emotionally detached from the work. By the time I was out the office door each night, I'd forgotten what I was working on and could unwind instantly.

The last 18 months has seen a return to my earlier days, so I'm hoping contracting will get that out of my system. Having some previous experience of the workplace I will be based in, I think it should work out that way.

The thought is also buzzing around my head that a few years of contracting might put me in a position to consider a complete career change.

I'm making no firm plans right now, but keeping an open mind.

In the short term, the new job means it's back to driving, so its time for the Div household to become a two car family.

This should really have happened before the baby arrived, but I wasn't keen to take on the cost of a new car then, so we have been getting by with a (not so) super mini until now.

This weekend Mrs Div and I will be touring the showrooms, wrestling with the quandary of whether to go down the MPV or estate route.

I'm more inclined towards a big diesel estate, but some people suggest an MPV is a more baby friendly option. We might try to sort out a few test drives prior to Christmas.

I am hoping this will be a quiet time of year for car sales, and we might catch a few good deals if the garages want to boost their end of year numbers. Time to get the negotiating hat on.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Game Report: Cincinnati Club Limited Rebuy 1/12/05

Made it along to The Cincinnati Club last Thursday for their regular limited rebuy NLH tourney. (Yes I am behind on updates)

The club was pretty busy with forty odd runners in the tourney and two cash games kicking off quickly thereafter. A small buy in NLH game, and the big 6-card Omaha game.

I heard a rumour that the Sunday 6-card Omaha game is seeing over six figures worth of chips on the table! I like my Omaha, but I'd need to remortgage the house to buy in to that game. The swings must be enormous.

With the club busy I found myself seated at one of the upstairs tables for the commencement of the tourney.

Early doors I was getting loads of decent but not great hands. First two hands I was dealt ATs twice.

Each time I open-raised, got called, missed the flop but made a continuation bet, and saw the opponent(s) fold. Very nice.

I was pretty aware folk would be getting sick of my constant raising and betting so was hoping for a big hand to get properly paid with.

Sure enough, along comes QQ. I raise, guy reraises, I thought about going all-in but called to see a Qxx flop. Very nice.

I check check-called the flop, and think I might have check-raised on the turn. Can't remember the exact details. Anyway, the opponent put all his chips in with 77(no set). He must have thought I had AK.

(Note to self - must take notes after big hands)

I then got AA soon after and picked up two callers to my raise. One of whom folded to a flop bet on a board with two hearts. The other check-called. Turn was a non heart queen, so assuming he was flushing, I put him all in.

He called with Q-rag of hearts and missed on the river. My chip stack was looking pretty healthy at the break, so I declined the top up.

After that it was all downhill. I got AQs. Raised, and at this point one of the guys says 'Is that you got KK to complete your collection?' With two callers I saw a K high flop which totally missed me again. First guy bets and I fold.

I also tangled with local poker pro The Tank. Who in real life resembles a tank as much as I resemble Brad Pitt.

When trying to take his blind with my KTo, he called pre flop, then raised all in when I bet the flop (which I'd missed yet again!). I think I was probably ahead, but it was a pretty marginal call so I folded.

The table then broke and I went downstairs. On the new table fellow TPT member Teacake busted out almost immediately. The chips went in on an Ace high flop after a raise, reraise and call pre-flop - Teacake with AK, the opponent with AJ. The turn a J...

The guy who took his chips played a lot of hands, and I got few chances to open raise as he kept limping. The one chance I got, I raised with something like Q5s and the SB reraised all-in. Fold!

By now I was gradually getting blinded away with no hands at all. Eventually the other guy who'd come downstairs from my starting table made an early position raise. I trebled the bet to go all in with 98o from the button.

My reasoning was I'd been playing so tight, and he'd only ever seen me show down AA and QQ, so he'd need a monster to call. He called with AQ. Doh. No help for me and I was out.

This is an interesting hand for a variety of reasons. I checked the odds on Cardplayer and pre-flop it was 37.6%/62.4% against me. The guy had to call 5200 to win about 10,000 so it's actually a lot more marginal than it first appears.

It's also an interesting example of the folly of trying to play the opponent rather than the cards in these small buy-in events. I've only played three times at CinCins, and twice I've busted out trying to push an opponent off a better hand.

I don't think I've got a monster tell. The first time the guy admitted he thought he was beat and it was a crying call.

On reflection, I still had enough of a stack to take at least one more orbit of the blinds before making a big move, but it seemed like a great opportunity to try to steal a decent stack of chips and buy more time. If my stack dwindles much more, I won't have the firepower to put anyone to the test.

In future, I think I'll revert to ABC poker until later in the game. I seem to recall a poker pro (possibly Tom McEvoy?) saying something along the lines - you gotta stay in long enough to get lucky.

I certainly got lucky with some nice starting hands, but only really hit two flops all night - with both the big starting hands. QQ flops top set, AA flops a good enough draw to get all the flushers chips.

I was probably due some more decent hands, if I'd given myself the time. Next visit I'll try to stick around longer and get lucky.

Friday, December 02, 2005

November Summary

Looking back on my November stats reads like a minute-by-minute account of a short war. 90% boredom, 10% frantic activity.

I didn't play a great deal, and when I did, I managed to get myself into a pretty deep hole in a short period of time. Down around $400 at one point.

Yet by month end, I had somehow ground my way back into the black - though only just.

Reviewing some of my session details, the lesson is pretty clear. I need to lose the stubborn streak and bail out earlier when running bad. One bad session can overturn the good work of four or five winning ones.

Some of my stats in the winning sessions are insane. I'm seeing less than 10% of flops, but winning 80% of my showdowns. Often the table average is 60% to every flop.

When I started playing Omaha, I couldn't multi table since I found it too complex. Now I can three table. It would be four if I had a bigger monitor.

My understanding and speed of reading the board has dramatically improved, but it's also due to playing a lot less hands.

One of the dangers in Omaha is there are a multitude of potentially alluring starting hands, and it's often easier to find reasons to play a hand rather than not play it. I've learned to be very selective, especially out of position.

Aside from poker, November was pretty decent on the footballing front - the Dunfermline aberration excepted. The writing is on the wall for a few of the old guard, as Gordon Strachan moves the team in a new direction.

The January transfer window should be interesting.

Family life also has been going well, and an impending change on the job front should improve it further. More on that soon if things go to plan...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Internet Infamy At Last

Someone found my blog through searching on MSN for young illegal lolitas.

At last, I now feel truly part of the world wide web!

That was one determined pervert. I was number 100 on the list of sites. Kudos for the effort, if not the intent.

That's about the most noteworthy blog event so far this week, though I played enough poker to almost get back to even for the month. Mostly $100 PLO.

I eventually backed off, after witnessing some of the worst bad beats I have ever seen. None of them affected me directly, but one in particular was so atrocious it put me on proxy tilt.

A 1-outer in a $320 pot to catch quads over top set. Even worse, the suckout merchant was a typical obnoxious trash talking moron who was big upping himself as though he had actually played the hand well.

The table moron having the biggest stack is hardly the saddest sight one can witness in poker. Especially when he is two to the right - in perfect trapping position for Omaha. Softly, softly, catchy monkey...

Unfortunately, he decided to leave soon after his big win, claiming the table had got 'boring'. I think this is moron speak for 'I got so lucky I almost peed myself with glee, and I'm cutting and running before I blow it all'.

Understandably the suckout recipient - having reloaded - was none too happy, and wanted to go play heads up. The moron was having none of it.

That was my last serious poker session of the week. After watching Celtic's abysmal 'performance' against Dunfermline, I was on super tilt.

Instead of poker, I reinstalled Sudden Strike and spent the weekend launching artillery strikes and air raids on Panzers. Much more suited to my mood.

I did venture into two $10 SNG on PokerStars, just for fun. I soon regretted it.

These were my bread-and-butter at the start of the year, but now it's just a way of killing an hour or so.

I'd read that Stars was tougher than most sites for SNG and tourneys, but on the evidence of these two games, Thanksgiving weekend had brought out the loons.

We all know we should embrace the fish, and have carrots in hand at all times to tempt in the donkeys, but really there is a limit to what I can stand. Especially when the donkeys are of the loud, braying type.

Yet again a total luckbox - 2-outers and 3-outers on successive hands - couldn't resist telling everyone, without a hint of irony, what a great player he was.

When another player begged to differ, the slagging began. The luckbox professed himself to be a super-hard mixed martial arts champ - owner of a University of Nevada 'golddin glove' award.

Amusingly the other guy turned out to be something similar, from the same state.

After a bout of 'hey I train with Fast Fingers Freddie he'll tell you how tough I am' type comments, it almost looked like a grudge match was on, but I suspect the moron knew he was as much dead meat as dead money.

I think we can safely assume he'd never trained with Howard Lederer either.

That was enough for me. I just wasn't in the mood to stomach the stupidity that was being inflicted on me, so I gave up for the weekend. Almost as meekly as Rangers. Heh.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

George Best

Time to brave the Scottish weather and head to Celtic Park for a top v bottom clash, as Dunfermline visit. The match to be preceded by a minute of applause for the now departed George Best.

I remember seeing the NME front cover reporting the death of Elvis. It showed not a bloated, jump-suited, Vegas era Elvis; but a young, leather clad, vibrant Elvis, strutting his stuff on stage.

The headline - 'Elvis, Remember Him This Way'

So it is with George Best. He can be remembered as the jaundiced, broken addict, whose shambolic personal life prematurely ended his career; or as the mesmerising attacker who left defenders trailing and entertained millions.

Some aspects of his personal life were pretty enviable too. 'The Fifth Beatle', 'The first footballer-popstar'. What young man wouldn't wish they could one day utter the immortal phrases:

'I spent a lot of my money on booze, birds and fast cars - the rest I just squandered.'

'I used to go missing a lot...Miss Canada, Miss United Kingdom, Miss World.'

No one had done it before, so his failure to handle the fame shouldn't be that surprising.

George Best, remember him this way

Yet Best was hardly the ideal role model, and some of his off-field behaviour went beyond questionable, and well into despicable.

So I was surprised by how affected I was by his death. Amidst the tributes, one photo really caught my eye. It wasn't an iconic shot from his Manchester United days; but a more intimate shot of Best asleep on the couch with his baby son held close. Both look content and at peace.

George Best and Calum

The Div family album has recently gained a few very similar shots. It brought home to me that while some may be given talents the rest of us can only dream of, ultimately we are all only human. We have our good side and our bad; our skills and weaknesses.

We all have our families. Best was survived by his father, who now has to bury his son.

There can be few more traumatic events in life than burying your child. My own gran had to do it three times, and it's not an experience I would wish on anyone.

I don't know how Mr Best handled the publicity over his son's private life and off-field excesses. Yet I'm sure there is one apt quote, which he will remember fondly. It's probably the same quote Best himself will wish to be remembered by:

'Pele called me the greatest footballer in the world. That is the ultimate salute to my life.'

Friday, November 25, 2005

Oma-tard or Oma-hard?

Or neither of the above, perhaps.

This has hardly been a vintage month, but I've managed to recover most of my losses on the $0.5/1 PLO8 tables.

It's gratifying that for every half-decent player, there seem to be four or five absolute muppets.

I don't lay any great claim to be an Omaha genius, but the hands some people play just leave me stunned. For example a Hi/Lo game where people start with hands like QQQ5. wtf!?

Where to start? No low draw, one card to hit for a possible top set, no straight draw, a Q high flush draw. Sheer madness.

The only frustrating this is that I need to get cards to take money off these people since the concept of folding seems alien to many of them. So it's essential to have the best hand at showdown.

This takes the art out of poker, since representing a hand is absolutely pointless. It's also extremely frustrating to see the muppets bleed cash while I wait for a hand to arrive. Patience, patience.

One thing I have indisputably learned in Omaha is that the nut flush on flop or turn is not a hand to be played subtly.

Slow playing is just begging for the sets or two pair hands that will be out there to draw to a full house.

My biggest win of last night was flopping top set on a flushing board, my pot bet being raised, calling to see the flush hit on turn.

Ready to check-fold I actually pay to see the river when my opponent makes only a small bet, and the full house hits, whereupon I relieve my opponent of all his cash.

To be fair this guy was super unlucky, as not only did he have the nut flush, but he also flopped second set, so he also made a full house on the river. Tough beat, but there would have been no river if he bet properly on the turn.

This situation is becoming a recurring theme. I've learned the lesson, let's pray the muppets continue to believe differently.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Eurobet Not Skint

The fallout from the Party Gaming upheaval continues. Some fractious, some not so fractious.

On the fractious side, Empire are now threatening to sue Party. I can see where they are coming from. The Party bully boy tactics are pretty nasty.

Whether they justify a lawsuit or not, is in the hands of the courts now.

On the non-fractious - indeed positively harmonious - side of things, Coral Eurobet have now made the switch to PokerRoom software.

The email prompting me to change software also includes a juicy 100% to $600 reload bonus. Yum, yum.

Eurobet has pretty much avoided the issue regarding the big split. Instead they simply refer to an 'upgrade' to their software.

Ignorance is bliss, I presume. Any customers so lacking in savvy they haven't worked out what has happened, are unlikely to need to understand the nuts and bolts of the situation.

It's a pretty clear indication that Eurobet intend to stay in the market in a serious way. As I said previously, they are part of a very large gaming group, and certainly not short of financial clout.

I'm not sure how the big bonus will impact on my rakeback deal, but it seems to be a no lose scenario, so long as I can find some decent games to play in on the PokerRoom network.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Green Felt Bad, Green Grass Good

Thank goodness for families and football!

If I was relying on poker to keep me happy over the last few days, I'd have been heading for the nearest cliff to throw myself off.

I recently moved up to playing the $.5/1 Pot Limit Omaha tables - both High only and Hi/Lo.

There were a few reasons for this. Partly it was just because I could - the bankroll has done quite well recently - but primarily it was because I'm trying to improve, and I need to play better players to stretch myself more.

Initially I'd been quite successful. In a way it was quite disappointing to find out the bigger buy-in brings only marginally better players to the table.

One thing I'd changed in my game after the step up was playing more deceptively, and doing less nut peddling, but the moves seem pretty wasted on most of the players.

For example, bluffing at a flush board with the bare ace still seems doomed to failure.

Over the last few nights, though, I took quite a spanking. The hand that set it off was the runner-runner quads I referred to in a previous post. That had me more than a little tilty.

Then, on Thursday night, I lost probably my biggest online pot. Somewhere in the region of $220. Chickenfeed to some; quite significant to me.

Saying I lost it is not strictly true. It was a Hi/Lo pot and I still took down one quarter.

What made it frustrating was that all the money went in on the turn when I was 90% certain I was taking at least three-quarters of the pot. As it transpired, my read was accurate, but the river was cruel.

I'd limped with a pretty good low hand and called a raise from a very aggressive Scandinavian player. I had picked up a tendency by this particular player to bet very hard when he had a good low hand, regardless of the high.

The flop came with two low cards, giving me a draw to the nut low, and 2nd pair for a high. I check-called a bet from the Scandie.

The turn gave me the nut low, and I still had 2nd pair for a high, with no obvious big hand out there. Not a massive hand, but I was pretty sure, based on previous observations, that he had the same low as me, and probably no high.

This is a pretty marginal situation, but if my read was correct, I stood to make a big profit by three-quartering my Scandie friend. So, I check-raised him, and was quite happy to see him push all-in.

Sure enough, he had the same low, and no high. Which was great. Until he made a gutshot straight on the river, to rake three-quarters of the pot. Waaahhh. Not happy.

Friday brought more pain, this time at the High tables.

The defining theme for the night was some unusually loose-aggressive play from myself, which saw me getting involved in a lot more pots than usual. Some of which I won, quite a few of which I lost.

I had been making a conscious effort to be more aggressive, but I did let it go a bit far. Not sure why. Pre-game nerves perhaps.

I did lay one brutal suckout on an opponent, based on a total misread of his betting. With top set on a flushing flop, I smooth called a bet from an EP player, hoping to keep the guys behind me in the pot, and ready to check-raise if anyone got frisky.

I was figuring EP guy for a smaller set, or two pair. I didn't think he would bet a flush draw into quite a big field.

As it happens, the players behind me all folded, leaving us heads up. So, when the flush card came on the turn, I wasn't too concerned, and raised his initial bet.

When he reraised all-in, I should have folded, but I still didn't believe he had the flush.

He did. Which was unfortunate for me - until the board paired on the river, giving me the full house.

That said, I was the victim of a few unusual plays myself, including a role reversal of the flush-turn, full house-river scenario.

The most extraordinary play was being raised and reraised pre-flop whilst holding AAxx.

The reraiser had KKK6!? Of course he won the hand with a K-high flush. One of the situations where I was holding the bare Ace.

Whether he actually knows the rules of Omaha, I don't know, but playing that hand in any circumstances is pretty bad. Reraising it preflop is insane.

Still, I shouldn't complain. I should be praying he plays every hand against me that badly.

Over the last few sessions, I reckon I could probably assign 40% of my losses to my own bad play; 40% to suckouts; and 20% to being outplayed.

That's an eminently recoverable situation. My own bad play can be improved, the suckouts even out over time, and I took copious notes on the players who actually made good moves on me. I may not be able to outplay them yet, but I can certainly avoid them.

That's one refreshing change from the lower limit tables. There are still plenty maniacs and fish at this level, but in a way it feels good to actually take some notes that don't consist entirely of words such as 'maniac', 'moron', and 'calling station'.

For the next few weeks, I think I'll be reverting to nut peddling, and more limited experimentation, while I gather more notes on other players.

Fortunately for my good nature, Celtic dished out another sound beating to Rangers yesterday. Which had the dual benefits of cheering me up, and getting me out of the house and away from poker.

It also got me extremely drunk last night, and led to a 12-hour sleep. Now you know where Baby Div gets her sleeping habits from.

Interestingly it now looks like Rangers may replace Alex McLeish with Paul le Guen - the man I thought was best choice to replace Martin O'Neill at Celtic. If they do, let's hope I was wrong!

Time will tell.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Keane-no, Keane-no, Keane-hmm, well, maybe

Roy Keane's abrupt departure from Manchester United, and his well documented affinity with Celtic, has led to the inevitable speculation that he will soon be a Celtic player.

Celtic themselves, surprisingly in my eyes, have been quick to encourage the rumours:

"If at any time Roy would like to speak to us about his future and Celtic's, we would be only too happy to speak to him, but as yet there have been no discussions."

My immediate reaction, was 'no way'.

Keane WAS a fantastic midfielder - the type who could win a game by sheer force of will. Capable of overcoming his limited technical skills with passion, determination, and an intimidating presence which drained his opponents of the will to fight.

If he was 26 years old, and fighting fit, Celtic fans would be rejoicing from the rooftops at news of his possible signing.

However, his powers are in decline, and years of all-action football have left him carrying a multitude of injuries. At 34 he had already outlived his usefulness to the Manchester United first eleven.

His formidable disciplinary record would also leave him vulnerable to the attention seeking elements of the Scottish refereeing brotherhood.

Added to this is a wage bill rumoured to be £80,000 PER WEEK at Manchester United!

Why then, would Celtic wish to recruit Roy Keane?

He would by no means be guaranteed a start in the current Celtic midfield; though he would certainly strengthen the options for squad rotation.

If, and it is a big if, he could manage a prolonged period at full fitness, he would still be more than capable of bossing most SPL midfield battles.

He would certainly boost the media profile of the club in England, where Celtic's long term ambitions lie.

One area which has not been mentioned is Ireland.

Historically, Celtic has had a big Irish following. With Sky's glamourisation - and blanket coverage - of The Premiership, the big English teams, including Manchester United, have absorbed much of the support which previously came Celtic's way.

Perhaps the board see this as an opportunity to re-invigorate their Irish connections. In the same way that the signings of Shunsuke Nakamura and Du Wei have established new Celtic connections in Japan and China.

They may see a deal which brings a degree of footballing benefit, and a degree of commercial opportunity, as being worthy of funding.

If so, I would presume any package would be on the basis of a limited salary, with generous appearance and performance bonuses.

Certainly, I don't imagine a 3-year deal to be on the table. More likely 6-months with a 1-year option.

Perhaps there will be one extra attendee at Celtic Park tomorrow. I'm sure the press cameras will be ready.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Silent Nights

Happiness is...

7.15pm Bath baby
7.30pm Change baby
7.40pm Feed baby
8.00pm Baby asleep
8.00am Baby awakes!

In other happy events, there's been news of a boost for the British comedy industry.

After years of criticism over the production of a string of sub-standard shows, while US imports shone, an unlikely new source of comedic material has emerged.

Speaking about the numerous arrests for sectarian offences amongst Rangers fans during their recent defeat by Celtic, the Rangers Supporters Trust accused police of displaying 'a nakedly political agenda by systematically and unreasonably targeting Rangers supporters'.

Why, they demanded to know, were Rangers fans 'statistically 90 times more likely to be arrested for sectarian offences than Celtic fans'?

Well, durr. I laughed so hard when I read that on the morning train, I almost exhaled coffee through my nose.

Keep up the standard of writing and they might be able to raise enough cash to hire a decent manager.

This reminds me of the old joke about the mother who goes to see her son's passing out parade from army training. She is so proud because 'my boy is the only one marching in time to the music'.

Responding to the Rangers Supporters Trust comments, a police spokesman said 'the number of arrests at last week's game reflected the general behaviour of supporters at the match.'

So there you have it.

Always Look On The Bright Side...

$100 PLO PokerStars...Flopped set, opponent with top pair, runner-runner quads. That's a 0.01% chance for you maths fetishists out there.

Need I say more?

Still, it could be worse. I could be Liu Qibing.

Boy does that guy have some explaining to do! What are the odds he is never seen again?

Better than 0.01% for sure.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Alex McLeish - Dead Manager Walking

You gotta laugh!

If yesterday's absurd shenanigans had been played out at Celtic Park instead of Ibrox, the back pages would have been awash with cracked Celtic crests today.

As it is, there's some whimpering - but hardly a huge bang - about the shambolic attempts by David Murray to replace Alex McLeish.

McLeish is still there as Murray can find nobody to replace him, and because rather than resign with a degree of dignity, he will stick around and wait for the big payoff.

Now Rangers are left to seek a new manager in the full glare of publicity, whilst striving to maintain the charade that McLeish still has a chance of saving his job.

Cheer up David. I hear Bobby Wiliamson is available!

With Hearts employing a convicted sex offender as their new first team coach, and McLeish working out how to shout instructions to the team while his neck rests on a chopping block, its a golden period for the creators of football chants.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Bankroll Management

A while ago, I suggested my idea for the perfect poker product.

Now it seems I may have been not that far out with my suggestion. According to this article on Motley Fool, Neteller may become an internet bank. That opens up a lot of scope for product innovation.

I shall await developments with interest.

Something else that's caught my eye recently is postings on several websites about people experiencing cashout difficulties from various poker rooms.

There doesn't seem to be anything nefarious going on - just some typically bad customer service.

What surprises me is the amount of people who seem to deposit to a site by credit/debit card; play a while; then cash out back to their card.

They don't seem to practise any form of online bankroll management. Instead they put cash in when they want to play, and take it out when they need it.

This seems counterproductive in a number of ways.

Unless they are running a spreadsheet or other tracking method, they will have no real idea how they are playing over time.

If, as most UK players probably do, they play on some foreign currency sites, they will incur additional transaction charges.

If they make no effort to build an online bankroll, they risk stagnation as they will never build a big enough reserve to step up to the next level.

Even worse, if they don't have good self discipline, not segregating their online bankroll may lead to their day-to-day living becoming linked to their poker performance.

Who wants the mortgage payment to be linked to the outcome of tonight's NLH game? Not me!

Looking at it from the opposite perspective, their poker game may suffer due to the same linkage. Is it really so easy to make the right move for all your chips, if you are mentally comparing the size of the bet to what you could buy with the money?

My own approach is to keep an entirely separate online bankroll, which I have gradually built up over time.

This has given me scope to play bigger games. It also means that much as I might complain about losing sessions, the bad feeling stays on the internet and doesn't permeate into my 'normal' life.

The online bankroll is not factored into my financial calculations, and I have no intention of making a withdrawal anytime soon.

Hopefully there will come a point in the future where I'll have so much money online that I need to withdraw some, but sadly that day feels a long way off.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Fizzling and Flopping

I'm on some weird kind of slow burning tilt this week.

Not the wild, blow half your bankroll in a night, get banned from chat for trash talking, type tilt. More a grating, tormenting type tilt born of a horrendous sequence of bad cards, and bad play. Some mine; some others.

There has been plenty of trash talk, but only to the wall. Last night I felt I was morphing into some bizarre combination of Victor Meldrew and Gordon Ramsay.

It's not even bad beats that are pissing me off - more bad situations and bad play.

Like the hand last night where from the SB I flopped an OESD and the nut flush draw. So many outs, and two cards to hit them.

My thinking here is being first to act, this has to be worth a bet. Partly for the fold equity, and partly to make sure I get paid if I hit. Two callers, and a blank turn.

Hmmm. No raise. Are they both on a draw too? Or is someone slow playing top set?

A check is surrender, a small bet invites a reraise, so I need to bet a decent amount. One caller, and a blank river.

Crap. I have Ace high and a fair amount invested, but this guy has displayed no strength whatsoever. If he had a monster he needed to raise on the turn at the latest. If he had something like two pair or a baby set he needs to raise the flop to find out where he is.

Logically, the only hand he can have is a similar draw to mine.

So, another decent size bet in expectation of a fold. Call. wtf?!? Two pair - flopped.

Come on! What sort of play is that? If he had raised on the river, I'd have given him credit for putting me on a draw and having nerves of steel to take me for the max.

The call says it all. He had no idea if he was ahead or behind. But hey, he had two pair, he needed to call. Three times.

Bloody hell!

Of course, this is the sort of play that makes me plenty when I flop top set. That hasn't happened to me for a while, though I did run into quads three times last night...

So, in the midst of darkness, praise the lord for Sean Maloney and Stefan Klos.

I REALLY enjoyed Wednesday night, even if the currently restricted Div budget prompted me to give up my ticket for someone else and watch on TV.

Not only did Celtic win, they did it in style, embarrassing Rangers and reducing them to petulance and brutality as their only response.

The only criticism could be they should have scored more goals, but hey they did have three strikers out injured.

It's a shame there's an international break this weekend, though the Ibrox soap opera should provide an ongoing source of entertainment.

One Big Poker Party

So Party has effectively taken over or discarded all the skins, with the exception of Empire who would seem well advised to strike a deal quickly.

Pretty ruthless, but that's business!

It will be interesting to see what Coral Eurobet do. They have the capacity to become another Pacific/888, if they can get a decent poker platform up and running quickly.

I wonder if they have one of the remaining independents in their sights, or whether they will choose to join another network such as Crypto or Prima?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Lagging Behind


A day free from work that one may spend at leisure

Or, alternatively, a day for taking the baby to the doctor for more inoculations, and spending the afternoon scrabbling around on rubble beneath the house.

Poker this month has been barely in the black so far. I've been playing pretty badly, but kept my head above water with one big hand.

Flopped two pair from SB on a straightening board, checked, saw someone else bet lightly and pick up a shoal of callers, decided they were drawing to the straight or just to see a cheap card, so check-raised the max, putting my short stack all-in, and found FIVE callers.

Turn made the straight, but river made my full house. A quintuple through. Thank you very much.

I'm just not 'in the zone' this week, so it's good to still be ahead.

Today was a family day. Doctors in the morning with baby and wife. I suspect Mrs Div suffers more than the baby as the needle goes in.

The baby has handled them so well. A quick cry and ten minutes later she is asleep in the car seat.

The afternoon was DIY time. This weeks task - pipe lagging.

The UK Met Office is forecasting a high likelihood of a 'one in fifty' winter. This is a winter where the prevailing wind comes down from Siberia, instead of west off the Atlantic. So, it could get pretty chilly.

Scotland's record low temperature? -27 Celsius!

Unfortunate then that the previous owners of our house had not seen fit to insulate the myriad pipes beneath the house.

As the Div residence is built into a hillside, the under-floor space moves from a Hobbit friendly clearance at the front, accessible through an Alice in Wonderland style door, to about two feet at the back.

So, I spent the afternoon progressing from crouching, to crawling, to wriggling on my back across rubble and the discarded refuse of long departed builders, squeezing foam sleeves around copper pipes.

The good news is, I used all 24 metres of foam sleeve I had purchased. The bad news is, the job is only half done.

The other half will need the old fashioned wind around lagging, as the plumbers past seem to have revelled in fixing pipes in the most awkward locations, and teasing the piping into all sorts of unusual, and decidedly non straight, shapes. One junction was positively spaghetti like.

Oh well, gives me something to 'look forward to' for the weekend. Which will hopefully also see us with a working boiler again.

Broken on Monday; earliest ETA for heating engineer - Friday.

Next chancer who asks me for money on Argyll Street, I'm handing them a leaflet for the technical college.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Down, Down

Not my weekend!

The home game form continued into the online world. I didn't actually lose much cash, but I could not buy a big hand.

I lost every serious pot I got involved in, but recouped most of the losses with lots and lots of little ones. Not fun, but not a disaster either.

I think I won some small pots through the power of tilt, as I was betting hands I'd usually let go, so maybe there's a lesson in there somewhere.

The galling thing was there were some real morons playing, but I could not get my hands on their money.

One stunningly bad PLO hand saw all the cash go in on a flop of QdTx6d. I'm thinking 'top set v straight/flush draw'. The reality? A set of tens v a set of sixes, and no genuine redraws.

How the hell do you put all your cash in with bottom set on that board?

Still, no real damage done. I managed to quit before I got too mad.

To cap it all, I returned from work today, to forecasts of 100mph winds, the coldest night of the year so far, and a busted gas combi-boiler. No central heating, no running hot water. Marvellous.

Fortunately we have a spare electric heater, and an electric shower. So, the baby will be warm tonight - even if mum and dad are sleeping in their overcoats - and I'll probably have someone sitting beside me on the train tomorrow.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Empty Handed

Hmmm, not a great performance at last night's homegame. Three six handed games, first two paid in each. No cashes for Div.

I didn't do too much wrong, but there were a few hands I could perhaps have gotten away from. Tiredness translated to impatience, and I tried too hard to knock out opponents when discretion would have been more advisable.

Game 1 was card dead for me, until I was very short stacked and found AK. Reraised all-in by Pat, this was an insta-call, which prevailed over Pat's AQ.

The very next hand I have ATs, and this time the boot is on the other foot, as Pat's AJ dispatches me from the game.

Game 2 was a tale of two flush draws. Draw 1 was Renny's all-in bet on the turn with two spades showing, and a King and Queen on board. Holding third pair only, I took my time before deciding he was on a draw and calling. The draw missed and I knocked him out.

Draw two saw me with A8 of clubs, again on a two spade board. Allan put me all-in and I felt he was chasing a spade, so called believing my Ace high was ahead. Pretty loose, since with no pair I was a slight dog, but I was sure I was ahead at this point and needed to double through.

I was ahead, and the flush draw missed, but unfortunately for me Allan's queen of spades found a pair on the river, and I was out.

Game 3 was one of the fastest games we have ever played. Perhaps the beer was taking hold. Before I knew it, we were three handed with Dave and I ahead in chips.

So, it was somewhat unfortunate for me that my raise with AK of hearts was called by Dave with QJ of clubs, and the flop came down 89T with two hearts.

It would have been more prudent to fold to Dave's check-raise all-in on the flop, but I decided to go for the win and missed my flush draw to let Pat in for second.

C'est la vie. There's always next time.

With the Christmas season drawing closer, I have quite a few holidays to take, so maybe I'll be able to sneak in a few more live sessions in the evenings.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

October Summary

When You're Smiling
October was a good month.

The little one is doing brilliantly. Every week brings a new surprise. The pleasant one this month being her first all-night sleeps.

Unfortunately this removes my prime excuse for all night poker sessions at the weekend. ‘I’ll just stay up and feed the baby when she wakes’.

This picture is the current wallpaper on my phone, and when I'm sitting half-asleep on the train after getting soaked whilst trudging to the station, all I have to do is take one look and my spirits soar.

On the football front, Rangers appear to be falling apart, Celtic are improving, Hearts are imploding, and now run by a Roman. I bet there are plenty Hearts fans not enjoying that one little bit.

Maybe David Blunkett would fancy the challenge of managing Hearts. I suspect he would get on well with Vladimir Romanov. They do have similar PR and social skills, though Romanov does prefer shafting football managers to socialites.

Now all I need to do is actually make time to go to more games. The season ticket this year has not been a wise investment so far.

As for the poker, I netted a $740 profit, mostly from the cards, but with a few bonuses cleared and a first ever rakeback contribution. Overall, my best result since February.

The most beatable tables seemed to be the Pot Limit Omaha on Crypto, but there weren’t too many players on PokerStars who overly concerned me either.

I’ll be continuing with more of the same games this month I think.

I'm forever saying I should play more tourneys, but finding the time is the main inhibitor. Not so much in terms of total time elapsed, but in terms of guaranteeing three or four consecutive, uninterrupted hours of play.

That may have to wait for the Christmas holidays. First Christmas party just one month away!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

You Can't Bluff A Calling Station

I saw this article about Harrington On Hold Em mentioned by Andy Ward on Secrets Of The Amateurs.

Apparently the standard of tournament play has increased as more people are reading Dan's books. Well, perhaps. I'm sure the Two Plus Two guys weren't shy about coming forward with a few quotes for the press on this occasion.

Not that I'm saying anything against the books. However, if people want to call your continuation bet on the flop purely on the basis that Dan says so, that's a recipe for raking a lot of big pots with AA and KK.

Just lay off the gas a little when you miss with AK/AQ.

Or am I missing something?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Champ or Chump

Two interesting hands from the PokerStars $50 Pot Limit Omaha tables. One where I knew exactly what I was doing; one where I was absolutely tied in knots.

Hand one is pretty simple, and a great example of how playing it fast can work well.

Hand two needs the full hand history, as my own words would simply fail me.

The first hand was uneventful pre-flop. I'm in the blinds with Axxx suited in clubs and there are five or six limpers. A typical Stars field.

The flop comes all clubs, with no straight flush possibility. I have the nuts, but am first to speak into a big field. What to do?

Some players in this situation make a min bet into the field to try to pick up several callers. Some players will check and try to induce a bet from a smaller flush, or a bluffer.

I don't like either option. Option 1 doesn't get much extra cash in the pot and flags up what I'm holding. Both options give anyone with a set or two pair the chance to fill up, as there is fair chance it will be checked around if I don't bet.

I decide to bet the pot. Making it look like a steal, and charging a full price for anyone who wants to draw.

Fold...fold...fold...not looking good...fold...reraised the maximum!

Fantastic. Suddenly a $3.50 pot has hit about $20 and I can now reraise all-in as I have a little more on the table than my original buy-in.

The reraiser calls and shows a K high flush with no redraws, and I'm in the money with a double through. Very satisfying.

Now for hand 2. First the history, then the discussion.

PokerStars Pot-Limit Omaha High, $0.50 BB (9 handed) hand converter

Hero ($44.35)
CO ($32.80)
Button ($13.75)
SB ($48)
BB (Foe 1) ($38.75)
UTG ($23.60)
UTG+1 (Foe 2) ($33.85)
MP1 ($51.75)
MP2 ($33.60)

Preflop: Hero is MP3 with Qd, 9c, 8c, Kc.
1 fold, UTG+1 (Foe 2) calls $0.50, 2 folds, Hero calls $0.50, CO calls $0.50, Button calls $0.50, 1 fold, BB (Foe 1) checks.

Flop: ($2.75) 6s, Jc, As (5 players)
Foe 1 checks, Foe 2 checks, Hero checks, CO checks, Button checks.

Turn: ($2.75) Tc (5 players)
Foe 1 checks, Foe 2 checks, Hero bets $2.65, CO folds, Button folds, Foe 1 calls $2.65, Foe 2 calls $2.65.

River: ($10.70) 7s (3 players)
Foe 1 checks, Foe 2 bets $2, Hero folds, Foe 1 raises to $7, Foe 2 calls $5.

Show Down:
Foe 1: shows [5c 6h 9s 8h] (a straight, Seven to Jack)
Foe 2: shows [9d 2d 6d 8s] (a straight, Seven to Jack)
Foe 1 collected $11.75 from pot
Foe 2 collected $11.75 from pot

Final Pot: $24.70

Where to begin? I folded the best hand to two people who both drew to a lower straight on a flushing board!

Pre-flop I've got half a hand and average position. Worth seeing a cheap flop.

On the flop I'm ready to fold to any bet. The only card that can meaningfully improve me is a ten, and it can't be a ten of spades.

I get a free card and hit one of the three magic tens. The nut straight. Perfect, but with spade and club draws out there I'm not home yet. Of course I now have a draw to a King high club flush, so I'm in a good position.

With two callers to my obvious made nut straight, I can only assume they are both flushing. So, I'm hating that spade on the river. It didn't even occur to me that being a seven was significant.

I reluctantly fold to the Foe 2 bet, and am happy with my decision when Foe 1 makes a small check raise. Obviously the nut flush.

Except, of course, it wasn't. They both drew to make a smaller straight with two flush draws out there.

When the straight/flush card came on the river, Foe 1 thought a check raise was the best move.

Am I being harsh in thinking these guys are both complete mongs?

My analysis is pretty simplistic, but having closely observed their play over several more orbits of the table, I don't think either was trying anything so sophisticated as representing a different hand to that which they held.

Foe 2 in particular was a total clown who just bled chips. If only that had been a red seven, I'd have made a fine profit on this hand.

Many notes were taken.

A Risk Worth Taking

Last Thursday I dragged myself along to the Glasgow Science Centre at the ungodly, for me, hour of 8a.m.

The reason for my visit was a seminar, organised by Scottish Enterprise, entitled 'Winning Through Innovation'.

Normally I'm not a big fan of these events, but the Science Centre is a good venue - a Powerpoint presentation somehow seems more compelling when it's being projected on an IMAX screen!

More importantly, there were some interesting speakers, including the President of Virgin Galactic. Now that was an engrossing presentation!

There was also a display of a working automatic baby rocker designed by a Scottish company. I liked that a lot. It could have saved Mrs Div and I quite a lot of hassle if we'd known about it 4 months ago.

In the midst of all the suits and business chat, there was a Q&A session which also involved another of the speakers - David Williamson, the MD of a Glasgow coffee roasting company called Matthew Algie.

He seemed a fascinating character, and had a very informal manner, as well as a near miss for a poker players name.

During the Q&A, someone asked him about his attitude to risk within the company. Although he was very laid back, it was clear he put a lot of emphasis on hard numbers when running his business.

His response to the question prompted lots of murmurs and chin stroking, not to mention note taking, within the assembled throng.

"If it's a risk worth taking; it's not a risk."

That seems pretty common sense to me, but it seemed to be a revelation of biblical proportions to some of the audience. Which perhaps explains the state of the Scottish economy.

For any poker player, this concept should be pretty much second nature.

How often do you get the chips in knowing you are behind but have enough outs to make it a +EV call? How often do you call from the BB with any two cards against a short-stack all-in, to try to knock them out? How often do you push with nothing against a super tight opponent?

Perhaps Scottish Enterprise should splash the cash on sending some business people to a poker bootcamp with Howard Lederer and co. It may pay dividends.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Kick In The Gut

It was with more than a little dismay, not to mention disbelief, that I read of attempts by the authorities to close down Gutshot - probably the best know 'pure' cardroom in the UK. The current membership of Gutshot numbers over 11,000 people.

Rather than go into the legal ins-and-outs of the situation, there's an article on The Times website here which explains the situation.

There's also some discussion on the Gutshot forum here.

There's another Times feature here, which invites the views of their readership.

A lot of the debate revolves around the old 'is poker a game of skill or luck' question. As one contributor says, anyone who believes poker is purely a game of luck, is welcome to play me online at any poker site.

I'm no advocate of the Thatcherite/Reaganite model of small government, but I do believe scarce resources should be focused on the most pressing issues.

I really can't see how spending time and money on trying to close down a poker room benefits the nation.

Purely off the top of my head, I rattled off a list of more pressing issues which might concern the government.

Once the government has the health service and schools running efficiently, crime down, economic growth up, and the trains running on time, I might be willing to allow them to take more interest in how people choose to spend their leisure time.

This is made all the more ludicrous by the ongoing growth in online gaming share issues on the London markets. 888, Party, Empire being among those to go public in recent times.

While Chancellor Brown would love to tempt these company headquarters to London from their present offshore havens, it appears the government wouldn't want the bankers who pocket the big bucks for getting the share issues away to pop down to Gutshot for some live poker?

The entire situation is entirely nonsensical, and it beggars belief that after all the debate in recent parliamentary sessions over the introduction of mega casinos, there are such grey areas remaining in the existing law.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Bloggers Tourney

Well, you know you are in for a rough time when you find yourself in front of the PC at 9.02pm, with a reviving cup of tea in hand, thinking 'my watch must be fast, I haven't been seated yet' only to realise, aha I opened the PokerStars program, but haven't logged in yet!

Doh! Still, given the rocky nature of my table, and the lack of chat, I doubt I missed much.

In my defence, I was absolutely shattered after a weekend of over indulging in late night poker, baby minding, Sunday working, and I also allowed myself to be roped into spending Saturday afternoon putting together Ikea units for the father-in-law.

Kicking off at Sunday 9pm was about the best we Europeans could hope for, but it still meant a finish in the wee small hours, and I had no intention of going that far only to bubble.

So, I decided to adopt more of an 'at-it' style than usual, to see if I could get chips early, or bust out trying.

My first move with A6o from the cut-off didn't get very far as the button emphatically reraised and both blinds folded. Durr, pause for effect, grit teeth, fold.

Then for the first time in a while, the deck hit me in the face. KK twice in quick succession.

I was hoping my failed A6o move might earn me a few callers, but the first one was folded around to leave me with the blinds as scant reward.

Two players then went to war on a T66 board and ended up all in. One showed KK, the other KT!? KK held up.

A few hands later. KK for me again. Splendid. Raise. Fold, fold, fold, all-in from KT guy for the last of his chips. Called by me and KK holds up again. But for little gain. Sigh.

Not much later I'm in the BB with Q7s. MP raises and I call along with a LP player.

The flop is 567 rainbow. Top pair and a scary board. Ideal at-it territory you'd think.

Check, MP bets pretty big, LP calls, I call. Turn is a T.

I check again, having already decided I'm going to represent a straight. Heck, I might even be ahead of two Ace-big type hands.

The original raiser pauses for a short while, then bets big again. LP again calls.

I'm sensing weakness. I'm also thinking all or nothing. Check-raise all-in.

MP folds. Excellent. LP pauses, then calls, showing 99. Aarrghh.

That was the end of that. No assistance on the river and I'm out after 42 hands.

Oh well. Off to the micro limits for some fun with the other early bathers. Pinky, Drizz, and a little later Iggy, amongst others.

Blew off a bit of steam there, and off to bed at a reasonable hour for a change.

On Monday morning I was pleased to see the Europeans put up a creditable showing with two Blonde Poker members final tabling, including yet another poker playing Scotsman. Congratulations all round.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Unlucky For Some

Meh. Broke a twelve day winning streak with a small loss on PokerStars last night.

Is it greedy to be annoyed by that?

The loss was pretty small. It was the nature, rather than scale, of defeat that had me feeling a little tilty.

From being comfortably ahead, I plunged into the red on two big hands where bad - and I do mean REALLY bad - callers got lucky.

That happens. The galling thing was they both went bust in short order, and before I found a hand powerful enough to reclaim any my money. I HATE seeing other people taking my cash.

Having been up til 5am the night before, including my long overdue introduction to the world of blogger cash games, I decided to get out while the going was only moderately bad. Especially as I had work today. Grrr.

At these levels - Saturday was $50 Pot Limit Omaha on Stars - getting cards is key.

More specifically, getting cards against the right players is where the real money is made. One hand I was a spectator in went as follows...

No raise pre-flop, several players to flop. Ace high flop checked around. Turn brings another paint card on board, to make Broadway a possibility, and two to a flush.

All hell breaks loose. Raise, reraise, reraise, all in. Me thinking, yawn - two players with KJ for the straight. Only question is does one have a redraw to a flush?

Until the genius that is player 1 turns over AAxx for a slowplayed flopped set. Player 2 has KJxx and takes the lot! Absolute madness.

Those are the hands that make the night worthwhile - when the KJ is in my hand!

Anyway, almost time for the big event tonight. I sincerely hope a poker blogger wins it. Could be a bit embarrassing if one of the nutters I see on Blog Explosion comes along and does a Moneymaker.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Celtic - The Season So Far

It's been a long time since my last proper football post.

To catch up on everything that has happened since the end of last season, would take a book, not a solitary blog post. So, for now, I'll confine myself to a brief(ish) overview of events to date, with some of my thoughts and impressions.

I'll cover some of the specifics in later posts - if I ever get the time - and try to stay up to date in future.

To make sense of this story, it is necessary to start at the end. The end of last season that is.

The final day capitulation at Motherwell, was not only disastrous, but painfully predictable.

The Martin O'Neill era was drawing to a close, and the team was showing it's age. Against less talented - but younger and fitter - teams such as Hibs and Motherwell, Celtic were clearly vulnerable.

The after effects of that day lingered far beyond the hangover, and the Monday morning workplace jibes.

Not only was the league lost, but an additional Champions League qualifier, to be played in late July, had to be negotiated.

With the team in disarray, a new manager on his way, and limited resources to recruit new players, this did not bode well.

Even then I was fearful of missing out on Europe.

I was even more fearful, when I heard Gordon Strachan was being lined up as the new manager.

It was already clear the O'Neill regime had peaked, and a new broom was needed.

O'Neill had done a fantastic job in restoring pride and success to the team, but I was beginning to feel he had done a great company doctor job, turning around an ailing organisation, but didn't seem to have the imagination to evolve the team to the next level.

For once, the ideal replacement appeared to be at hand. Paul Le Guen, the ex-Lyon manager, had recently resigned.

Not only did he have experience of dominating domestic competition in his home league, he had good experience of the Champions League, including a visit to Celtic Park. His team played a skillful and pacy style of football.

No doubt his wages would be significant, but there would be none of the hassles associated with releasing O'Neill from Leicester, none of the bad feeling associated with Tommy Burns move from Kilmarnock. He was a free agent.

Instead, Celtic went for Gordon Strachan. To me, he seemed like the cheaper, though probably not cheap, option. A poor man's Martin O'Neill.

Once installed, I was pleasantly surprised that Strachan was given a fair amount of leeway to strengthen the team. He also set about cutting out a lot of the overpaid deadwood.

Of the players who left, the only major mistake, one which was to prove costly, was allowing Jackie McNamara to leave on a Bosman. McNamara was never the most spectacular player but he was solid and steady in defence, and a capable holding midfielder.

The area that concerned me, was lack of defensive signings. Particularly in light of the failings of the previous year.

At the time I commented to friends that the happiest players at the club were probably the youth team defenders.

Generally when a team is in trouble, the biggest priority is to make them hard to beat.

Wim Jansen and O'Neill both did it at Celtic, even Mourinho, with all the millions at his disposal, spent the first few months at Chelsea grinding out 1-0 wins. Strachan chose a different path at Celtic.

There's no space here to cover each signing in detail, and it's too early to pass judgement on some of them, but overall the signs are positive.

Artur Boruc is a commanding presence in goal, and the signings of Shunsuke Nakamura and Du Wei display an enterprising approach to football as well as commerce.

However, the Artmedia Bratislava disaster, and consequent failure to qualify for any European football this season, was the ultimate price of the loss at Motherwell and lack of defensive signings.

The rebuilt team had to face too big a game, too early. The loss of revenue will hurt the board most. The lack of great European nights sapped the spirits of every true fan.

Big domestic games at Celtic Park are a great event. Big European nights are almost spiritual occasions.

At that point, an entire season of turgid SPL football, devoid of the occasional visit from the stellar talents of Ronaldinho, Shevchenko, del Piero and co, beckoned.

In that respect, the challenge of Hearts this season has actually been a pleasant surprise. Rather than a grim struggle between Celtic and Rangers, there is actually an element of unpredictability in the league this season.

Indeed, it could be said that the Scottish league is actually more competitive than the English Premiership.

Another bright spot has been a marked improvement in the style of football played by Celtic. More focus on passing the ball on the ground, more reliance on skill and pace, and a willingness to give youth a chance. For which Gordon Strachan can take credit.

The future certainly appears brighter than in the dark days after Artmedia. There remains a long way to go; but after a dire start, Gordon Strachan has earned the right to be given some leeway over the rest of this season.

The team is in contention for the title, is playing better football, young Scottish players are being given the opportunity to flourish, and inventive signings have been made.

That said, with Rangers in disarray, and facing the burden of Europe; and Hearts a useful team, but a limited squad; only the league title, and subsequent qualification for next year's Champions League, will be sufficient to fully justify his appointment as manager.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

In The Money At InterPoker

Earlier this month I signed up for InterPoker through a rakeback deal and deposited $100.

Today I cashed out for almost $450. Additionally I've probably earned another $30 or so rakeback. Not a bad effort.

I did dabble in the low buy-in pot limit and no limit Hold Em tables, but predominantly I focused on the Pot Limit Omaha tables.

In no way can I claim to be an expert in this game, but at these levels there are enough fishy players to keep me happy. Some with very idiosyncratic playing styles.

One nice thing about InterPoker is the 'bet pot' button, which makes it nice and simple to give people a bad price to chase their draw. It also means my bluffs are indistinguishable from by genuine bets, as I always bet the pot.

Other players seem not to care for this button.

My favourite play is the guy who will call a pot size bet on the flop with a flush draw, sometimes taking the 2/1 odds, sometimes getting priced in by other fishy callers.

After hitting their draw, and just as I am preparing to fold my top set, or at worst two pair, they then lead out with a minimum bet. In an extreme case, with several people in the pot and a raise pre-flop, you might be looking at a single BB bet into a 30 or 40 BB pot.

As well as the actual odds of drawing to catch a paired board, there's also the implied odds that they will call off their whole stack with the nut flush against my full house.

I lost count of how many times this happened in the last week. Of course sooner or later my top full house will run into someone who hits quads, but overall this is a definite +EV situation.

Speaking of precisely the above scenario, where I'd raised pre-flop with a monster AAKQds, I hit a flop of Axx but with two to another suit.

Of course I bet the pot and got a caller who did exactly what I've described above when he hit the flush on the turn.

I outdrew him in style by rivering the case Ace, and took his entire stack.

I'm definitely enjoying Omaha more than Hold Em at present. Playing tight and fairly straightforward, I feel I've got a clear edge over most players at this level.

I took quite copious notes on the idiosyncrasies of various players, but only wrote a single note highlighting a good player to avoid tangling with.

The next challenge will be to step up to the next buy-in level, with the bankroll sufficiently padded.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Quick Celtic Update

Just a quickie.

I dragged myself, and my cold along to Celtic Park on Saturday for the visit of league leaders(!) Hearts.

If there's one thing a sore throat doesn't need, it's a refereeing fiasco. Dougie McDonald? Old McDonald would have done better.

Still, the big picture wasn't too bad come Sunday night, even if I did sound like a half strangled frog by then. Not a bad game either.

I've been meaning to catch up on footballing events since pre-season, but Mrs Div delivered rather more productively than Alan Thompson has managed in two seasons, which scuppered that.

By the time I'd composed my thoughts, events had moved on again, with the Artmedia disaster. I'll post a proper football article soon, to catch up on the season to date, then try to resume more regular coverage.

On the poker front, I'm still beating the low buy-in Pot Limit Omaha on Crypto - though this is hardly a huge claim to fame. If the baby could work a mouse, I reckon she'd have been ahead over the weekend.

Don't tell my opponents, but reraising all-in on a 4/1 shot with one card to come, is NOT a winning strategy. Nor is drawing to an 8-high flush when your opponent has top set and a draw to a Q-high flush.