Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Fate Is A Fickle Thing

A few days ago I posted a link to a blog about eBay cheat Amir Massoud Tofangsazan.

At the time I just wanted to give the blog a little boost in the Google index, since it seemed like a worthy cause. Smart, witty guy outsmarts low-life fraudster and low-grade sex offender(and possible terrorist sympathiser).

Well, it seems I needn't have bothered since, judging by the site hit counter and comments, the news has spread far and wide very rapidly.

Amir is suddenly a very, very famous young crook.

Simultaneously, and completely oblivious to these events, the latest desperate collection of delusional exhibitionists and morons have settled into the Big Brother house.

Given the choice, I'd see and hear nothing more from any of them. Unfortunately for me, Mrs Div is somewhat addicted to this car crash TV, hence I can't avoid it.

Each of these people craves only one thing. Fame.

Not fame of the best player in Europe; mesmerising actress; brilliant scientist type - just fame of the 'do you know who I am' variety.

For most of them, it's a forlorn hope. They will get their 15 minutes, but ultimately the odds are they will drift back to their mediocre lives, to be remembered only as that psychotic girl who got shagged under a table live on TV, that really ignorant guy who pissed in the kitchen bin, that really, really stupid one (multiple cases), etc.

They will have a few weeks of parties, premieres, and interviews, but eventually the invites will dry up, and it will be back to the job pages for them.

Some of them do manage to forge alternative careers, as porn TV presenters or topless models.

Very rarely one of them gets sickeningly lucky and morphs into a Jade Goody type media 'celebrity' of the kind famous only for being famous, but shit happens. Sometimes rapists win the lottery.

From some reports, there's a fair chance a few of them will end up (even more) psychologically damaged, and of even less use to society than they already are.

What's certain is they will be nowhere near as famous and well remembered as they fervently desire to be.

Meanwhile, Amir wishes he could say the same. Such is life.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Poker Is A Game Of...

Poker is a game of chance
Poker is a game of people
Poker is a game of decisions
Poker is a game of skill
Poker is a game of bluffing
Poker is a game of incentives
Poker is a game of information
Poker is a game of uncertainty
Poker is a game of control
Poker is a game of situations

Not my thoughts on poker - though many of them I agree with - but rather those returned from a simple Google search.

To that list, I'd like to add one of my own:

Poker is a game of mental fortitude

Is there any other game in the world that can be so cruel, yet so rewarding?

Since taking up poker about two years ago, I've had highs and lows. Nights where I could do no wrong, and nights where I couldn't win a hand.

It's been an adventure, an experience, and a challenge.

More than most amateurs, I've taken to study. My poker library, and online resource lists are substantial and still growing.

Yet all the books in the world are no substitute for experience. Getting out there and putting my cash on the table, seeing the flops, making decisions, and feeling the elation of raking a big pot, the despair of my chips sliding in the direction of an opponent.

When I'm not playing, I'm reading; when I'm not reading, I'm writing; and when I'm not writing, I'm thinking. Much to the chagrin of the wife.

Every so often she catches me with a distant look on my face, and instinctively knows I'm rerunning a recent, or not so recent, hand in my mind.

Often that look is somewhat pained, since in poker it feels so natural to dwell on the negative, and discount the positive.

Which sets it apart from most other sports, where the positive is accentuated, and the negative allowed to slip away.

Generally after a football game it's easy to forget about the howlers - misplaced passes, sliced shots, missed tackles - and focus on the highs, whether they be a goal, a save, or just the result.

In poker, it's different. I need Poker Tracker to remind me when my Aces last won a 15BB pot, or my straight draw outdrew a flopped set, but I can still remember low points from the distant past.

These need not necessarily be suckouts - though they often are - but also terrible misplays. Slow plays gone bad, fishy calls, misread opponents. Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes. Ours or theirs.

Which is where mental fortitude comes in. In very few sports can you play well against an inferior opponent, do everything right, induce or exploit their error, and still lose.

There's a helplessness that comes from getting the chips in the middle knowing you are ahead, only to see victory snatched away by a cruel turn of the cards.

With helplessness comes despair, especially since there are so few means of exacting retribution. The raging footballer can tackle more strongly; the boxer can punch harder; the athlete can throw further, jump higher, run faster.

Liberation through physical exertion. Waves of endorphins cascading through the brain. They may not win, but they can gain near instant resolution of their inner torment.

The poker player? They can tilt, and lose more.

Or, weather the storm, grit their teeth, and remind themselves it's a marathon, not a sprint.

Which is oh so tough to do. Human nature drives us towards instant gratification.

Sucked out on? We want revenge.

Down a buy-in from a silly mistake? We want to redeem ourselves. Now!

Poker just doesn't work that way. Sure a few bluffs can force the action, and regain some lost ground. In the short term, until our opponents recognise the changing dynamic of the game, and begin to take advantage.

Ultimately, folding a bad hand 'earns' us as much as betting a good one. Which is not an easy pathway to that sought after gratification.

The player with mental fortitude understands that, and gets on with their normal game.

The player without mental fortitude tilts, and lets a good decision gone bad become a series of bad decisions gone worse. As stronger players sense their deteriorating mental state and covet their chips mercilessly.

With experience comes the ability to ride out the storm, and maintain equilibrium.

It's not something which can be learned from a book, and different people will find their own coping mechanisms, but it's an essential part of the poker players armoury.

Reading other blogs has certainly been of assistance in fortifying myself against the cruel downswings.

Books are fine for learning about probabilities, pot odds, and strategies, but being able to see inside the minds of players in similar situations to my own, having them share their emotions and experiences, has helped me better understand my own feelings and enabled me to manage my responses to frustrating situations.

Equally, this blog has provided a safe outlet for my emotions, when otherwise they may have been expressed in a more reckless, and financially disastrous, manner at the table.

Maintaining mental fortitude is but one piece of the jigsaw which forms a good poker player, but it's an essential piece.

Inability to accurately compute pot odds will cost the occasional bet. Inability to maintain composure in the face of bad luck will cost your stack.

It's something I'm still working on, and I suggest you do too.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Amir Massoud Tofangsazan

Amir Massoud Tofangsazan. What a wanker!

Don't you just hate eBay rip-off merchants?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Is It That Time Already?

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

This Online Poker Tournament is a No Limit Texas Holdem event exclusive to Bloggers.

Registration code: 7330476

Last year I played like a vegetable.

Maybe I can manage something a little further up the food chain this time. A donkey perhaps.

New bloggers can sign up to play here.

Monday, May 22, 2006


Does three nights away from home count as a holiday? It does when you have a ten month old baby!

Friday saw the Div family heading for Center Parcs in Whinfell Forest. Not the most exotic of locations, but a decent location for a short break.

The drive down went very smoothly despite the inclement weather, and I discovered yet another benefit of the array of gadgets in the new car.

Heading southbound on the M74 we were passed by a white Audi which was fairly whizzing along. Within a few hundred yards I was surprised to find us quickly catching him as he braked sharply in the middle lane.

The reason for his manoeuvre was perched atop a flyover about 1/4-mile ahead. A mobile police speedcam unit.

Fortunately for me the cruise control was dialed in at bang on 70mph. If I'd been driving manually, I'd probably have been scooting along a fair bit faster, and would be expecting 3 points and a fine to be dropping through my letterbox anyday now.

Our abodeUpon arrival at Center Parcs we found ourselves housed in a chalet backing directly on to the surrounding forest, and were soon introduced to our neighbours - a couple of pheasants, who at various times of the weekend were joined by a succession of rabbits, ducks, and a solitary red squirrel.

All of whom kept the baby amused as they loitered outside within easy viewing range.

Which was just as well, since the incessant rain somewhat curtailed our own activity plans.Meet the neighbours

Saturday was very much indoor activities day, as we took the baby for her first ever foray into a swimming pool.

Given her love of bathtime we were hopeful she would enjoy the experience, but still somewhat apprehensive.

We needn't have worried. She loved it. So much so that we made a second visit on Sunday.

Saturday was also my chance to experience for the first time the namby pamby world of the luxury spa, where Mrs Div had booked me in for an 'Executive Combi' - a back, neck, face and head massage.

Which was sheer bliss, and possibly made even more blissful by the fact the masseuse was not just talented and personable, but also extremely pretty.

Slightly disconcerting was the realisation that her name (Kayleigh) and my estimate of her age (twentyish) meant there was a chance her parents were Marillion fans, who had named her after their most famous song - released when I was well through my secondary school years. Yikes, I AM that old!

On the subject of music, I actually found myself watching Eurovision on Saturday night. That's what having no internet access can do to a man.

As Europe fragments into smaller and smaller states, the performances on Eurovision get more and more amusing. This year half the acts seemed to be rip offs of western acts - the Ukrainian Kylie, Croatian Beyonce, etc.

The eventual winners - the Finnish Slipknot.

You absolutely could not make it up!

On Sunday we made the most of a small window of drier weather to go for a lengthy stroll around the camp. During which we discovered the Birds of Prey centre, where a variety of feathered predators were perched in open huts visible from the nearby paths.

Our initial reaction was one of awe, especially at the sight of a huge owl which looked capable of carrying off a small dog.

Watching a few of the birds spread their wings and attempt to fly off, only to be held close to the ground by the tethers around their legs made both of us feel very uncomfortable, and more than a little sad. We didn't loiter.

I couldn't help thinking such amazing creatures deserve a more dignified existence than to be objects of curiosity for human tourists.

As we meandered through a children's playpark, my attention was attracted by an innocuous confrontation between two toddlers, who were play boxing amidst a throng of children and parents.

Suddenly the taller and beefier of the two launched a flurry of bodyshots that would have made Ricky Hatton proud, sending the smaller kid to the ground amidst a torrent of tears.

The aghast parents rushed in to restore the peace, and extract a grudging apology from beefy kid.

I couldn't help but smile, after all boys will be boys, but at the same time I wonder what joys I have to look forward to as our baby grows up.

The mix of customers at the camp was a little surprising. Predictably the majority were family groups, mostly with kids ranging from toddlers to mid-teens, but there were also some small groups of late-teens through to mid-twenties, and even a few couples who appeared to be on romantic breaks.

If I was in either of the latter two categories, Center Parcs would be low down my list of preferred destinations. For the same price, a couple could hop over to Barcelona or Rome for the weekend, rather than spend it trudging around an artificial lake in the Cumbrian wetlands. Each to their own I suppose.

On the whole it was a nice enough weekend.

The facilities were fine, except for the atrocious lumpy beds - another reason to put it low down the romantic break list.

The staff were very good - with the exception of the waiters in pseudo-French bistro Chez Pierre. Sullen, slow, and aloof. Perhaps they were just in character.

We probably went a bit too soon for Baby Div to get much benefit from the facilities - swimming excepted - as it's really more geared towards slightly older kids.

The change of scene was nice, though I doubt we will be rushing back.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


BarcelonaMrs Div: 'Your blog's gotten pretty boring recently'
Me: 'Yeah, I know, but I'm not playing enough poker to write about it'
Mrs Div: 'Well, it's called Poker, Pique, and Parenthood. Write about something else.'

So true. Tonight is pique night...

I was REALLY looking forward to tonight's Champions League Final. The best club competition in the world, with two of the best footballing teams meeting in the final, in a great city, in a fantastic stadium.

For Celtic fans, we had the added spice of Henrik Larsson, one of the greatest ever players to grace our jersey, lining up for Barcelona in a game which would deliver a guaranteed Champions League place to Celtic were he to triumph.

Sometimes these occasions don't live up to the billing. Tonight, it looked like it would. Arsenal - the underdogs - started off great, and it looked like we were heading for a classic.

Until, that is, Norwegian referee Terje Hauge got involved.

How he managed to pull back play, and send off Jens Lehmann, I do not know.

Has the man ever heard of playing advantage?

The offence Mr Hauge punished is defined by FIFA as 'denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player's goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick.'

Denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity!? THE BALL WAS IN THE NET. Barcelona had scored. But Mr Hauge had to call back play and reach for his pocket.

Play on, award the goal, and get on with the game. Is it really so difficult?

It's not like events unfolded slowly or unexpectedly. Lehmann tackled, the ball broke loose, Giuly scored within 2 seconds. Why make a harsh decision when the circumstances do not demand any decision be made? Utter bullshit!

Almost as bad was his decision to award a freekick - leading to the opening goal for Arsenal - after Emmanuel Eboue contrived to be blown over by a gust of wind.

Mr Hauge wasn't biased, he was just plain dreadful.

Why should this bother me? After all, Celtic got the result they wanted.

Henrik LarssonEven sweeter, our hero Henrik Larsson turned the game - laying on both equaliser and winner. Thus earning himself the medal he so richly deserves.

Next season we start in Pot 2 of The Champions League. No pre-qualifiers; no Bratislava. Thank God!

Better still, we know how much cash we will generate next season. The chequebook can be dusted off, and players lured not only with cash, but Champions League glamour.

The truth is, much as I'm delighted by the result, I feel for the thousands of genuine fans who went to Paris and were denied a fair fight.

The guys who will be sleeping on park benches in thee pouring rain tonight, the guys who paid upward of SEVEN THOUSAND EUROS for a touted ticket, the guys who'd never seen their team in a European final before, and may never again get the opportunity to attend such a grand event.

All of them denied the ultimate final by a referee who seemed only briefly acquainted with the rules, and who just couldn't handle the occasion. Tragic.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Rakeback On Absolute Poker Network

A bit more pimping for Rake The Rake. Don't forget to mention where you heard about them.

Original content coming soon, I promise!
This is news that you need to spread quickly to your friends and in the forums where you are permitted to mention this sort of thing!

A new room has launched on the Absolute network and so if you are one of those people who have never been able to get rakeback from Absolute poker, you can now get it from the new skin Goal Poker by opening a new account. You WILL need to use a different email address when creating your account.

We are offering 28% rakeback there and you can find more details here


This is currently an EXCLUSIVE opportunity ONLY to RakeTheRake players and that is why we want you to help us spread the information to other players. By building up a large number of players we hope to be able to offer you the sort of freerolls and tournaments you associate with RTR including perhaps some World Cup tickets!

The sign up bonus is 200% up to $200

This has been a long time coming and we think it is a fantastic opportunity for those of you who have Absolute accounts without rakeback.

Please email jessica@raketherake.com with any questions on this

Good luck as ever.


1) Remember to use a different email address if you already have a Absolute account
2) If you get an error message when you first try to deposit, then log out and log in again and this should fix it, otherwise contact their support.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


No WSOP seat for me in the Virgin blogger freeroll.

I tend to play all freerolls pretty aggressively, and I also tend to make a habit of running into people who cannot put down middle pairs.

Presumably they find it as easy to make loose calls, as I find it to make aggressive plays. Two sides of the same coin.

Sometimes that's good. AK stacking 99 on a KKx flop! Sometimes it's bad. KJ v 66 who calls bets on every street.

Last night was bad. I just could not make a guy put down 99 against my unimproved AQ.

Which was a shame, since Virgin had laid on a really good structure, so pissing away half my stack on a semi-bluff was somewhat careless.

On the river, I made what I thought was a good bet. I pretty much had the guy on a middle pair, and I thought he would have me on either two overs or a higher pair.

There was also a missed 1-card club flush draw - I had the queen of clubs, which was one of the reasons I kept pushing the hand.

A 2/3 pot bet left me with around half my chips and looked like I was milking the hand. The only other plausible bet was all-in, but I felt that smelled too much of a busted draw, and was actually easier to call than the smaller bet.

After that, I managed to steal my way back to average chips, then lost most of them with top pair and an OESD v 2-pair. Wasn't my night for hitting the community cards.

The coup de grace was swift. A steal with the mighty 42s running into Aces.

Well, my cards were certainly live.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


No poker action to report in the last few days.

I've crocked myself in multiple places (bad back/neck, and a dodgy knee ligament) and have been too busy steeping in Radox, being slathered in Ralgex and ingesting Ibuprofen to actually play any poker.

In lieu of poker musings, I thought I'd pimp a few worthy institutions.

It's one of the paradoxes of writing a well ranked, but lightly read, blog that my pimping is probably more effective through the indirect effect of boosting the Google page rank, than through my words directly influencing people to click through to other sites.

Regardless of that, let's start with what should be one of the biggest European poker stories of 2007...

Dusk Till Dawn is the chosen name for a new dedicated poker venue to be opened near Nottingham by Rob Yong.

The plan is ambitious to say the least. A huge tournament area, dedicated TV studio, Bellagio standard decor, high rollers room, and a cash free system which will be linked into the club's own online poker room.

The online poker room will also be offering an innovative reward scheme, as described on their website.

There is a fantastic diary thread on Blonde Poker where Rob is charting his progress (and setbacks) setting up the club.

I've very briefly met Rob Yong - though I doubt he'd even remember me - and he seems like a thoroughly genuine guy. A real livewire, an entrepreneur, and an obsessive poker enthusiast.

He also seems to have a real commitment to quality, not just in terms of decor and equipment, but service and staff training. I imagine he'd be a demanding boss, but a rewarding one to work for.

It's a huge risk setting up a venture on this scale, and I'd love to see him succeed.

If the club lives up to his ambitions, Nottingham East Midlands airport could be seeing a lot more inbound traffic not just from other UK cities, but Europe and beyond.

Dusk Till Dawn could easily become the best poker venue in Europe.

Some more pimping now. I've mentioned my rakeback provider before, but I want to reiterate, Rake The Rake give fantastic service.

Whenever I contact them, I get swift, detailed responses, which actually answer my query directly, rather than being a cut-and-paste of some corporate template.

As a low limit amateur, I get service which I believe equals, if not exceeds, that which the big sites give to their VIP members.

Their website is distinctly low-tech, but as an IT professional I long ago learned to value substance over style, and the rakeback payments hit my account on time each month.

Throw in monthly freerolls and other promotions, and you really can't go wrong with Rake The Rake for poker rakeback.

Of course, if you do decide to sign up with them, I'd appreciate if you mention my name. There will be a little something in it for me too.

Finally for now, there's yet another Blogger freeroll this Thursday on Virgin Poker.

I think it's limited to UK players only, so the field should be pretty small.

First prize is entry to a $1500 NLH WSOP event with travel included. The rest of the prizepool comprizes one quarter of a million V-points, which I think can be used as Virgin air miles.

A share of that would make a trip to Vegas very affordable, though I don't think they are valid on Virgin Galactic.

Cheers Richard!

Saturday, May 06, 2006


Not much time for poker this week, though I did have one very nice hand where no less than three players made a river flush, and thought they were good.

Since I was holding the stone cold nuts, that made me a very happy blogger.

I also had my first ever IRC-a-shot with Sir Al, as we discussed our respective world travel plans.

No poker was played on Friday, as I was out socialising, though I didn't get to kiss any girls. Nice to see Mr Speaker has got his mojo back in time for his world tour.

I'm off out again today, but I have managed to take a quick trawl through Bloglines this morning, and I see there's a few flame wars on the go.

Personally, I just can't be bothered with this sort of thing, so I haven't even checked out the comments on the various threads.

But I do have a suggestion for resolution and closure. The next WPBT event draws near - in Vegas, not only world gambling capital, but also a Mecca for fight fans.

So, let's get the combatants in the ring! I have a few thoughts on suitable attire.

Mixed games at the MGM, and sumo suits in the ring. Sounds like fun to me.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

April Summary

Although my last few posts have pretty much covered it, for the sake of consistency and completeness I've decided to maintain the traditional monthly summary post.

In short, I made a statistically insignificant profit for the month. If the fates were kinder, it would have been a whole lot more.

So I'm still stuck for the year, but I've whittled the overall loss down to a couple of hundred dollars.

On the whole my game has been pretty good. I'm planning to persevere with LHE for the next month, and have earmarked turn play with overcards as something to work on.

I've got more thoughts on how the month went that are worthy of their own post. So expect that soon.

I also restarted my fitness regime this month, for health rather than aesthetic reasons.

Some thoughts on that will probably be forthcoming - though shoot me if this turns into a 'this week I lost 2lbs, and my 30" waist jeans fit me again' blog.

For now I'm off to play some cards and wallow in the uncommonly early end to the SPL season.