Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Not Dead, but Resting

Still here!

Nary a hand of poker to report unfortunately, as work and the real world continue to hinder my efforts at the table.

Whilst numerous degenerates were congregating near Philly, my better half was winging her way to New York with her sister for a long weekend. I figured it was safe to let them go, since I knew The Rooster was elsewhere.

That meant I was left holding the baby over the weekend, though I did make time to savour another victory over The Forces Of Darkness.

Throw in a Champions League victory last night over the Scandinavian Dunfermline, and the football is looking pretty good right now.

Hopefully I shall return with proper content soon.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Never Bad Beat Bond!

'The treasury has agreed to stake you in the game.'

Now THAT is a bankroll.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Bitter Legacy Of 9/11

Mean Gene wrote a moving and powerful piece reflecting his thoughts on 9/11 and events since.

I'm reluctant to write too much on what I think of the Bush administration, since I figure that US governments should be chosen by US citizens.

However, another interesting item caught my eye in news today. It seems the Palestinians are now bowing to international pressure and are likely to agree a 'unity government' to replace the democratically elected Hamas government which has been attacked by the Israelis and embargoed by the west since it came to power.

Now, I don't happen to have any time at all for Hamas policies, but it seems to me to be a very destabilising message to send out to the entire Middle East.

"We are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan to bring freedom and democracy to your region. Unless, that is, you choose to elect a government we don't like, in which case you are screwed."

Hmmm, not likely to win many friends, is it?

The Independent newspaper ran a very interesting front page story today entitled The Bitter Legacy Of 9/11.

It's 'just' a collection of statistics. Also known as facts. Which are often in short supply when it comes to 'The War on Terror'.

You can click through to the full story, but a few snippets caught my eye...

2,973 Total number of people killed (excluding the 19 hijackers) in the September 11, 2001 attacks

72,000 Estimated number of civilians killed worldwide since September 11, 2001 as a result of the war on terror

2 Number of years since US intelligence had any credible lead to Osama bin Laden's whereabouts

2,932 Total number of US servicemen and women killed in Afghanistan and Iraq since September 2001

117 Number of UK service personnel killed in Iraq since invasion

40 Number of UK personnel killed in Afghanistan since invasion

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Actual Poker Content

Praise be to Mansion for their free money! If it wasn't for that, this could have been one depressing weekend.

Poker can be a game of fiercely conflicting emotions, and the biggest emotional responses tend to come not from victory, but defeat.

When I'm on a good run, cashing in four or five SNG in succession, scarcely a word will pass my lips. It feels almost routine.

In fact, it probably should be. At the levels I play, it's not egotistical to claim to be better than 90% of the players. It's fact.

An amoeba on acid could play better than some of these guys.

So, when the wheels come off, and bad beat after bad beat rains down upon my head, I'm more than disappointed. I'm indignant, affronted, outraged, by the sheer injustice of it.

Which is silly, since this is poker, and these things happen. But I'm only human.

There's been a whirlwind of indignation this weekend. In the last eight games I played, I've managed two third place cashes, three bubble finishes, and three early exists.

I'll skip the bad beat specifics but suffice to say, in every bubble case I was ahead when the chips went in. From at worst a very marginal 51/49 - but my chips went in first - to a sickening 80/20 - and it wasn't pair-over-pair pre-flop, but a bizarre flop move from an aggression monkey.

Of course on the last one in particular, had the cards been face up as we played, I'd have been happy with a call that would usually have propelled me into a commanding chip lead.

Yet once the chips are in, turn and river dealt, and the beat laid down, all I can say is 'wtf were you thinking playing like that?' It's the way of things to be happy when the odds hold up, and outraged when variance let me down.

Aside from bad beats, I had a new experience in one of the early exits, when I found myself all-in pre-flop with QQ versus KK and QQ. Not many outs there!

Now, against a raise and reraise pre-flop, I'm perfectly aware that it should be possible to get away from QQ.

Against a collection of really tight, solid players, I'm sure that's a move I can make.

However, against a motley collection of Saturday night PokerStars players, I don't think QQ can be put down.

As justification for this stance, I offer a hand I observed during the same session on a different table. The actors - two short, but not desperately short stacks, and one above average stack. Short Stack 1 open pushes, Short Stack 2 calls all-in, and Above Average calls off sixty percent of his stack from the button, with the blinds yet to act.

Cards on their backs and Short Stack 1 has AQs (fair enough), Short Stack 2 has QQ (can't argue with that), and Above Average has KJo (wtf?).

I'll say that again. King. Jack. Offsuit. What DID he think he was beating? How could he possibly conclude he was ahead?

Actually, that's a stupid question. He likely saw paint times two and thought 'The nuts!'

Against players like that, QQ cannot be put down in my humble opinion.

I had planned an epic session for last night, but I could feel my self control failing under the bad beat barrage, so I made what I consider my most productive move of the night by logging out, and having an early night.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Forgetful Is Fun

Totally forgot about the big Mansion Steelers bet.

Came home from work today to a very pleasant email...

Thank you for taking part in our NFL Promotion.

As a result of your wager on The Steelers being successful, MANSION is pleased to advise you that this bet has now been settled, the full details of which can be found in the transaction history of your MANSION Member account.

Bankroll +$1000

I love The Steelers. My last two hefty sport bets have both been on them, and they've both come in.

God bless Pittsburgh!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Coping or Conscripting?

The BBC has managed to get a hold of some unauthorised footage from the fighting in Afghanistan.

The reason the footage is unauthorised is that the MOD has banned reporters from the front line. Presumably because of reports like this. When a Parachute Regiment NCO offers a female reporter a gun to help fight off the enemy, you know things ain't going as well as hoped.

If Tony Blair is wondering why his ungrateful party is so keen to get rid of him, he might want to give these reports some consideration.

At the time of the troop deployment, then Defence Secretary John Reid said he hoped the troops wouldn't have to fire a single shot in anger. So far they've fired 300,000 rounds and are 'just' coping according to the Army Chief of Staff.

My cousin has already done two tours in Iraq - one in the invasion spearhead of Gulf War II, another security tour coming later. His regiment is earmarked for Afghanistan next year.

Manpower levels are down. Hardly surprising when the old 'join the army and see the world' slogan has been replaced by 'join the army and get sent out to patrol in under-armoured vehicles, with sporadic air support, no reinforcements, and no rest between tours, while politicians back home tell the folks everything is fine'.

Staying away from the rights and wrongs of Blair's foreign adventures, it's surely undeniable that the least the government can do is give the guys in the firing line the right backup. Undeniable that is, except to the government whose daily statements test the bounds of our credulity.

With unemployment creeping up, the usual youth crime worries, and no sign of abatement in the fighting, I wonder how long it will be before the 'C' word gets mentioned again.

Blair doesn't want to quit early since he is still hoping for a legacy of peace and stability in Afghanistan and Iraq. It's not going to happen.

He might be better advised to quit early, before it gets worse, and console himself with the fact that he will be leaving his enemy, and likely successor, Gordon Brown with the ultimate poison pill to deal with.

If I were Brown, I might be tempted to give the whole thing a bodyswerve, and really stick it to Blair by simultaneously announcing my retirement from politics to spend time with my young family.

Thus retiring with an untarnished image as 'The Iron Chancellor', a caring family guy spin, and a lucrative set of directorships and speaking tours lined up.

Yet I doubt his ego could bear it.