Friday, December 29, 2006

December Summary

I'm going to throw up the December summary a little early, since I've got plans for the next few days.

Birthday today, so spending some time with K. E decanted to the grandparents for an overnighter.

Tomorrow is the annual Jolly Boys day out, which is simply a day when the guys take the chance to go out and get ridiculously drunk without the girls in tow.

It's a long standing tradition which used to end in a visit to a club, but these days usually involves many pubs, some food, and climaxes in a casino in Glasgow. -EV ahoy!

After that it's Hogmanay time, though I can't see it being a wild one. In truth, there hasn't been one of those for quite a while.

Returning to the month so far...

For obvious reasons this has been a harrowing time. The miscarriage is one of those events that I wouldn't want to forget, but that I do need to put behind me.

K and I are both of similar minds on this, and are trying our hardest to look forward rather than back.

It's easy to say or write that, but less easy to actually manage it. We've both found ourselves unexpectedly breaking down in the last few days, but as I've said before, I'm sure time will be the healer.

Perversely, the time I've spent at the tables this month has been one of the best runs I've experienced in a long time.

I've had many more winning sessions than losing ones, albeit a couple of the losing ones have been real epics.

Chuck in the regular Interpoker bonus, and a decent rakeback, and it looks like I'm going to post a profit of just under $1000. I don't expect to be playing much, if at all, in the next few days so that figure should be fairly accurate.

I've been primarily playing a mix of $.25/.50 and $.50/1 NLHE on Doyles Room (Tribeca) and the standard of play is extremely mediocre. I also think 9-handed rather than 10-handed tables suit my No Limit approach better.

It's been interesting to track the various players I've added to my buddy list this month.

Many of them seem to disappear back to MTTs after a caning at the cash tables, but some of them pop up in the most unexpected places.

A few have migrated to 6-max, which could make sense as it might suit their maniacal style better.

One extremely passive type surprisingly appeared in the $2/4 9-handed game.

Most astounding of all, a guy who I'd labelled an 'over aggressive idiot' suddenly appeared in a $5/10 9-handed game on Boxing Day! I can only assume someone gave him a cash Christmas present.

I don't make a habit of watching other games, but I did take a few minutes to monitor that table. Unsurprisingly he was losing, and he didn't hang around long.

Although the bankroll has grown less than I'd hoped for this year, I'm optimistic I could hold my own in the $1/2 game at the very least.

My present expectation is to persevere with the current level for a while longer to prove to myself that I am a consistent winner at this level - and to build additional insurance reserves before stepping up - but the step up is certainly in sight.

I'll be putting together my annual review, and targets for 2007, quite soon. So, more on this to come.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Santa Arrives A Day Late

I couldn't win a hand last night, and dropped a couple of buy-ins as my opponents hit the most improbable draws, or proved to be totally unable to put down middle pairs again my unimproved AK, etc.

All standard fare, but one of those times where it becomes really annoying that some players have no clue about the fundamentals, like position, pot odds, etc.

Which is stupid, since of course that makes them ideal opponents - in the long term naturally.

Tonight the tables were turned, and I capitalised in this hand. It's amazing how much of a blind spot some people have to straights.

Any flush card tends to slow down the action, but note how little heed is paid to the turn.

When THREE people flop a set against your open ended straight draw, there's no way the turn should be so cheap - to say nothing of the feeble out-of-position raise with QQ - but who am I to complain?

 never looked so sweet!

[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Hand Start.
[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Seat 1 : AAJacks has $150.22
[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Seat 2 : hdbets has $56
[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Seat 3 : Villain 3 has $13.37
[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Seat 4 : Villain 2 has $48.59
[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Seat 5 : Hero has $102.08
[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Seat 6 : Mrs Colin has $76
[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Seat 7 : Villain 1 has $104.75
[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Seat 8 : IL Prof has $141
[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Seat 9 : Noodles1619 has $98.21
[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Hero is the dealer.
[Dec 26 21:57:13] : Mrs Colin posted small blind.
[Dec 26 21:57:15] : Villain 1 posted big blind.
[Dec 26 21:57:15] : Game [96727] started with 9 players.
[Dec 26 21:57:15] : Dealing Hole Cards.
[Dec 26 21:57:15] : Seat 5 : Hero has Jd Tc
[Dec 26 21:57:20] : IL Prof folded.
[Dec 26 21:57:21] : Noodles1619 called $1
[Dec 26 21:57:27] : AAJacks folded.
[Dec 26 21:57:27] : hdbets folded.
[Dec 26 21:57:27] : Villain 3 called $1
[Dec 26 21:57:32] : Villain 2 called $1
[Dec 26 21:57:34] : Hero called $1
[Dec 26 21:57:37] : Mrs Colin folded.
[Dec 26 21:57:45] : Villain 1 raised $2
[Dec 26 21:57:47] : Noodles1619 called $2
[Dec 26 21:57:51] : Villain 3 called $2
[Dec 26 21:57:54] : Villain 2 called $2
[Dec 26 21:57:56] : Hero called $2
[Dec 26 21:57:57] : Dealing flop.
[Dec 26 21:57:57] : Board cards [9s 4c Qd]
[Dec 26 21:57:59] : Villain 1 checked.
[Dec 26 21:58:01] : Noodles1619 checked.
[Dec 26 21:58:05] : Villain 3 bet $2
[Dec 26 21:58:09] : Villain 2 called $2
[Dec 26 21:58:12] : Hero called $2
[Dec 26 21:58:21] : Villain 1 called $2 and raised $8
[Dec 26 21:58:22] : Noodles1619 folded.
[Dec 26 21:58:24] : Villain 3 called $8 and raised $0.37 and is All-in
[Dec 26 21:58:24] : Under-Raise rules are now in effect.
[Dec 26 21:58:28] : Villain 2 called $8.37
[Dec 26 21:58:31] : Hero called $8.37
[Dec 26 21:58:34] : Villain 1 called $0.37
[Dec 26 21:58:34] : Dealing turn.
[Dec 26 21:58:34] : Board cards [9s 4c Qd 8h]
[Dec 26 21:58:41] : Villain 1 bet $16
[Dec 26 21:58:43] : Villain 2 called $16 and raised $19.22 and is All-in
[Dec 26 21:58:47] : Hero called $35.22
[Dec 26 21:58:51] : Villain 1 called $19.22 and raised $56.16 and is All-in
[Dec 26 21:58:53] : Hero called $53.49 and is All-in
[Dec 26 21:58:54] : Showdown!
[Dec 26 21:58:54] : Seat 5 : Hero has Jd Tc
[Dec 26 21:58:55] : Seat 3 : Villain 3 has 4h 4s
[Dec 26 21:58:55] : Seat 4 : Villain 2 has 9h 9d
[Dec 26 21:58:55] : Seat 5 : Hero has Jd Tc
[Dec 26 21:58:55] : Seat 7 : Villain 1 has Qh Qc
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Board cards [9s 4c Qd 8h 7h]
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Seat 7 : Villain 1 has Qh Qc
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Villain 1 has 3 of a Kind: Queens
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Seat 5 : Hero has Jd Tc
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Hero has Straight QJT98
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Hero wins $105.78 with Straight QJT98
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Seat 7 : Villain 1 has Qh Qc
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Villain 1 has 3 of a Kind: Queens
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Seat 4 : Villain 2 has 9h 9d
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Villain 2 has 3 of a Kind: 9s
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Seat 5 : Hero has Jd Tc
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Hero has Straight QJT98
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Hero wins $104.49 with Straight QJT98
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Seat 3 : Villain 3 has 4h 4s
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Villain 3 has 3 of a Kind: 4s
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Seat 4 : Villain 2 has 9h 9d
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Villain 2 has 3 of a Kind: 9s
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Seat 5 : Hero has Jd Tc
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Hero has Straight QJT98
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Seat 7 : Villain 1 has Qh Qc
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Villain 1 has 3 of a Kind: Queens
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Hero wins $56.35 with Straight QJT98
[Dec 26 21:59:15] : Hand is over.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Site Admin and Donald McVicar

I've been tidying up the blog template recently. Much as I'm a techie to trade, HTML isn't one of my core skills so I enjoy pottering around a little for a change of scene.

A while ago I added an RSS news feed for Glasgow Celtic, using the facility available from The Scotsman newspaper.

The Scotsman is, in theory, one of the 'quality' papers in Scotland. However a recently published front page article and opinion piece had me so fuming at their blatant institutional bigotry and shoddy journalism that I decided to drop their feed.

I've replaced it with one from that paragon of journalistic integrity, The BBC.

My old sparring partner Donald McVicar was also in the news recently, after referee Kenny Clark admitted on The Whistleblower website that he had wrongly denied Celtic a blatant penalty that could have put them 2-0 up in the recent Rangers game, which was subsequently drawn 1-1.

I think it's important to recognise the positive aspect of this. Referees are only human. They do make mistakes. What bothers me is they usually refuse to admit them.

So, it's good that Mr Clark has been big enough to own up to his error - even if he was the only person in the ground not to have thought it a penalty at the time. Indeed, so blatant was the trip, Stevie Wonder could have spotted it.

What continues to bother me is Donald McVicar insisting that Kenny Clark had a good game overall.

Oh really? In the first minute he missed a deliberate stamp by Alan Hutton on Aiden McGeady, as he lay prostrate on the ground. At least a yellow and possibly a red card offence.

Early in the second half he missed a brutal and blatant assault by Charlie Adam on Lee Naylor that left Naylor bleeding from an ankle injury that needed five stitches after the game.

This sort of wild tackle from behind is a straight red in any major competition. In the more lenient Scottish arena, it should still merit at least a yellow. Clark didn't even give a foul.

Adding insult to injury, as Naylor lay in obvious agony, he chided him for apparent time wasting or play acting. Since when did football players start carrying theatrical blood capsules in their socks?

So, applause to Donald and Kenny for owning up the most heinous error, but a return visit to Specsavers for them both, to help them spot their other deficiencies.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Précis of a Difficult Week

Firstly, a heartfelt thanks to those who have contacted me through comments or email. All the kind words have been very much appreciated by both of us.

It's been a week since we got the news, and I'm steeling myself for a return to work tomorrow. Assuming yet another cold bug has cleared up a little by the morning.

Having got over the initial shock of receiving such terrible news, we've been trying to maintain as much normality as possible for the sake of E.

She did get her first ever overnight stay at the grandparents on Monday, as K needed to undergo a surgical procedure known as a D&C to remove what remained of our baby from her womb.

That was an emotionally difficult day for us both, with the added factor that she had never undergone a general anaesthetic and was understandably nervous.

It's worth saying the doctors and midwives at the hospital have all been great. The medical profession is often criticised for lack of patient empathy, but the staff we encountered were universally sympathetic and caring.

The procedure went well, and has at least allowed us to draw a line under the pregnancy.

That said, I think it will be quite some time before our emotions are entirely settled.

We've both resigned ourselves to the fact we were victims of one of nature's quirks, and understand and accept what happened.

Which means we can rationalise it, but not ignore the sadness and despair that continues to linger within us.

Christmas shopping this week seemed to bring a never ending procession of newborns in prams, with parents beaming proudly at their offspring. I feel nothing but delight for them, but couldn't help wondering about what might have been for us.

I'm sure that will fade. Time being a great healer, as the saying goes.

My only overnight stay in hospital came about six years ago, when I had my tonsils removed. That's usually a childhood operation, but I was one of the unlucky adults.

I can still vividly recall coming round from the anaesthetic in a darkened room, whilst traces of (I presume) morphine still circulated in my veins.

My giddy, dreamlike state soon to be replaced by one of absolute bloody agony, as the effects subsided and only co-codamol was on offer for further pain relief.

I spent a week off work, mostly alone at home immersed in computer games as a distraction from the pain I was enduring. Whole days passed with me subsisting on a diet of soggy cornflakes and warm soup, whilst I razed cities to the ground and launched wave after wave of armoured assaults.

This week my distractions from the emotional pain have been football and poker.

The visit of Celtic to Ibrox being a real throwback in terms of passion, commitment, and scything acts of brutality - most of which went unpunished. I was nowhere near as deeply engaged in proceedings as I would usually have been, but the distraction was welcome and the result acceptable.

Much as I yearned to divert myself further through poker, I didn't trust myself to engage in any big bet cash games. So I ground out enough limit hands to work off the monthly Interpoker reload bonus, and played in a few of the daily freerolls.

Coincidentally, my rakeback provider had also laid on a couple of big freerolls. I got nowhere in the $10,000 at Interpoker, but squeaked into the top 30 of the $12,000 at Full Tilt.

Making the top 30 from 1600+ entrants is pretty commendable, even if maybe 35% didn't actually turn up, but it's still frustrating to make a mere $40 when $2500 is on offer to the winner.

In part I was a victim of timings, as the hand I went out on, in a battle of the blinds, was easily foldable, but it was getting late and K was going to the hospital the next day. So external factors were at work.

Perhaps the most encouraging sign this week was my eruption last night when I got AK cracked on an ace high flop - by a buffoon who paid three bets to see a flop with K2s and went runner-runner for the backdoor flush.

The shouting, cursing, and general outrage that such an idiotic play should be rewarded was an encouraging indicator that my emotions are returning to their normal levels.

There's still a long way to go, but I'm already looking forward to putting this year behind us, and making plans for a rosier future.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dark Times

This blog has been running for almost two years now, and I've racked up over 300 posts in that time. Some mediocre, some interesting, a few amusing, and one or two that are pretty damn good, even if I say so myself.

In all that time, I never imagined I'd have to write one like this.

The pregnancy is no more. The baby lost to a miscarriage.

It had all seemed to be going so well. The bump was developing, and although the Mrs (henceforth 'K'), was still suffering morning sickness, she felt the worst was over.

So it was with great optimism that we attended the first scan yesterday afternoon - unfazed by the grim weather that assailed us as we crossed the hospital car park.

Arriving a little ahead of schedule gave me the chance to grab some lunch in their cafe - having rushed there from work - and we sat discussing K's maternity leave options, as we marked time ahead of the appointment.

When the first images from the scan flashed up on screen, memories of the previous pregnancy came racing back.

It had been quite stressful. K suffered a lot of early bleeding, which led to a scan after only 6 weeks, at which point the baby resembled nothing more than a tiny prawn - with a flashing dot at it's centre, which the staff told us was the heart beating.

This time, I was able to make out something more closely resembling the images I recalled from the later scans, but as the operator began to ask questions of K it became apparent something was wrong, and the smile faded from my face.

As I heard the dread words, and K burst into tears, it became obvious to me what was missing from this scan - a heartbeat.

For a few moments I felt dizzy, detached, like a viewer watching a drama unfold on a TV screen. All I could do was hold K's hand and cuddle her. It didn't feel real.

We've had no problems with bleeding. The morning sickness is supposed to be a good sign - indicative of high levels of the necessary hormones. The bump has been growing.

So how can the baby be dead?

Once it had sunk in, the staff showed us to another room, and gave us some time to ourselves.

Later they explained that although the pregnancy had gone for 14 weeks, the baby had only developed to a size equivalent to 8 weeks. In all likelihood, it had been growing very slowly and died in the previous day or two before the scan.

The fluid sac that protects it had grown at the normal rate, hence the expanding bump.

All of which seemed logical, and as that facts sunk it, reality dawned.

The drive back to my parents to pick up The Toddler (E) was mercifully short. I could barely focus on the road.

Breaking the news to them was made all the harder by E's broad smile welcoming us, and her puzzled stare as she watched K hug my mum.

When we got home, all we wanted to do was lie down. Both of us felt physically drained by the experience.

24 hours later, the shock has worn off, and reality has set in. I've been doing some reading on miscarriages and the statistics surprised me.

According to the NHS over 10% of pregnancies end this way, so it's hardly unusual.

I think what hit us hardest was the total lack of expectation that such an event was occurring. As the staff at the hospital said, most people have an idea something is wrong due to bleeding, pain, or other symptoms in advance of the scan.

We were feeling optimistic and anticipating the experience of seeing our new baby for the first time.

Right now we are trying to focus on the positive. There's no suggestion any future pregnancy would be affected by what has happened, and if it had to happen, better to be sooner than later.

That doesn't make things good, but we understand that other people go through much tougher experiences than this, so I'm sure we will be fine, though it may take a while before normality is restored.

Until then, we will be trying to get on with life, and appreciating what we already have.

I can't see it being a jolly festive season, but I'll savour every moment spent with my family, and give all the love I can to the great child we already have.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Rollercoaster Ride

Having a fun time on the Tribeca NLHE tables this month so far.

From seven sessions, I'm looking at:

- three really good
- two good
- one break-even
- one terrible

Which is a more than acceptable ratio!

Even the terrible session didn't feel so bad, though the spreadsheet numbers suggest it was! Just one of those nights where big pairs got out-flopped, and every draw missed.

It even included what I'd term a 'good beat'. Called a raise on the button with 55, flopped middle set on a 9-high board. Raised the turn. Got called(good).

Checked behind on a scary river, only for my opponent to turn over 99 for the flopped top set!! He reraises the turn and I'm all-in and busted.

As I called the raise, I actually said out loud something along the lines, 'This could be the hand that turns this night around.'

In a way, it was. Just not quite in the manner I'd hoped.

I've won a couple of very big pots in similar circumstances this week, by going slightly against accepted logic and making very small lead-out bets when I flop a straight draw on a flushing board.

For example I get in from the SB with:

Then lead out for 2BB on a flop of:

At these levels this is almost shorthand for 'I have a heart flush draw and want to see a cheap turn', so when the turn happens to be a welcome 8c, the action really starts.

No one is likely to give you credit for the nuts - they might even have drawn to hit the idiot gutshot - and suddenly all the cash is in the middle. This happened twice this week, once to someone drawing dead, and once to someone trying to backdoor another flush.

The power of deception, and a good illustration of why adding a little 'incorrect' play to your game can be beneficial in the right circumstances.

Friday, December 08, 2006

For Those Of You In Vegas

Have a great time!! But can you beat this bar bill, run up by English poker pro Dave 'Dubai' Shallow.

Outspending P-Diddy takes some doing!!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Vegas Casino Group Launches UK Online Gaming

Here's an interesting little snippet from The Times.

Las Vegas Sands - owner of The Venetian - has announced plans to launch an online casino and poker site, initially for UK consumers.

Strange timing one might think, but I'd imagine they must have a pretty vast mailing list of non-US residents to whom they can market the site once it is bedded in.

Bill Weidner, Las Vegas Sands’ chief executive, said: 'As the internet gaming landscape continues to evolve, this effort will put us in a strong position to evaluate and react to other potential opportunities.'

As an IT guy, this doesn't half smack of a 'soft launch', in advance of bigger plans.

One wonders whether the ears of legislators have already been bent in Washington with regard to regulation and liberalisation of the US market.

Don't shut down those affiliate accounts just yet.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

November Summary

What a difference a month makes!

I started the October summary with a mournful, and very hungover, reflection on the disastrous Celtic performance in Lisbon against Benfica.

This month I'm basking in the glow of Champions League qualification for the first time since the tournament was restructured, and plans are already laid for a visit to the pub on Wednesday to see Celtic travel to Copenhagen with a genuine chance of winning the group.

Happy days indeed!

Things are looking up on the poker front too. I spent most of November flitting between limit and no limit Hold Em, with a tiny smattering of Triple Draw thrown in too. I'm still not playing as much as I'd like to but that's life.

My no limit game seems to be in pretty good shape right now, though I could have done with a little more luck in the way the turn and river fell.

My Triple Draw game is still in it's infancy and will need a fair bit of work before I plot my first visit to Bobby's Room.

I was in a real rut for most of October, but it's amazing the effect having just one or two big hands hold up in succession, or catching a draw against someone who underbets their made hand, but can't put it down when they go behind.

Suddenly it's sweetness and light, and poker is a great game again. As I've said before, poker is a game of mental fortitude, and keeping ones head together when things are going wrong pays off handsomely when it all comes right again.

Minimise the losses on the bad days, and maximine the profits on the good ones - that's what it's all about.

For December I'll probably persevere with more of the same, whilst living life vicariously through those who are off to Vegas in the near future.