Friday, December 19, 2008

I'm Getting Better.

It's hard to quantify exactly how much better I've gotten since starting coaching with Alan Jackson, but my confidence is sky-high right now and my bottom line isn't in bad shape, either. I did this month what I did last month and went on a 10-buyin downswing tear in the first few days which immediately removes almost any chance of the month setting any monetary records, but I've done well anyway. Including a $525 cash in the Sunday Warm-up, I'm up a little over $2,000 for the month which is a decent result for me, given the relatively low volume of hands I manage to play. I'm still hoping for a small christmas miracle to make December my BME (Best Month Ever) but I won't have a chance to play much more before new year's - it's chiefly this weekend and then maybe a day or two before new year's eve, since we're leaving Monday to visit my parents over christmas.

Anyway. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I leave you with this video. It's from a Norwegian television show, but the singer, I'm proud to announce, is Swedish.

... I think.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Wiki Challenge

I have a new game for you, a variation of the Kevin Bacon Game, where the idea is simple:

Come up with two topics that have articles on Wikipedia, and find the shortest number of clicks from one to the other.

Simple and lots of fun. For instance, cartoon character Bart Simpson and Swedish 18th century composer and singer Carl Michael Bellman are connected thus: to

So four clicks.

Can you beat my score on that path? Or come up with your own.

"Elephantiasis" to "World Trade Center" is doable in three clicks, but wasn't that hard.

Wiki-Challenge your friends!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Lori on Immigration and Integration

My wife - Lori - wrote a pretty comprehensive summary of how she feels about the attitude to integration and immigrants in Sweden, which is well worth reading.

And probably well worth reading even if you're not from Sweden or don't care about Swedish immigration politics.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Good Poker Player

What does it mean to be a "good poker player?"

The question popped into my head because of something that Short-Stacked Shamus wrote, where he mentioned Richard Nixon being a good poker player. And some part of me thought "well, he'd almost certainly get his butt handed to him by your average $25NL player today, though." The other part listened to what that part of me had said, and thought "yeah, that's a good point."

There's just so much new material, so much more research done, so many computer programs and simulations done now that what was considered "good" before can't possibly cut it anymore. I play with the idea that the toughest pros of 20 years ago if brought forward to today's game would cause huge waiting lists of other people wanting to sit in for the easy money. I have a feeling that if you took the final table of the WSOP ME in 1988 and plopped them down at a Party Poker's $200NL game, I might make a killing.

[How I'd fare in a live game versus the same players is possibly a different story; my point regards the theoretical understanding of the game]

You don't believe me? There are plays and strategies today that weren't figured out yet at that point. Many of them. To take a limit hold 'em example, it wasn't until relatively recently (late 90s) that it was first postulated that raising and re-raising with a flushdraw on the flop when you have two or more other players in with you is a winning move. "Equity" wasn't a concept people were good with, in large part because without a computer to calculate it, equity was at best a sketchy guess. And if equity as a concept is largely unknown to you, or you don't particularly have any idea of what your equity might be like, your plays must be mostly based on guesses.

Let's say I'm dealt the two black kings, raise in the cut-off, called the big blind, and the flop is 9-8-7, two hearts. Let's say I have a pretty good idea of what range my opponent has. Should I bet? Given my opponent's range, I can estimate my equity pretty well, probably to the point of +/- 5%. Would Doyle have been able to, 20 years ago? I doubt it. I remember reading that David Sklansky spent a lot of time sitting with a deck of cards, just dealing out hands and writing down results to figure out some kind of equity. An extremely slow version of PokerStove, you might say.

Certain things about poker are timeless. Reads. Tilt. Playing tight. But in the past few years, with the help of computers and not the least the amazing boom in poker that made lots of very intelligent people who otherwise may have spent their brains analyzing something other than a card game suddenly argue flop textures, we now know things about continuation betting, bluffing, equity and EV, that we just flat out didn't know 20 years ago. Or 40, in the case of Nixon.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Limit is science, no-limit is art

Just a quick heads-up to all of you who've heard, said or believe that "limit is science, no-limit is art."

They're both sciences.

The only difference between the two is that the science behind no-limit is several orders of magnitude more complex, so most people just guess blindly, and when prompted for why they took a certain action decide to call it "art."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Vista? No.

So I ordered a new computer on Friday. It surprisingly promptly arrived on Monday, at which point all the parts needed to be assembled, the OS installed, etc. I had a free choice on OS, and no I did not install a cracked copy. All legit. And with 8GB of RAM in this puppy, I needed a 64-bit OS, so "naturally" I went with the best and finest: Vista Ultimate. Nothing is too good for me and my computer!

Except Vista sucks. I hate it. Detest it. Can't stand it.

Okay, in fairness I should perhaps say that it's not Vista that sucks, it's the applications written for it. Often, the bugs that occur in Vista should have occurred in other operating systems as well, but they were not as rigorously written for security so they don't show up there. I can see that happening.

But it doesn't matter whose fault it is. Case in point is that I can't run Vista and do the things I need to do. Like run Holdem Manager (which requires an installation of PostgreSQL which flat out won't work on Vista Ultimate, because Windows Installer has decided that something else is already installing - don't ask). So, tonight, after another cascade of failed attempts at googling the error symptoms and trying to set things straight, I gave up and simply installed XP x64 instead. Good ol' XP. 

It took 30 minutes to install, as compared to Vista's 4 hours. It runs faster, as far as I can tell, and I know how to work it. Now, three hours after a fresh install, most of the programs I want installed are installed.

So, no poker has been played this week. It was just about five minutes ago that I got HEM installed and up and running again, and now I have some database importing to do and that's going to take awhile. Still, good to have my computer back.

Screw you, Vista. Screw you right in the ear.