Wednesday, February 25, 2009

February Book Report

Another month nears its end, but although I've been doing some reading, I haven't been nearly as active with books as I was last month. The major part of it is because that I was off for the first week of January, giving me a ton of leisure time. Another part of it is that I simply haven't been reading books that are what you'd call page-turners.

I re-read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. It was only a year ago or so that I read it the first time, but now that I've read his The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker I thought that perhaps there were references in The God Delusion that I'd be better equipped to fully understand - and I was right.

The other book I'm currently working my way through is - still - Mao: The Unknown Story. As I bitched about last time I wrote about books, this book is, well, "dense" for lack of a better word. Perhaps there isn't a better word. Perhaps "dense" was defined specifically to deal with this kind of book, or perhaps even exactly THIS book. It's interesting, in a general sense, but it's not something I find myself so caught up in that I can't put down.

... which is quite different from the book I just finished in two days, Speaker For The Dead by Orson Scott Card, the second book in his Sci-Fi series about Ender Wiggin. He has a knack for writing books that I can't put down and on a whim I ended up borrowing six of his books from a friend, all neatly stacked on my bedside table. One of them now finished, as of 1 o'clock this morning. I'm going to try to read a few chapters about Mao before picking up the next Ender book.

Also, Lori and I have just froliced in the Swedish phenomenon of "bokrea," the annual book sale that is an outdated but oh-so-popular tradition. At the end of February each year, all book stores go on sale and publishers do their best to empty their storages of last year's books. At least, in theory that's what the sale is for. In practise, the publishers order large stocks of the books they decide to put on sale so they have something to sell, which kind of defeats the original purpose of the tradition but still makes it an exciting time of year for a book-reading fanatic like myself.

So we've ordered books. Ironically, none of the books we ordered were on sale so one might wonder why we waited for the bokrea to place the order but... Eh, it's the principle of the thing, y'know?

Here are the books we ordered - let's see how long they'll last me. Let's also see if you can find a theme to this year's purchases:

In Odd We Trust - Dean Koontz
Forevever Odd - Dean Koontz
Odd Hours - Dean Koontz
Brother Odd - Dean Koontz

The Ancestor's Tale - Richard Dawkins
A Devil's Chaplain - Richard Dawkins
The Extended Phenotype - Richard Dawkins

Science Friction - Michael Shermer

Letter to a Christian Nation - Sam Harris

Breaking the Spell - Dan Dennett

Pi - Alfred Posamentier and Ingar Lehmann

Darwin's Watch - Terry Pratchett, I. Cohen and T. Stewart
Nation - Terry Pratchett

Outliers - Malcom Gladwell

Moral Disorder - Margaret Atwood

Darwin's Sacred Cause - Adrian Desmond and James Moore

Unknown Quantity - John Derbyshire

The Big Book of Nursery Rhymes - n/a

... and

The Tales of Beedle the Bard - J.K. Rowling


Yeah, we have a thing for evolution and atheism going in our reading right now. Also, we both liked Dean Koontz' book "Odd Thomas" and wanted to read more of the series, and we have a kid on the way so we got a book of nursery rhymes. To recap: Atheism, horror and nursery rhymes. Somewhere in America, a church is organizing a rally to take our soon-to-be-born baby away from its unfit parents.

It's gonna be a gooooood year.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Minnesota Senate Recount Trial

Perhaps this blog isn't the place you'd come to primarily for updates on the recount trial between republican Norm Coleman and DFL:er Al Franken for the Minnesota senate seat that is still up in the air.

Still, I follow it with some fervor because, well... My wife's from Minnesota, first of all, and secondly because I like Al Franken. Seriously, who wouldn't want the Man With Unusually Long Nose Hairs as a senator? He's good enough, he's smart enough and doggone it, people like him!

Anyway, while checking the Star Tribune to see if there were any updates, I found this nugget in the comments section by "harpmollie" that I just had to share:

I am not a fan of Norm, but who can blame him for fighting to the last breath to avoid being the answer in Trivial Pursuit to the question of who was the politician to lose elections to both Jesse Ventura and Al Franken.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Filthy Rich

I'm on my second shot at 2/4. This time, with some rocket luck (seriously, up 6 buy-ins in 500 hands), I think it just may have stuck. I'm still playing 1/2 when I can't find any good tables at 2/4, but in general I'm looking for good spots at $400NL tables first. A decent win-rate at these stakes means serious money and causes me to committ the mortal sin of "multiplying;" Irexes' and my name for when non-professionals start to win money at poker and extrapolate how much they could make if they were doing it full-time. We've started the Multiplyers' Support Group* for this very reason**.

Now, in the middle of all the multiplication I've been doing recently, I find myself with an interesting conclusion: It's really, really hard to get really, really rich off of poker. I mean, making a million dollars a year is nice and all, but that's not reasonably achievable for most of us. And as much respect as I have for Leatherass, I don't want to spend most of my days (and most of the time of those days) 10-tabling no-limit. But even if I could imagine doing that, a million dollars a year still isn't filthy rich. It's good money, but it's not "I-can-buy-anything-I-want"-rich.

The big problem with poker income is that it doesn't grow exponentially. Once you hit the highest stakes, your salary curve, such as it was, flattens out. If you're one of the lucky ones, it just stays flat. If you fall behind the other curve - the learning one - it will start turning down. I think the way to become filthy rich from poker is to win a bunch of money and invest it cleverly. Making your net worth grow by 10% a year on its own (as in, not counting the amount of money you add from your latest cash-outs) may not sound so much for us poker players who are used to laying 10% of our bankroll on the line on any given night, but 10% a year means it doubles in 7 years. And quadruples in 14. And so on. If Leatherass puts aside one year's winnings with a good investment strategy, he'll have about $30 million by the time he retires. Not counting whatever else he'll have won since that first investment deposit.

So for a multiplier like me, it's important to remember that while I might someday be rich from poker, the vast majority of that wealth will have been accumulated off of the ROI of my portfolio, not the ROI of my online poker.

Boring, isn't it?

* If you have a better name, post it in the comments.
** So far it's just him and me in it, but anyone considering playing full time against their better judgment are welcome to join.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Welcome to 2009!

You'd think someone like me, working with cutting-edge technology, would be more up-to-date with these things than I am, but I've finally figured out how to blog using my phone. This is unlikely to increase the quality of my posts but it may up the frequency just a bit.

Now, if I can also figure out how to upload pictures...

Monday, February 16, 2009


After my failed shot at 2/4, I've been rebuilding my bankroll for the next shot and it... Well, it's been a bumpy ride. But now, after half the month is through, I've finally managed to work myself up to break-even for the month which puts me in a good spot to try again. Maybe this time I won't lose 3 all-in-on-the turn pots in a row as a 80%+ favorite. I'm not a big fan of the EV graphs because they represent only one portion of luck in poker, but after these couple of weeks I just had this overwhelming feeling of being completely shafted in these spots so I took a look. And sure enough, there it was - 20 buy-ins below EV for the month of February. Still, I'm now back at break-even, but it was a tough climb filled with the occasional "oh for FUCK'S SAKE!"followed by a grunt and a deep sigh and then by a tilt-check which I usually passed.

Yesterday, I decided to play in the Sunday Warm-up on Stars, a tournament that I have previously gone 3/4 in cashing in, but bubbled out yesterday when I decided to go for it with AK 26 seats before the bubble. Blinds 1500/3000, my stack was 50k. Got called by AT on the button who had me covered, flop came A-8-4, two spades, I bet a committing amount and followed up with a shove on the turn when the third spade hit and it was a ten. Button snap-called and I was drawing to three kings on the river but didn't get there. Ah, well.

I keep doing pretty well in tournaments, yet I feel slightly uncomfortable the whole time I'm playing then. Keep being paranoid. Keep feeling like I'm scared money. I don't like it. Maybe I won't play tournaments anymore. Who knows.

On the cash game side, I've decided to stop desperately chasing bonuses on Party. I'm utterly convinced that attempting to put in big volumes of hands is hurting my bottom line much more than the bonuses help to up it. I simply can't play my best for 2,000 hand stretches. I admire people who can routinely keep their focus for that long, but I think I've come to terms with the fact that I'm not one of them. So I simply have to play shorter sessions and quite possibly try to play a bit fewer tables as well, aiming for the 5-6 table sweet spot and try to stay away from the occasional 12 table set-up that I sometimes toy with. I want to make thin value bets, well-timed river bluff raises and perfectly sized c-bets and double barrels, but I feel like my ability to pull this off gets seriously diminished when the action is on me on 3 other tables while I'm trying to decide what to do.

So, to recap:

Step 1: Fewer tables, shorter sessions, better decisions.
Step 2:
Step 3: Profit.

Maybe I don't need a step 2.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Swing and a Miss

My 400NL shot did not work out. I was trodding along yesterday, logging about 2k hands, and started out great, going up two buy-ins. Then I ran ice cold for awhile, getting no action on my big hands and getting drawn out on the turn or river to lose some pretty big pots. Was down about 1k for the day.

Then, as I was getting ready to call it quits, the plug apparently came out, and the following four hands took place in less than 10 minutes:

Three limpers, and I check the BB w 72s. Flop comes 8-7-2 twotone, I bet, UTG limper raises, I 3-bet, he 4bets small and I shove. He tanks and calls with KK. Turn is an eight and... Oh well.

Another table is about to break and it's me and a hyperaggressive player left. He has FPS tendencies, so I decide to play a couple of hands with him HU to see if I can get him to spew. I could; we get it all-in on the K-8-2-3 turn where I get it in with TT, and his AJ spikes an ace on the river. Engh.

UTG raises and two callers, I ponder squeezing with QJ in the BB, but decide to just call instead. Flop comes J-8-2, two spades. I decide against check/raising the field and lead out. UTG raises, everyone else folds. We're deep, his raise was small, and I decide to peel to see what he does on the turn. The turn is another J, and I'm now only behind to 88, 22, AJ and KJ. I lead out again, because I think he'll take a free card often. He snapshoves. I snapcall. He hits his flush on the river with A2s... For crying out loud.

And thus ended my 400NL shot for this time. I'm still well bankrolled for 200NL, and have no qualms about putting in more work there. And as much as yesterday sucked, I'm still actually only down about $400 counting from a week ago, so in perspective things are not that bad. I'm already looking forward to my next attempt at moving up - and maybe this time I'll run hot when I get there!