Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March Book Report

Perfectly in line with playing very little poker this month (a grand total tally of 7k hands, with a $600 profit which was enough to make my monthly cash out without my bankroll having a net loss this month), I've spent all the more time reading books. I think I'm on target to break January's record of Most Books Read in a Month, and for my own record keeping and your enjoyment (tremendously more for the former than for the latter) here is March's list:

After borrowing the series from a friend, I wrapped up the "sequals" (if that's the right word) to the Sci-Fi book Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, namely:

  • Speaker for the Dead
  • Xenocide
  • Children of the Mind

Which follows Ender further into the future, and has a decidely more philosophical approach compared to the psychological curiousness of Ender's Game.

Then, I read the trilogy of one of Ender's companions in Battle School, where the first book takes place much in parallel to Ender's Game but then takes the story further and we get to find out what happened after the war:

  • Ender's Shadow
  • Shadow of the Hegemon
  • Shadow Puppets

Content with my adventures in Sci-Fi, I then returned to the real world, reading a short but fascinating book about the phenomenon of Occidentalism:

  • Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies by Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit

Al-Qaeda aren't the first to detest the stereotypical pepsi-drinking, rock'n'roll loving westerner. This is an age-old tradition, with traces not only to the Kamikaze soldiers of Japan, but also to Hitler, Marx and even further back. Western - or modern, if you will - culture (although the subscribers to this idea would object to my calling it that) is completely devoid of spirituality, and its citizens - the occidents - are obsessed only with material things and greed.

Back to fiction!
  • Forever Odd by Dean Koontz
... is the second book in the series about Odd Thomas, the psychic young man with some very lovable quirks. It's a horror book on some level, I suppose, but has a tenderness to it that makes it hard to feel very scared when reading. I had troubles putting it down and I think I finished it in less than three days.

My wife has suggested that perhaps atheism can be considered a hobby of mine, and while I'm not sure that that's a good way to describe it, I never the less can't seem to get enough of the writings of Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett and Sam Harris.
  • Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris
... was a short but devastatingly succinct book. It's written, as the title implies, to a person of faith and demonstrates what Harris thinks of the "morals" that are pushed on the world as a result of very dubious measurement of what actually constitutes goodness. He doesn't aim it only at the Young Earth Creationist whackos (of which there are apparently more than I dared to imagine); he aims it at what he conceives to be the average American christian. I read it in one sitting.
  • Stikkan - by Marie Ledin (Stikkan Andersson's daughter)
... About the man most famous for being the man behind ABBA. He's known in Sweden for discovering many other (locally famous) artists and for writing many of the texts for songs that virtually defined the Swedish music landscape of the 60s. As it was written by his daughter, it was a very personal account of his life, and I actually choked up a bit at the end when I read about his funeral. That doesn't happen often.
  • The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch by Terry Pratchett, Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart
... in essence a science (and science history) book, with every other chapter being a fictional account of wizards from the Unseen University in Discworld attempting to save Roundworld from destroying itself, and every other chapter about the real world science in play. The science is not new to me, but the history portion of it fills in gaps for me, and Pratchett... Well, he's never dull.

And speaking of Pratchett, I'm currently reading:
  • Nation
It's not a typical Pratchett book, although it does contain some humour. I believe it's made for "young adults" and halfway through, I think it's a very nice distraction from...

... The brick about Mao. It gets some, but not much, attention. I work off a chapter here and there, but I'm still only a little less than half the way through. It IS actually interesting, I shouldn't say that - it's just that I have so many other books that appeal to me so much more that I find it hard not to put it down to read a chapter in one of the others instead. But worry not, I shall win this battle in time. Maybe by the end of April.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Limit Hold 'em Hand Reading, by Hoss

It's funny 'cos it's true:


Yeah, it's old. I didn't know he had a blog and kind of hap-hazardly came across it while reading The Poker Grump. Then I did some backtracking and found this gem of a post.

In other news, I'm still not playing poker, and I'm pretty happy about it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Chat with Irexes, follow-up

Custo left a comment for my last post, and I was going to respond there but decided I had enough to say about it that putting it on the front page was worth the effort:

Hi Fredrik, I don't think I've played poker for as long as you have but whenever I feel bored or uninterested in poker, and it does happen to all of us at some stage, similar to what Irexes mentioned I'll switch something around. Go from SnG's to ring games, or better yet for me, switch from Pokerstars, to another poker network. Helps me maintain my interest. Perhaps a week or two off is a good idea for yourself. From what I know of you, you are quite a solid player and would be a shame to not utilize all that talent.

For me it's a little easier to keep myself motivated being a family man. But if I was you, find yourself a driving factor, a reason to play and make some money to be able to put it towards something positive.

Hope this helps you in someway. Obviously only you can make the ultimate decision whether you wish to continue playing or not, but if you have a reason to succeed in life, I say let poker be your catalyst and get you closer to a successful and happier future.

First, thanks for the response. I always appreciate it when someone not only reads what I have to say but makes the effort to phrase a written response to it as well.

Secondly, there are a couple of things that come into play for me in terms of my recent poker disinterest. For one thing, I've reached 2/4. Playing $400NL was one of my long term goals when I moved from limit hold 'em to $25 no-limit in April last year, and now I've come there. "Mission Accomplished" and, uh, now what? I haven't set any new goals for myself except some vague notion that I could perhaps make $50k this year if I set my mind to it.

Also, as Rex points out, the upcoming family member addition probably has me at least mentally "nesting." Things that were previously important to me may no longer apply, and new priorities are going to set in - or are already setting in. I could make a lot of extra money off of poker, but it's not "free money" - it comes with a price tag marked in time. And spending 10-15h per week by the computer when I have a baby in the house might be even harder to find motivation for than it is now.

Thirdly, money is not hugely important to me. Sure, there's stuff that another $30k/year in paycheck padding could buy me that I'd like to have, but not that I need. I'm mostly content in spending time at home, or with friends, or reading books or... Well, let's just say that I'm fairly low maintenance. There are very few things that I wish I could afford. A new car would be nice, and a bigger house in a few years - sure! But without any interest in making it as a professional poker player (and believe me, I've thought it through enough to know that I absolutely lack this ambition) and a realization that while I can make a nice chunk of money on the side from poker, I won't ever get filthy rich off of it, and my progression through the ranks has an upper limit due to the limited amount of time I can spend on the game.

Playing a different form of poker - Omaha, Razz, SnGs, etc. - would probably lift my spirits a little, but would only serve to make poker more interesting, which isn't really a goal in itself for me. I want to make a nice chunk of money off of the game, while also finding it interesting. Getting just the one without the other isn't good enough for me. There are plenty of things I'd rather do with my time than play Razz. The motivation for playing Razz would need to be an hourly expectation of maybe $100 or so, and I don't think I'll be anywhere near that for quite awhile.

Because that's what it is, in a sense. I'm choosing not to play NLHE, knowing that it "costs" me $150/hour (or whatever my average hourly this year is; but probably thereabouts), or differently put, I'm paying $150/hour for the privilege of slacking off and not having to go through the stress of playing poker. And at this point in time, it feels like money well spent.

I think your suggestion of just taking time off is probably the best way to go for me. If I just flat out decide that I won't play anymore poker until April, I won't have to come home, look at the computer and think "I know I should play poker but I just don't feel up for it." Getting that psychological hurdle out of my life at least for the time being is probably a good idea, and I think I'll do just that.

I'll let you know how it works out. Thanks again for your input.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Chat with Irexes.

Fredrik Paulsson says:
So I'm completely uninterested in poker. It has nothing to do with a downswing; I've been running averagely lately. I wonder how long before I start feeling like playing again.
Irexes says:
Ooooo interesting
Fredrik Paulsson says:
I dutifully sit down to play, manage to bore myself through 500 hands, and then promptly get up and do something else.
Irexes says:
My longest period of uninterest is counted in hours so I am at a loss to empathise
Fredrik Paulsson says:
I'm going at about two weeks now.
Irexes says:
Is it ceasing to be a challenge or interesting?
Fredrik Paulsson says:
I think my recent surge in reading books - and buying lots of fascinating new books to read - is a big part of it.
Fredrik Paulsson says:
Just uninteresting.
Fredrik Paulsson says:
It's not like I've "mastered" poker in any way. I still make lots of mistakes.
Fredrik Paulsson says:
But I can't be bothered to study the game, and that means that the only thing I do when playing is to grind away.
Fredrik Paulsson says:
Which is not good in the long term, since I'm no longer improving, and it's boring in the short run.
Fredrik Paulsson says:
(My recent low post count in the forums, if it's been noticed, is because of this, of course)
Irexes says:
I swing between ring and MTTs when enthusiasm dwindles for one or the other, that probably helps me maintain interest, and I can see how ring could stretch ahead like a neverending grind if the enthusiastic mindset went
Fredrik Paulsson says:
Yeah, I've toyed with the idea of picking up Razz or Omaha
Irexes says:
hard way to make an easy living and all that
Irexes says:
Razz pro imo
Fredrik Paulsson says:
Coolest job description ever.
Fredrik Paulsson says:
"What do you do for a living?"
Fredrik Paulsson says:
"I try to get the worst hand possible."
Irexes says:
Fredrik Paulsson says:
Now I'm going to drink my coffee and indulge in a game of Civilization, I think.
Irexes says:
Baby on the way makes for a shifting of mental gears, could be a factor
Fredrik Paulsson says:
Irexes says:
mental nest clearing
Fredrik Paulsson says:
Difference in priorities, etc.
Irexes says:
only lasts for 6 or 7 years imo
Fredrik Paulsson says:
Irexes says:
Fredrik Paulsson says:
With your permission, I'd like to post this conversation on my blog. It's the closest thing to an update I have to give my tiny but very loyal fanbase.
Irexes says:
of course go for it, it'll count as me doing something bloggy as well
Irexes says:
by proxy
Fredrik Paulsson says:
Awesome, a win-win, then.

Monday, March 2, 2009

How You Find Me

About twice a year or so, I (somewhat randomly) decide to look at phrases people have googled and that have brough them to this little blog. Today was such a day. Sometimes people find their way here in amusing ways like whoever put in "when poker isn't fun anymore" and decided that my blog was their destination. I've also been getting a lot of traffic for having put up a post about La Muerte Palula. A lot of people watch South Park, so it's perhaps not surprising that a few of them end up here when searching for the name of one of the episodes.

So the tool that shows me this information also tells me how many hits a certain search term has netted me. Most of them show the number "1." What surprised me today was that in the last two months, no less than 21 people have come here specifically googling "tiffany michelle wsop fredrik."

My site ranks number one on that particular phrase. Yay! But who is searching for it? It must surely be someone who has already read the post and wants to read it again? Or is there some other story here? Is there some connection between another Fredrik and Tiffany Michelle regarding the WSOP?

It's all very strange to me. If you happen to be one of these people (or that person. For all I know, I suppose it could be one single person who just has a weird habit of putting that particular search into Google every day.) please let me know why, because the curiousity is killing me.