9-30-05 [poker]Harrington gives some really wild conflicting advice. He wants you to play a solid conservative game, make good decisions based on pot odds. But then he also tell you to call down a big reraise just to show that you'll defend your raises. Similarly he suggests making an all-in bluff from your big blind when someone tries a button steal, to show your big blind can't be messed with. Which is it Dan? Solid or wild?
Another rough loss in the local game here. (actually I got 3rd, but I should have won so it feels like a loss). I never got any cards, but I still managed to have the big stack with 3 players left. Then I proceeded to lose 5 races in a row, where I was either a 60/40 favorite or a 60/40 dog, and I was out in 3rd place. Racing in that scenario is exactly what I want to do - I'm raising more than my share, and sometimes people will come allin over the top, and I want to call them in hopefully a 50/50 situation. Then I just have to win a few.
I'm on a long losing streak, and it's hard to tell if it's my bad play or bad luck. I really think I'm playing well and just having a bad down spell, but of course that's what bad players think.
9-30-05 [life]Recently Dan and I saw a couple of tarantulas out in Pozo. This area is one of the top tarantula habitats in the U.S. (and in fact has the highest overall density of spiders anywhere in the U.S.).
Last night I found a scorpion in my house. I was sitting on the floor watching TV (as I am wont to do), when I looked over and saw this thing walking towards me; I did a total double take - what the fuck is that? Now I new that I had to worry about spiders, mosquitos, bees, wasps, snakes, etc. but I had no idea that scorpions were out to get me. That wasn't even on my fucking radar!
9-28-05 [life]Occasional over-reactions are a legitimate balance to a long string of over reactions. In my life, people are mild ass-holes to me over and over every day. Usually I'm just polite in return. Once in a rare while they catch me at a bad time and I go off on them. This may seem uncalled for or unfair, but it's sort of like a rare-probability EV thing. Each time you are a small asshole to me, you get 1 point. Do that 1000 times and I need to be a 1000X asshole to even out.
On a related note, we should rape and murder rich people every so often. Sure, they probably don't deserve it individually, but it balances out a huge sheet of small evils they commit every day.
9-28-05 [life]The "Red Rock" swimming hole near Santa Barbara is unbelievable, wonderful. I put a photo on my Yahoo page. Underwater it's clear and green with a garden of strange rocks and caves. There's a bit too much traffic for relaxed nude bathing, but we did it anyway. My low-riding Honda had no trouble making it there now, in dry season, but it looked like in wet season it would be very hard to reach (there are 4 deep river crossings), you'd need better clearance.
9-28-05 [computers]The Nintendo Revolution looks like a joy to develop for. Nothing very strange about it, just a nice fast capable machine. Compared to the beasts from Sony and MS, it should be much easier to make & port games for. The controller is also pretty cool, though it seems like more of a novelty than a useful general purpose device, I wonder if that will backfire. (it does finally take advantage of the classic tendency of Mario players to jump their avatar by actually moving the controller).
This generation of consoles might be the first ever to actually be faster than high end PC's when it comes out. The Xbox was pretty close in terms of the GPU, but the CPU was way behind high end PC's when it came out. Of course, because of the dev difficulty, high end PC's will be in fact more capable even though they are theoretically less powerful. By the time developers master the quirky consoles, PC's will have moved ahead and taken the lead again. Of course it's not fair to compare a $200 console and a $4000 PC, which is why it's quite impressive how capable these consoles are when they come out.
9-27-05 [sports]Shanahan is the best ever at coaching the offensive line and cut-back running. If only they didn't have such a rotten QB, I could like Denver. Most people don't remember Shanahan was the 9er's offensive coordinator back in the day, and the offense he runs in Denver is roughly the same one that gave the 9er's their glory years - it's a running offense, you pound the defense, bet them to play in the box, and then you pull a lot of play action, boot legs, and burn em with the pass. Jake is one of those guys who can have a great day and make you love the team, and then the next game he'll personally throw the game away.
9-27-05 [poker]Consider some near-nut hands. On a board like AAQ , if you hold QQ, you have the 2nd nuts. Now, there are actually two hands that beat you, AQ and AA, but both are not possible - if one is out there, the other cannot be, so in either case you have the 2nd best possible hand. More precisely, there are 3 hands that could be out there that beat you (one AA, two AQ's) so in the full hand-counting, you have the 4th best hand.
Now consider the case with a 4-flush on the board. You have the king of that suit. Again in common parlance you have the 2nd nuts, the ace-high flush being the nuts. But now, in the full hand counting there are many possible ace-high flush hands he could have. There are 44 unknown cards that could go with his ace, so you actually have the 45th best hand. You see that in both cases you have the "2nd nuts" but in the second case, you're far more likely to be beat.
I've said before that "Poker Superstars" just has a horrible structure; the blinds are too big too fast and it just becomes an all-in battle. (beside that, the coverage is terrible, we hardly see any hands). Anyhoo, it's interesting to see the top pros in it, and so many of them adjust really badly. Many of them are just playing way too tight (Giang, all the old guys). The people that are doing well are the ones who are hyper aggressive, like Seed, Mortensen, Forrest. It's also interesting to see Sklansky doing so well. He's generally a poor No Limit player, but Superstars is just a mathematical all-in battle, which he's good at. I expect him to fall apart in the heads up matches though, unless the blinds are so big that all play is removed. And what's up with the horrendous play of some of them (like Mimi Tran)?
It must be some sort of common delusion for me to think I'm better than some of the world's top pros, and yet I have trouble beating low limit games.
9-26-05 [politics]All international arms sales should be illegal (including nuclear equipment, etc. etc.). At the moment international arms sales are not regulated by any body, though they're supposed to be illegal in certain war zones, in fact they are not since the major nations of the world do whatever they want. (Russian ex-military planes run black market arms sales for France, etc.). It's easy for us to point the finger at places like Russia, China, and France which have long supplied arms to tyrants, genocidaires, murderers - but of course we have done equal rotten things, pumping weapons to evil people to advance our goals or simply for profit.
Currently it requires a unanimous vote on the security council to do anything meaningful to stop arms sales. In practice that makes it impossible, since someone on the council is always profiting and won't vote to stop the sales. That should be reversed. All arms sales should be illegal by default, and it should require a unanimous vote to let them through. Of course the U.S. would never agree to that (or ignore it if we did) since we spit in the face of international law. It might have effects that we would consider untenable, like the sale of arms to Israel might get banned, or limited.
9-26-05 [finance]A wise investor would move their money in and out of housing as the market looked good or not. This is just like moving between different stocks as they look good or bad, but it's a much bigger move. Let's say your housing investment is around 500k, and the return on housing fluctuates from 0-20% , while other investments can always do around 10% , then getting in and out of housing at the right times returns 50k the first year, and compounded $800k over ten years - on top of the amount you would make just by being in one or the other. (that's all very rough, but you get the idea).
9-26-05 [computers]This is sweet : [gamecritics] . I'm particularly glad that people noticed the large levels streaming and instant loading (nice work Dave); I'm also glad someone noticed that we did the Halo-style controls and did a pretty good job of it (props Aaron). On the other hand, his contention that the game is near flawless and could be easily sold is debatable.
9-26-05 [computers]Another rough cut at a NoT-like browsing experience is StumbleUpon . It seems like a pretty rough gimmick at the moment, sort of like GNOD or something, good as a toy but not really useful.
In the ideal NoT world I could just search something like "realtime 3d shadows" and I would find the pages that are actually most relevant to that topic and well rated by people that I trust in that field. (and see their comments scribbled on the page). Also, much of this can be automatic. People wouldn't have to manually mark pages as good, there are two primary automatic ways of approving of pages : 1) Links from pages I trust, (in this case a link from "realtimerendering" would pump up the rank, or 2) Visits from people I trust; the visit and usage amount by people that I trust indicate that the page is good; if some clicks through to a page and immediately leaves, it means it's not interesting.
9-25-05 [computers]I wrote a little article on the Network of Trust ; it's super rough, it's sort of just to make sure I have something concrete out there about it.
Ignacio sent me this link to - last.fm ; it's sort of like the beginnings of what I dream about with the NoT driving everything I do with data. Check it out for sure, it's cool.
Drew provided a nice quick phrase about how NoT affects typical browsing - There needs to be a way for my to tap into the same network of trust when I'm shopping on amazon.com, iTunes, movietickets.com, google, etc. What I mean is that it needs to be implemented without being tied to a particular service. I have no idea how, but I know I would use the fuck out of it. So basically we are talking about a giant database where users say what they like and don't like, and then you create associations within that database.
9-24-05 [sports]Donovan McNabb and Daunte Culpepper are chronically over-rated. You can tell over-rated players because people are always talking about them like they're better than their performance. Every week - they didn't get it done, but they're better than that, they weren't up to their ability. What exactly is their ability then? How do you know they're so good when every week they underperform?
9-23-05 [poker]A common mistake in poker is to adjust your game too much based on short term results. People will often be caught bluffing, and then stop bluffing, or they'll get bluffed, and then start trying to call down every bet to catch bluffers. This is based on the reaction that you "did something wrong" and need to correct for it. It's critical to stay on your game and not adjust based on what's working well from hand to hand. Of course you want to adjust to the play of the table, but you want to adjust your style rationally based on peoples' tendencies - not the results of the hands! You might have played perfectly when a hand when horribly wrong for you, or you might have played terribly on a hand that went well.
Today I lost a bunch of money because I successfully caught a few bluffers and made a good profit, and then proceeded to keep trying to catch bluffers, and blew off my stack.
9-23-05 [life]I love my new pay-as-i-go phone. Never a bill, ever! I despise bills, sudden charges appearing which I didn't agree to or expect, the monthly obligation to pay for a service. Let me pay cash and give me what I pay for right away. Hallelujah!
9-22-05 [fuck]Rita might be worse than Katrina, and everyone in Texas is panicky because of the previous disaster. I have lots of family in Houston, but they'll be okay. My mom owns a beach house on the Texas coast which is surely going to be completely obliterated. Another scary issue is oil. Near Houston/Galveston (Texas City, etc.) is one of the main areas for oil tankers and refineries. If those get wiped out, on top of the problems from Katrina, we could get into serious gas shortages.
9-21-05 [poker]I just played the $20 multi-table tourney and made 60th place out of 670. It took like three hours and I cashed for $46 - not a very good hourly wage. I had a big stack near the end and was headed for a much higher cash, but I had one hand where I melted down and played badly. Three hours of play, playing hard, focused, and then one hand where I lose concentration and mess around and it fucks me. God damn poker is tough.
9-21-05 [poker]I have a new favorite move preflop. It's very simple - with your medium good hands (TT,JJ,AK), raise really big, like 10xBB. Good players will recognize that you're doing this and stay out of your way. Good players will also see the 10x odds and know it's not worth calling you unless they have a monster. On the other hand, bad players will not recognize your pattern, and will call the 10x with marginal hands even though it's a huge call preflop. The result is that you'll get isolated in the hand with bad players, which is a huge benefit. With the very best hands (QQ,KK,AA) you want more action, so you should mix a variety of plays (you don't want to scare away the good players).
9-21-05 [computers]Using something like my "Network of Trust" idea, you should be able to do "taste extrapolation". eg. based on my movie ratings at Netflix, find people who have similar tastes, see what music they like, or clothes, or whatever, and give me recommendations in that category. When you actually find people with tastes in common it's a very powerful correlation; on the other hand, one-item correlation is very poor. eg. I like the movie "Sin City", but if you just look at things that other people who liked "Sin City" like, that's a very poor correlation to my taste.
9-20-05 [poker]Barry Greenstein's web site is hillarious. The music is awesome. The main page says over and over "you probably suck, I am a god, buy my poker book but quit playing poker, you will never be a pro". The player reviews rule.
"Action" Dan Harrington named himself "Action" because he knows it fucks with people's heads. First they go "he must be wild", then they see his play and think "wait, he's not action, he's a rock", the adjective sticks in your head and you have to fight it to try to just play him straight up.
9-20-05 [computers]Who know how to disable all web audio? I hate fucking embedded web audio (though Barry's page is quite amusing). I need the damn embedded quicktime dealy to work for video, so I don't want to kill it completely, I just don't want it to play unless I click play. "MIDI" should be destroyed. (yeah, yeah, I know MIDI is a standard for high quality audio blah blah blah - but when played back on normal computers it is just a generator of great ass).
9-19-05 [politics]FEMA has long been the easiest way for politicians to spend federal money to win votes. Declare a disaster area and start handing out the pork - contracts to your supporters, money to voters in tough districts. The budgets are huge and the oversight is minimal, tax payers dollars get spent en masse. This has always been the case, but as with most things, W. is more aggressive and more transparent about his politicking. Florida in 2003/2004 was pumped full of pork to reward the governor and supporters that would help Bush win that state. Now in New Orleans, we have Karl Rove running the show, and the top men remaining at FEMA are all specialists in P.R. who worked on previous Republican campaigns. The priorities are clear.
9-19-05 [film]"Broken Flowers" is a piece of shit. Yes, yes, Bill Murray does have a nice talent for minimalist acting - emoting without doing anything - but that alone can't carry a movie. This movie has nothing else, except a self-conscious artsiness that feels like a college student's early work. This movie is a great litmus test for bad critics - anyone who lauds this movie is the type of critic that just praises what they think they should praise, that goes along with the cool kids.
9-17-05 [poker]God damn poker kicks my ass again and again. I know what to do so well, but in the heat of battle I just don't do it. I suppose it's like anything in life, knowing what to do and actually doing it are very different things. It's my white whale. I'm drawn back to poker over and over again because of it, I want to beat it - it's not about beating the other players (which would be nice) but more about beating my nature to fuck myself.
Today I took some horrendous beats as usual and played one hand collosally wrong. I limped QTs and wound up in the hand against this crazy loose fish guy. The flop was 68J, so I have a gutshot. He checked and I bet. Already this is a gross mistake. Against a tight player maybe it's an okay stab, but against a loose player it's ridiculous. Turn was a blank. He leads out with a tiny bet. Now I'm certain the guy is on a draw, because I've seen him do this before, he's trying to buy a cheap card by betting a tiny amount and hopes I just call. I raise, almost enough to put him all-in. This is a really questionable play. I know the guy is crazy loose so even though I know he's on a draw, he'll probably call anyway. Even if the bet is good, it should have just been an all-in all the way. River is an Ace. I check and he bets the rest of his chips. I have just a queen high, so I fold. That's another mistake. His bet was tiny and he would do that if he missed his draw and my queen high could well be good, and certainly I have the pot odds to call it. He turns over - QT. He was in fact on a draw, calling huge bets with a gut shot. His play was exactly what I pegged him for - a ridiculous loose fish that calls way too much with draws, and I played right into it, betting at him with nothing, and then giving up a big pot that should have been split. This was an insane donkey hand.
Maybe I should take some of the good stuff Paul Phillips takes (Modafinil). (Provigil is so similar to the Simpson's mock Focusin).
9-17-05 [poker]Some thoughts on volume two of Harrington - some of his advice in "Inflection Points" has been bothering me, and I think I've figured out why. First is that he's sort of assuming that his opponents are a mix of loose and tight, as described by his rank of what hand they'll call allin with. Under those assumptions, his advice is reasonable, but where I play just about everyone is as loose as his "loosest" profile, and many are looser. That means you'll win a pot to everyone folding far less than he assumes. I think another part of the reason for this is that he probably has a solid/tight/scary image at his tables, so gets more respect than I do. Another problem is that his analysis mostly involves hands with antes, which really changes the picture a lot. Antes give you a lot more motivation to play the pot because they give you a nice overlay, even if you wind up racing.
One thing that I do think he just gets wrong is that he really discounts position in his short stack moves. He acknowledges that late position gives you better fold equity, but he says that's offset by the blinds moving towards you in early position, making you want to make a move. That's just not right, as demostrated pretty thoroughly by Sklansky in "Tournament Poker". The blind is a pressure, but it really only applies when you're under the gun or perhaps a bit when you're one seat in front of the gun. Before that, you just look at the value of your hand and your position and not worry about the blind advancing. Of course with antes you have to worry about every hand you play, the antes chip away at your stack so you're under pressure to move quickly. In particular, with the players I'm used to, being "loosest" or even looser, if you make a move from early position with a short stack, the chance of folds all the way around is very low. Your all-fold equity is much much better from late position. Just as a quick example, let's say everyone will play 15% of hands (the blinds will play 20% of hands). From the button (two players in blinds) your chance of all fold is about 64%. From under the gun, the chance of all fold is 20%.
Another thing that's tripped me up is that I think Dan is still worrying about things like domination even though he doesn't mention it much. When he suggests moving all-in with KQ under the gun, part of the reason must be that when you do get called, you're usually racing. Only a few hands that would call dominate you, most of the time you're just a 60-40 dog or better, so with the extra quity from the blind and antes, you don't even mind racing that much. The chance of being called by a dominating hand is offset by the all-fold vigorish.
9-16-05 [poker]A few months after starting to play poker, I thought I was so great, so clever. All the "pros" in our home game did. We would make crafty moves like just calling on the flop & turn in order to bluff on the river, drawing to "bluff outs", ridiculous things like that. Now that I'm a little better, I almost never make a fancy "move". I try to play good value poker. I try to bet when it's profitable, either because someone will lay down a better hand or call with a weaker hand.
Volume 2 of Harrington's Opus contains some pretty wacky stuff about short-stack and short-handed play. Some of his reasoning seems really off to me and it's messed up my game. It got in my head, but I don't really understand it or like it, and it messed up my play in the tournament today. I need to just get back on my game until I can grok his seemingly wild & reckless advice.
9-16-05 [life]I've been horribly injured almost the whole time since I became jobless. Right now the worst thing affecting me is this nagging shoulder injury I got almost a month ago, playing catch on the beach with Dan. I tore something in my right shoulder and now I can't do any kind of pec-fly type of motion (such as you do when throwing). It's so annoying, I'm trying to go easy on it, but I just can't stand to be totally innactive for more than a day or two. I haven't been able to really work out hard in months because of the injuries, and I'm definitely losing muscle and gaining fat.
9-16-05 [film]Have a look at the synopsis of the movie Crash (the same text appears on the official website , but it's a fucking Flash monstrosity so I can't link into it). Now, personally, as a post-9/11 web ranter, I don't appreciate irrelevant references to the post-9/11 timeframe in this post 9/11 movie-watching era. I didn't realize when "everything changed" after 9/11 that included morons sticking post-9/11 references in every synposis they can.
9-14-05 [politics]A lot of the senators questioning John Roberts remind me of the really annoying girl in high school or college. The professor or speaker would be saying something really interesting, and she'd raise her hand "oh, oh". Then she'd launch into some long-winded personal story about how she was raised Christian with good values and she didn't believe homosexuality was in-born, and her boyfriend was going to join the army; the prof is being so patient because he can't tell anyone to shut up. And you're sitting there thinking "my god, this is fucking math class, can we get back to our hyperbolic proofs and whatnot".
I've written this before, but I think it should be required of all people seeking high public office that they answer all questions, and reveal everything about their past. Politicians plead for respect for their private lives (not when positive things are being said, only when embarassing things are found) - they should have none, if you seek a high office you surrender the privacy of your past. Everything about your views and your past should be revealed. This should go for justices, the president, senators, etc.. The idea that it would keep good people out of office is nonsense. It would keep liars and thiefs out of office, and people who aren't willing to sacrifice to serve their country. The idea that politicians are mostly elected based on their good looks and their charm and their "good resume" is ridiculous - they should be elected based on their views and their answers to questions.
I don't want a justice with good family life and good values and all that. I want a justice who can do their job and separate their personal life from their work. Someone whose work is NOT influenced by their upbringing, their paper route, their wife.
9-13-05 [politics]Good article in the New York Times magazine last weekend assessing the results of 9/11 up to now. Mainly it was on things I've mentioned in this blog, but it's well summarized and put together. A few good points that he makes which I haven't stressed :
The futility of going after Al Qaeda and its leaders. It looks good on CNN when you capture or kill some honcho, but it does very little to reduce terrorism. The actual terrorists come from the grass roots; maybe you can take out a bit of organization and expertise, but those people will be replaced anyway.
The way Bush et.al. have cast this as a moral war, that the terrorists are irrational, evil, that they hate us and our lifestyle. This dehumanizes them, makes it apolitical. It rules out compromise or political solutions - it turns the equation into simply a war of us against them. This is far from the truth and a huge mistake. To fight well you must be able to put yourself in your enemy's shoes and think what they might do in various situations. If we think of terrorists as these ridiculous charicatures ("freedom haters"), we think of them incorrectly. The truth is that this lie from Bush et.al. serves two purposes. One is to drum up support at home for war. The other is to take away any discussion of the United States' political activities which are creating terrorists all over the world. It pushes the lie that the terrorists will hate us no matter what we do. That may be true for a few of the die-hards who are already filled with hatred for us, but the far more important question is - what is helping them recruit new terrorists all the time? For that, we must look at our own actions - putting armies in the middle east, supporting Israel, Egypt, the Saudi royals, supporting Saddam, etc. etc. These crucial issues have been completely cut out of our political discourse.
9-13-05 [politics/computing]Ignacio sent me this cool movie about "Trusted Computed". There's more information here . I don't really know how true the scare-mongering is, and some of the things they mention are just clearly nonsense scare tactics, but the reality of it is it will take away some of the user's control of their machine. I already despise the movement to license agreements where you just "lease" software or media, not own it, and the application or media creator retains the right to your copy of the application or data. I have a very intimate attachment to my computer, and feel that my control of the bits on my computer is part of my right to privacy. The computer is an electronic extension of my self, and the bits on my machine are an electronic part of my brain. No one else should be able to examine them or prevent me from doing whatever I want to them. The only place where security belong is in the interface between the computer and data which I trust and love ("me") and the rest of the universe, be it the internet or applications which I don't trust ("them").
9-12-05 [sports]Fucking Eagles blew it, losing me a ton of cash. I stand by the pick - I think the Eagles win that game well over 50% of the time (maybe 60% or 70%). The bad luck started with the ridiculous shit before the game where the Eagles lost one of their most important defensive players, Trotter, the MLB which is the quarterback of the defense and key to stopping the run (Atlanta's offense is all rushing). Then the game was just a bunch of bad plays by both sides, but with one big pass play for Atlanta, and lots of key plays missed for Philly. Vick played crappy as ever, as predicted, but so did fucking over-rated Owens who dropped a ton of key passes, and McNabb who fumbled and missed open receivers and was generally crappy. Fuck.
The expulsion before the game was really fucked up. Aside from being an unforseeable random act, it's a bad policy. It means that a team can take out players from their opponent. Just send one of your crappy backup guys to get in a fight with one of their stars. Officials always penalize both guys in a fight because they don't want to get into the situation of judging fault, so you both get expelled.
Let me be clear that I think the Eagles are severely over-rated as well, and they're a key target to bet against in the future. Atlanta against a team with good run defense is a good bet. The Eagles have some of the worst offensive play calling I've ever seen, and they lost key players in the off season; some of their losses that noone talks about are the 2nd and 3rd wide receivers. With Owens as a very over-rated star wideout, they need those good 2nd and 3rd wideouts. The Eagles defense can look good when the blitz is working, but it's very risky and against someone who handles the blitz well, they are very porous.
So, I won one and lost one for the weekend, and I'm down 7% because of the house vig.
9-12-05 [sports]I've got a freeroll bet on "First Touchdown Scorer". I don't usually make those kind of bets, so it's weird to think about who to bet. Ideally you bet a team that doesn't have a lot of options to spread the ball around, that usually scores with one guy (like maybe the Chargers with L.T.), and of course you want to bet when they play against someone really bad so that you know your picked team will have the first score.
9-12-05 [sports]Well, my Colts bet has worked out exactly as I thought. The Colts offense struggled a bit against the Ravens tough D, but the Ravens offense was so bad the spread was huge. The stupid commentators were praising the new Colts defense, but if you actually watched the game with a brain you saw that was nonsense. The Colts D was terrible - there were huge holes in the pass coverage, the run defense couldn't make a simple tackle to save their lives. The only good thing on the Colts D is the front four. The Colts D only looked good because of the pathetic Ravens offense.
The Steelers proved once again that running yardage comes from your offensive line, not your back. Take a good running team and swap out the back and you'll still have a good running team. The Broncos have been showing this for years (thanks to their unethical chop-blocking schemes).
9-12-05 [poker]Common poker wisdom says that when you have a good hand preflop out of position, you must push it preflop because you will be in bad position after the flop. Similarly, a good hand in position, you can just call if you want because you'll have position after the flop so you can make your value then (you should still be raising for value in position with good hands, but with things like medium pairs you don't need to chase people out so much, you can wait and see the flop and what they do).
I think almost the opposite is the right play in the NL game I've been playing. Position is so important that I want to play big pots when I'm in position and small pots when I'm not (unless I flop a monster). For example, with a hand like AK, that's a powerful hand, but if I raise preflop from out of position and get callers, I hate it. Sure if I flop a nice hand that's great, but most of the time I won't flop anything, and I'll still have the best hand and not be able to do anything because of my position. Conversely, AK in position is great
9-11-05 [poker]I'm playing really badly in the later betting rounds. I think my preflop & flop play is pretty solid now, but my turn & river play is ass. There are just so many situations where I suddenly feel lost, or get the "what the fuck is happening here?" feeling. I'm usually playing pretty aggressive preflop & on the flop, so if someone calls me through that, when I get to the turn if I don't have a monster hand I'm scared. Of course many times I am still leading - they might be on a draw, or calling with some junk that would pay me off. I'm becoming a real tight/weak loser on the turn & river - I'll often check here and then if someone bets big or raises big, I'm folding.
9-11-05 [poker/finance/life]Dan says I need to go with my instincts more, to be bold. I can always come up with a million reasons why the opposite side of the argument has value (in a Bill Clinton kind of way, I can see the merits of both sides of every issue). I've passed on great investments over and over because I see the risks and downsides. In Harrington's book he describes a "tight/weak" player as someone who's just looking for a reason to fold. A tight/weak player thinks every Bull market is a bubble waiting to burst. Hmm.. sounds like me. Hecker tells me I'm a severe pessimist. I've never thought of myself that way, but when I look at the behavior profile of a pessimist, it fits.
9-10-05 [sports]Oddsmakers put way too much credence in stats and correlations. For example, they'll cite "teams that lose the superbowl tend to lose their opening game the next year". Okay, maybe that's true, but logically if you think for a second you can see there's zero direct correlation between those things. There may be an indirect correlation, because teams that lose the superbowl tend to get shaken up a bit, lose some key players or staff, and that leads to losing games. It's better to look at those direct logical correlations - if they didn't happen, then this statistical pattern doesn't matter.
9-10-05 [poker]Lost a bunch of money today. I got unlucky in the $100 tournament (AA beat by QT), and then blew cash in the cash game. I paid off in the same way that I make money. It's crucial to know how you make money in poker - what mistake of my opposition allows me to profit? - and then don't make that same mistake. In particular, one of the crucial mistakes is valuing weak hands too much and paying off big hands. For example, if you have just a pair (even if it's an overpair, or top pair top kicker), that's a mediocre hand, but donkeys will pay off huge pots when they have just a pair and you have some nice big monster hand. Today I paid off a set when two pair. Now, two pair is better than one, but it's still not a huge hand and I shouldn't have paid off with it.
Experience in poker doesn't really help you play better (if you're a smart player who can figure out the play from reading books). What it does do are two valuable things. 1) it removes some of the emotional reaction, which is good, it keeps you off tilt; once you've received bad beats from bad players for huge money, it doesn't make you feel so bad each time it happens. 2) it helps you act without thinking too much, which is good because in the pressure of the moment with the timer ticking down, your brain can get all loopy and it's hard to think through the hand right.
9-9-05 [sports]My picks for NFL Week 1 : You could bet the Jets (over KC) and Seattle (over Jacksonville) to Win. Both are picked as underdogs by the oddsmakers, and I think they're wrong, but I have low confidence in both of these since all the teams involved are so inconsistent.
The two bets I like this are actually bets on favorites against the spread (or you could bet them to Win at slightly worse odds). I don't usually like to bet favorites, but I think the spread on both of these is way off. I still would never bet a favorite for a spread over 3 (because even when the better team is dominating, sometimes they'll take a rest in the second half and wind up just barely winning), but these spreads are low enough you could just bet the spread.
1. Indianapolis at Baltimore, spread -3 ; I take Indy on this spread any day; I expect the margin to be more like 14. Indy's only weakness is their defense, and Baltimore is not going to exploit that. Baltimore's offense might even put up negative points (turnovers for Indy scores), they have to hope their defense will score a few.
2. Philadelphia at Atlanta, spread -1.5 ; this one is an absolute lock. Atlanta is one of the most over-rated teams in the NFL, I'd bet against them almost every week. Michael Vick absolutely sucks donkey balls, but gay football idiots get all moist in their panties when they see him scramble around and throw an interception. Yeah, there's lots of bad blood in Philly right now which I don't like, but against Atlanta I expect this margin to be more like 14.
9-9-05 [life]I went to New Orleans for the first time this summer, as a three-day stop on my drive across country seeing the states. I went to college at the University of Texas, where students would often go to New Orleans for the lower drinking age and the wild partying, but I missed out on that, like I missed out on a lot of college fun, much to my dismay. When I went, I found a large American city, with the same fast food and strip malls and megamarts, but within that was a kernel of something else. The old city was full of history and unique culture, ethnic and class groups that stayed unhomogenized with the great American mix. Yes, Bourbon street was invaded by tourists and chain stores and generic entertainment like you might see in Vegas or Branson, but between two stores would be a unique eatery; a restaurant with a back entrance for the help (black) and a back food counter that sold food from the same kitchen (the front restaurant has a velvet rope keeping out the riffraff); the romance of the place. On my trip I was disappointed and sadenned by the horrible sameness of most of America - here was a place that kept its character, and I rejoiced! Of course, part of what made New Orleans unique is what has made this tragedy so sad - New Orleans clung to old cultural divides, class and racial, counting the number of generations you'd been in the city, the amount of each type of blood in your veins, your neighborhood, your ranking in the Mardi Gras Krews, the Creoles and the Cajuns (like Shiites and Sunnis, those on the outside hardly know the difference, but on the inside they consider themselves vastly different).
9-8-05 [finance]How do we make money on Katrina? (I know this is incredibly cynical, but just because we feel sorry for the victims doesn't mean we can't profit; now I'm not advocating going in there and charging people to be rescued, or jacking up the price of water in the South, etc). Obviously the US oil market is hit very hard, more so by the loss of some refineries than anything else. But who profits from this? The major oil companies that lost refineries and production in the gulf don't profit. Oil companies that have nothing to do with that region perhaps do profit, since prices go higher and their production & supply is unaffected. So, why isn't my baby BPT going up? Partly the problem is the price of crude hasn't gone up very much, just the price of gas. I'm not sure how to profit from that, maybe there are independent refining companies that just buy crude & refine it and sell the gas? That would be a company like Valero (VLO) , which did indeed shoot up with Katrina. Looks like it's too late to get in. I'm not really sure what the price of crude will do. Currently the US can't process crude fast enough to meet demand, so that seems to indicate the price of crude won't shoot up, even as the price of gas stays high. Refineries need to be built and repaired, so maybe a buy in refinery production/maintenance companies is good. Engineering/construction companies like Schlumberger or Halliburton could do well, but they're so big they won't be affected strongly; maybe a good buy are these little offshore and engineering specialists - Stolt Offshore and Willbros Group .
9-7-05 [poker]Oh happy day! I just took 7th place in a $41,700 tourney (100+9 entry, 417 players), for $1251. 1st place was about $10,000. I played my solid style the whole time. I didn't get into a single race or big pot until near the end; I just made bets & steals and my stack stayed around average. My first race was also my big luck. I got in with JJ against KK and I won by hitting a jack. There's no way to place so high without being lucky in some way or other; one way to be lucky is to get premium hole cards more than you should (lots of AA). Another way is to hit your junk cards on the flop (eg. when you play T6 and hit a house). Another is when you draw out on someone. I went out in the end with AJs against KK, lucky fucker. Moving up one place at the end was a huge amount of money for each place, would've been nice to move up, but I had to play AJs (from the small blind, the dang big blind had the KK). I probably could have just folded every hand for the next few rounds and made it up another spot or two (worth about a thousand dollars) since everyone was playing very fast and wild.
One very interesting situation came up - the kind of drama over many hands that you never see on TV. This guy, doss19, was on my immediate left, so we had a lot of confrontations since he's one of the blinds I'm attacking. I made several blind steals, mostly with good hands, but never got called, and I know he was getting pissed. Then I made a raise with like K9 and he comes over the top all-in. I fold it, even though I'm thinking I might be good, I know he's attacking me. I also have been watching doss19 show his cards a lot with good hands. He shows JJ, AQ, AQ, QQ. Now, doss19 is an okay player, so he must be showing for a reason. He's showing to make people think he raises with good cards, so that he can steal with junk raises. So I know he's trying to set himself up for steals and he wants to play back at me - he's seen that I can raise and then fold to a reraise. Now the trap is set and I'm waiting for the situation to spring it. I want it to fold around to me when I have good cards, and I'll give him a little raise that looks afraid, and he'll go all-in and I'll call it. So, I start waiting. The next few rounds I get junky cards which I would often steal with, like T8s, and I just fold them because I know doss19 is likely to come if I raise. Then the situation comes. I get AKs and it folds to me in the small blind. The blinds now are 1000/2000 , so I raise to 5000 - a raise that looks like a steal and small enough for me to fold if he comes ott. Indeed, he goes all-in and I know I've got him. I call and he shows A3 - the trap worked perfectly, I'm a 70% favorite to double up. And then the board comes JJ355. The 3 is irrelevant - we split the pot with JJ55A for both of us. Damn, it burns, because my trap is now sprung and I missed the mouse.
The other big hand that didn't go well for me was near the end. I had 33,000 chips and the blinds were 2000/4000. I'm in the cutoff with T7. In this phase lots of people with big stacks have been going allin to steal the blinds. I haven't had good cards in a long time, so I figure I need to steal some blinds from position with mediocre hands. I raise to 10,000. The player on the button, BreeP, sits and thinks for a long time, running the timer and the time bank all the way down. Then she goes all-in. Both blinds fold and it's back to me. Now, I'm pretty sure BreeP is on a weak hand here, maybe ace-junk. For one thing, the long thinking means a weak hand - the timer was so low she was close to being auto-folded, which noone with a monster hand would risk. For another thing, I've seen her go all in with 78 and T3 and hands like that. So, it's possible my T7 is even good, and if not, probably just a 60/40 dog. It's 23,000 more to me, and if I call the pot would be 72,000 , so I only need a 32% chance of winning to call. I certainly have that, so mathematically it's a clear call. My problem is that if I can fold and just make it up one more spot, it's worth $400 in real money, which seems pretty likely to me with how wild everyone is playing. In the game I decided to fold, but I'm pretty sure now that was a mistake. Certainly if I was going to fold there I should have not raised in the first place, I should have just kept folding to creep up a few spots and only played big hands.
Note that this hand presents an interesting lesson - you get much better EV from making a moderate raise and calling an all-in than if you just go all-in. This is because when you raise and call, you're facing much weaker hands on average than when you just go all-in. If I just went all-in there, then my opponents are never bluffing when they call - they always have something good. By making a moderate raise, when they go all-in sometimes they're bluffing, so when I call I have a much better chance of winning the showdown. However, going all-in is much lower variance, since the bluff hands will just fold and you won't have to race against them.
So, should I have called? If I fold there, my EV is about +$200 , because I survive with 23,000 chips which I guess is enough to make it up one spot in the money about 50% of the time. If I call, I have a 60% chance of getting knocked out, but 40% of the time I wind up with 72,000 chips. That gives me a roughly 100% chance of moving up one spot, for +$400 , plus some equity for the higher places. I would have 17% of the chips at that point, but I suck so I'll just say a 10% shot of winning the remaining $15,000 in prizes, for +$1500. So I can either get +$200 by folding, or .4*(1900) = $760 from calling. This is very approximate but clearly the call is right.
In the end, perhaps I played a bit too tight. The blinds were huge, so the only move was all-in, and I just hate making an all-in bluff, or going all-in with a marginal hand not knowing if you're good. It's ironic because I used to be a specialist at those moves (I'm famous for going all-in with K7 several times in our home game). I found myself unable to go back to that crazy mode. I folded A5 in the small blind against an all-in from the button. Probably I should have called that; an all-in from the button almost means random cards at that point, so my ace high is almost certainly good even though I hate my kicker, but I just can't stand to make that call and see him turn over good cards - it's a weakness in my endgame for sure.
I was chatting with Drew throughout the tourney which helped me a lot. It just keeps me focused and keeps from making any donkey moves. Sometimes I'll get "creative" when I play on my own (creative is a synonym for stupid), but by knowing that someone is watching it makes you stay on track. It also keeps my mind from wandering too much; when I play on my own I get too bored and start doing other things, which is bad.
9-5-05 [politics]Clearly flood insurance and such should be private. Home-owners should be required to have comprehensive disaster insurance; appartment owners would cover it for renters and pass on the cost in the price of rent. Before you start shouting nonsense about how this would be a horrible cost that would drive up prices, stop, that's completely wrong. It would drive down the total cost of flood/disaster spending, it would simply be paid a different way; rather than the populace paying for it through federal taxes that go to FEMA, it would be paid semi-directly through insurance and local taxes. Yes, some money would be skimmed in profit, but that's probably less than the federal beaurocracy overhead, and would benefit from competition and consumer choice. It's necessary to require people to carry it, because making it optional (like flood insurance is now) is untenable - people would simply opt out, knowing that the feds would pick up the slack in major disasters. With this system the costs would be properly borne by the areas that are at risk, rather than subsidized by the nation. Furthermore, it would provide more motivation for prevention and safety measures, since they would drive down costs. It would also simply discourage people to live in risky places. The same forces should be at work with cabins in fire-prone mountains, etc.
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