Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Parent's Recommendation - Storybook Gardens in London Ontario

If your kids are younger than about 10, I strongly recommend the Storybook Gardens in London Ontario. Think of a McDonald's Playland times 1000 without the bad smells, throw in a really cool rope climbing thing that Dad can enjoy too, and a splash park for a hot summer day, and you can fill most of your day at bargain basement prices.

And hey, it's only a 10 minute drive from civilization, so you don't have to pay amusement park prices for food.


Casino Restaurant Recommendations - Niagara and Wheeling

Niagara Fallsview: Go directly to the 'Famous' restaurant, adjacent to the main casino entrance! Huge-mongous portions of really really good food and reasonable prices. Best Pancakes Ever! Even sweeter when you sit down in and ALMOST order at the worlds' most expensive Denny's restaurant, which I was happy to walk out of before my order was taken. (Second most expensive Denny's may be in San Francisco's JapanTown, but I haven't done an exhaustive survey....)

Wheeling - Skip the casino, and go DIRECTLY to Abbey's restaurant and lounge on Wheeling Island! If you're ever driving I-70 this is a strong, strong recommendation. Reasonably priced, super-friendly, and they even cut their own meat and age their own steaks. It might not be Mortons or Ruth's Chris, but well worth a visit. Their ribs are not the Western or St. Louis style, but rather slow-cooked with lots of Rosemary.

Casino Reviews - Niagara Falls & Wheeling

Niagara Fallsview Canada - They have about 8 hold'em tables in the back, with the lowest possible limit is 6/12 canadian. If I did the math right, you'd need to come in with at least a 300 stack in order to not be the shorty. Why bother? There's also one table that is 5/NL for the truly reckless amongst you.

As an experiment, I took $5 USD and bought nickel tokens (I think the machine exchanged at par, because they know you're only going to piss it all away anyhow, right?), and played the tokens into a nickel one-armed bandit. At the end of play, I ended up with $1.75 Canadian in total payouts for my play. A similar experiment in Vegas in 1997 paid back something like $4.65. Why is competition among casinos better for the fish again?

They don't appear to sponsor hold'em tournaments either, but they have one-armed bandit tournaments and blackjack tourneys. Good for them.

Oh - by signing up for their club, I got into a free lottery for a weekend trip back, which is good because the canadian side looked really cool for the little we saw. There was also another free lottery for smokey robinson tickets and lodging, which would be pretty good for free too. I also got a nice bungee cord for my keychain....

Wheeling WV - No card tables at all. One armed bandits only. Long-ass line for the buffet, which I didn't hang out for.

Their frequent sucker club would have gotten me a free hat and a bungee cord, but I couldn't be bothered.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Simulation - Part 1

I told myself I wouldn't blog about the simulation games. I lied. Move on, dear reader.

Tonight I had an exceptional simulation, in which the best hand I got in the whole 10 player tournament was a j-10 suited, and an occasional paint 1-off (K/J os, A/10 os), and a whole lot of nuffin'. I wasn't even getting any of the Doyle family....

And YET I was able to finish on the bubble (3rd out of 10) by virtue of my betting strategy, which I fine tuned to the occasion. Be afraid, be very afraid!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Nicknames in the social group

I've already explained partially to the social group why I think I deserve my nickname, and plan to prove it in person when I get the chance.

I reserve the right to keep my 'nom de plume' within my blogs and sigs, whether the group calls me 'bug', 'p-wrinkle' or whatever. If I can't have the nick that I want, I will take my punishment graciously and answer to it appropriately, but you're not taking away my FNJ sig, dammit!


'They got a name for the winners of the world, I want a name when I lose.
Drink Scotch Whisky, all night long, and dine behind the wheel....'

Note to Preacher


On-line, I have pretty thick skin, and I acknowledge the yahoo group as a den of name-calling and smart-aleckiness and smart alec guiness-ness of the highest order. We kid because we love, right? .... Right?

Ice and I have a common hobby involving sharp instruments, and though we've only met twice, I consider him a buddy already. He can throw all the stones he likes.

Ice - I've spared you any remarks on the throwback, but I've got a few on reserve! Just push that envelope! Seriously though, 'Bug' isn't nearly as bad as p-wrinkle, and many of my interests are just as arcane as that fellow you describe.

Preacher - Despite taking my damn money all the time, I consider you a buddy and a colleague too. I will extract my revenge, AT THE TABLE.

There's other people I consider good buds already, despite infrequent in-person meetings. Let the verbal daggers fly!


PS: I'll sign my own damn blog any way I want.

Note to Sweet William the Monday Host Wannabe!

Sweet William,

Don't give up yet.

* Get a core group of buddies who will show up regular, then you only have a handful of seats for the yahoo social group.

* Your buddies/co-workers can be 'easy money' if you want. Just give 'em free beer and don't charge 'em too much for the entry fee.

* Did you REALLY read the posts I made on yahoo directed at you? I get the impression that you really didn't, or didn't give them fair consideration.

Glad to know you're near the Bud Plant. That makes you easy to find, and not ridiculously far from me. I may be able to come take your money in July!


Sunday, May 22, 2005


Been playing lots of NLHE with the Fam yesterday and today. Mom just got a Jack-High Straight Flush in Clubs on the river, the best hand I 've seen in person in my short playing experience.

Drunks, Nuts and Family Tourney

Here is a tourney structure for playing no-stakes with your immediate family, or nut-jobs. It keeps the action brisk and silly.

Starting stakes=0 (Wait, will I get expelled for playing a no stakes game?)
Starting Chips =1000 ( 5 blacks =500 @ 100, 5 blues =250 @50, 10 reds=250 @ 25)
Blind pattern
25/50, 50/100, 100/200, 250/500, etc. if necessary (I doubt it)
Blind Time = 7 minutes to escalate

You can see this is a lickety-split, no decision tourney.

Warning - While this is fun, it is detrimental to your poker playing skills. While I won't say 'Don't try this at home', I will say that you should take a moment to get your head back together before you play any real NLHE tourneys, because this tourney encourages you to make stupid plays.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Your Agony Aunt, Volume 2

Dear Agony Aunt,

This tourney I went to was incredible and I had the time of my life! Even though I RSVP'd and showed up on time, and didn't disrespect the hosts in any way, I still have the nagging feeling that I could have been a better guest for such an incredible host.

Euphoric but Puzzled

Dear Euph,

You were indeed almost a model guest, but there was indeed one way to take the zen of guest-ness to the next level. After enough people had been eliminated, there was critical mass for a tournament, and halting motion to get one started. During this action, additional burdens were placed upon the graceful host, who had plenty to do organizing the main function. In particular, there was a glaring faux pas on the part of the Yahoo Social Group.

Not one member of the social group had extra chips in the trunk of their vehicle.

In that circumstance, the host was gracious enough to run around looking for chips without neglecting the main event, and it was eventually worked out, but only after delay-of-game, and more worryingly distraction-of-host.

Being as awesome a host as {***} requires immaculate preparation. In the future, the social group should consider ways they can decrease {***}'s burden. If you were floored by the tourney, consider bringing one or more unopened bicycle decks as a token of goodwill on your next visit.

Nota Bene: To avoid any ethical or housekeeping dilemmas, the poker chips in your trunk are presumably not easily mistaken with the chips used in the main tourney, and they should not appear in the house until critical mass for the mini-tournament has been found. For example, if you have a cheaper brand of chips (RWBs or RWBBs) or chips with a distinctive seal or symbol, there would be no mistaking these with {***}'s chips.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

All's fair in love and war (poker post)

In a prior blog, I mentioned folding the nut trips because I knew there was one more Ace in play, and my kicker sucked? The guy who I folded the big pot to was the one who told me that he was sitting on two pair, but he didn't show me.

But was it the lady or the tiger?

Wouldn't it have been in his better long-term interest to lie to me at that moment and tell me he didn't have the nut hand, even if he actually did? I would be more inclined to call him in the future, so he could play tighter against me, right?

I've lived a very sheltered existence, and it wasn't till I was a grown up that I learned you are supposed to twist the dagger or bayonet around a fair bit in order to insure your enemy's agonized death. This is a skill I still need to work on at the poker table. In a friendly game, I have no qualms with showing the nut hand when I know my opponent has just thrown away a large portion of his chips and folded in that state of uncertainty. I still haven't fully learned that rule about WHEN I have to show my cards at the showdown, and when I have the option of mucking them once I've seen my opponents cards.

Of course, I do not consider a 40 person tourney a friendly game, despite conisdering the participants my friends. If I have the opportunity, here's hoping I twist that dagger well tonight.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Linguistics and Language #1 (vaguely poker-related)

In this neck of the woods, I have been confused with Canucks more than once, and I do have some inherited linguistic tells that put me in that area, although a Canuck would never confuse me as one of them.

The point is, I have to drop the word 'Cool' from my vocabulary for two reasons.

1) I'm no longer 12 years old and idol-worshipping Arthur Fonzarelli.
2) Local players, both drunk and sober, recently mistook my saying 'Cool' with my saying 'Call.'

They would have been doing me a favor if they had insisted I stated a call, because I was later told that I folded the nut trips because I was worried about my kicker, when my worthy opponent allegedly only held two pair. What's the opposite of all-in fever?

Something that rhymes with Biggie Smalls or Snow Balls?

Good, Bien, Yoroshii, Okay, Vale, Eche Boa!, Jol!, and Dude! would all be acceptable substitutes, I hope, if I can train myself to use one of them instead.

Yahoo Groups Ramble # 4 (Off-Topic Time Sensitive)

2) With all the Geeks in our group, are there any Dreamcast nuts out there who know how to fix that 'disk not reading' error that is so common? I now have two that do the same thing. If anybody has a working Dreamcast they'd like to unload cheap, also drop me a line.

3) Are there any auto-mechanically inclined people out there who might be able to give me good advice for selling a '96 Volvo 850 Turbo? It runs like a top, but leaves a puddle of oil whenever it hangs out, even for short durations. Volvo dealerships in two different cities have proved useless, turning the car into an eternal money pit. Maybe I'll call NPR's Car Talk if I can't get good advice from my social group.

4) Does anybody have a decent LP player (Yes, I'm a troglodyte. Who are you again?) that is collecting dust and they want to get rid of cheaply? Drop me a line.

6) Watch the links for this page. I know that there's a lot of flotsam to wade through, so I will eventually build a link that breaks things down by category.

* Poker Playing
* Poker Hostings (and the FathasDay Tourney)
* Yahoo Group Specific Rants
* Other interests of mine, as I blog them by category
* Random Musings

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Downward Chess Spiral (Games, Not Poker)

I play Dark Chess, a nifty variant of chess regularly on itsyourturn.com. They have ladders, where you try to get to be king of the heap. After 7 months of trying, I finally made it to the top of the heap on the 48 hour ladder, and happily stayed there for almost four weeks.

I was eventually leap-frogged, and held the #2 position for a week, and hoped to leap-frog back by quickly winning a game. I checked today, and I'm now in #4 spot. Given the amount of churn among the games, I have no positive expectation of returning to top-dog spot anytime soon.

Pity party anyone?

PS: The spike in blogging is because I'm on hold on the phone. When do you blog?

This might have been funny two weeks ago.... (bad joke alert - I wrote it)

Terri Schiavo is standing at the gates of St. Peters, and there had been a severe back-up in the line due to a 10 day vaction on St.Peter's part, and a slew of natural disasters.

Johnny Cochran, freshly dead, surveys the line and does not relish the idea of spending his first 30 days waiting in heaven's version of the DMV, and so he's looking for a way to get in a little quicker.

He sees Terri and stands in front of her without a word.

Terri gets upset and says 'Hey, what's the big idea?'

And Johnny Responds

"If you spent the last 15 on a tube, go to the back of the queue."

Pain Free for a Moment

Like any other transcendent activity, poker can be a great pain-reliever. For a mere $10, I was pain free for upwards of 3 hours last night. I played crappy pretty much all around, but nothing hurt.

A special hello to N & T. When I was low-stacked, I went all-in, and with A/10 H, and T called with K/9 D. We flipped the cards, and the flop came up A/K/no-paint. I was so excited that I failed to notice the number on the cards, and the rest of the table was enjoying the action as well. When the turn and river failed to produce another K or A, we shook hands, and I proceeded to scoop the pot, having just doubled-up. Good thing it was a friendly game, because that third card on the flop was T's two pair.

I'm such a bonehead....

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Cash Table (When I am King/Host 4)

I'm thinking something like the four color chips will be a quarter, fifty-cent, a dollar and five dollar, and the max buy-in any one player could make would be thirty dollars? Any math genius care to tell me if that's a decent ratio, with a quarter initial ante, and fixed limit betting?

I already mentioned I don't like wild cards. I'd also like to limit the dealers choice to a finite number of games that everybody at the table has played. Of course, I don't want to be a total buzz-kill, so I can be probably talked out of this.

Soda Jerk! Get back to work already!

I've had a spate of what might be described as 'feverish activity', going a little overboard in blogland, the e-mail correspondence, and the yahoo group. I think I insulted a few people along the way, hopefully in a Don Rickles fashion, but I've probably made myself look like a first-class jerk. No? How about a second-class jerk then?

Well, if it's any consolation, I've been gritting my teeth for a few days now from the inguinal hernia repair, as I'm quickly running out of drugs but not running out of pain. If you read my stuff and thought 'this guy deserves a kick in the crotch', justice has been served....

My employer has been very understanding, telling me to come back slowly, when I'm ready. I've taken this at face value, and so I haven't said or done anything I might regret at work in my current state of mind. Today however, I'm back dealing with clients, so I've gotta mind my P's and Q's again.

Yee-Haw, it's a new day!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

TV Poker (Part 3) - The Cry Baby

The commentators all call Phil Hellmuth 'The Crybaby' and mock him mercilessly. Here is my dissent.

When playing poker at a high level, job number one is to keep your emotions in check. The nature of NLHE is designed to do exactly the opposite, to get your blood boiling, if you will. When Phil is knocked out, he releases all of his pent-up emotions on camera without hesitation, presumably because he's full of himself and enjoys the air time he knows that he's going to get. (If he felt he was giving something away to his future opponents, I'm sure he'd go to his room and break eggs there.)

The commentators may gripe, but they love it. He sells commercials....

Preachers' Blind Mathematics

This was posted to the Yahoo Group, I'll share it here unless the author otherwise objects.

Quote - Everything Below by "Preacher"

How to hold a tournament in two and a half hours...

(1) Kick everyone's ass in 150 minutes.
or (here comes the math, so duck)

(2) Take the starting chips times the number of players in the tournament,this is the total pool. Figure how many rounds you want per hour (15 minutes rounds are 4 rounds per hour, 20 minutes = 3, 30 minutes = 2). Define how long you want to play (example 2.5 hours). Starting chips/2^(rounds perhour*hours of play)=big blind. Double blinds every round.

So 1500 chips to start, 30 players, 4 hours, 20 minute rounds = 45,000 inchips, 15 minutes rounds = 3 times 4 hours = 12, 2^12 = 4096. 45,000/4,096 =~11, so call it 10 for easy math. (If 2^12 is confusing, it works like this2^2 = 2*2, 2^3 = 2*2*2 (3 twos), 2^4=2*2*2*2 (4 twos), 2^12 =2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2 (12 twos)...)

  1. 5/10
  2. 10/20
  3. 20/40
  4. 40/80
  5. 80/160
  6. 160/320
  7. 320/640
  8. 640/1280
  9. 1280/2560
  10. 2560/5120
  11. 5120/10240
  12. 10240/20480
You can see that by round 12 (4th hour) the blinds will force you down to heads up. The math always works. It is possible for someone on the short to hang in there for a while and extend it another round or two but it'sunlikely. I recommend rounding the blinds for ease of play (i.e. 10240/20480becomes 10,000/20,000). I also like an ante of 1% of small (no less than 10 at 1000) to move things along.

At last all that math in college comes to good use.

Yahoo Groups Ramble # 3 (New Host & Your Agony Aunt)

New Poker Host Asks, Your Agony Aunt Responds

Ok. Found the Tournment Director program. Now, just need tofigure out small things.

1: Chips. I have poker chips, but they arethe blue, red, white variety. They will work, but have never seen themused at any game I have been to.

YAG: With three colors, you can treat them as {1, 5, 10}, {25, 50, 100} or any combination as you see fit, the smallest to largest I believe is typically White, Red, Blue, buy your mileage may vary. Recommendation - write down the denominations on a 3 x 5 card so your guests have no reason to confuse them.

2: If I need a poker table or if I can use a dining room table temporarly.

YAG: I thought you read the Yahoo Groups FAQ? You either want a clean, slidy surface, such as a butcher block surface, or a clean felt-like surface. you can get a fold out table top cheaply almost anywhere.

Also, if you use paper cards, find some alternate surfaces for players to keep their drinks, or have some fresh decks handy.

3: Advertising. Once I geteverything together, how do I put the information here.

YAG: Go through my blog for one over-the-top method of organizing. Alternatively, announce it with advance notice on the Yahoo Groups message board, and also add it to the Yahoo Groups Calendar. Be strict about your RSVPs, or you may get hosed at the last minute. Also, don't be discouraged if your first few events don't get the head count you need.

Also, you may want to join the Columbus Meetup.com Poker group, and weed through the messages for people who look cool, and send them individual messages. You can also announce your event on meetup, but be aware that Meetup does not screen for assholes.

I got my foot in the door on Meetup.com, so I probably shouldn't be so judgemental, but I went to another person's meetup.com game, where an a**hole (code name: BAS) got into somebody's game. Nobody was hurt, but it was a bummer. Let's hope BAS never finds his way into our hallowed social group.

4: Blinds.What is the best set for blinds? This is just a thing I have neverbeen sure of. I might have this question answered already thanks tothis program thing.

YAG: My distinguished colleague Preacher has a nice blind structure for a 2 hour game for 8 players. Preacher - Would you be kind enough to share this info here with a comment.

TV Poker (Part 2)

For cryin' out loud, can't the commentary ever mention what is the Big Blind at the moment? I'm dying of curiousity how the big kids raise in relation to the BB....

Who the Hell is Frank Nagai Jr. ???

A reader writes:

I'm confused....

Are you {***} or Frank outside of poker? I'm going to guess you're'really' {***}... but it seems everything else is setup as Frank.

I just wanna know what I should be calling you outside of poker hehe

{***} (Ice)


Frank is my karaoke singing, Pokerass-kicking, blog-writing alter-ego.It's kind of an in-joke with exactly one person who gets the joke. It's also a handy way to be anonymous in my blog(s) without being a no-name.

I will happily answer to {***} or Frank at any poker game, just don't call me late for supper or p-wrinkle! Since nobody's called me Frank in public before, it might take me a while to get used to it :-)

Excitable Boy (Warren Zevon Ramble)

I find the practice of expressing a new-found admiration of the recently dead to be the most sickening of hippocracies (sp?). A particular case in point might be Warren Zevon, who died young-ish early due to a cancer of the gizzards, as opposed to having died young from his years of an excessive lifestyle. The tribute album was released fresh for his death, and I have no idea how it sold. I'm sure that the musicians enthusiasm on the album was genuine, but I look with a jaundiced eye at anybody currently expressing a deep fondness for Zevon.

Dear Reader, I hope I haven't insulted you too badly. I'm sure you've admired Warren for many years, and were authentically saddened when he died. And even if you only discovered him at his death, there is much in his body of work that merits enthusiastic admiration, and I cannot begrudge you the discovery of good music wherever it comes from.

Specifically, it is the practice of using the dead for 'social currency' that sickens me. I won't explain the concept here, as I probably need to sharpen my vague definition of what the hell I'm talking about.

Me and Warren? I first discovered and admired him in the late 80's, around the time he cut that album with Flea, George Clinton and members of REM. I sought out his whole catalog, and played it incessantly, as I do with almost any music I deeply enjoy. To be honest and contrarian, when I revisited his works of the late 90's, I found his social commentary to be trite headline-pulling and his melodies uninspired. I still haven't heard his deathbed album, but will get to it when I'm ready. His penultimate album? Despite his mutual admiration with David Letterman, I found the Letterman cameo on 'Hit Somebody' to be a little tacky and prevented me from listening to the album repeatedly, despite some great cuts.

Several of my sibling are even bigger fans than I am....

Hey, did anybody see Warren's cameo in the 90's on an otherwise forgettable HBO sitcom? The anti-hero sees Warren at a party and states that he's a great fan. Warren comes back gruffly:

'You're probably that jerk at my concerts who keeps screaming for Werewolves of London'.

Pity the one-hit wonder.

I will close with only one song quotation, out of hundreds of very quotable lyrics. The song is called "Bill Lee" and is one of my favorites, and it's lyric applies deftly to myself, and anybody else who writes a blog or otherwise runs their mouth.

...And sometimes I say things I shouldn't, like {harmonica finishes the melody before the singer says another hurtful thing}

When I am Host/King Part 3

Suggested itinerary for a 6-8 hour afternoon/evening of fun and poker.

Hour 1 (or 1-2)
Socialization, eating a good meal, and a dealer's choice open table. Other non-poker amusement options available.

Hour 2 -5
Bigger stake (comparative to super satellite) tourney begins at a fixed time (with latecomers blinded out). Hopefully two tables with up to 20 players with a medium-sized stake, at least enough prize money to send the top two home with s**t-eating grins.

For this tourney, the host' screwball tourney rules will apply, unless universally shot down in advance by all potential guests.

Question to the reader - Is there a decent blind structure for a 3 hour tourney for 20 that doesn't turn it into a crap shoot too early?

Dealers' choice table, food and other amusements still available for early outs.

Hour 6
Dealer's choice table is closed. Other amusements discouraged.

Super-satellite tourney begins at a fixed time. It does not need to wait for the conclusion of the main event, as the last players standing at this time should presumably be looking good for the prize money, or willing to be blinded out of the first few hands.

The stakes should be $10 for a table of 10, or $12.50 for a table of eight. The prize would not be a cash prize, but rather a seat at the big $100 table at Frenchie's Fox Hunt in August. We would either transfer the money directly to Frenchie, or somehow put the money in trust in anticipation of that tourney.

There could be two simultaneous super-satellites, or one big one with two winners, depending on the circumstances at the time. Stay tuned.

The super-satellite would have a more conventional set of rules, closer to a WSOP NLHE standard. (No booby prize, no indy 500 pace car round). Preacher's game has a blind structure that can finish out 8 players in 2 hours without prematurely becoming a crap shoot, and I will plan to plagiarize that structure.

Guests not playing the super-satellite would be welcome to stay as polite spectators. At the conclusion of the super-satellite, the party would be officially over, and the hosts will turn into pumpkins.

MENSA Sucks, Part 2 (No real poker talk here)

OK, we've established that I didn't get a bang for my buck at the first two MENSA meetings, and if you can't tell, I'm very enthusiastic about my poker social club.

Recently, I had a quantity of free Orchestra tickets to give away for a local performance of classical music in a very nice venue by a professional group. I made an offer to both of the groups above. There were two enthusiastic responses from the poker social club. There was the sound of crickets from the MENSA group.

I also sent a note to the MENSA chapter looking for poker players on my side of town. Crickets again.

Unfair Conclusion Based on Limited Subjective Evidence- My local MENSA chapter is an insular group who like to think they're smart, but have yet to demonstrate to me that as a group they are either smarter, more interesting or more fun than any random sampling of the population at large. The poker group, on the other hand, is a fun bunch of folks with a multitude of interests, and no shortage of smart people in all walks of life.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Yahoo Groups Ramble # 1 (lots of in-jokes here)

This blog entry is a time-sensitive ramble aimed at my Yahoo Poker Group, and probably not of interest to anyone else.

1,3 and 4 deleted.

2) My hernia buddy is a linguist, too? Good thing I'm already married, because I love this man! ;-) I loved the lengthy pain killer induced ramble on Frenchie's renaming.

Note to Ice - Day five was sheer agony, as I was tapering off the percocets. I absolutely have no desire to get into a pharmaceutical dependence so I'm grinning and bearing the discomfort. Day five could almost be described as 'Getting kicked in the crotch with great force, repeatedly.' I probably brought it on myself by being too active too soon.

On the plus side, it was good practice at keeping a poker face, because I was on best behavior for a dinner guest despite the writhing agony, and I also didn't want my young kids to be worried about me.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Poker Book Review - Thursday Night Poker by Steiner

Got it from the library the other day, and there are two really good chapters towards the back. (I haven't read the rest yet, but the writing style is clean/readable)
Casino Poker

The Casino Poker Chapter talks about how good players from the local club tend to go to Vegas and are shocked at how dismally they get waxed. It explains various reasons why making that transition is so hard, and gives eight pieces of advice on how to not get taken to the cleaners. Probably worthwhile reading for anybody going to Baby Town.

You can get so Smart from watching TV ! (Part 1)

So, Scottie Nguyen's last name is pronounced 'Win'? Cool!

Dissenting POV (non-poker posting)

Earlier today, I slammed the MENSA society in an unfair manner based on my personal experience. I'm sure there are thousands if not millions with a contrary experience, or else the society would not exist.

If you ever wish to express a contrary opinion to what I have posted on my blog, I am amiable to that, as long as you follow these guidelines.

1) If your rebuttal is abusive, it will be deleted sooner or later.
2) If your rebuttal is lengthy, I insist that you post it on your own blog and attach the link.

Yumpin' Yiminee! (event organization)

The prior blog about my proposed invitational tourney took nearly 3 hours* to draft and revise, and send out the invitation. Here's hoping it pays off with a successful event.

One latent characteristic I discovered at my Master's Program was that of Event Organizer. I somehow became the 'Social Coordinator' for my cohort (blame it on the beer and karaoke), and wound up organizing a number of social events for some 20-odd people, such as golf scrambles, karaoke nights, bluffing game and beer, etc. I had never been a 'social butterfly' prior to that point in time. I do not take that responsibility lightly, and when an event organizer has no eye for details and logistics, it is a personal pet peeve.

So, organizers of well-run tourneys, this Bud's for you!

* You may think that I do not have a life. I have a family and a full time job, and any time I devote to my friends and my social club reflects a measure of respect and admiration.

Open Letter to my Poker Social Club (Father's Day Tourney)

The letter below will be sent out later today to selected members of my social club. If you are a regular reader of this blog and feel slighted for not receiving it, please drop me a line.

First Round Draft Invitees - See bottom of blog posting

Dearest Social Club,

To cut to the chase - If you've already got plans for Father's day, you may wish to stop reading now. (Verbosity alert)

Purpose: To determine if there is critical mass for the First Annual G***** Father's Day Invitational Tourney. If critical mass is not achieved by June 1st, the tourney will be scratched from the calendar.

1st GFDIT: This will be a home tourney of either one or two tables, with stakes and start times to be determined once critical mass has been achieved. You may have seen the posting on the RP Yahoo Group, and I attach a copy of that posting at the bottom of this letter.

See my blog for lengthy treatises on how I plan to make a tourney fun, and some screwball 'local color' rules and regulations




If you have read this far, you are ready to take the poll. Note that any responses do not constitute an RSVP, but merely the expression of interest and the wish to remain on this mailing list.

First Annual GFDIT Survey - Please respond at the top of this e-mail with a list of numbers that apply to you.

  1. I have other plans for Father's Day Weekend. Remove me from future mailings (1)
  2. I am interested (but not yet committed) in this tourney, and wish to be part of the stakes/start time discussion (2)
  3. I have a specific budget threshhold after which I choose not to play in a given tourney (if so, what?) (3)
  4. If the prize money is less than a certain amount, I choose not to play in a given tourney (if so, what?) (4)
  5. Side cash games are an extra enticement (5)
  6. I have specific start/stop time parameters because I have Father's Day plans (if so, describe) (6)
  7. If I come, I would bring one or more poker-playing guests (7)
  8. If there were some way to incorporate my family into the festivities, I would be more inclined to come (8)
  9. My typical father's day gift is some time away from my beloved family (9)
  10. Where the hell is (**** village name omitted in blog ****) , anyhow? (10)
  11. Having food at the tourney is an extra enticement (11)
  12. Having the US Open Golf Tourney on in the background is a requirement (12)
  13. Having the US Open Golf Tourney on in the background is a tolerable distraction (13)
  14. For Pete's Sake, will you stop watching the damn golf and play some cards?!? (14)
  15. A Ping Pong Table for early outs is extra enticement (15)
  16. It's 'Table Tennis' and it's an Olympic Sport Dammit ! Stop calling it 'Ping Pong' as if it were a kids' game! (16)
  17. Karaoke available on demand for early-outs is an extra enticement (17)
  18. Karaoke and its practitioners give me the willies. I would boycott any event where karaoke were publicly available (18)
  19. I have written a lengthy treatise on bird migration or whatever my 'special subject' may be. I am attaching a link to my blog for your reading pleasure (19)
  20. Dammit man, can't you ever write less than 1000 words on a topic??? (20)

Thanks for reading this far,
Frank Nagai Jr.

Below: Original Posting to the Yahoo Group
Hi All,

I've been wondering when to host a tourney at my new digs, and with Mother's Day coming up (!), I had a flash of inspiration.

My favorite Fatha's day gift of the past few years has been to be left alone with the final groups of the US Open Golf Tourney on TV. (That and the last day of the Master's are my personal must-see TV!) I think I'd like to expand that gift as follows.

The new place came with a projection TV, so this would be a Fatha'sDay NLHE tourney with the US Open playing in the background. Anybody who couldn't pay attention to the poker would be mocked mercilessly,of course, but we may allow brief pauses for especially dramatic moments.

So, let the kids take you to brunch, or take your own Dad out, play a round of golf in the AM, and then scoot over to G***** to watch the final nine while enjoying your fave non-ambulatory game. The start time and stakes are currently negotiable, until we get a critical mass.

Non-fathers are also welcome. Please express an interest through e-mail, as opposed to on the message board.


Saturday, May 07, 2005

MENSA Sucks, Part 1 (No real poker talk here)

I moved to Buckeye land about 20 months ago, from a region that cannot be named in these here parts. I didn't know a soul, and was starting a telecommute and travel gig, so I wouldn't get to know anybody through working either. I started scratching my head about how I was going to find some regular human interaction in my life, and then I thought 'I'll join MENSA! Smart people can be fun to hang out with!'

For the record, I am MENSA material, a smarty pants. My 17 year old self's ACT (pre recreational drug experimentation) and my 30 something self's GMAT (post recreational drug experimentation) both measure my intelligence in the 98th percentile or better. It was a question of doing the paperwork and showing up for the meetings, which are primarily in central columbus, a 45 minute haul for me. Also for the record, I'm a very competitive games player, and I felt that if I could find an outlet for this, I might partially satisfy my social needs outside of family.

I attended precisely two MENSA meetings.

The first was a social outing where four of us met for Japanese food. The other three were generally very nice people, and we had pleasant conversation, but there wasn't much about the conversation that screamed 'genius.' If you'll permit me to make unfair characterizations, one of the people's conversation screamed 'insecure and off-balance, and a little too self-absorbed*.' The worst part? I'm a japanophile and I know my Japanese food. These guys didn't and it showed in the restaurant selection.

The second was a 'games night' at a regional convention in Columbus. I got there, and it was obvious that mostly everybody already knew everybody. A lot of the old-timers were at a couple of tables playing Euchre, an ironically anti-intellectual pursuit, and shooting the bull as old friends will. There were a few more lively sports, and I talked a handful into playing my favorite game, Perudo, which involves dice and bluffing, almost like dumbed down poker, if you like. After a couple of them played one quick game (10 minutes), I asked what they thought, and one answered in an insulting and unfriendly tone: 'This is a little too random for me.'

OK, fine, you don't like my game? We'll play what you like? We went on to play an excruciatingly dull game that took an endless 100 minutes to finish, but once you had committed to a strategy, there wasn't really weren't any meaningful decisions to make after the first 10 minutes. Ummm, your game sucks much worse, okay?

More later. I'm tired and it's late.

* Hello Pot, this is Ketlle. You're black.

When I am Host/King Part 2

Don't Tap the Glass Policy - When I host a tournament, I will invite people from my poker club, obviously. I may also invite my personal friends who are poker-challenged, if you will. If anyone with obvious skills behaves in a fashion to make the obvious fish feel inadequate, the behavior will be reviewed when considering re-invites. I'm absolutely not saying that a good player shouldn't take a fish's chips (insert pun here), but that the fish should be left with the illusion that they lost due to bad luck, as opposed to a fish maneuver.

I forget which poker book, but at least one of them touched on this idea, about a shark who would bluff out fish, and them show them the 38 os toilet paper crapola that he bluffed them on. The fish would leave in a huff and stop subsidizing the friendly players with skills.

As an extreme example of courtesy to fish (you may or may not choose to emulate), I remember seeing Froggy go all-in on a hand against a fish merely to scare him away from throwing further good money after bad, since Froggy clearly had the nuts.

It's Vegas Baby! Policy - I haven't been to Vegas (not since taking up NLHE at least), but I'd like to have some local preparation if I ever do. I've been told that one should use some sort of 'card protector' to visually signify that one's cards are still in play, and that the dealer has the right to muck them if they are not protected by something, such as a poker chip, a coin, or even a cute little frog. I may institute a similar policy at my games if this is true. If we institute card-playing policies that emulate Poker Meccah, perhaps Vegas will be less intimidating when we get there?

Any Vegas veterans care to comment?

Non-Poker: Plug for an MSCIS Program

I think a lot of the people in the social club I belong to are IT professionals, so I'd like to put in a plug (love letter) for my alma mater for anyone considering a Master's Degree.

Stop reading now if you're looking for poker tidbits.


I did this program between 2001 and 2003, spending two gruelling weeks on campus each year, followed by 5 months of on-line coursework. Two years on, and I'm very happy to have done the program.

* The program was essentially aimed at technology managers and technology strategists. We did not learn specific programming languages or technologies in detail, so the material that we covered does not grow obsolete the way some other Master's in Technology might.

* If you contrast an MSCIS with an MBA, I think this is a much better program for anybody in the high-tech fields. If you want to be a better project manager, or aspire to be a CIO, this is the program for you!

* I really got to know my cohort well, and had a lot of fun with them. When you spend 60 hours over 7 days together in a windowless room, you really want to cut loose by the end of the week, and we had some fine times together. Knowing everybody in person also allowed for more lee-way in the on-line discussions too.

* I learned a few things along the way, and got numerous chances to work on leadership skills that I didn't otherwise have a chance to develop. Frankly speaking, I discovered a big chunk of my personality that was otherwise dormant; I will let you decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

* I really do see a lot of the case study material in real life professional situations. I was involved in a failed project last year, and it was a textbook study in why projects fail. It made it a little easier for me to get past the shame and the pain associated with that.

* On that same theme of life imitating case studies, I recently came up against a client with a super-tight auditing department, and their IT department threatened to shut down our project twice. I think the skills I picked up really helped me to get past the initial bluster and figure out what it was that was really causing the road block. (Their IT dept. never clarified why they had threatened the shutdowns, but after an hour of talking in spirals, curlicues and circles, they finally admitted that their IT Audit Dept. is vicious, and anytime we even look at their computers, we have to document the simplest of actions. For this client, we have to go the extra mile and document the meaningless as well as the significant movements.

*On that same theme, I'm better at second guessing my project manager, and stepping in when leadership is faltering. I try not to leap-frog anybody, but I refuse to let the client hang because there's not forward momentum.

* The cost of the shingle was less than $20 K, including air fare and on-campus expenses. My employer picked up half of that, so it was a bargain basement dollar investment, but I did invest two years of my life, with no regrets there.

* This university does have a good rep in the mid-west, although it may not be as well known on the coasts.

* In the meantime, SMSU is changing it's name to MSU, which probably makes the shingle even more prestigious.

* Anytime I write an official document to the clients, I just love signing off with Name, MSCIS, as it gives so much more value to what I have to say.

Not convinced yet? Drop me a line, or ask me about it the next time you see me.

Frank Nagai Jr. , MSCIS

PS: If I help talk you into it, please mention my name when you apply. I'd really love to get my referral fee of a sharp-looking coffee mug!

Two tourneys - Friday May 6 (blah blah blah)

I'll have to blame the hernia drugs for my losses tonight, because I certainly felt like I brought my A game. Of course, it only takes one error in judgement to get knocked out. I think I was 3rd or 4th knocked out of 8 in first tourney, and then tied for fourth knocked out of 7.

Biggest Mistake - Second tourney, the aggressive in-half-the-pots player who's low stacked goes all in, and I've got a third of my chips in as the big blind. I was hoping nobody else would stay, since they weren't as pot-committed as I was. I stay in w A7 os and Now 2/3 of my stack is committed, and the other guy staying in has maybe 30% of his stack in play. An Ace comes on the flop, and I go all in, and he's got A8 to my A7. I fail to suck out. (The table bully had 55 and did not find a third card.)

IIKTWIKN: I didn't need to go all in at that time, and I would have kept close to 2BB. I Could have maybe bullied a pot or two to cover my blinds for a while till I caught some cards. As it was, I doubt he would have put me all in with A8 os, so I dug my own grave. I figured he was on kq suited or some such promising hand, but if I had knocked through, I would still have taken a decent pot and bought some time.

I've clearly still got all-in fever. There was no reason to go all-in, but I did it anyhow.

Good judgement - In general, I had the good sense to back off from confrontations when I clearly did NOT have the nuts, and most of the time I did not throw good money after bad. When I missed the flop, it didn't take much to push me off the draw. I was laughing on at least one hand when everybody checked through the river and I was able to show a winning 77 pair.

Questionable Judgement - There were five players at the table, and I get a pocket pair of queens. I bully the table with them rather than slow playing. Hmm, that was silly I guess. On the flip side, two early players had already limped in, so I bullied 3.5 BB, rather than taking my chances of somebody pairing their ace or king on the flop. With at least 3 limpers, my queens could have faltered.

Partial Credit: I think I finished pretty well for the cards I was pulling. I saw two, possibly three pairs all night, didn't see Big Slick or even KQ suited all night, and rarely got limping cards that weren't raised out of play. If I had been getting any hands, I might have been dangerous!

I can't remember how I went out in tourney one, but I think I went out honorably. If anybody remembers, drop me a line.

As always, enjoyed the tourney, thanks Preacher ;-)

All in Fever Continued - While that all-in mentioned above was a bad choice, and I vaguely remember matching somebody else's all-in in the first tourney (almost always a bad choice when you don't have the nuts...), other than those two occasions, I did use all-in as an effective weapon.

At least twice in the two tourneys, I went all-in heads up when I clearly had the nuts. I made at least three all-in bets when I had the speculative nuts but was frankly afraid of being sucked out on the turn/river, looking at someone else's clear flush draw or straight draw on the flop. The one other all-in I mildly regret is when I clearly had the nuts against the bully at the table, and I could have check-raised him for more money rather than chasing him out of the pot. Of course, the table bully was also my ride for the evening, so I didn't want to play too cute ;-)

Game Theory: I've been reading through and absorbing Sklansky's Theory of Poker little by little, and have taken the section on Game Theory to heart. However, with a bully at the table last night, Game Theory is no longer appropriate, for the same reason Game Theory no longer fits when you sit down with a calling station.

Well, when I'm playing the computerized opponents in the game I reviewed earlier, I find that I can use game theory very effectively. But then, that's the joy of playing humans, is the gap between theory and practice.

First Tourney: Selective memory finally toned down this morning to tell me how I got knocked out of first tourney. I stayed for a raise flop with A10 suited, and an Ace came up on the flop. Somewhere along the way (the flop?) I was offered an all-in proposition, and I took it. This was a bad idea, because I was facing Big Slick, and sure enough, I lost on the kicker.

IIKTWIKN: Don't stay in on the all-in bet when it's offered and you don't have the nuts. Even if your opponent is bluffing 30% of the time, it's still a losing proposition, especially when it knocks you out of the tourney. If my kicker had paired, I MIGHT have probably considered it.

PS: Hello to DS, who apparently reads my blogs and recognized a table he was at. I hope you don't go to school on me too badly ;-)

Friday, May 06, 2005

When I am King (errr, Host, I mean Host!)

I look forward to hosting some NLHE tourneys this summer, and when I do, I intend for them to be fun (FUN!) experiences. I'll throw my random thoughts here on that subject, and will ask anyone attending my games to sign off on this before they come.

Philosophy: IMPU, Poker is about spirited and healthy competition to be enjoyed by both winners and losers. No player should ever go home at the end of an evening thinking evil thoughts about how they could have better spent that money on the rent, or dinner with their sweetie, etc. All players, winners and losers, should go home thinking that they spent the evening with congenial company, played an honorable game as well as they might hope to, and that the money they spent was no more than they would have spent for any other pleasurable evening out, such as a Night at the Opera, the Whiskey Bar, or wherever.

Having said that, the stakes should be high enough to rule out any players not taking the game seriously. The winner should feel that they were well rewarded for an evening of good playing (and let's face it, a smidgen of luck at least once in the evening.)

Game of Choice: I'm totally in love with the drama of NLHE. If I host a special evening, this is the tourney I'm most likely to have.

Side Table: Any time I have an NLHE tourney, the losers side-game table will be some kind of fixed-limit, low-stakes, dealer's choice open game. IMPU, wild cards are a bad joke, and I will not allow them to come into my home.

Re-Buys: At the main tournament, re-buys will never be allowed, as I feel they change the nature of the tournament too much. There will possibly be one freakish exception in the 'Booby Prize', described below.

At the side games/losers table, there will be a fixed amount of re-buys allowed, so that nobody goes home angry for the reasons mentioned in the philosophy section.

First Tourney Hand of the Evening: In order to start the evening off with a bang, the first round will have a specialized blind structure. Everybody at the table antes the small blind, with the exception of the Big Blind Position, which antes the BB. In the pre-flop bidding, nobody is allowed to bring the total higher than 4XBB, but after the flop, no-limit play officially begins.

After the first hand has concluded, the dealer position WILL shift by one position, as it would have in a normal round.

This is a little bit like the pace car round at the Indy 500. Any questions?

Booby Prize: It sucks to be first eliminated, so for any NLHE tourney with 10 players or more, I will prepare a booby prize for the first player eliminated. It will be in a box that is not to be opened until first player out, and will have minimal cash value, but it will be a desirable object of some sort. It might be a functional household appliance, a book on Poker I have no plans to re-read, a hold-em card protector totem, or whatever I feel like giving away at the time.

The recipient of the booby prize will be the first to look in the box. They can choose to keep the boozy prize, or hold a 'booby prize auction' in exchange for poker chips still in circulation. Any of the players still at the table can bid on the item, with the starting bid being One Big Blind, and going up from there. The auction can take no more than 7 minutes, and those not interested are encouraged to take a bio break or smoke break.

Important Note on the Booby Prize: Even if this 'ersatz rebuy' leads that player back to victory, that player is only eligible for the prize money one position below what they actually earned.

Example 1: Booby Prize Winner (BPW) is the last person standing. BPW is eligible for the second prize money. Second Prize winner gets the top cash prize, Third place winner gets the third cash prize if applicable, and any prizes below that are awarded according to schedule.

Example 2: BPW is the 3rd highest on the cash prize list and there are 3 prizes. BPW switches places with the highest person on-the-bubble, and BPW takes home no cash prize.

Social Drinking: I have no problem at all with social drinking. BYOB.

However: If you have ever been told that you become an a**hole after two drinks, please stop after the first drink. Anybody who looks under the age of 30 will be ID'd before they can drink at my place. Anybody who looks like they maybe shouldn't drive, will be confronted by the host and at least two guests in a friendly but firm manner before they are allowed to leave the premises with a vehicle.

Food: I love to eat well, and I occasionally like to cook, too. I will announce a menu, and will ask interested parties if they prefer to bring a side dish or NA beverage to pass, make a token contribution to the food budget, or abstain from the deeeee - licious food.

Smoking: I'm asthmatic, but tolerant within reason. Cigarrette smoking may be done on the patio/porch, and Cigar (or god-help-us, Clove Tobacco) smoking may be done down in the 'Holler' at a distance of 20 yards from the rest of the humans.

Non-Humans: There is a herd of deer living in our subdivision. If you drive much faster than 30 mph for the last mile, you may take out a clueless fawn. Doing so, apart from damage to your vehicle and the consternation of the deer community, will cause you to be blinded out while you sort out the mess. Any other delay of game from a solid RSVP will also result in blinding out.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Am I an addict?

No, but thank you for asking.

I am however, a compulsive personality, and that's why unlimited re-buys are not a good idea for me. If you are a compulsive type, you may want to stick to tournaments with no rebuys....

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A Few Words on Gambling Addiction

I noticed this link on the front of msn.com today.


If you have five or more of the following, consider yourself a pathological gambling addict and get help:

* Pathological gambling involves five or more of the following:
* Preoccupation with past, present, and future gambling experiences and with ways to obtain money for gambling.
* Need to increase the amount of wagers.
* Repeated unsuccessful efforts to cut back or stop.
* Becoming restless or irritable when trying to cut back or stop.
* Gambling to escape from everyday problems or to relieve feelings of helplessness, anxiety, or depression.
* Trying to recoup immediately after losing money (chasing losses).
* Lying about gambling.
* Committing illegal acts to finance gambling.
* Losing or jeopardizing a personal relationship, job, or career opportunity because of gambling.
* Requesting gifts or loans to pay gambling debts.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Hold'em Software Review - DD Tournament Poker

There are two Hold'em programs at Best Buy. This is the one that has Poker Pinup Annie Duke on the cover. Sadly, there does not appear to be an Annie Duke screen saver, so get over it*! The price was $23 with tax, so it's cheaper than most tournament entry fees, and lets you play lots of practice hands without spending a dime after the initial investment.

The artificial intelligence players in the 10 man tournament at medium level seem easily bullied, but they're not afraid to bluff you right back. There's a really good cheat mode which shows the cards of the winning hand even when there is no showdown. I have a feeling that if one played this enough, and got to the point where one could win the 250 person super-satellite tourney against the highest level artificial intelligence, one would be in pretty good shape to play humans, except for the tells and other human details.

Won my first 10 player tourney against the 'Medium Opponent' on May 2. The AI is good, but you can see mistakes in that the starting requirements and/or bluffing requirements do not modify as there are less and less players at the table, which makes it increasingly easy to bluff the AI to death. I think the best thing about the tool is getting used to thinking about position play in general.

* For any female readers currently rolling their eyes at this point, bear in mind that Annie is also a mother of at least two, depicted as the poker-playing very pregnant Madonna in 'Positively Fourth Street' by McManus, as opposed to some vacuous young thing with high cheekbones. McManus thoroughly bums out the audience by knocking Annie out of the 2000 WSOP. Beauty is as beauty does.