8-30-05 [poker] - 3

8-30-05 [poker]

Preflop strategies. I think that complex information hiding strategies like Abdul's are foolish. They're only necessary if you're playing the same style all the time, and playing against the same people so that the can build up a read on you. Instead, I like to play a few different strategies, and change between them. Each one is pretty deterministic, but you can't tell what I'm doing because you don't know what strategy I'm playing with any particular hand. The strategies are, roughly :

1. Basic solid play. Like Harrington or Sklansky, etc. but without bothering to hide information. eg. raise with high pairs, limp with suited connectors or low pairs, etc. This is how I usually play when I first sit down before I get a read on the table.

2. Always raising. If the table is very tight/weak I'll play an always-raising strategy. In this strategy I never limp, even with the speculative hands like suited connectors. I play this only when people are folding so much preflop or postflop that I always want to be in the lead. Usually I'll only play this for a little while, because people will start playing back, and then I have to go into a trapping mode.

3. Trapping. Against people who are frequently raising my limps, aggressive players, etc. I go into a trapping strategy. In this mode I'll limp with a lot of good hands hoping for a raise so I can come over the top. I'll stop playing speculative hands and go into a high-card mode. I'm expecting I could play a big pot any time I come into the pot. This mode is very tight except when there are good opportunites to steal or limp cheaply.

8-30-05 [poker] - 2

8-30-05 [poker]

One detail I disagree with Harrington about - he advocates varying your bet sizes to "disguise your hands". He's right if you want to be raising slightly different amounts with different hands. For example, with AA your ideal raise is 3XBB preflop, while with TT your ideal raise is 4XBB (it wants less action). If you actually did that, it would give away too much information. So, Harrington says raise between 2X and 4X with AA, raise between 3X and 5X with TT, for example. I disagree. I think you get better value and better disguise by always raising the same amount. I usually settle on 3.5XBB , and I raise that exact amount any time I open a pot for a raise. That provides maximum information hiding, the only thing you're giving up is that you're not raising the exact amount that you want to, but you're not getting that when you vary your raise sizes either.

8-30-05 [poker] - 1

8-30-05 [poker]

I had a horrific day of poker yesterday, playing the $200 No Limit tables. First I had some really bad luck and lost about $400. That happens, that's variance. The bad thing is it put me on tilt. I wanted to make back my loss quickly and started playing badly. That let to about another $400 in losses from donkey plays. The result is I almost wiped out my profit from the last few days. That's a scary thing about those No Limit tables - you can lose money really fast when you're playing badly. When you're playing well, it mostly comes slowly. Even when someone else at the table is giving money away, you only have a 1/5 chance of getting that money (at a 6-way table there are 5 other players who are roughly equally likely to receive the fruits of the donkey's benefaction). That's one nice thing about tournaments - there's a good upside when you play well and get lucky, but if you play badly or get unlucky the downside isn't that bad. One horrible play in a tournament and you lose your entry fee, not a huge deal. One horrible play at a cash table and you can lose your whole stack, rather a big deal.

Playing No Limit is really different than Limit. I've mainly played low limit online and it's given me some bad habits. In low limit, you draw at a lot more hands, because the implied odds are generally very good (everyone is very loose), and you don't have to worry too much about drawing to second best hands. For example, you can draw to low flushes (eg. if you have the 76s, you can draw to the flush). You can draw to flushes when the board is paired (eg. a house is possible), you can draw to straights when a flush is possible. In limit hold'em, in the rare cases where you make your draw and it's second best (eg. someone has the higher flush, someone has the house when you make your straight), you just pay them off, it's no big deal, it's just a few bets, you make up for it in all the cases where they don't have a better hand. In No Limit, it's different. When you get to the river, you might have to play for your whole stack. Suddenly the flush you made with the 76 doesn't look so good. The straight you made with the board paired doesn't look so good. The implied odds aren't so good because you have to be afraid to bet or raise here since you might get reraised for your whole stack.

Basically in No Limit you want to be drawing at the nuts, or very nearly the nuts. Really you almost never want to be drawing. You want to have the best hand and play it aggressively. Reading Harrington is very interesting.

8-30-05 [life] - 1

8-30-05 [life]

I'm leaving for Burning Man tomorrow. I'm feeling like crap still presumably because of the antibiotics I'm still on, but hopefully I'll be recovered just in time to thoroughly fuck myself up.

Some days in life when I'm feeling good I'll try to connect to the rest of humanity. Strike up a conversation with a stranger. Ask for help when I need help, offer help to others. It pretty much always results in despair - disgust at their rudeness and uncharitability and foolishness. For example, when you are visiting someplace you've never been, it's just about pointless to ask a local for advice about where to eat or stay or have fun - they either don't want to tell you or are too stupid to have useful advice. Anyhoo, one of the great things about Burning Man is you feel like you're in this big community of people who are happy to help each other and be nice to each other. You can reach out to people and be rewarded. (there are exceptions of course, mainly in the single male-female interactions which are pretty much as horrible as anywhere else). Anyway, it occurred to me last night that this is just like the hippy days of yore - little communities of people in semi-utopian interaction. The foolish ones get these ideas like "why can't the whole world be like this all the time?". Well, the truth is that these semi-utopian communities only exist when A) the people aren't really doing anything productive, they're subsidized by their parents or their outside lives, and B) everyone's on a bunch of drugs to make them all euphoric and nice to each other. Oh well, it's still nice as a vacation from the real world.


8-29-05 [rant] - 1

8-29-05 [rant]

The software moguls of Atherton, California (on the wild hill near Palo Alto and Woodside) are troubled by a mountain lion that has perhaps been seen on someone's massive property once or twice. They angrily call for the authorities to shoot it. They say "it doesn't belong here. There's only one solution - to take it out". I'll tell you the fucking solution - YOU don't belong there, YOU should be shot and taken out. It's the mountain lion's land, and he'll appreciate it and use it far more than you, with your tennis courts and private golf courses. The Humane Society should go in and put all the humans to sleep and tear down the homes so the mountain lion can live in peace.

8-29-05 [poker] - 2

8-29-05 [poker]

I've been doing great playing the No Limit cash tables, which Drew turned me on to. Today I made a huge mistake which I'll tell you about.

I get AA preflop and raise to 3.5X the BB ($7 with 1/2 blinds). The small blind calls and the big blind folds. The flop comes Jack-high with 3 clubs. The guy checks, I bet 15 (pot size). The guy raises to 30. I figure he could be raising a flush draw or a jack here, so I reraise to 70. He goes all-in, for 221 chips, so it's 151 more to me to call. I think a while and fold.

I think it's a mistake to fold here. Yes, he could have a set, or he could have flopped the flush. In a higher limit game, maybe the fold here is okay, but at this limit, he'll push like that with the top pair jacks. His most likely holding is probably the flush draw. He could also have top pair - he could also have a lower pocket pair, KK, QQ. If he has the flush or the set, it's just bad luck, it happens. I think if you consider the good odds the pot is giving me it's a definite call.

The weakness I have here is that I just can't stand to put big chips in the pot when I might be behind, especially when I'm calling. Sometimes you have to gamble, not in the sense of the draw of cards, but gamble on the range of hands your opponent might have. I also have trouble making good decisions with the damn Party Poker timer beeping away. It gets me all panicked about the time limit and my brain freezes up. Part of the cure for that is experience, so you can make decisions based on memory instead of having to think it through carefully.

Another problem I had with this hand is that the guy just sat down at the table, so I had no read on him. If I knew he was a super-aggressive player, I would have instantly called. I really hate playing hands against people that I haven't built my read on yet.

After more thought, this is an absolute mistake. If I just had the top pair Jacks, I think it's a good solid fold. With AA, it's a clear call, since some of his likely holdings are KK, QQ, and the top pair. I probably lost $300 on this hand, since it's a $400 pot and I win 3/4 of the time or so.

8-29-05 [poker] - 1

8-29-05 [poker]

I just got "Harrington on Hold'em" , both volumes, and am devouring it. It's by far the best book on No Limit Hold'em that I've ever read. Nothing really new of course, but it provides great clarity and focus and gives concrete examples of how an expert plays various situations and why. It's not a good starting book, it gets into advanced play pretty quick, you really need to have read many other books first and played for a while.

If you're an arrogant fuck of a poker player like I am, you assume you're playing better than your opponents. Because of that, there are only hands that you "should have won" and "bad beats". When I play worse cards than my opponents and beat them, it's because of my skill. When they do it, it's because they're lucky piece of shits.


8-27-05 [politics] - 1

8-27-05 [politics]

I just watched Jon Stewart get humiliated by the smart Christopher Hitchens about the righteousness of the Iraq war and whether it's creating terrorists, etc. A reasonable position is very simple.

First, fighting abroad to stop terrorists is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Our fight in Afghanistan was called for, though we are failing horribly at the followup. Taliban-sponsored guerillas still control large portions of the countries, and the warlords have taken up their old roles running the Opium poppy trade which has resurged.

Second, regime change to depose evil states is perfectly reasonable. We should have been in Rwanda for the genocide, we should now be in Sudan, and I'm sure there's a lot of other African crap we should get into. North Korea is a horrible nation that starves millions of its people every year and should be dealt with. Regime change in Iraq is debatable but perhaps was warranted.

What was absolutely rotten and what the President should be impeached for is lying about the case for war, lying to Congress, the UN, and the American people. Suggesting that Iraq had WMD's (and was trying to buy uranium), suggesting any connection to 9/11, suggesting that attacking Iraq would make us safer from terrorism - those are crimes.

Furthermore, the conduct of the war has been reprehensible. Ignoring the army commanders requests for more troups and a better plan to secure the peace, and then firing or silencing any who speak out. Rumsfeld encouraging torture, the policy of extradition of captives to questionable states, the memos about the Geneva convention not applying, etc. And allowing the nation to be divided into the three ethnic factions. Even if you support the war you must be ashamed of these things.

And, the truth is that the Iraq war has created many more terrorists. Yes, it is islamic extremism and poverty and powerlessness which create the brew for terrorism, and those ingredients were already there. But it is violence and occupation which stirs the stew and motivates people en masse to give their lives for terrorism. We have supplied that catalyst in Iraq, as well as creating a massive lawless zone where fighters and materiel from many terrorist states can come together.

As much as Saddam was a bad guy, he controlled his country with an iron fist. Now, stability in Iraq seems far away, and when the Shiites and Sunnis are killing each other over control of the oil in Iraq, the families of the dead will blame the U.S. This is the very reason why the U.S. installed Saddam and dictators like him across the globe - for stability. That was Kissinger's realpolitik - would you rather have a democratic nation that might vote communist, or a ruthless dictator that keeps the restless populace under heel - he'd choose the latter. Of course the new news on this topic is that the Shiites & Kurds might pass a cons

In the mean time of course, we are largely ignoring Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan which are the greatest terrorism fomenters in the world.


8-26-05 [poker] - 1

8-26-05 [poker]

Out 8th and 9th in more 2-table $20 tourneys. Mostly playing well and get some bad luck. One hand I think I played wrong :

Agressive guy limps from the cutoff, I limp on the button with A8, small blind folds, BB checks. Flop comes AK9. BB checks, aggro checks, I bet close to pot size, aggressive guy calls, BB folds. Aggro could have an A or a K, maybe a 9? Probably not a very good Ace or he would have raised. Turn bring another K. Aggro guy bets the min into a large pot. This is weird. I think a while and just call. River is a blank (6). Aggro guy goes all-in. His all-in here is roughly pot size. I think a while and fold, figuring him for the K.

I'm not sure what he would just call with, but the betting action suggests to me that he made a feeler bet on the turn, and then sensing weakness, he made a bluff at the river. I think I probably should have called. If he actually had the K, he probably wouldn't have made that min bet on the turn, he would have just checked it into me since I had bet the flop. In any case I probably should have raised the turn to see what that min bet was. Sometimes people will put out a min bet just to get you to raise them so they can go over the top.

Just made a 4th place in one of those tourneys. I got down to the last 4 with the 2nd biggest stack and then just had a long series of bad luck. I was in almost every time with the worst hand, but it's still very bad luck, though donkeys don't see it. I was stealing more than my share of blinds as usual. The blinds were at 150/300 and I was coming in for 700 to steal. The two short stacks had between 1500 and 3000 in chips the whole time. I was getting lots of good steal, but every so often a short stack would come ott allin. Now, in that case it's something like 800 more to me to call and there's already 1550 in the pot, so I have to call with almost any two cards. I made a bunch of those calls and was a 55/45 underdog each time and lost them all (races like A5 against KT, KT against Q8, etc.). I try to avoid domination when I make those plays, I'm more likely to call with Q8 than with K2, but with those odds I have to call almost any time. I lost about 4 of these in a row and suddenly found myself a short stack. The last 4 places in these things is very random, the blinds are so big you have to play fast and hit some cards.


8-25-05 [poker] - 1

8-25-05 [poker]

Yesterday I twice took 5th place in 2-table tournaments, which is on the bubble just out of the money. I think I played well in both, I had a solid stack with about 8 players left in both cases and had some mild bad luck where hands didnt go my way, wound up on a short stack, and then lost the races I was forced into because of my short stack. There was one key hand in one of them that I may have played badly, but I can't quite figure it out.

Blinds were 75/150 , rather big. I had about 2500 in chips. It folds around to a guy with about 1200 in chips in the cutoff (one off the button), who limps. Button folds and I just call from the small blind with A9. Big blind checks. Now, maybe this is a mistake, I should have just raised right away preflop with the A9. The flop comes T93, I have a pretty solid middle pair. The pot is now 450 chips. I think it's quite possible this guy has QJ so I want to charge the draw and find out where I'm at. I lead out 350 chips. Big blind folds and the limper just calls. Turn brings a blank. Now the pot is 1150 and this guy only has 700 chips left, I have 2000. I figure he could have two over cards, a lower pocket pair, a lot of hands he might call with. He also could have a worse nine. I put him all-in for 700, he quickly calls with KT and I'm beat. I wind up with 1300 chips and suddenly I'm on a low stack.

I really hate this hand. I've always thought people who blow off their chips with middle pair are donkeys, but it's hard to think of playing it any other way. Maybe on the flop I should have thought he's calling an awful lot, he probably has top pair, and just given up on the hand right then. I just hate leading out on the flop and then checking the turn, because it just begs your opponent to take the pot from you with a worse hand. Actually a check-call on the turn might have been a better play, because it's likely to get worse hands to bluff. Even a check-call on the flop might have been in order. Certainly I failed at one of the principles of poker here, which is to show down marginal hands cheaply.

I think the flop play is correct, most of the time he's limped and missed the flop, I want him to fold the flop. He's not a super aggressive player where a check-raise would be appropriate. The turn bet is just wrong. He's not going to fold a hand that beats me, and he wouldn't call with much that I can beat. I have to check the turn, and if he bets I probably have to fold.

8-25-05 [computer rant] - 1

8-25-05 [computer rant]

Windows should know the native resolution and physical dimensions of my monitors. It should then take my font preferences in physical size, not in pixels. My 19" external monitor is 1280x1024 , my 14" laptop is 1400x1050 , the result is that an 11-pixel font is okay on my main screen but tiny on my laptop screen. Fuck, even the Internet Explorer "text size" preference is totally fucked - 1. it doesn't stick, 2. it's too granular, it should be a floating point. I should be able to drag a window across my two rather different displays and have it look pretty close to seamless (except of course the discrete pixel rounding issues, that's fine).


8-24-05 [life] - 3

8-24-05 [life]

I put up some photos on my yahoo photos page from my rather unusual month of August.

My bites are almost done healing, but I have to stay on the antibiotics a while and hence avoid alcohol and sunshine. (in Homer voice) : "but I love alcohol and sunlight! oawww!"

Last week before I went camping I played some basketball with some local guys. I made the mistake of wearing sunglasses at first in the game, and quickly found out why that's a very bad idea. Some guy smashed his hand into my face accidentally which jammed the glasses into my nose flesh; I was instantly bleeding out of the side of my nose down my shirt. It wasn't like a gusher, just a nice stream of blood. A bunch of the guys were nurses so they quickly had a look and prounced it no big deal. After swearing I had never had sex with Pam Anderson, the game resumed. Now I take off my sunglasses to play. After the game I realized I'm much too soft to play basketball (and was too soft for rugby). I'm just really not trying to hurt anyone, and I don't seek contact. I know that some of the people I've played sports with may disagree because I do play hard, but by the standards of your typical street game of basketball, I'm a softy. When you go to the hoop, you have to go hard, and if someone puts their face in the way of your elbow, that's their fault. Especially on defense, there's almost no penalty for fouling in street ball, but I just can't do it. The result is I'm easy to score on (like your sister). My shot continues to just suck ass in games. I've gotten decent in practice, I can hit long series of swish after swish sometimes in practice (and then go cold), but in games I choke from the pressure and toss up lame shots every time.

8-24-05 [life] - 2

8-24-05 [life]

It occurs to me that I'm the Ricky Williams of game development. A talented star in the prime of his career - walks away from success and glory to be a bum. Everyone in their right mind thought Ricky was an idiot (including me) - how could you waste such talent and give up so much money? you can be a bum after you're old and injured and burned out. It remains to be seen if I'll be Ricky Phase 2, which is the coming back with your tail between your legs, a mere shadow of your former abilities.

There are two maintenance guys who the landlord sends to work on my house, usually against my wishes. One is a pot smoking ex-hippy landscaper who hot-boxes in his 82 Datsun pickup between each stroke of his rusted rake. The other is an ex-alcoholic, ex-race-car-driver, ex-child-molester, soon to be inheritor fix-it guy who tightens one screw and beams about his good work.

8-24-05 [life] - 1

8-24-05 [life]

Last night my fever broke. Before I went to bed my fever was nearly up to 102, worse than ever, and I was worried; I thought I'd try to sleep it off, and if it was worse in the morning I'd go back to the damned hospital again. The night was stormy, clammy, the sheets like straight jacket. Suddenly I broke into a drenching sweat, water gushing from every bit of my skin, and I found myself lying in a pool, the sheets and bed all soaked and cold. My fever was gone, down to 98.7 I'd never experienced such a dramatically sudden fever breakage; it was like being a sea captain strapped to the mast in a mighty storm, and then it suddenly clears and the sky is blue. Yarr.

8-24-05 [humor] - 1

8-24-05 [humor]

DVD rental places should put on a sticker that "be kind rewind". I want to see how many people sit there with their DVD player after they watch the movie, rewinding to the beginning.

Ok, I know this is a little late, like 15 years too late or so, but there should totally be a spoof video for "Baby Got Back" that actually is about girls backs. Like arching their backs, closeups on bony girls with their spines and vertebrae all wiggling, doing the yoga cat-back moves. Oh yeah, I love me some back.

8-24-05 [hiking math] - 1

8-24-05 [hiking math]

The gradient path is twist-free (I think it's called "roll" in flight-sim terms). The gradient path is perpendicular to the contour lines. The gradient takes you up the steepest path. If there were any twist, it would mean there would be a steeper path you could take by yawing in the direction of the twist incline.

8-24-05 [gambling] - 1

8-24-05 [gambling]

I'm going to try my hand at some NFL betting again this year. I did it semi pro once long ago, maybe 7 years ago now, when I had a few months of joblessness in Austin. It was a lovely summer, sitting on my porch in Travis Heights, going to the local public pool (old Austin has the greatest network of public parks and pools anywhere), drinking beer and new-found foods from Butt's Central Market.

The great thing about sports betting is that you're not just betting against pros, or the oddsmakers. Rather, you're betting against Vinny in Jersey who thinks the Giants are gonna win it all this year. I wrote about this in great detail long ago, so if you want to learn more you can look there. My strategy for this season : 1) Only bet on win/loss , not on spreads. I hate betting spreads because teams when they're ahead will often slack and let the loser get close, even when the winning team is far better. (betting a spread for an underdog is okay if the win/loss odds are not very favorable). 2) Only bet underdogs or even odds. It's just foolish to risk your money if you're not getting at least 100% pay when you're right, there's too much randomness to bet favorites. The ideal bet is a bet to win on a big underdog. 3) Bet at the last minute possible so you have the latest injury reports, etc. Any advantage to locking in a spread or odds earlier is not nearly as great as the danger of some late news totally ruining your theorizing. 4) Try to only bet teams that I have personally watched play. This is going to be hard because the damned TV coverage is so bad here, I mostly get 9ers games which fucking sucks, but I really don't trust anyone else's measure of a team outside of my own eyes.

Which reminds me - it's such a fucking travesty that I'm getting 100 channels of SHITE pumped into my home every day, when there are thousands of things I'd love to watch that I don't get to see. If this is really what all you dumbed damn Americans want to watch, then fuck you, but if not, then the TV companies are really fucking up by showing things that aren't optimimum for attracting viewers.

8-24-05 [fiction] - 1

8-24-05 [fiction]

I'd like to write a hypertext short story like a Borges Labrynth. A story where the prose itself is Labrynth, where you have to navigate to find your way in and out.

8-24-05 [corporate] - 1

8-24-05 [corporate]

I long ago tired of rants about how managers suck and the bosses are so out of touch with the product and they keep telling me to do stupid things, blah blah blah. Yes, that's all true, now what are you going to do about it? Each person in the company should be doing the best they can to make the situation as good as possible. Everyone has different abilities to do that and different ways of accomplishing it. When the people at the top do something foolish, it's the job of the recipient to tell their superior, and for them to do what they can about it, etc.

It should come as no surprise that management is not into the product. Generally the executives are people who are good at starting & running a company. They're good at talking to VC's , or the press, or the lawyers. That's what you want. In fact, if the executives are people who know a lot about the product, that's generally very bad unless it's a very small or young company. Now, delegation is crucial, obviously you want people who are good at each thing in charge of that thing - you don't want your executives who are good with the money doing the redesign of your product line, but at the same time it's only natural that the people at the top will have input, since in the end it's their show to run.

I've been thinking more generally about why corporate culture sucks. By "sucking" I'm talking about the manipulation, the back-stabbing, the lying, the awkwardness, etc. In the end it just comes down to the fact that people suck. Try getting a group of people together and get them to work together cooperatively on anything. For god's sakes, the Oddworld group could never even get from the office to lunch together in any semi-functional way. The bigger the group and the harder the task, the more disfunctional it gets. Why are managers generally cocks? Well, partly it's because of their own social problems, they want more credit than they deserve for the successes and less for the failures, they want to do less work than they should, and also they see those same problems in their subordinates. What if managers were generally nice guys who trusted the employees to tell the truth - to ask for help when it was needed, to give accurate time estimates, to work as hard as possible, etc. - the employees would exploit it and rip the managers off. The average human acts like a cock, so they get treated like a cock. Part of the difficulty for a manager who's trying to be a nice guy is that some people really are great and could be treated well, while others will exploit every bit of slack you give them, but you can't really treat people too differently because it looks like you're playing favorites, etc.

When a corproate group works well, it's generally not because the structure is so good, because they're using "scrums" or "extreme keywords" or whatever, it's because the human interaction is working for whatever reason - the people are just good trustworthy people, or they are friends, or they just get along well, or they're just good workers. It's much easier for a small group to work well, but once you get into a large group it becomes extremely unlikely that the whole group is functioning well. In that case the best you can do is isolate the good portion together and minimize the negative impact of the remainder, but that doesn't work very well because it means some part of the your operation is smooth, and some other key part suffers, and as I've often pointed out, the quality of your product is usually set by your weakest link.

8-24-05 [computer rant] - 1

8-24-05 [computer rant]

I hate the fucking touchpad on my laptop. As a pointing device, it's sort of okay, but the fucking click feature is moronic. Half the time that I lift my finger and set it down again it sends a click message. The big problem with that is even ONE click that I didn't intend is a HUGE FUCKING DISASTER. There's zero tolerance for miss-clicks in computers. What if my cursor happens to be over the "Delete" button when it mis-clicks? On the "send" when I've just accidentally composed a porno email to my grandmother? On the "call" button in poker when the guy just went allin and I have junk? The thing would be okay if I could just disable it ever ever sending a click.

Well, thanks Thatch. Guess what, this thing can be disabled! Control Panel->Mouse , there should be a tab on there for the touchpad. Usually you can disable "tapping" , and I also discovered a bazillion other fancy features that my touchpad has, like virtual scrolling and tap zones and button remapping, etc. all disabled now!

8-24-05 [book] - 1

8-24-05 [book]

Salman Rushdy's "Fury" is an old man's attempt to write about a time that has passed him by; he writes about hip urban culture like someone who has seen it on TV, never in real life; he writes about the internet revolution like someone who can barely use a computer; most of the book is taken up with long descriptions of the character's own fictional work, which is profoundly uninteresting and a sad tired trick, or with long repetetive tirades on a single topic, like a bad poet tossing out one descriptor after another to describe America.


8-23-05 [tv] - 1

8-23-05 [tv]

Stuart Scott must be destroyed. He's a chocolate-milk spoiled uncle tom from the suburbs, and now his TV persona is this "ghetto" "urban" bullshit, but it's like when your parents try to get "with it" to relate, Stuart is as stiff as Al Gore and he's always trying to do street hand shakes with athletes. Look dope, these athletes actually is from the streets, they're still selling coke and shooting hookers in alleys, a little bad grammar and badly used slang doesn't make you relate. Oh, and get a better glass eye, that thing is fucking ridiculous.

8-23-05 [poker] - 1

8-23-05 [poker]

There's all this glorification in poker of crafty moves, bluffs and steals, reading people, tells, etc. Really the most amazing thing to me, and the most difficult, is when people can just play straight up poker and do it right in hard situations - that is, bet, call, fold when you're ahead/beat. Being able to fold a big hand when you're beat, being able to call down a hand when your King-high is good - that's just straight up value poker, and it's amazing.

I just took a 1st place then a 2nd place in $20 two-table tournaments. I feel like I played super-fantastic in both, though the key remaining weakness in my game was brought painfully to my attention. I've become afraid of getting all-in with anything but very big hands. I just can't stand the idea of getting knocked out when I'm all-in on a bluff, or trying to catch a bluff with a weak pair or something like that. This makes me soft, it means I can be exploited by smart players, and I'm missing value in taking pots with the big bluff. Early in my career I used to get allin on bluffs and calls a lot, partly because we played a rebuy structure so if I blew out early (as I often did) I could get back in and often enough win it on the rebuy. I play much better now, but I need to lose that fear, without getting reckless - it should be a smart, calculated allin.

The thing is, getting allin on a bluff is just like getting allin on a good hand. I would certainly get allin with AA , in which case I'm probably 80% to win. So why not get allin on a bluff when you estimate you win 80% of the time? The percentage plays out differently - with AA the randomness comes in the draw of cards, on the bluff it comes in the hole cards your opponent already has, eg. you've estimated he has cards that he will fold 80% of the time. Of course there are differences and actually you want to be more sure than that with the bluff.

8-23-05 [finance] - 1

8-23-05 [finance]

There are some major things go on in the world markets and I continue to puzzle over how to exploit them to make a big profit.

First of all, oil. There're lots of funny short term things going on with oil supplies - Ecuador's riots, Iraq's instability, refinery outages, etc. Those will go away and take off some of the pressure. Certainly there's no doubt that long term the supply/demand equation for oil will continue to drive prices up, so oil stocks will probably outperform the market overall for quite a while. I've ready many analysts that speak of a potential worldwide depression if oil prices get much higher (say, $80) similar to the recession of the 70's, and that depression would lead to a crash in oil prices. That sounds like nonsense to me. More likely, high prices in oil would lead to a wide-scale slowing in growth as the world adjusts to a less oil-dependent economy. Prices for oil wouldn't crash, demand would level out and go down gradually. Basically if we could come up with an alternative power source that cost X dollars for an equivalent amount of energy to a barrel of oil, that would set the price of oil to be X with only slight variation. Unfortunately, that's all still rather long term, and in the short term there could be a little dip. One possible investment here is in the new energy technology sector. Fuel cell companies' stocks have already skyrocketed, and will probably keep going up (certainly if anything actually ever goes into production they'll go up, but I'm pesimistic). I have more faith in new technologies like better refineries, tar oil extraction, propane/methane conversion, etc.

Second, real estate. In general, real estate is a good investment, not because it outperforms stocks in general (it doesn't) but because the tax breaks in US Law make it ridiculously favorable as an equity investment. We are currently in a big spike. Whether it's a bubble or not, or when exactly it will pop, is unclear. It will correct at some point, markets always do, and home values will come down. The particularly scary thing about this is how much of the US economy is in real estate, and how much of consumer spending is coming from home refinances, etc. A banker friend of mine recently told me about the rise of "NegAm" loans; I was like wtf is negam? "neg am" is short for "negative amortization" which means you have a mortgage where each month you pay off less than the interest, so that some amount of the interest accrues onto the principle each month. That's okay as long as the value of the property is going up faster than the principle accrues, but if the market crashes, it's an absolute disaster. It allows people to buy very expensive property and pay low monthly rates, but if you have to sell, you can take a huge loss. I can't really think of a good way to make money on the market crash, the best I've come up with is just to wait with cash and buy when it's cheap.

Together the oil & real estate markets make me very afraid of the US economy, not in a gloom and doom sense, but just in a maximize my returns over the next 5 years sense. I think offshore investments look good, though places like China will also be very badly hurt if oil gets expensive and the US consumers stop buying.

8-23-05 [film] - 1

8-23-05 [film]

"In The Soup" is a rare movie from 1992 starring Steve Buscemi and Jennifer Beals. Steve is annoying and whiny like always, but fortunately we have the real heart of the movie to prop it up - Seymour Cassel in a wonderful performance as the bon-vivant movie financier (slash mobster with a heart of gold). This movie's quite funny and rarely insulting. Stanley Tucci turns in a very funny bit part doing a hillariously bad French accent. The jokes about how bad art movies are get tiresome after the first one, making fun of the "artiste" and all that.

"Step into Liquid" was really disappointing. I just love watching surfers and waves, and the variety of surfing that's shown in the movie is so cool, I love that it's not just the same old pro-style carving the waves in Hawaii or whatever. Unfortunately, the actual surfing is only like 10% of the movie, and even when they're showing surfing, there's this constant insipid voice over about how all that matters is having fun, and how the surfers all have so much in common, and the respect for the ocean, and the surf lifestyle, and how surfing is pure entertainment and its the pinnacle of civilization, oh my god you fucking new age cunt, I'd rather have some ridiculous kid narrating who's all like "yo" and "totally" and "radical" and such.


8-22-05 [sports] - 1

8-22-05 [sports]

I despise fantasy football. It's huge now, there's a massive industry of information and software to help fantasy players. Lots of them track stats and news all day long. They spend hours updating their drafts. The problem is - it has nothing to do with what teams are best, or even who wins a game, and it's completely against everything that's great about football. Great football is a long slog, dominated by defense, teamwork, linemen, and all that. Fantasy football is about the individual offensive performers, primarily touchdown scorers.

8-22-05 [poker] - 2

8-22-05 [poker]

Televised poker is so fucking rotten, it's infuriating. It's not because poker is uninteresting, the drama of poker is very interesting, and the stories that evolve are great. Televised poker shows none of this. Poker is about people's patterns over time. The drama comes from the thief who's constantly raising with junk and stealing pots; the guy who keeps calling to chase a big hand. Each of these hands may not be that interesting on their own, but it builds up a tension - will the chaser catch his big hand? will the thief get caught stealing? Then it starts evolving, someone starts restealing against the thief, etc.. The TV coverage shows none of this. Most of them just show the big pots, which are not very interesting because they are the hands that play themselves. Furthermore, you don't have the context. Someone might raise and someone might go over the top with A5 - a pretty bad hand, but it makes sense if you knew the raiser was raising every hand for the last 10 hands. The slow rollouts they show for the allins are so infuriating. I now just skip them with TiVo and I can tell who won by whether the short stack is leaving or not. The interview commentary is moronic too. The guy who knocked out almost always says "I didn't get much to play with all night, and then I was short stacked, so I moved in with the KT, and he just happened to have a better hand." Wow, thanks for recapping what we saw; how about some real commentary on your thinking and play, like "I was playing too tight and my stack bled down because they were playing very loose & aggressive".

8-22-05 [poker] - 1

8-22-05 [poker]

I've been playing a lot of poker since I've been bed-ridden the last few days. I'm playing the 2-table sit & go tournaments. One thing I've noticed is that everyone in general has gotten a lot more aggressive over the last year or so. I blame this partly on TV, people watching Phil Ivey and such, the glory of moving all-in, and partly it's because everyone is getting better. The annoying thing for me is that it means I need to play a lot looser and faster in calling. It also means I usually can't be the aggressive table captain, I have to play a trapping game. When everyone is pretty tight, I like to be the frequent raiser, but most of these tourneys have guys who are going allin with things like A6 preflop and things like Ace-high on the flop. Those are very extreme examples, but even the pretty good players will do things like go allin with middle pair on the flop, or a pocket pair below top pair, or just a draw (flush or straight). My game then is to try to hit a big hand, trap them into going allin, and just call and beat them. The problem is the blinds get big so fast that I can't be very selective. With how aggressive they play, I have to call with almost any top pair. In fact, the tournament I took 1st place in recently, a big part of how I won was calling down a super-aggressive player with *bottom* pair several times when he went allin with no pair. Now, that's all well and good, but the problem is the variance on these plays is just horrible. It's very easy for the super-agressive player to just happen to have a hand when you call, or even to hit something on the turn & river after you get allin; when you call with bottom pair it's likely he has over cards, and maybe he had a flush or straight draw as well.

One thing I'm trying to do now is avoid playing hands early in the tournament. I just can't play well until I get a read on the opposition. Frequently I'll lose big pots early where I'm doing something like betting top pair, then the guy moves in on me. I don't have a read, so I have to fold. Playing the same pot later I should have a read if the guy's tight, bluffing, etc. and have a better idea of whether a fold is warranted or not. I like to just watch for a while. This sets you up with a very tight image initially, so once you start playing more it's good to kick into high agressive gear and steal a bunch of pots. Unfortunately, I'm giving up a lot of value doing this. The first few hands of tournaments online are usually where the absolute donkey gives away his whole stack with some nonsense hand, and it's great if you can be the one who takes those chips, but it might involve calling with AT when he was A5 or something, which is hard for me to risk that early without a solid read. Most often it seems the early part of the tournament is when the really bad donkeys give away their stacks to the moderate donkeys. Then comes the slow grind phase where the better players take the chips off the big stack moderate donkeys (who are usually loose/aggresive).

8-22-05 [life] - 1

8-22-05 [life]

So, the spider bites turned out to be infected. I actually went to a doctor and I'm on antibiotics now. I have a fever around 101, and the wound is big and purple and oozing puss and blood all the time. I'm a tad worried about it, there are lots of nasty complications possible, like the infection spreading into the interior of my knee, or tissue death (gangrene) at the center of the wound, etc. The tissue right around the open sore seems to be dying and peeling off, but I don't have any other symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis, so that seems like hypochondria. Anyhoo, if I suddenly die from toxic shock (bacterimia) you'll know why.

In other news, my cell phone is out of commission, so if you're trying to reach me, you have to use my home line. In any case I probably won't get up to answer it since walking is very painful and contra-indicated for treatment.


8-19-05 [life] - 1

8-19-05 [life]

Update on the adventures of Unemployed Game Developer. I just got back from camping in Big Sur (really more in the Ventana Wilderness, which is on the east side of the ridge behind Big Sur) with Dan. It was beautiful. I now have some sort of insane spider bites on my legs; there's a small point of necrosis at the bite (black dead skin) and about a 2 inch radius ring of swollen red inflamed tissue. I lanced one of them out in the wild with my pocket knife and squeezed out a ton of puss and blood (it was a bite right on my knee and it was so swollen I could hardly bend my knee). We went and did a 10 mile hike after that.

We camped at Botcher's Gap which is up the lovely Palo Colorado road, right in a saddle between two peaks, on the edge of a steep cliff. We hiked down to Pico Blanco trail camp, and you pass through the Pico Blanco boy scout camp, which is just amazing, right on the Little Sur River and with incredible faccilities, lots of nice wood bridges over the river, etc.

A little while ago a baby black bear came to my house. I live on the side of a hill next to wild land, but I had no idea there were black bears on this hill. This area used to be plein d'ours back before white men settled it, but now the habit is mostly gone (hence the town of Los Osos, btw). The little bear wandered over while I was potting some basil plants. He came right up to me. I tried to scare him to get him to go back up the hill, but he was very relazed. He sniffed around the house and pawed at the windows a bit. He then wandered down my driveway and I was worried he was going to wander into town, so I called animal control. They came out but couldn't find him. They said if they found him they'd tranquilize him and take him somewhere more wild to roam. He was filthy dirty and very cute, kind of like a cat. I could have easily touched him, but I was worried about messing him up, I don't know if his mother wouldn't take him back if he smell of human on him or anything like that.

Played some poker with Drew on Party using the great Yahoo Messenger - a free voice chat service on the net that's super easy to install and use, especially if you're already registered on Yahoo.


8-16-05 [sports] - 1

8-16-05 [sports]

I can't wait for football season to start. Ah, the lazy days of drinking beer, eating barbecue, and yelling at the TV. Preseason football is disgusting, it's a sham, a mockery, I spit on it. Football is the perfect sport because it's full of excitement and drama, but gives you time to get to the fridge and back between plays. All sports have moments of action and down times, the nice thing about football is you know exactly when to watch and when to look away. Sports like soccer you just have to sort of stare at all the time, you don't know when to pay attention.

The hold-outs in football have become ridiculous. It would be very easy to fix. First of all, when someone enters the draft, they agree to play for whatever team drafts them (none of this Eli Manning nonsense). Also, players who enter the draft must report to camp & play. If the player cannot reach an agreement with the team, they must play for a preset pay scale on a year one contract. That pay scale would be set based on average NFL pay and would be scaled by the position in the draft, so eg. 1st pick might be 1 million a year, 2nd pick $900k, etc. Veterans that are signed normally must honor their contracts, eg. they must play and report to camp if they are able. If a player refuses to honor their contract, they receive no pay for that year AND cannot sign with another team unless the team they are signed with releases them or trades them. This is not "slavery" or any such nonsense that the players union would claim, it's simple reasonable business - when you sign an employment contract to deliver a service, you have to honor it, it should be the rule of the league.

8-16-05 [link] - 1

8-16-05 [link]

Steve "Chase the Dream" Desilets has a blog now. Steve's an ex-oddworlder with some game design wisdom.


8-9-05 [politics] - 1

8-9-05 [politics]

It's a sort of wonderful illustration of the political climate these days that the white house would nominate John Roberts for the supreme court, and then refuse to release (or at least delay and fight) any documents about him. They say "here's the guy we want", but you don't get to know anything about him. In the modern era, a record has become a liability in politics. If you have any public position on issues, it just sets a target for attack. It's far better to be a "public figure" with hardly any record (like G.W. Bush himself was). On the matter of the supreme court, I harken back to an earlier post - is Mr. Roberts really the most qualified constitutional judge our country has to offer? Perhaps we need new laws governing these appointments, since the whole checks & balances system seems to have gone off the rails. Ambassadors should be required to support the institution they are representing us to (that means you, Bolton). Supreme court judge nominees have to have served on a state supreme court for 5 years so they have some experience and a public record.

8-9-05 [poker] - 2

8-9-05 [poker]

In cash games, when I first sit down, I like to come in for a raise with every hand that I play. I really only like to play hands when I can open from late position, and so when I come in it's for a raise every time, with AA, with 9Ts, etc. I'm not playing junk, it's just instead of limping sometimes with things like 9Ts , I raise. There are many great things about this strategy. For one thing, when you first sit down, people won't know you're always raising, so they'll respect the raise and fold a lot. Secondly, it disguises your holdings perfectly, people don't know if you have a good hand or not since you raise with every hand; this has many advantages; for one thing, if you have 9Ts and the flop comes with an A, you can often take it down; for another thing, people will pay you off more when you do have something like AA since they can't know what you raised with; finally, when something like 9Ts does hit, you can win a big pot because people will put you on high cards (even though they should know better). The only problem with this strategy is you're playing your speculative hands for more chips than you'd like. It's okay as long as you're getting the added value from folds, but if people get onto you and stop folding, you have to change gears. THAT is when this strategy really pays off. Once people pick up you, you change gears and start only raising good hands and limping or even folding speculative ones. Now people don't respect your raise, so they pay off your good hands. That's how you really make money in (cash game, limit) poker - getting your best hands paid off (like AA,KK). Also, you've now set up a situation where you can play very straight up simple poker : raise & bet good hands, limp & fold bad hands. You always always want to play straightforward poker, it gives you the best value, the only problem with it is if people can read it too easily, that's bad. By starting out always raising, you set an image, and when you change gears most people won't pick up on it for quite a while. Once they do, you can just change gears again back to always raising, or just go find another table online.

8-9-05 [poker] - 1

8-9-05 [poker]

Ode to the "minimum bet bluff" : Doyle calls it a "Post Oak Bluff" and says he never does it. Of course, that old coot hates Ace-Queen, which is a mighty good hand. There are many great things about bluffing with the minimum bet on the river, into a presumably large pot where you're heavily under-betting it. First, you're risking very few chips to win a big pot, so it only has to work once in a blue moon to be profitable. Second, it lets you steal a lot of pots from bad players that don't understand bet sizes and how often they should call. Third, against experienced players you can often steal pots when they have quite good hands, because they won't believe you're bluffing with such a small bet, they'll think you're trying to milk a big hand with a value bet and think they're ever so clever for folding and saving a few chips. Even better is when a player thinks he's sniffed you out for the bluff and he gives you a re-pop with a bluff of his own, you can go over the top all-in and take a nice big pot (this is obviously a more risky move and you should not try it at home).

8-9-05 [finance] - 1

8-9-05 [finance]

AOL-Time-Warner is paying back investors $3 billion dollars in losses caused by the AOL takeover of then Time Warner. Certainly, that was a poor decision by Time Warner's board to allow that takeover, but what exactly should their apology sound like?

From the Board of Time Warner to all investors who lost money in the AOL takeover,
Yes, we're so sorry this happened. We're sorry that you investors grossly over-valued AOL, pushing up their stock and giving them a large enough market cap to buy us out. We're sorry that you thought all those internet companies were going to be grossly profitable, when in fact you were horribly wrong. We're sorry you got on the internet stock band-wagon without having any clue what the "internet" even was. We're sorry you made a fortune on the stock bubble and now you're crying because you want stocks to just always go up. We're sorry you institutional investors spread lies and propaganda to falsely inflate the internet stocks so you could make more profit on IPO's and trades. Yes, we're so sorry this happened.


8-8-05 [poker] - 1

8-8-05 [poker]

Another interesting situation in poker. The case where someone is going all-in overbetting the pot frequently. Your counterplay is to just fold with bad hands and call with good ones to hopefully bust him. However, exactly how often should you call? I'm going to first consider a very simple toy situation, and just in a cash game. I'm going to assume you both start with the same amount of chips each hand, and when he steals from you when you fold your big blind, that profit just goes into a bank and your chip count is reset. When you win a hand, that profit goes into your bank and the chips are reset. In a tournament, you'd have to worry about your stack getting whittled down because the chips dont reset. I'll try to address that later.

So, here's the toy situation I'll analyze : you are in the big blind for 1 chip every hand. You both have stacks S (really what matters here is the stack to big blind ratio; I make the BB just be 1 chip here so that the stack to big blind ratio is S). He's going all-in with the best F fraction of hands and folding the rest. You can either call or fold. How much should you call to maximize your EV ?

If you fold, your ev is -1. If you call, your chance of winning is P(C) where C is the fraction of hands you're calling with. In that case your ev is 2*S*P(C) - S . Overall, your EV is :

EV = C * [ 2*S*P(C) - S ] + (1-C) * (-1)
EV = C*2*S*P(C) - S*C - 1 + C

The problem is to choose C to maximize this. The tricky thing is that P(C) is complex and nonlinear. We do know C is less than F, you'll be calling with better hands than him.

If we were on the river, it would be easy because the better hand just wins. In that case, P(C) is just

P(C) = (C/F) * .5 + ((F-C)/F) * 1 = (F - .5C) / F = 1 - C/2F

EV = C*2*S*(1 - C/2F) - CS - 1 + C
EV = 2CS - C^2*S/F - CS - 1 + C
	= C*(S+1) - C^2*S/F - 1

maximize : 

S+1 - 2CS/F = 0 
C = F*(S+1)/2S

So, you're calling with a fraction proportional to his, but reduced by (S+1)/2S. If S is large (eg. the stacks are much bigger than the blinds), you're calling with 50% of the hands he calls with. If the stacks are very small, eg. as S goes close to 1, you should call with roughly the same hands he's going all-in with.

But that's wrong because it's preflop and the winning hands aren't that simple. However, it is almost that simple. All we have to look at is the region where you have a hand in the best fraction C and he has a hand in the next best fraction (F-C). In this case, you're almost certainly around 65% to win on average; we'll just call it 2/3 and see what we get. For the cases where you're playing hands in the same region, you might be an 80% favorite or a 30% dog, but it all averages out to 50/50 since you're playing the same range of hands.

P(C) = (C/F) * .5 + ((F-C)/F) * (2/3) = (3C + 4F - 4C)/6F = (4F - C)/6F = 2/3 - C/6F

EV = 2CS*(2/3 - C/6F) - CS - 1 + C
EV = 4/3*CS - C^2*S/3F - CS - 1 + C
	= CS/3 + C - C^2*S/3F - 1
	= C*(S/3+1) - C^2*S/3F - 1

maximize : 

(S/3+1) - 2C*S/3F = 0 
(S/3+1) = 2C*S/3F
3F*(S/3+1)/2S = C
F*(S+3)/2S = C

Very similar to before, but you have to call with more hands. Note that this is wrong when S is very small because we assumed C <= F, which would break down as S gets close to 1.

Now, what are the hands like in practice here? Let's consider a typical scenario. Say S is 10, and F is 1/4 , he's going all-in with the best 1/4 of hands. What should you call with? C = F*13/20 = 16.25% of hands. What are these hands exactly? Well, the best 1/4 of hands is all the hands like K9s or KTo or QJ or better (all pairs, of course, and any ace). The best 16.25% of hands is A5s and A8o or better, and KJ or better.

Let's check our approximation; if you're playing a hand in the good region C and he's playing a hand in the region F-C , you're on something like A5s or better and he's on something like K9 or KT. If you actually had A5, you'd be a 60/40 favorite; if you have a low pair, it's almost 50/50 , but you could also be on KJ,KQ,AK, etc. that dominate him 80/20. So, the 2/3 guess looks good.

In a tournament you have to worry about your stack bleeding down each time you fold. In that case you can't just look at the EV of each hand, because if you wait too long your stack is smaller to double up with. However, Sklansky has shown that this is a very small factor unless you are just about to pay your blind and the blinds are very large compared to your stack. In that case we can look at - what if he's going all-in with 50% of hands, and S is a mere 4 big blinds. In that case C = 7/8 * .5 = 43.7 % of hands. What are these hands? The top 50% of hands starts around J5s, Qxs or Q4o or J8o. The top 43.7% is only a little better, J7s, Q4s, Q7o, J8o and better. Note that this is different than the famous "computer hand" Q7, which is 50/50 against a random hand. We're not talking about win percentage, we're talking about the fraction of hands when ranked in order of best to worst.

8-8-05 [misc] - 1

8-8-05 [misc]

I saw some guys in the park today riding a two wheeled skateboard . Really, it looks pretty gay, but it does seem to capture more of the snowboard-style pivotting motion. Looks like good exercise anyway.

8-8-05 [life] - 1

8-8-05 [life]

Well, I've tried like 100 mattresses and am not much closer to buying one. The ones I really like are combo latex and visco foam. For example, a company called "My Big Sleep" makes a mattress with 6" of Latex with 3.5" of visco-foam on top of it. It's a little firmer and restores faster than pure foam, which I like, and doesn't have any of that nasty feel of springs. It shouldn't clump up over time like pillow-tops. My problem now is I just can't find any information online about this manufacturer or these type of beds in general. What the fuck? I don't want to spend $2000 on something I know nothing about, really. The Consumer Reports information on mattresses is really pathetic, it basically says "everyone is different, go try one". Okay, that's true, but what I need to know is how it's going to hold up and how people like sleeping with it over time!


8-7-05 [poker] - 1

8-7-05 [poker]

Let's consider some poker situations. First of all, a common situation I run into late in the tournament. Basically, you make a raise with junk to steal the blinds, then someone comes over the top all-in. Now, your raise has pot-committed you a bit, but should you call with junk?

Let's consider a very specific situation for concreteness. Suppose it's heads up. You have two low cards, and just imagine you know he has two high cards, so you win about 32% of the time (we'll just say 33.33% , 1/3 of the time). Before the hand started you had A chips and he had B chips. Let's say you had the big stack. Your chance of winning the tournament is roughly A/(A+B). Your goal is to win. Let's say you raised some amount R (R < A and B) and he went over the top. If you call and lose, you'll have (A-B) chips and your chance of winning is now (A-B)/(A+B). So, overall if you call, your chance of winning is :

(1/3) * 1 + (2/3) * (A-B)/(A+B)
((1/3) * (A+B) + (2/3) * (A-B))/(A+B)
(A - B/3)/(A+B)
If you fold your chance of winning is (A-R)/(A+B)

So, we can easily see the correct thing to compare here is B/3 vs. R ; if B/3 is less than R , you have to call because it's worth the price to try to knock him out immediately. Note that this is rather different than a normal pot odds computation. Many people incorrectly think in terms of pot odds in tournaments, but it generally works out exactly the same way, since chance of winning is mostly related to your chip percentage, so winning chips (ala pot odds) give you chance of winning, which is what you really want.

Let's do an example for concreteness. Say the blind is 1000 so you raise to R = 3000 , 3X the BB as usual. He has 10,000 chips and goes all-in. You have 20,000 chips. Should you call? Well, it's actually very close. B/3 is 3,333 , so it's a bit too much, and you should fold.

More generally if you estimate a chance of winning the hand P, you should call if B*(1-2*P) < R . So, for example if you had a hand that was 60/40 (like a middle straddle hand, like JT when he has A3) , you'd compute B*(1-2*P) = B*(.2) = 2,000 and you should call.

8-7-05 [misc] - 1

8-7-05 [misc]

The Ton is a fucked up piece of crap word and measurement. Ironically, that very article which describes the ton has an example at the bottom of the "1/2 ton Jeep". What kind of ton is that? A 2000 lb ton ? Nicely, the English Ton is NOT a cubic yard of water (that would be 27 cubic feet), rather it's 35 cubic feet. Furthermore a "measurement ton" (a volumetric ton) is 40 cubic feet.


8-6-05 [politics] - 1

8-6-05 [politics]

I don't understand why we have such a desire to keep messed up countries in one piece. By "we" I mean the international community, and also the countries themselves. It's happened recently in Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and now it's happening in Iraq. You have these countries where the borders were drawn up by old colonial powers. There are ethnic groups in these countries with ancient tensions, which are exploited by despots for personal power. Obviously, people have lived in their family homes for hundreds of years, and they want to stay, but why would you want to stay in the same town with people who killed your neighbors and family? Why do the Tutsis in Rwanda want the Hutus to come back and live peacefully together? Why don't we just let the Kurds in Iraq and Turkey have their own country? For years the Turks and Saddam have slaughtered Kurds seeking independence, and we have always supported the government.

For that matter, I don't understand our own Civil War at all. Why does the North care so much about the South breaking off? And how can you force someone to stay? I mean, after the Civil War was supposedly over, the Southern states could just still do whatever they wanted and not pay federal taxes; what are you going to do, occupy them like a conqueror? Lock up every civilian? And how is killing 300,000 people and burning down their cities a way of showing you want them in your country?

8-6-05 [poker] - 1

8-6-05 [poker]

Thursday night, I played another home game with the group here. I'm now something like 0 and 7 with this group, so they're quite happy that I keep dumping money in the game. In the last game I was knocked out on two subsequent hands that were very similar hands, but I played them very differently, and I think it's interesting to compare. Both hands were against the big stack of the table, and I'm on a pretty short stack. I really want to double up, because it's all about winning first place.

The first hand I get in cheap from a blind with 78s. I hit bottom pair and the flush draw. This is a big hand, but somehow I have a feeling he hit one of the higher cards and I'm currently behind. It's possible I could just move in on the flop here and win the pot, and if not have a good draw. That's an okay move, but I still have a good amount of chips compared to the pot size, about 10X the pot size at this point, so moving in would be a major overbet. BTW against a higher pair I'm about 57% to win here. I check the flop and he bets the minimum. I'm pretty sure if I raise here he'll call, and I'm behind at the moment, so I just call. The turn misses me, I check and call again, a minimum bet. The river misses me. I check and he minimum bets again. Now, I'm pretty sure I'm beat, but the pot is so big compared to the bet size, I have to call in case he just had overcards the whole way. I call and my read was right, he had a top pair with bad kicker.

The next hand I again get in cheap with K6s against the big stack. I flop a flush draw. I check. If he checks, great, free card, if he bets I plan to move in. Indeed he does bet the minimum and I move in. He thinks a minute and calls with middle pair. I have a flush draw + overcard, I'm about 45% to win, I miss and I'm out of the tournament. The difference here was that because I'd lost the last pot, my stack was small compared to the pot; at the point where I moved in my remaining stack was only about equal to the pot size, so I'm getting good odds from the pot, and if I just call his bet and miss the flush, my stack is too short to have much chance of winning the tourney. It's possible I made a mistake here in that I should have just moved in right away on the flop, it may have made it easier for him to fold.

8-6-05 [cycling] - 1

8-6-05 [cycling]

The SLO-Edna ITT : from Islay Hill park out Orcutt to Tiffany Ranch and back on Broad. I just did it in 49 minutes. It's 14 miles almost exactly with a couple of hills; that's 17 mph. Hopefully I'll beat that next time (a pro would do it almost twice as fast). Of course, a 1 hour ride isn't close to enough to build form, I should be doing 5 hour rides, but it's just too boring. I just can't seem to put in the time to get good at anything - basketball, guitar, poker - it's all too boring if you really do it enough to get good.

How much do you have to cycle to be a pro? Maybe 400 miles a week, 50 weeks a year = 20,000 miles a year , over 5 years = 100,000 miles. Putting miles into your legs is like ticking up a biological odometer towards being able to take the pain of being a pro.


8-4-05 [finance] - 1

8-4-05 [finance]

Since I first started looking at BPT , it's done astronomically well, up 100% in the last year (not even counting the generous dividend). Now, once again confronted with the choice of buying in, I can't help wonder if it's too late? Damn!

8-4-05 [deal] - 1

8-4-05 [deal]

Amazon has a great deal on Calphalon for $199 . Note that like many bastard brands, Calphalon has introduced a line of crap low-grade products with the same brand name. These are nonstick pans that should be avoided like the plague. The good old solid aluminum pans are still available (and cheap at the link above). Calphalon is made by Newell/Rubbermaid Inc ; no dishwasher my ass!


8-3-05 [racist rant] - 1

8-3-05 [racist rant]

Most of the differences between the races can be explained by evolutionary adaptations to the areas where they developed and differentiated. Skin tone is obvious, fat storage for those in the cold areas, athleticism for those who roamed and hunted more, etc. Some of them are more mysterious, for example the Asian slant eyes I can't really justify, maybe there is an evolutionary advantage to them, but I can't see it. Anyhoo, in the shower today, I was thinking about my penis, as I often do. It occured to me that the penis size differences in the races might have been caused by an evolutionary response to different cultures. Smaller penises save valuable body development energy for other purposes, so absent outside pressure penises would naturally be small. That seems to indicate that Asian and other small-penis groups developed more cultural maturity earlier, eg. where mates were chosen based on their ability to provide, and monagamy was practiced; it would indicate that African cultures had more open competition for mates in which women had multiple partners, perhaps subsequently (a large penis head is designed to scoop out the sperm of previous copulation with the pumping motion). Now, this is all very juvenile, but it's interesting to me in general to think of looking at the physical development of our bodies as a record of ancient cultural practices.

8-3-05 [politics] - 1

8-3-05 [politics]

The US Congress has been busy passing rotten legislation that's drawn very little attention. We've got :

An energy bill that does almost nothing to help our oil problems. One thing it does is open up valuable wilderness to exploitation for trivial amounts of oil & coal. Mainly it's full of subsidies for private business. Provides no significant money to realistic ways of reducing energy use (like getting rid of the exemptions for large trucks), but lots of money for pointless endeavors like the ridiculous fuel cells.

A highway bill that's just business as usual - lots of harmful pork projects. Highway money in general is part of a massive government project to destroy public transportation and cities in general.

An extension of the Patriot Act , passed in haste, eroding civil liberties and procedures that we've established over centuries to protect our citizens from the intrusions of government. Note that Patriot does little to address the actual problems that led to the failure to prevent 9/11 or likely terrorism in the future , it mainly establishes rules for harassing citizens and immigrants.

Passed CAFTA, which is a rotten disingenuous followup to NAFTA. Anyone who talks about "free trade" and opening markets is flat out lying. All of the nations in CAFTA were already in the free trade area of the Americas. CAFTA does nothing towards real free trade, such as balancing working conditions and environmental laws between the trading partners, or eliminating the immoral export subsidies for American agribusiness. What CAFTA really does is take down important industry protections in many other countries, and set up the rules, as in NAFTA, which favor business interests over the rights of human beings. CAFTA and NAFTA both establish a higher body wherein democratically enacted laws are trumped by the profits of private business.

Good job, boys.

8-3-05 [local] - 1

8-3-05 [local]

I'd always heard that the old Ten Commandments movie set was still out here in the dunes, mostly buried under sand. I'd never seen a (modern) picture until now - QTVR

8-3-05 [food] - 1

8-3-05 [food]

"Coastal" Cabernet at Trader Joe's is $3.99 and quite good. It's actually Castoro Cellars wine, which is a local Central Coast winery that TJ is selling on it's own label; Castoro bottles go for about $10, so you get a nice discount. It's not orgasmic, but a good balanced drinking wine, not box wine in disguise.

"Northwest" beers at TJ's are actually made by "Hale's Ales" in Seattle, a very good brewery. The Amber is lovely. Our local brewery SLO Brew also makes something for TJ on another label, but I haven't found it yet. SLO Brew recently sold out to some corporate brewery that's going to take the brewing operation national (don't get excited, it's nothing special).

Perugina dark chocolate with almonds has the perfect proportion of chocolate and nuts. Many brands have better chocolate, and Villar's (for example) has better chocolate & nuts, but the ratio is crucial. In the Perugina, the chocolate is the star, and the nuts are a nice highlight to keep you from getting bored.

St. Peter's beers are fantastic, rich, smooth, balanced. They are, however, too expensive, much of which I blame on the bottles, which while being very attractive and pleasantly heavy, are an awful waste of money.

8-3-05 [film] - 1

8-3-05 [film]

"In the Mood for Love" by Kar Wai Wong (or Wong Kar Wai depending on whether you follow western or eastern name precedence ordering, which is a debacle comparable to the Endian mess) is an exquisitely beautiful meditation on the relationship of two people. It's understated and subtle, quiet and sublime. Maggie Cheung's character is ravishing, her clothing, her slowness, her propriety. I love the way the other couple in the movie is never even shown; we hear their voices a few times, but they aren't even characters really, just part of the back-story for the main relationship. I think the movie comes off its wheels at the end with some pretty random changes of locale and pointless bits of story far in the future; it would be stronger if the last 10 minutes was entirely cut. The music is beautiful except for an odd inclusion of some American guy singing in Spanish. [Addendum : Ian says the last 10 minutes make sense if you see the whole trilogy, which starts with "Days of Being Wild" ; we'll see...]

8-3-05 [entertainment] - 1

8-3-05 [entertainment]

"Sewing your wild oats" is a nonsensical phrase. If you're sewing oats, they're not wild, you could say "sew your cultivated oats" or "reap your wild oats". Oats, by the way, seem to be a grass. The oat plant looks just like a wild green grass, with slightly larger seed thingies. The seed kernels are rolled to make "rolled oats" that we buy in the supermarket. Wild oats grow as weeds in wheat fields in terrorities where oats are wont to grow.

The new "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is very disappointing. I miss Gene Wilder and his loony mix of straight, creepy, and comical. Depp is far more of a one-tone performance, though he's one of the high points of the movie. The Buckets are wonderful; I love the Bucket's part of the movie : the set (physical objects!), the costumes, the actors. The Chocolate Factory is revolting. It's entirely composed of really rotten CG. Not only is it obvious fake CG, the shaders look like grade-school Renderman, the designs are uninspired, the animation is jerky and unphysical (the worst moment is Violet's tumbling routine; it's on the rotten par of the Incredible Hulk and Spider Man), and the machines are just ludicrous in a non-interesting way. Elfman generally writes great scores, but his Oompa-Loompa songs are way out of his area of expertise, very disappointing popcorn (I know the lyrics are Dahl's ; I'm talking about the music ; btw the lyrics stink too).

BTW it's a ridiculous failure of marketting/productizing that I can't buy a Wonka Bar right now. It's such an obvious tie-in, and it has lasting value as a brand. Hershey's or someone could sell a Wonka Bar for a premium price and get a lot of nostalgia/pop customers. Actually it seems Nestle is selling a "Wonka Bar" , introduced in 1998. There's a full Wonka Candy web site, complete with a bunch of god-awful branded web games like my compatriots produce.


8-2-05 [spam] - 1

8-2-05 [spam]

Call out Gouranga be happy!!!
Gouranga Gouranga Gouranga ....
That which brings the highest happiness!!

8-2-05 [politics] - 1

8-2-05 [politics]

What if the British treated the I.R.A. the way we treat terrorists now? Certainly there would have been no peace and no disarmament, since we don't negotiate with terrorists. Every Catholic church would have been considered a dangerous fomenter of dissent; Catholic schools would have been shut down, school girls looked upon as future bombers. Cruise missiles would have precision-targetted homes in Northern Ireland and in the Irish Republic, raising outcries from the Republic, but we would have said they were sheltering terrorists. We would have rounded up suspects and taken them to semi-legal prisons and interrogated them. Perhaps we would have invaded, killing tens of thousands of civilians, sending the country into lawless chaos. But no, of course not, the world would never have tolerated that. Why not? Because Ireland is white, and it's in Europe, and Catholicism is respected. On the other hand, Americans and Europeans are still deeply prejudiced against Moslems and Arabs, and generally anyone with brown skin or different culture.

[addendum : Shawn of course correctly points out that the British actually did do many similar things in Ireland, things that should have been reported as attrocities but were glossed over because they're our allies. Don't you wish I had proper comment posting here? nya nya]

8-2-05 [finance] - 1

8-2-05 [finance]

Unemployment shouldn't be proportional to income. It should be a flat amount, maybe 200 a month, with perhaps additional amounts for dependents. I understand the rationale for proportionality - 1) higher income people put more money into the system, so they should get more out, and 2) income is roughly proportional to expenses, since higher income people will have higher rents, etc. However, none of this accounts for the fact that higher income people tend to have more savings to cover problems, and also their higher expenses are largely voluntary, they could live for as little as the low income people.

old rants