Sunday, December 30, 2007
But I know what my underlying problem is. I lost the joy.
I forgot that I'm not trying to be a pro. I forgot that this game is fun. I forgot that it's a boffo mental exercise played with cards, not my primary income source. I forgot that I used to be a ninja master at using the chat to get the guy who just sucked out on me to laugh comfortably at their lucky play, while I sharpened my knives for the comeback. All too often now I'm just another turkey telling you how bad you played. I'm going to try to catch my focus again, and as a result I'm slowing waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down. I'll be playing tiny buy-in 1 table SNGs to tinker with my game and get the love back. I'll see you in the Blogger Tournies when I feel I'm back to normal.
Anyway, what's better than end-of-year lists . . . besides NOTHING? Here's some lists!
Goat Goals 2008:
1) Write a lot. I have a novel in the works and about 5 other good ideas for them kicking around upstairs. Afraid I can't publish any of the novel here (though you may get some more of my 'warm up' short stories if I think they're worth reading), since I want to actually submit it for publication. But, if you are interested, you may certainly have an excerpt. I am a total junkie for attention when it comes to writing, it's sick. Just hit me in the chat sometime (check the profile) and ask.
2) Read a lot. Reading good writing is the best way to gear up for writing well. My goals are interconnected here. Can't really do #1 without eventually doing #2. It's true in both fiction and going to to the bathroom!
3) Play less. I see that Chad of all people has this one up there, too. We're not alone, either. It looks like any number of folks are thinking about easing back, or even giving up the holy game of poker. I've been reading all the end of year stuff. The UIGA made the games harder. No, the games are easier. Poker is dying. Poker's never been doing better. It's the end. It's just the beginning. I have perhaps a different take on it, though. I'm not phasing it down to a hobby like some, because there's never been a doubt that it's a hobby. What I intend to do is play deliberately. In other words, no just getting on spur of the moment because there is nothing else going on. When I'm getting online to play poker, it will be a planned moment with a specific focus. I don't want it to be the weed that's time-choking my other interests and ventures (see #1 and #2, above). In fact, this is what I'm going to be trying to accomplish outside of poker, as well. To live more deliberately.
And for what it's worth, I don't think that the games have ever been easier than what I've seen this year.
4) Get on Chad's Top Five Worst Blogs List. I figure LOST ought to do the trick. I'll just post 1500 words on the Season 4 premier episode, followed by the most specious possible poker connection. "Kate lied to Jack and it cost her at in inopportune time. Be sure to time your bluffs well!"
5) Win a large-field MTT. This is the dream. I've been so close. Just last night I played one with 2,056 runners and lost a race to go out 16th. I'd warrant I've been final tabled or two-tabled about 10 times in 2007 and it just hasn't fallen right for me, or I've screwed up, or gotten coolered somehow. 2008 is the year? I mean . . . 2008 is the year!
6) Be a force in the inevitable BBT3. I was among the few to profit off of BBT1 and final tabled the freeroll. I really stunk up the joint in BBT2 but weaseled my way into the TOC. I want more for BBT3. I want to be immortalized with Bayne and Jec. We'll be the Doyle Brunsen and Johnny Moss and Amarillo Slim of maladjusted online poker geeks! Together we'll fight crime and pollution. Catch all our adventures on Saturday mornings on ABC!
My Top 10 of 2008
10) The Wheatie Shuts The Doors. Yes, this is still kind of alive as the Monkey Tourney, but it's not really the same. The regularly scheduled blogger tournament that started it all called it quits this summer. I hadn't played in a while, since Tuesdays are rarely a free night in my schedule, but I played the last one. I got sucked out on by an ATC donkey. It was great. Wil final tabled his tournament for the first time (which is hard to believe, but that's what he said), and that was pretty much it for blogger tournaments on PokerStars, the original site of the blogaments. GG again, Wil, hope you show up at the MATH someday.
9) Cashing in FTOPS Event #1. This will always be the 'what if' moment of the year for me. My internet provider took me down for about 35 minutes right at the bubble. When I came out of the dark, I'd had about 1/3 of my stack blinded off. All the same, I'm pleased with this accomplishment and I even have a free hat to honor the occasion.
8) Hoy Gets Beaten By A 12 Year Old. I am still laughing. Does that qualify me for the hater list?
7) I Final Table the 28K. My biggest single cash to date. I took a smallish stack into the bubble and found myself seated next to the chip leader . . . none other than Astin. I caught some great flops and took a bunch of his chips. Three-tabled and shortish I pushed 99 into a stealer and was flat called by 33 on the button. Three in the flop, blank the turn, NINE ON THE RIVER!!! Best resuck ever in a key spot and I got to the final table where I finally went out in fifth. I still remember the name of the guy who decided to call over 50% of his chips with 33 and nearly got paid for it. Even though I prevailed I'm still incredulous.
6) I win a MATH and a Mook. These were awesome. I pretty much just got a huge stack both times and rode them all the way. Hopefully these were only the tip of the iceberg (though blogger tournies are far and away the biggest hole in my bankroll).
5) The_Goat_Speaks Begins Its Reign of Quasi-Literate Terror. I started writing in here on a whim, primarily as a way to keep myself from doing anything dumb to my bankroll following an awful beat deep deep DEEP into the Stars 28K Guarantee. I never expected to have anybody read this stuff, and I certainly didn't expect this level of inclusion and encouragement. It's safe to say that nothing I have done has been as beneficial for either my poker game or my enjoyment of poker. Thanks once again, one and all.
4) Bloggers Cash In Big Events. 2007 wasn't the first year that major tournaments heard from members of the blogging crew, and I doubt it will be the last. The biggest cash was Drawing Dead Jordan's 6th place finish in the Poker News Cup , but we also have to give some love to Fuel, just short of the final table in the BCPC Main Event, and to Hoy and LJ for some nifty WSOP cashes. Good job, folks, now let's make some noise in 2008 for the blonkeys!
3) WDANK Begins Broadcasting. Without doubt, one of the great developments in poker blogging is this experiment in live radio. The blogaments are about community in poker, simple as that. Since around BBT1, Dank and Tragedy have let us hear voices that before existed only in the chatbox, provided us with commentary, laughs, heckling, curses, and occasionally some great music. Usually, though, some dummy has loaded up the queue with ABBA.
2) Jeciimd Wins A Trip To Australia. I just wrote about how awesome this is, but I will reiterate. Sometimes the good guys win. I just hope this leads to the #1 entry in 2008. Go build a stack so big you can't even see the sharks, Dr. J.
Which leads us to . . .
1) The BBT Revolution Changes Blogger Tournies (For the Better). Is there any question? Can there be any doubt? Others may nay-say, but what happened with the advent of the BBT was seismic. One of the major sites is not just allowing us to host our little knitting-circle games with them, they are actively courting us, and with serious swag, to boot. What does this mean? Well, it means that our voice is being heard, collectively speaking. It also means that these little knitting-circle games are starting to matter toward those elusive, pie-in-the-sky poker pipe dreams of ours. I'm not dropping 10K on a major tourney, and I bet Dr. J is in the same boat, but now he's got a crack at the real stuff. It's a different show now. And yes, it can occasionally lead to some bickering or some trash talk, and we all hope that it doesn't get mean-spirited (any more). But you know what? One of the things I've always loved about poker is the boisterious, jostling, camaraderie of it. That definitely includes trash talk.
When it returns, it's going to return bigger. What might it become? That's up to us. It's like Al convinced Full Tilt to just give us a free house, but it's an unfurnished house right now. What are we going to decorate it with? BuddyDank radio is a good start. Chad and Waffles are working on a tracking database, which is like Jerry working with Newman, but still . . . hooray! What else? Let's work on this house of ours.
This could turn into something of great worth, something lasting. It's a very, very good thing.
My Favorite Five Posts 2008
Hey, it's my blog. Let's close out with my picks from 2007.
5) Poker Haiku. This one just rolled out as I played a SNG against the worst players in the whole world.
4) Table Profiles: Rig A. MyRoll. I enjoyed all the profiles, and hope to be inspired someday for more. I think this one holds up best among them.
3) The Fallacy Of Bad Beats. My second post, and one I still refer to when I've just been smacked with the old high hairy beatdown stick.
2) Big Game 2: Hanging With The Big Dogs. This was probably the most fun I had in a blogament that I didn't win, and an epic starting table to boot.
1) Ghosts of Poker. Kind of an obvious pick, but this was just a blast to write.
Happy New Year! See you out there in 2008.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
1) Eleventh place is tenth loser. Julius_Goat played too tight. He is sorry to anybody who wanted to see him win.
3) In his defense, Julius_Goat was pretty card dead. Jacks once, AK twice late and nobody would play. AQ about 3 times near the beginning. 77 once. 88 once as a shorty in late position when one of the few left to act had AA and one of the others had (I think) QQ. Good game me.
4) Jeciimd has figured out how to beat the blogger style,* and is an almost ridiculously deserving representative for us in Australia. Is anybody not happy with this result whose name is not huntsvegas? Jec was near the top of BBT1, famously without much cash for his efforts. Then he completely destroyed in BBT2 including three top threes in the Big Game. He's a good fella, a great pokerite, a yodeler without peer, he can drive to the left, he can drive to the right, he has a great jump shot, and he does all the little things on defense. You can't stop him, you can only hope to contain him. He uses a live rattlesnake for a condom and kills bears in fist-fights. He once made a scale replica of the Great Wall of China out of toothpicks and peanut butter. He taught James Earl Jones how to talk like that. He invented licorice. Ladies and gentlemen, OUR CHAMPION JECIIMD!
Most hearty contratulations to you, jec. Warning: If you don't start posting from the Aussie Millions so that we can live vicariously through you, I will start making up daily posts from you and about you, and posting them here. They will likely be 100% fictitious, and 75% slanderous. If you doubt me, see the above paragraph.
This is my 100th post, and I'm blowing it on jeciimd. If you'd told me I'd get to 100, I'd have scoffed. Yeah, that's right, you heard right. Scoffed.
Thanks for reading.
*Definitions of "the blogger style" may vary in detail, meaning, and use of profanity.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Psst. Guess what?
A poker blogger known to us is going to win a seat to the Aussie Millions tonight. It’s that simple. And that’s a really, really really good thing. Whoever prevails, it’s a great story, it’s a happy ending, and it is a big deal for this little pokery spot of the web. Chad’s posted some odds of success for each of us lucky happy 27, but I’m going to take a different tactic. I’d like to explain for which reasons I’m rooting for each and every one of us.
I’m going to base this on a few factors, including:
a) How likely are they to actually be a factor in the Aussie Millions?
b) How entertaining will their posts from Australia be?
c) Do they have a blog? Do I know about it?
d) How well do I “know” them? Sorry, but face it, this is obviously a factor in rooting for somebody.
e) BBT Regular? This matters. You haunt the BBT tournies in good times and bad? That’s a check in the plus column for you.
f) What is their super power?
g) The elusive ‘X’ factor. This is best described as “would this be epic and/or legendary to send [BLOGGER X] to a major tournament?
So here we go, why I’m rooting for each of you to take it down (and make no mistake, I think any outcome will be brilliant), in reverse order of preference. Other people would make other lists. This is mine.
These are the folks that are little known to me, so there’s not quite the same incentive to root for them. I’ve not played with them much, nor have I read much of them if they are out there, nor have I interacted with them much. This may be my negligence, or their reticence, or just random chance.
Twoblackaces, ricky424, actyper, whiskigrl, -o-LuckTruck-o, huntsvegas , dnasty13. The reason I am rooting for you is that hopefully we’ll get to know an awesome new (to me at least) blogger and poker mind on one of the biggest stages possible. If you wind up in Oz, we’ll all be looking to you. Do us all proud, I’ll be pulling for you.
Aussie Success Factor: Varies, but there is some skill here.
Entertaining Posts?: Unknown to not so much.
Blog: Yes, but mainly no.
Know Them: Little to none. Forgive me if it’s my fault (and for at least some of you , I know it is).
BBT Regular?: During the BBT the answer is ‘yes’ for most. When BBT is off, it’s spotty.
Super Power: Can collectively be viewed from space with the proper equipment.
X Factor: Untested, assume low.
Emptyman, Budohorseman, Jamyhawk, VinNay, PirateLawyer, I’m a talkin’ to you. The reason I’m rooting for you is you’re like me. You’re kind of fringe, you’ve been around a while, you’re a fairly regular presence around the table. You have a blog, so I know you won’t just disappear into the ether of Oz. The only reason I don’t know you (or, more accurately, know ‘of’ you) is definitely my fault. There’s only so many blogs you can read in a day. We’ll know your story. You’ve been waiting for this big break. I hope you get it, dammit. You only get one shot do not let it slip or blow this opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo!
Aussie Success Factor: Varies.
Entertaining Posts?: Fo shizzle, my blizzle.
Blog: Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes!.
Know Them: I’ve been to all your blogs. Occasional comments.
BBT Regular?: Yep.
Super Power: Capable of forming the letters “YMCA” with their bodies.
X Factor: Not sure, assume medium.
The Talented Interlopers
OK, let’s deal with Team LuckoFriends. Loretta and Magician are both very talented players who have been a factor throughout the BBT2. They’ve got game, they’ve got blogs, they’re pretty much new to us, but they are not to be dismissed. I guess the fear is they’d take the seat and run, and the bloggers would be all . . . aw, damn. But I say welcome aboard, and the more the merrier, and I sure wish my path to success didn’t lead through you. You guys earned your way in, and if you find yourself in Australia you certainly deserve it. The reason I am rooting for you guys is simple. I think you have the game to go far, and that would be exciting for all of us to watch. Just stick around after BBT, y’all. I would like to learn from you.
Aussie Success Factor: Fairly high.
Entertaining: No idea, but I have hope.
Blog: Survey says . . . ding! ding! ding! ding!
Know Them: Just their game.
BBT Regular?: BBT2? Yes. We’ll see whassup now that it’s done.
Super Power: These guys can merge together to form Gobboboy.
X Factor: Pretty low, sorry guys. For Lucko the X Factor for you is through the roof, I’m sure.
These Are the Donks I Know*, I Know, These Are The Donks I Know . . .
Kajagugu, AKA The Chimp With The Helmet
Aussie Success Factor: Above Goat -level.
Entertaining: I believe that Kaja will be entertaining. At the very least, hearing stories about how he figures on explaining the trip to his doesn’t-know-about-the-blog wife should be GOLD.
Blog: Sho ‘nuff.
Know Them: Kaja’s a comment-poster all over the place. I am a fan of his body of work.
BBT Regular?: Totally.
Super Power: He can project his memories onto a movie screen.
X Factor: Solid, baby.
jjok, AKA jjok
Aussie Success Factor: About Goat-level.
Entertaining: There is no doubt that jjok will entertain us.
Blog: You had best believe it, bubba.
Know Them: Little story about me and jjok. We went to boarding school together back in middle school. He was always getting into trouble, setting the Oompa Loompas free, rampaging with hot mops down into the girls dormitory . . . oh the stories I could tell you! Eventually he and I got expelled for inventing a time machine and causing an unpopular math teacher’s father to be killed by a gorilla back in 1942. Good times, good times . . .
In more recent news, this is the guy who cracked my Kings by flopping quads with Jacks, beginning my month-long cooler and total lack of domination in BBT2. JJ OK indeed.
BBT Regular?: Semi-regular is my perception.
Super Power: Prehensile tongue.
X Factor: Solid with gusts of magnificent.
Mike_Maloney, AKA The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Aussie Success Factor: Above Goat-level.
Entertaining: I think this is a guy who’ll give us good solid poker analysis and tournament reports.
Blog: Of course, of course, of course.
Know Them: Mike was seated at every one of my starting tables for a stretch of BBT1. I know he’s a tough competitor. Whatever don’t kill him, only make him stronger.
BBT Regular?: Regular as a monk with a lifetime supply of bran.
Super Power: He absorbs all kinetic energy and turns it into bolts of lightning.
X Factor: Not horribly high, but he’d be a good blogger to send.
RecessRampage, AKA The Man With Two Left Knees
Aussie Success Factor: Pretty goshdarned good if my perception doesn’t fail me.
Entertaining: If he isn’t, we know he’s capable of apologizing for it.
Blog: With a new banner and everything.
Know Them: RR is best known for his recurring role as “Wilson’s Hat” in the popular middlebrow sitcom “Home Improvement”
BBT Regular?: The regular-est.
Super Power: Able to juggle anything at all.
X Factor: Moderate. Solid player and X Factor don’t always sip from the same soda.
SnailTrax: AKA Daddy C R U S H E S
Aussie Success Factor: Not a clue what his chances would be.
Entertaining: Yes, and also disturbing.
Blog: His blogs are many, and there are probably some even he doesn’t know about.
Know Them: I have read this crazy dude, just like the rest of you.
BBT Regular?: Random. Also, bacon. Also, sorbet.
Super Power: Super sick.
X Factor: Unparalleled.
cmitch, AKA Cash Donk Extrodinaire
Aussie Success Factor: I like his chances to make some noise.
Entertaining: Absolutely, with fine tournament reports.
Blog: OPoker? O Yes.
Know Them: Not so well personally, but he’s respected and respectable. He’d be a great representative from BBT.
BBT Regular?: Most certainly.
Super Power: Can hold his breath indefinitely.
X Factor: Milage varies, for me about medium.
Cracknaces – AKA Tony Soprano AKA Blog Deleter
Aussie Success Factor: Pretty high if he avoids tilt.
Entertaining: 100% rolled steel lock to be entertaining to read about this guy’s trip to Australia.
Blog: Yes, no, no yes, yes, no, and finally . . . yes.
Know Them: Know his blog, know his stuff, some girly chat during a tournament.
BBT Regular?: He can’t stay away. Just when he thinks he’s out . . . we pull him back IN.
Super Power: Can stir hundreds of pots simultaneously. Also can play infinite simultaneous SNGs.
X Factor: Pretty high, really. I think Chad loose down in Australia with a big stack would be epic.
lucko21 – AKA It’s Not All Luck
Aussie Success Factor: Probably the highest of the group. If I recall, he was a bad beat away from the cash in the 2007 WSOP ME. Experienced live, plenty of game.
Entertaining: Yes, though he’s not a loon, I think he’d give a very solid analysis of the game.
Blog: Yes, he has one. I’ve seen it with my own two eye-bones.
Know Them: Just his game and various comments. Seems like a good guy.
BBT Regular?: Yes, he’s usually in the mix.
Super Power: Able to leap chip stacks with a single bound.
X Factor: Fairly high simply for his very decent chances of going deep.
jeciimd, AKA WHO Just Folds To The Points?
Aussie Success Factor: Better than Goat levels, I think. This guy has pwned throughout BBT2 and was a leaderboard magnet in BBT1. Solid playa.
Entertaining: If he posts more than 5 times a year (hint hint), then sure dinkum, mate.
Blog: Survey says . . . ding! ding! ding! ding!
Know Them: Yeah, Jec is a familiar and friendly face at the tables. Not only that, but at the Donkament recently he complimented me so thoroughly I think I am still embarrassed. Compliment a writer on their writing and there is no end to it. You all have jec to blame for future posts.
BBT Regular?: All day, every day.
Super Power: When exposed to the Big Game, he is invulnerable to suckouts.
X Factor: Medium strong.
Fuel55: AKA I Don’t ALWAYS Have Presto, You Know.
Success Factor: Well, here’s a guy who just came a race away from the final table of a 10K buyin tourney. You tell me. He’ll go deep or he’ll go home quickly. It’s the Fuel way!
Entertaining: Yes, I think Fuel will lay it all out of the line, especially if he finds himself alive on Day 3 and beyond.
Blog: Creativity breeds hand histories. You gotta love his stuff.
Know Them: Fuel is I think the very first person to communicate with me outside of the software chat box. I sucked out on him calling with a flush draw and overs. We had words (they were pleasant ones). Fuel’s a genuine fake internet friend, and like me he couldn’t get in this thing for poker play, so I’d love to see this get heads up, him vs. me . . . provided I have a 20 – 1 chip lead.
BBT Regular?: You know it, he’s in it, he’s just like, he’s just like, a mini mall, hey hey.
Super Power: Is Canadian.
X Factor: Over under on variants of ‘fawk’ for the week set at 700 billion.
Astin: AKA I Can’t Believe I Ate The Whole Thing While Being Dealt Pocket Pairs!
Success Factor: Are you kidding? This is the Luckbox of 2007 I’m told. He’s not just a favorite to win tonight, he’s a 2:1 favorite to win the whole Aussie Millions, be elected to Australia’s Parliament, parlay that into a post as UN Secretary General, win the Nobel Peace Prize, marry Jessica Alba, and have all his fingernail clippings turn to gold! Viva la horseshoe!
In all seriousness, he’s a good player. And by ‘good’, I mean ‘not as much of a donkey as me.’
Entertaining: I think Astin would entertain each and every one of us. You know what I mean.
Know Them: Astin’s one of the first dudes to be a regular reader on TGS. Very encouraging voice early on, he’s part of the reason I’m still around and kicking in this crazy neck of the woods.
BBT Regular?: Hardly misses a one.
Super Power: Everything Astin touches turns to platinum.
X Factor: He’s not a loony, so this isn’t stratospheric, but I personally think it would be hawesome.
summer_babe AKA The Hub. The Blogfather. Meadowlark Lemon himself.
Success Factor: Pretty high. It’s generally known and accepted that Iggy’s got game.
Entertaining: Uber-tainment at it’s finest. And if he goes deep it will be interesting to see him try to maintaing the burka-like shroud of secrecy that he’s kept around about himself.
Blog: Um . . . I believe he has a blog.
Know Them: Well, I don’t know Iggy personally, but tell me if you don’t feel like you know the little guy over the last 5 years of ubers, links, and photos. Iggy has posted that he will be drunk for this. I think that’s bad news for the rest of us.
BBT Regular?: Sir! Yes, sir!
Super Power: Super blog-pimping.
X Factor: Off the charts. He’s the one and only Blogfather! If anything, sending Iggy to Oz will get us a few more posts over at G&P than we’ve been seeing this year, thanks-for-nothing-UFC.
Julius_Goat AKA Dead Money
I will leave you to determine the stats for this donkey for yourself. Suffice it to say I’m naturally my own top preference to win, and I promise that my posts will be regular and also entertaining as long as you are drunk.
* In a fake internet way, natch.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I'd have been happy just to find a single regular tournament with a dozen or so players.
I'd have been happy just to get the rake back for BBT2 same as the first one.
I'd have been happy just for the opportunity to write a story and have people read it.
I'd have been happy for . . . you know what? Let's just say I'm happy. There is so much more here than could have been expected, ever. The state of this hobby of mine is good. It's great. And it's all your fault. All of you, reading this. Yeah, you. Your fault. And yours. And yours.
You all read Al so you already know this. Fuel (congrats, man!) and I opened up our emails today to read:
Congrats, you won 1 of the 2 spots for writers into the Tournament
of Champions. It was really tough to judge the entries, but yours was
a favorite among the judges. Good job.You will be automatically entered
into the TOC this coming Thursday.
So I guess I'm going to be playing some cards this week, which has me feeling pretty fine. It's honestly hard to comprehend the level of velvet-cloaked, bacon-strapped, SoCo-livered awesome that is Al Can't Hang, not to mention the generous bounty of Full Tilt Poker. Al of course was the guy behind the guy, who pulled the lever and then shared his prize, while Full Tilt put up a nearly 20K package for us to chase after. Not bad for a bunch of pushmonkeys and call stations and top pair fonkeys and , and (oh, let's not forget) some fine poker players too.
Oh mama, I get to play for this against a field of less than 30 (all capable of destroying me, but still)? Pinch me. It's like being seven years old and getting a real working lightsaber for Christmas. You don't dare believe it's true. You can barely touch it, for fear it will disappear. It's a reverant, silent moment. Then you fire it up and go cut the bully down the street in half.
See. That's why they didn't let you have a lightsaber back then.
1) I'm in TOC for writing, not for my play. Obviously. Is it wrong that this doesn't bother me in the slightest? For some, it probably is. Not really the purist way to get into a TOC, eh? But it was a way, and a valid one. Even if you're unlike me and a really good play, you're not guaranteed a win over 27 attempts. Why not shoot an angle? I'm actually surprised less people tried this. I'm also thankful, because there are some pretty swell writers out there who didn't take a poke. Thanks, pretty swell writers out there who didn't take a poke! However, I'm probably one of the few who would be more excited to notch a seat for the pen than for the pooosh.
A little bit about me. Like most of you, I have lots of interests, and poker is not small among them. But for me, the greatest among these is writing fiction, and it isn't even close. It's basically like Waffles and WoW. To be honored for my crazy syllables feels like winning the Super Bowl, if the Super Bowl were watched not by a million people on TV, but by hundreds on a website. And if it were also a writing contest instead of a football game.
Know what? I'm going to leave this metaphor dead in the ditch and just walk away. Nothing to see, nothing to see . . .
2) It would not have bothered me if I hadn't won. Honestly and truly, I consider having written something I like and with which I am happy to be the real prize. Winning the seat? That's gravy. I've been away from any real attempt at writing fiction for a long time. For one thing, it's a lot harder to roll up my sleeves, turn on Miles Davis, really dig in and focus on writing well, than it is to just fire up an SNG, so I do that instead. But this challenge motivated me, and not just because I figured it was my only real hope to land a seat. I'm glad it did.
I sat down one night and just let it rip, and everything just kind of floated away, just me and the page, and the next word, and the next word, and the next. I'd forgotten that feeling, and I wanted it again. There's a reason my next two posts were short stories, and there's more coming. I think this little nubbin on the Interweb world tree is going in that direction. Let's face it, I don't have much new and meaningful to say about poker, other than the odd little table profile or limerick. I'll leave that to my strategic betters. I think I'll set my spaceship on a different trajectory, all the while keeping it a poker blog. How? Um, I'll get back to you on that.
3) I'm outclassed in the TOC. I'll be honest with myself. There will be no easy starting table this time, and my play's been pretty bad through the BBT2. I final tabled the first Big Game, but after that I don't think it was anything less than embarrassing. Last night I called an all-in vs. KOD with AK when he could have only had Aces or Kings. It would have been a tough laydown with TPTK, but I knew it was correct and I called anyway. Blech. So, I have to consider myself fairly dead money in a field with such luminaries as KOD, Iggy, (s)l(y)ucko and the Family Stone, Astin, Maloney, Alan, Jeciimd, JJOK, and, well, I'm doing this by memory on purpose so that I don't have to list everybody and I won't leave anybody hanging. The rest of you, too. You're better than me, I think, at least better than I've been in this round. The point is this: Free chips! Come get 'em!
4) I'm freerolling. As a result of number 3) there, I'm feeling no pressure. It's certainly not mine to lose, so I assume it is mine to win? I'm playing to win, too, baby. If I lucksack into the winner's circle, I promise thorough and detailed posting from Australia throughout, and I even promise that some of it won't be totally made up. But most of it, my friends, will be.
5) Thank you. All of you. Not for this TOC seat. Like I said, that's gravy. Thank you just for being a part of this and letting me play your little reindeer games. This is just a hobby for most of us, but so what? It's real. I've always wanted a regular poker game. Online play was all right, but I was getting sick of just grinding with no real sense of community when I first started banging out random blah blah blah I hate bad beats, blah blah blah, the players are amazingly bad, blah blah blah nearly a year ago. To my surprise, some of you noticed. Then more. You began to comment on what I'd written, and encouraged me to do more like it. You linked to my stuff, bringing more sets of eyes, more perspectives. I become a regular to you, and you to me. Now there is a virtual place to go and sit down, where I know I'll recognize most of the 'faces.' This is why we blog instead of just play. It's why (I think) KOD can't thankfully stop coming back for more abuse no matter how many times he burns his space to the ground and salts the earth. It's what poker online needs if it's to be meaningful. Kudos to Full Tilt for recognizing it.
If all of this hadn't happened for me, I certainly wouldn't still be around with a chance to bust out in the first level of this thing.
Thanks to Full Tilt, thanks to Al and Hoy and Don and Mook. Most of all, thanks to everybody who reads this.
I'm happy just to play. Now it's time to fire up my lightsaber and cut you all in half.
See you Thursday.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
There once was a donkey named Al
Who could guzzle SoCo by the pail.
If a blog flame war started,
He'd say "That's retarded.
Just drink shots live, by dial or mail."
There once was a donkey named Bayne,
Who ran through BBT like a train.
But he died in the Deuce
Like an old diseased moose.
And now he's just feeling the pain.
There once was a donkey named Dank,
Who played music for us while he drank.
But what made this worse,
He would give out a curse
That could kill like a stab from a shank.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Of Medusa's Castle (don't you know).
Ran extremely well,
And watched her roll swell.
Even though she don't know how to fold.
Smokkee was a donk with a blog
Who lived in a land filled with smog.
He looked more like a trucker,
Than he did like Chris Tucker.
He retired, then came back on Bodog.
Monday, December 3, 2007
The blind considers a call
Please fold please. (Misclick.)
My M is not what
It ought to be. Or what it
was. Don't steal again.
I sit in silence
And ponder the Ace on the
flop. I hate cowboys.
The turn paired the board
And the river makes four spades.
Don't slow play flopped straights.
So sick of these beats
They come too fast to count, and
So many! I'm folding.
Look down toward the bottom.
Good. Now, look to your right. The
fold button's there. Use it.
Oh right I forgot
You think you know what pot odds
Are. Nice game, Hellmuth.
With a secret to tourney long lastin'
"Just get lots of Aces
In many key places,
And when you get Cowboys, start blastin'."
There once was a donkey named Alan,
Who sucked up the cash by the gallon.
But in many tournies,
He took the wrong journey.
And too often found himself railin'.
There once was a donkey named Grind
Who got all the chips in behind.
But he smiled at the news,
For: "I know I'll improve,
And if I don't? Well, I just do not mind."
OK, I think I'm done for now. Real poker content to follow, I swear.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Who your every C-bet he'd just float.
When he rivered his flush,
He thought, "I'm on a rush!"
Little knowing you'd filled up your boat.
There once was a donkey named Hoy,
Who was so much the tiltable boy
You caught one of three outs
And could then hear him shout,
"You're a fonkey if Jewish or goy!"
There once was a donkey, TripJax
Who was in the Big Game a card rack
I shoved from the blinds
And he just didn't mind
Taking every last bit of my stack.
There once was a donkey named Iggy,
We all thought was a small, not a biggie.
As he sucked down a pint,
He said, "I just don't mind,
Here's an uber, oh the humanity!"
There once was a donkey named Fuel,
Who used the all-in as a tool.
As he shoved in his stack,
He thought, "I'll get this back,
And then I will call you a fool."
There once was a donkey named Pauly,
Who would piss next to pros at the stally,
Counting every last chip,
He said, "Don't start this shit,
If you're not in it for the long haul-y."
There once was a donk, Cracknaces,
Who had just lost consecutive races.
He deleted his blog,
Screaming, "U R Ghey Dawg!"
"Please o please o please please go get AIDSizz!"
More later. I will limerick anybody who asks, and some who don't.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Dot smiled. Their kitchen was very large and airy, stainless steel, hard wood floors. It might have belonged to a cooking show. Large bay windows by the breakfast nook with a prospect on the back lawn and the garden. Lit supernal from a skylight above, soft and glowing. The sun was in its place; a beautiful day. Everything its right place.
She stood abruptly and took the medium mixing bowl from its place on the shelf, filled it with water. A wire whisk hanging from its feet with other utensils. It had been hanging there by its steel feet for a long time, but still it wouldn’t talk. It was tough, like all whisks. She went into the pantry for some white sugar. A basting brush from the drawer. Dot eyed the range, six burners, and decided finally that she would serve it cold. This one doesn’t have to be boiling, she thought. She knew that some things took a long while to come to a boil.
She added sugar into the water and stirred with the whisk until it was mixed in quite well. She wandered from the kitchen onto the patio and looked out onto the garden while she stirred. The kitchen jutted out into the back yard on the west side of the house and opened onto the patio, which extended the length of the back. Two hundred square feet, the kitchen. Vaulted ceilings. Dot hummed and looked at the turned black earth of the garden, way against the back hedge. Yesterday there had been tulips and prize-winning roses, and showboat mums sagging under magnificent hats, but the garden was now dug up, a blank piece of paper upon which she could make some bold mark. A new start, Stanley had said when she had come home to find it all gone. A new start, old girl. Put whatever we want back there. A pool, maybe, eh?
The gardeners Stanley had hired had been very thorough, and when they had pulled out all of the roots of her flowers and bushes, they'd left the sod soft. It had been easier than she had expected to dig so deep in the new soil.
Dot went back to the pantry and added more sugar, and stirred it very well. She kept adding sugar until she had a substance that was no longer either sugar or water, viscous and ropy and sticky. Then she cleaned the whisk and hung it back up with his obstinate fellows, and took the basting brush the bowl with her out into the back yard. Two acres wide, two deep. Stanley had made a nice living for them. Neighbors blocked out by tall spruce hedges Stanley had planted when they were no taller than she was. The rhododendrons she had loved had needed to come out to make way for them. Stanley had pulled them up, for privacy was important to him. Those hedges grown now to giants over twenty years. Things could grow quite tall in that span, she thought. They grow slowly, but they grow up on you. The children were grown now, too. Moved to Fresno, and to Austin, Texas.
Stanley was out in the garden. When she lifted the overturned bucket from the ground and uncovered him, she saw he was he was finally awake. A pleasant surprise. His head was angry pink where she had shaved him newly bald, and he looked like a new rosebud just pushing up from the ground. He'd gone all pink the first day, before she'd thought of the bucket. The sun was very bright. A beautiful day. He saw her coming and said:
“For God’s sake, Dorothy. For God’s sake.”
She set the bowl down on the earth by his head and his eyes rolled toward it like those of a horse in full panic.
“What is that, Dot? What is it?”
She dipped the brush into the bowl. It was very sticky and when she pulled the brush out it trailed a rope of sugar syrup. As she began to anoint his head with it, she hummed softly to herself. She could feel him trying to struggle under the new earth. She brushed his head as he raged at her and she watched the hedges and marveled at how things that grow slowly can grow up so tall and strong and wild. She whispered to him:
“The ants don’t bite here, Stanley. They don't bite. They're just garden ants. But their little feet will tickle. They’ll tickle you all day.”
He wasn't as loud once she'd put the bucket back over him. On the way back to the house, she thought she might go into town. There were supplies to buy, and maybe some apples.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I would have won the Mookie last night. You'll have to take my word for that, though, as most of my city had no power last night for reasons that remain unclear. Poof. My dead stack came in a magnificent 36th. I had just signed into the Dookie, too. You'd better believe I'd have won that one too if I hadn't literally been dead money. My chair placed 11th.
No, I am not Vinnie Vinh.
I'm very thankful that I have such a blessed life that this kind of quibbly little frustration can actually be considered 'bad luck'.
Eat a turkey, y'all. Spare a goat. I might see you at Riverchasers. If I play, I'll win it. That is, if my hard drive doesn't spontaneously melt during the first break.
Monday, November 19, 2007
This old man has a certain place where he can go. He has the room, and he has the sandwich. That is all he has, and the sandwich is of greater value to him now, now that he is old and almost wise. All else is gone from him; friends and foes and wife and child and children-who-may-have been. Potential lovers. Countless sunsets. The cities he would have visited; Paris, Rome, Athens, Calcutta, Seoul, Belgium, Pigeon Forge, Rio. Timbuktu. He would have visited Timbuktu. He would have ridden roller coasters. He would have taken up painting. He knows so damn much about painting. He knows how roller coasters work, and how to fix a car, and why Napoleon failed in Russia. He knows how the stock market works. He knows how his circulatory system works. He has no idea how his room works.
This old man isn’t sure how old he is; impossible to know. He is waiting for his wife. He has something to tell her. He is waiting for his wife, and the hand of his watch will tick tick tick the time until she will be here. He stands up to leave, effecting a half-interested scurry of pigeons. Of course, she won’t believe him. She won’t. He hopes that she will, anyway. He hopes that he can make her understand. If she will understand, then he will have a better place to spend his final years. Perhaps he’ll write. If she doesn’t understand . . . well. He hopes she will understand. He sits once again, and the pigeons gather around. His sandwich, purchased from the deli nearby, is stuffed with cold cuts and banana peppers. The pigeons don’t care what it is. “Things that can conceivably be swallowed” is the only category that interests them. True. They’ve been seen pecking cigarette butts into bite-sized pieces.
_ __ ____ __ _
One rainy day at the age of twelve, Cheswick M. Snowcook came upon a set of Encyclopedia Britannica and, as he sorted through the pages, became aware of the near-totality of his lack of knowledge. His current education was clearly insufficient; there was too much and the teacher was going far too slow. As a countermeasure to this distressing but inescapable truth, and armed with a twelve year old's innate sense of grandiloquence, he took a New Year’s vow to read every book that there ever was. He gave himself until his twenty-first birthday to finish.
At sixteen, older and wiser in the ways of the autodidact, he began compiling a list of only those books deemed essential for a more complete knowledge. It was meticulous work, and time-consuming. For example: translations. He had, in the interest of efficiency, decided against consumption of foreign texts in their original languages, at least until such time as the textbooks for these languages had taught him to speak in the tongue in question. However, there were multitudes of different translations for some texts. A new rule was devised: only those translations deemed definitive by consensus of the experts within the field in question needed to be read. New translations were necessary only if there was once again consensus that the translation added some actual new insight. In the case of different translations containing conflicts of an essential character, both translations would naturally have to be read. And so on. Cheswick completed the list in October of his twentieth year, and began to read in November. The final typed list was thick as a porterhouse steak. He immediately began to practice and to hone his speed-reading technique.
There came a time when Cheswick become aware of his mortality. Death, he realized, was the great enemy, thwarting the fruition of his plan. One night he roused from deep slumber to the dismayed realization that he would never be able to read everything. Impossible. Even half of it would be beyond him. And to comprehend it all? No. By his quick calculations the age of eighty would have him at less than 25 percent. And that was at a pace of a full eight hours a day of study, a benchmark he had not approached in his fondest hopes, not with the inconveniences life contrived at every instance. My God, time spent at work alone! He had dropped out of those infernally slow-moving schools when too many courses assigned him reading material not on his list; yet tragically, before that extraction, he had managed to saddle himself with a wife, and then (to his everlasting woe) that wife had gotten herself with child. These additions had been foolishly made, almost without any conscious decision on his part, it seemed, during those early days when Cheswick still waded in every youth’s happy illusion of immortality. Now, the only work available to him was dull drudgery, and often involved mandatory overtime, and Cheswick cursed that he had no degree to allow him some more heady pursuit.
The list lay fallow for weeks at a time. Soon expectations and duties stacked up faster than he could push it away. Money choked time, and time choked Cheswick. There was no doubt that his studies were suffering because that little squalling cabbage of his needed formula and diapers, while Shirley’s blood was too thin to do without heat in the wintertime, so she claimed. It was painful to contemplate the knowledge he would never hold. At the dewy age of twenty-six, the chains of mortality had begun to weigh heavily on him. Each text unread was another iron link wearing him down, each hour wasted a manacle.
_ _ _
His room saved him from all that, though found it by accident. You can find it by accident too, if you look, deep in the Mid-Manhattan Public Library. The door isn’t hidden, but you need to go far back in the tiers, past periodicals unseen since they were bound together and archived in stacks, untouched since the publication date. 1903-04, Journal of Exploring and Mystery, and Phrenology Today 1917, and so on. They could have all been incinerated for all anyone ever cared, and that is just what may happen some day. They are all due to be committed to microfilm and destroyed. There is a government project to such effect, a plan filed on the Federal Register, June 29, 1978.
People live back there, and nobody knows it. Cheswick knows it. He’s met seven of them, all living back there. Stan, Mel, Y.B., Trayne. Three others didn’t give their name, fearing Cheswick was a registrar from the census who would betray them once more to the aliens, who had implanted profane devices in their organs. They stay all winter long to avoid frostbite, then venture out in the springtime. They don’t fear discovery back here, these so-called homeless wanderers. They seem unconcerned about the microfilm project. The deadline set for completion was January 1, 1982. These stacks have been living on borrowed time for nearly twenty years, longer than Trayne has been alive. She was born back here. She's lost track of time, too.
_ _ _
Here is what happened: Cheswick had snuck away from Shirley on a rainy Saturday some months before. Inventing a business trip, he had come to the library with his list and a sleeping bag rolled into his backpack. He skipped up the steps, whistled through the aisles. He selected his tomes, shoved them into his pack and made his way to the most secluded corner of the library to read -- ‘most secluded’ meaning the archival tiers in the basement, which had small desks beneath fluorescent lighting emanating from the low ceilings of rooms in which you could read undisturbed for hours and hours and hours.
The archives consist of twelve levels connected to one another by a narrow spiral staircase, accessible from the library’s main floor, which leads onto the tenth archival level; the spiraling stairs go four stories above and seven below. On previous excursions, he had merely gone to the first of the reading rooms, but on this day he desired a greater anonymity; the allure of being secreted in the bowels of one of the world’s largest libraries, utterly hidden beneath all those books and wrapped up in a sleeping bag on a drizzly day, had overcome him, and he descended the stairs. Upon reaching the lowest level, he discovered that this was much larger than the rest; a bottom layer beneath the rest, one gargantuan room the exact size and shape of the foundation of the entire library, broken only by the occasional load-bearing pillar and rank after rank of bookshelf. Each holding magazines of infinite obscurity by the thousands. None of these on his list, thank God. The sight of so many texts weakened him. Only their inessential status prevented a quick tip into madness. Reading tables were situated on either side of each pillar. Cheswick headed to the back in search of reading rooms, which were rarely checked before the library was closed. This would be the perfect place to proceed unmolested by human contact, and (more importantly) to set up a sleeping bag for slumber in the dwindling hours when his eyes finally could take no more, for he had discovered that it was not hard to have oneself shut up in a public library with a flashlight to read by, and plenty of batteries. And cigarettes, a treat only for late library nights, when even the guards were sleeping.
But there were no reading rooms near the back, just boxes and bound collections of periodicals stacked against the far where the corresponding doors on upper levels would be found. Damn. But . . . the boxes were stacked to the top of the low ceiling. It was conceivable, wasn’t it? And certainly worth the effort to find the most secluded place in the library. Why, he’d be able to smoke down here whenever he wanted. Cheswick grunted as he pulled the topmost box off the stack and set it down. And sure enough, this uncovered a corner of doorframe. Lintel and upright; there was a room back there. Of course there was. Cheswick cleared the rest of the boxes quickly and deliberately, stacking the never-read detritus neatly until the whole entryway was unobstructed. He hefted his backpack, opened the door, and cursed, loudly. Oh, balls. The room itself was filled with boxes. Cheswick removed his coat and rolled up his sleeves. He worked quickly and deliberately. He began to sweat, which he detested, but the room was small and he was soon finished with the task. And the room was his, a more romantic study cave unimaginable. This room had been laying undiscovered for long years, waiting for him. Based on the dates scrawled upon them, those boxes had been there longer than he had been alive. It had been a long time since anyone had spent a day in there.
He read a third of Middlemarch (commentary by Rosemary Ashton and introduction by A.S. Byatt) that morning. He read until hunger roused him. Glancing at his watch as he stood, he grimaced. The hands had stopped at half-past nine, and he’d just replaced the battery. A lucky thing Shirley wasn’t expecting him anyway, or he’d be out in the atrium every thirty pages, checking the large wall clock, making sure he wasn’t late home. Fabricated weekends were superior to fabricated sick days in that way. There was some food in his pack, but Zack the hot dog man would be on the pavement by now, and a few frankfurters felt like just the thing. His knees popped as he stood.
But strangely, when he hit the pavement Zack the hot dog man wasn’t there. Ah well, it would be a backpack lunch, then, no matter. He’d eat while he read. But it didn’t feel quite right. Cheswick couldn’t place why, but there was something off. Something atmospheric. On his way through the lobby, he noticed something else odd – the gigantic lobby clock showed half-past nine, as well. And it wasn’t stopped. The four-foot second hand jolted right along, second-by-second marking the passing moments. Cheswick looked back at his wrist, and his wristwatch’s second-marker matched its immense cousin quiver for lurch.
This was not right. The only reasonable explanation was that it truly was half-past nine, which would mean . . . Well, well. Cheswick smiled. Ah. This was good news. It would appear that his speed-reading had reached a new level. But no. Wait. What time had he begun? He didn’t think it could have been before nine that he had even arrived at the library. No, impossible once again. The facts were: the time was the time, and he had read what he had read. He must have arrived earlier than he had thought, that was all. And still, this suggested all new levels regarding speed and retention. Had he been using a new technique? He couldn’t recall. His progress hadn’t seemed superior, and yet here it was, half-past nine.
Well, well. Cheswick smiled. He might just be able to finish Middlemarch by supper-time, and then on to The Origin of the Species. He trotted back down to the tiers and had already begun to read by the time he drew out his sandwich. Frowning and gobbling; even now as he read it didn’t seem he was going faster. But he was very hungry, as if he had been working for long hours. His newfound intensity must be responsible, he decided. Increased the metabolism.
He flipped the page, unaware that the second hand of his wristwatch was as still as a slab of pavement.
He read it straight on through, all the way, and when he pushed it aside he realized that his insides had been roaring in hunger for what seemed hours. He gobbled a second sandwich and then passed into deep and unrepentant sleep.
Cheswick awoke cursing himself. He could feel in his neck how long he had been resting. Time wasted, time wasted. He checked his watch. By extraordinary coincidence, it was once again nine-thirty, though he was unsure if it was night or day. The following morning, he thought, was probably right. He had the cotton-ball thoughts of one who had slept longer than he should have. And he was hungry again, and no sandwich remained in his backpack. Ah! Cheswick grimaced, he had planned to read deep into the night, and now it was Sunday morning already. Grab a bite for breakfast, and then no more than eight hours at the utmost could pass before the library would close he’d have to return home. He could call home, of course; claim a flight delayed and purchase one more day. But that card had been played too many times before. Suspicion was creeping into his marriage . No, he would need to leave in timely fashion. There was no other way.
He stumbled up the stairs and out into the world. There was a breakfast spot around the corner that wasn’t too crowded and made an excellent omelet. Cheswick chose a table with yesterday’s paper still on it. Someone had left it there, still folded, unread. He riffled through until he found Sports; let’s see how the Kicks did Friday. Cheswick unfurled the paper, but a perturbed voice
— Hey buddy
accompanied by a taptaptap on his shoulder interrupted him before he could find the sports section. Cheswick turned to find a short tough-guy with a chin like a milk jug glaring at him.
— Hey buddy. Get your own paper first, why donchya?
— I’m sorry?
— You oughta be. Matter with you, anyway? Guy can’t take a leak without somebody stealing his paper?
— I . . . excuse me, haven't you read yesterday’s paper either?
— Hey. Don’t get cute, buddy. Yesterday’s paper, don’t get cute. Just get the hell out of my booth.
— I’m sorry . . .I’m ah . . .I’m confused.
— And give me my paper.
Cheswick opened his mouth to interject, but then thought better of it. His name was ‘Cheswick’, after all; he’d had his share of bullies, and knew his limitations in a fight. Retreat was always the better part of survival. He stumbled over to the counter and sat. Checked his watch tick tick tick as a fearful suspicion grew. The cook ignored him for a while in favor of the skillet, then swung around.
— What’ll it be?
— Omelette. Ham and Swiss.
The cook nodded, and Cheswick took a deep breath and asked:
— What . . . ah, day is it?
The cook shot him a weary look. Another kook. Cheswick shrugged and gave a nervous laugh.
— I’m just forgetful. My wife says I’d lose my own head if it --
— I’m sorry?
— Today is Saturday.
— Yeah. That’s the one after Friday. Sunday comes next.
— But . . . that’s impossible.
Cheswick whispered this, knowing it sounded crazy even as he said it. He inhaled, but then dizziness took him and he couldn’t remember how to exhale. The Formica swimming beneath his vision, he clutched it with hands. Everything was vivid. The colors. The realness of it. His hands, gripping the counter. That was real. This was real. And he had begun to sweat again. At least the cook was enjoying himself.
— Nah, that’s the general progression. At least, that’s how I learned it in school. We could always get a calendar out and check –
— No. That won’t be necessary.
— You sure?
— Yes. Thank you.
— Anything else? The year? The president?
— No, thank you.
— State bird?
— Just some hash browns with the omelet, please.
The omelet was delicious. He was halfway through it when something sailed over his shoulder and landed on the plate like a dead pigeon. Cheswick gave a small shriek before he realized what it was: The newspaper he'd inadvertently 'stolen' earlier. Yesterday's -- no, today’s newspaper. The newspaper still current this morning. Which was Saturday morning. And how long could this Saturday morning last, tucked into that little room that had misplaced time somehow?
— All yours now, buddy. Read up.
Cheswick threw it to one side. He already knew what he needed to do. He needed to make sure that he had money with which to buy decades worth of meals. He needed to go to the bank for a loan. A second mortgage whenever that ran out. Cheswick smiled, polishing off his omelet and ordering another for the road. It came to him packaged in Styrofoam, and he whistled a little tune as he hit the door, thinking wild but happy. He would finish what was in his backpack that morning. Then he’d spend a few days planning furnishings for his reading room. Small desk. Good lamp. Perhaps a loveseat – but how to smuggle it in?
A couple weeks to plan, at least. Then he’d come back this afternoon. He’d tell Shirley that he had caught an early flight.
____ __ _ __ ___
This old man has finally read everything; the whole list. He finished all of it while his watch-hands lay still as etchings, as cave-drawings. Cave-drawings were the first novels. He wasn’t able to read any of those, of course, but he read it somewhere, this opinion about cave drawings. He remembers much more of what he has read than he would have thought possible. He learned the art of taking extensive notes for each book and that has helped. All the notes are back in the room.
This old man has not quite finished his sandwich, but his face has gone quite gray and he no longer is hungry. A lean dog shuffles by, and the man feeds the greasy end of the sandwich to the mutt as the pigeons look on blankly, perhaps in horror at their loss.
It has just occurred to the man that there have been many, many books published since he compiled his list.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
The sun had risen, but there was no hint of reflection from the ghost’s armor. It was dull and gray and beaten, the veteran of many conflicts, pinged and dented with dozens of dents, scorched by torches and scored by swords. The helmet was an ashen cylinder with a crude hole torn from the center . The spirit's face was obscured by shadows, completely lost except for the nose and a protruding thatch of wiry beard , and the aperture from which the ghost gazed was jagged and uneven, as though it had been quickly pinched out of the iron chimney by an absent-minded giant.
I still knew who it was. The armor was all I needed. This was the legend of the outback, the prince of the prison colony, the Robin Hood of Australia, king of all bushrangers, the hero of some children's stories and the villain of others. This was Ned Kelly, who’d fought and run from the colonial police for years, who’d made himself an immortal by beating his plowshares into armor and tackling his enemies straight on in bullet-proof style. And this was a guy with some serious enemies. The jury is out about the factual nature of the tales of Kelly's heroism, but by all accounts the police in colonial Australia were a hard bunch. Australia being a prison colony, which made the cops prison guards and the people inmates. This let to lots of oppression and hefty helpings of corruption. Kelly was in and out of prison from adolescence, and the line on him is that it was on trumped up charges. He took a stand against the screws and gained the love of a nation on the way.
It didn't work. Taking a stand is good for the history books but usually bad for a quiet death of old age. They caught him and hung him by the neck until he was dead, dead, dead, back in 1880. The impartial Martian observer who has watched this planet since the beginning of the universe heard his last words. This is what they were:
Ah, well. Such is life.
If he’d been born in a different time, one might speculate that his last words would have been more along the lines of:
Now he was standing in front of me.
I’m going to be honest with you; I was scared. Scared? More than that, I was terrified; I nearly crapped 'em. Be charitable with me. I’d survived some of the scariest poker players on the planet for two days, suffered disgusting beats (managed to forget dealing a few disgusting beats), been transported to the middle of the Outback for sunrise twice in one night, met a dead animal wrestler and conservationist, accidentally made Joe Hachem think I was propositioning him, and now I’d come face to hidden face with a guy in armor who had come to me in a screeching metalic noise that seemed designed specifically to make all your hair turn white. This guy was pretty well known for killing people, and, as previously mentioned, the jury was out as to whether he was a hero of the common man or just a psychopath with a decent publicist. Now he was the Ghost of Poker Future, and he was here either to teach me an important lesson or to take my larynx home for a keepsake.
All this, and I was pretty sure I had a wake-up call in about fifty minutes. If I didn’t find my seat in the Aussie Millions shortly thereafter, I’d begin to be blinded off. So, you see, this was a stressful time.
The armored figure beckoned, and spoke a single word:
But I didn’t have a choice whether or not to follow; it was the same as it had been earlier. Everything just melted and I was observing myself in a room I didn’t know. It appeared to be the living room of a small apartment. I was sitting on a couch with a laptop open. I was in the dark, lit by the monitor glow; my hair corkscrewed upward in unwashed spirals, wearing boxer shorts and a tee shirt. The blinds were pulled. I was on the fat side of chunky. This was no fun; I’d clearly gone to seed. Not only that, but the décor was off-white splendor. Zilch on the walls but a TV. An old pizza on the table. Trash in the corner. It screamed ‘bachelor,’ and this more than anything chilled me to the bone. Where was my family?
“Where am I?” I asked, but Kelly said nothing. He only pointed at future me.
I looked agitated. I punched some numbers and watched the screen intently. After a few seconds I shouted.
“Come on! Hold! HOLD WILL YOU JUST ONCE HOLD!”
Suddenly future me screamed, leapt to my feet and hurled the laptop as hard as I could. It struck the wall with a dull clud and then curled up on the carpet like a dead puppy. I screamed in rage and danced like a thwarted pygmy.
I figured it was safe to assume that it had not just once held. I watched future me bound around the apartment for a while, yelling and kicking things. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
“OK, so what is this?” I asked the ghost, finally. “This is what happens if I lose? Is that it?”
Ned Kelly pointed to a bookshelf. There, in a display case, was a giant crystal statue in the shape of a spade. It was the Aussie Millions trophy.
“This is what happens to me if I WIN?” I shouted. Freaky ghost or no freaky ghost, this was just too much. “What is the point of showing me this? Am I supposed to lose? That’s the most IDIODIC thing I’ve heard in my life!”
Future me had stopped beating his head against a table and was now eating cookie dough straight from the tube and crying softly. Gah. This was too gross. I wanted out of there.
And then, mercifully, we were melting away again, but not to my hotel room. We were in a dark place. Indoors, close in a small room. There was a musty smell covered by some kind of perfume. Kelly was there, holding two guns. He handed one to me and it was far heavier than I expected. I almost dropped it.
“Steady there, Joe,” he said to me. “Don’t lets us have nerves now.”
“Who is Joe?” I demanded. “And where are we?”
Kelly looked at me as if I were an idiot child and whispered, “Glenrowan Inn, don’t be daft now, Joe.” I could only stare dumbly at him. There was something about the name of that place I didn’t like. I was trying to remember when Kelly lurched toward the window and shouted at the top of his lungs:
“You shoot children, ya dogs! You can’t shoot me!”
He looked at me one more time.
“Come, Joe,” he said. “Let’s don’t keep them waiting now.”
He lurched out the door and suddenly the night was full of gunfire. That’s when it came to me. Glenrowan Inn. That’s where the police finally caught Kelly and his buddy Joe Byrne. I wanted to creep further into the inn and crawl under a bed, but my limbs were following dream logic, and as I moved toward the door I realized I was wearing my own suit of armor.
Kelly was taking his time between shots as the bullets ricocheted off his arms and torso. He was shouting at the top of his lungs, but I couldn’t hear. Then he was down; the cops had shot him in the kneecap and again in the thigh. As he pinwheeled down and hit the mud they opened fire on his ruined legs, and while the world just melted away for the final time, I thought That’s how they got him? That’s the reason? That lemur didn’t bother to put armor on his legs???? lol donkarmaments . . . .
* * *
I found myself back in my hotel room. The clock said 12:01 AM. I had been brought back to a time before any of this had started.
There are many things that bring about a good night’s sleep. Relief that you haven’t been killed in a shootout in 1880 is one of the best. I slept like a drugged koala until morning.
* * *
So that’s what happened, but now I need to know what it means. The spotlight is still on me but now so is the clock, and I’ve got to make a choice very soon. That ocean of observers are completely hushed now. Nine high board, uncoordinated. I have two overs and the nut flush draw. Ivey's just re-raised me a third of my stack. Push or fold. Push or fold.
I think we are looking at either Jacks or nines. I'm a dog against nines, and he'll call. I'm in better shape against Jacks, and he may fold them.
Push? Or fold?
Everything hangs on this.
I think about Crocodile Hunter, doing what he loved until the day the one-outer got him. "I don't know a blessed thing about bad luck." That's what he'd said.
I think about Joe Hachem, who has to be surprised to see me sitting at the TV table given last night shenannigans -- if they happened. "One decision at a time. Not one hand. One decision." That's what he had said.
I think about Ned Kelly, pushing half-blind in rage against his oppressors, his plan only half-formulated. Bold and dumb and doomed, doing better in a tough spot than most of us would, but hopelessly on tilt.
And suddenly it comes to me. Nothing hangs on this at all. There is a decision to make. I can make a good one or a bad one, a better one or a worse. And after that, something else will happen, and I'll have another decision to make. And then another, and another, and another.
And that is all. The results of this hand are a mirage. The chips are an illusion. Even the money is a myth. There is just a decision to be made. There is the space between what happens and what I decide that is mine, and that is the only thing that actually belongs to me. I will decide soon. And if I win the throw, then my situation will be What To Do With This Next Hand AND the Chip Lead? And I will try to make a good choice.
And if I lose? What is my decision then?
I smile, because now I know that I don't just get a decision. I get to decide what my situation is. I get to choose whether I want to let what happens define me, or if I instead want to define it.
I can decide to make my situation What Do I Do About This Horrible Crushing Loss? Or I can decide to make my situation something else. I can decide to make my situation something completely different. My choice could be this:
"I know who I am, and I like who I am. I have a wife that loves me and beautiful children. I'm in Australia playing poker for absolutely free, and I have just won a sizeable chunk of money. I enjoy my job, and I have good friends and a fulfilling life. I'm blessed beyond words. Now I've just lost a hand of poker, and I get to decide if I'm still OK."
Then I realize I can make that choice even if I win, and for the first time in the tournament I smile like a shark.
* * *
"I guess I'm all in, Phil." I say, pushing the whole stack into the middle, and as I watch him process what I've done I realize he's not calling. I can see a picture in my mind's eye: Not Jacks. Kings. He's trying to decide if he can put his tournament at risk with a big overpair. The malignent alien intelligence is still studying me, but suddenly all the pressure is on him. If he calls, I'm a slight underdog, but very slight.
And in that moment, I start to whistle. I whistle Silent In The Morning, one of my favorite songs. I whistle it softly to myself.
Then, something else happens. Somewhere from beyond the spotlight, back in that inky watchful ocean, somebody is whistling with me. They're doing the bass to my melody. From another place I hear a beat being tapped, softly still, maybe the sound of a pen tapping on a clipboard. A drum. As Phil Ivey burrows his hooks into my mind, we begin, my newfound rhythm section and I, to jam, and beyond my wildest expectations I realize I am not alone here, I have this. I have this, too . . . It's going to be all right, because it makes no difference, call or fold, win or lose.
I have all I need.
This concludes my entry to the Write Your Way To Australia promotional. I hope you enjoyed reading it. I enjoyed writing it.