Friday, February 29, 2008

LOST 012: Desmondhouse-Five


Listen. Desmond Hume has come unstuck in time. Sometimes he's in the army, and sometimes he's on a helicopter with his buddy Sayid. This is a blog post about it, written by me.

It begins like this:

"Listen. Desmond Hume has come unstuck in time."

And it ends like this:


First there was a helicopter, and then there was Scottish Full Metal Jacket. Desmond was playing the part of Private Pyle. Then there was a boat. So, there's actually a boat. We had been told there was a boat, but then we'd been told a lot of things. Desmond left the boat on Daniel Fairaday's instructions and went to visit Daniel Backintheday in Oxford.

Desmond told Daniel to set the flux capacitor to 1.21 jiggawatts, and Daniel said, "Tell me another one Future Boy! Who's governor of California in 2004?"

"Arnold Schwartzenegger," said Desmond and Daniel just laughed and laughed and laughed.

Finally Desmond let Daniel know that he, Desmond, knew about Daniel's relationship with his little pet mouse. This made Daniel believe. We all have somthing that would make us believe.

Then the pet mouse died. So it goes.

Later Desmond taught the people of 2004 to rock by playing Johnny Be Good for them. Then he was back in the freighter, where Minkowski was. Minkowski had come unstuck in time, and kept drifting back to the set of Short Circuit 2.

Minkowski took Desmond and Sayid to the radio room. The radio was dead; all of its wires looked like red and blue and white spaghetti. So it goes.

Then Minkowski died. So it goes.

Sayid fixed the radio, and this is what it said:


OK, for those of you who did not get that, all apologies, but I just had to do it with Desmond going all Billy Pilgrim on us. Also . . . we didn't get a whole lot of new questions to ask, in my opinion. This didn't make it a bad episode, really, it's just that there weren't a ton of surprises.

Penny's looking for Desmond. We knew that. She has a constant call out for him. Knew that. There's a time anomoly surrounding the island. Yep. Desmond is given to time-jumping. Check. The boat's mission seems to not be rescue-oriented, to put it mildly. We know. There's somebody on the boat who isn't working for the boaties. Uh huh.

What's my point? My point is that this episode is a pretty effective answer to those who think that Lost isn't giving us answers, and isn't driving to anyplace specific. The thing about Lost is not that it never gives answers; it's how it gives answers. The fact is that the show actually has told us a LOT. It's just that it hasn't told us in the way we're used to being told. It's fiberous; we have to chew on it. And it doesn't always give us answers as it gives deeper and better questions to ask. That's why we love it. (I'm assuming here, but if you don't love it what are you doing reading this?)

So, we aren't surprised because the show is following the path dictated by its own internal logic. The the questions raised this week are ones that will become clear in short order, I think.

Who's the captain? The show made a point of mentioning the captain but not showing him to us. Instead we just got Insincere Grin #1 and Insincere Grin #2, both of whom made it clear that A) there is indeed a heirarchy on the boat, and the people sent to the island seem to be on the bottom of it; B) the crew of the boat is well aware the Oceanic flight had survivors, and C) they have no interest in bringing them on board. Anyway, I'm guessing the captain will be a familar face. Beyond that . . . no idea.

Who's Ben's man on the boat? Nominees include Fairaday (certainly seems helpful) and Miles (3.2 million may well be code), but then we have some 'non-Ben's-man-on-the-boat' who left the door unlocked. Also, Lapidus the pilot. Also . . . Michael. That seems to be the most popular guess. We shall see. Lost-followers more eagle-eyed than I noticed that Ben sent Michael on a slightly different trajectory than Daniel sent Lapidus. Michael's definitely on Ben's errand, whatever that is.

Desmond's exposure to electromagnatism caused the freak-out. Who else? Locke, for one. He was at ground zero. What might happen to Locke if he leaves the island?

The main event, though, was tucked away in the corner. How very Lost. I'm referring, of course, to the auction that Desmond stumbles into, as Penelope's dad is bidding on . . . the journal of the captian of the Black Rock. Whose last name is Hanso.


The Black Rock! Hanso! The journal! This is BIG.

Let me sum up.

We are obviously dealing with more than one powerful entity that is aware of this place, and who have been manipulating events both on and off the island to bring these people here. Here's the list, as I see it:

- Mittelos: This is Ben's group, what we used to call "The Others". Heavily resourced, with a direct path to the island. Affliated with "The Hostiles", aka the group of people who were on the island before Dharma, and who purged them out with Ben's help.

- Hanso Corporation: They've been on the island, obviously, as part of Dharma. Not so much these days. Dr. Marvin Candle and that guy from the training films who looks like Peter Jackson are on this crew.

- Widmore Corp: Almost certainly the group that sent the boat. Afflilates include Abbadan, Penny's dad (of course), and probably Sun's dad. Given that the boaties knew that the Oceanic survivers were on the island, they logically know that the plane at the bottom of the ocean is a fake. Which means that this is the organization behind the cover up. Also, probably the organization behind the crash in the first place.

- The Keepers: This is just a name I made up for them. They are represented by the monk that leads Desmond's brotherhood, and that freaky lady that he met in his flashback to London episode in Season 3. These people seem to be on the side of the good, and they know a lot about how time works.

Now . . . Widmore was after Hanso's book. We now know that Hanso Corp. first got their foothold on the island when the slave ship the Black Rock crashed into the island. Widmore is after the book, probably to figure out how to find the island himself. Thus, Widmore and Hanso are unaffiliated.

The hostiles/Mittelos may well be the remainder of the Black Rock crew and slaves. They are almost certainly unaffiliated with Widmore, and are obviously unaffiliated with Dharma . . . you know, because of all of the killing. They may be affiliated with the Keepers. Who else? Claire's psychic? Libby? She gave Desmond the boat, after all . . .

I think Oceanic 815 may have been Widmore Corp's attempt to plant a mole on the island. I think Desmond may have been the Keeper's attempt to do the same. So who might the Widmore Mole be?

How about Christian Shepherd? Perhaps he's not as dead as we all thought. Jack certainly thinks he is alive in the first flash forward, remember.

Don't be surprised if Christian Shepherd is our surprise sixth member of the Oceanic Six.

Side Notes:

* Buh-bye Minkowski, we barely knew you.

* Daniel obviously an early researcher in time travel. Radiation for the head, but none for the heart. So much for the old short-term memory.

Join us next time when Hurley says:

"Po too wheet?"


Michael Craig Three Weeks Finale

Well, it's been a fun three weeks, and I think Michael Craig has gotten a decent value from this little experiment. By this I mean that I am taking full credit for his 46 grand in cashes last week. (I'm also taking credit for Hoy's 50/50 success, as I was IMing primarily with both him and Michael Craig last weekend, and thus I believe my IM skills to be magically lucky. Call me for rates).

Meanwhile, I think somebody else may have taken me up on my offer to pimp them for bucks. I've received an offer, it's really low, and just to prove how cheap I am, I am planning on taking in. Stay tuned . . .

ANYway . . . I've been tooting Mr. Craig's horn in almost every post since my spectacular two-minute flame-out in the FTOPS, as was our arrangement (I left him out of my political post, because that sort of thing can be the stuff you may or may not want your name on), but the fact of the matter is I do mean it when I say I think he's a very good writer, and his blog is very much worth your time. Not only that, but he pretty much caught my every pop-culture reference, no matter how obscure, and given the way I go on and on, that is pretty rare. Finally, given that he won two MTT outright (the Hundo was the other) and made a DEEP run in another during this three weeks, I think we need to admit the guy knows a thing or two about poker.

So, a hoist of the glass in honor of Mr. Craig, a gentleman and a scholar, and somebody who would arrange a FTOPS seat for a class clown like myself!

Buy his fine book, Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King, here.

Buy his excellent strategy guide, The Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide: Tournament Edition, here.

Find out about a documentary photographer also named "Michael Craig", here.

Craig's List is right here, and has nothing to do with Michael Craig.

The LOST post will be up late tonight I think. There's something a little different I want to do that will require a little research to get the voice just right.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

We've Gone Wrong

Warning: Funny Goat has left the building. Political Goat is here for some reason. Poker Goat is sleeping. Don't even look for Poker Goat.

"It's about picking a president who relies not just on words, but on work,
hard work, to get America back to work," Clinton said at a labor rally here.
"Someone who's not just in the speeches business."

I think there is a concept we may have forgotten over the past decade or so. It's an important one. It's not Hillary Clinton's fault, this collective amnesia. She appears to have succumbed to it also, but let's not fault her for that. We're all breathing the fumes, and we all have to one extent or another slipped into this fugue.

Here it is: The president does not do all the work. The president does not make all the decisions.

Our president is our leader, but our president is not our king, and our president is not our boss. Our president is our servant. Let's all remember that.

Our servant. Chosen by us. And as such, our president reflects. . . us.

Because there are so many of us, that gives the office of the Presidency great power, but let's not forget that it is our power. If anything, the president at his or her best should be the conduit for our own power, directing policy that reflects as much as possible our values and needs collectively, managing at a very high level those operations which forward those values and meet those needs, while providing us the vision and focus and opportunity to do good and meaningful work, and the inspiration to do hard and necessary things. But while the President of the United States is our nominative leader, let's remember he or she does not do all the work, nor make every decision, whatever The Decider may think.

Today, right now, our president is letting us know that if we don’t retroactively give immunity to the phone companies who helped him break the law, then it will undermine the security of the country, by making other corporations less likely to help him and future presidents break other laws. All in the name of keeping us safe.

The law that was broken is called FISA. It provides for warrants for wiretaps, and it was created as a reaction to the presidency of Richard Nixon. Nixon was driven from office because of a cover-up dealing with . . . warrantless wiretaps. That’s what this president has been doing in secret countless times, perhaps from as early as June 2001 (edited from 2000, thank you rainbow). He didn’t move to get legislation that retroactively makes this legal until it was brought kicking and screaming to light by the press, and even now this president holds that he has the right to break this law with impunity whenever he wants, as part of his executive privilege. With or without legislation.

This president clearly believes that he is above our laws. He doesn’t think he’s our servant, that’s for sure.

So what does that have to do with the quote above? Just this:

Hillary Clinton (who I'm not trying to bash) is doing a politically saavy thing. Barack Obama's speeches have been electrifying voters from Maine to Washington, and she just doesn't have that arrow in her quiver. So she's attacking him at his strength. She's trying to win, and I don't really fault her for that. Of course she's trying to win. John McCain (who I'm not trying to bash) will try to win, too, and if he's smart (and he is) he'll attack there as well. Oh wait, he already has. He knows that if he's up against Obama, than Obama will absolutely be destroying him when it comes to the spoken word. So there is a need to undercut the spoken word.

I think over the coming months, we'll often hear quotes like the one above, attempting to reduce Senator Obama to nothing but rhetoric and pretty speeches. They'll make it sound as if he just sprang from the head of Zeus nine months ago, fully formed. He's never done a lick of work in his life! He's nothing but some vocal cords, a tongue, and a suit!

But even though it's probably fairly evident that I like the guy, my intent isn't to defend Obama, not really. I'm here to defend words from this charge of powerlessness, as though words were some kind of poor second cousin in the public sphere. Even if a presidential candidate is 'only' in the business of words, what of it? So, he's only in the business of communicating vision and identity to us? In other words, he's only doing the primary work of the president?

Let's not think that words are unimportant. Words can bring opposite sides to compromise. Words can move people to action. They can change how people see the world. Words are the only vessel that can truly hold an idea, and an idea is the most powerful thing in the world. We need a new and a better idea today.

Words. Just words? What are more powerful than words?

The next question, of course is: What are these words in service of? We've been led by words all this time, even when our communicators have been (ahem) less than skilled. Our vision has often in the past been lofty, and our identity has often been noble. Lately both have been small and mean, and this is tragic.

We have become a nation that tortures, and debates the fine points of what is and what is not cruel and inhuman.

We have for the first time attacked a nation that had not attacked us.

We've ceded habeas corpus to the executive branch.

We've sat by while our president argues for legislation that will not product a 'chilling effect' on a company's willingness to help him disregard the law and the Constitution.

We have become a nation that has traded our birthright of freedom for the cold porridge of fear.

And at the center of it is this idea of the President who does all. Every decision. All the work. All the time. You don't need to be involved. In fact, it's best that you're not involved. There are things you just shouldn't know about why we're tapping your telephone. The reason Barack Obama is inspiring people isn't simply the eloquence of his words or his skill with rhetoric. It's the content of his message. This is somebody who is bringing us a message we need. It's a message of our power returning to us from the Death Star that has become the White House. It’s a message of deliberation in our legislative process, a willingness to find common ground and compromise toward the general good.

The new idea that we need today is a clear vision of unity and resolve, communicated effectively. We need to take our freedom back. We need to stop seeing ourselves as a nation divided. We must insist on defending the rights that have been ever so slyly stripped from us, even if they do make us potentially vulnerable to attack. That is true resolve. We need vision that will cause us to stop in our tracks, turn around 180 degrees, and start walking back into the light. Let's reclaim these principles of freedom and liberty that our president seems to think endanger us so.

Whether we stay in Iraq for a decade or pull out in the next 12 months . . . let's start walking back toward the light.

Whether we raise or lower taxes . . . let's start walking back.

Whether we are conservative or liberal . . . let's start walking. Republican or Democrat . . . let's start walking.

McCain, Clinton, or Obama . . . let's start walking back toward the light.

Who will lead us as we turn? Whoever it is, they'll do it with words. With ideas.

And who do you think is most likely to do this? I suspect I have my answer, and so may you. We may even have different answers, and that’s just fine. But as you make your decision, don’t forget the president as public servant.

Not boss. Not king.

Yes, the president is the top executive office, so obviously a president needs to convey more to us than words. But the president isn't going to manage to make every decision, on every detail, on the creation of every plan to solve every problem. The president is, I hope, prepared to make large, visionary, directional decisions, guided by fundamental principles, and then convince, cajole, and inspire others to move in those directions. That's leadership. When the president just does what he wants because it's what he thinks is best, no matter what, that's dictatorship.
So, Obama is untested as an executive? I suppose. Perhaps he brings a higher mandate. Perhaps his words contain the vision, the idea, which hold his greatness. Perhaps he will manage to be the servant-leader that we need after a long winter of this would-be dictator.

What do we want from our presidents? Have we decided we want another Decider? Somebody who will manage us? Do we really want somebody who finds it expedient to break the law at will, and claim they don't have to tell us why, because he knows things that we can't know? Guess what: our president isn't our daddy either. I would love to see George W. Bush to write the word 'servant' on a chalkboard, once for every illegal wiretap of a U.S. Citizen, once for every soldier in Iraq, a thousand times for every infraction of habeas corpus.

But maybe we really do want somebody who can inspire us -- inspire us, not dictate to us -- to make and shape this country ourselves? Do we, or do we not, want to empower somebody who will actually use that power to empower us?

I don't really care if you vote for Barack Obama or John McCain or Hillary Clinton or Ron Paul or Dweezil Zappa. That's not entirely true, but as you vote, consider this. Experience is a wonderful thing, when well-applied, as is hard work, as is resolve, as is character.

But vision is not a small thing. It’s the main thing.

Happy voting this year.

I'm Julius_Goat, and I approved this message.

Picking up my rubber chicken and affixing my poker jester hat once again . . .

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Goatlinks "005": You Have To "Know" Where "Garfield" Is Coming From

Git yer websites here! Git yer websites!

Michael Craig. He's still blogging, even though he's nearly $50,000 richer since I started linking him up.

The "Blog" of "Unneccessary" Quotation Marks. This site makes me "laugh."

Skit of the Week. Can I use this chair?

Garfield Minus Garfield. Sheer madness. Finally we see what Garfield has in common with Tyler Durden.

Passive Aggressive Notes. Don't click on this if you don't want to. I don't care. Some people think it's fine to read a blog post and not click the links. If that's how you want to live, that's your problem.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oh My Stars And Garters

Um, OK.

Calm down.

Calm down.


BBT3 is here, y'all. And just as BBT Original was more fun and unexpectedly generous than we ever anticipated, just as BBT2 blew us away and left the first in the dust . . . so the Trey has gone to the HNL. It's the last BBT, but cubed.

Seven seats to the WSOP? Are you freaking kidding me? SEVEN OF US ARE GOING TO THE WSOP??? Vroom, vroom. Can Full Tilt get any cooler? First they employ the multi-talented Michael Craig, and then they go and hook up this group of online scribes in a big way. Well played, Full Tilt. Well played.

There's even a writing contest, too, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing the details of that. Let's make no mistake, I was very VERY lucky to have been walloped real hard by the inspiration train last time. I was basically dealt pocket Aces. That being said, these tournament fields are going to be nothing short of redickle-dockle; I think write-in is my only valid chance once again. You guys are going to make a tough field once more, but believe me, I'll hit you with my best shot.

Elephantine props as always to Al, also Fiddy, Mook, Don, and Chad for hosting

Now, token up.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Well, first of all, Michael Craig (of Michael Craig Month fame) won the Sunday Night Horse for just under ten grand.

Congratulations, Michael!

ETA: Michael also took 3rd in the Brawl for $36K! Grand total of $45,000 in one night. Do you see what happens for you when you are being honored by The Goat Speaks? Eh? Eh?

Seriously, Michael C. Holy cow. We'll just call you butter, because you're on a roll.

I thought I'd already done this ETA before now, but I guess I forgot. Thanks for the reminder, Bayne.

But also, in a totally free pimp . . .

Hoy won the Fifty Fifty. For just under eleven grand.

Go tell Fiddy how proud you are of him.

It should also be mentioned that I totally won the $5.50 one table SNG I played last night. I mean, I just destroyed.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Michael Craig Month Continues, And Just How Cheap I Am

OK, first of all the great Michael Craig still has a blog, and you should still be reading it if you have eyes and are literate.

Next, two or three brief paragraphs on the subject of me being a total sellout. There has been at least one person (and less than two) to cast dispersions, and I don't want to name names, but his name is Waffles and he is of course the self-and-everybody-else-professed worst poker player. I even had a post up about him battling Michael Craig for his soul until I realized that he actually had more of a problem with Michael than with me, which made the whole thing non-funny to me. So, I zapped it. Anyway, in a behind the scenes, exclusive, and completely fictitious interview with Waffles I found out the real reason that he's so cheesed at the Full Tilt scribe. Apparently poor Waffles has a rare disorder that gives him the short-term memory of a yellow-tailed grackle, and he wakes up each morning, total blank slate to read MIKEY C KILLED YOUR WIFE tatooed on his chest. It's like Memento, but with worse poker play and no Carrie-Anne Moss.

So, you know, that's sad. But still, there remains the far greater issue of artistic integrity . . . Waffles has suggested that I'm a two-bit hack who will sell out his blog for a mere $129. Shocking! Nothing could be further from the truth, and I need to set the record straight. Here is the full truth, for once and for all.

I'm a much cheaper two-bit hack than that. I'll gladly sell out his blog for much much much less, depending on the circumstances. Make me an offer.

I've actually been asked privately (and most likely jokingly) if I would pimp their blog next month for $100. The answer, of course, is yes.

You want the literally fives (one glass eye) of eyeballs that I can send you each day, it's yours. Just ship the dough, baby. Of course, if I like your blog, I'll probably do this for free from time to time, but if you want to see your name in baby blue on each of my posts, just ship ship ship. Full Tilt or Stars is fine, Julius_Goat at both sites. It'll be a done deal.

Anyway, read Michael Craig, and send Waffles a coupon for tattoo removal. It's the right thing to do.

Friday, February 22, 2008

LOST 011: Dharma Box Wine, And I Don't Care


Well, what can I tell you? This is probably as good as a Kate-centric episode can possibly be. We had a nice little scene where Jack gave a lying, lying, lying testimony about how only eight of them survived, they landed in the water, he was incapacitated, and Kate was the big hero who saved them all. This was great in that it gave us more information about exactly what this false story is that the O6 is feeding the world (more on this later), but there was a more subtle point of interest. Namely (and this is according to producer's interviews from the Season 1 DVDs) this lie of Jack's was how the producers originally saw Kate's role.

Jack was supposed to die in the first episode, killed by the smoke-monster. It was supposed to be the classic audience-association bait-and-switch, in which the nominative hero was slaughtered within the first hour. The idea was to make the island seem even more dangerous, the stakes even more real. And then Kate was supposed to step in and become what the Jack character is. The leader. The good guy.

Then the producers decided they couldn't do it, for whatever reason. The corpse in the tree in the first episode became the pilot. Fine. The problem is, Kate was stranded without a developed character arc. And therein, I suspect, lies the problem with Kate.

She makes no sense.

She's a fugitive from justice, and we're meant to identify with her, but I at least can't because what people say about her is at odds with what we actually know. She insists she's wrongly accused, but then we find out that she's rightly accused. She says that everything she did was not her fault, that she's the victim of circumstance, but what do we discover? In fact, she killed her father in cold blood. She got her old boyfriend killed. She robbed a bank to get . . . um, her old dead boyfriend's toy airplane out of a safe deposit box. (Yes, that's right. You remember it, too. Don't act like you don't. Is there further meaning behind that plane? Survey says . . . XXX) She married a guy and then cut out on him because, well, because she was a wanted criminal and he was a POLICE OFFICER.

So she's not a hero, she's not falsely accused, and she has absolutely no impulse control and extremely selfish motives. This isn't a problem in and of itself; in fact, it could make her a completely fascinating character. Unfortunately, the writers and show creators don't see her like this. They've never let go of the "Kate is a hero" idea from the beginning, and that's clearly how we are meant to see her: as a hero. So we have a character that makes no emotional sense at all. More than anywhere else, it is the Kate episodes that lend credibility to critics who suspect that there is no real story, and the writers are just making it up as they go. As a result, I just don't care what happens to Kate, and further could care less whether she ends up with Jack or Sawyer or Turniphead.

Last night's episode was no different for Kate. She meets her mother, the one she loved so much she killed for. Against all odds, her mom, who had a terminal sickness before the crash, is still alive. Is Kate happy to see her? No, she feels betrayed, to the point that she won't let her dying mom see her own grandson.

That's fine, it's a valid reaction to somebody who one could see as responsible for one's situation (if, you know, you had no capacity to find fault in yourself). Except we've already seen that Kate has endangered her own life and the lives of others on multiple occasions to go visit her mother, even after her mother has betrayed her.

It just don't add up. And not in a "what a cool mystery" sort of way. More in a "how many crack rocks are they smoking when they write for Kate?" sort of way.

Nor does her acquittal add up, as much as I'm glad to see the show explaining it. OK, her mom doesn't testify, whether out of pity for her daughter or for medical reasons (it could be either, since Kate's mom didn't get what she wanted). So the star witness is gone. So what?

Does this somehow clear her of charges of destruction of property? Of evading arrest for years? Of reckless endangerment? Grand theft? How is she getting a walk? Because her airplane crashed? Is this the worst DA ever, or what?

My wife is an RN, and she can't stand to watch TV shows and movies botch medical procedures and practices. Whenever poker shows up in prime time, I think we all just kind of groan and look away. Hey lawyers! Did this episode do the same thing to you? Let me know, because it just seems completely false.

OK, now that that's out of the way . . . all the really really good stuff.

New Questions

* Is Aaron considered one of the O6? Do they count babies? We either have two more O6 to discover or one.

* Why doesn't Jack want to see Aaron? Kate may have managed to convince other people that she somehow gave birth on the island (how? Is this just part of the bubble of narrative sloppiness that seems to enshroud Kate?), but she wouldn't convince Jack. He clearly doesn't think it's Sawyer's kid. I think the reason that Jack doesn't want to see Aaron is at least part of the same reason the O6 are engaged in a conspiracy.

* Jack said there were eight survivors. Who are the two survivors not part of the O6? Why do they have to be a part of the story?

* What are the implications of Dan's amnesia/total lack of short term memory? Does that mean that when he saw Oceanic was found, it helped him remember something? If so, what?

* Are the O6 lying to protect themselves, or to protect those they left behind? While you're trying to decide, remember that it is Abbadan (the man behind the freighter, Naoimi and the rest), who was trying to get information from Hurley. In other words, the guys who are not on the island are trying to get information from the O6 about what is going on on the island. This points toward "lie to protect." We shall see.

* How on earth does being the survivor of a plane crash make Kate "one of the most recognizable people on the planet," as her lawyer claimed? Even given that lawyers change the facts to make themselves look good, how could this be a plausible claim? Am I that out of touch with what it takes to achieve international mega-stardom?

New Theories

* The fact that Ben has approximately 700 million passports means that he could easily be one of the O6. He clearly has the resources to make it seem that he was on that plane.

* Consider the possibility that ALL of the O6 are working with Ben in some way.

* I think we are going to see the death of a major, major character this season. And I think it will happen in flash forward. I think this character is the person in the coffin. By the way, I think it's Locke. Which doesn't necessarily mean that Locke will be dead in Season 5. Remember when Travolta is killed in the middle of Pulp Fiction? Didn't stop Travolta from being in most of the rest of the movie, did it? I think we're going to see more stuff like that.

* I think the next episode will open a whole can of worms.

Really Awesome Stuff

* Miles. Everything that Miles does, I love. Heeeeeeeeeeeeelarious.

* Um . . . grenade breakfast. Hoy was clearly on-point when he said that anybody who went willingly with this guy is an idiot. Notice he didn't say that it was his job to protect the people, just the island. Locke's gone totally Kurtz. Be interesting when we finally see what's pulling his strings, and he finally has his once-a-season moment of clarity.

* Metaphysical moment, as Locke brings Ben this book and Ben says "I've read it before." Locke: "You may find new things the second time." I'm pretty sure that's the writers talking to us about Lost DVDs there . . .

* It was a deja vu episode for sure. Ben locked up. Ben crawling inside Locke's skull. The triumphant return of the Sawyer specs. Backgammon, even (by the way, Sawyer picked light and Locke picked dark).

* Sawyer calling Kate out. "In about a week, Jack'll do something to piss you off and then you'll come right back to me." Tell it like it is, James. Tell it like it is.

* "Dude, did you just totally Scooby-Doo me?" Hurly is getting like 80% of the great lines so far this season.

Join us next week when we hear Miles say:



This post was brought to you by Michael Craig's blog on Full Tilt. Read Michael Craig, it's the right thing to do.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Michael Craig Is The Bee's Knees

As an annonymous poster postulated and reminded, I've been remiss in my celebration of Michael Craig Is Awesome Month, featuring Michael Craig.

There's a very good reason. I'm lame. Also, unexpectedly busy at all levels of my life. But mainly? Laaaaaaaaaaaame.

But fear not! The Michael Craig love train will not stop! I am resolute!. Without further ado (or at least only government-approved trace levels of ado) I present you with today's five reasons that Michael Craig Is Friggin' Awesome, not counting his excellent poker writing:

5) Michael Craig is a T3000 robot from an apocalyptic future. You know, one of the ones that's trying to help us.

4) Michael Craig once wrestled a grizzly bear to death on live TV. Howard Cosell was covering the event and was so impressed, he threw his underwear up on stage.

3) Michael Craig was the real life model for the character of Jean-Robert Bellande, on CBS's thrilling hit mystery drama Survivor.

2) Michael Craig was the fifth horseman of the Apocalypse, before they split for "creative differences."

1) Every single person in the state of Alaska is descended directly from Michael Craig.

Come back soon for more fun facts about Michael Craig, not to mention worksheets and paper dolls.*

* No, there won't really be paper dolls.**

** But there might be.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Stupid/System 004: Post Flop Play

There are a number of "poker secrets", heretofore only understood by top players and professionals (or "pros"), which can be applied to increase your profits tenfold.

It is the objective of this book to try to get as many of these "secrets" out of the dingy back-rooms and smoke-filled poker boxcars and right into your brain, where you can think 'em whenever you like. The problem is that many of these little tricks and traps involve a lot of complex maths, and that stuff as we all know is totally made up.

Here's one of the big ones, and it's worth committing to memory right now: You know the five cards that come out after all the money goes in? They don't come out all at once. It's true! In many cases (usually when an amateur - or noob plays badly), the first three come out before the fourth and the fifth ones. This is what is known as the flop, and when you see it, look out!

On the flop, a hand of poker becomes infinitely more complex, with texture and suits and other stuff like that, so avoid the flop at all costs. But besides the increased complexity of play, there are two huge reasons to avoid flops.

1) Remember the concept of fold equity. "Fold equity" is the name given to the concept which states, "If you fold, you have no damn equity." Well, NOTHING makes you want to fold most hands more than the flop. Just trust me on this one. If you don't believe me, check out point two:

2) The flop will reduce your outs horribly. You might want to go back and re-read the chapter on counting your outs. The main point you'll want to take away that most unconnected unsuited cards will have seventy or more outs preflop.

But imagine we took as an example the hand from that chapter, where you have [9d3s] preflop, giving you 74 outs. Your opponent had Aces, which left him with only 2 outs (the Aces) and the Broadway outs of tens through Kings for 18 outs.

In the example, you shoved all-in preflop and got unlucky. It happens, that's poker. But suppose you had just smooth-called his re-raise? Well, you'd have had yourself a flop.


So gross. Now look. All you have for outs is the three nines, the three treys, and Queen followed by 10. There are four Queens and four tens, but they have to come in sequence (this is called runner-runner), so you can only really count them as four outs. Your seventy outs just shrank to ten outs. And flops do this to you ALL THE TIME.

So what can you do to counter this?

1) Avoid flops. You can do this by simply shoving all your chips in pre-flop.

2) If somebody just calls your initial raise and you have a flop, do not hesitate to get all in as soon as possible. The next card is called the turn, and it eats away at your outs just as badly as the flop. By the time the river, or fifth card is dealt, you'll often find that you have no outs left at all.

Hand 4-1

Situation: Major online tournament, just before the second break.

Your hand: [Ac7d]

Action to you: Player A, B, and C fold. Player D raises to $3,000.

Question: Do you fold, or do you still have some self-respect, you fairy?

Answer: You have an incredibly strong hand, as it has both an Ace and a crap-ton of outs. You ought to get all-in as quickly as possible before you're behind in the hand.

Action: You actually just call the $3,000. The other players fold. The pot is $6,585.

The flop comes:


Player D pushes all-in. What do you do?

Call. Call! Are you KIDDING me? You made a huge mistake just calling instead of shoving, but you can't back down now. There's almost no outs left for you! Get your chips in before they all disappear!

There are a few more key points to make here in favor of a call. First, most flops miss most hands. This means that most flops have missed your opponent. He's probably got nothing. Secondly, you have to remember to always ask yourself: What do I hope my opponent has? Here it is obviously sensible to hope he has T9, and is therefore dead to a nine. The final point is, even if you lose all your money, the pros on Full Tilt are friendly and generous, and will be happy to transfer you $5.00 if you ask. Try Michael Craig.

Action: You call, and your opponent shows 8d8s. The turn and the river don't help you and you lose the hand.


So gross.

So $%5E&$^ing gross.

Poker is so stupid. Why can't I beat these donkeys JUST ONCE WHY CAN'T I BEAT THESE DONKEYS???

Hey, can I borrow $5?

[Excerpted from Stupid/System: Poker Strategy For Huge Donkeys, (c) Julius_Goat 2008, All Rights Reserved. Cover design by Mookie "Big O" Pokeroum.]

Friday, February 15, 2008

LOST 010: Choosing Sayids


Booom. There were some serious developments and implications about backbiters and syndicators in last night's episode, in the middle of a somewhat blah subplot about Sayid playing twinkle-toes with a woman whose features just never lined up right. Just when you thought she was hot, she'd unleash Austin Powers teeth. Let's call her Piccassa.

Let's get the big lumber out of the way first, shall we? The main issues and revelations, in ascending order of importance, as I perceive it:

Dead Girl Gets a Ride: Really? Sayid nominates The Corpse of Naomi for what may be the one and only trip off Death Island of Friggin' Mystery, and nobody else has something to say about this? Like, "hey, why not me?" What does it mean? I think it means that Sayid has a deeper reason for bringing Naomi back, and it's more than just respect for the dead (though that may be a factor; this episode reminded us he's a religious man).

The Moving Shack: Unless this is Howl's Moving Castle, I think Locke has some Jacob/Walt/Smokemonster problems. I also think it is likely that the cabin is the "Magic Box" that Ben told Locke about last season. What does it mean? I think it means either the cabin can't just be summoned like a tame lion, or Locke is on the outs once again with the island, or it really has moved it's physical location, or it just won't appear to so many people. I think that last one is closest. It's there when it wants to be there, and it's not when it doesn't. Either way, not good news for Locke. Great line from Ben: "He's looking for somebody who can tell him what to do next." Successful needler is successful. Locke, ya burnt. Also, quite the contrast from Sayid, who doesn't need anybody to tell him what to do next. More on this later.

The Bracelet: Who is R.G.? And is Elsa wearing a similar bracelet? I think the answers are "we have no idea" and "yes." I figure RG will become a major player (might be the 'economist' of the title, Sayid's target and Elsa's boss), but for now I have no speculation. As for the similarity of the bracelets, it simply means that Elsa is tied to Naomi. Same boss? Same organization? In any event, I'd warrant they are both affiliated with the same organization as the "rescue", and they are the likely targets of Sayid's killing spree.

The Ben Identity: Ben's got quite the stash in his forbidden closet of secrets, doesn't he? All that currency, all that money, all those passports . . . what does it mean? It means that Ben can come and go from the island as he pleases, I think, or at least he could until the 'purple sky event.' I'm guessing that stopped him for some reason, or he wouldn't have needed Jack to help him with his little tumor. We still are going to need a Ben-back or two to flesh this out.

I think it's pretty clear that Ben is the Oceanic Six's way back to the island.

The Deal: "Why would I give you Charlotte for nothing?" asked Locke, and Sayid demurred that he had no intention of offering nothing. Doooooooom! Commercials! When we get back, we discover that in fact Sayid has exchanged Miles for Charlotte, which is hilariously OK with Miles associates because he is such a hmmm, how to say it? He'd have gotten his chat banned, OK?

But I don't think that's what Sayid offered. Why?

1) Locke already had Miles. How is Sayid going to offer what he doesn't have?

2) Sayid is very suspicious by nature, and he's usually right. He's got to be hip by now that this 'rescue' is nothing of the kind, and the people involved are not to be trusted at all. This alligns him much more closely with Locke than with Jack.

What does that mean? I think Sayid's offer is to switch sides. I think he flipped, and when he returned, he returned on a different side.

I think it means that, as the helicopter flies out, Ben's not the only one with a man on the boat anymore. Sayid's going to scope out the situation, but not for the Jack-tion, or at least not entirely for them. He's going for Locke, too. He may not have come back to the island before he becomes known as one of the "Oceanic Six." It may be that his snooping led him all the way back to the mainland, where he's still trying to dig to the bottom of the situation . . .

Rockets & Clocks & Trajectories, Oh My: The clock is 30 minutes behind! The clock is 30 minutes behind! And our good little skeevy buddy Dan is really really flustered with mustard about it.

I've been saying for like forever that the question is, "When is the island?" Now I think we have our proof. That missile came from a boat that is of a different time than this island. I think that it is pretty obvious now that the island isn't just difficult to find geographically, but chronologically. Why else is Dan so adament that Grizzly McChopper take the exact same trajectory? I think if you don't, you find yourself in the wrong place and the wrong time.

What does it mean? My guess is that the island is a kind of chronological/dimensional hub. Different paths from it lead to different locations entirely . . . And maybe in some of them, Jack's dad is still alive? I'm telling you one last time, let's not make the mistake of thinking that the Oceanic Six actually got home just because they got off the island.

Matter of fact, this means the writers could do some fun things like . . .

Don't assume there is only one "Oceanic Six". There was certainly nothing to connect the Sayid timeline to the Jack/Hurley/Kate one.

Don't assume there is only one Ben.

Don't assume there is only one . . . well, anybody, really. Except, I now suspect, Walt. It all reminds me of The Talisman, a novella by Peter Straub and the oft-LOST-referenced Stephen King. It's about soft places in the dimensions, where everybody has a 'twinner' or a mirror self (through the looking glass, anybody), except for one boy who has to go on a quest to save his mother, and everything in both dimensions. That boy only lives in this world. His mirror died as an infant. As a result, he has the ability to pass between the worlds.

That boy's name? Jack Sawyer.

OooooooooooooooOOOOOoooooh . . ..

Sayid's Boss: Well, there it is. Sayid is working for Ben, who seems to be back to the cat-bird seat again. He's killing for the guy, and it's entirely unclear whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. For what it's worth, there's no way that Ben is one of the O6. But Desmond probably is.

That makes the likely lineup: Jack, Hurley, Kate, Sayid (for sure). Probably Sawyer and Desmond. Maybe Michael instead of one of those.

But there may be more than one O6. Let's not forget that.

Let's also take a moment to appreciate Sayid, probably the most under-rated character on the show. With all the back and forth for leadership between Jack and Locke, I've always wondered why the most resourceful, practical, and sensible person, not to mention the least easily distracted (that's Sayid) hasn't been in charge. This is the episode where I realized that he actually is in charge. He never asks permission for his actions, he always just does what he thinks needs to be done. Alone among the crash survivors, he's the only one who doesn't need leadership, and thus doesn't look for it. He's the guy you most want with you on a mission. He's the professor, and Jack and Locke are just arguing over who has the Gilligan hat and who has the Skipper hat. (Sawyer is Ginger, of course.) He's not the Economist of the title, but he always knows what the math is, and he almost always makes the right play.

His weakness, if it is one, is that he loves too quickly, which makes him vulnerable. If you followed the ending dialogue, it's how Ben gets his hooks into the guy.

Join us next time when we hear Sun say:

"Seriously. Am I still on this show?"

"Also: Read Michael Craig."


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Goatlinks 004: Michael Craig and Superman

Here we go, I've been gone too long. Webby goodness, served fresh.

Michael Craig - Go read this guy. Not only did he hook me up, but he's one of the best, most original poker writers out there.

Stupid Comics Covers - If you haven't seen this site and you're a comics geek, do yourself a favor. Here's the next 6 hours of your life.

The Editing Room - Abridged scripts. Movies distilled to their idiotic essence.

Game of the Week. Sonny. You know how you've always wanted to be a zombie gunslinger? Well, now you can!

Sketch of the Week - It was Citizen Kane! It was Citizen Kane! It was Citizen Kane! IT WAS CITIZEN KANE!!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Two Pair Is Fool's Gold

OK, taking off my Stupid/System hat for a moment to focus on a bit of actual poker strategy. This probably isn't an issue for you, but for me it is half revelation, and half reminder. Here it is:

If a card makes your hand stronger, it still hasn't improved unless it is likely to be ahead of the range of your opponent(s).

I played FTOPS #8 yesterday, freerolling thanks to Michael Craig. I went out in ten hands. It's not exactly the highlight of my poker career. I went out with Aces and Queens on a cooridinated board. At the time I debated whether I had made a mistake calling the all in on the turn, but now I know better. I goofed on the turn, but it wasn't by calling while I was pot committed.

Let me back up. The hand I played right before my busto hand I had Aces, and I really love the way I played it. The result stunk, but the play was great, and, more to the point, it illustrates how I misplayed the next hand.

Here's the setup.

I have AA in middle position, I raise 2.5 to feed the pot but hopefully get a caller. I get one caller. Pot's about 130, the flop is TTx. I bet about 100, and he calls. The turn is a nine.

So what can I put him on?

We may be tied, but that's unlikely enough to just dismiss. It comes down to this: Either he's way ahead (he has a Ten, 99, or 33), or he's way behind (he has a pair lower than AA, maybe even two overcards). If he's way ahead, I want the pot small. If he's way behind, I want him to think he's ahead. A check accomplishes both of those objectives. He will bet out with the best hand or maybe even the worst hand. If he bets out, I'll call, but at least if I am beat I'm not calling a much larger re raise. With the check, I control the pot size.

My opponent checks behind me. At this point I figure I'm ahead. River is a Jack, which means there's a possible straight out there and also JJ just got there. I'm not too wary, but I am a little wary. However, I figure I'm probably still ahead. I value-bet 150 into a 330 pot, and he min. raises me to 300. Now I am suspicious that I'm beat especially with that min. raise. It looks like he's just begging for a push, but I just have 150 more to call to win 630, so it's an easy call.

I call, he has JJ and basically caught a miracle river. What statistically is usually a win is now a loss, but I have effectively controlled pot size. I don't think I get the guy off of Jacks there, even if I'm betting. I'm pretty surprised that we didn't have fireworks preflop, at which point I'd have either made him fold or I'd have lost to a horrible river beat, but he just called with his Jacks.

OK, next hand AQd, and I raise it 4x, because with AQ in early position I'm happy enough if everybody folds even though my hand's likely best at a 6 seat table. However, I get two calls and the pot is 360. Flop is KQ2 with two spades and no diamonds. I bet 200 to make chasing the flush a bad idea and to see if there is a King out there. Both opponents call, and I'm pretty much done with the hand, but the turn is an Ace.

The pot is 1060. I have Aces up. What should I do?

Here's what I did. I bet 700 into that pot, leaving me 900 chips left. That was a big mistake. My mistake was in thinking my hand had improved. It had in theory, but had it really? I had started with Queens on a King high board. Two calls of a reasonable bet on that flop. I was beat.

Now I have top pair and third pair. Does that mean I just got better? What's calling 4x preflop and then a bet on the flop, that I could have just moved ahead of?

Here's the list: KQ, KJ, KT from a real loose player.

The other likely hands are JT suited (not a long shot for 4x preflop in my opinion), AK, KK, QQ and AA, maybe 22. All of those had me crushed on the flop and still have me crushed, excpet for JT, which I was ahead of on the flop but which is now the nuts.

So, again. Improving your hand is only improving if you're likely to have pulled ahead. And I think two pair is the hand that traps the most people into this. Two pair's awesome, but nothing is more easily counterfeited, and it's only one bump up the ladder from a pair. Most strong hands beat it and a boat is a long shot.

I needed to take a lesson from myself, one hand before, where I had a much stronger hand but still managed to remember to control the pot size. I believe should have check to get information and then faced either a tough call or a tough laydown.

So, I bet 700, making me pot committed or close to it. Cally McCallerston called, of course, and then madmax, certainly delighted that I'd done his work for him, raised all in. With nearly 6000 in the pot and only 900 chips left I decided I couldn't find a fold, but I felt pretty sick about it. Of course Cally McPotSweetener folded with 400 chips left, so I suppose he thought he was playng Razz, or Monopoly perhaps.

Sometimes improving isn't improving a bit. Words to live by.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Donkey Is A Goat: Live Blogging FTOPS Event 8

Alright, in case you hadn't heard, I won my way into FTOPS #8 via a writing contest hosted by Michael Craig. I figure if writing got me here, why pay attention to my game? I'll just sit and write, occasionally checking my hole cards and always twirling, twirling, twirling toward victory.

But back to the contest. Michael Craig, the blogger-in-residence over at Full Tilt, as well as the author of this universally loved poker book, not to mention the editor on this excellent strategy guide, offered up one (later changed to two) seats into the FTOPS Event #1 to whosoever emailed him with the best reason that they should be the recipient. The very event I was planning on playing! For free? How about yeah. I sent him something dull, then forgot about it. Then he foolishly let it slip that multiple entries would be allowed, and I stuffed the ballot box with my silly jokes.

Michael went with American Idol and boobs for his winning entries. (This leads me to a follow up question: If you have boobs, why aren't you winning more contests? Remember this: boobs=contest wins, as well they should.) Anyway, Mr. Craig made his picks, and fine picks they were. But then he went the extra mile and hooked up . . . me, with a prize that he made up for the sole purpose of hooking me up for my scribbling, or maybe just to stop the constant influx my marginally funny brain scrapings. He didn't have to, but he did, and I'm quite grateful. That pretty much makes Michael Craig my guardo camino, which is Greek slang for "main home-skillet." And thus kicks off the first of three weeks in what remains of Michael Craig month.

You had me at "free money", Michael Craig. You had me at "free money."


Live Blogging It:

9:47: About four hours before the opening bell, which is coincidentally how much sleep I've had in the past 48 hours. I think my baby is teething.

11:00: Other bloggers in this event include: BoneDaddy and cracknaces. Anybody else? Let me know if you're reading this and know of others.

1:47: Over 5300 runners. It's entirely possible this thing will fill up. Madness. I guess I should take a moment here to go over my game plan for this thing. I intend to try something that has worked well for me in the past. I'm going to basically try very early to get lucky, then I'll try to get lucky in the middle levels, as we approach the bubble I'm going to shift gears and try to get really really lucky, and then once in the money I intend to sit back and get quite lucky indeed. Let's see how that goes for me.

1:57: Aaaaand we're full. SIX THOUSAND RUNNERS people. SIX THOUSAND RUNNERS. Um, I think Tilt managed to make their guarantee.

2:00:Shuffle up and deal. Let me introduce you to my starting table:

pukewang: Believes that the world will end in fire. Also, he has a pukewang. Don't ask to see it.

Ness35: Believes that the world will end in ice.

Nide: Believes that world will end somewhere in Newark.

butch4343: Believes that inside of his cranium are small deposits of a heretofore undiscovered element, which, when properly reduced to liquid form, will allow us to explore outer space together in peace and harmony, and also provide us with unlimited supplies of beef jerky.

madmax79: Believes in fairies, but still wouldn't clap for Tinker Bell. Peter Pan has vowed to pop a cap in him. Long story.

Julius_Goat: Doesn't believe any of this. By the way, this thing is paying out like 5%, probably because of the size of the field. On top of that it's prime Euro time, KO and 6 Max. This could be the biggest minefield EVER.

2:24: And . . . I'm out. I caught Aces and Ness35 caught a Jack on the river, beating me with his Jacks. Somehow I only lost 1,o00 chips there. The very next hand I raised with AQ and butch and madmax called. Flop was 2KQ and I made it a little more than half pot. Both of them called. and the pot was around 900. The turn was an Ace, giving me Aces up. I made it 700 and butch smooth called, while madmax pushed all in. I decided I couldn't find a fold given the structure and holding a strong hand, and considering how much I'd already put in, so I called. Butch folded with 400 chips left! Thanks for sweetening the pot, Butch! madmax had JT for the nuts and I didn't boat up. GG me.

Honestly, this is the second best case scenario. Playing 6 hours to make the bubble or the small money would be pretty rough. However, the first case scenario is much much MUCH better than the second case scenario. I'm very disappointed.

Go get those scalps, Michael, and thanks for the opportunity. Thanks to those who railed, however briefly. Sorry this was such a fizzle.

6:20: Looks like we're down to about 400 now. I know you're all really, extremely proud of me for what I was able to accomplish in those 10 hands I played, but for me what it comes down to is: 5,750th place is just 5,749th loser.

Also, in 10 hands, 250 players went out. This thing was the poker version of the Normandy scene in Saving Private Ryan. I think I played the part of "Infantryman in the Water #83."


Friday, February 8, 2008

LOST 009: Four Freighties And A Funeral


Holy crap, they're giving us answers? Right away? Pardon me while I sit down, I've got the vapors.

New Questions, Fresh Off The Chopper

* Why was Dan so upset? That is, since he didn't know why he was so upset, what was making him upset? My guess? He's an empath.

* Dan said, "The light just doesn't scatter quite right here." What on earth did that mean?

A) Computer simulation?
B) Different planet?
C) Different epoch in time?
D) They're in an underwater bubble?
E) Dan's on drugs?

Whatever it meant, it wasn't a throwaway line, and it was definitely one of the big clues of the night.

* Why aren't the people on the island and everybody around him not a LOT more skeeved out that Dan is played by Jeremy Davies, whose every single character have either been a) creepily ineffectual; b) ineffectually creepy; c) creepy; or d) had sex with his mothe-AW MAAAN I DON'T WANT TO WATCH THIS.

* Why would a news channel show footage inside Fauxceanic 815 and then, having done that, just linger and linger and linger and linger and linger and linger and linger and linger and linger on the finger the finger the finger the finger of the pilot? I don't think this is a clue or anything, I just thought it was dumb.

* There was a Dharma hydra patch and a polar bear fossil out in the desert. Why? Hmm, let me return to that.

* Miles can hear ghosts. What is the island going to be like for Miles? Honey bunches of ghosts. I'm hoping they develop this further.

* Right now I really want a breakdown of the various organizations. There's at least two, because there is Dharma, and then there is Mittelos (anagram for Lost Time), who was funding Ben after he, um, killed everybody in Dharma. This organization that's come to get him could be Mittelos, or Dharma, or some other group.

New Information, and a Whole Lot of It

* Locke doesn't know what the smokemonster is.

* Ben doesn't either, or he REALLY doesn't want to tell what the smokemonster is. Also, he can take a punch to the face like nobody else. He's going to want to take an Asprin is all I'm saying.

* Apparently in the world of Lost, Walt being taller is actually going to be a plot point instead of just being played off. They still haven't explained how 3 month old Turniphead is 30 lbs.

* Locke's still shot. OUCH.

* There was sure enough a faked Oceanic crash. There are two planes. One of them is intact (which . . . why would nobody call bullshit there? Even if a plane hit the water, would it stay in one piece? The pilot would stay in his seat? I need a ruling on that one.)

* Naomi was the only member of the new team worth anything in a crisis. Ooops. Also, she ain't got a sister.

* There is an organization and Abbadan is a bigwig amongst them. He has a very large, very empty office. They know a lot about the island, the crash survivers, and they know there are other people on the island.

* When Abbadan said, "Are they still alive?" he may well not have been referring to the Losties. He may be talking about his team, and Ben.

* The team came to get Ben. Theories as to why? How about the time he totally killed the entire Dharma initiative? That's my current operational theory. Either that, or it's the purple sky event, and whatever that meant. One thing for sure, they didn't come for him because he has a man on their boat. That's a lie, or at least a half truth. He may well have a plant on the boat, but that's not why they came to get him. Think about it.

"We're going on a mission to get Ben."
"Because he has a man on our boat."
"Which boat?"
"The boat we're sending . . . um, on the mission."
"The mission to get Ben?"
"So the mission is to get Ben. Because he will have a man on the boat we're sending to get him because he'll have a man on the boat that we send?"
"I'm going to go watch Heroes."

* It now seems more clear why there are only six rescue-ees. Not enough gas, they can't spare the weight of a body. But if so, why take Hurley? He weighs seven Naomis.

Theories and Random Clutter

* Wow, it's a brand new day for Lost, isn't it? If this was Season 2, they'd have spent an entire episode introducing each member of the team, maybe two episodes for Dan, then another two getting to the helicopter,(along with an filler episode in there about Sawyer and . . . oh let's say Jin, looking for his lucky coin), and then maybe another one revealing that Abbadan was a part of it, and then we'd get the episode where they revealed they wanted Ben. All in one hour this time, kids.

* Jack's a Moron moment: Giving Miles the phone, and then just letting him stroll away. WHAT????

* Locke's a Moron moment: "Besides his mouth, he's completely harmless." WHAT???? At least Sawyer called him on that one.

* Locke: "I'm operating under Walt's orders. He's taller now." Sawyer's Face: "Damn. Why do I always choose the crazy team?"

* My guess for who the next revealed member of Oceanic Six (which would make a great name for a jazz/soul ensemble) is . . . Michael. Hopefully he has a line beyond "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLT!!"

* Miles is probably the most awesome new character since Ben. He and Sawyer and Ben can have a sarcasm-off.

* "Well, what does taller Walt's ghost say?" Line of the night.

* Hey, remember all those Others than Ben was traveling with before he went to get "captured" by Jack? Let's not forget them. The show is trying to make us think that Ben's the last Other or something. There was a whole tribe of them that didn't get killed at the beach. All the kids, and Teresa the stewardess, and Richard Never-age, and a bunch more. Where they at?

* You know what's AWESOME? For anybody landing on the island now, Locke and his group would pretty much seem exactly like the Others seemed to the Losties in Season 1. The Oceanics are becoming the Others. Cooooooool.

* OK, the archeological dig. The hydra patch. The polar bear fossil. This was the big reveal of the night, I've got no doubt. Remember, I've been saying all along that the question is not "where are they", but "when are they". Remember, the trip to the island is a boppitty-bumpitty ride. You need to be sedated, even. I think Charlotte found the island in that dig. If we have time travel or a temporal nexus, we can have people seeing people after their deaths. We can have people who don't age. I'm just saying consider it. No only that, but the lady who found the Dharma patch there? Her name is Charlotte Staples Lewis. Weird middle name, right? That's a direct shout out to Clive Staples Lewis, C.S. Lewis for short, the Christian apologist most famous for writing The Chronicles of Narnia. Both that series and his Space Trilogy have books featuring what? People from our reality spirited away to another dimension/planet, and an Edenic garden paradise that has been infiltrated by a horrible evil presence . . .

My "Time Travel / Garden of Eden Theory" is still in effect until further notice.

Join us next time, when we hear Claire say:

"But it's my only line!"


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Mad Props

That's right, everybody. I have props. They are mad. Some of them are very angry indeed. Some are only a little pissy. Here they are.

First, completely enraged props to Michael Craig, who, as many of you noticed, convinced his Uncle Tilty to let me into Full Tilt Event #8, $129 NLHE KO. So that's two Full Tilt writing contests, two scores. Maybe my skillset isn't cards. If you want me, I'll be out on the street with the WILL WRITE FOR POKER sign. Mr. Craig was gracious enough to chat with me during FTOPS #1 last night, and he even wrote up this totally gratuitously nice post about my entries on the main Tilt blog (and welcome if you're here for the first time). To have a writer whom I respect saying such things about me? Let's just say I'm taking egocontin* by the handful as we speak so I won't be totally insufferable. To hold up my end of the agreement for my entry, I'll be live blogging the event, and Febrary 10-29 will be "Michael Craig 3 weeks" over here.

Second, furious and wrathful props to Mookie. A little story about Mookie. I hit him in the chatty box on Sunday, and asked him if he'd be willing to do me a huge favor and whip up a Stupid/System cover. On Monday he sent over small, medium, and large, and they were AWESOME. Mookie's the man, people.

Third, fuming livid props to the BDR crew, Astin, Jeciimd, and I Hope I'm Not Forgetting You, for railing me in my futile effort to wade through 5,200 runners in FTOPS #1 last night. Yow. At least my connection didn't go out this time. Instead I just made modest pots, played small ball, stayed alive until nearly the third break, at which point I lost a race. We weren't near the bubble, but with a double, I might have sniffed the bubble. GG me.

Fourth, slightly irritated props to Poker Peaker, who left an encouraging comment the other week and added me to his blogroll. He quickly added that this was not a quid pro quo deal and he didn't expect me to add him to mine in return.

Too bad, Peaker. I'm adding you. Also, I'm adding anybody who is linked to me. Let me know if you are and you get linked.

Fifth, there is no fifth.

*Egocontin is not for nursing mothers or people in states ending in 'y'. Side effects include: The dropsy, the mopsy, the floating cottontail, the jimmy legs, festering stool, angry chicken, hair loss, memory loss, loss of car keys, crocodile skin, Michael Bay movies, elbow lumps, and 'the gooch.' Consult your physician before taking egocontin.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Stupid/System 003: Counting Outs

One thing that separates top players is the ability to quickly calculate the odds of winning a hand, and to construct a reasonable idea of what sort of bet that hand is worth. You also must be able to master this skill if you wish to be a successful player in the long-term.

For example, a lot of players, facing a big re-raise will simply fold their hand unless they are holding a large pocket pair or Big Slick (which is awesome poker slang for Ace King). Not so fast! Here’s a simple fact that you may not know: A folded hand has NEVER won a pot. It’s true! Think about it! There have probably been thousands of hands folded in the history of poker (some of them have probably even been yours), and not one of them has ever scooped a single chip. Every time you fold, you’re just bleeding equity all over the place, and I just had the carpets cleaned. So knock it off.

The bottom line is, don’t be so quick to just throw that hand away. First, it’s important to count your outs and weigh the true strength of your hand.

Hand 3-1

Situation: A large field MTT online, a few minutes before the first break. You have been playing totally awesome and have nearly 10,000 chips. Player F is a total donkey and has barely played more than five hands. The lucksack caught a set one time and won a lot of chips.

Your hand: [9d3s]

Action to you: Player A folds.

Question: Do you raise a lot or just a little?

Answer: You have a pretty good hand, especially if the flop is like A33 or something, so you definitely want to play. That said, I don’t think you want to go all-in yet. Just make it about 500 to go.

Action: You make it 500. Players C, D, and E fold. Player F raises to 1200. The pot is now 1850. What do you do?

At this point, you have to use your powers of observation. First of all, Player F is a total rock, so he’s probably got Queens or better, or at least Ace King. An inexperienced player might be tempted to fold here.

Stop. Breathe. Count your outs.

You have a diamond and a spade, so those suits help bring you flushes. So count twelve diamonds and twelve spades for 24 outs.

Threes and nines help you, obviously. There are three of each, so that’s six more outs.

Aces, deuces, fours through eights, and tens through Kings all help make you a straight. There are four of each of these, so that’s 44 more outs. You have to count those spades and diamonds again, because of the potential for a straight flush.

So you have 74 outs. Now remember there are five cards on the flop, so you have to multiply by 5, and you see that you have 370% equity in this hand. Since you are only being asked to call 700 more into a pot of 1,800, you are getting 700:1800 on your money. Therefore you clearly have the pot odds you need to play this hand. Also, were you observant enough to see that your opponent caught a monster set the last hand he played? He’s not getting lucky again. Also, even if he happens to luck out on you, you still have almost 2,000 chips left. Just push all in.

Action: You push all-in, and Player F calls. He shows Aces, and you make a pair of threes on the flop and two pair on the river. Player F [Observer] berates you; he clearly doesn’t understand the finer points of pre-flop play. Also, it’s just $10. The dude really should relax. Seriously.

You can see in this example that folding would have been a costly move. It’s not just the chips you’d have lost from your initial bet. It’s the chips you wouldn’t have won.

[Excerpted from Stupid/System: Poker Strategy For Huge Donkeys, (c) Julius_Goat 2008, All Rights Reserved. Cover design by Mookie "Big O" Pokeroum.]

Saturday, February 2, 2008

For The Patriot Haters

I guess that would be the "Hatriots".

I should say right off the bat that I am pretty much neutral about the upcoming Super Bowl. As a contrarion, I tend to side with the underdog. As a casual observer, a 19-0 season would be kind of cool. As a Lions fan, I'm pretty much incapable of feeling anything but pain. Thus: neutral.

But the cheating thing. It's out there. No questions about it. It taints the Patriots' season. It is the taint of their season.

With that in mind, while browsing the DubyaDubyaDubya, I came across this from ESPN golden boy, Pats fan of note, and noted poker donkey Bill Simmons. He was comparing the difficulty of a perfect NFL season to the difficulty of a perfect season in Madden.

He wrote:
Have I ever gone undefeated without cheating, hitting the RESET button,
dropping down to an easier level or turning off the button that allows the
invisible "Madden" commissioner to reject lopsided deals? Never. Not once. I've
always had to bend the rules to do it.

Um . . . I don't think he meant to say it like that.

But, yeah.

Friday, February 1, 2008

LOST And Poker 008: Won't Anyone Think Of The Guavas?


Now that is what I'm talking about.

The last two seasons, we've kicked off with an opening sequence that focuses on a character we've never seen before, which allowed a kind of slow development, but also raised anxiety that the show was going to just noodle along until it finally crawled up it's own mythological dill-hole and died there, X-Files style.

Not so much for Season Four, which kicked off with Hurleybird just murdering a bunch of innocent guavas. It was nothing but pure forward motion from there. This was a top-shelf episode.

What We Know

* Jorge Garcia turned in an excellent performance. Add him to the pile of great performances in Lost.

* The flash-forward is clearly a master-stroke of story-telling. Look what it has done to the pacing, to the story, to the mythology. It's effectively turned the entire structure (incidents from the castaway's troubled past reflects on present day action) on its head, just as that structure was getting moldy. Seriously, how many more times were we going to figure out that Jack was a fixer and Kate ran from her problems? We know these characters by now, and it was time to move on. I am beyond impressed with Lost's writers for this one.

* More brilliance. Let's take just one line and unravel it.

"Don't you know who I am? I'm one of the Oceanic Six!"

Look what that does. First, it gives. It tells us that there are six known survivors, which means that with Jack, Kate, and Hurley we now know half. Second, it expands. Who are the other three? What about all the others? For that matter, what about all The Others? Finally, as the episode unspools, it explodes, deepening the mystery. Some go with Locke, some go with Jack. People from both camps wind up being 'rescued' as a part of the Oceanic Six. Hurley obviously is not happy off island. There's little doubt that those coming to get them are bad mofos; Ben's got me convinced. So why does he think it was a mistake to go with Locke? What is about to happen?

* Let's talk Locke. Locke says to the whole group, "I have a lot of explaining to do." The understatement of the year, and not likely to be topped. I think it is now clear that he knows things about the island that nobody else does, and that includes us, the viewers. I think at some point we're due for a flashback to Locke, on the island, where we get the full picture of his understanding of the island, and what drives him. Remember the very first episode, when the happy music cuts away to eerie silence and a closeup of Locke, and we realize that this guy's a little spooky? Remember his first encounter with the smoke monster in like Episode 4? We never have seen what happened there, but I bet Locke had a revelation. Remember how he wanted to be caught by the Smoke monster at the end of Season 1, saying it was the island testing him. I think when we know what Locke knows, we'll know what the island is, where it is, and I think that will send us scrambling back to our DVDs, because I think that will change everything we know. Anybody else notice that Locke is 100% healed from a fatal gut-shot?

Island Fun Facts:

* We see dead people. Also, lamely, horses.

* We hear dead people. Whisper whisper? Remember?

* At least one extremely powerful shadowy entity has conducted behavioral experiments here.

* At least one extremely powerful shadowy entity is trying to find the place.

* Four toed statue. Just saying.

* Allegedly impossible to navigate out by boat (see Desmond).

* The Others get there through a submerged station. Somehow, key radio jamming equipment is placed down here. Figure that out.

* Somehow we got Locke's dad there. Chokey-chokey-chokey-chokey blarrrr..

* A one-engine airplane that took off from Nigeria landed there. Thankfully, it killed Boone.

* Electromagnetic something or other.

* Mad healing properties.

* Smoke-monster. Jacob. Smoke-monster/Jacob?

* The color of the sky is controlled by an ignition key. Yeah, that's normal.

At this point we have to assume the island is grounds for experiments and the site of something supernatural and ancient.

Random Thoughts

* The Six are engaged in a conspiracy of silence regarding the other people on the island. They clearly don't want the island to be found. Hurley claims to have not known Ana Lucia. Jack wants to make sure Hurley hasn't spilled the beans.

* By the way, what would make six people who survived a plane wreck be more than 15-minute celebrities? Signing autographs? What? Either this is just a nice detail that will make sense as we see more of what this world is that the Six are in (I'm not convinced it's actually the 'home world'), or it's just a sour note in a great episode.

* Creepiest line of the night: "Are they still alive?" Well done, Lost casting director, for finding the scariest person in the world. Character's name? Matthew Abaddan. Just a literary/Biblical reference, or a hint to the character's true nature?

* Runner-up creepiest line of the night. "I think it wants us back." What is 'it'? The island, or something else?

* Locke is apparently hanging around Jacob's Shack of Unbelievable Creepyness now. Inside with him? Jack's dad. Thirteen years ago, when the last episode aired, I wrote:
"You go upstairs and get my father," screams DruggyJack (and great job by Matthew Fox, another actor from the show who reached his peak this season, in seeming like he'd taken a Jim-Morrison-level dose of pills). 'Get my father?' Your father who is dead? Whose coffin you were transporting when Oceanic 815 went down? Go get him? Reeeeeeally . . . .

So, Jack's father is still alive. Or 'alive'. Charlie shows up, and I don't think he's meant entirely as a hallucination. We've seen Locke's father pulled out of nowhere. We have at least one character who doesn't age. We've got Eko having visions of his brother. Let's not assume anybody we've seen die is really dead. In fact, let's not assume that there are only Six that got off the island. In fact, let's not assume they are actually off the island. Let's assume nothing.

* My Guess For The Six: Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sawyer, Michael, Locke. Ben is out, because it is the "Oceanic Six", not the "Oceanic Five and One Creepy Dude Who Looks Kind Of Like Gollum". Michael or Locke could be in the coffin. Hope it's not Locke.

Join us next time, when we hear Jin say:

"I still don't know what happened to Charlie, you know."