Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When your Aces get all crack-y
Don't do dumb chatbox attacky
And this'll help things turn out for the best...

And...always look on the bright side of cards
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo whoo hoo hoo hoo
Even if your whole table is composed of LAGtards
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo whoo hoo hoo hoo

If your luck seems jolly rotten
There's something you've forgotten
And that's to never limp your pocket Kings.
When you're feeling in the dumps
Don't be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle - that's the thing.

And...always look on the bright side of LOL Donkaments
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo whoo hoo hoo hoo
Because when the ISD fills laughter is your only defense,
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo whoo hoo hoo hoo

For razz is quite absurd
Busting out's the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow.
Forget about your sin - give the entire rail a grin
Enjoy it - it's your last chance anyhow.

So always look on the bright side of card death
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo whoo hoo hoo hoo
Just before your opponent out-draws your heart from your chest
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo whoo hoo hoo hoo

Poker's a piece of shit
When you look at it
Life's a laugh and blogs are a joke, it's true.
You'll see it's all a show
Drop the hammer as you go
Just remember that the last drop is on you.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand . . .

Always look on the bright side of chops.
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo whoo hoo hoo hoo
Let's be happy that at least someone will come out on top

(Come on guys, cheer up!)

And always look on the bright side of cards
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo whoo hoo hoo hoo

Always look on the bright side of cards
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo whoo hoo hoo hoo

(Worse things happen in Vegas, you know.)

Always look on the bright side of cards
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo whoo hoo hoo hoo
(I mean - what have you got to lose?)

Whoo hoo, whoo hoo whoo hoo hoo hoo
(You know, your talent started at nothing - it ended at nothing.
What have you lost? Nothing!)

Always look on the right side of life...

Wait for it . . .

Wait for it . . .


Friday, April 25, 2008

LOST 017: Plot Without My Daughter


They've changed the rules on us. Well, no. But they've clarified the rules mightily, though, haven't they? And, in typical LOST fashion, they've open a whole can of What The Sam Hell??? at the same time.

I will explain. No, there is no time. I will sum up.

First, this was one of the great episodes, and likely to be one of the top ten episodes when the whole thing wraps. Certainly it is pivotal in redrawing the boundaries of the central LOST conflict. As the cards shuffle, we are discovering to what a large extent this is Ben's story.

Since this was a top-notch, Grade A+ episode of television, let's start with the stuff that didn't quite work.

First, the pure comedy of Sawyer's heroic charge, which I will now recap for you.


SAWYER: Stay inside!





RANDOM DUMMY #3 [Running out of the house] Good idea Sawyer! I'll go right insi --- [RANDOM DUMMY #3 gets TOTALLY AND IMMEDIATELY KILLED BY PINPOINT PRECISE SHOOTING]

[SAWYER doesn't go INSIDE. Instead, SAWYER runs accross an EMPTY LAWN and takes cover behind a TWO FOOT HIGH PICKET FENCE. SAWYER is not TOTALLY AND IMMEDIATELY KILLED BY PINPOINT PRECISE SHOOTING, because apparently the gunmen gave the task of killing the only villager who is actually armed and expecting them to BARNEY FIFE.]

BARNEY: Gosh, Andy! Let me have just one more bullet an' I'll an I'll an I'll hit him fer shure!

GUNMEN: Huh, Barney isn't even coming close to shooting that redneck. Eh, let's let him keep trying.

SAWYER: Claire!!!! Stay inside!

GUNMEN: Huh, I guess there's somebody in THAT house, then.


SAWYER: Claire! Are you all right?

CLAIRE: I'm a little wobbly. Also, I'm fireproof and completely invulnerable to blowing up.

SAWYER: OK, let's run across this open space. Since you have a speaking role, they'll only let their drunk soldiers shoot at you.

* * *

Got that? OK, so a scene that was meant to be tense was in fact hilarious. Too bad. I'll allow Claire to survive her house's explosion by saying "the island won't let her die." But that whole sequence just shows that it was a bad idea to have more survivors than just the core main characters. It allowed them to bring in Artz (cool) and questions about them caused them to bring in Nikki and Paolo (boo), but other than that they've just been distracting.

Meanwhile, we get to show Sawyer developing as a true hero. Dare I say he's the hero that Jack would like to be, but just can't be, because for Jack it's mostly about Jack, whereas Sawyer's heroism and bravery seems to be born of a genuine regard for his fellow Lostaways. Please note that Locke seems to be OK with leaving Claire out there. Locke seems OK with shooting Sawyer to keep Hurley. And Sawyer vows revenge if anything befalls Big Curley. Not bad.

But but but . . . Hurley has to stay because only he knows where the cabin now is, but once Hugo has defused the situation, Ben knows the way? Weird end to that whole sequence. Maybe Ben just knew how much Locke and Sawyer love pointing guns at other people, and just invented that "We need Hurley" angle. You know, as kind of a present. Aw, that's thoughtful.

One other slight quibble:

So, Nadia really was Sayid's true love. I'd been assuming she was his sister, which would explain why Sayid was so quickly able to fall in love with Shannon. If Shannon hadn't died, would he have kept looking for Nadia? Would he have married her? Would he have kept Shannon on the side? Would it all have ended up on Jerry Springer? Imagine Nadia on Jerry Springer, all "Sayid ain't that skinny white [bleeping bleep] babydaddy." The bouncers would have a little surprise coming if they tried to subdue Sayid, I think.

I think the bottom line is Sayid is just one of those brothas who falls very hard and very seriously every time. I once knew a guy who proposed to each of his girlfriends. He'd had four broken engagements by the time he graduated college. True. Sadly for him, he was a bit of a spazz and couldn't break a man's neck with just his feet, so he was not nearly as cool.

But my main point here is that the future-flashing structure of the story, while reaping huge payoffs already, is going to have it's casualties, and this was one. Sayid and Nadia's story had the chance for some real emotional heft, and that's pretty much been discharged now. If we see Sayid's meeting with Nadia, we'll know what's coming, and while tragic, it just won't hit the same.

However, it does explain very nicely why Sayid would work for Ben, even knowing what he knows. Naveen Andrews and Michael Emmerson really sold that scene. Awesome actors, awesome delivery.

But Sayid, you're usually so clever. Has it not occurred to you that the dude you killed, who almost certainly also killed your ladylove . . . might have been working for Ben?

In much the same way, the story has had to jettison most of the impact of the Rousseau/Alex arc. They set it up and then they basically swatted it aside without much payoff, in order to get things going with this week's storyline.

I think in this case, though, the ends justify the means, because . . . again, this was a top ten episode.

Awesomeness On The Island:

* Ben just pulling a shotgun out of the piano bench. Which only means that that was the nearest shotgun he had access to. I'm guessing that if he'd been in another room, there'd have been heavy ordinance there as well. So, here's the thing, Locke. I told you so. You let that old boy free in his own house? Then he's in charge. It's like when Jack told Sawyer, "When I want the guns? I'll get the guns." Same deal. Ben's in charge as soon as he decides he wants to be.

* Also? "You lied to me about the smokemonster, Ben?" Really, Locke? Really? So. You're complaining. Because . . . Ben. Lied to you. I think you need to take a break, buddy. Just sit down for a minute. Put your feet up. Have a seltzer.

* They actually killed Alex, and it surprised Ben as much as us. I didn't doubt that SteroidLillard would be willing to shoot her, but I'm very surprised that the show made that move. But that's nothing to the total shock on Ben's face. On the one hand, he had to deal with the shock and grief from the fact that his daughter was dead, and that the last words she heard were unkind ones from him. It was a part of a gambit, but nevertheless, that's a cold way to go out.

More importantly, though -- and, I think, more disturbingly for Ben -- was the fact that this wasn't supposed to happen. Did you see it? Come on, you saw it. Michael Emmerson is an amazing actor, and it was right there. "They changed the rules," he breathed, after he'd been in a catatonic stupor for . . . well, we don't know, but long enough for day to change to night on the LOST island, so for anywhere between five hours and ninety seconds.

* Know what I think? I think it's now become clear beyond preadventure or punk that Ben can time travel, and moreover has a very good understanding of the timeline, due to his unique perspective. Think of quantum time in geographical terms. Think of it as a map, spread out on the ground and stretching into infinity, and then think of the island as a tower, the highest geographical point. Now, imagine Ben at the top, surveying it all. That, I think, makes a decent metaphor for Ben's power.

I think this occasionally manifests itself as "the island won't let you die" for certain people. And I think Alex's death means more than a daughter lost. I think it was an event that was never supposed to happen. Outside the rules. And suddenly Ben just doesn't see as far as he thought he could.

* So he does what any of us would do given the circumstances. He goes down into his secret mystery basement and releases his smoke beast of doom.

Smokemonster Parade! Smokemonster Parade! See the hell-killing trench of death the Smokemonster made!

Dude. Seriously. That was awesome. So, are the controls from within the house? The summoner? Where did Ben go when he went into that chamber?

* WHEN did he go?

Let's not be so sure that Ben didn't take a week, or a month, between when we saw him go into his lair and when we saw him return. I'll have to go back and watch the episode to check the status of his bruises, but he was considerably dirtier.

Also, the angry red bruise on Ben's left eye appears to have vanished. Just saying.

Awesomeness Off The Island

* Ben lying there in the Sarara looked a lot like Jack from the very start. Makes me wonder if this is a visual clue that Jack and Company got on-island in the same manner as Ben got off-island.

* Ben was wearing a Dharma winter jacket. The name on the coat? Halliwax. Which is one of Dr. Marvin Candle's aliases. So, I guess sometime in the future we'll find out why Ben was wearing Dr. Candle's jacket. Which means we'll probably be meeting him in a non-stock-footage sort of way. Wicked.

* Where had Ben been right before? In the Artic seems like a fair guess. There looked to be gusts of chilled air around him in the very first shot. Remember, the Tunisian Sahara is where Charlotte found the polar bear skeleton. Perhaps there is a time travel/teleportation portal between these two places. Certainly there appears to be a connection. Did he meet up with Penny's phone buddies from the end of Season 2?

* Very odd look Mr. Linus received from the Tunisian conceirge. It would appear that Dean Moriarity, other than being a Keruak reference, is a name to conjure with. Also interesting, he didn't know what the date/year was, though he seemed maybe 80% sure of the year. Nice of them to have included that scene, but you'd think a smooth chicken like Ben would have just checked out a paper.

* Finally, the last scene. Perhaps the pivotal moment to date for the mythology. Charles. Ben. Roll call of the facts.

Hello Ben. These guys know each other. They've known each other for a while.

Have you come to kill me? You know as well as I do that I can't do that. Ben can't kill Charles, and Charles knows it. Does this mean the island won't let Charles die, is this some manifestation of "the rules", or is it some third thing?

Charles has nightmares, which he medicates with that Scotch he loves more than he loves Desmond. That he has nightmares suggests he has some kind of conscience, which augers well for him not being the monster Ben makes him.

I know who you are, boy. I know WHAT you are. Yeah, so. So. What is Ben, anyway?

Everything you have you took from me. Charles can't find the island. He feels that it is his, and that it was stolen from him by Ben. I'd say that makes Charles a DHARMA-ite.

I'm going to kill YOUR daughter. And then you'll be sorry you changed the rules. He also thinks that somehow Ben and Ben only is responsible for Alex's death. So, will Penny be on Sayid's list? I'm guessing 'no'. I think that's a kill Ben will want to handle personally. But we may see Sayid vs. Desmond before this is all done.

Mindblowing stuff. I think the LOST boys will be playing out the things we learned here for the rest of the series. The Shape of Things to Come, indeed.

Join us next time, when we hear Locke say:

"Did I REALLY just hand Ben a gun back there? Gosh, I'm foolishly trusting."


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Stupid/System 007: Positive Expected Value

Here's a situation we've all found ourselves in at one point or another.

Some real drool-bucket has cracked your awesome straight draw with his flopped set, and rather than admit his luck, he's accused you of whining.

Naturally, you have done what any sane person would do in that situation. You followed him from table to table for an hour, making sure all his opponents know just what a donkey he is. Also, you've challenged him to heads-up, any stakes he wants, bro.

So you're at the $1000 NL heads-up table. You've bought in for $376, because that all you . . . you just feel like playing short. That's all.

You're holding Tc3c.

He raises his button to $25. What do you do?

Now, your standard, garden-variety poker-playing mouth breather would tell you that Ten-trey is a real loser, even suited. Even this more enlightened tome, which shares with you poker secrets worth more than your first mother, would point out (quite rightly) that you are only on the one flush draw and thus you're removing 12 of the outs that can make this a productive call. Those two clubs together in one spot limit your outs; a not insignificant argument against a call.

But that's the first level of poker. I'm now going to introduce you to the THIRD level of poker. (The second level of poker is just a decoy to fool the fish, and contains mainly throw pillows and Scandinavians.) The third level is where the secrets lurk, to wit; how to know when the doom switch is on, choosing your lucky hand, and how to put on your sunglasses upside down.

Over on the third level, there are some pretty serious arguments FOR a call as well.

1) Calling means you have a stronger hand than if you raise (see The Gap Principal).

2) This is a grudge match, and you don't want to show any weakness by folding.

3) Your Expected Value.

It is about Expected Value that we should focus, because there really isn't a more important poker concept, beside learning to spell "poker". Named after legendary poker strategist Leo "Tex" Expectedvalue, it simply states that a decision is correct if you can expect to make money over the long term (say 12 or 13 hands), and a decision is incorrect if you can expect to lose money over the long term.

So . . . before you make the call or the fold with T3 clubs . . . what do you expect to do?

Remember this. Don't forget this. Poker is a game in which the score is kept in money, and which never ends. That means it goes on for a really long time, sometimes after last call, and what a pain THAT is. So you really need to keep a good mindset.

It goes without saying that top poker players expect to win. Do YOU expect to win money over the long term? If the answer is 'yes', then this is a clear call with T3, because you are a winning player. If you're doubting me, then let me ask you this: What do winning players do? They win. And what do losing players do? They lose. So obviously, it is best to expect to be a winning player. It's just simple math, really.

If you expect to win, this is known as positive expected value, or +EV.

If you expect to lose, this is known as negative expected value, or -EV.

This emphasizes the power of positive thinking. If you don't think the board will come clubs, then why are you even playing? Why, you may as well just fold like all the other fish. So many of them fold their inside straight draws because 'statistics' tell them it won't come. Hogwash! Hogwash I say! Statistics are so dangerous, because when improperly applied, they so easily lead to -EV thinking.

So, work on your expectation. Take the example above. You should make a positive expectation. To wit; you should expect that he probably has T2, making you a huge favorite. Remember, Doyle Brunson plays that hand every time, and he's won like ten bracelets now. Well . . . TEN THREE is even STRONGER than that!

I hope you wouldn't think this player is stronger than Texas Dolly. Therefore, you shouldn't give him credit for a stronger hand. So, it's settled; your opponent has T2. What a maroon.


You call.

Flop: KcQd6d

What do you do?

Answer Great flop! He's missed his deuce and is way behind you! Not only that, but you have a straight draw and a flush draw. You've got him crushed, but you want to get more money in the pot. I'd utilize the checkraise here.

You check and your opponent bets the pot.

What do you do?

Go all in! Go all in!

You go all in and your opponent shows AdKd for a flush draw. He catches a diamond on the river to beat you, but don't feel down about that. Just type "NICE CATCH LOL WHAT A JOKE RIGGED," then read our chapter on reloading, and our chapter on home re-finance, and then challenge this crumb-bum to a rematch. Remember that just because he didn't have T2 this time is immaterial. In the long run, he will have T2, which makes your play +EV. That's why you're a winning player and he's a total fishcake. Just keep making positive Expected Value decisions like this one, and you'll be a major poker pro in no time. Tell Howard Lederer I said "hello."

Bits of Tid

My Guys (Almost) Pwn

First of all, big ups to my good friend dtaylo04, who waded through the minefield for his very first blogger event ever. He won more flips than Mary Lou Retton but rarely got his money in behind until he busted Waffles with the JackAce. Waffles held AQ in the big blind and the money went in preflop. But, much like fire in a friendly game of paper/rock/scissors, nothing beats the JackAce in the Mookie.

Waffles go home now. He also wrote a rant free post. Disappointing, or a sign of progress? I'll let you be the judge.

DT got coolered on a 449A board holding A9. Pirate Lawyer, who played solid the whole way and was holding what the French call le big-staque, had 64 and that was it. Dtaylo, you should have raised that A9 three way, not limped. Lesson learned, yes?

Good game, Pirate Lawyer, and congrats.

Anyway, DT started a blog. He seems to know instinctively that blogs r ghey, because he made it . . . pink? Whatever, dude. That's cool with me . . .

Anyway, go welcome DT! He may be in the Big Game on Sunday! He's EXTREMELY LUCKY and also a good player. Fear him.

Please Contribute To Save The Majestic Silverbacked Poker Blogger

In other news, some of our best bloggers are being endangered. Maybe? Kat's away for a while following cryptic post #1, Al's definitely gone missing for a time after cryptic post #2 (yes, I know now what happened to Al. That really sucks.), Bobby Bracelet's blog now gives us cryptic login / password page #1, and Daddy wrote his second SnailTrax obit.

If you're asking me if it's time to panic and start screaming and running to the hills, I'd say yes.

Booo-urns to all of it, and I hope y'all are well.

OK, well at least Kat is all right. And Iggy's posting about poker again. Maybe it's going to be OK.

I Got A Biscuit In My Basket

And 40% of a novel on my computer. I'll have a longer post on this in a couple months, but suffice it to say it has become abundantly clear to me that it is time to stop screwing around and make this book happen.

Then Fuel (who I think will kill me if I don't start writing fiction soon) sent me this great talk from JJ Abrams, about story and mystery, as well as the effect of rapidly expanding and accessible technology on an artist's ability to reach their audience.

Let's just say it got me thinking of the possibilities available for delivering a novel into the world. There are options available now that never were before, and others coming online by the second. In fact, here comes one . . . now.

Finally, because I am a benevolant and kind ruler, I give all of you a recap of LOST thus far:

I'm Julius_Goat, and I improved this message.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Viva La BBT3!

I want to carve out a little space here to say something that isn't being said a whole lot, but that I think represents the feelings of a lot of bloggers out there.

I'm having a rocking good time with the BBT3. A rocking good time.

Love the prizes. Love the overlay. Love the spirit of competition. Love the friends I'm making -- yep, that's right, I'm making friends during this thing. Love always having somebody in the chatty box to chatty with. Love the fact that I will probably have a rail if I'm going deep.

Love the fresh blood. Love seeing some old school people joining back in, including sitting next to CJ at the MATH this week. Love the new mix between the two. I love how quickly I was included in this thing, just for writing my drivel.

I love the encouragement I've received. You've improved my game and brought my love of writing back alive. All of you. Thank you, I love that.

Love the rail. Love getting a "BOOOOM" from Donkette when I've made a big hand. Love Donkette's "BOOOOM" when somebody else she likes (and I think she likes everybody) hits a hand against me.

Love it when Daddy's at my table.

Love the points system. Love the money I've won. Love the large fields. Love learning about true big stack aggro poker from Lucko and his friends.

Love the good play. Love the donkey play. Live the weak tights. Love the LAGs. Love the TAGs.

Love the kinder friendly Waffles. Love the other Waffles. Love pancakes. Love BDR. Hate when they play ABBA. Still love BDR.

Love that a pro is playing. Love that he just couldn't lose with his crap.

Love all the congratulations to Fuel on his newborn kid. Love all the ball busting that was going on at the same time. Love it when Fuel calls me a donkey. Love it.

Love the Bodonkey, and Smokkee for making it happen. Hate that it's on a night I'll never play. Move it!

Love the MATH. Love the Skill. Love the Mookie. Love Riverchasers. Really REALLY Love the Big Game. Love the Donkament so much I can't sit still thinking about it. It's not BBT, but if it was, it would be epic. Conan the Barbarian epic.

I love Al for making all this happen.

Thank you, Al. Thank you, thank you.

Now, let me carve out just a little more space, and then I'll have room to breathe.

I don't care one bit about the recent heads-up deals. You might. I just don't care. In fact, I don't understand the fracas.

I'll wade in one more time. I'm slow.

I think it does matter who asked for the chop first. Why?

Well, because nobody is disputing that it is a good deal that Hoy and Scott took. The seat is worth about $530. It's part of the prize pool. It's not a seat. And it isn't honor. And it isn't love. And it won't bring your dead pets back to life. Here's what it is: It's money crafted to look like a seat. Simple.

The issue seems to be one of honor, not of money.

But in both cases, it was not the person who got the seat who brought up the deal. In other words, the person who got the seat was ready and willing to pay for the seat. The other person was not interested in the seat, for whatever reason.

I think Smokkee nailed it (even though he's not of the same mind as me). Those of us who have taken 2nd (I am one) and didn't get a chop offer just didn't get lucky enough. You do have to have some luck to win most heads up battles, you know. And there are lots of different ways to win, but all of them involve knowing when you're being laid good odds at a good price.

When I was heads up in the Big Game, I was fully playing to win and thought I had the best chance to win. I held the chiplead when HU started, and I personally thought I was the better player (no offense, Big Mike). However, I fell behind, and then I got slightly, debatably, coolered. But my opponent played a great game. Frankly, I underestimated his game when heads-up started. GG him.

BUT. If I had been offered a chop that includes the seat, I would have taken it in a heartbeat, even with my chiplead, and even though I fully intended to win and expected to win.

Why? Simple math. Same reason I'd have called an all in with 21 outs coming twice even though my hand wasn't made. Take the good deal and finish it.

Or perhaps this is seen as a choice between the spirit of friendship versus the mercenary spirit. Again, I'm not feeling it.

Scott and Hoy didn't just buy their seats. They didn't walk up to somebody who had a seat and throw money at them to swap places. They bought in to the tournament, just like everybody else. They played hard. They got HU. Dozens of others failed to do so. Then somebody offered them a great deal, and they took it. Basically it's a 'good beat'. They didn't seek it, but it came to them. Lucky them.

Back to the Big Game.

When I went out in 2nd, I held 2 pair and BigMike held a straight. I was dead to five outs, and they didn't come. If they HAD come, I would have had all but a few hundred chips, and I sure enough would have taken the win, even though I was the donkey. Happily.

Would that have been dishonorable? Would that have killed the spirit of the games? Should I have dumped back to BigMike in that case, because that's not the 'right way' to win? What on earth are we talking about?

How is a friendly and mutually-agreed-upon deal between the only two people remaining in a tournament in opposition to the spirit of a friendly game between friendly people?

Honestly? I'm not mad here. This whole thing is really baffling to me. Some will say that I don't get it.

They're right. I don't get it.

But I still love you.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Stupid/System 006A: Rapping

Addendum: Another very important issue for your live table image that needs to be addressed is your ability to rap.

CAN you rap? If your answer is "no", or "what is rap?" or "I hate rap garbage!" then this guy can help:

If you sadly find that even Alfonso Ribeiro cannot help you rap freestyle, spend some time creating your persona. Are you an East Coast rapper? West Coast? Southern Crunk?

If you can't freestyle, put in the hours to come up with a flow. No amount of time spent making your own distinctive rap voice can be considered wasted time. You will see the results at the poker table. Conversely, if you fail to develop this key skill, your lack of skills, whether 'mad', 'off the hook', or otherwise, will cost you greatly in terms of table image.

As a helper, please feel free to use this rap until you are able to come up with your own:

Aw yeah.
Hell yeah.
Bring the beat in money
[Say this to a member of your entourage who can beat box]

I'm gonna play better than Lederer,
I'm gonna best Ivey and Lindgren and Harmon, etcetera.
I'm gonna win it's a sin when I'm in and I'm so far ahead a ya
Poker to me is like golf is to Tiger and tennis to Federer

I know
You sold
All that you own just to be here today.
I know
Your whole
Family flew out here just to watch you play.
Aw, gee,
I never meant for you to bust that way.
I see
You need
A tissue to wipe all your weeping away.

I've got a pair in the hole.
[Note: Grabbing your junk is appropriate on this line]
I've got a whole lotta soul.
I've got the skill and the will and you're tilted
and wilted and outta control.

Don't ever test me or question me when I get lyrical
It is empircal that I am better than you.
Don't EVER think you can play me in razz, stud, or Omaha
Hold 'em or limit draw you are unskilled here's a "hee haw" for you.

I'm gonna play better than Lederer . . .
[continue chorus]

You may be thinking, "Wait a minute, is learning to rap REALLY all that important for poker? Shouldn't I focus on the math?"

Well, here's a cautionary example that I hope you find instructive. The horror . . .The horror . . .

I think I've made my point.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Skits

Why, I ought to sell your eyes to my angry sister!

It was great. It's crack. It gets you really high.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Stupid/System 006: Table Image

One of the most overlooked factors in all of poker is the concept of table image. How are you perceived by your fellow players? Are you loved? Feared? Hated? Do they see you as a loose player or a tight one? Do they see you as a straightforward player, or are you trappy? Which of the seven dwarves are you? Which top pro do you most resemble? If you were a Ninja Turtle, which Ninja Turtle would you be? What is your favorite card suit? Do you have any tells? Do you prefer Parliament or Funkadelic? What is your favorite hand? Do you have any superstitions?

Your opponents will be watching you for answers to all these questions, and you should be watching them through wrap-around shades. Generally, you want to put off the aura of a top flight poker pro. That's why Phil Hellmuth made a category in his book just for himself. He's an eagle in a world of mice and elephants. You should be an eagle, too. Or even better, be a eagle poacher. That's a guy who shoots bald eagles with a machine gun, and he is the most feared and respected of all hunters.

There are two major categories of table image: Live and Online. We'll deal today mainly with live table image, as it is much more intricate a subject.

Table Image In Live Play

Spelling. This is of utmost importance! Can you spell poker? If you can't, please refer to Chapter 14: How to Spell Poker. (Here's a quick little mnemonic device, though: Just think of a Joker who has to urinate. It's the Pee-Joker, or, P-oker.) Failure to properly spell "poker" will destroy your table image, perhaps forever. You should practice this fundamental skill three times a day, after meditations.

Apparel and Accoutrements. You are going to need the standard gear, of course. Wraparound shades, highly reflective, iPod with big chunky headphones, big hoody. But have you considered some of the other necessary gee-gaws?

For example, your card protector. What are you going to bring to protect your monsters from the muck? Pity the sad fool who is just using a chip to protect his hand. Your card protector says a lot about who you are, and how you are to be perceived. Some people will use a little figurine, or perhaps a lucky ring, or even a picture of family trapped in amber. But the advanced player who is looking for every possible edge will take the opportunity to make a real statement here.

My advice? Try a gun. A loaded gun. It's simple, it's direct, and you won't get bluffed much.

Some other ideas to bring to the table: Cowboy hat, rainbow wig, do-rag, tray of blueberry muffins, latex Dracula mask, signed pictures of yourself.

Know Your Enemy. When you are first seated, introduce yourself. Include your online avatar in quotes between your first and last name, like they do on TV, so that everybody will know you mean business.

After a minute, pick a player at random and say, loudly, "Your sharkscope stats are a joke." This will establish you as a serious and knowledgeable player, and not to be trifled with. The guy may even claim not to know what sharkscope is. Just nod sagely and say something vague like, "It's beyond my control, man."

Now . . . watch your enemies and drink in their tells. Stare them down. Don't stop. Follow them into the bathroom if that's what it takes. Do they tend to bluff after pissing in the middle urinal, but if they have a monster they head right for the crapper? How do they tend to play after eating corn? This is information that is right there, available to you, and most players don't have the intestinal fortitude to glean it.

Establish Yourself. The best thing to do is to make sure that people know who's in charge. So just raise all in the first ten hands. It's a little known fact, but you can't call an all-in without Aces or Kings if it's for stacks. It just doesn't make sense. Once everybody's folded around to the big dawg, you'll be ready to bark.

Losing. This sometimes happens. It is total BS, but it's sadly happens. You might be on your eighth all-in push and get called by some donkey who just can't fold King Jack. Now, you're holding 33, so you're 51% to win the hand; a clear favorite.

You should totally win this every time, but sometimes a donkey gets lucky and a Jack peels off, which is a total joke. Typical. So typical.

Your diatribe is going to have to be perfect now in order to maintain your strong image. You need to immediately establish to the table that losing is a VERY rare occurrence for you. Do this by stomping your sunglasses into a paste. Walk around the table in slow, meandering, counter-clockwise laps for about ten minutes, muttering "King Jack for all his chips, unbelievable" to yourself. You should also explain to each person at the table what a donkey call that was. Also, describe the hand to the cocktail waitress that stops over to take orders.

Winning. You'll be doing this a lot. The thing to remember about winning is that people like an honest winner. So if on that eighth all in you get called by King Jack while you're holding pocket treys that hold up, you should still let the person know what a bad call he just made. Everybody will appreciate your honesty, and respect your superior poker knowledge. Explain in detail the reasons that this was a bad call. Tell the guy a few times, just in case he didn't hear the first time.

He still doesn't seem to have heard. Say it again.

Huh, nothing. Well, call him a donkey. Make funny donkey noises. Do a donkey dance.

Huh. He's choking you. That's not going to help your table image; try to break loose.

So, You've Been Killed. I'd recommend getting a tombstone with pocket Aces carved on them. That way, when there's no room in hell and you rise to eat the brains of the living, your fellow zombies will be aware of your finesse in the cardroom.

Table Image Online

Technology is great, and Internet poker has made establishing your preferred table image easier than ever.

With most software, just right click on the table and select the image you would prefer from a list of available options.

Here's a professional tip, though:

The most lucky table image is Space:

The least lucky table image is Ski Lodge:

Please, use this information wisely.

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

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Backbiters and Syndicators

Well, Pauly was nice enough to link me up, I see. If that doesn't lead to new eyeballs who knows what will.

Too bad I'm all done for the day after bursting into flames in fourth place in the Mookie. For those keeping track at home, that's four final tables in seven attempts with no TOC seat yet. Winning plenty of money never felt so frustrating.

Still, new guests shouldn't have a silly LOST April Fool's joke to stare at, so let me tidy up around here while I work on the next Stupid/System chapter.

* * *

Let's talk about rude people at the BBT3, shall we? That's a popular topic these days.

First, some people have been talking about not playing any more because of all the tomfoolery and scuttlebutt, to say nothing of the shenanigans. These are kind people. Good people. Respected people. Sometimes all three.

They don't want to play any more. It's not fun.

I guess I am of two minds about this.

My first mind says, grow up and behave yourselves you silly, silly humans. You want to spout off in the chat? Go peddle your wares elsewhere. Go to Facebook and poke each other. You do realize, don't you, that Sir Al went through not inconsiderable trouble to set up this awesome series for us, for no compensation beyond the enjoyment and support of community. If "enjoyment" and "support" and "community" don't mean anything to you, leave this fine thing to those who do. When you're playing a BBT event, you'd do well to consider yourself a guest in Al's house (and Hoy's or Chad's or Don's or Mookie's), at a really slamming party with great door prizes. Don't relieve yourself in the foyer, and don't steal all the good beer and replace it with the Beast. If I were Al (and, in a perfect world, I would be), I'd be having serious thoughts about the worth of putting together a BBT4 sometime in 2009.

Let's hope it doesn't come to that. But don't kill the goose, you fanciers you. Don't kill it! It lays golden eggs. And golden eggs? They make fluffy and delicious golden omelets.

My second mind says, this is manageable. My friends, don't leave! Not you! Leaving is not the solution! And for serious, there's a solution. A mute button. Don't shut off ALL chat. Just shut off the chat of anybody who's punking, and leave it off. Do it ruthlessly, immediately, and with no fanfare. And don't tell me it's everybody at the table making with the mean. I haven't sat at any of those tables. Bottom line? If there's a troll, use the individual chat off function. Everybody reading this . . . do it. Just chat off. Soon there will be no feedback for the troll, and feedback is what a troll feeds on. Boom. Solved. Or at least . . . solve-ish-ed.

Observer chat . . . well, I can't answer that. But I tend to just let scum slide off the skillet; that's just me. We knew that all this overlay would bring a lot of people running, and we can't be naive enough to think that everybody would play pat-a-cake ("Pat-a-cake" here means basic social niceties). The FDA allows a certain amount of insect waste into every box of breakfast cereal, but I still eat my Cheerios. I guess that's how I look at this; I barely register the bug turds in our burritos. It would be nice if Full Tilt would let us turn off chat of individual observers too, I suppose. But can't we just ignore the junk and have big fun anyway? That's my plan. Ignoring is the poor man's 'chat off'.

What I'm saying is this: come back to the five and dime, GCox, GCox.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

LOST 016: Multiple Man, Multiple Man, Doing the Things A Multiple Can


OK, first, real dumb, ABC. It was only an accident that I caught this episode. Am I the only person who didn't know they were showing a new one on Monday??? I don't watch other shows, so maybe I missed all the (I'm sure) copious ads, but why throw a bonus episode -- especially such a crucial one -- at a new time?

Anyway, what an episode! Seriously, my mind is reeling; I don't think I took a breath for the last five minutes. When Locke picked up the gun, I knew he was going to shoot, but I didn't think he'd shoot who he wound up shooting, you know? At least now we know why Kate adopted Aaron. Poor kid, he won't even get a chance to have bad relationships with his real parents like everybody else on the island.

Also, right before Locke fired, we heard the whispers.

And look how that cracks everything wide for what I was saying last time. It's going to be a while before I am able to follow all the threads, but obviously this is the central event of the season. Everybody who followed Locke clearly can't have anything to do with him now; he was manipulated by the increasingly Gollum-like Ben into doing just what Ben wants. And now they'll be looking for a leader. Who? Ben, of course. Who is going to recruit all of them, Sayid included, to his side. Meanwhile, major props to anybody who saw that Miles was in cahoots with everybody's favorite mass murderor. $3.2 million was a code after all. Guess Michael wasn't Ben's only man on the boat. It's like in The Departed when [SPOILER] we find out that Matt Damon isn't Jack's only man on the inside. [END SPOILER]

This pretty clearly explains why Hurley apologizes to Jack for going with Locke, and why Miles knows that "Kevin Johnson" isn't Michael's real name.

Meanwhile, back on the boat, what is with all the Minkowskis? Holy multiplicity! I'm starting to wonder if it isn't the BOAT, and not the island, that is putting off some serious time-warping vibes. Minkowski here, Minkowski there, Minkowski, Minkowski, everywhere. You know we're going to see that lady who jumped into the ocean wearing all those chains sometime soon. I don't know what ANY of the sequence on the boat means, and I'm a little annoyed that we didn't get to see any of what happened to Michael. Or, for that matter, Alex and (hope hope) Rousseau.

Finally, right at the end, as Locke is hustling away, we see Walt. Spooky Walt. And then . . . unwind my mind and rethread my head, that's where it all falls into place. This is the moment that everything in LOST has been building toward for three seasons, I think.

So what do we make of that final shocking image?

For Sure

1) That ain't Walt.

2) That ain't Locke, and probably hasn't been since . . . the crash? Episode 4? It's hard to say, and I'm guessing that at some point Jacob/Smokemonster absorbed the life essense of both Locke AND Walt. We've seen a lot of Locke's doubts and emotions, and a lot of non-Jacob type soul searching. I'm guessing it actually happened to Locke as recently as when he was shot. Perhaps he really died in that pit, or was absorbed, or whatever, before it happened.

3) The Locke we saw in flashforward is not the real Locke, obviously. So, how did Jacob get off the island? Or . . .

IS it Locke? The real Locke? Remember, he cut himself on that glass. He's back in the wheelchair. He seems very human. Perhaps this "off island reality" is where absorbees (which is what I'm calling them until somebody suggests something better) go following absorbtion.

Locke's back to being the most likely coffin-filler. I'm hoping they give him a heroic death, the poor sap.


1) Who is the "Walt" that left the island? We saw him in the window during Michael's flashback.

2) Could Multi-kowski be Jacob on the boat? This seems pretty likely, actually.

3) Maybe the people who the island won't "let" kill themselves are absorbees. Hmmm. Perhaps the whole island is some kind of parasite . . .

4) Jacob has almost certainly "absorbed" others. Pretty sure that he's done so to all the dead on the island (maybe not Nikki and Paolo because they are annoying) even Eko's brother was absorbed when that plane landed on the island, but is there anybody else who is a ringer like Locke? Ben, anybody?


The Oceanic Six? All of them?

Oh my. I guess that will REALLY be it until they come back from the break. We'll just have to wait and see. I think we're getting a Jack episode next, and I never thought I would be looking forward to one of those.

Join us next time when we hear Claire say:

whisper whisper whisper whisper