Friday, September 22, 2006

Hungarian Rhapsody

Warning entirely non-poker content to follow.

Just a little international current events commentary on a country that probably doesn’t mean much to most of the readers of this blog. It does however, interest me a great deal as I lived in that little land for three years of my life, among other things, meeting SoxWife (who is not from there) and making some pretty deep friendships that persist today.

Some of you may have noticed mention of a little Budapestian brouhaha running through those bottom international headlines. It seems that the current Hungarian Prime Minister, leader of the left-center Hungarian Socialist Party (roughly comparable to the Labour party in the UK, but with a direct legacy linked to the pre-transition regime, which was comparatively quite progressive at least in the eighties), while trying to goad his caucus to more dramatic economic reforms, used an unfortunate turn of phrase in suggesting that in avoiding tough decisions in the past, their party had “lied morning, evening and night.”

As might be expected, this stupefyingly honest quote was leaked pretty much entirely out of context, at which point a fascist mob showed up on Sunday in Freedom Square in the center of Pest.

I say fascist mob because I know those morons. Back in 1997, I used to commute through that same square on rollerblades and from time to time they would hold rallies, though then always with much smaller ranks typically heavily outnumbered by police. I freaked myself out one time skating cluelessly into their midst to see what was going on. They were all wearing brown uniforms with red armbands showing a black cogwheel on a white circle—a not so subtle allusion to the illegal symbols of the Nazis and their old Hungarian nephews, the Arrow Cross. I literally spun around. They looked ridiculous but still vaguely frightening, and of all things were protesting Hungary’s accession to NATO.

I resisted a brief urge to test my bastard Hungarian and skating speed by yelling “Csókje a zsidó fenékem bunkók!” (my undoubtedly stilted attempt at “Kiss my Jewish ass you tools!”) [edit: correctly stated: "Bunkók, csókoljátok meg a zsidó fenekemet!", thanks Zsolt].

Anyway, back to last week. Freedom Square is abutted by the main Hungarian national television building and the American Embassy. Predictably, the hooligans elected to sack the TV station canteen rather than rush the US Embassy, which is defended by M-16 toting Marines.

Also in Freedom Square directly outside the embassy is a giant freaking obelisk that the Soviets built as a monument to their own sacrifices “liberating” Hungary at the end of the Second World War—location purely coincidental I am sure.

So the mob also took a shot at defacing the monument, though they did not come close to destroying it. If there is one thing the Soviets knew how to do really well it was to build hard to destroy monuments.

Oh, what was the mob demanding? They had a two part manefesto:

1. Disbanding of the Hungarian parliament and return of power to the Hungarian people.

2. Reversing relegation of the local Hungarian side, Ferencváros, which had been banished in July from the Hungarian National Premier League for various financial “issues”.

Crazy Hungarian politics is farce for those outside of it.

Most unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury as our crazy politics actually impacts every one else outside. It’s easy to laugh at the elephant taking a dump at the circus, but not so funny when you’re standing behind him.


Anyway, see you all at the Bash tomorrow.
See the flop...

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Things that I like:

The recently #2 ranked Irish getting stomped at home.

The Iggles stinking it up at the end of a won game to interrupt their chase of the '72 Dolphins.

The Pats holding on after stninking it up at the end of a won game, incidentally covering the spread (you can pay me at the Bash).

Oh lastly,


See the flop...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Small joys

I took the day off today to get my license renewed. Fearing the worst, I budgeted several hours at the Jersey City DMV. I brought two(!) books along and prepared myself for a long haul.

You know that great feeling you have when you make a crying call at the river with bottom two when some psycho bets half the pot and proceeds to showdown top pair no kicker? That's how I felt when I strolled out of the DMV just 25 minutes after walking in with a brand new license--they even gave me 6 years rather than 4 since I have a spotless record (helps that we only drive the car as a weekend shopping cart--12,000 miles in nearly 3 years--mostly long road trips). I don't normally associate the DMV and joy, but we have to wring every little bit out of this life don't we?

Other happy notes--PokerStars 120 max reload bonus, no expiration--20% of deposit, offer good till the 19th. That is like being given free money since you absolutely know you'll clear it sometime.

Further joy, PokerRoom stud tables. Juicy juicy. They like to raise on 4th and fold on 6th. Fun combination. PokerRoom tourneys seem weak as hell too, but for some reason PT doesn't work on them, which means you kind of have to pay attention the whole time, which is not my style for online holdem MTT's--maybe I should play them more often to get back to the basics.

Finally, shout out to PokerDominator. I don't know if I mentioned it before in detail, but this is a great free poker database. It does what I used to do myself in a homemade db, but better. Furthermore, the creator, a guy named JD, is extremely responsive to questions and suggestions. If you have never checked it out, you should. I use it to track all my online play as well as my live play, effectively keep track of my complete bankroll in one spot. It is superflexible, allowing you to create your own locations, games, whatever, and then saving what you've done so you can reuse it.

And a nice but vital feature is that you can re-export all your data back to yourself as a csv file, which lets you play with it further if you like but more importantly allows you to back it up in the odd even the site goes down. I am so appreciative of JD's work and his continuous responsiveness that I created a banner for him and linked up, sans advertising fee. The banner is pretty much worth what he paid for it, so perhaps he'll send me a better one.
See the flop...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Have I found Dawn's Online Poker ID?

Just trying out PokerRoom for a spin after getting a mailer offering me $20 free and a $250 bonus to clear for a $500 deposit. I haven't been playing almost any NLHE online (triple draw, stud hi/lo and stud hi fill my cash menu), but not so many stud games running there, so I figured I'd see how the software worked at a $50 for NLHE. Seemed like the best action at the 5 player tables so I figured I could try to light a US Grant on fire there.

Ok, I may have been playing a wee bit aggressively prior to this hand but hands like this just might redeem my faith in poker.
See the flop...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Wits End

I'm on the verge of letting this thing die. Though I've had some false starts towards making posts, grand ideas even, it's just not happening.

Part of it is work and life throwing up relative distractions (looked at more properly, the blog is the distraction of course, but this after all is on the blog so we'll pretend the order makes sense).

A large part of it is poker sucking for me. I've staunched the wounds and am no longer bleeding big losses, but it's been a long time since I've had a big win.

This game is very dangerous to people like me who are naturally intrigued by it.

It invites obsession.

Yet even if you understand it at a relatively deep level, you may always lack one or other of the things that will let you really succeed over time. You can get the math, but lack the aggression. You can have both of those but fall victim to tilt. You can lock up that troika and yet still lack the humility to seek competition you can beat rather than the kind that will, eventually, beat you senseless.

I would talk about this like it's something I've just realized, but in fact I think I saw it long ago. I will never be as good at poker as I want to be, and not by a long shot.

I compare this to how I am at the sub-species of legal engineering that is what I do. I might be delusional, but I believe I am among the elite at that obscure expertise--maybe not a Phil Ivey but arguably a Phil Laak.

At poker, I am comparatively pathetic. And it galls me. But the question at some point must emerge, should I care? I don't need poker (and poker certainly doesn't need me). It's not a release from a dull existence--I like my day job, it's fascinating to me if to few others, and it rewards me with challenging problems and decent remuneration.

Why then have I donated over 10% of my waking hours for the past two years to this game? It certainly is not for the money. My life time earn rate over several thousand hours hovers pretty firmly at around $2/hour. I can pat myself on the back for beating the rake and the tips, but that's pretty sad.

And yet, I am not even sure I have the willpower to just up and quit. But even if I did, is that the right move? I mean, I clearly get a lot out of this game. If I didn't, I wouldn't keep on playing despite the occasional back-alley beating it gives me. So what to do?

I think I am no longer shooting to move up and on, to be better than the rest. Rather, I want to get out of this game what I can, and that I think is the joy of a challenging hobby. I do want to continue to get better. I want to understand my own limitations, work on those that can be worked on and accept those that can't.

More importantly, when I play this game I want to play it because it's fun. When it is not fun, I don't want to play it. Because at the end of the day, I can think of nothing sadder than for me to sit there and click away, not even enjoying the ride.

Oh this blog. I should post more, I know.
See the flop...