Friday, March 31, 2006

The Football Chronicles, Part 1

Manfred: Look, if either of you two can make it across that sinkhole in front of you, the sloth is yours.
Sid: That's right, you losers! You take one step and you're dead!
[Sid throws a rock, which bounces across the sinkhole without leaving so much as a crack ]
Sid: You were bluffing, huh?
Manfred: Yeah, that was a bluff.
"Ice Age"

Two posts in one week, my I am spoiling you all with my presence.

I've got a live game on tonight, should be interesting. It's a cash game (no SNG or tourny), and the buy in will be the biggest I have ever played in to date. Ok, so it's only $50 buy in, but that is still my biggest live game buy in. I think my biggest online buy in was only $100, so you can see I am decidedly small time all the time. I've only met one of the players before, and I know he is fairly decent so the standard tonight might be up there. I'll need to bring my A-game to walk out winner tonight.

I'm starting to get back into poker too, after such a lengthy lay off. This probably has a lot to do will decent results as late, which I have surely jinxed by posting here. I've also been reading non-poker blogs where they have been talking about poker, and that made me more interested, if that makes any sense.

The Distraction has wanted to upgrade our pad to include Pay TV. The free to air TV reception in our building is terrible, and I am tempted to do it if it were not for the adding of extra costs to our already strained budget. Another reason is the start of the AFL season last night. Aussie Rules – hence forth referred to only as "footy" from here on in – is probably my biggest obsession/crutch/addiction. It really is for my whole family. With the extra money coming in from running the poker games, I have been thinking that perhaps we can afford this little extra luxury to put ourselves further into middle class poverty. I suppose, in order to qualify as middle class you must have a net worth above $0, right? Man, that just makes me low class then doesn't it?

Footy is religious in our family, especially on my father's side but surprisingly enough the most tragic fan in the family is mum. My two uncles are both Western Bulldogs supporters, my mum and older brother are North Melbourne Kangaroos fans, and dad and my little brother are Richmond Tigers supporters. I'm the black sheep of the family, the sole Hawthorn Hawks supporter (link on the side of the page for the interested). I remember once my uncle bought a Bulldog's polo shirt for $5 at a discount place, and grabbed a Hawks one for me – because hey, it's $5, and he was acting as a sort of surrogate parent at that stage since I moved 1300 kilometres from my own. I remember in a slightly drunken haze looking at the shirt, thinking that it really embodies who I was. I was the one member of my family that did everything differently, I was "Hawthorn" to my family, and I felt kinda proud for some reason. Yeah, I was drunk but the memory has stayed with me for the past few years. I still have the shirt too.

Some times I really miss playing footy. I don't want to become one of those guys that just reminds everyone about their highschool sporting achievements, and I never even scored 4 touchdowns in one game for Polk High (ten points for the reference there). But I want to talk a little about it right now to illustrate a greater point… well let's hope it si a greater point. It will also serve as a little lesson in footy for my North American friends.

I really really don't want to turn this into a "Remember how cool I was in highschool" post, but this story has a few very poignant moments and lessons in it. It's going to take a few posts to get through it all and I fully admit right here that this is more for me than my readers – but couldn't that be said about 99% of this blog? Enough – lets begin…

I played footy since I was maybe 3 or 4. Our town had four teams, North, South, West and…Central. It's just the way the town was set out that it worked out like that. Anyway, our North Bulldogs junior team was pretty stacked, and one player in particular was exceptional compared to the rest – he now makes a living earning about 10 times what I do playing footy, a good mate too. Anyway, I took the game as another sport right up until my junior year in the "Colts". The colts were the last age group grade before you played in the men's competition.

I remember the first game of that season, because leading up to it I thought it was just another season of footy. Our team had taken a bit of a hit as the exceptional player from before was asked to skip the colts and go straight into the main team. This only happens to a few players a year, and is a real badge of honour for our little town. But it meant our colts team could be down our best player, so we wouldn't be dominating as we had become accustomed to.

We get the game started, and something happened. Since we hadn't played a game for 5 months or so, it takes a while to get back in the groove of things, but something weird happened to me. It seemed I had grown stronger, faster and bigger over the summer. I was prepared to play a supporting role this season in the forward line as I was a junior (there are only juniors and seniors, no freshman or he like. Grades go up by increments of two here). By the end of the first quarter, I felt unstoppable. I could do as I wanted and nobody could touch me – a fact that the coach picked up on very quickly and he put some extra tasks in front of me. Well, specifically he asked me to take out another player if I got the chance to do it legally – which is one of the great aspects of footy. I chose to ignore the request, because the player he asked me to deal with was pretty useless, he was just an annoying dick and I thought I could hurt them more on the scoreboard anyway.

We won that game, and most of the others as I soon got moved to Centre. I'm trying to think of a reference to another sport more familiar to my North American friends here that would apply describe the job of the "on-ball" positions in footy like centre. Basically you know how big a footy oval is? The centre gets to cover all of it. Usually you have two guys per position in the "on ball" department (4 positions) that swap in and out through the game. They didn't bother with centre, because I wouldn't swap out and just ran it my way for the whole game. By the third game, I had a "tagger".

A tagger in footy is a player form the opposition who basically sacrifices their entire game to stand by your side and stop you from getting the ball. Some taggers have been known to be hit in the back of the head by the ball, and yet they don't move lest take their eyes off their target. So I got that treatment for the next few games. By round 4, I was having multiple taggers swap through out the game on me. I always choose to ignore them and pretend they weren't there and kept on my dominating ways. It was a great time, I would look forward to the Friday night games all week.

I recall once one of the coaches of the other team sent a message out via a runner – trainers who are used to get messages from the coach to the team during the game as footy has no time outs allowed. The runner yelled at my tagger, right in front of me, "Great job, he's hardly done anything this quarter, keep going" or words to that affect.

I felt insulted, and stupid because I hadn't even realised that I was having a quiet game. There was 5 minutes left in this quarter, and I decided to make the coach pay for that comment. We won comfortably, and I finished with 4 goals which is a handy return for a centre.

In the senior teams (there is an A grade and B grade team, and the town takes A grade very seriously) the guy who got called up from the colts (also a junior) was killing them, and this was when people around town were starting to realise he would turn pro eventually. A 16 year old was dominating against the 30 year olds and forcing them to change their entire game plans around him.

In the B grade, they were usually short of 2 or 3 players a week, so they got senior guys from our colts team to fill in. I guess I was kind of jealous that I hadn't been asked, when I realised that none of the other guys had been asked either and they more or less put their hand up for the job. So after one training session during the week, I said to our coach (a B grade player himself) that if they were short any players I wouldn't mind a game on Saturday. Coach said sure, and two days later they asked if I was prepared to back up Friday night's colts game with a Saturday morning B grade game. Of course I was, this was exactly what I asked for, so I prepared to play my first game against grown men the following weak.

In my next post, I'll go through that game and the genuinely inspirational talk I got after getting my ass handed to me in that game that changed me.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Bad Boy Blogger

Pam Beesley: I suggested we flip a coin, but Angela said she doesn't like to gamble. Of course by saying that, she was gambling that I wouldn't smack her.
"The Office – An American Workplace"

I admit, when they said The Office was being re-done for an American audience, I was a little sceptical. When I watched the first episode, I felt sorry for all those involved in it. To say it was bad would be a gross understatement. The first episode of the US version was just a rehash of the first episode of the UK version, only with far less timing and personality. After that, the second episode was about 50% rehash and 50% new. By the third episode, it seemed the US show had finally decided to just make new story lines with the old characters. The above line comes from the forth episode, which was just as funny as anything the UK series put to screen. All the awards it is getting are justified, and it's a shame that it screens at such appalling
times here in Australia.

I've been a very poor member of this blogging community of late. I haven't read another blog in weeks, and updates here have been far less often than I would like. My time now has just been sucked up by work and the added load of running the local free poker at a few pubs. Even playing poker has taken a major back seat of late, though I did manage to fit in a decent home game last weekend (and put in a good showing too).

The free poker at the pubs is going well. I'm running two different pubs – one with my Distraction even! The first pub has about 50 players, and runs really smoothly with nearly all of those players being regulars. The other pub has only just started running, and last week we had 11 players. That tournament was hell. 5 of them were interested in poker and came to the pub for that reason. These five were unfortunately drowned out by the other 6 drunkards, who only one I believe had played poker before in his life. I even had one lady tell me that when I moved the final 8 players to one table (and moving the chip leader over in the process, relegating her to second at the table) that it was a stupid way to run a tournament, because those chips were from that table over there (said in the most condescending manner possible). Did I mention that she had never played poker before this night? But I had to be nice and suggest that this is the standard way throughout the world.

But anyway, I'm sure the new game will settle itself out in time when we get a few regulars attending.

The home game on Saturday night went well. I used the software for the pubs to run it now, and things went very quickly. We got through three games for the seven runners, and I made it heads up each time for two wins and a second. On the last game, I think I knocked out everyone
when the deck hit me square in the face. I didn't really have any big starting hands for the night, besides Queens on maybe the second hand that stole the blinds. We didn't see the rockets come out all night.

After the SNG's, we started the cash game. I flopped some big hands early (and survived the 6-10 outers) to get more than my buy in back and was playing with profit from early on. Then another player went on a tare and couldn't miss.

There was one hand where I failed to make the most of it. I had AKh and managed to fill the flush on the river for the absolute nuts. I bet out a little bit against the only other player in the hand, who came back over the top of me. I thought about it – maybe considering whether I should call or not but really thinking how big a raise would he call, when I made it double his raise. He called and showed a queen high flush. What I forgot was his bet on the river was a check-raise, not a standard raise. If I had remembered that I might have just pushed all-in right there and it would have been hard for him to fold at that stage. But alas, it was another lesson learned.

Earlier in the night, I decided to get in the mood with a little online poker (Shock! Horror!). I hadn't played seriously online for quite some time, apart form a drunken SNG in the early hours of the morning last week. I had $43 left at Noble Poker, thanks to a $10 "come back" gift from them and some little SNG wins. I decided that since my B&M bankroll is in full swing now, and this was free money anyway, lets take it all to the table and see what we can do.

I bought in for $43 at a $50 table, and on the seventh hand I had my first decent hole cards, AJs in late position. I made a standard raise and was heads up with the small blind. The flop was J high and I was confident that I had the best hand, as anything better would have probably re-raised me pre-flop. I bet out $5 into a $6 pot, and he check-raised me to $10. A min-check raise never looks good to me. It looks like a bluff or a vulnerable semi-bluff. I called and the turn was a blank. He pushed for the rest of his stack, and had me covered by about $5 or so. So what was I thinking here? Absolutely nothing, my finger clicked the call button before a cognitive thought entered my brain. The river brought nothing, and the pot was shipped to myself. He had KJ and pushed into me with 3 outs. I don't think I won that pot with brilliant play, I just made the best of a poor play from my opponent – which is as much of poker as anything else really.

With the now $90 at Noble and another $53 at Full Tilt, my online bankroll is in triple figures for the first time in 2006. My B&M bankroll however is now over $500. Friday night was a +$120 session in the home game, and my yearly profit in B&M play is $140+. I have been
keeping better records of my play since the start of an actual bankroll, which has been getting funded by the poker tournaments running in the pubs. I might put a cap on that at some stage, as it can be a little misleading if there is all this money flooding in that essentially isn't from winnings. And you know, the money can always be put to better use, such as paying this month's electricity bill.

I do hope to catch up with everyone's writing soon, maybe by the weekend. Sorry to be such a bad member of the Poker Blogger's community.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Married Guy

Daniel: You think you could break a log like that?
Miyagi: Don't know. Never been attacked by a tree.
"The Karate Kid II"

Long time readers will know I am a big fan of a home game. I'd rather it over a casino game or online game any day. There is not that much to loose, there is not that much to win, and when everything is played in the right manner it is all good fun regardless of how the cards treat you. Often even the cruellest of bad beats are just fodder for taunts and laughter, which can only be a good thing.

Last night I attended a different home game, which I felt I was robbed but I couldn't say anything really, because it was (I believe) innocent and all in good fun. The tournament had 22 people in it, and they were paying the top three only. I would probably pay 4, but three is still ok. The payouts were $350 for first, $70 for second and $30 for third ($25 buy in with some of that deducted for pizza and drinks). So out of the prize pool of $450, the payouts were 78%, 16% and 6% roughly. That's a little unbalanced methinks, as most games would adopt a 50/30/20 split, but the payouts were said at the start of the game so you can't really complain. They like to favour first heavily, it's their game and everybody agreed to it, so why not?

I'll try to not go into hand histories too much, but basically all the guys were aggressive with anything better than bottom pair. My plan of attack was zero bluffs, let somebody else do the betting for me when I have the best of it. I had about a medium sized stack when we got down to the final 8 and saw JJ in the big blind. Blinds were 1000/2000 at the time and I had about 13K at the time. There were about 4 limpers, so there is already 9k in the pot (folded small blind). I'm thinking I want to get everyone out now, or at worst go up against Ax. So I made a raise of 7K on top. Would this make me pot committed? Probably, but if the flop has no ace on it I will be first to act and probably push. I get two callers which to be honest was surprising and a little worrying.

The flop comes QT5 rainbow, which looks harmless enough to me. If one of the players (both have me covered easily) has AQ or KQ, I guess I'm paying them off here. I push for my remainder and get called in both positions. Damn, this doesn't look good.

Turn brings a King, another overcard and I start packing my things. They both check. The river brings an Ace from heaven and I check the suits – nope, I've got the nuts. Lets see if I am splitting it.

The both check the river, and apparently the first guy was hoping to check-raise the river on the other guy. Player one has AT for a rivered two pair, and the second guy has T8 for a flopped-middle pair. Wow, after two callers on the flop and another overcard on the turn, there was no way I thought I was ahead. Turns out I was ahead all the way facing about 4 outs on the river. That helped a lot.

I knocked out the bubble and survived to make it heads up against the player who had T8 above. Apparently he was having an amazing run of luck all night. Now he had me out chipped 4-1 and the blinds raised again. I had 5BB only, and was in push or fold mode. I made an error and he won with a pair of 2's to take out first.

And then I got robbed for the second time. They had made a mistake with the calculations for the payouts, and the kitty was $10 short. Since they had already paid third and separated the $350 first place money, they decided to deduct $10 from the second place money to make it only $60, or down to 13%. In my mind, it should have been about $130 and in the end it was $60. But what can you do? I was annoyed, but I just made a little joke of it and left it at that. Also this is a large group of friends that are playing together, and I'm sort of a friend of a friend who is into poker so I feel like they look at me as a bit of a shark in this game. Not that they don't make me feel welcomed. 1 guy did pick me as the "red hot favourite" before the game started, which did worry me a little.

But alas, this was the first foray into live poker for some time, and the first game since I established an actual live bankroll. It was good to book a win regardless of the size.

I have played a total of 20 minutes of online poker this month so far. At the absolute insistence of some friends, we went out on St. Patrick's Day without the Distraction. I had a great night and noticed something weird – Parties are different now that I am married, I even enjoy them more! You see, when you're single, it's all about trying to hook up. When I was attached, I was worried that any time I talked to a girl, she would think I was trying to hit on her (because I would still my usually charming self with lines made of golden comedy and witticism, and stories of my mad poker skillz). Now, I don't have to worry about it because girls notice the ring on the finger straight away and they seem much more comfortable I guess. Any way, just something weird that I noticed. But it also gives me the unique perspective of not being in competition for the attention of the females in the party, while the multitude of my single mates are. It was really funny watching one guy try his best when the target in question gave an obvious "tell" that she had eyes for someone else. I couldn't remember everyone's names, so when we were going through them again to one of her friends, I said "And so Cat is the one inside who likes Ben?".

"Is it that obvious?" She replied, to which another friend of mine piped in…

"Married people have a sixth sense about things like that."

Truth be known, it was my mad poker skillz in reading people that gave it away, I was really just fishing for an answer to see if I was right. I was, and now I get to inform my mate Ben that he is cleared for take off.

Anyway, the real reason for telling the story was I got home at about 3.30am, snuck into the bedroom to let the Distraction know I was home and I would relegate myself to the spare bedroom to spare her from my brewery smell and the snoring to come. She replied in the affirmative – very affirmative if I recall.

The inter-webby machine is also kept in the spare room, and for no good reason I thought some late night poker was in order. Again, for no good reason I thought Omaha Hi/Lo looked good at 3.30am. It was a 6 person SNG, and I'll be darned if I didn't win the thing. I think I was too drunk to try fancy plays, and just pushed it when I had something and people called me when they were drawing. At least I think that is what happened, I can't recall all that much. I do remember winning, and I remember thinking "I'm far too drunk to be playing poker, what the hell am I doing?".

The distraction made up for it the next night. I was called out to run another tournament at a pub, and she decided that since she had nothing better to do she may as well come along and play in it, as well as one of our other friends.

The two of them got knocked out pretty early and then decided to see if they could challenge the rest of the bar in double-bourbon and cokes. I think they won.

However, our friend who came along (lets call him Dave, because that's his name) had an absolute gem. He doesn't know much about poker at all – in fact, out of the 30 people there, he came 30 th. After enough people are knocked out, we throw some chips on an empty table and call it a practice table. A girl sat down and declared she had never played before in her life and knew nothing about poker. Quick as a whip Dave spoke up. While holding a single chip in his hand he said the following:

"See these? These are chips. They are good. You want more of them."

And I thought I could not have summed up poker more perfectly or succinctly if I tried.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Live Games

The Criminologist: Crawling, on the planet's face. Some insects, called the Human Race. Lost in Time, and Lost in space... and meaning.
"Rocky Horror Picture Show"

Wow, it just seems like the past 2 weeks have flown by, and I can't remember much that has happened at all to be honest – and not in a good way. Much like the quote above, I have been a little insect of late just crawling on this earth, going from work to home and back again. I haven't played poker in weeks, but that is all about to change hopefully.

Just to go over a few things from the past few weeks that have occurred:

I had an ex-girlfriend from highschool call me the other day. I haven't heard or seen her in nine years, and then I get a phone call out of the blue. She had heard along the grape vine that I had got married, and just one week after she too had taken the plunge. Wow, nine years and no contact and then she decided to make a phone call (after going through 2-3 other people to get a hold of my number). And then what? She had absolutely nothing to say. And I was pretty much the same. It was one of the weirdest phone calls of my life I think. "Hi, haven't seen you in 9 years…catch you later!".

I'm still running the tournaments at a few pubs in Sydney. The gig is in it's 5th week now, and I'm happy to say I have finally been paid for my work. Things were getting a bit scary there for a minute, but the money has come through so everything is all good.

I was even charged with the task of finding other people to help out with the tournament director duties. I'd deal with all the technical stuff while they could basically stack chips and colour change people as needed. I was telling this to my lovely Distraction ant 11.30pm after one of the tournaments, when she asked "So who do you think you will get to help you?"

I looked at her intently…"Well…"

Her instant reply "No fucking way."

"I calmed her down and said I actually had one of our mates in mind, and I didn't think she would like to do it (she doesn't like staying up late unlike myself), but I thought it would be best to keep myself out of trouble if I at least ran the idea past her first.

Then the next morning, just as I am asking one of my friends if they would be interested in a bit of extra cash, she calls me on my mobile and says "Don't ask anyone else, I'll do it."

Wow, that was a quick turnaround. From not a chance in hell to you better have not asked anyone else in a matter of hours. This would be working together, admittedly for only a few hours a week, but there was a vital little fact that had to be observed and would no doubt cause tension.

You see, I'd be her boss. She would have to do as I say.

She isn't going to like this.

Now I've run poker games, home games and tournaments for a number of years. I know how they run and consider myself pretty well up on all the technicalities of dealing and how to solve disputes. I know how to run a tournament, to put it short. I've run a few of these particular ones before and I have all the answers to the basic questions you get asked 100 times a night. The distraction does not, but that didn't stop her from letting me know how things should be done. Yeah, this looks like it is going to be fun. Truth be told, it wasn't all that bad, but we are looking to move to a pub closer to home to make things easier on the both of us.

These are free tournaments where you accumulate points, and the highest point scorers compete in a final to win a main event ticket for the WSOP this year. Considering these are free rolls, you have to take that into account when you are judging the skills of the field. We have between 40-50 runners a night at the pub I'm running, which is a nice number really and the blinds are structured so that it isn't push or fold after 10 minutes. It's amazing some of the things I still hear at the tables though, and it is surprising what people consider to be mad poker skillz. Having said that, there are one or two regulars at the game who I wouldn't like sitting across the table from. When you hear them talk and explain their actions, you can really tell that they understand the fundamentals and even a few of the basic percentages and so on.

Then there are the others. I recall this girl, probably 20 or 21, doing pretty well when her big hands got paid off and what not. Anyway, she got knocked out at about 12 th I think, and she asked me where she finished. I looked it up on the laptop and told her "12th out of 48", which I thought was alright. Nothing to brag about, but it is ok. She wasn't impressed though, saying "That's all? My boyfriend beat 330 people in an online tournament!". Um, ok. I don't know if all tournaments can be compared just like that – otherwise he would have finished -290 in this tournament. He didn't finish -290, he finished 42 nd. His best finish so far is 35th. I must admit he has been unlucky, he hasn't won once while trying to draw to his jack high flush…

Speaking of the women at the games, there are probably only 3 or 4 regulars, but I don't think any of them have finished in the bottom half of the tournament yet. None have won either, but there have been a few final table appearances and some good showings, just none of them busting early. Small sample size, but interesting. No ego involved in their decisions – and probably less alcohol too.

It is amazing how serious some people take the free tournaments. We had one guy storm out because he said the game was too slow (this was just after he busted, mind you). I suppose he expects the greens to be watered and mown daily at the local putt-putt course too. But those that take the games in the right spirit are back each week, and I'd say 90% of them are eager to learn how to play better which is great. Besides the one guy, I've had no trouble what so ever. That might have something to do with the big Maori security at the pub too. Seriously, these guys seem to be bread to be rugby players and bouncers, and their scary as hell at both. If you are unfamiliar with these New Zealand natives, hire the movie "Once We're Warriors". I've never met a Maori guy that wasn't a top bloke, not that I'd admit that to any of them.

To run these games, I basically go straight from work one night a week to the pub, get changed there and then set everything up, run the thing and get home around midnight to upload the results to the main web page. Suffice to say there is not much time for anything else on these days, but one must sacrifice in order to leave well enough above their means, and it isn't a real big sacrifice in the end anyway.

Going to the tournament last week was a little bit difficult. In the morning, I had neglected to make myself some lunch for work. Usually this isn't a big issue, but today it was because I would not have a chance to go home afterwards to grab tea as I was off to the pub for the tournament of course. Another problem was that it was the day before pay day, so of course the bank balance was running a little dry – something it has become accustomed to of late. I still hadn't been paid for running these tournaments for four weeks, despite filling out about 8 different forms and doing everything I had been asked of (twice). I was resigned to the fact that I would have to go grab something after work and use the Mastercard to pay for it. There was one fast food restaurant on the way to the pub that I can use, which was fortunate because I didn't have enough time to go too far out of my way.

I pulled up and felt slightly embarrassed about the prospect of putting a sandwich on credit card, when I got to the front counter and saw a little A4 sign saying their machine was out of order. Damn it, and boy was I hungry at this stage.

So I continued driving to the pub knowing that I would be starving by the time the game was finished, and more than likely there would be nothing in the house that I could cook up in less than 45 minutes when I got home.

I stop at some traffic lights and see a Caltex service station across on the other side of the intersection. I peek down at my tank reading, which is just below the full marker. Damn, if it was empty I could have filled up and then chucked some stuff on with the petrol. For some reason, I couldn't bring myself to go to the petrol station to put a sandwich on credit card.

But then I remembered – I don't pay for petrol. I use a Caltex card that we got when we bought our new couches. With the beautiful leather lounges (which are damaged at the moment by the way) came a special offer of $1,000 free fuel. I have one of the $500 cards in my wallet that I use to fill up with, but I could also use it to grab some of the fantastic microwavable food that you find at these 24 hours service stations. I have never been so happy to get a chicken sandwich and coke in my life.

It may seem rather insignificant, but usually my life goes along the lines of Murphy's Law. But at that time, something went right for a change. This is a turning point people, a turning point damn it!

Slightly off track there, but anyways now that I have finally been paid I have an official B&M poker bankroll. Sure, I probably won't use it for a few weeks, but it is burning a hole in my pocket as we speak. It won't be long before I am hollowing out a copy of Doyle's super system to keep all my rubber-band-wrapped bills for safe keeping.

Last night we finally got our "Munchkin" game direct from the USA. I did this on the recommendation of Will and so far I am 1-0 against the distraction. Not sure if we are playing it right, and I'm not sure if there is a right way to play it. I'm already pretty fond of it and I could see it being awesome when there are more players in it. We got the original version plus the add-on, so we are stocked up to the hilt with the cards. The sad thing is they don't come with an appropriate container for the cards, so rubber bands will have to do. Tis a shame.

Otherwise, I'm looking forward to getting more friends involved in Munchkin, and increasing our board game collection in the coming years. Sadly, the Xbox was sold on eBay last week. That was the forth game console I've bought and sold since I was 15. I'll be waiting a while I think before the 360 takes pride of place in our lounge room.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Heafy's House Of Awesomeness IV

Alex Hitch Hitchens: I'm a guy. Since when do we get anything right the first time?

It’s been a while, but I have been motivated by recent actions to make another addition to Heafy’s House of Awesomeness.

Today, I would like to induct four little children that have made life better. But that would be too narrow, and to be fair I must include the greater range of work that deserves such a notion. I was going to induct “South Park”, and indeed that was the spark for this, but instead I thought it more wise to induct Matt Stone and Trey Parker, as their body of work never fails to impress me.

South Park first became really popular in the late nineties where the merchandise was everywhere, and people were lamenting the poor fate of young Kenny where ever you went. This all despite the show being on the seldom watched SBS network here in Australia, with little or no fan fare introducing it to our nation. I’m pretty sure half the South Park “fans” had never seen an actual episode until it came to Pay TV, a few years later. Never the less, South Park was one of the most popular programs going around, and then the fever pitch died off.

Rumours were abound in our little country town that a well known celebrity had bought South Park so he could banish it because he found it so offensive, and that also in the final episode Kenny revealed himself to be E.T. Both rumours were pretty silly and I don’t know how they started, but all that happened really was all the casual fans found something else to do – which was a shame, because this was just before season 5 where in my opinion the shows started to get better.

Just recently they have again been in the news about the “controversial” Scientology episode. Not because it showed the “religion” up as a ridiculous scam invented by a science fiction writer based on stories that wouldn’t make it in a Twilight Zone episode, but because of a joke about Tom Cruise being “in the closet”. Threats to sue have led to the episode getting banned in the UK, but thankfully our local SBS decided to air it as intended last week. Kudos to them!

But alas, it seems the very next episode of the series, titled “Bloody Mary”, also attracted controversy. This time at least the episode warranted it I guess. Showing the Pope getting splattered with menstrual blood from a statue of the Virgin Mary could be considered offensive to some people I guess. Did I just write that? Anyways, when there was an attempt to boycott the episode in New Zealand, the ratings went through the roof – Quadrupling! SBS though were not as brave. In light of the recent cartoon violence, they decided not to air the episode. They have pushed it back a few months, and we’ll see it they show it then.

The South Park movie was the first movie I saw at the cinemas where I didn’t stop laughing all the way through. We were signing “Uncle Fucker” for months after that. The fact that there was only one other person in the cinema when my mate and I saw it made it even better.

The second and only other movie that I saw and couldn’t stop laughing all the way through was Team America: World Police. BASEketball came very close to this, as did Cannibal The Musical. The drunken audio commentary on Cannibal makes the movie even better.

Often the statements on issues that Matt Stone and Trey Parker make through South Park are really in line with my own opinions. I haven’t seen such a consistency in my thoughts and opinions like this until I started watching Penn & Teller Bullshit.

I used to do a pretty good Cartman voice too, but sadly this vital skill has since lapsed.

I recall once saving up thousands of Time Zone (local video arcade chain, could be international for all I know) tickets to score some South Park toys that looked so cool. I had to split the set of four with a friend, but I still have my “Beefcake” and “Authority” Cartman sitting proudly on my computer desk at home. That’s where I keep my extremely small supply of collectable crap – it’s up there along with a Silent Bob and Dante “In-Action Figures” from Clerks animated series (still boxed too – wow!) and a No-Longer-Talking Boonie. Plus some other stuff, like a miniature Starbug. Extra points for those that know where that came from.

A little tangent there, but no to worry.

If I was forced to choose a favourite episode of South Park, I think it would be when we got introduced to Professor Choas, and his evil plan to flood the world with his hose, and all his nasty plans were foiled by “Simpson’s did it!” I don’t know why, I just found that episode hilarious and it stands out in my mind now.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Nicholas: And you really believe that just because you publish children's books, people are going to care about my reputation? You can have pictures of me wearing nipple rings, butt-fucking Captain Kangaroo. The only thing they care about is the stock and whether that stock is up or down!
"The Game"

I did want to mention in the last post that I have taken on the advice offered from Duggle, and I am now calling for the 2 of hearts each time I am ahead and the money is all in (unless the villainous opposition needs that card). So far the system is 5 for 5, and the one time I forgot to do it, my opponent spiked a four outer to send me to the rail.

Is it stupid that I am putting so much merit into this? Yes it is. But what can you do?

Tonight I head back to the tournament directors gig at the pub. I’ve promised myself that if I don’t get paid this week then the dream is over...well, that is if your dream was to spend a few hours in a pub watching people go all-in with Q8 suited and win, then yes the dream will be over.

Noble poker have seen it within their wisdom to give me another $10 to muck around with. Hey, what do I care? It’s doing well, up to $25 or so, but this is what has always happened when they do this and I end up loosing it all sooner or later. We’ll see what happens this time.

So the whole blogging Universe is talking about the players getting busted for playing multiple accounts, and their lame excuses for doing it. I have to say, what did you expect? It is obviously an unethical approach to the game, I would have been surprised if they came out and said “Yep, I cheated, shame on me”. Of course, it does make you think how many others are doing it and getting away with it.

Which reminds me of this doco I saw on Discovery once about casino cheats. I agree with what everyone else has said, imagine if these guys got caught in a real casino trying to cheat. After going through all the ways people have tried to cheat before, inside jobs and card counting techniques, the head of security of one casino gave two pieces of advice that I think must be part of the mantra of casino security, and both of the recent cheats caught would have to agree with them.

Firstly, you haven’t lost a cent until you’ve paid them. They might have swindled all those chips into their pockets, but until they turn them into cash and walk out the door, it isn’t over. These two guys had close to half a million dollars taken off them collectively, money they had already “won” – is won the right word? – and had sitting in their bankrolls. What happens? *PING* Just like that it is gone, either to the coffers of the house or redistributed (which was a nice touch from Pokerstars).

And secondly, he gave the advice that you may cheat the house once, twice or even a thousand times. But if they catch you just once, they win. The house always wins.

There is no such thing as a famous cheat, they always get caught to become famous. I think we have two people that have just entered online folklore.

Do you think Lee Jones will offer them a position in security trying to catch other cheats? Me thinks not. But then again, he probably won’t make them dig their own graves out in the Nevada desert, so they were pretty lucky.

I think another sad thing is that these guys can obviously play. Sure, they used foul tactics and have all the resources of online programs at their finger tips, but to even be able to play those levels successfully they must have some poker smarts (if no common sense).

So where are they playing now? Do online poker sites share details of players caught cheating? Not that it isn’t easy for them to play under another different name, but one wonders…

Do you think people at the 1c/2c tables are running multiple accounts?