Sunday, April 30, 2006

Top 5 Movies I Have Absolutely No Right To Like

Sonny: Don't worry about me making money. I'm in love with a woman who makes plenty of it. She could be my sugar mamma.
Homeless Guy: I gotta get me one of those.
"Big Daddy"

5 - Love Actually
I have made mention of this move before as a way for my married readers to make an informed "chick flick" choice that they have a chance of enjoying with their Distraction. The film follows several little love stories that cross paths but don't really. There are some genuine comedic moments for you and some tear jerkers for her. I just enjoyed it because of the fast pace - skipping from one story to the next it really doesn't have any slow moments which is something new for a romantic comedy. Great cast too.

PRO: From Richard Curtis, the writer of "Black Adder"

CON: From Richard Curtis, the writer of "Bridget Jones' Diary".

4 - Hudson Hawk
I was a lot younger when this movie was released, but I'm pretty sure it bombed and won a Razzie or two. It makes pretty much no sense, and has Bruce Willis hitting on - and scoring - a nun. That right there should have sent alarm bells ringing. But for some reason, I just enjoyed it. I think it was a bit of the bumbling crook story line going that interested me at that age, but it has stayed with me for all those years. The fact that nobody else liked it sort of made it better for me too. Keeping time by singing old tunes was a novel approach and may have began a secret soft spot I have for musicals despite zero musical ability of my own.

PRO: Would you like to swing on a star...

CON: Sandra Bernhard - who in the world considers her funny or attractive?

3 - Crocodile Dundee III
When the original came out, it put a stereotype in place for Australia. It paved the way for many Australian's into the national spot light, and gave Paul Hogan a film career out of a some-what successful TV sketch show. When the second one was made, I think have the script was photocopied from the original and everyone just phoned it in. They waited years before making the third instalment, and I'm pretty sure it was straight to video. It was PG rated and even had an annoying kid as one of the leads with Mick Dundee and his wife. Set in Los Angeles, it had all the typical jokes about a guy from the Aussie Outback in the big city, but it had a few cheesy jokes that just seemed to click with me. It was described to me by my boss at the video store as "Very watery", and it was but you'll get a laugh out of it. Believe it or not, there are one or two clich├ęs that they actually steer away from! Good cameos too.

PRO: Some times, you're just in the mood for cheesy jokes.

CON: Some times, you're not.


2 - Moulin Rouge
This movie had a heap of box office action and tabloid press for it. It was Baz Lurman's big return to film after Romeo and Juliet and Strickly Ballroom, both movies I detest (and I later discovered that the opinion of his work within the Aussie film industry is extremely poor). It was also Nicole Kidman's return to work after years...many, many years of absolute crap movies. The publicity and praise lumped on her had nothing to do with the fact that she split with Tom Cruise just before this movie. Hell, she even squeezed an Oscar nomination out of this tripe. Just to show how publicity can affect the punters mind, my Distraction said to me "I really like Nicole Kidman as an actress."
I replied "Oh really, name one movie of hers you like?"
That was a few years ago, I'm still waiting for a response. So yeah, I'm not a big fan of "Our Nic". She's not even Australian damn it, she's born over seas (but Aussie have a big history of claiming famous people like that).
So basically, while all the publicity about this movie was given to Nicole and her performance, I thought she sucked.
But enough about my little Anti-Kidman rant - this musical had some catchy tunes in it. Because it was rated PG here in Australia, we could put it on the store TV's when I was working at the video store, and finding any PG movie that was good was always a plus. Ewan McGregor was awesome, as was John Leguizamo - actually, the entire support cast was now that I think about it. I found it almost frustrating to like this movie despite the lead. And sorry for forgetting actor's names (and not being arsed to look it up at IMDB), but the Argentinean narcoleptic's rendition of The Police's "Roxanne" was brilliant.

PRO: Ewan McGregor putting emotion and talent in a performance that had every one else acting tounge in cheek around him.

CON: Try telling someone you like this film AND women - it seems to be mutually exclusive.

1 - Rocky Horror Picture Show
Why? WHY? Why do I like this damn movie? I guess because I saw it at a very impressionable age. I guess because my parents had the soundtrack on tape and I had not much else to listen to on my new tape player. And I guess because even at a young age, I could tell talent when I saw it and Tim Curry is awesome.
I still have no real idea why I liked it - maybe I have some deep desire to be able to sing and dance when sadly I suffer from Caucasian Disease and can do neither. I really hate the fact that so many freaks dedicate their life to the movie too. Man, I hate the fact that I share a taste in film to them (see also Crow, The). I hate the Time-warp too.
Unlike all the others movies, I really do have no idea what made me like the movie so much. And why the hell can I sing nearly every song word perfect even though I haven't seen this movie in nearly ten years, and I don't even own it on DVD?

PRO: I'm still trying to figure it out.

CON: The Freaks man, the Freaks.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Big Fish, Bigger Pond

Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: This is the captain. We have a little problem with our entry sequence, so we may experience some slight... turbulence and then explode.
"Serenity"

Last night, for the first time in nearly a month, I played some online poker. Actually the truth is I played some a few days ago – sat down at a $50 NL table and played two hands. I re-stole when someone raised my big blind first hand and then folded the next two. I realised I was really not into the game and then stood up after three hands and about $1 profit. But last night I just felt like a little poker action before I went to bed, and Full Til poker had my hook up.

I looked quickly through the SNG lists to find a game that was ready to go, not really caring what the level was. I went through the list and stopped on the $30 +$3 games, and sat down with 8 of my friends to toss some digital chips into the middle.

The first two hands, I was in late/middle position and was dealt crap so I folded. Everyone else except the blinds folded for those two hands as well, and for some reason the thought popped into my head that this table wasn't going to be as hard as I would usually think. I'm not sure if I have ever played a $30+ SNG before, and any rise in levels is usually met with a bit of self doubt and maybe even over-caution and the new superior skill levels that people must have to be playing at these higher levels. But after only two hands, I decided that I was the best player at this table, and everyone else was scared. Everyone else was playing outside their comfort zone, so I would capitalise on that. Why this thought after only two hands I don't know, but I decided to run with it.

Without hitting a hand, I managed to nearly double up by raising in position and then betting on the flop when it was checked to me. I was hoping I had an aggressive image by now and just looked for a hand to pay me off. Other fell to the dreaded pre-flop all-in including 55 getting over KK. That was hilarious, because the KK guy typed in chat "WTF? Moron goes all-in with 55, that is the most stupid play I have ever seen – no offence." My early chip lead was now relegated to third after that little event, and I have yet to knock anyone out (which is why others had taken over my chip lead). I stole the blinds with a suited King and the blinds were starting to get high thanks to 5 minute levels. That steal put me just into second, and then I got dealt pocket aces on the big blind – isn't that a blessing? Even better was the raise from the third chip stack in middle position. That will not be a steal attempt, that is a playable hand right there. So, lets see how playable and just push it all in right here – he calls with pocket sevens and the flop is all high cards, good enough for me. My chip lead is back and in a big way. With five left, I have half the chips on the table and I could limp into the money if need be.

I don't though, and I bleed about a 1/3 of my stack by missing flops and dropping the hands. One of the boards read QJT98 all clubs, which is unusual and ended in the predicted split pot for the two players who were all-in before the flop – JJ and QTo.

On the bubble, the short stack was far too reluctant to put their chips in the middle, and when he had only 3BB left on my immediate right I had resigned to the fact that I would be going all-in with them at some stage. On my big blind, it was folded to the short stack who just called – well, that is a sure sign of a decent hand I thought. But I have a naked ace, so lets get the formalities out of the way and just push it all-in here. I did, and he didn't. I don't know what cards they had, but you've got to put your ships in when you have only 3BB and one of them just got stolen like that. Hope to get lucky – you need it!

On the next hand – when the short stack had two free looks, then he decided to shove it all in. I had crap so I folded and the big blind reluctantly called with J8o versus the short stacks Kx. The eight hit, and that was enough. We're in the money.

Next hand, I am on the button and decided to raise with A3s. BB, a bit of a maniac (the one that went all-in pre-flop before with 55) comes back over the top of me for all his chips, about ½ my stack. I figured it was just a bluff and called really quickly, which I'm sure was to both of our surprise. Turns out he had 66, so this is pretty close to a coin flip situation. The flop was 245 with one spade, giving me my straight. The turn brought another spade, meaning he had 3 outs on the river to draw and none to win. They didn't come, and now I was a commanding chip leader once more. On about the fifth hand of heads up, we got it all in the middle before the flop with me holding AJd and him holding Ah8c. A jack hit the turn to make the river meaningless, and I'd won my first attempt at a $30 SNG, good for a $102 profit.

Ok, so that went a bit farther into hand histories than I would have liked, but I think the point of it all was for some reason I had no self doubt or lack of confidence despite jumping up a level or two from what I normally play online. I've been having a fantastic run of late, and that always helps in those stakes, but what I am learning more and more is that higher levels doesn't always translate into better players. Sometimes it just means players who are willing to loose more money than I am. If I loose $100 at the tables, it really hurts my bankroll. For others, $1,000 is nothing, and they are there to gamble.

So my read on the table after two hands was no doubt rushed, and was probably only true for 2-3 players at the table, but it helped my mindset. I had no suckouts, won only one race that I was in, and played really well for the rest of it. At one stage I had won a total of 18 hands, with only one of those at showdown. That's a nice table image to have when your cards are not hitting the flop as hard as you would like.

I cashed out about $50 to go towards bills and crap, still leaving myself with some money to muck around with online. I'm looking more and more towards cash games these days. Sometimes your tastes just move along and swap to different games and levels. I recall some time ago $1/$2 limit Omaha. Multi's and SNG have long been a staple of my poker diet. Limit poker – I dabbled here and there but rarely found any joy in it – both out of the fun of playing and the results. Even in home games now, I am much more inclined to play cash games – but recent results may just favour that slightly.

I'm finding live poker to be great fun at the moment, which is why online has been lacking a lot lately. I would normally play online during the week after tea, but sleep is more an option these days as the running of the tournaments at the pubs takes a lot out of me during the week. But last night was a quick little binge, and I was fortunate that the upswing continued.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

An Upswing

Holland Wagenbach: Is that a reporter?
Claudette Wyms: Yeah. Haven't you heard? Our captain's a "Latino to watch".
Holland Wagenbach: When's someone going to write an article about lanky white guys to watch?
"The Shield"

While some may be crying over the state of the movie business these days – declining box office and the like – fingers are being pointed everywhere. Earlier DVD releases, piracy, mobile phones, stupid damn ticket prices, sub standard movies to begin with, the list of reasons goes on and on. I think one ignored reason would be the advent of DVD box sets for TV shows, and some of the fantastic TV that has been coming out in the last 5 years or so. When you can get 13 episodes of "The Shield" on DVD for $20 extra than your standard 2 hour movie blockbuster, I think the choice is a lot easier.

In the past few years, here is a list of the TV shows that I have bought on DVD or someone in the house has bought: Arrested development, The Adventures of Lano and Woodley, The Late Show Champagne Edition, The Shield, 24, The Chapelle Show, Futurama, Penn & Teller Bullshit, Grey's Anatomy, Firefly, Red Dwarf, Tenacious D HBO
Series, Jackass, Viva La Bam, Scrubs, Astro Boy, The Office, Men Behaving Badly – I'm sure there is more but that list is just off the top of my head. I'm in more of a TV mood in the past few months, and I'd much rather pop in a disc of a few episodes than a 2 hour movie.

How the hell does anybody watch TV one episode per week any more? It's got me baffled.

The past weekend was a massive one, with a four day holiday here for Easter and Good Friday. Having so much time off work means that the home games are going to have to be played, and I clocked in an impressive 17 hours of them.

The first game was closer to the city on Friday night, a $1/$1 $50 buy in NL game that I have played once before. These guys love to gamble, and they are either up 3-4 buy ins or down just as much, and usually this changes every hour or so. I was able to use my ultra tight image to grind out a decent profit on the night of $75, and I was more than happy with that. At one stage the action was 11 handed, which is just
too much but I wouldn't want to have anyone sit out. Nearly enough for two tables I guess. I didn't have any massive hands that I can recall, it was just picking up a $10 pot here and there kind of night for me. Not many of my winning hands made it to the river.

One of the players was the among the leaders in points for the free poker tournaments that I've been running. The tournaments are played at many pubs in Sydney, and I think he is coming second or third overall, with a few wins under his belt. But that was free poker – when there is actual money on the line, things are different. Either
he was very card dead or extremely timid in the action because on all his buy ins he would bleed away without seeing many flops/turns and then eventually be forced to go all-in with the last remaining $6 or whatever was left. He really looked out of his depth, but maybe it was just a bad night.

I got home at 4.30am, and a bed with clean sheets never felt so good.

The next night was another game with the regular guys at a new location. The game was 20c/40c $20 buy in NL, so just some fun small time poker. Last week in this game I walked out $100 the better, which I thought was phenomenal for the levels we were playing. I thought a down swing was due.

The game was 5 handed with a six player to come later. Early on I pulled off a massive move when I went all-in with the board showing 72x2. I had the seven only, but my opponent was convinced on the deuce and laid down kings. I was nearly down to the felt in that hand and would have been the first to re-buy if he had made the call. In my defence, I actually thought he had something like AK-AJ and I was ahead. I don't know why that is in my defence but anyway there you go.

A few hands later I hit a set against the same players' Queens, and this time the fold from him was the correct move, but not after I had already moved some more of his stack my way.

When the sixth player arrived and sat to my left, I made a customary pre-flop raise when I held decent cards. He thought I was picking on him, and said as much. What followed was three hours of him paying me off with every hand I hit. If he chased, he missed. If he hit, I hit harder. If he was down $80, I must have had $75 of it.

The host was having the most incredible luck. Every time he folded, he would flop two pair, a straight or better. It was becoming laughable how often it happened. When he decided not to fold, he would miss everything. The one time he did hit a flush on the turn with two hearts in his hand, I had two higher ones and took his whole stack.

We eventually wrapped up the night at 5.30am, but I wished the game would never end. Well, not true as I was dead tired and looking forward to going home so much, but the end of the night wallet check revealed a result in the positive to the tune of about $170.

The distraction turned down my offers for a third night of home games, not that I even tried to ask mind you. But I figured any other result would just be a disappointment considering the last three sessions were profits of 262BB, 75BB and 425BB at a rate of 32BB/hour, 12.5BB/hour and 47BB/hour.

Things have really turned around since I started keeping track of my results. It is nice to have an upswing every once in a while. I might not be making thousands, but I'm having fun and turning in an hourly profit that would make sweat shop workers proud.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Addiction

Victor Sweet: You know what? You don't pay a ho to fuck you. You pay her to leave.
"Four Brothers"
We've been wanting to see "Four Brothers" for a while now. And for all it's faults, I still enjoyed it. Sure, there is nothing in it that hasn't been in a million movies before, but it was worth spending two hours onand that is all you can ask for.

We've had a really poor run with movies so far this year. Nothing in the cinemas has made me really want to buy it on DVD. Except the Aristocrats, but I can't remember if that was this year or last. Pretty sure that was January. Anyways, we made a few DVD purchases in the last few weeks to keep the collection going. "Kiss the Girls" and
"Along Came A Spider" were long overdue in our DVD cabinet. I also picked up one of Ricky Gervais' stand up DVD's called "Animals". It's some pretty funny stuff, but man does the guy just have no idea how to end it. Without spoiling it, he leaves the stage to one of the poorest received jokes on the night – thankfully he comes back for another 10 minutes or so, but then leaves on a half decent joke that had nothing
to do with the rest of the show. It was just weird, and a shame because the rest of it was really good stuff.

Had another really good session of poker on Saturday night. It was a last minute call together and I was happy I made it. We only had five runners in the end, with two more giving a maybe to dropping by later(they didn't). We would be playing 20c/40c no limit with a $20 buy in.

Very early on I had pocket jacks hit their set on the flop, and got paid off when the small blind also had a flopped set of 2's. That caused the first rebuy of the night for him. 30 minutes later I had AA also hit their set, and caught another guy with a pair of aces and a draw, causing him to rebuy. We allow rebuying off players in these
games so there isn't as much money in play, so I has about $30 in front of me and already $20 profit in my wallet. It was looking to be a good night.

Nothing went wrong – I picked great spots to bluff on maybe 4 occasions, and didn't get caught on any of them. I knew when I was behind and folded some tough hands maybe half a dozen times. All my big hands got paid off – and I layed down queens to an all-in post flop that would have cost me.

Ok, so that was an easy lay down really. Against one of the players I had already cleaned out once, I raised his big blind from the button. He joked that I was picking on him and called to see a King high flop. He went all in with about $14 left, and I had to think about it as he could be doing this with just 2nd pair. I decided that I'd rather loose my $1.40 already in there than risk $14 for it, so we'll let it go. Turned out to be the correct move as he had a king and rabbit hunting showed no help coming for me.

I guess it was just that kind of night for me. I only ever put one bad beat on someone. The flop was AJx, and he bet out. I called saying "I'm going to suck out on you here" when all I had was a jack. The turn, yep thanks for that, was another jack. I almost started laughing at that one. He checked, and I bet out but I could already see that he knew what was happening, as did most of the other players. The river put out a possible flush, so I followed his check with one of my own and trips were good.

"I just can't beat this guy" he cried. And on the night, it was true. Good reads, better cards and some very nice flops.

When on the big blind, the guy who claimed I was picking on him raised it up. I had been dealt the rockets for the second time in the night, and decided to play it up a bit. I said he was trying to pick on me this time, and even thought the raise was only $1 I went all-in over the top of it. I never expected him to call, but if he did and won then I was still way up for the night anyway. He thought about it for ages and then folded his KT suited.

Strange, but when I said that my raising was saving them money, they didn't seem to see the silver lining. When I proclaimed to be a saint for my actions, I think I lost the congregation. Well that, and explaining that I was atheist and not agnostic earlier in the night.

Had some surreal moments though, when one of the more experienced players in the game didn't know the proper rules for flushes – like that you count all five cards when determining who has the higher hand, not just the first two. It was really hard to play poker police without sounding like a dick – as it is when you are trying to tell
someone to ship their chips over to another player. But I was just so surprised that they didn't know the proper rules.

They were also under the impression that some suits were valued higher than other suits in poker. This is of course not true, but I did learn that for games like stud, the bring in can be decided by which suit is higher if cards of the same value are showing. I never knew that, so there was something new for me. I was surprised to see that Spades was the highest, as I'm from the 500 school of thought where the order
from lowest to highest is spades, clubs, diamonds then hearts. So there you go, you learn something new every day.

When it came time to cash out at 4.30am, I already had four buy ins in my wallet, and $47 in chips on the table. Because there wasn't really a proper "banker" in the game and no coins or whatever to do the cash outs properly, I lost a bit in the mix by topping up other stacks and forgoing some shrapnel for my own, but that is all "swings and merry-go-rounds" in the end. Why just last week another player sent $5
my way to make the cash out easier, and a few weeks before I was stripped of $10 because of a miscalculation, so I guess I'm still well behind on this fact. Damn, I only just realised that. In the end though I'm still counting it was a $100+ night, making two out of the last three in that category.

I have been trying to catch up on some reading, as I am months behind on most of the blogs that I used to read on a daily basis but am no longer able to. Through a little snippet on some blogs, I managed to find my way to "Silent Bob Speaks", Kevin Smith's Boring Ass Life blog. He is currently telling the story of his Hetero Life Partner's
struggle and victory over drug addiction, and it is one compelling story (almost near completion in the blog). It is well worth the read and written so well coming from the obvious first person point of view. I think it is easier reading it knowing that Jason Mewes obviously overcomes his demons in the end.

Firstly, about Kevin Smith. His "Boring Ass Life" seems fucking ideal to me. I love the fact that he stops in once a week to his local store and picks up whatever new release DVD's are for sale. Ok, obviously this is a little perk of having more money than you know what to do with, but it shows that he is just a fan of whatever comes up on that screen, something that I and many of his fans can easily relate to. He's also a pretty bad poker addict too, so I can pass that off as reason alone to mention his blog here. He seems to bleed money online as Annie Duke tops him up regularly.

But the guy has plenty of time to spend with his wife and kid, and all the movies he could ever wish for. The majority of his diary days end with him falling asleep with his wife to tivo'd episodes of Simpsons or Law and Order. That's just such a simple pleasure I think, something that I would love to be a regular part of my life/job.

And he is very open about…well, everything in his life. I went right back through the year long archives and read it from the start. Nothing it seems is off limits – well, except spoilers for Clerks 2. Even the most intimate moments with his wife are on display for all to read. Even his most intimate moments without with wife, in the bathroom with porn in hand are on display for all to read.

While I'm not a big fan of reading about a tubby guy jacking off in the bathroom to nudie pics on his laptop, there is something oddly sweet about it. As ah…inspiration…the porn pics in question were of his wife. I found that really weird, but strangely it kinda makes sense and shows what a lucky life that guy does have.

But getting back to the story, what got me reading were the current posts about Jason Mewes beating drug addiction. Addiction is a funny thing, and I remember author and wrestler Mick Foley (who reminds me of Kevin Smith a lot, both in looks and their work ethics) talking about addictions in one of his brilliant books. Basically he was
admitting an addiction to pumpkin. You would have to read it to understand it, but it was all about how he could understand addictions and why people would do anything to chase that next hit. If he was told he couldn't have that next piece of pumpkin pie, he would do anything to chase one down. I don't know if he would knock over a
convenience store, but it was just a way of illustrating a point – we're all addicted to something.

Now I'm anti-drug as they come. I mean, passively that is. I'm dead against it, but couldn't give a fuck about if anyone else wants to do it. I'll tell them they are stupid for it, but only if they ask. I've never tried drugs mind you, except alcohol. But I get addicted to stuff all the time. It usually lasts a few months before it wears off and I start looking for a new addiction. Yeah, I try to find a new addiction rather than have one find me, which is how I guess most drug addicts get hooked.

At one stage I thought I could have been addicted to poker, maybe about half way through last year. But now I know I'm not, because some times I just could not be arsed to play – online especially. I guess the shine has worn off, but I still love playing cards and the social aspect of the game. I think I love the fact that you can actually make money on a social thing, and that makes it more appealing than other pursuits.

Addictions are a funny thing. While some people would say a person beating a debilitating addiction like drugs should not be applauded because the person in question was stupid for getting mixed up in the first place, I'm left to agree and disagree with them. Anyone who goes through drugs for whatever reason, and then remains dry for more than a full year deserves praise methinks. Kicking the habit aint easy, but staying out of it is a real achievement. If you went dry for twelve months and then had a bit of a party, then you've let yourself down and all those around you. Getting clean isn't worthy of praise – that's just finally succumbing to common sense. Staying clean is a real challenge, and as Jason Mewes celebrates 3 years without going back to his demons, I think he deserves some kudos.

Oh, and Nicole Ritchie fucked him in the bathroom of a night club. No wonder he got off the drugs.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Reputation

Stanley: It's not gonna end like this.
Gabriel: Oh, come on, Stan. Not everything ends the way you think it should. Besides, audiences love happy endings.
"Swordfish"

As we return to modern times…

That was quite a little diversion wasn't it? I really am feeling the poker bug now.

I played in a regular home game last week, a game I was invited to some time ago but I didn't have the time or the bank to attend. When I found myself with both, I decided to make ti at least once to see what it was like.

The night started out with six runners, but heaps of guys would join and leave during the night. I manages to get my buy in from $50 to $125 at it's peak, and eventually cashed out dead even for the night.

My early wins were with AK both times. I called all-ins when my opponent was on a draw or had hit the ace only. After that, I basically gave up raising pre-flop as it did nothing to scare anyone off. I had decent cards and the flops would come crappy, and someone would have 2 nd or 3rd pair. I'd never improve, and so I lost most of my profit for the night without getting past a flop. It was just crappy cards and flops for me.

I made a poor decision too, when on the button with a raise of $2 to $3 UTG, everyone called. I had Q3s, and decided that I was up against it and I should save my $3. I was the only one out of the 7 players sitting that pot out. Of course, the flop was all spades. Decent sized already, it wouldn't have mattered if I didn't get another cent out of them. Nevermind. As a richer man than me once said, folding to a raise is only a small mistake.

One player was calling down everything, even when holding King high once. I was just itching to catch a hand against him as he would surely pay me off. I get dealt pocket 8's and limp from middle position. The flop is 866 and I'm in pretty good shape. I could try to slow play it, but lets just see if I can get enough calling stations with two cards to come to build it a little. I get 2 callers to my $5 bet and things are looking ok. The turn is a third 6, which could be disaster but maybe puts me in a dominating position. I just check it and then call a small bet from the calling station. This puts us heads up. The river is a King, which can only worry me if he is holding two of them in his hand. I decided that all I can be worried about is quads, and I'm probably going to pay him off if he has them. Can I risk a check-raise here? I decide no, so I bet out $25 into the maybe $30 pot. I'm confident he will call, and I'll probably cry if he raises.

Not only does he fold, he folds face up an eight. I couldn't believe it, after calling down everything all night the one time I had a hand he decides to make a great read. I don't think I could have laid it down in that case. Very annoying but what can you do? After this he decided to become the bluff master too.

I saw a guy drop $400 in 3 hands chasing flush draws and straight draws, all to the one player. In one case he flopped the higher flush so he was only drawing to a split pot, in the other he had the straight covered but not the flush. It was almost embarrassing for him, but he didn't seem to care so there you go I guess.

I got cold decked for the remainder of the night, except for getting pocket Kings. I decided just to limp and see what I could hit, but then another player after me made a $3 raise. I decided the pot was big enough now to put me back in the black so lets take it down. I re-raised it $25 which sends a pretty strong message. After thinking about it, the calling station from before says "I'm going to show you respect" and lays down T8d. Show me respect? Just throw your shit away! Turns out nobody wanted to call the bet, but they ran the flop anyway. It had an ace and a king, which means I might have got paid off more if some of the players did see the flop. But the river would have filled a straight for the T8d guy, which might have just put me over the edge I think.

By this stage, some of the stacks at the table were well over the $200 mark due to multiple re-buys from most of the players. Even when you buy chips off the table here, the money stays in play – which is different to how we play it normally at home. I guess opinion is divided on this, as we usually have the "only chips count" rule, and selling chips as an acceptable form of "Rat Holing". We also play smaller limits, and I guess this allows people who make a massive profit protect it slightly. I know the other way would be more correct for a casino game, as money on the table stays on the table and all that. Homes games should be different though, that's why we have them.

Anyways, when the game wrapped up I had had my fill and was happy to leave down only $2.60 which was for a vanilla coke I bought on the drive home. Better for the run, as they say.

I let the early results change my play, and I became an absolute rock by the end of it. That isn't so bad, because everyone else was loose aggressive, but I never really tried to use my image to my advantage. Quite the opposite in fact. The money on the table got so large that my stack just wasn't scary enough to push people off pots, and I never got the cards or played them right to get the money to make it scary enough. I've got something to improve on for next time, whenever that is.

I also relented to two pressures from the Distraction this week. The first was buying a new TV. The Distraction works for a large brand name in the TV business, and as such she gets discounts on such things. But really, 10-20% discount on a $4000 TV isn't that much to get excited about. Every now and then they have factory seconds, which are still covered under warranty. This would be the way we would go, but not until we got some of the other debts under control. However, as of this week they would stop doing this, which meant the end of the massive savings. The $4000 TV, a beautiful 42" Plasma with heaps of bonus extra special super features was $1600. Since this price won't be repeated, I let her put it on the credit card. They delivered it yesterday and we set it up last night. Man the thing is huge. All the dvd's look different now.

The sad thing is our TV reception is really terrible. This led to the other sign off on my part, as I had been holding back on getting Pay TV for some time. With a big screen like this though, you just got to make the most of it. Besides, thanks to the advertisements on the side there this blog is paying for it. That's right, no more monthly kicks into the online bankroll, it all goes to the little box on top of the TV now. Which is fine, because I will have less time for online poker now anyways.

One day we will be out of debt…one day.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Football Chronicles: Part 4

Dalton Russell : Soon I'm gonna be sucking down pina coladas in a hot tub with six girls named Amber & Tiffany.
Keith Frazier: No, it's more like in the shower with Jamal & Jesus, and it wont be a pina colada that you'll be sucking.
"Inside Man"

Continued from previous post…

I remember reading the stat sheet from the first game...I had 7 kicks and 10 handballs for a handy 17 possessions in my first game, which isn't too bad. I actually had more possessions than the Child Prodigy (12 and 3), even if he had essentially won the game for us.

The following week was a terrible game, and I was left in doubt as if I would still be in the team next week. In truth, everyone had a bad day and I don't think they had any intention of dropping me after only two games. The next game was back out the South, and we won by 70+ points. For the only time of the season, my name crept into the best players at the footy club. The local paper had me in the best players 2 or 3 times for the season, but I seemed to struggle for votes when it came to the club voters. Weird how that happens some times.

Anyway, the season continued and we won all the games from then on. My life revolved around Saturday, and school during the week was boring me to no end. All I wanted to do was play footy on the Saturday, and feel mildly important once again.

Later in the year, the main coach was out of town for work for whatever reason, and the assistant took over for one game. They decided to "experiment" and I got moved from my customary forward line position to the back line. Even in all my junior footy, I had played in the back line on maybe 5% of the time – it was something I just wasn't used to. I liked to run around and have someone chase me, rather than the opposite. The decision was made to "see if I could handle it", but I had a feeling it was just because there wasn't room up forward for me this week and somebody had to change.

Just after half time, I took a heavy hit to my leg. I tried running around but soon found out it wasn't working properly. The runner was already out there seeing how I was, and made the obvious decision that I had to go to the bench. I put an ice pack on and sat there disappointed.

Later in the final quarter, I was feeling ok but I didn't get put back into the game, not that I was needed. I sat out basically the last half as we won again comfortably.

The following week's game was played in atrocious conditions. The local radio station that was broadcasting the game had to stop every five minutes as they could not see the players through the fog. The temperature was reported at 6 degrees Celsius (about 42F), raining constantly and obviously immense fog. Games like this are ugly, and you are normally just happy to get through it with the win – which we did. I did ok, again not starring but happy to be back in the forward line. Typically for the weather the game was low scoring, and I think 3 or 4 goals from us was enough for the win.

The training continued, and we were getting closer to finals time by now. We had two games to go in the season until finals, and one of the senior players was 2 games away from his 200 th. I was really looking forward to that and set it as my own personal goal. After that I would concentrate on the finals.

Late Thursday night after training, I got a phone call from the Colts coach. This was unusual. He said "I don't think you are getting picked in A's this week, so will you be there on Friday night?"

I said of course I would, but I was a little bit shocked. I thought I had done enough to earn my spot, and to keep it. I thought again about the words he used and after over-analysing them far too much, decided that he didn't say he was sure I wasn't getting picked this week, only he thinks I wasn't. Of course the fact that he is in the meeting where these decisions are made crept into my mind, and he called me about five minutes after said meeting would have ended. Deep down I knew it was fact, but I wanted something to hang on to.

Friday morning rolls around, and my name is missing from the selection sheet in the paper. I felt pretty crappy, as I said before I felt I was good enough to stay in the side and my performances were good. Although my last two games were very quiet, they were understandably so. I got injured in one and in the other nobody had a good game due to the weather. But alas, making all these excuses/reasons for my inclusion to myself did little to change the fact that I had not been picked. This decision is referred to being "dropped", and it felt like it.

To rub the salt in farther, due to a Friday night game being cancelled due to the weather a few weeks before (they never cancelled A's, but colts were a different story), the colts were a week behind in their scheduling. This meant that even though I played round 16 the week before in A's, it was only round 16 this week in colts. Due to some funny rules of the league, you are allowed to go up a grade during a round but you can't go down a grade. Since I had already played A's in round 16, I had to sit out a week very late in the season. Not only was I frustrated that I couldn't play footy that week at all, I also couldn't win my way back into the seniors side if I wasn't playing.

The following week would be the final game for the season before finals for the league team, and the 200th game for the senior player I mentioned before. I would be watching from the stands.

I decided that I would be doing everything I could to show I was still good enough in the colts, but I knew they would be very reluctant to make changes to the team going into the finals. Also, I didn't see any of the senior coaching staff in the stands for the Friday night colts games. It didn't matter that I was back to my dominating self in these games, there was nobody to see them.

The Child Prodigy had been selected in the Under 17 State team to compete at the national championships, and did two things at the competition. He played well enough to garner more interest from farming teams, and had severely broken his finger. He would be unable to play footy for a couple of months, which meant all of the finals. It was a big blow for the A's, and made no difference to my chances of getting back into the team.

The week before the grand final, the competition holds their awards night as part of the lead up to the big day on Saturday. They would announce the awards for the Reserves and Colts, and then count down the votes for the A's. I thought if I got 1 vote for the A's, I would have done well. I had no chance at the Best Junior award in A's, as the Child Prodigy was hands down the winner before the votes were even counted. In fact, they even said on the night the only surprise there was that he didn't win by more. I came forth in that voting, which was ok I guess since I only played 8 games.

I didn't attend the night as I didn't see much point. I had no chance to win any of the A's awards, and I only played half a season in Colts so I couldn't poll enough votes to win anything down there. Dad went to the night though, as he was President of the footy club at the time. I wasn't bothered, and didn't wait up for them to come home to find out who won the medal that year.

I was woken up some time that night by my drunken parents and a few others – including the coach of the reserves team. They had brought back some helium balloons from the night, and were in very high spirits. Mum tied the balloon to the radio sitting on my bedside table, and then they let me know I had in fact won something. I had polled enough votes in the 9 games (it is an 18 game season) that I played to be clear by 5 votes in the Colts for Best Player. It took a while for it to sink in, but as a junior year player I had played half a season and polled enough votes to win. I was a little shocked, yet felt a little justified. To win the award as a junior was one thing, but to do it in half a season was something else. Unlike MVP voting in the US, the votes here are given out after each game – 3 for the best player, 2 for second and 1 for third. I had polled votes in ever game I played, and I guess at least I got something out of the season.

I didn't get a vote in the A's, though this wasn't a major surprise. I thought I might have snuck in for one, but I didn't so not too worry. The grand final was this Saturday, so I focused on that.

All three grades – A's, reserves and colts – made the grand final. Colts play first and we lost for the first time in 7 years, against the same team that we had beaten in six of them. For some reason I wasn't overly upset by the loss, I guess I felt more concerned about the A's – even though I had played more games in the year for Colts. I would be watching the A's Grand Final in the stands, sitting next to the Child Prodigy who was still nursing his broken finger/s.

During half time of the A's grand final, both of us had a presentation in front of the crowd. Me for my Colts Best and Fairest, him for his A's Best Junior award. I guess at least I got a little glory on the day.

In the end, A's went down fighting (literally), and came off second best. For a town that takes footy so seriously, loosing a grand final is something that really hurts. The Child Prodigy and I went into the change rooms after the game, and the scene was something unbelievable. The disappointment and emotion was certainly let out by the players. Grown men, working hard all year now for naught, were brought to tears.

Later on while The Child Prodigy and I were walking home, we both hardly said a word. Winning that game was very important to both of us, even if we were in the stands and not playing.

Later on I learned the reasons behind me being dropped from the A's – although I would have appreciated them at the time I could understand why I had been overlooked. It was coming to finals times, and the coach had opted to go for seniority over young players. What had happened is that I was picked in the side originally in the hope that I would gain some experience while other guys were injured, and then drop back to colts after 2-3 games. I was good enough to delay that decision by a few weeks, but as the finals crept closer they looked for a reason to drop me back down. Would I have made the difference between winning and loosing for the A's? I highly doubt that, but I still think I deserved to play. I had a lot of friends in the other three teams, and all of them were pretty shocked when I was dropped. But that was the way life goes some times.

Later in the year, the club holds their own awards night. Even though I was judged the best player in the competition, the club voting was different. I was only good enough to come third, but took consolation in the fact that the formal presentation of my awards for the League was made that night.

In the next post, I will wrap up my small town footy career.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Football Chronicles: Part 3

Jonathon "Mox' Moxon: If we go out and half-ass it 'cause we're scared, then we'll always wonder if we were really good enough. But if we go out there and give it all we've got... that's heroic. You guys wanna be heroes?
"Varsity Blues"

This story is a lot similar to Varsity Blues – with the small town obsession with a sport side of things anyway. Anyway, there are a few chapters left in this so lets get back into it

I don't think I told my parents about the conversation I had with the assistant coach. I don't think I believed it myself, and I was trying really hard not to get my hopes up. But I couldn't keep it inside me. I had to tell someone.

I told my best friend at the time, himself coming from a footy obsessed family similar to mine. His uncle was a very prominent player in the second highest competition in the country some years ago, and he was just as obsessed with the game as I was, even though he played for our arch rivals, South. He would understand what it would mean to someone like us to play A grade footy for our club.

He was in the grade below mine at school, and at lunch time I pulled him aside to have a chat away from everyone else – as I still didn't want it to be common knowledge lest I not get called up and look like an idiot. I don't think there was anybody in my grade at school that was equally into footy as we both were.

I told him what had happened, word for word, to see what his take on it was.

"Fuck man, when do you think you'll find out?" He seemed pretty confident that I the conversation meant I HAD been asked.

"Well, they do selections Thursday night, so I guess Friday morning".

The teams trained on Tuesday and Thursday nights, then the coaches gather after Thursday night training to pick the teams. The teams are posted on a notice board in one of the pubs that sponsor the footy club that night and then appear in the Friday morning local paper. Since I was still only 15, the pub was out of question so I just assumed I would read about it in the paper on Friday.

He too was excited for me, but assured me he would keep the information to himself for now. It was only Monday after all, still five days before I would find out.

That afternoon, I mentioned the conversation to mum, and she got a bit excited. I said I wouldn't know until Friday when team selections would be announced. I grabbed today's paper and headed for the toilet – for some reason I wanted to see if there was a write up about the reserves on the weekend in there, even though there never had been ever before anything besides team selection in the paper about the reserves.

A few minutes into my dumping and reading ritual, mum knocks on the door and says I have a phone call. I would love to answer, but I'm kinda in the middle of loosing a few pounds so lets give them a call back. It's probably just one of my friends talking crap anyway.

When I finished, I got out and ask for the message and who it was from, and mum gives me some news that shouldn't have been unexpected but was – it was the A grade coach calling. I was like a kid on Christmas morning, just waiting to see if Santa had actually visited.

He called back a few minutes later, and had a very quick chat. Basically it was the same chat I had with the assistant on Saturday, only this time he added something to the end.

"(After asking me the same questions as before) We'll after the game last week, we're going to put you in the A's this week, how do you feel about that?"

I guess he was a little concerned on how a 15 year old would handle the game. But as if I was going to let this chance go by..

"Sure I'll play. Of course". I wanted to say so much more, but just couldn't find the words and they would have probably been inappropriate at the time. The call ended with him asking me to train with the A's the following night – and that was it. I had been picked to play in the A's on a Monday. In hind sight, it was a really great thing for him to do – to tell me on the Monday instead of the Friday that I had been picked. It let me enjoy it and look forward to it all week.

I still didn't say anything at school that week about it – half because most of my friends were not into the footy as much as I was (save for my friend from before, I told him of course) and also because in my mind anything could happen from now until Saturday, and I could still miss out.

At training on Tuesday, I felt bullet proof. Apparently everyone already knew about it. The older players were keen to make me feel welcomed and comfortable, and I was fortunate that there was a certain other 16 year old in the team who the town was crazy over which took a lot of the focus and pressure off me (or so I felt). He was expected to play A's every week, I was a surprise.

Later in the week, talking with a few other friends at school in our little group, the topic turned to footy and someone mentioned that I was playing A's that weekend. A female friend in the group asked me to explain – and I said it was true, I was playing A's this weekend.

"You mean you're playing the in the same team as (the 16 year old child prodigy)? Bullshit!"

I didn't know how to respond. I guess it was an insult, but a back handed compliment in a way. I sort of laughed a bit, and said yes I was playing in the same team as him.

"Don't lie Heath, that's bullshit!" She said again. Why would I lie about his, when in a few days I could have been proved so wrong?

At Thursday night's training session, the coach asked me to follow him into the change rooms while the rest of the team was still training. He went through the general team rules or game plan, and told me what position I would be playing. He gave me a list of "team rules" just to give me an idea what to expect.

As the rest of the team came in from training, one of the most senior players saw the rules in my hand – dubbed the ten commandments of our game plan.

"Yep, you have to know each one of them backwards by Saturday" he joked.

One of the other players asks me what my birth date is – which is a bit of a weird question. What happened was he just learnt that I was only 15 – and he was only 15 when he played his first game of A grade. Currently, he had the record as the youngest player in the 98 year history of our footy club to play League footy, and was concerned he had just surrendered it. After a quick calculation, I found out that I was 1 month older than his record, which though was good enough for second on the list. Dad was about 5 th.

Anyways, Friday rolls around and the team is announced in the paper. And right there, in the second name listed is one H.Eddy . I cut that out of the paper and kept it in a photo album, which I am sure Mum still has somewhere. All week I had family friends calling the house, and other people who I had never spoken to but were friends of Dad calling to congratulate me. I had a week to build up to it, and I loved every minute of it even though inside I knew I would play maybe one game or two and then be dropped back down to the colts.

When playing Reserves, for the colts players it means playing Friday night and then backing that up with Saturday morning. But when you are playing in the League team, the A's, they don't allow you to play Friday night in case you get injured. But I wasn't going to miss the game, I had to be there anyway. It was weird, being in the change room in normal clothes, while all my team mates were in their uniforms. Normally I would be sitting alone in a corner, silently psyching myself up for the game, but instead here I was in jeans and a t-shirt shaking hands with all the trainers who were congratulating me. Even the coach interrupted the pre-game pep talk to point out my achievement. I was just enjoying the moment.

The Child Prodigy's father had played footy with mine, and as such both families were part of a larger group that often held dinner parties together and the like. So we had been playing footy together with the rest of the kids from these families since we were 3 or 4. I think he appreciated the fact that there was another player in the team now under 20, and I appreciated the fact that I could stand next to his spotlight for just a fleeting moment. We would go to the game together, which made me feel a little more at ease, and maybe him as well though by this stage, week 6 of the season, I think he was used to it all.

Players still have to pay for admission into the ground, as that is really the only way the grounds make any money, but players get a discount. In order to get the discount, you had to pick up a "players pass" from a local sponsor before the game, and the passes were different colours for League and Reserves. If you were under 18 you got in for the same price, but I felt pretty cool going to pick up my pass regardless.

We rocked up to the ground early – we were back at our home ground this week – and I was there before the reserves started. It was a special round this week though, a promotional round for the competition and both A grade games featuring all four teams would be played back to back on the same ground. This meant that the crowd would be double what it usually was (over 1200 I found out later, which is big for a small country town game of footy).

I went down to the senior player who told me to remember the team rules back to front by Saturday. Firstly, he too congratulated me in which I responded:

"Something create to try and handball or short kick don't long ball the kick doubt in if".

He looked at me funny, and then I told him that was the fist team rule backwards. I'd work on the other ten.

I went into the change rooms a lot earlier than needed, but that was so I could be in there when it was nearly empty to settle myself. One by one, more players filed in. I could see these guys I had been watching on Saturdays for the past few years come in and grab a jumper out of the same box I had just grabbed mine. One or two of them had even played footy on the same team as my Dad and Uncles.

I was playing in the same position I started in the previous week as a supporting role in the forward line, while the Child Prodigy was a focal point in the same area. As we ran out onto the ground from the change rooms directly underneath the grand stand, you could hear the larger crowd. I felt 10 foot tall and bullet proof.

I took my position and gave a customary hand shake to my immediate opponent. I recognised him as one of the better players on the other team – good enough to make the "combined" team, a team made up of the best players from the four clubs to represent the city against others. And to make it worse, he knew it was my first game too – he said as much when we shook hands. I would learn later that he also worked on the mines with Dad.

Early in the game, as the ball was coming towards us, CP saw me head for it. I can hear him clearly shout encouragement as I went for the ball, and marked it easily before giving it off to a running team mate. The ball went through a few more sets of hands before resulting in a goal for our team. Even though I was a very small link in the chain for that goal, I was a link none the less and started to feel comfortable.

I took a few marks, had a hand in a few goals though kicked none myself. I even managed to out position my opponent a few times and took some tough marks. We were getting beaten – not that I had noticed all that much.

By the end of the 3rd quarter, we were down by 42 points, which is like being down 30 points after the 3rd in basketball. You could still win, but it is highly unlikely. I was a little disappointed as I really wanted to win my first game, but I was just happy to be there.

Kicking with the breeze in the final term though, we had a chance. The coach said he was switching the team a bit to over stack the forward line, as we had no chance on winning unless we could score more than 43 points in this final quarter. I figured I would be sent to the bench, being my first game and all. But alas, he had left me in my position unchanged. Well ok, that's not too bad.

The final quarter was a beauty, and I did my part without being a star or a passenger. The Child Prodigy however kicked four of his five goals for the day in that final quarter, and when the final siren sounded we were ahead by just 2 points. Not only was it a big game for me, being my first, it was a big win for the entire team to come from so far down. The game was faster and harder than I had been used to, but I felt I held my own.

Singing the club song in the change rooms was fantastic, as myself and one other guy who also played his first game had to stand in the middle of the circle for it. We went back to the footy club rooms (basically a bar and function room owned by the club across the road from the ground) in great spirits. The Child Prodigy, another guy from our colts team and myself got us a bottle of Vodka and headed out to a small party. At the party, among others, was the same girl that doubted me so much the days before. I asked if she believed me now, and I guess her surprise was another back handed compliment. That night was the first night I ever got drunk, even though it was three of us sharing the one bottle of the cheapest Vodka we could get someone to buy for us.

Continued in the next post, the rest of the season.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Football Chronicles: Part 2

Iris Gaines : You know, I believe we have two lives.
Roy Hobbs: How... what do you mean?
Iris Gaines: The life we learn with and the life we live with after that.
"The Natural"

Wow, I didn't expect to write so much about this time in my life, but this is looking like it might be a six-parter. It has taken a different approach to what I initially thought it would, and there is a real reason at the end of this series to it all, but you'll have to wait for that.

Continued from the previous post…

I don't remember a thing about the colts game that Friday night, I was too focused on the B grade game the next day – though after the season was over I learned I got best on ground (MVP for the game) in that Friday night game.

Like I said before, footy was very important in our home town. My family was very prominent in our particular footy club, and Dad most of all. He played his first A grade game when he was 16. Mum once recalled that when Dad was captain of the A grade team, he got discounts on the washing machine and a host of other things for the house, which would have been a life saver for a very young married couple with two kids at that stage.

Dad had a lot of knee troubles though, going through several operations. He had at this stage captained and coached the A grade team holding down the back line since he started and wearing the family's number 3 on his back all the time. After one operation too many, he was forced to retire at the age of 26 or risk not being able to walk properly for the rest of his life. I can not remember seeing Dad play any games of footy, but I remember the day he retired because the local paper ran a back page story on it, with Dad and us three sons in the picture. My younger brother was still in nappies (diapers) at this stage, and I would have been 5 maybe.

Playing A grade, or "League", was special for our town. They made a big deal out of your first game, and milestones like 100 games, 200 games or the ultra rare 300 games were great occasions to celebrate. League players were treated as minor celebrities in the town – which you can understand, as no real celebrities came to town sine it was so far away from anything. B grade players, or "Reserves" however, were a little different. Apart from maybe 8-10 players per each team who were actual "reserves" for the League team, most were the guys well past their prime or others who never had a prime at all. Even though the records for the games were kept, they were never really counted like they did in the League and they were rarely celebrated. Besides the players themselves, nobody really cared if the reserves lost as long as the League team put in a good show.

However for me, this was a big step. In colts, a 17 year old and under grade, even though I was a junior I was bigger than maybe 70% of the competition. That would be reversed when I played Reserves – and not many 15 year old's strength can match that of a fully grown man. I was a little nervous going in, as I knew I wouldn't be able to be my usual dominate/arrogant self today. I would be in a supporting role at best, and I just wanted to get a kick in the beginning.

We were playing against South, our arch rivals (if there is such a thing in a four team competition), and to boot we were playing at their home ground which was far inferior compared to ours which the competition used as the main ground.

Reserves play the curtain raiser for the League team, so there is hardly any crowd there at the start of the game but that can rise to nearly 1000 by the time the games ends. Most of the league players don't get to the ground until half way through the reserves game either.

The game gets started, and I am in a supporting position in the forward line, playing on someone I don't know and who I imagine doesn't know me either. After about five minutes, I couldn't tell you what the football looked like let alone feel like. Eventually when it did get near me, I made mistakes and gave it away. I was getting beaten at every chance I got, and I felt like a fish out of water. If I did get my hands on the ball, I was tackled before I had a chance to do a thing. If my opponent had it, I would give away a free kick. It was terrible, and I felt like I couldn't do a thing to stop it. It was the exact opposite sensation that I had been enjoying for the past 8 Friday nights. I kept telling myself I was playing against grown men now, I'm only 15, what the hell am I doing?

After the first quarter, we are down by a few goals as we go into the coaches huddle to get the review and instructions for the next quarter. Generally, the crowd is allowed onto the ground during these breaks to kick the footy around or listen in on the coaches. Past players and the League players are always there for this, as well as anybody else who can be bothered jumping the fence. I was feeling pretty crap, and wondering how long I would be left on the ground before I got benched. I hoped it was long enough to get at least 1 kick – because that was 1 more than I had at this stage.

A friend of the family affectionately known as Boo Boo tapped me on the shoulder. BB was a mountain of a man, and in his hey-day as a League player was a champion for our club. And he loved his footy – lived for it. He played footy with Dad, as this is where the majority of our family friends come from.

BB gave me a little punch on the shoulder – which with his strength was quite a big punch for me. And then he said in a normal voice "You're better than anyone out there". And he left it at that.

I'm sure the coach had some inspirational words for the rest of the team, but I couldn't hear a word of it. All I was thinking about was what BB had said. I thought about it, and all of a sudden I started to see all the other players as B graders, not grown men. I started to feel a little more confident and headed back out onto the paddock this time ready to prove him true.

In a little piece of play I managed to gather the ball and thought I had enough time to finally get a kick away. I tried to kick it forward into our attacking zone, but unfortuantly while running full pace I had gotten a little too close to another opponent and kicked it just above his head, smacking into his outstretched arms. Some how, the ball bounced on the ground and leapt straight back into my hands – and without missing a step I continued on running flat out past all the players and finally got a kick away to a team mate that ended in a score. The play got a little smattering of applause form the crowd – which was very rare in an away game. Man, that little play was lucky, but I knew it must have looked good.

Before you know it, I've run off a pack of players, gathered the ball and kicked my first goal of the game. Then the confidence comes back, and all of a sudden I don't even think about my opponents – I let them think about me. Before long I have been moved, back into the centre as I have become accustomed to. We're looking a little better on the score board by half time, and I'm feeling a hell of a lot better.

By this stage the League players are all here, including my mate the 16 year old "child prodigy" as the local paper had named him. All the players were sitting near the goals closest to the change rooms watching the game, waiting until it was time for them to go get ready. We were kicking to that end this 4th quarter (or 4th period if you like).

On one play, I talked to our tall player who would be contesting the boundary thrown in (like a basketball jump ball) and told him where I would be running to as soon as the umpire threw the ball. The plan worked perfectly, and I caught his tap before it hit the ground while running full pace, and slotted through a fairly tough shot on goal straight away. I could see the look on the faces of two of the League players, who were pretty impressed with the play (not just my part in it).

Later in this quarter I'm standing behind the biggest guy from the other team and the ball is coming in high. I prop, and get ready to try to leap up and catch it – a "mark" as it is called in footy. At the time I was also playing basketball heaps, and as such I had a decent vertical leap – nothing to brag about, but enough you know what I mean. Anyway, it rest happened in slow motion for me. I jumped up onto the biggest guy on the opposite team (who was actually in my basketball team at the time), and realised I had gone too early and the ball was still in flight. But, I had managed to jump onto his shoulders, and stayed there for a fleeting moment, paused in mid-air and just as I started to finally come down, the ball fell into my hands perfectly and I landed on both feet. If I got a smattering of applause before, I got a genuine roar from the crowd now. It felt like there was 10,000 people cheering, but in reality I would be surprised if it was a handful over 500. The point was the people in the grand stand were cheering – even those supporting the other team. I took my kick and I thought I was too far out to score, but lo and behold it sailed through. It was a tight game and this goal sort of sealed it for us, so players came from everywhere to congratulate me. I remember thinking it was just another goal, nothing more and they still had time to get back at us but when the crowd of players gathered around, I felt a genuine adrenaline rush, and I would have run through a brick wall if I was told to right then.

The final siren sounded a short time later, and we headed into the change rooms to sing the club victory song, which is another great tradition for footy. I was feeling pretty good, and while I wasn't the best player on the team that day by far, I felt like I had done enough for them to ask me back next week which was good enough for me. Me and a few others from the colts team who played would shower and stay around for the League game.

The League team was playing well, and during the 3rd quarter when I was walking out to the huddle with all the other reserve players, one of the assistant coaches came up to talk to me.

"Pretty good game today Heath."

"Yeah, thanks."

"Yeah, you went well. We've been watching for a few weeks, and would you play A's if you were picked?"

For our town, and for a 15 year old playing footy in our town, this is akin to asking if you call an all-in while holding a Royal Flush.

"Of course, if I was picked" – I added the proviso, more to keep from getting ahead of myself and too excited at the prospect of playing A grade next week. I had not been actually asked yet, and this wasn't even the coach asking me, just one of the assistants.

"Good, good, we'll talk later in the week."

I tried to keep my mind from racing further, and tried to think if this meant he had actually asked me to play League next week or if he was just making idle chit chat. I didn't want to say anything to anyone because it would be a major embarrassment if I had bragged about this little exchange and it turned into nothing. Besides, just a few hours ago I was kick-less in a game that I thought was out of my reach, and I had not entertained the idea that I was good enough to take the next step immediately.