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Views: 1676
Date Posted: Mar. 31, 2:57pm, 0 Comments

It's such a simplistic saying, but it holds a lot of wisdom.  We live in an escapist society.  As soon as we encounter hardship and challenge we look to flee from responsibility, conflict, hard work, marriages, and jobs.  We figure the grass must be greener elsewhere.  We fall back into thinking of ourselves before others. We can flee to fantasy, new opportunities, drugs/sex/alcohol, or any perceived fresh start.  I won't argue that each can't play some ameliorating role, but how about you just keep showing up?  Of course that is only half of the story, but it shows your desire to work on the other half.  You have the rest of your life in order to get the other half right.

Recalling my college days, I was never a stellar student.  I was the typical "try to get the most from the least" type of student.  But what I had going in my favor was I showed up to all my classes.  I paid attention.  Just by showing up at all my responsibilities, I had a significant advantage over my peers. 

Recalling my early work years, I would also say I wasn't the most brilliant worker.  But by showing up every day, with a willingness to learn and do my part, I was always a benefit to any business at which I worked.

In my marriage, it could certainly be argued that I have room to improve as a husband.  And yet, every day I show up for 'work'.  I will gladly face those challenges the rest of my life.  Yes, I work too hard these days.  I spend too many hours at my computer.  But I try to be responsive any time when things arise.  All I need is the communication and I will try to accommodate it.

A good friend shared a story with me yesterday that I thought I would share here as well.  She works with children and was speaking to a mom that it was important for her to 'actively engage in a playful/social manner' with her child 20 minutes each day.  The mom looked shocked and stated, "20 minutes, that's a long time, I'm really busy, I'm a single parent and I work!" She discussed breaking the 20 minutes into smaller segments- say two 10 minute periods but I insisted that 20 minutes a day total was what was required to build and maintain relationships with her child (as per research).

My friend is also a working mother.  She then examined her own life. "I thought to myself, wow, can it really be that hard to do?  That night I went home and looked at my own life.  How much time do I spend with XXXXX and XXXXX - truly actively engaging in a playful manner?  I give orders, listen (passively) to their stories, help with homework, make meals, do chores, tuck them in and help when requested - but how much do I truly engage them in a meaningful, social, playful activity?   Not 20 minutes on most days - not even 5 most weeks.   Why not, because I work - I have to work - I support the family - but what am I teaching them about family, what's important and what being successful and happy really means?

She is a strong woman who I admire greatly.  She is also a great mom.  The challenge of 'showing up' exists for her as much as it does for me.  Your kids don't need a specific agenda, they need you.  Your wife doesn't expect perfection, but that you show up and care. Your boss or teacher may want the ideal, but they are more than happy to have someone who shows up and does their part reliably.

I don't have all the answers for how you do the other half ideally, but I can say that you will always be ahead of the game if you just show up every day willing to give of yourself.  The world will be more forgiving when it can count on you.

Views: 1558
Date Posted: Mar. 26, 4:32pm, 0 Comments

When I speak or write, my goal is to be heard and understood.  I dont need to be agreed with, that's only an added bonus. Most of the time, I feel I'm being very clear.  I really do. It makes perfect sense to me.  And therein lies the problem.  I am not communicating to me.  If I am to be effective, I have to better understand the party receiving my communication.  And that takes a lot more work.

I refer to this challenge because lately I've been running into problems as I communicate with various co-workers and members.  Sometimes it's with someone who isn't a native English speaker.  Sometimes it's with a coder/engineer type who speaks in their own technical language.  Other times it's with a designer who uses another set of terms.   Even members can be a frustrating group because they don't want to read instructions or follow guidelines no matter how clear they are.

The first challenge is translating your thoughts to words. Your brain has a history of experience and context it's basing your words off.  The receiver of your communication doesn't share that, so they will always be at a disadvantage trying to understand you.

Compounding that dynamic, online you are only using typed words. Effective communication is so much more than typed words.  In person you can express a feeling, or context to your words.  There is a whole host of body language that accompanies the words.  Without those nuances to help you interpret the words, misunderstandings can easily occur. For instance, sarcasm has always been notoriously difficult to communicate online.

Relating this discussion to poker.  You are told to tell a convincing story when you play.  But if your opponent doesn't pay attention, the story can go on deaf ears.  They may not speak the same language as you, or misinterpret the story you are telling.  There is no guarantee that  your efforts will be rewarded.  That is why they indicate to play ABC tight poker when playing newer, low stakes players.  Until you build up a shared language that you all understand, it isn't wise to try to be fancy in your communication.  Trying to understand how they play individually, why they make the moves they do, will serve you better. 

Lesson learned.  I need to pay more attention to the audience and their particular qualities.  It would help if they would contribute their part, but that doesn't absolve my responsibility.

In honor of today's blog, I'm putting up a video by the Raconteurs, called "You Don't Understand Me"


Views: 1561
Date Posted: Mar. 22, 7:11pm, 2 Comments

Every time I hear the phrase "the hands played themselves", uttered by commentators watching tournaments and cash games on TV, it irks me.  It seems to fly in the face of what I've come to focus on in poker, the role of choice and skill. For so long, I have been led to think that I influence my destiny by each choice I make at the table.  I can't control the outcome of the cards on the flop, turn, or river, but I control each of my actions at each step of the way.  Do I raise, call or fold?  Do I slow play, check raise, or bluff?

The longer I play, the more I realize that poker is a game of common situations.  Sometimes the math of a particular hand does 'play itself'.  In NLHE, if I raise A,K suited and I'm reraised by J's.  I call.  The flop comes 10, 9, 5 with two of my suit.  It is likely you will get a lot of money in the pot with a 53-47% expected equity split.  If I'm playing PLO with a hand like 10,9,8,7 double suited against A,A,K,5 single suited, and the flop comes A, 5, 6, it is likely a lot of money will end up in the pot again with a 56-44% expected equity split.  The more important question for me is how might the outcome affect your future decisions.  The deeper stacked you are, the more I would assert that the hands don't play themselves and that you can make a choice to walk away from 'coin flip' type situations.  If you are 20-40 BB's deep, I understand that in a three bet pot, the money is going in under these common scenarios.  With significantly deeper stacks there are more factors to consider

Considering the pot odds is not the only factor in determining your call, fold or raise.  In cash games, if you know that you will 'press' if you lose a big flip, you can choose to pass on some coin flip type situations.  You might be losing some expected EV in the hand, but saving money because you are more likely to keep your composure and put the rest in when you have a greater equity advantage.  Some players don't respond well to big swings during sessions.  It affects their future decisions.  Those players could benefit from making some decisions to moderate their results.

If you are in a tournament, your life is more important than any one hand.  Look to preserve your life, rather than putting yourself in multiple coin flip situations.  I was watching a friend play in the mini FTOPs main event yesterday.  I am always impressed by his ability to generate large chip stacks.  He plays fast and loose, constantly applying pressure.  His problem is even after he builds a nice chip stack, he continues his loose ways.  So he can spew off much of his stack bluffing or playing too loose.  He argues, "live by the sword, die by the sword", but I would say he has more of a choice.  He is able to do what others can't, by regularly generating large chip stacks.  But now that he is playing deep stack poker, he needs to be able to change gears to preserve and nurture his stack too.  Even if the math would suggest a certain move, you can evaluate your situation and make a different choice.

Poker is a game of choices and incomplete information.  If you are ever to be successful in poker, what shouldn't ever be incomplete is your sense of yourself and how you react to certain situations.  In deep stack poker, you don't have to be a slave to the math.  There is more at stake than just chips. Don't let the hands play themselves.  Take control and determine what's right for you.    

Views: 717
Date Posted: Mar. 19, 2:35pm, 1 Comment

Admit it.  When you drive by an accident, you can't resist slowing down and looking.  It's just something that seems to be hard wired into us.  We are drawn to drama and conflict. 

When I read the paper today, I saw the rumored break up of recent Oscar winning leading actress Sandra Bullock and Jesse James caused by tattoo model Michelle "Bombshell" McGee.  What did I do, I Googled it along with thousands or millions of others. 

When I heard about the brouhaha on 2p2 a few days ago regarding Nick StoxPoker Grudzien and CR, I couldn't help but follow along as things unfolded.  Somewhere in the 87 pages and 1300 replies, there is even one little passing mention of Zimba at CR that AceCR9 posted.  Thanks for my likely first ever mention ever on that site...LOL

There is one big difference to be found amongst people in these scenarios.  There are those who prefer to be a part of the conflict and others who prefer to gawk from afar.  Some people seem to crave the conflict in their lives.  It somehow makes them feel more alive.

It is particularly evident when you visit an online forum.  The conflict junkies seem to gain some kind of fulfillment from expressing their thoughts.  They feel compelled to share their opinion, especially if they disagree with anything stated.  Unfortunately, it rarely ends with their sharing a different perspective, but becomes a personal attack.  Invariably, they insist that you are essentially an idiot for having an opinion different from their own.  Their goal is to beat you down and prevail.  They aren't looking for compromise or a coming together of opposing minds.  Either side of the argument is steadfast.

While I'll admit my role as the drive-by gawker of conflict, I've never understood that element about human nature that I call conflict junkies.  Call me strange, but my inner pacifist is strong.  I look for compromise and conciliation first, conflict and argument as a last resort.  I try to appreciate a different perspective or at least respect the right to air your different viewpoint.  It's not that I don't have strong opinions or feel that I'm right in having them for myself, but I feel equally that it doesn't have to be shared by everyone else.

I will freely offer my input if requested or encouraged, but I'll usually refrain if I sense it won't be heard.  What is right for me, isn't necessarily right for you.  We don't have to share every same belief or opinion.  Even on a pure theoretical debate stage, the semantics of language and the subjectivity of claimed fact and truth often undermine any debate's meaningfulness.  Everyone will be coming from a different perspective and frame it with a different context. So can't we agree to disagree?  If it is important, can we negotiate some compromise solution?

I was asked why I didn't contribute anything to the Stox/CR debate on the 2p2 forums.  What good would it do?  Yes, I was an active part of CR in the early days.  Yes, I know who the former disgruntled employee who vented in the debate was.  Yes, I could contribute something to the discussion, both good and bad, but for what end goal?  I have no agenda.  The direct parties involved can speak for themselves.  They need to be responsible for their actions.  Unfortunately, it often takes forum conflict junkie zealots to unmask those that resist the urge to be transparent.

I'm a firm believer in some sort of karma.  I will be answerable for my choices.  So will they.  Let me not be the first to throw a stone.  While I am guilty of gawking at the drama as I drive by, I never have had the desire to be the one in conflict.  Peace out!

Views: 809
Date Posted: Mar. 14, 4:49pm, 0 Comments

I was up late last night working on some projects for my merge partners at Poker Curious.  They have an ambitious agenda and I'm assisting their sites, while they will push along mine.  I'm not sure if it was staying up late to work or the time change, but today my brain is fuzzy and unfocused.  I may not get a lot of project work done today, we'll see. 

I wanted to share this electronic group from NYC that I stumbled on last night - Ratatat.  They create some great grooves, that kept me energized for hours.  Interestingly, some fans have played their songs backward and they sound just as good.  It's an interesting concept that is obviously easier to appreciate with electronic music with no lyrics.  I included one of the several examples I found at the bottom.






Views: 715
Date Posted: Mar. 11, 10:14pm, 3 Comments

When I was born, they were blue.  For most of my childhood, they were brown. For most of my adulthood, they have been hazel.  During my lifetime, my eyes have changed colors, and so have I changed.  As a young child, I had blond hair, which turned to brown as I got older.  Now it continues to slowly recede while showing slight hints of gray. These outward changes symbolize to me that life is mutable.  There is no constant.  There may be a some predictable physical progressions, and an accompanying societal progression, but our minds and actions can wander where they like.

I share these observations in an attempt to address the question of a 30 year old new PC member I spoke to in our chat room recently.  He is searching for meaning and purpose in his life.  He is searching for a career which will really satisfy him.  He is still searching for his true passions.  The process seems so daunting to him, as it should be.  Those are big questions.

In February, I devoted a couple blogs to a discussion of finding your passions - Pursue your Passion and Discovery

Instead of rehashing those thoughts, what I wanted to emphasize today is that it is the small moves that make the difference.  Don't allow the daunting big questions to deter you from making the small moves.  Using a poker analogy, you don't move from a being a TAG player to a LAG overnight.  You don't change your natural tendencies that easily.  You do it in baby steps.  For instance, you start introducing some new hands to your opening frequency.  You see how they fare and get reinforced by your results.  You try some new moves, slowly testing the waters.  You might experiment with donk leading instead of check raising your strong hands and bluffs when out of position.  Each small move you try slowly changes your image.  You may like the new results, or you may not. Each small moves pushes you in a new direction. You may not even end up where you thought you wanted to go.  But that is the beauty of life.

Using myself as an example, when I was younger, I didn't know that I would become a teacher.  I didn't know I would make ice cream for a living.  I didn't know I would own an art gallery.  I didn't know I would run a poker training site.  I didn't know I would be an entrepreneur.  I didn't know I would be an active blogger.  I simply took small steps each time to try something.  Some things stuck, some didn't.  Some things I did well at, some I didn't.  But I firmly believe that each one of us has many options.  Our lives can go down many paths.  Unfortunately, that potentiality seems overwhelming to us at times.  Breaking it down into smaller decisions can often remove the inertia and allow us to take that first step in a new direction.

These days, my life may not be the shining example of spontaneity, or even of excitement.  I lead a sedate, married with kids, suburban lifestyle, working many hours out of my home office.  But my goal years ago was to create a stable, loving environment to raise kids with my wonderful wife.  At times, the routine can seem uninspiring, but as I always tell Mrs. Zimba, as long as my mind is free and hopeful, I will always be satisfied.  Each day, I can take small steps in the process of determining my future.  I can't predict where I will end up.  It doesn't really matter, as long as I have my family and my passions to accompany me.

No condition is permanent.  Determine that you want to change.  Then go out and do something.  Anything.  See where it takes you.

Views: 681
Date Posted: Mar. 8, 11:55am, 0 Comments

While it took me six months of requests and my questions were limited from my usual interview style, I was still thrilled to get an interview with Ilari 'Ziigmund' Sahamies in support of an exclusive Ziigmund bounty freeroll Poker Curious will be hosting on PowerPoker on March 21st.

This weekend, I tried to have a more normal balance of family activity with work.  It was pretty domestic. I mowed the lawn for the first time this year, on Saturday.  I vacuumed the house in preparation for a dinner party we had Saturday evening.  I dug in four Hyrdrangea plants Sunday morning, giving myself a nice popped blister.  I watched my son's indoor soccer game match which they won 9-1 to end the season on a good note.  Finally, on Sunday evening when I'm usually in my office alone, I watched the Oscars, which I don't usually do, with my kids because they asked me to join them.  So score points for being a good suburban dad this weekend.

Views: 703
Date Posted: Mar. 6, 2:43pm, 0 Comments

There is a reason we all enjoy reading a good rant or listening to a sharp witted comic.  We take pleasure in hearing someone else let loose, revealing their intense thoughts and criticisms on the world around them.  They are often venting or riffing on subjects that we also find disturbing.  It is a guilty pleasure; one that we don't often allow ourselves.  We are naturally conditioned to withhold our more extreme thoughts and actions.  We have learned, as adults, that muzzling our more severe perspectives is beneficial for our survival and success. Being too 'prickly' will create more trouble than it's worth, so we mute or try to control those parts of ourselves.

What this dynamic seems to create, though, is a state that I would call subdued sublime rage.  Your primal thoughts and feelings are involuntary, but the battle for your resulting words and actions is constantly waged within you.  It creates this tension that is never resolved, except by decisive action which can introduce more strife. 

Let's look at this dynamic further. By the time you are considered an adult, you have experienced enough to know that life is complex, full of conflict and often unjust.  You have enough education to know that there are numerous ways to escape and many possible belief systems.  You must navigate your life between these parameters to carve out your sanity in the balance.    Anyone significant you interact with must be factored into your equation.  You are constantly weighing many layers of considerations before taking any action.  A major defining feature of your adulthood is having to do things you don't particularly enjoy.

As usual, I'll use myself as an example.  Friday, I had my bookkeeper here at the house for over 7 hours.  She sat at my desk going over the last year's records for both Poker Curious and my old gallery.  She has worked for me for 10 years.  She's a sweet kind lady.  But these days are torture for me.  They dredge up the past and unpleasant aspects of business that I don't like to focus on.  As she's not here most of the year, she asks a million questions about the minutiae of every aspect of the business.  I am having to explain the non traditional online poker world to her. I am repeatedly reminded about the aspects of modern business that I detest; taxation, insurance, lawyers, government regulations and overall bureaucracy.   Everything has to be balanced, reconciled, and reports printed out.  I go through more paper and ink during her visits than the rest of the year combined.  She is paid hourly, so I feel the clock ticking the entire time. 

The entire day is a necessary evil, but one that I would love to reject entirely if I had my way.  Externally, I smile, answer questions, dig through files and bear it as best possible.  Internally I roil and rage.  Why do I put myself through this?  I prefer to keep my life simple, but complexity and complications are thrust upon me.  I prefer to keep my life sane, but injustice and insane bureaucracy greet me instead. While I can rationalize and contextualize myself through most of life's situations, it definitely foments something I can only abstractly describe as subdued sublime rage.  Maybe someday I'll be able to put it better in words.

Views: 925
Date Posted: Mar. 5, 3:09am, 0 Comments

D as in disappointment.  It's something we deal with every day in our lives and at the poker table.  Some examples from my life. Today, I played solid winning poker, building off a solid 6 BI win yesterday.  But instead, I lost most of my biggest hands where I went all in on the turn with 80% equity and ended the day down 3 BI's.  Yesterday I was due the latest draft of a web page I'm adding.  The designer missed his deadline and asked to have until Sunday to complete it.  Tonight, when I came home hungry at 7:30, instead of a full meal prepared, there was mac and cheese on the stove. Three completely different situations where I experienced disappointment.

It is only natural to feel dissatisfaction or anguish when things don't go our way.  But the reality is the negativity surrounding disappointment exists not in the real world, but only in our mind.  It is not the situation, but our interpretation of it that causes pain.  It is my choice how I react to each of these situations.

In the poker example, I have experience to buoy me.  I have experienced many days where I ran below equity.  I know if I keep putting in my money good, it will work out long term.  I took a break when I felt the disappointment building and affecting my game.  I did something completely different for a few hours, taking my mind off of playing, and when I returned for a short session tonight, I was fresh, focused and playing optimally again.

In the case of the designer not meeting the deadline, I can look to what the psychology world calls reverse vision.  It states that we often focus on the opposite of what we should.  In this case, I'm looking outward, at an event I can't really control (his personal problems and tardiness) instead of looking inward at what I can control.  How can I be disappointed by the failure of others if I don't live up to my own expectations.  When I see my own weaknesses, I'll be better able to accept the weaknesses of others.  Or in the opposite situation, if I cry "woe is me" when in the big scheme of things this is relatively minor and many others suffer to a much greater degree, I am also guilty of reverse vision.  It doesn't mean my designer isn't responsible for his actions, only that I can welcome the challenge or actively problem solve the situation instead of bemoaning it.  In this case, I turned my attention to areas where I could make progress and allowed for the fact that I won't meet my original goal for that project. 

In the case of my dinner, I need to realize the context of the situation.  My wife was ill most of the day, side affects from her doctor's visit and treatment.  She felt awful and didn't prepare her usually wonderful and complete meal.  I am an adult and can prepare my own dinner if I'm not satisfied.  I was feeling lazy, so I chose to eat a big bowl of it and be done with it. 

It does me no good to hold onto disappointment.  It doesn't serve me any purpose. A simple life truth is that we find what we look for.  If you look for negative things to happen, their frequency will increase.  If you look for positive things, you get the story.  Manage your expectations well and you'll rarely be disappointed.  If you expect nothing more from life than what it offers, you will never be let down.  None of us are perfect, so don't expect that of others.  Look to focus on what you can realistically control and accept that part that you can't.   

"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned"  - Buddha

"The last of the human freedoms is to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances." - Victor E. Frankl

"People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be." - Abraham Lincoln

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