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Views: 892
Date Posted: May. 28, 3:52pm, 2 Comments

There is a famous line from Leonard Cohen's song "Anthem" that I heard for the first time last night.

"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."


Leonard Cohen is a legend in American music culture; known for his poetry, lyrics and song craft. There was something about the refrain that I could relate to in my life. In our lives, we look to project an image of 'having it together.' We hide our faults and cracks at every opportunity. But it is those very cracks that allow us to grow as people. It is those cracks that make us vulnerable, but interesting. It is those those cracks that permit the light to get in.


Interpreted a different way, it is often through failure that we are able to truly succeed. A couple weeks ago, I posted this quote by Michael Jordan on the PC home page quote of the day.

"I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot... and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that's precisely why I succeed."

Until we understand our weaknesses, we can't really understand what are our strengths. Until we accept our failures, we can't comprehend what it means to win. In the poker world, the players who achieve the greatest success aren't those that just ran well. Sure, that can get you off to a great start, or propel you much faster up the poker ladder, but only those players who are constantly examining their game, strengths and weaknesses will prevail in the long run. The best players have all failed at one time or another, but they learned from their failure. They acknowledged their cracks and learned from the experience. They didn't give up. Sometimes the lessons need to be repeated over and over, but each time is an opportunity for growth and reflection. Humility may be the best thing gained from the entire experience.


Every time that I look in the mirror, I see cracks. Each time I look around me, I see cracks. It is my opportunity to let the light in, or not.

Views: 875
Date Posted: May. 26, 3:57pm, 2 Comments

Keeping your composure is one of the undervalued skills in poker. Driving home from lunch today with Mrs. Zimba, I was listening to a baseball interview where Tom Seaver was discussed. He is a Hall of Fame Mets pitcher who won over 300 games with a career ERA of 2.50. He was a model of consistency, always pitching the same regardless of the results. He was a consummate professional who didn't let his outward emotions or his results affect how he approached his pitching. Watching him, you couldn't ever tell whether he was winning or losing. The best poker players are able to keep that same sense of composure so they can keep making optimal decisions.


Lately, I've been watching a number of streaming movies online, late at night, as I unwind from the day. Some of them have been horror movies, reminding me why I have never been a big fan of that genre. Despite not being a big fan of gore or being scared, I never like when characters totally lose it. They freak out in a situation and start making really stupid decisions. Their emotion and fear overwhelms them, usually costing them their lives. It is a real skill to remain calm in the face of peril or losing a few buyins.


The final movie I watched last night was called Vertical Limit, which stars Chris O'Donnell and portrays the issues of serious mountain climbing on K2. Once again, in really tough stressful situations, some characters are able to remain calm, not panic, and make the tough and important decisions to save lives, while other just lose it.


I don't know if it's something that can be taught, something gained from experience, or something genetic, but keeping your composure in the face of adversity isn't apparently a common skill set. Allowing your emotions to overwhelm you will rarely serve you well in times of stress and uncertaintly. Those are the times you need to think most clearly to find a solution.

Views: 1003
Date Posted: May. 21, 3:01pm, 5 Comments

Ever since the 2007 Rob Reiner movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, the concept of creating a Bucket List (what you want to do before kicking the bucket) has become quite popular. I have seen several live poker themed Bucket Lists, but I thought it would be fun to present one for the online poker world.  It isn't necessarily my personal list, but more of a dozen highlights from an ultimate online poker Bucket List.  Leave your suggestions and additions in the comments.

1. Win a low buy-in satellite package to some exotic tournament (e.g. SnowFest, Monte Carlo, Macau or some exotic tropical destination).

2. Win a 180 man SNG without looking at my hole cards.

3. Become a Supernova Elite and buy a Porsche with my winnings.

4. Have a massive photoshop thread about me on twoplustwo.

5. Build the ultimate home computer poker set up with a wall of monitors and kicking speakers.

6. Play Ziigmund while we're both drunk, and beat him, berating him in the chat box.

7. Have my very own custom avatar on Full Tilt.

8. Win the WCOOP ME, SCOOP ME, or FTOPS ME while sitting in the lobby of some foreign resort hotel with 50 poker players railing and rooting me on.

9. Win one of the massive bad beat jackpots on UB with four Aces to a Royal Flush.

10. Win an online prop bet with Mike Matusow or Phil Hellmuth where the loser has to wear a 'dunce' costume throughout the WSOP ME. 

11. Learn to 24 table profitably.

12. Play Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius, and Durrrr at 500/1000 simultaneously.

Views: 497
Date Posted: May. 19, 12:05pm, 1 Comment

There once was a boy with many dreams...

He dreamed of becoming a top athlete.

He dreamed of becoming a scholar.
He dreamed of becoming president and fixing the countries problems.
He dreamed of many exotic adventures around the world.
He dreamed of marrying the perfect woman.
He dreamed of becoming rich.
He dreamed of making the ideal family.
He dreamed of changing the world.

Many years later he sat facing his past dreams. What had become of his life? He questioned why he had been so idealistic. He was questioning his impact when his grandson walked up to him and said "Grandpa, I dreamed that one day I would be like you."


We may never fulfill our lofty dreams and goals, but they are our companion in life's journey. Without them we would be aimless. Our dreams may become smaller and smaller as we get older, but my one desire is that I never stop dreaming.


There is a quote by John Lennon from his song
Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) that sums up my thoughts quite well "Life is what happens to you while your busy making other plans."

Views: 490
Date Posted: May. 17, 3:22pm, 1 Comment

My 11 year old son recently tried out for a select soccer team, after years of playing community co-ed soccer that accepts anyone. My family is on the East Coast, so they don't get to see him play. One asked what made me think he was good enough to make the select team with the best players. My answer was that I felt strongly that he has some intangibles that you need to succeed in soccer.

As I watched the tryouts, it was easy to notice that he is one of the smaller boys in his age group. He is slight and not one of the stronger kids. He gets knocked down a lot in games. There were many other kids who could dribble better, shoot harder, or who probably practice a lot more. But what I noticed is that he has something that not many kids have. For lack of a better word, I'll call it heart. He leaves it all on the field. Every time he falls or gets knocked down he gets right back up. He throws his body around the field. He is able to disrupt or outmaneuver better skilled players through his hustle and determination. While he may suffer from nerves before a game, in the moment, he has a tremendous will to compete. He needs good coaching to improve in many areas, but any good team needs players like that. We shall see what the coaches who evaluated the talent conclude, but I was proud of him for showing certain intangibles that I didn't always have when I played.


As I often do, I related this example to the poker world. So much emphasis in the poker world goes into improving tangible skills. Knowing your odds, percentages, hand ranges, and when to make certain moves against certain opponents. There are hundreds of poker books, training sites, and poker forums that can assist you. These are clearly important, but equally important are those intangible elements that define the great players; tremendous observation and perception skills, emotional control, and a will to win.


Whether to raise, fold or call may seem to depend on what the probability of the game dictates, but it's rarely that simple. Yesterday, I played a session where I encountered two opponents I had played briefly before. Thankfully, even though it is Rush PLO, I had taken notes on them. In each case, I had noted that they could bluff off their stack, triple barreling, if they had showed strength in position pre-flop and I didn't ever raise. It was quite scary to call down their displayed strength, in one case with only top pair, but I decided to go with my read and stacked them. If I hadn't of taken disciplined notes, there is no way I ever call a pot sized bet on the river, after two previous pot bets, with only top pair in PLO.


Soon after those hands, I lost three consecutive big all in hands where I was a 70-30 favorite on the flop or turn. I was very annoyed, but I accepted that I had hit my stop loss and that was enough of a bad run for me. Time to call it a day. My competitive drive is healthy, and part of me wanted to keep grinding until I got it all back, but I also realized that I was likely too annoyed to continue playing optimally. Poker will always be there. Thankfully, I don't play it for a living. It is important that I use both the tangibles I've learned over the years, along with my personal intangibles that I've nurtured to my favor, if I am to continue being a winner player.


What do you consider your personal poker intangibles?

Views: 468
Date Posted: May. 14, 2:42pm, 2 Comments

Cada celebrating WSOP winWhen you sit down at the virtual poker table, what are your motivations for playing?  Is it the challenge of figuring out the game? Is it the competition and desire to best your opponents? Do you like action? Is it the social aspect? Is it for the love of money and profit? Obviously for most players, it's a combination of all these factors.

As I thought about the subject further, I thought of a method of examining this question more closely.  Let's look at the situations in poker that give you the most joy and pleasure.  What do they indicate about your motivations?  I'll list several examples and let's see where you fall.

1. You raise the best hand pre-flop and value bet the best hand on each round, getting paid off.

2. You call with a marginal or speculative hand pre-flop, but hit a great flop and check raise your opponent who overplays his hand.

3. You sense weakness in your opponent and bluff raise them, causing them to fold their best hand.

4. You make a hero call with a marginal hand against a hard betting opponent and snap them off.

5. You take a creative line (much different from how you usually play it) in a hand that works out well.

6. You raise the best hand pre-flop, bet your best hand on flop and turn, your opponent chases his two outer and hits on the river.

The first example gives you satisfaction for playing solid winning poker and being paid off.

In the second example, you like action and the gamble involved.  You relish coming from behind to surprise/upset your opponent.

The third example rewards your ego and perception at the table as you move your opponent off a better hand.

The fourth example also rewards your ego for making a really tough call with a marginal hand.

In the fifth example, your non standard play is rewarded.  You look to maximize value by out thinking your opponent.

In the final example, you play the hand perfectly, but the odds go against you.  Do you play to play well, or do good results equate to good play?

Examining what situations give you the most pleasure can help you determine your true motivations for playing poker.  It can also influence your future strategy and choice of style of play.  There is no right answer as to why you play, but once you understand it clearly, you can better adapt your play to achieve your goals.

Views: 646
Date Posted: May. 10, 12:28pm, 19 Comments

Someone unfamiliar with Poker Curious asked me, "why should I sign up? What is there for me, if I don't play freerolls?"  The feature that immediately came to mind is favoriting.  It is a great feature that I utilize every day.  It saves me a ton of time to have my favorite poker sites and poker blogs all organized in one place, so that I can visit them quickly and efficiently.

 

Pro blogs pageAs you visit the many informational pages throughout Poker Curious, you will see a club shape to the right of many items.  If you click on the club shape, it will turn maroon.

 

That indicates that the item has been favorited and sent to your My Favorites page. 

 

 

 

Go to your My Favorites pageblog favorites and you will see a list of all your favorited sites and blogs, organized by category and color.  You can re-order your lists by clicking and dragging them.  You can also click on the little x on the right to delete them if you don't want it as a favorite.  I really enjoying seeing which pro blogs have been updated, with their titles.

 

 

Favorite sitesEvery day,  I have a number of poker sites that I like to visit to check the latest news or activity.  In one easy to use page, I can navigate most of the poker world that matters most to me.

 

I love it and so should any poker player who values their time.

 

Views: 512
Date Posted: May. 5, 2:16am, 0 Comments

Over 15 years ago, when I first moved out to Oregon from the East Coast, "Not All Who Wander Are Lost" was one of the first bumper stickers I saw that seemed to capture the elan of the Pacific Northwest. It embraced the desire for adventure and exploration both personally and geographically. Where I had come from professed to have all the answers and most of them felt hollow to me.

The DriftersRecently, I read James Michener's
The Drifters. It is set in the early 1970's at a tumultuous time where six far flung young adults are all alienated by their local culture and environment and seek new adventures abroad. They all encounter one another in the young tourist Spanish enclave of Torremolinos. From there they travel to Algarve, Portugal, then Pamplona, Spain for the running of the bulls, then Mozambique and finally Marrakech, Morroco. Along the way, they begin to find their own identities and destinies.

At the beginning of each chapter, Michener includes a number of quotes that capture the spirit of that character or destination. I thought I would share a few of them the help convey a sense of the novel.


- Youth is truth.


- War is good business, invest your sons.


- With men, the normal state of nature is not peace but war - Kant


- The permanent temptation of life is to confuse dreams with reality. The permanent defeat of life comes when dreams are surrendered to reality.


- The blunders of youth are preferable to the success of old age - Disraeli


- Soul is the ability to manipulate adversity so that it becomes tolerable.


-The use of a university is to make young gentlemen as unlike their fathers as possible. - Woodrow Wilson


- The best way to change society is to replace it one man at a time.


- Don't put off for tomorrow what you can do today, because if you enjoy it today you can do it again tomorrow.


- Nature is the balm that will cure all the ills created by those who have abused nature.


- The happiest women, like the happiest nations, have no history. - George Eliot

In the final pages, the main characters summarize their experiences together..."We agreed that a young person's years of indecision were not wasted if they provided thinking space fortified by relevant data, even though some of the latter might not be understood at the moment, so that when the lucky moment of inspiration struck, it found tinder to ignite."


And my personal favorite quote... "Every man over forty is a scoundrel" - Shaw

Views: 2268
Date Posted: May. 2, 12:53pm, 2 Comments

Back in the early 1980's, when I was going to high school in suburban Philadelphia, we heard the first whispers about Wrong Way Wooten. He was a mysterious disaffected young black man from the area who rode his tricked out bike backwards everywhere he went. No one knew when or where he could be seen, but you would catch glimpses of him at unexpected times and places. His bike was outfitted with all kinds of gear including a TV and rear view mirrors for him to see where he was going. It was said he traveled the entire country on that bike.

Some of the stories I read or heard:


"A TV was mounted where the seat should be; two mirrors hung on long brackets, facing front; the bars were padded in a peculiar way - and the toe clips were mounted backwards! "No” I said, "Can't be.” So he showed me clippings from his numerous ocean-to-ocean and Canada-to-Mexico charity rides, and then jumped on the bike and pedaled around. I'm dumbfounded to this day."


Wrong Way WootenSomeone in Arizona spoke of his generosity in giving advice about girls and how he and Wrong Way Wooten got arrested for practicing nunchucks on campus.


"He was very gregarious and likable. He always had a story to tell of his adventures."

"After being featured for his unique long range backwards bike riding habit, he used his celebrity for cancer fundraising on his multiple cross country trips."

"I built him a custom rear wheel for his bike that had a 44-hole tandem hub and rim the helped him carry his 300+ pounds of possessions."


"He actually did ride his bicycle backwards ALL THE TIME. It was not altered in any way other than to wrap some tape-covered padding on the stem and handle bars for a bit of comfort. He had removed the seat and seat post which permitted him to cover that portion of the bike with more tied-down possessions. He sat on the bars facing to the rear and pedaled backwards. The shift levers were in their original stem-mounted position which now placed them between his legs. He used two rear-view mirrors on extra-long brackets to provide cues to what was "up ahead”. He claimed to be traveling for charity and readily took advantage of any offerings of food, shelter, and money."

"I can remember going to a Dunkin Donuts at one or two in the morning with my beau and having Wrong Way Wooten ride his bike around the parking lot while singing 'Chances Are' along with the 8-track tape player that was strapped to his bike."

"He had an ultra heavy blue Schwinn Varsity with one-piece forged crankset that supported the several hundreds of pounds of gear and himself. It was a 21-speed, 12-foot-long custom-made bike that, quite frankly, resembles a home on wheels. It's complete with a dozen or more small, red pouches of food, a mini-television, stereo cassette, AM-FM receiver, amplifier and microphone, weighing 450 pounds."

Some said he died of Aids, but he actually died of a heart attack in 2004 at the age of 47.

The reason I share his legend is he fathered a son. Years later, when I had graduated college and returned to the area, I volunteered for a year in an alternative educational program called The Watershed. It required a lottery to get into. His son, along with 35 other 7th grade kids, won the lottery and it forever changed all their lives. Previously he had been 'that troubled kid' who was destined for failure. While his father was traveling the country on his bike, his son was floundering in school and life. He sought any negative attention he could get. He would get in fights, or rebel against every educational expectation given him. Before that special year, many felt he was destined for "juvey" and likely would drop out in high school.

The classroom setting was unlike any I had been a part of as a student. There were two main teachers who taught all the subjects, but math, in a mingled custom curriculum based around the concept that we are all part of a watershed. There were no grades. There were no tests. Much of the learning was experiential or group research. They took weekly field trips to the watershed to study the ecosystem in all its facets. I volunteered that full year, while taking teacher certification classes and student teaching in the spring.


I recall the tremendous challenge of dealing with Wrong Way Wooten's son. He became my personal project, as he was a distraction and detriment to group cohesion. He was so starved for attention that he would rebel or act out negatively at every opportunity. You couldn't reason with him. I had to physically restrain him on multiple occasions from acting out. All the while, I was trying to introduce the notion that he had potential as a contributing positive member of the classroom. He had the additional hindrance of not being able to read well, which was an area we focused on. While the experience was quite exasperating, by the end of the year, we saw some improvement in him. He started to realize he could gain attention for his positive contributions. He realized he could be liked for who he was, and not how bad he acted. He saw that education and authority weren't necessarily his enemies.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to follow up with him in the following years. One year can't make up for many years of neglect, but it pointed him in the right direction. I heard that he turned out to be one of the best football players of his year, something he would never have considered doing previously - a team sport. He graduated, something his father probably couldn't say.


I firmly believe each person has many paths that they can take in their lifetime. The subtlest touch here or there can move you in different directions. Wrong Way Wooten said he first started riding backward when he was 13, after someone said a bike could only be ridden forward. "I told them there had to be another way" said Wooten. l don't know what ultimately created his father's path, but it created a certain infamy for him. I'm glad to know that I played a very small role in seeing that his son had a chance to take a different path.

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