I'm heading off to Las Vegas today for my annual WSOP trip around the Main Event. This past week I was visiting family outside of New York City. It's been a great week filled with a lot of family fun. The last couple days have been packed with activity as we went to a Yankee game at their new stadium. They were playing the Seattle Mariners, and their ace Cliff Lee, who outpitched Phil Hughes for the 7-4 win. It's a shame that they will be trading him this summer, as he's a very strong pitcher. Yesterday, we packed a full day in the city, visiting Central Park, the New York Zoo, FAO Schwartz, Rockefeller Center, going to Mary Poppins with the kids at the charming Amsterdam theater, and Times Square.
As always, I'm looking forward to this year's Vegas trip. I'll be in Vegas until the evening of the 9th. I have a lot of work to catch up on and with a press pass, my access will be much better than the last couple years. I'll be blogging, reporting on a couple players for a couple sites I work with, and writing articles or setting up some interviews. Seeing poker friends and hitting up a few parties along the way (e.g. CardRunners, P5's, and some poker room hosted ones) is a big bonus.
The other day, I was out to dinner with my wife. I was trying to explain the difference from her perspective to mine on some issue and I said that she's too results oriented while I am EV oriented. I chuckled to myself, as I have introduced many other poker euphemisms and sayings from my time in poker.
Then I saw someone predict the Mexico-Uruguay World Cup match by saying..."I wonder if in the third group stage match, if Mexico and Uruguay will check it down?"
I was inspired to do some research and share some other humorous and serious answers to "You know you play too much poker when..."
You buy something at the store and you think of it in terms of how many big blinds/bets it's going to cost you.
You are playing too much poker when the word two has been replaced in your vocabulary by the word duece.
When your buddy calls and asks you if you want to head to the bar tonight and you tell him "you're all in"
When the kids hope you get knocked out soon, so you will cook dinner!
When you pass up sex with your girlfriend because you're the chip leader in a $10 MTT.
You ask the bouncer what the "buy-in" is when you go to a club.
When someone asks you a question and u ask for a time bank.
When you're looking for a pair of socks and you think to yourself that any 2 suited will do.
When everything in your life is a level.
When your monitors are bigger than your tv.
When you sit there and narrate your play like you're making your own video.
When you constantly say you run bad when things aren't going your way or blame it on variance.
When you prove to your friends u CAN count to 20 with no problems... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 jack...
You've taken your laptop into the John so you don't have to sit out any hands.
When you use "everything is fishy", "everyone is nitty", "that's sick", that "puts me on tilt", that's "standard", "he's a donkey", or "such a donk", "ship it, luckbox!"
When you avoid shopping for certain household items or gifts, because you want to "win" them for "free" in the full tilt store.
When you don't laugh anymore, you just say LOL or when you say "ty" after somebody holds the door open for you at the store.
When all bottles are full.
When you can't remember the last time you went to a dinner and when the bill arrived you weren't sweating a nice game of credit card roulette.
When you can't enjoy watching sports as much as you used to because it's just variance.
When your bankroll is bigger than your checking account.
When you can get everything else you need to get done for the day accomplished during 5 minute tournament breaks.
When you yell real loud to the pizza guy "the door is open and the money is on the counter."
Feel free to add your own in the comments....Have a nice weekend.
In the 91st minute, three minutes from elimination, Landon Donovan scores a follow up goal to beat Algeria. In his interview afterwards, Landon essentially said "we embody the American ideal, we face hardships, we could whine, but instead we choose to fight on and keep competing." Despite having another goal disallowed, an earlier red card for an elbow to Clint Dempsey's face not given, and numerous chances nearly missing, the US found a way to win.
Nothing about this World Cup has gone easily. The US team isn't pretty or polished, but they are gritty and have tremendous heart. They came back in every game they were down. In qualifying play, leading up to the World Cup, they scored 9 goals in the last 10 minutes of games, more than twice of any team in the world. Somehow they find a way when things look bleak. Today, they snatched victory from defeat, going from elimination to being group leaders in stoppage time.
Are they the best soccer team out there? No way. But they certainly have tremendous mental toughness and a will to compete. Sometimes in life, that's what really matters.
Ernest Hemingway was a Nobel Prize winning author for books like The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls, A Farewell to Arms, and The Old Man and the Sea. He was known for his terse minimalism and understatement combined with his sense for adventure. At the end of the movie Se7en, the Morgan Freeman character narrates a Earnest Hemingway quote "the world is a fine place and worth fighting for." and then adds..."I agree with the second part!"
Every day we can look around for reasons to not like the world we live in. There are plenty of opportunities to disparage the world around us. And yet, within most of us, there is the capacity and desire to see something of value. Something worth fighting for. Every day we wake to face a new day. We have hopes and aspirations that things will improve. We have hopes that we can carve out some sanity form the insanity that surrounds us. Some days, many days in fact, are not much more than treading water. And yet, there we are the next day, ready to take on that challenge again. Without that goal to prevail, we would soon perish.
With my "luck" at low stakes poker, I often feel the same way towards it, as well...LOL
One final quote from Hemingway, in a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald, caught my eye. Not being a natural writer, and yet thrust into the role of regular blogger, I could relate to his sentiment.
"Write me at the Hotel Quintana, Pamplona, Spain. Or don't you like to write letters (*blog). I do because it's such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you've done something."
I was noticing the last couple days that whenever David Benefield, the CardRunners pro, tweeted about the struggles in his various WSOP tournament runs he repeatedly said "head down, inch towards daylight." I liked the ring of it as it resonated with my blog sentiments lately. So I googled it and realized it is a survival mantra issued by the lead character Caine in a series of fantasy-science fiction books by Matthew Woodring Stover, The Acts of Caine.
"Keep your head down and inch towards daylight." That is how I feel most days. Nothing improves instantly. You just have to keep grinding towards your goal. Have a plan, put in the work, keep out of excess trouble, and hope for the best.
Adversity is a fact of life. It can't be controlled. What we can control is how we react to it. It is often human nature to complain about the various adversities that we face, but that doesn't make us special. As I watch my Twitter feed every day during the WSOP, every poker player, big name or not, whines about their situation.
I like this Henry Ford quote "When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it." There will always be adversity in some form or another. Adversity introduces a man to himself. Can you remain calm and collected in those situations? Can you act optimally to overcome them? Can you make adjustments to avoid future adversity or remain on your stubborn path to repeat previous mistakes.
There is an old saying that in order to love someone, you have to be able to love yourself first. What if the person that you love, stops loving you? Should you question your love for yourself?
As Horace said in Ancient Rom, "Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant." Take all adversity as a gateway to growth and reflection. All I do is take it one day at a time. Whereas in prosperity there is a need for moderation, in adversity patience is often the key.
It's been a busy few days, as I flew down to Scottsdale, Arizona for three days of meetings with my upcoming merger partners. We had some good conversations and a couple great meals. The first night we went to Fogo De Chao, which is a high end Brazilian steakhouse with an excellent salad bar to compliment their amazing meat on skewer carnivore experience. The second night, they hired a private sushi boss named Willy Wu. He made some of the best fusion sushi I had ever had, while we partied at one of the owner's homes with their friends. A good time was had.
They own quite a few web sites, mostly in the poker world, but also in sports too. The team has coders, designers, admins, SEO specialists and the owners down there. What is interesting is that none of them are as deeply rooted in the poker culture that I have been immersed in the last few years. They focus more on the business, technical, and customer support aspects of the poker community and they asked what is involved in being so immersed in the culture, so I thought I would lay out briefly some of the ways I stay in touch with poker culture.
By poker culture, I mean that the focus is on the people who play poker and not the mechanism of poker itself or the business of poker. I started as a fan of the game, have remained a low level amateur player and have always enjoyed following and supporting certain successful players.
Below is a list of ways that I keep abreast of the poker culture:
Blogs - following known and lesser known player blogs gives you a pulse on the poker community
Forums - participating on poker forums allow you to interact with many players of various ability
Twitter - During WSOP time, when poker players and media step up their tweet frequency, this is like a ticker tape of current news and gossip
News - traditional poker media reporting on live and online play
WSOP - going to a live event gives you insight and direct experiences with the players and culture surrounding poker
Community sites - there are numerous active poker community sites or sites that are built around the stats and results of the top players are also a good place to gain poker culture
Videos - There are lots of sites that feature 'pokertainment' video features that bring you closer to the players
Lastly, I went down for the weekend to Lincoln City, on the Oregon Coast. It was quite blustery, but we stayed in a lovely home with a couple other families and everyone got along great. It was nice to get away for a couple days
The 2010 World Series Of Poker is in full swing in Las Vegas. Since 2006, I have made a yearly WSOP trip during the Main Event. The first couple years I was worked for CardRunners and handled reporting duties with a press pass, while the last couple years I went on behalf of Poker Curious. This year's trip will be the first 9 days of July. It is always a good time to arrange business meetings, network, see friends and take in some of the Main Event. I have a press pass again this year, and I will be doing some reporting or interviewing from a human interest standpoint.
For a poker player, it is the most exciting time of the year. All the best players gather in Las Vegas during part or all of the six week series. There are smaller tournaments all around town and lots of cash games going. In addition, there are lots of parties and get-togethers. Everything builds towards the the Main Event.
I thought it would be a fun to share some of my best memories from past visits. These top 10 memories aren't in any particular order and some reflect my innocence of being new to the scene at the time, of which I'm obviously less of a noob now.
1. Having ready access to every poker player I had ever watched on TV or online, whether utilizing my press pass reporting on players or just walking the Rio halls surrounded by all the players I had ever admired or watched.
2. Attending a small charity poker party where Devilfish, Cowboy Kenna James, Marcel Luske and numerous other well known poker regulars all sang karaoke.
3. Touring the '2 Months 2 Million' mansion with Jay 'Krantz' Rosenkrantz.
4. Catching a lift back to the Strip from a private poker party with Phil Galfond and Hac Dang.
5. Reporting and railing Lee Childs as he made it from obscurity to WSOP ME final table.
6. Enjoying the July 4th Everest Poker Party on Caesars rooftop as 4th of July fireworks went off above us.
7. Observing the first prize sweat session of a CardRunners member flown to Las Vegas to be individually tutored by Brian Townsend and Taylor Caby.
8. Eating wonderful meals at Vegas restaurants, many of which were cost free due to winning credit card roulette, and some where I lost.
9. Ruining my potential political career when Stinger snapped a shot of me with a dancer's derriere next to my face at the CR party at Saphire.
10. Attending a high stakes private poker party where 3 bracelet winners and 10 poker millionaires 'actively' railed one player playing 200/400 PLO online.
One of the challenges that serious and improving poker players, those who join training sites or really focus on improvement, can suffer from is entitlement tilt. It is the sense that because you work very hard on your game, you are entitled to consistent good results. If they don't come as you expect them, it can put you on tilt. A less experienced or knowledgeable player can avoid that type of tilt because they don't expect good results regularly.
A subset of this type of entitlement tilt is something I call 'noobmonia'. Of all the types of tilt, it seems to aggravate me the most. The condition flares up when I see opponents making very bad plays, but rewarded for them. For instance, I was railing a friend in a Stars 90 man SNG last night, when an early position player with 80 BB's open shoved over an UTG limp with A,10 off suit. He was called by the small blind's K's, who covered him, but he sucked out when an Ace hit on the river. With six people to act, two other stacks that covered him, and knowing that the only hands that would call him in that situation would be way ahead, it was not a wise move that deep. He went on to make numerous ridiculous plays throughout the SNG, but ended up in 4th, as the cards didn't punished him for his poor play.
It it that type of dynamic that consistently gets under my skin. Due to my training and poker education, I am aware when players are making sub-optimal plays. It is something I should relish and look to exploit, but when they suck out or when they don't suffer from their poor play it really boils my blood. I have this sense of justice associated with poker. Good plays should be rewarded, bad ones not.
This can lead to the last type of tilt I wanted to mention. For lack of a better term I'll call it justice tilt. It is when your opponent is regularly rewarded by their bad play that you get so frustrated that you justify loosening up and making similar long shot loose plays because you feel you are owed. If it worked for him, it will work for me. You abandon what you know to be solid plays and start gambling it up.
Poker players who focus on improving their game and playing optimally are more susceptible to all three of these related types of tilt. It is something you have to manage, along with all the other kinds of tilt. For your peace of mind, sometimes it feels like it would be better to not know better, sometimes...LOL Although it should certainly be more profitable in the long run to play more optimally, if only we avoid the associated tilt when our opponents don't.