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Views: 1815
Date Posted: Oct. 31, 12:31pm, 3 Comments

It's a busy weekend here with soccer games, ballet, company over, Halloween and a party tomorrow night, but I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Halloween.


Poker Curious Pumpkin

Views: 1786
Date Posted: Oct. 29, 5:27pm, 2 Comments

For the third and final of my retrospective list blogs this week I had planned to do a country based culinary favorites list, but when I compiled it, it wasn't that interesting to me, so I figured it wouldn't be to you either.  Instead, I think I'll do a 'Beers of the World' list of some that I've enjoyed in my travels. I'm not saying they are always the absolute best beer in each country, only ones that I have consumed and enjoyed.

I'm breaking it up by continental groups with a few pictures thrown in.

world beers


Morocco - Casablanca
Zaire/DRC - Primus
Kenya - Tusker
Tanzania - Kilimanjaro
Zimbabwe - Zambezi
Uganda - Nile Special
Ghana - Star
Cameroon - 33 export
Botswana - Carling
Zambia - Mosi Lager
South Africa - Castle

USA - Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Fat Tire, Norwester Hefeweizen
Canada - Moosehead
Mexico - Tecate, Corona Extra
Bahamas - Kalik
Haiti - Prestige
Jamaica - Red Stripe


China - Tsingtao
Niger - Biere Niger
Haiti - Prestige
India - Kingfisher
Japan - Asahi
Thailand - Singha


Belgium - Chimay
Czech Republic - Pilsner Urquell
Netherlands - Amstel, Grolsch, Heineken
Ireland - Harp, Killian's Red
Italy - Peroni
Germany - Paulaner

And last but not least, the most famous beer girl in the world, and Ryan Daut's personal favorite...

Views: 1681
Date Posted: Oct. 27, 8:45pm, 3 Comments

Continuing the life experiences retrospective, here is a list of the countries I have visited and lived in so far.  I have tried to list them chronologically by the order I first visited them and not list them multiple times if I revisited them at various points of my life.  I included a brief impression of each.

USA - Born in Pittsburgh, left 6 weeks later to Africa.  While I have lived the bulk of my life here, never felt truly home either.
Senegal - Western most located African country - too young to recall much while we lived there
Morocco - Our home had a two story central courtyard - hot and dry
Zaire - Now the Democratic Republic of Congo - barefoot, African friends, pool, Fanta, avocados, servants, Mobutu Seso Seko
South Africa - Took a ship back to the US after safaris in East Africa
United Kingdom - Family trip in high school - So much history
France - Family trip in high school - Impressive chateaus and Royal history
Bahamas - Very laid back and flat
Haiti - Teeming with people and poverty
Kenya - So diverse in people and geography
Tanzania - Laid back country in decay
Belgium - Trappist beer, peach pit beer, wine and peach champagne at various stops
Netherlands - Tulips, Amsterdam red light district, art
Germany - Guns on guards in airport and formal cold atmosphere from people
Uganda - So green and verdant
Rwanda - So densely crowded
Burundi - Similar to Rwanda
Zambia - Cholera, trains, decay
Zimbabwe - Loved the people, culture, art and landscape
Botswana - Visits of peace corps friends, small population, good roads
Malawi - The lake, poor country
Cameroon - Peace corps visits in french influenced country
Nigeria - Mass of humanity that is very aggressive
Benin - Tiny sliver of a country
Togo - Revolution and chaos
Ghana - Masks, and vibrant cloth
Ivory Coast - French luxury in the midst of Africa
Niger - So hot and dry visiting sister's Peace Corps world
Canada - Vancouver is a lovely city
Spain - Barcelona was fascinating
Monte Carlo - Densely packed, rich excesses
Italy - Food, history and architecture were great

As my father's life and career has taken him to nearly 100 countries, my list doesn't seem that large, but maybe I'll resume traveling in future years.

Views: 641
Date Posted: Oct. 26, 1:16am, 2 Comments

Credit goes to ScreenW for the title of this blog and being the catalyst for its subject matter.  Being an oldster, I'm not sure what "Zimba is the live" means, but I'm interpreting it like he said I'm da bomb...LOL...thanks ScreenW.  He jokingly referred to my various shared stories as having lived many lives.  While I don't consider my life particularly remarkable, I have lived 42 years and I have had some interesting experiences.  I thought I would organize some of them in an interesting fashion over a few blog entries.  For today's entry, I will list each paying job I can recall (leaving off a number of internships and really short term type jobs) and attribute one important lesson gained from that experience.

Label applicator and collator at local newspaper - Most routine tasks ever, but probably a good thing not to think too much at your first job.
Babysitter - It seemed like easy money at the time.
Raking leaves and shoveling snow - I lacked the initiative, people skills and drive to make the most of these opportunities
Grocery Market bagger - A good introduction to serving others and working with all kinds of customers.
Rental Car Agency 'gopher' - I learned to juggle many tasks while learning a hard lesson on the value of money and trust.
Teaching Assistant - My first taste of authority and responsibility in teaching rather than learning as a student.
Bill Cosby pilot show 'gopher' - I learned there was a lot involved in creating a TV show and dealing with a big celebrity.
Teacher - I was both inspired and incredibly challenged by working with middle and high school kids.
Handyman - Helped my best friend from high school's father gut one business and build a new one from scratch.
Ice cream,Gelato and Sorbet maker - I learned to think creatively making over 225 different flavors while also meeting my wife.
Art Gallery owner - Having passion for what you represent is vital.
Web site manager - Becoming a workaholic managing a successful online business has benefits and detriments.
Web site owner/creator/manager - Controlling all aspects of a start up business is rewarding and very challenging.

Who knows what the future will bring.  In my father's era, you would likely work for one big company your whole career.  These days, you switch jobs and career paths multiple times.  Looking at those jobs listed, they seem very random.  But each served their purpose at the time.  I learned something from each experience.

For my next installment in this series, I think I might list each country I've visited with some brief impression from my experiences there.

Views: 664
Date Posted: Oct. 23, 1:53pm, 2 Comments

It's completely natural when growing up to have idols. They are people we look up to or adore for their fame, wealth, or impressive abilities.  We have all had sports stars, celebrities, political leaders, or business leaders we idolized.  They have achieved things we all dream of.  They do things that seem impossible, almost magical to us.  They often seem super human. 

It is my experience that as you become older and more experienced, we start to see the cracks in the idol's veneer.  Behind the scenes, they are all too human and flawed.  While they excel in certain areas, they lack tremendously in other areas.  There is a sharp divide from their public and private persona.  It is almost as if there is only so much human life force available and as they apply so much in one area, other areas suffer.

A very crude analogy might be the stereotypical difference from an attractive woman and a not so attractive one.  The attractive one gets showered attention and benefits all her life due to her visual appeal.  She doesn't invest much in working hard to be nice and earn people's friendship and admiration.  On the other hand, those who don't receive that immediate attention must work hard on kindness and interpersonal skills to build up that kind of attention. So in the end, the less attractive woman can often be the nicer person to interact with if you care for more than just looks.

An example I'll give from my experience is Michael Jordan.  He was the best basketball player of my generation growing up.  From hitting his clutch shot to win the NCAA championship at UNC to individual NBA scoring titles and championships. He was everywhere and seemed super human.  He seemed to be always smiling and friendly.  He worked hard and seemed to be the perfect role model.  He had more endorsements and accolades than any other sports figure of his era.

As I got older, I started to hear some other details of his life.  That he wasn't faithful to his wife.  That he gambled heavily.  That he was so driven to win, that those who didn't share his drive weren't treated well.  One summer, I worked for Bill Cosby and his What's My Line show he was developing in Philadelphia.  One of my responsibilities was to drive around some of the shows contestants, one of whom was Michael Jordan's father.  I learned about Michael's obsessive drive, his childhood, his professional career.  It was so sad to hear a couple years later that his father had been murdered mysteriously.

I'm not saying Michael was a good or bad person.  I'm saying that everyone that we idolize has many facets.  It is often better to admire their skills and accomplishments than the people as a whole.  Behind the scenes, those we idolize can sometimes be mere shadows of what we anticipate.

Recently, I have been corresponding with three well respected CEO's of larger companies.  Each quite successful and leaders in their industries.  You would naturally project that they are decisive and responsive.  But that isn't the case.  The fact that they lead their companies doesn't make them immune to having areas in which they need to improve.  A strength or gift in one area doesn't necessarily mean one in all areas.  While I admire what they have accomplished, I can also see them more fully.  I am not in awe of them, nor do I expect them to be perfect people.

The same goes for top poker players.  I have had the privilege and opportunity to be around some of the top poker players in the world.  At the end of the day, they still take off their pants, one leg at a time.  They have achieved great success and wealth, but they still struggle with life's issues just like you or me.

Every idol is human.  Every human can be an idol.  If we work hard enough or get lucky enough, we can all be idolized for things we do, but none of us deserves to be deified for those actions.  They are only a part of the big complex picture that is being human.

Views: 694
Date Posted: Oct. 18, 10:39pm, 0 Comments

After finishing up my Super Hero Powers blog, I realized I left off a couple important potential super hero powers that I'm weak in and where I could use considerable help.

1. Laser focus - The ability to have complete tunnel vision when playing.  You are in the moment, focusing only on your opponent and their moves.  You don't think of personal issues, work issues or whatever.

I struggle with this all the time.  I am constantly considering other issues while I play.  Most of them having to do with Poker Curious; business plans, emails, thinking up blog entries, article/interviews, community events, and lots of little details that I can do while I'm playing.  I am regularly interrupted, either by the phone, AIM or my family. Maybe because I play low stakes, I feel my time is too valuable to be just playing.   I know that I miss a lot of information, timing tells etc that could help my game be more profitable.

2. Photographic memory - The ability to remember every hand played, organize and retrieve it when necessary. 

I have never had a great memory for little details like that.  Try as hard as people might, most people play a very patterned game.  So if you are able to recall how they play certain hands, you can really dominate.  Certainly a HUD with PT or HEM can assist you in this process, but it is a special gift to recall exact hands from hours, days, weeks or months before.

While neither of these powers may seem super human to some, I would bet that 98% of the poker population lacks them, as well as the other four I mentioned the other day.   In some respects, it's amazing that we win despite all the hindrances from our game.  I suppose it's all relative to our competition.  You can be a poor player, but if you are better than your competition you will prosper.  Game selection will always be key.  That along with your fair share of lady luck.

Views: 742
Date Posted: Oct. 16, 3:02am, 3 Comments

I had planned to put up a part two of my Super Hero Powers blog, but I noticed this new feature that Full Tilt has rolled out today - Run it twice

Go into Options > Misc > Run it twice by default

You now have the option to have the hands where one person is all in to be run twice, like in live cash games.


Run It Twice


I'm curious as to how the games will change as a result.  There will certainly be lots of split pots. But will there be more big pots?  Less variance? What are your thoughts?

Views: 740
Date Posted: Oct. 14, 6:36pm, 1 Comment

Some days I feel a bit too mired in my mortality.  Every direction I turn I find obstacles.  In those times, I find myself dreaming of what it would take to overcome them all?  What if I had super powers, similar to comic book heroes?  Wouldn't life be easier then?

According to most people, the most popular super hero powers are; flight, strength, speed, and invisibility.  When I was growing up, I confess to being torn between flight and invisibility as my favorite.  All my best dreams involved me flying and of course, as a boy, invisibility afforded me all kinds of naughty 'stealth' activities. As a grown up, these super hero powers, while appealing from a fantasy standpoint, aren't as useful or appealing as they once were.  In fact, in my poker playing world, none of them can really help you a whole lot.  Maybe it's time I prioritize a new set of super hero powers to dream about...

1. Emotional control - The ability to remain on an even keel regardless of the outcomes on and off the table.  Patience and discipline could be considered subsets of the overall perspective. Never to get upset or play less than your A game would be a real gift.

2. Omniscience - The ability to know people's thoughts and feelings would be invaluable.  But, as I explained in my recent 'Lie to Me' blog, this is problematic if the person is not very self aware (i.e. doesn't know where they stand or why they are making play).

3. Telekinesis - The ability to influence other objects, like the RNG (random number generator) could come in mighty handy playing online.  The closest thing we have now are the 'super user' cases who have access to see the cards coming, but not influence how they come out.

4. Fiscal acuity - The ability to sharply manage the fiscal aspects of my playing.  This would include bankroll management, accounting, investments, taxes, withdrawals and resource management.

Each of these potential super powers would greatly impact any poker players career.  They may not be as sexy as flight, strength, speed, and invisibility, but in the poker world, they would come in a lot more handy. 

If only I were positively imbued, but the facts are...

Views: 817
Date Posted: Oct. 12, 3:24am, 5 Comments

I was watching Masterpiece Theater on PBS tonight when the following thoughts came to me.  There was a series called Inspector Morse, that my wife and I enjoyed years ago.  The main character passed away, but after several years hiatus, they have updated and adapted the series to feature his loyal assistant who is now Inspector Lewis.  It takes place in the rarified world of Oxford, England with all its privilege, pomp and pride.  The episode was titled "The Quality of Mercy" which comes from a speech by Portia in William Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice.

It begins...

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes...

The scene has become famous for the aggrieved demanding his "pound of flesh". The essential message that I took from the speech is to not be too harsh in your request for vengeance or revenge, as we are all in need of mercy.  That sympathy and understanding are of the most noble and godly of sentiments.  There is something to be gained from giving as well as receiving mercy.  We are all flawed and only by trying to understand the other do we find true knowledge ourselves.  None of us, if properly examined, could stand the scrutiny.  The characters main faults in most Inspector Morse and Inspector Lewis episodes lie in their inability to reconcile their outer projected appearance with their inner demons and struggles.

It is a classic struggle that I see every day at the poker tables as well.  Poker is a game judged by results and fueled by confidence or the lack thereof.  Typically, most players fall into one of two categories; those with a God complex or those with an Oh Gawd complex.  The God complex results from positive results.  They may be players who truly have an edge over most of their opponents and crush their games, or they might simply be those that have benefited from lady luck.  Each are rewarded with confidence and profits.  They view their play as superior to that of their opponents.  The world is theirs to conquer and destroy.

To many, poker is a simple game.  If you win, you are a good player.  If you lose you are not.  The educated player may determine that you can continue to make EV+ moves and remain unrewarded (e.g. those who constantly display their EV adjusted graphs).  But in the long term, it is results that matter.  Even speaking with numerous successful pros, they have described how thin the line can be from tremendous confidence in their game to utter despair, with their results often being the determining factor.  They had mediocre or inconclusive results until they had a big score or hot run and suddenly they are a better player and more confident.

On the other hand, the Oh Gawd groups lives closely with their misfortune, whether it be self inflicted or not.  All manner of injustice befalls them.  They just run bad. The poker sites are rigged.  The rng hates them.  They don't understand how those other donkeys can beat them. They steam.  They tilt.  They blame others for their poor results.  They rarely give credit to being outplayed.  The world just isn't fair.

In my opinion, it is the same world.  There are not two groups of players, but one.   We can find ourselves in either group.  The common factor being our hubris or delusion.  As someone once said, we are rarely as good as we think we are when winning and not as poor as we feel when losing.  Only in self knowledge and understanding for both sides of winning and losing can we deliver and receive the mercy needed to prosper.  We all need mercy.  I know I do. 

Views: 921
Date Posted: Oct. 7, 6:47pm, 2 Comments

After Monday Night Football was over, I was flipping through channels until I came across this Fox show called 'Lie to me'.  The angle of the show is that this team of people, led by Tim Roth, can determine when you are lying through their research and observational skills.  They are able to read the clues embedded in the human face, body and voice to expose the truth and lies in criminal investigations.  On the surface, it would seem this would be an amazing skill to have.  Certainly in poker, we would all love to always be able to tell when our opponent is bluffing.  We  could see right through them and make millions.  Or would we?

To me, lying and truth are much more complicated elements.  We lie each and every day.  It is a social requirement.  We make little white lies to the people around us.  It is a necessary skill at home, school, and work.  We deceive others of our true intentions, opinions and desires.  They are lies of convenience.  They aren't meant to really hurt anyone badly.  If anything, they are meant to spare others and yourself needless conflict.  We employ them with those we are close to as well as those we aren't.

There are also lies of self deception.  We lie to ourselves.  We will say we will do something that deep down we don't want to do and will most likely not do.  We will claim some goal that is highly unrealistic, if previous behavior is examined.  We can promise one thing, then reconsider later.  Was the original promise a lie, or just a momentary thought reconsidered?  Further complicating factors are the sins of omission, where we don't tell a lie or the truth but simply omit something.

Relating these back to poker, could you really use the purported 'Lie to me' skills to always make the right read?  What about players who don't know where they stand in a hand?  How do we interpret their moves?  They may wrongly feel they are ahead, so they don't exhibit the classic tells of a bluffer.  Similarly are those that bluff with the best hand.  They put out a bet thinking they are behind and can push you off the hand, but they, in fact, have the best hand.  Complicating things further in poker, most aspiring players are taught to minimize their tells through controlling, masking and creating unreadable routines in their play (e.g. hat, sunglasses, same size bets, same timing etc.).

While the show often portrayed these deception revealing skills almost as magic, in most instances, they were unable to prevent something catastrophic from happening.  Their interpretations of other people's intentions are clouded by their own.  Their personal lives and lies affect the clean interpretation and possible proactive action.  So it is in poker and life.

We often tell our kids not to lie, but are those really the skills that best help them achieve their goals?  Where is the balance of harmless to harmful lies?  Who is to be the judge?  In some instances, it's like the famous Jack Nicholson's quote in 'A Few Good Men'..."you can't handle the truth".  If we all expressed our true thoughts and opinions constantly, society and relationships would suffer greatly and conflict would increase exponentially.

I want to make it clear that I prefer a world that expresses their true thoughts in a civil manner, over one that deceives at every opportunity, but I also have lived long enough to see it's a much more complicated scenario too.  While the almost magical skills of the 'Lie to me' team seems desirable, the ability to read others is rarely that transparent or free of danger.

*** On an unrelated note, I put up an interview today with Dani 'Ansky' Stern from the '2 Months. 2 Million' show that airs Wednesdays at 8 pm ET on G4, that you might enjoy.

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