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Views: 1494
Date Posted: Nov. 30, 5:54pm, 1 Comment

The other day, while lying in bed, my wife asked if I knew then what I know now, would I do it all over again (with her)?  Besides the fact that that is a completely loaded question with only one 'right' answer in that situation, it's still a good question.  Personally, I'm not one to rue past decisions, but I know if I knew then what I know now...

-  I would have met and 'succeeded' with more girls when I was younger.
-  I wouldn't have feared committing to the one I was with to see where it went.
-  I would have traveled even more than I did.
-  I would have capitalized on more work opportunities, to make the most of them.
-  I would have worked harder in identify life passions at an earlier age.
-  I would have started playing poker at a younger age, not to become a pro, but to have better used my superior focus back then.

It's usually not a positive step to second guess your life decisions too much because they shaped who you are today.  Sure, your life could have gone in different directions, but there is no guarantee it would have been better.  Obstacles and unexpected diversions exist on whatever path you take.  Your energy is better spent evaluating your choices now and where and why to shift course now.

Over the last couple years, I've talked to several high stakes cash game players who used to kill the highest online games back in the day.  Somewhere along the line they got off the fast track. Sure, they could look back with regret on that decision, as they've likely missed out on making tons of money, but they changed course to introduce other aspects into their lives.  They changed course to create more balance in their life.  They changed course to reduce their stress and variance.  They changed course to try new challenges.  Once you get off the fast track, it's awfully difficult to recapture that momentum, bankroll and confidence. The old saying is often true, "you can never go back".

It can be a fun exercise to wonder how things might have been different if you knew then what you know now.  I know I've had countless dreams where I revisit high school and college years with that knowledge and experience.  But you do a better service to yourself focusing on where to go now with what you know.

And if you were wondering, I said "without a doubt I would do it again. These have been the best years of my life!" 

Views: 1461
Date Posted: Nov. 27, 1:41pm, 1 Comment

The football games on yesterday were weak, so I played some PLO instead.  I had one of my worst days in memory.  I actually tilted off a couple buyins towards the end of the second of three sessions.  That is very unusual of me.  If it happens, it is usually a function of being fed up with some over aggressive too loose player hitting long shots over and over.  You start to justify that you should take some, since they are hitting them.

The first session wasn't remarkable.  Simply, nothing went right.  I lost 75% of my all ins where I was a favorite.  I hit my stop loss and quit.  I personally use a 3-4 buyin stop loss (3.5 avg).

In the afternoon, I played another session at a deep ante table to die for.  It was filled with super loose and aggressive players.  The main culprit played 90/50 with two other players that played 80/30 and 70/25.  The money was flying around loose and free.  I was even able to get the prime seat to the left of the loosest/most aggro player. Unfortunately, they were catching like there was no tomorrow.  A gutshot was all they needed to push all in on the turn and they hit on seemingly most occasions.  Four players at the table were between 4 and 8 buyins deep.   Many of the pots grew to 4-6 buyins with the slightest of hands.  There was so much money to be made if you could hit a hand or have your hand hold up.

The point I wanted to share was that despite all this action and running so poorly, I never suffered a risk of ruin.  Sure, I'm disappointed that I ran so poorly.  Sure, I'm frustrated that it will take me a while to grind back the losses.  Sure, I regret I couldn't take advantage of such a juicy table.  There were so many +EV situations that I couldn't ever collect on.  Some days are like that.  But managing my bankroll and respecting my stop loss prevents one day's sessions from impacting my poker playing future or my mentality.

Confidence is so important in poker.  Your confidence often follows your results.  If you manage your results, you can often manage your confidence.  So don't ever let your losses accumulate beyond a reasonable point (e.g. strict stop loss).  That way you can get back in the game again soon to resume you gradual climb back up.  Allowing yourself to go busto or lose too much of your roll can have long term deleterious effects to your psyche and confidence.

I'll use the example from some of the high stakes games going on now.  Brian Townsend was criticized after his recent one million dollar plus win against Isildur1.  Some said he hit and ran Isildur1.  I don't know the exact reasons he left when he did, but I would bet he was managing his session.  He had played and ran well, then he lost a big hand and may have sensed frustration and tilt coming on where he might give back his winnings.  After you play over 1000 hands, I certainly don't consider that hitting and running.  The objective is to manage your playing to ensure long term winning play and results, and that's what he did.  He will play Isildur1 again, probably often, but on that day he managed his results and confidence well.

That is my biggest issue with some of the recent high stakes play.  While it is exciting for railbirds and fans to see huge wins and losses from these big HU matches with Isildur1, I would argue it's not the wisest approach to managing their confidence or results.  You need to check your ego when another player is getting the best of you.  Establish a stop loss and stick to it.  Maybe Isildur1 has durrrr's number or has just been luckier, but so what.  durrrr should never allow his entire online winnings from the last two years come into jeopardy.   The same can be said of Isildur1 who had been on a torrid run in November and was up around 6 million.  To allow yourself to give over half that back ($3.4 million) in one session to Phil Ivey and Patrik Antonius is irresponsible, in my opinion.  Quitting a losing session before it gets out of hand isn't the sign of a loser, but a winner.   Managing your risk of ruin is one of the key elements to long term success in poker, your ego be damned.

Views: 1470
Date Posted: Nov. 26, 1:16pm, 2 Comments

Noooo.  Thank you...

-for the feast I am about to eat
-that I enjoy working at a computer for hours a day
-for surviving my poor decisions and sprinkling in some good ones along the way
-for my ballerina daughter and soccer star son
-to my wife for still thinking of me as the man of your dreams
-that I relish the challenges and opportunities at Poker Curious
-that it has been a year since my back surgery and end of my severe sciatica
-for letting me see that life is about more than money and material
-for loving poker
-for reading my blog

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Views: 636
Date Posted: Nov. 25, 3:13am, 1 Comment

It's been a long time since I shared any music.  After the last couple blogs, I've been needing something uplifting.  Music always has the power to take you on a journey and I'm ready to go.

In Portland, our local alternative station, 94.7 FM, has a show called Passport Approved.  Each afternoon they have a teaser for the weekend show that features lesser known foreign artists.  This week they introduced a UK group called Grum to me.  I immediately loved their music as it's very upbeat, dancy, and seems heavily influenced by another group I really like, Daft Punk.
  It definitely has lifted my spirits and I enjoy playing it over and over.







Views: 995
Date Posted: Nov. 23, 11:14pm, 2 Comments

I'm not going to lie.  It has been a very emotional few days for me.  This was only the second funeral I've had to go to as an adult.  The first was years ago, my grandfather who lived to 97.  At that age, you understand and accept their passing.  David, on the other hand, was 43 and we shared many similarities.  Add to that he was a great guy and you have all the ingredients for it to hit close to home.

As I drove up Sunday afternoon, the closer I got to Seattle, the more I felt its immediacy.  Thankfully, I was staying overnight with an old high school friend and his young family.  Something about seeing new life (7 month and nearly 3 year old) balanced out my mood and returned hope to the equation.  Monday morning I played with the kids for a couple hours before heading to the Memorial service.

As I walked up the hill to the church, I could feel it welling up in me again.  The church was packed.  I didn't recognize a soul, except for Davis, his son, who naturally couldn't grasp the gravity of the situation. The service was fairly standard with hymns and gospel readings.  At the packed reception, they had a long emotional picture slide show.  It was wonderful to see David throughout his life sharing the joy he always had for his family and friends.

Once that was over, they transitioned to an open microphone for testimonials.  Most were long time friends or family who spoke.  After the first few, there was a long pause where no one got up to speak.  It started to get really awkward, so in that moment I stood up.  I walked up to the lectern and began to speak.  I hadn't planned on speaking but I also felt I came to Seattle for a purpose.  I was representing a part of his life that not many people knew about.  I was also carrying with me the well wishes of many poker players who had been positively impacted by him.

You can imagine it wasn't easy to get up in front of several hundred people I didn't know and begin, "Hi, my name is Bill and I'm a poker player..."  But I was determined to share a bit of his story in poker.  I repeated the story from my last blog about how he beat WSOP champion Joe Cada  heads up and then launched into how he mentored numerous players both by example and offering advice.  Poker is seen as a selfish game, but David reached out to help others.  He looked to impart his life experience and advice on those who were willing to listen.  He played poker not as a degenerate, but with a sincere desire to consistently improve his game and the prospects for his family.  He touched many people throughout the poker world and certainly made many of us laugh at his wit and unique sense of humor.

After I spoke, things picked up again and there were a number more testimonials.  When the pastor concluded that portion of things, I had one last thing I needed to do.  I wanted to present the farewell messages from each of you that sent them to me for Patrice and Davis.  As I was low in the pecking order of family and friends, that took a while, but as I was near the end, I also got a few extra moments to speak to her.

She was initially a bit defensive about David and his poker playing.  She admitted resenting his playing as she saw that as time he took away from potentially spending with the family.  But when I shared how he positively impacted a lot of people, she started to see it in a new light.  Just as he had mentored and connected with many young people through his love of basketball, he has similarly impacted numerous young poker players who benefited from his input, not so much about poker strategy but about life.  Then I handed her the packet with the numerous farewells and condolences.  She was very touched and it seemed to allow her to re-frame her perspective.  It seemed to give her some peace on an area of his life that she wasn't always okay with.

As I headed home, I realized that I went for a reason.  It wasn't about me.  It was about representing a part of him that people didn't know about.  Thanks to those of you who sent messages.  I think it will give her some closure and comfort as she thinks back on his life in poker.

I am including a poem and an excerpt of his life writeup from his memorial service pamphlet.

Gone from our sight
But never our memories;
Gone from our touch
But never our hearts.

Some people come into our
Lives and quickly go.
Others stay for awhile and leave
Footprints on our hearts...
And we are never the same.

David had a strong personality which allowed him to live life to its fullest.  There was no half-way with David.  Everything he did was 100%.  His golf game was often reflective of who he was as a person.  David could be deep in the trees 260 yards from the green.  He would take one look at the ball, walk back to his bag, grab a one iron and head back into the trees.  Never a moment's thought of the safe shot back to the fairway, he was always going for the green.  This was the way David lived his life.  you always got 100% of him, regardless of the game, discussion, or job.  The hand he was dealt rarely mattered - his glass was always half-full.  Indeed, David's drive is an eternal footprint he left in the hearts of all who knew him.

Views: 1055
Date Posted: Nov. 21, 8:04pm, 1 Comment

Wednesday of this past week, a long standing online poker friend of mine died in a car accident.  I wrote a blog in tribute to him on CardRunners.  I am driving up to Seattle Sunday, after I set up both Poker Curious freerolls on Full Tilt and PowerPoker.  The service is Monday morning and I will drive the three hours back home afterwards.  I wanted to represent his numerous online poker friends from around the country that he touched and influenced over the years.  To me the most powerful and compelling aspects of my love of poker have been the friends and connections I have made.  The desire for community created around a shared love of poker is what caused me to create Poker Curious.  I appreciate all of you who are helping build our community at Poker Curious.

Views: 932
Date Posted: Nov. 20, 2:14am, 1 Comment

While eating lunch one day this week, I was flicking channels and came across this movie, Camp.  I only caught the last half, but it was about these misfit kids that get sent off to music camp.  Their parents don't know what to do with their gay, creative or awkward kids so they ship them off for the summer.  The part I could relate to was watching young people find themselves and reach their potential.  That is my ultimate wish as a parent.  I don't have a particular agenda for them, only that they find something they love and work to achieve whatever potential they might have.

I found the clip from the last scene, which I found moving and thought I would share it.  The back story is this girl had her mouth wired shut from some dental procedure.  Her parents show up at the end of the summer and the first thing the father does is tease her that it didn't prevent her from eating too much.  The song and lyrics speak for themselves.


Views: 756
Date Posted: Nov. 18, 2:15am, 0 Comments

Let me preface my comments by admitting that INTERNETPOKERS (Haseeb, aka Dogishead) is a much better poker player than I will ever be.  He is likely a better writer, more intelligent, and also more prone to hyperbole than I am.  But given all that, when I look over the recent history of Isildur1 playing durrrr, Patrik Antonius and numerous other high stakes players, I don't see the decline of western civilization.  In fact, what I see from my lowly perspective is more a tale of ego, riding the rush, adjustments to new styles of play, and issues of bankroll management and stop loss.  I don't see a transatlantic rivalry.  I don't see usurping some longstanding hierarchical hegemony.  I don't see the loss of heroes.  The battles will continue...

I come from a fundamental training site perspective.  What I mean by that is certain fundamentals are taught, that if you follow you can prevent complete failure.  If you follow the guidelines you are taught you can manage your playing effectively.  Any serious deviation can cause significant peril.

1. Establish a stop loss.  It can vary depending on how many tables you play and how large your bankroll is (e.g. 3, 5 or 7 buy-ins in a particular session or day).
2. Only play a level if you have X amount of buy-ins.  (Loose to conservative guidelines in cash games vary from 20 to 100 buy ins).  If you drop below that level you should move down to a level you do have the appropriate buy-ins for.
3. Remove your ego from the equation.  Put your money in plus EV spots and play through the inevitable variance.  Any player can beat you on any given day.  Accept some days aren't yours, regardless of how you play.

It sounds very basic and pedantic, but it applies to all players at all levels.  If all three principals are taken to heart by each player, the Isildur1 vs. durrrr and other high stakes player's matches don't become the stuff of major forum gossip.

Certainly dropping 30 plus buyins at the highest levels available online doesn't comport to those guidelines.  And yet, if you look back only a few months ago, durrrr took the same roughly $3 million from another Scandinavian player (Martonas).  Patrik lost a couple million initially, only to win it back and more last night, including the largest ever pot online of over $878k.

In fact, as we speak, Isildur1 is playing 7 $500/1000 NLHE heads up tables against durrrr, Phil Ivey, and Patrik Antonius, while durrrr is also playing Brian Townsend in $300/600 PLO.

I have to give credit to Isildur1 for reinvigorating the high stakes games that have suffered for large portions of 2009.  He is a brash young talent.  As I watched last night, his game was very much one of patterns.  He hasn't reinvented the wheel, only introduced some new twists and angles to an aggressive game.  For instance, while I watched last night, he liked to take away positional advantage by 3 betting from the big blind.  He liked to continuation bet roughly 65% of the pot out of position.  If he's in position and has the betting lead, he liked to continuation bet 85% of the pot on the flop and turn and if unraised, he usually bet pot on the river.  From my amateur perspective, I guess that polarizes your calling range, as people are less willing to call down with marginal holdings.  He will do it with a wide range of holdings and last night it was costly as he donated heavily to Patrik Antonius.  In the end, it is just about adjustments.  The best players will eventually make adjustments and if he doesn't counter adjust he will lose the edge he's had in the last few weeks.

INTERNETPOKERS' blog makes for better reading, but I think the lessons to be learned from these ongoing high stakes battles are more fundamental and less sensational than his observations.
  My heroes aren't ones of a geographic or generational basis.  They are ones who impress me by their creative play, hard work and doggedly responsible management of the resources they are fortunate enough to accumulate.

Views: 722
Date Posted: Nov. 16, 12:09pm, 1 Comment

During the 12 years I owned my art gallery, we donated quite a bit to various causes.  Once you get a reputation for giving, the word spreads and more people hit you up each year.  I tried to concentrate most of my giving to causes that had an Africa link because we featured African art.  We also gave to some local Portland causes because they were associated with some of my loyal customers.

One of the many charities we donated to was IDA-Africa (In Defense of Animals).  It was a Cameroon based charity run by an American woman named Dr. Sheri Speede.  They have run the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center for the last 10 years, rescuing and rehabilitating many chimpanzees.  Years ago, they held a large auction in Portland and flew in some Hollywood celebrity to emcee.  We donated a nice Shona stone sculpture from Zimbabwe, as I recall, for their oral auction.  Fast forward a number of years to a couple weeks ago when I stumbled across this photo from their Cameroonian refuge that has been making an impact across the internet.  It is a very powerful and touching picture witnessing the collective respect and empathy from all the chimpanzees for one of their comrades who had recently died of congestive heart failure.

Then a couple days ago, their yearly newsletter arrived with more details about Dorothy, the deceased chimpanzee pictured.  Dorothy had spent 25 years of her life with a chain around her neck - a forlorn "attraction" at an amusement park.  In May 2000, Dorothy became one of the first three orphans rescued by IDA-Africa.  She shared eight years and four months with them.

"Cherished perhaps most of all by Nama, her loyal friend who suffered with her through some of those horrible years at the amusement park and who was rescued with her.  Nama sat beside Dorothy in death, touching her gently and not wanting to leave her body.

While Dorothy never gave birth to a child, her motherly instincts were not lost.  Compassionately, she adopted baby orphan Bouboule in 2002.  Her love transformed him from a sad, insecure little boy looking for his place, to a happy, self-confident rascal.  With Dorothy's love and protection Bouboule grew physically strong and emotionally confident.  He is positioning himself within his family group to become the next alpha male, a position currently held by beloved Jacky."

Also within the newsletter are beautiful photos with bios for 16 of the chimpanzees.  They are treated with tremendous respect, as they should be.  We humans consider ourselves as the top of the food chain, claiming intellectual and emotional superiority as well, but I think there is a lot we can learn from some of the other creatures with whom we share this earth.

Views: 762
Date Posted: Nov. 14, 1:37am, 1 Comment

November is always my least favorite month, financially.  That's when the yearly property tax bill comes in.  I suppose if I made and owed a ton of money, that April would be my least favorite month, but I've gotten refunds 3 out of the last 4 years.

The property tax bill breaks down your billing in great detail.  This year, $86.40 of my thousands due went to the local community college.  My wife happens to work part time there and I support higher education, so I don't mind seeing money flow there. One of the things that public tax money supports are various student activities, including a school newspaper. Today, my wife brought home the student newspaper.  In addition to the school news, sports, arts and culture features, horoscopes, and sodoku, there is a word find.

This week's word find title: it's mr. happy, the redhead warrior of love

Words to search for:

love weasle

Now is that the best use of my hard earned tax dollars at work???  Are you telling me that they couldn't come up with a less salacious focus?  The amusing part is that it was put together by a woman who proudly listed that she is a GED Proctor on campus.  When I glanced further, I noticed all of the other articles and features were written by women.  Apparently, these days, women make up well over 60% of the student population at colleges, and they seem to have one thing on the brain.

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