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Happy New Year!

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers at both Klopzi's Mediocre Poker and The Greedy Gamer a very Happy New Year.

2008 was a year filled with both highs and lows.

I lost a dear friend to cancer and she will be missed always. I know that she is looking down on her husband and kids, watching out for them wherever she can.

On a positive note, I had a great year with my family. My wife and I both lost weight and are getting healthier by the day. I've put on some Christmas pounds but that's cool too! Those Christmas cookies and boxes of chocolates won't eat themselves...nor will the snack mixes, crackers, or honey-roasted sesame-coated almonds. And the same holds true for the liters of cream liqueurs, eggnog, beer, and tourtiere all making their yearly visits to my kitchen and waistline...

My kids are doing terrific. Both are terribly loud and extremely mobile bundles of love, destruction and mayhem. I can't imagine life without my boys anymore.

On the poker front, I played less poker in 2008 than in previous years. However, 2008 was also my best year in terms of poker profit thanks to a couple hot streaks at both the $100 and $200 NLHE tables.

And finally, I really enjoyed my video games this past year. My Xbox 360 and I are on great terms and I look forward to exploring our relationship further in the New Year. I'm also quite pleased at the strides that my video game site, The Greedy Gamer, has taken in terms of traffic and visibility. However, I hope to see both Klopzi's Mediocre Poker and The Greedy Gamer continue to grow in the New Year.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year's Eve! Drink responsibly, eat recklessly, and enjoy yourselves! I'll be back in the New Year ready to tackle any hardships and challenges that 2009 may throw my way!

Keep reading "Happy New Year!"

Merry Christmas!

Over the next couple weeks, I'll be doing my best to relax, eat lots of food, play a ton of video games, and maybe throw in a little poker too! So I just wanted to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas!

Enjoy your holidays! Spend some quality time with your friends and families! And don't forget that cookies, turkey, and eggnog are actually good for you come Christmas time!

Merry Christmas!

Keep reading "Merry Christmas!"

Strike!

Up here in Ottawa, we're now into Day 3 of our public transit strike. We're also going through an unseasonal cold snap with temperatures hovering around the -10°C (14°F) mark with some brisk winds really cooling things off. Throw in slick streets, the near-constant trickle of snow from the heavens, and picketers blocking traffic and you have the recipe for a very tired "me".

Last week, my round trip to and from work took roughly an hour and a half. My bus ride was nice and relaxed, allowing me to watch poker videos on my Zune or read a quality poker book or two.

Fast forward to this week. My round-trip commute now takes four to five hours. It's a long, boring drive punctuated by slippery roads, short-fused tempers, and inflated parking prices. You want to talk about your bad beats...

As much as I'd like to "want to" play poker over the weekend, it's not going to happen. I'm exhausted from a grueling week at work. I'm enjoying Too Human far too much for a thirty-three year old father of two. And I would lose money if I tried to jump into a game in my current state of mind. I am hoping to play poker next week by having a poker party at my place. Current invitees include myself and lots of beer; I hear honey roasted peanuts and some of the Bulk Barn's best snack mixes may stop by to say hello too!

My plans for tonight include relaxing with my wife, drinking, and video games. There is nothing else planned over the next couple days. That's a good thing considering I need to brace myself for another week of brutal commuting. There's no end to the strike in sight right now and I doubt we'll see anything happen until after Christmas.

For the record, I'm siding with the City of Ottawa on this issue. Unions suck. I can see how they were useful back in the old days when employers were really sticking it to their coal miners and railroad workers but things are different nowadays. The OC Transpo bus drivers make substantial money, have good benefits, and flexible work schedules. What else do they need? According to the transit union (and not the bus operators themselves), bus operators need a 10% pay increase over three years, more sick days, and the ability to schedule their own shifts - even if doing so results in less buses on the road and substantial overtime hours being billed to taxpayers. Ridonkulous!

Have a great weekend! I need a drink...

Keep reading "Strike!"

The Perfect Storm

The snow started late Monday evening. Just a few flakes here and there until around midnight. Then the snow really started coming down. By Tuesday morning, my fair city of Ottawa was pleasantly dusted by roughly one foot of snow. Not too bad, right? A white Christmas was all but guaranteed.

The only problem? It kept snowing.

Over the course of Tuesday, we received another six inches of snow. Roads were slippery, sidewalks were treacherous, and public transportation was slow and frustrating.

At eight o'clock last night, the snow turned to freezing rain.

At eleven o'clock, freezing rain turned back into snow.

At midnight, all public transportation workers in Ottawa walked off their jobs as their union firmly declared to all who were listening: "Strike!". Their timing could not have been more perfect: damn those sneaky, weather-forecasting union bosses!

When I awoke at six o'clock this morning, I looked outside and was shocked to discover that Ottawa had received another foot of snow overnight. And the buses were not running. And the under-funded city snowplows had yet to make their first runs of the day.

Total distance from my house to my downtown office: 11.6 miles.

Total time spent in the car this morning: 2 hours and 2 minutes.

Talk about a long, boring, gross, and death-defying drive. You would not believe how many stupid people there were out on the roads this morning. Or maybe you would? In any case, it's days like today that make me lose all faith in humanity. If the general population can't figure out how to merge in traffic without bringing the morning commute to a grinding halt, how the f*ck are we supposed to cure cancer, AIDS, and everything else lining up to f*ck us?

And you know what else sucks? Losing at poker. As much as I try to work on my SNG game, I can't seem to get any kind of streak going. I've been reading Secrets of Sit 'n' Gos: Winning Strategies for Single-table Poker Tournaments but no positive results yet. Mind you, I'm not playing enough to give myself a real chance to win either.

I can't help it though: the world's far too Christmas-y right now to spend my time playing online poker. Video games are far more festive, aren't they? Especially video games that involve hitting robots masquerading as mythological creatures square in their mythological faces.

In any case, work is busy, traffic's gonna be a real bitch tonight, and I'm ready for bed.

Have a good one!

Keep reading "The Perfect Storm"

Too Human

Poker's a funny game. One minute, I love it to death and can't get enough of it. Yet a scant few losing sessions later and poker is relegated to the back burner while I busy my time elsewhere.

I think that I play a lot more poker when I'm worried about money and/or a little better rested. I'm not rich at the moment. As for being tired...

So how have I been spending my time? I finished Fallout 3 a couple weeks ago so what other game could be anywhere near as addictive as a post-nuclear RPG? Two words: Too Human.

There are a few games that really stand out from the pack when I think of games that absolutely loved playing: Fallout (1 and 2), Diablo II (though the original Diablo was good too), the Final Fantasy series, Grand Theft Auto 3, and GTA: Vice City. Too Human's gameplay of fighting hordes of creatures and collecting loot feels a lot like Diablo II. Talk about an addictive game; it's all I can think about besides my wife, kids, and work. It's been a long while since I've felt so strongly about a game.

It's a shame that Too Human was unfairly pronounced D.O.A. by many review sites. I think that those who were quick to dismiss Too Human missed the true point of the game. If you've got an Xbox 360 and if you liked Diablo II, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Too Human for yourself. It's cheap, it's great fun, and it's an easy way to kill 100 hours of your life if you so choose.

Check out the game's trailer and a solid review of the game below.

TRAILER


REVIEW

Keep reading "Too Human"

Review: Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time

I finished reading Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time Volume 1 over the weekend. I'm not a big tournament player myself but I still enjoyed the book immensely.

I really liked the book's layout. Basically, the three contributing online poker pros - Jon "Pearljammer" Turner, Eric "Rizen" Lynch, and James "Apestyles" Van Fleet - each dissect about 50 hands each. These hands cover many common situations that one would expect to encounter in a tournament. For example, you find yourself in the SB with JJ against an UTG limper and a button raise: what do you do?. Or how about when you find yourself on the button with AK and the pot is raised and re-raised in front of you? There are many more scary situations addressed (and expertly handled) in the book.

I will say that I found Pearljammer's section to be the best. No offense to Rizen or Apestyles, but Pearljammer seemed a little more earnest in his attempts to instruct readers on his actual thought process in his hands. I'm not sure if this was because Pearljammer was more aware of the process he goes through while analyzing a hand or whether Rizen and Apestyles felt the need to hold back for fear of becoming too exploitable in their online games. I'd like to believe that the former reason is most likely given that Pearljammer relied a little less on "instinct" and "reads" and more on math and logic. Each of Pearljammer's hands seemed well played, well thought out, and expertly handled.

I also rather enjoyed Apestyles hand-by-hand account of his bubble play in a big online tournament. It's amazing to see just how well professional players are able to take control of a tournament when everyone else seems intent on just surviving past the bubble. Apestyles uses persistent and smart aggression to fleece most players at his table of their chips. Once the bubble burst, Apestyles finds himself sitting atop a huge number of chips and ready to make a good run to the final table.

The last section of the book has all three pros giving their advice on how to play some tournament hands submitted by Matt Hilger (an established poker pro and author in his own right). The great thing about this section is that all three pros give different answers for many of the hands presented. It goes to show you how poker is a situation-specific game with any number of ways to interpret the bits and pieces of incomplete information that come bubbling up to the surface. The fact that three top players can't agree on a specific course of action in a given situation is one of the things that makes poker great. Any strategy can win a poker tournament as long as proper thought is placed on each decision you make at the tables.

Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time Volume 1 showed me that winning a poker tournament boils down to one simple concept: make the best play at the right time given current table conditions and your table image. With a lot of work and a good deal of luck, anyone can become a winning poker tournament player. Just keep making good decisions and that elusive first place in a Sunday Major is sure to follow...right?

Keep reading "Review: Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time"

More Games, Less Poker, and More Reading!

Once again, video games dominated my weekend's activities. A tough week at work and a weekend spent putting up Christmas decorations and lights left me unwilling to fire up any tables. I don't know about you but the Christmas season just doesn't scream "poker" to me. I'm going to continue working on my game over the coming weeks leading up to Christmas. And I'll probably play some STTs and some MTTs too. Maybe even some heads-up SNGs and cash games too.

To that end, I've bought myself some more books!

I recently visited good old Amazon.com and ordered myself a few books that I think will help me improve my results in SNGs and heads-up play.

Poker books are always hit or miss. But I do trust the opinion of Littleacornman when it comes to SNGs. He mentioned that he'd put in an order for Secrets of Sit 'n' Gos: Winning Strategies for Single-table Poker Tournaments so I followed suit and picked up a copy for myself. I'm currently a losing player when it comes to SNGs. Why am I fascinated with the one form of poker that I can't win? I don't know. Maybe it bugs me to think that there's something I can't do better than the average player. I plan on fixing that - even if it means playing unprofitable poker for a very long time. When I walk into a room of random poker-playing strangers, I like knowing that I can beat at least half of them at any form of poker. As soon as that's no longer the case, I go a little crazy I guess.




The Moshman book, Heads-Up No-Limit Hold 'em, is one that I ordered based on the strength of Moshman's other book, Sit 'n Go Strategy. I find his writing style to be casual and easy to follow despite the fact that he tends to make up silly words (e.g. "aggress" - wtf?!). I'm not sure how profitable HU SNGs are at the higher buy-ins but I'm sure that money can be made crushing the games with buy-ins around the $50 mark or less. But I'm talking out of my ass right now since I've played exactly three HU SNGs in my lifetime. And yes, I have a losing record in those as well.


Finally, I picked up one last heads up/short-handed poker book: Secrets of Short-Handed No Limit Hold'em: Winning strategies for short-handed and heads up play. I feel that playing well heads up is a real key to being a successful poker player. I guess I'll have a chance to test that theory in 2009. And, for what it's worth, the title of this last book is exceptionally long and that can't hurt.




My plans for this week are to:
  • Win a $22 + $2 STT.
  • Play (and win?) an 18 player or 27 player MTT.
  • Read, read, read.
  • Play lots of video games - 'tis the season, right?
I'll be back tomorrow or the day after to discuss some of the PokerGoals that I cleared in November.

Until then, have a good one!

Keep reading "More Games, Less Poker, and More Reading!"