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Hail To The King

So the other night, I was driving home from work and I got really hungry. I stopped at a Burger King and decided to place an order for a Whopper, some onion rings, and an extra-large lemonade. Everything was going smoothly until I drove up to the drive-thru window to pay for my delicious meal. Truth be told, it was really the lemonade that I was looking foward to since I was extremely thirsty after a long day spent eating salted peanuts and guzzling coffee my premium Nabob flavoured coffee.

As I pulled up to the window, everything went to Hell very quickly. I'm still quite upset about the whole Burger King situation but nothing compared to last night. In fact, I was so upset last night that I ended up making the local news. In my defense, the newsroom really edited the segment to make me look like the bad guy. You can check out the clip after the jump.




Seriously - if I can't call 9-1-1 when I have a lemonade emergency or a bad-customer-service emergency, who should I call? All I can say is that 9-1-1 better be ready to send help the next time I lose to runner-runner or when my local corner store runs out of banana-flavoured Popsicles.

Ok, I'm thirsty so I'm gonna hit up my local McDonald's and get a lemonade.

Have a good one!

Keep reading "Hail To The King"

Glum

Well...I'm back to not feeling the love for poker. I blame losing players everywhere (and especially poker bloggers) for making it seem like the game itself is not beatable. I'll admit that poker is a losing cause for most; not for me, however. But it's hard to get motivated when I'm tired and don't have the time to play as much as I'd like or need.

Honestly, how good can I get at poker with only 3-4 hours of actual table time a week? The answer: not very good at all. I guess I just can't help to overthink things. And thinking always forces me away from poker as I come to realize that there is more to life than cards and chips.

Another problem causing a lack of poker is my new PlayStation 3. I love playing video games on my new big screen TV. And I love playing the PS3's version of Burnout Paradise. And LittleBIGPlanet is fun too!

I always do my best to maintain this site despite staying away from tables. But even that is getting harder as advertising money is starting to dry up as interest in reading poker blogs wanes. Given the choice between reading about poker or watching a poker training video or sweat session video, most online poker players are choosing the latter. This leaves us poker bloggers in the lurch. To put things into perspective, my video game site, The Greedy Gamer, has only been around for about two years and already gets five times as many readers as Klopzi's Mediocre Poker.

It seems that video games have universal appeal whereas poker's appeal is growing more and more niche. Poker's a great game but it is just one game. Playing the same game grows tiresome, especially when trying to climb up in stakes without having the skill, time, or devotion necessary to get the job done properly or in timely fashion. Video games, on the other hand, are relatively cheap and easy to pick and play. And the variety of games available nowadays is pretty ridiculous.

So what am I saying with this post? I don't really know. Poker will find its way back into my good graces. It always does.

But in the meantime, this site is in for some rather sporadic posting covering a wide variety of subjects.

Have a good one!

Keep reading "Glum"

A Tangled Web

I don't have time for a full post today so I thought I'd just give a quick lunchtime update vis à vis the new HDTV set-up.

I figured it'd take me an hour or two to get everything hooked up, calibrated, and ready to go. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. It took me four hours to get the new TV, PS3, and Xbox 360 in place and ready to go. I ran into the following problems:

  • My HD cable box needed to be authorized by phone. We didn't have a phone in the bedroom so I had to run to the basement twice (don't ask) to get a working phone (25 minutes).
  • The PS3 bluetooth Blu-Ray remote didn't seem to be working. Little did I know that one needs to register the Bluetooth remote with the PS3 before it can be used (20 minutes).
  • The Xbox 360 VGA cable does not seem to produce good picture quality on my new TV. I fussed with it for a while but will need to reconnect the Xbox 360 using component cables for the video signal (20 minutes and counting).
  • The PS3 firmware needed to be updated before I could pop in a Blu-Ray disc (20 minutes).
  • My cable box kept wanting to send a 1080i signal to my TV and I wanted it to use 720p instead (15 minutes).
  • The TXH optimizer included on the Wall-E Blu-Ray disc was acting funny. I couldn't optimize my TV settings very well. I had to run to the basement and grab Toy Story 2 and use its THX optimizer instead. I'm still not happy with the results. I'm going to reset my TV and PS3 back to their default settings and try again tonight. (40 minutes and counting).
As you can see, setting up a new TV can be a real pain when you worry about the meaningless little details such as signal quality and contrast settings.

Tonight, my plans are to:
  1. Buy an SPDIF audio cable to connect my TV to my mini-receiver (for headphones).
  2. Buy an extension for my headphones - they're too short to reach the TV.
  3. Replace the Xbox 360's VGA cable output with component cable output.
  4. Re-calibrate the TV and PS3.
  5. Watch Wall-E with my wife.
  6. Play Little Big Planet on the PS3 with my wife.
  7. Try out my Xbox 360 on the new TV.
Have a great weekend everyone!

Keep reading "A Tangled Web"

Coming Soon: Life in HD

Another few days without a post! I have a good excuse this time around. I've been way too busy to post because I've been scrambling to put together a new bedroom set.

My wife took care of picking out the new bedroom furniture and other furnishings. She organized all of our bedroom "stuff" and moved everything we no longer needed into the basement. She also painted the baseboards and the doors. And she washed the carpets.

What did I do? I picked out the TV and Blu-Ray player!

After our kids go to bed tonight, I get to work. I've got a few things to do:

  1. Put new 42" LCD TV on our sweet new TV stand.
  2. Connect Playstation 3 (a.k.a. Blu-Ray player) to TV.
  3. Connect Xbox 360 to TV.
  4. Set up the HD digital cable box/PVR.
  5. Optimize PS3 and Xbox 360 for TV (i.e. turn them on and make sure that I can see pretty pictures).
  6. Calibrate TV using a THX Optimizer found on the Wall-E blu-ray. I've heard calibrating my HDTV set will make things look nice. And while I'm sure that the picture out of the box will be good enough for me, I don't mind spending a few minutes playing around with some settings.
After that, it's all smooth sailing...for me. My wife still has a bunch to do in the way of decorating the room with new artwork, bedding, throw pillows, and other girly things. It's only fair considering that all the furniture and the TV are all bursting with guy-approved awesomeness.

I think the first movie we'll watch will be Wall-E. I hear it looks damned good in HD.

And then I'll pop in LittleBigPlanet and give that a try.

And then a little Far Cry 2 to see how nice Africa looks on a 42" screen.

And then The Matrix, Star Wars, and every other movie that I own.

I can't wait to try everything out! I'll be back with a full report tomorrow.

This post was cross-posted at The Greedy Gamer.



Bonus: All the talk of moving and rearranging the "stuff" in our bedroom got me thinking about an old George Carlin routine:


Keep reading "Coming Soon: Life in HD"

Feeling kinda...

Sorry for the lack of updates last week. I've been busy shopping for and buying the bare necessities needed for my bedroom upgrade. It can be tough shopping for new furniture and big screen TVs on a budget. And it's even tougher when your TV - completely paid for - hasn't even been shipped out because it's no longer in stock...and BestBuy won't give you a refund to go and buy another model of TV that is in stock.

That's right. I've paid for my TV and paid for "special delivery" shipping. But my TV is no longer in stock - though it was listed as "in stock" when I made the purchase and when my order was processed. I called BestBuy and asked to cancel the order or switch my TV for another. I was told that I couldn't do either of these things. A TV was being "allocated" to my order and I would have to wait another week to find out if said "allocation" was successful or not. This is, as we Canadians say, bullshit!

My new bedroom furniture is being delivered in a couple days. I have a brand new Playstation 3 (a.k.a the Blu-Ray player) sitting in our house, unopened and unused. We have every last thing ready for the new bedroom save for the damned TV. I would gladly pay an extra $500 if I could have my TV by Wednesday or Thursday. Instead, I'm stuck in limbo until BestBuy gets their act together.

I'm also a little confused when it comes to setting up any sort of audio for the new TV. I was going to settle for using the TV's internal speakers but I'm told they're total crap. I may end up needing another receiver (there's already one in the basement) or some other such nonesense because I think the TV has only one audio out and it's digital. Ridiculous...

To make things worse, today is Family Day. It was created to be a new statutory in Canada due to our nation's lack of statutory holidays when compared to many other countries in the world. Unfortunately, my employers are not required to recognize Family Day as a stat holiday. So I have to work today. Sucks to be me, I guess.

And finally, I played some pot-limit Omaha over the weekend. And I won. But I haven't felt much like playing in the past couple days. Don't know why. And now that I've missed the PokerStars 25 Billion Hand promotion, I'm kinda feeling "meh" about the whole thing. I need to see if I can get myself excited about poker again. Maybe I'll feel like playing once the TV's arrived and our bedroom is finally finished.

Have a good one...

Keep reading "Feeling kinda..."

PokerStars Reload Bonus: 25% up to $250! (Bonus Code: 25bash)

It's reload bonus time at PokerStars! Get a 25% deposit up to $250; deposit $1000 to get the full bonus. You may need to contact PokerStars' support (support@pokerstars.com) to increase your maximum deposit allowance in order to take full advantage of this bonus.  The default daily maximum is $600.

Further details after the jump!

Here's the small print:

  1. This deposit bonus is valid from February 11th at 12:00 PM until February 18th at 11:59 PM ET.
  2. The bonus clears at a rate of 20 FPPs per $1 of bonus (5000 FPPs required to clear the full $250).
  3. The bonus will be released in one lump sum.
  4. You must use bonus code 25bash when making your deposit.
I think I'll try my luck at PokerStars again and try to clear this bonus. I've wanted to give the pot-limit Omaha games at Stars a chance. I now have a reason to hop on over and give the games a try.

Since I've been playing more video games this week than poker, thanks in part to the thought of a new 42" HDTV coming soon, this bonus is coming at just the right time. I've been watching a ton of poker training videos lately and I'm ready to hit the tables again. I'd like to find out just how slowly or quickly I can expect my bonus to clear while playing $50 6-max PLO prior to making my deposit.  I'm pretty sure that I'll be able to clear the full $250 in 6-months time.

If you don't have a PokerStars account, sign up here; if you do, I'll see you at the tables!

Have a good one!

Keep reading "PokerStars Reload Bonus: 25% up to $250! (Bonus Code: 25bash)"

Upgrade!

I had a great weekend! I lost a couple buy-ins playing pot-limit Omaha but that's besides the point. I got to spend some time with my wife and my kids. I got to relax, have some good food, and some good drink. And my wife and I finally got the ball rolling on upgrading our bedroom from "kids playroom" to "HD-enabled awesomeness". If only my kids knew what they'll be missing...

It looks like my wife and I will have quite the little setup going on. On the furniture front, we're looking at a massive headboard, a couple of oversized and stylish night tables, some cool-looking table lamps, and a very nice TV stand.

On the technology side of things, I've picked up a 42" LCD TV (1080p a.k.a. "full HD" a.k.a. unnecessary crock of marketing crap) and a Sony Blu-Ray player. I was thinking about spending the extra $150 on a PlayStation 3
. I changed my mind when I realized that there are still no good games for the PS3, excluding those games that I'm already able to play on my Xbox 360
. Speaking of my Xbox 360
, I'll be hooking that puppy up to the new TV thereby clearing up much of the clutter in our bedroom. I'm looking forward to buying and playing Burnout Paradise
on the new TV.

How much did all this cost? More than I thought but far less than most of you would think. I saved a bunch of money on the television by going with a no-name brand. That's just how I roll, I guess.

Like most large-scale purchases, it'll be at least 3 weeks before we have everything delivered and set up. I'll let all of you know when I start living the high-life.

Until then, I've got a lot of pot-limit Omaha to play. VISA bills don't pay themselves...

Keep reading "Upgrade!"

Strike's Over!

It's almost the weekend. I couldn't be happier. I get some much needed days off to rest up. And I can look forward to taking the bus to work again starting next week. The transit strike in Ottawa lasted close to two months but bus service resumes tomorrow. The bad news? The bus that I take to work won't start running again until the beginning of April. But I'll gladly take two months of crap bus service over driving to work anyday - especially when bus service means that I'll be getting at least an extra hour's sleep a night!

I'm hoping that extra sleep will have an immediate and positive impact on my poker game. I played a little PLO yesterday (my wife was cool with it) and I promptly lost a couple buy-ins. Not a big deal as I'm currently running a little cold at the tables. I did, however, make some awful mistakes:

  1. I folded my turned nut straight and bottom-set when a tight player check-raised my turn bet. I didn't notice that I had the nut straight at the time and figured that my opponent was beating my bottom set with his own straight. Brutal fold on my part. What was I thinking?
  2. I called a fairly large river bet with only an overpair. My opponent had flopped a set and got three streets of value by betting his hand the whole way.
I also lost an AAxx versus AAxx matchup after getting it all in pre-flop. My opponent flopped a backdoor straight draw and hit on the river. In another hand, I got an opponent all-in on the flop with his overpair versus my top two-pair and open-ended straight draw: he caught runner runner to catch his straight on the river. I also flopped top set on a flop while my opponent held the flopped nut straight...that sucked a little.

I'm not too pleased with my performance at the $50 PLO tables just yet. But I think some more time at the tables and a little extra learning time on the bus to and from work should really help.

I may not play any PLO until Sunday. I'm pretty tired this morning and I may just settle in for some video games tonight. Of course, I have a habit of changing my plans every hour or so.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Keep reading "Strike's Over!"

Wedding Anniversaries, Pot-Limit Omaha, and General Tso's Chicken!

Four years ago today, my wife and I were married. It was 5°C and sunny outside. We fed chicken and wine to our friends and families; they gave us small appliances, bedding, knickknacks, and cards filled with money (yay!). I gave my wife a promise of my undying love as she did to me.

Tonight, my wife and I will eat Chinese food. It is -22°C (-32°C with windchill) and sunny outside. We will feed chicken and milk to our two boys; they will give us hugs and knickknacks scavenged from around the house. I am giving my wife a new bedroom set; she's giving me an LCD HDTV. Marriage can be pretty sweet!

If you're reading this Baby, "Happy Anniversary!"; if not, I don't blame you.

As for the rest of you, poker gets discussed after the jump.

I was going to hold off on playing pot-limit Omaha last night because I was tired. I think the video below gives an accurace depiction of my state of mind while playing:



Despite being groggy and a little out of it, I managed a decent win. However, much of my success can be attributed to just one hand:

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 Pot Limit Omaha Hi - 6 players
The Official DeucesCracked.com Hand History Converter

BB: $20.00
UTG: $49.45
Hero (MP): $51.60
CO: $99.50
BTN: $50.00
SB: $27.50

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is MP with QQ of spades 55 of clubs QQ of clubs TT of spades
1 fold, Hero calls $0.50, CO raises to $2.25, BTN calls $2.25, 1 fold, BB calls $1.75, Hero calls $1.75

(CO was pretty aggressive. I limped UTG because...well, I'm a donkey. Actually, I don't see much wrong with limping into pots from early position in PLO. I may be singing a different tune after a couple more months of PLO though.)

Flop: ($9.25) 22 of hearts QQ of hearts 99 of spades (4 players)
BB checks, Hero checks, CO bets $9.25, BTN folds, BB raises to $17.75 all in, Hero raises to $49.35 all in, CO calls $40.10

(I flop the nuts and check to the CO because he's betting this flop every time. From there, it's an easy shove for me.)

Turn: ($125.70) 22 of diamonds (3 players - 2 are all in)

River: ($125.70) KK of clubs (3 players - 2 are all in)

Final Pot: $125.70
BB shows 66 of clubs 55 of hearts 44 of clubs AA of hearts (a pair of Twos)
Hero shows QQ of spades 55 of clubs QQ of clubs TT of spades (a full house, Queens full of Twos)
CO shows 88 of diamonds TT of hearts 77 of hearts TT of clubs (two pair, Tens and Twos)
Hero wins $122.70
(Rake: $3.00)

I'm not sure what CO is thinking calling my push in this spot but I was hoping that he would. And he did. It's always nice when hands play themselves out so nicely.

No poker for me tonight. It's all about quality time with my wife. But I should be back tomorrow with my usual pre-weekend rambling.

Have a good one!

Keep reading "Wedding Anniversaries, Pot-Limit Omaha, and General Tso's Chicken!"

Gamblin' Music

I didn't get play any poker last night. Instead, I spent some time just relaxing with my wife and ripping some music CDs. I've been trying to come up with a good mix of music that I can listen to while playing poker. My focus is on relaxing and soothing music with a primary focus on female artists such as Sarah McLachlan, Enya, and Alanis Morissette with a little Erasure synthpop thrown in for good measure. I'll admit that my music selection is somewhat...y'know...? But who cares, right?! If it's good enough for the Steelworkers of America, it's good enough for me.

I'm going to be playing some PLO tonight. And my wife and I celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary tomorrow so there will be no poker played whatsoever. I'm pretty sure that playing poker on your wedding anniversary is a leading cause of divorce. Of course, I think that depends partly of how much money you win or lose during just such an indiscretion.

I'll try and play some poker over the weekend as well. I'm about 6,500 hands short of my monthly goal of playing 7,000 hands of poker. I guess I'm off to a slow start this month. But I know something that will get me in the mood to play poker! How about a little Chains of Love?




Have a good one!

Keep reading "Gamblin' Music"

Omaha: Big Straight Draws vs. Possible Flush Draws (Guest Post)

The following is a guest post written by Oliver MacLennan at Poker Junkie.

Omaha is, as most of you probably already know, a game of draws. Since there are so many cards in play, the best hand on the flop is often not the best hand on the river. With five cards out, it is very unlikely that a straight or a flush will not be possible.

Unlike in holdem, if a straight or flush is possible, someone in an Omaha game probably has it. This is why it is important to know how to play big straight draws and big flush draws.

Redraws in Omaha

The key to Omaha is not only having big draws, but big redraws. You have a draw to make your hand and if you have a made hand, you have a draw to make a bigger hand.

For example, on a board of Jh 9c 8c, holding Qs Ts 7h 7c is good, but holding Qs Ts Ac 7c is much better. Here you not only have the nuts, but you have the redraw to the flush covered. If you don’t have a redraw, you need to proceed very carefully.

Big Straight Draws in Omaha

Since redraws are so important, a draw without a redraw loses value, especially when some of your outs may be covered, as in a straight draw vs. flush draw situation. If you hold Js Td 9c 8h and the flop is Qs 9s 5h, you have a very good straight draw, but also have to dodge the flush cards. It doesn’t matter if your opponent holds the nut flush draw; any spade will kill your hand. If you check this situation in a poker odds calculator, you’ll see that you are about even money against most flush draws that lack straight draws. But if your opponent has both a flush and a straight draw you’re in trouble.

Nut Flush Draws in Omaha

Nut flush draws are a different story. If you make the nut flush, you can only lose if the board pairs.

How you will play your draw may depend on the texture of the board. If the game is aggressive you might need extra outs in order to go after your draw and with several opponents in the pot the value of your draw will also go up. But be careful with flush draws were you’re not drawing to the nuts – they can be very costly in Omaha.

Keep reading "Omaha: Big Straight Draws vs. Possible Flush Draws (Guest Post)"

Things Change

I have more to say on the "playing poker professionally" subject matter that I introduced in yesterday's post. But I'd like to discuss the poker that I played last night. A friend of mine recently signed up at Full Tilt via RakeTheRake. Though he's enjoying Full Tilt's amazing first-time deposit bonus and RakeTheRake's excellent rakeback deals, he's had a string of bad luck at the tables. It seems that the $100 NLHE tables are giving my friend a little pause for concern. I thought I'd return to my old stomping grounds last night to see if I could fare any better.

After putting in about 500 hands on the Tilt last night (and losing a buy-in), I did notice a slight change in the games. I don't think the games are necessarily harder to beat but many of my opponents seemed to be playing a higher-variance game. I attribute this emerging style of play to online poker training videos. Many of the players seem to be making the types of moves that you might see in a video; however, they are misapplying video concepts.

For example, I noticed that I was getting called by players in position quite often whenever I raised from UTG or UTG+1. I'd raise from UTG with a hand like KQs and get called by the button holding a hand like A4o. And then we'd see the flop. I couldn't get over how many times I got floated or raised on the flop when betting out of position. And the check-raises were coming fast and furious. Even the "TAG" players were playing a funny game with very loose calls with ace-high and calling off stacks with any pair, any draw.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that $100 NLHE has turned into a more aggressive version of the $25 NLHE games. For anyone thinking that games are getting harder, I'd have to disagree - at least when it comes to low stakes NLHE. I will concede that the games now have much higher variance with more and more players willing to make loose pre-flop calls and peel on any number of flops. But it only takes one or two big pots to pick up a solid winning session.

I'm going to spend the rest of this month focusing on $100 NLHE and $50 PLO. Although I'd like to play $200 NLHE, the bus strike is keeping me too tired and too busy to read as much as I'd like. My game's a little rusty right now and I'd like to sharpen my teeth on the lower-stakes games for now.

I'm hoping to put in about 7,000 hands of poker (4,000 PLO and 3,000 NLHE) this month. I only played about 2,500 hands last month which throws me off pace to hit 70,000 hands this year. I'll also need to find the time to watch the countless DeucesCracked and PokerSavvy videos that I have stored on my hard drive. If I can get through all the books that I've ordered recently and sit through all of these videos, I should be playing the $100 PLO, $400 NLHE, and $100 HUNL games by the end of the year.

Of course, I may also go no hiatus and give up poker for the tenth time in the past four years...

Have a good one!

Keep reading "Things Change"

Happyness and Fear

I failed to play any poker over the weekend. I was too tired and I was happy to just settle in and relax the weekend away. I spent some quality time with my kids and my wife. I also played a little Far Cry 2 (great game). A pretty standard weekend for me save for a movie that my wife and I watched - The Pursuit of Happyness.

The Pursuit of Happyness is about a guy named Chris Gardner. He's a really smart guy who took some wrong turns in his life and ended up with a dead-end sales job, a wife who no longers loves him, and a son who absolutely adores him. Things go from bad to worse as Chris finds himself alone with his son, completely broke, and homeless. All of Chris' hopes and dreams rest on one thing: completing a stock broker internship and getting hired as a full-time stock broker. There are lots of emotional ups and downs in the movie and, spoiler alert, everything ends well for Chris and his son.

Most people watching this movie will see it as inspirational. A regular (though brilliant) guy loses everything except the love of his son and ends up getting his dream job to lift his family from the gutters to the penthouse suites and the good life.

That's not the movie I saw.

The movie I watched was a clear warning that, should I fail at my job, should the economy get worse, or should I simply get unlucky, the life that me and my family have come to know may well crumble away before our very eyes. My wife and kids will look to me to save them. What would I tell them at that time? Would I be able to save them as Chris Gardner saved his son? Or would we all end up living in the basement at a relatives house as I struggle to make ends meet? Would my wife and kids still love me or would I be seen as a failure in their eyes?

The movie ended, the credits rolled, and my mind started crunching numbers. There are a few potential sources of income to fall back on should I lose my job: contract work, web site administration/development, and poker. Contract work is my best shot at maintaining the status quo. My only concern is that I'd be looking to secure a contract from the very same sources that would have kicked me to the curb. Web site adminstration and development are both things that I'm able to do though the money would not be good enough to keep our house or any semblance of our current lifestyle.

Worst case scenario: how much could I expect to earn playing poker professionally? If I lost my job tomorrow, would we be lost or could I somehow save us by slinging virtual chips on the Internet? Would I even be able to keep us afloat long enough for me to find work?

I'll be back later this week with an answer.

Keep reading "Happyness and Fear"