Thursday, September 05, 2013

Breaking Bad: "Rabid Dog"

Now we're starting to get down to brass tacks, but I still don't see Walt killing Jesse. With all the old yeller, and what's one more talk, and Jesse flipping to Hank, it's way too obvious for Walt to kill Jesse, and it probably would be quite unsatisfying since Jesse is such a beloved character.

I do think that Walt will try to kill Jesse (why else would he contact Todd and his uncle?) but I just don't think it's going to happen.

I saw something interesting on "Talking Bad" Skyler is wearing more light bland colors this year to show she is on the same team was Walt, who dresses that way. I can also presume that is why Hank is wearing purple.

It also said that Lydia would be in next week's episode, and I still can't figure how her and Todd are going to play into things.

And I don't know when the diner and the "52" bacon and the New Hampshire ID and the neighbor who drops the groceries are going to happen either.

And of course, how and on whom does Walt use the ricin he got from behind the outlet cover.

Everything in this episode centered around Walt and Jesse and the will he won't aspect of it. But I think the main thrust of this episode was to introduce other possible killers, Saul, Skyler, Marie, and maybe Jesse. Maybe that was the goal, to open up new possibilities to keep us guessing for four more episodes.

NFL Season Predictions

AFC East: New England Patriots
AFC North: Cincinnati Bengals
AFC South: Houston Texans
AFC West: Denver Broncos
AFC Wild Cards: Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens
AFC Championship: Denver Broncos over Houston Texansv
NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles
NFC North: Green Bay Packers
NFC South: New Orleans Saints
NFC West: San Francisco 49ers
NFC Wild Cards: Atlanta Falcons, St. Louis Rams
NFC Championship: San Francisco 49ers over Philadelphia Eagles

Super Bowl; San Francisco 49ers over Denver Broncos

Offensive Player of the Year: Colin Kaepernick
Defensive Player of the Year: JJ Watt
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Tavon Austin
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Barkevious Mingo
Coach of the Year: Chip Kelly
Comeback Player of the Year: Darrelle Revis

Can't Win Em All

I think that should be my motto for 2013: you can't win em all, but if you're lucky, you get to go to a lot of them.
My latest game experience was Syracuse vs. Penn State at the Meadowlands.
Originally I wasn't going to go to this game because neither Billie nor Michael was available and I didn't want to sit with obnoxious Penn State fans like Nails and Jleary. And the cheapest tickets were $75, and they weren't even good seats.
But in the few days before the game a friend of mine who is a Jets season ticket holder got a special offer, seats that were previously $95 and $75 were cut to $20 and $10 (including the fees).
So I got myself a ticket in section 225, second deck, end zone (not corner), 8 rows back. It was actually a pretty good seat.

Nails, who has been planning this tailgate since the day the game was announced, and preparing for such an event his entire life, really went all out. He arrived 5 hours before game time, only because the gates didn't open any earlier. He had two grills, four coolers (3 for drinks, 1 for food), a table full of snacks, a smaller table for drink and a tent to keep out the sun.
He did three separate shopping trips, including one to a German sausage store, and he came back with 6 different kinds of sausage.

A Penn State fan with this much phallic sausage would have been a great target for jokes had I not agreed to a ban on Sandusky jokes as a condition of my invitation.
I ate two different kinds of sausage (and got yelled at by the Concierge by not referring to them by their proper German names), a hamburger, two chicken legs and so much steak (and that was just the first hour) that combined with the heat, I was sweating so much that I actually felt a little light-headed for a few minutes.
Nails brought so much stuff to the tailgate that even after we ate and drank for hours, the car was still packed to the gills after we cleaned up and put everything away for the game.

And that's when the trouble started, the game. I was in a section of mostly Penn State people, though most of them weren't that bad. Unfortunately the one drunk lout in the section was seated right next to me, and his two sons, between ages 7 and 10. Evidently the younger one is better at sports than the older one, because the drunk father spent the entire first half hugging the older one and telling him he can help him be better at sports.
And then he spent the entire second half trying to start a responsive "We Are" "Penn State" chant, to no avail.

And if that wasn't bad enough, Syracuse quarterback Drew Allen is clearly not ready for prime time. And I feel like the coaching staff made the mistake teams make with young, inexperienced QBs often make. They try to make things easy for them and simple, and low-risk, so they run on first and second downs, call basic pass plays to take the pressure off. But then the defense knows what's coming. Penn State did a great job of stopping our running game, which should be really good with Jerome Smith and Prince Tyson Gulley. And when Syracuse did pass, Allen looked at one receiver, and threw to him, whether he was open or not.

Syracuse's defense played great, forcing 4 turnovers, returning the last one to the 1-yard line setting up a score to cut the lead to 23-17 and giving them at least a puncher's chance on too late drives. But the play-calling was awful and Allen wasn't able to make a play.

It's unfortunate that Ross Krautman missed an early field goal, the game could have been entirely different had he made it. And it was even more unfortunate that Penn State's kicker who was almost run off campus last season made all three of his kicks, for which I had a great view.

Bottom line is this: Syracuse is rebuilding, without its head coach and much of its staff from last year, and without the starting QB or a viable replacement. It's bad timing that a new phase of rebuilding before the old rebuilding was completed, but now in a better stronger conference hopefully the blip will be temporary.

And even though we lost to some of the worst most annoying fans in college football, it was a fun day nonetheless.

He Says It Better

There were three general reactions to my post about my poker winnings: some of you (Mrs. Poop) didn't read it because it was too long, some of you (Jems) enjoyed it because it was long and some of you (TallSkott) didn't read it, because it was too long but said you did.
For everyone other than Jems, this is for you. What I conveyed in 1,700 words more eloquently put in 7 words, by Chau Giang:

"Poker is nice. I love play poker."

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Song of the Week

"Best of Me" - Tyrese
What a joy it is to be loved by you
My most precious gift, my guardian angel
I believe god sent you here to slow me down
And so whatever it takes, Imma keep you around baby.
I feel like I could conquer the world (with you by my side)
Cause of your unconditional love (baby that's why)
You bring out the best in me, cause you are the best baby.
And if I had to do it again (I'll still choose you girl)
You bring out the best in me, cause you are the best baby.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A Sense of Accomplishment

Ten years ago Chris Moneymaker won the Main Event of the World Series of Poker and started a poker boom. I got swept up in it. I watched every poker show I could find. I read every update of every World Series of Poker event. I follow every well known player on twitter. I had two stints of real money fun while online poker was still legal, the second much more spectacular, and eventually painful than the first. And I had a few mostly losing sessions on the felt in Atlantic City and Las Vegas.
But I always knew I could play this game. I had the math skills, the smarts, the competitiveness and the understanding of game theory. What I didn't have was the emotional makeup to keep my composure at the table (especially online when bad beats are doled out like anonymous insults and no one -- except Mrs. Poop -- is around to hear you scream at the computer) when things went wrong, as they so often do.
Poker is a game of adversity, and the best way to find success is to choose the right playing style and never deviate from it (too much) when you are winning -- or losing, especially losing.
They say you need 10,000 hours doing something before you even have hope of mastering it, and I may have passed that threshold sometime this year.
I went to Foxwoods earlier this year with Mrs. Poop and booked small wins in two cash game sessions. I went to Sands in Bethlehem, PA and booked a triple-digit win a few weeks after that.
And since Mrs. Poop went to Connecticut with the kids and dog for a birthday party and I stayed home to go to Syracuse-Penn State on Saturday, I used my Sunday to head back to the Sands for a few hours of poker.
I won't go through all the hands (though I can, so if you want to hear more of that just e-mail me, I have details of many of them in texts to TallSkott) but I did not get off to a good start. I got sucked out on twice (KQ lost to K8 when an 8 hit the river and A7<10-4 when a ten hit the river to make him a better two pair) and then I got bluffed out of a huge pot (K9 on 3-3-9-K-2 board, he called 15 on the flop, 20 on the turn and I checked to him on the river and he bet 75), all in the first half hour.
I was down to about 65 from my starting stack of 200 and questioning whether I wanted to throw another 100 on top or leave after only an hour.
I don't remember how it happened, except I got aces and kept betting and they kept calling, and I hit a couple other nice hands, but I knew I was playing great. I didn't get exceptionally lucky at any point deep in a hand where I was behind, but I kept folding losers and getting paid on winners.
But before I go any further I want to fill you in on an amazing hand that almost happened. Most poker rooms have something called a bad beat jackpot. It varies but the general concept is, if you have quads and lose, that's good for the jackpot. The money is split 50% to the losing player (the recipient of the bad beat), 25% to the winner, and 25% to split among the other players at the table. I've seen bad beat jackpots of more than $200,000, in this case it was $84,000, and we almost got it. The board was showing Ace-Jack-ten of diamonds, plus some blank, and the river card was another jack. The river action was fast and furious and we were sure someone had pocket jacks and someone else had a flush. For the guy with the flush to be that aggressive on a paired board meant that he at least had the nut flush (king of diamonds and any other diamond), or so we thought but when he turned over 9-8 of diamonds everyone including the dealer gasped. 4 cards to a straight flush, and they other guy had quad jacks.
We didn't get the bad beat jackpot and I didn't even experience another bad beat the rest of the day. Or any beat really. I just kept dumping losing hands and whenever I got something I bet it. As my chip stack started to grow, players starting folding more to my aggression. And as they folded more, I got more aggressive. Eventually with two players leaving (one really good, one really lucky) I became the big stack (double anyone else) and began to assert myself even more.
I was sitting in the 10 seat to the right of the dealer, and right behind the little display that shows all the players' names once their cards have been swiped. I actually liked that spot because of that and because it gave me a little more room without a player on my left.
The only problem was it left my card protector, one of Chase's Lego minfigs (in this case the paintball player who Chase once described as "shooting paint out of his balls"), in the line of fire, dealers pitching the cards were constantly grazing my little talisman, one guy saying "good thing he's wearing a helmet" and a cute Asian female saying "I'm wacking the shit out of that little guy."
My lucky #10 seat also gave me a good vantage point for a near fight. Seats 3 and 4 (Jeffrey and Frank I think) got into it after seat 3 raised to $7 (a raise of $5 since the big blind was $2) and seat 4 tried to call, but grabbed two reds and one white ($11) instead of one red and two whites ($7). We all knew he had made a mistake but the rule says he can't take back his bet because he bet more than half of a min-raise which would have been $5. So he was forced to raise (they made him raise to $14 which was a mistake but got lost in all the excitement) and he was pissed. He yelled at the dealer, saying it was just a mistake and he's dealt to him before and should have known it was a mistake. The dealer told him he knew it was a mistake but it is his job to enforce the rules of the card room which are designed to prevent dealers from having to make such judgment calls. The hand played out uneventfully but while the next hand was being dealt seat 4 continued to bellyache about it. He just wanted to have his say, but seat 3 had heard enough in his ear and told him he'd heard enough and that he was wrong and should stop bitching about it.
Eventually this led a shouting match ("shut up" "what are you going do about it" "shut the fuck up" "you're not gonna do anything you fuckin pussy"), with their faces getting closer and closer. I tried to yell at them, I think I said "hey knock it off guys" (maybe I should have given them the pseudonyms Chase and Julian) but that didn't work and the dealer had to call over the floor. If you've watched enough World Series of Poker you've seen the floor intervene in disputes from time to time and like me you may have noticed that they never try to soothe the situation, they usually just yell louder, threaten and hope to scare the players into behaving. That's exactly what happened here. The floor came over and got right in between the two players who at this time were manager-umpire-bad-call close to each other. He couldn't settle them down so he went to the dealer for an explanation. The dealer didn't include the detail that seat 3 really had done nothing wrong except lacking patience for the ranting lunatic on his left. So the floor went back around the table and screamed at both guys to "squash it" or be ejected from the poker room. At no time did he treat the combatants like valued customers at his establishment. But his aggressive approach worked, as both players calmed immediately and there were no further outbursts. Seat 4 seemed to realize he had overreacted and issued a half-hearted apology which was more like him once again defending his actions.
He didn't say anything else until about half an hour later when I won a big hand with a flopped set of 4s on a scary board (diamond draw) against two players with 2 pair.
He said "this guy doesn't say anything, he just flops sets, and boats (I'd held pocket 5s on an 8-8-5 flop for a sizable pot before the fight) and doesn't say anything, he just sits there and collects."
I just smiled at him and stacked my chips which at this point had ballooned to 6 perfect stacks of 20 red $5 chips.

After about 8 1/2 hours at the table, I decided to leave, one hand too late as I bluffed off about $45 on my last hand with A-5 suited.
Still I booked a profit of $375 and needed two racks to carry all my chips to the cage. And considering all the tips $1 for a winning hand, $2 for a big pot, $3 for the one monster I raked, plus $4 for drinks and $8 for a bowl of soup, including tip (it was freezing in there, never again shorts and t-shirt, never again) I probably won closer to $425.
And the money is nice of course, but the real reward is the pride and the good feelings I got from playing so well, conquering my personal demons of impatience and frustration and battling back from a short stack to become the monster chip leader and table captain. And the realization that something I have devoted many hours to with little or no financial or emotional reward, may finally be starting to pay off.
I may have turned the corner and gone from recreational player with a 50/50 shot of winning depending on the cards, to becoming an excellent player who is no longer gambling, just pushing an edge, because I may actually be pretty good at this.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

How Happy Should I Be?

The Washington Redskins just completed a perfect 4-0 preseason. And our starting QB Robert Griffin III didn't take a single snap.
I really want to believe that this shows something special about the defense, or the offensive line and that once RG3 comes back (if he's at full health, a big if) the Redskins would have to be even better.
But then I looked at this list of NFL teams that went undefeated in the preseason.
Last year the Seahawks went 4-0 and it portended a strong season. But the Eagles also went 4-0, and then went 4-12 during the regular season.
Remember the year the Lions went 0-16? They were 4-0 in the preseason that year.
From 2000 - 2012 inclusive, 25 teams went undefeated in exhibition games. 13 of those teams made the playoffs (52%), 2 of those teams won the Super Bowl (8%), both of which are better than the random expectations (37.5%, 3.3%) but hardly a guarantee.
Now I know that this last game against the ExpensiveCornPrices was played entirely by Pat White, a QB who won't even make the team (though he could be first string on the Jets), but the defense only gave up 6 points in 4 quarters, and played similarly well in the other three games.
If the defense is improved and RG3 is healthy, and the team made the playoffs last year, why is another 10-6 season out of the question?
Or am I getting ahead of myself?