Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Paying $60 a cache

Thanks to DarthSlumlord for pointing me to Skysite.com. From their FAQ:
Space Data launches SkySite's(a communication relay device) via helium balloons. They fly up to 100,000 feet and "loiter" for 12 to 24 hours, providing a coverage area of about 400 mile in diameter. Their system cam be used for tracking vehicles, relaying data from remote oil or gas wells, provide text messaging or business communications in remote areas where no "land line" or cell phone service exists.
...
Because of the wide ranging areas where the SkySites can land, its impractical for Space Data to recruit and hire employees all around the United States to recover SkySites. That's where SSRS(www.skysite.com) comes in. SSRS was convinced that geocachers would be the perfect group to take on the challenge of finding and recovering SkySites. After all, they have the required equipment, they have honed the necessary skills required to search better than bloodhounds for caches that are hidden on purpose.
...
All SOGS [SkySites on Ground] pay $60, unless other wise noted, for Recovery and Return to a SDC launch site.

When a SOG is found by a "Third Party" (someone not connect with the program) find a SOG, they call into the 800 number on the SOG to Space Data. Space Data then sends me that TP contact info and I post that info on the website on the Third Party page. All TP SOGS pay $60 unless otherwise noted.

According to the map, they're mostly in the San Antonio area, but some are located as far north at the north Texas border. Not much use for us here in the great North-wet, but next time I'm down that way, I might give it a try.

The adrenaline of heads up

At a $2+$0.20 SNG, I'm in the money (either $3.60 or $8.40), heads up against SID4515, who has a much larger stack than me (about 5000 to my 1000). After several, several plays, and a few lucky all-in's, the blinds are at 150/300, and I've gotten up to 2,420. I've been using my heads-up strategy of tossing or calling the weak hands, and raising with Kx, Ax, or two paint cards, and bluffing when I get two black cards. It's worked well.

But now, first to act pre-flop, I've got a beauty -- pair of nines (black, so there's no way I'm holding back here). I go all in. SID4515 calls - and shows his pair of threes (club and heart). I can taste the money now. Kim's in the room, and I'm hooting -- "pair of nines" -- here's the flop -- "and a nine on the board". It's 4d9d2h.

Even a three can't save him now. My first $2.20 first place seat is mine. The turn's As. "Whoo hoo!" I yell to Kim. "You're playing for real money right now?" she asks. "Yup." I answer smugly.

The river's a 5c.

Dealer: LauricT shows three of a kind
Dealer: SID4515 shows straight
Dealer: Winner is SID4515 with straight
Dealer: LauricT has finished tournament in 2 place.
Dealer: Sid4515 has finished tournament in 1 place.

I congratulate him on a well played game, and sulk.

I enjoy the rush of these heads-up tournament showdowns, but perhaps it's telling that at the $2+$0.20 level, I'm 0-for-4 in them.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Thou Shalt Play Texas Hold 'Em

The Calgary Sun - Poker has holy spirit:
Pastor John Van Sloten intends to preach to his congregation about the positives of poker during his sermon tomorrow [Jan 30] at the New Hope Christian Reformed Church.

"Right now, everybody's interested in poker -- in Texas Hold 'Em, in particular," Van Sloten said yesterday.
...
So, said Van Sloten, officials of the church that meets Sundays at the West Hillhurst Community Centre on 19 St. and 6 Ave. N.W., believe there is good in the card game for God's faithful.

And he'll make that the theme of his sermon for 300-some gatherers -- plus hundreds more via its Internet feed -- during tomorrow's service beginning at 10:10 a.m.

"In my view, poker has a lot to teach us about ourselves and even about God," said Van Sloten, who has, in the past, preached the positives about the TV program The Simpsons and the heavy metal band Metallica.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Late play, late luck

It's very late in a 6 player $1+$0.10 SNG, and there's still four players left. Blinds are at 200/400, and I'm in the big blind. The guy to my right +left+ is going all-in for 755, and the button and small blind fold. I'm holding a crappy 23o, but for 355 more, I might luck out and knock this guy out. I'm the big stack with about 2800 in chips, and I call his all-in. He shows QTo. The board comes 925-2-3, giving me a full house. Great oogly moogly.

So now I'm facing this situation, two hands later: three players left, I'm on the button, and the big blind has a stack similar to me. The big blind only has about 340, so he's going to be blinded out. I get KJo, and try to scare off the small blind with an 800 raise. He calls instead.

The flop is QA2, giving me four to the straight, but those are scary cards. The small blind bets 400, and I'm left with a quandry. The big blind was the smallest stack coming into the hand, so if we both lose, I'm in the money in second place. Since the small blind is representing a strong hand, I'm thinking he's going to beat both of us, so I raise another 400 to scare him out, in case he's got a weak hand. He calls, as expected.

The turn's a 9. I all-in my final 960 and get called. The river's another Q.

I've got nothing but a king; the other two players turn over A7 (small blind) and A3 (forced big blind), giving them each two pair (AAQQ9), and me nothing (AKQQJ). I'm out in third, out of the money. Who'da thought?

(Yes, the right move was to fold when I saw the ace, and let the other guy try to knock the tiny stack out.)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

That was a crazy game of poker

The Lord Admiral Card Club podcast has OAR's Crazy Game of Poker (last disc, track 2) as its theme song; the Ante Up! podcast uses it as their internal bumper music. I downloaded the whole song yesterday -- it's an odd yet enjoyable reggae country tune.

It also describes a hand last night where I lost a good chunk of money. More on that later.

My favorite hand last night was when I got into a pot heads up against Darthslumlord. I'm holding 89c in the big blind, and there's two clubs on the flop. As would be expected, we both check (or was it a 75 cent bet and call?) to get the turn, which is another club. I've hit my flush. I bet small, to keep Bill in. He comes over the top for $2, I think. I assess the situation, and conclude that because he's played the same way I did, he hit his flush, too. And I'm certain that his flush is higher than mine. I fold, he shows his A5c, nut flush. Great lay-down on my part. That's $1.25 I saved on the turn, and who knows how much on the river.

But the big money-losing hand was late in the night, against Trestin (Tres, correct me if I'm wrong about any part of this hand -- it was late and I don't remember the betting amounts clearly). I got dealt pocket 9h 9d in early position. I bet my standard "I've got a hand" bet of 75 cents. Everyone but Tres bailed; he called. The flop is Qc 2c 8c. Hmm... I check. Tres checks.

The river's a 9s. I've hit my set. There's a flush possibility out there, though, and if we get a club on the river, I'll be scared. I need to bet to scare him out, to make the pot odds not worth drawing to the flush. I bet $3. He calls. He's either got two pair (Q8?) or top pair with top kicker (QA).

The river's As. Nice -- if he had QA, he's got top two pair, so I'm expecting a good call from him, or better. I bet $3, and he comes back with a raise to $8. I call.

He shows the Ac 5c he slow played -- he hit the nut flush on the flop. Brutal yet beautiful play. Kudo's to Tres.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Roulette is hazardous to your bankroll. Duh. BRT.

Noble Poker recently added double-zero roulette to their system (house edge: a brutal 5.4%), and I'd avoided it up until yesterday. Back in 2004, when I was on a major hot streak, about half my $1800 in winnings came from poker; the other half was single-zero roulette (2.7% house edge) and Pontoon blackjack (0.17% house edge). The hot streak ended when I went on tilt at the roulette wheel, and lost more than I care to admit (I was up well over $2000 before I dropped back to $1800 and cashed out).

Within the week, the site I was playing on (Phoenician) closed up its card room and went exclusively to table games. Coincidence? I chose to avoid the online poker scene for several months afterwards, starting back up last fall with a freeroll win of a no-strings attached $2 at Noble Poker.

As of Wednesday night, I'd built my online bankroll up to $15, finally having enough to play in the $1 SNG without worrying about a losing streak. Then, for some dumb reason, after winning $4.80 as the first place prize, I went to the roulette wheel and lost $1, a dime at a time, hitting lucky 9 and coming out $2.60 ahead.

Yesterday was similar; a few tourneys, up $2.30, and a horrid session at the wheel dropping me below where I started. This, combined with three later bad tourney beats (including the brutal 56o in the BB, losing to 76s UTG, with a board of 765-6-Q, going all-in on the turn), dropped me back below $10.

No more roulette for me, for at least six months. You may taunt and smite me if I do.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Syberia

I bought Syberia last week (WalMart, $9.88), and finished it yesterday. The premise of the game: You are New York attorney Kate Walker, and you've been sent to a small town in the French alps to tie up the sale of an old toy factory. Once you arrive, you discover that the owner has passed away, and your adventure of finding the heir begins.

My review (also posted at Amazon) follows:

I hate "find the pixel" type adventure games, where if you don't see the key hidden in the background, you're stuck forever. I encountered this thrice in the game (once in the notary's office, once on the factory platform, and once at the cosmodrome), but online walkthrus helped me out.

This is an absolutely gorgeous flick. I went into this game expecting it to be more of an interactive movie than an adventure game, and I wasn't disappointed. Sure, the premise is a bit thin (but think of all the billable hours her firm's getting!), but once you decide to suspend disbelief and just immerse yourself in the world, it's very entertaining, for about ten hours.

But, Kate Walker, you'll discover, Kate Walker, that your robot engineer becomes really irritating, Kate Walker, really quickly, Kate Walker.

It's definitely a good pickup for $10 or less. I encountered no technical issues on my two-year-old laptop, except that the intense graphics drained the battery in about 45 minutes.

Tourney loss, loss, win, win

I played the $1 + .10, six player sit-n-go tourneys at Noble for the first time, starting yesterday. First place gets $4.20, second gets $1.80.

My first tourney, I placed third, going in with the small stack with K9o. Down $1.10.

My second tourney, I placed third, getting drawn out by an inside straight. Down $2.20 total.

My third tourney, I placed second, surviving with a small stack, 900 to 5100, for quite a while, before losing to a pair of 8's with my AJo. Down $1.50 total.

My fourth tourney, I placed first. My win on the first hand with AKo, knocking out two others and giving me 3000 in chips helped a lot; winning a race with my AKo against pocket queens locked it up. A monster bluff with a board of J-5-3-5-5 helped a lot, too (he folded, I showed, he was demoralized). Up $1.60 total.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Children's Casino Opens in Prague

Children's Casino Opens in Prague.

Hmmm... is Chuck E. Cheese a "casino"? The ball roll and mole whacking games are games of skill (cf. poker, of course) and not games of chance (blackjack, roulette, craps). The article is light on details, but it sounds to me like it's more the former than the latter (in spite of CardSquad's take on the story).

To further blur the line, however, the coolest Chuck E. Cheese "skill games" area I've ever seen was at Circus Circus in Vegas, just a chip's throw away from the blackjack tables.

Would you let a 14-year-old spend their allowance at Chuck E. Cheese?
Would you let a 14-year-old spend their allowance at poker?
Would you let a 14-year-old spend their allowance at blackjack?
Would you let a 14-year-old spend their allowance at roulette?

Where would you draw the line, and why? What if the kid's 10, or 6?

The first children's casino & amusement park in Prague has recently opened. The atmosphere in the casino resembles a real-life Vegas-style casino, with many electronic gambling machines. The main “audience" is made up of preschool children, who buy the casino's golden coin “counters.” The minimum purchase is 40 counters, with each one costing five crowns (approximately 20 cents).

In addition, the facility holds the Czech Republic's largest climbing frame and a wall for simulated mountain climbing. However, those two draw less of an audience – and even fewer profits – than the children's casino. When the children succeed in winning at the casino's games, they receive more chips, which they may use to play again or buy toys. Currently, the big jackpot is a kiddie version of a Harley Davidson motorbike, which costs 32,000 chips.

The casino, highly inspired by similar US venues, draws many controversial opinions from parents and psychologists. Some parents bring their children, along with big groups of their friends, to celebrate birthday parties. Some even return to the casino on a regular basis, bringing their children with them. However, many fear that the casino could cause their precious children to develop horrible gambling problems, which could ruin their future. They base this fear on the fact that many children “fall in love” with the gaming machines after just one visit and ask to return for another visit very soon.

One mother reported to a local paper that, although the casino could be a splendid thing, she fears the outcome might be bad. She continues allowing her child's visits to the casino because she doesn't want to spoil his fun. The head doctor of the ward for addiction treatment at the Prague-Bohnice psychiatric hospital, psychiatrist Karel Nespor, publicized his opposition to the children's casino, citing that, although the casino might seem harmless, it still amounts to gambling, which is illegal for people under the age of 18.

Others take the safe stand of the middle-ground. Psychologist Vaclav Mertin reported that he would neither fear nor support the casino. He claims that one must remember that children's future development depends on their family and parental upbringing as well, hinting that the casino alone cannot be held as the reason for gambling problems. Another psychologist advises parents to monitor their children, and not be worried unless kids begin spending their entire free time playing at the casino.

Learning new words: Rake

I'm a geek when it comes to words and word origins (Thornkin wasted a lot of my time when he sent me a link to the derivation of the word Nacho). So, when I learned a new word yesterday, I figured I had to share.

Rake, in its most common usage "is an agricultural and horticultural implement consisting of a toothed bar fixed transversely to a handle, and used for the collection of leaves, cut hay and grass, etc., and, in gardening, for loosening the soil, light weeding and levelling, and generally for purposes performed in agriculture by the harrow."

Rake, as those of you who play poker know, is defined as "the money that the casino charges for each hand of poker. It is usually a percentage (5-10%) or flat fee that is taken from the pot after each round of betting."

But talking to TMIB yesterday, he gave me another definition:

rake angle Rake is also defined as the angle of the steering head with respect to a line drawn perpendicular to the ground (left). A smaller angle, or less rake, is sometimes referred to as being steeper, and production sportbikes are currently in the neighborhood of 23 degrees of rake.

And now you know.

Edit: bad link

Friday, January 13, 2006

Wal-Mart bingo

I've not built my own bingo cards yet, but www.rimboy.com makes a brief mention of them in his December 2002 post about his adventures in the Nashville Wal-Mart. I need to get that done before OS F.

What brings this up is that I was in for a little bit of culture shock when I stopped at the Huntington Beach Wal-Mart at lunch today. Old guy greeter. Morbidly obese woman on a scooter. That's it. Two points. No screaming kids getting beat. No visible tattoos on the cashier. No Nascar jackets.

From this anecdotal observation, I'm guessing the cost of living in Huntington Beach, Orange County, CA is significantly higher than in Aberdeen and Auburn (making the politically incorrect assumption that a higher cost of living cuts down on the number of trailer parks in a given geographic area).

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Eeyore the dealer will backroom you

I played $1/$2 at the Commerce again last night, buying in with my last $30 (including the $10 roll of quarters that originally belonged to Robbbbbb). I'm in seat 7. My strategy last night -- play super tight in early position, and even tighter in late position. As examples, pre-flop, I folded pocket 3's next to the button, folded KTo under the gun, and folded A6o in the small blind.

The table was as loose as always, and using this stategy, my stack dropped to $20 after paying blinds and up to $40 after winning hands. I played very few hands (A6s, AKo, A7s, K9s), and stayed in after the flop with fewer still (A6s on a flush draw, AKo when the king hit). Two hands played, two hands won in the first 2½ hours, still about $30 in front of me.

At about two hours, we got a dealer change, and the saddest, gloomiest person I've ever seen wordlessly sat down with his tray and began to deal very, very slowly. He was an old asian guy, never made eye contact with anyone, and burned and turned the cards very deliberately. Unlike most dealers, he didn't act to move the game along, and pretty much left it up to the table to decide who won each hand and what rules to enforce. The guy to my right (José? that name'll work) raised his $1 bet to $3 after the flop (you're only allowed a $1 raise), but nobody complained, so it played. The woman two to my right showed her cards to José; fortunately, they then both folded.

At one point, the guy two to my left (Howard? That's a fitting name) won a pot with Ah, only showing one card. As the dealer motioned to him that he could grab the chips (!! -- normally the dealer pushes you your chips), I asked to see the guy's other card. He obliged, showing me his Jd, and then got berated by the dealer for literally three minutes (until this point, I didn't know the dealer could speak), who, in a very hard to understand accent, told him that in the big games, not showing both cards would be considered folding, and he'd lose the pot. The four of us at our end of the table (including the guy who got chewed out) had great fun for the next 20 minutes talking about getting backroomed for not showing both cards, sleeping with the fished for pointing out mistakes to the dealer, or for getting your arm cut off and beat with it for letting the player at the other end of the table know the he shorted the pot by a buck. Goofy, goofy atmosphere, but I stuck with my strategy.

Six hands later, a guy at the other end of the table (I'll call him Greg, for no good reason) who had sat down with $100 shortly after I arrived, was obviously down to about $50. Greg was a "play anything" kind of guy, but he won a three-way pot with a 4-on the board flush, showing his winning King and mucking his other card. José (who was now all in for $2 total) tossed his losing cards in face-up, and Howard showed me his pair of Queens and mucked them. Wordlessly, the dealer gave Greg the side pot and José the $9 main pot. We're all looking at each other -- why is the dealer giving the all-in garbage player part of the pot? The flush wins. Greg's oblivious, and just taked the much larger side pot. José takes his newly "won" chips, decides that now would be a good time to go, and leaves.

Howard and I conclude that because Greg face-down mucked half his hand, the sad-sack dealer followed through on his threat and called his hand dead, but because Howard mucked his hand, too, the side pot still went to Greg. José "won" because he was the only player still in.

Loony.

Blinds and the aforementioned A7s folded post flop brought me down to $19, and it's getting to 11:00; time to get going. One more orbit, and if I get anything, I'm gonna play it super aggressive to take advantage of the tight table image I've cultivated the last three hours. On the button I get 76o. That's not the hand to do that with. Fold.

Next hand, I'm one off the button: Pair of tens. Bingo. Family pot around to me, and I raise. Most of the table calls. Seven players. J-6-8 rainbow. The jack's scary, but if I bet hard, I'm pretty sure I can scare off most players. The blinds check, next player checks, Greg bets $1, a couple callers, a fold, I raise to $2, the button folds, the blinds call.

The turn's a 9. I've got an open-end straight draw now, too. Checks to Greg, he bets, folds up to me, and I raise. More folds, and Greg and I are heads up.

The river's a king. It doesn't scare me, I'm representing power cards already, and that make it look like I might have hit a set of kings or paired up with big slick. Greg reaches for his chips, and I grab four of mine. He bets, I raise, he hesitates. He looks at his cards. It's a big pot -- it's a mistake for him to fold here, just based on the pot odds, but I've made it seem like it's a mistake for him to call here, too, if I really do have power cards.

He thinks about it, then calls. I show my pair of tens. He shows J4o, for a pair of Jacks. I'm down to $5.

The next hand, I get dealt A3o, and announce to the table that I'm on tilt. I raise when it comes to me, and get a table full of callers. Flop is 2-3-4 rainbow. With A3o, you can't ask for a much better flop. I'm soon all in, the turn's an 8, the river's an A, and I lose to Greg again, this time holding A4o.

Good times, though. It's amazing how few people leave the table with any chips whatsoever. And even more amazing how few people leave the table ahead.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

In-N-Out: Meh

I ate at In-n-Out for the first time ever today. I've heard some people get pretty nostalgic about it, but, well, meh. Not too impressed.

It's neat that they've only got four foods on the menu: hamburger, cheeseburger, double cheeseburger, and fries (one size). The employees seemed a lot happier than standard fast food workers. And it's kind of social to stand in the sun with 20 others waiting for your food. But the burger itself? Nothing unexpected.

Down $54 at The Bike

Sigh. 4 hours, down $54.

I played last night at the Bicycle Casino, the other WPT stop in L.A. The atmosphere was much nicer than Commerce, the table was almost as loose, and my new strategy failed (playing more drawing hands to take advantage of the pot odds). I was still by far the tightest player at the table, but the much more frequent scenario of

1) bet,
2) see the flop,
3) fold

chewed away at my stack slowly but consistently.

Plus, I raised-and-got-rivered four times, even though I played agressively and in accordance with the pot odds.

My worst beat, which really wasn't that bad, I was dealt AKs under the gun, raised pre-flop, and the flop came rags, 9c-2h-6d, I think. The blinds checked to me, I bet, and all but the cutoff player folded. He called.

He gave me the impression that he was either a dealer or casino floor worker (janitorial, food delivery, floorman, something), so I knew he was more experienced than most of the other players at the table.

The turn was a 5c. I bet, he called.

The river was a 3c. I got nothin'. I check. He shows T2o, for a pair of deuces. After the hand, he implies that he'd have folded if I'd bet on the river. Maybe.

Next time, it's back to super-tight play.

(Correction from yesterday. Both the Commerce and the Bike have a $2.50 rake, not $3.)

Monday, January 09, 2006

Down $15 at Commerce Casino

Coolness.

I played the $1/$2 tables at the Commerce Casino tonight. The Commerce Casino sells itself as the world's biggest poker room, and has been the site of multiple WPT episodes.

Yeah, it's big, but it's not cavernous big, like day 1 of the WSOP looks on TV. I didn't see anyone famous, either.

I did, however, survive for three hours, only dropping $14.50 for the night. My big hands were few and far between, and the Commerce has an insanely huge rake at the lower limits ($3 for any pot above $5). Second to the casino itself, I'd like to think I was the big winner at the table. Very few people left the table with any chips; those who did played less than 10 hands, and left with less than they started.

No big hands to report; no bad beats. On the big blind, I played KK to the end on one hand, bringing three calling stations along for the ride, no raises. And my best hand of the night, I was one-on-one, out of position with 99, facing a board of 9-Q-3 3 7 rainbow. The guy to my left raised once, after the river, and called my re-raise. He showed Q3, giving him a 3-over-Q boat, losing to my 9-over-3 boat.

My online play at the 2 cent/4 cent tables has helped a lot -- I played OK against people who see the flop under the gun with 57o, expecting (correctly) that someone would have a 7 when the board showed 4589A.

Good times.

(Edit: Oh, by the way, I'm in O.C. for FileNet training. I think I finally understand the concept of a "record class" now.)

Friday, January 06, 2006

The latest in kid tracking technology

DriveSync tracks your kids' joyrides. Commence the sarcasm, Engadget:

Nothing gladdens our hearts more than seeing yet another paranoid parent kid tracking device aimed at locking down the hearts, minds and loins of today's youth. This one provides off-line GPS tracking (read: cheaper than real-time) of your vehicle so you can see when, where, how fast and how aggressively your teen is abusing the family getaway-mobile.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

On tilt, Hollywood rebuys: Ocean's Thirteen

Tip o' the hat to fark.com: Ocean's Thirteen Aimed for a 2006 Start

Lakewood chooses new mayor

The News Tribune reports today,

Claudia Thomas, who’s believed to be the first black female mayor in Washington’s history, will lead Pierce County’s second-largest city for the next two years.

The Lakewood City Council on Tuesday voted 4-3 to make Thomas mayor. She was chosen over former mayor Doug Richardson.

... The selection of Thomas and [deputy mayor] Arbeeny also demonstrates the growing strength of Lakewood CARES, the government watchdog group and political bloc that has tried to take over the council majority since 2001.

Thomas was nominated by newly elected City Councilman Ron Cronk, who was sworn in that evening. Cronk, who won his seat by just 67 votes, is the third CARES member on the council. The other three votes for Thomas came from Arbeeny and Pad Finnigan, also members of CARES, and Thomas herself.

Arbeeny is the first member of the group to hold a leadership office on the council.

For the past two years, Thomas has tended to be disdainful of CARES and its agenda, often rolling her eyes or mumbling on the council dais when one of its members speaks.

Even though her mayoral support came from CARES and she in turn voted for Arbeeny, she insisted that “I don’t make deals and I don’t side.”

For the record, I've voted for CARES members, who in general opposed the multi-million dollar city hall, speeding cameras, and a few other porkish projects.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Duh: Product ads increase product usage

Forbes today has this groundbreaking news:

Of approximately 1,900 study participants between the ages of 15 and 26 who were interviewed at least one time and up to four times between 1999 and 2001, those who reported viewing more alcohol advertisements on average also reported drinking more alcohol.

Ads work? No way... Thanks, Captain Obvious.