Monday, April 30, 2007

Reflections on the Spokane Cache Machine

(Composed entirely on blackberry; typos are my own fat fingers)

On the way to Spokane, I hit eight geocaches. I really got tired of pointless microcaches a year or so ago, and pretty much stopped caching locally, as I'd either already been to the neat spots in the area, or the new caches were hidden in parking lot culverts (really!) or stuck to random suburban electrical boxes (two come to mind immediately).

When I plotted my route to Spokane, I limited myself to normal sized, traditional caches within 0.5 miles of my route. This led me to a bushwhacking-to-a-creek cache near Maple Valley, and to a cache near a nice sized waterfall in the former Twin Falls State Park. Good ones. I also made it to the I-90 Wild Stallions cache that I mentioned in my previous post, and to the Petrified Forest State Park, somewhere I've wanted to visit since seeing it in the cheezy Washington geography films in fourth grade.

However, it also took me to an old mill in Thorpe, which would have been fine, but I'd forgotten that I'd found another cache at the same location two years ago. I also hit two rest area caches, which are kind of lame. I can say that -- I own the Federal Way rest area cache.

The number of micros and small caches in Spokane was surprising. I think of the 81 caches we got on Saturday, maybe 5 of them were ammo cans. A lot of them were magnetic hide-a-key containers. One particular run through Airway. Heights had eight consecutive caches that were either attached to lamp posts in restaurant parking lots or under a roadside water meter lid.

It was still a lot of fun. Spokane's got a great riverfront with a massive waterfall, and several of the caches showcased architecture, artwork, or history of the area. One creative cache had us standing in the middle of a desert-like pasture trying to figure out how a wooden box, bungee-corded cordless phone, and gold-painted nail were supposed to work together. But several parks had multiple unremarkable caches when one would do, and for every great cache, there were several "what were they thinking" caches.

Sunday, on the way home, I hit one cache, only because I had to stop and use the rest area, and it wasn't a micro.

The event was considerably more organized than the one's I'd created in the past. This has its good points -- it's great that someone thought to alert the police that a group of 125 people would be lurking the side streets and abusing parking lot lampposts -- and bad points -- should the event really be a fundraiser for the local chapter? In all, I think it was a good event. It's not done how I would have; I think it was an improvement. I've had more practice doing cache machine routing (which is why my three vehicle sub-group followed my vehicle on a route I created), but there's no way I'd have organized such a good social part of the event.

I think I'll go to the next one. I saw some neat new spots, and I had fun, and that's what really mattered.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Spokane Cache Machine coming up

I'll be heading to Spokane next weekend for the Spokane Cache Machine event, and I'll probably play some poker there as well. I did well at the local bowling alley at the Wenatchee Cache Machine, so I'm thinking I'll try the bowling alley/casino in Spokane, instead of going to play at the Northern Quest. If I have time, I'll do both, 'cause I'd love to take a look at what they've got -- Spokane's not a poker wasteland, being the home of Bryant King, who placed 21st in the 2005 WSOP ($304,000), second in a 2006 WSOP circuit event ($416,000), and has almost $900K in lifetime winnings.

It's a longer drive than most of the other CM's I've gone to (except maybe Victoria, but that was at the end of an around-the-Olympic-Peninsula vacation), but there's several caches I plan to hit along the way to break up the drive. The one I'm looking forward to the most is I-90, Wild Stallions Ride Again (pictured), which you've probably seen if you've driven I-90 eastbound across the Columbia.

I'll be heading out early Friday. My preliminary route plan shows me leaving at 6:30 a.m. and arriving at 5:00 p.m. (planning for 10 minutes per cache), but that's pretty flexible, particularly since I don't plan on leaving until 8:30 or so.

Saturday will be a sun-up to sun-down mass mob cache hunt. I'm meeting up with a couple cachers and will be their navigator. I've got the official Spokane Cache Machine route ready to print, but I like Microsoft MapPoint a lot more, so I'll be spending time this week copying the waypoints over and re-creating the route.

Sunday will be breakfast in Coeur D'Alene, then a leisurely drive back, hitting caches that I skipped on my eastbound route.

This is the first cache machine event I've attended that I didn't organize. I planned one in Spokane before, back in September 2003, but didn't attend due to a house fire. I'm looking forward to this a lot.

Vacation Mondays are over

On March 19, I finished in fifth place in the Palace tourney.

On April 9, I finished in fifth place in the Palace tourney.

Guess how I did on April 16? If you guessed fifth, you'd be right.

Last Monday was my last vacation Monday; my vacation calendar's been reset, and I've got another 15 days to use within the next 12 months. It was a good finale, too. I ended up net +$25 in the Palace tournament, and played the $3/$6 ring game for three hours, with my $100 buy in varying from $45 to $215, ending at $105 (+$5).

In the tournament, solid, tight play (I folded AJo UTG with less than three orbits in chips left) and a good bit of luck (I rivered two poor souls twice) got me that far, but I'm thinking that I need to stay tight once I'm in the top five. My pocket fives were a racing hand, and I could have sat around a few more rounds before the blinds would have knocked me out.

In the cash game, a co-worker of mine was to my right. His style of play was a lot looser than mine, but he was also better at getting away from hands. I got burned a few times when I couldn't let go of overcards soon enough, but made a huge stack of chips with pocket tens and a board of JJT-x-x, when the button held another J.

I also made the same mistake two hands in a row. I was dealt pocket eights (yes, two hands in a row), and the quads jackpot for eights was an unusually high $800. After missing the flop, I figured I had the right odds to call a raise to see the turn. That's wrong. With a 2/47 chance of hitting another 8, there would have to be $141 in the pot to justify a $6 call (based on thinking a set of 8s would win), but the odds of hitting the jackpot -- getting runner/runner eights -- is 1/1081, meaning the jackpot would need to be $13K to justify $9 in bets. Of course, when I didn't hit an 8 on the turn, I got out, but that was money I didn't need to throw away.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Fifth place again

Tight play and a little luck got me to the top five at Palace again. Losing an all-in race (my AQs, his 66) knocked me out. Yup, a bad day for me and pocket sixes.

No more match play at Happy Days

It's been two weeks since I played the Happy Days tourney, and it looks like they've made a lot of changes, none of which are particularly good.

  • No more 2x $10 match play coupons with the $25 buy-in. The dealer I talked to said that management finally did the math and realized what a good deal it was for the players. They figured players would have to play 30 hands for the casino to break even, and players generally weren't doing that. This change effectively increases the cost of the tourney by about $9.80.
  • The $1 blackjack is gone. It's up to $3 minimum bets, which makes it just like everywhere else in town.
  • In tournaments, when a waiting list player gets seated, they're required to post the missed blind. They've never done that before, and they don't seem too sure of how to do it now. The worst situation I saw was at the $400/$800 level; someone sat down UTG and had to post $900 of their $5000 starting chips. $500 was dead money; to play the hand they had to throw in another $400. That's a quarter of their stack committed, just for sitting down with a mediocre hand. That's dumb enough that I'm considering not playing there again; it'll bite me soon enough. I didn't stick around long enough to tell if it applies to players who channged tables. Logically, it should, but that's even more stupid. I pushed my 66 against a QQ and went home.
  • Until yesterday, they still had the $120000 bad beat jackpot, but finally gave up, realizing that it'll be forever before someone wins quads-over-quads. The state requires the money to go back to the players, so they're awarding an hourly high hand prize of $100 for the next 1200 hours, starting this morning. The result, from the chatter around the tournament table, is players who will play any Axo or Kxo, hoping to get a high full house. KKK22 won the noon prize today.
  • At least the coffee cups have gotten better. They're glass instead of styrofoam now.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Not much poker lately

Nope, not much poker. Last Monday (a week ago), I ended in 14th place, out of the money, in the Palace tourney. It was the wife's spring break week, so after waiting (unsuccessfully) for a $3/$6 seat to open up, I went home to spend the rest of thre day with her instead of at Hqappy Days' noon tourney. This week is the kid's spring break, so we spent Monday out at Hood Canal instead of playing poker. I've got two vacation Mondays left, and a big geocaching trip to Spokane in late April, where I'll hit a few cardrooms between events. And online play? I'm down to my last $20, which will be difficult to supplement if I klose it. I've been hoping to win enough -i to stay out of the hole long enough -- to get enough player points to get a PokerStars shirt. I think it says a lot about my (lack of) confidence in my online game that I haven't considered playing in tourneys that take player points to buy-in.