Archive for September, 2010

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Poker: September 2010 Results

September 13, 2010

This is a bit premature, but I self-excluded myself from playing online poker for the rest of the month, so it’s not going to change much. Here are the results:

Starting Bankroll: $109.75
Ending Bankroll: $0.04
Net Profit: -$100.71
Deposits: $25
Cash Outs: $100
Transfers: $0
Rake Back: $35.71 (through Sept. 10th)
Bonuses: $50
Tournaments: +$69.20
Cash Games: -$341.33

Notes:

-I went busto on September 2nd and had to deposit money for the first time in ages. I put in $25 and got about $20 in rake back and built that $45 up to a peak of $366 within a week.

-I only cashed in 3 of 23 online tournaments I played before banning myself, but all of them were final tables. My best showing was 1st of 135 for +$149.50.

-When my bankroll reached $366, I decided to do something rare: cash some out.

-After my cash out and a couple days basically treading water, I decided to take a shot at a $100 buy-in NL cash game. This was 10x higher than I was usually playing and it seems whenever I decide to take a shot, the Gods punish me for it. The pivotal hands:

—I have Tc8c in the BB and someone raises it to $5. I’m going to fold if it folds around to me, but the SB calls and I decide to take a flop. The board comes T83 with two hearts. SB checks and the opening raiser has about $42 left and my objective is to get as much of it as possible. I figure if he has an overpair, I’m stacking him no matter what. If he has unpaired high cards, he might not call if I bet, but he’ll likely make a continuation bet if it checks to him and maybe even price himself in. Since checking seems to make me more money, that’s what I do. He goes all-in. Yay! The small blind calls $42. Boo! Not what I was hoping for at all. What does this guy have? I go into the tank for a bit… It’s really unlikely that he has TT or 88 since I have two of those cards and two of them are on the board… 33 is certainly a possibility, but I convince myself that it’s probably a big heart draw. Since I’m playing way over my head, the safe play would be to fold, but if I end up folding the winning hand, I’m not going to forgive myself. Since I think my hand is good, calling is out of the question, and I go all-in for $108. The SB calls and shows AhKh and the 4h comes on the turn and I don’t fill up. $270 pot and roughly 40% of my bankroll gets shipped to him.

—After that last beat, I decide to call it a night, but I can’t sleep at all because I’m steaming so bad. So I get back online and sit down in the same game looking to make my money back quickly. After a few hands, I pick up KK and make it $3.50 to go. Someone re-raises me to $10.50. Ugh. Am I really going to be up against aces right now? The button calls him. It folds back to me… only one hand has me beat, but do I believe it? I decide to go Matt Damon in Rounders and just shove it all-in for $100+. The re-raiser folds, which is great, but the button calls, which is shocking. What does this guy have that he’d play that way? Amazingly, he shows 22 and before I can even get over the shock of seeing his hand, he spikes a set on the flop, and stacks 70% of my remaining bankroll. Unbelievable. I’m playing on a Rush table, so I don’t even get the satisfaction of being able to berate him for such a horrendous play.

—I’m down to like $45 and take it to same $100NL game and decide that I’m getting it all-in at the first sane opportunity. After a few spots where my opponents fold, I pick up AQ and get one caller with position on me. I bet the pot on an A high flop and he calls. I get it all-in on a blank turn and he shows a flopped set and I’m busto for the second time this month.

-I played live for the first time in a loooooooong while. I went into Bremerton Lanes to see if they had a tournament and it was super dead. There were about five people waiting around in a live game and I decided to sit down against my better judgement. I bought in for $100 to play $4-$8, to kill the hour before the tournament, and basically just dwindled. I won two pots and they were both small and I never picked up any big hands. Lost $66.

Highlights from the live tournament:

—blinds @ 50-100 on deep stacks. One person limps, I limp with 66, SB calls, BB raises to $600. First limper folds, and since we are on deep stacks and I know this player will dump if I spike a set, I call. SB folds and the flop comes 953. He checks to me and it looks like a bet, but I’ve played with this guy before and I don’t think he’d make that raise w/out a pair, so I check behind and take one off. Turn is a 2 and he bets $800. I’m still pretty sure he has an overpair, but his check on the flop leaves enough doubt that I speculate with a call, plus I should have six outs, position, and some other river cards I might be able to bluff with. River is gin: a four peels off. No flush on board, so I’m sure I have the nuts. He leads out for $1000, which looks like an ace. I doubt he’d make that bet with KK/QQ/JJ, so I expect to get paid off and raise it to $2700, hoping he might even re-raise. He just calls and I’m surprised when he tables 99 for top set. hahaha… sorry buddy! Nice pot for me. It’s a pretty odd river call for him, but sometimes I think people need to show how bad of a beat they took… and I appreciate it!

—blinds @ 200-400. UTG goes all-in for about 1900 and I’m UTG+1 with AA and about $12K. I decide to just call because some players behind me have been raise happy. Everyone folds except the small blind, who calls also. The flop comes AT9 with two hearts. SB checks to me and even though I have top set, a bet is in order because that board is super draw-friendly. I bet out $1500 and the small blind becomes exasperated. I’m all for the cooperation play in a lot of spots, but this is not one of them. After throwing a mini-fit, he says “Fine, I’ll all-in” and raises about $7500 more. Hahahahhahaha. I call and flip over my aces and he tables QQ and walks away sonned.

—blinds @ 300-600. I pick up AA and raise to 1500. I have over $20K at this point and a player behind me has even more chips. We are easily the chip leaders at the table. He’s been really raise happy and doesn’t disappoint when he makes it $5500 to go. It folds around back to me and I go into acting mode. I count my chips, see how much I’d have left if I call and fold later, basically trying to sell AK or some other hand… After a minute or so, I go all-in and he instacalls and shows JJ. I hold and I have an enormous chip lead. I got chastised by a couple players after this hand, including my opponent. Some of the comments: “he had to think about that one” — “yeah, he must’ve been worried I had a set” etc. Uhhh… okay noobs. If I shove all-in without thinking about it, my hand range can be narrowed down pretty easily. I know if I had JJ in his spot, I would fold it. Hell, I wouldn’t have re-raised in the first place. Maybe my acting job didn’t play a role at all and he would have spewed with JJ regardless, but there’s certainly no rule that says if you have aces you must reraise as soon as possible.

—Per usual, when I get a huge chip lead, I get card dead for a long time and eventually dwindle down to an average stack. I make the final table with a good amount of chips, but all my opening raises get shoved on and I have to fold my attempts to steal the blinds.

—Busto hand: blinds are 2000-4000 and I have about $21K. Two people limp in, SB calls, and I have AT in the BB. I have enough chips left behind that the limpers can’t call me without fear and the limps indicate there isn’t a lot of strength out there, so I shove and take my chances. First person folds, but the second hesitates for a bit, sighs, and decides to call. She tables 99 and flops a set. GG. 7th place for money back. Laaaaaaaaaaaame.

Another shitty month… but on the bright side, I cashed out more money than I put into gambling this month, so my wallet actually saw a profit. I keep saying that playing above my bankroll is one of my biggest leaks, but I don’t think it’s wrong to take shots. I don’t want to grind it out for nickels and dimes and no one makes it big by playing it safe. It would just be nice if one time I took a shot something ridiculous didn’t happen. Sigh. Until next month….

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Revisiting 1990: Jacob’s Ladder

September 10, 2010

Considered For: Top 5

“Mr. Singer. What an appropriate name for a man that can’t shut up.”

Plot: Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) is a traumatized Vietnam war vet that finds himself experiencing hallucinations when he returns to “normal” life in New York City.

I think Roger Ebert said it best when he stated that Jacob’s Ladder “was not a pleasant experience, but it was exhilarating in the sense that I was able to observe filmmakers working at the edge of their abilities and inspirations.” This was a tough movie to sit through. Between the swift editing that jumps from one point in time to another with no explanation and Jacob’s increasingly bizarre hallucinations throughout the film, it’s hard to get a grasp on what’s going on. It’s not an easy film to follow and as a result, it’s certainly not for everyone. There’s some good, scary imagery in this movie and Tim Robbins gives a decent performance. There’s a big twist in this movie, but the pay off isn’t that great if you have an idea what it is already before you start watching the movie. I admittedly struggled to get through this one and was thankful when it was over. It’s not a bad movie by any means, but it’s not an easy watch and I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it.

Grade: C
Viewings: 1
Replay Value: I’ll probably never watch it again, but I can see the appeal of multiple viewings.
Sequel Potential: None.
Oscars?: No nominations.
Nudity?: Elizabeth Pena plays one of Jacob’s love interests and spends the vast majority of her scenes naked. Probably the best thing about the movie.

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Piranha 3D (2010)

September 2, 2010

“There are thousands of them and they are pissed!”

Aspiring horror directors should take note of what the filmmakers of Piranha 3D have accomplished. Here’s a movie that, despite its surprisingly decent cast and acting that isn’t always laughable, doesn’t take itself seriously at all. A franchise like Friday The 13th has proven that a horror film doesn’t have to be Silence Of The Lambs or Halloween to become wildly popular. Unfortunately, most horror movies, especially over the past decade, have tried to travel a middle ground between camp and quality, that often results in a huge, contrived mess. Piranha has no such notions and sticks to a proven formula for enjoyable monster movies: lots of nudity, lots of blood, and innovative death scenes.

There were moments during the first hour of the movie when I was wondering when the carnage was going to start, but thankfully, the first hour is also filled with hot naked chicks and enough killing to keep us interested. The last half hour is when the fun really starts. Once it becomes known that prehistoric piranha with an appetite for human flesh have infiltrated Lake Victoria, it doesn’t take long for all hell to break loose. I won’t spoil anything, but this movie has some of the coolest death scenes I’ve EVER seen. Some of the gore is over the top (see the movie and you’ll know what I’m talking about), but it’s been a while since I’ve gone “Ooooh!” this many times in a movie.

Sure, some of the plot elements of Piranha are ridiculous at best, and there was some dialogue that made me laugh out loud for bad reasons, but I can’t imagine anyone willing to buy a ticket coming out disappointed. You have to know what you’re getting into going to see a movie like this. Piranha is a great monster movie. It’s not comparable to the classic horror flicks I mentioned earlier, but only because the greatness of those films extend beyond the genre of horror. Give me a horror movie with great deaths, porn stars getting naked (and then mutilated), and a focus on fun, and I’m never going to complain.

Grade: B+
Viewings: 1
Replay Value: I’d watch it again and maybe even buy it when it hits the bargain buckets.
Sequel Potential: Sequel was set up at the end and already announced by the studio. I’m interested, but I could see how it could go downhill fast.
Oscars?: None
Nudity: Yes! Tons! A horror flick that knows how to do it right!

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August 2010 Poker Results

September 2, 2010

Disclaimer: Since I live in a state where gambling online is illegal everything I’m about to post is clearly a figment of my imagination. I’m a law-abiding citizen.

I started viciously tracking my results this past month in an effort to improve my game and be honest about my results. When it comes to gambling, unless you happen to make a huge score in a tournament, it’s a daily grind that features a lot of ups and downs along the way. In the past, I liked to start tracking my results after a good day and then suddenly lose interest when things turned sour. This past month, I confirmed a lot of what I have long suspected have been leaks in my game. Here are my results:

Starting Bankroll: $163.41
Ending Bankroll: $109.75
Net Profit: -$53.66
Deposits: $0
Cash Outs: $0
Transfers: $0
RakeBack: +$243.49
Tournaments: +$254.98
Cash Games: -$552.13

Notes:

-My bankroll peaked at $716 on August 19th. I combined terrible luck with poor bankroll management and sketchy play over the last two weeks of the month, resulting in a horrid stretch that left me in the red for the month.

-My cash game results are terrible and represent the biggest inconsistency in my poker game. I can dominate for long stretches of time, but if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about myself it’s that I tend to implode when I start to hit a bad run. I never seem to have a minor losing stretch, I always compound my bad luck with horrible decision-making.

-I played 61 tournaments in August, with an average field of 586, and cashed in 14 of them, which gave me a respectable 23% In The Money rate.

-My biggest cash was a net profit of $363.73 for a 7th place finish in $3.30 No Limit rebuy tournament that had a field of 1,761 players.

-I went on a sick tournament streak in the middle of the month. I cashed in 10 of 17 tournaments over five days, including five final tables in a wide variety of games (3rd in HORSE, 5th in Pot Limit Omaha, 1st in Stud, 3rd in NL, and 7th in NL+rebuys). During this stretch, I made $555.94 playing tournaments.

Goals For September:

-Limit my cash game play even though it’s how I build rakeback. I obviously lost more playing them than I made in rakeback.

-Take some days off.

-Make at least one big tournament score.

-Have a winning month!

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Pyro – Pieces To The Puzzle Album Release Party

September 2, 2010

Download Pyro’s album here.

It’s hard to believe that only five months ago, Phil Houston was the opening act at a small hip-hop show that attracted only a handful of people. Even then, one could sense that he might be something special. At that first show, the 24 year old emcee, now better known as Pyro, got the club popping in a way that no one else could that night. With a strong circle of friends and catchy music, Pyro took the stage and had the place rocking in no time. In fact, Houston brought in so many unexpected guests that the main act, Fat Camp, decided to go on first (instead of the last slot usually reserved for a headliner) and tried to take advantage of a palpably hyped crowd. Until Pyro got on stage, however, it still looked like every other hip-hop show we’ve ever seen in Bremerton: a few people standing around, talking, barely paying attention to a couple of guys that were okay at rapping.

Saturday, August 28th, 2010, Pyro celebrated the release party of his debut album Pieces To The Puzzle and marked both the beginning and the end of a long journey. I’ve seen this man pour his blood, sweat, and tears into this album over the past half year, often wondering if it was even worth it. It’s hard to console someone that’s really got something going for them, but a fear of being unappreciated and overlooked is understandable in a city that has failed to produce a single noteworthy hip-hop act outside of Blue Scholars’ Geologic–and Geo didn’t even become well-known until he took his talents to Seattle.

Until recently, it’s been debatable what the problem is: a lack of talented rappers or a weak hip-hop market in Bremerton? Most local rappers would probably argue that it’s the latter, but Pyro’s release party proved that is simply not true. South Pacific bar, located near the Bremerton ferry, was packed, with roughly 400-500 people jammed inside, making it hard to walk around without getting a drink knocked out of your hands. During Pyro’s set, the majority of the crowd was locked into the performance, often reciting along with the lyrics, adding their own flavor to each song, and generally acting a fool.

So what does Phil Houston have that no one else in the area seems to possess? Well, for starters, he’s talented. The man is clever with wordplay, constructs multisyllable rhyme schemes, and has a rather effortless delivery over mostly infectious beats. More importantly, however, he has an uncanny ability to write hits. Nearly every song in Pyro’s set from Pieces To The Puzzle has an element of crowd involvement that ranges from the call-and-response hook on “Where Ya At?” to easy fill-in-the-blank lyrics on “Eat By Any Means.” Also, in the past five months or so, Pyro has built up a large enough following based on his performances that the crowd is already familiar with his words, despite the fact that the actual album wasn’t released until late August. While Pieces To The Puzzle is awesome in its own right, Pyro is one of those rare performers that you absolutely have to see live. His songs come alive in a way that is absent on the record and it’s impossible to get the full experience of the album without going to a show.

Quality of music is not the only hip-hop element where Pyro has exceeded the competition. The man exudes a level of swag that is absent from most performers. Before his set, Pyro was walking around the club with a microphone in his hand, entertaining the crowd with playful banter and introducing people as they walked in. Not a lot of people could get away with talking over a crowd of hundreds and avoid becoming the target of some tomato throwing. Also, in a party that was advertised as an all-black attire affair, Houston naturally showed up in an all-white outfit, making sure he stood out like a bride at a wedding ceremony. It’s a rare occurrence when an artist displays this kind of confidence and has the ability to back it up with good music.

The contrast between Houston and your average local rapper becomes evident when he decides to share the stage with his fellow HMH Entertainment cohorts. During the middle of his set, Pyro gave way to teammates Richie Rich and Push Capone and the level of interest given to the performers noticeably dimmed. This isn’t necessarily a knock on these guys–Push has as much raw talent as anyone in Bremerton and Richie Rich’s “Wanna Be My” is a hit in the making–it just goes to show that Pyro has reached a level of performing rap songs that nobody in this area has come close to touching.

It would be easy for naysayers to claim that Pyro’s popularity will only go as far as the celebrity of his best friend Marvin Williams will carry him. While it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a National Champion and NBA baller plastered on your show flyers, the actual impact that Williams has on Houston’s rap career is minimal. The origin of the diamond-encrusted medallion that Pyro wears around his neck is up for debate, but Williams has nothing to do with the financing behind any of HMH Entertainment’s ventures–whether it’s studio time, producing albums, or designing and manufacturing the now ubiquitous “I Run Bremerton” shirts–all of it is self-funded from within the company. As far as getting heads in the door at a show, sure, Marvin Williams is a good draw, but spend some time at a Pyro show and it will be obvious who everyone really came to see.

It’s amazing how far Pyro has come in such a short time and it’s refreshing to see someone have a shot at realizing their dreams. At this point, it’s safe to say the young emcee has nothing left to prove in his hometown. Pieces To The Puzzle is a strong debut album that has enough mass appeal that it should at least get Pyro some buzz going in Seattle and possibly even nationwide via the internet. As long as he stays focused, there’s no reason Pyro can’t accomplish his own goal: “We run Bremerton, now it’s time to take the state.” Congratulations Young Phil, you’re a star in the making.

Download Pyro’s album here.

rap name: Pyro PiH
Album: Pieces To The Puzzle 2.0
HMH Entertainment
Twitter @pyropih
reverbnation.com/pyropih
facebook.com/pyropih