Archive for October, 2016


10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

October 14, 2016

Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher
Director: Dan Trachtenberg

Bottom Line: 10 Cloverfield Lane was a solid and fun suspense mystery featuring good performances from Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman in the lead roles. Winstead’s character has a bad car accident and wakes up to find herself captive in the survival shelter of a man (Goodman) that claims a chemical attack has made the above ground world unlivable. The big mysteries of the film are whether or not Goodman’s character is telling the truth – and there are plenty pf reasons to question his intentions – and what, if anything, this film has to do with J.J. Abram’s 2008 monster film Cloverfield (Spoiler alert: he’s a not-so-secret producer on the film).

10 Cloverfield Lane is a tense, claustrophobic film with some good scares, a solid cast, and a mystery that will have you guessing until the very end.

Replay Value: I’d watch it again.
Sequel Potential: It’s hard to comment on this because you are wondering the whole film if it’s a sequel or not.
Oscar Potential: John Goodman gives a great supporting performance but it will probably be forgotten and overlooked come award season.

Grade: 6.5/10 (recommended/must see)


Don’t Breathe (2016)

October 12, 2016

Starring: Jane Levy, Stephen Lang, Dylan Minnette
Director: Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead [remake])

Bottom Line: Somehow, years after Eminem shared his vivid and sometimes scary tales of life in the slums of Detroit, horror filmmakers had the brilliant idea that these lonely projects are the perfect backdrop for a scary movie. Much like last year’s amazing and unique It Follows, Don’t Breathe once again takes us into the depths of Detroit, where a young girl named Rocky (Jane Levy) and her friends hatch the perfect plan to rob an old, blind war veteran that lives alone in an abandoned neighborhood. This plan is able to come to fruition mostly because Rocky’s friend Alex (Minnette) has a father that works for a security company and they are able to use that connection to gain access to people’s homes. Obviously, things don’t go as planned and the old man is far more capable than they ever could have imagined.

Detroit is such a good city for horror movies. It’s hard to imagine many settings where a film like Don’t Breathe could work, but an abandoned neighborhood in the Motor City, where there is absolutely no human traffic, is the perfect place. And it’s easy to believe this is a man that wants to be secluded. What’s not as believable is that this is a man that would have a security system in the first place. He had a daughter that was killed by a motorist (possibly drunk, I can’t remember) and you get the idea that her death was the end of any connection he had to society. So why does he have this system? I guess living in an abandoned area would raise anyone’s paranoia, but he’s well prepared for intruders and has Cujo for a guard dog. I’m not really buying it and you kind of realize the security system only exists for plot purposes and that it doesn’t really make sense for the character. Of course, pointing out plot holes in scary movies is a silly practice…

…but Don’t Breathe is a good scary movie. Once you can get past some of the silliness (like the team finishing off a joint just before breaking into the house – nothing like a good high when performing an occupied home invasion!) Don’t Breathe is a solid thriller – it’s crazy tense with lots of good scares. And the poor, victimized blind man is even scarier than you can imagine. I’m yet to see the remake of Evil Dead but the team of director Fede Alvarez and Jane Levy as the star are a good match here and that project is now on my must see list.

Don’t Breathe is currently the best horror film of 2016 and one of the best films in the genre of the last several years. It’s a must see for fans of scary films and an all around good time at the movies.

Replay Value: Not as good as It Follows, but definitely worth seeing again.
Oscar Potential: Can’t imagine any.

Grade: 6.5/10 (Recommended/Must See)

SPOILER ALERT: Okay, so the big surprise of the movie is that the blind man has the woman that accidentally killed his daughter locked up in his basement. She was found not guilty of vehicular manslaughter and was able to go free. And now she’s in his basement. Think about this for a second. How difficult would it be for a blind man to not only find out where and when to find this girl, capture her by surprise, and do so while making sure there are no witnesses.


Sequel Potential: Spoiler alert! Maybe. The blind man lives.


I Am A Professional Poker Player Now

October 9, 2016

Goodness that sounds ridiculous, but it’s the truth. October 4th was my last day of work and the plan going forward is to make my living now entirely from playing poker. It’s a good plan. I have a huge sample size of success and – thanks to WSOP 2016 – a large enough bankroll cushion to make my dream of playing poker full time a reality with very little fear of ever going bust at the stakes I want to play.

People have been wishing me good luck and saying they hope it works out for me the last couple of weeks now and it really makes you pause. Wait. Could I possibly turn into a losing player overnight just because I quit my day job? “Good luck.” It seems like a weird thing to say to someone making a significant life change. It’s almost offensive. Would people say that if we announced we were having a baby? The phrase has an implication that not only is failure a very realistic possibility, but that one will probably have to get lucky to avoid it. Now, I’m not suggesting there’s no luck involved in poker. Of course there is. But I put in enough volume that my skill edge comes to fruition quite frequently by the end of a single session and almost always by the end of a single month. I tend to have two or three losing months a year and I haven’t had a losing year since I started tracking 100% of my gambling activities at the start of 2011. It’s not like I’m someone that suddenly wants to open a restaurant with no prior experience. I’ve been playing poker at a high rate of success for over half a decade now. I can’t imagine that’s going to stop now. My bankroll is large enough that I can withstand substantial downswings at the highest limit I’ll play and still be able to pay our bills. I realize people are genuinely wishing me well most of the time when they say “good luck,” I just find it kind of amusing.

Still, it is kind of scary. I’m not really worried about the bottom falling out, but I would be lying if I said there were absolutely no nerves involved with my situation. I want to travel around the United States and play poker tournaments and those expenses will add up, as will the buy ins if I go through a cold stretch. Traveling and whiffing events is an easy way to turn a good month of cash games into a break even one and a decent month into an unprofitable one. Even though my tournament results have dramatically improved – to the point of surreal – in the past year or so, I know how easy it is to go long stretches without significant cashes. Also, even though I have proven beyond a doubt that I am a winning player at the $8/$16 level and the amount of money I could make in that game is livable, I have no intentions of being a professional $8/$16 limit hold em player. My goals are much larger. Currently, I want to play $20/$40 regularly and, quite frankly, I don’t have the data that confirms I can beat that level long term. I have about 90 hours under my belt and I’ve managed a 0.77 BB/HR win rate – which is fine – but that kind of sample size might as well be crumpled up and thrown in the trash; that’s how worthless that information is. What isn’t worthless is my success at the lower levels, my overall card sense, and the fact that my game never plateaus – I’m always looking for ways to improve and adapt. So while there’s no mathematical proof that I can make a living at the $20/$40 level, I feel like I will not only beat the game in the long run, but that I will also make the necessary adjustments to do extremely well. The biggest downswing I’ve taken at the $8/$16 level is -375 big bets (or -$6000) so one has to accept that a similar downswing will likely happen at the $20/$40 level. -375 big bets at $20/$40 is -$15,000! I can sustain that kind of bad luck financially, but man, that’s an intimidating number. Better get used to it though – it WILL happen. Hopefully later rather than sooner.

Another thing that’s come up in the past week is people wanting to talk to me about my career choice… at the poker table. And I absolutely loathe talking about poker at the poker table. I never talk about hands that just happened. I never talk about my results. When people ask me about Vegas I just say “I did okay” and try to deflect the conversation. When they ask me what I’m going to do since I quit my job at the casino, I say “I’ll figure something out.” I honestly have no interest in spouting off my successes at a table full of recreational players. Most people don’t want to hear someone talk about their poker resume and I’ve always found it kind of douchey when someone else does it… so I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t mind talking about poker one on one, but something about a crowd just makes me want to clam up. I’m not trying to be rude, I just think it’s the wrong time and place for it.

It’s an odd thing being a writer sometimes. Here I am sharing my poker life in detail, but I have little interest in actually talking about this stuff in person… partially because I’m an introvert, but mainly because the topic usually comes up in casinos… at poker tables. Ugh.

I had a whole bunch of stuff I wanted to say about tipping dealers – and I’ve written it out multiple times and deleted it – but it feels uncomfortable and kind of unnecessary. Poker is my only source of income now. I will be tipping a $1 a pot the vast majority of the time. It’s nothing personal. I tip over $10,000 a year. You guys are going to be okay.

Finally, the fact that I no longer will be working a day job 30 hours a week – which really wiped me out for three entire days – will allow me a lot of extra time to make blog posts. I will actually have real days off now and I’ll be able watch more movies and post reviews immediately and regularly. Also, thanks to Apple Music, I have immediate access to all the new music and I plan to keep an up-to-date playlist with miniature reviews and more in depth reviews of select albums once every few weeks or so. Please feel free to click the follow button below because I will be posting much more frequently now!

As far as poker goes, I haven’t really got into the groove of playing full time because we are working on our new house. I only played 20 hours in my first week. We should be done ripping up floors tonight, so this week should give me a taste of what’s to come. I’ll likely be putting in two $20/$40 sessions, two $8/$16 sessions and a $3/$5 spread session. I will be leaving on a road trip in about a week and a half that will have stops in L.A. and Vegas before landing in Reno for the full schedule of Jason Sommerville’s exciting Run It Up Series at the Peppermill Casino. The buy ins there will be relatively small and there are a lot of mix game events, which actually give me a bigger edge than usual. Either way, it should be a blast!