Archive for February, 2019

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Movie Reviews: Captain Marvel, Leaving Neverland, Alita: Battle Angel and others

February 28, 2019

Captain Marvel (2019) – This was not one of Marvel’s stronger films. I really like Brie Larson, even in this movie, but she was pretty much the only shining point. It was sort of funny and mildly entertaining, but that’s about it. There is a lot of hoopla about this being a female-led superhero movie and while I’m all for diversity in films, it doesn’t mean that Captain Marvel is actually good. Marvel has some history of producing forgettable villains and this movie adds to that list. I can’t even remember the villain’s name or what they were trying to do. Pretty forgettable, but probably still worth watching if you’ve made it this far and plan on seeing Avengers: End Game later this month. 5/10 (Decent)

Leaving Neverland (2019) – I have been a staunch Michael Jackson supporter ever since I read his biography by J. Randy Taraborrelli back in 2013. I did some other digging on top of that and I came away from all that convinced that he was a misguided and naive Man-Child that was likely innocent of all the accusations against him. This documentary definitively changed my mind. There is just no way Michael Jackson is innocent. He sexually abused multiple little boys. I don’t see any reason to doubt that. The two men revealing their stories here are incredibly convincing and their motives for both hiding the truth for so long and for speaking out now make total sense to me. At this point, the testimony is overwhelming, the circumstances are undeniably questionable and always have been, and in 2019, there is no excuse for shielding a monster just because he’s one of the most iconic musicians of all-time. This is an absolute must watch, especially for anyone that still thinks Michael Jackson was an innocent dude. 8/10 (Must Watch)

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) – I gave the first two movies a 7 and a 5, respectively, and this sequel was more in line with the quality of the second movie. Somewhat enjoyable, but mostly forgettable. 5/10 (Decent)

Alita: Battle Angel (2019) – Visually, this movie is pretty awesome, with some really good character design, and there were elements in place to make this a great underdog story, but it falls a little flat. There are some good action sequences and some fun highlights, but I wasn’t emotionally invested in the movie and I wanted to be. Rosa Salazar is fine in the lead role, but I thought a lot of the cast was phoning it in. Not that long ago, I considered Christoph Waltz for my top 5 actors list and I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve seen anything I’ve liked from him. Alita was a bit hokey and sort of bombed at the domestic box office, but I liked it enough that I’d at least watch a sequel. 5/10 (Decent)

First Reformed (2018) – This is one I’m pretty unsure about. Here’s what I know: it is powerful, Ethan Hawke is great in it, and it is a bit hard to swallow. Faith, terrorism, and mental illness are all big themes tackled in the movie and each one of those topics can be controversial, so there could definitely be some outrage while watching this one. First Reformed does a lot of things really well and I mostly enjoyed it quite a bit, even if I thought it all got a bit bizarre. I give it a recommendation, but with a warning that it could ruffle some feathers. 6/10 (Recommended)

Bird Box (2018) – Initially, I thought it was okay. I didn’t hate the experience of watching it, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more ridiculous I’ve realized this movie is. Basically, anyone that is saying Bird Box is awesome (and there are many) is either incredibly forgiving or very easy to please. This is a film that basically answers none of the questions it raises. It’s like if “Lost” only had one season… and that one season wasn’t good. Plus, Bird Box doesn’t make much sense. Apparently, some presence has arrived on earth that causes people to commit suicide if they look at it, but we never get any sort of idea what this presence looks like or where it comes from? Does that matter? Honestly, yes, I think so. Maybe a movie like A Quiet Place doesn’t answer some of these questions either, but at least it ratcheted the suspense and tension up by like a 100%. 3/10 (Bad)

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018) – A wonderful documentary about the story of Fred Rogers, a man better known as Mister Rogers and for his show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Fred Rogers was an incredible person and his level of genuine compassion for other people, and especially kids, is unmatched by any human I’m aware of. I’ve only seen two 2018 documentaries, but I’m surprised this didn’t get an Oscar nomination. If you were ever a fan of the man or the show, this is an obvious must watch. 8/10 (Must See)

The Wife (2018) – I thought this might be a must watch based on the strength of Glenn Close’s performance when it looked like she was a lock to win Best Actress, but Olivia Colman ended up winning, and deservedly so – she was better (and so was Lady Gaga). Still, Close is great in this movie, if not quite jaw-droppingly amazing. Unfortunately, while Close’s performance carries the film, it doesn’t elevate the movie to high levels of enjoyment. The story rubbed me the wrong way. Sure, maybe there are women out there that will stand by while their womanizing husband takes all the credit for their hard work and talent. And maybe they will do so for decades. Are we supposed to feel sorry or root for such a woman? Actually, there aren’t any likable people in this film. Close doesn’t get much support from the rest of her cast either. The guys that play the High Sparrow and Viserys Targarean on Game of Thrones combine forces to play the douchebag husband here and I couldn’t stand watching either of them on screen and not in the enjoyable way you can hate a character, like a Joffrey Baratheon or a Ramsey Bolton. This movie is basically one stellar performance away from being horrible. 3/10 (Bad)

The Invitation (2015) – Intense and enthralling, this was a very good slow burn thriller. Between this and last year’s Upgrade, Logan Marshall-Green has been the star of two awesome, but under-the-radar movies in the suspense/horror genre. 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

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$15/$30 Limit Hold’em @ Palace (Live Blog)

February 22, 2019

It’s been a minute since I’ve posted live updates on my blog. I got back from California feeling a bit uninspired and just wanted to focus on the poker and good thing I did! All that extra attention on the game allowed me to post a record-setting loss last weekend. Sweet.

I’ve put in three sessions since then.

On Monday, I played 9.25 hours of 8/16 and they inexplicably let me walk out of the building with $297 more than I came in with. Weird. Fun fact: that was my longest session of 8/16 since July of 2018.

On Wednesday, I played 3.75 hours of pot limit Omaha. I have to say I’m getting concerned about the status of that game. It might be drying up. It used to populate a pretty solid list and stay strong until at least midnight and even managed to get a second night on Thursdays. Well, the Thursday game is officially dead now and this past Wednesday was super fragile. I didn’t quit after 3.75 hours because I was running bad; I quit because there were two of us left at 9:45 PM. Pathetic. What used to be a mind-blowingly juicy game that was populated by a bunch of people that had no clue what they were doing has become the same 7-8 regulars starting the game every week – three of them pros – and very little traffic outside of that core group. I still think the game is good because of a couple of spots, but it’s definitely not amazing. Plus, it’s weak now. My interest level in playing a 4-hour session that starts at 6 PM is pretty small. I hope the game starts to pick back up. I really enjoy playing PLO and I don’t really want to travel on Wednesday nights.

My session was very unspectacular. I can only think of three hands of note.

In the first one, I limped in with ATT5 with a suited ace, called a raise in a multi-way pot, and check-potted a near pot-sized bet on T32 two tone. That raise got a fold. It always kind of baffles me when someone makes a pot-sized bet and folds on the flop. I’m no PLO expert, but that seems bad. Unless they have a total airball or are making genius laydowns with smaller sets. I dunno.

In the second hand, there are a bunch of limpers and I make it $25 to go with AKJT double suited from the big blind. This is not a pot-sized raise, it is simply an attempt to juice the pot with a hand that plays great multi-way. I want them all to call and they oblige. The flop is 986 with two hearts and one diamond. I have nut diamonds but not hearts, so this is a mediocre flop for me, but I do have a lot of backdoor potential. I really want to see a turn. I check and it checks to last position and he bets $125 into $150. That’s kind of brutal. I was on the fence about whether this is a spot I can call or not, but I eventually opted to call. I do have six outs to the nuts and there are so many great turns for me. Unfortunately, after I call, it folds to Part-Time – who was second-to-last to act on the flop – and he makes a maximum raise to $450. Wtf. Now the flop bettor (the same dude that bet-folded when I flopped top set in my first notable hand) folds. Good bet, dude. I have like $600 behind and Part-Time has me covered. I can’t call this raise and not play for stacks and I don’t really want to get it in here, so I fold also.

We are playing 3-handed when my last notable hand comes up. Aquaman raises to $15 on the button, I call with T986 double suited and the big blind also calls. The flop is J76 rainbow and it checks to Aquaman. I believe he bets $30. I pot it. The big blind repots. Aquaman folds. The big blind started the hand with less than $400 so I’m happy to get it in here with him. We run it once and his set of sixes holds up.

I finished PLO at -$618.

I wasn’t really planning to play poker yesterday, but The Leak and I somehow ended up at Palace anyway and I logged another 9+ hours of 8/16. Is this my life now? I don’t think I’m above playing 8/16. Winning a couple of racks at 8/16 means winning $400. That amount of money is not negligible to me. $400 pays our cell phone bill for two months. It’s most of our car payment. It’s one seat to see “Hamilton”. I actually really enjoy playing with higher stakes regs that are playing down and acting like the money doesn’t mean anything to them. When someone acts like a limit is beneath them, they almost universally play like shit and punt their chips around. I don’t care if I’m playing 8/16 or 4/8. I’m not punting. When I happen to sit in a 4/8 game I still play like my livelihood depends on it. I imagine I will always be like that. I hope so.

But still… I can recognize the fact that playing 8/16 is probably not the best use of my time. Make the damn drive to Fortune, you lazy ass.

My session yesterday started off as a massive struggle. I lost some pretty crazy pots.

My top 3:

-I have AT and open from late position and get heads up against one blind defender. The flop is A92 rainbow and I lose to his KT.

-I have AA in a multi-way pot and after betting the T88 rainbow flop, I wind up losing to someone holding 53. Granted, he was all in for $1 on the turn, but… come on.

-I have KQ of hearts and get the JT8 all heart flop. It doesn’t get much prettier than that… yet… I can’t beat K9o at showdown.

Fortunately, things picked up in the last few hours of my session when I won a massive pot with KQ when I flopped top two in a capped multi-way pot and turned a boat and followed it up with this strange hand:

Let me preface by saying I do not think I played this hand all that well. Four players limp in front of me, I limp along with 77 and it’s 6 or 7 of us to the T75 flop. It checks to me, I bet, the button raises, the small blind cold calls, and Master Splinter 3-bets it. My standard play is to go ahead and cap it here, collect all the flop bets, and hope someone still bets into me on the turn, but for some reason I decided to flat, planning to raise Splinter on the turn. The button caps it for me and four of us proceed to the turn.

The turn is an offsuit 6. It checks to me. This is why I should be capping the flop. People are willing to cram bets in on the flop but frequently slow down on the turn, so I need to get those extra bets in while I can. I do something risky here and check. The button raised and capped the flop so I expect him to continue bombing away here, but if he checks it back, this hand is a fucking disaster. He does bet, but then the small blind wakes up with a raise and Master Splinter calls two big bets cold. This is an interesting spot. The way this hand has played out, it sure looks like the small blind had a draw that got there on the turn. So… should I just be calling? Three different straights got there: 98, 84, and 43. I’m obviously most concerned about 98, as that hand makes the most sense, for any of my opponents to have really. But the small blind and button are both loose wild cards and I think that’s enough of an argument to warrant a 3-bet here. In the moment, I decided to proceed cautiously and just called. Button calls also.

The river is an offsuit jack and it checks to me. Now I’m officially bewildered. I actually started talking which is something I almost never do in a hand. I say to the small blind, “if you are check-raising here, it is the sickest,” and he replies with “if you bet, I’m raising” and part of me believes him. But I have a set of sevens, nothing changed, and it has checked to me on the river, indicating I have the best hand. So I put the bet out there. I think the button folds at that point and the small blind does check-raise me! Nasty. Master Splinter also folds, I put the call in, and the small blind immediately says, “you got it.”

LOL.

He flashed a ten and later claimed to have JT, but… who knows wtf is going on there.

That pot propelled to a +$454 for the day and the two 8/16 sessions at least made up for my PLO loss.

In other news, we have officially sold our previous house and my bankroll got a nice boost, even after paying off the remaining balance of my student loans. Good riddance!

Cards will be in the air around 4 PM. My goals for today are to complete the Coast-to-Coast Challenge and win $4000. Just the small stuff that I have total control over.

Check back in an hour for live updates.

Starting Lineup: Radio Mike, Flea, Chief Wiggum, random, Cobra, Part-Time, Master Splinter, Bulletproof

I am live for The Coast-to-Coast Challenge!

I opened with K9 of hearts from middle position on Radio Mike’s big blind on the first hand of the session, putting both of us at risk. He defended, as he must, and then check-folded when I flopped the nut flush draw on an ace high board.

Then I had half my sugar in posting the big blind with 44 and Master Splinter and Flea both raised the pot. I decided to gamble on The Challenge and hopped in.

Flop was K65 rainbow and I peeled when Flea bet because… I have to! Splinter folded and what do ya know… that’s a 4 on the turn! I check-raise and collect a bet on the river when I fill up.

I have $146 cushion to Coast with!

5:08 PM: Wiggum limps, I raise QQ, Part-Time 3-bets and Splinter caps it. Wiggum calls, as you should when you limp and it’s 4-bets back to you.

Four of us to the 973 two spade flop. We are in Overs now. Wiggum donks, I raise, the other two fold, and Wiggum calls. Wow. What an assist.

Turn is a ten and he check-calls.

River is the jack of spades and he donks again. I should probably just fold here, but all my sugar is in the pot now and The Challenge is on the line. I pay it off and lose to A6 of spades.

And The Challenge is dust.

6:12 PM: I’ve been struggling since losing with those queens and Flea continues to run way better than me when we tangle. I’ve whiffed AK a couple times now when he flopped a pair and just had 88 heads up vs him on J659J when he had JT.

6:22 PM: Part-Time limps, Wiggum raises from the cut and I 3 with KT of hearts. Both call.

Flop is 632 with two hearts and Part-Time donks, Wiggum raises and I just call. PT 3-bets, we both call, and having lost two big pots to rivered flushes, I can’t wait to brick this one off.

Turn is a 7 and PT bets and we both call again.

River is an ace and everyone checks.

Standard.

Part-Time turns over A4 of hearts and I’m kind of shocked I whiffed my draw with how I’ve been running. Wiggum has 44 and Part-Time takes it down.

Bulletproof opens and I defend with AKo.

Flop is 743 all diamonds and I check-call with the king of diamonds in my hand. I can definitely play offense here but I want to keep his range wide and make mine look weak, plus I have a hand I can showdown unimproved on most runouts.

Turn pairs the 3 and the river bricks off – a great runout for picking off bluffs but he has the 87 because how the hell can I beat that monster after this flop?

Currently working on -$850 already and wondering why I’m not allowed to win pots in this 15/30 game all the sudden.

6:58 PM: Misery loves company. Flea posts in the cut, the hijack open-limps, Flea checks, and I jack these two weak ranges up with the QJo on the button. Radio Mike 3-bets from the small blind and I ask, “how much do you want to bet neither of us win this hand?” The limper calls but Flea folds.

Flop is T32 rainbow and the two of us call Mike’s flop bet.

The turn is a welcome queen and I overcall again. I’m not thrilled to see Mike double barreling here, but I’m committed to showing this down now.

The river is a 9 and it goes bet and raise in front of me. Now I have an easy fold and Radio Mike turns over pocket aces before paying off the limper’s T9 offsuit.

7:32 PM: Bulletproof just informed me and Radio Mike that he turned in his Overs button, which prompts me to ask, “what? We aren’t running bad enough for you?”

Not only are we both square in the middle of solid losing sessions, but we are on epic overall downswings as well.

I turn to Mike and say, “can you imagine not wanting to play Overs with us right now?”

And… on cue… one limper, I raise A9 of spades and we go multi-way to 943 two spade flop and I go ahead and check since I’ve been checking every other fucking flop and I have two players behind me eager to punish my constant whiffs. Bulletproof bets on the button, a wild player check-raises and now I put in the 3-bet. They both call.

Turn is an offsuit king. I bet and Bulletproof raises me. Other guy folds. I already know. This dude is going to show me a king high fucking flush draw and win this pot.

River is a 2 and it goes check-check. He turns over the K8 of spades.

Insane.

But at least this ding dong kicked in his Overs button.

8:13 PM: Free flop with Q3o. I’m up against one limper and the small blind. Flop is 322 with two spades. I bet, get raised by the limper, and the small blind cold calls. Comical. Of course I get a flurry of action on the 322 flop. I call.

Turn is a queen. I donk. They both call. Pretty happy to dodge the check-raise from the small blind.

River is an offsuit 6. I bet and the limper calls. He turns over 54o because how the hell could I possibly be good when I get flatted on the river here?

8:24 PM: Part-Time straddles button, someone calls, I raise with 99 and they both call.

Flop is 632 two tone and Part-Time and I get it capped and the third player drops out after putting in two bets.

I took a passive line with top pair against Part-Time in a recent hand and it 100% cost me the pot, so I’m not about to let that happen again. If I’m behind here, I guess I’m going to lose the bets but…

…when the turn comes an 8, I’m not about to let him check behind. I bet in Overs and he shows me mercy by just calling.

River pairs the 3, I bet and he folds!!! Holy shit. The bleeding has stopped.

For now.

9:13 PM: Heating up.

First, I defend K4cc in a raised pot and check-call a jack high flop that gives me a flush draw. Turn is a king and the player with the betting lead is super loose so I go ahead and check-raise and I’m surprised to see Radio Mike take two big bets cold. The splashy player also calls. I’m not sure where I’m at here.

Fortunately, the river is the best card in the deck: the ace of clubs. I bet and Radio Mike calls with what he said was QT.

A while later there’s a flurry of action and it’s 3-bet to me in a multi-way pot holding T8 of hearts in the big blind. I’m happy to see a flop here, so I put the call out.

It comes down A65 with two hearts and one spade. The small blind donks right out, I call and so do some others.

Turn is the 9 of spades, giving me 3-4 more outs and I call again.

Three of us left for the 4 of hearts on the river. Small blind still leads but he’s not a cautious player and I can see the other player is going to fold so I raise it up and get called by AJ of spades.

Finally, hitting some draws. It’s been a while.

I have now won the last four pots I’ve contested and have a little upward momentum.

9:24 PM: In less good news, we have traded Flea for The Invisible Man and the borderline maniac for Mighty Mouse, which is like the nut low exchange in both cases.

9:40 PM: Open with A7hh and only get the two blinds as opponents. Flop is 986 with two hearts… will the hot streak continue? I bet and they both call.

Turn is a black queen. I bet and they both call again.

River is a black jack. They check to me. I was planning to give up but this a great river to bet when they both check. It’s pretty weird to check a straight on this runout so I assume neither of them has one and fire the last clip, mostly targeting one pair hands. The small blind folds but the big blind is thinking about it, turns away from the table, pays for his food, phones a friend and absentmindedly comes back with the call. K9 is good.

10:31 PM: Back to more losing, but there’s good news. I have acquired the Jesus Seat without even moving: the four loosest players are on my right and the four tightest players are on my left.

11:18 PM: I can’t really make sense of this one. Master Splinter opens and the small blind calls and his entry into the pot is enough reason for me to defend the 63 of clubs.

We see the K53 with two clubs flop and I opt for a check-raise when the small blind folds. Splinter calls.

The turn is an offsuit 7, giving me straight outs and I continue to barrel, hoping I might fold out pairs less than a king, plus I have enough hand strength to stand a raise. He does raise. I call.

River is a nine of diamonds and I check it over and… he checks and says, “you got it.” I’m skeptical but I turn over my hand and he shows the AJ of clubs. I suppose he doesn’t think I’m ever folding river when I bet-call the turn, but I can’t imagine ever calling if he fires the river.

A nice break.

12:15 AM: Heating up again. I call a raise in a multi-way pot with 33 and get the very difficult to play 833 flop. Unfortunately, the flop bet does come from my right so I’m not able to put a flop raise in, but I do get a raise in on the turn and a payoff.

Then I open the AT of diamonds, get 3-bet, check-call the QJ8 flop and snap off a 9 on the turn and get Overs bets on the turn and river.

Meanwhile, The Leak has turned a near -6 rack session into a winner, giving schlubs like Radio Mike and myself hope that we too, some day, can pull our heads out of our asses and figure this thing called poker out.

1:02 PM: I made a joke via group text earlier that I am running so bad that I’m folding on the button when it folds to me and I have Radio Mike and The Invisible Man in the blinds. Radio Mike is in the small in this situation and trends pretty tight and The Invisible Man has a defending range of about 6%, so it’s a pretty automatic spot with any reasonable hand.

But now I have a little extra pep in my step after winning some pots and the last two times it folded to me, I jacked it up without looking. The first time they both folded, but the second time Radio Mike 3-bet and I looked down at the powerhouse known as 93 offsuit. Normally I would cap it here with a hand so good, but I decide to play it coy and disguise my strength by just calling.

The flop is TT9 and when Radio Mike leads out, I feel like if I call it’s going to be obvious that I have at least a 9 and I probably have at least a deuce kicker, so I go ahead and play it straight up, jacking him up on the flop because I should be doing decently against his small blind 3-betting range. He calls.

The turn is a 6 and he check-calls again. I think Mike is capable of having big pairs in his range still so I’m not planning to bet river.

A queen of spades hits the river and that is definitely not a good card for me, so I’m happy to see him check and I really didn’t want to show this hand down, but here we are. He tables the 88 and I say, “you’re going to hate this” and table my piece of cheese and put a quick halt to the little bit of momentum he was finally picking up. All because I had to pick on the blinds of a couple of nits.

And honestly, I don’t feel very good about it.

Seriously.

1:47 AM: And suddenly the game has imploded. We were full with a list like 20 minutes ago and now we are 5-handed… after two new players sat down. Quite the exodus.

No more live updates. I’ll post a result when I’m done.

1:49 AM: The Invisible Man is limping in with JJ 5-handed. What a boss. Okay now I’m done updating.

2:26 AM: Good thing I played some short-handed poker. I was so close to even, sitting at about -$100, when I picked up KQ of spades in the big blind and 3-bet when the button opened.

Flop was 963 and my c-bet got called.

When the turn paired the 9 and gave me a flush draw, I decided to check-raise because this player always bets when I check to him in a spot like this. So… he has a pretty weak range when he bets here. I picked a good time to take this line because he powns me with a 3-bet. I call.

And… bink! 2 of spades on the river. I check and raise! And he 3-bets. Come on. I call and he has 66.

And then I spewed off a few more hundred before quitting the game.

Final Score: -$664

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The Favourite (2018)

February 21, 2019

The Favourite (2018)
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Dogtooth)
Starring: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult

Anticipation Level: Strong

How Was It? There were a lot of things done extremely well in The Favourite. First off, the acting from the three female leads was top notch. This is Emma Stone’s earliest period piece and while she mostly blends in to the time period, she also adds the slightest tinge of modernity, a touch that I actually enjoyed. Even better is Rachel Weisz, someone I used to think of as a poor (wo)man’s Kate Winslet, but director Yorgos Lanthimos seems to bring out the best in her, as she was also great in his last film The Lobster. Olivia Colman gives the film’s best performance though, as she is utterly devastating as Queen Anne, and delivers the only challenge to Lady Gaga for Best Actress that I’ve seen so far.

The Favourite is also a rather beautiful film. The production design, costumes, hairstyle and makeup are all Oscar-worthy. And I loved the music. It is hard to ignore and really elevates the mood.

All that said, I thought The Favourite was a bit challenging and not necessarily in a good way. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. While the tension between the three leads is easy enough to follow, I couldn’t follow the politics happening outside the castle or their implications on the story and the last 15 minutes or so of the movie really lost me. When it ended, I was like, “wait… what?” I had to go online and read a plot synopsis to get it. And that did make me like it more. While I have no probably having to dig a little deeper to understand a film, I just can’t pretend like The Favourite was an overwhelmingly pleasant experience for me. It’s a high brow art house flick – which I’m not opposed to – but the 30% discrepancy between the critics score (94%) and the audiences score (65%) says a lot about how the general population feels about The Favourite. Lanthimos’ The Lobster was way stranger, but also super creative and more entertaining to me.

I would still recommend The Favourite because it’s extremely well made, has fantastic performances, and a good amount of entertainment value, but if you’re predisposed to disliking period films, you can go ahead and skip this one. It certainly didn’t blow me away.

Replay Value: Like Roma, when I like a movie substantially less than the critics, I’m open to giving it another watch to see if it grows on me.

Sequel Potential: None.

Oscar Potential: 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and acting noms for all three actresses. In addition, The Favourite garnered nods for Original Screenplay, Production Design, Costume Design, Cinematography, and Film Editing. I’m partial to Black Panther, but I’ll be surprised if The Favourite doesn’t win Oscars for both Production and Costume Design. Also, I’m kind of shocked the film didn’t get nominated for Best Score and Hairstyle and Makeup.

Dina Meter: I’m guessing this is a hard pass for Dina.

6/10 (Recommended)

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Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

February 19, 2019

Happy Death Day 2U (2018)
Director: Christopher Landon (Happy Death Day, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones)
Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Ruby Modine

Anticipation Level: Modest

How Was It? Even though I really enjoyed the first Happy Death Day, I had somewhat modest expectations for this sequel. First off, sequels to horror movies tend to decrease in quality with each new entry and second, the trailer for Happy Death Day 2U showed way too damn much in it.

I think fans of the first film will mostly find themselves enjoying this movie – Jessica Rothe is still great as Tree in the lead role and the mystery of “who did it?” is still fun to unravel. However, unlike the first movie, where I was basically pleased with every aspect of it except for the ending, Happy Death Day 2U presents more problems. Naturally, this movie delves into the how of the time loop and we get stuff like parallel dimensions and time-warping machines named Sissy. Credit to the writers for trying to branch out, but all the algorithm and trial and error stuff makes for a less fun movie. While the montage of Tree killing herself each day as her friends try to win the science fair is great (if you didn’t already see it all in the damn trailer), they need every minute of every repeat day to, uh, solve things, and she’s seen jumping out of planes and into wood chippers in broad daylight. Do they not get how time sensitive this thing is?

Oh, and the ending blew. It makes the ending in the first movie seem like The Sixth Sense.

For the most part, I somewhat enjoyed Happy Death Day 2U. I really think Jessica Rothe is stellar in these movies and I felt myself rooting hard for her character. Somewhere amidst all the science-fiction stuff, the movie finds a way to pull at the heart strings and find moments of genuine emotional impact. All in all though, I was disappointed and the more I think about the movie, the less I liked it. Go see it if you liked the first one and brace yourself.

Replay Value: I enjoyed watching the original again this past weekend, but this one would be less fun to watch again but…

Sequel Potential: …when they make the inevitable Happy Death Day 3, I will watch it again.

Oscar Potential: None.

Dina Meter: Dina never saw the first one, but I think she’d like it. This one, she would like less.

5/10 (Decent)

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My Worst Weekend Ever

February 18, 2019

I can’t pretend like I’ve faced a lot of adversity in the 15/30 game at Palace. This is what my lifetime graph in the game looked like before Friday night:

A little bit of a slow start, a long period of absolutely crushing, a somewhat sizable breakeven stretch and back to more crushing.

It’s not like it’s a small sample either. This is nearly 700 hours running at 1.95 big bets an hour. Sick numbers.

I usually live blog my Friday sessions but I was feeling uninspired this weekend and, well, I’m glad I took a break.

This is what my Friday night blog would have looked like:

I raised with this hand and whiffed.

I raised with this hand, flopped top pair, and lost.

I lost. I lost. I lost.

I don’t remember winning a single hand of consequence.

I do remember going 0 for 6 against Flea at showdown and half of those hands was me opening from late position and him defending from a blind – a highly advantageous scenario for me.

I basically lost every hand I played for seven hours and decided to quit at -$1651 and went home before midnight on a Friday.

Pathetic.

Amazingly, Saturday started off even worse. Rather than mostly whiffing every flop, I was either starting with big hands or connecting hard with the flop… and then losing. That’s the hemorrhaging kind of losing rather than the slow, steady drip type of losing I did the previous night.

Needless to say, I wasn’t in the mood for that shit. I started my session at 4:30 and I was ready to quit by 6:30, already stuck $800 and losing in horrible fashion. The Leak was telling to go home.

I didn’t though and things started to turn around. I had JJ against Part-Time’s AA and after exchanging multiple bets pre and on the flop, I called down on 9832 before betting a river jack when he checked to me.

Unfortunately, there was a third player in the pot and he had T7 and rivered a straight, meaning I was drawing completely dead. Even though the third player is an action guy, I resisted the urge to 3-bet the river and accepted the fact that he probably had a straight.

Here’s how you know it’s time to leave: there are limpers and a raise in front of me and I 3-bet with AQo from the cutoff. Flea caps the button, a mostly tight-solid player takes all that action to the face from the small blind and then donks right out on a Q97 rainbow flop. I already hate it. Then the action player calls and Part-Time raises. This is what I meant when I said it might be time to go home: I tanked and I seriously considered folding. Is there merit to folding here? Maybe. Two different players are betting and raising right into the preflop 3-bettor and capper. That’s pretty strong.

But if I’m folding AQ on Q97 rainbow in a 4-bet pot, what the fuck am I even doing playing poker? This is LIMIT Hold’em. I just have to hang on and call down and hope I win. This is not a spot I think I should be raising.

So I do end up calling and I’m happy to see the small blind just call. He’s not the type of player that would flat with better than AQ here and try to check-raise the turn.

The turn is a jack and that is not a good card for my hand and it’s made even worse when the action player donks out. Part-Time calls and I could be drawing dead but I can’t fold now. Small blind also calls.

The river is a 5 and it goes bet and call in front of me. I don’t think I have the best hand, but if I folded here and was wrong it would be catastrophic so I make the overcall and the action player shows J9 for two pair and Part-Time has 86 for a straight.

Cool.

I already have a bad case of the MUBS (Monsters Under the Bed Syndrome) so when I open AK, get two calls and the flop comes down AAQ, I’m practically begging to lose the hand. I want the pain. Two opponents? Two blind defenders? Deck crippled? I can do it. I really think I can.

I bet and they both call. Good start.

Turn is a 7 and they both call again.

River pairs the 7 and I get check-called by A3.

I mean… it’s kind of like losing, right?

This is my best result in my first four hours of play. I’m already down over $1000.

A short while later, I finally catch a break. I 3-bet the action player with 55 after he opens from MP and then I c-bet the KT3 with two hearts flop. He calls.

I catch a magic 5 on the turn and then I get check-raised. Before I get too excited it is worth noting that the turn is a heart, putting a three flush on board. Against some players I would just call here, but against this dude, I have to put the raise in. He calls.

Whatever worries I had about him having a flush are alleviated when the 3 pairs on the river. I bet and he calls.

Holy shit. Finally. A much, much needed substantial pot.

I feel a minor weight released from my shoulders.

And then he turns over pocket tens.

How? How is that a thing?

The guy even says he thought I had a flush so his river check-call has to be born out of pure pity.

I’m disgusted.

Then I beat Flea at showdown for the first time in two sessions and things actually did start to turn around for me. For real this time.

I bottomed out at -$1600 and slowly rallied back to -$400 and then I flopped the nut flush draw in a big pot that would have had me in the green, but… I whiffed. And then I got cold again.

In the midst of this new downward spiral I got the KT8sss flop with AsK in a 4-bet pot and ran into pocket kings and failed to improve.

A half hour later I was back to -$1600.

Then I flopped an ace with AJ in a 4-bet multi-way pot and I was -$1850.

I had like ten chips in front of me. I took a break and thought about whether I wanted to quit or not. Most likely, I was only going to play for an hour or so longer, so making a full reload didn’t make a lot of sense. But I also wasn’t about to sit back down and try to play 15/30 with less than $150 front of me.

The game was good. Very good. And we had two cars at Palace.

I was hurting. For sure. I wanted to quit. Just accept defeat and leave. Come back and fight another time.

But the game was good and after some stretching and breathing, I decided to commit.

I sat back down with another $1800 and text my wife that I wasn’t going hiking the next day, nor was I going to be productive in any sort of way.

I was going to play deep into the night and fight for my chips back.

I actually started to make a comeback, maybe getting as low as -$900, but it just wasn’t meant to be for me this session.

The wheels fell off again and at 5:15 AM, this hand came up:

Guy on my right playing hyper-aggressive opens from mid and I 3-bet to isolate with 55. Flea caps on the button and we both call.

The flop is J82 rainbow. Flea bets and the other dude calls. I’m getting 14-1 here and there’s some chance I have the best hand. Flea will cap light and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him not c-bet with the betting lead, so I’m not giving him tons of credit here and the other dude is check-raising 100% of the time he has a pair of 8s or better. I peel.

The turn gives me a set and now I get a check-raise in and two big bets from both my opponents.

The river is an offsuit 6. I bet, Flea calls, and the other guy check-raises me.

Unreal.

This seems like a spot I should be 3-betting but while this guy is absurdly aggressive, he’s not clueless. I don’t think he’d even check-raise 86… and if he’s not check-raising that hand… then I can’t really imagine what hands I want him to call three bets with.

I don’t think he would show up with 66 here so I actually call out “97 of spades” (because there are two spades on turn) and decide to just call.

Sure enough, that is the exact hand he shows me. Not that it needed to be spades. I’m sure he’d continue on turn with all the suited 97s.

I was already racked up and prepared to leave on account of being tired, so I played til my big blind and quit around 5:20 AM.

I finished at -$1746 in 13 hours.

That put me at -$3397 for the two days and while I knew it was my biggest cash game loss in a 2-day period, I wondered how many times I’ve ever lost 50+ big bets in back-to-back sessions.

I did have back-to-back losses of 44 big bets as recently as December of 2018 in the 15/30 game.

In April of 2017 I followed up a 47 big bet loss with a 56 big bet loss. That basically counts, but doesn’t meet the terms exactly.

In December of 2015 I had a four session stretch where I lost 40 big bets, 45 big bets, 57 big bets, and 73 big bets. That is insane.

I found one! In October of 2015 I had a 69 big bet loss and I went out and lost 55 big bets in my very next session.

So I guess this weekend’s loss is not without precedent, but you can see how often this kind of thing happens. About once a year?

So yes… an epic bad weekend, but really that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Since that disastrous trip to Las Vegas on Super Bowl Sunday I’ve gone on a -$9146 spiral over my last 108 hours.

I’m pretty sure that’s my worst cash game downswing ever, over any stretch, and it is such a super small sample size.

Hopefully it isn’t just the beginning.

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Roma (2018)

February 18, 2019

Roma (2018)
Director: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity, Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Y Tu Mama Tambien)
Starring: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira

Anticipation Level: Modest

How Was It? Roma is a heavy favorite to win Best Picture this Sunday. As you can see from my level of anticipation, despite all the hype around Roma, I just wasn’t all that excited for it. I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe because no one I know personally has told me it was great. Alfonso Cuaron is one of my favorite directors and every movie he’s made since Y Tu Mama Tambien in 2001 has cracked my top 10 for the year.

I very much wanted to be blown away. I wasn’t. Well, I sort of was. A lot of the praise heaped on Roma is due to writer/director/cinematographer Alfonso Cuaron’s ridiculous visual presentation. It is a truly beautiful film – shot in black and white, yet full of vibrant life. Visually, Roma deserves all the adoration it has received. I just wasn’t emotionally invested in the story. From my understanding, Roma is largely inspired by Cuaron’s own childhood and the main maid/nanny character of Cleo is based on his family’s own maid/nanny from when he was growing up. In fact, I just read that 90% of the scenes in the movie are taken from Cuaron’s own memories. That actually makes this movie substantially cooler. Still, on my first viewing, I found the pace of Roma to be a bit of a drag and the most powerful scenes in the film didn’t affect me as much as I suspect they were supposed to. Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira both got Oscar noms for their acting in this movie and while I can see how Aparicio got nominated, it’s not as clear why de Tavira did; I thought she was solid but nothing spectacular. Aparicio had zero acting experience prior to this movie and only auditioned for the role because she “had nothing better to do” and didn’t even know who Alfonso Cuaron is. The fact the she is now an Oscar-nominated actress is quite an amazing story.

Honestly, I think I owe Roma another watch, but after my first viewing, I felt underwhelmed. It is definitely a gorgeous and intimate film, but I’m sorry, it was a bit *gasp* boring. It is a must watch film because it’s probably going to win a lot of Oscars – including Best Picture – and the cinematography is top notch, but if you don’t care about the technical aspects of making films (I do) and simply want to be entertained, Roma will probably disappoint. I do think this is a film that could end up growing on me.

Replay Value: I’m willing to give it another chance and see if it impacts me more on a second viewing.

Sequel Potential: None.

Oscar Potential: Roma is nominated for ten Oscars and seems like the favorite to win Best Picture. Even more of a lock is Alfonso Cuaron for Best Director and Best Cinematography. Roma is also a lock to win Best Foreign Language Film. I mentioned the two actresses have nominations and Roma also has nods for Original Screenplay, Production Design, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing. I would be pretty surprised if Roma doesn’t notch at least four Oscars on Sunday night.

Dina Meter: I wonder… I kind of feel like Dina would quit this film pretty early but there are some things I think she’d like.

6/10 (Recommended)

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Cali Trip Report and PLO Hands

February 13, 2019

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So I’ve basically been in Los Angeles for three weeks straight with a little mini-trip home for a weekend in between.

To illustrate, I’ve played 5.5 hours at Palace (my home court) since January 18th.

I’ve been gone a lot. And I feel discombobulated. Unorganized. Tilty even?

I was playing on Global Poker last night and after establishing a new record number of bullets fired in the $7K rebuy, I actually had to unregister some tournaments because I knew I was in total C-game mode. Somehow I managed to take 3rd in the $5.50 PLO rebuy to almost salvage my night.

I’m totally off my routine and I have to admit it’s throwing my shit off completely. I’m excited to get back into the routine of normal life and start being productive again.

But first! A recap of my Cali trips:

  • 1/20: +$135 in 5 hours of 20/40 LHE @ Commerce
  • 1/21: 18th of 186 for -$120 in $350 Omaha 8 tournament @ Commerce
  • 1/22: -$350 in Triple Stud tourney @ Commerce
  • 1/22: +$69 in 1.5 hours of 20/40 LHE @ Bike
  • 1/22: +$161 in 3.5 hours of 20/40 Mix @ Bike
  • 1/23: +$1945 in 10.5 hours of 20/40 LHE @ Bike
  • 1/24: -$350 in Stud 8 tourney @ Commerce
  • 1/24: +$4 in 2.5 hours of 8/16 Stud 8/Big O @ Commerce
  • 1/25 to 1/29: back in Washington
  • 1/30: -$700 in Limit Hold’em tourney @ Commerce
  • 1/31: -$350 in HORSE tourney @ Commerce
  • 1/31: +$1235 in 5.5 hours of 40/80 LHE @ Commerce
  • 2/1: +$5035 in 11.5 hours of 40/80 LHE @ Bike
  • 2/2: -$350 in NL HORSE tourney @ Commerce
  • 2/3: -$9 in 1 hour of 20/40 LHE @ Bellagio
  • 2/3: -$2177 in 2 hours of 40/80 LHE @ Bellagio
  • 2/4: -$570 in Omaha 8 tourney @ Commerce
  • 2/4: -$555 in 2.75 hours of 7 Card Stud @ Commerce
  • 2/5: +$1708 in 10.25 hours of 40/80 LHE @ Bike
  • 2/6: -$2060 in 8.25 hours of 40/80 LHE @ Bike
  • 2/7: -$570 in HORSE tourney @ Commerce
  • 2/8: Day off
  • 2/9: +$20 in 9 hours of 20/40 LHE @ Bike
  • 2/9: +$184 in 4.75 hours of 40/80 LHE @ Bike

Cash games: +$5695 in 78 hours

Tournaments: -$3360 in 48 hours

Meh. You can do the math there. It was an okay trip, but when you factor in expenses it basically equates to a huge waste of time… except one thing! I got a lot of experience at the 40/80 level. That is valuable.

Actually…. if you erased that insane trip to Las Vegas from my results ledger, it would look a whole lot better. Not amazing… but I could probably at least label it a good trip.

Gosh damn Flipper.

The tournament side of things was a massive disappointment. I cashed only one time in eight events – which is only slightly below average – but I was in two bullets when I cashed and still managed to lose money in the event. More annoyingly, I never made an actual interesting run in any of the LAPC events. I never had a stack at a stage of the tournament where I really thought I had a chance to do some serious damage.

Sometimes it makes you wonder… why bother?

Sigh. Next year!

I’m back at Palace tonight for some PLO. I’ll jot notes and post some hand histories later and probably publish tomorrow (Thursday).

Starting Lineup: Kitsap Reg, 8/16 Reg, Part-Time, Charlie Hustle, Hit&Run, JOKER, Lee Markholt, Crypt Keeper

Notable Pots:

I make it $15 with AAJ2 with a suited ace in clubs and get 5-way action to the Q54 rainbow flop. I start with a check, Hit&Run bets $75 and everyone else folds. It’s not a great spot, but I’m against a player that can have a hand as weak as a pair of queens with no draws here. Plus I do have a gutshot and a club is on the board. It’s not much of a hand, but I think I have to continue here.

The turn is the king of clubs, giving me the nut flush draw and another gutshot, and I have a very easy check-call when he makes a weak-looking bet of $125. I can’t remember what the stack sizes were at this point, but there’s probably some merit to check-potting here. His bet size seems like weakness, so I think I might have a decent amount of fold equity here and I have a lot of outs when I do get called, but Hit&Run makes some super marginal calls and he’s not the kind of player I’m trying to get to fold better hands. I just call.

The river pairs the 4 and he makes another bet in the $125 range and that card and bet size gives me the snappiest of calls. That sizing was already weak on the turn, so it’s pathetic on the river. He shows QJ75 (with bad clubs) and the 4 counterfeited his two pair and gives me a winner. Like I said, that’s a hand that should be folding if it gets raised to $425 on the turn and I honestly don’t think he’d make that lay down so that’s why I just check-call instead of trying to exploit the weakness I was sensing.

I believe I limped along with the TT86 with clubs in this hand and bet $10 when it checked to me on the Tc9c6s flop. I had top set, a gutshot, and a bad flush draw and the 8/16 Reg check-called. The turn brought the only club I wanted to see – the 7 – and gave me a straight flush. I bet $20 and he check-called again. I remember sizing down in this spot because I had just played a hand against the same player where I took a much stronger line and thought he might incorrectly smell weakness here. The river brought a blank and I decided to pot it and he folded.

There’s a series of limpers and Part-Time makes it $30 on the button. I call with KQT9 with a suit and most of the others call as well. Flop is Q86 rainbow and it checks around. The turn completes the rainbow with a ten and gives me top two pair. Despite the lack of flush draws, the board is pretty coordinated here, so I send it around again and the Kitsap guy bets $125 and everyone else folds. It’s not a great spot and I think folding might actually be best here, but I decide to see another card. The river is a blank and we both check. I show my top two pair and then five minutes later he shows me top set.

There’s a raise from early position and multiple callers and I defend the big blind with AQ52 single suited with spades. The flop is K43 with two spades, giving me a wheel wrap and a queen high flush draw. I decide to start with a check, the PFR checks, Joker bets $50, it folds to Part-Time in the small blind and he calls, and with somewhere around $600 in front of me I’m going with the hand and pot it. Joker makes what looks like a painful fold, but Part-Time almost immediately puts me all in. He has a set of fours and only wants to run it once and the turn card pairs the board and just like that I am felted.

I reload for $800 and it doesn’t take long for me to raise it up to $30 with AAK6 single suited with hearts and get it all in again with Part-Time on the T73hh flop. I bet $125 on the flop and by doing so, I knew I was committing myself to seeing all five cards, so we ran it once again. Part-Time has a set of 7s this time, someone says they folded three hearts, but somehow I river a flush anyway. Not that it matters. The board immediately paired on the turn and I’m felted again.

I was having a pretty middling session up to that point and just like that, in about 15 minutes, I lost around $1500 in two hands. I took a lap around the building and decided that I couldn’t possibly quit at 9 PM, three hours into my first session back in Washington, so I reloaded another $1000.

I make it $20 with an AA hand and can’t recall either of my side cards. Maybe because the flop was A82 rainbow and I didn’t them? I bet $20 and both Part-Time and the Kitsap player call. Turn is the ten of spades, opening up a flush draw and a lot of straight draws, so I pot it this time and only one player calls. The river brings in the flush, but it’s a 2! I’m pretty sure my remaining opponent has a hand he can call with so I bet $200 and he does call… and shows a set of 8s and the nut flush. Yikes! It’s nice to win a pot here, but after the hand all I can think about is how I would have doubled up if Part-Time had his hand.

By now, Aquaman has made a very surprising appearance in this game and he gives me a very kind assist in this next pot. Someone opens to $15 and I call with JT75 double suited from the blinds. The flop is K96 rainbow, but has one of each of my suits on board, plus I have a sneaky double gutter that only makes nut straights. I check, there’s a $75 bet, Aquaman calls, and I’m happy to continue here as well. The turn completes the rainbow with a blank-looking 3, but that card actually gives me the elusive triple gutshot! I check, the flop bettor fires $200 on the turn, and Aquaman calls again, leaving himself with just under $300 behind. The fact that Aquaman just calls here instead of jamming leads me to believe he’s on a draw, so he probably has at least one of the same straight draws as I do. Still, I don’t see how I can fold here so I call and I’m desperately rooting for a 4 on the river because that card will look like a total brick. I’m planning to check-raise 4s and lead with 8s and queens. The river is an 8, I bet $300 and they both end up folding. Later, Aquaman asks if he would have potted the flop or turn would I have called and says he had a set of 9s. Uhm… hell no, I wouldn’t call.

There’s a series of limpers to me in the big blind and I make a pot sweetener raise to $20 with AKJT double suited and they all call. The flop is an incredibly sexy AQ8 with two clubs and a spade, giving me ALL the draws… plus top pair. I bet $60 and get calls from Charlie Hustle and Joker. The turn pairs the 8 and that card is a bit annoying to me because if either of these guys has an 8 it basically destroys my hand. However, my hand still looks like it could be AA, so I bet out $125 and Charlie Hustle immediately calls. Sigh. I’m done with it. The river is a ten and that gives me a straight and I am not planning to call a bet here. Part of me is tempted to pot it if he bets (since I can still have AA) but even though this guy has a lot of nitty tendencies, I don’t ever see him make big folds. We both check and he shows A8. I can’t remember his exact side cards, but I ran a sim on this hand and my equity vs his A8 on the flop is over 70%. Pretty disgusting.

I had a -$233 showing while playing 8/16 before PLO started and finished PLO at -$394. Considering I was stuck $1700 for the day one point, I was pretty happy with that end result.