Monday, August 7, 2017

Back in Action

I've made a bunch of recent visits to MGM National Harbor; but, generally, I end up spending the day mashing that sweet, sweet video poker, drinking $8 bud lites and grabbing steaks at Voltaggio Brothers.  This Saturday, however, I made the trip early afternoon intent on playing some $1/3 NL.

I rolled up around noon, and began the day with a bit of 100 hand VP mainly to burn through some free play.  I ended up grinding $100 to $200 and decided to get some lunch at Tap Sports bar.  By the time I finished, there was no wait in the poker room, so I hopped on the 8 seat on Table 37.  As I was sitting down, the gentleman in the seven seat says, "I hope you brought your Helmut . . ."  Turns out, he was the guy I needed it for....

The table ended up playing absurd.  Mr. 7 Seat (late 40's, overweight white guy) saw every flop over the course of my three hour session.  Literally. Every. Flop.  With the exception of one, which I'll get to . . .  He would limp . . . he would open raise . . . but, usually, he would limp-call.  Any. Amount.  He'd limp $3 and call a $15 raise.  He'd limp $3 and call short stack's shove of $60 . . . He'd limp $3 and call a three-bet.  Didn't matter.  As he was fond of saying, "I like to see the flop . . ."  He also, apparently, liked to see a turn.  He'd call most every flop bet.  Most, but not all.  He could, occasionally, find a fold. 

And, the first hour or so, Mr. 7 Seat could not miss.  He'd river runner, runner flush . . . he'd river trips . . . he'd river a full house . . . Usually, with hands like T 6 off.  And, when he got there, he'd generally say something like, "only way I could play that board . . ."

As a result of Mr. 7 Seat's play, the game in general played big with people trying to get money in against him.  Hands generally played out preflop like this:  $3 limp, call, call, raise to $20 . . . Mr. 7 Seat calls $20 . . . Call, Call, Call. So, pots were often $100+ by the flop.

Ultimately, variance evened out and Mr. 7 seat busted as I was away from the table grabbing an $8 bud lite.  I came back as he was rebuying and commented, "did you play any hands while I was gone?"  He was less than amused....  Over the course of the next hour or so, he added another $400 to $600 as he continued to see every flop.  It wasn't clear to me what the point of his game was.  There are easier (and more fun) ways to pure gamble through a few grand.  In any event . . .

I had little luck.  After winning an early hand against Mr. 7 Seat with 99 on a 952 board, I went card dead.  At one point, I picked up an OESFD with J8 . . . bet flop and turn . . . missed . . . and was planning on betting the river with a bomb bluff, before Mr. 7 seat fired off $120 before I had a chance . . .

I picked up QQ at one point, opened to $15, and got called in 5 spots.  Flop came out 8, 7, 3 rainbow,  I lead, got a call, then a raise, and a caller to the raise.  I ended up laying the ladies down . . .

Then, this hand, about 3 hours in:

Sitting on approximately $275, I look down at KK under the gun and open to $15 (or $17 . . . can't recall).  I get two calls, then older Asian guy three-bets to $50.  It folds to Mr. 7 Seat who . . . you guessed it  . . . calls the $50.  He likes to see flops, u see . . .  So, now I'm in a spot.  If I flat $50, chances are we are going 4 or 5 to the flop, with a $200 or so pot.  I need to 4-bet here.  But, with $260 or so behind, it's awkward.  I end up re-raising to $150, which basically commits me to the hand.  It folds around to Asian who quickly jams (he has me covered).  Shockingly, Mr. 7 Seat says, "this is a bit too much . . ." (um, $400+ preflop is too much to call with ATCs?  Wow.  What a tightwad).   So, now I figure Mr. Asian has AA. But the pot is $500+ and I only have $130 or so left.  Resignedly, I put it in and, of course, get shown AA . . .

Down $400 in 3 hours, and not having much fun given the table dynamic, I decide not to rebuy...

Instead, I play a bit more 100-hand VP before I leave, and win another $300 (making it up $400 for the day), and leave the joint even on the afternoon . . . Easy game  . . .

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Musings on the Investigation

Let's start off with a few points:
First, I believe it's beyond doubt that Russia interfered with the 2016 election.  It may not have rigged vote tallies or physically interfered with voting apparatus; but it intentionally took action to, and likely did, influence votes through hacking, social media and otherwise. 
Second, to date, I do not believe there has been any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and/or administration on the one hand, and Russian officials on the other. 
This, however, does not necessarily render the current investigation(s) a "witch hunt" or otherwise mean that collusion did not occur.  The pro-trump headlines, and the statements from the Orange Orangutan in the Oval Office, declaring vindication, are simply wrong.  There appears to be plenty of indicia of wrongdoing to justify the appointment of the Special Counsel to investigate.  And it wasn't "fake news" that lead the Deputy AG to make the appointment.  Until the investigation is complete, conclusions are simply premature.
If this is truly smoke without fire, then Trump appears to be engaged in a cover-up without a crime.  It's hard to conceive of a way in which Trump could possibly look more guilty. 
Take, for instance, the timing of his firing of Jim Comey and the obviously pre-textual justification he gave in the termination letter (which he backed off of almost immediately the next day).  
Take his interactions with Comey prior to the termination in which he asked Comey for loyalty and asked him to cut Flynn a break.  Trump was either exerting pressure or engaging in wildly inappropriate conduct.  The Right claims he's merely inexperienced to the ways of Washington.  This explanation would be more credible had he not taken explicit action on these occasions to isolate himself with Comey.  Regardless whether Trump's actions were unethical and ill-motivated or simply based on stupidity (like, and unprecedented level of Presidential stupid), it does not look good.
Take Trump's lies about his interactions with Comey.  Comey testifies that Trump asked him for Loyalty.  Trump, during a prior interview on Fox, expressly denies the conversation took place.  Comey testifies Trump asked him to let Flynn go.  Trump, again, denies the conversation took place.  If you've listened to both sides, there seems to be little room for misunderstanding; one of them is lying.  Who do you believe?  Again, regardless whether there's any underlying crime, this paints Trump in poor light.
And then there's the clear pattern of omissions of contacts with Russians by Trump associates, from Flynn, to Sessions, to Kushner.  Standing in isolation, this might seem innocuous.  But, in  context, it appears strange at the very least.
Finally -- and this is the point that bothers me most -- given the Russian's actions to interfere with the 2016 election, why does Trump appear to favor Putin over our European allies?  Wouldn't any reasonable President be pushing back - HARD -- against the Russians given what our intelligence agencies now know?  Wouldn't the President be focused on sanctions and taking other action to prevent further Russian interference in our democracy?  But Trump has taken the opposite approach, exemplified by the absurd meeting with Sergey Kislyak and others in the oval office the next day after the Comey firing, during which Trump (a) invited no U.S. media, (b) bragged about firing Comey to the very people Comey was investigating, and (c) spilled classified information.  Taken in context, could Trump try harder to look in cahoots with the Russians?
Ultimately, despite the media and social media circus and constant headlines, this investigation is likely a long way from over.  Any legitimate investigation will follow the money trail.  What financial connections did Trump have with Russians.  How about his various corporations?  His kids?  His affiliates?  I'm confident that Director Mueller is pulling on these strings.  Was there collusion or other wrongdoing?  I have no idea.  I've yet to see any indication there was.  In the end, Trump's only crime may be being too dumb to lead.  I can certainly live with whatever conclusions Mueller draws.  But in the meantime, lets let the process play itself out.      

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Getting at It!!!

[NOTE:  Actual Poker Content Below]

Years ago, some friends and I hiked the Maryland Heights trail across the river from Harpers Ferry.  As far as hikes go, it was moderately challenging.  Approximately four miles in length, the first two miles is essentially an uphill hike.  Coming back down is also no easy feat, as the trail is rocky and you're constantly looking for footholds and trying to moderate your downhill momentum.  In short, it was a good workout.  Fast forward to several months ago, when, as you may recall, I did a 4-mile run from the Harpers Ferry National Park visitor's center to downtown Harpers Ferry and back.  Fairly standard.  Since then, however, I had been looking to combine the two -- do the run AND the hike.   Yesterday I found my chance to attempt it...

I drove to Charles Town after a mid-morning oil change and checked in to the local Hampton Inn around 1:00 pm.  After a quick change, I drove down the road to Harpers Ferry National Park where I set out to test my 44-year old endurance.  It began with an easy half-mile downhill hike from the parking lot to a tow path along the Potomac River.  From there, it was a 1.2 mile run to Harpers Ferry.    The run continued through the town, across the river and then down the C&O Canal Towpath until I located the trial head for the Maryland Heights trail.  I was close to 2.5 miles at this point.

Entering into the woods, the trail was congested.  For the first mile or so, at least.   At around the .8 mile mark, the hike presents a choice - you can walk on level ground to a scenic overlook; or you can head straight up to the peak.   It was here that nearly everyone opted for the view.  I took a left and proceeded to climb.  It was a fairly tough 1.2 miles.  I saw only a handful of people the entire way.  My legs were burning, as I counted down every tenth of a mile.  I was listening to the Indians-Royals game to distract myself.   After about 30 minutes, I reached the peak.

After a brief stop to take in the view, I scrambled back down the hill. The hike totaled approximately 4.5 miles.  My legs felt heavy as I began the 2 mile run back to the visitor's center.

At one point, I clipped a rock and took a tumble like a jackass.  A bit bloodied, I hopped up an continued on.  The run was not as bad as I had anticipated.  Finally, I was left with a half-mile climb back up through the woods and to the parking lot.  This is where I hit the wall.  I could barely make it up the steeper portions of the trail.  It was here too where I began feeling sick.  It may have been dehydration.  It could have been a lack of food.  Or, maybe just lack of conditioning.  Whatever the cause, I finished the hike and drove back to the hotel.   Total distance was exactly 9 miles . . .

Still feeling like crap, I headed across the street to the Local Appleby's, hoping some food and drink would be the cure.  About half-way through my first beer, I got the sweats, and proceeded to the mens room post haste.  I was likely the first guy, but not the last, to boot in the mens room that evening.  Eventually, I got some food down and felt better.  It was time for some cards at The Chuck down the road...    

I run like crap at Charles Town.  Don't know why.  But I have; for, like, years and years.  This evening would be no different. Twenty minutes in I look down at AT hearts.  I call $10 and flop and OESD and the nut flush draw.  Guy bets $20; I raise to $65, he jams $200.   I snap.  And whiff.  Of course.  Rebuy.  I go on to whiff two more nut flush draws.  Standard.  Then this hand:

Effective stacks about $280. Villain has me covered by, like, a lot.  I call $10 pre flop from the button with A8 spades (I was card dead most of the night, and found myself playing suited aces to keep from falling asleep...).  We go heads up to an 8-high flop.  Villain leads for $20, and I call.  Can't fold top pair here to this bet.  Turn is the 9 of spades, giving me the nut-flush draw.  Villain leads for $40.  At this point, I don't think he's barreling a big Ace.  I put him on an over pair.  While I figure I'm behind, once again, I don't think I can fold my pair and nut flush draw.  I make the call.  The river is the Ace of clubs giving me Aces up.  Not a bad card!  This time, Villain leads for $100.  I really think I just rivered him.  I make the call pretty easily. He shows down 99 for the turned set.  Ugh.  Rebuy.

At this point, I'm in the game for $600; but still having fun.  I was able to turn my evening around with, you guessed it . . . another suited Ace.

Sitting on $250 or so, I make a loose call of $12 with A3 hearts after two other callers.   Flop comes down 335.  Jackpot.  Original raiser bets $20.  Only I call.  Turn is a 7.  Dude bets out $30.  I raise to $75.  He snaps it off.  Interesting.   River is another 7 giving me 3's full.  Dude checks to me and I jam.  He goes in to the tank and starts trying to talk to me.  "Do you have pocket 5's?"  "You don't have a 3 or a 7 . . ."  "Do you want me to call?"  I just stare into space, thinking about how Gillian Anderson is nearly 50 and still hot as fuck . . .  "You know you can talk, right?"  I wonder what her natural hair color is. And whether she got her tits done.  They seem larger than when she was on the X-files. . . . Eventually, someone calls the clock.  Guy is still getting at me - "do you want a call?"  Ultimately, he says "Call."  I do nothing, as he hasn't touched a single chip.  After a few moments, dealer says "he called" and I flip over my 3  . . .  I'm back in the game!

The rest of the session was fairly uneventful.  At one point, got back within $25 of even; but I pissed some chips away near the end and ultimately walk with a $100 loss.  I still can't win at The Chuck.  But I generally have fun trying . . .


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend in the Desert

It's Monday morning and I'm back at the grind.  I got home last evening from a quick trip to Vegas -- my first since Labor Day weekend; and likely my only trip this year.  I have not been gambling much.  And that did not change this past weekend.
I was originally scheduled to fly out to the desert Thursday evening; late on an 8:00 pm flight.  However, on Tuesday I changed my mind, partly due to not wanting to leave work too early on Thursday to head to the airport; and also because the weather looked a bit sketchy.  Turns out, this was a good call and the flight I was booked for ended up being delayed almost three hours and not landing until nearly 2:00 am. 
I got in to Vegas at 12:20 Friday and was promptly long-hauled to Aria.  Wasn't even asked what route I wanted to take.  I guess I've got that newbie look or something.  After a quick salad at Todd English Public House, I mashed a bit of video poker before making my way over to Paris to pick up my "Diamond Celebration Dinner Voucher."  Then it was off to check out the Beer Garden at Paris -- a pretty cool outdoor spot.  From there, it was Gordon Ramsey Steak for dinner and, perhaps, one-too-many glasses of wine. 
I got out of dinner around 9:00, and went over to Bally's to sling some cards.  Suffice it to say, I was a bit in the bag by my arrival; and a handful of Coronas at the table did not help to sober up the situation.  I was self-aware enough to recognize most of the table was drooling for my chips.  Little did they know that I can still play relatively decent poker under the influence.  After getting down $100 or so, I doubled up when I raised 99 and spiked a set against a pair of aces.  A short while later (or, perhaps a short while prior . . . who knows), Coach showed up to play some hands.  Sadly, the table broke not too long thereafter (and just after I knocked a full Corona off  my side-table).  I had gotten up to use the rest room, and upon my return, the game was done.  Multiple people were trying to get me to stay and take a seat at another game, but I declined.  It was close to 4:00 am est and I had been up nearly 24 hours.  It was time to call it a night.      
I set my alarm for 7:00 am Saturday, intent on getting a prime spot at the pool at Aria.  However, as is often the case when in Vegas, I awoke on my own at 6:30.  After a few coffees, I made my way to the pool as planned.  Sun. Coronas.  A pleasant morning.  I left around 2:00 to take a short nap before heading over to Mandalay Bay to see Santana once again.  While I had originally planned to play some poker Saturday night, I ended up post show at Ri Ra watching the Black Donnelly's play.  In the end, I gambled zero dollars Saturday.
And Sunday was more of the same . . . I spent most of the day at the pool before heading down to Mandalay Bay to watch the Mets-Pirates game at the book and to have dinner at Strip Steak.  After dinner, I realized I'd have to be up at 6:00 am to catch my flight home and decided to do the responsible thing and call it an early night.  I was back in my room by 11:00 pm.
Not my typical Vegas getaway.  But, it was probably the best time I've had there in years. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


"A purpose or motive alleged or an appearance assumed in order to cloak the real intention or state of affairs"

  • The Director of the FBI is appointed to a ten-year term, the purpose of which is to avoid exertion of political pressure on the Nation's top law enforcement official.
  • In July 2016, the FBI begins investigation into Russian interference in 2016 election process.  
  • In 2016, during the Presidential Campaign, then candidate Trump criticized FBI Director Comey for not bringing charges against Hillary Clinton.  Later, in October 2016, Trump publically praised Comey:
"That was so bad what happened originally, and it took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made in light of the kind of opposition he had where they’re trying to protect her from criminal prosecution . . .  It took a lot of guts."
"What he did, he brought back his reputation — he brought it back . . .  He's got to hang tough because a lot of people want him to do the wrong thing. He did the right thing."

  • In January 2017, the Justice Department Inspector General launches internal investigation into Comey's handling of Clinton Probe.  This investigation is ongoing as of May 9.   
  • The week of May 1, 2017, Comey testifies before the Senate and, among other things, confirms that FBI investigation in to Russian meddling: 
    “[I]ncludes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts . . ."
  • May 9, Trump fires Comey, citing memorandum prepared by Deputy Attorney General (and signed off on by AG Sessions, who recused himself from Russia Inquiry), which points to Comey's handling of Clinton investigation in 2016 as basis for decision.
  • Trump, in Comey termination letter, writes:
"While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau."
  • As of May 9, there remained an ongoing investigation by Justice into Jim Comey's handling of the Clinton probe.
  • There remains an ongoing investigation, led by the very agency Jim Comey was, until May 9, in charge of, into whether or not White House associates colluded with Russia to impact the 2016 Presidential Election.
If you believe that Trump abruptly fired Jim Comey on May 9 for his handling of the Clinton investigation in 2016, prior to Justice concluding the active investigation into Comey's handling of the that very inquiry, you are an idiot.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

One Hand

I had been itching to play some poker all week.  Initially, I booked a room at National Harbor Friday-Saturday, and planned to play all weekend at MGMNH.  But, as often happens, work got in the way and I had to cancel.   Then, Friday, mid-morning, I thought, "screw it," and decided I'd leave work around 2:00 and at least spend Friday night at MGMNH.  But, as often happens, work got in the way ... no less than 4 clients called / emailed with things they needed, like, immediately. Friday night was shot.

So, yesterday (Saturday) a woke up with intentions of working.  But then I realized Dylan Bundy was throwing at the Yard at 7:05 and decided to go. And then I figured, "if I'm going to Baltimore for the evening, I might as well just leave now and play some poker . . ."  And so, I did.  Of course, now, Sunday morning, I'm pretty fucked and need to figure out how to cram 10 hours or so of work into the day.  But, any way . . .

This hand occurred late in my session.  The set up: $1/3 NL.  My stack is about $450.  Villain -- an early 30's, married, black Uber driver / part-time pimp for white drug addicts -- had just sat down with a fresh $300.  He's in position.  

Botton straddles to $10. UTG+1 (an older gent) raises to $25.  It folds to me, and I look down at AA.  Straddler had been re-popping; but the UTG+1 raise looks strong and I decide I can't count on him to raise in this spot.  So, I make it $75.  To my surprise, villain tanks and flats.  Botton and UTG+1 let it go.

Flop: Q J 3.

My initial thought - "yuck."  I check, figuring I'm either way ahead or way behind.  Villain sticks in his last $225 in green chips without hesitation.  I make the call . . .  Turn is a K (double Yuck) and river blanks . . .

My thought process at the time -- There's $400 in the pot.  I'm not folding my AA.  If he flopped the set, good for him.

Soon after leaving, I texted Vegas Rob, who fired off a "Terrible call by you . . ."  Of course, I don't think this was based on any analysis of the hand.  More like Rob just trying to kick me in the nutz 😏...   But it prompted some post hoc analysis of the hand.   My three-bet to $75 screams monster, particularly since I had not gotten out of line all day.  AA or KK for sure.  Probably QQ.  Maybe TT to JJ.  So, when it folds around to Uber Driver, assuming he's a thinking player, what's his flatting range?  If I'm him, I'm mucking JJ.  I have to believe that I'm more than likely set mining, and at $75 with $300 effective, it does not make sense.  Moreover, if I'm Uber Driver and I have QQ, it makes it much less likely that the $75 three-bet is QQ.  So, again, what am I ahead of?  TT or JJ?  And both of those are at the very bottom of the three-better's range....  So, given the action and the stack size, isn't the flopped set somewhat unlikely?  Or, am I just trying to rationalize a terrible call?  

The King on the turn, of course, was particularly gross, but . . .

Oh, and by the way:  Villain's hand revealed below:

Villain flipped 77.  Speaking of terrible calls . . . .

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Once again, it's that time of year.  That's right - baseball is back!
For the first time in years, I wasn't able to make it to Vegas to place futures bets.  But Pete P. Peters needs something to sweat.  As a result, I decided to focus my attention on season-long fantasy.  So, in addition to my standard annual ESPN "Friends and Family" ("FNF") league, I opted to join some $100 Yahoo Pro leagues.  Five to be exact.  I bought in to the first on a Monday afternoon -- a league with a scheduled draft the following evening at 8:00.  Unfortunately, upon joining, I realized that draft times are PST, meaning the draft would take place between 11:00 pm and 2:00 am.  And I generally get up for work at 5:00 am.  No esta bueno.  I figured I'd "punt" the league, autodraft it, and sign up for another that drafted at a more reasonable hour.  So I plunked down another $100 and signed up for a Thursday evening draft.  And then I couldn't stop.  I signed up for a Friday night draft, and two more on Saturday (fortunately, the season began Sunday, thus saving myself from myself and potentially entering double-digit leagues).
So, I found myself in five leagues for $500.  The draft preparation then began.  As I delved in, I realized that Yahoo Pro Leagues operate far, far different than my FNF league.  My FNF league is a twelve team, 15x15, head-to-head "points" league.  In other words, there are 15 offensive categories, and 15 pitching categories, each worth an assigned number of points.  A single, for instance, is worth 1 point . . .  a steal - 2 points . . . a SO . . . 1 point . . . a win for a pitcher is 10 points.  Each week, you play another team (i.e., head to head), and at week's end, the team with the most points simply wins the matchup.   Notably, line-ups lock prior to the first game of the week; so, you set your line-ups on Monday morning, and then sit back and watch . . .  Easy game.
Yahoo Fantasy Pro ("YFP") - not so simple.  In fact, it took me hours just to research the rules, and how scoring was calculated.  Knowing the parameters of the game is, for obvious reasons, critical to determining draft strategy.   YFP is 5x5, head-to-head.  Offensive categories are Runs, RBI, HR's, Stolen Bases and Average.  On the pitching side, you factors Wins, Strikeouts, Saves, ERA and WHIP.  You get one point for each category you win.  So, at the end of the week, if you take HR's. RBI, Runs, Saves, ERA and WHIP, and you lose Stolen Bases, Average, Wins and K's, you'd win the matchup 6-4, and your record would be 6-4.  Unlike the FNF, which is all-or-nothing for the week, every category matters in YPL.  Also, there is no weekly roster lock.  Rather, you can move players in and out of your line-up up until first pitch.  The only limitation is that player acquisitions are capped at six per week.  This, I found out, gives rise to the phenomenon known as "streaming," e.g., rotating players (pitchers, usually) in and out of your starting line up to maximize starts. 
With a (fairly) firm grasp of the rules, I began formulating my draft strategy.  In FNF, for yours, I've gone sans closers and punted saves.  Instead, I find a handful of starting pitchers with relief pitcher eligibility and use them to fill my two RP roster spots.  The idea is that wins are worth more points (10) than saves (5), and I can usually get more SO's from throwing starters also.  This is compounded on weeks were the starter has two starts.  It's a strategy that has worked out well for me for years.  So, my first course of action was to place some message board posts asking for advice on whether this strategy would work given the YFP rubric.  The answer was a resounding "NO!"  Guys with thousands of posts to their names all claimed the exact OPPOSITE strategy was optimal - draft plenty of relief pitchers with starting pitcher eligibility (a mix of closers and set up men); then stream your starters in the several SP spots left on your roster.   This, according to the fantasy experts, will virtually guaranty that you win 3/5 pitching categories each week - Saves and the two "ratio" categories - ERA and WHIP (on the theory that set up men and closers will have better ratio's than most starters.  The experts claimed you could also compete in wins and K's by picking up guys off waivers every day to plug in (stream) up to the weekly acquisitions limit.  This advice was near universal (particularly on the 2+2 fantasy board). 
I pondered.  I tried to work out the math.  And, ultimately, I decided to zig when the experts advised I zag.  My plan was to focus my draft on offense and basically punt on pitching until unduly late in the draft; then, load up on average to above average pitchers, including guys who would fly under the radar.  The goal was to win 4/5 offensive categories every week, as well as Wins and K's, and then hope to compete in ratios.  This would leave me 6-4 (or better) each week.  If I could go 6-4 every week, I win.  I wasn't sure if this was the right approach.  I considered using the "experts'" approach in 1 or 2 leagues.  But, ultimately, I said "fuck it;" and I trusted my gut.  
I spent the better part of a day printing out player rosters and identifying a deep well of serviceable starters.  I also considered "position scarcity" -- i.e., trying to identify which positions where shallow . . . which were deep with talent . . . and using that to determine which positions to draft early, and which I could wait on.  I decided I wanted two outfielders in the first three rounds . . . I also wanted a first baseman early.  And I decided to wait, wait, wait . . . and then . . . wait some more on a second baseman.  I decided I'd be happy with Jonathan Schoop, and gambled that nobody would spend a decent draft pick on him.  I also decided to punt on short stop.  I figured I could live with Dansby Swanson if I had to, who would actually help out in Average, Runs and SB's.  I was also determined to draft only high-Average guys -- .275 hitters or better.  That meant monster guys like Chris Davis, who are killers in many leagues, would not find homes on PPP's teams.  If my strategy was going to work, I could not afford to roster guys who bat .220 and could cost me the Average category each week...
Of course, sometimes you have to let the draft come to you . . .
In the end, I could not find it in myself to autodraft the Tuesday night 11:00 pm league.  So, I sucked it up, drafted, and then went to work on 2.5 hours sleep on Wednesday.  The Thursday and Friday drafts went relatively according to plan.  Thursday night, MadBum was still on the board when my third round pick rolled around, and I could not pass him up.  it was a good value, but I felt like it through my entire draft off from that point on.  I was left with one outfielder heading to the fourth round, and, based on position scarcity, the remaining choices where not ideal.  I just felt like I never got back on my game plan after that selection.  And the Saturday morning draft was . . . interesting.  I drank a six pack of fine Pale Ale during the Friday evening draft, and awoke Saturday with a raging headache and no pain killer.  The first draft of the day began early.  I made it through the first four or so rounds OK, but then the suffering became nearly intolerable.  I decided a hot shower was the only thing that would allow me to live.  So, I ended up doing most of the draft from the shower - popping out why the bell went off indicating I was on the clock.  Shockingly, I think this team (Pete P Peters' Boys 5) was my worst team.  Fortunately, I regained the will to leave in time for my fifth and final draft later that evening.
Overall, I felt like I did well sticking to the game plan.  I held off on pitchers far longer than other teams.  I also jumped a few rounds to take some guys beginning the year on the DL, e.g., Ian Desmond . . . J.D. Martinez . . . Steven Matz.  It's a long season and, in head-to-head, you can risk a slow start to build a team that will dominate when it counts.  I also ended up going heaving on George Springer.  I took him in my first two drafts, and he just sort of fell to me in a few more.  I hate having so much exposure to one guy; but I'm banking on a big season. 
After two weeks of the season, my strategy seems to be working out.  I'm generally going 6-4 or better.  My starters are also competing in ratio's.  It's early, but I'm happy with the results:

Without further ado, my five Rosters (I have 1 or more SP spots open in each league to stream pitchers on a daily basis if I need to):

Pete P. Peters Boys 1

(C)   K. Schwarber
1B  J. Abreu
2B  C. Hernandez
3B  A. Bregman
SS.  D. Swanson
OF.  B. Harper
OF.  G. Springer
OF  A. Benintendi
UT  E. Enciarte
UT  M. Moustakas
DL  I. Desmond
L. McCullers
J. Tallion
M. Fulmer
J. Paxton
M. Bumgarner
C. Morton
G. Cole
M. Wacha
J. Ross
S. Feldman

Pete P. Peters Boys2

C     Realmuto
1B   E. Encarnacion
2B   D. LeMahieu
3D  K. Seager
SS.  J. Peraza
OF  M. Trout
OF  G. Springer
OF  A. Jones
UT  R. Healy
UT  M. Moreland
DL. I. Desmond
M. Harvey
C. Carrasco
D. Duffy
S. Strasburg
S. Manaea
C. Morton
F. Liriano
G. Richards
J. Ross

Pete P. Peters Boys3
Y. Grandal
P. Goldschmidt
J. Kipnis
R. Healy
F. Lindor
G. Springer
C. Yelich
O. Herrera
F. Freeman
M. Moustakas
DL I Desmond
DL JD Martinez
M. Harvey
K. Gausman
M. Wacha
J. Paxton
J. Tallion
M. Tanaka
F. Liriano
S. Strasburg
S. Matz
T. Ross
Pete P. Peters Boys 4
K Schwarber
F. Freeman
J. Schoop
A. Bregman
F. Lindor
M. Trout
A. Jones
O. Herrera
K. Morales
B. Phillips
J. Paxton
M. Stroman
J. Lackey
J. Vargas
D. Duffy
I. Nova
J. Cueto
A. Cobb
J. Ross
J. Urias
Pete P. Peters' Boys 5
A. Rizzo
T. Turner
R. Healy
A. Russell
G. Springer
Y. Cespedes
A. Jones
O. Herrera
K. Kendricks
D. Bundy
L. Severino
Z. Wheeler
M. Fulmer
F. Liriano
S. Strasburg
C. Morton
M. Wacha
J. Oddorizi
J. Vargas
J. Urias
J. Ross

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Charles Town Side Trek

Several weeks ago I spent the weekend playing poker at Charles Town. I arrived Friday night and got into a game around 9:30.  My first hand dealt was KK.  I went heads up against . . . KK.  And lost to a flush.  The poker did not get much better over the course of the weekend.  But instead of making this blog a collection of bad beat stories, I'm going to focus on my Saturday afternoon trip to Harpers Ferry.

Harpers Ferry is a small town located at the intersection of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.  It begins on the rivers' shores and extends up a steep hill, topped by Harper Cemetery.  Most of you will recall it as the historic locale of abolitionist John Brown's raid on the U.S. military arsenal in the late 1850's.  The small town's history and architecture remain largely preserved.  

After 4 or 5 coffees at the Hampton Inn in Charles Town, I set off to take a tour.  My plan was to park at the visitor's center at Harpers Ferry National Park.  And while there is shuttle service that takes visitors the 1.5 miles to the town center, I decided to hike/run it.

Leaving the visitor's center parking lot, I entered a trail into the woods, which winded downhill for 1/3 of a mile to a trail along side the Shenandoah River.

From there, it was just under a 2-mile run to historic Harpers Ferry

The town was lined with historic shops, houses and restaurants.

A walk up to the top of the town gives way to Harper Cemetery.

The trip back down winds past some ruins and provides some of the best views of the Potomac.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

MLK Weekend and The Hotel at MGM National Harbor

MLK Weekend traditionally means one thing.  Well, I guess perhaps it means many things.  On a personal level, it generally means a holiday weekend trip to Vegas.  A time to cash NFL season totals tickets; grab a steak or two; play some poker; and spend too much time in the sports book watching the greatest weekend of the NFL season.  And, this year, I was set to maintain tradition.  I had used points on Southwest for flights and booked a comped Grand Tower Stay Well King at the MGM Grand.  And then, like, Wednesday morning, I got lazy.  While I'm always loathe spending a combed 9.5 hours on a plane for a three-day weekend and arriving back on the east coast at 11:00 pm and wired because of the time change, I generally do it.  Because, like, what's the other choice?  Now, however, there is another choice - MGM National Harbor.  Why fly when I can drive 20 minutes from my office?  So I logged on to my MLIFE Account and saw that room rates were $400 a night.  I thought about booking the nearby Westin.  But, on a lark, I called the MGM NH directly and, to my surprise, was able to get a comped room.  Done.
I checked in to the MGM NH at 4:45 Friday afternoon and was offered complimentary champagne during the process.  I was also upgraded to a "king suite."  It was more like a regular hotel room with a bathroom the size of, like, a regular hotel room.  It was huge. A prime example of unnecessary excess.  Overall, the room was really nice.

By the time I made it down to the casino, the $1/3 NL poker list was just south of 100.  And, since I had yet to eat, I decided against signing up.  Instead, I grabbed a cocktail at the Lobby Bar, which is a surprisingly quiet retreat from the buzz of the casino (relying on a private piano player to set the more relaxed ambiance), and then smashed the 100 Hand VP machine for an hour or so.  Ultimately, I decided to see if I could get in to the bar at Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse for dinner. 
Success.  It took me five trips to MGM NH to finally get in to Voltaggio Bros., but it was worth the wait.

To the surprise of no one, I went with the filet and cabernet . . . and the "Bloomsdale Spinach," which was insanely good. 

Saturday morning (or, perhaps more accurately, Saturday afternoon) I grabbed a seat at the poker table and tried to grind out a few hours.  It was an interesting table.  Two dealers from Maryland Live! and three $2/5 MDL! regs.  While the dealers played lose and reckless (with both eventually busting), the $2/5 players were largely TAG and not too difficult to play against.  I took my biggest hand of the day off one of them:
I'm in middle position (Hijack+1 if that is a thing?).  $2/5 Reg is two seats to my left (on the button, I believe).  After several limpers, Reg raises out of turn to $17.  Reg starts the hand with about $200; I'm sitting $330 or so.  I look down at AA.  First time I've had aces in the last 30 hours.  So, clearly, I'm about to lose my stack.  Just a question of how it all goes down.  I decide to limp the $3, with the intention of raising if there is a caller or two to the villain's raise.  But it limps back around to me to close out the action.  I decide to flat.  I had not three-bet all day, and I figured that that line (limp $3 after the out of turn raise, and then raise) would SCREAM Aces or Kings.  I wanted to keep my range open, particularly against this $2/5 player.
Flop comes out K 6 x.  I check; reg checks back.
Turn is a 6.  I lead for $35, and reg calls.
River is an A.  I bet $50; reg jams; I snap.
Reg tables KK.
Clean living.  I ended the session with a modest $150 win.
At 4:00, I was off to Tap Sports Bar to sweat some NFL bets along with the 43 Fan Duel lineups I had set.  Then, around 6:30, the Poker Meister showed up, and we grabbed a quick dinner at the food court while he waited for his name to come off the list.  More accurately, PM grabbed dinner, while I grabbed a Bud Lite.  You can't maintain the figure of a young Thai boy by eating actual food . . .
Sunday I again awoke around noon, with intentions of playing poker until the 4:45 NFL game.  I began the day by sneaking into the poker room to help myself to the free coffee set up (pro tip . . .), and then decided to smash some slots.  And this happened:

Flush with cash, I scrapped the idea of playing poker and spent the rest of the afternoon mashing buttons and accruing tier credits, with the hope of keeping the comped rooms coming . . .

 Before I knew it, it was 1:30 am, and I had sat through two full NFL games and consumed enough booze to kill a small Thai boy.  Yet, I was still standing. And then I made the last of a series of bad decisions.  Walking by the poker room, I noticed there was open seating for the $1/3 game.  Poker?  At nearly 2:00 am?  Why, sure.
I bought in for my standard $300 (even though the max is $500).  After folding a few hands, I looked down at AJ off and decide to raise to $17.  Two callers.  Flop J88.  I bet $30 (or so . . . candidly, given the circumstances, my recollection of these hands may be something short of "precise" . . .).  One call.  Turn is an A.  Nice.  I bet some amount of chips, and villain, who's short-stacked, shoves.  I snap and he tables 88 for quads.  Ugh.
No more than 5 hands (but no less than 2 hands) later, I again look down at AJ and again open to $17.  One call.  Flop is ATx . . . I bet, and get called.  Turn is a J.  I bet, get raised, and somehow, all my chips are in the middle when villain flips over TT.  That's right.  AJ top two versus quads and a set.  All within my first 5 minutes at the table.  Even given my intoxicated state, I'm able to appreciate the fact that, perhaps, just perhaps, sitting down to play was a poor idea.... Nevertheless, I rebuy for $200 and soldier on....

 . . . Often times, when I'm at the table and involved in a hand, with nothing, I'll think about taking a line that seems good in theory; but I'll lack the guts to implement the move.  Not so Saturday night.  After my rebuy, I got involved in another hand with the villain from the set of tens.  He has a big stack (including a couple hundred of my chips).  I find K(s) Q(s) and open to $17 after villain's limp.  He calls and we see a J-high rainbow flop.  I bet $25 or so and he calls.  Turn blanks.  I check.  Villian bets $40 or so. I raise to $165 (or thereabout).  I think my line makes sense for a hand like JJ-AA.  He tanks, and eventually folds top pair.  He asks to see my hand.  I oblige.  Credit to Miller Lite . . .  

Shortly thereafter, I think I was able to capitalize on the bluff.  I limp in to a pot with A(d) 8(d).  Flop is x(d) x(d) x.  It checks to me and I bet $15.  Villain calls.  x(d).  I bet $30.  Villain calls.  River is a non-diamond Broadway card  which puts three-to-a-straight on the board.  I bet $100-- about pot size.  Villain tanks and pays me off.

Fortunately, there was no more drama, and I was actually able to win back all but $130 of my losses before the table broke at 5:00 am and I decided to get a few hours sleep before checking out of the hotel and calling an end to the weekend. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Measuring the Past Eight Years

So  . . .  Sentiment on social media seems to be that our country is far worse off now than it was eight years ago when President Obama took office.  Of course, it's likely impossible to accurately measure the status of our nation.  What's the metric?  What factors would one consider?  Isn't the issue dependent on one's unique perspective and values?  I don't expect anyone to be able to provide an "answer" to this issue . . .
As you all likely know, I've been told I live in a liberal bubble (and am otherwise, based on prior comments, apparently an asshole, a hypocrite, an idiot, and a poor poker player).  Admittedly, I don't see what many other people see when it comes to our country.  But I want to understand.  Or at least try to understand . . . 
Accordingly, I'm asking you to provide some insight.  Feel free to post in the comments how or why the country is worse off now than it was eight years ago.  What are the issues?  Where have we fallen off?  What's important to you and where have we gone wrong with respect to your priorities.  And, if you want to delve further in your response, how was President Obama a factor in what is, or has gone, wrong?  
Please know that I am not trolling.  If there is one thing I've learned for sure over the past year or so it's that I (and many others like me) truly don't understand the sentiment in this country.  This, in turn, is a sincere attempt to try and shed some light on the disconnect.  I simply want to understand the issues that are important to people.  [I know before I even write this that I'm likely asking FAR too much, but . . .] . . . Please keep this civil; please avoid personal attacks; keep the comments a judgment-free zone . . .  Simply put -- what are your issues with this country?  Where have things gone wrong?
 . . . . And GO:

Saturday, January 7, 2017

2016 Results

2016 is a wrap.  It turns out, I spent less time in casinos last year than usual.   This was due largely to moving and also to having a pain-in-the-ass client for much of the year that prevented me from getting away many weekends.  It follows that I played less poker than in a typical year too.  Less than 150 hours, in fact.  My results for the small sample were quite marginal.  A $900 down-swing when the MGM National Harbor opened in December did not help.  

Next weekend I'll start grinding 2017.  My goal is modest: to get back above 200 hours . . .


Thursday, January 5, 2017

No; It's Not the Same

Anyone who has read recent blog posts, follows me on Twitter, or has my trust and knows my actual identify on Facebook (shockingly, my parents did not name me Pete Peter Peters) is familiar with my feelings towards the president elect.  I'm critical . . . to say the least.  I find offense by many of Trump's words.  Not personally; and not in the statements he makes; but by the fact that his conduct is, apparently, deemed acceptable to many. 
In response to my criticism, people frequently contend that this is simply the other side of the Obama coin.  In other words, Republicans have complained about Obama for years; and, now, Democrats are lashing out over Trump.  "It's the same thing."  I disagree.
I've yet to take issue with any of the new administration's proposed policies (to the extent anyone really knows what they are at this point).  True enough, I'm sure I'll have disagreements; but this is not about that.   When it comes to policy, I have my beliefs; but I'm not conceited enough to believe I'm always (or, even often) right.  More importantly, I understand that people come from different backgrounds, live in different situations, and certainly don't view issues the same way I do.  Circumstances color perspective on many things.  I enjoy my "liberal bubble;"  I tend to think most things are right inside of it; and I have little desire to live beyond its borders.  But I'm cognizant that others are not in my situation and live, perhaps, drastically different lifestyles with different priorities and different perspectives on what our society should be and look like.  I, for instance, disagree with Trump that The Affordable Care Act must be dismantled.  Do I think there are problems with "Obama Care?"  Sure.  Do I think changes should be made to the program?  Perhaps.  Am I willing to pay high[er] premiums so that others can have health care coverage? Yes.  But I recognize that others are situated differently, and I understand that others believe differently.  And I respect peoples' differing opinions on this and other matters.      
My criticism of Trump is not that.  It's simply about decency.  It's about setting an example.  It's about leading in a manner that we -- all of us -- can be proud of. 
To slightly digress . . . the legal profession is generally a miserable thing.  It's often, by nature, an adversarial setting.  Perhaps largely as a result, lawyers often behave atrociously to one another.  Conduct that would be deemed unacceptable in many settings often seems encouraged in the law.  It's gotten to the point that many jurisdictions require lawyers to take a course on professional civility as a requirement of joining the bar.  Think about that.  Grown adults are forced to endure lecture on how to treat other adults.  The lesson of these courses is that you can be an effective advocate while still treating opposing counsel and clients with respect and civility.  In short, you don't need to be a dick . . .
This is the lesson that Donald Trump seems to have missed.  It's as if Trump looks for opportunities to demean; to offend; to personally attack; to trigger conflict.  Trump talks about bringing people together; yet his words are designed to divide.  

Today was just the latest example:
Then, several minutes later:

Does this seem like a guy who is trying to foster a collaborative environment between the White House and Congress?  Does name calling foster the type of environment that brings opposing sides together?  I'd assume that the vast majority of people reading this would not treat another person in this manner, let alone a colleague.  This behavior is reminiscent of a grade-schooler hurling insults at a classmate.  If a lawyer walked in to court and referred to the opposing party as "Crooked [xxxx]" . . . or to opposing counsel as "head clown," there would be immediate consequences.  For obvious reason.  That's simply not appropriate behavior; and it's not the way professionals are expected to treat each other. 
So, why is it OK for Trump to engage in this type of conduct on a near-daily basis?  If anything, shouldn't our President be held to an even higher standard of decorum than the average person (or dime-a-dozen lawyers)?
And, as for Trump's supporters . . . You may be dissatisfied with the past 8 years; you may believe Obama was the worst president ever; you may believe that Trump's policies will Make America Great Again.  That's fine; and I can respect that.  But, don't we all deserve more?  Don't we deserve a president who both has ideas and will represent us graciously and in a manner that we can all be proud of?    People may believe Obama was a terrible president.  I'm not here to debate that belief.  But I would, however, submit that President Obama was, and is, a charismatic leader who governed with respect and dignity.  And that is the difference.