Friday, June 02, 2006

A Very Dull Land

Ah, another day. Jeez, you should see our forecast. It ain't always easy living in the desert. But I'm not complaining, I wouldn't live anywhere else. I just get up earlier, more like 4am these days. Since we don't do daylight savings in Arizona, the sky is light enough for me to garden just a little after 5am right now.

Sometimes months and even years can go by with seemingly little to no drama here in rural-ville. But it is not always the case. In our very county, there is a big manhunt going on for Warren Jeffs. I was hoping they would leave this guy alone, and even create a new law so that things would be "legal" for folks like him in the future. It's such a sparsely populated area, and there are so many men I'd like to marry right now. I was hoping to settle into his complex and become friends with my six husbands. I'm sure the whole town is just riddled with inbreeding. I'd fit right in.

I have also read somewhere that another of my heroes, har har, Timothy McVeigh lived in Kingman. And it seems so peaceful. Everyone snoozing away the hot, summer afternoons in a siesta-trance. Little does society at large know what is brewing just under the surface. Heck, I don't even know what is brewing (besides Meth, which seems to be a big problem here, as well).

So here I sit, trying to amuse you with a couple of lead-in paragraphs, and then get to the poker which is the only thing I really care to read about.

Since I finished my post about recreational vs. serious games, I can add another interest to the to do list. I have wanted to write about dealers for so long that I can't even remember when the interest started. In fact, I think I have several incompleted posts about dealers, which always just kind of trailed off, leaving me with nothing much. I hate that.

Although I'm sure that most of you deduced this when you read my original post, most of what I was saying yesterday was for someone looking at black & white extremes. All-out fun, or all-out profit. This is most definitely not the case in these games. It was simply what I was trying to illustrate. But not all is black or white in poker, as you well know. The edges between serious poker and recreational poker get blurred all the time. I wanted to make a point, and I wanted it to be clear, but as Dan so graciously pointed out, there are more more variables involved. Say you are on a cruise ship where the rake is 10% up to $20 ($20 in rake, not $20 in the pot). You may still want to play. And maybe you want to play seriously. This is FINE, it's great. So you play in such a manner to "lose less," or to "break even," knowing that if you make some dough, it is just that much more sweet.

You might also do things like counting the pot carefully before that river bet. Say you are playing O8 (which is laughable on a cruise ship, but this is just for illustrative purposes only). Say you are more than 90% certain that you are chopping the pot. Let's make this even more ludicrous by saying that you are heads-up on the river. Now you count the pot and you see there is $110 in the pot (minus the $11 in rake already taken). Why bother betting the river with a one-way hand? If you bet and are called, that takes another $4 out of the pot. Keep that money for drinks, cuz they sure ain't free in a cruise line's poker room!

So that is a way to still play seriously in a dud of a game, but to arrange things to make as much as you can in a bad situation.

Today I am trying to decide what I'm going to post about. There are so many ideas, but only some of them leave such a burning desire in me that I can't wait to get it out.

Felicia :)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Serious Games Vs. Recreational Games

I'm often accused of putting down new players, and/or recreational players. Nope. Both are necessary for a balanced poker world. Everyone was new at some time, and recreational players serve their purpose to keep the games good. Sure, my personal preference is to read about serious poker, but that doesn't mean I think badly of new and/or recreational players.

Sometimes a new player, one who is playing for very low stakes or for play money will incorrectly think he cannot play seriously. After all, since the stakes don't matter, or he will win nothing more than play money, he can't or shouldn't play seriously. This is not the case.

Also, the flip side may occur. A serious player thinks he has to play correctly in a game because he is in a casino, or he is sitting with other serious players, or for any other number of reasons. This can also be incorrect.

I will attempt here to tell you the difference between when you should play poker seriously, and when you should play poker recreationally (please disregard this post altogether if you are only interested in recreational poker and have no intention of ever playing seriously).

Many readers are right now thinking to themselves, "Wow, easy, I don't need a post to tell me which games are serious and which games are recreational! If it's play money, a freeroll or very low stakes, it's recreational. When it gets beyond that, it's serious." No. You couldn't be more wrong. Please open up your mind right now, at this very point, and read on with a new attitude.

I remember back in June, 2005, when the Bloggers had their second get together and we arranged a private game at MGM. HORSE or mixed games, I believe. This was right before I started chemo, so some of my memory may be faulty, but the details don't matter as much as the gist of the story I'm trying to get to. We were there to have fun, relax and for some of the newbies to play games they'd never tried (Omaha, Stud games).

The game was rocking. We had a full table, another full table downstairs and a list. We were drinking and laughing it up. Even I was drinking, although I don't really drink. I was tipping dealers just to tip them (somewhat overcompensating for the lack of tipping by a few newbies who had never played live poker and had no idea what to do). I was exposing cards, trash talking, showing my complete hand with two cards to come and all other kinds of BS that some drunk, loose, idiot would do.

After the blogger weekend was over (and we had a fabulous time. While I may not like reading their blogs very much, I truly enjoy being around most of these people), I heard from several confused and/or disgruntled bloggers. They said I played against every principle I've ever taught. I thought it was obvious why I played the way I played, but I forgot one important thing. Most of this crowd had never played live, or played seriously. They simply had no idea how to spot the difference between a serious game and a recreational game.

It all comes down to one thing: "Can you beat the rake?"

If you can, with ease, in general it is a serious game. If you can't, you may as well drink, overtip, expose cards, and do everything else in your ability to lessen your expected value!!! After all, if you can't even be expected to beat the house take, you may as well have fun blowing your dough. And that is exactly what I did (although in this instance I made a few dollars, like $8, lol, but that isn't the point).

So when does the line get blurred at all? Well, it certainly can. Let's bring up some examples of when the line is blurred between serious poker and recreational poker.

1) Play money games:

If you are playing to learn the mechanics of a certain game, ie, you've only played flop games and aren't sure how Stud games are dealt, you should probably pay attention and play seriously.
If you are using play money games to blow off steam and tilt, you should play just as crazy as you want to play. Sure, goof it up, cover the monitor with your hand and just keep your mouse on the raise button if you want. Chase anything, never fold, make it four bets with a scary board. Have fun!

2) Micro-Stakes Online:

Are they letting you get your feet wet for free, like Stars? Or are they pinching every penny and struggling to survive, like Pacific?

If you are playing for free, it is not a recreational game anymore. Play for profit, play seriously. If they are raking 10%, you may as well have a field day. Drink it up, go for those one-outers. Put others on tilt for a change.

3) Home Games:

Does the home game you attend take a rake or house charge? If the rake is so high compared to the stakes, you may as well drink all of the free drinks they hand you and have a ball.

If it is not raked, in general play seriously for profit. There is, however, a time not to follow this advice. If you are too serious will that mean you won't get invited back? Then loosen up a bit. Giving up a little EV now, for more EV later, is in your best interest.

4) Some Foreign Casinos and/or Non-Regulated Cardrooms:

Some of these guys take such huge rake that there is absolutely no reason to play seriously. On some cruiselines (Royal Caribbean), I have heard of rake at 10% up to $20 per pot.

In some cardrooms in Australia, I have heard of $1 per hand, per player, no exceptions.

Someone posted about a cardroom in Finland that had 10% rake with no maximum. So if you are playing a Pot-limit or No-limit game, you could potentially win a 5k pot, and give $500 to the house for ONE hand.

Suffice it to say, the only way you can get through something like this is if you get completely bonkered. If not, rage will drive you so insane that you'll need mental health care, lol ;)

5) California Games:

Some casinos in California take a drop even with no action. They take a drop for the city, the state, the gaming commission, the waitresses, the floorman, the food, the Terminator and just for the heck of it, haha!

Seriously, though, if the rake is so prohibitive, either move up in stakes so that you can beat it, or play for fun.

6) Low Stakes:

This is where things get fuzzy. If you would like to play serious poker, and you are only capable of playing something like 2/4, you need to do some homework and/or investigation before you sit down at a table.

Do they take 10% or 5%? Do they use quarters, half dollars or chips only? Do they round up or down (most cardrooms overseen by gaming commissions are supposed to round down. You noticed I used the word "supposed," I'm sure). What is the total rake? Is there a max? A minimum?

Do they take a separate BBJD? If so, what is the max drop? How do they rake it, by percentage as the pot is built, or by counting the pot at it's conclusion? Do they drop for uncalled bets? Do they drop even if there is no flop (no action on the hand)?

The less likely you are going to be able to beat the rake, the more recreationally you should play. If you are in a big city like Vegas, call around. It pays to do your homework. Somewhere like AC or Foxwoods, well, you really don't have a choice, do you? But both are easily beatable if you want to play seriously, IMO. What makes them beatable? No BBJD (unless something has changed that I don't know about) and loose, passive players.

Another viable strategy if you wish to play seriously at a high rake game (let's say 4/2 instead of 3/1, or 4/2/1 instead of 3/1/1), is to play to lose less, or break even.

7) Freerolls:

This is the one that gets players the most. How to play a freeroll. Let's start at the very bottom of the ladder and move up.

a) The total freeroll paying out pennies or prizes--If you can multi-table, you may as well play this one seriously. Yes, play just as seriously as if you were playing a million dollar event. You are making money on the side, so it is in your best interest to take the tourney seriously.

If you cannot multi-table, and your time is valuable, play like a monkey, have fun. Being the first out pays the same as the bubble.

b) The raked hands freeroll--You probably "worked" for this one, so play it seriously. Sure, the lowest payout may only be $5-10, but if you can multi-table, you need to go for the final table and then the win.

c) The Live Freeroll--Somehow you probably qualified for this. Either time spent in the cardroom, or winning some kind of qualifier (high hand, aces cracked, satellite). If you're there anyway, you may as well play it seriously. The payouts are usually very flat, so it isn't in your best interest to play recklessly trying to get to the top three spots. Even if the top three pay substantially higher, most often a deal is made long before you get to that point, and unless you have 90% of the chips on the table, it might be in your best interest to go along with the deal (negotiate if you have to). Why? Because you might be playing against these guys every day. Being overly greedy now might cost you a lifetime of grief later. Plus, hey, time is money. Go play a juicy cash game and don't sweat the $50 you gave up in equity.

d) The Satellite--Once again, this comes down to the rake. Did you pay points to enter this? Time at the tables? Did you get a total freeroll? How is the structure? How many players advance?

8) The Tournament:

Most players mistakenly assume that all tournaments should be played seriously. Not the case at all. In fact, with today's structure, it usually pays to be the loose, aggressive, seemingly reckless player.

A lot of your decision of whether to play seriously or for recreation comes down to the structure and starting chips. The more "play" in an event, the more seriously you should take it, in general.

And then, the other all important factor which is ever present in the mind of a serious player, the rake. The juice, the vig, the highway robbery, whatever you want to call it, it all comes back to the rake, doesn't it?

I remember a couple of years ago reading about a tournament that I believe Casino Arizona offered. This was during the days where casinos were pretty much able to charge anything they wanted, because people were so crazed about poker that they just didn't care. Thankfully, although not many of you may have noticed yet, things are changing. Too many cardrooms, too many big events. Now CRM's are realizing they have to cut us a little slack if they want to keep our business.

Okay, so going back to CAZ. They advertised a $60 tournament. $35 went to the house, $25 went to the prize pool. Yep, they were actually charging more in juice than the percentage that went back to the players.

Ditto a tournament up in Seattle that I read about. It was to be televised, so the CRM told players that they were required to pay a "fee" to be on television. The buy-in was $100. $60 went to the house and the TV station, $40 went to the players. Yeah, that's fair ;)

My point is, if you find yourself in a situation where even if you win, you lose, you may as well monkey it up. In general, you should avoid these events altogether, but sometimes you find yourself going along to the local rip-off joint with a group of friends, and they want to play in a real, live "poker "tournament. Instead of gnashing your teeth and throwing a fit, you may as well just sit back and have a good time. Think of it more as money going towards a movie, or some other form of entertainment. You don't expect to get anything back, so anything you win is icing on the cake.
In conclusion, these are very general guidelines to help you decide what kind of game you are playing in, and to prepare you for finding the type of games you want to play in. My information may be dated, so always do your own homework. Also, I tend to write very quickly. Like whipping up some frosting for a cake, I write like a blizzard, then wait for it to "settle." This means sometimes I make mistakes. I may not even realize them for days, if ever, until someone points them out to me.

So be self-reliant and don't just "take my word for it." Do your own investigating, do your homework. Your bankroll and your mental health will thank you for it!

Felicia :)

Four Real Strategy Posts Upcoming (and a token rant)

Since so many things have been going on here lately, I have about five posts on the back burner that I've been trying to get to. I love lists, but I hate when people post them. I am the number one, numero uno offender of posting the "to do" list on a so-called poker blog (well, at least the to do lists are actually about poker, lol).

This is the one thing I'm surprised I'm not flamed about more. I post to do lists ALL the time, after harping on how much I hate it when people post to do lists. I'm so bad about that, it ranks right up there with my abuse of LOL, haha, smilies, quote marks and all of that other stupid stuff. Oh, and disclaimers. I could write a disclaimer at the beginning of virtually every paragraph posted here. Not that it would do any good, but in my warped mind, I always have a disclaimer or two ready to go at any given time! Let's guess who will never be a real writer? I'll give you three chances, and the first two don't count...

One time I had a professional writer critique my journal. I remember one thing he said that amused me to no end. He said that I don't type like I would speak. He said my use of language (vocabulary and grammar) was awkward and unnatural. The worst thing about this, is that I speak exactly like I type. Oy, vey. No wonder no one likes being around me!

So anyway, some of the things I am interested in addressing are the following:

1) Reevaluating PLO8
2) Grinding LO8
3) Good Games vs. Recreational Games
4) Finish Nerd Post
5) Ray Zee & Stud

Yes, you will recognize some of these from previous to-do lists. At least I'm hitting about 4:5 with some consistency. Better than never addressing anything at all, I suppose.

Just touching briefly on #4, the nerd post. What do you know. I was just thinking of Simon Trumper when I wrote that post, and then he comments. Not only do "nerds" never get credit, but neither do non-Americans. Some of the very best poker blogs are written by Europeans like Simon, and they are ALWAYS left off of the best of lists. Simon can walk a reader through a hand like nobody's business, yet he never gets mentioned. Some yahoo tried to give me the excuse that the reason Simon is left of is because he is paid to write his poker blog. So what?!? If it deserves mention, it deserves mention. Most of these so-called critics of poker blogs (the people in the mags doing the top 10, top 25, top 100 can't see past their own penises long enough to list the REALLY good poker blogs, choosing instead to list their friends, their mutual masturbation buddies, their countrymen, etc. I have heard every excuse in the book, and NONE of them fly).

Okay, so at least I got a bit of a rant out of my system. Thanks for the comment, Simon, and keep on being you. Lots of us appreciate what you do for us when we read every entry of yours.

Since this is shaping up to be more of an outline post, instead of a post about one particular subject, I'll just say that I heard back from Ray today, and he is happy with my Stud posts, and is glad I'm carrying the torch. I guess someone has to. Or maybe not. Maybe we just let it die? Naw, not me. That fuels me on to write another Stud post, but since I haven't played in a month, I don't have the drive. Since we'll be in Vegas sometime this month, and the Stud games at the series are always top-notch, I'm sure I'll get some motivation. If I had to give you a timeline, I'd say look for another Stud post very late this month, or early July.

So I suppose the wrap-up here is that I'm going to hit #3 today. Recreational games versus serious games. I'll let you know how to spot which game you are in, how to choose, and the best method of playing.

Look for the post later today.

Felicia :)

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Who Needs the Drama?

Man, what a week. I'll bet my blood pressure soared. I'm glad things are calming down somewhat. I gave the flamers their platform, but they tucked tail and ran for cover. Oh, well. I tried. And before anyone accuses me of not really wanting the heat, I'll say once again that the first and only thing that crossed my mind when asking for it, was to get honest, candid responses from people who did not like my writing. No subterfuge, no hint-hint fishing expedition, no plea for compliments. Heck, I can flash my chest and get compliments all day! Har, har.

Anyway, I think I'll leave the comment line open for a week, and then just give up.

Some people assume that I enjoy controversy, that I ask for heat and lap it up. No, I really don't. If that were the case, I'd be embroiled on 2+2 every day. Instead, I've been there for 3.5 years and only involved in maybe a dozen controversial issues. Please feel free to go to the archives and do a nickname search on FeliciaLee. You'll see that even in an environment which has big drama every day, I so rarely get involved that it borders on never.

Also, I try to post good, strategy, theory and psychology posts here. If I truly wanted a lot of drama, I wouldn't bother.

I went through that type of lifestyle for ten years. It was called co-dependency. My stepfather was an alcoholic (no one in my immediate family really drinks). We were definitely thrown for a loop with him. He was a total Jekyll and Hyde personality. My Mom was deeply ensnared (a very addictive personality), and put up with his BS for ten years. My preteen and teenage years were ruined. I became an adult when I was only a child.

This led to co-dependency. Because drama was an everyday occurrence in our household, my psyche became hooked on controversy, and if there was nothing broiling, I had to make something happen. It is a vicious cycle, from which I was finally released in my early twenties.

Freud is my friend, and I believe in a lot of what he had to say. I'm absolutely certain that my choice of Glenn as a husband had to do with Glenn's total lack of drama. He doesn't argue, he doesn't fight. Period. He will not engage in an immature conversation. We can surely disagree, and debate, but he will absolutely not be involved in something childish. We have known each other for ten years now, and never really had some knock-down drag-out argument.

I wanted to be rid of drama, and I was able to seek out someone who refused to engage. Freudian, I'm sure.

There is a difference, however, between someone who refuses to get involved whatsoever, someone who does not back down from heated issues, and a co-dependent. A casual reader might not see the difference between a strong personality and someone hooked on drama. A psychologist or reader who has read 300 posts of mine can see the difference.

I will not back down from controversial issues, and never have. When those two clowns at Four Queens cheated the Razz tournament, I was there the whole way. I kept myself in Roland Waters' face and ranted and raved (Roland was the TD of that event). I told everyone who would listen, I passed the story to dealers, floorpeople and players alike. I kept up on the issue telling the head TD David Lamb and the organizer of the event, Bonnie Damiano the next morning. I pushed and pushed, and finally got the two cheats barred from the Four Queens, as well as Waters fired from the festival. I did all of this not because I had a personal stake in the event (I didn't), but because they were clearly violating every ethic of the TDA and what modern poker is trying to achieve. I felt it was my responsibility to stand up for the future of poker. I did not back down until the issue was resolved.

Was this because I love controversy? Um, no. I barely slept that night, tossing and turning, I was unable to play my A game the next day and lost money on the deal and I felt like I was getting an ulcer. I did not enjoy the experience whatsoever, and was glad to fade back into obscurity days later. We went back to our peaceful, rural little existence, and that was that.

If I could simply turn my brain to the OFF position sometimes, I could write a poker journal that consisted of all strategy, theory and psychology. I could write a book, play the toughest games, make a ton of money, play tournaments and cash games, be seen all over the world and be a "poker superstar," lol. But I don't have that personality. I have the Jungian INTJ head, and the "type A" classification from Friedman.

I can't separate myself from the negative things that go on in life or in the poker world. Does that make me a better person? No. Does that necessarily indicate co-dependency? No. Does that frustrate me to no end? YES!

One thing I love to do is play live. I am able to reduce myself to the lowest common denominator. I get into an almost zen-like mental state. I am hyper-aware of everything that is around me, and as I have said many times, I can usually close my eyes and remember the chip stacks at the table down to the dollar (in white chip games). I can describe everyone at the table as TPP, TAP, LAP or LPP (following Dr. Al's criteria). I know roughly how many hands the dealers is grinding out per hour and habits of every player at my table (attempting angleshooting, calling station, maniac, etc).

The poker room narrows itself down to one thing, one focus. I can be the silent, deadly, stone cold player. I can be the rock. I can be chatty cathy. I can run over the whole table. I can be meek, mild and invisible (this is the case most often, since I play so much O8 and want to fish in the players). I can be a man or a woman.

In this respect, I draw absolutely NO attention or controversy. But if even one guy decides he's going to palm some chips because no one is paying me go absolutely ape.

I remember one incident at the Belle, right before I was kicked out. Someone who was playing there and later found my journal said that I was so utterly outraged that I "scared him." Yes, a MAN actually wrote me an e-mail saying this. Yes, that is how angry I get if even one jackass decides he is going to cheat someone. I don't care if it's one frigging dollar, I'm going to ride your butt like a gay convict in prison for life. I'm going to scream rat and make such a scene that I'M the one who ends up getting banned from the cardroom along with you.

Is this a strength or a weakness? Both. I wish I could control myself, but there is no way, it just ain't gonna happen. Maybe it's the redneck in me, but I'm going to ream you in public.

So here you go, a look into my very, very deepest psyche. In the end, it does come back to poker, doesn't it? Your mental stamina and mental health can make or break you. It can help you develop into a world-class player, or it can keep you from ever becoming a world-class player.

I know where I fit into this equation. Do you?

Felicia :)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Remembering Charlie (One Year Later)

Being a poker blogger of such extremes, it is often that the positive things I write get overlooked, and the negatives get blown way out of proportion. I think that is probably human, and normal, for what that is worth.

I, myself, have a tendency to do this. I'll go to a blog which posts hand histories all the time, and over time, slowly, my mind will start to convince me that the blog is a "hand history" blog, and nothing more, even if that is far from the truth.

So sometimes it seems to others that my site is a ranting, raving, negative site. Oh, that part is true. Okay, let me change that. People assume that I never say anything positive. Never meaning 'not one time.' Which is obviously not true.

Some of the comments which stuck out in my mind that I received in the past week from e-mail, IM, and LJ, as well as on other poker blogs, are as follows:

"Is she the Queen of Blogging and decides what is worthy and by whom it should be

Um, no. I was mostly reprimanding myself for the stupid thoughts I was having regarding blogging things that I would suck at. And it also bites that people who blog live tourneys get paid so little, for so much work. I tried that shtick back in 2004 and it was not a great experience. The best of the best are treated like utter shite (no, I wasn't the best. I am thinking of Andy Glaser and Pauly here). TV uses and discards the other forms of media at a festival, without even so much as a reach around.

"Equating honesty with name calling is simply not correct. Being rude doesn't earn anyone a badge of "most honest," it just makes them rude."

The person I call the most names is myself. Yeah, maybe I have MPD, but I think I'm allowed to call myself a moron if I want. I am almost never as hard on anyone else as I am on myself.

Now, before I start sounding all Kumbaya and hugging trees, no, I am not a nice person. I am not trying to say, "Hey, I'm not nice, and you know what, admitting that makes it okay!" No, it doesn't make it okay. No, that doesn't excuse my behavior. I am out of line many times, and not just towards myself, but towards others. It doesn't make it okay that I admit it, it doesn't make it okay that I continue it, it doesn't make it okay that I don't get a lobotomy and shock therapy, it in no way makes me a better person (that I don't try to hide it, that I admit it). I am not proud that I am unable to get along socially and be nicey-nice. It is not a badge of honor to be a hermit and an outcast. I am not proud of my inability not to go ape whenever I shop for a new car and have to face these slick, lying, snake-oil salesmen.

I may attempt to explain my behavior, to over-explain what I said on my blog, and why I said it, but in no way do I feel that earns me a free pass. I am just as guilty as anyone else who refuses to shut their big, fat mouth. We gets lots of heats, we deserves what we gets.

"Felicia hasn't said anything nice about anything or anyone since I started blogging!"

This guy almost got me. I was actually considering for a nano-second to go back through my 400 posts and point out all of the times I was complimentary. What a jokester. Then I realized that he just reads what he wants to read. Absolutes are dangerous. Words like always and never usually indicate that a person simply makes up something to see in between the lines, or that the part of their brain that could absorb something good simply refuses to see it. And then they start up with the "always" and "never" type absolutes (YES, I do this, too! I freely admit it).

But in honor of this new friend of mine (haha), I will go back full circle to the start of this post. Which is that to read what one wants to read, instead of what is actually being said, is human, and probably pretty darned normal.

While I am constantly praising certain sites (Two Plus Two), blogs, players, writers or posts, it tends to get overshadowed by my rants. Which is really too bad, because there are some people out there who deserve to be the center of attention on my site, instead of relegated to the back pages, since readers who want to find hate tend to find ONLY hate.

So this is a post dedicated to them, and I will point out some of them for you, so that you can see what utter awesomeness I am talking about.
Drizz and I like to poke fun at each other. It's weird, because if people are born with handicaps, or develop them later, society at large tends to think the PC thing is to just ignore it. Don't speak about it, don't ask about it, and certainly don't make fun of it. Then, some of those same people have a gimp-fest in their own homes, making fun of the handicapped in private, where they won't get burned at the stake.

I tend to be pretty public about my deformities. Some are on the inside (no stomach, no right kidney, etc) and the obvious one on the outside (no boobs). Drizz is also candid, and likes the teasing if the person is for real, and not secretly trying to put him down. That dude is as screwed up as I am, and we both like to laugh about it, so please make fun of us in public, or do some parodies on your blog, because we both tend to laugh at handicaps. See his most recent, hilarious post.I love you, Dave, you're the best!
A newbie on the scene, she tends to come off a lot like me. I dearly hope to God she is just developing her style, and not really as screwed up as I am.

Today she had a great post about the mind trick we all must learn when gambling..."chips" aren't money. They are ammunition, bullets for our trade.
Mason is my friend. Mason and I are a lot alike in some respects. The things I love about him, also drive me batty. He is a lot like Glenn in the math-is-anal department. But I love Glenn and wouldn't change him for the world. Ditto with Mason.

Actually, Mason, David, Ray and Dr. Al have all be hugely supportive of me for years. I love all of them. I also love hundreds of posters on Two Plus Two. Yeah, LOVE is a big word for me. I don't throw it around often, but today I'm feeling generous. There are many psychologists and psychiatrists on Two Plus Two who genuinely go around trying to help people on the forum. They give, give, give and never stop.

Like any other thing in life, you have to take the bad with the good (oh, jeez, here we go again with "you." By "you" I mean me and/or we. Please don't write me hate mail accusing me of telling you how you have to read Two Plus Two, lol).

Two Plus Two is like family to me. Sure, just like in real life and in the blogosphere, most people hate me there. It is natural, I think. Very few people like a ball's-out person.
Some of the original poker bloggers are my friends, heroes and human beings I aspire to be. Eva is fantastic. She truly remembers the good as well as the bad. She is the only person who is still thanking me years later for giving her some tips on Stud games (Stud, Stud 8, Razz) and O8. Jeez, all I said was that a pair of nines are no good in O8 ;)
My best friends in poker are the top tourney players. You may not have seen them all on TV, most of them couldn't care less if they made the TV table, they just want to win. For them, poker is a job, and naturally the more times you hit the final table, the more successful you are, in general.

As if I needed to explain myself further, why these guys are my heroes, on top of everything else, they are wonderful, giving human beings.

New readers may not understand the link I have with them, so I'll provide a little hint to something that happened last year.

What they did for the life of an unknown, low-limit player during his last two weeks was something I have never experienced before. Many people who are around natural (or non-natural) disasters have gone through this type of heroism. I hadn't gone through anything like this until last summer. The extremes that these players went through for a man named Charlie were extraordinary, given the pressures of the World Series of Poker and playing 12-20 hours of straight poker per day, just to get by.

The top players aren't my friends because they are "on TV" or "famous." I couldn't care less about that type of celebrity. They are my friends because they treat me as a peer and went to huge efforts last year in order to comfort someone they didn't even know.

I love you, guys.
Glenn is obviously my biggest hero. He puts up with my obtuseness every, single day. He barely ever complains. Of course, growing up with a nazi mother probably prepared him for the hell which is Felicia, but still, he is a kind, generous, loving man.

Felicia :)

Monday, May 29, 2006

How I Could Change and Make My Poker Blog Good

I'm going to try an experiment to see if my epiphany has any crediblity. See what I mean about how realizations aren't that good for me? It's already consuming my life when I should be out in the garden and yard, doing something productive.

Okay, I'm going to use one of my most controversial posts ever. I'll take it apart, and put it back together again changing it to read more internally. I usually have trouble referring to myself this way, but I'll give it a go, just for the sake of the experiment.

Now here is where the rest of you (you meaning "other people besides me" not "all of us") come in. Every reader who has ever thought I was slamming his or her blog, every reader who has ever wanted to strangle me, every reader who has ever flamed me either in my comments, my personal e-mail, IM's or on his or her own blog, please read through the updated version of this controvesial post, and give your candid comments at Live Journal.

For all of my regular readers who know of people who have stopped reading my blog due to their false belief that I am "out to get them," please refer them to this post, if they are interested in taking part.

For this one time, only, I am allowing you to publicly and openly tell me how you would have reacted to this post if it had been written this way originally, instead of the way I actually posted it.

One warning, though. If you send me a death threat, because you think you see an easy way to attack and scare me, I'm sending your IP address and threat to the FBI. They are as paranoid as me, they don't screw around. So don't think you have found some way to "get back" at me for all of the "horribleness I have brought into your life," lol.

I just want plain, simple, direct comments:

1) Would you have been less offended by this post versus the original?
2) Would you have been offended just as much?
3) Would you have flamed no matter what I said, because you hate me, everything I stand for, and are looking for an outlet for your hatred?

That is it, I don't need some kind of manifesto on why I'm a terrible person, why I need to be burned at the stake, why you hate me, why I have some kind of mental problem, what I should change about my blog for you to like it better, why you exist or anything else that you might think is important. Don't waste your time, I'll just delete it.

Okay, so here we go:

Original post is at: with a follow-up at:

Here is the changed, combined post (combined for ease of reading):
Okay, now that I have ripped myself to shreds, I'll try to provide some hints on what I think would make my poker blog good.

1) Don't post bad beat stories
2) Don't post hand histories
3) Don't whine about losses
4) Don't post pics of kids or pets
5) Give my opinion
6) Am I a poker journal, or not?
7) Try to act serious about my play
8) If I am going to enable comments, actually REPLY when someone leaves one

I'll take them one-by-one, since I've never had trouble "elaborating," plus I still don't know much about reading comprehension, because I continue to break the many commandments of good blogmaking.

1) First, NO ONE cares about my bad beat. I could post the worst beat in the world, and I guarantee, no one cares. Players with any, little amount of experience have suffered beats. Most of us have "seen it all." And you know what? They DON'T CARE!

Believe it or not, and no, I don't expect myself to believe it, because I am obviously not targeting top players, "bad beats" usually are anything but...they usually are indicative of bad play. Yes, I am serious. My supposed "bad beat" normally means I played badly either during the hand, leading up to the hand or in general. Good players realize that there really is no such thing as a "bad beat." We call that variance. Or the small price we pay for keeping the fish in the game. We don't even think about "bad beats." We congratulate the fish and move on. It is NOT an issue. We don't tell our friends about "bad beats," we don't tell other players, we don't really write about it (except to flesh out the story, or illustrate how we got eliminated from a tourney), we don't cry, pout or whine. We just keep going. It's not an issue.

No matter how sympathetic someone acts when I write about my "bad beat," or tell a player at my table, etc, it is just an act. Because they truly DON'T CARE! If I am sitting next to a player who commiserates with me, he is doing it because he feels I am a fish and he DOESN'T WANT ME TO LEAVE! If I post it on your blog and get some sympathy, either one or two things are occurring. Either the person commenting is humoring me because he thinks I am a fish, or the commenter is a fish himself, and has no idea how to play poker. Either way, I LOSE. Stop posting bad beats!

2) Hand histories are complicated to read through. Use a converter, or better yet, tell a narrative. If I'm not literate enough to walk through a hand, I probably shouldn't have a public poker journal.

3) Everyone loses. Whether I am running bad or playing bad, no one wants to listen to me whine. Take the variance like a man and buck up. Just say I lost, and let that be that. I don't have to whine about how badly I am running (or more likely, playing).

4) This is a personal one. Lots of people like cute little pics of pets and kids. I don't. If you see "me" playing online with a stupid little dog avatar, blame Glenn. (I can't seem to find a way to really change this one)

5) Opinion is the whole concept of keeping a public poker journal. It's MY journal. It's about ME. We can get watered down media anywhere. People want to hear about ME, for good or bad. Don't back down, state my opinion.

6) Do I keep a poker journal? Or am I a politician? Keep politics, kids, pets, religion, marriage and other topics off of my journal if I am advertising myself as a "poker journal." There are obvious exceptions, like if my wins or losses have to do with something personal in my life. Or if something "political" is threatening the livelihood of online professional playing. A personal anecdote can also be used as a segue into my post, and is done very successfully on many poker blogs. But if I find that over 25% of my posts aren't about poker, change the name and description of my blog.

7) Giggly goo-goo about playing the beer hand and cracking aces is cute the FIRST TIME. It ceases to be cute when 50% of my blog describes me getting wasted and showing down 72o in order to tilt the table. Table screen shots, distorted and demeaning pics, losing buy-in after buy-in at small stakes while purposely playing like a monkey aren't cute when posted more than once. Save the comedy for another type of blog, not a serious poker blog.

8) This one is so obvious that I don't have to elaborate. Then again, after yesterday's fiasco, perhaps I do. Reading comprehension seems to be non-existent these days. If I enable comments, and someone leaves me an encouraging one, an informative one, or compliments me on something, it is generally GOOD ETIQUETTE to respond. If I keep ignoring comments, I can watch my sitemeter bomb like a California mudslide.


Felicia :)


Holy cow, I just had an epiphany! Usually that is not a good thing, when I "realize" something. Why? Because it just gives me a whole bunch of fodder with which to take up my mind, my life and my journal.

I'm a little slow on the upchuck. I'm normally pretty "bright," and pick up on things quickly. But some things are so plain and simple that I just don't get them. Like certain jokes, comics, stuff like that. Things that are so easy that I am blindsided and can't "get it." Like the elephant in the room that no one sees. So if someone gives me a "hint" or tries to write something in code, using subterfuge to give me a message, I tend not to even notice. It keeps flying over my head. Obviously this one was one of them...

Okay, so here was the realization. Upon looking back at my most controversial posts, the ones that seem to attract tons of flamage are the ones where I was ranting and raving and used the word "you" in many instances. The ones where I used the words "me" or "I" were usually not flamed, but got all of these ignorant comments like, "Oh, Felicia, you are obviously lacking in self-esteem. Maybe you should get professional help."

So when I get distracted by a pet peeve of mine, or something that latches onto me and bugs the crap out of me until I write about it and get it out of my system, no matter how clear I make it that the reason it is driving me insane is because it is probably a weakness of MINE, if I ever say the word "you" to denote "all of us, me included," some of my readers instantly assume I am personally attacking them!

That is why I get like a dozen e-mails from totally different people, each one of them claiming that I was personally attacking them or their blog. That I had them, specifically in mind when I ranted. Sure, that doesn't mean that they aren't lacking in self-confidence, to just automatically assume I meant them, personally, but at least it goes a long way towards explaining why I've had so much heat lately.

The motivation for me writing about the metaphorical posts and how much I hate them? ME! I got several suggestions from people to make a metaphor about gardening being poker, and for a split second I actually considered it!!! And then it hit me, "Don't be stupid, you moron!" (totally stolen from Howard Stern.) "You hate it when other people do it, so why would you even think about it for a nanosecond?!? Don't ever, ever do this, or you are going to be the biggest retard on the face of the earth! And before you can even reconsider, write it down and cement it, permanently and in writing, that you will never, Never, NEVER even consider this again, you idiot!"

So there ya go, that is how I started the rant about metaphoric posts. ME! Not you! Usage of the word "you" meant ALL OF US. As it does almost every time I rant and rave. Sometimes I'm solely talking to myself, other times I'm talking to the world at large. But people with extremely low self esteem just somehow naturally assume, "Oh, my god, she is picking on me again! She somehow saw my blog and hated what I wrote! Woe is me, it hurts so bad, I must go and now flame her or send her a death threat by anonymous e-mail, in order to feel better about myself!"

LOL, I can't believe I didn't realize this before now. Wait, maybe I did, maybe I realized it before chemo and just forgot! Jeez, now I have to go through all of my posts and find out, d'oh!

So maybe now I should just have a little blurb at the beginning of all of my rants that reads something like, "When I say YOU in the following rant, I am referring to ME and/or ALL OF US."

Or maybe I should just change all of the "you's" to "me's." Oy, but then I'll get all of the self-described amateur therapists singing Kumbaya and commenting that I lack self-esteem, lol. I can't win.

By the way, you have no sense of humor. Oh, by you, I mean me. I obviously have MPD. The amateur shrinks were right.

Felicia :)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Personal Responsibility and Poker (Redux)

Since I am a big proponent of personal responsibility, this is a topic I tend to repeat again and again. Yes, I know the new "flames" will include that I rant and rave about the same topics over and over again. I'm just giving you a free disclaimer here. You are correct. I hope that makes you feel good.

So many people don't want to take personal responsibility anymore. It has become almost epidemic in our society. As a recent example, yesterday I wrote about how I took a "shocking" medical terminology class at Blue Cross back in '89 or '90. Today, I'll bet that class doesn't even exist. Or if it does, students probably have to sign extensive waivers to take it. Why? Because some yahoo probably sees an opportunity in that class. He or she sits down with the attitude that they are going to be set for life. After the first "shocking" photo of a vagina sitting on top of a ham, they cry, "Ooooh, my poor eyes, I've been sexually harassed! I need at least five million to make it all go away!" Thus the end of the best medical terminology teaching method.

I remember my years at AOL. It got so atrocious; the new, creative ways that employees came up with trying to scam AOL out of a free ride. One employee in our department, no less, got more and more creative as time went on. Since we were using a building in Reston which was only two stories, it had an elaborate staircase in the front lobby. One could either choose to take the stairs, take the elevator, or park in back, which was on the second floor. This guy decided that he needed a free ride for life, so arranged a little "trip and fall." Unfortunately, he didn't get hurt as badly as he was expecting. He only bruised his toe a little. This didn't stop him from trying the "I need five million to make it all better" route, though. He played out the whole bruised toe "disability" for six months or more. Limping around in a cast, showing everyone the bruise, claiming that since he'd been a police officer in the past he was going to be "permanently disabled" from the bruised toe.

When that backfired, he tried the "mental health" route. He went to several mental health professionals until he could bribe one to say that he had been "permanently disabled" by the mental stress of working at AOL. This was actually more plausible, because AOL was a real sweatshop. It wasn't odd to see people working 90-100 hours per week. Some had futons in their offices and literally slept at AOL. This joker wasn't one of them, btw, so proving that he had been mentally taxed by working so many hours backfired as well. AOL had his keystrokes to prove that he goofed off at home when he was supposed to be telecommuting, as well as being able to track the hours that he was actually in the building working for AOL. In the end, he was fired, just like he was fired from the police force. I don't think he ever managed to get a free ride, but who knows.

The reasons that people lose at poker are many. Personal responsibility is one of them. Go to any number of strategy forums and/or poker blogs, and the lack of personal responsibility is very clear. Tons of bad beat stories litter the forums. If a person loses a session, it was due to bad beats, lack of cards, schooling or any number of other excuses. Rarely does one see someone who just flat out says, "Wow, I lost because I played like shite!"

Just like my AOL co-worker, they want a free ride. That is why big tournaments with huge payouts are so attractive to most poker players. They want the lottery to take all of their troubles away. They don't want to have to "work" anymore. The American dream has turned from being able to turn almost nothing into something given enough hard work, to being able to come up with some scam or magic pill in order to live the "easy life" for the next fifty years.

Poker doesn't tend to work that way. Which is why you see so many players turning from cash games to big payout tourneys. They don't want to work at it. They want to "get lucky" instead.

Usually the person who is most likely to be a player who wants to live the easy life is the very same one who won't recognize it. Here are some traits you can look for if you are unsure about whether you are trying to "work hard" to become an expert player, or if you are trying to "get lucky."

1) Are you looking for one big windfall, or a slow, steady win?
2) Do you constantly scan the latest festivals, looking at those six and seven figure payouts for big buy-in events?
3) How much do you study about poker per day versus play? This includes:
a) studying hand histories
b) talking to mentors and/or coaches
c) discussing your play on poker forums
d) reading theory, psychology and strategy books by top players and/or theorists
e) keeping track of wins and losses
f) mentally discussing with yourself both your strengths and weaknesses, candidly, honestly, bluntly and humbly
4) Do you find yourself moving up in limits to take a shot when you are unprepared and outclassed?
5) Do you refuse to play limit, playing only NL and PL solely because you feel you can win a windfall?
6) Do you curse and scream pleas like, "Why can't *I* get lucky for once?"
7) Do you find yourself begging for a huge suck-out, to make a big score?

I'm sure I'm leaving tons of things out here, but I'm hoping some of you will find yourself in these examples, and decide to change your goals in poker.

One of my own, personal weaknesses is taking a shot. This has a lot to do with the fact that it is hard to find games other than HE at middle levels. I find myself wanting to simple "keep up," instead of knowing that I have an advantage at the table, and that I am prepared both mentally, monetarily and skillfully to beat this limit.

I remember reading a quote somewhere, but I certainly don't know where. It goes something like, "I could never worship a god who 'sends' people to hell." Then the responder says, "God never sent anyone to hell, people send themselves there."

This is not meant to be a theological debate. My point in making the post is personal responsibility. If you find yourself saying things like, "I can't work in a place which won't give me a raise/good review, etc," and you didn't actually deserve a raise, promotion or good review, then you cannot blame the company, the problem lies within yourself.

The same goes with almost anything in life. If your wife leaves you, and you constantly, bitterly remark, "She left ME, how could she? It's HER fault, not mine," then almost certainly she did not leave you, you left her long before she made the step of "physically" moving away.

I work very hard in my marriage. I make compromises that individuals do not like to make. But I am not in an "individual" arrangement, I am in a partnership, and we have to work together. Glenn, however, is a much more giving, loving and accepting person than I am. So if he were to "leave" me, per se, I could only have myself to blame. I worked at things much "less hard" than he did. Fortunately, we have a great marriage and we are very open about differences that we have, and things that come up. I do believe in marriage for life, so I never dwell on any negatives in that aspect.

Recently, a serial abusive poster was banned once again from 2+2. Because of things I said here, he assumed that I was the one who got him banned. No, HE was the one who got himself banned. I didn't do it. I can point out his past to those above me, but his history of abuse and duplicate accounts got him banned. I am just a moderator, I was not the one posting in such an offensive manner under his account. Take responsibility! (I will, however, point out that he, himself took responsibility for his abusive posts and banable behavior. I am just using this as a recent example of my overall point of poker and responsibility.)

I am responsible for whether I win or lose in poker. I am responsible for my results, the games I choose to play in, what happens to my money and everything else that matters at the table. If I lose control and steam away my money because some old man is being abusive to me and doesn't "believe" in women at the table, I still only have myself to blame. I could have reported him, if he was effecting the entire game, or I could have ignored him. I could have asked to transfer tables, if he was only effecting my own, personal game and not harming anyone else, or I could have just left. I have so many choices in these situations. If I choose not to make any choice save the choice of getting angry, deciding to go after him, personally, and letting him have all of my money, it is NO ONE'S FAULT BUT MY OWN! I do not make excuses for my failures.

So what are you looking for in your poker journey? Are you looking for a lifetime of hard work, proven, positive, steady results? Are you looking for a hobby, a career or a second income? Are you looking to have some control over a life of good decisions with an overall positive outcome? Or are you looking for that great pie in the sky? A huge windfall which will make you "set" for life?

No matter WHICH path you are looking for, your chances of succeeding are much better if you work hard and take personal responsibility for your results. Don't get caught up in excuses for bad play. If you find yourself telling a "bad beat" story, first assume that you played badly, either before, during or after the supposed "bad beat." And then analyze your play, as a whole, again and again, to find out what led up to this beat. Then take responsibility for it.

There is a saying among top, solid, successful poker players that goes something like this: "He may have lost a dime on that "bad beat," but he lost one hundred times that on BAD PLAY."

Poker is more in YOUR head than it is in anyone else's. It is more about YOU and where you are mentally than it is about an individual session, your opponents or how the cards fell.

First decide to look within yourself. Take responsibility, and then become a winner in both poker and life.

Felicia :)