Links o’ Interest

The American Gothic subjects posing with the picture.

For no good reason. I give you, man in rainbow chicken suit going over cliff on bicycle.

Dinosaurs and everything in this sand sculpture.

How to do the Moulin Rouge

“Keep fucking that chicken.”

A very inappropriate CAPTCHA for a dating site

Infinity and recursion

Needs help with Ikea furniture

Matthew McConaughey Cannot Stand Up By Himself

The world record holder for the most Guiness World Records

The world’s saddest dog

The white whale

Frustrated video dater completely loses his cool. Watch until the end.

I don’t know what this is, but I can’t turn it off

The worst cheating in sports history. “This is no run-of-the-mill piece of skulduggery… Rather, it was cheating as a potentially lethal act; as potential murder.”

The $20 millionaire

Oh Rush Limbaugh, you’ve topped yourself now. You want to bring back segregated buses!

The marshmallow test. They made it into cute montage, but it’s a very powerful test. Children who succeed (can wait a long time) do better in life in just about every way. The power to delay gratification is a enormous predictor of long-term success.

These two sides are equal

Woman threatened with $1000 fine for watching the neighbor’s children until the bus came.

Poker Update

We started the next “season”, which will run until around January 1st. We have updated our neighborhood’s game’s format. We are now using deeper stacks, slightly accelerating blind structure, and adding antes. We’ll also be experimenting with 7-2 bonus, cracked ace bonus, and bounties.

The night started poorly. On the third hand I had 9-10 of clubs. The flop was Q-9-6, with two clubs. I semi-bluffed a raise and was called. The turn was a low club, giving me my flush. Long story short – my ten-high flush lost to his jack-high flush and I lost half my stack.

40 minutes later I had pocket 9s. There had been one raiser. Playing short-stacked I needed to move all in. He decided to call. He had A-9, I was ahead 70%-30%. He got his Ace and I was knocked out. What are you going to do. I lost two big hands on unlucky cards. Not grossly unlucky though, just your everyday garden variety moderate bad luck. That’s poker.

I rebought. But one of our rule changes is that you can rebuy for only half the initial stack. I was short-stacked already. (There was never a question I would rebuy. I was the instigator behind bringing in antes, I was damn well going to last long enough to use them!)

Things looked a little better when I had A-A. I raised and got one caller. The flop was J-10-6. I checked, hoping he had a jack. He also checked. The flop was another 6. Now there was a pair on the board and two clubs, I couldn’t wait around. I went all-in. And I must say it was about the best acting I’ve ever done. I paused just the right amount, had my body language just right, I could not have communicated weakness better. He thought I was bluffing, I doubled up.

That was the spark I needed. I made it to the final four. Blinds were at 500-1000 with a 100 ante, the average stack was around 10K.

Under the gun, I had A-8. I should have raised, but I chose to limp. Small blind limped in. The flop was K-8-4. They both checked. I didn’t think anyone had a king, I pushed all-in. The small blind called with 6-4. The turn was a 6. I didn’t even notice he had gotten his second pair and had to be called out when I started raking the pot. Ugh.

The next hand I had K-10. The flop was A-K-x. I put in a raise. He went all-in. I had to call (it was 1600 more to a 8K pot). He did indeed have the Ace. But wait, the turn is another king, I have trips! And the river is… another ace!? His full house of Aces over Kings beat my full house of Kings over Aces. That was a fun way to go out. You couldn’t complain about that last ace since he had been ahead from the start.

Summary:

I had a lot of good starting hands, but mild bad luck in hitting hands with them.
You wouldn’t know it from this summary but I played aggressively the whole night. That was good. I stole blinds all over the place.
But I didn’t play aggressively in a few key hands at the end, and it cost me. Checking the A-8 was a big mistake.

Tonight: -$40

Links o’ Interest

Poker is off this week, and I wanted to get this up before the Kanye jokes got old.

Kanye, cut it out. No really! Stop it! Okay, that’s over the line. Even Obama thinks you’re a jackass.

11 interesting musical yearbook photos

How many people are in space right now?

Make a commercial in two weeks with a zero budget. You get what you pay for.

375 days of exercise.

Obama cue cards

Dickipedia

He thinks he can do better.

The rock that made men laugh

Lehman Brothers might have been saved if Warren Buffet had been able to figure out his voice mail.

The man who invented exercise. He’s 100 years old, he discovered the link between exercise and long healthy life.

Powerpoint Problem: Reading Aloud

Never read Powerpoint slides aloud. Nothing is worse than a presenter back the slides out loud to the audience.

  • It is patronizing. I can read. I’ve been doing it for a while. I don’t need your help.
  • It shows your lack of expertise.If all you can do is read aloud it says that you literally don’t know anything that isn’t on the screen already. You might not even have written the content, you may just be a hired monkey reciting words other people wrote.
  • I can read faster than you can talk. Not just me. Everyone can. You read about five times faster than you speak. By the time you’re halfway through the slide your audience has already read the whole thing and has drifted off to a better place.
  • No one is listening to you. Because they’ve already read your slide.
  • You remove some of the only good things about Powerpoint. Words are in different fonts, they can be animated, they are in lists, they are set off or indented, they are bolded or italicized, etc. All of this is lost when you read aloud.

What’s a better way?

Some people are naturally visual learners (I am one of these). Some people are naturally auditory learners. Some people are naturally tactile learners. In a presentation you are involving the first two. You want to make sure that people from both groups come away understanding what you said. But simply presenting the same words in the same order won’t do it. Ideally, your words and the presentation should complement each other. No one learns exclusively in one mode, they simply prefer one over the other. Everyone learns best by getting elements of all styles.

When you are speaking, you should speak around what is on the screen. Say it in a different way. Emphasize a different portion. Explain how the last slide led to this one. Show how this is leading to the next portion. Pick out the highlights. Go more in depth on certain items. Make a joke or two.

When this is done, all kinds of learners are engaged in your content. The visuals enhance the auditory and vice-versa. The visual learners get what they need but have it reinforced by what they are hearing. The auditory learners get what they need but have it anchored by what is on the screen. Each gives context and depth to the other.

All of this is ruined if you simply read aloud. So don’t do it!

Are You Ready for Some Football? (Part 2)

I am so glad the NFL is back. I hate baseball and golf, so my summers seem long. I am forced to be with my family playing in the pool and watching them grow up… yuck!

Tonight the Patriots season begins. Hopes are high. Expectations are high. I will settle for nothing less than getting to the Super Bowl. Anything less than that is a failure.

This is a good way to start the season. Beating the snot out of the Bills on national TV is always fun.

Are Your Ready for Some Football (Part 1)?

Fantasy Football:

Once again, it looks as though I am primed to take the league by storm. I kept my top five from last year. I still I had a lot of talent that I couldn’t hold on to (you can only keep five), but I was able to convert them into draft picks, which were converted into decent players. Pre-season projection have me sitting on top of the league, but maybe not quite as dominant as last year. Here’s my team:

Name Position Team
Drew Brees QB NO
Philip Rivers QB SD
Frank Gore RB SF
Michael Turner RB ATL
Greg Jennings WR GB
Terrell Owens WR BUF
Roy Williams WR DAL
Kerry Collins QB TEN
Brady Quinn QB CLE
Darren Sproles RB SD
Tony Gonzalez TE ATL
Dustin Keller TE NYJ
Torry Holt WR JAC
Lance Moore WR NO

I have had a bad feeling about Michael Turner. I think he’ll be okay, but not as good as last year. The Falcons have a tougher schedule and teams are ready for him. Hopefully yesterday’s game will be the exception.

Week 1 is not quite yet over, but I have the high score before Philip Rivers and Terrell Owens take the field. Go me!

Links o’ Interest

Impact of Obama’s school speech

Get educated about sweat in tennis.

I will not read your fucking script.

The real Star Trek

Just one comma off

Chuck Klosterman repeats the Beatles. “I was initially confused by EMI’s decision to release remastered versions of all 13 albums by the Liverpool pop group Beatles, a 1960s band so obscure that their music is not even available on iTunes.”

To the guy in my closet: I don’t have AIDS

You can’t touch this

See if anyone is really paying attention to your presentation

The Sarychev Peak explosion as seen from space

8-bit Weezer, 1 and 2.

Parent of the year

Nine women rescued from fake Big Brother house, tricked into believing they were reality TV show contestants and filmed naked

Poker Update: Tournament of Champions

Tom Brady

I wore my Tom Brady jersey for the big poker tournament tonight. The kids asked about it. I said, “The New England Patriots are winners. Tom Brady is a winner. Tonight, I hope wearing a winners shirt will make me a winner.” They completely understood. And the shirt delivered!

I played well. I did indeed play well. But let’s be upfront about this. I was lucky. Very lucky. I had great cards all night. Playing well meant avoiding major mistakes and bullying people around and getting yet another good flop. That’s not very hard to do right. Oh, there were so many notable hands… luckily I was taking notes!

The tournament structure was different than our usual game. For starters our initial chip stacks were dependent on how many points we had accumulated in the regular season. I was solidly middle of the pack.

Starting Chips for the Tournament of Champions

Starting Chips for the Tournament of Champions

In addition:

  • Only eight players
  • No chumps
  • No rebuys
  • Winner take all
  • Slower blind escalation in the later stages
  • Bigger stacks

This added up to a structure with deeper relative stacks. Which in turn meant that there would be more skill over luck. I’m not sure if that happened. The people I knocked out probably thought I was just lucky and they may be right. I took notes this time, so there is more detail than usual. At first they were laughing at my note taking, but the laughs dwindled as the chip stack grew.

Let’s get to the hands! Blinds are at 25-50, shuffle up and deal!

  • I have A-J clubs. I call the pre-flop raise to 150. The flop is x-x-x. He bets 200. I call. The turn is my Jack. He bets 200, I call. The river is a blank. He bets 200, I call. He had king high. A promising start.
  • I have A-K. My pre-flop raise is called. The flop is A-K-5. I check, he bets big, and I call. The turn is another Ace. I have the nuts. I have the bloody absolute nuts! It’s been a long time since this has happened. How do I get the most money out of him? I check. He bets a lot, I call. The river is a blank. This time I bet 2,400. I am called. He has A-5, for a full house of Aces over fives. It isn’t good enough to beat my full house of Aces over kings. I get about 5,000 profit out of this hand and cripple the opponent.
  • I have A-8 clubs. The flop is x-x-7. He bets 300 into a 300 pot. I call. The turn is an Ace. He keeps betting, I keep calling. He has 6-7, and I get another 800 or so profit as the blinds go up.
  • Let’s take stock. In the first 20 minutes I have increased my chip stack from 6,800 to around 12,000. I have had one monster hand – and even better – when the other guy had a very strong second best hand. I have converted two marginal hands into big profits. I have done this without raising much. The rest of the table is scared of my checks, they don’t know if it means I’m slowplaying them.
  • I have K-K. The board eventually gets to J-8-7, x, 10. If the other guy has a 9 he has a straight. I call his big bet. He had K-A, I get another 2,500 or so.
  • I’m definitely playing loose right now. I am playing 50% of the hands. I don’t mind losing lots of blinds, but I am hoping that I will flop some big hands to take down a big pot. I am clearly inspired by Phil Helmuth’s play in last night’s WSOP broadcast and my own luck tonight. I’m playing loose. I am wondering ten minutes later if I’m playing too loose, I have given back 1,500 already. May be time to tighten up a little?
  • I have 2-2. The blinds are raised from 100 to 375. Two players in the pot, and I call. The flop is 10-10-2. Ha! Last week I caught hell for whining about not catching a set. Well lookie here! I flopped a set! In fact I flopped a full house! I got another 1,200 or so out of that. I should have gotten more, but the other guy didn’t have enough of a hand to call my last bet. As the blinds go up to 75-150 I have 15,000 in chips. That’s roughly 30% of the chips in play.
  • Q-10, I limp from the small blind. The flop is 10-x-x, I have top pair. I put in 400. He reraises to 800. I was not expecting that. Is he just trying to push back against me? I call. The turn is a blank. I bet 600. He re-raises to 1,800. I’m not sure why, but I don’t have him figured for K-10 or A-10. There are now 2 spades on the board. I’m not sure why, but I have him figured for a spade flush draw. He’s hoping to push me out of the pot, but he has outs if I stay. I do stay, calling his 1,800. The turn is the King of spades. I check and he puts in 3,000. Damnit. I’m not sure about my read, but there are too many hands that beat me now. I think about it for a long time but I fold. This hand is killing me, should I have called him or not? Should I have? I hate poker!
    (When the night was over he said he had 3-4 off suit. It was an over-the-top bluff for the sheer hell of it. “It was a really stupid play. I shouldn’t have gotten away with it.” So I was clearly wrong to fold and my read was way off.)
  • It’s blind vs blind. Small blind limps to me. I call with Q-10. The flop is K-J-10. He bets 300. I call with my middle pair and open-ended straight draw. The turn is an Ace giving me the straight. I eventually rake in another 1,000 profit. (Yes, I am counting profit throughout this blog post, not pot size. It was a 2,000 chip pot.)
  • I raise as dealer with K-8 to see if I can steal the blinds. I get two callers. The flop is 10-7-5. I call a bet of 400. The turn is another 5. He bets 400, I come over the top with 1,200. He thinks about it for a while and folds.
    I like this hand. I’m sure the other guy had the better hand. But I won it with skill. And position, and my big stack, and my table image to pull off a naked bluff. A nice 800 or so.
    I have around 17,000 in chips. The blinds are moving up to 150-300.
  • I just stole the blinds twice. But then folded after putting 800 in the pot. I guess that’s holding even. I am hovering now. The game has gotten much more aggressive. I am trying to pick my spots a little more carefully. Nothing interesting happens for the next two rounds.
  • At 300-600, there is a pre-flop raise to 2,500. I have A-Q suited. I think for a moment, but it’s an obvious call. I have the big stack and premium cards. The big blind surprises me by also calling. There is 7,500 in the pot. The flop is A-2-2. Great flop, I have highest two pair with a queen kicker. I think for a minute. What can beat me? A pair of aces, but that’s unlikely since two are accounted for. A pocket 2, but that’s unlikely with these huge pre-flop bets. A-K beats me and that’s very possible. Nevertheless, I have to push. I put 5,000 in the pot – pushing any callers all-in. I am the big stack. I don’t want to make the tough call, I want them to make the tough call. The big blind grudgingly folds. The original raiser thinks for a while. He eventually calls with A-J. My hand holds up. (Not only did he have a tough call, but he had just lost a large pot on a bad beat to a 4% river card. He was understandably frustrated at going from 2nd stack to busted in two straight hands.)
  • The next hand I have pocket Qs and quickly end up all-in against the small blind and his A-K. It’s a classic coin flip! The flop is A-x-x. I am groaning already, I don’t notice that they are all hearts. The turn gives me a flush that I don’t even notice. I sheepishly rake in all his money.
  • We are now at 3-handed. I have 50-60% of the chips. Within five minutes I knock out the short stack. As we go into heads-up play I have ~70% of the chips.
  • My luck continues in heads up. I push with K-8. I push with Q-10. I limp with 10-7 and 10-7-x comes on the flop. I get pocket 2s that hold up. With Q-Q I put his A-5 in and easily win to take the night. (He later told me that besides the Ace, he didn’t get a card over a nine during all of heads up.) Hey, I won! Holy schnikes, I did it!

Tell ’em the news Freddie!

My winnings are $390, my biggest win ever in poker. But not just money, the win itself was sweet, and it comes with a heaping load of neighborhood glory.

Could the GOP get any Worse?

Holy cow.

Michael Duvall is a conservative Republican state representative from Orange County, California. While waiting for the start of a legislative hearing in July, the 54-year-old married father of two and family values champion began describing, for the benefit of a colleague seated next to him, his ongoing affairs with two different women. In very graphic detail.

You got to read the details. It’s just awesome.

Bryan Reesman Blog

A lot of you readers know my ol’ buddy Bryan Reesman. Bryan has made a name for himself in the review writing world. He focuses primarily on music, but steps out for general pop culture once in a while. His work has appeared just about everywhere you’ve ever heard of.

Bryan started a blog this year also. It’s good stuff. His latest post was on the first page of reddit today, which is no small feat. So head on over, check it out.

Links o’ Interest

Man, that is one great looking cupcake

We’ll always have the Batman

Beavis and Butthead return

Finding common ground

Another guy who goes to extremes to avoid nagging wife: robs bank

Don’t piss off the guys with the bulldozers

Amazing Beach Boys recording sessions. Up for 14 days only.

Disturbing motherhood

That is a bad date.

A morning of awkwardness

Cockney ATMs: Reading your bladder of lard

I yelled at a congressman today…

Banned for using a time-distortion field

The washing machine saga from Dooce (one of the top “mommy-bloggers” out there)

It’s the simple things in life

This will make you feel good

This photo makes me giggle

Hitler

The Boston Globe photo archive is amazing. Here’s a Ted Kennedy retrospective.

A weird oversight in the torture debate: strategic efficacy.

The Redskins front office is awful. Just awful. Update: They retreated. Clearly because of Muttroxia’s far-reaching impact.

It was just too much, having to return to court twice on the same day to contest yet another traffic ticket, and Fire Chief Don Payne didn’t hesitate to tell the judge what he thought of the police and their speed traps. The response from cops? They shot him. Right there in court.

Not funny, just a random good song

Something About NPR

I need more test posts to see if I have fixed the problem. And this old one attracts spam, so I’m deleting the original and pasting the text below (from 11/29/2007).

I was listening to NPR today, and there was a story about the arrest of some people who were allegedly plotting to blow up the Sears Tower. The report, after giving the basic facts, went on to say that “The Administration conceded that the scheme was only in the planning stages.” Note the use of the words “conceded”. To concede means you are giving in, that you have lost a point in an argument. But NPR didn’t tell us what the argument was. They didn’t even say there was an argument, only that the Administration had lost it. It’s a very odd way to state facts. It’s as if I told someone that you had conceded you read Muttroxia. It’s not a concession unless you unsuccessfully deny my assertions.

So why this phrasing? Liberals like myself believe that the Administration’s arrests have mostly been ludicrous PR campaigns that bear little reality to any real terrorist threat. Viewed from this context, a reporter would want to find out if the plot was serious or not. If the Administration said that no action had been taken, it supports that viewpoint, and may be seen as a concession.

Here’s another way of looking at it. Would you rather have these people blow up a building!? Of course not, you want to arrest them before anything happens! You could equally well say “Reporters conceded that no harm had been done to innocent civilians”.

And that’s bias goes in the media. Supposedly objective journalism that really isn’t. I happened to pick on NPR here, but there are a thousand examples every day.

There are certain words that trigger my skepticism (that’s why I remember one lone sentence in a news report). Conceded is a new one for me. Also notice the use of the word “only”. “The Administration conceded that the scheme was only in the planning stages.” Is that word needed? What does is add? More bias!

The worst offender is the word “just”. I am guilty of it myself (see here, here, here, and here for starters). I sometimes make people repeat sentences without using the word “just” and when they do they realize they aren’t saying anything important.

2009 Update: For some odd reason, the spam merchants have focused on this one post exclusively. So I’m editing a few phrases in the hopes it will help. If not, I’ll try removing links, or maybe even removing the post altogether.

Muttrox is Hacked

Let me know if you follow this blog with any RSS feed, particularly Google. I got hacked somewhere along the way. I am looking for more information about the hacking.

Among other measures I just deleted a bunch of weird user accounts. If you can’t log in, that’s why. Just set up a new account, or let me know via email and I’ll set one up for one.

There’s some more steps I need to take, but they are a technical challenge to me, so I’ll see if the basic first steps I’ve taken.

Book Recommendations (Non-Fiction)

  • Gaming the Vote: Why Elections Aren’t Fair (and What We Can Do About It)
    by William Poundstone: I have always been interested in the mathematics of voting. It is not a simple problem to figure out the best way to select a winner based on a group of preferences. What you think of as the “normal” way (the person with the most votes wins) is about the worst there is. See the 2000 election the Bush, Gore, Nader dynamics for example. But it’s worse than that. Nobel-prize winning Kenneth Arrow proved that in any ranking voting system (I like him better than him) it is impossible to have all the basics of fairness. (It’s more mathy than that, but by basic I mean things like “If one person is favored by all voters, they ought to win” or “in comparing candidate A to candidate B, it shouldn’t matter if candidate C is there or not”.)

    This book walks through many real life cases that illustrate the problems with voting systems. It then shows you some of the options. You’ve probably never thought about it much, but there are other voting systems. (Order all the candidates, check all of them you approve of. etc.) In my book group, I changed our voting system to approval voting, which is a much stronger system.What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are their chances of ever being used in the real world?

    The book was written in 2008. The author lists three politicians who are supporters of voting reform. Two of them are John McCain and Barack Obama.

  • Nudge: (Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein)
  • You’ve probably heard about this book already since Cass Sunstein got a job with the Obama administration. This books shows how in many areas of life, the way choices are presented can nudge people towards certain outcomes. They call it paternalistic libertarianism, in that the state influences what you do for your own good, but doesn’t mandate or dictate what you do. The perfect example is 401(k) accounts. Very few people opt-in to these even though 99% of workers should be. A very simple change to the choice architecture is to make the default opt-in. Workers are automatically enrolled, but they can easily opt-out anytime they choose. The outcome is much higher rates of worker savings. The book is filled with examples from all walks of life how institutions (usually the government) can do a better job getting to the outcomes it wants without truly infringing on liberties.

  • The Way we Shop (Paco Underhill):Have you ever thought about why the milk is in the back of a supermarket? How the endcaps are arranged? How you are guided throughout a store? How the cash registers are set up? Underhill is a researchers who by chance got involved in these questions and has since made a career out of it. How do humans interact with a retail environment? The writing is only so-so, but the information is fascinating. You’ll never look a store the same way again. (It also has the anecdote I referenced (badly) in the bathroom flower post.
  • Tall Tales (Terry Pluto): An oral history of the early days of the NBA. If you are a basketball fan like it has loads of great anecdotes to entertain you. My brothers father in law was on the Minneapolis Lakers, he gets a couple paragraphs. (My oldest son says, “AWESOME!!!”) It seems he had unusually dark skin and got involved in a racist incident even though he’s white. It was a different world back then, hustling owners, two-handed set shots, Wilt Chamberlain, Celtics dynasty, racism, and fights fights fights.
  • The Chris Farley Show: Chris Farley has never appealed to me every much. I don’t like comedians with one basic joke. After seeing the fat guy fall down a few times I got the point. Nevertheless, I read this book because the Sports Guy said it was good. He was absolutely right. This is a biography, told in bits and pieces by the people who knew him best.

    Chris Farley is fascinating subject. His rise to fame took more twists than most. You get an insiders view on trying to make it, and making it, in comedy. You get great portraits of Farley’s character. Turns out he was a nice guy. A genuinely naive nice guy, character traits that often held him back. And the addiction. Wow. There are addictive personalities and then there are addictive personalities. Farley was the latter. From the very first sip of beer he ever took, he was a goner. He was practically doomed from the start, it just took a few decades to play out. By the time the book comes to it’s inevitable conclusion you may have just misted up a few times along the way.

    As a Who fan, I couldn’t help but see the obvious parallels with Keith Moon’s life. Both were crazy for public attention, and would do anything to get it. Too often the “anything to get it” meant bigger and bigger jokes at their own expense. Both felt they had to play the outrageous comedian role to succeed. And both had no self-control with drugs, unable to stop the lifestyle they had lived so long. And of course, both died young. (Although Moon was clean and dry at the time, and was ironically killed by anti-alcohol pills.)

Poker Update

Update: Ole ole convinced me I’m being a whiner. At the bottom I’m adding in some of the mistakes and good plays I made last night. I remember a lot more of the hands the day after then I did that night when I was cheesed off.

Very frustrated. I played the whole night very well. I didn’t get many cards, but I got the most of what I had. I got caught bluffing twice, but it set a later play for me to double up because the other guy thought I was bluffing.

I have 4,400. Blinds are at 300-600. I have played one hand in the last 35 minutes. The blinds are raised to 1,800. I have A-Q. This is against the same guy who knocked me out with A-Q a couple weeks ago. (I just flipped through the poker posts. I didn’t write that one down. Anyhow…) I call. The flop is A-7-6, so I have top pair and a very strong kicker. He bets 600. 600? That’s a weird bet. But he’s a weird guy frankly, hard to figure out what he has because his bets are often non-standard. It doesn’t even matter. If I fold I’m down to only four big blinds. I am sure he doesn’t have A-A, pretty sure he doesn’t have A-K. He might A-7 or A-6, but I have to take that chance. I go all in. He turns over pocket 7s, he hit his set.

So I am annoyed. Why else am I annoyed? When I get a small pair (7s or below) I rarely raise, but I almost always call. The odds of flopping a set is about 8-1. If I do flop the set I should be able to get a huge pot of it. If I don’t I may be able to bluff the pot, I may have the best hand anyhow (no other made pair), or I may give up on the hand. I have called with a small pair about 25 times in the month or two and I haven’t hit a set once.

This is why I’m extra annoyed. I haven’t gotten this particular break in a very long time and despite a night of good playing I got screwed by someone else getting it. Oh yeah, and this guy got knocked out twice during the night because he went all-in with terrible hands, so against me is when he happened to get lucky, and it’s part of what makes him hard to read.

On the other hand, my reading is getting better. I don’t always trust my reads, but I am concentrating much harder on reads and gradually getting some the right feelings about some key hands. Twice tonight I called the exact cards someone had in their hand.

How I ruled:

  • I had A-J, an ace came on the flop. Me and another guy both bet fairly heavily on all the rounds. I had him figured for Ace with a lower kicker. It turned out he had A-10. I was proud of that read.
  • I got pocket Jacks again just as the blinds had gone to 150-300. In the small blind I raised it to 850. The big blind thought for a while and went all-in. The big blind player has cashed 9 weeks in a row (a very impressive streak). And he does bluff but in big pots, he usually has the goods. He isn’t the type to normally go all-in with less than premium cards. Nonetheless I instantly called him. His A-10 didn’t hold up and I doubled-up through him.

How I sucked:

  • I was in the big blind, one player and the small blind limped. I decided not to look at my cards for the sheer fun of it. The flop was A-x-x. Small blind checked. I still didn’t look at my cards and checked. The last player threw in a few hundred. Small blind folded. “Guess it’s time to look at my cards!” I had pocket Jacks. A great hand, but there was already an ace on the board. I thought the raisers play was consistent with A-8 through A-10 – a limp and then a stab at the pot. Guessing he had the ace, I folded. He later told me he did not have the Ace, or any card over an 8. (It came out because the next two hands in a row he had pocket jacks, so we were talking about my hand also.) If I had looked at my cards like any jackass should I would have raised preflop and won the hand easily.
  • On hands where I had a strong but not the nuts hand (for example, Q-J suited and the flop is Q-x-x) I was betting pretty big. I wanted to get other people out of the hand. Which worked. And it was consistent with my actions when I bluffed at the pot. However, it set up a bad dynamic. My good hands didn’t get much money because I took down the pot right there before it could grow. My bluff hands either took down the small pot or I eventually had to fold or lose a big pot. My good hands made me a little money and bad hands lost me a lot of money. I realized this about an hour in and tried to switch it up a little. When I had A-9 and the flop was A-x-x, I checked, and checked again when a third ace came on the turn. Then my big river bet was called. That showed a weakness in my game – I think I have to have the courage to take good-but-not-great cards a little further in the hand so I can get more money out of them. I think, what do you think?

    (Maybe this is whining also. Because I never had the hand where the other player had Q-9, or some second best hand that would keep them betting with me. But if they did have that second best hand and raised big I would have to make a good read to call them. Avoiding the difficult decision is a good thing also.)

  • Missed a few opportunities to steal blinds because I was too passive and just didn’t feel like making the stab at them.
  • On the very last hand I should have gone all-in preflop. I was gun shy because the exact same move against the exact same player had knocked me out a few weeks ago when it turned out he had pocket kings. But that shouldn’t have mattered. Putting 4400 into a pot of 2200 might not have been enough to get him out, in which case I would have lost anyhow. But it might have been enough to push his pocket 7s out. With only 7 big blinds to my name, A-Q is good enough that I should have forced the issue.
  • I had pocket jacks twice, A-K once, A-Q once, plenty of A-high and K-Q cards, low pocket pairs three times – I had enough cards tonight. I am still cheesed about the last hand but I can’t complain about the cards overall. It should have been enough for me to win, or at least have a big chip stack that could absorb the unlucky hand.

Charity

For no good reason, the Muttrox family gives charity in lumps. At some point in the year we sit down and figure out how much we’re going to give, pick out our favorite causes for the year, and write a few checks.

If you want to do good, there’s always a tension. There are two main ways to do good.

  • Relieving symptoms: Giving money to a begger, giving a meal to hungry people, adopting, helping out at Meals on Wheels, etc. You can only help a few people at a time. You have an immediate direct impact on lives, but their problems will probably come back the next day or year and your efforts are a drop in the bucket.
  • Attacking root causes:Giving to human rights, political causes, overpopulation, curing diseases. You go after the core issues that you think cause a lot of the problems of the world. You think your money could conceivable help the entire world. But if it does it will be in years or centuries and you never get the immediate payoff of concretely fixing something.

There aren’t many causes that span the gap. Microlending perhaps. I tend to favor the “root cause” approach. It fits well with my personality. It doesn’t call for personal involvement or ever meeting the beneficiary of the charity, but I believe it’s more effective in the long run. This also seems like the approach of the Gates Foundation.

How about you? Where do you send your charity funds? Or do you give at all?

This year the Muttrox family gave to four causes. I have two causes that go firmly in the “root causes” category: Human rights and literacy. I firmly believe that if you took any of the worst countries on earth and gave them governments that couldn’t torture them to death arbitrarily, and the populace was literate enough to learn about the world, there would be dramatic improvements. I give to Amnesty International. Literacy is harder, I haven’t found quite the right organization for me yet. In the meantime I gave to Literacy Action, who provides adult literacy programs in Atlanta. Can you believe it costs $2,000 for one adult for one year? Wow.

The other two are more in the symptom relief category. Solidly in the symptom relief camp is the Atlanta Food Bank. Their donations have plummeted and their needs have skyrocketed, both driven by the poor economy. We stepped in a little bit.

The last two years the majority of our charity money has gone to The Innocence Project. This group is dedicated to freeing wrongfully convicted people. Reading a sampling of the people they have helped is eye-opening. How would you like to spend the rest of your life in prison because of bribed witnesses, incompetent lawyers, corrupt judges, etc.? Maybe like this guy in the news this week. You have DNA evidence that will prove your innocence, but the system won’t let you take the test. Or you’ve already proved it but you still can’t get sprung. I am very glad to be a supporter of this group.