Poker Cats

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The second restaurant test

I love all of you, hurt by the cold...
-Red Hot Chili Peppers

So I made my way around town today in a manner worthy of a Family Circle comic strip map -- I got a haircut, left the shopping center to run, came back to buy boxes at Staples and then curiously wandered into Whole Foods where I saw a familiar lime-green coat.

That's frackin' variance for you. You don't see somebody in 16 months and then you run into her on back-to-back days.

It was a lot different to be trading jokes five feet away than being side to side.

In short, it kinda failed the second restaurant test.

That's what happens when you go to a great restaurant the first time, and go back again, expecting things will be as great as before. If it is, super. You've found an awesome place.

If it isn't, it's the folly of the second restaurant test.

"So how have you been?" I ask, while thinking Idiot! She doesn't have red hair.

She told me about the ice storm. I've been off today, so I've pretty much been cut off from the outside world. The people at the place where I got my hair cut had a hard time figuring out when the Super Bowl is, let alone something that's expected to happen tomorrow.

And then, I caught something out of the corner of her eye. Man, it's awkward for both of us. We're friends, but we're not that great of friends. Sometimes I wish I didn't know the things poker has taught me.

I wonder what she remembers of me. I remember her Irish temper and how her sweetness is not always genuine. I bet she remembers the guy who isn't Tyler Darden. I am nice, but I nearly always mean it. Joe Navarro has taught me how to smile with my eyes, even when I'm lying, however.

"So let's have lunch sometime," she says like how she does when she wants to restore order to things. "Promise?"

My eyes widen. "You promise."

"OK. I promise. Promise?"

Sheepishly. Stupidly. "I promise," I say.

I buy my things and leave and wonder why people (me) put others on a pedestal. Everyone is human. Everyone has their faults. She's a pretty girl, is all, and a more than decent friend when she wants to be.

Fuck no I'm not going to call her for lunch.

Bodog hijinks?

So I got an e-mail yesterday saying that if I wagered $100 on the Super Bowl at Bodog by Thursday, I'd get a $50 Live Credit, whatever that is.

I sent them an e-mail to make sure if I qualified -- I'd placed a bet on Chicago, +7, as previously mentioned and I also threw in a smaller bet on the under on Peyton Manning's passing yards.

I just received an e-mail saying that they're not offering that promotion. WTF? I forwarded them the e-mail I received.

Will keep you posted.

----------------

Btw, the lucky penny theory continued to hold its own yesterday -- I flopped a straight with 43s in a PL$100 game on 'Stars. Three people ended up all in, including a total fish with Q3o. Cat won.

And ... I won my first online game of Settlers of Catan yesterday. Penny rocks!

Expert players do not believe in luck. They just believe in lucky pennies. LOL

A lucky penny

All the ways you wish you could be, that's me. I look like you wanna look, I fuck like you wanna fuck, I am smart, capable, and most importantly, I am free in all the ways that you are not.
-Fight Club


I was being nice and then I heard her name.

Was out at my usual running spot at Freedom Park. I started 10 minutes late because I had to get a knot out of my left shoe. Sixth grade stuff. How embarrasing.

I started running. This older guy was about a minute behind me. He caught up with me at the Highland/Freedom Park light. He was huffing and puffing and I didn't want to leave him in the dust.

So I started talking to him. He was doing 5K runs just to stay in shape. My engine was idle. I met his pace without effort.

All of a sudden I hear honking. And then my name. I looked and saw it was the most beautiful girl I know, stuck in a traffic jam, looking up out her passenger window, calling my name.

"I'll catch you later," I said to the older guy and ambled down the hill.

On Sunday, at the height of feeling down on myself, in the middle of downtown at work on a lunch break, I looked down and found a penny. I put it in my pocket.

"Hmph," I said, shrugging, looking up at the sky as to say -- "That's your answer?" Well, ok.

I didn't think of the penny until long after I saw her, only tonight at the home game, when I was flopping flushes and boats, growing true stacks of chips, did I think that Luck By Penny made sense.

For 16 months I've wondered what she looked like, whether I would bump into her on the street, in familiar circles, whether I would talk to her again. She said I was close, once, at Limerick Junction.

But there she was, in the car, wearing the same lime green wool coat that she wore on a chilly day out at at Piedmont, a skinny girl in a coat and jeans. She had red hair this time around, still was extremely pretty.

"We must get off work about the same time; I always come here to run after work," I said.

"Me too," she said, not being serious, smiling, bubbly and sarcastic and funny. This girl is like crack cocaine; she is like the female version of Tyler Darden.

A year goes by. I break out of the spell.

"Seriously, you should have lunch sometime," I say, still astonished, a little upset we hadn't done this already.

"I will."

I don't think about the penny until hours later. I'm thankful for the answer it offered me. A human being can take a lot of maladjusted variance, many bad beats in a row across all kinds of different levels, but it takes so little to bring us back again.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Out G the G

Doctrine calls for one shot every full second. Slow, steady, mechanical-like.
On the range we practiced with metronomes, all the time the instructors saying "they ain't in no hurry, why are you?" It was a way of keeping calm, pacing yourself. We had to be as slow and robotic as them. "Out G the G," they used to say.
-Max Brooks, World War Z


It's a hard thing to do, to out-ghoul the ghoul.
That philosophy was in Max Brooks' "World War Z," a book that has made the rounds of the crew. It's entertaining. A quick read. The narrator relays stories from around the world of how people dealt with a global outbreak of zombies.

There's something to be said for being patient. Making no mistakes. Taking your time and letting the game come to you.

But it's not always the best option. Militarily, being slower than your enemy undoes centuries of tactics. Mobility, staying a step ahead of your foe (and out of harm's way) is key. I kind of wish Tom Clancy had written the zombie war chapters in the book.

In the Battle of Yonkers, where are the submarine-launched Tomahawk cruise missles, the modern trumpeteer of war? Even dumb weapons would be effective -- anyone who needs a refresher on carpet bombing should see Letters from Iwo Jima.

A real-life battle likely would look like the liberation of Fallujah, with the zombies fixed at one point and then attacked from the rear or flank. And like that battle, most of the zombies would likely have to be cleared house-to-house in cities infested with them.

The book also seems to ignore contemporary public health and emergency response. With zombie "infections," we're likely to see quarantines of air routes and even entire cities. It's hard to suspend your disbelief of how the world would react after 9/11, Katrina, Iraq and even "24." LOL.

I just can't stand it when my suspension of disbelief is stretched to an unbelievable point. In Smoking Aces last night, a sniper is peppering a floor with .50 caliber rounds from the next building over while the authorities are trying to plink back with their handguns and in one case, a shotgun.

It reminds me of that .50 Cent line -- if you ain't got a gun, and you can't fucking run, my advice is you hit the deck, man.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Watching the underdog

I wonder if the Emperor Honorious watching the Visigoths coming over the seventh hill could truly realize that the Roman Empire was about to fall. This is really just another page of history, isn't it? Will this be the end of our civilization? Turn the page.
-"Best of Both Worlds, Part I," Star Trek: The Next Generation

The way that Ken Watanabe appears on screen as General Kuribayashi in Letters from Iwo Jima reminds me a lot of how I remember Clint Eastwood in movies, the way his eye is arched and his mouth is open as he analyzes an impossible situation.

It's not long before you realize the other storyline this movie, this historical event, is similar to. It is like the Alamo. You know they are all going to die here. Leaving is not an option.

It's an American story, at least one that we seem to love, the role of the underdog, being outnumbered, fighting against the odds. Bastogne. The Battle of Chosin Reservoir. U.S. Rangers in Somalia as depicted in Black Hawk Down.

I wonder if it has parallels with poker, that other pastime that we have. Do we crave the action so much that we just jump in any game? Or do conditions, variance put us in situations in which we bite off more than we can chew?

I guess if you always win, it would be a boring story. So we see the underdog all over popular novels, including the one I most recently read, Max Brooks' World War Z, a tale about a global pandemic of zombies. America suffers a horrible defeat at the Battle of Yonkers. But then regroups and later saves the day with its technology, its determination.

I also think about the underdog with the Super Bowl coming up -- I converted some of my unburned-bonus money at Bocat to use for Chicago, +7.

I know, I know. I hear that everybody says the Colts will win. Peyton totally is due. The Bears' offense is shaky. Unpredictable.

Yet they are from the city of my birth, the winter weather equivalent of the planet Krypton that lets me take in a 5-mile run a brisk 39 degree day here in Atlanta in shorts and a T-shirt while everyone else is covered in heavy gear.

I'm sure the Bears know they are the underdogs.

But leaving is unthinkable. They're going to have to play -- and fight -- this one out.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The end (again)

So that's it, then.
-Admiral William Adama, after Galactica was pummelled helpless in the rescue of New Caprica, BSG Season 3

So I played about four tables on 'Stars while at Drew's home game last night, one earbud in my ear to listen for the beeps from the tables while I shuffled or bet in the live game.

The games were good, but there was little joy in it.

If the UIGE started out the new season back in October, the loss of the USS Neteller for US players brought about start of the mid-season.

Without the juggernaut troop carrier to transport brigades to the different systems, the troops are stranded on individual systems. It's like the civilian fleet fending for itself without Galactica in BSG. Maybe. Maybe it could happen. But don't bet on it.

It's hard to say what will happen from here. I'll probably continue to play on the major systems left -- 'Stars, 'Tilt and Bocat -- but won't be surprised if/when they fall.

The war is over and you're a Browncoat.

Maybe I'll be making more trips to Tunica in the future.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Like the Hubble (fixed)

So about four days after I bought this Vaio laptop that I'm working on, the DVR-W/jfdndola;fddaonfdof drive ceased to work. And embarassingly enough, it's been that way for the next 16 months.

What happened was a work technician may have corrupted the power management file that helps the Centrino chip conserve energy. And it's been conserving for a while -- a big part of my laptop didn't work!

I could have taken it in but I didn't want any down time from the games. So I just didn't use it. I bought a DVD player for flights, for example.

But last night during the home game, Empire found an updated program and fixed it just like that. The DVR drive began to hum, just like in the early days. I discovered I had a Wallace and Gromit DVD trapped in there for all that time.

The home game had its share of surprises. In one of the very first hands, I doubled up off of Matt with a set of 7s vs his limped AQ, pair of aces and aces up on the turn. I flopped a couple of quads while playing online and in one hand had an open-ended straight flush draw (would have made a K-high straight flush on the turn).

In the last few hands of the evening, Ben raised from late. Flop was and A and two spades. I think Ben bet, Matt check-called. The turn brought another spade, there was a bunch of raising and Matt was all-in. Ben turns over 25s for a straight flush. Matt had AQs for an ace-high flush.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Being good (or am I?)


Clonie standing watch for toasters, 1/16/07

Right now I'm debating whether to go to Tunica for a day. It sounds like the 'Strike has a room for me if I want it. Only thing is, do I want to travel 6 hours, 40 minutes to play for a few hours and then sleep (or not sleep) and then travel 6 hours, 40 minutes back again?

Hmmm. Lazy cat that I am is leaning towards staying home. I knocked out my running today, a 6-mile loop from Piedmont Park out to the Georgia Tech campus, through the new Atlantic Station area, back through the Tech campus and out on North by the Varsity and back on Peachtree past the Fox Theater to home again.

Made some tasty veggie burritos, including beans that simmered while I was out doing the brisk-air run. Yum. I'm constantly on the lookout for food that I can make quickly and easily while multitabling.

Parts of yesterday were a treat -- Sherri invited me over for a glass of wine. Very cool house, she is very pretty but I feel like I am a dog in the hand (what does Taylor say about drawing with marginal hands when you don't know if you are drawing dead?). Dorie says this sweet girl is trouble. Even the goddess was unsure about this new development. Met up with Empire and Brigid, walked over to Taco Mac for trivia. I suck at trivia, btw.

Came home, played a little bit on 'Stars, making a few bucks before really needing to go to bed.

I made some money this morning but the one thing that would push me toward Tunica is that the tables don't look very good this afternoon. So I dunno.

Sidestepping an RPG

It's a little ridiculous that this is from a fishy NL25 table, but it's a good example of what I need to be careful of in higher games, too.

PokerStars Game #7966574352: Hold'em No Limit ($0.10/$0.25) - 2007/01/16 - 09:53:20 (ET)
Table 'Sahade' 6-max Seat #6 is the button
Seat 1: jwt123 ($20.80 in chips)
Seat 2: pampero333 ($25.75 in chips)
Seat 3: takeyrchips ($2.95 in chips)
Seat 4: kurokitty ($32.05 in chips)
Seat 5: Shawn1 XL ($39.15 in chips)
Seat 6: KrbysProtege ($24.65 in chips)
jwt123: posts small blind $0.10
pampero333: posts big blind $0.25
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to kurokitty [Kh Ks]
takeyrchips: folds
kurokitty: raises $0.75 to $1
Shawn1 XL: folds
KrbysProtege: calls $1
jwt123: folds
pampero333: calls $0.75
*** FLOP *** [3h Jd 7s]
pampero333: bets $1.50 (I thought it ws ridiculous that this 10 percent VP$IP player was betting this out, so I was going to punish on the turn)
kurokitty: calls $1.50
KrbysProtege: calls $1.50 (I did not expect this).
*** TURN *** [3h Jd 7s] [5d]
pampero333: bets $3
kurokitty: calls $3 (I should have just folded because it's easy to see what will happen after me on this street; I can no longer raise with just a pair).
KrbysProtege: raises $5 to $8
pampero333: calls $5
kurokitty: folds
*** RIVER *** [3h Jd 7s 5d] [Qh]
pampero333: checks
KrbysProtege: bets $6 (a very nice value bet into a $25 pot)
pampero333: calls $6
*** SHOW DOWN ***
KrbysProtege: shows [7c 7h] (three of a kind, Sevens) (whew)
pampero333: mucks hand
KrbysProtege collected $36.75 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $38.60 | Rake $1.85
Board [3h Jd 7s 5d Qh]
Seat 1: jwt123 (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 2: pampero333 (big blind) mucked [Ad Jh]
Seat 3: takeyrchips folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: kurokitty folded on the Turn
Seat 5: Shawn1 XL folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: KrbysProtege (button) showed [7c 7h] and won ($36.75) with three of a kind, Sevens

Monday, January 15, 2007

Panda addiction

OK. It's finally set in. I've become addicted to watching the new baby panda here on Web cam. Silly furball.

It's sort of like watching 24, though, since the panda often is just sleeping on a cold concrete floor of a room that looks like a cell. LOL.

Yesterday I ran out to Buckhead along Peachtree and ran down -- and back up -- Cardiac Hill, the hardest hill(s) on the Peachtree Road Race course. I wasn't going to do it -- I've been really tired and worn out recently re: running and was even going to have just a rest day. But I thought I'd have an easy run after finding the poker tables online weren't that great. (I made a little bit of money but decided not to play after I couldn't six-table).

I ended up at the Borders I normally stop at and flipped through Johnny Chan's new book on limit hold'em. It looked interesting enough. I read an example hand of playing QQ in the sb with a few callers on a board of K66. Basically the advice was call down -- it turned out the bettor had 33. LOL.

I thought about turning around and going home but then I decided just to continue on, and one thing led to another until I was at the bottom of the hill...

Later that evening, I caught the new episode of Rome -- it was awesome. I loved the scene where Marc Anthony has a meeting with Brutus and the other co-conspirators and Marc Anthony walks away from it looking like he's thrown down a sick bluff on the river. Really good stuff.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A forced upgrade

Stop chasing the mice inside your skull.
-Munich


Greetings from Fatburger. I'm out this way today (near Buckhead) because last night at Limerick Junction I broke the display on my phone. Or about 80 percent of it, anyway. I had been hopeful to catch the goddess there, since it was once one of her old haunts.

"So you play poker?" the guy helping me pick out another $200 phone asked. I didn't even realize I was wearing my Full Tilt T-shirt. Dude had just been back from Biloxi playing $1/2NL at the Beau Rivage and he said his friend got into the Main Event last year via Bocat.

Anyway, nothing really nice at the tables right now to help me pay for my turkey burger, so I'm updating here.

Poker has been steady but good. I'm surprisingly doing better on Full Tilt than 'Stars this month, and I have to remind myself not to neglect Bocat, where I still have a balance (from BetWWTS' transfer of U.S. accounts there).

Today I have a chance to play at a home game at the home of a friend of a boss. But it's OTP (Henry County) and I dislike the idea of playing at a game to 1). Stack my boss and his friends and 2). Being at a social situation where I'd be tempted to run my mouth and offer my opinion to affect the status quo.

The mice in my head are working overtime and cats always are ones to try to round them up.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A cupcake recovery

After work I was running at full bore on my Virginia-Highland course. But somewhere near Surin (Thai) I started to have cravings for a Snickers bar or a brownie at Manuel's.

I ducked into Belly General Store and bought a carrot cake cupcake. Sometimes the cravings you get as a runner know no bounds. I wolfed it down and was fine the rest of the way. Because of the sick hills on my Middlebear course around Candler, running on this one was like being from the planet Krypton.

Yesterday was an interesting day -- I got to talk to two of the three remaining former leaders of this country, they both looked pretty good, although the younger of the two had crazy hair that went all over the place. Normally it would be an out-of-body, Forrest Gump kind of moment, but this is what we do, so these kinds of opportunities happen when you put yourself in news' way.

Later that evening I was pretty much stuck in place -- I passed up a chance to get a haircut, missed the home game, all because of a major toaster who had amassed +5 buyins in 48 hands at a NL$100 game. And I was directly to his right. I wasn't going anywhere. He would play any kinds of cards and people thought he was full of shit when he was all-in. But he always had the nuts.

He was also a kind of calling station and this led to his downfall. By the end of about 200 hands, he went completely busto -- the 5 buyins he amassed plus the one of his own. Toasters.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Anywhere you can get action

CUMMING, Ga. -- I'm sitting in the back seat of my car in a municipal parking lot, with my polar fleece over my head and my laptop -- makes it easier to see the screen that way.

Already I won about $8 from a few toasters on PLO.25/.50 on stars when my garbage redraw hit a flush on the river. Yay!

Am on break right now -- potential jurors are filling out some questionaires in a high profile case that involves a poisoning death.

I really like small towns and especially the friendliness that comes with that.

Yesterday I slept forever. At about 7:45 p.m. I quit playing Omaha on 'Stars and Full Tilt for the night and next thing I knew it was 4:45 a.m., contacts on, TV on and everything. Nice.

Typical Monday action here.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Back to Omaha

Yesterday toasters forced me to make some pretty tough choices -- a raise by a first toaster and then a reraise by the second and it comes to me and I have trip aces with a K kicker. I called and found the first toaster had QQ, the second had A8. Nice.

The second time, I had KK on the button and got checkraised by a toaster before me. The flop was Q8J, two spades, and it could have gone anywhere. But unfortunately for that toaster, I had Revenge of the Sith on, at the part in the beginning where Anakin is fighting Count Dooku. That made for an easy click. The toaster had Q9o and so I doubled up again.

It's funny. I've been making most of my money at 'Stars, but when I'm not, I usually have a breakout day at Full Tilt. It's like having a good bullpen. Muddy on Cardrunners says that 'Tilt is a little more aggressive than 'Stars. They're both playable.

It made me feel good enough to go out to Carolina's birthday party -- Carpe Diem in Decatur. Sham and I went in on a gift card, and I found the perfect "card" to put that in -- a copy of Super/System2. Maybe Doug can use it, heh heh...

Today I've been dabbling in 7-Stud (but at micro limits of .04/.08 LOL) and then failing to find any really good NLHE tables on both 'Stars and Full Tilt, I ended up playing PLO. I clicked on a Cardrunners video of PLO, I had been meaning to do so for a while, since I've perpetually felt lost in 6-max games. When do you raise? What do you do if you raise and everyone calls?

I've only seen part of one video so far, but it seems like there's a good bit of button raising in shorthanded games, just as the CR offense requires in 6-max NLHE. Muddy doesn't overcommit to big pairs like AA but plays fast enough to where he may end up in a big pot when the cards are right.

Seemed to work so far. I was playing two PLO$1/2 tables, a single PLO.50/1 and a PLO.25/.50. Lost a crazy $50 buy-in when I had a set of aces and the nut flush draw. Oh well...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

All about a goddess and other stories

You will soon be reminded of a fond memory.
-Fortune cookie message

Yesterday, I stopped my donkish ways and took the time to see Pedro Almodovar's Volver. Needless to say, it was totally worth it, especially since Pedro plays his star running back Penelope Cruz. She's really matured into her roles, at least since I first saw All About My Mother, and man, her beauty is without question.

Maybe it's a cultural difference, but the movie's texture reminded me of Japanese movies that focus on regular life, than domestic movies focused on blowing things up and saving the world.

Anyway, the movie made me think of the goddess that I do know and also of missing seeing movies with Kelley. So I told her so in a txt.

Poker has been good, quadrupling my PokerStars stake in eight days made it easy for me to send off my stake of Ryan's Commerce Classic tourneys and become a braver cat at higher limits when needed. I tracked a 90 percent toaster at 'Stars $2/4NL table yesterday and while that didn't bear fruit, I'm happy to get as much experience at that level as I can.

Today: A toaster limp raised all-in his KK right into my aces. Thanks, robot.

I feel like I do have a lot to learn about 2-7 Triple Draw. I took my car in to get an oil change on Wednesday and totally got frazzled dropping only $50 while playing $1/2 limit and .25/.50NL TD tables. Against tight players, 8 highs don't really work unless you have super kickers and don't even think about a 9. And in a recent $2/4 TD game, I didn't fare any better. It's a high-variance game but I know I have more work in store for me.

This month's 2+2 magazine has some good takeouts on O8 and even that home game favorite, Crazy Pineapple.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Biscuits and death-dealing cats

There is a distance between hard truth and dreams/
Some days it pays to run with the chances...
-John Waite

Greetings from Flying Biscuit. I normally don't go out of my way to eat breakfast, but Kelley made a great New Year's brunch yesterday for her folks and I -- eggs, extremely blackened sausage links, crumbly biscuits with homemade apple butter, blackberry preserves. Yum.

And so today my cat tummy is looking for breakfast. The 'Biscuit has excellent biscuits and their pasta, sausage and eggs scramble is awesome for running.

When I finally rolled back in Atlanta, I caught my normal 5-mile run before dusk and then jumped on the scale -- I've dropped 15 pounds since the breakup, all the while eating whatever I want. And I'm getting faster.

Mark has a nice post looking at his good poker year. I feel like the late introduction of the CR offense has been similar -- I'm excited to see what the year will bring.

I feel like book-read toasters don't know how to deal with this kind of offense. They see a raise and instinctively think premium cards. They fold too much and yet, defending against aggression is so difficult -- Amarillo Slim's mantra is "Guessers are losers." And it's true.

I took two buy-ins last night by button-raising 56s and A3o. In the first case I hit a straight and the toaster couldn't see it coming. In the second, I paired a 3 on the flop and then a second 3 came on the turn. I ended up all in on the river and the toaster inexplicably called with AK -- high card ace. Fine with me. I don't mind that toasters are going to pay for my stake in Ryan's upcoming (and soon to be successful) Commerce series this month.

Mark got me to play Triple Draw on 'Stars last night. I don't play it regularly, except at the home game but I feel like I have a pretty good grounding for it. I donked off a few chips in the beginning of the $1/2 game but then came back with better kickers (in one case it went all the way to the fourth card, I won with a 3 low and the toaster had a 4).

I am unsure what's correct in triple draw (I have a link from a September 2006 post to the Triple Draw chapter from Super/System 2 that's posted online at Doylesroom.com) but I generally will never play a hand in which I have to draw three cards from the start and like building a hand from the lowest card possible, i.e the 2. I may raise if I see that my hand is full of say, 2s and 7s, since these cards will soon be out of play. Plus I like to bet my 1-card draws.

I feel safe with an eight high and sometimes having a nine isn't too bad if the betting isn't crazy. Of course that's for limit. With PL or NL TD games (as in the home game), you'll frequently see people betting aggressively pre-flop and on the first draw with a J-high. It's a little risky since it's probably like a coin toss when you let someone draw one card three times.

But it's just a diversion. The NLHE games are so juicy, it's hard not to play these all the time like I've been.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The worst movie ever

When I was a little girl, my mum took me to Las Vegas. She told me it was the most dangerous place on earth.
-Domino

So the top of the Stratosphere has just gone up in a ball of fire in the movie Domino, some kind of fictionalized account of a model-turned bounty hunter.

It's probably one of the weirdest movies I've ever seen. It sort of has a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas feel to it.

I haven't been watching much TV while playing poker recently but this really drew me in. That movie and Star Wars -- Episode III, Revenge of the Sith.

I was getting worried that it was fucking up my play -- I check raised a button raiser on the flop and on the turn put the short stack all in. He happened to have a set.

But on another NL$200 hand on PokerStars, at the same table, I re-raised an utg raiser with my AA. The flop came out Txx and I got check-raised all-in. With the TV I didn't even think about it. I called. Turned out the pf raiser had QQ.

The action has been consistently good. I'm down about $79 for the day, though, maybe from a bad beat -- I had 55 and received a flop of 577. This toaster bet out his 4-flush draw, it got called by a guy in MP and then I raised that. The toaster called, then the MP guy was all-in. Naturally I obliged him. And the drawing-dead toaster called, pouring free money into the pot.

The MP guy had K7 and caught his sloppy quad on the river. He had four outs and it happened. Oh, well.

Variance, a new look, and the girl

When it comes to being lucky, she's cursed...
-Cat Stevens

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- "You don't have chubby cheeks anymore," Kelley's mom says as I greet her, prompting my ex-girlfriend to protest but it's a total compliment to me.

I started running 5 miles a day because of the break up. And now, like something out of the Galaga Theory of Poker, I'm sort of back with the girl again. And I'm still running.

That's not the only odd paradox. Poker's sedentary lifestyle was what helped me gain pounds. But now I run and play poker.

After breaking up with Kelley I never thought I'd be back in this town again. Cats don't really look back. Until, um, they're asked to... And like the end of the movie The Matrix, I don't know how this is going to end.

This is something, like walking through a minefield, that you take one step at a time. But there may be a trip to Miami this month or next, which would be great since I would love to pick up a few more poker room chips...

I explained variance in poker to Kelley after we stuff ourselves with a New Year's meal at a restaurant here called WS Prime, which attracted my eye after seeing the one in Las Vegas. (I don't think the places are related).

I think that being able to deal with variance in poker has helped me deal with setbacks in life. When you're on a downturn at the tables and you're not a toaster, what do you do? You start to think about the things that happened, work on aspects of it to make sure it doesn't happen again. It's hard to despair when you know that an upswing is just around the corner.

I was so comfortable dating Kelley that I think I took it hard when we broke up. I don't know if not running had anything to do with the break-up, but it was one aspect that I could work on. So I focused on that.

And now I'm here, happy that the New Year has arrived, happy that I completed my third year of poker play with a profit and happy that the girl is once again in my life.