Monday, February 21, 2005

Don't Go Blaming the Beer

The NBA is going to reduce cup sizes and cut-off beer sales after the third period to reduce fan problems at games. The worst part about these arbitrary cut-offs is that it’s hard to carry all those extra beers you buy right before they stop selling back to your seat at one time. Plus, they get warm before you can get to them. They won’t be able to stop access to beer, just the cool, refreshing enjoyment thereof.

They did the same thing with our minor league baseball team. Beer sales ended in the middle of the seventh. We would send the beer girl for our allotted two beers in the bottom of the sixth, then go stand in line for two more in the top of the seventh. On a hot Columbia night, the beers would warm up quickly, but with the arrival of the swabs, I discovered a trick; You can sneak almost anything into a minor league stadium in a stroller. I would pack a soft sided cooler full of ice and let our cups rest in there until they met their fate. The only bad scenario: extra innings. Once the beer runs dry and the twelfth inning arrives, you are stuck with no chance of adult refreshment. Unless you slipped in a sippy-cup of the brown to mix with ball park Pepsis. Infants rock.

Disclaimer: Always use a designated driver and stroller-pusher. Moms are perfectly acceptable in this role until they get mad at you for having all the fun. Nieces are an acceptable alternative unless they can’t drive. This means you have to ask your brother to drive home. Your rarely-drinking brother. This post does not advocate the use of children as drinking aids. It just recognizes the reality they can facilitate the process and really, with a couple of kids hanging around, don’ t you need a drink?

Well, now we have lost our team to Greenville. Hope all you upstate bloggers enjoy it.

I read an article a few months ago detailing the four stages of a poker player. The particulars escape me but I recall the first stage was the introduction to the game, learning starting hands, basic betting strategies, the nuts and bolts if you will. Stage two was the understanding of concepts such as pot odds, check-raises, value betting, and bluffing. Stage three was where it all came together. The player knew the game inside and out, was able to bluff correctly, steal blinds with impunity, be a general menace at most tables. This is the stage we all aspire to attain. The biggest problem with Stage three is either we think we are there and we are not, or we actually do get there and want more. Stage four is a bitch. In Stage four, we play marginal hands because we are better players than the fish at the table. We can bluff them out if our cards don’t hit, right? We can afford to drop those big pots on the “occasional” knowing misplay as we are sure to get it back through our brilliance later. Fancy Play Syndrome sets in. I think it is Mike Caro who coined this term describing the player who is always “making plays” at the table, trying to win without having the best hand, and generally showing off his poker skills. The problem with this type of play is that it does not work at the levels I play. My fancy plays get met with cold calls, my brilliance is thwarted by people daring not to respect my obvious superiority (Ha!), my suited (almost) connectors are destroyed by limpers holding AA. The result? My carefully constructed bankroll, built through solid Stage two playing and occasional Stage three insight is hammered through pride and ego.

The recurring theme of a number of blogs lately has been the inevitable downturns. The key to recovery is prevention; the recognition of a game gone south and the steps taken to halt the migration. For the first time, hopefully, I have seen the future and acted to change it before the dreaded re-buy was necessary. I’m not out of woods yet. I still have the gambler inside scratching to lay out a large chunk of the remaining roll for a chance at getting the rest back at once. Music may soothe the savage beast, but what placates a degenerate gambler? Right now it is the threat of withholding the game from the beast within if he cannot control the temptations. He has been given many a chance and has blown it time and time again. The accountant inside has started to assert some control thankfully. I have somehow managed two cash outs the last two weeks as the first step in what will hopefully be a weekly occurrence. In the past, I’ve only cashed out after hitting a big streak. After reading some of the posts at Ship It, I realized I need to cash out more often. Not in the intent of depleting my bankroll before I can lose it, but in an effort to treat the game as a (slightly) revenue producing hobby. I spent years managing bands without making a penny. Instead, I poured dollar after dollar into them in gas, food, studio time, photos, and whatever else was needed figuring I would get it all back in spades when one of them hit it big. Well, bands don’t hit it big very often. That is money I spent that I will never get back. I got lots of enjoyment, met a ton of cool people, and got to see the inner workings of the biggest band in the world for a few months. That was fine when my only responsibilities were to myself. Now, though, I’ve got to answer to the rest of the crew, and the first mate can be exacting. I can see myself letting poker turn into an expensive hobby. I get so much enjoyment from actually playing the game, the losses probably don’t hit me as hard as they should. The inner accountant must take over from the degenerate or it’s going to be a short hobby.

Where is all the literature on stopping the bleeding and making recoveries? While there is some out there, the main focus of poker information is on how to win, not how to stop losing. I imagine more will come as new players are added at such an amazing rate. Ever notice how all the poker players who write books have blurbs from other players on the dust jackets with quotes such as, “I wish Bobby Joe hadn’t written this book. He’s giving away all the secrets.” I imagine an honest quote would be, ”I sure am glad Bobby Joe wrote this book. He just gave a bunch of dreamers just enough information to lose a butt-load of money. Plus he romanticized it enough to make them think they are going to enjoy it. BWAAAAAAAAHHHAAAAAAAAAA!”

Edited 2/24/05: I just stumbled across this old post from the always excellent HDouble detailing the five stages of a poker player. If I stole this idea from him for this post, I apologize. I don't think this is where I originally read of the four stages as I think the one I saw presented Stage four as a negative stage of development whereas HDouble presents it as a progression to Stage 5. I think I read an article in Card Player or some such magazine that presented the stages as I have detailed above. Nonetheless, I like to give credit where due and there is the possibility I read HDoubles post last year and used some of the ideas in this one. Now that that is out of the way, go read it. It's worth the time.

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