Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Survival of the Fittest

I love poker and I love love. And I'll tell you why. It's in the genes, baby.

James McManus agrees:

The beauty of no-limit hold’em, in fact, parallels that of all human mating procedures. Biologically, we bet that our hole cards (read: DNA) will combine with the cards on the board (our prospective mate’s DNA) to produce the strongest hand or fittest amalgam—that is, the one with the best chance of surviving the contest of life by launching the most, and most fit, genes into the next generation…

From Positively 5th Street, a fine, fine book.

I'm off now to my newest (hopefully) regular game, where I hope to make Darwin proud.

The Sleep Police

Someone once accused me of being the sleep police -- I thought that was pretty funny. It's true that when I decide I'm tired and ready for bed, that's it. You've got about ten minutes before I'm out like a light -- it's a talent which I like because in the past I've had serious problems with insomnia. No more! In fact, since finishing the book, I've had a hard time a) sitting down at the computer for long enough to post anything lucid and b) staying awake once I get home. It's like my body's decided it's payback time for 2 months of sleeping 4-5 hours a night after 19-20 hours in front of the computer.

Case in point: last night I came home and made myself dinner, poured myself a glass of wine and sat down to watch The Hustler. According to my DVD display, I got 1 hour and 12 minutes into it before I fell asleep for the night. Now, since I started watching it a little before 9 pm, I figure I zonked out around 10 pm. And slept until 7 am. 9 hours! I haven't done that in ages -- and who knows how long it's been since I went to bed at 10.

Anyway, this is just to say I'm getting back to work here -- I have about a half-dozen half-finished posts to complete, and after tonight, two more regular poker games in my life to write about.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for my workout of the day.

Friday, September 24, 2004

What do you see, Toby?

Even though I was a huge fan of the book "Who's Mouse Are You?" as a youngster, those who know me in real life know that I have a serious mouse phobia. I'm a pretty level headed, rational gal, so I was surprised to find one day in college that after seeing a mouse in the house and jumping on the windowseat, I could not make myself get back down, even after said mouse was out of sight. This has not gotten better with time, but worse. Murophobia, Musophobia, or suriphobia are all terms that could be used to describe me and my abnormal and insane behavior towards mice and rats.

Tuesday evening, while furiously trying to pound out the last few pages of the book, my cat suddenly got very excited about something. Proudly, he scampered up to where I was working on my laptop with a still-wriggling mouse in his mouth. Needless to say, I freaked out. It was 2 a.m. or else I would have gone to a friend's place or had someone over to deal with it, but as it was hours away from my final deadline, I screamed and locked myself in my bedroom with my laptop and worked until the batteries died. I didn't quite get to the end of the book.

The next morning, the mouse was lying dead in the hallway between my kitchen and my living room -- so naturally, I opened up my table-top ironing board, covered the mouse, and fled from the house. Mouse? What mouse? Do you see a mouse? There's no mouse here.

After my day job, where a co-worker asked "What if it's not there when you get back?" I avoided going home and finished the book outside. Thank Saint Gertrude for laptops! Then I got drunk. When I got home, lo and behold, the mouse was nowhere to be seen, even when I lifted up that crap ironing board. I was just drunk enough to pretend there had never been a mouse and go to bed.

In the morning, however, I found it. The cat had pushed it into a mess of cords:

But since I was late for work, I left it there. Irrational behavior anyone? Thursday night, I once again managed to avoid the mouse in my house. Finally, this morning, I took ridiculous action. First I tried to pick it up using straws as chopsticks, plastic cups, and finally, used several pieces of junk mail to push its tiny, lifeless body into the trash. It doesn't look dangerous or scary, just like a little sleeping mouse:

Yet I almost threw up. It's bizarre to have no problem with cartoon mice, real bugs, or even looking at a real mouse, but man the thought even right now of touching that mouse makes me feel nauseous and my heart race.

But I did it -- just like I finished the book. Ding dong the mouse is gone and the book is done! I'm looking forward to my first weekend without the book hanging over my head in a major way.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Dating and Poker?

A friend of mine who knew I was finishing up the dating and poker section of the book sent me a link to this site with the qualifier, "I have no idea what this has to do with dating."

Neither do I. It seems just to be a video-poker game somehow hooked into a dating site. Bizarre. Just like the fact that I saw my fur coat & hat wearing neighbor again on Monday night, still wearing the same outfit. She had changed her tights, though.

Monday, September 20, 2004

What are the odds?

A habit I picked up from my mother is that I constantly play fashion police as I go about my day. It’s particularly hard to avoid doing as I ride the “L” train back and forth from my Williamsburg home and Manhattan, as hipster wear so often = fashion victim. I have regular offenders which I give names to, such as Mr. Fancy Pants, who constantly wears pants which are often shiny and always altogether too tight. Sometimes he matches them to a rail-thin tie. On Saturday, I could not stop staring at a woman wearing a vintage blue dress over another blue slip dress, white tights, and gold painted cowboy boots. To complete her look, she donned a fur jacket which was at least – by the shortness of the sleeves – two sizes too small and found a similar colored fur “hat” to put with it.

Then, more than 24 hours later, I saw her again on the “L” coming home at around 10 PM. Still wearing the same outfit:

Now, clearly we live in the same general area, but so do many of my friends and I hardly ever run into them on the train. Though I did also run into someone I knew on the train on Saturday afternoon.

What does this have to do with poker? Nothing really. But I've been thinking about odds a lot lately. I'm pretty good at math and odds and probability, but I haven't figured out what the odds are (or seen anywhere that's figured it out) that you'll hit a straight by playing connected hole cards, such as 7-8, 10-J, etc, suited or unsuited. I know that I always see a flop with 10-J, suited or unsuited, but I also had a hunch that I play connected hole cards too often. On Thursday, as an experiment, I decided I would see a flop with suited or unsuited connectors all night and see how it went. I let myself fold 2-3, 3-4, and 4-5 in early positions just because I couldn't bear to play them.

One of the gang decided that we would play Omaha 8 on his deal every round, but besides that I kept to my plan and after 4 hours, lost my whole buy-in. My cards were pretty solidly average and I didn't suffer any real bad beats, so this was a good $100 lesson: not a good way to play. For example, 8-9 unsuited (which I got maybe 4 times) hardly ever works out. If you don't hit the straight (which I never did) but hit say, two pair, you're still pretty much screwed because it's a crappy two pair. But yet I would fall into the "but I have two pair!" trap and play even when the board showed K-Q-9-8-4. Yes, that's right, I did. Did someone have a K-Q? No, but they had cowboys. Yeeeee-haw.

On the other hand, though I kept complaining that Omaha made my brain hurt, I kind of dig it. And after talking to the world-champ Annie Duke on Friday, I think I'm going to set about really learning it. While I'm on that, I have to say, talking with Annie Duke was fantastic. She is incredibly nice, articulate, and smart and I admire her more than ever.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Done...sort of

Sunrise on the morning of the 15th. Due day. I hadn't seen a sunrise in a while, so I took a picture which doesn't reflect in the least how pink and pretty the clouds were.

Anyway, at noon I sent off most of the book -- but I'm not quite done yet. Still, I feel good about what I've accomplished and am returning to poker tonight. Hooray! I missed it so. Along with human contact. Jeez, I'll tell you sequestering yourself in an apartment for basically an entire week messes with your brain.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Burnt out

I feel much like the remnants of the car which is still sitting outside on the street:

Wrecked. And since I haven't showered, I kind of smell bad too.

Explosions Every Night!

No fireworks to entertain me from inside tonight, but instead, I sat at my desk, enjoying the fall breeze until... a smell that wasn't simply someone having a cookout on the street (which happens on my block a lot) but much, much worse. I stood up to look down on the street and lo and behold, there was a car, completely on fire!

I tried to take a picture but it doesn't really do it justice:

But that bright light? That's fire. Seconds later the firemen arrived and after putting out the fire, well, I can only describe what they did next as beating the shit out of that car with axes and the like. That'll teach that car!

Monday, September 13, 2004

The View from Here

I've been inside for the large part of the last 48 hours. But at least I sometimes get to see nice things from the window. Last night there were fireworks I could see from the same window I took the above picture through somewhere over downtown manhattan. I have no idea what for, but it was nice. It's an understatement to say I'm a big fan of fireworks.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Easy Money

Ignatious, who I hope kept safe from hurricanes and can return to his voluminous and entertaining blog,Guinness and Poker soon, kindly pointed out another dame who deals with poker, Stripper by Night, which I can’t believe I hadn’t found yet.

As anyone who knows me in real life knows, I have a fondness for strippers after hanging out in a lot of strip clubs while writing my MFA thesis, which contained interconnected short stories about strippers (here is one that was quickly and sloppily posted). She’s recently decided to make the switch from being a stripper first and poker player second and go pro.

It's interesting to me because both being a poker player and being a stripper are viewed by much of the population as ways to make "easy money." But as anyone who's done either can tell you, there's nothing easy about it.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Silver Linings

I forgot! I'm the Gothamist Interview today. I really enjoy Gothamist, so it's fun to be a part of it.

Also, I was just taught how to do this: ♥ ♦ ♠ ♣

Which is totally, totally essential to know and how I should be spending my time.

I mean, now I can say I Gothamist. Yesterday, I'd have had to spell it all out in, like, letters and shit.

Tut, tut, it looks like rain.

I just finished Katy Lederer's Poker Face, which I really liked an awful lot. It's interesting to read about a family that produced two of today's best poker players, Howard Lederer and Annie Duke. It's not a book that will in any way prepare you to play, or teach you much about the game of poker, but her descriptions of her family and of Las Vegas are captivating.

It also struck a chord with me because she's a writer, and passages such as the following took on a special relevance on this humid, cloudy morning:

In the end, it wasn't altogether impossible for me to adjust to the the gambler's relationship with his action, for it resembles to a close degree the writer's relationship with his writing. When things are going well, all is cheerful and bright in the world, but when things are going badly, a glumness comes to dominate the atmosphere, like a tenebrous cloud hanging over your head, intermittenly storming.

I'm actually glad the weather is crap on what marks the beginning of the home stretch write-a-thon I've entered, so I don't keep wistfully staring out the window, sighing melodramatically at the sun. But I do hope the dark cloud she so accurately described finds someone else's head to bother for a while.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

2 (non poker) things

I host the pictures on this blog on the wonderful Buzznet, which has made a camera phone worth having, but right now their servers are all wonky so I apologize for all the broken images. I still recommend the service, though. I mean, it's free and you can send pics right from your phone -- very cool.

Getting published, as a writer, is sort of like time travel. I recently discovered that an anthology I must have submitted to in 2000 has finally come out. It's a anthology about diabetes, which my ex-fiance had. I can also tell exactly when they asked for a bio by my weird response, which indicates that it was during a time when my ex and I were on a "break," years before the big break. It's sort of like when you google yourself and discover some totally random thing about yourself on the Web. For instance, you can find my terrible batting records from when I was a kid playing in my dad's all-adult game. It totally brought me back to that one, solitary, beautiful hit I got that year.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Other Chicks with Chips on the Web

I’m not expecting to post much over the next week, so in the meantime, get your female fix on with one of these other poker playing gals:

See how poker is played by a student in Albuquerque, the self-crowned Poker Queen, or check out the action in Nevada with a Laughlin local, Felicia Lee. I think it’s interesting that all three of us intersperse info about our personal, non-poker life into the pages. Hell, mine these days is hardly about poker at all. But you know it’s there, deep down.

Poker Babes– an informative, if sometimes hard to navigate, site run by a prop player named Shirley Rosario. Good player profiles, and her journal I find especially interesting, since I often wonder what it would be like to work as a prop player for a big card room like the Bike.

If you know of other dolls with decks, let me know. If you’re just looking for other poker blogs to check out, Tao of Poker does a thorough and impressive job at reading and highlighting quite a lot of them and writes an entertaining blog himself.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

A Plethora of Poker Books

I thought I'd read a lot of books about poker over these past six months, but I had no idea how many books have been written about poker. Jeez. Of the 600 listed, these are some of the ladies I guess I'll be joining:

Isaacs, Susie - Ms Poker - Up Close and Personal, 1999. Not only does she write and play poker, she makes jewelry too. Smart idea. I hope I kept the merchandising rights.

Lederer, Katherine - Poker Face - A Girlhood Among Gamblers, 2003. I’ll soon be reading this memoir written by the sister of Annie Duke & Howard Lederer. She’s also a good poet. Here’s the coincindence of the day: she read in the same reading series as I once did.

Mumey, Nolie -- Poker Alice - Alice Ivers, Duffield, Tibbs Huckert (1851-1930), History of a Woman Gambler in the West, 1951. Will the real Poker Alice please stand up? Please stand up? Please – ah, there she is.

Van Vleet, Laura A & Norris, G L - Playing with the Big Boys - A Woman's Guide to Poker, 2002. Clearly, this one’s going for the same demographic as me. Haven’t read it. I feel like it would be a bad idea to look at it before I finished my own book.

Wener, Louise -- The Big Blind - Novel of High Stakes, Lost Love & Poker, 2003.This is the only one of these books I’ve read, but re-titled for us Americans, “The Perfect Play.” Entertaining, funny summer read.

Woods, Carol M - Ladies at Poker, 1996. A play for seniors – who knew?

Other on the list include: Allan, Laura – The Laws of Poker, 1929; Ballard, Martha - - Shakespeare on Poker, 1906; Cady, Alice Howard - Poker - The Modern Game, with Passing Description of its Origin, 1895; Davis, Jill - Girls' Poker Night - A Novel of High Stakes, 2002; Glass, Mary Ellen - Nevada's Turbulent '50s, 1981; Knapp, Bettina -- Gambling, Game, and Psyche, 2000; Levez, Belinda Teach Yourself How to Win at Poker, 2001; Riddle, Ethel Maris -- Aggressive Behavior In A Small Social Group - Bluffing, Risking, And The Desire To Beat . . . Studied by the Use of a Poker Game as an Experimental Technique, 1925

Even if I had another month, I couldn’t get to them all. But I’d probably try.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

A Guaranteed Income For Life?

Gotta love my parents. No doubt in my mind that I'll be getting some really fine poker chips from them this year for my birthday, the big 3-0. The other day though, they gave me this crazy book they found at a garage sale or junk shop called Poker: A Guaranteed Income Life by using the Advanced Concepts of Poker.

Now that's a long title. I've been down because they've added, against my wishes, "All You Need to Beat the Boys" to my title, "The Badass Girl's Guide to Poker." Leave me a comment of support if you agree that having that subtitle is ridiculous. Or if you think it's great -- make me see why. I could use it.

Anyway, this book is by a guy named Frank R. Wallace, who turns out to be, upon googling, quite a wacko! I'm not surprised, after reading the ellipse-overfilled first few pages and finding I will continually be treated to descriptions of card games such as this:
With a growling noise, Professor Merck deals. John watches the deck and sees the bottom card plus two other cards flash. He then studies Quintin Merck's green eyes ... they are watering from the cigarette smoke curling over his mustache and into his leathery face. Wearing a sweaty beret and an opened polo shirt, the wiry fifty-five-year-old college professor hunches over the table. Suddenly he looks up and frowns at John Finn.

You can read what seems like the whole text of this out-of-print book here. Now to the writing. 2 weeks til due date. Aaaahhhhhh... Freak Out!
(c) Toby Leah Bochan