Thoughts On The Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure 2014

Poker TV, in general, is pretty much crap. While I enjoy watching the WSOP broadcasts and I used to enjoy the WPT, they are – as every poker player tries to make clear – not an accurate representation of the game. A lot gets edited out and plays that seem weird in a 2-hour show make total sense if you can see the 7 hours of play that led up to it.

One of my vices, right now, are the European Poker Tour live-streams. I don’t watch a lot of them because, being held in Europe, their timeline doesn’t usually match my sleep schedule. The one event I try to watch each year, though, is the Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure, a large tournament held annually at the Atlantis Resort & Casino in the Bahamas. Several years ago, when Pokerstars partnered with the EPT, this became an EPT event despite not being anywhere near Europe.

The live streams, for the most part, are played without showing the hole cards. The featured tables have the capability, but they don’t start broadcasting with hole cards until the final table, which they play on a 1-hour delay so that it doesn’t affect play (much). Even without hole cards the broadcasts are engrossing, mostly because they are entirely uncut. You get to see every move a player makes, and you get a real sense for the flow of a major multi-table tournament. That didn’t work out quite the way I’d have liked for this year’s PCA, though.

Poker tournaments are unpredictable, and players will bust at the strangest times. In this particular case, Day 5 of the tournament was playing down from 20 players to the final table of 8. The day ended up being very short, with the 9th place player busting less than 5 hours into the day.

What did this mean for the final table? It meant that every player at the table was super deep-stacked, with the average stack having almost 100 big blinds, and even the shortest stack sitting on almost 40. While that made for some awesome deep-stack poker when it was 8- and 7-handed, it also made for an insanely long final table and one of the most boring heads-up competitions I’ve ever seen.

I started watching the live stream at around 11:15am on Monday morning. The final table wrapped up at around 2:45am Tuesday. The 3-handed and heads-up battles lasted hours, and the tournament wound up with a really unfortunate end.

Before I talk about the ending, though, I wanted to touch on something that – as a “poker enthusiast” – I found really interesting. When the tournament got down to 3-handed between Mike McDonald, Isaac Baron, and Dominik Panka, the players stopped the tournament to make a deal. This is pretty standard in large tournaments – the top few payouts are extremely weighted toward first place, and the players like to flatten that out and limit their liability a bit.

Since this was a live-stream and not an edited show, they actually filmed and showed the entire process of the deal. The players discussed their chip-stacks and worked with the tournament directors to flatten the payouts, and the tournament directors actually adjusted the direct payouts so that the players wouldn’t have to come to some sort of under-the-table agreement. Rather than over a million dollars separating 1st and 3rd place, things rounded out to all 3 players getting over a million with only 350,000-ish separating 1st and 3rd. In addition, they set aside 100k to “play for”, that would go solely to the winner along with the title.

As boring as it may sound, I was fascinated by the discussion between the players as they worked out the math using a method called Independent Chip Modeling (or ICM) as a guide. Seeing the tournament directors getting involved was awesome, too, because it’s so much safer for the players when there’s an external entity doling out the money instead of forcing them to rely on and trust each others’ individual judgment to make sure they get paid. This is one of the downsides to the WSOP, in my opinion: They do not endorse or support deal-making, even though it’s an integral part of the larger game, and players have gotten screwed in the past when they’ve attempted to make off-the-books deals with less than trustworthy players.

But I digress. I thought it was cool.

What wasn’t cool was one of the most boring heads-up battles I’ve ever watched. While there were a few interesting hands it was all very straightforward, with McDonald in the lead for what seemed like an eon. Even worse, though, was that after 14 hours of final table coverage, the final half hour of the tournament came due to a fatigue-induced implosion by the tournament favorite, Mike McDonald.

I was rooting for McDonald the whole way. I like the guy. He’s super smart, he’s one of the best No-Limit Hold ‘Em players of the last ten years, and he was well on his way to becoming the first ever 2-time EPT champion. He had small-balled the living crap out of Panka for a couple of hours, maintaining anywhere from a 3-2 to a 2-1 chip lead over him at almost all times. It was when he had a 2-1 chip lead that his slide began, and he sloughed off the tournament on two very suspect hands.

The first hand was 3-betting Panka with KJo. Panka had pocket 9’s and 4-bet shoved. After thinkin for less than a minute, McDonald made a senseless call of Panka’s shove. The 9’s held up and the chip stacks reversed, giving Panka a chip lead that he never relinquished.

I mostly think that McDonald just wanted the tournament over, and was willing to flip for it. I have a feeling that in the back of his mind he had the thought that, under most circumstances, even if he lost the hand he had enough of a skill advantage over Panka that he could battle his way back from a 2-1 chip deficit by using the same small-ball tactics he’d been punishing the guy with all night, but he figured he could end an already long night – where he was obviously fading fast – if he won a simple race.

Unfortunately, a combination of fatigue on McDonald’s part and solid big-stack play on Panka’s part just seemed to wear him down. When Panka raised with A2o after having built a 4-1 chip lead, McDonald completely imploded, making an impatient bluff-shove with 7-4 suited. It was a move that McDonald just didn’t need to make, but you could tell he was exhausted. Panka flopped a meaningless 2, and the board gave McDonald a glimmer of hope when he turned a 7, but an Ace on the river sealed the deal for Panka.

It’s a shame. And a real disappointment for someone who’d watched 14 hours of poker that day and seen McDonald smoothly transition from table domination to chipstack conservation to soul-reading hero calls, proving why he was the favorite right up until a massive deterioration in the last hour of play.

As much a fan as I am of watching these tournaments live, this one gave me pause about watching the next one all the way through. I’m not sure I can stomach seeing that much awesome poker get tossed aside by fatigue and impatience again.

My WSOP Experience

On Memorial Day I left for a road trip that lasted nine days. Before leaving, I made big claims about writing blog posts or doing a video blog of the trip, and all of that fell apart in the face of long drives, other obligations, and, well… Vegas. I wrote a few notes while I was gone, though, so I’m going to try to piece together the trip in a few blog posts now that I’m back.

This post is for all the poker players out there. There’s a lot of talk of poker play, so there’s also a lot of poker jargon.

The trip centered around my shot at playing in the World Series of Poker. For those of you not familiar, the WSOP is the largest and most famous poker tournament series in the world, comprising almost 60 events across just about every poker game imaginable. Buy-ins range from $1,000 for the smallest events, to $10,000 for the Main Event, to as much as $50,000 for the Player’s Championship and $111,111 for the Big One for One Drop charity event.

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I played in two smaller events, a $1,000 No-Limit Hold ‘Em event and the $1,500 “Millionaire Maker”, a No-Limit Hold ‘Em tourney where the WSOP was guaranteeing at least $1,000,000 for first place regardless of the number of entrants.

I’ll get this out of the way right at the start: my performance in the series was… less than stellar. I busted in level 6 of the 1k event and level 5 of the Millionaire Maker. Oddly enough, even though I lasted over an hour longer in the 1k, I feel much better about my play in the Millionaire Maker. I guess I’m doing a good job of not being “results oriented”.

The WSOP takes place every year at the Rio, a giant slightly-off-strip casino. The casino floor in the Rio isn’t anything special – it’s just like every other large casino in Vegas – but it’s the convention space they use for the WSOP that make it spectacular. Several large ballrooms are taken over and filled with poker tables, and the atmosphere is absolutely awesome. The main room used for the larger events is called the Amazon Room, and I (unfortunately) never got to play in there. My events both took place in Brasilia, a slightly smaller but still spectacular space that held over 100 poker tables. Most of the events we were playing 9-handed, so the room had over 1,000 players at any given time.

There was a shuttle directly from my hotel to the Rio every day, which drops off on the back-side of the Rio casino floor near the buffet. Coming into the Rio from this entrance, you’d never know that the largest poker tournament in the world was going on. No banners, almost no signs, and no indication of a major event. I had to wind my way through the casino floor until I found the hallway leading to the convention space before I even saw a sign indicating the event. Very strange.

I won’t spend any time talking about the registration line. It was a line. I registered on Wednesday night and my first event was at 11am the next day.

The 1k No-Limit Hold ‘Em events at the WSOP are, for lack of a more endearing term, newbie events. The structure of the WSOP events is very good, but the 1k events only start with 3,000 chips, so there’s not a lot of room to move. Early aggression and/or a good run of cards are necessary to stay in play. The rate at which players bust out in these tournaments was staggering to see. Day 1 started with around 160 tables. By the time I busted – about 6 hours in – over half of those tables were empty.

I started at a fairly weak table with several older, very passive players. For the first several levels I was able to chip myself up to about 6k before the first break (at the end of two 1-hour long levels), but then ran a small bluff into a player who’d flopped a set and dropped back down to 4.4k. I lost a few more hands and dropped to just over the 3k starting stack in level 4, but then doubled through another player when my pocket 7’s held up against his A-J.

My best play of the tourney was in level 4. Blinds were at 50/100 and I was on the button with K♠ 7♠. Two players limped and I limped behind, the small blind folded and the big blind checked. The flop came 4♣ 7♥ Q♣, giving me middle pair, and when everyone checked I bet 300 into a 450 pot. One of the early position limpers called, everyone else folded. With a preflop limp and a check call like this, I put him on suited connectors that either also hit the 7 or were calling with the flush draw, or a low to middle pair. I was sure he’d have bet out on the flop had he hit the Queen or a set, so the check-call looked like he was fishing.

The turn came the K♦, giving me a solid two pair. The other player checked to me and I bet out 650. He started to reach for chips and hesitated, then looked back at his cards and counted out a call. I was pretty positive that my two pair was good at this point. The river was the J♣, an absolutely terrible card for me that completes both the club flush draw and possible high straight draws. I could easily see this player having a hand like A♣ 7♣, so this river card slowed me down and I checked. And I watched.

The other guy immediately dumped a 1,000 chip bet into play without looking at his cards or waiting. I know math players out there will hate to hear me say this, but it just felt fucking fishy, like he’d decided on his line on the last street and just followed through without thought. Something about the way his demeanor changed told me that he probably hadn’t hit a flush and my read told me there’s no way he hit a straight. I thought that two pair might be a possibility, but I couldn’t put him on a two pair that beat mine. I stared at him for a couple of minutes and the combination of my read and my feeling about his demeanor told me I had him beat, so I called. He turned over pocket 5’s, and I took down over a 3k pot. I got a “Wow. Good call.” from another player at the table while I was raking my chips.

I hovered at around 7k for a bit, and then had a very lucky hand where I’d called a preflop raise on the button with K♣ Q♦ and the flop came 9♠ 10♥ J♠. The big blind open-shoved for about 3.2k, and another player in the hand tanked for about 4 minutes, then called all in for about 2.7k, and I snap called both of them (of course). The big blind had A♠ 2♠ for a flush draw, and the other guy had A♦ 9♥ for just bottom pair. I faded the flush draw and was up to almost 14k in chips.

At this point in the tourney, I probably could have floated all the way through day 1. Average chipstack at this point was still down around 6k, and the blinds had just gone up to 100/200, so I was sitting on 70 big blinds, which is monstrous for a tournament like this. I played a little bit of big stack poker in the 100/200 level, stealing the blinds a few times and keeping myself level.

Then my table broke and everything went to hell. When I first analyzed my play in this tourney, I was torn on whether my play at the new table was good. Upon reflection I know it was not. I made one very major mistake: I didn’t spend enough time figuring out my new table’s dynamic before making a couple of big moves that led to my elimination. The first was overplaying middle pair and a flush draw when I had A♦ J♦ and flopped K♦ J♣ 4♦. I put far too many chips into the pot against a player who had flopped a King and turned a Queen for two pair, and I never hit my flush. That hand drained me of over 5,500 chips and left me with just over 7k.

My last hand of the tournament was just a dumb call. I’d spent three laps getting garbage hands until I was dealt pocket 9’s in the big blind. Blinds were 100/200 with a 25 ante, and 5 players limped before me, including the small blind. I raised to 1,100 and everyone folded around to the small blind, who re-raised me all-in. I thought about it for a while and somehow convinced myself to call, and he turned over pocket Jacks. I didn’t hit, and I was out of my first WSOP tourney.

My play after my table broke was pretty much atrocious. I had the opportunity and breathing room to just wait it out and get a better read on my table, and float into day two with a healthy chipstack to start the 200/400 level, and I pissed it all away. Not my finest moment, and it’s one that’ll bother me for a long time to come.

The following Saturday I played in the Millionaire Maker. I wish I had some stories to tell about that one, but my only story is a complete and utter lack of cards. When I got pocket pairs I was forced to fold. When I got pocket Aces once I got no callers, and none of my other hands hit. I just couldn’t put anything together at all until I was forced to go all-in with A♠ Q♠. Luckily I got called by Q-J offsuit and my hand held up, doubling me up to about 3k. I hovered for a little while longer but was bleeding, and was down to 2600 during the 100/200 level. 5 players limped before me, I looked down at A-Q suited again and shoved all-in, and the first limper called me with pocket Queens. To put the nail in the coffin he spiked the case Queen on the flop, taking away even my Ace as an out.

Even after busting both of my WSOP tourneys, I still think it was a stellar experience. The atmosphere around the tournament rooms was electric, and I really had fun playing in them. It might be my only chance to ever play in the WSOP and I can’t say I’m not disappointed in my performance, but it was worth it for the experience of playing in the crown jewel of poker tournaments. If I ever get the chance, I’d definitely play in it again, but for now I’ll have to treat this as my one shot that didn’t quite get there.

WSOP Road Trip: Day 1

I’ll start this off with an apology: If this post isn’t up to snuff, it’s because I drove 500 miles on roughly 3 1/2 hours of sleep. And I’m still up. I know I said I’d be doing a video blog of this trip, but I’m not sure whether that’s going to come together, so I’ll stick with normal blog posts for now.

Today marked the beginning of my road trip to the World Series Of Poker in Las Vegas. This will be the first – and I’m treating it as the only – year I’ll be able to play in any WSOP events. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me and I’m extremely blessed that I get to take advantage of it.

Blessed insomuch as I’m married to the most amazing woman who ever walked the earth, and who’s been extremely supportive of my trip to the WSOP to try my hand at my first major poker tournament(s). Without her, I would never be able to do this, and I can’t possibly thank her enough.

The first leg of the journey was a drive from Seattle to Boise. It’s a drive I’ve done probably a dozen times in my life, and it never gets better. This is, however, the first time I’ve done the drive alone, and the entire trip was in varying degrees of rain. I’m not gonna lie: it was a pretty shitty drive.

The road from Seattle to Ellensburg isn’t so bad, but eastern Washington is a big yellow-brown blasted wasteland. There’s a brief respite in northeastern Oregon, and then right back to brown, flat roads. I’ve never been a fan of this drive, but it’s a necessary evil.

I’ve never spent any time in Boise, and this is no exception. I’m only spending about 4 hours here awake, but I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised by the downtown area. It’s well kept and clean, and it looks like it’s being well developed with a lot of small businesses, boutique shops, and good food. It’s nicer than I expected.

It also helps that I got to have dinner with Jordan, a friend of mine from my Nintendo testing days. I haven’t seen Jordan in several years, so I was glad to have the opportunity to hang out for a bit. Good friends, good beer, and good food are a great way to cap off an otherwise kind of crappy driving day, and I have Jordan to thank:

jordan

Tomorrow, I’m headed to Salt Lake City to meet a couple of people I only know on Twitter. I’ll fire up another post in the aftermath of that meeting.

Play A New Game Every Once In A While

Even though I’m lying here, sick as a dog, living off of Robotussin and cough drops, this subject has bothered me long enough that I had to sit up and write about it.

I’m always amazed at people’s reluctance to try new things. This is primarily a reaction to my experience with games and poker. I’ve been playing board games for most of my life in some form, and I’ve always been interested in playing something new. I’ll give damned near any game you put in front of me a try, if for no other reason than to understand why I don’t want to play it.

I’ve met a ton of people over the years who are stuck in some kind of rut when it comes to board games. They’ve found the one or few that they like, and fuck all the rest. Even if something new comes out that’s right up their alley, they blanch at the whole idea of putting the effort out to learn something new, especially if they feel as though they’ve “solved” the game they’re familiar with.

This is especially true with poker. After Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker in 2003, the world saw an explosion in poker interest, centered primarily around No-Limit Hold ‘Em, the game that’s played in the WSOP Main Event. Everyone and their brother, sister, cousin, neighbor, mistress, gigolo, mild acquaintance, and most-hated-enemy learned how to play Hold ‘Em. In the years that followed, the combination of home games and online poker kept spurring this interest in Hold ‘Em and everyone just kept playing, whether they were good at the game or not.

What about other poker games? Poker, in it’s current form, has been around for a couple hundred years, but No Limit Hold ‘Em was only invented in the early ’50’s. 5-Card Draw, 7-Card Stud, and their variants predate Hold ‘Em by a long shot. Since Hold ‘Em’s introduction, variants on the community-card theme – Omaha, Tahoe, Pineapple and the like – have exploded as well. There are a ton of poker variants, and most of them are pretty damned fun. Just look at the WSOP schedule this year: there are 8 or 10 different games being spread, and even more if you count betting variations like Limit, Pot-Limit, and No Limit.

But I’ll be bug-fuckered if I can figure out a way to get home-game players to play anything but No Limit Hold ‘Em.

I was introduced to poker in 2004 via Hold ‘Em, just like most people. I played in a home game that ran for several years, and when it fell apart I started running my own home game, which has been running with varying degrees of success for a number of years now. Even though I started on Hold ‘Em, the whole concept of poker is what drew me in, and my appetite to learn the other games has never really been quenched. I’m absolutely fascinated by the fact that someone designed a deck of 52 cards that a) hasn’t appreciably changed since it’s initial creation and b) has spawned countless variants not only of poker, but of a ton of other games that can be played with that very same deck.

Apparently, many do not share that same level of enthusiasm. There is a small, core band of players in my poker group that will play whatever game is put in front of us. Getting anyone outside that group to play anything but Hold ‘Em is like herding cats. All the other poker games seem to hold this stigma that they’re for “more experienced” players, or people just aren’t willing to learn them because they’re afraid to move away from the game they already know. This cenophobia just baffles me.

The most common excuse I hear is “I’ll just lose my money.”

Wait… Didn’t you do the exact same thing to learn Hold ‘Em in the first place? At some point, every one of the millions of Hold ‘Em players out there were newbs, myself included, and we were just lighting our money on fire by playing it at all. This is especially funny coming from the people who routinely lose even playing Hold ‘Em. Clearly you’re not in this thing for the money, so why should spending a few bucks on a new game bother you? And yet, not one of these people who’re afraid of Omaha or Stud or Lowball has been able to sufficiently explain to me how learning one of these new games would be any different from the experience they had learning Hold ‘Em.

I mean, I really love Hold ‘Em, but with as much enjoyment as I get out of it, it can get a little tiresome after a while. Break out of your shell! Do something new! Don’t be a chicken-shit! Play a new game every once in a while.

My Journey With Poker

I completely missed my blog post yesterday. I’ll see what I can do about getting two out today, but I make no claims or promises.

Yesterday my house was a mess, and I had people coming over for my weekly poker game. It may seem like a trivial thing to prioritize over my book or my blog, but poker is an extremely important part of my life, and one that I treat with a lot of respect. I try to make my poker room the best environment for the game as possible because I take pride in the fact that people enjoy playing at my place, which is what took up the time that I should have spent writing.

I know a lot of people see poker as nothing more than gambling. That’s unfortunate because, while it has an element of risk to it, the amount of skill involved in poker can far outweigh the luck. That’s an argument I could spend an entire blog post making, but I’m going to set that aside right now so I can talk about the topic of today’s post: the effect poker has had on my life.

Many years ago, I had a temper problem. A pretty bad one. Not to the degree of being violent toward other people (at least not physically), but mostly toward inanimate objects. Trivial things would get under my skin, and send me flying off the handle at the dumbest times. My previous relationship (prior to my marriage) exacerbated that situation ten-fold, because my ex-girlfriend knew exactly what buttons to push to set me off, and kept her thumbs firmly planted on them. There were a number of emergency door replacements and strategically placed pictures in our old apartment in the aftermath of my frustration.

Unfortunately, this trend continued even after I was in a wildly better relationship. Rather than identify the problem and work on setting it aside, I had reoriented my mindset around what was acceptable for me to destroy – a place no human thought process should ever go, mind you – so I was no longer punching holes in doors, but frequently breaking things that I owned or, in one case, bending the shit out of the steering wheel of my car.

In 2004, I was introduced to poker. A friend of mine who had been into the game for quite some time taught me how to play at a 4th of July picnic that year and, being a pretty hardcore gamer all of my life, I took to it immediately. I had a decent eye for the strategy of the game, but it would be quite a while before I developed the temperament for it.

My first few years as a player my temper translated right into my play, and I was a complete tiltbox. I had spent an inordinate amount of time learning the intricacies of poker strategy, but one bad beat would throw it all out the window and send me spiraling into a spitting, cursing oblivion. One night, about a year after I started playing, I was heads up with the guy who ran our weekly poker night. To say that this guy was bad at poker would be like me writing an entire blog post explaining the reasons why humans should breathe. You know, air. This heads up match lasted almost an hour and a half (a long time with our structure back then), and on eight separate occasions I had him all-in and had the best hand, and all eight times he sucked out on me and put me out in second place.

My brain exploded. There are very few times in my life that I’ve ever been so angry about something so insignificant. I came very close to flipping his poker table over, and stormed out of his house, slamming his door behind me so hard I almost knocked his entryway windows out of their frames. And that was only the beginning of a tirade that lasted the rest of the night.

It was that night – coupled with a very serious conversation with my wife the next day – that honestly changed my life forever. What I didn’t explain earlier was that my temper, having been ignited by my ex-girlfriend, should have been extinguished – or at least dampened – once that relationship was over. I can very specifically trace my temper issues back to that one woman (mixed with a high volume of my own immaturity), but once she was out of my life, I either couldn’t or simply didn’t work on a way to bring it into check.

And I came closer than ever to losing my wife because of it.

That night was the trigger for an interesting type of soul-searching mission. I was desperately trying to find a way to get my temper in check without the use of drugs or a therapist. So I buried myself in poker.

Does that sound odd? It shouldn’t. The disciplines involved in being a good poker player include strategy, odds, reading players, and understanding your place at the table. Underpinning all of that, though, is self-discipline. The most important aspects of being a great poker player are not rooted in understanding the mechanics of the game, but instead understanding yourself and being able to remain in control at all times.

During this delve into the game, I read more poker books than I can count. I studied strategy on online sites, talked poker with friends constantly, and was playing some form of poker literally every single day of my life. If I wasn’t playing a home game, I was making trips to a local card room or playing online. And during this entire process I was learning two very important skills: how to objectively identify flaws in my own gameplay (including strategic errors AND mental and emotional lapses), and how to control my emotions.

Poker is a roller coaster of a game. Playing against terrible players is the best way to make money, but it’s also the most frustrating thing in the world. Bad players spend most of their time making the wrong moves, but that little bit of luck sometimes brings them out on top. You can do everything right, and still get screwed for it. In the long run it all evens out, but in the moment it’s fuck-all aggravating. The good players – the truly good players – are the ones who can let it slide off their back and not affect their play.

I’ve played against a lot of bad players. At that time, when I was playing daily, it was pretty much constant. There is no better immersion course in emotional control than playing $10 sit-and-go’s online, or sitting down at a $2/$4 table at a shitty local cardroom. Over the next year, I focused so hard on learning how to not let bad beats and crappy suck-outs affect my game, that I was simultaneously teaching myself how to let other things roll off my back, and keep my emotions check away from the poker table. And it wasn’t always a conscious effort. Sometimes I’d find myself starting to get frustrated by something, and feel myself putting it aside and telling myself not to let it bother me, and it was only in a moment of clarity that I identified what I was doing and where it had come from.

Never in my life have I found a better lesson in prioritizing the things that affect me on a day-to-day basis. Learning how to set aside stupidity I could not control in a poker game shined a spotlight on all of the things that I was letting under my skin outside the game, and taught me how to diminish their importance and learn what truly mattered. In the process, I was also learning how to identify my own faults and determine courses of action to fix them – starting with my temper.

It took a long, long time. Years, in fact. Along the way, I made some pretty big mistakes. Unlike the years before, though, I knew now how to see those mistakes for what they were, and admit to myself that a solution was needed. Admitting my faults to myself allowed me also to admit them out loud, which went a long way in saving quite a few of my friendships. And all along, I was chipping away at the foundations of my shitty temper until it finally fell away.

I’m not perfect; I still get pissed off about things. Only now, it usually doesn’t last very long, and it slides out of my consciousness rather quickly. For me, anger was a destructive force that cost me friends and almost destroyed my marriage. The disciplines I’ve learned from playing poker – both strategic and emotional – have translated into almost every aspect of my everyday life. Every skill I’ve taken away from poker has had a quantifiable impact on my life, but none so significant as allowing me to live without having childish temper tantrums.

It may sound sappy or cliche, but poker saved my marriage, and changed my life.

Welcome!

Welcome to my blog! If you’re wondering what it’s all going to be about, you and I are in the same boat. As with most blogs, the intent behind this is to be a (hopefully) steady stream of consciousness that will (again, hopefully) be entertaining to some degree. A little rundown of my brain-pan might help define what things I’ll post about, and the categories I intend to separate everything into:

First and foremost, I’m a geek. If there is a geeky pursuit, I’ve probably done it, primarily in the form of games. I play games, and that occupies most of my free time. I play video games, card games, roleplaying games, board games, poker (lots of poker…), and I’ve even spent a good chunk of my life LARPing and playing live-combat games. I’m a gamer, in both the purest and broadest sense of the term.

I’m also a husband, a game designer, an artist, and a writer. I’ve just finished the first draft of my first full-length novel, and I’ve got several traditional game designs in the works.

The posts on  my blog will be split into one of the following categories:

EDITORIAL, which is further divided into:

Thoughts:
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Rants:

and
Reviews, which doesn’t have it’s own image because it’ll usually be tied to one of the categories below.

ENTERTAINMENT, which is further divided into:

Books (including my own):

Comic Books:
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and
Movies:

and GAMING, which is further divided into:

Poker:

Video Games:

and
Traditional Games:

Hopefully you’ll find it as entertaining as I find it cathartic. I’m not here to take you on a journey, I just plan on putting myself out there and seeing what people think. Let me know, okay?