Friday, September 7, 2007

Baseball in Philadelphia

I hate Philadelphia sports. Even in cases where I am not a fan of a rival team, I still root against Philadephia. I just think their fans are assholes. The car, which has a "Devils Hockey" bumper sticker, always gets messed with there(dents, parking tickets, etc.) Also, they booed and threw ice at Santa Claus. The point is, they're not nice people.

When I go to sporting events, I like to heckle the opposing team and its fans. I try to be more clever than mean, preferring to take shots at a team and city's foibles rather than at people's mothers. Last week, I had the chance to go to a game as a fan of the visiting team, in hostile Philadelphia for a Thursday afternoon Mets at Phillies game. I wore a brand new blue and orange Mets hat, clearly identifying myself as the enemy. From the start, this was a tough situation. The Phillies had won the first three games against the Mets and jumped out to an early 5-0 lead in this game. This made my job as a heckler difficult, but not impossible. When your team is losing, the basic idea is to change the subject. To tell the opposing fan that yes, his team is winning, but:
1) They still suck...a lot.
2) They have always sucked. In fact, they haven't made the playoffs since 1993.
3) All of the other teams in your city suck also. (Discuss each individually.)
4) Philadelphia Phillies is a really stupid name. Think New York New Yorkies. (New Jersey Jerseys?)
5) You guys are assholes.

There was a fun back and forth to this for the first few innings. Luckily, as I was starting to run out of material, the Mets started scoring. The Mets tied the game briefly, then immediately gave up three more runs. I smiled and nodded as I felt the disdain of most of the people around me(luckily, there were also some New Yorkers around to share my pain). Then the Mets took the lead with five runs in the 8th. I happily pointed out that the Phillies' pitchers who gave up those runs were quite fat, particularly during a pitching change in which one fat pitcher was replaced by another. A funny thing happened as the Mets pwned the fat pitchers. Philadelphia was silent. I called out to a group of guys who minutes earlier had been insulting me, "Hey, you guys got quiet. How's it goin'?" These formerly blustery people turned to each other, "You guys hear anything?" "No, do you?" "Nothing."

In the bottom of the inning, the Mets put in star pitcher Billy Wagner, an ex-Phillie reviled by a city notorious for booing. As Wagner, who is considered a traitor by Philadelphians for signing with the division rival Mets, walked onto the field, Philadelphia stayed silent. Only when Wagner struggled did the stands come to life. At this point, the park was so loud that it was impossible to talk to anyone, which is just as well. There was no need to say or hear anything else. Philadelphia had lost my respect. I knew they were assholes, but honestly, so are we. Unfortunately, they are not even worthy rivals. The difference between us is that I will talk shit all day regardless of the score. Philadelphians are pussies. They can talk shit, but only behind the security blanket of their team's success. I walked out of the stadium to the sweep taunts and catcalls with my head held high. My response could not be heard above the noise of the crowd, so I will repeat it now. You're dead to me, Philadelphia.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Super Bowl notes

A couple of observations about the Bears. I've said that Rex Grossman is not an NFL quarterback. All week long, there was talk of whether we'd see "good Rex" or "bad Rex." The truth about Rex is that he is a reckless, high variance player. Good Rex and bad Rex are the same awful quarterback but with the jump balls going the way of the Bears instead of the opponents. The referees were absolutely horrible in this game. There was so much holding that went uncalled. I know that "linemen hold on every play" but that's a subtle type of holding. When you can see jerseys being tugged, a flag is almost always, and should be, thrown. The left tackle for the Bears. number 76, held on every single play. There was one series of 3 plays which, if I had been the referee, would have resulted in 1st and 40 for the Bears. 76 got beaten on every single play by Dwight Freeney, the Colts' star passrusher, and then dragged him down. Not a single penalty was called and the Bears punted. 65 of the Colts also held a lot. Both were slow white guys. Back to the point about the Bears, both the quarterback and left tackle are terrible. Many consider the left tackle the most important position on the O-line, since he protects the blind side of a right-handed quarterback. So the two most important players on the Bears offense are Grossman and 76, both of whom are terrible. How did they expect to beat anyone good?? These kinds of personnel decisions are why I don't like Lovie Smith despite all of his success. Check out the facebook group Fuck it, I'm throwing it downfield for a thorough and hilarious dismantling of Sexy Rexy.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Often, an AC trip happens when you least expect it. I arrived at my friend Grant's apartment in Philadelphia Wednesday afternoon expecting to hang out for a few hours and then continue my trip south. My friend Rob was also there, and after about one bowl, "Let's go to AC." I got really into the idea and pretty soon, we were on our way.

The drive is about an hour each way, and we planned to stay for about 4 hours, depending on how we were doing/feeling. In terms of feeling, I was questionable due to what was either a nasty 2 day hangover or a highly coincidental 2 day illness. But I was on Tylenol and feeling good, so we were on our way.

We arrived at Borgata at around 7(all times approximate). The poker room was crowded and there was an estimated hour wait to sit. There was some kind of World Poker Tour event going on. So we went to the Trop, where there was open seating. I sat down at a table and immediately knew it wasn't going to be a fun session. I felt awful and pills weren't helping. I planned to play a low energy, conservative game. Aside from this, the guy sitting next to me on the right was about 60, had a huge pot belly, and smelled as if he hadn't brushed his teeth in several days. We had one of those energetic "personality" dealers, and somehow something she said led my neighbor to say something that resembled "I like to be spanked." I gave him a look of horror, and he's like "I'm not ashamed" or something annoying like that. The ensuing table conversation took the tone of "This kid is really prude." Sorry, but I just couldn't get past "Smelly old guy likes to be spanked." Yuck!

One notable hand happened at this table. Smelly Old Guy raised to 17 and I called with KK, 2 other callers. Flop was QT4 with 2 diamonds. SOG bet out 17 again, I raised to 45, he went all in for 500. I had 310 in front of me to call. His play screamed of a big draw, like KJd or something similar. At the same time, he had made it 17 preflop, he didn't seem all that reckless, and I had been playing pretty tight, and I knew relatively little about how he played. Et cetera...I folded, he showed QQ. A few hands later, I decided I was too sick to play and set out to convince Grant and Rob to leave. It was only about 9, and they were drinking and having a good time, enjoying the fact that I was there to DD. I wandered for a bit and eventually went to the car to nap. I'm not sure I actually got any sleep, but at around 11, I was awake and I felt pretty good. I sat down at a new table with 300. My table was not exactly high in action. The cast of players distinctly lacked aggression. They were a mix of tight-bad and tight-okay players. I actually prefer tables like this, since it allows me a wide array of moves and faces me with very few tough decisions. Creative and tricky players do creative and tricky things, which lead to tough decisions. Tight players just sit there and wait for the nuts. They'll fold f0r a while, thinking that when they get the nuts, I'll pay them off. But I won't. Twenty minutes in, who sits down at my table but Smelly Old Guy? I was way down in seat 8, he sat in seat 5. Not surprisingly, within 10 minutes, the players in seats 4 and 6 had left the table.

I found myself playing pretty aggressively, running the table. A really important part of aggressive play is the continuation bet. It is a followup show of aggression after an initial one, which players often do regardless of whether their hand is still strong. For example, you raise preflop with AK, then miss the flop. You'll still often bet the flop, because people will usually fold if they missed the flop also. When to c-bet and when not to is often a tough decision, especially in a game like this, where 4 players see the flop with you. It's almost never correct to c-bet(without a hand) against 4 players. At this table, however, the players were so easy to read that I could tell whether they would fold just by looking at them. I used this to time and execute my c-bets much more effectively than I would otherwise be able to. This was a huge boon to my profit margin.

Central to my c-bet strategy was Smelly Old Guy. He liked to see a lot of flops, and if he called the blind, he would almost always call my raise as well. He was also stubborn. He'd often call my flop c-bet. This led to the really interesting decision of what to do on the turn. In most cases, one gives up-checks and folds. I noticed from situations where I had a real hand that SOG might call the flop, but he didn't like to call down. He'd usually fold on the turn. Against him, I c-bet the turn and river also. Obviously, as I said, I had reads to back up what I was doing. To continue betting haphazardly would just be reckless. It all leads up to the following hand, which in hindsight I believe I misplayed. It took me like 3 days of thought to come to this conclusion, so I'm not about to say that it was a careless mistake that I shouldn't have made. It's just a lesson. I had Q7h and I was seeing a lot of flops, since I was pretty invincible at that table. 7 players saw the flop for $2, T84h. I flopped the flush. I bet 10, SOG called. Turn 3, SOG checks, I bet 30, he raises to 100. I'm like, uh oh...nuts? A very important idea in poker is to not go broke in unraised pots. We saw the flop in a $15 would be silly to lose 500 playing that pot, right? Right.

Back to the action. I have a Q-hi flush, so I am certainly not folding. To reraise might make him fold a lot of inferior hands, but won't get rid of the hands I'm actually afraid of. I generally don't like this option. I just call, river is a blank 6. SOG bets out 100. I just call and ask "how high?" He says he doesn't have a flush, I go "Cool. I do." He shows 33, with the 3h. Obviously his call on the flop was silly and costly. My call was far from a crying one...I thought he had a flush, but with the queen, mine could easily be best.

The argument in favor of my play is this. I had been running over this guy all night and he was just taking it. It's easy to imagine that he was waiting for his chance to fight back. I tend to respect this sort of bet. Another argument is the unraised pot. Considering that it was such a small pot, I got excellent value for my hand. I really thought he had the nuts and didn't want to put my whole stack on the line.

Here is why I should have raised. I'm talking about raising to 200 or 250. For starters, my whole stack isn't on the line because I don't have to call the reraise. People only reraise that bet with the nuts. I've been bullying him and he knows it. That makes his range of hands wider than normal, meaning he could have a wider range of hands and play them more aggressively. The final piece of the puzzle is the hand from the first table, where I saw him play the nuts. He didn't slowplay at all. He horribly overplayed them. Granted, I was playing very very differently. At the first table, I was a sick, quiet shell of myself. At this table, I was Negreanu-esqe. The point is that his 100 bet was very very different from his all in bet from earlier, and that first hand is a basis for comparison I should have used to get an extra 150. It's very hard to add up all of these things in the heat of the moment. I have to get better at it if I want to be the great player I think I am.

My friends were ready to leave by this point, and my only question before I would also be ready was-will SOG go on tilt? He won a pot off Rob shortly after, unfortunately, and didn't seem to be on tilt, so I cashed out. I was up 410 on that table, 10 on the first, so +420 for the trip.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

NFL game management

15 seconds left in the Bears-Seahawks game; the Seahawks face 4th and 10 near midfield. It's 4th down, so they sensibly let the clock run. I expect the Bears to call time out, force the Seahawks to punt, and try to win the game. Chicago has a great return game, a good kicker, a strong-armed quarterback. That team is well suited to take a shot in the last 15 seconds.

Anyways, the clock is it appears the Bears are just letting it run out and go to overtime...fine. THE BEARS CALL TIME OUT WITH 2 SECONDS LEFT. What are they thinking??? "Let's give Seattle a free shot to win the game for no reason." Now the 4th down is irrelevant; there is time for one play for the Seahawks to take a shot at the end zone.
Edit: Hasselbeck was pressured and he threw the ball away. This is horrible because the only thing that can really happen is an interception return. Just take the sack!

Friday, January 5, 2007

Notre Dame

The Sugar Bowl was the first time I really saw Notre Dame play. Ben noticed a big flaw in Brady Quinn's mechanics. Rather than use his back foot to plant and drive the ball, he picks it up. It's an awkward motion. I don't know if he always does it or if he just did it that game. He's supposed to be a top 5 pick, so it will be interesting to see if the analysts talk about this. I was generally unimpressed with him.

Jeff Samardzija, the wide receiver who is also supposed to be a first round pick, pushes off on every play. It doesn't get called much, but it says to me that he isn't as good at getting open as he should be. He's also white.

These are just my impressions from one game, probably ND's worst of the season. It might be unfair to generalize.

Marvin Lewis, continued

The following is Ben's idea.

Football coaches are hired because of their motivational abilities and knowledge of the game, their general ability to build a good team. This does not necessarily make them good clock managers. Herman Edwards, our coach last year, was notorious for endgame mistakes. Coaches should hire an assistant whose sole job is to manage the clock at the end of the half and game. This is similar to how general managers now all have salary cap managers on their staffs. San Francisco was the first to do this, and they had a huge advantage in the late 90s, before other teams started doing the same.

Marvin Lewis

I noted several weeks ago that Marvin Lewis, coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, successfully "iced the kicker" against the Ravens. CBS showed the end of the Bengals game this week, which, as it worked out, would have put the team in the playoffs had they won. With about 1:10 left, the Steelers about to attempt a game-tying field goal, Lewis called time out. In the Ravens game, the time out wasn't critical, since it was at the end of the first half. Here, however, they had 70 seconds and 2 time outs left, a chance to drive down the field and win the game. What the hell is Lewis doing wasting a time out???

Cincinnati drives down the field, but can't stop the clock, overtime, Steelers win, gs(good season.)

Atlantic City trip

I went to AC on Wednesday. There's a cool three mile stretch on the Garden State Parkway 10+ miles north of the ACE(Atlantic City Expressway), from exits 52 to 49, where a lot of it feels like you're riding a wave. It's like smoothed out speed bumps or something, but you're still going up and down. I don't get to ride that too often, since I'm usually coming from Baltimore(NJ Turnpike to ACE), not North Jersey. So that was fun.

The trip was a flashback to the days when I cared about getting carded, since I went with Ben, who is not 21. We got to the Borgata and, including us, there were 8 or 9 people waiting, so they started a new table. It wasn't crowded, so I didn't expect any problems, but the floorperson carded everyone who was sitting down. I'd never seen anyone do that before. The other people were clearly older, I had mine, Ben "left it in the car." Seeeeeya.

After a short stop at Harrah's(long line, no new tables starting) we went to the Trop(icana) which is where I played when I was 19. They seemed to start carding when I was 20, but I figured it was worth a shot, because I like the games there. There were no problems, so I can get to the session.

I only had 500 on me, so I decided to start with just $200 at the first table. I quickly decided that 200 was fine if I wanted to be weak-tight, but I needed 300 to play my game, so I reloaded. Early on, things did not go well for me. No big hands, but I was in for 400 and only had 150 in front of me. I made one stupid bluff where I knew the guy had a weak ace, and that he wouldn't fold, but I made the play anyway. Oops. So I suck. Anyways, I get some hands, make some moves, and I'm back up to 350. I checkraised a tightass preflop raiser on a K44 board with J9 no draw, he folded, I showed, he went on tilt...lost all of his chips to someone else...I hate when that happens. Assists are not recorded in poker like they are in sports(Just to settle the "debate," poker is not a sport. Sports involve physical activity.) I left for dinner shortly after that(guy didn't reload) and when I got back, the table had broken. A new table was starting, so Ben and I sat down. We had previously not been playing together. The game started 4-handed, which was awkward because it was me and a close friend, and the other 2 were father and son. The father was from Long Island and the son had an Irish accent. I guess it's possible, but I still suspect he was faking it. My only basis for comparison is Boondock Saints, and he didn't sound like those guys. Anyways, the table filled up, and I went card dead for a bit. I must have folded 25 hands in a row. Finally I get into a multiway pot with 54o, I have the button, raiser is early position, and he's weak-tight-bad. Flop is KT7 rainbow(3 different soots(yes I know how to spell suit)) he bets out 10, I decide this is my pot, raise to 30, he calls. Turn is a 10, and he's visibly unhappy. He checks, I bet 50, he folds, I smile and show 5 hi, no draw. He's like, what the fuck, and I just say "I got bored." I wasn't lying, but the explanation is incomplete. I wanted to shake up the table a little, establish some action, and get the guy on tilt. A few hands later, someone else bluffed this guy out of a pot and showed. You could see the steam coming out of his ears. A rotation later, I have 68o, call his preflop raise, flop is K88...DING. He bets out 25, I raise to 65, so it looks like the same play as before, he's all in, KQ, I hold, gg. Unfortunately, he did not reload.

There was a guy sitting on my left, wearing Full Tilt Poker gear head to toe. Hat, shirt, pants, the whole 9 yards, as they say. He looked really serious and didn't say a word. A walking cliche, if you will. I tried to talk to him several times. "So does FT pay you to dress like that?" "Something like that." A few more attempts and finally, "Don't you get bored sitting there not playing any hands and being angry?" Grunt. Whatever. I hate people like that because they add absolutely nothing to the game. And he's probably a small winner. And no fucking way does FT pay him anything. He is not the slightest bit marketable. I'm trying to be more like Daniel Negreanu, keeping up a constant stream of chatter. People were very antisocial at this place. I found it very hard to talk, so I would just talk to Ben. I was having trouble keeping my talk meaningless. I found myself explaining relevant things about the game to Ben. And then I'd be like, "Oh right. Idle chatter. So how about that local sports team?" I must have sounded like a douchebag. Mike's response to this story-"You are a douchebag." Negreanu is good enough to keep up the chatter even while he's in hands. I'm not, so I stop talking when I'm playing a hand. I keep that constant, so as not to be like Yogi Berra. Early in his career, teams knew when the Yankees had hit and runs or steals called, because that's the only time Yogi would not talk to the first baseman. My third table wasn't so noteworthy, except that I made 187 at it, making it my most successful table. Totals for the 3 tables were -43, +100, +187=+244. I'll take it. I might go back to AC on the way down to Baltimore. It's not exactly on the way, but it only adds an extra 90 minutes or so to the trip. Compare that to a 4(North Jersey)-5(Baltimore) hour round trip...