Monday, February 27, 2006

Six Sigmas Out

27 FEB 06

The Tiltboys have a great post about standard deviation (AKA Sigma) and one of their Vegas trips. I think some or all of their posts have been converted to a book, which is legit. Sometimes I read bloggers and think, gee – I can’t believe I can read this great writing for free. Sometimes, I even say “gosh – golly,” or “wowsers.”

So, I was thinking about my own experience with standard deviation. Long time readers will remember my post about flopping three full houses, only to have all three beaten by quads by the same guy. No – this didn’t happen online. It was at my old standby, the Muckleshoot (bad beat jackpot now stands just under $300,000).

Last night, I had another experience with standard deviation, this time to the other side. In the span of one hour, I was dealt AK 8 times, 6 of them suited. I also had AQ and AJ. My final hand at that table was AA. The whole table was cracking up, because I kept raising or reraising. The funny thing was that no one believed me. I did not slow play. I announced, “Yes folks, it happened again. Raise!” Yet still they came. I won 80% of those hands, often going to a showdown. When I got the AA, I said, “Folks, this time it’s not AK.” I showed the kid sitting next to me, and he about freaked out. Got one caller to the river (he had K4 and hit the king on the flop).

Overall, I won $800 this weekend, but that includes a second place in a $40 buy-in home game tournament. I got to heads up as the chip leader, but Jay caught a crazy run of cards (including three consecutive hands with pocket pairs), and busted me. At one point, he laid down KK face up to my all in. The board was J 9 8 6 with three clubs. I had J 10 with one club. It was a great lay down. We rabbit hunted – he would have won, but I think I make the same lay down on that scary board.

One funny hand. I had the early chip lead. With 33, I raised and was reraised. The flop was 3 5 6. I underbet the pot. Ron raises to where he is almost pot committed. I go all-in and he quickly calls. He flips over KK. The guy to my left says, “I folded a King.”

Turn blank.

River King.

Still, I had plenty of chips, but the one-out suckout really affected me. I was still steaming 5 hands later, but I was smart enough to fold all marginal hands while I was still pissed.

I may have said this before, but I think I’m back. Even if I’m not, it sure feels good when the cards are coming my way, followed closely by the money.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Donkeys Always Draw

25 SEP 05

First off – big shout out to Mr. and Mrs. Skitch. It was great finally meeting you. Of course, I had a hard time finding Mrs. Skitch because she was hidden behind a huge mound of chips. Do you give lessons?

My game was pathetic. Although I only lost $80, I played too long and should have lost the whole thing. The night found me all-in (at friggin’ 4/8!!) 4 times. I lost with KK and 10 10, but won with K6, K3 (twice), 10 2 and 4 5. What the hell am I playing those hands for, you ask? Perhaps I was in the blind? Nope. Just me being a moron, thanks.

That being said, there is an argument (albeit a weak one) that starting hand range should have been MUCH wider at this table, because if you caught a hand, you would be paid handsomely for it. I dragged 4 pots over $100, but obviously lost my share of big pots, too.

Still, this was my first time back after starting my new business and my self-imposed exile from the 10/20 game at the Muckleshoot. My reads were perfect and my post flop play was good but for two call-downs when I knew I was beat. I tried to justify them by saying to myself that I was proving I couldn’t be intimidated, but all I was really proving was that I could be a donkey, just like the rest of them.

Case in point. I have 5 10 of diamonds in the cutoff seat. Clearly a calling hand, (go with me here) right? The flop is Ks Js 2d. There are three callers in front, so I call. My thought here is I’ll stay to see if a Queen or diamond come on the turn.

What a moronic play. There. I saved you from having to post it in the comments.

Turn: 7d

4 callers (including me) see the river:

Ace of diamonds.

Now I bet. No point in slowplaying, because I’ll get at least two callers. Sure enough, the button calls with two pair and I drag the pot.

It felt weird to be on the receiving end of the “you stupid moron” speech. I got the full treatment, including, “what did you like about that flop (you idiot)?” and “what the hell were you doing in there with 5 10, anyway?”

But they were soooooted!!

Yes!! I finally got to say it.

Final thought: Do you think there is any correlation between the fact that I lost money, and played so many stupid hands?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Blogging Because I Have To

24 FEB 06

Seems silly, but I feel this strange obligation to put something up here, even though I have nothing to say. I have played no poker since I last blogged. I’ve got a tournament lined up this weekend, and I plan on hitting the loose PJ Pockets tables some time soon, but I’m in a funk. Work has become un-fun. I know that seems obvious, but I usually look forward to coming to work.

The home business I started is looking promising, but I’ll need a big jump in bandwidth to keep it alive. Can’t say much more than that. Frustrating.

My big poker goal looks like it’s getting shelved for a while. That’s bumming me out, too.

My gazebo blew over in the wind last night and self-destructed. Unrecoverable. Tangled mess of wrought iron and fabric.

My bathroom shower is still leaking. The contractor was there today and said his guys installed the weep holes on the wrong side. It’s nowhere near as bad as Dawn, but still…

Maybe that’s it. I think my weep holes were installed on the wrong side.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Smart Nerd

I am nerdier than 94% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!


21 FEB 06

Great. I’m a smart nerd. And the sky is blue…

How's about some poker?!

I had President’s Day off (sometimes being a federal employee is a good thing). Of course, I drove one hour to the Tulalip Casino for a little game we call No Limit Texas Hold ‘em. I hate the drive and I REALLY hate the return trip through rush-hour traffic. Fortunately, the drive back this time was better, probably due to the holiday. By 10:30 am they had 3 tables (!) of no limit (yet the Muckleshoot can't get one). I didn’t book a winning session, but I only lost $30, so I consider that almost a win. That being said, my beta was huge (I told you I was a geek. Beta is another word for variance. In this case I’m using it to mean huge swings in my bankroll).

I had great reads on everyone at the table and only made one donkey play. I had AQ in late position. There were three limpers and I raised it to 4 x BB. All three limpers called. The flop was K 10 4 rainbow. It checks around to me. I have $70 left in front of me, so I go all in. The only decent player at the table is next to act and he goes into the tank. He finally calls. The other two fold and he flips over 10 8. The turn and river are no help and he drags a big pot. Most of the table freaked out about the call, but it was a great call. My bet made no sense, and he correctly picked up on it.

I quickly rebought and played pretty tight until I look down at 7 8 on the button. 6 limpers (!), and I limp too. The flop is K 9 6 with two diamonds. I have the open ender. It checks around to me and I smell a trap. As I’ve told you, I love leading with a drawing hand, but since I just got caught with my hand in the cookie jar, I figured someone was counting on me betting in position so they could check raise, and I just checked.

The turn was a 2 of clubs. The good player bets the pot. I put him on a weak king or maybe second pair. The rock to my right calls and I think a long time before calling.

The river is a 2 of spades. I figure the rock to my right missed her flush draw, but I’m not sure about the good player in seat 4. He thinks a while and finally checks. The rock checks and it comes to me.

All in.

Here are my thoughts:
1. I know the rock will fold.
2. The paired board is scary.
3. Seat 4 is out of position with the rock yet to act.
4. I just got called on an all-in and lost. I wouldn’t do it again, would I?

The 4 seat really goes into the tank now. He’s counting out his chips. I lean forward with my cards in my hand and say, “I’ll show you.” The table reacts and says, “Wait, the rock still has to act!” I knew she was there – I was counting on it.

He finally folds, as does the rock (of course). I survey the table to see if they could guess my hand. Most guessers said full house. One said Kings full. Another said 6’s full. I flipped over my busted straight and there was much shouting - drowned out only by me dragging and stacking chips.

Here's one funny hand. Prior to this hand, the rock had made a hugely bad tilt call and beat me out of a big pot. I had trip 8’s on the turn and bet the pot. She called on a flush draw and hit on the river. Big deal. At least I know she’s capable of making bad plays on occasion. A few orbits later and I get 2 4 in the big blind. 2 limpers. She completes and I check. The flop is J 8 4 (whoo-hooo – bottom pair, two kicker). Rock overbets the pot.


I’m really short stacked, so I go all in over the top. Everyone else folds.

Here is the funny part. She’s about to fold!! What?!?! I say – hey, it’s only another 7 dollars. Okay, she says, but you caught me, and she flips over 5 3.

You’ve got to be kidding me. But wait, there’s more!!

The turn – J.

The river – 8.

I have Jacks and 8’s with a 4 kicker, she has a 5 kicker.

Will someone please cover my mouth with tape and kick my ass? Thanks.

Final thought – my tech was hospitalized. I hope she stays long enough to get the care she needs.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Taking a Break

18 FEB 06

I thought I could handle the bad beats. Financially – no problem. Emotionally – well, that’s a whole different ball game.

I didn’t tilt last night, but I did two things that are unforgivable in the poker world. First, I allowed myself to be affected when a moron sucked out on my pocket 10’s with his K5 to go runner-runner straight. I didn’t open up my starting hand range (the usual manifestation of my tilt), but I steamed for the next hour. I think it was my steaming that caused sin #2.

Chuck is a rock. He’s about 75 years old and he walks with a cane. He’s a bit crotchety, but most of the regulars respect him. He’s capable of an occasional tricky play, but he’s usually got you beat if he stays to the river.

He’s SB and I’m BB. The pot is raised. He calls and I complete with my K7 hearts. The flop is AQ6 with the Ace and 6 both hearts. Cool – nut flush draw. Chuck checks and so do I. Unbelievably (especially for this table), it checks around and we see the turn.

4 of hearts. Sweet.

I check the nuts. It checks around to Chuck who bets. I smooth call to milk out of few more bets from the morons at the other end of the table. 4 callers see a blank river and an unpaired board.

Chuck bets. I raise. Fold. Fold. Chuck re-raises.


My first thought is, sweet! I got one over on Chuck!

Cap it!

Chuck calls and flips over…

A9 of hearts.

As they push him the pot, I shoot up and say, “Wait! I’ve got the nuts!”

No sir, you have the second nuts. I misread the board. Badly. The Ace on the board was a diamond, and the Queen was the heart. I had the King-high flush, but I thought I had the Ace-high flush.

Big pot go bye, bye.

So does Dr. Chako.

I’m taking a break from poker for a while to reassess my game. I know my strong suits are tournaments and NL ring games. Limit has been kicking my ass for too long, and it must stop. Taking a break is the only +EV thing I can do right now. Besides, the business thingy I eluded to last month is starting next week.


Oh yeah, an update on the saga at work. My tech had a complete psychotic break, complete with hysterics and extreme paranoia. Fortunately, I was the only one she would listen to. I got a call from her early this morning, and convinced her to go to the Emergency Room. I called the ER in advance, and they are expecting her. One of my soldiers is escorting her there personally. I sincerely hope she gets whatever help she needs.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Update on Mean Bosses

16 FEB 06

Thanks guys. As I noted in the comments section yesterday, things seemed to be improving. Here is what I said:

She finally calmed down enough to tell me:

a. She hasn't slept in over 2 days
b. She's lost 9 pounds since I promoted her
c. She has spent most of the last 48 hours crying
d. She didn't call the FDA
e. She found an easy way (with a little help) to fix the problem - as I knew she would

I sent her home with a directive that she get some food and some rest. I told her not to think about work until Friday or Monday. She started crying again and she hugged me and thanked me.

It's not over, but I'm most of the way through the thicket (at least this time).

So, this morning, despite my explicit instructions that she was not allowed to think about work or call us, I got a page from her at 7:25 am. In fact, EVERY MEMBER of my department got a call from her this morning. Her comments were very upbeat, but scattered. She thanked me profusely for caring, and told me that I was the best boss she ever had. Then she gave me an assignment.


She told me (as she told everyone else when she called them) that we had to think of a word that best describes what’s important in life. She’s going to get our responses when she comes in tomorrow, and then tell us the real answer.

I met with the department soon after I got off the phone. They were all very concerned. They are a pretty perceptive bunch, and they all noted that my tech seemed to be decompensating. One even noted that she’s on the verge of a psychotic break.


What I do know is that she’s in trouble. She’s asking for help whether she knows it or not, and that’s exactly what I will try to do. I have arranged for her to see our Occupational Health department before she starts back to work. During that screening, they will ask some routine questions about mental health. If she passes, then she’s back to work.

Something tells me that she’ll have some difficulty passing this test.


Final thought: I blog about poker and get a few responses, probably because I have very little to add to the amazing stuff that’s already out there. I blog about reality, and everyone can relate (and offered some well-reasoned advice, too. Well, except for Darryl). Weird.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

This Is Not About You

15 FEB 06

When I started this blog, it was to give me a way to write about my own thoughts for my own benefit. Dear reader, this entry has very little to do with poker, and it’s not for your entertainment. I need a way to get my thoughts down. Feel free to read and offer advice if you think it will help, but you aren’t going to like me much when you are done reading, and I really don’t want any more abuse, thank you.

Here goes.

Poker may be starting to affect my work.

It’s interesting. I remember when I started playing many years ago (okay, it was last year, but it feels longer), I got a few bad beats while playing 4/8. I came into work the next day and was really hard on my residents. The fact they had it coming was merely coincidence. One of my residents was looking at a CT scan and couldn’t tell the difference between the uterus and the bladder. I really laid into him.

Afterwards, he actually thanked me. It seems that no other staff had cared enough to get involved, much less angry. He told me that he’d try better, and that he appreciated my willingness to attend every resident conference and provide input. I guarantee he’ll never forget his female anatomy again.

But, was I overly emotional because of the bad beat the previous night? If I’m being honest, I’m forced to say yes. Just because I was doing the right thing doesn’t justify HOW I did it. There were plenty of other less confrontational ways of approaching this resident. In fact, I got reprimanded for my actions.

Well, I got another bad beat yesterday. In fact, it was a string of bad beats akin to the slaughter of Daniel Negreanu at High Stakes Poker (am I the only one watching this show on GSN?).

So today, I come in early and immediately get a distress call from one of my techs. It seems she was up all night worrying about whether or not we are in compliance with a certain federal regulation. Now, there are a lot of things I do that need to be in strict compliance. Certain things are Level 1 critical (for instance, the amount of radiation coming out of my machine is too high – I shut it down without a second thought). In this case, the tech felt that the issue was a Level 1, and she wanted to shut us down. Fortunately, it’s my decision. The issue is clearly important, but it’s about a Level 3 or 4 (these levels are arbitrary – my point is, the issue is clearly important, but not bad enough to cancel a full day of patients).

Well, the fact that it takes her 30 minutes to explain the issue to me (while patients and residents are waiting), coupled with the fact that she clearly cares more about the issue than is healthy, coupled with the fact that she won’t let me interject to explain to her how we were going to solve the problem caused me to get a little short.

This will come back to haunt me. As I type this, she is calling the FDA. They are not known for measured reasoning in cases like this. I expect we may get shut down - not because we need to get shut down, but because they will likely not understand the issue after my tech explains it. Their “cease” order may be precautionary until they can get more information.

And you know what? It’s MY fault. I promoted this tech to the lead position because I had to fire both previous leaders. Both prior firings were fully justified (the first had committed 2 felony offenses and the second I blogged about – she was the one going through the messy divorce who kept bringing her new boyfriend to work, taking 2 hour lunches, and acting very inconvenienced when asked to do her job). I CAN’T fire another one.

My thoughts here turn to Change100 at Pot Committed. I’ve been fired from one job, but it was not my career. She got fired from a career-type position. That’s exactly what I may be facing with my tech – firing her from a career position. It could be devastating. I don’t want to do it. Hopefully, I’ll find a way to bring her around, or at the very least put her back where she was (not in a leadership position).

I promise I won’t make any final decisions until I’m sure it’s not rash behavior from my recent bad beat.

This sucks. A better person would find a way to make this work.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine’s Day Maiming

14 FEB 06

Not quite a massacre, but still…

Dovetailing on the “I’m not showboating” post, I’m forced to admit that I can be a jerk if given the right impetus. Take Mr. “I’ve got plenty of money.” We are playing 10/20. I’m not in the hand, but after the final card is dealt, he checks. There is a bet and he quickly says, “all in for 10.” At this point, he throws two red chips into the pot and turns over the nuts. The MP bettor realizes he’s beat, pulls back two of his red chips (making his bet match the $10 all-in from Mr. IGPOM), and mucks. Well, Mr. IGPOM realizes he still had 4 white $1 chips in front of him and demands the extra $4 from MP.

Table goes nuts. Floor gets called. Ruling:

The “All-In” is binding. Pay the man his $4.

Mr. IGPOM earns his nickname by throwing the $4 back at MP, saying, well, you know what he said. It was the principle of the thing, he said. MP does the only respectable thing and tokes the dealer the $4.

Now forward to my showdown with Mr. IGPOM. I’m in the BB with 9h 4h. Five limpers and we see a pot of 8 10 J with two hearts. I check and there is a bet. Mr. IGPOM raises. I smooth call and 4 of us see the turn.


Sweet. Now I have the flush and the open ended straight-flush draw. I check again (you dog, you). Mr. IGPOM bets, I raise and everyone else folds. He calls. The river is a blank.

Okay. No more Dr. Nice Guy. I bet and stare him down. He pauses and raises. Now, I know he’s got the straight, probably to the king, and absolutely does not put me on the flush.

Now, remember earlier when I said I’m not usually a jerk. Well, it’s time to jerk it up!!

Dr. Chako: Raise? Well, I’ve got the straight, too (which is technically true). I re-raise!

Mr. IGPOM: Cap it!!

I couldn’t call fast enough. I flip over the 9 saying, “there’s my straight.” I wait for his smile when I flip the 4 and say, “and there’s my flush.”

Ooomph. Right in the old gut.

If he wasn’t such a jerk, that would have been much less painful. Part of me wants to feel bad about this.

I’ll get over it.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


11 FEB 06

I got called at 3:53 am this morning from the hospital. In my stupor, I got the patient information and went downstairs to look at the CT scan. The case was a 20 year old male with cerebral palsy and belly pain. Did he have appendicitis?

Here is the thing. We have two residents in the hospital over night for call. One resident is junior (usually only 1 or 2 years of experience as a radiology resident) and one senior (with 3 or 4 years of experience). It’s rare that a staff radiologist gets called at home to look at a scan after both the junior and senior resident have looked at it. We are always available, but most of the time, the diagnosis is fairly obvious. When the staff comes in in the morning, we either agree or disagree with the resident preliminary interpretation, and add additional information to complete the case. It’s not a perfect system, but there is no better way to learn radiology then to be the main interpreter on call – knowing that your staff may not look at the exam for up to 12 hours.

Well, I looked at the scan and it was normal. What did the resident say? He also said it was normal. Good for him.

But wait… why am I looking at this scan? Now that I’m completely awake, I realize – hey, I’m not on call. WTF?

Turns out no one told the junior resident how to read the call schedule. It was a totally different staff doctor on call – at least until 7 am, when my shift started.

Now comes the tossing and turning trying to get back to bed. You know, it’s nearly impossible to fall asleep when:

1. You are still thinking about a case
2. You want to slaughter a resident
3. You can’t stop thinking about rabbits

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Actual Poker Content!!

9 FEB 06

As I look at my last several entries, I realize that there has been a lack (okay, absence) of poker-related content. I aim to fix that now. I’m no theorist, and I have very little wisdom to share regarding how to play specific hands. I am; however, an expert on tilt. Saying that I go on tilt is really not saying much. Lately, I’ve been trying to pay specific attention to how it manifests.

To say I play too many hands is an understatement. I try to “make it back.” I stop reading other players. I forget who the calling stations are and who will fold. I get pissed. I slam my hand on the table. I seethe.

I heard a brief interview with Scotty Nguyen about tilt. He smiled his typical smile and said, “Baby (he always says “baby”), when you’re on tilt, that 9,10 looks like gold.” This simple statement totally sums up how I play when I’m on tilt. Now, I know that 9,10 has its place in a multi-way pot, especially in position. My problem is playing it too often, and not getting away from it when there is a reasonable chance I’m beat. Implied pot odds are a bitch if you aren’t bankrolled to handle the variance when you don’t hit your draw 5 hands in a row. I probably need to back off after missing a draw and avoid drawing hands until I build a bankroll that can handle a miss or two. I’m a much better player when I am playing with someone else’s money than when I’m stuck $300.

I needed this advice for my most recent endeavor back onto Pokerstars. Online bankroll gone. Again. ‘Nuf Said. I won consistently at turbo SNG’s and did fairly well at the .25/.50 NL. Why did I feel it necessary to multi-table 1/2 LHE?

Poker players are an interesting bunch. I’ve become a regular at the 10/20 game at the Muckleshoot. All the dealers know me, and so do most of the regulars. I used to have a tight table image, but lately I’ve done quite a bit to erode that image, and people are starting to notice. Todd, one of the regulars, actually said something about it to me last night. Most of the players at the table knew each other, but there was one unknown and aggressive young Asian player in seat one. He had just dragged two big pots with 9,3 off-suit and 10, 2 off-suit. I’m in seat 3, and I called his raise. The flop is A 3 5 with two diamonds. He bets, and I call. The turn is a 9 of clubs. He checks and I check. The river is a blank. He bets and I call with my A 6. He mucks without showing. At this point, Todd is very surprised and says, "you called the raise with what?” A 6, I reply. His eyebrows remain up for several seconds, and I hear an audible “hmmf.” Almost like, “wow.” I replied that it was a total tilt call, and he just nodded his head.

Here is the thing: It was a tilt call. That being said, I thought I had a decent chance of winning if I could isolate the Asian kid even with ace-high. When I flopped the ace, and especially when he checked the turn, I knew he would have to suck out on me to win. The point is, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to make this play at the time and I would have been destroyed if he beat me yet again. Todd’s surprise may not have been intended to be anything other than surprise, but here’s what I got from it – Todd was tell me to be careful. I’ll get hurt more often calling a raise with A 6 off then just folding it - despite my “read.” Mike Caro suggests never trying to teach a bad player how to play better – they’ll only use it to hurt you (are you listening Michelle?), and Todd may not have been trying to teach me anything, but owe him my thanks all the same.

BTW – I booked a winning session.

In keeping with the “family” theme of the poker rounders, I’m not sure what to do about Pissing Off Diana. Diana is a regular and a fairly good tourney player, but she’s far too tight at LHE, and I’ve never seen her book a winning session, although I’m sure she does. I’ve blogged about her before – she was at the table when I had that really fun night, and she was there when I had my three flopped full houses cracked by quads (all by the same guy and all within 45 minutes, not that I’m still bitter). Well, last night I look down at AJ. I raise and she re-raises from the button. At this point, there are only 4 hands she could be holding, so I know I’m probably beat. The flop is all low cards. I check, she bets and I call. The turn is another low card. I pause here for quite a bit before betting with my ace high. My thought is that she may lay down AK, but I want to see where I’m at. She just calls (?). The river is an Ace. I say, “uh oh, I think I got you,” and I check.

My check here is for two reasons. Number one is I think I may be beat. Two of the possible 4 hands she’s holding have an ace with a better kicker. Number two is the old honor-among-thieves play. I kind of feel bad for sucking out on her, even though I usually have no problem taking her (or anyone else’s) extra bet.

She checks behind and turns over her pocket kings, and I drag the pot. Well, now she’s steaming.

Diana: Nice showboating there.

Dr. Chako: Huh? I wasn’t showboating – honest! I could have bet the river and taken more from you. In fact, I bet the turn. If you would have raised, I would have folded (true, BTW). You just called, and you let me get there.

Diana: You did not! You checked, I bet and you called the turn.

Before I could argue, the rest of the table jumped to my defense and said that I did, in fact, bet the turn. I doubt they believe I would have folded to a raise, but who cares? I’d rather they believe I WOULD have called. I tried apologizing two more times, and even a third time as I was leaving. She finally managed a weak smile and nod at me which said, in effect, “consider it forgiven but not forgotten.”

Hopefully I’ll get a chance to post some of my thoughts about leading with a drawing hand. I do it almost all the time when I’m on tilt, and this probably falls into the FPS (fancy play syndrome) category, but it’s been profitable for me, I think. I also want to send out a thanks to threebet33 for his excellent posts from his high limit experience. I asked him a question and he responded thoughtfully and gave me a lot to think about, too. I commented twice to this post, and there was another commenter. The last comment was deleted by the author. Now, normally I’m not paranoid, but I think the comment was deleted because it was derogatory about me (probably pointing out my ignorance), and because the author doesn’t want me knowing what a moron I am, in case I find myself at his table in Vegas.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

This I Believe

8 FEB 06

NPR does a segment called “This I Believe.” Sometimes it’s corny, but they have a lot of essayists to choose from, and they usually pick a good one. The one from Monday was excellent. Here is a link to the article. My suggestion – don’t read it. Click on the Listen button. Don't worry, it's only 5 minutes long. It’s especially important to listen to the very end.

Here is a description of the contributor:

Mel Rusnov is a civil engineer in Woodbury, Conn. Her love of music came from her father who played in a Croatian folk group and took her to concerts in their hometown of Cleveland. Rusnov also enjoys tutoring high school students in math.

An exerpt:

“I believe we are more than the inhabitants of our cubicles... I believe we are transformed and connected by the power and beauty of our creativity.”

My thoughts: At the end of the piece, they asked Ms. Rusnov if they could record her playing, and she obliged. I have heard this Mozart Sonata done by numerous masters. It’s one of my favorites. Ms. Rusnov is not an expert. Her timing is off and she clearly displays her amateur status here. Yet, why did I find myself crying? Go listen for yourself. It’s pure beauty.

While you are at it, head on over to Whiskeytown. He’s put up some original music, and it’s quite good. I’m no expert (I’ve only been playing guitar and singing for 34 years), but he’s got a soulful voice and a Seattle-esque quality that is part Neil Young and part Rob Lumbard (don’t worry – you’ve never heard of Rob Lumbard unless you live in Iowa, and that’s a crime).

I’m digging the harmonies. You will, too.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Drawing Dead

7 FEB 06

So, I TOTALLY fucked up date night last night.

For those of you who don’t quite appreciate the egregiousness of this offense, let me just say that this is the first time I’ve uttered a curse word on this here blog. Go ahead, search my archives. No cursing. Go ahead, I’ll wait…


I left work with the intention of playing a little Hold ‘em before picking up the kids. No big deal – I’ve done this before. The dear and patient wife is usually not home until 6:30 or 7, so I have a little free time in the afternoons. Call it my reward for getting up every day at 4:30 in the ayem.

Well, what totally slipped my mind is that we had a babysitter all arranged to pick up the kiddos at daycare. My ONLY job here was to plan the date night festivities.

So, as I’m sitting at the 6/12 game at the Muckleshoot (bad beat jackpot is now over $200K), my pager goes off. It causes me to check my cell phone, and I realize that I have no reception. The page is my wife asking me to call her back. Of course, this means getting up from a very lucrative table, but I oblige. I have to walk all the way to the parking lot to get reception, a journey I would come to repeat 5 times over the next 45 minutes. No response at work or on the cell, and I leave two message before heading back to the tables.

I finally get through after multiple pages, text messages and calls – did you plan date night?

Shit. Totally slipped my mind.

I could lie at this point. I’ve got several really good stories that are an easy sell…

“Baby, I’d have called sooner, but we had another shooting, and they requested me by name to look at the CT scan.”


“Sorry hon, one of the surgeons asked for a second opinion on his wife’s mammogram. You understand, right?”

But, it’s awfully hard to sell when the floor announcer comes over the PA system and says “Dr. Chako, you want 10/20?” right when the dear and patient wife answers her cell - the ONE time reception actually gets through!!

Of course, I’d never lie to my wife (unless it was at the poker table).

And so, I offer this as my apology. I’m sorry. I was a shit. I won’t let it happen again.

The night ended well. We saw Mrs. Henderson Presents, and actually got a few good laughs. It was at the Grand Cinema, and artsy theater in Tacoma. They serve REAL BUTTER on their popcorn. It’s funnier because they actually serve it from a container marked, “For that Butter-y goodness.”

The night was summed up by one of the players at my 6/12 table. He lost a big pot when the river completed his straight, but also completed the other guy’s flush.

He said, “Damn. I was drawing dead, and got there.”

Monday, February 06, 2006

Guest Post!!

6 FEB 06

Today you are in for a treat. I present to you my first guest blogger, Dr. Bill. He’s shopping out this article he wrote about our excursion to the Old Course at St. Andrews, and it’s good stuff.


St. Andrews on the Fly

At first it sounded like a great idea – a weekend with the fellas playing the oldest and most famous golf course in the world, trying haggis and 25-year old Scotch whisky, and seeing the spectacle of grown men in skirts. But aboard the flight to Scotland on a brisk and rainy early May day, I had second thoughts. What was I doing playing at this level? My pals minus one were accomplished, low-handicapped players. They had all the latest in cavity-backed, graphite, and titanium technology and the requisite high-end accoutrements that accompany the seasoned golfer. I who was raised on sun-parched community courses and played with hand-me-down ladies clubs until I was 14, toted low-end Dunlops and an ancient putter. Moreover, I hadn’t swung a club for over a year.

We arrived in Glasgow and rented a car to take us another 2 more hours to St Andrews where we were to then learn of our tee time – presently unknown based on the lottery system of bids, but presumably sometime the next day. The landscape was beautiful and raw. Brilliant yellow blossoms covered gorse thickets and dappled the slate gray horizon and brown earth with brilliant contrast. I had the leisure of enjoying the passing countyside while Tom, the other unpolished golfer nervously piloted the British-spec car from the passenger seat and along the wrong side of the road, narrowly missing curbs and parking meters. His perspective was off. I would soon discover that mine was too.

Arriving just before 2 PM, we were greeted urgently by the hotel owner who had submitted our foursome bid.

“You have ten minutes to make your tee time!”

After a 3-hour flight, 2-hour drive, and stiff with travel, there was no leisurely easing into our lodgings and grabbing a bite to eat. Instead we found ourselves racing to the clubhouse and scrambling to meet the Starter who stood in a crowd of waiting foursomes frowning and threatening a forfeiture of our tee-time. At the moment, I felt a flutter of relief. Generally good-natured and not minding being the source of a comic scene, somehow now appearing as an American hillbilly with laughable equipment, I didn’t want to be the seared memory of countless Scotsmen as “The Yankee clown who worm-burned his drive 30 yards off the tee box”. Our country already had enough negative press with the recent invasion of Iraq, and I didn’t want to feed the head-shaking judgment. But my relief was short-lived.

“We’re up!” said Chuck.

Rob was already on the tee. One after another, they all hit perfect drives. Then I, with a yellowing ball in hand mounted the tee, removed the moth-eaten head cover from my 3-wood, took one practice swing, and then stood tentatively over the ball. The drizzle was nearly horizontal and the raincoat flapped furiously against my sides. If I was a praying man, this was the time to summon the mercy of the Almighty. I had absolutely no feel for my swing. My arms felt like vestigial appendages lacking any functionality. I mechanically raised the club back with shaking confidence and concentration and then lunged.

Whack! The first fear gone in an instant. I had hit the ball solidly. There was no arm-jolting thud of turf and embarrassment or swoosh of pure air and a miss. I looked up to see the white pill rocketing straight down the middle of the fairway, somehow miraculously resisting my faithful hard slice.

“Nice shot,” said Rob as we picked up and moved toward our drives. I did have a guardian angel.

But the angel granted only so much. By the next shot, my old game was back. I duffed a couple fairway irons, sculled my approach across the fast moving green, and 3-putted after getting on in 5. It didn’t matter. We were playing St. Andrews, The Old Course.

Not intent on playing well, I was then able to enjoy walking the course. For those who don’t know St. Andrews, there are some characteristics that deserve mention. St. Andrews defined the game of golf. The naturally short grass became fairways and putting green, and the sheep created bunkers by burrowing into a rise to seek shelter from the elements. On television, one does not truly appreciate the bizarre undulating landscape that recalls the pock-marked Verdun battlefield or moguls of black-diamond ski trails. Blind shots from the fairway or story-high traps are frequent and meddlesome. To play St. Andrews without a caddy is like driving at night without headlights. Unlike where I caddied as a kid, these caddies were knowledgeable and essential. Our caddy was a colorful veteran who spoke plainly and with humor. He directed my better companions like a maestro, but knew better than to waste time with me. I got to know him better only after the round as we sat in the warm pub with pints of ale. But I wasn’t the only one who played badly. After a promising start, Tom contracted a bad case of the shanks which sent his balls frequently into impenetrable gorse – a brambly thicket impossible to traverse. At one time, a spectacular approach shank unleashed from him a torrent of colloquial references to intercourse and a 30-yard helicoptering of his pitching wedge. An unglued moment of frustration. But memorable. The iffy weather in Scotland is well-known, and in our case was true to form. All afternoon, the stiff off-shore wind sprayed icy drizzle on numb hands, and it fogged and speckled my eyeglasses. We could all blame our game on the weather. That was fine with me. As I recall the outing, I had only one other timely episode of Providential deliverance. On the Old Course at least, there are some putting greens that are shared with another hole. On one occasion we were tending our pin with another foursome tending a different one. What’s the etiquette in that case? They courteously stood by as I had honors, being naturally farthest from either pin. I belted my 100-ft putt over hill and dale, and by God, it looked like it was going to drop! Oohh, just lipped the cup. Much applause and ill-informed admiration from the other unsuspecting golfers. They didn’t know I was putting for a quadruple bogey.

By the famous 18th, even my feet were soaked and numb. I couldn’t feel my hands, and my glasses were so irretrievably fogged, I might as well have been playing without them. My last drive was such a spectacular slice that it threatened to loop around us like a boomerang. But it wasn’t just heading toward the busy street, it was heading for the upper floors of the buildings aligning it! I braced to listen for the tell-tale shatter of glass or cry of human impact, but I heard nothing. After we all hit, I walked sheepishly down my line of flight fully expecting to see carnage or an outraged, finger-wagging civilian approaching, but again, I had a pleasant surprise. My ball was propped innocently on short grass with a clear shot to the green. Evidently, I had played a bank shot.

In the end, my weekend at St. Andrews was as rich and memorable as I could’ve wanted. Over the next 48 hours, we laughed, we drank, we ate well, and we experienced a taste to relish of small town Scotland. My pals will remember their games which were more than respectable given the adverse conditions. But I think my most enduring memory will be that of my substandard equipment, my preposterously unpracticed game, and the worst tally I have accrued since I was 12 (I shot a 115). I was a Hack on the most famous golf course in the world, and I got away with it.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Nothing to See Here

2 FEB 06

Excuse me while I clean up this mess. I have to get soda out of my keyboard. You see, I just read this post, and the stuff just flew out my nose. If you go there, read my comment while you’re at it.

Thank you Lady Poker Player.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


1 FEB 06

This is not poker related, but I have to get it off my chest. I just had this conversation with my chief:

Chief: Dr. Chako, did you know that one of your soldiers is having an affair?

Me: No! It’s a good thing I’m relieving her for other reasons, eh?

Chief: Well, you’ll still probably get a letter of reprimand for allowing it to happen.

Me: Wha???

In other news, I’ve started to swing back to the “I’m getting out of the Army as soon as I can” philosophy. I wonder why?