Get It Quietly

Football, bollocks and a bit of poker if you're lucky.

Location: Enfield, London, United Kingdom

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Close Only Counts In Horseshoes

I don't mean my bets, those were rubbish. Caveat emptor :-) Still, not much worse than when I used to study the form all week. I don't suppose I'm cut out for the sports betting. Which is probably for the best.

No, by close I mean close to winning a seat in the "World Speed Poker Open". Finished 3rd in a massive value overlay satellite to said event. I have a general sense of unease as to how I played 3-handed, but maybe it was just one of those things, the opponent on my left was very aggressive and while I wasn't picking up good hands (and I don't mean massive, just AT/KQ/77 good) I had an invidious choice between folding and raising only to be met by frequent (but not over-frequent) reraises. Fair play to him, he was going for the win quite correctly. I still pocketed $140 for a couple of hours' work.

This follows on a 5th place finish in a freeroll on Blue Square last month for the £1500 in Luton. So getting closer ! This feels like the way forward. Just play when I feel like it, seeking out the added money, and trying to freeroll into big tournaments as and when the chance arises. I've built my bankroll back to almost its peak of 3 years ago, which has been bugging me for a while, and having done that I'm happy enough to gear down the poker for a bit and try the outside world for a change. Online poker is ok when I happen to be in, but I should try to be out more.

And poker probably does mean MTTs. They're what I'm best at. Not surprisingly given how many, many hours I have spent thinking about them. Not necessarily playing, but thinking. It's surprising in some ways how simple the strategy I have developed appears, but that's often the way. It looks simple because you've already done the work off-line. It's a change sometimes to try a new game, but Sit and Goes frustrate the hell out of me, limit cash bores me to death and as for the likes of Pot-Limit PLO8, most of Dave D's blog makes my head spin like I was Mrs Flittersnoop or Colonel ... Colonel ... [2 minutes later] Colonel Dedshott ! You know, it's no fun now you can just look this stuff up, in some ways. Like Krusty I am a lazy, lazy man and the prospect of applying the same amount of thought to another game as I already have to MTTs is daunting to say the least.

So, out and about. And "out" doesn't mean playing live poker which I have less and less inclination to do every day. I popped into Gutshot yesterday on the way through to cash in my writing moolah. 18-20 odd people were hunched around two tiny tables in the cellar, staring at each other and twiddling their chips for a grand first prize of £130. It was grim I can tell you.

So while I'm still looking forward to playing in the Caribbean thing, oh alright Poker Classic, I think I'll give Tunica a miss this year, you know what I'm saying ?

Today's Pinsticking Pop Picks

£10 on each of these sure things :

Back Barnet (H v Grimsby) @ 1.92
Back Gillingham (H v Forest) @ 2.32
Back Wigan (H v Sunderland) @ 2.26
Lay Palace (H v Stoke) @ 1.68
Lay Southampton (H v Crewe) @ 1.6

Hoots of derision accepted until 2.59pm only.

Some Champions League picks : I have laid Inter @ 1.5 and the Manchester Red Sox SkyHawks @ 1.64 to win their groups. Still trying to lay Arsenal @ 1.54, anyone interested ?

Oh, and spotted in the QPR directors' box last night, John Gregory. Doom !

Mush Of The Same Story

This one's for the official QPR website which made the following observation on last night's game :

"But generally, Rangers were unable to stamp their authority on the game and were looking for a crisper performance in the second period. Sadly it didn't come and it was mush of the same story".

Wasn't it just, as I'm sure you'll agree if you saw it on TV. I was actually there in a fit of keenness. But with Cook out and Furlong on a bad trot, Rangers lack firepower at the moment. Well, best not to over-react to one game. Wednesday looked moderate but kept their shape well and while it's very easy to criticise teams who adopt negative formations away from home, perhaps if we had been able to play with as much discipline on our travels we wouldn't have been gubbed 3-0 twice in a row.

Off the pitch, Gianni Paladini has not surprisingly taken exception to having a gun waved in his face by another director, and has engineered a boardroom coup. Perhaps worrying, but what can I do about it. Well, what can I do about anything, but that doesn't usually stop me :-). Time will tell.

Anyway I shall have a skim through Betfair and pick out some value to give us an interest this afternoon.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Dreams Can Come True

Last night I had this dream where I was completely and utterly convinced, as you are in that semi-lucid dream state, that I had written the lyrics to Bjork's "Vespertine". I had written them and sent them off in a letter and Bjork had said "cheers, I'll use them on my new album". And that was it. What could it mean ?

Perhaps it's something to do with what Rob Newman used to do at the start of some of his sketches, he'd be on the phone and he'd say "That's right Morrissey ... November spawned a monster in the shape of this child. Let me know how you get on with it".

Well I laughed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

It's Only A Game (2) - Poker

Right. Poker. I had a few things kicking around I wanted to talk about, but I just had to expand on this, from Gutshot today :

"But, for example, if you were a student and you won a $50 supersatellite and rolled it into a seat at the main event, and you massively exceeded your expectations and were still around on the bubble .... then it's not difficult to see the student attaching much greater utility to cashing $10.5k than risking it to make more, since that amount could be a huge boon to a poor student... Not everyone has the same utility function when it comes to risk."

Now, ok, I do see what you're saying. If I was somehow, in a kind of poker "Freaky Friday", teleported into this "poor student"'s shoes just at the point where he approaches the bubble, then yes I might have to do that. But it's not the tactics that are the problem here. It's the strategy.

This strategy is directly and fully analagous to a "poor student" spending his $50 on thirty lottery tickets, and only filling five numbers in on each one. You have the stratospheric variance, the poor EV even with your best shot, and this EV is cut down still further because you can't win the big prize. It's just about the worst thing anyone could do with their money in poker terms, let alone a "poor student".

And yet so many people do it. It really beggars belief. Poker is a deceptive mistress (oooh) and it can fool people into doing crazy things. Insane, you-might-as-well-burn-the-money madness.

A great deal of it is down to the simple fact that people underestimate the amount of luck involved, especially in tournaments, and especially in the bigger tournaments. It doesn't help when people like David L, who ought to know better and was rightly taken to task, say things like
"he [Neil Channing] won the thing [a £100 tournament at Gutshot] by out-thinking the opposition at the final table before a card had been dealt. " If you have a plan and it's a good one then great, that means you're 60-40 compared to someone who doesn't. Not 100-0. Not 90-10. Nothing like.

I was thinking the other day, what is the worst thing that can happen to you if you try poker when you don't have the discipline and ability, in a nutshell you're too thick, to be any good at it ? The answer is of course, the worst thing that can happen is you start off winning. Say 100 people were let loose in Gutshot a year ago, none of them with much of a clue, but keen enough and ready to have a go. And that's not too far off how it was. 10 or 12 of them will have had good results, made a decent profit, and will think they have it made. 2 or 3 of them will have done that and won a decent chunk in some kind of festival event. They will, and do, think they know it all and can't possibly lose !

We know better. It's the only explanation I can think of for these incredible "I can outplay them later" posts. People just don't know how much they don't know. They see the results they have had and automatically assume that this means they're playing brilliantly and everything they do must be right. And it's hard to blame them in some ways. I'm probably fortunate (in a way) that it took me a year to break even.

But you can't tell how good anyone is until they have that run where you can't win a hand, you can't win an argument. You question your sanity and the sanity of the entire world. How can this be happening ? It's a necessary step along the road. You either realise that "hmm, maybe I was just lucky before, there might be a bit more to this" or you self-destruct in a blast of disbelief and paranoia. When I was a regular at Luton, I saw more than one young player chirping with the chips and thought to myself, in six months time, he'll look like death warmed up and will be saying "I don't understand what's happening" to anyone who will listen, more likely himself because no one will. And I was rarely wrong. Some came through it, some didn't.

Thus and so, as it is and was and always will be.

It's Only A Game (1) - Football

I need a break from poker, at least from playing. I played so badly online last night ... anyway I thought an uber-post or two would be a better use of my time tonight.

First up, football. Carling Cup carnage last night as Rangers were only one of the Championship sides embarrassed by lower-league opposition. By my reckoning Hull, Ipswich, Crewe, Stoke, Preston and Brighton can also "concentrate on the league" till January. More embarrassingly than us probably, Ipswich lost 2-0 at home to Yeovil and Crewe got dumped 5-1 at Lincoln. On top of that, Brentford (top of League 1) lost 5-0, Forest lost 3-2 at home to Macclesfield and Bristol City were humbled 4-2 at home by Barnet ! But Barnet rule so I'll let them off.

No complaints here about Northampton's win, they had the sign over us in the dark Division 2 days, in fact our league nadir was probably Loftus Road echoing to "you'll never beat the Cobblers" towards the end of a 1-0 reverse. And no I haven't forgotten Vauxhall Motors, that was in the Cup :-). We have plenty of previous for embarrassing ourselves in this competition recently too. I should have had a bet on it really.

We had pretty much our best side available on display, not quite but close enough for no excuses. I wouldn't be surprised if many of the others didn't. This competition has gone, basically. Clubs in European competition don't come in till the third round. Even if you do make it that far and draw United, Chelsea or Arsenal they'll put out their youth team, and beat you anyway just to rub it in. And who could get excited about drawing Blackburn, Birmingham, Fulham and the rest. The FA Cup's going the same way, mark my words. Anyway you could do worse than to oppose Cardiff and Coventry tonight if you fancy a nibble.

And of course the Premiership has lumbered into action, and while I should just ignore it, I might as well have a rant. There's a comment in here about a year ago from the Camel comparing the Premiership to the poker festival circuit. In fact there's no need to tease you, it's here. A year on, it's more true than ever. Skimming a paper today I read that Chelsea's shirt sponsorship deal is worth £9 million a year. Wigan and West Ham, by comparison, pull in £300,000. Incidentally I'm surprised West Ham can't do better than that - maybe they signed the deal while in the league below. And that's just an example. Sure, the free market, get what you can, but it doesn't make for a competitive league. The most capitialist-oriented culture in the world seems perfectly happy to have salary caps and draft systems to keep its sport competitive. Unfortunately it's never going to happen here, the lawyers would soon put a stop to any such plans. It's only because of the peculiar nature of football (and how difficult it is to score a goal) that Wigan can give Chelsea a game at all. And over a whole season, they can't. Well if you've read the post from a year ago, there's no need to repeat most of that.

As for Chelsea, they've been taking a ribbing for advertising tickets in the press for tonight's game against West Brom. What the adverts fail to mention is that the cheapest ticket available costs, wait for it, £48. Maybe they figure that after queueing on the phone for 20 minutes, people will think "fuck it" and cough it up anyway. 48 quid though ! I remember when I could watch Rangers in the top division for a tenth of that. It was only 1989. How can the media act all surprised when people aren't prepared to pay it twice in a week ? Alan Green can chunter on about how woeful everything is, including empty seats and lack of atmosphere from supporters, but he hasn't paid £50 for the pleasure ! The cunt.

Now I'm TV-less I'm getting my football fix from Talk Sport, which isn't too bad. Alvin Martin knows the score, he made the point about how it's not easy for people to cough this money up twice in 4 days, but so many people in football and the media have no conception of how fans think at all. Here is a reported exchange between Alex Ferguson and a Manchester United fan, I stress reported, but it bears the ring of truth in my ears :

The two fans first abused chief executive David Gill and then turned on Fergie, saying: "You've f***** us over too, you could've spoken out about it."

Sir Alex replied: "I've got close friends who've been working with me here for 15 years. They come first in all of this."

Fan: "So don't the fans come first?"

Fergie: "Well I suppose they do come somewhere."

Fan: "You what? That's well out of order."

Sir Alex: "If you don't like it, go and watch Chelsea."

Fan: "The fans have been screwed right over. It costs me over £20 a game as it is."

Sir Alex: "It costs more than that at Chelsea - go and watch them."

"Go and watch Chelsea" indeed. When players do really care about their club, it makes a massive difference. Marc Bircham is forgiven many technical deficiencies because he used to stand on the terraces at Rangers. He even used to watch Rangers live when he was a player at Millwall. And we love him for it, because at least in some ways he's one of us. Compare that with Didier Drogba whose first thought after shinning a goal against Arsenal (much like I do in the park quite frankly) was to go and posture to a fan who gave him some GBH to the earhole earlier in the game. I don't like to have a go at players, but when you've paid £50 and your £24 million forward can't kick the ball in a straight line, I don't blame people who do. Even Chelsea fans ! Am I sure :-)

Oh well. It is only a game. Seasons come and go. Enjoy the wins, take the losses like a man, and accept the game for what it is, I suppose. Yesterday has gone my friends. Onwards and sideways.

9-40pm "you could do worse than to oppose Cardiff and Coventry tonight if you fancy a nibble." Obviously I meant "and Derby".

Monday, August 22, 2005

Shouting The Odds

That Lionel Hutz is a good judge of a player and no mistake (where it says World Poker Tour, click that and then click 'Gutshot Festival Main Event'). Nice to see some respect for once ! Unfortunately I have no intention whatsoever of playing a £300 comp for 4 days at Gutshot. Not that it will last 4 days - after a day and a half of 10 minute stare-downs and chip-twiddling, even the keenest ESPN fan will get bored and start launching it all in. I can't see the likes of the Clock and the Guvnor giving up 4 days for it either can you ?

I thought they meant the £500 at the end of the month which I have more than half a mind to play. Almost a whole mind in fact. Added money, Gutshot satellite qualifiers, added money, EPT at the Vic on the same weekend, did I mention the added money ?

While on the subject of wily wagers, how good would this have looked :

"If I did, then a 4-way win only accumulator of Tottenham, QPR, Brentford and Barnet would surely be the way forward."

if Rangers had won on Saturday ? Early days or not, that would have been funny. Damn you Rangers, let me down again.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Heavyweights And Lightweights

Not long back from an afternoon of football, and Rangers are now sitting pretty with 7 points after a 2-1 win over Sheffield United. It wasn't a great game to be honest, very physical as you would expect, but maybe this impression is partly because after two years upstairs with the toffs, I was virtually at pitch level. Any football regular will tell you it looks a completely different game from there, you can really see the pace and physical nature of the game.

As I said we didn't really string many moves together but it was funny, there was a screeching woman behind me and every time we entered the last third she would squeak "just shoot ! Have a pot shot !". Just as she started to really annoy me Marc Bircham did precisely that, 1-0. Rangers then dropped too deep and ceded too much possession, plus ca change there, but with Danny Shittu immense managed to keep the evil Northerners at bay and Stefan Moore broke away to score a second, which it looks like we needed because they got one back in the last minute, but we didn't really.

If Big Dan (the heavyweight of the title) keeps improving at the rate he is we'll have a hell of a job keeping hold of him. There are plenty worse centre-backs in the Premiership already. The lightweight of the title is, of course, me. I caught up with the Camel in the Springbok beforehand, and seeing as he copped 5 large in the shootout last night he treated me to two (yes two) pints of lager shandy (that's shandy). As the game wound on I developed a splitting headache (then again that could be down to the Loftus Road roar) and I gradually felt worse and worse on the way home until the coup de gras, just a mile from home on the bus, I am deeply ashamed on all levels to report that I was physically and rather copiously sick before I could reach the next stop and jump off. What a chav I am.

Must have had a bad pint ! It was totally inexplicable. My penance was to walk home the rest, and more so, when I reached the next stop I had to slink past all the people who had been kicked off the bus so it could return to base to be hosed down.

So next time I ask for a J2O at the bar, don't be embarrassed. Believe me, I'm saving us all from a lot more embarrassment later.

13/8 Update Just 20 minutes later I feel a lot better. A cup of tea and an aspirin can go a long way, and better out than in after all. And my afternoon at Loftus Road wasn't as stressful as some !

A Braver Man Than I

Maybe as the most hated man in Internet Poker, Lord Miros didn't have much to lose, but kudos to him for sticking his neck over the parapet in the Tiffany Williamson Got Lucky Thread.

He is, of course, spot on. But no one will thank him for it. I predict around 8-10 responses of "you're just jealous", approximately zero of which will attempt to refute his technical points. You can't tell people what they don't want to hear.

I give Tiffany a lot of credit for realising that her best chance was to be aggressive, to play pots in a style where both players risked elimination, and to gamble. And for having the courage to play this style all the way through.

This gave her a much better chance than the people on Gutshot who twitter on about gears and outplaying them later. In fact, these were probably exactly the type of people Tiffany built her stack off in the early stages.

Nonetheless, it's not an overall winning strategy. Every year now, there'll be 3 or 4 people who get deep in the WSOP big one off a massive parlay from $10 or 40 FPPs or something. It sounds amazing when you know someone who does it, but in truth, due to the enormous number of people trying and the huge inherent luck factor in tournament poker, it's bound to happen to someone.

I had already heard how Dr. Channing took Tiffany to school last week in the £300 at the Vic ; to her credit she acknowledges it in her trip report, and this makes me think that she does have a chance to learn. Time, as ever, will tell.

Dude Looks Like A Lady

This in-depth report popped up in a few places yesterday. It doesn't surprise me. Way back in the mists of time, I was "Cassandra" on IRC poker. This wasn't out of any subconscious desire, I don't think ... but if it was subconscious how can I be sure ? Cassandra was not, in this context, Rodney's bird out of Only Fools And Horses, she was the figure in Greek mythology who was cursed with the gift of accurate prophecy, but doubly cursed in that no one would ever believe her. She would say things like "No don't bring that horse inside the gates, it's full of soldiers" and everyone would go "yeah right". I identified with her situation (and still do).

Anyway one time at band camp, I mean on IRC, some redneck threw a fit because I outdrew him or something and starting making lewd suggestions as to what he would do to me should we ever meet. I let it run for about 5 minutes and then pointed him towards my user information which revealed my true identity. He wasn't very happy. Me, I felt dirty and used. But deep down inside part of me enjoyed it.

Moving on, perhaps I should have been a professor of psychology. Then I could write reports containing insights like

"Griffiths suggested that players who pick the names of Hollywood stars, dead or alive, are trying to look glamorous and successful, while those who choose aggressive names are trying to project confidence".

Thanks for that Professor Science ! How much did they pay you for that !?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

What's In A Name

While perusing Blue Square (plug ! Blue Square rule !) and their report of the £5K event at the Vic, I noticed that one player is operating under the nickname "Final Table". That is so lame. "Hey baby, they call me Final Table you know" - "Oooh ..."

Apart from anything else, it's not as complimentary as you might think. If you show me someone who is called "The Bubble" for the number of times he takes that place, I'll show you someone who has more of a chance of winning in the long term. Because this will almost invariably be someone who WINS much more than his share, as in first place finishes. Consistency is over-rated in tournaments. In fact "consistent money finishes" usually indicate someone who plays every event but never wins the big prize - in other words a loser. Then again, I suppose "Hey baby, they call me 8th place" doesn't have the same ring.

I was, however, a bit loath to post this because of the tedious "you're just jealous" responses it might attract. Think what you like, but spare me. And consider this. I've never felt the need to email a website and say something like "You know that tournament I finished 14th in last month, can you change it to say Andy 'Great At Poker' Ward ? Because that's my nickname".

13/8 Update Talking to Keith today, he says that he rates the player in question quite highly, and I do respect Keith's judgement. He also said he's not the type to give himself a nickname, in the style of one or two others. Still, if it was me (some chance I know) I'd be straight on to the website saying "please take that nickname off, it's embarrassing !"

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Wacky World Of Football

Courtesy of Football 365's Mediawatch. I don't think I need to add anything at all.


Charity Begins At Southampton
Says Harry Redknapp in The Daily Mail:

"I took a mega pay cut when I came here. I am not quite working for charity, though it's pretty close."

And how close is 'pretty close'?

The report goes on to add that Harry earns an estimated £8,000 a week.


Friday, August 05, 2005

Hip Hip Hooray

Because football is back back back !

I'm not going to have any season bets this year, I usually just stress over them out of all proportion to the insignificant money I have wagered. If I did, then a 4-way win only accumulator of Tottenham, QPR, Brentford and Barnet would surely be the way forward.

Seriously I fancy Tottenham to do quite well this season, but I do think you're burning money backing anyone but Chelsea to win it. Arsenal are the only opposition who have any chance at all. The Championship is wide open, I don't fancy the relegated sides around 6-1 although Norwich and Palace will probably be there or thereabouts ; Ipswich hold no appeal ; Sheffield United are a half-decent bet around 14 but I would be prepared to gamble on Reading around 25, not a bad price if Lita comes off. Brentford I like around 14-16 in a very open division. Once again avoid the relegated sides. League Two is anyone's guess. Wycombe seem to be attracting interest, not sure myself.

I will be opposing the likes of Southampton and Forest just on principle if I have any bets of a weekend, and although it's through my rose-coloured spectacles I can't believe QPR vs Luton are 5/6 each on Hills for a season bet. Stan James go 8/15 QPR the same bet which looks more like it.

Anyway I shall take myself to Underhill tomorrow for the Bees' triumphant return to the Football League. Huzzah !

12/8 Update It is worth pointing out that, on perusal of the archives, this time last year I said "I can't see past Arsenal". And I couldn't. They really looked invincible, right up to the point when Manchester United vinced them. Let's hope that I (and every other pundit in the world) shouldn't be quite so sure, and that maybe the Premiership can at least keep us interested this season.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Possessions Are Fleeting

Right. There's going to be a major clearout in here over the next few months. It strikes me as a bit pointless paying for a two bedroom flat, one bedroom of which is full of junk, when I could just get rid of the junk.

As such, the great poker book sale starts now. I have about 40 books to unload, authors Sklansky & Malmuth, Cloutier, Brunson, Ciaffone, Reuben, etc etc all the usual suspects, all £10 or less. Highlights include Super System I & II (£10 each), a wide array of 2+2 books (£5 each) and a signed copy of Susie Isaacs' "Ms. Poker" (just take it).

Email me for a full list (click View My Complete Profile above for email address). Discount for bulk buyers ! And if you might be interested in a TV, video recorder, DVD player, 17" monitor, set of golf clubs, cuddly toy, etc. then enquire within.