Monday, February 13, 2006

Market Corrections, Bozos, and Bolos

"And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done." - Revelation 20:12
I made a few prop bets on the Torino Olympics with a friend of mine from Norway. And you know what? I'm already in the hole. Those damn Norwegians are cleaning up in the medal count. Sure we have more gold medals, but they dominate all those obscure outdoor sports like the Biathlon. What's the deal with that sport? I'm gonna ski a few miles then shoot a gun, then ski some more? You wanna hear about an Olympics prop bet bad beat? Halvard Hanevold from Norway came out of nowhere to take the Bronze medal. It's like he spiked a two-outer on the river to win. Yeah, the Norwegians took second and third in the Biathlon and that cost me big bucks. I learned a valuable lesson. Don't bet against the damned Norwegians in the Biathlon. The Olympics are rigged. Just ask Roy Jones, Jr. and he'll tell you the straight dope about the night he was robbed a gold medal in Seoul. Maybe I can make back some of my losses this week in women's curling and short track speed skating. That's my wheel-house... women's curling. Keep an eye on that Norway-US women's curling match. I got American pride and a hundred Euros riding on them.

I also got clobbered in the over/under on expected snowfall in Central Park. I took the under and thought the blizzard was not going to be as bad as the media hyped it up. Foolish me. NYC experienced the second largest snowfall ever in history and I was keeping my fingers crossed hoping it would hit the under.

Thank God I'm currently in the middle of a winning streak at poker. It's helping cover my Olympics and other prop bet loses. Poker bloggers talking about a winning streak on the blog is just like in baseball when a pitcher discussed his no-hitter in the dugout in between the fifth and six innings. That's frowned upon. It's a taboo like white pants after Labor Day or limping with the Hammer. Heck, I'm not afraid of jinxes. My entire life is a jinx. My karma is so outta whack, that a half-baked post about my recent poker play isn't going to affect the alignment of Jupiter's moons let alone going to prevent anyone from sucking out on me.

And yes, I'm on a five day winning streak. I looked up my stats. I won 10 out of 11 days last Spring and booked winning sessions for seven days straight during that stretch. Yep, one week without posting a losing session. That's my best. Right now, I'm somewhat close. But I'm not going to make a stink about it. The past five winning sessions were small victories. It was like if I went 1 for 4 for five straight baseball games. However, after posting 10 losing weeks out of the last 12, I'll take a small victory.

Last week I stopped the bleeding and started rebuilding my confidence. I'm even on the PLO tables and have a profit at the 3/6 tables at Poker Stars. I've been playing 2 or 3 at once on Poker Stars and employing my Action Bob bot where I just sit and fold, fold, fold. Nothing fancy and if you've been one of my railbirds (or stalkers) then you know how boring it is to watch me play limit online. The small profit at the tables boosted my confidence which was needed since I've been getting slaughtered on Poker Stars. At least I confronted my fears and continued to play on that site. I know a slew of pussies who lose on one site and never return.

I played a VIP freeroll on Poker Stars on Saturday. That's one of the perks of being a Silver Status guy... a weekly $2,500 freeroll. I think they give you free blow and hookers for SuperNova status. I gotta check with my sources with that one. I've cashed three out of four times in those VIP freerolls. Actually Derek and Change100 played for me twice when I couldn't play and they both cashed. I finally cashed this past weekend in one. I had a reader and blogger at my table... Gunga Galunga in my freeroll and we got to chat a bit.

I was card dead for the first hour and doubled up with K-K. I was moved tables and then went on a mini-run. I flopped a set with 6-6 and slowplayed on the flop heads up against a hyper aggressive player. With just second pair he moved all in on the turn and I happily called with my set, which held up and that boosted me up to over 11K in chips. Just before the second break, I pissed away most of my stack on a bad call. I put one player on a low pair and made a call when I should have folded. I had 7-7 to his A-A. He had been re-raising preflop with small pairs the entire time and I thought I picked up on a betting pattern and thought I made an amazing calling picking off a bluff. I was wrong and lost 70% of my stack. If I followed the advice of my Action Bob bot... I should have folded. Alas, I allowed the ego to get in the way and it ruined two hours of near flawless play. I convinced myself for thirty seconds that I could read minds and came back to reality when he showed his pocket aces. I eventually made the money and took 147th out of 1234.

My highlight of this past week was flopping quads with the Hilton Sisters.

I'm back to playing on Party Poker again. On Sunday, I cleared Silver Status again on Poker Stars and for some reason, Party Poker was the only site I wasn't losing on over the past three months. I've been doing hit and runs on the $5/$10 short-handed tables over the past week to some moderate success. I have to remind myself to play a long cash game session (long enough to book a few Party Poker points) at least once a month on Party Poker, otherwise, they revoke all your Player's Club points.

There's a term we used on Wall Street called a "market correction." I dunno if it's a legit term or some bullshit buzz word that we were told to mouth off to our clients to calm them down during a downswing. I think it was created by big fund managers who used the term "market correction" to quell any fearful thoughts in their investors' minds. Whether it was a psychological device to instill calm over worried clients or whether it was an actual scientific fact, market corrections occur all the time in the financial markets.

In my case, I had been winning at a decent streak that lasted over eight months. The 10 most recent weeks of loses represent a market correction. I was never that good to begin with and the law of averages caught up to me. I'm still a winning player over the past year, just my bankroll finally reflects a more accurate tally of my overall poker play. You can even make an argument that this past week has been a market correction as well. I'm not that bad of a player. The losses eased up. Now I can only hope that my poker axis is back on track.

My poker play and bankroll was subject to a market correction. So let's take my entire bankroll to Southern California where I can lose it all or double it up in one session.

On Saturday night, just as the first flurries of the blizzard began falling upon New York City, I headed to the historic Beacon Theatre to see a Phil Lesh and Friends concert. Phil Lesh is the legendary bass player from The Grateful Dead and in my opinion, he was the glue of The Dead and held the band together even when Jerry Garcia was hooked on smack later in their careers. The night was not without a minor run-in with the law. My buddy Bruce, aka The Grateful Dead guru, was busted by NYPD for drinking in public. He had a beer in a brown paper bag and a cop snagged him and issued a citation. We could have gone to jail if they searched us, but lucky for us, they didn't. I got off because I wasn't drinking! I was a model citizen and waited until I got into the Theatre to start boozing it up. The cops were just there to looking to generate income for the city by busting potheads and drunks and Bruce was a casualty. Anyway, Phil Lesh is one of my favorite musicians and you can read a complete review of the concert over at the Tao of Pauly or on my Phish Blog.

There is something relevant with The Grateful Dead that I have to discuss. If you don't know, The Grateful Dead were my favorite band of all time. I spent most of my late teens and early 20s on the road, mostly in the South, following The Dead from city to city. This was all before Jerry Garcia died. I knew I was seeing something at the tail end of it's shelf-life but it was still an unbelievable experience and being on the road at such a young and impressionable age set the tone for the rest of my life and was the springboard for me wanting to be a writer. Seeing the Dead at the end of their career was like walking into a coolest bar in the city at 3:30am when the "last call" is in thirty minutes away. Sure you're there, but you missed all the cool stuff that went down at the peak of the party. That's why I was fortunate to catch bands like Phish, Widespread Panic, and Galactic at their peak.

One of my favorite Dead albums is Europe '72. The Grateful Dead spent two months in Europe and played a series of concerts overseas that were recorded for an epic 2 CD box-set. My friend Mophy had loaned me a copy and I made a taped version. This was 13-14 years ago before the days of CD burners and iPods and I must have listened to that tape so much that it wore out. I remember when I finally had enough money to buy that CD for myself. It was an epic day and I marveled at the better sound quality. 1972 was the year of my birth and to hear the recorded version of a concert from twenty years earlier (shit, now it's over thirty years!) was a mind-numbing experience. That Mr. Charlie featured Pig Pen shortly before his death and I still get goosebumps thinking about their version of Morning Dew.

The liner notes from Europe '72 featured something that have to talk about. Here's what it said:
For example, consider the rise of hypnocracy during April and May 1972. The 43 persons constituting the Grateful Dead's (latest) European tour apportioned themselves for the most part between two buses which came to be known as the Bolo bus and the Bozo bus. The Bolo bus had a john in it and its seats faced forward. The Bozo bus had a refrigerator and some of its seats were installed facing back, to accommodate four tables. And to look back. The subtle difference in character and import and atmosphere between the two omnibuses was so profoundly hidden and enigmatic that you could never possibly understand it. The Bozos wore masks, and the Bolos showed their faces. At one time the Bozos staged a raid on the Bolo provisions; at one time the Bolos staged a raid on the Bozo provisions.

One St. Dilbert defected from the Bozos and lived for a season with the Bolos. In view of his subsequent martyrdom, his penitence and reconciliation with the Bozos, it came to be said that he was a true hypnocratic missionary to Bololand. And to look back, it appears evident that Bozo and Bolo knew themselves each the other's raison d'etre. Is hypnocracy not the aspiration to know what it is?
The part I want to point out is the difference between the Bozos and Bolos. The Bozos had seats facing backwards on their tourbus so they could look back, while the Bolos sat looking forward. That represented two styles of thought. Are you one to look back constantly? Or do you stay in the moment while looking toward the future. I cannot answer those questions for you. That's something you have to figure out how it applies to your poker play.

While I feel it is necessary to examine your play to figure out what you did right and how you played a hand incorrectly, it's crucial that you don't spend too much time dwelling on what happened in the past. You've heard the expression, "He lives in the past."

With anything in life, it's important to understand history and to examine your thought process into making decisions in your life. That's important in how you make future decisions. At some point, your game will be on a level where you are not making any decisions, rather you are simply reacting in a Zen moment based on what is happening. You're not focused on the past or future, because in the basic form of reality neither exist. The past is something that happened and the future is something that is going to happen, but the only reality is the "now" and that's the important question. What do you do in the "now"? Are you caught up in thinking about the past or wrapped up in future events?

I think that most people have problems in life when they fail to understand that they spend too much time worrying about the future or too much time re-living the past. Because when you do that, you overlook the moment. And that moment is you right now.

Obviously what I said was nothing mind-shattering and is just basic Philosophy 101 stuff. But after seeing Phil Lesh play on Saturday night, I began thinking about the importance of music and arts on society and how musicians and artists think an entirely different way. The act of creating is employing the sense of the moment, where their mind of focused on the task at hand and aware of everything going on at that time.

I'm someone who daydreams a lot or gets caught in deep thought. Obviously, I'm as far away from the moment as possible. I'm in my own world and it seems that too many of us retreat to the safety and comfort of their inner worlds rather than be brave and let the real world take over. That's why in many ways the internet is a blessing and a curse. It allows people to hide from their own realities.

That's where the second point I want to make comes up.
"The Bozos wore masks, and the Bolos showed their faces."
There are very few instances in life where we are comfortable to show our real faces. A few years ago, I was working on a screenplay for a short film and I asked a friend of mine if she wanted to act in it.

"I'm not an actress... anymore," she said.

She used to act in college, but she no longer pursued it. I told her she was wrong. She acted all the time. When she talks to her mother, she's acting. When she talks to her boss, she's acting. When she has sex with her boyfriend, she's acting. When she sees one of her co-workers that she can't stand, she politely says hello while putting on an act.

I looked her in the eye and said, "Shit, I don't think I know the real you. Just the image you are trying to portray."

She burst into tears. She wasn't ready for a heavy dose of reality that she was basically a fraud and had no identity aside from the images that she sought to project to the people in her life. Basically what I was trying to say was that we're all actors (wait, didn't Shakespeare say that?) and some of us are better than others. Sometimes, we get to show our real faces and have the courage to walk around without a mask. That's what I love about writing novels. That's the closest glimpse into my soul that you will ever get.

You can put on act for most of your life, but there comes a time when you have to honestly re-evaluate yourself and assess the reality of the situation. Playing internet poker allows us to put on our mask and hide behind your computer screen while shouting obscenities at the dipshit who just chased a gutshot to the river and won. What you need to do is take off your mask at the tables because if you don't, you will get crushed. Based on what I've seen and read, the majority of people I know are not as good as they think they are, which is the worst kind of attitude to have in poker. A few months back, I read one blog about some vicious bad beats that this guy took. And after a close examination, there was at least one or two things wrong per hand that he did wrong, so in reality, he misplayed his hand on several instances. Since he's wearing the "I'm an expert poker player mask" he's unable to honestly look in the mirror and see what he did wrong. And there are plenty of folks out there, pros included, who think they a lot better than they are. Although some have talent, what they mistake for talent is actually luck.

Conversely there are plenty of poker players who don't have the confidence and they wear a "I'm a losing poker player mask" or "I'm afraid to move up in levels mask." If they continue that way of thinking, they'll never improve and be caught in low-limit purgatory for the rest of their poker lives.

You can't be afraid to go broke in poker. If you are, then you shouldn't be playing and you need to pick up a new hobby.

I'll try to tie up all my rambling thoughts now.

After 14 tough weeks of poker, I experienced a market correction with my bankroll. I rode out the storm and it's time to start playing solid poker again and get on track. I have the mindset of a winning poker player again. I also have to honestly look at my poker play and put the ego aside when making big decisions. I have to respect the past and have aspirations for the future, but I can never lose sight of the importance of the moment and the now.

On Deck

I leave for California on Tuesday and I'll be in the LA area for two weeks. I'm going to be covering the LA Poker Classic at Commerce and do some live blogging on the final table and take some pictures along the way and post as many updates as I can. I never covered a poker tournament in California before and I'm excited. There's also the WPT Invitational that I'm going to cover too. That happens after the LA Poker Classic ends. I'm so sick of Las Vegas that it will be nice to cover a tournament in a different city. Plus I hear it's like 80 degrees everyday. So stop back later this week to read about the main event at the LA Poker Classic, my progress at the No Fold'em tables, and how I got the Poker Geek on uber-tilt during Murder's Row. I'm also looking to try out some different things and cover this event in a different way... one that I'm sure will get copied and imitated along the way.

I have a lot of friends in LA and I'm going to try to squeeze in as many lunches as possible. I'm also eager to play some NL at Commerce. I'm skipping out of work early on Friday to play in a Murder's Row homegame. Plus Change100 is unemployed now which means I'll have someone to go drinking with at odd hours.

With the prospects of playing live poker, I'm hoping that the tables in LA treat me well. I don't expect to play much online over the next two weeks aside from the charity tournament on Full Tilt on Feb. 26th called Suckout on Luekemia.

Recent Poker Playing Music...
1. Jerry Garcia with Merle Saunders
2. John Coltrane
3. Matisyahu
4. Medeski, Martin & Wood with Trey Anasastio
5. Django Reinhardt

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