Thursday, August 30, 2007

Running Cold (again)

It's been a brutal few days of cards. The GSOP never got off the ground, Kings busted then Queens and I am out the door. The cash game on Tuesday was simply horrible with the fish hitting their 6% shots to win monster pots and nothing, just nothing going right. And then tonight more of the same.

The tournament was pretty horrible. I got crippled when my Queens got outdrawn by KQ. Then short stacked I get AQs on the button and run into AK in the big blind. He has slightly less than me so I am still alive but only just. I end up having to be all in blind in the big blind rather than UTG after the blind gets moved to another table. That turns out OK as the button puts me in with AJ and I turn my blind hand over to reveal AQ. A double up and I can pass some more. However I then get AK on the button and go over the top of a mid position raiser who holds Tens. They hold and I am out.

The cash game is slow and hot and I am about break even with £80 in front of me when I get Q9 of diamonds in the small blind. I call the 3 more to see the flop along with 5 others and get a fantastic 9s Td Kd on the flop. I decide to bet out and see where I am and also to build a pot because I am a big favourite here.

I bet £7 the maniac raises to £25 and then Trevor mutters, shakes his head and calls the £25. I have seen enough and jam it for £80 total knowing that I am only in bad shape against AJ of diamonds. They both think a long time before calling, the maniac is now all in too with a little side pot going on.

I am up against AcAs for Trevor and KcAh for the maniac. Happy days! Lets stop to consider my position here. I can win with any 2 nines, 4 jacks, 3 queens and the remaining 8 diamonds (don't count the Jack of diamonds twice). Thats 17 outs twice! Of course I can't actually win with drawing hands unlike the rest of the donkeys in the room and the board comes 3s 3h and the Aces stand up. Horrible.

Poker stove tells me: I am the 60% favourite.

equity win tie pots won pots tied
Hand 0: 32.835% 32.34% 00.50% 292 4.50 { AcAs }
Hand 1: 07.032% 06.53% 00.50% 59 4.50 { AhKc }
Hand 2: 60.133% 60.13% 00.00% 543 0.00 { Qd9d }

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A better grind

I'm liking this Skate demo more and more. It's getting to be quite addictive looking for the best lines through the park and getting the timing right. It helps that the game looks gorgeous too.

Skate clip

A drug experience I hope to never have

Today I learnt a new way to get high, Jenkem. What is Jenkem? Well it's the gas produced by fermented human sewage, one inhales it in order to obtain a psychedelic experience. No, I am not joking.

The BBC news reported on the plight of African street kids who had turned to Jenkem as a substitute for glue and other solvents.

"It lasts about an hour", says one user, 16-year-old Luke Mpande, who prefers Jenkem to other substances.
"With glue, I just hear voices in my head. But with Jenkem, I see visions. I see my mother who is dead and I forget about the problems in my life."

Then a couple of months ago an American 14 year old boy posted his Jenkem trip experience to

Well today I finally did it. I became probably the first person in America to huff his own shit gas.

After breathing it in I immediately felt that I was passing out. I did not even have time to spit before I became unconscious. When I woke up my spittle had oozed out of my mouth and down my chin. I asked my friend how long I was out for. He said for about a minute, and that he had repeatedly tried to wake me but I would not wake up. During this short conversation I began to feel light dissociative effects come over me, accompanied by buzzing in my ears. The feeling got stronger and stronger until I felt like I was in a dream. This was somewhat enjoyable, it made me feel like nothing really mattered.

I am not sad to be missing out on this one.

Nutcracker Grind

This is from a new demo released on marketplace this week, EA's forthcoming game "Skate". As the title of the game suggests... it's a skateboarding game. I have not really ever been into either skating or its digital counterpart. It fascinates me and as an avid snowboarder I have respect for those who dare to throw themselves about on concrete, snow is a lot more forgiving. In fact this little clip shows exactly why I don't skate.

Nutcracker grind movie test

As unremarkable as that clip is it does however make me think this game is going to be crazy popular. The game has a replay editor that allows you to chop, edit and add effects to replays of you in-game and then post them up to the intertubes on EA's website. There you can tag, add comments and link to friends uploaded content. Already from the demo there are thousands of posts and people showing off some pretty sick moves. I really think this will set a precedent for sharing in-game user generated content. Now back to the park to put in some practice.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Big Daddy in da house!

Chronic fanboy that I am I plumped for the limited edition with die cast Big Daddy figure. It's pretty damn cool though and is going to look great menacing Spiderman, Mr Burns and Mr Incredible.

Now if I could only find some time to skive off and play the actual game....

Posted by Picasa

A Sick, Sick Run

After Wednesday's shocking blow up I was determined not to let my game nor confidence be affected in the GSOP £100 NHL freezeout. A sick run of cards soon had me in the right place yet still failed to materialise a win.

On Wednesday I made a simply shocking call with AJ for all of my chips and was against KK small blind on big blind. In hindsight my opponent pushed my buttons just right to get the call and it was an excellent example of how many events throughout a game can lead up to and influence a confrontation.

It took me most of Thursday to forgive myself for the mistake but come the evening I was ready for battle again. An early loss against a drawing opponent with top trips dented my confidence a little but then the cards started coming.

On average one is dealt a pair once in every 17 hands (odds of 16:1) and a specific pair - for example aces - once in every 221 (or so) hands (odds of 220:1). What this means is that in a dealer dealt game where each hand takes around 3 minutes to play (this is just a rough estimate) one can expect a pair every 50 minutes or so (once every 2 levels in a 30 minute clock game) and a big pair like aces or kings maybe once in a game (once every 5.5 hours). In fact it is not unusual at all to go through an entire game without seeing the lovely pocket rockets.

Between 8pm and 2am I was dealt pocket aces 5 times, pocket kings 4 times and also received pairs of tens, jacks, sevens, twos, fives and fours. A total of 15 pocket pairs, nearly ten hours worth and almost a lifetime supply of aces and kings (I jest, but truly that's a lot). When you then add in that 3 out of 15 times those pairs made a set on the flop (odds of 7.5:1) I was getting some sick luck. Of course lady variance is a fickle bitch and the one time I actually took my pocket aces to a full all in confrontation I lost as a 8:2 favourite was crippled and went out of the tournament soon after.

During the game it was remarked by a player who I have a lot of respect for that I was playing an "excellent, very strong game". Indeed it is a very easy game to play when you are being dealt constant premium starting hands. Of course he wasn't getting to see my cards as I was rarely going to a showdown, taking down even big pots without contest at the river. This has led me to realise that when the main event comes this weekend I must channel the spirit of this sick run and play exactly the same way cards or no cards.

I am highly unlikely to have such a good run of cards again so I must play the same strong aggressive game I was playing with those good cards but do it without a safety net. If I can get opponents to fold to a re-raise pre-flop with aces I can get them to fold holding any random 2. If a 2/3 pot flop bet against 3 callers to my pre-flop raise takes it down with kings then why not with a flush draw? Of course the danger here is that if I don't have the cards I am representing then my opponents could, but then again, nobody could be running that good could they?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Good Morning Internet

I couldn't make these up... Pet camel fucks Australian women to death

The camel had already been bothering the goat and had come close to suffocating it on a number of occasions, then...

On Saturday the woman apparently became the object of the male camel's desire.

It knocked her to the ground, lay on top of her and displayed what the police delicately described as mating behaviour.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bioshock Demo

So the Bioshock demo hit live yesterday and after a very long download I played it through a few times last night. The game is pretty damn good, atmospheric, flexible and great looking. The opening sequence had me sat waiting for the cut scene to move on until I realised that it wasn't a cut scene but the game waiting for me to actually move! The clue came when a helpful "use right stick to move" message popped up. Once going there were several genuinely creepy moments and it had me jumping in a few places too, scary stuff indeed. There were however a couple of things that irked me straight away.

First of all was the magic re-spawn points the "Vita Chambers". All it says about them is that if you die you will be re-animated in the last chamber you passed. Now this is being sold as an RPG/Shooter and the story I am led to believe is an important part of the game. In that case why the hell do they drop this magic box on you without any kind of back story or explanation to it? How do they work? Why do they work for you and not the corpses of the splicers you kill? At least its not a save point in the toilet but a little bit more detail wouldn't go amiss.

Next thing, the plasmids. These are a major part of the game, yet the first time I encountered one was when I clicked on a pick up. I just picked up a syringe and injected myself without warning, then started freaking out as a voice on the radio told me "Steady now. Your genetic code is being re-written". Would have been nice to have got a bit of story in advance of that. Perhaps a dialogue persuading me that it was the only way I was going to get through this alive? Especially seeing as the narrator/guide later tells me that the plasmids are what turned everyone bat shit crazy.

Finally the radio. Its a nice way to get a guiding voice into the story to get you started on the game and help you out but... How the hell can the mysterious Atlas see what I am doing? How did he know what I was looking at? How did he know that I had just injected a plasmid? The only cameras I am away of are the security ones and there were none nearby at the time.

I hope this is just irks for the demo because if a story driven game like this has this many holes in the story already it doesn't bode well. That aside the game plays really well and is remaining on pre-order. Roll on the 24th.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

My Big Fat Polish Wedding

I have only just stopped sweating vodka after this one. What follows is reconstructed from fragments of records I attempted to keep of the event. Bear with me, it was a marathon.

2:00 pm
We are late already. Jola is still at the hairdressers, I have put my suit on too early and now it is getting creased from sitting.

2:45 pm
Getting even later. No taxis to be found anywhere. Service is supposed to start at 3pm

3:10 pm
Made it. Luckily just as the bride was arriving, snuck in the back afterwards. They haven't finished building this church. I am always surprised at the need for enormous new churches in a country with so much requirement for decent housing. This one has double glazed stain glass windows, devotional and practical.

3:45 pm
Stand up, sit down, kneel, stand up, kneel, sit down. We haven't even got to any kind of bit to do with the bride and groom yet, who is this day about? This is only re-affirming my loathing of the Catholic church. Hurry up and marry them already.

4:00 pm
Finally some rings are swapped... but what's this? no kissing and wild celebration. Oh, I see, it's time for communion. A bell rings and everybody kneels again. Fun.

4:15 pm

Outside at last, confetti, smiles... hang on, that's not confetti, they are throwing money, coins even. That's got to smart. OK, now we give them some flowers and its off to the reception in a mass horn blowing convoy.

4:30 pm
Everybody into the reception with a glass of booze in hand. "Sto Lat!", glasses smashed on the floor, time for food. Hope they manage to get the glass off the dance floor before the band starts.

5:00 pm

Hmm I may have to do something to slow down the pace of vodka intake. A shot every 5 minutes is just not going to be sustainable. I know, I will studiously avoid eye contact with anybody holding a bottle of vodka, harder than it sounds seeing as there is by my reckoning a bottle per 3 people set out.

The spread of food and drink is truly tremendous. There seems to be a constant stream of plates of various meat brought to the table with no sign of it letting up. Jola is in her element.

5:15 pm
At regular intervals a loud chanting issues from the tables near the bride and groom. They are being urged to neck more vodka and snog for the assembled masses. They really ought to combine this enthusiasm with the church service, would be far more fun.

The dancing has begun. The band do not disappoint, they are exactly what I expected. Be still my cynical heart. Luckily the vodka will dull my outraged sense of musical taste. Nobody else seems to mind.

6:30 pm

Now I understand why the dance floor is so full. Anybody sitting has nothing else to do but drink more vodka. By dancing one is able to reduce the intake to a shot every 20 minutes or so. The band play for 4 songs or so then have a break to allow themselves and the dancers a chance to get a vodka in. Thoughtful.

7:30 pm

I have given up trying to take pictures. If I can't focus how can I expect the camera to?

9:45 pm

The food is still coming. I have just been presented with a whole pike. It was not what I really wanted to see in my rapidly-becoming-more-delicate state.

11:00 pm

I need a lie down. I don't think I can take any more of this. I honestly believe my cousin is attempting to murder me via alcohol poisoning. I am going to find a sofa in the back corner somewhere and hope nobody finds me for a while.

01:30 am

Pawel found me, demanded I drink more vodka with him and his brother (the groom). Luckily as the vodka was being poured his mother needed him for some kind of errand. A lucky escape.

02:00 am
Escape was but a dream. I really think I may throw up at any moment. Perhaps I should, maybe it would be better for me in the long run.

03:00 am
Going home to bed, escorting aunt Terenia is the premise.

09:15 am
Good Lord my head hurts.

1:15 pm
Woken by telephone call, Terenia will pick us up in 45 minutes. It's time to start again!

2:30 pm
Tripe and vodka. Not quite the breakfast I was hoping for after last night and I am dismayed to see that the pike has found me again also. Christ just bring me a coffee and some aspirin. Oh God, the band have started up again. Where did I leave that especially small vodka glass?

5:00 pm

I have been hiding outside in a deck chair round the back of the restaurant trying to snooze in the sunshine and take on water but I have been discovered and ordered to dance. With the dancing comes of course more vodka. There is no way to avoid it. The only thing I can do is drink the damn vodka and hope I either pass out and they leave me alone, or they pass out and I can sneak off again.

7:00 pm
I have discovered the secret of Pawel's remarkable vodka tolerance. He has given me some tablets that - according to my understanding of the label - increase the metabolization rate for alcohol. I am reminded of the time when I would take speed to take the edge off the acid. Thought I had left that kind of shit way behind. By my reckoning I will die tonight with or without the tablets so I may as well give it a shot.

8:00 pm

Stone me! These magic beans of Pawel's seem to do the trick. The real proof of the pudding will be in the morning of course, but for now It's full steam ahead. I have since learnt that just about all of my male relations here are necking these things, it has all become clear.

9:00 pm
I have a new found respect for the band. By my reckoning they have been playing for 18 hours now with only a few hours for sleep and minutes between numbers for a swift vodka. Neither their nor the crowd's enthusiasm seems to have abated.

12:00 am
This party is winding down. Finally. The band are playing their final number after 21 hours of performance! That deserves a round of applause. All we have to do now is find somebody sober to drive us home.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Skater Falls 50ft and Walks Away

I can't believe this guy got up from this slam. My favourite bit is the commentator who - while watching the scenes of a man who as far as they know is seriously fucked be attended to - can not get over the fact that before the slam he pulled off the first 720 of the big kicker in competition.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Home Made Wine

What is the correct social etiquette when presented with a glass of home made wine that would best be used to clean brushes after varnishing doors?

I still don't have it correct obviously as a spluttering cough followed by an involuntary shudder only served to draw the ire of Jola who told me in no uncertain terms that I had offended the hospitality of our hosts. Personally I am not sure I offended them at all as they only smilingly said "It is very good, yes?", which is really too much of a rhetorical statement to warrant any other response than a meek nod.

Problematically I have been invited back to help "finish the batch" as they are expecting a baby and the wife can no longer drink alcohol. I think I feel a migraine coming on and will regretfully have to decline.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Guitar (anti)Hero

Went to see a band last night and it reminded me of a couple of things.
1) There is a reason why there are no major Italian language rock bands that I am aware of.
2) Rock should be left to the kids.

Italian is not a language that lends itself well to the Rock format. Opera perhaps, but here it sounded just a little bit odd. Of course when they did do songs in English it only made me glad for the others being in Italian as I was able to understand the god awful lyrical composition.

Take this particular gem of a chorus for example.

"I called her on the phone and I asked her out,
Do you want to know what she
She said we are gonna have a good time.
We are gonna have a
good time."

Now I don't claim to be a lyrical genius myself but I can sure as hell tell the good from the bad and the down right ugly.

The band while technically very good had absolutely zero raawwk in them. Take the singer/guitarist for example. The man was mid thirties, bald (but not shaven), had his shirt tucked into his jeans and was wearing hiking boots (for comfort and stability no doubt). Not exactly going to have God fearing Christian parents burning little Johnnie's record collection is he? No this was £1.50 that might just have been better spent playing Euro millions.

What it made absolutely clear to me was that I must abandon all idle day dreams of picking up my guitar and forming a band again. This balding, middle age rocker was a message from above, like the lottery finger, "It could be You!". Yes indeed it could be me wearing comfortable shoes and singing my bad lyrics to a mid week crowd of uninterested punters. Rollins I am not.

I will no longer devote any more time to daydreaming about taking the stage to a screaming and adoring crowd before rocking them to within an inch of their lives with three chords and the truth. No, instead I will make do with playing Guitar Hero, on my own, in the dark and drunk.