Saturday, July 28, 2018

Being accused of soft play

There’s literally nothing to report from this session except this particular hand – at this stage I’d probably been playing for about 2 hours and for I’d barely played a hand. For about an hour I’d been chatting to the guy on my right but I’d never met him before and I didn’t even know his name.

I’m in the BB and it’s 5 or 6 way limped and I look down at 9h-2h. 2 suited cards are well above what I’ve been seeing for the last 2 hours so I’m excited. Not overly excited though so I check. Flop comes 10h-Jh-8h.

My session has been so dreadful that I’m happy to pick up a flush and once the SB checks I bet for $5. It folds round to the SB who calls. Turn is a blank, SB checks and I bet $12 which the SB calls. Given that I’ve been card dead all session all I can think of is don’t pair the board and don’t give another heart – my flush is pretty shitty so any draw gets there. I’m staring intently at the river which is another heart. Fuck fuckity fuck fuck. At least it hasn’t paired the board but my initial thoughts of fuck fuckity fuck fuck are still valid. Just my luck to get rivered again. To my amazement the SB checks – I check behind and state that any high heart gets there. 

SB says he only had top pair so I said “flopped flush” and turn over my cards. The dealer announces “straight flush wins” and pushes me the pot. The SB says nice hand and I double take my hand and to my amazement the river is 7h. I’d been so focused on what I didn’t want it to be that I’d missed the fact it had given me the straight flush – I say to him that I knew I flopped the flush but hadn’t clocked the straight flush. It’s at this point it all kicks off.

Another player (I’m not sure whether he was in the hand pre flop or not) pipes up with “that’s soft play – he (referring to me) should have raised” following up with “he should be penalised”.  

Now having laid down the hand history in black and white it’s obvious that I have a straight flush but at the time I was so obsessed with not seeing a paired board or another heart I failed to see the blatantly obvious. 

The SB pipes up and says he wasn’t calling a buck bet as he only had top pair but the complainer now comes up with “these 2 are buddies – he soft played against him and he should get a penalty”. 

I tell the complainer “I didn’t realise I had the SF. So here’s the reality – on the turn there’s $44 in the pot. The house is going to take $4 out if I don’t bet and $5 if I do. The SB has said that’s he’s not calling a bet. Do you really think I’m soft playing to save a buck?”

The SB confirms what I’ve said and confirms we don’t know each other but the complainer is still kicking off – the dealer then calls the floor and accurately relays the above. The floor person then says he’s warning me not to do it again – he believes that I’ve not done it deliberately but says any further soft play will be penalised. He’s going through the motions really to show that it’s been noted. I accept the warning given I know I’ve done something wrong, albeit inadvertently.

But this doesn’t appease the complainer – he wants me to sit out a round. WTF – I’ve been the most passive player at the table for the last hour or so (I can barely remember raising this session) so wtf does he want to achieve? No one else at the table can believe that complainer is actually still whining – they say I’ve been “reprimanded” and he should let it go.

Short of weeing in this guy’s pocket what would you have done?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

No mum. That has nothing to do with dogs

My mother is nuts. She’s in her mid 70s and in reasonable physical and mental health but she’s bonkers. It’s not that she’s got dementia, alzheimer’s or any other similar certifiable condition but that doesn’t stop her being nuts. She lives on her own and lives a very independent life – she has a wide circle of friends, drives herself all over the place and tends to a reasonable sized garden. She also has a dog – which I’ll elaborate on a bit further down. But she’s still nuts - in her kitchen there are no fewer than 5 clocks (it’s not a big kitchen – 2 people get under each other’s feet) all of which show different times, all incorrect and she won’t change any of them to show the correct time. It’s not like there’s a bank of clocks showing world time zones that you sometimes see in offices though, these are on kitchen appliances and they are all out by anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes fast or slow, but never the same and never correct. God knows what goes through her head at the start or end of daylight savings time but it definitely can’t be rational.

Whilst she is still very bright (she can do the crossword in her Sunday paper far quicker than I can and her reading list is pretty heavy going) she can get something stuck in her mind that is completely unchangeable even if it’s completely wrong. This is where the dog comes in.

Where my mum lives is literally in the middle of nowhere (for the UK at least). It’s a tiny village with no amenities, the nearest shop is 5 miles away but it’s in the middle of the countryside, a mile walk from the beach and there are trails and woods where the dog can be walked. I enjoy spending time there as it’s good to get some clean air and get some exercise by taking the dog out – as an aside I’ve noticed that anyone out walking in the countryside on their own without a dog looks weird, go for a walk in town or a city park and I wouldn’t glance twice at someone out on their own but do it in the countryside and you immediately look like an axe murderer. It’s also about 5 miles from the nearest pub so my alcohol intake drops to virtually zero for a few days when I visit. 

So when I visit I generally take the dog out for a couple of hours each day, weather permitting. He’s still young and probably doesn’t get as much exercise as he needs if it’s just my mum walking him.

Now it’s Sunday afternoon and one of my mum’s friends has popped round for a cup of tea. Her friend is just as nuts so I tend to phase their conversation out of my head and concentrate on the sport on TV – one of the benefits of having cost centres is that all kids’ noise is a blur to me, I can immediately focus on the sound of my cost centres screaming or crying but I can completely ignore other people’s kids’ noise.  I’ve seen this friend numerous times and I’ve seen her drive past a few times when I’ve been out with the dog and she comments this to my mum who then responds with “Yes, I’ve barely seen him (me) this week because he’s been out dogging so much”. I think I spat most of my tea over the carpet. (If you don’t know what dogging is just google it – probably best not done at work though). I’m hoping that my mum’s friend doesn’t know what it is and she doesn’t respond to my mum’s statement as if she does. But now my mum has got this into her head and I really can’t stop her using it – every time I even start to put my shoes on she asks how long I’ll be out dogging for and it’s been going on for long enough that I can’t correct her now. I just hope she doesn’t tell some of the saner neighbours that her son goes out for long dogging trips as I’ll start getting funny looks from the locals.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Flashback Friday - a day at the Olympics. Super Saturday

It’s the summer of 2012 and the Olympics are in full swing across London and the south east of England – I’d not entered the ballot for tickets but those I did know that entered were lucky to have received tickets for any event, yet alone anything close to what they’d applied for. People had applied for athletics or swimming tickets and been allocated women’s weightlifting – well done IOC on only being beaten by FIFA and UEFA on your massive incompetence in not being able to organise a piss-up in a pub. As an aside I applied for tickets to the 2006 World Cup in Germany about 9 months before the event. I was allocated (and was obliged to pay for) 4 very expensive seats – the only issue was that I was allocated these tickets 2 days before the actual match and there was no way of getting there as air fares were through the roof. 

But as luck would have it a friend of mine had been able to obtain tickets to the beach volleyball event – it was only a morning session for 2 matches but at least I’d be able to tell the kids of my trip to the Olympics. Well I could if I could remember much of it. 

The venue for the event was Horse Guard’s Parade in central London – this meant catching the train into London before 7am on a Saturday morning which I was pretty loathed to do since, at the time, I usually caught a similar timed train every weekday. But having met for breakfast we were on our way over the Thames to the venue which started about 9.30am. Having got to the venue we did the only thing that British people know what to do at sporting events – head for a beer. The first drink was sipped for an hour whilst we watched the first game – women’s but I have absolutely no recollection of which nations were playing or who won. Beach volleyball is a sport that has a particular image – lithe girls in short shorts and small tops throwing themselves around on the sand but this was slightly disappointing and I’ve since found out that the internet is full of far racier images if you know where to look. A second beer was acquired as the game came to an end and the second game started – unfortunately this was the men’s turn and our interest waned as soon as the second beer was finished. 

It’s now barely 11am and we have a thirst on – “Pub?” is asked to general consensus. So we head over to Covent Garden which is about 10 mins walk away. We find a decent pub that has numerous TVs showing all the day’s action and little are we to know we are in for a great day for British athletes, winning 2 golds in rowing, 1 in cycling and 3 in athletics. Or so I’m told because events after about 4pm are a bit of a blur to me

Over the next few hours we imbibe our share of beer and continue to watch the sports – the day passes pretty fast and soon I’m staggering back to Waterloo station to catch the train home. And then I wake up, on the train. With no recollection of where I am, what time it is or why I can’t see properly. Normally I only encounter these worries late at night after an evening session and the train is usually deserted, being that anyone vaguely sensible is not on the last train home stinking like a brewery. Really not good, especially if I’ve missed my station as the next stop is about 25 minutes ride down the line. But as I come to my senses I realise a few things – I’ve only been asleep for about 10 minutes, so that’s good. And I’m not sat next to some drunken lunatic who’s dribbling down his own face. Unfortunately the guy next to me is sat next to some drunken lunatic though. And it’s half past 7 in the evening and it’s as bright as day outside. Oh – and the train is packed with families and other normal people not slumped in an alcohol induced haze given that it’s half 7 and far too early to have drunk yourself into the aforementioned drunken haze. Except if you’re an idiot who has been drinking since 9am that is. 

Luckily a lot of people on the train get off at the same station as me, otherwise I’d have been drunkenly pushing my way through crowds of people whilst trying not to fall over or breathe on anyone. It’s only a 10 minute stagger home albeit through a still relatively busy town centre so I try to avoid bumping into too many people. I manage to get home in one piece and do the first sensible thing I’ve done all day – order a pizza. Luckily this can be done online as I’m not capable of speaking properly and to celebrate my achievement I crack open a bottle of wine and turn the TV on to continue the sports coverage. Mrs AC arrives home at about midnight to find the TV on with the volume at full blast, me passed out on the sofa with half a pizza and the remnants of the bottle of red sat on the living room table. She’s a lucky girl is Mrs AC!!

So when the cost centres get a bit older and ask me if I ever went to the Olympics I’ll tell them about that magical Saturday – but only if they’ve reached 18.

Friday, July 13, 2018

An American kingdom? Errr..... maybe not

For anyone that cares to ask I’d class myself as sitting on the centre-right of the socio-political scale and an economic conservative, but I’m also a realist. Career politicians are wily creatures in that most of them don’t really act with their true convictions. Most politicians just seek to get themselves re-elected so try to make popular, short term decisions whilst kicking the can of macro issues down the road long enough whilst promising the electorate that it will get sorted out in the future if only they’d get re-elected. My view of politics is that politicians should be there to make long term, unpopular decisions for the benefit of future generations. Politics should be treated a bit like jury duty – nobody really wants to do it but those doing it should act with integrity whilst listening to the facts rather than emotions. If you take the issue of re-election away from politicians then they get to act this way. It’s why a US President is seen to achieve more in his 2nd term than in the 1st following the 22ndAmendment as he can’t seek re-election. That’s the theory anyway, in reality a President still wants to see his party in control so he generally won’t take a lot of these long term views. In my utopian vision politicians should run on a campaign, deliver then handover to the next generation.

But in the absence of my ideals, democracy is probably the next best thing. Let people make their own choice and let them live with the consequences. So when our cousins across the Atlantic decided to elect an orange baboon with the personality of an escaped mental patient how we chuckled. And now the baboon has been given the honour of an invitation to visit the UK we have to show him the hospitality that is deserving of the leader of the world’s 2nd largest democracy. 

By chance a friend of mine knows someone who knows someone who attended the meeting of His Donaldness and the Queen. Unfortunately I don’t have any inside information of him exchanging his deranged views with Prince Philip (the Queen’s husband) who is known for his less than tactful comments but the conversation between the Queen (HRH) and Trump (DT) went something like this:
DT: We’re making America great again, so great, so so great.
HRH: Lovely. How is your tea? Are you ok holding the cup in your tiny hands?
DT: And I’ve got big plans for the rest of my term. It’s going to be great and it’s all my idea. It’s going to be so great, so so great.
HRH: Lovely. And what are these big plans?
DT: I’m thinking of making America great again by changing us to a kingdom. It’ll be so great, so so great.
HRH: Hmm. Maybe not. To be a kingdom you need to have a king. And you are not a king.
DT: Good point. But we need to be so great. So how about a principality?
HRH: Again – not a good idea.
DT (interrupting): A great one?
HRH: No. Definitely not. A principality needs a prince and you are definitely not a prince.
DT: OK – now I’m out of ideas. But we definitely need to be so great again. Have you got any idea what we can do?
HRH (stirring her tea): Well it seems you could remain as a country. You’ll do well.

Normal poker based drunken idiocy will resume shortly. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

I’m in the Colorado coastguard

Where I worked in the UK for most of my 20s & 30s is called The City – it’s the UK’s major financial district and the UK equivalent of Wall Street. Saying you work in The City gives most people massive misconceptions in that everyone has images of trading rooms with people shouting orders or looking at red numbers flashing on screens whilst looking despondent. In fact it’s anything other than glamorous – probably less than 5% of people working in The City can be accurately described as bankers or traders (i.e. the people who make the mega money) and the vast majority are support staff – operations, IT, tax, compliance, research etc. 

Every Thursday and Friday night the bars & clubs are full of pretty girls looking to meet a rich trader or banker. And guess what – every guy in those bars and clubs conveniently happens to be a trader or banker. Except they’re not – nearly every guy pretending to be a trader or banker is either one of the aforementioned support staff or doesn’t even work in the City at all but has come into town just to spin a yarn to one of the pretty girls who thinks she’s going to be swept off her feet by a multi-gazillionaire. And during my 20s I used to pretend to be one of those professions in order to have my 20 minutes of fun with a pretty girl – everyone did it and it still goes on today. But I found a game which is far better – it’s the complete reverse of the original game in that you have to tell the object of your desires that you do the world’s worst, mind numbingly dull job or something so outrageous that it couldn’t possibly be true, which is where the title of this post finally makes sense. In fact I take so much fun in this game that it doesn’t even need to be someone that you’re trying to chat up – anyone I happen to chat to at a poker table, bar or on a plane is fair game given that I’m unlikely to see them again and I try to make up something so ridiculous that I’m quite easily rumbled.

I’m sat in seat 4 at a 1/2 table amongst mostly middle aged or older men apart from seats 1 & 2 which are occupied by 2 younger (probably 25ish), not unattractive, ladies. They’ve obviously had a couple of drinks but they’re not drunk. But they are very chatty and most of the guys at the table are getting annoyed at their chat. From having listened to their chat I’ve worked out a couple of things – they’re not overly bright and they are obsessed by guys in uniform.  One of the girls has obviously just broken up with her boyfriend and keeps going on about missing seeing him in his uniform. Her friend keeps telling her that there are plenty more fish in the sea and that any guy she meets could be the next “one”. So she proceeds to ask some of the guys at the table what they do – seat 3 is a retired guy who says he was in the navy (that seems to perk her up despite being old enough to be her grandad), as she asks me I’m in a hand so I ask her to give me 2 secs and she asks a couple of the other players before coming back to me. Once I’m done in the hand she asks me again what I do and I reply that I’m in the Colorado coastguard (they’ve already discussed NYC a lot earlier on so I was working on the assumption that neither one of them was from Colorado). My answer elicits a snigger from the guy in seat 3 and the girl in seat 2 looks a bit confused. “How could you be in the Colorado coastguard?” she starts out, damnit – rumbled at the first attempt, “you’re British”. Well at least she hasn’t thought I’m Australian (more on that here  So it’s not the Colorado coastguard that’s caught her out but my accent.

“I was married to an American girl and I’ve lived over here for years” I replied. “Do you have any photos of you in uniform or of your boat?” she then asks. I tell her no but that anything to do with my boat is classified information. She then proceeds to ask me really weird questions like what’s the strongest storm we’ve been in. I get a couple of seconds thinking time between questions by looking at my cards and I manage to fend her off on a couple by feigning making a decision about my hand. About an hour passed like this and she said goodbye when she left and I genuinely think that she believed I was telling the truth – if you ever meet a girl who says she met someone from the Colorado coastguard she’s talking about me.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Expensive beers in Vegas

I hadn’t played for a while so as soon as I got into Vegas I decided to play an evening tournament at the Venetian. Whilst I generally like the poker room there are a couple of things that I don’t like – the bathrooms are a bit of a walk from the poker room, waitress service is bit hit or miss (most poker rooms have this problem so it’s certainly not a dig just at the Venetian) but the thing I most dislike about the place are the cup holders at the tables. Now some poker rooms don’t even have cup holders built into the table and this winds me up even more – after ordering a drink you then have to find a side table, which then gets moved or acquired by someone else whether there are someone else’s drinks on it or not. Or you have to put a drink on the table which is then in danger of being knocked over every time you look at cards or reach for chips. So built in cup holders are a very useful, practical feature that most poker rooms use – Venetian has these. Except they are different. The cup holders at the Venetian’s tables are massively oversized – normal cup holders will accommodate a normal sized beer bottle or glass without allowing much movement once it’s been put down. Those in the Venetian are at least 50% bigger than normal sized so that when a bottle is put down it’s quite easily moved or tipped over. I’ve done this and have seen it done on numerous occasions so it’s not just me being clumsy or a drunken idiot. Anyway – rant over – let’s get to the poker.

It’s the 2nd or 3rd level and I’m yet to win a hand when I look down at A-K suited UTG and raise. Folds round to the button who then 3 bets – he’d been quite aggressive so I’m not overly concerned about his bet here. I throw out a couple of chips to call but I don’t say anything, Dealer announces raise. I’ve mixed my chips up and have thrown in a higher denomination chip than I meant to and it’s more than a min raise – I immediately open my dumb mouth and say “I just meant to call”. Damn you free drinks – if in doubt STFU. Button calls. I whiff the flop and check, button shoves and I fold. Now if I’d said nothing I’m potentially taking this down preflop – it’s probably the 1st aggressive move I’ve made and would have looked pretty strong 4 betting out of position especially if the guy on the button has air or even a small pair. But folding here to a shove is the correct play early on so I’m grateful we’re deepstacked and I have enough to play with. 

Now it’s 2 or 3 levels later and I’m still yet to win a hand and I’m getting desperate – I call a bet with A-K off in the BB. Flop gives me 2 pair and I shove which is called - villain turns over A-8 suited for top pair and a flush draw and the river is good for him. Busted after 3 hours or so and I’d not scooped a pot – fucking super. But I still haven’t had my fill of poker or beer so I head back down to the MGM for a cash game – there’s a big waiting list here at the Venetian and I can usually get a seat PDQ at the MGM – plus it’s a shorter drunken stumble back to the Signature later on. 

I get a seat immediately at the MGM and more amazingly there’s a waitress taking orders so I’m soon enjoying another beer. Which is a good thing as it takes my mind off the shitty cards I’m being dealt. It’s quite an aggressive table – especially for the MGM and it’s rare to see a limped pot. Raises and 3 bets are the standard for this table so being card dead at least saves me some limped calls. Fast forward about 2 hours and again I’ve not won a pot – I think I’ve raised twice preflop then had to get away after missing the flop and facing decent sized bets. At least the beers are coming in quick succession tonight although my average cost is probably around $25 given I’ve lost my tournie buy in plus close to $100 here. Finally I pick up a decent hand in decent position – KK in the cut off. There’s already a raise from UTG+1 so I 3 bet to $25 and 3 of us see a flop. K-10-4 but there’s 2 spades (neither of my Kings is a spade) – given how badly I’ve been running tonight I’d be more than happy to take this down now with a large bet. BB checks, UTG+1 bets $40 so I shove about $175 into a $130ish potBB folds then the original raiser callsI table my hand and I’m only expecting to see a spade draw but villain doesn’t show. Turn is a spade, fuck right off now and I’m resigned to losing as the river is dealt, albeit I’m likely good if the board pairs. Another fucking spade, seriously???? Have I pissed off the poker gods that badly and they are teaching me a lesson? Villain now tables As-10d!!! What have I said about players in Vegas not paying attention? The tightest player at the table has 3 bet you preflop then shoved to your raise and you call with 2nd pair and a backdoor draw – wtf???

It’s now well past midnight and I’ve been playing for around 5 hours and I’ve not won a hand all night so there’s no way I’m rebuying – I grab my beer and head back to the Signature, all the while working out that my average cost of beer is now around $40. Now even in Vegas that’s expensive.