Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The happiness arbitrage

At the start of the NFL season I jokingly promised Mrs AC a trip to the Super Bowl if the Giants made it - knowing full well that there was more chance of me giving up beer than actually having to deliver on my promise. She reciprocated, thinking that the 49ers were just as unlikely to even make the playoffs, let alone make it all the way. She's been sweating since mid season as apart from 3 narrow losses they've managed to win every game - even the game after Christmas against the seahawks was a nail biter as it effectively turned into a winner takes all game for the number 1 seed, a bye and home field advantage versus the wild card route. My own record when watching them during the regular season has only been 4-3 so I was starting to think I'm a bit of an unlucky omen. We only get 5 NFL games on TV during a normal week so it's virtually impossible to watch every game which is why I didn't see them much at the start of the season.

But now they've only gone and done it - for only the second time in my adult life they have made the big game. And I can't wait. But unfortunately they are going to have to do it without me in the crowd - the tickets were just ridiculously expensive, as were hotels in Miami who seemed to have taken a leaf out of Vegas's books and ramped up their prices to gouge anyone who wants to visit - tickets alone were going for 5 figures a pair. 

But we're going to be watching the big game in the next best place - Vegas. It's actually going to be cheaper to fly, stay, eat and drink for the entire weekend than just a game ticket would have cost so it's really a no brainer to spend the weekend where public drunkenness is encouraged (in my mind it's actually illegal not to be carrying an open drink down the strip). Not that Vegas isn't gouging the public to watch the game - Caesars' sports book was charging close to $1,000 for prime seats plus all you can drink (even I can't drink that much to make it financially viable).

Mrs AC is taking care of the details so I don't know where we'll be watching the game but she knows my one stipulation is that there must be alcohol involved and she's told me that she's not going to disappoint me on that front. I'm flying in from London on Wednesday and staying on for another week as I have to see a client in LA, whilst Mrs AC is flying from NY on Thursday and leaving on Monday.

I've already bet on the game - but not for the 49ers to win. I want to lose my money. Mrs AC thinks I'm an idiot - why on earth would you bet on your own team to lose? Now I'm not really much of a sports bettor - I think the most I've ever wagered on a sporting event is £50 ($65) and I don't think I've actually ever bet on an NFL game before (I place the occasional parlay on a few Saturday soccer games to make the afternoon a bit more interesting if I'm watching the games) but when I do bet I rarely bet on my own team to win - not only for the fact that they don't win very often but it's that I'm doubly invested in the result - financially and emotionally. If my team loses then I'm pissed off and I've lost money whereas if they lose and I've bet against them at least the emotional loss is off set by the financial gain - it's what I call the happiness arbitrage. So I've placed £50 on the Chiefs to win at -125 on the moneyline. I did think about betting the spread giving up 1.5 points but that could have lead to a worst case scenario if KC won by a point whereby I would lose the game and the bet.

So in just over a week I'll be spending a weekend doing things that I love - beer, Vegas and spending some time with Mrs AC (if Mrs AC asks that order is reversed) plus the added bonus of cheering the 49ers on. And for once I'll be more than happy about losing money on my bet.

Oh - I ballsed up my drinking challenge the other night. I was watching the NFC championship game at home and had already drunk 4 beers when I opened one of my fancy Belgian beers, as soon as I'd opened it I realised I'd taken a few down to my friends who we spent New Years with and we'd had one on New Year's Day - I just couldn't bring myself to waste such a good beer so I drank it. I made it for 19 days which included 4 transatlantic flights - the highlight being a very good English sparkling wine which I'd never have had if I'd not been doing this. Final tally - 38 different beers, 1 champagne, 16 wines, 2 gins, 4 vodkas & 3 whiskies. Even though some of the wines and spirits were generous pours I'm actually amazed at how little I've drunk so far this month - it's my equivalent of a "dry January". I'm sure I'll manage to boost a few booze makers' share prices next week when I'm in Vegas!!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Two nations divided by a common language

There are many anomalies between the British and Americans - chief of which is our supposedly shared language. The obvious ones include Americans' inability to use the letter "U" in common words (colour, valour etc), putting a "Z" where a Brit would use an "S" (notarized for example). As an aside a "Z" is pronounced Zed, not Zee, the famous rapper is definitely Jay-Zed!!

But whole words or phrases can have completely different meanings as well, telling a British girl that you like her pants is liable to see you getting slapped as, to her, pants are underwear. What an American knows as pants we know as trousers (or rubbish, describing an item as pants means it's rubbish, at least that's what the cool kids tell me).

Well, having an American girlfriend is a constant source of amusement (for me, not her - she thinks I'm an idiot!) when we're discussing things as we can often have no idea what the other is talking about. "The faucet is broken" followed by "what the fuck is a faucet?" or "I'm only going out for 2 drinks" being misinterpreted when any Brit would know that it actually means "I'm coming back at 3am and passing out on the bathroom floor with my head in the shower" being recent examples. Don't even get me started on Cockney rhyming slang - Mrs AC gets confused with it being the non rhyming part that is said and the obvious rhyming part remains unsaid (taxi becomes sherbet in CRS, the cockney part being sherbet dib-dab) so I'm trying to teach her a few phrases so she can sound like a Londoner when she's here albeit I may as well be trying to teach her Swahili. If you can translate "I went down the apples to use the dog and order myself a ruby" from CRS to real English in the comments below I'll buy a beer to whoever gets the best result.

But what we do share is our love of sports - Mrs AC likes sports as much as me and is more than happy to attend a live event, which we do quite regularly when I'm in NY - our favourite (note the "U") being hockey. I've been watching hockey for the past 20 years or so and bizarrely it came about through my love of beer - I used to live near the arena in London when they had a team and it was actually cheaper to go to hockey and drink rather than spend an evening in the pub. I've also been watching the Rangers play since I first came to New York in the early 2000s, albeit the tickets and beer are much more expensive than I'd ever paid back home.

I've always had a routine when I go to hockey, when I arrive I get a drink, watch the first period then I get a couple more during the 1st interval to last for the rest of the game to avoid the awful queues that generally plague MSG if the place is more than half full. And so I continued this routine when I started taking Mrs AC to games - she doesn't always want the 3rd drink but I've always made sure that it's found a good home. But at a recent game she said something that will live in my memory forever. I'd just arrived back at our seats carrying a tray of 4 drinks when she asks "Why do you always want me double fisted at the hockey?"

I've almost lost half a beer spat down the back of the guy in front's head. "What the fuck? I've done no such thing."

She continues "why don't you just get 1 drink and we'll get another during the next interval?" She then asks why I'm giggling like a schoolboy.

I tell her that what she said means something completely different to us Brits - and you definitely wouldn't want your girlfriend announcing it in public (if you're unaware of the British interpretation don't google it at work, or on your partner's phone unless you know how to clear their browser history).

I was actually told this recently in Vegas as well - a waitress brought me a beer then she insisted that she take the bottle in my hand even though it was 1/3 full and she told me "Sorry hun, we're not allowed to let you get double fisted here" which to my British mind is absolutely fine but if I'm thinking like an American I really don't like it at all.

Drinking challenge update:
9 Jan - 4 beers
10 Jan - 3 wines, 2 gins
11 Jan - 6 beers whilst watching the 49ers win. Go 9ers! (I also watched the 1st half of the Ravens/Titans game but it was 2.30am on Sunday, I'd only flown in from NY at 9am Saturday morning and I had an evening flight back to NY so really couldn't stay awake any longer)
12 Jan - 2 beers, 3 wines
13 Jan - 12 beers, 4 vodkas (took my heavy drinking client to see hockey and this was my hardest day of drinking although a walk in the park compared to our last event in Vegas, although flights are becoming a pain now as they've not changed their menu this month yet)
14 Jan to 15 Jan - None
16 Jan - 2 beers, 2 wines

Flying back to the UK for nearly 2 weeks today so after tonight's flight the only time I'm going to drink for the next couple of weeks will be watching the NFL championship games on Sunday night. Good luck to Ace's Titans and hopefully they'll be playing the 49ers in a couple of weeks in Miami. I keep hearing about these Superb Owls but for the life of me I can't figure out what it means

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Good call - I have 10 high

One of the most difficult aspects of poker is bluffing. It's easy to win a hand if you're holding close to the nuts (getting someone to pay you off is another matter entirely) but bluffing is what separates the wheat from the chaff. I always think that if you're not caught bluffing enough then you probably don't do it enough - it's a reason why I very rarely show bluffs unless there's a player who is likely to go on tilt when he knows he's been bluffed.

But bluffing at lower stakes can be especially tricky - some players are such call machines that they'll "hero call" with such marginal hands that bluffing against them essentially becomes unprofitable. The majority of low stakes players generally don't think too deeply about other players' starting ranges and positions, or even notice when the the tightest player at the table is 3 barrelling for the first time in 2 hours.

I'm on the button and call a raise from MP holding 9-10 of diamonds and we're 5 ways to a flop of Jd-8d-4s and it's checked to me. I bet and only the preflop raiser calls. The turn is another Jack which is actually a good card to continue my bluff - my opponent is unlikely to have a Jack considering he checked on such a wet flop into multiple opponents. I again bet once my opponent checks, which is called (after a minute or so of thinking). The river is another 8 and I'm not likely winning the hand without bluffing so I bet 1/4 of the pot. This screams a value bet with a Jack - betting more really says I've got nothing or a Jack whereas such a small bet looks like I want a call. Given the run out I really don't think my opponent has a Jack and I'm only getting called by a hand that beats me - if I'm raised I'm obviously folding. My opponent doesn't snap call which is good and internally I'm screaming for him to fold. He doesn't. He thinks for a good couple of minutes before announcing call. Fuck.

I announce "Good call - I have 10 high" and turn over my hand. I'm expecting to see a hero call with Ace x or maybe even a badly played overpair. He announces 2 pair and turns over pocket 7s.

I don't think he's clocked the board is double paired as he's waiting for the pot to be pushed to him - his face is a picture as the dealer pushes me the pot. What have I said about players in Vegas not paying attention?

Drinking challenge update:
1 Jan - 6 beers, 2 whiskies
2 Jan - none
3 Jan - 2 beers, 1 wine
4 Jan - none
5 Jan - 1 champagne, 3 wines, 1 whisky
6 Jan to date - none. As soon as we got back to NY on Sunday night I felt a bit "peaky" so apart from heading to the office I've quarantined myself in my hotel room, hence now having time to write some stories up. Unless I've got Ebola in which case my organs will liquefy and I'll leave a bit of a mess for housekeeping to clean up. I think it probably is Ebola though as I feel dreadful - it's that or a heavy cold!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

New Beers resolutions

It was whilst chatting with Ace that I came up with a new booze related challenge - my last trip to Vegas entailed me drinking my own body weight's worth of beer which is detailed in my entries from November & December. 

I usually have a good few weeks without alcohol in January as I'm often not travelling but I've already got travel plans for the first couple of months of the year and I'm not sure I can cope with the tedium of long haul flights and multiple nights in hotels without having beer to keep me amused. Plus my tag line of drunken idiocy would be a bit boring if I relayed tales of drinking tea and getting early nights.

But I'm going to set myself another booze related challenge - I'm going to see how long I can make it without repeating the same drink. Now this might not be as easy as you think because I'm not always in control of what booze is on offer as quite a lot of my imbibing is done whilst I'm a few miles in the air on my travels. Given that nearly all my travel at the moment is within Europe and transatlantic I really only use 2 airlines (British Airways and American Airlines) and they have only a limited supply on board so I may have to get creative. 

I did think of allowing myself a couple of exclusions - the champagne on BA being the first. Alcohol is taxed weirdly in the U.K. and airlines take the approach of anything they serve on the ground has to have tax paid on it so the only alcoholic drink they serve preflight is champagne - first world problems I know. The BA champagne is usually very good so limiting myself to one glass for an undetermined duration would probably be classed as cruel and unusual. 

The second exemption would have been Corona - whilst its not the best beer I drink it's my go to drink at the poker table (every place serves it so I don't have to waste the waitress's time by asking her to run through their beer list, it's not overly strong so I can usually have a few over a long session and still see straight and in my mind it's healthy as it has lime in it). 

But I'm going to go with zero exceptions - I'll obviously look like some sort of nutter when I'm on my 6th different beer at the poker table (I'll likely be in Vegas some time in January and possibly February as well). I've got quite a few different brands of spirits to get through - luckily BA and AA serve different brands of gin so I can have a few G&Ts. Wine will be ok though - I just need to keep a list of those I've had and luckily there are usually a few choices on the menu on BA and these are changed quite regularly. I'll obviously not be able to open a bottle because as once I've had a glass I can't have another of the same bottle - Mrs AC may have to step up to the plate here although I don't think I'll get any complaints there! 

Beer away from the poker table will be easy though - there are a plethora of choices available at nearly every bar and I'll often only have one of a particular beer on a night out. Plus I was given a beer selection pack for Christmas so I've got about 20 different bottles and cans at home to choose from, albeit I'm only going to be spending about 8 nights at home for the whole month. 

I think my biggest challenge will be when I go out with my heavy drinking client in mid January but all I've got planned is going to a NY Rangers game which is likely to be sandwiched in between pre and post game drinks. 

Not sure how long I intend to do this but I'm going to start on January 1 and will post an update towards the end of the month. 

Happy new year to you all - hopefully you had a good Christmas and have made more sensible resolutions than me, which is probably not all that difficult!