July 30, 2007

Dudes looking good

Maggie took this picture of Biz, Ev, me and Bryan as we got ready for Ev & Sara's wedding.

It shows Ev looking relaxed & confident, me and Bryan looking prepared and Biz looking like he's got his pants down.

I'd like to call special attention to the full windsor knots we're sporting. It took me about 45 minutes to learn how to tie that knot from this instructional video. I think we can all agree this was time well spent and that the wedding would not have gone off successfully if we'd been wearing four-in-hand knots, also known as "The Wuss."

Having gotten a sneak peak at the preparations, I knew Ev & Sara we're going to throw one very classy shindig. I didn't quite anticipate how fun it was going to be. Sara's really to be commended for bringing out the rager in marriage.

July 28, 2007


July 25, 2007


Last night I made the sweetest $15 I've ever earned.

I was sitting at the most competitive $1-$1-$2 table I've been at in Colma. Every hand was being raised and raised large. In the first orbit, I saw two pots that had topped $100 before the flop was dealt.

More impressive than the dollars being flung around were the players doing the slinging. This was a serious bunch of folks who seemed to be playing way below their level.

I was looking forward to seeing how I'd do against this tough group (mistake #1) but I was folding every hand. I picked up 7-2 four separate times during the first 30 hands. The other 26 hands were not much more remarkable. As a result, my table image was squeaky tight.

At the beginning of the 4th orbit, I'm in the small blind when an aggressive player with $600 in chips raises to $15 from middle position.

It's folded around to me and I look down to see J3. Now this hand is a stinker. In fact, according to one dataset the expected value of this hand is in the bottom 10% of all possible starting hands.

But here's the thing. The small blind is an excellent place from which to make a huge pre-flop bluff. Since you are first to act in all subsequent rounds, your terrible position lends credence to you having a real hand.

I read about this move in Sklansky & Miller's "No Limit Hold'Em: Theory & Practice." And the specific hand they mention as being a good hand for this maneuver is J-3. You make the big bluff with your worst hand so as not to "waste" a hand you actually stand a chance to improve with on the flop.

Of course, they also recommend doing it against an unraised pot with several limpers, not against one player who bet 7.5x the big blind (mistake #2). I kinda forgot that part.

But this is, in general, a good move for me to pull off once in awhile. I'm a tight player so a pre-flop bluff is highly unexpected. Also, my opponent was playing a lot of hands aggressively and I didn't give his $15 raise that much credit.

I announce raise and throw in two black chips for a total bet of $40 making it $25 more to the raiser. And he starts thinking. And thinking.

He asks me how much I have left and I tell him $120. Then, he starts counting out chips.

At this point, I'm hoping he's gonna put me all-in so at least I can fold. What the hell am I gonna do if he just calls and I've got to play an $80 pot with Jack-poopy-three.

It's also become evident that the guy has a real hand. A-Q or a high pocket pair. The only hands I can rule out are AK, KK or AA figuring that he certainly would have called with those.

Finally, after a lifetime, he says "Forget it" and folds his hand. Before he does, he flips his cards to show QQ. I was over an 8-to-1 dog against him.

The table is amazed that he'd fold his queens, the 3rd best possible starting hand. He figured there's no way I'd make that raise with anything but AA or KK.

And I'm dying to show my hand. If I'd known that I was gonna switch tables an hour later to find an easier game, I probably would have. But there's no value in giving away information like this.

But I stack my $15 profit and briefly consider myself a legend of small stakes poker.

July 24, 2007

The End is Nigh

Sutter and I discussed today's San Francisco power outage which temporarily affected 365 Main's datacenter. This caused downtime for the sites hosted there like Craigslist, Technorati, LiveJournal and Vox.

July 21, 2007

Finding Leo

This is a DVD bonus feature from the first season of Extras. The show is pretty funny, but this video of a slightly drunk Ricky Gervais trying to get Leonardo DiCaprio's number absolutely killed me. The point when he realizes that his efforts are essentially equal to those of a deranged fan is top notch.

July 20, 2007


The house next door to me is being torn down and rebuilt. Today, they took down the wall that formed part of the lightwell outside my bathroom window.

As a result, the construction crew has a pretty good view right into my bathroom and the shower in particular.


Poker Night

July 14, 2007

Pigeons don't care

July 13, 2007


Had my first sad moment with the iPhone this morning. Music playback kept randomly crashing.

Britt and I diagnosed the problem over granola. The voices that came out of our asses determined it was likely a memory leak caused by the iPhone trying to keep all the apps running in an effort to convey a seamless experience. So a restart was the recommended cure.

In any case, the iPhone is awesome. Even if the battery explodes on its 300th charge it will be a phenomenal success. An annoying success, but phenomenal nonetheless.

It's my favorite gadget in as long as I can remember. I feel as confident that it's the only phone I'll ever need as I did that Super Mario Bros. would be the only game I'd ever need to play. I have named my iPhone as my primary beneficiary; I want it to be well taken care of should something happen to me.

There's a thousand blog posts like this all over right now. Which it makes it all the more funny that Verizon is trying to justify why (thankfully for me) that they decided to pass on being the iPhone's carrier.

Mom reports from vacation in Clearwater, FL that Scientologists have abducted her a local Verizon store has a sign out front that reads "Cancel iPhone service here." I'm guessing they don't have a lot of business.

And Verizon General Counsel Steve Zipperstein's comments that "The jury is still out and we will have to see how the market reacts."

As Jack said "Yeah, the jury's still out ... playing with their iPhones."

July 11, 2007

Two Hands

I've never written much about my adventures at the poker table mostly because of the lack of adventure involved. But the other night I played two successive all-in hands against the same player that resulted in the biggest pot I'd ever won.

As the pot was pushed my way, I received congratulations from the other players at the table as well a guy on the rail. I thought "Word. I must be doing something right." It was only later that I realized the number of mistakes I made. I've reconstructed the hands here because thinking about them has helped me see the game a bit more clearly. This is unlikely to be interesting or even decipherable to most.

I sat down at table 34 at the Lucky Chances about 20 minutes before the hands detailed below. The game is $1-$1-$2 spread-limit Hold'Em where the spread means you can make any bet between $4 and $200. When I sat down I immediately noticed the thin Asian guy on the dealer's right. For one thing, he had more money than anyone else; close to $600 in a game where the max buy-in is $200. For another, he was on an amazing run of cards.

In my first 20 minutes at the table, I saw this guy (I'll call him Wispy for the thin mustache he sported) win a number of big hands. In fact, I quickly lost $60 of my initial $200 in a series of hands where he'd strongly re-raised me before the flop or put me in bad position with no hand after the cards came out. In each of these cases, the eventual showdown revealed that he had me well beat when I folded. Wispy wasn't bluffing; he was getting hit by the deck.

So, with $140 in front of me, I get dealt 10J on the button. It's called for $4 by Wispy and one other player before it gets to me and I just call as does the big blind. The flop is 10J7. It's checked to the player on my right who makes it $10. I don't like the hearts and would fastplay this two pair here regardless so I raise to $20 to go. The big blind folds, and Wispy calls the $20 as does the original raiser. There's $80 in the pot.

The turn is the K. It's checked to me and I make it $40. Wispy thinks for a second and calls and the player to my right folds. $160 in the pot. The River is the 10 making a board of 10J7K10 and me a full house. I've got $80 left in front of me and I push it in. Wispy thinks for a good while and mutters aloud during his deliberations. When he finally he calls, I show my boat and another player asks to see his cards. But while the dealer is pushing me the pot, Wispy slides them in the muck. He mutters that the 10 was very lucky for me; implying that he had AQ or Q9 for a straight before the river. I kinda think he's lying.

In any case, Wispy is a little steamed. In the next hand, I'm one off the button. It's called for $4 in a couple places, including Wispy, before it gets back to me. I've got KK and I make it $15 to go. It's folded back to Wispy who raises to $50. The action gets back to me without any callers.

A little bit of a think here. I'm not folding, but the limp-raise suggests either strength or craziness. I figure there's an 80% chance he has a big ace, a 15% chance he's got a lower pair and a 5% chance he's got AA. So should I get all the money in right now? Maybe I should, but I can't pull the trigger. This is probably my first mistake.

I call the $50 and the flop is 872. Wispy leads out with a quick $100 bet. And I now I really need to think. To begin with, I didn't even know how much money I had in front of me when the hand started; I was still stacking chips when the cards were dealt. Second, I just doubled up off of Wispy. Do I really want to play for all my chips here? If I call the $100 bet, there will be $300 in the pot. After I finish stacking my chips, I realize I'll be down to $170 and be almost certainly compelled to call on the turn if Wispy, who still has me covered, puts me all-in. Third, I figure there's a 15% chance that Wispy had pocket 8s, 9s or As and a decent chance he's got a suited Ace. If that suit is clubs, he's got nine outs to the nut flush.

But I figure I'm ahead. So I know I can't fold even though I'm really not happy about playing for all the money here. So should I re-raise all-in? I probably should. The money's going in anyway and there's a small chance an all-in induces a fold here. But I can't do it. This is my biggest mistake and the reason why I'm not yet a good poker player. I'm too risk averse to push all the money in even when I figure I have the best of it. I'm too busy thinking about what it will feel like to lose back all that money to Wispy. I'm thinking about going from being up $120 to down $200.

So I just call the $100. The dealer turns a 3. Wispy goes all-in as I figured and I've got another $170 in front of me. I don't think long before putting the money in and Wispy looks crushed when I announce "Call."

The river is a J. Wispy won't show his cards so I say "I called you, what do you have." He says "Ace high," but still doesn't show. I flip over my Kings and Wispy mucks his hand. The dealer pushes me a pot of $640 and I've netted $500 in just under 10 minutes.

I barely played the rest of that session and left with my win in tact. Wispy busted out a few hands later but I wasn't even there to see it; I'd gotten up to take a walk and figure out what happened. Thinking about it now I realize that I got lucky my mistakes didn't cost me. And that it will probably be a long time, if ever, before I have the temperament needed to be a good poker player.

We are Industrial

July 08, 2007

Ev sings

Ev sings
Originally uploaded by goldtoe

July 06, 2007

Perceived Bigotry Coefficient

I was looking at the latest Newsweek poll (what's up 26% Bush approval rating!), and noticed a number of questions about how people feel about voting for minority candidates.

For example, 85% say they would vote for a woman if she were nominated by their party to be president. This, compared to 92% for a black candidate, 65% for a Mormon, 80% for a Hispanic.

When asked if they thought "America was ready for a woman president" 58% of respondents said "Yes." This, compared to 59% for a black candidate, 35% for a Mormon, 40% for a Hispanic.

The difference between the two number is interesting to compare. In some sense, you could divide the latter number by the former to come up with a "perceived bigotry" coefficient for each minority. It works out to .68 for women, .64 for blacks, .53 for Mormons and .50 for Hispanics.

What the perceived bigotry coefficient basically means is "however willing people say they are to accept you, you should multiply that value by the PBC to come up with what people believe other people are actually willing to accept."

One result is that even though Mormons have the lowest percentage of people who say America is ready for a Mormon president (35%), it's Hispanics who have the smallest PBC.

An important point is that the PBC is based on what other people perceive ... people don't think they're racist, but suspect others are.

July 03, 2007


Tony Snow's press briefing included a number of gems today.

Q: There are more than 3,000 current petitions for commutation ... Will all 3,000 of those be held to the same standard that the President applied to Scooter Libby?

MR. SNOW: I don't know.
Yeah, that's a 'no.' It's crazy that they won't even admit to special handling here.

On that point, and in honor of America's birthday, I would like to confess to my own special treatment at the hands of the criminal justice system.

It was twelve years ago, Independence Day 1995. I was sweating out my last few weeks in St. Louis before heading off to college. Aaron F., Andrew A. and I decided to celebrate America with Chinese black powder. So with TLC's Waterfalls on the radio, we headed out to Eureka, MO to buy a bunch of fireworks.

Fireworks are illegal in St. Louis County, so you need to go out to the boonies to buy them. As soon as you cross the county line you can stop at any number of air-conditioned Costco-sized fireworks megastores and load up on some serious artillery.

Well-equipped, we rode back in style to West County in Andrew's LeBaron convertible. And in the massive housing development of Seven Pines, we settled in with our explosives.

Our three lady companions (not girlfriends) were just barely willing to go along with this nonsense. But we had a grand old time setting off roman candles and the like in Andrew's cul-de-sac.

About an hour later, St. Louis County cops came blazing down the street right as we were setting off some bottle rockets. Andrew's crappy neighbors had ratted us out.

I took the lead in talking to the cops ... not that I had a particular negotiating ploy in mind. They informed me that we were busted for fireworks. I said "Ok."

I did manage to get our lady friends off the hook by pleading with him just to ticket us dudes. This blatantly sexist ploy went over well with the municipal employees of St. Louis County.

It looked like this was gonna be a big pain. Andrew, Aaron and I were all headed off to college out of state and we were being summoned to appear before Superior Court in the middle of fall semester.

But it turns out Andrew's uncle is a successful lawyer in St. Louis and he took our case on pro bono.

Over the course of the next couple months, I'd occasionally get type-written letters from his law firm informing me about progress on the case. One stated that he'd negotiated a plea whereby we could plead guilty to either jay-walking or littering (our choice) and get off the hook with a small fine. I wrote back to say that jay-walking was preferred as it seemed less evil.

A few more months passed, a few more notices from the County saying that a continuance had been granted in the case. And then in the spring of my freshman year, a note from the assistant district attorney. All charges had been dropped.

I think Andrew's uncle finally made the DA realize that the People's interests would be better served by prosecuting a different crime. Maybe one that wouldn't involve swapping paper for 9 months with a fancy attorney in private practice.

And so I was effectively Libbied - given special treatment because of my connections despite the transparency of the crime committed. But at least I can admit it.

So, Happy Birthday, America and congrats to you, Scooter! As we sang back in that hot summer in St. Louis, "I know that you're gonna have it your way / or nothing at all. / But I think you're moving too fast."