Monday, April 30, 2007

April Top 15

15. Rogue Wave - Temporary
14. Tom Petty - Into the Great Wide Open
13. Dolores O'Riordan - Ordinary Day
12. Bob Dylan - A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
11. Emmylou Harris - May This Be Love

10. Tom Petty - Learning to Fly
9. Pretty Girls Make Graves - Something Bigger, Something Brighter
8. INXS - Afterglow
7. Fountains of Wayne - Hey Julie
6. Nick Lowe - Cruel to be Kind

5. Indigo Girls - Closer to Fine
4. Rogue Wave - Bird on a Wire
3. Pink Floyd - Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-7)
2. Pink Floyd - One of These Days

Song of the Month: The Darkness - Givin' Up

Updated Nap/Moon Results

Session One, October 2006: 2.5 hrs, 25-50 NL, +$20,299
Session Two, April 2007: 1.5 hrs, 10-20 NL (6-max), -$8842

Friday, April 27, 2007

Ranking the Office Characters

The two television shows I watch consistently (other than poker and sports) are Survivor and The Office. Survivor has been so enthralling lately that I've had no choice but to blog about it. The Office is not quite in peak form right now, but it's still the finest show on television - and no, I still haven't watched The Wire. So The Office deserves some space on the blog as well. Here is my ranking of the show's characters, first to worst:

1. Jim
Jim is my all-time favorite television character. John Krasinsky is so convincing and likable as Jim, I cannot imagine his actual personality being any different. There’s just no way he could be anything but Jim in real life.

2. Jan
I like Jan’s severity. I like her vulnerability. But mostly, I think she’s really hot.

3. Creed
I don’t think a single line of Creed’s has ever been anything less than hysterical, including arguably the funniest segment in the show’s history – “Angela’s the office bitch…(offers handshake)…Creed.”

4. Toby
Maybe the best-acted of the secondary characters. Totally believable, sad, and hilarious – much like the show itself.

5. Roy
Transformed from a douchey stock villain to a round, dynamic emotional tour de force by season three.

6. Kevin
The only WSOP bracelet winner at Dunder-Mifflin.

7. Darryl
Darr-ulll! Dayhhhr-ulll!

8. Michael
A very difficult acting responsibility, deftly handled by Steve Carell – the only Emmy acting nominee in the show’s history. Making Michael believable and funny is the key to the show’s success. In the hands of a lesser actor, this character (and show) would be an over-the-top disaster.

9. Pam
I’d still like to see a little more development of Pam’s character, perhaps a gaze into her home life. She’s a bit underdeveloped for one of the show’s four main characters and its central dramatic figure.

10. Andy
A big joke on the show is that Andy went to Cornell. The funny thing is that in real life, Ed Helms went to Oberlin!

11. Karen
Amazing that a sexy, funny, sweet girl could be so low on this list – just a credit to the other characters.

12. Ryan
Seems to be losing momentum after a strong start. I think they need to do something with this character.

13. Stanley
An archetype, but a hilarious archetype.

14. Kelly
Everyone knows chicks like this. Funnier on tv than in real life.

15. Phyllis
An archetype, but a hilarious archetype.

16. Oscar
It’s so cool that Oscar’s gay. I totally underestimated him.

17. Meredith
Meredith is an alcoholic. Meredith is really horny. Meredith is an old, horny alcoholic. Funny – now give us more.

18. Dwight

Although I don’t really “believe” either of these characters could actually exist in real life, especially in a suburban office situation, their relationship is completely believable – and relationships are what the show is all about.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


This evening I decided to play some 10-20 NL online. There was no special reason for this; I was just bored and kinda felt like playing, so I did. This is probably how it will be in the future. I got off to a good start stacking good old alancheng86, treaded water for a bit, then I got bored and coolered and decided to quit after about 90 minutes, finishing up $2500.

The most notable thing about the session was how quickly I got bored and frustrated, despite not playing in weeks.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Message received from Napoleon at 12:30 PM a few nights ago:

Hey whatsup buddy. It's Nappy. Give me a call back man. I'm gonna come back to Colorado in like a week and a half, and we're just gonna fucking own, dude. Aight, later.

Napoleon/Moon joint session total results:

2.5 hrs, 25-50 NL, +$20,299

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Best Episode Ever

It's amazing to me that Survivor, in its 14th season, never really peaked until now. Until tonight, there had never been an episode that fully realized the show's potential. It took a special blend of character and circumstance to give us this sort of powerhouse. Thursday's twisty, betrayal-filled tour de force was probably the finest episode in the show's history. There have been many beautiful backstabbings, many cunning plans, many shattered alliances, and many cold-blooded vote-offs, but never before have the best of these psychological machinations come together in such a perfectly plotted climax.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Throughout my life, competitiveness has been one of my most salient characteristics. I'm so competitive that I often wonder if I'd be better off less so. I cannot enjoy playing a game unless there are elements of winning and losing, of outplaying the opponent. Last winter, I had to quit playing this pingpong variation my friends invented called "handgame" because I couldn't deal with having to restrain competitiveness for more cohesive game play (an essential characteristic of the game). When I play a game, the only way I care or know how to play it is all out. Play to win.

Sunday afternoon I played some nonchalant volleyball with a bunch of friends, and found myself getting extremely into it. Most of the other kids were having fun, taking it easy. I had no such option. I wanted to win every game, every point, and got a little upset at myself or anyone else whenever my team screwed up. This is the way it has always been for me, and I assume always will be.

I'm a short, scrawny kid with limited athleticism. I've always been obsessed with games and winning though, so I needed something extra to give me a chance to compete with the big boys. Competitiveness has always been my ace in the hole. In high school, I compensated for a lethargic off-season running regimen in cross country and track with raw grit during hard practices and at meets. At ultimate frisbee tournaments in college, I always played hard all four, occasionally five, games of the day, while most of the best players loafed or sat out the last couple games. During my poker career, I didn't put in near the hours of many of my adversaries. But when I did play, I played hard, I didn't screw around, and I always wanted to win. If I wasn't able to compete my hardest, I didn't play.

Sunday's volleyball game was my first competitive venture since retiring from poker. It was a jarring experience. I realized I have not been getting my proper competitive outlet dosage and I need to find some more consistent competitive pursuits. Running by myself and playing Magic the Gathering is not going to cut it. I'm positively overflowing with competitive juices right now and, basically, I miss owning people.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Boca Raton

I have been happier during the last three weeks than at any point during my poker career. In fact, this has been the happiest period of the last ten years of my life. The reasons for this are simple – I have been more adherent to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

During my career as a professional poker player, the bottom of this pyramid was not thoroughly satisfied. It is difficult to look after oneself without any semblance of consistency in surroundings, daily routine, or social organization. I now sleep in the same bed every night, go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time, start every day the same way, and watch Survivor and The Office every Thursday night. Perhaps most importantly of all, I get consistent exercise.

I have postulated many times that it is impossible for a physically and mentally healthy human to be unhappy if he/she eats, sleeps, and exercises properly and consistently. Outside of some sort of cataclysmic personal issue, I think this is the truth. Satisfying one’s most basic needs, and satisfying them well, is the key to life.

It helps that I have some things to do with myself. I am a lazy person, and spend several hours every day surfing the internet, watching tv, playing Magic The Gathering, etc, etc. I enjoy “wasting time.” But even the most ardent time-wasters must have some structure, some goals, some focus to make life worth living.

It is amazing how many tasks I had put on hold during the last year and a half. I’ve been knocking them off steadily the last few weeks, and still have many to go. I still don’t have health insurance, or contents insurance for my house. I still need to make an appointment for the dentist.

The hardest task to check off the list is the brewery. It may never get checked off the list. Right now I estimate the chances of anything real actually coming out of this at 50%. The brewery project brings guidance to my life. A sharp twenty-something mind like my own overflows with energy; it’s important to direct this energy towards something meaningful. Without the brewery project – or perhaps just the mirage of a “meaningful” project – I would quickly go insane.

The fourth level of the Hierarchy of Needs is Esteem, including self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, and respect by others. Above this, at the top of the pyramid, is the self-actualization level which includes creativity and problem solving. I have done a nice job shoring up the first three levels of the pyramid, but find the top a little more challenging. Poker was a wonderful outlet for my creativity and overwhelming competitivity. I always hated it becoming my identity though, and eventually I was swallowed up by self-loathing and self-pity when this identity became that of a loser instead of a winner. I had to "quit" poker, more so in terms of an identity disattachment than actually playing the game less - though I have only played twice (the Sunday tournaments) the last three weeks.

Ultimately, removing poker entirely from my life is both impossible and undesirable. I love the game too much. I still discuss the game with my friends as much as I did when I was a "professional", maybe even more. I still eagerly watch poker on television (new episode of WPT tonight!) I follow the tournaments online, my homepage is still, and I relentlessly read poker blogs and hand histories in search of a deeper understanding of the game.

I do not know poker's role in my future. I do know:
  • I will play when I want to and can afford to do so
  • I will play the main event at the 2007 WSOP, and hopefully every year the rest of my life
  • I love playing deepstack tournament poker
  • I'm better at no limit hold em than all but the top tier or two of professionals, and believe I am still a significant favorite at any table 10-20 or lower

Whether or not I am still a "professional poker player" is unclear and remains to be decided. I do believe that if am able to satisfy life's most important needs, my poker results will have little say in who I am.

Make it Electric

My eighth "official" mix, "Make it Electric" is now complete and available for distribution. I'll post a track listing as a comment to this post, to hide it if you don't want spoilers. If you want the mix, tell me and I can file transfer it or send you a CD.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

How Come No One Believes Me When I Say I'm Retired?

JohnDoe (2:43:18 PM): yo
ThomMarsFull (2:43:43 PM): yo
JohnDoe (2:44:01 PM): so what are your plans now that you arent playing?
JohnDoe (2:46:28 PM): nothing?
ThomMarsFull (2:47:45 PM): starting a microbrewery
JohnDoe (2:47:50 PM): is that for real
JohnDoe (2:47:52 PM): or a joke
ThomMarsFull (3:07:18 PM): for real
JohnDoe (3:07:36 PM): i guess i dont understand what that mean
JohnDoe (3:07:37 PM): means
JohnDoe (3:07:43 PM): you are going to attempt to make your own beer?
ThomMarsFull (3:07:56 PM): a business

Friday, April 06, 2007

Handicapping the Remaining Survivors

As usual, I'm fired up for Survivor. Last night's episode featured one of the all-time great "semi-intentional" comedy moments that make the show so watchable (the Rocky allusion), one truly hysterical clueless moment (Lisi bragging about her perceptiveness moments after the immunity idol was discovered a few feet away from her sleeping body), and a vintage mental meltdown (Lisi, one week after Rocky did the same). Now that those two idiots have been removed, the tribes are ready to merge, and as Chau Giang would say, "The game is on."

Here is my rundown of the odds each remaining castaway has at winning the first prize, along with Bodog's odds:
Earl - 2.5:1 (Bodog odds - 1:1)
Although Earl is one of the strongest Survivors in recent memory, has complete control of his tribe, will be a tough out in the individual challenges down the stretch, and has a 50% share of an immunity idol, 1:1 is going overboard. With so many tough competitors remaining there is no way Earl is even money to take this thing down.
Alex - 3:1 (Bodog - 7:1)
This Ethan clone and Sole Survivor prototype has everything necessary to win the million. The only problem is he is on a disintegrating tribe heading into the merge with a numbers disadvantage. It will be interesting to see if Alex can make a move to seduce a couple players, perhaps Stacy and Cassandra.

Yau-Man - 4:1 (Bodog - 3:1)
The Yau has already proven to be one of the most resourceful players in the game's history. He may already have this thing by the balls only we don't know it yet. DNFWYAU.

Michelle - 5:1 (Bodog - 13:1)
I like Michelle's game a lot. The unabrasive, attractive, good-naturedly-scheming girl has a long history of success in Survivor, and Michelle plays the part to perfection. She has never been mentioned as a possible victim, and likely won't for at least a few more weeks. I think she's almost a lock for the final five. Then life becomes more difficult as she has to dig in to get to the vote and then convince a jury she is worthy of the mil. Michelle will have to prove she is deserving, where Becky failed so miserably last season.

Edgardo - 7:1 (Bodog - 7:1)
Strong, confident, and rational, but not as articulate as Alex or Earl.

Boo - 10:1 (Bodog - 10:1)
Boo appears to have a little bit of game, a little bit of athleticism, and a decent support network. The problem is, there are players in the game with a LOT of these qualities, and he will probably eventually get offed by either the Michelle/Earl braintrust or the Alex/Edgardo alliance.

Stacy - 15:1 (Bodog - 11:1)
I question Stacy's ability to win a jury vote. She might (too early to tell, really) have the game needed to make some big moves and could potentially slip into the final four, but no one really seems to like or respect her.

Mookie - 18:1 (Bodog - 8:1)
Mookie may already be drawing dead, as his charmless personality might give him no chance at beating anyone in a final vote.
Dreamz - 20:1 (Bodog - 7:1)
Anyone who is betting Dreamz at 7:1 at this point should have their head examined. One of the least cerebral players in Survivor history, Dreamz has no alliance possibilities down the line, no immunity idol, no sign of craftiness, no eloquence for the jury, and no shot.

Cassandra - 25:1 (Bodog - 3:1)
I can only assume these Bodog odds are a misprint. Cassandra fits the profile of the typical useless unobjectionable coattail-rider who has no shot at first place.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Even the Losers

Jaheed said...
If you are out to find signs, you will find signs.

After I came to the realization that I was the worst player on the professional poker tournament circuit, three different friends mentioned the name Allen "Chainsaw" Kessler as a possible suitor to that prestigious title. While I deny those claims - the 'Saw has a couple WSOP final tables and many more big buy-in cashes than I - his play does compare to mine, particularly in short-stack mode. After two days at the Wynn, we were both extremely short (although not as short as eventual 2nd place finisher Ted Lawson) and made a 10% save, even.

With the help of lots of good cards, some solid tournament strategy, dodged draws, several won coinflips, a slew of big pairs holding up against big-but-lower pairs including a good old fashioned aces vs kings and big pair blind battle, a nice bluff against Nam the Machine and a few favorable situations, the Chainsaw has made the WPT final table at the Foxwoods Poker Classic (albeit riding the familiar short stack) and is guaranteed at least $140k.

I was driving home this afternoon after a meeting with my accountant and financial advisor and the Tom Petty song "Even the Losers" came on 99.5 the Mountain.

Baby, even the losers get lucky sometimes
Even the losers keep a little bit of pride
Yeah, they get lucky sometimes

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Skill-based Tournaments Featuring a High Degree of Luck and Variance

"There was a stretch [from 2001 to '05] where we were getting knocked out of tournaments early [despite a high seed], and then we win two national championships," Donovan said. "I haven't figured that much out. I'm working hard. I love the game..."

Monday, April 02, 2007

Five Critical Incidents That Led To My Retirement

There was a time when I was a very successful poker player. I believed I would steadily improve, and find greater and greater fortune and glory every passing year. I would eventually win televised tournaments and become a millionaire. As recently as three months ago, I still believed this would happen. Nine months ago, I was close to certain that it would.

Today, I am seriously considering ending any sort of serious relationship I have with the game and moving on to a new career. At this moment in time, I no longer consider myself a professional poker player. I am more or less retired (perhaps resigned is more apt) and ready to focus my attention on a different path. Many different events led to my current state of mind: here are the five most pertinent, in chronological order.

1. The K2 Incident, July 5, 2006
I threw away more than $100k in equity in the WSOP 5k event with two random, uncharacteristic bluffs. I came over the top of Vinnie Vinh with 83 offsuit, eventually losing a large pot, and later shoved on the tightest player at the table with K2 suited, doubling up his pocket kings, before expiring in 11th.

2. Paul's 2nd place at the WSOP Main Event, August 10, 2006
This led to the Fish leaving town and establishing permanent residency in Vegas. It wasn't like I was alone without poker friends or anything after this, but it did mean that Paul was no longer right down the road - or right down the hall - to discuss the game. Paul was always the best to talk poker with, since he was the only guy I knew who actually liked the game as much or more than me. When Paul moved to Vegas, my sessions became a little less interested and a little less inspired. It also meant I no longer had someone to consistently crush/taunt/laugh at on the frisbee golf course, which always put me in a relaxed, confident mood before a session. Further, the whole thing may or may not have created psychological hurdles that I've never been able to overcome. Paul's 2nd place at the WSOP was the most exciting day of my life, and did lead to the purchase of my home (the best thing I will take away from the last two years), so I'm not complaining, just noting.

3. The Frist Fistfuck, October 13, 2006
Bill Frist's last-minute attachment of the UIGEA to the Port Security Act sent PartyPoker, where I made about half a million dollars, to the rail and made online poker much more difficult.

4. Lost Races at the Bellagio, December 2006
I played six of the Five Diamond preliminary events and made the final two tables three times in fields of 378, 519, and 367 players. But I went card dead on all three occasions at the wrong time, lost a couple key coinflips, and never made a final table. Not only were these financial missed opportunities, but this stretch also reinforced a disturbing, nagging voice whispering that I am cursed in tournaments.

5. The Eight Percenter, January 27, 2007
The ridiculous AJo to AA beat in the closing moments of day two at the Borgata Winter Poker Open began the 2007 downward spiral that eventually led to my retirement. For whatever reason, my cash game results went down the tubes not long after that beat and I never recovered.

I did everything right in that tournament, save for a misclick-influenced overplay/cooler against Scott Fischman. I clawed and scrapped hour upon hour. I do not have a single regret from that second day at the Borgata - I do believe it was a flawless session.

The worst part about this beat was the devastating, mythical, psychological malaise that it confirmed: I am cursed in poker tournaments, and it is not in my destiny to win. Furthermore, playing with great effort, focus, and determination will only lead to a more painful exit. Once, I believed I was a lucky poker player. Today, I believe just the opposite. The Dale Morrow 2-outer in Tunica, the sickening AK to AQ 50k pot lost on day 2 of the 2006 WSOP, and especially this beat crushed my will to succeed. Most importantly, these beats erased my faith in the game. I no longer believe that if I try my hardest, a higher power will see to it that I succeed in poker. You cannot succeed without faith in yourself and what you do. My faith in poker is gone.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Yes, I Do Believe it is Over

Jaheed said...
If you are out to find signs, you will find signs.

I played four of the Sunday tourneys today, and struck out. I made a run in each but crapped out short of the money in all four. This was the cruelest exit:

PokerStars Game #9205244605: Tournament #45992551, $200+$15 Hold'em No Limit - Level VII (100/200) - 2007/04/01 - 20:12:30 (ET)
Table '45992551 110' 9-max Seat #8 is the button
Seat 1: TenthPlanet (3334 in chips)
Seat 2: Menyook (10830 in chips)
Seat 3: fancy_girl_1 (7110 in chips)
Seat 4: Sage Phantom (4046 in chips)
Seat 5: sh00ter (1796 in chips)
Seat 6: bahhur (8410 in chips)
Seat 7: drew3xddd (8477 in chips)
Seat 8: feldliss (2855 in chips)
Seat 9: CREEPY81 (3646 in chips)
TenthPlanet: posts the ante 10
Menyook: posts the ante 10
fancy_girl_1: posts the ante 10
Sage Phantom: posts the ante 10
sh00ter: posts the ante 10
bahhur: posts the ante 10
drew3xddd: posts the ante 10
feldliss: posts the ante 10
CREEPY81: posts the ante 10
CREEPY81: posts small blind 100
TenthPlanet: posts big blind 200
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Sage Phantom [9h 9d]
Menyook: folds
fancy_girl_1: folds
Sage Phantom: raises 313 to 513
sh00ter: folds
bahhur: folds
drew3xddd: raises 1487 to 2000
feldliss: folds
CREEPY81: folds
TenthPlanet: folds
Sage Phantom: calls 1487

Obvious stop n go spot.

*** FLOP *** [9s 2d 8d]

Well now I can't stop n go can I?

Sage Phantom: checks
drew3xddd: bets 2600
Sage Phantom: calls 2036 and is all-in
*** TURN *** [9s 2d 8d] [5d]
*** RIVER *** [9s 2d 8d 5d] [Kd]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Sage Phantom: shows [9h 9d] (a flush, King high)
drew3xddd: shows [Qh Ad] (a flush, Ace high)
drew3xddd collected 8462 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 8462 Rake 0
Board [9s 2d 8d 5d Kd]
Seat 1: TenthPlanet (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 2: Menyook folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: fancy_girl_1 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: Sage Phantom showed [9h 9d] and lost with a flush, King high
Seat 5: sh00ter folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: bahhur folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: drew3xddd showed [Qh Ad] and won (8462) with a flush, Ace high
Seat 8: feldliss (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 9: CREEPY81 (small blind) folded before Flop