Sunday, May 30, 2010

Event #3 1k NL

I won almost all of the pots I played today, except for the ones that were all-in preflop. The races killed me.

I did feel very comfortable playing today. I consider myself more of a "live pro" than an "online pro" at this point.

Something terrible has already happened out here. I will discuss it when matters are closer to resolved. Other than that things seem to be settling quickly. It feels as if I have already been in Vegas for a couple weeks. It could be a long summer.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Old Shoe: 2010 WSOP Preview

I secretly love Las Vegas. I maintain a negative exterior because I graduated from a liberal college and live in the Republic of Boulder where it’s unfashionable to enjoy a place as inorganic as Vegas. But I do love it. I even love it in the summertime.

I love walking outside into 115 degree heat. I love walking around at night in sandals and shorts. I love staring at an endless sky of blue day after day. I don’t mind xeriscapes. I prefer the Vegas skyline to any other.

I didn’t always love Las Vegas. I still hate the traffic, the wastefulness, the con artists. But I’ve become familiar with the place. It’s my second home. I’m starting to figure it out. I know where things are. I know a lot of great restaurants. I know what music sounds best driving around town in the summer. I know what I like to do: eat, drink, work out, go to movies, eat, and drink. It didn't always fit, but the whole Vegas Summer Experience has slowly become familiar and comfortable.

Mostly, I love living in a completely extreme place devoted to gambling for six weeks every year. I love the purpose, the organization, the routine the WSOP brings. And the best time is right now, before you take bad beats, before the frustration, brimming with anticipation, looking forward. Endless possibilities.

This will be my sixth World Series of Poker.

I’ve had good WSOPs and bad ones. I’ve played with confidence and with trepidation. I’ve made a final table, I’ve bubbled final tables, I’ve squeaked into the money, I’ve built chip leads and blown them. I’ve worn the Golden Sombrero. I’ve gone into the WSOP on highs and lows. I’ve emerged from it on highs and lows (mostly lows). I have watched others disintegrate around me, and I have disintegrated myself. I’ve played dozens of games of credit card roulette. At the WSOP, I have made friends and I have lost friends. I have even fallen in love.

There are three big things I have never done at the WSOP:

1. I haven’t won a bracelet
2. I haven’t cashed in the main event
3. I haven’t found a bar that a) isn’t a club b) has good beer and c) isn’t cluttered with video poker machines

I have experienced the WSOP enough times to know that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re not playing your best in your 12th NLHE of the summer, you’re losing value. I know what I need to do to prepare myself each day to play. I also know that far more than anything else, my fate will be determined by luck. You can’t will yourself to results, not in this game. All you can do is play well and hope for the best. Predicting poker results is pointless.

But the WSOP isn’t just about poker results, it’s about attaching memories to those results. You see the same patterns every summer in Vegas, certain things that seem to be repeated every WSOP. The script stays the same; only the names change. It’s easier to speculate on these subjects than it is to predict results, to answer questions like:

What will be the hottest temperature reached during the WSOP?

The over/under on this one is 116 fahrenheit – and about ten degrees hotter in the Rio convention center parking lot.

What will “The Song” be?

Every summer there is a song the Vegas casinos adopt en masse, a song that seemingly gets played four times as often as any other. Recent examples of The Song: “Holiday” by Green Day in 2005 (though this was really a two-tiered attack with Kelly Clarkson’s “Behind These Hazel Eyes”; RHCP’s Dani California in 2006; and Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody” last year.

There are a lot of possibilities for “The Song” this summer. I like Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” to make a run at the title this year.

How many times will I eat a meal at an Asian restaurant?

I love Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, and Korean food; I am making it a goal to investigate restaurants I’ve never been to in Vegas; our house is a couple miles west of the Rio, not far from Chinatown; WSOP dinner breaks are 90 minutes; the Lotus of Siam is probably my favorite restaurant in the world and Ping Pang Pong is in the top ten; everyone loves Korean barbecue; pho is the best possible thing to eat during poker tournaments; sushi boats. I’m not going to let the roommates hold me back on this one anymore. The over/under here is 17.

Will the NBA Finals be watchable?

This one seems unlikely, as almost any game involving the Celtics, Lakers, or Magic is difficult to stomach. On the other hand, the Phoenix Suns could be the most likable NBA team of the last decade, so any Finals with them involved will be too compelling to miss.

Which roommate will I punch in the face?

I am actually expecting this to be a very low-key living experience, with five dudes (two married, one in a LTR) who seem to care about poker and nothing else right now. Chances are there won’t be much drama, much less any physical altercations, but PiMaster is a slight favorite here.

What will be the best summer movie?

With an intriguing concept, first-rate director, sterling cast, and staggering special effects, you can almost guarantee Inception will be a winner.

Which random longtime pro will win two bracelets out of nowhere?

Thomas Fuller seems like a good candidate for this one, I must say.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

LOST Denoument

The LOST series finale was acceptable. This wasn't television entertainment of the highest magnitude, but then, it rarely was.

LOST came very close to being something special, but could never overcome one fundamental flaw which was again ferociously exposed during the series finale:

Jack Shephard was a lousy protagonist. The character was too boring, too unlikable, too flat, and too poorly-acted to carry the show. LOST never should have been greenlit with Jack/Matthew Fox as the lead, but once the show found success, there was no turning back. Jack is the obvious scapegoat, but in truth, the Season One cast paled in comparison to the actors/characters that became part of LOST as it advanced. The characters and actors added to the show after the first season were more formidable than their predecessors.

Imagine, for a moment, LOST without Jack, with someone like Daniel Faraday/Jeremy Davies as the lead. Imagine the show with Ana Lucia/Michelle Rodriguez, Sawyer/Josh Holloway, Juliet/Elizabeth Mitchell, Sayid/Naveen Andrews, and Locke/Terry O'Quinn at its core from beginning to end.

In the end - the beginning, middle, and truly, the end - the initial creative and casting mistakes kept the show from realizing its dizzying potential. From its inception, LOST was doomed to remain in purgatory.

LOST: Season Recaps

Season One

It’s easy to forget now, but LOST’s formative year was spent a) developing characters through flashbacks and b) watching them battle the elements of the Island. Much of the show’s drama came from their day to day battle to survive.

Rating: 8/10

Season Two

’s second season surpassed the first in almost every way. Taut from start to finish, Season Two answered plenty of questions while asking even more. Season Two balanced suspense, intrigue, character development, and action more efficiently than any other.

Rating: 9/10

Season Three

This is where things started to fall apart. The writers strike clearly took a toll on this season. The tension ratcheted up the first two seasons fell off a bit while The Island grew cloudier but no more enthralling. Solid performances from Josh Holloway, Evangeline Lilly, Elizabeth Mitchell, Michael Emerson, and Dominic Monaghan helped keep the ship afloat.

Rating: 7/10

Season Four

Season Four was an unmitigated disaster. Short and bitter, Season Four completely lost sight of the values that made LOST successful in the first place. The fourth season eschewed mystery for weaponry, intrigue for violence. It’s best to pretend Season Four never happened.

Rating: 4/10

Season Five

The Season Four debacle was quickly washed away by a surprisingly engaging 16-episode run through time. The smartest thing done in Season Five was minimizing the roles of some tired characters (Jack, Ben Linus) while bringing the more compelling/better acted ones (Sawyer, Juliet) to the forefront.

Rating: 7/10

Season Six

In the end, Season Six will be remembered only for the finale. Which might be a shame, because Six has been the series’ most consistently exciting season. Where other seasons wasted our time with pointless subplots or insipid characters, Six has eliminated the fluff and cut straight to the bone. But it will all come down to what happens tonight.

Rating: N/A

Friday, May 21, 2010

LOST: The Ten Best Episodes

10. Through The Looking Glass (Season Three Ep 22, Season Finale)

Not Penny’s Boat.

9. The Incident (Season Five, Ep 16, Season Finale)

The prototypical LOST season finale: introduce a new layer of intrigue, answer a few questions, kill someone off, and add a new character to replace him/her.

8. Numbers (Season One, Ep 18)

4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42

7. The Other 48 Days (Season Two, Ep 7)

Would have had more impact if Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Watros weren’t booted off the show after their Hawaii DUIs.

6. Ab Aeterno (Season Six, Ep 9)

The Richard Alpert episode.

5. Orientation (Season Two, Ep 3)

We’re gonna need to watch that again.

4. Exodus, Part 2 (Season One, Ep 23, Season Finale)

Only the thing is, we're just gonna have to take the boy.

3. Pilot (Season One, Ep 1)

Guys, this isn’t just a bear…it’s a polar bear.

2. Live Together, Die Alone (Season Two, Ep 23, Season Finale)

The explosive climax to the show’s most riveting season.

1. Man of Science, Man of Faith (Season Two, Ep 1)

I’ll see you in another life, brother.

LOST: The Ten Hottest Actresses

10. Emilie de Ravin

9. Yunjin Kim

8. Zuleikha Robinson

7. Cynthia Watros

6. Kiele Sanchez

5. Julie Bowen

4. Evangeline Lilly

3. Elizabeth Mitchell

2. Maggie Grace

1. Sonya Walger

Thursday, May 20, 2010

LOST: The Ten Most Monstrous Villains

10. Goodwin

9. Anthony Cooper

8. Mr. Paik

7. Mikhail



4. Charles Widmore

3. Martin Keamy

2. Ben Linus

1. Man in Black

LOST: The Ten Best Actors

10. Terry O'Quinn

9. John Terry

8. Elizabeth Mitchell

7. Kevin Durand

6. Michael Emerson

5. Alan Dale

4. Jeremy Davies

3. Naveen Andrews

2. Michelle Rodriguez

1.Lance Reddick

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

LOST: The Ten Best Characters (SPOILER ALERT)

10. Danielle Rousseau

9. Mikhail Bakunin

8. Matthew Abaddon

7. Desmond Hume

6. John Locke

5. Richard Alpert

4. James "Sawyer" Ford

3. Charles Widmore

2. Jacob

1. Man in Black