Monday, January 31, 2005

What a day.....or.....How to get out of jury duty without really trying!

I awoke this morning in a panic. I thought I had slept through the alarm. My panic soon turned to anger when I realized I was up a full two minutes before the alarm was set to go off. I could have gotten a lot of sleeping done in those two minutes. Finally the alarm did go off and I just stayed in bed. Why was I getting up at 7:30 a.m. on my day off anyway? Then I remembered the reason for this insanity. I had JURY DUTY!!!

Actually I was supposed to serve my time back in December but I was in an unfortunate drug induced state caused by a back injury and I forget to call in at the appointed time. Turns out I had to report to the courthouse that afternoon but had totally missed it. Luckily, instead of putting out a warrant for my arrest, the jury commissioner allowed me to pick another week in which to complete my time.

So, fast forward to Saturday night when I remembered I needed to check-in for the first time. I pulled up the county court web-site and couldn’t believe what I saw. Everyone in group #102 was required to report to Superior Court at 8:30 a.m. I double checked my group number only to realize that I was indeed in group 102. Damn it! I have nothing against jury duty. I see it as one of those things I have to do every year whether I want to or not, like washing my car or seeing my gynecologist. Plus, in all the years I have been summoned to jury duty, only one other time have I had to report to the courthouse. That time I sat in the jury room for two hours only to be told that a plea bargain had been reached and my services were no longer needed. I was hoping for a similar resolution this time but wasn't holding my breath.

I finally stumbled out of bed only to realize that I wasn’t feeling so good. I was nauseated and had an ache in my side. I decided the court probably wouldn’t appreciate it if I called in sick but I did decide against eating breakfast, just in case it was the stomach flu or some other illness that would cause food to rebel against me.

The ride to court was uneventful. I found parking with no problem and entered the courthouse about ten minutes early. Since I had decided to leave my deadly nail clippers at home, I had no problems getting through security and proceeded to follow the signs to the jury room.

The jury room was fairly big with some of the worst art I have ever seen, displayed on the walls. In describing it, all I can really say is that the artist must really love brown. After checking in and finding out I was part of panel 16, I took a seat in a small area near the restrooms.

I knew from past experience that jury duty consisted of a lot of waiting so I started to read the book I had brought. I was a few minutes into it when I started to feel really sick. I seriously didn’t know whether I was going to throw-up or pass out but I knew that standing up wasn’t an option. I tapped the lady sitting a couple seats down from me on the shoulder and asked her to notify the clerk that I thought I was going to pass out. I really don’t think she wanted to get involved but she did what I asked and then promptly disappeared to another area of the room where she could continue to ignore everyone around her.

The next few minutes are a little fuzzy but I remember the security guard asking me if I had any medical history that caused this sort of thing. I replied no but suddenly remembered that what I was feeling was similar to what happened to me every time I gave blood. Five minutes after cookies and juice I usually hit the floor. Last time the Red Cross informed me that they didn’t need my blood that badly so I really didn’t need to donate again. This was when the court clerk informed me that she had the power to dismiss me from serving although, thinking about it now, I don’t think she meant for all time like the Red Cross did. As it turned out I didn’t need her powers anyway, my group was discharged a few minutes later.

I eventually got myself home where I have tried to continue with my normal Monday routine. I still feel like I've been kicked in the stomach but I managed to cash in the $1 tournament at Paradise for the second day in a row. Maybe jury duty isn't so bad after all.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

What was I thinking?

This was inspired by a couple of posts written by two poker bloggers whom I greatly respect.

This is not the first blog I have ever had. Sometime last year I started my first blog after being inspired by my friend Maura and remembering that I used to write all the time when I was younger. As I grew older I developed new interests and the time that I spent writing dwindled down to nothing. This blogging thing was an opportunity to rekindle my old passion for writing and I jumped at the chance. So, "April’s Addictions" was developed as a place to rant about all the things that occupied my life.

As I have stated before, I started playing poker last summer at the end of hockey season. I never expected poker to become a big part of my life but as the rumored hockey lock-out became a reality, I found myself playing a lot more poker and actually enjoying it. In an effort to learn more about the game, I started searching for information on-line. I found web-sites, books, and, eventually, Iggy’s blog. It was also around that time that I wrote my first poker related post on my blog.

After a few more weeks I realized that I wanted to write about poker a lot more but I didn’t feel that “April’s Addictions” was where I wanted to write it. I had a few regular readers and I didn’t want them to feel obligated to read a bunch of poker posts if they had no interest in the game. So, last October, I started thinking about creating a new blog that would mostly be dedicated to poker. In November I thought of a name and reserved it on Blogger with the intention of writing my first post after Thanksgiving. Let’s just say that my life got a bit “dramatic” right after Thanksgiving and I decided to put off that first post until things settled down a bit.

In the meantime, I started clicking random links on Iggy’s site. From there I bookmarked my favorites and continued to check-in on them daily to read about what was going on in the poker blogger world. When the Vegas trip reports started coming in I discovered even more poker blogs and also started to realize that this was more then just a bunch of people who happen to have a shared interest. I realized that these people had become friends and had formed a fun little poker community. I think I was a little envious and, at one point, was probably thinking about how I could get the “cool kids” to notice me. That’s when I realized it was like my school days all over again. When I was a kid I thought that being popular would bring me instant happiness. I almost destroyed myself in my efforts to fit in. At this point I considered nixing the poker blog idea completely because I was no longer sure of my true motives.

Then, something happened, I placed 16th in a tournament of around 1500 players. I was excited and wanted to share. The template for my new blog had been chosen so all I had to do was post. It was too easy. I decided to forge ahead and start my poker blog. I also decided that I needed to add a few links. I added the non-poker blogs first because Maura and Kevin were supporters of my first blog. (Wil got listed because I’ve been reading his blog since before I knew what a blog was.)

But, when it came to adding poker blogs, I wasn't sure who I should include. I decided to just started with the ones I was being drawn to every day although I realized most of them are considered the founding fathers of poker bloggers and it could look like I was sucking up or trying to gain acceptance by the “cool kids". What happened next was a shock. Iggy became the first person to comment on my new blog. Then Iggy, and later Pauly, pimped me on their blogs. After that, I noticed a few people had also linked to me. People were actually reading what I had to say. To say I started to get nervous would be an understatement but I also realized my nervousness didn’t stem from a desire to be one of the “cool kids”. It stemmed from a desire to be respected by a group of people I consider to be very talented writers and poker players. Trust me when I say there is a big difference between the two.

See, once upon a time, I was a “cool kid” and let me tell you, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. The entire time I was popular I knew that one false move would find me out on my ass like a piece of garbage nobody wanted around. It was way too much pressure for me to take and I eventually pissed off the wrong person. That was the last time I played “follow the leader” and I haven’t regretted it once. I wasn’t myself during that period of my life, I was whatever I needed to be to belong and, after that, it took me a long time to figure out who I really was.

After reading the recent posts that drove me to write this, I reflected on those years of my life and my reasons for starting this blog. I needed to know if my posts were coming from some hidden part of me that still wants to be accepted by the “cool kids” or if they were coming from the me that I discovered over the past few years. The "happy with my life" part of me. As I re-read my posts I realized that they truly were from my heart. I meant every word of every line and nothing I wrote was an attempt to be anything other then myself. So, if I happen to get some respect or acceptance from other members of the poker blogging community I will consider it to be an added bonus but, as long as this blog represents my true self and not the me that wants to be a part of the “cool crowd”, I’ll be happy. That’s all I’ve ever wanted out of life to begin with.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Filling the void

I started playing poker last summer. Hockey season was over and I needed something to fill the void left by the completion of the Stanley Cup finals. Since I had become a big fan of televised poker tournaments, I decided to give Texas Hold’em a shot. I signed up for Party Poker and immediately started messing around on the play money tables. Of course they eventually gave me some free money to try out the real tables with and, over the next few days, I shared that generous gift with several other poker players. It didn’t matter because I was having fun and, since hockey season was starting soon (yes, I was delusional), I wouldn’t have much time for poker.

Soon summer gave way to fall and my excitement over a new hockey season gave way to frustration as it became obvious that the NHL and the NHLPA weren’t going to get their act together and bust out a new contract. It was then that I realized I wasn’t going to be spending my nights at the HP Pavilion watching my beloved San Jose Sharks bring home the Stanley Cup for the first time. It was a heartbreaking moment that could only be helped by doing something fun so I started up the computer and hit the poker tables.

Since then I have graduated to the real money tables and have discovered a wonderful community of poker bloggers. I have discovered a new passion to fill the empty spaces left by two men acting like children (paging Goodenow and Bettmen) and I am having a good time in the process.

So, what happens if hockey comes back? I honestly don’t know but I’m sure that when I get ready to cross that bridge I’ll figure something out. Until then, you can find me at the poker tables under screen name April98.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Decisions, decisions!

My bankroll is not growing. I believe I have hit, what in weight loss is called, a plateau. I reach a certain monetary amount and the poker gods say "no more winning for you". Usually at about the +20 dollar mark is when everything comes to a standstill. I'll lose a few bucks, then get it back only to lose it again when I get close to getting +21 dollars. The past 2 days it seems as if I have suffered more bad beats than is the norm for micro-limit (since we all know that on-line poker is rigged, this makes sense). I mean I can't win with anything and it feels as if I may be at a crossroads but I am not really sure what the right move is. I guess I can start by examining the wrong moves. I can't move up in limit, I don't have the bankroll to support .25/.50. I can't move to no limit because I am not comfortable there and I think I would be way to passive. So what options am I left with?

I could take a closer look at my table selection. I usually look for a table where about 50% of the players are paying to see the flop. Less than that seems too tight and more seems too loose. The problem is that the turnaround on these tables can be fast. The table I sat down at 15 minutes ago could be completely different in another 5 minutes. Sometimes even quicker than that and I may not really notice the change until my buy-in is gone.

Another thing I could do is pack up the bankroll and move it onto another site. Poker Stars and Ultimate Bet both have micro-limit tables, as do some of the other sites I have played on before. I could choose one and see what happens. Of course there is no guarantee that I would do any better on another site.

Of course I could also take a break for a day or two and then try again on Paradise. That would be the easiest option but I don't know that it would be the best option. As much as I like the site, I am getting really bored and boredom could be the root of my problem. I play the same type of player, the same way, every time I play. I am paying less and less attention to what is happening in between the hands that I actually play.

So, is it boredom, table selection, just plain old bad luck, or that thing called variance that I have heard so much about? I honestly wish I knew.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Have you ever.....

....spent 2 hours qualifying for a tournament just to realize that you can't actually play in said tournament because you already have plans for that night?

Friday, January 21, 2005

What Was I Thinking?

I just re-read my last post and it put me to sleep. Not exactly the type of material I had in mind when I started this blog but writing is not my greatest skill. That's actually another reason I started a blog, so I could improve my writing. I remember when I was young I loved to write. I was really into scary stories and even had one published in a yearly school publication. It was something about a young girl who was dared by her friends to go into this haunted house and they never saw her again. I don't think it was a very developed story but for fifth grade it was okay. As a matter of fact, I lot of my stories weren't fully developed. I would have a good beginning but somewhere around the middle it would start to fall apart and then I would end it because I didn't know what else to do or got bored with it.

Then came my high school years and, along with them, a lot of bad poetry. I mean truly, horrible and depressing poetry. Stuff about voids of darkness and the pain of always being alone. As you can tell, I did not enjoy high school very much but I survived and eventually stopped torturing myself with bad verse. After that I only wrote when a grade depended on it. Even so, in my college English class I managed to put together an essay that not only was chosen to be read to the entire class, but also was kept as an example to be used for future classes. Not to shabby for something I threw together the night before.

Anyway, if your still reading this you may be wondering why the hell I am sharing this information. It's because I want this blog to be the best it can be and to achieve that I'll have to experiment a bit to see what works and what doesn't ( I promise, no bad poetry). What I would really appreciate is some feedback from you, my loyal readers. If you have a suggestion, critique, or just want to say you like what you are reading, please feel free to leave me a comment or drop me an e-mail (as soon as I figure out how to link my e-mail address to the blog).

***Obligatory poker content: My thanks go out to a couple of my fellow poker bloggers as last night I finally found the blogger table at Party Poker. Next time I might actually say hello!

Monday, January 17, 2005

Laundry Day

Monday at my house is fairly routine. I get up, eat, watch some TV, do my laundry, and play some poker. My favorite is the 1 p.m. dollar tournament at Paradise Poker. This is a no limit tournament with no cap on the number of players and almost all the money going into the prize pool. Usually it draws around 1500 people and today was no exception.

I've played in this tournament several times in the past few weeks but haven't made it to the first break since my 16th place finish a couple of weeks ago. My goal for today was to make that first break and then make it into the money. At least I accomplished half of my goals.

The tournament started well for me. A few hands in I was dealt 99 in early position and decided to call. The button raised but not enough to get me to fold. On the flog I caught a set and try to set a trap so I check. The button makes a good sized bet and I call, all others fold. We see the turn and it pairs up the board, now I have a full house and my objective is to get all my money into the pot. I knew I had to let him make the first move so I checked again. My opponent bets 500 and I raise to 1000. He re-raises me all-in and I call. The river is another rag and I rake in a killer pot. He had called me with high pair so he must have thought I was bluffing.

So now I am in good position to make the first break and I start folding almost everything (wasn't getting much anyway) until I get KK in middle position. After the flop showed all under cards I took the initiative and made the first bet. I got 2 callers and the turn was another low card. I bet double what I had bet earlier and seat 6 called. I figured he had a pair but hadn't hit the set. We see the river and it's another low card. I'm feeling good and bet again. This time he raises.....DAMN....I wasn't expecting that. I call but figure I'm beat. Sure enough he had 5's and had rivered his set. I'm now back to less then what I started with and the break is still about 20 minutes away.

Finally, a couple of rounds later, I get something to make a stand with....Ah, 10h. After I call a raise the flop is dealt and I see two more 10's and an Ace. I had flopped a full house! Now I had to get the rest of the players to pay for it. Someone bet and I decided to go for the minimum raise. Two players call and we see the turn. I decide to stay passive and wait for the river to get serious. River comes and I raise a minimum bet to about half the pot. One guy folds and the other calls. He had pocket 7's to go with the 10's from the flop. I figured he at least had a set. I get about 2000 in chips and make it to the break.

Unfortunately for me I only lasted about 5 more minutes. I had great starting hands but couldn't catch anything and the blinds had increased to 200/400. I caught a good hand, went all-in, and lost to a better hand. I ended the tournament in 459th place. I should have been listening a little more carefully to the song on the radio (something like "I've got a bad feeling about this"), maybe I would have folded.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Not Just Another Book Signing...Part Two

When I last left you, Maura and I had just arrived at the bookstore and had spotted Wil preparing for the reading. I'm going to skip past our arrival in the special event area of the bookstore, to the moment when Wil takes the stage.

When Wil first stepped up to the microphone I believe he was a little taken aback by the size of the crowd (definitely over 100 people) but he adjusted quickly and started to give a bit of background as to the evolution of his book. He spoke of his blog and how he turned some of the stories he had written into Dancing Barefoot and Just A Geek. It was then time to launch into his reading from of the chapter called SpongeBobVega$ Pants (my favorite). He chose that chapter because it best represented the major turning point of his life and the main theme of the book.

Now, when I say that Wil read from his book I am really doing him an injustice. Wil didn't just read; he performed. It was a performance that came from a very real place and, even though I had read the story before, I felt like I was hearing it for the first time. Wil brought it to life in a way that only the person who has been through the experience can and he left me feeling as if I had been there with him at the time the events occurred. It was obvious Wil had the crowd in the palm of his hand when he suggested doing a second reading and the room erupted in thunderous applause at the suggestion. His second reading was also from SpongeBobVega$ Pants and this was when I started to figure out what that "something" I had seen in his eyes earlier that evening was.

During the course of the reading Wil had mentioned how he was "silly in love" with his wife and couldn't believe how lucky he was to have her and her amazing children in his life. About the second time he mentioned it was when everything clicked. Wil is an incredibly happy person and that happiness is what I saw sparkling in his eyes. His book represents his journey to get to that place where he is happy with his life and can accept the cards he is being dealt even if they don't quite turn out the way he wants or expects. In the back of my mind I knew this but to witness it is another thing entirely and I truly wish you could have all been a part of it. It was an unforgettable learning experience and I want to thank Wil for taking time out of his life to give me a glimpse of what I can only hope to find as I continue on my own journey.

I suppose you are all wondering what I said to Wil as he signed my book. Luckily I didn't have to remember my name as the bookstore manager wrote it on a little post-it and stuck it to the page Wil was going to sign. The manager had called my friends, my "entourage", and I remember that being mentioned to Wil. He asked me what it was like to have an entourage and nothing cleaver or witty came to mind until the train ride home. Next thing I knew I was posing for a picture that I hope will never be seen (damn nervous facial twitch) and my time was up. Dinner at the Cheesecake Factory followed and I was home by 2 a.m.

Maura will be posting her experience as well, so please check her blog for another view of the event.

UPDATE: Maura's post is up and comes complete with pictures! (Not of me because she values her life but nice photos of Wil.)

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Not Just Another Book Signing...Part One

I knew it was going to be a good day when work called and said, “Hey! It’s slow today so why don’t you take the day off.” Oh yeah, more time to play poker before Wil’s book signing later in the evening. I signed up for a free roll and lasted a whole seven minutes. Definitely a new record but I deserved it. I have a hard time letting go of big pocket pairs and, this time, it came back to bite me in the ass. A valuable lesson learned for free. I then decided to hit the low limit tables over at Paradise. I spent the morning losing but in the afternoon I got back up to end the day even. Not bad considering the reckless play at the .10/.20 tables.

Before long it was time to get ready for the book signing. I gathered up my copy of Just a Geek and headed over to pick up Maura. We were taking the train and needed to catch one of two trains that would get us to the city with time to spare. We ended up on the second train thanks to a coin jam-up in the parking ticket machine that forced Maura to walk to the farther machine to get our ticket. The ride to SF was uneventful and we pulled into our stop on time, caught a taxi to Union Square, and arrived at the bookstore at 6:30pm.

Upon entering the bookstore my phone rang. It turned out to be my father. He had forgotten that I had plans and was calling to find out where I was. (Yes, I live at home. I can’t afford any other arrangement right now.) My dad was asking me who was at the book signing and that’s when I first saw him…..Wil Wheaton was standing, not more then ten feet away, speaking with the manager of the bookstore. I quickly ended the phone call and took a good look at the object of my teenage crush and realized that he looked much better in person then he ever did on TV wearing those horrible Starfleet uniforms. But there was something beyond his physical appearance….A sparkle in his eyes maybe…Some intangible something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Something that would become obvious as the evening wore on.

I've Been Pimped!

A big thank you to Iggy for pimping my blog in his latest post. I have moved him up to featured blog as a sign of my appreciation. I'll keep his link there until I feel like featuring someone else so if any other bloggers want to be considered, leave me a comment and I'll take a look at your blog. Non-poker bloggers are welcome to submit their blog as well. At the very least I will probably add you to my blogroll.

Last week I realized I was not the only April in the blog universe and felt I had to change my signature so there would be no confusion. I considered calling myself "the other April" or "April in CA" but decided that, for now, I will just use my last initial. If I can ever figure out how to do polls, maybe I'll let the masses weigh in on the decision.

I also thought I would share a couple of other things about me as a poker player. I play micro-limit because that is all I can afford. I don't play at Party Poker for that same reason but I do have an account there. I am well aware of The Hammer and have attempted to play it on a couple of occasions. Since bluffing at micro-limit is impossible (well, almost impossible), I have yet to take down a pot with it. I don't know exactly what form this blog will take. I don't see myself sharing a lot of hand histories or bad beat stories (too many to count at micro) but I reserve the right to change my mind. I can also tell you that there will be occasional posts that are not related to poker. I do have other interests and sometimes need to rant about them.

Speaking of not directly poker related, I did go to Wil's book signing last night. I have a post floating around in my head but I am not quite ready to write it down. I should get it out in the next couple of days. Until then, may the poker tables treat you well and thank you for checking out my little blog!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Me April.....You Wil.....Sign book....Please?

That is what I will probably be reduced to tomorrow night, caveman talk. See, tomorrow I will be embarking on a journey of great importance. I, along with my trusty traveling companion Maura, will be taking the train to the city (South Bay speak for San Francisco) to listen to Wil Wheaton read from his amazing book, Just A Geek. After the reading I will be getting my copy of the book signed and the conversation will probably go much like the heading above, if I can even get that much out. For some reason, when I get around a celebrity, I regress to the early years of my life when my vocabulary consisted of a few very short words and getting any word out was a great victory. Maura can attest to this phenomenon as she has been with me on 2 other occasions where I suddenly lost my ability to speak while in the presence of celebrity. I guess it's better then the alternative. I could get all stalker fangirl and go on about the big crush I used to have on Wesley and how, if I wrote the script, Wesley would have had a girlfriend that, surprisingly, looked a lot like me.
Oh yeah...That's much less embarrassing! Wish me the best and I promise to have a full report up after the event.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Give Me A Break!

Whenever I play in a tournament I don't start out with the goal of winning. Of course winning would be nice but I think it's too much pressure to have such a huge goal when there are a couple thousand people I have to beat to achieve it. I prefer to start out with something a little smaller, like making it to the first break (for my non-poker playing readers, the first break is usually at the 55-60 minute mark). It shouldn't be that difficult to do even when the cards aren't falling my way but today I finished 5 minutes short of that goal and I think I figured out why.

I was again playing in the $1 tourney over at Paradise (every day at 1pm pacific time) and the field was around 1600. I was sitting at a fairly passive table with very little raising going on and I let myself get caught up in the boredom. While I should have been raising pre-flop with anything marginal or above, in an attempt to steal some pots, I found myself limping in only to fold when I didn't hit anything. I just didn't have it in me to be aggressive at this table. I ended up winning a total of one hand for the entire time I played and lost a good part of my stack on the one hand I attempted to be aggressive on. I finally got blinded out when a fourth diamond came on the river to give seat 1 a Q high flush (the hand was mine until that damn diamond showed up). Getting caught up in the personality of the table threw me off my game and, while I had a prime opportunity to work on being more aggressive, I slowly faded into 737th place. This leads me to the question of the week:

Is there any hope for someone who is not aggressive by nature to develop aggression at the poker table?

Monday, January 03, 2005

Featured Blog

At the general request of Otis at Up For Poker I have added a temporary link over on the right featuring his official coverage of the PokerStars event at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. The tournament starts Wednesday and will eventually be telecast on the Travel channels WPT coverage. If you are anything like me and can't wait for the telecast, bookmark the site and read along as the event unfolds.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Starting on a Positive Note

Welcome to my poker blog!

I've been playing poker on-line for about six months and have decided to start this blog in an attempt to analyze my game a little better. One thing you won't see is the exact amount of my bankroll (that's between me and, well, me) but I will share it's ups and downs. On that note, I am currently up due to my best placement ever in the $1 tourney over at Paradise Poker. I came in 16th and cashed for $10.65. Not a bad return on my investment but I wanted to make that final table so bad I could taste it. I was actually a bit disappointed when I went out but I hadn't been getting cards for awhile and didn't have enough chips to bluff at a pot.

This tourney also marked the first time that pocket A's actually came through for me every time I had them (about 3 times I think). I've taken to slow-playing them lately and this got the bigger stacks to bet into me. I then went all-in and they had to call as they were already pot committed. I doubled up twice and tripled up the final time to put me in the chip lead for a good 15 minutes with about 60 players left. It got scary after that. I didn't want to screw up but I wanted to win. It takes a lot of aggression to win and I am just not good at being aggressive. This is probably the thing I need to work on the most. Any suggestions??