Friday, December 31, 2010

An in-tents end to 2010

I've just been camping for the first time in a very long time. Mum and Dad took their caravan to Lake Camp, which is next to Lake Clearwater and not very far from Mt Somers. My aunt and uncle parked their bus next to my parents' caravan, while I slept in a tent. We spent two nights there. Caravans seem like a lot of hassle - there's the fag of hooking and unhooking them to the car (and you really need a bigger car than my parents' two-litre Honda CRV) as well as everything that can go wrong with power and water. And then there's the loo. Your business goes into what is known as a cassette. Cassette? I'd dread to think what happens when you push fast forward. Campervans and buses seem more convenient than caravans, especially if you're touring the country, but they're expensive options.

As for camping, well I enjoyed that as a kid. When we were tucked up in bed we used to tell stories; my brother would inevitably change the subject to tortoises or crocodiles. This time, in my one-man tent, there were no stories although I did have some unusually vivid dreams the first night. Yesterday a whole raft of kids half my age turned up, intent on shouting, swearing and getting hammered. My family didn't enjoy this sudden influx of Generation Who-Gives-A-Shit, and neither did I to be honest. The second night, unsurprisingly, I didn't sleep so well. If we'd stayed there tonight (New Year's Eve) it would have been horrendous I'm sure.

Yesterday we went for a walk around Mt Potts and Erewhon stations and saw Mt Sunday, on which a castle was built to great effect in the Lord of the Rings movies.

I've thought about getting my own tent and maybe going on a camping trip with some friends. It could be a lot of fun, but the problem with any holiday (unless you go alone) is that you're in each other's pockets, and camping only makes that worse. I'll have to think about it a bit more.

I watched a fair bit of the Boxing Day test match from Melbourne (Mum and Dad have Sky) and enjoyed seeing England give the Aussies a good hiding. Cricket is perhaps unique among modern sports in that winning isn't quite everything. There are all kinds of subplots and mini-contests going on - sometimes they can even take centre stage. England have already retained the Ashes, but there's still a lot resting on the fifth match in Sydney.

Just a few hours of 2010 remain. It's been an up-and-down kind of year with some happy times as well as some very sad ones, the loss of Emma being the saddest of all. However I am more positive about the future than I was a year ago, and guess what, I haven't been depressed for months. I'm not naive enough to think that my depression won't return, but for now I'm changing my blog title.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Boxing Day

I'm happy to report a stress-free Christmas. Five of us (my aunt and uncle, Mum, Dad and I) spent the afternoon down the Orari Gorge. Perfect day for it - not too hot. If I'd had my togs I would have swum in the water. We all ate too much but didn't drink much, and were back by about six. Mum is suffering from quite bad lower back pain - she's always been so fit and healthy; I'm unused to seeing her like that.

I met up with Phil in Timaru today. He's staying with his mother in Waimate but now lives in Dunedin (he studied there for ten years and got a PhD so it's like a second home to him). Just like last year we had coffee at the Purple Lizard café (opposite the Mascot Finance building, now just a shell); just like last year we talked about finding jobs; just like last year we played mini golf; just like last year he beat me by six shots. From our chat, perhaps I should be looking at jobs outside Auckland, but I really don't want to lose my friends.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


On Tuesday night I saw Gorillaz with Richard and two others from the Asperger's group. It took a bit of logistical jiggery-pokery for the four of us to actually meet up, but when we did so, the gig was well worth waiting for. We caught the tail end of De La Soul, a hip-hop act who had been around for some time and were pretty famous by all accounts - not really my cup of tea I suppose, but they did a great job of getting the audience in the mood for the main event.

And the main event was brilliant. There was just so much music. I wasn't expecting a full-blown orchestra (or anything like it) but we had a brass section at the front which included one of those crazy tuba things that fits around your body (I've just Googled it - it's called a sousaphone), a string ensemble at the back and of course guitars, drums and a keyboard. In the middle of the show we were greeted with an Arabic orchestra which was a delight to listen to. In the middle of all those instruments was Damon Albarn bouncing around manically. I guess all of this was possible because most of the line-up were guest performers. There was so much going on, including all the cartoon animation on the big screen, that at times I didn't know where to look.

There seemed to be a few underlying political messages - the tour was called Plastic Beach after all, a title that conjures up images of the BP oil spill disaster. There was a song called Super Fast Jelly Fish, or something along those lines, with pictures of greasy all-you-can-eat fast food joints and lyrics that went "you can't see it but you still want to eat it". The Auckland show was their last on a three-month tour, and unfortunately quite possibly their last ever. So I was very grateful to get the chance to see them.

I had an earlyish flight yesterday so I had a nap when I got to Geraldine; the temperature was very conducive to falling asleep. It looks like I'll be in for a hot Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Can't stop Christmas

Christmas. It's coming and there's nothing I can do to stop it. Apparently it's a whole year since it was last here, although I find that hard to believe. This year, however, I'm going to try very hard not to get stressed by Christmas and perhaps even enjoy it. I'll be heading down to Geraldine this time tomorrow (the first time I'll have been down there for almost a year). Christmas should be relatively quiet stress-free this year - on the day itself there will only be a handful of us.

While I'm in the South Island, Richard will be hosting a Christmas dinner here in Auckland for anyone from the Asperger's group who wishes to attend. I think that's a wonderful gesture - for many people, Christmas can be a very lonely time. If I was staying up here I would definitely have gone. Last Saturday the Asperger's group had its Christmas party. It was great to see such a big turnout - there must have been nearly forty people there - even if it got rather noisy and echoey (is that a real word?).

We've had shocking weather - about four days of non-stop rain. It's also been very humid, with overnight lows (!) of around 20 degrees. Drying clothes has proven nearly impossible so I've been forced to wear my emergency undies. If it's any consolation (and it is considerable consolation), I'd much rather have our weather than what the UK are going through. I don't envy all those poor Kiwis stuck at Heathrow trying to get home for Christmas.

Last week I had a look at Onehunga. I can see its attractions (it would be an inexpensive suburb for one) but I have reservations about living there: it's just a bit too far from everything and I'd be a bit worried about its crime rate. It looked a bit down-at-heel and reminded me of some parts of Birmingham (not that there's anything wrong with that - I liked living in Brum). It had a very good fruit and vege shop, an interesting second-hand bookshop and perhaps best of all the Dress Smart mall. I try and avoid malls if I can, but I do need to buy clothes occasionally, and for some reason you could buy the same clothes a lot more cheaply than elsewhere. So I'll certainly want to spend some more time in Onehunga but that doesn't mean I'll want to live there. I spoke to Richard and he pretty much agreed with me.

Last Monday I played interclub for the last time in 2010. I played with Superman in the doubles (again) and we lost (again), 6-3 6-4. I think we would both do better if we split up (well he certainly would; I'm so bad at the net that it might not matter who I play with). My singles was a different story - I knew my older opponent and thought I should beat him, but never expected to do so 6-1 6-1. I played well but he came to the net too often and I was able to pass him. He also got frustrated, and at times I felt I was the older player waiting for my 18-year-old opponent (he was actually fifty-something) to blast the ball out. We actually had a lot of good rallies though, and the score flattered me somewhat. Superman won his singles 6-2 6-2, reinforcing our need for a divorce from doubles.

My mental health service produces a quarterly newsletter. I'm part of the production team (apparently, although to be honest I'm not all that up with the play). I did however submit a cryptic crossword that I created; I'll be interested to see how that is received. I might even post the crossword on here in the next couple of days.

There will be no rest for me before I go away. My flat is still a complete mess, I've got all my packing to do and I'm taking my car in for a warrant this afternoon. Then tonight I'm seeing Gorillaz at the Vector Arena with Richard and two other people from the Asperger's group. I haven't seen too many live bands (unfortunately) and I've never seen a live virtual band before, but if it's got Damon Albarn in it, it must be good.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Jobless again

I played tennis on Tuesday night in what they call a Business House competition. Because one of the earlier weeks was rained off, we played six mini-matches instead of four. By the end of the evening I'd reached the "sod it" stage. If I hadn't known in advance we'd be playing so many games (and many people didn't) I don't know how I would have coped. From memory I won the first match I played, drew the last, and lost all the rest. I've got interclub tonight and another Business House tennis-a-thon tomorrow night.

On the subject of sport, I scanned the football results on Wednesday and this one caught my eye: Leyton Orient 8 Droylsden 2 - after extra time! This was from an FA Cup second-round replay (they had drawn 1-1 in their first meeting at Droylsden). Orient were 2-0 down at one stage, and were still a goal behind when they scrambled an 89th-minute equaliser to keep them in the competition. Then came a crazy half-hour which must have produced some kind of record. The scorer of the equaliser struck twice more in extra time and there was another hat-trick scored entirely in extra time. Both sides finished the match with nine men and the Droylsden manager was also banished from the dug-out! So there is some magic left in the FA Cup after all. From what I could tell, the referee saw pity on Droylsden by blowing for full-time after 119 minutes - with all those stoppages for bookings and sendings-off (and of course goals) there should have been enough added time for Orient to hit double figures. Until last week I had no idea where Droylsden was (apparently it's in Manchester). Its football team (who play in the sixth division and are nicknamed the Bloods of all things) are no strangers to, well, strange Cup ties.

Friday was my last day at work. It was good while it lasted. I had a pretty much stress-free run of three months, which was considerably longer than I expected. I left my details with my boss should he ever need somebody again. I got on well with him, even though our personalities were quite different. I'll miss the F-bombs and his mispronunciations which at first I thought were deliberate. Apparently he drives a Missabitsi. He'd ask me about a claim for a property on Bethlehem Road. You mean Blenheim Road? At least you always knew where you stood with him. It was nice just to have a job that wasn't dressed up into this big frothy career, but now I face the unenviable task of finding work again.

On Friday night I went to a Christmas party put on by my mental health service. It was a bit of an eye-opener - some people I saw clearly weren't in a good way at all. Some of them must have a hard time looking after themselves - while I was in the queue for dessert there was a distinct whiff of pee. The food was reasonable but by the time I got there (almost seven - it started at four) the main course could have done with a quick zap in the microwave. I thought the highlight of the evening was the band, who did a very good job considering they had hardly practised. The organisation is fortunate to have a number of talented musicians in its midst. It was good to meet up with some people from the men's group who for one reason or another no longer attend.

I rang my gran when I got back from the party. I struggled to make any sense of her, although it was clear that she wasn't happy. At least she picked up the phone this time; she has her own phone in her room but hasn't been picking it up of late - either she's forgotten how to use it or just doesn't want to talk. In future I'll try and ring her in the morning (her evening) when she tends to be better.

On Saturday I met up in a café on K' Road with Richard and another regular of the Asperger's group (a female) to talk about the possibility of flatting. I think the arrangement could work very well. My only issue is having to leave the Shore where I've spent the best part of seven years. If the plan goes ahead, the most likely suburb we'll end up in at this stage is Onehunga, a place I don't know at all. I intend to spend some time there on Wednesday to get a feel for the place.

Yesterday the Asperger's group met up for our second picnic in Cornwall Park. Good weather for it - in fact a little too warm if anything. There was a big turnout - there must have been close on twenty. Some of them set up a game of cricket (one of the members of the group is a big fan of the game) and I joined in half-way through (after a bit of a doze - it was that kind of weather). My batting was OK but my bowling was pretty shocking! It was a good afternoon which Richard (who else?) organised. He's also holding a Christmas dinner - a great idea because a lot of them don't have families and must feel quite alone over the festive period.

Tennis tonight then. Hope I don't break anything this time.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Old news

Gran’s mental and physical health tend to go hand-in-hand. I was a bit worried when I spoke to her on the phone a week ago, then on Wednesday she was rushed off to hospital – her gut was playing up again. This has been a recurring problem for her. Dad feared the worst (and so did I – in the past she’s always bounced back but she’s so much weaker now). He booked an emergency flight to the UK which he wasn’t looking forward to. They’re having atrocious weather over there. But somehow her gut cleared later in the week and she’ll probably be let out of hospital in the next day or two. That’s a relief. Dad managed to change his flight to February.

Speaking of the elderly, last night I watched Young @ Heart (or tried to – I was still involved in a poker tournament when it started; I also got a call from my parents). It was a documentary film about a group of elderly people in America who tour the country (and overseas) giving unusual renditions of modern pop songs. Most of them had no singing experience so their director certainly had his hands full. I found their version of the Ramones’ I Wanna Be Sedated hilarious, and somehow appropriate. At the end of the film they showed a chap of about eighty (and probably twenty stone) perform Coldplay’s Fix You. This was supposed to be a duet but his singing partner had recently died of a heart attack. I have to say I found his performance very moving. I don’t know what it is about old people singing, but it reminded me a lot of Johnny Cash when he sang Hurt – it really made my hair stand on end. Just like Cash, the Fix You singer died months later.

There isn’t a lot of news from my end. The earthquake claims have been gradually tailing off, so Friday looks like being my last day at work.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The racket formerly known as Prince

When I play competitive tennis, I normally bring a spare racket just in case. So last night I turned up with two Princes, a 2005 model (my weapon of choice) and a 2000 version which I expected to remain firmly in its bag. When I arrived at Forrest Hill last night – an oppressively muggy evening for tennis – I wasn’t too bothered about winning or losing; I just wanted the damn thing over with. And then I found out who my opponent was. We’d met twice previously. The first time was five seasons ago, back when I still knew how to play, and I won in two sets. Our other encounter was pure torture for me – a memorable match for all the wrong reasons. My fragile mental state, a tenacious opponent and inhuman playing conditions culminated in a complete meltdown – for all the gory details click here. So just when I thought emotionally-charged tennis matches were a thing of the past, if there was ever a time I would lose the plot again, last night had all the ingredients for it.

I win the toss, serve first, go 40-15 up and … that’s as close as I get to winning my serve in the entire first set. I couldn’t get anything going on my serve at all. At 5-2 down, I realised the importance of the next game. If I could break his serve, then even if I lost my own serve I’d have the advantage of serving second (!) in the next set. That’s exactly what happened. I dropped the first set (which featured eight service breaks!) 6-3, but I felt myself coming into the match towards the end of that set, and from then on made a conscious effort to hit deep groundstrokes. Anything short and he gained the upper hand, so getting depth on my shots was vital. It worked, and after a succession of long rallies, I was 4-0 up in the second set. I wasn’t enjoying it though; I was sweating like a pig. After every rally I had to wipe my sweaty palms on my shirt so I could grip the handle of my racket. My shirt soon became a greyish-brown smudgy mess – I must have looked more like a potter than a tennis player. The rallies became longer, my legs got heavier, and at 4-2 I was really struggling. For want of a better word, I was shagged. In contrast my older opponent looked as fresh as a daisy. How can you not be perspiring out here? It was after the first point of game seven that everything kicked off. I missed a seemingly easy shot at the end of another interminable rally and for the first time I can remember, I smashed my racket against the ground in frustration. “That sounded expensive,” said someone on the next court. Well it’s a five-year-old racket and isn’t worth much, but I felt embarrassed and ashamed. It’s only a game after all, and now I was going to lose due to my own stupidity. My racket looked usable, but when I hardly got a ball in play in the rest of that game, there was only one thing for it.

Out came the Emergency Millennium Edition Prince. I had to come out straight away and serve. Switching to a different racket mid-match is hard enough, but serving with a new racket is another thing entirely. To my surprise, my first serve landed smack on the line. The baseline. I was quickly love-40 down and I hadn’t won a point in ages. Somehow I scrambled back into the game, which morphed into a 15-minute monster and had me gasping for air. I clung on to my serve at what might have been the tenth attempt and eventually took out the set 6-4. On to the decider, and it started badly. Down 2-0 and a point for 3-0, I was being outplayed; the end didn’t seem far away. I levelled at 2-2 but fell two games behind once more. Again I came back, and at 5-4 I had my nose in front for the first time in the match. When I stepped up to serve for victory, what little power I had in my serving arm had vanished. My second serves became lollipops, and at 30-30 I double-faulted to give my opponent break point. Realising I might not survive two more games, I went for a winner on the next point and thankfully it was good. After yet another bruising rally, and an exchange that saw him err with a volley, I had won. There was no celebration: after two hours and 20 minutes I was exhausted.

I tried my best in the doubles, but I’d have been up against it even if I was fresh. My partner had played a very long singles match too; that probably didn’t help. I made a lot of mistakes and we lost 6-3 6-4. At least I could go home. The bad news is that I’m playing again tonight, though in a less competitive situation. Now which racket should I use?

Figuring out my next move

I played tennis yesterday and will be playing again tonight. And tomorrow. I’m very much looking forward to Wednesday, my next tennis-free day. I don’t enjoy the game anything like I used to, and when I play at night I take ages to get to sleep and need gallons of coffee to get through the next day. Four or five years ago, tennis was the highlight of my week. Now I really only do it for the exercise.

Richard came over to Devonport on Saturday. We didn’t do all that much I suppose. The warm weather didn’t lend itself to vigorous activity, and we mainly just lay in the park and dozed. We also had an ice cream and talked about possible flatting arrangements. I’m still a bit apprehensive about sharing a four-person flat, especially when I’ve only briefly met two of my potential flatmates. Instinctively I feel it should work out fine, but we’ll only get a better idea of our compatibility (or otherwise) if we all meet up. Hopefully that can happen this weekend. It was good to see Richard, and there’s nothing wrong with just having a relaxing afternoon.

Work seems to be gradually drying up – at this stage my last day looks like being 10th December. Some months ago I registered with Edge, an employment agency for people who have had mental health issues. They had a long waiting list which I reached the top of a couple of weeks ago. Last Thursday I had a chat with one of the people from Edge – he came round to my flat – and we talked about what I should do once my current stint comes to an end. He was quite adamant that the mental health industry would be too stressful for me right now, and should therefore be avoided. However he pushed English teaching to the forefront of my mind once more, and came up with a new idea – working in medical statistics (clinical trials for new drugs, for instance). We also talked about my CV. For some reason, there is huge emphasis put on CVs these days. This chap gave a recent example of one of his clients who applied for what he called a “donkey job”. There were dozens of applicants for six places, and apparently CVs were the deciding factor in who was successful. I said it would have been better to have put everyone’s names in a hat and picked out six at random. Probably just as fair and less time-consuming for everyone involved. In fact, the Lotto method could also be used for some non-donkey jobs, and would in many cases be fairer (and would certainly be more easily understood) than the current selection criteria. At least people who are less connected (like me) wouldn’t be discriminated against. He also suggested I need to be socialising with different people three or four nights a week, but I’m less sure about that. It’s likely that would just make me more stressed. All in all though, our meeting was very useful.

I rang my grandmother yesterday. She has taken a definite step backwards in the last two weeks. She was confused, but worse than that, she sounded quite unhappy and for some reason she was itching to get off the phone. She might get moved to a different home, one that caters specifically for dementia patients. Somehow she had got wind of this possible move, although she didn’t know the reason for it. After some very positive phone conversations with my gran, this one was quite upsetting.

It is now seven years and one day since I arrived in New Zealand to live. I remember that day very clearly – it was a crystal clear Canterbury day; the brightness of the sun (far brighter than you ever get in the UK, even in the height of summer) was almost intoxicating.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


There seems to be little point in blogging at the moment - there is hardly anything happening in my life that is worth blogging about.

There's plenty happening in other people's lives however. The mining disaster on the West Coast has taken up a lot of air time in the last few days, and rightly so. Things aren't looking good there to say the least. Yesterday's developments were described as "two steps forward and three back", but even that seemed to be putting a positive spin on things. It's a very close-knit community down there; I just hope we can find out something in the next 24 hours. It must be hell for the friends and families of those who are trapped. As for what the miners themselves have been through, that doesn't bear thinking about.

On Saturday I attended the monthly autism group which was interesting as always. The topic of discussion this time was adverts; people had to vote on their best and worst. I like to think I'm immune to advertising. Although it probably influences me more than I imagine, I'm pretty sure I'm less susceptible than most. I can see that a lot of ads (car ads being a prime example) are trying to press some kind of emotional buttons, but they're wasted on me I'm afraid. I'm particularly unimpressed with ads for banks, who are all trying to out-Kiwify each other, even if most of them are Australian-owned. ASB (owned by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia) have ditched Goldstein and jumped on the Kiwi bandwagon. TSB (who really are a Kiwi bank) used to run an amusing series of ads, one of which featured someone let loose on a solo plane flight with no training; they've since gone down the "real Kiwis only" route too. On a similar theme is Resene's "Colours of New Zealand" paint advert which, if I'd thought about it, would have got my vote on Saturday for the worst ad. Lake Wakatipu blue, it's so much bluer than bog-standard blue. How can you get away with such crap?

Worst of all must be ads that use sportsmen and other "great" New Zealanders to endorse medical and financial products. These ads aren't just crap, they're downright dangerous. Being a great rugby player or cricketer or golfer doesn't give you the authority to promote products that, should they go wrong, can wreck people's lives. One example was Colin Meads' endorsement of Provincial Finance. "South Island based. Solid as, I reckon," he said. Yes, solid as a house of cards during the South Island earthquake. Provincial was one of the first of New Zealand's many finance companies to go under.

This weekend I hope to meet up with Richard and two female members of the autism group to talk about flatting. I'm a bit unsure about sharing a four-person flat. It might be fine but I'll need to give it some thought. There will be plenty to discuss at the weekend.

An hour after I posted this, it was confirmed that there had been a second explosion (much bigger than the first), ending all hope of finding any of the 29 miners alive. Devastating news. I found yesterday's extended news bulletin quite moving.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Not much to report

It's been light on the news front in the last ten days. I haven't given much thought as to what I'll do when this job finishes, nor have I looked at flats. My landladies are selling the place I'm living in; I don't know whether I'll be able to stay there and for how long.

I played tennis on Monday night. In Superman's absence I had to play at number one in our team and I was up against it from the start. After losing the first set 6-1 I needed to change the game but lacked the necessary weapons, so I chose to slow the game down, a tactic that brought me three games in the second set. The doubles was a bit closer - 6-3 6-4 - and if we'd decided to stay back from the first point, rather than play "proper" doubles at the net (where we couldn't compete), we might have had a chance. As a team we were well beaten, five matches to one. I've now lost seven of my last eight matches in all competitions. As is usually the case, it was a struggle to get to sleep after tennis, and just as big a struggle to stay awake the next day.

I've given my last maths lessons of the year - my two 16-year-old students had their exams on Monday. I rang them up to see how it all went. Contrary to what I might have expected, the boy was quite happy with his performance while the girl was a bit disappointed with hers. I've noticed girls have a tendency to play down their efforts in exams, so that might have something to do with it. But also this NCEA system can put too much emphasis on a single question, to the point where a student can know with certainty that they won't get Excellence or Merit just because of what happened on one question. It sounds like this is what happened to her.

The Rocky Horror Show is currently on in Auckland. I'd quite like to go, but as it's only on for another week or so, I doubt I will. I did ask Julie - it seemed her kind of thing - but she isn't able to go. Richard O'Brien wrote the musical. In the early nineties he presented The Crystal Maze which I used to watch religiously every Thursday night. The show was very cleverly designed; O'Brien's wit and intelligence (and the fact that the was totally barking) helped make it very popular back in the day.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Extreme pétanque

It was a good weekend, dominated by various competitive pursuits: tennis, pétanque, online poker and extreme ironing. I got a fair bit of sun.

Tennis on Saturday was up at Whangaparaoa (well Manly actually) and to be honest it wasn’t much fun. I was well out of my league. Playing number two in our team, when I was clearly the weakest player, it seemed I was the sacrificial lamb. Our team did win overall, so I guess it was an astute tactical decision by our team captain. In the men’s match, both our opponents were excellent net players (my partner was pretty handy in that department too), but when I get to the net I’m suddenly playing at 15,000 feet. We lost that match 6-2 6-3 and the mixed 6-2 6-2. It was a nice sunny afternoon for tennis but to be honest I just wanted to get home.

At the other end of the enjoyment scale was yesterday’s pétanque on Waiheke. This time I teamed up with Phil (we’d had a practice on Friday night) and Sylvain. As always Patrick, the dreadlocked hippie Frenchman, was in attendance. He’s been on the championship-winning side several times in the past and takes his pétanque pretty seriously; the only hope for the rest of us was that he might be stoned. Unfortunately the only weed we could see was an unusual formation of seaweed. We breezed through our first three matches, easily qualifying for the semi-finals from the nine teams who started. We were playing jolly well, mainly going for long jacks because we felt our opponents would struggle to match our accuracy from that range. We had a 13-2 win in the semis and inevitably came up against Patrick’s team (who had also had four big wins) in the final. His wife was on their team; she’s even better than Patrick – less dynamic perhaps but deadly accurate from any distance. The other bloke on their team was very handy too. The match started off nip-and-tuck – we were 3-2 down after five ends – but that soon became 10-2 and we had a mountain to climb. Short jacks and they could take our boules out; long jacks and they would get within inches. They were just too good. We scored two singles and a shock four to move to within two, and suddenly we had a real chance, but that was snuffed out when they cashed in on the very next end for a 13-8 win.

The pétanque was a lot of fun. It always is, even if you get thrashed. Everyone was really friendly. Next time I’ll make more of an occasion of it; a couple of beers or a bottle of wine (or even some Pastis) wouldn’t have gone amiss.

As for extreme ironing, no I didn’t actually iron my shirts in the sea at Waiheke yesterday, but the sheer quantity of ironing I did last night sure made it feel extreme. The closest I’ve ever come to extreme ironing by the way was during my map-making job in the UK. They wanted all their maps hung in a vertical file, and because they’d all been rolled up, I had to flatten out several hundred of the buggers (all A0 or A1 size) with my own iron.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The rest of my weekend (and last night's tennis)

After the maths tuition on Saturday I joined up with some of the Asperger’s group for a picnic in Cornwall Park. It was a very enjoyable afternoon (we were lucky with the weather) and the turnout was impressive. They were such a nice bunch of people; I had no problem relaxing. We even played a few ends of pétanque – perhaps useful practice for me before this weekend’s Waiheke tournament. Richard did a marvellous job of organising it all, especially as he sat an exam the previous morning. He has a knack of organising events; I have a hard enough time organising myself. We’ll have to do something similar again over the summer.

On Sunday (we were blessed with even better weather that day) I went to the monthly morning tea at the French club. I met up with Phil, who still doesn’t know when (or if) he’ll be returning to Denmark. We had a presentation from a bloke who speaks fluent French and Italian, giving us some entertaining tips on pronunciation. I played tennis in the afternoon – nothing serious, but just enough to get my eye in for the following evening’s interclub.

We played at Albany last night. First up was the doubles; I played with a young gun this time. His game oozed raw power but he didn’t quite have the accuracy to match. My play was a bit scratchy and we went down to a 6-4 6-2 loss. If we’d taken more of our chances it could have been closer, but really we were well beaten by a partnership who knew what they were doing on the doubles court. In contrast my singles opponent (half of the doubles team that beat us) was a good match-up for me. He was overweight and lacked mobility (forwards and backwards in particular), so I was able to work him around the court. The match started off close but I ran out a comfortable 6-3 6-0 winner. Overall our team won by four matches to two.

This is a busy week for me. I’ve got two lots of maths tuition as well as the men’s group on Wednesday. Then more tennis (at Whangaparaoa) on Saturday, followed by the pétanque on Waiheke Island on Sunday.

Some good news from a couple of weeks back that I neglected to mention: I did manage to get off that parking ticket. That's a relief.

Monday, November 1, 2010

NCEA: Not Achieved

I had a good weekend. On Saturday morning I gave some tuition to the Remuera girl – she’d just had her NCEA mocks and has the real thing in a fortnight. I’m still struggling to get my head around NCEA. The maths exam lasts three hours; in that time you have to complete five “mini-papers” on the topics of Number, Algebra, Graphs, Geometry and Probability. For each paper you’re given one of four grades: Excellence, Merit, Achieved and Not Achieved. She loves geometry and blew me away with her perfect paper on that topic. She also got Excellence in the probability paper, but “only” Achieved in the other three. So what does that equate to overall, I ask. It turns out there is no overall maths grade. In the words of OMC, how bizarre. The maths topics are treated as different subjects, even though they form part of the same exam and the concepts are very much intertwined. This makes no sense to me. I also found it strange that there were no numerical marks, such as 8/10, anywhere on the paper. On the flip side, I thought the questions were well constructed and required broad mathematical knowledge, and I don’t think they were any easier than what I had to deal with in 1996.

So what makes a fair exam system? The norm-referencing used in the old School Cert was controversial but despite its shortcomings was fairer (in my opinion) than what we have now. For something as complex as maths, standards-based assessment doesn’t work. So your son Jake can “do” number but can’t “do” algebra – what the hell does that even mean? Nothing, if you ask me. Secondly, exams have to be substantially different from one year to the next; difficulty will therefore also vary from year to year, sometimes significantly, just by random chance. How do the examiners adjust for this, if at all? The fairest (and easiest) way is to say, “Jake, you scored in the 65th percentile.” Sure, under this method you can’t tell if standards are improving, but neither can you under NCEA. Finally, every mark should count. I get the impression that some kids can’t be bothered studying because a few marks here or there are unlikely to make much difference. I’ve never really liked the whole concept of grades, and I certainly don’t like only having four of them. There’s a huge gap between 55% and 69%, but if they both just get you a bog-standard Achieved, no wonder there’s a lot of students out there who can’t be arsed.

At least everyone in New Zealand does the same exam, unlike in the UK where there are several examining boards with names like MEG and SEG and SMEG (OK, maybe not SMEG), each with its own syllabus and corresponding exam. It’s undoubtedly easier to pass under certain exam boards.

I never meant this to turn into a rant about educational assessment. I’ll cover the rest of my weekend, as well as tonight’s tennis matches, in my next post.

By the way, my work has been extended to the end of November. For my mental health as much as anything, that has to be good news.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A bit of everything

It looks like my temporary assignment is coming to an end. I’m scheduled to finish on 5th November. There’s been a definite improvement in my mental health whilst I've had this job – since I ditched Lifeline at least – and it would be great if I could keep it at this level after I finish. I’ve maintained a constant level, or close to it, for a month now; I can’t remember the last time I managed that.

This job is nothing special but that's almost the point. Nothing special means nothing stressful. Saying that, I’m achieving more on a daily basis than I was in my last job and I even feel I have some skills that come in handy here. For instance earlier this week my boss wanted to know how to calculate the GST component of a claim on the new rate. He was impressed when I showed him; in my previous job somebody else would have made a swanky macro which gave you the answer in a fraction of the time.

My boss is a no-nonsense character who has worked for the company for 25 years. He smokes, is about five stone overweight, and has no time for corporate growth days or other such rubbish. And man does he like to swear. I have a tendency to count things, so one day I tallied all the mentions of his f-f-favourite expletive; the count reached 28 by the end of the day. The next day – a particularly bad day for my boss, I think – he dropped a whopping 59 F-bombs. I haven’t counted since. For all his effing and blinding, I find him strangely charming.

Last Saturday I attended the Asperger’s group. It was good to see everyone, including a few people, but it wasn’t easy to make conversation. It gets quite noisy there at times, and when you do have a conversation, someone else is always likely to interrupt. That of course is a common symptom of the condition.

On Sunday morning I met up with Phil who has been living in Denmark since January. I don't know how his relationship with his girlfriend has been going, but he hasn't found Denmark easy. He's can't get residency, which means he can't get a job (not that there are many jobs to be had over there anyway), which means he can't offset the high cost of living over there. He said he regrets making the move and would like to extend his stay in New Zealand, for good if possible. We played two games of pétanque, winning one each (I won the second game on a sudden-death end). The annual Waiheke tournament is in two weeks so it was useful practice.

On Monday night I continued my run of close tennis matches. We played the doubles first and I really felt like the weakest link out there. It reminded me of playing football at school: the more I avoided touching the ball, the better our team did. Superman's big serve and general aggressive play kept us in the match, even if the other team were clearly better. We somehow won the first set 7-5, but we went down in the end, 6-3 in the second set and 10-7 in the super tie-break. We did well to run them so close. My singles match was a strange one: it took my opponent some time to get into the match (he said afterwards that he struggled to read my "unusual" style of play) but once he hit his straps he was unstoppable. I won the first set 6-2, and when I clawed my way back to 5-all in the second I fancied my chances, but I eventually lost 2-6 7-5 6-2. I had no regrets: I played about as well as I could and was in good shape physically right to the end, but in the third set he had far too much firepower. Overall our team lost all six of our matches; five of them could have gone either way.

On Tuesday I tutored that 16-year-old boy again. I think he's a smart kid but just a bit lazy. He's quite happy to do the bare minimum he needs to get through the exam.

Last night we had the men's group. We watched the second half of the Aussie film Malcolm. Bloody good fun. Made we want to go to Melbourne again.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The x factor

Firstly, from now on I'll be moving all those deadly dull poker posts to a separate blog which I've called Plutoman's Poker Planet, so you'll be spared all that badugi bollocks in future. Phew!

On Tuesday night I gave an hour's tuition to a 16-year-old Takapuna Grammar boy. He'll be doing the same exam as the girl from Remuera, only he's not quite at her level. His arithmetic was fine but his algebra needed a lot of work. I asked him to solve the equation (x-4)/2 = 7 for x. "Can't I just say it's 18? he said. Well, yes I suppose, although I'm not sure whether you get all the marks in the exam if you just slap down the answer. I then gave him the very similar expression (x-4)/2 = a and asked him to make x the subject, but he was all at sea there. I can understand how he finds the transition difficult. I always found numbers easier to handle than x's and y's. But I think a major reason why a lot of people find algebra difficult is that they just learn a bunch of rules to get them through their next test or exam, without knowing why they're applying those rules. For instance this kid could solve a quadratic equation like x² + 7x + 10 = 0 with no trouble, by finding two numbers that add to give 7 and multiply to give 10, but didn't know why that method worked. Of course he might also like to know why you'd want to solve a quadratic in the first place, and I can't help him there. I hope I can help him get through his exam in mid-November though.

After an icy blast early in the week things have warmed up again. On Saturday I've got the Asperger's group to look forward to.

Monday, October 11, 2010


It hasn't been a bad week. Last Monday I played interclub tennis. I partnered Superman in the doubles - my volleys were even worse than normal but we just scraped home 4-6 6-4 10-5. That 10-5 score is a super tie-break which comes into play in doubles matches at night. I'm not a fan of it. It makes no sense at all to me that the third (most important) set should be vastly shorter than the first two (less important) ones. I totally understand the need for a reasonable finishing time but the super tie-break seems a rather artificial way of achieving that. I'd prefer just one long set up to nine or ten.

In the singles I faced someone twice my age. It was a real battle - we had a lot of long rallies and games going several deuces - and I came through 6-4 7-5 after 1¾ hours. My opponent was remarkably fit (I tried to imagine how my dad would have coped), but he did tire a bit towards the end as I came from 5-3 down in the second set. Superman was on the sidelines, talking on his phone, not really helping my cause. In the last game I led 40-15 but he came up with two screamers to save the match points. On my third match point I hit what I thought was a decisive lob but he ran back to retrieve it, and in desperation hit a moonball maybe forty feet into the air. Surely it won't clear the net. Oh no. It is coming over. I'm deciding what to do with the ball when Superman shouts Smash! and I smash it straight into the net. I do eventually serve out the match, taking my fifth opportunity. As a team we scored a clean sweep of wins; I was on court the longest.

After the tennis not a lot happened until the weekend. I was happy with that. I did some maths tuition on Thursday night but that was about it. Saturday was an interesting day though. I'm now looking at sharing a flat with Richard and John, another bloke from the Asperger's group. We had a look at a flat in Mt Eden. It was an older house, I'm guessing you might call it a villa, and it would have been very comfortable I'm sure. However it was just out of our price range. The three of us went for a coffee afterwards; we discussed all the things we wanted (or not) out of flatting - this was a useful exercise. I'm hopeful we can find something that suits us all.

Last night I saw an Italian film - Io Sono L'Amore - with Julie at the Bridgeway. Julie's got a bad arm, and when (as usual) she wouldn't stop talking all through the film, I nudged her other arm harder than I meant to, giving her (temporarily) two bad arms. And then my bloody phone went off. I didn't even think I had it on me, and it took me some time scrabbling around in my bag to turn it off. How embarrassing. Regarding the film itself, I wasn't sure what to make of it. A lot of arty camera effects and very dark (I mean literally - sometimes you could hardly make out anything) in places.

I'm currently reading Oliver James' Affluenza. So far it's an excellent read; I'll write about it in a later post I promise.

I should mention that I voted for Len Brown in the Auckland mayoral election, so was obviously happy with the outcome.

KCL commentary

If you're wondering, KCL stands for Kansas City Lowball, another name for single draw deuce-to-seven, so if you're not interested in poker you may as well click the back button now. Here I'm posting what I think are some of the more interesting hands I've played in the last fortnight; just imagine if I'd also included the boring ones. For good measure I've also added a couple of bonus hands from other lowball games.

Hand 1
What’s going on here? Will doesn’t bet his eight after the draw. Judging by all the action he puts in pre-draw, he was drawing to a seven, so I guess he thinks he “missed” his draw.

PokerStars Game #50338251433: Single Draw 2-7 Lowball No Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/09/29 5:13:46 ET
Table 'Jokaste V' 7-max Seat #1 is the button
Seat 1: Metallor666 ($25.05 in chips)
Seat 2: plutoman20 ($31.20 in chips)
Seat 3: Will090681 ($15 in chips)
Seat 5: Peter0985 ($16.45 in chips)
Seat 6: popaionut ($32.65 in chips)
Seat 7: dkpiatt ($42.60 in chips)
plutoman20: posts small blind $0.25
Will090681: posts big blind $0.50
Dealt to plutoman20 [Kh 7d 8h 4d 2c]
Peter0985: raises $1 to $1.50
popaionut: folds
dkpiatt: folds
Metallor666: folds
plutoman20: calls $1.25
Will090681: raises $2 to $3.50
Peter0985: folds
plutoman20: calls $2
plutoman20: discards 1 card [Kh]
Dealt to plutoman20 [7d 8h 4d 2c] [Td]
Will090681: discards 1 card
plutoman20: checks
Will090681: checks
*** SHOW DOWN ***
plutoman20: shows [Td 7d 8h 4d 2c] (Lo: T,8,7,4,2)
Will090681: shows [7s 6s 5h 8c 2s] (Lo: 8,7,6,5,2)
Will090681 collected $8.10 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $8.50 Rake $0.40
Seat 1: Metallor666 (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: plutoman20 (small blind) showed [Td 7d 8h 4d 2c] and lost with Lo: T,8,7,4,2
Seat 3: Will090681 (big blind) showed [7s 6s 5h 8c 2s] and won ($8.10) with Lo: 8,7,6,5,2
Seat 5: Peter0985 folded before Flop
Seat 6: popaionut folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: dkpiatt folded before Flop (didn't bet)

Hand 2
The biggest pot I’ve been involved in so far, and a strange one it was too. I don’t know what Alex was playing at after the draw; his 9-8 was nothing more than a bluff-catcher.

PokerStars Game #50626977303: Single Draw 2-7 Lowball No Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/10/05 1:40:49 ET
Table 'Aurelia III' 7-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 2: DBL_J_22 ($82.25 in chips)
Seat 3: oberon782205 ($27.55 in chips)
Seat 4: alexsongyu ($25.75 in chips)
Seat 5: Greg941 ($36.90 in chips)
Seat 6: bmw_mseries ($38.50 in chips)
Seat 7: plutoman20 ($30.20 in chips)
alexsongyu: posts small blind $0.25
Greg941: posts big blind $0.50
Dealt to plutoman20 [7h 2s 6h Ad 4c]
bmw_mseries: folds
ThissucksPS leaves the table
plutoman20: raises $1 to $1.50
DBL_J_22: folds
oberon782205: folds
alexsongyu: calls $1.25
Greg941: folds
alexsongyu: discards 1 card
plutoman20: discards 1 card [Ad]
Dealt to plutoman20 [7h 2s 6h 4c] [5s]
alexsongyu: checks
plutoman20: bets $2
alexsongyu: raises $4 to $6
plutoman20: raises $22.70 to $28.70 and is all-in
alexsongyu: calls $18.25 and is all-in
Uncalled bet ($4.45) returned to plutoman20
*** SHOW DOWN ***
plutoman20: shows [7h 2s 6h 5s 4c] (Lo: 7,6,5,4,2)
alexsongyu: shows [2h 9c 8c 6d 4d] (Lo: 9,8,6,4,2)
plutoman20 collected $49.45 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $52 Rake $2.55
Seat 2: DBL_J_22 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: oberon782205 (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: alexsongyu (small blind) showed [2h 9c 8c 6d 4d] and lost with Lo: 9,8,6,4,2
Seat 5: Greg941 (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 6: bmw_mseries folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: plutoman20 showed [7h 2s 6h 5s 4c] and won ($49.45) with Lo: 7,6,5,4,2

Hand 3
I three-bet out of position with just a draw, albeit a very good one. I’m not sure if that’s ever a good play. However, this time my early aggression seems to help me get my big hand paid off when I hit it.

Dealt to plutoman20 [Qs 2s 4s 6d 7d]
Jayme_Mackow: folds
LaDaL_1er: folds
trouble1111: raises $1 to $1.50
carlosrap: folds
bmw_mseries: folds
plutoman20: raises $2.50 to $4
trouble1111: calls $2.50
plutoman20: discards 1 card [Qs]
Dealt to plutoman20 [2s 4s 6d 7d] [3c]
trouble1111: discards 1 card
plutoman20: bets $5
trouble1111: calls $5
*** SHOW DOWN ***
plutoman20: shows [3c 2s 4s 6d 7d] (Lo: 7,6,4,3,2)
trouble1111: mucks hand
plutoman20 collected $17.40 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $18.25 Rake $0.85
Seat 1: plutoman20 (big blind) showed [3c 2s 4s 6d 7d] and won ($17.40) with Lo: 7,6,4,3,2
Seat 2: Jayme_Mackow folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: LaDaL_1er folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: trouble1111 mucked [4d Qc 7h 3s 6h]
Seat 5: carlosrap (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)Seat 6: bmw_mseries (small blind) folded before Flop

Hand 4
He took a long time to fold here. He looked a competent player and I’m guessing he had a rough nine of some sort. In hindsight I wish I’d four-bet to $12 instead of going all-in. I don’t think he’s calling my shove without a 9-7 at least, meaning I’m odds-on to lose if he calls.

PokerStars Game #50772084629: Single Draw 2-7 Lowball No Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/10/08 1:13:03 ET
Table 'Lumen VII' 7-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: susankramer ($9.65 in chips)
Seat 2: Ic3-T ($54.35 in chips)
Seat 3: igrok.o777o ($15.85 in chips)
Seat 4: swordfish910 ($36 in chips)
Seat 5: A Red Horse ($22.80 in chips)
Seat 7: plutoman20 ($43.75 in chips)
swordfish910: posts small blind $0.25
A Red Horse: posts big blind $0.50
illarion878: sits out
Dealt to plutoman20 [3c 9c 5d 4d 2s]
plutoman20: raises $1 to $1.50
susankramer: folds
Ic3-T: folds
igrok.o777o: folds
swordfish910: folds
A Red Horse: raises $3.50 to $5
plutoman20: raises $38.75 to $43.75 and is all-in
A Red Horse: folds
Uncalled bet ($38.75) returned to plutoman20
plutoman20 collected $10.25 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $10.25 Rake $0
Seat 1: susankramer folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: Ic3-T folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: igrok.o777o (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: swordfish910 (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 5: A Red Horse (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 7: plutoman20 collected ($10.25)

Hand 5
I hope to knock out a few people when I three-bet my 10-8. That plan flies out the window when we go to the draw four-way. I break my hand even though an 8-7 isn’t really something I want to go war with should I make it. Luckily I do make an 8-7, it holds up, and I take down a big pot.

PokerStars Game #50847845879: Single Draw 2-7 Lowball No Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/10/09 15:44:33 ET
Table 'Janacek V' 7-max Seat #1 is the button
Seat 1: swordfish910 ($32.90 in chips)
Seat 2: Ruskor777 ($22.10 in chips)
Seat 3: jose weston ($51.05 in chips)
Seat 4: Ic3-T ($70.60 in chips)
Seat 5: Angyalfold ($18.95 in chips)
Seat 6: plutoman20 ($27.55 in chips)
Seat 7: annsarah ($20 in chips)
Ruskor777: posts small blind $0.25
jose weston: posts big blind $0.50
Dealt to plutoman20 [Ts 7d 8s 2c 4c]
Ic3-T: folds
Angyalfold: raises $1 to $1.50
plutoman20: raises $2.50 to $4
annsarah: calls $4
swordfish910: folds
Ruskor777: calls $3.75
jose weston: folds
Angyalfold: calls $2.50
Ruskor777: discards 1 card
Angyalfold: discards 1 card
plutoman20: discards 1 card [Ts]
Dealt to plutoman20 [7d 8s 2c 4c] [5h]
annsarah: discards 2 cards
Ruskor777: bets $2
Angyalfold: calls $2
plutoman20: raises $5 to $7
annsarah: folds
Ruskor777: folds
Angyalfold: calls $5
*** SHOW DOWN ***
plutoman20: shows [5h 7d 8s 2c 4c] (Lo: 8,7,5,4,2)
Angyalfold: mucks hand
plutoman20 collected $30.95 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $32.50 Rake $1.55
Seat 1: swordfish910 (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: Ruskor777 (small blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 3: jose weston (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 4: Ic3-T folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 5: Angyalfold mucked [9c 3h 6h 2d 5c]
Seat 6: plutoman20 showed [5h 7d 8s 2c 4c] and won ($30.95) with Lo: 8,7,5,4,2
Seat 7: annsarah folded on the Flop

Hand 6
I get lucky here. Volk happens to have $5.50 left so I raise to that amount after the draw. That’s a bit more than I normally would, and it seems to be just enough to get ThaSlosh to fold the best hand. He took a long time over his decision which actually wasn’t a bad one: I’ll have a better hand most of the time here.

PokerStars Game #50850805671: Single Draw 2-7 Lowball No Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/10/09 16:46:35 ET
Table 'Una II' 7-max Seat #1 is the button
Seat 1: popaionut ($70.95 in chips)
Seat 2: Angyalfold ($57.05 in chips)
Seat 3: Ruskor777 ($5.40 in chips)
Seat 4: ThaSlosh23 ($24.65 in chips)
Seat 6: plutoman20 ($34.25 in chips)
Seat 7: volk0076 ($7.25 in chips)
Angyalfold: posts small blind $0.25
Ruskor777: posts big blind $0.50
bmw_mseries: sits out
Dealt to plutoman20 [6c Jc 7s 8s 2c]
ThaSlosh23: calls $0.50
plutoman20: raises $1.25 to $1.75
volk0076: calls $1.75
popaionut: folds
Angyalfold: folds
Ruskor777: folds
ThaSlosh23: calls $1.25
ThaSlosh23: discards 1 card
plutoman20: discards 1 card [Jc]
Dealt to plutoman20 [6c 7s 8s 2c] [4c]
volk0076: stands pat
ThaSlosh23: bets $1.50
plutoman20: raises $4 to $5.50
volk0076: folds
ThaSlosh23 said, "34578"
ThaSlosh23: folds
Uncalled bet ($4) returned to plutoman20
plutoman20 collected $8.60 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $9 Rake $0.40
Seat 1: popaionut (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: Angyalfold (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 3: Ruskor777 (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 4: ThaSlosh23 folded on the Flop
Seat 6: plutoman20 collected ($8.60)
Seat 7: volk0076 folded on the Flop

Hand 7
I think it would have been easier just to pat this hand when Volk draws two, especially because I’ve got a gutshot straight draw. When he check-raises me it could be a bluff but I doubt it, so I fold.

PokerStars Game #50852518139: Single Draw 2-7 Lowball No Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/10/09 17:24:21 ET
Table 'Una II' 7-max Seat #6 is the button
Seat 1: billymac222 ($22.60 in chips)
Seat 2: Angyalfold ($57.30 in chips)
Seat 3: Ruskor777 ($25.25 in chips)
Seat 4: ThaSlosh23 ($14.20 in chips)
Seat 5: bmw_mseries ($19.25 in chips)
Seat 6: plutoman20 ($52.45 in chips)
Seat 7: volk0076 ($17.50 in chips)
volk0076: posts small blind $0.25
billymac222: posts big blind $0.50
Dealt to plutoman20 [9s 8c 6h 5h Qd]
Angyalfold: folds
Ruskor777: folds
ThaSlosh23: folds
bmw_mseries: folds
plutoman20: raises $1 to $1.50
volk0076: calls $1.25
billymac222: folds
volk0076: discards 2 cards
plutoman20: discards 1 card [Qd]
Dealt to plutoman20 [9s 8c 6h 5h] [3s]
volk0076: checks
plutoman20: bets $2
volk0076: raises $4 to $6
plutoman20: folds
Uncalled bet ($4) returned to volk0076
volk0076 collected $7.15 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $7.50 Rake $0.35
Seat 1: billymac222 (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 2: Angyalfold folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: Ruskor777 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: ThaSlosh23 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 5: bmw_mseries folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: plutoman20 (button) folded on the Flop
Seat 7: volk0076 (small blind) collected ($7.15)

Hand 8
Immediately prior to this hand I showed down the second nuts. I try to capitalise of that good fortune by representing a big hand with my three-bet. I have no idea what Bob is doing calling the three-bet cold and drawing two.

PokerStars Game #50921453151: Single Draw 2-7 Lowball No Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/10/11 2:31:47 ET
Table 'Quintilla V' 7-max Seat #4 is the button
Seat 1: popaionut ($19.25 in chips)
Seat 2: ThaSlosh23 ($24.30 in chips)
Seat 3: URIEL_ROCK ($44.65 in chips)
Seat 4: general85555 ($19.80 in chips)
Seat 5: plutoman20 ($48.10 in chips)
Seat 6: BOB LOBLAW44 ($6.55 in chips)
Seat 7: cfh2401 ($33.10 in chips)
plutoman20: posts small blind $0.25
BOB LOBLAW44: posts big blind $0.50
Dealt to plutoman20 [2h 6s 5c 5d 7d]
cfh2401: folds
popaionut: folds
ThaSlosh23: folds
general85555: raises $1 to $1.50
plutoman20: raises $2.50 to $4
BOB LOBLAW44: calls $3.50
general85555: folds
plutoman20: discards 1 card [5d]
Dealt to plutoman20 [2h 6s 5c 7d] [8s]
BOB LOBLAW44: discards 2 cards
plutoman20: bets $44.10 and is all-in
BOB LOBLAW44: calls $2.55 and is all-in
Uncalled bet ($41.55) returned to plutoman20
*** SHOW DOWN ***
plutoman20: shows [2h 6s 5c 8s 7d] (Lo: 8,7,6,5,2)
BOB LOBLAW44: shows [9c 7h Td 4c 3h] (Lo: T,9,7,4,3)
plutoman20 collected $13.90 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $14.60 Rake $0.70
Seat 1: popaionut folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: ThaSlosh23 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: URIEL_ROCK folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: general85555 (button) folded before Flop
Seat 5: plutoman20 (small blind) showed [2h 6s 5c 8s 7d] and won ($13.90) with Lo: 8,7,6,5,2
Seat 6: BOB LOBLAW44 (big blind) showed [9c 7h Td 4c 3h] and lost with Lo: T,9,7,4,3
Seat 7: cfh2401 folded before Flop (didn't bet)

Hand 9
Unfortunately I've lost the history for this one. I was getting endless junk in this session; I rarely saw a hand without at least two picture cards or aces. To make matters worse I had an aggressive regular player on my right who raised pre-draw at every opportunity. This particular hand I was dealt QJ on the button. More junk. It folded round to the aggressive guy and sure enough he made it $1.50. I re-raised to $4, he called and drew one, I patted my QJ. It turned out he had a genuine draw (to an eight I think) but he paired up so I won the pot and just as importantly I got to show my QJ.

Bonus badugi hand
I've been monstered more times than I care to remember in badugi, but I can't remember losing with a dealt hand as good as number seven before. If my opponent had had a bigger stack I'm not sure what the correct play would have been on the river. I might just have called his river bet. I also think Bingohero should have got out of the way before the last draw; when it was two more bets back to him he was clearly up against some big hands.

PokerStars Game #50773300165: Badugi Limit ($1/$2 USD) - 2010/10/08 2:17:08 ET
Table 'Hersilia' 8-max Seat #6 is the button
Seat 1: CowboyBeBop5 ($23.75 in chips)
Seat 2: bingohero ($19.75 in chips)
Seat 3: fearmybet ($10.25 in chips)
Seat 5: MEEEEEET ($14.75 in chips)
Seat 6: plutoman20 ($75.75 in chips)
Seat 7: Lumelia ($80.50 in chips)
Lumelia: posts small blind $0.50
CowboyBeBop5: posts big blind $1
adrian432: sits out
Dealt to plutoman20 [6h 4d As 2c]
bingohero: calls $1
fearmybet: folds
MEEEEEET: calls $1
plutoman20: raises $1 to $2
Lumelia: folds
CowboyBeBop5: folds
bingohero: calls $1
MEEEEEET: calls $1
*** FIRST DRAW ***
bingohero: stands pat
MEEEEEET: discards 1 card
plutoman20: stands pat on [6h 4d As 2c]
bingohero: checks
MEEEEEET: checks
plutoman20: bets $1
bingohero: calls $1
MEEEEEET: calls $1
bingohero: discards 1 card
MEEEEEET: discards 1 card
plutoman20: stands pat on [6h 4d As 2c]
bingohero: checks
MEEEEEET: checks
plutoman20: bets $2
bingohero: calls $2
MEEEEEET: raises $2 to $4
plutoman20: raises $2 to $6
bingohero: calls $4
MEEEEEET: raises $2 to $8
Betting is capped
plutoman20: calls $2
bingohero: calls $2
*** THIRD DRAW ***
Chuchulainn joins the table at seat #8
bingohero: discards 1 card
MEEEEEET: stands pat
plutoman20: stands pat on [6h 4d As 2c]
bingohero: checks
MEEEEEET: bets $2
Chuchulainn leaves the table
plutoman20: raises $2 to $4
bingohero: folds
MEEEEEET: calls $1.75 and is all-in
Uncalled bet ($0.25) returned to plutoman20
*** SHOW DOWN ***
plutoman20: shows [6h 4d As 2c] (Badugi: 6,4,2,A)
MEEEEEET: shows [3d Ah 5c 4s] (Badugi: 5,4,3,A)
MEEEEEET collected $41 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $42 Rake $1
Seat 1: CowboyBeBop5 (big blind) folded before the Draw
Seat 2: bingohero folded after the 3rd Draw
Seat 3: fearmybet folded before the Draw (didn't bet)
Seat 5: MEEEEEET showed [3d Ah 5c 4s] and won ($41) with a Badugi: 5,4,3,A
Seat 6: plutoman20 (button) showed [6h 4d As 2c] and lost with a Badugi: 6,4,2,A
Seat 7: Lumelia (small blind) folded before the Draw

Bonus triple draw hand
I don't play a lot of triple draw, and when I do I rarely try this sort of thing. But when I hit trip fours on the second draw I give it a go. I'm sure this is a losing play in the long run.

PokerStars Game #50855353068: Triple Draw 2-7 Lowball Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/10/09 18:27:30 ET
Table 'Lydia VI' 6-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: jj9201 ($5.30 in chips)
Seat 2: Allanws ($12.45 in chips)
Seat 3: SHRAM 11 ($17.10 in chips)
Seat 4: Alexsar777 ($4.25 in chips)
Seat 5: AKrAsAtA ($10 in chips)
Seat 6: plutoman20 ($10.70 in chips)
Alexsar777: posts small blind $0.10
AKrAsAtA: posts big blind $0.25
Dealt to plutoman20 [2s 4c Qs Qh 6d]
plutoman20: raises $0.25 to $0.50
jj9201: folds
Allanws: calls $0.50
SHRAM 11: calls $0.50
Alexsar777: folds
AKrAsAtA: folds
*** FIRST DRAW ***
plutoman20: discards 2 cards [Qs Qh]
Dealt to plutoman20 [2s 4c 6d] [Kd Th]
Allanws: discards 2 cards
SHRAM 11: discards 1 card
plutoman20: checks
Allanws: checks
SHRAM 11: bets $0.25
plutoman20: calls $0.25
Allanws: calls $0.25
plutoman20: discards 2 cards [Kd Th]
Dealt to plutoman20 [2s 4c 6d] [4s 4d]
Allanws: discards 2 cards
SHRAM 11: discards 1 card
plutoman20: checks
Allanws: checks
SHRAM 11: bets $0.50
plutoman20: raises $0.50 to $1
Allanws: calls $1
SHRAM 11: calls $0.50
*** THIRD DRAW ***
plutoman20: stands pat on [2s 4c 6d 4s 4d]
Allanws: discards 1 card
SHRAM 11: discards 1 card
plutoman20: bets $0.50
Allanws: folds
SHRAM 11: folds
Uncalled bet ($0.50) returned to plutoman20
plutoman20 collected $5.35 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $5.60 Rake $0.25
Seat 1: jj9201 folded before the Draw (didn't bet)
Seat 2: Allanws folded after the 3rd Draw
Seat 3: SHRAM 11 (button) folded after the 3rd Draw
Seat 4: Alexsar777 (small blind) folded before the Draw
Seat 5: AKrAsAtA (big blind) folded before the Draw
Seat 6: plutoman20 collected ($5.35)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Humdinger to start the season

Yesterday I played my first interclub match of the season. It was a great afternoon for it too, if a little windy (well quite a lot windy, actually). For some reason I was playing in a higher grade than normal, albeit in the bottom position in our team. In the men's match I was lucky enough to have a very good partner. I needed him. At times I felt bad because of my ineptitude at the net. It was nip-and-tuck in the first set which went all the way to a tie-break. The standard of play in that shoot-out was possibly the best of the set; we eventually won it 7-5. My partner's serve was less consistent in the second set, I found little penetration with my groundstrokes, and everything seemed much more of a struggle. We dodged three set points in a lengthy tenth game, then had two match points of our own at 6-5. On the first of these my partner missed a put-away volley, then on the second I made a hash of the return. The next point was one of the day's many long rallies: they had me running all over the court, chasing down balls, getting further and further out of position until finally I'd had it. I let out a loud shriek at the loss of that point, in frustration I guess, and blasted the return out on the following point. On to a second tie-break. At 6-5, our third match point, my partner said, "this is your big moment" as I stepped up to serve. Thanks for telling me that. I missed my first serve, the second only dribbled in, and we lost that point as well as the next two. Going into the third set our opponents had the momentum and any confidence I had in my shots seemed to ebb away. At 4-2 down the match was ebbing away too, and I consciously became more aggressive. This seemed to work, and I felt the match start to turn in our direction when I hit a down-the-line winner. My partner grew in confidence and I was grateful that he had the chance to serve out the match at 5-4. On our fifth match point he put away a smash to finish one of the best doubles matches I've ever played in.

In contrast we lost the mixed match 6-1 6-2, but the score didn't do justice to all the long rallies and deuce games we had. My partner had the same first name as my mum but was a few years older. This meant I did all the donkey work, for very little reward, not that I minded. To be playing tennis at a reasonable level at that age is no mean achievement.

It was an enjoyable afternoon all round. The food we had after the tennis was perhaps the most enjoyable part of it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

One more month at work

I've just dumped $25 in a session of single draw. Let's face it though, if you go 139 hands without making better than a 9-8, you'll be struggling.

My temporary job has just become slightly less temporary: I've been told I'll have it till the end of October at least. That's good news.

Tennis tomorrow. My first interclub match of the season. For some reason I'm playing in a scarily difficult league. I'll do my best to enjoy it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Three more hands

Maybe I should set up a separate blog for poker, but anyway here are three hands from last night's short but profitable single draw session.

Hand 1
I've never taken much notice of so-called timing tells before. There are all kinds of reasons why a player might take a long time to act that have nothing to do with the strength of their hand. Perhaps I should have taken some notice here though. Sariia took a long time to check, then I decided to bluff when I paired my second top card.

PokerStars Game #50235683826: Single Draw 2-7 Lowball No Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/09/27 3:20:20 ET
Table 'Philomela IX' 7-max Seat #7 is the button
Seat 1: IOthLetter ($48.70 in chips)
Seat 2: DreamerRay ($54.80 in chips)
Seat 4: SARIIA ($38.80 in chips)
Seat 5: plutoman20 ($28.25 in chips)
Seat 6: B4MyEyes ($91.05 in chips)
Seat 7: shadetree26 ($23.90 in chips)
IOthLetter: posts small blind $0.25
DreamerRay: posts big blind $0.50
Dealt to plutoman20 [9d 6h As 3d 5s]
SARIIA: calls $0.50
plutoman20: raises $1.25 to $1.75
B4MyEyes: folds
shadetree26: folds
IOthLetter: folds
ge0rgia1 joins the table at seat #3
DreamerRay: folds
SARIIA: calls $1.25
SARIIA: discards 1 card
plutoman20: discards 1 card [As]
Dealt to plutoman20 [9d 6h 3d 5s] [6d]
SARIIA: checks
plutoman20: bets $3SARIIA: calls $3
*** SHOW DOWN ***
plutoman20: shows [9d 6h 6d 3d 5s] (Lo: a pair of Sixes)
SARIIA: shows [7c 4d 2h 9h 3s] (Lo: 9,7,4,3,2)
SARIIA collected $9.75 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $10.25 Rake $0.50
Seat 1: IOthLetter (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 2: DreamerRay (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 4: SARIIA showed [7c 4d 2h 9h 3s] and won ($9.75) with Lo: 9,7,4,3,2
Seat 5: plutoman20 showed [9d 6h 6d 3d 5s] and lost with Lo: a pair of Sixes
Seat 6: B4MyEyes folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: shadetree26 (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)

Hand 2
Georgia checks post-draw, I hit my smooth nine and bet out, but then she (?) shoves! Did she have a monster? Her line isn't something I'd be likely to take myself, so I couldn't easily tell what it meant. To be honest when I called I expected to see a top-ten hand, but at least I'd get some information which is precious to me as a new player in the game.

PokerStars Game #50235868652: Single Draw 2-7 Lowball No Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/09/27 3:31:16 ET
Table 'Philomela IX' 7-max Seat #5 is the button
Seat 1: IOthLetter ($54.50 in chips)
Seat 2: D.B.Cuper ($14.90 in chips)
Seat 3: ge0rgia1 ($19.95 in chips)
Seat 5: plutoman20 ($24.05 in chips)
Seat 6: B4MyEyes ($88.90 in chips)
Seat 7: shadetree26 ($19.30 in chips)
B4MyEyes: posts small blind $0.25
shadetree26: posts big blind $0.50
Dealt to plutoman20 [9d 3d 4s 2h Ks]
IOthLetter: folds
D.B.Cuper: folds
ge0rgia1: raises $1 to $1.50
plutoman20: calls $1.50
B4MyEyes: folds
shadetree26: calls $1
shadetree26: discards 2 cards
ge0rgia1: stands pat
plutoman20: discards 1 card [Ks]
Dealt to plutoman20 [9d 3d 4s 2h] [6d]
shadetree26: checks
ge0rgia1: checks
plutoman20: bets $3
shadetree26: folds
ge0rgia1: raises $15.45 to $18.45 and is all-in
plutoman20: calls $15.45
*** SHOW DOWN ***
ge0rgia1: shows [9h 5s 8d 2s Jh] (Lo: J,9,8,5,2)
plutoman20: shows [9d 3d 4s 2h 6d] (Lo: 9,6,4,3,2)
plutoman20 collected $39.60 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $41.65 Rake $2.05
Seat 1: IOthLetter folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: D.B.Cuper folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: ge0rgia1 showed [9h 5s 8d 2s Jh] and lost with Lo: J,9,8,5,2
Seat 5: plutoman20 (button) showed [9d 3d 4s 2h 6d] and won ($39.60) with Lo: 9,6,4,3,2
Seat 6: B4MyEyes (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 7: shadetree26 (big blind) folded on the Flop

Hand 3
This was a strange one. What hand could he do this with? He raises under the gun, calls my three-bet, but then draws two after I pat. Maybe something like T9732? And what about my bet after the draw? Should I have just checked here? By the way he took a long time to fold so it's likely he hit something, perhaps a jack. It's possible I even got him to fold the best hand, although I doubt it.

PokerStars Game #50236218004: Single Draw 2-7 Lowball No Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/09/27 3:51:50 ET
Table 'Philomela IX' 7-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: bassviol ($19.10 in chips)
Seat 3: ge0rgia1 ($58.15 in chips)
Seat 4: SARIIA ($41.40 in chips)
Seat 5: plutoman20 ($53.75 in chips)
Seat 6: B4MyEyes ($75.80 in chips)
SARIIA: posts small blind $0.25
plutoman20: posts big blind $0.50
Dealt to plutoman20 [Td 7h 8d 5s 4h]
B4MyEyes: raises $1 to $1.50
bassviol: folds
ge0rgia1: folds
SARIIA: folds
plutoman20: raises $2.25 to $3.75
B4MyEyes: calls $2.25
plutoman20: stands pat on [Td 7h 8d 5s 4h]
B4MyEyes: discards 2 cards
plutoman20: bets $5
B4MyEyes: folds
Uncalled bet ($5) returned to plutoman20
plutoman20 collected $7.40 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $7.75 Rake $0.35
Seat 1: bassviol folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: ge0rgia1 (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: SARIIA (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 5: plutoman20 (big blind) collected ($7.40)
Seat 6: B4MyEyes folded on the Flop

Monday, September 27, 2010

Work is good

This temporary job has given my self-esteem a much-needed boost. And the best thing is, it's just a job; I don't have to get involved in, or even be aware of, any internal politics. I just have to follow the three golden rules of temp jobs that a recruitment agent told me a few years ago in the UK. Rule number one: you turn up. Rule number two: you do your job. Rule number three: you go home. As it happens I've been more productive on average than I was in my previous job which masqueraded as something really important but was anything but.

On Saturday I went round to Richard's place. It was good to catch up and just have a chat. We talked about flatting and a possible third member of the Asperger's group who might join us. The three of us will hopefully meet up this coming weekend.

I went to tennis at the club yesterday. I totally forgot it was their opening day so I didn't bring a plate, let alone a plate with food on it. They managed to get John Banks in to do the official opening. "I'm an honorary member of 340 clubs throughout New Zealand," he said, "and this is my favourite." And I'm sure you've told the other 339 the same thing! I won't be voting for him and the upcoming mayoral elections for the Super City. My level of tennis was surprisingly OK.

I'm so glad I pulled out of Lifeline. I needed some balance in my life and that was the only reasonable way - for now - I could achieve it.

My grandmother has now gone into a home in Cottenham near Cambridge. Getting her there wasn't easy; she wasn't a happy bunny to put it mildly. I'm going to write her a letter, perhaps even during a dull moment at work.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lowball draw musings II

I've finally kissed goodbye to 25c-50c badugi after beating the game, over 30,000 hands, for six big bets per hundred. My guess is that I had slightly above average luck in that time: I won 58% of showdowns - a high number even when you consider that I drew much smoother than many of my opponents.

Yesterday I cashed out $1640 leaving a little over $600 in my account, just enough to have a crack at no-limit single draw. After 500 hands of that I'm marginally in the black. I realise I have some leaks that need repairing. Here are some hands that spring to mind:

Hand 1. I'm dealt a very breakable J97 on the button. There's a raise in early position, then a call, so I three-bet hoping to get a better hand to break. They both call and draw one; I stand pat. One of my opponents bets small after the draw, and I simply fold. If I get that hand again I'll just call the raise and draw to the nine.

Hand 2. I raise under the gun with a draw to the nut nine and get three callers. All four of us draw one. I make a 9-7 and bet $4 into a $6 pot. My lone caller turns over an 8-6. How did he not raise me there? This game seems a bit like five-card draw in that certain people only raise with absolute monsters and sometimes not even then. In future, with three people behind me, I'll probably just check-call there.

Hand 3. I call a raise in position with a nine draw. We're heads up, he pats and I draw one, pairing my nine. He checks post-draw and I bet $4 into a $3 pot. He calls me with a T98. I don't think the bluff was too bad, but the overbet possibly screams "please fold!" I should have bet $2 or $2.50, as I would if I'd hit my draw.

One thing I'm still not sure of is how much action to put in with pat tens and better. This afternoon I four-bet my 10-7 to $11 pre-draw. My sole opponent had a 10-8. I was a little surprised to win that. A few hands later I four-bet to $9 in position with the nut ten, a great two-way hand, and that held up too.

This game will take some figuring out, but I'm looking forward to the challenge.

Update: four hands from what I thought was an interesting session.

Hand 1
Should I break here? I tried to get to showdown as cheaply as possible. I thought there was a reasonable chance my smooth ten would hold up, and a slimmer chance of drawing better, though this doesn't take into account potential extra money I could make from Brick_Mag if I hit a monster.
PokerStars Game #50183666376: Single Draw 2-7 Lowball No Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/09/26 2:46:16 ET
Table 'Olshaniya IV' 7-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: 2J4U ($33.90 in chips)
Seat 2: dominikavery ($8.40 in chips)
Seat 3: BRICK_ MAG ($32.15 in chips)
Seat 4: plutoman20 ($37.30 in chips)
Seat 5: Greg941 ($26.05 in chips)
Seat 6: B4MyEyes ($66.10 in chips)
Seat 7: REDFALL ($26 in chips)
plutoman20: posts small blind $0.25
Greg941: posts big blind $0.50
Dealt to plutoman20 [3s 6c Tc 5c 2d]
B4MyEyes: folds
REDFALL: folds
2J4U: folds
dominikavery: raises $1 to $1.50
BRICK_ MAG: raises $3.50 to $5
plutoman20: calls $4.75
Greg941: folds
dominikavery: raises $3.40 to $8.40 and is all-in
BRICK_ MAG: calls $3.40
plutoman20: calls $3.40
plutoman20: stands pat on [3s 6c Tc 5c 2d]
dominikavery: discards 1 card
BRICK_ MAG: stands pat
plutoman20: checks
BRICK_ MAG: checks
*** SHOW DOWN ***
plutoman20: shows [3s 6c Tc 5c 2d] (Lo: T,6,5,3,2)
dominikavery: shows [2c Jh 4d 6d 7d] (Lo: J,7,6,4,2)
BRICK_ MAG: shows [7s 8c 5s 2h 9s] (Lo: 9,8,7,5,2)
BRICK_ MAG collected $24.45 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $25.70 Rake $1.25
Seat 1: 2J4U folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: dominikavery showed [2c Jh 4d 6d 7d] and lost with Lo: J,7,6,4,2
Seat 3: BRICK_ MAG (button) showed [7s 8c 5s 2h 9s] and won ($24.45) with Lo: 9,8,7,5,2
Seat 4: plutoman20 (small blind) showed [3s 6c Tc 5c 2d] and lost with Lo: T,6,5,3,2
Seat 5: Greg941 (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 6: B4MyEyes folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: REDFALL folded before Flop (didn't bet)

Hand 2
I'm not even involved in this one, but what's going on after the draw? 2J4U seems like a good regular player. Perhaps these two have some history, and Bob knows there's a good chance the huge overbet is a bluff, hence the call. I don't really get Bob's small blocking bet either.

PokerStars Game #50184615005: Single Draw 2-7 Lowball No Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/09/26 3:36:36 ET
Table 'Olshaniya IV' 7-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: 2J4U ($20.20 in chips)
Seat 2: dominikavery ($50.25 in chips)
Seat 3: BRICK_ MAG ($52.40 in chips)
Seat 4: plutoman20 ($27 in chips)
Seat 5: BOB LOBLAW44 ($27.15 in chips)
Seat 6: B4MyEyes ($55.90 in chips)
Seat 7: Flyers19001 ($10.35 in chips)
plutoman20: posts small blind $0.25
BOB LOBLAW44: posts big blind $0.50
Dealt to plutoman20 [Qh Js 2s Tc Kc]
B4MyEyes: folds
Flyers19001: folds
2J4U: raises $1.50 to $2
dominikavery: folds
BRICK_ MAG: folds
plutoman20: folds
BOB LOBLAW44: calls $1.50
BOB LOBLAW44: stands pat
2J4U: discards 1 card
BOB LOBLAW44: bets $1
2J4U: raises $11 to $12
BOB LOBLAW44: calls $11
*** SHOW DOWN ***
2J4U: shows [6h 9d 3d 4d 9h] (Lo: a pair of Nines)
BOB LOBLAW44: shows [8c 7c Ts 4s 3s] (Lo: T,8,7,4,3)
BOB LOBLAW44 collected $26.85 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $28.25 Rake $1.40
Seat 1: 2J4U showed [6h 9d 3d 4d 9h] and lost with Lo: a pair of Nines
Seat 2: dominikavery folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: BRICK_ MAG (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: plutoman20 (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 5: BOB LOBLAW44 (big blind) showed [8c 7c Ts 4s 3s] and won ($26.85) with Lo: T,8,7,4,3
Seat 6: B4MyEyes folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: Flyers19001 folded before Flop (didn't bet)

Hand 3
I had a good two-way hand in position here. If he'd patted (as I expected) I'd have broken. By just calling his four-bet and patting, I'm setting myself up for a possible bluff; if he bets say $10 after the draw, then what?

PokerStars Game #50184745026: Single Draw 2-7 Lowball No Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/09/26 3:43:15 ET
Table 'Olshaniya IV' 7-max Seat #4 is the button
Seat 1: 2J4U ($51.20 in chips)
Seat 2: dominikavery ($48.25 in chips)
Seat 3: BRICK_ MAG ($52.90 in chips)
Seat 4: plutoman20 ($25.45 in chips)
Seat 5: BOB LOBLAW44 ($35.75 in chips)
Seat 6: B4MyEyes ($57.65 in chips)
Seat 7: Flyers19001 ($8.90 in chips)
BOB LOBLAW44: posts small blind $0.25
B4MyEyes: posts big blind $0.50
Dealt to plutoman20 [Th 4s 2s 8h 5h]
Flyers19001: folds
2J4U: folds
dominikavery: raises $1 to $1.50
BRICK_ MAG: folds
plutoman20: raises $2.50 to $4
BOB LOBLAW44: folds
B4MyEyes: folds
dominikavery: raises $4.50 to $8.50
plutoman20: calls $4.50
dominikavery: discards 1 card
plutoman20: stands pat on [Th 4s 2s 8h 5h]
dominikavery: checks
plutoman20: checks
*** SHOW DOWN ***
dominikavery: shows [6d 3s 7c 5d 7d] (Lo: a pair of Sevens)
plutoman20: shows [Th 4s 2s 8h 5h] (Lo: T,8,5,4,2)
plutoman20 collected $16.90 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $17.75 Rake $0.85
Seat 1: 2J4U folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: dominikavery showed [6d 3s 7c 5d 7d] and lost with Lo: a pair of Sevens
Seat 3: BRICK_ MAG folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: plutoman20 (button) showed [Th 4s 2s 8h 5h] and won ($16.90) with Lo: T,8,5,4,2
Seat 5: BOB LOBLAW44 (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 6: B4MyEyes (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 7: Flyers19001 folded before Flop (didn't bet)

Hand 4
Seven hundred hands and I'd never been all in, or even close to it. I'd been lamenting the total lack of action my pat monsters had generated, while anything marginal had always got plenty of callers. Then this hand happened. When Bob called my all-in, I didn't expect to see a 9-8.

PokerStars Game #50185528152: Single Draw 2-7 Lowball No Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/09/26 4:23:02 ET
Table 'Olshaniya IV' 7-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: sjcroy99 ($19.50 in chips)
Seat 2: dominikavery ($31.15 in chips)
Seat 3: BRICK_ MAG ($49.15 in chips)
Seat 4: plutoman20 ($22.50 in chips)
Seat 5: BOB LOBLAW44 ($49.40 in chips)
Seat 7: ThaSlosh23 ($16.65 in chips)
plutoman20: posts small blind $0.25
BOB LOBLAW44: posts big blind $0.50
Greg941: sits out
Dealt to plutoman20 [2d 5c 4s 8d 6h]
ThaSlosh23: folds
sjcroy99: folds
dominikavery: folds
BRICK_ MAG: folds
plutoman20: raises $1 to $1.50
BOB LOBLAW44: raises $1.50 to $3
plutoman20: raises $4 to $7
BOB LOBLAW44: calls $4
plutoman20: stands pat on [2d 5c 4s 8d 6h]
BOB LOBLAW44: stands pat
plutoman20: bets $15.50 and is all-in
BOB LOBLAW44: calls $15.50
*** SHOW DOWN ***
plutoman20: shows [2d 5c 4s 8d 6h] (Lo: 8,6,5,4,2)
BOB LOBLAW44: shows [2s 9c 5s 4h 8c] (Lo: 9,8,5,4,2)
plutoman20 collected $42.80 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $45 Rake $2.20
Seat 1: sjcroy99 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: dominikavery folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: BRICK_ MAG (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: plutoman20 (small blind) showed [2d 5c 4s 8d 6h] and won ($42.80) with Lo: 8,6,5,4,2
Seat 5: BOB LOBLAW44 (big blind) showed [2s 9c 5s 4h 8c] and lost with Lo: 9,8,5,4,2
Seat 7: ThaSlosh23 folded before Flop (didn't bet)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cutting my Lifeline

I had my Lifeline session after work on Friday. After a busy week during which I'd failed to look after myself adequately, it was the last thing I wanted to do. In the session I said I was stressed with having far too much on my plate, and was told I should make a list and drop one or two items from it. I made this list (in my head) and there was a certain irony when I realised what I needed to cross off it. Lifeline. My stress levels would drop enormously if I didn't have to think about that. Last Friday I was told to attend an extra session on Tuesday to get up to speed (I'm slower to pick up concepts than the others in my group) and that was the last straw. Saturday's session lasts all day. I'm also supposed to do various homeworks and assignments. There just aren't enough hours in the week.

Lifeline is important; people's lives are at stake. Either you do the course properly or not at all. If I carry on with it I know only be doing it half-arsed. The other problem is that you have to deal with quite strong feelings. At the moment I don't have strong feelings. It's a real shame to have to give up at this stage, particularly as the course is so well run, but for my own sanity I have little choice.

I should mention that it did feel good to be working again, but I felt snowed under with all that other stuff that I'd really only taken on under the assumption that I'd remain unemployed. I'll have at least one more week in the job.

Yesterday we had the monthly autism get-together. Unlike last month, I was able to enjoy it this time. The topic for the initial discussion was energy-saving and sustainability. Some people spoke quite passionately and at length on this subject. I had my own views, but as someone who lives by himself and drives most places, I'm not sure how valid they were. At least I've been catching the ferry to work.

Mum has been up here on her 24-hour flying visit. It's been good to see her, though it's a shame the weather has forced us to stay inside most of the time. Mum spent some time last night picking out jobs for me on Seek. They nearly all had the word "analyst" in the job title. I find it hard to look at that word any more without thinking "anal". I feigned enthusiasm for the jobs (badly) and even applied for two of them.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A good earthquake

I'm tired so I'll keep this short. For me the real story of the Canterbury earthquake wasn't all the shops and houses that had to be demolished but rather how well the region coped in a seven-point-something quake. Some people - many of them builders - have even benefited from the quake. I'm one of those people. On Friday I started a temp job at an insurance brokers in the city, sorting out some of the earthquake claims. It's not a bad job. The pay isn't amazing but there are plenty of people who earn less. I've been starting work at eight, which means getting up at a time I've almost forgotten exists.

One of the agencies - the one that gave me all those tests - told me about the job at 5pm on Thursday, and while I was happy to get some work, that phone call sent me into a mad panic. All that other stuff I've taken on has been on the assumption that I won't have a job. Actually having a job has thrown everything out of whack. But on balance this is a definite plus for me.

Mum is coming up to Auckland to do some shopping with a friend. We should meet up, if only for a short while. I really hope we can avoid a repeat of what happened last time she was here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

One fine day

Wednesday's early morning turbo badugi tournament lived up to its name: I never got above my starting stack (of just 1000) and was out in double-quick time. As it happened, I couldn't have made it to the tournament proper anyway. The WINZ meeting or "seminar" was useful - everyone was told to be a lot more persistent, and not to take no for an answer. Only seven or eight people attended, but the whole gamut of jobless life was on show, from a highly switched-on computer programmer to someone straight out of The League of Gentlemen.

I got back to my car after the meeting to find a thin piece of paper stuck to the windscreen. I instantly knew what it was, but couldn't think why it was there. Then I looked at my registration sticker. August 21st. Everybody's birthday seems to fall on that date so how I could I forget? This year I've been very careful to save the odd dollar here and there, and then bam! - I forget something important and it sets me back hundreds. In this case $200. I went to Takapuna Post Office who gave me the bizarre news that I wasn't the legal owner of the car, and that it was registered until November 21st. I'd signed all the change of ownership papers when I bought the car, but for some reason the change has since been reversed. The post office lady spent twenty minutes on the phone to Land Transport, after which I was reinstated as the legal owner and given a new updated registration sticker without having to pay anything. In short, I might get lucky here and get off the fine. That would be quite a result. I've sent the council a letter and will see what happens.

After all that messing around, I attended the WRAP course (for what I imagine will be the last time unfortunately), helped (I hope) the Browns Bay boy with his maths, and went to the men's group where we chatted and watched the first half of Flawless which was very good I thought.

Quite a bit (by my standards) has happened since Wednesday; I'll save that for my next post.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lowball draw musings

I've played a couple of thousand hands of triple draw now, at 25c/50c and 50c/$1, and I'm roughly break-even. Given my badugi record, and the similarities between the two games, I thought I'd do better than that, but it hasn't panned out that way. Just like in badugi, I see what appears to be poor play, but unlike in badugi I seem unable to capitalise. Maybe my sample size is too small to draw any reasonable conclusions, but I'm sure I have a few leaks that need patching up. Certainly I can't hand-read as well in triple draw as I can in badugi.

I've read some discussion on forums about the comparative variance of triple draw and badugi. The swings seem more brutal in triple draw, although I've done no statistical analysis of my hands to back this up. A couple of reasons why triple draw might be more "swingy":
  1. Triple draw hands run closer in equity, particularly on the last draw; for instance 8763 is a 44% shot against 7432 with one draw remaining. Compare that to 652 in badugi, which is about a 4-to-1 underdog to 32A on the last draw.
  2. When you're up against a pat hand in badugi and you've missed the first two draws, it's likely you won't have the odds to continue, so you can (and should) pull the plug at that stage unless the stand-pat person has a propensity to snow. In triple draw you generally have more outs to complete your hand and can therefore see all three draws. So in triple draw a bad run of missed monster draws will cost you considerably more than in badugi.

In addition to those factors, you play more hands per hour at triple draw than badugi (because the tables are smaller) so your ups and downs seem more pronounced.

My current overall profit has just nudged over US$6000, including (of course) that tournament success back in May. If and when it reaches $6100, I'll cash out all but $600, which I'll use to play single draw as well as badugi (and maybe low-stakes triple draw too).

I managed to convert some of my frequent player points into tournament money, and I'll use $22 of that to buy into tomorrow morning's turbo WCOOP badugi satellite, starting at 7:30. The turbo aspect doesn't appeal - if you don't hit a few hands early you'll be out - but I'll give it a go anyway. After that I've got a busy day: a WINZ appointment at 10:30, the WRAP (mental health) course between 1 and 3pm, teaching fractions in Browns Bay a little later, then the men's group in the evening.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

What a day

Yesterday lunchtime the phone rang. It was Mum. Again. She rarely has any news, and neither do I, but that doesn't stop her ringing me. Only yesterday there was news. I hadn't seen the national news, so was totally unaware that a severe earthquake had struck Canterbury in the early hours of the morning. Dad somehow slept through virtually the whole thing, while I'm a bit envious of my brother for experiencing his first quake. I'm amazed that nobody died. That there was no loss of life was due to the timing of the quake, structural improvements made to buildings over the years, and simply good fortune. News of the earthquake somewhat overshadowed the other disaster to hit the South Island yesterday. Nine people were killed when their skydiving plane crashed at Fox Glacier; four of them were tourists including a 24-year-old Englishman. Reports of what actually happened there seem sketchy; there will surely be more to come. September 4th 2010 will live long in the memory for many people.

Lifeline on Friday night was a much more pleasant experience and I'll be carrying on with the course for the time being at least. I have an assignment to hand in on Friday; I'll make a start on that tomorrow. I've also made an appointment to see WINZ at midday and will be catching up with Andy in the afternoon. Then in the evening I'll have my Italian class.

My maths lesson on Wednesday was a definite change in pace from some of my previous ones. I tutored a 13-year-old boy from Browns Bay who came from a family very unlike what I described in my last blog post. I proceeded to give a lesson on fractions, or try to. I asked him what a half plus a third was, but he was all at sea. In my next lesson I'll have to get right back to the basics of what a fraction is - I've printed out a series of factsheets from the BBC website. Judging by the hour I spent with him, I'd say he was five years behind in maths. I really want to help him. As we cover fractions I'll try and get him to learn his times tables at the same time.

I heard nothing more about that job, so my chances must surely have dropped from 25% to under 10%.

Monday, August 30, 2010

It's all your fault

Last weekend wasn't an easy one for me. The Lifeline training took up two full days and when I got back home on Sunday I was so mentally drained that I headed straight for the wine and the badugi tables to relax. Yes I know, online gambling as relaxation. Over the weekend we had to share a lot of personal information amongst our group; this made me feel quite uncomfortable. I was perhaps a bit naive when I applied for the course. I think I'll take Richard's advice and attend this Friday's session before deciding whether or not to continue. It's not just that the course takes me well outside my comfort zone (which isn't necessarily a bad thing), it's also a big commitment. While there are so many aspects of my life that need sorting out, I'm not sure I'm ready to commit. If I did somehow see the course out to its conclusion, I think I'd do fine on the phones (I'm much, much better in a one-on-one situation than in a group).

I found out yesterday that I'm competing against an internal candidate for that job. He or she is being interviewed about now, and I'll know the outcome later in the week. The internal applicant would logically be the favourite here; it's even possible that by interviewing me they're simply going through the motions to make it look like the process was open and above board, when in fact this person had been earmarked for the job from the start. Assuming it's just a two-horse race, I'd put my chances at 25% (the other person at 60%, with a 15% chance that they don't take either of us).

Over the last two weeks I've been giving out maths tuition and have made some useful cash. I'm not sure how helpful I've really been. I'm rusty to say the least; I haven't had to solve a quadratic equation since some time last century. Both the girls I've "helped" so far are already at a reasonable standard. I'm not sure they need a maths tutor. But their parents can afford one (their Remuera properties must be worth a fortune) so they get one. There's a clear "overclass" here. Sometimes you hear talk of a classless or egalitarian society, but the inequalities are as great as they've ever been. In fact I think this pseudo-equality is largely to blame for the increased prevalence of depression. A century ago people knew their place; for most people their upbringing precluded the possibility of fortune and fame. Now, according to this myth of equality, anybody can achieve anything, and if you're not achieving, guess what? It's all your fault. It's no use blaming your upbringing because having the right parents or going to the right school doesn't matter any more. Yeah right. There's this constant pressure on us all to achieve, win, succeed, but by definition not all of us can; since underachievement is now officially all your fault, it's no wonder so many of us are depressed.