's just a game.

We were playing a friendly tourney a few weeks ago, the prize was the seat at the Bash's Charity Tourney. I wanted that seat. And I mean wanted it; more than I wanted to snog the cute popular guy in high school (which didn't happen, I was/am seriously dorky and uncool), more than I wanted that first underage drink in a bar (that definitely happened), and yes, even more than I want to lose this lovely pear-shaped physique I’ve worked so hard at developing.

I’d just sucked out on one of Al’s pals, in a way that made me say “sorry, dude”. His reply was “relax, it’s just a game”.

The statement caused such....indignation, I was speechless. I was gobsmacked. I mean, WTF??

And then I was gobsmacked because I was gobsmacked. Why such an emotional response? Had I finally slipped over that fine line between pastime and obsession? Why did that statement bother me so damn much? It is just a game, isn’t it?

Isn’t it?

Fuck, no.

But if it’s not “just” a game, then what is it?

I did an informal poll to get other feedback, to see if maybe it was just me. Everyone had the “no, it’s not just a game” reaction, and most had the same violent visceral response as I did. Of course, the people I polled were degenerate poker freaks like me, so yeah, the results are a tad skewed.

I’ve been thinking about this on and off for a few weeks, trying to answer this from my own perspective. I’m still struggling with it, but two things have occurred to help me get a bit closer to the answer.

  1. Today I was reading Wicked Chops, and clicked through to a Time article on kids and poker, entitled Parents for Poker. In it, the writers talked about poker as a teaching vehicle rather than as a waste of time. But the thing that really caught my eye was this bit:
    In their classic 1944 book, Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern built a mathematical model of economic and social organization--creating the foundations of modern game theory--by studying strategy games like poker. Poker is like life, the argument goes, a battlefield where the players constantly try to assess risks and guess one another’s next moves.
  2. On the drive home on Sunday, I thought about what I had experienced at the Bash and in Vegas, and about how fucking lucky I was to have stumbled upon a vehicle where I can meet and mix with such FUN people. And it’s been a very long time since I felt comfortable enough around a group of that many people to be myself, warts and all. (Sidenote: remember The Feenix Loud? *wicked grin)

Poker is like life – I like that. It’s a microcosm of psychology, math, social behaviours, monetary management, personal interaction, problem solving, abstract thinking, and change as a constant. Lots of bang for your buck, isn’t it?

Now I get that poker is not for everyone…and for them it is just a game. Hunny Bunny asked me once, what was it about poker that has so caught me – damned if I know for sure. But I’m closer to knowing. And I think I’ve answered the question I’ve been asking myself since July ie. where am I going with poker – is it going to be for fun or am I going to get serious about it?

To quote Joanne; it’s sooooooo not just a game.

I almost forgot...

I did get the presence of mind at some point to take some pictures. Not many, but it's something :-)

Edit: the link is now fixed. D'oh!

I give up...aka no Boob Shot

Conversation from Monday Morning on my way into school:
Coworker: So Kat, did you have fun at your party?"
Me: "Big Fun! I let my inner bad girl come out and play for the night."
Coworker (laughing): "Um, Kat, you're standing there in black leather head to toe with your bike helmet in your hand. You sure the bad girl is all that internal?"
Indeed. She's no longer a girl though, just a rather squidgey middle-aged broad.

A few days have passed, I've caught up on my sleep and my liver is no longer doing flip-flops at the sight of a booze ad. The Bash is starting to take on an almost dreamlike quality.

Words fail to describe it. Superlatives fail. All I can say out of all the parties / bashes / bacchanalian events I have ever been to in my life (and there's been a number of them), last weekend definitely places somewhere in the top ten of the ones that I can remember.

From the moment that Veneno and I got to the Bash at noon to the moment I attempted sleep some 16+ hours later, every single experience was fun. Beyond fun.

So many bloggers, so many stories. And so many other bloggers can tell the stories better than I can ever hope to. I've thought about what to write for 2 days, and frankly I'm giving up. Too many moments to try and encapsulate. Go read about it here and here and here and here.

At one point on Friday, Gavin came up to the table where I was sitting and asked me if I had really driven down from the T-Dot just for this. When I said yes he wanted to know why - all I could do was gesture to the room filled with poker degenerates and pals, and say "Why? You've met these guys, haven't you? Wouldn't you travel to party with 'em?"

All I know is that I truly enjoyed myself; and even in the harsh light of the morning-after I could relive the moments and not feel like a drunken, middle-aged wierdo. Even though I'm pretty sure I was ;-)

The only thing I deeply regret is not acting on Maudie's suggestion that we go get tattoos before the Bash. How cool would that have been?!? And, it would have enabled Mr. Speaker Sir to win his prop bet on tattoos.

  • Al - sweet jeebus, you are incredible!
  • Eva - sweet jeebus, you are incredible!
  • BigMike - sorry I didn't get to meet you. Next time for sure!
  • Pauly - someday we'll have a convo when I'm sober enough to remember it. Perhaps.
  • Veneno - I'm glad I got to spend some time hanging with you. And I'm very glad you had fun. If anyone deserves it, it's you.
  • Brdweb - I looked through the intertubes and never did figure out what the fireworks were for.
  • PokerWolf - I know we talked about a lot of stuff - just wish I could remember what *grin. Thanks for listening to me babble.
  • Gracie - if I ever need a photographer for a soft porn shoot, I'm calling you *grin.
  • Pablo - sweet, sweet. 'Nuff said.
  • Falstaff - My god man, that voice. *shiver.
  • TripJax - I could not think of a better welcome to the Bash than your hug. Although I doubt you remember it *grin
  • Maudie - Tattoos next time. For sure. Even if you've already got one (they're kind of addictive).
  • Joe Speaker - I was strangely complimented that you thought I'd have more tats than I do. Odd, that.
  • Drizz - You are one funny dude.
  • Sox and SoxWife - Sox, a pleasure as always. SoxWife, it was great to meet you. Hopefully we can chat more sometime.
  • Jordan - Thanks so much for the help with Chinese Poker. If I closed my eyes it was like getting a private lesson from Kevin Bacon - squeeee!
  • Platkat and Gus - had a blast yacking with you! I'll keep you posted and hope to see you in February.
  • Everybody else (sorry jsut realized if I'm going to this person-by person it will take all day and I have a class coming in) - Wow. The most interesting, intriguing, tolerant, and funny characters that I've ever had the priviledge to hang out with.
Thank you all. A bientot, mes amis!

Not a boob shot....

I know it's not about the Bash, but I had to share...

Say this tongue twister or else!

successful return the bash....aka only a few brain cells lighter...aka the boob shot

Funny how the Bloglines clickthrough rates go up when the word "boob" is in the title *grin.

Short Story:

I must have had fun at the Bash: I'm broke, bruised and sleep deprived. There are inciminating photos, (please note that I will pay handsomely to ensure that they never see the light of day). My face hurts from laughing so much. And I have more holes in my memory, but perhaps it's best if it stays that way.

Did I mention sleep deprived? My inner bad girl has decided she very much likes Red Bull and vodka. The inner smart girl has decided that it's a very bad idea to drink 4 of them within 2 hours of closing - I still haven't slept yet.

Long Story:

This involves many indepth descriptions, including how I talked myself out of a ticket within minutes of getting to the Friday game. Details may follow, depending on how many brain cells are able to regenerate. I'm not holding out a lot of hope.

Sidenote: If I EVER for ANY reason think it'd be cool to drive almost 20 hours in a weekend again, you hereby have permission to whack some sense into me. It was definitely worth it, but interstates are negative fun. Next time I'm flying like the sane people who know that air travel gives them more time to recover.

Another sidenote to Gracie: many thanks for your late night words of wisdom. Your timing was perfect :-)

and now for something completely different

For a small school, we've got some pretty damn nifty clubs going: Yoga, Improv Comedy, Anarchists Knitting Circle, Sketching, Social Justice, Environment, and about a dozen more. The teachers have always been encouraged to join (what better way to demonstrate a philosophy of lifetime learning?), and this year I finally got my act together and joined the Yoga and Writers Clubs.

Now I haven't yet been able to drag my sorry behind out of bed in time to make the 7:15 am (!) Yoga, but I did make the Senior Writers Club at lunch today. I was really looking forward to it....the blogging thing has got me hooked on wordplay as a creative outlet. It felt very odd to be sitting there on the other side of the desk, but in a good way that I can't really explain. There were about 8 students from grades 7 to 11, and Alana (who teaches the high school English classes) gave us some ideas and prompts.

I'm going to put myself out on a limb here and share my first effort. The prompt was to describe something I'd seen in nature, then a second prompt was to give that object a secret.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The rock was smooth and well worn. It was nothing special at first glance, but it was different enough from the light shale that covered the rest of the beach that you picked it up.

It was a perfect, smooth oval and was dark gray with faint lines running across it. At a certain angle the lines were slightly opalescent, with faint glimmers of pink, blue and turquoise. The sun had warmed it, and it fit perfectly in your cupped palm.

You tucked the rock into your pocket where it remained for the rest of the day, waiting. When you got home and took it out, it still felt as if the day’s warmth was inside it, captured. You held it close to your eyes and watched as the lines seemed to shimmer more intensely.

“Cool rock” you thought as you put it on your desk, to be slowly buried under papers and books and bills, to be forgotten.

It waited for you to find it again, for you to speak to it. The words would break the spell, and release it from its ugly gray camouflage. It would give you all you needed and more; its gratitude at being released would know no bounds.

But it lay unnoticed, and the cleaning lady eventually threw it out.

lend me a quarter? I need to buy a clue.

Because I work in a girls school, we have lots of discussions about gender and learning - some pretty interesting stuff there. And one of the behaviors I see a lot in both girls and women, is the I Suck response.

When trying to master something new, girls will internalize any difficulties they encounter; if they can't master something, it's because they are lacking. I'm stupid, I suck, I'm all thumbs, I'll never get this. Self recriminations abound. Doesn't matter if they only learned a new skill 2 minutes ago.

On the other side of the coin, boys tend to externalize - if they can't "get" something it's because they need more practice, to study more, the teacher didn't explain it very well, the book sucks.

I found myself wallowing in the I Suck response last night. I made a couple of stupid moves without thinking; this combined with some very minor comments typed into both the table and yahoo chats had me awake most of the night replaying some hands. So infuriating to place so well for most of the WWdN and cash game, and then throw it away with both hands in one bad move. The internal dialogue went something like this:
How could I have been so stupid as to not see that? Because I didn't even make the slightest effort at reading the board. God, I really am too stupid to keep playing this game. How much good money am I going to throw away? I should quit this game since I'm apparently too stupid to even grasp the basics for longer than an hour. God, I *do* suck. And not in a good way either.
There was more, but you get the idea.

Now that I've awoken, and have had my morning coffee and convo with Hunny Bunny, I can have a bit of perspective. I don't suck. I'm not stupid.

I'm just lazy as hell.

In HB's words, I "tend to rush around" and have the "self discipline of a gnat" (a GNAT??). My desire to crash chaos into my life is like a child constantly tugging at my skirt demanding candy, and I all too frequently give in to it.

The meaning of the word No has changed for me. Now it's closer to "Sure, why not?"

Will my pocket sevens hold, when the flop has come all pretty with paint and there's 3 other people still in the hand? The brain says NO! but the rest of me ignores it and says Sure, why not?

Such careless and misplaced optimism. (I had something else written after that statement, but realized I was heading for the I Suck response again.)

Where am I going with this post? No idea really. Don't forget it's the Mookie tonight (details on the sidebar), so come and play - tonight you might be lucky recipient of my chips *grin.

A bientot, mes amis!

The good, the bad, and the fugly

The good:

Having some major "life is good" moments. I took the weekend off (paying for the lack of lesson plans today, alas) and hung out with Hunny Bunny. We goofed off, took naps, and went on a road trip to Port Dover where we ate fresh perch and celery bread at the Erie Beach Hotel.

The bad:

Poker. Dammit, why am I compelled to make the same mistakes? One of the podcasts I was listening to last week is part of a series from In it, they talk about the myriad of people who stay in hands and/or bet improperly due to faulty memory - they remember the ONE time that the much-needed 6 hit on the river to win the hand, and fail to remember the MANY times that it doesn't.

And that's what's happening...I'm getting into situations where even as I click the all-in button, I know, I KNOW that my opponent has a better hand. So why do it? Could be the awfukkits, misplaced optimism, haste, weariness, distraction, hunger, drunkeness....the list goes on. It comes down to a lack of mental balance (thanks for the conversation Saturday, Sox!) which is hard to achieve...more so since I'm leaving for the Bash in only 3 days! Wheeee!!!!

The fugly:

Curriculum night last night. Which meant 7 straight hours of teaching (no lunch or break) then jump right into being happy/smiling representative of the school. I spent 3 hours talking, explaining, justifying (!!!!) what I do here. Gah. Although, this year was a good session....I had only one parent blather on about how I should teach on a mac (yeah sure, where's that money going to come from?!? And like I want to indoctrinate more people to the religious cultishness that apple fosters. Excellent marketing campaign though. Don't bother flaming won't change my mind. Computers are TOOLS no matter what flavour you own.) Oh, and I lost the over/under on how many snotty parents would hint/state that they pay my wage so I better listen to them. No one did. Amazing.

So finally got out of there and of course it started to rain, and fairly hard. Nothing puts the icing on the cake of a long day like sitting on a wet bike with wet leather. Blech.

Don't ask me why I signed up for the MATH; I'm glad I did, coz I needed the $22 worth of fun. I got about 40 minutes into it when HB offered to give me a footrub (*purrrrr!). This is one case where I knew, I KNEW Iak had an A in his hand to beak my K+crap, and I really didn't care. One all-in later I was out of the game and in a much better frame of mind *grin.

Dare I hope? Could it be?

I don't normally blog 3x in one day (good lord, like I have that much to say) but I think an exception can be made for this:

I have only word to say, and it was shamelessly ripped off from Gracie:


My summer's guilty pleasure is at an end....

Congrats to local boy, Lukas Rossi, for lasting and taking the prize! w00t!!

Dreary Days

I opened my eyes this morning to a thick fog, so heavy I could hardly see. I looked out the window and saw the same thing. The desire to go back to bed was almost overwhelming. I doubt that there's enough coffee in the world to make a dent in my current state of logey.

Speaking of coffee....a shout to the clerks at Starbucks (yeah, you can give 'em a fancy name like "barista" but they're still just clerks); when someone orders a QUADRUPLE GRANDE CARAMEL MACCHIATO, don't look at them funny, don't ask them to repeat it, don't ask them if they're sure, please, by all that's holy, JUST MAKE THE DAMN THING!

Yes, Hunny Bunny was not at home this morning to make sure I was properly caffeinated before venturing out into the world. I apologize to the world in general and to TTC and Starbucks employees in particular.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

While Jules was not referring to me in this post, she might as well have been. My game has descended to truly donkalicious levels - on any of the poker sites I go to, my account is below ten bucks. And in some cases, below a dollar. It's hard not to feel like an stunned idiot during times like these.

I think it comes down to too many irons in the fire. School is back in session and already I'm so far behind, I think I'm first. I have several web design clients that have popped out of the woodwork suddenly. I have other classes going on besides school - I'm teaching knitting and crochet this week. And now that the weather has turned cold wet and dreary, some of my attention has turned back to my other obsession: knitting.

So I've spent some time reflecting on poker (among other things) while I knit away, trying to finish the sweater from hell before the weather cycles back to summer again. Instead of reloading my poker accounts, I've been curled up watching poker DVD's and listening to poker audiobooks and podcasts as I knit.

Some of it has been sinking back in, but I'm reluctant to jump back in the water until I know the rocks under the surface have been cleared.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Don't forget it's the Mookie tonight, now hosted by Full Tilt. Personally, I'm going to mitigate the effects of donkaliciousness on my wallet by playing the PokerSavvy freeroll on Poker.Com

I don't like Mondays much to begin with...

...and they just got worse.

In order to accomodate a scheduling faux pas in one of my time slots (17 kids trying to use 14 computers in the lab which is basically a glorified broom closet) the powers that be have had to re-jig the schedule somewhat in order to break this group down into two classes. So now Mondays have turned fugly: 6 classes, 2 clubs, no lunch, no prep period. Yippeeeee!

Of course it *could* be worse. It could have thrown my Fridays out of whack.

is there a prescription for it?

"Doctor, I think I may have a problem."

"Oh, Ms G, is that right? What are the sypmtoms?"

"A quick and all-encompassing rage with outbursts of foul language, followed immediately by an overwhelming desire to break something into microscopic pieces and/or inflict serious bodily harm on someone. "

"Hmmmmm." He scribbles something in my file. He pulls out a pile of cards with black and white images on them, and holds the first one up.

"And tell me, what is the first thing you think of when you see this?"

"Poker chips flying away from a central figure"

"Hmmmm. And this?"

"What the dealer looks like when I'm in Seat 5."

"Hmmmm." (I really wish he'd stop with the hmmmms) "Last one:"

"DONKEYS! Goddamn donkeys!!!!!"

"Ah. I see." He puts down the pen, settles back in his expensive leather chair and steeples his fingers together a la Mr. Burns on the Simpsons. "Well, Ms. G., it's quite apparent to me that you suffering from a case of Pokerinterneticus Tiltinitus."

"I beg your pardon?"

"Pokerinterneticus Tiltinnitus. It's quite common amongst those who play online poker when they are tired, stressed, or generally not really in the mood."

It's my turn to say it. "Hmmmm. Is there any cure, Doctor? A prescription I could take?"

"Take two of these, have a bubble bath, re-visit a good novel and call me in the morning. And don't log on to a poker site for 24 hours minimum."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So I've followed the first part of his advice and feel much better already.

I've been suffering from this debilitating disease on and off all week, culminating in an episode brought on by someone playing a better hand exactly the way they should have, and taking me out in the process. Sorry for acting like a git.

In about 40% of the situations that tilted me in the last week, it was beyond my control. You know, the time when some idiot calls you down with utter crap and completely sucks out on you on the river. These I can blame on the Poker Goddess being bitchy and let it go pretty quickly.

But the other 60%, well, those were situations of my own devising - improper betting, ignoring hand and pot odds, not paying attention to position, not paying attention period. Those are the ones that really send me 'round the bend. I can't shrug them off as the "that's poker" factor. It's just me being careless. And I feel like a right idiot when the tilt passes.

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

No seriously, I do think I *may* possibly have a problem with poker. When I did a Google image search for Rorschach inkblots, I could not believe just how many of them looked poker-related to me. Is that normal?

My new mantra:

Image from

Thoughts of work on Labour Day, how apropos

We were returning last night from another soul-sucking visit with the in-laws, when we passed the Frankin Covey office on the highway. For those that aren't familiar with them, they create a line of organizational planners for business people.

Back when I was corporate drone, I was sent on these full-day seminars that teach you how to use their product effectively. It always seemed pointless - if it's that fucking complicated that you need a full day of training on how to use what is basically a jumped up calendar, then just how effective can it be?!?

But I digress.

The Covey in Franklin Covey is the guy who wrote the "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People". God I hated that book when it came out. The seven habits seemed so self evident, and yet I couldn't seem to get my act together enough to live them so that I too could be effective.

The seven habits are
  1. Be Proactive.
  2. Begin with the End in Mind.
  3. Put First Things First.
  4. Think Win/Win
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood.
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the saw

I'd like to add an eighth one; It's Not Me, It's You - The Annoyance Quotient. This is the factor by which those who effectively employ the Seven Habits can effectively annoy the crap out of the rest of the world who don't measure success and effectiveness by a monetary bottom line.

Which brings to my work, which begins anew tomorrow. I'm still not effective or even remotely successful by the measures that I used to employ. I make half what I could if I went back to being a corporate drone - likely less than half. I still can't plan my way out of a wet paper bag. And I often forget appointments and neglect to follow up on things. But I'm very successful and effective by the yardsticks I use now: desire, job satisfaction, authority, direction, personal growth, relationships. I'm happy in what I do. And it feels very good to be able to say that.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

On a poker front, I'm slogging along. I still feel very out of the loop since my vacation, but things are improving. I played a 20+2 mtt last night with Sox, Gracie and Carmen, where I bubbled (grrrr). It felt a bit odd and disjointed, but that could have been the alcohol.

But today was good, placed ITM in 2 of 3 SnG's this morning while juggling laundry and cleaning, then had a great afternoon playing with Matt in a SnG and then sweating him in a Sunday Millions satellite - way to go Matt!!

However I totally blew chunks in the MATH - god you'd think I was new, the cards I was playing. Ah well. Tomorrow is another day.

Today I observed something interesting - there seems to be some sort of a correlation between how well I play and how many bloggers I know that are playing with me. More on that later as I gather more data.

Best thing I've read about poker, ever.....

"If we'd all play poker the same way, poker wouldn't be any fun."


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