Monday, June 29, 2009

Spokane Hoopfest 2009





The 20th annual Spokane Hoopfest was a pretty amazing experience. The streets of downtown Spokane were completely filled with basketball hoops. Around 7,000 teams participate and 200,000 people come to watch. I joined a team led by Wynne, who is a friend of mine from college and she would always organize our intramural basketball and volleyball teams.

We drove down from Metaline Falls at 5:45am on Saturday morning and made it to Spokane with plenty of time for our 9:00am game. Parking could have been a nightmare, but we found a shady spot under the freeway for only a few bucks. We ended up losing both of our games on Saturday, putting us in the consolation bracket Sunday. Both games were close, and we could have won both, but we weren't too shook up about losing. There are two ways to win t-shirts at hoopfest: you can win the entire division, or you can win the jester shirt by winning the consolation bracket. Also, if you win your first game and lose the next two, you don't even get to play on Sunday. For the rest of Saturday, I walked around downtown Spokane taking photos of hoopfest, watched basketball, or polished off a jumbo cherry snow cone... I'm talking soccer-ball sized snow cone.

I wasn't really sure what to expect at a 3 on 3 basketball tournament, but watching the other teams play, it seemed like there were a lot of terrible basketball players in our division. Then we played our first game and completely bombed. Air balls, dribbling out of bounds, you name it. There were a few factors I hadn't considered before stepping on the court. First, the street falls off on each side, so a 3-pointer from the corner is shooting at an 11ft basket. In the middle of the street there are noticeable ridges in the street due to cars with studded tires in the winter, so if the basketball hits one of those ridges wrong, it won't be where you expect it to be while dribbling. The wind really affected shots, too, and your shot might be on line when you release it, but the wind knocks it off course on the way.

The style of basketball was interesting to me, and the winning teams were really good at posting up. Our team noticed this after our first game and tried to bring it into the post more in our second game Saturday, but the three of us suck at posting up, so we were out of our comfort zone. Being tall and skinny is usually pretty nice for basketball, at least 5 on 5 basketball, because I can run up and down the court like a gazelle and shoot over people from the outside. In 3 on 3 basketball, there is not much running, and shorter more muscular people could man-handle me on the block and I couldn't shoot outside due to the court and the wind. I felt pretty useless on Saturday.

In between our first and second games on Saturday, Wynne and her family surprised me with a chocolate birthday cake. It was my golden birthday, as I turned 27 on the 27th of June. Hoopfest was a great place to be on my birthday, and I was soaking it all in. Chocolate cake in 85 degree weather before a basketball game might not have been the best idea, but the thought of bringing a cake for me was really nice.



On Sunday, we were down 7 to 12 in our elimination game when things finally started clicking. I luckily banked in a two-pointer (3 pointer, playing by ones and twos), then Wynne and her brother made a couple of nice post moves while we locked it down on defense. We tied the game at 17 with under a minute to play. The other team missed their shot and it got passed around to me with only a few seconds left to play. I had an open shot and tried to bank it in from the elbow and missed. The game went to overtime and first team to 19 wins. Both teams have a possession and miss, then I come off a screen from Wynne and drill a 2-pointer from the top of the arc for the overtime win. It was pretty sweet to finally feel like I helped out the team!

Our last game of the tournament was the consolation championship game, which pitted us against another team with short, strong guys that I wasn't looking forward to. I guess our team figured out how to play together, because our defense was water-tight and we were gelling on offense. I finally started hitting my 2's, and Wynne and her brother were dominating the boards. We won 20-9 and got 13th place t-shirts! The only bad part about the weekend was retrieving our 13th place shirts along with hundreds of other teams at exactly the same time!

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Metaline Falls

This is a trip I've been wanting to make for about a decade now. I've never been to Northeast Washington, and not that many people have. Really, there isn't a great excuse for coming up here other than to fully explore the state. But it is gorgeous here. I've seen half a dozen deer and a huge black (dark brown?) moose, not to mention Wynne's family's two horses, two cats and two dogs.



This picture I took from Washington Rock. Metaline Falls is the small town on the left, and Metaline is the small town on the right. There are a couple of dams that keep the towns going, and the big concrete structure in Metaline Falls used to be a concrete factory that produced or manufactured concrete for all over. Seattle City Light maintains at least one of the dams, which is interesting to me because we're about 400 miles from Seattle, and my mom used to work for the company in Seattle.

The only reason I am up in this part of Washington is because Wynne grew up here, and needed another player for her Spokane Hoopfest team this year. My camping trip fell through, so I jumped at the opportunity, and suggested that we head over to Spokane early and hit Metaline Falls for a few days. We ventured to the Gardner Caverns today, too, and I snapped a few photos.





We got to the caverns about 30 minutes before a tour, and there is a half-mile trail to the Canadian border we decided to walk. I'm not sure what I expected, I guess maybe a sign, or possibly a booth with a guy there to check passports, but that did not make much sense in the middle of a forest. Turns out, there is a 20ft wide line cut through the forest at the 49th parallel. I asked the tour guide about this later, and he said it extends all the way from the Montana plains to the Pacific Coast, and is lined with sensors to detect people crossing. He said just last week a fugitive was on the loose and tripped a sensor at 4am crossing into Canada and they nabbed him.

We made it back in time for the cavern tour, which was pretty amazing. I'm always amazed by these naturally formed caves (minus the steel walkway and lighting). The tour guide was complemented by the guy staring at the camera, who was visiting and a geology major turned dentist. This particular cavern is home to a packrat, three bats, and the Pacific Northwest's largest column (a column is when a stalactite and stalagmite finally reach each other).



According to the guide, the column weighs 7.5k lbs and has been forming for the past 70,000 years, and is continuing to grow. Dad always mentions that I am growing old at a faster rate than he is, but I think this column might be growing old even slower than him! But I'm not 100% sure on that.

Wynne's young sister got me pretty good in the afternoon. She is a soon-to-be 4th grader, so she reminded me of the students I got to teach this Spring. She desperately wanted to toss the frisbee with me, so I obliged and we went outside to their pasture. They have a single-wire fence surrounding the pasture, and I asked Jewel if the wire was electric. She said, "Dad doesn't keep this part on."

I tapped the wire with my finger and ZAP! I jumped back and looked at her.

She was howling with laughter.

"I can't believe you fell for that! Ah hahahah!!!"

I couldn't help but laugh, outsmarted by a fourth grader... again. And probably not for the last time.

We ended the day with a picnic at Sullivan lake. We skipped rocks and ate burgers, which was a perfect way to end the day.



Tomorrow, we head back down to Spokane for the 20th annual hoopfest, which is the largest 3 on 3 basketball competition in the world. I can't wait, and I hope to take plenty of pictures so that when the November rains come in Seattle, and hopefully I'm bogged down in teaching work, I can remind myself of the fun to be had next summer.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer Bankroll Challenge Update and Question

Blaargh! left a comment on the last summer challenge post, wondering if those players in the bankroll challenge want to start up a group blog to chronicle the bankroll challenge. I'm all for it.

Here is the list of participants who have posted on their blogs, but I am willing to take a few more if other bloggers are still interested:

MHG
Dr. Chako
Blaargh!
Oh Captain
APOSEC72
Cindilicious

Also, in regards to the wager on this competition, because the bankrolls vary wildly, it might make more sense to make individual side bets (or group side bets) with people you have closer bankrolls to, or with poker bloggers you know better. I'm just getting to know the handful of participants, and there really isn't anything to stop one from adding money to their account come August. Not that I think anyone will, but I would rather not have to worry about it.

We could also create a prize pool of say, $5 from each player and add some fun "trophies" to the end of this challenge, such as trophies for...

busto!
largest score
closest to break-even (the waffles award?)
largest swings (roller coaster award?)
most gained
most gained as a percent of bankroll

I think these trophies should be un-tie-able, so if two people enter, and decide to not play a single hand of poker, nobody wins the waffles award. Same if two people go busto.

Any other ideas out there?

What is the feel for a group blog? I know a few of you already contribute to multiple blogs.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Coast Trip 2009

video

Had a great time at the coast this weekend. The house we rented had a hot tub, was "beachfront" and most importantly, had a basketball hoop-shoot game in the garage. Andrew and I jumped in the ocean, but everyone else was a bit put-off by the 50 degree temperature and howling winds. The water was warm!

Ate some clam chowder, played cards and mini-golf, and drank two mini-kegs of beer. Good times! This year marked the first year with wee ones, and they immediately took to mini-golf. This was also the first year I drove a car on the beach, which was pretty darn cool at low tide. Donkey-Punch Castle was the video game of choice (Dokupon Castle?), and was played until the wee hours of the morning.





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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Summer Bankroll Challenge



It begins...

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Early Birthday Present

Dad took me to Costco today to check out cameras. I went with the Canon Powershot SD 970 IS. I narrowed my choices down to pocket-sized cameras, which left me with about a million choices. Costco had a dozen on display, and by far the best on display was the 970. It has HD video, which is a pretty cool feature, as well as face recognition. If any faces are in the photo, a little box pops up around the face and the camera will pick the center one to focus on and possibly focus on the others as well, I'm not really sure about the other faces yet...

It was a fun day to have the new camera, because as soon as the battery finished charging, our garage got torn down!



One problem I have with the video quality is that it is much better as the four individual files, but once I put them into Quicktime Pro (which I ponied up for) to compile the four clips into one, the video gets sluggish, and I'm not sure why.

I ended the night with Erin over at James and Kirsten's playing cribbage in front of their outdoor fireplace. The guys won.



For a video at night, I think this pocket-sized camera does alright. I wasn't expecting anything to really come from that quick video, but it does a good job of capturing the chill evening atmosphere.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Two Days Early

The poker gods were smiling on me today.

Last night, I played in a few micro tournaments and took so many beats that I started up a dreaded bad beat post, with hand histories and all. I can't remember the last time I posted one of those. Instead of posting it, I slept on the post and kept it in draft form.

I woke up this morning and loaded up the $1 rebuy, $10k guaranteed on Full Tilt:

2,852 runners
5,186 rebuys
1502 add-ons
$406 added to the prize pool by Full Tilt to clear the $10k guarantee.

I ran, I rebought x3, I added-on, and eight hours later I final tabled. When I started getting deep in the tournament, I felt the poker gods smiling at me for keeping the bad beat stories to myself.

I've been playing this tourney for a solid week straight now, making the money maybe once. The great thing about this tournament is there is no rake, and I have yet to see the tournament hit $10,000--so FT has to add money to the prize pool to match $10k. Today's $406 is actually the least amount of money they've added to the prize pool all week.

Since this tournament and the other $1 tournaments on Full Tilt are so cheap, I've been experimenting with my play recently. Hyper-aggro, super-tight, and a few meshes in between. Today I found a groove, and some orbits I would amp up the aggro, and others I would play tight. The deeper I got, the easier reads on players became, and when the cards went dead I was able to steal and re-steal with about an 80% success rate.

Here are a few of the highlights:

1.4million.



Bad beats, taken, given.

Incredibly patient.

Folded to me in the BB when I had aces.

The ante is 5x bigger than the chips I started with.

Final Table!



Bought "Doggystyle" from iTunes and listened to it three times. Freeze!

At ease.

Must have seen 32o a billion times in the last two hours of the tourney.

TT, AK, AK, 88 four hands in a row at final table. Double up, steal, steal, bust a shortie, respectively.

Busto!



Bankroll before the tournament:



Bankroll after:



I think my high-water mark was about 2.5 million chips at the end of the tourney, and all I could think about was swimming in gold coins like Scrooge McDuck. 2.5 million is 1666.66 times the buy-in, according to a calculator.

Now, if this had happened two days from now, the bankroll challenge would have been in the bank... now I've got some work to do. Do I go play a $1k SNG, play events around 5% of my bankroll, or stick to the $1 tournies?

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Bankroll Challenge Update

Here are the interested parties:

MHG
Dr. Chako
High on Poker (?)
KenP
OhCaptain
Riggstad
Aposec72 (?)
Blaargh

Last year, the good doctor and I posted pictures of our online bankrolls at the beginning of the challenge and at the end of our challenge. Best percent change won (or in our case, least percent lost). We edited the photos not to include any juicy personal information. I think doing the same thing this time should work. We had a lot of fun last year, keeping our progress secret, but hinting at good nights and bad nights to try and psyche out each other.

If interested, post a screenshot of your bankroll as of June 20th. The challenge will end on August 20th, when another screenshot needs to be posted. If for some reason you do not want the amount of your bankroll to be common knowledge, you can send either Dr. Chako or myself an email. Another option is to make a comment on my blog and ask me not to publish the comment, as I've got comment moderation turned on.

In the spirit of fairness, I'm going to be strict on not accepting screenshots in August after the 20th. The June 20th screenshot I am more flexible on, because I don't see much harm in starting June 21st or 22nd, as long as you don't win a MTT on June 21st and then go post the screenshot of the 20th bankroll.

If you've got money split between poker sites, it is your call as to how many sites you want to include. I'm just going to use my FT account for this summer bankroll challenge, to keep things simple. And I would rather not include live poker in this challenge.

As far as stakes are concerned, I am game for either a monetary or humiliation-style bet. Or we could do something fun like the worst % has to pay the top % $20, then the next worst has to pay the second best $15, then $10, then $5... or whoever is in the middle just gets a push if we have an odd number.

I'd like to hear what people think about the wager idea, or if anyone wants to throw other ideas out there, feel free. Three days until launch!

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Active

I've been slacking. Big time. The majority of my summer break has been spent playing Super Baseball Simulator 1.000, World of Warcraft, and Team Fortress 2. I've spent a lot of time checking up on blogs and wasting plenty of time on Facebook.

But right now, I'm spent. I spent the last 2.5 hours running around at Greenlake playing Goaltimate. Goaltie, for short, is a sort of newage ultimate game with a big goal in the middle of the field, and is played kind of like half court basketball. There is a lot of running and cutting involved. Add to the mix that some of the best ultimate players in the world (both men and women from USA World's team), makes for one tired MHG.

Last night, I got in two hours of basketball with a friend from the teaching program. The church he goes to opens up their gym from 9pm-11pm Tuesdays and Thursdays. We had five on five going for the full two hours. I can't tell if I'm more tired from the basketball last night or the goaltie tonight, buy my dogs are barking.

Today may be the last in a string of 28 days in Seattle with no measurable rain. I am sitting out on the back porch with our two cats keeping me safe. Watson is on the flimsy back railing, and Ichi is sitting guard at the top of the steps. Also, my water bottle filled with Gatorade is keeping the flies away, apparently, because each time I go to drink some, I am greeted with a few new drowning victims.

Note to self: I still strive to write. Do I write on a new blog, or this one? Daily writing? 1000 words. go.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Mundane

I was a bit premature on the softball team joining. Turns out I won't be in Seattle on Sundays for the next month, which makes it kind of hard to play softball in Seattle on Sundays...

I'm looking for a weeknight team to play with, and hopefully that happens.

My birthday is coming up in a few weeks, and I'm having a hard time trying to think of what I want. What I want for a present likely depends on what I'll be doing for the rest of the summer/year--and I'm confused about what that is. Right now, my top pick is a compact digital camera. The camera I have right now is too bulky to carry around with me on most of my trips, especially ones I take on the motorcycle. Compact cameras that can fit in my pocket and provide a significant upgrade over my current bulky camera amaze me.



The main purpose of getting a pocket camera would be to have a camera with me to capture more of what happens in picture form. This would hopefully spicen up this here blog a bit, and also give me a visual journal, like Memphis MOJO, for instance. I enjoy reading his blog and I like how his pictures compliment his blog nicely.

The big question for me is would a digital camera be the best option for me right now? I guess I'll never really know, but it does seem like a present that will get me out and active--over say, a XBox 360...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Two Wheels and Softball Action

My motorcycle is in the shop. This sucks, because of the accident, and because the weather outside is amazing. It also sucks because I called the shop yesterday at about 4pm to see what the ETA on my bike being ready is, and after fumbling around for a minute, the guy said he was waiting for my approval to order the parts... which I had given him last Saturday at the fucking shop! He said sorry, and he would have to wait until Tuesday to order the parts, because it was already past 3pm on Friday. Ugh.

In other two-wheel news, I have been using my dad's bicycle to get around lately, and I am finally starting to get the hang of bicycling again. At first, I felt like I was riding for the first time all over again--super wobbly, and very uncomfortable. The fact that his helmet nearly falls off my head doesn't help. I'm thinking about getting a used bike from Recycled Cycles @ UW, but I'm unsure about the purchase. I'm also in the market for an economy car to compliment my sport motorcycle, which is a purchase I should probably make sooner than later, so I am not too terribly time-crunched come August.

I rode dad's bike over to Greenlake today for pickup ultimate frisbee. The ride was really nice, and it served as a nice warm up for the ol' joints. Today is day 24 of no rain in Seattle, which is unheard of for May/June, much less July/August. The frisbee was fantastic, but I secretly wished I was playing in one of the two softball games going on at the fields. I miss softball.

When I got home, I browsed Craigslist and sent a few futile emails to people who posted they were needing players a week ago. Imagine my surprise when my cell phone buzzed 10 minutes ago and the guy wants me to come play tomorrow at Greenlake! I may have included that I have a female friend who wants to play as well, which may or may not be true, which may or may not have solidified my spot on the team.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Summer Bankroll Challenge!!!

It is that time again. Time to lose money playing poker while trying desperately to do just the opposite! Dr. Chako and I tried this last year and it was a glorious success (for me!). Either of us would have won if we hadn't played a single hand of poker, but I was the big winner at -40% of my original bankroll.

Leave a comment if you're interested, and we can figure out a bet or pool, to be enforced by the honor system. Right now, I am thinking starting around June 20th and ending August 20th. If it is only the doctor and I, I propose our bet be 1% of our annual income... if we get fun other people interested, maybe we can have a pool and split up the prizes for the big winner and the big busto of the pool.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

With Time, Comes Blog Entries

Over the past six months, I've never lost the desire to keep up this here blog, but the desire ranked about #6 on the list of things to do after school or work. #6 doesn't happen often, only when I feel sorry for it and feel like I've been neglectful.

Enter Summer.

With plenty of time, which should probably be spent much more productively, I now have the time to get to everything. I like blogging because I like the community of people whose blogs I read, and those who read mine, and I also like chronicling my adventures to look back on one of those cold and rainy December Sundays in the future.

I've been playing a little more poker over the past few days, with varied results. I find that I am consistently getting my money in behind, which isn't ideal. I do have a funny poker story from last night to share, though. I decided to list the tournament on Full Tilt by buy-in, and then check when all of the $1-$5 tournaments are happening. They have some pretty big small buy-in tournies every day that I would like to hit.

I registered for a $1 tourney with about 800 people in it last night, and the tourney did not start for another 45 minutes, so I fired up WoW. Josh had a group heading to ZF and was quick to invite me to help me get a few quests out of the way. We finished up in about 90 minutes, and I was ready for a WoW break and to give the gf a call. While on the phone with Erin, I shut down WoW and saw the Full Tilt table with pocket kings, a person in front of me all in, and my hand on auto-fold. Shit!!

I clicked "I'm Back" as soon as I could, and by the time the action got to me and my stack of about 950, three people were all-in. I called and held against AQ, AQ, AJ for a quadruple up, putting me at 77 out of 400 players. First hand I played of the tourney! I played pretty good poker until the bubble, when I raised with AJ from the hi-jack and go re-raised all-in for most of my stack. I called and saw AK. It should have been an easy fold, but bubble madness got the best of me. Good players usually abuse the bubble, but the guy who raised all-in hadn't really proved his poker prowess, and I should have been more cautious. I survived and moneyed, then got knocked out shortly thereafter on a flip.

Playing small buy-in tournies is nice, because I don't really have to take them seriously if I have to get up and go, but money is money, and people still try their best.

Poker goal for the summer: be more patient at the table. This doesn't necessarily mean passive, just more patient and thinking through hands before acting.

Another fun game I've been playing is Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 for my SNES emulator. I've created a team of all my friends, and Josh is batting a whopping .120 on the season, and really needs to learn not to bunt pop ups to the catcher.



Anyways, I was playing it some last night during the MTT, and had the weirdest play I've ever seen. I was up to bat and hit a soft line drive to right field. The right fielder came in to make a play on the ball, but made an error (which on the SNES looks like the guy just slipped and fell). The ball rolled all the way to the fence, and when the right fielder got to the ball I was rounding 2nd base. When the RF went to pick up the ball, he made another error (enter banana peel graphic). Each error stuns the player for a second, so I was nearly to third by the time the RF went to pick up the ball again... and made his THIRD ERROR of the play (slip!). My guy was rounding third by the time the RF finally picked up the greased ball and flung it in, but it was too late. Now, I'm pretty sure someone has made numerous errors on a play before, say a pickle run-down or something like that, but on a solo-play? Three errors?!?

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Officially a certified teacher in Washington State! Hip hip!

To celebrate, I've been playing lots of WoW and I've dabbled in a few micro MTTs. The last 18 months have been interesting. I've gone from working and going to school (no free time), to just going to school in the summer (lots of free time), to student teaching and taking classes (no free time), to being unemployed for the summer and looking for a teaching gig (lots of free time).

The last six months have been especially time consuming on the teaching front, but it hasn't been a bad thing in the least. I've learned a lot, and I did not mind getting up early for school, having a full day, and doing it all over again the next day--mostly because what I was doing had a purpose.

Now that I have a lot of free time, I remember wishing I had free time over the last six months, and the books I would read, and the hikes I would go on--but all I want to do now is veg out. I did get out this afternoon and take my mentor teacher's spot in a round of doubles tennis, which was a blast. We rotated partners and played three total sets, and I won the last set on a smoker serve that the guy swung and missed on, and the ball stuck in the fence behind him *blows the smoke off his pistol finger*.

Tomorrow, Dr. Chako is coming up for some racquetball, and he better be prepared for a whoopin'!

If you haven't seen already, Dr. Pauly has put up a very neat video that Poker News is working on.

Maybe I should go to med school and get myself a doctor label too. That, or smoke a lot of weed.

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