Wednesday, January 06, 2010

2009 in review

Yeah, it's a tired device to use the year-end transition to look back at what has been written here. I do it not so much to review for long-time readers, but as a guide for newer readers who might want to see what I consider highlights of the blog-year. Similar efforts for the end of 2007 and 2008 are here and here, respectively.

The Deuce-Four continued to gain popular momentum during 2009. I recounted tales of my own, anecdotes collected from magazines and televised poker programs, and readers submitted a large number of their own experiences. They are all collected here:

Although it technically happened at the end of 2008, I had already written up my year-end review, so this didn't get in: My evening of playing poker with Ira Glass, of whom I have long been a big fan:

I liked this pair of back-to-back (more or less) session reports about playing at the Venetian with the porn stars and the electronics geeks during two of the biggest conventions that come to town every January (AVP and CES): and

I played a session with Hal Lubarsky, and unwittingly triggered a small storm of controversy for him on the 2+2 forums: and

I have continued the pleasure of meeting and playing with readers. Here's one such story, along with some musings about the phenomenon generally:

The most meaningful and gratifying development of the year for me was getting to know Cardgrrl, first through her blog, then in person. As readers could not possibly have helped noticing, I have become exceptionally fond of her, and she has become one of the most important people in my life. I have taken great delight in sharing her fine writing with a wider audience, introducing her to other poker bloggers and facilitating her integration into our strange little world. It's almost embarrassing the number of posts I've written about our joint poker experiences, conversations, etc. If you want to relive the evolution of our relationship, start at the bottom and read forward in chronological order the posts collected here: (People always seem to be curious about the exact nature of our relationship, as if they need a pigeonhole or category or label in order to understand it. Well, I ain't gonna give you one. But I will tell you this: She actually proposed marriage once, but under circumstances that are probably not legally binding: Another time I casually mentioned in an IM chat something about the possibility of getting married someday, and her response included the words "head asplode," which I think would most likely be considered not the most positive possible reaction. So no such development is in the foreseeable future. We live 2400 miles apart, with neither of us likely to move. We're both happy with our friendship being as it is, and no change is forthcoming.)

I rather like this post in which I am forced to confront my own very human tendency to irrationality: A little more musing about the human tendency to develop superstitions and to see cause-and-effect relationships that aren't real followed here:

The single most unusual and memorable experience of my entire time living in Vegas so far happened this year, when I was kidnapped by casino security goons at the Cannery in North Las Vegas for the cardinal sin of taking a few pictures for my "Guess the Casino" series. The original post telling the tale, with its record 66 comments, is here: The story and its aftermath (including coverage in various other web sites and one of the local newspapers) occupied a bunch of posts, which you can see collected here: The original post and the attention it got elsewhere resulted in a huge, unprecedented spike in my blog traffic, though after a couple of weeks it mostly settled back down to what it had been before. By the way, as a follow-up note, I have consulted with an attorney about the possibility of a lawsuit for unlawful detention. I'm still mulling over whether I think it's worth the hassle that such things always entail.

By odd coincidence, I had just shortly before that incident occurred read and posted a review about what is probably the only book in print on the subject of abusive treatment of patrons by casino security goons: By further odd coincidence, I had also shortly before put up two posts compiling my experiences with taking pictures inside casinos, including several anecdotes from Vegas Rex, who has far more such stories to tell: and

A not particularly significant, but--to me, anyway--highly amusing incident occurred one night when I was suffering from insomnia, took an Ambien to help me sleep, then tried to guess the outcome of a heads-up poker tournament while the effects started to kick in:

A real highlight of the year was luckboxing my way to a seat at one of the preliminary events of the World Series of Poker. Here's how I did it: and Unfortunately, I blew this golden opportunity in a pretty spectacularly bad manner, and gave myself a thorough kick in the butt here: In August I knocked myself out of another much smaller and less important tournament with an even greater degree of idiocy, and wrote about it here:

Can a taxi ride be worthy of a long post in a poker blog? I thought so, given the insight that this one provided on some people's outlooks on the world at large and gambling in particular:

Some justfied outrage over mismanagement at Caesars Palace poker room may have actually resulted in them changing how things are done (see comments appended to the post):

I did some work graphing chip distributions during live poker tournaments, based on some WSOP results. I thought the information gleaned was pretty interesting, though I may be the only one: and

The biggest change in my game this year was the switch from buying in relatively short to buying in for the maximum allowed in most cases. The results were so good that I wish I had done it a long time ago: and

This was one of the most satisfying hands I've ever played, for purely personal, emotional reasons having to do with the universal human desire for revenge:

Twitter came into my life and the blog this year. I like it a lot--maybe too much. I've written a time or two about my thoughts on how it fits into poker and blogging:

Some readers were, I think, alarmed to learn of my OCD-ish tendencies when I finally posted the details of how I stack my chips at the table: and

The most delightful and improbable end to a poker session ever occurred in September when Cardgrrl and I simultaneously hit high-hand jackpots (quad aces for her, straight flush for me) on separate tables at the Luxor--one of those things that's just too good a story to be true, except that it really happened:

After I got paid off nicely for playing a junk hand against a big pocket pair, and the victim wondered aloud how much he needed to raise to prevent such occurrences, I expounded a bit on the answer, and along the way spilled my top-secret formula for pre-flop raise sizing:

I like this story of (1) an unusual tell that I spotted in an opponent, (2) how I used it to win a nice pot from him, and (3) how I took from him the chip that was the object of his tell:

Among my favorite posts are ones in which a whole bunch of interesting, unusual, funny, or irritating things happen in the course of one session (or, occasionally, two consecutive ones mashed together for one post), so I can tell several short stories at once. Here's one of the better of this genre: And here's another, one that got a lot more comments than most do, primarily because of the anti-social attitude I expressed in the last story:

I had a nice little run at the Mookie weekly bloggers' tournament on Full Tilt, winning it twice and coming in second place once, plus a final table (without cash), out of four consecutive attempts at it. It's a dinky little tournament of no particular consequence, but I was exceptionally pleased with that spate of good finishes: and and

One weird night, I lost a bundle trying to make just one more lousy dollar, and told the tale here:

Most of my long treatises on one poker-related subject or another are ones that I've thought quite a bit about, usually over a long period of time, kind of mentally composing the essay a little at a time, until eventually it's ready to spill out. But here's one that I wrote basically as a first draft, in spontaneous reaction to a post that my friend Shamus had put up a short time before. It's my thoughts about lying in poker, which is a pretty big subject to tackle on the fly. Of course, I had thought about it a lot before--just not really with the intention of ever writing about it. I think it turned out pretty well, considering how the composition came about:

Another highlight of my year, both personally and professionally, was a voyage to visit Cardgrrl in Washington, D.C., including participating in her roster of home games and a side trip to Atlantic City, a place I had never been before: and (Visiting Cardgrrl again over the holidays was another high point of the year, but there was almost no poker involved, so I wrote very little about it.)

Here's a bit about my personality, and how it affects my play and interactions at the poker table:

I dream about poker quite frequently (not too surprising, I suppose), and this year I took to making quick posts to document them after waking up. I'm glad I did, because I would have forgotten them all a short time later. I think they're pretty funny, though I understand that reading other people's dreams isn't usually very interesting:

My biggest live tournament cash of the year (actually the only one, I think) was in November, when I pocketed $1000 for a five-way even chop. I was inordinately pleased with myself, since I don't play many tournaments, and usually don't have particularly good results when I do play them: and

I think about law and politics a lot, but usually don't inject such subjects into the blog. Once in a while, though, the urge grabs me in an irresistible way, and I let loose. It always irritates at least some readers, who tell me to stick to poker, but hey, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. Here's one such example:

Trying to make a living at this game involves a lot of ups and downs. I mostly don't waste space detailing how my results are going, because it's boring and nobody cares. But sometimes some really unusual good or bad spell is going on, and I get all rhapsodic about it:

I think the final poker highlight of the year was the blogger winter get-together in early December. I had not participated in this before, but I plan to make it a regular annual commitment from now on: and

This was probably the biggest pot I won all year:

If you're not careful, once in a while I'll sneak up on you and teach you something about the nitty-gritty insider workings of poker that you probably didn't know before:

An ongoing struggle I have is the balance between my strong preference for regularity, game integrity, and consistency of rule enforcement, and my desire not to cause trouble by making myself into the table lawyer or nit. I probably get the balance wrong sometimes, and I certainly cause active discussion and disagreement in the comments section when I post about incidents involving these situations, which are difficult for me. Here are some examples: and and

OK, I guess that's it. Thanks for reading along for another year. I hope you'll stick with me through 2010. Who knows--it might be a good one!

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