Monday, 21 June 2010


"GOD. Society is so full of fucking rules and regulations these days. If I wanna get a new car I have to fill in a form. If I wanna go on holiday I have to get insurance. If I wanna build into my own garden I have to get bloody permission! I bet the cavemen did not have to go through these ridiculous processes every time they wanted to do something. Take me back 10,000 years when a spade was a spade, life was fast and simple and the rulebook had yet to be invented."

"Well actually, there were rules in the olden days too. Granted, they were not codified in documents in the way that our own laws are, but they existed nonetheless. The fact that they were not written down did not make them any less real. You knew which animals you could hunt and which you should stay away from. You knew that fire could keep you warm, cook your meat and help scare animals away. They were laws found in nature. They were still laws.
Over time written systems of law came to exist. The growth of agriculture and the need to store grain helped give birth to an early system of bookkeeping to determine what grain belonged to who. Already we see the emergence of proprietorial rights - you may use your grain, not the grain of someone else. The cult of ownership has been established.
As the the classical era rolled on, states became larger and more powerful. Centralised government and uniform law became a key component in uniting otherwise disparate territories. The rule of law, beyond ethnicity, race, language, culture... the rule of law became the defining feature of government. Once you were outside the law, you were outside the protection of the King. If you broke the law, you were no longer entitled to the same protection as other citizens. Already we see a classic penal system emerging.
Nor did law simply focus on matters of state. When Moses read out his Ten Commandments, alongside the more 'obvious' instructions not to kill or steal, there were also more conspicuously moralistic orders, such as respecting your parents and not committing adultery. Thus even then we see law impinging on the affairs of its citizens, as if law had the right and responsibility to assume such a role.
In the Early Modern period with the rise of national bureaucracies across Europe, regulation became a matter of routine. Official standards were set for, for instance, the quality of produce sold in pubs and tavern. Sanctions existed so that vendors would lose their licence if found to offend. The intensity with which such laws were enforced varied from generation to generation, but the apparatus was there. And this notion of the state being a regulating body survives to this day.
But all these laws ultimately deal with real-life things, as do today's laws. What may seem like an artificial and officious law to you probably makes sense once you gain a more in-depth understanding of how systems work. You stop thinking of what is 'fair' and start focusing on what is 'practical'. You view life and the law for what it is: an organic system of interactions in which the supremacy of any idea or individual comes not from any ingrained right or privilege, but simply as the sum of their actions and reactions. And another thing - your suggestion that we live in highly regulated times. In reality, humans are more free now then they have ever been. Perhaps the past may appear more 'free', but bear in mind that there is a difference between mental freedom and material freedom. You wouldn't feel so free, I imagine, if you constantly had to worry about the next harvest or the band of mercenaries coming over the hill. The government may keep an eye on your life activities but it does not direct them. Success still comes to those who work hardest and, perhaps, to those who have some good luck along the way. But the government is only interested in the aggregate of these successes, not on the individual. Not on you. The government doesn't tell you how to worship, what to think, where you live, who you marry. You are, in fact, an extremely free man. But you have chosen to think of the freedoms you do not have rather than the many that you do, as this better suits your gripe."

"Ok Ok fine, you've made your point. I'll build my conservatory on the other side of the house."

Friday, 18 June 2010

Hand History - Part 11

Brighton Rack - Part 4

Getting a little bored of the metropolis, we decided to head out to Lewes, a picturesque town in the South Downs, only around 12 minutes away from Brighton on train. After a modest pub lunch we walked around for a bit, eventually reaching the end of the high street. We followed the river walk waiting for the next turning.

But the turning never came. To cut a long journey short, we ended up on the dual carriageway. We kept walking and walking till we could find some way of returning into the town. Eventually we settled for a sharp grassen slope, probably around 30 degrees in angle (but of course it seemed a lot sharper at the time). Though I have wrote about the incident in a fairly offhand manner, at the time it was both exhilarating and frightening. There was no pavement, there was no rough area for us to walk on - we were using the same road as the cars. Of course we stayed as close to the side as possible - we didn't walk down the middle - we're not idiots.

Once we had climbed that slope and passed the over-bridge, we were suddenly in less hostile surroundings. The roads had pavements, and we soon re-entered the town. We were pretty relieved, as you can imagine. "Boy, after that, how can we not win tonight's tournament!" quipped I. My theory was, of course, that having survived what was a genuinely dangerous experience we were still alive and in once piece and our enthusiasm for comfortable, normal things (like sitting down, eating and playing poker tournaments) would be trebled - and we'd just do all of them well with a strange sense of invincible ease.

And soon we did sit down - on the return train to Brighton. After going to an Arcade near the seafront, we had a nice fat meal at WokMania, a Chinese buffet which has since been renamed and their range of food extended. It was all washed down with rather a lot of Coca Cola.

We waddled over to what would be the third and final casino of the Brighton Rack - the Brighton Mint. I had actually been in there in February just to have a browse. It was part of the same group as the Stanleys casino I mentioned a few Parts ago.

It had (and I can only assume, still has) a casino area on the ground floor and an underground card room with four tables and a mahjong set. And I mean underground lit-er-al-ly not figuratively - it wasn't shady or dodgy, it was below the level of the entrance.

We had turned up here on Thursday night hoping to play the £10 Rebuy, but only four people showed up (ourselves included) so we went home, a little disappointed.

There was almost a repeat of this unpleasantness tonight, but we managed to get to eight persons, the minimum required being six.

Thus we started on the final table, dealer dealt, an eight-man sit and go. And it was all men, by the way. The few times we saw women playing at the table they were always the wives or girlfriends of some of the other players present. The only other women present were dealing the cards or bringing the drinks.

One of the men we encountered was one I was pretty sure we had seen both at the Grosvenor and at the Rendezvous - a Cypriot by the name of Michael. He didn't make it very far.

The rebuy tournament lasted 90 minutes, and Goblin and I spent the minimum. He built up a fairly substantial stack. Though I don't remember much of the action, he has since admitted that he got into some fairly lucky situations. For my own part, I was playing alright and made some decent laydowns. I was enjoying the match a lot though. As I had been hoping, I was still in strong spirits from our near-death experience and every moment at the table was a pleasure.

During the break we chatted with some old guy. They were all old guys - I believe this man had been in one of the professions, accountancy or something. The same guy had, during the rebuy stage, boasted about his playing system. "If I have a top pair, I'm raising. If I have second pair, I'm betting and calling. Simple". He was out fairly quickly after the freezeout stage.

One guy had spent £60 in total. He managed to get to the final three and just fell short of making his money back (three paid). Fortunately Goblin and I were both still in too, and so all that was left for us was to play a token heads-up match. Goblin had the chip advantage. I got Jacks on the button - stack probably around 9 big blinds or so. I limped, Mike shoved. I insta-called, flipping over my trap. He had Ace-King and converted his hand to a pair. He won 1st place I won 2nd. It was literally the best result we could have hoped for.

We probably made around £60 each from this triumph, so not quite as big as the first night, but certainly better than LOSING.

Part 12, the final segment of the Brighton Rack, will follow shortly

World Cup - breakdown by languages

I was pretty amused that Group H has 3 Spanish-speaking countries, Spain and two of its former possessions: Honduras and Chile.

But what about the World Cup as a whole. Well. here's a breakdown. N.B. where there is a clash between the 'official' language and the majority language, I have gone with the majority language (but put the official language in brackets).






United States
New Zealand

Ivory Coast





South Korea
North Korea







South Africa (most widely spoken, but there are eleven official languages)

Cameroon speaks both English and French. Switzerland has a tonne of languages but German is the most widely spoken.

So here are the totals

Spanish 7
French 2½
German 2
Portuguese 2
Korean 2
Arabic 1
Danish 1
Dutch 1
Greek 1
Italian 1
Japanese 1
Serbian 1
Slovak 1
Slovene 1
Zulu 1

So Spanish just edging ahead there, thanks to my frustrating decision to give Cameroon a 'half' point split over two countries. Don't blame me, blame Cameroon.

My recent blog post on Three Men on a Blog was also about the World Cup.

Read it, if you haven't already.

Also, I decided to do a scheduled publishing of this post at 4am 18th June, at which point I'm pretty likely to be asleep. Is just so I can leave an arbitrary gap between one post and another.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Latest Opinion Poll

On being asked whether they had an opinion, 52% of the public claimed that they did, 37% claimed that they did not, and the remaining 11% admitted that they did not know whether they had an opinion or not.

Of the 52% who claimed to have an opinion, 70% claimed nothing would change their opinion. 82% claimed to having similar opinions to their parents and 93% said their opinion was in line with the opinions of their friends. When pressed, only 2% were able to maintain that their opinion was formed as a result of an in-depth study into the issues surrounding the relevant topic area. But the other 98% claimed that this wasn't really important.

The study showed that there was a greater tendency amongst the 18-25 age group to move from one opinion to another, usually showing an exaggerated preference to the current prevailing opinion. Analysis indicated that students in particular were likely to hold more than one opinion at the same time, even when these opinions contradicted each other.

No correlation was found between education and the propensity to have an opinion.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Hand History - Part 10

Brighton Rack Part 3

We left you off with tales of a much deserved defeat at the hands of the smarmy grinders of the Brighton Grosvenor.

(Incidentally I now remember how Goblin went out - he shoved two live-connectors from the cutoff and was called by a high ace, if I remember correctly? He lost of course (otherwise I wouldn't be mentioning it), although the guy who won conceded that Mike's cards were the sort of ones it was best to go all in with on account of their likely liveness.)

If I recall correctly, we didn't play for the next two nights. However, by Saturday our appetite was back, and we were ready to sit down to some fish and chips. The only thing on the menu was a £10 Rebuy, but it was better than nothing.

The diner in question was the famous Brighton Rendezvous. Famous amongst poker players anyway. And just to clarify, it was a casino, not a restaurant. That was just me using confusing metaphors, battering my 'fish and chips' joke until it is no longer edible.

The Rendezvous was rather different to the Grosvenor. It was much bigger for a start, although the card room area itself was rather cramped. The poker tables, rather than being the default 9/10 seaters, were infact designed to sit 7. Out of a starting field of around 90 (again, bigger than the Grosvenor fields which had typically been around 40) Goblin and I were sat at the same table. I played few pots and made few challenging decisions. Goblin never got a stack early on and spent the last 10 minutes or so going all in very liberally just for the chance to get a stack. This is probably a good strategy, but it's just that much more annoying when it doesn't work because it's expensive. Our average buyin for the night was £60 (after splitting), which was depressingly high, as usually when I go into a rebuy tournament I expect to spend my initial buy in and a top up, and only make a rebuy or two if I get unlucky.

The people around my table were a mixed bunch, though none of them seemed particularly talented. To Goblin's left there was an East-Asian guy who was always happy to show his cards. To my left there was a retired man, probably in his mid/late 60s. In one pot against him he bet out on an A35 board - I didn't have anything so I folded.

"Deuce-four?" I asked him, smirking.

"What?" he asked?

"Deuce-four?" I asked again.

He looked at me as if I was mad! Perhaps I should have said "did you see those three cards on the board - the Ace, three and the five. Well, if you had a two and a four in your hand, they would made a straight, as you'd have a run of cards going from Ace-to-Five (and Aces are low, remember). If you did have that hand, then it was better than my hand and it deserved to win the pot. Because it was the best possible hand on that board, although quite why you'd be playing deuce-four, sorry, a two and a four in that position is beyond me, hence the sardonic smirk in my initial asking of the question."

Goblin went bust shortly after the break, so now it was up to me. Not that my being the only one left would have affected my play in the slightest - it was an arbitrary consideration. There was no reason to hurry - I had waited long enough on the first night and it had been worth it. Now it was his turn to wait.

However, if human pressures weren't hurrying me, the blinds schedule was. At the Grosvenor blinds had gone up every 25 minutes during the £5 Rebuy. Here they were going up every 20 minutes, so it was that much more crapshooty. Even winning an all in provided only a little relief, as it would only be another round of blinds before the blinds went up again, and suddenly your M of 6 becomes an M of 4.

However, every cloud has a silver lining. The cloud in this case was the fast structure, the silver lining was the fact that the tourney was progressing rapidly, and it wasn't too long before we were at the final three tables, each playing seven-max. It was here that things got exciting. I made a classic survival shove with King Eight on the button versus Ace King on the small blind. Obviously I won, and sneered apologetically at the small-blind guy.

Two to my left was a small guy who looked a bit like Joe Hachem. It was clear from his general demeanour that he was from London, and he kept talking and saying things. Once I shoved pocket tens from UTG. Hachem pipes up ' ah yeah, got to respect the under-the-gun all in, he must be strong'.

We were getting close to the prize money. Top prize had originally been processed as being £1,490, but they had chopped some money off 9th place so that 1st was now the more aesthetically pleasing figure of £1,500. I was fairly relaxed at the prospect of winning all this money. It was the most I'd ever had the chance of winning (save a few online tournaments) but at the same time it wasn't silly money - it was a lot, but it sort of made sense in the scheme of things. We had put forward a combined £120 in this tournament, and so £1,500 seemed like a just rewards.

Unfortunately I came nowhere near it. I busted in 15th place as my A9 ran into AK.

Mike had decided to play a 1/1 cash game in the meantime. I joined him later on.

It was only 20 minutes after sitting down that I was identified as the tight player of the table. "I'd love to have what he's waiting for!" laughed the old man to some younger older man (probably in his 50s) to his left. I later entered a pot with ATo and was heads up against the old man. I bet out £8, to which his response was "take it! take it! [it's yours!]" - I waited for him to muck before flipping over my Ace-high. I had intended it as a bluff. "I bet he thinks that's really clever" he said to the guy to his left "I had the same hand". He was indignant, but I had only flipped my 'bluff' to show off that even if I was playing tight I was still going to take pots away with nothing.

Meanwhile Goblin got involved in some huge pots with a student. I believe the said student ended up folding two pair on a three-flush board. I think, after the flop all-in four bet from Goblin, the student may have been correct in folding, but he sure took a long time about it.

Goblin finished up in the cash game, myself marginally down. On average we were £15 up each, softening the blow of the tournament loss.

The bus journey home was fairly relaxed. The old man himself was on the same bus, and we had a good conservation about poker, although he did seem to want to talk rather more about what his son and daughter are up to, and the respectable professions they were following.

So all in all a strange night at the Rendezvous.

Two more nights came to follow - I shall talk about them both in Part 11.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Hand History - Part 9

Brighton Rack - Part 2

Hmm, I'm not entirely sure why I kept the previous Hand History so brief. I was basically half way through telling a story! Mad! I could have just waited till I get home (for I was fain to leave the house midmorning) to write a bit more, but I was in some sort of desperate rush to publish what I had already written. Completely arbitrary!

Almost as arbitrary as I and Goblin's decision to play the £50 Second Chance at the Brighton Grosvenor that Wednesday night. Arbitrary because we were using the old 'well it's profit anyway, we may as well take a shot'.

And take a shot we did! Our wallets were well padded from last night's victory, and so up we went to the cashier, confidently. A few of the people recognised Goblin as the guy who had won last night. But the atmosphere was fairly different. At least on my table. The previous night my table had been fairly talkative - I remember us talking about the WSOP Main Event 2007 Final Table, the last such tournament played before the November Nine nonsense. Tonight, everyone seemed that much more serious and marginally more talented. When I had been playing yesterday, the guy who was button when I was big blind had been a fairly passive student of the 'go on let's limp and try to see a cheap flop variety'. Tonight the equivalent guy was still somewhat studenty, but of the enter every pot with a raise and try to take it down when they other guy shows weakness variety. i.e. good. He managed to bluff me off one pot - I had 99 on the BB and had called his button raise. We checked the flop - there were a few high cards. I bet around 500 on the turn (around 2/3 of the pot) and he insta-raised to around 1700. I folded. He showed Q2 for a bluff. It didn't seem that he was trying to scare me or anything - the flip was completely impersonal, almost routine.

I felt a little out of my depth. They probably weren't so much better than me in hindsight, and if I were to play a 24 hour cash game with them I think I may have been able to hold my own without too much difficulty. But this tournament had a strange atmosphere. We had gone in with a blasé victor's confidence - even if it was technically Goblin (not me) who had won last night, we did tend to view the successes and failures as being something that we shared. We both play well and avoid tilting off our money, so neither of us should take an individual win as a great exuberant triumph. Nor should we take each defeat as some sort of tragedy.

But defeat was precisely what came next. The blinds were 50-100, and my stack was now 4,500 having started on 5,500. Basically the student guy had Aces and I had Kings. I took the second chance (paying another £50 for the privilege) and kept playing.

Goblin didn't take his rebuy/addon stack. I can't remember why - it seems we had both sort of given up on the tournament a little. I don't remember what happened with him and I didn't see it (perhaps he can post here if he remembers), but it wasn't too long after the break before he was out.

The break is worth mentioning itself. Normally casino half-time buffets consist of neat cold sandwiches and, if we were lucky, profiteroles. But as this was a higher buyin event, our buffet took the form of cooked food over in the restaurant area. There were all manner of foods - pizza sticks, chicken, potato salad... a classic feast. It was a nice, if rather temporary and stilted, vindication. "You're in the big league now, boys!"

We were quickly relegated. Mike was already out when he saw me bluff of my entire stack. It was a paired board. Caller made a sort of "it'd be rude not to" quip when I bet the flop. He checked to me on the turn. I BLASTED it all in. He called with his trip sevens. My Jack-8 had no way of sucking out of him with one card to come, and my stack was washed away with the river.

It was only 10.30pm when we left the casino, and we mulled around the streets of Brighton for a bit. We were fairly light hearted about it all, but tonight's losses had pretty much cancelled out the previous night's success.

We had been to the Grosvenor twice in two nights now. We would take a little break from there for now. We had another place in our sights but [closes the book while looking up at the camera] that will have to wait for next time!

Hand History - Part 8

I haven't posted a Hand History instalment for over two months now! This is partly because I haven't played poker in six weeks and so it hasn't been at the forefront of my mind or the top of my blog agenda (blogenda).

But the prospect of a tournament at DTD in July, UKIPT/GUKPT Brighton side events (in July/September respectively) and a Club Championship in October are all whetting my poker appetite like a large slab of steak with a dollar sign branded into it.

So what better way to gear myself up for a nice round of tournament poker than to talk about a previous round?

July 2008 - The Brighton Rack

Back in April 2007 the Conjurer and River Goblin came to my house for two nights. We played some poker against each other and also against one of my old Ryle friends - a £5 freezeout. The purpose of the visit had not been poker-specific and we did not venture into any cardrooms. Nor had we intended to. Though we had all broken our casino-virginity I believe we all had a slight youthful disregard for the establishments which, fun or not, were still seedy, populated with weirdos and not the sort of places you could expect to tell your mother you were going without being moaned at.

July 2008 was different. For a start, only the River Goblin came down. Also, rather than being for two nights, it was for nearly a week. I was still sort of playing in secret, though I had got to the point where I didn't really care if she found out - I was living such a nitty lifestyle at the time anyway (early mornings, driving lessons, work assignments) that I wasn't in the slightest bit interested in having my free time restrained too.

The first evening I met the Goblin at Brighton Station. He shared out some homemade sandwiches and some Nestlé Smarties cakes. It wasn't really a full dinner, but like countless gamblers before us, we were going to rely on the hospitality of the casino and sustain ourselves on the sandwiches provided during the tournament break.

The tournament was a £5 Rebuy. It was not my first time playing here - I had partook in a £10 Rebuy back in April a few days before university. I had managed to come 7th in that despite being scared money. I had gone out after getting A7o all in from the button against 77. It was a lousy way to go out, but at least I had cashed and would feel comfortable here in the future.

However, no amount of comfort could prepare me for the rather measly run of lack I had on this particular occasion. One one instance I had an overpair to the board versus two people with third pair. They both hit their kickers, leaving my hand third best. After the rebuy period ended, it wasn't long till I lost the remainder of my chips.

Goblin did significantly better. So much so, that I was standing for nearly four hours on the sidelines. By around 2am it was down to three players, Goblin with the advantage. He got it all in with Jacks. The big blind, who had not looked at his cards yet, flipped them over one by one. The first one... an ace. The second one... an ace! "GET IN!" he shouted. "GET IN!". Aces won that pot, but Goblin was far from dead stackwise and managed to get to heads up, whereupon a split was arranged. We had been splitting our buyins and prizes, and as a consequence we both profited the same amount - around £90. It was a pretty ideal way to start the Rack, and the taxi journey back had that excellent sense of justification, the feeling of victory. "Yep, we won."

We were both pretty tired - myself from sweating, him from playing and by virtue of the fact that he had been awake since 6am. It was now 3am and... you do the maths. Still, we have since referred to these sort of wins as 'classic tired gambler victories'. My PokerSoc win back in January had been one of these - I was in a pretty bad physical state as there were no drinks machines around and I hadn't brought anything myself - thus I played thirsty for five hours.

Of course there is a certain rationale behind tired gambler victories - when you're tired you tend to be calm as well, and therefore less excitable or prone to rushed decisions. Therefore you just sit there and... end up winning.

There was slightly less rationale behind what we did next. It was a great gamble, in a purely literal sense of the word.

Hand History - Part 9 will continue shortly, with the Second Part of the Brighton Rack

Monday, 7 June 2010

Managed to... from 8am to 5pm today. Wasn't particularly intentional or arbitrary - it's just sort of what ended up happening. Am withdrawing from my current position of employment (and how delightfully few people know what it actually is) and have a large volume of handover to do. But once that's out of the way I should be relatively free. This is all based on the presumption that I will find some other sort of employment by the end of the year. Otherwise I will be relatively free... but relatively poor as well.

Busy month ahead, not all of it boring either. World Cup, two trips Northwards (and one to London) and did I mention the World Cup? Yes I did mention the World Cup. And I'll mention it again too! Not right now, but I might sneak in a prediction or a bet here and there. I already have a bet running on Germany to win. I didn't choose Germany - it was allocated to me randomly in a Warwick Poker Society sweep stake. Some have warned me that they aren't really a winning team, and a probably more of a 'semi-final' sort of team. Accordingly if I do make another bet, it will probably be Brazil or Spain.

Posted my weekly thought on Three Men on a Blog. Have decided to publish there only once a week so as to disambiguate the relationship between this blog and that one.

Those who have read my post here about chronic anachronism will find that the first half of my weekly thought it basically the same, but the second half follows a very different approach.

Am already considering what to write for this weeks blog. In addition to being weekly posts, they are same-time-of-the-weekly posts - 3pm on Thursdays to be precise. And it is precise, for even if I write them a day in advance (as I shall have to do for this week as I am away on Thursday) they will always be published at 3pm via the magic of 'scheduled publishing'. THIS IS HOW THE INTERNET WAS ENVISAGED ALL THOSE YEARS AGO.

Seriously it does feel strange having two blogs. It feels like the new blog is a second child, getting all the attention while the old blog, attention-seeking toddler as it now is, feels a little left out in the cold. Even worse, it feels patronised, and gets into the mindset that any attention it gets is simply a sort of 'compensation' for the affection it has lost.

Well sorry Royal Fish, but it's not very often you get triplets.