Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Poker Camp - San Jose, CA

I had a rare opportunity this weekend to participate in The Poker Camp, held this weekend in San Jose. The two-day seminar was hosted by Lee Jones, author of Winning Low-Limit Hold 'em, and featured Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari.

The seminar was limited to 50 participants who were to participate in a strategy lecture, scenario workshop, advanced strategy lecture followed by a graduation tournament where the top 3 finishers won seats in a Bay 101 Super Satellite where the top 6 finishers win a $10,000 seat in Bay 101's WPT Shooting Stars tournament. Participants were quite varied, with men and women coming from as far as Alaska, Connecticut, and Maryland. Ages ranged from seventeen up to 80's. Even Esfandiari's family members, his little brother and father, participated in the seminar. Several moms brought their sons to the seminar as well, proving that poker is truly a family game.

Lee Jones got the seminar started with a powerpoint presentation and lecture of the basic strategies of tournament no-limit hold 'em. These strategies were pretty basic. It included stuff you'll find in almost any poker book, starting hands, Pot odds, implied odds, fold equity, betting, raising, check-raising and bluffing.
Next, Antonio enlightened us with a very casual Q & A session.
It was followed by a scenario workshop where we played out pre-arranged hands and evaluated the situational "to-do's" and "not-to-do's."

Antonio started day two with "advanced tournament" strategies which was followed by the graduation tournament. Antonio played with a bounty on his head, where whoever busted him out wins a one-of-a-kind "Antonio Esfandiari" Hockey Jersey. I busted an old dude out early in the tournament when my set of Js killed his set of 3s. I hung in for a bit longer until I went all in pre-flop with JJ. I had one caller who flipped AQo. The flop came down AxQ and my tournament hopes were squashed.
Note to self: Do NOT go all-in early in a tournament unless I have THE NUTS.
Actually they covered that during the lecture, but I guess I wasn't paying attention.

Antonio dominated his table and was second in chips by the time the final table convened. The game progressed and then we were down to 4. Antonio, Jack, James, Brenda. Since Antonio wasn't eligible to win a seat in the Super Satellite, Jack, James and Brenda were going to Bay 101.
Jack, James and Brenda battled Antonio to win the bounty but alas, The Magician's skills held up and he ended up winning his own bounty coming in first by busting out Jack in the final hand.

The Bay 101 Super Satellite was an exciting event. Jack, James and Brenda were joined by Dylan (a Poker Camp organizer) and some other dude from poker camp in a white t-shirt. Jack was knocked out by four 4's, and Dylan was busted when his AK fell to A7. Notably, Men "The Master" Nguyen also was busted from the Super Satellite. Meanwhile, James accumulated a huge chip stack essentially guaranteeing him a seat in the WPT Tourney. Finally, as the final table rallied to place in the top 6, James, Brenda and the T-shirt dude, were still in it. At last, they busted the 7th place finisher, and we had three people from the poker camp going to the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars Tournament!

Good Luck. Hope to see you on TV!

The Poker Camp followup

Monday, February 21, 2005

Sugar Bowl

We had a ski weekend! Finally. Last year we only had one day on the mountain; how pathetic. I was worried i may not be able to get up there at all this year because of the status of my vehicle, but $700 later, the Pathfinder was ready to go. The drive from here to Sugar Bowl took only 3 1/2 hours. Not too shabby for a President's Day weekend.

Sugar Bowl Ski Resort is my favorite Tahoe ski resort. It's considered a mini-Squaw Valley because though it's not quite as big as Squaw, it has some extremely challeging terrain, tight chutes, steep, open bowls, great tree skiing and the most snow of any resort in Tahoe.

Oh how I miss the gentle crunch of the sweet snow. The smell of stale mustiess and sweat which permeates my ski bag fills my nostrils with the funk of one year past. Oh how I relish the damp delight of my frigid boots, the excruciating pain as I buckle each agonizing buckle.

The first ride up a ski lift this year... It's an almost religious event. Floating a hundred feet off the ground, you have immaculate views of the snowcapped Sierra Nevada mountains, peaceful valleys and glistening lakes. You can hear a gentle hum of the cables whizzing through the pulleys above. Below, you can hear the soft crunch as snowboarders and skiers slide downhill. As you approach the top of the lift, signs remind you to, "Prepare to Unload," and "Keep Ski Tips Up." Suddenly you are atop a mountain.
The groomed runs were excellent. Not a bit of ice. Just soft packed powder. Off trail skiing was good, but a bit chopped up, so I stayed on the groomed for the most part, with a few short excursions into the trees. Not bad for President's day weekend though. Suprisingly the lift lines were very short, so by lunch... my quad-muscles were toast. Needless to say, I have not been cross-training to keep my legs in queue with my snowbound ambitions. After lunch we headed up to the Disney Express Chair, which despite it's "kiddie" sounding name, accesses the most difficult runs on the mountain. Besides the life-threatening cliffs and chutes it offers it also offers some great challenging double-blacks which I needed to partake in. I had my best run there connecting several turns in the deep powder. I blasted to the bottom with perma-grin setting in. Unfortunately my eyes were bigger than my legs which were proceeding to cramp up at this point. We called it a day at around 3:30.

That night, the storm dropped 2 feet of thick powder on my beloved mountain.

We headed up the lift under a downpour of the white stuff. After the first run I knew... this day would end early. My legs threatened to fail me several times. I protested and forced them to hold out to the bottom of the hill. As lunch approached my lactic-acid engourged legs were pleading to go home. ... I resisted the temptation and we pounded out a few more runs before my legs quit on me. Then we headed to the lodge to pound back something on tap.

I performed crustily. Had I been in better shape I would have no excuse to leave early. I would have had the strength to destroy the knee-deep powder in the trees. It was pathetic that I could only manage to link 4-5 turns before my lungs and legs would beg for mercy. Utter patheticism.

Before the next ski trip I should to do the following exercises: Wall sits, squats and lunges, box jumps and stair climbs. Some backpacking will suffice for off-season training.

Note to self: Never go skiing on a powder day without getting the legs in shape.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

sports is violence


It is indeed part of our culture. Take high school soccer: Parents are on the sideline screaming high-pressure "encouragement" at their children.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUT THERE?!" One mom hollers.
"C'MON REF! What're you blind?!" a dad yells.
"GET TO THE BALL! fer Chirsts sake!"
Kids impacting each other with great force to the delight of onlookers.

"What the fuck is this ref?!" He yells pointing at a cut on his forehead.

"He got me right in the nose." He says as blood gushes from his nose.

House of Falafel

Ever since In & Out Falafel next door to the Mission Ale House closed, there's been a hole in my heart. A hole reserved for a grilled chicken shawerma. One with fresh tahini, lettuce, tomatoes and thin sliced chicken seared on a spit. A shawerma which is grilled crispy on the outside and over-slammed with tasty goodness on the inside. All this and a squeeze bottle filled with hot sauce was what I needed. And when In & Out Falafel closed its doors, a void appeared. One which was insatiable, .... until now.
House of Falafel at 19590 Stevens Creek Blvd. Cupertino CA filled that void.

I'll never go hungry again.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

A Steak to kill for

Everybody has a method to their meat. What I mean is, meat preparation methodology is sometimes quite a guarded secret. I contend that the steaks I make are quite possibly the best tasting, most succulent slabs of muscle tissue ever thrown on a grill. Why such a bold claim? Because that's what THEY tell me. THEY refers to anyone whose ever had the pleasure of eating my perfectly grilled meat products.

Top Loin, Sirloin, New York, Filet Mignon, Rib Eye, Trip-Tip steaks all work great. Go with a piece of meat with nice marbelling (white lines of fat evenly distributed throughout the cut)...

The Marinade
I believe in simplicty. Really, the taste of beef is great as-is, extended marinade is rarely needed. Generally a BBQ rub which has salt, pepper and garlic is all you need. I'll usually give the meat a rub down using soy sauce first to add a bit of goodness.
Another method which has gained in populatiry with me is: The Italian dressing method: this method is quite complicated. (1) Place the meat in a mixing bowl (2) Cover the meat with Newman's Own Italian Dressing Let sit for 30 minutes. Boo Yeah. This is one good steak. It works incredibly on a huge slab of tri-tip too. Just let it marinade longer.

Fire, or other heat. This is an essential element, unless you want steak tartar, or if you have some thin sliced Kobe beef or Wagyu beef ...
Most of us need fire. Use a charcoal grill when possible. Second choice is a gas grill. Use a stove top grill if necessary, and use the oven for last resort.

Use medium-high heat. If the meat doesn't sizzle when it hits the grill, it ain't hot enough. A good sear tastes best. When the meat begins to sweat though the top, it's time to flip. Turn the steak only ONCE. Not twice. And cook to desired doneness.
Let this gorgeous slab-o-meat rest for ten.

Bon Appetite...

Note: When you master the slab. No steak will ever substitute. No restaurant steak will satisfy you. Net even the Sizzler's.
Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Monday, February 14, 2005


Bay Meadows was a good time. Wagering on the horses is more fun than playing the lotto, and with much worse payouts. All in all I sunk a total of $70 on a series of crapshoot bets, beers and admission, which came with a free Bay Meadows sweatshirt. Despite the fact that I am at best a mediocre gambler, I always fully-expect to win. High-expectations breed disapointment. Needless to say, I am often disappointed when it comes to gambling. Even with the lotto, especially when the jackpot reaches $30 million or more, my fantasies of winning practically consume every moment of thought. And when I don't hit my numbers (never have, probably never will), I am legitimitely disappointed. I know this is a ridiculous waste of important emotional output. But I'm really upset. Because it means that the vacation on the chartered cruise ship with everyone I know is cancelled, I am no longer going to get that Porsche I've always wanted, no more 5 BR mansion in the Los Altos Hills, forget about getting my pops whatever he wants, or paying off my brother's B-school bills, or giving my boss the finger. Those dreams are quashed, and I'm still stuck here, short-stacked, holding J-9 with just enough chips to cover one more blind.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

my fat little buddy... shut up

He started whining early. It was still dark outside. The fat-fuck is completely inconsiderate of our needs. Morgan, our 18 lb. fat-monster cat, who literally owes me his life, is keeping me from my well deserved sleep.
"What's your problem? Are you THAT hungry? I KNOW you're not starving to death, you one-eyed freak. Jesus." My GF wants him gone. She's been asking friends and family, "Do any of you want a fat one-eyed-annoying cat?" She's only sort of joking. But, I'm not having it. Morgan is MY-fat-little-buddy (actually it's hers). But since I saved his life, he belongs to me now. He is obligated to use one of his 8 remaining lives on me. He better, or I'll kill him. Because he's been waking us up way too early, and soon instead of pillows, I'll be throwing lamps, or I'll have to bust out the soft-air gun. Pop some caps in his big, striped, round ass. Stick it up your ass PETA.

He's not one-eyed because of me, he and his brother Mystic were adopted as kittens that way. They have no problem finding the food bowl, that's for sure. But if Morgan doesn't shut his mouth, he'll be my NO-eyed-fat-little-buddy.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Dope breakdancer

Badass Breakdancer (big file)

This guy is unbelievable!

Friday, February 11, 2005

let go

After some thought, I have come to a conclusion on what mistake NOT to make in my poker game. My two big losses were due to the inability to let go of my hand. To be truly honest, I knew ScottO had either A-A or K-K. I had a Q in hand, and there was one on the board. For some reason, even though I knew I was beat,.. I convinced myself that he was full of shit. I totally self destructed. Incidentally, I watched Hideki do the exact same thing on the very next hand. He went all-in with Q's and his opponent held K-K (I believe that was ScottO too)... I guess it happens to other people too.

Lesson: LET GO... when everything says DON'T CALL... I should follow my instincts and LET GO of mediocre, beatable hands, unless I am VERY certain I have the best hand. VERY certain. I'll say, 80%... maybe 87%,... 80-90%,... maybe 95%.
I have to be 92% certain... dependant on the pot size,... and my chip stack,... and my read on my opponent... (sigh)

Conspiracy theory

”Tsunamis caused by Israel-India nuclear experiments”

So, THAT's their plan! You've uncovered a grand conspiracy indeed Bachri!

The problem is that some people actually think it's true.

cards of crap

I'm a pathetic loser.

The game was $30 buy-in tourney, no rebuy, SamD, Da Bootie, Luke, Rauser, ScottO, Hideki, Dylan and myself.

There's nothing like the feeling of having no hope whatsoever to winning. I caught shit cards all night (I suppose all losers say that)... But really, besides folding, is there any way to play pre-flop 7-3, 6-4, 3-5, J-2, 6-9, 8-2, 3-4 well, in a loose- game? If there is, I didn't do it last night. My best hand of the evening was a pair of queens which were obliterated by pocket rockets. My A-7c went down to A-J; my set of 3s were killed by a set of 4s. Meanwhile, ScottO was catching Aces and high pocket pairs like they were going out of style. The biggest hand of the night was when SamD and Da Bootie called ScottO's to make 3-way all-in action. The hands were A-J, A-T and A-T respectively. The turn card was a T which gave ScottO and SamD a pair of 10s but also gave SamD a straight winning him the biggest pot of the night. Finally only 3 hours into our tourney, ScottO beat Dylan with his pocket 10s to win the $120 1st place prize.
Our $10 buy-in second game was more of the same for me. I saw every combination of shitty cards possible. I did manage to double -up once short-stacked when I went all in with K-Q and sucked out another king against ScottO's A-x. My game didn't last too much longer though and when my J-9s gave up on me, I was done. SamD won the second game and took home an $80 prize.

Sometimes the cards just suck balls. My play and my reads could have been better, but overall I just couldn't overcome my run of shitty cards.

I need to redeem myself soon. Who's in?

Thursday, February 10, 2005

no game tonight ?

I usually host a no-limit poker night at my house every Thursday night. This week some of the guys wanted to play at their pad instead. Pate tried to set one up for Wednesday night... failed... not enough players. So Da Bootie wanted to do one tonight at his place instead of my place,... GREAT! What does he do? He sends out an email:

IN PALO ALTO! It's too difficult for most everyone to make the round trip on a weeknight. Next time, I will try to put something together over a weekend, instead."

WTF? Why come I can get people every week? The one time we try to do it at his pad we get that lame ASS email. No poker for the week now?! But I want my gambling fix. I need it. No adrenaline makes Joe a pathetic piece of crap. No action makes Joe feel bored. Why am I referring to myself in the third person? Joe doesn't have any idea. Joe know what Joe wants though. Joe wants to play.

It just goes to show. You want something done right... ya gots to do it yourself.
Time to take your moneys on my turf.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

post-justifying your actions

I've decided to post-justify everything I do. It'll make everything easier. I can just do whatever I want, and then make up an appropriately convienient reason justifying the action. Hey, It was "W" that set the precedent, and as loyal servants of our great nation, we have a responsibility to do as the romans do, as they say.

Bahgdad Burning

"The weapons never existed. It's like having a loved one sentenced to death for a crime they didn't commit- having your country burned and bombed beyond recognition, almost. Then, after two years of grieving for the lost people, and mourning the lost sovereignty, we're told we were innocent of harboring those weapons. We were never a threat to America...

Congratulations Bush- we are a threat now."

This was written back in late January before the elections in Iraq. I really wonder what she is thinking now that the elections are over.
My conservative friends often speak of Iraqi freedom with an exaggerated sense of pride. I can almost see the flag waving behind them in a Bruckheimer-esque fashion (queue inspirational music) as they recite Bush-party-line propoganda, "We must be unwavering, resolute.... Freedom is on the march... All people deserve freedom from tyranny ... FREEDOM, FREEDOM, FREEDOM." I see their sense of righteousness when they say, "If you hate Bush so much, move to Canada then!"

Personally I think Bush is a f-ing moron. Bill Mahr was on an interview yesterday talking about how the Democrats screwed up the Kerry campaign by not ripping Bush for his "incompetence." Incompetence is a correct term.

Let's say you are the chairman of the board of a large company... Some dipshit in your company risked your company's reputation and much of your company's wealth and success on some faulty intelligence. Let's assume this dipshit SOLD the idea to you and the rest of the Board of Directors. And then you find out this dipshit was duped, and that the enitre event was based on bullshit! As chairman of the board what do you do?
You fire his dumb ass to start! Then you fire his number 2, and then his entire staff.
No wonder Euro-newspapers made fun of us.
Bush is like Sgt. Stedenko. "We lost them, Due to Incompetence"
Somehow Rove and the Bush-war-machine tricked half of America into saying, "It's ok, we make mistakes,... Here's your job back."

poker nickname

get your poker nickname here
Mine was "The Cut-throat" or "With a Twist" or "1000 faces"
Actually none of these are appropriate at all.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

When Life Gives You Lemons

Found this interesting blog.
I guess it's some californian-canadian-transplant-partier's journal.
When Life Gives You Lemons

Off to the races

I just sent out an invitation to the peeps for one of our fun pastimes: Bay Meadows Racetrack.
Gambling, hot dogs and beer. What could be better on a Saturday afternoon? Plus with it's easy access to Caltrain, we can drink up and not worry about DUIs.

Church of the Redeemer rebuilds

Got stuck in 101 traffic this morning, so I was late to our weekly office meeting. Just my luck since it was my turn to lead the meeting. I gave a very brief rundown of Amy and my trip to Cancun. I brought some photos for show-and-tell, and got some appropriate ooos and aaahhs. One of my co-workers asked, "Is the water really that color blue?"
I replied honestly, "Indeed it is."

The Antiochian Church of the Redeemer is finally rebuilding their church after three years. You might remember the church was burned to the ground by arsonists back in 2002. The FBI, and ATF came out to investigate it, but of course came up empty handed. Well today, many parish members came out to watch construction workers put the walls of the new church.
Here is a picture from the day it burned down.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Taking the Shot - first post

Taking the Shot refers to a lifestyle.
It hints at my profession as a photographer. It should also insinuate at a little bit of spontenaity in my personality. It also illustrates a certain liquid-infused personal lifestyle.
I hope to take the shot without hesitation if suddenly the decisive moment occurs... I hope that I will take the shot when any once in a lifetime opportunity presents itself... and I hope to take the shot without regurgitating it immediately at the bar...
I have failed in these attempts in the past. I'll try not to in the future.

I hope that I have enough life experiences to make this journal worth the virtual space it will take up. But if not,... I'll just make some shit up.

P.O.L (Peace, Out, Late)