Poker & Lifestyle Blog
Once again i found myself in Europe in 2012 for the second year in a row. There's many things i deeply regret in my life, one of them is not traveling more when i was younger when i had plenty of opportunity to do so. I strongly encourage all of you to travel abroad, especially those who play poker for a living or any other job where its not incredibly difficult to take a few weeks off from work. Among the many perks of being a poker player is the flexibility it provides in our lifestyle. Not exercising this opportunity is truly a waste and i may go so far as to say is disrespectful to those hardworking people who would love to travel but aren't afforded the freedom that we have. Don't be rude.
There's so many interesting cultural differences and wrinkles that you're just never really are aware of unless you travel. It's really cool to be in a completely different environment and seeing the similarities and differences of life in different countries. One difference i noticed was how much traveling is emphasized over in Europe. From staying in the hostels (which i highly recommend over hotels) you come across a lot of young travelers in their early 20s and many of them finished college (or as they would say University, college there is like our high school afaik) and it almost seems like a part of their curriculum is to travel upon graduation. And when these people travel....they really travel. I'm not talking about a weekend in Vegas at the Hard Rock followed by a few days at the Grand Canyon, i'm talking about like a minimum of 6-months of traveling various different countries with a backpack and some ambition as their only essentials. Maybe i'm just a diva and i hang around people with similar tendencies but i don't know many people in America that just up and travel around like that. We get bent out of shape when our hotel doesn't have HBO in HD, or when we have one of those old-school box TVs or heaven forbid if our WiFi connection isn't strong enough to stream, let alone a temperamental shower with cold water which you will invariably come across in hostel life. This one girl i met in Ireland was telling me about her plans to travel around for two years after she graduates. This wasn't said with like a pie in the sky enthusiasm, her fingers weren't even crossed, this is happening. I can't imagine telling my Dad right after i graduated, "Yo cuz, college was fun, glad i got this diploma, but i'm just gotta roll out and walk the earth for a few years, i'll holler at these jobs when i get back in a few years. Break me off a few stacks and i'll hit you up on Skype." That would not fly in hardly any traditional American households that i've stepped foot in. You get your courtesy summer after graduating and that's about it. Anything "fun related" is gonna be paid for on your own dime. Time for work. Cue up the cubical. And as each month goes by after that courtesy summer, you're left feeling increasingly bad about not being employed. After all, you're really slowrolling your parents, who are just waiting to tell their friends or parents of your friends who they bump into at the grocery store what their little Johnny is up to. For parents of poker players, that little dance i feel like is a delicate one, each poker players' parents holds out hope and BS those they meet about little Johnny applying for jobs or whatever general answer they can come up with or whatever script they've rehearsed but at some point the levy breaks and the poker vocation is one they have to come to terms with when they speak of their kids whereabouts.
Another difference i noticed from traveling around Italy, France, UK, and Ireland was how different the restroom situation was. After walking around the city center area in Paris, i had to use the restroom, and for the first time i encountered pay restrooms. I believe it cost one or two euros which would be like two bucks. Shelling out money to facilitate a basic need like that made me feel like i had to double barrel it and also pinch off a download while i was there to get max value! Most of the sinks also use a foot pedal instead of a twisting knob like we use. I have to say i like the foot pedal game better. It's also funny how most restaurants or cafe's over their price food, beverages and service. Most restaurants and cafe's will have two different charges for whatever you get, there will be a dine-in charge and a to-go charge, obviously to-go being cheaper. I'm also pretty sure i remember it costing more to eat outside in a patio area as well i think at a few places.
I thought it was funny how in Paris outside most of the cafe's and coffee shops damm near every single person who was eating or drinking their cappuccino outside were all facing the street to watch the all the people and whatever goes on. I guess when paying extra for that outside seat they feel the need to soak in everything going on outside. In London, outside most of the bars, heaps of people drink their pints and smoke outside in the street. Oh yeah, people in Europe love saying the word heaps and sorted. When a situation is resolved its most definitely "sorted". The airport situation is a bit different over there as well, i'm a big fan of not having to de-shoe when going through the security check, i wonder why its not necessary over there but necessary here in the States. Oh yah and there's the tipping phenomenon. Yeaaaaah we tip a lot more money for everything here in America and we tip for way more services. In Australia when i got a taxi from the airport, the guy wouldn't accept a tip. When playing poker, the dealer's couldn't accept any tips either. As i understand it, pretty much in most restaurants where there's not a service fee added, tipping seems to be pretty optional, and if you decide to be above the rim generosity wise, a 10% tip is greeted with a very warm smile. It makes sense to me to make the employer and not the customer pay for its employees wage. However, not surprisingly as a result, the service in most situations is better in America as a result of the worker having more incentive.
Vincent Vega (John Travolta) also noted a few subtle differences between American and European life in probably my favorite movie of all-time in Pulp Fiction, "You know what the funniest thing about Europe is....it's just the little differences, I mean they got the same sh** over there that we got here its just a little different. You can walk into a movie theatre in Amsterdam and buy a beer and i ain't talking bout a paper cup i'm talking about a glass of beer and in Paris you can buy a beer in McDonalds."
True Dat Mr. Vega...True That.
I wouldn't be a poker player worth my salt without posting at least a few hands i've played or encountered along the way.
Persons of Interest: Phil Laak
This hand happened about eight months ago actually but it came to my mind the other day when playing with Mr. Laak again briefly. I'm sitting about 8k deep at 10/20 NL at the lovely Commerce Casino and Mr. Laak not too surprisingly has me covered. He's terribly partial to the teal 1k chips at the Commerce. Since this hand is a bit old there's a decent chance raise amounts & details can be slightly off for what its worth. Laak makes it $70 from middle position, gets two calls, i re-raise to ~$300 with AA, Laak calls, others fold. Flop is Ac7d8d, Laak checks, i bet ~$350, Laak gets familiarized with my stack and throws in a stack of teals, putting me all-in. I call rather happily and ask Laak if he wants to run it once or twice at which Laak, rather shrewdly i mite add, says he wants to run it only once. (For those unfamiliar, in all-in pots you can run out undetermined cards and extra time, say in this instance the pot is 16k, if we ran it twice it would create two 8k pots where there would be a turn and river resulting in one board, one 8k pot, and another turn and river for the other 8k.) The turn is the 3d and the river is a blank and Laak ships the pot with AdJd.
Persons of Interest: Freddy Deeb
Another hand which was played months ago but playing with Freddy Deeb recently reminded me of a hand we played. I need to start writing these hands down ASAP so i can preserve the details of the situation better. This hand is more fuzzy in a few spots but it was $10-$20NL, I can't remember if Deeb opened or called a raise preflop, i believe he opened, but he either opens and a few calls by the time it gets to me in bb or its opened and he is one of a few callers. In any event, i get AQ in the bb and re-raise to ~$400. Mr. Deeb calls like $300 more, others fold. Flop is JT2 and i bet ~$450 at which point Mr. Deeb looks at me... figures out what i had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and raises to like $1200 with like $1000 behind. I begrudgingly fold and Mr. Deeb shows like K4o no pair no draw.