Archive for the ‘hobbies and afflictions’ Category

An interesting, yet profitable, night at the baize

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Last Friday night was a good one for me.  4 of us played in the first of the regularly scheduled Movers and Shakers tourneys that are in PokerStars Home Games tab and I took the prize money.  An hour later the knockout tournament started and only 3 showed up to play, but with an entry fee of $13.50, that meant $30 to the eventual winner and a $2.50 bounty on each player.  I weaved my magic ;-) and claimed all 3 bounty’s as well as the purse.  That resulted in a $57.50 payout for the night; after expenses (entry fees) I was left with a $38.50 nett profit.  Not enough to make a living off but enough to make it a worthwhile alternative to twiddling my thumbs on a Friday night.

Alas, Monday night was a different story.  Tahu showed up, Olly did too but he didn’t realise he had to register with Home Games first and was still hanging around waiting for an invite half an hour after the game had finished, and Big Jase was busy being industrious with Farmville.  To make things worse, I got called away from the computer just as the game was about to start.  Mandi played the first 10 minutes on my behalf, and going by her description of the hands she played, I probably would have played them the same way she did, but the fact is when I came back my chip stack was close to $300 and Tahu’s was about $2700.  I managed to stretch it out a bit but was never able to get back on an even footing (he’s to good to allow that) so it was virtually inevitable that he eventually won.

Tonight I had a wee tiki tour around the other PokerStars Home Games clubs and ended up joining 2 of them.  Both have close to 300 members so consistent turnouts are more likely.  I’m still waiting for acceptance/confirmation to On The Mac, it seeems to be Australian based with a large number of regularly scheduled tournaments.

The other club is called High Hand Jackpot and it only has ring games.  This would normally not appeal to me BUT the thing that makes this club different is:

  • if you win a hand with 4 of a kind or better, they credit your account with $20.
  • if you were dealt in on a hand where someone else wins with quads or better (even if you fold pre-flop), they credit your account with $10.

There are some conditions but nothing exceptional:

  • winning hand must go to showdown
  • winning hand must feature both hole cards
  • no collusion to play hands soft

I spoke with the host of this club.  It’s being done as a promotion so it will probably only be there for a few weeks.  Once a week they run a search program for all the club games that have featured wins with quads or better.  They check the details and all payouts are made on Tuesday.  I sat at the first table to play with $8, blinds were 5c/10c.

After close to an hour of play the player to my left had pocket 9’s.  There was a 9 in the flop and a 9 on the turn and at the showdown he revealed his quads.  The problem is that he never bet post-flop.  He won 48c from that hand, but under normal circumstances most people would have bet following the flop to represent the set of 9’s, then after the turn even if they decided to slow play the hand they would have bet after the river especially considering he was positioned on the button.  I don’t believe they’ll pay out for that one ‘cos he definitely soft played the hand to make sure it went to the showdown.  If they do, I’ll get $10 even though I folded pre-flop.

Close to an hour later, and my stack was dwindling, I had $2.91 remaining.  I had JK so I decided to play.  From the small blind with 1 caller I raised to 50c.  Big Blind and early caller both called. Flop was 6 A 6.  3 checks.  Turn was Q, I check, Big Blind bet 50c, the other guy folds, I’m left wondering did he slow play the flop or has he just paired the Queen.  My straight draw urges me to call.  The River is a K.  I’m paired and I’m tired, I make the decision without hesitation.  If he has paired his Q I’m a winner, If he has paired his A or tripped his 6, then it’s bedtime anyways.  ALL IN.  He calls instantly and reveals his hole cards, 6 6.  So he takes the pot $6.32 minus rake plus he gets to look forward to an extra $20 next Tuesday and I, and everyone else seated at the table, get to look forward to $10 next Tuesday (and depending on how strict the hosts are I may even get $10 for the other one)

…so I sat down with $8, left with nothing, but I still made a profit!

Poker Night; the first of many I hope

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Last night I hosted my first online poker “Home Game”.

I would call it a success except for the fact that I didn’t win, worse than that I was the first one knocked out of the first tournament.  I lasted 4 hands!  In my defence I had 4 playable hands, it’s just that in 2 of those hands there were others with better playable hands! (note to self: QQ will not beat JJ when the board is showng, 9-10-Q  –  K  –  A)

The night featured 2 tournaments that ran concurrently and a regular ring table with 5c and 10c blinds.  My mstake was playing all 3 tables at the same time!  Whilst this can be done, there was only one other person at the ring table (so there was virtually no down time) and six others at each of the 2 tourneys.  Consequently I was rushing between tables and not studying the play closely enough.

The first of the tourneys was a straightforward winner-takes-all tournament.  The entry fee was $5.50.  $5 for the prize pool and 50c to PokerStars for allowing us to use their poker site.  Six players in meant a purse of $30 for the eventual winner.  Nek minnit (x 58) Mike (aka Mad Dog Fos) was that eventual winner and he had the grace to come and share his winnings at the ring table where Andrea (aka Lipstix_Won) was busy chipping away at my stack.  I was just glad for the respite (she’s ruthless that girl).

The other tourney was a knockout tournament for play money (kindly donated by PokerStars).   It cost $655PM to enter: $500PM for the main prize pool, $125PM for the bounties and $30PM to PokerStars so they feel good about hosting us.  The bounties are rewarded to a player every time they knock someone out of the game, hence knockout.  Reeling from having just been knocked out of the first tournament, I had much pleasure taking the first scalp and sent k1w1rocker packing so he could concentrate on the other tourney.  The remaining scalps however, were all claimed by bump89 and although I managed to claim the chip lead a few times, victory was eventually his.

Many thanks to those who were able to take part in Poker Night; the first of many, I hope.  All those that have already joined the Movers and Shakers have been made administrators in the hope they can attract others to the club.  It would be nice to see the regular Friday and Saturday night tourneys become a well anticipated fixture.


You are invited to join my private poker club for Home Games online.

– If you don’t already have it, download the free PokerStars software from
– Open the main poker lobby, then click on the Home Games tab
– Click the ‘Join a Poker Club’ button
– Enter my Club ID number: 580931
– Enter my Invitation Code: chchcity

That’s it!  Once I’ve approved your membership request, we’ll be ready to start playing Home Games online together.

If you want to find out more, visit




Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Well, what can I say?  There is no excuse for not keeping this blog up over the last year.  Yes, I have been busy, but truthfully no busier than any other year.  Maybe it’s just a fact that I’m only going to be “occasional” at making entries on this blog site.  If anyone out there in “Cyberland” happens to stumble upon this blog, then please accept my humble apologies for its sporadic nature.


What exactly have I been up to for the last year?

Somewhere in this last year, I took the plunge.  I actually put some money in to my PokerStars account.  It was a big move for someone like me; someone who has always been aware of his “addictive personality”; someone who has deliberately avoided the local casino. 

Only once in the fifteen years since the casino was built have I ever been inside it.  It was a Sunday morning about 4 or 5 years ago.  I finished work early that morning (about 5.30 as opposed to 6.00 or later as per usual) and went for a couple of drinks with some workmates.  As is usual it didn’t take much for the alcohol to affect me and by 8.00am I was in need of food. The casino had a reputation for putting on an awesome breakfast buffet, so off we headed.  I got to the casino and as I stood outside I braced myself to enter.  I told myself that I was there for breakfast “I’m not going to stop at the gaming tables, or the pokies.  I’m going to walk right past all those distractions and go straight to the buffet”.

I walked in to a massive and impressive foyer.  Marble, brass and glass everywhere.  The place sparkled, it was literally bedazzling.  The ceiling was three floors up and there was a sweeping staircase that went to the first mezzanine floor.  At the top of these stairs I discovered a large gaming room with at least twenty card tables.  I could see a bar to my right and beyond that there may have been a restaurant but I was mesmerised by the gaming room.  It’s 8.30 on a Sunday morning so perhaps it’s understandable that only a quarter of the card tables seem to have any action.  I’m curious.  I’m more than curious. 

I wandered through for a closer look.  Blackjack, blackjack, blackjack.  Three blackjack tables with limits ranging from $5 to $100 and between 3 and 5 punters on each.  Roulette, 2 couples discuss the likelihood of red coming a 3rd time.  Carribean Stud Poker, 1 table, 2 players, boring!  My love for poker keeps me at the table long enough to watch a few hands, but I can’t fathom the sense of playing a game that is purely luck.  I’m baffled that this is the only poker variation on offer.  For more than 10 years I have kept myself away from this place for fear that I might get carried away and drive myself into debt , and when I finally do allow myself to enter, I find that they don’t even have anything here that interests me.

My workmates called out to me. “Apparently the breakfast buffet is not operating today.  The restaurant will be open at 10.00am if we want to hang around.”  I might have been tempted but I could see nothing worth doing for an hour and a half.  We left the casino and had breakfast at a pub across the road.

As we wandered back across the road, I mused to myself that I may well stay away from that place for another 10 years – this time out of disdain.  It was a definite disappointment.


Things have changed though.  There has been a Poker boom, Texas Hold’em has taken the world by storm.  It has even reached down under and now the local casino not only hosts regular poker tournaments but lately they’ve been advertising Monday and Wednesday nights as “Poker Nights”.  It’s so popular now that there is even a “National Pub Poker League”.

The essence of this story is that putting real money online is a big deal to me.  Admittedly I didn’t put a fortune online (NZ$50 which worked out to about US$30) but it was real cash.  I played the cheap tournaments;  $1 + $0.20 tourneys through to $5 + $0.50 tourneys for up to 45 players.  The $1.00 part of the entry fee goes towards the prize money and the $0.20 is PokerStars’ commission for hosting the tournament.  Typically a 45 player tournament has prize money for the top 7 players;

Total prize pool: $45.00

7 places paid

1st  $14.00

2nd  $10.00

3rd  $7.00

4th  $5.00

5th  $4.00

6th  $3.00

7th  $2.00

For a $5 + $0.50 tourney the prizes range from $69.76 down to $7.87

I had varied success, but I played every night for nearly 3 months.  Occasionally winning, making the money every 3rd or 4th tourney.  A poker acquaintance of mine (Kurt) told me how he was proud of himself for having $50.00 in his online account, considering he had $50.00 in there a year previous. Effectively he had played for a year for free.  Apparently the year previous he started with $50.00 and twice had to put in another $50.00 to still end up with zilch.  So initially I was proud of myself for not losing it all instantly, but the best I could manage was to stay even.  I had to face the reality that my poker skills were not as phenomenal as I would like to have believed.  I put it down to the “online” factor.  When playing online it’s much harder to get a read on the other players, therefore you have to take a more statistical approach.

At this point my whole poker game started to fall apart – I had regular “live” tourneys that I played in, and it’s fair to say that I usually fared ok in these.  The problem was that as I adjusted my game to a safer style that suited the internet, I moved towards “playing the cards” more than my natural style of “playing the players”.  In a live game, the players are easier to read than the cards.

So that’s where my “game” is at, at the moment.  I need to find the balance and I need to be able to switch from one mode to the other as required.

Martial Arts

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

As a youngster I was always a little bigger than most others my age so fights and scraps at school were never really an issue for me.

Being “A”stream and being big enough to look after myself was too much of an incongruity for some people to understand. Only nerds were supposed to be “A” stream and the “tough” guys were supposed to be brainless thugs, so having a solidly built Samoan who also had a brain that functioned beyond finding food created something of an unusual mix that many had problems coming to terms with. For me, it meant that virtually everyone wanted to be my friend (or at least nobody wanted to be my enemy). For my classmates it meant that very seldom would they get hassled for being nerds as they were friends with the “big Samoan guy”.

Eventually size would not be enough. Once I left school and entered the big wide world I found that you can’t just use your size to make would-be-bullies back down and expect everything to be hunky dory. I decided to try Karate. I enrolled at Okinawa-Te Karate but after a few months I found the rigidity of that style not suited to me. Eventually I attended Zen-Do-Kai (a free-style martial art) where I trained for a few years under the expert tutelage of Sensei Geoff Aitken. I learned much from Geoff and the philosophies of Zen-Do-Kai fitted easily with my own style of learning. His teaching style was such that when showing us a move, he would show us the same move in many different styles. He was expert in traditional karate as well as Aikido and Muay Thai Kick Boxing. From what he showed us we were encouraged to learn each style and pick whichever suited us personally, or even to develop another way of achieving the same result that was comfortable to us. In doing so we were able to understand and break down the science behind different movements in the various martial arts. This ability to analyse body movements has helped me immensely in many different fields of my life.

Eventually I gained work “on the door” at a club. It was a good club. In two years there was only one incident and that was virtually taken care of by the female manager. I eventually gave that job up to work at a “busier” bar, but when that bar went through management changes I was put down the road.

Years later I got together with a friend (Deano) who had done a number of different martial arts, including styles such as Greco-Roman Wrestling, Wing Chun Kung Fu and Tai Chi.  At one point Deano started teaching Self-Defence classes to a small group of our friends. Together we would try various moves on each other and we each developed what worked for us. It was through Deano that I re-entered the bar scene and started working again as a “Group Environment Mood Stabiliser”

People love that title, but it’s not nearly as pretentious as it sounds.  I don’t like the word Bouncer it has too many connotations and I certainly don’t want the image of being the big burly guy that picks people up and bounces them through the door.  I consider it my job to ensure that people in the bar are able to enjoy the night without others upsetting it for them.  It is not my job to make the bar an enjoyable place (we hire musicians for that) – my job is merely to ensure that one persons actions don’t interfere with someone elses ability to enjoy themselves – I don’t set the tone,  I merely moderate it – I don’t create the mood, I merely stabilise it – Mood Stabiliser

Essentially I consider myself a capable martial artist – I like physical contest – but I’m certainly no “slap-happy thug” –

I do sincerely believe that had I not found love when I did, I would have eventually either joined the French Foreign Legion or become a proffessional bodyguard.  Had this been the case, my martial arts would have evolved and developed by now to a phenomenal level.  Alas that was not the case.  Don’t get me wrong though – I’m no slug!  …but neither am I Jet Li :-|

Habits, hobbies and afflictions

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

As far as hobbies and pastimes go I have a few that vary over time:

POKER is currently a game that I’m right in to (particularly Texas Hold ’em).

As a child my parents were among very few Samoan families to settle in Christchurch, as such most were known to each other and many of those families and individuals would come to my family home in the weekends if only to be around other familiar faces. Invariably these weekends would develop in to card playing evenings that would often evolve into poker-weekends. It was our job as kids to keep everyone fed and “coffee’d” through the weekend.

Often, as people sat cross-legged on Samoan mats in their card schools, they would eventually tire. If this happened they would simply shuffle back (creating a space in the school) and we’d provide a pillow for them to lie and sleep, meanwhile someone else would sit in their space. Occasionally this would continue from Friday evening to Monday morning – a continual rotation of card players, all laughing and joking their way through the weekend until it was time to return to the weekly grind. The usual game of choice was SWEEPIE (it’s very popular in Samoa – I once found a game called CASINO that was similar but have never seen it played outside the Samoan community) but with that number of card players in one place I suppose it was inevitable that sooner or later poker would enter the fray.

I remember with clarity my older brother sitting me down and explaining the workings of MANILA – I was instantly keen to play more. From that point on I have had a keen interest and enthusiasm for “parlour” games.

CHESS is another game that enthralls me.

I was 9 years old when I first stated an interest in learning how to play Chess. One of my brothers took the time to show me how the pieces moved but it wasn’t long before he stopped having time to play with me (maybe I should have let him win more often). My father took the time to play with me but he eventually gave up as well.


Dad preferred to play CHECKERS or MU as it is known in Samoa. There are 2 significant differences between Mu and Checkers (or DRAUGHTS as many people call it). In Mu once a piece is promoted (or King’d) it gains the ability to not only move backwards but also to move more than 1 space at a time which makes it very difficult to hide from. The other difference in Mu is that you’re not allowed to take time to think about your move. Mu is Samoan for burn; as such the idea is that both players are required to make their moves very fast (almost to the point where the pieces are on fire they are moving that quickly). I once took 2 seconds to think about my move and Dad threatened to tip the board up.

I gained much from this style of play:

  • I learned to evaluate situations quickly
  • I learned to develop “evolving” strategies
  • I learned that “losing” does not make one a loser, it merely gives you a point from which to develop improvement.

The downside to this style of play is:


  • because of the brevity of these games it is hard to develop the mental stamina that games such as Chess and Poker require


I’m also a fan of BACKGAMMON especially when played at speed, but in truth there aren’t many boardgames or card games that I don’t like