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Sunday
Dec072014

Back to the Felt

Until this week I had played poker once since my son was born almost a year ago. That was in my “regular” home game. This week I decided I needed a mental break so I headed to the poker room at the dog track. I should write a separate post about what poker does for my mind; it’s one of the most relaxing things I can think of. But that’s not what this is about. Just a couple of hands…

I was pretty card dead for the first couple of hours and folded a lot. In fact, the guy next to me referred to me as “the tightest player at the table”… probably time to open it up a little bit. I dragged a couple of decent pots without a showdown and was up to about $275 (from my $200 buy-in) when “George” sat down. I have no idea what his name was, but he reminded me of the guy that used play 3/6 limit at Harrah’s in St. Louis and always knocked his chips on some little totem he had with him before he tossed them in and then made some sort of physical-tick motion with both hands. Anyway… he bought in for $100 and was playing every hand pre-flop. 

I’m in the BB. One limper and then folded to George in late position and he makes it $7 to go. Small blind calls and I call with

figuring to get a call behind and hopefully not a squeeze (unlikely at this table). And that's just what happened.

Flop

(Pot $28)

SB checks. I check. Old guy in early position checks. George bets $10. SB folds. I call. Old guy folds. Heads up. 

Turn

(Pot $48)

I check. George checks. 

River

 

I check. George moves in quickly for $55. This was about the third time he’d moved all in since sitting down, always on the river and so far no one had called. I thought for a few seconds and couldn’t make any sense out of his play so I called. He shows

... and re-buys.

A little later I’m on the button. Splashy guy in middle position raises to $7. George calls. I call with

Both blinds fold.

Three players take a flop (Pot $24)

Flop

Yahtzee!

Initial raiser bets $10. George makes it $25. I call. Initial raiser folds.

Turn

(Pot $84)

George checks. I bet $45. He calls.

River

(Pot $174)

Without hesitation George moves all-in for $165. I’ve got about $250 in my stack now and I hate that bet. It feels just like his previous shoves. Like he has no plan at all and just wants to apply pressure. But then I end up leveling myself… I figure he knows I’m the guy that called him down the last time he did that so he’s less likely to do it again to me and he’s probably sitting there with the naked Ace of spades.

I fold.

In hindsight I think it was the wrong play. I just feel like he would have bet less if he thought he was betting for value. I leveled myself into thinking he was playing the game on a level that he had showed no capacity for so I laid down the second nuts like a dumbass. But I’ve still got a healthy stack.

And the last interesting hand…. 

I’m in the BB with

A guy that was fairly new to the table and hadn’t really been splashing around raised to $10 from early position. George calls (did I mention he played every hand?). I called $8 more and a guy who had limped UTG calls.

4 Players to the flop (Pot $41)

Flop

I check. UTG guy bets $10. New guy calls. George makes it $30. I call. UTG guy folds. New guy calls.

Turn

(Pot $131)

I check. New guy checks. George bets $45. I call. New guy calls.

River

(Pot $266) 

I don’t know what I was hoping for because now I’ve hit my hand and I don’t feel great about it. I decided to lead for $45 to try to control the action. That didn’t work… new guy makes it $100. George folds. I tank…

His story adds up. Super tight. Overcalling on a textured board with big action. Then the raise on the river when my hand gets there. It’s never a bluff, right? Ever? Ugh. I stack the other $55 and push it in. He shows

Ouch! Terrible play by me here even if I overlook the loose pre-flop call. My gut was sure I was beat on the river and I stuck more money in anyway.

I stuck around for a couple more hours and ground out some small pots and left up $60 winners so it wasn’t a bad night. Just feel like I should have trusted my reads more.

 

Sunday
Nov092014

Tip: iOS Email Undelete

Passing along an iOS tip that I frequently find useful though I'm not sure it's even documented. That's the ability to undo the (accidental) deletion of an email. It's particularly helpful with the ability to long-swipe-left on an email to delete it with one touch. Sometimes I find that I've done this to the wrong message and would like to get it back.

Easy. Just shake the phone for "undo" and the last deleted message will pop right back into your inbox. In fact, if you've deleted several you can keep shaking and undelete them one at a time to get back to the one you want.

I'm not sure when this feature was introduced but it's been around since at least iOS 7 and carried forward into the (as of this writing) current iOS 8.1.

Sunday
Oct262014

Note to Self

Maybe this is weird but then again I've never claimed to not be weird.

I'm an "IT Guy". In the course of my job I often encounter technical issues ranging from the simple & mundane to the rare & cryptic. There are easy ones; A well-written, verbose error on a popular piece of software. If the solution is not obvious from the error, a quick trip to the vendors website or support pages should do the trick. The more difficult issues arise on custom-built, abandoned, or obscure software where the error message is something like "Unknown Error 1". And some of the trickiest are when I'm developing custom applications of my own.

I've developed a pretty reliable troubleshooting escalation list that has been handy.

Read the error - As mentioned earlier, sometimes error messages give you everything you need to solve the problem. A file permission is wrong. A configuration setting is missing, etc. Take action based on the error and try again.

Experience - How well do you know the app? Have you encountered similar problems in the same application? In other applications? This can be a good place to start.

Internal SMEs - Sometimes the fastest answer comes from the people that know best. If you have in-person access to a Subject Matter Expert don't waste time searching. While you might find a resolution online, the subject matter expert can teach you why something was broken enhancing your understanding and increasing your self-sufficiency.

Search - Obviously the Internet is a tremendous resource. Remember that error message above? The reason it sucks is because the error code was 1. If the error was something like "1326" you'd be a lot more likely to find useful information with a web search. The more detail you have the better off you are. Stay active in the vendors forums and support pages to reduce your time-to-resolution.

Collaborate - If you can't find the answer, engage a co-worker, contact, Linked-In friend, etc. Even if that person is not an SME (see above), it really is true that "two heads are better than one". Working through an issue together and with a fresh set of eyes can help you pick up on things you missed before.

Trouble Ticket - If you must... open a trouble ticket with the vendor. The ranking of this option on the scale actually varies drastically depending on the package you're supporting and the vendor. Some vendors have top-notch support that can answer even complex questions quickly. Many, however, do not and will simply open a work order, give you the number, and hopefully you'll hear back from someone in a week or so. If the vendor is good use them by all means. In that case they're effectively the SMEs from above.

That all seems rational and not-at-all wierd. It's the last item on my list that seems a bit strange... at least to me.

Note to Self - When all else fails, I write an email... to myself. I work through as much detail as I can think of even the seemingly trivial bits. I write it as if I'm asking a friend for help. A friend that knows only the basics of the application or issue and would appreciate knowing the specifics and the steps I've taken so far and the results they produced. I find that similar to collaborating, this can refresh my perspective on the issue and take me down new paths of resolution that I may have been overlooking due to blind familiarity.

Believe it or not, this last method has saved me more than once. In fact just recently and that's when I wondered if anyone else does this?

How about you? What creative troubleshooting steps do you employ?

Tuesday
Sep302014

Recreational Password Guessing

I have a TrueCrypt volume that's been hanging around for more than a year now. It's fairly small (<5GB) and has a non-informative name. I don't remember where it's from; I know it's from my previous (or even older) laptop and has just been carried forward in the "things to keep" folder.

However, I have absolutely no idea what the password for the volume is. So, every now and again I give it a few guesses. Today was one of those days. Thwarted again.

Sunday
Sep142014

New Number, Same Credit Card Fraud

Funny thing happened this past week. Not funny ha-ha, funny odd. Earlier this year I received a call from Citibank’s “Early Warning Fraud Detection” department letting me know that someone attempted to use my credit card for online purchases from Malmö in Sweden. They shut down the account number and issued me a new card with a new number. You can read more about that in this post.

Since then I’ve used the card very little. I’ve generated VANs (Virtual Account Numbers) with it for purchasing cellphone reloads for my mother-in-law. I used it once at a local auto-repair shop and I used it for travel expenses during a long road trip.

A couple of days ago I again got a call from the same Fraud Detection department at Citibank. It seems my new card number on the same account was being used for attempted purchases in Denmark… and Sweden. In fact, the same online merchant in Sweden as the last time.

This is too coincidental to me.

The first time it happened my prime suspect was the pay-as-you-go cell service provider. But, I never gave them my new card number. Gas stations seem like one of the most likely places for a card number to escape into the wild what with the proliferation of skimmers. I’m fairly diligent about examining card readers and even pulling on them before entering my card. But, I’ve seen some good ones and can’t say with certainty that I wouldn’t fall for it. What are the odds, though, that I would have used the cards at the same random gas station hundreds of miles from home twice over the course of nearly a year and then had the numbers stolen and used in the same way?

The final suspect is the local auto-repair shop. I had used the card there once prior to the initial incident when I had some work done last year.

At this point, I’m not sure what to think. I’ve got a new card with a new number in the mail.