20 November 2008


The Sports and Social Club at the Sanger hosted a not-for-money poker tournament last night. At first glance it was an interesting event: thirty entrants started out at five six-seat tables (just due to the size of the furniture, not because of any stylistic choice). In the interest of time, however, the structure is quite odd:

  1. A 45 minute round with $1500 and fixed blinds of $25-$50. At the end of the round, each player receives a score equal to his remaining stack.

  2. Another identical round, with all players starting over from $1500. At the end of this round each player again receives a score equal to his remaining stack.

  3. The six players with the highest cumulative score from the first rounds play a final table (again starting from equal stacks) in the standard way.

Now, there's all kinds of things wrong with this style, including the fact that it hugely emphasises luck, because it keeps resetting the chip count even after players might have built up a large lead. It also leads to some quite interesting strategic choices, because you have to play very aggressively in order to build up a score to put you into the top six.

This was complicated by the fact that roughly half the players had literally never played before, so you have to try to aim your play at one particular kind of frustrating (albeit predictable) opponent. I finished with zero from the first round after getting hammered on a draw-out, and I found that the top six at that point were all above $3000. So my goal was the very difficult task of building up to about $4500 in one round (since the winners between rounds were not highly correlated). I made it to about $3400 with 10 mins left to play, but was essentially forced to repeatedly go all in as time was expiring, since that was the only way I could hope to make it to the final table. Amusingly, I finished with zero overall score despite now insisting that I was by far the best strategic player in the field. :)

05 November 2008

Dreams, meet reality

Well, I made it into work about 0930, despite being up until 0330 last night watching election returns (I had hoped to stay awake until Obama's victory speech, but it was just too late: 0515 UK time). A few thoughts on watching the dawn of a new era as an ex-pat:

  1. BBC coverage was fun to watch, although it had a bizarrely amateur feel. They had all the flash modern graphics, with a dude with a touch screen and zooming maps, but it felt like the junior varsity production team was running the show. Nearly every toss from the central desk in Washington was bungled. Over and over again the camera would cut to a reporter in some US location who was staring off screen, or talking to someone else, etc.

  2. Seventy-year-old David Dimbleby (still younger than McCain) emceed the proceedings. He seemed to have a hard time keeping up with the whizzing graphics, but generally did a good job of keeping his guests on topic despite repeatedly calling "North Hampshire" for Obama.

  3. John Bolton was a guest on the program for about an hour, and proved himself a hugely arrogant blowhard, preferring repeatedly and obnoxiously to chastise the BBC for its biased coverage rather than discuss the ongoing events. At one point he shouted that one of the reporters should be immediately sacked for daring to actually probe an interviewee (something British newspersons are generally much better at than their American counterpats).

  4. Saw a snippet of McCain's concession speech, and I have to echo MRhe's comments that it seemed very gracious and unspiteful. Jenny remarked that he must feel very relieved today that at least this campaign is finally over.

  5. I think this calls for a public display of Old Glory!


Amusing tale from the required bilinguism on road signs in Wales.

04 November 2008

Triumphant return

Well, maybe not "triumphant". I am, however, back in the UK after an awesome holiday in California and then Belize (hence my relative lack of access to the interwebs, and silence in this space). Today is Day 2 at my new job at the Sanger, so I'm still running around trying to get settled in etc, and anxiously looking forward to a long night of following election returns tonight!

Lengthier update soon!