Entries for January, 2010

The weather here in Oahu is absoultely gorgeous. It's sunny, 78, and there's a continuous gentle breeze. This trip has been an awesome mix of doing stuff (I went scuba diving!) and relaxing at the beautiful beaches here. I have to say, taking a break from the 'Net has been a wonderful change of pace too - 2009 was so busy that it felt awesome to really get my head above water.

2009 was an awesome year for me - even with the economy being wiped out and my retirement/savings taking a huge hit, it was still an awesome year. Any year I end in Hawaii, with my friends/family healthy is a good year.


Posted by roy on January 2, 2010 at 05:19 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

If you hang around me in real life, you should know that I am vehemently anti-smartphone. But today, I will give credit where credit is due and give smartphones (and Bert) some props.

Today, while dnjoying the wonderfulness that is Oahu, I got a voicemail message from US Airways that my flight from Kailua-Kona to Phoenix was canceled (original flight back was Honolulu -> Kailua-Kona -> Phoenix -> San Diego at 9am tomorrow morning).

I dutifully called the US Airways customer line, but found it clogged (30 minutes until they could answer my call was the message I got; I'm assuming this has to do with the nasty wintry weather back east). I decided it'd be better for me to head over to Honolulu Airport and deal with it. So off I drove.

I went over to the Hawaiian Airlines counter (my check-in was there), but they directed me to the other terminal towards US Airways. On my walk over, I called US Airways again. After the first ring, a guy picked it up immediately (when's the last time that's happened?).

The guy started looking for flights to rebook me on, but wasn't getting much luck. That's when Bert (with his shiny Googlephone) pointed me to a codeshare flight on United Airlines that'd get me back even faster and with less connections than my previous flight! Bert, on his smartphone, beat this guy in finding me the best flight back.

Success - got the flight rebooked - I leave five hours earlier than my original flight, but I get back the same night in San Diego, so red-eye avoided!

Thanks, US Airways! I'm sure if this was Delta they would have found out some way to piss me off...

Posted by roy on January 2, 2010 at 08:57 PM in Travel | 1 Comments

Back home, and it feels great.

Keri Hilson is beautiful (I also love this song & video!):

Posted by roy on January 4, 2010 at 02:20 AM in Music | 1 Comments

Was going through some 2009 photos (the Tri-X I sent out got sent back while I was gone).

I saw this nice photo of Tim, Damien and myself gettting PHOTOBOMBED:

I love our reaction in the subsequent photo when we realize what's happened:

And here's a photo from the same night with Steve and Aaron (MT cofounders):

While I'm posting photos of humorous consequence:

Posted by roy on January 4, 2010 at 04:19 AM in Ramblings, MindTouch | 2 Comments

The more dangerous oversight of our current government is its neglect of young businesses:

If you doubt its importance, consider this: All net job creation from 1980 to 2005 came from firms that were five years old or less, according to a study by economists John Haltiwanger of the University of Maryland and Ron Jarmin and Javier Miranda of the Census Bureau. In any one year, that may not be true; but over time, mature firms lose more jobs than they create. "It's not small firms but young firms that count," says economist Robert Litan of the Kauffman Foundation, which sponsored the study. (source)

Posted by roy on January 5, 2010 at 02:14 AM in Ramblings | 8 Comments

While in Hawaii, I got signed up for scuba diving. I'll be honest - at first, I wasn't too keen on it. But boy, was I wrong.

We first did our training at a swimming pool. I got fitted with a hot purple wetsuit (which looked strangely similar to the ones the girls were wearing...) The first activity, using the regulator to breathe, was incredibly tough. I kept wanting to breathe in/out through my nose - breathing just through my mouth felt unnatural. I eventually got the hang of it, and that's when my love of scuba diving began.

We eventually got into full gear and practiced in the pool - it felt so incredibly peaceful! After what seemed to be an hour or two at the pool, we headed over to the ocean to do our first dive.

Now, let me say that due to certain past experiences, I had vowed never to set foot on an ocean-bound boat again (if this seems to conflict with sailing hobby, then yes, it's a contradiction). And the open water dive was a stark reminder on why.

As we headed oceanbound, I started feeling sick. Very sick. The waves were incredibly rough (for Hawaii) and I felt my stomach starting to churn. Fortunately, we reached the dive point, and fortunately, I got to be the second one to dive out.

I remember the first step out in the rough ocean waters - I had forgotten all my training. I can't remember the last time I panicked like I did when I first dove out. I (stupidly) removed my regulator and tried to breathe normally, but kept failing. Eventually I calmed down and went underwater (to avoid getting even sicker and to start getting used to using the regulator underwater).

Now, even being out in the water was only marginally better - the waves kept making me feel worse, and people were having a hard time getting off the boat (I floated around for a while, waiting for everybody to be waterbound). I later discovered that the reason it took so long is because so many people got sick, they had to get back up on the boat. (Bert ended up puking twice underwater... quite a skill!)

Eventually, I got to start the dive part with my instructor. As I cautiously dove down (being sure to equalize the pressure in my ears every few feet), a sense of calm came over me. Underneath the waves, the sea was so peaceful. It was an equivalent feeling to sailing on the bay ... everything was calm and I felt at peace.

Even better, when I got to the bottom, there was a sea turtle! A frickin' sea turtle! I swam with it for a bit (I didn't have enough weights - I kept getting pulled up)... then I realized I was running out of air so I went back up.

The moment I got on the boat, I dry heaved over the side (I have learned that anytime I'm oceanbound, I should eat light) and then sat down and felt so-very-sick for the rest of the ride back.

You can see me and Tim to the far right of the picture (the bucket was for Tim).

But, even with the sea sickness, I'm hooked on scuba diving. I've started looking into schools here in San Diego to pick up a certification (looks like I need to save up for a few weeks!).

I never understood people who obsessed over scuba diving, but now I get it. It's frickin awesome.

. . .

Brian decided to photoshop the group photo I posted in a previous entry, entitled "ROYROYROY" (with apologies to Steve and Aaron):

Now if that's not the most disturbing thing I've ever seen, I don't know what is.

Posted by roy on January 5, 2010 at 10:31 PM in Travel, Ramblings | 8 Comments

Let's be honest: it's all about the exit. I was chatting over theoretical exits with a coworker, and he was surprised to hear that a $1,000,000 exit for me wasn't enough. I've realized I've never had a number in mind, just a generation notion that I want an exit that gives me "f u money."

So that got me to thinking: how much is "f u money" to me?

To me, having "fu money" means that the money you make on interest rates exceeds (or is close to) your net expenditures every year.

Assuming you start living the "f u money" lifestyle, I'd imagine your yearly expenses would run about $150,000 (and that's pretty aggressive). Assuming the market someday normalizes and you can find investments which return 5% of your net worth, the basic math boils down to:

$150,000 / 0.05 = $3,000,000 (after taxes).

Which means the exit I'm want should stake me $3.5 mil, since Uncle Sam will take a nice long-term capital gains cut of 15%.

Obviously I'm not taking into account taxes on that $150,000, but for rough numbers, that seems good enough.

Posted by roy on January 6, 2010 at 05:32 PM in Ramblings, Finances | 2 Comments

Today at work, I bragged that I had never been called up for jury duty in my eight years of being a part of the jury lottery.

Well, guess what was waiting for me in the mail as soon as I got home?

Timing is everything.

Posted by roy on January 6, 2010 at 11:00 PM in Ramblings | 13 Comments

Alfish7 forwarded me two photos from his wedding. Thesea re the Windhover boys - these were the guys I grew up with when I moved to Chapel Hill in the 4th grade all the way through high school. I have the honor of calling these guys my oldest friends:

Alfish7 (Allen), Lameo, Apu (Neeraj), Dogdevil44 (AlexF)

I sent these pictures to my mom, and she remarked about how well we all turned out - not one of us turned out "weird" (that would be the horrid English translation of what she said in Korean). We all have very different walks of life, but we've all done quite well in life... awesome! :)

. . .

Canada factoid (I've been neglecting these): The highest free-standing structure in the world used to be the CN Tower (at 1,815 ft) until the Burj Khalifa overtook it.

Posted by roy on January 8, 2010 at 02:02 AM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

Because humiliating myself in front of an anonymous public is what I love to do, I present to you the most awful picture of me ever taken (courtesy of Damien):

Ladies, if you're ever on the other end of that photo, quietly walk away. Don't run or scream, you might scare the subject. Just calmly walk away.

. . .

And in keeping with the tradition of posting Brian's photoshop mockeries of me:

Posted by roy on January 11, 2010 at 03:29 AM in Ramblings, MindTouch | 4 Comments


While the other people on the trip were busy bragging about the awesome weather in Hawaii compared to the east coast, I kept thinking to myself, "Man, it's a tad too humid for me here. I really miss SD weather."


(But seriously, I loved Hawaii. I definitely will think of it as a wonderful place to go for a personal retreat if I ever need one)

Posted by roy on January 11, 2010 at 03:43 AM in Travel, Ramblings, Photography | 5 Comments

Posted by roy on January 13, 2010 at 12:16 AM in Ramblings | 3 Comments

I've been so appalled at the handling of this whole Leno/Conan situation that I'm liquidating my whole GE position at market open tomorrow. The once golden-standard for management doesn't impress me anymore - good-bye!

If I were even more vindictive towards NBC cause of their treatment of Conan, I'd short the hell out of Comcast, too.

. . .

I find myself with a large chunk of my portfolio in cash right now. I haven't been able to find any good stocks lately - the ones I've been tracking are overpriced (I closed out all my positions in the whole CF/AGU/TRA triangle recently). I guess I'm just waiting for a pullback...

Posted by roy on January 13, 2010 at 12:51 AM in Finances | 4 Comments

With MindTouch moving offices in 18 days, I wanted to get some photos of the old place, so I brought my camera into work. I also figured I should get some photos of my coworkers...

Tim in a conference call with a potentially big client...

Pete usually works out of Minnesota, but he's in the office this week!

Damien and Bob work on a professional service project

Max just got back from Europe looking all sophisticated in his new sweater

Corey and Guerric present a project to the rest of the team

Damien and Aaron ... (not much else to say about this photo...)


Damien HATES tomatoes (notice the salad?)

Aaron recently wrote a great post about what it takes to succeed. If you're curious what the "soft" part of my job (the stuff you don't directly see me doing), it's almost all related to what Aaron writes about.

Posted by roy on January 13, 2010 at 11:16 PM in MindTouch | 6 Comments

I am done with presentations now! I gave a 80 slide-ish presentation to the exec team overviewing professional services/engineering on Monday. I followed that up with a 40-slide retailored presentation to the professional services team yesterday outlining their 2010 goals. That was then followed up with a tweaked 40-slide presentation to the engineering/product team today. I have pictures of how thrilled (sarcasm) the engineering team was with my presentation, but I won't post them.

Instead, I will post this photo I took of Guerric at poker night... I find this photo oddly amusing and has to be one of my favs so far:

If you ever have thought the front-end of MT was insanely awesome, you probably have Guerric to thank.

Here's a picture of Corey, our customer support guy extraordinaire:


Posted by roy on January 15, 2010 at 01:20 AM in Ramblings, MindTouch | 2 Comments

I've been reading three books in parallel that I thought I'd drop some quick notes on:

  • Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 - Trying to condense the history of a whole continent as complex as Europe's is never easy, but surprisingly this is a pretty well-written narrative. I'm enjoying the read.
  • The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life - Thought I'd like this a lot more... I guess I'm just not a huge fan of biographies
  • The Product Managers Handbook - Not really a book I'm reading by choice (a necessity for work), but it's surprisingly informative. If you're at all interested in product management (and what it actually is as a career), this book is definitely a good starting point

This song is frickin' hot: (start watching at 1:21, the beginning is superfluous)

Posted by roy on January 15, 2010 at 01:28 AM in Ramblings, Music | 1 Comments

What a wonderful weekend to spend in San Diego! I went sailing with some fellow MindTouch-ers (we went out on a Beneteau 40').

And then we did our annual Christmas tree burning:

I've uploaded a bunch of more pictures on Flickr. (Or follow the quicklink to the slideshow) Aaron also posted his set on Flickr.

Apparently in this photo that Aaron posted, I am trying to do my best impression of a mischievous flirtatious Tyrannosaurus Rex with my short limp arms:

Damn, now I want to go watch Jurassic Park...

Posted by roy on January 17, 2010 at 01:51 AM in Ramblings, MindTouch | Add a comment

I'll get around to a Panasonic GF1 review shortly, but in the interim, I'm selling some of my Canon stuff on eBay:

How much you wanna bet the lens goes for higher than the camera?

Posted by roy on January 17, 2010 at 11:29 PM in Photography | 4 Comments

I think the last month or so caught up to me last night. I was simply wiped today - I had absolutely no energy today. It didn't help it was raining outside, nor that today was "Blue Monday" - the most depressing day of the year. But nonetheless, it was a relatively productive day.

So some random thoughts:

Schools need to readjust their curriculums to teach economics and statistics far earlier to students. I'm surprised I never was required to take a class on how to effectively parse data, nor on how to effectively communicate abstract concepts through data (a problem I'm solving by purchasing this book).

There really is no excuse for not being able to write well. If anything, the growth of the Internet reversed the trend of turning into couch potatoes by engaging a whole generation of people to consume and create hordes of information.

Project management. I'm still surprised there isn't a de-facto standard for project management (Excel for spreadsheets, Powerpoint for presentations, Word for word processing...). I can only speak for a company like MT's, but without effective project management (and with it, the ability to manage cross-functional people), your value diminishes. I have a strong affinity for execution, and I think knowing the basics of project management are critical to success.

I have a few "corporate" pet peeves, but the biggest one is when I hear: "Let's find a creative solution." Besides the fact that this is the slyest backhanded insult ever ("You're not thinking this through"), what I hate about these creative solutions is that they always lead to creative maintenance issues. For example, there was a bit of a fuck-up this past weekend with one of our customers (the problem, was admittedly, ours through a partner - isn't that grand?). When I look at the site, it's a mess of creative solutions ("How can we accept revenue from this project while not dealing with the mess? I know! Let's give it to a partner who hasn't been brough up to speed on our platform!")

To me, creative solutions are generally short-term fixes which always end up biting you in the ass. But that's just my experience - maybe there are creative solutions which aren't such a big PITA.

I was pointed to a great blog post, and two quotes from it resonated with me:

“Early on, I was very command-and-control, very top-down. I felt I was smart, and that my decisions would be better. I was young, and I was willing to work 20 hours a day… The last year I did that, I was away from home 302 nights, not including day trips. I had to fly around all over the place making all the decisions. And I would walk in, make an uninformed decision, get on the next plane, go somewhere else and repeat the process. I look back at that year; I don’t think I got anything done.” – I particularly like Conde's insight that he was making uninformed decisions when he was working in this mode.

So true. I've learned the hard way not to make these uninformed decisions, and to rely on people for the right answers (but sometimes you have to be careful not get caught in the mud of consensus-building - there's a tipping point where you reach a consensus but then spend too much time trying to make everybody happy).

The second important lesson I learned this year, captured in this blog post:

“If you start micromanaging people, then the very best ones leave. If the very best people leave, then the people you’ve got left actually require more micromanagement… Pretty soon, you’re running a police state. So micromanagement doesn’t scale because it spirals down. [T]he trick is to get truly world-class people working directly for you so you don’t have to spend a lot of time managing them. I think there’s very little value I can add to my direct reports. So I try to spend time with people two and three levels below because I think I can add value to them.” – Lovely. His job is to develop people, not meddle or second-guess. And he concentrates his efforts a bit lower down in the organization.

I cannot emphasize how crucial hiring a project manager and trusting the development lead in professional services has been. I've been swamped lately at work which has pulled me away from my old day-to-day activities, but it was so awesome tonight when I was able to review precise meeting notes on the seven (!!!!) professional service projects in the MT pipeline and be brought up to speed. We truly have plenty of rockstars working at MT.

Having that information at my fingertips helps me make better informed decisions about (1) the availability of current developers and (2) expected project completion dates. Without those two, it'd be impossible to do accurate resource allocation on the multitude of projects we're expected to complete in 2010.

Posted by roy on January 19, 2010 at 01:02 AM in Ramblings, MindTouch | Add a comment

From The Product Manager's Handbook in explaining "heavyweight" product managers:

In addition to concept related duties, the responsibilities that come with the job include: coordinating production and sales as well as engineering; coordinating the entire project from concept to market; signing off on specification, cost-target, layout and major component choices; and maintaining direct contact with existing and potential customers. Heavyweight product managers have a broad knowledge of the product and process engineering required to develop an entire vehicle. Years of experience with the companies give their words weight and increase their influence with people over whom they have no formal authority.

And this was describing heavyweight product managers from the automobile industry. It's amazing how much of it applies to software as well - if I were to describe my oversight of product, it'd be exactly the same. Now I wonder why the state of product management in software seems so weak - I've very rarely read good bloggers or blog posts about product management in software - is it the machismo of engineering that overshadows product management?

The purview of product managers is vast - this book seems less interested in defining product management, but simply demonstrating how every company does it differently. There were moments I was reading this when the roles described were ones I had previously ascribed to sales engineers as well as account managers in sales.

Product managers will take the roles to fit into the culture of the company - is it sales driven, is it marketing driven, is it engineering driven? Defining the culture of product management is something I'm keenly interested in - for now, I reject the notion that the standard product manager organization is one that reports to marketing. I'm not completely sold on one that reports to engineering - it seems that putting a critical decision making component of a company under either is a mistake.

Perhaps this is why I've been leaning towards a product/platform split lately - I think deep down inside I want to split product into its own group that has an equal voice. I like the concept of a "healthy tension" - one that has push and pull from all sides (although I'm not a huge fan of overbuilding consensus).

Interesting food for thought as I try to take on more a formal product management role (now that I have that project management stuff out of the way) in anticipation of hiring somebody to do this...

Posted by roy on January 19, 2010 at 01:52 AM in Ramblings, MindTouch | 2 Comments

One more post for tonight on a blog post entitled: "Social intranet products: am I missing something?" In the post, the author muses about the whizz-bang coolness of the new social intranet products, but has some fundamental questions about how to answer questions like: "Where do I find HR information, such as the leave policy?" or "What about the leave form?" He asks: "Am I missing anything?"

No, he's definitely not missing anything. This post touches on a core belief that I've held about product for a long, long time. I see it reinforced time and time again.

The social tools he's been testing out (the Jives and ThoughtFarmers of the world) are doing a wonderful job of following the feature-checklist development model. The conversation goes something like this:

(Enter a breathless guy coming back from some conference) "OMG _____ is the future. We gotta build it NOW!"

Every year, it's something new. I remember there was a time when OpenID was hot. Then social networking. Then microblogging. The list'll go on and on. And a very lazy way of building product is by building these features and just attaching them with crazy glue into your product until you create a mammoth of a product. (I believe this might be called Lotus Notes)

Now, Web 2.0 was great because it put a fresh coat of user experience on it. Voila! Pretty!

But this does not solve the core problem. Each company has a unique culture, and trying to find software that your culture can fit into is a losing battle. I'm of the belief that software should do its simple tasks well and adapt to the user (or enterprise). Whether MT wins in this space or not, I believe the world-class social intranet product of the future is one that (1) is a platform that can be adapted to any business need (2) provides a consistent UI guideline for applications as they are fleshed out on top of this platform (think iPhone apps) and (3) can connect the stories of these applications in a digestable format for users to be empowered to execute on their goals (think Facebook activity stream, but with real business data and reporting).

This is why I so strongly believe in what we do at MT - it's not about creating a checklist of features which appeals to the lowest common denominator - we build a platform that can then be adapted to answer specific business problems. This is something that the other players in the space cannot do - they are all point applications, and will be as such. MT is a platform that evolves with you as your company evolves as well.

Now, the development cost is not cheap. It's not as pretty out of the box (a ding I've been repeatedly reminded of). It's more akin to the painful Sharepoint methodology of development, but because we are open source, we believe in simple open standards, and because we're committed to providing a platform that will allow you to build rapidly, we are quicker to deploy than a Sharepoint.

. . .

Two years ago (or so), I absolutely poo-pooed social networking features inside MT. Long-time readers know my stance on social networking: social networks are not an end, they're a means to an end. I saw too many people asking for features like "user profiles" without understanding how they would be integrated into the experience. When I hear a feature request, I try to filter it through the lens of: "What problem are they really trying to solve? What is their pain point?"

Too many times in professional services, I see clients trying to make a suggestion about implementation (because they're trying to "talk my language") which is completely off. I have to take the discussion up to a higher level about the use cases, then describe a separate solution.

One example of this (for which I've not been validated, so feel free to flame me years from now at my idiocy) is the constant story of "forums integration." Now, I'll go out on a limb and say that MT does not need to build out forum functionality (that's a no-brainer). I'll take one step further and say that it's not necessary to even integrate with forums (even if I wanted to, the existing market of forum software is incredibly pathetic given its maturity). What I hear people saying is: "I want to have more structured discussion about topics inside my intranet."

Unfortunately people have only been exposed to forums, so that's exactly how they'll frame their thinking. Is MT's answer, interactive comments, the right move? My gut feeling would be that this would solve 80% of the potential customers who want forum integration. My biggest complaint is that people think in terms of features instead of problems, and this is exactly why the MP3 market languished until Apple took it over with the iPod. Same with the iPhone.

(This also explains my reluctant to do the often-requested "Vote for features" for the MT community to "drive" the product roadmap - I feel it's less of "driving" and more of a "drag kicking and screaming")

Back to user profiles. Jump ahead to 2010, and we have an interesting professional service deal come in for "user profiles." A few years ago, I would have scoffed and rejected it, except now it fulfills a very specific bigger need that I've been struggling with: "How do I create a single springboard inside MT to capture user-driven activity?"

At this point, social user profiles are less about navel-gazing and finding friends, but a way to provide context for the business activities occuring within their MT ecosystem. And to me, that is a much stronger value proposition than developing a feature that lets me list my political affiliation or my favorite songs.

So back to the point of this original post, which was to answer the "Am I missing something?"

No, you are not. The social intranet players right now are creating a huge repository of features to appeal to as many intranet purchasers as possible. Now, I'm pretty confident in saying you could spend lifetimes trying to do this, but it just won't work. You'll end up with a giant kludge of an application that will appeal to absolutely nobody. Let's focus on solving specific problems - poor developers and IT guys are rolling their own tools to work around the shortcoming of these social intranet vendors.

(Jeez I wrote a lot today. Quantity over quality, baby! There's a good chance I'll take most of these posts offline tomorrow when I realize the Robitussin-induced posts have tons of faulty arguments. But until then, Gute Nacht.)

Posted by roy on January 19, 2010 at 02:17 AM in Ramblings, MindTouch | 1 Comments

Thanks to whoever has been clicking my Amazon referral links and buying stuff on Amazon. It doesn't cost you anything, but it kicks me back some cash, which I can promptly put in my "Buy a Russian Bride" fund.

Hah, just kidding. No, really, it's people like you who make pictures like these possible:

Posted by roy on January 19, 2010 at 02:45 AM in Ramblings | 3 Comments

I had a sore throat Sunday night - I had marked it up to irritation from second hand cigarette smoke from Barona's on Friday... and then it got progressively worse on Monday.

On Tuesday, being the arrogant young male that I am, I pridefully boasted that I was going to defeat this bug with "alternative Western medicine": Coca-Cola, potato chips, Papa Johns pizza, and Robitussin.

Wednesday comes around ... and FAIL. What was just a tickle in my throat has become a full-blown cold. Now, with the Vegas trip with some coworkers coming up this weekend, I decided to play it safe by switching to more conventional "medicine" that I picked up from CVS:

(Everybody knows Mrs. Field's cookies are the perfect medicine!)

As I was checking out, the cashier at CVS (an older gentleman with a thick foreign accent) goes: "Oh no no no... that's not how you cure a cold! I always do hot tea and Brawny."

Wait, what? Brawny? That really creepy lumberjack guy's smile flashed in my mind. I kind of looked at him quizzically. He seemed to understand that the accent was a barrier to explaining to me the genius of his idea. He took the back of the receipt and wrote down his secret recipe for curing all colds:

Brandy! Apparently if I take this concoction, I will "sweat out the illness." Right on, brother.

Fortunately, I have exactly one of those ingredients at my place (yes, the alcohol).

If this cold doesn't get better tomorrow, I will resort to the brandy treatment and see what happens.

Posted by roy on January 20, 2010 at 11:50 PM in Ramblings | 8 Comments

What is it about guitar solos that is so mesmerizing? If I could listen to music while scuba diving, I'd definitely take this track out there with me.

Posted by roy on January 21, 2010 at 01:33 AM in Music | Add a comment

Under normal circumstances, I would cancel this Vegas trip since I'm kind of sick. Unfortunately, I booked a flight and hotel. Great job, past Roy!

Now I'm FORCED to go...


Posted by roy on January 22, 2010 at 06:46 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

On our Vegas trip, Damien, Guerric and myself decided to enroll in a live poker tournament. I've played in a couple before, so this wasn't a completely new experience for me, but it had been a couple of years since I played in anything live.

We ended up enrolling in the 7pm daily $50 tournament at Treasure Island - they had a rebuy option if you busted in the first hour (if there were seats available). The tournament had 30 people and had very reasonable blind structures ($3,500 with 25/50 blinds at 20 minute levels - never in the whole tournament did it feel like an all-in fest, as I've experienced in other tournaments).

I decided to focus like hell on this tournament and really make a stand with my chips. I spent the hour before the tournament just chilling in my room and clearing my mind from all the blackjack strategies (it's amazing how you start seeing poker hands in blackjack and vice versa).

I was able to pick out in the first level who the fishes were, and boy were there tons of the at my table. There was one pretty good player (but he was burdened with information overload and overfolded hands), two dangerous players who knew how to play and were willing to push their chips in.

I decided my strategy would be to play tight-and-aggressive (TAG) and bluff pots against the smart players. And I managed to execute that strategy pretty well. I won't bore you with the pot details, but at the end of buy-in period (blinds ended at $100/$200), I had managed to build up my lead to $8,000 in chips with only exposing a single hand (had to make them believe I wasn't a bluffer!). The rest I picked up on positional bets with weakness, or against fishes who didn't hit their flops. It was beautiful. The two dangerous players I had avoided busted against reaching fishies, so I was ecstatic. The table was prime feeding grounds.

I was in the zone.

Now, you'll know that one of the things I take pride in when I play poker is the quality of our weekly poker games. At Carolina, it was an incredible source of pride that our weekly poker games netted such strong showings in campus-wide tournaments. Anybody who played in our weekly games could go out and run the tables at almost any home game. I recall a particular incident when I went to Duke and was so utterly disappointed in the quality of play I bled chips back to them (I had taken huge pots off of them on some really basic stupid hands).

I'm proud to say that Guerric, Damien and I all survived to the final table (although G did rebuy...). At the final table, blinds started pretty much at $400/$800, and I had about $17,000 in chips (the whole game, I was fortunate in being able to protect a 20xBB stack).

Unfortunately, the two "big stacks" at the table were seated to my immediate left. I couldn't get a read on the guy to my immediate left (he had about 25,000 in chips), but he struck me as a guy who got lucky. Now, the HUGE chip leader was an English gentleman - he had, by my guesstimate, about 40% of the chips in the play - he was seated two to the left of me.

Nobody else at the table concerned me - either they were weak players with decent stacks, or better players with weak stacks. The only person who was capable of putting the hurt on me was the English gentleman.

With about 8 players left, the blinds were at $500/$1000. Although I had only played one hand at the final table, I felt good - I was getting a good read on most the players there.

So here's the story of the hand I busted (it doesn't involve bad beats or anything, so it's rather pedestrian).

I was the button, and two players in the middle had limped in with $1,000. I woke up to JJ in the button against the two large stacks in the blinds.

With $3,500 in the pot as dead money, I knew this was an awesome time to make a move. I made a raise up to $4,000 (1/4 of my stack). The bet was enough that the two small stacks that had called (one of them being Damien) would have to commit more than half their stacks. The bigger of the short stacks only had about $7,500 in chips - I was willing to risk half my stack on a race.

My one hope as I bet this pot was that neither of the blinds would pop it.

But of course, the English gentleman did. Playing the big stack perfectly, he popped it. The two middle players folded, and I was stuck with a decision.

Now, anybody from my old poker days knows I hate races. I have folded races when the blind structures allow it - I don't like risking my whole tournament on a 55% winner (to me, it's the equivalent of going to Vegas and dumping your whole stash on black when you get there as opposed to grinding it out in blackjack).

I had to do the math.

I had about 17,500 in chips with a pot with 4000 committed (leaving me with 12,500). If I folded, this would leave me with 12xBB which would be healthy enough to survive, but I'd have to attack some short stacks with position - but I hated the fact that the blinds would still be sitting behind me, able to pop it. Now, even at 12,000, I would still be about 4th or 5th in chips. With payouts beginning in 4th, I could easily try to just money it. (This is the "Surviving Sally" technique that Damien has perfected).

But you know me - I wanted to win the whole thing.

By my calculations, this pot was roughly 40,000 - with about 115,000 of chips in play, this would give me a commandling lead and I knew that once I had outchipped the two guys behind me, I could play big stack against them.

I felt as good as any that winning this hand would secure me into the two top of the tournament.

So I took the coin flip. I had pegged the English gentleman with AK but was hoping that he had tried it with an AJ suited... he flipped a AQ.

And a queen popped the board with no help.

Alas. All that hard work and focus, to lose on a coin race. 

I'll be honest - I was a bit steamed and exhausted after that tournament (it wasn't a long one) and had to walk it off. Oh well. I can only imagine what Terrence felt at the WSOP.

Damien managed to place fourth, and Guerric and I managed to make some money while blowing off steam at the blackjack tables (we had great fun doing it, too!).

Posted by roy on January 24, 2010 at 11:00 PM in Travel, Poker | 3 Comments

Let's buckle down and power through.

Posted by roy on January 27, 2010 at 02:41 AM in Personal, MindTouch | 4 Comments

Chad Ochocinco is my new favorite football player (I'm not even joking):

Posted by roy on January 29, 2010 at 01:22 AM in Sports | 3 Comments

This is the funniest interview ever. Hedo is my new favorite basketball player:

Posted by roy on January 30, 2010 at 12:10 AM in Sports | 2 Comments

The Gawker commentary around a NY Times profile around 'literary manboys' seems to describe me quite well. Glad to know that I'm not the only one like this.

And an enlightening comment that seems to fit me pretty well:

I know men(boys) like this, albeit much younger. I would argue that the woman from Saipan was not "the one who got away," but one in a string of examples of women who are, for whatever reason, unavailable or otherwise not dateable.

People like this are really into self-sabotage. And they will never change. No matter how much you might delude yourself into thinking otherwise over the course of two years.

Posted by roy on January 31, 2010 at 04:45 PM in Personal | Add a comment
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