Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

A new life goal

One of my hobbies, something that I do regularly, is take various friends out for coffee.  I rotate through a group of six or so and either do breakfast (for the ones at work) or evening coffee or breakfast coffee.  It’s a tradition I started in 2009 and have carried into this year.  I have to be deliberate about it otherwise it won’t happen.  These 1-on-1 times are occasions when I will reveal stuff about myself that I will not share in a group setting.  I know that some people feel comfortable sharing more intimate details about themselves in group contexts, but not me.  I prefer to pick and choose to whom I reveal stuff to, that is, not all at once but instead in a 1-on-1 setting.  That’s just the way I am.

The thing is that one of my friends is someone I have gone out to lunch with but he has never seen me drink coffee in 2 and a half years.  I actually don’t like coffee.  When I go to a coffee place I have to get one that’s loaded down with sugar otherwise I can’t drink it.  That’s why I don’t drink coffee, because the amount of sugar I need to consume it is something I do not drink a lot of (I rarely consume abundances of sugar and have been like this for 2005).  So he challenged me that he’s one day going to catch me drinking it.  I accepted that challenge.  He will never see me drink a cup of coffee in his presence.  But in order to do this challenge, there had to be ground rules:

  1. Seeing me drink coffee counts as two consecutive swigs.  It can’t be a sip, it’s got to be a swig.
  2. Pictures do not count.  He either has to see me do it live or via streaming web cam.
  3. Every year that he does not see me drink coffee earns me a “swig credit.”  Five swig credits earns me the right to drink one cup of coffee in his presence and it doesn’t count against me.
  4. Coffee loaded down with sugar, like a caramel macchiato or cinnamon dolce latte, counts.
  5. If I lose the bet, I have to buy him a cup of coffee.  If I win, he has to buy me one.

I’m looking forward to this challenge.

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Olympic hockey

A couple of weeks ago, I posted that I was gearing up for watching hockey in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.  I must confess that I haven’t been following the Olympics that closely.  Every day I do go to Yahoo.ca and check the medal count.  But in all honesty, I haven’t been tracking them that closely.  I figure why bother following the sports if I will never be able to compete anyhow?  That’s not the real reason, the real reason is that I have been too lazy to keep track and I have kept myself busy with other activities.

Except for hockey.

I have tracked the men’s hockey pretty closely.  I watched the Canada/Switzerland game last Thursday where Canada beat them 3-2 in a shoot out.  That was a great game to watch, I got really into it and cheered out loud, involuntarily, when Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal against the Swiss netminder, whoever he was.

I missed the Canada/US game (which Canada lost 5-3) and the Germany game (which Canada won 8-2).  However, I did catch the last half of the Canada/Russia game (which Canada won 7-3).  One thing is for sure, I will not be missing the Canada/US gold medal game in a couple of days.  I absolutely plan to watch that and sink into a deep depression and not go into work for 10 days if Canada loses.  It will be a sad, sad time if that actually occurs.  We might even call it our own Pearl Harbor Day.

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When I lived in Canada, I didn’t hear much about Michael Phelps.  Now that I’m down here in the United States, I’m hearing a lot about him.  This guy is a machine, he is the Tiger Woods of swimming.  Except more dominant.

Phelps is an American swimmer.  This guy won 6 gold medals at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and 2 (shameful) Bronze.  So far in China, he has won 5 gold medals in the five events he has competed in, and still has 3 to go.  So he could do a full sweep and take 8 gold medals.  That would be absolutely incredible.

The United States sure has a history of producing champions, I tell you what.

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So, winter is nearing and it’s that time of year again – sponge hockey season!

At the end of last year, my team captain basically told me to shape up or ship out.  Either I do some off-season training or he would kick me off the team.  I thought that was a little unfair since all that is required to get on the team is my check has to clear.

Since September, I’ve been heading to the gym three times a week and I believe that I have gotten into pretty good shape.  I was ready, for the first time, heading into spongee season.  Yet, I show up for the first day of practice and my manager informs me that I have been kicked off the team!  Can you believe that?  He told me he was banning me – me, and my children, and my children’s children… for three months.

Apparently I wasn’t committed enough to the team to show up to the games this year and my contract was null and void.  What a mean guy.

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Poker strategy

As I mentioned in my previous post, at my first attempt at playing No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em in Las Vegas, I managed to double my money.  It was only my fourth time playing poker for money in my life, and the third time I had won money.  I never thought it possible but I think I might have an aptitude for the game.

I picked up a poker magazine in the casino and started browsing through the articles and reading some interviews with the pros.  The one comment that really stuck with me was that in most games, you’ll make most of your money profiting from other people’s mistakes than through skills of your own.  During that game, I would agree.

I think I only won 4 hands out of 40 (at most one or two more that I can’t recall), but the times I won, I won really big.  Three times, I won it with a straight (five cards in sequence of odd suits).  The next time I put a guy out when he went all in and I won with a high card.

My strategy was to play only strong hands and go in big when I was sure I would win (as I did with three of my hands).  But even more so, I tried to avoid making big mistakes.  I never played weak hands and bailed out early when I knew I was outplayed.  I figured out quickly that most players weren’t bluffing when they bet big.

That’s where my strategy differed.  Whenever others had a strong hand, they went all in (ie, they bet all their chips).  I never did; most people correctly deduced that when somebody went all in it meant they had very strong hands.  This meant that the person betting against them would cut their losses and back out of the hand.  The better won the hand but their winnings were smaller.  When I had a strong hand, I would bet a bunch of larger chips but never went all in and this way managed to convince a lot of others to commit more of their hands than they otherwise might have.  I didn’t bet the whole hand, I bet enough such that they thought they might beat me and stay in the hand.  This resulted in a bigger pot than scaring them off.

I think that I experienced some success in poker the first night not because I am good with cards but because I have stock trading experience.  I cut my losses quickly (ie, bailed when I knew I had nothing) and maximized my gains (ie, by staying in hands when I had strength).

Jim Cramer is right – watch TV, get rich.  In this case, I won by learning from the guys on TV who play poker.  My success didn’t last, of course, but I think that means I need to stick to No Limit Hold ‘Em, there’s more opportunity for others to make mistakes.

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For the third year in a row (excluding the lockout season) the NHL playoffs are returning to Canada.  First it was the Calgary Flames, who took Tampa Bay to seven games, then it was the Edmonton Oilers who took the Carolina Hurricanes to seven games.  Now, we get the Ottawa Senators.

The last time a Canadian-based team won the Stanley Cup was in 1993 when the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Los Angeles Kings in 5 games.  The Vancouver Canucks lost to the New York Rangers in seven games the following year.  Then we had a long Canada-drought until Calgary made the finals.

The main difference in this year’s finals (we don’t know yet who Ottawa is playing) as opposed to the previous two is that Ottawa’s team finished much higher in the standings than either Edmonton or Calgary.  Both of those two teams finished 8th place in their conferences.  Ottawa finished 4th and they have defeated each of their opposing squads by 4-1 margins.  I have watched some of the playoff games and I have been suitably impressed; the team looks good.

So, will the Stanley Cup return to Canada?  I really can’t say but I think Ottawa represents a really good chance.  Go Senators, that’s what I say.

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Yesterday evening, my first sponge hockey team lost its 4th game in a row. And, for the fifth game in a row (or something) I didn’t manage to score even though I had a great chance. At one point in the third period, I was alone in front of the net, the goalie was down, and I put it 1 inch wide to the right. I wanted to go about halfway up the right-side of the net to avoid the goaltender but missing the net was not in the plan.

Combined with my other team, my scoring drought is turning into a very long one. In the preseason, I was actually scoring plenty. Now, I’m getting lots of chances and not capitalizing (whereas in the preseason I was getting few chances but capitalizing on all of them). On the plus side, I’m getting lots of chances to practice my breakaways. I figure I have more breakaways than anyone else on the team. Now if I could only figure out a way to score on them.

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