Wednesday, January 27, 2010

SuperBowl Party

If you know me, then you probably know TheMark. He's the G-Vegas version of Tony Soprano. He gets things done and he knows how to throw a party.

On SuperBowl Sunday - February 7th for those of you unaware - he's hosting a massive party at the local Azia restaurant.

The cost is $50 but it includes tons of food and drink. If you're interested, contact me and I'll get you TheMark's contact information so you can buy a ticket, cash advance payment please.

I'll be there, but don't let that dissuade you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Doubt and Data

Generally speaking, human beings lie, and data doesn't. Visual evidence, statistical evidence, it was all there. Anyone who thought Mark McGwire did not take performance enhancing drugs was just ignoring the data. Baseball is a very statistically driven game. In no other sport do you get thousands of samples per player (i.e. pitches, which lead to at bats). When you get enough samples, you can make very good statistical predictions on players. A player with a lifetime batting average of .310 will probably hit somewhere between .290 and .320 the next year. More samples, less variance, it's pretty basic.

So when a player undergoes a dramatic shift in his performance based on previous history, something is usually amiss. Injuries cause players to perform worse and those scenarios are very explainable and occur quite frequently. But when a player makes a dramatic shift in the other direction without much to explain it, America's eyebrows become raised with doubt.

McGwire admits in his confession that much of the reason he took steroids was to avoid injury and stay healthy longer. This could very well be true. Baseball certainly isn't football or hockey or any other contact sport, but its regular season lasts 6 months and 162 games. It's not difficult to see how it can become a grind both mentally and physically for a player; and without the aid of performance enhancers, it would be very reasonable to expect minor dings to add up over the course of a season.

Take a look at this page:

With the exception of Roger Maris in 1961, no player who hit more than 30 home runs by the All Star break hit more than 20 in the second half of the year.

Until 1996.

Then look at the list. Beginning with Brady Anderson (a guy who hit 50 home runs that year and never more than 24 in any other season in his career), there were 12 instances of a player who hit more than 20 in the second half of the year. Most telling are the 30+ home runs hit in the second half of a season by Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds.

That's data. And I'm sorry, but when you couple that data with each players' changes in physical appearance over the years, performance enhancing drug use just screams out at you. It's my contention that one of the reasons steroids changed the game is that players are more able to maintain their peak performance throughout the year than they would without them. Never mind the additional distance and power the hitters were able to achieve, just look at how they maintained their health for the entirety of the season.

Here is some more minor data to support that, in this case, Alex Rodriquez:

From 1996 when he was 20 years old to 2000 when he was 24, he had only 1 season where he played in 160+ games. Beginning in 2001, when he was 25, in 5 of the next 6 years he played in at least 161 games. Not coincidentally, in 2001, he hit over 50 home runs for the first time. By his own admission, those were the years he began using steroids. Play longer at your peak and inflate your numbers. Don't you think you'd be more likely to play a full season when you're 20 or 21 than when you're 29?

The bottom line is that baseball statistics are nearly sacred to American sports fans. If I say 61 or .406, you know exactly what those numbers mean, and who achieved them. So when something taints those numbers and their meaning, it taints the entire sport and its legacy. It's a shame really. Let me ask you this question: if you were offered a guaranteed contract for $114 millions dollars in exchange for taking steroids and negatively impacting your health seven years later, would you do it? Jason Giambi did.

But I'll close out with a little bit of, OK maybe a lot of, cynicism. It's not just baseball folks. It's just about every sport there is if there's enough money involved. Golf might be an exception. It's simply not possible to compete in professional sports without them. If someone's doing it, they're skewing the average and I just don't think that there are any natural athletes able to compete with those who do. So the pressure will always be there to do it. Look for athletes that respond with "I never failed a drug test" as their response. Big deal. Do I suspect Lance Armstrong used them? Yes, I do, but only because of the statistical improbability that he was such an outlier in a sport of probable users for such a long time. Do I suspect Brock Lesnar used them? Yes, I do, but only because of the environment he was in with the WWE and the physique he had back then. It's just not physically possible to carry that much muscle mass and so little body fat with out drugs. Sure, you could be the one in one billion genetic freak that does, but I'm not buying it. He was with the WWE, an organization forever associated with steroid and other drug use. Is Brock clean now, ever since he began his MMA career? He could very well be, and I wouldn't necessarily doubt it. But he's softer now, his physique is more in line with that of a natural athlete than a professional bodybuilder.

I'm just at the point where it's getting tougher to be a fan of any sport, because I'm simply so suspicious about anyone's ability to perform so well for so long. Do I hope the truly outstanding athletes like BJ Penn and George St. Pierre are drug-free? Absolutely. Would I be surprised if they weren't? Sadly, I wouldn't.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Proposition Wager

This should be good.....

We have a prop bet that is just now going public. Feel free to find a betting parter and make your own wagers.

Who is "we" you ask?

It's me and G-Rob.

Here's the bet and the background.

On July 10th, 2010, G-Rob will have a weigh in and must have lost at least 75 lbs. from his 334 lb. starting weight. He must get down to 259 lbs. by that date or pay me $300.

My end of the deal is as follows: On July 11th, 2010, in Gaffney, South Carolina, I will run a 10k road race in 52:30 or less. That's effectively 6.21 miles at an 8:27 pace. I have never run more than 5 miles at once in my life.

If we both succeed or both fail, the bet is a push. For the payoff to occur, one must succeed and the other must fail.

Of course, he's already sending me texts and calling me to quit now and just ship it because he can't looooose. He ha' full house!. Not.

I started my program yesterday, and with the help of a secret weapon, plan on destroying him, his lack of self-discipline, and his penchant to give up after 2 months. I told him to stop texting me until he hits the 275 lb. mark and cries that he can't lose any more.

As I just told him, I'll be having steak for dinner, with a full tasty glass of.....

here it comes....


Mmmmmm...can you taste it? I can.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Year's Day Tourney Pic Dump

With apologies to Pauly and the term "pic dump," here are a few taken after I was unceremoniously eliminated.

MrsBlood trying to get a read on the uni-GRob-bomber.

Brian the Red - a Charlotte regular.

TheMark - with my chips. Bastard! The Gooch looks on in the foreground.

Jim the Knife massaging his chip stack.

Another side view of TheMark, smiling, with BadBlood's chips.

Alan Shaw and new guy John Teer.

The always jovial Falstaff, a staple at the BadBlood poker table.

Losers Lounge - Wolverine and Frank the Tank

The Rankster (left) and The Rocket (center), guys from the old Thursday night game.

Good ole Shep, Falstaff and Alan Shaw.

Special K knee deep in the action.

Your eventual winner acting camera shy. It's not like he's on TV or anything.

Random101, Tressa, and Jim the Knife.

Special K looking mean.

The Gooch, MrsTheMark, and Papa Skoon from front to back.

Danny smiling, even though he's just been eliminated with....

KK vs. AA.....

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Count me always.

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker! is the home of Free Online Poker Games, bloggers can play for free in the exclusive WBCOOP tournament, register here to play: WBCOOP

Registration code: 361182

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

6th Annual New Year's Day Tournament

It started back in 2005. I'd met a couple of local poker players via the Intarweb; and in an attempt to foster a local home game community, decided to host a poker tournament on New Year's Day. We had a small 14-person turn out that year and some small stakes cash games followed. The next year, I figured I'd do it again. And somehow, along the way, it became a bit of a tradition. This year was no exception, 24 players showed up to play in the 6th Annual BadBlood's New Year's Day Event.

Of the previous champions, four of the five were in attendance to try to become the first repeat champion, none so much so as last year's holder of the luckbox, G-Rob. Only TeamScottSmith was missing from the lineup of former winners. As people arrived for the 2pm start to eat and drink, I was anticipating only one thing. Not winning.

While my NLHE tournament game has never been really sharp, I'd spent the last year playing almost exclusively cash games - NLHE live, and PLO online. Occasionally, maybe a dozen times, I'd play a PLO tournament on Full Tilt, but any skills I may have had in NLHE tournaments has languished in mental atrophy. Sound like an excuse? That's because it probably is.

I lost half my stack within the first 30 minute level to a turned set and a turned nut straight with a straight flush redraw against Gucci Rick. My expectations were being met. Somehow, I survived into level 4 with about 3k left of my 5k starting stack. Frank the Tank and former champion Wolverine had already met their fate and were relegated to the loser's couch to watch college football.

My fate would soon be the same as I lost a race with AK to TheMark's QQ all-in preflop. I had TheMark barely covered, but thanks to doubling him up, he'd make a run at another cash. I was forced all in on my next big blind and lost to the nut flush of Brian the Red, out in 22nd. Not a very good showing. I wandered around the house a bit and snapped some pictures to commemorate the event and continue to run the tournament. The cash games wouldn't be starting for a while it seemed.

Slowly, but surely (if you followed my Twitter feed that day), a certain name kept coming up in conversation as acquiring chips in the most varied of ways: G-Rob. He was pushing around his table and getting there when behind and holding up when ahead. The most egregious of hands that I heard was when he called the Ranksters all-in preflop bet with 7,5 suited. The Rankster had pocket Queens but was quickly behind on the 77x flop. He never improved. The last I saw of the Rankster was him shaking his head and walking to the kitchen, flumoxed at yet another G-Rob confrontation.

The tournament was paying the top 5, and the bubble seemed to last quite a bit longer than normal, with 3 out of the final 6 all related. TheMark, his brother GucciRick and his wife MrsTheMark all were left alive. Unfortunately for TheMark, he bubbled the tournament, and left to go host his regular Friday night game.

Gucci Rick bowed out in 5th to MrsTheMark, his pocket Tens no good against her Jacks. Brian the Red was next out in 4th and SteveJax, brother of TripJax, was the next victim of a G-Rob attack. SteveJax's AQ lost to G-Rob's AT with a ten on the river. It was heads up for the title and G-Rob was relishing the assignment of the #defendingchamp Twitter hash tag.

We had since started a $1/$1 $100-max cash game and some players were waiting for a 2nd game to start. I walked into the heads up match and informed G-Rob and MrsTheMark what the prize pool would be if they were to chop. Coupled with splitting the last longer bet, the dollar figure was sufficient for G-Rob to relinquish his chip advantage and take the even money split with the last hand determining the official champion.

G-Rob had A4o, MrsTheMark had J2o. A two hit the river. But of course it gave G-Rob the wheel, the title, and the right to say he's the only two-time winner of the BadBlood New Year's Day tournament. Then he made perhaps his smartest poker decision of the day. He opted out of the cash game and went home, guaranteeing a start to 2010 firmly in the black.

Here are the final results, congratulations to everyone who cashed:

1. G-Rob
2. MrsTheMark
3. SteveJax
4. Brian the Red
5. Gucci Rick
6. TheMark
7. Rocket
8. Tressa
9. NewGuyJohnT
10. Jim the Knife
11. Alan Shaw
12. TripJax
13. Rankster
14. Shep
15. Skoon
16. Falstaff
17. SpecialK
18. MrsBlood
19. DannyVanA
20. Random101
21. Stan the Man
22. BadBlood
23. Wolverine
24. Frank the Tank