April 2004 Archives

on being a poker fanatic

I caught the tail end of the first run of the 2003 World Series of Poker on ESPN, when Chris Moneymaker won 2.5M in a spirited battle with the word's best poker players. He was an amateur, an online poker player, someone who won a tournament to qualify for the WSOP.

The story was so compelling, the games so interesting, the players so unique, I couldn't help myself. I was hooked.

At some point along the way, I learned the rules, and I was off and running. I play the game plenty, too, but I don't play for money. If I ever do, it'll be for pocket change. In that spirit, here are my rules for playing poker without losing your shirt.

1. Never play for cash online.
Let me simply put it this way: if you think you might become an alcoholic, you don't order up an unlimited supply of beer. Internet gambling is essentially the same thing. You can wager money, from $0.02 a bet to thousands, any time of day. You can play the tables 24/7. As for me and my house, I'm not even willing to dip my little toe in that pool.

2. When you have friends over, play for low stakes.
Even better, play a tournament. Whatever you play, make it a $5 limit. If you'll allow me to use the same analogy I used for rule #1, this is more like social drinking. Safer, and still a lot of fun.

3. If you ever play in a casino of any kind, play a tournament.
There are plenty of inexpensive tournaments, and the competition is fierce. It's good poker, and though you probably won't win a lot to begin with (you may never win, really) you'll learn a lot and you won't lose any more than the cost of the tournament.

These rules certainly don't apply to everyone out there. Especially not professional poker players, for whom online gambling is a major boon. (Work from home! Make your own hours! So much dead money, you don't know what to do with yourself!) But they apply to me, and I intend to keep them as best I can.

In the meantime, if you feel like a little poker, I'm always game!


We flew jetBlue for the first time on this trip to and from LA. Actually, to and from Long Beach, but it's all pretty much the same.

I'll tell you, they've got two really big things going for them.

First, DirectTV in every seat. It's funny how that doesn't seem that great, especially if you're not a big TV person, but I'll tell you what, it's genius that my wife can watch an AKC dog show while I'm browsing around the Discovery Channel's coverage of the gulf war.

Second, the flight is direct, from Fort Lauderdale. NOTHING saves time when you're flying like no layovers.

I wouldn't say everything is absolutely perfect about jetBlue. I understand the economics of not feeding your passengers. I see how it helps small airlines survive. But that doesn't mean I have to like it. A five-hour flight is bound to run into a meal of some kind, and five hours is a long time to go without eating. Solution: pack your own meal. You'd think that someone like me--someone who loves camping--would be into the packing a meal thing.

Listen, waking up with the sun shining through the walls of your tent, crawling out to check out the gorgeous view from the top of a ridge, and preparing a meal over an open fire. These things all go together.

Packing meals for two into already-overstuffed carry-on luggage is another deal altogether.


Anyway, that all said, we had an excellent trip to the LA area. It was refreshing to see Doug and Erika, and equally wonderful to visit Amy's grandmother, aunt, uncle, and cousins.

From East to West

We're on the way to LA tomorrow early in the morning. It's a direct flight (thank God for jetBlue) and even though we'll be leaving the house at 5am, it's worth the trouble. We'll be in LA in time for brunch.

We're going to spend the first several days with Grannie Varo and Amy's Aunt and Uncle. It will be the first time Amy has seen Gran in months, and I think it will be good for both of them.

We'll spend the last several days with my brother and sister-in-law, which sould be just as good, but for different reasons.

Man, I can't wait to get West.

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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