Jan. 19th, 2008

peterbirks: (Default)
That really ought to be the name of a movie.

Saturday nights suck for me, unless I have something arranged. The poker is awful. Interestingly, John Fox observed that Saturday evening was the worst time to play in Gardena, and that was more than 30 years ago. DY said that the Vic offered few prospects before 11pm on a Saturday night. Clearly all of the "social" players have better things to do.

And, as a non-drinker, I don't. The restaurants are crowded and, while you can get away with eating alone in a restaurant during the week without being sat next to the kitchens, you have no chance of doing so on a Saturday night. Indeed, going out alone on a Saturday night is not a good idea, full stop, unless anyone has any bright ideas that I haven't thought of. I suppose that I could try the Vic, even though I know that the games will be bad. And liquidity isn't what it was, what with laying out about £25K as part of the purchase of the flat downstairs.

It's part of my very short weekend, and yet it's the one part of it where I often feel vaguely at a loss. Read a book, I guess. I just knocked off 45 minutes on No_IQ and it was torture. Not a mug in sight on any table.

I have to use Party Poker to get my dollar cheques, so when their crap reload offer comes up every month (and I swear that it's actually getting worse) I take it, solely as a means of getting money from Neteller to Party to me in dollar form without Party moaning about the deposit/withdrawal route.

Unfortunately, after a year of running well, I appear to be on a thousand-dollar downswing there. One of the points about putting money in and then taking it out via cheque is that it's not a good idea to lose it in the interim. I don't think that the players there are that good, although there's definitely a difference in style from the IP Network. And I suspect that it's this that has caught me out at least twice. As Andy Ward points out in Secrets of the Amateurs, you need to keep stock of trends, and most of my play now is on the IP Network. Party requires some adjustments. If you run badly as well, it can make life difficult.

I've got round the potential problem of big all-in raises on the turn from opponents (thus "setting me a question") by either betting enough to make it clear to opponent that I am committed or by going into check-call mode. Sometimes the bet decision is significantly more than the pot and is equal to as much as half my stack. It makes the reward to risk ratio look fairly shitty, but it does avoid the threat of the all-in reraise from opponent with air. If opponent all-in reraises anyway and he's got stats like 12/8, I guess I'd walk away. If he was 43/22, I'd have to call. But I would have called the all-in reraise anyway from that guy if I had put in a pot-size bet.


I watched "Saving Ed Mitchell" on ITV last night. Ed Mitchell is the one-time ITV news correspondent/newsreader who, because of his drinking, ended up sleeping on a bench near Brighton beach. I found it desperately sad, but not for the reasons that most viewers probably found it so. The programmme ended on a note of hope. He had been put into The Priory and, said the postscript, had gone three weeks without a drink. But I make this guy 1-to-100 to be drinking again within a year, and 1-to-50 to be dead within 18 months of that. You can normally tell which people are going to succeed in giving up booze, and the desperately sad thing about this was that I could see that Ed was not one of them.

Obviously I can only speak about personal drivers here, but my experience of people who have given up addictions is that few of them have done it for themselves alone. Their self-esteem is so fucked (and probably was so before their addictions developed so strongly) that you don't feel that you deserve to be saved. You have to have some other reason to stop. And that reason has to be stronger than booze, or gambling, or heroin. Believe it or not, "staying alive" quite often isn't enough. But "staying alive for someone else" can be. Mitchell had and has no-one else to stay alive for. Like I say, desperately sad, and I really do hope that I am proved wrong. But it was a great programme about booze, except for Carol Barnes' farcical comment at the end that about 1 in 20 (or was it 1 in 10?) adults in the UK were alcoholics. I see numbers like this time and time again and they are not helped by the stupidly low "limits" for alcohol consumption before you are defined as having a drink problem.

Let's get this straight. Alcoholism affects the same proportion of drinkers as compulsive gambling affects gamblers. Mitchell, quite defnitely, is an alcoholic. And if you want my definition of an alcoholic, it's not the binge drinker at the weekend. It's the guy (or woman) who needs a drink in the morning, as soon as possible. Anyone who says, after a heavy session the night before "god, I couldn't face a drink at the moment" , just isn't even approaching it.

Of course, alcoholics are only human, and they take a certain fatalistic pride in the self-abuse. I admit that even now I get a certain frisson when I tell people that when I went onto hemereverin to stop me getting the physical side-effects of alcohol withdrawal, that it took me five days without booze for the alcohol in my bloodstream to drop to the level where it was legal for me to drive. In fact, when I walked in there on the first day, the alcohol level in my bloodstream was such that any non-drinker would be dead and any normal drinker would be comatose. Yep, you get a kick out of telling people that, for some reason. It's to show that, even though you have fucked up your life, there is at least something that you were a champion at. I would imagine that heroin addicts are the same, boasting about how much they have to inject these days before they get any buzz.

When people say that they are "a recovering alcoholic" rather than an "ex-alcoholic", the words are chosen with care. Because you are always getting a bit better, every day. In that sense, you are still "recovering". However, that doesn't make all your problems vanish. The strength is being able to face those problems, rather than hiding your head in a sand of booze.

Onwards and upwards. Let's have a look at the $100 buy-ins. They might be a bit looser by now.

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