A Blatant Commercial Moment, But Not For Me

Back In the Day when FullTilt Poker was going, I played on it a lot.  I miss those days. I built a $10 initial investment into about $1500 (and got fucktons of writing done at the same time; how cool is that?). Mostly, I played small “Sit and Go” tournaments.  I’m a long, long way from the best tournament poker player you’ll meet, but I am a consistent winner.  Because I was taught to be, mostly by two people: Adam Stemple and Chris “Pokerfox” Wallace–who, by the way, wrote an excellent book together that I can’t recommend too highly.

Okay, so, the commercial part of this:   Chris is teaching a master class in tournament poker.  Rack rate is $300, but you can get it down to $180 by using the code “foxdreamcafe”.  It is worthwhile if and only if you are serious about tournament poker.

Here is where to find it.

End of commercial.  I now return you to your regularly scheduled political rants and writing natter.


My Forthcoming Poker Book

Here is the outline for my soon-to-be-written poker book:*

Chapter 1: How to prevent bad beats by always going in with the worst hand.

Chapter 2: Drawing dead and getting there.

Chapter 3: How to put your opponent on a hand you can beat so you can justify calling.

Chapter 4: Bluffing the nuts into the guy who has ’em.

Chapter 5: How to slowplay until beat then checkraise.

Chapter 6: The fine art of “taking one off.”

Chapter 7: Getting really mad in order to improve your play.

Appendix A: Top seven excuses explanations for why you called with that piece of shit hand.

Appendix B: Keys to popularity within the poker community, including explaining to everyone at the table what they did wrong, and telling bad beat stories.


* For all of you non poker players: The above is not serious, okay? I’m kidding. I’m not really writing a poker book. I am, however, preparing a major work on particle physics.**

** I’m kidding about that, too.


All Right, Yeah, I’m a Conservative

I really am.  Those who know me well already know that, but for the rest of you, let me explain.

There is what one believes, and then there are one’s natural inclinations.  And all of my inclinations are suspicious of change. Not against change; suspicious of it.  I scowl when new words are coined, and demand that they justify themselves.  In music, I grimace and tap my foot impatiently at drum machines and atonality.

In Texas Hold ’em, I still call the fourth community card “fourth street” and the fifth one “fifth street” instead of “the turn” and the “the river” respectively. Why? Because I do, that’s why.

In politics, yeah, I’m a Red, but I’m an old-school Red: an orthodox Trotskyist, a traditional Marxist. I believe that the proletariat is the revolutionary class, that the falling rate of profit causes market crashes, that history is best understood as the struggle to wrest human wants from nature, that the materialist dialectic is the best general explanation we have for matter in motion, and that explanations for social phenomena that don’t start with the class struggle are liable to be vacuous. I disliked the New Left when it was New; and I still dislike it now that it’s no longer Left.  Post-modernism and identity politics I find easy to hate, because both my inclination and my reasoned beliefs line up (as opposed to language and music, where, really, I wish I were more comfortable with change).

And in fiction, I am quite fine with both reading and telling stories. I feel like all fiction ought be stories. I do not believe that; I believe that there is room  for all sorts of experimenting and wild, weird stuff. But what I want are stories. I want to write them and then see them published in books.  You know, the kind people hold, and turn the pages, and read? And I want them sold in book stores where people browse; and I want them in libraries where people can pull them off the shelves and consider checking them out; and I want them in used book stores where people who can’t afford new books can try new authors without going broke.

I approve of the new stuff, of e-books, of certain alternate publishing strategies. I think, long-term, they will probably have a positive effect on the quality of stories; but I’m not comfortable with them.

Because, at heart, however much I wish I weren’t, I’m a conservative.


Learning Poker

There’s been some talk of poker.  Yes, I play poker.  For me, it’s just like meditation, except you’re thinking a lot and you make money.  My Poker Master took me in when I was six years old.  For three years, all he would let me do is shuffle cards.  Day after day, shuffling cards.  I would say to him, “When will I learn poker?”  And he would smile and say, “Your riffle is imperfect.”  Then he would hit me in the head with Super/System.

Later he would make me practice pushing chips into the pot.  For years, all I did was move chips, until my motion flowed, and the chips were part of me, and it was myself I was pushing into the middle of the table, saying, “Throw it away, you don’t have the balls to call.”

Finally he let me begin to learn.  He taught me the hand rankings, the odds of making a flush with two cards to come, as well as poker etiquette, like what to do if someone has a heart attack at the table (if he wasn’t in the hand, call the card room manager to announce an open seat).

Then the hard lessons began–discipline.  Discipline, discipline, discipline.  He would put duct tape over my mouth, bind my hands to my side, and deal me aces.

It was hard, but gratifying.  I became one with the felt.  My consciousness would expand until process was everything, results nothing, unless I took a really bad beat, in which case I had a Smith & Wesson.

Fill, or fill not.  There is no draw.

A Poker Song

(If the tune isn’t obvious, you are lucky, and I won’t ruin your life by directing you to the original)

It’s after midnight on Saturday
The tourney’s been running since nine.
The rock to my left is my only hope
Since he’s never defended his blinds.
So the action folds all the way round to me
I make the only move that I can.
But for just once this round, the bastard looks down
And somehow comes up with a hand.

La la la, de de da
La la, de de da da da

Push it all in you’re the bubble man
Your tourney has come to a stop.
But at least on the long list of losers
Your name is right at the top.

Lee6 in seat one is a maniac
He bets like he just doesn’t care.
And it’s fully a lock he’ll be starting to mock
Me before I am out of my chair.
He types, “U play like an idiot
i always nu u’d be gone.”
I want to shout how he always sucks out
But I’m afraid that he isn’t wrong.

Oh, la la la, de de da
La la, de de da da dat

There’s DoctorNo in the seven seat.
Who groans and whines all the time
He types “This is such rot, I’d have won that whole pot
If I had just played my queen-nine.”
And Dupo66 in the four seat’s
Been quiet the whole bloody game.
He’s here for the cash and doesn’t talk trash
Besides he’s from the Ukraine.

Oh, la la la, de de da
La la, de de da da da


I did pretty good for a Saturday
This time  I reached a new peak.
But if I could just make my original stake
I could buy-in and do it next week.
I’m staring now at the tournament board
I don’t usually make it this long.
But there’s no reason to cry I guess sometime I’ll try
Without the tequila and bong.