Saturday, January 10, 2004
Phil Ivey blog repost
"One of the healthiest ways to gamble is with a spade and a package of garden seeds."
Thanks to a link and cool poker thread at Metafilter, I received some serious traffic. It's been odd, writing this out into the BlogSpace, or perhaps only to myself. Getting my first serious inbound link was kinda cool.
I'm still killing the games at Party Poker. Night after night, I'm amazed at the terrible players.
To me, the poker student, it's fascinating that one of the online pro's I know in real-life (as in: 100% of his income comes from playing online poker) has NEVER read a poker book. To be fair, he was coached on starting hands and pot odds by an experienced player many years ago, but still...it's surprising to me. I'm not saying you can't be a successful poker player without reading poker books, but I can't help but wonder how much he would improve if he immersed himself in conceptual/strategic thinking ala Sklansky, Carson or Caro.
David Sklansky estimates that of those players who try without studying to become solid winners (making good money in middle limit games, for example), no more than one percent succeed. Of those who do study diligently, he believes about ten percent succeed. If we accept Sklansky's numbers, which seem reasonable, books make a big relative difference. Still, they clearly don't guarantee success, by any stretch.
I found this snippet by pro Ray Zee on said topic:
Many new players start getting into these games and some actually play quite well. You see, after studying the best books, you can become fairly accomplished with just a small amount of real experience. (At least a lot less experience than it use to take.) So those players that improve themselves move up and take advantage of their new skills and keep pace with the world. This group improves their win rate due to the new faces and wider choice of games. Those that stay stagnant and don't study, fall back in the pack and either go broke or just slow down their winning ways. The players trying to make a living in this group really need to work on keeping their game in top shape.
Ray also lamented that literature and books may have made the games more difficult for him. Well, before the World Poker Tour, anyway. :)
On that note, many losing (and loose players) don't realize that money you don't lose is exactly the same as money you win. Poker truism.
The most important book for me pertaining to Party Poker has been Gary Carson's "The Complete Book of Hold Em Poker." He writes much more for the loose, aggressive games that make up the pokerscape at Party Poker rather than Sklansky's writings on the tight games in Vegas. Carson tends to ask you to "think" about the game. He doesn't group starting hands and may help your thinking on how to play drawing hands.
from nl tourney
Dealer: Game #239387990: NutNoPair wins pot (5625) with a flush, Ace high
fivesn6s: u ****
Old Sklansky post above about Izmet and Mason. Oh the humanity.
Yet another message board post. I admit to being curious about what words are filtered. Excuse the coarseness . . .
Here are some issues I've noticed in the PartyPoker filter over the
last few days -
You can have a username of "bitchfoo" but you can't say "bitch" in
chat. So you can't refer to someone by name, instead you get XXXfoo
Yes, some people use "Jew" as an insult or slur. However this is the
proper name of one of the world's largest religions, and "Christian",
"Muslim", "Buddhist" are left unfiltered.
3) Words that aren't filtered
Cover your eyes if any of these are about to offend you
Chink, Spick, Jap, Honky, and Whore are all left untouched by the
filter. Since the filter seems to use partial-word matches, Jap should
definitely be left OK rather than filtered out.
4) Other inconsistencies
Penis? OK. Vagina or cock? No. Coochie or snatch? OK.
I'm sure there are others
I for one was very offended that Jew was filtered out. I have many
good friends that are Jewish and declaring their religion a swear word
Loose, low limit games are very beatable, unless the rake is proportionally astronomic. My live play experience and computer (Turbo) research show they can be very profitable.
As fish make a lot of mistakes, it is only logical that a good player must have the best of it. There is no doubt about it. The only issues are can he beat the rake, can he withstand the variance and can he pinpoint the correct strategy. I'll try to address them separately.
To look from the other perspective - I have stated elsewhere
in my post that I'd rather call two cold with a hand like 98s
than QJ. Do you feel I have to reconsider?
Yes you would rather call with 98s. My only point was in multiway pots where a hand like AQ needs to pair to win it should feel no particular need to knock out 87.
David Sklansky replying:
Once AQ gives up on winning without a pair it really doesn't want to get
others out, at least up to a point. And if it was all in, it definitely
should raise. On the other hand, with even semi rational opponents, that
raise for value doesn't gain too much and may be overshadowed by the fact
that keeping the pot smaller not only avoids drawouts by players less willing to accept lesser pot odds, but makes it more likely that you can get a raise in later to shorten the field. Again these concepts do not apply against
total live ones so you and Gary Carson are right there. On the other hand,
even in games like that, using these ideas will certainly make you a winning
Link of the Day:
Now That's a Waist Line
With dedication, a corset, and the appetite of a hummingbird, any woman can achieve an hourglass figure. "Sometime people come up to me and ask me about my corset and tiny waist," says Spook, a Tampa college student seeking the world's most two-dimensional midsection. "By far the most common question is, 'Doesn't that hurt?'"
Friday, January 09, 2004
Andy Glazer & Phil Helmuth Poker Blogs
"How long does it take to learn poker, Dad?"
"All your life, son."
Mister Decker alerted me to the nightly $3 no-limit satellites (to the $200 NL tourneys) on PokerStars. They have unlimited rebuys for the first hour and an add-on at the first break. Suffice to say, even with the rebuys, the play is still tougher than PartyPoker. Perhaps the superior software attracts better/discerning players. But anyway, I sat with Royal last evening and gave it a whirl. Cost me $6 to have three hours of fun before choking with a big stack. I finished 90th or so outta 500 players, if I remember correctly.
Better lucky than good:
*** FLOP *** [3d 7h 8c]
Iggy: raises 53450 to 57450 and is all-in
jfddds: calls 31702 and is all-in
*** TURN *** [3d 7h 8c] [3c]
viko said, "wow"
*** RIVER *** [3d 7h 8c 3c] [2c]
jfddds said, "ouch"
*** SHOW DOWN ***
jfddds: shows [7c 7s] (a full house, Sevens full of Threes)
Iggy: shows [8d 8s] (a full house, Eights full of Threes) Iggy collected 86204 from pot
It's been very interesting the way my poker perspective has shifted now that I'm no-limit tourneying versus the limit grinding. Starting hand values shift, postional advantage becomes more important, playing aggressive becomes paramount. I feel that I have a lot to offer in the way of insight to limit grinding. Limit is so mechanical to me whereas no-limit is much more instinctual. I'm not sure I can be so cogent in my writing with no-limit tournament playing. Obviously, tight play is rewarded in both games but the luck factor in any single hand in a tournament makes a huge difference. I understand that tournament play is -EV, but I'm willing to give up the dough for the potential big score. The overlay is the thing. Parlaying $6 into the $200 NL tourney is sweet.
Plus, I'm slacking on taking player notes while in tourney mode. The players and tables are so damn random that I can't see any short-term benefits for doing so. Am I doing myself a disservice? Probably.
In this vein, I recently saw this post about “Poker Essays” by Mason Malmuth. The poster was asking about Malmuth's obvious lack of ability to predict the future and also the timeless question of what is more difficult to play, limit or no-limit? Quotes from Malmuth's book below:
“… it appears to the uneducated eye that tournaments are the wave of the
“I suspect that as the years go by there will be fewer and fewer major
“…the great poker tournament boom is, … past its peak.”
“It’s not easy to figure out what the best limit strategy is, while in
no-limit hold’em, its much more obvious.”
I understand Mason's point with the last comment, I'm just not sure I concur 100%. Better minds than mine have debated the finer points and relative strategy of both games. Go read the RGP archive to unearth some of these gems. Or hell, I'll post some tomorrow.
Continuing with message board posts, inthacup, 2+2 veteran poster, is on a quest:
I'm going to be posting a journal-style record of my play over the next few days/weeks. I think it'll be something fun to do and a good way to analyze my play.
My goal is to make $10,000 playing $100+9s. I only recently starting playing 100+9s and I think it will be a good way to plug some leaks and make some necessary adjustments.
I hope he follows up and makes a habit of posting his results.
Speaking of which, David Ross, where the hell are you??
Update - thanks to PokerGrub, here's David's latest post. Thanks a ton, Grubby!!
Playing online for a living
Thanks to Cards Speak for pointing out Daniel Rentzer's post, "How PokerStars changed my life." This a wonderful story of a guy who took a shot and it paid off. Go read for some inspiration.
I'd be remiss if I didn't pimp Poker Grub Vegas trip reports! Go read Part 3 & 4! Funny stuff. Also, I noticed that BoyGenius stated he signed up on Empire with a female moniker. I'm curious to see if he notices any differences in table image.
Some hip poker links:
Motley Fool has an interesting take on investing and the World Poker Tour.
According to Lakes Entertainment (Nasdaq: LACO), 5 million people tune in to the Travel Channel to watch the World Poker Tour (WPT) every week -- and that's just to watch re-runs.
But how do you -- the investor -- bet on the World Poker Tour?
You might want to take a look at Lakes Entertainment, which owns 80% of the WPT. On the ratings success of the WPT, Lakes' stock has more than tripled off its May lows near $5. At $17 per share, Lakes is currently trading at a slight premium to book value.
Betting the World Poker Tour
Damn, this is some impressive poker coverage. Check out Poker Pundit, Andy Glazer, winning his second title at the Aussie Millions. I sure wish they had this type of content for major tournaments here in the USA.
Television alters poker, will improve it
Akron Beacon Journal has a take on the World Poker Tour with quotes from Annie Duke, Chris (Jesus) Ferguson, and even Lou Diamond Phillips.
TV poker "is definitely going to raise the level of play,'' Ferguson said. "More people will come into the game, with a better sense of strategy from the TV games, so that in a couple of years, the number of very, very good players could double."
Yeah, right. We can see how the level of play on Party has become more difficult.
Yikes, web-site gambling advertising targeted by the Feds.
The Department of Justice has issued a subpoena to Clear Channel Communications and other media companies regarding advertising by illegal Internet gambling sites. I hate Clear Channel.
I discovered two new poker blogs.
Actually, I don't think Tyson is a blog, per se, but I'll link to him anyway. Prolly not worth reading, now that I dig around. Poker site "reviews" piss me off.
Knowing when to Hold 'Em is a new blog who actually complimented my blog. That alone will get you mass pimpage. He is currently tackling the 50.1 tables at Party Poker and UB and wrote up a nice comparison between the two.
Also, updated the blog links on the right. Keeps getting longer and longer.
Stick and Move took my advice and now has this to say about PokerTracker.
And incidentally, how the hell did I survive without Poker Tracker? I've gone from living without it to loading hands obsessively. I can't believe no one made me buy it before, but if you're reading this and you play online poker and you don't use it (And I'm sure I was the last one to get the damn thing), you're doing yourself a disservice.
One last note, I did some digging and have discovered that bonus whoring is still possible (albeit more difficult) at Party/Empire. It's not too hard to eliminate cookies, after all. So think about that second ID on Empire (IGGY1 bonus code, damnit!). It will be worth your bankrolls while.
Two+Two's message board software still sucks.
David, please fire Mat. Nepotism be damned.
So thanks for reading and good luck at da tables tonight!
Link of the Day:
Turn Ons: Movies, Long Walks, Parole
Very Special Women in Prison is a dating service for patient men and penitent women. "I'm willing to relocate if possible," says one inmate. "Good morals are my turn on."
Thursday, January 08, 2004
These damn tournaments are killing me. They last so freaking long and I end up drinking far too much Guinness. Oh the humanity, I'm hurting today.
But YES, I qualified last nite. Typical satellite, players shoving chips in as fast as they can, talking trash. The pivotal hand was getting KK allin preflop versus TT and KJo (? wtf) and tripling through to 120k in mid-tourney.
So now I'm once again in the big show this weekend. Woohoo! I'm pretty stunned at my nolimit success thus far, but it doesn't mean anything unless I manage to cash in the big tourney.
Let's roll out the poker linkage, shall we:
Good Lord, venerable blog Love and Casino War has new multiple posts - go check it out now for the hilarious quote of the day and some great 'home game' resources. Always quality content.
Speaking of which, I'm running a little no-limit tourney here in about a week. Oughta be a hoot.
Resident RGP nutball, Brian Court had this post about Party Poker, which surprised me cause he's typically always bashed Party.
I always loved UB but many times it's tough to get a game. Party on the other hand 24/7 there's plenty of 10/20-20/40 going, the payouts are as fast if not faster than any other site and the games are just ridiculously easy. I'll give you an example, I was playing in a game the other day and one of the players had about $1100 in front of him, he capped every round of betting if possible and with in 7 hands was busted. The funny thing is he might of been stronger than two of the other players at the table. Mike Sexton a class guy that knows how to attract more suckers per square inch than anyone in poker history. If anyone says Party is rigged than I must be Sexton's nephew because he's rigging it my way. God bless the poker boom.
My favorite poker diary site, PokerWorks, has a post about dealing to Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Linda rules.
Also, Froggy (get rid of those damn pop-up's!) found OJ's poker blog, only 6 entries but worth keeping tabs on.
From USA Today, a column entitled Placing Bets Online can be a Gamble.
For anyone not using PokerTracker, go check out Stick and Move's example of a fish he tagged on PartyPoker. Amazing. Being able to identify players like that makes PokerTracker priceless for the discerning poker player.
Just so you get a feel for this dude, here's the deal. In 83 hands, he voluntarily put money in the pot 72 times.
MeneGene is cranking out presidential posts on a daily basis and had some fun playing with PokerSavvy's Bad Beat Meter. Thankfully, Mister Greenspan commented on how the meter works:
The score if greatly affected by the amount of money you get into the pot on each street. In limit, there's only so much you can do. And thus your opponents are not making as big a mistake. The really big scores come in pot- and no-limit.
The formula for the scoring is included with the application. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.
BTW, where the hell is David Ross? I want an update!
Excellent article here about Dayton native, Mike Sexton. Poker Face.
Another column about poker's popularity. The 15 minutes continues...
Poker's Real Ace
Cavebutter is posting about poker again. I'll cut cavebutter some slack even though what he sees in one hand at Planet Poker is what happens EVERY OTHER hand at Party. But I'm happy he's winning.
Column on Poynter about online gambling, addiction and Pete Rose.
Oh yeah, per Froggy, The Ritz Club London is going online. Lost the link but should be a fine room for the UK players out there.
Lastly, don't forget to use Poker TV Guide to see what's on!
My favorite quote from last nite:
bb- fuck AQ
bb- right in the ear
Wednesday, January 07, 2004
Phil Ivey & Annie Duke Poker Blog
"Las Vegas is not renowned as a literary town. In fact, the word "book" around here, 90% of the time is a verb."
Good Lord, where to begin?
I want to rant, to shill, to scream from the rooftop, I LOVE PARTYPOKER!
It's amazing, watching poker undergo this metamorphosis, especially regarding online poker play. Could I have dreamt or ever imagined a better scenario?
James McManus? Chris Moneymaker? The World Poker Tour? Party Poker?
Hrrm, well.... My poker scenario would *not* include the Bravo TV Show, Celebrity Poker. I'm loving the random insults from the blogs and message boards, but I still wish the show would go away. However, stick Phil Helmuth or Sam Grizzle at the table, and I'm pre-ordering the season DVD.
Two new announcements for poker and TV is below. You heard it here first.
Snippets from the last Bravo TV show, with Tom Green and Scott Stapp (of Creed):
Phil: "Tom's out, and Scott is still..."
Mimi Rogers was sort of funny,
"I have a big pair" - that sounded right out of 'Young Frankenstein.'
Season two of WPT.
Travel Channel Deals Up Season Two of World Poker Tour
The World Poker Tour continues to be a ratings winner for the network -- with the World Poker Tour Ladies Night special scoring the highest rating ever for the WPT series, and becoming the second highest rated individual program in the network's history
World Poker Tour Goes Hollywood
LOS ANGELES, California – (Press Release) -- On Sunday, January 25 from 9-11 PM (ET/PT) Hollywood's inner circle will put it all on the table in the premiere episode of the World Poker Tour: Hollywood Home Game. The stakes are high and the tension palpable as Hollywood superstars battle for bragging rights, $25,000 in charity donations and a coveted $25,000 seat in the World Poker Tour Championship.
"It is remarkable how many A-List celebrities and Hollywood muckety-mucks tell us they are addicted to our show," said executive producer and founder of the World Poker Tour, Steven Lipscomb. "The WPT Hollywood Home Game edition gives these celebs a chance to experience what it feels like to sit at WPT final table. At the same time, we have taken great care to preserve the relaxed feeling of a Hollywood home game. Six stars on a sound stage, with nothing between them but the chips and the felt."
To spice up the action, in each two-hour episode, the stars are given the option of using a "lifeline" to call upon two professional poker players for a bit of friendly advice.
"World Poker Tour: Hollywood Home Game pits Hollywood's brightest stars against one another and fulfills the World Poker Tour/Travel Channel promise of high quality televised poker programming," said Travel Channel's executive vice president and general manager, Rick Rodriguez.
Celebrities featured in the four-episode World Poker Tour: Hollywood Home Game include:
* Episode 1: Jack Black, Drew Carey, Fred Savage, Steve Harris, Mimi Rogers, Aisha Tyler
* Episode 2: Lou Diamond Phillips, Fred Willard, Lolita Davidovich, Norm McDonald, Richard Karn, Camryn Manheim
* Episode 3: Jennifer Tilly, Ming-Na, Joshua Morrow, James Woods, Robert Wuhl, Daniel Baldwin
* Episode 4: Ben Affleck, Jon Favreau, Ed Asner, Mo Collins, Sharon Lawrence, Gary Busey
The series, the most popular in Travel Channel history, continues to revolutionize televised poker. Through expert analysis, multiple camera angles, and the patented WPT Cam -- which shows close-ups of the players' hole cards -- the World Poker Tour has created a whole new element of high-stakes, high-anxiety excitement.
The World Poker Tour airs Wednesday nights from 9-11 PM (ET/PT), and season two is scheduled to premiere Wednesday, March 3, 2004.
The WORLD POKER TOUR series is produced for the Travel Channel by World Poker Tour, LLC. Steven Lipscomb is the show's creator and serves as Executive Producer. Joe Swift is the Executive Producer for the Travel Channel. World Poker Tour, LLC is a joint venture between Lipscomb and Lakes Entertainment, Inc. (Nasdaq: LACO).
I'm close in a sat. 114k with 55 players left. Twenty qualify.
Link of the Day:
Smile, You're on Remanded Camera
From The Smoking Gun's mugshot collection: "These allegedly lawless ladies and gentlemen should be recognized for their awful hair, unfortunate clothes, array of bandages, and goofy smiles."
Tuesday, January 06, 2004
Phil Helmuth & Chris Moneymaker Poker Blogs
"After five days in Vegas you feel like you've been here for five years."
Hunter S. Thompson
Ain't that the truth.
I'm full of poker content but I've got a tournament coming up, so I'll just bang out what I can and save the rest for tomorrow or later tonight.
I'm really enjoying my fellow poker bloggers reaping the fruits of Izmet's advice in limit play. Preflop: tight, tight, tight. Postflop: pound, pound, pound. Yes, your variance will increase, but overall, you will win more and lose less if you maintain focus and pre-flop discipline.
However, I'm no longer a grinder. I'm in full metal jacket no-limit mode.
I fired up Party Poker for a $30 no-limit multi for the first time in a loooong time. 1100 players, yikes! And best of all, I had my original poker coach, BB, making a return to the online scene and playing as well. For the record, BB is an extremely aggressive player whose best game is NL. It's very beneficial for me to discuss poker with him because he naturally plays "big" and that tends to influence my play, especially after six months of grinding at limit.
So BAM, the action is typical Party insanity. Folks moving all-in with crap, crazy bluffs, ill-advised re-raises, you name it. After almost four hours, we were down to 60 players and I was running hot with nearly 20k, the second biggest stack at my table. To be fair, I hit three sets in about 40 minutes, but still, I had been playing virtually mistake-free no limit poker. BB, on the other hand, had a smaller size stack but he had to contend with a 30k stack directly to his left. Ugh.
First prize was something like nine grand which really was what I was playing for. Why play to get "in the money" if it's only $80? Hell, that's a good night of 2.4. With my healthy stack and players continuing to drop like flies, I felt I had a legit shot if I kept my wits about me.
Other shoe drops: I get KK in early, automatically move in and the only stack at the table who could cover me, called with, you guessed it, AA.
Oh the humanity.
Truly, I was stunned but re-playing the hand, I'm not sure I made a mistake moving in. That's just poker.
Damn, so I made the money, got a nice little payday and sweated BB for the remainder of the tourney. Wouldn't you know that he played the tightest I've ever seen him play, smartly nursing a small stack and finishing way up in the money? Excellent poker and one helluva lotta fun.
Favorite trash talk snippet:
texaspete22: tiny ur ******* awful
mackdime420: HE HAD YOU BEAT
texaspete22: i had 2 pr on flop u ****
MIDSEASON TV trends: Cowpokes and Vegas envy
Seattle Post Intelligencer, WA
Besides, we can always manage to find a few gems glinting in the blackness, even if some of them end up being cheap and gaudy upon closer examination.
Yesterday Pokersavvy launched a couple of tools that are both unique and, in some ways, quite important. You see, we've tried to answer the question that plagues every player: Just how bad was that beat?
With the Pokersavvy Bad-Beat-o-Meter, a hand gets a score that quantifies it's badness. No longer will players need to resort to generic descriptions -- "So I've got Aces on the Button" -- now they'll be able to blurt out a number.
But beyond quantifying beats, there's still the question
of what to do about a really nasty -- and costly --
suck out. Well, Pokersavvy is here to help with that, too.
We've created the Bad Beat Hotline. Just call:
1-866-SUCK-OUT (1- (866) 782-5688)
and tell your bad beat story. (And yes, this number does exist -- and yes, it's possibly the stupidest thing ever done.)
I wish I had time to dig through the blogs. Great stuff out there.
Link of the Day:
When Vegeterians Attack!
The publisher of VegSource has a beef with anti-milk activist Robert Cohen. "In all earnestness, Mr. Cohen should come with a serious warning label," writes Jeff Nelson.
Sunday, January 04, 2004
Homer: "I'm trying to impress people here, Lisa. You don't win friends with salad."
Bart: [forming conga line with Homer] "You don't win friends with salad! You don't win friends with salad!"
Sigh. Vegan bashing. To recap: Over a week ago, PokerVegan posted that he was estatic about MadCow disease in this country. Go read it yourself, I'm not reposting that crap here. I was pretty damn offended. Mister Decker weighed in as well.
So he finally saw the rants and said he didn't mean what he said. I'll allow PokerVegan the benefit of the doubt here, and accept his revisionist clarification. That being said, his original post, in the spirit of it, still seemed rather celebratory. I'm sure the mad cow thing, for nazi vegans, was taken as a victory for their cause. That's certainly the way his post read to me and even to other vegans.
But again, it could have been an honest mistake and I'm willing to believe him.
I really shouldn't bother because their own words are enough. I agree with Scott whole-heartedly.
Anyone that can use the phrase "fellow mammals" with a straight face doesn't deserve the attention paid to him thus far, much less a rational counterargument.
Sorry Scott, but I'm gonna bash away in lieu of poker tonight. Just skip to the bottom of the post if this bores you.
I'm happy Vegan took the high road, though. However, I'm surprised that it took him an entire freaking week to discover my rant (see prior post) and Mr. Decker's Fuck You. Anyone who works as a webmaster and has a vanity domain name like NETGOD oughta be on top of things.
I'll admit to being a foodie. I love to cook and somehow have more cookbooks than poker books. So I remembered Anthony Bourdain's rant in one of his books, A Cook's Tour, a follow-up to his superb best-seller, Kitchen Confidential. Anthony, a 28 year veteran of professional kitchens in NYC, is currently the executive chef at brassierre Les Halles in Manhattan. A Cook's Tour is a behind the scenes look at his world travels on his popular Food Network TV show.
Suffice to say, he knows his shit. Best of all, like all chefs, he dislikes vegans and everything they stand for. Here's a snippet:
Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistant irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food. The body, these waterheads imagine, is a temple that should not be polluted by animal protein. It's healthier, they insist, though every vegetarian waiter I've worked with is brought down by a rumor of a cold. Oh, I'll accomodate them, I'll rummage around for something to feed them, for a "vegetarian plate," if called on to do so. Fourteen dollars for a few slices of grilled eggplant and zucchini suits my food cost fine.
Good stuff. Now I *could* round up the massive amounts of anti-vegan material laying around there on the web, but I assume you know how to Google. Lotsa funny stuff out there.
For that reason, I'm going to excerpt Anthony's rant about vegetarians for your reading pleasure. He's in the vegan epicenter, San Francisco, by the way, for a taping of his show.
Anthony, the floor is yours:
I'm going to try - really try - to be nice here. I went along with the producers scheme. Fair is fair. The opposition should be given every chance to prove the righteousness of their cause - or at least the merits of their case. The people coming to dinner, the folks who'd be cooking for me, were all serious vegans. Cookbook authors. Vegan cookery teachers. People who spent lots of time going to seminars, classes, corresponding with others of their ilk - online, in chat rooms, and at conventions and informal gatherings. Maybe, just maybe, they had something to show me. Maybe it was possible to make something good without meat, or stock, or butter, or cheese, or dairy products of any kind. Who was I to sneer? The world, I had discovered, was a big, strange and wonderful place. I'd eaten tree grubs and worms and sheep's testicals. How bad could it be?
The vegans I visited did not live in a converted ashram on a hilltop, tending to their crops in bare feet or Birkenstocks. No one was named Rainbow or Sunflower. Only one person wore a sari. My hosts lived in a kempt modern luxury home in an exclusive area of the suburbs, surrounded by green lawns and shiny new BMWs and SUVs. They were, all of them, affluent-looking professionals and executives. Ranging in age from mid thirties to early fifties, they were all well dressed, unfailingly nice, eager to show me their side of the argument.
And not one of them could cook a fucking vegetable.
Fergus Henderson, the grand master of blood and guts cookery, shows more respect for the simple side of sauteed baby spinach on his plates than any of these deluded vegans showed me in ten elaborate courses. Green salads were dressed hours before being served, ensuring that they had wilted into nutrition-free sludge. The knife work - even from the cooking teachers present - was clumsy and inept, resembling the lesser efforts of younger members of the Barney Rubble clan.
The vegetables - every time - were uniformly overcooked, under seasoned, nearly colorless, and abused, any flavor, texture and lingering vitamin content leeched out. Painstaking re-creations of 'cheese', 'yogurt' and 'cream' made from various unearthly soy products tasted, invariably, like caulking compound, and my hosts, though good humored and friendly to the stranger in their midst, seemed terrified, even angry about something nebulous in their pasts. Every time I asked one of them about how and when exactly they had decided to forgo all animal products, the answer always seemed to involve a personal tragedy or disappointment unrelated to food.
"I got a divorce," began one. "I lost my job," said another. "Heart attack," offered another. "I broke up with my . . ." "When I decided to move out of LA, I started thinking about things . . ."
In every case, it appeared to me that something had soured them on the world they'd once embraced - and that they now sought new rules to live by, another orthodoxy, something else to believe in.
"Did you read about the PCBs in striped bass?" one whispered urgently, as if comforted by the news. "I saw online where they're pumping steroids into cattle," said another breathlessly, every snippet of bad news from the health front a victory to their cause. They seemed to spend an awful lot of time confirming their fears and suspicions of the world outside their own, combing the Internet for stories of radioactive dairy products, genetically altered beets, polluted fish, carcinogenic sausages, spongiform-riddled meat, the hideous Grand Guignol chamber of horror abattoirs and slaughterhouses.
They also seemed curiously oblivious to the fact that much of the world goes to bed hungry every night, that our basic design features as humans, from the beginning of our evolution, developed around the very real need to hunt down slower, stupider animals, kill them and eat them. "Don't you ever wake up in the middle of the night craving bacon?" I asked.
"No. Never," replied every single one of them. "I've never felt so healthy in my life."
It was difficult for me to be polite. I'd just returned from Cambodia, where a chicken can be the difference between life and death. These people in their comfortable suburban digs were carping about cruelty to animals but suggesting that everyone in the world, from suburban yuppie to starving Cambodian, start buying organic vegetables and expensive soy substitutes. To look down on entire cultures that've based everything on the gathering of fish and rice seemed arrogant to the extreme.
I've heard of vegans feeding their dogs vegetarian meals. Now that's cruelty to animals. And the hypocrisy of it all pissed me off. Just being able to talk about this issue in a reasonably grammatical language is a priviledge. Being able to read these words, no matter how stupid, offensive or wrong-headed is a priviledge, your reading skills the end product of a level of education most of the world will never enjoy. Our whole lives - our homes, the shoes we wear, the cars we drive, the food we eat - all built on a mountain of skulls. But is meat murder? Fuck no.
Murder, as one of my Khmer Rouge pals might tell you, is what his next-door neighbor did to his whole family back in the seventies. Murder is what happens in Cambodia, parts of Africa, Central and South America, and in former Soviet republics when the police chief's idiot son decides he wants to turn your daughter into a whore and you don't like the idea. Murder is what Hutus do to Tutsis, Serbs to Croats, Russians to Uzbeks, Crips to Bloods. And vice-versa. It's black Chevy Suburbans pulling up outside your house at three in the morning and dragging away your suspiciously unpatriotic and overopinionated son. Murder is what that man sitting across from you in Phnom Penh does for a living - so he can afford a satellite dish for his roof, so he can watch our Airwolf reruns, MTV Asia, and Pam Anderson running in slow motion down a S. Cal beach.
Hide in your fine homes and eat vegetables, I was thinking. Put a Greenpeace or NAACP bumper sticker on your Beemer if it makes you feel better (so you can drive your kid to their all-white schools). Save the rainforest - by all means - so maybe you can visit it someday, on an ecotour, wearing, comfortable shoes made by ten year olds in forced labor. Save a whale while millions are sold into slavery, starved, fucked to death, shot, tortured, forgotten. When you see cute kids crying in rubble next to Sally Struthers somewhere, be sure to send a few dollars.
Damn! I was going to try and be nice.
And then, contrasting the pathetic vegan "meal", our hero, Anthony, heads to the best restaurant in the country, The French Laundry, for the dinner of a lifetime. For the record, the French Laundry cookbook is better suited as a coffee-table book than an actual cookbook for the home chef. It's still a great gift for any foodies in your life.
To understand, I would recommend any vegan to read, "The Soul of a Chef," by Michael Ruhlman. There are ZERO vegetarian Master Chefs. Go read the reality of world-class, five-star cooking. Flat-earth society types need not apply.
K, sorry for the vegan tangent. I've been wanting to type up that anti-vegan screed by Bourdain for a long time now and this was an excuse to do so. Feel free to copy and paste it to your favorite vegan mailing list or message board.
I wish I could find a Hunter S. Thompson quote about vegetarians, damnit.
So let's wrap this up with poker. That's why we're all here, right?
So I played in my $200 no-limit tournament this weekend. Over 900 players. Around 50k for first. After two hours I had almost doubled my chips with zero cards. When the blinds hit $600 an orbit and my stack getting whittled down, I needed a hand and fast. I finally moved in with AT and got called by giant stack who had KK. No ace, so I finished around 350th. Still, I did well for not getting cards and damn, the players were dropping like flies. If I had managed to double-thru or catch some cards at the right moment, I woulda been fighting for money (they paid out nearly 100 places).
Poker linkage, from me to you:
TV poker -- hold 'em and watch 'em
For the poker pros, luck is what the other guys need
Van Patten Wagers on Reality Poker
It's full house as poker deals TV a winning hand
Back to all poker tomorrow, I swear.
Straight dope on vegans
I feel like I'm arguing that the Pope is Catholic.
Link of the day:
VEGANS: Modern Day Witches
When Cain and Abel offered gifts to the Lord, Abel gave the Lord the fat he cut off the hides of his flock whereas Cain gave the Lord a fruit and vegetable tray. The Lord loved Abel’s offering of something that would stick to His holy ribs and despised Cain’s lesser offering of mere produce.
Nazi Vegetarians. The Nazis took great pride in their fervent beliefs in animal rights and avowedly opposed the idea of eating flesh.
"One may regret living at a period when it's impossible to form an idea of the shape the world of the future will assume. But there's one thing I can predict to eaters of meat: the world of the future will be vegetarian."
- Adolf Hitler. November 11, 1941. Section 66, HITLER'S TABLE TALK
"I am no admirer of the poacher, particularly as I am a vegetarian."
- Adolf Hitler. August 20, 1942. Section 293, HITLER'S TABLE TALK
"If I offer a child the choice between a pear and a piece of meat, he'll quickly choose the pear. That's his atavistic instinct speaking."
- Adolf Hitler. December 28, 1941. Section 81, HITLER'S TABLE TALK
"The only thing of which I shall be incapable is to share the sheiks' mutton with them. I'm a vegetarian, and they must spare me from their meat."
- Adolf Hitler. January 12, 1942. Section 105, HITLER'S TABLE TALK
"At the time when I ate meat, I used to sweat a lot. I used to drink four pots of beer and six bottles of water during a meeting. … When I became a vegetarian, a mouthful of water was enough."
- Adolf Hitler. January 22, 1942. Section 117, HITLER'S TABLE TALK
"When you offer a child the choice of a piece of meat, an apple, or a cake, it's never the meat that he chooses. There's an ancestral instinct there."
- Adolf Hitler. January 22, 1942. Section 117, HITLER'S TABLE TALK
"One has only to keep one's eyes open to notice what an extraordinary antipathy young children have to meat."
- Adolf Hitler. April 25, 1942. Section 198, HITLER'S TABLE TALK
"When I later gave up eating meat, I immediately began to perspire much less, and within a fortnight to perspire hardly at all. My thirst, too, decreased considerably, and an occasional sip of water was all I required. Vegetarian diet, therefore, has some obvious advantages."
- Adolf Hitler. July 8, 1942. Section 256, HITLER'S TABLE TALK
"In order that animal torture shall not continue...I will commit to concentration camps those who still think that they can continue to treat animals as inanimate property" (Hermann Goring, 1933 radio broadcast)
A sad fact in history is that the first country to ban animal testing was Nazi Germany. I only know a few vegans who would declare Nazi Germany to be an enlightened society.
Oh shoot! I just learned some plants scream when they are picked! Guess we can't eat them either. What is the nutritional value of gravel?
I'm just following up Intrepid Card Players's rant.
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