Thursday, April 10, 2008

Good gravy.


Macon man accused of killing poker player at Atlantic City hotel

A Macon man is behind bars in connection with a fatal stabbing Saturday outside the Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., said the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office.

Vincente Perez, 57, remains in custody at the Atlantic County jail on $50,000 cash bond.

Perez is charged with aggravated manslaughter, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

Authorities said Perez stabbed 61-year-old Arthur Prince, of Toms River, N.J., on Saturday afternoon after the men began to argue at a poker table inside the popular casino.

The altercation left the game floor and continued outside in the casino's valet parking lot.

Prince suffered multiple stab wounds to the face, abdomen and back, according to a news release from the county prosecutor's office. He died Monday at the AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City.

Perez made his first court appearance Tuesday before Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Albert Garofolo.

Family members reportedly traveled from Macon to New Jersey earlier this week to attend the hearing.

Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker, damnit! 

I sure get some interesting emails sometimes. This is from an old, old friend of mine.

I'm not sure what to tell him - any ideas? I guess I need to get on the phone with him and find out what he's really looking for, per se.


Subject: Humans: the predictably unpredictable species

Wondering if I could pick your brain regarding real-time adversarial reasoning, both online and in the flesh. Given your background, you seem the most qualified person to ask.

Either on the phone, online or face-to-face you've been through quite a bit of adversarial dodge-ball over the years. So I'll cut straight to the point; if you have time I'd be most interested to know the in and out of how you go about flushing out the intentionality of your 'opponents' while at the same time obfuscating your intentions or at least try to come off as helpful/harmless. I know I'm asking a lot, but most literature on game theory doesn't portend anticipation of adversarial/deceptive tactics and/or intentions. So I was hoping you could think about it a bit and maybe write back or call with some insights.

How do you get a person talking (in the game)?
What do you look for? Personality types? Roles? Insecurities? Over-confidence?
From an initial read on their 'posturing' can you placate them with rote gestures or is it catch-as-catch-can for the most part?

Like folding a winning hand, shifting play styles, dealing with the 'low chip-holder' brand and recognizing when someone else if playing deceptively (which I would assume is fairly often). I guess I'm mostly asking how to be predictive of others while remaining unpredictable yourself. If you can give it some thought and get back with me it'd be in your debt. There just isn't much out there on adversarial (me or you) game theory (beyond the, yawn, prisoner's dilemma). To some degree it's all adversarial, but not to the point of deception and exploitation.

If your plate is full, just tell me to bugger off; no hard feelings. Maybe you could recommend some good books, articles, movies, etc. at least.

Take it easy.. ~s

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Hey now.

This is actually about gambling so lay off, damnit.

From the AP wire:

Traders bet Obama will win Democratic nomination

Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton will win several state nominating contests in the coming months but has little chance of becoming the party's candidate for the November 2008 election, traders were betting on Tuesday.

Traders in the Dublin-based Intrade prediction market gave Democratic front-runner Barack Obama an 86 percent chance of being the Democratic presidential nominee, versus a 12.8 percent for Clinton, the New York senator and former first lady.

Results were similar on the Iowa Electronic Markets at the University of Iowa, with traders giving Obama an 82.9 percent chance of winning, versus a 12.8 percent chance for Clinton.

Intrade traders were betting the Democratic nominee would ultimately become president. They gave the Democrat a 59.1 percent chance of winning, versus a 48.8 percent chance for the Republican. Iowa traders gave the Democrat a 57.1 percent chance of winning, versus 46.3 percent for the Republican.

Prediction exchanges let traders buy and sell contracts on the likelihood of future events. Contracts are structured so the prices can be read as a percent likelihood of an event occurring. Studies of prediction markets have shown they have an accuracy comparable to that of public opinion polls.

Expectations that Illinois Sen. Obama would be the Democratic presidential nominee have strengthened from 75 percent a month ago.

During that time Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president, has weathered a political storm over controversial statements made by the pastor of his church and has delivered a well-received speech on race in America.

The strong view of Obama's ultimate success came despite expectations that Clinton would win several important state nominating contests in the coming months.

Intrade traders were betting Clinton would win the contest in Pennsylvania on April 22, giving her a 66.1 percent chance, versus 32.8 percent for Obama. They gave her a 79 percent chance of winning the West Virginia contest on May 13, versus 20.5 percent for Obama, and a 70 percent chance of winning in Kentucky on May 20, versus 30.5 percent for Obama.

Traders were betting Obama would win the Indiana contest on May 6. They gave him a 58 percent chance, versus 45 percent for Clinton. Traders gave him an 88 percent chance of winning the May 20 Oregon contest, versus 12 percent for Clinton, and an 82.5 percent chance of winning the June 3 Montana contest, versus 17.5 percent chance for Clinton.

Pokerwolf sent me this comic awhile back that I nearly forgot to blog.

Monday, April 07, 2008

My humble apologies for the lack of posts lately. My internet connection at home went south, followed by my computer dying.

But I'm back up and running for now. Expect to see more posts, and yes, we'll be back to poker.

I read this NY Times article about blogging and thought it was worthy of passing along.

Poor bloggers.


In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop

SAN FRANCISCO — They work long hours, often to exhaustion. Many are paid by the piece — not garments, but blog posts. This is the digital-era sweatshop. You may know it by a different name: home.

A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.

Of course, the bloggers can work elsewhere, and they profess a love of the nonstop action and perhaps the chance to create a global media outlet without a major up-front investment. At the same time, some are starting to wonder if something has gone very wrong. In the last few months, two among their ranks have died suddenly.

Two weeks ago in North Lauderdale, Fla., funeral services were held for Russell Shaw, a prolific blogger on technology subjects who died at 60 of a heart attack. In December, another tech blogger, Marc Orchant, died at 50 of a massive coronary. A third, Om Malik, 41, survived a heart attack in December.

Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.

To be sure, there is no official diagnosis of death by blogging, and the premature demise of two people obviously does not qualify as an epidemic. There is also no certainty that the stress of the work contributed to their deaths. But friends and family of the deceased, and fellow information workers, say those deaths have them thinking about the dangers of their work style.

The pressure even gets to those who work for themselves — and are being well-compensated for it.

“I haven’t died yet,” said Michael Arrington, the founder and co-editor of TechCrunch, a popular technology blog. The site has brought in millions in advertising revenue, but there has been a hefty cost. Mr. Arrington says he has gained 30 pounds in the last three years, developed a severe sleeping disorder and turned his home into an office for him and four employees. “At some point, I’ll have a nervous breakdown and be admitted to the hospital, or something else will happen.”

“This is not sustainable,” he said.

It is unclear how many people blog for pay, but there are surely several thousand and maybe even tens of thousands.

The emergence of this class of information worker has paralleled the development of the online economy. Publishing has expanded to the Internet, and advertising has followed.

Even at established companies, the Internet has changed the nature of work, allowing people to set up virtual offices and work from anywhere at any time. That flexibility has a downside, in that workers are always a click away from the burdens of the office. For obsessive information workers, that can mean never leaving the house.

Blogging has been lucrative for some, but those on the lower rungs of the business can earn as little as $10 a post, and in some cases are paid on a sliding bonus scale that rewards success with a demand for even more work.

There are growing legions of online chroniclers, reporting on and reflecting about sports, politics, business, celebrities and every other conceivable niche. Some write for fun, but thousands write for Web publishers — as employees or as contractors — or have started their own online media outlets with profit in mind.

One of the most competitive categories is blogs about technology developments and news. They are in a vicious 24-hour competition to break company news, reveal new products and expose corporate gaffes.

To the victor go the ego points, and, potentially, the advertising. Bloggers for such sites are often paid for each post, though some are paid based on how many people read their material. They build that audience through scoops or volume or both.

Some sites, like those owned by Gawker Media, give bloggers retainers and then bonuses for hitting benchmarks, like if the pages they write are viewed 100,000 times a month. Then the goal is raised, like a sales commission: write more, earn more.

Bloggers at some of the bigger sites say most writers earn about $30,000 a year starting out, and some can make as much as $70,000. A tireless few bloggers reach six figures, and some entrepreneurs in the field have built mini-empires on the Web that are generating hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. Others who are trying to turn blogging into a career say they can end up with just $1,000 a month.

Speed can be of the essence. If a blogger is beaten by a millisecond, someone else’s post on the subject will bring in the audience, the links and the bigger share of the ad revenue.

“There’s no time ever — including when you’re sleeping — when you’re not worried about missing a story,” Mr. Arrington said.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we said no blogger or journalist could write a story between 8 p.m. Pacific time and dawn? Then we could all take a break,” he added. “But that’s never going to happen.”

All that competition puts a premium on staying awake. Matt Buchanan, 22, is the right man for the job. He works for clicks for Gizmodo, a popular Gawker Media site that publishes news about gadgets. Mr. Buchanan lives in a small apartment in Brooklyn, where his bedroom doubles as his office.

He says he sleeps about five hours a night and often does not have time to eat proper meals. But he does stay fueled — by regularly consuming a protein supplement mixed into coffee.

But make no mistake: Mr. Buchanan, a recent graduate of New York University, loves his job. He said he gets paid to write (he will not say how much) while interacting with readers in a global conversation about the latest and greatest products.

“The fact I have a few thousand people a day reading what I write — that’s kind of cool,” he said. And, yes, it is exhausting. Sometimes, he said, “I just want to lie down.”

Sometimes he does rest, inadvertently, falling asleep at the computer.

“If I don’t hear from him, I’ll think: Matt’s passed out again,” said Brian Lam, the editor of Gizmodo. “It’s happened four or five times.”

Mr. Lam, who as a manager has a substantially larger income, works even harder. He is known to pull all-nighters at his own home office in San Francisco — hours spent trying to keep his site organized and competitive. He said he was well equipped for the torture; he used to be a Thai-style boxer.

“I’ve got a background getting punched in the face,” he said. “That’s why I’m good at this job.”

Mr. Lam said he has worried his blogging staff might be burning out, and he urges them to take breaks, even vacations. But he said they face tremendous pressure — external, internal and financial. He said the evolution of the “pay-per-click” economy has put the emphasis on reader traffic and financial return, not journalism.

In the case of Mr. Shaw, it is not clear what role stress played in his death. Ellen Green, who had been dating him for 13 months, said the pressure, though self-imposed, was severe. She said she and Mr. Shaw had been talking a lot about how he could create a healthier lifestyle, particularly after the death of his friend, Mr. Orchant.

“The blogger community is looking at this and saying: ‘Oh no, it happened so fast to two really vital people in the field,’ ” she said. They are wondering, “What does that have to do with me?”

For his part, Mr. Shaw did not die at his desk. He died in a hotel in San Jose, Calif., where he had flown to cover a technology conference. He had written a last e-mail dispatch to his editor at ZDNet: “Have come down with something. Resting now posts to resume later today or tomorrow.”

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