Employment Opportunities: Et cetera

[Content Disclosure: Poker 99%; Position Seeking 12%; Random Direction 4%]

For those who may be stopping by to see some of my poker writings, I guess I had better give you a few recent links. You might not scroll down far enough beyond my end of year musings to locate the evidence of my unmistakable poker wit and wisdom. Here are some highlights from the past few weeks with pure poker content:

National & International legislation effecting online poker

Run Good, Run Better, Run Best
Poker on the Fringe
Poker & Life; Life & Poker
The Poker Economy
Shameless Self Promotion
and, of course, The Book

Under the guise of semi-full disclosure, I would remind both potential employers and collaborators that this blog:

". . . serves several purposes. It is my personal not-all-about-poker blog. My professional poker blogging can be found on (nowhere at the moment, ah the great world wide economy). I am using this space to muse about things not always poker, which is why I begin each post with a "Content Disclosure". Some folks come here just for the poker and others for anything non-poker. This is where I do both and a wee bit more."

Emotional Drive-By

[Content Disclosure: 55% Life; 38% Memories; 19% Lust; 9% Love; 7% Long Forgotten Pain; Stir in a bit of Nostalgia and a Smidgen of Insight; .5% Poker]

When you live in Las Vegas, a lot of old friends come to town for meetings, conventions, trade shows and junkets. I have several variations of my "guided tour" depending on how worldly my old chums are these days. At the end of one such visit this fall, I found myself upwind from a cigar on the balcony of a garden suite at one of more elegant hotels on the Strip. Yes, some of my old college friends have done right well in the world of corporate America and some of the perks are quite interesting for an evening. The client's expense account had paid for a very nice dinner after which I had given my high end poker tour (Venetian & Bellagio). We even did and interior drop by in Bobby's Room as I had to bug one of the players about a interview we had been putting off.

Later on the balcony my college buddy and I were discussing olde thymes and olde friends, when Steve said: "Tell me again about your crazy girlfriend."

"Well Chris wasn't really crazy." I remembered that Steve had been around a few times when I was with Chris in the 70's.

"No not Chris, your actually crazy girlfriend."

Oh, right Steve had never met Barbie, but at some long ago college reunion, the boys had stayed up late on another balcony of that bed and breakfast in Kalamazoo and told tales of our lives since graduation. I had told of a Barbie weekend in Los Angeles with the drugs, the overtly sexual Sunset Blvd. excursion and the broken picture window at the Coldwater Canyon house.

"I have the impression you are not looking to hear just another love/war story, what is it you are asking me? You got a crazy person in your life Steve?"

"As a matter of fact I do. And you are the guy with the Ph.D. in psychology and some experience with crazy women, so how about serving up a side of insight for me."

I remember a very similar talk Steve and I had forty years ago on that big front porch of Harmon Hall. Older and wiser, we thought we were, but still having late night dorm room conversations about life and women. Some things really never change, just the cost of the balcony.

As it turns out, Steve's crazy woman had been running an African photo safari compound for the past ten years, so it had been email only for a long time. But she was back again and too close for comfort to his fully functional life in Atlanta. While he finished his cigar and we both emptied several bottles of wine, I gave what clinical advice as I could and we judiciously did not see the sun rise over the Strip. But that night has been rolling around in my psyche since then and I have come up with the highly theoretical and anecdotally tested construct of the Emotional Drive-By.

Ladies please feel free to reverse the gender roles in this theory, it works equally well with crazy boyfriends.

The Emotional Drive-By consists of an ex-lover dipping themselves into your life, yet again! The essential symptoms include most if not all of the following:
-they are not staying, this is not an attempt at permanence nor reconciliation;
-they are adventure addicts, action junkies and/or lost souls;
-you can't save them and they will harm you;
-you know that re-involvement is a mistake; yet often that knowledge does not translate into rational behavior;
-the entire encounter is overwhelmingly seductive;
-the moment they are gone again, you look at yourself in the mirror again and ask: "Why did I do that...again?"

If all of the above makes completely rational sense to you, I am sorry because none of the above will do you any good since this is not and never was a rational relationship.

You have several choices: Don't take the phone call, no really, don't take the call. I know, I know but the other option is to store up better emotional bandages than you had back then and carve out some time in our life for yet another emotional recovery. Its always a balance between the chaos in your life after she is gone and the junkie release you get while he is there.

For those who find this scenario way too familiar; my deepest, most insightful clinical advice is: Run Away!

Please pay the receptionist on the way out, remember I have a therapist who costs me a lot more than I charge you. And good night Barbie, wherever you are.

Movies of My Life

 “You can map your life through your favorite movies, and no two people's maps will be the same.” - - - - - - - - Mary Schmich

To enjoy this little motion picture distraction, it helps to have been raised in a movie saturated culture with the means and leisure to indulge such celluloid fantasies. But I will leave the sociological observations at that and wander down my own particular Movies of My Life.

A couple of disclosures: I was not a movie fan as a kid, it just wasn't something that interested me. In high school movies were for dates and the object of the date was not primarily to enjoy the movie. I do remember in the summer before my senior year in high school going to the art theatre in Ann Arbor to see
David and Lisa. I remember this because we had to leave early, the guy I was double dating with thought people speaking in poetry was .... well not something he understood. It was several years before I saw the movie again and remembered how different the use of cinema had been in that picture. Twas my first introduction to movie as art.

My further disclosures: Dialogue is paramount for me, followed by images and music. There just
aren't enough stories to really make a difference. You know: the Hero, the Jesus story, Buddies films etc. I also am not a big actor and actress fan. I dislike and avoid movies based on the cast a lot more often than I go to one because of an actor. Yes, I had my Woody Allen phase and Martin Scorsese is brilliant. Finally, I lived in L.A. for fifteen years (1975-1990) and more than willingly got into the movie mania of that city. Since L.A. I have drifted very far away from motion pictures, mostly due to cable television; the last seven pictures I have seen in a theatre are: 3 Lord of the Rings and 4 Harry Potters.

So then My List, in some sort of semi-chronological order or not:

David and Lisa (1963) because it was the first, even though I didn't get it for several years.

Fantasia (1940/seen by me in 1969) I am sure I saw this on television on a Sunday night Wonderful World of Disney before I got to see it on the big screen. I really don't know if the rumors about Uncle Walt doing LSD are true or not, but many, many tens of thousands of moviegoers equate Fantasia with some really awesome trips. Count me among them.

The Graduate (1967) One of the most significant Hollywood movies of its time and pictorial placeholder for the Boomer Generation. There was the whole Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack story. The Buck Henry screenplay and my first coyote-Mrs. Robinson. Plus the emergence of Dustin Hoffman was made even more stunning by his next film...

Midnight Cowboy (1969) If The Graduate was the dark side glossed over, then Midnight Cowboy was the dark side without edits and the Ratso character played by Hoffman stood in stark contrast to Benjamin Braddock from The Graduate. By the way, Midnight Cowboy was the first and only X-rated film to win the Oscar for best picture.

A Clockwork Orange (1971) The last X-rated film to be nominated for best picture. And yes "X" meant something very different 30+ years ago. Stanley Kubrick had come a long way from 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968. 2001 does not make my list, but I am not sure why not.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) With apologies to Johnny Depp, who I really like, but in this case the remake had no chance against the sheer brilliance of Gene Wilder in the original. Now that I look at my list it appears this may be the only "children's film" or fantasy to endure my personal test of time. Unless of course, you count the Lord of the Rings Trilogy which was brilliant even with the exaggeration of the war and violence plus the unfortunate loss of Tom Bombadil & Goldberry.

Harold and Maude (1971) The (year) on this list is when the movie was released, I am not really sure how many I saw when they first came out, probably most of them. Harold and Maude just had, well, Harold and Maude, and darkness and Cat Stevens before he found his faith.

La Grand Illusion (1937) OK, I am fairly sure I did not see this one when it first came out, but it was my first introduction to "foreign films" and I still remember the night in Cambridge where I saw this Jean Renoir classic.

Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) Knew nothing about it, saw it in Hermosa Beach with someone I love and with the RHPS onstage cast, whose name I cannot recall (the cast not the lover) and well it was at a late night, double feature picture show.

Annie Hall (1977) I moved this up from the "other" list. It was really a seminal film and deserves to be in my life changing list, even if it does not stand up to what Woody Allen has done to his reputation.

The Deer Hunter (1978) Was the second Vietnam film of 1978, the first was Coming Home with Jane Fonda. The Deer Hunter had DeNiro, Walken, Streep and Michael Cimino and was a break-through picture about how we as a society would deal with the destruction that Vietnam caused at home to those who served, those who opposed and every one who suffered the ultimate loss.

Welcome to L.A. (1978) The most profoundly affecting movie I have ever experienced. This is not a recommendation, as most people who have seen it, really hate it. But I had a unique experience with this film and it has stayed with me for thirty years. Cast includes: Sissy Spacek, Keith Carradine, Sally Kellerman, Geraldine Chaplin, Harvey Keitel, Lauren Hutton, Richard Baskin, Denver Pyle. Robert Altman produced the film.

Apocalypse Now (1979) This was my favorite movie ever the first time I saw it and has never left the top of my list in thirty years. The original version not the Director's Cut. The struggle between Coppola and Brando both on and off the screen created this epic film about war on the other side of the universe.

Raging Bull (1980) Yes indeed this may be technically the best picture ever made. I loved it the first time I saw it and have never been able to sit through it again.

Reds (1981) A film that defined my primary relationship of the 80's. Again a story for another blog.

Blade Runner (1982/1997) In this case the classic film is much better in the Director's Cut, but either version is head and shoulders above any other near post apocalypse movie. The darkness and the rain just lock you into the lowest vision of humanity.

The Big Chill (1983) Yes, true movie snobs know that The Return of the Secaucus Seven is the more radical and militant version but the Big Chill struck a perfect note in the late sixties edition of my generation. Also many of my friends from the 70s & 80s claim the William Hurt character is me, an observation that I protest and resemble.

The Hunger (1983) and White Palace (1990) and The Tempest (1982) and Atlantic City (1980) and, of course, The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). You do know who these films have in common right? Of these, the sleeper is The Hunger with one of the most erotic scenes ever filmed.

Brazil (1985) Terry Gilliam's masterpiece. You love it or you hate it. I would have no problem if Time Bandits or the Life of Brian was more to your taste.

Dreams (1990) I did see this one on opening day, in fact, I saw the first showing in Los Angeles by complete seredipity. Still one of those "days to remember" with Jimmy & Audrey but that is another blog for another day. Akira Kurosawa directed, wrote and dreamt the film. I don't know how it holds up today, I have never wanted to see it again; don't want that memory disturbed in any way.

Notting Hill (1999/seen my me in 2006) I know-what the fuck is this doing on my list?! Well other than delivering one of my favorite movie lines ever: "What is love without a violin playing goat." This movie also defines another of my ill-starred relationships with just a girl.


The Hustler (1961)
A Thousand Clowns (1965)
King of Hearts (1966)
Bonnie & Clyde (1967)
The Lion in Winter (1968)
The Wild Bunch (1969)
M*A*S*H (1970)
Straw Dogs (1971)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
The Last Waltz (1978)
Das Boot (1981)
Koyaanisqatsi (1982)
Star 80 (1983)
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
Jean de Florette (1986)
Raising Arizona (1987)
Mindwalk (1990)
Philadelphia (1993)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Fargo (1996)
The Big Lebowski (1998)
The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
The Two Towers (2002)
The Return of the King (2003)
Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)

I reserve the right to add additional films in the future, particularly if they wake me in the middle of the night with a Doh!

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It... What the _______!

[Content Disclosure: 9% Poker; 87% Las Vegas; 65% End of Days Weather Report]

That is a shot of the famous Luxor pyramid on the Las Vegas Strip and yes that is snow. A lot of snow. Over four inches fell yesterday and virtually brought the desert city of Las Vegas to a standstill. Its been thirty years since this much of the white stuff fell here and today we are getting a slow melt because temperatures remain a good 15 degrees below average. We actually are having below freezing numbers over night. I won't go on about warm weather citizens not knowing how to drive in snow and ice because no one is actually from Las Vegas. But it was a strange day yesterday, the view from my balcony was one I have seen hundreds of times in my life but I had to keep reminding myself that this is the desert and I didn't have gloves and boots sitting by the front door.

I-15 South into California remains closed today, so my trip to San Francisco will wait a few more days, the plan now is to holiday over in Sonoma and San Francisco and then come back here for a final pack and ship before I move once again.

My favorite poker player remains in the hunt at Bellagio in the Doyle Brunson Classic, so I may hop up there today to root for Mike and to visit with the surviving media gang.

Purposeful Meandering

[Content Disclosure: more of that "What comes next?" stuff.]

Sweeping cobwebs from the edges of my mind
Had to get away to see what we could find

Hope the days that lie ahead

Bring us back to where they've led

Listen up to what's been said to you

I have been thinking a bit about new paths and how a new direction also means you must leave others behind. So many choices and so few feet to place on the path, which reminded me of something my Aunt Alice used to say when we would be driving around in Detroit. "Just because you want to go around the block; doesn't mean the block goes around." You never get back to where you started, you never can put your foot back in the stream at the same place. Times passes, things change but what you can do is pay attention to what is flickering just on the edges of your mind, your heart or your soul.

Since putting my last project to bed, I have been mulling about with what comes next. Spent a fair amount of time yesterday researching collaborative writing and another intriguing topic that I won't leak quite yet, don't want someone getting a book proposal out before me. But clearly tis the season.

It really is not so much the road less traveled that interests me these days but more the road I have not traveled or maybe those I have and don't care to get caught in a cul-de-sac again. Maybe I should have used The Who here but one oldies reference per post seemed a parsimonious precedent.

Listen up to what's been said.

Would you know we're riding on the Marrakesh Express
Would you know we're riding
on the Marrakesh Express
They're taking me to Marrakesh
All on board that train

Graham Nash

Poker & Life; Life & Poker

[Content Disclosure: 53% Poker; 41% Life; 12% The Future; add 1 Star Anise, 3 Red Peppercorns, a dash of Nutmeg and well you get the drift... don't forget to simmer and skim]

Heedless to say, a lot of my life for the past four years has revolved around poker. I have lived in Las Vegas for over two years but I write more about poker than I play, which does not mean that I don't spend a lot on "non-work" time with all things poker rattling around in my head. I have considered recently that I might well take some of my own medicine.

When the Poker Shrink sees clients, his first question is always the same: "Is your life affecting your poker or is your poker affecting your life?"

My life does not affect my poker because despite the fact that I live in Las Vegas, I actually do not spend much time at the tables. I have learned from several years of tournament reporting that the professional poker players are playing at a level that most intermediate players cannot even comprehend. I have watched dozens of great poker players for hour upon hour and I can tell you they are playing a game that most semi-serious poker fans could not even understand. No my poker is not affected by my life, my poker is a hobby, it's research to understand on some level what the truly gifted players are doing at the table.

On the other hand, poker has indeed been affecting my life. I have over fifty daily Google searches focused on the minutiae of poker. I read dozens of poker blogs from around the world. Yesterday, the girl behind the counter at the sub shoppe asked me if: "I wanted chips?" I thought she was offering to sell me a rack of blues.

So it would appear that it is time for a change. I am nearly set on taking a sabbatical to the Sonoma Valley in Northern California until the World Series late in May. The Matusow book will be coming out just before the WSOP, so I expect we will be engaged in publicity and promotion during that time, here in Vegas.

But for now, some uninterrupted time would give me space to get a fast start on my next writing project. Now all I have to do is to pick which project to engage. I have nine on the back burner right now, yep nine books or screenplays awaiting my time and energy. Only three of them have a poker angle. Which do I chose - which do I have the energy and the passion for? Anyone got a dart?

Run Good, Run Better, Then Stroll a Bit

[Content Disclosure: 100% Poker]

The third and final qualifying round of play in the PokerListings Run Good Challenge was played yesterday. I managed to add more points to my total but missed the money when I pushed to end all the qualifying drama against yesterday's eventual winner, Kid Dynamite. Mostly I was simply trying to end his diatribe of rap lyrics but in the process, his departure would also have meant all the qualifiers for next week's Grand Finale would have been set. Unfortunately his tiny set overwhelmed my big ace.

Final results for the December Nine are as follows:

Poker Shrink20 points (clearly the dominant player)
Amy Calistri13 points (nit)
Luckbox13 points (name says it all)
Change10012 points (reigning champion)
Michele Lewis11 points (cougar)
Benjo11 points (frog)
Matt Showell9 points (PokerListings ringer)
Spaceman9 points* (loser in playoff last time)
Kid Dynamite9 points* (lag maniac)
Dr. Pauly9 points* (worldwide threat)

*In playoff for final two spots

The whole thing gets settled next Saturday with $2800 up for grabs. For those poker bloggers who missed this version 2.0 of the Run Good Challenge. There is a 3.0 on the way, just contact Matt.

Poker Stars Blogger Tournament

Online PokerI have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!
The WBCOOP is an online Poker tournament open to all Bloggers.
Registration code: 347571

Another Road to Travel

[Content Disclosure: 44% Poker; 56% Life, 72% Changes]

Once again my life is changing. My run with Party Gaming has come to an end, which means I no longer have a steady income from my poker writing. The Party gig, particularly at Poker Blog, was really a great opportunity but the whole worldwide financial crisis just caught up with them and me. Good people to work with, many thanks for the several years of space and freedom to write about all things poker.

This change means that I no longer "need" to live in Las Vegas. I am leaving for a often delayed vacation in a few days and will be exploring several relocation options whilst I am away. I suspect that the end of January would be a good decision point. Will let you know where I am and where I am and where I might be.

One benefit for those who like reading this blog. I will be posting a lot more here and dipping into my "KYHiAtG" folder for some of yet to be birthed musings & mullings. Clearly, more soon on what comes next.

Run Good, Run Better, Run O.K.

[Content Disclosure: 100% Poker; 62% more well deserved gloating...]

Well week two of the PokerListings Run Good Challenge is in the books. There are several important factoids to report:

*only one player has managed to score a money win each of the first two weeks; I Run Good!
*five of the eight blogger spots are locks after week two; joining me, the points leader, on the safe list are Amy, Michelle, Benjo and LuckBox.
*there will be a wild scramble for the remaining three open spots with Change100 holding a dominating position among the also-rans.
*Matt Showell will once again not qualify as the PokerListings representative, which means congratulations to Dan Skolovy. (OK, technically Matt could make it if he wins next week and Dan dies of turkey poisoning.)
*Liz Lieu cannot play poker that early in the morning; at least not after another night out at Thunder Down Under!
*In response to several complaints about my perhaps unintended subtlety: I finished third in week two, which makes my point total from the first two rounds a lock for the finale in week four. So this Saturday I will be freerolling from somewhere on the road.

Run Good, Run Better, Run Best

[Content Disclosure: 99.44% Poker; 24% Personal Gloating; 12% Glee]

The second addition of the Pokerlistings Run Good Poker Challenge is underway. Same format as last time around with three qualifying events leading up to the grand finale.

This time, however, it appears that skill rather than luck and blatant bad play will dominate the event. After several grueling hours of intense, high-level poker the first event ended with the truly quality players making it through to the classic three handed finals. With all of the money on the line the truly accomplished Michelle Lewis played with skill and aplomb to take down a well deserved third place. Amy Calistri showed her daring and confident game to battle mightily only to fall in the end and take home the cash for second position. Nicely done ladies!

However, no one could have been expected to overcome the truly deft and seasoned play of the eventual winner. The true class of this event managed to control the play and assert his skill and poker knowledge to a degree not seen in many a tournament. Shall we ever see in our time, so much dexterity and finesse applied so cunningly to the game of poker?

About the only analysis that can be made of this dominating victory is simply that when you get so many big cards, it really takes nearly no skill at all to win. Yes, my fair readers with aces coming out of my pockets and suckouts galore; I have finally scored in the Run Good Challenge and not only put some cash in my depleted account but I also find myself on top of the RGC leaderboard. If only we could freeze this moment in time before I revert to donkeydom next week.

Ah, for one brief shining moment that was Riversalot.

For more about me, see: Dr. Pauly, Spaceman, Donkey Dan, Benjo, Amy and Short-Stacked Shamus.

Round Two preview.

Sincerely Sin City

[Content Disclosure: 34% Poker & Casinos; 55% Life in Las Vegas; 26% Dark Underside of Life; 9% All of the Above]

No I am not Leaving Las Vegas, in any sense of the phrase, at least not yet. But I do hear often from friends about living here. Some won't even visit because of the dark energy of Sin City. So, how is it really? You might ask.

Well those who know me well, understand that I can stand in the middle of loud noisy crowds and be mostly unaffected. I don't have a problem with the proximity of greed, avarice, depravity or lust. About the only thing that really bothers me is being in the ongoing presence of stupidity. But Vegas does present some challenges.

First, this is a city like any other city. You can get dry cleaning done or your muffler fixed (No, that is not a sexual reference). People have normal lives here, even when 8 hours of your day might be working in a casino. But it is also true that the excesses that bring visitors to Las Vegas, do come up on a regular basis when you do the job I do.

I often leave casinos alone, well after midnight. A single, middle-aged man, who dresses normally and is in a casino alone late at night or very early in the morning does get propositioned. To deflect the lovely ladies of the evening I go with my standard response: "Why thank you Miss, but I am much too tired this morning to truly enjoy the company of someone so fetching as yourself."

Practice that line a couple of times, until it rolls smoothly off the tongue and it works wonders with out implying insult or superiority.

Now I am not suggesting that Las Vegas does not wallow in excess. It clearly does but I am a bit of a teflon shield when it comes to becoming deeply mired in the muck. Not so some of my friends, who also trod the land of glitter as writers. Should you truly wish to experience a glimpse into the dark side of my current hometown. I would like to highly recommend two blog posts from my friend and darkside resident Dr. Pauly Mcguire.

I am particularly fond of these two offerings from the Dark Doctor, as I have spent some time myself at the "Hooker Bar" he inhabits in the first piece. All the poker media have, as this is the closet libational emporium to the convention rooms at the Rio where they hold the World Series of Poker. But Pauly brings that place to life or something that resembles life.

The second piece reflects on the underside of Las Vegas, that anyone who stays up long enough is likely to encounter. I recommend both articles highly but suggest you keep a light on while you read.

1. Existentialist Conversations with Hookers: Malestrom at the Hooker Bar

2. Emissaries from the Land of Indulgence

Poker Shrink Radio Appearance

[Content Disclosure: 100% Poker; 92% Shameless Self Promotion]

I am making one of my infrequent internet radio appearances this week on Lou Krieger's Keep Flopping Aces on Rounder's Radio. The show airs live at 9 PM EST on Thursday. You can also catch an audio replay anytime after by going to Lou's archives on the Rounder's Radio site.

We are obviously going to be talking about "the book" as Amy and I approach our delivery date next week. I also want to talk with Lou about some of the things I saw at the World Series this year; some interesting incidents that were reported in the media very differently than how I saw them. In particular, I will be talking about the Scotty Nguyen H.O.R.S.E. coverage and the Phil Hellmuth penalty/non-penalty on Day Five of the main event.

Remember, 6 PM Thursday night for all of my left coast friends and for those of you in Australia, well you know how that works, I think the show is already over.... How was I?

Some Thoughts on Therapy

One of my oldest and dearest friends is in therapy, an endeavor I would never have thought he would undertake. But times change and losses happen. He called me last week to have a conversation about his therapy and after we were done, he suggested that I should put what I told him in my blog. I thought about that for awhile and since I am not actually giving anyone specific clinical advice, I guess I will share my thoughts on therapy.

As a professional disclosure, I do have a degree in psychology and while I am not in an established clinical practice, I do have several clients, most of whom are professional poker players. If any of my clients read this, I am confident what I say here is consistent with my therapeutic style.

Let's call my friend, Jeff. Of course, not his real name. Let's not call his ex-wife anything. I never really liked her but she is not the source of Jeff's problem; as always, life is the problem. Jeff went into therapy about a year and a half ago with a specific issue to resolve and is currently a bit unsatisfied with the course of the therapy. This is what prompted the phone call to me.

I should say to those who are not familiar with psychology in general, that there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of different forms of therapy; practiced by individuals across a wide spectrum of clinical modalities and belief systems. Meaning--it ain't all the same. But in Jeff's case, we are talking about a fairly standard form of "talk therapy", where the client sees the therapist once a week for a 50 minute hour and talks about their life, the situation and/or the problem.

The goal of such therapy is to uncover the various aspects of the client's problem or issue or whatever we, he or she wants to label it and to provide the client with tools to solve, resolve, move past or "fix" it. This form of therapy is essentially a dialog between the therapist and the client. Here is where Jeff's therapy got off track, in my not so humble opinion.

Intelligent people who enter therapy often need a period of time to simply vent. Usually followed by details of the issue and a good deal of background about how and why they got to the place they are now unsatisfied with. This process of getting it out and mulling it all over out loud can and should take some time. Let's arbitrarily say this process might take three months; sometimes longer, sometimes shorter but let's go with three months. Several issues now arise, not the least of which is that you or your insurance company are paying the therapist to sit there for these sessions. Quite frankly, a therapist is not motivated financially move the process along because once you get what you need, you stop coming to therapy and you must be replaced with a new client. Sorry, but money is a factor in what should be a completely caring, healing process. Yes, life sucks or at least someone gets a bill for it.

Now the therapist has some kind of training, usually at least a Masters degree in clinical psychology and probably, depending on local laws, some training in actually conducting therapy sessions. They also will have some frame of reference, some philosophy for his or her work. All too often that therapeutic frame is simply a continuation of the talk process. I do not believe this is helpful to the client in most circumstances and, in fact, it creates a dependency in many clients that does not lead to resolution of their issue. Very quickly the weekly visits can become very comforting. You get to go to a safe place and talk to someone about your life and they are completely and uncritically willing to listen. All nice and warm and fuzzy.

Now, if you treated your job like this you would soon be unemployed. You don't deeply ponder an issue for an indeterminate period of time, not if you want to keep collecting that paycheck. Action is called for and at some point in the therapy process, there needs to be a call to action. It is the therapist's responsibility to make that completely clear to the client. Once you have gotten your issue or issues on the table and once you have explored the depths and shallows of that issue; well, then it is time to do something about it.

You see we come to therapy because of some discomfort in our life. If you went to see your doctor, you would not be surprised if the conversation turned to the subject of disease. Well, that should happen in psychological therapy as well. Just take the word apart. Dis-ease. Not at ease. Something is wrong, is that not why you went looking for some help? The therapist should be always working towards the goal of the elimination or transformation of dis-ease.

Unfortunately, talk therapy can become very, very comfortable. Those weekly sessions become something you look forward to and they should not be. You are attempting, I hope, to resolve some issue in your life and to move on; to get back on course; to solve or resolve the issue. But instead you get stuck in the cycle of talking about it. That is the failure of the therapist. At some point, there needs to be a goal oriented conversation initiated by the professional in the therapeutic relationship. What is it that you are hoping to accomplish and what skills or tasks can the trained professional present to you to accomplish those goals?

At this point, therapy should not be comfortable. You probably will not look forward to those weekly sessions and you won't be doing all the talking. There will be questions, there may be assignments, there should be progress and in most cases there will be discomfort, anxiety and often tears.

If this type of interaction is not happening in the therapy setting, then you are simply paying someone to listen to you. Get a dog or better yet talk with an honest, caring friend; someone who knows something about life, which is precisely what a trained therapist should be in the first place.

Jennifer Harman and Cat Condo Conversions

[Content Disclosure: Big Felines 68%, Small Kitties 22%, Charity 33%, Poker 7%, SPCA 89%]

My good friend Matty is in town again and as is our ritual, we met in front of the MGM Lion Habitat and then went over to the SPCA Shelter to visit the Cat Condos. Our first surprise was that Gino and Belladonna were the afternoon residents at MGM. We actually got to meet and touch those two about a year ago when they were tiny cubs. Here is a picture of me with Belladonna, she is about 150 pounds heavier now.

After visiting with the big kitties, Matt and I went over the the SPCA No-Kill shelter and were horribly disappointed to discover the Cat Condos were closed for renovation. My fault, I know they have to completely redo that section of the shelter every year or so and I just didn't think to check the website. We did manage to run into some of the great staff and were told that these are hard times for many pet owners with the financial crisis and in particular the ever mounting foreclosures in the area. Many more pet owners have had to surrender their pets because of lost homes and pet restrictions on their new residences. But on the bright side, we also were told that the SPCA is able to handle this influx of animals mostly because of the money raised this past year by the Jennifer Harman Charity Poker Tournament.

So here is another hats off to Jennifer and all those who volunteered their time and energy to that worthy project. And once more a reminder that you can make a donation to the SPCA No-Kill Shelter right here. And details of next year's charity event will be posted as soon as we have them.

White Racial Politics

[Content Disclosure: 78% Politics; 59% Race; 0% Poker]

After every election we hear about which "groups" put which candidate over the top. Or which groups "won" the election for someone or another. Well there is one group that doesn't get talked about much in this manner, that would be the white voters. Caucasian has been the majority or at least the presumed majority in the United States for as long as any one alive today can remember. Clearly, the times they are a changin'.

Deep down many people were concerned that quiet racism would, if not elect John McCain, at least make the election close enough for everyone to notice. Many feared the quiet voter who did not respond to the pre-election polls or even lied about their little white secret. The fear was that once in the voting booth, they would always and forever pull the white lever.

Well, it didn't happen...... or did it?

Among all white voters in the 2008 Presidential election the tally is: Obama 43% McCain 55%.

Whether you are a glass of milk half empty or half full type of person, there is other good or bad news.

The 43% of white voters is the highest the democratic candidate for president has gotten in over twenty years. So it may be less about color and more about conservative leanings. Not to dismiss reactionary voting against change as having a racial component.

The better news. When you drop out white voters over 65 years of age; Obama wins the white vote. It does seem that the younger you are, the less likely you will fear or dislike someone based on melatonin levels.

Some "Other" Political Thoughts

[Content Disclosure: 0% Poker; 23% Politics; 44% not so famous quotes; 37.2% a certain political theme; 13% Whimsy]

"The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority." -- Ralph W. Sockman

"I am a man of fixed and unbending principles, the first of which is to be flexible at all times."-- Senator Everett Dirksen

"You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common, they don't alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit the views, which can be uncomfortable, if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering."-- Doctor Who

"A sect or party is an elegant incognito devised to save a man from the vexation of thinking."-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Nothing can so alienate a voter from the political system as backing a winning candidate." -- Mark B. Cohen

"Democracy is being allowed to vote for the candidate you dislike least." --Robert Byrne

"A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel." -- Robert Frost

"Numerous politicians have seized absolute power and muzzled the press. Never in history has the press seized absolute power and muzzled the politicians.-- David Brinkley

"If I seem to take part in politics, it is only because politics encircles us today like the coil of a snake from which one cannot get out, no matter how much one tries. I wish therefore to wrestle with the snake."
-- Mohandas Gandhi

"Majority rule only works if you're also considering individual rights. Because you can't have five wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for supper."-- Larry Flynt

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."-- Winston Churchill

"We need a president who's fluent in at least one language."
-- Buck Henry

"It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it."-- Eugene Debs

"I didn't say I wouldn't go into ghetto areas. I've been in many of them and to some extent I would say this; if you've seen one city slum, you've seen them all." -- Spiro T. Agnew, Republican vice-president and prison inmate

"We'd all like to vote for the best man but he's never a candidate."
--Kin Hubbard.

"I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy - but that could change." -- Dan Quayle

If you label something whimsy, is it still? --Me

Early Voting

[Content Disclosure: 0% Poker, 12% Politics, 45% Local Governmental Services, 67% A Good Idea]

This is the first (presidential) year I have lived in a jurisdiction that allows early voting. I currently vote in Clark County, which includes the first and third largest cities in Nevada (Las Vegas & Henderson; Reno is second). In 2004 just over 80% of registered voters went to the polls in the fall election cycle. Because of early voting almost half of those voters voted early. The rounded figures were: 10% absentee ballots, 40% election day votes, 50% early voting.

Here in Clark County there are eight permanent early voting facilities, most of them in shopping malls. They also have eight mobile teams that moved from site to site each day to set up voting areas at either the normal election day sites or in large grocery stores. It is simply too convenient not to early vote; unless you are still undecided, which actually means you should really not be off your medication.

The early voting here goes on through Friday. They take Saturday, Sunday and Monday to prepare for election day and then everyone gets their last chance, just like the rest of the country, next Tuesday. By comparison: in 2004 just over 271,000 early votes were cast in Clark County. The total on Monday of this week for 2008 was just over 250,000 with four days remaining in the early voting period. Looks like more voters will turn out in '08 than in '04 here, but isn't that expected just about everywhere this year. I mean what would you expect with What's His Name and Who JaMa CallIt running. OK, OK, one political rant per year.

Finally, I am now ready to give my election day prediction. I predict that when you all wake up on Wednesday morning and turn on the early morning talk shows, you will notice the complete lack of advertisements with one nasty asshole calling the other nasty asshole a lying whore. Ah, I will miss the political season; I do so like gilding golden rod and stepping on eternal cockroaches.

P.S. By the way, if you live in a state that does not have early voting, you do realize that a significant portion of your population has been disenfranchised by the more liberal voting laws in states with early voting. Shouldn't someone do something about this inequity? While the logical thing would be to allow early voting in all states, in fact, three lawsuits have been filed in federal court to prevent early voting in any state. We do so like to ban and prevent rather than enfranchise and accommodate.

P.S. #2: The early vote in Nevada (550,000+) was higher than the total vote in 2004.

Quadrennial Political Rant

In America, through pressure of conformity, there is freedom of choice, but nothing to choose from.  -- Peter Ustinov

Thus begins my quadrennial political plea to my friends far and near. In this election, for the first time, I will be able to reach each of you directly via this blog. Also in the past four to eight years I have substantially increased my acquaintances on the right side of the political coin. So my old and true liberal friends will be not be less offended than in past years but at least they will not be alone in shaking their manes at my now thirty-two years of clear political naiveté. Yes, my friends, it has been now nine presidential elections since I first began making the same point I once again put forward to you today.

The two party system in the United States is broken; has been broken and will remain broken until reasonable, thoughtful voters like you take it upon yourself to stop swallowing the patently absurd notion that what Party A offers you is substantively different than what Party B offers.

The litany remains the same:

They both raise your taxes, increase the national debt and spend/waste more of your money. There is no “tax and spend” party. There is no “party of the people”. A belief in such epitaphs is not voter involvement; it is simple being complicit in your own brainwashing.

The Federal Budget never goes down, even adjusted for inflation. Therefore, both parties believe in big government. The very nature of being in power is to maintain power. The appropriation process with its earmarks, pork and special orders is structured to keep legislators in office. The budget process is big government, its use and perversion is the life blood of all federal elected offices including those in congress, who are charged with its oversight. The system is perverted beyond saving.

They both believe in welfare. One believes in it for big corporations, the other for disadvantaged citizens and big corporations. Your only decision is not whether you are for or against handouts, but which handouts you are for.

They both are in the pocket of multi-national businesses and these days they are bought via the campaign contribution laws and loopholes by these same businesses. Every purchase you make in this economy has a tax added to pay for lobbyists in Washington. Lobbyists who may be advocating for programs and policies you say you are against.

Neither has done anything about energy, health care or education. We had gas lines over twenty years ago, yet overall fuel mileage on American made vehicles is less than it was after the first “oil shortage”. Health care costs have gone up 150% faster than the rest of the economy in those same twenty years and insurance coverage has gone down as a percentage of the total health care bill. I have no children and therefore assume most or all of you are better able to draw conclusions on the educational system.

They both wage war. And they both continue to wage wars started by the other party. Since JFK handed Vietnam to Johnson and he passed it on to Nixon, there has been this insane policy of making decisions about war and death based on some unwritten rule that you can’t just reverse the insane warmongering of a previous administration because what would that mean for future presidents powers to maim foreign nationals. Like making them believe they might be held responsible for killing thousands and destroying entire cultures would be a bad thing.

Now you are perfectly right in your righteous indignation about the “other” party. Only I have noticed that just like every other election that 40% of the voters when they listen to the debate do not hear the words or issues but hear instead what will support their guy and condemn the other guy. Another 40% do exactly the same thing on the other side. These are not the actions of a thoughtful electorate but of sheep. By the way the book, A Nation of Sheep by William Lederer, was published in 1967, he also wrote The Ugly American.

People do not vote “for” a candidate, they vote “against” the other guy. After the final debate both Fox and CNN ran a long segment of voicemail responses to the candidate’s performance. I counted 18 callers, all of whom said something negative about the other guy. No one, not one, had a positive thing to say about their candidate. Is this really the result of negative campaigning? Or are the voters so stuck in the two party paradigm that they honestly believe the dichotomy of the two party prison.

So once again let me say. The only reasoned, rational solution is to vote for a third party. Only when tweedle-dumb or tweedle-dumber is elected with less than 40% of the popular vote will who cares & don’t care get the message that the voters actually are upset with same old, same old, same old crap. Haven’t you had enough of this yet?

Now, let me speak to each side separately. To my liberal friends. Yes, I know this guy really excites you, just like Slick Willy did. So I know you are not going to listen—again. But in four years when you are making up excuses for why with a “friendly” congress, nothing still has been done. Perhaps then? You really think that big business will allow congress to shift tax supports from big oil to wind or solar? Well maybe in 2012 you will give my position a fair hearing. I don’t really expect you to not vote for Barack this time, I mean there is a war on right? Need I point out, we had a war too. You do remember Vietnam? Or for my younger liberal friends—Lebanon, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq.

For my new conservative friends and most of my immediate family. Eight years ago it was you making the “we can’t have four more years of this” argument. Gore was just another Clinton to you. We needed change right? Well guess what. Not only have you had eight years of the White House but the guy is a functional moron. Come on does W. not embarrass you more than Bill’s blowjob? Quite frankly the third party candidates on your side of the ocean are by and large better equipped to actually hold power. Take a look; there have been some very reasonable third party challenges from the right. Well guess what, your guy this time around is quite frankly a vicious, vindictive bastard. His political allies in the Senate have told everyone this but, as usual; no one listens because it’s either him or the other guy. But lo and behold! There actually are alternatives.

You actually do have a choice. A vote for a third party candidate is not throwing away your vote. Furthermore, if you would spend as much time talking to others about the third party option, spend as much time as you do convincing yourself that the choice you are being offered doesn’t actually turn your stomach, well then something might actually get done. Stand up to whichever party does not represent you; the one that takes you for granted; the one you vote for because they call the other guy names. Do you really want to be associated with the unmitigated lies when your guy “approves of this ad”?

Finally, I remind you of the line you have all heard from me at one time or another. ‘When you chose the lesser of two evils, you still get evil.’ I remind you that a rational, reasoning person like you will at some point admit to yourself that they truly do offer you only the choice between two immoral, incompetent evils. Change the system; change the future, vote for a third party candidate. There are more than two roads to the future and many of the alternatives have not been bought and paid for by people you detest.

Postscript: For those who have not received my Presidential Observations in previous election years. Let me assure you that the “tone” of my words do not indicate that I am “in a bad place” or “more cynical than you remember”. My political position has been firmly outside of the myopic two party system since 1968. My presentation has not varied because the system has not changed. Do rest assured that “they” are not more evil now, W. is not worse than Nixon and Barack only appears slightly better than Dukakis, Mondale or Hubert Horatio Humphrey. I wish you all a pleasant and peaceful fall. See you right here in four years, stuck in the same muck, tilting at the same windmills.

Healing Old World Wounds

[Content Disclosure: 0% Poker; 100% Pondering Existence]

"Sleeping or waking, we hear not the airy footsteps of things that might have been."

A few years ago a storm passed through my life. Twas not a random storm, I followed its path and it followed me. Slowly, after it had finally passed, I rebuilt and recovered. We all do that. We rationalize and temper; we forgive and forget; we go on. Wounds heal, memories fade. We also adjust our view of life and the world near and far. I behave differently today when hints of similar storms kiss the horizon. Do we protect ourselves from another turbulence or do we shake off the lingering memories and dance in the pelting rain again? Some things are easier to say than to do.

This past week that storm rumbled once again in the distance. It was as if a long tendril of the wildly spinning maelstrom had passed through me like a cold steel whip. Yet it was tantalizingly warm and stirring. I did not follow the attraction, I know the light and warmth are reflected from a painful and cruel place. In this respect I am saner now, but am I happier?

Thoughts on that Wall Street Thing

[Content Disclosure: 45% Economy; 32% Greed; 12% Criminal Greed; 6% Ayn Rand; 3% Journalism; 1% Poker]

Let me begin by saying that I am not a fan nor a follower of the philosophy of Ayn Rand. I did enjoy her books and recognized them for what they were and therefore what she was. However, she has some great quotes. This comes via The New York Times and methinks is apropos to all that noize you may or may not be following on MSNBC.

“The verdict you pronounce upon the source of your livelihood is the verdict you pronounce upon your life. If the source is corrupt, you have damned your own existence. Did you get your money by fraud? By pandering to men’s vices or men’s stupidity? By catering to fools, in the hope of getting more than your ability deserves? By lowering your standards? By doing work you despise for purchasers you scorn? If so, then your money won’t give you a moment’s or a penny’s worth of joy. Then all the things you buy will become, not a tribute to you, but a reproach; not an achievement, but a reminder of shame.

The NY Times op-ed piece was titled: Diagnosis: Greed and was, of course, about the machinations on Wall Street and in Washington, London, Bonn, Tokyo et. al. My only comment is that laying all of this economic mess at the feet of one of the seven deadly is much too lenient. There were and continue to be criminal failures by those in power on Wall Street, Main Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Like the dictators throughout the world, they will be deposed but not before that have transferred their stolen billions to a safe haven of their own creation. Here's hoping Ayn is right and they will suffer the pangs of guilt and remorse from the decks of their yachts.

Where Have You Gone Joe DiMaggio

[Content Disclosure: 32% Poker; 89% Life; 9% Time, Space, Mostly Time]

Even though I got up five posts here last month, I acknowledge that they were all about poker. The absolute truth about life is that the deadline for the book now looms over the world as I know it. On the positive side of the equation there has been a lot of progress in the past month or so. I am actually going to have two long sessions with Mike tomorrow and Tuesday to read him six complete chapters. Part of our process is to read Mike the final draft of each chapter to get his input and to pick up any missing pieces of the story. After we incorporate whatever we get from Mike this week, that will bring us to 13 complete, done, finished chapters. As soon as Mike returns from his next poker tournament in Niagara Falls, we will read the last 3 chapters to him and then we turn the beast over to the publisher and at some point begin the editing process with them.

My plan is to work a Bay Area trip into the interregnum between turning in the book and beginning the work with the editor. So, all things being equal and The Earthquake doesn't separate California, I hope to be in San Francisco and Sonoma for all or a major part of November. Bay area residents are duly given notice of my impending arrival.

Ladies Triumph in RunGood Challenge

[Content Disclosure: 99% Poker, 16% Sexist Gibberish]

I would be remiss and subject to severe pummeling if I did not acknowledge that of the 12 starters in the PokerListings RunGood Poker Blogger Challenge, there were 8 men, 3 women and Dan invited. After three weeks of preliminary competition, the field was down to three of each. But the final results show once again the superiority, strength, skill and guile of the stronger gender. Amy finished 3rd, Michelle took home runner-up honors and Kristin pocketed the big cash.

For the others of us, appropriate bowing and scraping has ensued.

Artistic Note: The final RunGood photo selection was not my choice, complaints should be sent to: mcpig@pokerlistings.com

Party Has Brand New Software

[Content Disclosure: 98% Poker, 8% Life, 3% Waiting for Barney]

As many of my loyal and all of my disloyal readers know, I write for several websites. My two biggest jobs are PokerBlog.com and the Beginner's Blog at OnlinePoker.com. These sites are operated by Party Gaming and in a strange twist of governmental bureaucracy, I cannot play poker on the Party Poker site. Since the 2006 passage of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act, U.S. based players cannot access Party Poker. Besides driving many of us a bit nutso over this strange act of governmental restriction on personal freedom, there is also the plain truth that for many poker players Party Poker was our favorite site.

Well here is the current good news/bad news for U.S. players and the good news/great news for every other poker player on the planet. First, there's new Party Poker software, which now makes the Party Poker site one of the most amazing player interfaces anywhere on the web. The tables are faster, more intuitive and just easier to use. The Party Poker lobby also has a new, completely updated design. Play is more fun for all the poker players with Party access. Great job tekkies!

On the other side of the coin, the U.S. Congress after nearly two long years has made its first move to quash the draconian restrictions of the UIGEA. Representative Barney Frank's House Finance Services Committee has reported out a piece of legislation, which begins the slow march back to full access for all U.S. poker players. Once this legislation works its painfully slow way through the legislative process, we will all have access again to the party at Party Poker.

Run Good, Run Bad and Walk Away

[Content Disclosure: 99% Poker, 1% whining]

The first RunGood challenge from the gang at PokerListings will have its grand finale next Saturday. I will be there cheering on some of my poker buddies but alas, it will be from the rail. I finished up a perfect 3 for 3 in goose eggs when I busted early in yesterday's third round of qualifying. To save me from the ignominy of reporting the disaster, anyone interested can read the report from Matt of PokerListings. Some big bucks will be on the line Saturday and I intend to be there for serious sideline harassment as would be appropriate for this great finale.

There is rumor of a second RunGood event coming later this year and I have been told there may be "Mercy Invitations" for those of us who played like guppies in this tournament. Thanks again to the Good Run staff at PokerListings for a fun series of events.

Another Saturday, Another Saturday

[Content Disclosure: 67% Poker, 54% Exceptionally Poor Poker, 3% Random Commentary on Life]

I want to thank the boyz at Poker Listings both for the RunGood tournaments and for the cool picture on the right. I like good pictures and I like well funded freerolls like the RunGood blogger tournament. Unfortunately, I seem to currently...

Hmmm, how to phrase this exactly...

Well, I guess it would be....


Yes, I believe that covers it. Fortunately, that means I get more free moments to continuing on the deadline for the Matusow book. I have a couple of ancillary interviews for the book this week, which should get me out of the writing cave.

Those Who Can't

[Content Disclosure: 111% Poker]

Those who can't do; teach.
Those who can't teach; manage.
Those who can't manage; well they can't manage.

I am not a big fan of slightly insulting aphorisms but today they apply to me. Besides listening to Mike's comments on chapters one to four; I also played two poker tournaments earlier today. The Run Good PokerListings Blogger Series began today. All you had to do was finish in the top six of twelve to earn some points towards the big finale. I didn't.

While I was there on PokerStars, I played the Saturdays with Pauly and managed to be near the top of the leaderboard for most of the tournament until my brain disengaged around the end of listening to Mike in chapter four. I know, I know, I know; when you play poker online you should pay attention. I know.

Those that can't play poker, write about poker.

Next Saturday, same donkey time, same donkey station.

Run good challenge

[Content Disclosure: 114% Poker, 66% Poker Tournament, 49% Poker Blogs & Poker Bloggers]

One of the perks of writing about poker is that esteemed poker bloggers get invited to play in esteemed poker events. OK, so they don't ask us to play in the World Series of Poker but we get a media event there and this year there were nice cash prizes to donate to you favorite charity. Now, however, PokerListings is running an elite poker bloggers tournament, rightfully named: the Run good challenge.

This month long series of tournaments will be played out over four Saturdays with three preliminary events and a final table playoff. The game and structure will change week to week. The aforementioned elite list of esteemed bloggers will be:

Dr. Pauly
Michelle Lewis
Pokerati Dan
Kid Dynamite
Shortstacked Shamus
The Entities (A WickedChops conglomerate)
Poker Shrink (that would be me)
Lacey Jones (tentative)
Dan Skolovy (PokerListings ringer #1)
Matthew Showell (PokerListings ringer #2)

The PokerListings players are there for promotional purposes only, as they pose no actual threat to this elite lineup of esteemed poker bloggers. There are actually substantive cash prizes involved, so we may expect some semi-serious play from the one or two invitees capable of anything but donkey moves.

The whole spectacular kicks off on Poker Stars next Saturday, September 6th at 2 PM EDT. The multitude of rabid fans, avid readers and greedy family members are invited to stop by and harass the other players.