Archive for the ‘General’ Category
These days I spend a lot more time on my family and my corporate job than I do on poker. While a lot of poker players have zero interest in corporate life, there can be some cool benefits. One of them is I get to do some international travel. This past week I got to make a quick trick to Denmark. I attended a user group conference in Silkeborg, which is in central Denmark nowhere close to Copenhagen. I flew out of Denver on Monday night and back by Friday night. Not exactly a leisurely trip, but I had a lot of fun, learned a lot, and got to see some cool things.
The conference center I stayed at:
My room was in this building, which was supposedly built in the 1700’s although the inside is completely modern:
The food and drinks were awesome. Basically meat and potatoes and smoked fish. On the way home through Frankfurt I was able to grab some schnitzel which is on of my favorites.
After a 2 day conference it was time to go home. One of the interesting things about my job is I get to work and interact with people from all of the world, so I’ve been able to learn about the different business cultures. One thing I’ll comment on is that I like the way people in Northern Europe operate. They’re very friendly and polite, but also very direct. You know exactly what they are happy with and what things they are unhappy with. Its a pretty efficient way to do business.
Thursday night I headed back to Frankfurt and then Friday headed back to Denver on a 10+ hour flight……
Shanghai was the last stop on my almost 2 week trip. I was still pretty pumped up at this point and wasn’t tired from all of the travel.
Any fear I may have had of food with the head on it was long gone by this point.
This was “black chicken”. It was supposed to be a delicacy, but I ended up not trying it. The reason wasn’t because it was gross, but someone ordered it at the end of the meal and I was already stuffed. I still don’t understand why anyone would want the beaks and feet left on their food.
I’m not exactly a big fan of Chairman Mao, but I wanted to get my picture taken in front of his statue at the Bund.
One the more interesting experiences was eating at a Thai restaurant in Shanghai that had a teddy bear theme, and the option to “Build a Bear”. Teddy Bear Thai is a pretty bizarre restaurant concept, but the food was delicious.
An alley where you can reach up and grab the power lines if you want to:
I stayed at the Intercontinental, which was amazing. It was the equivalent of about 120 USD per night, and the quality was on par with a 6 star hotel I stayed at once in Aspen.
The only downside to the trip was trying to get the hell out of the Shanghai airport. Our flight got canceled and I ended up having to stay another night. Long story short the experience in the airport was very frustrating, and I ended up spending 3 hours in line to get another flight. Then the next morning when I came back it turned out I didn’t really have another flight and I spend about another 4 hours in lines until I could get out. If you thought United was bad in the US, you should try United in China……
After Singapore we flew to Hong Kong. Luckily we had a weekend to spend there so I got to see more sights than I did in Singapore. While business travel can take you to some cool cities, the problem is you spend most of your time in office buildings and hotels and only see sights from a distance out of a cab window. The trip was pretty smooth except for the cab driver taking us to the wrong place on the way from the airport to the hotel. He were on some very sketchy looking side streets and I was starting to get concerned we were going to get robbed or something. Then he turned a corner and brought us in front of a nice hotel. The problem was it wasn’t the right hotel. The cab driver didn’t speak English and we didn’t speak Chinese so we had a hard time convincing him it wasn’t the right place. Fortunately a lady form the hotel came out and she did speak English so she was able to translate and tell the driver where we needed to go. Of course he then proceeded to argue with her and it looked like we were going to have to get and there and pick up another cab. She eventually convinced him and we made it to our hotel. We dropped our stuff at the hotel and headed out.
My family wanted to me to bring some stuff back, so we started out at Stanley Market to do some shopping and then grabbed dinner.
There was a nice little beach area next to the market.
The person I was travelling with had a friend from grad school who lives in Hong Kong. It was cool to have a local to help show us around. She took us to a restaurant for hot pot. I had never heard of that before but it ended up being delicious. Its kind of like fondue but with meat and shrimp and noodles and other stuff. No one there spoke English and the menu was all in Chinese and didn’t have pictures, so there was no way we could have eaten there with a local.
The next day we took a huge cable car to the giant Buddha. The sign said the it was a 60 minute wait but we decided to go for it anyway. They were a little bit off on their timing and it ended up taking 2 1/2 hours Needless to say I was pretty unhappy. They even did the Disney style thing with the line where it looks like you’re almost there and then you turn a corner and there is another massive line. Some of the signs were pretty funny though. No livestock permitted on the cable car…..
The cable car ride was about 30 minutes, and it had some absolutely huge spans between the supports.
It was worth the wait though, the Buddha was pretty amazing:
Every religion is required to have a donation box. But I think if they really wanted apples they would have made the slot bigger.
Hong Kong at night. We checked out the waterfront and had an awesome steak dinner at Morton’s.
Had to check out the Walk of Fame and the Bruce Lee statue!
Then went to the night market to buy more stuff for my kids. Also had to pick up a Mao/Obama shirt for my Dad to tilt him a little.
Did a little bar hopping as well:
Obviously I didn’t take pictures of the business meetings, but they went well and I learned a lot. I have one more part for this trip report, which will be Shanghai.
This report is a little overdue, I actually took this trip in October. But I guess late is better than never….. I got to travel to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Shanghai for work. Altogether it was almost a 2 week trip. I had never been to Asia before so I was obviously pretty excited about it. This first part is just going to cover Singapore.
Getting to Singapore is a pretty long trip. First I had to go from Denver to San Francisco which isn’t too bad. The next leg from to Hong Kong, which was a 14 hour flight. When I booked the trip I had window seats the whole way. As I was boarding I realized they had stuck me in a middle seat. The realization that I was going to spend 14 hours in a coach middle seat on a full flight was a pretty big soul crush. It turns out my company’s travel software lets you pick seats, but that info never registers with the airline. That’s pretty retarded, but I guess I know for next time. Fortunately I was seated to 2 small people and I had a neck pillow so it wasn’t a big deal. After a short layover it took another couple hour flight to make it the rest of the way to Singapore. I think the total travel from my house to the hotel was over 24 hours. Yikes!
One of the advantages of corporate travel is they tend to put you up in nice places. I stayed in the Pan Pacific. Someone I didn’t know about Asia is they like to have the shower visible from the bed. This came in handy because I could watch the World Series at 9am while in the shower. But I’m pretty sure that isn’t the intended purpose of the open shower. I guess you can lay in bed while watching your woman wash her mysterious lady parts. That’s seems kind of weird, but whatever turns people on I guess……
One of the great things about this trip was in every city we met up with a local person from the company. They all wanted to take us to their favorite local places to eat, so we were able to get well out of the business and tourist areas. Singapore is known for its food and I got the chance to try their pepper crab and chili crab:
The only problem for me is I’ve had stomach problems since I was a teenager, so if I eat anything remotely spicy I can have issues. I enjoyed the meal but I woke up that nice with some pretty vicious heartburn.
I’m not going to go into detail about the business meetings, but I learned a lot and met some interesting people. There wasn’t really any time to do touristy stuff, although we did take a stroll through China town and another part of the city. Next time I go back I hope to get a chance to stop at some of the museums. I’m a huge history buff and would have loved to check out some of the WWII exhibits. I did walk past this memorial, but that was about it:
On the next post I’ll talk about Hong Kong.
I’ve got some interesting trips coming up this fall, which will hopefully make for some good blog posts. I’m not going to give away all of the destinations but the highlight will be Singapore. I’ve never been to Asia before so I’m really looking forward to this. It will be interesting to see how the trip over there goes. It is going to be extremely longggggg… My plan is to right some PLO8 articles on the plane. The longest leg of the trip is San Francisco to Hong Kong which is 14 hours in the air, so God knows there will be plenty of time for writing. This is a business trip so the sightseeing will pretty limited. But hopefully I’ll be able to get some good pictures.
Lately I started playing on Carbon Poker again. I did a cashout a month ago, but after the transaction still showing ‘pending’ and Carbon not responding to emails I figured I may as well cancel it and have some fun with my play money. I’m really disgusted at the state of online poker in the US and can’t wait for the day when we get regulation and I can play on MGM.com.
This last week we saw the final Space Shuttle launch. Its kind of sad for me because I grew up on the Space Coast and watched many launches. It was what inspired me originally to study engineering. While doing my undergrad I was an intern at Lockheed and got to work on the shuttle. I was in the group that was responsible for loading the hypergolic propellants that power the OMS/RCS system, which is basically a system of thrusters that allow the shuttle to maneuver in space. My office was in an a converter railroad car next to pad 39A. I spent about half of my time there and the other half in the firing room. The highlight of the experience was getting to work the firing room for the launch of STS-83 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/STS-83). Normally they wouldn’t let an intern do something like that, but for our system there isn’t actually much to do on launch day except for close a valve. We did our propellant loading about a week prior before launch, and if something is going to go wrong it likely will happen before launch. But I did get to close the valve and verify some pressures and temperatures over the radio. I taped the NASA channel of it and I have a cool video of myself behind the console on TV.
After I graduated I worked for Pratt & Whitney for a while doing Solid Rocket Booster refurbishment. It was really neat getting to see what the SRB’s look like before and after launch. As cool as all of the hardware was I decided what I really wanted to do was design engineering, and I moved on from the space center. As sad as it is to see the shuttle program end it was definitely time for it. The shuttles are about 30 years old now, and some of the parts actually were reused from the Apollo program of the 60’s. I still have a lot of friends who work on the program, hopefully they’ll all find new jobs and land on their feet.
My high school physics teacher had a sign above the blackboard that said, “above all else you must love the truth”. In any business its easy to fall into the trap of not being honest with yourself. Outside of poker, there are often other influences that you can’t control. I remember in my engineering career I worked on several programs where we were having serious problems. But the program manager not only wouldn’t assess the problems and get the team working to fix them, but he wouldn’t acknowledge that there were even problems at all. The obvious thing for an engineer to do in this situation is to bluntly point out in a meeting exactly what is going on, but that’s pretty bad politics. For those of you who have ever held a job you’ll know that this is a lot easier said than done. Concerns about your career path or even keeping your job can be a huge influence on how you approach the situation. It can be really difficult to fix problems when you are surrounded by people bent on ignoring reality.
The nice thing about poker is you don’t have any political considerations to worry about. You can actively study your game, find your faults, and fix them. No one is stopping you but yourself. And yet a lot of poker players can’t seem to do it. Like some of my program managers, they just hate to accept that there might be some things going on that aren’t good. God forbid they need to make adjustments in a game they already have figured and are +EV in. I can’t prove it, but I think this is especially true in the PLO8 player pool. There are a lot of players out there who have not adjusted their game in a long time, despite the fact that the game has continued to evolve. That can’t possibly be a good idea. So don’t fall victim to being influenced by your ego. Always be analyzing your play and looking for weaknesses and making adjustments. I guarantee there are some there, and when you address them you’ll be better off for it. Unlike the tons of unaware, degen, busto players who think variance is to blame for their problems.
I’ve been doing a ton of reading on my Kindle lately. There are 3 basic types of books I read: books about business, books about war, and books about poker.
The other day I picked up Dr. Pauly’s Lost Vegas. Its been out for awhile and I had been meaning to read it since he first announced it was coming out a few years ago. He starts out talking about the 2005 WSOP when he was living at the “Redneck Riviera”. I have really fond memories of those days in poker. That’s before I realized how many players are just full on degenerates, and there would be lots of get togethers with my friends to play low limit home games. The thing I regret about that time is I hadn’t become very serious about the game yet, and I missed out on a lot of easy money from the Party Poker days. I remember when a friend I used to work with turned me on to Tao of Poker during the summer of 2005. I was fascinated with his stories of the WSOP, but mostly about meth heads and crack whores at the Redneck Riviera. The book goes back over all of that, but I don’t think it really added anything that was already in the blog.
After that it goes into coverage of the WPT events from 05-06 and then the 2006 WSOP. Again, mainly covering stuff I was already familiar with from reading his blog. What I was hoping for were a lot of interesting stories that never made it onto his blog. Maybe some tales of famous people going busto or engaging in wild debauchery. I understand with his position in the poker world he doesn’t want to piss people off. But in his blog over the years he’s alluded to stories like this that he couldn’t tell, and sort of hinted that some of them may come out eventually. I was really hoping to see that in the book.
However, according to my Kindle I’m only 49% of the way through it so far (that’s why this is only half a book review), so there is still a chance for some juicy stories in there. If there are I’ll follow up on this post.
This is a re-post from my old blog on Stoxpoker. I’m going to do some posts on things I learned during my MBA, and this was by far my favorite memory.
Last week part of my MBA class took a trip to Omaha to meet Warren Buffett. I was pretty lucky to get selected to go on the trip. Originally I wasn’t supposed to go, but made it when someone else dropped out. Buffett does a few of these events a year. In addition to my class from the University of Colorado; Harvard, USC, UCLA, Texas A&M, and a school from Brazil were also there. We flew in on Thursday and got checked into the hotel, then went out to a brew pub in the Market area. The stereotype of Brazilian women all being hot was confirmed.
On Friday morning we went to visit Furniture Mart, which is one of the Berkshire Hathaway companies in Omaha. Then we went to one of the Berkshire buildings to meet with Warren Buffett for a 2 hour question and answer. We went up to the top floor to the ‘Cloud Room’ to meet him.
On the way there the bus driver took us past his house. Its a relatively big house, but pretty normal. He bought it back in the 50’s. Amazing that its not even in a gated community.
The whole things was fascinating to say the least. Before taking questions he said that nothing was off the table, and encouraged people to take head shots at him. Of course no one did, but one idiot did tell him he thought he was a baller. Berkshire owns a stake in Coca Cola, and he talked a lot about how much he likes it and had free Cokes for everyone. He compared the stock market to a drunken neighbor that offers you different prices every day, and eventually will make you a silly offer. One of my favorite lines he had was, “if someone tries to offer you his billfold, you should take it…” I think a lot of poker players can relate to that. His other was “if its raining gold, go outside with a bucket and not a thimble.” He also talked about how the thing that convinced him to get a computer was when he found out you can play bridge over the internet. He said he plays about 12 hours a week, and would give up his jet before he gave up internet bridge. His main emphasis though was on how its more important to use the brainpower you have than to have a high IQ. He said if you have a 160 IQ you should sell 20-30 points, because you don’t need them. If you use what you have you’ll do fine.
Of course someone asked him about the financial crisis. He said although in general he wasn’t a huge fan of Bush,he felt that Bush and Paulson handled the crisis well, and did a good job of responding to it quickly. At one point during the peak of the crisis he said he called Hank Paulson about something, and Paulson told him he had been up all night puking because he was so nervous that the financial system was going to cave in. I assume to get to the top of Goldman Sachs you have to be pretty stone cold. So if he was throwing up over the crisis it must have been pretty bad.
Overall he had a pretty optimistic view of the future. He said in the next 100 years that 25 would be great, 15 would be bad, and 60 would be so so. Definitely not a doom and gloom guy, which is kind of rare for a 79 year old.
After that we all when to Piccolo Pete’s and he bought everyone lunch. Lunch was steak with ziti and fries, with a rootbeer float for desert. Kind of weird, but it was pretty good. Then he took time to take pictures with everyone.
Here’s me with part of my class, I’m on the front right:http://img62.yfrog.com/i/sth73059.jpg/
It was tough to get decent pictures with a mirror in the background and a disco ball overhead: http://img94.yfrog.com/i/sth73063.jpg/
He also did a lot of silly pictures, which was pretty cool:http://img684.yfrog.com/i/sth73064.jpg/
That night we went out and got dinner and then went to an Irish pub for drinks. It was super cold walking around Omaha, and it was supposed to get to -22F that night. Then we took a cab across the river to the Horseshoe in Council Bluffs for some late night poker: http://img706.yfrog.com/i/img00058201001090009.jpg/ I managed a small win playing 1-3 no limit, which was pretty good considering I was pretty tired and drunk, and I never play no limit anymore. You would think that you could find an Omaha game right next to Omaha, but apparently not.
So its been almost 2 months since I’ve posted, which is obviously way too long. Basically I’ve been busy wrapping up my MBA. Long story short it was a crazy semester, but I got an A and three A-‘s and landed my dream job. By bizarre coincidence I signed an offer letter on April 15th, same day Tilt and Stars pulled out of the US market. I’m going to be a Product Manager at a very large company, and will get to use my MBA while leveraging my engineering background. So as it turned out black Friday didn’t bum me out at all. Obviously I don’t have any poker updates, but I plan to be back in action soon on Merge. I made an account an Carbon but an having deposit issues. I’ll get it squared away soon and be back in business. Although my #1 priority is going to be my new career.
I’m going to make it a habit to update this blog weekly, or maybe even better if I stay inspired. Part of the plan is to make a few posts about things that I learned during my MBA. I’ll also re-post my trip report to Omaha to meet Warren Buffet, which was on my old Stoxpoker blog.