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1:24 am EST        31°F (–1°C) in Minster, OH

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Eleven days having passed since my last update, I am back on the road again. I did end up sitting until last Friday with the load I mentioned in my last update; after getting that delivered, I headed home for six days, and returned to the road late Thursday evening. It’s taken a bit more than a day to get moving on this first load.

Among the highlights of these past 11 days are my first two victories in poker games, which netted me a total of $35. Last Friday night, February 23, we got a five-person game going at Marc’s apartment. I wasn’t doing particularly well in the early stages, falling to about 60% of my starting chip stack, but I hung in there by winning a few small pots. Marc’s friend Jay, meanwhile, was busy amassing a huge stack at his end of the table, as some of the other players with lower stacks started getting eliminated. I took out another of Marc’s friends to come down to heads-up with Jay, although Jay still had a huge chip advantage — probably 70%-30% or thereabouts.

Two hands really turned it around: Jay pushed all-in one hand with pocket 8s, not knowing I was an 80%-20% favorite in that hand with pocket aces. I proceeded to get a bunch of crappy hands, though, folding a lot of them, and eventually, Jay again had almost as big a chip advantage as we went to another all-in situation. My queen-10 was a fairly big underdog to Jay’s king-10, but I caught 8-9-A on the flop and a jack on the turn to make a straight and cripple Jay for good. (Had the river come a queen, I would have finished second for the night, but if I remember right, it was some rag like a 4.)

We played another game last Saturday night at the apartment of another friend and co-worker of Marc’s. This time, Marc held the huge stack early on, although I was doing a better job of holding my own in the early stages. After Marc took Jay out to reduce the table to five players, he really stopped catching hands, and I would then proceed to take out everybody else that night and win the $15 top prize. Some of the hands were really close, like the one where both Juliana (another of Marc’s friends) and I hit the A-2-3-4-5 bottom-end straight, but I had also managed to make an unrelated flush. Eventually, Ramzi (the aforementioned co-worker) pushed all-in after the flop, one heart short of a flush, and I called him with my jack-10 which had paired the highest community card (a 10); the turn and river both came down lower black-suit cards, and that was it.

I think my victories probably had a lot to do with some adjustments I’ve tried to make to my game recently. I used to be way too enamored with low pocket pairs like 3s and 4s, often losing large portions of my stack on them; I folded pocket 4s at least twice in the Saturday night game, quite thankful I had done so in one hand considering Marc’s pocket queens. Additionally, I’ve tried to get away from playing as many weak queens and kings (hands like Q-6, K-2, Q-4, K-5, etc.) as I used to, and I’m also starting to let go of more hands that looked great pre-flop but didn’t pan out (e.g., an A-J hand with a 3-5-8 flop). On that same note with great pre-flop hands, I’m also trying to avoid over-betting them as much as I once did; those hands aren’t so great when all you can do with them is buy blinds.

Once at home, I took on more of the basement-cleaning project I had started in my previous home time, throwing away yet more of the piles of shit from 15-20 years ago for which I have no further need. I also got my tax returns done; I am awaiting a $1,200 check from Uncle Sam, and I’ve already paid the $110 I owed (thanks to Michigan’s regressive, flat income tax) to Lansing. (Most states with an income tax have the wisdom to make it a progressive one, with (for example) 2% rates on lower incomes and 6%-7% rates on the wealthy; Michigan taxpayers, on the other hand, suffer the effects of decades of Rethuglican mis-rule with a flat 3.9% income tax. Worse yet, the DLC whore in our governor’s mansion won’t even try to progressivize it, the fact that doing so would erase our huge budget deficits and end all these cuts to higher education notwithstanding.)

I’ll probably have more to talk about in the near future, and more time to hammer it out on a keyboard, but I at least needed to get a stale, 11-day-old page out of the way. Maybe I’ll have some time after this load delivers in eastern Pennsylvania on Sunday morning.