As for Poker, continue to run pretty good since I've been back. As I've mentioned, I've won two tournaments at Harrahs, then placed fourth, and then stone bubbled day 2 at the Beau Rivage 50k guarantee and stone bubbled a small tournament at LaBerge. Besides a couple of painful interactions with Moe Moeini at the Beau (and I mean that as a compliment to him), I've been happy with how well I've been generating chips without hands. I think teaching at the last couple of WSOP Academys in New Orleans was just as helpful to my game as it was to the students there.
I've gotten so much out of doing those hand labs I will gladly do them every time I get the chance. I have a great respect for the WSOP Academy and the success of its students. One of the biggest things I've learned through teaching is to pull the trigger in spots were I might just be a little too cautious previously. As I told the students, and really reinforced with myself, its far better to make mistakes, in my opinion, by being too aggressive instead of being too passive. Now, when I find a marginal spot where I think I could get something through instead of being cautious I pull the trigger. It's amazing how many chips are just there to be taken, and how important it is to jump all over weakness when you sense it. And the more experience you get the more you recognize it.
Also pokerwise, Monkey has selected me to be one of the finalists for his package to the Main Event. I'm honored and think highly of the other names he's mentioned, I'm in pretty good company. I will probably buy shares regardless if I'm selected or not. As they say it's good just to be nominated. I do feel I'd do great in a deep stack event at the WSOP against bad players. Really, I'm chomping at the bit to have a chance to play a WSOP main event against the massive field where one unlucky hand won't cripple me and I can be even more selective in attacking spots.
Generally, the few WSOP-C/1k regional main events I've played I've gone deep in the tournaments and have a lot of day twos to my name. This structure is even better and I'm well suited for it. I think I play really well against bad players. I don't know if I'd be the best candidate if was an elite field (though I'm not scared of anybody), but as the Main Event plays I love my chances to cash and to go deep. No offense to some of the skilled players I play with in the weeklies where I grind results regularly, but the rest of the field in those are pretty exploitable, thankfully allowing me to beat the high rakes and turn profits. They are also a great proving ground for learning how to best bad players.
To be honest the terms of Monkey's deal with just 35% to the player is a bit low and almost prohibitive to doing it. I've talked to people in general about the idea and they suggest with travel and expenses it could add up. Also, it's a far lower price than I normally sell myself at. But then again it's a chance to play in a WSOP Main Event.... I made a pledge to myself a couple year ago to try every new opportunity (within reason) that's presented to me. It's led to a lot of fun and profitable experiences, and because of that pledge I think ultimately if I was selected, I'd do it. By the way, I think this a great concept and I applaud Monkey for coming up with it.
And to be clear, I'm not whining about the 35%, because it is what is, I get it. Monkey's giving two or three players a shot a Main Event seat mining his list of backers and stakers. He wants to give his guys a great price and they are taking on players that don't have a personal relationship with or any loyalty to... this sounds reasonable on both fronts. Similarly, I have a crew of great people who have invested in me in the past, many repeatedly, and I would want to give them freebie pieces of myself as gratitude should I play a Main Event. If I satellited my own way in a non package event that's mandatory and always in the back of my head. With the 35% I don't have a ton of room, but I would do something if selected. The freebies might not kick in until a certain pay jump or something just so I could recoup my travel costs and then split up the profit on my end. Nonetheless, I'd offer my previous investors some sort of freeroll (so I guess I wouldn't even be getting the full 35%).
Anyway, these are all great problems to have and I hope to have, as I'm sure all the candidates would. Read Monkey's blog for more details...
On to soccer...
So, the U.S.A. advanced out of their group. They did something no other team that played their first or second game in the sauna/hotbox/rainforest "city" Manuas did and that was advance. The only team to win their next game after Manuas, thankfully was Portugal which beat Ghana to our benefit. Everybody else lost their follow up game and in the games I watched all their announcers talked about them looking tired at the end. Consider our opponents Germany also had an extra day of rest I was worried we'd get slaughtered. We didn't get much of the ball but the 1-0 loss is fine. We looked gassed and I'm glad we were still somewhat in it. Sure I'd rather a win, or a draw (though it'd be meaningless), but we qualified and in tournaments sometimes that's enough.
Up next is Belgium, a team that dismantled us in a friendly within the last year I think 5-1 or 4-0. Whatever it was it was gross. They have a ton of young talent that the smaller European countries seem to take turns in getting every 20 or 30 years. They call them Golden Generations and for the most part these veins of talent tend to disappoint on the World Cup stage. Somehow the bigger "soccer" countries which just reload, Germany, Italy, Holland, and to a lesser or perhaps, newer, extent France and Spain go the deepest. But Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Czech Republic, Denmark, and now Belgium all take turns being special for a few years. If you rank the 16 remaining teams they are probably in the top half (considering they are a 1 and us a 2 that's fair, though we are probably real close to top 8 as well.).
So, it'll be an upset if we win, but we are certainly good enough to pull it off. I think it'll be a lot closer to the Portugal game than the German game, and with some extra rest we'll look good. I doubt Jozy Altidore will be back or really able to contribute anything more than ten minutes.
On the whole I'm happy with the world cup, and it becoming a bit of a cultural touchstone. So strange considering I used to watch the USA play qualifiers in front of empty seats in places like Hershey, Pennsylvania against opponents like El Salvador (and be an underdog). Now it's so popular it's getting push back as being too trendy. It's a weird world we live in. Soccer fans are a defensive bunch, and I try not to be one, but to give some perspective for twenty years this sport was played in the shadows, even when it was on ESPN it was the one sport the commentators openly mocked when covering it, so we've developed a little bit of a thin skin. The irony is now they mock soccer fans for being too defensive as though we didn't go through years of low hanging fruit abuse. In sports coverage, taking shots at soccer has always been the old reliable and unoriginal cheap shot. Now it's mocking soccer fans. Too hipster, too thin-skinned, too fadish, too whatever. Thankfully, most of the dinosaurs that really roasted the game have gone extinct (with the exception of that idiot Dan Shaunessy), and even the people that hate soccer (hey, I get it, some things aren't for everybody) at least respect it a little more or kind of "get" the world cup even if they are bored by the game.
That's said as Americans our last few international competitions (mens and women) have been like soccer on heroin. Late goals, crazy results and twists of fortune that happen in injury time are what makes this game exhilarating... but reality is more times then not you get games like Germany-USA today. Hopefully, some people trying out the game will stick around and build this national soccer culture. Every couple of years we'll have a major soccer tournament in the summer to watch, it's better when it resonates.
I've seen the trolling by Ann Coulter and Keith Olbermann too. Funny, those two opposites can agree on one thing that's bad for the country... soccer. Olbermann's main beef is it's confusing obtuse qualifications to the knock out stage. He's a baseball guy it must be so hard for him to get you can advance in a tournament despite a loss. Not like the college world series doesn't employ an equally obtuse double elimination tournament which sometimes becomes a series between two teams and then becomes a new double elimination tournament where the previous eliminations don't count. Or the pro teams don't play series and you can lose as many as three games to one opponent and still win. Yeah... it's different but it's not that hard to get. Or somehow bad for rewarding teams that don't win all their games.
Olbermann also is tired of the chorus of soccer proponents saying "Soccer is coming. Soccer is here." The irony is soccer proponents like myself don't say that. It's the rest of the mainstream media that says that or make some sort of prediction based on temporary popularity but when guys like Keith direct their mockery at the sport, they attack the fanbase (who as mentioned are long marginalized and mocked) as though it's them that are making these predictions. Well, many of them take the bait every time and stupid inconsequential soccer debates ensue. I could care less if people like the sport. It's grown to the point I can watch it any time I want and that's enough for me. If you want to join in on the fun. Good for you. If you don't I get it. I turn the channel when pro baseball comes on and several other sports that make my eyes glaze over. Oddly, unlike soccer haters I don't go out of my way to mock those sports and nor do I fault people who enjoy watching them. It's not for me.
As for Coulter's race baiting and insulting of immigrants and deciding to use soccer as a frame to spew her hate through. Yawn. Another pundit who sold out and now just says things merely to shock and get the spotlight on herself for as long as she possibly can. She's the Skip Bayless of politics. I've no use for her. Regardless, Coulter and Olbermann have one thing in common besides soccer, those wet noodles don't like change of any sort. I'm sure when boxing writers or horse racing scribes saw their sports dying they lamented the new sports like baseball or football as awful. Things change pretty quickly and upon a time Cycling was the most popular sport in our country, and I know this is a shocker for a small window at the dawn of the depression.... soccer also held that role. It's a little historical footnote sports journalists have buried. Google it, even if you don't like soccer it's quite interesting footnote in history to see how and why the future NFL survived the Depression and though soccer, which in some places was outdrawing it at the time, did not. Whoever the Ann Coulter and Keith Olberman and Dan O'Shaugnessy of their times were had to be equally whiny as their sports (soccer, cycling, and horse racing) faded into irrelevancy.
Anyway, rant over... go USA.