Pre Two Months of Travel

Very busy week for me, which isn’t always saying much, but this week I pushed pretty hard mentally.  I leave for Tampa, Florida for two days, Oslo, Norway for 3-4 nights, and then Stockholm for the rest of June/July.  With these pre-travel periods I either mentally check out for a week, or I actually get things done.  Fortunately this past week was the latter.

I realized that talking about crypto and trading isn’t very interesting for me, even though I spend a lot of time on it.  I do it for the money now, not so much for all of the cool and crazy technological ideas.  I like the purity of the data and numbers, discovering patterns, and figuring out how to construct strategies around that.  I think with time the cryptocurrency field will evolve and bring about beautiful working technologies that we don’t anticipate, but the brain suck trying to sift through all of the coins, scams, hype, mania, gloom, etc. is too draining.  I’m a lot happier now just creating spreadsheets, crunching numbers, and programming ideas.

On that end I feel like the last few weeks of research are starting to pay off.  I have a few things in the bag now that I’m (always) refining, but they seem promising.

On the writing front I was more limited this week with time and brain capacity.  The trading research I work on uses that same type of creative brain power, especially when it comes to the refinement of my ideas.  What I did focus on was reading.  I’ve read in the past how many times writers state the importance of reading if you want to write, and I know for me it’s very true as well.  I get inspired and in a better state of mind when I’m reading things I like.  This week was more of that, but I did manage to produce a short story for this blog again.

Next week I’ll be in Norway and with some fresh new things to write about outside of my usual trading/writing grind that I enjoy.  Leaving you with a pic from Old San Juan, and this week’s story:



Running Good in Life

The Young Pro sat in a daze shuffling his few remaining poker chips at the table.  When he was winning he couldn’t care less about the money, but now on the verge of going broke every option including appealing to God was a possibility.  His only consolation was that he was a good and upstanding person.  He lived life the right way, and if anyone deserved to get out of this hole, it was him.

A three-month heater at the casino playing against the stiffest competition swelled his bankroll from pizza and beer money, to $50,000.  He considered himself humble, but it was hard to not trot around the floor with a smirk after his daily double-up.  He graduated to the big leagues in the casino, playing in $2,000 buy-in games, and mopped the floor with those guys.  The game was starting to dry up — none of the fish had enough money to keep the game going, when the dream scenario happened.  One of the big fish in the game took a liking to the Young Pro.  He invited him to a private game, all amateur players, and buy-ins starting at $5,000.  This was like getting paid $500 an hour to hang out in luxury condos with the rich and interesting crowd of New York.  The Young Pro had arrived.

The Young Pro thought he had arrived at least.  Now at 3 am, sitting with the last $10k of his $50k bankroll in front of him, he had to calculate between hands to make sure he did have exactly $50k in his bank account.  Not only was he having his life savings cleaned out, he might even accidentally write a bad check by a few hundred if he lost one more big hand.

The “luxury condo” wasn’t even all that either.  Sure the rent was higher than what the Young Pro was spending, and it was in SoHo, but it was a barely furnished one-bedroom with no frills designed to host these games.  The massage girls were a nice consolation at least.  The young pro finally had to part with the Instagram Model rubbing his shoulders from behind while he dusted off his money.  The massage wasn’t that good, but more than that he wouldn’t have a dollar to tip if he busted now.

The perpetrator of his losses was the same Old Man who invited him.  The sick thing was every time the Old Man took another $5,000 from the Young Pro, he would lose it two hands later to another person at the table.  This had been the theme of the night.  They were down to three people, all losing lots of money and miserable.  The Host of the game, himself a grizzled veteran of late night poker sessions, the Old Man, and the Young Pro.

“Should we kick up the stakes for a bit?” the Host asked after the Old Man yawned.

“Fine by me,” the Young Pro said.  He could sense that this game was on life support with the Old Man almost falling asleep at the table.  The moment the Old Man quit the Host would as well, and neither the Host nor the Young Pro would be able to get even.  The Old Man was down a lot, but flush with cash from a real estate empire he was able to continuously replenish a $50,000 stack.

The Old Man nodded in agreement, and the next hand was dealt with the blinds doubled.  There would be quick bloodshed with the minimum bet being $200 now.

The Young Pro looked at his hole cards and was delighted to see Aces.  He’d been folding away his money for the past hour it felt like, so he hoped it wasn’t too obvious when he made the $600 raise without any hesitation.

The Host must have seen it, and tossed his cards in the muck after an eye roll.  The Old Man did not fold.  Whatever he held woke him up a bit, and re-raised to $2,500.  The Old Man had made plenty of bad plays throughout the night, but bluffing was not one of them.

The Young Pro hesitated, anguished between how best to get the Old Man’s money.  The Young Pro decided to just go all-in, and clenched hoping the Old Man would call.  He did, and the Old Man turned over pocket Kings with a smile like he just caught the youngster trying to steal from him.

The Young Pro turned his cards over slowly watching every micro-expression as the Old Man’s euphoria quickly turned into revulsion.  The dealer dealt the flop: Ace-Ace-2.  It was already over, just like that.  The dealer quickly turned over the next two cards, even though it was pointless as the Young Pro counted his stack exactly for the Old Man to pay him.

Sitting with a little over $20,000, and an agitated Old Man, the Young Pro had a chance.  He felt the gray hairs on his head that had formed over the hours of losing tonight starting to regain their chestnut color.  The next hand was dealt.

10c-10s for the Young Pro, another great hand, although not nearly as much of a lock.  He raised to $600 again.  The Host raised to $1,800, the Old Man called, and the Young Pro did as well.  The flop came: 2s-3s-6h.

The Host, playing way too obvious now, rolled his eyes and checked.  The Old Man checked, and the Young Pro decided to win this pot with a bet of $2,000.  The Host folded as expected, but the Old Man hesitated.  He continued to hesitate, and then finally pulled out $5,000 in chips raising.

The Young Pro had never seen the Old Man bluff.  Not tonight, and not even once during the several times they played at a casino.  Something seemed off though.  The Old Man was very awake now, and his pulse was making his neck flutter.  Not one to really put much stock into physical tells, the Young Pro still couldn’t stop himself as he called the $5,000 raise.

The 4s came out now with the board reading: 2s-3s-5h-4s.  The Old Man quickly bet $8,000.  The Young Pro couldn’t think about what he would be bluffing with, but the bet size was eerily small.  He didn’t know if he had the stones to call this, but found his hand quietly reaching for the necessary chips putting them into the pot.  The river would be it, the Old Man would not be able to fire again unless he had the nuts.

The river was another 5, this time the 5-c.  The Old Man looked like he was in some real pain, like he was going to shit himself and he really didn’t want to.  The Old Man eyed the Young Pro’s stack seeing that it was too small now compared to the size of the pot, and declared, “All in.”

The Young Pro was now the one in pain.  Hidden ulcers and other future maladies gurgled in his stomach as he contemplated the ridiculous situation he had gotten himself into.  He was calling down the only person in the game who didn’t bluff.  The Old Man did look nervous, but that’s probably because he had the second or third best hand now, still plenty good enough to beat the Young Pro.  But what if —

The Young Pro went through every combination and permutation of hands that the Old Man could have.  Not a single one was beatable.  He shook his head looking to the ceiling wondering if he had just ran good these past months.  Was he a good player?  He was called a “luckbox”, “lucksack”, and much worse things during his tenure as a pro.  Maybe they were right.  Something was off though, he just couldn’t shake it.  Either way if he folded he was pretty much broke, but if he called he would be 100% broke.  The latter would at least allow him to quit.  He flicked in one chip to signal that he was making the call looking towards the Old Man to deliver him the final death blow.

“Good call,” the Old Man said.  He shook his head sadly and couldn’t make eye contact.

The Young Pro turned over his pocket 10s in disbelief that he won.

“Are you shitting me, that’s the winning hand?” the Host said more surprised than anyone.

The dealer counted what was left in the Young Pro’s stack and started taking it away from the Old Man.  This would get him to right about even.  Living right, God, whatever it was, the Young Pro was deserving and blessed.  He breathed out audibly realizing that good play is always rewarded in the long run.

The Old Man now finally turned his hole cards over, and slowly slid them into the muck.  As he was sliding them in, the Young Pro and Host got a look: Ah-10h.  He had made a straight on the turn, but didn’t know it.  He was completely bluffing on the flop, and never realized he made a great hand.

The cards weren’t completely in the muck yet, and the rules of this home game were that the Old Man’s hand was still in play, but the dealer didn’t notice as she was probably too tired to notice at this hour.  The Young Pro slowly put his hands on the pile of chips that would make him even, and tilted his bewildered eyes at the Host.  The Young Pro knew the right thing to do, he had given back some small pots several times in the past, and certainly called other people out when he wasn’t even in the hand.  But he couldn’t do it.  He needed that money in this moment too badly.

The Young Pro waited for the Host to intervene, but the Host just raised an eyebrow at him in understanding.  The dealer was already into the next hand, when the Old Man decided to call it quits.

“Gentleman that is enough of a beating for one night,” the Old Man said.  “I hope you enjoyed the game, it’s a great group of guys don’t you think?”

The Young Pro realized he was talking to him.  “Yes, thanks once again.”  He hesitated thinking he should say something and return the Old Man’s money, but it would be worse now when the hand was well over.

The Old Man wrote a check and left for the evening.

Perhaps the Young Pro had imagined it, maybe the Old Man had different cards, or the board read differently.  It was so late now that anything was possible.  He started telling himself this, but the Host’s look as the Young Pro got up told him he knew it happened.

He wasn’t the man he thought he was, but he could change that someday.  Just a little more money he thought, but he knew that wasn’t true.  He would use an angle or two if necessary.  And this would be his true downfall someday, but this wasn’t that day.

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