Saturday, April 12, 2014

Special Topics In Calamity Physics

Special Topics in Calamity PhysicsSpecial Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn't know anything about this book when I picked it up. My ignorance made me appreciate it so much more. If you would like the same experience, please stop reading the review now. I can say that if you're female, a reader, liberal, like coming-of-age novels, insufferable, or enjoy open-ended foreign cinema this will be right up your alley.

I picked up this book because it was an award-winner from 2006. I knew it was about a girl in high school. Since I graduated high school in 2006 as a man, and because I am trying (emphasis on trying) to write a book about a kid in high school in 2006, I thought Pessl's entry would be a good choice to round out my view.

Well, this book is not really fantastic for high school hijinks. Pessl tries to inject Breakfast Club cliches. As a socially retarded male I will never understand why women such as Marisha Pessl and Tana French find groups of people so fascinating, as if a colored group is some unbreakable force of love. The main character's friends are like cardboard cutouts designed by someone who has watched too many 80's movies. Largely, I was bored with them, and was not entertained by the overtly long passages on her adventures with them.

I didn't feel it developed the main character well at all. Most of the dialogue hangs awkwardly on the page. All the students blur into a liberal yuppie mess, with vocabulary and witticisms that make Juno seem modest and without pretension. I couldn't believe any character. I was bored frequently with the run-on dialogue that revealed nothing, other than the author has alactritous love for language that nobody speaks. A true connection between characters is not established, making many of them laughably forgettable, and dulling some of the finer plot turns of the book.

Pessl's difficulties do not end there. Her book worm heroine frequently digresses to book references, some of which don't actually exist. At times, it is informative and eye-opening. Much of the time it is annoying. Her rambling goes on forever, and oftentimes doesn't illuminate much at all.

It is endearing in an American Psycho way, in that I'm sure this is actually how a book lover in this kind of family would think. However, it is pretty tough to deal with. This book could have easily have been half the size and lost little substance.

Now, how could I enjoy a novel with so many faults? I chose to put the good parts at the end of the review, because if you can't stand my writing about them you will be absolutely infuriated should you try to read this novel.

The book eventually breaks down into a murder mystery, but sadly it takes 400 pages to get to the point. Up until that time any man who is reading will feel as if he's progressively growing a vagina.

God help you if you did not know this was a murder mystery. I went in assuming this was a slice-of-life entry akin to The Center Of Everything, and the first 80% of the book did little to dissuade me from that notion. Time and again, I wondered why I was still reading.

But once things (finally) pick up Marisha Pessl pens one of my favorite endings of all time. If you enjoy foreign movies, like the nauseating name-drop list she has in the book (which she even hysterically brings attention to at the end as if we'll be dazzled by her references), or open-ended endings with so much to figure out, you will love this.

The entire beginning of the book finally lines up, and so much makes sense. You'll get giddy putting all the pieces together, as Pessl does a spectacular job of giving you just the right number of clues to put together a great picture.

Even her Holes-esque ending where the narrator talks to the reader about the mysteries left in the form of a pop quiz comes off as charming. This a great book to read with friends (I imagine) because there's so much to discuss. In repeated readings I'm sure there is a ton to pick up on.

Whether she intended to or not the cleverly crafted ending really helps you give her the benefit of the doubt with her character writing. While her dialogue is cheeky, perhaps it was on purpose? Everyone, including the main character's father, comes off a caricature of the people they represent by the end. If you take it in that spirit it makes the read much more enjoyable.

Pessl is a little insufferable, but she has the talent to get away with it. Passages of this book are breathtakingly well written, and others paragraphs serve to teach us that, "it's okay to kill your darlings."

I think the ending was so interesting it made up for the books many flaws, but others would rightfully disagree. Make sure you have a passion for whodunnits and questions without answers before delving in.

My Plugs: Check out my vids at Pocketfives Training, contact me for lessons at, see other stuff I write with my friends at, and follow my Twitter at TheAssassinato

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When The Legions Arrive (Run! Run!)

I woke up out of sorts today.
Normally right now I’d be writing in my book. I get great joy out of spinning my Stu Ungar + JJProdigy + Scarface yarn. Today, however, my wife has a singing performance. Tomorrow, a good friend is coming to stay out our house. There needs to be some cleaning some, which my wife has emphatically expressed will be done today.
My head felt as if it were in a fog this morning. I took a sip of my wife’s vodka and orange juice at a friend’s birthday last night, a literal sip, nothing more. I wanted orange juice really. If this is all it takes to throw my anti-psychotics off I really can never drink again.
Every thought is racing. Every train of logic in my mind curtails with a bad ending. The anxiety has actually dulled since before I took my meds. I have no idea how I made any money before I took them. I guess the self-medication helped for a short time.
I take my meds and a host of vitamins. I feel culled to produce. I don’t feel healthy quite yet. Maybe that’s where visiting the gym will pick up.
I always feel foggy. That doesn’t mean I’m depressed or disliking my life, but what should be routine activities become difficult.
It’s become fashionable to have a mental illness. I operate differently; we’ll leave it at that.
You really have no other choice but to fight, and belaboring what cannot be changed doesn’t do much.
I went along with my wife to her friends house, because he adopts dogs and raises them before selling them to different families. He’s the one who sold me Chanel, my awesome Maltese. I love to play with the dogs there. He’s also my wife’s singing instructor. It’s so pleasant to stare at ravines (he lives in the country), have the dogs lay next to me, listen to live music, and read a book.
I finished two books at his house yesterday. Special Topics In Calamity Physics  and The Art Of Learning. 
Josh Waitzkin’s work is one of the best books I’ve ever read in my life. He details going from a chess phenom as a child with multiple world championships to a floundering adult chess professional, before rededicating himself to martial arts in a pursuit to win World Championships in Asia. I won’t give away the ending, because it is riveting, but it’s an excellent book for any poker professional to reach.
The one thing that struck me about the author is how balanced and courteous he seems. I don’t get an idea it’s an act. When you meet truly graceful competitors they speak in much the way Waitzkin writes.
To get 10% of the discipline and mind he has it has taken me a lifetime of work. Blessedly, seeing into another person’s mind who you admire as they recount their slips and triumphs along with their process is an invaluable source for assistance.
But I wonder if he has days like I have. I woke up today and wanted to fight everyone. I literally expect every interaction to be a fight, so guess what happens? I have to go back to my bed and lay down, take deep breaths, and then come back.
One person who wrote the most popular negative review of the book on Goodreads complained about how Mr. Waitzkin has never had to work a day in his life, so “oh this is easy for him.” I’ve worked quite a few jobs other than poker and am from a much worse socio-economic background than probably this reviewer or Waitzkin is from, but this makes no sense to me. Some people get a better starting hand, sure, but it doesn’t make the game.
Timex is an astoundingly talented poker player, but he also had the dream background for one. But that doesn’t change the fact he’s ten times the player I am. If I get worked up about how “easy” he’s had it than I’m missing what he could possibly teach me.
One time someone pointed out to me while many poker professionals were much better and more balanced than I was that they didn’t get to do the things I did. I guess getting out of some of the situations that I grew up in allowed me to be a little careless.
While I wish I could take back many of my formative years I did get to see much of Europe, Asia, South America, and the states before settling down with my beautiful wife. Many people seemed dumbfounded when I told them I moved to South Korea at 19, got a beach condo on the Mediterranean at 20, and rented a mansion with a private beach in Costa Rica at 21.
Of course, now that poker isn’t what it used to be, I want all that money I blew on rent back, but I’m glad I got the experience. I have countless good memories from those days.
One just stuck out at me while I was writing this: I remember taking an Italian girl for a coffee at this Sicilian bakery in Valletta, right in the harbor. I remember in that moment going, “wow man, who gets to do this?”
Black Friday probably set me back a year in my poker development, if not years, but I’m glad it happened. I wouldn’t have come to trust my wife so much. She really stuck out with me through some tough times. But more than that, so many poker players got to experience what I did when they were forced to move away from home. I love hearing about how so many of my countrymen are loving their new lives in Europe or Central America.
These are the things that people forget to acknowledge. Yeah, I wish I had the mind for competition like Timex and Waitzkin have, but I don’t. What I do have is a life I never thought I’d get, something out of a graphic novel I would of read longingly as the most broke teenager in my neighborhood.
It’s hard to quantify how much more you can enjoy things with therapy. If you didn’t grow up expecting them they are more special to you.
I know I’m wildly inconsistent as a poker professional. There was a time no one could stop and I was making that dream money, but I blew it. I dealt with depression for years and played horribly due to it, and I caused that depression. It has to do with withdrawal, with having to learn how to live life with a substance you made absolutely necessary. That’s my fault.
But I wouldn’t be the coach I am if I hadn’t gone through it. I know I’m a much better thinker with poker than most because, which makes me a better coach. I’m blessed for the opportunity to keep learning about the game I love.
I’m hoping time off, working with Jared Tendler, and a good helping of reviews will remedy my consistency problems before SCOOP.
The real joy is in learning, which is what Waitzkin’s book brought me back to remembering. When I was younger there seemed to be no limits. I was fist pumping about being able to rent a garage with no heating or plumbing. FREEDOM BABY! I CAN PLAY PLAYSTATION AS MUCH AS I WANT NOW!
As that kid there were no boundaries. I made a lot of money playing a sloppier style because my decisions were more inspired than my opponents.
Once I had some notoriety, money, TV time, and people saying I was this kind of coach whoa! Pressure’s on now. I wasn’t even that good to begin with, now I’m expected to win?! It became more difficult to branch out.
What I really should be focusing on is the process. I get to take some time this morning to drink gourmet coffee and write. I have a home I’m safe to pursue my passions in. Yes, sometimes it’s hard to get my mind to tick the way it does other times. Yes, sometimes I feel like I’m at war with myself. But it’s much harder to conquer your demons working a job you hate for 50 hours a week with an uncooperative spouse and kids.
Options are the real wealth of this time, and there are so many in the internet. You want to write a book? Back in the day, if a publisher likes it, you’d get a shit advance and 5% of the profits. Now, make your own site! Make your own podcast! Sell the book yourself on Amazon and keep 70% of the profits minimum.
You like poker? All the information is out there. Go educate yourself.
You want to change your diet and lose weight? There’s excellent books on that matter. Download them, inhale the lessons, and get your work in at the park free-of-charge.
The information, the people, the opportunities…they’re all out there. It’s just a matter of loving them, appreciating them, and working for what is important to you.
My Plugs: Check out my vids at Pocketfives Training, contact me for lessons at, see other stuff I write with my friends at, and follow my Twitter at TheAssassinato


The first person to say “the grind don’t stop” is a motherfuckin oracle
A life of leisure, and a life of laziness, are two things.
Excellent blog by Nolan Dolla on the best non-strategy poker books. Can’t wait to read some of these:
Sleepwalking this morning. Put in a good deal of work yesterday, but not enough to be this tired. Tried laying down with a book and cup of coffee but that somehow put me more to sleep.
Had Javier over. Told him from the 21st to 30th we’re studying six hours a day and going to the gym most mornings. He was more enthusiastic than I expected.
An apple really can perk you up more than a cup of coffee. Sometimes. Rarely. Okay, almost never. But it did just now.
All poker players talk about how much they study now. I remember people looking at me like I was from Mars when I said “you need to study.”
“Muggle” was a slang term for marijuana used mainly among the jazz community from the 1920s to 1930s.
Being defeated is often temporary, giving up makes it permanent.
Wife’s out. I want to play Playstation, listen to metal, watch battle rap, etc. but probably would mess up my mojo b4 counseling session.
Suggesting that families stay together and focus on education has become hate speak.
Why Adam Carolla is my hero. Incredibly true points. I’m not on the right, but I am more sick than ever of the left.
Trying to book some study sessions with my friends before this SCOOP. Life ain’t that hard. Let’s do the damn thing.
Put that you were Time’s 2006 person of the year on your resume/CV. In 2006, Time made “Everyone” the person of the year.
Once the game is over, the king & the pawn go back in the same box. -Italian Proverb
I was rappety rap rapping. Then I went to a prayer meeting and took a long nutso journey. Now I’m drinking coffee, finishing books I hate.
I did this two hour encounter with a specialist. It was like every bad thing that ever happened to me or I’d ever done came up. #Chills
Everyone running red lights. Costa Ricans really need to start getting into arguments in person. Quit taking your anger out on the roads.
Everybody I know getting hit by a damn car here lately.
In Africa one of the common myths that prevailed has been that sexual intercourse with a virgin can cure AIDS.
UFO sightings have reduced by over 80% since the introduction of smartphones and public access to HD video.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Controlling The Tempo

“Everyone is responsible for the page-turning tempo of his or her Life Story,” Dad said, scratching his jaw thoughtfully, arranging the limp collar of his chambray shirt. “Even if you have your Magnificent Reason, it could still be dull as Nebraska and that’s no one’s fault but your own. Well, if you feel it’s miles of cornfields, find something to believe in other than yourself, preferably a cause without the stench of hypocrisy, and then charge into battle. There’s a reason they still put Che Guevara on T-shirts, why people still whisper about The Nightwatchmen when there’s been no evidence of their existence for twenty years. “But most critically, sweet, never try to change the narrative structure of someone else’s story, though you will certainly be tempted to, as you watch those poor souls in school, in life, heading unwittingly down dangerous tangents, fatal digressions from which they will unlikely be able to emerge. Resist the temptation. Spend your energies on your story. Reworking it. Making it better. Increasing the scale, the depth of content, the universal themes. And I don’t care what those themes are—they’re yours to uncover and stand behind—so long as, at the very least, there is courage. Guts. Mut, in German. Those around you can have their novellas, sweet, their short stories of cliché and coincidence, occasionally spiced up with tricks of the quirky, the achingly mundane, the grotesque. A few will even cook up Greek tragedy, those born into misery, destined to die in misery. But you, my bride of quietness, you will craft nothing less than epic with your life. Out of all of them, your story will be the one to last.”

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Corpse Reader

The Corpse ReaderThe Corpse Reader by Antonio Garrido
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up Antonio Garrido’s The Corpse Reader because it was a $1.99 deal for one day on the Kindle. I never buy into any of those, but I greatly enjoy reading about mythical China, so I took a shot.

There was a time I greatly enjoyed this novel: My wife and I were out at a jazz club, where we had to wait an hour for the opener to finish before she could perform. Unable to speak with my wife I cracked open this book (and by ‘cracked open’ I mean I turned on my Kindle). While the jazz was mediocre and The Corpse Reader was flawed, it was deeply entertaining for when I couldn’t focus on every detail. It is light ‘winter’, ‘summer’, or whatever reading. If it were a film critics would call it “popcorn fare.”

While Mr. Garrido has not crafted something that mystifies like truly great historical fiction he has created a solid entry into the genre.
Amazon describes the book’s plot, although as per usual it doesn’t do justice to the novel’s intricacies:

After his grandfather dies, avid scholar and budding forensic investigator Cí Song begrudgingly gives up his studies to help his family. But when another tragedy strikes, he’s forced to run and also deemed a fugitive. Dishonored, he has no choice but to accept work as a lowly gravedigger, a position that allows him to sharpen his corpse-reading skills. Soon, he can deduce whether a person killed himself—or was murdered.

His prowess earns him notoriety, and Cí receives orders to unearth the perpetrator of a horrific series of mutilations and deaths at the Imperial Court. Cí’s gruesome investigation quickly grows complicated thanks to old loyalties and the presence of an alluring, enigmatic woman. But he remains driven by his passion for truth—especially once the killings threaten to take down the Emperor himself.

Inspired by Song Cí, considered to be the founding father of CSI-style forensic science, this harrowing novel set during the thirteenth-century Tsong Dynasty draws readers into a multilayered, ingenious plot as disturbing as it is fascinating.

What Garrido does well is dress his fairly ho-hum plot with historical details that are fascinating to anyone with an eye toward ancient China. What Garrido really fails at, in my mind, is pacing all of his ideas out. While the book is 450+ pages, it feels rushed. While Aztec created a winding odyssey that seems miraculous when summarized, at no point during that epic did I feel like events were simply falling out of the sky to propel our hero along.

Every chapter of The Corpse Reader seemingly ends with a beleaguered cliffhanger. I admit, I rolled my eyes a few times. Moments that could become emotional are drowned by the improbable circumstances Garrido rushes his protagonist into to usher in the next plot twist he’s concocted. Last-minute ploys to save the day come all too often, and Garrido frivolously loses his audience’s trust. To make matters worse, the book’s greatest plot twist is lost in the shuffle of adventures for our young hero, so that no due subtly is afforded the necessary interactions between the involved characters. When the reveal is finally made you’ll almost laugh out loud, because anyone who has ever read a mystery will have seen it coming from 50 miles a way.

In spite of all of this Garrido has something fantastic here. The idea of a shamed grave digger learning to count details on the bodies and rising in a Confucian China (which forbid the opening of bodies) is a plausible and wholly fascinating premise. Details on court proceedings and the creation of forensic science is mind-boggling to anyone whose had to scrounge on what CSI puts out. The perspective into a 14th century society which used paper money, public transit, and an exam process open to the public to select it’s public officials is incredible.

When Garrido is not forcing events the setting entertains all by itself. One only wishes Garrido had written his outline on a wall and had an editor slash through all that wasn’t pertinent, because the passages steeped in history and necessity are equally satisfying and horrifying.

I also wonder how Garrido reads in his native Spanish. Sometimes an artist’s touch is robbed in the translation. This wilting ancient metropolis at times is shaded in well with a noir feel, but at other points either the translator or Garrido himself takes a “just the facts ma’am” approach.

Check out The Corpse Reader if you’re a Chinese history nut or would enjoy light crime reading set to a different rhythm. Do not seek this book if you want real historical fiction of substance or crime noir.

My Plugs: Check out my vids at Pocketfives Training, contact me for lessons at, see other stuff I write with my friends at, and follow my Twitter @TheAssassinato and Facebook at

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What Do I Ponder Over?

The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook. -William James
I know few things, but I learned a few more today.
When about to get into an argument with your wife she is actually really smart to demand you go walk to the grocery store and get the dog food.
I put my Maltese on my legs and took deep breaths. It’s hard to get into an argument when you feel another little heartbeat depending on your stability. She was in a cage for close to three years. I don’t want to traumatize her more.
For once, stilled, I was able to understand another person’s point of view and human qualities.
One of my pet peeves is not being listened to. I tend to be a little too nonchalant about everything, so when people start leaning on me too hard I get incredulous. But the absurdity of this evident: How could people know what you’re not telling them?
With my family it’s usually an accident, but it bothers me almost all other humans will take advantage of someone if they can.
When was the last time the bad guy didn’t get the girl? That’s not women being dumb either. That’s basic survival. The “good guy” will get walked all over. The asshole will fight for what’s his.
I used to be a sweet kid. Capitalism and my exes knocked that out of me.
But you have to rebuild with Christ’s love in your heart. Nothing will change for you if you don’t first believe it can happen.
How could He ever trust you with more if you can’t even handle your smaller allotment?
You want nice things. You want riches.
A child wants candy. Do you always buy children candy? Do you get it for them every time they ask for it? Would that be the best thing for their health?
Would they appreciate it more if they had to wait?
My Plugs: Check out my vids at Pocketfives Training, contact me for lessons at, see other stuff I write with my friends at, and follow my Twitter at TheAssassinato

Got That

Got that 2000 words done. Time to clean up this office for the first time in months.
Pretty hyped about this battle with @TheSaurus831at this year’s WSOP. Only got a round and some change so far, but hell I got time.
“Now I don’t know karate or kung fu, but I been in this shit since The Art Of War wit Sun Tzu”
I love the smell of disinfectant. I can’t fucking stand the smell of coins. #DeskCleaning
This would have made my head explode as a kid.
I want to be that one meth addict who watches the whole thing…you know, if I could go back to being myself at the end.
Mammoth desk and all drawers cleaned. Wish I was one of those people who felt satisfaction after doing something worthwhile.
I’m trying to cut down my coffee intake to maximum three cups per day. I think I’m dying.
I mean, I sorted everything out into baggies. I wiped down every drawer with a disinfectant wipe. I organized my stationary. #WhyINoFeel
You’re not a god who delights in evil. No criminals will dwell with you – Psalm 5:4
If you had $500 in pennies, you could theoretically melt it down and sell it for $1000 worth of metal.
Finished a Bluff and WPT article over the last couple days. Getting everything done before this SCOOP so I have no distractions this time.

KOTD – Rap Battle – J-Pro vs 100 Bulletz

J-Pro is the truth man. Straight bars with insanely tight delivery.

“Now I don’t know karate or kung fu, but I been in this shit since The Art Of War wit Sun Tzu”

If you can't outplay them, outwork them. -Ben Hogan
Man, everything's going great today! Guess I'll use this computer for something!

*Accidentally opens Internet Explorer*

*Everything Dies*
Wife is out of the house. I guess I have no choice but to blast some metal.

Playing With The Dogs

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Some Men Don’t Get To Drink


‘Don’t be afraid, Zechariah: your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elisabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14This will bring you joy and celebration, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15He will be a great man in God’s sight; he will drink no wine or strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb, 16and will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, and he will turn the hearts of fathers to children, and of unbelievers to the wisdom of the righteous. He will get ready for the Lord a prepared people.’
Some men don’t get to drink. Jesus himself might have loved wine at the parties, but some of us were put on this Earth for different reasons.

Monday, April 7, 2014

“Alex, I’ve Thought Of Suicide”

My name is _____ , i am from _____, not Latvian, but close, still eastern eruopean ” kid “.
First of all, i really admire your work, i discovered your personal blog, pokerheadrush and the ask alex podcasts quite recently, but i am already a huuuge fan. 
I want to share with you my story and i hope you’ll enjoy reading it and in the end i hope you could help me with some advice.
So, i am 22 years old. I’ve loved playing poker since i was 15, playing online freerolls, watching tv shows like a mad man, being the big fan boy of the game’s greatest. I started taking this seriously about 3 years ago. A good friend of mine played Starcraft, he was very skilled and when i made my first couple of hundred euros, i convinced him to play poker. He took down an mtt and started grinding 180man  with very good results, making 60k$ the first year and now he reached maybe 350k$ lifetime profits playing online mtts.
I, on the other side, got stuck in the micro world for 3 years now. I made maybe like 15k$ profit in 3 years, barely survived from this. I started playing 180s, but not putting in the huge volume. After half of the 1st year i was still playing the 2,20$ so my friend began staking me and coaching me. I made some profit, but nothing noticeable, i was living with 500$/month . I was down in make up, but i took down some tournaments so the deal was ended. I started grinding low-mid stakes mtts with 5k$ bankroll and i burned that in less than 3 months, so i ended up busto at the beginning of last year, 2013.
The good part of that period is that i managed to qualify for an EPT. I couldn’t attend the event, because i had no money left to fly over there. So, here i was, depressed out of my mind, but with a shot at an ept, broke, but still i had to go and play the event. I managed to start a bankroll and climbed out of micro multitable sngs  in half of year. I multitabled like a donk and took a 1k$ swing accompanied by bad play and bad mindset… So half a year 2013 lost, with no progress.
I cashed out my bankroll, booked a flight and went to ept, where i met negreanu and all the big names that i was watching when i was a kid, day dreaming about one day sitting beside them at a poker table. It was amazing, the experience of a lifetime. I lasted for 3 days in the event and min cashed.
After all this, i came back home, not very proud of me, but feeling good for the score. I started playing again mtts, again from 5k$ bankroll, again going down till about 500$ bankroll.
I started grinding back in january this year. I made 1.5k$ in the first two weeks, running good. In february i crashed back down to 500$… You could see that coming, right? 
No problem, started again with less tables and more focus. Played some more, so i’m now at 3k$ bankroll. 
This is where all the problems begin. I analyzed my situation and my history hard during this week. I don’t enjoy grinding anymore, i love to play mtts, not 180s. I like to dream about a big score. I’m mike mcd at the beginning of rounders, sadly not at the end, not listening to knish. I lost 10k$ in my mtt adventure and got lucky twice. I haven’t cashed out since i hit my big score, except from when i needed to go to the ept event.
Now, i am out of life roll, financially broke in real life. I’ve played this game for 3 years now. I’m in the worst physical shape of my life with additional medical problems from a car accident. I’m also very depressed. I can’t seem to find my way. I feel this way since i was 18, i thought about suicide many many times since then. I moved in with my parents ( no money, no rent ).  
I have a girlfriend, she’s been with me for a long time. She doesn’t support me in my poker career, she thinks i’m wasting my time and that i will end up a loser if i don’t get a “real job” soon, she sees my struggle and she sees how i destroy myself going nowhere.
I am lost… I don’t sleep well, i feel zombielike…i fall asleep in the morning,like 8am,10am reading/ watching tv shows. I depend on poker and is the only thing that can get me out of this mess, grinding it out like my friend, but everybody around me keeps telling me that i will never reach that performance… I messed up and i’m messed up. 
I enjoy writting ( as you can see from this huge wall of text, sorry for that btw ) and i enjoy reading. I am a creative person, but i don’t have grit. I’ve lost my ambition on the way.
Sooo… This wall of text is my life, my feelings and my soul. What should i do? Should i continue playing? Should i give up totally and start thinking about another career ( i finished college)
… Right now, i’m kind of sick and tired of poker, but is my only alternative, go pro. I have no friends left, except my girlfriend and my  buddy who thinks i suck ass and i’m a total fish, but helps me out with some reviews when he feels like it, but he is one of that players that play and think extremely good, but he doesn’t manage to pass that well enough to the others…
What would you advice me to do? Can i buy one hour coaching with you? This is the most that i can afford… Thank you in advance and god bless you alex for all the good work you do and for the great person you are.
Ps: i am sorry for the spelling mistakes. I wrote the email on my phone. Also, it has been a while since i wrote something in english
Note: To everyone who has written an email, I took this one ahead of time because he said he was suicidal, and I’d feel like an ass if I let it go. I am trying to respond to everyone but there’s a lot going on. TO THE GUY FROM GREECE I TOLD MONTHS AGO I’D WRITE BACK TO, I JUST FOUND YOUR EMAIL AGAIN! My bad.

And the moral of the story I guess is if you want my attention threaten suicide. Anyways, moving on to my response…

First of all, I want to help you, but please understand I work about six different jobs. If I don’t respond to you quickly assume it’s because I am busy, and it’s not something personal. For a long time I didn’t respond to any of these emails because I couldn’t keep up with all of them, and I didn’t want people to think I was intentionally insulting them.

You say you lack grit. This is bullshit. Despite the fact this was written on a cell phone (and has a ton of spelling mistakes) this is some of the most fluent English I’ve read from  _______. You have learned the world’s leading language. That is extremely difficult.

You think you’re a failure. This is wrong. Your friend is an excellent player, but he is in the 0.01%.

You have played for three years, cashed in an EPT, seen a foreign country, met your heroes, and learned so much! You’ve even made money! You’re doing better than I ever did for the first three years.

I am supposed to be a success story because I never deposited online. The truth is when I was fifteen I started grinding home games in the states, every night of the week if I could. There were some weekends I started playing poker on Friday night and didn’t go to sleep till Sunday night.

I never made that much money at this time. I was known as the “addict” in my games. People laughed at me (justifiably…I was a dork who took things too seriously). I read poker books every day, all day. I went to every poker game I could. Kids made fun of me at school because I was always falling asleep in classes or in a poker book. People told me I’d never make it. People even found my email address to send me letters about how shit I was. I played 100+ tournaments over the couple years I played and won 3, and most of these tournaments had 20 people. Actually, I was really pathetic and I was constantly broke. I had to work at an Arby’s, go commercial fishing, work security, move Persian carpet, cut lawns, and do whatever else I could for money. I didn’t travel anywhere for poker. I didn’t know anyone. I was probably a much worse player than you.

Phil Ivey lost money the first two years he played poker. He barely broke even his third year.

Your girlfriend has every right to be worried. You are neglecting her and yourself. You are supposed to manage yourself as a business in poker, and you’re letting your business get worse. You’re not ready to go pro.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t go pro. That doesn’t mean you won’t one day be the best poker player from your country. But it does mean you’re not ready to play professionally now.

Your body is connected to your mind. You feel depressed because your body is naturally screaming for exercise and a regular schedule. Start walking every morning, 20 minutes. If you can’t do that swim. There has to be something you can do. 20 minutes, that’s it. You can do 20 minutes right? YOU NEED NOTHING MORE. Now, if you do 20 minutes and feel good, keep going: It’s all fuel for the fire. The sweat builds your mind’s toughness.

Get a job. My God dude, you have a degree too! You’ve traveled the world, learned it’s leading language, gotten a degree, and learned about a game which could help you make money anywhere on Earth.

You’re not a failure. You don’t lack grit. You just don’t have discipline.

Get a job. Stop playing poker for a month. Don’t watch it on TV, don’t play, and don’t talk about it.

Get on a regular sleeping schedule. Get on a regular work out schedule. If you had a dog who never exercised and slept at weird hours you would know he was going to get depressed. You are no different.

If you smoke weed, stop. If you drink alcohol, stop. They are depressants. It is obviously working as a depressant now. Quitting hurts like hell for three weeks, but you’re no bitch. You can do this.

If you can’t give up the game when you need to you will never beat the game. The game will always own you.

If you want to win the race you need your rally car in top shape. You need to clean the engine now.

If you make progress, every single day, you are a winner; end of story. Make small changes each day. Walk five minutes, ten minutes, and twenty.

Once you’re stable emotionally and financially with a new job, study poker as you would a new career. Risk money you can only afford to lose. Play for the love of the game, because it is only a game. It is not life itself.

My Plugs: Check out my vids at Pocketfives Training, contact me for lessons at, see other stuff I write with my friends at, and follow my Twitter at TheAssassinato

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The “Spread” Phenomenon


As our schools become more feelings centered, risk averse, competition-free, and sedentary, they move further and further from the characteristic sensibilities of boys.
This book explains how it became fashionable to pathologize the behavior of millions of healthy male children. We have turned against boys and forgotten a simple truth: the energy, competitiveness, and corporal daring of normal males are responsible for much of what is right in the world.
The “spread” phenomenon we see in testing shows up in life. There are far more men than women at the extremes of success and failure. And failure is more common. There may be 480 male CEOs of Fortune 500 companies (20 women), 438 male members of Congress (101 women), and 126,515 full professors (45,571 women). But consider the other side of the ledger. More than one million Americans are classified by the Department of Labor as “discouraged workers.” These are workers who have stopped looking for jobs because they feel they have no prospects or lack the requisite skills and education. Nearly 60 percent are men—636,000 men and 433,000 women. Consider also that that more than 1.5 million (1,500,278) men are in prison. For women the figure is 113,462.

Lessens The Rage

“Came across a–a–a funny little editorial the other day about Homer,” Zolo was saying, frowning down at the lectern and sniffing. (Zolo sniffed when he was nervous, when he’d made the brave decision to leave the safe bank of his lecture notes and drift away on a shaky digression.) “It was in a small journal, I encourage all of you to take a look at it in the library, the–the–the little-known, Classic Epic and Modern America. Winter volume, I believe. It turns out, a year ago, a couple of wacko Greek and Latinists like myself wanted to conduct an experiment on the power of the epic. They arranged to give copies of The Odyssey to–to–to a hundred of the most hardened criminals at a maximum-security prison—Riverbend, I think it was—and would you know it, twenty of the convicts read the thing cover to cover, and three of them sat down and wrote their own epic tales. One is going to be published next year by Oxford University Press. The article discussed epic poetry as a very viable means to reform the–the–the deadliest offenders in the world. It–it appears, funnily enough, there’s something within it that lessens the rage, the–the stress, pain, brings about, even to those who are far, far, gone, a sense of hope—because there’s an absence in this day and age of real heroism. Where are the noble heroes? The great deeds? Where are the gods, the muses, the warriors? Where is ancient Rome? Well, they have to–to–to be somewhere, don’t they, because according to Plutarch, history repeats itself. If only we’d have the nerve to look for it in–in ourselves, it just–it just might—” I don’t know what came over me.

Let’s Keep It Real

I just read this article Jack Welch posted. I admit, I felt like crying reading about the poor woman’s predicament, but I feel the liberal writer and the assumed right-wing backlash is completely missing the point.
<br />Shanesha Taylor was arrested for leaving her children in a parked car while she went to a job interview. </p><p> 
Shanesha Taylor was arrested for leaving her children in a parked car while she went to a job interview.

By Leonard Pitts Jr.

“We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.”
Rep. Paul Ryan
“You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a [poor] person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that.”
former South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer
“There are 47 percent who are . . . dependent upon government, who believe they are victims, who believe government has a responsibility to care for them.”
Mitt Romney
Look at her face .
Spend a few quality moments with that image — her booking photo — adjacent to this column. Not so you can be touched by the woeful cast of her expression, not so you can be moved by the tears trickling freely upon her cheeks. Spend that time, rather, so that you can appreciate the realness and individuality of her.
You see, Shanesha Taylor is poor and much of what passes for discussion of the poor in this country is less about people than about types, cardboard cutouts from the overheated imaginations of those who have little idea what poverty even looks like. So study Taylor’s picture in order that you might understand what so many won’t: She is not a type. She is a human being.
Taylor was arrested last week in Scottsdale, Ariz., after leaving her two children, ages two years and six months, alone inside a hot car, the doors locked, the windows open a fraction. It was — let’s be real clear on this — something for which there is no excuse, though it’s also something with which we have become sadly familiar. Some people leave kids in the car while they stop for a drink. Some leave them so they can hit the casino.
Taylor left her kids so she could go to a job interview. She is 35 and homeless. She had no one to watch them. She was desperate for work. She took a chance.
Now her children have been taken away and she is facing two felony counts of child abuse.
And Shanesha Taylor is the enemy. Or at least, that is the narrative that is relentlessly spun by pundits and politicians on the political right. She is lazy, a taker, a moocher, a scavenger, an animal bred in a culture of poverty with an entitlement mentality, and an addiction to suckling from the public teat so overpowering that she lacks even the ability to be embarrassed by her plight. So yes, by all means, cut her welfare, cut her food stamps, cut her unemployment benefits. This is what the right wing says.
About the double-dealing banks that helped trigger a 2008 financial crisis that nearly crashed the U.S. economy they say nothing. About the $500 million a year that is spent on empty military bases Congress refuses to close even though the Army no longer uses or needs them, they are silent. About $159 million the military and State Department spent for buildings in Afghanistan that are not and will not be used, they are mute.
But let an urban legend spread about some joker using food stamps to buy beer, let some indigent seem a little too content in his meager circumstances, and you can’t shut them up. This, they say, is the real problem. These people represent all 46 million poor people in this country. They are the face of poverty.
The poor have no lobbyists, no cable TV network, no national interest group to speak on their behalf, so the lie stands. Even so, it remains a lie.
So take a moment with Taylor’s face. Apparently, she wasn’t a scavenger, wasn’t a moocher, didn’t feel entitled, wasn’t even lazy.
She was just a person who wanted to work so she could provide for her children. Because the true face of poverty is the face of people just trying to make the best they can out of what they’ve got . Not incidentally, that’s probably your face, too.
Let’s keep it real here for a second.
This woman fucked up, but she had more of a right too than most people. Back in the day, I think she could have trusted someone to watch her kids for a few minutes. She could have explained to the cops the situation and they could have gone easier on her. Now, no one does that, but in my mind “the letter of the law” as opposed to “the spirit of the law” has been more of a left-wing insistence.
The poor and “disenfranchised”, i.e. anyone who is not white,male, straight, or Christian, do have a network. It is called CNN. It is called MSNBC. They also have a little newspaper called The New York Times.
It is not an urban myth. I have been on food stamps. They were easy to trade for cigarettes and beer in downtown Seattle.
To be clear, I am not against government assistance. The government has helped my family numerous times. I pay in the highest tax bracket in Costa Rica for my universal healthcare, and while every time I get sick I go to a private clinic anyway I am proud to pay into something that truly helps the poor.
I think its reprehensible when the right insist it is the poor that are dragging this country down. How can we be expected to pay socialized taxes and not receive socialized benefits?
They are, in a way, cardboard cutouts. The right of today has little to nothing to do with real conservative ideals, just like the left barely resembles Kennedy’s form of liberalism. I am against Obama’s view of the world and government, but I refused wholeheartedly to vote for Romney in the last election.
If we want a real compromise this profitable polarity between the two sides must cease. If we want to help the poor then we need to make a smaller government which doesn’t suck every dollar into ineffective bureaucracy.
Government spending is out of control on all fronts, especially the military (as this author points out), but no one seems to propose an alternative to the US being the world’s largest military power. Who would you have take their place? Russia? China? Would that be better for the world? How would Taiwan, South Korea, Israel, and the Eastern bloc fare if we were to take that line?
The double dealing banks received socialized assistance from the government, not a true conservative slap on the ass and “enjoy your deserved bankruptcy.” Costa Rica, while a very liberal country, did just that to a bank a decade ago. It was more tumultuous than a buy-out, but it sent a message. Now, no message has been sent. The right were paid to keep executives in their private jets, and then Obama turned and accepted payouts from the restructured corrupt banking system to be elected president two times.
Blaming the right is not going to do anything. Blaming the left is not going to do anything. You must blame both. This whole system is so corrupted it is, in my opinion, beyond saving. I have newly found respect for the people who founded the USA, who did not believe in the good of people, who sought to make a small government above all else.
Now we have one of the biggest governments in the world, with two parties just playing their agendas. There is no Republican or Democrat. There are professional politicians, paid to pander. And we’re all playing right into it.
My Plugs: Check out my vids at Pocketfives Training, contact me for lessons at, see other stuff I write with my friends at, and follow my Twitter at TheAssassinato

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Funeral Of God

Even when I was an atheist this 2004 whatevercore album really got to me. A concept album from Zao, who once identified themselves as Christian metal, “The Funeral Of God” is one of the most face melting slabs to come off the early 2000′s metalcore assembly line.
God, in this album, has grown weary of mankind’s proclamations of solidarity. Once and for all, he decides to abandon them to their own chosen fate. Unlike many concept albums, which prove themselves insufferable through the artist’s denunciations of proper messages, the hands-off way Zao played to this album justly rewarded them with their highest selling album to date. The dystopian artwork and chaotic songwriting style worked well to provide the rupturing world they hoped to create.
While individual songs certainly shine this is one of those discs I have to listen to all the way through. Crescendos like, ”Live…From The Funeral Of God” work so much better when heard through the entire album’s concept. The track has some of the most haunting breakdowns I’ve ever heard. Lead vocalist Daniel Weyandt thrashes his vocal chords to proclamations of “There’s no reason to be afraid, everything is under control,” while all hell breaks loose behind him musically.
Every song is given their part in the album dutifully. Early cuts rollick with some of Zao’s best melodic guitar lines, the proceedings brought down a notch emotionally from Weyandt’s gutteral style. Later tracks emphasize melody and clean vocals more, with a female lead taking the ending to a depth not seen before in Zao’s career.
I’d really recommend you check out the link in this post. I’ve been banging this CD for ten years, and I’m still not sick of it.