October 20, 2004

In-Class Notes

While writing this blog, I have found that the most difficult time to think of a topic to discuss is when I'm sitting at the computer, staring at a blank page. Somehow the pressure to come up with something in that situation -- even when there's really very little pressure at all -- causes my mind to go blank. Yet, if I'm somewhere else, say in the shower or on the bus, or doing something else, say watching a movie or instant messaging with someone, the ideas flow with ease.

As evidence of that, I was sitting in one of my classes earlier this week, daydreaming about the wonderful world of journalism, when a whole bunch of random topics popped into my head ...

  • If you'd have told me two years ago that Joe Mauer would hit .309/.369/.570 with six homers in 35 games this season, I would have been thrilled. If you'd have told me the exact same thing six months ago, I would have been disappointed. It's funny how that works. Of course, now no one even talks about what Mauer did on the field, because everyone is worried about that damn knee of his.
  • Some of you may have noticed a complete lack of updates on my fantasy football team lately and the reason for that is simple: I started the Baseball Think Factory League season 0-3. So why am I talking about it again now? Again, simple: I have since won three games in a row and I'm within two games of first place. There is nothing better than narrowly winning your game after you pick up Jermaine Wiggins off the waiver wire and he scores two touchdowns on Sunday night.
  • I had to be all vague and say that "I was sitting in one of my classes" while I thought of this stuff because, frankly, too many people know about this blog now. That's usually a good thing, obviously, but gone are the days when I could write about an awkward conversation I had in class, a boring lecture by a teacher, or another student peeing on himself in front of everyone.

    It's a sad thing, really. I used to have to sort of censor myself because my mom and some other members of my family might be reading, but now it's gone way beyond that, as people in all of my classes have discovered my little website (that picture in the Star Tribune didn't help matters). Of course, all of my classes this semester are great, the teachers are wonderful, the students are all completely normal, and nothing strange has happened.

  • As I get older, this blog gets more and more visitors, and my family's nagging about me getting a job grows stronger, I have been thinking about ways to make money from the writing I'm already doing here. I know the idea of me getting money from this blog is appalling to some of you, so I figured I should get everything out in the open so you can all be appalled together.

    As you may have noticed, I have two small ads for ticket brokers on the left-hand side of this page, for which I am being paid a small but substantial amount of money. Some of you also may remember that I had Google Ads on that same sidebar for a while, but I decided to take them down a couple months ago because the amount of money they generated wasn't worth taking up all that space (and appalling all of those readers).

    I'm not against the idea of having more ads on this blog, as long as they remain unintrusive like the ones I have now are. I'm also not against additional ways of generating income from this blog, as I know there are plenty of bloggers out there who have steady streams of income coming in solely from their blogs. Of course, I don't know enough about this sort of stuff to think of anything brilliant on my own, so if any of you have a product you'd like to advertise here or have some ideas for revenue-generating opportunities that are available to me, I'd love to hear from you. And if you just feel like yelling at me because I'm a greedy bastard, you're welcome to e-mail too.

  • On a somewhat related note, this blog went over the 800,000-visitor mark earlier this week, and at the rate we're going right now -- about 2,500-3,000 visitors per weekday -- one million total visitors is within reach by the time pitchers and catchers report for spring training. According to Blogger, I have written 632 entries totaling 914,924 words in the history of this blog. I have also included 13,774 "outward links" to various things, including at least 11,000 to pictures of Jessica Alba (make that 11,001). If only I got paid by the word ...
  • A few weeks ago I mentioned that I didn't really keep track of the specifics of my poker playing and a whole bunch of you e-mailed me to suggest a product called Poker Tracker that keep tabs on almost literally everything while you play online. I bit the bullet and bought it, and I am definitely not disappointed. (And no, that's not one of those ads I was talking about, I really did buy it.)

    I can't recommend it enough, although it actually has so many numbers and keeps track of so many things that it's difficult for me to get a handle on what the numbers mean, which numbers are actually meaningful, and what changes I should make to my game based on the numbers. I think I need a veteran Poker Tracker user to take a look at my numbers and give me their assessment.

  • I haven't played a "ring game" in at least a month, instead sticking to what I do best: 10-person, no-limit sit-and-go tournaments. One thing I've noticed lately is that I really tighten up when I have a low-to-medium stack of chips and there are only four players remaining, with the top three finishers winning money.

    One of my favorite moments from this year's World Series of Poker was when the event got close to the money cutoff, when people who get knocked out get paid rather than go home empty-handed, and Gus Hansen said something like: "Did you hear that boys? We're getting really close to the money!" A couple of the other professionals at the table laughed at Hansen and someone said, "Now Gus, why would you want to make sure to tell everyone that?"

    The reason is that clearly he was trying to impact the play of the table. The idea being that Hansen, who has won plenty of tournaments and millions as a professional poker player, doesn't really care if he finishes one spot out of the money or if he stays in another three hands and gets his $10,000 entry fee back. He's in it to win the whole damn thing, and if some of the amateurs or inexperienced players start worrying about sticking around long enough to win some money, they will likely tighten up their play, at which point Hansen can take advantage and steal a few pots.

    Of course, finishing one spot out of the money in a $20 sit-and-go tournament makes a pretty big difference to me. Because of that, I don't necessarily mind that I tighten up when I'm low-to-medium stacked with four players left, but I should then make an effort to take advantage of other players doing the same thing when I'm holding the big stack at the table and in no danger of being eliminated out of the money.

Today at The Hardball Times:

- What Goes Around (by Larry Mahnken)

- Interference (by Craig Burley)

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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