October 25, 2011

Math Attacks

What a journey! For those that followed along my 30-episode video series it was probably, too. I never thought it could be so emotional, but it really was great. It was great - like a paper I was working on on the side, but with instant gratification of publication. Thank you deucescracked for the opportunity to present it. I really think the series is going to be important as a reference series for years to come!

A lot has happened over the last 6 months and the book and the series always went with me. The book has suffered, it is falling apart now, but it has been worked through cover to cover. I would always carry with me some sheets of empty paper on which I would write out some ideas or carry out the calculations. By the end of the course I was in the groove of it, but the number of sheets also had grown - there was so many interesting things to write out. I started the book series almost wanting to insert my own little theories in there, by the end I was in awe of how much information there actually was in there and all I could do is to add in some fun stories or quirky info.

But the things that will linger with me the most was the scenery that surrounded me with the series. This recollection is mostly for me, so that I don't forget the feeling, that sense of what was going through my mind at the time. Please bear with me as I go through the chapters.

Chapter 1 was done with the nervousness of a little kid - how would the audience take to it? There were some problems with the first video, I know that now. If I knew then what I know now... 

Chapter 2 was already on a journey to Germany. I was there to get a VISA to stay in the US for 3 more months. A mere three months. But I wanted to leave. Any excuse to play. Coaching was going well, poker was good. Only science was... ahem, the motivation was lacking. I remember the temporary apartment we had rented googling crazy Gaussian curves, how immersed I was.

Chapter 3 was now in Paris for a conference. How the theme to my mood was FOOD. I ate so much and at every restaurant I wasn't with the conference attendees, the book was with me. I couldn't play online poker in France, "Math Attacks" was the next best thing.

Chapter 4 was now in a totally different setting. The high from a winning 20/40 8 hour session in Las Vegas. Of spending a weekend with my mom in Vegas - my goodbye to the city of gamble. No more quick weekends, the next time I will visit LV it will be a big trip, a whole production. And again, among that was the book, online poker and my interview on "Hey Ball" about it.

Chapter 5 was nothing special in the sense that it didn't include any trips or anything like that, but I distinctly remember sitting in an IHOP for 4 hours writing out stuff for the series. The homeyness of the whole situation, the bad coffee, the waitresses shouting "honey", the 1500 calorie breakfast - ah, I love greasy american coffee shops.

It seems ironic now that a chapter on Internet Poker would coincide with Black Friday, but it did. That was Chapter 6 for me. I was thankful it was suck a short one. I was glued to the computer screen, refreshing Twitter, skyping people, listening to rumors, reading speculation. 

Chapter 7 marked my departure from work. I worked through the Chapter in a quick fashion, hoping that nobody would notice (it wasn't my proudest work), because my thoughts were at work a lot. For a few weeks I really didn't know if I was ever going to do science again, if I was going to work in an University setting. And at the same time, the coming and going in academia is normal, so there were no tearful goodbyes, just a lot of "see you later"s.

And by contrast Chapter 8 was the first one out of work. Supposedly concentrating on the work at hand (the videos) now completely, since I was not working anymore, the move was still a few weeks away and there was no internet poker. But somehow I managed to procrastinate always, enjoying my first week off work for a long time.

Chapter 9 is accompanied with cool feelings. I really dug that chapter. But what I liked too were the goodbye parties and those things you do "one last time". The one that sticks to my mind was going to a baseball game. I miss it already. Yes MLB.TV, whatever, the games come so late here. I miss the game!

Chapter 10 was the time my best friend visited me from Colorado. Now here's a time where I wished I didn't have to the videos. I spent 4 days basically chatting, yet I feel we didn't spend enough time together. It was me doing the video, packing boxes and doing other administrative work for the move.

Chapter 11 was the last one in the US. We had no furniture anymore, not many places to sit in my home. My siblings were on the couch sleeping, helping with the move. I ended up recording it in the garage, since I usually recorded at night. Weird place, cold, but good memories.

Chapter 12 was written out somewhere over the Atlantic, my whole life in tow. It was recorded within a day of arriving in between registration and going to pick up our car the next day. Thank God we had fast internet. I really hope you guys could take something from it, since it is one of the most valuable chapters of the whole book. The tables alone form the basis of some SnG training sites. And here I was trying to condense it into an hour. This might have been one of the most intense chapters I produced.

For Chapter 13 I then suffered the consequences. We settled in extremely fast, but I got sick very quick, too. You'd think that we were busy buying stuff and doing administrative stuff. Yeah, a bit. But most of the time was actually spent visiting friends and me being in bed with a cold. My voice was not the best in the video, but the subject matter was easy and quick.

Chapter 14 was spent at the inlaws. Lots of time, very relaxing, I really like them. Only one little problem: they live in rural Germany. Yes, there exist places where there is no cell phone reception and no DSL connection (the cable doesn't reach). I had no way to upload the video, the modem connection broke down constantly. So I drove to the nearest hotel like 10 miles away and uploaded from there. Only by then it was 1am and the hotel was closed. Fun times were spent on the benches in front of the hotel watching the upload for 3 hours, listening to podcasts and watching a porcupine family come and go in front of me (they didn't seem fazed of somebody sitting there).

Chapter 15 I cursed to the heavens. This is where I budged. Why did the longest, most difficult chapter have to come on the week where the job fair was? I had to give up. The video for that week came out on Sunday. I never made it with the appendix and good thing because that alone was almost another hour. If I knew then what I know now sort of thing... The job fair was a waste of time, I know that now. But it felt good to be wanted, to have the interviews. It was on programs for returning german scientists. It fortified the idea in my mind that suddenly Germany was really preoccupied with getting the best minds here and I was proud. The exact opposite was happening in America - cuts, cuts, cuts.

Chapter 16 was a fun one. My friend from California visited with her husband. She studied physics, too. So the days were spent at the science museum, but also doing the normal Berlin tourism.

For Chapter 17 I talk about this one important job interview I had. It was for a global science management position. A little bit our of my league as I found out during the interview. It was cool that I was even competing, but yeah, a bit to high. Reach for the stars and all, but I didn't get it. But it gave me confidence - heh, they invited me for the interview, they think I can actually do this!

Chapter 18 was another friend visiting, this time my childhood friend from Guatemala. And the memories are from sightseeing and good food. And value regions! :)

And finally this is where I started settling in. It was funny, once my daughter actually went to school on Aug 15th, I quickly went to work on finding a job and got one within a few days (lol). The rest of the chapters was a blur, well, not exactly a blur, but they had a routine in them. I'd come home from work and work on the chapters. Sure there were some close calls when I was working on a telescope deadline when I would work through the last possible night on Math Attacks. Another day I had to record it at work, because it was basically impossible to do it at home. That was the one where I am outside and it turned out to be beautiful, even though it was the end of September, the weather was great outside and it was a great backdrop to record. But in the end, after Chapter 18 it had a nice rhythm to it and no special situations that much. In between I was also on "Deuce Plays". While I don't think I garnered that many more subscriptions to the video series, I do think I got people to think a bit differently about math in poker.

Before I leave you, I want to again reiterate my thanks to deucescracked for giving me the opportunity to give the course. You'd think that it was a lot more work for me, why in the hell am I thanking them, but it's not work if it's fun, right? So now it is Tuesday night, I don't need to write anything out, no video to record, no powerpoint to prepare... what am I ever going to do? Ah, I know. Actually play poker! See you next week, guys. But now again on the blog!

Posted By bellatrix at 09:02 PM


Tags: introspection


Joe Tall posted on October 26, 2011 at 19:21 PM


Thank you!

jaimestaples posted on October 27, 2011 at 16:50 PM


So awesome how hard you worked on this. Going to tackle this series over the holidays and looking forward to it.

Do you still coach on the side. I have had 2 theories kinda bouncing around in my head for a while that i feel like i need someone with a math background to let me know when they are correct and incorrect (at what stack depths, against what player types, how icm would affects things etc. etc.). I would love if we could figure something out for just an hour or so.

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