4 Random Thoughts
I’m off from work this week (April vacation) so I’ve been getting a little bored. Here’s four random thoughts to brighten your day.
4) The U.S. government has shut down a number of online gambling sites, including Full Tilt Poker and Poker Stars. Technically, these sites are still operational, but the real money option has been frozen, meaning that the only way to play is by using “play chips.” Playing poker for fake money is like playing basketball without keeping score. Sure, the activity is the same but the stakes are so low that no one cares and people inevitably start dicking around.
I caught onto the online poker phenomenon relatively late; I opened an account about a month and a half and promptly lost the 25 dollars I had deposited. I threw in another 25, did a little better, then lost it again. Finally I bought in for 50, vowing to get to 100 bucks, cash out, and call it a career. I ended up doing fairly well, mainly playing in low entry fee Sit and Go Tournaments. I got some good breaks and got my stack up to 130 bucks. Did I cash out? Of course not. I forged ahead, delusions of winning more and more money dancing in my head.
I then went on a bad losing streak where I couldn’t catch a break, and my money dwindled to 85 dollars. It was around this time that I heard the news that Full Tilt was under attack from the U.S. government. Here’s a quote from Forbes (read the full article here) “The indictment filed by Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, charges Scheinberg, the founder of PokerStars, and Bitar, the founder of Full Tilt Poker, as well as nine other individuals, accusing them of operating illegal gambling businesses. Federal prosecutors also filed a civil lawsuit seeking $3 billion in civil money laundering penalties, alleging the online poker companies disguised money they received from U.S. poker players as payments to online merchants selling jewelry and golf balls.”
Not sure what the business about making payments to online merchants selling jewelry and golf balls (?!) is all about, but it doesn’t look like this site will be getting back anytime soon. It’s not too big a deal for me; I think I’ll be able to survive without my 80 bucks. But what about all those gambling degenerates who have half of their life savings tied up in online poker?
I’ll say this much about online poker; it really helped improve my poker skills. Playing online means you get a chance to play a ton of hands in a very short period of time, so it sort of let you experiment with different styles to see what works and what doesn’t. Granted, people play online a bit differently than they would in real life, and it’s pretty much impossible to get any kind of reads on your opponents. But still, I got much, much better in the 50 days or so on Full Tilt.
3) Franklin and Bash looks awful, but at least it kind of seems like the creators are aware of the show’s poor quality. For God’s sake, when a show’s taglines are “This much fun should be illegal” and “Franklin and Bash: Turning the courtroom upside down” one has to hope no one on board is taking it too seriously.
Finally got my Playstation back a few weeks ago, so naturally I have been playing Call of Duty: Black Ops on the regular. It’s not much of a deviation from the other titles in the series, but the online play is enjoyable. For some reason, I’m way better at this game than I ever was at World at War, probably because somebody isn’t getting attack dogs.
The part of the game I really like is the Nazi Zombies, which is now referred to as just “Zombies.” Apparently, the game’s creators did not want to offend any Nazis who might be playing the game out there. If you haven’t played the game, it’s a 1-4 player game in which players are trapped in a small area with waves after wave of undead Nazis swarming you. The game has evolved a lot since the first level, the simplistic “Nacht der Untoten.” They’ve added a Pack-A-Punch Machine which increases the power and ammunition capacity of your weapon, they’ve added perks which increase your strength and quickness, and they’ve added a number of interesting weapons and grenades.
Here’s the problem with Nazi Zombies: there’s no end. The game, quite literally, never ends. No matter how many undead fleshbags you send back to hell, there will always be more. It’s quite frustrating, this knowledge that, no matter how well you do, you will always fail. Actually, I guess one could argue that their are many endevors in life which are predestined to end in failure. For instance, you could be the world record holder in the marathon, but there will still be room for improvement, still be some person out there saying “Can’t you go just a little faster?” The same principle applies to Zombies, I suppose, but video games are generally thought of as having a definite endpoint and the fact that there isn’t one in this otherwise kick-ass game sort of sullies the whole experience, for me anyway.
In Black Ops, there are three new maps. I’ve only played the first two, Kino der Toten (didn’t bother to check if that’s how it’s spelled, but if you’ve played the game you know what I’m talking about here) and Five. Kino der Toten is almost too easy. I played with a friend and I’m sort of embarrassed to say that we got to level 27. I’m subsequently adopting a don’t ask, don’t tell policy when it comes to how long the damn thing took to finish. The second level, Five, is really inventive and interesting, but also freaking hard. It’s best to play that one over the internet, but the quality of players on the internet varies widely so that’s always a gamble.
There is a point I wanted to make though, and it’s this: video games are a massive waste of time. Don’t play them. They do nothing for you, really, other than to provide some fleeting sense of enjoyment. I’m not going to follow my own advice, obviously, but I advise all people who don’t currently waste their time playing video games to stay that way, and I commend those out there who don’t play them for their commitment to doing something productive.
1) Watching James Harden on the OKC Thunder always makes me think of how good the Thunder could have been if they had only picked Steph Curry over Harden in the draft a couple years back. Harden is an average player. He’s got a decent jump shot, he plays alright defense. He has a neat beard. That’s the main thing, he’s got a Hall-of-Fame level beard.
Stephen Curry though, is a special player. He’s not very tall, and he’s not particularly strong. In fact, one might go so far as to call him weak, at least in comparison to other NBA players. He’s not even blazingly fast. But the man has a unique ability to get his shot off, and when that shot goes up, there’s a very good chance it’s going in. Curry shot 44% from the three point line this year, despite being one of two primary scorers on the Warriors. Imagine what that percentage could have been if Curry had 1) Kevin Durant, one of the top 2 or 3 scorers in the league and 2) Russell Westbrook, a guy who can get into the lane virtually any time he wants.
Curry on the Thunder would have been the perfect fit. Paired with Westbrook in the Thunder backcourt, he would have had the luxury of playing shooting guard on offense and guarding point guards on defense, as Westbrook can guard the bigger shooting guards. I know hindsight is 20-20, but man, how fun would a starting lineup of Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, and Kendrick Perkins be to watch?