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Sleepless in Fulham: Rambling and gambling by David Young
Monday, 15 January 2007
A thought experiment
Topic: Misc.

Sorry blogging's been light lately. I'm in the middle of exams for my course and I've caught a cold again, which makes it hard to concentrate. I do however have a hypothetical question to consider. I wonder what readers think.

Imagine that one day, all of the white people in Britain left and only non-white UK citizens remained. Would there be more racism or less? Ignore any economic effects and assume that net income per capita remains the same.

Monday, 8 January 2007
Come friendly bombs ...
Topic: Television

Recently Peter Birks mentioned a game called 'humiliation' on his blog. The idea is that a group of people tell each other what films they haven't seen. You get a point for every person who's seen a film that you haven't. So if you've never seen 'The Godfather' or 'The Great Escape' you should score well. I wouldn't do well at the game, as I've seen most of the classics. I might pick up some points for not having seen 'The Lion King' or 'Shrek', but that's about it.

I might do better if there were a television version. I'm proud to say that last year I didn't watch a full minute of 'The X Factor', 'Strictly Come Dancing' or 'I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here'. The latter did interest me as a betting medium a few years ago, but I can't be bothered to put the hours in any more. I wish all these reality shows and elimination contests would go away. I can't believe that people aren't already sick of them. I did watch the new intake of so-called celebrities into the Big Brother household last week, but that was by chance. Having caught it while scanning the channels, I stayed on to see whether there were any figures I would find interesting from the world of politics or current affairs. I was stunned when they got George Galloway last year and part of me hoped that Tony Benn might have walked down the red carpet this year, but it was not to be. The selection they've got this time is dismal in the extreme. The subsequent arrival of Jade Goody suggests that the format has been stretched to the absolute limit. Thank heavens for ABC1. I don't think I could have survived last year without regular viewings of 'Scrubs' and 'Less than Perfect'. I seen most of them now but I would still rather watch an episode I've seen before than any of the current 'reality' shows.

The emptiness of so much contemporary TV does bring me down. I don't mind it being explicit or suggestive. I'm not Mary Whitehouse. It's the 'look at me' narcissism of people who do absolutely nothing and haven't a thought in their head that bothers me. I often used to wonder what some of Britain's religious minority communities thought of the culture of the majority population when they see Big Brother contestants, most of whom are barely even cretins, unable to hold conversations about anything other than themselves. I got the chance to find out last year while talking to some young veiled and headscarved muslim women I met at the university where I'm taking night classes (a subject for another time). Contrary to what you might think, they were very articulate. They clearly found being muslim very exciting and so I tried to see things from their point of view and asked a leading question:

'I guess then when you look at things like Big Brother, you must think that western society is pretty empty'.

I've never seen someone nod so hard. So with that in mind, what would they make of this programme description? It's something I copied down from the info page on Freeview:

 'The Ashlee Simpson Show'

Jessica Simpson's younger sister Ashlee sets out to become a pop star. Ashlee's friends surprise her with a cake on her 20th birthday. She also decides on a haircut.

Betjeman's take on Slough springs to mind. I don't want you to think that these ladies support violence. They don't. But others from religious backgrounds do and it's not always foreign policy that motivates them. The human soul does from time to time feel the need for something to inspire it. The emptiness of much of modern culture instead leaves a void for extremists to fill.

_ DY at 1:04 AM GMT
Updated: Monday, 8 January 2007 1:11 AM GMT
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Thursday, 4 January 2007
Asking Iraq
Topic: Politics
I've been meaning to write a long piece about Iraq for a few weeks now, but a nasty cold and the Christmas holiday have put this on the back burner. At the end of it I was going to link to an opinion poll taken in Iraq back in September, which I really should have brought up at the time. It now occurs to me that it's worth a posting in its own right. I'm surprised how much gets written about Iraq without any reference to the polls taken there. I'm sure many people aren't even aware that polls are taken there at all. Here is one -

There are many findings. Of note is that when asked the question:

'Thinking about any hardships you might have suffered since the US-Britain invasion, do you personally think that ousting Saddam Hussein was worth it or not?'

Sixty-one per cent said 'Yes', that it was worth it. Obviously very few of these people have read the Guardian and thus have not had the benefit of Polly Toynbee's wisdom on the matter. They may have been forced to rely on their own first hand experience instead.

The poll shows that Iraqis want US forces to withdraw within a year to two years, but only a minority (37 per cent) want the withdrawal to take place within six months. There is support for attacks on US troops, but the main reason for this is not because of what the US army has done in the war, but because of a widespread view that the US is building permanent bases in the country (77 per cent believe this) and that it would not remove its forces if asked to by the Iraqi government (78 per cent believe this). Support for attacks on US troops drops by half when those who support them are asked whether they would still support them if the US made a firm commitment to go when requested to by the Iraqi government.

There is growing confidence in the ability of the Iraqi security forces. There is majority support for US forces training Iraqi security forces, though most feel that they aren't doing well enough at it. The poll shows strong disapproval of Al Qaeda and bin Laden, which rather dismisses the idea that the occupation is creating new Al Qaeda terrorists.

There's plenty to read. Check it out.

_ DY at 3:32 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 4 January 2007 3:56 PM GMT
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Monday, 18 December 2006
Short stack play in online omaha.
Topic: Poker

There's been an interesting thread on 2+2 recently. No, not that one. I'm talking about the growing dissatisfaction with the fact that so many online pot limit omaha players are playing with short stacks. I recently spent a couple of weeks multi-tabling PLO at Pokerstars, so it's a subject that's fresh in my mind. It was while playing there a few weeks ago that I suddenly thought of a winning strategy for playing omaha with a small stack on several tables at once. I didn't follow through on it because I was already winning by playing a deep stack game, but I did wonder whether any friends of mine had thought of it too.

When I asked around, a couple of people mentioned that Rolf Slotboom had written something similar to it in a book. I decided to see whether anyone on Stars was playing the way I was thinking of, but concluded that the small stacks weren't doing what I would have expected them to. Basically if you're going to go all in before the flop with a small stack then you either want to have two aces in your hand or none. Yet I kept seeing people doing it with one, which makes no sense to me.

A glance at the PLO forum on 2+2 shows a great deal of irritation with Slotboom for encouraging short stacked play. Technically he's not the first writer to have floated the idea. One of the Sklansky/Malmuth books explains why the ideal buy-in for limit 7-card stud is the running ante only, which isn't allowed. However Slotboom has gone much further and outlined a practical 'system'.

When his critics aren't complaining about his book, they are petitioning for an increase in the minimum buy-in. They say that too many short stacks are killing the game. I think they have a point. In my opinion, the fact that the stack sizes are so much lower in relation to the blinds, compared to typical live games, is a far more significant difference between live and online play than the presence or absence of physical tells. To see whether the complaint is valid, I decided to check out the state of affairs on four full ring (nine-handed) $1/2 games on Pokerstars.

This is what I saw:

Neva -$282, $342, $210, $279, $386, $145, $200, $27, $150

Leo Minor - $255, $96, $194, $200, $219, $179, $170, $207, $42

Jiangi - $177, $558, $120, $112, $209, $178, $177, $189, $196

Chalonge - $140, $175, $191, $220, $124, $14, $38, $198, $133

Compared to the Victoria's omaha games, this is very shallow stuff. On table Jiangi, there are only two players with more than the max buy-in. One of them only exceeds this by $9! Has only one person doubled up? Perhaps; but if not, where's the rest of the money? The answer to that is one of the reasons I tend to get fed up with online poker after a few weeks of it and return to live play - the incredible, by live standards, preponderance of the hit-and-run. Seriously, does anyone apart from me stay longer than three minutes after a double-up? I've lost count of the times I've gone a couple of buy-ins behind, only to see after a quarter of an hour that none of the people who won my money are still there. The flip side is that when I double through and stick around, after an hour or so, I start to wonder what the point is, when nobody else is close to matching me dollar for dollar.

Perhaps having an hourly charge discourages nursing a small stack. The Vic's £10 per hour in the hundred game is just over three big blinds (five, when the big blind was £2 not so long ago). That might deter people from clinging on for dear life with only seven or nineteen BBs, as two players on table Chalonge were doing. Whatever the case, I'll be interested to see what happens. Will 'stars take notice and raise the minimum buy-in? I would like to think so. But in order for that to happen, there would have to be some senior decision-makers working in the company who understand the game from a player's point of view rather than a marketing exective's. I've told Lee Jones, Rich Korbin, Conrad Brunner and Dan Goldman that the Sit'n'Go lobby is far too cluttered and splits the liquidity providers (people who sit down first) several times. But instead of being simplified it gets more and more complicated, with the end result that you get a large number of lists, with only a few names each on them. Surely the reverse would be more profitable?

Meanwhile the omaha games are still profitable for now because, as Big Dave D reports, many people are not correctly applying Slotboom's strategy. But in the long term there is a danger that the short stack approach will kill the game. Will 'stars react in time before the game dries up or drifts elsewhere? The race is on!

Thursday, 14 December 2006
Borat, the view from Lebanon.
Topic: Misc.

I've still not seen Borat and don't plan to either. However a friend in Beirut has seen it and has this to say:

I've just seen the complete pile of crap that is the film 'Borat'. I only went because my brother wanted to see it. It's shit. It's really annoying to see that prick running around taking advantage of honest, well meaning American folk. Actually, they come across very well. He comes across as a complete prick. The 'create-strawmen-in-order-to-ridicule-and-lampoon-anti-semitists' is wearng thin. I bet that cunt spent a lot of time trying to trick and induce innocent people into making any kind of anti-semitic remarks. It's just not funny.

The second point is that Kazakhstan has the second biggest Energy reserves of any of the former soviet block. The country is progressing. Unlike the UK. No doubt in 10 years time, the average Kazakhstani won't be handing over 1/3 of his salary to subsidise immigrants claiming benefit. Nor will he be paying 50% of his post-tax pay to a landlord, in order to rent some shitty 200 yr old hovel.

When I asked if I could post this on my site he said:

You can add that my sole wish is to see 'Borat II The Out-takes'. This film would be constructed of the film shot that contained the come-backs from the Americans. The comments made by people who cut short the interviews. Perhaps some 'talking-head' commentary from Pamela Anderson's lawyer relating to how his behaviour is going to induce some lunatic into trying to abduct her in future.

The thing that offends me is the deliberate and insiduous way that he attempts to cajole them into saying something which he can then craftily edit, in a way, to 'expose' and ridicule them. It is the lowest form of television. This is particularly cheap when he does it with a group of frat guys who are clearly pissed. It's a bit like the seedy guy who hangs around at a party waiting to hit on the drunk girl sitting in the corner without her friends. The scene of sending up the dirt-poor prostitute is particularly sickening.

The humour of Borat is blatantly racist. We are supposed to laugh along with our atavistic prejudices against the 'other' foreign culture that he represents, and how we (the west) are unable to culturally communicate with it. It is the one (tedious) joke in the film.

In fact, the result is the opposite. The people he meets are polite, and display no outward bound prejudices against him whatsoever. This is despite the USA being a relatively isolated country. For many in Middle America, the sole cognisance of 'people like Borat' is of September 11. Yet they are unfailingly positive and courteous with him.

I suggest viewing 'Team America:World Police' instead. It is much funnier, and infinitely more culturally incisive.

_ DY at 10:58 AM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 14 December 2006 11:01 AM GMT
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Sunday, 10 December 2006
Accounting for books
Topic: Misc.

Can anyone explain to me how the book business works? I love reading and have hundreds of books at home. But I’m baffled by the industry that publishes and sells them.


Is it really necessary for books to appear only in hardback form for six months before being released in paperback? I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen an interesting book in a shop but refused to buy it because it was only available in hardback. I don’t see why I should pay an extra £6 for a harder cover. I find it hard to believe that this strategy is profitable. It means that the book is at its most expensive at the point it gets the most publicity. By the time it’s made into paperback, something else is being discussed in the media and potential buyers who were put off paying the higher price may have forgotten about it.

Biographies of Non Entities

I’m bewildered at the plethora of biographies of people who’ve done little or nothing with their lives – winners (and losers) of reality shows being the obvious example. Is there really the demand for these books? They seem to be heavily marked down everywhere I shop.

Lack of Choice for the buyer

How was it possible for Waterstones to acquire Dillons and Ottakar's? Likewise, how was it possible for Borders to take Books etc?The latter doesn’t have very many branches outside London, so in many towns, Waterstones is the only large chain retailer around. (I’m not counting WH Smith here, as its offering tends to be rather narrowly focused on bestseller writers like Patricia Cornwell, Michael Crichton and Ian Rankin.) The situation is slightly better if you live in a University town, as there is usually a Blackwell’s too.

The online buyer doesn’t have that much choice either. If you look at the Borders website, you’ll see that its online sales operation is merged with Amazon. Booksonline ( is exclusively catering to the Dutch market now.

Merging Science Fiction and Fantasy

Why on earth are these two quite different genres put in the same section of so many stores? It’s ridiculous that novels by Isaac Asimov and Philip K Dick are placed next to stories about wizards and dragons.


On the plus side, it's nice so see that Foyle's has caught up with the rest of the world and abandoned its stalinist payment policies. Does anyone else remember having to run around the shop with receipts? If you told the young people today .....

_ DY at 3:26 AM GMT
Updated: Sunday, 10 December 2006 3:36 AM GMT
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Tuesday, 5 December 2006
Sponsored by 3M?
Topic: Misc.

If you were promoting this book, would you put the following in the synopsis?

"A mysterious Mongolian mogul harbors a dream of restoring the conquests of ancient Mongolia."

I love the mysterious Mongolian mogul, but why stop there? Why not have a myriad of mythological midget minstrels mining a mound of medieval metal in Moldova? The trouble with some writers is that they just don't go far enough.

_ DY at 12:40 PM GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 5 December 2006 12:44 PM GMT
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Friday, 1 December 2006
A new poker blogger.
Topic: Poker

I've added a new poker blogger to my sidebar (see left column). It's the new blog from Hugo Martin, also known as "The Sweep"*. Hugo works for something called, about which I know nothing. His blog is 


*This is because Allan Engel said Hugo looked like he was auditioning for the part of a chimney sweep in Oliver Twist. When I read that I laughed for about 24 hours.

I guess you had to be there.

Wednesday, 29 November 2006
No more procrastination.
Topic: Misc.

Sorry I've not posted much lately. A writer on the Hendon Mob forum seems to know why -

Quote: "Ah yeah, the good old days when David Young used to procrastinate on every subject from A to Z."

And I'll get around to procrastinating again some time. Tomorrow definitely.

Meanwhile, here's my award for the category of 'You'll be all right'. It's from the Skills Exchange board on the Gum Tree:

Quote: "I am a photographer looking for a female life model for a nudist video and photo shoot to carry out at weekends. In exchange I can offer English lessons or my culinary skills."

Or loosely translated: "You take your clothes off while I take pictures and in return, I'll cook you a meal or explain the subjunctive."

_ DY at 3:00 AM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 29 November 2006 3:03 AM GMT
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Sunday, 19 November 2006
Topic: Misc.

I can't make up my mind whether to see the film 'Borat'. I've seen clips on TV and some of it seems funny. But other bits seem to drag on too long. I've had the same feeling watching Ali G before - wishing he'd just conclude the interview after he's got a few gags in (a la Dennis Pennis) instead of dragging it out. Fry and Laurie got it right with their 'vox pop' gags: no painful pauses.

But that's not my only problem with 'Borat'. I'm also frankly sick of British comics making fun of Americans. I can't help thinking that it reveals an inferiority complex that we have - that sense of faded imperial glory that comes from no longer being a major world power. We get our revenge by having Daisy Donovan, Louis Theroux or Sacha Baron Cohen crossing the Atlantic and showing us that while the yanks may have a bigger economy, higher incomes, a bigger military and a major film industry, they can't spot when some crafty English comic is pulling a fast one on them. Perhaps that's fun for you, but for me it just emphasises the fact that we have a chip on our shoulder about them. At least Clive James varied the schtick a bit when he mocked the Japanese game show 'Endurance' all those years ago. Then again, he did it at a time when many British industries were being decimated by competition from Japan. Revenge tasted sweet.

But the chief problem I have with Borat is that it mocks the fact that Americans try hard to see the best in outsiders, rather than immediately assuming the worst. Of course that can be naive. But I think it's a rather charming feature. In general I find most Americans to be far more pleasant and friendly than Europeans. It applies less to the people in New York and California, who can be a bit brash, and to the natives of Las Vegas, for whom meeting foreigners is no big deal. But get into the heartland of America, to places like Oklahoma, and prepare to be amazed at how polite most people are.

I could go on, but Christopher Hitchens has seen it and says it so much better:

_ DY at 2:29 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 20 November 2006 12:31 AM GMT
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Thursday, 16 November 2006
Guest contribution by Dominic Bourke.
Topic: Misc.

Give us a K, give us an E, give us an N

by Dominic Bourke

I think this is great:

My main issue is a safety one. The types of 4x4 that are driven round my area are way bigger than the average car, considerably heavier and have a far higher point of impact in any collision. If I get hit by a Ford Focus at 25 mph, I fancy my chances of walking (ok then hobbling) away from it. I would make myself a decent favourite not to suffer injuries that would diminish my quality of life on a permanent basis. If I get hit by one of the tanks that are the vehicle of choice round here, then you are pretty much attending my funeral. The fact that I keep reading studies that show these cars are in disproportionately more accidents than regular family saloons does not fill me with joy. The main theory behind it is that because the car is so big they drive in a more aggressive/reckless manner, as they feel so safe and confident. I have another theory....

I live in 4x4 central, and in this case, the C in C-Charge very much stands for ****. I would guess that about 70% of the cars that park in the bus stop outside of Raoul's and then want a shout-up with the Parking Warden would be subject to this charge (it irritates me so much because there is no lack of parking within a 5 minute walk, and it's a bloody bus stop so there is no doubt about the legality of parking there!) It just demonstrates their view that rules don't apply to them, and are merely there to tell other people what to do. They are driven by the same upper middle class couples that Dave always says aren't breeding enough and on any given day when I go to Tesco's and back I will see far more of these being driven by idiots with a mobile phone clutched to their ear than I will see being driven by a parent with a kid in the back seat.

The truth of the matter is that this car is the middle class version of the tattoo. It lets the world know they are a twat without anyone needing to speak to them.

_ DY at 3:21 AM GMT
Updated: Friday, 17 November 2006 5:50 AM GMT
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Thursday, 9 November 2006
You must have thought I was bluffing, Mr Bond.
Topic: Poker

SPOILER WARNING! Casino Royale discussed below. 

click on 'clip three' to see a disgusting slow-roll. I hope the villain dies in a really nasty way.

_ DY at 3:44 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 9 November 2006 3:50 PM GMT
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Saturday, 4 November 2006
Advice for idiots.
Topic: Poker

What would we do without blonde presenters?

Saturday, 28 October 2006
Some light relief.
Topic: Misc.

And now for something completely different....

After you've got used to seeing people dressed up as mascots for theme parks or sporting occasions, it can get rather hard to look at some real animals without thinking that they are really just people in costume.

In particular, I find this applies to pandas.

Friday, 27 October 2006
Super-sat lunacy.
Topic: Poker

Not long ago I outlined my concerns about super-satellites and in a later posting, considered the circumstances in which it could be correct to play them. One situation was where there was a freeroll or added money. I also considered the possibility that the standard of play in them could be very bad indeed.


Today both factors came into play. I have just completed an FPP super-sat online that gave 10 per cent of the field a chance to play in a $100,000 freeroll tomorrow. Obviously this is far too good to miss. Play got down to 24 players, with 23 qualifying. I was the lowest in chips, with only about 4000, while the blinds were 600/1200 with a running ante of 75. I opened up one of the other tables to see what was happening there, when I saw this:


Seat 1: robert7777 (33195 in chips)

Seat 2: affirmed317 (12498 in chips)

Seat 3: BruceLi (4355 in chips)

Seat 4: harryspeed (13735 in chips)

Seat 5: balerno (16269 in chips)

Seat 6: RainerW70 (23870 in chips)

Seat 7: keshi1 (11557 in chips)

Seat 9: Dorf42 (11000 in chips)

They all post a 75 running ante. 

keshi1: posts small blind 600

Dorf42: posts big blind 1200

*** HOLE CARDS ***

robert7777: calls 1200

affirmed317: folds

BruceLi: folds

harryspeed: folds

balerno: raises 1200 to 2400

RainerW70: folds

keshi1: raises 9082 to 11482 and is all-in

Dorf42: folds

robert7777: folds

balerno: calls 9082

*** FLOP *** [3s Jd 4s]

*** TURN *** [3s Jd 4s] [8h]

*** RIVER *** [3s Jd 4s 8h] [4h]

*** SHOW DOWN ***

keshi1: shows [Ah Jc] (two pair, Jacks and Fours)

balerno: shows [Kh Ks] (two pair, Kings and Fours)

balerno collected 25964 from pot

Woohoo! I’m through.

Incredible stuff. The AJ has no reason to get involved at all. There is no upside whatsoever. There were plenty of other players who had smaller stacks. There is a player on the same table with less than 5,000!


Is this sort of blunder widespread, I wonder? Have I been missing something? I still think super-sats are wrong in principle, but in practice if this sort of lunacy is commonplace, I may have to try some one day!

_ DY at 5:05 PM BST
Updated: Friday, 27 October 2006 5:17 PM BST
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