Gout still going strong at Day 9, but perhaps there's a light off in the distance: last night's pain curve never made it to audible exclamations or profanity. Foot still hot and generally unusable for walking though. Saw a neighbor today who looked at me trying to walk and said "Do you need some crutches?" I said yes.

Prednisone having an interesting effect on sleep, I've slept two hours two nights in a row and haven't really minded it. Drugs! Speaking of which, I am smoking more weed than I've smoked in years, which means two puffs instead of no puffs, I basically quit a few years ago....

Anyyyywayyy. The reason I'm here at VDuck at 5:20 in the morning is because I just watched Michael Clayton, still one of the most exciting non-action movie climaxes in recent memory, and, yeah, I'm still awake. So I thought I'd try something: I tend to save a good number of Instagram recipe concepts without ever cooking any of them, because of the varied and unobvious paths from image to recipe. And I'm trying to cook more. So I'm going to try and make a list of my interpretations of the recipes, or at least links. Here goes.


Goat yogurt, feta, and eggplant bruschetta. 
Yeah, combine goat yogurt and feta to end up with a kind of cottage cheese consistency. Put on toasted bread with griddled eggplant, arugula and pomegranate seeds. And mint. Then drizzle a dressing of olive oil, honey, apple vinegar, salt and pepper over it. From Beaufood.

Pressed, seasoned oyster mushrooms. 
I'll explain.

Kimchi Risotto. 

Leek Risotto.
Serious Eats.

Mushroom Shoarma. 
A Jamie Oliver recipe. Also reminded that it's time to start making his cauliflower risotto again.

Grilled carrots, salsa macha, preserved orange curd, celery. 
From the Odd Duck in Austin.

Pasta with Beef, Sour Cherry, Yoghurt Sauce + Tomato Chilli Butter.
Based on a manti recipe. From Oklava. I'm thinking of doing it as a pappardelle, need to replace the beef, my initial thought is mushroom, based on a mushroom-cherry risotto I saw somewhere. I think thyme would be key. (after Googling the ingredients to reverse engineer it, here's the goddamn recipe and hey there's thyme in it what do you know). Oklava has like 93 dishes I'd like to try to recreate without ever having seen or tasted them.

Cabbage and Mushroom Lasagna. 
White Bean and Artichoke Saute.
Mushroom Bourguignon.

From Smitten Kitchen.

Creamy squash risotto with toasted pepitas.
From Epicurious.

Pappardelle with harissa, olives, and capers.
Mushroom and herb polenta.
Beet with lentils and yuzu.

From Ottolenghi.

Labneh with confit garlic and za'atar. 
From Bubala. 



2020 vduck lifestyle challenge.

So hey, I really mean it this time. No realllllly.


Yep. A feeling initiated in December 2019 by having my first-ever tooth extraction and exacerbated by a slow healing process and a fucked-up-feeling hole in my mouth afterwards that makes me think of Chet Baker almost every day (and not in a "man, how about that solo on "Autumn Leaves" way). I find myself finally spurred into action by my second gout outbreak in three years, this one much worse than the last already-shitty-enough one, and by today, day three of that bullshit, I think I've decided that my pretty-committed 2019/2020 slow-motion suicide approach to living has, ironically enough, outlived its usefulness. I was kind of hoping that it would all end quicker and a lot less painfully than this.

So: in the absence of a better plan, I am going to try and take care of myself for a bit. I mostly just never want to have another gout flare-up in my life. "Details forthcoming."



#1 with a bullet.

I was just kind of mindlessly wandering around out here amongst the smattering of "recent" posts, my manner of wandering vaguely recalling a dog sniffing one of those meandering but purposeful-seeming paths around its own backyard: not totally engrossed in the endeavor, but not completely disinterested either...lots of pooping and peeing happened there over the years, lots of olfactory history. Good times.

Welllll, ok....my wandering didn't start out totally mindlessly: I was looking to see what the last recipes I'd written down were, because to say "I haven't been cooking much over the past year" is quite an understatement. But, right now, in a cautious nod towards survival, I'm trying to improve my vegetable intake.

So yeah, looking for recent recipes, blah blah, but then I came across this non-food post from August 2018 about why I shouldn't play A-2, and suddenly was struck by the fact that A) at the moment all I really feel like writing about at all is poker, and B) no matter what else has happened....in spite of, or even in fact maybe even BECAUSE of everything that's happened....I can at least say that, well, I'm a much better poker player than I used to be.

Which, looking at the numbers, would only make sense. When I wrote this post about being card dead 18 months ago, I was kind of embarrassedly complaining about the amount of poker I'd been playing, sheepishly admitting to having recently played just over 10,000 hands, a number that seemed unfathomably obsessive/compulsive. How did that even happen? Just didn't seem possible. At the time, I chalked it up to it having had "a lonely, fixated couple of months," and that I needed some escapism (?).

By now, February 2020, after some similarly-themed months, I have played just over 80,000 hands. And because my current environmental conditions remain ripe for abuses of compulsive escapism, I'm bringing my online poker career to an end for a while.

Yes, I know, great idea. But! As I retire, I am not only the #1 ranked "play money" player in the Netherlands (so now, not just in the "Skilled" league, but the "Elite" league, the highest, fuck yeah), which I have been for a couple of weeks now, but THEN OVER THE WEEKEND GET THIS I was ranked #40 in the world for about half a day. At the time of that ranking my bankroll was around $44,000,000, painstakingly cultivated from initially grinding it out in 100k or 500k tournaments and then graduating to 1M and 2.5M tournaments over about a month's worth of playing.

When my bankroll was 44M? I'd also won 120M in the past week. I'd gritted my teeth and tried a couple of 10M tournaments, won a couple big ones, lost a few more. Which means that in a furious hopscotch of one step forward two steps back, I'd also lost 80M in a week, my bankroll hovering in a range from 20M to 40M.

Two days later, all I had left (pictured above) was $761, I'd run dead cold for a logic-defying 3 hours in a row between 1am and 4am, and instead of taking the #1 piece of advice about what to do in that situation, which is to stop playing if at all possible, I tilted my way down to nothing, so hour by hour I was plummeting down the global leaderboard as winning players passed me on their way up, my sudden and halfhearted dream of making the cut for the PokerStars 2020 Hall of Fame (Top 25 in the world) dashed because, by the end of 24 hours of incredibly bad luck and equally bad decisions, I didn't have enough money left to even sit at a tournament table, and I'd banned myself from buying any more chips.


And this? This is why we don't play with real money. I am terrrrribly suited for being a real poker pro because of my pathological desire for risk and my addiction to what we call "action". I get bored if I'm running too good, I get reckless if I'm card dead for too long...basically still no discipline. Real players define ranges and stick to them no matter what is happening.

BUT. I did come up with a little cheat sheet to keep myself as in line as possible. A real poker player seeing this list will go "no duh", but I have to say I think I've actually learned it now, the hard way, by losing everything I'd built up over weeks in a matter of hours, multiple times, and I can say (with the exception of the ridiculous 3-5 offsuit that cracked my A-A on a shove in my last big money game): when I stuck to these tips below, I generally won.
  1. Don't play stupid hands. There's a reason 7-5 offsuit is not in most people's standard ranges. Until very recently I don't think I ever really believed how often you can win with A or K high even if a flop completely misses you. It kind of happens all the time. In contrast, if you limp in with 7-5 and don't catch a piece of anything, you are generally pretty fucked unless you feel like pumping out a committed bluff, or there's no betting and everyone just bingos their way to showdown.
  2. Really don't play stupid hands if you're not in position. It has slowly sunk in that things like pot control and fold equity are real things, and that position becomes more and more important as you become more aware of how to manipulate other players.
  3. Pay attention to stack sizes. Relatedly, opponents' diminishing stack sizes mean they are more likely to go all-in at some point with their best hand possible, so don't be betting speculatively if you just know it's getting to be about time for them to make a desperate move, this is how you end up saying "fuck I'm stupid" as someone forces you all in with J-7 offsuit (but see rule 1). Also, if you're the short stack, recognize that someone with a deeper stack will more likely call your shove with any two cards.
  4. Hand reading. I used to think it was a dark art, one of those things you just see Daniel Negreanu do on the YouTube. I now realize that if you play enough, your intuition starts knowing when shit just doesn't feel right; like when what looks like a post-flop C-bet is just a bluff, because there's no way someone who raised pre-flop hit with any of those shitty cards you're looking at, OR, conversely, they have pocket pairs, which is almost always the answer when your alarm bells start ringing about "these bets not making sense", especially if you know the player is generally tight. 
  5. Really, don't call somebody's all-in just because they're tilted or you're tilted or because they just wear you down or because you're curious to see what happens. There's no shame in refusing a shove 10 or 15 times in a row if someone's trying to bully you.
  6. Believe people until they give you a reason not to. That sounds like some hippie bullshit, but what I mean is that, way too often, I myself make the paranoid assumption that people are trying to bluff me when in fact they have given me no reason to think that. This is probably the biggest mistake I make right now most often. So I go to showdown with a marginal hand and they really do have the nuts. Stupid, but it's funny how much poker reflects your real-life personality sometimes. 
  7. Given all of the above, playing A-2 is usually OK, as long as you fully recognize that it's A-2, not A-J and you are aware of your position. Just after I wrote this, I realized that I had enough chips left to sit at a cheap tournament (shrug emoji), so I decided to see if I could illustrate any of the above to myself. Lo and behold, this happened:

Yes, that is me playing A-2 from the button. can't remember what happened pre-flop, I imagine I opened to $1200, 3 big blinds. The BB called, SB folded. Flop comes Q-K-9, two diamonds. BB bets a mysteriously small $400 into a pot of $3600, I raise $1200, he calls.

BB checks on the turn, I bet $2400, he calls. I make my flush on the river. A-2 wins. Why did this work? Because I got lucky. But there was no point at which I should not have raised, and I was in position, so this was a mix of good luck and not fucking things up.

Kbye, poker!!!



that's the spirit.

Fourteen years is a long time to have done just about anything, right? I mean: what are ya, a QUITTER?



and the answer isssssssss.........

Nothing. That's all folks, we're done here. Thanks for having paid any attention at all. Catch you on the flippity-flop.



season finale.

Recordbreaking year, 2019. So end-of-Thelma & Louise-style recordbreaking that I decided not to even document huge swaths of it. But now I find myself going back to New Smyrna Beach and thought hey, heck, etc: if the Season Finale isn't reason enough to squeeze out a few words and a picture or two, then what will be.


note to self.

Find dressing for my watermelon-edamame-peanut salad idea. Maybe it's just Chef John's peanut vinaigrette.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Yeah, you, um...didn't invent this. Maybe the peanut part. Sorry.)