Our computer poker program took on some of the best poker pros and came out on top!
Sorry for the lack of updates here. If you haven’t figured out, my travel blog has moved over to minoragenda, so if you want to read about our adventures in detail, please head on over there. I forgot to post a message like this earlier, so sorry about not letting you know.
I have a big todo list of stuff and not much time to do it. I want to get around to posting photos and post poker reports for the couple of live sessions I’ve managed to squeeze in. But that will have to wait for a little while.
Hope all is well with you!
I recently got back from Dublin for a job interview. For a full trip report visit minoragenda.com … but this post will summarize my experience at a Dublin casino for some poker.
On Saturday night, Aaron and Darse were thinking about going to play some poker so Diane graciously let me join them instead of returning to the hotel right away to sleep. So we ventured to the Dublin Sporting Emporium to play some 1/2 Pot Limit Hold’em.
The first stage in the process was to get a membership to the club which involved filling out a form and paying a 20 euro membership fee. To sweeten the deal a little (and encourage you to get some money into play), they gave each of us a 10 euro action chip to use at the tables. Once the process was over, we were admitted into the place. It had quite a classy feel, which was pretty cool. My experience at most casinos has been a feeling of cheap thrills, so it was pretty welcome to be in a place that didn’t make me feel that way. Maybe it was the whole membership process that helped it out, or maybe that casinos in Europe are just classier places?
Anyways, Darse and I had our play chips to attempt to convert into real money. So we went to the roulette table and each put a bet on a colour. I won my bet and let the action chip ride another two spins before losing it. So between us, Darse and I broke even at converting the action chips to real money. Woohoo!
The three of us went up a floor to the poker room where there was one 1/2 pot limit hold’em game going. Only two seats were open, so we played odds and evens to see who would get the first two seats. Darse was the odd man out, so Aaron and I bought in and sat down at two adjacent seats at the table. I started with 100 euros, but would later top up my chips for another 50 euros before I started to win.
Early on I didn’t get any hands which left me some time to watch how other players were doing. I’ve never really played pot limit before, although it’s not all that different from how I want to play no limit anyways. I picked out that most of the players really didn’t know how to play very well, although their play varied a little bit.
Apart from limping every so often or calling small raises with good pot odds from the button or the blinds, I didn’t play very many hands for the first several orbits. After a little while, Darse joined in with us and sat next to Aaron so there were three of us sitting in a row with Aaron on my left, and Darse on his left. Not long after that, I got my first hand: pocket twos! I made a raise and got three callers and flopped a set! Unfortunately, no one called my flop bet but it was good to win a pot.
The very next hand I picked up pocket eights and made an UTG raise once again getting many callers. The flop came A22. I made a continuation bet and got just one caller: a woman that seemed to be pretty solid. I checked the turn and folded to her pot sized bet. Well, I’m one for two now.
I continued to play pretty tight, although that was more of a function of the cards I was getting. A few hands later though I picked up aces and once again put in a raise. I got called by just a couple players. This time though I got some action from the guy to Darse’s left. He called my flop bet, but folded to my turn bet.
An orbit or two passes and I pick up aces again. Again I raise preflop, and the same guy who gave me action last time calls along with a few other players. The flop was all undercards to my aces and not particularly connected. I bet the flop, but this time I get raised by the same guy. At this point that wasn’t much more to me so I put the rest of my chips in – a raise of only 40 euro more into a pot totalling over 200 euros. He tanks for awhile before deciding to fold. Chalk it up to aces. I like aces.
We played on for a little while longer, and it seemed to me this guy was starting to take a dislike to me. There was a couple times where he squeezed me out of the pot – I would’ve liked to play against him, but I didn’t really feel like trying to do battle with my KJ-suited to his squeeze raise. A little more I think and I would’ve been able to play.
My next big hand was AK – and again my preflop raise was called by the same guy. I flopped top pair of kings on a KQx board. This time the guy raises me allin – so I call and after showing down my AK, he mucks his cards. I probably took close to 200 euro just from that guy alone!
I had one last big hand where I had QQ and got some action. I don’t remember the details, but I distinctly remember tossing three 25 euro black chips into the pot and getting folds. That was a pretty good sized pot to take down.
All told, I ended up over 240 euros to the good, which is officially my first winning session in any casino session I’ve ever played in (poker or otherwise) that wasn’t a tournament. Admittedly, I’ve only ever played cash poker games in the casino twice before. Once at foxwoods when I went to Boston and New York a couple years ago, and once when my friend Mike stopped by and we played at the casino closest to my house. So really, I haven’t had many data points – but if felt good to be up and up a good amount! It’s pretty intimidating to play live even though I know a lot about poker these days after playing so much online. So it’s good to get a victory under my belt.
All told, I think the trip to Dublin turned out to make me money instead of cost anything. The company paid for the flights and the hotel and most of the meals, and we’ll soon be settling up the cab fares. So aside from some small expenses, I didn’t really spend any money, but made a decent profit at the casino. Sweet deal!
I hope to hear back from pocket kings about the interview within the next week. I’ll let people know what the result is as soon as I know!
I’ve got a bunch to say, but it might have to wait for after we get home. It’s been pretty busy – we’ve been wined and dined and I spent a bunch of time at the office chatting with people. It has gone really well so far, but I’ll wait until I get home until I talk about it a bit more. For a sneak peak, you can check out my flickr stream for a few photos I took when we got here.
Just figured I’d weigh in and say that we’re here safely and are enjoying ourselves (aside from the jetlag).
Well I was away all weekend for the department ski trip, and returned home to find Edmonton in a serious deep freeze. The temperatures here have dropped to what I consider to be entirely too cold, and the city has found itself in a mayhem situation traffic-wise.
As we drove back from Jasper, I started to wonder what people’s problems were. I was driving along the yellowhead highway on my way back to Edmonton and the roads were not in great shape. There was some places that were pretty clear, but for every kilometer we traveled on clear roads, there was at least 4 or 5 kilometers of icy road with blowing snow across it.
So as I’m driving a good 20km/h below the speed limit of 110km/h, I see a large number of vehicles speeding by me on these dangerous roads. As they do so I start to feel more and more nervous that one of these vehicles is going to lose control and cause us to get in an accident. It sure kept the heart pumping as I continued down the road.
Particular frightful situations occurred when larger vehicles would pass by going the speed limit or more. They’d churn up a large amount of the blowing snow and present it to me a few meters in front of my car enabling me to see even less than I could before. Every time this happened I was forced to slow right down just to be safe if someone was stalled/stopped in my lane for any reason, or some poor wildlife was on the road — because if I continued to go 90 down the highway with zero visibility … well that’s just an accident waiting to happen.
I don’t understand how people think that hurrying down the highway will help them out in any way. The chances of them getting in an accident don’t seem to be worth getting home half an hour earlier to me. When conditions are like they are right now … you SLOW THE HELL DOWN!
Speaking of highway issues – has anyone noticed that a large portion of the cars on the road have no idea how to properly pass someone on the highway? I’m not talking about a simple undivided highway where there is just one lane of traffic going each way (I must admit I’m not all that experienced at passing vehicles in this situation). I’m talking about driving on a divided highway with at least 2 lanes of traffic going in the same direction. I can’t tell you how many cars sped by in the left hand lane and cut in front of me way too early. Why the hell is that a good idea? You’re just pissing me off! By cutting in front of me so fast, you greatly increase the probability you’re going to pick up a stone and hurl it at my poor windshield. Since you’re passing me, why don’t you take a few more seconds to continue on in the left lane until there’s suitable distance in front of me for you to get in front of me without causing me undue stress.
Ugh. I don’t know where people learned to drive, but they really should learn something about how they’re driving their vehicles.
This past weekend, Diane and I joined her family on a trip to Manitou, Saskatchewan. It was the location for a family reunion for my family-to-be. It was quite an interesting trip, although with the amount of driving we had to do, it seemed like we barely spent any time there.
Four of us, Diane and her dad and sister plus me got into their two BMW cars and drove to Saskatoon. We dropped one car off at the airport and took the other the remaining hour and a bit drive to Manitou. Diane’s mom and brother, who were attending a wedding on the Friday, hopped on a plane and flew to Saskatoon where they picked up the car and joined us in Manitou.
Upon arriving, we checked into the hotel there and then joined some of the reunion goers in the community hall which was about a block up a hill. It was a little odd – I kind of felt the same way I did at my family reunion… I was introduced to a bunch of people who I didn’t know, but looked particularly happy to see me. In fact it was a little more odd at Diane’s family reunion because none of these people had ever met me before. Huh. Anyways, I got introduced to a bunch of people that I probably have already forgotten the names of. I was pretty proud to be introduced as Diane’s fiancé.
We hung around the hall talking to people and looking at some photographs. After a couple of hours we returned to the hotel to try and get in contact with Diane’s mom and brother who were supposed to have touched down over half an hour ago. Eventually we did get in touch with them and I retired to my hotel room to sleep (since I didn’t have any role in meeting up with them).
Highlights from the Saturday: we spent quite a bunch of time in the pool at Manitou springs. It’s a very interesting place – the water in the lake is very high in salt and other minerals which means that you float a lot easier in it. So the pool in the hotel uses this water and it’s rather neat to be more buoyant in it. Unfortunately, the water is a bit unappealing in colour … they call it “golden waters”, but it really is a kinda murky brown colour. It also is terrible to get in your eyes due to the salt, and it tastes terrible. So it isn’t the type of pool that encourages some horseplay. In fact, you really kinda just float around and talk and jump between the hot and cold pools.
There was a lot more talking and photo browsing. We had dinner at “Danceland” which is a very large converted barn that has a rather nice dance floor. We didn’t end up staying there for the dance though because they were charging quite a bit extra on top of dinner for the dance, and the reunion organizers had hired some entertainment of their own. So we enjoyed our dinner buffet at Danceland and walked back to the community hall. There was a gorgeous sunset that we thoroughly enjoyed … and I got a bunch of photos that you’ll see hit my flickr stream in the next week or two.
The entertainment we had was a one-man band who had a guitar and some equipment that would play the drums/lead guitar for him for a wide variety of songs he played. He was pretty good. At first I kind of felt sorry for him since people seemed more interested in talking than listening to him. After awhile though people started to get into it a bit more and some dancing broke out. Diane and I even shared a jive! The guy had a good voice and played some pretty good tunes, including an impressive version of Mari-mac (covered by great big sea recently), and finishing things off with the Last Saskatchewan Pirate (oh, the arrogant worms …).
Not too much happened on Sunday, except that on our way back, one of the family members gave us a quick tour of their farm. It was pretty cool actually, particularly our first of three stops on the tour. On that spot there was an old farmhouse that hadn’t been occupied for years. It was quickly decomposing, which was rather interesting to see. It kind of gives you something to think about — how quickly the land will reclaim the building if you don’t upkeep it. I got a bunch of photos there too, and I think I’ve got a few good ones to post. We’ll see how that goes.
After the tour we endured the 8 hours or so that it took to drive back to E-town. I was pretty tired last night so I kinda flopped into bed pretty early and have been slow moving this morning. So I hope I can get things going later on in the week!
This weekend a group of us went out to Elk Island National Park to get some camping in before the summer came to a close. It was a rather enjoyable weekend that included a short excursion back to the city to attend a BBQ at my Uncle’s place. We got in a quick hike on Saturday morning, but mostly we kind of sat around for awhile and relaxed in front of the campfire. We played some cards and some boggle, but other than that we mostly just enjoyed the wonderful outdoors.
There was a bit of an adventure though with my car. You see, on Sunday morning, Marc discovered that my tire was looking a little flat. A couple of hours later, it was starting to sag down to the rim. Oops! Turns out I had run over a bit of metal, likely at one of the many construction sites that I passed through. Doh. Well, instead of fiddling with putting on the spare tire and limping back to Edmonton, Diane had a handy AMA membership that we used to get a tow back into Edmonton.
It was a rather full weekend! After getting back, I was super tired so I went to bed super early: like 9:30, and didn’t get up this morning until eight in the morning. Yay uber sleep! All in all, a good weekend and a good chance to get into the outdoors again and enjoy some camping.
Well Diane and I head back to Edmonton tomorrow. It’s been a good trip!
Before I get in to today’s activities, let me first say that I missed a highlight from yesterday. When we hopped on a bus to take us to robson street to have dinner yesterday, we were on the bus and were standing by the back door ready to get off at our stop. But something different happened this time than normal — the doors opened presenting us with a problem in dismounting the bus: a row of three newspaper boxes were perfectly lined up to block our exit. One enterprising individual hopped over the mailboxes, but he was the only one to move fast enough. His buddy waited yelled to have the bus driver move up a bit, but evidently the bus driver didn’t hear. So we were carted up further. To make matters worse for us, no one pulled the wire to say they wanted to get off at the next stop, so we went 4 blocks past our stop before we were let off. Diane and I and 3 or 4 more people got off the bus giggling a little at what had just transpired. Okay, so I thought it was funny.
Anyways, to today! Diane and I got up, and had to furiously pack our things in order for them to be moved. Apparently the B&B we were staying at needed our room for some incoming guests so they were upgrading us to a new room (which is pretty nice, I have to say!). Anyways, after our packing we hurried over for breakfast with minutes to spare (they stop serving breakfast at 9:30am, so we needed to hurry). After yet another lovely breakfast, we waited around and got the keys for our new room but were told we needed to wait for the people to leave before going in. So instead we decided to leave after they offered to install our bags in our room. Our first stop today was the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen classical Chinese garden. Not knowing what we were doing, we walked right in — but apparently the part we entered was the free portion. We wandered for awhile and enjoyed the calm quiet that the garden offered. We met a guy at the entrance that was using a lens to burn designs in some wood. I got a couple of pictures of this feat — it was really rather cool! I was quite impressed with his craft.
Anyways, after wandering around for awhile and taking a look at a nearby giftshop, we discovered the actual entrance to the garden. Hmmm … well Diane figured we’d had a chance to see some of the garden anyways, so we decided to wander off to another destination. *shrug*. We weren’t in a big hurry, but we got some value for no cost so we couldn’t really complain!
So after that, we headed back to Granville Island since the first time we were down there everything was closed. The market is a pretty lively place when it’s open. We walked along admiring the fruit and some of the various merchandise people had to offer. We got some bubble tea from one place, and sat down by the harbour to enjoy the scenery and people/bird watch for awhile. It was strangely calming, despite the frantic movement of people. It felt kind of cool to relax and just observe people moving fast around you.
After awhile, we got up and wandered some more. There’s a lot of neat shops around, but there really wasn’t anything interesting enough for me to actually buy. We did discover a couple of neat things. The first was a guy selling fold out 3d cards. He was making them by hand, and I asked him how long it took him to make each one. His answer was about an hour each, except for rare ones which take up to 3 hours, and he pointed to one of some wisteria. The cards were amazing, and I almost bought one of some staircases that roughly resembled some of Escher’s work. I refrained though because I wasn’t really sure what I’d do with it … It’d probably sit on my shelf for awhile and collect dust. It was really cool though!
The other cool person we saw was a violinist who was playing some cool classical music … the music attracted me over and her sign said that she had just graduated from Juilliard and had been offered a job as a concertmaster somewhere, but that she was raising money for a car for commuting. I don’t know if her story was true … but I was far more inclined to believe her than a guy we met in the Chinese park earlier that day with a story of how he got robbed and needed money to stay at a hostel. Huh. Yeah the girl’s story was far more believable since she obviously had some talent.
Anyways, we wandered around for awhile more before deciding to have an early dinner at Bridges which is a restaurant right beside the water on the island. The food was pretty good, though pricier than the meals we’d had earlier in the week. That being said, I’ve been kind of shocked at how cheap the meals have been here, so one more expensive meal certainly wasn’t going to break the bank.
After dinner Diane and I caught a bus back to our fancy B&B room. It’s got a private entrance to a bathroom (shared with one other room), and a fridge, and it is rather big and comfy. I’m quite happy with our upgraded room for the last night of our stay!
Anyways, that’s where we’re at. We’re gonna have to get up a little early to catch some transportation to the airport in the morning (and make sure that we’ve got enough time to eat some wonderful breakfast!), so I think I should head off now! This time tomorrow, I’ll be back in E-town wishing I could still eat fresh seafood. *sigh*.
I got to the end of Saturday’s activities, so I’ll start off where I left off. On Sunday, our plan was to wander over the UBC campus to take a look around and see what was to be seen over there. It’s interesting wandering about a campus and seeing what’s similar and what’s different from one’s “home campus”. One thing was for sure — the bus route that took us down to UBC was pretty awesomely fast. After we got there, we wandered around the campus and invaded their version of SUB which looked older and not quite as nice as ours. It isn’t really a fair comparison though — our SUB was renovated not all that long ago.
After some wandering, we decided to try and find the coast to go walk to. After all, one of the big UBC campus perks was that it was on the ocean. Well, on our way, we got sidetracked by some totem polls and the rather pretty looking museum of anthropology they have there. So we went in taking advantage of the super awesome $7 student entry fee. We even got a guided tour which was awesome. I learned a whole bunch of interesting things about the coastal native peoples that I wouldn’t have even thought of before. One of the super neat things was an example of how powerful technology can be at uncovering things. They had an example of a beam from a house that was painted using mineral based red, black and white paint but had unfortunately faded away to be not visible anymore. Thanks to the wonders of infrared imaging, however, they were able to recreate the beautiful painting that was on the beam. Sweet, and awesome. So yeah — that museum? Best $7 bucks (student price) I’ve spent on a museum!
After exploring the museum, Diane and I stopped by the gift shop where I found a rather nice collection of prints of fairly recent artistic work by native artists. I was so satisfied with the museum visit that I took a serious look at the prints and ended up choosing one. (with Diane’s help). You’ll have to come see it once we’ve got it framed and up on the wall (assuming it makes the trip home safely). It wasn’t extremely expensive, but it wasn’t a trivial amount of money either — it is a limited edition print after all.
After leaving the museum, it was time to find the coast to say that we’d done it. Not far down the path we found the long set of stairs down to the beach. There were 390 steps, I … didn’t count, there was a number on the top step. The beach was rather nice and I got a few really good photos of Diane, and she got a few of me. It was a little weird though since there were a few people who were out walking around in the nude. They didn’t seem to mind, though I made sure to keep my camera pointed away from them.
After a few minutes on the beach and some running around taking photos, Diane and I trundled back up the stairs which took a whole lot longer than descending them. We returned to the bus stop to catch a bus back towards our B&B, but first we had to stop off at a restaurant on Shayna’s friend’s recommendation list: the Memphis Blues BBQ house. Boy was this place awesome. If you’re in the mood for a plate full of meat, you should check this place out. Diane and I ordered the Memphis platter, which apparently is their special. They fill a huge platter full of various kinds of meat including pork, chicken, and beef. They add some token other things like some french fries, coleslaw, and potato salad, but that’s the minority item on the platter. So, not only is it a large plate of meat, but the meat is also cooked to perfection. The beef was so tender it could be cut with a fork and melted in your mouth. The meat on the ribs fell off the bone … you get the idea. Everything was tasty, good and I was very glad we went. By the way, the platter we had could easily have fed 3 people. We took a doggy bag home with the leftovers!
After dinner we decided that it was a good idea to walk off some of our food, so we walked down to granville island from the restaurant. When we got there, we discovered that everything was all closed up. Apparently the place closes down at 7:00. Whoops. Guess we’ll have to go back. We sat down to rest on a bench that overlooked the water. It was a beautiful day, with a few people walking around and the water fairly calm. I got a lot of photos, and spent awhile just relaxing and enjoying Diane’s company.
When we got bored, we hiked back up and caught a bus back to the B&B with the intention of going to bed early. Unfortunately that didn’t really happen after I got my photos uploaded to my laptop and the blog post written. Oh wells.
This morning we got up early enough to take advantage of breakfast. After all, when staying at a B&B, ya gotta have breakfast! It was really yummy — they make some really good food here. We’re staying in the manor guest house (http://www.manorguesthouse.com). It’s really nice, and the people are super friendly. Definitely check them out if you’re staying in Vancouver someday.
After breakfast, we got packed up and headed back to Stanley Park to take in the aquarium. This place is awesome. There’s so much cool stuff to see! The highlights for me were: The otters, the dolphins, the multitude of colourful tropical fish, the butterflies and the bright pinkish red birds, and the jellyfish. Oh man were the jellyfish incredibly beautiful to look at. I’ve got a large number of photos — hopefully some turned out well.
After awhile though, Diane and I got tired of the throng of people that were there (and we almost entered on a Saturday! Boy am I glad we decided against that!). So we left and went to check out the caricature artists that were all around the aquarium. Diane was interested in getting one done of us so we checked out the different artist’s work. We discovered a chinese guy that was doing an amazing job of 6 people — fitting them all on one sheet of paper. After admiring how well he was doing with these people, we waited patiently for him to finish them so we could be next. It took awhile, but finally we got done and I think both of us are incredibly happy with the result. It cost us $45, which considering how good the result was, I was more than happy to pay. After all, he just did a personal portrait of both of us and the likeness was pretty close. I was rather impressed. I think his name was Liam.
Anyways, after the caricatures were done, Diane and I hopped on a bus on our way to dinner. We took awhile to figure out what we wanted to eat, but ended up at a place called tsunami sushi — which is an awesome restaurant. The main attraction is a bar where little boats carry little plates of sushi around. If you see something you want, you grab the little plate, and the style of the plate tells you how much it costs. When you’re all done, they count up your plates and tell you how much you owe. It’s an awesome system, and it is incredibly fun just watching the plates of sushi float down on the little boats. We loved it, and I would totally go back there to try it again!
After dinner we took a ride on the skytrain to come back. One of the odd things about this train is that it appears to not have a driver. Does anyone know if they’re controlled in some way by a driver? Or are they remotely controlled? Or are they automatic? Whatever the case, it was pretty neat. Now I can say that I took the skytrain, the seabus, and the regular bus in Vancouver. Woohoo! Transit hat trick!
So now we’re settling in to go to bed and I’m not done my blog post. So I’m gonna go read a little harry potter and get some sleep before we head out again for our last full day in Vancouver. Wow, time flies when you fill the days up with fun things to do!
Thursday was the last day of the conference. I went to a couple talks, but other than that sat around and caught up on updating the man-machine web page. If you see anything that’s missing on the page, let me know because I really should fix it up. I’m on holidays right now, but will be able to get to it later this week after I return.
Anyways. On Thursday night, Diane’s plane arrived in Vancouver. She took the airporter to join Darse, Alexandra and I at the Hyatt where we walked her bags back to the condo. Then we wandered back to the Hyatt to play some games with Johnny, Jeff, Andrew, and Alborz. It was pretty fun. Of course, that meant that Diane and I didn’t return to the condo until 2:00am, where we promptly went to bed.
When we got up that morning, slightly groggy from the lack of sleep, we enjoyed some rather yummy coleslaw that Alexandra made — it had feta cheese in it! I need to remember to do that the next time I make coleslaw. This was the first day of our holiday and we had decided to spend it with Darse and Alexandra on their last day in Vancouver before they headed off to Victoria. So when we were all ready to go, we walked down to the seabus and took it across to north Vancouver towards the Capilano suspension bridge. The seabus is rather cool — I’m glad I got a chance to ride it. It’s pretty speedy, and certainly a distinctive way to travel (coming from a boy growing up in land-locked Alberta).
The suspension bridge is kind of cool, but I’m not sure it’s worth the price of admission. Diane and I got in as students though, so that reduced the hit of the admission. At the ticket booth, we found out that our credit card suddenly didn’t work anymore. Odd … so worried, I called the credit card company on my cell phone and found out that when the credit card charge Diane made on her card when she caught the shuttle bus in Edmonton, the credit card company thought it was suspicious. Never mind that we had two separate cards and one was used to take a shuttle to the airport … and it was used again in Vancouver for the airporter. Hmm… I think they need to work on their security check. I’m all happy for good security on my credit card, but please make sure that the activity on the card is actually suspicious!
Anyways, we wandered around the suspension bridge park for awhile. It was rather nice, though there were a few too many people around for my liking. Still, it was nice to see some rather tall trees, and the bridge itself was an experience. It’d probably be better to just take one of the many hikes throughout the rockies though.
Afterwards, we went back to the seabus terminal, but stopped off at the market to buy some yummy fresh fruit before we headed back to the condo. Diane and I picked up some nectarines, raspberries, cherries and grapefruit. Mmmm … fresh fruit. Alexandra added some blackberries and fresh figs to that (I’d never had fresh figs before — they were pretty interesting). After our shopping, we returned to the condo via seabus and a brisk walk. Then we walked to Bin 941 which I wanted to return to and try some of the other stuff on their menu … plus it was good to use the excuse that I needed to introduce Darse and Alexandra to it! We ordered several items, all of which tasted wonderful. I highly recommend checking out this restaurant if you’re in Vancouver — it’s pretty fantastic.
Anyways, we wandered back to the condo and this time I got a little more sleep. First night in several that I’d get some sleep. The next morning, the group of of us packed up and headed out. We said our goodbyes to Darse and Alexandra as they headed off to take the ferry to Victoria. For our part, Diane and I needed to get to our B&B. Our attempt to take a bus failed … we waited at a bus stop and the bus came — but passed our stop! The bus driver waved at us, but we misunderstood and started walking down the street to chase after us. A moment later, a second bus that was completely empty followed along after it! We missed that one since we weren’t at a stop, and it didn’t really occur to me to wave it down. So instead, Diane and I walked to the B&B. It was a pretty long walk, but I’m kind of glad we did. It’s nice to walk around in a foreign city … it helps get you oriented, and lets you see some of the stuff you might not ordinarily see. Still, I’m not too sure my feet agree with that assessment.
After plopping our stuff in our fancy B&B room, we set out for a trip to Stanley Park and the aquarium. Of course, I forgot it was Saturday and when we arrived, the aquarium lineup was probably 50 people deep. Whoops. We quickly reverted our decision to visit the aquarium, vowing instead to come back on Monday when there would presumably be a few less people there. Instead, we spent the afternoon wandering around Stanley Park taking photos and admiring the flowers and wildlife. In one amusing encounter, we stopped to look at some paintings in the painters circle where the lady there was clearly crazy. She was quite willing to explain all the names of her child-like paintings and after each name she would giggle in a high pitched voice. I was a little creeped out, but wasn’t really sure what to say. Diane and I got ourselves away halfway through the paintings she was naming. Whew!
Stanley Park is beautiful. Lots of wonderfully magnificent trees, and many photo opportunities. I filled up one 2GB flash card, and started on a second one (that I had picked up at best buy on the way to the B&B).
Around 5:00, hunger started to set in so we consulted a list of restaurant recommendations Shayna was kind enough to forward to us, and found a nearby restaurant called Musashi (Japanese sushi restaurant). The food there was fantastic. Diane and I ate some lovely salmon rolls along with some tempura and even tried some scallop rolls, octopus, and sweet shrimp sushi. All of it was extremely good and we left there with full stomachs and only down $25 for the two of us, including tax and tip. Wow, I’m still surprised at how cheap that was!
After dinner we wandered down the the beach where we staked out an area to sit and wait for the fireworks. It took three hours, but by then we really needed to sit down and relax. So sitting down to wait for the fireworks suited us just fine. When we got there, the beach was already crawling with people and it was tough to find a spot, but we did. 3 hours of watching people and taking photos of the various things was pretty fun, but I kind of wished I had brought my book. Oh wells.
The fireworks were awesome. They were all done to a variety of jazz tunes, which was pretty cool. I liked seeing the fireworks drumrolls, for instance. Fun times! Unfortunately, I had forgotten my tripod at the B&B, which meant that I was doing handheld shots. It didn’t work very well, but still surprisingly well. Being that close to the fireworks certainly helped since you didn’t need to hold the shutter open too long.
After the fireworks, Diane and I walked back to the bus stop we had waited at earlier that morning. This time we caught the bus and jumped on it to get close to the B&B. We walked the rest of the way and fell into bed rather satisfied with a rather full day.
I’ll have to cover today’s activities later. I’m pretty tired and need to collapse and get some sleep so I have some energy tomorrow! G’nite all!
Alright, so I’ve got to get myself caught up here. The second match day was nuts, and a ton of stuff happened so let me see what I can remember. I got up fairly early excited about the match. We did so well on day one, that we kind of expected to win! Alas, that was not to be.
I got in early enough to start setting up. Are room was moved to another one so that the one we were in first could be used for the keynote talks (which I haven’t been able to attend). So we needed to make sure the new room suited our purposes. The hotel did an excellent job of setting it up though so there wasn’t a huge amount of stuff to do. The first match got under way and Phil played a pretty decent game, but I don’t think he played perfectly. Unfortunately for us, Ali did better than Polaris did and the humans took down the 3rd match. (for exact details check out the match blog I slaved over). After the loss we of course wanted to know what happened. It turns out that the bot we fielded had a bug in it that killed its learning abilities and so it got stuck playing a less effective bot. Ouch, that hurt.
The final match was looming, and we had to decide what bot to put in the seat. It took a long time to debate what to play, but we decided to try and play a safe bot — the equilibrium bot that broke even in match 1. Unfortunately for us, Ali was just too brilliant and new how to take the bot down in the last match. We were disappointed, but we’re looking for a rematch and are hungry for revenge. Both Ali and Phil heaped praise on the bot though saying that it was the most intense match of their lives and that they had to play the best poker they had ever played just to do what they did. Here’s a youtube video I posted (thanks to Nolan for thinking quick and grabbing the camcorder for this section):
Awesome. Phil and Ali were so great. I can’t wait to meet up with them again at the rematch! After the match, after the media finished their interviews and we packed up stuff in the room, and after we got autographs from the players (and signed programs for the players as well), the people who were too tired went to bed and everyone else went in seek of food, drink, and fun. All the people who decided to stay out ended up at an awesome restaurant called Bin 941. The food there was absolutely incredible. I spent a lot of time chatting with Ali and his girlfriend Ana. They’re both so smart and really easy to get along with. I hope I was able to interest them even a tiny portion of how much they interested me. I loved getting the inside perspective on what it’s like to be a professional high stakes poker player. I’m not seriously thinking about pursuing that, but it’s nice to have a chance to hear about it from an insider.
Anyways, I stumbled back to our apartment condo half drunk and extremely happy with how the day had gone even though we lost the match. It was an extremely enjoyable experience and I would love to do it again. Even though I was exhausted. I got back and stumbled into bed around 3:45am … only to have to get up in the morning to attend a round table poker meeting with other researchers who wrote poker bots for the AAAI bot competition. But that was another day.