Restaurant Review – Jonahs at Whale Beach

January 16, 2012 7 comments

One of my blog goals for the years is to review more of the restaurants Puneet and I go to. It’s no secret that I love good food and with so many great options available both in Sydney and elsewhere these days it can be hard to keep track of what’s good and what isn’t. Hopefully the reviews help others in their choices + serve as reminders for us for the future.

I’ve thought a bit about how to rate each place and what categories to use and have decided on the following: A total score will be awarded out of 40.

10 points each food & drink, service, ambiance and value for money. They’re all pretty self explanatory. Value for money can be tricky when you’re comparing a $150 dinner to a $30 dinner as the former is rarely worth five times as much as the latter (diminishing returns blah blah blah) so i’ll try and use it as an indicator for evaluating a place against other places of a similar price point. There are definitely times when an expensive dinner seems totally worth it and other times when it doesn’t, similarly many times a value dinner will be incredible or just terrible.

Anyway, we have been to several places worthy of review over the past few weeks and I expect to get to the others shortly but to begin with, here’s a review of Jonahs at Whale Beach.

Jonahs Whale Beach

Jonahs at Whale Beach

website

Jonahs is a boutique hotel with restaurant and outside bar located high atop a cliff at Whale Beach. It is a part of the Relais Chateaux (from their website):

Relais & Châteaux is an exclusive collection of 475 of the finest hotels and gourmet restaurants in 55 countries.

Established in France in 1954, the Association’s mission is to spread its unique art de vivre across the globe by selecting outstanding properties with a truly unique character.

Furthermore, Relais & Châteaux is also a family of hoteliers and Grands Chefs from all over the world who share a passion for, and a personal commitment to, ensuring their guests are privy to moments of exceptional harmony. To choose Relais & Châteaux is to experience an unforgettable celebration of the senses.

From the vineyards in Napa valley to the Northern beaches of Sydney, from the olive trees in Provence to the lodges in South Africa, Relais & Châteaux offers a chance to explore the Route du Bonheur and discover a special place in a variety of destinations.

The Relais & Châteaux signature reflects this ambition: “ALL AROUND THE WORLD, UNIQUE IN THE WORLD.“

Jonahs was somewhere we had been wanting to go to for a long time, and we had high expectations. It didn’t disappoint. Before we even arrived and were driving up the cliff side winding roads we knew we were in for a treat of a view. The restaurant was quaint and house-esque with the decor of a modern French slash contemporary Australian beach side dwelling. We were greeted with great service and seated immediately. We elected to order our starters from the tapas menu and enjoy them on the outside deck while having a drink and enjoying the view then finish with our mains back in the main restaurant area.

Food & Drink

We started with Marinated Sicilian olives and fried Marcona almonds as well as some Garlic prawns Andalusia style. It’s hard to get olives wrong and i’m glad to say that these were up to par. The prawns were especially fantastic. They weren’t overwhelmed by garlic as is often the case and while they were doused in a good amount of oil it was very high quality and not at all over the top.

Our cocktails were very good. I had a gin martini and Puneet had a lychee martini. Again it’s hard to get those too wrong but it’s always good to know a place can do them right.

Before our mains came out I had also ordered their Half dozen Sydney rock oysters served with lemon and raspberry vinegar mignonette. I’m a big fan of natural oysters so any addition usually has to be pretty spectacular for me to like it better than the standard. The mignonette was good but a little too sweet for my personal liking. The oysters themselves were great.

Jonahs Oysters

For mains I had the Spring Lamb — Roasted saddle and  herb crumbed cutlet with zucchini and peas trifolati, baby zucchini flowers and pea purée. Again, very good. The whole dish blended together very well with both the flavours and aromatics complementing each other. The lamb was cooked to perfection, some of the best I have ever had.

Jonahs Spring Lamb

Puneet had the Bomba Rice on a creamy risotto with baby vegetables, semi dried tomatoes and Pedro Ximenez Sherry wine reduction. This was a bit thick and heavy without a tonne of flavour. The flavours that were there worked well and it was a tasty dish for sure but it wasn’t really in the same class as the other food we had.

Jonahs Bomba Rice

We ordered a bottle of Pinot Noir from Oregan in the US for our meal (I can’t recall the exact name, shame on me). It was excellent.

We were too stuffed to fit dessert in by the end.

Overall I give the food an 8/10.

Service

The service was good but not phenomenal. We were greeted well and everyone was polite and helpful throughout the evening but once we had been seated we had to wait a while and try and flag down a waiter a few times before getting our order in. That slight annoyance aside, the meal went smoothly. They were very accommodating in letting us have the first part of our meal outside and even brought over a blanket when they noticed it was a bit chilly. I give the service a 7.5/10.

Ambiance

View from Jonahs

Ten out of ten. Perched atop a cliff looking out over the pacific ocean with waves crashing into the rocks and beach below it’s hard to give this place any less. It was quiet, secluded, special. There’s not much else to say – in terms of places with a view to eat in Sydney (better yet, the world) you would be hard pressed to find better than Jonahs. 10/10.

Value for money

Jonahs isn’t cheap but you pay for the view. It also delivers in terms of food quality and competent service. There are probably better places you can go to for a purely fine-dining experience and similarly you can get away with views close to this for much cheaper but combining the two is a rarity. Overall it delivered what it promises without disappointment. I give it an 7.5/10 in terms of value for money.

The Verdict

I give Jonahs at Whale Beach a 33/40. I would definitely recommend it to others and it is somewhere everyone should go to at least once. If we were to go back anytime soon I think we would sit on the outside deck and have a few drinks + tapas rather than opt for the full meal. It would be a wonderful place to chill out with a few people and take in the view.

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SNE Completed & Yearly Recap

January 2, 2012 5 comments

SNE 2012

I finished off SNE about a week before the end of the year, allowing for a pretty nice break from the tables. Unfortunately pretty much as soon as I finished I came down with the flu and have only just started to overcome it — so most of my break was bed ridden and medicine fueled. It was great nonetheless and Xmas/New Years was spent quietly in and around home without much extravagance.

The month of Dec poker-wise was pretty bad and I lost money pre-RB, but it’s crazy how difficult it can be to actually show a net loss when you add up all those yummy yummy FPPs.

Looking back over the year I must pronounce it an overall resounding success. Aside from being my most profitable year at the tables and re-achieving SNE I was also able to have somewhat of a balanced life and enjoy many holidays and activities away from the tables. Here’s a quick recap of my year through blogging:

The first major thing to occur was obviously what has come to be known as Black Friday — The day online poker left the US market. Since then things have taken a bumpy ride for online poker but when all is said and done we’ve come back to a fairly happy place. Online poker regulations in the US continue to proceed positively and hopefully in 2012 we will see the game become regulated and spring back into action.

May saw me head over to Madrid, Spain for the EPT Grand Final. The trip was a lot of fun and mildly successful in terms of poker results. I look forward to heading back to Europe for another EPT event this year — which one is so far undecided.

July was another overseas trip – this time with Puneet where we headed to the US and Mexico for the WSOP and a holiday. The highlight of the trip was definitely Playa Del Carmen where the weather was perfect, food amazing and we got to swim with turtles. Turtles! TURTLES!

Some of the more avid readers of this blog might remember my excitement when I created a little pot plant herb garden for myself shortly after returning from Mexico. Well, I am sorry to report that about half of the plants have since succumbed to death. It was quick and painless for Mr. Coriander who never stood a chance. Dill and Parsley hung on a lot longer and were able to provide many meals worth of refreshing herbtacular help until they too finally saw the grim bright light of death. The worst was Mr. Black Russian (the heirloom tomato plant). He hung on the longest. He was staked and re-staked and was looking really healthy for a while but eventually the small pot and broomstick handle stake took their toll and I had to pull the plug only a few weeks ago. The rest are still going strong and will hopefully continue to serve their country (ie this household) well for the foreseeable future.

Throughout the whole year I was continually cooking and expanding my culinary horizons, and reporting many times in this blog. There are far too many to post but two of the highlights would definitely be my Bone-In Steak on a Cast Iron Pan and my Thomas Keller Style Roast Chicken. I’ve recently acquired Heston Blumenthal‘s cookbook and am excited to try new recipes over the coming year — many of which I’ll be sure to post ITB (in this blog — I just coined this acronym, probably not the first to but it’s the first i’ve heard of it).

Lastly I have to mention my beloved Wine Fridges. They are still going strong and edging closer and closer to capacity. I’ll need some people to help up the consumption rate — any takers?

All in all it has been a fantastic year. I have much more to say but this post is long enough as it is. I’ll be looking to make a few more posts over the coming days on our recent house redecoration and furnishing, my thoughts on the new Stars rake system (now that it has been made official), goals for 2012 and also some restaurant reviews (something I plan to do more of in the coming year).

I hope everyone had as great of a 2011 as I did — here’s to another great one ahead.

My Thoughts On Weighted Contributed vs Dealt Rake Methods at PokerStars

December 22, 2011 7 comments

The poker world (or a small subsection of it pertaining to those who play online at PokerStars) is in arms over speculation that a change in the way rewards will be given at Stars is about to happen. There is a tonne of misinformation and uninformed opinions floating around and I’d like to give my thoughts on the topic; hopefully making this post a reference for people wanting to know more about the situation.

I will be unbiased in my opinions and look at the issue from all angles.

First of all it should be noted that as of this post there has been no official statement indicating that any change will be made. There is a lot of evidence that points towards a change being likely though. The entire discussion was sparked by this post by PokerStars Steve in the Supernova Elite thread on 2p2:

I plan to announce VIP Program changes by December 17th. Any changes to rake and offering planned for early January may be announced then or may be announced later.

There aren’t any new VIP levels planned. The only possible change for .com that would be considered major would involve changing away from the dealt method of assigning VPPs.

No, I have no further information to provide prior to the final announcement of changes.

http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/showpost.php?p=30267568&postcount=8921

Due to whatever reasons over at Stars, the changes were delayed, and have yet to be posted. We can expect them any day now.

The following was then sent in an email to affiliates of Stars:

CHANGES TO THE CALCULATION OF AFFILIATE REVENUE SHARE COMMISSION FOR 2012 

      On January 1, 2012, we will be changing the way we calculate revenue share for affiliates. When calculating revenue for commission purposes, instead of rake being split between all players dealt into the hand, rake will now be calculated based on the players who contribute to the pot. This has been updated in the Terms and Conditions, which you can review at:

https://www.pokerstarspartners.com/public/about/termsAndConditions.html 

This is currently all the information that has been given to us by Stars. It does indicate that they are contemplating making a change from dealt to weighted contributed but nothing is certain yet. We also don’t know if any other changes are planned or what they might be (though once again we can speculate).

First of all let me emphasize that the above email indicates that the change is strictly for affiliate based commission.

Stars is different to FTP and most other sites in that there is no directly proportional relationship between the amount of rake paid and the rewards received by either party. For “rakeback” in all other sites the amount of money is paid to the affiliate and they then give a percentage of that to the player. So if the affiliate gets less, the player gets less. This has never been the case with Stars due to their VIP program. It has ensured that affiliates get paid separately and any rewards to the players are given straight from Stars.

Affiliates have always received a flat percentage of rake back paid by the player under the dealt method. This is now changing to contributed. I won’t go into whether this is good/bad/fair/unfair on the affiliate end of things in this post as I assume most people are more interested in how any possible changes might effect them and the games they play.

Before I go on let me explain the differences between the dealt method and the weighted contributed method. These are not methods of calculating the rake paid into a pot but rather methods of calculating the rewards received based on the rake paid. Under the current dealt system every seated player at a table who is dealt cards receives the same amount of rewards as everyone else at the table for every hand that is played.

For instance at a 2/4 6max PLO table if everyone folds except the blinds who each end up putting their stacks in then the total rake is $3 (the cap). This number is then multiplied by 5.5 to arrive at the total number of VPPs given to the table which is 16.5. Divide that by the number of people dealt in and you get 2.75 VPPs per player for that hand.

Under the weighted contributed system the only people who would receive points would be the people who put money into the pot, and they receive points based on the % of money they put into the pot. In the above scenario assuming each blind put in the same amount they would receive 8.25 VPPs each and everyone else at the table would receive zero.

There is no arguing that a weighted contributed system is more fair than a dealt method. Why should someone who folds most their hands receive the same amount of rewards as someone who plays every hand (and thus pays most of the rake)? The system has been flawed since it’s inception and almost every other poker site has changed to a weighted contributed system and I think Stars is going to do that now.

What does this mean for you as a player? For almost everybody it will result in a decrease in rewards / rakeback. The tighter you are, the more you will lose. Some people are under the impression that since they play a bit looser than most people they will actually benefit from this change, and this is untrue for most people. The exact figures won’t be known until some time after the changes (if made) are made but based on people’s experiences on other sites when similar switches happened you can expect a noticeable decrease.

A question that comes up a lot is “If they’re taking money from the nits and giving it to the fish then that sounds good to me. Why is that bad? How would Stars profit from it?”

They profit from a discrepancy in rewards occurring by giving less VPPs to the tight regulars and more VPPs to the loose fish. For every VPP you get you get a certain number of FPPs depending on your VIP club level. A supernova elite gets 5x as many and a supernova gets 3.5x as many. Gold, silver and bronze star get less.

The weighted contributed system will result in fewer VPPs being awarded to the tighter players and more being rewarded to the looser players. Since the tight players are far more likely to be regulars and have a higher VIP level, each VPP they lose will be worth more than each VPP gained by the looser players who are more likely to be fish and/or casual players with lower FPP multipliers.

The tighter players are also far more likely to spend their FPPs on the rewards that give them the highest return (ie the $4k bonus for 250k points) whereas the fish are more likely to use the points on lower rate cash bonuses and assorted items from the store.

There’ll definitely be a slight boost to their BRs from being able to hit additional stellar rewards bonuses that they wouldn’t have under the dealt system but I think this is fairly negligible in the grand scheme of things.

There isn’t a direct redistribution if the only change was to be to weighted contributed. The discrepancy in funds is pocketed by Stars.

What remains to be seen is what (if anything) will be done with that money. It’s possible that they will make some changes in the VIP program so that the money is redistributed back to the players in some way or form. I am hopeful for this to happen. If this happens it is unlikely to work out to be exactly the same as before and will affect every person differently. My best guess is that the tightest players will notice an overall drop in rewards, the middle of the range TAGs/LAG regulars will end up somewhere around neutral, possibly slightly down, and the fish and looser than average regulars might see a slight increase.

If there is an overall loss in money given back to the players I hope that it isn’t enormous (which it would be if they simply switch to WC and make no other changes). I also hope that some (all?) of that money is at least spent in areas that will be beneficial to the games. Marketing to bring new players to the site and promotions to redistribute the money back into the poker economy are two that come to mind.

Either way we just have to wait and see what happens. There are three likely scenarios in my mind:

  1. Everything stays as it is.
  2. A switch to WC with no other changes.
  3. A switch to WC with tweaks in the VIP program so that players are compensated in a more “fair” manner.

I think #3 is the most likely to happen. It’s a slightly optimistic viewpoint but I have faith.

Some people seem to think that if a direct change to WC is made then the quality of games will improve. I disagree with this. Based on empirical evidence from when this has happened on other sites, games did not improve.

If a 24 tabling player takes a 20% hit in their rewards/profits, will they just give up poker? Unlikely. They will either increase their volume by 20% or play fewer tables and focus their attention on beating the game rather than raking in the RB. Neither scenario results in softer games.

Regardless of what happens there is no need to panic. Like any change in life you take the information given to you and make the best decisions you can. Hope for the best. plan for the worst. Start thinking about what would happen if they make a direct change to WC and make some contingency plans if you had previously planned to grind on stars and make a large amount of your profits from RB.

Someone posted an awesome youtube clip that is somewhat relevant (and it’s just a great clip in general):

A Poker Update, HEM 2, More Wine, ooh a shiny iPad and TED

December 9, 2011 2 comments

December is upon us. For most December is a month of merryment; you get a nice break from the working grind, Father Christmas comes to visit, perhaps there’s a big new years eve party and a chance to make resolutions (that are almost sure to fail) for the year ahead. Depending on what part of the world you hail from there’ll be pudding, eggnog, a seafood feast; a tree with lights, presents, a Menorah, or a pole commemorating a festivus for the rest of us. The air smells of cinnamon and even the grinchiest of grinches can usually find a reason to be chipper. It’s great.

For most SNE grinders however you get none of that. You are faced with a mountain of VPPs to climb. Games get tougher and VPP rates hit the decline. Sleep is eluded and all of a sudden caffeine and energy drinks become a much bigger part of life. Christmas is now a “damn distraction, I’ll have to play an extra 30 minutes every other day to compensate”. New years offers a faint light at the end of the tunnel, that is unless you’ve literally left things to the last minute and are blitzing through the final points as fireworks explode outside your window (this actually happened in at least one instance where a poor soul fell short of the millionth point in a tragedy that rivals that of Romeo and Juliet).

So where do I stand? Closer to the former situation than the latter, thankfully, but this December is still not as painless as one would want it to be. Here’s my VPP count:

VPP Count Dec 9th 2011

Not too bad. Not great, but not bad. Certainly not as bad as a certain JoeIngram1 who entered the month with ~450k points to go. My goal is to finish by the 19th which requires a touch over 10k points a day. I’m falling slightly short of that each day so I can expect to finish around the 21st, still much more reasonable than my 2pm January 1st AEST photo finish of last (this?) year. Once completed I plan to take a solid two week hiatus from the tables ready to come back fresh in the new year.

Here’s my play over the last month or so shown in the new and shiny Holdem Manager 2 (Omaha Manager really, but it’s still widely referred to as HEM):

Graph Dec 9th 2011

Overall things are peachy. There were a few nasty days in there and a couple of bad stretches but nothing out of this world. It’s always nice when your results line and AIEV lines converge at the end of the day.

My thoughts on HEM 2 in general are pretty negative. I like a few features and it does seem faster in terms of import speed and pulling up big reports for hundreds of thousands or millions of hands but overall it still has a buggy, clunky feeling to it. The HUD doesn’t feel right and I wouldn’t advise upgrading just yet. I still use HEM 1 as my main program and only import the hands over to this version every few days. One cool feature I will mention is the Multi Table Report. It essentially breaks down your hands played into the number of tables (from 1 to x in increments of 1) so you can see if there’s a “tipping point” where your play starts to really deteriorate or if you would be better off z tabling to y tabling.

2010 Mike Press Cab Sav

Moving on from poker now a quick review / recommendation on a recent wine purchase. If you’re looking for an inexpensive but fantastic every day red that will drink greatly now and also cellar for several years then you can’t go past the 2010 Mike Press Cabernet Sauvignon. You can pick up a dozen for $150 through WineStar including delivery and freight insurance (in metro areas). Rather than attempting to post my own tasting notes and likely making a mockery of both myself and the wine, I will quote James Halliday:

A wine that underlines the flexibility of the Mike Press vineyard, small though it may be. Bright crimson; has the elegance that has marked the Mike Press wines since day one, and the irresistible price; fragrant blackcurrant fruit is the driver, cedary oak and fine tannins bring up the rear in fine style. From estate vines now 13 years old. 94 points, $14, Screwcap, 14% alc. From Adelaide Hills, SA.bDrink to 2017 with lamb backstrap. James Halliday Top 100 2011

At $12.50 a bottle it’s a steal.

Last but not least for this entry I must thank my wonderful girlfriend for my shiny new toy, the apple iPad, that she got me for our anniversary a couple of days ago. When it first came out I wasn’t too wowed by it and I didn’t make any sort of fuss about wanting to get one or anything. Then my mum got one, and I used it a bit and started playing around with it, and I was hooked. It was (and is) awesome. I’m still getting used to it and am filling it with content and finding out more about it but it’s already blowing my mind. I welcome app recommendations so if anyone has any please let me know! I already have Infinity Blade to fulfill my gaming needs but two other apps I must recommend are TED and Air Video. Air Video simply lets you stream content straight from your PC to your iPad without the need for converting file formats (it converts the files as they are played). It’s fantastic.

If you don’t know what TED is then I highly recommend checking out their website. Quoting their “about” page, this is what TED is:

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences — the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer — TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.

The TED app focuses on TEDTalks:

TEDTalks began as a simple attempt to share what happens at TED with the world. Under the moniker “ideas worth spreading,” talks were released online. They rapidly attracted a global audience in the millions. Indeed, the reaction was so enthusiastic that the entire TED website has been reengineered around TEDTalks, with the goal of giving everyone on-demand access to the world’s most inspiring voices.

I highly recommend checking out their videos. A couple of my favourites:

Starting with a talk on why video games are good for kids / the world!

This is a really cool one on the topic of massive-scale online collaboration:

Lastly, some of you might remember my post on the Khan Academy from a few months back. Well here he is talking on TED:

Best of luck to my fellow SNE grinders. See you on the other side.

Wine, Wine Fridges, and Wine Tips

November 30, 2011 2 comments

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last update (too long!) and much has happened since then. I’ll be making a few posts to make up for that but as the title hints, this post will center around wine. I’ve recently acquired two awesome wine fridges and rekindled a love for wine that has laid semi-dormant for years.

I, like my dad, love to drink wine. With drinking wine comes purchasing and storing it and with that comes cellaring it and the requirement for the correct conditions. Hence a lot of research and the purchase of the wine fridges. As I’ve come to research more about wine my eyes have been opened as to how many mistakes most people make when it comes to storing and serving wine (mistakes I myself made not long ago). Hopefully most people can learn a little from what I’ve recently discovered. There’s also a pretty decent chance I don’t know some things or have slightly incorrect information, and I’m sure some of the people reading this are far more experienced than I so hopefully they can post some tips in the comments section to help me and others out too.

First of all you want to keep your wine in a good location. Whether you have two bottles, 20 or 50 it makes sense to store them under as favourable conditions as possible. Things to avoid are:

Fluctuations in temperature – Anywhere where the wine will be subject to great fluctuations in temperature is going to be bad for the bottle. Obviously this is anywhere near sunlight or near another heat source but it should also be noted that the temperature inside a regular fridge is always changing so it doesn’t stand as a good place to store wine you don’t intend on drinking soon.

Vibrations –  Even subtle vibrations can effect the chemical processes going on inside a bottle of wine. This means you should stay away from keeping a wine bottle on top of or near any appliance that vibrates (ie fridge, microwave, etc).

Sunlight – Aside from the obvious heat concerns of leaving a wine bottle where the sun can get it, the actual UV (ultraviolet) light will hurt the wine by damaging some of the compounds found within the bottle.

Humidity – The issue of humidity lies with the cork of the wine bottle. If a bottle is subjected to prolonged periods of low humidity then the cork is likely to dry out and ruin the wine. An ideal range is around 60-65%. You should also always keep your wine bottles laying horizontally so the wine is in contact with the cork on the inside of the bottle preventing it from drying out on that end. Fortunately many winemakers these days are moving towards screw cap bottles (in Australia it is rare to find any bottle produced these days with a cork; unfortunately some other countries have been slower to catch on for their own reasons).

Extreme Temperatures (especially extreme heat) – This is going to be the factor that most effects the outcome of your bottle of wine. If you plan to age your wines for medium to long term cellaring then ideal temperature conditions are to keep the bottle at 12-14°C with fluctuations minimised to +/- 1°. Obviously those conditions are going to be tough to mirror without a wine fridge or an excellently built cellar but fortunately you can “make do” for the most part. If you have a large or valued collection that you want to preserve though I suggest investing in a wine fridge or cellar arrangement. You can also rent out storage at an off-suit facility if no other option is viable.

You will want to get to as close to that ideal range as possible with a general rule of cooler being better than warmer. As the mercury starts the rise it speeds up the aging process of the wine. A good red that you want to age for 10 years under ideal conditions might reach its peak in only two years if it’s stored at 22°. ”

What’s wrong with that? It just means the wine matures and can be drunk quicker, right?”

Not exactly. While it does mature quickly, the manner in which it matures is flawed and will create imperfections within the wine. Chemical reactions will occur that would not otherwise at a lower temperature and these reactions can lead to the wine tasting “off” or foul. You might get lucky and have the bottle survive high temperatures but far more often than not it will lead to being ruined or of a much lesser quality than what it started of as.

So is it okay to leave a wine bottle out at high temperatures for only a short time? The short answer is no. I did some research and according to the chart below the rate of aging increases exponentially as the temperature of the wine increases. If a bottle is store in extreme heat (say 35° or higher — not uncommon in Australian summer) then it could age at a rate fifty times that of a properly stored wine. This means that a mere month of sitting out in the heat would age the bottle six years — and not in the good kind of way.

A couple of degrees doesn’t make a huge difference but once you started pushing the 20° mark things start to rapidly go downhill. You’ll note the low and high ranges and it is stated in the accompanying article to that post that the ranges are far more likely to be towards the higher end of the range.

Storing wine at lower temperatures is much less detrimental. Essentially what will happen is the opposite to a wine stored in heat, it will age at a slower pace. This isn’t a terrible thing and is unlikely to ruin the wine. In fact I read an anecdote recently about a bottle found in a sunken ship that was preserved and aged impeccably due to the slow aging process. The problem with very low temperatures is that the wine will tend to “stand still” and not age much at all. For a lot of wines to reach their full potential they need time to have those chemical reactions occur so while you’re not ruining the wine, you’re not making it better either.

Well I think that’s the crux of it. There’s another whole blog entry if I were to go into the serving temperature of wines but I won’t ramble on with that in this entry. Moving on to my own fridges, some photos!

Wine Fridges in Office

The fridges set up in my office

Wine fridges doors open

Open wide..

There’s still plenty of space for more bottles to be stores so i’ll be on the hunt for some good finds over the coming months – suggestions welcomed! I’ve started tracking my collection at http://www.cellartracker.com (a great site, highly recommended) and noticed that almost my entire collection is of Australian wines (no great shock there though). It’s not a terrible thing as we make some fantastic wine here but some diversification would be nice too.

Well I’ll leave this entry there. I’ve got plenty more to talk about and will try to bang out a few entries quick smart (I love that term — I feel like it doesn’t get used enough these days though [these days, look at me, next thing you know I’ll start telling kids “back in my day we could get a red frog lolly for only five cents! and an entire McDonalds meal for $5!“]). Yeah, I’ll end on that.

Hand Analysis – A river check-raise

November 15, 2011 6 comments

Someone posted a comment on my last entry asking for me to pick out a big or interesting hand and then analyse it, so that’s what this entry is all about. Now a “big and interesting” hand is certainly open to interpretation but I decided that “big” would be anything where each player puts in 100bbs or more in the pot and “interesting” would be something out of the ordinary (like a river check-raise which is not a common occurrence).

Now some people will surely find this hand standard (as I do now) but hopefully it will help others to progress from the stage of thinking about the hand and decision to being able to consider in standard and a second nature decision.

Anyway, here’s the hand in question — my opponent was a standard TAG (tight-aggressive) regular:

Preflop: Folding is not an option pre with a hand as strong as ours. Our options are to call or 3-bet. I elected to call as I prefer to play tighter rather than looser when OOP and the 2 dangler in our hand is less than ideal. I wouldn’t blame someone for 3betting this hand but I believe calling is slightly better.

Flop: We have several options on this flop. We can lead (as we did), check-call, or check-raise. Check-folding is too weak with a hand as strong as ours. So why did I decide to lead? Essentially I felt that it was the lesser of all evils. Our hand isn’t a powerhouse but it isn’t totally weak either — it is strong enough to want to put more money in the pot and both check-calling and check-raising are unappealing options.

Turn: Having led the flop and seeing the SB check the turn we want to continue to put pressure on him by betting the turn. This serves as getting value out of worse hands as well as protecting our hand from the myriad of possible draws out there.

River: This is the most interesting street of all in my opinion. When the SB checks to us we have to make a decision, bet or check. Our hand looks strong both in relative and absolute terms so our inclination is to bet. And betting is correct. We are betting for value with our hand as we hope to be called by a worse hand and we never assume to fold out a better one (ie a bluff). What hands can our opponent call us with? Given he check-called the flop and turn and then checked the river his most likely hand is a draw that missed and thus will fold to a bet. However sometimes his draw will contain a pair that he will decide to hero call with. He might have KKxx with clubs. He might have AQJT with a picked up gutshot on the turn. He might have 2xxx with clubs that made it to the river. He might have slowplayed aces. Regardless, there are a lot of hands he could potentially call us with that we are ahead of. So we bet.

Then we get raised. We didn’t expect to get raised when we bet. Sometimes when we’re playing a lot of tables and make a standard valuebet on the river we think nothing of it and go on to act on another table, and only when we look back at this table we see the check-raise and notice that it was unexpected. It is unexpected because our opponent “should” never have a hand that can check-raise this river. He is either check-raising for value or check-raising as a bluff and it is now up to us to use our 30 second time bank to decide which it is and make the correct decision. To do this we must rely on our hand reading abilities. This is a very easy hand and river decision in my opinion and I will explain why.

Let’s look at every hand that we lose to.  We lose to QQxx, 88xx and 66xx. We tie with Q2xx. We beat all other hands. So let’s now see how likely it is for our opponent to have any of those hands:

QQxx — For our opponent to have QQxx he must have the case two queens (as the board contains one and we have the other) but even more importantly than that he must have check-called our flop bet on a flush draw board with top set with UTG+1 left to act behind him (thus giving him good odds to outdraw him). This isn’t impossible as some players sometimes slowplay big hands (even in situations that they shouldn’t). However he then check-calls the turn, an 8, which puts more draws on the board. This to me seems highly unlikely a move for any player to do. Whether he is an aggressive shark or a passive fish or anything in between, almost every player will at the least check-raise the turn if they had taken such a passive line on the flop. So now that the river falls and he check-raises it is very difficult for him to ever have QQxx in that spot, let alone check-raise with it (he may have elected to lead that hand instead). So we call.

The same logic can be applied to 66xx except if we go back a street to pre-flop we can deduce that it is even less likely for him to hold a hand with two sixes in it as he cold-called a raise out of the small blind and there aren’t many hands containing 66 that would call from that position.

It is even MORE difficult to put our opponent on 88xx than either QQxx or 66xx as we now have to assume that not only did he call a raise from the small blind with a hand that contains two eights but that he also check-called the flop with a hand that has an underpair to the board with one person left to act behind. There are very few hands that can fit this criteria, the only ones coming to mind being those with flush draws and usually high flush draws. And even if he does check-call the flop with a hand that happens to have 88 in it and then he does happen to check the turn, he then has to elect not to put in a raise when we bet again. The rest of the hand uses the logic from the above examples but the basic gist of it is that it is extremely unlikely that our opponent will ever have us beat on this river and because of that we should call — as I did — and it will almost always be correct.

Sometimes you will play against opponents who are flippant in the way they play hands and it is more difficult to put them on hands than your regular, thinking opponent (who will use logic to make most of their decisions) and you must adjust your play according to your opponent but I believe that almost all villains you come up against will at least play some hands in a similar fashion and certain patterns can be learned from watching their play.

Categories: Poker

A quick poker / SNE update

November 11, 2011 3 comments

It’s been exactly a month since my last poker update so now seems like as good a time as any to make a progress update.

Overall things have been going well — there was a 2 or so week breakeven period where nothing was working but that’s nothing out of the ordinary. VPP-wise I am coming along at a nice pace:

VPP Count

With just under 200k to go I am still on pace to hit SNE right around the middle of December. I’ve been putting in some big days recently getting up to 8k some days which is really helping the chase. I’ll be taking this weekend off to visit my parents back in Brisbane with Puneet but once I get home it’ll be full steam ahead until I get VPP 1,000,000.

My graph since my last update:

Last Month

Hope everyone is doing great — especially those in the same shoes as me pulling into the SNE finish line! GL all.