Well That Was Exhausting!

After 10 days of tireless editing, proofreading and design by me and my team, the PDF version of Zen Madman's Flash Fiction Folio is finally finished. I found the actual writing of the material relatively easy and got through it very quickly. Despite numerous careful reviews, we kept finding little things that needed fixing. It didn't help that Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign got along about as well as Oscar Madison and Felix Unger. Hopefully you'll find the final result just as entertaining as The Odd Couple.

After thinking about the comments received on the first three cover ideas, I decided to go with a fourth one. It looks like this:

January 2012

I've been a bit MIA for the past two weeks. I was lost in the Writing A Book Very Fast Zone. Now, I'm entirely capable of writing a book in under a month, but it feels a bit like holding my breath under water. If I get distracted or relax too much, I'm likely to drown.

In reviewing this first month in Germany, things have been a mix of awesome, good, and moderately frustrating. I've written and/or revised about sixteen-thousand words in the past few days, so I'll just fire out some bullet points. The awesome:

  • Thanks to friends and strangers alike, my Kickstarter was a complete success.
  • Zen Madman's Flash Fiction Folio is complete. The design is mostly done, too. Just a few adjustments here and there, and we're ready to go to print.
  • I've gotten to know a new country, home to delicious caramel soy pudding and "Happy end" toilettenpapier.
  • Reached my goal of weighing 80kg, despite my new Nirwana Noir addiction.
  • I started playing Heads Up Limit Holdem again. Man is this game fun!
The good:
  • Got set up on a few Euro poker sites.
  • Published the Poker Player Bill of Rights.
  • Made some decent cash playing HULHE.
  • Kept up with my blog for the first couple weeks.
  • Learned enough German to avoid the soup with Schweinefleisch in it.
The moderately frustrating:
  • Failed to reopen my PokerStars account. This was a mix of logistics and distraction on my part.
  • Importing a Word document into Indesign resulted in some data loss, slowing the process.
  • Still feel like an ignorant American who can only speak one language.
To review, I'm happy with the month, but I'm already working hard for a better February.

25th Hour

I’m running from the law down a too-well-lit corridor. In my hand is a magenta sheet of paper bearing my sentence – 5 years, 9 months. I can recall neither my crime nor how I got cornered in this stupid building. All I know is the fear of confinement. I must be free.

I open my eyes in a too-dark room. I can recall neither where I am nor how I got here. All I know is that I’m not running.

Germany. I’m not breaking the law, but I have run from it, from what calls itself the law and then changes its mind. I’m here to play poker, and I sleep with my computer.

The screen sears my eyes as I ask it the time. It’s almost low noon. Another six hours on my Kickstarter. I visit the page and find my project fully funded.

It’s like Christmas morning. An emotional one-eighty. At the same time, two people put me over the top – a friend and a stranger – and then there was a third.

More pledges roll in before the closing bell rings. I smile in gratitude, just before dawn in Germany.

It. Is. On.

2012 grind in full effect. I'll be playing 6 to 10 hours per day, almost every day, for the rest of the year. I'm going back to the method I used to build my game up in 2008. Two shorthanded tables or one table heads up. High focus, quality over quantity, repeated hour after hour. Warm up and review, video and study.

In other poker-related news, I've been on a video-making tear. Sledghammer and I just recorded a two-part small-blind mini-series. We covered some fundamentals and some not-so-fundamentals. I've also got four new table play videos in the queue, so look for an increase in Limit Holdem content on DragTheBar.

I'm also doing a small amount of private coaching, available for $75/hour or $300/5 hours, only through my Kickstarter for Zen Madman's Flash Fiction Folio. I'm excited about publishing my fiction for the first time, but it will be easier to focus on poker once the project is done. Only 65 hours left on the Kickstarter, so act fast if you want coaching, the book, or a postcard from online poker tour 2012!

It's About Time

I've always had a hard time with external forces structuring my time.
Apprehension shadows every minute when an appointment looms.
When there is nothing required of me, I am at peace. Relaxed.
But I've come to Germany,  to the land of structure.
You're not allowed to take a shower after 11.
You can't do the laundry after 9.
So when in Germany,
You do as the
Now it
seems that
the time is here
to make my schedule.
Each morning I'll wake up
about 10 A.M. I will start my day.
Eat some breakfast, go for a walk, stretch.
Two hours of poker, snack, yoga, then more poker.
Four days per week, it's off to the gym for serious exercise.
Kettlebells and free weights, then kick and punch the heavy bag.
Dinner, then grind more hands and words. Much work. It's about time.

Two New Cover Options

The cover vote for my Flash Fiction Folio has yielded a mixed result between Cover Number 1 and None of the Above. I've listened to the people (yes, you people*) and added two new options. Keep voting HERE. More votes means more free stuff!

* What do you mean you people?
What do you mean you people?

Discount Coaching For Flash Fiction Fans

As part of the Kickstarter for my Flash Fiction Folio, I’m offering poker coaching at about half my normal rate. That’s $75 for one hour or $300 for a five hour package. Each of those comes with the eBook and paperback editions of my first collection of fiction. Sessions can be for limit (small to mid-stakes), no limit (small stakes), or poker theory (including EV calcs and combo counting), and you can split the cost with a study buddy or group.

It’s super simple. All you have to do is participate in my Kickstarter at the $75 or $300 reward levels. Where else can you buy coaching through Amazon?

Out of the Clouds

I’ve been in Germany for a solid week now, and despite all the novelty – new language, caramel soy pudding – the time has flown by. It took a few days to get some poker sites set up, and I’ve yet to play a substantial number of hands. It’s time for that to change.

That’s not to say I haven’t been working. I’ve drafted an ambitious year-long plan, worked on my flash fiction project, and finished up my Poker Player Bill of Rights. But it’s time to get my grind on. Head out of the clouds, feet on the ground running. Running good, I hope.

Poker Player Bill of Rights

From superusers to colluders, from shady sites to greedy governments, poker players are constantly at risk of being cheated, swindled, and defrauded. While intelligent players look out for themselves and each other, not everyone has access to enough information to keep safe. There should be an organization keeping an eye on these things, allowing players to focus on playing.

Before an organization can fight for our rights, we first must establish what those rights are. To this end, I have drafted a Poker Player Bill of Rights. I have defined and explained each right below, and followed that with an assessment of where we currently stand on protecting these rights.

For the complete Poker Player Bill of Rights, visit pokerfuse.com.

German Soy Pudding

After mixed success on the soy milk front, I decided to brave the soy pudding frontier. As you can see, I went a bit overboard and bought all four varieties. Again the results were mixed. The vanilla is mediocre, the dark chocolate is decent to good, the "milk" chocolate is very good, and the caramel ist die Bombe! This may be my lack of recent sugar intake speaking, but it's one of the best puddings I've ever had.

German vegan tip of the day: look for food with the 100% pflanzlich symbol. All plant, all the time. Unfortunately, it's found almost exclusively on soy goodies, but that's a good enough place to start.

This will be my last food blog for a little while. I've got a big piece coming out on pokerfuse tomorrow, and I'm getting some poker sites up and running. More on that soon.

Soya Milch

Quick update on the German soy milk front: The banana soy milk is awesome. The chocolate soy milk as well. The plain...well, let's just say I can see why soy milk is not a heavily consumed product in Germany. Yikes! It's time to try another brand.

On a more positive note, I managed to find seitan, soy yogurt, soy cheese, and blocks of tofu. Last night I fried up some seitan with fresh onion, peppers, garlic and ginger for a hearty vegan meal. Right now I'm trying to force down the soy milk for some protein, but I may relent, take the loss, and buy some more of the banana variety.

Ich Bin Strikter Vegetarier

Well, that's what Google Translate tells me, anyway. On Day 2 of my journey, I did a little language research to prepare for the supermarket. It turns out there are a decent number of soy products, including banana soy milk! It's quite tasty. I'll buy some seitan and soysages tomorrow. Sadly, I haven't found any black beans. They're all kidney and baked beans, and all with sugar added. But I got a nice bag of apples for only .99€. The euro is losing steam on the dollar, so my money's going a bit further than I'd anticipated.

My attempts at opening a local bank account were thwarted by my lack of registered address here. I'll try again tomorrow at HSBC, which advertises exceptional service for expats. Hopefully sleep will come for me now and erase the insomnia of yesterday.

Welcome to Düsseldorf

I've arrived in Hamburg without incident. New Year's on a plane was frightfully uneventful. I can't decide whether the highlight was when they gave us champagne and people arbitrarily clinked glasses (even more arbitrarily than normal, since it was 11:37 somewhere and 12:37 somewhere else), or when midnight EST passed and no one blinked. But my personal highlight was going through immigration in Düsseldorf.

"What is the purpose of your visit?" the stone-faced officer asked.

"To visit friends and to see Europe," I answered.

"How long would you like to stay?"

"89 days."

He looked up from my brand-new empty passport, then back down at my passport and leafed through it disdainfully. It felt like five minutes before he spoke again.

"So you've never been here before?"

"No, well, not since I was three."

"I see...and how many dollars do you have with you?"

Now, if this was New York, I'd assume it was a mugging attempt. But this is a common immigration question and I was prepared.

"Two thousand in cash, and another ten thousand in the bank." Hopefully not too much and not too little.

"And you can take a long vacation from work like this?"

"I'm a writer, so I don't have to be at home to get work done."

He nodded his approval and turbo-stamped my passport.

"Enjoy your stay."

So I think I found the magic answer to getting approved for a 90-day visa. Have money and be a writer.