Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sticking with the original strategy

Since my trading has been really bad lately and football has been absolutely dreadful for me (thank goodness the season's almost over) I started playing some poker again.

I've gone back and forth between playing short stacked in a higher stakes game and buying in for the full buyin in a lower stakes game. The general rule is that you want to buy in full and play at a level where your bankroll can take a lot of hits. The advantages of the full buy-in include the ability to really play a post flop game and the ability to maximize your profits when you have the opponent drawing thin.

However, there are still some advantages to playing short stacked in a higher stakes game. First, I find that in online poker, higher stakes players are actually worse than lower stakes players up to a certain buyin level. Second, by being short stacked, there are less post-flop decisions and you can often pick off players who are trying to build the pot with weaker starting hands.

I'm sure there are more pros and cons for either style, but the main thing that I've come to realize is that whichever style and strategy you're playing, it is more important to be clear about the strategies and stick with them. For example, if you're playing NL Holdem and you bought in for the minimum, you should refrain from playing a lot of suited or connected hands, especially if you are not the aggressor or you are out of position. People play these hands because if you hit your hand, you may take down a big pot. But because you haven't bought in for the full amount to maximize the pot in case you hit, the expected value of playing such hands goes down dramatically.

The above point is something that is probably pretty well known. The point I want to make now is a little different and I frequently see people doing the opposite of it. I feel that if you're playing short stacked, you need to leave the table as soon as the stack has grown. Whether it be double or triple the short buyin, there needs to be a limit set. I've seen too many people buy in for the minimum, build it up pretty well, lose it all on one hand, then buy in for the minimum again. The problem that many people don't see is that even though that one loss probably was a bad beat or something, it's still well within the percentages. Using one of the examples I frequently talk about, let's say you're playing a guy who always goes in against you with an underpair. You're pretty much favored against him 4-1 all the time. The problem is you're going to lose 1 time out of 5 and if it happens after you've been building your stack pretty well, you'll be negative overall even though you're a huge favorite. So if the plan is to play a short stack strategy, then you need to stop it once the stack is no longer "short".

I also feel that this concept of sticking with the original strategy is useful in trading. I find that even though I make a trade based on a short term catalyst, I will try to make more on it than the original expectancy based on the catalyst, and end up with no gain. Conversely I will make a trade using a long term catalyst and end up taking gains too quickly and not maximizing the profit on the trade. Hopefully I will learn this lesson and apply it both to poker and trading.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays!!!

Happy holidays to all and to all a wonderful 2008

Time to stay indoors as the weather gets colder. So I'm watching more movies...

I saw "I am Legend" and "Juno" last week. Both were excellent and "Juno" was much better than I thought it would be. "I am Legend" was really good but I read a summary of the original book somewhere (was it on wikipedia?) and the original book sounds even more interesting.

I also saw "The Heartbreak Kid" on pirated DVD last night and it was really funny. Raunchy and definitely for adults, but very fun.

It seems there aren't many holiday-themed movies out this year.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Hong Kong International Races

A big day with big names from all across the horse racing industry, the Hong Kong Jockey Club really outdid themselves this year in terms of overall racing quality. The following are a few personal thoughts and insights from this year's Hong Kong international races.

1. Sacred Kingdom is scary good. It gave a shellacking to a horse that gave a shellacking to last year's best sprinters and a horse that set the course and distance record. There were plenty of excuses for Miss Andretti but in the words of The Rock, "IT DOESN'T MATTER" if Miss Andretti had gotten a better run with the performance Sacred Kingdom put in. Pretty much the same as last year when Takeover Target couldn't run but Absolute Champion's dismissal of that field made it clear who was going to win anyway.

2. A horse that is specifically prepped for a race will always run better than those that weren't. In this year's case Dr. Dino was specifically prepped for the Vase and put in a brilliant performance, while Dylan Thomas only made the trip here as a last chance to get a race in before retiring to stud. When Dylan Thomas put in that poor performance in the BC Turf it was clear that he had topped off in the Arc, which was exactly the race that Aiden O'Brien specifically prepped him for.

3. European mile form is incredibly useless. Like I said when previewing the BC Mile, asian sprinter-milers are the best and Good Ba Ba won an excellent race with Excellent Art nowhere to be found. You could make a case for saying that both the runner ups were European horses but their forms were Classic forms, with their mile form at the 1000 and 2000 Guineas races. All I'm saying is that the form from European G1 sprint or mile races don't tend to hold up very well.

4. Frankie Dettori is still the best turf jockey in the world. The run on Creachadoir from the outside draw to end up on the inside of Good Ba Ba was brilliant and the fight he put in the horse after it got headed by Good Ba Ba resulted in one of the better duels I've seen in a HKIR finish in a while. There was also a spectacular run on Ramonti in the Cup where Dettori gave up the rail to make sure he had a nice run with a horse to follow for cover as Ramonti started out very keen. Which brings us to...

5. Mick Kinane is still the most frustrating jockey to watch in the world. He is still one of the very best big race jockeys and I wouldn't want anyone else on if I had a backmarker horse and a long straight like at Longchamp. But Kinane gets into trouble more than any other big race rider I've ever seen. I remember greats like Rock of Gibraltar and Giants' Causeway that would rumble home down the straight but end up just a little shy because it was sitting in the box for so long.

6. Not that I think it would have made a difference to the result, however. With Ramonti having the initiative and the final 400m run in 22.7, there's not much that can be done to chase down a world class horse. Anywhere else in the world the owner or trainer of Viva Pataca would put in another horse (a rabbit) to make sure it was a truly run race and really test Ramonti's stamina. But Hong Kong has a really really big thing against collusion and corruption and the like so even simple tactics like that are essentially not allowed.

Final words on Hong Kong hopefuls:

Sacred Kingdom is clearly the best sprinter in the world and I hope Ricky Yiu takes it abroad to throw the gauntlet down. Ricky's a trainer who's had two of Hong Kong's best horses (Fairy King Prawn and Electric Unicorn) taken from him while he was still winning with them! He's got to keep proving himself I guess.

Another possibility is that Absolute Champion travels the world if Sacred Kingdom stays put. It'll be a carbon copy of when Cape of Good Hope travelled the world winning G1s because Silent Witness was too strong and wouldn't leave Hong Kong.

Vengeance of Rain might be done at the very top world class level. The horse had achieved a lot, even before the Dubai Sheema win, so it's natural that the horse is past its prime.

Could it be that Viva Pataca is now at its best over a mile and a half? I believe if you have a horse that can perform at that level at the Classic distance you take him around the world to the very best races (Japan Cup, L'Arc, Diamond Stakes, etc.). However, John Moore seems to have this infatuation with the Cox Plate and I'd be very disappointed if that is the big race he preps Viva Pataca for next year.

No idea what will happen with Good Ba Ba. It's tough with a horse that is not ultra-consistent (Good Ba Ba seems to either win or not be in it) and a horse that is not even a clear lock to win all the domestic mile races (Armada might come back, and in general there are a lot of genuine top level milers in Hong Kong). But with that turn of foot I do hope Good Ba Ba gets taken abroad, and I don't count the Yasuda Kinen because that is probably the toughest turf mile race right now in the world and yet doesn't get the deserved recognition.

Trading vs. Investing

Wow I really haven't been able to get myself up to write a post at all. A big part of that is that fact that I've been back trading for a little over a month now, and it really just takes up a big part of my life. I've always had a high variance as a trader and now that I'm no longer working for a firm, those swings seem magnified. Especially on the downside. So it's been much tougher to get back into the mood of writing, but hopefully I can start again.

It's really hard enough to explain what I do to someone who isn't knowledgeable about finance, but sometimes I find it just as hard to explain it to someone who's been working on the investment side of things (I have a few investment banking friends). So I'm going to write a short list of my opinions on the differences between trading and investing.

1. Traders make money through the mechanics of the market. This includes taking advantage of supply and demand, mass group psychology, etc. Investors make money through the assessment of the worth of a company, and base any projections/predictions on the mechanics of the company and its business.

2. An investors' aim is to buy something that is undervalued and sell it when it is overvalued. Hence the term "buy low sell high". A traders' aim is to buy something when someone else is willing to pay higher for it, regardless of its worth or value. Hence the term "buy high sell higher" (If you've never heard of this before you'll hear it on some shows that focus on traders, such as Fast Money on CNBC).

3. Investors use fundamental analysis because it is a study of the company and its business. Traders can also use fundamental analysis because having an objective valuation of a company means having more information. However, traders also use technical analysis, a graphical or quantifiable representation of past human behavior, to predict future behavior patterns in the markets. An investor who focuses on the company itself would find no use for that.

4. Investors should have much slower diminishing returns on investment because short run supply and demand does not have as big an effect on an investor's bottom line, while a trader can make a trade based solely on supply and demand and therefore have the terms of their returns completely dictated by the marketplace.

5. Trading would be a zero sum game IF there were no investors. I feel that investors are not part of the game of traders/speculators and so any losses incurred by investors in using the marketplace that are credited to traders do not enter into my considerations for a zero sum game. A market with only traders/speculators would be a zero sum game because it is self-contained. Investors' smaller emphasis on short run supply and demand separates them from the trading game.

6. The actual cost of stocks relate to investors' perspectives, not traders' perspectives. All stocks should be priced to theoretical perpetuity, ie. a present value based on an educated guess of how long the business will run. A trader's time frame will always be too short to fully take advantage of perpetuity while an investor can pass on holdings for generations to come.

Because of point 6, I am especially reluctant to give any advice on stocks because my perspective is that of a trader. If I tell you to sell, often it is because it is better to buy it back a week later. But as an investor, will you do just that?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Writer's Block

Been having trouble writing posts.
Seems like even when I have ideas I want to write about I have trouble putting it down into words. So to help facilitate my writing bit by bit, I'll probably start posting some basketball and football picks beginning tomorrow.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Boston Market comes through in the clutch

With the CFA exam coming up in less than 10 days and me not having even gone through all my lecture DVDs, I decided it was best for me to stay home and try to study for Thanksgiving. So after I refused my generous friends' offer to join them for two Thanksgiving dinners up in Boston, I was left with no plans for today.

So at about noontime I went over to the Boston Market just 4 blocks away from me and ordered a family Thanksgiving meal to get me through the day. I usually don't go to Boston Market because the rotisserie chickens at the nearby Peruvian place are both cheaper and better. But I figured Boston Market was my best shot for turkey on Thanksgiving. For $28 plus tax, I got a pound and a half of turkey breast, 3 large sides, and cornbread. I think the turkey breast was poached as it was so juicy and tender. I wouldn't imagine that possible with roasted or rotisserie turkey no matter what brine was used. For my 3 sides I got mashed potatoes, stuffing, and corn. The stuffing was very nice and simple, with aromatics and the celery left crunchy for texture.

The only things that I minded were the wait in line (there were 30 people in front of me and by the time I was halfway up the line there was another 20 people behind me), the fact that I had to pay extra for gravy (gravy didn't come with the meal), and that no utensils were provided. But besides those minor inconveniences, I ended up with a great turkey day after all food-wise, though there will be no leftovers for the day after. Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

New England Patriots and the Elite

I absolutely HATE the fact that there are still so many people hating on the New England Patriots for "running up the score" and having "poor sportsmanship". I have many non-PC views on things like this and I don't feel the need to rant about those here. But there are three quick points I want to make.

1. The New England Patriots really is the elite team in the NFL right now and by definition, being the best means that there is separation between the team and the average person. I think that is why there are many people who don't understand and appreciate what the Patriots are doing. I've read too many stories and forum posts about how the Patriots' blowouts are not enjoyable to watch. If you are a real fan of the game, then the Patriots' near perfect execution should be fun to watch. I love a good underdog story as much as anyone, but what I really hate is mediocrity. If a game is a blowout because one team is awful, I agree that's horrible to watch. But two mediocre teams playing a close game isn't entertaining to watch either. That means people just watch for the results and have no understanding or appreciation of the game.

2. Why do people think that the Patriots are showing poor sportsmanship? They are playing hard all the way through and that to me is real sportsmanship. Poor sportsmanship is when a team stops playing hard because they are out of the game. I watch Iron Chef every now and then and I see challengers who are just completely outclassed. The judges aren't particularly fond of their food while raving about the Iron Chef's food. Does that mean the Iron Chef should hold back so as not to run up the score? Of course not. They are searching for perfection every meal they make.

3. Which brings me to my last point. It seems to me that the number of people who are jealous of real talent and perfection way outnumber the people who admire that talent. In a world where too many people struggle to achieve mediocrity, a person who's trying to achieve perfection becomes the odd man out. One of the TV shows that I watch, Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, illustrates this point exactly. I have been lucky enough to play with and against world class bridge players, poker players, and traders. Instead of whining about how badly they beat me, I watch in awe at the level of execution that they have reached in their respective disciplines.

"I respect hard work. I admire talent." -me

Sunday, November 11, 2007

RDT (Random Daily Thought)

Why does it seem to me that "ditzy" only applies to cute girls?
People will say things like "Jessica Simpson is ditzy" or "that ditzy blonde" (implies a cute blonde?) while I never hear anyone say "ditzy fat chick". It's usually "that dumb fat chick".

Ditzy actually has a dictionary meaning of being flighty or absentminded, not just plain stupid. Yet it seems to me people only use it when they want to talk about how dumb a girl is (I certainly never hear it used to describe a guy) without being "insulting" or "offensive".

Is there something I'm missing? Are there other adjectives that we now use in the same way?

I'm back

Haven't posted in a while because I've been really busy.
For some reason I decided to apply for the CFA level 1 and after having slacked off for a couple months, I have less than 3 weeks to try to pass this thing. Wish me luck.
In addition to studying for this, I also began trading again, this time with my own capital contribution. The market is still very volatile and I don't think I'd seen Nasdaq down 100 intraday before. I'd barely gotten back into it a few days when I started feeling the rush again. The last 3 days (not including Friday) I traded all day from 940am to 7pm, which I haven't done in a long time. Usually I don't leave my seat at all when I'm this addicted to trading, so I don't eat and don't go to the gym. I pretty much just sit there.
Now that I'm back trading again, I might write some posts regarding trading or the market.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Week of Indulgence

This has been a hard week for me and so I've kinda fallen off the diet and allowed myself to indulge a little to keep my spirits up. Here are a few of my favorite indulgences.

Donovan's Pub in Woodside

Traditional Irish pub in the largely Irish neighborhood of Woodside where they know how to pour Guiness and serve up the most consistently great burger I've had in NYC. Located three blocks from the Woodside stop on the 7 train, it also happens to be across the street from my doctor's, so I always indulge in a burger right after I get any bloodwork done. A meaty, juicy half-pound burger with sauteed onions (ask for fried onions on your burger) done perfectly medium rare with nice crisp fries and a pint of Guiness cost $15 including tax and tip. In the bar area, they offer Monday Night Football specials of half-priced burgers, 20 cent buffalo wings, and $3-4 bud and stella draughts.

Becco (http://www.becconyc.com/)

What I consider to be the best bargain in Manhattan in terms of food and value. Their specialty is a $21 pasta trio where they serve to you at your table unlimited refills of 3 pastas that change daily. It also comes with your choice of a caesar salad or an antipasto which has a great assortment of vegetables and fish. Usually of the 3 pastas, one of them will be in a traditional tomato and basil sauce and another will be made using wheat pasta. When I went last week, they had mushroom ravioli in a truffle butter and sage sauce, penne in a tomato and basil sauce, and wheat fettucine bolognese, where you can find actual shredded pieces of veal, not just random ground veal. Besides the pasta trio, other great values on the menu include the dessert sampler for $6 per person and their back page wine list where every bottle of wine (there's about 40+ on there) is $25 each.
The atmosphere is nice and quiet upstairs, while the downstairs eating and bar areas tend to be hustling and bustling most of the time. For larger parties you'll likely need a reservation, but it's easier after 8pm when the pre-theater crowd is off to their shows.

Houston's (http://www.hillstone.com/)

This one doesn't come off as much for good value when you have a $16 sandwich for lunch. However, the sandwich is huge and pretty much perfect. Houston's, which is a national chain, provides a really nice classy business lunch atmosphere with perfect lighting, comfortable booths and sofas, and great food. On the menu there's a specific note about no cell phones in the dining room.
If I'm there alone, I will either get the fish sandwich (perfectly seasoned fillet with fresh lettuce, onion, tomato, and pickles on a very robust sesame seed bun) or the prime rib french dip sandwich (prime rib with jus on the side). The sandwiches come with nice, really thin shoestring fries and I think their ketchup is homemade. When I'm with company I always make sure to get the spinach dip as well.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Mediocrity by association (American Football)

I get it that the AFC is much stronger than the NFC. And by this I understand it to mean that the best teams in the AFC are stronger than the best teams in the NFC. But why is it that people tend to feel that mediocre teams in the AFC won't be mediocre in the NFC? Denver was favored by a field goal at home against Green Bay on Monday night, which essentially means that the two teams were viewed as being equal on a neutral site. Is a mediocre AFC team really equivalent to a good NFC team? I don't think so and the results certainly seemed like they played pretty even in Denver (which should mean Green Bay's better, since Denver most definitely has a home field advantage).

Another situation where people assume mediocrity by association is when a team just barely beats or even loses to a clearly inferior team. For that one game, the head coach may have gone with a conservative game plan to guarantee his victory, and end up winning by only a field goal instead of covering the spread. This, however, should not be an indicator of how good the team is. I remember at the beginning of last season when Denver lost their first game at St. Louis and then barely squeaked past a poor Kansas City team in OT at home. People wrote off Denver but they ended up beating both the Patriots and the Ravens in the next few weeks. The reason for the loss in St. Louis was 5 turnovers while in the Kansas City game, Shanahan just went very conservative, thinking his team was the better team and trying not to do anything stupid.

Along this line of reasoning, one must be able to look past certain games where a favored team ended up losing because of turnovers or special teams touchdowns. We can never predict when or how many turnovers will occur in a game, and sometimes it's just bad breaks. Even though a good special teams unit will typically net good starting field position and provide a predictable advantage, we're never sure when someone might break a return for a touchdown. An example of where we can take advantage of this kind of association of mediocrity was in the Pittsburgh at Cincinnati line this past weekend. Pittsburgh was favored by 3.5 the same as the line for their game in Denver from a week before. But with a bad game plan and some costly turnovers, Pittsburgh lost that game in Denver while the Bengals finally managed to score some points against a bad Jets defense. Did people really feel the Bengals were equivalent to the Broncos or did the line also reflect people's incorrect downgrade of Pittsburgh because of that loss?

The point here is that the next time you say "I don't like team X because they barely beat that awful team Y last week", you might want to rethink it. And just because a team beats 3 bad teams and loses to 3 super teams doesn't mean it's better than any other 3-3 team because of how super the teams were that they faced.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dominance and craziness

After starting the weekend so miserably, came back with 5 straight picks coming in to break even for the week. It was a hard day not to make money in the NFL, with most of the favorites coming in and almost all the teases coming in as well. I guess the only way you could mess it up is if you took the Giants against the spread. The Giants are too undisciplined to take with a big spread. This is a team where the head coach gave up being a strict disciplinarian so that the team could win. Crazy.



Also crazy was the line for the New Mexico State at Hawaii college football game late Saturday night. The over/under was 80.

80!!! Never seen that before. Even the 70's tend to be rare.



In addition to being a weekend of craziness, it's also been a weekend of dominance. With the Pats completely manhandling the first really physical defense they've played against this season and the Colts recovering from their slow start, next week's matchup of Goliath vs. Goliath should live up to its billing.



And let's not forget the dominance the Red Sox showed by sweeping the Rockies. The Rockies just couldn't string together hits while the Red Sox scored a lot of 2-out runs. It's a good time to be a sports fan in Boston right now.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Losing the battle, winning the war

Why does this concept seem to be so hard to grasp in the world of sports?

I think it has to do with a combination of ego and the fact that most experts in sports are too engrossed in the sport itself and have no idea about general game theory and strategies. It seems to me this shortsightedness is most prevalent in baseball (taking one game at a time, not really thinking about the series as a whole). It is the only major US sport decided by a series of contests where major matchup differences come up in every game (the starting pitcher changes every game).

Why must aces go against aces? For example, take this year's world series. Jeff Francis is clearly the ace of the Rockies's staff, but the top three pitchers (Francis, Jimenez, and Fogg) for Colorado are not that far apart. On the other hand, Josh Beckett is by far the man on that Red Sox staff. So why not semi-concede game one at Fenway by pitching Fogg against Beckett, pitch Jimenez against Schilling (the best chance to steal an early game at Fenway), then make sure your ace is there in Game 3 in front of the home crowd to change the momentum of the series? This way, you'll still have your ace pitching again in game 6 at Fenway where you'll need him, but not going up against the unhittable Beckett.

The reason noone does this is because it is against conventional beliefs to "concede" a game and there are also ego issues at stake. Another example where baseball managers do not concede a game that drives me nuts is when they use perfectly good relievers in games where they're down 8+ runs. Sure you don't want to give up the chance of coming back by putting in someone who's more likely to give up more runs, but why waste a possible shut-down reliever to salvage an 8 run deficit? To me, when you have Tim Wakefield, you throw him into those games because he can give you many innings, come back on short rest and do it again, and you don't have to waste your other relievers where you need them to come in and shut down one or two batters later in the series.

The lack of proper game strategy and game management also shows up a lot in american football. I remember a few years back when Belicheck's NE Patriots took an intentional safety deep in their own territory down by 1 with little time left. Of course that was clearly the only thing to do, and even though the commentators kept saying how ingenious that move was on Belicheck's part, it wasn't that hard to come up with. But you know what? My guess is more than half the head coaches in the NFL wouldn't know to make that call. Look at Herm Edwards' clock management. Look at Wade Philips a few weeks ago going for a field goal with 8 minutes left down by 14 and his defense not coming close to stopping the Patriots.

I'm not saying all these head coaches/managers are dumb, but clearly their expertise is very specific to the sport and not with game theory. So why can't teams hire a game theorist/strategist consultant to help? One of my favorite writers (Bill Simmons aka The Sports Guy on ESPN) constantly talks about how teams need to hire a VP of common sense because most of the higher-up people in sports don't have common sense. And after all, game theory, like most economic subjects, is just about logic and common sense.

Now, I'm glad that the only real team I root for any more is the Patriots, so I don't have to worry about this happening with Belicheck at the helm. But considering how many of these horrible game managers I have monetary interests with, it's enough to drive a guy to rant on his blog.

Betting slump

Lost my first 6 picks of the week, giving back everything that I had won the previous two weeks, before finally hitting one. Tough stretch and hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Although I only watched two of the Breeders' Cup races live, here are a few of my comments:

1. About an hour before post time, I decided not to place a wager on Dylan Thomas. With the odds down to 4-5, the soggy ground which he doesn't like, and all the other normal negatives for an Arc winner, I decided it was just not a value bet. Good thing.

2. English Channel got the best seat in the race, seemed to like the give in the ground, and had a good record on that track. Is he really that many lengths better than those horses? Of course not.

3. Another horse with a great trip was Curlin in the BC Classic. If you had told me beforehand that they would go at that clip early AND Diamond Stripes would press onto the lead as well and box Lawyer Ron, I would have been all over Curlin. I seriously predicted Curlin to win as soon as the first quarter mile was run. Which brings me to this question. Why can't we have real time interactive betting in the middle of a horserace (or any race for that matter)? That would be so awesome to be able to make bets as you see how the horses are racing.

4. Poor George Washington. A four time G1 winner who had originally retired to stud, came back to racing because of fertility issues. Then he gets thrown into a mildly unsuitable BC Classic race because his trainer clearly favored two other horses in the other two perhaps more suitable races (Excellent Art in the Mile and Dylan Thomas in the Turf). To top it all off, he gets hurt and has to be euthanized. What would be the human equivalent for everything he went through?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Breeders' Cup

And now time for one of my favorite sports, horse racing.

I'm usually not too excited about the Breeders' Cup because I'm more a fan of international horse racing and it seems to me that only in the Americas do they primarily race on dirt. That being said, the Classic looks to be an intriguing race this year with a bunch of smart 3 year olds from this year's Triple Crown season all contending. With regards to looking to make a bet however, I usually look to the Mile or the Turf.

The reason is simple. The turf horses in the US suck. It's not even close. I thought it was fascinating when I watched the US odds for US horses in the turf races on the Dubai World Cup card earlier in the year. Obviously most US punters don't know any better, but the result was pretty clear when all their favorite horses ended up at the rear of their respective fields. So while Ouija Board last year was a clear bet as the best horse in the filly and mare turf field by far, she ended up with good value on the US tote.

Whether that will be the case this year with Dylan Thomas in the BC Turf I'm not sure. I've heard starting quotes ranging from 7-5 to 4-5 at different books, and I can only imagine that the odds will get worse as we approach post time. Not only did Dylan Thomas win the L'Arc de Triomphe, but he has been a very consistent horse, going either first or second in his last 5 races. This is a true world class group 1 turf horse, while the US contenders (Red Rocks, Better Talk Now, English Channel, etc.) all seem to be within 2 lengths of each other and I'm not even sure any one of them could win a second tier group 1 race like the Baden Baden, let alone come close to an Arc winner.

The BC mile is more interesting because while the European horses still tend to be better than the US horses, they're not that much better. The best turf sprinter-milers in the world are in Australasia and I'm pretty sure the third or fourth best miler from either Hong Kong or Japan would be able to win this race. Japanese horses are probably some of the best in the world, but the prizemoney in Japan is so lucrative they rarely venture out to conquer the world. When they do, the results have tended to be good, but probably not as dominant as they should be. The reason is simple. Japanese jockeys absolutely suck. Not even close. Yutaka Take, who's been heralded as Japan's best jockey, is no better than perhaps the second or third best Hong Kong jockey (I think Eddie WM Lai is comparable). Japanese jockeys have no judge of pace, and just don't ride hard to the line down the stretch. For example, you can take a look at that abysmal ride he gave Deep Impact in last year's Arc, or any other clips of Japan's G1 races (I think there are links to video clips at www.jair.jrao.ne.jp which is a great source of up-to-date information about Japanese horseracing). My favorite Japanese jockey is actually Masayoshi Ebina, who rode El Condor Pasa some years back.

That being said, I'd still go with the two European horses, Excellent Art and Jeremy, and of the US bunch I like Trippi's Storm as a longshot pick. The horse has come a long way since losing a $32k maiden claimer race in January, but I love good horses who can race at middle distances coming back to a mile. In horse racing, if horses have similar accomplishments at different distances, the horses who are successful at the middle to classic distances tend to be better horses.

One last note since I rarely talk about horse racing. Back in April in the US telecast of the Dubai World Cup, there was one female reporter (I guess the horse racing version of the sideline reporter) who went up to Sheik Mohammed (ruler of Dubai) and asked him if he had any side bet with his brother on the outcome of the Dubai World Cup (they each owned the favorite and second favorite of the race). When the Sheik said no the reporter actually asked again, saying, "not even just a little?" You moron, muslims don't (or at least shouldn't) gamble. I know sideline reporters pretty much know nothing, but this was ridiculous.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Staying on a Diet

It's been a little over 3 and a half weeks since I started my most recent diet, and while there's less enthusiasm (and more drinking and eating out) now than at the start, I've managed to stay the course fairly well. So here are my opinions on what makes a diet sustainable.

Day-to-day ease

One of the reasons systems like nutrisystem are so popular is that all the food is prepackaged for convenience. Whether you cook for your diet or get food from restaurants/eateries like I do, it is much easier if you cook/buy a batch and refrigerate for a couple days' use. Sure it might not be as fresh as can be and for those days there's less variety, but it's much easier to reach that long term goal if the day-to-day preparation is made as effortless as possible.

Week-to-week ease

When I buy my food for a diet routine, it usually lasts 4 days. This way, if I know I have plans to go out drinking/eating on the weekends, I can fit a full diet routine in on the weekdays. Similarly, if I have to go out to dinner on a Tuesday night, but feel like having wings and beer for watching football on Sunday, I can squeeze in a diet routine Wed-Sat. What I mean by this is that even though I recommend preparing food in batches for day-to-day ease, if your food is intended to last too long of a time it'll be harder to fit your diet with your other scheduled events.
Every day that you choose to diet (under whatever guidelines it may be), you will be consuming less calories (or else you need to change that diet). So being able to squeeze in a diet routine/regimen for some number of days in between going out will help you stay on track.

Days off

I am not a fan of lifetime diets. By those I mean Atkins, South Beach, or whatever, where you're expected to follow those dietary guidelines every meal of every day of your life. I also don't like the idea of eating whatever you want, and then crash dieting every time your weight goes too high. I believe the right mix is important. You should not feel compelled to diet, but should try to squeeze the diet in every now and then as mentioned above. So for every 4-5 days of dieting, you take a day or two off. Nothing need be rigid, but the idea is to squeeze in those diet routines here and there.
Days off mean eating normally, not going crazy. If you eat twice as much as normal on your day off, then there's really no point. On your day off, eat normally and eat what you've been depriving yourself of. But don't eat too much of it. In another few days you can eat it again.

Eat what you like, not what you crave

I am not a fan of eating small portions of your favorite foods. To me that's masochism. You're tempting your palate and then cutting yourself off cold turkey. Instead, I recommend that when you do diet, you eat things that you like, but that you can stop eating when you're full. Too much of the food we overeat nowadays comes from us not being able to stop because of cravings.
Sure, you might start off eating more of that food to compensate, but soon your appetite will slow down because you're not craving that food. When your appetite and cravings slow down you can later reintroduce those special foods after your body has learned moderation from other foods.

Don't classify foods by mealtimes

What I mean by this is don't restrict yourself to certain foods because of the time of day. It's okay to eat a turkey sandwich at 8 in the morning and it's okay to have an omelette (hopefully egg white) at night. That way you can eat healthier at different times of the day with more variety.

Try different ethnic cuisines

Every cuisine has healthy options and different ethnic cuisines use different spices and flavors so you can continually challenge your palate. This allows variety and promotes enthusiasm while staying the course by choosing the healthier options. Right now the main staple of my diet is Turkish, but I throw in Japanese, Korean, Italian, Thai, and meals from other backgrounds to help round out the diet.

Get as much information as you can

There are so many diet books out there now it's unwise to just pick one and follow as gospel. I believe in doing research and reading from sites that are willing to post controversial or contradictory information. Sites that I've mentioned before include http://calorielab.com/news/ and http://www.diet-blog.com/ . The following are just a sample of things I've taken from these and other sources and try to implement in my own diet routine.

1. More frequent smaller meals.
2. Eat "good" or "better" carbs as much as possible.
3. Eat more carbs early in the day and more protein at night OR eat very balanced meals with a bit of lean protein with each meal. I try to do both in the two stages of my diet.
4. Watch portions when eating out or taking home food from restaurants. They're usually double the size of a suitable portion.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Strengths and Weaknesses (American Football)

This is mostly a comment about American football, but there's a pretty interesting comment about strengths and weaknesses that I'll throw in at the end except that I forgot where I heard it from.

After watching two terrible performances by two supposedly good teams in Pittsburgh and Jacksonville, I think NFL coaches are overthinking too much. For both Pittsburgh and Jacksonville, they came in with acclaimed running games against suspect run defenses, and decided to throw the ball early. Yes, you can say that Denver and Indy were both expecting power running and stacked 8 in the box. But as we could see throughout the game, that didn't stop either offense when they decided to run. Too bad they both found themselves in holes because they started off by passing the ball. Who cares if they're expecting what's coming? Do what you do best and you'll get the best result you can. That's why Belicheck is so good, he doesn't care if he throws the ball 20 plays in a row and the opposing team knows it. It's what works and he'll keep doing it till you can stop him.

Which brings us to this insight that I heard once that I think applies to life as well as football. "On offense, you're as strong as your strongest link. On defense, you're no stronger than your weakest link" - I forgot

When you're attacking, you're going to keep going to your strengths. If you have a great running game and a weak passing game, you should still stick with your running game even if there's no element of surprise. When you're on defense, the opponent will keep attacking your weakest point. Whichever side of your defense is more inexperienced, that's probably where the opponent will direct their attack.

I think this quote is fascinating because people often use the phrase "a chain is no stronger than its weakest link" (or some variation) but don't realize the importance of distinguishing between the two scenarios.

Friday, October 19, 2007

More TV

My previous list only showed the stuff I watch on regular TV and online. I forgot about my favorite shows on HBO and SHOtime. Since I catch them whenever I want through HBO/SHO on demand, I don't follow them as closely.

Right now I watch Weeds (just the most outrageous and unbelievable plot twists), Californication (I was gonna comment on how they stopped the gratuitous nudity after the first 5 episodes until I saw this past week's episode with the weird menage a trois with the squirter), and Dexter (it's still intriguing but this whole Dexter with emotions thing is not as cool as the way he was at the beginning of last season) on SHOtime and only Curb Your Enthusiasm (the only show that makes me cringe watching every episode, and yet I can't stop watching it) on HBO.

Of course the flagship shows on HBO were always Sex in the City and the Sopranos both of which I loved, and there's also a following for Entourage which I could never really get into. But I still think the best show they've ever put out was The Wire and I can't wait for the final season to come up. For those who've never seen it, it is just an amazing drama (with some comic relief on occasion) in which all the characters feel so real and developed. Right now on HBO on demand I think you can access the whole first season so please try to catch it and see if you're hooked like me.

RDT (Random daily thought)

I always thought there was some truth to the following two grossly exaggerated generalizations.

Every restaurant you go to in the US your food is cooked by Mexicans, and every asian restaurant whether it's Chinese, Japanese, Thai, etc. is owned and operated by a chinese person.

But here in Sunnyside Queens I've found the ultimate version of these sayings. Within a 5 block walking distance from where I'm living now, there are 3 taco takeout places, that either advertise as tex-mex or fresh tacos, burritos etc. All three are run by asians. Everyone at the counter is asian. One of them is even named China One Taco. WTF???? China One Taco???? Because China is famous for its tacos of course.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Maybe I should write a diet book too

It seems there are way too many diet books out there right now and they all pretty much spew the same information. More smaller meals, good carbs, lean proteins, and go to the gym. Since my most recent diet has been working, maybe I should try to document it.

In 2 and a half weeks, I've lost most of the weight that I gained after going back to Hong Kong. My program has two phases that last about a week each, with about 1-2 days a week where I don't have to diet. Since it's too much of a hassle to cook, I buy all my food from restaurants or supermarkets.

I agree with the more frequent smaller meals theory about dieting, so I try my best to have 2 lunches, 1 snack, and 1 dinner a day. By separating normal meals into 2, it helps me to eat less per meal. One rule of thumb that I've been using is that if the meat entree from the restaurant (or pizzeria or whatever) costs more than $7.50 from a normal neighborhood place, then the contents should be split into two dinner meals. This is because the portions everywhere in the US are so big, we really don't need to finish the entire thing. The problem is that when I eat out, I always feel compelled to clean the plate, so I make sure to take home all my diet food. Also, when I eat out at a nice sit down restaurant, not only are the entrees themselves too much as it is, I often find myself tempted to make it a full 3 course meal (might as well since I'm already out). So one of the things I've had to give up for this diet has been eating out, but at least I haven't been forced to completely cook all my meals yet.

The first phase/week separates carbs and proteins. I tend to eat most of my carbs and fiber in the daytime and only protein at night. Right now I eat a salad (tomatoes, cucumber, a little onion, baby spinach or lettuce) with either some rice or bread (Turkish pide) for my two lunches. Some days I'll have a fresh fruit/vegetable juice in place of one lunch. This is followed by a snack that introduces some nonmeat protein. Right now I have some hummus with the bread, but I think a nice miso soup with tofu and seaweed will work well and be nutritious too. For dinner, I eat just meat. On some nights I'll get a skewer of chicken chunks from the Turkish place while on others I'll buy some sashimi from the supermarket (cheaper that way).

After this first phase/week, the second week consists of very balanced meals. It'll basically consist of two lunches and two dinners where I just split a normal lunch/dinner portion into two. I try to get some vegetable, protein, and grains into every meal. Right now the meals I've had include a Korean soft tofu soup with vegetables and rice, a lamachun (Turkish flatbread with ground lamb, kind of like a pizza) with some veggies, pasta in garlic and olive oil with chicken or anchovies and broccoli. Other options I plan to eat include club sandwiches (no bacon), egg white omelettes with spinach and mushrooms and toast, and saag paneer (Indian cheese in a spinach curry) with rice. Again, the portions tend to be half of what the restaurant ends up giving me.

During these diet days, I get my sugar from taking occasional sips of vitamin water. At least this way I get some vitamins when getting my sugar fix. I tend to finish a large bottle in about 3 days. On my rest days, I pretty much will eat whatever I like, but try my best to keep the food somewhat healthy and again split the meals into more frequent smaller meals.

So far the weight has come off, and I do not feel hungry or have cravings. The price of the food adds up quickly, but it's mostly manageable. I'll try to stay on this for another month and by then I'll probably have a much better idea how successful this would be. I feel the key to any diet lies in how long one can happily stay on it.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

My life, my TV

Can't believe that I haven't written anything for two weeks. It's not like I really have anything to do. I'm still without a job, so my day basically consists of working on my diet, going to the gym 2-3 times a week, and playing online poker. I guess that's kind of like a job too since I end up putting in 6-8 hours a day. Oh, then there's the new fall season of TV.

Here's what I watch on TV during the week...
Monday Night Football (ESPN)
House (FOX) and Boston Legal (ABC) Fabulous Tuesday 9-11pm block
Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares (FOX) Just as good as the British version, but more graphic
Dirty Sexy Money (ABC) It's not great, but it's amusing
30 Rock (NBC) Bought the first season for my video ipod, absolutely fell in love with the show
Big Shots (ABC) Also in the not great but amusing category


There's no good TV on Fridays, though I used to watch both Monk and Psych (USA) when they had new episodes. Both are great.

I also watch these shows but usually catch them online because it's easier that way:

Chuck (NBC)
Rules of Engagement (CBS)
Carpoolers (ABC)
Back to You (FOX)
Till Death (FOX)
Gossip Girl (CW) Who knew? Likeable characters, and only one of the main girls is under 18.
I wish CW had Reaper available to watch online too.

Most of the weekend shows I watch are available online also, including the Simpsons (FOX), Family Guy (FOX), and Desperate Housewives (ABC). I tried to start on the first season of Brothers and Sisters (ABC) and I think I'd like it, but I don't think I can devote 20+ hours to catch up so I'm going to give up on it.

So yea, right now TV takes up a good chunk of my time along with my diet and poker. Tomorrow I'll write a post about my diet and my progress.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

New diet?

One of the things I was planning to do with the extended time off was to start going back to the gym and maybe do some cooking and dieting. Unfortunately, one of the problems with where I'm living now makes me not want to cook there at all. So, I decided on a new idea for a diet. This will probably be costly, since I'll be buying food from restaurants as I want to avoid cooking, but that also means that the food will probably taste better too.

There are a couple nice Turkish places nearby, so I'm thinking of making it basically like a Mediterranean diet where I eat a lot of salad, bread, rice, and kebabs. The only thing that I worry about is that I'll end up eating a lot of the Turkish bread (pide), and I keep reading about how eating so much bread isn't really good for weight loss. I don't know. I guess I'll try following it for a week or two and see how that goes. Wish me luck!

Tell me what to post

Sorry guys, I actually went 7-2 in these last three days and the only thing I recommended was that loss on Thursday. There's been a lot on my mind lately. I still wanna blog about some of my Hong Kong experiences (food, culture, etc.) but can't seem to get motivated to sit down and type it all out. Noone ever leaves me comments. Maybe if the scant 2-3 people reading this thing got more readers to leave me comments telling me what they want me to post, I'd post more :-p.

Todays' college football was tough with so many underdogs prevailing. I went 0-4 including Ohio State -23.5 with the final margin being 23 because they had a point after blocked. Ouch. I really don't think I'll post anything for the baseball playoffs, and my record for college football has been abysmal so far. At least my overall record for baseball since I started posting was pretty good:

Running total: +14.35 units
Record: 25-11

I thought that even if I couldn't find a new job immediately I'd be relaxed, enjoy some time off, and spend some time pursuing my own interests. But with the current living situation being so uncomfortable it makes me even more restless when I watch my excoworkers trading. What should I do? Since most of my readers (if any) are friends close to me and understand the situation, I'd be happy to hear some real specific comments about what I should do.

Well, time to sleep. Big football day tomorrow and an even bigger day Monday with the big Pats Monday Night Football game and the National Day race meeting in Hong Kong. Happy National Day to any readers in Hong Kong!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

VBOTD (Value bet of the day)

ATL@PHI
Under 9.5

Smoltz has pitched 10 consecutive quality starts going into this one, while Kendrick has had a very good year and pitches very well at home. Usually when teams are on winning streaks, it means they're hitting well. But in this case, neither team has been blowing out its opponents during their respective winning streaks. I'd take this game at 8.5, let alone reduced juice 9.5.

Running total: +1545
Record: 25-10

Baseball season is winding to a close and I'm not sure how much value there is in betting postseason unders, what with everybody's aces on the mound. So I've decided that I will post some NFL value bets, now that we're going to be a quarter of the way through the season and have a better idea how things stand. I loathe it when sports analysts tell me things like "this is the x-ranked defense in the league this season, they've allowed y-yards rushing and z-yards passing per game" only two weeks into the season. Stats per game from two weeks mean nothing. After this week, with a quarter of the season through, we'll be able to actually tell how good and bad the teams are.

Monday, September 24, 2007

RDT (Random Daily Thought)

The Geometric Progression of the Last Bite

Is it just me or do people in general have this tendency? Whenever there is only one portion of communal food left (the last slice of pizza, the last cup of soda from a 2 liter bottle, the last glass of wine, etc.), people try their best to avoid taking the last piece and leaving nothing left. So people start cutting that last piece in half, or pouring only half of what remains, and continue to do this until the portion becomes so small that someone must finish it. Why do we do this? How common is this practice?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

VBOTD

CHW@KC
Under 8.5

Kansas City has managed more than 4 runs only once in their last 10 games. Garland is not going to help matters as he's given up only 1 run in each of his last three outings. Yet Garland is 1-2 in those three games because the White Sox haven't been able to get him any run support. Greinke hasn't been dominant since he returned to a starting role, but he's been effective and the Royal's bullpen isn't that bad. I just don't see where the runs are coming from in this one.

Running total: +1445
Record: 24-10

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

VBOTD (Value bet of the day)

Yes I'm back but there's so much frustration with everything that's going on in my life that I can't sit back and type out a blog entry. What with the lack of a job, issues with my new living situation, and not being able to settle into a routine, it's been really stressful of late. I really don't want to go in-depth and blog about those things right now so might as well try to make us all some money.

LAD@COL
Under 9.5

Both Penny and Fogg have been pitching well and the only reason the line is this high is because it's being played at Coors Field. But as we can see from yesterday afternoon's game, two good pitchers will still be able to dominate, even in the high altitude.

Running total: +1555 Record: 24-9

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Posts will be returning soon!!!

The internet should be hooked up either tomorrow (Wednesday) or Thursday at the latest and I'll be back blogging again. Not that I have anything better to do... got rejected at an interview today. The usual reason that they give to me: I didn't seem enthusiastic enough about what they do exactly and they think I'd probably be bored with it very quickly. Sigh....

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Delay in posts

Sorry the internet is not yet set up in the new place I moved into. I will continue to post as soon as the internet is set up. I will post some more thoughts about my trip to Hong Kong, a little more restaurant talk, and maybe a couple more baseball picks if the season hasn't ended by the time my internet's back up. I will also try to put up a couple links to my friends' blogs. If anyone is interested in me posting football picks, please let me know, otherwise I may not do it.
Cheers all and thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

VBOTD (Value bet of the day)

TB@BAL
TB +100

Baltimore's bullpen has been decimated the last two games against the Devil Rays, and there's a clear lack of fresh arms there. Kazmir has pitched solidly all year while Guthrie's shown some signs of fatigue of late compared to his pitching earlier in the season. I would have thought that Tampa would be favored in this one.

Running total: +1455
Record: 23-9

I've been real busy as I have only one week left in Hong Kong. Just wanted to sneak this one in, so it'll probably lose. That's just how the gambling gods are.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lunching in Central District

Hong Kong is a place where people try to follow the newest trend, and when a place becomes popular, "everyone" must go there. So with this in mind, I made the short trek over to Gough St a couple of streets up (literally, you can walk up stairs) from Queens Road Central to hit the famous Kau Kee Restaurant (九 記 牛 腩 ) for its famous brisket and the dai pai dong opposite it. A dai pai dong (you can also find a description on wikipedia) is a large outdoor food stall that has tables and chairs set up. They either have a minimal kitchen or just cook using LPG (liquified petroleum gas). Most of these places serve simple food similar to Hong Kong style cafes (see wikipedia under "cha chaan teng") but generally in a less relaxing and tidy atmosphere. This one that I went to (勝香園) is famous for its tomato soup base.

So the trip began at Kau Kee, where the place opens at 12:30 for the lunch crowd but at 12:25 there's already a line about 20-30 people long. The place has two floors though and ample seating to handle the rush. The menu is limited to clear soup brisket (清 湯 腩 ) over your choice of noodles or a curry soup brisket and tendon combo over noodles, along with the usual drinks on offer in Hong Kong and one choice of vegetable. The house specialties are the two areas of the brisket that are most favored by Hong Kong eaters, one being more tender and flavorful (坑 腩 ) and the other the part with a little more bite and chewiness to the texture (爽 腩 ). Unfortunately, when I got there they had neither available so I settled for the regular noodle bowls. We ordered one bowl each of the clear soup and the curry with e-fu noodles (flat chinese egg noodles). Both broths were flavorful and the curry had just the right amount of kick. The noodles were cooked well and the brisket was tender. The portions seemed small however (or perhaps it was just the bowls) but the prices were reasonable at HK$25 = US$3.25 each. What really is amazing about the place is the efficiency of the service. I sat upstairs where there were about 7 tables with about 6 people on each, and the two waiters were able to memorize all of our orders. Nobody wrote down anything. When the tables were filled they gave the orders to the manager/server who called them in through a walkie-talkie and everything was brought back upstairs in waves. The waiters were friendly and understood that even though this was a popular lunch place for those nearby, they still had plenty of visitors and tourists who had questions.

The good thing about the smaller bowls was that we could immediately go across the street to the dai pai dong to sample the food there. There were a lot of tables and after waiting for a few minutes our seats opened up. Pretty much standard across dai pai dongs is the need to share your table with strangers. Essentially wherever you can grab a chair and fit onto the table you can sit and eat there. It really was out in the open on the street and they set up a few poles attached with some plastic sheets to shield the diners from the sun. I wouldn't know what to do if I was mid-meal and heavy rain came. The menu here consists of Hong Kong style variations of toast, and the signature tomato soup base with your choice of pasta (elbow macaroni or instant ramen) with your choice of toppings (beef, luncheon meat (think spam), ham, eggs fried or scrambled, etc.). So in addition to drinking Hong Kong style milk tea (奶 茶), we ordered a combo toast and one bowl of macaroni with luncheon meat, beef, and a fried egg. The combo toast seemed more like a brioche style bread and had that yellow color with some raisins and came with a slather of peanut butter, jam, and condensed milk on top. The macaroni came in a large bowl all red with the tomato soup with some fresh tomato on top. The flavor was actually quite wonderful. It was more soupy than gazpacho but without that overly condensed texture either. It was more of a Chinese style soup than a western style soup. The tomato on top gave it a sourness that was just enough to make you feel the freshness without asking for salt. Because we had already eaten across the street, we split one bowl which was plenty but definitely left not one drop of the soup.

With regards to a final verdict, I'd have to say that if I was working in the area I'd definitely frequent either place for lunch often. As far as being a visitor/tourist and making the trek and waiting in line, I'd also suggest that people try it at least once. However, I'm more likely to return for the tomato soup than the brisket, but that could be because I didn't get to have the specialty brisket. While they wouldn't allow it during the busy lunch hour, after 3pm the dai pai dong allows you to bring takeout from the nearby places (including the brisket place) so you can try both in one sitting. Also, this being a prime Central location, there are many OLs eating there (OL stands for office lady, an originally Japanese term meant to describe female office workers who tend to work in a secretarial or clerical capacity), and so for a guy like my former coworker, a certain Mr. Noise--, this might be prime hunting ground.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

VBOTD

CLE@KAN
Under 8.5

Carmona's been amazing and even though the Cleveland offense broke out again yesterday, Gil Meche is a very formidable pitcher. This just lines up like a lot of the unders that I've been taking. I don't even need to explain it much.

Running total: +1355
Record: 22-9

Saturday, August 25, 2007

VBOTD

PIT@HOU
PIT +100

The Pirates have been hitting the ball well of late and have won 7 of their last 9. The Astros on the other hand, have been going in the opposite direction and have lost 7 of their last 10. Matt Morris finally pitched a good game last time out, showing signs of his early season form and the reason why Pittsburgh traded for him at the deadline. Houston counters with a rookie brought up for his major league debut. Patton's numbers in the minors don't look particularly impressive and it seems like he's had trouble adjusting every time he takes a step up the ladder. I just don't understand why Pittsburgh is an underdog here.

Running total: +1255
Record: 21-9

Dinner at Bo Innovation

I stumbled upon this place from my usual online foodie forum searches. The chef began as one of those "private home kitchen" chefs where they're not licensed and you go up to a residential apartment (called flat here) to have your meal. I guess he's since found the funding to open a real restaurant and in a nice location too. The place does Chinese fusion and it seems more of a focus on chinese dishes with western ingredients and methods than the other way around, which is the more common and easier approach. On the business card it reads X-treme cuisine chinese.

Atmosphere: Decent atmosphere and setting. Most of the color scheme is dark and the place is mostly dimly lit, with the majority of the lighting to the rear of the restaurant near the wall. It's not a very large room as there is one large round table that can seat about 10 and about 4-5 smaller tables that can seat 4-6.

Service: Servers were attentive enough and replaced silverware after every course. The male server seemed to only speak English as he was describing the dishes but his English was not that good to begin with. There was a manager who kept going from table to table excitedly describing the dishes and how the chef is trying to be innovative in his cuisine.

Food: Ended up choosing the Chef's menu which ended up being 11 courses including the dessert course and the first course which almost could have been an amuse but I didn't think served that purpose.

Oyster tofu with ikura: A very good starter that showcased the chef's talents quite well. A small cube of tofu with a sea taste of the oyster went really well with the salty ikura. The smooth texture of the tofu also was a good contrast to the small bursting sacs of salmon roe.

Scallop with braised vermicelli in porcini essence: The vermicelli was delicious and the porcini flavor really came out. The piece of scallop was very ordinary and I think this dish suffered from an identity crisis. If the scallop was the center of attention then there needed to be a bigger and better piece of it. If the vermicelli was the center of attention then perhaps dicing the scallop and mixing it in would give the overall dish a better texture feel.

Duet of sashimi: Very disappointing. The fish was sliced relatively thin and lacked real sashimi flavor. One piece was a salmon done in the preservation style of Chinese sausage (臘腸) and it really had that kind of taste to it but I wasn't a fan of it. The other piece was yellowtail with a mild sesame sauce but overall it seemed bland to me.





Macau crab souffle: Basically a dish of crab meat, egg whites, and a flavorful Chinese vinegar. Similar to a Chinese dish I'm quite familiar with, the only twist seems to be the souffle presentation. However, it didn't have that souffle texture that I'm used to so I'd call it a failure in that sense.

Sweet organic garlic ravioli: This was a dish that was a success on many levels, but for me just missed one simple piece. It consisted of a wonton with a sweet garlic puree filling on a small bed of sweetened whelk (marine snail) and topped with a salty duck egg foam and curry oil. The salty and sweet flavors mixed terrifically and the texture contrasts were divine from the chewy whelk to the foam and oil. However, I think the wonton was not good for this dish and if he had used an actual ravioli with some bite in it the texture contrast would have been even better. But flavor-wise it had great depth.



Slow cooked cod: The color of this thing was quite interesting with the beetroot miso sauce. The fish was cooked perfectly and the sauce had just the right amount of sweetness (I had too much sauce on mine and had to spoon some off). I asked if it was done sous-vide but the enthusiastic manager guy didn't really seem to know but i think we determined that it wasn't.





Pan-fried foie gras: A pretty decent sized piece of foie gras that came with a lotus seed foam and a fresh pineapple crisp. The lotus seed foam did nothing for me but the pineapple's sweet and sourness helped cut into the foie gras.

Chicken two ways: A medallion of roasted French chicken along with a more inventive chicken and mushroom and bamboo shoots wrapped and cooked in lotus leaf all accompanied by a garlic glutinous rice ball. Tasty and simple, a good juxtaposition of east and west interpretations of chicken.

Beef tenderloin with rice paste rolls (腸粉): Simple cooked beef tenderloin with rice paste rolls with a sprinkling of truffle on top. Yet again the actual cooking of all the meats during this meal was spot-on.

Shrimp tartare over cold udon: This wasn't really a tartare as nothing was finely chopped. It was basically two pieces of what looked like amaebi served over cold noodles with a peanut sauce. The textures just weren't right for me and the taste was bland. I don't know what he was aiming for with this cold dish at the end but it seemed a disappointing ending.



Trio of dessert: An apple dumpling done in a har gao (蝦餃) wrap, jasmine flavored creme brulee, and preserved plum ice cream. I enjoyed all three of the desserts, and each one had a really strong taste of the featured flavor. Good ending to a nice meal of 11 courses.
Chef's table: On the way out i noticed that they have a chef's table in the kitchen. It literally is a bar set up right on the edge of the kitchen's hot plate. Seems interesting. Might be worth a try.

Doing nothing in Hong Kong

I've been here for just over a week now, and I pretty much haven't done anything. I think the reason for the lethargy is that while I had planned to relax for two weeks before coming here, I ended up having a really hectic time with all the moving, and I just want to do nothing now. It could also be the weather, which is really muggy being all hot and humid. You know how people say that in Arizona or Las Vegas the temperatures are ridiculous but at least it's dry heat? I can see the argument for living in that desert compared to this. That and what I read about the major cities in Arizona having the largest number of breast implants per capita.

Besides lounging around, however, I've also spent time seeing relatives and some old friends. But everyone is so busy working here that I end up only being able to catch them at lunch, and then I have about 6 hours to kill before dinner. Thank goodness Hong Kong is still filled with video game arcades, a concept that's been pretty much dead in the states. Depending on how old or new the games you want to play are, US$5 can last you anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours. Another great timekiller is the ubiquitous Starbucks, although I did notice the other day there was a McCafe at a McDonalds. It seems to only be a Hong Kong thing at the moment, but who knows?

Yes well then there's the food. Hong Kong is famous for its large variety of great food options as well as its large range in costs for these food items. For example, I've eaten at a Chinese fusion restaurant named Bo Innovation (review coming soon) where the chef's menu was about US$115 per person as well as a nearby congee place where I got an order of congee (皮蛋瘦肉粥), fried noodles (炒麵), and fried dough (炸兩) all for HK$17 = US$2.25. The congee place was tasty and really cheap even by Hong Kong standards, but I would strongly advise against the seat where you can glance into the kitchen. I've also strolled past the L'atelier de Joel Robuchon at Landmark in Hong Kong and the place is huge. The costs are relatively similar to the one in New York, with the menu decouverte at HK$1450 = US$185.

I haven't met anyone new since I've been back as I've barely had time to catch up with all the old schoolmates and acquaintances. I don't like going stag to bars or clubs and all my friends here are either engaged, don't go out often, or don't quite understand the concept of a wingman or TOFTT. Maybe I should try out the Mystery method. The book (The Game by Neil Strauss) was pretty good although I stopped about halfway, but the show (The Pickup Artist on VH1) looked horrible.

Next week is the big annual bridge tournament in Hong Kong, so I'll be there for most of the week filling in that time between lunch and dinner. I'm sorry if people were hoping for exciting stories about Hong Kong but there's still time for things to pick up the pace I guess.

Friday, August 24, 2007

VBOTD (Value bet of the day)

OAK@TB
Under 9

Tampa's three young pitchers (Kazmir, Jackson, and Shields) have all been pitching really well of late. Shields has a streak of 4 consecutive quality starts going into this one. For Oakland, Lenny Dinardo has actually pitched quite well since being made a starter. His overall ERA for the season is 3.13. Even though Oakland appears to be on a roll with their offense lately, they've spent most of the season struggling at the plate and Tampa's really been struggling of late offensively.

Running record: +1375
Record: 21-8

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

VBOTD

CLE@DET
Under 10

Both Carmona and Sabathia have pitched phenomenally for the Indians in each of their last 4 outings but have very few wins to show for it because Cleveland just can't score many runs. Detroit's bats have also been quiet compared to the high scoring offense we saw earlier in the season. The only unknown here is Jurrjens, who pitched decently against the Indians in his debut last time out. 10 runs still seems like a lot.

WAS@HOU
Under 8.5

The Nationals rank last in the majors in many team offensive categories while Houston hasn't scored more than 3 runs in each of their last 6 games. Carlos Lee playing hurt probably won't help that either. On the mound for Houston is Wandy Rodriguez, whose amazing home-road splits I've mentioned a couple of times already. Pitching for the Nationals is Joel Hanrahan who has pitched decently in limited work this season.

Running record: +1385
Record: 20-7

Monday, August 20, 2007

VBOTD

BOS@TB
Under 8.5

This is a case of historically good matchups. In the past 3 years, Kazmir has been 5-2 with a 2.6 ERA against Boston. Wakefield has been just as impressive in that period of time, going 7-1 with a 3.04 ERA. Just less than a week ago, both these pitchers pitched against the same teams, with Wakefield pitching 8 innings of 2-hit ball while Kazmir held the Red Sox scoreless for 6 innings. Runs could be hard to come by in this one.

Running record: +1285
Record: 19-7

Of course for the game where I thought the line was wrong Harang had his worst outing of the season. It's quite amazing how good the linesmakers are. However, Milwaukee is in such a slump that they managed to blow the early 5 run lead and then the late 1 run lead. But even though I recommended two picks and they both won, there was certainly plenty of drama as yet again David Weathers was having some trouble with the save and Borowski managed to blow his save while also not allowing the winning run (which would've have ended in a win right there).

My record right now looks like the win-loss record of a Cy Young winner (at least of the last few seasons). But it's actually an interesting race in the national league now that Brandon Webb (13-8) is on his streak. He's not unhittable in the same way that Jake Peavy is unhittable, but batters just can't seem to make good contact against his pitches. He actually is tied for 2nd in the league in strikeouts (which is a feat for a sinkerball pitcher) but most of that is due to the fact that he has pitched a lot more innings than the other top 5 guys.

So why does it seem to me that the sinkerball doesn't get as much attention as it deserves? Think of some of the current pitchers with a great sinking fastball: Halladay, Webb, Wang, Lowe, etc. They are workhorses who deliver a lot of innings because their pitch counts remain low. If a guy like Derek Lowe got the run support of a team like the Yankees, he'd be a 17-7 type pitcher too. Seems to me that if I ran a team I'd be looking for a good sinkerballer to anchor my staff.

Lastly, here is an absolutely fantastic article from Covers about betting on umpires in baseball. Enjoy. http://www.covers.com/articles/articles.aspx?theArt=146895

Sunday, August 19, 2007

VBOTD (Value bet of the day)

CIN@MIL
CIN -105

This line is so scary good value that I'm wondering what it is Vegas knows that I don't. Here's what I know. Since starting the season 5-0 with 2 no decisions, the Brewers have lost the last 15 games that Capuano has started. Of those 15 games, the Brewers were favored in 11 of them and Capuano's job in the starting rotation is essentially on the line in this outing. Harang, meanwhile, has been solid all season and yet has been a consistently good value the whole time. I've been on the Harang bandwagon for a while now and there's nothing that indicates to me it's time to get off yet.

CLE@TB
Under 8.5

Even though the Indians broke out with 8 runs yesterday, I'm not ready to say that their bats are completely back yet. This quality pitching matchup along with both teams' uninspiring offenses make this over/under a good value still, even though it is a full 2 runs below the over/under for the same two teams two nights ago.

Running record: +1085
Record: 17-7

The three teams that I have followed and recommended most consistently and successfully this season have been the Indians, Dodgers, and Reds. I tend to only choose the Reds when Harang is pitching, but the Indians and Dodgers actually have a lot in common this season. Both have very strong consistent staffs (Carmona, Sabathia, Byrd for Cleveland and Penny, Billingsley, Wolf, and Lowe for L.A.) and capable offenses that run in very prolonged streaks. As the season winds down, I can only hope there will be other teams with similar characteristics that I can identify next season. The only problem so far with recommending Indians and Reds games has been having to sit through the excruciating torture that is watching Borowski and David Weathers try to "save" games. They somehow get it done but it's never easy.

Friday, August 17, 2007

RDT (Random daily thought)

Thoughts while in the air for 16 hours...

Got a chicken salad sandwich right before getting on the plane. Absolutely awful texture that I've never had before. I can understand if it's not a very chunky chicken salad, but whose idea was it to make a minced chicken salad? Yuck

I thought they banned silverware on flights as a safety measure. I don't know when they brought back these real knives, but without it I wouldn't have been able to cut through the "sirloin steak" which was tough as cardboard. My alternative was salmon "enhanced with imperial soy sauce". No thanks. At least the brownie was good. I ended up having 4 of them.

Later came the snack which was a processed chicken patty sandwich (hot) with a package of Hellman's mayonnaise (room temperature) and a small container of Haagen-daz vanilla (still cold, but does this mean I should eat the ice cream first?). Got seconds of both. Glad to see that with the 4 digit ticket prices the airline decided to reward us by splurging for Haagen-daz.

I haven't been on a flight in almost 4 years, let alone a 16 hour international flight. Saw individual touch-screen entertainment for the first time. Lots of movies, but none of them recent. Games were awful. Ended up watching the first season of 30 Rock that I bought for my video ipod until the batteries died. Then I realized the seats had outlets even in economy. I'm way behind the times. 30 Rock was hilarious by the way, but I don't think there will be enough episodes left on the way back. What should I watch on the flight back? All 3 Lord of the Rings? All 3 Godfathers? I wish they had all 7 Rockys.

VBOTD

CLE@TB
Under 10.5

Even though Edwin Jackson's record is still 3-11, he's pitched really well his last three outings, against offenses better than these struggling Indians. Paul Byrd, on the other hand, got rocked in his last outing, but that was against the streaking Yankees. Otherwise, he has pitched very consistently this season. 10.5 just seems like a lot of runs with the Indians still struggling.

Running record: +985
Record: 16-7

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Vacation!

I'm leaving tomorrow for a 3 week vacation to Hong Kong. It's been 4 years since I've been back, and since Hong Kong is a trend-crazed city, I'll be so out of the loop.
All my moving is finally done, and hopefully I'll finally get that rest that I was originally hoping for when I quit my job two weeks ago.
I'm pretty sure I'll keep posting my baseball VBOTDs and an occasional RDT, but I'm not sure if I'll post any restaurant reviews for Hong Kong.
Y'all have a happy August and Labor Day!!

VBOTD (Value bet of the day)

NYM@PIT
NYM -145

John Maine has been rocked his last two starts, but one of them was against Atlanta which has been an offensive juggernaut of late. Maine also hasn't had 3 consecutive bad starts all season and his splits indicate that he pitches better at night and on the road. The Mets bats are starting to wake up again, and that's not going to be good news for Matt Morris, who has only given up less than 4 earned runs once in his last 10 starts.

Running record: +885
Record: 15-7

The Reds outhit the Cubs 16 to 5 and still needed to survive two warning track blasts in the 9th to just barely close out the game. Scary. What's even scarier was having the under in the Detroit-Cleveland game and watching Detroit put up 4 in the top of the 10th. It needed a great tag from Victor Martinez and Todd Jones somehow managing to give up no runs with second and third 1 out to preserve the under. I really have to start rethinking these unders with the way bullpens have been blowing it of late.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

VBOTD

CIN@CHC
CIN +135

Another great pitching matchup today between Harang and Zambrano. The Cubs have been struggling on offense, having only scored more than 3 runs 3 times in their last 10 games. As demonstrated by the recent play of the Dodgers, struggling offenses can go on for a while. Zambrano hasn't been particularly good at home, and was shelled last time out at Houston. Overall, +135 is always a good value for an excellent pitcher going against a struggling team.

Running record: +750
Record: 14-7

Monday, August 13, 2007

VBOTD

MIN@SEA
Over 7

I love taking unders when two dominant starting pitchers take the mound, but 7 is a little ridiculous. 7 is pretty much as low as Vegas will go for baseball over/unders, and these two pitchers haven't been hot enough to warrant that number. Sure Minnesota is still struggling on offense, but Seattle's been hitting the ball well of late.

Running record: +750
Record: 14-7

Lost another game because of 6 runs scored in the last 2 innings. This time I had Arizona last night against Washington. Even though my Padres-Reds recommendation clearly missed, there were still 4 runs scored in the 9th. Maybe as we're approaching the final quarter of the season the wear and tear on the bullpens is finally showing through.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

RDT

Flipping through the channels Thursday night I caught Tay Zonday's live performance of "Chocolate Rain". For those who don't know, he's another one of those Youtube sensations with a catchy song, incomprehensible lyrics (from listening to the song, the actual lyrics are quite deep), and a weird sound and look.

This combination, reminded me of the greatest unsolved mystery of my youth generation. WTF does "A licky boom boom down" mean? I have searched on Google and I can't seem to find an answer. There are sites with the whole song's lyrics, but there's no explanation of that line in the chorus. For those who didn't follow music in the early 90's, the song is called Informer and was sung by Snow, a white canadian reggae/rap musician. This song was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 7 consecutive weeks back in 1993. Even with the lyrics in front of you it takes a while to piece it together. Try it for yourself it's on Youtube.

VBOTD

SD@CIN
Under 8.5

After a short stretch of not being as dominant, Peavy has returned to being nearly unhittable again, giving up 1 run in his last 20 innings. As can be seen by Brandon Webb's streak, when these guys get it going, they can be unhittable for quite a while. As for Arroyo, don't let his 5-12 record fool you. Except for a stretch where he got bashed in 5 of 6 consecutive games, he's actually pitched 14 quality starts out of the remaining 18 other games he started.

Running total: +860
Record: 14-6

This curse that I feel I've been under lately has finally reached into my baseball bets. Everything went as predicted in the Milwaukee-Houston game with Wandy pitching another gem at home and Suppan being fresh enough that he ended up with a 125 pitch outing. But then Houston's bullpen completely blew up by allowing 6 runs in the last 2 innings. This came right after I had the under in the Baltimore-Boston game on Friday where it was 1-0 after 7 innings and then 9 runs were scored in the 8th.

Another game to look at is the Dodgers at St. Louis. The Dodgers continue to not be able to hit, and it looks like both Garciaparra and Martin may be out for a rest. I don't think that's going to help their struggling offense. The only reason I don't completely recommend this game is that both pitchers are weak and anything can happen.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

VBOTD (Value bet of the day)

MIL@HOU
Under 9.5

As previously mentioned, Wandy Rodriguez has some of the most amazing splits in baseball. 1-8 with an 8.16 ERA on the road while 6-2 with a 1.69 ERA at home. In his last 5 home outings, Wandy has gone at least 7 innings and has given up no more than 1 run. Suppan, meanwhile, started the season off very strongly and continues to pitch decently, though I don't quite understand why he gets pulled so early in games. He only ended up pitching 83 pitches last time out, so he should be fresh. Neither team has been crushing it with the bats so 9.5 looks like a lot of runs.

Running total: 970
Record: 14-5

Friday, August 10, 2007

RDT (Random daily thought)

I'm Chinese and a gambler. I am naturally superstitious. But seriously, it's felt like I've been under a curse ever since I quit my job.
I had the food poisoning/illness which finally ended after 40 hours of agony.
I was kicked out of my place by my landlord leaving me with 2 weeks to move.
The new place I found is a block away from a huge cemetary.
Last night in the apartment building right across from the front door of my new place, a fire broke out and one kid was killed (I think there were like 10 people living in the apartment).
My landlord now requires that we (which means me) clean out the whole place and all move out before she'll give me my deposit back. So the earliest I see any money will be after I come back.

When I go back to Hong Kong I will definitely give a good number of offerings to the large number of "gods" there.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

RDT

Why has Drew Carey become relevant again?

First I heard that he's the new host of The Price is Right. Then yesterday I saw him host a brand new game show on CBS called Power of 10.

With regards to The Price is Right, I've been watching more of it now that I quit my job. Reminds me of sick days at home as a kid. The Price is Right was always the thing to watch. But I can't imagine an old Drew Carey as the host. I always picture old game show hosts as bony and Skeletor-like (another reference from my childhood).

As for the Power of 10, their questions are based on survey responses like family feud. The difference is that the answers are multiple choice and the contestant has to guess the percentage range of respondents who picked a specific answer. To me, that's practically a random guess. As for gameplay, the risk/reward for answering the next question is always favorable for going on until the 10 million dollar question. After winning $1 million, the last question asks the exact percentage which is absolutely completely random and noone would attempt something so suicidal. At least in "Are you smarter than a 5th grader", I'd take a shot at the million dollar question if the subject was math. This one is just ridiculous. Noone will even attempt the 10 million dollars, let alone win it.

VBOTD

LAD@CIN
Under 9

The Dodgers' offense has been abysmal, including getting shut out in 3 of their last 4 games. Billingsley has pitched very well every other start, often going deep. Harang, on the other hand, is making his first start since getting pulled for lower back soreness. That's a bit of a concern, but should be offset by the Dodgers' offensive woes.

Running total: 870
Record: 13-5

I guess I should have put more faith into that Arizona bet on Sunday. My only worry was Valverde and they didn't even need him. That game was Penny's 4th straight quality start that was 3 runs over 6-7 innings, which while still spectacular is a dip from his pre-allstar form. That may be something to consider for the rest of the season.

Two honorable mentions for today include under 8.5 for Cleveland at White Sox and under 8.5 for Yankees at Toronto. Garland is not the pitcher he was the previous two seasons, but aside from a few big blowups, he has still thrown 6 quality starts in his last 10. Sabathia's pitching has gotten back on track recently and the Indians haven't been hitting particularly well. As far as the Yankees game is concerned, both starters are top pitchers, but the Yankees have been averaging almost 8 runs a game since the all-star break and that makes the under hard to take when they're so hot.

Monday, August 6, 2007

RDT (Random daily thought)

Yesterday they were showing a "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares" mini-marathon on BBC America in the afternoon, showing 4 of the episodes of the current season that have already aired. These are essentially the only 4 episodes that I've seen of the entire show, but I love it already. The closest thing to this show currently on US airwaves is Restaurant Makeover on the food network, but this show is much much better. It is not so much a food show as it is a show about the restaurant business, and it goes so much more in depth than any other show that I've seen.

You still get the charisma and charm of the profanity-laced tirades of chef Ramsay, but this show is so much better than "the F word" (another Ramsay show that was shown on BBC America which is a mess). More importantly, you get a lot of insight into running a restaurant and making it profitable, although it seems that he reuses the same themes a lot in how he tries to reengineer a restaurant. These include:

1. Survey the locals. Find out their complaints about the current restaurant, what they're looking for, and how much they're willing to pay for a meal.

2. Reengineer the produce selection to use more fresh local ingredients which will also happen to be cheaper.

3. Reengineer the menu so that it is easier for the chefs to produce the meals faster and with more consistency and efficiency. Plate presentation is kept minimal to also speed things along.

4. Reengineer the dining space so that the decor fits with the selected type of cuisine, and fit as many tables as possible while still allowing the diners to be comfortable. Frills and random lounge areas are not necessary.

5. Know your role. Each member of the staff has a job and shouldn't be meddling into the jobs of the others.

6. Communication between the members of the staff from inside to outside the kitchen to ensure the kitchen runs properly.

7. Big marketing/PR campaign, usually involving hitting the streets and meeting the locals. Create a buzz outside and inside the dining room.

Here are my thoughts on these themes:

1. A lot of these restaurants that they have chosen to "save" are actually businesses that should be making money but don't. They usually have a decent competitive advantage in terms of location or cuisine but are just run improperly. Most of these places do have "locals" who will probably comprise a large part of their sales. It's definitely not like running a restaurant in New York City I imagine.

2. Wholesale food really is quite cheap as it is, so the fresher it is the better. That being said, local produce will also be even cheaper than having any specially imported ingredients.

3. The easier and faster it is to push out food from the kitchen, the less the customers have to wait. But more importantly, it also means the more covers (customer seatings) you can do in a night. Again, none of these places offer a 9 course tasting menu. It's all about in and out.

4. Same thing as 3. Pack them in and get them out and pack them in again. But still make sure the customers are comfortable, and just get rid of unnecessary lounging areas that don't serve any money-making purpose (bar seating is great though).

5. I think "know your role" is important in any business, but it's especially important here because restaurant management usually includes 3 very type A personalities: owners, chefs, and managers. Having Ramsay do the role-assigning helps because he is very assertive and it's very hard not to respect him for what he has achieved for himself.

6. Communication is a key theme that he stresses both in this show and in Hell's Kitchen. While everyone has their role, there needs to be a glue to keep it all together and working efficiently. I think most businesses hire a middle manager for this role, but restaurants can't afford to add a random body just for that.

7. Well for sure Ramsay is a huge PR guy. He does have charisma and people often wonder how much of the profanity is put on for show. But it just goes to show that a little proper marketing goes a long way. Then again, it's probably a lot easier to get people's attention when you're walking around with a celebrity and a camera crew. Also important is maintaining the buzz inside the dining room, that after attracting the initial customers they feel that they want to return.

So armed with these 7 themes, couldn't I get a job as a restaurant management consultant? Seriously, every show ends up being some variation of these 7 themes. But it still makes for good TV anyway.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

VBOTD

CLE@MIN
Under 8.5

Carmona has been dominating of late which is going to be bad news for Minnesota who have struggled offensively since the all-star break and have only scored 5 or more runs once in their last 10 games. Scott Baker has been consistently good and the Twins bullpen is very solid. 8.5 is about as low as the line can be set when both pitchers are not marquee names, but is still good value when the two pitchers on the mound can pitch like marquee names.

Running total: +770
Record: 12-5

Speaking of marquee pitching matchups, there are two today that should be fun to watch. Lackey against Haren in Oakland and Webb against Penny in LA. I was originally going to suggest that there was good value in getting Webb and Arizona at +115 as Arizona has been on a hot streak while the Dodgers have gone in the opposite direction. Penny's last 3 outings, while good, have not been as dominant as all those one run or fewer outings he posted earlier in the season. At the last moment I stayed off of recommending it because Valverde has already pitched two consecutive nights.

John Maine was out by the third inning yesterday but Lilly brought his A game and they managed to push the O/U at 8 with some great bullpen work by the Mets. That is why I like taking unders when both pitchers are capable of being dominant because if one screws up, the other can still hold the damage.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

VBOTD (Value bet of the day)

NYM@CHC
Under 8

Another case of two possibly dominant pitchers. Both John Maine and Ted Lilly have pitched spectacularly this season. But what is most interesting about this line is that about 2 weeks ago there was a game at Wrigley with Roy Oswalt pitching against Ted Lilly. The O/U line for that game was 10. Does Vegas really think Oswalt is two runs worse than Maine or that Houston is 2 runs better than the Mets? The only rational explanation that was given was the fact that the wind was blowing out that day. And yet, Oswalt happened to have his worst career outing by giving up 8 earned runs. Sometimes, Vegas just knows. And with Vegas knowing, 8 is a pretty good value number if either of these pitchers bring their A game.

Running total: +770
Record: 12-5

RDT (Random daily thought)

I use http://www.covers.com/ for a lot of my research. It's a great site for sports bettors and sports statisticians, although it mostly concentrates on American sports and does not have as much on horse racing as I would like. I also read it for some interesting articles about the sports betting world, with the most recent being the Donaghy NBA scandal http://www.covers.com/articles/columns/articles.aspx?theArt=145078 .

But another betting scandal has just occurred that seems to have caught major attention in the non-American gambling world. It has to do with tennis and the transactions that go on at Betfair. http://www.covers.com/articles/articles.aspx?theArt=146086

Betfair is arguably the world's largest betting exchange, where there is no set bookie, but rather people set their own lines and place their bids and offers like any stock market or stock exchange. Other similar sites include tradesports (which I used to use) and intrade (which focuses more on bets on current events, entertainment, financials). I'd heard of Betfair because I'm a huge horse racing fan and Betfair has a major impact on the global totes and crossing markets. But I did not know that they supposedy process 50 million pounds in bets a week. At a 5% commission off winning bets that's a pretty healthy business. All this without taking in a single US dollar. They do not take US accounts, as by US law internet gambling is illegal. Some of the other betting exchanges fight this by saying that it is an exchange with no bookie and that it is skill and does not constitute gambling. It's a similar argument to the online poker thing and I really don't want to get into that any more.

But seriously, tennis? According to a different article I read (which I can't find to post here), 7 million dollars worth of bets were exchanged (and subsequently returned by Betfair's decision)on that tennis match. 7 million? Just goes to show that you can bet on anything in this world, and there are plenty of people willing to take your action. And where there's a lot of money involved, there's always someone who will try to do something crooked.

Edit before posting:

I just found that there is a http://www.covers.co.uk which has more british sports (soccer). Also, does anyone know how to put in a clickable link that I can rename? I forgot all my html.