Friday, May 20, 2011

Marvel Super Heroes Poker Party!

I see that my last few posts may not have been the most entertaining pieces I have ever posted, so I thought I’d liven things up a bit with something more fun. Here then, is my assessment of your favorite Marvel superheroes and how they would be likely to perform at your Thursday night poker game.

For those unfamiliar with poker, poker players are classically analyzed on two dimensions, tight vs. loose and passive vs. aggressive, where tighter players tend to play fewer hands and give up on them more quickly than loose players, and aggressive players tend towards betting and raising rather than just checking and calling. 

Extremely tight-passive players are called rocks. They rarely win much but rarely lose much either. Loose passive players are called calling stations. They play too many hands and can spew a ton of money in an evening. Tight aggressive players have good hand selection and play the hands they do play very well. This has long been considered the most effective style, although a good loose aggressive style, involving playing a wide range of hands very well, has also proven highly effective in recent years, especially in no limit hold’em. A player who is too loose aggressive is called a maniac. So, without further ado:

Marvel Super Heroes Poker Party!

Captain America: Rock

Steve Rogers would be your classic tight passive player. He probably prefers not to gamble and is mostly there for the camaraderie. He knows which cards are sensible to play and he’s going to stick to that plan. You probably won’t get him off the best hand too often, but you’ll always know when he has it, so you don’t have too much to fear from him.

Iron Man: Loose Aggressive

Tony Stark, on the other hand, is a guy you’re going to have to watch. He’s got plenty of money and he hates to lose. Get into a pot with him and you’re going to have to grab the table and hold on for dear life. Don’t call his raise unless you’re prepared to play for all your chips.

 Thor: Maniac

The God of Thunder is just at the game for a good time. He’s happy to throw chips around with reckless abandon, and is definitely going to hang around to the river to see who wins. Don’t be afraid to call him down with only a moderately strong hand; its 50-50 he’ll give your money back at the end of the night anyway.

 Spider Man: Tight Aggressive

You know how the best players can read their opponents and pick up subtle signals that tell them when their opponents are strong and when they are weak? This guy has a freaking SPIDER SENSE. No way you’re fooling Webhead into thinking you’re sitting on a busted flush when you’re holding quads.

The Hulk: Are You Kidding?

Getting into a poker game with the Hulk is not advisable. You can probably bluff Bruce Banner without a problem, but don’t show the bluff. You don’t want to make him angry.

Stay tuned for DC Super Heroes Poker Party!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Whatever happened to the U.S. Mail?

When I was a kid, if there was one thing you could rely on, it was the U.S. Postal Service. It was commonly understood that you could basically tape a nickel into a gum wrapper, write a mailing address on it in crayon, and it would arrive at its intended destination in a few days. There were still services such as Certified Mail and Return Receipt (although fewer of such services than there are today) but you didn't really need them, because there was simply no doubt that your letter or package would get to its destination.

Those days, sadly, seem to be long gone. It could be a California thing, since I didn't start experiencing this problem until I moved out here in the 2000s, but I remember being shocked the first time I delivered something through the Post Office that mysteriously failed to arrive at its destination. By the third time, I wasn't shocked anymore, just sad. Keep in mind that these were items that I opted to purchase delivery tracking for. Who knows how many items that I just dropped in the mailbox never made it where they were supposed to go?

What's the explanation? Is the Post Office really just less careful with items that have been marked with some kind of delivery confirmation, relying on the fact that customers will assume their packages are safer and not bother to check? After all, you don't really have any recourse once the Postal Service screws up (although you do have some. EHow has some ideas on what to do when your stuff is lost in the mail). Is it just a West Coast thing, and East Coast mail is as reliable as ever? Is it the fact that so many people use email and other forms of digital transmission that the Postal Service just figures no one is paying attention anymore? Is it that people are buying fewer stamps?

If anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear them. In the meantime, I have a letter to reprint and resend.