Searching for a New Car, Part 1
[Poker content: A little, down a bit.]
No, no, no, I haven't died quite yet. Truth is, I've had time for not as much poker the past few days since I've spent at least portions of five recent days searching for a new car. My current transportation, a '96 Saab 9000 CSE, has been an okay car but is reaching that stage of its existence where it's getting silly expensive to repair, and Saabs are by their very nature very, very expensive on the parts side.
By way of explanation, not long after buying this as a hand-me-down from my sister and her husband, one of the rear outside door handles broke. On this model, it's a known weak spot in the design. The car part alone was $247. The same handle broke again a few months later. I still haven't fixed it.
But there are lots of things wrong with the car, now, from a recently cracked windshield --- thanks, gravel-truck pebble and cold snap in the weather! --- to problems with the rear-end electrical system and the computer chip that runs the car's electronics, and that latter might have to be fixed before the car would face a mandatory emissions test in March. Another of the door handles is broken on the inside, the special inset lights to illuminate the rear license plate are either burned out or plagued by the electrical demons (and I got pulled over for that a week ago), the front-end headlight-washer blades are snapped off and dangling, and when I insert the key in the ignition there's this brief, odd, mechanical winding-down noise that I have yet to figure out. Oh, yeah, the right-front brake caliper is rusty and needs to be be replaced, too.
The car has 237,000 miles on it. You'd have issues, too. But on old Saabs, all the issues tend to be expensive ones, and I've reached the point of not caring.
So while this was a very decked-out older car --- its first owner, I later learned, was former Detroit Lions QB Scott Mitchell --- it's time to go to the other end of the spectrum, for something newer and (out of necessity) a lot more basic.
Enter the car jaunt. At first I planned to spend $6,000 or $7,000 or $8,000 on a small used car, but by and large those cars don't seem to exist. There are, however, veritable seas of 12-MPG SUVs on the market. Living alone as I do, I tend to value gas mileage, and that is something that remains a primary focus. After about eight used car lots I resigned myself to the fact that I may as well start looking at inexpensive new cars, too, if just to take advantage of the new-car warranty and all that other stuff.
There's a lot more to the search, including having to deal with some sleazoid car salesmen. I'll save those entertaining hijinks for the next post.
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Meanwhile, on to poker. A brief bit of history: When I first started playing on teh Interwebs, I tended to play limit cash games --- some Hold'em, some stud games, maybe a little bit of Omaha on occasion. I'd play the occasional tournament and I'd all right in those, and in the last year, year and a half, I've unconsciously slid over to playing tons of SNGs and MTTs and very little in the way of limit cash games. I've experimented with NL games and found it's an area where I need to improve... and I'm working on that.
But old-fashioned limit? A couple of years ago, I used to content myself with playing tight ABC poker and grinding out unimpressive win rates, augmented by signup and reload bonuses. I didn't get rich at it. The style, though, that I used back then, doesn't seem to be how I play today; recent weeks' experience at a handful of limit tables has taught me that. Several thousand NL donkaments have changed my game into something where I'm far more aggressive at a limit table and willing to put other people to the test far more often. I might be three-betting something I wouldn't even play before, especially at a short-handed table, which is something I also didn't do much of in my earlier existence. Then again, I might not play certain hands at all, too.
In a nutshell, I used to stay in a comfortable shell and save a lot of bets. I don't seem to be that way any more, nor do I care if someone rocks me for a couple of bets in a given hand because I usually figure I'll get it back with interest later. Am I still controlled by the math? On a lot of hands, definitely so --- I'm chasing my draws when I've got the right numbers and I'll almost always get away from underpairs in a multi-way pot. But the difference is earlier in the hand, before the odds properly dictate the play: I'm far more often trying to dictate to my opponents how the hand itself is going to be played out, from blatant late-position steals and sneaking into hands with crap, to just firing back at people with air when I suspect them of the same.
Yes, the variance is much higher, and the single bets don't matter or hurt as much as they used to. And as I'm sneaking into higher limit levels on occasion, too, this new, slightly looser but far more aggressive game seems also much more effective. At the least, I've posted a few decent sessions of late.
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Back to the car tales. But not 'til next time.