Good times in Manila

The story is always the same… go to Canada/US/Australia/W Europe and have a terrible time. Go to Asia or Latin America and have a great time.

I’ve been having a lot of fun on my own here in Manila. The people are great… everyone, everywhere already seems to know me too and I’ve only been here 3 or 4 days… I got in the taxi today, “To the casino sir?�… I didn’t even recognize him but apparently he recognized me… I go to one of the bars, “Vodka Redbull, right?�… they remembered me from 2 nights ago.

Manila nightlife isn’t the greatest, especially in comparison to Thailand, but in comparison to a place like Australia, it is utopia.

There are lots of semi-girlie bars here, which is such a contrast to Australia. I went to 2 strip clubs in Australia with Jane and they are, by far, the worst places I have ever been. The girls were unbelievably fat, ugly and mean. Meanwhile, here, it seems like thousands of quite beautiful girls, all just waiting for you to even just talk to them… I get literally tackled in some places… dozens of girls all trying to touch me and talk to me… the contrast is just so stark. If Australia would open its borders (as all countries should) then you could possibly get a taxi in that country, or have a chance of seeing a decent looking girl and having a chance to talk to her! Ah well, enough Australia bashing… I have happily escaped.

On a different topic: poker… I continue to just annihilate the competition, every single night now! I have been going nightly in Brisbane, Sydney and Manila for the last week or so and have yet to have anything even close to a losing night… in fact, many evenings end when I take the money from the last remaining people and they go home! My pockets are overflowing with money now… it’s just ridiculous.

But for me it is really neat because I’ve spent the last few years playing poker as a hobby, both live and on the internet… in the beginning, especially on the internet (I am not a very good internet player… all my best plays are live from reading people) I lost quite a bit of money. I’ve noticed that almost every time for the last year if I went to a live casino, I would almost always win money… yet, I still didn’t give it too much though… just lucky I thought.

But now, after kinda committing myself to it for the last few weeks, I have realized that something has happened over the last few years: I have learned a lot and am becoming REALLY good. It’s neat to just stumble onto something that you turn out to be really good at… Interestingly, all my life, whenever people would ask me what skills I have, I would usually reply that I really have no special skills other than being adequately intelligent… I’d then state that the only skill I actually consider myself having is the ability to read people (not like in poker, but just in general). I’ve always had that knack… from within 10 seconds of meeting someone, I knew almost exactly what they were all about.. I don’t know if I have ever, ever been wrong. Even when I have ended up having some dealings with a few idiots, I always knew they were idiots but thought I’d give it a go anyway, and see what happens.

I have countless (as in thousands) of anecdotes about how I instantly figured out someone was crazy or actually criminally psycho while my other friends would say things like, “No… you must be wrong… that persons not crazy/evil�… a few days/months later and they’d always be in jail for something or in the newspaper for some crime they committed.

Anyway… it’s kinda funny that I’ve always known my only real skill was my ability to read people, but I never thought about it in the context of poker until I began to play poker live in casinos. My calls are eerily exact. And many times they are almost subconscious… that is part of why it is neat… for example… I was playing in Sydney and I had K 10 or something and was playing against a guy who I know had a bit of a propensity to bluff from time to time… He kept betting and I kept calling him, even thought I had absolutely nothing (only King high)… finally it came to the river and a card came up that could have easily made someone’s straight or flush and he bet fairly big. I still didn’t have anything at all, the only thing I could beat was a complete bluff. I sat there and looked at the board and tried to analyze what it is he might have… I was in the process of doing that when he began to say something to me… I don’t know what he even said, as he only got three words out (something like, “You got a fl—“) when without even consciously thinking, my hands grabbed my chips and threw them in and I said, “I callâ€?… he looked stunned. He turned over absolutely nothing. When I turned over nothing as well (but a better hand than his with a King high) the table was stunned… no one could believe I called all the way through and even called on the river with nothing. Even I was sorta surprised… but I knew in my head (in my subconscious really) that if he started talking, it was to try to talk me into folding… I didn’t even fully realize that until after when I realized that many of my calls aren’t even on a conscious level.

Anyway… it’s been fun for me to realize all this over the last few months and now have something new I can try to continue to improve and who knows, maybe I can reach world class levels. If the last few weeks are any indication, at the local card room level, I am unbelievably dominant.

The last few days at the casino at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Manila have been great… Most of the players here are SO bad… it is actually too easy for me… I began giving people some of their chips back I felt so bad for them today. But they have NO clue how to play. NO ONE raises before the flop, ever… even with AA, KK, QQ etc… so I get to see EVERY flop, with any 2 cards, and can usually outplay people after that, even if I didn’t get anything… but when I have a big hand, I always raise TEN times the big blind and EVERYONE who was gonna call, calls anyway… which means, when they have a big hand and I don’t, it doesn’t cost me anything to see if I got a lucky flop… and if I did, they would call whatever bets I made! Whereas, when I have a big hand and they don’t, I get 10:1 money over what they get with the opposite situation! It is literally ludicrous. I don’t know which players are worse, the Filipinos or Dominicans… both are just as bad really.

I spent some time talking to some of the players here and was SHOCKED at their thought process!! One guy told me that he bets based on the dealer… he says some of them are really lucky for him and some are really bad… he even showed me once that he had QQ and the board came Q-8-2 rainbow and I only bet a small amount and HE FOLDED!!! He said it was because that particular dealer is very unlucky for him… he even says he’ll fold AA pre-flop if someone raises him and the dealer is a bad luck dealer!!

Many players were like him, but with all their various superstitions! Filipinos seem very naïve and superstitious in general… it even shows with their religion… I mean, how naïve do you have to be to fall for another race’s religion… everyone here is Catholic… and they believe their lord and savior is a white man?!???? I mean, c’mon. If Jesus was black or asian, do you think there would be one redneck in Tennessee who had a cheap plastic figurine glued onto the dashboard of his pickup truck! Hahaha, never in a trillion years.

Don’t get me too wrong, what I just stated was obviously a vast generalization but it certainly isn’t a racist comment… nor is it derogatory or meant to be demeaning. In fact, I like Filipinos a lot… what many of them seem to be missing in logical, rational thought processes, they more than far make up for in their approach to life and being in touch with their environment… they can dance.. they can sing… many of them have absolutely perfect bodies… they are so friendly and many of them seem genuinely happy… in fact, I’m jealous of them!

I leave for Boracay tomorrow… I could probably use a bit of a break from poker for a bit anyway (it can almost become boring winning all the time, oddly enough) and could use some sun and fun… I’ll probably be there for a few days and then I don’t know where…

Until then!