Congrats to Phil Hellmuth Palo Alto poker champ

edit to add, two days and two views later:


When I called my friend Steve Cohen in LA to spread the news on Matt Cain’s perfect game, he said “not only that, but Phil Hellmuth won his record-setting twelfth bracelet — championship — at the World Series of Poker championships.”


We have had an ongoing conversation about poker. Steve is my poker rabbi. I don’t know if there is a Swedish word for “rabbi” — teacher, in my lazy lay use here — of the smorgasborg of interests that Steve and I discuss, in this case, for poker he is my rabbi.


I recognized Hellmuth at a little cafe I frequent; the giveaway was an autographed copy of his book on their shelf, plus overhearing a young clerk tell her customers that their families are friends back in Wisconsin. The first time I saw him I syruptitiously shot him sitting across from me, eating his oatmeal. Steve said that his social media posts had him busy on a book. One of the next times I saw him there I had the audacity to stop him entering his car and had him sign a photo of Steve and I that I explained would be a gift to Steve, who I described as a poker player. He didn’t seem to mind the intrusion — I waited until he had finished his meal to breach him — but on the other hand, he did not ask about my interests. Fair enough.


The Palo Alto Weekly had a cover story, in 2006, which I may have skimmed at the time. But now I think about tipping Keith Peters of the Weekly the news of the Hellmuth bracelets but  opt –as you see here — for the self-glory of the local excloo,; dear reader can r.m.a.i at Las Vegas Sun, ESPN and others.


Gennady Sheyner’s 2009 column mention of Phil Hellmuth noted his personalized license plate 9POKER9 and said that references his nine bracelets, whereas Steve Cohen opined that it may also reference the experts’ point that Hellmuth won the final hand at his first championship with a relatively weak pair of 9s. Hellmuth and a pair of nines beats a full house or a stadium full of fishes with better hands. Bet on Hellmuth with a pair of nines over an Arrillaga Stadium full of lesser players with hand-fulls of Hapsburgs — does that work? I am not yet “all in” for poker lingo, other than knowing not to say “read ’em and weep.”


Steve Cohen cautioned me about bothching the distinction between “odds” and probability. I was going to ask him the probability of a fan catching a perfect game. The  order or ordinality is something like 22 out of 100,000 games; the odds are greater than 5,000 to one against. Steve Cohen accepted my trivial point that the odds of Zito throwing a perf (Lena Dunham reference) were better Thursday afternoon — 22 out of 100,000 — than they were for Cain Wednesday night — 21 out of 99,990 or so.


He “took” my line about Barry Zito’s game being “perfectly imperfect” — because his first pitch resulted in a hit — rather than swinging at it with an assault on my logic or use of the language. I guess I was trying to redeem myself for misusing “odds”.


Is it only in my brain that I flash to pulling “Objects at rest stay at rest? ” out of my seat at Paul Cohen’s dining room table a few years back when the great professor, problem-cracker and dad interrupted some little speech of mine to make me clarify whether I knew a Venn diagram from a manhole, or like.


Meanwhile but hopefully not too meanly — you judge, dear reader — I noted in conversation with Steve (Paul’s son, one of three) that Hellmuth has two boys who were graduated from Paly and then younger son flew to Vegas to see his dad conquer and actually award the bracelet. I speculated about life at home with a poker star — as possible sitcom fodder: would dad ever bluff sonny boy out of the last breakfast biscuit? “House of Cards” is already a Mamet play, in three ways, and might equally apply to Marsh McCall’s childhood, in that at least two of the professor’s sons grew up to be comedy writers.


Way off topic, Steve Cohen gushed about “Pranks” by V.Vale’s Re/Search publication; I said that I had permission from V. Vale to start a thread called “Beyond the Vale” and that I could also start a running tribute to my friend Steve, working title — and I allowing myself less than a minute to rock this — and I am literally going to stare at second hand of my wristrocket before picking up — complete sweep — “Tao of Steve is Taken” came after :05 — I give up, “Stone Cold Cohen Question Mark”.


Mayor Yiaway Yeh has used ping pong as the focal point for a community building initiative. Maybe he should switch to poker. I already in my little gray mattererer, my matted gray matterer, wrote the headline for the satire: “Palo Alto Announces Poker Initiative: we bluff so much from the dias, might as well formalize or milk this for further penetration; I did think about a milisecond — a semi-thought? — about game theory and the upcoming council race: is it better to announce early and scare off future competition or wait until just under the wire, and know your actual odds, on the basis of number of competitors? You could bluff a run by merely submitting the 25 signitures needed to qualify for ballot, then withdraw. Not sure penalty for, in essence, folding.


There is also a New York Times link that states in a chess column that there is a U.S. chess player as accomplished in his field as Hellmuth but is lesser known, perhaps unjustly. I may or may not link to it because the Times is now counting my views and limiting me for 10 per month versus 99 cents per month.


A lot of these things are dependent on how big is your chip pile. Again, drifting in a less than charming way, but what about a movie about the great and now deceased Chips Reese?

Hellmuth for Mayor.

edit to add, 100 words later:

in graph 3 or c, “tell” for “giveaway”

also, in 3 or c, “smorgasbord” is proper smelling. I was going to make some lame joke about Smorgas Borg as a lesser known cousin of the tennis champ. Cannot quit link up “smorgas” meaning open-faced sandwich to fact that in poker you need a closed face, or, literally, “poker face”. Was intrigued by the red herring (but not fluke or lutefisk) that someone has augmented wiki, like ginger icing on a strawberry cake, that In American Orthodox Jewish wedding ceremonies, the Chuppah is often preceded by a smorgasbord, which can be very lavish and can include foods from many cuisines, such as meat carving tables and sushiThere is also a Julbord, at Christmas, that I read as “Ju-bord” and I found a wee bit salty, or would have, or am I just riffing on an rifling thru Woody Allen who thought he heard Tony Roberts call him “D’you?” Although Christ himself was Orthodox, so jul away, y’all, who are actually secretly Danish. I brought my parents a plate of Danish from Peet’s and my Mom later was watching on DVD “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” — while I should have been watching Matt Cain, which is where we came in — and I noticed that the famous (to me) line “slide, slide” from a Woody Allen play is stolen in the Lou Brock, Maury Wills but really Billy Hamilton sense or like at a smogasbord merely helping yourself, from “Take Me Out”. Further off base, in foul territory, climbing into the stands like the Earthquakes goalie, and then shimmying up the light pole, Marilyn Monroe, or her avatar, is at Stanford Theatre, two nights only. The odds of all baseball games now featuring an amazing overpowering and not yet spoiled big righthander notching 27 in a row with 14 ks would be like, at least in or on Plastic Alto, the Stanford Theatre deciding to show nothing but “Gentleman Prefer Blondes” every night, or five times daily merely because they can.


I am going to do my 10 minute further installment of “Harbaugina Monologue” at Philz on Forest today, tea minus 3.5 hours and counting, and will do it as a laptop act in that I will read from my screen, or from Terry’s MacBook, my Bhi Bhiman riff which I call “Bho Bhoman a tribute to Bhi Bhiman meet the Harbaugina Monologue” the only footballish part is that Jim Yardly covers Sri Lanka and sacked Jim Harbaugh in 1980 AND Bhiman has a “hater” song about God, Satan and Kobie Bryant. As David Shields says, when I am writing about Phil Hellmuth or Lena Dunham — who I am resisting titling about under “Curb Your (Sounds Like a Mouthwash)” — that I am actually writing about myself. Or Yardley. Or Harbaugh. Or as Lennon said I am you and he are we and we are  all in.

in graph 16 or p, it’s from “Come Together” and its “I know you you know me” not “I am you….” Oddly, if that is not redundant here, as I booted up lyrics to “Come Together” here at Coupa, the house system came on with “I should have know better with a girl like you…” and I started blushing and tapping my “muth” button. Diegetic versus non-diegetic, and all that. Quirky.

in graph 17 or Q, that is the actual song title, “I Should Have Known Better” if I was not so lazy, or lay, I could suss out actual authors of those songs. I am 3:1 for on Lennon for “Come” but would only offer 5:1 against that its McCartney for “Should” (I mean 66 versus 20 percent in probability, or how sure I feel). If you grant me (in the Sturiale sense, even) another 75 words on the Fab Four — and this is for Marsh — I could add here, even obscurely and inscrutably — Jes Yu, her sister goes to same cafe — “Aint She Sweet” covered in 1961 in Germany but too expensive for “Bunheads” who according to Clint Bennett (Gunn alum, ex-Sweet Virginia), a music editor, they used friends of the producer. 71 words

as referenced in lines 7-8, graph 3, and he would call me not ja-zz but  ja-ckel for my unpredictability, here is the Hellmuth book, you too can buy, BUT DO NOT STEAL STORE COPY AT — CAFE, out in paper in 2005, with 21 reviews, although it appears to be an abridged version of a previous title:


also in 3 I mean surreptitiously which is from Latin surripere to snatch secretly — exactly! — and is number 344 on the charts of commonly-ckekced words at Merriam-Webster’s site. Snatch secretly, my photo of PH, as opposed to PH himself Hellmuth winning his bracelet on tv, in front of a crowd, inviting his son to witness and all that. Like pulling sword from stone, he, them.


in graph 20 or t, in my head I heard “let the boy try” which is actually a direct quote from 1981 “Excalibur” but I only know it from Phil Cousineau’s seminar on myth from UC Extension circa 1991. I bet Phil Hellmuth junior, by genetics and breakfast table Danish-tussles could beat, if not Arrillaga Stadium but the typical crowd at Arrillaga Burgess Park gym with a pair of 9s.


in graph 5 or e, the Weekly mention was in 2009; may not have been GS. Also, while finding my way back to that cite, I found on a poker website attributed to Phil Hellmuth something about he had a 7Poker7 plate before 9Poker9 and it does more directly reference the bracelets not the hands. See also “intentional phallacy” and something I wrote about Stanford law and baseball nut Bill Gould license plate referencing either Yaz and William OR how many wins the Sox got in the regular season the year they won the Series as a wild card team, you do the math. And somewhere above I was thinking “crooked numbers” as baseball vernacular for a big inning, and how it fits for the wrong reasons in that indeed a 3 was once made with three strokes, an 8 with eight, if you think of it as two squares on top of each other, et cetera. Forget where was I.


and: this is a little bit too plastic alto, beyond the vale and not stone cold cohen enough, but I have to mention that it was 1975 that Bob Watson scored the one-millionth run for Major League Baseball, apropos of if the numbers are 22 perfect game in 100,000 games. By 1975 therefore, if you figure 4 runs per game, for instance, they were up to 250,000 games. Is it 30 teams now X 160 games over two, per season, times 130, minus the expansions. Try 150 times 15 times 100 and you get, what 300,000? Watson wiki.


edit to add, or to finish, a cup of coffee later: when I sent this to the Cohens, I noted that the computer had preserved the fact that I first mis-typed “Phil” as “Phi”; it’s in the slug. In terms of the distinction between odds and probabilities above, there is also ratio, such as the Golden Ratio, sometimes denoted by…wait for it…phi. See this.


edit to add, again, and really, truly, finally, because I have to go home, feed the cocker and take a nap if I am going to actually appear at Philz open mic for “Harbaugh Meets Bhiman”, but I am really caught napping, picked off second base, while texting or contemplating my navel, for going sloppily from “order (of magnitude)” to “ordinality” especially if Cohen –any of them — actually read this. “Cardinality” might be closer than “ordinality” but I am just bluffing and easily called. I did find a site on the size of the set as 15,000 to 30,000, close enough to what I wrote, although they also calculated the on-base percentage times 27. I am not going to revise only add from the comments from the STC crowd-source.


enough already: so far readers of Plastic Alto are roughly 10 times more likely to be at the Bhi Bhiman post than this one, 49 to 4.

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player, and blogger; he also sang in local choir, fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32 Reads 'Howl' and owns a couple musical instruments he cannot play
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