Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A few notes

A couple more quick thoughts about the JPC 2006.

It was actually Jan Fisher who gave me some quick coaching on box shuffling, not Linda Johnson. My bad. She's damn good at it, too. Mary doesn't box, she... strips, I think it's called, so she called over Jan as the boxing expert. Because I was pathetic at stripping, or whatever it was called.

Another note in Jan's favor (after my snarky comments in the last post), is that she noted in her talks how great it was to play with the Japanese players because everyone seems to be having fun and enjoying the game. It's true. The Ueno games (and the Duke games, too) are always a good time because everyone is there because they love the game. No one is making any money off these games. More importantly, no one is losing any money on these games, so we're there just because we enjoy playing and are trying to learn and improve. In this respect, it's probably a good thing that we can't gamble for money. Once folks start losing thousands of yen during the games, we'll probably see the nasty comments, dark faces, and card flinging that other "real" games see.

I see in Bluejay's blog that Linda and Jan have already headed back home, but Mark, the new JPC Champ, is sticking around until Sunday. (Mary too, I assume.) He's going to be attending the Everest Cup game on Friday night, and they're considering going out for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) afterwards. His blog post title is "Poker while flower viewing?", which is an interesting mental picture.

If you're not familiar with hanami, it's very common in Japan when the cherry blossoms bloom for groups of friends or coworkers to go find an open stretch of ground someplace under a blooming tree (which is a challenge in itself sometimes) and bring food and drinks and admire the blossoms. Actually, what it usually turns into is a lot of Japanese salarymen getting totally wasted on beer and rice wine and getting loud an boisterous and maybe even remembering to look up at the tree once in a while. And I don't mean that in a bad way -- it can be great fun. Many of the parks in Tokyo with big stretches of cherry trees get absolutely packed during the bloom times. Some offices will send out their junior workers early in the day with tarps to stake out claims to good spots, then the rest of the office will show up in the evening to booze it up and enjoy themselves. It can be quite a party. Almost every time I have gone, there's usually at least one very plastered businessman who gets really boisterous and in a springtime mood and does a striptease for the merriment of his coworkers. Almost every time. And we're talking going all the way, using just his necktie as an impromptu loin cloth or a plastic drinking cup to hide the naughty bits.

Actually, considering this and the things I have seen under the cherry trees so far, a bunch of Japanese guys drinking and playing poker under the trees and forgetting to look up is not such an interesting mental image after all.

For those of you who can read Japanese, I found that someone has set up an RSS monitor page of most of the Japanese poker blogs, here. There are a lot of them. I read Japanese slowly and with some difficulty so I usually glance over there, but there are some interesting ones in there.

One which I found particularly interesting is ネカフェに出勤 ポーカーライフ ("Working at the Net Cafe - Poker Life"). It's written by a Japanese guy who had been working various parttime kind of jobs and then found his interest in poker could make him a similar wage. He quit his part time jobs and has been making his money from online poker. Not uncommon in the States but it's not common here that I know of! It's funny because he says he's renting a cheap apartment here in Tokyo for 50,000yen or so a month, but he has no internet access there. So instead he spends his days at internet cafes, playing online poker there! Which is not a bad environment, since most cafes have free soft drinks, books and comics, music, playstations and other games, and some even have showers and other living amenities for those stuck out after last-train-time and killing time until morning.

None of this comes for free, though, so he notes that he often spends more on his net cafe time charges than he does on his rent! That's impressive. He's still making enough to pay his living expenses, and is actually looking at moving to New Zealand for a while to do the same there. Hell, he's got the right idea - you can do this anywhere, so why stay in Tokyo? Go see the world!

Okay, yeah, maybe I am a bit envious.

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