Archive for May, 2010

Rio- Rock Climbing, Beach pictures, Hang gliding

Rio has been quite fun the last few days…this city has a ton to offer, and I’m trying to take advantage of it.

I decided I wanted to go rock climbing again, mainly because the first time was a bit too easy. I decided to use the same guide as I had before; he was both friendly as well as very skilled. The primary climb I did was called “via Italiano” or “The Italian”…most of it was 5.9-5.9+ for the most part, and he described it as a more technical climb than more sporty.

Most of the climbing was slab climbing, where balance and technique were more important than pure strength. Given my current pathetic strength, I was happy to be able to use more footwork and balance.

The weather was really great, albeit a bit windy. I wasn’t able to take any pictures either, unfortunately, as I was always belaying or climbing.

This was about a 280m climb, we did maybe 4 pitches. Here is the way (I think) I went up Sugar loaf mountain (same mountain as before)-

All in all, a great climb. I had a fantastic time. My feet hurt quite a bit (I have bad feet) and it was alot of toe work…that said, I think I did alright for the most part.

The day after I decided to go biking around the area. I only went around the large lake (a natural lagoon) and surrounding beaches (copacobana and ipanema/leblon). The lagoon was a really nice ride and only 5 miles.

Today I went hang gliding. It was a bit pricey ($150) but still very fun. It was about a 3 hour process and we were driven up to the top of a cliff, where dozens of other hang gliders (and paragliders) were stationed.

I thought it would be scarier than it was but it wasn’t all bad. The guide pretty much told me to hold his shoulder lightly and to haul ass off the run way…the scariest part was probably making the run off the runway and into straight air. After that it was all gravy.

I haven’t decided how long I’m staying in Rio yet…My initial plan was to leave tomorrow and head for Sao Paulo and continue my journey, but I just don’t know anymore. Most people I’ve talked with have had little to say about Sao Paulo, citing that the “city was shit” and not really worth it. I might just end up staying here for a bit longer and skipping SP, instead heading south to Florianopolis and then to Iguazu.

I feel like the first part of my trip was so hustle hustle. And now I’m just dicking around all day, being a pile of shit. Really, I only have one more mark off the list, which is Iguazu…shouldn’t take that long to get there either. I’ll go to Buenos Aires as well…and then back to Peru. Meh…Rio rules.

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Rio- City Tour

I decided to do a city tour today…initially I wanted to do this early on (obviously makes more sense) but the weather sucked…Unfortunately the weather sucked again today, so it was all for nothing. With that said, I still had a good time.

We first went up to see the Christ Redeemer statue. This is the statue seen in all the postcards such as this-

Anyways, we saw a monkey on the way up-

Here was a fancy hotel that went out of business…soccer players used to stay here after matches and were the primary guests. It was abandoned in the 50s? (Mightve been earlier) and the government owns it now-

The view up there was fantastic, and you could see a full 360 degree view around the city…though, you couldn’t see the west side (which has the City of God favela, more on this later) due to mountains.

We went to Santa Theresa, an old neighborhood that features alot of art. It was occupied by many French and Portuguese immigrants, and the architecture shows it.

here was a funny painting –

The story is this- Adriano is a famous player from Brazil who also plays/has played in European club teams in the past. He had the opportunity to play on the current national team for the upcoming world cup this June but rejected it, mainly due to his constant partying. The picture shows Adriano riding a bike, away from the national team. He recently bought two very nice bikes; one for himself and the other for a childhood friend from his favela, who is now a drug lord. This raised alot of controversy in current news. I believe he’s going back to Italy to play, though, I could be wrong.

Afterwords we went to the Lapa steps in Santa Theresa. These are the work of Selaron, a Chilean artist who is famous around the world. He has a bizarre infatuation with a black pregnant woman, and she is in every piece of his art.

Here is me and the crazy looking artist, Selaron (I bought a $5 tile and had him sign it, pretty cool)-

After driving around some more and seeing other parts of the city (Centro, etc), we went to the waterfalls in Tijuca National Park.

The waterfalls are pretty cool there-

We saw another mountain…I can’t recall it’s name. There was a gorilla face on it and it was named as such-

The stories and anecdotes were very interesting. City of God (popular from the movie) was an area in the west where the government provided electricity and water. They said “Come here! Come here!” and the people did. The government did not hold up their end of the bargain however, and the people suffered. From the start of its existence, the City of God was a favela, a slum.

The police are really cracking down these days on the favelas. They are just occupying the areas completely, cracking down on the gangs and violence. Our driver said that the average number of muggings is very low now in Copacabana, the area next to mine (ipanema). They want this city much cleaner than it currently is (crime wise) for the upcoming World Cup and Olympics, in 2014 and 2016, respectively.

Not sure what I’ll be doing the next few days. I’m tentatively planning on climbing on Thursday…I also want to scuba dive once but reading the prices here it seems like they rip you off. Whatever…not sure how much longer I’ll be in rio…maybe until Sunday?

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Rio- Rock climbing and Soccer (Football) Match

Haven’t updated in a few days, just been chilling out. The beach is really nice here, but I have no pictures because I don’t want my camera to get stolen. I’ll probably end up bringing my bag today and take a few photos.

I decided to go rock climbing with a guide on Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio. This is one of the two main tourist attractions, with the Christ.

The climb itself was pretty easy…I made the decision to do the easier climb (something like a 5.7-5.8 for the most part) instead of doing the intense one (5.10+). This was the first time I’ve done a multi-pitch climb and I’m lucky that I was with a guide (I don’t know nearly enough with regards to tying knots, etc). I paid ~$60 (USD) for the day and he picked me up around 1 in the afternoon. The mountain is very cool and offers many hikes/treks/climbs, as well as an excellent view of the city.

Some of the shrubbery bouldering-

First pitch-

I was actually able to lead this one, my first lead outdoors. It was pretty easy, probably a 5.7 or something…also very short:

From the top view of Sugar Loaf-

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Last night I decided I wanted to see a soccer (football) match. I haven’t ever seen one in person and I enjoy sports, so I was quite excited. The two teams were Flamengo and another that escapes me…I don’t think that either team is tremendously popular and the game itself was fairly one sided (Flamengo seemed like the much better team, always attacking, always on offense).

The stadium wasn’t really filled at all. Here is a pre-game shot-

Anyways, Flamengo won the game 3-1, scoring two goals off penalty kicks. During half time there was this old dude who dribbled the ball like a billion times…impressive stuff.

Overall, pretty fun. I’m excited that I’ll be down here for the world cup…definitely going to rep U.S.A. (america, fuck yeah)…not that we’ll make it very far. I think I’ll probably do a city tour tomorrow, climb the next day, rest the day after, and then do scuba diving the day after that. That is the general plan (I think)…?

Really loving Rio so far…favorite city on this trip. Not even sure how long I’ll end up staying…maybe 1.5 weeks or something. I also think I’ve gained like 5 pounds since I’ve been here, wrecking whatever progress I made in Bolivia with regards to losing weight/cutting body fat %.

Here is a cool Nike World Cup commercial as well.

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Rio de Janiero -Favelas

I traveled all night from Santa Cruz, Bolivia towards my destination of Rio. My flight was at 4:40 a.m. and I slept in the hotel lobby until about 1…The flight to Sao Paulo lasted about 5 hours and I periodically slept throughout the day for 1-3 hours at a time.

Some background on Rio

I didn’t get into Rio until about 4 p.m. the next day, a 12 hour journey. I probably got ripped off at the airport for a taxi, paying about $30 for my ride to ipanema, the touristy area of town. For reference, about $2 Reais (Brazilian currency) = $1 USD (approximately). My area has many stores/shops around and seems very modernized. I think it’s probably going to be fairly safe all around. I ate subway for dinner and was actually somewhat craving a decently made sandwich (it was excellent…I’m so pathetic).

Rio is an incredibly beautiful city. It’s surrounded by mountains, and has a ton of lakes/beach areas throughout. I know there is a ton to do here and the city offers alot- great night life, tons of outdoors stuff, relaxing at the beach, etc.

I plan on rock climbing, scuba diving, maybe some other stuff. I wanted to take the city tour the first day I was here (today), but the weather kindve sucks. I’ll probably end up doing a city tour later on in the week, hopefully when it is a bit nicer outside. Unfortunately, the weather is probably going to suck for most of my duration in Rio, as I saw mostly cloudy skies as a weekly forecast.

Today I decided I wanted to do a Favela tour. It cost $R 65 and lasted about 3 hours. We went into Rocinha, the largest favela in South America, home to 200,000 people.

We parked our van outside of the favela and rode on the backs of motor bikers up the hill. We walked down throughout the favela.

A favela is defined as a ‘slum’ or ‘ghetto’ in English terms. The area is very poor, with a mix of both regular trades (shop, restaurant owners, other commodities such as internet cafes or pastries) as well as the drug trade. The primary drug of choice is cocaine, which is imported from Bolivia and Colombia. Brazil does not grow cocaine and has minimal marijuana growth as well. Both are imported into the favelas, who then export various drugs both within the favela and outside.

The drug business is profitable, bringing in about $1 million + a month. The area that we visited was ran by ADA, or Amigos dos Amigos.

The most dangerous times were “all day” our guide said. The worst cases are when the police come into the favelas on drug raids, oftentimes early in the morning (5-6 a.m.). He said that the drug dealers don’t want to be caught (obviously) and use a variety of weapons to elude capture (rocket launchers, machine guns, grenades).

We walked by one drug dealer who had a gun in his pants. We were assured that everything was safe and cool, as long as we were with our guide. These tours are actually quite popular with tourists and our proceeds help fund some of the day cares within the favela.

We met with local shop owners and ate some home made pastries. We also heard some local kids making street music, using metal bins and other tools as drums. We tipped the kids after. Our guide urged us not to give any of the street kids free money, even with them knowing 3 words in English- “Money”, “hi”, and another word that escapes me. He wanted to teach them to learn how to do stuff for money, be it make music, paintings, or other jobs.

He told us an interesting story: Some favela guys stole a crate of machine guns from the army head quarters, hiding them within the favela. Within hours the army stormed in, bringing hundreds of soldiers, tanks, and armed vehicles within the favela. He said it was a demonstration of power and sent the message to “not fuck with the army”. Even though the drug lords fought with the local police (who are highly specialized in urban warfare), they didn’t fuck with the army. The army got a local call from someone within the favela telling them where the guns were located and the army vacated shortly after.

The tour lasted about 3 hours round trip and was well worth it. It didn’t seem tremendously dangerous, as the residents were friendly and the mood being pretty nice overall…that said, I’m sure that we saw the tamer areas with fewer drug dealers.

This made me think about some of the nasty areas in the U.S., places like New Orleans, Baltimore, Compton, etc…I wonder how they compare?

Probably going to spend tomorrow rock climbing and then going to the beach. Need to find a bathing suit. Rio is looking to be pretty fun…

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Turn and Pot Control

I haven’t written any poker content for a while, so here is something short I wrote up-

There have been many changes over the years in the strategies employed in 6-max NL holdem. From wider 3-bet ranges to turning hands into bluffs, these are but a few concepts that were relatively unseen in many of the NL games of yesteryear.

Further, the concept of ‘pot control’ is another such tactic. In the past, we often learned to check the turn with a marginal hand (hands that could not stand a check/raise). This was to keep the pot smaller and to induce villain to bluff the river.

(one short example): Villain opens MP, you call BTN with 77. Flop T42r, villain bets, you call. Turn 6, villain checks, you check for pot control.

The idea is fine in theory…at least against some players. A spazzy donk will bet the river, not hand reading, not understanding why you would check the turn and call the river (surely you must be weak!).
But, as stated previously, the games have changed. Better players are more numerous; higher skilled and more aggressive than previous years. Further, they can hand read, which negates the entire purpose of this pot control turn play.

Here is why it is often better to bet the turn with most all of your range in a single raised pot (pf) in position (with the idea of you having a marginal value hand on the turn in position)–

-Checking messes up your hand strength . When you check back the turn, you rarely have a set. Or an overpair. Or 2pair…or anything strong. When you check back the turn, you have a marginal showdown hand, be it TPNK or worse.

-This makes it easy for villains to check/raise bluff the river, an easy solution to counter the check back turn. He knows that you can never really be hugely strong (few villains at SSNL are tricky enough to do this).

-Along with the strength of your hand, checking messes up your value range. Hands that normally might call one bet are more likely to call on the turn than the river (after you check the turn that is). Take the same above example (the 77 hand on T42r board). Villain will probably think that you’re floating some % of the time and will check/call that turn with a wide variety of hands, bet it a pair or A high or whatever.

He’s often going to continue betting himself with a strong hand (Tx+), and like yourself, he’s rarely going to be tricky enough to check/call the turn with a monster. (check/raise is in consideration, but facing a c/r, it’s an easy dump vs. most all opponents).

So against a good hand reader, villain knows that you have a value hand (marginal or w/e) once you check that turn…he knows you’re going to call one river bet, thus lowering his bluffing frequency. So why would he check/call the river with like…A high or whatever?

-Villain often won’t have a hand to check/call either the turn or river. As stated, I think that most TAG players will typically bet/bet/bet with most strong hands (and obviously there are exceptions). Many times, checking for pot control does little, mainly because villain won’t bluff the river and he won’t call a river bet (once you check the turn). So with that in mind, I think it’s better to at least protect your hand a little bit (and often a bet gives you the same result (him folding) only the turn is better for these reasons listed). If villain isn’t bluffing river and he’s probably not going to call either street, I’d rather not give him the 10-20% equity freeroll or whatever on the turn.

-Checking the turn negates your bluffing range. Oftentimes we float against straightforward players. By betting the turn (with a variety of hands), we give ourselves so much more leverage when in position. Villain cannot simply think to himself “alright, I can call now and he won’t bet the river”…villain knows that if he himself has a marginal hand (which, he often will given that he checks the turn…I would say most just bet/bet/bet with a strong hand) and he can’t often take heat. Now villain has to worry about the river.

-I also think that it’s going to be better (typically) to bet draws on the turn as well. Many players are autopiloting, c-betting the flop and just c/f-ing from there. While there are obvious merits to checking back the turn with draws (don’t want to get blown off), it’s usually not a huge deal anyways since you a) don’t typically have much SD value and thus not much equity in general.

Now, there are obviously times when checking the turn can be fine (and IS the correct play). Against weaker opponents it can definitely be the optimal line… This post was stated in a broader sense, in an overall game plan.

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