Thursday, 6 November 2014

My Extensive iPhone 6 Review

I've been using iPhones for 6 years now, if the math is correct, as I seem to be snapping up the "whole" numbered ones, like not the S's! I've had the 4, the 5 and now the 6. I have had this phone for a few weeks now and wanna do an honest review on the phone....

If you don't have time to read my War and Peace recital, just scroll down to the conclusion.


Apple post Steve Jobs

Apple has done a pretty poor job of innovating and staying ahead of the tech market since Steve Jobs died. Since he passed there hasn't really been that many new products that has wow'd everyone like the iPod or iPad, or taking Macbook Air out of an envelope. They have released new models of course, but pretty much everything is lighter, faster, and smaller... but that shouldn't be the main feature of these products, they are the standard.



Unfortunately the iPhone 6 falls into this category of "uninnovative".  Nothing really stands out about this phone in comparison to the 5. It is faster, lighter, flatter and has a bigger screen. But the design is the same, and there are only 3 colours. It has surprised me that they haven't even tried to release different designs or the rumoured more "affordable" design option.

The Look
  • Bigger Size, Taller and Thinner - I'm not a huge fan of the bigger size actually, it doesn't seem as pocket friendly, but on the flipside it is great for watching YouTube or playing games. I personally like the size of from the original iPhone 4, but its understandable that Apple has decided to go this direction with the sizing being similar as HTC and Samsung phones.
  • Lighter - The weight of the 6 is very good. It seemed that they compromised with the metalic material of the iPhone 4/5 and went with a more plasticy aluminum(?). It does still feel metallic, just a different type of the 5.
  • Lock Button Moved to the Side - This seems to be the biggest change of the 6 to the 5! It is a good move though, so that everything can be done with one hand. The problem with the lock button on the top was that as these phones got bigger, it made it harder for people's fingers to reach it. However, its gonna take some getting used to, I've tried to press the lock at the top of the phone on multiple occasions.
  • Bigger Volume Buttons - Volume buttons are bigger, and a rounded rectangular shape now. This move I don't really understand. The main problem with the shape of the new volume buttons is that they actually feel very similar to the lock button now. In fact after looking closely I actually think they are the same button! I've accidently pressed them a few times thinking that its the lock button. I think they should have left the 5's round buttons, I thought they were quite slick, and was sad to see them go.
  • Camera Sticking Out a Bit - Some people might have issue with the fact that the camera at the back is sticking out slightly, meaning that when you put the phone down on a table it doesn't sit flush to it when facing upwards. I don't think this is a big thing for me though, as I would put it in my pocket a lot of the time, and I don't really see how that would effect anything really. The camera has more improvements so its understandable that the lens is bigger.
  • Rounded Edges - One of the biggest gripes of the 6's design is the fact that they have gone back to the rounded edges which reminds everyone of the original iPhone 1 and 2! I do agree that the flatter edges of the 4 and 5 do look much better, however I don't think its a big thing for me. My theory is that Apple decided that the flatter edges were a lot more easily damaged and chipped, so it was better to go with the rounded ones? Or it could also have something to do with the technology working better with the rounded edges possibly, as I remember they had problems with it when they first released the 4. Who knows? 
The Software
  • Touch ID -  Is it me or is this something that was added to the 5S that didn't really seem to be advertised as much? Anyways, Touch ID is where Apple has made the home button a fingerprint scanner (kinda). Basically uses your fingerprint as an way to ID you and unlocks the phone. When I first heard about this idea I thought that it was a pretty useless idea, trying to gimmick its way into adding another perk to the phone. However, after using it for a few months I'm genuinely impressed, and I have changed my mind about this and think its a useful feature. Swiping to unlock isn't practical sometimes and it isn't secure, but your thumb naturally is on the home button when you get the phone out, so unlocking the phone much better then before. On top of that, using it to buy apps instead of putting in the password every time is great. I actually cant wait to use ApplePay when that comes out in UK (most likely next year), as using your phone to pay for things using Touch ID sounds like a great idea. The question is whether there will be enough stores to have this implemented for this to actually be useful.

  • Reachability - Apple has spent some time in thinking about how the phone acts ergonomically and one of the main complaints is the fact that its ever increasing size is leading it towards it not being a one handed gadget anymore. They have tried to solve this problem by adding the Reachability feature, which is where you double tap the home button, and it moves the screen downwards so that you can reach the buttons at the top. It does seem pretty cool at how much extra tech they've added to the home button, but this feature seems kind of redundant. Firstly, it seems to have no mention of it in any of its websites, so when this happened I was totally confused as to what was going on with my screen. Next, it takes a lot of getting used to and remembering that it is actually there, I think most people (including myself) just use the other hand to reach. I've always thought that the iPhone 4 was the perfect size, and with folders never really understood why Apple kept making the phone longer and longer.
  • 4G - I finally gave up on Vodafone after 2 phones and decided to go with EE. In fact, Vodafone called me up near the end of my contract to try to convince me to stay, but that call cut off due to the lack of signal... in my home! I've gone with EE and so far things are pretty good. 4G is literally everything you wanted mobile phone internet to be. Websites load fast, YouTube works great, even watching on iPlayer... on a train was seamless! Word to the wise though, be careful with watching streams on HD, it eats up your data usage quick! Oh, and 2 for 1 Orange Wednesdays and Pizza Express deal with EE is really nice!
  • Memory - So as expected, everything is jacked up. The chip is faster and I haven't had any problems. iOS8 works great on the phone (not so great on older iPads though), and I have a whopping 16 GB storage. Actually that isn't a lot. However, with streaming movies, and not really having all my music on the phone, I really don't need that much memory so its ok for me. But the decision that they would only have 16 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB storage models baffles me. Skipping the 32 GB which seems like the perfect size (had it for my 5) seems like a mistake to me. 16 GB is fine for me, but way to small for others most likely, considering that iOS8 takes up 5GB. 64/128 GB seems way too much unless your planning on uploading all seasons of Friends onto your phone (I think I did House MD). It does seem that Apple has really lost the mark by not selling a 32 GB model and/or not including some possible add on for expanding memory.
  • Battery Life - When travelling with my iPhone, I am using it almost all the time. I'll be listening to music, playing games, taking pictures/movies, checking Facebook, watching movies and looking at the map. With this much demand on it didn't surprise me that the iPhone 5 would run out of battery on a full day's work. So I'd carry my charger wire and MU plug with me which is fine.The battery life has improve significantly with the 6. Its quite impressive. I've watched like 2 hours worth of shows, plus playing Fruit Ninja, Tiny Tower Vegas, and Big 2 for another 2 hours, whilst listening to music and it still had plenty to spare!
The MU Plug which can fit in your coat pocket!

***Skip to here if don't have time to read all that up there!***




Conclusions

The Good
  1. Its lighter, faster, bigger screen, better resolution, Apple still has the most responsive touch screen in my opinion.
  2. Touch ID is a good useful feature, can see it working with Apply Pay when that comes out.
  3. Lock button is moved to the side.
  4. Higher pixel camera.
  5. iOS8 works seamlessly and I still think the Apple interface is the simplest to use.
  6. Longer battery life!
The Bad
  1. Not a big fan of making the phones taller and taller, not that pocket friendly.
  2. Volume buttons and Lock button are literally the same, leads to some confusion when feeling for the buttons.
  3. Not a big fan of the rounded edges or the plastic metallic material, I think the 4/5 models look cooler.
  4. No implementation of expanding memory still.
Its really disappointing that Apple hasn't implemented a super cheap model of the iPhone, or even release more different models. It kind of feels like that they're satisfied with just going for one model and making it as good as they can. I upgraded my iPhone from the 5 to the 6, because I could, but in reality I wasn't super hyped about it that much, and continuing to use the 5 would have been fine.

The best advice I can give comes from NXIS a tech channel I follow who did a review for it. If you like iPhone, then get it, if you don't, then don't get it. Because this iPhone isn't gonna change your mind if you like Samsung or HTC. I like iPhones so I'm happy with this model. Battery life and Touch ID are the biggest things for me. Anyways, hope that helps if your deciding!



Friday, 1 August 2014

Hype For Hypers!

Well its been a while since I did a poker blog, so much so that its probably not as clear whether I'm still playing or not. Well I am, but last month I decided to finally end my run at the Turbo STTs and move to Hyper STTs.

HELLO HYPER TURBOS


Welcome to the crazy world of Pokerstars Hyper Turbo Sit and Go's! These are 9 man games, top 3 get paid and blinds are a super fast 2 minutes long! You start with 500 chips, which is 25 big blinds, and blinds have antes from the get go! If you love going all in all the time, maybe this is the game for you!!

Its quite funny because I've come full circle from when I started playing online. When I started I actually grinded Full Tilt's Super Turbos when I managed to get rakeback for my account, and basically was breakeven and made my money through that. Super Turbos were 300 chips, and 2 minute blind shovefests too.. so crazy! But there was no ante.

The next year I decided to go for Pokerstars Turbos Single Table Tournaments, and with my Poker VT account managed to stay breakeven haha. With that I decided to hire a coach who was awesome at the games and did a ton of work with him. The year after that I tried my hand at 180 man tournaments, but soon realised I didn't like the long sessions and found I couldn't keep concentration. So last year, I "bounced" back to Turbo STTs, and also decided that I'd be happy with some rakeback, so it was a target of mine to get back Supernova. More staking coaching deals, and more studying prevailed. Last month, out of staking and on my own dosh, I made the jump to hypers. My turbos haven't been great results but man have I learned a lot from the best guys. Really thanks to them for putting up with a newbie like me probably annoying them all the time asking tons of questions. A lot of the stuff is so helpful now in hypers. 

Misconceptions about Hyper Turbos;
  • There is no post flop play.
  • You cannot raise/fold.
  • It is a shovefest, so therefore there is no skill or strategy.
  • It reg infested and therefore not a profitable game
What I didn't realise was that there was less rake in these games, meaning more money in the prize pool. In fact the prize pool was comparable to the old $16 Turbo STTs before they changed it. A win in a hyper gives you about 4 buy ins back, compared to the current turbos where it is only 3. However, because there is less rake, the ability to earn a lot more VPPs is less then the turbos. So there is some give/take.

Even Ronaldo loves these games! How can you argue with that?!


Call Yourself A Professional?



A friend of mine who used to play poker online was chatting to me the other day on facebook and something he said really resonated with me. He said, "The one thing I regret about back then is that I didn't treat it like a professional."

Then I thought... well actually am I? Probably not when you compare it to the other great players around. In fact what a lot of people don't realise is how hard some of the top top guys work, especially in studying off the tables. If I was working 9-5 in an office, I should theoretically dedicate the same amount of time to studying and working. 

I dunno where I heard the quote from but its so true. "Once you stop learning and trying to improve, it'll come back and bite you in the ass". For sure this was a big leak in my game. I had come back to STTs last year and thought that I knew it all, and thought that they were easy games. What is shocking to me is how much I didn't know, and how far away I was from the best. Now I'm more motivated then ever to keep improving and learn to be better and better. With that attitude the results will come.

So a few weeks I decided to do a Poker Diary. Every session I would mark some problem hands and then check it the day after before my session. This would help "warm me up" and get me ready to play. I'd write down my findings and maybe some other thoughts I had. I probably wouldn't even read it later on, but the point was to write that stuff down to solidify my workings out and also as a type of therapeutic evaluation.

So far this has helped me a lot, especially in these games where there can be a lot of very strange bubble situations since everyone can be so short stacked.


As a pro its hard to organize yourself because you just have too much free time. So creating a structure and a schedule is all up to you. Having something like this is great because it adds to that timetabling of things to do, instead of just jumping straight into the tables. So far things have been going well, but I'm not holding my breath, these games are high variance and I just want to concentrate on playing well whether I run good or bad.

July Results. Started out playing lesser tables to get used to things and the structure. Now sticking to 16 tabling.
Hopefully August can be good too. Hopefully I can keep the same focus and motivation.

And to end, probably one of the worst bad beats in history, in the 2nd One Million Dollar buy in for the One Drop at WSOP. 2% chance still happens but you just hope its not at a point where its super important!





Thursday, 17 July 2014

World Cup Brazil

This has been the best World Cup in a long while. For me, probably the best one since I was old enough to remember. In saying that football is still pretty boring to me most of the time. My personal prediction is like 1 in 10 matches are good to watch, and that's just too low of a percentage to bother watching full matches all the time. But statistically this World Cup has had more goals, less sending offs and generally a much higher quality (especially from the lesser sides) in tactics and skill.


WHAT A DIFFERENCE A BALL MAKES

The Brazuca was one of the most highly tested balls in World Cup history. One of the most disappointing things about World Cup South Africa, was the unpredictability of the ball, leading to huge miscalculations in power, overhitting crosses and strange path flights. This meant that games were effected, with lower passing accuracy, less shots on target and therefore less goals. It was amazing how far off the standard ball they had come, especially for professionals who expect and has trained with a certain standard.



It is comprised of 6 uniquely shaped panels, and surrounded by pimples, which allow the aerodynamics of the ball to flow more consistently through it. Every beach ball you have kicked is totally smooth, and that (as well as its super light weight) makes it fly through the air in an unexpected fashion. This was the emphasis for the design, and extensive testing was done to make sure that this wouldn't happen. BBC has a pretty cool report on the Brazuca.


IN NUMBERS



This year's World Cup actually has equaled the record for number of goals scored since the France 98 World Cup. Whether this is a direct correlation to the design of the ball its hard to say, but it does seem to be that way. The reason that this is hard to prove is because not all goals are scored necessarily by anything that would need the ball in flight long enough to effect it. Things like crossing for headers, long balls, shots from distance would be within this category. However, there are still goals scored from close range, by close passing penalties or even deflections or own goals.

In saying that, there is a direct correlation between exciting games and more goals. No one can deny that this World Cup [which has had more goals] is more exciting then the last one in South Africa. In conjunction with these goals, it does seem that this year's cup seemed to have more aggressive strategies over defensive ones. Not that I'm saying that defense wasn't important, the top tier teams have great defenses (maybe not Brazil lol). My theory is that since Brazil did not need to qualify, there was an extra spot for another South American team to qualify. South America got 5 spots where Uruguay won the play off, so in total there are 6 South American teams, and we might as well add Mexico to that list as well. Why? Because South American football is known to be very aggressive end to end football, where it seems that offense is more emphasized over defense. 

Brazil 2014 also saw a substantial drop in bookings. Maybe something was said to the referees to keep them down, as from an entertainment point of view players getting sent off and/or missing matches because of multiple bookings doesn't make for good football viewing. Whatever was said, it was apparent that there were hardly any bookings at beginning of matches, but more so later in the game, when referees had given fair warning to the players for their constant fouling.


AWARDS

Best Goal - James Rodriguez in Columbia vs Uruguay



Best Match - Germany vs Brazil Semi Final

This was my favorite match of the tournament, but in an unconventional way. The traditional match of the tournament typically is where both teams are playing amazingly and it really close. But here, its about how one team just fell apart under the weight of its nation, and the other completely ruthlessly outclassing them without mercy. All 8 goals in this semi final were awesome, the Brazilian defense was terrible. One of the goals was even scored within seconds of kicking off again after conceding! It was a testament to actually how far Brazil had progressed in the tournament when they really shouldn't have.

Final score =  Germany 7-1 Brazil

Classic Internet Reaction!

Coolest Tactic - Holland vs Costa Rica

A never before seen strategy of substituting your goalkeeper for the soul purpose of when going to penalties was done by Van Gaal as he brought on Tim Krul. Holland had previously only had one penalty shootout in 98 and Van Gaal had decided to preemptively prepare something for it. When interviewed afterward Van Gaal said that he had decided that this was what he was going to do, as Tim Krul was taller and had a longer reach. Tim Krul also played "mindgames" with the shooters by telling them he knew where they were going to shoot and showcasing confidence during the penalties.

It is going to be very hard to prove that this tactical move is something that would have an edge in penalties because of the lack of sample size that this specific opportunity would happen. But in theory having a taller, bigger reaching, and don't forget much fresher keeper, in comparison to the kicker who will be tired from playing for 2 hours, should get as much edge as possible from penalties. However, lets not kid ourselves, penalties is massively in favor of the kicker always. I mainly like this because he realized that Holland did not have a good record in penalties, and decided to do something about it.

Ironically Holland lost in the Quarter Finals in the next round to Argentina... in penalties. But Van Gaal had used up all his substitutions by this time and stated later on in an interview that he would have subbed out Tim Krul again.



Best Managerial Celebration - Miguel Herrera (Mexico)

How can you not like a guy that is as passionate as him?



Worst Managerial Celebration - Roy Hodgson (England)



This is our England manager. Celebrating after our 0-0 draw with Costa Rica. Why is he celebrating? I have no idea because this is England's worst World Cup performance since 1958. Since then England has always qualified past the group stages and made the knockout stage.

But what he greatest skill is actually creating an air of mediocrity and low expectation. That is a quote not from myself, but actually my friend who is a Liverpool fan, and Hodgson was a manager of them for a year. So whilst everyone is saying classic Hodgson style excuses like "It was a good effort" (it really wasn't), and  "We lack skilled players", we look over at Costa Rica, USA, Chile, Mexico who played with heart and drive and made it work as far as they could go.

Despite our worst World Cup since 1958, we are keeping our manager (mainly coz he's a lot cheaper then a foreign manager, of which we had much better results), and we will continue to be mediocre until he is replaced. We actually waste the talent of our generations by getting bad managers, and our attitude in England is terrible... the worst actually, because it is a disaster and we need to fix it, but Hodgson has convinced everyone otherwise.


New Stuff / Doh! Award - 

Goal Line Technology - Ironically goal line technology is here! Annnnd we didn't use it at all lol. But of course its super useful and taken ages to implement after the stubborn FIFA representatives thought that human error is all part of the game. (wat -_-). Yeah lets look around us and NFL, Rugby, Cricket, and lots of other sports are already using video replay.

Cooling Breaks - Another unbelievable obvious thing that has only been implemented this year. With players out in like 35 degree heat, it actually becomes dangerous to play. So finally something was done where every half, of half time would be breaks to get water and cool down.

Foam Spray - This actually is not a "doh" obvious thing and I genuinely thought it was a fantastic idea. The referee carries a spray foam can around with him so that he can spray temporary lines of how far players can stand away from a free kick, and of where exactly the ball should be placed when taking it. This is great as players are constantly shuffling forward and/or misplacing the ball. With this method, there is no argument or confusion to where they should be.


Strangest Excuse Award - Luiz Suarez (Uruguay)

After Suarez was caught on camera biting an Italian player, he stated that he "lost his balance and hit my teeth against Chielinni"! However the camera clearly shows his intent on hurting the Italian player and was swiftly given a 9 match ban, including the 2nd round match of which Uruguay lost. Strangely enough this is Suarez' 3rd biting incident, so even trying to come up with some kind of defence was a complete joke! A crazy moment for what it seemed to be one of his best seasons ever with Liverpool, and being in great form at the World Cup too.






CONGRATS TO GERMANY, WORLD CUP 2014 WINNERS!

Nearly everyone agrees that Germany were worthy Champions, and showed that they were the best team overall at Brazil. Our stereotypes of Germans are that they are efficient, organised, and don't have a sense of humour. Its hard to say whether this side had a sense of humour, as its quite hard to show that on the pitch but they definitely showed the other two qualities, as well as having a great defense starting with the best goalkeeper in the world, Manuel Neuer.

Germany has a ridiculous World Cup record, only not reaching the Quarter Final stage twice in their history. It is unbelievably consistent, and they keep coming up with generations of great players within their squad.

For me, they showed a great balance of teamwork in their play, unselfishly passing to the player who was in the best position to score, rather then going for solo goals, of which I felt a lot of the iconic players did. Did was shown in their complete demolition of Brazil in the semi final, as nearly all the goals involved 3-4 passes before finally putting it in the net.

Amazingly, Ronaldo's (Brazil) record number of goals scored at World Cups has been broken by Miroslav Klose, with 16 goals to his name. That is, 16 unmemorable goals when compared to Ronaldo, what strikers would call "poacher's goals", meaning that they are goals scored from very close distance to the goal, most of the time tapping it in off a rebound or something. But that is what most managers love to see, doesn't matter what the quality of the goal is, just matters that it goes in.

Defending has come a long way in the game, a lot more knowledge and better execution of things like the offside trap is even prevalent in lesser known teams. However, as the tournament progressed towards the knockout stage, it has become more popular for teams to implement a more defensive "don't wanna lose" style as their squads become more stretched and injures start. The lesser known teams struggle in the later matches, and a lot of the time they will have an attitude of getting to penalties to hope to win. This means that teams are not as willing to go for a more all out attacking style, with no buffer like in the group stages.

However, as shown in the final, Germany did not take that stance. A very defensive Argentinian side with Mascherano leading the backbone, hoping to counter attack with the formidable Messi ready and waiting. They still went for the win, and let themselves be vulnerable and I found it really admirable.

A lot of the teams in this World Cup were basically hoping that their stars would carry them to the win, like Neymar, Robbin, Messi, Rodriguez, and Ronaldo, but in this day and age with the defenders being so good when they're isolated its hard to see what most team's Plan B was.

I'm really glad it didn't go to penalties, as I got a feeling that Argentina wanted. And Germany scored a great goal in extra time to take the competition. It was a much harder chance then the 2 glaring ones that Argentina had, but they took it and won. I think Germany won a lot of people over with their win over Brazil, where everyone (even Brazilians) had to acknowledge the German's great teamwork and skill in scoring those goals, and showing that they were the best team overall in the World Cup 2014.




Sunday, 27 April 2014

Top Terrans! (#TerranHope)


I am going for a record this year with my blogposts, literally looks like I'm gonna do one a month lol. Of course, this isn't good enough really... so hopefully I'll pick up the number soon! The problem is, once I start doing one wanting it to be short and snappy, I get really into it and it ends up being a rewrite of War and Peace!

NEW SEASON NEW MAPS

Season 2 of the ladder is underway and it includes 4 new maps. I don't really know why there are so many new maps this time, usually they add 2 if I recall correctly.

Merry Go Round
Overgrowth
King Sejong Station
Waystation
One thing is for sure, 3rd bases are not easy things to secure on these new maps, especially for Terran. They are quite far away from the Mains and Naturals (2nd), and there are a lot of counter attack paths which make it hard to defend. Merry Go Round's 3rd is so open it seems almost impossible to defend vs Zergs massive swarm. I like Waystation actually for the pro games, it seems kinda interesting to have a spawn which is really close, and another which is far, it can really vary the strategies that players can go for, which is always good for the games.

The previous patch buffing the widow mine to work vs Protoss has helped a little, but if not anything made the match up more exciting to watch if anything. However, the problems with the flexibility of oracle/blink openings still stands.

However, as Terrans are coping with that, Zerg has really shown strength to strength in their games lately. The mass mutalisk/baneling/ling composition is so deadly, combined with the mass queen early game defense and creep spread make it a much tougher matchup. Some might be confused with this recent success since there hasn't been any patching, but the fact is that Zergs simply have been getting better at getting the balance between droning and massing up their units. They have really improved sending in a few zerglings first to set off the mines before attacking, as well as splitting up their banes to not use them all at once. Zergs have stopped 1-A'ing their whole army now expecting to win. One makes me think that the mine nerf vs Zerg wasn't needed at all... just time for them to adjust, which they have now.

With the new maps also being implemented to the pro scene, it does refresh the games and keeps me wanting to see how they adjust. Most of the pro games are typically gonna be setting the trend for whatever us newbies do on ladder too. So what does these tough 3rd expansions mean for Terran? Well I expect a lot of 2 base aggression plays into 3rds, and probably more cheeses (though Terran cheeses are awful). Maybe more implementation of Tanks and Mech. GSL this season has 4 x Terrans vs 14 x Protoss/Zergs... last season there was 3 Terrans... we seem to be a dying breed. With all these things... I also expect a lot of losing Terrans, unless you are imo Maru, Taeja, Polt or Bomber. Kinda expecting a Terran buff soon as we continue to struggle...


WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A TOP TERRAN?

I've based my choices on a number of factors;

The "Standard" Stuff -

Every Terran should know, that Terran is probably the hardest race mechanically. The main thing being... if you don't remember to spend your money, you will lose. This is because when your money goes high and you forget to macro, you cannot simply warp in a ton of units like Protoss, or spawn a ton of units from saved larvae like Zerg. This means that when trading (fighting armies), if you do not remember to build more units as this is happening you will lose.

In saying that, Micro (unit control) is quite high skilled too. Its not as important as Macro, but with the best players it makes a difference. Things like splitting marines vs banelings, stutter stepping (moving backwards, then shooting, then moving backwards vs melee enemies), handling multiple drops, all this whilst making sure that your continuously building stuff at home!

The "Legendary" Stuff - 

The standard stuff is all and well, but the best of the best really sets them apart from the other Terrans. Lets cut to the chase... an easy and important thing is winning (duuh). But not just here and there, but winning consistently. Another factor is setting the trend in Terran builds and/or coming up with their own unique builds and adjust to the current metagames. This combined with having a lot of builds in their arsenal allows them to mix up their plays in longer series like best of 5's or 7s.


MY TOP 3 TERRANS

3. Bomber - The Hipster Terran 
$60,315 Earnings
Bomber's really been around a long time, and since the beginning he has been at the top level. Bomber totally loves marines and embraces them in the builds that he uses. One of the great builds of Bomber is the macro build vs Zerg. When Zergs became more confident over getting fast 3rd bases and being able to defend it, Bomber came up with a counter build that was also itself this greedy by getting fast 3 command centers too, and all the infrastructure that he needed, economy then tons of barracks, meaning tons of marines!! By the 15 minute mark, his build allows him to complete 2-2, with medivac bio (the latest stim and combat shield), and a whopping 100 odd marines going towards the zerg. And with 13 rax's, usually it would be the remax of the army that would end up killing most zergs. Day 9 has a pretty cool analysis of this build.

Another build that Bomber recently popularized got him is WCS Season 2 Finals win. With problems in TvP, he simply threw in the traditional idea of outmacroing the Protoss, he just goes for the kill. Using the knowledge that Protoss is weak during a transition period to storm, he pulls all his workers and doesn't let them get there.

On top of all these builds that he comes up with, there are also cool micro tricks that he developed!



2. Polt - The Fighter
$182,370 Earnings
Polt is awesome and great for the scene. He has good english and generally more open his interviews then the other Korean pro gamers. His breakout tournament was winning a GSL Super Cup in 2011, which was a Terran filled tournament, proving that he was a master at TvT as well as the other matchups.

What sets Polt up apart from the other Terrans is his unit control. He is almost always out on the map for one thing, not being scared to go with small armies. This allows him to scout his opponent if they are moving out for an attack, or he can get scouting information himself by pressuring. On top of this, it allows him to see proxies or help him work out what his opponent is doing. With one army out in the map, usually he macros out another similar size army at home, and that also goes out into the map, meaning that he controls 2 separate armies moving around or dropping all over the place.

I've named Polt the fighter because he has time and time again, been the lone Terran survivor when all others have fallen. This is because he has unique builds that help him survive, as well as the fact that he has such great map control as discussed above.

Notable times are when Zerg first got their queen buff, Polt was the lone survivor in beating Zergs using his hellion banshee composition, a period when he has a pretty cool rivalry with Stephano. Other notable mentions are his marauder hellion all in build vs Zerg, and the hellbat bio composition vs Protoss during the imba-hellbat period.

More recently, he is the TvP killer, almost winning IEM Cologne only playing TvPs, only to fall to Hero in the final. His response to Protoss' mothership core greedy openings and storm? A small group of marines to cause some damage at the beginning, and then a marauder heavy composition quad drop in the main. Continuous drops, multi pronged attacks, constant aggression and map control, make Polt so hard to deal with, but awesome to watch.



1. Taeja - The Rock
$82,588 Earnings

One might look at this and say, well Polt has $100k more earnings then Taeja, so what's going on there? Well Polt got $100k from the Super Cup in 2011, and well that was a long time ago. Polt is WCS America back to back champion as well, but Taeja wining 5 major tournaments last year is just unprecedented in the post Terran nerf period (Literally the only 3 successful Terrans are these 3). Taeja has been unfortunate in not wining the big money tournaments, but it seems only a matter of time.

Taeja is the rock. He will play a macro game, he will get a fast 3 CC, and he can play late late game. He almost never all ins, variates his builds slightly to throw his opponents off. Opponents can try and kill him by all in'ing but he is so solid it is almost impossible to beat him that way. His mid and late game play is so solid, once he gets there it is almost impossible to beat him. In short, he is impossible to beat.

Taeja's ghost control is by far the best. Ghosts are hard to use and during battles difficult to position vs good Protosses who have their templar spread out. But having such good control and awareness of these positions means that his late game TvP is by far the best of all the Terrans in my opinion. A lot of people say that the Terran army if used properly is terrifying vs the Protoss deathball, but using it properly and positioning it properly is not easy at all.




Amazingly, a mirror match up was voted the best game of 2013... Taeja vs Innovation, bio vs mech!



Notable Mentions

Maru - The next new king? With a GSL under his belt looking great. Super tipped to be the next best and up and coming. So damn young! Would be included in my list soon, just needs more wins (just has the one so far) and would like to see him in some overseas events. MarineKing's student has become the master!

TY - Formerly "Baby", has shown some awesome games on Proleague this year. He has the best record for Terrans so far. Very impressed with his creative builds and exploitation of positions on certain maps. Cool, creative stuff!

Innovation - I call him the "Patch Terran" as he was the best hellbat user of them all. But once they had been nerfed his results dwindled, and is lacking consistency at the moment.

Illusion - (My Random NA Foreign Hope) I think his micro is cool, and has some good aggressive builds. Needs taming and adjusting his aggression though, my pick for the next best foreign Terran!

Where is Flash? - We are waiting. He is pretty decent at Proleague, but yet to see any kind of substantial showings at foreign tournaments since his MLG finals last year. I like to call him MechKing, because he loves mech and there is probably no other Terran who is mechanically as solid as him. Unfortunately his builds are predictable and therefore easy to counter... the whole community is waiting for Flash to start crushing!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

So Smashin'...

I watched this documentary about the pro scene in Smash Brothers Melee last night. In fact there are 9 episodes and I ended up watching them all in a row! I'm kinda obsessive like that. I didn't realise that there was such a history with the game, but I remember watching Evo 2013 where it was featured as a "guest" game next to the usual Street Fighters etc...



Smash Bro's Melee differs in other fighting games as it is first and foremost, a "party" game. Anyone can pick it up and play, and enjoy the complete craziness going on. The most common phrase that I hear when people play this game is "Where the hell am I??"! The game can have 4 players all fighting it out on a [kinda] 2D stage. Each player has a % number, and the higher that number is the more prone to being hit further you are. Once you get hit or fall off the stage you lose a life, or in this game called a stock. What is great about this game is that Nintendo has integrated a ton of characters from other games here. There is Zelda, Link, Mario, Luigi, various Pokemon like Pikachu, and Jigglypuff, Kirby, Fox and Falco, Dr Mario, Donkey King to say the least!


I really love this kinda thing, something starting out as a party game and then turning into something else. I remember that I used to play this game with my friends back in London, and how we would all have our own preferences on different characters. I used Kirby because he could jump 5 times, had a bunch of moves which were funny, could "eat" other characters and steal their powers or more hilariously was to eat them then jump off the ledge and spit them out! All in all, he was super cute!

Gameplay screen! % above 100 are very prone to being KO'd off the screen.
I remember watching this at Evo 2013. It was a "guest" fighting game added in, of which they had to fight for their game to be there by having a charity fundraiser vs another game, which managed to raise an insane $95k! Just shows how generous we can be when its something we really care about.

Pro games are 1v1, and contain a lot of advanced techniques that have developed over time. I don't fully understand all of them to be honest but here's the gist of some techniques used;

Wavedashing - This is a way of manipulating the character to slide around faster then usual, in order to dodge attacks or adjust your positioning.
Directional Influence (DI) - Pressing a directional button when getting hit to avoid flying off the screen faster then normal.
Chain Throwing - Repeatedly throwing your opponent in the air multiple times.
Jump Cancelling - In this game all the characters can double jump (Jigglypuff and Kirby can jump 5 times). It can be useful to cancel the 2nd jump a lot of the times, when you want to change your positioning or adjust to your opponent's moves.
Dash Dodging - Involves running towards your opponent and then back dodging when they try to hit you, making them vulnerable once they miss.

More advanced stuff here.

One of the things that I really like about the game is that having your characters fall off the edge really adds to the strategy of the game. Its not just about combos, and then once you have a lead being defensive. But that element adds more strategies to how you can fight your way back into the game when behind. Things like having combos ending with a downsmash whilst in the air KO'ing your opponent off the edge, or staying by a ledge to make your opponent unable to get back on the stage (known as Ledge Hogging) are some other elements that are unique to this game.

I've heard that they will be introducing Smash Brothers Melee again at MLG Anahiem, so next to Starcraft I can wait to watch this!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Double Live Win! What Are The Odds?

Wow, been pretty lazy with the blogging lately, dunno why but from looking at it seems that this happens in Feb. At least one a month! Should do more really... blogging is pretty therapeutic!

My friend really loves live poker compared to online poker, so he's been dragging me along to play at the Milton Keynes Casino. It is a pretty good place for poker actually, there is a dedicated room for poker at the back. I personally don't really like live that much, when your playing 18 tables at the same time, you kinda become a bit of an action junkie, and then dropping down to just one... with 1/4 speed of dealing too (prob even slower then that) then it become more unappealing.

Since he's gotten a few Tuesdays off, we would play snooker in the day and then head off to play the £20 1xRebuy Tournament which started at 7pm. Interestingly enough, it has a 2 hour late registration, and also a 1k Chip Add on if you register on time. You start with 8000 chips and blinds are 20 mins long and starts at 25/50. So that is quite deep stacked games! However, the traffic is not that high, so both weeks we got only 26 buy ins and had like 3 tables lol. What makes this more bearable is that its very likely that my friend would move to my table and we can banter a bit.

There's nothing more satisfying then knocking out your friend in Poker. That happened last night as he shoved 22 from early position, another guy called with 55 and I shipped the pot with 88. I did my best Tony G impersonation to the shock of the rest of the table on how rude I was at berating my friend!

"ON YOUR BIKE!! OFF U GO!! CALL URSELF A PROFESSIONAL?? YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF" =D




DIFFERENCES OF LIVE AND ONLINE

There are quite a few notable differences between live and online poker. Apart from the obvious ones like one is sitting in front of a computer, and the other being sitting in a room with other people in a casino durrr. I'm talking about tendencies really... which makes it quite interesting.
  1. Chip Counting/Management - From a practical side of things, having the number on the screen is quite useful when trying to work out how many chips everyone has. But in live poker, this can be quite difficult to know. If you ask them their stack size, they are not obliged to tell you, but must let you be able to see it. The dealer is not allowed to count it for you, unless he is all in (rules may vary in different casinos). This can become problematic when there are short stacks around the table usually not making their chip stacks very visible. You don't want to raise to steal the blinds and then suddenly end up having to call off because of the odds. However, you do have a looooot of time on your hands in comparison to online poker, so you should be aware of these things.
  2. Limping Doesn't Necessarily Mean Weak Early Tournament - This is one of the biggest things I've noticed. In online poker, the fish will limp, but will almost always be weak. But in live poker, I've seen it so many times that newbies will limp in with "hand that they wanna play" and then if shoved on they will call with their 88+ AJ+ kinda range. So you have to be careful with your shoving over limps. I remember once in Manchester I was playing a tournament and a newbie limped JJ UTG and I shoved 88 (was last 2 tables), he tanked for ages and folded face up. Wow. Yes, this kinda goes against what I just said, but just highlighting the fact that he limped JJ. Just makes me think... what kinda hand do they need before they raise??
  3. Pocket Pairs are Totally Overvalued - Fish love pocket pairs and just cant let them go. And I'm talking when we are playing post flop... with like 4 overs on the board. The logic is that when you continuation bet after you've hit, do you get value? What can you opponent have that calls your bets? Well in the case of live poker, from what I've seen, pocket pairs just seem to pay off those kinda bets!
  4. And Calling BVB is Too Tight - In online poker the randoms seemed to have improved on working out the ranges for knowing what to call blind vs blind. On top of that, the stacks are literally there in writing. But in live, especially in the later stages of the tournament, players tighten up and just don't realise how much the antes add to the pot. I've shoved a many a times, and have a fishy player just think for ages and fold showing his Ax. 
  5. Old Skoolers Love Limping, Hate All Ins and Love to Show - And typically hate online poker as well. They wanna see flops and play based on "skill". However, we all know that shoving is an important part of survival, and so its an easy way of exploiting this fact. If you stay chatty and friendly with the old skoolers, they will love to show! Don't forget to compliment them on their showing and how well they played the hand!


To be honest its pretty weird because most of the time I will play live is because one of my friends want to play it instead. My live results have not been bad at all, I've definitely shipped quite a few (prob 20+?) from Casinos and Cardrooms in my lifetime. Maybe its good value after all for me?? =D


THE DOUBLE WIN + AN INTERESTING HAND

I never really expected to ship both tournaments. I was actually just hoping to get itm (in the money) which was 3rd place, so once I achieved that I was pretty happy. What is great about live though is the personal experience you go through when playing. Its like a journey. Which is why I think there are so many "purists" who like that idea and reject playing online, as online loses its personalability. 

Most of the hands that are played are pretty normal 50/50 flips pocket pair vs 2 overs kinda thing. Also a bunch of AA/KK/QQ big pots holding up. Its great for me because no one knows me or my skill level, and I can play on that image by being a chatty [pretty seemingly stupid] guy, but throughout the time I'm paying attention to everything and exploiting everyone as best as I can. 

An interesting hand came up yesterday at the final table. I'm bad with memory but it goes something like this.

Blinds 800/1600/200 ante or something like that.
8 Players remain.
Myself, UTG, and UTG+2 are big stacks.

UTG open limps.
UTG+2 calls.
Middle Position short stack calls as well.
CO guy calls.
SB folds (??????? lol)
I check with J9o.

Flop is J95ss

At this point it was pretty awesome for me, as not only had I checked in the dark (checked before flop came out) but I had also been actively chatting.

UTG open shoves. [YES]
UTG + 2 goes all in [ERM]
MP short stack goes all in also. [HMMM}
CO folds.
Now me lol. 

Obviously if I call here I'm pretty much gonna win the final table right there almost as I'd have 1/2 chips in play. However, since the big stacks had both gone all in, my 2 pair does not look very strong anymore. I'm putting the big stacks on 55, 99 (even though I have a 9), QTs or T8s, its possible that one of them has Jx or QQ KK AA if they decided to trap. So I fold face up (prob a mistake to show) and they reveal their cards.

UTG had KK
UTG +2 had KJ
MP also had J9

Overall I don't really mind my fold there, I'm pretty sure that it was the correct decision to make. I hadn't even invested that much into the pot, I had only lost my big blind to it so far. When 2 big stacks get it in like that they are usually going to be very strong because of the fact that their stack sizes add to the amount of risk that they're willing to take over losing it.


WHAT ARE THE ODDS

So I thought it would be fun to see what the math* was on calculating my chances of winning, if no skill was involved at all in poker. It helps to actually put in perspective how much skill there actually is! For example, if we played a 9 man table, with no skill everyone has 11% chance of winning, and therefore you will make the money 33% of the time if it is top 3.

Both weeks there was 26 runners (I'll include the rebuyers as a new person). With no skill, 100%/26 = 3.85% chance of winning. And with this being 2 tournaments in a row, it would be 3.85% x 3.85% (hopefully the math is correct) = 0.1% (0.148225 to be exact).

With no skill, I had achieved a 1 in 1000 chance of winning 2 MTTs in a row! :)

Now does anyone want to try and work out something else?

Not only did I win 2 MTTs in a row. but the final 3 were the same people as last week, and they also finished in the same order too! If anyone out there is willing to have a go and work out the odds of that happening using the "with no skill" probabilities I've love to see your workings and find the answer!!



*I am British born, but I am happy to adopt some American terms if I believe it to make sense. I like saying Math instead of Maths coz it sounds better and it is correct (sorry guys)

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Happy New Two Thousand and Fourteen!


Happy New Year! I hope that you all have had some great New Years celebrations! Its always kinda nice to spend some time with family and friends together during the Christmas period.

In England, the best fireworks are the ones in London, by the Thames. Its pretty cool that they incorporate using the London Eye into the firework celebrations!



WHATS UP FOR 2014

POKER

Its really taken a while for my confidence to return poker wise. Its been such a journey. Firstly to realize how bad I am, and then to relearn everything and understand what I was doing wrong. But in the process I achieved Supernova status on Pokerstars, which is quite an achievement considering my results. So my basic plan is to maintain that status by getting the 100k VPPs as soon as possible, hopefully by the summer and then reevaluate whether I wanna go for 200k VPPs (that $2600 bonus looks tasty!) or expand into 180ms again. But for now getting that 100k is going to be my priority. I know quite a few poker players who left their VPP goals really last minute, and don't wanna be one of those guys... its too stressful!

Also with the casino opening so close to me, I really should try my hand at playing more live tournaments. Even though they are ridiculously slow, and fields are not that great, its still worth the experience. Also, there should be quite a few main events that I could satellite into, so its worth a try for sure.

Dec and Jan being the two busiest months for different reasons!
In December all the regs are trying to make their VPP goals, so the games were quite reg infested, but in saying that most regs were trying to get volume in which meant that they're quality of play probably wasn't as good as usual.

January I expect it to be a busy time because all the overly optimistic regs will probably go for Supernova Elite. So the mass grinding begins as they all try to get off to a good start. However, many will fail due to various reasons, whether it be keeping this motivation up, the variance hitting them, or just life events that are uncontrollable. Gaining Supernova Elite is very hard to do and last few years has averaged around 300 players making it. I'm sure that the estimated $200k in bonus money is worth it, but its no easy task, that's for sure!

How us "pro's" play online poker! Just joking haha


TRAVELLING

After going to one of my best friends' weddings and back to my homeland of Hong Kong, its reinforced my urge to travel more. However, this means that saving up for a rainy day is a lot harder, and is also going to be dependent on me getting better results, but with less pressure since I am Supernova.

3 places I really want to go to this year is gonna be New York, San Francisco, and Vancouver. I might combine the San Fran/Vancouver trip possibly since they're on the west side and it might be cheaper overall. Either way, it should be good, and a great motivational factor for me to work towards.

When travelling you meet so many people, enjoy yourself with friends, see so much stuff and generally have amazing memories and experiences. I read somewhere that in various studies humans are more happier in spending money on experiences over consumer goods.

I wanna see the Golden Gate bridge!



[PLAYING] STARCRAFT

I really would like to raise my level in playing Starcraft, but since its usually after my poker sessions, I'm kinda unwilling to spend a few more hours sitting in front of the computer after already being there for a good 5-6 hours. That's the biggest problem. I would like to get better of course, but Terran is a hard race because its so mechanical and micro heavy. Sometimes there's so much action its hard to keep track of everything and make sure that your spending your money.

I'm currently Gold, lets get that to Platinum and possibly Diamond. I plan to pretty much stream when I play. 2 years on, my love for this game still hasn't subsided.

Current State of the Game (From Terran's POV)
Its Deja Vu!! As the new year starts, Terran has now been nerfed to becoming the weakest race yet again. But this time, instead of Brood Lord - Infestor being the dominant composition, we see Protoss air openings being very strong and winning many tournaments. Now typical moaning and groaning about imbalance is usually all tongue and cheek, mostly as a joke at each other. But the main concern with Terran really is that our new units doesn't contribute as much (got nerfed) or basically doesn't exist anymore! Its sad to say that Terran of HoTS is basically almost the same Terran of WoL.

We can compare the new units latest nerf/buffs for all races to see what I mean;

Terran:
Widow Mines - Nerfed radius damage from 160 to 125. Splash damage reduced.
Hellbat - Nerfed 18 +12 vs light to 18.
Warhound - Removed completely from the game.

Protoss:
Mothership Core - Buffed photon overcharge range 13 damage 20 for 60 seconds.
Tempest - Kinetic Overload weapon damage vs massive increased from 30 to 50.
Oracle - Movement speed increased from 3.375 to 4, Acceleration increased from 2 to 3.

Zerg:
Swarm Host - Health increased from 120 to 160.
Viper - Health increased from 120 to 150.

So as you can see in the latest balance patches of the new units, Terran really has had the bad end of the stick. On top of this, the level of adjustments towards us has increased, so it feels like a double whammy when something like mines have been nerfed, and Zerg has improved their level of play towards adjusting to this unit.



[WATCHING] STARCRAFT

I really like what they've done to Starcraft in 2013, introducing the WCS as an overall league which went towards a final overall tournament at the end of the year at Blizzcon. They done really well to also work with other corporations to make sure that other tournaments were still around and got good viewership.

It is true that there has been way too much WCS content, with the 3 Seasons, with 3 Regions and 3 end of Season tournaments on top of that, and also the qualifiers. Dropping it down to 2 Seasons can be a good idea, we'll see how it evolves and how it effects the numbers, especially personal streamers.

The constant retouching of the game making certain units/abilities stronger or weaker keeps the game interesting. If something is made stronger, how does it effect the matchup? On top of that there are map changes which also effect the game and viable strategies. I like the idea that things are always constantly changing which refreshes the game and brings in new viewers.

There's always the constant debate about Koreans vs Foreigners in the scene. Note that the term "Foreigner" is basically meaning non-Korean. The Koreans are so dominant and lot of the player complain when they are competing in different regions. This year players have to play 200 games within their ladder region to participate in it, so at least they give something back in terms of experience to the ladder.

With Stephano gone, the ball is in Naniwa and Scarlett's court on who is the best foreigner. A big showmatch was done where they played it out and Naniwa won 4-2, just showing his experience in preparation matches, where he punished Scarlett's greed in her games. Who will be more successful in 2014 and will we have any other foreigners stepping up?


FAVE GAMES 2013

Sometime last year I did a post on my top 10 games (in no order coz its too hard to judge). There has been some awesome games this previous year as well! And one of the coolest things is that content is becoming more free! Tried to get embedding to include start times but dunno why its not working :(

1. Taeja vs Innovation crazy Bio vs Mech game 3. (54m55s)




2. Jaedong vs Stardust with interesting finish to game 3!(56m45s)




3. Scarlett vs Bomber 2 Rax to midgame madness!




4. Parting vs Life crazy hold vs speedling timing in the Group of Death.




5. Life vs DRG Game 7 decider Iron Squid Final - Holding off 10 pool speeding vs hatch first gas. (2m18s)




6. Taeja vs Rain's insane Ghost control in Game 2 (28m15s)




7. Bomber vs Goswer crazy game! Seeker missiles on own medivacs as a homing device, self nuking armies and insane base trades!




8. Innovation vs MVP...what a crazy comeback with Mech




9. Awesome ZvT Jaedong vs Maru Game 4 (42m39s)




10. Jaedong vs Deer Game 5 awesome burrow roach play at Blizzcon Finals (1hr00m25s)


GOMTV has released all its content in 2013 for free here.

Man I gotta make shorter posts! Anyways Happy New Year, hope everyone will have a great 2014!

Add this