Sunday, July 3, 2011

Where the heck ya been, and meeting pro poker players in odd places

Its been awhile again since I blogged, with online poker going by the wayside (meaning the demise of any planned BBT6 even t that may have been) kinda puts a damper on the whole blogging thing. Add in that I have been walking the fine of depression over my employment and wa-la, going into hibernation.

Well "the times they are a changing...."

I won't rehash all my gripes about my job, the whole past winter has been played out pretty descriptively over the last few blog posts, however a new chapter or loathing started in the beginning of June. As I'm probably sure most of you are aware that Minot, ND has been under threat of flood since the end of May. Initially there was a mandatory evacuation and in typical Minotian culture, there was a swift overreaction. Before any water started lapping over levees the executive management in the site decided to give employees effected by the evacuations 5 paid days off, which I absolutely 100% agree with, however, the next paragraph of the email announcement also said that even those who were not affected but could made it in to the office would also be given 5 days off because "they are shouldering the extra burden of those who could not make it into the office". I have a problem with that. Why? I have a team of 12 direct reports located in Windsor, CT who are the ONLY BCP (business continuity plan) for the call center. Meaning, the call volume they service on a daily basis would (and did) increase dramatically. So my people see this announcement (because as a part of the same department, even though we are remote, we are included on site emails) and think they are getting 5 days off for "helping to shoulder the burden". Not 24 hours later a follow-up email from HR is sent out and it states that the 5 days are for only on-site staff. This pisses me off for the obvious reason, but also because that phrase was placed intentionally. There are only 2 teams that are affiliated with Minot that were now excluded by that one simple phrase, my 12 people in Windsor, CT, and another 24 in Minneapolis, MN that are backup to our New Biz call center. So 900 people (of which less than half were affected by the evac order) were given 5 paid days but 36 employees remote, were not. The other dynamic is now I have to answer questions from my team on why they are not considered to be shouldering the burden like their co-workers even though my team is now the center of Life Call Center Operations. As you can possibly imagine, this damages their already very low morale and in a few select cases makes them flippant about doing more than their normal share of calls on a daily basis.
So that first evac order turns out to be a false alarm, river doesn't spill over the levees, and yet the days that were given to the Minotians were not rescinded.

Two weeks later, evac order issued again and this time it was for real. Flood of historic proportions, loss of homes and the whole tragic & terrible loss of homes and flooding they envisioned the first go round. My direct boss lost her home. Donate to the Red Cross if you can, I have.

In-between the floods I applied for a job. I have applied to this job 4 times before (most recent being February) and only made it to interview twice (one no reply, and one HR reply saying they were rejecting my application because i didn't have a specific system knowledge). In Feb. I made it to a second interview, focusing on my customer service experience, since i was told 80% of the job is customer service and 20% was system knowledge. Well I got called back and told I was a top 3 candidate but they went with someone with system knowledge.
This time I got to the second interview, but I felt I nailed both. I hadn't felt this confident in....ever? Sure enough I got called back the day after my second interview and got offered the job. I accepted. I may have surprised my new boss at how quick I accepted... so starting August 1st, I am the new TPA Plan Manager. This past week, has been one of the happiest I have had in recent memory. A few people even commented that they had never seen me smile before but I was beaming this whole week. And why shouldn't I after the hell that was the past 9 months?

I think I've talked on here before after my love a card game called "Magic: The Gathering", played paper Magic since 1994 (June 14th, 1994 to be exact, yes its sick I still remember the first day I bought cards) and was one of the original players on MTG:Online. My success mirrors my poker success, mostly mediocre. I didn't learn till 2004 when David Williams went heads up against Raymer (who is from Minot, ND coincidentally) and the coverage talked about how David was on the Magic Pro Tour. After that, it got out that more than just a few poker players had started their careers off playing Magic.
The only reason I bring this up is because I was playing one of the many sealed deck tourneys and i notice someone named "DutchBoyd". I hadn't heard he ever played, and like someone i played last night named "AngelPagan" it could have been someone who was a fan? Turns out it was really him, and I ending up shooting him a message wishing him well at the WSOP. Responded back almost immediately saying "thanks bud! :)" Kinda neat for someone who doesnt see many celebs often.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

If I Can't Win Then.....

If you havent heard the news, Annie Duke has gone and started a Pro Poker League. Taking a queue from the PGA, there are performance requirements needed to be considered to receive a card, and it seems the cards are tiered in 2,3, and 5 year segments.

I feel conflicted on this, on one hand it seems like some of the name pros got tired of the "luck" factor and they are taking their deck and going home with it.
As someone who started playing right before the Moneymaker boom, it feels like a slap in the face, these name PROS were ok with the poker schlubs when it meant exposure on TV and living a lifestyle akin to a rockstar with fans, but since its made their ability to win the elite tournaments harder due to thousands upon thousands of entrants in these contests, they decide to make an elite club that only those they deem worthy to enter be included.

On the other hand, I do like the idea of having a pro league that rewards the consistently best players in the game with bragging rights. It gives that poker player who is trying to be the best something to strive for.

Im curious what most of the BBT bloggers think, I would assume the more accomplished bloggers would be in favor of this league and the more casual players would think its childish and selfish.

Thoughts?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Back In The Saddle Again

So THIS GUY went ahead and did an APB for Bloggers to get together like old times and "play" a BBT tournament.

While it might have only been a fake money tournament, I think most bloggers will agree that it really did have that "BBT" feel to it...maybe even more so with all the side bets going on behind the scenes.

I ended up finishing 5th out of 30, and I left feeling that Id like to see more of these tournament with a point system and maybe an "escrow" person holding on to some sort of prize?

Oh and someone went and shot that man Osama Bin Ladin, I guess thats some big news huh? 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Update

Thanks for the comments guys, I do appreciate the time you took to read my mess. 

As you might have suspected HR told me nothing different than I was told previous. I was told HR reopened the case, reviewed again, and still find no reason to make any changes. 
I do think it is very important to note that the HR person could not explain why if I applied for a job in 2006 that had no direct reports, I was given direct reports in 2008 with no change in job code, title, salary, or bonus. 
The HR person just kept saying she understood my frustration and appreciated how professional I was taking this news. 

So fuck them. 

The one positive I can take away from this is, I'm going to make sure my resume says I have been Supervisor for the last 5 years with all the hiring/firing/compensating abilities during that time period, since thats essential what Im being told Ive done for the last 5 years.

Im not sure what my next move is now, being a remote location I dont have to deal with my Manager on a daily basis which is actually a good thing. She hasn't called me since last Tuesday when we talked and I've only got 3 emails today from her. 

It really comes down to
- Continue on doing what im doing and realizing there will be no growth, no development, and will most likely be rated "meet expectations" until they finally give us our pink slips or they find a reason to fire me. 

- Look at moving from the Life Insurance side to Retirement Services. I like this idea, and the Director for this department knows me and what Im about. I just have to make sure this is something I truly want to do.

- Look outside. Living in the Hartford area, AKA Insurance Capital of the World, makes it easy to locate other financial services companies that might have a better fit Life Insurance fit for myself. 

For now I soldier on like a good worker bee. 

Gambling Content:

Won $1000 at Foxwoods after I got a Straight Flush and a Royal Flush at Pai Gow poker. Love my Pai Gow... 
I do think I am ready to get back into poker shortly, take it slow and ease my way back in with some live Stud and Limit, then move up to NL. Funds on Full Tilt should follow shortly as well.

Stay tuned...


Friday, March 11, 2011

The Honey Badger Doesn't Give A Shit

Long time since I last posted and sooo much has happened.

First, work:
- In January I was flown out to Minot, ND on a business trip. Got to meet with my boss for the first time face to face in a 1 on 1. Long story short, I was told HR and her had come to the conclusion no change was necessary and she said "Whatever was dangled in front of you for the past 3 years (promotion) was incorrect. I just want to say I'm sorry and I hope you don't leave".

- Fast forward to this past Tuesday, we finally have my year end review to go over my rating and financials. For the first time since my first year at the company (2004) I get rated a "3 - Meets Expectations". I was shocked, in my 7 years I've received 4 "2 - Exceeds Expectations" ratings, 1 - "1 - Outstanding" rating, and now my second '3". I was livid. There was only one negative mention in my review, and everything else was glowing. This is from someone who was my superior for the last two months of the year and admittedly had no idea what she was doing. She asked me my thoughts because I sounded a little disappointed and I, respectfully, vomited of the moth. I told her that I am very disappointed in the 3 rating and I had not expected that at all. I explained that in the first 3 months of 2011 I have not only been told that I was not receiving a promotion, and that it was all a lie in first place, but now I am 'being told that I have only performed up to expectations when I am busting my rear off. Her counter to me was "think about me, I had to walk into this job to give you the no promotion news, and you are a very high 3". Now she is the victim, and I should feel ok because the 3 I was given was a "high" 3, which in the grand scheme of things doesn't differentiate between a high or low, its just a 3. I ended our hour long meeting 30 minutes early, because I had nothing left to say.

- The first thing I did after I was done was call HR. I had been debating doing this since the January 1 on 1 but held off because at the end of that meeting she said "Cheryl (her boss) and I will take care of you." I'm not unreasonable, she said that and I believed they would make up for the lack of promotion at year end review time. When I received what I got, I knew that this was my only option.

- I talked to HR, gave a brief outline of the issue and told her that I had a dated timeline of events if that would make it easier, she asked me to type it up and email to her. After I laid out the issue she asked the big question "What do you want as a resolution to this?" I replied that for 3 years i was under an assumption by my management that my dual-role was only temporary and I would be given the correct job title and pay. Instead I was told that nothing was changing and that I had been doing this 'higher" role for 3 years. If that's true and that's the final answer I would like to be compensated for my incorrect bonus (they were paying me @ 5% bonus instead of 7% that I should have gotten for "doing the job") and that because they refuse to put me in the the correct job code my % to market point is such that if I stay in this position my increases will become less and less as I hit and exceed the market point.
The lady said she would look into and did see the notation from the Minot HR rep that they are aware of my situation. She would contact me back when she received information. She has not contacted me yet.
Please believe that calling HR was the last thing I wanted to do, I'm not a trouble maker by any means but I think you just get to a point sometimes where you are backed into a corner and I exhausted my conversations with my boss so that it was truly the only choice I had left. Well that or leave the company...

So that's where that is. I don't expect much from HR, so my future options look like I may need to speak with a Director for the Retirement Services department here and see if he can keep me in mind when a position opens up, or I'll have to do some hard time job interviewing with another company. There is a third option where I stay and be the best "Meets Expectations" supervisor I can be, but this is undesirable due to no development or growth opportunities.
One final thought, I keep replaying her last words to me from the meeting "You're doing a great job and I am very fortunate to have you there in Windsor leading the team." Its a slap in the face after you've just been told that basically you do nothing special...

Poker:

- Haven't played too much except for the monthly home games. I have been turning a profit, last month being the highest in recent memory with +$190. Have another home game coming up this Saturday actually.

- March 22nd 2010, my bday last year, is still the last time I played live poker in the casino. I'm back to that "is it fear or do you just not want to play?" thing again. It must be at least a tiny bit of fear since the last time I got up from a table I was -$700 after an hour... Ive been spending my time when I go playing PaiGow or Blackjack. For the year so far I'm -$50 with about 20+ hours of playing time.

-BBT6! Al posted a tweet earlier this week hinting at a 6th installation of every one's favorite online poker blogger series. I don't have anything on Full Tilt right now, but the official announcement may make me change my tune. Also might get me blogging a little more frequently.

Despite my very frustrating work troubles, I am in good spirits. My significant other finally got the raise she deserved and fought for over the last year. Right now, money is not an issue for our family which is good, its the first time in probably 3 years we can say that.

Hopefully see you on the real or virtual tables soon!

P.S. If you want to laugh pretty hard check out the youtube video that the title of the post is paying homage to:



Friday, November 5, 2010

Escaping and Home Game Time Again

For some reason I always get the motivation to write as I'm doing my insomniac thing at 2am in the morning, well I guess I shouldn't be that surprised since around this time of night I always wrote my best last minute reports in college.

In addition to my org chart fiasco at work, constant rumors swirl about various undertakings that are alleging to be happening. Allegedly 11/10/10 a big re-org resulting in layoffs of 4% of the workforce will be announced, so yeah its just a little stressful to say the least.

So when I come home I try distance myself as much as I can from that "other world" and get involved in the xbox (Fallout: New Vegas), or playing some HORSE on Stars, or what I've been doing lately is getting back to playing Magic: The Gathering Online. 

If you've never played MTG, its easy to just dismiss it as some weird D&D stuff which isn't entirely inaccurate, but more than that, its a game that lets you customize your experience to be an extension of your own personality. There are 5 colors essentially to choose from: Red (direct damage, aggressive creatures), Green (powerful creatures, life gaining), White (flying creatures, defense), Blue (spells, card denial), and Black (discard,  undead creatures). Yeah the "black" color got the game banned from my grade school because 2 of the cards had pentagrams on them and they don't go over well in Catholic school...

Anyway, you can start to see why more than a handful of poker players started out playing MTG. MTG, in my opinion, is more strategic than poker. Not only do you have to play your opponent's cards (usually in a head's up setting, but not always), but you have to craft a 60 card deck that is fluid. And by fluid meaning you cant sit and rely on just one combo to come up, since it may never come, you have to craft a deck that has multiple card combos, and then combos on top of that which might not have even been planned in the first place. 

And that's just one facet of MTG, they have drafts where 8 people buy three booster packs (15 cards) and pick a card a pass until all 3 boosters have been depleted. So you have to build a deck based on no prior knowledge of what cards you are going to get plus be aware of what other people seem to be picking.

That's why I love it, not just because i can play a Goblin or make you discard half your deck, its the strategy and personalization that makes me keep coming back.

Now on to poker, my monthly home game is this Saturday. Looks like we'll have a decent turnout (6-7 people) I just need to get back to winning ways. I'm on a 5 month snide of no wins.

Its good to escape, now I just need to kick the insomnia.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Another Day, Another Dollar

Its funny, I wrote that last post at 2am in the morning on a stream of consciousness, so it ended up looking Hoy-esque. Id like to thank Waffles for sharing his thoughts, and I agree, the only truly way to enjoy working is when you are working by your own rules and not by anyone elses. I also received many suggestions and points of views from the blogger sphere, and I am truly humbled by the response I received and the support you provided. Its makes me truly proud to be a part of a community like this.

My move now is to let my new boss do some digging into my concerns and hopefully by November 9th when we meet for our first one on one I can finally get some answers. If not, I will talk to HR and see if theres any assistance they can provide. CT Labor department is another option also, although I'm not sure how deep they delve into these kind of disputes.  
But one last time, thank you to all who reached out to me, its truly appreciated. And i will update as soon as i get new info.

Moving on to something else, since this is a poker/gambling blog I should talk some about that.

As I stated in my comeback post, not too much poker has been played since March. There are a few reasons for that including blowing 75% of my stake at a NL cash game on my 30th birthday, the medication I went on in March limits those "cravings" to gamble, and most importantly, I am sucking terribly at poker. 
This "sucking" is very much different than the variance I have experienced over the years, this funk seems to be a mixture of overconfidence or pride and a side of carelessness. Right now, I don't think I could cut it at a casino cash game, I'd be dead money just biding my time.
The only online poker I play is either HORSE or Stud 8, and that's because those allow me to just be tight and profit off the weaker players, but even still I make bonehead plays or have become increasingly unlucky.

It got to the point earlier this year (right around BBT5) where I actually hated poker. In my mind the game was no longer about skill and strategy, just dumb luck. Every coin-flip, every dog hand, and every dominant hand I lost. At first I thought it was just variance catching up to me after a very profitable 09 and a 12 month streak of at list one tourney win at my own home game to where I was lucky to finish 2nd out of a 5 person game.

I'm slowly trying to get myself back into NL, and actually be somewhat competitive, but its not easy by any means. The game has changed so much, and everyone you play is somewhat educated now.

Hopefully you, dear readers, are fairing better than I.

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Help Brian with His Work Problem (Serious Post)

Alright so the NFL post is hold on for a bit so I can type this post and hopefully get some opinions from the trusted interwebs on how to handle my situation. Please note, yes I was very naive and way too trusting of certain people. I tended to believe someone does (especially my direct management) have my best interests in mind and they wouldn't screw me on purpose (i'm a poker player and i thought this, go figure). The reason I say this is because I know where I went wrong in trusting/not-acting, I'm only looking for solutions or suggestion on how to navigate the issue now.

First some background:
I work for a global financial services company, im going to be all private like just in case... I have been with the company in the life insurance department (not sales) for 7 years and have worked my way up the chain of command.
My department is a BCP (Business Continuity Plan) for the main location which is located in the mid-west. Because of the location, similar positions had different titles.It gets very confusing, but the key is East Coast (where I reside) has no position titled TEAM LEAD.

Example: East Coast Title                   Mid-West Title
                Supervisor                             Team Lead
                Manager                                Supervisor
                Director                                 Manager

The trouble starts way back in March 2006 when my original Manager had left, my Supervisor was promoted to Manager and the Supervisor position was open to be filled.

I applied for, and obtained the role of Supervisor. At this time I had 0 direct reports, and had no ability to hire, fire, promote, compensate, or place individual contributors on corrective action. My role was of support, knowledge, and training of new hires.

In March 2008, my Manager abruptly left our department with little notice which led to a hectic period. My Director sat me down and advised that I did have not enough experience yet to be promoted to Manager and he was going to search for a replacement, in the interim I was to take over the duties of Manager and then train the new Manager once they were hired.

After a few months, and many people turning the job down (most of them telling my Director that they felt I was capable of running the team) the position was on hold and I retained my current roles as Supervisor and taking on the additional roles of Manager. No compensation was given for the extra work, and i was repeatedly told this was temporary. I did not receive at any time, proper or official people management training. I was however responsible now for all that I mentioned above regarding hiring/firing etc etc.

Then Lehman happened in September 2008, company scaled back all budgets, layoffs occurred, and I took the high road of thanking my stars I still had a job over pressing the issue about promotions. In my end of the year review for 2008, I made mention of how I was performing 2 jobs, my Director notated in my review that I was doing an excellent job in the difficult situation I was placed in. I was rated a "1" which in company speak is super-outrageous awesomeness extreme. I was always told NOBODY ever receives a 1 (or a 5 for that matter which is the worst) and yet I did. I received a raise at a time where very few people received a raise. And again, because I was being treated fairly in a difficult economy I did not press the matter of promotion.

2009 Annual review time comes around, the company started doing better 4th quarter of 09, budgets began growing again (team outings were reintroduced) so I figured certainly I would be promoted. When I met with my Director in March of this year to discuss the year-end 09, I was told I was not being promoted again for budgetary reasons and that my current salary was comparable to Managers in my location in other departments. I was assured a promotion was still coming. I was rated a "2" even though I received the same high praise as the year before, but I received substantially less compensation than year ending 2008.

I had a heart to heart with my Director in May of 2010 regarding a promotion again and I was told he was working out the details with his boss, and that it should happen sooner than later.

I hadn't heard anything by August when the first big news came out, my Director's boss had been promoted and he was applying for the new position opening up. This turned into a situation where as it turns out he was never a candidate for the position and that they were eliminating his job.

To interject one second before I continue on, I noticed that at some point between Dec 09 and Sept 10 that all the org chart documents had been changed. Where once it stated my Manager's old position was open, and I was the Team Lead (Supervisor) now read that I was the Supervisor (Manager) and I had no Team Lead (Supervisor).

 Today, a new org-chart was rolled out and my new boss told us to send any errors to her. I emailed her that our team should read as SUPERVISOR(Manager) - Open and Team Lead (Supervisor) as me. She said I have the same job code and title as my peers in the Mid-West office have. I explained to her that East Coast office has no Team Lead position so when I was promoted back in 06 I was given the title of Supervisor and reported to a Manager. My new boss was very confused and said that its possible since we are aligned by business unit that the Manager position was no longer available. I let her know that in our office my peers have the title of Manager still, and she said she would look into the issue.

Other than the fact that if they are saying the Manager position is no longer available to me then I am at the ceiling of my career growth in the department, I really need to know how they can explain:

1) If they don't use the East Coast office title hierarchy, then how can my title be the same for 4 years where the first 2 I had no direct reports, but the next 2 I had 12 direct reports?

2) Can you become a manager of people without applying for the position?

This may seem silly just for a "title", but its more than that. With that position I am entitled to a high bonus percentage as well as a higher salary ceiling. With my current title, id have at max 3 years before i hit the ceiling and would not receive any raises unless company raises cap...

My thought process is that if I dont get any satisfaction from my manager I could consult HR, but Im not even sure they can help me.

Do I have any legs to stand on at all?

Thanks for reading and any help you can generate.....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Welcome Back

Well hello there blogger-verse,

Been awhile since I last connected with you and not much has changed but I have made a resolution to post more frequently and hopefully rekindle some of those friendships that may have gone by the wayside.

SO what have I been up to? Well I haven't played too much poker live or online, lately been playing some HORSE on Stars and have had my regularly monthly game with a stop at JLBSox's home game when he has it. I've been playing so terrible at NLHE, cant figure out why that is.

Sports: Phillies right now are leading 3-2 in Game 5 of the NLCS which they are down 3-1.
KC Chiefs are 3-2, got out of the gate 3-0 and lost their last two. Still leading the division though.

Alright just a quick hit and run for now, i have a Hoy-esque post on my thoughts about the NFL coming up, as well as possible attempt to get back into poker regularly.

Until then, see ya soon!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Fee Times A Mady!


Third online royal since 2003, first on Full Tilt, 2nd Clubs Royal.