Archive for the ‘gaming’ Category

Coffee: The Lifeblood of the World

black-coffeeWithout a doubt, coffee is arguably the most popular drink in the world. With its endless varieties, flavors, countries of origin, and ways to brew, the possibilities for tasting pleasure are numerous for coffee drinkers all over the world.

Coffeehouses, cafes, and diners all around the world specialize in providing everyone’s favorite wakeup call–coffee. These types of establishments have been springing up all over the country as the need and want for coffee grows more exponentially by the day.

All across America, the first order of business upon waking up for many people is to put on a fresh pot of coffee. Many people then hop in the shower and return to the kitchen to find a freshly brewed pot of warmth and caffeinated goodness awaiting them. Millions of workers across the country use coffee as their “get up and go” in the morning–sort of like a wakeup call for the weary to get their day started. Coffee black, a “double double,” or instant coffee in a specialty flavor provides the kick-start most people need to begin their day.

Not only is coffee used as a morning wakeup tool, with the overabundance of cafes and coffeehouses, it’s now being marketing and used as a social tool as well. Many people choose to meet for a cup of coffee on a first date, to catch up with an old friend, or to meet a buddy in-between classes at college. Also the green coffee bean extract is used to make fitness supplements due to some antioxidants properties.

Popular meeting places like Starbucks, Tim Hortons, and Coffee Culture have sprung up in major cities around the country to provide not only a coffee delight, but also an environment and an experience to consumers. In these instances, coffee now becomes a social aspect which is another important part of a person’s day. Additionally, coffee is not just reserved for the morning and a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

More and more often, coffee is being served after dinner, likely along with dessert. At restaurants around the country, its now commonplace for a server to ask the patrons if they’d like some coffee with their dessert. Coffee seems to have something soothing and pleasing about it even when served after dinner.

No matter what time of day the coffee is consumed, there are a wide variety of ways to enjoy it. Traditional hot coffee, black coffee, and flavor varieties are now competing with the ever-popular iced coffees and lattes.

These cold drinks seem to have more of an appeal during the warm summer months and prove to be an effecting marketing tool for coffee establishments to keep sales soaring of this popular beverage during warmer times or in warmer climates.

One thing is for sure where coffee is concerned, with all of the flavors, styles, and times the world consumes this drink, coffee will continue to enjoy its everlasting reign at the top of the beverage chain.

Rayman Origins

Rayman OriginsBack before I became an old man, I spent many of my days playing a game on the Playstation called Rayman. A unique, challenging platformer that offered a world constructed of an amusing palette of colors. The game was beautiful, and the animations fluid. Each character you encountered was just as imaginative and endearing as the one before it.

In short, the game was freaking beautiful. It wasn’t just gorgeous, it played as you would expect form the visuals. The controls were wonky, and the level design was challenging yet inviting. There was so much polish on Rayman, you would have been forgiven for thinking Michel Ancel used to work at Intelligent Systems.

Over the years, Rayman has seen a few different iterations. He’s made the transition from 2D platformer to 3D party games. He’s introduced new friends along the way, and even has spin-off games that circle around some of those friends. Ubisoft was one of very few companies that took a gamble on the Nintendo Wii early on, and it paid off well for them. The company was posting very respectful numbers early on in the Wii’s life, and Ubisoft kept cranking out Rabbid games.

Here we are five years later. Nintendo has a new handheld that is putting up record numbers, and Rayman Origins is no where to be seen. Ubisoft has made it clear that Origins will see a 2013 release. Why the company opted to not release in time for the holiday season of 2012 seems odd to me. You have people that would buy the game as a gift, or tons of children that now have Christmas money in their pockets that would present a perfect opportunity for moving a few units.

Hell, I want the game on the 3DS, and I’m a grown adult. Sure, I could buy a console version of the game, but my Xbox 360 sits in pieces as I attempt to fix it in my spare time, and I see no reason to buy the Wii version considering the game has quite a reliance on appearance. Look, Rayman on the Playstation was gorgeous, and I am sure Origins is on the Wii, but if there is the option for a better looking, identical version on an HD console, why bother?

Plus, platform gaming has made a huge surge on portable platforms. Thanks to the likes of the Super Mario games reminding gamers that 2D isn’t dead. Now with games such as Pushmo and Super Mario 3D Land showing that 3D can be more than just a selling point, but indeed a gameplay function, it seems Ubisoft is missing a prime opportunity.

Perhaps they felt too many other games would be competition around this time of year. Unfortunately for Ubisoft, it seems as though they missed a golden opportunity to monetize on the 3DS’s dry season. After slashing the price of the 3DS by a third of the sale price, sales have skyrocketed! Hopefully by the time Rayman Origins is released on a portable, I haven’t forgotten about it.

Freerolls for practice and profit

poker gameMost freerolls have restrictions on the ‘won’ money, you can’t withdraw it unless you make a minimum deposit or play a certain number of ‘raked’ hands. That’s ok! Using your winnings from the freerolls to enter ‘small stakes’ tournaments or penny ante ‘ring’ games will give you much needed practice time without risking your own money. Playing ‘ring’ games also earns you the ‘rake’ needed to eventually make a withdrawal.

The goal in any tournament is to finish ‘in the money’! You invest between one and three hours of your time in each tournament. You want to be paid for that time. In order to be a successful tournament player you will have to develop thick skin and practice patience. For the best online poker tournaments, click here.

Beginning or Starting Stage

Freerolls are full of inexperienced players. Within the first half hour you will see at least one third of the field become eliminated. Your first goal is to not become one of these casualties. The strategy is quite simple. Fold! Don’t play a hand for at least the first fifteen minutes. Let the risk takers go to it, they’ll eliminate each other! Take this time to study the players. A few of them will be around later, when you want to be in the action. Make notes.

Remember, these reckless players will be the ‘big stacks’ at the tables when the smoke finally clears. Amongst them there will be a few experienced players. You will want to know who they are later so look for them during the flurry of ‘all-in’ action. They’ll be the ones with the pocket aces or kings. These experienced freeroll players have there own strategy, they want to be the chip leader (big stack) once the dust settles.

They will take risks, with good hands, early in the tournament in order to achieve that goal. These people will also become the table bully’s later on. You want to avoid them as much as possible until the latter stages of the tournament.

Middle Stage

So, you’ve survived the first half hour. You’re bored to death by now and want to get some chips in play! This is a critical time in the game for you, I’ll call it the middle stage. It’s time to build your stack. The ‘blinds’ are still reasonably low and you’ve still got most of your original chips, let’s go to work!

During the middle stages of the game you only want to play really good hands. We recommend sticking to these 5 starting hands; AA , KK, QQ, AK, AQ. Position is not important! Most freeroll players do not understand the importance of being in late position or being on the button. If they don’t get it, they won’t respect it.

Always bet or raise, never call. Slow playing is death, avoid it at all costs. It is better to bet/raise at least 4X the total of both blinds. You will often take down the pot then and there. At most, you will narrow down the field to one or two opponents. If an opponent pushes all-in after your raise, call! The odds are most likely in your favour. Remember, this is poker, eventually you have to gamble!

Assuming you have a caller or two, we’re about to see a flop. Now it’s time to analyze your hand. Did you catch top pair or better? If you have K K, did an ace show on the flop? Is there a straight or flush possibility for you or, more importantly, for your opponent? Always, Always, Always, determine whether you have the best possible hand!

You’ve studied your hand. You either have the best of it or you don’t. If you do, we push hard. Go all-in! Forcing your opponent to make a huge decision is your best play. By taking the aggressive approach you avoid making tough decisions later. If you get called, cross your fingers and hope that your hand holds up or improves on the turn or river. This is your strategy even when your opponent acts first and bets ahead of you, Yes, even if he/she pushes all-in ahead of you, make the call!

What if you didn’t catch on the flop? You’re sitting with K K and an ace showed up or you have A Q and the flop was 10 8 4. You may have second or third best pair, now what?

If you are first to act: Make a semi bluff, bet half the pot! Experienced players will probably respect the bet and fold or if they did make their hand, they will likely come back at you with a re-raise. Inexperienced players may call (chase) with a poor hand. This is where your notes come in!! If you have pegged your opponent as a good, solid player get out of his way, live to fight another day. But, if your notes indicate the opponent is loose, likes to chase, then stick with the hand and see the turn card. Remember that you had one of the best starting hands in poker, there is still a good chance you will win the pot.

If your opponent acts first after the flop:
1. He checks. You bet half the pot, same scenario as above. Being the agressor is always best!
2. He places a minimal bet. Call. You may improve your hand on the turn. If not, fold to any substatial bet on the river. Only engage your opponent if you improve your hand. Remember, he may be making value bets, keeping them small to entice you to call, be careful!
3. He places a big bet (half the pot or more). Fold! Save your chips for another confrontation.

The only time you will deviate from this plan is when you are the ‘big blind’ and everyone folds or calls. It’s always good to see a cheap flop! Just remember to fold to any bet if you don’t catch a monster hand on the flop!

The End Game

The end game as when the field has been reduced to the final 25 percent. The blinds will be getting fairly substantial and lucrative. There will soon be ante’s as well.

You will make it to this stage in just one out of every four or five freerolls as a beginner. Chances are, you have a moderate chip stack, enough to pay the blinds between 10 and 20 times. It’s time to become more aggressive. You need to build your stack in anticipation of the battle to come. The final table!

Now is the time to add more starting hands to your arsenal. The players who have been at your table for a while won’t be expecting you to shift gears, you have their respect by now, take advantage of it! We’ll begin playing pocket pairs more aggressively, J J, 10 10, 9 9. You’re looking to take the blinds. Betting aggressively pre-flop (5X big blind) will win you a good percentage of pots without a confrontation. In the event that you do get a caller, you have a respectable hand with potential to improve. Once in a while you will run into a huge re-raise. My advice; fold! You will win more pots than you lose, taking your lumps once in a while is expected.

It’s also time to add ‘suited connectors’ to your portfolio. K Q, Q J, J 10, 10 9, of the same suit can be lethal. Use them cautiously, Raise from the small blind, limp in from other positions. Try to get a cheap look at the flop. When you connect with one of these hands you usually end up with a monster. A straight or flush, 2 pair… deadly against those pocket kings and aces. Your goal is to steadily build your stack in order to arrive at the final table in a respectable position. You won’t be the chip leader but you shouldn’t be the short stack. We hate being short stack!!

The Final Table

You’re in the money, time to take the gloves off. Your targets: The short stacks! Look for the openings, be the bully. Sticking with your above arsenal of starting hands begin attacking the short stacks while avoiding the chip leaders. Keep working toward adding to your stack while depleting theirs.

Most tournaments operate with ten players per table. Your mission is to avoid engaging the big stacks until there are only 5 or 6 players left. This is very difficult but crucial. They’ll be picking on you. Let them! This is where your patience and thick skin will pay dividends. Once you’re down to the final 6 players, you have no choice. Begin engaging the leaders but do it smart. Tighten up, play only your best starting hands. Protecting your stack is paramount.

If the leaders can’t find a weakness to exploit in your game they’ll turn on each other. You can easily move up a couple places in the standings without risking your chips by playing this way. Keep in mind that every time an opponent is eliminated, you earn more money! Let the other players do the dirty work and risk there chips.

Once you are down to the final 3 or 4 contenders you will have to play much more aggressively. The blinds wil eat up your stack if you sit back and don’t make some moves. At this point, any Ace or any 2 face cards will do. Be aggressive!

Games and Finance

game and moneyIs there any relation between games and finance?

For most people the answer to the above question is no. As a matter of fact for most adults, games and finance are near the opposite in term of concept. Finance is a very serious topic as this can involve your life savings and you do not want to play with that, otherwise you could become bankrupt. And many people have recently discovered to their surprise that their safe investments were not as safe as expected. Remember  Madoff among others?

On the other hand when we think about games, kids, toys, fun and entertainment spring to mind. Unless you are a professional Starcraft or poker player, games are not taken too seriously. Games are played during your free time when you want to get away from the boredom or stress of your professional life. So back to the above question, what is the link between finance and games?

In short the answer is probability.

Probability is a branch of mathematics that underlies nearly all aspects of our modern life. It is heavily used in finance as any financial instrument theoretical price depends on the theory of probability; macroeconomics too, as well as the price of any asset. This is to say how important this theory is to our complex civilization. And so many branches of science from physics to archeology use it or use statistics which is the applied version of probability.

Historically probability was invented by Blaise Pascal to solve problems related to games. In as early as 1654 the former was asked by a friend to solve a card game problem, in a nutshell how to share the money when the game is interrupted before the final income. In other words as there is not yet a winner, how to determine the expected value of each player to win the game. That is to say the chance of each one being the winner. And share the money accordingly.

Interestingly all the complicated probability theory as we know it today stemmed from this early work. So it is no understatement to say that games and finance are closely interrelated. Calculating the chance of ruin if you play roulette or the option market is for the most part the same problem.

Some cynics may say that most players in the stock market and options markets are gamblers, and they are not too far from the truth. The only people certain to make money consistently in these markets are the brokers and market-makers. Likewise in the casino the only people who make money day in and day out are the croupiers and dealers.

All the rage on Kickstarter

Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony will soon have competition on the side of gaming consoles, but maybe not the one they expected. Ouya, a concept of video game console on Android sold for U.S. $ 99, is currently the rage on the voluntary funding American site Kickstarter.

The project Ouya is ambitious to say the least: to deliver a console worthy of HDTVs and IMAX surround sound systems at a modest retail price of only $ 100, and offer AAA class games at a fraction of the cost of console games currently on the market. It seems competition will be soon heating in the video games market!

Ouya’s creators promise a bonus opportunity to play all the games offered for free, at least to allow players to try them. The advantage of their product is the Android platform, known to most developers of mobile games, well-adapted to context-specific video games.

Independent publishers, who must go through a big distributor like Electronic Arts for their games to go to the players, are directly targeted. The development Kit (SDK) is provided free of charge.

The feasibility of the formula remains to be proven of course, but for now, the users interest is beyond doubt: Ouya is the project that has raised the fastest million dollars in buying commitments at kickstarter. They reached the milestone of $ 2.6 million in 24 hours, another record held previously by Allerta, the Canadian manufacturer of the watch Pebble.

The latter still holds the record for the largest amount raised on the site of voluntary funding, with over 10 million. With 28 days still to go, already Ouya threat that other title, having surpassed the $ 5.4 million today, courtesy of over 42,000 interested.

At this rate, Ouya may well be among the hottest video games on the market this fall, with several titles on sale in time for the lucrative holiday season. Their controller is designed to become a favorite of console gaming fans, with triggers, quick buttons, high-precision analog sticks, a D-Pad and a touchpad for any games allowing easy transition from mobile to high definition TV.


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