Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fit fitter fittest

Mirror mirror on the wall who is the fittest of them all

Reading this post about business school selection and a gazillion more posts of this kind, in which people fret and fret and fret yet again about finding their "fits" for a B-school, I decided to make a small post to highlight my thoughts on this issue.

Warning : this post does not not apply to anyone who is going for a very narrow particular focus, that only a tiny handful of schools might offer, but for the rest of you read on. Note: binge drinking, bar-hopping across Europe, social treks to somalia, mount everest expeditions dont interest me, so all that would be left out of of the fit equation as well.

To begin with I am fairly simple person with fairly simple needs when it comes to a MBA program. First and foremost it needs to be a top 10 program, a top 15 at worst, there would be no justification for me to leave my current job (which I like, not love as most of us mortals have a hard time finding jobs that we are doe-eyedly in love with) if its not a top 15 program atleast.

Now as soon as you set up this filter what happens is that most of everything else that you want from a MBA program (salary, strong alum network, good courses, plenty of diverse opportunities), kind of fall straight into your lap.

After all a top 15 MBA program will NOT in God's worst day have a dismal placement record, it will almost always have a decent balance between grads it sends out to consulting and finance (2 of the most commonly sought after post-mba professions), it will have a strong alum network, courses offered by them will be more or less on an even keel in the ball-park sense, yes some may be more strong in a p'lar field, and some in another, but that is again way over-exaggerated. Believe me a couple of course in a p'lar subject/concentration/field is not going to make you an expert in that. Having specialized in a particular field myself take it from me that specalization in any field comes from research work and not course-taking, courses give you an idea (note that it is just an idea not even an in-depth grasp) of the fundamentals, and an expert then builds on those fundamentals through independent research. And anyway an MBA is not designed to make you a specialist, go for fin PhD for that.

So why the all the hulaboo about finding schools that "fit" you or as it is more popular to say "Finding my fit in schools" ??? Barring the most miniscule of subtleties, what the effing difference does a MC wannabe MBA applicant care if he is going to Wharton/Kellogg?? If you have a festish for the Kellogg campus, well and good, good for you (I btw have negative fetish for HBS, in the sense that I absolutely loathe them), but apart from that, from a holistic big-picture MBA point of view it doesnt make an iota of difference whether you land up in either of the two.

A much better, more practical question and more realistic question is the following:
"Given my interests, background, my so called profile etc etc, in which school do I have a realistic chance of getting in".
Once you've identified schools based on the above filter, you can then go about in a logical fashion trying to decipher the school's other vital stats of interest, which, again, if its a top 10 school, the subtleties with be 19-20 at best. And I guess in a way many applicants mix and mash and muddle up the question of their chances of getting in with the "fit" factor.

In other OMG news: I have gone through Montauk !! Maybe I 'll review that bible sometime down the line, reviewing bibles though are oft considered to be the work of heretics !!!

Till next time, cheerio baby.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

New badass setup

Finally this weekend I got around to setting up a kind of formal office at home for playing poker. My current setup looks like this:

I have 2 dual screens with 1600X1200 resolution, this will confortably allow me to play 8 tables at a time without any kind of overlap or glitch in resolution. The box itself is pretty standard and nothing fancy except that it has a kickass graphics card.

And now for your visual pleasure here are some real real badass poker setup from the pros:

This is Tiller's setup, he has a TV hooked up to his desk as well, the two right screens are where he is playing online (8 tables, the 8 ovals).

This is Dag "dmikkel" Mikkel's setup. He is a high stakes cash/tournament player playing at nosebleed levels of $100/$200 and above (meaning at ay given time he is sitting with 30k+ plus on the table).

This is Cole "cts" South's setup, you can see the number of tables (the ovals on the left screen) he is playing at a time. And on each of those tables he is sitting with atleast 20k. (do the math)

This is Tom "Durrrr" Dwan's (guy on the right) new office, on the process of being setup. Durrrr is currently the most prolific high-stakes player on the net, winning and losing a ferrari a day.

Here is a recent 150k worth hand between durrr and phil ivey on full-tilt (this is what the online tables look like, the ovals in the pics above):

Ok, lets play some poker now!!! I can almost hear the money train going CHI-CHINGGGGGGG !!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bad beat slayer

I am on a horrible 15k downswing in poker over the past couple of months, and a good chunk of my YTD profits have been wiped out. GRRRRRRR !!!!

Poker can be a brutal game and without proper discipline it can break a player. There could be extended periods where you put in the money as a 80-20 favorite only to see your donkey opponent catch a miracle card to bust you. This is what we poker players term a BAD BEAT.

One of my favourite online tournament pros Chetna "Rex55" Joshi puts it best in her blog, and curiously this does not just apply to poker, it applies to any difficult journey that anyone might decide to take up (an MBA app process for example).:

Bad beats are non-exclusive. They are blind to race, creed, and gender. They are merciless. Every single player that sits down to play cards, takes bad beats. The more you play, the more you take... the more hands you are dealt, the more likely it is statistically that you will take a bad beat.

So now if every single poker player is taking bad beats across the globe.. how is everyone dealing with them?

What is your standard reaction when you get bad beat?

*Do you curse and chat box spew?

*Do you donk out of all other tournies that are going well?

*Do you throw things or punch walls?

*Do you reach for alcohol and/or drugs?

*Do you tilt off your roll?

*Do you copy and paste your hand history and send it to all your buddies on messenger so they can now relive your bad beats along with their own?

*Do you take it out on your family and/or significant other?

*Do you take it out on yourself?


-Do you assess your play, your own decision, your role in the hand, learn what you can and move on?

The true damage of a bad beat isnt the hand is the aftermath that ensues...It is our inability to accept it for what it is...The damage lies in the snowball affect it has on everything else... when we allow it to permeate into other tournies... into a bankroll we grinded so long and so hard for... into our personal lives.... that is where the true damage of bad beats take place.

How many poker players are equipped with the armor to tolerate the "blows" poker will undoubtedly fire at you?

The field is narrow...Most fall victim to the grimy hands of 'Tilt,' and SELF-defeat...
Don't let this be you...

Poker is all about perspective.

Don't wallow in your defeats or self-pity...
Don't question your abilities or skills...
Don't let yourself fall into a cold, dark abyss, with a tape recorder on repeat playing
"you suck at are a could you not have folded that hand? you donkey...stick to your day have no hope...."

And Please don't surrender to bad beats...

It's all about our perspective...
Mind over is amazing how powerful self-perspective can be...
it is what we make of it...
what our mind creates of it...
it is what it is...
what we allow it to be...

Once you are able to keep bad beats in proper perspective for what they are.. an inherent part of the game that every participant has the choice to deal with, in his or her own way... then you will see how much more of your time and energy is spent constructively, as opposed to destructively...

and not only will you emerge a stronger Poker Player...but a stronger Person...

The game of poker is like a lifetime of experience/emotions squeezed into one 8 hour playing session. You can experience the full spectrum of emotions ranging from complete boredom to utter frustration, to gut wrenching disappointment, and pure fist pumping adrenaline rush infused joy in that 8 hour period. And like life what is important is that throughout you maintain your perspective, your focus and most importantly your self belief, else the game will break you.

I am taking a week long break from poker, and hoping to hit the tables next week, with renewed enthusiasm, a clear mind and much much better focus.

Monday, August 18, 2008

OMG an mba post

One of my undergrad juniors got into HBS, class of '10. Weeeeeeeeee !! Very nice. I havent sopken with him in length, but am planning to do so soon. He was a really really bright chap, was the topper (in the top 3 atleast) in perhaps the toughest discipline at my undergrad alma mater (Mech Engg.), an accomplished tabla player and drummer, and a very very good quizzer (though my undergrad quiz team did dish out some serious hidings to them in various inter-college competitions... ok brag time, I was a univ blue in dramatics having won the quizzing event in the 2002 edition of All India University nationals, end of brag), went onto HLL (Unilever of India) as a management trainee I beleive (the toughest job to crack in campus placements at that time), and is now all set to come into HBS. Way to go !!

I also recently discovered that another of my UG junior is in Darden right now, set to graduate next year !!!

Anyhoo as per my MBA goes, I have taken the first baby steps towards the GMAT, meaning ordered the books (whole of manhattan, OG, and ahem ahem cough cough Richard Montauk's book!!)

Now I dont have anything personal against Montauk, but these self help, self development, chicken soup for the soul/mba/life kind of books really get under my skin. Dont get me wrong, I read a lot, but I once tried to read "The world is flat" and then "The monk who sold his ferrarri" (both came highly recommended), and I was cursing in utter frustration within the first 50 pages, the plethora of cliches in those books are mind-numblingly astronomical. Hopefully Montauk lets me get past 50 pages.

But the signs are ominous, another of my friends apping for Fall 09 was all ga-ga over some Morpheus-que matrix that the book supposedly has that can allegedly lay bare your life as soon as you fill it up. Dont know about him, but I would like to believe that my life cannot be strait jacketed and matrixifed as easily as that. But it is supposed to have some adcom winning essays, so it shouldnt be all bad, though my Bullshit-quotient detector will be on high alert. Maybe I'll post a detailed review once the book comes in.

What else, o yea, a shoutout to Forrest Gump for his replies to my email queries. One of the main points of which were, whether an interest in finance (which is probably the reason for my mba quest) should be mentioned in my apps, given that there is NO supporting evidence to back that up. His line was that one can potray oneself as a career changer and thus weave stuff around it, but I am still ultra-skeptical about that. I have a strong case for SC for the energy and commodity space, and as someone pointed out (Soni??), that you should stick with things that you can tie up (Background--->Past exp--->Future goal) into one cognitive entity for the adcom. (This is beginning to sound like a cliche now, belaboring the same point over and over... GAAAHHH)

And to finish this piece off, an OMG sized howler to the Clearadmit folks, somehow my blog never features in their Friday-Frontline reporting !!! Sacrilege !! Clearadmit folks you need some Paris Hilton spice to keep your piece interesting, yea yea I know you have volumes of pages covering essays of all and any school on the planet earth and all that blaah. BUT that gets a bit boring after some-time, what with the often used phrase accompanying any and every essay analysis "Now remember to tie up your experience no.X to your School no.Y fit", "This is a modified version of the career gols essay, but with a few caveats". Guys guys, c'mon, get Paris on board and see your eyeballs double (well maybe not double but you are guaranteed one extra narcisstic eyeball from houston,texas).

Till next time, happy essaying applicants....

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday schedule

Having spent the whole of saturday in the office, I am ready for a stress-filled fun sunday (was that an oxymoron--oh w/e). Sunday is the BIG day for online tournament poker. Most of the online sites run some of the bigger buy-ins and big-payout tournaments on sunday. And this week there is some added juice.

Today is the last day of Full-tilt's Full-Tilt Online Poker Series IX (FTOPS IX), and having missed out all of the previous events in FTOPS IX ( due to work grrrrrrrrr) I am gonna play both of today's events.

My schedule for today (on FTOPS IX):
2:00 PM EST: $129 No-Limit Holdem Knockout, $400,000 guaranteed
6:00 PM EST: $535 No-Limit Holdem Main event, $2,500,000 guaranteed

Also might play (on Pokerstars):

3:30 PM EST: $215 No-Limit Holdem Sunday Million : $1.5M guaranteed
6:00 PM EST: $215 No-Limit Holdem Sunday Second chance: $700,000 guaranteed

One freaking time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hedge fund tracking

J over at Market Folly has started his hedge fund tracking series as hedge funds, with $100 million+ in AUM (asset under mgmt), start disclosing their holdings as of Jun 30th 08 to the SEC . And as always it is extremely interesting to see where and in what sectors the "big and smart money" is going in and out off.

Some of the hedge funds he will be tracking and reporting on are:

-Blue Ridge Capital (John Griffin)
- Lone Pine Capital (Steve Mandel)
- Maverick Capital (Lee Ainslie)
- Viking Global (Andreas Halvorsen)
- Tiger Global (Chase Coleman)
- Touradji Capital (Paul Touradji
- Tudor Investment Corp (Paul Tudor Jones)
- Moore Capital (Louis Bacon)
- Caxton Associates (Bruce Kovner)

"Straight up beastly funds" which you have to keep an eye on due to their awesome returns over the years:

- Atticus Capital (Timothy Barakett)
- Tremblant Capital (Bret Barakett)
- Clarium Capital (Peter Thiel)
- Pequot Capital Management (Art Samberg)
- Harbinger Capital (Philip Falcone)
- BP Capital (Boone Pickens)
- Greenlight Capital (David Einhorn)
- Paulson & Co (John Paulson)
- Jana Partners (Barry Rosenstein)

A few deep value & activist funds:

- Third Point (Daniel Loeb)
- Pershing Square (Bill Ackman)
- Okumus Capital (Ahmet Okumus)
- T2 Partners (Whitney Tilson)
- Tontine Partners (Jeffrey Gendell)

And, a few new funds on the scene:

- Conatus Capital (David Stemerman, ex-Lone Pine)
- Highliner Investment Group (Anand Parekh, ex-Citadel)

A massive shoutout to J for his huge effort in going through the 13Fs and coming up with his reports. Much appreciated.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Why so serious??

For one because I've been a busy-bee at work. A new technology is being shipped out of the lab, going in for its first "production" run, and OMG being the lead on this technology, you can guesstimate the busy-ness of this bee. And since no-one from work reads this blog, I'll go out on a limb and leak some juicy bit of privy info--> the "production run" of this new technology is going to be on one of the biggest oil-discoveries of our times (think chevron, think back a couple of months).
Shhhhhhhh.... dont tell anyone... mums the word... else i'll have to shoot you... etc etc.

Anyway what else is going on in the OMG world??

Oh yes, of course the stock market AND IT--IS-----> EARNINGS SEASON!!!!
Trum-La-La-La , Drumrolls and bring on all that jazz please
Did I mention that we are in a market where the current trade is : oil=natural gas=coal=iron-ore=fertilizers=global-growth. What that means is that the whole commodity sector is trading as a group. If oil goes down, then so does fertilizer (did I mention on the back of stellar earnings, eg
Mosanto, Potash, etc etc ), of course lets forget the fact that fertilizer has nothing to do with crude-oil, but for now, for the hedge fund computers atleast, anything even remotely commodity-sounding has to be puked out.

Most of the charts of my fav stocks in these sectors have broken down, and I am going to open positions/reload soon (soon btw is not this week). On the radar: CHK(nat gas), MOS(fertilizer),MEE(coal),ANR(coal),RIG (oil-drilling),CLF(iron-ore mining) to name a few.

I recently read a hedge fund guru's comments (I forget whether it was
Stephen Mandel of Lone Pine Capital or Louis Bacon of Moore Capital Management) that they try and catch a lot of bottoms, because that is where the big profits are going to come from. Their mantra goes something like this:
Catch the bottom, not the middle, definitely not the top-->reiterate that fundamentals are in place--> have the balls to pull the trigger and place "big bets" on that bottom.

Note the huge emphasis on the balls-worthiness and big bets, that is the key because if you are not going to place a big bet on what you think is a bottom then your profits arent going to be spectacular. On an average what they said is that if they catch 4-5 right bottoms and place big bets on those per year, they will usually return 30%+ that year. Another interesting part of this article was the fact that hedge funds usually consider I-bankers as glorified pencil pushers at best. This is, kind of, in-line with my thinking that sell-side finance is crap.

And the point of all this bottom-talk is that I think I caught a bottom in this Russian ex-superstar. Bought a big chunk at $20. And we had caught a bottom in early July in this potentially huge Chinese growth story in the high 7s.


Lets see what else.... anything that relates to an MBA. Essays, GMAT blues, school-fitting, anything... what about an IB/MC debate...... Naaaahh!!!!! Too boring.... And Oh-My-God, we dont want to be boring do we. Thats so not Paris Hilton baby.

Disclosure: Long CHK, RIG, MTL, MOS, CFSG in Personal account