Looking for the DxF Conference?




Current selection


Next article

Previous article







Links mentioned in
this article


Bubble Boy at the Bay 101 Shooting Star Ornament Mar 1st, 2004

Just call me Bubble Boy. A sucker if you want to be mean.

If you don’t play poker, you may not have heard the term “on the bubble.” Basically, in any tournament structure, there’s always a line drawn where people get paid and people don’t. When you reach the point where you are one player away from the money, this phase of the tournament is known as the bubble. You don’t want to be on the non-paying side of the bubble. It’s as sickening a feeling to get to play the game all day and miss the money payouts by one.

Yesterday, I played a $1500 no-limit hold ’em tournament at the Bay 101 Shooting Star. I had won my seat from a $220 satellite, so I was playing cheaper than most. We started the day at 11:15 am. By the time 9:30 pm rolled around, there were 19 players left, with only 18 players getting paid. There were two short stacks left in the game. I was one of the short stacks.

And I got the bubble prize. I cracked out in 19th position.

Read on if you want to hear my account on what was one of the more interesting days of tournament poker I have ever played, from my point of view.

How I won my seat

I’ll start this account with how I got my seat back in November. It’s a bad beat story, but one I find somewhat humorous.

I bought in to a 30 to 40 player satellite, and out of the group, 4 players were getting paid. First place was to receive the $5000 seat to the World Poker Tour event, which happens this Wedensday. The other 3 players got $1500 seats, the game that occured yesterday. With 4 players left, I was second in chips, sitting around T31,000. The chip leader, a dealer named Chang who I had played with often, had T32,000 in chips. The other players, one of whom was Dick Corpuz, a local pro and high on last year’s money list, had approximately T18,000 and T15,000.

We had just come back from a break and sat down. I was in the small blind, and Chang was in the big blind. With blinds of T3,000 / T6,000, both Dick Corpuz and the other player mucked their hands. I looked down and found ASpade KClub. I made it roughly T15,000 to go, not expecting Chang to call. To my surprise, he looked down and within a split second, moved all in.

I was a bit dumbstruck.

I had just put half my chip stack into the pot, so I had no choice. I called behind him and expected him to turn over a low pocket pair. But he turned over ADiamond 3Club ! I was loving this. Why on earth Chang had risked his entire stack on an ADiamond 3Club was beyond me, but I love the move.

That is, of course, until the flop came 2Diamond 4Club 5Spade.

So, with that brutal beat, instead of playing the $5000 game this Wednesday, I was relegated to playing the $1500 game.

Drawing hard

Yesterday started out rough. I drew easily the toughest table in the entire tournament. Of the 15 tables and 150 players, I was at table 3, seat 9. In seat 3 was Amir Vahedi. You can catch Amir in the repeats of the 2003 World Series of Poker on ESPN, where he played tough, but managed to bluff at he wrong time to take 6th. In seat 5 was Scotty Nguyen, and to his immediate left in seat 6 was Layne Flack. You can read about my encounters with each of them before in my other poker articles on this site. In seat 8 to my immediate right was Tony Ma, another solid tough player.

Needless to say, I did not like my table draw.

Confrontation with Amir

I had one great clash with Amir early on in the tournament. I think it might have been level 3. I was in the cutoff (one next to the dealer button) and limped in behind Tony Ma with 8Diamond 7Diamond. Amir was in the big blind if I recall. The pot had four of us in.

The flop came down JSpade TSpade 4Club . The small blind checked, as did Amir, as did Tony Ma. So I decided to make a play at it and bet something small, like T500. The small blind folded, and Amir raised to T1,000. (It might have been T1,200, I’m forgetting off the top of my head.) Tony folded, and I had been pushed around all day up to this point, so I decided to call the raise to see if I could make a play at Amir on the turn. (That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.)

The turn was a 9Club. I hit the bottom straight. I expected Amir to check to me, at which point I would bet strongly. But Amir wasn’t about to back down after his check-raise. He bet T1,500 into the pot. I thought about raising him, but I wasn’t entirely sure is he was playing a Jack only, two pair, or a flush draw. He had me covered easily, so if I raised all in and was wrong on what he had, there was a chance after all he had KSpade QSpade or QSpade 8Spade, I would be done for the day. So I flat called behind him.

The river was a harmless 6Diamond. Again, I expected Amir to check to me. But he bet T1,500 at me again. I had T4,000 left at this stage, and rather than putting it all in, I played it safe and just flat called behind him. He turned over KSpade JClub , and my straight won. He looked quit a bit upset when he saw my 8Diamond 7Diamond, obviously wondering how in the hell I could first make a bet at the pot with it, and then calling his check-raise on the flop.

I don’t have good answers other than I needed to play something, and not look like I was getting bullied out of every pot. I just happened to hit this one. Out of all the hands I played in this tournament, this was the only one I misplayed, but got lucky to win it. It also put a nice question mark over my head on what I would play and when.

Aces to the left of me, Aces to the right

One aspect of my play I’m fairly happy with from yesterday was that I escaped not from one pair of Aces, not even two, but four hands where my opponent held pocket Aces. In two of those hands, I had an Ace with a face card myself. In total, I lost the minimum amount I could up against those hands, somewhere in the range of T2,000 total.

I spent the first 6 levels doing nothing but dodging bullets it seemed, never able to move beyond the T10,000 starting chip count.

Cracking out Layne Flack

If you have never played with Layne, just know that he can be a real pain in the ass. I completely understand what he does and why he does it, but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with him at the table. His appearances on the World Poker Tour make him look like a fun loving guy. But at the poker table, he shoots every angle possible, talks trash as much as he can, and does his best to completely disrupt the flow of the game. At one point, he even reached over and flipped up both of my cards after I had revealed only one and mucked the other. Uncool and a sleazy move at best, something that would have pissed off many players. I shrugged it off and was committed to not letting his antics get the best of me.

Layne tries to make everyone play off balance, which works to his advantage. Besides, yesterday’s $1500 game was a pittance to the games he normally plays in.

When he sat down to play at 11:15 am, Layne already had a Budweiser in hand. He had managed to play a rollercoaster game, raising pre-flop some 75% of the time for the hands he was dealt, and 25% of the time not even looking at his hand. Or claiming not to look, but I caught him doing so quickly a few times. Ask anyone at the table. He was in full maniac play mode.

Here’s some choice examples of Layne’s maniac play. In early position, Layne raises pre-flop a standard 3x to 4x raise. He gets called by player on the button. The flop comes 6Diamond 6Heart 4Heart, and Layne moves all in with a short stack. Player on the button calls him, and turns over ADiamond KSpade. Layne turns over 6Club 3Club.

A player in late position makes a standard 3x to 4x raise. Layne on the button instantly goes all-in. The player who made the initial raise thinks a moment, then calls, turning over AClub QSpade. Layne turns over 9Spade 3Club. The flop comes 6Diamond 6Club 2Diamond. The turn spikes the 3Diamond, the river is a harmless 2Heart. Layne cracks the guy out of the tournament on that hand.

Against, me, I limped in small blind with KClub 6Spade, and four way action. Flop comes KHeart KDiamond 5Diamond, I check, big blind checks, Layne in middle position goes all in for T4,800 or so. Folded to me and I call his all-in bet. He turns over 3Diamond 2Diamond. I turn over my KClub 6Spade. Turn is a 4Heart, river is a 9Diamond. I double Layne up.

There was much more than this. So much more.

But Layne finally ran into two walls. The first occurred in level 6, when he got all of his chips in with KSpade KClub to a player who held 9heart 9Diamond. A 9Spade spiked on the turn, and crippled Layne from T30,000 or so down to T13,000 or so. The second wall came up against me in level 7. We had just come back from a break, and Layne goes all in from the button when it is folded to him. I look down in small blind and find QDiamond QHeart. I think for a good two minutes, mostly because I was fairly sure Layne had at least an Ace, but probably not a King kicker. I thought much too long about it, but finally made the call I needed. Turns out Layne had ADiamond 5Heart. The flop came a QSpade and the rest were bricks. I double up and Layne hits the road.

Once Layne left the game, things got back to normal. His impact on a game is markedly noticeable, as Scotty played much more conservatively while he had Layne on his left. As soon as Layne exited the game, Scotty changed his entire style. It was interesting to watch a player like Scotty work the conservative angle which is not his normal style due to having a player like Layne to his immediate left.

Jack Ten is my new friend

I’ve always enjoyed playing Jack Ten, but yesterday, it was the hand that got me through a lot of tough spots. Out of the ten or so steals I made in the latter stages of the tournament, I remember at least half of them being with Jack Ten.

On one key hand, it actually paid me quite well. The hand was against a local player, Ravi, who has played against me many times. I made a steal raise with JDiamond TDiamond on the button, only to have Ravi come over the top and raise me from the big blind. I decided to play the hand, and I flat called him.

The flop came TClub TSpade 9Spade. Score! Ravi checked to me, and I made a slightly smaller than pot sized bet at him. He thought about it for a bit, but called a bit more quickly than made me comfortable. The turn came a 7Club. Ravi checked to me and I immediately went all in. Ravi hemmed and hawed a little, but again, he called me rather quickly, saying something to the effect of “I have invested a lot of chips already in this hand, I have to go all the way.”

Ravi turned over a ASpade 2Spade! I was a bit shocked he called me down with this hand. The river was a 8Diamond, and my trips turned into a straight. I doubled-up and felt great.

Big Slick strikes again

I proceed to blind and ante off a lot of hands, eating into my medium size chip stack. I felt the need that I couldn’t coast, and needed to catch one more big hand to make it to the final table. So, I got what I thought would be that hand in the form of ADiamond KDiamond. A middle position player, with about T16,000 in chips made a raise to T4,000 pre-flop. The blinds were T600 / T1,200 at this stage, with T75 antes. It was folded to me, and I made the hand T10,000 to go.

He thought about it, and flat called my raise behind, leaving him with only T6,000 left. I have no idea why he didn’t just raise all-in, but he didn’t. The flop came QDiamond 8Club 6Heart, and I moved all in in first position. He beat me into the pot, turning over 6Club 6Spade. I lost that critical hand, knocking my stack down into the T25,000 range.

I never recovered from that hand.

Further, the player went on three hands later to knock out Scotty Nguyen with pocket Aces, and built his chip stack up into the T80,000 range.

Thanks Diego!

So I battle my way to 19 players left on three tables, short stacked and desperately looking to double up. But it was not happening. Worse, with 19 players left, it was taking forever to knock out the bubble player. A deal was passed around at the other two tables to go ahead and take $1,500 off the prize money and give it to the 19th place finisher, in an attempt to get the game moving again.

But at my table was Diego Cordovez, and he would have none of it. No deals is his policy, and wouldn’t budge.

So, shortstacked, and Diego sweating me, I am dealt 9Heart 9Diamond and go all in to a big stack pre-flop raiser. He turns over QSpade TClub, and the flop comes KHeart QClub JSpade. No Ten appears to save my hand, and I bust out on the bubble, having played all day and nothing to show for it except this blog entry.

As for Diego, I have no idea if he’s playing on the final table today, which is playing cards as I type this. But if he is, I hope he gets his Aces cracked.

Sour grapes? Probably. But I’ll get over it.

Maybe Diego has given me what I need in my poker experience — a tough bubble finish to sharpen my play. Maybe that was his plan. Doesn’t make this pill any easier to swallow.

Always next year

I had played with as much heart as I knew, only to have my cards go dead near the end. I made next to zero mistakes in my play in the tournament, save the hand with Amir. I was not able to catch a really good rush of cards, or take advantage of positions for the most part, especially considering I was seated to the left of Scotty Nguyen and Layne Flack for 3/4 of the day with no way of getting my table broken up.

So, another year, another game. Out of the four big tournaments I’ve played to date (each having buy-ins of $1500), I’ve managed to place in the money twice, busted out cold in one, and grab the bubble in the other. I know I can play, and if I played as much as the pros do, I know I could win my share of big prizes. But there’s obviously far more important things in life than poker, so I’ll have to be content with what I’ve done so far.

But boy is this game fun sometimes.

So, call me Bubble Boy for this month! I’m gonna wear it like a badge of honor.



Standards rant

Repeat after me Separator Standards do not block, impede or otherwise hinder innovation. Businessmen, engineers or product managers who only care about how they want to implement technology or only care about their own bottom line are the ones doing the real damage in the larger economic picture.

Design by Fire strives to be as standards compliant as humanly possible in spite of the fact that those in charge of developing the technology, the browsers and the operating systems can't seem to to code to the W3C specification with 100% compliance.

However, even though I'm a firm believer in standards, I'm beyond sick and tired of trying to figure out what works and what does not work according to the W3C specification. So while I make every attempt to do the right thing, occasionally I'll just do what I have to get the thing working. In other words, if you run any Design by Fire URI through a code validator and find invalid markup or css, please don't bother sending me an email.

With that little rant out of the way, here are some good articles about the benefits of web standards.

And of course, there's Zeldman's Designing with Web Standards, which is easily one of the best reads from both a practical and technical point of view on the subject.

All of these sources discuss simplification of code, rapid development, smaller file sizes, faster download times, better accessibility for a larger set of users, easier code maintenance and platform scalability - all benefits of standards at a technological level. There's also some ROI discussion on using standards.

Really Simple Syndication is still a pain in the ass

Here's the RSS feed.

RSS Feed
Design by Fire RSS Feed

You should know the drill by now.

Andrei Michael Herasimchuk

Updated 2010 Separator The quick and dirty summary is that I am largely considered one of the first official interface designers hired by Adobe Systems. That is, the first one hired to do nothing but interface design across the professional product line. I worked personally on the interfaces for Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe InDesign.


One of these days, I'll convince Adobe's legal eagles to let me write a book about all that I have been through while working on those products. I just doubt they'll agree to it in my lifetime. Until, then you'll have to be satisfied with the History of Photoshop, an article written by a long-time friend of mine, Jeff Schewe.


Director, Design Team bullet Twitter
March 2011 - Present

Sr. Director of Product Design
Applications bullet Yahoo!
September 2009 - March 2011

Chief Design Officer, Co-Founder bullet Involution Studios
July 2004 - September 2009

Project Lead, Adobe Lightroom bullet Adobe Systems
December 2002 - June 2004

Director, User Interface bullet ePeople
April 2001 - December 2002

Director, User Interface bullet Impresse
January 2000 - April 2001

Director, User Interface bullet Mambo.com
August 1999 - January 2000

Senior User Interface Designer bullet Adobe Systems
August 1995 - July 1999

Co-Founding Member, Director bullet Specular Int'l
June 1990 - August 1995


Having the opportunity to work on Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom has given me a chance to explore photography in way I would not have had access to otherwise. You can find samples of all my personal work on this web site, and unless otherwise noted, everything here is photographed by me.

For a short period of time, I was exploring a screenwriting career. I had a script optioned by Hyde Park Entertainment (a division of MGM), a studio that has since gone under. I even had an agent in Beverly Hills for a short period of time.

I enjoy playing poker on the side and find the game infinitely fascinating. I have made the final table in a few bigger tournaments. One at The Hall of Fame Poker Classic and the other at the Bay 101 Open, but no World Series of Poker bracelet for me yet. I have had the opportunity to play against some world-class poker professionals and have gotten crushed by them.

In my off time I play bass guitar and far too many video games.

Publications and Awards

Industry Awards bullet 1995-2000
Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign have won far too many awards than is possible to list here.

The History of Photoshop bullet February 2000
An article written by Jeff Schewe for Photo Electronic Imaging Magazine. This covers the history and development of Photoshop. A copy of this article can be found here in PDF format. You can also find another copy on Jeff's web site, Schewe Photography.

Design Graphics, Cover Story bullet June 1999, Issue 46
This article covered the work I did on the redesign of the professional product line while at Adobe.

Collage with Photoshop bullet 1994
This book features 14 digital artists using Photoshop and Specular Collage. I'm only mentioned in the prologue, but the book was created to promote Collage and what digital artists were doing with it at the time. I'm still fairly proud about the book and the work produced inside of it.


Amherst College bullet 1989 to 1990
Left Amherst College to start Specular Int'l

The Hill School bullet 1984 to 1988
College preperatory school.


andrei@designbyfire.com bullet To avoid getting tagged by my spam filter, be sure to create a meaningful subject line.

Colophon and other details

Design by Fire v4.0 Separator A quick overview of the design and implementation of DxF for those who care about such details.

Browser Support

If you are viewing Design by Fire in either Firefox or Safari, congratulations! You are experiencing Design by Fire in the manner it was intended. If you are using Internet Explorer 6.0 or less, you have my sympathies as you are getting a version slightly less dynamic. The reason for that is due to Microsoft's lack of support for the CSS property "position: fixed;" plus a few other things.

Get Firefox

Bottom line, Internet Explorer promises to fix these things in version 7, so in the meantime you can either download the beta for IE7 or switch to Firefox.


If you have purchased the Adobe Creative Suite, you should have Helvetica Neue installed in your font library. If so, then you are reading Design by Fire as it was intended to be read. For everyone else, you are either seeing Lucida Grande or Arial.


Clearly, Helvetica Neue is far superior.

As for the logotype of Design by Fire, it's set using the classic Bodoni typeface, complete with ligature for that extra flourish.

Content Management System

This version of Design by Fire is managed using WordPress. So long MovableType.

Copyright Information

Design by Fire is ©copyright by Andrei Michael Herasimchuk. All rights reserved.

You may not use any material, articles, logos, essays, technical illustrations, photos or any content from this site without expressed written permission.

Design articles

This page intentionally left blank Bullet Oct 31st, 2008

Keeping up with the Joneses Bullet Aug 16th, 2007

Introducing Spivot Bullet Mar 5th, 2007

The unfortunate death of Helvetica Bullet Oct 23rd, 2006

An Open letter to John Warnock Bullet Aug 28th, 2006

Convenient Lessons from An Inconvenient Truth Bullet Aug 2nd, 2006

The kids aren’t alright Bullet Jul 17th, 2006

The Culture of Fugly Bullet Jun 25th, 2006

Please make me think! Are high-tech usability priorities backwards? Bullet Oct 10th, 2004

Rebranding the World Wide Web Consortium Bullet Sep 30th, 2004

You say toe – may – toe, I say [expletive] that Bullet Aug 17th, 2004

Gurus v. Bloggers, Round 2 Bullet Jun 20th, 2004

Design Eye for the Usability Guy Bullet May 18th, 2004

Et tu, Brute? Bullet May 6th, 2004

I would RTFM if there was an FM to FR Bullet Apr 30th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part III Bullet Apr 27th, 2004

Gurus v. Bloggers, Round 1 Bullet Apr 9th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part II Bullet Mar 31st, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part I Bullet Mar 29th, 2004

Redesigning Google’s search results page Bullet Jan 25th, 2004

Lifestyle articles

Welcome to the new school, same as the old school. Bullet Jun 19th, 2006

Bubble Boy at the Bay 101 Shooting Star Bullet Mar 1st, 2004

Beginner’s Tips for Poker Bullet Jan 31st, 2004

Crucial mistakes against Scotty Nguyen Bullet Dec 10th, 2003

Photography articles

Santorini in black and white Bullet Jun 17th, 2004

Santorini in red Bullet Jun 9th, 2004

Santorini in blue Bullet Jun 8th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part III Bullet Apr 27th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part II Bullet Mar 31st, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part I Bullet Mar 29th, 2004

Party like it’s 1999 Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

An Oakland Rave Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

Random favorites from the shoebox Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

Portraits of Donna and Alexa Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

Politics archive

How terrorism works Bullet Sep 10th, 2004