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Crucial mistakes against Scotty Nguyen Ornament Dec 10th, 2003

So, here’s a sequence of two hands I played against Scotty Nguyen that I consider mistakes. Others I have discussed this with aren’t 100% sure they were complete disasters, but my feeling is that I misplayed both of these hands, costing me a chance to knock out Scotty and move myself into a higher money position.

[You can read the tournament results of this game on Poker Pages.]

The game was limit hold ’em at the Binions Hall of Fame Poker Classic. The buy in was $1500, and I had won my seat from winning the Omaha/8 tournament at the Garden City Speedway of Poker.

We were down to six players left at the final table, and only five were getting paid. Three of us were short stacked. Myself, Scotty and Bernie Grio. Of the three short stacks, I was in the middle, with Scotty having more than me.

I had been playing fairly tight and conservative, and had only seen maybe four hands in the span of hour and half of play at the final table after I had cracked out Huck Seed.

I discovered earlier in the day that this limit hold ’em tournament played more like what I consider a real poker game. Meaning, bets on the river would rarely get called, three bets were respected, and hardly anyone made an overcall when it was called in front of them at the river. This is counter to anything one might encounter playing at Garden City.

The point here is that I learned I needed to three bet preflop whenever I really wanted to get heads up with someone.

I was in the cut-off, Scotty sitting to my immediate right in seat one. It was folded to Scotty and he raised. I look down and see ADiamond JSpade. My first real hand in quite some time, but since of the six of us, only five got paid, I was a bit nervous of spending an entire day working hard at my game with these guys only to bust out on the bubble. I needed to play the hand though or risk getting into trouble as a short stack. So I three bet Scotty. As expected everyone folds and Scotty calls. (Humberto Brenes had a massive chip lead, and had I not three bet it, I know he would have called a single raise in the big blind position.)

The flop came ASpade 8Heart 4Diamond. Scotty bet into me. I thought about it, worrying my kicker might not be good. But I wasn’t fully convinced of that yet, so I went ahead and called waiting to see the turn before I made any crucial final decision on the hand. The turn came a blank, something like 3Club. Scotty paused and check to me. I didn’t want to get check raised, and since I was not liking my kicker, I went ahead and checked behind him to get a free card.

As I tapped the table, Scotty got seriously animated. “What? You check!?! What?!” He started talking in typical Scotty Nguyen fashion. If you’ve seen him on the World Poker Tour or ESPN’s World Series of Poker, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

The river came an offsuit Jack, a JClub! And as soon as the card hit the table, Scotty fired a bet into the pot in dramatic fashion.

I froze.

I had my two pair, but Scotty’s table talk and firing his chips so quickly threw me off.

I went into think mode, and started speculating that maybe my initial read was wrong. That he might not have had AK or AQ and that maybe he slow played a set of 8s on me. I got myself into a vicious loop of thinking that my hand was not the best, and that I couldn’t raise here. I let Scotty’s antics cloud my ability to think.

So I stood up out of my chair, looked around, saw that Donna was sitting on the rail behind me looking tenser than I felt, and decided I couldn’t risk it. I said out loud, “I have absolutely no idea why I’m not raising you. I call. I have top two pair.” I turned over the ADiamond JSpade.

Scotty was furious. He slammed his cards into the muck. I think he was mad because he thought I was trying to grandstand on him in front of everyone, when in truth, I was simply confused about what I thought he had and had seriously lost my nerve. By his reaction, he might have had AK or AQ, hell even A8 maybe, but with Scotty, you never know.

The mistake here was not extracting that extra bet out of him. He might not have called, but I think he would have when I think back on it. The other mistake was that if I flat called him at the river, I should have let him turn over his cards so I could see what he had and store that information for future use. I turned mine over first, so I let that opportunity go and lost an extra bet.

Scotty starts grumbling to Benny Binion, who is standing right behind the both of us. Layne Flack half smiles and looks at me and says, “You ever play like that against me when you have the best hand, we’ll have some words.” He was ribbing me in a not so serious manner, as he and I had been talking back and forth all day.

I scoop my chips feeling good I at least got some breathing room as the short stack and the cards are dealt for the next hand. Scotty, still angry, raises in front of me again under the gun.

I look down at my cards at see KClub KSpade!

I three bet, and now the table and the rail get very quiet. Everyone folds very quickly, and Scotty stares me down with a scowl for a good thirty seconds, and then calls.

The flop comes ADiamond KHeart 8Heart. I flopped a set. Perfect!

Scotty checks to me. I pause a second, and then decided to bet it. Without hesitation, Scotty check raises me! I stop stacking my chips from the previous hand and begin to think. Scotty had something like two or three big bets left, and he checked raised me. He was seriously crippled and I could knock him out. I was also fairly sure he didn’t have pocket Aces.

But then I let my nerves get the best of me. The Ace on the board is not the heart. The last thing I wanted was a flush to nail me if Scotty had the Ace of hearts, or some weird running straight hit the board. We were so close to the money. This was my first big tournament ever, and I had played with these guys all day and held my ground. I didn’t want to risk anything and wanted to keep my newly acquired chip stack.

So I raised Scotty back, figuring I would make him pay to draw to win or force him to fold crippled. He stared at me for about two minutes, and I just sat there, waiting for him to figure out what was going to happen. I actually thought he was going to go ahead and call.

Then the buzzer went of from the clock for a break. Scotty threw his cards into the muck, and I showed the table the Cowboys. Scotty pulled out a cigarette, and stormed away outside to go smoke, yelling at everyone around the entire time about me. I had pissed him off big time, but he cooled off outside, and with those two and half bets, Scotty caught a huge rush and came back to win the thing.

So, I made a bunch of mistakes here. I got gun shy at the wrong time after already getting gun shy on the previous hand. I let a player like Scotty off the hook when I could have finished him. And worse, I showed the table my cards, which gave me nothing in terms of image value except to show everyone I was a scared player.

I have never made these mistakes since, I am happy to say.



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.

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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