Scott's Thoughts

Firmware updates for the FUJIFILM X-E2, X-Pro1, X-E1

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MTB Night Riding by the Numbers”

Onion Hold ’Em

Try not to cry as you peel away your cards while making your way to the showdown in this variant of Hold ‘Em poker.


Onion is Hold 'Em poker, with four hole cards dealt to each player and discard stages after the flop and turn bets (“peeling the onion”), leaving remaining players with two hole cards at the river. Otherwise, play proceeds as in Texas Hold 'Em. Onion is usually played pot-limit. #OnionPoker


I play in a regular poker game, and we play several variations of the game. Our game started with just Texas Hold 'Em, then expanded to Omaha High-Low, and now has many additional variations in rotation. We originally limited games to ones played in the World Series of Poker, but even that limit has been stretched. For instance, one of our players recently introduced a game which he read about on a blog, which he said made it “real”. I’ve created a variation that I feel is as fun–more fun, in fact–than several of the ones in rotation, and since making a blog post is enough to make it real, here’s it is: Onion Hold 'Em.


Onion is typically played pot-limit (it’s the other PLO). That is, the amount a player may commit to the pot with each bet is limited to the amount in the pot from previous betting rounds, plus any committed chips from players who acted earlier in the current round. That said, there’s no reason it can’t be played as a no-limit game; the game mechanic of “peeling the onion” is simply more interesting if the game gets to its later stages. Playing Onion as a limit game may also be fun for the same reason, although I haven’t tried it.

Summary of Game Flow

For players who are familiar with Texas Hold 'Em, this is a concise description of the game; a detailed version is below.

  1. Four cards are dealt face down to each player, instead of the normal two. Bet as normal, based on the hole cards dealt. Each player will eventually be making a five card hand with five community cards and two hole cards after later rounds, just as in Texas Hold 'Em.

  2. Flop and bet occur as in Texas Hold 'Em.

  3. “Peel the onion.” That is, each player discards a card from his hand, face down, leaving him with three remaining hole cards. This mechanic forces each player to choose among possible draws and made hands, which is where the game gets its name; “Peeling the onion” may make one want to cry, as it can in the kitchen. ;)

  4. Turn, bet, and “peel” again, leaving two hole cards in each player’s hand.

  5. River, bet, and showdown as in Texas Hold 'Em.

Detailed Game Flow

  1. The deal. Each player is dealt four cards face down from a standard fifty-two card poker deck (that is, all cards of values: two to ten; jack; queen; king; ace, from all four suits: clubs; diamond; hearts; spades). Each player should keep these “hole cards” from being identified by other players.

  2. The first round of betting. Starting to the dealer’s left, each player may: check (pass the action to the next player without betting, if no bet has yet been made in this round); open the betting (be the first player to bet his hand); raise a previous bet (by a minimum equal to the amount of any previous raise); call a previous bet (commit the total amount the previous player has committed to the pot, but not adding any additional raise); fold (abandon the hand face down at no cost other than any bet already committed earlier in the hand). Each player may choose from these available actions in turn, moving clockwise around the table, until all players have acted and have either folded or committed the same amount of chips to the pot. The only reason a player should have less committed than other players is if he has no chips remaining to commit, in which case he is said to be “all-in”. An all-in player can continue to a showdown without further betting, but can only win an amount equal to the number of chips in the pot when he committed his last chips, matched by each player still in the hand. Remaining players continue play as normal, starting a side pot for additional bets.

  3. The flop. Three community cards are dealt face up in the center of the table.

  4. Second round of betting. Betting commences according to the same rules outlined earlier.

  5. Peeling the onion, part one. The namesake round of the game: Each player discards exactly one of their hole cards, face down.

  6. The turn. A fourth community card is dealt face up so that there are now four community cards in the middle of the table.

  7. Third round of betting. Again, as before.

  8. Peeling the onion, part two. Each remaining player discards exactly one of their three remaining hole cards, again doing so face down, leaving each with two hole cards remaining.

  9. The river. A fifth (and last) community card is dealt face up with the other four.

  10. Final round of betting. A fourth round of betting proceeds as before.

  11. Showdown. Each remaining player reveals their hole cards, starting from the dealer’s left and working clockwise around the table. The best possible five card hand is constructed from the two hole cards and the five community cards. Any or all of the community cards may be used to construct the hand, and it is ranked with all other previous hands according to standard poker rules. A player may elect to abandon his hand, and all of his bets, without showing the hand. The player with the best five-card poker hand wins the pot. Ties split the pot among players with equivalent hands.


Crazy Onion. Play is as described above, but each card discarded during the “peel” stages is discarded face up. This added information can aid opponents, but can also be used by the canny player to convince other players that his hand is better than it is. When discarding face up, it is customary to do so after all players in the hand have selected their cards to be discarded, and once discarding has begun, players may not change their selection.

Crazier Onion. This is the same as Crazy Onion, above, but cards are discarded face up starting from the dealer’s left and working around the table clockwise until all players have discarded. Players need not select a card to discard until it is their turn; they get the advantage of seeing the discard choices of players who are further out-of-position.

Comments Welcome

Tweet or post to Facebook or Google Plus with the hashtag “#OnionPoker”. I’ll incorporate feedback here.

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WebStorm, Meteor, and “Unresolved Function”

WebStorm, a JavaScript IDE that I think is just wonderful, added Meteor support in its new version 9. However, I’ve found a rather annoying problem: When you import a Meteor package, like Iron Router, the IDE doesn’t recognize the members of the imported library. When you look at code using the new library, say a line that says, you’ll see it flagged as an error like “Unresolved function or method map()”.

Meteor stores the packages that it’s using in its .meteor directory and has a list of them in .meteor/packages as plain text. It turns out that you can make WebStorm recognize all the imported packages by opening the .meteor directory in WebStorm’s editor, and clicking the “Import packages as library” link in the top left:

Import Packages

Problem solved!

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Captain Marvel

‘Captain Marvel’ will be Marvel’s first female superhero movie”, according to The Verge.

I can’t wait to be able to take my daughter to this and Wonder Woman. I’m glad to see the girls getting some superhero movies! Luckily, my daughter is a big fan of the (sadly canceled) Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes animated series, which featured Captain Marvel prominently in its second season.

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Whither Serrano?

If you don’t know what Serrano is already, this post isn’t for you. :)

A Brief History

Serrano’s been around in one form or another for over 10 years. If you go back as far as the BBS-based versions before I named it “Serrano”, it goes back to 1997. Its time may be at hand, though.

I’ve had some long overdue maintenance to do on the server I use to host Serrano, among other things. I decided to do that work yesterday (Sunday), and broke Serrano. The problem is that we haven’t been using Serrano at all, and I haven’t kept up the underlying libraries that keep it working. After taking a look at fixing it today, I found myself asking “Should I?”

The Future

Right now, I’ve redirected it here to my blog. I could get it limping along without too much effort, although search would be broken until I put in more time. Right now, I’m leaning towards letting it go. If you feel that Serrano still has some use, let me know and perhaps I’ll reconsider.

iPhone 6 First Impressions

I’ve had the iPhone 6 for a couple of hours now, so I thought I’d jot down my first impressions. I’ve also had a small amount of hands-on time with the 6 Plus, which we ordered for work.


The big questions (pardon the pun) are around the new sizes. At unboxing, I thought the 6 felt fine, but also thought the 6 Plus wasn’t quite as ludicrously oversized as I thought when I originally saw the Samsung Galaxy Note and friends. Maybe I’m just getting used to seeing them. However, when I started using the 6, it was just too big for me to get my thumb up to the top corner to hit the standard back arrow for navigation. I’ve since started to hold the phone a little differently to compensate, but it’s still not right. We’ll see how it feels after a few days.

The Plus just feels like there’s no way you use it one-handed. Its so large that you’re almost rewarded by holding it in landscape. It’s not for me.

The Screen

The screen on both models is gorgeous. They’re clearly sharper than my iPhone 5. The Plus is noticeably sharper than the regular 6, but not enough to make up for the size issue, in my opinion.

Touch ID

This is my first phone with Touch ID–I skipped the 5S–and I love Touch ID. It’s great that iOS 8 has opened Touch ID to apps; it’s wonderful that 1Password has integrated it. (Also, much love to 1Password for its new ability to fill passwords in Safari!)

Bottom Line

So far, I like the phone a lot, except the size. I wish I could have bought a 4-inch iPhone 6 (iPhone 6 Classic?) with all the benefits of the 6, but without the size increase. We’ll see how I feel after a week or so.

Scott Hill, elsewhere on the web: