Friday, June 17, 2022

Giant Photo Dump: Video Poker Porn, Brian Wilson, Chicago, Koala Pete Visit, Red Rock Canyon and Blogger Meet Up Game


How sweet this one was. I will always accept 20,000 nickels. 

Four more Aces
And to prove that I don't discriminate, four jacks.
Brian Wilson. He looked like he never should have been on stage that night.
Al Jardine's son, Matt, who sings the old Brian Wilson falsetto parts now ... and quite well.
Al Jardine
The supporting band at the end of the show. They are quite good.

A little Chicago
Robert Lamm
Brass section: Jimmy Pankow, Ray Herrmann, Lee Loughnane

Koala Pete was a bundle of energy!
Two spoiled dogs, Pete and blog hero. That big cactus is in my back yard.
Koala Pete, Mrs. lightning36 and yours truly

Red Rock Canyon: Koala Pete, me, Josie and Gary
Pete and VJ
Gary and VJ
From meet up game: Joseph, Luke, VeryJosie, me Mr. Ben and Rob
Also from meet up game: Sahara dealer Michael, Gary, Koala Pete, VeryJosie and Mr. Subliminal
Memorial Day lunch with Rob and Koala Pete

Monday, May 16, 2022

Reminder: May 30: A Poker Blogger Meet Up Game in Las Vegas for Current/Former Poker Bloggers and Readers

Just a quick post to remind people that a meet up $1/$2 NL game (and social gathering for people who will not be playing poker) for current and former poker bloggers and readers is scheduled for two weeks from today -- Monday, May 30 at 6:00pm at the Sahara Las Vegas poker room. If you'd like to get on the list to play, please leave a comment on this blog or send me a private message on Twitter.

The following list is complete as far as I know. The names are in the order that I found out that people planned to play in the game. Some people mentioned they would go in Twitter posts or other places. I grabbed every notice that I saw, but there may have been some that I missed if people didn't contact me the way I previously requested. The list as of Monday, May 23 at 9:00am MST:

  1. @lightning36
  2. @Koalapete
  3. @VeryJosie
  4. The Crafty Southpaw
  5. @LuukeJohnston
  6. @Robvegaspoker
  7. @grrouchie
  8. @mrben09
  9. @PhillyB322
  10. @ZetusLarry
  11. @Vegas724
  12. @Subliminal_Mr
  13. @Hockey_Poker
  14. @fuzzyzilla_art
  15. @dappoker
  16. @VegasGregin
  17. @Abramski_C
  18. @Onechiquita
  19. @Frisco1666
Some people are "maybes" and some people have already informed me that they likely will be late. I am hoping that with this list (and possibly some additions) that we can get at least two tables going to start. There is still room for more on the list. Once the list is depleted, seats will be open to anyone coming to Sahara that night.

Please contact me if you have any questions. It should be a fun evening.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 29, 2022

Announcing: A Poker Blogger Meet Up Game in Las Vegas for Current/Former Poker Bloggers and Readers

If you have never been here before, welcome to the lightning36 poker and life blog: Lightning Strikes -- celebrating 16+ years of whining, crying, and bellyaching. 😀

Some things just begin and grow organically. Old Aussie poker buddy Koala Pete informed me that he would be visiting Las Vegas for about a month beginning in late May. I arranged a trip to coincide with Pete's visit. Another old blogger friend, VeryJosie, heard the news and made trip plans along with another old friend, Gary - the Crafty Southpaw. Once we had several people committed to being in Las Vegas, and thinking back to the recent "drunken poker" gathering that I had gone to, I decided to set up a game for poker bloggers, former poker bloggers and readers.

To go back more than a few years ... Shortly after online poker player Chris Moneymaker's WSOP Main Event victory in 2003, poker exploded across the country and, in fact, much of the world. The number of people who blogged about poker exploded as well. It was common for groups of bloggers to form their own social groups and play private online tournaments together. There were live gatherings in Las Vegas and a few other venues in the US and Canada. It was a great time to be playing online poker and blogging!

Black Friday, April 15, 2011, proved to offer substantial damage to poker as the US government went after some major poker sites and related businesses. Poker blogging declined as most online options were closed to United States residents.

As poker started an upswing several years later, blogging was no longer the in thing. Now, poker vloggers gained in numbers and popularity and podcasts were the way to go. Bloggers became like dinosaurs, disappearing off the cyberworld. Unlike dinosaurs, however, there are still a few poker bloggers around.

The idea of the meet up game is to have fun, share old stories, unite old friends, and talk with the people who wrote blogs, commented on them or just read them for enjoyment. So ... a few details ...

Poker Bloggers Game - for current/former poker bloggers, readers and friends

Monday, May 30, 2022 beginning at 6:00pm at the Sahara Las Vegas poker room

Games will be $1/2 NL. We might throw in a few wacky things like bomb pots or collecting a buck or two from other players at the table if you successfully "drop the hammer" (win a hand with 7-2os). The object is to HAVE FUN!

Players who are already scheduled to play (Twitter names) include:








So ... and this is REALLY IMPORTANT ... in order to make things run smoothly, there will be a list for playing that will be maintained by me. If you'd like to get on the list, please leave your name in a comment on this post or PM me on Twitter. It would be nice to fill up a few tables. We are already well on our way a month before the event.

If you have any questions about the meet up game, please leave a comment or PM me.

Thanks for reading! 😁

Monday, April 25, 2022

Famous Sites in Popular Music -- Part Three: Carefree Highway by Gordon Lightfoot

One of the advantages of having a blog for so long is being able to publish a series of posts over time. Despite some good intentions, I have not followed up on my series of Famous Sites in Popular Music for over 11 years. The first two installments:

Famous Sites in Popular Music -- Part One Dan Fogelberg: Same Old Lang Syne

Famous Sites in Popular Music -- Part Two: The Day the Music Died

But today ... FINALLY, Part Three!

Wikipedia states:

The title comes from a section of Arizona State Route 74 in north Phoenix. Said Lightfoot, "I thought it would make a good title for a song. I wrote it down, put it in my suitcase and it stayed there for eight months." The song employs "Carefree Highway" as a metaphor for the state of mind where the singer seeks escape from his ruminations over a long ago failed affair with a woman named Ann. Lightfoot has stated that Ann actually was the name of a woman Lightfoot romanced when he was age 22: "It [was] one of those situations where you meet that one woman who knocks you out and then leaves you standing there and says she's on her way." states:

Carefree Highway, by Gordon Lightfoot, is one of his most famous songs. Lightfoot wrote Carefree Highway in a rental car, inspired by the sign for the Arizona highway. Lightfoot placed the paper with the lyrics in the glove compartment, and almost left it there! Carefree Highway reached #10 on the billboard charts.

Carefree Highway is a part of Arizona State Route 74, but now also extends beyond SR 74 for several more miles. It is close to a town actually named Carefree.

Before I moved to Arizona, I was actually not even aware that the name of the song was Carefree Highway. With Gordon Lightfoot's unique voice, I perceived the title of the song to be "Every Highway." Learn something new every day!

Carefree Highway

Picking up the pieces of my sweet shattered dream
I wonder how the old folks are tonight
Her name was Ann and I'll be damned if I recall her face 
She left me not knowing what to do 

Carefree highway, let me slip away on you 
Carefree highway, you seen better days 
The morning after blues from my head down to my shoes 
Carefree highway, let me slip away, slip away on you 

Turning back the pages to the times I love best 
I wonder if she'll ever do the same 
Now the thing that I call living is just being satisfied 
With knowing I got no one left to blame 

Carefree highway, I got to see you my old flame 
Carefree highway, you seen better days 
The morning after blues from my head down to my shoes 
Carefree highway, let me slip away, slip away on you 

Searching through the fragments of my dream shattered sleep 
I wonder if the years have closed her mind 
I guess it must be wanderlust or trying to get free 
From the good old faithful feeling we once knew 

Carefree highway, let me slip away on you 
Carefree highway, you seen better days 
The morning after blues from my head down to my shoes 
Carefree highway, let me slip away, slip away on you 
Let me slip away on you 
Carefree highway, I got to see you my old flame 
Carefree highway, you seen better days 
The morning after blues from my head down to my shoes 
Carefree highway, let me slip away, slip away on you

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 17, 2022

CONCLUSION TO THE HAND: What Would You Do? An Actual Poker Hand From Talking Stick Resort Last Night. Put Yourself in My Shoes.

And now for the conclusion to the hand. I have already been chastised on Twitter by @Robvegaspoker for yesterday's tease. Perhaps he feels that I owe readers an apology? Well ... I believe that Andy Kaufman can best express how I feel (NSFW).

So ... 😝. Just kidding, Rob. 😁

As I am the creator and author of this blog, that also makes me the de facto "hero" of the blog. Therefore, it seems only right that this post should end up with the hero winning the hand ... and the girl? However, I am reminded of a quote from the movie "The Shawshank Redemption" : "I wish I could tell you that Andy fought the good fight , and the Sisters let him be. I wish I could tell you that - but prison is no fairy tale world." Is poker a fairy tale world?

After the flop and after all three of us had gotten our our money in, we did not immediately turn over our cards. In my mind I was whispering "Don't pair the board. No diamonds. Hold!" This is the result of the hand:

It all happened so fast. When the turn was dealt, Seat 2 immediately slammed down his cards and yelled "Quads!" I didn't realize it at the time, but at that point, I should have been rooting for the case Ace to fall on the river, as that would mean the bad beat jackpot would be hit and I would get a table share. However, that salvation was not to come. This was like a bad online poker hand. This stuff never happens in brick and mortar casinos, right?

I certainly can't can't fault either of the other players. Although I had the best hand after the flop, there should have been no way that Seat 5, with a set of Aces, would fold to my all in. Surprisingly, he was the one who actually thought about his shove before doing so. My guess is that he has had his share of run bad and had some fear of losing to a flush. As for Seat 2, when he re-raised with his set of 4's, he was likely convinced that he had the best hand. After I went all in and so did Seat 5, he might have thought that he would be the victim of a set over set, but he was pot committed.

Everyone at the table was shocked as Seat 2 began gathering his huge stacks of chips. He said "I'm still shaking." I am guessing that it took him at least a few minutes to realize that he hit the only card in the deck that could win him the hand -- a true one outer!

Well, sometimes poker sucks. This was one of those times. I had a bad feeling when I shoved as I have been running bad for some time. There was not much I could do at that point but either rebuy or leave. I had been playing for several hours and it was getting late, so I decided to call it a night. I needed to head home and lick my wounds, knowing that once they were sufficiently healed, I would be returning for more poker torture. Such is the nature of the beast.

Thanks for reading. 😀

Welcome back!

As you might recall, I flopped a straight on a very wet board of Ad-3s-4d. With my raise and two re-raises in front of me, what was I going to do? Well, the answer was really pretty easy: it was time to shove! I shoved my remaining stacks (about $430) and crossed my fingers. Seat 5 went into the tank for a bit, so I was guessing something like A-K since he had opened up the betting UTG with $20. However, he decided to call. Seat 2, who had already raised to $200, obviously wasn't going anywhere with $220 already in the pot. Suddenly, everyone at the table got pretty excited as the play had been normal for several hours. There were some interesting hands and some people lost money, but this pot was in the area of $1,700-$1,800, a pretty big pot for regular $2/$3 play at Talking Stick.

What did everyone have? The poker odds chart below shows the hands and the percentages to win:

I was surprised to see that nobody was chasing a flush and shocked to see that both players had flopped sets! I was a 71% favorite to win. Pocket Aces was 23.5% and pocket 4's was 4.5%. There was a 1% chance of a tie. Nobody had any diamonds, so either the board doesn't pair and I win this huge pot, or else the board pairs and the Aces most likely wins. Seat 2 had only one out: the case 4. If the turn and river are a 5 and a deuce, we would hit that 1% and split the pot. Things were now in the hands of the poker gods. They had been pretty cruel to me in 2021 and fickle in 2022. It was time for the dealer to burn and turn and burn and turn ...

To be continued ... 😁

Happy Easter, everyone! If you do not celebrate Easter, than Happy Sunday in April!

Last night, with my wife attending to some church obligations, I decided to head to the Arena Poker Room at Talking Stick Resort for a little poker. Later in the evening, the table's biggest hand of the night came, and yours truly was front and center in the hand. I decided that I would have a little Easter fun and let you tell me how you would have played the hand I was dealt. I'll wait a day or so before revealing what I did, how the rest of the hand played out, and who was happy and who was sad.

The situation: $2/$3 NL at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, AZ. The Arena Poker Room is just to the side of the casino area that houses slot machines and several gaming tables. The are some bars and restaurants in the area, which are part of a nice vacation place featuring great rooms and a sweet outdoor pool. It is Saturday night and the place, as usual, is hopping on the weekend.

The first villain is in seat 2. I am in seat 4. The second villain is in seat 5. We are eight handed. I have about $500 in my stack and the other players each have about $600. Seat 5 has been at the table for hours. He seems to be a pretty solid player. He is not jumping into every hand and, more often than not, seems to win when he is in a hand. Seat 2 is newer. I've seen him make some good plays, but have also seen him spew a bit. However, he has my respect.

I am the Big Blind.. After the cards are dealt, Seat 5 raises UTG to $20, Common initial raises at the table had been anywhere from $10 to $21. One player calls. Then another. Then another. It looks like it is going to be pretty much a $20 family pot. Surprisingly, the Small Bling is about the only player who hasn't called. I looked down to see 5h2h. With over $100 already in the pot, I decided to call. The flop: Ad, 3s, 4d. I flopped a wheel! What to do ... what to do ...

I decided to throw out two green chips to see who might be chasing a flush. One thing about Talking Stick: almost everyone at $2/$3 NL chases flushes. Surprisingly, Seat 5 raises to $100. A-K maybe, raising against a flush draw? Even more surprisingly, Seat 2 raises to $200! Here I am with a flopped straight with two other players both re-raising. The play now comes back to me and leads to the question I asked in the blog post title: What Would You Do?

So, let's have a little fun. In the blog comments (please don't put your comments in the Twitter tweet since nobody will understand what you are talking about), please analyze the situation as presented and answer some questions:

What did you think of my initial call and subsequent raise after the flop? What would you do?

What did I do with two raises in front of me and me while holding the temporary nuts? What would you do?

What did Seat 5, next to act, do after I acted?

What did Seat 2 do?

What did Seat 5 and Seat 2 have?

How did things turn out?😀

Several questions here, but my experience over the years has been that people like to kibitz hands and see how things turned out. So, as Blue Bloods Chief Frank Regan would say, Have at it!

Monday, March 21, 2022

Las Vegas Trip Report of March 13-17, 2022: "Drunk Poker, Old and New Friends, and the Poker Battles Continue"

I've been home for a few days from my recent trip to Las Vegas. Once again, it was a trip of ups and downs, but a fun trip nevertheless. Even when Las Vegas is bad, how bad can it be??

I left in the morning on Sunday, March 13, to give myself enough time to make the drive from Phoenix to Las Vegas and have enough time to check into my hotel (Harrah's) before heading to South Point to take part in what was called a "drunk poker game. Actually, the game was designed to be a fun game for a group of friends. I got to South point at 3:45pm, 15 minutes before the game was to start. We would be playing $3/6 Limit, a game that had creamed me at Talking Stick Resort (Scottsdale, AZ) the few times I played it. I was looking forward to having some fun playing, but $3/6? Yecch!

The poker playing pink flamingo, Flynn, and his human, Erin, were already seated at the table, as were @bigfokkerdog (Erin's husband - Jeff), whom I'd never met, and Joseph (@Hockey_Jerseys), whom I'd also never met (and his wife, Toni) and had recently traded comments on Twitter. There were a few non-friends at the table, and most left in a short time. That allowed the resident political opposites to sit next to each other: total left-wing flamer @LuukeJohnston and right wing Trumper @ZetusLarry. What a line up! 
Picture courtesy of The Flynn & Ollie Chronicle

Things started off very slowly for me in this "wonderful" game of $3/6. I was in for $160 and almost busted when I was gifted a river suck out against Larry. Then, however, things rapidly changed. I believe a common phrase I could use would be that the deck "smacked me in the face." Well... not only in the face, but in the chest, the belly, the legs, and everywhere else! I even won a high hand bonus with a straight flush. It helped that a few of the players were in a nice "relaxed" mood due to the consumption of a few drinks, the table was playing lose and having fun, and a few other players apparently got crap cards and struggled to win any hands. Meanwhile, I was shocked to see that virtually none of my good hands were counterfeited on the river -- which had been the story of my $3/6 life at Talking Stick.

As the afternoon and then evening wore on, players started leaving the table. At long last, Erin, Jeff and I were the remaining players until there was only one remaining. I played for a short time with all the other players who filled the seats formerly filled by friends. I had a nice conversation with a friendly woman about retirement living. Finally, I decided that it was time to cash out my winnings and move the trip along. Other people that sat at the table didn't say boo to me, but just stared at my house of chips. Along with the brown $1 chips, I also had a mixed stack of red and green. I cashed out and grabbed some dinner at South Point's Coronado Cafe. 

Since things seemed to be going my way, I decided to play a late night session at Caesars Palace. In 2021, Caesars had been full of pain and torture for me. Getting rivered and felted in an $800+ pot when my AA was beaten by QQ just as I was ready to head to the airport was etched in my mind. This time, however, things changed. I won a moderate amount and decided to head back to Harrah's and get some sleep. I had been a little groggy after my drive to Las Vegas, but now I was ready to crash bug time, secure in the knowledge that I started off my trip with two winning sessions. Could I keep it up?

I took Monday to mostly veg out. In fact, I was was pretty worthless. I slept late, got lunch, then was reading in the early afternoon and crashed for several hours. I decide to head back to Caesars and try my luck again. Once again, I had a decent session and cashed out with a nice profit. And with Caesars, one never knows who one might run into!
Photo courtesy of Bill Tait

I then decided to head to Bally's for a late night cash session. Years ago, Bally's had been my poker home. I used to crush it there and even got two Royal Flushes in one year. Things then changed, however, and I started having trouble winning there. In fact, I didn't play any poker at Bally's my previous trip the month before. It was time to give it a try. Unfortunately, I got behind right away after running top-top into a set. Try as I might, I couldn't get any cards and was unable to get unstuck and took my first loss of the trip, albeit a small one. It was time to hit the sheets and look forward to another great day!

On Tuesday, I slept in, as usual, then headed to South Point for its lunch buffet, then to the poker room. I was meeting new friend Joseph there, and as I was finishing my lunch, he messaged me that he was  seated. I headed to the poker room, got my name on both $1/2 and $2/3 lists, and was quickly seated at Joseph's $2/3 table. There were a couple of young aggro guys who were juicing every pot, so my plan was to mostly wait in the weeds, play a few speculative hands, then drop the bomb when I got a biggie. I had been in a few pots with mixed success when my chance finally came. I was dealt the "dreaded pocket  Kings" (see Rob's Vegas and Poker Blog). I raised to $20 and got two callers: a guy in early position who had been playing pretty solid, and Joseph, who had position on me. With approximately $60 in the pot and stacks of (approximately): EP player - $400; me- $400; Joseph - $185, we saw a flop of 9-3-x with two hearts. EP raised to $30 (which surprised me -- perhaps an overpair smaller than mine or a flush draw) and I re-raised to $100. Joseph then pushed all in for $165. EP folded, and with KK and about $355 already in the pot, I called the additional $85. I was horrified to see that Joseph had crushed my KK when he hit top set on the flop. Bah! They certainly can be the "dreaded pocket Kings!"

I got in one more session on Tuesday: a late night session at MGM. Things seemed to go okay for awhile, as (I hope my inner self hears this) I struggled and succeeded to double my buy in. At that point I should have cashed out, but the table had some nice guys at it, so I stayed. Mistake. I shoved all in on a bluff against a highly analytic player. When in a tough spot, he talked the hand out loud. I knew he didn't have much of a hand, but I think his frustrations with the night led him to make a crying call, figuring that he was done for the night. That left me short stacked, and I was felted when I was looking to get money in the pot before pushing. I finally got my chance when I was dealt A-10 and thought I was in great shape with a flop of 2-A-7. I was shocked when my shove was called. It seems that the villain played the worst hand in poker -- 7-2os -- and hit two pair on the flop. Sometimes poker sucks!

I was actually scheduled to go home on Wed, March 16, but while ahead at MGM Tuesday night, I reserved one more day and would be switching to Excalibur. I checked out of Harrah's and headed to South Point to play in the 1:05pm NL tournament. I initially got some cards and then made a foolish call when I raised with A-K sooted and saw a flop of J-K-Q. I raised and my opponent pushed all in. Looking back, if the player had been at the table longer and if I'd gotten a better read on him, I could have folded. However, seeing that at least one player at the table had long donkey ears, I called off about half my stack and saw that he flopped two pair with K-Q. My hand didn't improve and I was going to have to look for a quick hand to shove. I got the opportunity a few hands later when I was dealt 8h9h. I shoved and was called by pocket 6s. I was happy to see that it was a typical pair vs two overs hand. I hit an 8 on the flop and felt great until my opponent rivered a 6 for a set, knocking me out. Meh. I have to get better if I am going to be playing anymore tournaments.

I decided to give MGM another chance that night and was not rewarded. I was not impressed by the level of skill I saw at my table, and it looked like suck outs were prevalent. About 20 minutes in, someone raised to $20 and got two callers. I was on the button with 10h9h and decided to call. The flop was a rainbow J-K-Q! The initial raiser, who was a short stack and was only still at the table because he rivered a two-outer a few hands before, shoved all in. A seemingly clueless guy (he was having trouble understanding the concept of raise amounts) called, another guy folded, and I pushed all in. The clueless guy called. As long as nobody had A-10, I was ahead. The flop was a meaningless 4. The river, however, was a King. The clueless guy turned over K-Q (notice this hand playing a huge role today?) for a rivered full house to crush my flopped straight. I was pissed and decided that I was done with MGM for the trip. Bah!

There was still plenty of Wednesday night left, so I decided to go back to Caesars for one more session. I was initially seated next to a woman who was gabbing non-stop with a voice that was driving me crazy... and I had only been there a couple of minutes. I immediately went to the counter and asked for a table change. the woman there asked "Where do you want to go?" My response: "Anywhere but table five!" So... I sat down the table behind it. Thankfully, I could barely hear the woman's chatter!

Readers of my blog have seen that I whine plenty about getting sucked out on. Most times, I get my money in good. However, here is some honesty about how even I can sick out with the best! I was at a relatively normal table with $about 400 in front of me when I looked down to see pocket Aces! I raiswd and was called by two players, each with smaller stacks than me. The flop was J-Q-K -- not what I would want with AA. I raised, and the smallest stack shoved all in. The other player in the hand called. I decided to just jam and hope for the best. It turns out that the players had identical hands -- K-Jos, and therefore both had flopped two pair against my overpair. However, the turn was a 2, and the river... another 2, giving me the winning two pair! I felted them both. They were actually both laughing about it, which certainly made it feel better on my part. I won more hands, including felting one of the players in my AA hand a second time when I flopped a set of 3s I ended up with a nice win for the night, more than making up for the MGM hand I was so upset about.

Perhaps it is due to my background in sports when I was growing up, but when competing in poker, I hope to win every hand I'm in and every session I play. I know that is not realistic, but that is what I shoot for.

I ended my trip on a winning note and despite some losing sessions, ended up ahead, which is always a victory. Winning at poker, seeing some old friends and meeting some new ones? What a great trip. Viva Las Vegas!

A few personal notes and plans for the future
I recently did testing with my new AZ cardiologist to see exactly where I am heart health wise. My heart is in great shape, and a comprehensive blood panel showed that my blood sugar was down significantly, my cholesterol was good, and my blood pressure was largely okay. Unfortunately, I have put on a lot of weight over the years. Starting today, my wife and I are looking to really restrict the carbs we eat. I hope that the next time my friends see me there will be at least a tad less lightning36!

Upcoming travel: My wife and I might go to visit our son and his girlfriend in Seattle in April sometime. We usually take short trips of about three nights there. In May, possibly a trip "back home" to Illinois and possibly Wisconsin to visit with our daughters, other family and friends. In June, I hope to make a three or four night stay in Las Vegas and see old friend Koala Pete, who will be coming in from Australia and spending June in Las Vegas. I hope to be able to have Pete spend a few days in Phoenix.

Life is good. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 12, 2022

My Continuing Saga: Life is Good but Poker Leaves Much to be Desired

Shortly after getting back home from Maui, I left once again to scratch my poker itch by taking another trip to Las Vegas. I had recently had a pretty brutal run at Phoenix-area poker rooms, and I was looking for a change of pace. I would be playing my usual low-level NL Hold em. At least the trip started well.

I drove into Las Vegas on Monday, February 21 and headed to my hotel, Excalibur. Despite what I read from several people on Twitter and others social media, I don't think the rooms nor the casino are bad. I prefer the special Stay Well rooms, but for this trip I even stayed at a different tower - the Royal Tower. If I ever stayed in this one before, it was probably around the time that Bill Clinton was president. Once again, I had no complaint about my room. It was clean, furnished acceptably and was fine for my purposes, which are basically to sleep and shower.

My first stop was at Mandalay Bay, as I had not played poker there since December, 2014! Since the poker room closes during the middle of the week, I knew this would be my only chance to play this trip. I actually felt uncomfortable to some degree as I seemed to be the one outsider in a game of regulars. I did, however, win two $50 drawings for a hot seat (winning table is randomly picked, then the dealer picks a card with a seat number on it. To win a high hand bonus, Jacks or better are required. I never saw a hand nearly that good. I bowed out after a few hours, winning a small amount thanks to the hot seat drawings.

I decided to play a session that started about midnight at MGM Grand. I was just basically holding my own for a couple of hours until I was dealt a straight flush! I was fortunate in that the only opponent in the hand flopped a set! Unfortunately for me, a fourth Club was dealt on the turn, and my opponent didn't pair the board like he needed. I took a good chunk of his money, but he was disciplined enough to fold on the river to my value bet. If only! I made a nice profit on the session and headed back to my room in the early morning hours with a smile on my face.

On Tuesday, February 22, I decided to head to a poker room I had not seen for some time: Aria. My experiences there had been mostly good. My table consisted of a bunch of guys mostly 50-70 years old, so I felt at home. The first of two monster hands came after an hour or so. I was in a hand with my A-K vs 10-10. I had about $300 in front of me and my opponent, who had been making initial raises to $25 in this $1/3 NL game, had 10-10. We saw a flop of K-K-10! Obviously, we would both be getting it all in. We did so after the flop, and I was horrified to see that he had one of two hand that could beat me. I was preparing to ship my chips when I sucked out -- a rarity for me, it seems -- when the board ran out 4 and then 4! I felt like I had been due one of these. However, the tables were turned about an hour later when I raised with pocket Queens. He called . We saw a flop of low cards with two spades. I raised, he shoved, and I called. He flipped over two low clubs and had both straight and flush draws. The turn was a brick, but the river gave him a straight flush. I was busted. It was hard to complain when I had sucked out against him earlier. I needed to get some dinner, so I decided to take a poker break at that point.

I didn't know where to eat, so I decided to get the dinner buffet at South Point and play poker there afterward. The buffet and the casino in general were both really crowded as South Point was hosting  some sort of youth competition. After eating, I got seated first at a $1/2 table. soon thereafter was called for the $2/3 game. With a big dinner in my belly, I decided to stay at the $1/2 table for what I thought would be a fun session. It was not. There was a ton of limping, and sometimes initial raises to $20. Again, I felt like quite an outsider. Nothing went right and I was spewing money. I eventually busted and was pissed at myself for playing so poorly in a shitty game. Such is my poker life!

On Wednesday, February 23, I met up with my friend, Larry. He drove us to Caesars Palace, a place that had finally been good to me on my last trip. While there, it was good to say hi to poker buddy Bill Tait.

Proving that retirement is fun!

The session at Caesars was pretty much ruined by a lucksack who was playing every hand and kept hitting good hands even when he started with almost complete crap. I ended the session with a small loss, but was happy that I don't seem to get crushed at Caesars like I did in the past.

Larry and I had dinner, then headed to Red Rock, which might become a tradition on all my trips. Once again, I felt like I was an intruder on a home game. I treaded water, then lucked out when I hit an Ace-high four flush on the turn in one hand. I felted an aggressive player and left with a small profit for the night. One more session of poker to go.

I got back to the Strip and decided to play one more session at MGM. The table was fun and I kep bouncing around with my stacks. One guy was playing wildly, and when I raised from the button with J-J, he shoved all in with a lesser stack. After I went all in and everyone else had folded, he flipped over 8-8. It looked like I would take the rest of his money and finally be well into the profit area for the session, a sign that it was time for me to wrap things up and head to bed. Unfortunately, the villain binked an 8 on the flop and doubled up. The player, who seemed to know essentials but was really wild, then went on probably the best heater I have seen in years and perhaps ever seen. He played each hand and won a ton from others, including a guy to my right who was up a few hundred, got drunk, and donked it all off. I was short stacked and eventually went all in with K-Q on a Queen-high flop. Three others went all in. The guy who had binked the 8 on me flopped a set of 7's and took the money from three of us. I was felted. Time to end poker for this trip. I dropped a 2-3 buy ins. Meh.

On Thursday, I packed my things, checked out of the hotel, and headed to Windy City Beefs-N-Dogs to finally meet Norm In Vegas. We had messaged each other several times over the past six months or so and finally met. What a great time we had: two Chicago guys out west living the good life and munching on a Chicago hot dog and Italian Beef!

A couple of former Chicago bad asses 😃

After getting home, I had a couple of days rest before my brother-in-law and has wife came to visit for a week that turned into nine days. With some friends visiting Las Vegas, I decided to head back to Sin City tomorrow (Sunday, March 13) and play in the "drunk poker game" scheduled for Sunday at 4pm at South Point. It looks to have a cast of characters. I'll be staying for three nights at Harrah's before heading home in time to watch when the Chicago Bulls come into Phoenix to take on the Suns. I haven't seen a Bulls game in over ten years, so it should be fun.

Hit me up if you are going to be in Las Vegas March 13-16. C'mon out to South Point Sunday afternoon for some poker fun!

Thanks for reading!