Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Just Another Day in Paradise
Grabbed My Ankes at Riverchasers
Full Tilt p0ker Game #11426180424: PPI / Riverchasers Tournament (84928736), Table 1 - 60/120 - No Limit Hold'em - 23:07:22 ET - 2009/03/30
Seat 1: noldmax (1,645)
Seat 2: sophie2002 (4,820)
Seat 3: OMGitsp0kerFool (10,333)
Seat 4: NumbBono (2,433)
Seat 5: lightning36 (4,720)
Seat 7: BuddyDank (5,045)
Seat 8: 1Queens Up1 (6,027)
Seat 9: NYRambler (4,695)
NumbBono posts the small blind of 60
lightning36 posts the big blind of 120
The button is in seat #3
*** HOLE CARDS ***Dealt to lightning36 [Ah Ac] Big opportunity here maybe.
BuddyDank folds
1Queens Up1 folds
NYRambler raises to 360 Yes!
noldmax folds
sophie2002 folds
OMGitsp0kerFool has 15 seconds left to act
OMGitsp0kerFool folds
NumbBono folds
lightning36 has 15 seconds left to act How much to raise?
lightning36 raises to 720
NYRambler calls 360
*** FLOP *** [Js 9d Th] Flop could be better, but I must be ahead.
lightning36 has 15 seconds left to act
lightning36 bets 960 I want this to look like a weak bluff.
NYRambler raises to 3,975, and is all in Doubt he is ahead. I should get all his chips.
lightning36 calls 3,015
NYRambler shows [Jd Ks] Bingo!
lightning36 shows [Ah Ac]
*** TURN *** [Js 9d Th] [4s] Looking good. Just hope I don't get screwed on the river.
*** RIVER *** [Js 9d Th 4s] [Qd] Hits a gutshot. Wonderful.
NYRambler shows a straight, King high
lightning36 shows a pair of Aces
NYRambler wins the pot (9,450) with a straight, King high
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 9,450 Rake 0
Board: [Js 9d Th 4s Qd]
Seat 1: noldmax didn't bet (folded)
Seat 2: sophie2002 didn't bet (folded)
Seat 3: OMGitsp0kerFool (button) didn't bet (folded)
Seat 4: NumbBono (small blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 5: lightning36 (big blind) showed [Ah Ac] and lost with a pair of Aces
Seat 7: BuddyDank didn't bet (folded)
Seat 8: 1Queens Up1 didn't bet (folded)
Seat 9: NYRambler showed [Jd Ks] and won (9,450) with a straight, King high

My Wife Gets the Bad News
My wife's job was officially eliminated last night. She is under contract through the end of the school year and might do some related work over the summer, but as of now does not have a job for the next school year.

I certainly feel for other people who have lost their jobs due to the poor ecomonmy. It just sucks when things beyond your control screw you. Thankfully, I am secure in my job. We will just have to scramble to see what we can come up with for next year.

The part I find most disturbing is that the school district doesn't seem to see the need to have someone train the elementary school teachers how to infuse technology into their curriculum and teach children important computer applications. I live in a technology hotspot, yet my local public school administrators do not make technology a priority.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hormones (or lack thereof) and Love
Okay -- so I'm driving home from visiting my mom this morning and I hear one of the shittiest songs of all time on the radio -- Love the One You're With by Stephen Stills. It features these great, sentimental lyrics:

If you're down and confused
And you don't remember who you're talkin' to
Concentration slips away
Cause your baby is so far away.

Well, there's a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can't be with the one you love
Love the one you're with
Love the one you're with

Don't be angry, don't be sad,
Don't sit cryin' over good things you've had,
There's a girl right next to you
And she's just waiting for something you do.

Well, there's a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can't be with the one you love
Love the one you're with
Love the one you're with

Any old port in a storm, huh? Of course, Stills was single at the time he wrote this song. He got married shortly thereafter. Surprised the marriage didn't work out?

On the other hand ... check out the lyrics from a Beatles classic -- I'm Happy Just to Dance with You:

Before this dance is through
I think I'll love you too
I'm so happy when you dance with me

I don't want to kiss or hold your hand
if it's funny try and understand
there is really nothing else I'd rather do
'cause I'm happy just to dance with you

I don't need to hug or hold you tight
I just want to dance with you all night
In this world there's nothing I would rather do
'cause I'm happy just to dance with you

Just to dance with you
It's everything I need
Before this dance is through
I think I'll love you too
I'm so happy when you dance with me

What was John Lennon thinking? He doesn't want to hold her hand, hug her, or kiss her -- just dance with her. Geeeeeeeeeeeeezzzzzzzz. No wonder he let George sing this song.

Low Rolling on the Cheap with Lightning

Breakfast: Toast and coffee at mom's house. Rest of the family sleeping late at home. Cost: $0

Lunch: Chicken Burritos from Meijer -- discounted due to upcoming expiration date -- and Coke. Salsa and salad from refrigerator. Cost: $7.50

Dinner: Little Caesars pizzas - one bacon, one green pepper, diet Dr. Pepper, Diet Rite Cola. Cost: 12.00

Three meals, family of five, $20.

Economic stimulus? Nah -- just born cheap.

Monday, March 23, 2009

NCAA Trip Tradition Continues ... With A Twist
A tradition of going to the NCAA men's basketball tournament began when I saw an advertisement on television for tickets. Hey -- going to a tournament site for the first and second round games sounded like fun. So, I bought three tickets to the 1996 tournament games that were held in Indianapolis. I asked my work buddy, Norm (left) to go, and he said that his son could go with us. We drove a couple of hours to the arena, then got a massive dose of NCAA basketball -- two sessions with two games each. Four college basketball games in one day. Damn. We drove home late since we had an off day between the next round of games -- the two second round games that would help determine the Sweet Sixteen.

We were rewarded with two outstanding memories: 1) Being in the stands for one of the great college basketball upsets of all time -- Princeton over defending champ UCLA in a first round game; and 2) Moving down into the Mississippi State cheering section and helping to cheer for the Bulldogs as they beat Princeton in the second round game. Unfortunately, the memories of 1996 are bittersweet for me as both Norm and his son have passed away.

However, 1996 started a tradition, and with the addition of work friends Mike and Gerry (and a few trips with fill-in Jack and one trip with co-worker Tom), we have gone to the tournament almost every year, going to arenas in Memphis, Nashville, Lexington, Indianapolis, and St. Louis, and taking side trips to places like Graceland, the National Civil Rights Museum, Beale Street, the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, the NCAA Hall of Champions, the Jack Daniels Distillery, Harrah's St. Louis, and a few places I would prefer not to mention lest my golden boy image be tarnished ...

This year, we opted not to travel to see games in person. Instead, Mike and I drove to Chicago to visit Gerry, who now lives there, and watched the games on television in his condo. The side trips were again great as we visited the Shedd Acquarium and the Volo Auto Museum. The auto museum featured 300 collector cars for sale including many muscle cars from the 1960's, 1970's, and 1980's.

However, one thing we seemed to notice as we have gotten older is that the focus of the trips has changed. We used to go mostly for the basketball, but as the trips evolved, they really became more about the friendships and experiences. The games are still important, but spending a few days away with some old buddies -- the kind of trip where you can say and do what you want and not have to worry about things coming back to haunt you -- is gold, Jerry -- gold.

Next year -- maybe New Orleans?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

BBT4 Update
Finished in 4th place at the Brit Blogger tournament today -- a good finish, but frustrating. I need some type of final table slumpbuster, maybe? I went down to 5th place on the March leaderboard at the end of last week. Today helped, but I need a win. Badly.

Kicked in the Junk by the Local School Administrators
Just when I thought that I was a step or two ahead of the economy, my wife got notified at the end of last week that her job was on the RIF list for her school district. She spent the past couple of years helping to secure funding for the local elementary schools for computer equipment. Now that the school district has the hardware, they decide that they don't need the person who trains the teachers the applications for the hardware? What kind of short-sighted idiots do we have making decisions?

Some teachers are very upset and are attempting to an e-mail campaign to save the position. I only hope that a local developer, a mover and shaker within the community who donated tons of money for the equipment, catches wind of this. He might be the only person who could make a difference at this point.

My wife is certified in special education and elementary education and has a middle school endorsement in language arts and probably some other areas, so we know that she should be able to come up with something else. However, this is the second time in her career that a job she loved disappeared due to mind-numbing decisions by school administrators. Morons.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Skillz HORSE Tournament -- Out On 7th Street
In Limit Stud Hi, I was dealt 2s-As-2c and completed to 200. 4th Street was 2d so I bet 200 and was called by ElSnarfoGrande. 5th Street was 7s, and ElSnarfoGrande and I cap betting at 1600. I thought at first that he was on some type of a draw, but his aggression told me I'd better be prepared to find out he was ahead. 6th Street was 7c, giving me a boat. We bet and I was all in with a 2's over 7's boat against his three 9's. Unfortunately, 7th street gave him a higher boat -- 9's over 4's -- and I was out in 49th place.

Remember what I said at the end of my last post?
"Tomorrow night is a HORSE tournament. I actually run okay in HORSE -- if I can bypass the boat over boat beatings I have taken the past few months in Omaha and Stud."

Did I call it or what?
6th in Riverchasers, But ... damn

Finished in sixth place at the PPI/Riverchasers tournament earlier in the evening. I was on a heater the first hour and led a decent portion of the tournament. However, one freaking river card probably made the difference between my sixth place finish and a chance at winning a TOC seat:

Full Tilt Poker Game #11182320385: PPI / Riverchasers Tournament (83195958), Table 1 - 500/1000 Ante 125 - No Limit Hold'em - 0:47:09 ET - 2009/03/17
Seat 1: NewinNov (13,015)
Seat 5: dueyv9 (16,564)
Seat 6: NYRambler (29,062)
Seat 7: wwonka69 (8,321)
Seat 8: sportsrecord (14,390)
Seat 9: lightning36 (25,117)
NewinNov antes 125
dueyv9 antes 125
NYRambler antes 125
wwonka69 antes 125
sportsrecord antes 125
lightning36 antes 125
lightning36 posts the small blind of 500
NewinNov posts the big blind of 1,000
The button is in seat #8
*** HOLE CARDS ***Dealt to lightning36 [Tc 7h]
dueyv9 folds
NYRambler folds
wwonka69 folds
sportsrecord folds
lightning36 calls 500 Okay -- I'll call and check out the flop
NewinNov checks
*** FLOP *** [6h 7d Ts] Yesssss
lightning36 bets 2,750 Pot-sized bet
NewinNov has 15 seconds left to act
NewinNov raises to 11,890, and is all in Really?
lightning36 calls 9,140 Easy call
NewinNov shows [Kc Kh]
lightning36 shows [Tc 7h] Ahead but not home yet
*** TURN *** [6h 7d Ts] [Qc] One card to go. Eight outs. Time to grab my ankles?
*** RIVER *** [6h 7d Ts Qc] [Ks] Shit
NewinNov: opps
NewinNov shows three of a kind, Kings
lightning36 shows two pair, Tens and Sevens
NewinNov wins the pot (26,530) with three of a kind, Kings
NYRambler: wowowowow
*** SUMMARY ***Total pot 26,530 Rake 0
Board: [6h 7d Ts Qc Ks]
Seat 1: NewinNov (big blind) showed [Kc Kh] and won (26,530) with three of a kind, Kings
Seat 5: dueyv9 folded before the Flop
Seat 6: NYRambler folded before the Flop
Seat 7: wwonka69 folded before the Flop
Seat 8: sportsrecord (button) folded before the Flop
Seat 9: lightning36 (small blind) showed [Tc 7h] and lost with two pair, Tens and Sevens

The freaking King on the river was the difference between having over 38,000 and reclaiming the chip lead at my table (and shooting back into first place, I think) and having to play short-stack poker with just over 12,000 and blinds at 500 and 1,000. I was able to climb up to sixth place, but certainly hoped for much higher based on my play throughout the tournament.

I did, however, cash and score points for the monthly leaderboard. In fact, I moved into second place. Tomorrow night is a HORSE tournament. I actually run okay in HORSE -- if I can bypass the boat over boat beatings I have taken the past few months in Omaha and Stud.

Monday, March 16, 2009

BBT4 Update
Through the end of ten events and at the halfway point in March, I am sitting in fourth place in Battle of the Blogger Tournaments 4. I've scored points in six and have cashed in four tournaments.

Play in the tournaments has been quite uneven. I guess that a lot depends on your starting table. I have played at some tables where people have risked their tournament lives on what I would consider some rather weak hands or draws. Other tournaments -- like yesterday's Brit Bloger tournament -- featured play at my table that was so tight you could hear squeaking noises.

I started off really well the first week, but have cooled off substantially since then. I was felted in yesterday's tournament on one of those nasty hands -- my K-K vs J-J and A-A. The aces held, believe it or not! Hard to get too upset on a play like that where all the money went in pre-flop and we all knew we could be handsomely rewarded or hit the road. But a King on the river would have been nice.

NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament -- Go Illini!
It is amazing that seven Big Ten teams made it in the NCAA tournament. The Illini did pretty well in securing a five seed, but several "experts" are already predicting that Western Kentucky will pull off one of the 12-5 upsets that we expect to see almost every year. Even if the Illini were to beat WKU, they would most likely play Gonzaga in Portland for the right to go to Memphis in the Sweet Sixteen and presumably play North Carolina (or maybe Butler or LSU). Looks like the Illini need to take one game at a time (the old cliche') and see what happens. Their uneven play the entire season makes it hard to see them advancing to Memphis.

In 1996, I began making trips to the NCAA first and second round games with a few work friends. We usually looked to go south and had great times in Memphis, Nashville, and Lexington, and even went east or west to Indianapolis and St. Louis, depending on the locations for the opening rounds. We skipped last year and will be doing something different this year -- going to the home of one of the guys in Chicago and crashing at his place for a guy basketball weekend. Our plan for next year is to take a long road trip and see the first and second round games in New Orleans.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Three Years? Who'd A Thunk It?

Today marks the third anniversary of Lightning Strikes. Who would have ever thought that I would write so muck junk about poker and life over the past 1000+ days? Today, I'm taking a few minutes to post some of my favorite screenshots and memories.

I began the blog for two reasons: to comment on someone else's blog, and to qualify for a poker tournament for bloogers that was hosted by Poker.com. The grand prize: a seat at the WSOP Main Event!
Even though I was new to blogging and relatively new to online poker, I was able to actually qualify for the final event and surprisingly finished in 4th place. I could have probably coasted into third, but the prize was a poker table which I didn't really want. I wanted the iPod for 4th-1oth instead. But geez -- I was really closer to a WSOP seat that I realized at the time:

Winning tournaments is always great, but sometimes winning a special prize makes it more memorable:
It is really nice to win against foes from other poker forums. Sometimes even a donkey can win:

Ahhh ... but winning against fellow bloggers -- that is sweet indeed, especially when a WSOP seat is on the line:

Kudos and Goodies
The first person to leave a comment on my blog was none other than my son. Guess he felt sorry for me since I had a blog that no one knew about. It now gets read occasionally by some online poker bloggers and a few other friends.

I'd like to thank my long-time online poker friend MurryTheCat, who has probably posted more comments over an extended time than anyone else. And ... thanks to some of my other poker buds who regularly comment on my blog -- Memphis MOJO, Mondogarage, PokahDave, OhCaptain, and muhctim, -- and other frequent posters like CEMfromMD, $mokkee, Bam-Bam, PirateLawyer, Schaubs, and Instant Tragedy. I hope to meet you guys in person sometime soon.

But wait -- a few more good screenies:

These represent my only Hold Em Royal Flushes. I've had a few in Omaha, but they don't really count, right? My best hand in a live Hold Em game has been a King-high straight flush which I got at the old Excalibur poker room in Las Vegas -- in the good ol' days before they replaced people with machines. Ugh.

And -- my favorite screenies of all:

Selling my house last September after it had been on the market for over a year finally brought some sanity back to my life. I feel so fortunate that I sold it before the economy really went in the crapper.

Okay - no more rambling. I have enjoyed the past three years and look forward to continuing this blog for some time. I am very fortunate to have a wife who puts up with all my garbage, including my competition jones and the many hours spent playing poker.

My world is looking pretty good right now. I hope yours is also.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Dealing with the Death of a Family Pet
Today is, unfortunately, one of those days that provides some of the harsh lessons of life. Flora, the pet bird of my youngest daughter, died today. Flora was my daughter's first pet.

We had gotten Flora from a local person who raised birds. Things went well with Flora for some time, but then seemingly out of the blue, she lost some feathers on her head and on her neck and back. Living in a university town that also has a vet school, we were able to find a specialist (cha-ching) to look at Flora. We worked on her socialization and a few other things, and she started looking better. A few feathers were even starting to return. Suddenly today, she was spitting up her food and looking really sick. She was rushed to a small animal hospital (cha-ching) where she was given a steroid and put in a , believe it or not, oxygen cage. She didn't last very long.

My youngest has been having a difficult year in middle school. This certainly won't help. My wife, who was always petrified of birds, loved Flora and even let her sit on her shoulder and her head -- which looked quite funny. She has also taken this very hard.

So tonight, maybe we'll just stay home instead of going out as planned. It looks like at least a couple of people need a little extra TLC.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

First in Dookie; Wish It Was The Mookie
Maybe I'll feel better about this in a few hours, but the victory, while nice in that it was HORSE, certainly seemed shallow as I watched the final table at The Mookie. Couldn't get anything going there and got felted when I ran my 10-10 into A-A -- a bad ending to a pretty decent first week in BBT4.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

BBT4 Update
Tournament # 4 in the BBT4 series was last night -- Stud Hi/Low as part of the Blogger Skillz Series, Tuesday night tournaments that rotate the type of poker game played each week. Unfortunately, Stud is probably my weakest common poker game. I quickly reread some strategy articles on the net prior to the start of the tournament, but ... 21st place out of 73 runners was the best that I could do. I finished just outside of the BBT4 points bubble and was well short of the money. Not a terrible finish, but I was hoping that my streak of deep runs would continue.

Tonight: The Mookie, which seems to now be the Rose Bowl of blogger events. I don't usually do well in the Mookie, but now is as good a time as any for that to change, right?
From the Outhouse to the Penthouse -- Sort Of
People who have followed this blog know that I had some rough times over the past two years when I bought a new house and had my old house sit on the market for a year. Paying two mortgages and all the associated bills was certainly not pleasant, but at least my wife and I had good professional jobs and could absorb the costs for at least some time.

The nightmare began to end when we sold our old house last September. However, we sold the house for less than it was worth and had accrued a significant amount of interest on our bridge loan. But, as fate would have it, interest rates came down so low that I was able to refinance and essentially wipe out a large amount of our losses. Believe me, I am truly thankful.

I am happy to announce that things have been going even better. I have been granted sabbatical leave for the spring 2010 semester at my school. Essentially, time on my sabbatical will be spent retooling my clinical skills, reading journal articles and studying the most recent trends regarding psychological issues and treatment, particularly as they pertain to college students. I will also be doing some in-depth study of the latest research in the diagnosis and treatment of Asperger's Syndrome.

This leave, which will be at full, regular pay, will be the first time since I was 14 years old that I have actually had some extended, unscheduled free time on my hands. It is hard for me to imagine since I have always been working, involved in sport teams or civic groups, had child care obligations ... and on and on.

It's funny -- the economy is in the crapper, people are in financial trouble all across the country, yet suddenly things are very good for me. I don't write about this to boast, but rather to remind people that things do have a way of turning around, and that sometimes, believe it or not, hard work and dedication is actually recognized and rewarded.

I hope your prospects are looking up. If not, hopefully they will soon.

Peace -- out.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Just Missed the Final Table of BBT4 Event 3

Just missed the final table of event 3 in BBT4. A poor play right before I went out might have changed things, but who knows?

The funniest thing that happened in this tournament (but it wasn't funny at the time) was that I kept dozing off during the first hour. I was up late last night for The Big Game, then posted in my blog. I only got a couple of hours of sleep, then worked all day, then went grocery shopping immediately after work. I had about 90 minutes of free time before the tournament, but I was bushed.

Anyway, I kept dozing off in the first hour and would wake up when I heard the Full Tilt warning ding that my time to act was almost up ... except for one time. I woke up to see that I was dealt pocket Aces! Before I could hit the raise button, I timed out and my hand was folded. Ouch.

My three decent BBT4 finishes have put me in third place in the first posting of the BBT4 Leaderboard, just short of second place. If only I can keep up this level of play, continue to avoid the bad beats, and especially win a tournament and secure my seat in the finals. Ahhhh ...

Tuesday night: BBT4 event 4 -- Limit Stud Hi/Low knockout tournament as part of the Blogger Skillz series. This should be interesting.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Weekend of Deep Runs

I probably played waaay too much poker this weekend. Thank goodness that I have a most understanding wife. However, I seemed to be running good and it was the start of the Battle of the Blogger Tournaments 4 (BBT4), so what else could I do. In order:

Friday: Won one small tournament and finished second in another in one of my poker groups -- MurryTheCat + Friends. I am the MTC point leader for January and for February. This came right after I finished a very close second in another poker group -- in the inaugural Shark Poker Tour Player of the Year competition for February against a very tough Shark crowd. The Shark competition included six tournaments and I missed two while on vacation, so I thought I did a damn good job.

Saturday: I played at my legal "home" game at Illinois Charitable Games. Our regular place, the Bloomington Elks Lodge, is closing, so there were all sorts of special drawings. I won two free meals (great for my diet, huh?), a free drink, extra raffle tickets, and a $5 instant prize. My tickets were called four times over the course of the day, but I missed out on the big prizes. But hey -- who doesn't like seeing his name drawn four times?

I rarely play tournaments at ICGA since I have been sucked out on so many times. It is funny -- I am known there as a cash player who doesn't play tournaments. However, this week I decided to play in two tournaments. I got 9th place in the $30 Warmup. I went out on a huge hand -- I flopped two pair, another guy flopped a set, and another guy flopped the nut flush draw. I knew one guy was on a flush draw and I hoped to bet the other one out. Little did I know he hit his damn set when he made a minimum raise. We were all all-in and the set won the pot. The guy ended up chopping with another player or two at the end.

I am proud to say that I cashed in the $10 Holla -- a real donkathon with unlimited rebuys the first hour if under $1500 chips. I decided that I would push ... push ... push ... and not rebuy. If I went out, I went out. I did get the add-on after the first hour. Anyway, I took third when my A-10 was bested by K-Q.

Sunday: I took second place in a CardsChat (another of my poker groups) tournament at PokerStars. I should have won at heads up as my opponent twice hit his flush draw on the river. That's poker though, right? The first event of BBT4 was the afternoon Brit Blogger Game. I finished a respectable 7th place in a difficult blogger field. In the evening, I placed 6th in the Big Game, so named for having the biggest buy-in for blogger tournaments. It was a deep stack tounament with plenty of time for patient play. I needed patience as I got crappy cards the first hour and could rarely make any decent hand pay off. I finally went out A-J vs 2-2 all-in preflop when Rake Feeder (the eventual champion) hit a 2 on the flop and turned a boat -- 2's over 6's.

I was the only person to make the final table of the first two BBT4 events, so I have gotten off to a good start in the points battle for March. Now if I can only keep up the good play ...

It seemed like I did nothing but play poker this weekend. Maybe that is because I really didn't do much other than play poker -- ha! I am bushed, but am heading to bed tonight feeling good.

Great weekend! Hope yours was just as fun.