Sunday, April 28, 2013

Las Vegas "Friends Trip" Five Weeks Away

As things in the latest cycle at work are winding to a close, I am beginning to anticipate my next trip to Las Vegas, which will begin five weeks from today. This is trip number ... uhhh ... I don't know, maybe 80-something?

When I began going to Las Vegas many moons ago, the trips were primarily a way for me to get away from a job that is customer oriented and communication intensive. I have had trips where I spoke to noone outside of waiters and waitresses. I used to play slots, roulette, mini-baccarat, even a little craps -- long before I even thought of playing poker. I would walk past the poker rooms and see what appeared to be crusty-looking sad people. Of course, this was years before anyone ever heard of Chris Moneymaker.

Somewhere along the line, things changed. When my brother, the former King of Komps (I think he has lost his title to me!) moved back to the United States, he and I started taking trips to Las Vegas together. I started playing poker. Las Vegas, in my mind, changed from a trip of solitude to one of socialization. I attended some WPBT (World Poker Blogger Tournament) weekends and started meeting some of my fellow online poker players. I happened to meet a few others when vacation trips to Las Vegas matched up. A year ago a private tournament was held for friends and supporters of Tony Bigcharles, and I met some news friends then along with a new cast of blogger characters.

Well, this next trip should be a gas as several of my friends will have time in Las Vegas that will overlap with mine. I hope to meet in person two bloggers I have gotten to know over the past few years, Spot and Linda Lou. I first met Spot, I believe, when he railed me in a PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker Pot Limit Omaha tournament we were both in. I final tabled the event, taking fourth place when my flopped full house lost to a bigger flopped full house. Yeah -- a tad of the bitter taste remains over three years later! (Update: Spot is out for June). As for Linda Lou -- I think I started reading her blog when it showed up on th blogroll of some other bloggers.

I hope to cross paths with a few other visitors during my trip. Lucki Duck will be playing in a WSOP event (big congrats on playing your way in via your home game season!) and Memphis MOJO will no doubt be looking to take the World Series of Poker Senior Event crown. Rob, who commutes to Las Vegas more than anyone I know, will be there during my trip.

My trips usually include spending a little time with locals Tony Bigcharles (unless he decides to go on one of his famous road trips in search of an illusive perfect gambling Mecca -- as if Las Vegas was not good enough) and Man In Black, with whom I have deep discussions about stuff I don't usually discuss in this blog. You usually have to read Rob' blog for those kind of tawdry stories! I hope to play some poker with Ron, who is one of the excellent dealers at my version of BSC (Rob - ha ha!).

So ... if grrouchie is up for any poker, if seattle irish and Poker Johnny are around, or if any of the AP dudes at Roughing the Punter are around Jean or Las Vegas, let me know.

I can't wait!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Special Song for Pete P. Peters and New York Jets Fans: Geno!

Oh, to be a New York Jets fan after the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Quarterback controversy? Shazam!
And outside of me, did anyone else even know that Dexy's Midnight Runners had another good song beside Come On Eileen?

Monday, April 22, 2013

The NBA Playoffs are Underway

The NBA regular season? A regular snore fest. The NBA playoffs? Worth an examination. Tonight the greatly undermanned Bulls are hanging in there with the Nets. If only the Bulls had that one player who could possibly get them to the promised land. Derrick Rose? No -- a relatively unknown star who was last sighted shooting hoops at King's Island outside Cincinnati:

My advice: get him under contract as soon as possible --  multi-year, at least $10,000,000 per.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Morning Coming Down?

As I lay here in my bed, Boyfriend, our tabby cat, is sleeping soundly next to me and the bright sunlight coming in through the windows tells me that today will be a great day.

Saturday was just one of those days that you get used to sometimes -- one with just another financial body blow. The RAV4 that my oldest daughter drives had a flashing check engine light, and we found out the damage in the early morning. Add that to the cost for water extraction from our basement just over a week ago when our sump pump circuit blew and the battery backup failed and suddenly we are into an unexpected four-figure subtraction from the ol' income.

I have been a little under the weather this past week, fighting off a cold that has been trying to get control of my body. I basically lazed around the house yesterday and got some Chinese food for the family for dinner. My home poker game switched to Saturdays several months ago, but I had only played twice since January. I decided to give it a go last night. Mrs. lightning36 asked how long I would be gone. I told her that I only planned on playing a couple of hours since I hadn't been feeling well. She gave me that look of a wife who knows her husband only too well. "Couple of hours -- ha!"

The home game changed earlier in the year in a way that I didn't really like. The blinds were increased, which realistically should not have made much of a difference since the game always played much larger than the blinds anyway. However, the increase seemed to send the message that the game would now play like the aggro Thursday night game, which I have never played. The new reality chased a few players away and worried me that some of the friendliness would be gone since the potential losses could and have been much greater. Of course, the potential for large wins also increased.

I can't complain about the result -- a win that sounds kind of nice if described as a function of the big blind -- and derived particular pleasure from two hands against an aggro guy who really cleaned up against everyone else on the night. In the first hand I was on the button and had something like A-9. There was an Ace on the flop and I checked since my tight table image with this group would have chased away the aggro guy. We got some additional money in on the turn, which was a blank, and then saw a second Ace on the river. I was 100% convinced the aggro player did not have the case Ace and there were not straight or flush possibilities on the board. He checked the river and I overbet the pot. He thought for a bit, figured I was stealing, and called. I flipped over my cards and he mucked. Worked like a charm!

That play set him up for another play a short time later. I was dealt 7-2, which in this home game pays off $1/person if you win with it. I made a healthy bet on the flop to try to take down the pot right then and there, but aggro player called. Dang! There was an Ace on the flop. I tried to chase him out of the hand with a continuation bet, but he called. The turn was a brick and I fired again. He called. The river was another Ace. Using my tight image, I immediately fired out a big bet. Aggro guy looked at the nice pot and my bet and reluctantly said "I just paid you off the last time. I won't do it again." He mucked his cards. I turned over my 7-2 to collect my dollar from each player and listen to the hoots and hollers. Poker can be really fun sometimes!

My "two hour" session actually turned out to be more like 5+ hours. I got home, checked some online sites, and went to bed. I woke up this morning to find that my son had come home late last night and bought some Krispy Kreme donuts. As I cranked up the Keurig to brew a cup of my favorite, Newman's Special Blend, I remembered that even when you get an unexpected hit in the pocketbook and are fighting through a minor health issue, life can be pretty dang sweet sometimes.

Friday, April 05, 2013

It's a Dog's Life?

Ginger, one of our family pets, is about 11 years old. Ever since she had some medical problems at age two, we have been buying special prescription dog food for her. As you might guess, it is not cheap. Ginger has been a fantastic dog all these years (fortunately for her -- and for us!), and although her medical issues have cost us plenty, she is still a regular and precious part of the family. I dread the day when her age and illnesses catch up with her.

So yesterday I was given the task to pick up her prescription dog food from the vet's office after work. I went there and was told "Oh -- I'm sorry. I thought your wife said she wanted the I/D food, not the L/D food (different food for different diseases)." I can order it on Tuesday and it should be in on Wednesday.

I called my wife to inform her that the food would not be in for almost a week. What would she like me to do -- do pick up a small bag of regular food for the next week? She answered that we could just feed her cat food -- which she loves -- for the next week. Not wanting to have my dog start hissing or jumping up on top of the couch, I opted to go to the local grocery store and buy some inexpensive dog food. Seeing a big bag on sale for $5.99, I felt pretty good ... until I went to the self check out station. It rung up the regular price. I hailed the worker overseeing the self check out lanes, who then called another worker to check the price of the dog food. Sheesh. I told her to make sure she checked the price of the "golden nuggets." The worker left for the dog food section of the store as I waited ................................................... Finally she came back and said "the UPC numbers don't match." Well, the genius didn't bring back the shelf listing for "golden nuggets," she brought back the listing for "mini nuggets." I pointed that out to her, and in a manner with which I was not exactly fine, she said "Well, we'll give it to you for $5.99."

Huh? Give it to me? Like somehow I screwed up and they were giving me a break? Like I was the idiot who put the wrong price in the computer system or I was the one one brought back the UPC numbers for the wrong product?

So a third worker comes to change the price in the self register. Unfortunately, he does not know how to do it, so he asks the worker overseeing the check out lanes to come back to assist him. I finally get out of the store and head home. Heck of a way to start the evening after a long day at work.

I got home, grouchy guy that I then was, and saw Ginger wagging her tail. She knows that I am an easy mark for her getting a treat. However, I assert that she should have to work for her treats, which usually means that I make her sing. And I don't mean just a second or two of singing -- practically a regular aria for me! Being the good (and wise!) dog that she is, Ginger sang her heart out and was rewarded with one of her favorite things in life: a piece of salami.

It's a dog's life? Sometimes I wonder ...

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Portrait of a Poker Player

It was so good to get back to playing some poker recently. Aside from the general fun of playing poker, I had almost forgotten how much of what attracted me to poker in the first place was the competition aspect. I have been a competition junkie nearly my entire life. Beginning with baseball games in my backyard when growing up, continuing through organized sports in school and community leagues as a young adult and cementing itself firmly in my life while “maturing,” competition has been my constant companion, being my refuge in a sometimes busy and crazy world.

Unlike many poker players today, I did not really grow up with poker or even play it much when I was younger. However, I and millions of other people throughout the world were captivated in 2003 when Chris Moneymaker, an average guy, played in the main event in the World Series of Poker after qualifying in an online event – and won it! Almost ten years later, after investing many hours playing poker, I still love it.

It has been, however, a long road from being new to poker to actually having some degree of skill. After the Moneymaker win, I fumbled around at some online poker sites. As expected, I did not have any degree of success and began to obsess about getting better, being a competition junkie and all. One of the first places I went to was At that time,Cardschat was relatively new to the poker world and began carving out a niche as one of the best online resources for both new and experienced players.It was pretty darn exciting, being part of an international community of poker players, learning and practicing new strategies, and competing in freerolls and buy-in events against some excellent poker players from across the United States, Europe, Australia and the rest of the world. And the first time I won a tournament – woo hoo! Cardschat now boasts almost 100,000 members and has a history of over 1,600,000 posts. Yowsa!

The strategy forums at Cardschat became the foundation of my poker knowledge, leading me to setting a new routine for my frequent trips to Las Vegas. Those mysterious looking poker rooms that were so foreign to me now became exciting destinations. Playing in a WSOP event and seeing and meeting poker superstars I had watched on television was heady stuff. I had entered into a magic world and was enjoying every minute of it. However, being a glutton for punishment, I was also aware that part of my regular vocabulary now contained words like suck out, rivered and donkathon.
Of course, in poker one must continue learning as the environment surrounding the game changes rapidly. I still go to my favorite online resource to keep my skills sharp and learn the latest strategies and subtle nuances of the game. One thing is for sure: no matter how good you think you are getting, there will always be a table at your local or online poker room where others will put you to the test. For a competition junkie, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Life Begins Anew

As we say goodbye to a long winter and get ready to fully embrace spring, the beginning of the baseball season reminds us that there are things to life other than the doldrums of work and other mundane tasks.

2005 was a thrilling year for me as my White Sox won the World Series and I got to be there for game one. Can they do it again this year in a division featuring a tough Tigers team? I don't know, but the hope of spring has returned.

So how is your team situated for the 2013 season?