That's Hockey, Baby!
Friday, June 28, 2013
Keeping Things in Perspective
1) Skin cancer in a member of my staff. She is dealing with it pretty well.
2) Staff member whose brother was missing? His body was found. He apparently killed himself.
3) Former co-worker who has been living with Stage IV breast cancer for several years is going through yet another clinical trial, hoping to prolong her life. Her double mastectomy was the least of her worries.
4) Co-worker recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is back in ICU and was given four pints of blood last night. Things are not looking good.
Earlier in the week I got a call from my daughter informing me that her (my) car would not get into gear. Broken shifter cable. Cha ching! But you know what -- it's only money.
Boyfriend (cat) is still missing. Trying not to give up hope. Keeping this in perspective due to the previously mentioned personal struggles of friends.
Special thanks to buddy PokahDave, a rabid Boston sports fan whose allegiance to the Bruins and subsequent wager with me basically paid for this little item I picked up yesterday:
Enjoy your weekend!
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Full Disclosure: I Miss My Boyfriend
In what appears to be a case of deja vu all over again, the lightning36 family is once again faced with a difficult situation.
Readers not new to this blog might remember that almost two years ago, Ivy, one of our cats, disappeared, as chronicled in this post. She appeared a few days later on the brink of death. Amazingly, my wife nursed her back to health and Ivy remains a treasured family pet to this day.
Unfortunately, another cat, Boyfriend, has disappeared. Boyfriend was a stray that showed up in our backyard a few times, receiving his name because we kidded that he was Ivy's boyfriend coming to visit. He was skittish and we guessed that he might have been abused and then dumped. As he got to know us (we, of course, lured him into the family with food!), he changed completely. He became very affectionate and loved hanging out inside the house. Whereas our other cats always seemed to be on alert, Boyfriend always acted unfettered, not having a care in the world.
It is troubling that he is gone since he always came into the house to eat, if only for a few minutes before dashing back out to do whatever it was he usually did.
So today we will be posting signs in the neighborhood. And hoping.
Monday, June 24, 2013
June 2013 Las Vegas Trip Report - Part III
It was Thursday -- the final full day of my summer Las Vegas vacation. I logged in a few hours of sleep after using my Buffet of Buffet pass for the final time for breakfast. Shortly after waking up I got a text from TBC. A few days before, he had texted me, asking me when he would see me next. My reply: 2014? He didn't understand that my trip was quickly coming to an end and that I currently had no solid plans to return to Las Vegas in 2013, although I make generally 1-2 trips during the months of September and December. He also did not seem to be aware that I was leaving the next day.
Looking to get in a final poker session with Tony, I once again headed to Jean. The trip is really not that bad to make, but it was certainly an inconvenience. Finding a game Tony can play is somewhat challenging also since poker room choices are limited due to his low bankroll and the many rooms he needs to avoid. We decided on Sam's Town. On the way, I read him the text message I received from him, which included an interesting voice-to-text message from him: "Finally replied back to Jennifer Gay and also mentioned to everybody that you and I would be playing on my hot Sam." I told him I had no intention of playing on his hot Sam. I do believe that I saw Tony laugh for the first time!
We got to Sam's Town and soon were both seated at an Omaha 8 spread game. Now, I felt like I wanted to have a really good run so I could give Mr. Bigcharles crap about what he posted in his blog the last time we played Omaha 8 at Suncoast: "Even lightning won in that game as bad as all the players were." Of course, Princess Josie picked up on that and needled me. Heh.
I got a good run of cards and played some solid Omaha. I had the kill button maybe five times in the short session. Several of the players were in on a big hand but I whiffed on the river. Had my card hit, I would have owned almost all the chips on the table. So close.
Tony was mostly treading water but then had a good run at the end to show a nice profit. I did inform the table about the "compliment" he gave me the last time. Revenge is sweet! We both cashed out with a triple figure profit -- not bad for a small spread game. The players at Sam's Town seem to be pretty good guys. Right before we left I thought I left my sunglasses in the poker room. I went back to look for them and one guy told me I had them on my head. Now, I have been known to do this before, so I checked my hat and head ... only to hear the laughs from the table as the guy was putting me on. Pretty funny, actually. I smacked him with a newspaper and he had a big grin on his face!
We hauled out of there and I dropped Tony off in Jean, then headed to Paris for dinner with Rob, Lucki Duck and Mrs. Duck. Memphis MOJO was supposed to join us, but the donkey got into a deep stack tourney at Caesars, and as usual, had a big chip stack and was hoping to make the final table.
The dinner at Le Burger Brasserie has already been chronicled here and here, probably much better than I could ever write it up. It was a fun time, with Rob drooling over every comely waitress who walked past the table, and Lucki and I trading barbs back and forth -- Chicago sports teams vs. Texas teams. Throw in a story or two by Mrs. Duck (maybe she should be Mrs. Duct Tape now -- check out the last link!) and we had a great time.
I was planning to meet poker blogger and Bally's dealer Ron (balt999) at Luxor to play a little $1-2 NL, and I invited Rob and Lucki to come along, which they did. Ron was already at a table and soon Rob, Lucki and I were seated at a new table that was being started. Ron soon joined us. Four bloggers at one table? Giddyup!
Once again, I am the last to write about an event. The last two links lead to Rob's and Lucki's dinner tales and also exploits at the Luxor poker table, and Ron wrote about it also here.
Some hands from the session:
1) I won a nice pot from a player who misplayed his hand. I had 7-6 sooted (hearts) -- one of my favorite hands. I was able to get into the hand because either several players limped or called a modest raise, giving me great pot odds to call. Sorry, the details are fuzzy now that a few weeks have passed. The flop brought two hearts, and a player leading the betting made a small raise. With a sneaky flush draw, of course I would call. Brick. Another small raise and I came along. The river: a heart! Unfortunately for the villain, he slow played pocket Aces and didn't protect his hand and let me catch up. Ding!
2) I raised in position with A-K. One player called. The flop was J-K-5 rainbow. I thought I was in good shape. I raised and was called. The turn: a Jack. I raised and the villain went all in. Previously I assumed that he had a King and I had him out kicked. His raise made me think he had a Jack, maybe King-Jack. We had not been playing long enough for me to get a good read on him. I tanked for a bit, figured he had a Jack, and folded. He turned over J-5os -- called a raise with it, hit two pair on the flop and then improved to a boat on the turn. Now I had a better understanding of the kind of player he was.
Now, before I continue on to the next three hands, I must tell you that in my opinion, it is extremely poor form to be invited to play poker by a friend, get position on him at the able, then flop a monster hand against said friend when he has a hand. It is worse when three friends are the offenders!
3) Lucki Duck and I were involved in a hand. I has K-Qsooted (crubs nonetheless) and saw a flop that had two clubs. Of course, I was going nowhere with the second nut flush draw. The turn paired the board, and Mr. Duck put down a nice bet. Knowing that he is a solid player, with the board paired and with nothing but the flush draw, I folded. It turns out that Lucki had pocket 9's, hit a set on the flop and boated on the turn. Yuck!
4) I had A-J in late position with some limpers already in the pot. I decided to mix things up and just limped. Rob then fired out a bet and I called. The flop was A-K-8. The player on my right checked, I decided to play along, and then Rob made a big raise. He got two callers. The turn was a six, the player on my right and I both checked. Rob made another big raise, and I put Mr. Tighty on A-K. The other player called and I folded, pretty sure that I was behind. Well ... it seems that Mr. "Dreaded Pocket Kings" himself had flopped a set of Kings and boated on the river. Another dent in my stack.
5) One of the big hands. I called a raise, once again with A-J. The flop came A-A-10 with two spades. I checked my monster, another player raised, and Ron re-raised, which had me wondering. I called. The original raised went all in for about $20 more, and Ron and I both called. Which one had the case Ace? What did the other have?
The turn was a 3 of spades. I checked and Ron immediately went all in. He remembers that he had about $140 behind. The pot was already about $180. I knew Ron is a solid player and I discounted the other player, who I was not worried about. I was concerned that Ron had me out kicked, but could I fold trip Aces with a Jack kicker? Looking back, I should have taken more time to think everything through. What I thought was, "I am way ahead on the trip, I may be beat, but screw it -- it is my last night in Las Vegas and the pot is too tempting with my hand." I called. The river was a 9. Ron announced that he had a boat and showed his pocket 10's. He flopped it and was ahead the entire time as I was drawing to three outs (assuming the other player really had the case Ace).
Ouch. That was by far the biggest pot I had lost the entire trip. And I could have gotten away from it. So now Lucki and Rob had taken chips from me, and Ron grabbed a huge handful. Nice hand, sir! I got out my wallet and reloaded. I needed to to be ready for the next big hand.
6) I was dealt pocket Aces. I raised and was called by the guy who called my raise before with J-5os. This time I would be ready. The flop was King high rainbow. I made a 2/3 pot size bet and the villain immediately said "all in." Did he flop a set of Kings? Two pair? Was he just trying to run me off my hand? I called and he turned over K-J. He got a sick look on his face when I flipped over my pocket Aces. I hoped that he didn't get lucky and suck out. He didn't, and I nearly felted him, leaving him a few scant redbirds. I once again had a big stack and was in the black despite losing to Lucki, Rob, and the big pot to Ron.
I guess President Obama would have been proud of my socialist poker play -- taking from the lame players and redistributing it to my friends!
Lucki, Rob and Ron all left, but I stayed to play longer. I cashed out with a triple digit win despite building the bankroll of my friends. What a guy!
I left Luxor and went to Bally's to play a late-night session. The was an older, well dressed gentleman at my table who was virtually giving money away with poor play, then rebuying. I couldn't get much of his money, but was able to grab my share from the other players. Again this proved to be a profitable session for me, and my poker extravaganza ended with a a good string of winning sessions after my poor start.
My previous recent of trips to Las Vegas featured some huge suckouts against me and some horrible beats. The poker gods were nice to me this trip and almost all my good hands held up.
Playing poker in Las Vegas with friends and having some great meals together -- how can it get much better? I left for home with a big smile on my face, thankful -- very thankful -- for all that I have been given.
Saturday, June 22, 2013
Blackhawks and Bruins Heading Toward Big Finish in Cup Finals
Tonight is Game 5 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The series is tied 2-2 in what has been a great match up for hockey: two "original six" teams that are evenly matched. Three of the first four games in the series have gone to overtime. That's how close it is.
Although I am a huge lifelong Blackhawks fan, it would not be a stretch to say that overall the Bruins have played perhaps a tad better than the Hawks. Regardless, it is still extremely close.
I have been trading text messages with poker blogger buddy Pokah Dave throughout the series. He is a rabid Bruins bad, but otherwise a good guy! We have a small wager on the series, and I would delight in using my winnings to purchase a memento from a Blackhawks championship.
Even if you are not an NHL fan, I encourage you to watch tonight's crucial game. It is expected to be filled with great plays, tremendous effort and tons of drama. One can't ask much more from professional sports.
Those of us who are Chicago sports fans also know that we want the series to extend to seven games. Why? So that we don't have to actually pay attention to the terrible seasons both the Cubs and White Sox are having. Fortunately, the Bears open their season in just over 11 weeks. The rest of summer might seem a bit long.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
I have now been a father for over 21 years. I have obviously learned a lot about fathering during that time. I think it is funny that new fathers are often scared that they will somehow "break" their children during the early years. One thing you find out fast is that children are much more indestructible than you thought.
One of my characteristics as a dad includes dispensing worldly advice to my children through the repetition of boring stories, lame jokes and puns. Hey -- it seems to work for me!
What was my father like? Well, I believe that he was typical of the many men who were fortunate to return from WWII. He was a "regular guy," smoked Lucky Strike cigarettes for many years, drank Jim Beam and assorted beers like Meister Brau, was fiercely loyal to his country, had a great work ethic, ... You get the picture.
He was a blue collar worker and seemed to know an awful lot about heavy machinery, automobiles, sewer systems, and building construction and maintenance. I don't think that he ever quite got or appreciated that my frequent Las Vegas partner, the King of Komps (also known as thundering36 in blog comments, or just my brother Jim) and I worked professional jobs in education. My dad hated office work but flourished in the world of mechanics.
My family moved from the city (Chicago) out to the southwestern suburbs when I was quite young, purchasing a house from my uncle, a successful business owner and operator. As part of the mortgage payoff deal, my dad worked some evenings at my uncle's gas station after working a full daytime job. Therefore he tended to not be around quite as much when I was growing up. He also had some hearing loss (unfortunately genetically passed down to #3 son) that kept him somewhat distant from the kids until he got some hearing aids.
We used to see my dad as a sort of local Archie Bunker due to his many unique views of people and the world. He was sure to comment on someone race or ethnicity, but it was not done in a hateful manner. He was actually quite a funny guy in his later years and relished donating time to worthy causes such as the local Meals on Wheels program. I got started on the Meals on Wheels route one summer when I was in college, and when I was set to return to school, he took over the route for me. I believe he kept delivering meals on the same route for over 20 years!
The last years of his life were challenging as he dealt with physical ills as well as the onset of dementia. My family was actually relieved that the physical problems caused his death before the cognitive problems became overwhelming. He died shortly after his 80th birthday, almost 9 years ago.
As I have grown older, and now having three kids aged 16-21, I have certainly appreciated more and more what my dad did for me and my siblings. I don't know that anyone can ever understand or appreciate the sacrifices fully unless he is a father himself.
Being a father is a great but tough job. I only hope that as I get older and someday leave this earth that my children will have the same appreciation for me as I did for my dad.
I write this as I am watching television. Our beloved Chicago White Sox are getting their butts kicked once again. It would have been a perfect afternoon to spend with my dad.
Saturday Night's Not Alright
I got in my car and drove to my home poker game which had already been going on for over three hours. I got there about 11:00 p.m. and proceed to get pocket Kings my second hand and win a few bucks. Then the trouble started ...
Sometimes poker sucks.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
June 2013 Las Vegas Trip Report - Part II
Anyway, I was up and needed to use my freebie two 24-hour Buffet of Buffet passes, so I offered to share with Man in Black. We had buffet #1 at the Flamingo breakfast buffet.
My usual plan would be to immediately play some $1/2 NL at Bally's, but I was not prepared to hear any happy talk from players who were lucky enough to be at the poker tables when the bad beat jackpot hit. Instead I decided to play at Luxor, where I had had success last trip. Luxor continued to be a great spot for me.
The Luxor poker room was a mainstay for me when I began playing brick and mortar poker. The tournaments are among the worst in Las Vegas (small stacks and huge vig), but the cash games have always been friendly and soft. However, once I started playing at Bally's with its livelier poker room and drunk patrons, I abandoned Luxor. I am glad that I returned. The competition remains soft and you can easily pick out the regs and grinders. Additionally, Luxor has some good promotions that reward regular play there. In fact, I was able to get in enough hours to qualify for a giveaway the next day. Sweet.
After grinding my hours to qualify for free money on Thursday and leaving with a nice profit, I bolted out of the poker room and made a mad dash in my car to head back to Paris so that I could sneak into the dinner buffet just before it closed for the night. I made it with a little time to spare -- buffet #2.
Most times that I have gone to the Paris buffet have been for breakfast. I was pleased to see that there were a number of tasty and healthy options at the dinner buffet. And ... the fact that I went at the end of the buffet meant that there were not crowds to fight.
I was familiar with two women at the table. One was an attractive (ginger!) woman I played against during a previous session and also a previous trip. She is a decent player and easy on the eyes, so I was comfortable with her at the table. The other person was an Asian woman whom I had played against earlier in the trip. I knew just how to play against her and was not impressed with her skills. The players who were drinking and loud were not that bad, so I felt I was in the right place.
I got few cards for several orbits and folded hand after hand, therefore establishing a tight image. I was able to use that to my advantage to bluff at pots and also sucker players in when I had a good hand. I even got a guy to fold (relatively small pot) with the third nut flush when I bet on the river. The guy said "I know you have me beat. Do you?" Looking down at my lowly 8 to complete the flush, I stated "Yeah - you should fold." Another player said "He wouldn't lie." This nice guy -- of course not! Finally the guy tossed his Jack high flush and said "I believe you." Shazam!
Meanwhile, the Asian woman lost some hands and went on mega-tilt, calling an all-in raise with absolutely nothing, than rebuying several times. It was time to chip up some more! As best I understand, this was not unusual for her.
Our table broke down again and the tilty, wild fun continued. Adding to the enjoyment was my finding a fellow player who wanted to do Jaeger bomb shots, so boom -- the end of the night was littered with some fun. I cashed out sometime after 6:00 a.m. on Thursday and headed back to my room. After a brief nap I got in buffet #3 -- breakfast at Paris -- before my 24-hour pass expired. I went to bed knowing that I needed to get a little sleep because I already had some plans for that day: a dinner with Rob, Lucki Duck (and maybe Mrs. Duck) and Memphis MOJO, and poker that evening with balt999 (Ron -- a dealer at Bally's and a poker blogger). I also contemplated making a trip to Jean if there was time. Thursday looked to be a fun day. Looking back, it was clearly the best day of the trip.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
A Day in the Life of a Supervisor
Some readers might recall that I had to make a big decision about 15 months ago: whether or not to fill in a leadership gap in my department and become da boss. I took the job, and have actually had a pretty decent time. Yesterday looked to be a fairly easy day with the only scheduled event being a day-long retreat with my fellow directors at a nice hotel and conference center. However, as we all know, looks can sometimes be deceiving.
1) Found out that a client who wishes to complain about one of my staff scheduled a meeting with me for today ... at 8:00 a.m. I guess she doesn't know that catching lightning36 before he has a cup of coffee can be an interesting experience. But really ... was an 8:00 a.m. appointment to complain necessary?
2) Notified that one of my staff canceled her vacation to help search for her brother, who is missing. Based on the circumstances surrounding his disappearance, it is likely that he took his own life. My staff member is devastated.
3) Received notice from another member of my staff that her fears had been realized. Test results came back indicating that she has skin cancer. She is devastated.
The retreat was supposed to be a relaxing and fun day.
I trust that I will earn my pay this week.
Sunday, June 09, 2013
June 2013 Las Vegas Trip Report - Part I
I had planned to watch game two of the Chicago Blackhawks/L.A. Kings hockey series and did so in the comfort of a largely empty sports book at Bally’s. I actually headed to MGM to watch the third period so that I would be ready to take up Rob on an offer for a free dinner. We ate at Wolfgang Puck’s Bar and Grill – a first for me. Rob ordered his usual nekked hamburger that was “cooked” by being passed through a flame for five seconds or so. I tried an Italian Sausage pizza, which was actually pretty good. Afterwards we played a session in the MGM poker room. MGM used to be a premier tourist poker room, but since it is relocated every few months or so it has gone downhill in my opinion. Anyway, we were seated quickly and came across a real jerk at the table. He was playing wildly and muttering nasty comments. I am sure that Rob will be posting a more colorful (and lengthy) version of the events, but suffice it to say that all the fun was sucked out by this guy. You should have seen the reaction from Rob when the guy dissed him and made a big re-raise on him. We eventually got table changes and I proceeded to have a poor session. I took off for my usual home base – Bally’s – but had little success my first session there. Not a great poker start to the trip, but hey – at least I was in Las Vegas!
Monday was the unofficial TBC day. I drove down to Jean to finally see the Gold Strike Casino, an interesting mixture of the past and the present. Tony was playing his usual Dealer’s Angel video blackjack machine (four spots) and was upset at a guy watching him play. It didn’t help that Tony was mad that he was down some and then hit the wrong button when he meant to cash out, losing four more bets. Watching how long the cashouts took reminded me of old Las Vegas. Tony had arranged for buffet lunch comps for us but first wanted to talk outside in private. He had a bone to pick with me and was frustrated with some other things and didn’t hold back. I was surprised to see how many different ways he could use the word “mother fucker” when he was angry! It was the first time I had seen one of the famous Tony explosions. Frankly, it was a little scary even though I know that Tony is a fearful guy. Little wonder that many casinos have 86ed him after seeing him explode.
The lunch buffet at Gold Strike was actually okay. It was small and there was nothing exotic, but the food was fresh and flavorful. One could do worse. We then headed to Texas Station, where I had never been, to play a spread limit Hold em game that Tony could afford. Well, this limit rookie got his clock cleaned by the locals, running into quads, getting Aces cracked by Q-9, getting hands run down on the river, which of course is par for limit poker. As I told Tony, I lost my ass there! However, the casino itself was okay and the poker room seemed to be run well.
Friday, June 07, 2013
Leaving Las Vegas
Great trip -- good poker sessions, great times with friends. Nice trip report coming up when I get home.
Viva as Vegas!
Saturday, June 01, 2013
She's Leaving Home ... bye bye ...
Barring something unforeseen, my son will also be moving out into a dorm at the University of Illinois this August. Suddenly the lightning36 family everyday life will go from a five person household to a three person household. Like my oldest daughter, my son will be close by, so this won't be so bad. It will certainly be different, though.
I feel conflicted. It is great that the kids have gotten older and are moving out to have fun adventures, but the house will be a lot quieter and lonelier. I suddenly feel like I have gotten a lot older.
Confessions of an Online Poker Player
Heading to Las Vegas on Sunday
I am getting ready to spend a little time in Las Vegas this upcoming week. I'll be arriving Sunday afternoon and will be staying at Bally's for five nights.
I've been busy at work and in my personal life, so not a whole lot of time has been spent making plans. I am thinking about playing in one of the Golden Nugget Grand Poker Series games and likely will be checking out action at the Rio WSOP tournaments and cash games. I will, of course, be playing some cash games at Bally's -- my Las Vegas home -- and maybe Luxor, Bellagio, ...
Friends who are in town who have my cell phone number -- hit me up! I will also be able to respond to friends who message me on twitter: @lightning36. I plan on bringing my laptop and trying out the wifi at Bally's poker room.
Possibly one or two more posts going up before I start the trip. Yowsa!