Saturday, March 30, 2013

Next Las Vegas Trip Tentatively Scheduled

It looks like I will be making my next trip to Las Vegas in just over two months  -- June 2-7, 2013. Sometimes everything involved in a trip just falls together and other times not. This is one of those "not" times.

Prices at Southwest kept jumping around. My sometimes travel partner, the King of Komps (my brother), decided -- at least for now -- not to go on this trip. My go-to car rental place no longer had cheap rates. And the Caesars website became a pain since prices went up, up, then down, then up ...

As of today, I have most of a plan. Plane reservations have been made and I was even able to find a decent rental car rate while cruising around the internet today. I still do not have hotel arrangements set as I had gotten too used to having my rooms completely comped. It looks like taking my focus off poker and gambling in Caesars establishments this past year have come back to haunt me. I also believe that I will lose my Total Rewards platinum status in just over a day, so I really need to make a reservation tonight or tomorrow or possibly look at getting stuck paying the Caesars newly imposed resort fees.

In case it has not been clear in the past, it should be clear now that words like "cheap" and "thrifty" apply to me. I could pay regular prices, but it is against my nature. I try to get things either free or at an extremely cheap price. It is a healthy obsession.

I will be hoping to come up with some kind of game plan for the trip in the next two months. Submit a comment, send me a text or email me in the next couple of months if you want to set something up -- maybe slinging some cards, grabbing a meal together, etc.

I am looking forward to my return. Yowsa!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Even a Blind Squirrel ... Part III

Yes,  I am not going to retire on the winnings, but no matter the amount, a win always feels good -- especially when down at heads up 100,000 to 6,000. The poker gods must have thought I was Very Josie the way they delivered the right cards at the right time.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Thank you, Tiger!

With a free night (courtesy of my brother, the King of Komps) at Harrah's Joliet setting the stage for the weekend, my brother and I set off to gamble at two Harrah's properties. First stop on Friday: Harrah's Horseshoe Hammond.

Many people, myself included, think that The Shoe is the best poker room in the Midwest. I had a short wait but was soon seated at a table with mostly decent players. Unfortunately, I had one of those afternoons when I couldn't get much going and did a lot of folding. The only memorable hand came shortly before I left. I looked down to see J-J and smooth called a raise by the player to my right. A few more players came along. The flop was Ace-rag-rag with two Spades, meaning that I was probably dead in the water. I was surprised that everyone checked, so hey -- I would certainly take a free card. The turn -- a Jack. Bazinga! I was hoping that someone had an Ace, or maybe better yet, hit two pair. The guy to my right bet, and with two Spades on the board, I made a big raise. The other players folded and the villain, after short consideration, said "all in." I, of course, insta-called and showed him my pocket Jacks. I was horrified to see that he had a pocket pair also ... Aces! BOOM -- chuck that buy-in out the window. We left shortly thereafter.

We then drove to Harrah's Joliet and got on the wait list for Paula Deen's Kitchen. My brother recalled that he had never given me my birthday present, so he bought my meal at the Crab Leg Extravaganza and Fish Fry. Despite reading some negative online reviews of this restaurant, I thought it was pretty good. A really nice part of the buffet was that you could select from different types of fillets (mahi mahi, perch, swordfish, catfish, salmon, ...) and have them prepared one of several ways -- blackened, dill, fried ... The blackened mahi was excellent. Another favorite was the buffalo shrimp. Although the selections seemed limited for a buffet (especially for one this pricey because of the crab leg and fresh fish options), everything was pretty tasty except for the mac and cheese, which was chalky.

After dinner, I was seated at a $1/3 NL table. On weekend evenings the tables are deep stack, so some people already had a healthy mountain of chips. I decided to buy in for $200 and see how things went. I waited a couple of hands for the button to pass and noticed that one youngish guy, who I will call "Tiger" (yes Rob -- I am using a pseudonym!), was very aggressive in his raising. The first hand I played I was dealt pocket Queens. A guy to my right raised and I re-popped to $75. Tiger then re-popped me another $125. The guy to my right, who had a short stack, shoved his chips in. So ... first hand I am already in the pot for $75 and now I have to fold or call the remaining $125. My quick assessment of Tiger was that I was way ahead of him but I didn't know about the other guy. Heck of a first hand. I called. The flop delivered a lovely Queen along with a ten. The turn was another ten, giving me a boat. Excellent. After the river  announced "I have a boat." All the chips were passed to me. My $200 turned into about $480 in one hand! A little later I found out that the initial raiser had pocket Kings. Such is poker.

Later on that evening Tiger and I were once again at the same table. Harrah's Joliet poker room works on a feeder system, which I tend to not like. Tiger got me back on one hand where I thought I was way ahead. He was first to act and checked the flop, then called my raise. He checked the turn and then called my raise. He then checked the river and I should have just flipped over my cards. However, I was dumb and tried to extract what I believed to be a value bet.  He insta-raised me $275. What? I went in the tank, which I rarely do. I had two pair top kicker, but the board was paired and there were straight possibilities. For the first time ever I had the clock called on me. At the 30 second mark, I folded.

I ended the night with a tidy profit, but I couldn't help but wondering if I made the right play. This poker stuff can kill you sometimes!

The next morning we checked out, had lunch and went shopping. After visiting with my Mom, it was time for me to head back home. As I neared my exit to get on I-80, I began thinking that I was sooo close to Harrah's that ... you guessed it. I called my wife to make sure that nothing was planned for Saturday evening and headed back to Harrah's Joliet. I was on a wait list for a short time. My timing was bad because a tournament was ready to begin. However, as the list grew they opened up another table.

I was not having much movement in my stack and ended up losing two pots. In one I had A-K and a guy called my raise with J-7 diamonds. He flopped a flush, but I stayed in the hand because I had the King of diamonds. When the turn blanked I didn't donkey chase to the river. In another hand I had top pair (Queens) with an Ace kicker. I lost to A-Q. I replenished my stack just in case I had a good opportunity come up, but I thought that maybe it was time for me to head home. Then guess who gets moved to my table? Tiger!

Tiger takes a seat and in his first hand in the game I was dealt ... Q-Q! Of course I raised, and Tiger, following form, re-popped me. I knew exactly what I was going to do if he cards cooperated. I called.

The flop was rags with no paint. I checked and Tiger raised $90. I then re-popped my remaining stack and he called. No cards above a Queen came on the turn or river. Tiger mucked. I was now sitting at just short of $500. Poker is EZ sometimes!

I did notice something interesting about Tiger in another hand, He had the nut flush but checked on the river, apparently hoping to induce a bet and then make a huge re-raise. Hmmm ... Unfortunately for him, the other player didn't take the bait and just checked. But the hand got me thinking that I was right to trust my gut the night before.

I decided that I needed to get on the road with about a two-hour drive ahead of me, so I cashed out with another profit at Harrah's Joliet. My record there has been pretty good, so maybe I should look at playing there a little more often.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Quickie Poker Update

Made the trip to Par-A-Dice last weekend. The first table at which I sat had some wild play. One guy was the biggest lucksack in the world, catching every card and hitting every flop. At one point he called about $100 chasing a gutshot -- and hit it! I saw him beat a guy who flopped a boat by rivering a better boat. It was unreal. I can't say that I was impressed with his play, but I would kill to have his luck.

I got pocket Kings early on and also flopped a set of 6's, but then I had a streak of ugly cards and folded my life away. I got in a big hand with the lucksack and another player and was drawing to the nut flush with a gutshot draw also. I hit the flush on the river and got the lucksack to make it better by making a great value bet on the river. As I scooped a big pot, he said "Nice catch." My reply while staring right at him: "I learned from the master."

I got a table change shortly thereafter since I wasn't getting to play many hands. Unfortunately, one guy seemed to have my number as he kicked my butt in a few hands. He was playing pretty tight so I had to believe that my hands were second best. One crappy player rivered me in a hand he should never have been in, and the end result was a negative poker session.

Although the poker room at Par-A-Dice is not terrible, there are only five tables and the place is loaded with regs. I really wonder how many outsiders there were besides me. Not many, I trust. Factor in getting no comps for playing, and it just is not a great room for me.

Today, however, it is time to take another short road trip. My brother and I will be visiting Harrah's Joliet and maybe sneaking in a trip to Harrah's Horseshoe Hammond, Hollywood Casino Joliet and/or the Majestic Star Casino.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Live poker? Really?

Barring anything unforeseen in the next hour or so, I will be making the trek to the Par-A-Dice riverboat casino in East Peoria, IL to actually play a session of poker today. I have not played any live poker since I returned from my last trip to Las Vegas, so I have over a month of rust on the old (limited) skill set. The last time I looked, my pile of poker hundos had spider webs covering them.

One of my friends from my home game makes some secret trips there, but although I asked him to go with me he is unable. He has warned, me, however: "NEVER go on Saturday, never, you will lose. many loser and gambler come and will bet insanely and you have no idea how they play."

Hmmm ... loose players willing to gamble ... betting insanely? Shazam -- sounds like a wiener to me!

Friday, March 15, 2013

In a State of Shock

I found out this evening that one of the members of my home poker game passed away early this morning. Ron had actually not been playing much for several months as he seemed to be finding decent success playing online at America's Cardroom as BigDaddySun.

I did not know until today that Ron had enjoyed some success in the 1980's as the leader of a rockabilly band known as Big Daddy Sun and the Outer Planets.

Ron is on the left in the video below. You just never know when the moment will come. RIP.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Are we REALLY getting closer to getting our Full Tilt Poker money back?

The seemingly endless saga of Full Tilt Poker and the thousands of chumps who may or may not be getting their money back continues.

If you go to this link you will find the press release regarding the appointment of a group claims administrator. If you go to this link you will find the following:

It looks like there will be more information in the near future ... or have we heard this before?

Be prepared to grab your ankles ...

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ground Control to Major John

My heart procedure is now more than four full days in the rear view mirror. I was actually pretty scared this time, particularly because of a dream I had about a week ago.

You may be familiar with the early David Bowie classic Space Oddity.

In my dream I was deserted in outer space, knowing that once I was out and away from the space capsule that I would die. However, with few or no real options in my dream, I figured that dying in space would not be the worst way to die. The lack of oxygen would make me unconscious and that would be it. However, much to my horror, once out in space I found that I did not lose consciousness immediately as I had thought. I was horrified to find that I had to deal with knowing that I was going to die and could do nothing about it.

Sheesh. You'd think that maybe I could have a dream with friendly Hooters girls instead.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

The Miracles of Modern Medicine

Everything happens so fast in life today. Yesterday morning I saw my cardiologist and he confirmed what I was hoping he would not: that the problems I had recently been having appeared to be heart-related. He didn't need me to take a test to know that. Although I was originally going to schedule my procedure for next week, I decided to have it done ASAP. That meant less than 24 hours after my visit ended. Kind of scary to not have much time to psychologically prepare.

I stayed up late last night and woke up early this morning. Like any good Catholic guy (and gambler wanting to hedge his bets), I went to confession just in case there was an unforeseen problem. I recently had some dreams that dealt with death, and frankly I was a little scared.

I checked into the hospital just before 8:00 this morning. I was scheduled for a 9:30 a.m. cardiac catheterization. I found out that my cardiologist was running a little behind, so at least I had a little additional time to prepare -- or worry. He was not too late, however, and he quickly put me at ease by speaking with my wife and me. The surgical crew and the nurses were all fantastic.

It was actually all over pretty quickly. As I suspected, the lingering problem from my last hospital visit got worse over time. It was nice to see that the procedure done last time looks great. I was disappointed that all the exercise and relatively careful eating the past seventeen months did not prevent the trouble spot from getting worse. Although in actuality I should have gotten in to see my cardiologist sooner, at least I got in in time to prevent what surely would have been another heart attack as the troubled artery had almost completely clogged.

The last time the procedure was done by going through the groin area -- or actually the upper thigh. Today everything was done by entering in through my wrist. Amazing!

After the doctor finished, I ate lunch after recovering and left the hospital before 2:00 p.m. So ... in a span of less than six hours I went from being a heart attack waiting to happen to a guy with fixed blood flow through his heart.

I have a few physical restriction for a short time, but otherwise should be in great shape.

Thanks to my friends who wrote encouraging  comments on my blog and  sent test messages and tweets. You guys are the best!

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Getting to the Heart of the Matter Again, Unfortunately

Almost seventeen months ago I had a mild heart attack, requiring a procedure in a local hospital. Despite what I thought were pretty good efforts to exercise and change my diet, it appears that I have another heart issue. On Thursday morning I will go back to the hospital for another procedure. If all goes as it should, I could potentially be back home for dinner and spend the night in my own bed. I certainly do not want to focus on the possibility of anything going wrong.

Although I am not exactly a young adult anymore (!), I certainly do not really feel like I am getting older until these nagging health issues pop up.

Here's to looking forward to posting the results on the flip side ...