Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Remembering Back to When Online Poker Was King in the USA

I was meandering through my old blog posts tonight when I saw this screenshot that brought a huge smile to my face:

I was shocked to see that it was from just over three years ago. Three years? Dang -- how time flies. I had almost forgotten how life was back then. Reading the narrative from the post entitled

SCOOP, MiniFTOPS, and BBT5 -- Crap, Crap, and a Wiener:
Sunday and the Glamorous Life of a Guy Who Dabbles in Online Poker
I was reminded of how online poker dominated my life on certain days. On that particular Sunday I had already played in a SCOOP (Spring Championship Of Online Poker) tournament on PokerStars and one of the MiniFTOPS tournaments on Full Tilt. The capper was a BBT (Battle of the Blogger Tournaments) 5 freeroll -- netting me a nice score (I chopped with Shabazz Jenkins) and also earning me a seat in the BBT5 final tournament with WSOP seats on the line. As an added bonus, I pwned Very Josie with a set vs. her pocket rockets and infuriated Waffles by sucking out a nut flush vs. his pocket Jacks.

I recently celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary. Lord knows how my wife put up with me with days like that one. A quote from my post that day:

Unfortunately, I was also looking forward to watching game one of the Chicago Blackhawks - San Jose Sharks series and almost forgot that Sunday evening was the Survivor Heroes vs Villains finale. It looked like the day would be totally the laptop, the television, and me. I was depending on Mrs. lightning to keep me fed and keep the world away for the day.

An NHL playoff game, the Survivor three-hour finale, and ten hours in online poker tournaments. That was one hell of a day!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Wild Night in Par-A-Dice

Having one of my Fridays off work in summer, I decided to make an afternoon jaunt yesterday to the nearest poker room -- the Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria, IL. Par-A-Dice is one of the old riverboat casinos that no longer sails.

I had phoned during my drive there to get on the $1/2 NL waiting list. When I got to the poker room there were actually a few open seats. I believe this was the first or one of the first times that I had ever been seated there immediately. Good start.

My table was aggressive. One guy raised every hand and seemed to be the closest thing to a table captain. We saw that he was getting pretty lucky and catching cards. Noted. Before the night was over he contributed several hundred dollars to the table.

I bled some chips initially but had to mostly stay on the sidelines due to my poor starting hands. I was able to work my stack to slightly back over starting level when I began to get some decent cards. This especially helped against a table with loose aggro players. I knew who to call down light and starting building my stack. I extracted maximum value of a couple of flopped sets and just kept building the stack as the night went on. I only had trouble with one player at the table. I met up with him briefly after the session as I was cooling down by playing a few slots. He congratulated me for playing so well (yeah - I do occasionally demonstrate some mad skilz!) and I let him know what a pain in the butt he was to me. He couldn't believe how people kept paying me off when I consistently -- and obviously -- had the goods.

I cashed out with a very nice profit -- the largest I have ever had at Par-A-Dice. I was pretty pleased with my play and don't remember making any stupid calls, which has been one of my leaks.

There were a couple of bad beats on the night. The biggest one was that the poker room bad beat jackpot was hit on the table next to mine. Only players at that table got a share of the jackpot. Rats!

On the way home it appeared that my car was running a tad funny. Pretty soon it became apparent that I had a tire problem and was forced tom pull over to the side of the interstate. My right rear tire was almost out of air. At Midnight. On a dark stretch of interstate. With trucks barrelling past. Wonderful.

Things didn't improve when I couldn't find the lug wrench in my trunk. I called the police for a little assistance. After I spoke with the trooper, I had him call a towing company so that they could block the area and change the tire in the dark. Now, those bloggers who know that I have a reputation for being "frugal" might be surprised to hear that. But I have to tell you, it is kind of scary thinking about changing your tire in the dark with trucks whizzing past you. Good call on my part.

Before the trooper left, he advised me get in my car for safety until the tow truck arrived. What? So if someone is tired or drunk and hits my car I die instantly? No thanks -- I stayed in the ditch and kept a close eye on the approaching traffic.

Got the donut spare tire on and drove home at a moderate speed the rest of the way. I finally got home after 2:00 a.m. this morning. Just another tricky day.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

25 Years and Counting - An Alternate Wedding Story

Today Mrs. lightning and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. Hard to believe all that time has gone by.

While Mrs. lightning is waxing nostalgic on that time, I certainly had a different reality. I made an extremely poor choice by drinking waaaay too much at my bachelor party two nights before my wedding. After going to several bars, we, of course, felt compelled to visit a local adult entertainment establishment. I knew that I had too much to drink when a stripper had me open my wallet so that she could select the bill of her choice. Thank goodness the biggest she saw was a $10 bill! So take that, my friends who think that I am cheap. Looks like getting me drunk is the key!

Of course, they had me go up on stage and sat me in a chair where the various dancers danced all around and on me as I was forced to sit on my hands. Little do my kids know that a seemingly innocent box in our garage was actually the box that the strippers gave to me to help celebrate the upcoming nuptials. You can guess the kind of things that were inside. They even wrote a nice note.

The next day I was one hurting guy. My family came into town and the rehearsal dinner was scheduled for that night. I felt like total crap but somehow made it through the day and night. All I had to eat the entire day was a chicken leg.

The morning of the wedding I still felt like crap. Worse yet, my tuxedo pants had to be altered and were sitting at the formal wear shop. My wedding was scheduled for noon and the store did not open until 10:00 a.m. I was pacing around my house which seemed to delight my younger brother, who had apparently never seen his calm, cool and collected brother this anxious. I decided to go to the formal wear shop 1 1/2 hours before it opened just so that I could settle down. Thankfully, the owner came in an hour early, saying "I thought you might be here waiting for me."

Right before the wedding one of my friends told me "We have a car waiting outside in case you change your mind at the last minute." Yowsa!

What we looked like that day:

After the wedding I still could not eat anything. We had a relatively large reception which went really well. The new Mrs. lightning  and I then headed to our hotel. I had a friend who was determined to hound us on our wedding night so I had actually made reservations at several hotels in town just to throw him off. No sooner had we gotten up to our penthouse room when the phone rang. I answered and was told by the operator that a Mr. E. E. Springs wanted to see us. Of course, this could only be my friend who delighted in describing having sex as the bed springs squeaking ee, ee ee ee ... We told the operator that it was our wedding night and that we would prefer to have no calls forwarded. The hotel guessed what was going on and they invited a small group of our friends who were in the lobby to leave. We looked out our penthouse window and saw the sad pandas going back to their car in defeat.

We ordered some room service meals -- the first thing I had to eat in the past 48 hours beside the lonely chicken wing, and then ... well, you know ...

So ... 25 years later we are still together and are the proud parents of three kids, aged 21, 19 and 16. Through good times and bad, we have enjoyed our lives.

A couple of poker bloggers have met Mrs. lightning. Memphis MOJO was the first when we met up in Memphis and MOJO paid off our last longer WSOP bet to me. I mention this now since he has become such a tournament stud over the years!

The Neophyte also met her when Mrs. lightning and I were in the Tampa area in February of last year.

Of course, it should be apparent that Mrs. lightning must be an special women to have tolerated me for 25 years of marriage and several years before that. She is an amazing woman: intelligent, kind, fun loving, spiritual, beautiful.

Definitive proof that poker bloggers marry up?

So tonight we will have a nice dinner together and prepare for the next 25 years and whatever they will bring. I truly am a lucky guy.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Trying the Foot-Hi Pie

Last Thursday and Friday my wife and I took a short trip to St. Charles, MO to relax. On the way there, we passed, for probably the 100th time, the signs that advertised Foot-Hi Pies at the Blue Springs Cafe in Highland, IL. The sign mentioned that the cafe had been featured on The Food Network, and I remembered seeing the episode of whichever show it was on. I was determined that I would FINALLY stop there and try the pie. We did so on the way back.

As you might imagine, the pies that are tall feature some basic pie with a mountain of meringue. I chose the chocolate meringue pie. My wife decided to go with a regular fruit pie, which was regular size. Mine, however, was pretty tall:
And I have to tell you ... it was goooooooooooooooooood!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Sometimes We Almost Forget the Fun We Have Had

Today was just a lazy day for me. I was checking WSOP Main Event chip counts (go vook!) and doing some other general nosing around the internet when I ran into a funny post and comments from just over a year ago. It reminded me how much fun Las Vegas can be and how life is so much richer with friends. The post itself is funny, but the comments are really what had me laughing my butt off.

From Very Josie's blog - July 1, 2012: "Grouchie, Grumpy Lightning Vegas Post 4 of 7"

Note: Guest appearances in the comments from Wolfshead, Rob, ~Coach, The Neophyte, Waffles, Carmel, and the princess herself, Josie.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Monday Meanderings

Sadly, last night's evening walk included the task of taking down the signs we had posted to advertise our lost cat, Boyfriend. He has now been gone over two weeks and our only hope is that he somehow ended up with someone not astute enough to think that he might have an identification chip implanted. At least that is better than thinking that he might have suffered a nasty death via car or coyote. The scant remains of some animal were found close to our house, but there was no collar, no tags, no carcass. Mrs. lightning looked at the remains and said she is 98% certain it was not Boyfriend.

Funny how pets can grow on you. Boyfriend acted like he owned the house (typical cat) and even had his own special place reserved on our bed next to Mrs. lightning. We can only hope now.

Poker at The Shoe
On July 3 I decided to make the trek up to Harrah's Horseshoe Hammond to get in some quality poker time. I was in no hurry to leave the house while on vacation and ended up not getting to The Shoe until 3:00 in the afternoon. My first session did not go well. Lost part of my stack running into a straight flush a villain hit on the turn. I had a straight and was able to get away from the hand with flush possibilities and a paired board on the river.

I got flushed away again a few orbits later. One youngish guy at the table kept proclaiming that he was sooooo tight -- at a table filled with a few guys even older than me! Of course, when we saw what kind of crapola he was playing in a few hands it got pretty humorous. One old codger called a big river raise really light, knowing that he was likely ahead. After the young guy handed over about half his chips, all the "mature" players looked at each other and chuckled. So sure -- maybe being somewhat of a nit goes along with getting a tad older, but the young guns forget that wisdom also goes along with it.

Anyway, I was in a pot with this guy in the big blind with Q-J. He was on the button and raised. Based on his play, I gave him no credit at all for having a hand. I called. On the flop I had top pair (Jacks), good kicker. The flop had three crubs (foreshadowing here) and my kicker was the Queen of clubs -- third nut flush draw. The turn was a club, upgrading my hand to the third nuts. We got it all in and I found out that I ran into his flopped second nut flush -- K-9cc. Yuck.

I took a break to play dem good machines to lick my wounds. I went to one of my favorites, Werewolf Wild.

I hit the bonus and made a nice run, cashing out with a good profit. I then played Aladdin.

The magic carpet was good to me and I won back more of the chunk I'd lost. Nothing like covering poker losses with slot winnings!

I went back for a second poker session and had the deck absolutely smack me the first half hour -- even a little too good. I had pocket Aces and saw a flop of A-9-rag rainbow. One guy was along for the ride. The turn was another 9, filling me up. He stayed with me. On the river he led out and I had to decide whether or not to take him to value city or go all in. I decided to make a big value bet and he briefly hesitated, then called. He flipped over A-9 for a boat! How did he not push all in after my value bet? Someone asked him and he said "I just had a feeling that he had pocket Aces." So this guy saw a monster under the bed ... and there really was one there? I couldn't believe he didn't shove with a boat. Bah!

Note: I added this in after `Coach's comment.

A few hands later I had A-Q and saw a flop of Q-Q-rag. Ding! I had a shortie on my left who thought he would wait before shoving his Q-something. The turn was an Ace, filling me up -- one would think the perfect card for the villain to then shove. He didn't, however, and the river was ... dammit, another Ace! He folded his Queens over Aces boat on my river raise. Talk about bad luck.

I was in one big hand hours later against the table aggro guy. I was hoping to trap him and did so when I flopped a straight. Can we say double up?

And ... for those readers who have razor-sharp memories or write all the details down to analyze afterwards ... sorry, but you get the version from the guy with a psychology background who has a crap memory and is not motivated to write notes on his rare ventures into poker rooms. I guess one might say I am living more for the experience.

I ended my trip by slithering in at home at 7:00 a.m. Nothing like driving home during the wee morning hours after a long poker session! But ... at least I got to play poker, which always makes the trip a good one.

I still am on one last week of vacation with nothing major planned. I might take a trip with my wife and possibly a kid or two to St. Charles, Missouri. My wife loves its quaint downtown area with its shops and restaurants. My motivation: there would be a casino within walking distance of our hotel ...

Have a great week!

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Anime Midwest 2013

I took my youngest daughter to the Anime Midwest Convention outside Chicago today. It is not my cup of tea but my daughter had a blast. A few pictures ...

Yes -- I was actually there!

... as was my daughter, cosplaying as Sollux Captor, a troll from the web comic Homestuck
A small group of Sollux Captors
A cuddle pile of Homestuck cosplayers
On the way up and the way back (different routes since the trip included an overnight stay at my Mom's house) I came within easy driving distance of two poker rooms. If only my daughter was at least 21 years old ...

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Next Las Vegas Trip Tentatively Planned

After hearing great stories from friends who are getting back from the WSOP or arriving in Las Vegas in July, I was forced -- absolutely forced -- to tentatively plan my next trip. Getting the proper breaks on airfare and hotels is always a fun part of planning the trip, and it looks like we have a wiener!

The King of Komps (my brother, for those new to the blog) and I plan on heading to Las Vegas for our usual trip around Labor Day weekend. This time of year for a trip usually works well as we can celebrate my brother's birthday and I can relax after making it through the roughest month of the year at work.

Last year our trip was canceled at the last minute. I was just out of the shower and getting ready to begin the drive to pick up my brother and then head to the airport when we decided to delay the trip since we were both feeling sick that morning. From my perspective, it was a wise decision as I was not feeling well again for a few days.

It looks like we will invade Las Vegas September 1-6. Tentative plans are to stay at Sam's Town for one or two days and then finish up the trip at Harrah's. Staying at Sam's Town will be a first for me. I have played poker there a few times over my last several trips and don't mind playing a little limit Hold'em or Omaha to break up my usual NL game.

As for Harrah's ... it seemed like the best option. The location is great, of course, but the last time I was there I was definitely not impressed with my room. It has been a challenge to come up with fantastic deals now that Caesars Entertainment Corporation seems to have tightened its belt regarding comped/discounted rooms. However, I rarely spend time in my room anyway, so what the heck.

So ... the trip is now officially less than two months away. Yowsa! But hey -- didn't I just get back from Las Vegas?????

Monday, July 01, 2013

Monday Miscellany

1) Congrats to former poker blogger and good guy cmitch, who finished 56th in WSOP Event #53 No-Limit Hold'em. His $1500 buy-in and deep run earned him a nice cash of $8743. Congrats!

2) Our cat Boyfriend never returned nor was found. After a phone call I had to check another tabby cat that was found dead in our area, but it was much smaller than Boyfriend. We were informed by a neighbor that he found the remains of an animal that had apparently been killed and eaten by a fox. We wife looked at what was left and is pretty sure it was not our cat. Boyfriends size and the lack of collar or tags at the site support that idea. It is always possible that a coyote got him since they have been know to occasionally wander the area.

Boyfriend wandered into our lives mysteriously and then disappeared just as mysteriously. I guess there is always a chance that somehow he will return, but we are awfully discouraged. We miss him terribly.

3) Spent a couple of days in southern Illinois at the lake house of some friends. Their daughter, a special needs child, had not had a bowel movement in two weeks. She was given several laxatives. Last night she was up all night until 7:00 this morning in her bedroom. The two week wait is over. If I ever hear someone use the words "shit storm" I now officially know what one looks like.

4) The new salary cap in the NHL caused an unpleasant and surprising development for me. The Chicago Blackhawks traded my favorite player, Michael Frolik. He will be playing for the Winnipeg Jets next season. major bummer.

5) Chicago MLB. White Sox and Cubs. Combined 26 games out of fist place. 'nough said. Football season can't come quickly enough.