Saturday, January 31, 2015

Meeting Ernie Banks

Today, the city of Chicago buried one of its sports greats, Ernie Banks -- Mr. Cub. Banks had a long history in Chicago, playing for the lovable loser Chicago Cubs and later having various positions in greater Chicagoland. Banks was famous for his love of the "friendly confines" of Wrigley Field, day baseball, and his enthusiastic saying "Let's play two." Banks was likely the most beloved Chicago sports start of my lifetime.

Growing up in suburban Chicago, I watched many of Banks's games on WGN. Unfortunately, I watched his later years when his skills were diminishing as the Cubs's hopes were rising, culminating in one of the greatest disappointments of my early life: the collapse of the 1969 Cubs.

I did get to meet Ernie Banks once, however. It was quite some time ago so the details might be a little off. I think I was in about sixth grade, and my junior high basketball team was playing against a team that featured Banks's twin sons. The baseball season was long over for the Cubs (heh), and we hoped that we would get to meet Banks at the game. We were cautioned that he might not be there because of his many commitments and that even if he was, we were there to play a game and might not get to meet him.

I remember that my team won because my junior high school basketball team only lost a handful of games in three years. However, the memorable part was the Mr. Cub came over after the game to shake hands with the members of my team. He didn't look happy that his sons' team lost, but I figured that handling losses was something he had gotten used to with the mid-60's Cubs. But coming over to thrill a bunch of junior high boys? That was the kind of guy that Ernie Banks was.

One of my great baseball television memories was watching the game when Banks hit his 500th career home run. Jack Brickhouse had been enthusiastically waiting to announce that moment for some time. A funny part of the story is that Banks actually had a triple (more than one, I think) between homers 499 and 500. As I recall, there was a chance that Banks could have had an inside-the-park home run for #500, but he was held at third.

So long, Mr. Cub. You were one of a kind.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Night of Professional Wrestling: The Thursday Night Throwdown

Professional wrestling had, at more than one time in my life, been an area of interest. Growing up in suburban Chicago in the 1960's and 70's, I watched the old Bob Luce Wrestling show that featured such greats at Dick the Bruiser and The Crusher, Yukon Moose Cholak, Baron Von Raschke, Wilbur Snyder, Billy Red Cloud, The Blackjacks, Bobby Heenan ... Yes, those were some great times.

I also watched wrestling during the 1980's when Hulk Hogan, the Iron Sheik, Andre the Giant, Macho Man Randy Savage (who grew up in the town next to the town where I grew up) and many other greats were popular. However, I faded away from watching pro wrestling many years ago.

I knew that one of my former advisees was involved in the lowest of rungs of professional wrestling, so when I saw that he was going to be in a match tonight, I decided to go. When I say the lowest of rungs, I mean that. The matches were held in what is basically a huge garage type building.

The crowd was tremendous.
Action took place both inside and outside the ring.
It was actually quite a bit of fun, and certainly over the 90 minutes of action I got my $5 worth.
Years ago, I had a hidden desire to become a professional wrestling manager. I mean, in what other profession (aside from politics) could you clearly have good vs. evil, spout off a bunch of bullshit in a microphone and get paid for it? Oh, what could have been ...

Monday, January 19, 2015

Illegal Tender

Must spend immediately!

Just a funny little thing to start the week off today. This was a humorous gift from the King of Komps to help me celebrate my birthday, which is tomorrow. Perhaps I should change my online name to lightning37 since I will be 37 years old (sort of ... ummmm ...).

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Rocking the New Home Game

People who have following this blog for at least a year might recall that I had a home poker game in town -- one that I called my "international home games" due to the diversity of people who played in it -- that I hem hawed about for months. The game began with low buy-ins and decent poker play, but ended up being basically a bingofest with rides that were awfully wild. Additionally, we were playing in a public building and I was afraid that one day we would either be visited by the local police or would be held up by someone who noticed what we were doing and was looking for a quick score. There were a few other bothersome things associated with the game, so I basically stopped playing in it. Fewer and fewer games were played last spring as the number of regulars dwindled, and the guy who ran the game decided not to run it anymore this past fall.

A few weeks ago, however, one of the old regulars, David, notified us that he was starting a new home game in January. Although he hopes to alternate orbits with NL Hold em and Omaha, he is just starting with Hold em now to get the group going. The first game was last night and I played in it.

David lives in an older house in town and the game was in the basement. Last night it was really c-o-l-d! I was wearing a sweater and still ended up playing most of the night with my winter coat on. Brrrr.

Interestingly, David ran a game much different than the old one. He had a regular dealer who actually was quite good. I don't know what kind of deal David negotiated with the dealer, but tokes were also encouraged. The standard toke was 50 cents per winning hand. The game was $.50/$1 NL Hold em with a $1 maximum rake. David had beer and soda available, along with candy, chips and even a pizza that was cooked midway through the session.

I had originally planned to play for only about 2 1/2 hours, but when the competition is fun and there is at least guy donking off all kinds of money at the table, the urge to stay is strong. The drunk guy virtually giving away money did something to me that I had never had done before: he cracked my Aces with 7-2os!

I jumped out to a nice profit early but then plateaued out for several hours. However, in the last hour, I got the bump I needed when I flopped a set of 5's (presto!) against the drunk guy's overpair. With that win and several other good hands I played, I made a nice profit for the night.

The worst part of the night was going home. It was sooo freakin cold in the wee morning hours!

I was bored a few days ago and decided to deposit a little on Bovada. I have run that up a bit playing Omaha and O-8, so it seems like the run bad streak I recently had at the East Peoria riverboat in late December and early January has grinded to a halt. Poker sure is much more fun when you are winning as opposed to getting your nuts crushed!

I might end up playing a bit at Bovada with Tony Bigcharles. I guess I'll find out then if my winning will continue and if I can felt him a time or two. After all, isn't the Omaha game there so easy that even I can win? What do you think, TBC? lol

Have a great day!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sooo Close ...

Illinois State University lost the 2015 NCAA FCS football championship today to North Dakota State University 29-27. After ISU came back to take the lead in the final two minutes of the game, NDSU came back in the last minute to score, winning its fourth consecutive championship.
Go Redbirds -- we'll get then next time.


Sunday, January 04, 2015

Review: Con Alt Delete -- December 19-21, 2014 -- Rosemont, IL

The Merry Maids
Hello blog viewers! Guess who this is?
That’s correct- lightning’s daughter! And my oh my, did I have a great weekend at Con Alt Delete.
We’ll start with some context: Con Alt Delete was an anime convention that was held at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare In Rosemont, IL and is very similar in style to Anime Midwest (which I already covered in July). There are panels run by staff and guests alike, an artist’s alley full of goodies to buy, and of course, plenty of food and entertainment. It lasted from December 19th to December 21st, and although it was smaller than Anime Midwest was, it was equally as fun. Unfortunately, I was only able to go on the 20th and 21st because somebody (read as: my father) had work.
This year, instead of Sollux Captor from my beloved Homestuck, I cosplayed as Eren Jaeger from a relatively new Anime/Manga, Attack on Titan. I’d highly recommend that you watch/read it.
(Hey, that's me!)
The experience was a great one, as most if not all conventions are. I made several new friends, took plenty of pictures, and overall had a fantastic time. One of the best highlights of the convention was definitely the Whose Line Is It Anime panel (which, as the name implies, is an anime-based improv show similar to that of Whose Line Is It Anyway). There was laughter, music, friendliness, fun- basically, it was another fantastic moment in my life.
For those in the Illinois area who are planning on going to conventions, Con Alt Delete is definitely one to consider.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Las Vegas Trip Report Part IV: Cards Against Humanity, FY TBC, MGM Mastery, and All Good Things Must End

Monday, Dec. 8 began with reading Tony's latest blog post about the night before. AgSweep had met Tony that night and had come with a female friend, so naturally Tony assumed that AgSweep was a lesbian. I am sure that was news to her husband of over 30 years! I contacted Tony and got him to revise his initial post. Was this one of the duties bestowed on members of the Inner Circle?

The afternoon began with a solo lunch at the Sidewalk Café in Bally's. This has been a regular stop on just about every Las Vegas trip. Yes -- those Caesar's comps come in handy! After lunch, I headed over to Mirage to play some cash games with Nick. We were going to sit at the same table, but both liked the table where we started. I ended up with a nice profit, in part thanks to the suckout I had when a short stack did the old limp/all in routine after someone had raised pre-flop. I looked down to see a sooted Big Slick (diamonds) , so what the heck -- I called. Surprise surprise, the shortie had Rockets. Unfortunately for him. I flopped two additional cards to the Royal (Jd, 10d) and hit the gutshot straight on the turn. Red Queen, wrong suit, but good enough.

Nick and I left late in the afternoon to head back to our rooms before going to the restaurant/bar that Alysia Chang had selected for us to play Cards Against Humanity. Unfortunately, I looked at my text messages for the address and missed the follow-up text message which corrected the address. Yes -- whether an address is South or North on the road makes a difference. We ended up in the parking lot of this place as we called for directions:
Umm ... part of the phone conversation with AC: "Okay, I now know where we need to go. But, umm ... Nick and I might be a little late. We'll meet you there in two or three hours."

After a little difficult navigating, we finally found the place. Going inside, we were met by AC, Rob and Rob's subject of many posts, Poker Prudence. I had met Prudence on a previous trip to Las Vegas and had even played some cards with her at MGM. However, I don't believe she had a very good impression of me as Rob told her all the crap I gave him about how she would fall in love with me, like most women do. Well ... it's true!

Right about the time we got there, TBC woke up and called. He was unhappy that I went since I told him I was having second thoughts on going since card games outside of poker are really not my thing, and since I heard the game might evolve into TBC Cards Against Humanity. I then declined to pick him up since I was already there and he didn't bother waking up in time to go. He decided to go downtown to pick up some free play at El Cortez and play poker at Golden Nugget -- downtown, which was really about the last place I wanted to go.

We had a special guest at the game as AC brought her laptop and Skyped none other than Poker Grump! Unfortunately, the connection was not great and AC's battery ran down fast, causing us to say goodbye to Grump earlier than we planned.

The game itself was a blast! Prudence put a huge hurt on us and had about twice as many cards at the end as the rest of us. There were a few TBC cards in the deck, but there was also a great Rob card in there also! And of course, anything having to do with Rob necessarily had to involve female breasts!

Afterwards, we decided to play at MGM for several reasons, such as it being a favorite of Rob and Prudence, and also because Nick and I were having some success there. The MGM poker room turned out to be extremely wonderful for me this trip.

Once there, I got seated at a table right next to Prudence. I got a set my first hand and doubled up. Yowza! A few hands later, Prudence was all in and a guy went in the tank deciding whether or not to call. Prudence then says "Oh -- I am so high. Are you taking a long time to decide or does it just seem that way to me?" The guy thinks for a minute and folds. Good times!

I texted TBC that we were at MGM. His reply began "Pretty selfish of u to make sure I couldn't hangout and talk." Yeah -- I guess I am the one who is banned from virtually every Strip property and always expects everyone to play at the few places that tolerate me. And of course, Tony always interprets verbalizations and actions through his unique prism and rarely gets anything right -- or at least close to what others would interpret. He took my asking about the action at the Golden Nugget to suggest that I would be going there. Umm ... no Tony, I was just showing interest in what you were doing. I had no intention of going downtown and no intention of leaving MGM when I was having another great session.

Somehow Tony thought that Monday was my last night in Las Vegas, so I told him that I had one more night. Tony "over interprets" things and then, in his mind, everyone is supposed to center their actions around him and his schedule. When you don't, he starts to whine about how he feels left out and usually begins to make more false assumptions. I actually like most of the time I spend with Tony, but it is this other part that drives his friends crazy and tends to drive them away from him.

The night at MGM continued to be great. Since I was on a big win streak, I just knew -- JUST KNEW -- that my name would be called as one of the 4:00 a.m. promo winners (entries were based on getting a flush or higher hand during the drawing period). And guess what? I was right!

Yes -- MGM proved to be a fun little honey hole for me this trip. Cracking Rob's set of Jacks with Q-10 sooted, terrorizing Nick with nasty names for either donking a win against me or bluffing me off the winning hand, just playing good, solid poker and catching a few cards, winning promo money, telling some guy at a table that I was obviously the smartest person there and had an IQ of 142 -- yes, the first few sessions at MGM were great. It looked like my remaining time would demand at least one more session there.

Tuesday, December 9 began with a slight inconvenience: having to go check out of Bally's and go to my third hotel of the trip -- Luxor. I got a free night through Facebook's My Vegas Slots. But first, however, a visit to the promised land was due.
Nick and I met Rob at the In-N-Out just off the Strip for what would be Nick's first time there. My order was the usual: a double double animal style, fries and a chocolate shake. Nick seemed to think In-N-Out was okay and Rob is used to it, living on the west coast. But for me ... heaven! One day I will have to do a double double and then a Whopper. My heart might not be able to take all the fat and sodium, but at least I would die with a smile on my face.

Nick then went with me as I checked in to Luxor, which took about two minutes. I had exceptionally short check in times this trip. We took the funky elevator to my room. If you have never stayed in Luxor, it is quite an experience riding in the elevator that goes up and down at an angle.

The room at Luxor seemed to be pretty nice. However, I barely spent any time in it. Nick and I chatted for a few minutes, then went to play poker at Luxor. Unfortunately, there was not a game going, so we walked to Mandalay Bay, where I had not played for a few years.

We were originally seated at a new table. However, new players were not coming in and some of the people at other tables were leaving, so we ended up being at separate tables. Soon we were playing together, and both of us put a nasty hurt on the regulars. In both cases, we were in hands with guys who flopped sets. Unfortunately for them they slow played them, allowing us both to go runner runner boat. Pretty amazing to see us do the exact same thing and win big pots. Better to be lucky than good, I always say!

Earlier I had texted Tony and had asked him to text me when he woke up. Tony's usual schedule was to wake up around 6:00 p.m., so I thought that Nick and I would get in a decent session before meeting up with Tony somewhere. On that day, however, he woke up and texted me just after 3:00 p.m. Nick and I had just begun the session there, were having success and were not ready to leave anytime soon. Tony was getting antsy because he had to make some decisions about housing and traveling, so he was pushing to have me contact him IMMEDIATELY. I told him that we were going to be awhile, but was not sure how long. That seemed to be the final straw for TBC, as then the text messages from him became coming in rapid fire. People who have exchanged text messages with Tony before know what I am talking about. Tony, is his usual and unique way, read too much into what I texted him, got upset and hurt, and then decided to spew.

TBC: I fix it so im reliable when I tell others something u aren't

lightning: Re-read PPP's comments (referring to an excellent comment PPP recently wrote regarding Tony)

TBC: All I see is u are a hypocrite. U don't keep promises and u expect others to go out of their way to accommodate u  (Do you believe that HE wrote this?)

TBC: Also when a friend just needs someone to sit and consult with u make them wait days to talk just so u can gamble. (Do you believe that HE wrote this?)

TBC: U won't even do it over the phone without a two day wait let alone in person

TBC: Had u wanted u couldve at least found time for a fifteen min call in the last 48 hrs

TBC: Ppp a hypocrite too none of what he expects from me will he do himself

lightning: Tired of all the shit you say about me. Not coming now. Get lost.

TBC: U never intended to anyway

TBC: U wanted others to think I did while at the same time making it clear to me not only would u not leave nick u wouldn't even make arrangements for later

TBC: U don't know how to treat someone as a friend i do treat others like a friend and for it im mocked and treated like dirt because of my disability

Not quite the Christian stuff that Tony posted in his blog. Funny how he didn't post THIS part of our text conversation. After a few more comments, I told him that there are consequences for actions, and the consequence for him was that I was not wasting my final hours in Las Vegas with a jerk like him. I was having was having way too much fun hanging out with Nick and Rob and playing at MGM.

So Tony screwed himself. Instead of Nick, Rob and I meeting Tony somewhere to play poker, I told Nick that he was on his own if he wanted to meet up with Tony. Instead, Nick and I went to MGM to meet Rob for dinner and play some poker. Once again, Rob generously used his comps at MGM for us to eat here:

After dinner, we were ready to once again take on the poker world. A little earlier I had received a message from Mr. Subliminal, who was hoping to make it to The Strip to play with us. Unfortunately, he was ultimately not able to -- perhaps some problem in navigating the secret underground tunnel system the homeless in Las Vegas use. Or maybe he was just on a panhandling heater. In any event, I made him promise to connect with me next time I am in Las Vegas. Perhaps we can go slot fishing for abandoned credits or something.

As Nick, Rob and I were getting seated for poker, we heard that AC was going to stop by to say goodbye. Nick and Rob soon were able to get at the same table, but I chose to stay at mine for awhile since the action was good. Soon AC came and was able to be seated with the other guys.

My table was fun and profitable. One guy was ordering a drink I never tried, so he gave me one of his and, although I grew up outside Chicago, I tasted for the first time a Chicago classic: Jeppson's Malort. It has a strangely bitter, yet interesting taste. Should I buy a bottle? Hmmm ...

I eventually took a seat at the table with the others. I was interested to hear that there was common ground with some of the players One guy was a big fan of Pete P. Peters -- a guy that Rob previously referred to as the "Triple P Stalker," I believe. He apparently was once on the same flight PPP had taken.  Another guy was also well familiar with the whole TBC story. He was a lawyer and from Ohio. In the Rob's Vegas Poker Tradition, I will give him a pseudonym. Let's call him Ohio Phil. It was a blast talking the TBC story with Ohio Phil, who was up to date with the latest happenings. As we talked about TBC at the table, we once again had to assure people that his story was not a level and is 100% legit. People always are suspicious.

I continued to have a great poker night, which got better when several cowboys in Las Vegas for the rodeo sat down at the table. The cowboys were fun and polite and spewed a lot of money. I was sad to see them go.

As the night crept on, I decided to stay since it was my last night in Las Vegas. When the play at my table got really slow during the 5:00 a.m. hour, I decided to call it a night. I made sure to tell the night Manager what a great time I had ... and to remind her that Rob is the King!

I headed back to my room at Luxor, grabbing some Mickey D's for breakfast along the way. I got back to my room and decided to get about an hour's sleep before I had to check out and leave. I guess the tiredness showed as I discovered that I left my winter coat in my rental car when I returned it. They were able to retrieve it at E-Z Rent-A-Car, and I texted AC and asked her if she could pick it up and send it to me. Dang but she was fast. The coat was already on its way via Fed Ex before I got back to Illinois!

So ... I have to say that I had an excellent trip. The poker was very good as I won at Mirage, Mandalay Bay, and every session I played at MGM. The only place I lost in cash games: my old favorite place -- Bally's! Hanging out a lot with Nick and Rob was great, as was spending some time with other people like AC, Poker Prudence, grrouchie, and even Tony when he wasn't being a pain in the butt.

When will I head out to Las Vegas in 2015? I am currently looking at dates in mid to late January and early to mid February. If comped/discounted rooms and free/cheap airfare work out, it will be a go. In the meantime, I will have to settle for playing at the somewhat local boat. But you know, it just isn't the same.

Have a great 2015!