Sunday, September 09, 2018

Australia Trip Report - Part I

I have now been in Australia almost an entire week. The escapade has certainly been interesting, even right from the start. thundering36 had told me that the Qantas non-stop flight from San Francisco to Melbourne was the inaugural one. He was right. When I got to San Francisco, I saw some balloons at the airline gate. Then I saw some flamboyant dude in a navy blue raincoat with a red hat. I later learned that the guy is tWitch, and that he was filming for an episode of the "ellen" show. I was subsequently filmed entering the airplane and briefly interviewed by tWitch. I wasn't asked to fill out a waiver sheet, so I doubt that I will make it on the show, but it made life interesting for the flight.

Oh yeah - the flight. 15 hours. Ouch! I was fortunate to have the two seats next to me empty, which was nice. I had already slept most of the flight from Chicago to San Francisco, but was able to sleep more during the first half of the flight. Meals were actually welcomed not for the sake of eating, but for burning time. I listened to a lot of music and watched a couple movies (most of Woodstock and the whole movie of Blockers). The whole period of travel, starting from my leaving home to getting to my brother's place in Melbourne was about 36 hours. Yowsa!

The trip from the airport to my brother's place was interesting. We got lost and I have having a difficult time negotiating driving on the opposite side of the road and all the other opposites that entailed. I had to concentrate unbelievably hard. But ... We eventually made it, although thundering nearly suffered two heart attacks from my driving!

I pretty much begged the first day, and on Sept 4 we headed to the Crown Casino to celebrate thundering's birthday with an exquisite buffet. thundering's birthday was actually the day before, but it was still his birthday in the US. Melbourne is actually 15 hours ahead of my regular time zone.

After the lunch buffet, I headed to the Crown poker room for some $1/$3 turbo NL Hold em. If you start taking, the dealer hits a timer, giving you ten seconds to decide. If you pay an extra $3, you get a little extra time. You have to pay a time charge of $5 When you first sit down. Rake is 10% up to $15! When I inquired, I was told "Welcome to Australia!" And by the way, there is no tipping to the dealer on winning hands!

The players seemed loose and bad. Bluffs were rampant. I played patient poker and made a tidy profit. It felt good to get off to a good start.

The next day (Wed) thundering needed a day of rest, so I took public transportation into the city, roamed around a bit, and then headed back to Crown for my second session. Again, the players seemed really bad. I caught some cards and got paid off on some big hands. Would it always be this easy? Ha - I believe we call this foreshadowing!

I headed back out from the city, and thundering and I had dinner at a great Greek restaurant.

On Thursday, we parked at the administrative offices and members club for his footy (Australian Rules Football) team, ate lunch, looked at their grounds and hall of fame, then headed into the city for the first post-season footy game. thundering's mobility issues got our seats moved from the top row of the stadium to main floor handicapped seats. Score! After a great game, we headed back out of the city pretty exhausted after a long day.

I am posting this on my phone, so I will need to pretty it up with pictures when I get back home in another week or so.

There will be more to come. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 01, 2018

A Land Down Under

Today begins quite an adventure for me. In a few hours, I will take the first of three flights that will result in a trip to visit my brother, thundering36, in Melbourne, Australia. It's been several years since I have traveled far from the USA, and this trip will easily be the farthest.

The flight from San Francisco to Melbourne is a straight shot -- over 15 hours, almost completely over water. Mrs. lightning and I were debating whether it would be better to be eaten by sharks or munched on by miscellaneous ocean fish if the plane crashed. I think I would prefer feeding a group of many fish. I guess it's just my nature!

We've planned a few things for the trip. thundering36 and I will celebrate his birthday with a nice brunch buffet at the Crown Casino. Strangely enough, I think I'll find a little time for poker!

We also will be going to a footy game, which I am really looking forward to. I imagine the experience will be quite different than watching Australian Rules Football on television in the USA.

The real challenge of the trip will be driving on the opposite side of the car and the opposite side of the road. I'm gonna have to make sure I concentrate and don't do anything stupid.

I'll be staying for 11 days before heading back via Sydney and Dallas Fort Worth. It should be quite an adventure. I decided not to take a laptop computer, so I'll probably be communicating mostly via phone and social media.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

A Tale of Three Fathers

I

This past Friday marked the 14th anniversary of my father's death. Although it happened so many years ago, there are still painful memories of his last days. He collapsed at his home and never regained consciousness which, in a sense, was probably a good thing. If nothing else, it allowed his children a last chance to see him before he took his last breath. Although he was 80 years old at the time, his liver was still able to be used and was transplanted into a needy person. Unfortunately, we have no information on that person and do not know if she is still alive today.

My dad's final moments were shared with his family as we all stood around him right after he was taken off life support systems. It was a moment of brutal reality.

I have told several stories about my dad over the 12+ years of this blog. Unfortunately, most of the really great stories will never appear here due to the political correctness of current times. My dad used colorful terms in describing people of different ethnicities, races and religions -- terms that were common in the middle to late 1900's. They do not translate well to today's sensibilities. However, any readers chatting with me in person -- particularly over a few frosty beverages -- might get to hear some of these really funny things.

Tomorrow marks the 37th first day of school in my long career in higher education. The only first day I missed in all those years was in 2004 when my dad passed away. One of life's harsh realities for many people is that moment when your first parent dies. Even after years pass, it stays with you. You hope that you have a treasure trove of great memories to focus on rather than the end.


II

As many of you probably know, I am a father to three kids -- two girls and a boy. Those of you who are parents or were ever charged with raising children know everything that goes into parenting the little ones. So much time, effort ... and money! goes into providing a life for these little ones. As they grow older, the costs increase as do, in many cases, the challenges that you face. You don't do it to receive any kind of pat on the back, but you do everything out of love. However, you do remember as special those moments that fill your heart with joy.

As I have shared much of my life through this blog -- stories, good times, bad times -- I really wish to share with my friends something that I received out of the blue the other day. Almost a month ago, I helped my oldest daughter purchase an almost new car. My help included looking for cars for her, going with her to a dealership to test drive one, and finally finding the perfect car for her and helping her arrange dirt-cheap financing. It was fun as I love to get good deals, but it was just one of those things that, as a dad, you do. I'm guessing that this, and possibly other things, caused some reflection on my daughter's part. I was surprised to get the following text while at work this past week:
I was sitting at a table in a public area and didn't want to start bawling in front of everyone, but I was certainly touched. Moments like this don't seem to come around often enough in your life, but when they do, they are spectacular. So despite having to deal with a bunch of crap this month including shelling out several thousand dollars to have some extensive outside sewer and plumbing work, I have been a pretty happy camper. So ... I just wanted to share this with you, some of my best and most dear friends.


III

Saturday was a busy day for me. The mother of a former co-worker passed away and I had to drive outside town to go to the visitation in the morning. Before noon, I left with my wife to go to an out-of-town wedding of a good friend of my daughter. There was a 2 1/2 hour lag between the end of the wedding and the beginning of the reception, so I was able to get in a session of poker at the riverboat casino, which was only two miles away from the place where the reception would be held.

After booking a moderate win, my wife and I headed to the reception. Seats were assigned, and we were seated at a table with several couples who were about our age. I noticed that one gentleman at the table was wearing a pin with a photo on his lapel. We found out that the photo was of his daughter, a very good friend of the bride. In a cruel twist of fate, the daughter contracted a rare disease, went into the hospital and quickly passed away about 20 months ago. I had a few minutes to myself and quickly looked up some information on my phone. I slowly began to remember the newspaper article about his daughter. He checked his daughter's Facebook account and saw that my son was one of his daughter's Facebook friends. They had gone to the same high school. On the wedding party's table, a seat was reserved for this girl and a picture of her was there so that she could be present at the wedding.

I could not believe how difficult it must have been for this father to have lost his young, lovely daughter to a rare disease at such an early age. And to lose her so quickly and unexpectedly ... And then to come to this wedding and watch his daughter's good friend get married, and to see guys like me who still had our daughters at the wedding. My heart was breaking as I thought of how crushing it must have been, and how that sometimes due purely to chance some of us have great things happen, and some have terrible things to deal with. It was certainly a reminder that life is not fair, and that we should take every opportunity to live life to its fullest, as we have no guarantees in this life and, as one distraught parent once wrote, your whole life can change in a moment.

I certainly didn't mean for this post to be a downer, but instead I hope it serves as a reminder to appreciate those you love and tell them so while you can, for you never know when that opportunity might be lost, never to be regained. Life can truly change in an instant.

Thank for reading!

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Still Here Grinding Away at Poker and Life

Sometimes days and weeks seem to fly by. It's hard for me to believe that the last time I posted was before I left for Seattle and Phoenix -- a trip that seems way in the past to me.

On the Seattle part of the trip, I did have an opportunity to play poker one night at the Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn, Washington. I wish I had great stories from the visit, but it was actually a short and rather boring session. They had high hand jackpots every 15 or 30 minutes. I didn't win one. I wasn't getting much in the way of cards to stay in any hands beyond the flop until my final hand, when I flopped a flush. Unfortunately, a new guy at the table flopped a higher one. Meh. I decided things weren't going my way and didn't rebuy.

In Phoenix, I got in several sessions at Talking Stick Resort. The Arena Poker Room is actually a great place to play poker. If you are in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, playing there is a must. One session was especially memorable. I had built my $200 buy-in to almost $1,000 when two hands quickly changed everything. In the first, my table had been selected for a $100 splash pot. After the flop, I was excited to see that I had flopped Broadway! A really weak player ahead of me helped to bloat the pot, but with two hearts on the flop, I didn't want anyone chasing a flush in this $3-300 spread limit game. I raised $300 and saw everyone fold, fold, fold until the action was on a woman who had seemed to play hyper aggressively and , frankly, pretty foolishly. She went in the tank for several minutes and then decided to call with about $200 behind. It turned out that she had the nut flush draw. As luck would have it, she hit her flush on the river. Dang it!

A few hands later, I looked down to see Q-Q (the Dreaded Pocket Queens?). I raised and got two callers. The flop: a beautiful K-Q-K! I don't remember the exact sequence of betting, but I, of course, was going to get it all in versus the one opponent who stayed in the hand with me. Unfortunately, he had about $500 behind. His hand: K-Q! So pretty quickly, almost all the excellent playing that I had done to get up about $800 was wasted.

In another session, I flopped a set of 4's. A wild player next to me pushed, and I of course called. He flipped over pocket 2's for the lower flopped set and was about to double me up when the turn brought his one-outer -- the final deuce to give him quads. We all waited for the river in hopes that I would hit quad 4's and hit the bad beat jackpot, but the dealer didn't put the final one-outer down for us.

In my final session, a wild player opened UTG for $26. I looked down to see The Dreaded Pocket Kings and raised to $70. He called. The flop was Queen high so I pushed and he called with Q-Jos. Yes -- he bet $26 UTG with Q-Jos and then called my pre-flop raise to $70 with that. Of course, you know what is coming. The turn was a Queen ...

I was hoping to get in a session with old online poker opponent PhillyB, but things just didn't work out. Unfortunately, I also didn't get out to Wild Horse Pass to give that poker room another try. I did, however, go to a shooting range with my brother (a former sheriff) and my nephew to, believe it or not, shoot a real gun for the first time. It was a blast!

The time since the trip has been consumed with work and with some other time off. I've played several poker sessions at Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria, IL, Harrah's Joliet (IL) and Horseshoe Hammond (IN). I seem to go in streaks where I win several times in a row and lose several times in a row. Last night at Harrah's Joliet, I ran a full house into rivered quads and ran a set into a bigger set. What can you do when the poker gods abuse you like that?

Looking toward the future ... I have now begun my 25th year at the school where I work. My tentative retirement now appears to be less than 21 months away.

In some exciting news, I am less than four weeks away from my first trip to Australia! I am going to visit my brother, thundering36, and should get there on his birthday. Of course, at least one session of poker at the Crown Casino in Melbourne will be on the agenda.

I hope you are enjoying your summer. This has certainly been a hot but relaxing one for me.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

On the Road Again: Upcoming Trip to Seattle and Phoenix



Sometimes vacation schedules are interesting to put together. I had carved out my June trip to Las Vegas a long time ago. Mrs. lightning, however, works in a small business and can only take vacation when the owners do. They decided to close shop for the first week of July, so that meant vacation time again, but with my wife this time. I presented her with possible options including Washington, D.C. and a cruise out of southern Florida, but she instead decided that seeing our son and her best friend would be more important to her.

So ... come Friday night, we will be heading to Seattle for a few days to visit our son and his girlfriend. On July 3, we will fly to Phoenix to spend some time with friends and family.

While in Seattle, I hope to squeeze in a poker session at Suquamish Clearwater Casino. I had the opportunity to play there on my last trip to Seattle. I had a fun time playing the spread game there, then won a little playing some NL. I don't know if the schedule will permit time there, but if not ...

I'll be spending four days in the Phoenix area, meaning I will get in at least a session or two at the Arena Poker Room at Talking Stick Resort, and maybe even will travel a little further to put in some time at Wild Horse Pass. I just found out that former online poker friend/rival 1Queens Up1/PhillyB322 and I might be able to connect. I will have to once again get used to the spread limit game that The Stick provides.

The sockroll is still very healthy after my Las Vegas trip. u see, no need to MARTINGALE at this time, of course.

I know that it is tough having to work four days between vacation weeks, but someone has to do it!

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Trying to Get Back at that Dirty Little Ho

Mrs. lightning is quite creative. Among her many hobbies are scrapbooking, creating greeting cards and making jewelry. She informed me a few days ago that she had a jewelry making class on Saturday morning. This was of great interest to me since the site of her class is not far from a casino. In the past she's dropped me off at the casino, gone to her class and then picked me up on the way back from the class, allowing me to get in a three or four hour hour poker session. That sounded good to me!

We left early in the morning to begin our trek. I got on the poker room's call-in list and hoped that a game would be ready to start when I got to the casino. Unfortunately, I got to the poker room and found out that I was one of only two people on the call-in list. I decided to burn some time on slot machines. Seinfeld machine -- no soup for me! Lightning link -- nothing. A few other machines gave me nothing until I tried the Zeus machine. Bingo! It not only took care of my previous losses, but even put me ahead for the day!
I then went back to the poker room to wait it out. A few stragglers were around, but finally it looked like we might get enough to start a game. We had four people and were waiting for a fifth. And then a guy who I was expecting to play showed up: Ho.

As I've played more hours against Ho the past year or two, I've decided that he probably really isn't a bad guy. He is a short guy and sometimes a bit difficult to understand with his accent. However, my introduction to Ho included two instances that made me not like him. The first was when he tried to rathole green chips at the table. Someone caught him and he was busted. Instead of just manning up, he acted like he couldn't understand English well enough to get what he was being told. I was reminded of when Sammy Sosa had an interpreter with him at the senate hearing when the government was looking into steroids in Major League Baseball. Suddenly a guy who appears to communicate in English well enough seems to lose his ability to do so. Jerk.

Ho was asked to either put his green chips back on the table or leave the game. Surprisingly, he left! Another time when I nearing the top of the wait list, he weaseled himself into a game ahead of me. Needless to say, I considered him a scummy guy.

I have been at the table against Ho enough times to know how to play him. He is uber aggressive and loves to steal pots. If he sees me in a hand, he will rarely stay in. If he does, he will almost always fold if I raise, so my strategy with him is to bluff and to trap. I was able to bluff him several times and was hoping to set a trap with Ah-Kh on the button and Ho on my left in the big blind. A few players had limped in the hand, and I decided to just call on the button. I was hoping that Ho would do his usual trick of making a big raise, and then I was going to put in a huge re-raise. Unfortunately, he didn't do as expected that hand and got away with minimal damage. He is, at heart, a good and sneaky player. However, he later got busted by someone else when a bunch of players all called a pre-flop bet of seven. Ho, in late position, made it $41 to go. One guy called and eventually took a huge chunk of Ho's chips. This was an up and down day for Ho.

Before the game ended, I was able to double my buy in in the two hours I was able to play. With my wife's class over and with her on the way to pick me up, I had to cash out, which effectively ended the short-handed game. Ho muttered something and sprinted off with his chips, probably heading to a blackjack table or craps pit to try his luck there. That was fine with me, for I had taken enough off him to make a dent in his stack. We will face off again another day.

Thanks for reading!

Note: Today (Sunday) I popped into the poker room. Ho offered to sell me his seat for $20. I got out four redbirds and held them out in my hand. When he made a motion toward them I closed my hand and snatched them away. 😁


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Las Vegas Trip Report for June 2018 - Part III

After a leisurely morning on Wednesday, I decided to walk to Ellis Island to eat lunch in the cafe there, which had been a favorite on past trips. I was surprised that there was virtually nobody there during the lunch hours. Maybe the construction at Ellis Island is keeping people away. I ordered the steak special and was a tad disappointed. Ah well, I hate to complain about a $10 steak, but I just did!

I walked back to Bally's to get in a session there, wondering if my buddy Ron could once again deal me some good cards. Little did I know Ron would be saving my butt before the afternoon was over!

I was having a good session and was up. There was plenty of aggressive play, and I was hoping that I could really take advantage of it. A young guy sat down -- and I mean really young looking, like about 16 years old. He lost a buy in, re-bought, and then watched his stack go up and down like an elevator. He went on a heater and started crushing the table until the big hand of the afternoon. He was in UTG and raised ($12?). Another player or two called as I looked down at Q-J offsuit. I called. The flop was Q-J-3. I saw this as the moment I had been waiting for. The kid checked. I bet from middle position, a guy in late position called, and the kid called. The turn was a King, which I certainly didn't want to see. The kid bet, I re-raised, and the guy in late position with a modest stack shoved. The details at this point are a little fuzzy to me, but we got everything in. Frankly, I didn't know if I was ahead once the King came on the turn. I hoped I was. Ron then dealt the river and ... BINGO - I hit a full house. Unfortunately for the kid, he also did. It turns out that he had flopped a set of threes and I was way behind until the river. I felted both played, won a huge pot, and made a mental note to myself that I need to refer to Ron as "the best poker dealer in Las Vegas" for about the next two years. I am usually the one getting sucked out on. It felt good to be on the other side for once.

I had made plans to play that evening at the Wynn poker room with VegasDWP, so I eventually cashed out at Bally's and headed down the Strip. DWP had already had me on the wait list as a call in, and after a short wait we were both seated, but at different tables.

If you have never played at Wynn (actually Encore), you should know that it is a really nice room, themed in blue and white. Many think that it is the premier poker room in Las Vegas. The $1/3 NL game often has some tough players, so I knew I had to up my game for the evening. Right after sitting down, I was dealt A-K and raised as I should. I got two callers. The flop was rag-King-rag, so I bet and again got two callers. The flop was a beautiful King, giving me trips with top kicker. I bet again and was called by a short stack who was now all in. A woman in late position also called and then called my bet after the river. I felted the guy on my first hand and won a significant portion of the woman's chips. The next hand I was dealt pocket Queens and raised. The same woman called. The flop: K-Q-rag -- I had now flopped a set. I bet and she shoved with King-something. I, of course, called winning another nice pot and now felting the woman. Everyone at the table was looking at me like "who is this guy?" The player on my right remarked that he had been there for hours and barely had any playable hands. Dat's poker!

Rob answered the bat signal for additional players to join us at Wynn, and soon Mike Ritze also showed up in hopes of playing some Omaha. While waiting, he was seated  at the same table as DWP. Rob was at a different table and texted me that a guy at his table looked like infamous 2016 WSOP speech play guru Will (nine high like a boss) Kassouf. I went to Rob's table to get a look and confirmed that it was him or an exact double. Rob later said that the player's accent was spot on. Welcome, Mr. Kassouf! I'm sure that Rob will talk in some detail about this evening at some point on his blog.

Mike needed to leave, and DWP and Rob were both able to join me at my table. Being at a primo poker room in Las Vegas and tossing cards with friends -- does life get much better for a poker player? Of course, that and getting a decent run of cards and playing some skillful poker!

After a great afternoon and evening, it was time to head back to Bally's. Bally's currently has a promotion where four hours of live cash play earns you a free buffet at Paris. I was short about an hour, so I headed to the cash tables to play. At my first table, big stacks were throwing lots of chips around. I decided to switch tables. We were in the early morning hours and several players were leaving. I got switched to several tables and then finally figured I should just go to bed. In true Las Vegas fashion, I got a buffet comp that was worth about $20. Unfortunately, I lost $78 at the session I needed to get in the extra hour!

On late Thursday morning I headed to Paris for my "free" buffet, then headed back to Wynn in the afternoon to play some poker with my friend Arch, who I first met at the 1st Annual TBC "Memorial" Meet Up that I organized back in January 2017. Arch has an interesting take on Tony, having played with him many times in Las Vegas. Arch was on his home turf at Wynn and had position on me, so I tried to avoid shipping too much money his direction! On my right was a guy who is doing a trip report on the 2+2 Poker Forum. I felt like our end of the table was pretty strong. We all ended up leaving with a profit. I am happy about winning again at Wynn, because I think the better competition there makes me play better poker overall.

I confirmed with DWP that Trooper Thursday was still in good shape at Westgate, so I had Arch drop me off there (thanks again, buddy!) and in my first half hour was up almost $500. Rivering a boat one hand when I had pocket Jacks didn't hurt! However, I lot a big chunk of chips when one player chased and hit his flush. Meh. 

Some free food was delivered, and I was surprised to see DrChako there, along with BadBlood. These guys are former poker bloggers and tough customers at the table. My table broke and there was no other table with openings, so I cashed out and intended to head back to the Strip. However, soon a seat opened up at a table with DWP, Chako and BadBlood, so I bought back in. What a great decision that was!
lightning and VegasDWP at Westgate

The game was really wild as the chips were flying and the alcohol was flowing freely. I don't even like tequila and I had several shots! DrChako and BadBlood were continually challenging a player at the opposite end of the table. But it was done in a fun, drunken sort of way, not in a mean or spiteful way. A couple of hands that stand out included a bomb pot hand when  DrChako was dealt A-K with a flop of A-A-Q! 
DrChako, BadBlood and me

In another bomb pot I looked down to see pocket Queens! The flop was uncoordinated and all card values were below my Queens. I was first to act and bet $100. A guy two seats down who seemed to be a solid player announced "all in." What? Either the guy flopped two pair or worse yet, a set. In my last visit to Las Vegas, I played on Trooper Thursday and flopped a set of deuces, felting my friend DWP, who flopped two pair. With a solid player shoving and my hand consisting of just an over pair, folding wasn't difficult albeit painful since I shipped that quick hundo in. Everyone folded and the player showed, as expected, a set. Ah well ...

I have now played at two Trooper Thursdays, had a bunch of fun and made money each session. If you are around on Thursdays, and especially if you are a fan of TheTrooper97's vlog, I highly recommend that you join in on the fun.

Knowing that heaters can do just as quickly as they come, I decided to continue the poker night when it was time to leave Westgate. I hopped on the monorail and went to MGM to see if I could turn things around. I did, booking another winning session. However, I shortened my time there since a poker Twitter friend, BigChiefTalkBollocks, had arrived from England and was playing at Planet Hollywood. I walked down to PH and met Paul, who seemed to be struggling in his first hours of play. After another winning session, I thought I should get to bed since I had to check out of Bally's in the morning. Before I left, I went over to Paul's table to say goodbye. I was happy to see a healthy stack of chips sitting in front of him. Good job, mate!

I woke up Friday morning, packed my bags and actually made it out of my room close to check out time. I am a notoriously slow packer and dresser. I dropped off my luggage at the bell desk and then went to P.F. Chang's in Planet Hollywood for lunch. I had my favorite meal there, Mongolian Beef. It seemed like this meal wasn't as good as in previous trips, a common theme on this current Las Vegas adventure. I played one final PH session, continuing my run good. A new player came to the table and complained about taking bad beats. He seemed like a nice guy but a  bit cocky. We got into it one hand. I raised with A-K, he three bet, I four bet and he shoved. I called. It was A-K vs A-K. However, the flop was three hearts and I had the Ace of hearts. And yes, you can guess what happened: I caught the nut flush on the river. Needless to say, his run bad continued. I didn't like the vibe I was getting from him and wanted to play one more time with a hope for some type of promotional jackpot, so I cashed out and headed back to MGM.

Despite some good promotions at MGM, I just wasn't hitting anything and lost a chunk of chips when I ran top-top into a set. Fortunately, I didn't lose too much. I got a comp to pay for most of my dinner at Tap in MGM, then headed back to Bally's for one final session. Rob and VegasDWP said that they would meet me there. We were all able to play at the same table my final session, which was great. I think I astounded (or maybe made nauseous)  Rob when he saw that I won a pot playing 9-3sooted. I guess that just confirmed for him that I am the "bad player" he said I was many moons ago. I was up to about $330 from my initial $200 when I looked down to see The Dreaded Pocket Kings. A  relatively new player to the table raised to $6 (below regular raises at that table). I bumped to $25, he re-raised to around $65 ... you can guess what happened. We were all in preflop and he had ... Rockets! I guess his small initial raise to $6 fooled me. He could have had six or more callers. He left me with a few redbirds which I parlayed into a bit more before shoving and losing, but it was just about time for me to leave. I was ready to go.

I said goodbye to DWP, and Rob drove me to the airport (thanks again, good buddy!). I got a late meal, got on the red eye flight, slept almost the entire way back to Chicago, ate breakfast, then slept during the short final plane ride back home. It was just over one complete week from when I went to the airport at the start of the trip.

I mentioned in my previous trip report post that I had figured out why the poker gods weren't crapping on me like they had been for most of 2018. I got a text from my brother, thundering36, Friday night at Bally's. He is currently in Australia (17 hours ahead) and sent me the following text: "Spending mom's second anniversary today at home." He was already into Saturday -- the second anniversary of our mom's death. I had to fight back the tears at the table when it finally dawned on me what might have happened. You can believe what you want. I posted the following on Facebook while waiting at O'Hare Airport:

It was two years ago that my mother passed away. I'm on my way back home after a vacation in Las Vegas. All week long, I seemed to have a trail of good luck. In the poker world, we joke about the poker gods and whether or not you are in their favor. Maybe it was just a mother still looking after her son. I dunno.

All in all, this was certainly one of my favorite trips to Las Vegas. Although there were a few losses sprinkled in, I had win after win and ended up with a very nice profit. I spent time with, played cards with and chatted with several friends throughout the week. I met some new friends and just had an overall excellent time.

My thanks to the friends who helped make this trip so much fun. I got back home with a bulging wallet and a huge smile on my face. What more could I ask for or want?

Thanks for reading!