Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Tickets, Anyone?


A new post by fellow blogger Ace told of his recent traffic ticket and the Notice to Appear that he received. I was reminded of a somewhat humorous situation that I dealt with many years ago. I hate to mention how many years ago it actually was because I will just depress myself at the holiday season as I remember that I am getting old!

I did post the story as part of a multi-themed post almost five years ago. This is what I wrote back then.


The Traffic Ticket and the Concert
I worked all day on Friday and then headed off to see Heart and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts in concert. Just a few blocks away from my house, I got pulled over by a deputy sheriff who thought that a car zipping by at 20 miles over the speed limit should not get away unscathed.

I can't even remember how long it has been since I got a conviction on a ticket. Even the last ticket I received was over ten years ago. I got it late one night coming off an interstate highway in a desolate area. I unfortunately did not come to a complete stop at a stop sign -- something done by many that time of night. Unfortunately, the county police used that intersection as a money making project for the county. Even while getting the ticket, I was advised by the deputy sheriff to ask for court supervision, which would add additional revenue to the county.

I went to the courthouse on the designated day ... along with probably over 100 more suckers. The process was fast -- plead guilty, ask for supervision, pay a little extra money, go home. Sweet way to gouge us chumps who got caught in the late-night trap. My moment in open court was a tad funny.

Court officer: Mr. lightning, are you currently on court supervision?

Me: No. However, in the state of Indiana, I believe I am currently on some sort of driver's diversion program.

Court officer: We don't care about Indiana. Are you pleading guilty and asking for court supervision?

Me: Yes.

Judge: Approved. Pay the clerk. Next case ...

Mrs. lightning and I got to the concert in plenty of time despite the unanticipated delay. My wife was extremely tired from a long week at work and fought to stay awake at the concert.

The concert itself: meh. Both groups sounded really good, but it ended up seeming like some rather boring 1980's flashback to me.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! And for all my friends outside the United States - have a great day!

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Hotel Tony Bigcharles: You Can Check Out Any Time You Like, But You Can Never Leave


The other day I happened to look at a post I wrote in December 2014 -- almost five years ago. At that particular time, I had become frustrated being the assumed head (or Grand Exalted Poobah, as I liked to call myself) of the Tony Bigcharles Inner Circle, a small group of friends that Tony had to complain to, share ideas with, etc.
My post was titled "On Leaving Walden" and quoted Thoreau:

I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one. It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves. I had not lived there a week before my feet wore a path from my door to the pond-side; and though it is five or six years since I trod it, it is still quite distinct. It is true, I fear, that others may have fallen into it, and so helped to keep it open. The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men; and so with the paths which the mind travels. How worn and dusty, then, must be the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity! I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains. I do not wish to go below now.

I had just returned for a trip to Las Vegas and had, actually, one of my all-time favorite trips. I spent time playing poker and hanging out with two of my poker buddies -- Rob and Nick. I won a lot at poker that particular trip (except at, of all places, Bally's!), and had fun doing some other things like participating in the old WPBT (World Poker Bloggers Tournament) and playing Cards Against Humanity with Rob, Nick, Alysia Chang, Rob's old poker friend "Prudence," and via computer for part of the game, Poker Grump. I had hung out with TBC for a bit, but he was being a dick this particular visit and my frustrations with him were at an all-time high. After I got back home, I thought it was time to give up the leadership of the TBC Inner Circle.

I first met TBC in February 2012.  As I recall, I somehow assumed Inner Circle leadership after it was abandoned by poker friend grrouchie. Very Josie had been kind of the interim leader for a time, but she felt like she needed to back away and reclaim some of her life. That was also my intention as 2014 came to an end.

It is funny how time flies. In the almost five years after I decided to back away from the day-to-day life of TBC, I find that I am still connected to him. We don't communicate as frequently as we used to, but I believe and I hope that he still considers me one of the friends that he can depend upon. I sometimes hear from him when he is stressing out or has some big decision to make, or is scared that someone is going to kill him and steal the sockroll. He knows that I am honest with him, and hey -- friends sometimes get upset with each other but still stay friends.

One of the big benefits from being part of the TBC story is the many, many TBC followers whom I've met over the years. I can truly say that almost all of them have been good people who, at one time or another, attempted to help out Tony. Sometimes they get a little frustrated at the progress, which I have sometimes compared to drilling through rock with water - one drip at a time. But their good intentions were there.

This coming February will mark eight years since I first met TBC and became involved in the circus. I must say that the ongoing TBC story provided some light to me on some of the dark, crappy days of my life. Like a lonnnnng book that takes seemingly forever to read, there is always another chapter to try to sneak in before you call it a day. The sockroll lives on!

Thanks for reading!



Friday, October 18, 2019

For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her

Yesterday, I was reminded of kind of a funny/weird family story. It goes back to when my kids were really young.

Friends of mine know that I am a bargain hunter.Years ago when my kids were small, my family stopped at a McDonald's for lunch. While buying a few Happy Meals, I noticed a promotion by McDonald's: fill out a form with a child's name, address, date of birth, etc., and McDonald's would send the child a certificate for a free Happy Meal on his/her birthday. Sounds kind of sweet to a bargain hunter, right? The only problem was that none of my kids had a birthday coming up in the immediate future. So what did I do? I filled out a form for a make believe daughter, whom I named Emily, and assigned her a birthday in about a month so that a certificate for a free Happy Meal would come before any of the real birthdays of my kids. Anytime there was a promotion similar to this, I resurrected my third daughter, Emily. Mind you, this was all back some time ago -- like around 20 years ago.

It was amazing how giving this information on a few innocent looking cards sent to businesses reverberated. Pretty soon, Emily received more mail than any of my real kids. Some of the mailings were a real hoot, such as her invitation to join something like "Outstanding Junior High School Students in America." Her invitation was purportedly based upon a "personal recommendation from her school's administrators" and was based upon her academic achievement and involvement in school activities. Well, I was sure a proud papa!

Over the years, the number of pieces of mail for Emily decreased to almost nothing. However, once every blue moon, we would get something for Emily.

After I finished my work day yesterday, I came home and stopped at the mailbox. I was surprised to see that my wife and I must have raised Emily right as she received a mailing from the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Tennessee. Apparently, Emily had contributed one or more times. That's my girl!

Does anyone else have a similar story, or am I the only cheap ass around?


Simon and Garfunkel's "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her"

Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Guy with Red Hair & Why Sometimes Poker Sucks Sucks SUCKS!

The Guy with Red Hair
Are any of you familiar with Chicago rocker Jim Peterik? Peterik was the lead vocalist (and writer) of the Ides of March oldie "Vehicle." He also was a founding member of the group Survivor and co-wrote its seminal hit "Eye of the Tiger." Forward to 2019, when Peterik occasionally plays with his old band, the Ides of March, and with a number of other Chicago  1960's bands in a concert called the Cornerstones of Rock. So why do I mention Jim Peterik? I have seen the Cornerstones concert and met Peterik afterward. This is what he looks like today:
So ... I was thinking. If Jim Peterik, 68, can do purple hair, why not me? I joked with the student workers and young staff of my department that I wanted to color my hair purple. Last week, a guy named Joseph showed me some hair wax he purchased in the Philippines. Red hair wax. At the end of work on Thursday, I quickly put some in my hair. After a few minutes of work in the bathroom, this is what it looked like:
I texted the picture to my kids and a few friends. Some of the comments I received:

My kids: Why?; wtf

My brother, thundering36, who saw the picture on Twitter: What the hell did you do to your hair

RobVegasPoker (several texts): WTF????; What's with the hair?; What's the deal? It's photoshopped, right?; Why would you dye your hair, and why that color? Male menopause?

PetePeters: The curtains don't match the stache!

I expected that my Twitter friends would be quite outspoken. I was not disappointed.

pokerluckbox: About time you quit dying your hair gray and letting the natural color come back.

Sandi Joy: Very nice new look.

Dan Vasti: You're gonna slay it...

Zorba: Is a Mohawk next.

Vegasfan1970: Dare we ask about carpet and drapes matching?

Rob G: Nice...lol.

Bill Tait: An amazing new look for the poker tables. The new colour is "Crushing Red." Looks great!!! Wishing you the best!!!

RobVegasPoker: Did Mike Ditka also dye his hair magenta?

My wife might have believed it was a legit coloring for a brief second, but she knows that wouldn't have been something I would do. The people in my department got a good laugh out of it. I even had some people at work hear about it, come to office for a look themselves, and even take a picture or two. All in all, the excursion into the world of red hair was a little fun for several people. Just want I hoped for.



Why Sometimes Poker Sucks Sucks SUCKS!
Occasionally on Saturdays, my wife signs up for jewelry making classes in Peoria, IL. The riverboat Par-A-Dice Casino is next door in East Peoria, so re go together. While my wife is having her fun in class, I am having fun pokering. This arrangement works out well.

She had a morning class and an afternoon class yesterday, so we left in the early morning. I got to the boat around 10:30a.m. Surprisingly, no game had started yet. I headed to play some slots and was doing quite well with Buffalo Grand, My Cousin Vinnie, Tarzan Grand and the Flintstones. At about 12;30pm, I heard my name and others called to the poker room. Finally, a game.

I only knew one of the players at the table. I wrote a post about the player - Ho - just over a year ago. Ho is actually a very good player - very aggressive and exceeding lucky. He almost always folds when I am the first person to raise in a hand. He seems to avoid playing against me, and this session was no different. I tried to play any hand I could when he was the initial raiser and I had something I could work with.

When I played at Harrah's Joliet last weekend, the first hand I was in I was dealt pocket fives. I hit a set on the flop and started my session with a big win. Believe it or not, the exact same thing happened this session at Par-A-Dice. I won a nice pot and in a short while I was up a couple hundred dollars.

Unfortunately, I ran into pocket Aces and butchered a hand or two and was down about $50 when I looked down to see pocket deuces. There was a $12 raise in front of me so I called. There was one other caller. The flop was a beauty: A-2-K rainbow! The initial raiser lead out for $18 (about half the pot), and I smooth called. The third guy in the hand folded. The pot was now about $72. I started the hand with about $250. The other player had me covered. The turn was a seven, putting two spades on the board. The initial raiser led out for $30. I raised to $80. He looked at me and pondered for a few seconds and announced "all in." I insta-called and he said "Oh oh." I turned over my pocket deuces and he turned over A-K -- top two pair. I was ready to scoop a nice pot of over $500 when the dealer burned a card and turned over the river -- a KING! the player who sucked out on me said an embarrassed "sorry" and a few other players sympathized with me. All I said was "What can you do?"

It was just about time to pick up my wife, so I decided to leave with the stinging loss and call it a day. Yes, even when you play a hand perfectly, this game still informs you who is really boss. Why do we love this game so much? Sometimes, like on Saturday, I wonder.

On a side note, my last post noted that I chopped a tournament at Sam's Town. I deposited a little money on America's Card Room and today played a small CardsChat money added (afterward) tournament. The results:
Hmmm ... maybe I do need to think about reviving my interest in playing tournaments.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 16, 2019

September 2019 Las Vegas Trip Highlights

My Las Vegas trip of September 1-6, 2019 was quite good.Certainly, it could not approach the horror of my last trip where I had few winning poker sessions, was sick most of the trip, lost a contact lens and generally had a poor trip. Some of the highlights of this last trip:

*Playing poker with friends, Part I. I met old buddy Arch at Wynn to play a little $1/$3. I've known Arch ever since he came to the 1st Annual TBC Memorial Meet Up a few years ago. Arch is a regular at Wynn, quite a clown, and a great poker player. I carved out a decent win for myself, but Arch crushed souls that afternoon!

* Playing poker with friends, Part II. On Wednesday, September 4, Las Vegas Mirage poker dealer and friend Kristi picked me up and drove me to Sam's Town, where we played in the 7pm donkathon with Flushhdraw and Luke Johnston. Unfortunately, due to the tournament and my going deep, I didn't get much time to socialize. A huge thanks to Kristi for waiting until the end of the tournament to drive me back to the Strip.

* Playing poker with friends, Part III. After Kristi dropped me off at Bally's late Wednesday night, I was at a table playing poker and saw some guy staring at me. I hadn't said or done anything to piss anyone off, so I was wondering what was up. He asked "Are you lightning?" I was pretty surprised. It turns out the the guy, Larry, was a long-time follower of my blog. I couldn't believe how much stuff that has happened over the past several years to me, TBC, Rob and others was remembered in great detail by Larry. I stepped away from the table for a bit to talk, and then Larry got seated next to me.
After playing for a decent period of time, I got up to use the rest room and was going to to then cash out since it was pretty late. When I got back to the table Larry was gone! He desperately needed to get to bed. It was great meeting you, Larry!

* Promos/bonuses. It may not always be very much, but I always get a charge of of winning money in poker promotions. I won $100 one night for having the high hand of the hour at Mirage (9s full of Aces), and was fortunate that my 7pm high hand held up. A better hand was noted at 8:01pm! I played at MGM the Thursday night of the Bears/Packers game and won a $50 high hand of the hour promo when I flopped the nut flush late in an hour where no one had hit a high hand.

* Poker Tournament. I had pretty much retired from live tournament play several years ago. I try to play one donkament each trip, and this trip it was again the Sam's Town Wednesday night tournament. Not only did I win the last longer bets I had with Kristi and Luke, but I actually was in the final four chop! As Kristi can tell you, I was pretty excited on the trip back to the Strip. I can't remember how long it has been since I cashed  in a live tournament. It gets me thinking ...

* Southwest seating. I took SWA this trip, which is my usual go-to airline. I was able to score my favorite seat (aisle seat, emergency row) both to and from Las Vegas! Not bad when coming on board with B15 in the seating order!

* Free/almost free rooms. My thanks to Boyd Gaming and bconnectedonline.com for the great room offers I received. I stayed at Gold Coast and Orleans and only paid for one night hotel plus one night resort fee. My closest poker room, the Par-A-Dice riverboat casino in East Peoria, IL, is a Boyd property, but they do not track time at the poker table, unfortunately. I do play some slots there, however, and recently stayed at another Boyd property in Indiana.

* Slot action. Speaking of slots ... I had pretty good luck this past trip. One session in particular was at Planet Hollywood. After getting felted one session (see previous post), I played a long session of Kitty Glitter and won back most of what I lost at the PH poker table. I just play slots to have a little fun, and it is sure nice when you actually win!

*Last but not least, poker action. After my horrendous trip in June, I was very happy to take home a tidy profit. The sockroll had been getting a tad sparse. When I go to Las Vegas, my itineraries usually consist of poker, slots, eating, and sleeping. Even noted gambling degenerate Pete P Peters questioned the amount of poker I was playing. My response: there is never enough poker!

My next trip to Las Vegas is likely to be the week of February 9. In the meantime, I have my local area casinos/poker rooms to visit (closest are 90 and 120 miles away) and charity poker games in the area (30 and 50 miles away) about every other weekend, but there might be room to squeeze in a road trip or two if I am lucky.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

What Would You Do? - Final Part

And now for the big reveal. Thanks for the comments I received. Years ago, I used to post a decent number of hand analysis posts, but I've gotten away from that over the years. so, without any further delay ...

#1
I bought into a $1/$2 NL game with $200. I often buy in for that amount while I am sizing up the table. Most people at the table have apparently been there for some time of have stacks around $500. The table captain is a somewhat large man with an accent that sound Jamaican to me. I had played at the same table with him at for a short time at Bally's in the past 24 hours. He was aggressive and a tad cocky. In the first orbit or two he had raised several times and blown people off hands. My thought was to trap him the first chance I got.

That chance came pretty quickly. I was in early position and looked down at A-Qos. I decided limp in to hide the strength of my hand. The villain, as expected, raised to $15. Everyone else folded, and I called. The flop provided a dry board of rag-Ace-rag. I decided to check. The villain then bet $30 - about a pot-sized bet. What would you do?

I usually am able to not let players get under my skin, but this villain did, for some reason. Something about his cockiness from the earlier time he played at my table and hearing his b.s. again just made me want to stick him good -- either felt him or make him back down. I can't really explain it -- maybe just the old competitive juices flowing from my younger days of playing sports. Looking back, I probably should have just called his $30 flop bet and then maybe looked to check raise all in after he bet after the turn. Instead, I monkey shoved my stack all in after his $30 post-flop bet. He thought for a short time and then called.

The result: I did not automatically reveal my cards after the turn and river. I was hoping to see the villain turn over something like A-J or A-10 since he did not insta-call my monkey shove. The villain then turned over his cards -- A-K! Crap - I know this guy had been betting with weak hands before. Of course, when he actually picks up a hand ... Ahhh, you know how that is. Having been felted by THAT guy, I just decided to pick up and leave and head toward Bally's.

#2
The two villains that are important to this hand are on the button and in early position. They each had stacks bigger than mine - maybe $400-$500.I was in late position with my customary $200 initial buy in. I lost a hand in my first orbit when I looked down to see the The Dreaded Pocket Kings! I raised to $15 and got two callers. The flop brought, of course, u see, an Ace. I placed a continuation bet . One player folded. The other called. I ended up losing about $40 to a villain who had A-J. Unfortunate. A few hands later, I was dealt A-Qos. The guy who beat me with A-J earlier raised to $15. I called. The button also called. Approximately $47 in the pot.The flop was rag-Q-rag with two spades. I either had one or no spades. I bet $25 and was called by the button. The guy who earlier had A-J raised to $60. What would you do?

In this hand, I felt like I was trapped. I had $135 left and the pot was already $157. I was feeling pretty confident that I was ahead of the initial raiser who had  re-raised me after my flop bet. I had no idea what the button might have had. If either had a spade draw, I wasn't going to play the hand like a wuss and have to make a decision after the turn in case a spade came. I wish I had isolated one player and didn't like it that there were two players in the hand. Using this information and then factoring in that this was likely my last poker session of the trip (and I was up for the trip, u see), I once again decided to monkey shove my remaining stack -- $135. The button thought for a short time and called. The player in early position waited a few seconds and announced that he was all in. The button tanked for a few minutes and then called.

The result: Neither player immediately turned over his cards. The turn paired the board, meaning that I had Queens Up with the top kicker. I was feeling pretty good until the river brought the third spade. At that point, I thought one of the two completed the flush. Surprisingly, neither did. However, my hopes of winning the hand were shattered when the button turned over his hand: A-A! The initial raiser mucked his cards so we have no idea what he had. I had put him on Queen-King earlier. I guess it is possible that he had K-K. I do not believe that he was bluffing or semi-bluffing. The button had him covered, so he immediately left the table. I, on the other hand, stayed a few minutes to watch the player  on the button stack his chips. He won a nice pot of around $1,150. I stayed at PH to give a Kitty Glitter  slot machine one last try, then headed back to the Orleans to get a little sleep before my morning flight home.

Thanks to all who read this and a special thanks to those who also commented on the blog or on Twitter.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

What Would You Do? - Part II


Thanks to everyone who responded to my question in the blog comments and those who responded on Twitter (Iron Mike Sharpe, Jim Hathaway and Jason Simon) to my tweet announcing the post

On my five night trip to Las Vegas, I played many hands of poker. So many, in fact, that quasi-professional VP button masher Pete P Peters texted me while in Las Vegas and chided me about the amount of poker I was playing this trip. Well ... he was generally correct. I love playing poker live and, at home, have to drive at 90 miles to get to the nearest legal poker room and more like 120 miles to get to a decent one. With this in mind, I try to get in as much bang for the buck as I can while in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, my memory isn't great and I rarely write down hand details. However, theses two hand stood out for a few reasons.

I generally feel pretty confident in my decisions, but in both cases, I had just entered into the game and, frankly, was probably not prepared to be making big decisions about my stack yet. The games were in Planet Hollywood, where I usually win. However, I seldom feel really comfortable in that poker room for some reason.

Anyway, here is what I was thinking and what I did.

#1
I bought into a $1/$2 NL game with $200. I often buy in for that amount while I am sizing up the table. Most people at the table have apparently been there for some time of have stacks around $500. The table captain is a somewhat large man with an accent that sound Jamaican to me. I had played at the same table with him at for a short time at Bally's in the past 24 hours. He was aggressive and a tad cocky. In the first orbit or two he had raised several times and blown people off hands. My thought was to trap him the first chance I got.

That chance came pretty quickly. I was in early position and looked down at A-Qos. I decided limp in to hide the strength of my hand. The villain, as expected, raised to $15. Everyone else folded, and I called. The flop provided a dry board of rag-Ace-rag. I decided to check. The villain then bet $30 - about a pot-sized bet. What would you do?

I usually am able to not let players get under my skin, but this villain did, for some reason. Something about his cockiness from the earlier time he played at my table and hearing his b.s. again just made me want to stick him good -- either felt him or make him back down. I can't really explain it -- maybe just the old competitive juices flowing from my younger days of playing sports. Looking back, I probably should have just called his $30 flop bet and then maybe looked to check raise all in after he bet after the turn. Instead, I monkey shoved my stack all in after his $30 post-flop bet. He thought for a short time and then called.

So ... what do you think he had and how did the hand turn out?

#2
The two villains that are important to this hand are on the button and in early position. They each had stacks bigger than mine - maybe $400-$500.I was in late position with my customary $200 initial buy in. I lost a hand in my first orbit when I looked down to see the The Dreaded Pocket Kings! I raised to $15 and got two callers. The flop brought, of course, u see, an Ace. I placed a continuation bet . One player folded. The other called. I ended up losing about $40 to a villain who had A-J. Unfortunate. A few hands later, I was dealt A-Qos. The guy who beat me with A-J earlier raised to $15. I called. The button also called. Approximately $47 in the pot.The flop was rag-Q-rag with two spades. I either had one or no spades. I bet $25 and was called by the button. The guy who earlier had A-J raised to $60. What would you do?

In this hand, I felt like I was trapped. I had $135 left and the pot was already $157. I was feeling pretty confident that I was ahead of the initial raiser who had  re-raised me after my flop bet. I had no idea what the button might have had. If either had a spade draw, I wasn't going to play the hand like a wuss and have to make a decision after the turn in case a spade came. I wish I had isolated one player and didn't like it that there were two players in the hand. Using this information and then factoring in that this was likely my last poker session of the trip (and I was up for the trip, u see), I once again decided to monkey shove my remaining stack -- $135. The button thought for a short time and called. The player in early position waited a few seconds and announced that he was all in. The button tanked for a few minutes and then called.

So ... what do you think the initial raiser had? How about the button? And -- how did the hand turn out?

I'll give a day or so for responses (I'm heading to Chicago for a funeral Wednesday morning) before I let you know the results of these hands.

Thanks for reading!