Monday, September 26, 2022

Back (again) to Las Vegas

It is so nice to be closer to Las Vegas than in the days of my living in Illinois. This trip, I am trying a few new things. I, a person who usually packs too much for trips, am trying to get by with a backpack only this trip in order to avoid paying baggage costs. I usually fly Southwest, but decided to take advantage of an extremely cheap round trip flight offer from Frontier. I've never flown Frontier before, but unless the flight is canceled or leaves extremely late, I can't imagine it could be too horrible since the flight lasts just over an hour.

Another first for this trip is that I will be staying at Park MGM for the first time. According to my brother, the King of Komps, we were going to stay there once when it was the Monte Carlo, but we switched to a better offer at Aladdin -- which shows you that this was some time ago. 

I have no set plans for this trip yet but hope to get in plenty of cash game poker action and see some friends. So ... onward and upward!

I hope to have a good trip report after the week is over.

Thanks for reading. πŸ˜€

Friday, September 02, 2022

Heater City: Las Vegas Trip Report: August 28-31, 2022

Day 1: Sunday, Aug 28
I don't believe I talked too much (or at all) about it, but earlier this year I had a horrendous April -- probably the worst month for poker I've ever had. It was followed by a bad May and a terrible June. Needless to say, I was extremely frustrated, upset, angry, etc. The nadir came on Saturday, August 6 at Talking Stick Resort (Scottsdale, AZ) $2-3 NL when I got an aggro fool to double me up when I hit a set, then was prepared to have him double me again when I flopped two pair. I played him perfectly, getting him to push all in after the flop with only a gutshot draw. The turn and the river looked innocent as I flipped over my cards, prepared to gather in the $900-$1000 pot. I was horrified to see that the aggro donk hit his gutshot on the river, scooping that sweet pot instead of me. The people at the table were shocked when they saw what had happened. Several looked at me with sympathetic eyes as we have all been there before. I think I said something like "I'd say 'good hand' but it wasn't" and left the table. I texted my wife that my spirit had been broken. I trust that most poker players know that feeling.

Despite my broken poker heart (πŸ˜€), I decided to get back on the horse the next night. I won back more than I lost the previous day, so I felt better. What happened after that was totally unexpected. With the exception of a short one hour session in which I was forced to cash out in order to go to another table -- and lost $53 -- I won at my next ten sessions in a row! I was then scheduled to go to Las Vegas August 28-31, a trip I made because plane fare was so unbelievably cheap. I didn't want to disturb my heater, but decided that I might as well see if my streak would continue in Las Vegas.

It wasn't bad leaving the house in the dark for an early morning flight. I got my favorite seat (Southwest Airlines) for the flight out to Las Vegas, so things seemed to get off to a good start. The flights from Phoenix to Las Vegas are generally about an hour and five minutes gate to gate. I got in shortly after 8am and arranged to meet poker friend @ZetusLarry at the baggage check. We Ubered to get Larry's car at the Rio, then headed to breakfast at Mr Mamas Breakfast and Lunch, a place I heard and read good things about. Verdict: Excellent place for breakfast. Great quick, friendly service, reasonable prices and excellent food. Now it was time for poker!

My first session was at Wynn. Larry and I were initially seated at different tables. I had some unfortunate luck with mine, including losing smaller straight to larger straight. I lost about half my stack, then lost the rest when my trip Aces with Queen kicker lost to a boat. I rebought and ended up $400 down. Fortunately, I turtled up, grew the stack, then pounced on some great hands. I ended up with my second highest profit on the trip. Great start!

We decided to take a break and maybe a little nap time since we were both up so early. Later in the evening, we drove out to Red Rock. It seems like we have a small tradition of playing there at least once each trip. After a moderate wait, we were seated at a $1/2 table. Unfortunately for all of us but especially me, the guy in seat 8 was hitting everything. Once I raised to $12 with pocket Jacks and he called. The flop looked great: 3-4-6. I led out for $30. He then re-raised me to $130! Obviously, I folded. He showed 5-2. It was the second straight he flopped playing junk because he was so hot. No matter what I did. I couldn't seem to win a hand. I quit for the night after losing a buy in. It just didn't feel like it was my night at Red Rock. However, I was still up because of the great session at Wynn, so I guess there was that. It was onward to tomorrow!

Day 2: Mon, Aug 29
Larry and I slept in after our Red Rock night session and decided to have the lunch buffet at South Point, then a little pokering there. I got back on the winning track, and we kept the session relatively short as we both wanted to get back to the Strip. However, the highlight of the session was meeting  @VegasGregin, whom I knew from Twitter.
Thanks for stopping by to meet me, sir. Good luck hunting down elusive sports cards. πŸ˜€

Our next stop was Larry's regular room, Caesars Palace. Caesars had been good to me earlier in the year and this session was no different. My big break came when I had pocket Queens on the button, stack about $300. There was a straddle (about $600 stack), and I raised to $30. He called. The flop was uncoordinated and low. The villain bet $50 and I shoved all in. He thought for a bit and called -- with pocket sixes! He got no help on the turn or river. Yea! I won some other hands, but none as big as that one. We again played a relatively short time and decided to take a break. Larry decided to call it quits for poker for the day, so later on I ventured down to the Venetian near the end of the day's high hand promotion. I have played at Venetian several times, and it seemed to me that the room tended to be populated by people with, shall we say, crappy attitudes. My table was surprisingly different. People at the other end of the table were pretty  friendly with each other and didn't have huge stacks. In fact, I was shocked at how poorly most of the players at this table played. They seemed to call down anything and had close to nothing at showdown. Fortunately for me, I was at the top of my game and, better yet, was a card rack this session. I felted three players and won a ton of hands. Eventually another table was merged with ours, and it seemed like the magic was gone, so I cashed out with my biggest profit on the trip. Things were certainly looking good about halfway through my trip.

Day 3: Tues, Aug 30
After a late morning breakfast, Larry and I decided to head to Bally's. I considered playing a Bally's donkament, but we decided to play cash games instead.

A history lesson: Many years ago, Bally's was my Las Vegas home. I couldn't seem to lose there --  Royal Flushes, big pots, easy wins. Then things changed and it seemed that I could no longer win there. I entered the now-moved poker room with some degree of trepidation. Almost like old times, I got pocket Aces four times  in two hours. Unfortunately, two of them resulted in noone calling my standard raise. I did get paid a little once when a guy with a huge stack and on the button decided to raise my $15 bet (stack about $250) to $51. I re-raised him to $130. He tanked for some time before deciding to fold. He seemed solid, and I was hoping he had a hand like K-K.

A new guy sat down at the table and proceeded to donk off around $1,000 - $1,200 in a short time. Unfortunately, I was not able to grab more than a few redbirds from him. I did, however, suck out on my friend Larry when he flopped a set and I rivered a flush. Oops! However, I gracefully accepted my gift and chalked up another winning session.

We cashed out and decided to go to MGM. There was no way that I was going to put in the type of hours needed to get a payday in their current promotion, so I was hoping to hit and run. The table Larry and I were seated at was pretty lose and aggressive. I bought in at a low $200 and figured that I would play snug and wait for a premium hand before risking too much, It finally came when I was deal Q-Q. I raised to $30 (this was a $1/2 game with ability to buy in as big as the biggest stack). I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to see three callers. The flop was a rainbow of cards below ten. I was afraid of straight possibilities. I raised to $70, and the somewhat donkish player on my left called. I only had about $100 left behind me, so I called. Unfortunately for him, I once again sucked out and hit runner runner flush to beat his flopped two pair. With profit in hand and not have any fun at this particular table, I decided to take the money and run. Larry, who had been having some bad luck outside of my suckout earlier that day, turned a set of Kings and cashed out a nice stack. We both left happy.

For my final session that day, I headed out to Resorts World to avenge my last session there, a losing session on my last visit to Las Vegas. I was able to be seated at the same table as poker friend and former Chicago guy @Vegas724, Norm in Vegas. Norm and I had just played together recently at Talking Stick when he visited the Scottsdale area. We always have a great time talking Chicago stuff, especially sports. 
As with most of my sessions on this trip, I played pretty good poker and was able to book yet another win. I decided to head back to the Strip and celebrate with some fun slots. This was my last night in Las Vegas and I didn't want to stay out too late. I needed at least some sleep to attack the poker tables on Wednesday since my flight back home wasn't leaving until 8:45 Wednesday evening.

Day 4: Wed, Aug 31
After checking out of Harrah's and eating a late breakfast, I decided to head to Bellagio, a room I have rarely visited. It seems like I always have to wait a long time to get seated there, but this particular day wasn't as bad as some others when I left in frustration. In the past, I chafed at the rude employees, tight space in the room, and the general sour demeanor of many players. This time, however, the room was nothing like that, Kudos to the brush, who got me seated and then immediately moved to a table that was just started. In doing so, I was able to play with an old acquaintance, @fullhouse538, Bob C. There was plenty of space in the room and our end of the table was pretty friendly. Bob was sitting next to a woman named Grace who seemed to take a liking to him. πŸ˜„Grace liked to talk, and she seemed particularly animated since she started the game on a heater. She got a little quiet when a couple of us put the hurt on her. I was the first. I was on the button with A-10. Unfortunately, I don't remember the action at the beginning of a hand. I think there was a raise with a few callers. The flop was rainbow 9-J-Q. Next it checked all around or there was a small raise with callers. I was hoping for some magic and it came: a King, giving me the nuts. I was hoping that someone had a ten. Action was on Grace and she raised to $40. Since Grace had been running everyone over and seemed to be getting a tad cocky, I decided to shove for $240. Just as I hoped, Grace had a ten. She tanked for quite some time. I tried to give my "I'm a little anxious, but not overacting" anxious look. Since she had been running hot, I was guessing she wasn't going to let me get away with a possible steal. She called. The river was meaningless, and she seemed shocked to see that the hand had cost her a good chunk of money. She had another big loss from someone else, was eventually felted and left. Bob, who had been playing very well and ran into a tough hand, left a short while later. With some time left before my flight, what should I do?

I decided to do the fun thing: go to another poker room I hadn't been to this trip -- Aria. I walked and took the tram to get there and was relieved that the list was not too long. A new table was started, and soon we were sizing each other up. A young international guy in seat 8 was being pretty aggressive and seat 1 seemed to be a bluffer. The rest of the table seemed pretty tight. My big break came when I was dealt Q-Q. Seat one had already opened to $15, and I raised to $40. He called . The flop was rag-K-rag. Crap. Dang King! He checked and I bet $100. He called. The turn was an Ace. He checked. I felt like I had no other move than to push my final $100+ in immediately and say "all in." He insta-mucked and I breathed a sigh of relief. I hung around as long as I could while still having time to walk and take the tram to get back to Harrah's. I decided to stop at the LINQ and celebrate:
There were no problems with getting to the airport, the flight, or my ride back home.

There were some definite things to note about this short trip:
1) Money-wise, it was my most successful poker trip to Las Vegas.
2) My reason to end the trip playing at Aria was that I was hoping I could say this: I played one session at every poker room on the Strip from MGM to Resorts World and WON AT EACH OF THEM! Yes - I  played at eight and won at eight. My other two sessions were at South Point (win) and my only loss was at Red Rock. This trip, I won at NINE OF THE TEN SESSIONS I PLAYED.
3) Since my heater began earlier in the month after the heartbreak I previously mentioned in this post, outside of a $53 dollar loss I took to finagle my way to a table change, I have now won 19 OF THE LAST 20 POKER SESSIONS I HAVE PLAYED!  $$$$$$

Obviously, this short trip qualifies as one of my favorites. It was a pleasure to meet @VegasGregin, to play again with my buddy Norm, and to reconnect with Bob C. And a ton of thanks to my buddy Larry, who generously carted my butt from place to place for some of the trip and shared his free drink tickets at Caesars properties with me, as well as being just a fun guy to hang out with.

August is now over. What will September bring? I can't wait to find out.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Out With the Old: Say Goodbye to the Arena Poker Room at Talking Stick Resort

In poker, casino gambling and, I guess, life in general, the old saying "The Only Constant Thing is Change" is true. This currently applies to poker at the Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. I had been told that the last major move was in 2010 when Arena Poker Room moved into the space in the west side of the resort. However, today there is no poker as everything is being moved to a temporary home.

I had heard talk about the move for some time, mostly from the poker dealers at The Stick. Last Sunday, July 31, the room officially closed at midnight. The last promo dollars were given out at 10:00 p.m. and poker stopped being dealt at 10:30pm. Almost immediately, supplies began to be packed up and tables were already on the move.

One dealer told me that the vacated area will house a sports book/betting area that will also have electronic games, but that report in unconfirmed. The gambling area outside the just closed poker room gets quite crowded on weekends, so moving things like the craps and roulette tables there might not be a bad idea.

The end result is supposed to be that in two years, a new building will have been built and will open, featuring a new poker room. This new building will apparently be located just off when the Arena room was located. In the meantime, everyone had been told that things would be set up in a huge tent.

What? A tent in place of what had been the premier poker room in Arizona? Well ... I guess my idea of a tent is not quite the same as the Talking Stick people. I envisioned what a traveling carnival might set up. Instead, this is the "tent" where things are being set up today - in the area just beyond valet parking:
Some tent, huh?

People who had been through the last move have told me that I won't even realize that I am in a tent. It seems like they should have used a different term like "temporary building" instead.

Poker is set to resume at Talking Stick Wednesday morning around 3:00 or 4:00a.m. We have been told that the new poker room/building is scheduled to be ready in two years. With all the supply chain issues Arizona and much of the United States experienced since COVID began, I think my friend, Sheila (@Z0oo0ks) had it right by saying "Over under on it finishing in 2 years? I totally take the over on that."

Thanks for reading. πŸ˜€

Friday, June 17, 2022

Giant Photo Dump: Video Poker Porn, Brian Wilson, Chicago, Koala Pete Visit, Red Rock Canyon and Blogger Meet Up Game


How sweet this one was. I will always accept 20,000 nickels. 

Four more Aces
And to prove that I don't discriminate, four jacks.
Brian Wilson. He looked like he never should have been on stage that night.
Al Jardine's son, Matt, who sings the old Brian Wilson falsetto parts now ... and quite well.
Al Jardine
The supporting band at the end of the show. They are quite good.

A little Chicago
Robert Lamm
Brass section: Jimmy Pankow, Ray Herrmann, Lee Loughnane

Koala Pete was a bundle of energy!
Two spoiled dogs, Pete and blog hero. That big cactus is in my back yard.
Koala Pete, Mrs. lightning36 and yours truly

Red Rock Canyon: Koala Pete, me, Josie and Gary
Pete and VJ
Gary and VJ
From meet up game: Joseph, Luke, VeryJosie, me Mr. Ben and Rob
Also from meet up game: Sahara dealer Michael, Gary, Koala Pete, VeryJosie and Mr. Subliminal
Memorial Day lunch with Rob and Koala Pete

Monday, May 16, 2022

Reminder: May 30: A Poker Blogger Meet Up Game in Las Vegas for Current/Former Poker Bloggers and Readers

Just a quick post to remind people that a meet up $1/$2 NL game (and social gathering for people who will not be playing poker) for current and former poker bloggers and readers is scheduled for two weeks from today -- Monday, May 30 at 6:00pm at the Sahara Las Vegas poker room. If you'd like to get on the list to play, please leave a comment on this blog or send me a private message on Twitter.

The following list is complete as far as I know. The names are in the order that I found out that people planned to play in the game. Some people mentioned they would go in Twitter posts or other places. I grabbed every notice that I saw, but there may have been some that I missed if people didn't contact me the way I previously requested. The list as of Monday, May 23 at 9:00am MST:

  1. @lightning36
  2. @Koalapete
  3. @VeryJosie
  4. The Crafty Southpaw
  5. @LuukeJohnston
  6. @Robvegaspoker
  7. @grrouchie
  8. @mrben09
  9. @PhillyB322
  10. @ZetusLarry
  11. @Vegas724
  12. @Subliminal_Mr
  13. @Hockey_Poker
  14. @fuzzyzilla_art
  15. @dappoker
  16. @VegasGregin
  17. @Abramski_C
  18. @Onechiquita
  19. @Frisco1666
Some people are "maybes" and some people have already informed me that they likely will be late. I am hoping that with this list (and possibly some additions) that we can get at least two tables going to start. There is still room for more on the list. Once the list is depleted, seats will be open to anyone coming to Sahara that night.

Please contact me if you have any questions. It should be a fun evening.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 29, 2022

Announcing: A Poker Blogger Meet Up Game in Las Vegas for Current/Former Poker Bloggers and Readers

If you have never been here before, welcome to the lightning36 poker and life blog: Lightning Strikes -- celebrating 16+ years of whining, crying, and bellyaching. πŸ˜€

Some things just begin and grow organically. Old Aussie poker buddy Koala Pete informed me that he would be visiting Las Vegas for about a month beginning in late May. I arranged a trip to coincide with Pete's visit. Another old blogger friend, VeryJosie, heard the news and made trip plans along with another old friend, Gary - the Crafty Southpaw. Once we had several people committed to being in Las Vegas, and thinking back to the recent "drunken poker" gathering that I had gone to, I decided to set up a game for poker bloggers, former poker bloggers and readers.

To go back more than a few years ... Shortly after online poker player Chris Moneymaker's WSOP Main Event victory in 2003, poker exploded across the country and, in fact, much of the world. The number of people who blogged about poker exploded as well. It was common for groups of bloggers to form their own social groups and play private online tournaments together. There were live gatherings in Las Vegas and a few other venues in the US and Canada. It was a great time to be playing online poker and blogging!

Black Friday, April 15, 2011, proved to offer substantial damage to poker as the US government went after some major poker sites and related businesses. Poker blogging declined as most online options were closed to United States residents.

As poker started an upswing several years later, blogging was no longer the in thing. Now, poker vloggers gained in numbers and popularity and podcasts were the way to go. Bloggers became like dinosaurs, disappearing off the cyberworld. Unlike dinosaurs, however, there are still a few poker bloggers around.

The idea of the meet up game is to have fun, share old stories, unite old friends, and talk with the people who wrote blogs, commented on them or just read them for enjoyment. So ... a few details ...

Poker Bloggers Game - for current/former poker bloggers, readers and friends

Monday, May 30, 2022 beginning at 6:00pm at the Sahara Las Vegas poker room

Games will be $1/2 NL. We might throw in a few wacky things like bomb pots or collecting a buck or two from other players at the table if you successfully "drop the hammer" (win a hand with 7-2os). The object is to HAVE FUN!

Players who are already scheduled to play (Twitter names) include:








So ... and this is REALLY IMPORTANT ... in order to make things run smoothly, there will be a list for playing that will be maintained by me. If you'd like to get on the list, please leave your name in a comment on this post or PM me on Twitter. It would be nice to fill up a few tables. We are already well on our way a month before the event.

If you have any questions about the meet up game, please leave a comment or PM me.

Thanks for reading! 😁

Monday, April 25, 2022

Famous Sites in Popular Music -- Part Three: Carefree Highway by Gordon Lightfoot

One of the advantages of having a blog for so long is being able to publish a series of posts over time. Despite some good intentions, I have not followed up on my series of Famous Sites in Popular Music for over 11 years. The first two installments:

Famous Sites in Popular Music -- Part One Dan Fogelberg: Same Old Lang Syne

Famous Sites in Popular Music -- Part Two: The Day the Music Died

But today ... FINALLY, Part Three!

Wikipedia states:

The title comes from a section of Arizona State Route 74 in north Phoenix. Said Lightfoot, "I thought it would make a good title for a song. I wrote it down, put it in my suitcase and it stayed there for eight months." The song employs "Carefree Highway" as a metaphor for the state of mind where the singer seeks escape from his ruminations over a long ago failed affair with a woman named Ann. Lightfoot has stated that Ann actually was the name of a woman Lightfoot romanced when he was age 22: "It [was] one of those situations where you meet that one woman who knocks you out and then leaves you standing there and says she's on her way." states:

Carefree Highway, by Gordon Lightfoot, is one of his most famous songs. Lightfoot wrote Carefree Highway in a rental car, inspired by the sign for the Arizona highway. Lightfoot placed the paper with the lyrics in the glove compartment, and almost left it there! Carefree Highway reached #10 on the billboard charts.

Carefree Highway is a part of Arizona State Route 74, but now also extends beyond SR 74 for several more miles. It is close to a town actually named Carefree.

Before I moved to Arizona, I was actually not even aware that the name of the song was Carefree Highway. With Gordon Lightfoot's unique voice, I perceived the title of the song to be "Every Highway." Learn something new every day!

Carefree Highway

Picking up the pieces of my sweet shattered dream
I wonder how the old folks are tonight
Her name was Ann and I'll be damned if I recall her face 
She left me not knowing what to do 

Carefree highway, let me slip away on you 
Carefree highway, you seen better days 
The morning after blues from my head down to my shoes 
Carefree highway, let me slip away, slip away on you 

Turning back the pages to the times I love best 
I wonder if she'll ever do the same 
Now the thing that I call living is just being satisfied 
With knowing I got no one left to blame 

Carefree highway, I got to see you my old flame 
Carefree highway, you seen better days 
The morning after blues from my head down to my shoes 
Carefree highway, let me slip away, slip away on you 

Searching through the fragments of my dream shattered sleep 
I wonder if the years have closed her mind 
I guess it must be wanderlust or trying to get free 
From the good old faithful feeling we once knew 

Carefree highway, let me slip away on you 
Carefree highway, you seen better days 
The morning after blues from my head down to my shoes 
Carefree highway, let me slip away, slip away on you 
Let me slip away on you 
Carefree highway, I got to see you my old flame 
Carefree highway, you seen better days 
The morning after blues from my head down to my shoes 
Carefree highway, let me slip away, slip away on you

Thanks for reading!