Monday, September 29, 2008

Ramirez's Grand Slam Paves Way as Sox Force Tiebreaker with Twins

Yes, believe it or not, the White Sox live for another day as they play the Twins in game 163 of the season. The victor wins the division and gets to play the Tampa Bay Rays in the playoffs.

The White Sox won in typical fashion tonight, breaking the game open with a grand slam by Alexi Ramirez in the sixth inning. It was grand slam number four this season by the wiry infielder, both a MLB rookie and a White Sox team record. The Sox live and die by the home run.

I was ready with my laptop and snagged a ticket for the winner-take-all match tomorrow as soon as they were available online.

Fellow gamblers, my suggestion for Tuesday's game: Bet on black.

Friday, September 26, 2008

White Sox in second after losing in 10th
Twins take first when Jenks gives up game-winner in extras
Yeah -- great headlines, eh? The White Sox completely blew their chance to wrap up their division by getting swept on the road at Minnesota. They certainly looked sick in the first game, getting clobbered 9-3. Mark Buehrle came up with a good pitching effort in the second game, but a lack of hitting in the three, four, and five spots (1-11) sealed their fate in a 3-2 loss. They had a 6-1 lead in the final game, only to lose 7-6 in ten innings.
The Sox finish this weekend with three home games against the weak Cleveland Indians. The Twins finish with three at home against the Royals. The Twins currently are one up in the win column for a 1/2 game lead.
If necessary, the Sox will play a make-up game with Detroit on Monday. If the Sox and Twins are then tied after that game, they will play a one-game playoff at US Cellular Field on Tuesday to determine the division winner. The other team will go home.
Can they do it? Well ... they can, but I am betting they won't. They have some good pitchers and some good sluggers, but they just haven't won when they have needed to this season, particularly toward the end. Even if they make in in the playoffs, they are probably going to go down rather quickly in the first round.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cubbies Come Through
The White Sox magic number is now down to 6 even though they have been playing some terrible baseball. Fortunately, the Minnesota Twins have been just as bad. It looks like the Sox will limp in as division champs, but the Twins have one last series against the Sox to steal it away.
As for post season, it is difficult to see the Sox going deep unless they hit one of their torrid streaks. Danks and Floyd have provided solid pitching all year and Buehrle has 14 wins, but they need to come up big time in the playoffs -- if the Sox get there. The Sox have been streaky in hitting, although their power-packed lineup can bust any game wide open at any time.
The Cubs, on the other hand, are built to go deep. They have the best and deepest pitching staff in baseball and are solid at every position. The only thing they seem to be missing is a really big left-handed bat in the lineup. They are, in my opinion, the best team in baseball. They SHOULD go to the World Series, but these are the Cubs, you know. My prediction is that the Cubs will play in the World series this year. If so, major props go to the Cubs management, which really put together a great team, and Lou Piniella, the perfect manager for this particular team.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Just having a little fun donking around at PokerStars. It is amazing how playing low limits against poor competition makes makes your ROI zoom ... he he.

Friday, September 12, 2008

My Greatest Catch - A Fishing/Life Story
My family was not exactly the type that would buy Field & Stream or Outdoor Life magazines. No family members except a brother-in-law had ever gone hunting. Fishing was something you did at the local pond with a bamboo pole, a bobber, and a worm. So when the opportunity came up to take a week-long fishing trip in Canada with my father-in-law and several of my wife's relatives, I was both excited and scared. Doing a week at Lake of the Woods in Nestors Falls, Ontario with a bunch of guys sounded like a great time. However, I knew I would be the worst fisherman out there, and would have to be taught a number of different strategies and techniques. The trip ended up being great, and the annual fishing trip was something I looked forward to.

A year after my father-in-law passed away, I went on the trip with my wife's cousin, Tim, and my wife's Uncle Don. Tim and Don were hard core fishermen, as evidenced by one trip where we spent over 70 hours on the water in one week. Tim and Don taught me about 50% of what I knew about fishing.

One afternoon, I got one hell of a yank on my line. The fish was obviously a monster, and smart too, as he tried to get away under the boat. Tim and Don later said that they couldn't believe that my fishing pole didn't break as it was bent in a U-shape when the fish ran under the boat. After much struggling and fighting, I landed the sucker. I was hoping that I had caught my first muskie, but instead it was a huge northern pike. Yes -- I was so damn proud of myself.

I couldn't wait to get back to shore. The plan was to bring in the boat and I would fix dinner while Tim and Don went to the tavern up the road to call home and check in with their wives. Of course, as I was cooking, there was a spring in my step. I kept thinking that life just didn't get much better than it was that day.

Tim and Don would usually be back right away, but this time it was taking them forever to return. It was dark outside and the dinner was beginning to get cold, so I began to think that I might need to go down to the tavern and see what was holding them up. Before I could get out the door, they came back in with grim looks on their faces.

I wish I could go into detail about the length and weight of my greatest catch, but the details were lost in the events of that day.

September 11, 2001.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

King of the Crap Cards ... At Least for a Night

Las Vegas Trip Report -- Sept 1-5, 2008
I wish I could report that I really just killed it in Las Vegas, but that was not the case this trip. A run of bad cards and a lot of bad luck made this a trip to forget.

MGM Grand
The first two days of the trip were mostly spent playing at MGM since that was where we were staying. I had never stayed at MGM before, and I liked the room and the whole experience. It sure was nice just being able to go up an elevator to my room after a long night at the table.

The play at MGM was typical -- some good play, some bad. For the most part, I was card dead. I played few hands, but made the good ones count. As best as I can remember, I ended up ahead around $100.

I also played in an MGM tournament for the first time. I got no cards the first hour, so I had to play short stack poker to survive. I saw some truly amazing lucksack plays, but the play overall was not bad. I finally petered out in 13th place out of about 60 when I was forced to go all in with A-6. I was up against 10-10 and Q-J, so at least I had live cards. However, a 10 on the flop and a 10 on the turn ended any hope I had of vaulting to the final table.

Yes, I can now report on the electronic Pokertek Pokerpro tables being used at Excalibur. Unequivocally, I hated them! To tell the truth, I am not the biggest fan of online poker. I really prefer to be in a game in person, watching the dealer shuffle and deal the cards, flinging chips with my own hands, reading other players in person. The Pokerpro tables seemed to me to be sort of a hybrid of b&m and online poker. It seemed funny shielding your electronic hole cards with your hands. Unfortunately, I played some $2/$4 limit, so it was time for total donkdom with guys chasing to the river ... and hitting; playing crap hands ... and hitting; staying in hands they had no business being in ... and hitting. Very frustrating.

So no -- do not count me among the people who liked playing at the Pokerpro tables. If I am going to be playing poker electronically, I would prefer to be laying in my bed with my laptop. I am so sad to see that Excalibur has gone this route. So many of us broke our Las Vegas poker cherry at Excalibur. Now I have no reason to return.

Mandalay Bay
I decided on a whim to play at Mandalay Bay. I had not played there for several years. There is nothing distinctive nor remarkable about this room. It was okay -- nothing too good, nothing too bad. I don't think I will go back there for some time again.

Imperial Palace
Ah ... the Imperial Palace. The last time I played there, the players were donkerific and the management was rude. I was lectured on what a dummy I was since I did not know how they monitored playing time. After such rudeness, I vowed not to play there again. However, after reading so many good things about IP poker in blogs and chat rooms, I decided to give it another chance. I was not disappointed.

I was fortunate to be seated with some folks from the UK. They were good poker players and made for an enjoyable evening. I was later moved to a table with a bunch of young guys from Finland. Once again, I had a great time. I decided to go back the next day -- an unfortunate decision for me.

The next day, I was at a table with a guy who had a little too much to drink -- and was sucking out against everyone. I made a error in playing a big hand and let him grab a chunk of my stack -- which he donked away, of course. Then came the big hand against another player. I was in the big blind, and a seeming tight player raised. Several others called, so pot odds dictated a call with 7-6os. The flop: 8-10-9 with two clubs. The original raiser raised to $50 and the other players bailed. Figuring that he was protecting a big pocket pair against a flush or straight draw. I re-raised to $100. He then went all in and I called. Son of a gun -- he had the only hand that he might have raised with that could beat me: J-Q. He took my stack, and I decided to lick my wounds somewhere else.

But ... gee, I had a great time at the IP. The players were all having fun, and the fun included a round or two of group shots. I will definitely go back on my next trip to Las Vegas.

For a few years, Ballys has been my number one spot in Las Vegas. The atmosphere is usually relaxed, the dealers are okay, the bar is only a few feet away, and there are enough donkeys playing to make for some big nights if the cards fall your way.

In short, the cards didn't fall my way. I was card dead much of the time there, and the poker actually got quite boring. My last night, I decided to pack it in a little early (around 2:00 am). I went to the nickle slots to unwind, and suddenly turned $5 into $365! I bailed out when the total dropped to $300, and yes, I decided to go one more round of poker.

I sat at a table with a handful of pretty good players. I couldn't make a set with my pocket pairs, and my high cards rarely seemed to get smacked by the flop. A few people left and we joined a new table. This one woman had been kicking my butt on a few hands, and I was looking for the chance to grab her stack. It finally happened.

I was dealt 9-9 in the big blind. My nemesis raised, and got a few callers. I called. The flop was 8-9-rag. I knew the woman would bet her hand, so I checked. She led out for $25. One person called, and I re-raised to $100. Much to my surprise, she called (the other player folded). I guess she wasn't giving me much credit for having a big hand. The turn was a 10, and I went all in with my remaining stack. She called. The river was a rag. I turned over my cards to reveal my set of 9's. She turned over hers to reveal a set of 10's. I yelled out a juicy profanity, and she said "I called your raise because I had an over pair." I said "Nice hand -- I was just angry at the result" and went to bed.

And that was how I rolled this trip.

I went back home, and my first night back I made $500 on Full Tilt's $1/$2 NL tables. Is this a wacky game or what?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Nightmare Over -- House Sold
Yes -- it finally happened. The buyer in my house sale came back from Las Vegas and completed the sale. I was in Las Vegas at the time, so my wife took care of signing all the papers, which was probably a good thing. I was not sure if I could have been civil after the buyer's lame last-minute wavering on the purchase.

So ... outside of paying a couple of final utility bills, I am done! Although I had to make some financial adjustments due to the 13 months the house was on the market and the lower-than-anticipated selling price, it sure feels good to be out from under it. Thank goodness that my wife and I both have good jobs and could absorb the costs. On the other hand, we did sell the house for over 40% more than we paid for it, so I guess things could have been worse. At least the nightmare is over.