Saturday, February 27, 2010

Nocturnal Poker Ramblings
Lately I have been playing a little $.25/$.50 no limit poker just to pass the time. Those low limit tables are often infested by the roaches of the poker world -- the short stack demons. You know them -- they buy in for a minimal amount, wait for an opportunity, then move all in. If they are lucky and double up, it is not unusual to see them try to rathole their winnings. If they lose, they whine about it ... and whine about it ... and whine about it.

Now, I may stink at online cash games, but at least I make sure my losses don't hurt and I don't berate the other players when they catch a lucky card -- or two -- and bust me. I must confess, though, that there is nothing like felting a shortie -- especially on the river or by going runner-runner. Then the fun begins. My -- what creative vocabularies these cry babies have! After all, they most often seem to not understand one of the basic laws of poker: sometimes you do everything right and still lose. The key, we all know, is getting your money "in good." If you do it consistently, you should be a winner, which is why playing poker is clearly a game of skill. It is the luck factor, though, that drives us crazy ...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Returning to a Place of Long Ago
I feel like a visitor in a strange country. I haven't taken any psychedelic drugs (not that I ever would), yet my senses are hightened -- at least one. Tonight seems very strange.

Both my father and his mother had hearing problems, so I imagine that my hearing difficulties are part hereditary. My dad, however, also worked in loud environments for a number of years -- a partial contributer to his loss, I'm sure.

I can't really say when my problems began or how much the environment played a part. I don't think that I was any more of a headbanger than the average young guy -- lots of loud music, great concerts, etc. However, I did notice a slight loss in early adulthood, but the loss didn't seem to cause me much trouble.

Back during the Bill Clinton years I noticed a dropoff in my hearing and had an audiogram. I was not surprised to find that I had borderline hearing loss, especially at the high ranges. However, the options at that time were not great, so I elected to leave things as they were.

Over the past few years I noticed more hearing loss and began to have increasing difficulty following simple conversations. Being a typical male, I kept putting things off, putting things off (no guys ever WANT to see a doctor, right?). But ... I made a pledge to myself that I would face some medical issues in 2010 that I had been delaying for several years.

I've been spending the past several weeks taking care of these issues, my hearing loss among them. Today I received two hearing aids and am in the process of getting used to them. It has been a strange day.

I was standing in line waiting to pay for my devices (a nasty cha-ching cha-ching) and I actually heard the conversations of the people around me. Sheesh -- I felt as if I were eavesdropping! Who knew that you could actually hear buttons being pushed -- like on a regular land phone?

But what an adjustment -- now it seems like I am hearing way more than I want to. I know I need to be patient with the aids or might need to get them slightly adjusted after a few weeks. And I now have less of an excuse for not hearing my wife ... uh ...

So ... life might just be a little better for me and for my family and friends who have put up with my sluggishness in taking care of this matter. When you are young you feel immortal and none of this shit seems to matter. As those young adult years get further and further away from you, you start to worry about what life will be like -- and what you will be like -- if you don't fix those things that need fixing. Well, it seems like I'm on the right track.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

USA over Canada!
In honor of the great USA hockey victory over Canada (a return match would be awesome!) in the Olympics tonight, I am listing my top ten all-time hockey d-bags. They might or might not be good guys off the ice, but they were the guys I most despise(d) when they play(ed) my beloved Blackhawks -- or anyone else for that matter.

Sean Avery
John Ferguson Sr.
Ron Hextall
Tie Domi
Dino Ciccarelli
Claude Lemieux
Chris Pronger
Darren McCarty
Derian Hatcher
Esa Tikkanen

Monday, February 15, 2010

It's Always Something..."

2010 is the year of uncertainty -- at least for me and for my family. In the next few days, we will hopefully get some idea of whether or not things will go on as they are, get better, or get worse.

My wife, like so many people, lost her job last summer when the local school district decided to cut back on expenses. With the job market being as tight as it is, she has not been able to find appropriate full time professional employment. We were recently notified that her unemployment benefits may have reached an end. We should know more tomorrow.

In the meantime, she is scheduled for a job interview Wednesday morning. Will she be offered a job? If not, will she continue to receive unemployment benefits until she can find something?

Of course, things are never easy. My oldest begins college in just over six months. My youngest needs braces. I have to pay for two hearing aids for myself. I have a health insurance problem that has been messed up for about a year. Sheesh.

Ever since Gilda Radner's exquisite character, Roseanne Roseannadanna, appeared on Saturday Night Live, I have joked with my Mom about Roseanne's signature line: "It just goes to show you -- it's always something. If it's not one thing, it's another." How true.


It looks like the unemployment benefits have been renewed, so that is good news. Unfortunately, the place that will be interviewing my wife seems to have trouble getting it's act together regarding interview times. Her Wednesday morning interview has now been rescheduled to Thursday afternoon. Yeah -- it's always something ...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Small Cash in FTOPS Event # 8
What better thing to do on Valentine's Day than to satellite into an FTOPS tournament and then cash, huh?

Actually, the celebration of Valentine's Day started yesterday afternoon as 4/5 of the lightning clan went to see The Wolfman at a late afternoon showing. The verdict: tied 2-2. Mom and Dad both liked the movie but the teenagers did not. It must be a generational thing.

Today my wife fixed a great turkey breast dinner. So ... even though knowing that I might be putting myself at great personal risk -- being Valentine's Day and all -- I felt the good karma flowing and decided to use a $26 token to try to satellite into today's FTOPS Event #8. I settled on one that guaranteed 20 seats, figuring that my best bet would be one that might attract a bigger crowd. This one ended up with 322 runners and 59 players who would win seats. As the bubble came nearer and nearer I used my best roaching skills to qualify. Ding!

In FTOPS Event #8 I was never anywhere near the leaders. Heck, some guys tripled up in the first few minutes. I didn't have that luxury. However, I played disciplined poker and did not make some of the loose calls like I have in the past that caused my to bleed chips.

Once I made it past the bubble, I hoped that I could at least hit the next level of payouts. I did do that before I finally petered out. Final result: 845 out of 8,758 runners. I didn't have any nasty suckouts and no one put any terrible beats on me. Unfortunately, I ran into a two-hour period where I got almost no cards at all, which was very frustrating.

At least I still have the evening to spend with my wife and family. It should be a good night -- unless the moon is full.

Even a man who is pure in heart
And says his prayers by night
May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
And the autumn moon is bright

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Since I had done pretty well at the WBCOOP at PokerStars, I decided to give the site another chance. Saturday afternoon I won an SNG satellite for the Nightly Seventy Grand and decided to play the tournament that night instead of banking the T money for another time.

The tournament actually went quite well. I finished 79th out of 1559 runners, getting as high as eighth place at one point. Running K-K into A-A late into the tournament was a killer. Also, I lost more flips than I won, thus finishing lower than I hoped. It was certainly worth it to take the risks, however, since the difference between 144th and 37th place was less than $39.

Now that I have some extra time this spring, I might give some of the nightly Stars tournaments some action. Or am I just being suckered in?

Saturday, February 06, 2010

I Lurve the Internet, Part I
I don't remember what prompted it, but I told my youngest daughter about a terribly embarrassing story from my waaaay younger days -- third grade, to be exact.

Gym class was over. The teacher took all the girls out of the classroom and went with them into the girls bathroom to change. Now, it's not like the girls had a difficult time with that since, going to a Catholic grade school in the 1960's, they were all wearing typical uniforms -- white blouses and jumpers. They usually just wore their gym shorts underneath.

The boys were left in the regular classroom to change. We usually changed quickly since we didn't want to be caught -- uh -- exposed -- when the girls came back to the room. However, the class clown, a little skinny guy with curly dark hair and an oval head like a grape, kept messing around. Suddenly the door opens and the girls poured back into the classroom. One problem: Michael, the class clown, waited too long to change and was caught in the front of the class in his tighty whities. As the girls took their seats, he was hiding behind the teacher's chair at the front of the room. The look on his face? Pure terror!

Michael left the school after third grade, never to be seen again. One time some years back, I tried googling his name on the net. Nothing. However, after telling the story to my daughter, I tried looking him up on facebook yesterday.

Shazam! Found him, and he looks just the same as in third grade -- only 40 years older. Maybe I should message him ... he he ...

Part II
Growing up in the 1960's and 70's, I have always had a fondness for the pop music of that era. I remember searching through the bargain bin in the local drug store when I was young -- looking for one of those 45's that only cost 39 cents. One day I spotted a 45 from Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, the group that did Wooly Bully. Ju Ju Hand? Never heard the song, but it was worth a try for 39 cents. It was an okay song, but the flip side was fantastic, featuring Domingo Samudio's (Sam's) great voice in a serious song. The song Big City Lights became one of my all-time favorites.

A few years ago I searched the net for the song but came up with nothing. I tried again this week, and ...... yesssssssssssssss -- someone put it on You Tube!

For those of us who have a few rings around the tree, the internet has provided us with links to the past that are beyond belief. It certainly makes me wonder what kind of world my kids will be living in long after my days on this earth are over.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

2010 WBCOOP Recap
It had been some time since I played at PokerStars. I never really played much there, for when I did, it seemed like I took too many horrendous beats. However, the 2010 WBCOOP seeemed like a good chance to give PokerStars another try.

What kind of play was in the WBCOOP? It seems like it depended upon which tournament you were in and which table you were at. In four of the tournaments I seemed to be an average freeroll donk. However, I did have three good finishes:

Event #2: 4th Place $215 SCOOP entry ticket
Event #3: 96th Place $11 SCOOP entry ticket
Main Event: 81st Place $22 SCOOP entry ticket

Final tabling Event #2 -- Omaha -- was great. My play was sharp and I really had a legitimate chance to take it down. However, losing flopped full house to higher flopped full house did me in. If ever there was a time I needed the ol' "One time!" that was it.

The Main Event was so very disappointing. After playing another sharp game, I lost when my K-K all-in was beaten on the river by A-8. Dang -- a double up and I would have been prepared to go much deeper.

Thanks to PokerStars for hosting these blogger tournaments. I look forward to playing in some SCOOP events later this spring. And ... looks like I need to deposit on Stars and give it a new chance in 2010.

Monday, February 01, 2010

The aftermath of WBCOOP and getting ready for change
I started the WBCOOP Main Event at 2:00 p.m. yesterday. I needed to clean out my office at work, so my plan was to go early in the evening -- WBCOOP progress pending. My bustout at WBCOOP, however, left me extremely unhappy. I hate to even look at the percentages of my last hand:

Pre-flop: 72% favorite
Pre-turn: 84% favorite
Pre-river: 93%

It wouldn't have stung as badly if the Ace came on the flop. Knowing there were only three outs on the river made it ten times worse. I let out a loud yell. My youngest daughter came running up the stairs into my bedroom.

"Gee Dad," she said. "I thought something really bad happened to you." I guess having your heart ripped out from poker doesn't qualify as "something really bad."

After moping around for a bit, I grabbed my wife and headed in to clean out my office. I will not be back for over five months. I am a packrat, so it was interesting looking at crap dating back to the mid-1990's: a consultant's report that was total bullshit; a congratulatory letter from a former bat shit crazy president; the disciplinary letter sent to the student who ran out of my office, grabbed his crotch, and yelled "Suck my dickkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk;" the obituary from my best friend at work; the campus-wide notice that I had been elected director of my department; the themed t-shirt for orientation one year that I never wore -- from when I missed work when my Dad passed away; all kinds of coffee mugs, key chains, and other promotional crapola that found itself thrown into a desk drawer, filing cabinet, or other deep recess of my office.

As I left the office, I felt kind of sad. I'm not leaving for good -- just taking some well-deserved sabbatical time. However, waking up in the morning and working the regular daytime grind has been something I have been doing since 1982.

A real break? With time to set my own pace? Time to go to several seminars, conferences, and workshops? Time to read and get current on the new trends in my field? Time to actually think instead of having to learn to do everything fast because there is always more to do?

This will be interesting.