Thursday, December 30, 2010

Deep in Green Bay Packers Country ...

The family traveled north for the New Year's holiday as a nephew is having a wedding reception close to Green Bay, WI. Cheeseheads are probably everywhere. Helpppppppppppp!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Coming Soon ...

The Rise and Fall of the K9 Poker Tour: How an Idea Hatched in Las Vegas Took Off Like a Bandit but Flared Out Way Before Its Time

ShaggyTrav & lightning36

lightning36 Challenge Update

An update of my progress in the "lightning36 Challenge" -- a takeoff on the Ferguson Challenge. I had less than $20 in my Bodog poker account and wanted to see if I could take it up tp $1000. My progress so far:

Dec 16, 2010: $19.97

Dec 27, 2010: $282.35

I have been grinding out mostly $.10/.25 NL 9-person tables. I started playing some $.25/.50 as my bankroll expanded. I've played in two small private tournaments but did not cash in either.

Surprisingly, most of my hands have held up. I took one really nasty beat when I flopped the nut straight and lost to a runner-runner full house. But we all know that flopped straights never win anyway, right?

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Memories ofttimes have a way of pervading our daily lives, bringing special meaning to certain sights, sounds, days, or occurrences. Yesterday was one of those days for me.

In the Catholic church, the Sunday after Christmas is the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. One of the readings at church today was from the Book of Sirach, which may be unfamiliar to those brought up in other faiths or Protestant religions, since Sirach was not included in the Hebrew Bible.

The Book of Sirach is largely a collection of ethical teachings. Today's reading for the Feast of the Holy Family:

God sets a father in honor over his children;
a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.
Whoever honors his father atones for sins,
and preserves himself from them.
When he prays, he is heard;
he stores up riches who reveres his mother.
Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children,
and, when he prays, is heard.
Whoever reveres his father will live a long life;
he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother.

My son, take care of your father when he is old;
grieve him not as long as he lives.
Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him;
revile him not all the days of his life;
kindness to a father will not be forgotten,
firmly planted against the debt of your sins
—a house raised in justice to you.

With my father in the church pew next to us, my siblings and I loved to elbow each other and smirk when this passage was read. The line that elicited the action, of course, was "Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him." Little did we realize that when my father grew older, dementia would begin to take over his life. We have always considered it a blessing that my dad's body gave out before his mind.

I felt like I was okay with my dad when he passed away. Although his birthday and the anniversary of his death pass by each year without much trouble, the Sunday after Christmas is always the day that gets to me. I remember a sanguine young guy sitting next to a father who worked his ass off for his family...

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

WPBT / Las Vegas Trip Report -- Part II

Day 3
The Saturday of the blogger weekend was one of those days when virtually nothing went right. I planned on sleeping in, only to be awakened by Very Josie, who had some morbid fear that I would miss the tournament. I guess the “no late registration” had her worrying. I hoped to use Rapid Rewards comps to eat in one of my regular places, Bally’s Sidewalk Café, but the long line at the entrance meant that my brother and I had to settle for someplace quicker. After downing a sub for breakfast/lunch, I registered for the tournament at Aria, only to find out that Josie and I were at the same table. Not good to have teammates playing against each other that early on.

The table was an interesting mixture of bloggers and a few others I didn’t know or can’t remember. On Josie’s right was Full Tilt Poker from the Rail’s Dave McCarthy. He was very aggressive, especially once he had chips, and ruled our table. Poker Grump was on my right – certainly much better than having him on my left. Blocked mostly from my sight was Absinthe, I think. Later on other notables such as Otis, Iggy, and NumbBono were moved to the table.

Early on Josie and I heard the bad news – our other teammate, Waffles, went out early set over set. No team challenge money for us. Hmm … should I have ditched my team and grabbed the spot on Team Roach instead?

Not much to say about the tournament. I misplayed one hand, played others decently, but got nothing higher than 10-10. After Bad Blood got moved to our table, I finally got a semblance of a hand while short stacked – A-10diamonds. I immediately pushed and thought I was going to grab the blinds and antes until Bad Blood called with A-J. And that was all she wrote. Out in something like 51st place. Meh.

Josie and I walked back toward the middle of the strip and I headed to my favorite room, Bally’s. Although I usually use the Bally’s poker room as my private ATM, this trip I had my lunch handed to me. Crap cards. Couldn’t catch a thing. Got rivered and bad beat more than a few times. Probably my worst day ever at Bally’s.

Finally decided to give up on Bally’s and headed to the IP. Persuaded Josie to get out of bed and planned to get something to eat or drink. Ran into Bayne and invited him to come along.

We ended up getting some pizza at Flamingo. Had a great conversation about family stuff and beastiality – you know – the usual! I saw that it was past midnight and, figuring my luck would change, offered to flip Bayne for the meal. New day, new winnah! Unfortunately, the streak would stop rather abruptly at the IP poker room.

DrChako and The Wife vacated a couple of spots at a $1/2 NL table that featured some other bloggers, so I grabbed a seat. Someone button straddled and I raised with J-J. There were no callers and then an early limper said “all in.” It looked like he only had about $60 behind, so I called. He tabled A-K, and you know what happened next. At least it was on the flop. Unfortunately, he had a lot more behind than I thought, so I lost an expensive flip. So much for the luck changing.

The guy to my right was a piece of work. The Wife wrote about him in her recaps. ADHD, speed freak, who knows – but he couldn’t stay seated and didn’t quit talking. He seemed to be a little sweet on Mary! Anyway, he had a decent stack of chips in front of him. He then told me that he just learned how to play poker by watching a video in his room. Yeah. I played along, and then I guess he felt guilty. He told me that no, he wasn’t new at the game, and thought he’d tell the truth since I looked like a nice guy. I channeled Dr. Pauly and said, “No, I didn’t believe you. Do I look stupid? I have a PhD in Astrophysics. “ I continued on “Yep – nothing better than watching a rocket blasting off from Cape …” That seemed to actually shut him up. Ha ha – me – the guy who never even took a science course in college due to CLEP credit!

It was clear that I was going nowhere fast so I cashed out and went to bed. I hoped to make it on time for the first football games in the morning.

Day 4
On Sunday I got to Lagasse’s Stadium a little bit later than planned. I wasn’t too interested in any of the early games, however. The Bears vs. the Cheatriots – that was the big game at 1pm. With Bears hat and Bears shirt, I confidently ordered a sandwich and was getting ready for the game. I made a bet with Stephane, uber-Patriots fan and Tom Brady fan. If the Cheatriots were to win, she would claim the Chicago Bears fight song (Bear down Chicago Bears …) for one year and substitute her own lyrics. If the Bears won, she would post that Tom Brady wears women’s underwear under his football uniform on all her blogs. I thought it was a fair deal. Unfortunately, the Cheatriots thoroughly kicked the Bears’ asses right from the start. It was painful to watch.

Had some great conversations that afternoon. I listened to Wolfshead piss and moan about stuff, including his nephew’s inability to get him some Ethyl M chocolates. Shit Wolf – give me the delivery charge you gave him and I’ll deliver any time of the day or night!

I saw Yestbay1’s wife standing by herself, so I chatted her up a bit. So Dave, if she thought some strange guy was hitting on her, it was me! Talked a little sports betting with Dr. Pauly. It is always great to talk with the Dr. One of these days I’ll get off my butt and write a review of Lost Vegas. Got condolences on the game from SoxLover.

I, of course, had to get au pair advice from Dr. Chacko and The Wife. If you have never read the comments in the Wife’s post about au pairs, do so for a good chuckle. The Wife and I found out that we are amazingly similar when it comes to money matters. Probably that early midwest upbringing is to blame.

Big thanks to Al Can’t Hang and Full Tilt Poker for coming through big time on the free food and swag for the football party. It is a great way to complete the weekend before people start to make the transition toward returning home.

Later that night Josie and I talked about life and love while keeping an eye on OhCaptain as he attempted to take down a tournament at IP. After Josie went to bed, I got in the cash game at IP. Funniest moment was when OhCaptain triumphantly came to the table, arms raised in victory, and proclaimed “I’m unstuck.” Uh … next time you do that, check your fly, brotha!

Days 5 & 6
Although my brother had already checked in and spent one night at Wynn, I was too tired to do so late Sunday night. I went to the room Monday morning – ah, so different from the IP! I love the central location and the cheap or free cost of the IP, but I love the atmosphere of Wynn. Great room and great view.

The poker room at Wynn was really dead, so I had lunch with my brother at the Grand Lux Café. We had never eaten there before. My lunch was okay, but certainly nothing to rave about. I decided to play some $1/2 NL at the Venetian. As nice as the poker room is, I seem to always get stuck at tables with d-bags. No surprise that my table included a guy who wouldn’t shut up and his son. The guy went on and on about Las Vegas poker and name dropped several people. Like I gave a shit. I was cruising until a nasty river card cost me a stack of chips. Seeing as how I never have fun playing at Venetian, I left for --where else -- but Bally’s. I gained a little ground and had some fun, but I decided to put poker to bed for the trip. I cashed out and played some slots at Paris. The Amazing Race slot machine was just that – amazing! I was winning and having a blast, but I started dozing off at the machine and decided to call it a night.

Final day in Las Vegas. My brother and I had planned to eat at the Wynn breakfast buffet, but I was not hungry at all. We hung out in the room until it was time for me to head to the airport. An air flight channel on the Wynn television system said that my flight would leave on time. After I checked my luggage at the airport, however, the delay time in my flight was changed three times. I finally took off 2 ½ hours late. I was ready for a really fun flight home when the woman who was to sit next to me started crying. Shit – am I THAT bad? It turns out that she had a terrible day of travel, switching flights and running into all kind of problems. Lucky for her that she sat next to a professional counselor, huh? The flight was uneventful, as was the two-hour plus drive back home. I made it to my house just before midnight.

This was my second WPBT gathering (last year was my first) and I enjoyed it much more than the first. It was great seeing old friends and meeting in person new friends I had played with the past year or two. I was really glad to finally meet the trio of Buddy Dank, Joanada, and NumbBono. Jo is such a sweetie, Ben was great, and Ian was much friendlier than I would have imagined. I finally met Miami Don and would probably want to close down a bar with him sometime and hear all his stories. Congrats on the WPBT win, Don! I was happy to meet and hang out with Wolfshead, who was just as funny in person as he is on his blog and in chat at the table. I was happy to find that Very Josie is as genuine in person as she is on her blog. And I like her – very much. I’ll still attempt to torture her, though, because that is what friends who are assholes do!

I still have one more post to write about the WPBT weekend – one that looks at things from a different angle. I mean – that is what bloggers, do, right?

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

ESPN Headline: Man charged after throwing waffles

TORONTO -- A frustrated Toronto Maple Leafs fan who threw waffles on the ice at the Air Canada Centre will have to admire his team from afar.

Joseph Robb was charged with criminal mischief and barred from the arena for throwing waffles on the ice at a Maple Leafs game to protest the team's performance this season. The 12-17-4 Leafs were 28th out of the NHL's 30 teams entering Wednesday's games.

Robb, of Oakville, Ontario, says he's "just a normal Leafs fan, I love them to death."

Now why didn't we think of that?

My version of the Ferguson Challenge

I've had an interesting history on Bodog. As best I remember, I have never deposited one cent, starting my bankroll with freeroll winnings a few years ago. My account surpassed the $1000 mark before, but has been depleted to the extent of being at death's door. For whatever reason, I decided to see if I could once again rebuild my Bodog account to a decent amount -- maybe back up to $1000?

Starting point: $19.97 on December 16, 2010.
Current standing: $138.73 on December 22, 2010.

I have been playing $.10/.25 NL Hold em mostly, with one $11 private tournament buy-in that netted me nothing. I tend to play at night, sitting at one or two tables while I am cruising around the internet. I have been concentrating on playing relatively tight, set mining, and value betting. So far the results have been pretty good.

I hope to have the discipline to continue this over the next few weeks. Comments? Suggestions?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

WPBT / Las Vegas Trip Report -- Part I

Getting ready for the annual WPBT tournament and big blogger gathering in Las Vegas is never easy for me. Two of the absolute worst months of the year for me work-wise are November and December. Non-stop people coming in to see me, non-stop phone calls, non-stop e-mails. I set my internal dial for 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 8. If I could make it until then everything would be okay. I almost cruised to the finish line. But … at 3:00p.m., while attempting to sneak back to the office after a meeting, I was asked a question by an administrator: “How would you like to be a ‘shepherd’?” This was a request to be involved in a project I detest. I slithered back to my office without giving an answer. Two hours to go. Then the phone rang. “Can you take this call? This girl blah blah blah …” So instead of cruising through the last two hours, I had to work like all hell to not have to spend too much time after hours . I got home late and attended to things that needed to get done before I left. By the time I was ready to pack (no – I am not one of those people who gets ready a week ahead of time), I was too exhausted to do so. I hoped I would have enough time in the morning to pack and get on the road on time.

Day 1
My youngest daughter was sick, so I actually bought some extra time since I did not have to drive her to school. I still had to pick up my bounty at a store and get cash for the trip. Yes – I am a real last minute guy!

No problems with my two-hour drive to the airport. The plane took off on time, and I was ready for Las Vegas.

Although I had made my reservations last July, my brother decided toward the last minute to come with me. Our flights were arriving in Las Vegas within 45 minutes of each other, so he waited for me to get in before we took a cab to the IP. The plan was to spend three nights at the IP, then two nights at Wynn. My brother was staying one extra night. All free. Thanks Harrah’s and Wynn!

The trip now became a big blur of meeting new friends and talking with old ones. I met Joanada at the Geisha Bar and found that yes, she is the same sweetie that she is on Buddy Dank Radio. Saw a few other bloggers and said a few hellos, but decided to head out for dinner with my brother. Destination: Ellis Island, home of the steak special. For years we used to go to the San Remo for the prime rib special, but now that the San Remo became Hooters, we found a new place for the inaugural Las Vegas dinner. While there, this funny text exchange took place:

Wolfshead: Where R U?
Me: Ellis Island
Wolfshead: Smart ass

I went back to the IP and met Wolfshead, who was playing poker. Now, if you have ever read his blog or chatted with him at a table, you know that his acerbic humor is quite funny. It is the same in person, only better!

I said "hi" to many bloggers and then met NumbBono. Numb and I have had many conversations at the Mookie regarding hockey – my Blackhawks and his Red Wings. Let’s just say he is has not been complimentary about the Hawks. He gave me a big hug, which only goes to show what blogger brotherhood – mixed with alcohol – is all about! I also met Mary and saw her with a nice stack of chips in front of her. This became a familiar sight. I recall this was also when I met BrainMC, maybe, maybe not.

I did get in some $1/2 NL at both the IP and my Las Vegas poker home, Bally’s. A common theme throughout the trip was that there was little good news regarding poker. Poor cards. Bad beats. A few stupid plays. Meh. Not bad for a first day, but not like last year when I hit a Royal Flush my first night and had a mountain of chips in front of me. Ah well …

Day 2
After having breakfast at Harrah’s, I decided to check out the poker room, just in case a blogger or two might be playing there. Who do I see playing in a small tournament? Very Josie! I snuck up behind her and started massaging her neck and shoulders. Could she guess which of her many male admirers it was? I railed her for some time and saw her playing excellent poker. I sat down at a $1/2 NL table and watched her get down to the final four, then three, then two of the small tourney. Unfortunately, she took a few horrendous beats heads up and had to settle for second place. But she played well enough to win.

I spent more time at Bally’s, but was unable to crush the table like I have on previous trips. Very frustrating.

I headed over to MGM Grand for the mixed games in the evening. I was surprised that so many people were there so early. I met and talked with Miami Don for the first time. We had a great sports-oriented conversation while waiting for blogger tables to open up. I actually did quite well at the mixed games and was still showing a profit by the end of the second night. Knowing that my luck would run out and my true donkatude would show, I left my table and hung out at the bar. I then met Buddy Dank for the first time. I had a great time talking with Buddy, Joanada, and Numb. A little later Josie and I had a fun conversation (I don’t think she remembers most of it) about when I made my blog a Josie-free zone for a week or two. Accusations flew from both sides. Josie even asked the bartender, Percy, to chip in. Good times! I also got to meet Yo Soy Veneno, who was nothing like I would have imagined! Alan Penner and I talked some baseball. Waffles was all ready to go in the blogger tournament. Go team Killer B’s!

Other new people I met or talked to the first time included 23Skidoo, xkm1245, VinNay, Stephane (no, I am not really Tom Brady’s cousin), …

The night ended when Waffles, MiamiDon, VeryJosie, and I shared a cab back to the IP. After a little hanging around, it was time for bed. I was running on fumes and wanted to not be a total wreck at the blogger tournament later that morning.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"No, I didn't believe you. Do I look stupid? I have a PhD in Astrophysics."

WPBT trip report is coming soon ...

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Poker Forums to Consider

As I recover from the 2010 WPBT Winter Classic tournament and trip to Las Vegas, I thought I would list a few selected poker forums to consider in case you are bored with your current action or are looking to get in some discussions or tournaments with a new group of poker junkies.

An absolute monster forum is Cardschat, boasting a membership of over 75,000. Led by owner Nick and seemingly promoted 24 hours a day by dakota-xx, Cardschat hosts freerolls and small buy-in events while providing hand analysis, good poker citizenship, and friendly discussions. I have been a member for well over five years and have played numerous freerolls and tourneys. The play in the buy-in events is strong. There are few weak links among the regulars. Long-time members and others who have made exceptional contributions are invited to become loyalers, which opens the door to special freerolls and other perks. Cardschat hosts tournaments at Full Tilt, PokerStars, Bodog, and other popular sites.

Another great forum is the Shark Powered Network Forum, home of the Shark Poker Tour. I have been a member of this forum for over five years also and have played in countless private tournaments. The forum currently has over 7,700 members and provides a series of tournaments with great monthy prizes for the top players. Top shark David (FNG) works hard to provide a great poker environment. Regular tournaments are played at Ultimate Bet/Absolute Poker and Power Poker. You can often find me donking off my buy-in at the regular Thursday night "home game."

A newer and smaller forum that might be worth checking out is I was recently alerted to this forum by one of my Euro poker buddies, DangerMouse. DM tells me that the site has a nice, friendly atmosphere with some good players and strategists. Information on the site states: "Pokerology means 'the study of poker' and it's our aim to provide the best free poker learning resource for poker players, from complete beginners to experienced poker professionals, and everyone in between." Sounds interesting. I see that the forum is having a Seven Card Stud tourney this weekend. Maybe I'll join and do a little teaching there myself!

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010


Friday, December 03, 2010

Ron Santo: The Story of a Great Man Who Deserved Better

The passing of former Chicago Cubs third basemen Ron Santo is felt deeply by Cubs supporters around the world today. Santo was a man beloved by fans for his passion for the game, his commitment to the Cubs, his general decency and spirit, and his adversities and struggles to overcome them.

The year was 1969. The Chicago Cubs had, by far, the best team in baseball. Imagine this: the entire Cubs infield was on the 1969 National League All-Star team. Ernie Banks -- 1st base; Glenn Beckert -- 2nd base; Don Kessinger -- shortstop; Ron Santo -- 3rd base; Randy Hundley -- catcher. And that didn't even include Hall of Famers Billy Williams and Ferguson Jenkins.

Chicago Cubs fans know all the stories all too well. A Willie Smith home run wins the opener in extra innings. Black cats in New York. Fly ball caught and dropped by Don Young. Jimmy Qualls breaking up Tom Seaver's perfect game in the 9th inning. Kenny Holtzman's no hitter. Leo Durocher's trip to Wisconsin. A tired team fades at the end.

And in the middle of all that was Ron Santo, the best third baseman in the National League. Santo was a great home run hitter, but he also seemed to strike out and hit into double plays his fair share of times. Santo wore his heart on his sleeve. He was always pissed off when he failed at bat. His routine of jumping in the air and clicking his heels after victories came from genuine passion and joy. He epitomized the working class ethic of Chicago.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about Santo was that he played at the highest level of professional baseball for so long despite having diabetes. He retired at the relatively young age of 34. Unfortunately, his numbers, especially compared with hitters who came after the so-called pitchers' decade of the 1960's (not to even mention the steroid era), seem to fall short of baseball Hall of Fame standards.

But are they really? There are only 14 third basemen in the Hall of Fame. Three were from the Negro Leagues and four were put in by an ancient veterans committee. Only seven have been voted in in the modern era. Seven. Had Santo not struggled with diabetes -- especially with the lack of knowledge we had of diabetes back then -- how much longer could he have played, how much better could he have been?

For many years Santo had been part of the Cubs radio broadcast team. Despite many health problems, including two leg amputations and bladder cancer, Santo continued to fight back, serving as an inspiration to many. He was always the friendliest guy at the ball park and was loved by the Wrigley crowd. Yeah -- he was an unabashed homer as an announcer and was not the most articulate guy in the world, but he lived and died with the Cubs's success and failure like any other fan.

It is so unfortunate that Santo came agonizingly close to seeing the two things that would have made his life complete -- getting voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and seeing the Cubs go to the World Series. He was five veterans committee votes short of making the Hall, and the Cubs were within five out of going to the World Series (do I hear Bartman?). There is a lingering bitterness among Cub fans because Santo could never get those votes he needed to be in the Hall.

However, although sadness rules today, what Ron Santo brought to baseball, to those living with diabetes, and to Cubs fans, will always be cherished and never forgotten.

The world lost a great man today. But we are so thankful that Ron Santo shared himself with us.

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Ron Santo 1940 - 2010

A sad day today for all Cubs fans as Ron Santo, the soul of the Chicago Cubs, passed away last night. A follow-up post will be published this evening. Work and tears are the order of business this morning.