Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sitting at a Table When a Jackpot Hand is Hit

This happened to me tonight for the first time. It was kind of fun. I was actually not paying much attention to the hand since I was more concerned about an SNG I was playing at Full Tilt. I saw the notice of the Royal Flush and then watched in delight as hundreds of virtual coins rained down on the table. It was sort of like hitting the big one on a slot machine. The coins stopped and then play was momentarily stopped and we saw the following display: The bonus money people at the table won was actually not put into play, but rather was deposited into our accounts. I then received the following in an e-mail: Hey -- getting a little extra for someone else's luck? I'll take it!

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

I Wanna Run Like Joe C

Satty to a bracelet race. This game sucks sometimes. I want Joe C's horseshoe ... but clean it off first, okay?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shark Victory

Kind of a low turnout for the Shark Poker Tour Thursday night home game, but a win is still a win. I've been a member of Shark for about 5 1/2 years. Other bloggers who occasionally play in the home game are Memphis MOJO and Wolfshead.

Tonight I was too tired to head to an out-of-town freeroll qualifier. Looks like I made a good decision to go with the Shark home game. And ... if you are looking for a forum with lots of private money-added games, good play, and the opportunity to win entry into bigger tournaments based on your play, check out the Shark Forum.

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Back Home & Running Good Even When You Run Bad

Back home as of 6:00pm last night. And what a trip home we had.

We got ready to leave College Station, TX Wednesday at around 11:00 am. With oak table securely fastened to our van's roof and the van and a car packed to the max, we hit the road.

After some lunch and only about 150 miles on the road, we had a major problem. The van started acting up and I had to pull into a tiny liquor store/gas station just outside Jacksonville, TX. The van overheated -- not good. We asked the girls working in the store if they knew anyone who could take a look at our vehicle. One girl said that her father-in-law had an auto body shop just down the road but also worked on cars on the side. I was able to glide down the highway in neutral, and just barely got the van into the guy's yard. His daughter-in-law had already called him. It turned out that the A/C locked up and snapped the belt. A thermostat, serpentine belt, and three hours later, we were back on the road with the A/C to be fixed at our home garage after we got home. And the cost for this? Less than $100! I gave the guy some extra money and might send him some him some certificates for a free lunch for him and his assistant. I left out a lot of details, but we were so lucky, considering the long stretches of open road we were driving, to have this happen at the perfect place and have the guy immediately work on it.

While we were waiting, we also heard that my daughter's boyfriend had sold her bed. My last-minute craigslist ad did the trick!

Because of the delay, we were only able to make it halfway home the first day. We stayed overnight just outside Little Rock, AR, and were able to finish the drive in nine hours yesterday.

Being the degenerate that I am, within two hours of getting home I was on my way to my home poker game. It was the first time we had played in months. I came out the biggest or second biggest winner -- a great way to start life after the long trip.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Bleeding Money Left and Right

College Station, TX

Most of my daughter's things are packed. She still has some cleaning to do tonight. Tomorrow we start the long ride home.

People who know me well know that I have always been a thrifty person. Coming from a blue-collar middle-class family installed certain values in me regarding work and money. I hate to spew money, and that is what has been somewhat difficult to deal with. Food and supplies we had bought for our daughter now go to her boyfriend. At least he will make good use of them.

My daughter had to sell some of the furniture we either brought down or purchased here. She actually did okay on selling some items. She could not sell the two biggest ones -- an oak dining table and chairs set and her brand new full size mattress, box springs, and frame. We took the table apart and have the top strapped to our van. I get this feeling that our van top just might get torn off! The mattress set, however, looks like the biggest loss. It has been difficult to sell. It looks like the best solution is to just leave it in the apartment. If someone sublets/rents the apartment, therefore taking us off the hook, I would rather see them get some kind of bonus rather than just trashing the set or leaving it for anyone for free. Or maybe after we go we can get the boyfriend to haul it to Goodwill or Salvation Army and just donate it. Anyone have other suggestions? I tried a last-minute Craigslist ad, but only got one hit so far. None of the Craigslist scammers have even tried to get it yet!

The highlight of the trip? Trying a Whataburger hamburger. Yes, that is how much fun I have been having! Wednesday night should bring the return of my long lost home game, however. I am looking forward to spewing some chips with da boys.

Looking forward to getting back to Illinois safely with our loaded van and car. Having flown to so many places rather than driving over the past twenty years, I forgot just how long 1,000 miles feels when you are driving them one at a time.

See you on the virtual felt!

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Night of Wonder at Survive Donkey Island

I decided to play the Sunday night Survivor game as I watched the Fighting Illini unsuccessfully play for a seat in the NCAA Men's Basketball Sweet Sixteen versus Kansas. I swear, I saw things there that I have never seen before. Well .. not grouped all together like that, it seems. I was involved in one of them:

Believe it or not, my Aces held! The funny thing is that I was on my daughter's wireless network, having a few issues, and I didn't even see the final pre-flop all in betting, the turn, or the river! I had to sort through my open windows after the hand was over to see the result. I then had to go to the Full Tilt options to see the previous hand to see how I got so many chips.

However, I made a poor play at a trap attempt and spewed most of my chips to TheNeophyte, who used them to glide into second place while I bubbled for the second blogger tournament in a row. I flopped two pair but there was a flush draw on the board. Instead of making the correct play and pushing, I put out a small bet to try to get Neo to perhaps re-raise me, then I would come over the top. Well, he outsmarted me by smooth calling, then hit his flush on the turn. The next thing that happened was that the wireless network delayed for a second, and I was a tad confused. Anyway, feeling confident that I had the best hand (ha ha), I pushed all in but did not suck out on the river. Well played, Neo. My bad. It was bubble time again.

I hope others in the game show some hand histories or some screenies. If you ever believed that the RNG at Full Tilt is screwy, tonight confirmed it!

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Travel Update

College Station, TX:

Yesterday I got into 70's temperature for the first time in ages; today the temperature is in the 80's. Yowsa!

The drive through eastern Texas was very nice. I had been to several areas of Texas before -- Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, and Lubbock. I was a bit surprised at how lush the land seemed to be. Many nice ranches and lots of hills. College Station, TX appears to be a pretty nice university town. Lots of shopping areas abound, and many apartment complexes are close to the Texas A & M campus.

The complex where my daughter lives is not as nice as I thought. The apartment is fine, but little care has been paid to the outside grounds in some time. Maybe I should not expect so much from apartments in a university town?

My daughter sold most of the furniture she needed to sell. We still have a problem in that she still has a bed and a table and chairs set that we are not taking back home. I hope we do not have to give them away.

After many hours of driving these past two days, I hope to relax tonight watching the Fighting Illini taking on Kansas and at the Sunday night blogger Survivor game.

See ya at Donkey Island!

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Travel Update: I'm in Atlanta ... Texas?

Today was a long travel day but fortunately the weather was nice. As we got farther and farther south and west, the temperature kept going up. It was very nice to see the 70's -- it had been some time. We were not able to eat lunch at one of our favorite spots, Lambert's Cafe in Sikeston, MO -- The Only Home of Throwed Rolls. The wait was 1 1/2 hours, so we ate at the local Ruby Tuesday instead. My wife was very unhappy since they screwed up our order twice. I, on the other hand, had a great time. Me thinks it has something to do with the low-cut black tops and the more than ample chests of two of the waitresses. I'm just sayin' ... The biggest mess we saw was in Texarkana. If you have never been there before, a highway divides Arkansas and Texas. There is construction going on and little detours, blocked roads, etc seem to be everywhere. We were going to spend the night there, but were frustrated just getting around. Also, many hotels were filled due to, apparently, a big bull sale going on in town over the weekend. You just don't see that in Illinois ... Ate at a Waffle House for the first time in years. The chilli I had was the best I have had in some time. Great cheap meal for all. Since College Station was still about five hours away, we drove out of the Texarkana mess and are staying the night in this little town of Atlanta. In the morning we will have a drive of a bit more than four hours to get to our destination.

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Good News Today & Off To Texas

Scholastic Bowl State Finals
Today had an air of excitement since my son's Scholastic Bowl team, in only its second season, competed at the state tournament. They were one of eight teams in their division that qualified for state.

Expectations were high as the team won a squeaker in the first game in its bracket. However, the next game was against a special high school that was designed to recruit the best science and math students in the state. Sheesh, were they tough! Needless to say, the brainiacs took the rookies to town. They eventually won the tournament.

The final game was against an experienced team from a wealthy suburban Chicago school that was three times the size of my son's school. Another lesson for the rookie team. This team only lost one game -- to the braniac team, of course!

We were pretty proud of my son and his team. My kids were never interested in sports, so getting to go to the state finals of Scholastic Bowl competition was a thrill.

What ... a job????
Finally, after almost two years spent searching for a professional job, my wife finally got a job offer! The position is currently half time with the possibility of it moving to full time. This works well for now as it gets her back doing what she has come to love -- training students and staff in computer software applications -- while allowing her to keep her part-time job assisting with the religious education and the administration of the local temple. She is very excited, as the tough job market and her lack of success in landing a job had begun to wear on her.

Off to Texas
In the morning we are hitting the road to fetch my daughter home from Texas. She just was not ready to move that far from home yet and had a terrible string of things happen to her. I am not sure how her return will work out, but it was certainly terrible for us to see how unhappy she has been these past couple of months. Unfortunately, this was an expensive lesson for both her and us. However, she is doing excellent work in her online classes, so at least her education is progressing.

Las Vegas calling lightning36 ...
Reservations are now set for my next trip to Las Vegas -- June 19-24. I will be staying at Bally's the length of the trip. I'll bet The Neophyte and Lucki Duck are surprised to hear this! Anyone else going to Las Vegas that week? I am not sure what tournaments I might play -- maybe WSOP donkathon, Venetian Deep Stack, the summer series at Binions or the Golden Nugget -- who knows?

I am taking my laptop with me to hopefully post on the road these next few days. It looks like it is time to experience part of America one mile at a time.

Till next time ...

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Linking the Latest Poker News

It seems like today is a rather busy day for poker news. For example ...

Dr. Pauly writes about the closing of the Sahara Hotel and Casino. Many of us have played the inexpensive Sahara poker tournaments over the years. Even though the poker room and the casino itself were largely dumps, the action there could still be fun. Heck, I even chopped my first tournament I played there!

The big online/b&m news, as reported at Wicked Chops Poker, is Full Tilt Poker's new ONYX Cup , a b&m series that no one but the true bluebloods of poker can afford. Yowsa!

On the local online front, Survive Donkey Island had an interesting multiple entry tournament last night. Jamyhawk was ousted as the tournament wore on. Very Josie has post that describes the remaining Sunday tournaments. Badugi, anyone?

Pretty busy poker day for a Monday. Catch you on the virtual felt!

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lightning Strikes Began Five Years Ago Today

It is hard to believe, but Lightning Strikes began five years ago today. Yowsa!

I detailed how the blog came about and posted some of my favorite screen shots two years ago on its third anniversary. Looking back at my early posts, it was a pretty lonely place. The only people who seemed to read the blog and comment on it were some of my friends from the old Online Poker Tour and a few miscellaneous people. And then things started to pick up about the time I read about this private blogger tournament called The Mookie. A blogger named Big Pirate posted a comment. Hmmm … who the heck was he?

I played The Mookie for the first time on October 18, 2006. Early on I was dealt K-K and re-raised a raise by some guy named Columbo, who then went all in. I, of course, called. Columbo pushed all in with 10-10! What kind of tournament was this? I found out when he binked a 10 on the river. Out in 54th place out of 60 runners. Welcome to The Mookie! Mookie himself wrote a comment on my blog post after the tournament. I was thrilled.

I decided to play The Mookie the next week, and BOOM – I won! Damn, I thought, I just might be rolling over these donkeys every week! I was so psyched to see my winner's profile posted by Mookie. It was cool that the next tournament was called The Mookie – Lightning Strikes! Although I didn’t do too well in the tournament, I was starting to get noticed. Then, on November 3, 2006, I thought I really started hitting the big time when SirFWALGMan , one of the bloggers who seemed to be really popular, commented twice on my blog, including giving me a great tip on playing Full Tilt SNGs to win tokens.

So yes, those were my humble beginnings. Sometime along the way I added a counter to my blog. Since adding the counter, I have had over 40,000 page views from the United States and more countries than I ever could have imagined. Some of my early commenters and supporters have disappeared but have been replaced with a nice group of good friends and fun people.

Thanks to all the people who have read my blog, commented on a post, or just generally added some spice to my life through the blog. You are all cherished and appreciated.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Family Updates

Sometimes things just do not work out, as my oldest daughter found out the hard way. Her move to Texas this past January did not turn out the way she hoped. She was immediately homesick, had difficulty finding a job, had to deal with bed bugs three times, had car problems, blew a tire, on and on ... We finally decided that enough was enough and pulled the plug on her Texas adventure. She is really looking forward to coming home despite having to immediately live with her parents! I'll be heading into Lucki Duck territory in a week to get her.

Mrs. lightning has a job interview at the neighboring university next week. We hope it goes well. Although she has applied for a number of university jobs, this will be only her second interview. She is almost at the two year mark without full-time professional employment. She has always been able to find part-time gigs that don't pay much, but getting something more closely fitting her education, experience, and skills would be nice.

It was about one year ago that we started checking into a health problem my son was having. On April 2, 2010, I wrote a post about my son's early struggles in life. Among other things, I said "Challenges exist in every family. We seemed to have weathered this major one." Little was I to know that on one week later my son would be diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, necessitating an immediate trip to the Mayo Clinic for surgery.

I am happy to report that my son's recovery has been excellent. He appears to remain cancer-free. He has really gotten into school work, and we think that by the end of his high school junior year he will have already accumulated 29 hours of college-level credit thanks to taking Russian at the local community college and testing high enough to receive many AP credits.

My youngest daughter survived her bullying problems from a couple of years ago and can not wait to get out of middle school and begin high school in the fall. She is still waiting for her dad to take her back to Las Vegas!

As for me -- well, I'm still chugging along. My plan for healthier living got waylaid last spring due to dealing with the cancer ordeal. However, I am giving it a shot again and have already started changing my diet and eating habits. The exercise part will soon follow. I continue to have a great secure job, and I am certainly thankful of that in this economy. However, the legislative peckerheads in Illinois are doing everything they can to get at my pension money. Only time will tell how successful they will be.

I continue to play online poker, probably with less enthusiasm than in the past. I need to play more b&m poker. I am excited to hear, however, that BBT6 is on the way!

That is it from my little corner of the world. Challenges are always present, but I am thankful to have the life, family, and friends that I have, including several of you online poker donks! My best to all of you as we make our way through this thing we call life.

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Monday, March 07, 2011

Truckin' March 2011 Edition & Sliding On the Ice ...

Get it while it's hot: The latest edition of Truckin' is now available online. Check it out -- there might even be a submission by a familiar name or two or three ...

Sliding On Ice
You would think that this crappy winter weather would just go away. Unfortunately, it has not. A light snowfall was coming down in central Illinois Saturday night. Worse yet, the temperature was just right for the most dangerous of driving conditions: ice with water on top. I experienced this the hard way Saturday night while driving home after making a run for some Chinese food. Going up a hill on a relatively busy street, I hit a hidden slick spot at the top of the hill and lost control of my car. Fortunately, no cars were coming from the opposite direction as I struggled to get my car under control. I almost got it under control, and then WHAM -- I hit a guard rail on the right side of the street. I feared that I took out the passenger side of my car but was relieved to find that I only made another huge, nasty scrape on the bumper.

Of course, the next day the snow and ice all melted. Meanwhile, my poor baby has just another mark on her once pristine body. Maybe it is time to spend a little cashish and get her back looking like new.


Sunday, March 06, 2011

Wasn't I Just in Las Vegas in December?

I guess I was. However, it was now the end of February and time for the first Las Vegas trip of 2011. It is hard to believe that it is already over one week since I checked into my hotel for the trip. Time flies, eh?

The trip actually began the night before. Since I was leaving on one of the early (6:50 am) flights out of Chicago, I chose to drive up to my mom’s house the evening before. Therefore, in the morning I would only need to drive 30 minutes to the airport instead of two hours.

My flight Sunday morning was only half full and got in 20 minutes early. As soon as I got to the baggage claim area – BOOM! – my suitcase was right in front of me. I took these to be good signs.

After checking into my room at the Imperial Palace, I made tracks to catch the 11:00 am bounty tournament at The Mirage. I had never played at The Mirage before, so I was looking forward to this. Unfortunately, things did not go well. The table lucksack was catching and hitting every card and flop. He started getting a huge stack and began pushing everyone around. I finally saw my chance when I was dealy Q-Q in middle position. The lucksack had already raised, and I re-raised. He called. The rainbow flop with middle cards made me think that I was way ahead. I was afraid that he would chase a straight, however. He checked, and I made a big bet. He went all in and I called. The mofo flopped a set! I would have certainly preferred a turn or river suck out, but it was not to come that day.

After a quick lunch, it was time for me to make my first appearance in my Las Vegas home, the Bally’s poker room. I texted The Neophyte and he soon met me there. It is always fun meeting bloggers in person for the first time. Neo sat down at $1/2 NL and it was off to the show!

The highlight of the long session came when I limped into a family pot in late position with Q-2 sooted. The flop: Q-2-2! I checked the flop and hoped that someone would hit something on the turn. A guy in early position raised, and I just smooth called. The river came and he checked. I started counting out a big raise, and the guy got all excited and pushed all his chips in! The dealer was trying to get control of things and I just said “It’s fine. I’m all in anyway.” I turned over my flopped boat and he mucked his cards in disgust. Big pot. He stepped away from the table for a minute and bought back in for only $100. I was dealt A-A and raised to $15. The other player pushed all in and of course, I called. He flipped over A-K sooted. He didn’t suck out, and I felted him for the second time in minutes. Man was he pissed. He stormed out and I never saw him the rest of my trip.

Neo headed out to eat dinner (I met his wife, the Poker Queen, at this time)but I was not hungry and stayed at the table. After several hours I took a dinner break and then went back to the poker room. In the meantime, I was setting up a meeting with two old friends from the Shark Poker Tour, HyppieChyck and JigDog. Jiggy worked until midnight, so we made plans to meet in Casino Royale ($1 Michelob bottles!) at about 1:00 am. Hyppie and Jiggy were pretty much just as they are at the virtual tables – lots of fun! We talked a lot about the Shark Poker Tour, some of the players, and life in general. After a few hours and a few beers, I hit the wall and had to call it a night as my day was already past the 24 hour mark. I headed back to the IP to hit the sheets.

My usual routine in Las Vegas in to play cash games until about 5 in the morning, then sleep through the rest of the morning. The Neophyte and Lucki Duck, however, seem to believe in this strange ritual in Las Vegas called breakfast. I have heard it exists, but …

Monday -- With all the good things I had heard about the Hash House A Go Go from others and just this trip from Neo, I decided to give it a try. I decided to go with the chicken salad sandwich. The verdict: very good. The Texas toast made it huge, and the bacon, cucumbers, other flavors blended in made it very different.

Played some $1/2 at Bally’s (naturally) with Neo and saw him take two nasty beats in a row to a below average player who chased. Unfortunately, the down side of playing at Bally’s is that the poor players will sometimes hit when they chase. Neo should have had a big stack and been ruling the table. Instead, he had to take his lumps. Poker really sucks sometimes.

This was just a long day of cash poker. A few potential evening plans never materialized, so I was satisfied to play long into the night.

Tuesday had a terrific start. I had barely gotten to bed when an alarm went off in the IP. I had to throw some clothes on and dash down ten floors of stairs. The funny thing was that once outside, it was like nothing happened. No one told us whether to stay outside or go back. Everything seemed normal in the casino. Sheesh.

The day began with another lunch at Hash House A Go Go. The salads looked so good that I had to try another – the cobb salad minus blue cheese. It was excellent.

It was back to Bally’s for more cash games for the afternoon. The evening would be fun as Neo and Poker Queen were going to Green Valley Ranch and I went along. On the way, we all got our first taste of In-N-Out Burger. The verdict: Pretty good for a regular hamburger joint. Not sure that I hold it in as great esteem as others do. But I will go back.

I really liked Green Valley Ranch. Nice casino with lots of different food options, especially inexpensive ones. The poker room was pretty big, but when we got there only a few tables were open. The room started to fill up as the after dinner crowd filtered in. My end of the table had a few players talking and having fun. Neo’s end was quiet. In fact, even when the room was filled, it seemed waaay too quiet. Maybe I am just used to the noise at Bally’s. I made my only real error of the trip when I failed to notice a pair on the board when I hit the second nut flush on the river. I was shocked at a re-raise, thinking that someone perhaps rivered the nut flush. The full house surprised me.

After Green Valley, we went back to … Bally’s! I texted Lucki Duck to see if he was up for some donkatude, but it looks like he didn’t get the message until the next morning. So … Neo and I hit up some more $1/2 NL. We had some fun guys at our end of the table, and that along with a young, busty blond cocktail waitress serving plenty of beer and Jaeger Bombs, we had a great time.

Final day (Wednesday): Lucki Duck and I arranged to meet at Bally’s poker room (his choice – I swear!). We played some $1/2 NL, then went to lunch with his wife, Neo, and Poker Queen. As Neo and Lucki have written, it was a great lunch with just a group of people talking about families, jobs, etc.

After lunch, it was time for me to leave. I hopped a cab to the airport and had a nice flight home – in early again (thank you Southwest!). I got home at about 1:00 am Thursday – just enough time for a few hours sleep before leaving for work at 7:30 am.

So … what to make of this trip? Although I enjoy playing at Bally’s, sometimes the horrific beats tend to dent your stack. That is the price for playing with some really horrible players, I guess.

The best part of this trip, however, was very clearly meeting and hanging out with some online poker friends. Downing beers with Hyppie and Jiggy was great. I wish I had had more time to talk with them.

Playing poker with The Neophyte and Lucki Ducki and meeting their wives was priceless. In case you have never met them or played against them, Neo and Lucki are great guys that I am proud to call friends. They both have wonderful wives and are bright, witty, and solid poker players. So many times I have gone to Las Vegas by myself to get away from the world and have talked to very few people. This trip felt more like I was playing poker in a modified home game where the experience was much more valuable than the bottom line profit or loss.

They were, of course, very charitable in letting me blab on and on with my endless stories. But … that is part of what friends are for, right?

Next Las Vegas trip: Unplanned at this time, but probably sometime during the WSOP.

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