Thursday, December 29, 2011

Last-Minute Trip to The Shoe

On Tuesday I was all set to make a 90-minute drive to visit with two old college friends. However, one of the group had a last-minute business matter to attend to and the meeting was postponed to Wednesday, a day I considered for making a poker room run. So ... I made a quick decision to swap days, jumped in the car, and headed up to my favorite poker room at Harrah's Horseshoe - Hammond.
The drive up to The Shoe (2+ hours) is always pretty boring. After listening to more than I could take of Chicago Bears news (sigh) on the radio, I decided to make a few calls to pass the time. First call: The Crafty Southpaw, to throw a Beatles trivia question or two at him. Gary include my little challenge in a blog post. Yes, I will admit that he knows his stuff. Next time I will make the questions a little harder. Second call: Very Josie, figuring that she might be on her lunch hour. Good guess! Nothing of note in that conversation -- at least that I want to reveal! Were any ears ringing?

Soon I was at The Shoe and seated at one of the many $1/2 NL tables. Two players were spewing money and I was happy to grab some of it. Surprisingly A-A and A-K (flopped TPTK) both held up for decent pots. However, the spewers both busted and the table seated some better players, so I thought it was time to take a break and grab my free lunch buffet.

After a somewhat healthy feast (buffets just aren't the same when you are watching what you eat pretty carefully), I headed back to the poker room. I was seated next to a woman who was talking all kinds of funny and crazy shit including dropping F-bombs every few minutes. At first she was irritating, but later became more entertaining when she toned it down a bit. She was having one of those days where every hand loses. She didn't help herself by slow playing her A-A, allowing me a free turn card which improved my lowly 4-4 to a set. However, the table lucksack crushed me for half a buy-in when I thought my two pair were good, only to find out that he flopped a boat -- with his freaking J-3 os!

However, if there is one thing I have learned about cash games, particularly at The Shoe, it is to be patient and wait for your chance to get your money back in big chunks. This I was able to do (QQ vs JJ and set vs ?), and the evening session also was successful. Knowing that I still had to make the long drive home, I cashed out shortly after 10:30 pm, another successful poker day at The Shoe under my belt.

Monday, December 26, 2011


A post today in sevencard2003's (also known as tbc, Tony, or TonyBigCharles) blog reminded me of this great classic song by Donovan.The first video cotains the lengthy spoken lead in before the familiar chorus begins. The second video is where most people recognize the song -- the famous Billy Batts scene in Goodfellas.

In case you read Tony's lengthy IM transcript ... lol! Atlantis, anyone?

I have been to Atlantis Paradise Island before. I was surprised to find that, despite hosting some of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure tournaments, it does not have a poker room! Quite a surprise.

Now go home and get your fucking shinebox!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Wishing all the best to my online poker friends and others whose paths I have crossed these past few years.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Heart and Voice of an Angel

He would have been 65 this week. Rarely has God gifted such a voice.

The Weight

It is a bit amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it. After my health scare in September, I knew that it was very important for me to radically change my eating and (lack of) exercise habits. I guess the fear of dying is quite a motivator!

What I did:
* Virtually eliminated red meat from my diet
* Switched to low sodium foods and tried to minimize salt in my diet
* Increased consumption of raw vegetables and fruit and cut out most high fat/high sodium junk food
* Ate low fat alternatives whenever possible
* Stopped patronizing most fast food joints. I'll still occasionally get stuff for my kids, but I have mostly stuck with Subway (and it's relatively healthy alternatives) when I need a fix
* Participated in a cardiac rehab program for seven weeks
* Continued to walk and utilize fitness centers after the rehab was completed

The results are, for me, just short of amazing. I feel great. I did not realize how sluggish I had been feeling prior to the mild heart attack. The weight loss has been outstanding. I had a lofty goal that I set for myself for Christmas and I will come pretty close to reaching it. I have now lost 27 pounds from the highest weight I had reached right before the attack. The other day I looked at myself naked in a mirror (calm down, Josie --  no pictures!) and started yelling out "My butt! My butt! Someone stole most of my butt!" None of my pants fit me anymore, but others who have lost a bunch of weight have told me what a great problem it is to have to buy new clothes. Heck, even some jeans I bought a month ago so that I would have something to wear at the WPBT weekend seem too big now.

I grew up a skinny kid in a family of thin people, but put on weight for the first time during the college years. I took it off at the end of my senior year in college and through graduate school. My early years as a professional were filled with athletic activities, so I was in great shape until about the time that we started having kids. Work, kids, and other stresses seemed to conspire to slowly add on weight over the years, and my lifestyle changed from active to more sedentary. Cable internet and online poker sure did not help.

So ... at least for now, I am back on the right track. I went at this the only way I knew how -- full force. I have slacked off a tad now -- more toward "reasonable" behavior -- in the hopes that I can continue many of these healthy lifestyle choices for years to come.

I wrote this post today not to solicit a bunch of "atta boy" comments, but to hopefully encourage anyone else who might be reading this post and heading down the same bad path that I traveled to think about making changes before they end up being like me -- a doofus who had a heart attack because he thought it wouldn't happen to him.

Today's task: head out to Kohl's to buy some new jeans! Although I hate shopping for clothes, this might be kind of fun today.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Will it play in Peoria? A Little Poker at Par-A-Dice Casino & Gadzooks64's Home Game

This past Saturday my wife was hosting of one of the many types of sales parties designed to draw in people, have them eat a little food and swill a little wine, then order a bunch of crap. No sir, for me the party meant that it was time to get out of Dodge. Fortunately, I had gotten an e-mail from online poker buddy gadzooks64, saying that she was having a poker tournament in her home that night. Although zooks lives just over 100 miles away, it seemed like the time was right. Not wanting to make the 200+ mile round trip just to possibly donk out of her tournament early, I decided to leave a few hours early and play some $1/2 NL Hold Em at the Par-A-Dice riverboat casino in Peoria, IL, which was on the way to zook's house.

My history at Par-A-Dice was not pretty. In fact, I do not belive that I have ever finished ahead in the few times I have played there. But ... what the heck, it was time to write a new chapter in that tired old book.

Finding a parking space was at first difficult since the casino was having the final night of a huge promotion that included a car giveaway. The place was packed. However, I successfully waded through the crowd and got to the poker room right before a new $1/3 NL table was to open. I didn't even know they sometimes spread $1/3 there. Anyway, I recognized a few of the locals (it feels like sometimes I am the only "visitor" playing there), was ready for play, and got down to business. If only the cards cooperated. In 1 1/2 hours of play I got exactly one decent starting hand, A-K, and missed the flop, as did all of the speculative hands I played. I pissed away a little mobney via blinds and missed shots, but essentially got and did nothing. Blah.

I got to zooks' house just as the tournament was about to start: 14 runners (I think) with one rebuy available through the first four levels. I caught a nut flush on the river and was able to extract a decent amount of chips out of one player. Then the big hand hit. I had position and limped in with K-9, a hand I often play due to my previous affiliation with the now-defunct K9 Poker Tour. The flop was King high and I bet and got a caller. The turn was a 9, giving me top two. A flush draw was also on the board. The other guy in the hand made a huge raise. Knowing that I had the protection of a rebuy, I shoved and was called. Unfortunately, my opponent had flopped a set and took all my chips. Rebuy!

Using my supreme roach skills, I stuck around and stuck around until we got to the final table. Now, in the past my luck at zooks' home tournamanets had been terrible. I played in two or three, and in the last two I suffered horrible suckouts. This time things would be different, though. It was time for lightning36 to show he could suck out with the best! I pushed all in after a flop (with K-9 again!) with second pair only to find that I was behind top pair. However, a 9 on the turn and a King on the river gave me a boat. Yowsa! Later on, I went up against zooks, whose huge stack started dwindling, and hit a lucky four-flush on the river. I finished the tournament in third place, which certainly was not too bad considering I had been a short stack ninja for much of the tournament.

As I drove back home, I heard the siren's call from Par-A-Dice all the way out on I-74, turned off at the exit, and decided to give the poker room there one last try. There were several $1/2 NL games going, and my first table quickly broke up, moving me to a table with lots of loose action. I felted one guy who decided to call my $100 bet (top two) with a flush draw and gutshot straight draw. I pushed all in after the turn and he called. I thought I was dead when the river hit the low end of the straight draw, but I guess the guy's straight draw was a gutshot, so kudos (and mobney) to me. A bunch of other nondescript hands followed, and I finally left so that I could get home before the sun came up. Most importantly, I finally won at Par-A-Dice!

So ... my bad streak at one poker room came to an end and I was in the money in a tournament that I should not have cashed in except for luck. Not a bad night ... and certainly better than listening to the chatter generated from the sales party my wife was hosting. Yowsa!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Back Home ...

Nothing like doing the ol' 900 mile round trip in 30 hours routine -- home to Mayo Clinic to home. At least I got to have a few beers with good buddy OhCaptain in the middle of the trip.

My son continues to be cancer-free and my mother-in-law is still hanging in there, so things are going okay for now. The prognosis on my mother-in-law is still uncertain, however. My wife is also back home.  This has been a challenging past few days for everyone.

Thanks for the well wishes from some bloggers and some other friends. I hope to get things at home back on track tomorrow.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Run Bad Continues

I was hoping to start on my WBPT report but the end of this week has proven to be quite challenging. People who know me know that I bitch about water problems all the time. Well ... it happened again! Something in the basement is not working properly and there was, thankfully, only a relatively minor water incident. Always water!

Feeling a bit run down after the WPBT weekend, I picked up a cold and have some nasty congestion. Passing up an excellent photo op here, btw! This would not make that much of a difference except that a family emergency had us running every which way today. My mother-in-law, who has had her share of serious medical problems over the years, has had a turn for the worst and might not make it this time. As a result, my wife left town in a hurry to be with her mom. That also, unfortunately, changed my weekend plans. Instead of spending a calm Sunday at home watching the Chicago Bears' football season go down the drain or logging in some poker time at Harrah's Horseshoe Hammond, I will be trekking up to OhCaptain country to take my son to his medical appointment at the Mayo Clinic. Nothing like a 900+ mile round trip up north in winter, I always say! I decided not to take my Mustang since I currently can't open the passenger side door (see previous post), so I sure hope the car my oldest daughter drives, a RAV4, will do the job.

I hope your life has been a little less challenging than mine the past few days!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Post-WPBT Hijinks: Do these things really happen in threes?

Okay -- so my WPBT report begins AFTER I dropped my rental car off near the Las Vegas airport yesterday. My brother had been sick right before we left. I will spare you the gory details. He was using the restroom prior to boarding when the Southwest gate representative began to announce that the flight was over-booked and they were looking for two passengers to be bumped. Before he got very far I knew what was coming next and I made a mad dash to the counter. I was checking out the details of the compensation when my brother returned. Still feeling sick, he said no, he did not want to wait any further at the airport and be stuck with C group boarding for the substitute flight, so we passed up the bump. Dang.

Our flight was uneventful and things were going fine until we got to my car in the airport long term parking garage. Dead battery. However, a call box was only a short distance away and we had the car jump started within minutes and were on our way. Good recovery.

I was back at work this morning having a nice uneventful day when I spotted a police officer coming toward my office. I had parked my car in a different area after lunch and just knew that someone hit my parked car. Bingo! Sometimes I would rather be wrong. Fortunately, the damage was only minor but will cost the insurance company just over $1000. Since my bumper will already be off for the repair, I just might spend a little cashish out of my own pocket to have some other minor damage repaired. I guess there is almost always some good to come out of bad things.

I hope your past twenty four hours was a little less eventful than mine!