Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Home Game #2 and a little Back to the Future

Night two of my three-game home game week is tonight. I have only played with this group once before, so I am still very unfamiliar with the players and their styles. I did find out, however, that the guy who bested me last time is a calling station who appeared to have a lucky night. If I had known him a little better I would have approached the final table a little differently. It looks like we will play a tournament with two tables followed by a cash game. Time for my run bad streak to end.

And ... I have brought back my blogroll from a link on my blog's main page to once again listing the blogs (with links, of course!) individually. I had saved the info from my old template and just copied it back in. Please note that I will be updating my list, so my more recent blogger friends are not yet on the list. I will link you up the first chance I get.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Gadzooks Donkathon & Mixed Health News

Home poker game week began for me on Saturday as I made the 100+ mile drive to the home of gadzooks64 for her home game tournament, perhaps appropriately named the Gazdooks Donkathon. Zooks actually had a decent sized crowd of 20 people for the game. The format allows for some donkriffic play -- $10 entry fee with one rebuy allowed if you bust out by the end of the fourth level, a $5 bounty of the head of each player, 7000 in chips, 20-minute levels, and blinds starting as low 25-25.

The game got off to a crashing start. By that, I mean one player (name not divulged here out of embarrassment), in getting his reading glasses out of his coat pocket, knocked a decorative plate off a wall above the coat rack. Despite the player's attempt to catch the plate before it hit the floor (he is semi-skilled in playing second base in softball), the plate met its demise. Heck of a start!

The short version of the tournament: I finished in seventh place. I was done in primarily by two hands. The first was in the early part of the tournament. I had been the ultimate card rack, including flopping a flush that was one card short of a Royal. My pocket Kings, however (note: calling poker blogger Rob), were cracked when one player at the table, who we were warned was the luckiest card player in the room, hit a set of 10's on the flop. I thought I was ahead the whole way and was shocked at the end of the hand to see that he had flopped top set. I was lucky I didn't lose most of my stack. The second hand happened just before we got to to the final table. We only had one rebuy at our first table and most players were relatively short stacked. I got pocket Jacks and raised. Another shortie pushed all in and I insta-called. He had pocket 10's. I had him covered, but we all knew what was coming next. After the flop he hit runner-runner to complete a straight on the river, taking most of my chips. If my Jacks had held I would have had a decent stack and would probably have cashed. As it was, we consolidated to one table and I finally had to push after 1 1/2 orbits when I got Q-J. Unfortunately, the Queen on the turn also gave the opponent a straight, sending me to the rail. The tournament paid the top four.

Thanks to Zooks for the invite to her home game. She has a great crowd of fun friends. I always have a good time playing there. It just sucks having to drive over 200 miles round trip, especially when gas starts getting near the $4.00/gallon mark. Oh -- and yes MOJO -- I did give Zooks a hug for you!

Blood Test
I had a blood test last week and the results were mixed. Along with exercising, I had been concentrating on keeping the sodium, fat, and cholesterol out of my diet. I did a great job on these per the test results. However, I had been told sometime earlier last year that my blood sugar level was too high and that I needed to decrease it. Unfortunately, that took a back seat with my focus on cholesterol and sodium. As a result, I now need to adapt my diet further and decrease my sugar and simple carb intake. In plain English, that means cutting out the sweets and snacks I love so much. Damn ...

So ... on the bright side, I am guessing that my weight, which had pretty much stabilized over the past several months (loss of about 25 pounds), will finally take that second dive that I have been waiting to see. I am pretty good at sticking to diets once I set my mind to eat properly, so I hope that future reports will include a lowering of blood sugar and more weight reduction. But damn -- I am looking so hot already that the females of the world will be clamoring for me even more. It is rough, I know, but what can one do?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Home Game ... and Home Game ...and Home Game

When I first started this habit of spending way too much of my time playing poker, I was fortunate to find a home game, courtesy of the father of my daughter's best friend. Most of the players were IT guys with the same employer, so I was definitely the outsider. Once I became a regular and adapted to their tournament, I was able to cash pretty regularly. We had a flat payout where the top three almost always got paid. I had a decent string of cashes at one point.

During the online poker heyday, we got to the point where the tournaments were pretty regular. We would play two or three times a month on Friday nights. This is where I first got really comfortable handing chips, although to this day I do not riffle at the table. However, we perhaps burned ourselves out on poker and some of the guys who were youngish married guys started having kids. Soon the home game faded into oblivion. For a short time I was without a home game.

However, I was soon to find out that some guys on my softball team played poker, and a new home game was born. We only played once at my house, using a tabletop poker board that had been found by a family member -- who shall remain nameless -- who saw it out on the street waiting to be picked up at a free community garbage hauling day. It was clean but a little warped, and my softball buddies loved chiding me about the shitty table. So ... my wife being the handyperson and creative genius that she is, decided to make me my own table during one of my trips to Las Vegas. After returning home from the trip, I did not go into my basement for a couple of days. When I went down I found this:

Talk about a nice surprise! My wife looked up plans on the internet, then ordered all the parts, hid them, then sawed, cut, hammered, and glued while I was away. Yes, it is very nice and has been great for the home games.

I was lucky, however, to have also get invites to two other home games. Poker blogger gadzooks64 lives about 100 miles away and has invited me to her home games when she hosts. I have gone several times over the past couple of years. I will be going tonight, perhaps wrapping a trip to the riverboat around it. Riverboat poker, home game, riverboat poker. Nice night!

A young woman with whom I worked invited me to her home game in town. It is an interesting crowd, including several university computer science grad students, many from different countries. I have only played this home game once, chopping second/third place and breaking even in a wild, loose cash game.

So ... I have gadzooks' home game tonight, the "international home game" Tuesday night, and I am hosting my regular softball/newspaper crowd game Wednesday night. Add in a few hours at the riverboat tonight and I should certainly get my poker fix over the next five days.

Here is to hoping that my big hands hold this week!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Updates: The Decision & Poker in Peoria

The Decision ...
Many thanks to the people who gave me food for thought regarding my work situation. Having met several of my blogger friends in person and having several more who I have not yet met but feel like I really know, I do have tremendous respect for the life experiences my friends have brought to the table.

All weekend long was just one big continuing conversation within me, weighing all the things I could, searching out as much information as I could. A common way I try to solve complex issues and problems, perhaps to my detriment, is to put everything into a massive equation and then hope for an adequate answer. I did not make my decision until less than 30 minutes until the deadline. Much to the surprise of my wife and my colleague next door, I declined the nomination to be head of my department. Of course, this puts everyone in my department in uncharted territory.

After speaking with several colleagues today, it appears that our next step, with administrative approval, will be to have facilitated conversations within my department to talk about some relevant issues and hopefully come up with a satisfactory solution. Of course, the administration could just say "tough" and make a decision themselves, but my place of employment usually does not work like that.

Poker Misery
As for poker in Peoria ... I tweeted that I saw some of the worst poker playing that I have seen in the past five years. There were terrible calls and beats, including a peckerhead who busted my Aces by calling off his entire stack to chase his flush draw ... and catching his card on the river, I regret to report. It seems that my run bad streak has started again.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Decision: Part Two & Poker Sunday

The Decision Continues
About two weeks ago, I wrote a post regarding a decision I had to make at work: to be or not to be "the man." I had been in charge of the department once before, but that ended 12 years ago. My previous post briefly discussed some of the issues involved.

As I wrote, I declined the nomination. Only one person accepted a nomination: the person currently in charge. She made a presentation last week, and then a vote was taken. She and a few others were shocked to find that, given a choice between voting for her or no one, she did not receive a majority of votes. We have one more round of nominations. I have been nominated again. I have until Monday at noon to decide whether or not to accept. There is no doubt I will get enough votes if I choose to run. To the best of my knowledge, I would be the only candidate.

I appreciate all the thoughtful comments I received on the initial post. But now the stakes have gotten higher. I would have tons of support from the people I would supervise, but do I want to give up my situation now, which is pretty nice? I am on the clock and have 28 hours to make my decision. Tick ... tick ... tick ...

Poker in Peoria or Hammond
When faced with lfe's burdens, I often find comfort in poker. I plan to head out to the nearest poker room (Peoria) or drive a little further to my favorite Midwest room (Hammond). I am even thinking about playing in a low cost tournament tonight, but 25% vig just seems outrageous.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Few Clearwater Notes

My wife and I are back home after a nice trip to Clearwater Beach, FL.  And yes – as we were leaving the temperature in Clearwater got back to being up to almost 80 degrees. Ah well …

We had a great meal at a place called Crabby Bill’s. In fact, as we were seated, Crabby Bill’s was being featured in a program on the Food Network.  After some broiled seafood and crab cakes, we left happy and satisfied customers.

I learned first-hand that you do not screw with pelicans. This guy was not nearly as friendly to me as I was to him.
Unfortunately, the one thing sub-par thing about the trip was the educational conference I attended. Outside of some interesting workshops on video gaming addiction and social networking , the rest were rather boring . But at least the trip was a killer!

We watched the sunset on the gulf from a pier, which was very nice despite the wind. Traditional sunset pictures omitted here.

It is back to work tomorrow. I think that I could get used to these two-day work weeks rather easily.

With my wife and son leaving on a snow skiing trip for the weekend, I should have some free time on my hands. The poker gods may be calling …

Monday, February 13, 2012

Deja Vu All Over Again Very Josie Style

As I recall, I won the initial Very Josie Tournament April 7, 2010 with the highest chip count on a chop. History repeated itself Monday night in the new version of the Very Josie. I outlasted a bevy of Josie's boy toys to win the initial New Very Josie. When it comes to the Josie, I am the first one in again!

I was never in a really great position until toward the end. After getting low in chips (a familiar story), I got some action on A-A, fading several outs that could have completed a flush and sent me to the sidelines. The big hand, however, occurred when I flopped two pair and raised all in. I believe that both grrouchie and Poker Grump called. Grump was hoping to hit a flush, but I am unsure what grrouchie had. My two pair held, grrouchie was out, and Grump was crippled. By the time I got HU against Rob, I had a huge stack and the tournament was mine to lose. However, I held on for the victory against a bunch of very good players. The best part, however, was that the hostess with the mostess, Very Josie (I'll even give her a link for hosting!) was knocked out early, leaving her cadre of male admirers to chat about her at the table with Josie being unable to defend herself. That was worth the price of admission!

But hey -- this was just a tiny little fun tournament among friends. To see what a REAL poker player looks like, check out the post by good buddy Memphis MOJO, who placed second in a WSOP circuit event in Tunica! Way to go, MOJO!!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rocking the Florida Coast

Clearwater Beach, FL

After a nominal two day work week since returning from Las Vegas, I turned around and headed south to Florida for a professional conference for work, accompanied by my wife. Yeah -- sometimes life is rough!

The morning started early with a 6:00 a.m. flight out of our town into Chicago. While waiting for our flight to Tampa, I couldn't help but get exasperated at a woman who was obviously drunk, talking loudly, and making a complete fool of herself at our gate. Fortunately, the folks at American Airlines told her that she couldn't get on a flight until she sobered up. She was not a happy camper.

Upon getting into Tampa, we were picked up at the airport by good buddy TheNeophyte. But man -- it was cold for Florida! However, we know the temperature will rise in the next couple of days.

After an afternoon of bumming around, we went out for an excellent dinner with Neo and his wife, who we call the Poker Queen. Neo and PQ selected an excellent place for dinner -- the Columbia Restaurant, which specializes in Spanish/Cuban cuisine. What an excellent time. I expect that having a couple pitchers of Sangria, which were made at the table, helped.

A few choice pictures:

TheNeophyte and the Poker Queen
lightning and Mrs. lightning

Lots of smiles. Perhaps the great conversation or the sangria had something to do with it?

Tomorrow is actually a work day for me. Some of the sessions/workshops I will be attending will include:

* Out of Control Behaviors: Sex, Gambling, Shopping, Food ... Are Behavioral Addictions Real Disorders?
* Helping Men Recover: A New Model of Treatment for Men; or
* Emotional Dysfunction & Sexuality in Recovery
* Working with Military Veterans and Their Families

It sure beats a regular day at the office. Cheers!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Quickie Las Vegas Trip Report

Report of my sojourn to Las Vegas February 5-8, 2012

Day 1
Flew out of Midway airport with one on my brothers, who I usually refer to as the King of Komps. Actually, he had not been getting many great offers lately but got one we couldn't pass up: three free nights at Caesars Palace which could be used on Super Bowl Sunday. Score!

I did not realize it, but the remains of the famous Bartman ball (after is was exploded, then used in some pasta sauce!)  is housed at the Harry Caray's Seventh Inning Stretch bar and grill at Midway.

The flight to Las Vegas was uneventful. We had a great cab ride to the hotel despite the driver being a Patriots fan. We checked our luggage and I visited a few poker rooms to see where I would play during the Super Bowl. The Mirage poker room was crowded, loud, and hot, so I opted for Harrah's, which had less likelihood of winning extra promotional money, but if you won, you would win much more. The room had a much better atmosphere. Unfortunately, although some pots were splashed with $599 (heads on kickoff), $400 (safety), and multiple $200 and $100 amounts, my tabled did not get drawn for even one splashed pot!

I ended up at Bally's (where else) after the game and had my first horrendous beat of the trip. The wait list grew quickly and a new table was opened. At least two of the players were about as aggro as you get for a $1/2 NL game, so I thought I would tighten up and just wait in the weeds for my chance. It came early when I raised in early position with A-A. I got maybe two callers before one of the aggro guys raised to $60. I hollywooded for a bit and raised to $120. Mind you now, I had tightened up and was involved in few hands. One guy folded, leaving the two aggro guys. One with a short stack called (it put him all in), and then the guy who raised to $60 said about me, "I'll put him all in." I snap called with about $130 behind, and no one turned over cards. I never did see what the short stack had, but after a relatively harmless looking flop, turn, and river, my only concern was that someone had K-K and caught a set. I turned over my Aces expecting to win, and chief aggro guy turned over 10-10. Unfortunately, he caught a 10 on the flop. He bet all in over a tight player's four-bet with ... pocket 10's? My tilt meter was on high and I had to leave the table. Fauck! I decided to call it a night earlier than I have in who knows how many years.

Day 2
Went with my brother to eat at the buffet I had been waiting to try, The Wicked Spoon in the Cosmopolitan.

It was as great as many bloggers reported from the December WPBT meeting and as other people have reviewed on yelp. There were a few items that were bland, but most were quite good. The desserts were probably the most impressive and creative.

Back to my home poker room of Bally's for some poker, then on to O'Shea's that evening to meet and play some poker with Tony aka TBC aka sevencard2003. After getting my A-A creamed when someone called my raise with Q-6 (yeah -- Q-6!) and hit two pair on the flop, I was able to get back in the positive category on the last orbit when my A-K kept improving the further the hand went along, culminating on making a boat on the river. Before heading out to catch a late-night meal with Tony, I snapped this picture outside O'Shea's:

Damn -- I look like a doofus but at least Tony looks good!

Day 3
I had already mentioned that I took the trip with my usual Las Vegas companion, my brother Jim, aka the King of Komps. Another brother, Tom, and his wife, Jo, drove up from Arizona to have lunch with us and kick around the Forum Shops at Caesars.

Jim, Jo, Tom, and me
I played at Planet Hollywood and had a great session when I got one of my few good starting hands, K-K. I raised to $15 and was re-raised by the guy on my left to $50. We had both been getting shitty cards, and I smelled the A-A pretty heavily. But I called and wanted to see a flop . The flop was beautiful -- two random rags and a King. I, of course, checked, he went all in, and I called. Nasty way for the guy to lose all his chips.

I had been getting messages from Tony to meet him at the Golden Nugget downtown, so I texted Poker Grump, who had said he would try to play some poker with me that night. I took the express bus downtown and got seated at Tony's table. Unfortunately, he busted out a short time later and left. About ten minutes after Tony took off, Poker Grump appeared (Clark Kent changing into Superman?). Grump had a good, short session. Watching him extract money from a less talented player at the table was like watching a surgeon remove a heart from a patient's chest. Excellent times!

After Grump left, I was able to connect back up with Tony despite my dead phone battery. He wasn't as amused with the street urchin trying to get money out of me as I was.

After that, I headed to ... where else -- Bally's -- for a late-late night session. Unfortunately, a guy who liked to limp with big pocket pairs won a couple of good pots off me and stopped my session from being very successful.

Day 4
Time to check out of our excellent room in the Augustus Tower at Caesars Palace. The room was really nice -- spacious, modern, and had an excellent bathroom. This picture does not do it justice:

The view from the room was also great. My brother said that it was pretty cool watching the fountains at Bellagio from the room at night. Unfortunately, all my evenings were spent in poker rooms, of course!

One always hopes the trip back home will be uneventful. Ha! We split a cab with someone else going to the airport (cheaper is always better!) and everything seemed normal. However, as the passengers on our flight were getting ready to line up to board, only one thing was wrong: the King of Komps was not there! Now you have to understand, it is usually me that is heading to the restroom or buying a quick snack right before the flight. Jim rarely does this. He called and told me that he went to grab a salad from Wendy's. Before he could return, there was a security breach in an adjacent concourse and he was trapped -- no one was let in or out. I boarded the plane a let a flight attendant know what had happened. It turns out that there were several other passengers on the flight who had also been caught. After some nervous waiting (and only ten minutes before the flight was scheduled to leave), the trapped passengers were allowed to leave and were all able to board the plane. Whew!

So ... this was the very abbreviated trip report. Several poker sessions and details were not included, like how my flopped straight lost to quad Queens or how many times really bad players chased gutshot straights ... and hit them! It was bad luck city this trip -- one of the rare trips to Las Vegas when I came home with less money than I had on Day 1. But ... it was still poker in Las Vegas, which beats work anytime!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Leaving for Las Vegas

Leg one of my first 2012 Las Vegas trip begins tonight as I drive up to the Chicago suburbs to my mom's house. My flight leaves mid-morning on Sunday.

Because Las Vegas is still one of the last meccas to not make free wi-fi readily available, I will leave my laptop at home and get by with my old school cell phone. However, I will send out a few tweets if there is anything worth mentioning. With a plan of playing poker during a Super Bowl promotion, possible meet ups with fellow bloggers and poker players grrouchie, Tony Bigcharles, and possibly others, and who knows what (it is Las Vegas, of course), there is always the chance for a good story or two.

You can follow me at twitter.com -- @lightning36.


Friday, February 03, 2012

The Decision

Well, it is not quite in the same league with LeBron's The Decision, but this week I have had to do some hard thinking about work. I usually choose not to discuss work on my blog or in any social media sites since there have been so many stories of people saying really stupid stuff about their job and getting canned or in trouble. However, I'll just write in a few generalities here, where the biggest danger should be boring any readers to death.

It is time to make a change in the leadership in my department, and everyone is looking toward me. To be honest, I would clearly be the best person to be in charge at this point. However, there are a ton of negatives to being head of my department. I would spend a significant amount of time in meeting ... after meeting ... after meeting, have to deal with some tricky personnel issues, and have a ton of work to do over the next three years as we will prepare to move into a new building that will soon be built. The compensation for the increased responsibility is abysmal. I had been in charge once before many moons ago, and try as I might, I was unable to negotiate the bump in salary that really should go along with the added responsibilities. In reality, I was very unhappy much of the time I was the boss.

Nominations are due by noon on Friday. I am positive that I will be nominated, maybe with others who also do not want the job. I have decided to decline the nomination, and most likely there will be no candidates who will accept, meaning that some additional thought and changes will have to go into the process. There is always a chance that having no viable candidates could somehow lead to a situation that no one in the department would like -- getting someone from outside to be in charge. That would probably be a last resort, though.

I feel torn because I have always been a team player and feel the responsibility to step up when needed. However, I also believe in fundamental fairness in work, and the lack of adequate pay for the position has always bothered me.

When I was in an earlier stage of my career I could always look past the pay because of the increase in status, the practical experience, and the positioning for even further advancement. However, I am now on the back nine of my career. If I eventually end up in the position, it will clearly be more for the institution and my coworkers, not for me.

Of course, this is the CliffsNotes version of the situation. There are many details I cannot share in a public forum.

So tell me ... am I a chump for even considering this?

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

2012 WSOP Schedule Released

Yes -- it is already time for all the real players and the dead money (who -- me?) to start thinking about the 2012 World Series of Poker. The events begin Sunday, May 27 and run through the middle of July -- not counting the main event final table which will be held later in the fall.

A schedule of events is available here. Cheers!