Monday, December 31, 2012

Out With The Old And In With The New

As 2012 is quickly nearing a close and 2013 is about to begin, I would like to thank all my readers, my poker buddies, my online friends and my family for this past wonderful year. I am truly appreciative of what I have been given in this life and try not to ever take for granted life's many blessings.

Best wishes to all of you for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013!

lightning 36's List of All Time Favorite Songs: #1

With all the songs from my younger years dominating most of the music I listen to (I am a huge British Invasion fan, obviously), a song came along later that captivated me and was one of the crutches for me when I was going through the worst period of my life in 2000. I swear that if I hadn't been able to drive around in my car blasting out and singing Third Eye Blind's first album I would have gone totally nuts.

It is interesting that my favorite song has to do with depression and suicide -- fitting for someone who has spent his entire professional career as a counselor. I have seen Third Eye Blind in concert many times and always live for the moment when Stephan Jenkins sings the opening line from the song.

Favorite song #1: Jumper

I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend.
You could cut ties with all the lies
That you've been living in.
And if you do not want to see me again,
I would understand.
I would understand.

The angry boy,
A bit too insane,
Icing over a secret pain;
You know you don't belong.
 You're the first to fight,
You're way too loud,
You're the flash of light
On a burial shroud;
I know something's wrong.
Well everyone I know has got a reason
To say
Put the past away.

I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend.
You could cut ties with all the lies
That you've been living in.
And if you do not want to see me again,
I would understand.
I would understand.

And well he's on the table
And he's gone to code,
And I do not think anyone knows
What they are doing here.
And your friends have left you,
You've been dismissed.
I never thought it would come to this,
And I, I want you to know

Everyone's got to face down the demons.
Maybe today,
We can put the past away.

I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend.
You could cut ties with all the lies
That you've been living in.
And if you do not want to see me again,
I would understand.
I would understand.
I would understand...

(I would understand)
(I would understand)

Ya ya ya ya ya...

Can you put the past away?
I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend.
I would understand.
(I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend. )
I would understand.
(I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend. )
And I would understand.
(I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend. )

I would understand.
(I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend. )

I would understand.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

lightning Strikes Back!

I went back to the St Croix Casino yesterday to play a little (well, as it turned out, a lot!) more $1/2 NL. When I got there mid-afternoon, there was only a short-handed game going on. I bought in. I once again took a kick to the jimmy when I raised with Q-Q. I got called by a guy who was apparently tilting. The flop was non-threatening, and I pushed out a big raise. I do not remember the exact sequence of moves, but I ended up all in against the shorty. It turned out that he pushed the rest of his chips in after the flop with A-3os. All he had was an inside straight draw and an over card. You can guess what happened next: The turn was a 3 and the river was a 3! Losing that $130 pot was painful. The game broke up shortly thereafter and I was forced to play slots and bum around for a few hours until more poker players came into the room.

The evening session was one of those times when no cards came and nothing connected on the flop. I was very frustrated. I saw that the room would be awarding $100 high hand bonuses each hour from 10pm until 2am, so I hoped I would be able to stick around. There were only two tables going.

I was getting frustrated and called off a number of chips with 9-9 vs A-A. Yuck. As much as I was trying to stay patient, the hours of nasty beats and dead cards took its toll. Finally, I looked down to see K-K when I was in the hijack. I raised and was three bet by the button, a guy who appeared to be a solid but very aggressive player. I raised again and called his all-in push. I then weakly asked "Do you have Aces?" He nodded. Shitski on rye! However, I spiked a King on the flop and boated up on the river. Not only did I get a much needed double up, the hand was the high hand for the 11:00 p.m. hour and I got an extra hundo for that 45 minutes later. However, a few hands after my KK > AA, I was in a hand with 9-9. The flop: Ac, Kc, 9. Bazinga! I felted a guy who never did show what he had. So now the guy who had crappy luck all day, moments away from being felted, had a huge stack of chips. Such is pokah!

I failed to mention in my earlier posts that the poker room uses racks of yellow $2 chips for its $1/2 NL game. It takes a little getting used to.

I stayed until 1am, knowing that I had a 30-40 minute drive in the winter Wisconsin night. I left feeling a lot better than I had several hours earlier.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Northern Wisconsin Update

Poker was okay yesterday fun-wise, but being a results oriented person I was disappointed. The absolute worst player at the table busted my pocket Queens when he hit a set of 4's, then proceeded to go on one of the biggest luckfest heaters I have ever seen. He hit every flop and caught every card. He took a lot of money off several players. You could just feel the frustration.

The only other big pocket pair I got was Queens again. However, the woman to my right had Cowboys. Thank goodness the flop had an Ace or I might have lost much more. As it was, I lost part of a buy-in -- so meh.

If anyone has ever thought about playing at St Croix - Turtle Lake, I would recommend you try it out. The room has ten tables, but only two were in use most of the afternoon. The dealers were fine -- very informal, did not make any mistakes that I saw. The tables and chairs are okay -- nothing special. However, some of the real positives of the room are free food (hot dogs, cookies, danish, fruit, soda) and rest rooms right in the poker area.  The room is open Thursday-Sunday and features a few decent looking tournaments.

It is snowing outside and there has been a bit of accumulation on top of the regular base of snow here. I hope to make at least one more trip to St Croix -- mebbe even this afternoon.


lightning 36's List of All Time Favorite Songs: #2

Almost like having a mid-life crisis, the song that had been my favorite for years and years was replaced over ten years ago. It is a song I loved ever since I was a young lad.

The group The Left Banke was credited with introducing a new style of music -- "baroque rock" into the 1960's. The idea of including lush string arrangements into pop songs was quite unique, and it gained the group some attention.

The song itself is a classic love song -- heavy on longing, pain, drama. As with many songs, it was inspired by a woman. Until I started compiling this list I never searched to find the inspiration for the song. However, I was able to find a picture of the beautiful blonde who generated such heartfelt feelings.

Favorite song #2: Walk Away Renee 

And when I see the sign that points one way
The lot we used to pass by every day

Just walk away, Renee
You won't see me follow you back home
The empty sidewalks on my block are not the same
You're not to blame

From deep inside the tears that I'm forced to cry
From deep inside the pain that I chose to hide

Just walk away, Renee
You won't see me follow you back home
Now, as the rain beats down upon my weary eyes
For me, it cries

Just walk away, Renee
You won't see me follow you back home
Now, as the rain beats down upon my weary eyes
For me, it cries

Your name and mine inside a heart upon a wall
Still finds a way to haunt me though they're so small
Just walk away, Renee

You won't see me follow you back home
The empty sidewalks on my block are not the same
You're not to blame

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Meanwhile, Up in the Great White North ...

This may be the south for many of my friends living in Canada, but yesterday I took a trip 450 miles straight north to go to my mother-in-law's house in northern Wisconsin. As we started seeing snow and kept going further and further north, I watched the temperature dial in my vehicle go down ... down ... down. It was a balmy 2 degrees Fahrenheit when we went to bed early this morning. Sheesh.

Today the family womenfolk decided to go to lunch together, leaving me with nothing to do. Can you say poker at the St. Croix Casino? I have not played poker there for five years. Cash games only this afternoon, so we will see how the out-of-town donk does against the locals and other visitors.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas Mystery -- Help Solve It

My wife is a Christmas fanatic. She has always said that Christmas is her favorite holiday of the year. Several years ago, she decided that just a few outside lights wouldn't do. Although she hasn't yet reached superstar status with Christmas decorations, she did believe in getting lots of lights. Several years ago, a picture of our old house was featured in the local newspaper.

The worst thing that ever happened at the old house was that some people got "creative" with the positioning of our reindeer when we were not around. One time someone broke one of the reindeer, which certainly incensed my wife. However, this year a new low was hit.

On December 8, we were getting ready to do our traditional tree trimming party (wife and kids trim the tree, I watch!) with a twist. Mrs. lightning invited a Jewish friend and her family who had never trimmed a Christmas tree before. So ... after the Chicago Bears football game was over that day, my wife attempted to turn on our lights. A few years ago she bought one of those fancy gizmos that play Christmas music and synchronizes the lights with the music. She loves it, but I actually think that it is annoying. Anyway, the lights and music did not go on. She went outside to find that someone had stolen her master unit. To take it, someone had to actually dig it out of the ground. Needless to say, Mrs. lightning was very upset. We called the police and filed a report so at there would be  record of the theft, knowing that our chances of getting the unit back were next to nothing. I sent an email to my homeowners association board (I am a member) to let them know about the theft.

What my wife did the next day surprised me. She made a large wooden sign and put it in our front yard. It said, "To the person who took my light controller: I forgive you. Merry Christmas."

Mrs. lightning continued to put on the lights every evening, but it just wasn't quite the same without the music and the flashing synchronized lights. And then ...

On December 24 at about 3:00 a.m., my son came home after being out with friends. I was still up but a bit groggy in front of my laptop. He came into my darkened bedroom and had something in his hand. Much to my surprise, it was the master unit. He found it in front of our garage door.

Later that day my wife put the unit back in the light system and we were able to have our lights and music on Christmas Eve as we opened our Christmas presents.

It was nice to get the unit back, but now we have a great mystery: Who took and then later returned the unit, and why? The return was the confusing part. I do not know if we will ever know what happened. Did the sign guilt someone into returning it? There are a number of possible suspects. What do you think?

1) Random person from outside the neighborhood looking to steal the unit as a prank or to sell it. If so, why would they return to the neighborhood, and why would they return it?
2) Friend(s) of my son who did it as a prank. If so, why not just return it right away? Also, the lights didn't belong to my son.
3) Neighbors -- who have complained in the past about my wife's straw garden and other bullshit things
4) Kids of neighbors (ages -- around 18-24)
5) Overly enthusiastic member of homeowners association board (some of them don't seem to care much about civil rights)
6) Random person from neighborhood
7) Someone with a beef against my wife. Mind you, she generally ranks much less on a butthole scale than her husband.  : o )

Guesses, deductions, and theories are welcome as comments.

And finally ... Merry Christmas to all my friends. Best wishes for a joyous holiday season.

lightning 36's List of All Time Favorite Songs: #3

Songs that deal with emotion and feature vivid imagery often become part of my regular playlists. Favorite song #3 is the earliest song in my lifetime that I can remember that had raw emotion and imagery in spades. Depression almost always makes for a great song, and mixed with the idea of dealing with an untimely death ...

Credit the Rolling Stones with making a song that takes you into a deep, dark place ....

Favorite song #3: Paint It Black

I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes

I see a line of cars and they're all painted black
With flowers and my love both never to come back
I see people turn their heads and quickly look away
Like a new born baby it just happens every day

I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my red door and it has been painted black
Maybe then Ill fade away and not have to face the facts
Its not easy facin up when your whole world is black

No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue
I could not foresee this thing happening to you
If I look hard enough into the setting sun
My love will laugh with me before the morning comes

I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes

Hmm, hmm, hmm,...

I wanna see it painted, painted black
Black as night, black as coal
I wanna see the sun blotted out from the sky
I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted black

Sunday, December 23, 2012

lightning 36's List of All Time Favorite Songs: #4

Everyone seems to like lists -- best this, most popular that. I decided to post a very short list -- my top four all time favorite songs. It will become pretty clear where I look for my music as you see my selections. Maybe it will even get you to start thinking what your favorites are. For those of us who have lived through many different eras and movements, selecting your all time favorite can be a difficult, but ultimately fun experience. Today's post starts with #4.

People familiar with 1960's and 1970's popular music should know the band Badfinger. Badfinger was signed to Apple Records and had a string of hits in the early 1970's. They were poised to become perhaps one of the monster bands of that era. However, in an all too familiar story, this group of musicians knew very little about management and the music industry and was robbed and thrown into legal hell by their manager. Sadly, the creative genius of the band, Pete Ham, could take no more and hanged himself. Eight years later, bass player and singer Tom Evans also hanged himself. A group with so much talent and so much hope was ruined by greed and mismanagement. The sad legacy of Badfinger shows a band that suffered a fate it certainly did not deserve.

The first time I remember hearing this song was when I got together with two friends while in eighth grade to have a record trade -- an attempt to swap some of our 45's (do my younger readers know what a 45 is?). I immediately fell in love with the main guitar riff. Now, 40 years later, it is still one of my favorites.

Favorite song #4: Baby Blue

Guess I got what I deserve
Kept you waiting there, too long my love
All that time, without a word
Didn't know you'd think, that I'd forget, or I'd regret
The special love I have for you
My baby blue

All the days became so long
Did you really think I'd do you wrong
Dixie, when I let you go
Thought you'd realize, I would know, I would show
The special love I have for you
My baby blue

What can I do, what can I say?
Except that I want you by my side
How can I show you? Show me a way
Don't you know, the times I tried

Guess that's all I have to say
Except the feeling just gets stronger everyday
Just one thing, before I go
Take good care, baby let me know, let it show
The special love you have for me
My Dixie dear

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's Been Around Forever, But It's Still True, Right?

Wine her.
Dine her.
Call her.
Hold her.
Surprise her.
Compliment her.
Smile at her.
Listen to her.
Laugh with her.
Cry with her.
Romance her.
Encourage her.
Believe in her.
Cuddle with her.
Shop with her.
Give her jewelry.
Buy her flowers.
Hold her hand.
Write love letters to her.
Go to the ends of the earth and back again for her.

Show up naked.
Bring chicken wings & beer.
Don't block the TV.

Why oh why do we try to complicate it?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Las Vegas Trip Report - Part 4: Man In Black, Mr Subliminal and the Royal Flush

As my Las Vegas trip began heading toward a conclusion, there was still time to get away from The Strip one last time. My brother and I decided to head a little south on Monday (Dec 3) to check out some places we had never been. First stop: South Point Casino.

South Point seemed like a pretty nice place, in my opinion. I liked the fact that there was an openness to the casino. I certainly did not feel cramped in there at all. We went for the lunch buffet, which we thought was probably among the best values we had experienced this trip. The chefs seemed to go the extra mile in terms of creating food a little different than standard Las Vegas buffet offerings. I thought that the fish dishes were particularly creative. While at South Point I got a tweet or text message from TBC. He was upset (naturally) when he found out I was at South Point. Of course, I had already verified that he had left Las Vegas, and I had no idea that he was only a short drive down the road since, of course, he never told me of his secret hiding place.

We bummed around South Point for a bit, playing a few slots, then headed toward the M Casino. What a nice place! We once again bummed around on the slots and then headed back to The Strip.

I had a tentative plan to meet up with Man In Black for dinner. I gave him some options and we decided to grab one of my local favorites, the steak special at Ellis Island. Aside from the inexpensive steak, the Ellis Island special also includes a beer from its micro-brewery. And yes -- it was the best beer that I had while in Las Vegas. Better yet, MIB and I joined the slot club at Ellis Island and both came out winners playing with casino money! After some great conversation, I dropped MIB off at his place and headed back to Harrah's.

While at Harrah's I saw that I got a message from Mr Subliminal, whose blog I have followed for several years. I was hoping to meet him my last trip to Las Vegas, but I misplaced his phone number and was unable to get in touch with him on my extra "sick day" of the trip. We arranged to meet at the Venetian poker room.

Keeping cognizant of Mr Subliminal's frequently mentioned homelessness, we went to the back of the poker room to chat, availing ourselves of the free coffee. He was pretty well versed on the old-time bloggers, and we had quite a nice time sharing a little blogger gossip. Mr Subliminal tends to keep things on the down low, so therefore I do not have a picture of him to publish. Unfortunately, there just was not time for him to show me his makeshift home in the famed Las Vegas underground second city. Maybe next time.

Mr Subliminal had to leave (probably staying just one step ahead of the Venetian security force) and I decided to play a little $1/2 NL poker. The Venetian poker room has just never been a great place for me. Aside from once winning a SNG to get into a deep stack event, I have never liked Venetian, mostly due to the d-bags I seemed to always have at my table. But ... I was there and thought I'd give it another try for at least an orbit or two.

My table seemed okay, but a guy at the end who had a big stack decided to put me to the test. He re-raised me once and I folded, but I vowed to not get pushed around. I played some solid poker, caught some cards, and was having a good time. At some point an Australian named Simon joined the table, and he made some loose calls, especially as the number of Fat Tire dead soldiers increased. That led to my biggest hand of the night. I raised with Ah-Qh and was called by Simon. The flop had an Ace, 10h, and a rag. I raised and Simon re-raised. I told him "I don't believe you for a minute" and called. Actually, I was concerned that he played Ace-rag and hit two pair (but the way he was playing he might have been on a naked bluff), but I figured I had outs. The turn was Kh. I raised and Simon again re-raised. I had him covered by quite a bit and just decided to shove and take my chances. He called. The river: Jh! This was my fifth Royal Flush -- two online (True Poker and Bodog) and three b&m (two at Bally's Las Vegas and now this one). Looking back at how the hand played out -- and I wish I had written down the details re stack sizes, bets, etc -- it really came down to not believing his story, or just not giving a crap since I was running hot that night, it was my last night, and I had been having crappy luck most of the trip. But ... I won, and now had a pretty hefty stack o' chips.

The game continued on and I continued to do well, but then some players at the table changed and the dynamics also changed. One funny thing is that a guy sat down who was apparently hopping from table to table, sitting in on hands and leaving before the blinds got to him. At a $1/2? It was fitting when he got noticed and fled the poker room, for he had been a dick to Simon, who everyone wanted to keep happy since he was drunk and spewing. When the hustler came to the table, Simon was rambling on in a friendly fashion and called the guy "friend." He looked at Simon and said "I'm not your friend." Sheesh -- exactly the kind of d-bag I usually run into at Venetian.

I cashed out with a very nice profit and headed back to Harrah's to catch a little sleep before my late-morning flight.

All in all, I had a fun but unprofitable trip. Next potential trip to Las Vegas: Super Bowl Sunday.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

For Sale: First Generation Pandora Handheld

Any geekified gamers out there wanting to get their hands on a Pandora? Back when Pandora was still in its initial production phase (each one made individually), my son saved up his money and we pre-ordered one. About, oh ... 18 months later, he finally got his Pandora. Unfortunately, he lost his enthusiasm for the Pandora during that time and barely played with the device.

This is information about Pandora that I borrowed from other sources:

From's homepage:

Fully open system - not locked down in any way.

Play, Code, Compile, Surf the Net. Anywhere.

Boot from internal NAND or any other OS from SD Card

Created to be used with Linux.

Driven by Community

Wifi, Bluetooth, USB 2.0 Host, TV Out, Two SDHC Card slots

Fast CPU and 3D GPU, 800x480 4,3" Touchscreen.

Dual Analogue and Digital gaming controls

43 button QWERTY and numeric keypad

Around 10+ Hours battery life (yes, really!)


Texas Instruments OMAP3530 system-on-chip

ARM Cortex-A8 CPU @600 MHz

PowerVR SGX530 @110 MHz

IVA2+ audio and video processor with TMS320C64x+ DSP Core @430 MHz using DaVinci technology

256MiB DDR-333 SDRAM

512MB NAND flash memory

Integrated Wi-Fi 802.11b/g

Integrated Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR (3 Mbit/s) (Class 2, +4dBm)

800×480 resolution touchscreen LCD, 4.3" widescreen, 16.7 million colors (300 cd/m2 brightness, 450:1 contrast ratio)

Dual SDHC card slots (currently supporting up to 32GB of storage each, supports SDIO)

Gamepad controls with 2 shoulder buttons

Dual analog nubs; 15mm diameter, concave, 2.5mm travel from centre

43 button QWERTY and numeric keypad

USB 2.0 high-speed port (480Mbit/s) capable of providing standard 500 mA current to attached devices, USB On-The-Go supporting charging Pandora

Externally accessible UART for hardware hacking and debugging

Internal microphone plus ability to connect external microphone through headset

Headphone output up to 150 mW/channel into 16 ohms, 99 dB SNR

TV output (composite and S-Video, both for PAL and NTSC)

Brick prevention with integrated bootloader for safe code experimentation

Runs the Linux kernel (2.6.x for older versions, 3.2 in the latest Super Zaxxon firmware from July 2012)

4200 mAh rechargeable lithium polymer battery

Estimated 8.5–10+ hour battery life for games, 10+ hour battery life for video and general applications, 100+ hours for music playback (with maximum power management), and 450+ hours in suspend-to-ram

Dimensions: 140.29×83.48×29.25 mm (5.523×3.287×1.152 in) (314 ml) (5.51×3.27×1.06 in)

Mass: 320 g (0.71 lb)

My son currently has the Pandora listed on ebay. However, any offers or inquiries could also be sent to me.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Las Vegas Trip Report - Part 3: Sunday -- The TBC Experience

Unidentified blogger and TBC at Harrah's Joliet in May 2012

I first met Tony Bigcharles last February. Before that I had seen him playing poker late at night at O'Sheas and Bill's a year ago but was on my way back to my room those nights and was only looking to hit the sheets. Actually, I had played at the same table with Tony for a few seconds in Bally's on a previous trip but he left immediately after I came to the table. Since the first meeting we have exchanged some texts, calls and tweets, and spent a little time together. I guess that I was not quite expecting the drama that would become part of my Las Vegas experience on this trip.

My trip to Las Vegas had been planned for a couple of months -- pretty much just after my September trip was cancelled at the last minute. Since Tony had been living outside of Las Vegas late in 2012 I was thinking that I might not see him this trip. However, shortly before my trip began, Tony told me that he planned on coming back to Las Vegas for a short weekend. Of course, not being one of TBC's "upper tier" of friends, he would not disclose where he was currently located. Seeing that I was renting a car this trip and could have mapped out any driving routes ahead of time, keeping the mighty secret from me was a bad strategy for someone who could have used some free transportation. Of course, it is not like TBC has a reputation for making +EV decisions.

Once I arrived in Las Vegas, the text messages and tweets began. Early on, I received the following text message: " i mean ill tell you where i am if u promise to make the (secret information!) min drive." Hmmm ... sorry Tony, but if you won't even tell me where you are you need to find someone else to fetch you. At one point he texted me something like "Can you pick me up here?" My response: "I don't even know where here is!" Tony continually questioned me about my lack of internet access since I was still able to get texts sent from Twitter whenever my name was mentioned. Suspicion seems to be his middle name. He wanted me to check his blog so that I could read the post he wrote about me, and as the next few days went on my lack of checking became part of my failure to be a friend in his mind. Heck, he seemed so possessive that at some point I texted him "I am NOT your girlfriend."

I don't think that Tony ever fully understood that I had a full plate of things to do and many people to see in Las Vegas. His plan was to get into town on Friday and sleep, waiting until Saturday to do anything. I had come into town partially to play in the tournament for poker bloggers on Saturday afternoon, effectively covering most of that day. However, that did not keep Tony from suggesting that I donk out of the tournament early so that I could see him. Whaaaaaat???? Additionally, just before the tournament started, I got three rapid fire texts from Tony: "Get here fast"; "Will feed u"; and "Bring car." I had to explain that the tournament was getting ready to start, and no -- I was not entering a tournament just to make a quick exit to see him. Unfortunately, Tony, without saying anything to me, decided that he would take a three-hour nap so that we could do something together that night. My plan, as explained in my last post, was to catch the Aerosmith/Cheap Trick concert if time permitted.

When Tony found out I was going to the concert, he appeared hurt and miffed. He texted me "Why is seeing me bottom of list? Should be whole reason for coming." Ummm ... no! I made plans to meet him at Riviera the next morning to play some Limit poker. He warned me that I would have to be there well before 10:00 a.m. or I would not get a seat.

I usually do not wake up in Las Vegas until the late morning at the earliest. On Sunday I woke up at about 9:30 a.m. in Harrah's. Sheesh -- no way to make it to the Riv on time. I texted Tony to let him know I was on my way. With no shave and no shower, I threw on a Chicago Bears outfit and walked down to the Riviera. Fun times were to come!

When I got to the Riv, Tony was playing in a $1-3 NL game -- the only table running. He was very unhappy that a Limit game was not running. He had already lost some money and wanted to leave. I stopped to say "hi" to Mark, the poker room manager who had gone far out of his way to help Tony earlier in the summer. Tony then told me that he called Mark a liar for telling him there would be a Limit game. Of course, I raked Tony over the coals for crapping on a guy who had tried so hard to help him. He was definitely not happy that I told him that he was a shitty friend and treated friends like shit. Tony then talked about eating at Wynn, and his "generous" offer was to have my brother and I pay him 50% of the amount of the comps we would use. We declined.

Tony asked if we could drive to a casino that had a spread game, so we walked back to Harrah's, meeting my brother along the way, and went to the Suncoast Casino and got on the list for the Omaha 8 spread game. My brother and I were hungry and invited Tony to eat with us at the buffet, which caused Tony to get agitated. He was upset that I wouldn't wait to get seated, but who knows how long that might have taken? He apparently got worried that my brother and I would want to leave right after eating (don't expect Tony's thinking to make good sense) and he threw a hissy fit outside the poker room. I got pissed and just held up my hands, walked away and told him to stay away from me. I headed to the buffet to join my brother, and Tony soon came after settling down.

After eating (Tony did a quick dine and dash to the poker room), I went to the poker room and saw Tony seated at the spread game table, already looking comfortably ahead. I got seated a short time later. He played pretty well and seemed to be hitting every hand, soon gathering a mountain of chips. However, he fell into his usual routine of jabbering away at the table, analyzing hands and irritating players, and counting out the pots out loud and ticking off the dealers. If Tony could just learn to not talk so much he wouldn't alienate players the way he does.

Following an afternoon of spread Omaha, we headed back to The Strip. During the ride, my brother delighted in telling TBC that he met and voted for Obama! Fun times. We were tempted to rob Tony and leave him in a ditch, but decided to show some mercy. We dropped him off at Circus Circus, where he headed up to his room to sleep. My brother noted that after going to the Riv, carting Tony's butt to Suncoast, paying for his lunch, playing cards all afternoon and driving him back, there were a few words that he seemed to forget, like "thank you." I guess I wasn't expecting that, having spent some time with him on other occasions.

Tony told me he was heading back to his secret location in the morning. The next day my brother and I headed out to some off-strip casinos. I exchanged a few texts with Tony, who seemed to be somehow expecting that I would be driving to his secret location -- wherever that was. Later on when I tweeted about meeting up with some other friends in Las Vegas, he started sending me a number of tweets and texts -- angry that I was meeting with other friends, that other people weren't wanting to visit with him, that he was "a little fed up with everyone," that Carmen ignored him, that he did me a big favor by trying to set up a meeting between Carmen and me and he didn't even get a thank you from me (of course I had no idea he was trying to do this), that he did not get one text from me that evening, that none of his "fucking readers" were commenting on his blog, upset people wanted to meet me and be friends but not him, upset I ignored him, upset he didn't sell his airline voucher, upset I wouldn't drive to hang out with him that day (I still do not know where he was!), upset about other friends who have failed him, upset about how he wrote a post about valuing my friendship and I "made no effort to find a way to read it," upset how he did everything he could to make me feel special, ... So yes, sometime during all these tweets and texts I finally reached my limit and sent him a tweet that simply said "gfy." I was having a great time kicking ass in a Venetian $1/2 game and was tired of his rants. Can anyone blame me?

So ... how does one process all this stuff -- attempt to understand it all? I think Tony had good intentions, but similar to his gambling problems, he is his own worst enemy. I appreciated his desire to show his friendship and spend some time with me. Unfortunately, spending time with Tony can sometimes be problematic. He has been 86ed from many casinos visitors might frequent, including the Caesars and MGM groups. Since his bankroll is now so low, he is unable to play any $1/2 NL games. Outside of gambling, he appears to have very few interests. He did not seem to understand in the least that his goals for my visit and my goals for my visit were completely different. He expects that you will do things on his schedule and in his way. When he felt slighted (and certainly there was no intention on my part to do so) he appeared to get angry and possessive, culminating in the guy who "valued my friendship" taking me to task in his blog for not living up to his specifications for friendship.

To his credit, when we did speak on the phone the other day he did say he was sorry that things got all messed up with my visit. I still consider Tony my friend, still support him, and wish him well despite his tendency to be his own worst enemy. So, sorry to disappoint if anyone was looking for a "revenge post." Like many who are friends with Tony, I have learned that there are some unpleasant things that one must accept if you deal with him. Being a professional educator, I hope that, if nothing else, my visit gave him some insight into dealing with friends.

And that, my readers, is some insight into the TBC Experience -- lightning36 style!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Las Vegas Trip Report - Part 2: Saturday -- WPBT, Wil Wheaton, Cheap Trick and Aerosmith

Saturday, Dec 1 began with a trip to the Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood. Weekend brunch for $30? What a ripoff! Thank goodness my brother and I were eating with Total Rewards comps. I had remembered the PH buffet as being really good in the past, but this time it was certainly nothing special. There was a decent selection of international food, especially Middle Eastern, but nothing that would make me come back again.

It was then time to go to Aria to register for the WPBT tournament. I got there quite early and was probably one of the first to register. After walking around Aria for quite some time, I came back to the poker room and ran into blogger central. Although a number of people no longer blog, those that regularly do that were playing included Rob, grrouchie, Grange and Poker Grump.

I was excited to see that sitting next to me at my beginning table was Wil Wheaton. I met him shortly before the tournament began and was looking forward to seeing if he was the "okay guy" other bloggers seemed to think he was. I was kind of quiet at first and didn't want to start asking a ton of questions. However, he did make a funny comment about the constant music my phone was making whenever a text or tweet came in, which was quite frequently for a short time. At one point everyone else had folded and I found myself with Q-Q in the small blind. I, of course, raised and Wil said "I know you're just stealing my blind." He threw out his cards and I said "You really think so?" He answered "yes." I then showed my pocket Queens, and we had a good laugh about that.

Wil had gotten short stacked and I was at about starting stack. I got A-J in position and raised. Wil went all in as did Michelle Stillman AKA The Wife. I called. Wil tabled 10-10 and The Wife showed Q-J. The Jack on the flop made it look like I would scoop the whole pot, but The Wife pulled out a tie on the river (don't remember the other cards). So ... we both knocked out Wil. His bounty to us -- slot vouchers! The Wife's was for about $.18 and mine was for $.05. Generous guy!
As suggested by ck, I got Wil to sign the voucher during a break. It is a classic: "SUCK IT   Wil Wheaton."

People mostly backed down from my raises, enabling me to steal some pots. Things were going really well until I was moved to a new table. I was almost faced with a tough call when Grange went all in and I looked down to  see ... the Spanish Inquisition! I knew I would be way behind, but how could I NOT call Grange with his favorite hand? Fortunately for one of us, Astin called and I was forced to fold. Astin doubled up Grange. If Astin had not called would I have looked for blogger history by busting Grange with the Spanish Inquisition? I do not know the answer to that question. And you know what would have happened? I would have felted Grange with a straight. Yowsa!

Unfortunately, the tournament came to an end when I pushed all in with K-Q and was called by CJ, one of the big stacks, who had originally raised to steal with some bullshit hand like 10-7os. He hit a 10 on the river and BOOM -- instead of getting a much-needed double up I was out in 19th place.

Depending on the length of my run in the WPBT, I had a potential plan for the late evening: a concert across the street at the MGM Garden Arena. The artists: Aerosmith and Cheap Trick. I busted out of the tournament about 75 minutes before the concert was to begin. After a short break and quickly getting past the usual depression when one gets felted in a tournament, I headed toward the box office, pretty confident that there would still be tickets available. I was just looking for a cheap seat and scored one for under $60 -- quite a bargain in my book.

First to play: Cheap Trick. I had already seen Cheap Trick twice -- once in the 1980's and once in the 1990's. What rock and roller does not love this great band out of Rockford, Illinois?
Cheap Trick was ... Cheap Trick, meaning a great rocking set. The set list from the concert shows an interesting mix of songs, highlighted by an excellent ending trio of I Want You to Want Me, Dream Police and Surrender.

After a short break Aerosmith took the stage. I had never seen this group in concert before and remember first really hearing about them in 1975. I was living in Springfield, Illinois when Aerosmith had its infamous concert there on July 13, 1984. That was the concert where Steven Tyler fell off the stage during the first or second song and the concert was stopped. People in attendance did not get their money back but could get an Aerosmith Greatest Hits album for their ticket. This show was essential in Aerosmith getting sober -- at least for a little while!

I was totally blown away by how great of a concert this was and what an outstanding front man Steven Tyler is. If only blogger and good buddy PokahDave could have been there to swig some brews and take in the tunes with me! The concert featured another kick ass set list that ended with Dude (Looks Like a Lady), Walk This Way, Dream On and Sweet Emotion. All in all, it was one hell of a concert!

Tired and hungry, I staggered out of the arena and saw Rob playing poker at MGM. I decided to join him at his table and made my one big "OOPS" poker moment of the trip. I raised in early position with Q-Q and was re-raised by a woman in one of the blinds. I had seen her being aggressive in earlier hands and decided to push out a big stack. She went all in and I called. She showed A-A and I begged for a suckout that I would not have been too proud to accept. It didn't come, and I decided that it was time to get something to eat and call it a night. The plan for the next morning was to get up in the morning (something foreign to my Las Vegas experience!) and head down to the Riviera to play some spread or limit game with TBC.

Oh yeah -- TBC -- the guy who had been sending me texts and tweets and texts and tweets ... Yes, I will have a bit to say about my experiences with Tony Bigcharles this trip.

Coming up: TBC, Man In Black, Mr Subliminal and the Royal Flush.

Las Vegas Trip Report - Part 1

Time just seems to fly sometimes. I have already been back from Las Vegas for four days. One week ago at this time I was sitting in the MGM Grand Garden Arena, in that pleasant zone of having heard one band and waiting for the headliner. But, ahhh ... what about starting from the beginning?

My brother, the King of Komps (although I should now carry that title within the family) and I flew out to Las Vegas on Thursday, Nov 29. The flight was unremarkable, which is always good news. Southwest just has a way of coming through time after time. This trip I decided to rent a car so we could get around Las Vegas if we wanted and also to possibly assist the mangy arse of a blogger who shall remain nameless. The rental car agency of choice was E-Z Rent-A-Car. This well-deserved link was for outstanding value and service. If you need to rent a car in Las Vegas, check out this small company.

Thursday night was just an average night in Las Vegas. All Vegas Poker was having its weekly showdown at the 8:00 p.m. Bally's tournament, and I headed to Bally's after dinner to see about getting in. However, when only a handful of AVPers showed up I decided not to play. AlaskaGal was there (thanks again for the AVP shirt!) and Rob. Perhaps I should have played as I watched Rob take it down. Way to go!

While at Bally's I got some messages from NumbBono. We thought about heading down to the WPBT bloggers gathering at Excalibur, but found out that there were only a few people hanging around later in the evening. Instead, Numb and his sweetie Marlo came to Bally's to visit with me. I stayed for a little more poker afterward, then decided to call it a night relatively early -- at least for a guy who likes to play into the wee hours of the night.

On Friday my brother and I decided to get off the strip and joined Rob for lunch at The Orleans. Shortly afterwards, it was time to head to Aria for WPBT mixed games. I had almost forgotten how much fun it was to play limit games and get run down at the end. ck, who is an absolute demon on the felt, probably took about a rack and a half of chippies from me.

My plan was to play a bit of the mixed games, have dinner with Carmel, then possibly head down to the Fremont Street zipline, but I got a last-minute call from Carmel cancelling. Fortunately, I was able to catch my brother before he ate dinner so that we could head for one of our Las Vegas guilty pleasures -- the big honkin' and greasy but good fish and chips at The Original Fulton Fish Frye in New York-New York. It did not disappoint!

After gorging on a massive plate of freshly fried fish, I headed to Rob's hangout, the "BSC" (Big Strip Casino -- ala Rob's obsessive use of pseudonyms) to play a little poker and meet Rob's fantasy woman, "Prudence." I was at a different table than Rob while we waited to see if Prudence would make an appearance. She did and was seated at Rob's table, but I continued to stay at mine. After treading water for some time, I actually cashed out and was ready to head out. However, after chatting briefly with Rob and Prudence, I decided to take a seat at their table when  a couple of players left. I was able to double up + when I got A-A and played the hand with an aggro player quite well. This was one of only two poker highlights for the trip as I had a run of bad cards most of my sessions.

Coming up: The WPBT tournament, Wil Wheaton, Cheap Trick and Aerosmith, TBC, Man In Black, Mr Subliminal and the Royal Flush.