Tuesday, February 26, 2013

For Horny Old Guys in Indiana ...

I'm talking to you, Ken P. Fixate on these ...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Is the Continuing Saga of Tony Bigcharles Finally Reaching a Breakpoint?

There is snow on the ground outside my Illinois house. The weather is crisp – cold, but giving a hint that spring is not too far away. This is part of the usual cycle in central Illinois. There is always the anticipation of change coming in the future, but for the present you have to cope with things as they are. This leads me into familiar territory – a post of the latest status of Tony Bigcharles aka TBC aka @sevencard2003.

I have written several posts over the past year that have dealt with Tony in one way or another. However, as I anticipate the change of seasons, I also wonder what the near future will bring to Tony.

If you are not familiar with TBC, I suggest a quick read of a post I published last fall in an attempt to write a brief summary of the TBC situation.

Tony’s current status is that his “role” (his description of his gambling bankroll which is in reality very close to his net worth) is right at $800. It recently was below $700. However, As Tony’s monthly expenses (largely computer and cell phone charges) continue to come and his housing options become even more limited, he has almost run out of ways to keep himself afloat. His reluctance over the past year to take the steps necessary to apply for and receive government assistance has left him in a difficult situation.

Despite numerous friends who continually root for Tony and supply him with worthwhile life advice, Tony has chosen to go his own way, oftentimes making decisions that have resulted in the horrid situation he is in now. In the past, Tony has shown quite a knack for escaping a total bottoming out and has rebounded in one way or another. Now, however, it appears to be only a matter of time before Tony has absolutely no money at all.

Has Tony finally run out of time with his sockroll? Will a temporary reprieve at his mother's house allow him to build up his resources? Can a last ditch effort at applying for government assistance get him help before he contemplates returning to a life of homelessness, panhandling, and living totally on the edge?

The sockroll continues to decrease. The clock continues to run ...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fitting Poker into a Busy Life Schedule

I passed up playing my Saturday night home game this past weekend (the subject of a future post, perhaps?), and other commitments prevented me from making the trip to the nearest brick and mortar poker room – a 90-minute drive away. It is not so much the drive to the poker room that is the issue – it is the drive back late at night after playing several hours of poker. The easy solution that evening was to crank up the computer and search for some cyber gaming action via online casinos. Poker, of course, was at the top of my list, but readers of this blog know that I have a fondness for slot machines that goes waaaaay back . Additionally, I have found that the video poker sirens have been calling, drawing me near. I am helpless to resist! I can see the future and know it is probably just a matter of time before I become the second biggest video blackjack degenerate in the blogosphere. A great place to play online is www.bellerockentertainment.com. There is certainly something to be said for gaming while lying in bed with your laptop. No 90-minute drives and a full array of household amenities at your disposal!

However, a major issue I have been dealing with is time. Ever since I took over as head of my department at work last spring, my available time and energy has dwindled. Making a trip to play poker depends on many variables, and it has been easier to do without. However, as I saw on my last trip to Las Vegas, the lack of time at brick and mortar poker tables (can’t count my freewheeling home game as being “real poker”) greatly affected my bottom line. Although my overall play was pretty good, I made a number of errors I probably would not have made had I been playing decent competition more regularly. Unfortunately, my sense of altruism at work led me to agree to keep the directorship for another two years. What does that mean? For starters, it looks like I had better keep my laptop handy …

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Remembering Richard Speck

Last night I was watching a television special on Stateville Correctional Center, located near Joliet, IL ... not too far from where I grew up. In my teens, I remember chuckling at the signs on the local highway near Stateville: "Do not pick up hitchhikers."

One of the more infamous prisoners at Stateville was Richard Speck. People living in the Chicago area in the 1960's should instantly remember this man, responsible for the rape, torture and murder of eight student nurses one fateful night in Chicago in the summer of 1966. Speck was a creepy looking guy, certainly the kind of guy who could breed fear in the public.

Speck left plenty of fingerprint evidence at the crime scene, and a massive manhunt was underway within days after the murders. That summer I was staying a few weeks at my grandmother's house in Kenosha, WI. I can still remember hearing reports that Speck was reported to be headed toward Wisconsin. My grandma lived in a placid area just off Lake Michigan, with no other houses in the immediate area. I can still remember being scared that Richard Speck might find us and kill us!

Speck was caught, convicted, and sentenced to death -- a penalty that later was changed to 400 to 1,200 years in prison. If only there was enough time! Speck died in prison in 1991, but the Speck story did not stop there.

In 1996, a prison video shot in 1988 surfaced, showing Speck with female hormone-enhanced breasts, wearing women's underwear, snorting what appeared to be cocaine and then performing oral sex on another prisoner. In the video he boasted "If they only knew how much fun I was having, they'd turn me loose."

Prison video begins at 2:12

However, it appears that Speck never really did have the last laugh. In order to survive in prison, he had to basically become a prison bitch for the rest of his life -- something that his previous life tells us would certainly not be what he would choose. He escaped the death penalty, but experienced a living hell in prison -- not a bad outcome for the hideous crimes he committed July 13 and 14, 1966.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Misc Las Vegas Musings and Observations

As I looked back on my most recent trip to Las Vegas, a number of random thoughts came to mind:

1) The number of d-bags at the poker tables was as great as any I have experienced in previous trips. The commonality they had was a bitter disposition or an uncalled for nastiness in dealing with fellow players and the dealers. Nobody, however, was really over the top except for the skinny little Asian guy who wanted to get into TBC's face.

2) Since poker can oftentimes be a social game, some of the most fun moments on my trip came from banter at the table. At Bellagio, the table consisted of mostly USA players, a couple of Aussies, and a dealer from Europe. The subject became soccer, or, as most of the world calls it, "football." The dealer was trying to defend his position that soccer is the best sport in the world. Of course, in the USA, many of us see soccer as being boring and filled with drama queens. One of the guys at the table said "Soccer sucks. Look at the guys from the USA at the table. They are all smiling." And we were.

At Luxor I was sitting next to a Baltimore Orioles fan. We were discussing the Birds and their recent history when the dealer entered the conversation. He was a baseball encyclopedia! We were talking about Orioles teams from the 1960's and 1970's. How can you get into that kind of conversation in everyday life?

3) If I lived in Las Vegas I would so be hanging out at places like the Boyd Gaming casinos (Sam's Town, The Orleans, Suncoast). Lots of cheap eats options, plenty of other things to do (bowling, movies), calm, laid back atmosphere.

4) Got a back scratch from a female dealer who commiserated with me when I saw that my pocket Kings were going to go down in flames when an Ace appeared on the flop. Being friendly and nice sometimes yields benefits!

5) Over the years I have made a number of trips to Las Vegas by myself. I just don't like doing that nearly as much anymore. Having a base of friends who live in or are frequently in Las Vegas makes for a nice vacation -- at least for me.

6) I rented a car this past trip -- the third time in my last four visits, I believe. I enjoy Las Vegas much more when I am able to explore. Many of my trips in the past rarely saw me leaving The Strip.

7) Ever since I became director of my department at work I have made few visits to casino poker rooms. I felt like my play really suffered because of that this past trip. I am thinking that I might need to ditch my current "home game," which is starting to have some issues, and instead invest in more trips to the closest casino.

8) Southwest Airlines remains high on my list of excellent businesses. On my return trip from Las Vegas we left a tad late, landed in nasty weather with ice and snow coming down, and still got in a few minutes early.

9) I really hate it when individualism is lost in the casinos. I always enjoyed different themed casinos as opposed to generic ones (see Luxor --> new Luxor and Aladdin --> Planet Hollywood). The different Caesars Corp poker rooms all had different high hand jackpots and other promotions. Now they are all part of the same bad beat jackpot promotion.

10) I totally crashed on slots this trip. Some trips I have even used slot winning to make up for poker losses. This trip, however, I took a huge bath on the one-armed bandits. I played some of my usual nickle slots and some Deuces Wild video poker. Not one really decent score. Maybe I should try video blackjack?

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Congratulations to Gotye for winning Record of the Year at the 2013 Grammy Awards!

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Las Vegas Super Bowl Trip Report

Having been to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl twice before, I know that going for the top game of the year will be a good time. This trip did not disappoint.

I flew out of Chicago-Midway the morning of the Super Bowl and landed in Las Vegas sometime in the 10:00 a.m. hour. I made the decision to rent a car again this trip -- E-Z Rent-A-Car, which I highly recommend -- and headed to Bally's to check in. I was hoping to take part in the great poker promotions at Mirage, but by the time I got there the waiting list for $1/2 NL was already over 40 people long. No way there was going to be much movement with all the promotions, so I played at the new poker room at Harrah's, which is now just inside the area leading to Mirage and Casino Royale.

Frankly, I liked the old Harrah's poker room because it was glassed in and therefore not smelling of smoke. The new room at Harrah's was okay, but there was nothing particularly special about it. I played during the Super Bowl (no great promotions like last year) and then had dinner with Rob at KGB, Kerry's Gourmet Burgers. I decided to have the buffalo chicken sandwich (watching my eating habits a bit this trip) and Rob had a tasty-looking burger. The food was reasonably priced for a strip burger joint, and the sandwich and fries were great. It was nice to visit and share some poker and Las Vegas gossip with Rob, who always has good info and stories to share on his blog and in person. We then checked out the new poker room at The Quad, which seemed to be pretty much same old same old as the former IP poker room, except that it is now located near the entrance to Hash House A Go Go.

Rob decided to head to MGM Grand to play while I opted to go back to Bally's to either crash for the night or play poker. Guess what won out? I ended up the day with a modest profit -- not a bad start.

After sleeping late Monday morning, I caught a healthy lunch at one of my go-to spots, the Sidewalk Cafe in Bally's, which is a great place for breakfast or lunch. My afternoon session at Bally's was meh -- no cards. I headed over to Sam's Town late in the afternoon to meet up with Tony Bigcharles and play some $2/6 spread limit poker, which I had not played for some time. We were later joined by Poker Johnny -- first time meeting him. John is a great guy and certainly one of the many friends who help look out for Tony. We had some fun talking sports and then gave Tony a hard time about using comps to pay for friends' meals. Good times. I told Tony that the Lightning Taxi Service would be charging him $1.30 per mile.  Gotta cover my poker nut somehow, right?

Tony and I then went to the Stratosphere to play some $1/2 NL. We were at a relatively fun table and I did quite well, including busting Tony when he monkey shoved preflop after my raise and I called with A-K. As I suspected, he shoved with A-Q. He caught a Queen on the flop but I rivered a King to win the hand. The fun part of the night was that some skinny little Asian guy got all upset with Tony, first because Tony's eczema flaking pissed him off, then somehow because he decided that Tony and I were conspiring to take all his money. Frankly, I don't even know why the guy was playing since he rarely paid attention to the game and kept slowing it down. A reg at the table told me that the guy is usually very nice but sometimes picks out people to hate and gets nasty with them. Personally, I think the term bat shit crazy applies here. It was kind of funny and I was having fun staring him down as security were leading him away. I decided not to egg things on further since you never know how bat shit crazy some guys might be. I took Tony home and decided to call it a night.

Tuesday provided to be a rarity for me -- waking up early in the morning! I decided to have breakfast at the Orleans casino and spent quite a bit of time playing some Deuces Wild video poker. The machine I played was doing pretty well for me and I was hoping to hit the four deuces. Thanks to Lucki Duck and The Neophyte's wife, the Poker Queen, for helping me find one more way for the casinos to get my money!

I caught a late lunch at a place I saw on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives: Yayo Tacos. I decided to order a combo taco combo that included Pescado (pollock), Texano (barbeqed pork), Shanghai (wasabi-seared steak, black bean salsa, napa slaw) and Pollo (chicken). The tacos may look small on the plate, but they were filled to the max. If you are looking for a different twist on tacos, this is the place!

I then headed to Sam's Town to play a little more of the limit spread game with Tony. He did quite well and so was I until I ran into the biggest problem with limit poker: guys who chase with shit and hit a lucky river. This one really crappy player ran me down three separate hands and kept me from having an excellent session. Tony and I then decided to head back to the Strat to try the NL game there again. This time things were quite different.

Have you ever had one of those nights when everything goes wrong? That was what happened to both Tony and me. For those who are hand analysis people, I am not attempting to do that since I din't write down details and can't remember crap. It started when I raised with 10-10 and got two callers. The flop was 8-6-6. I raised and was called by a guy from Vancouver who seemed to be a decent player. The turn was an 8. I raised again and he reraised me. I had to decide if he hit a card or was playing me. I guessed wrong. I jammed and he called, showing 8-something. Ouch. I few hands later, feeling slightly tilted, I raised with K-K. I got one caller. The flop looked innocent and I raised. He pushed all in. The price was right to call. Damn -- he hit a set of 10's. Finally, a few hands later, I was in a hand with pocket 8's. The guy who creamed me with the 8 was in the hand as well as Tony. I hit a set on the flop and, seeing an innocent board, decided to smooth call with a plan to jam the rest on the turn. The turn was a Jack, the other guy pushed and I called. He hit a set of Jacks! So damn -- he two-outed me twice. I could have shoved after the flop and likely gotten him to fold. Normally I wouldn't try to get tricky with my set. Got greedy and paid the price. Frankly, I felt like a huge donk and just wanted to leave, which Tony and I did shortly thereafter. Overall the clientele at the Strat seemed a little sketchy, so I decided not to return this trip.

I took Tony home and headed back to Bally's. I got in a wild game that started when a guy came to the table and announced "I have two Mercedes in my garage." Yeah -- a guy just looking to give money away. He had a typical pattern -- played loose, hit some cards (cracked aces twice and got a huge stack), then donked off almost everything. We caught him ratholing six $100 bills and he had to put them back on the table. I was losing a bit and then got a double-up plus when  I called his big preflop bet with A-Q. An ace hit the flop and everyone checked, including me. When it got to Mr. Mercedes, he put out a big bet and I monkey shoved. He called with pocket 6's. Heh. Not a bad ending to the night.
On Wednesday I headed to lunch with Man in Black. In-N-Out Burger was the scene of the crime. My selection: Double-Double Animal Style. Caught up on MIB's latest happenings (we think we have found the perfect girl for TBC!) and dropped him off and then headed to Bellagio to play. I had not played at Bellagio for many years. I had heard that the service at Bellagio had gotten better. In my opinion it certainly has. I was greeted at the desk and seated at a new table opening up. Bellagio is still a tight fit and the cocktail service was slow, but I was at a fun table. I flopped Broadway and was doubled up by the table donk who was giving money away. I cashed out with a nice profit.

Poker Johnny recommended playing at Luxor, so I played at this room that was part of my early poker training. I lost part of a buy-in when my Kings went down again to a set of 10's (I was channeling my inner Rob), but played some great poker and left with a nice profit. I plan to play at both Bellagio and Luxor next trip. I was going to drive to Sam's Town but was alerted that Tony and DonkeyTax were going to Hooters. I got there first and lost a bit when I ran top pair, good kicker into pocket Aces. Although Adam, the guy running the "room" (small corner of Hooters with two tables) was great, I didn't like the environment. Hooters, the old San Remo, looked dated and run down. It was fun playing with DonkeyTax, another one of the guys who helps look out for Tony. But ... I needed to eat left to make a second trip to In-N-Out. Yes -- I am hooked! I got back to Bally's and played at a wild table with two guys having a pissing contest. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take advantage of it.

A special shout out to balt999, fellow blogger, Las Vegas poker dealer, and good guy. It is aways nice to have a number of friends in Las Vegas to chat with during your trip to provide interesting conversation and make the trip more enjoyable.

Thursday was uneventful as I had just enough time to wake up, get packed and head to the airport. I left a sunny, 68 degree day in Las Vegas to return to an ice and snow shower in Chicago. Why did I come back?

So ... I had a good trip, but was somewhat frustrated since I thought my poker suffered because of my lack of play and practice at home. I really wish I had a decent poker room in the area. I will have to make more of an effort to play at the room nearest to my home.

I had a good time hanging out with Tony. Only one problem: I forgot to collect on my taxi bill. So TBC ... as I figure it:

26.76 miles @ $1.30/mile = $34.79. You can pay me via PayPal. That's just the kind of guy I am.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Heading Out to Las Vegas

The long journey away from home and to Las Vegas begins this afternoon. I'll take an early morning flight to Las Vegas Sunday morning and hope to get in some exciting Super Bowl poker action at The Mirage. If not at The Mirage, then perhaps Harrah's or some other room offering fun specials.

If I am lucky, I will cross paths with novelist Rob Sunday night, before he heads back home. I trust that at some point I will be slinging some cards with TBC somewhere on Boulder Highway, or better yet, terrorizing the O-8 regs at Suncoast Casino.

Other plans are currently up in the air. I will not have internet access but can take text messages from those who have my cell phone number. If anyone tweets me (@lightning36) I will be notified on my cell phone.

I'll be staying four nights at Bally's. If at all possible, I'd like to hit three food places: Yayo Taco, Rincon De Buenos Aires and In-N-Out Burger. No fancy places for this guy!

I will be happy to bask in some of the nice Las Vegas weather. Temperatures are supposed to be in the 60's. That sounds pretty good as I gaze out at a patch of snow outside my bedroom window.

So ... if you are in Las Vegas this coming week, hit me up!

Catch you on the flip side ...