Saturday, August 31, 2013

"All I want to do is get out of Meijer and then get out of town"

Those were the words uttered early this afternoon by a tired, hot, frustrated unnamed blogger as he finished a round of chores in town and anticipated his upcoming vacation to Las Vegas.

I always pack at the last minute, and this trip is no exception. After some laundry gets done I should have that task well underway.

And what does a good, Catholic poker blogger do on the Saturday before a Sunday trip to Las Vegas? 1) Confession; then 2) Mass. You Catholic readers should understand. Just covering all the bases!

Sometimes the most difficult part of getting away is squaring everything else in your life first. I had to stay at work until 7:00 p.m. last night to get everything covered for next week. Good people are watching over the office for me, and hopefully there will not be a need to text me.

My flight leaves in 22 hours. I can already taste the first sip of the comped Bloody Mary on the flight to Las Vegas.

I am looking forward to several days of poker fun, cavorting around Las Vegas in general, and meeting up with some old and new friends.

Next post -- live from Las Vegas!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Little Bit of Grease

My wife was wondering if I would find it. After I got home from work and ate, I turned on the television to prepare for the Chicago Bears last preseason game. I had almost an hour before the Bears game, however, and as I surfed around my cable channels, I found it:

Strangely enough, I had never seen the play Grease. My first exposure to it came from the movie that was released when I was in college. Although the movie is really goofy, for some reason it has had a special place in my heart. Some random Grease notes.

1) One of my college suitemates, Greg, was an engineering student who also was a talented singer. He was in my college's choral group and would often sing their latest projects in our suite. He loved to sing the following:

 "Well, she was good -- you know what I mean!"
2) I never liked Stockard Channing after seeing her portrayal of Rizzo in the movie. Totally emotional and not rational. I could not shake this even when watching The West Wing.
3) Olivia Newton John - Cute, blonde, innocent ... certainly my dream then ... maybe even now.
4) And of course, I could not fail to mention the great song and lyrics which are near and dear to me:

 "You are supreme. The chicks'll cream for Greased Lightning."
5) One of my guilty pleasures: I love to watch John Travolta dance!
6) And just in case there are some other closet Grease fans out there, one last song:

Monday, August 26, 2013

Guest Post By Very Josie: WSOP Circuit Event at Foxwoods & Cash Games Fun

Her last blog post was over ten months ago, leaving a virtual trail of men nursing a broken heart. But now ... courtesy of Lightning Strikes, Very Josie is back! Tonight's post  is written by VJ herself, giving you the story of her recent weekend at Foxwoods.

Happy reading!

I played in a WSOP Circuit Event at Foxwoods last week.
It was the second to last event of the series so there were no second chances or do overs, and clearly, I could've used one. I was bulldozing my way through the tournament as I usually do. Within the first hour I was the chip leader at my table and after a few hours I was in the top ten and stayed there....until I went busto on one hand. Yep you read that right. I'll tell you the story quick, because it pisses me off to tell it. Grrr
I'd had a table change and found myself at a table with a bigger stack. At this point, my usual MO is to avoid such a stack as it was the only stack at the table that could felt me. Besides, I like to bully, so I always focus my attention to the weak. Anyhoo....I got 10-10. I'm the first to admit I overbet with med pocket pairs and this was no different. With a pair of tens, I always consider it a win to pick up the considerable blinds and antes. Overbet or not, while the blinds were 500-1000, I raised to 5,000 pre, and got one caller.
Flop: 10-2-2
BINGO! I bet a modest 6K and he calls. Yay! Fishie on the line!

Turn brings an 8. Time to use the big guns and take this fucker down. I bet about 28K. He thinks a while and calls. At this point, although I have more of my money IN the pot, than in front of me, I'm still feeling pretty good about my flopped full house.

River is a Q
There's only one more and that is all in. He calls! I'm thrilled!
And then he flips over Q-Q for a rivered full house. Freaking d-bag. I was shocked. Speechless and breathless also come to mind, yet I had to move (read get the fuck out) as I was just felted. GG Very Josie.
It took a while before I was able to play again. I took a looooong break, had dinner, had a trio of different sangrias,

then when I was feeling good, went to the cash game to get my money back. And I did. And then some. :) I played 1/2 NL, won a couple buyins, moved over to 2/5 NL, won a buy in there, and then went to bed. Got up, checked out and hit the poker room for one more cash session. It's that very last cash session that was the most interesting, so we'll skip to that. Besides, this post is getting long enough to rival Rob The Tit Guy's posts and I still have more to tell.
So the plan was to hit that final cash game for an hour or two max. I'd already won more than double what I'd lost at the circuit event tournament, so I sat down with $160, instead of my usual $200. I was sitting in the one seat next to the dealer, which was very enjoyable. I probably had about 4 different dealers in that session but my favorite was an older Asian man, and I should be so bold as to say that I too was his favorite....but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Sitting in the one seat....youngish, fratboyish kinda guy is sitting in the 2 seat, sambuca guy is in 3 seat, a friend of mine in 4....fratboy's friends were in 6 and 9. Very young, very good player in 5....let's call him Baby Boy, and Sunglasses was in 7 or 8.
Poor Sunglasses! First of all, he really sucked at poker. He played way too many hands and quite badly, he got lucky before I got there so he had a lot of money in front of him (heard about it ad nauseum) and he was to my right. I watched him play badly for a bit and decided I was going to be in as many pots with him as I could. In cash, I like to wait and watch before making my presence known. So I watched about 10 hands played before I had J-J. There were a few limpers, including Sunglasses, but Mama doesn't fuck around in a cash game. I raised it up to $15 and watched everyone fold but Sunglasses. Flop was 7 high and HE bet out. :) Nice. I raised him $30 more and he called. He checked the turn and I bet a bit more. He bet out on the river, which was a 6. Fuck. Did he call all those bets with a middle pair? I called him and he had ace high. Seriously. WTF. Yay me!
Then I played J-10, which everyone knows is the nuts. :) Flop was J-10-X. Sunglasses and I went at it down to the river and I won again. As I said, the more he played, so did I. It was awesome. I left him severely short stacked and Fratboy ended up taking him out when Sunglasses jammed all in preflop with K-K. At this point everyone knew J-10 was my favorite hand and Fratboy felted him with it. Ugly.

After that the Baby Boy, who was an excellent player, took down a pot of mine where I had 2 pair and he hit a flush on the river. Grrr I looked him in the eye and said, I will get all my money back, plus more. I did! He finally said "Stop it! You got your money back!" All the while Frat Boy and I were buds...high fiving and whatnot. I took a bit of his money but also had to fold pots to him where he bet out and I didn't connect with the flop. Nothing wrong with that until.....My friend in the 4 seat told me something. I went to pee (I'd been having cappuccinos but Sambuca Guy suggest some Buca to sip on, and who was I to disagree). Friend said that whenever I looked at my hole cards Frat Boy, who was sitting kinda behind me cuz his chair was pulled out was cheating and looking at my cards.
I WAS FURIOUS! That motherfucker being all buddy, buddy. First I tried an experiment. I got back to the table, lifted my hole cards and turned lickety-split to my left and sure enough he was craning his neck to get a look. I didn't say a word about it, but also, the buddy buddy shiat stopped. I kept playing, steadily increasing my stack until I had over $600 in front of me. The Asian dealer dealt me 5 winning hands in a row. I'd tip him, thank him and he's say "No, Thank YOU!". Finally, I had to toss J-7 off suit because someone raised to $16 pre. I was sad but tossed it to end my streak but the old guy took a peek. Flop was 7-7-X. Of course I couldn't call that raise pre, but still, one should ride the wave when one is on a roll. Afterwards the old Asian man said "Missy, you are hot." I batted my eyelashes and said "Are you flirting with me?" and gave him another buck just for the heck of it. He started stammering and someone at the table agreed that I was hot. LOL

However, there was still douchebaggy frat boy to deal with. You should know that I *never* slow play, especially in a cash game, but this time I did. I had A-2 sooted hearts and limped in. Frat boy came in raising and just because I was pissed off, I called. We were heads up and flop was 2-2-X. I immediately checked and he bets. Cue the bad acting....I hem and haw and finally call. Turn was some spade that put 2 spades on the board. I think, motion to my chips, then smile and check. He makes a bet of about $40. I groan but really, I'm thrilled. I *think* a bit, toy with my chips and say "Fuck it, I call. One card dealer, just this once!". River is a complete miss. I look crestfallen and check. What I didn't expect was for him to go all in. I instacalled! He looked like he got kicked in the nuts, which would've been almost as good. He didn't want to show his hand, but I did pay for the show so he did. He had a pair, a middle pair. He also had a huge stack in front of him, and it had to be shifted in its entirety to me. Yummy. His buddies kept busting his balls about it too, which I loved. About 15 minutes later I got a couple of racks and racked up, much to the groans of my opponents. :) Great way to end the trip, even though it didn't start so well.
Play smart.

Addendum just for Rob:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Three Strikes and You're Out

I just happened to access an image hosting site today and logged into my old account. I was reminded why tournaments can sometimes frustrate the heck out of you -- when you come close to a great score but just don't quite make it.

Example #1:

I was in a blogger freeroll final with a trip to the WSOP Main Event as the top prize. My fourth place finish got me an iPod. Not bad for free, I guess, but far short of a chance to play with the big boys.

Example #2

A tournament with a trip to the Playboy Mansion as the prize for the winner. Every guy's dream to go there at least once, right? My fourth place finish netted me nada.

Example #3:

Another tournament with a trip to the Playboy Mansion for the winner. My result: third place. My winnings: nada.

As I look back I see that these tournaments were seven years ago -- when online poker was the the biggest thing around. The tournaments were at, Dream Poker and I believe, CD Poker. Those were some great days.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Guest post coming soon.

Time to break up the usual monotony with a special guest post. It will be by a popular blogger who will spin an interesting tale. But ... I am not telling you who it is just yet. I'll give you a hint, however ...

Of course, everyone in the free world will now be expecting a post by Rob.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

11 Days and Counting

August is always one of the roughest months of the year at my workplace. Things tail off in September, making it a great time to take a trip to ...

One year ago I was ready to make the fall pilgrimage to Las Vegas with my brother Jim, the King of Komps. Unfortunately, we both were sick the day we were supposed to leave and canceled the trip at the last minute. This was disappointing since Jim was having a milestone birthday (I'm not saying which!) and we planned to celebrate at Gordon Ramsay Steak. We ended up delaying our trip until December, but the moment was lost.

Our next trip will be September 1-6. We'll be crashing at Rio our first night, then staying at Bally's the rest of the trip. We don't have a lot of solid plans so far except checking out the Caesars Palace Bacchanal Buffet and a stop at In-N-Out Burger. I will, surprise surprise, be spending many hours playing poker in my Las Vegas poker home, Bally's. I also have a sweet winning streak going at Luxor, which I hope to continue.

My trips to Las Vegas years ago used to be my way to get away from the world. I work in a job where I constantly deal with people. The old Las Vegas trips saw me being completely silent except for ordering food at restaurants. More recently I have really enjoyed connecting with people, arranging lunch and dinner meetings, searching out fellow poker players and bloggers, ...

So, if you want to meet up with me in Las Vegas this trip, let me know. People who have my cell phone number can always text me. Those who don't can send me a tweet -- @lightning36 or, in the next week or so, leave a comment on this post.

Tick ... tick ... tick ...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Fatherly Day

Today was one of those days that just seemed to be part of being a father. The day started early as I had to work Saturday morning -- you know, earning that money that has kept the family afloat and provided almost everything that my kids have gotten over the years. After work, my wife and I went shopping with my son to buy him some supplies and food for him to take to his new apartment in town. Earlier this evening, I helped him move some of his things into the apartment.

The male population in my house has greatly decreased with my son moving out and with the loss of our cat, Boyfriend. Now it is just me and the chinchillas. In fact, Gravy, the first chinchilla, was purchased and brought home five years ago today.

Now ... you might be wondering how I know that Gravy was brought into the family five years ago today. The answer is that I was searching previous posts I had written about my Dad, who passed away nine years ago today.

On that anniversary five years ago, I wrote the following:

It is now four years since my father passed away. It still seems like just a few months ago that he was around. Although I don't like to dwell on the negative things from the past, I am still haunted, to some degree, by being there when the life support systems were turned off and watching him die. It is such an unbelievably horrible feeling and an experience I can't possibly describe. God knows how people are able to handle situations ten times worse, like watching a loved one be the victim of a violent crime. Dad, the White Sox pasted the A's today, so I know you are happy.

The years have certainly helped to heal the pain. Like most people who have lost a parent or parents, sometimes it is hard to believe how many years have passed since a loved one has been gone.

Around the anniversary of his death, I have focused on stories from the past, usually ones with some humor or ones that reviewed some special thing he had done. This year the thing that comes to mind is the difficult time we had dealing with my Mom when she suffered one of her severe bouts of depression. I was in college, busier than hell with classes, work and involvement in a service organization, when I took off from school and went home to assist with my mother. It was so scary seeing her that way. My Dad, who wasn't exactly Mr. Sensitivity, did one heck of a job with her -- keeping her calm, getting her to the hospital ... I know that he appreciated having me come home so that he didn't have to do everything alone. Just two guys sucking it up and dealing with a difficult situation.

And oh yeah -- the White Sox, who have been really terrible this season, won tonight. It brought a wistful smile to my face.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Decision

And I thought that Lebron James had a big decision to make a few years ago. Well, I won't be taking my talents to South Beach, but I do have to make a decision on something that bothered me the last time it popped up: Should I go to my high school's all years reunion?

I am stumped. Will it be like going back in time? I haven't seen some of these people for almost 40 years. Why should I care?

I haven't really lived in my home town since I began college. I did come home from school for the summers and during other breaks, but I have lost touch with everyone from my class and from my school except for my family.

My youngest brother has always lived in my home town, so he has lived his whole life knowing everything that has gone on with everyone. His oldest son's old girlfriend was the daughter of a guy I had in my freshman class. You know how those things go.

Several years ago my Mom said "Do you know who I saw today? Cathy Harris. You remember her. You went to school with her." I had to answer "Mom -- I haven't seen her since about the sixth grade." Heck, the only thing I remembered about her (aside from her cute dimples!) was that she gave a picture of herself to one of my best friends. Naturally, in a show of early macho behavior, I convinced him that the manly thing to do was to rip it up!

High school was, for me, a challenging time. I was hyper-involved in school activities including sports (cross country, basketball, track, baseball), student activities (business club, foreign exchange club, student council) and work (McDonald's, local drug and liquor store). I was in sports but didn't want to be grouped with the dumb jocks, instead preferring to call myself an "athlete." My best friends tended to be socially backwards. I was a straight A student. I was the student government president. But it was the 1970's, so I was still a rebel. I was always busy, always on the go. Little wonder that I got knocked off my feet by strep throat my senior year.

My high school has already had two all years reunions in the past. I just couldn't muster up the desire to go. I'd like to go just to check out some of the people, but there is a huge part of me that thinks "Why should I even care?"

I definitely have to do some more thinking on this.

Portrait of a Blogger as a Young Man

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Brief Updates

It is the busiest time of the year at work for me. It is especially fun dealing with the dissatisfied people who waited until the last minute to take care of business.

I entered the modern world by updating my telephone. Just over a year ago I was still using a flip phone. Then I graduated to one with a keyboard. And now ...

Still learning the many things it can do. be patient with me if I call, text, or pocket dial!

Played in a 100,000 member freeroll over the weekend. There were almost 1,000 entrants. I finished 27th when, shortstacked, I called an all in with A-Q. The original raiser had J-J. I believe two other came along for the ride. Jack on the flop, game ovah. When we got down to around 35 left, I had the pleasure of having fellow blogger FlushDraww sit down next to me. Yes -- sometimes we bloggers do have some game!

My next Las Vegas trip is less than three weeks away. It will certainly be needed!

Friday, August 09, 2013

Losing the Battle

Today has been a depressing day as I read some news that, although not unexpected, was to some degree shocking. A day that was dreaded is almost here.

I have mentioned my friend and former co-worker Jen Smith a few times in my blog, going back to a post I wrote when I sold my house five years ago. One of the things that helped me cope with the pressure of paying two mortgages and knowing that a bridge loan total was increasing every month was seeing Jen handle the devastating news of finding out she had a cancerous lump in her breast, which then turned into Stage IV breast cancer. Jen was fighting for her life while I was just losing money. How can you even compare the two? It made me put my problems in proper perspective.

Jen had everything in the world going for her. She was young, intelligent, healthy, beautiful and friendly. She was married and had an infant son. Soon her world was completely changed -- divorced, medical intervention after intervention, coping with the knowledge that she was fighting against time.

She decided to resign from her job and concentrate on living. She did all sorts of things, including meeting celebrities like Taylor Swift and Ellen DeGeneres. She wrote two books. She went on all kinds of trips with her son and her family. She became a tremendous advocate for seeking a cure for breast cancer. Her blog became an inspiration to many.

Medical treatments became part of her daily life. When traditional methods did not work experimental treatments were tried. As her body was ravaged by cancer and weakened by medical interventions, she carried on living life to the fullest. Sadly, her time on this earth is almost up.

Fighting against the odds and living longer than she expected, Jen just found out that the latest experimental treatment she tried did not work. She has been referred to hospice care.

So today is a challenging day mixed with prayers and tears. Sometimes life is so unfair.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Temporarily Forgoing Cash Games For A Little Tournament Action

It seems like everybody who plays online poker says that they are either a tournament player or a cash game player. Different skills and strengths are required for each. Frankly, I always thought that I had skills in both areas. However, I also realized that by having my skill set shared between the two, likely it meant that my weaknesses were also shared between the two. Is the conclusion that I then just suck overall at poker? I don't know -- maybe!

On recent trips to Las Vegas I have played cash games exclusively. In online play, however, I like to play cash games and tournaments at places like Americas Cardroom. A recent tournament hand made me remember why I like the cash games.

I was playing in a private tournament and doing great. I was catching cards, playing well, making good decisions -- you know how that is. I was the chip leader in the tournament and thought I would be cruising toward the final table. Then it happened: The Hand.

I was in the big blind with 10-3dd. The villain was in the small blind. This is how the ugliness went down. Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Blinds were 150 and 75. Antes were 15. I was one of the chip leaders with 6020. The villain was the only other big stack at the table -- 5037 chips. Everyone folded and action was on the small blind.

Villain raises (225)   I don't believe him
Hero calls (150)   Defending my blind
*** FLOP ***: [Kc 2d 10h]   Caught part - I might be ahead
Villain bets (360)
Hero calls (360)   I'll pay to see another card with a pair and position
*** TURN ***: [Kc 2d 10h] [3h]   Two pair - Shazam!

Villain bets (960)
Hero raises (1920)   Raise designed to goad him

Villain allin (3402)   It worked!
Hero calls (2442)
*** RIVER ***: [Kc 2d 10h 3h] [8d]   I should be good here

------ Summary ------
Pot: 10164. Rake 0
Board: [Kc 2d 10h 3h 8d]
Villain shows: Two pairs. Ks and 8s [Kh 8s]. Bets: 5037. Collects: 10164. Wins: 5127.   All in with top pair bad kicker on turn? Sheesh. And hits a lucky second pair on the river? Awk!

Hero shows: Two pairs. 10s and 3s [10d 3d]. Bets: 5037. Collects: 0. Loses: 5037.   What should be a huge tournament lead has now turned into a small stack as the sign above me starts flashing "TILT   TILT."

I hung in for a bit but then petered out, acknowledging that in tournament play the poker gods can be so cruel.

I slithered away and started checking out the cash games...

Friday, August 02, 2013

So Why Is It ...

... that on the days I have to work early I can barely crawl out of bed, and on my days off I wake up early?

... that I go out with some guys after the work day is over, decide to drink the cheap stuff draft beer, and then have someone pick up the check?

... that I can think nothing of raising or calling a bet in a poker game, yet plugging quarters into a parking meter makes me feel like the money is being stolen right out of my pocket?

... that I get have been doing my job at work longer than my kids have been alive, yet when I offer the same type of service to them they act like I have no idea what I am talking about?

... that when I am in a hurry that the slowest moron on the road usually ends up right in front of me ... in the left-hand lane?