Monday, June 30, 2014

Just Another Night in Par-A-Dice

The past two weeks have just flown by. After my excursion to the Aurora casinos and The Shoe in Hammond, I did a repeat a week later. The King of Komps had another free night and buffets at Harrah’s Joliet, so off we went. The results were much different this time.

Sad to say, the most successful part of the trip was the buffet at Harrah’s Joliet that I ragged on in a previous post. It was actually much better this time around. I don’t know if eating earlier in the evening or on a more crowded night had anything to do with it, but it was like we went to a different buffet. It still is no bargain at $19.99, however.
I lost a small amount at the Hollywood Joliet poker room. It is small and only has had one or two tables running whenever I have been there, but the vibe has been okay.
I ran into some problems at Harrah’s Joliet. I got my pocket Queens crushed on an 8-9-9 board. Yes – a guy had pocket 8’s. I lost some other hands there where there were several people in big pots. The implied odds were really good, but I was just really unlucky that none of my overcards ever hit.

At The Shoe, I ran Jacks into Aces, Jacks into Kings. I finally started getting back to even when the late night drunks and rich donks came in, but the table broke. At my new table I quickly chipped up, only to flop Broadway and be all-in after the flop against pocket Kings. You know what happened next. The turn was a 9 and the river was a 9. One or two hands later, a shorty raised and I called with A-Q. The flop was Queen highly, so naturally I called his all-in bet after the flop. Unfortunately, he had pocket Aces. It was just that kind of night.
My session at The Shoe was a marathon that ended at 6:00 a.m. Nothing like playing poker all night, then hopping in your car for an almost 2 ½ hour ride home.

I returned to work last week and even fit in (sorry for anyone squeamish) a colonoscopy. Life gets wonderful as you age!

I decided to check out a new mini slot lounge in town. It looks like they are becoming the rage in Illinois. But hey – free snacks and soft drinks with a small list of menu items and alcoholic beverages for purchase makes for a decent little environment. I had some promo dollars and used that to cash out a little score. The people around me (only six machines there) kept looking as I hit the bonus on Lotus Flower time and time again. A second trip saw some bonuses on the same machine. Round three will be in the near future.
Yesterday I heard the poker sirens calling again, so I decided to make the shorter trip (1 ½ hours) to Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria. I snuck a quick look in the poker room, only to find the end of a tournament going on and what looked to be a three-handed table. Yuck. I played some sweet sweet video poker and then saw the game completely broke up. Back to the video poker and some slot play. Later on I saw a group of four or five that started a new game, so I entered. It turned out to be quite an evening.

The players were all locals, but very few looked familiar. The table filled up, and for the rest of the evening running into the wee hours of the morning, I not only played against some pretty bad players, but also found the favor of the poker gods. I hit sets. Some of my draws hit. It was one of those nights where virtually everything went well.  I had position on the good players and didn’t make many mistakes. Needless to say, it was a big night that helped to restore confidence that sometimes I might even know what I am doing at the poker table.

As I cashed out in the early morning hours, one guy said “Goodbye, cheater.” I am not sure if he was just ribbing me because I was winning a bunch of pots and took a decent amount off him, or if he was upset at a hand that happened a couple of hours earlier. We were in a hand together and both missed our draws. After the river, he said “You win” and was ready to muck his cards. His friends noticed that I hadn’t turned over my cards as I usually did at the conclusion of a hand, so they urged him not to muck (one player to a hand, jerks). When I saw that his Ace high was good, I mucked and said “No, you win.” I mean seriously – if your opponent wants to muck his cards thinking that he has lost, who would not accept this gift?
Since the Par-A-Dice poker room is small, there is limited table selection. However, even a small room can generate decent profits if the situation is right.

By the way, the title of the post was something that one of the players said after taking a nasty beat. I dunno know – it seemed like a great night to me!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today ...

No, not that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.

But it was a heck of a day. O.J. Simpson was driving down California highways with the world watching. However, I was likely one of the few people in the United States who didn't know what was going on. I had spent all day at the hospital.

Daddy light and baby Rick

I got home at the end of a long day, only to be greeted by my niece who was jabbering "Uncle light, you'll never believe what has been going on. O.J. Simpson is running away from the police and they've been chasing him for hours."

I had hoped to end the day kind of quietly by watching the NBA finals match between the Rockets and the Knicks, but that game took a back seat across the country to the great O.J. Bronco chase. Needless to say, I had a much better day than O.J.

Rick and girlfriend Mari
Happy birthday, son o' mine. May all your dreams come true.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

For Two Fathers

Happy Fathers Day to all my readers, especially those who have experienced that wonderful calling we refer to as fatherhood. As I always say, it is the greatest non-paying job in the world.

In reflecting on Fathers Day, I thought about my own dad and my father-in-law. What did I learn from them?

From my father, I learned about sacrifice for the family. My dad was a blue collar worker who worked a regular day job, came home to eat dinner, and then worked many evenings at my uncle's gas station. For years he followed this same routine, which enabled him to move his family out of Chicago and into the suburbs. He never seemed to have many possessions, and frankly, never seemed to have much of a desire for any. I appear to have inherited this. A computer, a television and a car that runs can sustain me for a long time. I am a difficult guy to buy presents for because I don't really want much of anything. I can't really explain it -- it's just the way I am.

Dad died almost ten years ago. I feel so fortunate that his body gave out before his mind, for he had already been suffering from dementia. This past week I visited his grave and took my brother, the King of Komps, who always keeps dad's grave in great shape. Dad would have particularly loved the American flags, for he was a proud WWII veteran.

From my father-in-law, Fred, I learned that faith in God and a positive, selfless attitude can help one cope with almost anything. Fred had a remarkable medical history: heart bypass surgery, brain surgery, and spinal surgery. He had a large family that included many challenges, including a mentally and physically handicapped son and a wife with many medical issues. Yet, through all this, he never squawked, never complained, but just did what needed to be done in a positive manner.

Fred treated me like I was his own son, including inviting me to join the family menfolk on fishing excursions to Canada. One of the last things he did for me and my family was to buy us a dishwasher. He had seen one on sale at a terrific price and was thrilled to buy it for us. He was that kind of guy.

Fred has been gone more than 15 years now. He had terminal blood cancer and faced his final months with courage and dignity.

Both these men were truly loved and are sorely missed. I think of them at times when I have challenges as a father. It helps.

Fatherhood: the greatest non-paying job in the world.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

lightning36's Quick Little Poker and Gambooling Trip

After getting very frustrated and angry with some of the latest goings on at my workplace, I was happy to have some vacation time this week. What better time to take care of some family matters and head to a few gambling establishments?

The trip started out on Tuesday in just about the worst way possible as I first had to have a meeting with some of my staff at work. However, 90 minutes later I was on the road (a very wet and windy one) to suburban Chicago to stop at my Mom's house to pick up my brother, the King of Komps.We went to the hospital to visit my mother, then had lunch at a Chicago area staple: Portillos, home of , in my opinion, the world's best Chicago-style hot dog.

Next stop: Hollywood Casino Joliet.

Going to Hollywood is almost like going back in time. Years ago it was one of the first dumpy Illinois river boat casinos called The Empress. That was back in the day when one actually had to pay to go on the cruise -- and the boat actually sailed! However, an extensive makeover resulted in turning the crappy old boat into a decent casino.

Hollywood has a rather small poker room. I played there once before, and the action seemed about the same. There was one table going and a waiting list of about seven people. I decided to stroll around the casino and mash a few buttons. I saw a bank of video poker machines and just randomly picked one out. A few minutes later ...

Seemed like a good sign to me! Unfortunately, I didn't have time to find out if the machine would produce again as I was called to the poker room while a new table was being seated.

General impressions: The poker room staff didn't impress me one way or another. They were a little friendly with the locals (probably most of the players there), which always make me wary. The tables were nice and the chairs were good. The players seemed mostly fishy. I didn't get many cards in the short time I was there, unfortunately. I was content to play for a bit and take away a reasonable profit. The KOK texted me that he was ready to go, so we headed out to the parking garage. The funniest thing about the visit was that I have never parked so close to a casino before, breaking the short distance record I had set at the Gold Strike in Jean, Nevada.

We drove across town to Harrah's Joliet, for the KOK had not only scored a free night, but also two free buffets and a little gambling cash. After checking into the hotel, we ate at Flavors buffet. Unfortunately, Harrah's Joliet got rid of the Paula Deen buffet and replaced it with something that would not even be found in some of the lesser casinos in Las Vegas. My grade: D+ -- certainly not worth spending money on. Very good Kung Pao Chicken, but aside from that ...

I went to the poker room, which is not one of my favorites due to their system of having a feeder table to the "main table" in the poker room. They did change the blinds in the regular games from $1-3 to $1-2, which certainly was appreciated because my table never filled up. Someone said that the main table always has to have at least eight players. Therefore, even though we were shorthanded, players kept getting snatched away. Most of the time in the two short sessions I played, the table had only four to six players. In fact, I left the first session because I was tired of playing with such a low numbers. Better to mash some buttons, right? Fortunately, my friend Willy Wonka ...

... was kind to me.I mashed some buttons before playing my second session. As with the earlier play at Hollywood, I was able to take modest profits from each session. Poker is much more fun when the results are positive!

On Wednesday morning, we checked out of the hotel and again visited my mother. Lunch afterwards produced  a bowl of baked French Onion soup that was out of this world:

After a trip to the cemetery to visit my father's grave site and a sojourn to Walmarts for the KOK to pick up some items, I decided to head south. I was thinking that I might head to Harrah's Horseshoe in Hammond if I didn't feel fatigued. A little sports radio chatter had me feeling good, and I decided to go to The Shoe, which has, arguably, the best poker room in the Midwest.

Before playing poker, however, I decided to look up my friend, Willy Wonka. He was not very friendly this time! However, I also mashed a few sweet, sweet video poker buttons and came up with this:

I went to the poker room and was seated immediately ... and hit a set of 9's in my first orbit. Was this an omen?

As things were, I was card dead for several hours. Few decent hole cards came, and nothing ever connected if I was in a hand. I decided to take a break and headed to the restroom. While taking a leak, I heard what appeared to be a woman's voice. Someone waiting just outside the bathroom for her man? Umm ... no. It appeared that a man was having sex with a woman in one of the restroom stalls! None of us could see what was going on, but we sure heard it! Before I walked out, I mustered up my deepest voice and yelled out "SECURITY!" I hope that caused their hearts to skip a beat!

I went back to the table and lost a little money when someone lucked out on a turn card. I was then in a pot with A-10 diamonds when the table jokester, who was going on tilt, pushed all in on a flop with two diamonds. He only had $75 behind, and I thought it was time to gambool since nothing else was working. Everyone else cleared out and I caught a diamond on the river. Thus started the rush.

I won several  hands and then  looked down to see J-J. I bet $10 and was raised to $30 by the player on my left, a decent guy and decent poker player. I was almost positive that he had Aces or Kings, but I knew the implied odds here were worth a few redbirds. Everyone else folded and I called. The flop: Jack high! I pushed out a bet to disguise the set and he raised. I reraised, he went all-in and I insta-called. He weakly asked "Do you have pocket Jacks?" I affirmed that I did and proceeded to crack his Aces and felt him. Shazam!

I had the biggest stack at the table but soon ran into problems with a young guy who, frankly, seemed to have my number. I won a few pots off him, but then was pummeled in a few more. I decided to leave the table just after midnight, knowing that I had a 2 1/2 hour drive home. I left with a nice profit.

But ... of course, there was no way I could leave without mashing a few more buttons, could I? My old friend Werewolf Live was waiting for me ...

... and he delivered! Even my nice ladies of Mermaid's Gold were nice to me this night. And my friend Willy Wonka, who took a few bucks off me earlier in the evening, gave them back.

The long drive home is never much fun in the wee hours of the night, but this trip was made with a big smile on my face. After not playing poker for so long, it was nice to get back on track with a great session and three good ones. Yowsa!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Poker Blogger Dave "Memphis Mojo" Smith Making a Run at a WSOP Final Table

Final Update: Third Place for over $279,000! MOJO's da man!

Update: In final three!

Update: Sitting at 3rd of 10 at dinner break with 1,400,000 chips!

The mojo seems to be working in 2014. Dave "Memphis MOJO" Smith is currently one of the larger stacks of the final 17 players in 2014 WSOP Event # 17: Senior No-Limit Hold'em Championship. MOJO is no stranger to tournament success, having previously finished in 76th place in the 2011 WSOP Senior Championship and having a string of successful tournament cashes in his home area casinos in Tunica, MS.

Dave has the experience and savvy to take this event down. If he makes it to the final table, you can watch it being streamed with a 30-minute delay at


Memphis MOJO (right) and unidentified crappy poker player on left