Sunday, November 30, 2014

Joliet Warm Up Trip Before Las Vegas

Today will be a day of a little riverboat action as the King of Komps and I head to Harrah's Joliet to partake of some freebie food, some poker (for me) and slots. Did anyone say Willie Wonka?

My pre-Las Vegas planning is already underway. I seem to have gotten just about everything done at work that I need to, have every bill paid at home and have taken care of the million small things that allow me to leave with a clear conscience.

This trip will be much different in that I am staying six nights -- long for me, am staying at three different hotels to keep costs down and am making the trip solo as the King of Komps is unable to go. Earlier this past summer my wife went with me for the first time in many years. She might even do it again.

Unfortunately, the big question mark regarding future trips largely lies with Caesars Entertainment Corporation. For many years, CET has provided free and inexpensive rooms for Las Vegas trips. The King of Komps has also landed many other freebies at places like Wynn, Encore and Bellagio while I have gotten a few sweet deals from The Palms and other places. However, now that CET is making all lowly Platinum members pay a $25/day resort fee, the bloom is off the rose. Yeah, I know that isn't much in Las Vegas terms, but I was shocked at how much rooms at CET properties would have cost this trip outside of the free nights I received. And with the financial problems CET has had, who knows what things will look like six or eight months from now?

But ... today is today. I have had mixed poker results at Harrah's Joliet. The thing I really dislike about the room is the "must move" table. Nothing like getting comfortable at a table and knowing just how to read the other players, then getting switched to another table with no say in the matter.

Enjoy your Sunday!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Thanksgiving Treat: A Repost of One of My All-Time Favorite Posts: "My Travels with Tony" by Rob of Rob's Vegas and Poker Blog

Happy Thanksgiving! As a special treat and public service, I am reposting (with permission, of course) PART of one of my all-time favorite blog posts, which was written by poker and blog buddy Rob of Rob's Vegas and Poker Blog. I don't believe my laptop has enough memory to copy the ENTIRE lengthy post (probably a short post by Rob's usual standards), but if you liked the part I am posting, you can read the entire post and 50 subsequent comments here.
So, without further ado ...
My Travels with Tony
Finally have the chance to do the post about my first ever meeting with Tony, aka TBC, aka Tony Bigcharles.

I can’t imagine too many of my readers aren’t familiar with the legendary TBC, but for those one of two of you who actually need an introduction, here goes.  Tony is really an internet phenomenon, having had a variety of different blogs with different hosts for many years now.  They have always been hugely popular.  Tony doesn’t have a permanent residence, depending on the kindness of casino comps (and yes, sometimes paying out of pocket) for rooms pretty much everywhere across the country where poker rooms exist.  Tony blogs about his attempt to grind out a living playing low stakes poker (mostly 1/2 or 1/3 NL Hold ‘Em).  The comments sections on his blogs are really unique.  He has many fans, many followers and also many detractors, who are unafraid of expressing their disdain for Tony in the harshest tone possible.  Tony is also well known for his unfortunate attachment to the Video Blackjack machines many casinos have, and for his love of mashed potatoes.  I’ll leave it there.

And as I said, I had never met Tony before.  I started following his blog relatively late compared to most of his followers.  Probably started around the same time I started this blog, give or take.  And although Tony was living in Vegas part of the time I was blogging and during some of my previous visits there, I had somehow managed to never meet up with him.

And it appeared that this streak was going to continue this trip.  As I mentioned in this post, a TBC follower by the name of Koala (who has neither a blog nor a twitter ID I can link to) arranged not one but two tournaments in Tony’s honor for this summer. (Note, since Koala is from Australia, perhaps he can identify the big breasted, bosomy blonde bandit discussed in my last post.)  The first of which was Sunday, June 24th.  There was just one problem.  Tony was stuck in Atlantic City and would seemingly miss both of his tournaments, or at least the first one, the one I could attend.

Since the comments sections of Tony’s blog had developed quite a community of followers, the plan was to have the tournaments/Meet & Greets anyway, even without Tony’s presence.  So that’s what I expected to happen.

To the rescue came blogger Pete P. Peters, aka The Poker Barrister.  Pete had met Tony recently in Atlantic City and very generously offered to buy him a ticket to fly back to Vegas (where he’s better off living anyway) in time for the first tournament.  So Tony arrived in Vegas very late Saturday night, less than 24 hours before the tournament in Tony’s honor at The Riviera.

My day started with lunch at the BSC with Lightning. It was my treat (well, I paid with my comps so nothing out of pocket).  I tried to invite Josie  to join us as well, but she was totally unavailable to be reached by any form of modern communication.  She doesn’t have Twitter on her cell phone, despite saying on her blog she would be available through Twitter while in Vegas.  In other words, she lied. I didn’t have her phone number to send her a text or call her.  Lightning did have her number (boy, does he have her number) but she didn’t respond to his texts or his calls.  Now she later gave various excuses…her phone died, she was out at the pool, she was asleep…..but there was a rumor circulating that she had met the Italian Soccer team at a bar at Bally’s and had taken the whole lot of them to her room to “entertain” them—as only Josie can.  I hope those soccer boys were worth the free meal you passed up, Josie.

So it was just the two of us.  During the lunch, we began getting tweets from Tony asking where we were, what we were doing, and where the hell was Josie.  We didn’t know the answer to the latter, but when Tony said he and Pete Peters were playing some poker at the Flamingo, we said we would join them when we finished eating.

But not without some drama first.  By the time we finished our late lunch, it was so late that Lightning started getting concerned about Josie’s non response (you would think he’d be used to non-responsive women by now).  Before heading to the Flamingo, he wanted to go to Bally’s and check further into Josie’s status.  He was genuinely concerned for her well being.  Was she just sleeping off a long nite (with or without soccer players) or was she perhaps sick or even in more dire straits? 

So instead of going straight to Flamingo, I drove us to Bally’s and Lightning had security do a “wellness check” on her.  The drama between the two of them over this decision on Lightning’s part has been documented by both of them, see here and here.  Please note that Josie says she was naked and dripping wet when security called her.  Also note that from what I could tell, only hearing one side of the conversation between Josie and Lightning,  it was Lightning’s concern for her that pissed Josie off, and thus Josie being pissed off was pissing Lightning off.  I was the only one of the three of us not pissed off.  Other than that, I have nothing further to add to this situation, except to say that it appears the two of them have since kissed and made up.

We left my car at Bally’s and walked to the Flamingo.  This is not a particularly long walk, as long as it isn’t 175 degrees outside.  Since it was, in fact, 175 degrees outside, it did actually seem like a bit of a schlep.

But finally we entered the Flamingo poker room and before I could identify Tony from his pictures, Lightning spotted him or Tony spotted Lightning.

I wish I could accurately recreate Tony’s greeting to Lightning.  I will do my best but I can’t do it justice.  Although Tony appeared to notice me, he completely ignored me and started talking a mile a minute to Lightning.  “Oh, I’m so glad you’re here, you have a car don’t you?  I need someone with a car to help me out, I have to go back downtown to pick up my cellphone charger because my phone is dead and I need to charge it.  I need to contact Josie I have my laptop here to lend her so she can blog from here but she didn’t respond to my texts do you know where she is where is she?  And I’m starving to death so I need to go back to Four Queens I have a $40 comp there which expires at midnite and I need to eat and I can get some food which I can put in my refrigerator except for what I have to eat right away cuz I’m starving to death. And then bring me back here to finish playing poker before the tournament at the Riviera tonite.”

No way is that an accurate quote, but it is a reasonable facsimile.

I think he spoke like 10 minutes without taking a breath.  When he finally did, Lightning was able to get a word in and said, “I don’t have a car.”

Tony said, “Oh, I thought you were renting a car.”  Then he turned to me.  “I assume this is Rob?  Rob, you have a car, don’t you?”  I’m not sure if I even had a chance to answer, as the next thing I knew Tony pretty much repeated exactly what he had just said to Lightning to me.

Again, he caught his breath and I had a decision to make.  I had known Tony personally for less than 20 minutes, and still hadn’t said a word to him.  Do I help him out and drive him downtown and help him with his errands?  I really came there to play some poker, after all. 

While I was thinking of this, I got to meet Pete, who wasn’t there at the table when we arrived but showed up a few minutes later, he was sitting right next to Tony at the poker table.  It was a brief discussion and I got to find out Pete’s real name—or at least, what he said was his real name.  Frankly, it sounds even less likely than Pete Peters (which of course, is a classic double phallic name, for those of you who like double penises).  And can you imagine someone using fake names on their blog!  Preposterous!

Now I had followed Tony long enough to not be even remotely surprised by any of this.  Frankly, in anticipation of meeting Tony, I imagined a request like this, and I had pretty much decided I would help him like this if it came to that.  Besides, Tony has helped my blog out a few times by plugging it on his site, and back when he had the more normal blog, adding me to his blogroll.  So I figured I owed him.  So I kind of considered this a “right of passage”.  Welcome to the Tonyverse, Rob.

So I agreed and Lightning joked that they would look for my body in the desert.  I asked Pete and Lightning if they wanted to join us and they both declined.  I told Tony we would have to walk back to Ballys to get to my car.  Keep in mind that I had not sat down since leaving my car at Ballys way back when.  And now we had to walk back to the Ballys garage from the Flamingo poker room in the 175 degree heat.

Tony assumed this would be a quick trip and considered just leaving his chips at the table at Flamingo. I recommended he pick them up and cash out, we wouldn’t have to wait long for a seat when we returned.  If we returned.  Hint, we never returned.

So with laptop and dying cell phone in hand, Tony and I headed to my car at Ballys.  On the way Tony mostly expressed his concern about Josie.  It took me 10 minutes to find a pause to tell him what happened with Lightning and her.  He was relieved.  He suggested that if Josie was a guy, her lack of response could only possibly mean that she (or he, in that case), had picked up a hooker!  But since Josie is a girl, he had to dismiss that possibility.

He seemed very disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to lend Josie his laptop as he planned.  I said that now that Josie had charged her phone (or was charging it) he could text her and possibly drop it off for her while we went downtown.  But he said his phone was too dead to be able to text.  Then he said, “I could have you phone or text her, but I promised her I would never give her number to anybody, so I can’t give you the number.”

Yes, that’s right.  Josie gave Tony her phone number, but not me.

We got to my car and headed downtown.  On the way, Tony alternately was extremely talkative and extremely quiet.  We discussed poker a bit, like why unpopular rooms like Riviera and Treasure Island have 1/3 no limit instead of 1/2 no limit.  Since I had mentioned it in a recent post (see here), he asked me why I hate the button straddle so much.  We actually had a very long, very worthwhile discussion about it.  And yes, sometime in the future I will explain why I hate so much.

Once at Four Queens, Tony got me a free parking pass and went about to get his food.  He took his comp to a Hugo’s Cellar, a nice restaurant there (well, it has a nice reputation, I’ve never eaten there).  This was, I believe, the same restaurant that Tony took Josie too the next night, when Koala, Lightning and I were specifically prohibited from joining them.  ((Edited to add, in the comments below, Tony has corrected me.  The restaurant Tony brought the food from that he took to the room was Magnolia's, not Hugo's Cellar.  But he did take Josie to Hugo's Cellar the next night.  Both are at The Four Queens.))

Tony ordered a bunch of food and now we had to take it back to his room, where he had a very nice big refrigerator.  I helped Tony carry the food and his laptop.  Yes, I carried his laptop.  I only point this out because Tony is known for his trust issues.

Tony put most of his food away and then sat on the floor of his room and ate his chili.  There were also some French fries with it, that he didn’t order.  No mashed potatoes, though. He did offer me some fries but I was still full from lunch.

Looking at the time, he realized that he had done the right thing cashing out.  It was much longer than an hour after we left Flamingo.  He kept saying how surprised he was how long this was taking he expected it to take a lot less time.  I told him that pretty much everything one does ends up taking longer than you expect.

By the time we got back in the car and were ready to leave downtown, we both agreed there was no point in returning to the Flamingo.  We decided that we might as well head straight to the Riviera.  I could see from my “Bravo Live” app on my phone that they had a 1/3 game going, so we could play that until the tournament started.

Fair enough. So just as I was about to pull into the Riviera parking lot, Tony got another idea.

“Hey, let’s check out the new Ellis Island poker room. We’ve got time.”  We had heard through Twitter that a tiny locals casino a few blocks off the Strip, Ellis Island, had just a day or two ago opened a poker room.  Ellis Island has slots, a small live pit, but is mostly known to locals for it’s excellent food.  If you ever go there, be sure to ask for the “locals special” in the dining room.  A poker room was a new idea for them.

Ok, I had just enough time not to turn into the lot, and we headed to Ellis Island.  We got there about 5:45PM.  We discovered a totally empty “poker room” (two tables) with a sign saying that the poker room opens at 6PM!  There were two employees there, one a dealer, sitting at an empty table and one a floor person—who knew Tony.  We weren’t about to hang around until 6 and hope that people magically show up then to start a game.  We headed back towards the Riviera.

Monday, November 24, 2014

"But They Both Had Dicks!"

We have had two male chinchillas for many years. For some time they had lived in separate cages, but more recently they were able to coexist in the same cage.

Several weeks ago, my son Rick came up from the basement and said "Welly was trying to mount Gravy." Of course, I was just imagining that the boys had been watching too much MSNBC.

Anyway ... I came home from work today and heard a commotion in the basement. Gravy had some blood on him and we were afraid that Welly had somehow injured him. To our surprise, there was a third resident of the cage -- a baby chinchilla! My son Rick's analysis: "But they both had dicks!"

I am wondering who the hell taught Biology to my kids in high school and how I can get a rebate on tax/tuition paid to the local school district.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Tip

I just wanted to post a picture of a receipt I took care of earlier this evening. It is for all those who have heard of my ...  shall we say ...  frugal ways.

That is all.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

18 Years and Counting

It was almost 19 years ago. My wife and I had two children, which seemed to be about right at the time. Mrs. lightning, who at one time years ago expressed a desire to have about a dozen children, had been bringing up the subject of a third child. Being the money manager of the family, I continually said no. After all, two children were enough, right? But I had been thinking ...

Skipping all the lurid details, soon Mrs. lightning was pregnant again. Due to some medical issues, her pregnancy was watched very carefully by a specialist. After many trips to the doctor and many ultrasounds, child number three was born -- 18 years ago yesterday.

I have referenced my youngest child, Erin, several times in this blog. Instead of going with her mother to Canada to celebrate her graduation from fifth grade, Erin went to Las Vegas with her dad.
When I decided to take a trip to the famous Buddy Holly/Ritchie Valens/Big Bopper plane crash site, Erin was my traveling companion. I have accompanied her to a Comic Con convention and several anime conventions (next one coming up in December).

Erin has always been my only child to actually listen to my Las Vegas and gambling stories, so it was only fitting that on the day she first became legal to do any gambling, she got some instant lottery tickets, courtesy of her dad. And, wouldn't you know it, the first ticket she scratched was a $5 ticket and ... a $10 winner!


So nice to know that degenerate gambling is likely to continue in the family long after I am in the ground.

Happy birthday, Erin!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Sunday update

1) Played a long session of $1/2 NL Hold em at Par-A-Dice Casino yesterday. I was joined by Cokeboy99 for about the last half of the session. Early on, a reg named Raven came in. Raven had been known for his dreadlocks, but recently had his hair cut short. It was quiet the item of discussion. I know Raven is a dangerous player. I felted him once before when I slow played a set, and he had gotten the better of me on at least one occasion. He bought in short and I felted him when he pushed  after a flop of 10-Q-10. I called with K-K. I never saw what Raven had, but he immediately left and did not return by the time I left -- around 11:30 p.m.

I took advantage of my opportunities when they came and made a nice profit for the night. Shortly after I left, Cokeboy messaged me that he had doubled up. I hope the night ended well for him.

2) My Las Vegas trip arrangements are mostly finalized. My flight arrives in Las Vegas late on the morning of Thursday, December 4. I return back home on Wednesday, December 10. I was disappointed to find that I could only get two comped room nights this trip. However, I will be flying in and out of my local airport, saving long term parking charges at Midway Airport in Chicago and the cost of gas for the round trip to Chicago.

Some potential plans for the trip include the annual poker bloggers gathering for mixed games Friday night, the blogger tournament late Saturday morning at Aria, hopefully a freeroll tournament on Sunday, possibly a dinner hosted by Alicia Chang and/or the First Annual lightning36 Chicken Fried Steak night with online and local friends Monday and/or Tuesday nights. Also, Cokeboy, who will be in Las Vegas much of the same week I am there,  has already mentioned more than once his desire to go to In-N-Out Burger for his first time, so at least one trip there is definitely in order.

I still need have yet to make a hotel reservation for my last night. I am thinking that I might go off strip and stay at The Orleans for the first time.

3) The cold weather has already started and will come to the Midwest in full force this coming week. My wife has been on vacation in Phoenix and arrives home tonight. She will suffer!

4) The past six weeks of work have been challenging due to some employee disciplinary issues. I make a good salary for what I do, but trust me that I earned every single penny recently.

Life has been extremely busy in my little corner of the world. I hope things are going well in yours.