Saturday, November 28, 2015

Kick Me in the Jimmy: A Crappy Day of Poker

Sometimes a bad day can come out of nowhere. Take this past Friday, for instance. I used to love shopping on Black Friday even before the day was called that. However, as more and more people started shopping on that day and lines became ridiculously long, I figured that my best strategy was to stay away from stores. On Friday morning I instead took my car to the shop to have my tires rotated and oil changed. I stopped to pick up some donuts for the family on the way home, then prepared for what I thought would be a great day: poker at the boat! I planned to log in some afternoon hours before being joined for the evening by cokeboy99 (Nick). It seemed like a great day was in order ...

I got to the Par-A-Dice Casino in the early afternoon, only to find that they had a shortage of dealers working. There was only one table going and a few guys hanging out in the room waiting to play. I had called in to get my name on the list but didn't know exactly where on the list I was. Apparently some guys had been waiting quite some time to play. However, a new table was opened relatively soon after I got there, and I selected my seat at the table. Before the game started, I was informed that I wasn't in the first ten people on the list. I grabbed my stuff and waited while they made repeated calls for the ten people to start the table. Only about five or six appeared to be seated. After making a final call -- and a final final call, which started to piss me off, I was seated. Unfortunately, even with the rough started, things got worse.

I was in el foldo mode, not even getting cards that could justify limping in. I finally got to play a few hands and bled chips as the flops didn't connect for me. Then the first big hand of the session came when I called a small raise with K-Q os. I was the only caller. The flop: A-10-J. Bingo! I led out for $15 and my opponent called. There were two cards to a spade flush so I was hoping that the turn would give me a nice low red card. Nope. The turn was a Jack, pairing the board. With no re-raise of my initial bet, I thought I was safe. Or, perhaps my opponent hit a Jack and I could stack him. I bet $30 on the turn and was re-raised another $30.Having less than $100 behind at that point, I pushed and was called. The opponent turned over A-J to show that he hit a full house on the turn. Stacked early on. Yuck. I don't do that very often.

Later on, I called a raise with A-Jos. The flop was Q-10-rag. Someone bet $8 and received several calls. I saw my implied odds go through the roof, so I called the bet with my gutshot. The dealer then turned over a King. Bingo again! But immediately he saw that he skipped over one guy still in the hand. He announced that the King would be put back in the deck. Dang! The new turn didn't help me and I tried to keep calm as I saw this nice pot skip out of my hands due to a dealer screw up. It was his only misstep of his down.

At that point I felt like the karmic forces were not with me. However, with Nick yet to arrive, the evening not having started yet, and with a long waiting list due to the lack of dealers, I stayed in the game. Things got worse.

I continued to get few playable hands and decided to call a small raise with a sentimental hand, K-9. The flop was Kd, 9d, Jd. There were a few of us in the pot, including one guy who appeared to be the crappiest player at the table. After one player checked, he pushed all in with a stack of reds. Against anyone else at the table I would have folded, but I was guessing that I was way ahead of this guy. I called. The other two players folded. The guy flipped over two small diamonds for a flopped flush. Neither the turn or river produced one of my four outs, and I shipped $100 to the opponent. Nick got to the poker room and  walked past the table right as I lost a stack. I gave him a "poker sucks" look and got prepared for my final loss of the session.

Final hand -- I raised with A-J in middle position. Crappy player was the only caller. The flop was A-J-K with two cards to a flush. I raised and crappy player re-raised. Once again, I was counting on the fact that this guy appeared to suck from what I had seen previously. I shoved all in and he called. He had, as you might guess, Q-10. Once again, no "one time" on the turn or river. It was time for me to cry uncle and call it a day. I chatted with Nick for a bit as he was still waiting to get seated, then decided to just play some slots during a special slot promotion time before I went home.

Later on, I was surprised to see Nick at a blackjack table. It turned out to be a crappy evening for him. I hope he posts about the stellar play my opponent ran after I left the table.

Nick and I got some dinner at a local Chili's restaurant. While there, I put out the following tweet: "@nickg_96 and I got our nuts crunched at poker tonight. Good thing we found an elderly lady. We told her she was ugly and we hoped she dies." Well, at least we were able to see some humor in the crappy night.

So, in retrospect, does it seem like I played way too recklessly? In the three hands that did me in, I didn't follow the simple idea that most players in $1/2 NL games play pretty straight forward games. Each time I was raised and could have let the hand go. I am apt to think the first hand was a mistake, but I am not sure about the last two since I had little respect for the player.

I know that recently Rob has been in quite a poker funk. I had not had any nasty poker stuff happen to me for quite some time and was perhaps feeling a little impervious to that. Amazing how poker can humble you from out of the blue. Friggin' game ...

Note: If you don't know where the phrase "kick me in the jimmy" came from:

And if -- and don't even tell me that this is possible -- you don't know who Beavis and Butt-head are:

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Carmen and the Bolt of Lightning

There is sadness among many old time poker bloggers today as word has spread that Carmen Cincotta aka CarmenSinCity aka PokerGirlInVegas passed away. At the height of the poker blogging craze, Carmen's blog was a regular stop for news about Las Vegas, the poker world and fashion. She will be missed by the many people she touched.

Back in 2006 and 2007, I was an avid reader of Carmen's blog. She posted many pictures of herself and had quite a following as Carmen was very attractive. I knew that she sometimes played poker at MGM in Las Vegas, so on a trip there in February 2007, I went to play at MGM with the hope of meeting Carmen in person. Much to my surprise, she was there. And wow -- was she a knockout! As luck would have it, I was seated at her table -- right next to her. I decided to have a little fun with her and acted like I was brand new to poker and asked her if she could give me some tips on playing. She wrote a great recap of our meeting from her perspective, but unfortunately she gave up her blog and the blog address has been taken by someone else. She described how she was licking her lips, anticipating stealing the roll of this poor stooge who wandered into the MGM poker room.

Carmen had seen pictures of me and thought I looked familiar, but she didn't recognize me. When I felt like I had put her on long enough, I decided to reveal who I was. The conversation went something like this ...

Me:  Well, even though I am new to the game, sometimes I hit with a large force.
C:     crickets
Me:  Sometimes that force is powerful, like a bolt of lightning.
C:    crickets
C:    crickets, but a puzzled look

Yes -- she finally got it! She smiled and gave me a hug. We talked for a little bit, and soon afterward she left with her buddy, Miami Don.

Most of the poker bloggers were aware of her substance abuse issues and legal troubles over a number of years. She was very open about her life in her blog. From what she told me, she had a great job working in or around Baltimore/Washington DC. Work was fueled from the top down with alcohol and drugs. Unfortunately, one day the job and party got busted and she was out of a great job. It seemed like her life never really got back on track after that.

I remember seeing her one year at the annual World Poker Blogger Tournament (WPBT) traditionally held in Las Vegas at the beginning of December. I could not believe my eyes. This drop-dead gorgeous woman I had previously known looked old and shriveled up. The drugs had been taking their toll. It was depressing to see.

Carmen faded from sight as her legal woes mounted and blogging seemed to be yesterday's news. However, as far as I know, she seemed to be doing better the past year or so. I tried reaching out to her a time or two, but got little response. I always hoped that she really got her life back on track.

The annual WPBT is right around the corner -- the first weekend in December in Las Vegas. I am sure that those in attendance will speak and think fondly of a woman who left this earth much too soon.

R.I.P Carmen.

P.S.  If anyone of the poker blogger community wishes to share a story or a memory of Carmen in the comments, please feel free to do so.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

They Were Peeing in the Creek

Saturday was an interesting day as I was helping out with a program two people on my staff were hosting for the local community -- International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. Both organizers had lost a brother to suicide.

As we got through the program on  a snowy central Illinois November morning, I thought about how fortunate I have been to have never had a close relative or close friend kill her/himself. There have been some times when some family members were suicidal and even a few times when attempts were made -- with one attempt being quite close to being successful. But despite those attempts, I still never had the unfortunate experience that was shared among the session participants today.

It was incredibly moving to hear stories from the people who experienced the aftermath of suicide first hand. In the final exercise of the day, we went around the tables while eating lunch and shared stories about our loved ones who had been lost. When it was my time to speak, I said that I just preferred to listen and not speak. I really didn't know how to say that I didn't share the commonality that everyone else there shared. Also, being a gambler, I am at least a little superstitious and hate to have even written the last sentence for fear that I might have jinxed myself!

I did think, however, about the family friend who took her life just over three years ago. Cindy was one of my wife's closest friends. When Cindy and her husband still lived in town, we occasionally socialized with them as part of a larger group activity. One time, however, the four of us decided to head out to Turkey Run State Park in western Indiana for a day of tubing down Sugar Creek. The title of this post came from the part of day when both Cindy and Mrs. lightning had to go to the bathroom while in an area that had no public restrooms. Their solution: jump in the creek and just pee there. The look on their faces in the picture at the beginning of this post is classic. They were such bad girls!

Shortly after Cindy's suicide, I wrote a post about it. At the time we didn't know or understand why she did it. We are still not 100% certain, but it seems likely that some mysterious physical and psychological issues that she was having at the time motivated her to take her own life. Unfortunately, as much as Cindy tried to help heal the pain in others' lives, she kept her own pain hidden from most of those closest to her.

Although I couldn't feel the same extent of pain that the other people at the conference felt, I could identify with the shock of hearing devastatingly bad news and of searching for meaning despite it. The day Mrs. lightning and I found out that our son had cancer is a day that is forever seared in my memory. However, we were gifted the equivalent of a poker "one time" as our son had the cancer removed, did not even have to go through chemotherapy or radiation treatments, and now, over five and a half years later, remains cancer free. The difference, however, is that suicide doesn't offer the opportunity for that "one time."

So yes, I cried a little tonight when I thought about the pain that some of the people at the program suffered -- and how fortunate my life has been. I have been gifted some awesome run-good in life and try to remember that everyone isn't so lucky. I hope I never forget it.

Cindy Wall

Monday, November 09, 2015

A Little Catch Up Time

Sometimes life just seems to get more and more hectic. It is hard to believe that I was in Las Vegas just a month ago. It seems more like a year.

I have made an effort to play poker on the weekends. I have headed to the closest room -- the Par-A-Dice riverboat casino in East Peoria, IL -- the past three weekends. The first two sessions went well and I ended up with nice wins. This past Saturday, however, I ended up on the losing side of the ledger. cokeboy99 was able to meet me at the boat, and together we were hoping to rip through the mostly weak players there. However, an extended run of poor starting cards and missed draws ended up making my session a loser. Fortunately it was not that big of a loss, but it did wipe out some of my winnings from the week before.

My wife just got back home from visiting her best friend in Scottsdale, AZ. Meanwhile, I had puppy duty. Yep -- I spent part of the past week cleaning up dog piss and picking up dog poop. And you thought that YOU led an exciting life!

Work has been extremely busy. My department is now down two full-time workers right before our busiest time of the year. To make things worse, Illinois legislators and the governor are locked in a budget battle. We still do not have a state budget, and the state has suspended paying most of its bills. Even the state lottery winners are currently getting screwed. What a mess of a state.

I am hoping to watch more of the WSOP final table action this week, but man -- watching everyone take so long to make decisions last night has made for terrible, boring viewing. It almost makes me wish that stealthmunk made the final table. At least there would be a bit more entertainment value.

I can't believe that November is already almost 1/3 over. Soon it will be Thanksgiving, then Christmas. Geez- time does fly sometimes.

I hope to make it back to Las Vegas in January or February. One of these days, however, I am going to take an eastern trip -- maybe Atlantic City and Baltimore?

I hope your week goes well. Thanks for dropping by for these random ramblings.