Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Day at Ho-Chunk Wisconsin Dells

My niece was having a baby shower in Madison, WI, so early Saturday morning my wife and I began a journey north. Fortunately, I had already made plans for the day before we found out that the shower was also for spouses. Baby shower? Yeah -- guys have ton of fun at those!

After checking into our hotel, I dropped my wife off at the shower and proceeded further north about another 40 minutes to play poker at Ho-Chunk Wisconsin Dells. I had arranged to meet Lester, a regular at the forum, and another member, martin_gale, also planned to be there. Sure enough, they were both already playing when I got there. Lester and I exchanged small gifts. What I got for Lester:
It was meant to be used in case he took a bad beat and needed something to throw. I'm sure he was tempted when a clown at the table seemed proud of taking a bunch of Lester's chips after calling a raise with 6-2os ...

Lester had previously promised me a pound of gold after he won the Power Ball lottery. As luck would have it, he never did win the lottery, but gave me some gold nonetheless:
Play at first was brutal as it appeared that none of us were catching any cards at all. martin_gale needed to leave, and soon thereafter I was down a couple of hundred. However, he was replaced by a guy who was gifting chips to the table, and I was the biggest recipient. Soon my $200 deficit was a $200 profit. Guys like that are welcome at the table any anytime!

After our session, Lester and I grabbed some dinner as we solved the mysteries of gambling and life.

While Lester went to check out his VIP suite at Ho-Chunk, I decided to play some slots. Unfortunately, my girl Britney Spears was not generous to me, u see. Wonder Woman was however, but the slots in general seemed pretty tight, which is to expected at a tribal casino.

I did play a final session of poker by myself, but with few hands I could play, I dumped some of my profits from the first session. With a 40 minute drive back to Madison in the dark ahead of me, I didn't stay too long.

So ... I got in several hours of poker and met some classy guys who I had only known online. I have met a ton of nice people via poker and will continue to do so in the years ahead.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Brief Update: Stuck at The Stick, Bovada Success and Living in the State of Illinois Suckitude

Life continues to be just a little too busy and interesting in my corner of the world. So in case you were wondering ... yes, I'm still here, but just busier than heck. What's been going on?

Trip to Scottsdale
Mrs. lightning and I had a wonderful trip to Scottsdale earlier in January. We were able to visit with friends, have dinner with my brother and sister-in-law and attend a dinner for my niece for her 40th birthday. Family and friends stuff was great. The weather wasn't as warm as we would have liked, but at least the highs were in the upper 50's. On the day we left, the temperature in Phoenix was 68 degrees. We returned to Chicago, where the temperature was just above zero and the wind chill was about seven degrees below. Welcome back to Illinois!

My poker at Talking Stick Resort was largely a disaster. I had long periods of being card dead, had good hands crumble (K-K lost to A-5sooted on a board of 5-rag-5, A-A lost to 6-something when a six hit on the river -- you know how it goes) and unfortunately, for unknown reasons, let some player get to me and put me on tilt. The guy did nothing that was bad or inappropriate, but for some reason he was just getting on my nerves. When tilted, I made an amazingly bad hero call that I never in a million years should have made. The result was that even though I had a good session or two, some bad luck, poor play and tilt saw me lose a couple of buy ins plus. I just had this feeling most of the time while there that I was crashing a huge home game with people who were not my friends. Meh.

I decided to deposit a bit on Bovada to give myself some online playing options for times I was bored. I really like playing Omaha online. Much of my play has been $.25/.50 PLO with some $10./25 PLO thrown in. I have taken a $50 buy in and have now grown it to somewhere over $650. It looks like the Bovada operators or the poker gods forgot to throw the doomsday switch on me, at least so far. However, I am enjoying the ride and deciding how far to let the money grow before I make a withdrawal. At least this takes the sting out of the Talking Stick loss. Until the sessions in Scottsdale, I was on a nice win streak.

Living in Illinois
You may or may not know that the state of Illinois is having terrible financial problems. The state has underfunded its pension obligations for years, incurring huge debts and threatening the future of faithful employees like me. On top of that, the Democratic legislature and the Republican governor are butting heads and refusing to pass a state budget for 2015-2016. Wonderful. We are already almost seven complete months into our budget year and still have no state budget or money. There is talk that our friggin political dickheads might not pass the budget until November -- after 2016 elections are over ... AND OVER FOUR MONTHS AFTER THE 2015-2016 BUDGET YEAR IS OVER!

As a result of the lack of money and a budget, higher education is in huge trouble. One state university has said that it will not be able to meet payroll after March. Two major state universities are planning massive layoffs with other institutions to follow. My own school is using February for a period for employees to consider accepting newly offered retirement and separation incentives. After the end of the month, layoffs will start, with the number and severity of job losses depending on how many employees opt to take the separation incentives. And all of this is due to our legislators and governor playing a game of chicken with students, faculty, staff and administrators in higher education stuck right in the middle of the road between two stubborn out-of-control vehicles. It pained me to have to tell a member of my staff that it is possible that she might lose the job she has been faithfully working at since June 2015.

On the bright side, I have a trip to Las Vegas in the near future -- less than three weeks away. Perhaps even a "bad player" and "f**king donkey" (links to my poker "fan club") like me might be lucky enough to have some success there.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Time for a Little Vacation

Whew - made it through the worst stretch of the work year! I am pretty tired, burned out and crabby. However, there is always hope on the horizon.

Tomorrow night I am heading to the Phoenix area for a short vacation with my wife. I'll get to see my brother and sister-in-law, maybe see their kids, and definitely play some poker at Talking Stick Resort. If I have the time, maybe even a side trip to Wild Horse Pass.

I've had very good success at both casinos in the past. From where I will be staying (freerolling with friends -- lol), Talking Stick is less than a half hour away. Wild Horse Pass takes another 30-45 minutes. Talking Stick is a big poker room, but Wild Horse pass is a regular casino that always seems to have decent promos for recreational players like me.

Of course, no less of an expert than Tony Bigcharles declared that the games at Talking Stick are beatable. Does that even apply to a "bad player" (yes -- I am looking at you, Rob!) or an "effing donkey" (yes -- I am looking at you, TBC!) like me, u see?

I imagine that I will have time to write a post or two while in Arizona. Since it was recently below zero degrees with wind chill in my area, I am looking forward to some 60 degree weather.

Arizona, here I come!

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Holiday Activities / New Year Is Off To A Great Start Poker-Wise

So ... how has your holiday season been? Mine has been quite different so far.

After working through December 23, my school closed down, not to reopen until this coming Monday, January 4. There was great success on the last working day in December, though. I finally was able to hire a replacement for my office assistant who had been gone for pretty much five months. And the new worker who will start on Monday? The timing was perfect for her. She is a long-time dedicated worker to the school and was due to be furloughed starting Monday due to a lack of a budget in the state of Illinois. Instead of having to use her accumulated time off and hoping for the best, she is back working without missing a beat AND is getting a pay increase. She appears to be addicted to coffee and chocolate, so we should get along just fine.

After spending Christmas with my wife and kids, I headed to the Chicago suburbs on December 26 to drive my brother, thundering36, to the airport for his vacation to Las Vegas. While he was gone, I took care of my 90-year-old mother, which is quite a chore. The first day went fine. However, thundering36 booby trapped me by making sure our mom was taking a stool softener. Well, dammit, on Sunday it worked ... in spades. I will spare you the gory details, but believe me, I earned my merit badge that day! The rest of the time wasn't so bad. And ... I had not had a chance to spend some real time with my mom for quite a while, so the time was important to both of us.

After picking up thundering36 at the airport on December 30, I headed back downstate. However, there was no way I was not going to reward myself with a poker session at Harrah's Joliet. Much to my surprise, the poker room was completely filled. The wait to play was two hours, but I hung around and played some slots and burned time. I was tempted to just leave, but ... nah!

The session was not really memorable. I did end up winning a buy in and left in the wee hours for the drive home through the night.

After actually getting to spend some time with my wife on New Year's Eve, she told me she just assumed that I would be going to East Peoria to play poker on the holiday weekend. Hmmm ... just what I was thinking!

So ... I made my first poker trip of 2016 to Par-A-Dice casino yesterday. I got there about 2:00 in the afternoon and was seated immediately. Things went downhill from there.

Big Hand #1: I was dealt A-A in middle position (stack of about $270) and raised to $12. Got about three callers. The flop looked harmless and I threw out a 2/3 pot bet. The guy in seat ten went all in for an additional $100 or so. I was pretty new to the table and didn't have a good read on him. I called. He said "Uh oh -- I think I'm in trouble" AND FLIPPED OVER A SET OF THREES! I guess he was thinking his bottom set wasn't good. Crappo.

Big Hand #2: I was dealt "the dreaded pocket Kings." The flop had straight possibilities and included an eight and a nine. I was in the hand with an unfamiliar player and a guy who is a pretty scared player. I don't remember all the details, but I really should have just gotten out of the hand early. Anyway, the river was a nine, putting two eights and two nines on the board. My stack was dwindling, so I decided to rep the nine and pushed all in. The scared guy went in the tank. He said he had flopped a straight and was pissed at letting me catch up. He folded. Ding! The other guy called and waited for me to flip over my cards. He then showed pocket nines for the flopped set and rivered quads. Nice slowroll, asshole.

So Aces and Kings both were crushed and I was down in a buy-in in the first two hours of play. I got up from the table to head to sooth myself with some slots. I thought about just driving home -- that perhaps it just wasn't my day, then decided to give it one more chance after cooling off. I returned to the poker room and had a short wait before a new table opened up. And what a table it was. I only lost one big hand when I floated on a Jack-high flop with pocket tens. I then hit my set on the turn. Thank goodness there were straight possibilities on the board which tempered my opponent WHO FLOPPED A SET OF JACKS! I was lucky to only lose about $70 on the hand.

The rest of the session is a blur of patience, winning hands, a bluff or two, and solid poker. Since I was on a bit of a heater, some guys got paranoid and thought I was bluffing and called awfully light. Or they just sucked. Anyway, I headed out after about an eight-hour session with a nice profit.

Next poker stop: Talking Stick in Scottsdale, AZ. My wife and I are heading there for a brief vacation in less than two weeks. I have done well at Talking Stick before and hope to continue the trend of the past week into the middle of January.

Hey thundering36 -- do you want to do a guest post with your Las Vegas trip report?