Saturday, May 28, 2016

Chillin' Out on Memorial Day Weekend

My Father, a World War II veteran, is on the left
For any readers who have served in the United States military, a huge THANK YOU! Enjoy this weekend and know that people across the country respect and admire the sacrifice you made.
Unfortunately, family news was not great this week. My wife, an extremely talented teacher, was not rehired for the next school year. No reason was even given, and the real reason appears to be that the principal of the school never liked my wife from the get go for some unknown reason. The way Mrs. lightning was treated by her supervisor the past few years was abysmal. The way she was let go was horrendous -- being told that she was an at-will employee and that she needed to get her office area cleaned out by the end of the day, which happened to be the last day of the school year. Sadly, this all happened in a private, religious school. There is a lot more to the story, which I decline to post here, and I will be following up with our church's (soon to be ex-church, I am pretty sure) pastor, and likely some higher up the religious organizational food chain.
My wife, as you might expect, was hurt beyond belief at the way things went down. I am considering bringing a stapler with me to church tomorrow and doing my best imitation of TBC after a suckout.
The weather is meh today -- overcast, windy, rain ready to fall -- so I might head to the boat to play some poker. I went to Harrah's Joliet last weekend and had two big losses -- one when the agro guy at the table called my all in with the nut flush draw and hit it on the river, turning what should have been a $700+ stack into nothing, and a second loss when I pushed my Big Slick into Pocket Rockets. The second one was really my fault. Such is poker.
If I have time this weekend, and pending new developments this weekend, I will make a post regarding the current huge story in poker -- Dr. Jaclynn Moskow's allegations of sexual harassment at Poker Night in America. The story has been fascinating.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Las Vegas Trip: Final Chapter

I have already been chastised by Alysia Chang for omitting details in my blog -- like it was really necessary to report that she said my brother is cute? But I did neglect, in my late-night fatigue while writing my last post, to mention an interesting situation that happened when I was on my way to cash out at MGM on the Thursday night of my trip. There was a long line at the poker cage, so I walked toward the cashier station that wasn't too far away. Before I got there, however, clumsy me almost dropped a rack of chip and had redbirds flying on the ground. I picked them up but was short several. An MGM employee saw me and helped look with his flashlight. We found them all -- except one.

As we continued to search, a woman at a slot machine asked me what I had lost. I told her that I had dropped a bunch of redbirds and had found all but one. She said "I found one" and dove into her purse to return it to me.

I cashed out, but kept a $1 chip. I walked over to the woman, thanked her and handed her the $1 chip, saying "Please keep this for good luck." Later on, I heard that a woman won a $1,000,000 jackpot on slots that night at MGM. Do you think?

Anyway, back to Hooters.
I made my Orbitz reservation less than five minutes before I entered Hooters. They told me it would take about 15 minutes for the reservation to show up in their system. That was accurate.

The room had Hooters colors. They try to make the casino and hotel look kind of rustic with a lot of unstained wood. But ... the room did have bottled water (I was going to say "free," but that pesky resort fee, you know) and Keurig coffee pods.
After checking in I headed across the street to MGM. So yes - I would definitely recommend Hooters as a decent place to stay if you wanted your base to be on the south side of the strip.

At MGM, I was able to complete my second promo card ... on the third try for my black flush. The session was another winner.
I decided to cash out and grab a comped meal at Hecho en Vegas Mexican Grill and Cantina in MGM.
Enchiladas Banderas
After dinner, I headed back to the MGM poker room. I was fortunate to sit next to a smoking hot Aussie babe and was at a table with obnoxious guys. One guy got really drunk and was fascinated with the blond massage gal ( I preferred the ginger one - ruffff!). She was giving a long massage to a guy at the table when she suddenly said to the drunk guy "You're making me very uncomfortable staring at my ass." The guy then asked the floor, Frank, to come over while he complained about the massage gal. He apparently stared at her more, bringing a visit from another member of the staff who had a long talk with the guy. Good times.
Michelle tweeted that she was going from Bally's to Aria, so I decided to cash out that late night session at about even and toss some cards with Michelle during my last session. The table I started out at was nitty, unfortunately, as I got AA, AK, QQ and AQ all in the first half hour but only showed about a $40 profit. Michelle's table had more action, so I transferred there. After getting no cards for several orbits (Michelle may remember things a little better here as I was getting fatigued), I limped in or called a small raise with A-3 hearts. The flop was Q-2-4 with two hearts. One of the short stacks went all in for around $75. A big stack called. What to do? Maybe it was the hour, the success on the trip, the feeling that I would hit my flush, the urge to gambol some and win big or go home -- I don't know, but I shoved all in for $300+. The big stack called and I gulped. The turn was a ... brick. The river was a ... brick. The big stack flipped over Q-2 for a flopped two pair. Yuck -- felted. I decided to call it a night.
Walking back to Hooters via the Monte Carlo, I passed a lady of the night who asked "Why are you alone, Mister?" I chuckled and moved on. Had she only known that I would have been willing to procure her services for ... $5 ... lol.
On Saturday morning I checked out of Hooters and had a late breakfast with Alysia before heading to the airport. Now normally this would be the end of anything halfway interesting, right? Well ... it was a short time before my SW flight was ready to board. And ... my flight was overbooked by three people. Southwest asked for volunteers to be voluntarily bumped and I shot to the gate station. It turned out that I was indeed bumped. How sweet was the deal? My original flight left a half hour later than scheduled. I got on a flight that got me to the airport only one hour later. My compensation for the one hour inconvenience: a travel voucher worth the full unrestricted fare for the trip. Score!
Once on the plane, I met the coolest flight attendant ever:

Once I was back in Chicago, I picked up my car and headed for home. A stop at Portillo's ...
... and I was good to go for the rest of the ride home.
In summary: one heck of a trip -- a solid A grade. Who could ask for much more?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Excellent Las Vegas Trip Continues

After writing my last post on Wednesday morning, May 11, it was time to check out of my hotel room at Harrah's and check into my comped room at Gold Coast. I am really surprised that Gold Coast treats me so well. My local casino, Par-A-Dice, is also a Boyd's property, but the poker room doesn't track time played. I guess my lame slot play got me the room. The check in process took only 90 seconds. Jennifer at the Gold Coast desk is fantastic!

After checking in, my Uber driver (AC) eventually dropped me off at MGM, where I planned to continue chasing my promo (fill a card with good hands, win $100), but was horrified to find that in my haste to check out of Harrah's -- screwed up when I thought I lost one of my contact lenses -- I left my M life card and my promo card with five of the six hands completed in my room at Gold Coast. Sheesh. I decided that I didn't want to play there and hit the last hand I needed without my card, so I took the opportunity to check out Excalibur, where I had been wanting to play for my past several trips. However, Excalibur had only one cash table going and four people on the waiting list. Not good. So I went to check out the game going on at Luxor. One table, three people. Meh. The next place to head, naturally, was Mandalay Bay, although I didn't really want to play there. The day was sucking big time when my phone buzzed. The caller: Mr Subliminal. The message: "Am coming into Aria. What r ur plans for the rest of the day?"

I got off the tram at Excalibur and began the walk to Aria. I had played a tournament or two there and played cash games once or twice, but it wasn't a place I felt comfortable playing, for whatever reason. However, playing with an old friend instead of wandering looking for a good game? Easy decision.

I got into a $1/3 table but immediately knew it was the wrong table for me. I did win a couple of hands, but the betting was extremely aggressive and I wasn't getting good enough cards or flops. I asked for a table change, which was a long time coming. I was about to just leave when my table change came -- and placed me directly to the right of Mr Subliminal! He had already told me in the past and that day that he doesn't like to play at a table with friends, but once I was moved there everything seemed okay.

I am not sure where Mr Subliminal got his stake to play and the comps to be able to spring for dinner for both of us. As best I can figure, his underground lair is somewhere between Bellagio and Aria, and he therefore has some squatter rights under Nevada law. I think it entitles him to some free play and free food at those casinos. Either that or the panhandling business has been very good.

I chipped up and felted a player with a full house. However, when I started losing some chips, I was tempted to leave, mostly because I had suffered such terrible run-bad through the past couple of months. Mr Subliminal persuaded me to stay, and we had a great evening playing poker and chatting. Best yet ...
Mr Subliminal's comps provided an excellent dinner from Lemongrass -- a tasty entre of black-pepper shrimp. With food on my belly, a great evening of fun and poker and a stack o' chips, I left Aria to head back to the center of the strip. The last I saw of Mr Subliminal, he was attempting to negotiate a darning of the many holes in his shirt. Best of luck, sir!

I went to my old home of Bally's and got into a really wild game, doubling up from a poor start. Unfortunately, in trying to steal the mountain of chips from another player, I got four flushed and lost half my chips, and then had my dreaded pocket Kings cracked by 10-5 os. Meh - it was time for bed.

Thursday, May 12 saw me sleeping in as the long hours of poker were starting to wear me down. I started out by taking a shuttle to the Orleans so that I could catch AC and her father at lunch. Her father is a primo blackjack tournament specialist and recently hit a huge score. He told me that he could teach me how to play tournament blackjack. That sounds much better than playing a Dealer's Angels machine, u see. I then went back to MGM and had lunch at Tap, the sports bar next to the poker room. Rob's comps have provided a couple of meals there for me, but I was surprised to find that I actually had almost $100 in comps myself. Score!

I went back to the table and completed my bonus card for $100 and immediately started working on my second. I had another solid session at MGM.
This session was dominated by a guy who got drunk at the table and took great offense when slowrolled. I am pretty sure the slowroll was unintentional, but the table jerk didn't want to let it go. When the arguing increased, I yelled out "Floor!" The guy finally calmed down, but was a dick the rest of the night. Things were tense at the table, so I once again took matters into my own hands, singing out another few lines of the Beach Boys' song Wendy again, u see. It did seem to calm things down a bit.

One funny thing -- a guy at the table who resembled Les Gold from the show Hard Core Pawn was pissed at the drunk and crabby, and said something to me when I delayed looking at my cards when speaking with a cocktail waitress. I turned and grabbed my cards and just held them silently for several seconds. I then proceeded to act like I was going to muck them four different times. On the fifth time I actually did, turned to look the guy in the face and said "That was just me being a dick." Good times!

I decided to cash out and try my luck at Planet Hollywood. PH has never been a favorite of mine, but I have always heard about the great late-night action. This night was no different. Some terrible players were at my table, and one hand really pissed me off. The table was fairly new with most people having around $200 in chips. I looked down to see the dreaded pocket Kings. Villain1 UTG bet $16. Villain2 called the $16. I raised to $51. Villain1, who was a regular I had seen before folded. Villain2, however, called my $51. Yesssss. However, the flop brought an Ace. V2 checked and I bet. He called. Ut oh. He checked on the turn and I bet. He said "I know you have me beat" but called. We both checked on the river and he showed... A-7 os! He called a raise to $16 and then a re-raise to $51 with that. And I lost the hand!

I got chips back later after buying another hundo when I was in the big blind and called into a limped multi-way pot with K-5 os. The flop: K-rag-5! I checked and one guy went all in. I doubted he hit his set and called. I never did find out what he had as I scooped a decent pot.

I cashed out with a profit and tried to avoid the hookers in PH. It seems to me that they are really aggressive in there. One started chasing after me. I guess my natural frugal nature doesn't shine through!

Thursday was scheduled to be my last night in Las Vegas. However, I was having a blast this trip and having decent success at the tables. On Friday morning I entertained the idea of staying an extra night. I was able to change my flight from Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon, then checked out of Gold Coast and had lunch with AC. I checked hotel rates online and settled on Hooters as the place for my extra night.

One more partial report to come.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Las Vegas Trip Continues

I actually got to sleep at a decent hour Sunday night/early Monday morning and used the Monday morning hours to write my previous blog post. I was thinking about getting a salad lunch but then persuaded Alysia Chang to restart her private Uber service and take me to her favorite all you can eat sushi place.
I am not usually a huge sushi fan, but this place was great! I particularly like the way these buffets operate in bringing out small plates of food.
Can you believe a guy playing poker made fun (jokingly) of this shirt?

After lunch, it was time to play some poker. I had a good session at Bally's and unfortunately just missed out on having a great afternoon. One guy at the table was trying to be table captain, but I had his number and got some great cards against him. He lost perspective and was hoping for that one opportunity to get me back. I almost stacked him twice, but he had the control to fold when he needed to, dang it.

The evening proved to be quite interesting. Alysia bought some steaks from a big  HORSE tourney score at Orleans and was counting on my manly skills (ha!) to grill 'em up. Michelle was also dining with us that night. On the way to pick up Michelle, we stopped at a grocery store to buy a few items. Alysia was amused at my chagrin in deciding which salad dressing to choose. Couldn't decide. Then when we were ready to check out, we went to the Express Aisle. Ha! The people at the front of the line took forever to check out, and the express line backed up quite a bit. People were getting frustrated at the absurdity of at all. I knew it was time for Superlightning to do something to save the day.  I recalled the grocery store scene in the movie You've Got Mail and was inspired by Tom Hanks to take action. The cashier's name tag said Wendy, so ... I launched into (in the proper key for me) a rousing version of the Beach Boys' song Wendy.

Wendy! Wendy, what went wrongggggggggg?
We went together for so longggggggg.

So yeah -- people who hang with me either get the crap embarrassed out of them or get decent entertainment. Needless to say the people in line have a fun story to tell their friends!

We got to Casa Chang, which kind of looks like something out of a travel brochure.
I got the steaks on the grill while Alysia and Michelle went inside to Alysia's place to get a few things. The problem was, the steaks started burning and I was left with nothing to turn or move them. So I moved the steaks with the only thing at my disposal: an ear of corn. I looked like I was fencing with a grill!

After dinner, fueled with alcohol and with passions rising, the following scene began to unfold:
Actually, there was no alcohol involved and everything was quite innocent. The picture was going to be a Rob special  (I asked Michelle to show some cleavage and she boosted those boobies waaay up), but then instead this joke shot was taken and I tweeted that Michelle was providing melons for dessert. Good times!

After dinner, I had another nondescript poker session with a partial loss. It was time to call it a night.

On Tuesday, I stopped to get in a bit of an early afternoon session at Caesars. I was doing fine until I ran into an overpair. Meh. After that it was off to Johnny Rocket's for a lunch meeting with poker blogger FlushhDraw. We had quite a rousing lunch as we gossiped about a bunch of bloggers and Las Vegas people. I ragged on him quite a bit about his health. His response: "It's like having Michelle here in drag!" (Yo)u see, Michelle is a nurse and tries to help the guy, but ...

I told him there was betting going on about when he would croak. I told him I was speculating 2016. I then pretended to get on my cell phone and said: "Triple P? This is lightning. Put $400 down for me on 2016." After ragging on FlushhDraw a little more and getting more resistance, I made another pretend call: "Triple P -- lightning again. Make that $800 on 2016."

We actually has a good time talking poker. Glad to meet you, buddy!

After lunch, I decided to head to MGM with the thought of going to Excalibur. Happily, I stayed at MGM until the wee hours of the morning. I was going up and down like a cheap whore and then hit a losing steak and looked to cash out with only a modest profit. But then a great play of the night came. People were limping and I looked down to see one of my favorite hands: 7-6 diamonds. I limped in and one guy who seemed solid raised to $12. People were folding but I, of course, called. The flop: 7-6-rag. Shazam. Now I knew this guy was a solid player but was sucked out on earlier and seemed to be a little on tilt. I checked and he bet $30 (we each had stacks around $300), making the pot around $60. My decision: I pushed all in! And guess what -- it worked! He had pocket Aces wasn't going to let them go. The turn and river bricked and I stacked him and doubled up. He snarled "nice catch" as he walked away. Yes, it was. But knowing what to do with the catch was all on me!

I had some other fun hands -- like when I limped in with K-7 diamonds (I needed a diamond or heart flush for an MGM promotion) and saw a flop of 7-7-7! Believe it or not, I even w0n a $60-70 pot on that flop.

I sparred many times that night with a good player named Randall, who used to be a regular at MGM. I took a bunch of money off him (and unfortunately gave some back to other players), and told him at the end of the night that I knew a lot about him because I invented a phone app that tracks local Las Vegas players. I then acted like I snapped a picture or added data. I thought it was funny. I don't think he shared quite the same view.

Some chip porn from near the high water mark of the session:
Therefore, I am back in the black in poker for the trip. I needed a session like that as I have been running bad most of my recent poker sessions.

Today (Wednesday), I am checking out of Harrah's and staying at Gold Coast for two nights. More poker adventures await. Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 09, 2016

Frustrating Start to Las Vegas Trip

I am in Las Vegas, which is almost always good. However, the gambling part of the trip got off to its usually crappy start, despite my consultation with The Poker Meister and trying to adhere to the counsel he offered.

But let me back up a bit. After seeing my Mom for Mothers Days, I headed for Midway Airport. After getting my ID and boarding pass checked, I got through the TSA screening in, I kid you not, one minute! The regular screening was backed up quite a bit, but we harmless people shot right through. Yowsa! Then, after having an extended wait to get my pre-flight sammich at Potbelly, I received a free big cookie for my inconvenience. I tweeted about this and was warned not to use up my run-good at the airport. Well, the run-good ended quickly.

My flight was nearly full -- except for the seat next to me and one other. The plane door was about to be closed when two guys on standby were let in. Instead of having a freed up seat next to me, I had a not-small guy sitting there. Dayum.

Once in Las Vegas, I had to suffer the indignity of checking in with the other peasants in the Gold line since I have lost my Total Rewards Platinum status. The wait wasn't nearly as bad as it would have been if I had no card at all, however.
The beautiful view from my Harrah's room!

I headed to Mirage to play poker (and said hi to Kristi - AlaskaGal1). The past few trips I had really killed it at Mirage. Not so this time as I was card dead and ran decent hands into the dreaded pocket Kings several times. I definitely will be back, however.

I used my poker comps to do something I have always wanted to do in Las Vegas: eat at the Carnegie Deli.
The rather hefty pastrami sandwich

My verdict: It was okay. It was not as big as I thought it would be but was certainly much better than the sandwiches I've had at the Stage Deli at MGM.

I headed to Harrah's and played for a bit there. Meh -- same as Mirage. The only decent had I got was KK after our table had shrunk to five people. My modest raise got no callers.

So ... the trip starts as usual with me: getting in the hole and having to climb out. But I am in Las Vegas, which is almost always good. It is time to turn things around.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Las Vegas? It's Onnnnnn ...

After being busy, busy busy at work, I was finally able to carve out a week off to go to Las Vegas to get in some quality poker time. Just to even get to this stage, however, was a hassle, including having to work Saturday night for about three hours just to finish up what I couldn't get done last week.

Saturday also included getting the family together for lunch to celebrate Mothers Day before I went out of town. Nothing makes my wife happy like having all our kids together.
So ... the journey to Las Vegas today  starts with a side trip to see my Mom this morning.
Mom at 85
It is hard to believe that she made it past 90 and is now less than a half year from 91. Although I invited thundering36 to come along with me to Las Vegas, he declined to stay home with Mom. Maybe next time.

I don't have very much actually planned for this trip. I am planning to play a tournament with Flushhdraw and hope to either get some other Las Vegas friends to play in the tournament with us or perhaps get a group together to play some cash games.

I'll be staying for three nights at Harrah's -- spitting distance from the Mirage, where I have had great success my past few trips to Las Vegas -- and two nights at Gold Coast, which is comping my stay.

It looks like I have less than six hours to pack and get some sleep. I am taking my laptop along on the trip and hope to make a blog post or two if time permits. I will be using Twitter and text messaging to connect with people and have some fun.

Let the games begin!