Friday, February 28, 2020

A Snoot Full of Dried Blood

Yesterday I posted a picture of myself on Twitter with the following caption: "To my friend @sevencard2003: u see, don't be STUPID like me and slow roll a guy twice ur size, of course."

So no -- as I answered to my niece who saw the picture and had some concern (she is an R.N. completing her FNP courses) -- I did not take a punch to my nose for slow rolling. I actually had nasal surgery Thursday morning.

As I head closer and closer to retirement, I am wanting to address some health issues I have put off. This surgery had been suggested about 35 years ago, but I decided against it, not convinced that the benefit would be worth the surgery. However, now seems to be the time so that I at least I am doing what I can to help my health for the future.

Surgery in 2020 is amazing. I checked in at 6:00 a.m. at a local surgery center about a mile from my house. Surgery began at 7:30, took only about an hour, and I was on my way home at 11:00 a.m.

The aftermath hasn't been too bad. There was some bleeding yesterday and a little today. I only had a little throat pain yesterday. I was able to clean off some dried blood outside my nose, but man -- there are lumps of dried blood inside my nose bugging the crap out of me! I can't wait for the internal healing to be done.

Fortunately, I have tons of sick time and will have next week off work to recover. As long as I do not do anything stupid in the next several days, I should be fine.

As for poker news, I traveled to Harrah's Joliet last weekend to play some $1/2 NL. The $300K Bad Beat Jackpot was calling my name! Unfortunately, it was one of those days where I got slaughtered no matter what I did. My pocket Kings lost to a flopped set of 6's. Top pair good kicker lost to top pair better kicker. I hit my straight on the river and opponent made his flush on the river. Finally, four of us were in a hand where I was dealt Ad-10d. The flop had two diamonds. After the flop, a guy pushed all in. Two other players folded and I was relatively short stacked. I called. The turn was a brick, as was the river. I turned over my cards and said "I whiffed. " My opponent turned over Kd-9d! Unfortunately, he binked a 9 on the river. Such was the night. I lost 2+ buy-ins. Some days are just like that, unfortunately.

I hope to get in a session at the Par-A-Dice Casino riverboat sometime in the next week to help with my recovery. Doctor's orders, I think.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

An Illinois Resident's View of Trump's Rod Blagojevich Pardon + A Fun Past Blago Post

Donald Trump made some big news in Illinois on Tuesday as he commuted the sentence of former governor Rod Blagojevich. Blago had served almost eight years of a 14-year sentence. His most egregious crime was trying to sell the US Senate seat that Barack Obama vacated when he became president. Blago was likely going to get out in 12 years on good behavior had Trump not intervened.

The more I thought about it today, I came to some initial thoughts:

  • I still think that Blago is a sociopath and narcissist. There was no admission of wrongdoing despite there being a smoking gun with comments he made on the telephone that were recorded by the authorities. Despite all the evidence against him, he continued to plead that he was innocent. I believe that he actually believes that he was innocent.
  • Blago was so full of himself and so stupid that he made those comments even though he knew that it was likely that has calls were being monitored.
  • I do not see him being a threat to anyone and he did not commit a violent crime. He has already spent eight of the best years of his life in prison after being impeached as governor of Illinois.
  • Commuting his sentence? I do not think that Blago has "earned" the commutation, but I can live with his getting out early. We have dirty politicians in Illinois who have been in office for many years but have yet to be caught. I would much rather see them in prison.
Blago looks a bit different today.
Frankly, I always thought he looked a little like this:
I'm sure that Blago will be dominating Illinois news the next several days. And, even after serving eight years in prison, he still doesn't get it.

Thanks for reading! And, for your special enjoyment, particularly if you know little or nothing about Blago, here is a fun post I wrote about Blago in June 2011:

Welcome to Our World: The People of the Great State of Illinois Share ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich with the World

Yes ... F*** us all!

The "F" bomb echoed through the courtroom Wednesday in Rod Blagojevich's corruption retrial, as recorded phone calls were played between the former Illinois governor and his then Deputy Governor Bob Greenlee.

Greenlee testified that Blagojevich told him he wanted to use the appointment of the Senate seat to help him remain relevant on the national stage. Blagojevich was hoping to be made Secretary of Health and Human Services in exchange for appointing Obama Senior Advisor Valerie Jarret to the senate seat, according to Greenlee. An ambassadorship was also of interest to Blagojevich, so Greenlee made a list of of which appointments could be most influential.

When Blagojevich learned the opportunities he was hoping for likely were not going to occur, a very frustrated Blagojevich was heard on a recorded phone call with Greenlee saying he thought his hopes for a national office position were dashed. "My upward trajectory is f***ing stalled if not f***ing ruined by Obama!" Blago is heard saying. "His election blocks me now from any upward movement...Now is the time to put my f***ing wife and children first...I f***ing busted my a**...I fought every f***ing special interest out there to prevent them from raising taxes and all I got is 13%! (approval rating in Illinois) F*** them!"

Courtesy of  May 11, 2011

And if that wasn't enough ...

He has compared himself to Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He has drawn parallels between himself and Winston Churchill as well as Abraham Lincoln.

But during his fifth day on the witness stand, even Rod Blagojevich managed to startle observers with a new one:

If he had appointed himself to the U.S. Senate seat in 2008, he would have traveled to Afghanistan to try to hunt down one Osama bin Laden.

His lawyer, Aaron Goldstein, asked if Blagojevich talked about appointing himself to the Senate “in exchange for going to Afghanistan and hunting down Osama bin Laden.”

“Yes,” A straight-faced Blagojevich replied, bringing yet another prosecution objection, hushed snickers and head-scratching in the courtroom.

Courtesy of Natasha Korecki  June 3, 2011

I hope you enjoyed our special brand of Illinois entertainment.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Mini Review of the New Sahara Las Vegas Poker Room

In what seems like (and actually was!) many years ago, I transitioned from online poker to brick and mortar poker. An excellent place to help make that transition was the old Sahara Las Vegas poker room. The inexpensive tournaments were great. Food used to be provided during the first break in tournaments - mini sub sandwiches as I recall. There were usually good numbers in the tournaments and the atmosphere was non-threatening. I believe that my second in-person cash was at a Sahara tournament. The downsides of the poker room were that the place was kind of dingy, the chips were filthy, and it was all the way on the north end of the Strip.

Unfortunately, some changes in Las Vegas bring good things to an end. The Sahara closed in 2011 and reopened as SLS Las Vegas in 2014. I don't believe I ever even entered SLS as it had no poker room. Just last year, the hotel/casino was rebranded back to the Sahara. Rumors flew that the old poker room would return. It was great to hear that a brand new poker room would be coming to the Sahara! Las Vegas gambling expert John Mehaffey reported that this would be the first new poker room to open on the Strip since 2015. I was excited to hear that the room was to open a week before my scheduled trip to Las Vegas. A slight delay changed the new opening date to Valentine's Day - Friday, February 14. This new date was at the end of my Las Vegas trip, but gave me time to head down to Sahara, scope out the room, and actually get to play a little $1/$3 NL before heading to the airport.

I checked out of my hotel room at Bally's and headed to the Bally's/Paris monorail station. The trip to Sahara was swift. I was pleased to find that I didn't have to search much as the new poker room is not far from the monorail station at Sahara. It is just past the Northside Cafe & Chinese Kitchen. Another bonus to the location of the poker room is a casino cashier station that is just around the corner. Sweet!

So ...what does it look like?
As you can see, everything is new ... and beautiful! The room has seven tables, which includes one sectioned off in the back -- presumably for high rollers like me! 😃 The chairs are comfortable and the new tables look crisp and inviting. There are charging ports at all the tables. And yes, I can confirm that the cup holders appear to be oversized.

Steven Pique, Poker Operations Manager, wants to highlight the following advantages to the room:
  • $2 comps, $3 Mon, Tue 10a-4p
  • $4 rake + $1 promo (coming next week)
  • Poker Room Food Menu from Northside Café
  • Poker Atlas download = $10 comps
  • 16 x 9 foot video wall
  • 6 screens
  • Exclusive High Limit/Final Table area
I was not able to be there for the opening as I planned due to a successful late-night poker session at Harrah's Las Vegas. I needed a little sleep! I got there around noon and was put on the wait list for $1/$3 NL. It was apparently the first table running. I was seated after a short wait. Cocktail service was friendly and fast. The dealers seemed to be experienced and confident. The chips were fairly new -- clean and crisp.

I wish I could say that I crushed it on day one, but that certainly was not the case. In the approximately one hour I played:

  • I lost a hand Aces up and great kicker to a flopped set which upgraded to a boat on the turn.
  • I lost a hand with an overpair to a flopped set.
  • I lost a hand with trip Aces to a rivered flush. I could have played this hand better, but it was almost time for me to head to the airport and I did not want to win a small pot with trip Aces, so I didn't shove when I could have. Unfortunately, I let an opponent catch a flush on the river. My bad.

My Las Vegas trip was now over and it was time for me to head to the airport. Would I advise poker players to try out the new room? Definitely! With the new Sahara poker room joining nearby rooms at Wynn/Encore and the Venetian, the north end of the Strip now has become even more of a destination area for poker.

I have been concerned that some people in the poker world have speculated that over the next several years, poker rooms will again begin disappearing, leaving only a few of the monster rooms open on the Strip. I hope that does not happen. Consider supporting this new poker room. If it is successful, perhaps more casinos might take a chance on bringing more poker rooms back to Las Vegas and especially, the Strip.

Thanks for reading! And thanks to AlaskaGal for giving me permission to end this post with her tweet that features a short video panorama shot of the Sahara poker room.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Bopping Around with Tony Bigcharles

"well she looks like her, just like the guy in chicago who paid me money for sex when i was 21 looked exactly like obama"
                                     TBC on Twitter Feb 6, 2020

I imagine that some people saw this Tony Bigcharles tweet and said "What in the world is this guy talking about?" It seemed to come out of nowhere, but it is just, in a sense, part of just another day in the wacky world of TBC. I am not sure how many other people he might have stated this to, but I actually heard it several years ago as we were driving around Las Vegas. I swear, he was dead serious in thinking that a pimp in, I believe, Philadelphia, was really President Obama in Obama's earlier years. I assured him that there was no way this could be correct, and further advised him that he might want to consider not blasting this all over the internet, especially as Obama was president at the time!

But oh, this was just one of the funny times I have had when meeting up with TBC. Most were in and around Las Vegas, but there were some fun times when Tony's sockroll was dangerously low and he was forced to spend significant time in 2013 a bit south of Las Vegas in Jean, Nevada, at the old Gold Strike Casino.

In a scene straight out of The Big Bang Theory, ...
Not only was the elevator not working on his floor, but the air conditioner in his room was not working properly. His room was hotter than hell! On the way back to Las Vegas (with Tony in the car), my brother - thundering36, ManInBlack and I discussed good places to dump his body in the in the desert-like area along the interstate. Good times! I imagine that thundering36 will post a comment about Roman Noodles!

After my first trip to Jean, I wrote the following in my blog:

Monday was the unofficial TBC day. I drove down to Jean to finally see the Gold Strike Casino, an interesting mixture of the past and the present. Tony was playing his usual Dealer’s Angel video blackjack machine (four spots) and was upset at a guy watching him play. It didn’t help that Tony was mad that he was down some and then hit the wrong button when he meant to cash out, losing four more bets. Watching how long the cashouts took reminded me of old Las Vegas. Tony had arranged for buffet lunch comps for us but first wanted to talk outside in private. He had a bone to pick with me and was frustrated with some other things and didn’t hold back. I was surprised to see how many different ways he could use the word “mother fucker” when he was angry! It was the first time I had seen one of the famous Tony explosions. Frankly, it was a little scary even though I know that Tony is a fearful guy. Little wonder that many casinos have 86ed him after seeing him explode.

Yes, the time in Jean sure was interesting!

Back in 2014, we played poker a few times at the Suncoast Casino. Tony liked to play there because they used to spread Seven Card Stud and Omaha Hi Low. Now I have always told people that I thought that Tony was a very good O8 player. Unfortunately for Tony, when playing a low-level spread game, some of us recreational players have a little fun with starting hands. I wrote this after one trip:

Monday was a day to start off leisurely. I grabbed lunch at the Palms buffet and waited for Tony Bigcharles to get his butt out of bed. It was time for our triumphant (?) return to the Suncoast Casino to play in the O8 spread game. I played in the game with Tony a few trips back (leading to TBC's famous "even lightning won" quote) and did quite well. In fact, I have come out ahead each time I have played 08 spread in Las Vegas.

I was fortunate to begin the game by getting several excellent beginning O8 hands. TBC, on the other hand, was in el foldo mode. I was able to build a decent stack but really wanted to dig into the stack of a guy at the end of the table who was showing a very good profit. So, when the time seemed right and he was in a hand, I jumped in with a hand that would normally be folded in O8: a middle-level trapping hand with both straight and flush possibilities. It's called thinking outside the box, Mr. Bigcharles. As the pot kept building, I was in good position for a big win -- or so I thought. Unfortunately, Tony was also in the hand chasing a flush -- one that was bigger than mine. The river game me a straight, allowing me to scoop a big pot. It also, however, drew the ire of Mr. Bigcharles, who texted that I was a "mf donkey who ... thinks he's good." My official response to this statement: "Muhahahahaha. Suck it!"

Yes, I guess I can be a pain in the butt sometimes, but my Uber services was free!

Back in 2015, Tony was in Reno for quite some time. I was taking a vacation in Scottsdale, AZ in June and decided to head to Reno for a few days to visit Tony before heading home. As always, there were some fun times playing poker. One hand which I liked:

I was getting hungry as the evening wore on, but Tony wasn't and the game was good, so we played on. Early in the evening, I woke up to find that I was dealt pocket Aces. I raised and Tony stayed in the hand. I remember the hand a little differently than Tony. In my mind, the flop was A-8-9 -- I had flopped top set. Tony remembers the flop as A-9-2. Tony started going through his usual jabbering about the hand, and all the guys at the table, who I am sure were tired of his talk, watched the hand closely. It was pretty obvious who they were rooting for in the hand. I raised and Tony talked and talked. I just kept quiet. Tony remembers an 8 on the turn, which gave him two pair. I remember him already having two pair on the flop. Whatever.

The jabbering continued, and I had no idea that Tony was that strong. He told me that he considered shoving on the turn, which would have been sweet to the tune of over $300 from the sockroll. However, he held back. The river was an Ace, giving me quads. Fortunately for Tony, the card scared him off and he folded instead of shoving to my raise. He still jabbered on while I was silent, and all the guys at the table had a chuckle when he tabled his two pair and then saw that I had quads. The quads were good for an immediate $75 high hand bonus, and it held up several hours later to give me an extra $100 for the top hand, 6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

But as we know, poker is a game that can humble us.

Wednesday was pretty much more of the same -- poker, poker and more poker. However, Wednesday was just one of those days when things did not go right. For example, I raised with A-Q and got a few callers. The flop was Queen high with two rags. One guy stayed with me and my raises  preflop, after the flop, and after the turn. What could he have? I was concerned I was just playing right into his hands. The river seemed to be an innocent looking deuce. Only this time, when I raised on the river, he re-popped me. I called. He showed Q-2! What? He called all my bets with top pair worst kicker and then sucked out on the river? That was pretty much how the entire day went.

Mr. Bigcharles himself donked me in a hand. Sorry, but with a week having gone by and my life being filled with many challenges at work and in my personal life, many of the details are lost. But as I recall, I raised with A-K, Tony called and stayed along, then hit a flush on the river. What I mostly remember is that I had had a really rough poker day and was really pissed at the beat. I was looking for the nearest stapler to throw, but not seeing one, laid into Tony pretty good. I think he was a bit surprised that I got so angry in losing a hand. Hmmm ... perhaps his play-by-play chatter had something to do with it?

We took some time to drive to Lake Tahoe, which, if you have never been there, is a pretty awesome place.

But, u see, no trip with TBC can be complete without at least one stop at a casino.

The trip back to Reno (via Carson City, where we stopped at a couple more casinos!) actually allowed for a conversation of several hours with Tony. I asked a lot of questions about his upbringing and his past. In short, he feels like he lived a pretty horrible life when he was younger. I found out that one of the things that frustrated him was that so many people criticize his life style, yet, in his mind, based on how crappy his early life was, he was a success. It is all a matter of perspective.

I felt compelled to write this post today after seeing that Tony tweeted something that sounded, well, like Tony. If you come along for the ride, I promise you, his exploits will get you thinking, one way or another.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 03, 2020

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! Heading to Las Las Las Vegas Vegas Vegas ...

Growing up in the suburban Chicago area, I used to hear these advertisements for "Smokin'" US 30 Dragstrip when I was growing up:

Well, I am excited to be returning to Las Vegas on Sunday, February 9. For years, I have traditionally taken a trip there late in January or early in February. It has always been my way to recover from an extremely long and busy period at work.

My poker year has started out quite uneven: some wins, some losses. I guess this really tells me that I suck? I was feeling pretty good about ending January with a decent profit, but I had a horrid session at Harrah's Joliet Saturday night, starting off February in a nasty way. However, I am still up for 2020 and will be heading to Las Vegas in the black for poker for the new year.

I will be staying at one of my favorite places on the Strip: Bally's. I hope to play at some of my usual places -- Bally's, Mirage, Planet Hollywood, MGM and Encore. If Mr. Subliminal is up for it, maybe a session at Aria. I'll hopefully play some at Wynn/Encore with my buddy, Arch. I might play at Venetian due to its high hand promotions. I trust that I will see new friend Larry while in Las Vegas, and hope to see others in my five day visit.

So ... Las Vegas friends, here is your invitation. Hit me up with a blog comment, tweet, pm or text message if you want to get together. And if someone has transportation, maybe a trip to Green Valley Ranch or Red Rock would be fun. And I am itching to try a steak at happy hour at Herbs and Rye.

Despite having a bad session at Harrah's Joliet on Saturday, I came as close as I ever had to getting a great payday on a bad beat jackpot. It was at $265,000. In one hand, I raised with A-K hearts. The flop came 10h, Jh and a rag - four to a Royal Flush! The turn was ... another 10. I was hoping for that Qh on the river to get my Royal, but it was a non-heart rag. I flipped over my cards at the end of the hand to show that my hand was only Ace high and that I missed two chances at the Royal. My opponent flipped over pocket 10s for turned  quads! If only the Qh had come on the river, I would have won the hand Royal Flush over quads and pocketed an estimated $65,000 for having the winning hand on the bad beat. Dang dang dang!

Thanks for reading. Next stop: Las Vegas!