Random thoughts about my interests which include (in no particular order) poker, finance & investing, politics, football and whatever else I happen to see that piques my interest

Sunday, June 12, 2016

It's a Good Life

Too often I find myself plagued by negativity these days, or maybe I plague others.  But really when I think about it, life really is pretty good.  I've got a good job I enjoy with people I like, I've got a good wife, the kids are all healthy, seem happy, and none of them are in jail or on drugs.  I got no complaints.  I was thinking about this earlier this afternoon.  It's a hot sunny day, I'm floating in a swimming pool, I feel good and relaxed.  I'm not stressed, I'm not hating work or my life choices or anything else.  It was just a good afternoon weekend and I was actually enjoying it.

Saturday we played golf at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor.  Gorgeous place.  It's where the Valspar Golf Championship is played every year.  Tough course, even the pros struggle on.  I looked at the scores from this past year and only 17 guys out of the 80 or so who made the cut shot under par.  Needless to say I am not one of those 17.  I played not so good.  Drove pretty well, hit crap irons and didn't chip well around the green either.  Not to mention putting.  Those greens are hard to putt.  Everything breaks one way or another.  I shot about 8 shots worse than usual and it could have been worse but I did manage to birdie the 4th hole.  Hit a sweet 7 iron to 12 feet and actually made a putt for the birdie.  Only one for any of us on the day and it definitely kept my round from being a complete waste.  Next year when I watch the tourney and I see some of these pros struggle on the 4th hole, I'll be saying, "I can't believe he messed up that hole, hell I can birdie that one".  I won't mention the 16 or so holes I didn't play well.  Earlier today I went out to the range and hit the irons pretty well.  Some days you just don't have it and I didn't yesterday.

Contrary to local reports, Michelle Wie is not my playing partner

I started playing a little online poker again recently and while the results aren't anything to write home about, I think I've found my niche.  While I love playing Omaha 8 or better, the variance I keep seeing with it just can't be handled with the small amount I have left in my online account.  It got really bad for a while but I found the $3.30 SNG tourneys where the top 3 all get $9 seems to be where I fit in.  I hit the money about 60% of the time.  Relatively small sample size but so far/so good. 

My knee is feeling pretty good still.  Only a little pain occasionally but nothing bad at all.  I have noticed some clicking when walking quickly a couple of times but it didn't hurt at least.  Unfortunately I got a call this week about the xray they took on my knee telling me I also have arthritis in it as well.  Next month I see the orthopedics guy so we'll see what he says. 

That's about all the news fit to print in my neck of the woods.  For me life is pretty good.  Hope it is for you as well.  Say a prayer for the 50 families in Orlando who may not feel that way right now. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Another week in the books

Its the weekend again.  And it couldn't come to soon.  Work was a chore even though it was only 4 days long.  I'm being pulled in multiple directions at work trying to handle my normal work, answer questions for other people, research some in depth problems and run the point on a new report we're putting together.  And answer phones, handle emails, etc.  It gets a little wearing.  I enjoy a lot of it, especially the research but every day I get questions from 4-5 of my coworkers who don't understand this or that.  And now that a couple of our more tenured people are going to a different department, I expect to get more questions.  I don't mind and I enjoy helping others but it does get wearing from time to time.

Last weekend we played golf at a private course nearby called Bayou Club.  My buddy's dad had won a pass for 4 to play there.  Nice course.  Tough.  Apparently the Chairman of the Board of my company lives there.  Anyway we had a good time.  I was really hitting the ball (for me anyway) on the front 9.  Not scoring great sometimes because I hit it too far.  Had a couple of holes where shots I expected to land short or just on the green ended up hitting the back of the green and going over it.  But it was nice to really be hitting it.  A couple of holes I out drove all of my playing partners by 10 or 15 yards and on one hole it was 50.  That one I really hammered.  Felt good.

By the time we reached the 9th hole there were storm clouds brewing and lightning nearby so we went inside for a while and let the storm pass.  It was really weird.  A little storm sprang up right near the course but there was no other rain anywhere else in the Tampa Bay area.  And the storm sat there not moving for 45 minutes or so then just broke up.  Strange.  It killed my golf game though.  I lost my swing after the wait and everything on the back 9 was a struggle.  I did ok but not nearly as good as on the front and while I thought I would break 90, the back 9 wiped that chance out.  Still we had fun, I hit it well for a while and it was a good time. 

Went to see the Dr about my knee last week.  She thinks I have a bad meniscus.  She referred me to an orthopedic doctor but told me to hold off on going for a month or so.  She gave me a prescription for an anti inflammatory - diclofenac or something like that which has helped greatly.  I started taking it on Thursday and by Saturday the pain was nearly gone.  Didn't feel any pain the next day which is a nice change from how I had been feeling on the day after golfing.  I have to take it for a month and then see where I am after that.  I forgot to take a dose yesterday and I did feel some pain so I'd best stay on top of taking it twice a day.  I have to take it with meals so sometimes I forget when I don't have the pills sitting with me.  Hopefully this fixes me up and I don't need surgery.  Then again it might be better for me to have surgery instead of dealing with this issue from time to time. 

Well it looks like I'm going to get out and play tomorrow so I better head off to bed.  Hope some of you are heading to Vegas for the WSOP.  One day I will but its not gonna be this year.  Till then I'll lead my somewhat hum drum life, soaking up sun, playing some golf, and working like the dog I am.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Well, at least the weekend is here

Well the work week is done thankfully.  I can't say it was the greatest week of my life.  But work went well, I actually got in a little online poker at night, and the wife and kids are ok. Which is pretty big because my younger son was recently in the hospital for diverticulitis.  He spent almost a week in the hospital and of course was not feeling all that great when he got out.  But I saw him on Friday and he told me he was pretty much back to normal.  He had no problem giving his old man a hard time so I figure he is probably right.

We played in a golf tourney Saturday afternoon.  It was hot, humid and breezy, like a normal Florida summer day.  We played pretty well shooting 4 under but it wasn't enough to finish top 3.  And I didn't expect to.  We left a few shots on the course that might have gotten us there but really, to win these best ball tourneys you need someone who can kill the driver and none of us are that big a hitter.  We got one guy who hits it 260 or so but there are some young guys who can really hit it 300 yards or so.  An old guy like me is lucky to get it over 235 yards with a driver.  When I was a young man I used to be able to hit a ball 230+ yards with my 3 wood.  I never used my driver because I had no control over it but I hit the 3 wood very well.  Of course I could swing a club 100 mph back then.    I've played with guys 20 years older than me who can swing faster than that.  I imagine with my weight loss and the fact I'm playing a lot more my swing speed is  bit faster but I doubt its over 85.  So no one expects me to hit 275 yard drives.  Or even 250.  The one win I did have yesterday was in the raffle after the tourney where I scored a gift card to Golfsmith.  I see something new and possibly shiny in my golf bag. 

Watched the Preakness Horse Race last night.  Thankfully it rained like crazy and delayed the race 30 minutes which meant I didn't miss it driving home from the golf course.  And it was a successful race at that.  Saturday morning before I went to the course I dropped by Derby Lane and put down some bets for the race.  One bet I took was an exacta box with Exaggerator with 3 other horses, one of them being the 1 horse, Cherry Wine.  I did not take Exaggerator with Nyquist because the odds were too low on the 2 of them.  It was bad enough getting $30 for a $2 exacta in the Derby but at Pimlico the 2 of them would have paid like $8.  So I took Nyquist with some long shots and I did an exacta box with Exaggerator and some longer shots.  The box pays half of the regular exacta bet but when Cherry Wine slipped past Nyquist and took second, the exacta paid 88 for a 2 dollar bet.  And it paid me 44.  So far I've hit the exacta box in both big races this year.  I am usually lucky to hit one bet in all 3 races combined.  So its all good this year.  And I also cashed a place ticket on Cherry Wine for another 9 bucks.  Woo hoo, I'm rich.  NOT.

Damn my knee is sore today.  I'm afraid there is really something wrong with it as I didn't strain it yesterday but I'm feeling it today.  Tomorrow I'm calling the Dr so I can get it looked at.  One of my coworkers thinks I have a problem with my MCL which wouldn't surprise me.  As long as it isn't an ACL.  I thought losing weight and exercising was supposed to make me feel better, isn't it?  I think I'm paying for the sins of my youth now.  As Paul Newman said in one of my favorite movies, Nobody's Fool, "we wear the chains we forge in life"  (And his ex teacher asked, I don't suppose you know who said that.  Why you did Miss Beryl, all through 8th grade.)  A lot of great lines in that movie done by a terrific cast but I'm sure I've mentioned this movie before.  If you get the chance, watch it.  I'm pretty sure its available on Amazon Prime or Netflix.

Well enough for now.  Not much happening in my world.  Hey I did buy a new pair of shorts today since most of mine are falling off of me.  That's a good problem to have I suppose but it's getting expensive.  I better bet a lot more on the Belmont.  Or stop dieting. I'll know which one I'm doing in 3 weeks. Till then, I'll try to hit them long and straight, or at least straight.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Yes I am still here.............somewhere

Good evening boys and girls from the wilds of the Tampa Bay area of sunny Florida.  And sunny it is.  This might have been the mildest winter we ever went through and while the spring was nice, it certainly was short.  Summer is just about here.

Sorry about dropping off the face of the earth.  My life over the past year has just not led me into wanting to write much and really I haven't much to talk about.  I have hardly played any poker and I'm sure people are not all that interested in my hum drum life. 

What I have been doing over the past year was to change my lifestyle, at least somewhat.  I finally got disgusted enough with the shape I was in and started doing something about it.  I have done this a couple of times in the past but this time I have actually stuck to it.  Its been about 11 months since I started dieting and exercising and as of today, I've lost 95 lbs.  I got a long way yet to go but it's a decent start.  As my wife said, "you've lost a Backstreet Boy".  Probably one of the little whiny ones - which might be all of them.

Another thing I've done is upped my activity level a bit.  Mostly playing golf and walking.  I am playing at least once a week and I usually hit the range a time or two most weeks as well.  I was doing some pretty heavy walking but had to scale way back when my knee started acting up.  That's slowed down my weight loss a bit.  But I make sure I get my golf on as much as I can.  I used to be frequent golfer before the advent of wife, kids, etc but I rarely golfed more than once or twice a year over the past 25 years.
                                                                                                                                                                  About a year and a half ago I started playing with a buddy of mine.  Boy I am not the player I was in my 20's that's for sure.  And early on, I really struggled just to walk from the cart, up a hill to the green and back.  Luckily this part of Florida is not known for being hilly.  So while most courses are flat, I wasn't walking up to a green 30 feet above the fairway.  I went to a golf retailer and tried some clubs mainly to see what it said about my swing speed.  I was shocked to find it was only 80mph.  I used to swing it at nearly 100.  That definitely changed how I played the game but the main thing is I'm enjoying being out there with a group of guys, doing guy things.  And my game has improved a decent amount in the past year or so which makes it even more enjoyable.  I won't be gracing anyone's tv screen anytime soon but I'm fairly satisfied with my game.  Now if I can only break 90 on a full course.  Thought I might do it this past Sunday but the back 9 did me in. 

So don't expect to get a lot of poker content or much gambling news from me.  I will occasionally get my gambling jones on and I do play a little online but not nearly as much as I used to.  But I sure feel better than I did a year ago and I'm happy to still be around and kicking it.  When my knees feel ok.  And I'm still enjoying reading the hijinks of Rob, and Lucki, and Lightning, and PPP.  I can still live vicariously through them.  So until the writing bug strikes me again, keep on doing what you're doing. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Back in Paradise

This post was started and mostly finished last November after our last Vegas trip but then I just got away from the computer and haven't posted in a while.  So before I post some more recent stuff I thought I'd finish this up.  Sorry about the delay, wish I had the dedication of some of you good writers or even of TBC but I sometimes lack follow through - like you don't know that. 

When I was a child, living in the frozen north, I always thought Florida must be Paradise.  After all it doesn't snow, it's almost never cold, and people up north came down here in the middle of winter and could even go swimming.  While those of us of the poorer variety shivered in our parkas, the more well to do among us came back from winter vacations and they were tan.  Like not white.  Florida must be paradise.

Now I live here in Paradise.  And it doesn't feel so paradisical (is that a word?).  After all I just left Paradise, at least the town of Paradise, in Nevada.  And at least there it was paradisical, at least in the twisted Las Vegas way.  I was surprised to find out that the Las Vegas strip isn't in Las Vegas.  Most of it is in unincorporated Clark County in the Town of Paradise, including the Flamingo Hotel and Casino that we spent most of our time in.  I was a little surprised by this but in looking at a map of Las Vegas, I can see the city limits end at Sahara.  Paradise also contains all of McCarren Airport.

On Sunday we landed in Paradise around 3:30 pm.  We got our bags and rental car pretty quickly, unlike our last visit, and by 4:30 we had arrived at the Flamingo.  The flight in was pretty good and I was able to watch the Jets beat the Steelers on my Ipad while inflight.  That was a surprise.  We got another surprise when we arrived.  The line at registration was at least 30 people long.  Ugh. 

Luckily the Poker Queen used her eagle eyes and spotted this sign by a door to our left.  "Aren't you a platinum member?" she asked me.  "Why yes I am."  So I head toward these gold colored double doors where this nice lady opens for me and walk into Shangri-La.  "Is this where Platinum registration is?" I asked one of the reps behind the desk.  She told me she was just about to go on break but to step right up and she'd take care of me.  And she did.  Even waived the resort fee for me.  10 minutes after arriving at the Flamingo I was walking into our room overlooking the strip facing right at Caesars. 5 days comped at the Flamingo, I'm not PPP but sometimes it's good to be me.

We were pleasantly surprised by the room.  Obviously they had been redone in the recent past.  Wood floors (probably laminate but still a change from any other room I've had), roomy, decent sized bathroom, basically a comfortable room.  And the shower was great.  First hotel in Vegas I've been in where the water really comes out hard.  While every other place seems to have these low flow nozzles in their showers, the Flamingo doesn't seem to care.  I swear I could have cut a side of beef with that water stream.  It really felt great.  We gambled a bit Sunday night and had dinner at Margaritaville right there in the Flamingo.  Decent dinner, lousy gaming results.  Since we were still on Eastern time, we were off to bed fairly early. 

That was the tone of my whole trip.  Latest I slept on any day was my final day in Vegas and that day I awoke at 6:52 am.  After going to bed after 2 am.  Wake up early every morning and lose money.  Some days were better than others and I did make some money on some days but the fickle finger of fate never really touched my brow and provided me with monster cash.  Still this was a great vacation and I came home with money in my pocket so from my perspective, that's a win.

I was going to do this post in a chronological order but that seems boring.  On Monday I went here,  on Tuesday I did this.  I imagine many of my posts are pretty dry so I think I'll do this post in a more scattershot style and just give my impressions of certain things. I will start with Monday however because that's the first full day we spent in Paradise. 

Started the morning with an early breakfast in the Hash House A Go Go (since we were both up at 4:30 am) in the casino formerly known as the IP.  Tremendous breakfast.  The PQ took the usual Tractor Driver Pancake Combo with scrambled eggs and a Snickers pancake bigger than her head.  And as usual she ate about half of it.  Hell Ethiopia would only eat about half of it.  I had the biscuits and gravy with eggs and potatoes.  They put the grilled mashed potatoes under the biscuits and gravy.  It was perhaps the best I've ever had, though not peppery enough but then I like a lot of pepper in my B&G.  And to think I never tried it until I was at least 24 or so.  They just didn't serve this to us up in Rhode Island when I was young.

To me - Breakfast Heaven on a plate.  My cousin's response?  "Oof, who pre-chewed your food?"
There was some kind of problem in the kitchen and my order was delayed about 5 minutes or more than the PQ's.  The waitress was very apologetic.  Hell I worked in restaurants for many years and I know what can happen and I told her not to sweat it.  My guess is she gets a lot of customers who aren't very nice when there is a problem because she was so very relieved I didn't make a fuss.  Like what kind of person abuses a waiter/waitress over a problem with an order.  I'm sure Vegas brings it out in some people, after all you're probably never gonna see these people again but what's the sense in that?  Do you really feel so much better abusing a member of the staff because your order is wrong or late?  My take is why do you want to antagonize a person who can possibly spit in your food?? Anyway she left a really nice note on the receipt thanking us for being so nice and wishing us a nice stay. 
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day so I planned out places to go to breakfast in Vegas so that we would hit some different places we had never been to.  Usually we have a really good breakfast and then we don't eat again until dinner time and we followed that routine every day but one.  I found a site listing the best cheap breakfasts in Vegas and used that as a guide.  Of course Ellis Island was on it and we did hit that one day so that the PQ could have the steak and eggs breakfast for 5.99.  Personally I think that is the best deal in town as they give you a 10 oz NY Strip with eggs, potatoes and toast.  I actually decided I was in the mood for corned beef hash instead which was also good but the steak and eggs are the star.  They actually had Hash House on the list which surprised me as I don't consider it cheap however for the amount of food they give you, it's a helluva deal. 
We also went to another favorite, The Peppermill so that the PQ could eat half of her chicken fried steak and eggs breakfast and I could eat half of Munch's Breakfast.  I usually cannot get linguica sausage here in Fla so that's my choice there every time.  I think my post last year had a picture of that breakfast.   Our retired friends Chuck and Karen came up from San Diego to see us and we introduced them to the Peppermill.  As we were about to enter, my wife said to Karen and Chuck, "Prepare to go back to the 70s."  They enjoyed it greatly and split one breakfast between the two of them.  And of course no trip to Vegas is complete without the breakfast buffet at the Bellagio.  Even at 18.99 it is maybe the best deal on the strip IMHO.  The choices are nearly limitless.  We picked the perfect time to hit it too as they got pretty crowded about 15-20 minutes after we arrived.  We walked right in when we got there just after 8. 
We hit a couple of new places we'd never been to as well.  I gotta tip my hat to my lovely wife there.  I'll find someplace to go and she comes along like a trooper.  Her only request is "please don't let it be too sketchy."  Last visit we hit Blueberry Hill.  This time we hit a place named The Egg and I on West Sahara I believe.  I don't remember what the PQ had but I had an Italian Omelet with Italian Sausage, Peppers, Provolone and Marinara.  It was excellent and the breakfast potatoes were terrific too.  We will definitely include them in our next Vegas visit.  I wanted to hit Marilyn's café in the Tuscany Suites and Casino.  I'd never been there before but they looked to serve a good breakfast.  We did spend a little time in the casino one day and enjoyed it though neither of us had much success.  Our last morning in Vegas I didn't feel like going anywhere so we ate in the café at the Silverton Casino where we spent our last night.  It was pretty tasty.  Here's a breakfast sampler to whet your appetite

 Munch's breakfast at the Peppermill
Corned beef hash and eggs at Ellis Island
Italian Omelet at the Egg and I. 
Hope you weren't hungry when you got to the pictures.  I'm hungry now so maybe this wasn't the best time to post all these pictures.  One thing I love in Vegas, every restaurant offers Sourdough toast with breakfast.  I can't get that here in Florida very often.  Our other meals were pretty good too.  We had one lunch with our pals Karen and Chuck and went to Gordon Ramsay's place Burgr in Planet Hollywood.  Nothing was thrown and ole Gordo makes a fine burger.  The fries may have been the star of the meal too.  They were awesome.  Friday night we went somewhere I always wanted to go, the Steakhouse at Binions.  All the way up on the 24th floor.  Surprisingly it was not busy but I made reservations anyway.  We had a great meal and the view was fantastic.  I recommend everyone try that sometime. 
Now that I got food out of the way I guess I should touch on the gambling side of Vegas since I suspect most of my readers are (like me) degenerate gamblers  action junkies of one sort or another.  I can't say it was a really successful gambling adventure for either the PQ or me.  She did hit a couple of good quads while we were there, one time for $500 on the Video Poker.  As for myself, my luck at Video Poker was mostly dismal but I did have a couple of decent runs on the craps tables.  Unfortunately I had a few bad runs as well.  I never lost more than $100 or so on any one table and I did pick up a $300 profit one day at Red Rocks but never did I get on one of those historic runs where I throw for 40 minutes and hit a pile of numbers. 

One of my few successes in Video Poker
I only got in one session of regular poker the whole time we were there.  Unfortunately I never completely acclimated to the change in time zones so both the PQ and I were up early every day but at night when the poker rooms start getting busy we were getting tired and I wasn't going to play tired, that was just a recipe for disaster.  The 2nd to last night we were there I did spend about 4 hours in the poker room at the Flamingo playing 1-2 N/L.  Lost one nice pot early when my flopped 2 pair were run down by a river straight.  I felt I played it ok, I didn't give the guy the odds to draw to it but there are some people you can't get out of a pot.  A little later I made some back when I turned a straight and got the table maniac to pay off my river bet with his 2 pair.  I felted him a little later when he bluffed the river at me.  I had to make a decision whether to call with TPTK as I had flopped an Ace.  Eventually I decided the odds were he at best had a worse ace or a complete bluff and I was right.  That put me up nicely for the night.  Unfortunately I didn't keep it all. 
I thought I might have an historic night of poker when this lady across from me raised in early position   She had impressed me with her play earlier so I gave some credence to her raise but decided to call in the cut off with 66.  Bingo on the flop with J 6 2 rainbow.  She bet and I just smooth called along with one other guy.  Turn was a 7 putting two spades on the board.  She bet again and this time I put a healthy reraise.  She gave me a long look after the other guy folded then decided to call.  The river was the Ace of spades which I didn't like but I did not put her on a flush draw.  She then bet into me for $40 which I found curiously small considering there was over $150 in the pot.  So feeling a bad result in the offing I just called instead of putting her all in.  Good decision as she flipped over AA for a bigger set on the river.  That hurt.  It put me down just a little bit for the night but I plugged on and managed to makes it back up on a couple of other hands to finish the session up $50.  Not the best result as that Ace was the difference between a little profit and a major score.  Still I was satisfied with my play for the most part.  And if poker has taught me one thing it is good play does not always equal good results. 
Unfortunately that was the extent of my live poker playing for the trip.  Not even a tourney and I had hoped to play in 2 or 3 while we were there.  But damn we stayed busy and gambled a ton.  We did some sightseeing and spent time with friends.  And there was the time change factor.  Next time I'm gonna make sure I get a few tourneys and some more live play in but this time it was not meant to be. 
We did do some touristy things like go up in the High Roller ferris wheel.  We got free passes from our Caesars Total Rewards membership and our pals Chuck and Karen got on free because it was Veterans Day and he is retired Navy.  It really was a sight to see going up there.  I don't do well with heights but I had no problem as long as I didn't get right against the edge of the cabin.  Wow do you go up high.  Here are some pics we took

The Venetian where I will stay after I win the Lottery

A view toward the Hard Rock and UNLV.  Enjoyed gambling there

Unfortunately I had to chose between gambling or playing 1 round of golf on the Wynn Course.  Budgets suck.
We also went up Mt Charleston one day.  While it was 70 in Vegas proper, the more outside the city we got the chillier it got.  Of course Vegas sits in the bottom of a valley and even going to some place like Red Rocks Casino puts you at least 1000 feet higher than on the strip.  We got up to around 7000 feet on Mt Charleston.  It was much cooler but really a nice drive with some great sightseeing.  You don't have to get far out of Vegas to be in the hinterlands, that's for sure.  On the way to the mountain we passed a few small housing tracts including this one street off the main road to Mt Charleston

We proved the sign was right when we visited the famous Entering Las Vegas sign south of the strip

And Elvis himself put in an appearance.  Whoda thunk it?

We took the time to travel to a number of casinos we had never gambled at like the Hard Rock, Tuscany Suites, Wynn, Encore (both beautiful by the way but definitely for higher budget gamblers than we are) Planet Hollywood, and the Silver 7s.  I could pass on the Silver 7s but the rest were fun.  We really liked the Hard Rock and the PQ had some good luck there.  Tuscany Suites was decent, better than I expected.  We also gambled at Ellis Island before and after breakfast there and spent a bit of time at Green Valley Ranch though we had been to both before.  We really like GVR and they have the best odds on Double Double Bonus VP machines.  Off strip we probably spent the most time at Red Rocks where we both had some success and for an off strip casino, it really is a nice place. 

I went all PPP here for my best score of the trip of course at the Red Rocks

Before I finish I think I should touch on one of my previous posts about Downtown Vegas.  Man when night falls and the "performers" come out, especially on the weekend, it gets WILD.  People dressed like dead famous people (I saw Chris Farley and Marilyn Monroe), good lookin gals in next to nothing, whack-a-doodles in next to nothing.  You name it and it probably prowls the Freemont St area on weekend nights.  We were there both Monday night (night before Veterans Day Holiday) and Friday night after our delicious dinner at Binions.  Here are a few of the sights

Chris Farley hits on an angel on Monday

On Friday a different angel tries to reform the Green Goblin while an Indian wonders where it all went wrong

Angels seem to be a popular theme downtown.  

All in all it was a great trip even though it wasn't profitable.  But damn was it fun.  Can't wait to do it again but I suspect it will be a little while until that happens.  Until then I better practice my craps throws and get in some local poker to tide me over. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

They say that all good things must end somday

Autumn leaves must fall.  Those of you who are really old will know this line from "A Summer Song" by Chad and Jeremy.  I always thought The Association did that song but Google tells me I'm wrong and who can argue with the monolithic Goog?

The point of all this is I am sitting in McCarren airport waiting to board my nonstop flight back to Tampa on Cattle car  Southwest Airlines.  And I'd rather be staying than leaving but life is like that.  I have a lot to post but that will wait until I'm home.  Goodbye Vegas.  I didn't take all your money but you didn't take all mine either.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Just hitting my stride

Just a short note from the Land of Enchantment, no isn't that New Mexico?  How about the land of anything goes?  First two days have been difficult on the gambling front but yesterday seemed to turnin our favor .  The PQ got on a mini run playing VP at the Hard Rock of all places and I did ok everywhere we went but small profits only.

We were downtown on Monday night getting killed at the D and Binions (well I did ok at Binions at least) but I could not believe the zoo that awaited us on Fremont St when we were leaving.  Wow just about anything goes there. It was wild. Strange. And a lot of other things.

Well gotta run, breakfast at the Peppermill is waiting.  Hope y'all are having as much fun as I am.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

I've got this feeling

That today's the day.  Yes indeed it is.  Shortly we are heading out to the airport.  I always get this feeling I've forgotten something once it's too late for me to go back and get whatever I missed.  And I usually have forgotten something, though it's never anything that important like wallet or credit cards or plane ticket.  But I do hate forgetting stuff.  Too bad my mind is like a sieve and all the small stuff sifts right through it.  Some of the larger stuff too now that I think about it.  But not the minor unimportant stuff like the lyrics to a song by America

We were watching the country music awards a few days ago.  Wow what a disappointment.  I don't listen to much music today, especially not modern stuff.  My daughter on the other hand is a huge country music fan now which means we watch the CMAs.  Anyway they're playing all these songs and NONE OF THEM ARE COUNTRY.  I know country has gotten more poppy and rock and roll like but really?  Can it hurt these guys to throw in a fiddle or god forbid a steel guitar once in a while?  Just a little twang from time to time.  The only twang is in their voices (if you don't listen to Keith Urban speak that is) and all you hear are electric guitars. 

Now I am no country purist by any stretch and I know music is constantly changing and evolving but wow, that was shocking.  They acknowledged a few older stars but really the only one who sang was a duet by Loretta Lynn.  While we were watching my wife started listening to some old George Strait on her computer and turned it up a couple of times.  I wasn't surprised to remember all the words to The Chair as I always really liked that song but then she put on Does Ft Worth Ever Cross Your Mind and I remembered all of that one too.  Now there is some twang baby.  While she was drooling over the old pictures of George (and he is a handsome dude I will admit) I was singing along in my own inimitable way.  Cold Ft Worth beer just ain't no good for jealous, etc etc.  

Well enough of me lamenting what I can't change.  Only old farts like me listen to that kind of country and obviously the young ones love the new country at least judging from my daughter and some of her pals they do.  And that's where the money is. But while they're singing new country and watching new videos I'm winging my way to Vegas in a few hours.  Take that kiddies.   So on that note, I'm outta here.  Doubt I will post much while I'm there but you never know.  I will try to take some pics.  I do have one here.  Its my next vehicle.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

So close I can just about taste it

Wow only 4 days till my next Vegas adventure.  The wait is killing me.  But I got so much to do at work before I leave that I'm gonna be near exhausted by the time I leave.  And while Vegas is the ultimate fun time, it's not known to be a place for me to get a lot of rest and relaxation.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Our anniversary dinner on Saturday was really nice.  Food was good, the views were outstanding, and we all had a great time.  A cold front had come in that day and it was actually chilly and very windy outside.  As the sun was going down in the Gulf, there were a couple of different brides and grooms having their pictures being taken right there on the beach.  The wind was really whipping at times and I'm sure they were pretty chilled, especially the brides.  The grooms at least had jackets on.  But I'm also pretty sure they didn't care at all.  Ain't love grand?

Our sunset view on Saturday night

I'm finding there's so much to do to get ready for Vegas.  I needed new shoes badly, my sneakers were shot, my dress shoes were shot, and I really wanted to get a new pair of deck shoes.  So I started looking around online but I never bought shoes online before and I hate to buy without trying them on because I want to make sure I get a good fit.  So I decided to check out some of the sneakers I was looking at online at a shoe store and while there maybe pick up a pair of dress shoes.  Went over to Peltz and found a pretty good deal on some loafers.  I also tried on some New Balance sneakers I was looking at online and found the right size to fit me well.  So now I know what size to order and I can get them online a good bit cheaper than at the store.  Only one problem still remained.  I don't want to spend more money. 

Then it hit me.  I'm sitting on $250 worth of Amazon gift cards I won in some contests online.  I wonder if Amazon carries New Balance shoes  Why yes they do, and there's the ones I was looking at.  Good price too.  Sold.  Hey I still have plenty left, lets look at some deck shoes.  Here's a pair of Timberland and look, they're on sale for less than $50.  Sold again.  2-3 days later everything arrived and fit perfectly.  I've been wearing the deck shoes and sneakers around a bit to make sure they're well broken in before we leave.  I don't see a problem at all.  And it's great to buy things and not spend your own hard earned cash.  As Fast Eddie Felson said, "Money won is twice as sweet as money earned".  Too right.

I heard there was snow on Mt Charleston a few nights ago.  I wonder if any will be there still when we get to Vegas.  I haven't been out in snow in at least 12 or 13 years.  Maybe we'll take a little side trip out there one day.  Where else should we go?  Last year we hit Zion and the big ditch Grand Canyon.  We've been to the Hoover Dam.  I'd like to get somewhere off the beaten path a bit and see what's out there.  So I'm looking for different day trips I can take from Vegas.  After all I can't gamble all the time can I?  What am I, PPP?

Had some fun at work this week.  Had a coworker go up to Cleveland last weekend.  She came in Tuesday morning and the following conversation comes up

Me      Kelly, how was Cleveland?
Kelly   It was nice.  Cold but really nice
Me      Kelly, people who live in Cleveland don't even think it's nice
Kelly   Some do
Me      Well yeah, I'm sure that guy who kept 3 women as hostages in his home thought it was nice
Jan       You're sick
Me       After this long you're finally realizing this?
Jan       No, every day you go and prove it a little bit more. 

What can I say, they love me there. 

Well I better wrap this up so I can get ready for another wonderful day at work.  Hope I can get by without working 12 hours today but we'll see.  At least I get paid overtime for the extra hours.  Went in to see my boss yesterday and told him I'd need to take Thursday and Friday off this week.  All this working was interfering with me getting ready for vacation.  My request was unfortunately denied.  So I'm off.  Have a great day folks

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Anticipa - a - a - tion

Its the 1st of November and Fall has finally fallen in the Tampa Bay area.  Windy, kinda cool (for us anyway) and a tang of Autumn is in the air.  It reminds me of September in Rhode Island long ago when I was a young lad. 

The 1st of November also means that in 8 days, the Poker Queen and I will be winging our way west to the bright lights of LAS VEGAS, NEVADA!!!  Oh boy are we ready for this vacation.  6 days in Sin City, what could be better?  I've been playing a bit of poker over the last couple of months to get back into the swing of it as I hadn't played too much in the year before this.  I plan on playing a few tourneys while we're there.  I'd also like to not embarrass myself should I play some 1-2 no limit with some of those card sharps like Lightning or Vegas Rob.  There will also be copious amounts of adult beverages imbibed, food consumed and possibly a road trip somewhere to the hinterlands.  Yes it will be fun. 

We did get some good deals.  We found some really good air fares on the only airline flying direct from Tampa to Vegas - Southwest Airlines.  5 of 6 nights are comped at the Flamingo, the last night will be at the Silverton where we got a nice room deal for a Saturday night and we liked the staff there so much last time we were in town.  We've also got some retired friends joining us for a couple of days from the wilds of San Diego.  Any way you slice it, we're gonna have some fun. 

I've stayed busy some other ways.  For one I've picked up the golf clubs after an extended time off and started playing a bit.  Man do I suck.  When I first started playing golf many years ago I hit my irons really well but not my woods.  Then I started hitting the 3 and 5 wood well and just not the driver.  Now about the only club I can hit relatively well is the driver.  And I'm putting ok too.  I never was a good putter before either. 

This was a really wet summer for Florida.  We usually get some rain almost every day in the summer but normally a half hour or hour's shower.  This year we had days of rain.  It was so wet I played in a course more mud than grass one day and was cancelled out another day because some of the holes were under water.  But for the past month or so the weather has been really nice.  My cousin and brother were down here early in October and we went out to play a round.  The course was almost dried out by then.  We drank quite a bit, ate quite a bit, and stories were told of my youth that some of my in laws had never heard before.  It was a fun time.

Tonight the PQ and I are going out to dinner in early celebration of our anniversary.  The trip to Vegas is also in celebration of our anniversary.  The actual anniversary date is on Monday the 3rd but we're gonna celebrate it all month.  Hey it's 30 years.  We deserve to celebrate for a while.  Tonight we are being joined by my sister in law Becky and her husband Tod.  Today is their actual anniversary, number 28 for them.  We are going to be dining at St Pete Beach in a restaurant on top of one of the hotels.  Beautiful view of the Gulf and beaches and everything else.  The restaurant actually spins around and I made the reservation early enough so that we'll be able to watch the sunset into the Gulf.  Last of the great romantics I am. 

I actually went to this place with my cousin and his friends a few weeks ago.  I had never heard of it before and after living here all this time, there is apparently a lot I don't know about my home.  While we were at dinner last time, some moron who was sitting with his back to the windows decided to tilt back in his chair.  The feet of the chair slipped out and I'm not sure if his head or his chair hit the window behind him but the window actually shattered.  Pieces of glass went down to the ground about 12 stories below, luckily not hitting anyone.  Pieces also landed inside the restaurant, luckily not impaling the man.  He did get a decent cut to the back of his head but I'm not sure if that was from contact with window or floor.  It did lend some excitement to the evening.  At first I thought someone had gone through the window.  Now that would have been exciting.  But not necessarily in a good way. 

Well it's time to get ready for dinner.  I hope everyone is having a good weekend and if someone is gonna be in Vegas between the 9th and 15th let me know.  If not I hope you're playing poker better then I am.  In the immortal words of Marco from Tropoja "Good Luck."

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Back to the asylum

Just to prove I'm not really crazy, I decided to visit the Hard Rock last night for a little more torture NL Holdem action.  I was immediately seated at a 1-1 no limit table.  At least I didn't have to wait long for a playable hand.  3rd hand I'm in the small blind and get AK off.  There were 5 limpers so I raised to $6.  Everyone called including the big blind.  Flop completely missed and I check folded to a bet and raise.  That was the story of my night every time I got AK (at least 4 times).  Raise, bunch of callers, whiff the flop, someone bets, someone raises, I fold.  Felt like every other flop had an A or K or both but not when I held those cards.  Or AQ or AJ.  I didn't get either of those very often but they also failed to improve.

In less than an hour I'm down almost $50 and wondering how bad this session will go.  But then things turned around.  I picked off a bluff when I flopped a pair of jacks and called the guy in seat 1 when he tried to steal the pot on the river.  This got much of my losses back.  From there I just held even for awhile and watched the action.  I kept my range pretty tight which set me apart from most of the rest of the table.  I won a couple of small pots with JJ (got that 4 times, outside of 1 hand, the best pocket pair I saw all night) when the flops were low.  Then came the key hands.

Lady to my right in late position limps in with about 6 others.  Flop was AK2 all diamonds.  Everyone checks and she bets out about 6 bucks.  Guy in seat 7 calls.  Turn is another K.  She bets $10 and he calls her again.  River is a black 3.  Seat 7 leads out for $25.  She raises him all in for another $60 or so.  He has her covered by about $50 and calls her.  He flips over K2 for the boat.  She shocks the table by flipping over AA for the bigger boat.  No one could believe she held AA on that hand.  Well played madam.  I made sure I when I tangled with her I had the goods or at least could represent them.  And the poor guy in seat 7.  It wasn't the last time he took the worst of a big hand.

A few hands later I was dealt QQ in the big blind.  There were 5 limpers including the guy in seat 7.  I raised to $7 from the small blind and all but one called.  Not ideal but for the only time that night, I had a pocket pair that hit.  And it hit HARD.  Flop was AQQ with 2 diamonds. Now how do I get big value out of this.   I checked the flop and so did everyone else.  Ok, not ideal either.  Turn was an 8  unfortunately not a diamond.  I led out for $10 and got 2 callers.  River is a 5, also not a diamond damnit.  I decided to try a weak play and see if someone would make a move.  So I bet $7.  Seat 7 raises all in for another $30.  Seat 1 regretfully folds.  I immediately call and flip over the Queens for flopped quads.  It was unfortunate there were no bonuses for big hands outside of royals there.  It was also very unfortunate the K of diamonds didn't hit the flop or river.  I'd have lost the hand to Seat 1 and his royal flush draw but would have won around 25K for the bad beat jackpot.  I wouldn't have minded losing with quads that time.  But it was not to be.  If any other diamond had hit the turn or river, Seat 1 said I'd have cleaned him out too as he would have pushed in.  I waited a little later to do that to him.  I didn't see what seat 7 held but I think it was either AK or AJ.

I got Seat 1 a little later.  I was dealt Q8 of diamonds in the small blind and checked from the small blind along with 5 limpers.  Flop was Q 10 3 with 2 spades.  I bet out 5 bucks and 2 callers then Seat 1 raised to 12.  I thought for a bit and put him on a small 2 pair, a flush draw, or possibly a Q 10.  I was the only caller of the raise.  Turn was an Ace of diamonds.  Now I have the queens plus the flush draw.  He only bet out 10 and I felt priced in.  River was the 8 of clubs giving me 2 pair.  I didn't like the feeling that this guy might have a bigger 2 pair so I checked.  He pushed all in for $24.  He had lost a chunk of chips a few hands earlier on a semi bluff and that factored into my thinking.  I took a couple of minutes to work through the hand.  Based on the fact he didn't bet the turn very hard, I really didn't put him on Q-10 because if I had that in that setting, I would have tried to take it down on the turn to prevent the flush draws - both diamonds and spades - that were there on the turn.  So I figured either the small 2 pair or the busted draw and eventually called.  I was right as he had 10-6 of spades for a small pair and flush draw. 

That hand put me up about $120 for the day.  Wait a minute, I actually am having a positive session?  Maybe I should quit now.  But I didn't.  I got a lot of cards that I folded, played a few hands that were unsuccessful, then got JJ in the small blind.  Only 2 limpers at the point so I raised to $5 and got 2 callers.  Flop was sweet, 8-4-2 with 2 spades.  I led out for $10 and the guy in seat 8 pushes back for $30.  Now I have to think hard.  The guy had just lost a hand a few minutes before when he flopped 2 pair and let the guy in seat 1 stay in the hand on the turn and then he rivered a small flush to beat him.  That definitely figured into my thinking.  I took maybe 3 minutes thinking about the hand and in the end I decided he either had a small pair, a set, or maybe a flush draw.  I really thought it might be a case of him thinking I had AK or AQ and he felt he could push me off the hand as I flopped nothing.  But something inside me said he had 44 or 22 and feared a flush draw this time.  Eventually I folded.  I was debating fold or put him all in for another $60 on top.  If I'm wrong I lose almost all my profits and maybe that weighed into my decision.  No maybe, it did a little bit.  What do you guys think?  I never saw his hand so I don't know if he stole it or I avoided a big trap. 

The poker gods apparently decided I blew that hand.  I didn't get anything much for the next hour or 2.  I folded a lot but the few times I did play I missed everything and my stack dwindled to about a 40 buck profit.  I was in the big blind in an unraised pot with 3-5 off.  As the dealer spreads the cards I'm thinking  "Ace, deuce, four".  He listened.  Ace of clubs, 2-4 of diamonds.  I lead out for $6.  Seat 7 again pushes all in for around $55.  He had taken another beating on a hand when he raised with AA, got 2 callers, bet out on a KJx flop and lost to seat 1 who called with KJ.  So I figured he had a hand and didn't want the flush draw to hit.  Everyone else folds, I call and when an 8 and a Jack, non diamond, hit the flop and turn I flip over the 3-5 for the wheel straight.  Guy is stunned and that's it for him tonight.  He went through $400 and lost every big hand he was in.  Some times this game is just a bitch and tonight he was the fire hydrant.    

The PQ texted me that it was time for dinner not much later so I packed up a nice $110 win and headed out.  My daughter and her pal who was in town for the day met us so we dined at the Rise deli and bakery.  We had some tasty food, I went for the chicken pot pie.  It was HUGE.  It tasted delicious and smelled like victory.

Now it's time for me to get my fantasy teams together.  I have Adrian Peterson on two of them.  Guess I better sub him out today.  Hopefully not for the rest of the season.  Have a great Sunday everyone and Go Bucs. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Defining Insanity

The definition of insanity they say is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  In that vein I decided I would visit Derby Lane again last Saturday and take on another tournament.  I got there just in time for the 6pm tourney but only 15 people were in it and I hate playing tourneys that shorthanded.  So I decided I would play some NL holdem for a while and play in the 8pm tourney which is usually much better attended. 

Boy the results were very similar to my last NL foray the week before.  In less than an hour I was down about $85.  Living proof that yes, I am insane.  I worked hard on it and made my way back.  Got AA and raised to get 3 callers.  Flop was jack high and with my shortened stack I decided to push all in then rather than wait.  2 folds and the 3rd guy hemmed and hawed but eventually called my push with QJ.  He did not improve and that started my comeback.  Eventually I got myself up to -$20 by the time they called the 8pm tourney and I called it quits.

The tourney went much like the previous one.  Struggling to keep a stack together.  Not getting much in the way of hands.  I did manage to take out a shortie when he pushed his A8 into my AQ.  Otherwise it was back and forth keeping my head above water and never getting up to an average stack after the first break.  I was sitting to the right of a fairly aggressive guy and hoping to take a shot on him.  I did push him off a hand with a pure bluff but he probably had nothing either.  Then we got into a blind vs blind hand when I flopped top pair.  He called my 2/3 pot bet on the flop.  The flop had 2 hearts on it which worried me some as I'd seen he liked to play suited cards, especially connectors.  The turn gave me 2 pairs but also put a 3rd heart on the board.  I made a little less than half pot bet and he raised me up.  I thought long and hard about this hand.  What I ended up coming down to was I doubted he called my flop bet without a flush draw.  So I dumped the 2 pair.  Not sure if it was the right play tho later he told me he had the flush. 

A little while later he was gone.  He was in the big blind.  Under the gun raised and the lady next tom him with a pretty big stack called.  Another caller in late position.  I dump my crap hand but guy to my left pushes all in over the top.  UTG has been pretty loose but he immediately folds however the lady to his left goes all in as well.  She was loose early but tightened up a lot after getting a decent stack.  The other guy in the hand dumps his hand after thinking a while.  The lady turns over pocket 10s which surprised me a bit while the guy to my left had AK suited.  I was really surprised the lady went in with 10s at that point.  She had plenty of chips to afford losing the original call but was risking almost her whole stack on the push.  AK did not improve and my neighbor was out.  He was truly surprised she called him with 10s and it turns out the UTG player folded JJ that hand.  The other caller said he had AQ.  UTG said when she called him he put her on a bigger pair than JJ so his fold was easy.  He was surprised she only held 10s as well. 

Otherwise, nothing to remarkable to report.  I actually thought I played ok but there was nothing memorable.  I was 7th in chips when we got to the final table and was looking for opportunities to double up.  The cards I probably should have played a bit looser on the final table I think but there were a couple of people pushing hands and I tried not to run afoul of them.  Eventually we got down to 6 left with 5 getting paid.  Yours truly was 6th.  I pushed in with 9-9 and the lady from my previous table calls with JJ.  She had played maybe 1 hand since we got to the final table.  I did not improve and went out on the bubble.  We had a deal to pay $20 each to the bubble boy (or girl) so I made a few bucks out of the tourney.  All told for the night I lost maybe $10.  Not bad for an entire evening pitching cards till about 1:30am.  Wish the tourney results had been better but I'm still getting into the tournament groove.

By the way, I hope some of you Vegas regulars can give me some tips on when and where the best tourneys are there.  I'm looking for relatively inexpensive tourneys, under $150, that have a good turnout.  I hate tourneys with 2 or 3 tables.  Also tourneys with a decent blind structure would be nice.  I expect to put in a fair amount of time playing craps, some NL holdem and maybe a little limit Omaha 8, some tourneys, and monkey mashing some sweet VP buttons for fun.  Plus the requisite visits to Hash House, the Peppermill, and a few other places.  Anyone got an opinion on the Binions steakhouse? I was thinking of dinner there one night.  I've heard the views are pretty nice and the food ain't bad either. 

The week hasn't been a complete bust.  I'm sure some of you remember me mentioning a while back I won an Ipad online in a trivia quiz.  Well both me and the PQ have struck again.  Late last week I took down a $200 gift card to Amazon and a couple of days ago the PQ struck for a $350 card.  Ka Ching.  And since she won so much, she stopped asking what I was gonna get her with my card.  That's a win for both of us.  Of course it didn't stop our daughter Betty Crocker from asking what we both were gonna get her.  Have I mentioned how much I miss having the house to just the PQ and me?  Ah well, all too soon she'll marry a Buccaneer or Ray player and leave her family in the dust. 

Well time to wrap up this missive.  I gotta make a reservation for a room for one more night.  We got 5 nights comped already but we're spending another night there as well.  Think I found a good deal.  Also need a shower as the PQ is coming to fetch me soon and we're gonna hit the Hard Rock tonight.  Poker for me and VP for her.  Hopefully I'll be there late enough to catch the PPV Mayweather fight tonight as they will be showing it in the poker room as well.  I hope everyone has a great weekend and I'll try to post tomorrow to update you on my latest round of insanity.