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, 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. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

It's back again

Yes it's that other special time of year, it's the beginning of the NFL season.  I've been looking forward to this for awhile.  So far I have 4 fantasy teams going this year and I like the looks of 3 of them.  We won't talk about the 4th one, at least not today.  In about 40 minutes it's kickoff time and I plan to be comfortably ensconced in my recliner with a Magic Hat #9 in my hand. 

I really haven't been doing too much since celebrating my birthday a month and half ago.  We celebrated our daughter's 22nd birthday last month.  Yes my baby is 22, now I feel old.  What am I saying, I've been feeling old for a good while.  Tomorrow is my middle child's birthday.  He'll be 28 this year.  Holy cow.  Now I know I'm over the hill.  As one of my teachers used to say, I've got one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.  But enough of this maudlin bullshit. 

Outside of all these birthdays, the PQ and I have been planning our next Vegas trip in November.  Its supposed to be in celebration of our 30th anniversary but c'mon now, do we really need a special reason to go to Vegas?  We've got 5 nights comped at the Flamingo but it looks like we'll have to actually spend a little money for 1 more night's lodging.

To prepare for Vegas I've started getting back into the poker swing.  I took a bit of a break as I was running pretty bad for a while.  I decided to play a tourney a few weeks ago and though I was a bit rusty, I played ok.  Ended up going out 13th when they paid top 7.  I was short most of the time and felt good about my play all in all. 

Last weekend I decided to get in some more practice.  Saturday I was over at the Hard Rock.  While the PQ was mashing the sweet VP machines very successfully, I was getting my ass handed to me playing 1/2 NL.  I started ok.  Not great hands but stayed patient and made one guy with trips pay to see my straight.  Then the wheels fell off.  Good flops getting crushed by bad rivers.  Twice I flopped two pair only to lose to river flushes.  And I wasn't giving them bargain odds to draw to them either.  On the other hand, none of my draws were hitting.  Which was costing me money too. 

After a few hours I was down $150 and contemplating calling it a day.  Some days you got it and some days you ain't got it.  But I decided to try and grind a bit more and see if I could change my luck.  And luckily I did.  I'm not saying I made money but I ended up down about $50.  Which is a victory from where I was at.  I didn't think I played badly but I was unlucky a few times.  I do have to pay a little more attention to bet sizing sometimes.  That cost me on one hand and prevented me from winning more on another.

Labor Day I thought would be a nice day to play another tourney.  So I headed over to Derby Lane for their 1 pm tourney.  Spent a couple of hours folding cards.  it was garbage hand after garbage hand and yet as soon as I try to steal a pot, I get called then reraised.  Oops.  So much for that.  I did manage to win a pot with a 9-2 when a 2 hit the turn and at the first break my 12K starting stack was down to about 10.  At that time I had been dealt exactly one pocket pair - 3's that of course did not improve on the flop. 

But I held tight to my chips and just stayed out of trouble.  Channeled my inner Mojo and waited out the cards.  As the blinds climbed I got down to around 12 big blinds when I woke up with pocket 9s.  Loose guy to my right had already put in a raise so I pushed all in over him.  Everyone else folds and the loose guy thinks a second and dumps it too.  Then I start to make something happen.  I bust a short stack and take some chips off a large one when I flop 2 pair.  Then I get a walk when I raise with AJ which gets me up to an average stack.  That lasted all of 1 hand.  The very next hand I get QQ.  This is the last hand before the 2nd break.  Raise again.  5 callers.  Yuck.  Flop has a king and I give it up to a bet by one of the callers.  So I'm a bit below average at the 2nd break. 

Come back from the break and they move this really big stack in a few seats on my right.  He has no qualms calling raises with at the very least speculative hands.   This costs him a chunk of chips when the guy sitting just to my right raises all in and he calls with J8.  Guy to my right has QQ and takes a big chunk off the guy.  He's still the table big stack but he's not huge and you would think he'd be a little leery of this guy now since he has enough chips to really take a piece out of him.  And you'd be wrong. 

First the guy across the table puts in a raise to 4K in early position which big stack calls.  I wake up with KK and push all in for about 18K.  Folds back to the original raiser who calls for a large part of his stack.  Surprisingly the big stack folded.  He only had about 90K so I was a bit surprised he folded but he must have had something like 7-2 off based on the rest of his play.  I flip over my cards and the other guy flips AQ.  He doesn't improve and I'm off the mat though still a little below average. 

Then the big hand happens.  We're down to around 22 people and a guy across the table pushes all in for around 12K.  The big stack calls but then the guy to my right who is sitting on about 60K pushes all in.  Now this is about two thirds of his stack but the guy isn't fazed and calls anyway.  He's already busted a couple of other guys while holding some pretty marginal cards.  Guy to my right flips over AK, guy across the table has AQ, and the big stack flips over 10-7 suited.  Flop is A J 8 and the guy to my right is happy as he's looking at a huge double up.  Turn is a 2.  River is a 9 and the guy to my right starts to celebrate till he sees he just got sucked out on.  The big stack is now the ginormous stack as he wipes these guys out. 

Our table gets broken and I'm moved to a new table.  Mr Enormous stack is moved to the same table.  I don't mind because I think I can get a chunk off him if I get a chance.  But blinds keep moving up and I'm short, maybe 18th out of 19.  I'm in late position and push all in with 77 but the lady in the small blind calls me with JJ.  Amazingly I suck out a river 7 and I'm still in.  Even though I doubled up I'm not even an average stack.  Mr big stack keeps calling bets with some weak holdings but now he isn't catching cards and is giving away chips.  Just not to me. 

I get AA in late position and make a raise but am called by the JJ lady in the big blind.  I noticed she is also playing some pretty ragged hands.  Flop is J 4 2 and she checks to me.  I push all in for about 25K and she thinks a minute and calls.  She has 4-8 suited and seems surprised to see me with aces.  She does not improve and now I am almost comfortable.  I at least have an average stack around 75K.

Lady across from me gets all in with another guy and Mr not so big stack.  She wins knocking out the one guy and taking another chunk from the big stack.  She's up to about 100K and he probably now has 150K.  I'm looking for a chance to hit him up.  But instead she tangles with the guy again pushing bets at him on the flop and turn only to fold on the river when he pushes all in on her.  Now she's down to about 60K.  She's in the small blind when I get AA again.  Blinds are 2500/5000 so my 75K isn't an amount I can sit on.  Mr Big stack has already bet so I raise him up to 30K.  I'm really hoping he tries to push back.  Instead I get called by the gal in the small stack and he folds.  I'm ok with that.  Flop is queen high with 2 clubs.  I decide to not fool around here and push all in which puts her all in if she calls.  She does with 89 of clubs.  Really?  You call half your stack away with those 2 cards when I have not shown down one bad hand?  Then you call the rest of your stack away?  Of course she rivers a club and there goes most of my chips.  I'm soon out in 14th.  Not sure if I should have played that differently or not but I didn't feel I played poorly in the tourney.  I got really lucky one time and really unlucky another but all in all I was satisfied with my play if not my results.

So that's what I've been doing.  I'd like to play in the Senior tournament at Derby Lane this Saturday but we'll be celebrating my son's birthday so that's out.  That's ok as a couple of weeks from now they're all going to Disney World but I won't be going so I'll have some more chances to pitch some cards.  I see the Packers had no answer for Seattle tonite.  I'm not overly surprised.  Hope y'all are doing well and I hope some of you will be in Vegas in November.  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

It's That Time of Year

It's that special time of year again.  Yes it is the middle of summer but here in Florida, the middle of summer runs from May through October so that's no big deal.  The WSOP just played down to the final 9 which is pretty special, at least to those nine guys.  BTW how incredible is it for Mark Newhouse to make the final table 2 years in a row.  I thought Dan Harrington's run in 2003-2004 was pretty special but he only had to deal with fields of 800 and 2500.  The last 2 years have had 6300 and 6600 players.  So hats off to Newhouse.

No the special thing is of course, the anniversary of my birth.  A little before midnight on July seventeenth, Nineteen hundred and too long ago, I made my presence known to the world.  The PQ would tell you I haven't stopped making noise since.  She's probably right.                            .

Thursday was the actual birthday and my wife surprised me by taking me to Bern's Steak House in Tampa.  If you've not heard of Bern's or have been to Tampa but never been there, let me recommend it whole heartedly.  It was recently ranked the #2 steakhouse in the US by Daily Meal but hell I can't judge that.  I've been to a grand total of 2 high end steak houses, Berns and Don Shulas.  But I will say the 2 times I went to Bern's were without a doubt two of the best meals I've ever had.  Just go there prepared to spend a bit of time there.  It's not a dinner you eat, it's an entire dining experience.  The choices are many, the beef is tasty and tender, the sides are delicious (the PQ even ate and loved the carrots and that's not something she normally does) and the wine list is enormous.  They have their own farm and grow a lot of the veggies they serve.  For first timers I would heartily recommend taking the tour of the kitchens and wine cellar, an enjoyable experience.  Also make sure to tell your waiter you want to hit the dessert room as well.  The entire upstairs of the restaurant is a dessert room with many choices of high end desserts, cheeses, and liquors.   Here was my dessert, carrot cake with hazelnut ice cream and warm hot fudge sauce on the side. 

We had the NY Strip for two.  2 inches thick of fabulous tasting choice beef.  We also added an order of mushrooms which had to be the best tasting mushrooms I have ever had.  And as good as these were, I made an even better decision to order some Port Wine cream sauce.  OMG I could have sat there and just drunk the stuff.  Next time I'll get two or 3 orders of it and pour it on everything.  Holy guacamole was it gooooooood.

So tonight we're doing the actual birthday celebration.  We'll have about 12 people over for Chicken Bog.  My younger son is bringing over a smoked pork butt and my daughter made a delicious looking german chocolate cake.  The house is smelling delicious.  And surprisingly I'm hungry again.  Shocking after that last dinner.

Not much else is happening here.  Work, eat, sleep, repeat.  We did make reservations for Vegas in November as part of our 30th anniversary celebration.  I'm definitely looking forward to that.  I went and played a bit of poker a couple of weeks ago.  That did not go well.  Bad cards and bad results.  Managed to lose a set to a straight draw when this lucky chick went on a tear and had the deck hit her upside the head.  45 offsuit and of course she turns the straight.  There was one guy constantly raising hands to my right so I opened up my range but all it did was cost me.  Suited connectors, small pairs, good cards, it didn't matter as I couldn't buy a flop to help me.  Then one hand I finally get KK.  He of course raises it up.  I reraised him and he pushes me all in.  I seriously doubt you have aces sir so I call.  He has A 10 and of course rivers an ace.  Nothing helps me on the flop or turn so I gave up after that.  Sometimes poker really sucks. 

Well time for dinner so I'll finish this up tonight.  Time to be my usual charming self. 

Or actually finish it up tomorrow.  Happy Sunday morning.  I'm doing the rest of this post in between cooking breakfast for the PQ and our daughter.  BTW if you love bacon, you have to try baking it rather than cooking it on the stove.  All you do is take a baking sheet, put a sheet of parchment paper on it, lay the bacon on it then put it in the oven.  Then turn the oven on and set to 425.  Regular sliced bacon takes about 17-18 minutes and thick sliced is about 21 minutes.  Comes out perfectly done with very little mess.  The oven doesn't even get to 425 before it's done except for the thick stuff.  I never cook it on the stove anymore. 

I had a good birthday with a lot of laughs and hey isn't that what you get together for?  I have no blood relatives here so it's all my wife's family plus my boy's girlfriends but I get along with them all pretty well and they seem to have accepted a conservative Yankee in their midst - at least I give them someone to argue with and try out the George Bush jokes on. 

We got a dog a couple of weeks ago.  I don't know if I mentioned but our old dog Izzy had to be put down.  She had a tumor wrapped around her intestines.  I was not ready for that nor was the PQ.  But she didn't suffer at least.  She did leave a bit of a void in our life but we delayed getting another dog because of the cruise we were gonna take.  Well a few weeks after our return the PQ and Betty Crocker (BC from now on, she got this nickname at work because of all the goodies she has baked for them already.  My daughter definitely knows the way to people's hearts lol) found a rescue dog on a website and decided they wanted him.  We actually got his brother I think and he's a good dog.  Terrier/Maltese mix.  Pretty calm but likes to run around some as he is only 3 years old.  He was in a hoarder's house and I think he may have been abused by a man because he doesn't warm up to most men easily.  But he's good with me now and we have fun.  Last night I was reclining and he jumped on me and sat on my shoulder like he was a parrot and I was Blackbeard.  His name is Mico but my wife has given him two names.  Stinker and Mico You Little Shit. 

Last weekend I decided to do a big breakfast for all of my family and their girlfriends.  We had some biscuit mix to make the Red Lobster Cheddar Bay biscuits (OMG they are so good) so I made a batch of biscuits and gravy along with some eggs for those like my daughter and wife who don't like biscuits and gravy.  And they're supposed to be southerners.  Me, I never had biscuits and gravy until I was in my 20s.  It definitely is not on too many New England menus.  My younger son - who is turning into a pretty good cook himself not to mention a fantastic meat and cheese smoker - said to me while I was hard at work, "Let's see if your biscuits and gravy are better than mine."  A little later he grudgingly admitted that it was.  Thing is we both use the same recipe we pulled from the Pioneer Woman's website to make our biscuits and gravy.  I told him that's because my version was made with love because when your parents feed you they're really saying "I love you."  Not sure he bought that. 

Last night we were talking about Vegas, specifically how the women in Vegas tend to dress.  I was explaining to my sis in law that she needed to check out the legendary "Slut Parade" at the MGM next time they went to Vegas.  I told them a bit about some recent posts by Rob Vegas Poker (known as Boob Rob in this house after the PQ coined that term for him last year) and they got a good laugh at the EDC stuff not to mention how the clubgoers dress sluttier than the "working girls". 

Ran across this story yesterday here about a guy who beat the living crap out of an 18 year old guy who was having sex with his 11 year old son, then the dad called 911 to let them know they could come collect the POS from his living room floor where he left him unconscious and bleeding but still alive.  The Daytona Beach cops who showed up got Dad's story and declined to arrest him and the city chief of police basically said he could see nothing wrong as a cop or as a father with how the guy handled the issue.  According to the PQ who has over 25 years experience with the courts system, because the boy was under 12, if the rapist is convicted as charged he will get life for this little bit of deviancy.  And he should.  So I went to the Volusia County jail to see his booking photo.  Now I know what "beat the shit out of" looks like in real life

If this occurred to more of these people perhaps this would happen less often.  Perhaps not but then again I bet the victim's families wouldn't feel so helpless while the offender sometimes gets a slap on the wrist, especially if it's their first conviction. But I know in many areas the dad would have faced worse charges than the criminal.

Well time to end this missive before some readers mistake me for the immortal Boob Rob.  I hope everyone is having as fine a weekend as I am and I want to make sure I send some healing vibes to Lucki's mom.  Being a cancer survivor myself, I know firsthand how scary it can be.  And mine was no where near as serious.  Also I'm glad to see Gary (aka The Crafty Southpaw) is getting better and better.  He is an inspiration. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Back on the beach

Well I've finally dried out from my recent cruise across the Gulf of Mexico enough to attempt a little post about it.  It's not that I had to deal with a lot of bad weather or monster waves, but my liver and kidneys needed a break.  The PQ and I did our best to drink all of the rum on the boat but alas, being in the islands meant they could refill at each stop.  In case you hadn't guessed, it was one FUN boat ride. 

We left on a Saturday afternoon and by the time the ship went under the Sunshine Skyway bridge, I was already on my 3rd boat drink.  It was far from my last.  I tried some new things - escargot is better than I thought it would be - and just did my best to take it as easy as I could.  I was pretty close to burnout at work and just needed to refresh and recharge.  Mr Mai Tai helped a lot there.

Outside of drinking, I also did a fair amount of reading, eating, and of course, gambling.  The casino was bigger than I expected and most of the table games were decent.  The slots and especially Video Poker machines sucked royally.  Double Double Bonus VP paying 6-5?  WTF is that.  I tried a bit but hit nothing and gave up before I wasted more cash.  Besides there's a craps table calling me.  And that's what I did for the rest of the trip.

The PQ kept trying and not hitting on the VP but I learned my lesson early.  I didn't make a killing on the craps but I kept it pretty conservative and didn't lose anything.  I made a little.  Unfortunately not enough to pay off my booze bill.  Holy cow did we drink a lot.  Fortunately our cabin was only 3 doors down from the lobby bar so I didn't have far to stumble to reach my bed.  And I could blame it on the ship rolling instead of my inebriation.  Win-win right?

Because we had to wait for my niece to graduate from high school, we couldn't take the cruise until June.  Which meant we paid more for the cruise as they're cheaper before June, and even worse, a ton of kids were on the cruise.  Something like 900 passengers out of 2300 were kids.  Every day and night at all hours I'd hear kids running in the hall outside my door.  Unfortunately the PQ wouldn't let me string some fishing line across the hall and under the door to take down a few of the little maniacs darling angels as an example for the rest.  And man was it hot too.  Everyone else made sure they got plenty of sun and pool time but I opted for shade and booze time.  Win-win again.

Our first stop was in Grand Cayman.  We were only there about 6 hours and for us that meant going ashore for a little shopping.  Very little.  It turned out we got there on Queen Elizabeth's birthday.  Most of the island was closed up and since we were the only cruise ship in port, they really didn't have much reason to open.  We bought a few small things but nothing too much and were back on the boat early.  Gave me a chance to reacquaint myself with some more boat drinks at least. 

The next day we got into Cozumel, Mexico.  We've been there before so this time the girls were looking to find some bargains.  They brought me along to carry the wallet.  I did that quite well.  We had fun walking around town shopping but man was it hot.  After wandering around Mexico for a few hours it was time to head back to the boat for some A/C, a shower and of course, more boat drinks. 

We left Cozumel with the sun setting behind us and headed back toward Tampa.  It was beautiful sitting outside on the back of the boat (the fantail?) watching the land receding.  There were thunderstorms in the area and we could see the clouds flashing in the distance as we sailed away.  One more day at sea allowed me a bit more time to play craps.  Though my luck turned I made sure I didn't lose much so I came back to port with cash in my pocket along with the large booze bill we racked up.  It was a fun trip and truly allowed me a chance to recharge.  Once we got back the PQ found some good flights to Vegas and we planned out our trip in November.  I'm ready to go now.  Better practice up on my dice throws. 


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Three to get ready..........

And four to go.  As Peter, Paul, and Mary once sang (also John Denver) "All my bags are packed and I'm ready to go."  We are all packed up and we're about to take a short vacation.  This time it's a cruise in honor of my niece and my daughter's graduations from high school and college.  We'll have 5 days and nights on the high seas, time for plenty of relaxing, sun, along with some gambling (cuz you know my vacations will involve that at some point) and a full supply of boat drinks.  My plan are to do ........................... as little as possible. 

Before I go further I want to give major kudos to Memphis Mojo whose run to 3rd place in the WSOP senior event was truly inspiring.  I really enjoyed watching along online and following on Poker News - even though they kept changing his name and home town.  I noticed they even had it wrong on the broadcast when they introduced him and he had to correct the announcer. 

Well folks, I gotta wrap this sucker up.  I will hopefully have some good post material when I get back.  I hope everyone enjoys themselves as much as I will.  And I want to make sure I wish good luck to Lucki Duck on his upcoming foray into the WSOP.  Bon Voyage

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Finding the Muse

Wow it's been forever since I've posted anything here.  I'm almost surprised the site is still up and running without me.  I know I started posts 3 or 4 times over the past 10 months or so but I just couldn't keep up the momentum and finish a whole post.  And it's not like most of my posts are Rob Vegas Poker like missives either.  At least they're not supposed to be though I have been known to run off at the mouse at times.

Things have been pretty mellow at the homestead.  This has been a year of transition in a number of areas.  At work my department was split up.  We were handling so many areas of the business and more stuff was heading down the pike that we got split into a Cost Basis department and a much smaller Reporting department.  Cost Basis handles making sure the cost of stocks, bonds etc is updated correctly for our accounts and Reporting handles Pricing for all the securities along with Performance calculations and reporting for a number of different areas.  About 3/4 of the department stayed in Cost Basis while the rest went to Client Reporting.  I am in Client Reporting now.  I'd go and explain all I'm involved in but your eyes are probably glazing over now (much like the PQ does every time I talk shop) so suffice to say I'm enjoying it and it keeps things interesting.  And it pays the bills.  I got a nice raise last year when I took my new position and then they gave me a small one at end of year as well as a decent bonus too so I'm staying solvent.

After the department split, the PQ and I took a trip up to Biloxi for a bit of gaming around our anniversary date.  We had a really good time.  Biloxi is a much more laid back town than some other gambling areas like say .......... Vegas.  A lot older crowd for the most part but still a lot of fun for a semi old fart like myself.  We settled in at the Grand Biloxi - now called Harrahs Gulf Coast - and settled in for some good ole fashioned gamblin on the Red Neck Riviera.  It was not a great trip for me on the gambling front though I did have an epic roll on the craps table late one night.  The PQ on the other hand got on one of her hot streaks again.  The first full day in Biloxi we grabbed a nice breakfast at one of the few places around there not named Waffle House that served breakfast.  Then it was on to the glory for the PQ.

First place we visited was the Palace Casino.  First casino I ever went to that was non smoking.  Nice change for us non smokers.  I can't tell you how many times I've been playing at a VP machine only to have someone sit down next to me and immediately light one up.  And of course the smoke always seems to drift my way.  That's one good thing about Poker rooms, but no problem there however.  For me the VP was a complete bust but not so much for the PQ.  They had a progressive jackpot VP machine with the royal valued at over $2100.  Fifteen minutes later it was all gone.  The PQ pulls four to the royal and damned if the fifth card didn't come up on the draw.  Needless to say we had a good time that day.  And it didn't end there.  Later on we went to the Margaritaville  Casino and she pulled another royal good for another thousand bucks there.  I told you she runs in streaks and when she gets going good it's a sight to see.

We really had a fun time in Biloxi and also in New Orleans as we spent a little time there as well.  I got into a great roll on the craps table at the Harrahs there which was about the only highlight we had gambling there.  But we had some terrific food and enjoyed ourselves immensely.  We're gonna do that trip again, maybe next year as this year is pretty spoken for. 

Lets see what else is going on.  The boys are doing very well in their chosen professions.  My younger son took a position doing liaison between the IT department and his department.  He sets up computers for new employees, troubleshoots connection issues, etc.  He's really enjoying it and is doing a good job.  In fact I got a call from someone who worked with him and when he found out I was his dad, he had a lot of nice things to say about him.  The older son has been doing well in 911 and helping train people there.  He and his girlfriend are in St Augustine celebrating her birthday this weekend.  And the daughter just graduated from UCF last month.  So our final child is out of school but is now back in our house.  My days of strolling the house naked at all times have come to an end. 

My niece also graduated high school recently.  So for the two grads we're going to take a little cruise soon.  We're looking forward to that.  Nothing major, just over to Grand Cayman and Cozumel.  But I predict a lot of relaxing in the sun, many boat drinks, a bit of gaming on the high seas, and some good food to go with it.  We also found some good rates on flights to Vegas later this year.  A fine way to celebrate 30 years of marriage we decided.  So we'll be out there in November it appears.  I wasn't expecting to go to Vegas this year as a lot of our money is tied up in the cruise but hey, how many 30 year anniversaries to you get? 

Not much else has been happening on the home front.  I haven't been doing much gambling, in fact I haven't played in a live poker tourney or hit the Hard Rock in months.  And I've done very little gaming online too.  Saving up my gambling jones for the cruise I guess.  I wonder if they'll have any poker on the cruise.  Probably not but there's always VP.  And of course CRAPS. 
Anyway I just haven't felt like I had much to say to spend time spreading my banal thoughts on the net until just recently.  And you can probably tell I haven't improved much in the intervening months.  Well that's about all I got for now.  No good stories yet, nothing exciting.  I have kept up with some blogs so I'm not completely out of the loop.  Congrats to Mojo and Lucki for getting to play in Vegas soon.  I'm sure some others of you will be making your way to Sin City during the WSOP and beyond.  I hope you have do well and stay lucky. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Hard Times at the Hard Rock

For quite a few people but not necessarily for me.

I am on vacation this week.  We had originally planned to go to New Orleans as part of the 21st birthday celebration for our dear daughter, the youngest of our fold, which was on Monday.  But when she got a job this summer she was not able to get enough time off for us to drive out there and back.  She did take a mini vacation and was home until yesterday when she headed back to Orlando so I still took this week off and we spent a bit of time.  On her birthday we took her and 2 of her cousins to lunch at the Hard Rock and she gambled a little bit as we did too.  Everyone else bombed out but I managed to break even for the day which I called a victory.  But we had a good time and an excellent meal so that was a plus.  Happy Birthday little girl. 

Yesterday we went out to breakfast before she headed back.  After leaving the restaurant, I followed her toward Orlando with the idea of stopping at the Hard Rock for a bit of Omaha Hi/Lo fun.  I was not surprised that I was unable to keep up with my lead footed offspring on the highway but was even more surprised when I got closer to the casino and ran across a Florida Highway Patrol speed trap.  They had 4 or 5 cars working together where one guy ran radar and the others acted as chase cars.  I saw 3 guys pulled over, another cop waiting to chase and a guy on the radar gun.  Fortunately I noticed them before they noticed me and traffic was pretty thick so I was slowed down by the time I came to the radar man's attention. 

I was surprised when I arrived at the poker room and found no game of Omaha going yet.  I was 4th on the interest list and figured I had a bit of a wait before we would start but not 10 minutes later we had a full table ready to go and off we went.  I won a couple of small pots early to chip up a little bit then went dead for a while and my stack got whittled down a bit.  I went from about $20 up to $20 down in the space of an hour while not winning any hands and playing hardly any.  I mostly avoided getting involved and the few hands I did play did not match up with the flops at all.

After going through 3 dealer changes with no luck I was getting a little frustrated but having a lot of fun talking with the guys around me.  Finally I got into a hand with KQ 23 from the big blind.  Not a fantastic holding but the KQ were suited and it was worth hanging around.  Flop was nearly perfect as A 10  5 hit the board with the A5 of my suit.  While not having a made hand of any kind, I am drawing to the nut straight, the nut low, and the nut flush all at once.  I was a bit disheartened when I had to call a bet and raise after the flop.  The turn was sweet when an 8 hit giving me at least the low half of the hand.  Again a bet and then a raise by a guy to my left who liked to raise his made lows.  That's a good way to lose some money.  It gets reraised again and then capped before it gets to me and I have to call it down looking like I'm going to get a quarter of the pot for my low unless something good happens.  But I still have a lot of outs to win and on the river my savior, the Jack of clubs hits the board.  Again a bet and raise before it gets to me but when I reraised that lifted some eyebrows.  Again the betting is capped and I take down a big pot when my Broadway straight beat a set of 10s and a set of 5s.  Amazingly Mr Low Draw was playing 2-4 and was beaten by my 2-3.  After all that betting I had about $20 left in front of me and after getting that pot I had $300.  Not too shabby a pot for a $3-6 game.

The day went like that where I would have longish periods of nothing and then catch a few hands in a very short time and chip back up.  I took a big hit on a hand when I got two outed on a flopped full house.  I was in the big blind in a kill pot so had to call half a bet to stay in.  With 5 callers already and a so so hand of K Q 10 3 I felt it was a decent call.  Flop was beautiful Q Q 3.  I bet out and got 2 callers.  Turn was an Ace which I didn't care for, especially when the guy to my left bet out immediately.  I decided to be careful and just called his bet.  River is a 2 putting a low on the board.  Guy bets out again and this time I raise him as he usually played low hands.  Another guy calls and he re raises.  Damn that's not good.  I just call and my fears are realized when he flips over AA for the bigger full house.  The other guy has 45 for the nut low and I'm sucking it after flopping the nuts.  That was expensive.

But I didn't tilt and later on got involved in an even bigger hand.  It was another kill pot and I called a raise preflop with KKJ10 double suited.  The flop was good when Q 10 4 came down.  I had draws to the nut straight and 2nd nut flush and immediately bet out only to be raised and reraised.  What did I get myself into now?  But I called and hoped for a good turn.  Personally I wanted to see the Ace of spades to make the nut flush so I wouldn't have to worry about too many other possibilities but instead saw the 5 of hearts.  Now I have to call a bet and raise for double the original amounts and I still don't have a made hand.  I thought about folding but the pot was so big already and 4 others were still in the pot so I called but then had to call another 2 reraises that capped the betting for that round again.  I was feeling a little unhappy about all I put into this pot until the wonderful 9 of clubs hit the river.  It was bet once to me and now I got to reraise.  I thought I would be splitting the high hand with the bettor but he called along with one other guy and they looked pretty sick when I flipped over the straight to the king.  One guy had a set of queens and I don't know what the other had but it wasn't enough.  I dragged a huge pot again.  This put my stack up over $450. 

I played a while longer and actually got my stack up to $500.  Was planning on quitting but a couple of folks left the table and for some reason no one was called to replace them even though 5 people were on the list.  So I hung out until the table filled out again.  Big mistake.  Dealer kept dealing me great hands, giving me great flops then killing me on the turn and river.  I ended up losing about 60 bucks back to $440 but still left with a terrific score after starting with $100.  Lets just say I left the casino happy. 

Well enough posting for today.  I've got breakfast on my mind then a trip to the store to pick up some clothes I ordered from the catalog and finally either 18 holes of golf or a trip to the driving range.  I haven't decided which one.  At least I have some extra cash for a good breakfast and to decide with.  I hope everyone is having a good Friday and I hope you all stay lucky, as lucky as me.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Vegas Part 5 - All good things come to an end

But I wish I was still there.  I was politely informed that someone did not appreciate my attempts at showing the beauty and glory of the countryside and instead speak more of the neon lights and casino sights.  In other words, less Henry David Thoreau and more James McManus.  Well who am I to argue with one of my 2 or 3 readers.  So here ya go Lightning.

Before we start, I have it on good authority that Lightning has been killing it at the tables lately.  He has done so well he even made the headlines of USA Today - albeit as an "anonymous donor" but we all know who it was.  You can read all about it here

Friday was moving day.  We only had the room at Bally's till Friday because we first set up our reservations for 6 nights.  Getting 5 of them comped was pretty sweet.  But when we decided to stay another day I looked around because Bally's wanted a good bit more to stay longer.  Then I got an ad in the mail from Station Casinos with a special deal at both Green Valley Ranch and Red Rocks.  We had been to both casinos and liked them a lot but Red Rocks was a bit far out there.  So I went online and got a great rate from GVR and decided why not spend a night there.

We checked out of Ballys about 11 after grabbing breakfast down in the café there.  Nothing special but the coffee was good.  Then we decided to head over to Casino Royale to do some cheap gambling.  I wanted to throw the dice again and the PQ was determined to hit a royal on the video poker machines.  We played some VP for awhile and neither of us hit much.  I decided to try my luck with the craps table and the PQ moved to other machines in the back. 

Craps was a lot of fun.  Started slow but finally the dice got around to a guy in the corner and he had a good run then a guy to my right had a decent run then I went on a decent run.  I ran my original 100 up to a bit over $200 when the table got real choppy.  I held back on some bets and just played it slow with the Pass Line and the odds only but still couldn't get anything going and after I lost back to about $150, I decided to quit while ahead.  As the day went on we hung around until the evening rush hour slowed down then made our way south the Green Valley Ranch.

Apparently the thunderstorms from the day before were still tracking us because we could see clouds building as we headed out.  Looked like they were coming from the Northeast and coming Southwest toward the city.  By the time we got to GVR we could see rain was falling north of us.  Check in was pretty simple but I was again amazed by the number of people with small kids there.  One lady in front of us had a very young child in a carrier around the front of her.  She looked to be in her early 30s maybe.  I'm wondering why she felt she had to come to Vegas with a little kid but maybe there wasn't anyone else at home.  Then just before she is done with her check in, her husband comes up with 2 more kids aged about 7 and 5.  Ok, now really??  Again with the little kids in Vegas.  I thought this was a bad omen for my last night in Vegas but we got our room keys and such with no fuss and were out of the registration area pretty quickly.  I changed my mind about our last night as soon as I stepped in the room.  OMG what a beautiful room.  Hell the bathroom was about as big as my bathroom plus my kitchen at home.  All tile and marble and just beautiful.  The suite went on around the corner and was just fantastic. 

While we are settling into the room we can hear the thunderstorm brewing outside.  We look out the window which overlooks the strip and toward downtown and we can't see downtown at all due to the rain.  While we watch the clouds keep sweeping south and before long it's almost upon us and the strip is completely gone from sight.  Unfortunately I can't provide pics of the room or the storm as we left the cameras in the car.  Or maybe y'all are sick of all the ones I posted last time and you're cheering now.  Whichever it is, going to GVR was a hell of a good decision.  We were pretty much starving by then so we hit the café there for dinner since neither of us brought nice enough clothes to go somewhere more upscale.  We still had good dinners, prime rib for me and I'm not sure what the PQ had. 

After our late dinner I hit the poker room and got into a pretty wild 4-8 Omaha hi table.  Every pot was raised and reraised preflop and just about everyone but me saw every flop.  I managed to win a couple of hands to turn a profit but didn't hit a couple of nice wrap draws that would have really put me up big.  Unfortunately the table only stayed for about an hour so when the table broke I decided to quit and met up with the PQ. 

We found some video poker machines that were paying back a little over 100% for double double bonus which was the first we had found in Vegas.  We played on them for awhile but no big scores were made and then headed to a fairly early bed as I was still a little wiped out from the driving the day before. 

We got up the next morning and saw we didn't need to check out till noon.  Plenty of time to grab some breakfast and play a little more video poker.  Which we did.  Unfortunately again no big scores.  This trip was probably the worst the PQ has had of our last 3 or 4 as far as winning at VP.  For me I had that one fantastic night at the Silverton but the rest was pretty mundane.  The craps was pretty good by and large, more wins than losses but the other table games really sucked.

After breakfast and checkout we had some time to kill so we headed over to the M Resort to finish out our trip.  They were so nice to us before I wanted to make sure I gave them some more business.  I had a little luck on the VP there but lost a little on the craps game.  Before long it was time to head to the airport and the 5 hour flight to Tampa. 

The flight was pretty uneventful and nothing really of note to report.  Except for the chick sitting in the row behind us.  SHE    WOULD    NOT    SHUT    UP.  I put on my headphones and tuned into some Law and Order episodes on the airplane wifi with my Ipad.  Everytime I stopped watching and took them off all I could hear was this gal yammering.   It was just yammer yammer this   yammer yammer that.  blah blah blah blah blah.   At the end of the trip while the plane was landing she was still going.  This gal was one world class talker.  I expect she will spend time in the legislature at some point and she'll be the one they turn to when they need a filibuster. 

And that's what I did on my summer vacation.  At least the first one.  I'm on my second one now but it is not nearly as fun or exciting.  Hope everyone else is getting lucky.  Maybe one of you guys won the powerball this weekend?  If so I wouldn't mind a donation. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Vegas Part 4 - The Narrative Goes On and On and On...............................

After the incessant gambling we had done for the first 4 days of our vacation we decided Thursday would be our travel day.  Surprisingly we were both up early in the morning and out the door before 8 am.  Destination Zion National Park. 

I had seen pictures from there and it looked like there was a bleakness but also an austere beauty of the mountains, the rock formations, and the scenery in general out there.  So we headed out without even stopping for breakfast before we left.  We figured we'd be able to get off I-15 somewhere east of Vegas and grab some McDonalds or Burger King for breakfast. 

Well you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men.   Once we got past the traffic and the road construction heading north and east out of Vegas, there weren't any fast food places to stop at.  We zipped along getting hungrier and thankfully rolled into Mesquite about an hour later.  After a quick stop at McDonalds and another at Walmart to pick up some water, ice, and a cooler, we were back on the road.

Once you go through Mesquite you head into the Virgin River Gorge.  High hills on both sides and a road and river running between them.  I imagine in the Spring when the snowmelt is running that the river must be something.  In the middle of summer lets just say I've seen bigger ones.  But it was still quite beautiful going through there.

Definitely not a sight I'm used to seeing in Florida that's for sure. 

After getting through the gorge we were almost to St George Utah.  Very pretty town.  Outside of being in Utah, I bet it's a really nice place to live.  Outside of town are a number of hilltops and mesas and a number of them have some really beautiful homes on top overlooking the town. 

There were some gorgeous looking golf courses and really this was the only green we saw for about 100 miles. 

From St George it's a pretty short trip to Zion but it's not like you're driving on the interstate the rest of the way.  Much of the roads were built in the 30s and while well built are not sized for today's vehicles.  There's a tunnel through a mountain that can barely take two cars going through at the same time and certainly cannot handle today's SUVs. 

So we enter the park and slowly make our way through it up hills and around switchbacks.  It really was beautiful.  Mountains and rock formations that stand out more because of what isn't there, almost no semblance of trees, undergrowth, bushes, etc.  I cannot imagine settlers moving through this part of the country without the benefit of air conditioning, bottled water, pizza delivery, etc.  Everything is bare, windswept, desolate, weather-beaten.  But in a beautiful, awe-inspiring way if you're into that kind of thing.  I kinda am.

Then we came to the aforementioned tunnel.  We waited in line for about 15 minutes while a line of traffic came through the tunnel towards us.  Then we got our chance while traffic was stopped on the other side waiting for us to go through.  Nice tunnel, just over a mile, kinda narrow, etc.  On the other side of the park we noticed it was a lot greener.  Apparently that side of the mountains gets a bit more rain than the west side.  Which is kinda surprising since most weather travels west to east.  But the east side apparently gets some airflow up from the Gulf of Mexico so summer thunderstorms are not unheard of and in fact as we were driving from the tunnel we noticed dark clouds forming over the mountains near us.  There was even some wildlife to view outside of roadrunners and vultures like this guy whose roadside lunch we disturbed
What, do I take pictures of you when you're eating lunch?

Notice more greenery, even on top of the hills. And the approaching storm
After going through the rest of the park we turned south.  After all once you go to one national park you want to go to all of them.  I had never been to one before but I'm not going to turn down a chance to head to the Grand Canyon.  South we turned being chased by the approaching storm.
We stopped for lunch in the little town of Kanab Utah at a place called the Rocking V Café.  Cool eclectic place and the food was delicious.  It was a bit of a hippy dippy place but it was still cool and I don't care if the place is run by PETA members or even Michael Moore fans, they make good food. 

When we left Kanab, the storms were almost right on top of us.  I goofed and stayed on 89 instead of shifting to 89A leaving town.  I thought I might have goofed but wasn't sure until I traveled a while and was still in Utah.  I figured Kanab was no more than 10 miles from the Arizona border and when we didn't get into Arizona I figured I goofed and I was right.  I had to go back and retrace my route a bit which delayed us getting to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

I was not really that hopped up to go to the Grand Canyon.  Hell it's a big hole in the ground isn't it?  I've seen it flying over and of course in plenty of pictures.  But I'm really glad we went, especially there.  The North Rim is at altitude, about 9000 feet up and because of that, is not like the rest of the area around Nevada, Utah and Arizona.  It's actually green.  Like North Carolina mountain green not like Las Vegas golf course green.  There's tons of big trees, open meadows, wildlife, and after all the driving we did up to that point it was really a different sight. 

Because of my wrong turn, the storms caught up with us and we spent most of the trip from Kanab to the North Rim in everything from drizzle to hard driving rain.  As we got closer to the Canyon we really noticed the change in scenery.  Wet but very green.

It was a bit of a drive especially with the wrong turn but we finally got to the Grand Canyon.  And immediately put on a jacket.  It was 104 when we left Zion and 55 when we arrived at the Canyon.  Now that's a weather change.  We walked around, took in the view and took pictures.  Of course there was no cell or wifi service there.  If you ever want to get away from it all in the middle of summer, do a bit of site seeing and hiking, and just decompress I would seriously recommend you rent one of the cabins they have their up on the North Rim.  If my family had gone out there when I was a kid I know we would have wandered the place all day, played cards and board games half the night and do it all over again.  Nowadays I don't know how much that appeals to the modern families and their computers, tablets, Iphones, etc. but I can certainly see the appeal in it myself. Of course with the rain and such, our canyon views and pics are nothing to write home about but man it was still really cool.


Yeah so I'm not a professional photographer am I?
We picked up a few things at the gift shop and a coffee in the cafe there.  I asked the counter man what the high was that day and he told me 76 until the storms came in then it dropped like a rock into the 50s.  When we headed back to Vegas from there the rain slowed and then stopped.  And then the wildlife came out.  Just about every open meadow had deer grazing in it.  We passed a wild turkey sitting on a log and a lot of other small animals. 

The drive back to Vegas was looong.  Mileage wise it wasn't that far but damn it felt like forever.  Of course part of the problem is there are no roads going directly there from Vegas unless you want to try your luck on dirt roads.  Which is how people get lost and die in the desert.  You basically backtrack to St George and then catch the interstate the rest of the way.  It's no straight shot and half the trip is on two lane roads but it is a very nice drive.  We saw some more wildlife, a lot of scrub brush and a fantastic view of the sun breaking through the clouds over a mesa.  That may be the nicest view we saw on the whole trip.  I don't think the pictures we took do it justice but here's one.

While we were thousands of feet lower than we were at the Grand Canyon, we were still up on a plateau until we got almost to St George.  Then we came down a very scary downgrade with switchbacks and long plunges to our death should we decide to take a shortcut or go out of control.  Eventually about 10 pm we got back to Las Vegas.  Where it was 105 degrees again.   But at least it was a dry heat. 

Well I thought this would be my last Vegas post but again it isn't.  Apparently meeting Rob has rubbed off on me more than I thought.  I just keep running over with things to say and of course I did post a lot of pictures as well.  I'm going to do one more post this weekend and finish this up.  Here is a wrap up of all the animals we saw.  Roadrunners, vultures, eagles, hawks, bison, burros, cows, horses, mountain sheep, mule deer, wild turkey.  Hell its like a zoo out there.   

Today I started on vacation again.  Originally I took this time off as we were going to take the daughter to New Orleans for her 21st birthday but now that she's a working woman she can't take that much time off so we are celebrating the birthday this weekend (it's actually on Monday) with her and she is staying here till Tuesday when she has to head back.  I might take her out shooting on Monday even.  Then I'll spend some time relaxing and playing poker the rest of the week.  And I'll even find time to post as well.  You guys are so lucky.  Till then, stay lucky.



Sunday, July 28, 2013

Vegas Part 3. Birthday Diamonds

Wednesday in Vegas we got up early.  Our plan was to start off my birthday with a trip to The Wicked Spoon in the Cosmo for breakfast.  We had never been there but heard good things so it seemed like the perfect way to start out the day.  We were not disappointed.

First off the Cosmopolitan is a beautiful facility, puts even most other strip casinos to shame in terms of looks.  You have to go up to the 2nd floor for the buffet.  It was everything it was advertised to be.  I thought Bellagio had more diverse offerings but as for freshness and taste, The Wicked Spoon was definitely tops in it's class.  When you can put out individual servings of biscuits and gravy and both keep them hot and not let the biscuits get hard, you're doing it right.   It was a bit pricey at $25 but I would recommend not passing it up when you get the chance to go. We did not leave there hungry, that's for sure.  One thing we noticed there were certainly a lot of families there with kids and it seemed a lot were foreigners.  So maybe Cosmo really appeals to the European gambler.

***** WARNING ***** WARNING ***** WARNING ***** WARNING ******

Sorry folks, time for a rant breaks.   Nothing pisses me off more when I am in Vegas, especially at casinos, than to deal with kids.  Teenagers, little kids, doesn't matter.  Vegas is really not designed for the kid element and personally when you have people walking around drinking alcoholic beverages, doing stupid things, etc, it just isn't a place where little kids fit in.  Even teenagers but especially little ones.  How much do these casinos provide for kids to do?  Now I can't blame the foreigners that much, they really don't understand Vegas and perhaps it's part of a bigger trip going a bunch of different places but Americans do know Vegas and it's nearly criminal for them to bring little ones to Vegas. 

I know when they were in your early twenties, Johnny and Mary Sue partied like rock stars in Vegas and soon got married.  They had careers and delayed having kids until they were pushing 30.  Now in their mid 30s with 3 kids aged 5, 3 and 1; they think Vegas is the place for them to go have fun and recapture the magic.  Maybe that's true but here's a tip:  DON'T BRING THE KIDS.  I don't want to deal with your little brat crying about this and being bored  because it's illegal for you to put a twenty in a slot machine for them.  Too many people think that these vacations are for them.  No they aren't, they are for the kids.  Go somewhere kid appropriate.  Disneyland, Disneyworld, any one of a gazillion national parks that are in the area, a beach somewhere.  Come on aren't there enough places in the world that are just aching to take your money and entertain your kids for you that you don't have to drag them up and down the 110 degree strip??  Please??  I do remember when my kids were young and I may have not been overly thrilled some times but we spent a lot of vacation time at beaches, Disney themed places, and the like and not one of them in Vegas.  In fact the PQ and I didn't even go to Vegas the first time until we'd been married 20 years.  Now yes we are a little late to the scene often times but then we didn't bring the kids either.  And the boys by then were adults and even the little girl was 11 or 12.  She easily survived staying a week with her cousins.  So for the love of God people, stop being insensitive assholes and take your little brats someplace they'll enjoy and not where I go so I can GET AWAY FROM KIDS.   OK  Rant time is over.

After breakfast a little gambling was in order.  It was early so not much of a crowd at the tables and the machines.  Maybe I need to experience the Cosmo with a big rowdy crowd.  Of course I don't know if I'd ever see that.  The place was kinda hoity toity for my tastes and the casino floor was just kinda dead.  I don't know maybe it was too early but I just didn't feel any soul there.  Most of the staff didn't really seem overly friendly either.   Then again maybe if I had a Rolex and wore a linen suit they may have looked at me differently.  I played some craps poorly and lost enough to feel glad to get out of there. 

We took the long walk across Harmon to the Aria to check it out.  And for being right next door, it was a looong walk.  We checked out a few games and such and signed up for the $125 tourney at 1pm.  That was a good tourney.  Apparently my karma from the night before transferred over to the tourney at least for a little while. 

Early in the tourney I raise to 200 with AK off in early position.  Only 6 callers.  Flop is KQJ all diamonds.  Not terrible since I'm sitting on the diamond Ace but I'm not going wild with TPTK on that flop.  So it's checked to me, I check and surprisingly everyone else checks too.  Next is a 2 of hearts.  It's checked to me again and I put out a bet of 700.  And 3 people call anyway.  I'm really wondering what I'm up against and why no one is raising me.  Makes me think everyone is on a draw and I may even be ahead.  When I see the 10 of diamonds hit the river, I no longer care what everyone else has.  It's another royal flush.  I can get used to seeing those.  It's checked to me and I put an immediate 3000 bet out like I want to steal.  Kid in a hoodie to my right immediately moves all in.  Can you say Cha Ching?  Then it gets across the table and the next guy goes into the think tank.  Oh is he really thinking of calling here?  I try to make myself as invisible as possible and just sit a little away from the table, like I'm not even involved here.  It kind of works as the afterwards the guy tells me he wasn't even considering me still being in the hand, he was only considering the kid in the hoodie. 

After 3 or 4 minutes a guy calls the clock on Rodin and as the supervisor counts it down he eventually decides to go all in as well.  Bingo.  Guy to my right folds and I verify with the dealer that it was an all in and a call already.  Then I immediately push in and flip over my AK for the royal.  I had them both covered by a little so I almost tripled up to 30K. 

From there it went downhill.  I made a huge mistake when I thought a guy was making a move on me and pushed back with JJ.  Yeah he made a move.  With AA.  No help for me and I lose half my stack.  I got most of it back not much later when I called Rodin's all in push (he rebought after I knocked him out the first time and was reseated right next to me) with AK and he only had A10.  He didn't improve and I took his chips again.  But after that I couldn't make anything happen and I missed my chance to use my big stack to bludgeon people earlier.  Eventually I got moved to a new table where I ran into a real buzzsaw and again ran into AA when I hit top pair.  Good night for me.  Out of 110 I finished 35.  The PQ on the other hand was on the short stack nearly the entire tourney but out lasted me and made it to 30th.  She played well.  For me the best thing I did was sit there while the massage the PQ bought for me was pounded into my aching back.  Oh was that a nice birthday present.  Thank you baby.

We got out of there around 7 and headed down to Silverton for the big drawing.  We both had a number of entries in the drawing but neither of us were among the 10 names drawn.  We played for a while but the magic was definitely gone and we ended up heading back to Ballys disappointed for the day.  Still it was a good day, just not a great day.  Then again most days cannot be like the day before.

Well I was going to try to finish the whole trip up with this post but it was not meant to be.  So I guess another post will be in order later today or tomorrow.  Slacker that I am, I just don't have Rob's ability to put out mega posts and get everything in them. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Vegas Part 2 - I was hit by a Toyota once..............

Oh what a feeling.  Actually getting hit by a car (it was a VW bug) hurt like hell and my parents nearly had a heart attack when it happened.  But that's all in the past.

Monday in Vegas dawned bright and clear and warm.  About how it does for 5 or 6 straight months I imagine.  We decided to do a bit of downtown gambling to start out our day.  Back before we really got into video poker we went downtown and played and turned a bad trip start into a damned fine trip ending.  We were hoping to kick start it again.


We started our day with breakfast.  You have to start with the most important meal of the day and when we're in Vegas we do it up in style.  Most days we don't grab lunch as breakfast tides us over until dinner.  This was no exception.  Off to the Peppermill we went.  I usually have the chicken fried steak and eggs as I am a sucker for good cream gravy but this time decided to change it up.  So the PQ had the chicken fried steak and eggs instead (I had a couple of bites of course) and I got a dish I'd never tried called Munch's Breakfast.  Here is what it had:

Sautéed peppers, onions, linguica sausage, mushrooms and tomatoes, stirred into our hash browns, topped with three eggs any style and finished with Cheddar and Jack cheeses, served with toast or muffin
 Doesn't that sound good?  It sure tasted good.  It looked so good that the guy at the next table asked me what I was eating and ordered it for himself.  Personally I can't get linguica too often here and I really grew up liking it when I lived in Rhode Island so it was really nice to get it for breakfast.  Then after valiantly failing to finish our breakfasts it was out to the car and downtown we headed.  

We drove right past the Pawn Stars pawnshop but with a line outside and nearly 100 degrees on the thermometer already, we decided to pass on that one.  We parked in one of the garages and walked onto Fremont St.  First stop the D, formerly Fitzgeralds.  About 5 years ago we hit the video poker machines here for some major scores.  Funny thing  was, these were kinda old machines and actually paid off in quarters.  We quickly learned that 200 dollars in quarters filled about a bucket and a half and weighed a good bit.  But it was fun to learn, believe me.  That kick started the rest of the trip that resulted in the PQ hitting a royal flush at Casino Royale later in the week.  Definitely a fun time in Vegas.

While they still had a few old machines around, the PQ contented herself playing more up to date ones.  I was not in the video poker mood and decided to take on the 3 card poker game instead.  Eventually my luck would turn on that game.  NOT  The dealer killed me, every good hand she beat.  I never got a really good hand and quickly lost a chunk before deciding to bail for craps 

Good decision.  The dice were rolling well for me and the guy next to me.  He was showing his girlfriend how to play and racking up a nice score.  I hit pretty well myself.  I heard the guy talking to his gal and he sounded kinda familiar so I looked at him a bit closer and it clicked.  I had seen him before, on a tv show called Baggage Battles.  It's kind of a storage  wars but with unclaimed luggage.  I think it's even tougher to do because you have almost nothing to go on except maybe the weight of the bag and how fancy it might be.  So as he was racking up I asked him and he confirmed he was Mark Meyer of Baggage Battles and was filming in Vegas that week.  We talked a few minutes and shook hands and he wished me good luck.  Hell I'd already gotten lucky almost tripling up on craps.  Meeting him was icing on the cake. 

From the D we headed over to Binions.  The PQ had not done well at the D so I handed her some more cash and hoped Binions would treat her better.  Luckily it eventually did.  It took a while but the machines repaid her for her efforts with a few quads.  I even hit one myself.  Then hit the dice again though without much success this time.  We wrapped up with dinner in the café there.  I actually had a salad.  Don't tell Pete Peters but I understand why he had salads in Vegas.  After all the excesses sometimes you just want something a little healthier than a steak and baked potato. 

We decided to check out the Rio.  Wow what a load of walking there was in there.  We got to the Amazon Ballroom only to find the players were all on dinner break.  So we hung out at the Rio for awhile, played some video poker and I hit the craps tables again.  Not much luck there and I lost a bit.  The VP did not come through either and we headed back to Ballys disappointed in our gambling for the day.  But after all, tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday we decided to spend some time at Casino Royale.  Right in the middle of the strip across from the Mirage is this for lack of better words, dive casino.  It's not very big, it's not all crystal and light, but we like to gamble there.  The staff is great, the games have low limits, and the treat you nice.  The waitresses always remember my drink (after all how many guys run around ordering Planters Punch all day) and there's always a good vibe there.  We started with video poker right where the PQ hit her first royal flush

I didn't have any luck on the video poker and decided to try craps.  That didn't go so well.  I lost a bit on a very choppy table.  I finally just said the hell with it and went to the 3 card poker table.  For once I didn't lose my shirt.  I didn't win a lot but I wasn't getting killed.  The other 2 guys at the table were hot before I got there but they cooled off quite a bit.  After they left the PQ walks up.  She plays 6 or 7 hands and then pulls a set of 4s.  Of course she was sitting to my right.  Still I have determined that if we are at a 3 card poker table together, no matter where I sit, the big hand will find her.  So at least she cashes out for a good score there. 

From there we decided to go to the Silverton Resort off the strip.  We'd never been there before but saw pictures and thought the place looked nice.  That was a great call.  Silverton is west and a bit south of the strip, almost as far down as the South Pointe.  We found it without problem and parked right by the door in the parking garage. 

It really was a nice casino.  Had a western motif, kind of what I'd expect a casino in the middle of Montana or Wyoming to look like.  Rustic, a lot of wood, etc.  Not what I expected in Vegas.  The vibe was really laid back and the staff was great, very friendly and helpful.  We got players club cards then played some video poker to get some points for a free dinner.  So we went to the café there and ate dinner which was quite good.  Even split some dessert, apple pie a la mode. 


After dinner we went back to the VP machines and then it happened.  I sat at a machine and the Video Poker God looked over and got some interstellar dust in his eye and mistook me for my wife.  His finger came down and anointed me.  All the lights got bright for a second, sounds were sharper, and my vision was magnified.  I put a 20 in the machine and boom, quad 8s right off the go.   10 minutes later its quad 3s with a 4 for a nice 200 bucks.  Then not 15 minutes after that came the big one.  Flopped AJQ of spades, held them and here come Mr King and the 10.  Boom goes the dynamite.  The lights dimmed and time stood still.   Well not quite but you know what I mean.  It looked just liked this:

And the payout looked like this.

About 10 minutes later I pulled quad 3s with a 2 as well.  In the space of 45 minutes or so I picked up a nice $1500.  Lets just say I was one very happy camper.  I have seen the PQ go on rushes like this before where she hits everything in sight and after having it finally happen to me, all I can say is What a Feeling. 

After the magic wore off I decided to play some craps again.  Had a great time, made about 100 bucks and got a bunch of entries into a drawing for $1000 they were having the next day.  The way my luck had been going I figured, why not show up. 

We got out of the around 11:30 and headed back to Ballys.  I barely remember the drive, I just kept thinking of that royal flush hitting.  That was probably my best night of gambling ever.  If only every day was like that day.  And it wasn't even my birthday yet.  Happy almost birthday to me.