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

Monday, June 18, 2018

Fun times in the Big Easy

Recently the PQ and I took a little trip to New Orleans for fun, food, and of course gambling.  We had 3 days reserved in a hotel right by the French Quarter so we took the opportunity to make a roadie out of it and drive up the coast from the Tampa Area to NOLA with stops in Pensacola (to visit our niece Kristin at Univ of West Florida), Biloxi, and New Orleans.  Then we figured to stop back in Biloxi for a day on our way back so we weren't just driving through.

It was a good trip though not profitable on the gambling side.  It wasn't all bad at least and man did we eat well.  We left on Saturday morning and arrived in Pensacola around 4pm.  The drive went pretty easy all in all.  Good weather and traffic was pretty light going up US 19 almost to Tallahassee before we moved it over to Interstate 10.  We made a brief stop in Tallahassee to hit up the Whataburger for lunch.  Love me some Whataburgers and they don't have any restaurants in the Tampa Bay area anymore.  From there it was a little under 3 hours to reach Pensacola.  After meeting up with our niece we decided to grab some dinner at a little place, almost a dive, called Jerry's Drive In.  What a fun place, with some good food and beers.  We ate our fill then took the niece shopping so we could tell her mother she was no longer a starving college student.  We were pretty tired from the road tripping so we made it an early night.

The next morning we went over to the college again and grabbed Kristin so we could head out to Sunday brunch at a place called McGuires Irish Pub.  We'd been there before but never for brunch.  Brunch is served with Irish coffee (frozen or hot) and beignets.  The frozen Irish coffee went down very nicely indeed.  I had an omelet that was made with 6 eggs.  It was big but my appetite was bigger and I took it down.  Needless to say we were stuffed when we left there.  The restaurant was busy when we arrived around 10:30 and packed when we left.  Does a huge business on Sunday for brunch.  The PQ and I recommend it highly.

From Pensacola it's a pretty easy drive to Biloxi, only about 2 hours depending on the traffic through Mobile.  Mobile is tough to get through sometimes, there's a big bridge over the bay before you reach the city then you go through a tunnel right after you cross the bridge and traffic tends to jam up there.  Last time I drove through it was not fun.  We checked the traffic maps and there were problems going through so this time I stopped for gas a short time after crossing into Alabama and found a route around Mobile.  We didn't actually miss the city but we were able to route north of the city and hook up with I-65.  We went south on 65 until it met up with I-10 on the west side of Mobile.  Easy trip even if a bit longer in miles.  For me travelling is not the shortest distance between 2 points, it's the easiest way to get from A to B.  The less stress on the drive, the better I like it and I try to avoid the interstates whenever possible.  You really can't do that through Mobile unless you want to drive surface streets through the city but at least I was able to avoid the mess on I-10.  After Mobile we thought about travelling the rest of the way on US 90 right along the Gulf coast but decided we wanted to get to Biloxi sooner so we took the interstate the rest of the way.

In Biloxi we each had a free night at the Beau Rivage.  If you get a chance to stay there, I recommend it highly.  They know how to treat customers.  When we first got to the hotel, there was a quite a line waiting to check in.  I figured on a 30-45 minute wait in line but like a shot, about 8 or 10 desk clerks made their way to the counter and within 10 minutes we had a room.  Nice rooms at the hotel.  Very comfortable.  We didn't have a great view but we didn't care.  A room is where I lay my head between gaming sessions so as long as it's comfortable, I'm happy.  Later that night I went down to the front desk to make sure my free room reservation was attached to the PQs so we didn't have to move out and back in again.  The guy on duty handled it like a pro and about 2 minutes after I talked to him, we were all set.  Great staff at the Beau Rivage.  The next day I made sure I talked to the manager and told her how much I appreciated the great customer service and attention to detail of the staff.  I think she appreciated hearing it.  But I know everyone I dealt with at the Beau, from cocktail servers to gaming staff to front desk to restaurant staff treated us well.  BTW if you want to know how we got free rooms, the PQ and I have been playing some online slots on a couple of sites sponsored by the MGM.  One is called POP Slots and the other is MyVegas slots.  Both are pretty mindless ways to kill some time but we do rack up points as we play and those points can be used for things like free rooms, 2/1 and free buffets, drinks, free and reduced tickets to shows, etc.  Sometimes things are blacked out and you can't use them but on this trip, it worked out really well for us.

We had a good time in Biloxi but the gambling did not go so well.  I didn't really have a chance to play poker but did roll the dice at a few places there, all unsuccessfully.  The PQ also did not hit much on the video poker so it was not a profitable few days there.  I did manage to get a round of golf in while we were there.  There's an old golf course named Great Southern Golf Club in Gulfport just over the border from Biloxi.  It was designed by Donald Ross who is considered one of the great early golf course designers in the US, responsible for at least a couple of hundred courses throughout the country.  I've played some of his courses both here in Florida and up in Rhode Island where I grew up.  Some I didn't even know he designed.

Great Southern is located directly across the street from the Gulf of Mexico.  I'm sure it had some flood damage from Hurricane Katrina and from Hurricane Camille back in 1970 but at least it's on land that is raised up about 6 feet from the beaches so it doesn't flood all that often.  It's a great old course  with a really nice clubhouse and bar.  You can tell it was built in the time before golf carts as the distance from one green to the next tee is pretty short while the holes are pretty close together.  It even has a train track dividing the course after number 8 so that you play the first 8 holes on one side of the tracks, cross over for the next 9, then come back over for number 18.  Apparently it was originally a 9 hole course until they bought the land on the other side of the tracks and added another 9 holes.  So number 18 was originally the 9th hole when the course first opened.
4th green heading right toward the Gulf


The course also has some great scenic views as you approach the green on the 4th and 18th holes.  What more can a man ask for from a course.  The course conditions were not fantastic but considering it was April and they had just come out of winter, it was decent.  And a fun course.  I shot 87 which was a good round for me, especially since I hadn't played much over the winter this year.  I got lucky on the 18th hole, as I pulled my approach shot into the greenside bunker but hit a good sand shot to 6 feet and dropped the putt for par.  Just like the pros do.

After a couple of days of fun in Biloxi it was time to head to New Orleans.  Ohh did we have fun there.  I've never spent more than a day or 2 there so this time we actually got to see the city, walk around, eat, drink, be merry, and gamble.  And walk we did.  Our hotel was on the north east side of the French quarter so whenever we'd get down to Jackson Square or further, we'd end up going through almost the entire Quarter.  We ate at a bunch of places we've wanted to like Mothers, Arnauds (not the main restaurant but the bar next door called Arnaud's Remoulade - we were not dressed for the main place), Cafe Maspero, Ole Saint (a pub owned by ex Saint Deuce McAllister) with hurricanes at Pat O'Briens, coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde, and even a visit to the World War 2 museum.  I highly recommend every one of those places.  I almost forgot we had dinner at EAT New Orleans which was right around the corner from the hotel.  We finished our trip with breakfast at the Camilla Grill in the Garden District before heading out of the city Good way to finish the trip.

Along the way we did get in a little gambling at the Harrahs.  I had a really nice roll on the craps table, kept the dice for about 45 minutes on one roll and hit all the numbers for a nice bonus.  It was nice to finally get something going on the craps table.  I cashed out for $700 which was a nice comeback after my lack of success in Biloxi. 

The next night after dinner at EAT, I hit the poker room at Harrahs.  I'd played there one time before and remembered it seemed to be a pretty loose room.  I was not wrong.  A little after I'd signed up to play $1-3 no limit (the lowest stakes there), they opened a new table.  I got my favorite seat next to the dealer.  For a new $1-3 table, the max you can buy in for is $300 which just about everyone did.  If you go to a table that was already open, or if you bust at your current table, you can buy in for whatever the biggest stack at the table has.  Most of the time, people were raising for $15-20 preflop, sometimes as much as $25-30. 

The very first hand after we sit down, guy in early position raises to $20 and gets 3 callers.  Flop is Ace high.  He leads out for $50 and only one guy calls him.  The next card is low.  No flush or straight on the board yet.  Original raiser leads out for $80 and is called by the other guy.  River is a 2.  Raiser goes all if for another $150.  Other guy thinks for a couple of minutes and finally calls for all his chips.  Original raiser flipped over AQ while the guy who kept calling turned overe AJ.  The loser immediately bought in for $600 and continued playing (and losing) eventually giving away his second buy in - unfortunately not to me. 

While the loose playing continued, I kept waiting for a hand to play.  Very few hands were unraised preflop and I was not getting cards worth calling a raise - which didn't stop many of the other people from playing hands.  I saw some pretty loose calls and chips going back and forth around the table.  After 2 people to my right busted, a lady and her cowboy boyfriend - who was much younger - sat down and bought in for three or four hundred each.  She played fairly normally but he didn't meet two cards he could play.  Won a bunch of chips with some unlikely hand, like 9-6 when he hit 2 pair but he gave it back.  He ended up buying back in for another 500.  Finally I get a decent hand, Q-J suited, and the hand wasn't raised preflop so I called in late position.  Flop is perfect, K-10-9 rainbow.  Small blind leads out for $15 and 4 people call.  Turn is a 6 and he pushes in for $41.  It's folded to me and I call.  River is a blank and he flips over K-10 for top two pair but not enough to beat my flopped straight. 

That got me started and put me up about $100.  A lady moves to the seat next to me and announces she had already lost $1000 on another table and wanted to get it back.  She and I tangled on one hand and ended up chopping when we each rivered a straight.  Then I called a preflop raise to 15 with A-9 of clubs.  Flop was all low but had 2 clubs.  There was a bet of $25 but 3 people called before me so I figured to see the turn.  Turn was the Ace of spades.  Guy across from me bets out for $50 which surprised me since he didn't lead out on the flop so I put him on an ace but watching him play previously, I wasn't convinced I was behind him at that point (though I probably was) but when cowboy boyfriend - well on his way to losing his second buy in - calls, I figure why not.  River is a beautiful 2 of clubs.  Checked by the guy across from me.  I'm really figuring the cowboy will bet but he checks to.  So I put out $85.  Guy across from me looks at me for a minute then calls.  I'm hoping cowboy will call too, I know he will with any  kind of hand, but he folds and I flipped over the nut flush.  Guy looks disgusted and folds and I'm now up about $300. 

The lady who had lost $1000 then gets into a betting war with the guy in seat 1 and ends up getting calling his all in bet on the turn for something like $425.  Between the two there is about $1000 in the pot and she cleans him out.  She had AK on a King high flop and he never showed so I'm not sure why he thought he was ahead but this made her pretty happy.  Now she's only down $500 for the night.  I had to leave soon after as it was getting late and we were leaving in the morning but it was a good night for me as I was up about $350 at that point.  With that and my great craps roll I left New Orleans a lot better off than I got there.  A great ending to a great trip.



From New Orleans we went back to Biloxi for a night before heading home to sunny Fla.  Had dinner at our favorite barbecue place there, The Shed in Ocean Springs.  Funky wreck of a place but what good barbecue.  I've been there 2 or 3 times before and it has never disappointed.  The smoked sausage is great and the sweet potato casserole is fantastic.  We gambled a bit but had no luck there.  The next morning we went to a seafood place called McElroys which is right over the bridge from Biloxi in Ocean Springs.  They serve a great breakfast and I had to admit their beignets were better than the ones we got at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans.  They were hot, light and fluffy with a crunchy crust.  Cafe du Monde was good but these were better.  Best I ever had I think.  With full stomachs and some cash still in my wallet we headed home after a really fun vacation.  I look forward to our next trip to New Orleans but next on tap is Vegas in October.  I am ready to go now.     

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Sleeping with one eye open

Back to Derby Lane we went last Saturday night to take another shot at the 6pm tourney.  We've been running pretty good in the tournament, one of us has cashed in it maybe half the time.  I chopped with 3 others a few weeks ago for $600 and the PQ chopped it a week or 2 before.  So Saturday we felt pretty good about our chances.

I've been trying to be a bit more cerebral in my approach, think it through a little more and also be more aggressive, especially in position.  I'm still not playing all that loose but in late position I'm playing back a bit more and raising a bit stronger while out of position I'm avoiding playing some hands I might have played in the past.  I'm also watching the betting habits of my opponents more and that's paying some dividends too.

We got to the room a bit early so I decided to play a little 1-2 no limit holdem while I waited on the tourney to start.  Didn't have much going on but I made a couple of hands and was up about 15-20 bucks when the tourney started.  I just stuck my chips in my pocket and headed over to table 3-4.  I sat down just in time for the first hand.

Unfortunately that didn't mean much.  I really did not get much to play with for the first few levels.  I did manage to use my position to take down a couple of pots.  That kept my stack near the 20K starting level.  In the third level I called a raise with 8-9 of hearts.  Flop was 8 high with 2 hearts.  I bet into the raiser and he called my bet.  Next card was a black jack.  I bet again and he let it go which put me over the 20K stack.  I really didn't play much else until right before the first break.  I was in the small blind with JJ.  Blinds are 400-800 and a guy across from me raised to 1600.  It was folded to me and I reraised him to 3600.  That got his attention because he knew I hadn't played much but he did call my reraise.  Flop was A-7-2.  I had put him on a pocket pair by his raise, I hoped it wasn't aces, so I led out for 4500 and he flashed me QQ before folding.  I told him I had AQ.  Poker players are such liars.   So I made it into the break sitting on 28K and while that wasn't a big stack, I at least felt I could still play.

At another table, the PQ was doing quite well.  In the 2nd level, she had gotten all in with 2 guys.  She raised preflop with QQ and got called by the 2 guys.  Flop was a bingo A-Q-6.  First guy to act goes all in, the 2nd went all in and she called them both while having them covered.  Both of them had an ace and her set held up.  She was sitting on over 60K at the break.  Needless to say, I was envious.

In the first level after the first break, Derby Lane gives away an entry to a bigger 2 day tourney coming up in a few weeks.  It's usually a $150-175 entry fee tourney.  The PQ won an entry to one of them a few months ago as a matter of fact.  She didn't score in it but she did have fun.  We were most of the way through the round when I looked down at the magical AA in my hand.  I'm sitting one off the button and of course everyone folds around to me.   The blinds were 600-1200 with a 100 ante.  I'd been watching the guys in the blinds for a while and felt pretty sure if one had any kind of hand, they'd push all in.  So I decided to just call.  One thing I've kept in mind is a saying TJ Cloutier wrote back when I first read some poker books "If you're not gonna raise aces, don't go broke with aces".  If the button and blinds all called, I was prepared to play very carefully unless I really hit my hand.

The button and small blind both called but the big blind bailed me out and pushed all in for almost 20K.  Thank you sir.  It came back to me and I thought for a bit.  I really didn't want to play this one multi-handed so I pushed in for almost 30K.  The other 2 folded and we flipped over our hands.  He had A-10 off vs my AA.  First card on the flop was a 10 and I'm thinking, "damn he's gonna flop a set."  But no, the other two cards were an Ace and an 8.  All were hearts but since neither of us had a heart, I was safe unless it came runner runner hearts for a split pot or 10,10.  Turn was a 9 of clubs and I'm safe.  River was the 8 of spades and I've got Aces full.  Which turned out to be the top hand of the level at that point.   The dealer had forgotten about the promo and so had I for a moment but then as he was gathering the cards I asked him if that wasn't the high hand.  He turned it back over, called over the floor and they confirmed the hand.  It ended up holding up so not only did I win over 20K on the hand, I won an entry to the big tourney.  Win/win even if I don't hit the money in this tourney.

After this I went on a bit of a tear.  I knocked out another guy when my AK beat his AQ.  Kept chipping up as I was getting a fair amount of respect on my raises.  Made a small flush with 3-5 and while I didn't take out the other guy, I hurt him pretty bad and he went out a little later.  I took out 2 small stacks with marginal hands, called an all in with A-4 vs KJ.  Flopped a 4 and he never improved.  Then I raised a small stack in the big blind with J4 suited from the button.  He went all in for a little more with Q-8.  He flopped an 8 but I turned a 4 and rivered another 4.  Hard way for him to lose but I've had it happen to me enough times.

We were down to 2 tables before long and while I didn't take anyone else out, I did take chips off a few of them and used my stack against some small stacks.  We got to the next break and I'm sitting on 200K while the average stack is about 120K.  With the number of small stacks left and the blinds and antes, it didn't take long to knock out enough people to get down to the final table.  I look over at the other table, where me and the rest of my table will move and there sits the PQ.  They drew for seat cards over there first and I saw she was in seat 2 while seat 3 was open.  I know how much she hates playing right next to me (as if someone would hate playing next to me, I'm a nice guy aren't I?) and when we drew for seats at my table I was hoping for seat 3 just to mess with her.  I got seat 5.  I walked over to the table and when I got close I said "Where's seat 3"?   My wife, my nice wife with nothing bad to say to anyone, immediately says "son of a bitch".  Then I started laughing and said, "well I'm in seat 5".  I crack myself up sometimes.

We played for a while and one guy got knocked out putting us down to the bubble.   8th paid $170, not bad for a $60 entry.  The PQ was pretty short but not near the shortest stack.  We all agreed to pay the bubble $10 each and finally an old guy on my left went all in and lost busting the bubble.  Not long after this I tangled with the guy in seat 1.  He had about 3/4 of my stack.  Blinds were 4K-8K with a 1K ante.  3 of us saw an unraised flop of J-10-6.  I had J-9 in the big blind.  I raised to 28K and seat 1 surprisingly called me.  There were 2 diamonds on the flop so I thought he might have the flush draw.  Turn was an 8 of clubs.  I thought that was good for me, gave me the open end draw plus top pair.  I bet 35K and he surprised me by raising to 75K.  I should have dumped it there I think but I really thought I was ahead.  So I called and hoped for a 7 or a Q.  Luckily a 7 did not hit, instead it was the 4 of spades.  I checked the river and he went all in for about 42K more.  I went into the think tank but I really didn't want to call off most of my stack here on top pair, 9 kicker.  I was a little leery because I was surprised he didn't raise preflop.  His hand looked to me like he played a big over pair.  Or made the straight.  Turned out he had Q-9 and turned the straight.   It was good not to lose another 42K but that hand hurt me and put me under 100K.

We played for a while and I started looking for places to shove in.  I managed to bluff one hand with QJ and took down the blinds and antes.  Then I tangled with the PQ who actually had me covered now.  I was in the big blind with K8.  3 others called including the PQ.  Flop came out 8-7-4.  Small blind checked and I pushed in.  It folded to the PQ and she looked at me, looked at her cards, looked at me again and finally folded.  I took down a decent pot and got to live a little longer.  Shortly after we went on break again and PQ asked me what I had.  I told her K8 and she got a sick look on her face.  "I folded A8" she said.  I breathed a sigh of relief but I wouldn't have minded if she called and knocked me out as at least my chips would have gone to her. 

After the break, another guy went out in 6th.  PQ started getting short and from the button she pushed all in.  I'm in the big blind and look at 4-4.  I look at her, look at my cards and finally call.  She flips over A-8 vs my fours.  I really thought she might have a bigger pocket pair and I didn't mind if she did as then she could take my chips and make a deep run, but as it turned out my fours held up.  "I can't believe you called me" she kept saying.  She at least made a decent cash in 6th.  Not too much later the rest of us chopped the money with 5 of us getting almost second place money.  So between us we took 2 of the top 8 places. It was nice for both of us to come home with cash.  I picked up the tab for a light night breakfast hoping I wouldn't wake up in the morning tied down to the bed with the PQ taking a baseball bat to me.  But she forgave me (or so she said) and I've woken up pain free since then.  Tonight we're gonna take another crack at the 6pm tourney.  Hopefully we'll both be lucky again.   

Sunday, April 1, 2018

All Hail the Poker Queen

I just noticed I started this post a month ago and never completed it.  Sorry for the delay and I'll  be posting more soon. 


It was a Wednesday night, like any other Wednesday night.  Well not quite like any other Wednesday night.  For this Wednesday was February 14th.  In other words, it was Valentines Day.

If you're like many guys, especially guys in a relationship, Valentines Day can be a very trying day.  Some women demand we prove our love to them on Valentines Day.  Many women want flowers, a nice dinner, chocolates or jewelry on Valentines Day.  And if she can show it off in front of the girls at the office and make them jealous, that's even better.  The holy grail is a delivery at work.  It's her way of saying "See, my man truly does love me" to all her co-workers.

I am a luckier man than most.  My wife is not like that.  Perhaps after 30+ years of marriage to me, her expectations have been tempered some.  Or perhaps she is a woman who truly knows what she wants and what is important to her.  And on Valentines Day, chocolates, flowers and a fancy dinner are not really important to her.  No, what truly says romance to my wife on Valentines Day is POKER.

I'm sure I've mentioned before that Derby Lane holds a couples tournament every Valentines Day.  And they don't wait for the weekend to play the tourney, whatever day it falls on is the day of the tournament.  Which means if one of us stays in for the whole tournament, it's going to be a bit of a late night before going to work the next day.

The tourney started at 7pm, so I did take the PQ out for dinner before we headed over to Derby Lane.   Being the romantic guy I am, we decided to hit the Village Inn near the track for dinner.  If you aren't familiar with Village Inn, it's a slight upgrade on Dennys with some really good pies.  The whole restaurant screamed love and romance.  Well not really.  But we had a decent quick dinner and headed off to the track.

When we got there we noticed it did not seem like the tournament was going to be too full.  While we were about a half hour early, there just wasn't that many people hanging around.  The tourney usually has 50 couples in it but there was no where close to 100 people there.  As it turned out only about 30 couples ended up playing in the tourney.  That was a little disappointing.

The structure of the tourney is like the typical no limit hold em tourney except there is a time limit.  At a certain time they call last hand and the tourney is over.  It usually lasts between 3.5 and 4 hours.  After the tourney ends they combine the chipstacks of each couple remaining - if one is knocked out then you just count the one left - and declare winners based on chip counts.  You get a fair amount of play for your money as it was 15K to start and 20 minute blind levels but after a couple of hours with the blinds and antes getting up there, you gotta get something going.

Well the tourney did not start out great for either the PQ or myself.  I was down a couple of thousand early and she was too.  Neither of us were getting too much to play with and only a lucky straight kept me around my starting stack for the first hour or so.  We got a break about 2 hours in after 6 levels. I was lucky to make a hand right before the break and actually got to the break with 22K.  Not great but better than I had been doing.  The PQ was in much worse shape as she was down under 10K and just not getting anything.  But she was staying in and not playing foolishly.  I talked to her after the break and told her we both would need to get aggressive if we got playable hands and try to build some stacks.

Well in my case, that was not meant to be.  I hung on for another hour but without much to play or luck, I watched my stack dwindle.  I did manage a couple of opportune steals but that wasn't enough to offset the blinds and antes for long.  At about the 3 hour mark I pushed in with 99 only to see the gal next to me flip over KK and my tourney was over.

To my amazement, the PQ was still hanging in.  She still didn't have a big stack but she had managed to double up and was being patient while waiting to pick her spot.  But I knew even if she made it to the end of the tourney, she was far to short stacked to get into the money, especially without a partner.  Last year when we played the tourney, I had done pretty well but she was short stacked for a good part of the tourney.  I kept my stack and even added to it and when the time limit hit, I had a decent amount of chips.  But not enough to get into the money I thought.  But she was still in the tourney as well and had done quite well after the break to build some chips.  She had only a little bit less than I did and our combined stack was enough for 3rd place.  But this year did not look like it would be our year.

I was sitting in the bar near the poker room watching the play and messing around on my Ipad while the PQ decided to do something about it.  We knew the tourney would end soon and she had to take some chances.  She got aggressive and made a nice double up but was still one of the shorter stacks, especially since it was down to one table and two of the ladies from my table were sitting there with big stacks.  The last hand comes around and she decides to push it all in with KJ .  4 others called but she flopped a king and took down the hand for a massive pot.  She went all the way from 6th or 7th  chip stack to 1st in one hand.  And that's how the tourney ended.  When they totaled everyone's chips, ours were number one.  Thanks to her.  I'd like to think I helped but it was not true, it was all her.  She kept patient, picked her spots, got a little luck, and took down the tourney win.  Needless to say it was a good Valentines Day for us, maybe not quite as good as the one in 1984 when I proposed to her, but still a damned good night.  So all hail the Poker Queen, Valentines Day Poker Champion!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Back from Sin City

Got back last weekend from Las Vegas after 6 days of fun and games.  It was not a profitable trip, in fact I tried to find new ways to lose.  I'll detail a few of the ugly ones a little later.  I did play a lot of craps - mostly poorly - a fair amount of video poker and even some regular poker.  Nothing went well until the day we flew home.  Then it all turned so at least we left on a high note.

We arrived on Sunday morning.  The flight out of Tampa left at 6:15am and was packed.  We had to get to the airport around 4:30 am, fly to Houston and change planes there.  Then another packed flight to Vegas.  Arrived about 9:30 am Vegas time.  Who flies from Tampa to Houston at 6:15 on Sunday morning?  Apparently a lot of people.  I was not too surprised about the flight from Houston to Vegas though.  Every flight I take to Vegas is full it seems.

We had grabbed a bite to eat at the Tampa airport around 5:30 am but that was 7 hours before we landed so after picking up our rental car - big thanks to Hertz, they make it so easy to pick up and drop off cars if you sign up for their Gold Plus Rewards - we headed to the Strip.  I thought it would be nice to see if we couldn't get a cheap breakfast at Ellis Island so we stopped in there.  Got a great parking spot and apparently hit the cafe there at just the right time between early morning rush and late morning rush and got seated immediately.  The Poker Queen got the NY Strip and eggs for 6.99 and I took the corn beef hash and eggs for 7.99.  Almost the cheapest meal we had the entire time in Vegas.  But we did eat well.

We gambled a bit there while Pittsburgh was losing to Jacksonville.  That was sweet.  There was some leather lunged Steeler fan in the bar cheering every time the Steelers did something right and imploring the defense to stop Jacksonville.  I saw Jville was up 2 scores at the half but the way he was cheering after that,  I figured Pittsburgh had come back and taken the lead.  So imagine my surprise as we were leaving to see the Jags up by 10 points with very little time left.  I saw a lot of sad Steeler fans that day after the game ended with a Jacksonville victory.  And I have to admit I did giggle a bit.  Not a Steeler fan here.

We both only lost a little playing Video Poker at Ellis Island, so after leaving there we still had some time to kill before check in at Ballys.  The PQ suggested we should go by the Hard Rock.  Now I like the Hard Rock.  I never do poorly there and she usually does well too.  This time she did not have good luck and I started off really rocky at the Craps tables but before I left it all turned around and I had managed to make about $40 after being down almost $200.  That's a win in my book.  Turns out it was almost my last win until we left on Friday.  OUCH.

Check in was easy and the room at Ballys was nice.  Plenty large enough.  Only thing they don't include in the rooms is a fridge.  I like having one just to keep water cold.  We ended up buying a small cooler and keeping it full of ice and some water bottles all week.  The weather was near perfect for Vegas in January.  Daytime temps in the 60s, at night it fell to the high 40s, low 50s.  And boy did we eat well.  Breakfast is big for both of us but since I had been sick the week before we left, my appetite was not what it had been.  So we pretty much avoided buffets until the day we left.  And while we went to some old (and new) standards such as the Peppermill, Ellis Island, and Cinnamons, we also tried out a couple of new places that we both enjoyed.  I can recommend the Lucky Penny at The Palms wholeheartedly.  Also we really enjoyed the Pantry at the Mirage.  Big thumbs up.  I almost never finished a meal at any of the restaurants which for me is very unusual.  After arriving on Sunday we went to see comedian Gabriel Iglesias (Fluffy) who's last show at the Mirage was Sunday night.  After the show we were ready for a late dinner and the Pantry was terrific.

The Gabriel Iglesias show was a blast and much different than I expected.  They announced he was trying out some new material but the show was much more than just comedy.  Iglesias was much more introspective about life - both his and his life with his girlfriend and her son Frankie.  Gabriel has talked about Frankie in his shows for a long time, since he was a preteen, and now he's 20.  As a man who's now in his 40s, he realizes there is more to life and he talked about some of the things he's dealing with - his weight, expectations, family, etc.  It was a really fine show and he went way over the time he planned for the show, he was onstage for at least 2 hours.  By the end he had brought out his two dogs to the stage and was taking questions from the audience about different things.  The PQ and I really enjoyed the show.  He even allowed people to take pictures during the show.  He said, "the show is over, we're just talking now.  If you want to take pictures, go ahead"  The PQ snapped some on her phone which has an awesome camera.

We did go to one buffet, the AYCE buffet at the Palms.  They are still renovating the Palms and had recently opened the buffet.  It was good, some of the items like the Denver scramble were very good.  And it was pretty inexpensive, especially after using our player points.  I think our total cost was around $10.

As for the gambling, I took a bath on Monday through Thursday.  Craps, video poker, poker, it didn't matter what I played.  We played a poker tourney at Planet Hollywood on Monday.  My tourney came to an end when a guy with KK overplayed his hand and lucked into a river straight.  I raised with 99 and he reraised.  I had not been impressed with some of his other plays but figured him for a good hand from AJ up.  Flop was QJ3.  He made a smallish flop bet so I decided to call.  Turn was a beautiful 9 giving me my set.  I checked again and he pushed all in.  I wondered if he had QQ or JJ and flopped the set but I'm not folding a set there so I called his all in.  He had me slightly covered.  We turn over our hands and he's holding KK.  River is a piece of crap 10 giving him the straight and it's good bye to me.  I've been losing like this a lot lately.

The PQ continued on in the tourney and in fact later in the tourney called two all ins with AA, flopped an Ace and rivered the last Ace to more than triple up.  That got her to the final table and she ended up splitting the winnings 5 ways at the end for a $600 score and dinner for us at Gordon Ramsey's Burger just off the casino floor.  We ate there once before a few years ago and the burgers are excellent.  The parmesan truffle fries are even better and we split an order with our burgers.  The drinks however are quite pricey there.  Still the PQ had plenty left over from her victory.  While the tourney continued, I decided to play some 1/2 no limit.  Another beat down courtesy of a 10 left me muttering to myself.

I check from the big blind with Q9 offsuit and 6 of us see the flop of Q94 rainbow.  Nice.  I lead out for $10 and get 2 callers.  Turn is a J.  Not a great card for me but unless someone played QJ or called my post flop bet with K10, I still should be good.  This time I lead out for $27.  Guy 2 places to my left pushes all in and has me covered.  Other guy folds and I go into the think tank.  He had been pretty aggressive so I wasn't sure if he had me completely beaten or was pushing crap.  I thought for about 5 minutes but finally decided to call.  He had J8 suited.  I'm sitting pretty until another crap 10 hits the river and gives him the straight.  First I couldn't understand his flop call and while his all in was a good turn bet, I cannot believe another yahoo gets rewarded on the river against me.  After that mess I packed it up and left the table muttering about how much I hate 10s.

This poker karma extended to my next tourney as well.  We played a knockout tourney at the Mirage a couple of days later.  It was only 2 tables and the PQ didn't have much luck losing to some clown staying at the Mirage who comes down to the tourney wearing shorts, a tee shirt, flip flops, and a purple robe.  Guess it takes all kinds.  He was running all kinds of good though and knocked out 3 or 4 people and amasses a big stack.  I'm struggling to keep above water and we get down to one table then down to 5 people left after purple robe knocks out a decent sized stack across the table.  I believe they both had top pair and he out kicked him.  I'm sitting between big stack purple robe on my right and an older guy who also had knocked out a few people and had a good stack on my left.  The older guy called a couple of other all ins and lost including one of mine so he gave up a good piece of his stack.  I also made purple robe fold a hand when I pushed all in over the top of him and he had noticed how tight I had been.  Told him I had 2 pair.  Finally my turn comes.  I look down at KK in first position and just call the blinds.  No one raises and 3 of us see the flop.  It's jack high and not connected.  It's checked to me.  I lead out for 4K into a 5K pot and only purple robe calls.  Turn is a 5.  Board is still rainbow and not connected so I'm not worried.  Purple robe pushes all in.  Ok now I'm worried.  Did he play something like J5?  I don't care as it's too late in the tourney for me to fold so I call.  He was surprised but turns over J6 while I flip over KK.  He congratulates me on a nice hand.  Then the dirty dealer turns over a Jack on the river.  Goodbye.  I wasn't even upset as I expected something like that after the way I had been running. 

I did have a decent night in the Ballys poker room playing for about 3 hours and leaving up about $130.  Not a huge win but defnitely beat what I had been doing.

Friday we checked out of Ballys around 8:30 and headed over to the Palms for some breakfast and gaming.  I didn't play any craps but did stay about even on video poker.  The PQ won a little.  After that it was a quick trip to the Gamblers General Store near downtown for a few gifts then since it's on the way, we head to the Hard Rock before we hit to the airport.  That turned out to be a great decision.  I immediately hit the craps table.  There was a newly opened table with no one on it and another table with 5-6 people playing.  I went to the deserted one and immediately started rolling some numbers.  I played the All Small, All Tall, and All numbers bets.  I rolled all the small numbers and was one off the Tall numbers when I put a 7 up.  I was also playing the 6 and 8 and each time I rolled one, I added another $6 to the amount bet on the number until they were up to $30 bets.  I rolled a goodly number of sixes and eights.  So after my first roll I had made almost $100 profit.  Since no one else was on the table I kept rolling.  This time I managed to roll all the numbers for a nice $350 win.  One more roll and I hit all the small numbers.  I had also placed a bet on all the numbers for the dealers so they raked in some cash there.  I kept betting the hard ways for both me and the dealers and while I was able to roll some hard ways, I never got in a groove where I was rolling the same number more than once.  I ended up rolling for about and hour and a half all told and cashed out for a nice $600 win.  While not enough to make up for the rest of the week's losses, it's always nice to leave Vegas with cash in your pockets. 

At the same time I was rolling, the PQ was scoring on the video poker machines and she ended up cashing out for a few hundred dollars as well.  We both love that Hard Rock in Vegas.  I always seem to do well there. 

So that's my Vegas week in a nutshell.  Fun but not profitable.  Played a lot more poker than last time but again, not very successfully.  We should be heading back in late October so I need to practice my craps game a lot between now and then.  The PQ and I did manage to play a poker tourney last night at Derby Lane in St Pete and while she was out after a while, your's truly managed to hit the money for a 7th place finish.  Not a big cash but I'll take it.  Hopefully next time I'll avoid a couple of errors I made this time and do better.  But for now I'm satisfied.  And that's not always the case. 

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas everybody - Now to finish this damned trip report.

Merry Christmas to all.  It's been a good year all in all, not the easiest but not a bad year at all.  I hope everyone else has had a good year but knowing the law of averages, I'm sure some will have gotten the short end of the stick this year.  Just wait till next year (as a Tampa Bay Rays and Bucs fan, I've said that a lot).  

I never finished blogging my Vegas trip report.  And of course in the intervening time I've probably forgotten a ton of things.  But I will do a quick recap of the last few days.  

The day after returning from Lake Havasu my luck finally turned.  I hoped it would - law of averages and all - but sometimes it doesn't.  Well this time it did with a vengeance.  Wednesday after another fine breakfast - this time at the MGM buffet, we gambled a little at the MGM and the Tropicana.  Never been in the Tropicana before, hey they let you park for free there.  What a concept.  Bad odds but I liked the vibe in the place.  Nice staff and kind of an older Vegas feel there.  I broke even playing some Video Poker and a little slots.  Avoided the craps table since I hadn't had any luck so far this trip.  The girls did some shopping at M&M, Hershey and World of Coca Cola before returning to the Trop and hitting the VP machines.  Our daughter the foodie really wanted to hit Pink Taco at the Hard Rock for a meal so we decided to do some gaming at the Hard Rock.  The PQ and I usually do well at the Hard Rock so off we went.  

Boy do I like the Hard Rock.  As soon as we got there (and didn't pay to park) I hit the mens room.  Cleanest nicest mens room I had been in all trip.  Their staff pays attention to the little things.  From there we hit the Video Poker machines for a little while.  I didn't do much but both my daughter and wife hit nice hands and start making some cash.  So I decide to hit the craps tables again.  That turned out well.  My luck finally turned around.  Table was almost empty on one side so I took position next to the stick man in the middle of the table.  I play pretty conservative just a pass line bet and the 6 and 8.  Make a little cash and the dice come to me.  I put down a pass line bet and also 5 bucks split between the 2 each on the Small and Tall bets and 1 on the All.  To win you have to roll either 2-6 for the Small or 8-12 for the Tall before rolling a 7.  To win the All you have to roll every number before rolling the 7.  Seems fairly simple but odds are pretty high and the house edge is something like 7 percent so not a good bet.  If you hit it though the payouts are high.  35-1 on the Small and Tall and 175-1 on the All.    What makes this bet so tough is there are no off bets.  If you are playing pass line and make your point then roll a 7 on the come out roll, you win your pass line bet again.  If you're playing Small/Tall/All, that 7 is a loser.  

I got on a decent roll.  Made a couple of points and all the small numbers so I got a nice payout on that.  Had one number left on the high side when I crapped out.  But by then I had more than doubled up.  When I started my roll this guy walks up to my left and buys in for something like $1000.  He lays out some bets including $100 each on the Small and Tall and $25 on the all.  So he hit a nice $3500 payout on the Small even though he lost some other bets along the way.  He skipped his roll and the guy to his left had a decent roll and I made some more money.  My $100 buyin is up to about $300 now and I'm finally feeling like my luck had turned.  Dice go to the other side of the table and this next guy goes on a massive roll.  I've got 2 each on the small, tall and all now.  I'm also playing the hard ways and the 6 and 8.  Every time a 6 or 8 hits, I bump my bet on them by another 6 dollars and take the rest of the payout as profit.  I also bump up my hard ways whenever one of them hits until I have 5 each on them .  And this guy is rolling some doubles.  He hits all the tall numbers pretty early and only needs a 4 to complete all the small numbers (and the all numbers bet) but he keeps rolling sixes and eights.  Which is fine as I'm taking down $42 each time he hits them now.  But finally the 4 hits and the table erupts.  

I take down $420 on my All and Small bets as do a couple of others.  One guy had $5 on each so he took down around $1000.  Then there's the guy to my left.  He takes down almost $8000 on that bet.  Something the dealers did in paying his bets pissed this guy off and he immediately cashed out and took off with over $11,000.  He did tip the dealers a couple hundred before he left.  I kept putting in bets for the dealers on my hard way bets so they got some decent payoffs as well.  After that the table got choppy and I cashed out for $1100.  My Vegas luck had finally turned.  

Sometimes Craps does pay

We had a really nice late lunch at the Pink Taco in the Hard Rock.  Great food there but I was just not hungry enough to eat much or maybe I was excited because I finally ran good.  But that was not the end of my good luck.  That night I went over to the Palms to check it out.  I really liked the casino though it was under construction still.  I can't wait to see how it all looks when they finish the construction.  They have good odds on their Video Poker machines including some 10-6 Double Double bonus machines.  And my run continued on the craps table.  This time I rolled the All numbers bet .  Unfortunately no one else could get much of a run going but I ended up cashing out for another $700 score so in that one day I made up all of my previous losses and then some.  And for the rest of the week I ran pretty well.  No huge scores but no big losses either.  We all went back to the Palms the next day and did ok, I made a few dollars on craps.  On our last day in Vegas, we didn't fly out till late afternoon so we went back to the Hard Rock since it was on our way to the airport.  The girls did decent on the video poker and I made another $200 playing craps.  Just missed throwing all the numbers again, needed an 11 and couldn't roll it but did make all the small numbers and some hard ways.  I was all by myself a good part of the time.  From there it was off to the airport for the long flight home.  Was nice to come home with a wad of bills still in my pocket.  The girls came home with cash too.  A damned good trip all in all though my reporting, as late as it is, does not do it justice at all.

We had such a good time that when the PQ got an email from Southwest with cheap flight info, we looked into going back to Vegas in January.  We checked out some dates and looked at vacation time available and settled on going back in Mid January.  Got rooms comped at Ballys for the whole stay.  Good rental car rate, inexpensive flight.  We're there.  In 20 days we head back out.  It had been almost 3 years since our last trip to Vegas when we went in October, now we're going back only 3 months later.  Hope my run good continues.  And I'm definitely gonna play more poker.  Until then, Happy New Year everybody.  

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Some days the burro gets you

Sorry about the delay in posting.  After getting back to work I've been buried and when not buried I've had some obligations (including a golf tourney I played in last weekend) which has kept me away from the keyboard.

I wanted to write up this post a lot earlier and didn't,  Now I hope my memory doesn't betray me.  I mentioned losing in a poker tourney to maybe the worst player I've played with.  Nothing I've done since then has changed my view.

We were at Harrah's and while the girls were playing some slots and walking around, I checked in the poker room to see if they had a tourney going on.  They said they had one starting soon so I signed up even though there was only a couple of tables going right then.  As it turned out, it was basically a single table tourney as it started with 9 of us but you could rebuy for the first hour or so and a couple more people did buy in after we started but they replaced guys knocked out.

There was one guy a couple places to my right who was maybe the worst player I had seen.  Somehow he could not grasp the concept of raises.  If he bet 200 and someone raised to 800,  he'd put out 800 more.  I saw him do this at least 8 or 10 times.  I figured he would be one of the first to be gone, especially when I saw him call down a couple of people with only 3rd or 4th pair and lose to a guy with AK who flopped an ace.  He called one guys river bet of 5K with 9-5 after pairing the 5 on the flop.  He would call nearly any raise and after the first half hour his 20K stack was down to maybe 6K.  Then lightning struck and the poker gods decided to fuck with every other guy at the table.

I had beaten him on one hand early when I flopped 2 pair and he called me on the flop and turn (amazingly folded the river) for a couple of thousand.  But apparently some people at the table were not very observant.  First a couple of guys decided to bluff at him when they missed their AK and KQ hands on the flop, etc.  And he just kept calling them with small to mid pairs and taking their chips.  Before you know it he's back to 20K and these other guys are grumbling.  Then he gets into this hand with the 2 guys to my left.  Neither guy had played overly aggressive.  I was in the big blind when the first to act to my left just calls.  Next guy puts out a healthy raise so I figured him for a solid hand.  Mr Lucky to my right calls of course and I fold my crap hand. I was surprised to see the guy next to me then call and I figured him for a big hand too.  Flop is A, 2, 6 with the Ace and 2 of clubs.  Guy to my left leads out a healthy bet, guy next to him pushes all in.  I'm figuring one of them flopped a set or something.  Mr Lucky calls the all in.  That surprised me but not too much.  Then the original bettor also goes all in.  Mr Lucky has them both covered by a little bit now.  Guy to my left shows AK off suit for top pair, top kicker.  The first all in guy has KQ of clubs for a nut flush draw, and surprisingly, Mr Lucky shows A2 for flopped two pair.  I half expected him to show up with a 10,6 or something but in this case he actually had the lead.  Of course calling a healthy bet preflop with A2 is not what I'd do but it works for him.  Turn is then the 10 of clubs completing the flush for the KQ,  Then the river is the last ace and Mr Lucky takes down a huge pot with aces over twos and takes both guys out.  He goes from lowest in chips to table leader in a very short time. Which can happen but damn.

I of course am getting an endless succession of 8-3, J-4 etc.  The few playable hands like 9-10 suited are completely missing.  Mr Lucky on the other hand takes out a couple of more people with some unlikely hands - I think he won one with 10-6 when he filled a straight and beat a guy who flopped two pair with 9-8.  I'm bleeding chips from blinds and antes and I'm first to act with about 4K left when I see A-4 suited.  I push all in.  Mr Lucky calls with 9-2 and the whole table is shocked my A-4 miraculously holds up when I flop a 4 and he doesn't improve.  Next hand I'm in the big blind with 3-3.  No one raises and I just call.  4 of us see a flop of JJ2.  I push all in for almost 8K.  Everyone folds except Mr Lucky.  He calls with K5.  I dodge the turn but lose to a 5 on the river and my tourney is done.  I'm not shocked at the outcome as everyone else has lost to that guy.  I almost wanted to rebuy just so I could see how the rest of the tourney played out but I was disgusted at the way my poker had gone, I hadn't played particularly well and had zilch luck.  Of course that was how the whole week had gone to that point so I decided to call it a day and went looking for the girls so we could grab a late lunch/early dinner.

I never did play any more poker in Vegas.  A couple of times later including the last night we were there I planned to play and I was just too beat.  I was also coming down with a nasty cold that kept me out of work 2 days when I returned home so maybe that played a hand in it.  Oh well.  It was probably for the best.

After 3 days in Vegas I had not won diddly squat and I'm wondering if I'll need to budget my gambling expenses the rest of the week to make sure I have enough money.  Then on Monday we decided to day trip down to Hoover Dam and further down to Lake Havasu.  While the PQ and I have visited Hoover Dam in the past, this was a first for our daughter.  I was pretty shocked at how much lower Lake Mead is than the last time we were there.  Then again it was fall and after a long hot summer so I'm sure it's a bit higher in the spring.  Lake Havasu and Havasu City are nice but unless you're into boating and retired, it's not where I'd live.  I mean it's out in the middle of absolutely no where.  Then again being 2 or 3 hours from Vegas does have some appeal.  We did see the London Bridge that was bought and shipped and rebuilt there stone by stone.  Had a really nice lunch at a brew pub next to the bridge and took a few pics by the bridge.
The PQ by London Bridge

On the return to Vegas we took another way back so we could go into California.  I'd never been to California before so I can cross that off my list.  That area of California doesn't look any different from Arizona, - dry and sunbaked.  We did get to visit the thriving metropolis of Needles, home to Snoopy's brother Spike.  So I can cross that off my bucket list.  Then we headed overland on some realllllly sketchy roads up to Laughlin Arizona.  I missed the exit I wanted to take on State Highway 95 from Needles (Needles Highway I believe and calling it a highway is a major stretch) and ended up on this two lane beat up road called Needles Highway that I put me in fear of my life led through some very picturesque countryside that man hadn't travelled through since they rode on burros.  In fact we even saw a burro crossing sign on this road.  Like burros can read signs (they can't but they can follow the pictures).  Calling that road a highway was proof of the optimism of the residents of Needles.  I was scanning the horizon looking for bands of Indians massing to massacre the wagon train but never did see them.  However the road did in it's own way lead to Laughlin, even though I had my doubts along the way.



Laughlin was a pretty town along the Colorado River with some casinos.  We didn't spend very long there, we did hit the Harrahs in town and I actually won a little cash on the video poker but lost it playing craps continuing my bad run there.  Next time in Vegas maybe we'll come back here and hit a few of the other places.  It was a pretty long day's driving and I was ready to get some rest so as darkness fell we drove back to Las Vegas.  Saw a pretty sunset on the way - they get some great sunsets around the mountains there.  And I didn't lose money the whole day which was some improvement over the previous 3 days.  Some days you win by not losing.  Luckily it all changed the next day.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Vegas - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Got back from Vegas late last Friday night/early Saturday morning.  It was a fun trip and I'll detail more in the next few days about everything but thought I'd talk about some of the things we saw this trip.

Good things - Wow did we eat well.  Of course travelling with our daughter the foodie ensured we would hit some restaurants we had never been to before.  Here are some places you might want to try next time you go to Vegas:
Cinnamons Restaurant - This is a small chain from Hawaii, the Vegas location is the only one on the mainland, and they serve authentic Hawaiian dishes.  I had been wanting to try Loco Moco and this was my first chance.  It was great.  Try their pancakes too.  They are known for their guava chiffon pancakes but the PQ opted for the Red Velvet pancakes.  We expected them to be pretty dense but they were very light and fluffy not to mention delicious.  Our daughter got the Korean BBQ which I feared would be spicy but was actually a bit sweet and very tender.  The restaurant is located west of downtown near Summerlin right off US95.

Rice with a hamburger patty, brown gravy, and 2 eggs on top.  Loco Moco indeed


Eats - Just outside of downtown in an area that used to be run down but is now in a renewal, Eats is a nice locals breakfast/lunch/brunch place.  A bit hipster and it gets loud in there but the food is worth the wait.  We hit this place just before noon on the morning we arrived in Vegas.  I had a very tasty chicken fried steak and eggs and of course sourdough toast which I usually can't get here in Florida, our daughter had a fantastic killer grilled cheese and tomato soup and the PQ had a delicious chicken sandwich on ciabatta with home made chips.
The Peppermill - right on the strip just north of the Wynn/Encore across from where the Resorts World is being built.  This is one of the first places we eat in Vegas.  If you've never been here, you must go.  Step back into the 70s.  Purple neon and velour covered furniture.  Food is great and portions are huge.  Usually I get an egg dish but I chucked the diet for the week and it had been so long since I'd had French toast that I got this huge order of French toast with fruit (hey that's good for me right? ) and whipped cream.  I ate half then traded with the PQ and had some of her chicken fried steak and eggs.  None of us finished our food and we all left stuffed.  There's also a lounge in the back with a fire pit which does great business every night.  In the Vegas tradition I had Baileys and coffee with my breakfast.
Somewhere under this is 6 halves of French toast.  

Wynn Buffet - I thought it was excellent, our daughter was unimpressed saying the food lacked seasoning.  Didn't stop her from piling on the desserts.  Great biscuits but a surprising lack of sausage gravy to go with them.  Strange, not refined enough for the Wynn?  

No sausage gravy but you can get a breakfast candy apple at the Wynn


El Burro Burracho - TV Chef Guy Fieri's Mexican restaurant in the Rio.  There's also one in the Linq I believe.  Wow this was good.  I've been wanting to try Beef Machaca Enchiladas and they were fantastic.  The girls split an order of trash can nachos which were also excellent.  We'll be eating here again next time.
Gordon Ramsey's Fish and Chips - didn't have any fish but the chips are out of this world.  While not a fan of his, the man knows how to make delicious fries.
Pink Taco - more excellent Mexican food this time at the Hard Rock casino at the Pink Taco.  I wasn't really hungry so I had the quesadilla appetizer and me and the PQ split some queso fundido.  Our daughter was after the pink tacos and really enjoyed them. We'll also be back as the Hard Rock treated us very well in the casino.
Barley Bros Brewery - by Lake Havasu.  Right next to the London Bridge that was moved stone by stone from London to Havasu City.  PQ had one of the best steak sandwiches I've had - thick but very tender and the bun was perfect.  My burger was really nice and the cole slaw with it was really good.  The foodie had a pizza which was also well made and tasty.

Other good things.  Trader Joes in Vegas sells hard alcohol including their own brands of Rum, Vodka, Scotch, and Gin.  Finally went to the Gamblers General Store outside downtown.  Very cool, got a number of souvenirs there.  Gambling at the Hard Rock and Palms was fun and profitable.

Bad Things - It was very sobering to go to the Welcome to Las Vegas sign at the south end of the strip and see the memorial to those killed only a week before.  It was good too to see the offerings from people who many times did not know the victims and the city really has come together over the tragedy.  The concert venue was still taped off and police were not letting people in except for a few at a time to retrieve belongings.  The window where the shots were fired from was easy to see as it was the only one with plywood on it.  Ugh.   My gambling the first 3 days qualifies as bad.  I couldn't win anything on any game whether machine or table.  I was calculating how much I could continue to lose and still have money but thankfully everything turned around the last few days.  Paying for parking on the strip is definitely bad.  What the hell, I'm coming to your casino to play and dine and put money in your coffers and you have to nickel and dime me to park there too??  And it's not a buck or 2, it's serious coin if you stay awhile.  When did the Strip Casinos become Disney World?  Almost makes a person not want to play on the strip.  This is not an issue off the strip, no charge at the Rio even to valet, nor at the Palms right down the street.  Fortunately as a Caesars Platinum rewards member I get free parking and valet at their properties on the strip and I did make use of that.  But even self parking at the Wynn or Bellagio costs if you stay more than an hour.  I can see myself not going to those places very much in the future.  One other place I parked for free was the Tropicana which I had never visited before.  While I was gaming there, the PQ and Foodie were visiting M&M world, Hershey World and World of Coke at neighboring casinos. Odds weren't nice at the Tropicana but the people were extremely nice and the layout was cool inside there.  I was surprised to find I was a rewards member there due to signing up for a rewards card at Boom Town in Biloxi several years before.  Another bad thing was I didn't play much poker.  I had plans to play on 2 different nights including the last night we were there but ended up backing out.

Ugly Things -  I did play one small poker tourney at Harrahs.  Like the poker room much more than the old room as it's not set off completely from the rest of the casino.  I lost to maybe the worst player I had ever played with.  Of course, I wasn't the only one - he took out at least 4 others.  It was crazy.  The drivers around the strip are absolutely nuts.  I saw some outrageously bad driving including a taxi who decided the left turn light was green when it was red on Las Vegas Blvd and almost caused a huge pile up at Harmon.  Some guy apparently climbed over one of the sidewalk barriers on LV Blvd and was run over.  As Ron White says "you can't fix stupid".  There's a reason those barriers are there and walkways were built over the street.  I picked up a nasty cold about half way through the trip.  While I wasn't suffering much during the week, I was tired a lot and it really kicked in when I got home.

Well that's enough for now.  I will update with some food porn pics a little later and some more in depth posts including my poker tourney and exit.  Going to hit the poker tables at Derby Lane and try to improve on my Vegas experience.



Thursday, October 5, 2017

Getting Ready for Vegas

We've all heard it said, hell we've probably said it ourselves, that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.  I thought it was Einstein who sad it but some places say the author is unknown.  But Einstein was pretty smart so I'm sure he said a lot of wise things in his life.  But I digress.



Saturday was a long day for me.  I headed into work about 10 because I have 3 days to finish testing and I have a lot to do.  Of course I get there and the testing environment is down.  I contact a couple of people and 3 hours later they get it figured out so I can start testing.  Great.  I was hoping to not work on Sunday too but that pretty much clinched it that I'm coming in on Sunday too.  Lovely.  I was able to get a fair amount done in the next 3 hours but missing out on 3 hours of testing meant I had plenty to do by the time I left at 4 that afternoon.

I was a little tired but I had talked to the Poker Queen earlier in the day about maybe going to play poker that night at Derby Lane.  There was a small tournament at 6 that we like to play.  And we're off to Vegas in a week.  So after work, I headed home and picked up the wife and off to Derby Lane we went.  Because, hey let's do the same thing again and hope my results change.

We arrived about 45 minutes before the tourney and went to sign in.  I was thinking maybe I'd play a little holdem before the tourney to get into the flow of the game but when we got there I was hungry (since all I'd had since breakfast was some peanuts) so we figured to sign up and I'd grab a bite before played.  We went up to the window and told the girl there we wanted to sign up for the tourney.  And were told we'd have to wait until 5:30.  What?  It's 45 minutes before the tourney and we can't sign up for it?  I was miffed.  Then the room manager came by and told the girl it was ok to sign people up now.  So we got that out of the way.  We went over to the snack bar and I got a bite before we started.

The tourney was s $60 buyin with 15K in chips and 20 minute blinds.  I did not get off to a great start, lost one hand early on when my Q high flush ran into a K high flush.  That sucked.  But I didn't lose too much.  After a couple of orbits I was down to about 13K.  Blinds were 50/100 and I was in middle position when I looked down at KK.  After a couple of people called, the guy a couple of places to my right raised to 2500.  What?  I had notice this guy and another one a few places to my left seemed to make large preflop raises but this was big even for them.  I figured he probably had a mid pair like from 8-J or even Qs.  Which is great for my KK.  So I reraised him to 7K which was kind of dumb because it was more than half my stack.  But I don't mind taking it down there and if he reraises all in I'm not dumping Kings at that point.  I really doubt he has AA but if he does I'll stomp my feet and cry about how unfair poker is take my beat down like a man.  And rebuy.  But I figure he'll fold or push here.  He surprised me by calling.  Ok, now what?  Flop is 10-6-3 rainbow.  He checks to me.  I'm really hoping he doesn't have 10-10 as that's right in his range there but I'm pot committed already so I push in.  He goes into the think tank for a long time.  Now I know he doesn't have 10s and I figure he has JJ or QQ so I'm hoping he'll call.  Finally after a minute he folds.  Still a nice chunk of change for me.

A little later I call on the button with A2 of hearts.   5 of us see a flop of 10-5-3 all hearts.  BINGO.  Now how do I get chips out of this.  Everybody checks it around so I check too.  Turn is an 8 of clubs.  Guy in early position makes a small bet of 350.  Comes around to me and I just call as do the 2 blinds.  Nice, now we're getting a pot built.  River is a 2 of spades.  The guy who bet now puts out 2500.  Much better.  It comes to me and I immediately raise him to 6K.  He thinks for quite a while.  Tries to get a reaction out of me and finally calls.  He doesn't like it when I flip over the nut flush.  Not long after that he busts out and a older gentleman moves into his seat.

I'm not sure what this older guy is playing but he's calling a lot preflop, even when it's raised, then stays in calling the flop and turn only to fold at the river.  He wins a couple of hands but loses more.  Blinds are up to 75/150 and I've about doubled my 15K starting stack so I'm feeling pretty good when I get JJ in early position and make a raise to 600.  The old guy is in the small blind and is the only caller.  Flop is K 6 3 rainbow.  I don't like the king but he checks into me so I bet out 900 which he calls.  I'm not sure what he's calling with here but he hasn't shown me much so far.  Next a 9 of clubs hits the board.  It's not a scare card so after he checks I put out 3500.  I'm hoping to take it down here but he calls again.  Now I'm getting a little worried.  River is a 10 of diamonds.  While not a terrible card, it's not great.  And since I don't have any idea what he has, when he checks, I check behind.  He then mucks his hand as I turn over my JJ.  I never found out what he had but it wasn't too much longer before he is gone though he did hurt one guys stack pretty good when he backed into a straight on the river.  I'm a little over 40K when everything starts to implode.

I raise in late position with A-10.  Blinds are 200-400 so I raise to 1200.  3 people call but the flop is 10-6-3 with 2 spades which I'm liking.  It's checked to me and I bet out 2500.  Guy in the small blind raises me to 5K.  I'm wondering if he's on a flush draw or if he really has the goods here.  Everybody else folds and I decide to call. The turn is an 8 of clubs.  He checks to me and I think for a bit.  I almost checked back but decided he's probably on a flush draw so I bet 6K.  And he goes all in.  I ask the dealer to count it down and it's another 13K on top.  I can afford to lose this hand but then I'm down to around 15K again.  I think for a couple of minutes and figure he probably flopped a set of 3s or 6s so I fold,  I never found out what he had and if he bluffed me, good for him.  But I felt fairly confident he had me.

A little later on blinds are 300/600.  I haven't had much to play and I'm slowly bleeding chips from blinds and ante.  I raise in early position with AQ suited.  Guy to my right who was on the button and the old guy who folded to my jacks both call my raise to 2K.  Flop is a nice Q62 with 2 hearts.  It's checked to me and I bet 5K.  Old guy calls all in (of course) for less than 5K and it comes around to my neighbor.  Who pushes all in for almost 20K.  Oh crap.  Now I start to think.  What the hell did I get into?  I start thinking it through.  My options are pure bluff, semi bluff with a flush or straight draw, set of 2's or 6's or AA/KK.  I toss out pure bluff, why do it here?  With the other guy calling he has to figure he'd probably lose most of the pot to him.  Semi bluff is possible though again, he doesn't get all that much if I fold and he doesn't fill his flush or straight.  I didn't think he had AA or KK.  If he did I think he raises preflop instead of calling and I'm sure he reraises me preflop.  So I'm left with pocket pair making a set.  Of course this took me probably 2 minutes to work through. I'm not the brightest bulb out there in the poker world.  So I fold and he flips over 66 for the set and takes the old guy out.  I'm now down from over 40K to just over 25K.  And the break can't come soon enough.

I meet up with the PQ over the break.  She had just over her starting stack, hadn't gotten much to work with.  But with the blinds and antes increasing she knows she's going to have to make some moves.  And I got to see a couple of them.

Not long after break my table was broken up.  I came out of the break running pretty well and hit a couple of big hands.  No all in's but I doubled my stack.  I was not thrilled to move.  Wouldn't you know I got moved to the PQ's table.  One of the first hands, the PQ gets it all in vs a guy who came over from my table.  He was a pretty solid player.  Flop was King high with 2 hearts when the PQ pushed all in.  The guy calls and flips over KK for top set.  PQ has QJ offsuit with the Q of hearts.  She's drawing nearly dead but the turn and river are both hearts giving her the flush (K of hearts was on the board) and a miracle double up.  It would not be the last time the card gods smiled on her that night.

Not long after that the PQ was moved to another table to keep them balanced.  As for me, I spent a lot of time folding having nothing worth playing.  I did make some chips on a couple of well timed semi bluffs so I actually was up to about 55K in chips.  Average stack at this point.  I figured for the final table I would need to be near 100K.  We got down to 2 tables so I knew I'd need to take some chances.  On the button I was able to just call with K5 of hearts.  I almost threw it away, then I almost raised with it but decided to just call.  It worked out.  Flop is KQJ with the QJ of hearts.  I figure I might not be ahead but I certainly have a decent shot to win the hand.  It gets checked around to me and I put out a healthy raise of about two thirds the pot.  Folds around to the guy in seat 7 (I'm in 3) who pushes all in.  Everyone folds back to me.  I get a count on it and if I call I'll have about 20K left.  As blinds are 800-1600 now, I'll be in push or fold territory.  Then I start considering what he might have.  I didn't think he had flopped a set or even two pair as I suspect he'd have raised any hand of QJ or better in that situation.  I also discounted A-10 for that reason.  Now 9-10 is definitely possible.  But more likely I felt he had either a pair plus a draw like J-10 or a just a draw.  Maybe flush plus straight draw too.  I put my odds at 60% I'm ahead and even if I'm not, I have a decent flush draw.  Only thing I fear is he played something like A2 of hearts.  So I call.  And I'm right.  He has 10-7 of hearts.  So he's drawing just to a straight as no heart saves him.  He's calling for a 9 and gets his wish on the river.  Unfortunately for him its the 9 of hearts and I take him out.

At this point I'm feeling pretty good.  I've got almost 100K, nearly the biggest stack at the table.  I get to play a little bully and no one wants to mess with me much.  But I keep it pretty mellow just trying not to dump a bunch of chips.  We get down to 5 handed while the other table is 6 handed.  PQ is low but holding on as she pushed in AQ of clubs preflop and got called by a big pair.  Flush on the river again saved her.  I lost some chips when 2 guys went to war with me in the middle.  I decided to get out which was good but dropped me down to about 95K.  The good thing was, one of them got knocked out and we're at final table time.

We draw seats for the table and I get seat 3 again.  And directly on my right in seat 2 is the PQ.  She was not thrilled but we never tangled as it turned out.  I've got an average sized stack for the table but the guy in seat 1 is a monster.  He's sitting on nearly 300K - and only 900K was in the whole tourney.  Seat 1 proceeds to play more than half the hands.  He gets it in with some smaller stacks taking one out but losing a chunk to the guy in seat 8.  He and the guy in seat 10 keep tangling sending chips back and forth but along the way seat 1 is losing to some other guys like seat 4 directly to my left.  I do not get to benefit from his largess, I can't draw any cards and I can't hit any flops I do see which are quite few.  Every time I'm in the small blind, seat 4 puts in a big raise and I can't call or go in over the top with the crap I have.  Seat 4 takes a healthy piece off of seat 1 and he falls down to about 100K.  I keep going down and I'm about 70K when the PQ gets all in and loses to go out in 8th place, 2 off the money.  She wasn't too disappointed as she didn't get a lot to work with and she got lucky a few times to stay in the tourney.  Making the final table was a very good result for her.

At 7 left with 6 places being paid, I'm content to wait out the bubble.  I'm not getting much to play anyway.  Seat 5 is very short and seat 6 is not far behind.  But seat 5 makes a big double up and seat 6 ends up splitting a pot he was behind in.  I'm wondering when the axe will fall.  All the while I'm dumping crap hands, best I get to see is K9 in the small blind and I can't call seat 4 when he raises me all in preflop.  Finally seat 6 gets all in and busts out and we're in the money.  Now I just gotta keep moving up.  So I channel my inner Memphis Mojo and buckle down.  I take down the blinds and ante's a couple of times with all in preflop bets but I'm still bleeding chips.  Guys are talking about a 6 way split with the 2 big stacks, seats 4 and 8 getting extra but we keep playing on as no one can get to a consensus.  I'm down to about 40K and one off the button when I look down to AQ suited.  It's folded to me so I push in.  Seat 4 next to me calls and we're off to the races.  He flips over QJ off so I feel pretty good about my chances.  I hold and I'm back up close to 100K.  Just after this we reach a consensus.  Top 2 stacks get 500, rest of us walk out with a little over 300.  Not bad on a 60 dollar tourney.

I felt pretty good about my play.  I was a little too conservative at the final table maybe but I picked good spots to play I thought.  I also thought I made the correct lay downs which allowed me to keep playing.  I'm not really sharp but I'm ready for Vegas.  So in 2 days the PQ, myself and our daughter hop the big bird to Las Vegas for 6 days of fun.  Staying at the Rio this time and I'll be renting a car so we can take a day trip or 2 depending on how the gambling is going.  Hope someone of us is lucky this time.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

When is my vacation again?

Happy Sunday folks.  Sorry about the lack of posts lately, I've been doing that work thing a bit too much.  The OT pay is nice but the time spent at work on nights and weekends has really curtailed the leisure time activities I like to indulge in.  Haven't played any golf since before the hurricane nor any cards.  Until today anyway.

The PQ and our daughter left this morning for Orlando.  They are spending a couple of days at the "happiest place on earth" attending the EPCOT food and wine fest and seeing Sugar Ray in concert.  Good for them.  I stayed home to ensure Disney World remained the happiest place on earth.  With me there, it's probably no better than number 3 or 4.  I'd love to go to the Food and Wine fest except with my current dietary restrictions, there would be no wine and probably very little I could eat.  And that's fine with me.  The happiest places on earth to me are found in places like Biloxi and Las Vegas.  Sad I know but hey, free drinks, gambling, entertainment, plenty to eat.  What more can a degenerate gambler person ask for?

So while the girls were away I had a decision to make.  Put some time in at work?  Play golf?  How about some poker?  I decided to play the 1pm tourney at Derby Lane.  2K guarantee, 15K in chips and 25 minute blinds.  All for 60 bucks.  56 people signed up.

I got off to a good start playing 7-5 of spades on the button in an unraised pot.  Flop was Q -9-5 with 2 spades.  Everyone checks to me and I bet 200, about a pot sized bet.  2 people call.  Turn was the 4 of spades.  Yahtzee.  Checked to me again and I bet out 550.  This time only the big blind calls me.  River was a 10 of diamonds.  I bet out 1100 and big blind, calls again.  She was very surprised when I flipped over the flush.  Next hand I gave it all away.  Aggressive older guy raises to 400 preflop which is a bit high on a 25/50 blind level.  I look down at 2 tens.  I probably should reraise, especially in position but decided to call.  Tens are not an easy hand to play postflop, better to try and take it down early.  Flop was very good though with 776 rainbow.  Raiser leads out for 600 and I pop it to 1600.  Not enough of a raise there?  Not sure.  He calls which I hated.  Turn is a 3.  He checks to me and I bet 2800.  He then goes all in.  I have him covered but not by much.  He is also doing some talking during the hand and while I'm thinking I'm listening to him.  I interpreted his talking as he felt strong in the hand.  Now maybe he feels that way with 9-9 on that board but maybe it's something like JJ or QQ.  Eventually I dump the hand but I thought long and hard about calling.  Let me know if you think I screwed up that hand.  Later on I thought I might have but at the time I did think his talking was a sign of strength.  Other hands I watched him play, he did not talk much when he wasn't strong.

So I ended up giving back more than I made in the previous hand.  After missing a draw on a later hand I'm down to about 10K and pretty card dead.  Blinds are up to 75/150 so I'm not hurting but I need to make some chips up.  I check my big blind with K7 of spades.  Flop is 3-4-Q all spades.  I check and a few others do to.  Older guy puts out a bet of 3K.  Which was a big overbet in a pot with like 750 in it.  I noticed this guy bet pretty strong when he caught any piece of the pot and stayed in till the river a few times.  So I pushed all in over the top of him.  Everyone else folds back to him and he calls me and turns over 5-6 of spades for the flush and the draw to the straight flush.  Unfortunately for him, I'm holding one of his outs so he's drawing to the 2 of spades to win the hand.  Which doesn't come and I double up to a bit over 20K.

Blinds were up to 200-400 when I was dealt AK of spades in late position.  After a couple of people call, I raise to 1500.  The lady to my left on the button thinks for a bit then calls along with a guy a couple of places to my right.  Flop is AK of diamonds and 8 of hearts.  Checked to me and I bet 3K.  Gal to my left thinks for a long time and I'm wondering if she's gonna reraise me.  I really felt she had a strong hand and was afraid of aces or kings though I also thought she would reraise with either of those hands.  She was well known by the dealer so she was definitely a regular player and I thought could be tricky enough to not raise preflop.  She finally calls and the guy on my right folds.  Turn is a Q of hearts.  I started thinking about the hand some more and the betting and was more and more convinced she called me with AQ.  Possibly with KK but more likely a big ace and since she didn't reraise the flop bet, I doubted she had AK.  So I pushed all in.  She didn't think long before she called and flipped over AQ.  And did not improve.  I had her well covered and my stack increased to over 35K.

That was the high water mark of the tourney for me.  I lost a chunk of my chips when my AQ suited flopped a queen and turned a flush draw but lost to Q 10 when the flush didn't hit.  I did get away on the river without wasting a 3rd bet but it hurt.  Then I screwed myself.  Late position with 99 and I just called instead of raising.  I'm still rusty and that position was tailor made to raise it up and take it down preflop.  Instead I let the small stack in the big blind flop a boat with Q2 then make quads when a queen hit the turn.  After that my fate was sealed.  Never got too much to play with the whole tourney, but I had fun.  I went out 21st which wasn't too bad and I did get in some needed practice before going to Vegas but I really was my own worst enemy some of the time.

After busting I watched some football including seeing the Lions get hosed at the end of the game against the Falcons and the Patriots pull one out against Houston.  Then I went to play a little 1-2 no limit holdem.  I had played for about 45 minutes before the tourney and made about $5.  I wanted to make back my tourney buyin and surprisingly I did.  No major hands but I got a guy to pay me off when my J-10 flopped a broadway straight and another guy to keep pushing his AJ at my AQ on an ace high board.  The only note worthy hand was me losing with AA again.  That's 3 times in a row I've lost with it, once to 10  3 suited when the moron called my raise and flopped his flush.  Another to Q-10 suited who also made his flush.  This time I'm not sure what the old bat nice old lady had but it probably included a 3.  Button straddled to 4 dollars.  A couple of people call then I raised to 11.  Maybe not enough of a raise but I don't want to drive everyone out there.  Turns out the button and the old lady call.  Flop is an ugly 2-4-6 with 2 hearts.  Checked to me and I bet 17.  They both call.  Turn is a 5 of spades.  Old lady immediately leads out for 25.  Ok, so you played what 33?  43 or 5or 78?I was pretty sure I was beat especially with another guy in the hand so I dumped it.  Don't know what she had but I'm not throwing more money into the pot on that kind of board.

I left a little bit later and lo and behold, I'd made back all but $2 of my tourney entry fee.  So while the results weren't great, they weren't too bad either.  A whole afternoon's entertainment for only $2.

So that's my in a nutshell.  House is quiet, got the Raider game on and it's time for bed.  Probably a long day at work tomorrow.  13 days till I leave for Vegas.  Hope you all are running luckier than I am.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Breathing a Sigh of Relief

Well Irma has come and gone and we can all breath a sigh of relief today.  As bad as it was, it could have been so much worse.  Lucky for us, Irma came ashore a little earlier than expected down near Naples.  Not so good for the folks living there but it kept the hurricane for staying over the Gulf waters and strengthening a lot more.  Irma was only up to a category 3 when it came ashore after losing some power in Cuba.  If it had stayed in the Gulf longer and come ashore further north it would have been a Category 4 and we'd have had it much worse here.

Looking at a lot of downed branches in our neighborhood. Downed trees all over town too.  A lot of the county is without power but we never lost it here.  It flickered on and off a number of times probably due to transformers blowing but never went completely out.  Lucky for us.

The hurricane came ashore around 2 pm and while we got wind and rain from the outer bands, we didn't get the really strong winds until last night.  About 9 or so we could hear the wind howling and see the trees blowing back and forth.  Winds were probably around 50-60 then.  It really got going around 11.  Lost a lot of branches on the trees by the house and we really cringed every time we heard one land on the roof.  I didn't sleep well last night, woke up a few times due to noises.  When I woke up today there were a couple of big branches laying across the front walk but amazingly no trees laying down on the road (or the car or the roof) so that's a victory.

We were fortunate that the hurricane weakened over land and was only about a Cat 2 when it got up here.  It also went further inland than predicted in its course up the state.  The eye went over western Polk county which is about 40-50 miles inland from here.  We only dealt with winds around 90 mph.  Easy peasy.  Still a lot of friends and relatives are currently without power now.  Some have been told it could be a week before they have it back.  Florida in the late summer without A/C is no picnic.  Of course Houston is even hotter than here so we cannot complain too much.

Anyway, while we planned for the worst, we came out pretty good and I cannot complain about that.  Maybe this weekend I can get out to the poker tables or the golf course again and talk about that instead of all this Weather Channel nonsense.  By the way I want to thank the local tv stations for showing hurricane coverage 24-7 here.  No football for me yesterday.  Lovely.  Turns out they were showing it on an alternative channel but since they never posted anything about it on the actual channel or on their website, how was I supposed to find it?  No, much better to go on and on about Hurricanemageddon.  It was like watching the Weather Channel where every major storm is turned into some kind of apocalypse.  Then again when you devote 24/7 to one topic, you end up having to manufacture viewer interest somehow.   People stop tuning in if you tell them, "well, it's not gonna be that bad.  We think it will be windy and rainy but nothing as bad as we feared."  Instead it's all day screaming about "Evacuate or die!!!  Doom is coming to the Florida Gulf Coast."  As a very wise man said, "if your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail."   Well enough ranting.  Off to bed for hopefully a full night's sleep for a change.