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, May 22, 2016

Well, at least the weekend is here

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Back in Paradise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Venetian where I will stay after I win the Lottery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Farley hits on an angel on Monday

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

Angels seem to be a popular theme downtown.  

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

Saturday, November 15, 2014

They say that all good things must end somday

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

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Just hitting my stride

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

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

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

Sunday, November 9, 2014

I've got this feeling

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 6, 2014

So close I can just about taste it

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

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

Our sunset view on Saturday night

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

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

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

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

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

What can I say, they love me there. 

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

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Anticipa - a - a - tion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Back to the asylum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Defining Insanity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.