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

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

How can you mend a broken heart

Saturday the Poker Queen and I decided to try our hand at the poker tables at Derby Lane.  At the end of the day, I wished I hadn't however the PQ persevered and brought home the cash for us both.

We started off the morning by taking our daughter and meeting some friends at Derby Lane to have brunch in the Derby Club.  We've eaten there a number of times though it had been a while since the last visit and it's always been good.  We were not disappointed this time.  Of course with my diet I had to pass on the crepes, waffles, and potatoes but there was plenty for me to choose from including a very taste pork loin with sausage stuffing.  A small omelet and a salad was enough to fuel me up for the day ahead.  While we were eating, the dogs started racing so we were able to place some bets and enjoy the show.  I did not win one bet.  If I had believed in omens I probably would have avoided any further gambling.  Fool that I was, I blithely pushed forward into the turbulent poker waters.

After brunch, the PQ and I decided to try our chances at the tables.  There was a big tourney that had started at 1pm but the $250 buy in was a bit more than we wanted to bite off considering how little we've played but there was a $60 buy in tourney at 6pm that we thought about playing.  Till then it was time for some 1-2 NL holdem.

We ended up next to each other at the table with me on her left.  First hand I pair the flop, turn 2 pair and lose to a bigger 2 pair.  Not a great start.  I kept bouncing from about down $50 to down $20 bucks but could never get back to even or better.  Never could hit a draw for a flush or a straight but I did manage to turn a couple of small pairs into sets and then boats.  Those kept me in the running.  At the same time the PQ mostly was holding her own, lost a little, got a little back.  Then we tangled.  I had moved one place further left to sit next to the dealer.  She was on the button and I had the big blind.  No one raised, she called and I checked my Q8.  Flop was KQ8 rainbow.  I led out, everyone folds and the PQ calls.  Turn was a 7, nice card for me.  So I bet out again.  I'm more than happy for her to fold there and take it down.  Instead she gives me a dirty look and calls.  The rest of the table is enjoying the back and forth as they knew we were together.  River is a very pretty 8.  I had already decided not to push the river on her so I checked.  And she bets into me!  It was my turn to give her a dirty look then.  At this point, I'm not going to just call her.  She wanted to lead there, fine.  So I raise her $8 bet to $20.  That got her attention.

She looks at her cards, looks at me and I can tell she's unhappy.  Finally she says to me, "you better have it" and folds.  I look at her and say, "I've had you the whole time.  I know you have a king.  I tried to bet you out on the turn but you wouldn't leave."  Then I turned over my full house.  The table got a kick out of that, one guy said I should have just mucked and let her wonder.  Yeah right, I still gotta sleep at night.  After that the PQ couldn't get anything going and busted out a little later.  I kept playing till it was almost tourney time then cashed out.  Unfortunately the last hand I played I let myself fold top pair, so/so kicker on the river into a draw heavy board against 2 other guys.  Maybe I call one guy but with 2 I figured one of them had a straight or flush.  Nope both had a smaller pair.  If I stay in I get back to positive numbers.  Instead I lost a bit for the day.

Once I cashed in, I met up with the PQ and she said she didn't really feel like playing the tourney.  I asked if she was sure because I really thought that was what she wanted to do.  She said she didn't have the cash for it after losing at the 1/2 table so I paid for her to play along with myself.  Good choice as she was killing it.  I was pretty card dead and only by picking spots and a few timely bluffs was I able to keep close to my starting stack.  PQ on the other hand was dominating.  She got some cards but she also used her image to push the others around some.   I got some decent starting hands, small pairs and suited connectors, but I never hit anything.  So I channeled my inner Memphis Mojo and just kept waiting.

Blinds got up to 300-600 and I was sitting with around 14k in chips, slightly below my starting stack.  I look down in my hand and see 2 red aces. Finally.  I raise to 2k and get one caller, the player immediately on my right.  He'd been pretty calm so I figured him for some kind of hand there.  Flop was King high, all hearts.  Not great but at least I'm sitting with the heart Ace so it's not so bad.  He checks and I lead out for 3k.  He immediately shoves in.  He had me covered by a little so I have to start thinking.  Flopped flush?  2 pair?  KQ maybe?  I thought he might have Q-10 suited for the flush but I thought it more likely he had something like KQ with the Queen of hearts in his hand.  Or a stone cold bluff.  So I called.  And he turned over 10-3 of hearts.  Really, you call a 3X plus raise in bad position with that hand??  Of course a heart did not hit the turn or river and I'm out.  That was a pisser.

After that my (bad) lucky streak continued.  I went back to the 1-2 tables and got my ass kicked all over the place.  I was being dealt a lot of decent hands but nothing great.  No AK or AQ or big pairs but nice cards like QJ, 10-9 suited, and like that.  So I ended up seeing some flops only to see nothing that helped.  If I had spades, it was diamonds and hearts on the flop.  If I had middle cards, it's all high.  Finally I get dealt 2 black aces.  I raise and get 4 callers.  Flop is a black king and 2 low hearts.  I put in a 3 quarter pot bet and get called by the guy on my left.  Turn is another heart.  I check and the guy to my left puts out a small bet which I call though I don't want to.  River is a blank and he bets again.  I figure he has it but call him anyway.  And he has Q-10 of hearts.  Of course he had hearts.  Hearts are killing me.  This guy then gives away a pile of my chips to someone else playing something stupid that doesn't hit.  Only seems like it hits against me.

I get a rebuy and table change but my luck follows along.  Really bad cards which at least I'm folding without committing anything to the hand.  I do get AK off suit on the button and raise to 6.  I get 4 callers.  Flop is Ace and 2 low cards with 2 hearts.  Hearts again.  I can see it coming but I put out a half pot bet and get 2 callers.  Turn is another heart.  Of course it is.  Guy to my left bets and the guy across from me calls.  I'm done.  I fold that one.  These 2 go to the river and bet into each other.  To find out they both had the flush.  So I've got 2 guys chasing the flush against me and they still hit.  After that I knew my night was fated to be lousy and I cashed out while I still had some money if not my pride.  And I went to rail the PQ

By then they are down to the final table and she's in the money.  Normally this tourney only draws 60-70 players but because of people busting out of the big tourney there were over 100 players.  When I get to the table they are down to 7 and the PQ is pretty short compared to a couple of guys.  While I'm watching, 2 of the bigger stacks get it all in and the woman - there were at least 3 women at the final table - had flopped a pair of kings with her AK.  Unfortunately she was up against KK and she went busto.  Another short stacked woman and a guy also went out.  The PQ pushed her stack in a couple of times at opportune moments to keep in the fight then she pushed K-10 suited into KK,  and rivered the flush to double up.  It was around 1am and everyone was getting tired so they decided to chop it up between the last 4 players.  PQ walked out almost $700 richer and quite happy.  She played really well.  Apparently we're playing again this Saturday.

Sunday I decided to indulge my other passion and play some golf.  Actually I went to the course to maybe hit some balls but the range there was full while the course was nearly empty.  What?  Ok so I guess I'm playing instead of practicing.  I teed it up on number one and it was like a replay of the previous day's poker.  I was all over the place.  Bogey, Double bogey, double bogey.  After the first 6 holes I'm 8 over par and that's only because I hit a really good wedge and then sunk the putt on number 6 to save bogey after dumping a shot in the water.  Then it all came together.  I parred the 7th, 8th, and 9th holes.   I was finally hitting the ball solidly with almost every shot.  Almost holed out a sand shot, drilled some really good 4 irons to a couple of greens and turned the whole day around.  Ended up shooting an 85 which is only one shot off my best round ever.  Those are the kind of days that make you come out and play again.  Kind of like cashing poker tourneys does.  So with any luck I'll be playing next Sunday again.

Well that's enough for now.  I keep going and someone's gonna think RobVegasPoker has taken over the blog.  I hope everyone's cards are running better than mine.  Hopefully I'll have a better report after this weekend.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

It's about damned time

Hello World, didja miss me?  I decided to come back and pollute the intertubes try to provide my own view of life in my corner of the world again.  What have I been doing?  Now that is a good question.  Let me recap

I did mention before I got back into playing golf again.  I really had become a couch potato and about 3 years ago my wife asked me why I no longer played golf.  Before we married and for a little while after, I played quite often with a group of friends around Dallas where we then lived.  But after moving to Florida and with the kids growing up, work, etc, I pretty much stopped playing.  I maybe got out once or twice a year.  So I decided to give it a go with some friends here in sunny Florida.

The first time I went back out was a disaster.  Besides not being able to hit a ball straight, I was in terrible shape and playing nine holes in the summer down here killed me.  But I pressed on and started practicing and got to where I could pretty much hit the ball near where I wanted to.  So I started playing just about every week and kept practicing.  Which took a fair amount of my free time not to mention money, but it did get me out of the house and gave me a good reason to drink beer with some friends.  A great thing about golf and bowling is they go well with beer.

After a year of this I looked at myself and realized "you gotta do something about your health."  I was in horrible shape.  Just walking uphill from the golf cart to the green made me huff and puff.  If I was in a sand trap, forget about it.  So I started dieting about 2 years ago.  My goal was to lose 180 pounds.  Which seems excessive but then again, those who have met me know I can stand to lose it.  I'd had success before doing low carb diets so I went that route again. I can't say it's been easy.  What diet is.  I mean look at the word - D  I  E  T.  Die to a T.  I like food.  No I love food.  Why do I want to restrict that?  Besides the eventual diabetes, liver and/or heart trouble, high blood pressure and early death most obese people have to deal with, that is.  I already had some issues with blood pressure.  Not very bad, really marginal, but a warning sign none the less.  Diabetes was probably lurking right around the corner as well and from there life gets much more difficult.  So I went the Atkins diet route.

So far it's been pretty successful.  I've lost 105 pounds as of last Monday.  I've kind of been in a range of down 100 - 105 pounds for a while but I am really pushing myself for the next 2 months before my next vacation.   As I mentioned before, it's not easy and anyone who tells you dieting is easy is either lying or a fanatic.  Or both.  I used to LOVE high carbohydrate foods - potatoes, pasta, breads, muffins, rice, pastries, etc.  Not so much a dessert lover but give me a plate of biscuits and gravy with some home fried potatoes and I'm in hog heaven.  Or at least I used to be.  Who am I kidding, if a plate of it was sitting in front of me, I would be there again.  But mostly I have learned to restrain myself and avoid those foods.  I do eat a lot of eggs, cheeses, meats, salads, green veggies (except peas, very high in carbs) and I can't tell you how long it's been since I've had a soda.  My beer intake is pretty much limited to Miller Lite which has only 3.2 carbs per can or Michelob Ultra which is even lower at 2.6 carbs.  When you are limited to 20-25 grams of carbs per day (the usual amount when you start a low carb diet) and a single regular beer is 10 or 12 (or more for dark beers and ales) you make some sacrifices.   While I've upped my carb limit since starting this, I still watch it pretty carefully.

So it's not easy and I don't eat and drink a number of things I used to but the results are definitely worth it.  While I still have more to lose, I can now do things I couldn't do before.  I can wear clothes I haven't worn in years.  In fact I've gotten rid of a bunch of clothes that are now too big for me.  That's a nice feeling.  I can walk a golf course if I choose though most courses around here require you to use a cart.  I've played 36 holes in a day this year for the first time in about 30 years.  I have energy, I'm not physically tired all the time and my blood pressure is better than it's been in many many years.  The results are definitely worth it.

What else is going on outside of my golf fanaticism?  Well I haven't played a lot of poker lately though I should be playing some today at Derby Lane.  Occasionally my wife and daughter go to the Hard Rock in Tampa to play video poker and when they do I usually spend some time in the poker room.  No great results to speak of but I've held my own and kept losses to a minimum at least.  I hope today goes well.  We took a recent trip to Biloxi and while I didn't play any poker except of the video variety, I did have a good trip between VP and playing craps. I do enjoy throwing the dice.  Our last day in Biloxi, I tripled my money on the craps table then the Poker Queen and I both took down the VP machines for some nice green as well.  I didn't want to leave.  But leave we did.

Now we're preparing for our next vacation.  Vegas in early October.  We're actually bringing our daughter for her maiden voyage to Vegas.  I can't wait, it's been a while since we were last there.  I'll get some poker in then, table games and a tourney or 2.  Craps for sure and Video Poker as well.  We'll rent a car and do some traveling to non strip casinos and restaurants.  The daughter is a real foodie (and a helluva cook, especially baking) and has a list of restaurants she wants to go to.  We'd probably need a month to hit them all unless all we did in Vegas was eat.

Well it's time for me to sign off.  I got a few things to do before we head out.  I hope everyone is doing well and staying lucky - in life if not in cards.  I'll be back a lot sooner than my last post (probably).  I'll talk to you then.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

It's a Good Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 3, 2016

Another week in the books

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Well, at least the weekend is here

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Back in Paradise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Venetian where I will stay after I win the Lottery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Farley hits on an angel on Monday

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

Angels seem to be a popular theme downtown.  

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

Saturday, November 15, 2014

They say that all good things must end somday

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

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Just hitting my stride

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

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

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

Sunday, November 9, 2014

I've got this feeling

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 6, 2014

So close I can just about taste it

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

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

Our sunset view on Saturday night

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

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

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

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

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

What can I say, they love me there. 

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

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Anticipa - a - a - tion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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