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

Friday, August 9, 2013

Hard Times at the Hard Rock

For quite a few people but not necessarily for me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Vegas Part 5 - All good things come to an end

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 3, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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