Tuesday, May 19, 2015


May has become, for me, a month of ambivalence. May brings with it the end of the school year and the hope of summer -- which certainly can not be discounted when one lives in Illinois. There are other things, however.

My father's birthday is in the first week of the month. He would have been 91 this year. It is hard to believe that he has been gone for over ten years. Fortunately many memories remain vivid in my mind. I've shared several of these memories in my blog over the past nine years. Among the most vivid is the moment when the family gathered around my father's hospital bed as his life support system was turned off. At that point he only had what appeared to be random brain wave activity. Thankfully, he passed away immediately.

In two days, we will remember my father-in-law, who passed away 16 years ago on May 21. Again, it was a very difficult time as my father-in-law was barely surviving on blood transfusions and called the family together to say farewell and watch over him as he passed away. After all the family that could showed up at his home in northern Wisconsin, he stopped receiving blood transfusions. We took turns staying with him as we watched his body slowly and orderly shut down over the course of a day. He passed away peacefully in the early morning hours.

Today marked the final time that I would drive one of my kids to high school. My youngest daughter, Erin, has her final day tomorrow. At the end of the afternoon tomorrow, I will officially be out of the high school business. Never fear, however, as all three kids will be in college next school year and I will likely be driving Erin to school four days a week at the local community college where I work.

The next week and a half of work should not be too bad, and then it will be off to Las Vegas at the end of the month. Aside from my already generous vacation time, I am being forced to take additional time off -- some "use them or lose them" days. Other trips planned for June and July include a trip to Phoenix (and possibly a short jaunt to Reno to visit Tony Bigcharles) and a trip in the van with the family to Memphis and New Orleans.

And yes, before it is said in the comments section: "first world problems."

I hope you are having a great May!

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Catching Up

Is it really the weekend again?

I have finally gotten over whatever had me under the weather for about 2 1/2 weeks. I am not sure if it just worked its way through my body or if antibiotics did the trick.

So ... I fell behind in my work and have been working hard to catch back up. My yearly self evaluation was due yesterday, but that was one of the things I didn't get to it time. It should not be that big of an issue. I will try to keep in mind that three weeks from today I will be leaving for Las Vegas. I have not been there for about five months -- longer than usual for me. However, an increase in my participation in a few home games, some trips to the riverboat in East Peoria, and a few stops at Harrah's Joliet have kept me playing poker pretty regularly.

Some unfortunate news, however, has come up since my last post. My mother, who is due to turn 90 in October, has continued to lose weight and seeming slip cognitively over the past 6-12 months. When thundering36 took her in to see a family doctor recently, the doctor suggested that we enlist my mom in hospice care. Even when you know that something like that might be coming, it still smacks you in the face and bruises your soul. Fortunately, after meeting with someone from a hospice program, thundering36 decided that our mom is not quite there yet. We have some time, but we know that things are unlikely to get any better and will only get worse in the weeks and months ahead.

In a couple weeks my youngest daughter will graduate from high school. Three kids in college next school year. Ugh.

As my sea legs have finally returned, I might take a short trip to the riverboat today. Tomorrow was originally going to include a family brunch for Mothers Day and my oldest daughter's birthday, but we opted instead to cook out at home. Steak, hamburgers, hot dogs and/or brat burgers should rule the day. Life doesn't get much better than that.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Battle Against the Creepin' Crud Continues

It is a beautiful day in central Illinois, yet I am typing this from my bed as this version of the creepin' crud that I have continues. Actually, my best guess is that I caught a bug two weekends ago playing poker at Harrah's Joliet. I felt terrible most of last week and missed 2 1/2 days of work -- very unusual for me. I thought that it was on its way out.

Yesterday, I went to the visitation for cokeboy99's father. Afterwards, seeing as how the Par-A-Dice Casino poker room was only a short distance away, I decided to play a session before heading home. There was only one table going, and it included three regs, myself, and several players of questionable skill. I was able to finish with a $300+ profit before hitting the road with the intention of getting home by midnight.

I did make it home on time and slipped into bed, only to start hacking again. I had trouble sleeping during the night and ended up only going into work for two hours today. I went to the local convenient care place, got a couple of prescriptions, and am hoping that life will soon return to normal.

No home poker game tonight (canceled again) so it looks like my excitement for the evening will be watching my wife at her tap dance class. Ummm, okay.

Creepin' Crud -- BE GONE!

Friday, April 24, 2015


Lightning Strikes officially hit its 200,000th page view today. 100,000 was reached in May 2013, so it looks like business has picked up a tad despite the slide of online poker in the United States -- with online poker being the reason so many poker blogs were created. Or else it just means that the soulless bots that patrol the interwebs have taken a liking to this place.

In any event, it is what it is. Poker is still great. I enjoy playing. Time to start on the next 100,000!

Playing at the 2009 WSOP

Heck of a Week -- An Illness and Some Bad News for Two Friends

Coming to you straight from the lightning36 bedroom ...
No, I am not going to post any risqué pictures  -- although I am sure there are a least a few women out in the cyberworlds disappointed to hear this. I have spent many hours in my bed this week just being sick. Flu shots have made me pretty resilient to most colds and the like the past several years, but whatever got to me this week got me good.

However, with a bunch of time spent at home and with the ability to reflect, I try to remember that life, overall, has treated me really well. I've made many friends over the years and share with them in their good times and their bad. Unfortunately, this was an awful week for two of my friends. My old college buddy JB, who was very close to his mother, lost her early in the week. She was in her 80's and not in great health. She recently had a stoke and only lasted for a few days afterward.

Fellow poker blogger and good guy Nick -- cokeboy99 -- unexpectedly lost his father yesterday. Nick's dad was not very old and not having major health issues, which certainly makes that loss extremely difficult for Nick and his family. You can click on the link above to get to Nick's blog. I'm sure he would appreciate any prayers, virtual hugs, good karma and kind thoughts.

My next post: something special. Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, April 20, 2015

I'm Calling Out Some Poker Bloggers and Las Vegas People ...

I was recently reminded that there are people we meet who can make our lives miserable ... or can remind us that it is nice to have friends. With that as an intro, there are a few people I would like to thank today:

cokeboy99 -- Nick used his Caesars comps to pay for my dinner at Harrah's Joliet last night. During my last trip to Las Vegas, I forgot to get a rodeo souvenir for one of my administrative assistants. Nick was still in Las Vegas, got it for me, and brought it back so that we could make an exchange at our local riverboat casino.

JT88Keys -- Jeff saw my tweet about my youngest daughter having her phone stolen at school and my search for an inexpensive replacement. Jeff had an extra iPhone and promptly sent it -- gratis! Thanks -- and I hope you or someone in your family got something fun for the Amazon gift card I sent. NOTE: Click on Jeff's link to read his new post about his trip to India!

Rob -- Rob was very generous with his MGM comps on my last trip to Las Vegas. He covered a couple of meals and saw that we were treated like royalty at MGM. Of course, he is The King!

Alysia Chang -- On my last trip to Las Vegas in December, I left a winter coat in my rental car when I returned it. There wasn't enough time for me to retrieve it before my plane took off, so AC drove to the car rental center, got the coat, packaged it up, and already had it on its way BEFORE I even got back to Illinois!

Pete P. Peters --  The Poker Barrister is generously letting me crash in his room when I get to Las Vegas on a late Saturday night next month, saving me from paying an outlandish cost at The Linq for a few hours of hotel time.

Of course, I haven't even included the numerous people who tweet, text, phone or e mail to keep in touch with me, u see ...

Next post (maybe): Poker at Harrah's Joliet with cokeboy99; home game poker

Have a great week!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Heading Up North

It seems like forever since I have written a post. Work continues to drain me of energy and life. Dealing with frustrating people is such a challenge and such a waste of time.

I finally broke my poker losing streak in a very unspectacular was. At my home game last Tuesday, I booked a solid $125/hour win rate. Ummm ... make that $1.25/hour for a spectacular $5 win! I would have booked a bigger win except for running into Aces once when I connected with top pair top kicker on the flop. However, I was at least getting cards to play and occasionally hitting the flop, so no complaints here.

My oldest daughter, who completed her Associate in Arts degree a little over a year ago, had her nice grant funded position disappear (no surprise to her). She decided to return to complete her bachelor's degree, leaving me with two kids at the University of Illinois next year and with my youngest daughter beginning college at the local community college. I will finally be out of the high school business! However, money has now become a true abstraction in my life -- seemingly conceptual and not real. Nobody ever told me that this might happen.

Today, however, I will focus my attention squarely on Harrah's Joliet, where I will head to this afternoon. Cokeboy99 will also be playing there today, although he is opting to play in a tournament before hitting up the cash games, which proved so profitable my last trip.

I'll also be visiting my mother and thundering36 after my poker session is over. Now that I am signed up for a driver's safety course to get my speeding ticket taken off my record, I have become paranoid about getting another ticket. I hope that wears off soon.

Looking ahead, I will fly into Las Vegas six weeks from today. Pete P Peters will be there my entire trip, so I could end up trying that snooty Cabernet he raves about at some point. I believe that Rob will be there that week also, so I am sure there will be some good stories forthcoming from those guys and/or some of our friends who are Las Vegas locals.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

I Must Have Pissed Off the Poker Gods

I should have known it was too good to last. My March heater came to an abrupt halt at the end of the month.

My final session in March was on the last day of the month -- my home game. I was looking to end March with a bang, but instead I took a loss. Meh.

My last post reviewed the big hand that I lost to end my poker session at the Par-A-Dice riverboat casino this past weekend. If you haven't read it yet, ...

Last night I again played at my local home game. How about these two beauties that turned my winning night into a losing one?

1) I was dealt pocket Aces. Unfortunately, my opponent hit a set of 9's on the flop. Can you say "felted?"

2) I was in the big blind. Everyone folded except the small blind, who called. I looked down to see 7-7 and decided to just smooth call and see if I could hit a set. The flop: 7-9-9. Yowsa! Opponent checked, I bet, and he called. The turn: a rag. Now, however, there were both straight and flush possibilities on the board. Could this hand get any better? Opponent checked, I raised and he called. I could already visualize his chips in my stack. The river: 10 of hearts, which completed the heart flush draw. This time the opponent put out all his redbirds. What? Did he have a hand like 10-9? I had a sick feeling that my full house got counterfeited, but I was not going to lay this one down. I called and my opponent flipped over pocket 10's! And he thought that he was ahead the entire time and that I was chasing a flush. Bye bye profit, hello loss.

The only good thing about the night (aside from Kung Pao Chicken, Mu Shu Beef, Empress Shrimp and fried rice) was that the player invited me to another local game tonight. Will the streak continue?

Special note to the poker gods: Please take pity upon your wretched servant, lightning36. He promises NOT to martingale at the end of the night no matter what.

Of course, there are not any of dem GOOD machines around anyway, u see.