Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Day at Ho-Chunk Wisconsin Dells

My niece was having a baby shower in Madison, WI, so early Saturday morning my wife and I began a journey north. Fortunately, I had already made plans for the day before we found out that the shower was also for spouses. Baby shower? Yeah -- guys have ton of fun at those!

After checking into our hotel, I dropped my wife off at the shower and proceeded further north about another 40 minutes to play poker at Ho-Chunk Wisconsin Dells. I had arranged to meet Lester, a regular at the forum, and another member, martin_gale, also planned to be there. Sure enough, they were both already playing when I got there. Lester and I exchanged small gifts. What I got for Lester:
It was meant to be used in case he took a bad beat and needed something to throw. I'm sure he was tempted when a clown at the table seemed proud of taking a bunch of Lester's chips after calling a raise with 6-2os ...

Lester had previously promised me a pound of gold after he won the Power Ball lottery. As luck would have it, he never did win the lottery, but gave me some gold nonetheless:
Play at first was brutal as it appeared that none of us were catching any cards at all. martin_gale needed to leave, and soon thereafter I was down a couple of hundred. However, he was replaced by a guy who was gifting chips to the table, and I was the biggest recipient. Soon my $200 deficit was a $200 profit. Guys like that are welcome at the table any anytime!

After our session, Lester and I grabbed some dinner as we solved the mysteries of gambling and life.

While Lester went to check out his VIP suite at Ho-Chunk, I decided to play some slots. Unfortunately, my girl Britney Spears was not generous to me, u see. Wonder Woman was however, but the slots in general seemed pretty tight, which is to expected at a tribal casino.

I did play a final session of poker by myself, but with few hands I could play, I dumped some of my profits from the first session. With a 40 minute drive back to Madison in the dark ahead of me, I didn't stay too long.

So ... I got in several hours of poker and met some classy guys who I had only known online. I have met a ton of nice people via poker and will continue to do so in the years ahead.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Brief Update: Stuck at The Stick, Bovada Success and Living in the State of Illinois Suckitude

Life continues to be just a little too busy and interesting in my corner of the world. So in case you were wondering ... yes, I'm still here, but just busier than heck. What's been going on?

Trip to Scottsdale
Mrs. lightning and I had a wonderful trip to Scottsdale earlier in January. We were able to visit with friends, have dinner with my brother and sister-in-law and attend a dinner for my niece for her 40th birthday. Family and friends stuff was great. The weather wasn't as warm as we would have liked, but at least the highs were in the upper 50's. On the day we left, the temperature in Phoenix was 68 degrees. We returned to Chicago, where the temperature was just above zero and the wind chill was about seven degrees below. Welcome back to Illinois!

My poker at Talking Stick Resort was largely a disaster. I had long periods of being card dead, had good hands crumble (K-K lost to A-5sooted on a board of 5-rag-5, A-A lost to 6-something when a six hit on the river -- you know how it goes) and unfortunately, for unknown reasons, let some player get to me and put me on tilt. The guy did nothing that was bad or inappropriate, but for some reason he was just getting on my nerves. When tilted, I made an amazingly bad hero call that I never in a million years should have made. The result was that even though I had a good session or two, some bad luck, poor play and tilt saw me lose a couple of buy ins plus. I just had this feeling most of the time while there that I was crashing a huge home game with people who were not my friends. Meh.

I decided to deposit a bit on Bovada to give myself some online playing options for times I was bored. I really like playing Omaha online. Much of my play has been $.25/.50 PLO with some $10./25 PLO thrown in. I have taken a $50 buy in and have now grown it to somewhere over $650. It looks like the Bovada operators or the poker gods forgot to throw the doomsday switch on me, at least so far. However, I am enjoying the ride and deciding how far to let the money grow before I make a withdrawal. At least this takes the sting out of the Talking Stick loss. Until the sessions in Scottsdale, I was on a nice win streak.

Living in Illinois
You may or may not know that the state of Illinois is having terrible financial problems. The state has underfunded its pension obligations for years, incurring huge debts and threatening the future of faithful employees like me. On top of that, the Democratic legislature and the Republican governor are butting heads and refusing to pass a state budget for 2015-2016. Wonderful. We are already almost seven complete months into our budget year and still have no state budget or money. There is talk that our friggin political dickheads might not pass the budget until November -- after 2016 elections are over ... AND OVER FOUR MONTHS AFTER THE 2015-2016 BUDGET YEAR IS OVER!

As a result of the lack of money and a budget, higher education is in huge trouble. One state university has said that it will not be able to meet payroll after March. Two major state universities are planning massive layoffs with other institutions to follow. My own school is using February for a period for employees to consider accepting newly offered retirement and separation incentives. After the end of the month, layoffs will start, with the number and severity of job losses depending on how many employees opt to take the separation incentives. And all of this is due to our legislators and governor playing a game of chicken with students, faculty, staff and administrators in higher education stuck right in the middle of the road between two stubborn out-of-control vehicles. It pained me to have to tell a member of my staff that it is possible that she might lose the job she has been faithfully working at since June 2015.

On the bright side, I have a trip to Las Vegas in the near future -- less than three weeks away. Perhaps even a "bad player" and "f**king donkey" (links to my poker "fan club") like me might be lucky enough to have some success there.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Time for a Little Vacation

Whew - made it through the worst stretch of the work year! I am pretty tired, burned out and crabby. However, there is always hope on the horizon.

Tomorrow night I am heading to the Phoenix area for a short vacation with my wife. I'll get to see my brother and sister-in-law, maybe see their kids, and definitely play some poker at Talking Stick Resort. If I have the time, maybe even a side trip to Wild Horse Pass.

I've had very good success at both casinos in the past. From where I will be staying (freerolling with friends -- lol), Talking Stick is less than a half hour away. Wild Horse Pass takes another 30-45 minutes. Talking Stick is a big poker room, but Wild Horse pass is a regular casino that always seems to have decent promos for recreational players like me.

Of course, no less of an expert than Tony Bigcharles declared that the games at Talking Stick are beatable. Does that even apply to a "bad player" (yes -- I am looking at you, Rob!) or an "effing donkey" (yes -- I am looking at you, TBC!) like me, u see?

I imagine that I will have time to write a post or two while in Arizona. Since it was recently below zero degrees with wind chill in my area, I am looking forward to some 60 degree weather.

Arizona, here I come!

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Holiday Activities / New Year Is Off To A Great Start Poker-Wise

So ... how has your holiday season been? Mine has been quite different so far.

After working through December 23, my school closed down, not to reopen until this coming Monday, January 4. There was great success on the last working day in December, though. I finally was able to hire a replacement for my office assistant who had been gone for pretty much five months. And the new worker who will start on Monday? The timing was perfect for her. She is a long-time dedicated worker to the school and was due to be furloughed starting Monday due to a lack of a budget in the state of Illinois. Instead of having to use her accumulated time off and hoping for the best, she is back working without missing a beat AND is getting a pay increase. She appears to be addicted to coffee and chocolate, so we should get along just fine.

After spending Christmas with my wife and kids, I headed to the Chicago suburbs on December 26 to drive my brother, thundering36, to the airport for his vacation to Las Vegas. While he was gone, I took care of my 90-year-old mother, which is quite a chore. The first day went fine. However, thundering36 booby trapped me by making sure our mom was taking a stool softener. Well, dammit, on Sunday it worked ... in spades. I will spare you the gory details, but believe me, I earned my merit badge that day! The rest of the time wasn't so bad. And ... I had not had a chance to spend some real time with my mom for quite a while, so the time was important to both of us.

After picking up thundering36 at the airport on December 30, I headed back downstate. However, there was no way I was not going to reward myself with a poker session at Harrah's Joliet. Much to my surprise, the poker room was completely filled. The wait to play was two hours, but I hung around and played some slots and burned time. I was tempted to just leave, but ... nah!

The session was not really memorable. I did end up winning a buy in and left in the wee hours for the drive home through the night.

After actually getting to spend some time with my wife on New Year's Eve, she told me she just assumed that I would be going to East Peoria to play poker on the holiday weekend. Hmmm ... just what I was thinking!

So ... I made my first poker trip of 2016 to Par-A-Dice casino yesterday. I got there about 2:00 in the afternoon and was seated immediately. Things went downhill from there.

Big Hand #1: I was dealt A-A in middle position (stack of about $270) and raised to $12. Got about three callers. The flop looked harmless and I threw out a 2/3 pot bet. The guy in seat ten went all in for an additional $100 or so. I was pretty new to the table and didn't have a good read on him. I called. He said "Uh oh -- I think I'm in trouble" AND FLIPPED OVER A SET OF THREES! I guess he was thinking his bottom set wasn't good. Crappo.

Big Hand #2: I was dealt "the dreaded pocket Kings." The flop had straight possibilities and included an eight and a nine. I was in the hand with an unfamiliar player and a guy who is a pretty scared player. I don't remember all the details, but I really should have just gotten out of the hand early. Anyway, the river was a nine, putting two eights and two nines on the board. My stack was dwindling, so I decided to rep the nine and pushed all in. The scared guy went in the tank. He said he had flopped a straight and was pissed at letting me catch up. He folded. Ding! The other guy called and waited for me to flip over my cards. He then showed pocket nines for the flopped set and rivered quads. Nice slowroll, asshole.

So Aces and Kings both were crushed and I was down in a buy-in in the first two hours of play. I got up from the table to head to sooth myself with some slots. I thought about just driving home -- that perhaps it just wasn't my day, then decided to give it one more chance after cooling off. I returned to the poker room and had a short wait before a new table opened up. And what a table it was. I only lost one big hand when I floated on a Jack-high flop with pocket tens. I then hit my set on the turn. Thank goodness there were straight possibilities on the board which tempered my opponent WHO FLOPPED A SET OF JACKS! I was lucky to only lose about $70 on the hand.

The rest of the session is a blur of patience, winning hands, a bluff or two, and solid poker. Since I was on a bit of a heater, some guys got paranoid and thought I was bluffing and called awfully light. Or they just sucked. Anyway, I headed out after about an eight-hour session with a nice profit.

Next poker stop: Talking Stick in Scottsdale, AZ. My wife and I are heading there for a brief vacation in less than two weeks. I have done well at Talking Stick before and hope to continue the trend of the past week into the middle of January.

Hey thundering36 -- do you want to do a guest post with your Las Vegas trip report?


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Texting with the Wifey

Yesterday my wife was driving home from northern Wisconsin, where she was visiting her mother. The following is a typical texting exchange between us. Married readers -- is this your life, too?

Wife: "I was just thinking that my mom has been sick all her life and never really strong. And that I must be much stronger than she was at this age. However, it just occurred to me that she was my age when they made the move to Wisconsin to start running a resort. That took a tremendous amount of strength. It was a very physical thing. So now I am wondering if this is the way I could end up."

Me: "So I should look for a young, healthy replacement?"

Wife: "That doesn't matter. She or I would outlive you, sh**head."

Me: "But at least I would die with a smile on my face."

I guess that is sort of what 27+ years of marriage really looks like ...

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Timing is Everything!

Yesterday or the day before I heard that my boss had won a radio contest and received two free tickets to last night's Notre Dame at the University of Illinois basketball game. Sweet, I thought. The old Assembly Hall, recently renamed the State Farm Center, would be hosting its first game since being remodeled. Additionally, the basketball court, which recently was named for former Illinois coach Lou Henson, was to be dedicated that night. I thought about scrounging around outside the arena for a ticket if I would be in the mood to go.

It turned out that my boss was unable to go and gave the tickets to my school's athletic director. A short time later, I found out that he was unable to go. Yowsa! I was told the the tickets were supposed to be good and even allowed admittance into a special club at the arena. After  my wife declined to go -- not unexpected -- my son jumped on board. It sounded even better when it looked like the tickets included complementary in-seat food service. Double Yowsa!

I picked up my son and headed to the game about an hour before tip off. Although there was some uncertainty with getting seated since the indoor arena configuration had been changed, we were seated in the nice loge seats that would regularly be occupied by people who donated a decent amount of money, paid the personal seat license fee, etc.
Waiting at the table were a free program, a box of popcorn and a tub of water and soft drinks. The chairs were not arena chairs but regular chairs that might be around an office conference table. Since many of the choice seats were not filled, we essentially shared a private waiter with three other people. We could spread out all our stuff on the nice long table. We had a small monitor on the table right in front of us.Needless to say, we were two happy guys.
The first half of the game was excellent. Illinois was playing well and in the lead. After the court dedication ceremony, we went to the private club for a quick drink, then headed back to the game. Unfortunately, Illinois could not keep up with Notre Dame and lost by five points.

My son was especially thrilled to not be doing the usual "poor college student routine." He was amazed at how polite everyone was.
Right place, right time. Sometimes it helps when Lady Luck decides to find favor with you!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Kick Me in the Jimmy: A Crappy Day of Poker

Sometimes a bad day can come out of nowhere. Take this past Friday, for instance. I used to love shopping on Black Friday even before the day was called that. However, as more and more people started shopping on that day and lines became ridiculously long, I figured that my best strategy was to stay away from stores. On Friday morning I instead took my car to the shop to have my tires rotated and oil changed. I stopped to pick up some donuts for the family on the way home, then prepared for what I thought would be a great day: poker at the boat! I planned to log in some afternoon hours before being joined for the evening by cokeboy99 (Nick). It seemed like a great day was in order ...

I got to the Par-A-Dice Casino in the early afternoon, only to find that they had a shortage of dealers working. There was only one table going and a few guys hanging out in the room waiting to play. I had called in to get my name on the list but didn't know exactly where on the list I was. Apparently some guys had been waiting quite some time to play. However, a new table was opened relatively soon after I got there, and I selected my seat at the table. Before the game started, I was informed that I wasn't in the first ten people on the list. I grabbed my stuff and waited while they made repeated calls for the ten people to start the table. Only about five or six appeared to be seated. After making a final call -- and a final final call, which started to piss me off, I was seated. Unfortunately, even with the rough started, things got worse.

I was in el foldo mode, not even getting cards that could justify limping in. I finally got to play a few hands and bled chips as the flops didn't connect for me. Then the first big hand of the session came when I called a small raise with K-Q os. I was the only caller. The flop: A-10-J. Bingo! I led out for $15 and my opponent called. There were two cards to a spade flush so I was hoping that the turn would give me a nice low red card. Nope. The turn was a Jack, pairing the board. With no re-raise of my initial bet, I thought I was safe. Or, perhaps my opponent hit a Jack and I could stack him. I bet $30 on the turn and was re-raised another $30.Having less than $100 behind at that point, I pushed and was called. The opponent turned over A-J to show that he hit a full house on the turn. Stacked early on. Yuck. I don't do that very often.

Later on, I called a raise with A-Jos. The flop was Q-10-rag. Someone bet $8 and received several calls. I saw my implied odds go through the roof, so I called the bet with my gutshot. The dealer then turned over a King. Bingo again! But immediately he saw that he skipped over one guy still in the hand. He announced that the King would be put back in the deck. Dang! The new turn didn't help me and I tried to keep calm as I saw this nice pot skip out of my hands due to a dealer screw up. It was his only misstep of his down.

At that point I felt like the karmic forces were not with me. However, with Nick yet to arrive, the evening not having started yet, and with a long waiting list due to the lack of dealers, I stayed in the game. Things got worse.

I continued to get few playable hands and decided to call a small raise with a sentimental hand, K-9. The flop was Kd, 9d, Jd. There were a few of us in the pot, including one guy who appeared to be the crappiest player at the table. After one player checked, he pushed all in with a stack of reds. Against anyone else at the table I would have folded, but I was guessing that I was way ahead of this guy. I called. The other two players folded. The guy flipped over two small diamonds for a flopped flush. Neither the turn or river produced one of my four outs, and I shipped $100 to the opponent. Nick got to the poker room and  walked past the table right as I lost a stack. I gave him a "poker sucks" look and got prepared for my final loss of the session.

Final hand -- I raised with A-J in middle position. Crappy player was the only caller. The flop was A-J-K with two cards to a flush. I raised and crappy player re-raised. Once again, I was counting on the fact that this guy appeared to suck from what I had seen previously. I shoved all in and he called. He had, as you might guess, Q-10. Once again, no "one time" on the turn or river. It was time for me to cry uncle and call it a day. I chatted with Nick for a bit as he was still waiting to get seated, then decided to just play some slots during a special slot promotion time before I went home.

Later on, I was surprised to see Nick at a blackjack table. It turned out to be a crappy evening for him. I hope he posts about the stellar play my opponent ran after I left the table.

Nick and I got some dinner at a local Chili's restaurant. While there, I put out the following tweet: "@nickg_96 and I got our nuts crunched at poker tonight. Good thing we found an elderly lady. We told her she was ugly and we hoped she dies." Well, at least we were able to see some humor in the crappy night.

So, in retrospect, does it seem like I played way too recklessly? In the three hands that did me in, I didn't follow the simple idea that most players in $1/2 NL games play pretty straight forward games. Each time I was raised and could have let the hand go. I am apt to think the first hand was a mistake, but I am not sure about the last two since I had little respect for the player.

I know that recently Rob has been in quite a poker funk. I had not had any nasty poker stuff happen to me for quite some time and was perhaps feeling a little impervious to that. Amazing how poker can humble you from out of the blue. Friggin' game ...

Note: If you don't know where the phrase "kick me in the jimmy" came from:

And if -- and don't even tell me that this is possible -- you don't know who Beavis and Butt-head are: