Thursday, August 25, 2016

Off to Las Vegas in Less Than 24 Hours

After a truly terrible summer, I am happy to see that the new school year has started and the scent of promise and hope is in the air. Better yet, it is time for another trip to Las Vegas. Things in my life were in pretty good shape when I last visited in May. I hope this trip is the new beginning I have been needing.

Since Caesars Entertainment Corporation has pretty much left me out in the cold, I have been forced to go with the hotels and companies that still offer good deals or haven't given up on me.

I'll be getting into Las Vegas on Friday and stay two nights at Hooters. On Sunday night, my wife will join me for three nights. We'll be staying at the Gold Coast.

As with most of my trips, I have few solid plans. I might meet up with Vegas DWP and fling some cards on The Strip or maybe even Red Rock. Since Pete P. Peters rescheduled his Las Vegas trip, I was the recipient of his ticket to see Journey, the Doobie Brothers and Dave Mason on Saturday night at Mandalay Bay. Sounds like a winner to me!

Unfortunately, my private Uber driver will not be in town, forcing me to use Lyft, Uber, taxis or shuttles. One would think that she would at least arrange a private limo for me, but ...

If Tony Bigcharles is still in town, I imagine he'll blow up my phone with calls and messages. Note to Tony: Too bad you won't get off your butt and work on your bans. Most of the places I play poker are places you can't or won't go.

The Mirage has been my honey hole lately. Bally's and MGM still treat me pretty well. I even ventured to Aria last trip. I might check out the new Encore/Wynn poker room as well.

It is time for the poker gods to favor the guy from central Illinois. 

More to come ... from Las Vegas!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Paul McCartney Concert Followup and Poker Session with Iron Mike Sharpe

Last weekend ended up a little more fun than I anticipated. Mrs. lightning and I got into St Louis mid-afternoon, checked into our hotel room, and took a nap before heading to Busch Stadium for the Paul McCartney concert. The ride to the stadium was quick and without incident, and soon we were parked and walking toward the venue. The line to get in was long but moved pretty quickly.

The concession prices at Busch Stadium were higher than those of U.S. Cellular Field and Wrigley Field, where I had just recently seen games. The best deal food-wise was a huge BBQ brisket sammich with fresh potato chips and coleslaw for $14. Pretzels were over $9, a 20 oz. soda was $6, crappy Busch products were almost $10 and even special Cardinal Spring Water was $6. Sheesh.
The concert was due to start at 8:00 p.m. We were warned that it might start on time and to be ready. It was actually almost 8:30 before Paul McCartney took the stage, opening with A Hard Day's Night. Check out this link for a complete setlist for the concert.
Our review? Unfortunately, we thought the first 2/3 of the concert had an uneven pace of songs from different eras and was kind of boring. People were sitting on their hands unless a Beatles song or a solo or Wings  monster was sung. Frankly, I had little interest in more recent McCartney tunes, and he littered the beginning of the concert with them. I was not enamored with some of his Beatles selections, like Can't Buy Me Love, We Can Work It Out, You Won't See Me, Love Me Do, Lady Madonna, Elinor Rigby and Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite. However, the last 1/3 was dynamite, including songs like Back in the U.S.S.R., Live and Let Die and Birthday. I was glad I got to see McCartney in concert, but I was not blown away as I was expecting.

The next morning we packed up and began to head for home. It was a dreary, rainy day. However, I had been hoping to get in a poker session at Ameristar Casino in St. Charles, Missouri, and possibly meet up with Iron Mike Sharpe there.
No, he was not the professional wrestler who was mainly a jobber

From some Roughing the Punter posts:

lightning36: Played some $1/3 NL with Iron Mike Sharpe today. Told him that Lester gave me gold to acquire TBC Inner Circle membership. He stiffed me.

Iron Mike Sharpe: Lightning had a good session. Especially b/c I bluffed a good amount of chips to him on a 6-6-3 flop, 2 turn. He had raised in early position and bet flop, and bet small on turn (like $30 bet into a $100+ pot). I had 3-4 and raised to $125 and he shipped with presumably AA or KK. I had to muck.

My session was a grind. I got there and there was $2-5 running from last night. But it broke 20 min after I sat down and I was down $120.

$1-3 session started slow, then I started to get chips and ended up with strong second best hands and the bluff hand from above.

I was down $580 at one point. Went back to work and ended up +$50 after 8.5 hours for the $1/3 session so only down $70 total on the day. I'll take it. Thurs - Sat, I won $1500 combined for those three days.

I can't be a member of the TBC Inner Circle until TBC lifts my Twitter ban u see. Will one of my friends get TBC to lift my ban for me?

lightning36:  Nice meeting you and playing with you today. I really wasn't planning on going, but as my wife and I got to the 270/70 exchange, I decided to give it a try. We were in no hurry to get home, and my wife is exceptional in patiently reading while I play on trips.

That guy to my right who kept button straddling $10? I was just hoping for a hand but wasn't getting crap early on aside from flopping a set the first orbit.

And yes -- the hand you bluffed -- I had KK. I was hoping to induce some action, but was surprised at your raise. I figured that you wouldn't be raising the turn if you had a 6 or the straight. Glad I read it right.

I took some chances with decent hands and good draws and things worked out. I left up $400. Right before I left you won some big pots and looked like you were getting out of the hole.

I'll ask TBC about the Twitter ban. My usual charge for TBC access is a purple chip, but having met you, I might give you a discount.

Iron Mike Sharpe: I completely forgot to use the "this game's so easy even lightning36 is winning" line.

Lester: One gram of AU was all that it cost to jump the rope line into TBC inner circle status:

Tony Bigcharles: how did u stiff lightning? Only i give out inner circle membership and i only give it to those i trust.

Yes, good times indeed! Anyone else interested in procuring TBC Inner Circle membership can contact me for current rates and procedures.

Meanwhile, my next trip to Las Vegas is now less than one week away. I'll write at least one more post prior to the trip.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Paul McCartney Tonight!

After an extremely busy week at work, it is time to kick back a bit. Mrs. lightning and I are going to Saint Louis to see Paul McCartney in concert tonight.

Way back when, I was a boy when the Beatles took the world by storm. The first 45 I ever bought (apologies to the CD generation) was Yesterday. I remember threatening to run away from home when my mother wouldn't let me buy Nowhere Man. I bought a ton of Beatles albums as I was growing up and am still amazed at the magic of their music.

Time-wise, it doesn't look like I'll be able to play any poker on the trip. I was hoping to perhaps see if Iron Mike Sharpe was available to fling a few cards. It would be nice to meet him and, in effect, have him cover the cost of the concert tickets. Mwahaha!

Next week is generally one of the two most challenging work weeks of the year. Once I get to next Friday, things will get much easier. I hate to even mention how many beginnings to the school year I have worked. I went off to college when I was 18 and have never left the higher education environment. That is a lot of years!

In other news, my next Las Vegas trip is now less than two weeks away. I'll be heading out there on Friday, August 26. I'll have a couple of days by myself, and then Mrs. lightning, who will be in Arizona visiting a friend, will fly in to join me for a few days.

Catch you on the flip side.

Monday, July 25, 2016

How Much Should You Tip on a Big Bad Beat Jackpot?

Just to state the obvious right up front, I did not win any money from a bad beat jackpot. However, it is one of those things that recreational poker players dream about. If only ...

In a recent post, blogger Pete P. Peters noted a nice score he won on video poker and speculated as to an appropriate tip for the attendant who took care of the hand-paid jackpot. It got me wondering about a topic that surfaces from time to time: how much should a person tip on a bad beat jackpot? I am not so much concerned about smaller jackpots, but what about a big one -- a REALLY big one?

The two poker rooms closest to me, Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria, IL and Harrah's Joliet have sizable bad beat jackpots. The loser of the bad beat hand would currently receive almost $50,000 at Par-A-Dice and over $300,000 at Harrah's Joliet. Yowsa!

So, imagine that you the loser in the bad beat jackpot hand. You are stoked. The place is going crazy. And then you think, "how much should I tip the dealer?"

I play mostly $1/2 NL Hold 'em, and at most places, the average customer tokes the dealer $1 on a "regular" pot. If the pot is pretty big in size, many players will tip more than $1. But what do you do when you win a huge jackpot?

Keep in mind that the government is going to gobble up a significant portion for most people. Also, it would not be unusual for many poker players to have a modest positive ROI or perhaps a negative ROI. The jackpot would help you catch up on months or years of beats.

I have invited a few poker dealer friends to post their thoughts, but ... what would you do?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Update from Somewhere South of Chicago

Just a quick life update since I have not been posting with any regularity lately.

I have been feeling pretty good the past week after having some weeks where I felt like total crap. I am sure that a decent amount of it was due to mourning the loss of my mother and some of the associated difficulties surrounding that. The next part will be challenging as I deal with the aftermath of the passing. I hope to consult with a specialist attorney this next week to make some progress in terms of my mother's estate. I don't want to go into any detail here, but some things in my future are likely to be a real pain in the butt.

A hopeful thing family-wise is that my wife has a job interview tomorrow. We have great hopes that she will be offered the position. The job would likely not be as ideal (except for the supervisor) as the last one, but she would possibly receive a 20-25% bump in pay, which certainly would make me happy!

I have this coming week off before work hits its extremely busy time and my life becomes challenging. thundering36 and I will be going to two White Sox-Cubs games this week, one at The Cell and one at Wrigley Field. The trip might also include an overnight stay at Harrah's Joliet.

My 2016 poker success seems to continue to go up and down. My last session I played some $1/2 Pot Limit Omaha. It was amazing how much more I felt the need to concentrate on the play. However, I learned a lot and will be better equipped to play it the next time. I dumped a little in Omaha and a little in $1/2 NL Hold 'em. I was embarrassed to need some slot luck to mitigate my losses.

My next Las Vegas trip is set for August 26-31. I plan to take my wife with this trip (a rare occurrence), but if she gets the teaching job she is interviewing for, I will have to go solo (unless thundering36 begs to go along)!

In the meantime, I will continue to keep up on social media sites and get ready for the work dog days of August.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

28 Years Ago Today ...

... I was fortunate enough to get married to a woman who learned to put up with all my bullshit over the years. But what was that time really like?

Our wedding was scheduled for a Saturday at noon. We were both living in Springfield, IL at the time, with most of my family living in west suburban Chicago and most of my wife's family living in northern Wisconsin. Everything seemed to be planned out pretty well. My big night was the Thursday before -- my bachelor party.

I got together with a group of my friends and we hit the bars. There was a late night stop at Deja Vu, the local strip joint that at least promised you a chance of getting out and back home alive. I knew I was pretty drunk when one one the dancers came up to me and asked me for money ... and I actually got out my wallet. As I opened it up she was saying "Yeah - there's a ten. That good." The strippers did their usual bachelor party routine -- got me up on stage, had me take my shirt off, and then danced around me and rubbed up against me. I still have a polaroid picture somewhere. It ended up being a really fun night. And then there was Friday.

Oh my goodness! I had never felt so sick in my life. My family was coming into town for the rehearsal dinner and I felt totally like crap. I couldn't help with much of anything. The only thing I had to eat the entire day was a chicken leg. To make matters worse, my tux didn't fit properly and I had to have it altered. It would be ready for me -- when the store opened up the next morning at 10:00 a.m.! So I had to hope that my pants fit correctly and was picking them up two hours before the wedding. Sheesh!

On Saturday morning, I was pretty friggin' nervous, as you might guess. I decided to go to the tux rental store at 9:15 a.m. just to keep my anxiety level down. Around 9:30, a guy came to work at the shop. He said "I had a feeling you'd be waiting for me, so I came in early." Dang -- what a life saver. I got my pants and headed back to my house. My younger brother, Dan, was in stitches because I was so nervous. I was pacing back and forth, which surprised him because he always saw me as being calm in almost any circumstances.

Once we got to the church, two of my friends -- college students at the two-year school I worked at -- told me that there was a car that was running right outside the church in case I wanted to make a last-minute dash for freedom. It was tempting!

The wedding ceremony, which was a Catholic mass, took just over an hour, as I recall. There is one part of the ceremony where the bride goes in front of a statue of the Blessed Virgin, kneels and prays for guidance in being a good wife. She seemed to be there forever. Of course, my friends all kidded me afterward, saying that she needed the extra time since I was such a dick!

We had a reception for about 300 people. There were lots of relatives and many of the students that I worked with on a daily basis. Still not feeling right, I had nothing to eat at my own wedding reception. The guests all got a great bonus because there was a mistake in the food order. Instead of having fried chicken and beef for 300 people, we had fried chicken for 300 people and roast beef for 300 people. Everyone at the reception was able to take home a big plate of food if they wanted.

After the reception, there was the tricky matter of getting to our hotel for the wedding night. One of my friends was determined to mess with us that night, so I had reservations made at several hotels in town, then canceled all but one right after the reception. I borrowed my Dad's car so that my friends couldn't find me by looking for my car. I thought I had all my bases covered. We checked into the Ramada Renaissance Hotel at had a room reserved on one of the upper floors -- the nice limited access section. We opened the door of our room, and within 30 seconds our phone was already ringing. Shit! The hotel operator told us that we had a message from a Mr. E. E. Springs. My bride said "What?" I replied "That is Sharp (my friend) trying to be funny. As in the noise of the bed springs during sex is ee ... ee ... ee."

We told hotel security that we were not accepting guests under any circumstances and that they should feel free to kick out people who came looking for us downstairs. Sharp, who was a relatively new attorney, was paranoid about being involved in "moral turpitude," and paraded the group out of the building. From our 19th floor room we could see our disappointed friends heading back to their cars!

We ordered room service, as I was finally able to eat. In about 48 hours all that I had to eat was that solitary chicken leg, so I was starving, as you might expect.

So, fast forward 28 years, three kids, lots of great memories and our share of difficult and challenging times. That's where we are today. We went out for breakfast and are going out to a popular steak house for dinner tonight. Hopefully, our health and good times will continue over the next several years. As I did 28 years ago, I consider myself a pretty lucky guy.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Finally ... I Am Back

I can't believe that it has been almost three weeks since my last post. At that time, my family was waiting for my mother to pass. Unbelievably, after being admitted to the hospice inpatient center and essentially being ready to die, my mother lived for a week without food and water. It was a very difficult time for my family, as you might understand. Thankfully, she finally passed away on Thursday, June 16. My wife and I were hoping that she would not pass on the 17th, which is my son's birthday.

I came back home on Friday the 17th, but was too physically and emotionally drained for us to go out for my son's birthday that night. Instead, we went out Saturday night for an all you can eat Korean BBQ dinner. This was the selection by my son, a foodie who greatly enjoyed the night.

My mom's visitation was Monday, June 19 late afternoon and evening, and her funeral and burial was the next morning/afternoon. I was fortunate to have several of my close friends from work come up for one or the other, and was able to reconnect with many of my cousins, aunts, uncles and other relatives I had not seen for ages. It is amazing how time flies.

I also got in several poker sessions at Harrah's Joliet and Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria over the past two weeks, and showed a nice profit for them. I was back at work for one week, which was quite a struggle. I feel like I have been living in a fog the past week. I have made dumb mistakes like forgetting to sign a check and adding up two numbers wrong. I hope I am out of the fog or at least almost there.

I have a number of things hanging over my head, and was hoping to get away next week. I just don't know if the time is right yet. I already cancelled a trip to Las Vegas from last month and also a trip that I was taking to New Orleans with my wife. She is vacationing in Arizona right now, so I do have some leeway in what to do. I planned to do some things with my kids, but right now I just seem to be living in a big bubble of indecision.

Such has been my life the past three weeks and extending to six weeks. You know it has been bad when a flooded basement can't crack the top two list of bad things that have recently happened to you.

And once again, a huge THANK YOU for my friends who connected with me in one way or another during the previous difficult three weeks. I feel fortunate to have so many friends I have met in person and/or virtually due to poker and my blog. I heard from a lot of my current friends and also many whom I do not interact with much anymore. I am also fortunate to have a great job and to work with many wonderful people. All this made the recent downswing in my life much easier to handle.

So ... it is time to turn the corner and start resuming some semblance of my regular life. The journey continues, although with a little less enthusiasm, at least for now.