Sunday, November 16, 2014

18 Years and Counting

It was almost 19 years ago. My wife and I had two children, which seemed to be about right at the time. Mrs. lightning, who at one time years ago expressed a desire to have about a dozen children, had been bringing up the subject of a third child. Being the money manager of the family, I continually said no. After all, two children were enough, right? But I had been thinking ...

Skipping all the lurid details, soon Mrs. lightning was pregnant again. Due to some medical issues, her pregnancy was watched very carefully by a specialist. After many trips to the doctor and many ultrasounds, child number three was born -- 18 years ago yesterday.

I have referenced my youngest child, Erin, several times in this blog. Instead of going with her mother to Canada to celebrate her graduation from fifth grade, Erin went to Las Vegas with her dad.
When I decided to take a trip to the famous Buddy Holly/Ritchie Valens/Big Bopper plane crash site, Erin was my traveling companion. I have accompanied her to a Comic Con convention and several anime conventions (next one coming up in December).

Erin has always been my only child to actually listen to my Las Vegas and gambling stories, so it was only fitting that on the day she first became legal to do any gambling, she got some instant lottery tickets, courtesy of her dad. And, wouldn't you know it, the first ticket she scratched was a $5 ticket and ... a $10 winner!


So nice to know that degenerate gambling is likely to continue in the family long after I am in the ground.

Happy birthday, Erin!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Sunday update

1) Played a long session of $1/2 NL Hold em at Par-A-Dice Casino yesterday. I was joined by Cokeboy99 for about the last half of the session. Early on, a reg named Raven came in. Raven had been known for his dreadlocks, but recently had his hair cut short. It was quiet the item of discussion. I know Raven is a dangerous player. I felted him once before when I slow played a set, and he had gotten the better of me on at least one occasion. He bought in short and I felted him when he pushed  after a flop of 10-Q-10. I called with K-K. I never saw what Raven had, but he immediately left and did not return by the time I left -- around 11:30 p.m.

I took advantage of my opportunities when they came and made a nice profit for the night. Shortly after I left, Cokeboy messaged me that he had doubled up. I hope the night ended well for him.

2) My Las Vegas trip arrangements are mostly finalized. My flight arrives in Las Vegas late on the morning of Thursday, December 4. I return back home on Wednesday, December 10. I was disappointed to find that I could only get two comped room nights this trip. However, I will be flying in and out of my local airport, saving long term parking charges at Midway Airport in Chicago and the cost of gas for the round trip to Chicago.

Some potential plans for the trip include the annual poker bloggers gathering for mixed games Friday night, the blogger tournament late Saturday morning at Aria, hopefully a freeroll tournament on Sunday, possibly a dinner hosted by Alicia Chang and/or the First Annual lightning36 Chicken Fried Steak night with online and local friends Monday and/or Tuesday nights. Also, Cokeboy, who will be in Las Vegas much of the same week I am there,  has already mentioned more than once his desire to go to In-N-Out Burger for his first time, so at least one trip there is definitely in order.

I still need have yet to make a hotel reservation for my last night. I am thinking that I might go off strip and stay at The Orleans for the first time.

3) The cold weather has already started and will come to the Midwest in full force this coming week. My wife has been on vacation in Phoenix and arrives home tonight. She will suffer!

4) The past six weeks of work have been challenging due to some employee disciplinary issues. I make a good salary for what I do, but trust me that I earned every single penny recently.

Life has been extremely busy in my little corner of the world. I hope things are going well in yours.

Friday, October 31, 2014

BBQ Dinner by the Pool with TBC: The Alysia Chang Gathering

Alysia Chang recently hosted a barbecue for a few bloggers with some notoriety (Tony Bigcharles and Rob of Rob's Vegas and Poker Blog) and international friend, Koala. Alysia had written some comments for my blog, but instead I made a post of them as a public service.
I just could NOT do the whole BBQ dinner by the pool with TBC in 140 characters. So my take on it, apart from me going out to the Korean supermarket on Spring Mountain road and spending a small fortune on meat and then using a marinate/dry rub on the ribs and making a huge batch of garlic/parmesan mashed potatoes and then picking up a chicken fried steak specifically for Hero is this: I hate the MGM and I gave Rob a shot at stealing a pot from me so now we're even. Oh wait, this was about TBC. Anyhow, I did not know until LATE that Vince would not be joining us so the amount of food I prepared was actually too much (I still had an entire bowl of mashed potatoes in my fridge that I didn't bring out). I told Koala to ride the monorail to my place because Hooters is across the street from the MGM monorail station and Rob was going to drive himself. I gave everyone's name to the guard at the gate and heated things up around 4:30 (people were going to arrive at 5).
We talked about Tony's bans. He felt it unfair that just because Caesars/MGM/whoever bought a series of properties that he hadn't done anything wrong at except for one or two, his ban was unjust. He was framed by women. Poker room managers hated him. He didn't hurt anyone by throwing that glass. I mentioned that NONE of us sitting at the table had ever been banned from a casino and that it was really hard to get banned. He insisted that it was easy. I'm sorry but I just don't have that level of talent in me. Looking in machines for loose change and conducting financial transactions with hookers are not in my array of activities. Then he mentioned that because he now has money, he doesn't really have anger issues. Then we discussed "white privilege" which was very funny to me. Apparently a whole slew of things set Tony off. People watching him on machines. People talking about their new cars. People showing off. People asking him for money. Fascinating.
Tony is not a bad guy. I think he's one of those people who are always nervous if there is what they perceive to be awkward silence. Rob could not get a word in edgewise. Nor could Koala with his vocal cords. True to what I suspect is his mental state, he doesn't want something like reality to interfere with his perception of reality. To believe that he could rent at a luxury condo, get a driver's license, make $3000 per month steadily...these are things that he currently thinks he can do or at least until confronted with the reality of background checks, taking a driver's test and dealing with VBJ variance. Then the meltdowns will come.
We established certain facts with TBC because he kept talking about getting his driver's license. "Tony," I gently said, "when people give you good advice, you don't follow it." Tony replied, "Well I tend to do my own thing?" I was tempted to ask "how's that working out for you?" But instead let him know that "you know that in driving, you don't really get to do your own thing. Do you really believe you can follow directions?" He insisted that if he had a "patient instructor", he could learn. Honestly if the late Mother Teresa was teaching Tony to drive, she'd end up giving up on him. Learning depends as much if not more on the student's ability to learn than the teacher's ability to teach. We will see if any of this comes to fruition. We finished up dinner, with everyone pretty full and went for a tour of the grounds.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Even a Blind Squirrel, Volume 44

I felt like playing in an online tournament and knew that Cardschat was having one on Carbon Poker tonight. I found a credit card that worked for a deposit and put a minimal amount on the site.

When the tournament began, I was also playing a little PLO. The poker gods gifted me a few cards in the cash game, leading me to think that maybe tonight might be my night. A few hours later ...

Yeah, it was only a small tournament (although Cardschat tournaments have some really tough players), but it was possibly more motivation for me to get back to playing tournament poker. Once Black Friday hit and online play dropped off, I began to play more brick and mortar cash games and moved away from the grind of tournaments.

Or am I really just fooling myself?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Spectre of the Big C Rears Its Ugly Head

Long-time readers of this blog might remember that 4 1/2 years ago my son, Rick, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Thankfully, the cancer was completely removed and my son was fortunate to have recovered quite well. Unfortunately, he just had a cancer scare, which has consumed much of the past two weeks of family life.

I will never be able to understand what it is like to have cancer at such an early (15) age and the lasting effects that will have on one's psyche. Symptoms led my son to believe that cancer had returned and might have spread to his brain. Thankfully, we have an excellent doctor in town, and an influential friend was able to get a CT scan and an MRI scheduled immediately for my son. The results were favorable, and Rick and I were able to shoot up to the Mayo Clinic for an appointment with his specialist this morning.

I am happy to report that Rick remains cancer free. The trip home began the transition back to regular life.

So ... after almost 1,000 miles in the car in the past 27 hours, I think I will sleep well tonight.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Las Vegas from a Local's Perspective: Guest Post by Alysia Chang

Terribly honored to be offered a chance to guest blog. Thanks Lightning!  I live in Vegas and I don't write a blog about it.  People have asked me about it and I've somehow avoided telling them the truth and shattering their image of Sin City.  I love Vegas for reasons that go beyond the naked women, debauchery and gambling.  I know, I know.  It's almost as if Vegas has this mystique that its tourist board has promoted over the years and if I actually tell them about the adorable little indie theater that shows first run Bollywood movies and the cheap taco places on the west side, I'm somehow undermining this carefully crafted façade of giant vodka spiked Icee drinks in mini plastic Eiffel Tower containers and all you can eat buffets. 
I think I avoided blogging about Vegas because well, I don't want to share the city that I have grown to adore.  Thank goodness Lightning doesn't have a bunch of followers or else this place would be overrun by folks wanting to enjoy the ballet, hike through the Valley of Fire and look at all the art around the city as well as being intrigued by the architecture and history.  Let's not even talk about Vegas being right next to the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. 
Ooops.  Too late.  Okay so the cat is out of the bag.  The secret is being a Vegas local or at least taking advantage of your friends who are locals.  This is by no means a full list but it's MY list. 
*    You will need a locals I.D. for this but it's sooooooo worth it.  We're talking FREE shows.  Up to like six tickets.  No, you cannot get into Celine or any of the Cirque Du Soleil shows but the level of sheer talent in Vegas is set very high so that even the crappy shows are still good.  You may have to pony up the two drink minimum but you were going to blow that money on the Big 6 wheel anyway.
*  Locals get a couple of bucks off but it's really a cool place to visit.  Right now they have BUTTERFLIES in an enclosed habitat.  You should totally bring that nephew of yours that's freaked out by butterflies and take some great video to show at his wedding down the line.  The Nevada National History Museum is located on site as well.  And they have activities for little kids like painting flower pots and cracking geodes.  Love this place!
* The Blood Mary to end all Bloody Marys is at Porchlight Grille on WEST Desert Inn Road.  It is a SICK mofo of a monstrosity. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.  And he sucks down a 25 oz. Ketel One Bloody Mary that has a LOBSTER TAIL, TRI TIP STEAK, SHRIMP, a Slim Jim, a bunch of veggies, cheese stuffed pepperoni and BACON.  

* The Regal 18 at Village Square shows foreign films.  If you need to get your Bollywood dancing shoes on, this is the place.  There is an awesome Thai restaurant (Archi's), a Japanese/Hawaiian sushi joint (808 Tapas) and a very unusual (but delish) burger place (Bachi's Burgers) that serves up some killer pork belly sandwiches.  And a Jollibee which is that bad ass Fillipino fried chicken franchise that is (IMHO) cheaper and as good as anything you'll get on the Strip.  I mean for what the Brooklyn Bowl at the Linq charges, you can totally feed your family and neighbors.

* I may be running long here but I still think the locals deal on the monorail which goes from the SLS to MGM Grand along the Strip for a buck is one of the best deals.  Non-locals pay $5 each way.  You don't mess with parking, you can get completely sh*tfaced and they're air-conditioned and run 20 hours a day.  Plus, you get to meet some interesting folks along the way.  Millie and Walter from Omaha who haven't been to Vegas in 15 years.  The hot chicks going to Hakkasan.  And all those German families (the Germans seem to really dig the monorail).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Really -- no sets?

I played a marathon poker session last Saturday at the nearest poker room -- the Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria, IL. I have played there enough to recognize some of the locals, but I generally keep to myself when there unless meeting up with Cokeboy99.

I was lured to the casino that day due to a slot promotion that I received (11x points from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.). Knowing that there are a couple of Willie Wonka slots there, how could I refuse? Plus, my wife had two things going on that day and wouldn't be around, thus giving me even more reason to go.

Fellow blogger Pete P. Peters loves to post pictures of his casino ventures, usually including the shot of his filet and/or cabernet from the fine steakhouse at whichever casino he is visiting. Well, I generally do not eat dinner when I play poker in East Peoria. I load up on a meal before I play, then don't eat until I am ready to head home. But, in the Triple P tradition, I hereby post pictures of my exquisite meal before driving to East Peoria:

Perhaps I should have just eaten some of the curry chicken I got my daughter at the local Chinese restaurant?

The poker that night was, to say the least, brutal. I caught some cards at the beginning (which included seeing the dreaded pocket kings and queens get pwned on the flop) and was able to chip up on a table that had players with weaknesses just ready to be exploited. Then ... nothing. I was card dead for hours. My cards were so bad that I couldn't even limp into any pots if I had the chance. Those chances became even more rare as a reg who I had usually seen play pretty tight went on tilt and started raising every pot. I estimate that I saw him rebuy to the tune of about $1,500 over a relatively short period of time. A couple of times he lost his rebuy within a few hands. Pretty sad. Sadder still, I was unable to take advantage of the situation. Fold. Fold. Fold. Yuck.

I decided to take a break from poker after over six hours so that I could earn some bonus points playing some sweet, sweet video poker and some slots. Unfortunately, the video poker machines in East Peoria seem incredibly tight. Nothing. Nada. How does Pete Peters find dem good machines that give him quad Aces so frequently?

After an hour of donking some slots and after the promotion ended, I went back to the poker room, only to be two-outed on a big hand and suffer other poker indignities that I shudder to remember. In both sessions, which totaled 12 hours, I did not hit even one set. I felt pretty confident against the other players, but the cards certainly did not cooperate that night.

You know you are running bad when you depend on slot play to make up for poker losses. I hit up Wonka for one last time before leaving the boat and got a nice bonus, which at least cut my losses to a level where I didn't tweet that I wanted to kill everybody.

I grabbed a shitty Italian sub from the snack bar and began the lonely drive home, making it into my bed before the sun came up. Just another frigging day in Par-A-Dice.