Sunday, May 27, 2007

Foxwoods Friday

Friday saw the end of my most recent training engagement in Windsor, Connecticut. In celebration, I headed an hour down the road to Foxwoods for some food and poker. I’ve been to Foxwoods before. It is a big and very nice facility. The poker room must have somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 tables in an area that is quiet (for a poker room), smokeless, and out of the way of the main casinos.

If I have a complaint about Foxwoods it would be the staff. Maybe it is because they are New Englanders or maybe they are overworked, but I didn’t meet one that wouldn’t have used a gun on themselves or someone else the moment. If I asked for change, I got a grunt in return. Ask the dealer for a rules clarification and you get another grunt. I saw one unfortunate fellow remind the waitress that he ordered a water and he got an ear full about how she is only one person and human and that she sometimes makes mistakes and on and on.

My play whet well. I’ve been concentrating hard on not making crying calls late in hands and I did pretty well on this point. Several times when I laid down a good hand to a river bet, I was shown that I was beaten. Many river bets didn’t receive a call. This made the difference in a winning and losing night.

I started out with some $2-4 limit as a warm-up. The game was loose as a goose, but I played by the book, looking for a little better than average starting hand and winning slightly less than my share. I played for about an hour and left down $9.

My next stop was the $1-2 no limit game. This was a good solid game. I only brought my $91 from the 2-4 table making me a bit under-funded. Winning the first hand with pocket 7s helped loosen things up. That first dealer, we will call him Christopher (since that was his name), was the biggest pain in the ass. He was not happy about the managers. He complained that they screwed up the rotation and his break. He kept holding up the game by looking around for someone or something that never did happen. My stack rose and fell for the next 2 hours until we lost 2 players, the time was called (yes, they charge $5 per half hour) and Christopher returned. I decided it was time to leave. I lost another $30 at this table.

The funniest thing I heard while at the $1-2 table was right after a 20 something guy sat down on my right as time was called. He said “Wow! You guys really stick it to the players here. We don’t get a pat of butter or nothing. You just go right to it.” I still don’t know what that meant, but I enjoyed it.

My final stop was the $4-8 limit game. This table has a little bit of life with some slightly drunk and very happy players. I put my remaining $61 on the table and decided to be patient. I hit a nice set of aces to get me back up for the night and then a loooong dry spell that put me down about $100. It was at this point with about an hour left to play that I decided that I would be happy to get back to even and call it a night. I caught a couple of really nice hands including one paired ace on the flop and rivered a second pair for a nice suck-out.

Then, as if right on cue, the deck hit me right between the eyes. I saw my preflop junk flop a full house. The next hand saw more junk flop two pair and turn a full house. Two hands later my junky suited ace rag flopped a nut flush. And on it went like this for about 8 of ten hands. Too bad that I wasn’t playing in any of them. Yep. I got to watch as hand after hand that would have gone to me went to other players. I was ahead and finishing up the night super tight to preserve my winnings ($6). But I played my game and did what I planned to do at that stage of the night. Part of the game is self-discipline. It is necessary, and I don’t want a hand or two that would have been a winner to suck me into playing hands that I should fold. It’s just hard to watch sometimes.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Oklahoma is OK

I spent last evening in the WinStar Casino in Thackerville, OK. T’ville is just over the TX/OK line on Interstate 35, about an hour north of Dallas. This is a Chickasaw Nation casion. The main casino is under what looks like two big tents on the outside. The inside look like several other NA casinos with lots of slots, table games and old people walking slow avoiding striaght lines.

The poker room is brand new with lots of flat screens on the wall, self-serve soda fountains, and about 30 poker tables. Games start at $4-8 limit and $1-2 NL. They spread a $5-5-10 limit Omaha high game that the dealers hate due to the three blind structure.

I headed out after being released from my customer visit around 3:30, putting me at the WinStar about 4:45. I sit down at a $4-8 LHE table around 5 and play for an hour.

My first 4 hands see my $120 buy-in get cut in half and the next 4 hands get most of the loss back. I tread water for the rest of the first hour when I have to take a conference call. In case you couldn’t guess or didn’t care, it can be really difficult to find a quiet place to make a phone call in a card room or casino. Effective use of the mute feature on a cell phone is invaluable.

I get done with the con call and sit back down at around 6:30. I hit a couple of good hands and order dinner. One of the things I really enjoy about the WinStar is that they will serve food at the tables. A lot of casinos do this, but too many do not. I understand the reasons why (it can get messy, or should I say some players can be messy), but I still would rather eat without interrupting my play.

I had a big hand during this short session. I’m the big blind and the fellow on my left straddles. He has just been hit with a couple of bad beats and is steaming real bad, so his is now in serious tilt straddle mode. I look down at the first pocket pair of aces that I’ve seen in a year (it feels that way, anyway). We get about 3 callers. I call and the straddle raises. Everybody calls for a nice juicy pot. I get my third ace on the flop and I’m feeling great. I bet and get 2 callers, the guy to my left and a girl two to my right. She has only been at the table for about 30 minutes, but has yet to lose a pot and is a big reason for Mr. Straddle’s tilt condition. The turn and river don’t show anything of consequence. I bet at each round and the girl shows me down. I show and scoop the nice pot.

I get my dinner around 7 and then break to call the wife at 7:30. Since I have another call to take at 8:00, I pick up my chips and cash up $100. With my tight play, that is a real nice pop for that little bit of play. I move out to my car and chat with Mrs. K until time for con call #2. Take con call and then I’m free to concentrate on poker, finally. The time is now 8:45.

Upon my return to the poker room, I decide to try some $1-2 no limit. I figure that I’m up $100, I can play tight and maybe good things will happen. I sit down and pick up a nice pot in the first orbit and then tread water for the next hour. Then New Guy sits down on my right. On the very first hand with NG, I get AJo in the small blind and pop it for $12. I get a J on a raggedy flop I pop again on the flop and turn with NG calling at each round. The river puts a straight minus a 5 on the board. I pop for $15 more and new guy raises me $15. I don’t call because there is no reason in the world for that small a raise except as a value bet and I only have top pair AND I trying real hard not to make calls on the river. NG shows me his 5-7 off suit for the straight.

Three hands later I peak down at AcQc and pop it for $12 more. I’m now in early middle position and get 3 callers including NG. The board misses me with junk so I bet $15. NG calls. The turn puts a second 7 on the board and NG bets $50. I fold and he shows the hammer (72o).

I’m OK with all of this as I’m making the right decisions but I’m not enjoying the chip bleed. Then we get a big turning point. I’m in the big blind and my neighbor straddles for $4. Thinking back to the $4-8 game, I really like this straddle. I look down at KK. There is one caller, a raise of $5 to $7 and another caller before it gets back to me so I bump it $5 more just to build a pot. The flop is a rainbow of 59Q. I get the first bet and choose $20. NG calls. Turn is a 10. Check and I bet $20 more. NG calls. The river is a 7 and NG bets $80. I go in the tank for a bit worried that he may have an 8J or JK for the straight. I can cover the bet, but not by a ton. I decide that this guy has gotten me with junk twice and has seen me lay down twice to big bets and I think he is making a move. I call and he turns over 9J and I scoop a huge pot.

The rest of my play was good and I closed the night up $362 for my biggest night ever in a live casino and maybe my biggest take ever. I know my friends Falstaff, Pauley, Lane, and many other sneeze this much cash at the tables, but not me. For a low-limit rock like me, this was a terrific night. Oklahoma is OK by me.

Next week I'll be near Hartford, CT. Maybe I'll get to Foxwoods.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Big D

I’ve had a good trip to the Dallas area this week. The work has been rather easy. The hotel has been comfortable. I’ve found some poker to play. After the insane schedule and travel of last week, it has been the break I was hoping for.

There was a poker tournament in the lounge of the hotel Wednesday night. It was a fun freeroll except for the one drink minimum. I hit some good cards early turning a straight, pushing the table around with middle pocket pairs, and busting a busty astrophysicist with QQ over her JJ. That gave me enough to make the final table (of 3) without winning another hand. Good thing, too, since I didn’t win another hand. I busted out in 7th place after my top pair got busted by a runner-runner straight. I played well, so it was a good time.

I did work until 9pm last night. That seems harsh for a Friday night, but I’m not at home and TV sucks, so I was glad to have something to do. Hunger and laziness struck at the same time, so I called up room service and ordered me a steak. I was just turning to the laptop to check on the web and I heard a sound in my room. Sounds are okay as long as I or the TV makes them. The origin of this sound was neither. It was coming from the bathroom and I couldn’t tell if it was someone rustling around or water dripping. Since I was the only (other) one there, I went to check it out.

I reached around the door jamb and hit the bathroom light switch. The light illuminated the blackness that was now the bathroom. It looked like the sink had exploded coffee grounds sometime earlier in the night. Whatever it really was was on the far wall in the shower. It was on the ceiling. It covered the counter top and was still running from the sink. The sound I heard was the black water overflowing the sink onto the floor.

I stuck a trash can under the waterfall and called the front desk. The engineer took one look at the bathroom and said “We need to get you another room.” Wow, what a good answer. This guy takes the Customer Service Person of the Month Award. He didn’t make excuses or waste my time with anything that was not my concern. He got me a room and keys for the room and offered to help me move my stuff. He didn’t even try to explain what happened until I asked. The Arlington Hilton gets good customer service scores from me. Of course, it would have been nice to not have had my room soiled in the first place.

So I’m back at it today. Our project is going smoothly, so I really don’t have much to do except monitor counters and blog. Tomorrow, I fly out to Hartford, CT via Charlotte (home). I’m hoping the wife can meet me at the airport with a picnic or something during my 2 hour layover. Maybe I can get down to Foxwoods during the week.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Another Special K Day

Last night was national chicken wing night. It’s not really ‘National’ chicken wing night, but it was the night that me and Mrs. K head to Hooters for wings and beer. After arriving home, I head into the bathroom to floss. My teeth like to hold onto chicken, so I make it a point to floss after wings.

Luckily I was flossing earlier than usual, around 10 pm, and as I was finishing up, I feel this piece of bone or tooth or something loose in my mouth. I spit is out and still couldn’t tell what is was by looking at it. I quickly feel around with my tongue and don’t feel anything out of place. So I head up stairs to check e-mail and that’s when I felt it. I had the big crater in the space between my first and second molars. It obviously didn’t hurt and wouldn’t be a problem in most situations, but at the time I was scheduled to leave for a week in northern California at 7:30 am tomorrow.

What if I leave and start to feel worse tomorrow? What if I break it worse because I didn’t have it fixed? Crap. I had to go, but I was unsure of what to do. Of course, the wife talks some sense into me by telling me to call the dentist. It took me a while, but I found the number and gave it a call. The message on the phone plays for about 3 seconds and then stops. I try again. Better luck this time.

I get the name and number of the on-call dentist. It’s the lady dentist that I’ve never seen and her number starts with the area code of 734. Well the main area code in Charlotte is 704, so I know that is a mistake and dial the 704 number. No such number. OK, I’m the dumbass that can’t follow instructions. I dial the 734 number and get her right away.

She agrees to see me at 9 am on Saturday morning. Next I call the travel service to change my flight to a later time. There is only one choice for a change here, and that choice will cost and extra $450. Ouch. I put that off and called to try to find a dentist through my brother who lives in the bay area, but that came up empty. I called the travel service back and reserve the later flight then go get some sleep.

Travel day went a lot better. I got in and out of the dentist office in about 10 minutes. There was no serious damage. I got a temporary filling and was on my way. When I got to the airport, the rush continued. I got upgraded to first class for both legs of the trip (CLT to LAS to SFO). I was sure that the last minute changes would put me in the back of the plane in a center seat after I cleared the TSA cavity search, but none of that happened. I even got to watch the Kentucky Derby during my layover in Vegas. That's some good timing.

The day ended with a nice dinner and walk through Palo Alto with my brother and sister-in-law.

So let’s recap – A trip to the dentist, home for breakfast, airport, Vegas, Kentucky Derby, San Francisco, dinner in Palo Alto, sleep. Just another day in the life of Sepcial K. Sheeesh.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Off to Vegas?

It seems that I’m writing most of my posts from various airports. If I’m not posting, it must mean that I’m not traveling. I’ve traveled so much over the past few years that not traveling means that I’m happy and content. Traveling is exciting in a way, but I like my home. The thought of traveling is also exhausting. It means long days filled to the brim with work.

Today’s trip is no exception. I’m waiting on the 1:10 flight to Las Vegas. I stop typing there because I like to look and sound of it. I’m waiting on the 1:10 flight direct to Vegas. I even have first class from the upgrade. The big Mayweather-De LaHoya fight is tonight at the MGM and that has absolutely nothing to do with this trip. I’ll spend about an hour in the airport before I fly on to San Francisco and the sight of this week’s technical workshop.

I will get to spend a few hours with my younger brother in Los Altos which should be fun. AK will be a Microsoft employee in a couple weeks. He has always kidded me about my affiliation with the Giant from Redmond. Now he will be one of us as his employer has been purchased. I look forward to his perspective and that of his co-workers.

I almost didn't make this trip. Last night it was looking pretty grim when I pulled part of a tooth off while flossing. I'll have to spell that out later. The floght is starting to board.

More on this trip coming at future stops.