Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bonus Whoring

I started my one full day in Vegas, not by hitting the nearest poker table, but by touring the strip and joining player's clubs to get some good coupons and swag. The main coupons that I wanted were for match play.

I had 3 match plays on this trip. Two were for $25 and one for 5. I won one of three for a profit of $20. so before any poker, I'm up about $30 for the trip at the start of the poker playing day. (I had a real nice +$170 session at the Hooters Poker Room late Tuesday night to put me up $10 at the start of the day)

Center City Construction

Center City Construction

Center City Construction

A few other impressions of the strip:

  • The City Center and Cosmopolitan projects (between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo) is a huge mass of construction. It is remarkable how far they have come in the last 10 months. (Pictures above)
  • You can not tell there was a fire at the Monte Carlo a few weeks ago.
  • Wynn's Encore tower is nearly complete. Except for the cranes, it looks complete.
  • The Palazzo (new tower at the Venetian) is fabulous. (Pictures below)



I stopped by the Wynn to see the start of the Wynn Classic poker tournament. I was hoping to run into FlipChip, but no such luck today. I don't know if it was a sad sight or not, but I did spot poker pro T.J. Cloutier at a $15 craps table all by himself. I thought about placing a bet so I could recount the day TJ and I played craps together, but I didn't think it was worth $15. I made a swing through the Palazzo and Venetian on my way to my poker objective, the fabulous Flamingo.

The poker room there sucks, but I was hoping that the players would match. Unfortunately for me, the cards are what sucked. I found a very familiar pattern of playing very tight, getting some action on every bet, and hanging around even until a good starting hand gets my chips in only to be sucked out by somebody who should not have been in the hand.

That is exactly what happened after about 3 hours of play. I got QQ and got my $12 open called by 2 players. The flop is all low trash, I jam for about $60 more and get one caller who hit his 64o for two pair. IGBTHN (I go back to hotel now).

I hung out at my hotel for about an hour checking email and taking a short break before heading to the Planet Hollywood for the 6 pm tourney. The Grinder used to play in this one, but no longer. It is just a well structured $60 tourney. Since it was really a 7 pm tourney, I signed up and then sat at a $1-2 NL table to pass the time.

That familiar pattern of hanging around to get stacked was still in force and took about an hour before I ran my flopped 2 pair into an over-sized stack on an outside straight draw. Guess what. yep. IGGDN (get dinner). I'm now down $200 for the day and $170 for the trip.

But I'm not posting bad-beat stories on this trip. I did well in the tourney getting 6th out of 36 to double my buy-in and bring my trip total to -$110. From here I cruised to Bellagio to play some $1-3 NL and find again that they don't spread such low limits. They start at $2-5, so I keep moving. Bally's has a good sized list for $1-2, but Paris is open (they post both lists at Bally's).

I show up at Paris at about 11 pm, Ready to play for about an hour. I hang around my $115 buy-in for the hour and start to look for the exit. Then I get dealt 66 on the button and get in a 6 way limped pot. the flop comes 567 and it gets checked to me. I bet $12 and get 2 callers. The turn is a 2 and the player to my right goes all in for $38 more. I call and the 3rd player folds. The river brings the fourth 6 to make me quad 6s. Bonus! So I take down the $120 ish pot and a $110 high hand bonus. After a couple more good hands I stand up and cash out for about $300.

I end this Vegas trip just a little over $100 thanks to a late rally. I board the plane in about 20 minutes and will be home in 5 hours. Good times.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Vegas 2/2008

What a day!  We get to the customer site this morning and get some really strange looks, or maybe they were strained.  We are told that the SQL part of the meeting will now begin after lunch and not at 10:45 as we had been told.  In addition, they want us to speak with the hardware rep.  Curious.

She comes out and explains that they are not just giving the results of their audit, but are doing a presentation to get a contract to do the whole project.

Well that changes things a bit.  Mostly it meant that no one from our company could attend the meeting.  Yep, I flew 4/5 of the way across the country to not attend a meeting.  After speaking with my manager and the manager of the customer's team, we split for the airport.

I was not supposed to leave Phoenix until 7 pm and it was only 1 pm when I got through security at the airport.  I checked the desk about the next flight to Vegas and they gave me a seat.  I had to take a middle seat and give up my first-class seat, but it beat the crap out of sitting in the airport for 5.5 hours.  Best part that I still got upgraded before we took off.

So I'm now in Vegas and have joined the Owl Club here at the Hooters Hotel and Casino.  They gave me $100 in slot play and a table match play of $25.  I've also played poker at the MGM for 3 hours.  Since I'm not going to write anymore bad beat stories about this trip, that is the end of this post.

Business First - Solo Rage Next

I've got a few minutes and I finally feel like writing something.  When I'm home, there are some many other things that I like to do or have to do that blogging get pushed to the back burner.  Playing pool, guitar hero, paying bills, fixing something on the house, playing with the dogs, going out (or staying it) with the wife, etc. all rate higher than blogging. 

When I'm on the road, those things aren't available and so it comes time to catch up on the blog.

I'm currently in Phoenix, AZ awaiting a meeting with one of my customers.  Right now it is clear and 55 degrees here.  Charlotte is 49 degrees and raining like crazy.  I hate I'm missing out on that.

I flew all the way out here yesterday for the meeting today.  We won't start until 10:45 and I won't be surprised if we are done my lunch.  I hope we at least go until 3 or 4.  It would just be too crazy to come all this way for a 1 or 2 hours meeting.  That's what con calls are for.  I'm not even presenting at the meeting.  Hardware vendors are doing that.  I'm just there to represent my company and to stay involved in the project.

So, to make the best of a bad situation, after the meeting, I'm hopping on a plane and making the 1 hour journey to Vegas.  I plan to go solo for about 32 hours or so before flying out Thursday morning.  My rough plan is to play at the MGM tonight.  After a good night's sleep, I head up to the Venetian and Wynn to check out some of the sights and action.  Wednesday night is still to be determined.  Any offers?

Before I go, I have to report on last night's poker action.  I returned to the casino that I don't think I have ever left with money that has been placed on a table.  It has felted me every time.  Last night was no exception.  All that is allowed in AZ is limit poker.  The only no-limit substitute was a $5-200 game that sounded to rich for me. 

So I sat at a donkey $2-4 table.  I lost with flopped top trips 4 times, once to a flopped straight, once to flopped trips with a bigger kicker, and once each to a rivered flush and boat.  My top straight got beat by a rivered flush.  I think I took one or pots of any decent size.  Casino Arizona has never been kind to me and I'll never go back this month.  I only went through $100, but I was looking to kill time and have dinner.  I guess I got that, but I'm now behind for the trip.


Next up, Vegas, baby.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Saturday Night in Concord, NC

Just reading those words in the title reminds me of a John Denver song from my youth.  The song is "Saturday Night in Toledo, Ohio".  In case you aren't familiar with it, it goes something like this:

"Saturday night in Toledo, Ohio is like being nowhere at all.
All through the day how the hours rush by, you sit in the park and you watch the grass die.

"You ask how I know of Toledo, Ohio? Well I spent a week there one day.
They've got entertainment to dazzle your eyes: go visit the bakery and watch the buns rise."

You get the idea. 

Well, Dr. K and I found just the opposite in Concord last night.  We attended the Old Courthouse Theater's production of "Moon Over Buffalo".  The play was hilarious.  Jim the Knife is a good friend and the male lead in the play. 

I have to say it really is a bitch supporting your friends sometimes.  We had to drive a whole 20 minutes to be greeted as somebody special, sit in a comfortable theater for 2 hours, be thoroughly entertained by a troop very talented actors and in the end have the wife be very happy with her man for the hefty price of $15 per person.  Oh, the things I'll endure for my friends. :)

I've known for some time that Jim has a great voice.  I've also seen him act in some commercials, but last night, he put the whole package together.  I would have been impressed with his performance had he been a complete stranger.  He was professional quality.  I really think he could go as far as he wants with his acting.

We were also very impressed with the performances of Andrea Rassler as the daughter and Becky Porter who played the grandmother.  Those were the standouts, but there wasn't a weakness in the entire cast.  They were all terrific.

The greatest discoveries are those that show up in unexpected times and places.  I would not have expected so much from an evening in Downtown Concord.  It was a great discovery and a wonderful evening.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Poker not so much fun tonight

Yea, I lost a few points, but that doesn't bother me.  Normally the entertainment value would be worth several times what I invested.  No, it was something else and it ate on me all night.  I wish it hadn't and I wish I could just let it go.  That's what a grown up would do.

I know that nobody there meant anything personal, but the timing really left me with something I want to say, and the folks gathered were pretty aggressive about not wanting to hear it.   The topic was politics and one of the guests had just made what, to me, was a purely partisan political comment that contradicted an earlier statement he had made.  In affect, he told me I was wrong and that it (all the problems in the world?) was always the republican's fault as the rest of the group cut off the conversation.  They've never cut off any conversation before, but they sure cut me off.

Well the reaction in my gut was and big "Fuck That!!" It must be something from my childhood, but that hit a button that hasn't been hit in a long time.  I didn't rant or rave, but I kinda wish I had.  Had I done that, Falstaff could have thrown me out (it's his house after all) giving me some finality to the discussion.  Had there been more folks there I would probably have hit the road, at least to cool down for a while.  In my younger days, I would have called it a night.  Instead, I just sat there like a jerk and didn't say a thing.

It's a sign of growth that I didn't react as I would have, but after 47 years I should be a lot further along than I showed tonight.  There is a lot of growth still in front of me.  We have a good fun group that I really love being around and I'm sorry to anyone who was paying enough attention to have been made uncomfortable.  I know I sure was tonight.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Gratuitous Photo Posting

Just because I haven't seen this one in a while.


This is Dry Falls near Highlands, NC.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day - not

(disclaimer: I don't have any children) 

A buddy of mine at work is going through a rough time.  A week ago, his wife left him.  He had no idea it was coming.  Worse yet, she took their 6 year-old twins with her to a friends house.  She called him at work that day to make sure he was not on his way home and made an excuse for why she would be out with the kids.  The friend's that she took the kids (who are asmatic) to stay with have cats and a dog to which the kids are allergic.  He found out what had gone down about 9 o'clock that night when he reached his wife on the phone and she told him that she was gone and the kids are safe and "that's all you need to know."


Now I know I'm only getting one side of the story and there is a lot more to go with what I have above, but skip ahead to today.  My buddy has moved out of his house so his wife and kids can move back in.  I would imagine that it will be her's (and the kid's) to keep.  She has avoided getting a job for the past two years, so he'll get to pay her for leaving him and it is already pretty clear that they (the wife and layer) are going to do everything they can to make him out to be a pervert or monster.

To hear his side, he was staying in this marriage to keep the family together for the kids.  I'm sure it wasn't perfect, but I'll bet it was better that what they have right now.  And if you are wondering if she was abused, she is a black belt martial arts instructor and he weighs about 160.  I don't think that is an issue.

The real problem, to hear him tell it, is that he is trying to play by the rules, be a nice guy and try to settle things as quickly as possible for the kids sake.  He doesn't realize that she has probably been talking to her lawyer and setting him up for months.

If there were any justice, the kids would be at home with him and she would be visiting them from wherever she found to live.  But it doesn't work that was for guys.  She will probably get the house, the kids (which she will use as a lever with which to beat him), cash and every opportunity to date and move on.  If he is a good guy, he will get indentured servitude for the next 12 years.

This is going to be sad to watch as the system roll over him like a Mac Truck.  I could understand (but not condone) why some guys do real stupid things in situations like this.  I would probably be one of them.

Happy Valentine's Day. :(

Monday, February 11, 2008

Break is over - Back to Work

That was a nice little break from blogging.  It's not that nothing has been happening or that nothing was on my mind.  I just didn't feel like writing it down.

Going back a little over a week, there was Poker at BG's in the country.  I won the tournament with very few cards, but really strong cards when others had good enough cards to play with me.  I think I busted out about half the players, but that was a good while ago and the story may have grown in my mind.  I also did real well in the cash game finishing the night with about 170 more points than I started with.

Oh yea, that was the night our host's nose opened into a red torrent to start a run of three straight days visiting the local emergency room.  Falstaff wrote it up much better than could I.  Read it here.

The following night was pool league and the super bowl.  Both worked out the way I wanted.  I smoked my opponent and the Giants took down the Patriot's collective egos.

Work was really busy last week, thought I don't remember just what happened.  I remember that there were lots of con calls and interviews and no time to sit and write up a decent blog post, so I didn't.  It was nice to be home at night for the first week in the past three.

The biggest news for the Special K household is that Dr. K has taken a position with a local audiology clinic.  She is already very happy with the new employer and co-workers.  Better yet, it is only 10 minutes from the house.  That is compared to the 40-50 minutes she spent getting to and from her last job.  Last and probably least important in the big scheme, the pay is much better that she has ever received before.  I'm so proud of her I can't put it into words.

This past Saturday was alright for pasta and poker.  Damn, I've been playing lots of poker here recently, but it is so much fun and Jim the Knife made us an offer that we couldn't refuse.  The offer was a home-made pasta dinner followed by hours of cards.  The meal and company were big winners for me.  The poker was a little winner (21 points), but that beats the crap out of losing.  Thanks again, Jim.  It was a terrific night.

One interesting hand happened when three of us hit our flushes on the river.  I beat the low flush and got beat by T with the short stack and a J to beat my ten.  I at least got some money back from the side pot.  You can read more about the night here.

Pool on Sunday was a different story.  Where I smoked last week, I got smoked this week.  I took a 3-0 loss to a lower ranked player.  I probably hurt my game by raking leaves and shoveling dirt before going to play, but my opponent played really well and I didn't.

Wow, not that I've got that all recorded, we can move on to more important matters.  I'll let you know as soon as I figure out what those are.

One more thing though.  I upgraded my Flickr account and uploaded a heaping helping of photos last night.  I wanted to test the integration of Flickr with this Windows Live Writer that I use so here goes with some photos from Yellowstone in October 2004:

Tetons Elk at Jackson Hole Grand Canyon at Yellowstone

Larger versions are available by clicking on the photos. That wasn't much integration, but I can work with it.

Friday, February 08, 2008


Linus Torvalds (creator of the Linux operating system) on the slow uptake of Linux on desktop computers:

"Better is worse if it's different."

So true.