Monday, December 27, 2010

Gambling Tales Podcast Returns

The Gambling Tales Podcast is back with a new format and a weekly freeroll tournament.  We took 6 months off from the podcast.  It wasn’t planned, but business travel and life in general kept us from putting new shows together until now. 

The new format will be a change from the old 3 segment format that we were publishing every two weeks.  We are streamlining the show with just one segment per show and publishing the show weekly.  We had planned for the old show format to run about 20-30 minutes, but we found that most shows were pushing an hour.  I listen to some podcasts that run an hour or more weekly and I find it difficult to keep up with them.  With our new format, we won’t have to worry so much about the length. Some shows may be as short as 10 minutes while others may run 30.  I’m very open to reading comments and adjusting future shows (


Starting January 2, 2011, the Gambling Tales Podcast will host a weekly freeroll poker tournament on Full Tilt Poker.  Full Tilt will put up a $50 prize pool each week.  Most tournaments will be No Limit Texas Hold’em with an occasional venture into Omaha, Stud, or Mixed games.  The password for entry into the tournament will change weekly and will be announced on the show.  Shows will be released on Sunday night and the tournament will be held on Thursday at 9 pm eastern.  We look forward to railing friends and listeners each week.

I’m really excited about the changes and look forward to hearing comments and suggestions from listeners.  Enjoy.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

A much better tri

As I expected, Saturday night led into a very restless Sunday morning.  I managed to get some sleep between 3 and 5 am, I think.  It was tough wrestling with the ghosts of the triathlon.  They kept trying to help me by wanting to go through the first transition, and then the plan for the biking hills, and then the run strategy, and then the second transition, etc, etc.  I had heard that the night 2 nights before the event was the most important night of sleep for the triathlete.  Apparently that’s because you are not going to sleep well the night before.

I arose around 5 am to make my final checks, feed the dogs, eat some breakfast and load up my gear.  We got away and to the site a few minutes before 6:30.  Setup went smooth and by 7:15, I was ready to go.  I did make a couple stops by the porta-potty before the race, just in case.  I’d paid for that lesson last year.  I wasn’t going to waste it.  I also ran into an old friend, CM, from my early days at my work place.  She gave Dr. K an invitation to join her all-girls workout club.  It was good to see that she was doing well.  I’d see her again in a bit.

I wore number 68, which set my start time around 7:49.  In this race, someone started every 15 seconds, so we all stood in a line until our turn.  Soon enough it was my turn.  The starter yelled “Three, two, one, go”, and I was off. 

My first mistake was trying to wear my heart rate monitor during the swim.  I didn’t expect to get my HR during the swim, I just didn’t want to have to put it on during a transition and I did want it for the run.  I had noticed that I was the only person wearing one, but not until it was too late to ask why.  There was no problem until the first swimming turn where I pushed off the wall and felt the strap of the monitor slip down to my waist.  The second turn pushed it down to my butt and the third turn took it off.  It remained at the bottom of the pool for the remainder of the race.  I felt a real distraction from this turn of events and I think my swim suffered for it.  Swim time – 4:45 (250 meters).

My swim didn’t feel great, but the finish came up a lot quicker this time.  I managed to pull myself from the pool and run out the door into the very cool October air.  This year, unlike last, I was going for time.  There was no time to dry off or put on socks.  It was time to do what needed to be done and nothing more.  I mixed up the order of things in the transition, but I managed to put on my bike shoes, my shirt, and my helmet in a reasonable time and head for the bike start.

The bike portion went well.  My concentration for the bike ride was the hills on the course.  They are big and the first three come at you one after another.  The second hill is the worst on the route.  I set my mind to climb mode and made those hills mine.  My lungs ached during the entire ride, but I wasn’t letting up.  My Secretariat motivation from Friday night cut at least a minute off my time.  I do remember getting a bit of a ice cream headache about halfway through.  The cold air running over my wet hair made me a little uncomfortable.  It was about this time where I almost drove my bike in a ditch for no good reason other than lack of concentration.  The two were probably connected. Bike time – 34:00 (10 miles).

I returned to the transition zone to prepare for the run.  It was a good long way from the bike dismount point to my spot in the transition zone and another from my spot to the run start point.  This added a ton of time, like a full minute, to my race.  I again messed up my plan.  First, I headed up the wrong row of bikes and had to do an about face.  Once to my spot I had trouble hooking my number belt around my waste and finally forgot to drop my glasses.  All of those mistake probably added another 20 seconds.  Not awful, but significant.  You brain just doesn’t work the same when you are tired and my performance here proves that.

As expected, the run started slow and got better as I went.  There was never any real need to start walking, but I did shuffle through the first mile or so.  This is where I saw my old work friend again.  The run course doubles back on itself 3 times.  CM had started about 10 minutes ahead of me in the swim.  When I saw her during the run, she was up by about 2 minutes.  By the second switchback that time was down to a minute or so.  It was more motivation than competition that made me want to catch her by the finish.  at switchback 3 her lead was only about 150 yards, but we were only a half-mile from the finish.  I picked up the pace and I could see her ahead of me with a quarter mile to go.

I think 100 yards was as close as I got, but the distraction of the chase helped pull me to a good finish. Run time – 26:36. 

My time for this race last year under very similar conditions was 1:23:36.  This year I bettered every segment except the second transition and posted a time of 1:09:20 or 14 minutes and 16 seconds better.

I thought before the race that 1:05 might be possible.  After the race I knew I had given a little more than I had to give (Translation: I felt like crap for the rest of the day).  Now, the morning after the race, my head still has a bit of a buzz and my lungs have a distant ache and my ankles have rough spot or two, but I’m pretty much recovered.  It will be a while before the pain of yesterday’s triathlon recedes enough for me to try again, but I will.  I think I’ll wait a few more days until I start to work on that.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Tri. Now try harder.

This the not football season in the Special K household.  This October has become triathlon season.  I’ve been a workout junkie on and off since high school.  The last time I was really into it was back in 2002 right up until I run the old Cooper River Bridge had my gall bladder removed 2 days later.  For some reason I never gotten back to that routine.  I think the combination of work travel and poker conspired against the workouts by sucking up my free time.  Now, even though I’m not in the best running shape of my 40s, I am in the best all-around shape for swimming, biking and running that I’ve ever been.

Most of that work was inspired by my wife, Dr. K.  She discovered working out and how much she loves it in the spring of 2009.  Since then she has been working out and building a triathlon machine.  The change has been remarkable.  As we say during election season, I approve that message.

So the official sport around the house is now triathlon.  Three week ago, we traveled to Augusta, GA to watch a friend run in a Half-Max Tri.  I was pretty impressed as he just kept motoring along through a mile+ swim, and 40+ mile bike ride and a 13 mile run.  Last week was Dr. K’s turn for her international distance tri (1k yrds/28 mi./10k).  Unfortunately, the swim was cancelled, but she rallied from her disappointment to do very well.  She came out with a plan to run a half-marathon in Dec.

Tomorrow is my turn.  Around 7:48:45 I’ll start the same tri that I tried last year, the Take Flight Triathlon.  Mine is a sprint of 250 m swim, 10 mi bike, and 5k run.  If you need to catch up on what happened last year you can jump to here.  I’ll not repeat the soiled details of that one, however I was not pleased with the outcome.  Tomorrow is my chance at redemption and I’m pretty nervous about it.  I’m hopeful that by dumping my thoughts here, where no one will read them, that I’ll rid myself of at least some of those nerves.

I’ve trained hard, maybe even too hard at times.  I should have had a plan, but I didn’t.  I just tried to do a lot of each of the disciplines and tried to improve my fitness along the way.  Next time I’ll go with the plan.  I didn’t have to go on a month long trip a few weeks before the event this year like last.  I did go to Afghanistan  during my training, but only for 2 weeks and I did manage to run a few times while there.  My running is still not back to where I want it to be, but my swimming is about as good as ever and my biking is better than ever.

I’ve been over the course and there are about 4 points on the bike course that scare me.  It is hilly and 4 of the hills are going to take my best effort and then some to get over in a reasonable time.  The run will be awful to start, but I’m not holding back on the bike to save for the run.  I’ll do what I can to avoid cramping up totally and take it as it comes.  I’ll probably finish faster than I start on the run.

It all comes down to how deep in can dig in my heart to make myself go beyond where I think I can go.  It seems so silly to do this as a hobby.  There must be more constructive ways to abuse myself.  I’ve got no one to compete against and no money on the line.  I’m not good enough to compete for prizes.  It’s just a goal that I set and I’m determined to see what I’ve got.

Tomorrow, my inspiration comes from an ESPN show I saw last night on Secretariat.  Watching that horse run is such an awesome sight that I get a lump in my throat.  One line from that show said that it was as if God said “go”, and he went.  I’ll not be a Secretariat tomorrow and frankly, I’ll be relieved when it is done, but when they say “go” tomorrow, I’m going to see how much go I’ve got.  I’ll update here when it’s done.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Tri.. er.. Duathlon in Myrtle Beach

Dr. K was to Swim/Bike/Run in the Myrtle Beach Triathlon.  We drove to the beach on Friday, got her registered for the race and loaded up on pasta.  Our arrival at the Marina Inn for the event was about 6:30 am. About 7 am an announcement was made that there would be no swim.  That was upsetting to many racers, some of which were competing for a spot on the national triathlon team.  The problem was the epic rainfall of this past week.  Myrtle Beach had 16 inches of rain from Tuesday to Friday.  The runoff had pushed the e-coli level in the water too high for safe swimming.  The event organizers had no choice.

So they re-jiggered the start and timing and Dr. K’s race started around 9:30.  She did great finishing faster than she was expecting taking 4th in her age group.  Thanks to the Hampton Inn West for allowing us to check out late for post-race showers.  Below are some pictures (of the race, not the showers):

DSC_2292 - Copy






You can tell I’m very proud.  Congrats Dr. K!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

A few pictures from Afghanistan

I just returned home from my adventure in Afghanistan.  Internet connectivity in this 3rd world country is difficult to come by, so I’ve waited until now to post.  Also, most of what I really wanted to take pictures of was just what the military didn’t want me to take pictures of, so I passed on those.  There are no award winners in this bunch, but it may give you a little idea of what the place is like.


P1000037 - Copy






Thanks to Jim Bell for the really cool carabineer for my armor.

Monday, August 16, 2010

United Airlines F’s over its Customers

On Thursday I had what must rank as one of my top ten all-time worst customer service experience at the hands of United Airlines.  It all started when my 2:30 pm flight to Washington-Dulles was cancelled due to bad weather in the DC area.  I don’t blame them for not flying without permission, but cancelling the flight altogether put the 130 or so folks on the plane in need of rebooking to get to their destination.  Had we flown when the airport reopened, I would have made my flight to Kuwait which was also delayed instead of enduring the torture that followed.

As we pulled back to the gate an announcement was made for domestic customers to line up at one gate and international customers at the other.  I’m thinking that they will give the international customers a priority since they have more expensive tickets and longer delays if flights are missed.  Nothing could have been further from what happened.

The domestic line was about twice as long as the international line, so it wasn’t surprising to see two agents servicing those passengers.  I was 9th of about 45 passengers in the international line.  Things were looking ok until the second customer in my line.  The first customer was in the wrong line so he was gone at once.  The next guy took over 50 minutes to try every possible option and ask every possible question.  Several international passengers asked for the agents to help us out a bit.  That wasn’t going to happen. 

As the ‘help’ whet on, the average time to book domestic passengers was maybe 5 minutes and the average passenger in the international line took about 30 minutes.  Even though I started 9th in line, I didn’t get any help with my travel until I had stood in line for over 3 hours.  Of course, by that time there was no way to get to Kuwait in time to catch my connection. None.  And since my connection only runs three days a week, it pushed my travel back 3 days.

Even though our line was moving so much slower, the 2 agents serving domestic passengers made no effort to help our line at all until all of the domestics were gone.  That happened right about the 3 hour mark.  Score 90 domestic, 8 international.  Nice.

At that point, some folks from further back in the international line stepped into the domestic line.  Once the domestics were gone, the agents continued with those line-jumpers in front of them instead of serving the next customer in the proper line.  Let that be a lesson to those who listen to instructions and play by the rules.  The folks behind the desk don’t give a crap about that.  They will do what is easier for them.  And did United keep all 3 agents working to help customers?  Nope.  One of the agents disappeared with no explanation.

Thankfully I was in my home town, so I could schedule a tentative trip and go home.  I really feel for the folks who were still 3 hours deep in the line and facing a night in a hotel and another day of traveling.

DId I say I could just go home?  That’s not quite true.  I still had to retrieve my bag from the airline.  That took another 30 minutes of waiting at the bag conveyor line.  From there I hopped on the waiting shuttle to airport parking and got right to my car.  Then I say the worst backup at the parking pay windows that I’ve every seen.  It took another 30 minutes to pay for the parking that I didn’t need.  I was home about 20 minutes later, much to the surprise of Dr. K.

As I’m writing this, my second try at this trip is going much better, but there is a long way to go.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Long Layover

Now that I seem to be on my way I’ll quit being coy.  I’m headed to Afghanistan for a couple weeks.  Specifically, I’ll be traveling to US Army bases in Kabul and Kandahar.  They are exotic locations and the living conditions are much different than I am used to in the states, but the work is pretty much the same.

Is it safe?  Yes, I believe it is.  The most dangerous part by far is the flight, and not because it is in a war zone, but because it is a flight.  The problems that you hear about on the news tend to be out in the country-side or around forward operating bases (FOBs), not the big bases near cities.  I found that to be true in Iraq the past two summers and I expect the same in Afg.

I tried to get this trip started last Thursday.  The plan was to travel from Charlotte to Dulles and then on to Kuwait City arriving Friday afternoon Kuwait time.  There is an apartment that I can use there to get a shower and some sleep before continuing on to Kandahar and finally Kabul on Saturday.  Weather threatening in the DC area botched those plans.  My United flight out of CLT was cancelled.  The resulting ordeal that followed is too long for this post, but I will follow up with that rant shortly.  United won’t be happy, believe me.

Currently, I’m in the United Red Carpet Club in the Dulles International Airport.  It is a much nicer hang-out than the concourse.  Some free drinks, snacks, a bar, and NASCAR on the wide screen will work just fine.  I hope they don’t mind my changing the channel.

Because of the problems of Thursday, I didn’t want chance missing the flight to Kuwait again.  Unfortunately, the next earlier available flight out of CLT gave me a 6 hour layover here in Dulles.  So my current schedule looks like 2 hours of traveling to and hanging out in the Charlotte airport, 1 hour flight to DC, 6 hour layover in DC, 14 hour flight to Kuwait city and probably another hour or two of getting into Kuwait, getting my bag, and getting to the apartment.  After that 13 hours in the apartment, it’s back to the airport for the flight into Kandahar and then Kabul to finally get bedded down around 12 hours of travel on Tuesday.  Of course I will be full of energy and ready to go on Wednesday morning.  Right.

For security sake, I won’t be giving any details on my specific work.  You wouldn’t be that interested anyway.  I will try to snap some interesting pictures that I’ll pass along if I can, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Booty Ride Wrap-up

The HearUSA 24 Hours of Booty Team had a very successful ride for charity last week.  All four members completed at least 100 miles.  Captain Tracey (“Dr. K”) and John the Trainer (picture left) completed 200 miles in just under 21 hours.

booty team cropped

Personally, I was very happy to participate and glad that I could support my wife in a cause that she is passionate about.  I was also disappointed to have come down with a cold while in Seattle on Wednesday only to have it peak the night of the ride.  I’m thinking that the 3 or 4 days with little sleep in a strange bed and two cross-country flights might not have been the best preparation for the ride.  I had about 91 miles ridden before 4 am, but that’s where I fell out.  I returned to the course about 2 pm to complete my century and to help pack the campsite up.

We completed getting everything in the cars just as the sky opened up.  We literally threw the last two items in the car as the heavy rain began to fall and headed for home. Dr. K insisted on a beer and pizza dinner even though she had not slept all night.  She was pretty punchy by the time we returned home.  In all, the team raised $2785 for cancer research and treatment.  Dr. K is already shopping for a new bike for next year.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fenway Update

I was just looking back through the last few months of blog posts trying to figure out what I’ve posted and what I’ve missed.  That’s when I came across the posts about one of my dogs, Fenway, and how he blew out his knee.  You can catch up on that story here.

I knew it had been a while, but I had no idea that he hurt himself back at the end of March.  It’s been 4 month or about 16 weeks.  There was a long delay in getting his surgery done as he had some skin infections.  It would have been a really bad idea to operate with the infected skin as it would have gotten into the surgery incision and I don’t want to know what would happen then.

Now to the present.  Our boy is still recovering.  He had his surgery about 3 weeks ago.  I’d say he is a bit behind in his rehab.  He should be walking and exercising more, but he gets really sore for days afterwards, so we are taking that slow.  We are hoping to have him back to normal in 5 more weeks.  I say we, but I’m going to be gone from home the majority of that time.  It’s times like that that my job is not fair to Dr. K and the dogs.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Catching up – Aloha

A few weeks back, business took me to Hawai’i.  First off, when did they add an apostrophe to the name.  I’m thinking before the trip that it was maybe a Hawaiian thing, but when I get to the island I see the state spelling Hawaii and Hawai’i.  You’ll be glad to hear that it didn’t mess up my work or my short vacation.

I mention vacation as I took Dr. K along on this trip.  She was willing to put up with me being gone during the first few days of the trip.  Having the company pick up more than half of the tap for the trip really made it possible.

There’s not a lot to say about the trip.  On the days when I was working, Dr. K rented a bike and rode around Diamond Head and Honolulu.  We rode around the island (Oahu) one day from Waikiki to the North Shore and Hanauma Bay.  Another day we visited Pearl Harbor with the Arizona Memorial and USS Missouri.

The final morning was a real treat.  Doc Chako and the Wife came on vacation and happened to stay at the very same resort.  We met poolside and had a real nice visit, met the Chako kids and au pair.

Here are the best of the  pictures that I promised weeks ago.  Enjoy.




Hanauma Bay



The Missouri looking over the remains of the Arizona (from the beginning to the end of WWII)


The Arizona Memorial from the Missouri

I’m not sure what I did with the pictures from the top of Diamond Head.  I’ll post em when I find em.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Candidate v. President

Candidate Obama (18 Sept 2008):

"Senator McCain's first answer to this economic crisis was - get ready for it - a commission. That's Washington-speak for 'we'll get back to you later.'"

"Folks, we don't need a commission to spend a few years and a lot of taxpayer money to tell us what's going on in our economy," he continued. "We don't need a commission to tell us gas prices are high or that you can't pay your bills. We don't need a commission to tell us you're losing your jobs. We don't need a commission to study this crisis, we need a President who will solve it - and that's the kind of President I intend to be."

President Obama (18 Feb 2010):

Signed Executive Order:

“There is established within the Executive Office of the President the National Commission on
Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (Commission).”

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Booty Time!


Support Curtis in the 24 Hours of Booty

Join me in my extraordinary journey!

I will be participating in 24 Hours of Booty, a fundraising event for national and local cancer initiatives.

24 Hours of Booty (you’ve got to love that name) is The Official 24 Hour Cycling Event of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. 24 Hours of Booty is proud to support the Lance Armstrong Foundation as its national recipient. The LAF believes that in the battle with cancer, unity is strength, knowledge is power and attitude is everything. Founded in 1997 by cancer survivor and champion cyclist, Lance Armstrong, the LAF provides the practical information and tools people living with cancer need to live strong.

I don’t generally ask for contributions to charities, but this one is really important to me and my family.  If you could spare any amount, it will make a difference in someone’s life and you will feel good, guaranteed.  Just go to with your credit card at the ready and hit the “Support Curtis!” button.  Please donate This week to beat the fundraising deadline set by the organizers.

I’m completely serious about any amount. $1 will help.  $5 will help more.  Etc. 

Lastly, some of you own or run a business.  I’ll wear stuff to advertise for you for any donation.  Just comment below and I’ll get in touch with you about the details.

Thank you.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lost Vegas is Available

This is a book that I’ve been waiting to get for a year now.  Dr. Pauly (Paul McGuire) started this project the first year he went to cover the World Series of Poker.  We hope to get him on the Gambling Tales Podcast as soon as the current WSOP is over.  Stay tuned for that.  In the mean time, check out Lost Vegas at

Friday, May 28, 2010

Turning 50 in Vegas

That was my plan anyway.  Plans change.

The location has not changed.  The fact that everyone that knows me is invited to come along has not changed.  Only the dates have changed a little bit.

I’ll make this official:  I’ll be in Las Vegas from Thursday,October 21 until Monday, October 25.  Dr. K is also scheduled to attend.  I’ve promised her either Cher or MMA. (I know.  You’ll have to ask her.)  My current plan is to stay somewhere in the area of the Venetian.  I’m not skimping on the room, but if there is a much better deal on an upgraded room at the Mirage or Caesar's, I may stay there.  I’ll update when I make that reservation.

My birthday is actually October 28, but the actual date isn’t as important as some of my dearer friends being there.  A plus from what I was planning before is that we will be there over a weekend which will give us a better selection of shows and events.  I could have done the 28th to Nov. 1th, but that is halloween.  That will be more expensive and crazy.  I’ll be over-the-hill then so I won’t need that.

So that is pretty much it. I’d like to have a nice group dinner on either Friday or Saturday.  I’ll have to work that around the show schedule.  Otherwise, there won’t be many/any events.  It will be a come and have fun time.  Hope to see you there.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gambling Tales Podcast

Show 015 is out and it is our best yet.  Check it out:


Friday, May 14, 2010

Almost Live Blogging the Shuttle Launch

I haven’t had a wild hair in a long time, but I got a hold of one this week.  I’ve always wanted to see a big rocket blast off.  With the end of the shuttle program approaching and the future of the space program in doubt (no political commentary) my chances are likely to become limited.  So with work being slow (today’s the last day of that for a long while) and a high probability launch scheduled, I decided today was the day.

1:00 am (Charlotte) – Up and atom.  Throw everything in the car and hit the road.

4:30 am (somewhere between Savannah GA and Jacksonville FL) – First stop for gas and drinks.  There has been a good bit of construction but very little traffic.  I’m making good time.  I’m back on the road in 10 minutes.

8:40 am (Titusville, FL) – I arrive in town to find that the crowds are already gathering.  I try one very busy paid lot and they are only accepting cars with reservations at this point.  I continue on to find the Moose Lodge.  I pay $10 to park and use the lodge.  That lodge has a bar, pool table, bathroom, friendly folks, and a clear view of the launch.  Perfect.  It looks like I couldn’t have done any better had I planned.

9:00 am – One Moose gives me directions to the best diner in town for breakfast.  I arrive just before the line starts to form at the door.



12:08 – Wondering when the pre-game starts

1320 (T-1:00) – L:aunch Party











2:20 (t-0:00) LAUNCH!!!!

8:30 pm – Savannah Hilton Garden

This is where I ran out of gas.  The car did fine.  I just couldn’t give a good reason to keep driving as tired as I am.  Best to get a room and some sleep and get home safe in the morning.

I was really surprised at my reaction to the whole event.  With about a minute to go I could feel myself start to shake.  My mouth went dry and my heart really picked up the pace.  I was in awe as the ship came off the pad.  I’ve seen the video hundreds of times, but to see the ship on a column of flame that seems as bright as the sun and 3 or 4 times the length of the entire shuttle is unbelievable.  And it is all done without a sound from where we were.  You don’t hear the roar until 30-40 seconds after liftoff.  It was just awesome.

It has been a fantastic day.  There’s not many things that are so quick that is worth so much time and effort.  This was one of those things and I will, baring an unforeseen ending, always be glad that I did.  Check that bucket-list item.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sell Your Vote

for the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions.  Here’s how:

Vote for Tom and only Tom and make $$$$.

Note: this is a longshot and there won’t be much money once split if any at all, but there is no money asked for and no more personal information than your email address.  It is for real.  I’ve gotten that straight from Tom.  It think it will be fun to have a horse in the race, so to speak.


This year, the World Series of Poker is having a Tournament of Champions. Only 27 players will play and 21 of them must be voted in.

Here’s the deal.

You vote for me, Tom Schneider, and ONLY ME, and you will be part of the pool that will split half of what I win. First place pays $500,000. 50% of what I win will be split by people who have voted for me. If I win $500,000, $250,000 will be split by my voters. It’s that simple, and if I get voted in, I will be competing against only 27 players.

The site below is where you vote.

They will send you an email with a code in it. That code must be entered when voting.

After you have voted. Send this email to me and the verification email you receive from the WSOP site to and you will be part of the pool. I really would like to play in this tournament and your vote is very important to me. That’s why I’m paying for it.

One more important request. Please email this to any friends or family you have that you think might find it fun to own a piece of someone playing in the WSOP Tournament of Champions.

Please vote and then wish me luck.

Thanks again,

Tom Schneider
2007 WSOP Player of the Year

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A few signs from Heidelberg


When you don’t want something different:


Not a steak restaurant:


I’m just surprised that this one was almost all in English:


Hackteufel (means something like Devils Crossing).  It was the name of my hotel.  A sign over the door:


Some messages are clear - “Quit pissing on my door!”

That is all.

Blog Explosion

I managed 11 marginal posts in the first quarter of this year.  So far in April I’ve posted 18, er, 19 times and there are still 10 days to go.  I can’t say why I feel so much more like writing.  Travel helps.  I can’t say I really feel better though I don’t feel bad.  Taking pictures helps and that is something I’ve been ignoring for far too long.  I guess that I’m posting enough when I’m posting about posting.  Meta-posts count.

Monday, April 19, 2010

If an old friend asks…

to spend a little time, you should go.  I’m not talking about coming out for a beer with my and my crew.  Oh, I will be asking soon and you will make your own decision, but the folks who show up will have a good time.

I’m talking about a regret that I have.  Years ago, I had a friend named Bobby.  Bobby had a fraternal twin named Billy.  We really got to know each other during our senior year in high school and later in college at Carolina.  We ended up in the same dorm.  They didn’t drink so we didn’t spend nights out closing the bars, but we did spend quite a bit of time hanging out in their room.

I can’t remember which of them I followed to the basketball players dorm to get a bumper sticker signed for a handicapped child.  It seems more like a Billy thing.  That was a very interesting trip.  We stopped into Jimmy Black’s room and he was happy to sign.  He told us to wait and he would go get his roommate to sign as well.  He ducks into the bathroom and shortly thereafter, a totally naked James Worthy is standing in front of us asking for the pen.  I wish that memory was a bit more delable.

Bobby really saved my life when it came to calculus.  I started out doing great in class, but the further along the semester went, the worse my grades got.  Bobby tutored me and I squeaked by.  I never even had to ask.  That’s just the kind of guy is was.  We would ride to and from Charlotte some weekends.  They put up with my music as long as they could and then told me to change it as nicely as possible.

After college we went our separate ways.  I later ran into Bobby in Charlotte.  When he found out that I was working in Wilmington he made it clear that his job took him there often and that he would be calling me to come have a drink sometime soon.  And he did.

I was in my TV production career.  My job was putting together stories for a morning public interest show.  The show was on from 6-7 am five days a week.  Needless to say, I was early to bed and early to rise.  I was beat the evening that Bobby called.  I could have gone as it was still fairly early, but I postponed our meeting to another night.

A few weeks later, there was a story on the news at my station.  Robert Douglas Hurd had been shot by a jealous ex-boyfriend of a girl that Mr. Hurd was dating.  He was shot 6 or 7 times at close range with a .45 in a McDonalds parking lot around 8 am.  I wouldn’t get another chance to have a drink with that old friend.  Instead, I would host his family  at our TV station in Wilmington and attend a couple of half days of the murder trial.

I’ve seen Billy in the past few months.  We are both back in Charlotte and both making our way through life pretty well.  We’ve shared some laughs and I ask about his family, but I don’t mention Bobby even though he’s always there.  I don’t kid myself that having that drink would have changed his path or fate.  I do wish I had that one more memory to share and remember.  It was all so sudden.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

When it’s going bad…

Story of my night… (sigh)

We got it all in on the flop.  I’m a 9-to-1 favorite.



Well that was about the worst tournament that has even happened to me.  The coolers don’t get much worse than what I ran into tonight:

QQ – flop xQK – Miami Don holds KK (the only hand that would have been ahead)

5 hands later:

AK – All in – Call by L Johnson with KK

I’m in Germany so it’s 1 in the morning.  It took 20 minutes for me to bust out. I’ll ry again next week.  G’night. 


A friend who will remain nameless (just because he would rather I promote his shit) is participating in a spoken word performance in a couple of weeks.  The theme is “Sorry seems to be the hardest word.”  He already has some work on his blog and plans for more.

I don’t really count myself as a writer.  I have several friends who’s blems I’d be happy to call my own.  I can sting a sentence together and get a point across, but it usually lacks for timing or wit or the creativity that makes reading a pleasure.  That reflects a big part of my personality.  I’m usually more on the logical, straight ahead side.  But on the inside, my brain makes some connections in very odd ways.  Sometimes I get some really cool ideas and look brilliant.  Most times the result is garbage and is tossed before it ever starts the journey out of my mouth.  Other ideas pass the smell test and make it out only to melt into the stinking pile of poo that they are.

All that is leading up to an attempt to see what comes out when I try to put the ideas around the word ‘Sorry’ in this post.

Can hard be easy? Does say equal mean?

So easy and fun getting getting there

So easily seen.

Don’t see sorry coming

but easy to avoid

‘So sorry’ doesn’t lower us enough

Regrets sail into the void between us and float away

Apologies are much too long and I lose track

Insincere, sorry is the sledge in the old one two

Impossible to drop my guard and give it true

only for lack of try

True sorry need not be said

Sorry, not right now.  Too hard.

I wish it was better.  Sorry.

Casino Reports – Germany

I’ve spent the last couple of nights in Germany casinos.  It has done untold damage to my already frazzled sleep pattern, but such is my dedication to you, my loyal readers, to bring you the story.  In short, Germany casinos are very different than what I’m used to.


To start off, I had to get to the first casino.  I chose the most famous casino in Germany, the Speilbank Casino in Baden-Baden.  Getting there was a treat, probably better than actually being there, because the route from Heidelberg to Baden-Baden whet straight down the Autobahn.  I hit 200 Kph (about 125 Mph) once and cruised at 160 (100) which is probably being overly safe, but it’s still a hoot to look down at the lights to see 200 shining back at you.


I had been warned through my research that getting in wouldn’t be a simple as going into a Vegas shop.  For starters they have an entrance feel  I had to pay 3 € to enter.  Some of the better casinos have a strict dress code.  B-B is among the most strict requiring a jacket and tie on all the men.  I didn’t bring that type of clothing on this trip, but they had jackets and ties available to rent.  I cost me 11€ for jacket and tie. I also knew I’d be paying 4€ for parking, so I’m down 18€ before I even get in the door.


It was a very nice door.  Elegant is the word that comes to mind.  From the high artistically painted ceilings to the huge chandeliers, to the art covered walls and the plush carpeting, this place oozed class.  Also unlike Vegas, this place was very quiet.  There was no yelling.  No loud machines.  No music.  They had a stately atmosphere that reminded me of the early James Bond flicks.  Unlike the Bond flicks, there was an almost total lack of drink service. 

There was also far to little room for playing.    Seems to be for the rich, not the masses.The limits were high, but not outrageously so.  There were 4 French roulette tables (one zero), 2 blackjack tables (one 5€ min and one 10€ min), 3 poker tables (though only 2 in operation), and one ‘ultimate hold-em’ table which really seemed out of place.  There was no baccarat.

The blackjack table were very odd.  Each station had three  circles and rectangular ‘twins’ bet area.  I quickly learned that spectators can bet with player by placing their chips in one of the circles.  The twins bet hit when the player got a pair on the first 2 cards.  It pays 6:1 (ouch).  I couldn’t believe how many players played it.  Here is the closest I could find to this layout:

BlackJack Table. Friends having a good time!

Players can’t split pairs and apparently can’t hit hard 17.  Every time I got to 17 or more, the dealer wouldn’t even ask if I wanted to hit and went on to the next player.  Dealer stands on all 17s and blackjack pays the standard 3:2.  Each table had at lease 15 railbirds at all times.  They could have filled 3 times the number of tables than they had.  A lot of folks were happy to bet on other players.

I had to wait an hour for a seat. Once seated with about 20 min bets in front of me, I did okay.  I played profitably for about an hour.  Then a new dealer came to the table.  He took 4 of the next 5 hands.  5th was a push. I was back to even and stood up at that point.

The two poker tables that were in operation were both 5-10€ no-limit tables, way too high for my roll.  They were both back in the glass enclosed smoking room.  This room also held on blackjack table and the ulitmate texas holdem table.  The poker tables were also behind a velvet rope, so you couldn’t even watch the action very well.  I just moved along.

The biggest surprise was the overwhelming popularity of roulette.  This is only a marginally better game than the total rip-off american version (5.26% v. 2.7% house edge) because they have one zero on the board in this version instead of 2 for the american version.  Half of the tables in the casino were roulette table and they were busy.

Bad, Bad Durkheim

Last night took me to Bad Durkheim, only about 45 minutes from my hotel.  This casino had a much more relaxed feel, though it was tiny compared to American versions.  The whole place was only 5000 square feet with another 1000 square feet closed off for renovation.  They had 3 big roulette tables, 2 blackjack tables, and 3 poker tables.

The roulette tables each had 4 tux clad men running the table: two chip pushers, a wheel spinner, and a boss man in a raised chair.  I kept thinking that the boss man was ready to shine some shoes by the looks of the chair.

The blackjack layout was more normal with no twins bet and a single rectangle in front of each player.  However, this square did the same job as the circles in B-B.  Spectators were reaching over players’ to put money on one of the four corners of the rectangle with the middle reserved for the players bets.  It was a mad house.

Since two of the poker tables were 2-4€ no limit (yea, not 2-5 as we are used to), I was able to entertain the hope of playing.  I put my name on the list and was #5 for the low limit game.  It took an hour and a half for me to get my seat and that only left 2.5 hours in the evening with which to play.  The closed the gaming at 2 am.

I sat down with 300€ and proceeded to have an epic fail of a run of cards.  I won 2 hands in the 2.5 hours, neither of which were at showdown.  It was a small miracle that I left with any chips at all.  I probably wouldn’t have had I known about the closing time.  It was still fun and I get my european poker cherry busted.  Winning can wait for next time.  I’ll need to learn my German numbers before I try that again.

Even they speak German at the table, they still use the English terms for most everything in the game including big blind, small blind, flop, turn, river, and donkey.  Okay, I made up the last one.

That will be it for my casino visits for this trip.  It was worth it even if my luck was somewhat mixed.

This one is BIG

I’ve already pimped it once, but this is too big to leave it at that.  The Battle of the Bloggers Tournament 5 (BBT% for those who can’t use the shift key correctly) starts today.


Actually, for me it starts tomorrow.  Because I am in Europe, the start time of 1900 EDT translates to 0200 Germany time.  Oh the sacrifices I make for the blogger community.

I’ve written to him personally to say thanks to AlCantHang, but Mr. Hang deserves public adulations for this one.  I’m sure that over the next few Sunday’s, Monday’s, and Wednesday’s that my dreams of playing in the WSOP will die horrible deaths.  I still plan to enjoy the ride.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Morning Stroll in Heidelberg

I am so freaking spoiled that I get to do this just for working.


This guy is holding a mirror asking “See the Monkey?”


View from the Castle


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Looks like the guy from Monopoly as a gargoyle.


Favorite restaurant (Vetter), my hotel (Hackteufel) and the iconic bridge.  Sweet setup.

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Note the pattern in the sidewalk in front of the Cafe Gundel.DSC_1913

Ever wonder what happens when you blow half a tower off then let it sit for a hundred years? 

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