Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Steps in Parenting: Try or try not

The bargain bin alarm clock with the red tag of clearance half torn showed a blurry 4:37am as the clock puncher rolled out of bed to start the morning ritual.  The schedule returned to watching Sportscenter as the best team in baseball can only draw 17,000 to their home games despite giving away tickets.  But, on my mind wasn't the inability to avoid rather sizable obstructions like walls and refrigerators while trying to splice together a quick breakfast.  It was another parenting lesson.

Two days ago while still hit hard by the moonlighting as a online poker reporter, there was some fatherly duties to attend to for the precious daughter.  Dentist at 4pm proved to be a breeze as I answered questions as to why my eyes looked like I just ran over my dog and decided to knock away the pain by watching Lassie re-runs on Nick at Night while downing a handle of Captain.  No, "just some extra work that I'm proud of doing and hope those who read it get some pleasure from the words" was my reply.  After the teeth were whitened to an ivory sheen, the Spongebob Squarepants toothbrush acquired, and an extra prize gift grabbed from the long forgotten basket in which she took a piece of twine that was wrapped as a "present".

No idea, I don't claim to understand the female specie.  Anyway, she happy with said rope, I was happy she didn't try to spit the industrial strength mint flavored toothpaste all over the 42" flat screen or jerk her head while the dentist was probing her mouth with a metal pick.

Happy would end about two hours later in an elementary school gym where after getting dressed up a leotard and tights it was time for dance class.  A see-if-she-like-it type thing put on by the community as I still hold wishes she'll take up volleyball or softball and grab a college scholarship after being named to the all-state team three times (not likely but one can dream).  For the first half she performed gracefully as I peered over the top of the new book I got from Lulu the other day.  "The Chosen" by John Hartness with the picture of my favorite kilt-wearing blogger on the back, and I got to the part where Adam and Cain reconcile their differences over an AlCantHang-sized bender (side note:  Happy Birthday to the original walking party himself)  and are heading to New Orleans to confront Eve. 

My son's PSP went down due to lack of batteries and the charger was left on the kitchen table as he pulled the book down to inform me that someone was being less than cooperative in the dance line.  I didn't need to even look to figure out it would be my purple spandexed spawn refusing to getting up despite plees from the community-ed instructor who was probably getting $25 for putting on a fake smile for 50 minutes while dancing to Kidz Bops 14.  Sure enough my daughter with a mix of my stubbornness and my wife's fierceness sat on her ass while the 14 other little girls twirled for their parents.

Since these was not a first offense, she knew what was going to happen.  "Wyatt, go politely tell your sister to come here" I said in a calm voice that rivaled The Godfather's right before the violin music came out and someone got whacked.  To my surprise she came right over, sparing her the potential embarrassment of going in front of all these parents while I tried to catch her in front of the room.  I told her she knew what would happen, and to my surprise she didn't cry as I carried her to the car 15 minutes before schedule.

To tie in as I buckled her to her new big girl car seat booster, I looked back at the boy and told him about his "less than stellar" (copyright Joe Speaker) performance in his Saturday soccer game that made Manny Ramirez look like Pete Rose, if I saw him do the same thing in Tuesday's game I would walk across the pitch and carry him home as I have just about zero shame.  Fast forward to yesterday's performance in which the team won their sixth straight game 7-0, he played with a extra kick, challenging balls and not giving up after the first try.  Running up and down the field, abeit bunching up as mob-styled play prevails at this age, but showing speed versus the light gait of a snail shown on Saturday. 

Nothing makes a parent more proud of their offspring to see them try.  Some may force their children to "be the best", and forget those little legs may not have the genetics to become the next AAU all-star, but to allow them to smile and recap the shot on goal that missed by a time zone but to someone who hasn't scored all season got that chance, was a boost to a kid normally regulated to video games.  Perhaps this is something to build on, a reason to go outside and practice a bit with the under-coordinated father and maybe build some skills.

Even if he doesn't, he made a dad proud.  Now, I just need to figure out the other one...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Coming out of my WCOOP shelter

**Warning this gets rambling and make no sense, much like Paris Hilton's existance or my daughter's tantrum at dance class last night which was trigger by UV40 rays and lack of gummi bears in the school's vending machines**

Returning to normalcy.

Or what I once thought as normal, the shower, breakfast, 9 to 5 job, the cube, commute, dinner, ball game, kids, bed.  Many stick themselves on this wheel and don't stop to break it enough until the wheel spins too fast and their lives become a really boring reality show that would get worse ratings than a Tiger Woods talk show on fidelity.  Every September for the past three years, I have been invited to enjoy sleep deprivation, breakfast at two in the afternoon, and a break in my "normal" routine while playing the part of online chronicler for the PokerStarsBlog along side some of the best in the business (Otis, Dr. Pauly, Change100, Shamus, Jen Newell, F-Train, and a computer program called Kevmath who will take over the world by 2014 or at least break the record for most posts at 2+2 and Twitter).

On most nights/mornings last week I sat on my couch drafting about the latest tournament and trying to find a little something interesting about its players.  One was quite easy when Team PokerStars pro Jason Mercier used full-on aggression plus a little run-good at a final table to take down his first WCOOP bracelet.  It gave a little something extra to root for going into the wee-hours of the morning.  Unlike Otis and Change100 who had to battle labor disputes and roaming dogs on the way to work in Buenos Aires, I just had to pack up the kids, replenish my supply of Wheat Thins or Triscuits, and battle dozing off before the six tables hit.

But it wasn't about the poker, it wasn't about the millions being thrown around during the WCOOP or the extra paycheck that will be redistributed in Las Vegas over at Cheetah's, Gold Coast's Pai Gow pit, and most likely the Geisha Bar at Imperial Palace during the WPBT in December (you have signed up for the Up For Poker last longer challenge correct???  Free money people, and you can laugh at G-Rob after busting him!!).  No, working the WCOOP is about friendship, its about stepping outside the comfort zone, it's about being called upon to do something that isn't drafted in some dusty 15 volume tome of corporate suck.  Here's the story, go write it.  That's it (and of course there is some structure but mostly to get the maximum amount of readership and so the good writers of the blog have future work).  Unlike every job I've ever held from planting trees at parks, to frying frozen tacos at Jack-in-the-Box, to sitting in a secluded mail room with millions of invoices everything had structure with no sense of creativity.  No injecting sour cream in the tacos to make them taste better, or finding a new filing system for the invoice, just do your job like a robot and move on.  Granted my career and schooling choice of becoming an Accountant frowns upon "creativity" as seen when Accountants *ahem* use there skill to "find" and "report" debits and credits in ways GAAP does not intend.  Nonetheless, I enjoy finding the numbers and putting the in the right places, much like a final table story at the PokerStarsBlog, I have been proud to be a part of the team for the past three years. 

The artist formally known as Poker Shrink, now just "The Shrink" talked about "normal" in a blog post that smacked me a bit as I overwork myself to retain my little world of normal, but instead of the upper-middle income family he speaks about in the post "Dis-ease", my world of going back to school full-time while holding down a full-time job, two kids with multiple activities, a wife, and a part-time job that keeps me glued together, I work hard just to survive.  There are no real "extras" except the occasional jaunt to meet up with my dearest friends and authors across the nation.  Whether it be in Las Vegas, G-Vegas, Chicago, or a $100 cab ride to Philly's airport while still trying to figure out why I craved a TastyKake and a WaWa sandwich, these things keep me "normal".  A little hip check to the routine keeps everyone fresh, and without the above, I would sink into the same abyss my co-workers at my "normal" job suffer.  They are set in their ways, counting the days to retirement, some even with a little clock that has five years, 345 days, 21 hours and 15 mintues on it. 


Sure they're older but why live to die?  Despite the shit hitting the fan yesterday during 24 hours of nothing going right including flushing half of my online bankroll in the toilet, paying for a $48 slab of lasagna then blowing up with the wife as she picked it up when I explained I ordered the single serving and she got the wrong order, then having both kids decide to mimic daddy's deaf ears and filter only for sentences containing:  "treat", "play", "movie".  My mind went spinning for most of Sunday afternoon into Monday, but I finished up the final write up around 8:30am Monday morning, calmly put together a skillet (no, THAT kind of skillet) and let the crazy wash off before returning to "normal" today.

Hugs were given, invoice for the work sent in, and Excel spreadsheets about to filled by the college student who is now done with 2/11 quarters from fulfilling a hole that I never wanted to admit was there.  The degree won't make me "normal" but it will push me to continue being weird by trying something new and giving a reason to not settle for my present cube. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Up for Poker - Luckbox Challenge Act II

Ok, ten or twenty people who drop by my little place here.  It's a far reach when this used to be a poker blog that morphed into a personal diary/poker/parenting place to vent.  The WPBT Winter Classic is kicking off it's seventh (?!?!!?!?) year of existance with a huge bang.  No, some lucky blogger is not getting married way above their means again (looking at you Mr. Buddy Dank). 

Instead Otis, CJ, and G-Rob the self-proclaimed Frolf champion of the G-Vegas upper east side past McDonald's but not before Barley's Taproom have put together the biggest promotion yet for our still growing community.  Yes, poker is a fad and that fad has faded, except that it hasn't, and barring some heavy DOJ action between now and December, let us welcome the second edition of the Up for Poker/Luckbox Challenge!

You and two other degenerates.  Yes, degenerates, we don't take kindly to straight laced white-collar folk around here, leave that shit at home to be a good parent or spouse, come to Vegas to punish your liver and laugh with friends without volume/social graces control.  PokerStars despite the WCOOP raging on (I'm on for Friday's O8 tourney and working nightly (morningly?) next week, got together a package for us scribes of the four suits that will have me foregoing any prop bets that involve myself staying awake for 48 hours in Vegas.  Other prop bets on bar games will be gladly accepted.

$3,000 prize pool for a team of three to enter (by shipping CJ the cash or PokerStars transfer).  My team is pretty much set so you will not have the pleasure of me finishing second-to-last unless you a) like the Vikings and can name at least five Vikings quarterbacks not named Favre (my favorite will always be "Touchdown" Tommy Kramer) b) had the pleasure of going to work while its -10 or below for a solid two weeks  c) plan on tilting Yankees fans when we win the World Series this year! 

Minnesota homer much?  Yes.  It's who I am, but I still refuse to eat lutefisk or tell an Ole and Sven joke.

$500 Hammer Challenge!  Still play Grubby's hammer like it's 2006?  Get rewarded!  $50 to the first POST-FLOP hammers to take down a pot.  This should lead to some interesting first and second blind level post-flop play which will probably get someone Pauly's copy of Gigli.  If you find me sober, please be kind and order me a wine (or a Cap'n Coke is always accepted).  I play sober poker like Paris Hilton's cocaine stash and legs, open for all to see.

O.G. challenge - there were 14 original players in the WPBT at Sam's Town, some of which arrived like the rock stars they are in a limo.  Knock them out, buy them a drink, tell them to peddle their segway ala Tony G outta here, and take their trinket to CJ in exchange for some more cash.

It's 85 days to my birthday when I touchdown in McCarran that Wednesday and hopefully retain lifeforces without ending up in the Nevada desert as another sad sap tale of degeneracy gone wrong.

I don't know who will be there for birthday shots, I don't know where I'll end up doing my usual disappering act, but come noon on December 11th at the very classy Aria poker room, my presence will be with friends who have given me more than they'll ever know.  Check out April's WPBT facebook page for more details on the tourney and buy your damn ticket already! 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Accounting for thongs

Why I'm writing a mere four hours after finishing up my first leg of ten recaps for the 2010 WCOOP at PokerStarsBlog is beyond me.  Something piqued my interest while getting gas before work and before long I drafted the bestest blog post EVAR!

Yeah, must like my dreams where I'm a stallion in bed listening to Anna Paquin and Jessica Biel scream out my online name and take pots off name branded poker pros half-crocked on Captain and Coke in Bobby's Room at the Belliagio, the post sounded better as the meter on the pump hit north of $40.00 and the cashier who was probably as awake as I, reminded me to pay inside.  But, across two islands of gas pumps was a guy in a non-descript car with overalls and a patch with his name on it.  It said "Steve" in red stitching as he probably worked in the nearby industrial park specializing in putting things together or repairing them for folks like myself who have a comparable power tool dexterity of a zebra.  Steve drove off while I purchased a much needed energy drink after finishing up this morning's Event #13 final table wrap and heading in for a full day at the office with Event #16 awaiting me when I return home in ten hours.

It hit me after seeing Steve as to why I returned to school.  More money from a better job sounds a like a cop-out and it is.  Money should never been someone's driver for lofty aspirations, unless you're a poker player outside of a friendly home thus money is the only reason you should be sitting down.  No, an enlightened bank account didn't get me to go back and learn how to separate partnership's capital accounts with salary and interest when one partner puts up X amount of money and the other puts up Y amount (which is less than X) while Mr. X works 50 hours per week at the business and Mr. Y spends more time at the local rub and tug while claiming to be networking. 

Sadly, it was not for my family and friends.  As I give ever little ounce of myself to my two kids and wife along with dear friends who's followed my sappy tale of woe here for nearly six years, there a little piece of me that is finishing up quarter two of 11 towards my bachelor's.

I want to be able to do something.

Steve the mechanic can probably hop under a car or machine press and fix the problem because of past knowledge and knowhow.  I can tell you in under four seconds how many outs you have with three board cards and if the guy in the nine seat is drunk enough to call you.  I can whip up a simple database or fancy spreadsheet, maybe make a few people laugh with attempts of humor and self-pity while having the writing amplitude of a half eaten Pringle.  No, I wanted more.  And I feel selfish now that it took Steve to make me realize why I'm lugging around those textbooks, staying up late to complete computer lab assignment when my head should be next to my wife's. 

I want people to come to me for help, and I want to be able to sit down with a tax return, or ledger and just let the number flow much like my words seem to do in satisfactory ways while writing about poker.  Note, I LOVE writing about poker, I LOVE the game and will never lose that, but becoming an Accountant or at the very least having an accounting degree means the world to me.  Laugh if you will, accounting is a noble profession in my mind, but it's not going to get the ladies La Perla lacy underthings saturated (I'd plug in "moist panties" here but a good friend of mine says those are the two worst words in the English language).  Some people were built to inspire, others to annoy, and me, I just want to do.  I want to be Steve, minus the grease, better pay, and some stock options so I can retire before my Viagra years kick in.

Nine quarters from now we'll see if that pocket protector with my name etched in midnight blue is waiting for me.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

From Duluth With Love

With five days of zero work responsibilities and just school to worry about, a refreshing trip to the trailer cabin and North Shore were in order. If someone were from out-of-state and had a few days to putter around our flyover state, I would suggest heading straight up north for the North Shore. Rich in history, the edges of Lake Superior not only offer up gorgeous views but antique shopping and a hidden gem for micro-brew lovers.

We weren’t able to head further up north than Duluth but our friends managed a day at Gooseberry Falls with its over 100 foot drop that blows the Minnehaha Falls out of the water with its surrounding forest views.

Image from

For the beer drinkers, Fitger’s Brewhouse (and 4-star hotel) is a must. My suggestion is to try a flight of samplers, and request the Hercules if it’s available. You most likely cannot get a growler of the Herc, but the El Nino Double Hopped IPA or Big Boat Oatmeal Stout will tame your tongue once you return from these lumberjack-esque lands.

We’re working our way from the top down so as you enter Duluth with its taconite loading docks for ships heading out onto Lake Superior be sure to bring an appetite and some cash for shopping. Little niche shops of handcrafted items, touristy Nordic wear, and antiques are spread out along Canal Street. My family and I checked out the tour of a perma-docked ship the S.S. William A. Irvin. Our guide with a group of 20 had a little lack of volume control but was an encyclopedia ship knowledge after spending 30 plus years virtually living on ships like this one. He easily guided us through the captain’s quarters, explained how the crew managed to sleep ten feet from the engine room, and how his girlfriend saved his job as a porter from a fire-happy Chef (she’s the daughter of the ship’s owner). For just $11.50 a piece (kids free!) we got to see an IMAX movie (Dinosaurs, was decent for its archeological perspective) and go on this guided boat tour.

After checking out the pier with huge freighter full of taconite pellets going out, it was time for Grandma’s and its famous cheap pitchers of booze. Back in the day when my legs cooperated and a young volleyball player was able to jump high enough to hit the tip of the end poles, we would meander over to Grandma’s at the end of Minnesota’s biggest volleyball tournament and enjoy $3 pitchers of Kami’s and Long Island Iced Teas. Today they cost $5, still a bargain as they have added live bands and better food to the mix while their staple Bonottas still rule the menu.

After the long day it was time to head back to the Cities for life back on the grid as I started to take in the poker news I’ve been missing like Durrrr vs. jungleman12’s (check here for the scoop from Dr. Pauly's post at Full Tilt’s Poker From the Rail blog) new staple of degeneracy as another Durrrr challenge takes off as Dwan’s first challenge against Antonius winds down (finally).

And of course, yours truly was taking in the news from the WCOOP, which I’ll be on the team for my third year of coverage. First assignment is tomorrow afternoon’s Event #13 PLO8 6-Max One Rebuy, One Add-on with a $200,000 guarantee. And that will dribble into Friday’s Event #16 Pot Limit Omaha 6-Max. Hmmmm, it seems I have the degen tourneys maybe I should have snagged a couple more of Fitger’s growlers to bring home.