Friday, December 09, 2011

Play Solid Poker

To become a profitable poker player when you are playing on Poker Stars you need to know which table image you give off to your opponents. If you are seen as a loose player, it means more people will call you more often, according to the pros at When this is the case, you need to learn how to use this to your advantage. Knowing what type of table image you project is key. If you want to move up levels, you need to know exactly what hand your opponent thinks you have, as well as know what hand your opponent can call you with. A good way to practice this is to play for free on today. For example, if a tight player raises in early position, the likelihood is he has a very strong hand, and most players would fold, unless they also have a big hand. Being able to master these poker fundamentals, as well as other skills you can find on PlaySolidPoker will help you improve you game and hopefully take you up a level.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WPBT 2011: Hold On

Ah yes, it's Carnie, Wendy, and Chynna before she became a WWF wrestler, Playboy model, and porn star (don't look up the last one you may need a Sham-wow full of industral-grade bleach to wash those images away.

Good morning for one last time before the annual WPBT takes over Las Vegas trip, like the Muppets Take Manhattan only smaller buildings and more drinking.  Not sure if I'll ever "mature" as the gray stubble shows up in my bathroom mirror more often these days, but that's just an age thing and cannot be stop unless I find Jean Claude Van-Damme's time machine and tell my 16 year old self to buy some Apple stock and stop drinking tequila sunrises during parties because its not attacting the ladies like he thinks it is.

Can you tell I haven't slept much?  Excellent, we can be friends again.

To see the friends that I hold most dear that I can't hold since they are selfish enough to live in far away lands like Milwaukee, Greenville, foreign countries such as California, and something called Can-a-da.  Never was good at geography, advanced calculus, or making pie crust.  We will rock the town once again, to cheer those running, whether it be with 40,000 others in the Las Vegas half-marathon, or from the police after trying to motorboat the Eastern Bloc tall blonde pai gow dealer at 2am from the Gold Coast who doubles as a high-end escort that specializes in something called Nipple Eroticism. 

Yes, kids it time to take down the cowboys at the table, cheer for Whiplash, and try to pack years of friendship into four days of degeneracy.  My plane touches down around six tomorrow night, and once again I hope to be seated in first class making my money back on the free libations trying to keep up with the sloshed housewive of a car tire baron that does nothing but watch Ren and Stimpy re-runs and yells PAI GOW at random times.

Hold on for one more day.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

WPBT Time 2011: The Race for the Stella

Wasn't Kim Karadishan still a blushing bride on Sept. 15th?

My story of busy, busy, busy do not need to be retold but the announcement of the WPBT and my immediate if not sooner acceptance to subject myself to good food, better friends, and comfy wheelchairs took place nearly three months ago.

This space along with getting back to the gym and curing stupidity will all happen as soon as my college agrees that I rule and hands over that piece of paper that signifies that I can in fact sink 10 straight beer pong shots while completing the end-year journal entries for a parent and a foreign subsidiary that uses a different currency.

Monte Carlo will be home base this year as they blessed me with a redonkulous rate thanks to the birthday efforts of me, Otis, GRob, F-Train, Doc Jeff, and Absinthetics around of table of Pai Gow betting some chips over the course of several hours upon lifting our collective heads off the felt notices only a couple of guys from Brooklyn playing blackjack on a nearby table and vacuum cleaners sucking up the lost souls.

This year's activites:  Golf, Food (off strip for the first time ever), Poker, Pai Gow, Drinks, Beer, More Beer, if I can find it the finish line for the Las Vegas half marathon to hand out well-deserved beers to WPBT'ers and a potential future in-law as my brother's girlfriend's brother mentioned to me that he is running with the chick that did her last half marathon in 1:11.  Oh dear.

See you in five days.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Future of Blogging: Viable Media Outlet or Online Personal Diary

Advanced Composition.  Tough course, but opened my eyes and keyboard to some new twists to include while I'm writing.  If you'd like a gander at my final paper which is relevant to blogging and might be quite TLDNR for most, for others I hope its up to your standards of reading my words here and elsewhere.

Warning! ACHTUNG! CUIDADO!  This is not in APA-format so if you require such things and are not my professor, I suggest you ask for an Irish Hot Chocolate next time you're at Starbucks.

On with the show:

Titled:  The Future of Blogging:  Viable Media Outlet or Online Personal Diary?

    Just fourteen years ago a man named Peter Merholz broke up the word “weblog” to bring the world a new era in writing that played off the evolving usage of the internet. Little would people know that random musing on message boards and personal websites would turn into a viable source of journalism and profits. Today, there are over 152 million blogs in existence (Pingdom, 2011) where a person can learn about artificial limbs from a scientist, read the adventures of a first-time mom in suburban Los Angeles, or catch up on the latest video game rankings. But, have blogs become too cumbersome in the newest age of instant news (Twitter and Facebook)? Will they continue to bring debate to an open forum? Will blogs remain a viable way to writers to earn a living? As shown by the amount of major media outlets that continue to drive web-based advertising and hire bloggers, the medium of blogging will continue to a viable route for aspiring journalists, subject matter experts, and amateur writers to get their voices heard and paid for their words.

    The road to blogging for money is a long and treacherous one for those wanting to cash in on their labor. Many factors come into play for writers seeking a paycheck or recognition for their contribution towards a certain subject. Being an expert in a certain subject matter is often the road to becoming a paid blogger as search engines such as Google and Yahoo! look for key words and list the webpages according to their importance on the subject at hand. As David Hall from Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Inc. explains “To really understand the methodologies that are used to achieve top rankings, we should first put ourselves in the shoes of the engineers at Google. When a user types a keyword or phrase into the Google search box, that user is requesting that the search engine returns a list of webpages that will provide the answer or information the user is looking for” (Hall, 2011). Hall is explaining the phrase “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear, does it make a noise?” as it pertains to blogging. If no one knows you are writing, does it matter what and how polished your content is? Blogging is not all about drafting the next Hemingway novel, or banging out a 20 page presidential election synopsis, it is about gathering readers to you. Buried within those 152 million blogs may be the next Edward R. Murrow, Einstein, or F. Scott Fitzgerald putting out content that would land the person behind their laptop a Nobel prize or a fat publishing contract, but if no one is attracted to the web site how do you get a start?

    This author makes some side cash from a job for an online poker site which employs several bloggers to write wraps (or recaps) for their major tournaments. To get to this point, I spent several years writing about poker for a personal blog with no pay, no advertising dollars, nothing to motive myself except for my love of poker. Then, a small job opened up writing poker content at $5 a post, which was gladly welcomed as my name started to be included in this niche group of poker writers who were also being courted to cover the tournament circuits such as the World Poker Tour, and grandest stage of them all, the two-month long World Series of Poker held in Las Vegas, Nevada each year. Fast forward to today where there are several companies within this small community of gamblers, which employ these writers full-time to travel around the world and cover both live and online tournaments. Another success story would come from local Minneapolis blogger Aaron Gleeman who started back in 2002 as a personal site to muse about his favorite pastime of baseball, and specifically the Minnesota Twins. After showing his expert grasp on the subject as well as entertaining non-baseball talk for years gathering several thousand followers, and appearing on different forms of media such as local sports talk radio and podcasts, he was tapped by the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) sports division to write for their baseball blog called “HardballTalk” @

    Success stories are easy to find since they are front-and-center but knowing how those success stories came about is the key for future bloggers if they wish to find their way into making blogging a potential career. Having a passion for the subject matter is the number one key to good blogging and the easiest way to get noticed. Much like many literature and creative writing books will outline for those striving to improve their skill, without knowledge and an extra drive to write about the subject, the person reading the blog will feel that energy of lack thereof while pouring though a blogger’s recap of a recent scrapbooking convention. Anyone can write, anyone can start a blog as all it takes is an email address while signing up at one of the many blogging platforms such as Blogger, Moveable Type, or WordPress but if the blogger’s intent is to make living from their words, having the drive to continue writing well when no money is on the line is the key to connecting to and growing an audience.

    Not so fast, says Nick Denton whose name is synonymous with blogging as he owns several large complication blogs under his Gawker media umbrella such as: sport site “Deadspin”, “Lifehacker”, “Jezebel”, and the self-named entertainment/celebrity following blog “Gawker”. In a short interview by Dan Duray of the New York Observer, Denton says “I don’t really see a blog business” (Duray, 2011). Other writers such as The Awl’s Choire Sicha chimed in the same article “It always has been an embarrassing word, first it was embarrassing because bloggers were these dirty, horrible people, and then it was embarrassing because our grandmas have blogs, God bless them” (Duray, 2011). This is the slippery slope that bloggers can fall into, once you plan to crank out content, you need to stay on top of the subject of which is the source of the blog or the hundreds of other bloggers out there covering the same topic will shadow your work, thus devaluing anything published. People like Kevin from can give you insight on how to achieve the goal of a profitable blog. ““Natural” bloggers find the task of starting a new blog, finding guest posters (to alleviate everyday work), and managing their collection of blogs easy. They have a set of procedures that they follow and adapt to achieve periodic goals. Overnight, they hadn’t become perfect, but by evolving their schedules and knowledge on each step of blogging, it became easier to match each of their previous goals and expand upon their previous figures” (Kevin, 2008). But, even a well-put together blog is useless in today’s blogging arena if the content is not fresh and unique, and despite using Kevin’s nine highlights of a successful blog and blogger: “perseverance, time and content management, the looks, contemplation, don’t exhaust yourself, honesty, good social and networking skills, persistence, and pessimism and/or optimism” (Kevin, 2008) a blogger can find themselves without an audience and without direction if they do not catch that lucky break of advertising dollars or getting a contract to write for a larger blog.

    Another hurdle for bloggers is overcoming the negative connotations from traditional media and the public in general. Take noted sportswriter Rick Reilly’s comment about bloggers from a Newsday article republished by Deadspin’s A.J. Daulerio “If you suddenly change who you are, the other half will hate you. I don't really care what people holding down couch springs do or say" (Daulerio, 2009). This is the public’s perception of a blogger cranking out content in their parent’s basement drinking cases of Mountain Dew while playing World of Warcraft for 18 hours a day. But, even the skeptical Reilly has come along for the blogging ride with regular postings as a “columnist” at, and traditional media noticing the power of social media outlets being viable ways to get their voices heard with the decline of newspaper readership and advertising revenue. showed a huge drop in newspaper revenue from $37.8 billion in 2008 and $27.5 million in 2009 while online advertising revenue continues to increase (Parr, 2010). With these sorts of trends, bloggers, tweeters, and those who know their way around Facebook will continue to become more and more valuable to companies that are moving away from traditional media outlets such as television, newspapers, and magazines.

    Even the newly created social media writers are split up into different competitions between each other for media dollars and contracts. Writers on Twitter need to be up to the millisecond with trending information in order to stand apart from the 60 million accounts that are actively being used. Also, unless you are Shaquille O’Neal, Lady Gaga, or another famous celebrity, finding real followers to your Twitter feed could be too daunting to continue establish an online presence in that form alone. Same with Facebook, which is generally used to connect friends, unless your friends are in the media or publishing business, getting a six-figure contract from McGraw-Hill from a status update about a weekend keg party does not seem likely. The savvy blogger however can use these medium and conjunction with their blog and self-advertise. For example, noted blogger and co-creator of (which is owned by ESPN) Bill Simmons can tweet about the most recent articles on the website, drawing traffic from those who read him, or those who read him and re-tweet the links to their readers creating a reverse pyramid of readers and reaching thousands instead of relying on Google or Yahoo! to put those blog postings at the top of their key word rankings. Simmons could also hop over to his Facebook account and post a link with a description of best-selling author Chuck Klosterman’s latest musings on to entice those who do not use Twitter on a daily basis and capture even more readers.

    While blogs have lost ground to people’s fascination with news in under 140 keystrokes and uneducated opinions, they provide things that other social media mediums cannot. Blogs can be geared specifically to the writer’s content, whether is it a company website describing the latest products, or starving artist showing off his grasp on dark poetry. The freedom to shape those words and the message going out with no restrictions will allow blogs to live on as Facebook and Twitter become mediums to draw readers to blogs as sort of funneling system towards the real money maker. Without blogs as a foundation in the social media package, people are left with half quotes and no content, like having the ingredients for the perfect mixed drink without a glass to pour it in and drink from.


Daulerio, A. (2009, February 20). Rick Reilly Still Unimpressed With Blogs, But Wants Everyone To Know He Actually Likes The Sports Fella. Retrieved September 9, 2011, from

Duray, D. (2011, February 01). The End of Blogging. Retrieved August 30, 2011, from The New York Observer:

Graveris, D. (2011, January 1). Revolution and the Future In Blogging World - Art Direction Trend. Retrieved August 27, 2011, from

Hall, D. (2011, August 15). Relevance and Importance for SEO. Retrieved August 27, 2011, from

Kevin. (2008, June 16). Principles to Achieve Blogging "Perfection". Retrieved August 27, 2011, from

Parr, B. (2010, March 26). The Dire State of the Newspaper Industry [STATS]. Retrieved September 9, 2011, from

Pingdom. (2011, January 12). Internet 2010 in Numbers. Retrieved September 9, 2011, from

Schwendiman, H. (2007, August 21). Direction, goals, and blogging. Retrieved August 27, 2011, from

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Not back, never left

Also, not a post.

Finals week.

WCOOP reporting.

Three soccer games.

Annual golf outing with father-in-law.

By Sunday.

It's a Red Bull hold the vodka week until Saturday night/Sunday morning when WCOOP Event #39 H.O.R.S.E. finishes up in the wee hours of the morning and it is time to relax (well, until next Wednesday and start over again).

I was told I could sleep when I die, I just hope not to die sleeping.  Work hard, play harder, make sure you have a luggage rack/wheelchair to get you home.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

On the Road to Danbury

If you told me four years ago I would still be blogging and sometimes getting paid for it there's a good chance my off-key laugh would have been directed towards your face.  If you told me I would be writing a six-to-eight page research paper for an advanced composition class that I asked to be in, on the path to a bachelor's degree, I'd ask for a hit of whatever you were smoking.

Despite the next four weeks being the most crammed, stressful, busy, in-need-of-a-clone time of the year, this space is needed to let the air out of my belly before everything besides my appendix and bruised liver bursts. This blog feels like a neglected puppy, cowered in a corner from lack of touch versus abuse, just wanting someone warm to cuddle up with and maybe tell him a story while in a lap on the back deck and a late summer's breeze drifts over both of them.

In the mist of this presidental-like schedule there are places to carve out tax cuts for the rich and relief from stress.  "Honey, I'm going into town".  Didn't take much as school provides education and a reason to seek WiFi during our weekends up north.  The drive is under 15 miles and seems too short when the weather cooperates.  A single gas station on the right with a selection of porn better fit for SexWorld in downtown Minneapolis, the family golf cart dealership where the wife has been eyeing half of my scant poker bankroll for a cart with a backseat rigging so the kids could comfortably get shuttled from the cabin/trailer to the pool and the clubhouse for the best dollar ice cream this side of Coldstone. 

Passing the unseen town of Swiss with a sign leaning back like a limbo dancer, probably caused by the straight-line winds that still show their destructive forces in the small town of Danbury that was my destination.  The "Welcome to Wisconsin" is a awesome sight for someone who stupidly ran out of beer and ththankfully the cheeseheads have no blue laws on the books to keep me from enjoying one more day of sun and suds.  As the first turn into town there's "Stubbs Fireworks" which I can't tell if its the proprietor's name or an unfortunate moniker from an M-80 mishap. 

After the bend the new St. Croix Casino (formerly Hole in the Wall casino, which was a dead ringer for what is was, desperate gamblers and slot machines inside of connected trailers) stood tall at the end of road just past the four block stretch of the town. 

Homemade fudge, fresh broasted chicken, an arts-and-craft store that smelled like lavender soap, and a giant Leinenkugel's chair in front of the grocery/liquor store in which some Chardonnay, chicken dry rub, and New Glarus Spotted Cow were on the list.  But, my spot was on the left at a bar named Wild Waters.  Log exterior, comfy interior, sizable enough to move around, not-so-big to miss a person's conversation from opposite ends of the bar.  This was my fourth visit of the summer, and surly owner always corrects my pronunciation of the delicious New Glarus on tap as I take a seat along the wooden tables with change stuck underneath the glass. 

While I am there to figure out the variance between standard and actual cost for an imaginary manufacturing company there's an extra pint or two taken with each visit just to watch the locals filter in.  Some by ATV, by Harley's, and some by foot.  All coming in with smiles on their faces, catching a quick chat with the others while watching the Packers updates on the flat screen hung on the back wall (although this week the Vikes were showing despite knowing I was probably the only Purple and White fan in the joint). 

One or two beers is mostly the cap for these folks, as it is the afternoon on a Saturday or Sunday and not exact prime time to start up rounds of Jagerbombs.  To me there's a relaxing feeling in those pure oak stools, something not found in surburbia-land where corporate heads suck all of the life out of glass before its even poured with flair.  But, it's my time.  And my time does not come over very often with full time school, work, and the upcoming WCOOP at PokerStars next week. 

Yes, I did and do manage to find my way into the St. Croix Casino, much like asking a married man if he finds Minka Kelly attractive, this gambler has some oats to sow that don't involve breaking his marital vows to Deter Jeter's girlfriend.  During these rushed times it necessary to drop your business suit, parenting suit, and even your birthday suit if you're into that sort of thing, and take a few minutes to breathe.  What gives you that air is up to the individual and holding your breath too long will take the life from you.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Same old, Same old (tired) situation

A post seen too often lately from friends followed for almost eight years.  "Where have you been?", "why haven't you been posting?", "is this place getting dusty?".

The first one, school has kicked into high-gear, combined with no weekends off for over month plus trying to get up to the cabin every weekend, equals zero time to jot inane markings of my boring suburbanite married life.  Busy does not equal exciting, at least in my world, to others flying around the world in exotic lands and less-than-safe hotels and airports, my path is pretty straightforward with the same 8.7 miles commute in the wee hours of the morning, same return trip and maybe spice it up with a stop at the Holiday gas station, then back home to become either daddy or that one parent trying a little too hard to remind his five year old daughter to keep her hands together while swinging the bat playing T-ball.

Add in the Swedish sauna-like heat over the past three weeks, plus an annual guy's weekend trip that included passing out next to a bottle of Pliny the Elder and getting stacked in a $20 buy-in NLHE game by a chick that had her chair crying for mercy, and you've got one tired blogger.  Hell, Saturday night there was me, myself, and I slumped on a tan sectional all alone when I should have been downtown having a beer on a rooftop with good friends.  But the sirens of the afternoon nap called and four hours later I woke up to Parker Bonn Jr. trying to close out a bowling match on ESPN 26.

Lack of posting is both the above excuses, which really are lame, and lack of desire.  Since my advanced composition professor has decided to make our fingers bleed while banging out long drawn out analytical thesis,  10 to 1 arguments, scouring academic papers for the true meaning within, and becoming conversant while penning the next Moby Dick, my fingers and whatever is left of the magical pixie dust of creativity within my rum-soaked fingers is dried up from the effort.  The challenges are awesome, I mean who wouldn't want to learn how to draft a cost summary for a processing plant while derviving the meaning from a paper that compares tommy girl perfume commericials and corporations exploiting nationalist pride for profit?

Again, exciting life I lead.

The film of non-use on this writing shelf?  Since this is my shelf to place trophies, kids stories, and bitch about when the missus and I have not had sex for weeks, it will be used, abeit sparingly during the summer.  Much like the golden ages when Americans could play quasi-legal online poker for more than points towards a t-shirt or brass bracelet, my fun time online takes a big dip in the months filled with baseball, sweaty boxer briefs, and tall, cold pours of Surly Furious on the deck.  Drunken poker Thursday are no more, as my degeneracy has been diluted to playing slots on Facebook.

See DOJ, you make me cry, turning my hobby night of blank thoughts into an evening of Mark Zuckerberg sponsored pokes and pop-up windows to remind my friends that I'm playing Slot-O-Mania past midnight. No worries about that five page paper and 30 different general ledger entries due by Sunday before getting the low-down on the final two tables of the PokerStars Sunday Warm-up.  Yep, NO FUN FOR YOU! /Soup Nazi

No drawn out rant today as tonight I'll be thumbing through 20 pages of academic writing penis pumping (or titty enlarging?), as the author's of the textbook seemed more concerned with the amount of 50 cent words they could cram into paper-filled vacuum than trying to teach a point to improve my writing skillz (or lack thereof).  Reading while taking my son and 10 other kids to something called "SkyZone" to wear them out playing dodgeball on trampolines. Actaully looking forward to this as we had a blast the first time I took him here, something that the recent stock market roller coaster, riots in London, or moral online gambling zealots won't touch.

And times like these will get my pen here for a few minutes each week.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Warrior Dash 2011

The night prior was spent in leisure.  Sitting along the third base line on an overhung piece of concrete in folded chairs cheering on the embattled 2011 version of the Minnesota Twins.  The night was perfect, short breeze coming in from right field, with a full view of the Minneapolis skyline and Graves 601 hotel sign peaking just aside from a neon pole that announced the latest hometown batter to step to the plate.  The game was uneventful as my brother-in-law the Tigers fan got the first, second, and last laugh as the home team tanked losing 8-2 while several $8.00 Captain and Cokes washed away any care for the game.

A solid buzz gathered as the three couples made their way back to suburbia despite pleas for extending the night at a local strip club.  But, without a unanimous decision, the only titties that would be in view were our spouses before slipping into their nightly sleeping arrangements.  As the clock rolled past midnight and a solid effort by the nighttime Perkins crew with their above par bacon and ham omelet with three buttermilk pancakes, a brief rest was needed as three of us would be waking up in five hours for a race unlike any we have completed together.

The "before" picture (no idea about the hats I just follow along)

The Warrior Dash awaited our crew of my sister and father in law, my beautiful bride, and that tall thing you see on the left.  After getting married the four of us have gone on countless bike rides and 5Ks/10Ks, it is something that I found refreshing when introduced to this healthier side of athletic competition as my friends were more inclined to play a volleyball tournament in the back of bar that offered 3 for 1s and waitresses rarely kept track of how many drinks to charge you for.  But, today was different as the drive from my father in law's place in Robbinsdale took us through the once proud North Minneapolis neighborhood which now resembles the crumbles of gang/drug violence, so bad that even charities have packed up and left.  Signs of recent tornado damage accentuated the peeling paint, cracked and neglicted wood, and blacked-out store-fronts that a decent chicken dinner could have been purchased with a biscuit on the side for $4.99 but no more.

After getting out of the city, it was on to Afton Alps.  A popular, small skiing destination that was last visited 16 years old by a college student, his girlfriend, and my future brother in law with my girlfriend's friend packed into a mutlicolored 85' Nova hatchback (all parties over six foot tall) but it ran and got great gas mileage!  Ok, its was a piece of shit but skiing for the first time was an adventure after getting lost in the middle of the slopes and "walking" back to the chalet an hour after they had their feets up by the fire. 

Forward to today our goal was this:

Not pictured the three feet of mud below the sign

The goal was one hour, but changed to around 45 minutes after watching someone come flying down the final descent in 24 minutes.  Not that I could even run seven minute miles on a flat track but it seemed plausible despite zero training and a decent rum induced hangover.

The race started with about 500 of us packed at the gate with flame roaring above the sign.  The few yards was cake, and then around the corner was the pain.  A slope that I remembered being quite easy to come down with pieces of fiberglass and several feet of snow beneath my feet, was about to kick my untrained ass trying to climb.  About half way up I joined the rest of the sheep, some dressed in nothing but loincloths, others with names across their back proclaiming a wedding party (which actually is a pretty kick-ass idea), and some ladies that obviously had trained were showing their tight superhero underroos (I found a liking to Superwoman).  

After the first climb we were met by cars and a tire run to climb across and immediately met by several snow makers blowing cold water full speed like a sideways downpour.  Felt good but blinded and now carrying several hundred pounds of extra water weight, the view after regaining my sight was exhausting.  Three hills were in view as seen by those with much more superior skills already tackling their heights and valleys. Another obstacle, this one of five foot barriers to climb then a barbed wire fence to duck (repeat X 5).  Finally a pacer appeared as she was moving along the same speed.  Wearing "I Heart to Fart" granny panties from Spencer's and a well-shaped black bodysuit she would become my rhythm that would hopefully help me reach the 45 minute goal.

After another climb and a twenty foot cargo net wall to climb, there was a large tent ahead.  The race official proclaimed "FREE WOODTICKS INSIDE!" yeah thanks dude.  Asshole.  A tiara wearing princess yelled "NO FARTING!" which was great advice and spared my life as the tent was complete absent of any light and much to my forehead's dismay, there were boards set up to keep you body close to the ground as opposed to crawling through this void.  Once on the other side, a breather was taken on the side as my pacer bounced away for the moment. 

A rally for air came and thanks to some unknown upper-body strength, the rope climb over the wall was cake as the big red heart was visable again.  Through a maze of marshy mud, the final climb had a reward at its peak.  A huge waterslide with separated lanes to slide down and a refreshing spritz before the last downhill run.  Only two things separated my beaten up body and the final line with a table full of bananas and water.  Bricks of fire were stoked as each runner lept over the flames before jumping into a three foot deep/ten yards long pool of mud that required crawling as a barbed wire fence hung above the pool

 Fire! Fire! Fire! /Beavis

Once properly caked in mud it was just a few more feet to the volunteers handing out medals for all finisher, a token of completing the course and do something a little nutty for a change.  My time was a shade under 48 minutes, I blame the temptress and her fine ass for not pacing us appropriately, but nonetheless the experience was one that will be repeated next year with a little preparation in mind (and yes, booze will involved). 

Why yes, I would like a beer right after I rinse off 10 pounds of mud

Speaking of booze, by turning in the time chip, a free Shock Top await your hand (or Mich Golden Light if you like such things) along with tasty meats for purchase as modeled by my lovely wife below:

 She likes legs, I prefer the breasts

Onward back to a shuttle which was NOT equipped for people that have stilts for legs, but the aisle provided enough room to doze for the five minute, bumpy ride back while snacking on sunflower seeds.  Warrior Dash you have four repeat customers awaiting your return to the Twin Cities.

(* all photos taken by my sister in law)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The family man and the gambler

The walk has changed only a little over the years.  It is one that has been made hundreds of times in my youth.  To the west what was once an old decrepit farm house and adjoining fading red barn with mysteries inside that 10 year olds with nothing to do on summer days used to explore hoping to find something interesting under the various Folger's tins and rotted stairs.  In its place is a brand new elementary school that once housed all six grades but due to budget cuts now splits those students between the older school a few blocks away that the 10 year old version of myself attended.

But the reminder of the landscape hasn't changed at all.  The fields still filled with white and yellow "flowers", fields "1" and "2" still retained their metal bleachers and wooden benches for the various team that visited the mighty Orioles in hopes of coming away with a win.  Several healthy trees spotted the grounds as I lugged sporting equipment home.  Well, what was once my home, now just two people reside there, joined by a gaggle of little grandchildren as the engineer works his remaining days until he can finally enjoy the fruits of his many hard years in the construction business.  The baseball bag on my shoulder wasn't mine anymore, a dull ache from a pitching injury years ago now comes back to life with every step of the black strap pulling down on the bone.  It's a minor thing however as my attention is to the little hand wrapped around my ring and middle fingers happy that her father was there to see her pounce on a ground ball with the grace of a grizzly bear on ice skates.

I was once content to letting my life run its course, never changing like that ball field, the twin white hockey rinks behind it, and the old school to the east.  A moderate income from a job that does not require much effort nor brainpower to complete, a content spouse, but it was watching the two kids that changed that.  They were mimicing my sloth.  Not to the point that it was obvious, but they stopped being curious, stopped asking questions (which some parents would throw a party for at time), stopped growing allowing the lights and advanced graphics of the Playstation 3 or Cartoon Network website to turn them into mindless drones. 

One thing that a person with a hearing loss becomes whether they like it or not is being very observant.  Watching every twitch, every movement, every blink to get those actions to speak so that the words you could not hear or understand would become a sentence.  Hemmingway had a "five finger exercise" to paint a picture for the audience that would bring you instantly to my parent's backyard in enough words that wouldn't have the commentor stating "tl;dr" in the box.  While I hope to bring my drunken ass to Key West again before I die and have another go on the mechinical bull (inner thigh bruises and all), grab a lap dance in a back-alley strip club, and enjoy being surrounded by friends at Irish Kevin's, that will depend on a little luck in the months/years to come. 

Recent I have tried to better my life from a work and academic standpoint, learning more about the profession I am in, and also taking some writing courses which hopefully won't screw up my lispy "voice" too much that some seem to enjoy.  But the pressure from being on the go, to be a good parent, student, husband sometimes gets me staring out my porch window at 2am wondering would it be easier to ditch all this for a life in a hotel room and no responsiblities beyond finding food and keeping a bankroll large enough to live.  The dark specter of the gambler is one that I playfully state "it's for fun" "it's relaxing" but so tempting to dive into a rum and coke while piece of clay sit in front you and cards that randomly hit the felt determine if the night is a success. 

For now and hopefully until I walk my daughter down the aisle or sitting on the porch of my retirement house adjacent to the 16th fairway of an unnamed golf course in Texas or Arizona, the family man who wants that little hand to squeeze a little tighter around his fingers will win out because when I look in the mirror I like that guy, as the gambler can wait as his turn, more specifically until December 2nd, 3rd, and 4th and ya'll will come see him and toast to being able to separate those two and enjoy both for who they are.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Looking over the walls of Shawshank

Wow, it took awhile to have the creative juices dry up, perhaps all this rest and recouperation from yet another challenging quarter of college has left the guard down and allowed the unspeakable writer's block onto my now seemingly regular day of posting on Tuesdays.  Windows are finally down, air is just starting to get a little thicker outside as both my kids tackle baseball during the summer months with soccer in the fall.  Watching the five year old daughter blossom into the Patti LeBelle of T-ball after a rant about receiving a commoner's drink of water in her Barbie sports bottle.  Refusal to hussle, turning a deaf ear on the high school juniors working for $10 a session with "Park and Rec" emblazed in gold across the baby blue t-shirts like a spoiled Manny Ramirez she pouted until daddy coming straight from the office dropped by with an individual serving of Sunny D.  Soon afterwards she combined the speed of Flo Jo with the defensive ability of Ozzie Smith to show her parents that an attitude adjustment (absent of shock therapy and threats of the removal of toys) would be in her future after returning home.

The boy is the same but different.  His issue isn't defiance or a need for attention but more about trying to find a reason to show what talents he may have hidden.  When prodded he regularly beats out the other boys in races, shows a fluid swing at the plate, and isn't afraid to get a little dirt on the gray pants. 

Likewise for their father during the changeover from quarter to quarter, I try to re-evaluate why am I doing this?  The easy answer is for a better future.  Stability at work, gain of knowledge that I normally would not have had the drive to seek, and the satisfaction of following through on something that was started 16 years ago in a dorm room at ASU.  No, not the quest to get laid, but to finish the bachelor degree that seemed so easy to grab but personal insecurity, financials, and health reasons pushed finishing my education off. 

Image credit

The hard answer is do I want to remain in this corporate setting?  Meet person X, do project Y, get reward Z.  Its a formula learned in a middle school algebra class but also by watching Red speak to the parole board near the end of The Shawshank Redemption.  He talks about normalacy, and how when someone is accustomed to a certain setting that they let go of their individuality, let go of hope, let go of the drive to seek new things and allow themselves to be swallowed into whatever is spoon-fed to them via company email and internal classroom settings.  While I love the corporation, there's a nagging piece of me that wonders what's beyond those walls, what if I took a rock hammer to the soft brick and tunneled into something new? 

Barring a complete meltdown of the company, my employement here is relatively secure since for the most point I keep my head down, work hard, learn everything I can, do extra projects, make friends, in other words exactly the type of suit they like.  But, am I reaching my potential?  Granted my options are not endless as my wife and kids come first before any life-changing decisions are made.  But, when you sit back in your computer chair and gaze across the screen to read about the exploits of friends and seeing yourself sitting on that barstool/typing on the laptop next to them, or see yet another promotion pass you up there's self-doubt that trickles in, feeding the fire that maybe this isn't the right path.  Would happiness be found by tossing away a decade and half of climbing a ladder that seems to be slicked with bacon grease for the unknown?

For now things are stable but just to make sure there's a little sriracha sauce in my life, I've poking around for a new job here with any hope I can put together enough corporate cliches that would get me to a more interesting job and check out the view from the next rung on the ladder. 

Just like Red would say that rehabilitation is a made-up word, and that a person should get busy living, or get busy dying.  Or in my words, stop fucking around and get something done.  Too bad it took me 36 years to finally realize that.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Watching the future

For the nearly decade of working in an office building, you try to find something different or at least something constant to pique your interest should the job behind the cubical walls not satisfy those few intellectual brain cells not harmed from the flowing river of rum and coke downed while parked at a bonfire the past weekend.

If you're curious enough, people watching is a fascinating way to get through what normally would be a run-of-the-mill corporate hustle workday.  While braving a shopping mall this definitely comes into play as there's so much cheap college perfume/cologne waffing from American Eagle/Abercombie/Gap or the annoying salesguy at Brookstone telling you its not ok to sit in the full vibrating recliner for 30 minutes with a huge grin on your face.  Taking note of that guy with the sullen look on his face as his helicopter wife rattles off 15 things the kids are doing to embarrass her in public as she exposes her XXXL black lace thong from Fredrick's of Hollywood while picking up pennies that someone threw but couldn't quite make it into the fountain that collects money for the local food shelter.

There's that guy at the office you always nod to but don't know his name, where he works, but a silent understanding that a greeting must take place since you both walk down the same hallway at the same time each day.  You with the glass of ice water, him with a toasted bagel and a tub of Philly cream cheese on top.  Then there's oddballs like the security guard you have passed every morning for the past nearly 10 years.  Looking more like your average Euchre rounder at the VFW, in the twilight years he decided to take an easy job and probably earned it after fighting in a war, working the assembly line as a steering wheel adjuster at the local Ford plant for 35 years and now passing time until an Arizona retirement community calls his name.  But it would take several years to notice a pattern of behavior that struck as odd but funny in way.  If a male enters the building under his purview he will completely ignore that person regardless of dress, size, shape, or even if he approaches the guard desk at which time the guard steps back and lets one of his co-workers deal with you.  If a female comes through the door he ALWAYS greets with a smile and remembers most of their names regardless of dress, size, shape.

He may not even realize he does it and it's behaviors like the security guard's that I find add a little spice to the current rushed lifestyle.  Yes, a rent-a-cop's proclivity to boobs is amusing to me.  When I can't be in Vegas due to time and family constraints and have to live vicariously through my many friends swimming through the muck of reporting from the WSOP, it's the little things that keep you going as I just finished the half-way mark of my college journey hoping to finally bed a junior or senior this quarter from the softball team or I could stay with status quo and enjoy not invoking the wrath of my wife while continuing the awesome resurgence of my marriage. 

Even at home I've noticed more things about her just by slowing down to watch instead of letting the time pass in a rush, and how beautiful she becomes as I appreciate her more each day. Whether I turn into that horny security guy in 35 years is beyond me but for now I'll take every chance to hug my daughter despite knowing she just downed a giraffe's neck worth of Fruit by the Foot or my son who can't peel his eyes away from Johnny Test.  And in six quarters, they'll get their dad and husband back full-time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Of Places I Would Rather Be

WSOP time.

Twice I have made the journey to the seemingly bottomless pit of cards, booze, and degenerate prop betting.  The first time was do to the real thing, crossing off a bucket list item by actually playing in a World Series of Poker event.

That did not go well.

Despite high hopes I made two fatal flaws.  1) Played with scared money  2) Failed to drink

At the time it should not have been scared money as my bankroll was large enough, had backers, and online money was still flowing through ads, writing, and bonus whoring.  Nonetheless, I was not as aggressive as I was sitting behind an avatar but instead adjacent to Marcel Luske and arms reach from the 2005 Main Event champ Joe Hachem.  Noted warthog Joe Speaker was there to record my exploits to the masses but my tepid play had me fizzling out on a non-descript hand shortly after the first break. 

Two years later I found myself in Vegas during the WSOP again, but this time it was to sweat the media at the World Series of Pai Gow, an event I'm much more equipped for and play downtown at the Binion's Poker Classic where the buy-ins fit my bankroll much more easily.  CK, Tuscaloosa Johnny, and myself braved the other side of Vegas, a throwback to what Vegas used to be before the corporations splashed gold-tinted mirage of $100 margaritas, and five star dining two doors down from the 24-hour McDonald's.  This time I played it right.  The game was Omaha Hi/Lo again, this time limit but a game I'm most comfortable with in any setting with any stakes that does not cost me a mortgage payment to check-raise the turn. 

But instead of listening to blog postings about playing "optimal tournament poker" by "getting sleep", "staying away from the pits", and most of all "not drinking".  I did the opposite.  Instead I got myself into that comfort zone.  You know the one.  It feels like fantasy sex, downslope of a rollercoaster, the perfect lick of ice cream on a day reaching triple digits all while sitting on a cloud.  After hour four the waitress who seemed to be the only one serving the 214 players in the tourney didn't even bother asking if I wanted another and would just switch out the cup of ice for one filled with spiced rummy goodness and a splash of Coke. 

Later on that night my friends, the ones with press badges around their necks, already taking a beating from the grueling WSOP workdays in the Amazon Room encouraged me to stay in my zone, especially one AlCantHang whom I would walk stumble back to the final table with holding two drinks after a shot at the bar right before chop talks began. AND still had enough in the gas tank for watching my card-rackery continue at the Pai Gow tables at the Gold Coast.  True friends, they are.  Almost kin-like to my degenerate side.

I mention this now because life is in the way of hopping on a plane to create another Vegas memory.  Work, lack of vacation time threw away the keys as for once, money isn't throwing up the bars of steel, nor is my understanding wife who actually encouraged me to go.  But, thanks to Twitter, the PG-13 rated version of my friend's exploits come to life in 140 characters or less.  I'll have to wait until December or a possible WPBT side trip to hear the XXX version only available after a full night bender and a few toasts to those who couldn't make it but wished they were here.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Redirected to virtual oblivion

There's a moment each workday morning if the weather is particularly calm and not freezing things at the rate of liquid nitrogen where this suburbanite can stand outside the home he grew up in after tucking the kids in with nana and pa for the day to reflect for two seconds.  Much Arthur Dent watching Earth being put back together, there's an eerie fakeness to how calm everything seems without another soul moving or making a sound.

Then like a record that suddenly has the needle slammed down on it and scratches a few moments become picking up the music embedded below, life continues on with grabbing my wife's ass and piling into the car for another day of climbing the corporate ladder.  Then after a hard day of spreadsheets, and a spittle of inane shop talk there home with a five year old with too much energy and the body that can't keep up with band-aids covering 70% of it from various falls.  The boy quietly laying the groundwork to become a gamer and requires a few pokes before he comes to life and get a few details about the final days of his second grade year at school.

But, before crossing threshold of the porch is the kitchen which underwent a massive remake from a hindrance into the best part of the house besides the family room/porch.  On the floor are little black critters which have been squished, poisoned, and flicked like those paper footballs that you hit Carly Cosgrove with right between the eyes with 28 years old.  No, these are not Otis' ants, those spawns of Satan can stay in the South, just annoying black ants that crawl around for the sake of getting my preschool graduating daughter to try to pick up a bowling ball to kill one. 

Subtlety is not her strongest suit.  Make note of that future ex-boyfriends.

Last on Sunday night as I was wrapping up my second to last week of the Spring quarter (only six to go WHOOOOOOOOOWHOOOOOOO!!!) on a spreadsheet solving for a company's ROE and suddenly one of those ants seems to have burrowed its way into my laptop as one by one my windows started shutting down.  For the next two days, thanks to the wonderful hacker that found a way to set a redirect virus into my laptop, the ant became the one squishing me.  Nothing work, all my school/PokerStarsBlog/music files were gone and it seemed like there was no way of getting them back.  Luckily enough my friends are smarter than me and pointed me to to patch the problem, then last night after some research I was able to restore my files by reloading from a time where I didn't worry about ants attacking my hard drive.

The laptop is still infected despite the malwarebytes holding off the actual virus while browsing the internet, as luck would have it again, I have been looking for a new laptop anyway.  Luck?  No, more like a lesson as I was ready to tear the hard drive out, have it professionally "cleaned", and throwing a bunch of cash at this just because I wasn't diligent enough to turn on the anti-Malware package that came with the computer.

Never again.  And no, there will not be another convert into Steve Jobs' techno-borg beyond a possible iPhone5 purchase in a few months (oh you know its coming stop thinking its not) by snapping up a MacBook Air that I can't afford .  Another PC laptop suits me just fine but time I'll be laying some virtual cornmeal laced with a little acid around the perimeter so no more ants find their way to my armless midget porn and schoolwork that become less and less with each passing week of the year. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Poker Bloggers RISE-ing

This not a post, but is since well I'm typing here but not the one that I wanted to refute the notion of a book my wife is reading that claims money does not give individuals a life advantage over those who do not have such sums for better housing/education/brand-name soap.  I suppose life is what you make it, but money allows opens doors to the clearer path versus having to step on nails while finding a way to scrap by.

Wanted to throw a little link love for three friends that I hope to see this summer sometime and hope their newest ventures:

- Dr. Pauly is back with a novel that I've heard about ever since I met this soul several years ago at the Plaza as he continues to be one of the very reasons I don't shut-down this slice of the internet entirely while trying to fit 25 hours of work into 24 hours of the day. If Jack Bauer can do it, so can I.  And so can Pauly who after his success with Lost Vegas presents Jack Tripper Stole My Dog (book purchase linkage here) and I'm also pleased to see he is returning to Vegas for the WSOP this summer....  

- ...  and three of my friends will be working together for RISE Poker which comes at a time after Black Friday showing some hope to the post-US online poker wasteland that players have options (even if it isn't 12-tabling 6-max PLO until the handle of Captain says "please stop pouring me" at 2am).  F-Train and Change100 will be in Vegas for the WSOP along side Chops of Wicked Chops Poker fame rounding out their all-star WSOP coverage crew (if I'm missing anyone it's because its early in the morning and I haven't had my caffeine yet).

Ok, back to the grind and not mentioning my decent degen gambling weekend as I won a Vegas plane ticket worth of ducats playing slots and pull tabs...   a sign to go?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's what I do

"It's what you do"

I'm not Kobe, LeBron, Wade, A-Rod, never the superstar, never a person who seeks the spotlight.  My father instilled that quality in me, for the past nearly 40 years he has been fixing elevators, getting called at ungodly hours to drive/fly somewhere in the Midwest region because some mechanic kid doesn't know the difference between the blue wire and the red wire and the building's contractor is bitching out the home office something fierce because they cannot complete their $50 million cubical maze without an OSHA sign off on the lifts. He puts head down, gets it done without flair, without demands, without extra needs.  He could expense bigger hotels, better meals, but chooses to pack a lunch/dinner with chocolate chip bars from my mom while staying in a place that's no more than a bed to lay down on after making things right at the job site for 12-14 hours then comes back home to be an on-call help desk.

He missed his kids growing up and just now at the age of 60 as started to get to know them.  I love my father dearly, always have, always will and I see little bit of myself in him.  Just the honor of someone appreciating my hard work is worth doing the job.  Some may call that being naive and those people would be absolutely correct.  But as long as I receive the satisfaction of doing something right, my reward may not be tangible but its worth more than anything currently parked in Paris Hilton's gargage. 

All my life, I just yearn for a chance.  My current employ, where I will probably retire from in the year 2035, has shot me down for several promotions due to a lack of a piece of paper that I currently am in the pursuit of achieving for both personal and professional reasons.  But when one has a disability there is always a nagging itch with each denial.  "Is it because I cannot hear?".  It's an irritation that grows with every rejection, and wondering "am I in the right business?", "should I be taking my talents somewhere else?".  Instead I put my head down and keep churning out productivity. 

I am not a genius, nor do I feel particularly talented at anything but I work harder than most as people who know my schedule get winded just reading it.  While sitting up in the metal bleachers at Field #1 behind my parent's home and Cedar Island elementary school directly to my right where I attended and teachers still asked about me 25 years later, I still wonder what I did to make such a lasting impression besides my unkept hair, ability to say "what?!?" every other word, and do my multiplication tables faster than anyone in the room.  Then I looked up at my boy finally showing some effort on the field, sliding side-to-side for grounders and showing a bit of the smooth batting stroke that got his father a place on a few baseball/softball teams.  Of course in my lap was a copy of Fundamentals of Corporate Finance and a rather dry chapter about WACC, betas, CAPM, and the cost of equity since my time was in short supply this week.  But, cool, nearly windless night made it perfect to sit outside and watch my son finally show some effort that I hope I can instill in him as my father did in me.

Hard work does pay off, it may take longer for someone who doesn't chirp about not getting "his due", but the person who doesn't ask for those extras shouldn't expect them, instead receiving the little satifsfaction like a son's smile after finally catching a fly ball, getting an insignificant grade on a college paper, or working long hours on a blog post that felt good to finish and not caring how many people read it because you were proud of the words put to print.

A good friend told me "it's what you do" and he couldn't be more right. 

And I'll continue to be a parent, a writer, a number jockey, a friend, a husband, a provider, a student until I'm ask not to.  When all those jobs are done and there's nothing left, I'll take myself somewhere to rest with a handle of rum in my hand of course.  But until then its time to get back to work.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Monday Ribeyes

Came home yesterday to smell of steaks on the grill as the wife explained she was feeling nice and decided instead of Easy Mac N' Cheese a full steak dinner with roasted potatoes, ribeyes soaked in wine (I added a little Famous Dave's Devil Spit which completely kicks ass), and grilled corn-on-the-cob.  Due to the nature of our schedule, Monday - Thursday is usually a throw something in the microwave and rush back out the door dinner.  The surprise is how my wife expresses that I done something right recently but since I have the game of Revenge of the Nerds stand-in, I'll just keep scanning the credit cards to see if I've purchased a Mexican cruise for two in September before passing out after reporting last weekend.

The first weekend of the post-Black Friday SCOOP tournament series and while the numbers are down, they are cracking the guarantees with good amount of players for every buy-in level.  The production got a step-up this year as they've added a daily recap show called Inside SCOOP with Joe Stapleton and Nick Weathall commanding the microphone with interviews from the winners via Skype as well as Team PokerStars pros and Team Online.  Even got to see a few hands I reported on as Alexander "josio" Kostritsyn went on a tear last weekend collecting a 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, and 3rd in the high buy-in tourneys.  But, after two days off I'll be back in the fray tonight through Sunday reporting for PokerStarsBlog and getting to know my couch for the next five days.

I get four weeks vacation each year and for the past three years I have used two of those weeks to work for WCOOP and SCOOP.  To tell you the truth, it feels more relaxing and fulfilling to indulge in job that I love to do but don't have the necessary equipment (bad hearing makes live reporting juuuuuuuuuust tad tough) outside of being behind a laptop to complete.  I'm not a journalist, nor a writer, just a card player with a love knack for throwing a few readable puns together.  When I write for these series know that I enjoy the action, and give a little OW! when a nasty river card hits at 4:30am despite having zero personal financial consequence.  Unlike accounting where you're supposed to leave your emotions at the door, I'm a little colorful when it comes to poker or poker reporting, call it releasing the inner-degen, something I cannot or should not do while sitting in cubicalandia behind Dilbert cartoons and an outdated computer.

I know the loss of online poker for Americans sucks and people within our little niche circle are good work for little consequence like Karak who penned a great post about seeing the issue of legalized internet poker from the eyes of the morally right.  Adding the disclaimer that he is Christian and is completely honest about the beliefs from powerful political groups like Focus on the Family.  CK and Grange of course continue to do the leg work of hammering out rough, massive mounds of rocky lawyer babble into malleable, clean, easy-to-read sheets of information for the masses.  2+2 continues to have too have too many forum tards that want to spend more time flinging poo at company reps (but some it admittedly is justified as a simple one sentence explanation for the delay would sedate many people) versus having solution discussions, but luckily you can tap Karak or KevMath to sift through the muck to find the good stuff (yes, it does exist). 

Online poker and poker in general will continue to be part of my life until pen is forced to be dropped, and even then I'd find a way to put together a few sentences about this card game whether it be in a professional capacity or screeching my bow across the strings here.  WPBT get togethers will still happen, likely a smaller crowd but if you enjoy those weekends of stepping outside your skin, fellow degens will available long after Harrah' becomes the official online card room of the 2015 WSOP.  Why?  Because everyone needs to step out of their monkey suit, briefcase, stethoscope, laptop, fortran code, parenting skin for just a few days to realize how good they have it to be in that skin eating a juicy steak during a busy Monday, starting another busy week.  I'll be there in December, tournament or not to see these people, even if MGM insists on charge $11 for Cap'n Coke because the cowboys don't know better, because you never know when you'll be wisked away in a limo with five other guys with grins that reached LA to G-Vegas after a concert that touched your soul. 

Something you won't find banging at a keyboard at home, here's to hoping I see ya'll soon (a WSOP trip 06/26-06/29 is starting to get my interest).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Where we talk about poker before writing about poker

Twitter went abuzz yesterday as US players who did not ask for the bank wire option payout from PokerStars got their checks.  Sure enough when I got home there was one sitting on the kitchen table underneath an ad from Aria and Harrah's.  WSOP time?  No, the check wasn't for that much but enough for a "free" ticket to Vegas and a decent hotel and since I still have a workable bankroll, the WSOP is a possiblity, more so if backers sprout up.

Should I stay or should I go? (if I go there will be trouble...  that much is certain)

Another shot at a WSOP tourney is food for thought, especially after the confidence boost from roaching my way to chopping up that O8 tourney at Binion's two years ago.  But, really I'd rather see my degenerate friends for a little school/work/kids/life stress relief and sling some chips.  Add on a nice extra paycheck from assisting with the SCOOP series that got off to a bang on Sunday with all three tourneys beating their guarantees.  Be sure to check out the recaps from your hard drinking working bloggers at PokerStarsBlog.  I'll be joining the team on this Thursday, working through the weekend, then starting up again on Tuesday afternoon through Sunday where some juggling in schedule between a fun run at Como Zoo that I forgot about will happen Saturday morning (those playing the high stakes PLO tourney that morning, please stretch your Euros a bit while I get some sunshine with the kids).  But, with the size of the fields thus far and the length of the tourneys there should be no problem trying to keep up with my daughter for a half mile and heading back to the reporting cave for some GAMBOOOOOOOOOOOOL! (6-max PLO is my favorite tourney to watch/report on).

Full Tilt unfortunately continues to have issues stemming from separating player/company funds as my meager bankroll there is still locked up and they can no longer sponsor that graphic you see on the right hand side of the blog.  But, it will remain there regardless.  They have supported us poker bloggers for too long to cut and run until the company itself asks for the ad to be taken down.  I sincerely hope things improve soon for my friends and a site that supported us throughout the years with freerolls and especially the Battle of the Blogger tournament series where my luck always seemed to be at its worst. 

UB/AP continues its fall into the abyss as they axed their US-based pros yesterday along with bankruptcy scares, raids in Costa Rica that spilled over to the wrong poker site, and unfortunately leaving a good friend who is one of the best in the business, out of a job.  He'll land on his Pittsburgh sports homer feet soon enough, but UB/AP deserves to die a quick death along with the millions they have stolen from poker players around the world.  Restructuring to capture non-US market players?  Minimal caps on cashouts (and not to mention a "check processing" fee)?  Why would any player with Party, Tilt, Stars available want to play on a site that has cheated its players (read all about the scandal with an upcoming book announced by uber-sleuth Haley Hintze yesterday), couldn't even figure out a decent RNG for a simple game like Keno, and saw its two biggest "stars" walk away at just the right time (strangely not a lot of talk about their seemingly innocent departure)...

Hmmm... indeed

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Rambling man found dead in Abbottabad

So...  anything interesting going on in the last few weeks?

I'll remember my porch and Twitter locking my feeble laptop while trying to upload the May Day version of the Sunday Warm-up as Osama Bin Laden finally drew his last vile breath on Earth.  Looking up and seeing it was 9:30pm with only four players remaining and thinking about finally getting a decent night sleep to help battle this chest cold that has lingered for two weeks, but suddenly Twitter exploded with 100+ twits, twats, tits in a matter of a few minutes.  After armageddon was disproved and I put away the snide remarks to my wife about going out with a bang (h/t Chevy Chase and Aykroyd), I flipped over from the poker wrap to see that the world's number one terrorist would not be plotting any more.

This does not stop the religious abuse, the shoe bombs, the potential future 9/11-like attacks, in fact it may just piss off the lingering terrorist cells into doing something rash.  But, the head is severed from the body.  The thinking leader behind the reason you take off your shoes and get a free hand job before joining friends at McCarran airport for a weekend of Pai Gow, foie gras with unpronounceable flavorings, and ripping up $100 wagers on the 3am Tanzania/Turkey cricket tilt.

No more.

Oh, don't worry you'll still get your complimentary sexual healing from the TSA, but Bin Laden won't be laying out the blueprints any longer.  For the current time, intelligence agencies will seeing a fight or flight by the terrorist cells linked to Bin Laden.  Will they use this to paint an (un)holy martyr and rally around their fallen leader to enact something even more terrifying than the 9/11 attacks?  Or disperse into smaller acts of a car bomb here, suicide bombers there, slowly trying to gather enough steam for another massive attack?  Citizens like myself will have to rely on those whose names will never appear on a newspaper, faces that are unknown to any database, and hope those who crawl through the slime trails left by these holy pretenders find them before they find us hiding behind our Dodge Caravans.

There are no words that describe their sacrifice and I certainly couldn't write enough to properly thank them. No amount of money or materialistic items will ever be enough, but if you ever lucky enough to meet someone who has served this country without selfish thought, buy them a beer and thank them for allowing the biggest problem in your day is getting your daughter to eat her green beans or the ability to play online poker.

And to those who thought Obama was taking some kind of victory lap with that beautiful speech Sunday night?  Kindly place a large rusted spiked unlubricated object up your self righteous ass.  Obama did good, he did something right, save the bashing for when gas prices hit $5.00/gallon and ExxonMobile or BP comes out with another record breaking quarterly profit announcement...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Being yourself is hard work

"A friend is one before whom I may think aloud"

- Ralph Waldo Emerson
This morning there was a Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich, hot from the microwave sitting aside from a tall glass of OJ which I've been mainlining for the past two week thanks to a chest cold.  It said "Turkey sauage, egg whites and cheese on a whole wheat bagel", my description was more "water chestnut (seriously are those things good for anything while baking???), on top of vulcanized rubber inside a colon blow patty of bread".

But, it was quick food since my lovely daughter decided to turn off the alarm clock while watching Trollz before retiring last night, thus me and wife snapped awake when the internal alarm clocks went off 15 minutes late.  I did have a few moments of reflection on a friend who found a big missing piece of his life and wrote about it yesterday.  If you read here, you probably know about one of the best pens on the west coast who is currently cursing his Kings for the quick exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

He may be missing a hockey team, but found something 100x more important, his faith.  I wrote on twitter yesterday that a person should stay true to themselves if anything. If you read the archives here you'd see my struggle with marriage, kids, and myself over the course of nearly eight years.  But, it was the writing and friends that got me to the spot I find myself today.  No burning bush, no shooting star, I did not wake up suddenly and exclaim "HEY I'D LOVE TO HAVE NO FREE TIME FOR THE NEXT THREE YEARS AND GO BACK TO SCHOOL WHILE WORKING TWO JOBS AND TAKING CARE OF TWO KIDS!". 

Doesn't work that way.

As Joe Speaker describes the hints, the reflections in his great post, all people who have poured their hearts onto a page get something back from it.  A blog doesn't care about your chosen faith, color of your skin, your sexuality, if you enjoy using a toothbrush in a manner not recommends by three out of four dentist.  It is a blank page to let go, and show your readers who you really are behind that Armani business suit, the eaten up North Stars cap and stale smell of alcohol while leaned over a townie bar's chipped rail, or for most reader here:  a poker table. 

I have met the most amazing people through this medium.  People who wouldn't have entered my life if it didn't exist.  I've penned many sappy posts about them but the fact remains that my life was able to progress because of those folks, quirks and all.  Just like Speaker's true friends embrace his renewed faith in God, people accepted me at face value and that's never happened before. 

I've pretty much found my purpose in life.  Teach my son to spin a decent curveball, trying to teach my daughter that jumping off a roof may seem like fun but the landing is a bitch, and my wife that its ok to be herself and to start enjoying life without worrying about what others think.  I am a degen, and will always be.  Work hard, play harder is my mantra and will go to my grave knowing I gave this life all I had, and lived out all I've ever wanted.

I may not get the corner office, I may not ever reach Machu Picchu (go read Pauly's epic adventure in Peru and don't forget the photos at the end, breathtaking, even the receipt to use the bathroom), but I will get my college degree 16 years after I started it, I will get to Europe (even if I blow through my savings account for just one beer at Oktoberfest), I will walk my kids down the aisle while groaning at the promise of an open bar, and I will see Speaker again and hand a beer over to someone I geniunely respect for sharing a lot of himself yesterday and taking an actual leap of faith.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Clean Slate

He can't see, he can't hear.


20(!!) years ago on a back field at Osseo High School, right next to the tin shack of a hockey arena that was reeciving a much needed face lift and second rink, there's a worn down baseball diamond.  The backstop is littered with uncut follage, the fence curls upward in places allowing passed balls to become free bases, the outfield is sparcely cut and has no fence allowing home runs to become very long doubles, and the pitching rubber slightly tilted upwards to remind the hurler to mind his delivery or be prepared to eat some gravel along with a chorus of heckling.

A tall, skinny sophomore who never played on the teams with button down jerseys, matching pants and stirups, or freshly polished shoes walked across the long stretch between the high school and this long forgotten place of play.  The benches were no more than a plank of warped wood on the open field, unsheltered from the errant foul tip.  But, Mr. Darby Carlson sat there waiting to begin choosing who would work their way from this blight to the concrete dugouts of the varsity field located right next to the gym exit.

"If it doesn't happen, I can hang up my glove for good"

Years of tears, disappointments, road trips, tubes of icy-hot all for a shot to make a school team which carried the weight of several recent state tournament appearances and players going off to play for college teams.  And here was the last chance as Darby had no thoughts of nepotism, no parental handshakes for their sons to walk on the team, no worries about pieces of plastic in my ears, a clean evaluation for the first time.

I wasn't the most gifted athlete, hell at best I was average.  But, good enough to wear a varsity letter my senior year because of honest coaches who saw that I had a talent of plunking batters throwing hard enough and working hard enough to pitch for this team three years prior.  A ray of hope that there are somethings you CAN work hard for and get paid off.

My naiveness of the current online poker situation is a mix of assuming too much and not knowing enough.  As I took the family last night to a local bar called J. Cousineau's, a long-time supporter of my days before responsibility, the cajun chicken sandwich and seasoned fries were unmarkable but decent bar food as the waiter certainly exceeded expectations and was very friendly and genuine. 

Surrounded by jerseys of Dino Ciccarelli, John Randle, and a flag from Bushwood Country Club signed by I'm assuming Carl Spackler right after his miraclous cinderella man shot, was a TV showing a different set of programming than the Yankees/White Sox tilt shown on the other ten sets. was playing as the 5th at Turf Paradise was calling the horses to the gate.  Listed below were the odds from the nine's 5/2 all the way up to the four horse's 85/1 (sired by Mr. Otis perhaps?).  OTBs are not legal in Minnesota, but holding a phone with internet capabilities for the first time, if I wanted to plunk a few dollars down on a horse that will likely fall before the announcer gets the word "OFF!" out of the microphone, I could.

Why could I wager here, but not on something with much better odds AND knowing I hold an edge?  If I'm faster, throw harder, work harder, why don't I get the spot on the team?  If I'm more knowledgable, better personality, have more drive to succeed why don't I get the job.


World doesn't work that way dumbass. 

The difference between what should be and what is, is called life.  Deal with it, or get run over.  Finally after several years of tryout disappointments, the lanky kid who walked off that field with the tattered hand-me-downs of the varisty jersey package worn three years ago, including a turtleneck that was a better fit for the arctic circle, found a place on the sophomore team and finally realized what is, is, what didn't happen you can't control so after a good cry, its time to move on.

Finally the lesson sunk in after the favorite crossed the line and my kids were asking about a summer trip to Canterbury Park, and some friends with their heads on much straighter than my own via Twitter explained the gray parts of the online poker proceedings. 

The fight for online poker in the US isn't about who did what, or "freedoms", nor is it about what is right.  Its PR, its American Idol where phone-in votes count (some more than others), its about money and globs of it, high enough for Scrooge McDuck to make a second swimming pool vault.

It's about opportunity, selling the right idea to the right person at the right time.  Just like I managed to finally sneak onto the team from years of playing behind a wall of favorites, I managed to take advantage of the situation.  Will online poker advocates do the same?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April Snow Showers

In November when the first snow drops expectantly, resting gently on top the needles of the Nordic pines and bare branches of sturdy oaks, it's pretty.  Even a lifelong resident of this state will take sometime to prop two knees on the couch which overlooks a backyard in need of a landscaping manicure.  Watching the big flakes stack on top of each other, similar to being back in Mrs. Hughes' 1st grade class and outlining a tree in Elmer's glue then sprinkling glitter down the construction paper for an easy art project to put up on the fridge.

pic cred


When the day on the 2011 Dilbert calendar claims it's one day after Passover, having to don winter coats and drive thru snow just might set off a rant about the weather.  A little bit. 

Much like the current online poker (in the US) collapse, it is better to take the stance of inevitability (but if you're like myself were hoping for the best outcome), read about those who can speak about the events with their awesome lawyerly knowledge (a gentleman with good taste in wine but bad taste in starting hand selections and the black widow herself), and make the best of a shitty situation.  The PPA has shown over the weekend of its misguided attempts and misunderstanding about what took place and how to react to it.  Thankfully within our little circle of poker media, bloggers, and players we're a pretty smart bunch.  I do not include myself, but those like Wicked Chops who took an excellent government messaging programs created by the PPA (they are good for something), and turned their OMG POKER IS NOT ILLEGAL!!?!?!!1111 message into a prose of understanding the big three potentially did something wrong and this should push those officials into doing something right by allowing the millions of players in the United States to play legally from their homes under a regulated and taxed platform.

And to those who think the government did not force the hand of these operators?  Five letters.  U.I.G.E.A.

To the hypocritical government that allows people to throw large amounts of money at Wall Street while day-trading, how exactly is that  different from betting on a 71% chance of fading six outs?  I know, old argument, same ol' rant, go collect your UPC label citizen.

To myself and my family this will hurt the elasticity of my bank account.  Less going out, less fun, and unfortunately, less seeing my dear friends scattered across this country.  While all is light and fluffy at the present time, it will be tough to see that things will run as they have in the past for much longer (although if it could last until I walking down the aisle with my accounting degree in hand next year that would be super-awesome).  Personally, I have no desire to pick up a second job other than the one I have currently.  I work for a friend who tends to make people reflect on things profoundly with each carefully crafted paragraph and descriptions that give the five senses a tingle, especially after hearing the porch floorboard creak exactly one step from the recliner on the west wall when getting home yesterday. On a working basis, there's no one I'd rather lose a little sleep for, especially for the fact that he took a leap of faith with this very green blogger and trusted him to come through over the past three years. That trust is worth more than he'll ever know regardless of how this bad situation shakes out.

Change is coming, eventually the snow will melt along I-94 and the pines lining my property line. The big three will have their day in court, and next week the family cabin/trailer will be opened for another season of deckside drinks while brushing off the grime of the suburban shuffle and other petty life worries.  I was told during my interview feedback session that my best quality was my tenacity and ability to adapt to change. 

Here's my chance to prove it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Red Dawn Online Poker Style

Honey Badger vs. Wolverines who wins?


Last weekend was a blind-side tackle from a defender people knew was on the field but didn't know how hard or when he would hit.  If you want the meaty portions of the lawsuits with excellent commentary and legalese CK rocks it with a three parter check em out here:  Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

I'm sure the people who read here also have penned their tears of online poker in the US going poof and watching helplessly as our friends from places Not America are able to continue their hobbies, or in some cases, their living as a professional card player.

Me?  I was shocked by a text message as over the weekends I tend to stray from checking Twitter, poker sites, and blogs too much due to school and spending time with the kids.  Now armed with an old Blackberry to replace the phone I lost in Texas, I could check Pokerati and other sites while in line for the 2-liter pop bottle ring toss at the local school carnival (I won a bottle of Grape Crush if you must know).  And while my kids tried their luck on the lollipop tree hoping for a colored tipped stick good to trade-up for the little stuffed animal, my thoughts were on those most affected by the government's rash decision to blitz the "Big 3" with criminal charges.

Surly these companies had some sort of plan should the shakedown come down especially after Jon Kyl in his rabid anti-fun anti-logic brigade snuck the UIGEA into the books several years ago.  We can't stop two rich women from abusing the financial laws to the tunes of nine figure sums, making the already super-rich into being able to take over a decent sized country (h/t to Change100) but the US can crackdown down on people trying to have a little fun in the comforts of their own homes or a coffee shop, or even a few who are skilled enough to make a living from poker.  Even worse are the people who may lose their jobs as accountants, analysis, computer programmers, and something that closer to home, the poker writers.

Who exactly is hurt by online poker, where's the seedy back-alley drug exchange taking place?  Sadly I don't have the time to go into a long rant other than to say my government continues to adhere to policies that become the fight of the few who hold the power versus the word of the many.  This is still a democracy right?  Word of the people and all that?

No.  It's become something else.  A nation where two women can make more money then 99.999% of the world could dream of spending by twisting a few words and filling out the right forms, and a righteous team of feds can take away the hobby of millions and jobs of thousands because they couldn't get their flopped flush to hold (sorry had to use at least ONE poker pun).

I love my country, and much like a 4 year old who got send to bed early last night due to a bad attitude, I may be pouting right now but I hope with some sleep and dreams, things will be better in the morning.