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.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Misplaced Sour Grapes

Minnesotans live through the five to six months of winter for days like the two that passed way too quickly with several hours behind a desk when a multi-colored disc golf driver should have been putting a dent or three into trees at the Elm Creek Park reserve course.  The wind, minimal.  The skirts, short.  The sun hitting like someone set the outdoor thermostat to Perfect.  While I groaned at the piles of dead grass freshly raked by my wife knowing my two hands currently on a steering wheel would be wrapped around a similar rake for the next two hours, once I opened the door to the car and felt the warm blanket of my work-in-progress backyard there not enough hours in the day.

Pine needles, plastic golf balls, and crushed leaves were unearthed in the spring cleaning of sorts that becomes less and less each year as we discard the remains of the previous owner's wayward ambition to cover the spacious backyard too many trees that competed with each other for space and light and instead caused mass woodicide ending up in the Hennepin County compost site several year later.  Never met the man as he was divorced six years from the woman who sold us the house as she probably hid a snicker while selling and not informing us of the aborted attempt to recreate a green nursery in the backyard which was covered by three feet of snow at the time of the sale (won't mention the unusable driveway, torn roofing, and million other things the $250 home "inspector" managed to miss).

But, this was a happy time.  Wife threw some hamburger patties on the grill which gave my nose an erection making it harder to concentrate on the task at hand as seen by the several little scrapes along my shins this morning that feel like I hid a rabid squirrel done there.  Add a little Famous Dave's Devil's Spit BBQ sauce and I was in need of a tissue or two. 

It was a good feeling, yard work done, school work slowly being chipped away while the Twins showed a couple of a rays of life in defeating the Royal while a mid-week adult beverage was most welcomed.  While sifting through Twitter making a 30 minute Finance assignment into two hours, there was talk about an article posted at CardPlayer which I was anxious to read, but not for the sunny reasons that I'd rather be on the open deck at 10pm.  

Someone allowed this cockjob (who will not be linked for his fabulous poker skills as self-described at the bottom of the "article") to post a long winded rant, mostly about Team PokerStars pro Vanessa Selbst (who is likely more interested in repeating as the NAPT Mohegan Sun Main Event champ at the moment with fellow NAPT title holder and tournament destroyer Joe Tehan close behind).  The lovely Change100 was kind enough to do the dirty work and unearthed this filth probably while doing a little research for the current assignment, which is ringside at the NAPT's final table or possibly researching for the next gig while joining up with her soon-to-be two-time published writer Dr. Pauly in Lima, Peru.

Unfortunately, I got the edited version which likely cut out the juicy parts but left the ignorance of a player who had to bloat his "tournament winnings of 300K" from the actual 230K over six years (thanks for the research Mr. Schleger).  Honestly, if you think 230K = 300K either you hired an accountant from Enron or there's a 100% possiblity that you have stuffed your boxers with a sock in the past ten years to impress the ladies.  Luckily I don't have an issue with wang size nor telling people my actual poker winnings (enough to take trips, but not near enough to fathom playing for a living), just the fact that showing my sizable package to other ladies besides the TSA would catch the ire of the one person I enjoy showing it to.

But this isn't about me its about someone who took a misguided rant to a major part of the poker media that was better left on a personal blog or even a forum post (or if this guy had any fucking clue not written at all).  While Vanessa is due a huge apology, not the half-hearted disclaimer which currently sits a top of this 3am milky bowel movement after eating an undercooked $2.99 Grand Slam breakfast, the secondary problem is Cardplayer ALLOWING this to be published un-edited.  When I write for PokerStarsBlog it stays professional for the most part with some (funny probably only to me) puns to lighten up the poker hands because honestly, a little spice is needed even for the best cut of steak.  As it should.  "Calling out" those in such an ignorant manner should have their pink polka-dot blankees taken away, especially when ranting about players who are wildly more successful than the author!

For several paragraphs (and this is getting too long as it is) the author continuously shows his inability to understand that sometimes the best hand doesn't win in poker like its a bad beat thread on 2+2 circa 2001.  Wake up kid, start typing up your resume because you ain't gonna make it in this business by waiting around for Aces.

If anyone has the unedited version of his post I'd love to see what was changed.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gambling Mexican Style with Refried Beans and Rice

If you like even an iota of sports you probably watched the exciting ending to The Masters yesterday and today thousands of bloggers will pummel you with Spaceballs quotes.  MAY THE SCHWARTZ BE IN THE HOLE!  HIS SCHWARTZ IS MUCH BIGGER THAN YOURS!  Somewhere Mel Brooks is gearing up the distribute Spaceballs the Loft Wedge and Spaceballs the Divot Repair Tool.

Just remember who set the trend before the South African even stepped up to the first tee at Augusta National.

This guy.  

Not really, I thought Bo Van Pelt and the rest of the crew from the Grand Ole Opry would gank the green jacket yesterday.

I looked up this morning and saw it was April already meaning time is not exactly slowing down for this multi-tasking white boy, but at I can open the windows now without fear of catching frostbite while typing up the Sunday Warm-up wrap at PokerStarsBlog.  Or mindless entertainment from DragonAge 2 which will be in place until the poker gods decide to stop the spankings that would make a submissive scream the safety word.  January to Mid-March = Awesome, Mid-March to yesterday = fuck you very much


See?  Poker whines can be condensed to small packages in which you owe no one a dollar and they don't hop screens to read about Paris Hilton's new favorite orifice to hide crack rocks on TMZ.  If I can find my Flip camera, I'll try to post a wonderful short documentary on How to Survive a Mexican Bathroom by drunk Drizz in which I don't remember a thing and my wife's photos from Facebook were the only reminder that I was there.  That and some bruises from trying to arm wrestle with a beefed-up gringo slinging $2 movies named Jhonny.  Oh, and extending my reach of degeneracy to the younger aged members on Nuevo Progresso as seen below:

It's no Mr. Cashman, but the slot machine does pay out just not to me

I put in a dollar (12 pesos) and sadly did not win enough to feed the multitude of beggers along the streets.  But I did have enough for a Mexican Mojito which consist of nothing but alcohol with a faint splash of club soda.  Faint as in pouring as long as your four year old's attention span while Phineas and Ferb are on and you're trying to ask them what they'd like for dinner.

Good day.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Spaceballs: The Vacation Recap

$369 Round-trip from Lindbergh Terminal to McCarran on December 8th.

This pricing is courtesy of *start deep announcers voice* where our price assurance guarantees you never pay more than the lowest stated fare! 

Or plan degenerate gatherings too far in advance.

Wow.  Didn't take long to hop off one vacation think about the next now did it?  If I were to reach into the DSM-IV to reach a prognosis for the past month Manic-Depressive would leap from the couch and bill me $200 for the hour with a handful of happy pills.

First I didn't get a promotion, then won an employee of the year award, then went on vacation in a shitty mood, got drunk several times, shitty mood did not improve, finally resolved shitty mood, enjoyed remainder of vacation, came back to work in zombie-state, got yearly review, received a mark reserved for the top 1% of employees, and got to play with kids.  I think avoiding the PLO Rush ring games for the next month will prove to be wise.

If anyone could find normal out there lurking behind mediocre, I'd appreciate if he'd drop around for a chat because my handle of Captain at home is going to take a hit unless someone quieter days come without group-think level existentialist discussions about life, marriage, and parenting bouncing around in my head. Throw in this new pressure with school and being the BMOC at work (while still in the pint-sized cube of course) and there’s something that has to give.

But, it doesn’t. Stretching is something mentioned in this blog more than once and I’ll continue doing so until Reed Richards leans back and says “DAaaaaaaaaaaaamn!”. Oh, I’ll also be using my annual poker reporting card to join the PokerStarsBlog crew once again for full coverage of the 114 events (!) of the 2011 SCOOP tournament series.

Sleep? For pussies. Luckily, I find an extra tank of natural Red Bull when musing about the scary turn card, so weaving some rather interesting workdays into the normal routine shouldn’t hurt.

Well, nothing that a caffeinated drink and bowl of Fruity Pebbles can’t solve. Yes that’s a double negative, but my blog is a grammatical train wreak anyway and nothing that Denzel Washington or any college professor of the verse could solve. Or hope to repeat for that matter.

Ok, vacation. The Spaceballs short-short version.

Flew to San Antonio
Mexican strip club (seriously, $100 gets you all the syphilis you could want to gather up with an endless bottle of Sol in your hand).
Mexican bathroom video (may post, may not, definitely don’t remember doing this)
Golf (windy and humid but struck the ball well including several drives that did not anger the local's roofs and windows)
Pouted, then pouted again
Hashed things out with wife
Happy again
Drove to San Antonio
The Alamo (awesome history lesson wish I had more time)
Riverwalk (tell me why there are no rails next to the river with $2 beers and Sangria specials?!!?!?)
None of your business
Twins lose to Yankees again
Raising Cane’s chicken strips at 10am (I’d gain 30 pounds if this place was near me)
Read Falstaff’s Hard Day’s Knight vol. 1 on the flight home (well done again sir)
Hugs from two kids and promptly pass out after tucking them in