Monday, December 31, 2007

A year in review from the jaws of a shark

One day before the start of the new year, or early this morning, I had the strangest dream.
Pull up a chair and I’ll tell you about it.
I was paddling in a hard scrabble canoe, in the kind of boat that rescued a few passengers on the Titanic. Only I wasn’t doing a very good job, and some unknown woman, not my wife (but don’t worry, honey, if you’re reading this because I’m pretty sure we weren’t having sex), starts bitching at me to paddle better. Finally I dunk us in the water, by mistake, and a huge shark starts chasing us, and I specifically remember this woman saying “Great, now we’re in the water while a shark is in it.”
The shark, though, was the shark from “Jaws,” so though it was kind of scary to be in dark waters with him chasing me, it was also sort of surreal. I wasn’t sure if I should be really terrified or just sort of wigged out.
And when I awoke this morning, at my Mom’s, with Jayden in between us because he escaped his room (my legs have bruises all down them from him kicking me) and the babies downstairs squealing for Grandmother, I tried to figure out what the dream meant.
Dreams don’t always mean something, but I think this one did.
Stay in your chair. This might take a bit. Here, let me get you a drink. It’s 11 p.m. Colorado time, an hour before the New Year, so I’m having one myself. It’s Boulevard, a Kansas City beer, and it has memories of home.
Wow. What a year. Kate and I were just saying that in just 19 days, it will be a year since our lives completely changed and we found out we were having twins. And hey, I know what they say, having kids changes your life, but our lives were already changed, thank you very much, thanks to Jayden. This was sort of like having a piano crashing over your head. Like that kind of a change, like you think you’ve got your life pretty well figured out, and then, well, now you don’t.
And boy, I bitched and complained and reveled in the news all at once, and as excited and intrigued by the whole thing as I was, I also was deeply concerned about one thing.
I did not want myself to die.
Now I wasn’t going to die, as in die die, as in Wile E. Coyote off the cliff with a little puff of smoke at the bottom. But Pokerpeaker, I feared, was going to die.
Hey, I knew some things would have to change. I tend to be a little, teensy bit selfish with my time. I’d have to learn how to be a morning person. I’d have to let some things go and really reduce a lot of other things, like being happy with the chance to play a video game for two hours a week instead of two hours a night.
Not a big deal.
But other things I didn’t want to die.
I didn’t want my mountain climbing was go off a cliff (heh). Hey, I wouldn’t climb as much, I knew that, but it could not go away.
I didn’t want my poker playing to go away. I still wanted to play online. Hey, I wouldn’t be able to play live very much, but I still wanted to play as much as I could.
And I still wanted to write and blog and do a good job at work.
And I wanted to run and stay in shape.
I wanted to still be me.
It’s a half hour before the time you’re supposed to asses whether your happy with your past year, and you wonder how you did in meeting your goals.
The mountain climbing, as predicted, did fade away some, but I was still able to guide three peaks this year. I wouldn’t want last summer to go as it did every summer, but I still got out a little bit. Now if I have another summer like last year’s, I’ll start to wonder if I’m truly still a mountain climber or if I just need to call myself a runner and be done with it. I’ll also have to eventually ask myself if I want to continue climbing the more difficult, risky mountains and whether that’s fair to my children. Running seems to be filling the competitive void that climbing, at least for now, and especially when I start doing those longer races like the one I’ll do this spring, a 15-mile race down the Poudre Canyon in Fort Collins.
This summer poker was a rough game. It saved me and caused me problems and was a source of stress when I didn’t need it and also helped me blow off even more stress. I think it was +EV on the stress reduction level, even though it wasn’t by much. Maybe 20 percent more stress blown off than it caused. I’ll have to run it through Pokerstove to be sure.
I dropped down to .10/.25 NL and usually played three tables a night just because I knew I needed to play a lot of hands and that I also wouldn’t be playing optimum poker because I was frazzled and tired.
It worked. I think, by the end of the three month period that every parent will tell you is total infant hell syndrome, I even made money. It was like $75 over hours and hours of cash game play, but it was still a profit.
Amazingly enough, not only did I achieve my goal of still playing, I discovered more about myself as a poker player. I am not a real tournament player. I am a frustrated tournament player. I am a good cash game player, however, and I have been since I started playing three years ago.
That’s what I do, and I’m good at it. So that’s what I’ll do from now on.
I’m still not much of a blogger. I don’t take the time too often to think about what I want to write before I start to write. When you write for a living, sometimes blogging is too much of a way to relax and just scribble out your thoughts. I need to change that. Blogging is a way to improve my writing and think out some complicated thoughts that I’ll be going through these next few years. Plus I need to figure out how it can be a larger source of revenue.
So this shark? Well, I took it as the shark trying to eat me, just as the twins and my crazy family life tried to get rid of who I was.
Only that’s what I thought. See, that shark was obviously fake, and I knew it in my dream. Those fears were false, a stupid reaction to an incredibly scary and stressful situation that I never thought would happen to me.
The twins were not going to kill who I was. They would only add to me.
Now I’m supposed to say how much better my life is now, that my life is changed for the better, and cue the Kleenex. But that’s not what you’ll read here.
Parents of twins, when we talk to others,will instead tell you that it was incredibly hard, but they made it through.
Thirty seconds to the New Year, and the real me is out of the water and back in that boat. Though we're not through yet, dammit, I survived.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Two bitches about poker

That's it.
I'm done.
Save for The Mookie, I'm completely giving up tournaments for a while.
There's no reason for me to play them anymore. In fact, I'm hurting myself by playing them. It cuts into my win rate at the cash games, and right now, that's nothing to fuck around with, given that I've successfully moved up a level, and I'm basically crushing them right now.
But I'm growing increasingly cynical about tournaments.
In a $22 SnG I played today, I made good moves and stole enough to be surviving despite shit cards until the bubble. I'm dealt A-A. My M is less than 5, so I push, hoping that it looks desperate. The big stack calls me with 5-5.
One 5 on the flop and IGHN.
This kind of shit has happened to me all through December, and it's made me hate tournaments at this point. I'm really, really sick of getting my money in good and getting screwed, and I'd feel better about it if I could win a race now and then, but I'm 0-10 in my last races, and I have yet to suck out on anyone.
This sounds like a Hoy rant, and honestly I can see why the guy seems so pissed off at poker all the time. He plays too many tournaments.
I don't see nearly as many stupid plays in cash games, and that's probably why I've done well in them. People don't suck out on me as often. They still do, by God, do they ever, but I win more than enough money to make it for that.
Perhaps I'm feeling the crunch that comes when you suffer the suckouts that you always will but don't make up for it by winning a race every once in a while. Whatever. I don't even want to analyze it right now.
I realize my tournament game needs work, but I also know I'll never be a great one. I don't steal enough, don't push people around enough and don't take enough advantage of situations where the other player shows weakness. So I need my hands to hold up to do well in them.
But I'm a good player, and I almost laugh now when Hoy said it takes more skill to be a tournament player than a cash game player. Bullshit. It takes more luck to be a successful tournament player. At least more than what I"m having right now.
I may play a few once again in February, but until then, I"m strictly a cash game player now, save for The Mookie.
My bankroll will thank me for it.

• • •
That's it.
I'm done.
I'm done playing Q-Q.
I don't know if I can bring myself to throw it away pre-flop, but I think I'm going to start.
It will surely save me money in the long run.
Last night I lost nearly a buy-in over several coolers, stuff like people getting a higher two pair, etc., just one of those frustrating nights when you're still playing well and saving yourself money when you know you're beat and yet you just keep getting coolered over and over and over.
Last night the Cunts cost me the most.
To understand how I truly feel about Q-Q, know that I hate that word. Tony Soprano saved the word for FBI informants. I reserve it for Q-Q only.
I had Queens three times last night and lost all three times with them. Standard. Once the guy playing K-Q got his flush on the river, which didn't cost me much, and the second time the guy had A-A, which only cost me a little more, and finally the third time the guy had K-K, which cost me more than half my stack.
Queens are my nemesis hand. I run into Aces or Kings probably far more often than statistically probable to do so. I mean it didn't even shock me when I ran into higher pocket pairs two of the three times because it happens to me all the time. And yet it happens live, too. In Vegas I lost a big pot pre-flop in a $1-2 NL game against a donkey who went all in with A-9 (I knew he had a weak hand) and got his A on the flop. I lost another hand in Black Hawk when the guy had Kings.
The thing is, I'm always careful with Queens. I know it's only a pair after the flop and only a good one at that. It's not like I push with them a lot. But I always seem to make a bad decision with them. When I'm aggressive with them, I run into Kings or Aces, and when I'm not, someone draws out on me by the river.
And let's not talk about when the other person has them. They're gold against me.
So, I fold them from now on.
At least for now.
What is your nemesis hand and why?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Flu Funk

I could not have picked a better time to get sick.
I don't have to move from this bed. I can sit here and play online poker and watch movies all day if I wanted, without apologies and without any hint of recourse from the wife because Mom is helping her with our brood, along with my brother and his family. Not only do I not help when a baby is crying, I'm hollered at for getting close to one.
And yet I'm feeling all kinds of sorry for myself. My brother tonight will get to enjoy a dinner with Dad at KC's finest BBQ place, with beans that taste like candy and sausage flavored with three different layers of smoke. As we speak Jayden is going outside to play in the snow and get some sledding in, and as our relationship continues to flounder, that's a job for Daddy, not my wife's husband. I'm obviously not welcome anywhere outside this room, all of them convinced I'm the spreader of the Black Plague. My brother jokingly put a Quarentine sign outside the bedroom door, though he was probably only half kidding.
Why the fuck did I get that flu shot?
My only sunshine today is the chance to do nothing but fun stuff, something I usually ache for, and the knowledge that Kate and Jayden had this little bug a few days ago and felt better after 24 hours. After a night of sitting on the pot all night and a puking session, I'm feeling much better today already. The 7-up seems to be staying down and the Wheat Thins are settling the former typhoon that was my stomach.
I'll be ready for New Year's Eve, maybe even Sunday night, when the NFL serves up a buffet of mostly meaningless games and I'll just hang with the kids and the family. But today I'll sit here and brood and maybe take out my misery on the fish at the tables. Maybe the next time I wish for a day in bed screwing around, I'll remember what it's actually like.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas and a scary moment

We made it to my Mom's after 11 hours of driving and a stop overnight at Kate's grandmother. The first day was seven hours on Christmas Eve, and the twins did great until the last hour, when the meltdowns reached Chernobyl level.

It's been a nice couple of days, and though we're not relaxing as much as I had hoped - let's face it, you still have to be a parent, no matter how much help you have and whether you're on vacation or not - it's still been a nice break. We're going to see Sweeney Todd (our first movie in a year) and have lunch at one of my favorite BBQ spots, and I'm thinking about going to the casino tonight to play some live poker, though the light snow may prevent me from doing that.

Kate was eating Christmas dinner at my Dad's and took far too big a piece of lamb and suddenly could not breathe. I've never seen that before, but I jumped up and did the Heimlech (sp?) on her and the piece of meat came out with a big burp.
Scary stuff.

Here are some photos:























May all your mornings be as beautiful as this one in the New Year:





Probably not, especially after that last post, but...

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Perspective

Today was one of those days when I really question why I'm a parent, and it officially started at midnight, sort of like a New Year's Eve in hell.
I was at a home game with friends over cheap poker. There was queso. There were nachos. There was Omaha and wild-card stud and a little bit of Hold 'Em. There was good conversation and hair metal on Comcast. I was in heaven.
Then the phone rang.
"I'm shaky, I'm sick, and the girls want to eat," she said.
And that's how I fell from heaven.
This is the price you pay for twins, and parents rarely talk about little sacrifices like this that we go through every single day. We have one baby, even with the toddler, and Kate feeds her and goes back to bed. But we have two, and so I'm needed at home, especially when Kate feels as if the black plague is crawling through her.
I run upstairs, pat Kate on the head and walk over to the nursery to grab a baby. Andie squeals when I enter the room. It's really cute and endearing. It's also not something you want to hear at midnight.
My fears are confirmed when I work Andie into a side position against my chest to help her sleep and she squirms and starts fighting me almost immeaditely. Translation: "I'm having none of THAT Daddy."
So, being the junkie that I am, I fire up three .25/.50 NL tables on Ultimate Bet and place Andie on a pillow on my lap. She gazes up at me and babbles. Allie, in her carrier, softly whines occasionally, but she seems sleepy.
I win $30 (woot!) and an hour and a half later, Andie goes to sleep, and Allie starts screaming. She wakes up Andie, and I pick up Allie and smell the worst. I open up her diaper. Jackpot!
At 2 a.m., I crawl into bed.
Kate wakes me at 7 a.m. miserable and cranky.
"I need to trade with you," she says and crawls into bed.
I think about protesting that this trade actually would be like trading a fourth-round draft pick for Randy Moss, but I think better of it. Kate's really sick. Poor thing. I go downstairs into chaos. Hi, girls, and hi, Jayden.
I never wake up fresh. It's more like the fog a bear must feel after hibernation.
Kate, through tears, says she doesn't want to drive to Kansas tomorrow. I say we must go because it will actually be harder to do another day with the kids without the extra help. So I:
Pack for Kate, the twins and Jayden
Play a $2.25 SnG while I'm doing this. I take second to a card rack.
Tinker with my computer.
Change the twins. I open Allie's diaper. Jackpot!
Run downstairs for laundry.
Wolf down some lunch.
Pack my suitcase for the trip.
Fold my laundry.
Calm down one of the girls at least 50 times.
Try to calm one of Jayden's tantrums. Unsuccessfully.
More laundry.
Pack more.
Answer "HA!" when Kate asks if I wanted to go running. Yes, but my eight-mile run Saturday will have to do.
By the time it's 1:15 p.m. and Kate's parents arrive to rescue us, I'm so frayed I threaten my beloved dog with a plastic bat to shut him up so his barking doesn't wake the twins.

And then I'm assigned to cover this story. Here's part of what I wrote for Monday's paper:

Shane and Amy Fuller didn’t want to break the news and tear a small piece of innocence away from their 7-year-old daughter, Kaylie.
No one in Johnstown, or any parent, for that matter, could blame them. No one wanted to hear what had happened to Zoe Garcia. But the TV blared Zoe’s name everywhere, and Kaylie knew enough about the Internet to see that something had happened to one of her best friends, and so the Fullers prepared themselves for the kind of news that should only come from the mouths of caring parents, not TV or the Internet. Shane told Kaylie to sit down, and he told her she had been killed.
Killed? But Kaylie was supposed to go over to her house the next day to play. She began to cry. Then she got angry. It was hard for her to understand why Zoe was beaten to death and why Zoe’s sister and her boyfriend were arrested in connection with her death.
“She wanted to know why people would do those things,” Shane said.
They didn’t have that answer. No one did. But they could offer their daughter one thing. There would be a candlelight vigil at Letford Elementary School in Johnstown, where Zoe filled the hallways with her smile and sat next to Kaylie in class.
“We talked about this being a chance to say goodbye,” Amy said.
That’s why dozens gathered Sunday night and clutched sad, shivering candles under a silver full moon and surrounded by neighborhoods lit by colorful Christmas lights.

I'm cutting it out and keeping it in my back pocket. When I face another day like today, I hope the perspective salves the pity I have for my difficult life.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Growth

Someone replaced my twin infants with squirming babies who eat all the time (yep, still at 3 a.m.) and have grown at the rate of a bamboo plant these last couple of weeks. Andie is now adept at doing "the worm" across the floor, which makes my heart heavy with cuteness every time I see it, and Kate thinks she's not far from crawling.
I'm not so sure, probably because I'm in denial. Mobile twins? Yikes.
What's also grown is my poker game. I'm not sure why but that Vegas trip put a bug in my brain that continues to whisper "play more aggressive" to me, and that's exactly what I've done lately, even at the cash games. Not only that but I'm suddenly playing $50 NL poker (yes, I'm rolled for it) again, and yet I'm playing the games even more aggressively than ever. I guess watching so many great players at work was good for my poker soul.
Of course, I'm didn't say I was winning. No, the tournament Gods have decided to fuck up my psyche and make me lose every hand that goes in pre-flop. If it's a race, a 60/40 or even a re-cock-u-lus 75/25, I'm gonna lose it. The suckouts have crept into my cash game, too, with people going all in on flush draws and hitting them and shit like that. Actually, I consider myself lucky to be breaking even in the cash games. A few flopped sets have helped with that.
Seriously, I'm looking forward to when this turns around, as it always does, because I will be red hot.
Christmas and the craziness that goes with it will cut down on some posting these next few days, but once I reach Kansas, I'll be a blogging fool, as I'll finally have a bit of time to do something for myself other than throw virtual chips around the digital cards. Saturday I've got a cheap home game with some longtime friends, something I'm really needing right now, and then the holidays will hit like Dorothy's tornado and sweep me to her home state.
I'll still play the Mookie tonight because life without the Mookie is no life at all.
And unfortunately I won't make this because I work Sunday nights, but I'll pimp it nonetheless because Trip is one of the coolest guys on the planet.
And it sounds fun, and fun is something we all need a little more of right now. Especially when it comes to poker.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Hangover

The best parts about getaways aren't the good times while you're there.
It's the hangover.
A weekend in Vegas with people I can now call real, flesh-and-blood friends was just what I needed to get through these next two weeks before I head to see my parents in Kansas and revel in the barbecue, old friends and extra help with the twins. This year the extra help makes me drool more than the barbecue.
Many of you are probably experiencing a let down after such a Grand 'Ole Time, but for me it's just the opposite. My desire to write well again has been restored (not always successful, though, as that last sentence shows), I'm playing much better, aggressive poker after watching all of you and my chat box is full of comments every night from those I enjoyed sin city with last weekend.
That's what was so intoxicating about mountain climbing. I'd work hard, to the point of exhaustation, but the next day, after dragging myself home, even after a climb that lasted 18 hours with a long drive home, I was renewed.
Vegas trips won't take the place of that, but this was the closest I've gotten in a while.
And boy, thank God, too, because the grind is really getting to me.
Work continues to knee me in the groin. As much as I love journalism, newspapers are asking their writers to do far more than we ever have, namely because staffs are sliced like thin ham (mmmm, I can already taste that barbecue) thanks to lean advertising and readership. I'm writing a tough story about a high school student with a brain tumor, and I doubt I'll get more than a few hours here and there to complete it, and that's just one of at least a half-dozen stories I'll need to write in the next four days. Meanwhile, Sunday I have to cover a biker toy run. Did I cover a biker toy run two weeks ago? I did indeed. No offense, Katitude, but there's only so much you can say about bikers with a teddy bear strapped to their handlebars.
And yeah, it's Christmas, so I have dozens of things to do to get ready.
And did I mention the twins? My nights are now reduced to offering me maybe a couple hours of free time. Any more than that, and I pay, sometimes dearly. I really need to write more for Pokerworks and blog more and pick up around the house more, but once I gently lay those girls in their cribs, all I want to do is something fun for an hour or two, and lately that's either poker or Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, and then it's time for bed.
The mornings usually start at the cruel hour of 6 a.m., after a night waking or two, and every minute is full, with diaper changings, outfit changes, feedings and strapping into the carriers, followed by a run in, lately, -6 degree weather. Two days ago the snot in my nose froze on my 3-mile run.
It's hard to go to work after that and make the grindstone spark, but I've done it well lately, thanks to Vegas.
After a weekend of no responsiblity and making new connections and pokerpokerpokerpokerpokerpoker, I can see the dim light at the end of this dark tunnel, and I'm heading for it full bore with gas in my engine and wings on my feet, until I crash into Kansas City, my hometown, and pull on the emergency brake with both hands.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Aces High

Jordan left me a message assuring me that our room was ready as soon as I landed Thursday afternoon in Vegas. G-Cox waited at the door and slapped me on the back. And Iggy pinned a golden hammer on my shirt as I sat on a barstool in the middle of the Imperial Palace, watching the kinds of hugs only longtime friends give to each other and wondering how I was going to break that ice.
The hammer was only a goofy pin. Iggy bought them by the gross, it looked like, and the Crown Royal girls (note to self, say no when Andie and Allie ask me if they can do that for a career) just couldn't seem to grasp its meaning.
"It's a poker hand. We just like to play poker," I told her.
"Oh, OK, Mr. 7-2 split," she said a couple minutes later.
But the pin also meant something. It's the most important thing I learned from this weekend, besides TripJax showing me how to dominate a poker table filled with bad players with the kind of (drunken) aggressive play that I only dream of doing one day myself.
Everyone seems to leave Vegas with a regret or two, despite the notion that what happens there stays there. But as I sit here in the airport with two hours of system and a peppermint shot bought by Al and Waffles still sloshing around in my system, I only have one, and that's playing a little too much poker and not talking to enough of you more, including Drizz, who is one of my better girly chat friends and was in the IP bars late Saturday night, but I could not pull myself away from the table.
I wasn't sure what this weekend would bring, and as you read in the last post, I was noticeably nervous about meeting so many new people.
Those nerves come from a long-standing mistrust of just about everyone. I'd much rather put on headphones and look out the window during a flight than learn something new about parenting from the housewife in the middle seat reading her Oprah magazine. It's not that I don't like people, I really do. It's just that I prefer the time to myself more.
This weekend I had maybe a half-hour to myself, and I loved every minute of it.
I can't really list all the fun times I had, and you're probably only getting around to reading this after your favorites, and yet another trip report about the mixed games, how someone stumbled because they were drunk and what they ate at 5 a.m. probably will just get this blog a "Mark As Read" on Google Reader.
There are no highlights because every minute was a highlight. I told myself to check my anal-retentiveness at the door and just go with it, and it was the best advice I ever gave myself, other than telling myself that I did indeed need kids in my life.
I loved how organic it all was. Plans changed every 15 minutes. People showed up to talk and faded away, only to re-appear again with an idea on how to spend an hour. Sometimes a quick bit of talk was the last time you were ever going to see that person (I left a lot of goodbyes on the doorstep of the IP, and that may be regret number two). I floated along, nodding my head like a bobble doll to just about anything that was suggested, and every time the unexpected turned into another great moment.
Here's Love Elf leading me away from the Venetian poker room after I busted in the 30s from the tournament, with Al and Smokee in tow, and doing a shot with the man himself. There's Speaker showing me some old-school Metal Church on his iPod, which led me to a buffet dinner at Harrah's with Katitude, and that brought me back to the IP, where TripJax and I (ahem, mostly TripJax) tilted a guy who looked like Mayweather's bodyguard and another guy who was divorced probably because his wife got tired of him straightening the dishtowels every three minutes and yet called Trip's all-in A-Q with K-8 because he was so blitzed by the Trip and then berating Trip for "getting lucky all the time."
I can't and won't list all the new friends here because I'll inevitably leave some of you out, and my brain is still trying to comprehend the misty three days and finding the wispy thoughts and moments are too hard to grasp. I believe it will just refer to it as "The Blogger Weekend in Vegas" and leave it at that, pulling out a memory or two to help me along when work starts to hit bone on bone or a run starts to hurt.
As much as I enjoyed Bad Blood's metal talk and CD, Elfie being Elfie and Smokee being Smokee, Mary's laughter, mixed games at the MGM, Carmen's hugs, TripJax's drunken friendship ("I love you maaaaan"), Gracie getting the kinds of hands at Pai Gow no girl as sweet as her deserves, Buddy Dank telling me that he had climbed all the 14ers in Colorado, only to discover there are more than he thought, the Black Widow's boundless energy, JJok's bright eyes and bushy tails, CC giving me crap for playing tight (so I raised his blind with 5-7 os), Stb's Hyde over lunch and time in the cab and his Jekyll at the poker table, Waffle's surprisingly mellow being, Falstaff's critiques of his play, Biggestron's ability to open a beer without a beer opener, Drizz buying the IP out of every last gray chip (others are right, that never gets old), Iggy's general warmth and welcomes and April's smirk whenever I would bitch about how hard it was to have twins, I can't list it all here without someone thinking that they didn't resonate with me.
You all did, and here's what I learned about this weekend.
I learned that I can do this. I can hang with Al, if only for one shot and only on a fresh head and clear stomach. I can play Omaha, even live in a casino with people who know how to play the game much better than most. I can introduce myself to people over and over without the slight ache in my gut an encounter usually brings.
And most of all, I learned that it is indeed worthy to talk to housewives on airplanes. It is worthy to fly out to Vegas for a weekend and leave your family, no matter how painful it is (and I miss said twins, Jayden, Denali and my champion wife dearly at this point), to meet a bunch of quasi-Internet strangers. It is worthy to let a bunch of people who are nothing like you, save for a shared vice for cards and maybe an interest in writing, and let them into your life.
I can't assume anything. After all, they say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but I think I've made a couple friends for life, or at least until next year, when I hope there's another one of these gatherings, including G-Cox, who was always there to hang with me and guide me through the vast collection of folks I might have been afraid to approach myself, and Jordan, who almost acted as my tour guide for the weekend and was the best roommate I could have picked for this trip.
I need to remove the hammer pin, the symbol that instantly told me that I was part of a special group regardless of any trepidations I may have lurking behind my eyes. It snowed five inches at home this weekend, and I need to shovel the driveway. I need to unpack. I need to kick some major ass at work these next couple of weeks, when I'll need to finish two major writing projects, do about a thousands interviews and continue to feed the hungry machine that is the daily newspaper business. I need to feed my girls and change their diaper and read a book to Jayden. I need to hold my wife and tell her thanks for letting me go to an awesome experience.
But when I do remove the pin, a way to tell myself the weekend is now officially over, I'll also tell myself to remember what I've learned this weekend. What happens there stays there? I hope not.
Life may go on, but life begins now.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

This is a Vegas post

So Vegas approaches, my first time flying solo with a bunch of people I only sort of know, and I'm trying to approach this trip with a "wait and see what happens" attitude.
And I'm mostly having success at this.
Mostly.
I have to admit, my stomach does churn a little at throwing myself into a crowd of people who don't really know me without much of a game plan. Sure, I've logged hundreds of hours with these people at Mookies, IRCs, Yahoos and even the occasional e-mail, but I don't know if you can really get to know a person that way. Part of me says no. Another part says that it's possible you get to know people better that way.
This is new to me. I usually always have an agenda tucked under my arm for any vacation. When I was on my own for a week climbing 14ers, I had those trips planned down to the hour I would summit each mountain. Here? It's a loose, random collection of WaitNSees bordered by Thursday night at the IP bar, Friday night at the MGM and Saturday at the tournament.
Yet that's all I want. I have no idea how these things will work. I have some general goals and I doubt I'll get to accomplish them all. And pardon the lack of links, but there's a lot of bloggers in these goals, and Allie looks like she's about to throw a fit.
• Try to forget about the guilt I feel for leaving Kate with our twins and Jayden. She'll be down at her parents for the weekend, but still, I'm struggling with this.
• Complement as many female bloggers as possible. If you're betting, you'd better take the over.
• Meet Gracie and show her my home movies of the twins on iMovie.
• Meet April and tell her thanks for the chats in IRC.
• Meet Drizz and tell him thanks for the chats on Yahoo as well as some of the funniest writing I've read on the Web.
• Meet Speaker and Pot Committed and tell them how much I love their writing.
• Talk Metal for a few minutes with Stb, Speaker, Al and my apparent Blood brother. Blood, I've made you a metal mix of groups you may not have (although you probably already do), so bring your thumb drive. Stb, Speaker and Al (and Drizz?), the offer also is open to you.
• Enjoy a run in the early morning hours.
• Have a dinner with TripJax, Gary and my roomie, Mr. HighOnPoker. I can't tell you how comforting it is to have a fellow blogger room with me who's also never done this.
• Play poker at Ceasars with said roomie Thursday afternoon.
• Win the tournament. See, I said you can't meet every goal. This one ensures that I won't.
• Learn how to play Pai Gow, then avoid it most of the trip. Avoid all other table games. Refuse to play in the World Series of Pai Gow.
• Relax, relax, relax.
• Let yourself sleep if you need to. Most other bloggers don't have twins.
• Pay off a bet with Biggeston for the World Series. I owe him two beers from a Colorado microbrewery.
• Meet Buddy Dank and enjoy his live radio broadcast.
• Say hi to my good buddies Carmen and Miami Don.
• Add a few more blogs to my roll.
• Hear B.W.O.P. do the Asian talk that I find really funny.
• Maybe get a purr out of Katitude without doing what one would normally do to get said purr.
That's too many already, so I'm going to stop there.

A few things/rules you should know about me:
• I don't know just how much I'll drink on this trip. I really don't enjoy getting drunk because it kills me and I've learned to not wreck my body when I'm already having a hard time functioning with the twins as it is.
So don't be insulted if I turn down a shot, and please don't push me to drink more than I already am. Also, I don't care one lick if you want to get bombed. That's your decision and you'll see no judgment from me. Hell, I'll even help you back to your room, and I won't roll you, take advantage of you or even take a funny picture of you once you're there (although holding your hair while you puke may be asking too much). So I don't disapprove. I just choose not to do it.
• If I tell you I like your blog, I really mean it. I am a professional writer myself and know what it's like to hear good things about your writing - we never really believe anyone reads our stuff, let alone likes it - so I like to tell others when I enjoy something. Even if you've heard me say it 20 times to others on the trip, I mean it.
• If anyone wants to go for a run one morning, let me know. I'm game. Maybe an afternoon hike away from the strip for an hour or so?
• I am naturally a little outgoing, sarcastic and friendly but also a little aloof and noticeably uncomfortable one-on-one, especially with people I respect and admire, which is most of you. Please don't be turned off by that. And if I turn you down for something, a breakfast, a dinner, don't be turned off by that either. I probably just need to be alone for a bit.

Oh, and one question:

Do people call themselves by their real names or by their "blog" name?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Here's what I did

I pushed.
Thanks for all the comments in the section. It was not exactly the wide-ranging discussion that Hoy gets on his blog, but I didn't post any fancy screenshots, and let's face it, he has probably five times the readership I do. For good reason.
This is a classic example of my game lately. I realize I need to increase my aggression and no longer settle for a $.68 cash on every MTT I enter. But there's a fine line between aggression and reckless abandon, and I'm having a hard time finding the difference.
The play is justified. It's hard to see how a flop of 9,9,3 helps a player who limps when the blinds are high and then calls your 3xs raise. Unless, of course, he called your raise out of position with K,9. That's a terrible play, in my mind, especially when the guy raising has you covered (what are you beating here exactly), but it's my fault for making the play profitable.
I pushed because I'm not betting 800 into a 3,500-chip pot, and checking does seem pretty namby-pamby, something I'm trying to change.
But I had enough chips even if I give up the hand, and so next time, I may have to take that into account. After all, I probably cost myself $1.23.

Friday, November 30, 2007

A hand from Riverchasers

You are dealt A-Q in MP.
Blinds are 200/400/75.
You, as usual, have a tight image, so you've been successful attacking checks and taking down pots mostly with continuation bets.
You have 6,500 chips, putting you in 12th place out of 40 runners left. Money is the top 9 spots.
You raise to 1,200.
Limper UTG calls. You have him covered but only by 400 chips.
Flop comes 9,9,3.
He checks to you.
The pot has a little more than 3,300 chips in it. You have about 5,000 left.
What do you do?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Babies that were....







Oh and here's the obligatory "aren't they cute now that they've moved to solid food shot"







Andie







Allie

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The grind

We were in McDonald's the day after Thanksgiving to let Jayden burn off some energy in one of those plastic playgrounds that looks like it was built for a giant hamster.
A guy was over there watching his children, and I ignored him, as I usually do in public, since I'm such a social butterfly.
When we traded off, and I started wolfing down some pancakes and sausage, Kate came back in and said, "That guy has twins."
My ears perked. Sweet. Someone to comiserate with us. And his twins were boys! Heh! He must have had it worse than us.
"Yeah, it was pretty hard," he said. "That first year. Wow."
I nodded my head, soaking in the sympathy. Yep. That first year. Wow.
"Of course, they slept through the night at three months," he said.
"Oh, really," I said through gritted teeth, fighting the urge to hit him with a tray.
Our girls are six months old now, and they are not sleeping through the night. In fact, their sleeping habits are much worse now than they were at three months. I actually remember telling my running partners at that time that they were basically making it through the night.
Last night? Allie woke up at midnight for a feeding, using her newfound opera-star lungs for emphasis. Andie woke up at 1:30 a.m. for a feeding (I took that one). Allie woke up at 3 a.m. and screwed around a bit. Andie and Allie both woke up at 4:45 a.m., hungry again. Then at 5:15 a.m., Andie decided it was time to get up and began squealing, and when that didn't work, decided to fuss. Kate probably jolted out of bed seven times to put the pacifer back in her mouth, but we were both awake after 4:45 a.m. Kate left for work at 6:45 a.m. and let me sleep until 8:20 a.m.
I am not only sick of the grind of the twins right now, I'm sick of not having the energy to do the grind because we can't ever rejuvenate at night.

To top things off, Jayden is 2-and-a-half and in full toddler mode. He's sometimes just impossible to deal with. He wants his mommy all the time, which honestly makes me wonder sometimes why I bother. I realize that's a pretty immature attitude but at times like these I can't help it.

Which reminds me.
Vegas.
10 days (right?).
Vegas tempts people with all sorts of vices. Pai Gow, poker, slots, rich food, alcohol, casual sex, strippers, skin, probably drugs if that's your thing. I'll partake in my fair share of poker and good times with virtual friends.
But Vegas may just tempt me with sleep most of all. I'll do my best to resist, but the siren song may be too much to resist.

P.S. Come back for cute pictures tommorow, just so you don't think I'm hating them too much. :)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Gimmie a break and Working on my endgame

So I”m sitting in a big, easy chair, fighting sleep, with a belly fully of turkey, stuffing, cranberry AND pumpkin pie.
I’m content.
That’s unusual for me, considering I busted out of the Mookie last night in 13th place and ran just under 24 minutes in the Turkey Trot today.
Normally I would be more upset at the 5K today. The Turkey Trot just might be my favorite race, and 24 minutes is a horrible time for me. Just terrible. I haven’t ran that slow since, well, I started running semiseriously three years ago.
Last night’s deep run in the Mookie wouldn’t bother me nearly as much, but still, it was disappointing not to cash, considering I had a pretty sizable stack through most of the night and it was one of those nights where everything seemed to go right. I was making great reads, catching good cards, flopping flushes and generally playing my ass off. That is, I was playing well until the end.
More on that in a moment.

So normally I’d be mad at myself on both counts.
But I’m not.
I’m giving myself a break.
I’ve been fighting a pretty horrible cold, as I said last time, and though I’ve started to feel better today, where it should be completely gone by Saturday,
As much as I would love to think that I”m immune to things like that, I'm not. When I started, I felt weak, and I could not breathe once I ran faster than a 7:30 per-mile pace. So I didn’t. I smiled and ran a hard, tough but slower race than I’m used to. I don’t think starting out in 10-degree weather helped either.
The thing is, had anyone else, my running partner, a friend, IG or anyone who told me that they had a bad cold three days before a race (and had to take off a couple weeks a month ago because of a snipping, although IG probably wouldn’t tell me that), I’d say, “well, you ran all right then.”
But in the past, I’d just ream myself and refuse to give myself a break.
No more. I had a cold. I ran hard. Most, I don’t think, would even be out there, let alone finishing in the top 150 of a 2,000-person race.
No, I’m not happy with the time, but I was happy to be out there.
I’m liking this newer me.

And I’m giving myself a break in the Mookie because I’ve done really well in MTTs lately. I’ve either cashed, found myself in the points or gotten fairly nice scores.
But I haven’t won any of them.
I haven’t even really taken down a big score in any of them.
That’s a serious hole in my game.
And it will be fun trying to work on it.

I believe my beginning and mid-level tournament game is solid. I rarely bust out early in any MTT, and usually by the second hour, I’m in good shape. I’m patient, aggressive when I need to be and my post-flop play is probably better than average, even better than the average blogger, if there is such a thing. I’ve greatly improved my stealing and bluffing as well. Sure, I do ultimately need a few cards to get chips, but most players do, especially in those stages.

But my end game is weak. That’s where my patience probably hurts me.
Last night in the Mookie I had a great stack, and then Buddy Dank picked me to win, and my cards immediately went zombie. It’s a good thing they were virtual because I would have had frostbite.
And there’s my weakness. I continue to wait for good cards when the blinds are high, and every orbit takes a substantial chunk out of my stack, and I just let it happen. By the time it’s push or fold, I still wait for a good hand.
In fairness to me, it’s a tough time to expand your range. You’ve played for almost three hours, as I did in the Mookie last night, and you don’t want to put all that time in the trash by going out on, say, J-2 offsuit. You don’t want to go out on K-10 either. And if you’re playing with good players with big stacks, as I always do in the Mookie, they’re probably raising a lot, and I don’t want to call a raise with Q-9, even if it’s sooted. Last night, too, almost every time someone raised, they would show down a good hand, and many times it was a big pair. So I was correct to fold, even if it was costing me.
I live and die by the Gap Concept.
Finally, if you try to steal, and someone wakes up with a hand or catches on to what you’re doing or is a great player and simply decides to challenge you ( Hoy and
TripJaxare great at this) and you fold, at those blinds, you’re suddenly hurting.
But I can’t continue to play well and settle for a $5 profit in the Mookie after three hours of play. I really need to finish it off.
So here’s what I’ll work on:
• Stealing more - If it’s folded around to me, I need to raise it up and challenge the blinds more often. The great players do this consistently.
• Re-stealing - I barely do this at all. I honestly have no real idea how to know when to re-steal.
• Opening my range - If I’m pushing or folding, I may just have to push with mediocre hands, especially if I’m in late position.
• Taking better notes on players - Some players are obviously stealing my blinds, especially if they watch me play. I need to make those players pay while respecting others.
• Re-read Harrington's advice on Endgame poker play.
• Taking more chances - I saw so many sick suckouts last night. I hardly ever get one of those. Is my luck that bad, or am I never giving myself a chance to suck out? My luck is not that bad. In order to suck out, you have to take a chance every once in a while.
• Not go card dead at the end of an MTT - OK, this one is out of my control, but I’ve caught all my good cards too early in a tournament. I also need to make sure that doesn't happen. Tinfoil hat here I come!

The trick is balancing these plays with my usual solid game that’s done me well. Any suggestions on how to improve my endgame in MTTs would be much appreciated. Am I way off on what I need to work on? What's your endgame game plan?

Speaking of the end game, the time is here for my Kansas Jayhawks, No. 2 in the country, and they’ve got No. 3 Missouri, their hated rival, for a possible eventual chance to play for the national title.
Amazing. This will never, ever happen again. I’m still waiting for Rod Serling to appear and tell me it was all a dream. KU vs. MU in the game of the year.
Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My 300th post - sniff, sniff

No, I'm not all choked up for my 300th post. Instead I'm sitting at my desk here sniffing and sneezing and using sandpaper-like paper towels to wipe my ever-seeping nose and generally pouting and feeling pretty damn sorry for myself.
I swear, I should just build a plastic bubble with all the essentials (laptop, nachos, old episodes of High Stakes Poker), so I can move into it whenever I heard my kids sniffling. They are such little germ collectors. I mean we keep a pretty clean house. The kids don't play with rats, the house is reasonably picked up (it would probably horrify a representative from Better Homes and Gardens but it works for us) and we clean them up after every meal (as clean as they'll get, anyway; the only way to really do the job would be using a hose at one of those power car washes).
Yet they seem to pick up plenty of colds, and every damn time, I get it. I mean every time. There was a period before I had kids that I didn't get sick for four years. Now I am sick every couple of months. Ugh. This cold, of course, comes right before my favorite 5K of the year, the Turkey Trot for Thanksgiving, a race that got me started in running, when I was all proud of myself for actually finishing a 3-mile race.
I felt the cold coming on Saturday and Sunday, and I tried to ignore it. Denial, it turns out, does not beat a cold. I am starting to take mega doses of Vitamin C and something called Airborne and it seems to help. I did run today and it didn't seem to affect me too much, although I know my strength isn't where it should.
The girls just got FIVE shots today (ouch!) at the doctor's. I hope the wife had him throw in a cold shot or two. I guess they did get a flu shot.
I'm going to play the BoDonkey tonight for the first time in a while since the kids and Kate are down at her parents for the Thanksgiving holiday. I'll head down there after my race. That means extra time for poker and sweet, sweet sleep.

So I'll continue with this post after that.

OK, now I'm at my desk at home. I just finished the Bodog tourney. I finished 6th. Ran a desperate Q-10 into A-A. I got my money back. The rest got $109 in tournament dollars. If you aren't playing this tournament, well, why not? It's a great deal.

With no kids in the house, it's extremely tempting to stay up late, but I need to go to bed to get better. Arena Rock ruled the night. And I need to hit the hay.
Just as soon as I get through playing Grand Theft Auto.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Entertainment that night

So it's my job to entertain the girls when Jayden is getting a bath. Usually they go down right after, so they're always a little fussy and tired.

So sometimes I get desperate.





Thursday, November 15, 2007

Meh

Last night I managed to not really cripple myself but tear a chunk out of me anyway, sort of like when you step on a nail, in the Mookie last night.
I was also playing the Dookie and was considering a hand when Full Tilt buzzed me. I had just won a big hand with J-J and had 7,000 chips, which left me in the top 20, maybe even the top 15, I believe. I had played well the whole tournament, stealing, making good contination bets (for once) and getting a couple nice hands.
At the buzz, I clicked on the call button, and found that I had just called off a raise and a re-raise with Q,4os.
Awesome.
The flop brought me a queen and two nines, but TripJax bet large, and while I considered shoving, given that it was TripJax and he had a huge amount of chips and was capable of making a move on both those factors, I still folded because I did not think he would re-raise with nothing. It turns out he told me had me beat but just barely.
In the past such a moronic, stupid mistake would tilt me.
But I didn't even care.
Poker's been like that lately.
As Vegas approaches, I find myself caring less about poker every day, for the first time in at least three years.
The Mookie was the first time I played all week, and I'll skip Riverchasers tonight. As excited as the BBT2 is, my family life and work schedule doesn't allow me to play all the events. In fact, I can only play one a week , and I'm lucky if I make that. That leaves me at a serious disadvantage. So I hope they continue to host these contests, as they are really fucking cool, but I really can't take part in them fully just yet. Maybe in a couple of years.
Occasionally I get in these life funks, and usually I just tell myself to quit being a pussy and shake them, but a few times a year I really can't, and this is one of those times.
There's no reason for it. Work is still good, family life is fine, and after a brief hiatus to get my balls whacked, I'm running strong in time for the Turkey Trot 5K Thanksgiving race.
Ah, maybe that's it. I have post mortem depression.
I do think part of it is the twins have forced me into biorhythms that aren't really me. I would love to stay up until midnight every night and wake up at 7:15 or so, but instead I'm going to bed at 11 p.m., vaguely unsatisfied, and waking up at 6 a.m., sprinkled with wakings at 2 a.m., 3 a.m., etc. It's all catching up to me.
I don't know if poker itself is why I don't want to play or if it's this bluesy feeling I can't shake. I plan on dinking around in a cash game tonight and quitting when I don't want to play anymore, which might be right away. Maybe I need to hit up Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (yes, an old game, but one I've just discovered) and go kill a few innocents.
At least then they can't outdraw my set.


P.S. Congrats go out to Scott for his news on the twins. Welcome to the club. It's not something I would wish on anyone, but it's also been the greatest experience of my life.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The gift that kept on giving - until we got tired

My birthday was Friday, and my wife asked me what I wanted.
Other than the usual wisecracks, I told her I only wanted one thing.
Time.
Time is the most precious commodity we have (or, usually, don't have) in our house.
So Friday night, Kate and I went to a Japanese steakhouse, the kind where they cook the food in front of you and throw bits of chicken for you to catch in your mouth. I love watching the chefs throw their cutlery around, just barely missing a finger (both the patrons' and the cookers) and slicing up the veggies and meat with the skill of a veteran serial killer. But I love the food even more. I think shrimp on a grill just might be my favorite food. It's even healthy so you don't have to feel guilty about eating it.
And Saturday, at 10 a.m., Kate dropped me off with a longtime buddy of mine.
It was time for Black Hawk poker!
If there's one thing I truly do mourn since the twins were born, it's time with my friends. Sadly, I just don't get that much anymore. It's not fair to the other person to leave the house at night with three kids up and around (two infants and a toddler I should say), and so everything has to work out just right, and it has to be planned like a D-Day invasion. We went down to Kate's parents in Lakewood for the day, so she would have extra help, and though it worked great, as an example, we packed enough clothes, diapers and other baby crap to get the adults through a month in Germany. It took me five minutes to pack for me and an hour, at least, to pack for the kids.
So Saturday would be great for two reasons. I would get to spend time with a close friend, and I would get to play live poker.
Now it's Black Hawk poker, $2/5 limit, so it wouldn't be very imaginative, skilled or quite frankly much fun at times. But it's still live poker, and complaining about live poker, especially now that I rarely get to leave the house, would be like bitching because your peanut butter pie didn't quite have enough whipped cream.
Probably the most interesting hand came when someone raised and I looked down at a pair of 8s. I called, and an older, 60ish, friendly, chatty lady with a thick Texas accent called as well.
We called her Auntie Poker because she would have made a great aunt. You'd learn how to play poker, and the Thanksgiving dinners would be a lot more lively. But she's also the typical Black Hawk poker player. She wasn't a total idiot, but she played a lot of hands, especially if it was soooted, chased every draw (correctly, if you're into odds) and overvalued marginal hands.
The flop came 8,9,2 with two spades. The original raiser, a young, cool, aggressive player who had climbed Longs Peak seven times (so I liked him right away), bet, Auntie called, and I raised with two spades and a straight draw out there. The raiser re-raised me and Auntie called. I paused for a second and figured if he had a set of 9s, congrats, and re-raised to $20. He just called, and Auntie Poker called.
The third spade came down, a 5, and my heart sank. I did not put the younger guy on a spade, but I definitely put Auntie on one. I figured she had to have some kind of draw. I checked it around. Maybe that's weak but I didn't want to get check-raised, and there was a ton of money in the pot already. Plus I was hoping the board would pair. I weakly checked it around to the river and showed my 8s. The younger guy had K-K, and Auntie mucked. I have no idea what she had. Maybe JJ? I wouldn't even put her past a pair of 9s.
I got A-A three times and it held every time, and I flopped a set of queens and later Kings, but those didn't get much action, and almost all the rest of my big hands, few as they were, didn't get much either. I also did not have a draw hit all day and didn't get a straight or a flush the whole day. And I took a flush too far on a paired board and couldn't fold TPTK to a set of 4s, though in this game it didn't cost me too much, and it's hard to fold a strong hand when it's only $5 more to call and there's a ton in the pot and the players will bet second pair all the way down.
The last two hours we were in card dead hell, and we relied on the Kansas game to entertain us.
What a game. KU played a tough OSU team at their place and really controlled most of the game. It's really unreal that they will most likely be 11-0 and playing for a spot in the national title game. I have to say that over and over to believe it. This is like the Bad News Bears going to the Little League World Series.
As a bonus, my Mookie Vegas bet was on the game, so I'm gonna get a nice payoff for that. Ship it!
As we drove home, we talked poker, our relationships and football. It was disappointing to finish down, but the poker was not about the money. Not today.
The time spent playing it was much more valuable than that.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A short memo to my twins

TO: Andie and Allie
FROM: Daddy
RE: Daylight Savings Time


Look, I know this "Daylight Savings Time" thing is confusing to you. I'm not sure why we still have it, to be honest. But all it means is that when you wake up at 5 a.m., it is no longer 6 a.m., as you probably believe.
It's 5 a.m.
So there is no need for you to start squealing, chirping, hollering or generally telling the world you are wide awake and ready to go. Trust me, girls, 5 a.m. is no time for you to be awake.
You can sleep an extra hour.
Heck, even two, if you want.




P.S. Please?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Hi, Son and other Sunday thoughts

In many ways, the twins are more challenging than Jayden, but there's one thing that's much easier.
Their love is unconditional.
Case in point.
Saturday night:
Me: "Hey, Jayden, do you want to sit with Daddy while we watch Toy Story?"
Jayden: "No."
Me: "Why not?"
Jayden: "NO!"

Um, OK.
This after I spent the whole day with Jayden Friday, as I do every Friday. I drove for an hour, one way, to take Jayden to see a wildlife sanctuary because I thought he'd like the big tigers and lions. He did. I brought extra snacks for him and changed his increasingly gross diaper (toilet training needs to happen soon, I just wish we had the time) and lay with him before he took his nap so he could fall asleep with Daddy by his side.
Saturday was a tough day. I had lots to do and got very little of it done because I was constantly caring for a twin. This is the side of twins that most never see. That's why our friendships have eroded and why simple little errands around the house, like putting a book on a shelf or reading an article in Sports Illustrated, take more planning and determination than an Everest expedition (and for those of you who aren't obsessed with peaks, that's a LOT). Our lives are dominated with day-to-day care of babies.
The thing that sucks the most about that is my relationship with Jayden cracks at time as well. I spent maybe 15 good minutes with him all Saturday. The rest of the time I was holding a baby.
Granted, part of this is my fault. I didn't have to pay such close attention to my Kansas Jayhawks as they ripped apart Nebraska, but I never thought I would see a 76-39 game and have it be a Kansas football team that was putting up the 76. So I'm not innocent here. I could have read Jayden more books Saturday during the game.
But I always feel as if I'm having to prove myself to Jayden while Kate gets love and attention. She's Mom, he's 2, and I understand that, but I also wish we could be closer, and I don't know that's going to change much while the twins demand so much of our time.
I just hope I don't relate too much to "Cats in the Cradle" in a couple years.


The good news is I finally got to go running today for the first time since I got snipped last Wednesday. I ran almost 10 miles. Yeah, I was a little pent up. I hadn't taken that much time off in three years, and I felt sluggish at first, but it also felt good to feel tired and a little pain today.

Poker is going well. The cash games continue to go well, but my MTT play is finally coming around. That was always the worst part of my poker game, but I've cashed three times in a row in the Mookie, cashed in Riverchasers, cashed in an 90-person SnG, finished third in the Bodog blogger tournament (unfortunately I can't make this Tuesday again, this time because of work again (elections), but it's a great deal and you should come out) and last night I finished 13th in a 255-person $11 MTT Turbo on Bodog (great new look by the way).
All of this was just in the last three weeks.
I realize these are not huge scores and weren't worth brag posts, but I'm finally getting more aggressive in the later stages and I'm stealing far more than I did last year, when I just waited for good cards even near the end and whined when I didn't get them. Yes, I've gotten some good cards during this streak, and yes, I haven't been sucked out on much (amazing how far you can go when your favorites actually hold up), but I think the big difference has been my ability to steal now. It's not all cards. I got a big pair, KK, once in the whole Turbo tournament.


I still can't believe Kansas is in the national title hunt. I can barely say those words without laughing. We keep this up and we'll be in a BCS bowl. I don't expect Kansas to play for the title, but to play in one of those bowl games would be something. Basketball is coming, and Kansas is ranked in the top 5, and I'm not even as wrapped up in it as I normally am because the football team is so good.


I finally cashed in Fantasy Sports Live. I took second in the Sundays with Dr. Pauly contest. I didn't have any grand notions of making a ton of money with this, but I know I'm capable of breaking even. My fantasy team in my keeper league, a tough league, is the hottest in the league again now that Drew Brees has wiped the sleepers out of his eyes. But I began to doubt my ability after finishing sixth or seventh every week.
This is a start.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Here comes da Hammer!

You know it must be Halloween when the hammer dresses up like a good hand and smokes A,K:



finchyz is at seat 0 with $9.
j madden is at seat 1 with $9.75 (sitting out).
jeffmangum is at seat 2 with $27.09.
Racquetball2 is at seat 3 with $28.19.
dennin is at seat 4 with $27.76.
Buk is at seat 5 with $19.68.
Zdiggidy26 is at seat 6 with $11.08.
trthorny is at seat 7 with $99.44.
pokerpeaker is at seat 8 with $25.
gofast36 is at seat 9 with $25.39.
The button is at seat 6.

trthorny posts the small blind of $.10.
pokerpeaker posts the big blind of $.25.

finchyz: -- --
jeffmangum: -- --
Racquetball2: -- --
dennin: -- --
Buk: -- --
Zdiggidy26: -- --
trthorny: -- --
pokerpeaker: 7h 2c
gofast36: -- --

Pre-flop:

gofast36 folds. finchyz folds. jeffmangum folds.
Racquetball2 folds. dennin calls. Buk calls.
Zdiggidy26 folds. trthorny folds. pokerpeaker
checks.

Flop (board: Ks 7d 2s):

pokerpeaker bets $.25.
dennin folds. Buk raises to $.75.
pokerpeaker re-raises to $3.10. Buk calls.


Turn (board: Ks 7d 2s Jh):

pokerpeaker bets $7.05.
Buk goes all-in for $16.33.
pokerpeaker calls.

River (board: Ks 7d 2s Jh 9c):

(no action in this round)




Showdown:

Buk shows As Kc.
Buk has a pair of kings.
pokerpeaker shows 7h 2c.
pokerpeaker has two pair, sevens and deuces.


Hand #47285948-3465 Summary:

pokerpeaker wins $38.13 with two pair, sevens and deuces.

(Granted, I did not play this hand great, but you win when you play your hand even slightly better than your opponent - usually - and he played this hand horribly.)



We've got trick or treating with the toddler and the twins tonight. The twins are Tigger and, um, Tigger (obnoxious twinning alert) and Jayden will be Dash from The Incredibles, probably the most appropriate costume in the history of Halloween. Expect photos posted early tommorow.


But after that, I'll be here:





And then here:







So that's the Mook, the Dook and the Spook in one night.


Sounds like more fun than a barrell of zombies. See you tonight!

Monday, October 29, 2007

When does the next World Series start again?

Last night I did something I had not done in front of a baseball game in 20 years.
I paced.
I also walked rapidly around the room, punched a pillow or two and said “Come ON” a few times under my breath and through gritted teeth.
My wife would tell you I act that way all the time, but only during Kansas basketball season and occasionally when the Kansas City Chiefs are playing in a meaningful game, which happens about once every five years. Yep, during a Kansas hoops season, that’s about the usual play around the house, cursing under my breath (Jayden imitates me now after all) and swatting a pillow after yet another turnover.
But last night the Colorado Rockies were swept by the Boston Red Sox, and that means a couple things. It means I owe a Boston blogger or two a Colorado beer. Worst of all, it means the fun is over.
I had forgotten how much fun that was.
I was a Kansas City Royals fan. I still am, actually. Years ago, as I grew up in Kansas City, Kan., it was good to be a Royals fan, as they won a lot and had players such as George Brett and Frank White and Bret Saberhagen. They won the World Series in 1985. Then they didn’t go the playoffs again, like, ever.
The Rockies were my national league team, but I wasn’t a serious fan until, well, that little streak. The one where they won pretty much every game for two months. That was fun. Really, really fun. And now it’s over.
Bummer.
This is not to bash the Rockies. No way. This is a love letter of sorts. They helped me rediscover my love for baseball. There’s a reason all those books sit on my top shelf and I own Ken Burns’ PBS series that made the game seem like God chose it as his own. I really used to love it.
But then economics played too much of a part in the game, and it started to turn me off. The NFL, for instance, would not have a team make the playoffs 14 straight years (although I’m starting to wonder about the Patriots) like the Yankees because all the teams share revenue and have a salary cap.
The unfairness of it all hurt teams like the Royals and later the Rockies, even if Colorado did give $374 billion to Mike Hampton, who thanked us by giving up only six runs a game. That and the fact that those two teams sucked for many, many years, while my Kansas basketball team continued to win, helped convince me that baseball was somewhat of a waste of time. I followed it always, but only the way you might follow a girl in the park with your eyes: You look, smile, linger a bit and then move on.
Well, that was then. This postseason, maybe, convinced me otherwise. The Rockies should be good next year. I’d be shocked if they weren’t. And if they aren’t that great, well, I know now to just hang in there, until August, and they’ll win 30 in a row and take the division again.
Only this time, I’ll be waiting until that streak happens, on Opening Day, counting the months until September and wondering if Holliday can win another battling title.

Edit: Speaking of Kansas, the football team, not the basketball team, is 8-0. That hasn't happened since 1908. That's right. 1908. My GRANDFATHER wasn't even born yet. Was the car around yet? I think Ty Cobb played back then. Indoor plumbing was still a dream (prompting me to never complain about diapers again; can you imagine fighting over who had to clean out the hole in the ground?).

Friday, October 26, 2007

Only getting bettah

Well, other than the fact that it looks like doctors replaced my balls with two blueberries, things are much better today. And I'm home today, by myself, for only the second time since the twins were born, to rest up. That's a nice reward for this, other than eventual sex without having to worry about having twins again.

I know all you females who had a C-section are just saying "waaaaaahhhh, deal with it," and you're right, this wasn't nearly as bad as that, but there is a unique, sickly pain with getting kicked in the junk that's hard to describe. Something like eating bad, Spicy Chinese and washing it down with five shots of Everclear, and then having to change three toddler diapers.

I played the Riverchasers for the first time last night and had a blast. I also caught some good cards and stole just enough and sucked out royally once to finish 13/104 for an incredible $2 profit. Who said tournaments aren't profitable? I ran Presto into Lucko's 7s, who managed to flop a full house just to add insult to the injury.

It looks pretty bleak for my Rockies now. They had their chances last night, but the Series isn't over. If the Rockies win Saturday we've got a shot at it, although stealing one from Beckett might be a pretty tall order, like me actually winning a blogger tournament again.

I'm hanging in there again, so you should too.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Day After

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P.S. Go Rockies. That could also be referring to game 1 but I think we'll come back strong tonight. We'd better.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Today's the day of the rest of your life

Um, yeah, or tommorow's the day (if you're reading this Wednesday, then today is the day) I get snipped.
Fixed.
Neutered.

I'm not really nervous about it. Honest. The Mookie tonight will cheer me up. And I get part of the day off work, so that's always a bonus.


Um...

OK.


Update tommorow. If I can put the laptop on my lap without crying.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Poker Hell

Thursday night I flirted with purgatory. Friday night was a tiny slice of heaven, even if I lost and didn't catch many cards worth playing and had to lay down a set of 10s on a A,J,10 board when two players moved all in on it.


Saturday at the Luxor? Well, the first hour started pretty well at $1-2 NL. I scooped a pretty big pot by raising with A-K and getting an K on the flop and calling off a guy's stack. I got a full house with J-10. Then I overplayed a pair of 10s against an extremely aggressive players' Q-Q and lost a big pot.
The Gods saw my arrogance and decided to punish me.
J-3. Q-3. K-3. A-2. 8-3. 7-4. The crap started to come in bunches, sometimes for two or three orbits. And the table started to fill with donkeys. There was the muscled guy with a huge, hair-blown haircut who yelled at the cocktail waitress to bring him sour drinks and re-raised all in three times with A,10, winning twice. There was the guy who pushed many times with third pair. There was a youngish guy with a scruffy beard who enjoyed betting $2 into a $50 pot but would also raise with trash and blew through at least $400 after saying he needed cab fare to head to the airport. There was the guy two spots to my left who put $200 into the pot with Q-8 on a Q-high pot and his wife, who didn't even know her options after the flop came down. There was the Asian Q-8 played against, who called all that money he put in with 9-9 and got a 9 on the river and later re-raised all-in with A-Q.
And I continued to remain ice cold. J-8. Q-5. K-2. Every time I got a playable hand, like, you know, Q-10 sooted, a guy would raise and re-raise, so I'd have to trash it. So the old man who raised all in with A-4 on an A-high flop would remain unchallenged by me. So would all the others. They would continue to get drunker. I would watch with drool down the corner of my chin as they moved all in with Q-J. Meanwhile, I got 10,9 three hands in a row. I played them all three times. They didn't even hit a draw. When I got it a few times later, UTG, I pitched it, and the flop came 6-8-7, and yet another donkey pushed in $200 with...6-4.
Sigh.
You can't call in position and hope to take the pot away. Not with these calling stations. In my mind, you just have to wait for a hand. If you disagree, or know how to beat a table like this without cards, please comment and let me know because I'm stumped. I played a lot of trash in the hopes of catching something on the flop. I never did.
I've never had a more frustrating session in my life. Definitely not live, anyway.
It tells me I can beat the game. It also tells me I may have a few limitations. Whatever I did, Poker Gods, I'm sorry, because I don't want to remain in Poker Hell.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Last Day in Vegas

I don’t know if I’m in the mood to talk about poker or not, but here’s what I did in that hand I posted about yesterday. I folded. It probably seems like an easy fold to you, but, as is the general theme this weekend for both my $1-2 NL sessions, top pair is not only gold, it’s platinum, given the dearth of playable hands I’ve had and the even fewer I’ve had hit the flop.
Plus most of the players I”ve run against were willing to lose their whole stack on top pair, regardless of their kicker.
But I do play tight. I’m not an especially creative player. And I’m always worried in new situations of someone taking advantage of that.
Still, I folded for another day, Friday, when I got to play poker with Carmen and Miami Don.
The main reason I folded was not because of the bet, it was because he looked down at his hand before he called my bet. I’ve never seen a situation where someone looked at his hand before calling a bet if he didn’t have a hand. The exception is if he’s on a draw, and there was no draw out there. Given that practically everything beat me out there, and I knew he had a hand and wasn’t bluffing, I folded.

Friday was a good session only because I got to meet Carmen and Miami Don, who are great, funny people. I really enjoyed meeting them.




And, well, we played this:






A quarter of the male blogging population probably just dropped their laptops. Did you hear that? I think Waffles’ head just exploded.

Alas, the poker wasn't THAT interesting. In fact at the MGM it wasn’t interesting at all. I won the first hand I played and the last hand I played. I won nothing in between. I didn’t completely lose my buy in, but it got whittled down pretty well. The highlight of my evening was getting to fold a set of 10s, the best hand I’d seen by far in two days, on a J,A,10 board on the turn after one guy went all in and another player pushed $150 more on top of that.

I always question my ability when I have two long, significant losing sessions in a row. I’ve come to the conclusion that I think I played fine. You can’t make many moves at pots when four people are willing to call any raise. I bluffed a couple times and got called by third pair once and the other I gave up on the turn.

I played last night, at the Luxor. I'll write about my poker experience later. It didn't go well again.

Otherwise we’ve had a great time relaxing. Kate woke up today and said, “I’m ready to go home." I miss my kids. It’s the first time I’ve missed them in a while. Missing your children is a good thing. You stop taking it for granted that they’re going to be around forever.

The cigarette smoke is still sticking in my nostils, and the whirl and buzz of the slot machines are still ringing through my ears, and last night's buffet meal is slowly crawling through my gullet. It's hard to get Vegas out of my system, but I'm working it out.
It's snowing in Colorado. I may go for a run tonight regardless.

Poker will be around forever. Mindless fun will be around forever. My kids won’t. Especially not at the age they are now.

Viva, Las Vegas. See you in December.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Vegas, babies, Friday

Thursday night in Vegas, babies:

• 7 p.m. - We start to walk down the strip. It seems to be a slow period in Vegas right now. That’s OK with me. The poker probably won’t be as good, but the streets are emptier.

• 7:15 p.m. - Someone is selling bottled water for $1. Can you make a living selling bottled water out of your cooler?
And I wonder if the “ice cold” sales pitch works this time of year?

• 8:05 p.m. - If I get asked if I want to see a show or get another nightclub pass shoved in my face I’m gonna punch someone.

• 8:06 p.m. - Kate stops me before I punch someone.

• 8:07 p.m. - An angry black woman yells at me when I don’t take her pamphlet. I’m no salesman, but that doesn’t seem the best way to reach potential customers.

• 8:10 p.m. - We ride the New York, New York rollercoaster. Holy shit that was fun. I scream like a little girl on the first drop.

• 8:35 p.m. - I bow before the greatness that is the Bellagio’s poker room.

• 9 p.m. - We have a shrimp cocktail and lobster bisque at the Ceasar’sPalace food court. Yum.

• 9:15 p.m. - Sundae at Ghiradellis. We have not had a drink yet, but we’re all about the hot fudge sundae. I know, our hardcore partying is probably blowing you away at this point.

• 10:30 p.m. - I play $1-2 NL at Mandalay Bay. I play until 1:30 a.m. with a nit-like table. I get AA once and KK once and win small pots. I eventually lose $80, which I’m OK with. I made a couple nice bluffs, got caught once and generally hit no big flops and go card dead most of the night.
It was my first time playing live NL poker, and most of the guys at the table had played there for weeks, if not years.
I also wonder what you think about this hand:

I have J-A, the best hand I’ve seen in a long time, and I raise it to $`10. I get one caller in the small blind, a guy who was not one of the regulars but played pretty tight most of the night. The flop comes A,9,3 rainbow. That seems pretty good for me, so I bet $10, and he looks at his cards, pauses, then calls.

The flop comes a 6, and we won’t have a flush. He bets $15 into me. I call, but that worries me.

Another 9 comes on the river, and he bets $50. Do you call?


I’ll give you my answer tomorrow.




Friday, babies:

• 11:30 a.m. - After a night of blissful, heavenly sleep (Vegas is for sleeping; well, it is if you have infant twins), we are down at the pool. It’s hot enough to sweat but not hot enough to take a dip.

• 11:35 a.m. - “Something About You” by Level 42 plays, a song from my college days, when my roommate loved pop music and I had to play Iron Maiden extra loud to drown t out. All the music we’ve heard this weekend is from the 80s.

• 1 p.m. - Censored

• 1:45 p.m. - We hear a couple boning each other up above room. The woman is really going for it. OH YES OH YES OH YES!!!
Maybe we inspired them.

• 2:30 p.m. - We have lunch with Linda from Pokerworks. She’s my editor for the site and runs it basically. She’s a trip. I loved hearing all the stories from the poker dealing days. We had a great time and she even paid for lunch. If I can get Carmen and Miami Don to pay for a buy-in at the MGM tonight, this will really be a complete trip. Thanks, Linda, that was very nice of you.

• 5:30 p.m. - I probably look like a dork sitting here in the middle of the Luxor casino where I can get a signal staring at my laptop. But then again, me looking like a dork can’t ever really be helped. You are what you are.

Goddam I’m still sore. You would have thought I”ve never hiked before.

In a few hours, we’re heading down to the MGM to play poker with Don and Carmen. I can’t wait. I just hope my session goes better than yesterday. I think it will.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Vegas by the hour baby (babies)

Vegas, baby (babies?), by the hour


• 3:55 a.m. - Wake up. This is not as painful as it sounds for us, which only shows how entrenched we actually are into the twins.

• 4:25 a.m. - Leave for the airport from Kate’s house. Kate, surprisingly, does not bawl her eyes out. The girls are squealing up a storm as we leave. Maybe they’re as excited to be away from us as we are from them.

• 5:45 a.m. Breakfast at McDonald’s airport. I eat half a sausage biscuit.

• 7:00 a.m. - Our plane takes off, right after I’m admonished for not turning off my laptop fast enough by a flight attendant. Seriously, have any planes crashed because someone wanted to watch “Fracture?”

• 7:03 a.m. - I film our plane taking off. Kate gives me a wife look that clearly says “They said not to turn on any electronic devices.” I give her a look back that says, “That rule is fucking stupid.”

• 7:04 a.m. - Plane dips a bit. I quickly turn off video camera.

• 7:10 a.m. - Watch “Fracture.” Good flick.

• 7:53 a.m. (Vegas time, baby) - Plane lands. I see an advertisement for some hot guy Australian man show.

• 7:58 a.m. - Live advertisement for Chippendales in the airport. WTF? I come to the conclusion that Vegas has more gay men and horny old ladies than I previously thought.

• 8:03 a.m. - Advertisement for Luxor’s “Fantasy” topless show. Ahhh. That’s better.

• 8:35 a.m. - Get to Luxor. Someone steers us over to a “voucher” place. Dammit, less than a minute into the resort and we’re already being given a sales pitch.
Fat guy asks us what show we want to see. We don’t want to see any shows.
“NO shows?” he asks. He repeats his question three times after we answer no every time, which means he’s either pushy or stupid, and I have no patience for either. I grab Kate’s arm and we start walking around.

• 9:15 a.m. - OK, now what? Man, Vegas is DEAD at this hour. We walk around.

• 9:17 a.m. - See my first poker room. Woot. There are actually people playing poker at this hour? Not very many.

• 9:55 a.m. - We walk through the Luxor and Mandalay Bay. We’re bored. Kate says, “We don’t know what to do with ourselves without the kids.” Sad but kinda true.

• 10:25 a.m. - We’re having a hard time relaxing, which partly explains the detailed blog account. We talk about it and discover we are so used to going all the time, with Jayden and the twins and work and trying to get things done around the house, that even our “down time” at home is crammed with something because we don’t have the opportunity to do it otherwise, like play poker for instance. We’re still in that mode. By the end of the day, I hope we’re not.

• 11:15 a.m. - We get in our room. Woot!

• 12:15 p.m. - We meet CC for lunch. Blind luck that he happened to be in Vegas at the same time we were. He buys. Very nice of him, thanks. We eat at a deli in the Mirage that serves sandwiches so big they could feed all of Idaho.



• 1:30 p.m. - After a nice lunch, we walk back to the hotel, stopping along the chintzy souvenir stores along the way. Kate gets small T-shirts for the girls that say, “I (heart) Vegas” in pink.

• 2 p.m. - The strip by the harsh glare of daylight becomes a very skeezy place. It probably always is, but when you see it at night, you’re transfixed by all the lights and wonder and fun. In the daytime it just becomes a place where people constantly approach you and try to sell you a show or shove a porn card into your unwilling palm.

• 3 p.m. - Back in the room. Kate crashes. I learn the Luxor charges for high-speed Internet. Wow.Anything they can do to get you out of your room, I guess. I pay the $14.95 for three days. Blogging is expensive!

• 5:30 p.m. - Mess around on the Internet. Fight serious temptation to head down to play poker for a couple hours. Must.....not.....play......poker.
I’ll have my chance tomorrow with Miami Don and Carmen at the MGM.
Must......not.....play.



I resist the urge to play. We are going to eat soon at Mandalay Bay buffet. It’s our favorite. Later we’re going to go walk the strip again. Kate is zoned in her room. I am lounging in the Luxor casino.
Relaxing is easier by the second.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rockies Mountan High

Today, in sports:


• The Colorado Rockies continue their incredible streak of winning 75/76 games in a row (and yes I'm exaggerating, but not by much) by taking a 3-0 lead on Arizona. I'd be surprised if the snakes won tonight. They seem pretty cooked to me. One of their best players is whining about how the Rockies weren't outplaying them, they were just getting all the calls.
That sounds like a poker player saying he always gets beat on the river to me. And we all know what we do when we hear a player saying that, don't we? We already count their chips as our own.

• The Kansas City Chiefs beat up the poor Cin-Cin Kitties by actually playing their ass off for a half. Yeah, they went back to their mostly sucky ways in the second half, but by then it was too late. GG Chiefs!

• My Kansas Jayhawks are taking the Big 12 by storm. And it's not even basketball season! That's right, the Jayhawk football team is ranked 13th in the BCS series and 15th in the nation. The last time the Hawks were ranked in football? 1996. Our coach probably weighs 400 pounds but the guy can lead a team. Maybe because he threatens to eat the players if they don't play well. Hey, whatever works, it's nice to treat Kansas football as something to watch instead of a funny diversion until basketball gets here. And the hoops team looks balla again. We might go to a nice bowl game and the Final Four in the same year. Rock Chalk!

• Boooo fantasy football. I scored 96 points, the equivalent of winning three buy-ins in a cash game, in my league and lost anyway thanks to LT's 15 TDs and 498 yards rushing (yes I'm exaggerating but not by much).

Then I played my first match at Fantasy Sports Live as a part of Sundays with Dr. Pauly. My QB threw 5 TD passes. Both my running backs went for 100 and scored. 2/3 wide receivers scored. My TE had two touchdowns and close to 100 yards.
And I took 7th.
Ouch.
Guess I shouldn't try to compete with Miami Don and Pauly and guys who make a living picking apart professional sports. Thanks, Minnesota defense.

Still, the site is a ton of fun, and I really don't expect to win much. It's just nice to have another fantasy team.


One last word: WE ARE HEADING TO VEGAS on Thursday for my five-year anniversary with the wife. I won't be playing a ton of poker because this is a spouse trip, not a blogger trip (I'm in for that too though), but I hope to sling some chips with Carmen and Miami Don Friday at the MGM. Guys?

No kids. Did I mention no kids? No kids. No twins. Girls, Jayden, I love you very much, but Daddy needs to do something other than cleaning up your diapers.

I won't post again until I'm there in Vegas, but expect brief daily updates until we get home.

Friday, October 12, 2007

And now, starring some of your favorite bloggers....

Is an article I wrote for Pokerworks with some of your favorite bloggers featured. Thanks to Kat, F-Train, Drizz, Joe Speaker, Chilly, Gracie and Jordan for the help.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Lord I was born a rambling man

I have 10 minutes to put together a pretty decent post, and that's probably not gonna happen, so I apologize for the rambling nature of this entry.

I cashed the Mookie last night for the second week in a row. For some reason I'm getting good hands there while the rest of my poker forays has been frustrating at best this week. That is such a fun tournament. Good people, good players, a decent structure and I love the double stack now. It's not so push-monkey that way.

I think I can officially now say I've stepped up my aggression. I probably still play too tight, and I'll always play too tight and hestitate to make a move I know I should at times. But I successfully stole several blinds and antes last night, and that was the difference to me making the final table in good shape. When the action is folded to me, now I"m thinking about stealing rather than just looking at my cards. I can honestly say this is the biggest and best change I've made in my game in the last year.

I still got lots of good cards and had some favorable flops, but I don't know many except Hoy who can make the final table in a blogger MTT without that. I certainly can't. I went out in the first money spot when my flopped top two pair could not hold up against a flush and inside straight draw. I don't think I was ahead by much there though.

OK, I'm pretty sure I'm going to Vegas. It appears Jordan and I will room together at the IP. I"m pretty nervous about this, given that I only know some of you by the Intertubes and I know you all know each other already. But I'm also thinking it will be fun. Right now I'm planning on heading out there Thursday and I'll stay until Sunday morning. We'll see.

I've entered the Sundays with Dr. Pauly contest at Fantasy Sports Live. I love fantasy football and I'm actually pretty decent at it - I've won our tough league three times in the last six years - so this should be fun. All I know is I'm staying the hell away from Drew Brees. Bastard is screwing up my team this year. I just made a deposit and got a $20 bonus. It was pretty easy. You should check it out. Although Miami Don is in my contest and I'm pretty sure he's a balla.