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...

Wouldn't You Rather Be Pokerpeaker?

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Sunday, December 23, 2007


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


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


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.
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.