Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter Solstice








Tuesday, December 16, 2008

All posts here

I finally figured out how to import my other blogs into this one. So all the old posts are now here and the other 3 blogs have been deleted.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

No...It actually IS Christmas time.

I like the holidays as much as anybody else, but it seems that every year that passes, the anticipation has grown less and less and eventually has gone away all together. I went out for a jog over the weekend, and it was sunny and warm...about 75 degrees. As I was running past the Mission Hills Nursery. I saw a truck parked out front unloading what looked like Christmas Trees. "That's odd," I thought to myself. Maybe they are planting them or something...to grow until Christmas time? It was at least another 15-20 seconds before I realized, "No, it actually IS Christmas time you idiot."

Suffice to say, with thoughts like this, I haven't done much in the way of shopping for gifts. I had better get that going.

The holiday parties have begun, and pretty much every day is booked from now until Jan. This weekend was the annual party at the Cox's. I missed it last year. I got so excited I almost...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cont'd

Oh, I forgot...

...before we went back to the hotel we drove over to the other side of town to go to Pet Kingdom USA to look for hedgehogs. Hedgies make great pets but like just about every "exotic" animal, are illegal in California. We might have bought one on this day but they only had an Albino, and we were more interested in a regular colored one.



Fast forward to where I left off. While still in the card game, I called over to the Comedy Stop at the Trop to make see if they had a show that night. Yep. So, I cashed out and then Melina and I went over to the Spa for a couple of hours before getting dressed and heading over to the show.

The comics were Jimmie Walker (yes that Jimmie Walker), Natasha Leggero and the headliner was Ron Shock. Shock is hilarious. He is also a Vegas local and a poker player. I knew I recognized him from somewhere, and when my brother mentioned that he had played with him at Mandalay Bay numerous times it rang a bell.

show was a lot of fun, and since it was still early, we decided to go see some more sights. This brought us over to the Wynn to rub elbows with the high rollers and have a look at a Ferrari or two. While there we sat down in a $10/$20 Hold Em game that quickly broke. We played 2 hands at 4/8 before deciding it was pointless, and we left.

We got back to our hotel after midnight, and after some more gambling and drinking we caught a very late dinner at the cafe where Melina got a Reuben and I got some weird Chow Mien dish that would've been fine except it seemed like they "baked" it or something because the edge of the noodles were crispy and everything was really effing hot. Completely satisfied, we retired.

We checked out the next day and then drove over to the Venetian to see a bit of the hotel and have lunch at Noodle Asia. You know a Chinese place is good when everyone sitting, and waiting in line, is Chinese. Our wait took longer than our meal, but it was worth it.

After lunch we hit the road as I preferred to drive home in the daylight. Yeah, that was probably a mistake. The traffic was pretty much wall to wall from well before the state line until we got to Barstow. Yikes. At one point I actually considered turning around and going back to wait until the middle of the night. But we gutted it out and made it home in about 6 hours.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thanks

I already wrote about the poker tournament that was held last month and the expected attendance vs. the actual number that showed up to play. In the days leading up to that tournament Melina and I were talking and the subject came up about what I expected the turn-out to be like. It went something like this.

"So, how many people are coming for your tournament?"
"So far 48 people have RSVP'd," I replied.
"That's a lot. How much money will that be for first place?" she followed up.
"Well it really depends on how many re-buys there are, but a low estimate would be a prize-pool over $8,000. That would mean a first prize of over $3000...probably more like $3500," I explained.
"Wow! If you win it can we go to Vegas?" she ventured.
"Absolutely!" I replied without missing a beat.

Obviously we ended up with 30 players instead of 50, and a prize pool around $5,000. When we made a deal 2 handed I guaranteed myself $1500 (a far cry from the $3500 we were hoping for first place) but a win is still a win. My good luck charm Melina remarked, "So are we going to Vegas?" About halfway through my rationalization about the lower than expected prize-pool I stopped myself short and said "...Yes. We're going to Vegas."

The smile and excitement from her was worth every penny.

We decided to drive up there for a few reasons, cost obviously being one of them. Also, it would be more convenient to have a car so we could see some sights around town without having to cab it everywhere. We thought that driving up on Thanksgiving night would be the best bet, as we anticipated little traffic on the road. So that's what we did. I had a very nice dinner with my family and some friends, and then we hit the road at about 6:00 pm. With only 2 short rest stops we arrived at the Palms Casino at 10:15 pm.


View Larger Map

So I might have exceeded the speed limit at some point. It's hard not to in the middle of the desert.

One of the few benefits of driving is the pretty spectacular view you get when you drop out of the mountains into the Las Vegas Valley, especially at night. Unfortunately the only view we had turning that corner on Interstate 15 was the ground and dense fog two feet in front of us. We were totally socked in and could not even see the lights of the strip until we were well into town. Of the hundreds of trips I've taken to Las Vegas I had never seen it foggy. It gave it a very different feeling. The water particles in the air above the MGM glowed green, and even the 40 Billion Candlepower beam atop the Luxor Hotel, only lit up the sky immediately above it. It reminded me of the exteriors from Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. It was very dark and sinister in the fog.

video

Anyhow, we got into the hotel, cleaned up and got straight to celebrating all the freedoms we have as incredibly fortunate people. Happy Thanksgiving!

The next morning the clouds had cleared and i took Melina on a short tour of the city. I drove north on Interstate 15 and went through Downtown Las Vegas, explaining some of the history and how at one time Fremont Street was the center of town. We continued south on Las Vegas Blvd. and stopped to take the trip up the 109 stories to the top of the Stratosphere Tower, where we took some pictures. After that it was brunch at the Peppermill. I guess Melina had enough to eat, drink, and see for one morning, as she became very sleepy. We went back to the hotel were she took a nap and I went off to play some poker.









The poker room at the Palms has always had some pretty decent action even for the realtively small size of the games. I waited for 5 minutes or so before they started a $2-5 blinds No-Limit Hold-Em game. It's not my favorite game in a city with so many choices, but I was only going to play for a few hours and wanted to stay in the hotel, and I was not going to subject myself to the dread of 4-8 limit. I've played in this particular game about 10 times, and had moderate success. More than 5 of the times I've played in it, the game has featured Las Vegas Pro Joe Awada. I have had consistent success vs. Joe in my limited hands with him, but that is likely because I have never played against him for a long stretch at a time. He is a very good player that I have been lucky against is all. This day was no different. The bulk of my winnings in this session came in a hand where I checked my option in the Big Blind holding the Kc2c. 6 other people had limped into the pot to see a flop of 8cKd5c. I checked and player in middle position bet $20. It was my intention to check raise, but before the action got to me Joe raised to $60 from the button. I felt like he had a very strong hand or draw, possibly to the nuts, and admittedly played it a little bit scared, just calling the $60. The original bettor called as well. The turn was a benign 2s, and I checked again. The other player checked and Joe quickly bet $95. I called him with my top pair and flush draw and the other player folded. The river was the Jc and I bet $175. Joe called me almost instantly, and I rolled over the second nut flush. He mucked.

"Was my King any good?" I asked.
"No," was his reply.

I believed him.

More later.