Saturday, December 16, 2017

Rattlers & Bobcats

Good afternoon everyone.  This is a very strange time for me to be writing a blog entry, as it's an hour before I have to start getting ready for work on a Saturday, but I woke up early, and I'm wide awake with an hour to kill...  :)  Let's get started...  ;)  I started playing poker again on a consistent basis very recently, and I've purchased some more "gear" to bring to the tables with me.  For those of you who may not know me as well as others, I have lived more of my life in San Marcos, Texas than in any other single place.  San Marcos is a rapidly growing city located right in between Austin and San Antonio.  I was introduced to San Marcos when I enrolled at Southwest Texas State University.  SWT had about 20,000 students when I entered as a freshman, and now 'Texas State' has almost 40,000 students.  In addition to my several years in school as a Bobcat (B.B.A., return for a teaching certificate, etc...), I also taught and coached high school for four years in San Marcos.  Additionally, I lived in San Marcos, America for several additional years.  'Bikini Hill' is the nickname for a stretch of grass by the river where students commonly tan on the Texas State campus, in case you were confused about the blog's namesake...  :)  For a while now, I've been wearing some sort of Texas State gear when I play poker, because when you're living in Las Vegas, it's very rare to see any Bobcats.  Texas State's maroon and gold is a very unique item here in the desert, and it stands out to fellow Texans.

When I was playing poker a few weeks ago, a woman at my table was using a card protector that had a spider on it.  This protector was basically a ceramic collectible or miniature with a spider on a rock, about the height and width of a quarter.  As players at the table chatted about it, I guess that the little thing crawled inside my head, because later the thought suddenly occurred to me.  RATTLESNAKE!!!!  For a while now, I've simply been using a poker chip to protect my cards (if some sort of object is covering your cards, the dealer is less likely to kill your hand by mistake), but then I thought, how awesome would it be to find a rattler to guard my hands.  The mascot of the high school in San Marcos is the Rattlers, if that helps bring you up to speed.  :)  In addition to my Texas State gear (which now includes eight t-shirts and a football jersey), I have my newly acquired collection of three rattlesnakes to help me represent San Marcos at the poker tables.  These are my new card protectors and my most recent shipment of clothing from San Marcos...  

As I said, I've been wearing my Texas State clothing to the tables for a while, so much so that when I wore my Steelers jersey to play poker after we clinched the division title, a poker dealer at the Flamingo commented, "no Bobcats shirt today?"  :)  As for the rattlesnakes, I can't recall anyone using any sort of snake as a card protector in all the time that I've been playing poker, and let me tell you, they are QUITE the conversation starter...  :)  Some people have very strong feelings about snakes, especially when you add fangs and a rattle to them.  The very first time I sat down with one, the guy to my left didn't say anything, but just looked at the snake curious and wide-eyed.  Another time, a player lifted the rattler from my cards for a second, and then proceeded to lose over 100 dollars pretty quickly.  The rodeo is currently taking place in Vegas, and a cowgirl from California had a visceral reaction to my rattlesnake, explaining how she's killed 28 of them on her property.  In another instance, a dealer picked up my rattler, and then proceeded to deal me my first winning hand in hours.  And yeah, I've only been playing with the snakes for about a week...  :D

It appears that I have to get ready for work now, but I'm sure I'll have more stories for you in the future.  Have a great weekend, and I'll see you soon!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Happy Belated Birthday

Good morning everyone.  I saw on the poker calendar a few weeks back that the $10,400 main event of the WPT's Five Diamond Classic at the Bellagio was set to begin on Tuesday, so I notified my brother Pete, and we decided that it would be a good day to belatedly celebrate our birthdays.  After getting out the calculator, I figured out that this is the 14th anniversary of Pete bringing me to my first Five Diamond Classic.  I had never lived in Las Vegas or played poker in a casino at that point in time (heck, I had barely played or watched ANY poker up to that point).  As we headed to the Mirage to play some poker ourselves, I remember asking Pete if a straight beats a flush, and after TORCHING $337.00 in about six hours in a 3-6 limit hold 'em game, I was HOOKED....  :)  Tuesday cost me a little less, as we watched the professionals play for free (free for us) after we had lunch at the Planet Hollywood buffet.  When Pete and I arrived at the Bellagio, there was a substantial line of players waiting to enter the tournament, and most of them would become alternates as the tables in the Bellagio's poker room were the only ones being used for this event.

Bigger poker tournaments are often held in areas outside of a casino's normal poker room.  We arrived at 12:15 p.m., but instead of being 15 minutes late, we actually showed up a little early, and got to see Richard Seymour in his pregame routine.  For you poker people, we recognized several well-known players on Tuesday, including defending champion James Romero (he cashed for 1.9 million last year), Mike Sexton, Tony Dunst, Ben Lamb, Noah Schwartz, Freddy Deeb, Allen Cunningham, Andrew Lichtenberger, David Williams, and an attractive female player that busted when she ran her flush into a bigger flush.  No worries, she hopped right back into line to buy in again for another $10,400...  Pictured below is former NFL player Richard Seymour...

And this picture is my first plate of food at Planet Hollywood...  :D

After Pete left, I ventured over to the Flamingo to watch my friends Errol and Mike play a little bit of poker in cash games.  I had planned on playing myself, but I suddenly remembered that I had been awake since 6:00 a.m. and was completely exhausted.  After Mike completely blew by me without recognizing me, Errol won a nice pot when he turned a full house before his opponent rivered a flush (yes, fourteen years later, and I now know that a full house beats a flush)...  ;)  I returned to the Flamingo last night and won $29.00 in an hour in a 2-4 limit game when I flopped a set of 5's against an opponent's two-pair on a K 9 5 flop.  I'm preparing to play a lot more 1/2 no-limit soon, but I'll gladly accept a wage of $29.00 an hour playing poker any day.

Things are going to change a bit for me at work now as the college football season ("regualr season") has ended, meaning that there won't be football from very early to closing now on Saturdays, and I'll also leave work an hour earlier on Friday nights, which naturally means more time for playing poker.  :P  I also anticipate having more time to write, so cross your fingers...  For the second post in a row, I'm stealing a little something from my friend Ali, as she took a great shot of some desert Christmas trees...  :)

Enjoy your holiday season until next time, and I'll see you soon!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

December, Really?

Good morning everyone.  In case no one's ever told you, time flies my friends.  Tomorrow is December 1st, 2017.  The first day of December.  You've got to be kidding...  Things are going pretty well for me in my life right now (you'd already know that if I wrote more often).  I've been back in Las Vegas for just over 18 months, and I have a job that I love, writing race and sports tickets for Caesar's Entertainment.  Who would've guessed that a coach would enjoy working in a sportsbook???  :)  This is my second football season at work, and it seems that our most busy chunk of the year takes place from September Thanksgiving.  Of course we have other busy weekends during the year (Super Bowl, March Madness, the big horse races), but regarding a big block of time, we start to slow down a bit during the holiday season.  Conversely, I've found myself playing very little poker during this time of the year, but I'm looking forward to spending more time at the tables in the near future.

Speaking of poker, one of my favorite poker players visited town recently (I'm trying to convince Courtney that she needs to visit Las Vegas during the World Series of Poker and play in the Women's Event this summer), and I was able to watch her win some cash in the Flamingo nightly tournaments over the course of a couple of days.

I met Courtney several years ago through Spadeclub, an online poker site that is similar to the current WPT site, and when I thought back on it, I realized that Courtney was the one who initially let me know about the existence of the Winstar Casino in Oklahoma.  A fellow Texan, Courtney lives much closer to Oklahoma that I did in San Marcos or Austin, and she is able to take advantage of her proximity to the cardrooms in Oklahoma.  Recently I've started studying my backlog of poker materials again, and watching Courtney play succeeded in getting me just a little more amped up for my serious return to the tables.

The last time that I wrote about anything here was just before my birthday, which means that I've been holding onto this little gem for a while.  Like most people, I was looking forward to going out and having a nice meal for my birthday, while hoping for more prosperity and bigger and better things in the year to come.  Ali, one of my friends from work, found this little treasure and gave it to me on my birthday weekend...

My first reaction was that I'd never seen such an extravagant post-meal 'wipe," and then of course I chided Ali for not bringing me a "Post-Lobster WIPE DOWN," which seems to promise more optimism for the future than it's chicken counterpart...  :)  Truth be told, I eat some form of chicken almost everyday...

Speaking of birthdays, I've waited so long to write this post that it's already this youngster's special day...

Eileen was a high school classmate of mine in New Hampshire, and she recently crossed the country with her husband Darren (both pictured above) to do a little networking and have some fun in the desert.  Although we hadn't seen each other since we were in high school ten years ago (ha ha ha), I thought it was pretty cool that Eileen and I picked right up like we see each other on a daily basis.  Acutally, Eileen looks like she could be at her ten-year reunion, and as for me..., well...,

Have a great birthday Eileen!  :)

While we were up on the 50th floor of the Rio, I pointed out to Eileen and Darren the convention halls where the World Series of Poker is held every summer.  It's now going on fifteen years when my brother first brought me to the Bellagio to see the start of the $25,000 buy-in Main Event of the Five-Diamond Poker Classic, which is the annual capstone event of the WPT (World Poker Tour) season.  After railing the action til the first break, Pete took me to the Mirage, where I promptly lost $337 in six hours in my first live casino poker session, and I was hooked...  :)  Anyway, the WPT is back in town, and on Tuesday I'm probably going to go rail the first day of this year's Five Diamond Main Event.  Like I said my friends, time flies...  Have a great weekend, and I'll see you soon!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Almost Half A Century

Good evening everyone.  I think that I've finally adjusted to my new schedule at work since the start of the football season, and hopefully that will bring you more posts to read.  The football season brings more business in, and it also changes our operating hours.  Today is my "Saturday" now that I'm off on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  I'm currently tuned into the first game of a hockey doubleheader as I begin typing for you.  I've been a fan of the Montreal Canadiens probably for longer than most of you have been alive, although they've admittedly been the least-followed of my favorite teams (Red Sox, Steelers, Spurs) due to more limited televesion coverage throughout my lifetime.  However, living in Las Vegas and working in a sportsbook, I've pretty much decided that I'm adopting a second-favorite hockey team, as the Golden Knights drop the puck on their inagural home-opener in the next couple of hours.  Anyway, the Canadiens are up 1-0 on the Blackhawks right now, and Vegas hosts the Coyotes after this game.

Almost half a century...  I'll be starting my 50th year on the planet as I turn 49 years-old on Friday the 13th.  When I was younger (in my teens, etc...), I could never envision even living into my thirties.  It's funny how your perspective changes over time.  When you're a teenager, a 50 year-old is OLD...  Now that I'm almost 50, it really doesn't seem that old.  Okay, well it kinda does...  :)  Regarding writing more blog entries, I could probably become a hermit and still have enough material to write for at least the next ten years.  I've had a pretty full life to this point.  :)  Surely in an effort to honor me, my alma mater has a nationally televised football game on the eve of my birthday Thursday night.  Unfortunately, Texas State won't be playing the game in San Marcos, which is the one thing that would make it better.  Well, and winning of course.  I believe that we're currently about a two-touchdown underdog to Lafayette.  In the midst of my not writing anything here since late August, I neglected the 6th birthday of this blog, as the first entry posted here came on September 28th, 2011.  I remember that day well, as I had kicked around the idea of starting a blog for a little while, and then I just happened to dive into Google's 'Blogger' for a couple of hours, investigating and choosing my layout, design, settings, etc..., and then I suddenly had a blog.  With this post or the next, this little blog will have been seen over 120,000 times, and that number will skyrocket if I dedicate myself to writing again.  

Football and playing poker are the types of things that cause me to write less, so life isn't exactly horrible for me when I'm not writing, but I'd still like to post more.  In the past, I've played in several freeroll tournaments at the Flamingo (you play 12 hours of poker in a week, which gives you a free entry into that week's tournament).  However, I recently realized that working until 11:00 on Thursday night, and then having to wake up at 8:00 a.m. to be on the Strip until after midnight (morning poker tournament, followed by work) is probably not a very bright idea.  Anyway, not having to chase those twelve qualifying hours every week, and just playing when I choose to, that should probably enable me to write a little more.

Another thing that I should be doing more is exploring this great city.  It's been almost a year and a half since I've returned to Las Vegas, and I STILL haven't made a trip downtown to Fremont Street.  You have no doubt seen the news recently and heard about the senseless shootings that took place here just over a week ago.  That tragic night actually opened my eyes to how great a place this city can be.  As the news coverage began hitting the airwaves, reporters had to convey the message from police that people should avoid going to the Strip, because concerned citizens were arriving to offer help in any way that they could.  Blood banks had lines of people waiting to donate the next day before the doors were even open.  People used pickup trucks and SUV's to rush wounded and injured concert-goers to hospitals because the local EMS units were so overwhelmed.  Over ten million dollars had been raised in seemingly the snap of a finger to help victims of this tragedy, and there's no telling how high that number is now.  The site of the memorial to the shooting victims has literally blossomed with flowers, cards, and other expressions of love.  As numb as I felt in the aftermath of last Sunday night, the response of the people of this city has just been phenominal.  All I'm saying is that I need to pull myself away from the television and poker tables more and just get out and enjoy this city.  

I'm going to stop here for now, but I want to say thank you again for following this blog, and I'll try to do better in the future...  Until next time, have a great week!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Outer Space

Good morning everyone.  This is the tail end of my last day off from work before the football season begins, so I'm psyched to say the least.  My friend Joey, my brother Pete, and myself will once again be sharing our favorite weekly football bets in cyberspace on my blog Coach's Parlay Card.  This promises to be a big weekend in Las Vegas as the McGregor/Mayweather fight takes place here Saturday night.  The onset of fall will be bringing cooler temperatures in addition to the kickoff of football, and this pleases me to no end.  The older I get, the less thrilled I've become with triple-digit temperatures.  The forecast high of 108 degrees on Monday will probably be the hottest day that Las Vegas see for the rest of 2017.  The combo of the fight/football/cooler temperatures should also bring some more poker players back to town.  After the World Series of Poker ends each summer, the poker scene in the desert is a bit more quiet before football returns.  Last night after my "Friday" shift ended at work, I felt the urge to play (I hadn't played poker for about a month), and I was pleased to find that the Flamingo had several tables going.  There was enough action going on that I was able to get my feet wet again for five hours at a 2-4 limit table, and after being down somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 bucks at my lowest, I flopped a set of 6's in a multi-way pot (like 8 players saw the flop, with a preflop raise), and even after I raised to 8 on the turn, I still had two players around to call my river bet, and I scooped a pretty nice pot.  Long story short, I won 33 bucks for my five hours of blood, sweat, and tears, in addition for the 5 comp dollars of course.  Anyway, after my month-long poker hiatus (which afforded me more time to study for the upcoming football season), I should be making numerous appearances in local poker rooms in the near future.

Outer space.  Since we recently got to experience an eclipse firsthand (except for a nameless person that was taking a nap in cloudy Las Vegas during the festivities), I'll share some photos with you that my friends on Facebook shared with me.  Hang onto your hats though, because these photos are not the reason for the title of this blog entry.  My friends Michelle, Kristi, Sydney, Courtney, and Wes were busy sharing these photos from across the U.S.A. a few days ago...

Now I won't go to the trouble of buying special glasses (or even staying awake for the eclipse for that matter), but I'm more than happy to steal some pictures from my friends...  Thanks y'all, great work!  ;)

Outer space...  So my friend Kimberly traveled to Area 51 recently to compete in a run (I believe it was a 10K, but I won't promise you that). Anyway, Kimberly is posting Facebook statuses about the big event, and in the comments section to a status, Kimberly says (I'm paraphrasing) that the course runs along the perimeter of Area 51.  Something instantly clicks in my head, and I think that I'm about to win the internet for that day.  I immediately reply to Kimberly's comment:  "So you're saying that the course is in the outer space of Area 51?"  Think about it, think about it, think.......  BRILLIANT, right?  The "outer space" of Area 51?  Aliens..., OUTER SPACE..  I think that I'm going to get this HUGE 'LOL,' and win some award from Facebook for being clever (probably presented by Mark Zuckerberg himself).  I brace myself for Kimberly's sheer delight and gratitude, and the powerful response that I receive...  "Yes."  ***Crickets***  I was so crushed that I was telling the story at work, and now I'm sharing it here with you...  :)

On a more serious note, I'm hoping for the best for all of my friends in Texas as Hurricane Harvey makes its way toward the Lone Star State.  On a lighter note, you have to love that someone in Corpus Christi was thinking of Selena (and the statue dedicated to her) when news of the imminent storm came.  Thanks to my friend Valerie for sharing this gem...

Have a great weekend and I'll see you soon!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Fishing For Clouds

Good morning everyone.  Well it's been a little while since I've posted, and I just have excuses for you, and not good reasons, so let's get started...  :)  Although it's August in Las Vegas, the temperatures are finally starting to cool a little.  Okay, let me take back the word "cool."  We still have triple digits here, but earlier in the summer, the highs were around 115, and we don't have 110 degrees in the ten-day forecast...  :)  Today's forecast high is 96 degrees, and 106 is the highest expected temperature over the next ten days.  Tonight's low is supposed to dip down to 80, which is also the expected low ten days from now.  I think that you get my drift by now - it was warmer in the desert earlier this summer.  Thanks to Facebook, I recently realized that I've had the same mindset at this time of year for at least the better part of a decade.  I've lived in hot climates, and I've been counting down the minutes until the start of football season and the accompanying cooler weather.  Yesterday when I was "supposed" to be writing this blog entry, I was ordering some football jerseys from various online retailers because I'm allowed to wear them at work during football season.  My one-year anniversary at work is three weeks from tomorrow, which falls on the date of the Mayweather/McGregor fight, and the first four college football games of the year.  Seems fitting...

My poker didn't go as well as I would have liked this summer, but when things weren't going well, I showed discipline by reducing my number of sessions and saving my bankroll for the impending football season.  As far as gambling is concerned, I wager far more on sports during football season than I do the rest of the year combined, EASILY...  I haven't played much poker since the World Series ended, and have instead focused my time on studying for the upcoming football season.  If you've heard the rumor that I was released an hour early from work one day last week, and proceeded to head to a sportsbook and make my first bets of the football season (in addition to putting more money into my online betting account), there's only about 100% truth to that story...

My brother and I had a pleasant surprise last week as a family member visited us here in the desert without any advanced warning.  Our stepmom Brenda came to Las Vegas with her friends and surprised me at work, and I was able to keep the secret that she was in town until she saw my brother at work a few days later.  Talking with Brenda, I found out who one of my mystery blog readers is, as my blog stats tell me that I get several visitors from Facebook, but the amount of 'likes' that I get on my Facebook blog "ads" never seem to match the traffic that I receive from the social media site.  We all had a good visit, as Brenda treated Pete's family and myself to Johnny Rockets, which is a place that I had never dined at before.  How many times in the history of history has someone gone wrong with a cheeseburger and french fries?  :)

Although the calendar says that we're only halfway through with summer, the start of the NFL preseason, coupled with the lower temperatures here in the Valley, have me reminiscing back to my youth, when I spent the waning summer days dreaming about the future, and "fishing for clouds," if you will.  My friend Vicki has a great photographic eye, and her daughter is already living a life that most people can only dream about (that's a whole other blog entry in itself), so I thought that I'd leave you with a little photo of a young girl fishing for clouds...

Have a great weekend, and I'll see you soon...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Good morning everyone.  I'm in the midst of having three days off, so there's no excuse not to write a little for you.  I won't tell you that was also the case last week, when I basically slept for three straight days...  The last time that we were together, I was getting ready to go to the 2017 World Series of Poker.  As you might suspect, I overindulged, and on very little sleep, I spent twelve hours at the Rio, before working the next five days in a row.  I've pretty much been tired all month.  Oh, did I mention that I go play poker most every night after work also?  

The 2017 WSOP...  I had planned on eating with my friends at the Rio's breakfast buffet, and only upon arriving did we learn that they're currently not open for breakfast during the weekdays.  We settled for a hearty breakfast at Hash House A Go Go.  I asked one of the employees to take a photo of us for the memoirs...   

The Riviera didn't know how lucky they were to have this group dealing poker for them back in the day.  Pictured from left to right are myself, Joey, and Brian.  After dining and our media photo op, we staked out the setup for this year's WSOP before the Casino Employee Event began at 11:00 a.m.  I may have told you previously that I played the event in 2006, and for $500.00, I had the thrill of watching my aces go up against queens and sixes, with a queen hitting on the river.  For $500.00 less, I decided to rail the festivities three weeks back, with Brian and several of my other friends from around town participating in this year's first bracelet event.  Brian himself ran into a number of tough beats, and decided to play in the $235.00 daily tourney after busting the Employee Event.  As I said, I hit the wall at 7:00 p.m. after twelve hours of fun, but Brian persevered and ended up cashing in the $235.00...  While Brian and I were chatting during a break in the Employee Event, a mutual friend of ours spotted us and we chatted briefly.  As it turns out, Chris was also playing in the Employee Event.  My immediate plan was to sweat both of them on the rail, but when I ventured from the daily back to the employee tourney, it was practically impossible to see the action at Chris's table, so I returned to the daily.  A few days later, when I saw a couple of Chris's friends, I asked how he did in the event.  As one of them responded that he did okay, the other held up two fingers.  Immediately, I excitedly queried, "HE FINISHED SECOND?!"  This is how you look when you run deep in a poker tournament...   

Congratulations on your great finish Chris!

115.  Yeah...  That's been the average high temperature here lately in Las Vegas.  Today is actually the first day of summer, and it also happens to be the one-year anniversary of my residence in my current apartment.  I joke with others that I live on the edge of the hood, but no one has tried to mess with my place in the last year, and it's within walking distance of the Strip, so I may stay here a little bit longer.

5:00...  At 5:00 p.m. Vegas time today (8:00 Eastern/7:00 Central), the 2017 NHL Awards Show/Las Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft will be taking place at the nearby T-Mobile Arena and will be televised on the NBC Sports Network.  This coming fall, the desert will be fielding (icing?) an NHL team for the first time, and tonight they get to pluck a player from each of the other 30 NHL franchises.  Being a sports junkie, I find drafts inherently interesting anyway.  Knowing how difficult it is for an athlete to make it to the top level of his/her sport (and for an organization to forecast which athletes which achieve that level of success), it's intriguing to watch as players that franchises were unable to protect are named to the roster of a brand new team joining their league.

In other news, things are still going very well for me here in the desert.  I love my job, I get to play poker whenever I choose (outside of work hours), and believe it or not, the football season is actually creeping closer.  I'm doing my best to use poker and fantasy baseball as a bridge to get me to football season...  :)    The one drawback to my cable carrier is that I don't have the NFL Network.  Anyway, the last week of August will give us a light smattering of NCAA games, then widespread footballs break out in September...

Alright.  We're within a half-hour of the NHL shenanigans, and I plan on writing a little in my other blogs too.  Have a great week, and I'll see you soon!