Monday, June 24, 2019

Vegas 2019: Pt. 1/Pregame

WOW.  Over three months since the last time that I posted.  Let's see if this thing still works...  The last time that we visited, the madness of March was almost upon us.  Now it's June 24th, and the first pair of games of the college FOOTBALL season are two months from today.  Turning back time to February 19th, I had recently found out that Blue October (my favorite band) was going to be performing at Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas on June 14th.  Oddly enough, I hadn't really thought about taking any vacation days up to this point.  I arrived here in Biloxi on July 31st last year, and the only PTO (paid time off) that I had used was for EO's (early outs) on days that work was slow.  Coming from Las Vegas, I'm accustomed to not asking for time off during football season, and the Super Bowl had wrapped up only a couple of weeks prior to this day.  Blue October.  Now I've only seen them perform live like thirty-something times (ballpark).  Following the band's concert tour website over the years, I had noticed that they normally perform at the Hard Rock here in Biloxi once a year (which hasn't happened yet, and isn't scheduled to happen - and the current tour schedule runs through November 17th).  Guess what?  The World Series of Poker is in full swing in Las Vegas in June.  June also tends to be a really slow time of the year in sportsbooks, making it easier to get time off (as things turned out, my flights to Vegas took place during the next-to-last game of the NBA Finals, and there was only one game left in the Stanley Cup Final after I arrived in Las Vegas).  I also have several friends that I wanted to touch base with, all of whom I hadn't seen for over ten months (by the time that June would roll around).

Back to February 19th.  So on the 19th, I asked if I could get a couple of weeks off in June.  I was told to fill out the forms and that they would be faxed down to Human Resources.  : )  So I requested to be off from June 9th-23rd.  Next, I started working with my "travel agent" Brandi, pricing hotel rooms.  : )  A perk to working for Caesar's Entertainment:  if you stay at one of the company's properties, not only is your hotel room discounted, but your resort fees are also waived.  This is a HUGE perk if you're staying at a company property on the Las Vegas Strip.  After previewing things with Brandi, I made my final decisions at home later that night.  I used Expedia for my flights, and found round-trip tickets from Gulfport (fifteen minutes from Biloxi) to Las Vegas for under $400.  It's cheaper to fly out of New Orleans, but the Big Easy is also an hour and a half drive from here.  I was thrilled that the tickets were as cheap as they were, but I was booking four months in advance.  Also, I had to fly at some weird times, and I had some interesting connections (which we'll get to later).  I also finalized my hotel plans.  I booked a room at Harrah's for eleven nights, and it cost me less than $500 (yes, you read that right).  Now that everything was booked, all I had to do was WAIT.....

Okay boys and girls, that's the end of Part 1, but we'll continue the next time that I see you.  Back to the present, it's June 24th, and someone has to cut their neglected yard at sunrise (when it's coolest).  That will also allow someone to take a nap before they have to go back to work for the first time in about two and a half weeks.......  : (  Til next time, live your best life!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Calm Before The Storm

Good evening everyone.  I'm right smack dab in the middle of doing chores, so this seems like the perfect time to procrastinate.  This is probably going to be my last best opportunity to shoot a few written words in your direction before the NCAA Tournament gets underway, the "calm before the storm" if you will.  I ripped off that phrase from it's creator (whoever that is) sometime back, but now it's been swiped from me.  Whenever we're slow at work before a big sporting event (Super Bowl, NCAA Tournament, you get the idea, etc...), I'll casually let the words, "This is the calm before the storm" roll from my lips in my acquired southern drawl...  Then in the past few weeks, Gaming Today not only reported on a writer at a sportsbook in Nevada using the phrase, but GT actually made the phrase THE HEADLINE of that edition!  The nerve...

So yes, anyway, I'm cleaning up my clothes and my house in preparation of taking bets on and watching a lot of basketball during the remainder of March.  The "madness" unofficially kicked off last night when the #1 team in the nation (DEBATABLE) Gonzaga lost by 13 in the finals of the West Coast Conference Tournament, sending Saint Mary's to the big dance with an automatic bid.  I'd argue that the West Coast Conference is college basketball's answer to the AFC East, but we have all month to fight about basketball.  :D  YouTube.  While we're talking about doing chores, I think that using YouTube as a jukebox is about as underrated as the concept of taking naps.  In the corner of the room, I have the Louisville/Notre Dame game muted as I play tune after tune through my computer.  I highly recommend this if you have never tried it.  YouTube isn't even paying me for the plug...

Back to the tournament and the ensuing calamity (I don't want to use the word "madness" too many times, since the NCAA evidently owns the word), I took a moment to reflect recently, and I reminded myself how lucky I am that my current job is watching sports t.v.  That's not all of it obviously, but basically, if you break it down, I'm watching sports on television for a living.  That probably explains why in almost thirty-one months with Caesars Entertainment, I've yet to miss a day of work, or even come in late.  :D  "Watch sports on t.v., and talk about the games with people?  What time do I have to show up?  :D  In all honesty, next week is a big favorite to be the most stressful that my job will be until football starts again.  Starting with my brother Pete, and ending with my friend and book manager Rob, I could thank a lot of people for their assistance and patience as they taught me the ropes of doing the other things that we do (besides watching t.v.), as I sit here typing on the Mississippi Gulf Coast anticipating some exciting basketball over the next several weeks.

As for a big bunch of the other people in-between, it's only three months until June, and my flights have been confirmed for my excursion to the desert.  I actually received an e-mail today (this is completely true, I am not making this up), and two of my flights have been completely changed (in addition to one totally different airplane), and I now have to be prepared to depart from the Gulfport/Biloxi airport TWO MINUTES EARLIER!  *gasp*  I either arrive in Las Vegas a minute earlier or later also, I don't remember which...

This seems like a good time to take a random timeout.  I was about to explain how after my trip to Las Vegas, I would probably start looking to buy a vehicle when I return to Mississippi, and I'm also going to be in the marker for an aquarium so I can own some more fish, so you get this...  I bought seven new goldfish about three months ago, and these turned out to be the two "lucky" ones.  (Seven, it's a gambling/casino thing - lucky number seven...).  ANYWAY, the fish are nameless, and the one in the front likes to chase the other around the fish bowl.  I did answer an open solicitation on Facebook yesterday about naming a pet.  A former coworker of mine asked for suggestions about naming a new gecko.  Well, it was actually a vote on two pre-chosen names, but my write-in vote was Gordon.  Gordon Gecko...  If you don't get it, you're going to have to look it up, because I'm not going to explain it.  I've seen a few geckos around my house, and if I ever have the urge to catch one, Gordon will be his/her name, it's a lock.

Anyway, since my job at the University of Texas, where my Montero Sport died, I have never looked into acquiring a new vehicle.  While living in Austin, I had a place on West Campus about fifteen minutes from work (this will be a recurring theme), and my job on the Forty Acres gave me free access to the city bus system, so I didn't really need a car.  Then I moved back to my hometown (we're not going to get into all of that), and then I moved to Las Vegas, and then I moved to Biloxi.  In every situation, I could walk to work, and I have a friend who lets me use his car about once a month to go buy groceries, so I really haven't had the pressing need for a vehicle. (In Las Vegas, my friend Joey would take me to shop about once a month, and here in Mississippi, my friend Nick doesn't have the same patience to watch me shop for an hour, but he's kind enough to lend me his car keys...).  :D  So my number one plan (Plan A), is to win enough money in Las Vegas to pay for a new vehicle.  That would be ideal...  If that doesn't work, I'll need to save some more money (Plan B).  After I return from the desert, I will have been at this property for almost a year, and with Caesars for almost three years, so that should show some job stability, yada, yada.  I won't tell the new car people that I watch t.v. for a living...  ;)

So, I told you that to tell you this.  Despite my advantageous new location geographically (I am about an 8 1/2 hour drive from San Marcos, America, I am within a dozen hours of each of my parents, and really close to a lot of neat things that are just a short drive (a few hours), I should probably get a car again.  With the new four-day schedule that I'm working (I'm now working four 10-hour days as opposed to five 8-hour shifts, in case you missed our last episode), I could theoretically miss four days of work (paid time off), and take a ten-day trip somewhere.  I haven't been to San Marcos in quite some time, so that's probably at the top of my list.  NOTE:  San Marcos also means Austin/San Antonio, since they're all located in the same convenient corridor.  San Antonio to Austin is just an hour (well, with zero traffic), and San Marcos is located in-between the two.

Back to gambling, although I love to play poker (yet, ironically, have yet to visit a Gulf Coast poker room since I've arrived), I think that you have more edges betting sports than you do playing cards (well, that I have more edges betting sports)  :D, but I will definitely be playing some poker while in Las Vegas, since I'll be staying right on the Strip, AND the World Series of Poker will be taking place at the Rio, which brings a lot more poker players and money to town.  Another thing that I won't be telling the new car people is how much time and effort will be spent preparing to bet the 2019 football season, but that's another post for another day...  ;)

Alright gang, I've spent enough time chatting with you (and ignoring my chores), so I'm going to get back to it.  Enjoy the college basketball for the rest of the month, and I'll talk to you soon...

Friday, February 22, 2019

Lots of News

Good morning everyone.  If you were able to decode that title, you've already figured out that there's a lot going on in my universe down here in Biloxi, Mississippi.  I've now been here on the Gulf Coast just shy of seven months.  Working in a sportsbook, it's rare to take many days off of work during football season, and for the third year in row, I didn't.  That left me in the same position that I've been in the last two years (wait for it, wait for it...)....  So I was in the position of choosing how I was going to use some PTO (Paid Time Off) days.  I am long overdue for a visit to San Marcos, America, and I now live just an 8 1/2 hour drive away after my most recent move from Las Vegas to Mississippi.  So now that I've thrown that out there, that is not where I recently dedicated a chunk of my PTO hours.  Another option that I had was the "staycation."  This would no doubt include doing some housework, going to Shuckers games, playing poker, sleeping more, etc...  Didn't choose that.  Guess what I did choose......

WOOHOO!!!!  I've never been to Las Vegas before....  :D  A key factor in this choice was being able to take off two weeks of work in a row.  Sportsbook are slower in the summer, so this was possible.  My thinking is, if I'm going to have to pay for round-trip airfare, I want to stay in the desert as long as possible.  I can't understand how people who have to travel any substantial distance can just visit Vegas for two or three days, though I'm guessing it probably goes back to that's the longest that they can afford to be away from home.  Well, your friend Coach just booked a June vacation for ELEVEN nights on the Las Vegas Strip.  :D  Is it a coincidence that the World Series of Poker will be taking place during my visit?  Is it a coincidence that my favorite band will be playing in town during my visit?  Actually, I probably have less "partying" planned for anyone you know that visits the desert, especially for this amount of time.  I probably do have more time visiting friends planned that anyone you know that visits Las Vegas though.  For the two years that I worked in Vegas before moving here in August, I was working for three Strip properties concurrently, so that's a lot of people to touch base with right off the bat.  And then there's those people that I know in the poker world, and then there's the World Series, and then there's the Blue October concert.  You're right, eleven days probably isn't enough, but I'll make the best of it.  :)

Not only was I able to get two weeks off in a row from work, but now my schedule has just been switched to where I'm working later shifts (which are my preference, being the night owl that I am).  Actually, there is NO WAY that I'd be typing for you right now if I was still on the schedule that I had worked since arriving here, because I'd be soundly sleeping preceding a 5:30 a.m. alarm for a 7:30 a.m. shift.  (The time is currently 12:44 a.m. in Biloxi...).  Now I will be waking up at 12:30 p.m. for a 2:30 p.m. shift.  Ahhhhhh...  :D  I will also be switching to working 4 10-hour shifts, as opposed to 5 8-hour stints, which is also to my liking.  While each one of my work days will be a bit longer, I will have an extra day off each week to do things like......

BATTLE MY YARD...  WHOA!!  One of the pluses to living in Biloxi over Las Vegas is that housing is cheaper.  I am currently renting a small two-bedroom house here on the Gulf Coast for $675.00 a month.  When you find that deal in Vegas, please let me know.  Something that comes with a house that doesn't come with an apartment is yardwork.  So I'll be honest at this point, and let you know that today's fun was all work that I brought on myself.  The basic responsibility with renting this house is that I'm supposed to take care of the yard.  I spent an hour cutting the grass yesterday.  Fine.  But SOMEBODY decided that I should dig up dirt around the edges of the house, and plant varioius herbs, flowers, and berries.  So your somebody spent another two hours outside doing yardwork today, which was promptly followed by that same somebody taking a three-hour nap...  :D  If ANYTHING actually grows (except for weeds, because I seem to be able to grow those with no effort at all), then maybe I'll post some photos for you here on the blog.

Back to working later shifts, something that will change is the 2:00 a.m. train.  Well, the train schedule probably isn't going to change, but how I deal with the train blasting its horn at 2:00 in the morning will be different.  Before, that train was either waking me up 3 1/2 or 5 1/2 hours before I needed to get up for work (depending on if it was the weekend or a weekday).  Now, that 2:00 a.m. train will remind me that I need to start thinking about getting to bed pretty soon so that I can wake up on time for work later that day.  Have I ever mentioned that the train tracks run right behind my house, and that they are REALLY CLOSE?

And now back to the yardwork.  I was able to do yardwork today, and right now it's still 70 degrees here in Biloxi, at 1:00 a.m.  This was Las Vegas yesterday...

I guess that I picked the right winter to not be in Las Vegas.  BRRRRRR....  Anyway, it's getting warmer here, I cut some grass and planted some seeds, and now I'm gearing up for the NCAA Tournament, which is right around the corner.  Yes, it's less than a week til March, for those of you keeping score at home.  The aforementioned Biloxi Shuckers will be starting their baseball season down here right about the time that the NCAA Tournament comes to an end, and then it will be time for baseball, swimming, poker, and yes, more yardwork...  :)

This old man should really be getting ready to call it a night now, but for my friends in the desert, I should be bothering y'all sometime in the middle of June.  Have a great week everyone, and I'll see you soon!


Saturday, January 19, 2019

This Football Stuff Is Just About Over...

Good evening everyone.  Unusual to catch me here typing on a Saturday night, but I'm just resting before what promises to be a very eventful day at work tomorrow.  There are just four teams alive in the race for the Super Bowl trophy, and that number will be cut down to two after the Saints host the Rams and the Patriots visit the Chiefs.  For those of you who haven't visited in a while, I'm taking sports bets on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and as luck would have it, the majority of people here seem to be Saints fans...  : D   Our sportsbook will open at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow, and the Saints game (the first game of the day) doesn't kick off until just after 2:00 p.m., so I'm curious as to how fast/slow the betting crowd will congregate for the games.  Two weeks from Monday I will begin my annual depression as the football season will have just ended, and I'll have to wait until almost September for the colleges to tee it up again.  *SIGH*  As a consolation prize, I will begin playing poker again once the football season has concluded, so there's that.  Today I received my fifth copy of Card Player Magazine since I began my subscription, so I've been studying up a bit, seeing what the cool kids currently think about the crazy game of Texas Hold 'Em.

At this point I'm going to transition into a paragraph where poker is the main theme, because that footbally/poker paragraph was starting to get pretty lengthy.  Great thing about writing your own blog by the way, is that you can make up words, type run-on sentences, use ellipses until the cows come home, and no one can do anything about it...  ;)  Okay, poker.  Although I'm not in Las Vegas anymore, there is some poker action to be had here.  Being the responsible person that I am  :) , I've held off on playing poker during football season.  I have to wake up at 5:30 a.m. on the weekends to get to work on time, which is not optimal for late Friday or Saturday night poker sessions (although I'm sure I could've snuck a few in, and probably will in the future).  Also, I have an alarming amount of my bankroll that goes toward football betting during this time of year (WHO KNEW?!).  :D  Honestly, I'm betting a lot less now, just because the games this weekend are so tough, there aren't as many to wager on, and I'll be plenty occupied with work.  (Lucky for me, there is a two-week break after tomorrow's games before the Super Bowl, so I'll have PLENTY of time to place a TRUCKLOAD of prop bets).  Did you notice how I stuck to poker in this paragraph, leaving football in the previous one???  Back to poker, the Imperial Palace hosted a World Series Circuit Event here in Biloxi in the past few months, and the Beau Rivage recently hosted a tournament series of their own very recently.  Long story short, I looked at my Bravo Live poker app. on a WEEKDAY during the Beau Rivage series, and they had EIGHT games running in the middle of the day, while I was eating lunch, so there is some poker to be found here.  The funny thing here is that Biloxi is relatively small compared to Las Vegas (with only three poker rooms - Imperial Palace, Beau Rivage, Golden Nugget), so I'm sure that in no time at all, I'm going to get comments like, "Oh, I know you.  You work in the sportsbook at Harrah's..."  Fun times ahead...  ;)  I plan to keep wearing my ENDLESS collection of Texas State gear to the tables also, so if I'm not already bookmarked in people's heads, it's gonna happen real fast...  (You know, something other than, "Wow, that guy is an AWFUL poker player!").

One of the reasons that I'm writing for you tonight - sheer guilt.  About three weeks back, my brother mentioned to me that he was playing daily fantasy sports on Draftkings.  (Yep, this is the same brother that turned me on to poker also, in case you were wondering...).  I quickly did some research, and realized that DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) are legal in Mississippi.  DFS were specifically shot down in Las Vegas (the state of Nevada), so I had pretty much forgot all about them.  Well, needless to say, with my addictive personality (is that a thing?), I have been a participant in DFS contests on Draftkings practically every day since Pete mentioned it.  The entries to contests run as low at .10 cents, so don't worry too much.  I can lose much more at a poker table or on a football game, TRUST ME...  :D  So, anyway, I'll enter my group of contests for each day, and then I'll monitor my computer to see how my teams are performing (underperforming, not performing at all, getting curb stomped), but yet, I have no time to write.  LOL  Draftkings is great for me because I'm more comfortable betting chunks of money on football than on any other sport, and the majority of football games are played on the weekend.  I'm not inclined to go to a casino every day to make bets on basketball, hockey, or baseball games, so DFS is a cheap way to have some action and stay informed on the games.

And in the event that I don't want to be a total degenerate, the aforementioned baseball season is just around the corner.  Biloxi has a AA minor-league team called the Shuckers, and I live about a mile from the ballpark.  NEEDLESS to say, I will be attending several Shuckers games this season.  I don't know if you've ever seen the movie 'Bull Durham' (and if you haven't, watch it), but it resulted in me wanting to someday live near a minor league baseball park, where the price of admission is nominal, pretty much every seat is a great seat, and the atmosphere is just phenomenal.  Speaking to that festive atmosphere, the teams in the Southern League are the Shuckers, the Jumbo Shrimp, the Biscuits, the Blue Wahoos, the Smokies, the Lookouts, the Braves, the Barons, and the Generals.  You can't make this stuff up.  Well, I could, but I'm not this time...  ;)  I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned it here, but growing up, I would've picked 'Professional Baseball Player' as my preferred career choice.  Anywho, the spring and summer seem to hold some promise, despite the lack of football.

I'm going to sign off for now, but I hope that y'all enjoy your football tomorrow, and I'll be back to write some more for you real soon...

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Happy New Year

Hello everyone.  I just wanted to stop in and say hi to those of you who have been checking in.  I'm still alive and well and plan on writing a full blog entry here in the next few days.  In the meantime, enjoy your football and have an outstanding 2019!