Friday, April 27, 2012

NHL Rd. 2/NBA Rd. 1 Predictions (Wow, Wow, WOW!!!)

Good morning everyone.  What a Friday morning this is.  The first round of the 2012 NFL Draft was held last night and there's so much going on in the sports world that I'm not even going to address football.  I will address my past predictions - wow, wow, WOW...  If you have a minute, go back and check out my predictions for the 2012 NBA regular season, and compare them to the final regular season standings.  If you don't have a minute, I correctly predicted ALL 16 playoffs teams, and I NAILED the 66-game regular season records of several teams (mainly in the Eastern Conference).  In the first round of this year's NHL playoffs I called the winners in 5 of the 8 series.  I called 4 of those 8 winners (New Jersey, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Phoenix) in the exact number of games the series would go, and I called the Capitals in 6 (they won in 7).  I also called 8th-seeded Ottawa, who forced a seventh game with the top-seeded Rangers.  We aren't going to discuss how badly I whiffed on the Canucks and the Red Wings because we don't have that kind of time...  ;)  Below are my predictions for the second round of the NHL playoffs (which begin tonight) and the first round of the NBA playoffs (which begin tomorrow).

Second-Round NHL Playoff Predictions:

#7  Washington Capitals vs. #1  New York Rangers   -----   Capitals in 6 games
#6  New Jersey Devils vs. #5  Philadelphia Flyers       -----   Flyers in 6 games

#8  Los Angeles Kings vs. #2  St. Louis Blues            -----   Kings in 6 games
#4  Nashville Predators vs. #3  Phoenix Coyotes        -----   Coyotes in 7 games

First-Round NBA Playoff Predictions:

#8  Philadelphia 76ers vs.  #1  Chicago Bulls                -----   Bulls in 5 games
#7  New York Knicks vs. #2  Miami Heat                   -----   Heat in 5 games
#6  Orlando Magic vs. #3  Indiana Pacers                    -----   Pacers in 6 games
#5  Atlanta Hawks vs. #4  Boston Celtics                     -----   Hawks in 6 games

#8  Utah Jazz vs. #1  San Antonio Spurs                       -----   Spurs in 6 games
#7  Dallas Mavericks vs. #2  Oklahoma City Thunder   -----   Thunder in 7 games
#6  Denver Nuggets vs. #3  Los Angeles Lakers           -----   Lakers in 7 games
#5  Los Angeles Clippers vs. #4  Memphis Grizzlies      -----   Clippers in 6 games

And there you go...  With all of today's predictions this almost seemed like a homework assignment, but you have to love this time of the year in sports (and it deflects attention from my fantasy baseball team)...  ;)  Have a great sports weekend and I'll see you again on Monday!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Living In Las Vegas

Good morning everyone.  I'll get right down to business since this post is going to have some length to it.  I'm now 14 weeks away from being able to move back to the desert, and I decided that today's entry would summarize the things that I did and did not like about living in Las Vegas.  I will start with the negatives first so that I can end up with the good stuff.  I previously lived in Vegas for 2 years (when the economy was good), from May 05 to April 07.  The positives and negatives below are listed in no particular order...


1)  The Weather - IT... ALMOST... NEVER... RAINS...  Go figure, since the city of Las Vegas is in the state of Nevada, in the middle of the DESERT...  I grew up in the Northeast throughout most of my youth, and with the exception of the two years listed above, I have lived in the state of Texas since I moved south to attend college.  The thing that I discovered from my previous stint in Vegas was that I have personally become acclimated to humidity.  It is pretty much too hot to do anything outside during the summer in Las Vegas, but "it's a dry heat..."

2)  There Is No Water - This is a little different from the reason listed above and is a bit of an exaggeration, but let me explain...  San Marcos, America has a river running right through the middle of campus at my alma mater (there is a stretch of grass overlooking the river that is nicknamed 'Bikini Hill' - you may have heard of it...).  During the hot Texas summer you can jump INTO this river, float the river, etc, etc...  I cannot vouch for this with 100% certainty, but when I lived out in Vegas before, I was told that the city would not allow any new homes to have swimming pools and that no new golf courses could be built due to the lack of water.  I SWEAR that on my visit to Atlantic City three summers ago I was ready to move up there after walking out of the poker room and staring THE ATLANTIC OCEAN eye-to-eye...  AWESOME!

3)  The Feeling Of Isolation - There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 million residents in Clark County (depending on which source you trust), so let me explain...  San Marcos, America is 30 minutes south of Austin and 30 minutes north of San Antonio.  If you drive much farther than 30 minutes in any direction from Vegas, you will run into MOUNTAINS.  Yes, Las Vegas is nicknamed 'the valley' (although I prefer 'the desert') on the local Vegas news, etc...  The way that I have driven into Vegas many times, from the south (out of California), it's VERY OBVIOUS that you are driving UP a mountain, and then DOWN a mountain.  I grant you, it is a VERY BIG BOWL, but for some reason I let that bother me...  Let me add that I did not have a Myspace account, facebook did not exist yet, and I felt more than a little separated from my family and friends.

4)  The Feeling Of Having To "Watch Your Back" - I guess it's due to the gambling, partying lifestyle out in the desert (what's that you say?), but I always felt like I had to watch my back to avoid being scammed by somebody.

5)  The Lost Souls - I really wasn't sure how to title this reason, but it is very depressing to see the poverty level in Las Vegas.  This is in a way a reflection of the reason listed above.  There are a number of people living in the desert who have gambled above their means or for some other reason have fallen on hard times, and it is very sad to see the poor neighborhoods and the homeless who you do not see in the television or print ads for the city.


1)  The Weather - HUH?!  Wasn't that number one on the bad list?  Forget the fact that Vegas doesn't have much rain and is dry, and the seasonal temperatures are VERY SIMILAR to those in central Texas.  It gets a little warmer in the summer and a little cooler in the winter.  BUT Vegas does not have a lot of (if any) tornado or hurricane watches and warnings...  ;)

2)  Poker And Sports Betting - What do I do since there is no river?...  In Las Vegas I can make a sports bet/parlay on practically anything, and a casino has NEVER failed to pay me on a winning bet.  If you have read this blog at all, I LOVE making predictions, especially when it comes to sports, and especially when it comes to football.  In Las Vegas I can play poker RIGHT NOW (whenever right now happens to be).  I can ALWAYS find a game.  This could be a reason all its own, but since I'm relating it to poker, Las Vegas is 24/7 - Las Vegas is ALWAYS OPEN.  You might have to search your Poker Live App. to see where the game is at 4:00 in the morning, but you will be able to find one.

3)  You Meet People From Everywhere - I am a people person, and I LOVED the fact that I got to meet people from all over the United States and all over the world.  The three rowdy guys from (insert the name of a country here) can really liven up the poker table.  I didn't know that there were so many beautiful women from (insert the name of a country here).

4)  Your Friends Will Come To Las Vegas -  Even without the advent of facebook, I can easily recall meeting up with friends from San Marcos, America and family AT LEAST a half dozen times in the two years that I lived in Las Vegas.  We dined together, we gambled together, we had milk and cookies together...  ;)  DON'T GET ME STARTED on how many of my friends have gone out to Las Vegas in the past year (which I have been made well aware of through my facebook account)...  I am sure that having facebook will make the desert feel a little less isolated also...

There you go.  I hope that clears things up for you a little.  Some things for you to ponder if you have never visited the desert or have thought about moving there yourself.  Something that I was evidently too stupid to do was to make the short 5-hourish drive from Vegas to the west coast to see the Pacific Ocean (and yes, I have never been to L.A., or San Diego, or San Francisco, etc, etc...).  I hope that you have a great day and I will see you again on Friday with my first-round NBA playoff predictions.



Monday, April 23, 2012

100 Days

Good morning everyone...  My dry erase board on the wall, and my Las Vegas calendar on the opposite wall are both telling me that I have 100 days until my current lease is up and I can move back to the desert.  At this point everything is still a go...  I think that on Wednesday I may dedicate my post to what I did and did not like about living in Vegas previously.  As the sports scene is about to turn into a big whirlwind later in the week, with baseball clicking off at a regular pace, and the NHL and NBA both churning out playoff games (as of this Saturday), I am about to be very busy at work this week, working six days in a row (with many of those shifts starting earlier than normal).  This is just a notation in my ramble and not a complaint, because I'm still scrounging for and squeezing every nickel for my venture back to the desert.  What that means hockey-wise is that I am going to miss seeing a lot of second-round games.  My basic cable package (included with my rent) does not carry a lot of the stations that have been showing the games so far, so I haven't seen as much action as I've wanted to.  There have still been plenty of overtime games so far, which I love about this time of year.  I'd like to send out my condolences to my blogging friend grrouchie, whose Penguins were on the wrong end of a six-game series against the Flyers - sometimes there are victims when I get a prediction right my friend...  Grrouchie and some of my other new readers deserve some grief of some kind, because there is a group of newfound (to me) poker bloggers who will be venturing out to Vegas in the next few months, before I have made my move westward...  Josie, another one of my new readers, encouraged me to get out to the desert earlier, while imploring me to bring a lot of money, which reminded me of my favorite quote about myself:  'People have underestimated me my whole life'...  ;)  Like she thinks taking my money would be as easy as making the trip to Vegas - PFFTTT...  :)  I am going to miss meeting this group...  If you look at my profile under the 'blogs that I follow' section, you can visit some of these blogs if you have a few moments to spare.  Josie is a Red Sox fan and Grrouchie is a Steelers fan, and both of these fine bloggers play poker, so these people do have some redeeming qualities...  ;)  This Monday blog is once again coming to you on my Saturday, the 'weekend' preceeding my six straight days of work, so there will once again be many chores awaiting me after I hit the 'publish' button.  It seems very strange that I will be moving once again as much as I dislike the actual act of moving...  On t.v. this week (I think it was on the show 'Are you smarter than a 5th grader? - this was a rerun on a very slow t.v. night), I learned that Emily Dickinson evidently lived in the same house her WHOLE LIFE, and I just responded by rolling my eyes at the t.v.  I couldn't even imagine what that would be like, having moved as many times as I have...  Oh yeah, my 'fantasy' baseball team...  Ha ha - for the second straight week it looks like my team managed to have a team batting average of less than .200, and to top things off, 2 of my pitchers have now been put on the 15-day disabled list...  Cliff Lee and Daniel Hudson are the 2 dinged-up gunslingers, my 3rd and 12th round draft picks, respectively.  I am currently sitting in 8th or 9th out of the 10 teams in the league, but it is still only April.  It's just one of those things...  My team COLLECTIVELY had failed to steal a base in over a week, and then I had three stolen bases on Saturday...  :)  On that note, I was disappointed that the Yankees/Red Sox game was rained out last night, because I was off of work and would have been able to watch it.  The Red Sox squad against my fantasy team would be a great divisional race right now...  :)  Thank you for stopping by to visit my little blog - as of today, the view count at 'Bikini Hill' is going to surpass the 6,400 mark...  I think that sometime before I move to the desert I am going to do a 'test post' from my smartphone to see what it comes out like, in case I don't have immediate internet service when I move out to Vegas and want to post something.  I would like to stick with my Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule of posting (I recently found a Las Vegas-based blog authored by a funny gal named Linda Lou who posts on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays - WHO would picks those days?!)...  :)  Anyway, I am happy with my current schedule and am interested in seeing if I can reach my predicted 20,000 views by the end of this year, but this will be a lot easier if I don't miss posts due to being unable to write...  If you happen to be new here, I just love making predictions...  ;)  As I'm typing this, I wonder if any of my blogging friends have ever attempted to make a post from their phone - I would appreciate you mentioning if you have done so...  All I know is that the keys on my phone are REALLY SMALL compared to these keys that I am punching right now.  I hope that you have a great Monday and I will be back with a breakdown about living in Las Vegas on Wednesday - have a good one!

Friday, April 20, 2012

All The Sports

Good afternoon everyone.  I've decided that I'll give a short little paragraph to all of the sports today since so much is going on in the sports world.  We'll start with hockey since the skaters are currently in the first round of their playoffs.  The thing that I like about this year's hockey playoffs is that none of the teams got swept out of the first round.  There are eight first-round series in the quarterfinals.  Five of the series are currently 3-1, while the other 3 series are currently tied at 2-2.  My predictions are just a little ahead of the curve at this point as 3 of the 5 teams with 3-1 leads are ones that I picked to win.  I will give you my second-round predictions as the matchups become available since those series will not all start at the same time.

The NBA will be winding down its crazy and condensed regular season on Thursday.  My first-round NBA predictions will make up my blog next Friday since the playoffs will begin next Saturday.  Dwight Howard, another casualty to injuries, is supposed to have back surgery according to Yahoo! Sports and will miss the rest of the season.  If you find yourself bored right now, go back and compare my regular season predictions for this season's standings to the current standings - I'm going to be really close on a lot of them...  ;)

The NFL will be holding their annual draft starting on Thursday - YES!!!!!  I am such a football junkie now that I freely admit that even the prospect of the draft gets me excited now...  I was even posting on my facebook the other day to let everyone know that this season's NFL schedule was being released...  :)  At this point everything is still a go for me moving back to the desert this summer, and I am looking forward to wagering on football games at will when September rolls around (in addition to playing poker at will)...  ;)

Baseball, ah baseball...  This has been a wonderful month of April so far...  My beloved Red Sox have managed to lose a game 18-3, and my fantasy team is currently getting THROTTLED...  I will usually give my fantasy baseball updates on Mondays because the fantasy week plays out Monday-Sunday, but I wanted to take a moment here to mention that the Bikini Hill Giants are currently sitting in 8th out of the 10 teams that make up my league.  I knew that I wanted to mention my team here last night when they hit a WHOPPING .105 for the day.  Having a .105 batting average is not like getting a perfect score on a test and then getting the extra credit question correct also.  It's more like (no, it's pretty much EXACTLY LIKE) getting 1 hit in every 10 at bats.  This is my hand picked "fantasy team" mind you...  Ahem...  My team is 1st in ERA and 2nd in WHIP (walks/hits allowed per innings pitched), and that is about all of the good news that I have right now.  As a result of my team's .216 batting average for the season to this point, I am not stealing any bases or scoring any runs either (since no one is getting on base).  I can type all of this with a smile since I do not give up and there is a lot of baseball to be played.  Hopefully my team starts playing some of it (that goes for you too Red Sox)...

I will be back on Monday with my ramble.  Have a great weekend!  ;)


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Evil Hand

Good afternoon everyone.  The 'evil hand' refers to the poker hand that I nicknamed while I was living in Las Vegas.  This happened when I was playing in a tournament at the Sahara one day, which is actually where I played a lot of tournaments when I lived in the desert.  I'm not saying that I played the Sahara tournament on a daily basis, but I have played more tournaments there than I have ever played anywhere else.  My notes on this particular tournament have me holding the 'evil hand', the Queen-Ten (of hearts in this instance, although the hand doesn't have to be hearts, or suited for that matter).  In conversations that I have had with my friends since this fateful day, 'evil hand suited' is how I now refer to queen-ten suited...  Anyway, there were 58 entrants in this tournament, and we were down to the final 18 when the blinds were at 1,000 and 2,000, and I was in the big blind.  I had 3,500 left in chips before the hand, so now 2,000 of those were in the big blind when I looked down at my queen-ten of hearts.  I ended up all-in preflop against (surprise, surprise) a bigger queen, the king-queen.  The board came out Q x x Q K and I was done for the tournament in 18th place.  I don't think that my play was horrible here considering that I was almost out of chips, but then I decided to enter the next tournament that the Sahara had on tap for that evening.  This tournament saw me as a runner for about an hour.  I limped with the 'evil hand' this time, and a queen came on the flop.  Have you ever played against one of those opponents that just LOOKS like they're bluffing?  They just have that look about them that they would try to bluff you...  Well, this hand ended up being called down all the way to the river, where my opponent ended up showing queen-jack (in retrospect, I have thought that maybe the villain had that look about him because he wasn't too sure about his jack kicker).  Let me interject here that a jack kicker is WORLDS BETTER than a ten kicker...  So, for the second time in about an hour, I was eliminated from my second-straight Sahara tournament by the 'evil hand'.  I took this story to work with me, and to the tables with my poker playing friends, and now I share it here with you, so all of you know that whenever I refer to the 'evil hand', I am talking about the queen-ten.  It looks kind of pretty (sort of), you "have to play it" (according to one of my friends) if it's suited, because you're 2/5 of the way to a royal flush, but BEWARE, it can get you into all kinds of trouble (imagine ominous background music here)...  In the future I will address my LEAST FAVORITE HAND, which is actually NOT the 'evil hand'.  I hope that all of you have a great day, that you don't call down players while you're holding the second-best hand just because they look 'sketchy', and I will see you again on Friday.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Coach 1 Crawfish 0

Good morning everyone.  I have been awake for a couple of hours now after a nice long nap that began at 8:00 p.m., so this is as good a time as any to do my ramble.  Saturday had me working until about 4:00 a.m. as usual, and after getting some gas and groceries, I planned on going to sleep so that I could catch my nephew's 9:00 a.m baseball game in town.  That was my PLAN...  Mix in the crawfish boil that was scheduled to take place during the afternoon (Note:  I LOVE crawfish), along with the 60% chance of rain that was forecast for San Marcos, America on Sunday (which was supposed to be really heavy between 10:00 a.m and noon), and yesterday had the makings of a potentially interesting day.  What I didn't count on was the fact that I was going to be unable to fall asleep or that AMC was going to be running a 'Mad Men' marathon.  Guess who ended up watching 4 straight episodes of 'Mad Men' from 5:00 a.m to 9:00 a.m. (after having seen maybe 20 minutes of the show EVER previously)...  With the forecast and overcast conditions when I was finally able to fall asleep, I didn't feel too guilty about my nephew's baseball game because it looked like they were going to be rained out.  I ended up sleeping for about four hours, looked outside, and it didn't look like a single drop had fallen at my place...  I logged onto facebook, saw that the crawfish were boiling, and off I went a half-hour later.  The next 6 hours consisted of me getting 8 to 10 crawfish at random intervals, and enjoying what turned out to be a great day for any event in San Marcos, being mostly overcast with no rain, and with plenty of food and beverages to go around.  I was teased by the last twenty minutes of a 'Mad Men' episode when I woke up a few hours ago, but I am now stuck with watching 'ET' as I get into this ramble.  One of my friends who was at the crawfish boil and who I work with gave me a story to pass along for the blog...  This one falls under the category of knowing or coming across those people in life who are allegedly experts or authorities on a subject, but then the more that you talk to them...  :)  First I should tell you that my friend is from New York originally and that this is very obvious to figure out just by talking to him.  Texas has had no influence on his accent...  It seems that he was at a local coffee shop recently and was having a conversation with a guy that was TELLING HIM all about how things are in New York and New Jersey...  My friend was a little confused by some of the things that he was hearing, and so he asks the guy when he had last been up to New York.  The guy responds be saying, "oh, I've never been to New York..."  :)  (At this point I wish that I had been there to see the look of my friend's face...).  Well, my friend then proceeds to ask the guy if he has ever been out of the state of Texas, to which you can probably guess by now was met with a reply of "no..."  Hmmmmm....  At work on Saturday night we had a balloon drop for the group of bands that were performing, and after the drop some of the patrons started tapping the balloons around the venue like they were playing volleyball.  One of the balloons ended up floating down and bouncing off the head of one of the young ladies who was focused on the performers up on stage, and she ended up reacting to it like she was being attacked by a bat...  :)  The countdown for my probable return to Las Vegas, America is now at 3 1/2 months, so if anyone knows of any potential job opportunities, or of someone with some cheap space to rent, let me know...  ;)  I'm going to stop rambling now so that I can try to figure out some remedy for my fantasy baseball team that MIGHT HAVE had a .200 batting average this past week.  Have a great day and I'll be back with another poker story for ya on Wednesday...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

"Your Team Sucks" And Short Poker Stories

Good morning everyone.  I'm sorry that I missed you yesterday.  I woke up with some time allotted to do my blog, but I felt bad when I woke up and just went back to sleep before my shift at work.  This late 'Friday' blog has a couple of sports-related 'comebacks' for you and some short poker stories for the poker readers who I shorted on Wednesday when I made my NHL playoffs first-round predictions.

After hours at work last night a group of us were talking about basketball as we cleaned up our venue.  This group included 3 Spurs fans, a Mavericks fan, and a Lakers fan.  You can probably imagine the chirping that was going on as the NBA playoffs are approaching.  The Lakers beat the Spurs a few nights ago, and on facebook I was seeing some of the "Spurs suck" commentary, so I thought that here I'd give you a few comebacks to the "your team sucks" comments after your team suffers a loss at the hands of the guy with the big mouth.  I have found these comebacks to be pretty effective at stifling chirping, and the only team that I follow that they probably wouldn't work for this year is the Montreal Canadiens, who did pretty much suck this season...  My other favorite major sports teams are the Spurs, the Boston Red Sox, and the Pittsburgh Steelers if you are new to 'Bikini Hill'.  So say that the Spurs lose to the Lakers, and you get "the Spurs suck."  Start by snapping off, "well they MUST SUCK if they lost to the LAKERS..."  If necessary, you can follow that up with, "if the Spurs suck so bad, then WHY are you making such a BIG DEAL about the Lakers beating them?..."  Hopefully there's something that you can use there...

I've got a couple of short stories for you that occurred while I was dealing 2-4 limit hold 'em games and one that occurred when I was playing in one of the Station Casinos freeroll tournaments that I participated in while living in Las Vegas.  In the first instance I was dealing what I refer to as a "World Series 2-4 limit hold 'em game."  This means that NO ONE at the table was speaking.  I had a table full of 10 players at the 2-4 limit game who were DEAD SERIOUS.  (At some point in the future, you will probably read about me referencing a game as a "World Series game" when the players are taking FOREVER to act on their hand, like the game is being televised or they are playing for ENORMOUS stakes, but these players were just SILENT)...  I had been dealing this game for about 15 or 20 minutes when 'Sweet Caroline' by Neil Diamond started playing on the in-house music system.  As we played in silence, the first chorus aired...  "...hands...    touching hands...    reaching out...    touching me...     touching you...  Sweet Caroline..."  Suddenly, three players at the table spontaneously BELTED OUT...  "DUN  DUN  DUN!!!"  Led by myself, the whole table starts laughing and everyone FINALLY loosens up...  :)

In another 2-4 limit game that I dealt at a full 10-player table, the woman sitting across from me in the 5-seat sees the flop and proceeds to IMMEDIATELY spill her drink that was sitting in the cupholder nestled in the rail directly in front of her.  At this point she bets her hand and is called in two places.  She bets the turn, and again, is called in two places (I'm trying my best to keep a stone face and not roll my eyes at this point).  After I put the river card on the board, the 5-seat bets again, and after again being called by these 2 players, she proceeds to show that she flopped "the nuts."  My poker tip for you today is that if you ever see anyone excited enough by the flop that they actually BANG into the table and spill their drink, you PROBABLY don't want to call them down to the river...  ;)

You will probably appreciate this last story more if you are a poker dealer or have played a good amount of live poker in casinos.  I was playing in one of the Station Casinos freeroll tournaments (to qualify for this tournament, you had to play a certain amount of hours of poker in any Station Casino in a specified time period - for example, it may have been 90 hours of poker in 3 months).  Well, there are approximately ten of these casinos in the Las Vegas metropolitan area that mainly the local residents frequent, so there are literally thousands of qualifiers for these tournaments, and they require a lot of dealers when the tournaments begin, with many of these dealers predictably being inexperienced to some degree.  Whenever a dealer has a problem at a table that requires the assistance of a floor supervisor, it is common to hear that dealer call out for a 'decision' (for example - "I need a decision on table 22...").  It was early on the first day of this tournament when all I could do was smile and shake my head as I heard the dealer bellow out, "I NEED A SECOND OPINION ON TABLE 22..."  Hopefully someone found that as amusing as I did...

I hope that you have a great weekend and I'll see you again on Monday!



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

NHL Conference Quarterfinals & My First No-Limit Game

Good afternoon everyone.  I'm going to give you a quick summary of my expert and heavily researched (AHEM...) first-round NHL playoff picks, followed by a write-up of my most profitable poker tournament results to date.


(1) New York Rangers vs. (8) Ottawa Senators     -----   Ottawa in 6 games
(2) Boston Bruins vs. (7) Washington Capitals        -----   Washington in 6 games
(3) Florida Panthers vs. (6) New Jersey Devils       -----   New Jersey in 7 games
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Philadelphia Flyers   -----   Philadelphia in 6 games


(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (8) Los Angeles Kings   -----   Vancouver in 6 games
(2) St. Louis Blues vs. (7) San Jose Sharks               -----   St. Louis in 5 games
(3) Phoenix Coyotes vs. (6) Chicago Blackhawks     -----   Phoenix in 6 games
(4) Nashville Predators vs. (5) Detroit Red Wings     -----   Detroit in 6 games

Let me apologize if some of those predictions aren't lined up correctly on the page.  My 'preview' feature is not working right now, and has previously been very valuable in helping me straighten up my other prediction articles.  If you think I'm totally crazy with my Eastern Conference picks, the lower seeds in the East all played the higher seeds tough head-to-head, so we'll see...  ;)

My first no-limit hold 'em game...  :)  I'm smiling as I type this thinking back on it.  To give you a little background, I learned how to play poker at the tables in Las Vegas.  Now don't get me wrong - I watched a lot of poker on t.v. and read a lot of poker books before and during the time that my "poker career" began, but when you're talking about actual playing experience, it came from the tables in Las Vegas casinos.  That being said, it took me more than a full half-year after I moved to Las Vegas to sit down in a 1/2 no-limit game.  I had played in tournaments before, but playing a tournament is different than sitting in a cash game because your loss is limited to the tournament entry fee.  For example, I would play the Sahara tournament as frequently as any other tournament, and the cost with the chip add-on was about 62 dollars.  No matter how the tournament played out, that 62 dollars was the most that I was going to lose.  In a no-limit hold 'em cash game, you can lose your whole buy-in (100 dollars, 200 dollars, whatever is in front of you) on one hand.  We were allowed to play at work (during our shift also) where I dealt, and in the early days of our poker room, this was often necessary to start games or to keep them going.  In early December of 2005 at 5:45 a.m. (yes, like I mentioned in an earlier post, I keep pretty accurate records of my poker sessions), I sat down in my very first 1/2 no-limit game for 100 dollars.  This HAS TO BE one of the funniest no-limit sessions EVER...  Playing against more experienced players than myself (by definition, since I had never played in a no-limit cash game before), I was pretty nervous about being outplayed after the flop.  I can also tell you that I can remember being pretty nervous the next couple of times that I sat in no-limit games outside of the casino where I worked - it's a MUCH DIFFERENT game than limit...  Anyway, this is how it went for the whole 2 hour and 5 minute session that I played.  Every time that I received a premium hand (I recall getting AK like 4 times, and KK once), I SHOVED MY WHOLE STACK...  EVERY... TIME...  :)  So whether the action went limp, limp, limp, limp to me..., or limp, limp, raise to 6 to me...  whatever the action was, if I was in the hand, my stack of reds went into the middle.  Two things to note here.  The first thing is that the whole table knew that it was my first time playing no-limit (they obviously also knew that I was a poker dealer in the room).  The second thing is that I was NEVER CALLED when I shoved!!!...  :)  The table did not know what to do with me.  I was playing tight (obviously), and even though I was shoving in the neighborhood of 100 dollars each time to win pots of no more than 15 dollars, I was not called, once...  I recall one hand (I was sitting in the 2-seat and my opponent was sitting in the 10-seat) where the guy LITERALLY took more than 2 minutes tanking before he finally folded his hand (this was one of the times that I had AK).  I ended up winning $ 59.00 for the session (which I was FINE with).  If you're one of my readers who is a fellow poker player, you know that it's better to win a small pot than to lose a big one, and I hold the same philosophy with my session results.  The players at my table were dumbfounded, my floor supervisor was laughing...  :)  Ah, the good ole days...  I am happy to say that I am still on track to move back to the desert at the end of this summer, and should be making that trip in August if nothing changes.  I may give you a little poker story on Friday with whatever is happening in the sports world since I took a bite out of today's entry with the hockey picks above - the NHL playoffs start tonight, so I pretty much had to make those selections today.  Have a good one and I'll see you again on Friday.



Monday, April 9, 2012

Tuna Fish & Pancakes

Good evening everyone.  Today has been and will be quite an eventful day chorewise for me.  I was finally motivated enough to get a printout of my W-2 from the University of Texas (which only required me going somewhere with a printer), so I will be doing my taxes after I post this ramble.  I'm just saying if this ramble goes on and on, don't read anything into it (like I'm procrastinating for example)...  I do have my fantasy baseball stat-tracker and a combination of Armageddon and the Brewers/Cubs game on t.v. to get me through the next three hours until the 10:00 episode of 'The Big Bang Theory' comes on, so I'll be just fine.  Some people, like my punk brother, are AT the Yankees/Orioles game tonight, but I'll manage somehow.  You think that he'd go to watch some real teams play, but whatever...  :)  When he finally gets around to reading this, he'll be pleased to find out that I did add a Yankee to my fantasy baseball team.  And thank you Phil Hughes for doing nothing to help lead my team to its fourth place standing after the first week of play.  For those of you who read my fantasy baseball draft strategy, my team is currently last in the league in HR's and tied for last in RBI's, just as advertised.  However, in the five pitching categories, I am first, second, tied for second, third, and tied for third (also just as advertised)...  ;)  A LONG WAY to go in the baseball season, but I'll keep you updated...  I decided that I will make my first-round NHL playoff predictions on Wednesday.  These predictions will take up just a small part of the newly slotted Wednesday Las Vegas/poker space, but I wanted to give myself a few extra days to look at the stats since I've watched almost no hockey at all this season.  For those of you who are new readers and stop by to check out the poker stories, I've got material through the end of this month without really racking my brain to come up with it...  A lot of poker in my rearview mirror and in my future.  The countdown is now at 114 on my current lease ending and hopefully my move back to the desert.  When I was doing my morning chores today (mainly getting that W-2 printed out and picking up the tax booklet and forms that I need), I witnessed many 'normal' (for San Marcos, America) happenings that made me laugh, curse, and knew that they'd end up here in the blog.  In what was less than 15 minutes of actual driving, I drove up behind a person who didn't take the 'right on red' when they could have, COULD HAVE had an accident with a person who DID take a 'right on red' where they're not allowed to near my workplace, watched a person from my right cruise RIGHT THROUGH a stop sign at a four-way stop where each 'stop' had a vehicle waiting to proceed,  and watched a genius on a motorcycle switch lanes from behind me to get ahead of the university bus that we were stuck behind (while I knew that whole time that the bus would be switching to the left lane also, because, GUESS WHAT, the entrance to the university was ahead on the left)...  If you have ever played live poker, you can probably relate when I say that PEOPLE LIKE THIS are the ones who you're seated with at the table on many occasions, just making me more anxious to get back to Vegas and its assorted poker tables...  Watching the show 'Las Vegas' this morning, I was reminded why I'm mystified at the amount of people who play slot machines, which have a well-earned reputation for being the worst play in the casino.  The guest is leaving the casino at the end of episode, uses a free-play card, and wins a car when the spinners align for him.  In the movie 'Con Air', the plane (or something) crashes into a slot-machine, and it happens to come up with a winning spin.  My point is that I've seen MANY movies/television shows where the 'random spin' being shown ends up being a winner.  Nah, these machines aren't easy to manipulate...  I love it when in Vegas (and other places), the slots are ADVERTISED as having a payback rate of 99%, 95%, etc...  They're just broadcasting, "yes, we give back LESS than 100% of the money that we receive..."  So I'm buying some tuna fish last night, and I bought the albacore tuna instead of the regular.  Growing up I was never really a fan of the regular tuna fish, but I've eaten it more as I've grown older.  However, I think that albacore tuna is GREAT in comparison - it's like it isn't even the same animal...  This got me thinking about pancakes, which are something that a lot of people LOVE, but are in the category of things that I definitely enjoyed more growing up than I do now.  The syrup is just TOO SWEET for me, and the pancake itself is just...  BLAH...  When you're telling your friends about my blog, you can say, "hey, I've found this blogger that writes about tuna fish and pancakes..."  ;)  Okay, I'll be back on Wednesday with some first-round NHL predictions and a poker story for ya.  Oh, and about my 13-2 run in the 'Sweet 16' and Tiger not winning the Masters, this sentence is all the bragging that I'm doing...  ;)   Have a good one!


Friday, April 6, 2012

Baseball Everywhere...

Good afternoon everyone.  I'm sitting here watching the Chicago White Sox/Texas Rangers baseball game while I revel in the early success of my fantasy baseball team.  If the season were to end right now, right this minute (well, as of yesterday's stats anyway), I would be my fantasy league champion.  WOO HOO!!!  My team hit one homerun yesterday, which puts me near the top of the HR and RBI categories, something that WILL NOT LAST...  :)  It looks like I will have some NHL playoff predictions for you in my ramble on Monday.  Those predictions will be very interesting considering the limited amount of games that I have seen this season.  The funny thing about the NHL playoffs is that lower seeded teams are ALWAYS knocking off the higher seeds.  You think that the NCAA Tournament is bad - PFFTTT...  The NHL season ends tomorrow, and shortly afterward the first-round playoff schedule will be released.  One of my favorite sporting events to witness is the NHL playoff game that goes MULTIPLE overtimes.  It just becomes a battle of attrition to see which team will actually be able to skate effectively the longest.  I hope that I will actually get to see some of the playoff action, considering that I live in Texas, have a basic cable package, and that I work nights...  'The Masters' golf tournament is currently underway, and staying consistent with my prediction that Tiger Woods will not break the record set by Jack Nicklaus for victories in the 'Major' events, I am predicting that Woods will not win the tournament this weekend.  I'm actually flipping through the sports channels right now (not JUST watching the Rangers game), and I'm pretty happy that I'm not Gregg Williams right now.  The former New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator is again having the audio of his speech to the team before the game with the 49ers last season being played on ESPN2.  He is currently suspended from the league 'indefinitely', and I have a feeling that indefinitely is going to last for A WHILE..............  So back to April baseball...  Early season baseball has to be some of the best.  It's the bottom of the 4th inning, and Cruz just struck out for the Rangers with 2 outs.  After the swing-and-miss, the ball proceeded to dive beneath the catcher's glove, go between his legs, and bounced all the way to the backstop.  Cruz on first, another runner on 2nd, still 2 outs...  :)  Yeah, baseball has some quirky rules...  I hope that the baseball fans reading this got a look at the new ballpark down in Florida on Wednesday night.  If you didn't, make sure you that tune into a Marlins home game sometime this season - pretty interesting field...  The backstop area behind home plate actually has fish tanks off to the left and right sides (similar to the aquarium that I generously have on permanent loan to the Mirage, behind their check-in desk).  Okay, the big tank at the Mirage is actually none of my doing, but it is a relaxing place to watch the fish swim around at three in the morning when you're in the middle of a marathon poker session.  If you've never been in the Mirage and you're out in Vegas, go check out the fish - pretty impressive.  It's one of the things that's definitely on my to-do-list when I get back to the desert.  That and finding as many fish as I can AT the poker tables...  ;)  We have come to the end of what turned into a Friday sports ramble, but I hope that all of you have a great Easter Weekend, and I'll be back again on Monday with my normal ramble and some NHL first-round predictions for you.  Have a good one!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Duece-Five Of Clubs

Good afternoon everyone.  I'll wait until Friday to gloat about my recent NCAA Tourney run.  You know, gloat about all of the money that I didn't win...  :)  I now have less than an hour to wait until I see how the first round of waivers turned out in my fantasy baseball league.  Chipper Jones was already injured, Bryce Harper is starting the season in the minors, and Andrew Bailey just got injured this week, so 'Coach' is making changes... Oh, and there is a televised, REAL baseball game tonight...  :)  In the meantime, let me tell you about the biggest pot that I have ever won in a limit hold 'em hand.

For those of you who haven't played a lot of poker and don't have much exposure other than what you've seen on t.v., no-limit hold 'em is what you see on t.v.  In no-limit, you have the ability to shove all of your chips into the middle at any time.  In limit hold 'em, the amount of chips that you may bet or raise is fixed for each betting round.  This particular hand occurred in a game the week after I moved to Las Vegas in May of 2005.  In sat down in a 4-8 limit game at the Rio.  At these limits, you may bet or raise in increments of 4 dollars before the flop and on the flop, and in increments of 8 dollars on the turn and the river.  I had recently been reading a lot about odds in the poker books that I owned, and that played a big part in me winning this hand, making a play that I wouldn't normally make.  I was sitting in the big blind (the blinds were 2 and 4 dollars in this 4-8 game) and I was dealt the deuce-five of clubs.  This was at a ten-player table.  By the time the action had got back to me, there had been one late raise to eight dollars.  I decided to call for only 4 more dollars because I was 1 of 7 players in the hand.  Well, after the action passed me, the people to my left went crazy, and by the time it was my turn to act again, the raises for the hand had been CAPPED AT 20.  With 5-high this might seem like an automatic fold, but I only needed to call 12 dollars to win the 128 dollars that was already out there.  That means that I was getting slightly better than 10-1 odds on my hand...  I decided to go ahead and call the twelve, armed with the knowledge of my recent poker reading.  The flop came out 3 4 x (x means that the card is irrelevant to the story, a 'blank' if you will).  There was no flush draw on the board, but our hero now had an open-end straight draw with his 2 3 4 5.  An ace or a six shows up and I'm doing backflips...  This hand took place almost 7 years ago, but I'm sure that there was at least a 4-dollar bet on the flop, and I believe that it was raised to 8, with pretty much everyone understandably going to the turn.  The turn card was a 6, a BEAUTIFUL SIX...  The turn put a flush draw out there that wasn't clubs.  I checked my straight when the action got to me, and was able to check-raise the predictable eight-dollar bet.  After I put in my raise to 16, only 2 players called me.  With the 140 in the pot preflop, the at least 28 (but more likely 56 on the flop), and the 62 (I believe) here on the turn, this was a pretty decent pot.  The river was a non-flush blank, and after I bet out eight, both remaining players called to see my turned straight, with the DEUCE-FIVE of clubs...  As I'm raking in this close to THREE HUNDRED DOLLAR pot, I could literally hear the murmers around the table...  "How could he call 20 preflop with FIVE TWO?!"  Well, you can imagine...  :)  I also have in my notes for that day (yes, I read a lot before I started playing poker, and have always kept a pretty good record of my results) that I went on to flop a flush with A 9 of hearts in that same game, and after playing for 1 hour and 23 minutes, I cashed out up $ 296.00.  I WISH that I had that hourly rate for my whole poker career...

I have decided that I definitely do have enough 'material' on Las Vegas and my 'poker career' to do a weekly Wednesday entry until I move back to the desert in August (if I can make that happen).  I hope that you enjoyed that, and I hope that you send me your karma for my fantasy baseball team as I already have players that are dropping like flies...  :)  Have a great day and I'll see you again on Friday.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Scary Scary...

Good afternoon everyone.  I hope that you're having a great day as a prelude to the national championship game tonight.  Today's ramble is going to begin with sports since we have a rare Monday marquee event.  In just over five hours the Kansas Jayhawks and Kentucky Wildcats will tip it off in New Orleans.  In a scary stretch of predictions quite similar to my NFL playoffs run in the fall, I am 12-2 predicting winners in this tournament since the 'Sweet 16' began.  Here's what happened on Saturday:

                     My prediction                                                                             Actual Score

Kentucky     75      Louisville      66                                       Kentucky     69       Louisville     61
Kansas          74      Ohio State    70                                        Kansas          64       Ohio State    62

I feel like I do heading into the Super Bowl prediction right now in that I'm on such a roll that I don't want to totally blow this game.  Talking to friends we've also discussed how after I do move back to Las Vegas I'll probably never have a run like this or my NFL playoffs run again...  ;)  To go 13-2 and please tens and tens of loyal blog readers everywhere, I'm going to go with...

Kentucky     73       Kansas     66

And there you go.  That will give me a rooting interest in the game...  I do apologize for this entry coming out so late today.  I am usually off on Sundays, thus well-rested for Mondays.  Last night my workplace hosted the Lone Star Music Awards, and we opened our venue earlier than usual, which resulted in me sleeping less than I would before a normal shift at work, followed up by a busier shift than I'm normally accustomed to.  The night was a success and I still plan on dedicating a good portion of an entry here to the Texas Music Theater in the near future.  I told some of my co-workers when I started the blog that I wanted to build up some sort of following here before I wrote about our venue so that more than three people would be reading about it...  ;)  I'm happy to say that today the blog will surpass the 5,800 mark in views, and at the pace it's going, 'Bikini Hill' will have to average just over 50 views per day to reach the 20,000 views that I predicted it would receive by the end of 2012 (I am prone to making a prediction now and then...).  I would like to give a shoutout to my friend and co-worker Megan who just completed her first half-marathon this past weekend.  Megan isn't a running fanatic by any stretch of the imagination, and had previously logged a personal long run of  7 miles before completing the 13.1 mile course on Saturday, but she is the type of strong-willed person that can pretty much conquer anything that she really sets her mind to.  Congratulations Megan!  Anyone meeting me for the first time (how can you meet someone more than once?) probably would not guess that I have completed three marathons in my lifetime, which segues into the new group of followers that my blog has received.  There is a group of talented poker (predominantly) bloggers whose blogs I have found in the past few weeks, and some of them have been making their way back to my blog.  Well, I recently discovered that they are planning a series of 'events' in Las Vegas during the last week of June and the second week of July.  Of course this is a 'bad beat' for me because my plan is to move back to the desert at the beginning of August...  GRRRRR...  :)  I guess they'll just have to take each other's money...  If you aren't aware of it, the major baseball season has started already...  It started mid-week last week with a couple of games featuring the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics in Japan.  I am not the commissioner of Major League Baseball, but it would make sense to me to change something that I believe has been ongoing throughout the course of my lifetime.  Why does the MLB season not start on a SATURDAY, when the majority of people across the country are not working and could enjoy a full-day of games?  The season always seems to start on a weekday...  Why not get your television outlets together and just show a FULL SLATE of games ALL DAY LONG to kick off the season?  That probably makes too much sense...  And I don't have a problem with marketing "American sports" oversees, but to begin the season, you might want to host season-openers on our soil (or turf, or whatever we're playing on)...  Okay, I'm going to end this little ramble here for today, but on Wednesday I will be back with a Las Vegas/poker-related story.  If you missed my entry from last week, Mondays will still be about rambles at 'Bikini Hill', Wednesday will now be dedicated to Las Vegas and/or poker-related stories, and Fridays will still be about sports-related topics and predictions.  Have a great day and enjoy the game tonight!