Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Long Blog Weekend

Good morning everyone.  I have to work for the next three days and I was able to watch a lot of sports last night, so I decided to do my 'Friday' blog early and give my myself a long blog weekend.  Working nights as I currently do, I will be unable to watch any meaningful amount of sports until Sunday.  HOWEVER, I am scheduled to have four days off in a row once Sunday does get here, so I am pretty excited about that.  :)  Last night I was treated to an overtime opening game of the Stanley Cup Finals, an overtime second game of the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals, and some random baseball scattered here and there...

The hockey game was everything that I could have hoped for, except that New Jersey didn't win the game.  I don't have any allegiances in this series, except for the fact that I picked the Devils to beat the Kings in seven games, so as I would be after making a sports bet, I am a New Jersey fan for this series.  As I have written here previously, I LOVE overtime playoff hockey.  Unfortunately for me, the overtime didn't last long and the wrong team scored the game-winning goal.  Los Angeles executed a great pass to give themselves a breakaway opportunity and the Kings took advantage of it to give themselves a 1-0 series lead.  I have to work on Saturday, but I will be able to watch games 3 and 4 on Monday and Wednesday, so I'm a pretty happy camper as far as that goes.  Why the second game of this series isn't scheduled until Saturday is beyond me, but whatever...

Speaking of delays, I saw last night while watching the Heat/Celtics game that the NBA Finals are going to begin on June 12th I believe (it is either the 12th or 13th, and I was unable to confirm the date doing a quick search online).  This would be funny if both series somehow turned out to be sweeps because each winner would get like 8 or 9 days off, just enough time for all of the sports world to forget about basketball...  Don't ask me, I don't know...  Anyway, Boston's point-guard Rajon Rondo played the game of his life last night, only to watch his Celtics go down in defeat.  Yeah, my remote was busy last night considering that this game was played simultaneously with the hockey game.  As I said before, another overtime game, as LeBron James missed a potential game-winning layup and jumpshot in the last twenty seconds of regulation, but Paul Pierce fouled-out for the Celtics, and the Heat managed to keep home court against Boston.  Okay, I did lie in that last paragraph - I picked Miami to win this series, but I'm still rooting for the Celtics to bounce them out...  :)

Baseball, oh baseball...  This is a good time to let you know that I overlooked my fantasy baseball update on Monday.  I'm sitting in 10th place of 10 teams now,but I'm still confident that won't be my finishing place.  Memphis Mojo (who has a blog that is on my reading list, and who has stopped by here before to comment) was in attendance when ANOTHER of my fantasy pitching stars went on the disabled list, as Roy Halladay left his outing against the Cardinals with arm problems in St. Louis and will now be out for 6 to 8 weeks.  My team is just on the cusp of advancing in several categories, and there are four months left to play, so I'll let you know...  As I flipped through the channels last night, I caught a glimpse of the Seattle Mariners MAULING the Texas Rangers (that is not a typo), 11-0 in the 3rd inning when I first saw it, in what turned out to be a 21-8 Mariners win.  OUCH!!!  After both the hockey and the basketball games had ended, the Angels were in the 5th inning of their game against the Yankees out in Anaheim, and I got to watch New York end the Angels' eight-game winning streak...  That would bother me more if the Red Sox weren't playing so much better now.

It looks like today is going to be the day that 'Bikini Hill' passes the 8,000 view plateau, so thank you for that.  It just shows that someone is bound to find your blog if you type 3 entries a week for 8 months...  :)  I hope that you have a great weekend and I'll see you again on Monday (and not before)...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The World Series

Good afternoon everyone.  As I was laying on my bed watching 'Space Cowboys' (you can see why I can't wait to move back to Las Vegas...), I was trying to recall some interesting poker tales to hit you with today, and my mind kept going to the World Series of Poker.  I am positive that the reason is because this year's World Series started on Sunday.  This year the World Series runs from May 27 - July 16th.  Well, those dates will get us to the 'November Nine', the group which will return to Vegas to play for the big Main Event money.  I have found a group of poker bloggers whose writing I read regularly, and who themselves stop by here from time to time to skim through my drivel.  This group has plans to meet in the desert during the next two months, and if any of you are reading this, I would STRONGLY RECOMMEND that you take a "field trip" over to the Rio to check out the World Series if you haven't done so before.  If you are not a part of this group of bloggers and have never been to the World Series before, I am giving you the same advice.  You can visit if you're interested in seeing what's going on at the Rio.  This website is EVERYTHING World Series...  ;)  After getting my first job in Las Vegas as a chiprunner at the WSOP and playing in it during my second year living there, this is the sixth year in a row that I will be missing this spectacle.  The good thing about my timing in moving back to the desert is that I will be arriving right before the start of football season, and the bad (besides the EXCRUCIATING August heat) is that I will be coming to town on the heels of the end of this event.  In case I failed to mention this here before, I played in the Casino Employee's Event which kicks off the WSOP each year.  ***The funny thing about doing the poker entries for this blog is that I REALLY have to concentrate on what I have and have not written because ideas for these Wednesday entries are constantly running through my mind.  That's another reason that I cannot wait to return to Vegas, because once I do, I'll be able to recap my weekly visits to poker rooms and I'll know EXACTLY where I stand...***  So anyway, I played way too tentatively during this WSOP event, and was a really low stack when I was on the big blind (I believe that half of my remaining chips were out as my big blind when this hand was dealt).  I was watching the action happening at the table before I looked down at my hand, and the players at the far end of the table started going CRAZY, on MY big blind.  They ended up getting all-in before the action got to me, and I looked down at Ace, Ace.  Hmmmm, I'll call...  I was up against Queen, Queen, and Six, Six...  Both of my opponents bricked the flop and the turn, and the river was a queen...  So long $500.00 entry fee...  Because of what one hand can do to you, I have told many people that if I came into $10,000.00 that I could put toward World Series entries (either 10K of my own or a combination of my money and that of backers, etc, etc...), I would rather enter multiple $1,000.00 or $1,500.00 events at the Rio as opposed to taking the 'one shot' in the Main Event.  Hopefully my game will become good enough in the future to worry about such things...  I hope that all of you enjoy your basketball and your hockey tonight, and I will be back on Friday with some kind of sports-related post...  :)  Have a great day!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Thirteen Years Ago

Good morning and Happy Memorial Day everyone.  It was thirteen years ago this Memorial Day that I was fortunate enough to be in the Alamodome when Sean Elliott hit the 'Memorial Day Miracle', completing a huge comeback for the San Antonio Spurs over the Portland Trail Blazers, as the Spurs marched toward their first NBA Championship.  When I moved back to Texas from Las Vegas in 2007, the Spurs went on to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers to win their fourth championship, and it would be a nice sendoff present for my trip back to the desert if the Spurs could secure their fifth title next month.  With that segue, let me give you my predictions for the NBA's Eastern and Western Conference Finals and the NHL's Stanley Cup Finals before getting into today's ramble.

Recap of the second round of the NBA Playoffs:

Actual Result                                                                                       My Prediction

Celtics over 76ers in 7 games                                                       Celtics in 5 games
Heat over Pacers in 6 games                                                         Heat in 7 games
Spurs over Clippers in 4 games                                                   Spurs in 6 games
Thunder over Lakers in 5 games                                                 Thunder in 7 games

Third round of the NBA Playoffs:

Series                                                                                                       My Prediction

#2 Miami Heat vs. #4 Boston Celtics                                        Heat over Celtics in 7 games
#1 San Antonio Spurs vs. #2 Oklahoma City Thunder      Spurs over Thunder in 6 games

Recap of the third round of the NHL Playoffs:

Actual Result                                                                                         My Prediction

Kings over Coyotes in 5 games                                                      Kings in 6 games
Devils over Rangers in 6 games                                                     Devils in 6 games

Stanley Cup Finals:

Series                                                                                                         My Prediction

#6 New Jersey Devils vs. #8 Los Angeles Kings                     Devils in 7 games

A few sports notes before I continue rambling today.  As I've stated before, I am a Spurs fan, and not being the superstitious type AT ALL, I will continue to pick them to win each series in six games since they've won each series to this point when I've done so.  Also, I am not a LeBron James fan AT ALL (this time the 'AT ALL' being serious), but I will continue to keep picking the team that I think will win each series.  The Kings have looked OUTSTANDING in the hockey playoffs to this point, but the Devils have been there before, and this pick is my hunch...  :)  Today is my 2nd day off in a row, and is 1 of 6 that I will NOT have to work in the next 10 days - WOO HOO!!!  I am nine weeks out from when I get to move back to Las Vegas and I have A LOT to get accomplished before doing so...  One chore that I have to complete before moving is downsizing my belongings because I will not be able to bring everything that is currently in my apartment back to Vegas.  I did take a first step last night by giving my two outdoor chairs to my neighbor.  She's a sweetheart and deserves them...  :)  Shortly after I moved into my apartment back in August, I was hammering some nails into the wall to hang up my dry-erase boards (where I plan my life), and I didn't realize how thin the walls were here yet, and it was pretty late at night, and she had class the next morning...  Anyway, I felt bad about it, which brings us to last week...  My brother and his wife were in town, and I set my alarm clock on Sunday so that I would wake up in time to make a family dinner in San Antonio.  I woke up on time and made it to San Antonio in plenty of time for the dinner.  After I had been in San Antonio for about an hour, I realized that my alarm would be going off in twenty minutes - you see, I woke up before my alarm was set to wake me up, and I forgot to turn it off.  Oh, and another thing, this alarm is REALLY FREAKING LOUD!!!  I proceeded to eat dinner with my family, and when I got back to San Marcos, America, my neighbor was sitting outside hanging out with a few of her friends.  When I asked her about my alarm, which was set to go off at 5:30 p.m. (remember, I worked until 4 a.m. on Saturday), she replied, "yeah, I heard it go off at 5:30, and then I went to sleep, and it will still going off when I woke up at 7:30, and then after a while I guess it gave up..."  Yeah, I hope that you enjoy my chairs kiddo...  :)  This week I was smart enough to buy some all beef hot dogs (Ballpark Franks), and I am not buying chicken hot dogs again, fyi...  I have a memo to Kraft, and anyone else who makes numerous products, and packages them in similar packaging - DON'T DO IT...  One of my longtime favorite foods in Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.  Well, Kraft decided to branch out and make different types of macaroni and cheese.  Of course they put them all in the same-sized, very similar looking blue and yellow boxes, and I was tripped up for the first time this week when I mistakenly bought the four-pack of 'thick and creamy'...  "Smmmile, it's thick & creamy" - that's how the macaroni is presented.  Translated, that means, "this is NOT the original mac and cheese"...  Little did I know...  I have a food tip for you from my friend Lauren:  evidently, wheat bread is better for you than white bread.  I have a food tip for you from me:  wheat bread DOES NOT TASTE GOOD!  :P  I hope that you have a Happy and Safe Memorial Day and I'll see you again on Wednesday.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Here Comes New Jersey

Good afternoon everyone.  I only get to give you one upcoming sports prediction today due to where the current NBA and NHL playoff series stand, but I did just find some interesting information at Yahoo! Sports...  As for the sports predictions, I will be able to give you the rest of my predictions on Monday, as every other NBA and NHL series will end on Sunday at the latest.  The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers will take the court in their deciding game seven tomorrow night, while the New Jersey Devils will take their 3-2 series lead to the ice tonight against the New York Rangers.

The series that I am able to give a prediction on right now is the Western Conference Finals in the NBA.  I was correct in predicting that the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder would get this far (I will give my prediction recaps on Monday for the most recent rounds of the NBA and NHL playoffs).  The Spurs have gone through the playoffs undefeated to this point, and I believe that the Thunder have been very fortunate to win a number of close games in their first two rounds.  That being said, and being the sort of superstitious person that I am (and being a Spurs fan), I will again pick the San Antonio Spurs to win this series in six games.  The Spurs haven't won a series in six games yet in this year's playoffs, but they have won both series.  So, to summarize...  :)

NBA - Western Conference Finals                                    My Prediction

San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder     -----     Spurs over the Thunder in 6 games

The very interesting information that I learned about the state of New Jersey earlier is that the state will challenge the federal law on sports gambling outside the state of Nevada.  The Yahoo! Sports article basically says that the state plans to have sports gambling available in casinos and at race tracks by October, and that it will be up to the federal government to come and shut them down...  I will personally find the outcome of this challenge very interesting because I LOVED Atlantic City when I visited a few years back, and would seriously consider moving there if they had sports gambling to go along with their oceanside poker rooms.  In the meantime, the countdown to Vegas is at just over nine weeks...  :P  Have a great weekend and I'll see you again on Monday with my ramble and the next round of NBA and NHL sports predictions.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Mighty Jack-Six

Good afternoon everyone.  Today's post is bound to get me into trouble in the sense that I will probably forget that I told you some of these stories and will inevitably end up reposting them at a later date.  These are hands that I can recall playing as I sit in my computer chair right now, without the aid of looking back in my notes, and my hope is that these short stories will help you fondly remember poker hands that you have played in the past.

Jack-six...  I can't even think about this specific hand without smiling.  I was at the Mirage in Las Vegas playing at a 3-6 limit table (the 3-6 limit game at the Mirage is where I did a lot of my undergraduate work in the game of poker).  This hand occurred during the time when I was still playing SUPER-TIGHT, which just makes the story even better.  Let me also say right now that there have been many times after I have been sitting at the poker table for hours that I have just got 'the feeling' that I should play a hand.  I usually haven't acted on this feeling, as the hands have been less than stellar (or I would have played them anyway), but in this case...  :)  I was dealt the jack-six (offsuit no less), and I wasn't even in position, but I just felt like I should play it (and again, this came during a session where I was folding many, MANY hands...  I put my three one-dollar chips into the pot and waited for the flop...  Six, Six, Jack...  :)  I still remember sitting in the two-seat, and how INCREDULOUS the guy in the five-seat was that I even played the hand, ESPECIALLY after I said, "yeah, I was gonna fold it, but I just had a feeling..."

Pocket eights...  This hand occurred on New Year's Eve at Green Valley Ranch in a 4-8 limit game.  I was sitting the three-seat and the victim was sitting in the six-seat.  One drawback to playing tight is that you don't make as much money in many cases when you hit a good hand because if you bet out, your opponents will fold.  So sometimes you have to slowplay your hand and just check and call...  Ha ha ha...  So I'm dealt pocket eights and the flop comes 8 x x.  The turn is the case 8...  The river doesn't matter of course...  :)  I don't even remember how many players saw the flop, but the man in the six-seat, who was at least in his 50's, and probably his 60's, is the player who matters.  After the flop, I check, he bets, and I call.  After the turn, I check, he bets, and I call.  After the river, I check, and he checks.  When I flip over my quad-eights, I say (in all honestly), "I thought you were going to bet again..."  I didn't mean to make him mad, but when he saw my hand,  he was just STARING DAGGERS at me...  What made it worse is that while he's staring me down, the dealer is doing NOTHING (by this I don't mean I expected the dealer to take a bullet for me, but the dealer isn't killing the man's hand, or pushing me the pot, etc...), so this staring goes on for literally 10-15 seconds...  :)

When I was very new to the game of hold 'em, I played two of my first sessions of 4-8 limit at the Golden Nugget, in both sessions it took me over an hour and a half to win my first hand, and in both cases I won the hand with pocket queens.  During this time period I also thought that king-jack and king-ten were excellent poker hands because I seemed to end up with a full house every time that I played them...

I have been dealt pocket aces in back-to-back hands several times since I began playing poker, and once at the Mirage in a 3-6 limit game I was dealt aces 3 times in a row.  I won 2 of the 3 hands...

I hope that this entry brings back some memories for you poker players out there, and I will see you again on Friday.


Monday, May 21, 2012

The City Of Angels

Good morning everyone.  I wanted to begin this ramble by mentioning right off the bat that if you're looking for other blogs to read in addition to mine, you should really check out my reading list by clicking on my profile.  In case you haven't noticed, 'Bikini Hill' isn't fancy in terms of things like photos, graphics, links, etc... (because I'm uneducated and lazy when it comes to these things, and I write my blog for fun, not to become a chore).  If you view my reading list, or even the profiles of a lot of the people who make comments on my blog entries, you will find links to their blogs.  I also wanted to say thank you for stopping by as 'Bikini Hill' blew by the 7,500 view mark this weekend.  I'm now within ten weeks of my lease ending and being able to move back the desert (for those of you keeping score at home), and I even started "mock-packing" my vehicle last week to see how many containers of what size(s) I would be able to cram into a limited space to determine what will be going back to Las Vegas with me.  The one good thing for me about the once overinflated Vegas housing market is that it appears I will be able to find a place to live relatively cheaply.  There are multiple studio and one-bedroom apartments listed in the 300-400 dollar range, in addition to rooms for rent existing in that range also.  I'll just need to find one job, just one...  :)  I believe that I mentioned in a previous post that one of my regrets about living in the desert before was NEVER visiting Los Angeles, or Venice Beach, or seeing the Pacific Ocean at all, etc..., because I was informed by NUMEROUS visitors that L.A. is only a 4 1/2 hour drive from Vegas (I normally drive 20 HOURS STRAIGHT from central Texas to  Las Vegas, and vice-versa...).  Anyway, that is something that I need to make sure to do this time around.  I was watching numerous sporting events on t.v. today (SHOCKING, I know), and during the Kings/Coyotes playoff game at the Staples Center, they showed an aerial view of the arena.  Normally when overhead views of arenas are shown from various cities, the arena stands out as THE LANDMARK in the immediate vicinity, but Los Angeles is SO BIG that the area surrounding Staples seemed to ENGULF the arena, causing it to blend in like it was of no consequence...  I found that to be truly impressive...  Tonight at Staples, my San Antonio Spurs withstood a number of bounces and shots going the Clippers way, and still managed to pull out a hard-fought win and a sweep of their second-round series.  Beware of the Spurs, they are looking very tough right now...  If the Lakers can extend their series with the Thunder, causing both teams to expend more energy, it would make the Spurs almost deadly.  The Thunder have been squeaking by opponents in the first two rounds of the playoffs as it is.  "Sometimes I feel, like my only friend, is the city I live in, the city of angels, lonely as I am, together we cry..." -Under The Bridge- (Red Hot Chili Peppers)  I just wanted to toss those lyrics in there randomly as I have managed to mention the Kings, Clippers, and Lakers all in the same post (which will probably never happen again)...  :)  Tonight I also saw a Dodgers pinch-hitter crack a three-run homer to give L.A. a lead over the Cardinals as I was flipping through the channels if that makes anyone feel any better.  The thing that you have to like as you read my rambles is that you would think I was drunk, but I'm really not...  My fantasy baseball team still sits in ninth place in my league, but I'm within a hair of passing up the current eighth-place team.  Looking ahead to football season, I'm already checking the local bookstore on a weekly basis now for the college and NFL preview magazines if I haven't mentioned that already.  I'm just very ready to see how successful I can become at sports betting if I put my energy into it.  My current residence of San Marcos, America has slowed down since we are in the period between the end of the spring semester and the start of summer school for my alma mater.  I believe I have mentioned this here once already, but it has been confirmed that good ole Texas State will be a member of the Western Athletic Conference for ONE season before moving on to the Sun Belt Conference.  I happened to mention to a loyal reader of 'Bikini Hill' last night that I omitted a 'pro' about living in Las Vegas that I had intended to include in that blog entry:  a lot of people visit Vegas for the weekend, but when you live in Las Vegas, you are ALWAYS in Vegas for the weekend! (if you choose to stay in the city)...  ;)  As I prepare to depart until Wednesday, I just realized the irony of 'The City of Angels' being located a 4 1/2 hour drive from 'Sin City'...  :)  Anyway, I hope that you have a great day and I'll see you again on Wednesday for another poker story.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Really Bud, Really???

Good afternoon everyone.  All of my current sporting world predictions are 'in progress' as the NBA and NHL series for the current rounds are underway, so today I have the chance to touch on some specific sports topics.  To start off, I am going to put a checkmark in the correct column regarding the NBA prediction that I made before the current season began.  As soon as I looked at the Spurs schedule (my favorite team), I predicted here in the blog that this would be an injury-filled season of basketball, and that has been answered with a resounding YES by the league.  The condensed schedule is still claiming players (and stars at that) with Derrick Rose and Chris Bosh being two of the more notable players to be sidelined.  I'm really not surprised by the Pacers success in the Indiana/Miami series, as I had this series going to seven games even before the Bosh injury.  Miami just does not have a deep team...  Something that baffles me about the NBA scheduling this weekend is that after having played last night, now the Pacers and Heat do not play their next game until Sunday, while the Thunder and Lakers are being forced to play on back-to-back days???

I was watching ESPN yesterday (huge surprise) when I learned of the Major League Baseball wild-card format that is evidently going to be implemented this season for the playoffs (this idea is so absurd that I was actually wondering to myself if 'April Fools Day' had come late this year or something)...  In a best-of-five format, the team who has the better record is going to have to open the series with 2 ROAD GAMES before returning home to host the third game (and games 4 and/or 5, if necessary).  For having the poorer record of the two teams, your punishment is HOSTING a pair of games, TO OPEN THE SERIES...  Really Bud, really???  Not only is this unfair from a competitive standpoint, but if the series does end in a sweep (by either team), the team that performed worse over the marathon 162-game schedule stands to make twice as much money at the gate, in concession sales, souvenir sales, etc...  BRILLIANT!  Just remember though, this is from the commissioner who brought you the All-Star Game that ended IN A TIE...  Memo to Bud Selig:  Get a clue...

In the hockey world, the Los Angeles Kings look OUTSTANDING...  They have won the first three games in EVERY PLAYOFF SERIES that they have been involved in during this postseason.  The Kings were the eighth-seed in the Western Conference and are now one win from advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals.  Well done L.A.

The whole situation in the New Orleans football world continues to get more interesting.  First, the Saints have failed to come to terms on a new contract with Drew Brees.  They have the 'franchise tag' on Brees, so they can fail to negotiate with him if they want, and take the gamble that he really won't sit out this season (which is what they are apparently doing currently).  It just seems ironic that they are being combative with the guy who turned their franchise around, the guy who rallied their city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the guy who SHATTERED Dan Marino's single-season passing yardage record last season.  Oh, and he led the Saints to a Super Bowl victory also (yeah, but they've been winning Super Bowls for YEARS in New Orleans, right???).  Yeah...  And now Jonathan Vilma is suing NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in New Orleans federal court for defamation (the league has failed to share any of the evidence that it collected regarding those allegedly involved in the 'bounty scandal'.  Is it bad that I'm watching 'NFL Live' and 'NFL 32' on ESPN almost a full FOUR MONTHS before the start of the NFL regular season???  :)

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


Monday, May 14, 2012

Spoons Made Me Fat

Good morning everyone.  Buckle your seatbelts because this is going to be a long ramble...  Now that the NBA and NHL have sorted out their 1st and 2nd rounds, respectively, let me give you a quick recap of what I predicted and what I am predicting, and then I'll ramble...

The NHL 2nd Round:

My Prediction                                                                       Actual Result

Phoenix over Nashville in 7 games                              Phoenix in 5 games
Los Angeles over St. Louis in 6 games                         Los Angeles in 4 games
Philadelphia over New Jersey in 6 games                  New Jersey in 5 games
Washington over New York in 6 games                      New York in 7 games

NHL Current Round Predictions

Los Angeles over Phoenix in 6 games
New Jersey over New York in 6 games

The NBA 1st Round:

My Prediction                                                                         Actual Result

Miami over New York in 5 games                                  Miami in 5 games
Indiana over Orlando in 6 games                                    Indiana in 5 games
Atlanta over Boston in 6 games                                       Boston in 6 games
Chicago over Philadelphia in 5 games                          Philadelphia in 6 games
San Antonio over Utah in 6 games                                 San Antonio in 4 games
Oklahoma City over Dallas in 7 games                         Oklahoma City in 4 games
L.A. Lakers over Denver in 7 games                              L.A. Lakers in 7 games
L.A. Clippers over Memphis in 6 games                       L.A. Clippers in 7 games

NBA Current Round Predictions

Boston over Philadelphia in 5 games
Miami over Indiana in 7 games
San Antonio over L.A. Clippers in 6 games
Oklahoma City over L.A. Lakers in 7 games

Let me say here that I actually saw the L.A. Kings play a little bit last night and they look like a force to be reckoned with - they are so aggressive and swarming.  In their 4-2 victory last night, they outshot the Coyotes 16-4 in the first period...  The Heat/Pacers series just got a lot more interesting because ESPN literally just announced that Chris Bosh will be out indefinitely, and I already had that series going seven games...  Don't mess with my fantasy baseball team - they have woken up.  I am still in 9th place in my 10-team league, but a few weeks ago where I was 50 points behind the league-leader in batting average, I now trail the leader by only 13 points after my team hit .351, for the WEEK...  ;)  I am also now 3rd in stolen bases after my team swiped 12 bags this week.  Curiously, my pitching is suffering more than my offense now, but my pitching staff is LOADED, and I am confident that they will turn it around (something to watch until I move to Las Vegas)...  Speaking of Vegas, I have literally had two dreams this week about moving back to the desert (one which I awoke from right before I started typing this blog entry)...  :P  I think that the Domino's commercials promoting their 'Pizza Hero' game/app are BRILLIANT...  They are touting the fact that you can get a job with Domino's if you are good at Pizza Hero, and they get to "train you" and see if you are competent without investing any paychecks in you - GENIUS...  It finally paid off!!  I have always picked up discarded scratch-off lottery tickets because some people do not understand how the games work.  At work last week, I found a scratch-off ticket on the sidewalk in front of our venue, with three different ways to win on it.  The second 'game' involved scratching off 6 different dollar amounts, and if 3 of them matched, you'd win that amount.  I scanned the scratched ticket to see "Four, Four, Four" included in the group of amounts...  I took it to the convenience store, and it turns out that I found four dollars on the sidewalk...  ;)  Now I have to share with you the contents of a photograph that popped up on a friend's facebook account this week.  A man is shown protesting in front of a store called 'The Shooters Shop' with a poster that reads, "Gun Sellers Are Accomplices Of Crimes..."  This prompted another man to find a piece of regular cardboard, sketch a couple of utensils on it, and proudly display his own sign, "SPOONS MADE ME FAT" - in the photo, the gentlemen are standing side-by-side, and their heads are turned to where they're facing each other (I'm assuming in conversation)...  So there ya go...  :)  I hope that you have a great day, and I'll see you again on Wednesday with a poker post.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Staggered NHL 3rd Rd./NBA 2nd Rd. Predictions

Good morning everyone.  I missed yesterday's post intentionally to see if I might get one more NBA series completed before I made this next round of predictions.  Due to "next round" series in the NHL and NBA starting today and tomorrow, I will give you some predictions today with the rest to come on Monday in my ramble...


Every second-round series in the NHL is completed except for Rangers/Capitals, and if Washington would have held onto a lead for 7 more seconds, I would have nailed my prediction in that series...  Below is a recap of my second-round predictions and the series' outcomes:

My Prediction                                                               Actual Result

Phoenix over Nashville in 7 games                                 Phoenix in 5 games
Los Angeles over St. Louis in 6 games                          Los Angeles in 4 games
Philadelphia over New Jersey in 6 games                      New Jersey in 5 games
Washington over New York in 6 games                        Game 7 tonight in New York

Game 1 of Western Conference Finals begins tomorrow night, and I am picking the L.A. Kings over the Phoenix Coyotes in 6 games.


I missed nailing a prediction in the NBA last night also as I took the L.A. Clippers to beat the Memphis Grizzlies in six games.  Below is a recap of my second-round predictions and the series' outcomes:

My Prediction                                                                Actual Result

Miami over New York in 5 games                                  Miami in 5 games
Indiana over Orlando in 6 games                                    Indiana in 5 games
Atlanta over Boston in 6 games                                      Boston in 6 games
Chicago over Philadelphia in 5 games                             Philadelphia in 6 games
San Antonio over Utah in 6 games                                 San Antonio in 4 games
Oklahoma City over Dallas in 7 games                           Oklahoma City in 4 games
L.A. Lakers over Denver in 7 games                              Game 7 tonight in Los Angeles
L.A. Clippers over Memphis in 6 games                         Game 7 tomorrow in Memphis

The first games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals are tonight and tomorrow night.  I am taking the Boston Celtics over the Philadelphia 76ers in 5 games, and I am picking the Miami Heat over the Indiana Pacers in 7 games.  

I hope that you have a great sports weekend and I will see you again on Monday with my ramble, where I will be completing the predictions for the upcoming rounds in these playoffs.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Navigating The Sahara

Good afternoon everyone.  In the recent poker entries that I have made, I have been getting drummed at the tables.  Here is the post that I promised you where I will actually have some success playing Texas Hold 'Em (get your popcorn)...  :)  Real quick, I once again forget to update my fantasy baseball team's standing on Monday.  I'm still in 9th place in my 10-team league, but I am taking advantage of the system that I HATED during football season.  Our waiver order for free agents each week goes in reverse order of the standings, so I am GUARANTEED to at least get my 2nd choice from each week's free agents, and when the 10th place player doesn't take my favorite or claim any player at all, I get my 1st choice.  A few weeks ago I was 50 points behind the league-leader in batting average, and now I'm 32 points behind him, so I'm gaining...  ;)

Okay, the Sahara Tournament.  Since I returned to Texas in 2007, the Sahara has been closed, but for the 2 years that I lived in Las Vegas, the Sahara had a very popular tournament.  In this post I am going to chronicle my results from two different Sahara tournaments that I played at 11:00 a.m. with my brother.  This is the same brother who brought me into a poker room for the first time and who was already living in Las Vegas when I moved there the first time.  These specific tournaments took place in November of 2005 and June of 2006.  The November tournament had 77 players and the June tournament had 56 players, and each tournament cost me $ 62.00.

Please forgive me if I ever repeat information in this blog.  I have had some of these stories cycling through my brain, and I cannot remember if I have already given you this vital piece of information in a previous post.  After my initial lifetime Texas Hold 'Em outing at the Mirage (losing over $ 300.00 in 6 hours in a 3/6 limit game - FISH!!!), I became a very tight player as I learned the ropes and read my poker books and watched my poker on t.v.  While living in Vegas I nicknamed myself 'Traz' (short for 'Alcatraz', a.k.a., 'The Rock').  This knowledge is key to this story...  :)

The Sahara tournaments had 20-minute levels and gave you a little bit of time to play before they became "shovefests".  In the tournaments that my brother played with me, he always seemed to build up chips, and then get in with a hand like Q Q, only to be rundown by someone who got all their chips in with a hand like A 7...  As for our hero Traz, well..., I played tight as advertised, waiting for premium hands to get in with, limping cheap with good hands when I could.  In the November tournament, I navigated my way to the final table, guarding my meager little "stack" of chips with my life, and when we got down to seven players, someone suggested a chop.  NOT ONLY did we chop, we chopped the money EVENLY, 7 ways, and I received a payout of $ 497.00...  WOO HOO!!!  :)

I think that my brother was sitting around in the cash game making faces as this played-out in the November tourney, but I remember FOR A FACT that he did so in the June tournament.  Playing the same style, I had gotten close to the final table, and surviving some all-ins, I eventually made it to the final table.  Again, having a VERY, VERY MEAGER chip stack this time, we eventually reached the money, which was probably 7 or 8 players getting paid with 56 runners...  Well, a funny thing happened at this point, and I can specifically remember my brother at the nearby cash game talking to the guy on his right, pointing to our final table and laughing as I sat there with barely a couple of chips to my name as my opponents kept getting involved in hands and KNOCKING EACH OTHER OUT.  I was able climb the payout ladder by folding my trash hands, and while running on fumes I was able to finish in 4th place, which garnered me a $ 300.00 payout.  WOO HOO!!!  :)

In the near future I will chronicle my finishes in a couple of other tournaments that I played in, which had my co-workers wondering why I didn't play in MORE tournaments...  (and fewer cash games - ha ha).  Have a great day and I'll see you again on Friday.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I Thought You Were Abducted By Aliens

Twelve weeks...  Saying it that way makes it seem like a shorter amount of time than three months to me.  Living in a college town as I currently do, it seems like another finite chunk of time in the countdown to moving has almost passed with the spring semester coming to an end.  The Bobcats will be finishing up their finals this week, and then San Marcos, America will be a little quieter for the following three weeks until summer school begins at the start of June (then my countdown will be at eight weeks...).  ;)  With my plan to be a much more serious sports bettor than I was when I previously lived in the desert (the sports betting was a hobby to my poker playing), I have a lot more sports viewing in my future.  For as many predictions as I throw out here on the blog, I rarely watch any primetime games because I work nights.  I currently have the Lakers/Nuggets game on as I type this...  By serious sports betting, I am not saying that I wagered outlandish amounts of money when I lived in Vegas before, or that upcoming bets will be bank-breaking for that matter, but there will be a lot more research involved before I step up to the betting windows this time.  This specific ramble should draw enough viewers that it will put 'Bikini Hill' over the 7,000 mark by the time that I make my next entry on Wednesday.  Speaking of Bikini Hill (what a segue, I know), I brought the sports betting book that I am currently reading out there last week to flip through a few more pages.  At one point I packed up my gear to use the restroom, and when I came back, the girl who had been laying out on the towel below mine was gone, but her stuff was still there.  I noticed her absence immediately because there were less than ten of us on all of Bikini Hill at the time due to the fact that it was late in the morning and the weather was overcast.  After a few minutes of reading I looked around again, and there was still no sign of her.  It's common for people to jump into the river for a quick ride downstream, but I put my head on a swivel and did not see her..., anywhere...  This was really strange because she had left her towel and a duffle bag behind.  Even the people who run across the street to get a drink from the convenience store do not disappear as long as she had been absent.  I resumed my reading for about another 5-10 minutes, and then I looked around again...  At this point, about 50 yards away, a girl that could be her was approaching, making her way up the walkway by the river, carrying flippers, a snorkel, and a diving mask.  I honestly felt relieved when I saw her, because people usually don't just vanish from the park for that long, especially if they are alone.  As she reached her towel, this girl who I had never seen before that day made eye-contact with me, and I just couldn't resist...  Thankfully she laughed a split-second after hearing the words, "I thought you were abducted by aliens..."  I went on to explain how her disappearance was baffling, and she explained how she was finally able to successfully swim against the current, navigating her way under a bridge and up the river (out of sight), where she snorkled for a while before riding the stream down the river.  I told her at this point that she was making my blog...  :)  I was watching part of a re-broadcast game on ESPN a few nights ago (which I RARELY do - I hate watching a game when I know that it's not live), and after a commercial break came the announcement, "due to time constraints, we're going to move ahead in the game" (something to that effect), and then, they showed ANOTHER BATTERY OF COMMERCIALS...  Ugghhh...  I have never used a passcode on my phone (and I don't plan on losing it - I guess that nobody does though...), and a co-worker made me feel better about not having done so this week at work.  She said that she never uses a passcode on her phone because if an honest person finds it, they will have no way of getting it back to you.  This makes perfect sense to me - if a dishonest person finds it, if it is stolen, etc..., you're just going to have the service shut off anyway, and you'll still be out the phone...  Let me end this ramble with a memo to Miracle Whip:  Yes, I've tried Miracle Whip, and I don't like it...  And I've actually tried it...  Have a good one and I'll see you again on Wednesday.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Big Sports Friday

Good morning everyone.  This is an "in-between" week for predictions here as both the NHL and NBA playoffs are currently in the "middle" of series that I predicted the outcomes of last week.  Today I am going to catch you up on what's happening in hockey, basketball, baseball, and football, while throwing in my two-cents and bringing in my ongoing predictions in spots.

As things currently stand in the second-round of the NHL playoffs, I'm looking good out west and wrong in the east.  The red-hot L.A. Kings are now up 3-0 on the St. Louis Blues while the Phoenix Coyotes hold a 2-1 lead over the Nashville Predators.  I have the Kings and Coyotes winning these series in 6 and 7 games, respectively.  The New York Rangers hold a 2-1 lead over the Washington Capitals and the New Jersey Devils have a 2-1 lead over the Philadelphia Flyers right now.  I have the Capitals and Flyers both winning in 6 games.  (Again, I'm not in Las Vegas yet and there is ZERO money on any of this).  My heart hurt a few days ago as my work schedule prevented me from seeing one of my favorite hockey games yet again, the multiple-overtime playoff game between the Rangers and the Caps...  I love when it comes down to simply seeing which team can operate on their skates the longest...

It's been a truly hectic week in the first-round of the NBA playoffs.  In every series which is not currently tied, the team that I predicted to win the series is currently leading the series.  Starting in the east, the Miami Heat have a 3-0 lead on the New York Knicks, and the Indiana Pacers hold a 2-1 edge over the Orlando Magic.  I called the Heat in 5 games, but with all of the injuries that New York has suffered, including Amare Stoudemire's knockout-punch of a glass fire-extinguisher case, this series is likely to end in a sweep.  (I have the Pacers in 6 games).  Both the Bulls/76ers and Hawks/Celtics series are tied at a game apiece.  I have the Hawks in 6 games, and this should be a good series.  Unfortunately for the Chicago Bulls, their series with the 76ers is going to be a lot more competitive than most people thought it would be.  I called the Bulls in 5 games, but the season-ending knee-injury suffered by Derrick Rose has tossed this series into turmoil.  Philadelphia took advantage of a seemingly still shaken Bulls squad to win game 2 in Chicago, and although I think that it's still possible for the Bulls to win this series, I would not be surprised if the 76ers took them now.  In the west, the Oklahoma City Thunder now hold a 3-0 lead over the Mavericks.  My prediction for this series going the full seven games looked great after the first couple of games, but after last night the Mavs will have to regroup just to avoid being swept.  (I can't believe that the Mavs fans are AGAIN being given the blue t-shirts to wear at home, mirroring the jersey color of their opposition - brilliant...).  The Spurs and Lakers both hold 2-0 leads over the Jazz and Nuggets, respectively.  The Spurs looked more dominant than I imagined they would in the first 2 games of this series.  I called San Antonio in 6 games, and I am a Spurs fan for those of you who don't know that.  The regular season games were pretty competitive, but Utah needs to figure something out quick to stay in the series.  I predicted that the Lakers and Nuggets will go the full 7 games, and game 2 of this series was the type of battle I envisioned when I made this prediction.  Denver played L.A. tough this season, and they will have the altitude back in Colorado.  Game three will obviously be huge for the Nuggets.  The Clippers and Grizzlies are currently tied at 1-1.  I called the Clippers in seven games, and they are very lucky not to be down 0-2 at this point.  With that being said, you have to respect Memphis for bouncing back to win game 2 after choking up a 27-point lead in game 1.

The following is the list of the current division leaders in Major League Baseball, with the lead in their division in parentheses:  Tampa Bay Rays (1.5); Cleveland Indians (1.5); Texas Rangers (4.5); Washington Nationals (1.5); St. Louis Cardinals (3.5); Los Angeles (4.5).  Pretty surprising list, BUT it is only the first week of May, and there is A LOT of baseball left to be played.

And I just went through a 45-minute internet outage delay, for those of you keeping score at home...

I'm not sure which football team you follow, but I think that my Pittsburgh Steelers drafted very well.  We definitely had a huge need in our offensive line, and we drafted three players for to fill that need.  In one primetime game against Indianapolis last season, we sent an injured lineman back into the game because he was less injured than another lineman.  I have to be honest with you - just watching the draft has me itching even more for the start of the football season.  I really need to get the NFL Network again when I return to the desert...  :)  On a more somber note, R.I.P. Junior Seau...

I hope that all of you have a great weekend and I will see you again on Monday.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pocket Tens

Good morning everyone.  It seems like I just posted...  :)  Before I get to today's topic, let me throw out some miscellaneous tidbits that I wouldn't have been able to hit you with yesterday.  I forgot my weekly Monday fantasy baseball update, which has the Bikini Hill Giants sitting in 9th place in a 10-team league.  What I wouldn't have been able to tell you yesterday morning is that last night, my team (boasting a "stellar" .233 batting average for the month of April), hit .415, scored 8 runs, and had 4 stolen bases...  Hitting their stride in May?  Hopefully...  There is also some buzz now that my alma mater will be joining the Sun Belt Conference after they compete in the WAC for only one year (which begins this fall).

The subject of today's poker post is my least favorite hand to play, pocket tens.  Since I wrote about the 'evil hand' recently, I thought that I might as well address this particular hand now.  I promise that in the near future I will write about a poker outing where I actually won some money...  If you believe Phil Hellmuth's list of 'Top 10 Hands', you pretty much have to play pocket tens, as they are his 6th-ranked hand (AA, KK, AK, QQ, JJ, 10 10)...  I no longer have the particular poker book that I read this in, so I don't remember if Phil created this list or if he just passed along the findings of a group of anonymous poker scientists somewhere...  Anyway, the first thing that I don't like about 10's is that there is a group of 4 overcards that can appear on the board (A, K, Q, J - okay, hopefully you knew the 4 overcards).  If you are facing multiple opponents and one of those cards show up, pfffttt...

The second thing that I don't like about the tens is the potential straight disaster that you can face if you hit your set.  I did not consciously recognize this next fact until I read it in a poker book.  If someone would have quizzed me on it, I am sure that I would have been able to figure it out, and it's like a little lightbulb came on when I read it.  To make a straight, it is NECESSARY to have either one of these two cards?  Think about it for a second - avoid the temptation the scan down in the text - in Texas Hold 'Em, either in your hand or on the board, you HAVE TO HAVE 1 of these 2 cards to make a straight.  It's impossible to do so without having either a ___ or a ___ in your hand or on the board...  (that is 'Jeopardy' music that you hear in the background...).  Okay, you have to have either a 5 or a 10 in your hand or on the board to make a straight in Texas Hold 'Em.  (If you didn't know that already, try to make a straight in your head without those cards - c'mon, I know you want to...).  So your ten hits the board, giving you a set - yippee...  If your hand doesn't fill up, the board doesn't pair giving you a full house, there are going to be all kinds of straight possibilities out there.  The one time that sticks out in my mind occurred during a 1/2 NL session at the Red Rock Casino (Red Rock was my favorite Station's Casino for accumulating freeroll hours in the desert).  We had a donk at the table.  Let me tell you right now that if there is a donk at the table, he will eventually hit a hand against me (it's about the same odds as having an ace show up on the flop if you hold pocket kings).  Anyway, I'm up for the session after grinding for multiple hours, and I still ended up winning for the session, but I flop a set of 10's.  There might be three of us after the flop, and the turn card makes a possible GUTSHOT straight...  I bet, he raises all-in.  He was short-stacked, and I had the odds (or really close) to call even if he did make the miracle straight, because I still have ten outs to make my full house in the worst-case scenario.  I called, hoping my read was wrong, but OF COURSE he hit his four-outer and I didn't catch on the river...  GRRRRRR...

The third thing that I don't like about pocket tens is that they will hurt me if somebody else is holding them.  This is the most memorable hand that I've lost playing at the Winstar Casino in Oklahoma.  For you Vegas junkies, this place has a 46-table poker room.  It's not Foxwoods, but it's still pretty impressive, and if Oklahoma had sports betting, I might be moving closer to the Oklahoma border (Winstar is LITERALLY located off of Exit 1 when you cross the Red River from Texas - YES, EXIT ONE).  Anyway, in a 1/2 NL game, I have A Q, and the flop come K J 10 (not bad)...  I'm in with two other opponents.  My opponents go nuts (well, for having about 100 each in chips), and the only reason that they both don't get all-in is that one makes a mistake in poker protocol (he tries to raise all-in, but makes a string bet).  I know his intentions, and am mentally BEGGING the board not to pair.  Turn card, another 10.  This second opponent gets his chips all-in and I proceed to fold my nut straight, face up...  My opponents flip over J J and 10 10...  PFFFTTT...  The table is AMAZED that I could fold my straight there - I told them that based on the action, someone SURELY had AT LEAST J 10, let alone...  Yeah...

In summary, pocket tens are worse than the evil hand...  :)  I hope that you have a great day and I will see you again on Friday.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Take It Back

Good morning everyone.  It looks like I'll be posting two days in a row this week...  Sorry that I didn't make it yesterday.  I was really sick this weekend, going to work on Saturday when most people probably would have called in feeling as badly as I did, and then I finished off my sixth straight day of work on Sunday.  Yesterday was one of those days that I went back to bed ANYTIME that I felt tired.  So here you go, your Tuesday ramble, my 100th post at 'Bikini Hill'...  I would start this ramble off with a joke about pizza, but thinking about it, it's kind of cheesy, so...  (think about it..., think about it..., AH... there you go).  ;)  Stole that from one of the bands who played at our venue on Saturday night.  For all of the Boise State 'bashing' that I do because of my strong belief that they NEVER PLAY ANYBODY, it seems that 32 NFL teams agreed with me during the NFL draft, as everyone passed on quarterback Kellen Moore, who led the Broncos to a 50-2 record as a starter.  Moore has been signed as an undrafted free agent by the Detroit Lions.  The band Jars of Clay played at our venue on Sunday night.  They are a Christian rock band from Nashville, Tennessee, and are best known for their song 'Flood', which was the lead track from the 1998 movie 'Hard Rain' starring Morgan Freeman and Christian Slater.  Freeman and Slater are part of a group of armored car drivers who take part in a heist in this movie.  It did not occur to me until I prepared to do this ramble that Slater (who actually tries to do the right thing - I was bluffing a minute ago...) hides out in a church that ends up being torched in an effort to get him to vacate it - a church is burned in the movie whose lead track is performed by a Christian rock band...  Go figure...  I actually liked the song 'Flood' so much at the time the movie was released that I bought the Jars of Clay CD it was recorded on.  I enjoyed seeing the band perform it, and I do have one funny moment to pass along from the show.  At one point during the evening I looked up into our VIP section and saw a guy performing on his own set of 'air drums', having a great time...  I don't know if I've developed a 'sixth sense' working this job for 9 months now, but something prompted me to look to the stage, where of the 5 musicians performing at the time, none of them was currently playing the drums...  :)  It's good to see that the folks in Oklahoma City have figured things out now.  Last year I was crying on my facebook because the home fans in the Thunder/Mavericks series kept wearing blue t-shirts, which was the color of the OPPOSING TEAM'S uniform.  It did my heart good to see the Thunder fans all sporting their white t-shirts last night.  And I'm sure that some people thought that I was crazy predicting that this series would go seven games.  We've had a one-point buzzer-beating game and a three-point game.  ;)  So, I've mentioned here before that the Texas State Bobcats will be joining the Western Athletic Conference this fall.  The university has a sign with the letters WAC capitalized, headlining the words 'We Are Coming'.  It's unfortunate for my alma mater that the rest of the conference appears to be leaving...  UTSA has announced that they will be leaving the WAC after this season to join Conference USA, and it's rumored that Louisiana Tech will be following them.  Two of the current WAC members have announced that they will be bolting to join the Mountain West Conference.  It will be very interesting to see where the Bobcats end up...  For all of the commercials that I bash here on Mondays, I have found another one that I like.  Have you seen the ESPN commercial where the balding white guy keeps showing up to places where he has made reservations, is getting picked up at the airport, etc..., and keeps getting responses of disappointment?  His name - Michael Jordan...  :)  At work early last week I heard the most unusual response to a statement that I've ever heard, and it keeps making me smile thinking about it...  After my shift I was involved in some banter with my friend Megan (this is the same Megan who completed her first half-marathon a few posts back).  I do have a tendency to pick on people that I like in case I have never stated that here before...  ;)  Anyway, I'm walking away from Megan toward the end of this banter when I turn and express, "I'm an ANGEL..." (letting the word 'angel' just ROLL off my lips...).  I'm out of sight now walking up the stairs when I hear the shouted response, "TAKE IT BACK!!"...  :)  Really, I am one of the good guys, just ask me...  ;)  I wonder why something as fragile as the toe is located on the end of your foot...  Yeah, I JUST got up to get something to drink and JAMMED my toe into a bookshelf...  GRRRRRRRR...  On that note, since it IS Tuesday, I will be back with a poker story for ya tomorrow.  Have a great day!