Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Season 4 comes to an end

That was a hella good finish to the 4th season of Wall Street Poker. It was down to the wire and it took a flurry of 4 tourneys at the very end to declare a winner. Wendy, who is consistently in contention, slipped up a bit last night to drop off, leaving Stephen, Jordan, Brian, Mary and Scott St. G. as possible winners. made things a bit interesting when they completely fucked up the invites and wiped out people's responses from Sunday night. In addition, some of the settings I had set, like the all important restriction on the number of players, were cleared from the invites. The end result is that people ended up re-booking themselves and for more players than I had seats for!!! Oy vey, what a pain in the tuchus. I apologized, and still do, profusely to all of the people who thought they had signed up but couldn't play (I mean you Darko!).

Play was tense Monday night at the first tourney because there was a lot riding on the outcome. I managed to be able to take a seat in the first tourney and promptly tightened up like a clam. Every bet was re-raised, etc, etc, boo-hoo. Then Adam A. felted me on two straight hands. The first, I made a straight with J8 on a 9TQA2 board and lost when Adam min-raised a small amount and I was forced to call to see his KJ. Brian admonished me about calling the min-raise but I had bet the minimum so the min-raise felt like a tweak of the pot with two pair and I had the second nut straight! Yes, there was a flush on board (the river made it) but I didn't feel it. The next hand, I get KK in the BB. It limps all around to me and I make a substantial raise, about 4X the BB. It folds to Adam who pushes all in on me and I call without hesitating, only to see him turn over AA. Mary apologizes to ADAM(!!!) because she doesn't think the Aces stand a chance, but that only works on other people. I'm no King magnet. So I lost on Kings, what else is new?

But there was plenty of other action too. The jockeying was intense because big wins in these tournaments meant some of the aformentioned players might have a chance of being crowned Season 4 champion. It was in this environment that Scott seemed to be steaming after pushing all in with A7 preflop after having lost half his stack on the previous hand. Mary hesitated in the big blind. She pondered and squirmed and she had a look of pain on her face. The look said, "I know I'm ahead if I call but I also know I'm going to lose anyway". She finally had to call when a bit of logic creeped back into her brain. She showed QQ and the table was stunned into silence that she really had thought about it for so long. But poker lost when an Ace flopped and Mary didn't improve. She got up to leave, knowing her season wasn't going to end in victory but she had one more blind left. No comeback story here though.

Meanwhile, Brian was calmly padding his stack and when the dust settled after the night was over, Brian had placed 2nd and 3rd in the two tourneys, vaulting himself juuuust over Stephen P. as the Season 4 leader. Mary had placed 3rd and 5th, which wasn't quite enough to do the trick and put her in contention. Brian had no intention of playing the next day, so his very very slim lead over Stephen looked to be good as Stephen wasn't scheduled to play either. But something funny happened...

We had a bunch of dropouts for today's tourneys including, might I add, an incredibly weak excuse from The Slayer who complained that traffic was bad around the U.N. so he wouldn't be able to get to me. Mind you, this was 10 minutes before we were scheduled to start the tourney. I reminded him of this marvelous invention that was guaranteed to get around traffic; The Subway. But he would have none of it, making further excuses that he was tired. What could I do? Anywho, since there were now open seats, Stephen P. secured himself a position. Jordan, who was also in contention, made an appearance as well. Jordan won the first tournament, giving him an actual chance of winning the season. Stephen P. didn't show up until the second tourney, setting up a tense showdown. Incidentally, I placed second in the first tourney on the strength of poorly played pocket Aces on my part that got saved. I was in the small blind and I only completed the bet against Abbie and the flop came a bunch of rags. I checked my strong pair and Abbie checked behind. The turn came a 7 and I bet out because of a flushing board. Abbie immediately re-raised me a significant amount. Every fiber of my being told me to fold. That I was behind to two pair, but the devil started whispering in my ear. "You can afford to call". "You can still catch up". I went into the tank but finally called. An Ace spiked on the river and I put Abbie all in for about 1/5 of the pot. She called with middle two pair (what else with the BB?) and my set of Aces was good. I played that like shiite.

So, after the first tourney was done, very early as it turns out, there was some mad calculations done to see who needed to place where to win. Jordan, it seems, needed another 1st place win to have any chance of winning the season. Stephen, to pull ahead of Brian and even a Jordan 1st place win, only needed to place 4th or above on a full table, which we had with a few last minute additions. Jordan sweetened the pot by placing a $10 side bounty on Stephen! About two hands in, I got 99 and flopped a 9. I bet out a moderate amount and got CK to call me. The turn was a Kc that made both a flush AND a straight draw. Oh, crap. Luckily, when I checked, CK checked too. I was certain that she was trapping with a draw she had just made. An easy read considering the Kc made every possible draw! But the case 9 fell on the river. I bet out a smallish amount and CK went over the top all in. "Uh, I call. Dems be Quads, bitches!" Carol was flabbergasted. She had the nut flush but was down to her last 50 chips. She promptly went all-in 4X in a row and doubled or tripled through every one! Sitting on a half-size stack now, she started playing again but finally got felted on a forgotten hand.

In the meantime, Jordan and Stephen weren't playing anything. Jordan started loosening up when his chipstack started to dwindle but Stephen was a rock, making just enough to keep himself afloat. I went through a long stretch of absolutely no cards at all (Quad 9's suck your karma). Jordan ended up busting out in 7th, promptly ending the bounty on Stephen! :-) I ended up bubbling after racing and losing 33 with a stack getting shorter and shorter. Stephen, in the meantime, not only hung in there with guts and determination, he won the tourney!!! Therefore, Stephen P. is crowned the new Wall Street Poker Season 4 champion!!! Congrats! It couldn't happen to a nicer guy and a fiercer competitor. Plus, he's getting married this weekend and he needs all the money he can get. As was said to him around the table, "This is tha last money you'll be making that will actually be yours!".

A cash game broke out afterwards with CK, Darko, Wendy, myself, Paulie, David R and Abbie. I got a monster hand that I'll be pleased with for a long time. I'm UTG with JsTs and I decide to play like Wendy. Raise the suited connectors and hope you hit. We're playing 1/1 NL so I decide to make it $5 to juice the pot. I get two one and the flop comes...are you ready for it? How about QsKsAs!!! That's right, yours truly, after years of live play, finally flopped his first mythical Royal Flush, and a Spade Royal no less. Nothing to do here except hope they catch up, right? I check and CK, also in the hand, checks. The turn is an Ad. I check, hoping CK has an Ace, or perhaps a boat. She checks. Oh darnit all. The river is a rag, but I can't check again, right? I bet out $10. CK squeezes out 10 and nearly falls out of her seat in shock to see how beaten she is. Incidentally, she DID have a middle Ace and I have to give her huge props on not betting that puppy when it hit on the turn. In this particular case, my having represented and Ace or a high pair by raising pre-flop actually worked against me. Still, even though I didn't get paid, there is hardly a better feeling in the world than flopping the best possible hand in poker!

The rest of the game was fun and tense, with many fine players trading barbs and jabs. Wendy, in her aggressive fashion, started carving out a nice stack for herself. I held myself above water until about 30 minutes before we were going to leave. I ended up felting David R. on a puzzling hand that I'm going to chalk up to his being tired. I had 88 and I limped UTG. No one raised (or maybe there was a small raise) and the flop was 8d9d3c. I bet about $9 on my second nut set and David raises 15 on top. It folds to me and I do a little Hollywood. I really am trying to figure out what he has. Does he have the set of 9's I fear, or does he have the flush draw. Or does he have an overpair? Any of those make sense, or the smaller set, but I've obviously not worried about that. Finally, after deciding he had the flush draw, I ask him if he'll run business if I push. "I'll have to see what you have" is the answer. I decide then and there to make a conscious effort to get all his chips in so I raise $30 on top. This, I hope, will make it look like I'm trying to represent a big hand. Sure enough, he pushes all in on top of that for $50 more. I call and show my set. He has...Q90?!? Huh? He had runner-runner possibilites but they were uber-remote. Still, I'm a nice guy and I offered to run it 3X for him, which he promptly agreed to. But none of them came and David more than doubled me up. Sorry Dave. Hope you at least got good sleep tonight!

It's been a fun season and next season promises to be even better. We're going to a longer 6 month format and, as a result of the extra length, we'll be able to offer more cash games (NL and mixed Limit) as well as more nights of one tourny and cash and even some long format tourneys. Also, the long awaited HORSE tourney will make it's appearance sometime before the end of the year. Perhaps that will be my sendoff to Vegas?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Booked for Vegas!

It's going to be the bestest Christmas ever!

My spectacular Vegas trip is booked (at least the airfare and the car rental) for Dec. 21st through January 1st. New Year's in Vegas promises to be da bomb!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Rocks on the brain...and in my head

I got an email from Viv a couple of days ago that started out innocently enough. "Who wants to do something other than poker?" Sounds interesting. She forwarded a link to a local organization that gets outdoor activities together for small groups of people. The event she was interested in was called "Giant Steps on the Palisades - Day Hike and Intro to Rock Scrambling". Well, that sounds like something I can do! Notice the word 'Intro', by the way. It will come into play in this conversation later.

Well, since I have been telling myself all summer that I should do more poker-related activities, I said I would go. Darko joined up as well and we got the itinerary from Viv. The first thing that caught my attention was the time the bus left to go to Pallisades Park (just north of the G.W. Bridge); 9:45 AM. Now, the day before is Yom Kippur and I knew I would be fasting that day and spending most of my day in temple. In addition, I would be gorging myself afterwards by breaking my fast at my cousin's place in Merrick. After all that, would I really want to wake up at 8:30 in the morning and go hiking? Well, my guilt over not having done enough outdoor activities took over and I said yes.

8:30AM came today and I hit the snooze on my alarm. A thought occurred to me: "The tickets are only $45 for this soujourn. I could go back to sleep now and only be out $45". I wrestled myself out of bed, semi-disgusted by my own thoughts. I showered and went about the task of dressing myself. Now, I didn't know how hot it would be and I didn't know what kind of terrain i was in for, so choosing clothes was not a small thing. If I wear shorts but we do a lot of rough trailblazing, I would be infested with bugs and bitten up something fierce. But if I wore pants and we were in the sunshine the whole time, I would cook. I opted to wear long shorts and a white T-shirt. Footwear was another sticky issue. I have hiking boots, but they're heavy. Depending on what kind of terrain we were going to be going over, they could be valuable or a huge hinderance. I opted for my old running shoes instead.

Once I was up and out of the building, I noticed how magnificent the weather was. Cool and sunny, it would remain that way for the rest of the day. We got very lucky on that account. I stopped off at a bagel shop for a little light breakfast of an egg on a roll and a few bottles of water. I met up with Darko and Viv and was relieved to see that everyone else in the group (there was a full rented van for transportation) was dressed similar to me. Whew! The trip up to Pallisades Park was uneventful but full of excitement as we got worked up for the experience.

We disembarked at about 10:45 and stretched. We were at the top of the Pallisades cliffs (near Englewood Cliffs I would imagine) and the view was majestic across the Hudson. Darko couldn't quite get his camera working but finally changed the batteries and set the date and time and was soon taking pics. Finally, the group got going. There were about 20 of us, another van having met us at the site. We walked for 5 minutes along the cliff top and turned right onto a trail. The terrain was basically flat with a slight decline and the canopy of trees was providing great shade. I was thinking this would be a great day. But then the trail started getting rockier. And rockier. And steeper. We soon found ourselves on stone stairs cut into the cliff face going down to the river. As we descended, the flat and smooth trail gave way to rough stones and a very uneven walking surface. It was getting more and more difficult to walk and I started to notice that my sneakers, with their completely work down tread were having trouble gripping the rock surface. I counted at least 6 times that I nearly slipped and fell. That would have been bad. Very bad. Mostly because most of the trail didn't have guard rails of any sort. One bad slip and you were over the edge of a 200 foot drop. I was starting to think this was a bad idea. At least the rocks weren't wet though, which might be the only reason I'm alive today.

Meanwhile, most of the group, experienced hikers, were practically skipping through the rocks. There were some real beginners, at the back of the pack with me, and we were taking our sweet time about it. After about 45 minutes of this, we arrived at the river and found ourselves at the base of a pile of boulders. The boulders were obviously the product of some long-forgotten rockslide and encompassed about 2 acres, rising about 150 feet from the river to the top. Yes, we were supposed to climb these! It was actually easier than I had thought. The rocks were very craggy with plenty of places to grab on to. Not at all like the movies where there's a sheer cliff. Instead, try to imagine a bowl of ice cubes, tilted on ege. "3 points of contact!," yelled Igor, our group leader. We scrambled up the side of this rock wall and by the time I got to the top, I was feeling very winded. I sat to catch my breath, but there was no time as the group started moving horizontally across the rocks at the top. I assumed that there was a trail at the Top Left of the wall, but when we got to the corner, the group started climbing DOWN the other side!! Are you kidding me? We're going up AND down? Oy Vey. Down, as it turns out, is harder than up, mostly because you can't see what the next step is. There's a lot of putting your ass on the rock (hey, 2 points of contact right there!) and stepping carefully onto another boulder. It took me 10 minutes to climb up and 20 minutes to clambor down. When we finally got to the bottom, we immediately took off down another path, which was strewn with similar boulders to what we had just climbed. We went probably around 500 yards on this path, but it felt like 10 miles because every single step had to be negotiated with care. My legs were starting to feel the burn and my gait was getting shakier. I asked how much longer the hike was going to go and got a laugh. "We're not even half way through". Uh oh.

There was another rock wall in our future before we finally broke for lunch. The half way point. We found some flat areas in the shade at the top of the wall, but I wasn't hungry. More to the point, I was afraid that eating would be the *last* thing I would want to do. I did, however, suck down water like a camel at the beginning of a trek through the Sinai. Lunch was about 20 minutes, and I got some energy back, but that doesn't change the fact that I didn't want to do another rock wall. So i was relieve that when we got to the third and last one, there was a trail to go around it. Darko, Viv and I all took the trail, which was hard enough by the way. We got to the end of the trail and it was time for the climb up to the top of the cliff again. A man and his wife got to the bottom of this trail and informed us that there were about 340 steps for us to climb. I was starting to feel sick. Igor gave directions to a group of two that were planning on going ahead of us. The directions involved going up, finding a fork where you go under a tree and then turning right. I listened carefully, which bore fruit a little later.

As the group started to climb, I immediately started to feel that I wasn't going to be able to keep pace. Sure enough, after about 5 minutes of steps going straight up (rock steps by the way, not proper steps), I needed to rest. I had fallen to the back of the group and every 20 steps or so, the lactic acid in my legs would force me to stop and rest. Before I knew it, the last person in the group was out of sight and I was all alone. I had ascended about 300 feet when I encountered a couple descending the mountain. "How much longer," I asked. "Oh, a long way," came the answer. It should be noted, by the way, that many times along these treacherous paths, i came across couples in their late 60's or older, sometimes with small children and dogs, LAPPING me like I was standing still. Clearly, city life has taken it's toll.

Anyway, I finally got to the point where I had to go under the tree and I took the right turn like Igor had advised. This led to more rock stairs and more wheezing and panting from yours truly. But after falling behind the group by at least 20 minutes, I got to the top of the trail and it felt unbelievable. BUT, there was a road in front of me and I had no idea where to go from here. Igor appeared like an angel from heaven behind me at that precise moment and led me to the car. He had gone back to find some of the others and managed to come up behind me on the trail. Seriously, that guy was a mountain goat. It was another 10 minute walk down the road and there it was. The van. I've never been so happy to see a vehicle in my life.

Viv and John, though, were nowhere to be found. It turns out that their little group hadn't heard Igor and when they got to the tree, they never made the right turn. So they showed up 15 minutes after I did even though I was 20 minutes behind. I was pleasantly eating my lunch in the shade when they arrived.

The drive back was about 10% of the energy level as the drive there. Viv fell asleep and I had a nice conversation with Lori, a 47 year old woman who was in better shape than nearly anyone I've ever seen. We sat in the back together, reading our Sunday Times and commenting on the articles to each other.

Viv asked if I would ever do this again. I'm torn really. It was an insane workout and my body feels But it was way more intense than I had anticipated. I would hate to see what a complete beginner, in worse shape than me (if that's possible) would have done with this. As much as I want to get out of the city on nice Sundays, maybe just a nice walk along a leafy shady trail would be better next time.

One last thing: I have two words for any woman who wants to go rock climbing in any lycra/spandex pants: Camel Toe.

'Nuff Said. Peace out.

Friday, September 21, 2007

H.O.S.E. on Wall Street

Last night was the H.O.S.E game at Wall Street. $2/$4 limit all night and rotation amongst the four games. I had been convinced by Jesse to rotate the games after two rotations of the button, but the presence of a few players new to the games convinced me to set a 45 minute time limit on each game.

I was able to eke out the big profit at the table ($92.50) which just beat Carol for the big money win. True, she had given Paulie $.50 to cover an all-in bet a few minutes before, but I go by the numbers baby! :-)

I'm starting to get convinced that I'm playing more and more limit when I can because I'm somehow losing the stomach for no-limit. I don't know why that is though. Yes, I took a big loss at the SOHO room a few weeks back ($300) but that's laughably small in comparison to the losses my compatriots have taken in the past. I don't know what it is, but it feels like when you have writer's block. I think some more time will get me past this road.

One other thing. I'm not happy with the turnout at the cash game. After having 10 or 11 signed up, we only ended up with 8 after a bunch of last minute dropouts. And 2 of those were unexpected arrivals who hadn't even signed up at all! Thanks to Jordan for risking marital failure to come by and boost attendance.

Oh, I just remembered something else I wanted to blog. I had a question for the table regarding Carol's ROI question on her blog. My question was, how do you define ROI at a Limit table? After all, your buyin is kind of irrelevant after a certain point. So, for example, if you make $200 profit off a $300 buyin at a 5/10 game but someone else makes the same $200 profit off of a $250 buyin; is the second person really a better player? In limit, after all, the amount of money you have on the table past about 10 BB bets is irrelevant. Alceste's solution was to count your profit as a ratio of the number of BB's you win. This seemed to be a sensible solution to the issue. But it begs another question, how do you reconcile that with your No-Limit play, which isn't counted in those factors?

Also, thanks to Jordan for a mention of the this game and the one the night before.

Side bet action

I have a few side bets going right now. I've got $20 with "No-River" Brown that says the Yankees will win the division. I've also got a dinner at Le Bernardin with my brother that says that either Hillary or Obama get elected President. "No-River" actually had the nerve to ask for 2-1 odds on the Yankee bet!

I know that F-Train is having a running bet on a 17 pound weight gain. Anyone else got interesting side bets out there?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Extra big blind club?

Are they still around? Someone called me today asking if I knew if they were still open. Anyone?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Another word about tipping

LJ and I share a common dislike, namely the proliferation of industries which now feel it necessary to beg for tips from patrons. The practice is growing more widespread and I find it particularly insulting both to customers and employees alike, both of whom have to live with an undue societal pressure to conform to this inanity. This is my screed to the world about it.

I’m no historian, but as I understand it, tipping started in this country, as a practice, in food service industries. I will do some research into why this was, but I will hazard a guess and say it was due to successful lobbying from the restaurant industries as a means to subsidize what is a labor intensive manual process. As cities increased in size in the late 1800’s and rural dwellers fled to the cities, eating out became more and more of a necessity to sustaining city life. As a result, the number of restaurants, and the service industry supporting them, grew exponentially. Couple that with the passage of the minimum wage act (the ‘30s?) and you have a bit of an issue for the average restaurant owner. Food service and preparation, by it’s nature, is a low margin business. How then, do you maintain a decent profit while simultaneously employing a large number of people in a field expanding with competition. The answer, of course, is to encourage tipping as a practice and then get an exemption to the minimum wage act to allow paying these food service employees a lower wage.

*Note: This is all complete speculation on my part. I’m on a plane right now and have no access to materials to research. The reason I’m writing this will be made clearer later*

In my opinion, and in many other people’s, I find it abhorrent that the wage of a restaurant worker, to use this example, should be even semi-dependent on tips. It is nothing more than a hidden tax on patrons who end up subsidizing the income of the employee. To those who use the argument that tips allow patrons to effectively ‘grade’ employees or businesses, I say the act of eating at an establishment serves this purpose more effectively. If I receive poor service at a particular establishment, I can choose to not patronize that establishment again. This loss of revenue should, if used en masse, translate to the restaurant either increasing their service to attract business or closing down. Punishing the employee responsible is only effective if the employee themselves is responsible for the poor service. But what about all those times we have poor food, poor lighting, dirty forks, rude matre’d’s? Should my service person be punitively damaged for circumstances beyond their control?

I would much rather be charged a market rate for the food I am served with the proper living wage of the employee built into the price. I’m paying it anyway, if I’m tipping appropriately. It’s time for our country to end this ridiculous practice. Europeans get along fine with this system. Tipping is only 5-10% in most European countries, and even then only for extraordinary service. Of course, European waitstaff are not dumb, and they know that Americans are used to tipping 15-20%. How fortunate for them. But they get paid a living wage to begin with. In our own country, it is not uncommon for finer restaurants to also pay their wait staff a real living wage. Peter Luger’s has waiters on staff who have been there for 25 years or more and put multiple children through college.

So yes, I disagree with the principle of tipping. But I do it anyway because that is the current custom and it would be unconscionable to deprive hard working waiters and waitresses of the ability to pay their rent and/or food bills. What I am even more concerned with in this country is how the practice of tipping is spreading like a cancer to other service industries.

Taxi cabs, for example, have long been used to the practice of tipping. Even though it is completely voluntary under New York City rules (and even printed in each cab), it is ‘expected’ to tip a taxi driver. Oh, but these drivers are badly paid as a result of their renting out the cabs from medallion owners and forced into a revenue sharing scheme. So we overlook it and subsidize their income. People from other cities marvel to me how cheap New York City cab fares are and yet this hidden cost is borne with nary a complaint.

So what about other service industries then? Well, about 10 years ago, we started to see tip jars appear on the countertops of take-out food establishments. From Chinese to burgers to Taco Bell, it is now standard to see a tip jar for jobs that normally worked only for wages. In fact, these jobs, unlike wait staff, are already paid minimum wage or more! Why are we tipping them? Because the jar is out there, true, and we don’t want to feel cheap. But instead of pressuring our government to raise the minimum wage standards, we swallow the cost and move on. Workers are going to get there needed money one way or another. Either people are going to tip them to supplement the anemic minimum wage, or restaurant owners are going to raise food prices and raise wages as a result. I would much prefer that these workers receive decent worker’s benefits than have their income be decided by the ‘generosity’ of their patrons.

But not just food service industries have been affected by this scourge. Haircuts, home improvements, the cable guy, movers, the list seems endless. All of these industries which, up to a decade ago, worked for nothing but their bill at the end, have all started ‘gratefully’ accepting gratuities for their work. I certainly don’t blame the workers for asking for it. I blame the business owners with using their worker’s wages as a way of increasing their own bottom line. If the wages are being paid anyway, raise the cost of labor and demand that customers don’t tip. What I think you’ll find is that by paying higher wages, you’ll be able to attract better and more skilled workers and defray that cost by the increased quality of your business offerings. Customers will gladly accept a 10% hike in prices if it means they don’t need to pay a 10% tip at the end of a job. It all evens out in the end.
A personal note: What got me started on this rant was my flight from Dallas, TX to New York, NY that I am on right now. It is an American Airlines flight, for the record. When the snack service was started and the announcement was made that it was starting, an addendum was made that, “tips are always appreciated.” I was appalled.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Cup for Education

I have a new link on my site under Misc. Links. It's my sister-in-law's charity. She raises money to build schools for underprivileged kids who live on coffee plantations. It's a damn good cause so give something!!

A note to Wall Street Poker Leaguers

This blog is a personal blog with some tangential information about the league. BUT, there aren't any official announcements posted here. So, please remember to keep checking in at to see any news and stats we have posted there.

Just a hint: There *might* be a new and important announcement there right now.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Austin, Tx - Days 3 and 4

Ah, another lazy morning. We went out last night again to 6th street. I'm not impressed. It's populated mainly by U of T students, which is fun to look at, but let's face facts. I'm 35. There, I said it. I must look creepily old to these kids. These hot kids, with their taut tan bodies and perfectly firm breasts...Oh, sorry. I went off on a tangent there.After getting back to the hotel and getting up at 10:30, I showered and met some of the guys downstairs by the pool. They were clearly working off hangovers. "Anyone want to poke around town?," I asked. I received stares like I had just sprouted a second head. Ok, going solo.I haven't used my rental car even once since I arrived, so I put it to good use investigating some of the shopping districts of Austin. The guide book directed me to "The Drag", which is adjacent to the UT campus. Like you'd expect, it was mostly geared towards college kids, with a few bars and one very excellent bookstore where I picked up a needed Ethernet cable (Yes, I'm a dork).The next area I had time for was South Congress Avenue. That was much better. There were a bunch of really funky antique shops with lots of Southwestern kitsch, some decent art galleries and the greatest boot store I've ever seen, Allen's Boots. Try to imagine you local big NIKE store, but now imagine absolutely nothing but cowboy boots. The smell of leather was overpowering when you walked in. I only had a few minutes to browse around before I had to go back and meet the guys for the bus to The Salt Lick for lunch. Too bad too, because I would really have liked to buy a nice pair of authentic Texas cowboy boots. I saw this insane pair of black and red colored boots that were detailed with skulls and flames and such. Really really bad-ass. Price…$1750. Uh, maybe I’ll wait on those boots.

I started driving back to the hotel to meet up with the guys in the lobby. David had rented a bus for the 20 minute drive out to The Salt Lick, which is in Driftwood about 18 miles SouthWest of Austin. Instead of joining the guys though, I decided to make more use of my car by driving over myself. It was actually nice to drive on the rural roads of Texas, past dozens of huge ranches, with horses and cattle and the local Texas vegetation as far as the eye could see. Plus, it gave me a chance to use the Garmin GPS unit I had rented. Bad thing about the Garmin. When I entered ‘The Salt Lick’, it could find any entries! It turns out there’s about a 15 mile radius that you can do searches for. Luckily, I brought my Austin guide book along and was able to track down an address from that. From the address, I got the name of the town and was able to find it that way. I knew those boy scout days would come in handy. J

The Salt Lick is a famous local BBQ joint that is located on an actual working ranch. The entrance to the ranch are large iron gates with the name of the place worked into the gate and a large old sign hanging from a tree. Like the other BBQ we ate at, The IronWorks, this place is pretty no-nonsense. You walk in to the restaurant area past an open smoke pit used to smoke the meat. The pit is circular, about 10 feet in diameter, and dozens of racks of ribs, sausages and briskets were all hanging over it, tantalizingly dripping juices and fat into the smoke pit below. About a dozen very busy looking employees were working diligently around the pit, making sure everything was perfect. Because of my problems with the GPS system, I arrived about 10 minutes after the guys, so when they sat down, they had already ordered. Not that I think there’s a menu, per se. We were all seated, 18 of us, at a long wooden table, Viking style, and the waiter brought us plate after plate heaped high with sausages, brisket and pork ribs. Along with pinto beans, cole slaw, white bread and beer and soda, it was quite a spread. The guys ripped into the food like they were just brought off of Gilligan’s Island. And the voting was unanimous; The brisket was THE. BEST. EVER. I don’t quite know what they do to BBQ in Texas but it is SOOO much better than anything I’ve ever had in NY. The guys polished off about 6 plates of meat and the mood around the table, festive to begin with, started to take on a decidedly sluggish tone. A couple of guys went out to smoke and the rest of us sat there looking like we’d been beaten with rubber hoses. And it didn’t end there. We had multiple orders of Pecan Pie, Blackberry cobbler and Peach cobbler. And it was all outstanding. When the guys piled back into their bus, they looked like fattened cows being led to the slaughterhouse. I followed behind them in my car, and looking through the window on the freeway home, I’d say half of them fell dead asleep. An amazing meal.

The only other thing we had planned that night was to go out to The Yellow Rose, a local strip club a few minutes outside of town. But that wasn’t until about 9:00 or so. In the meantime, some of the more adventurous folks went out to the ACL fairgrounds to check out the shows. I looked at the schedule, and while I had wanted to see MUSE and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, a vicious food come overtook me. I laid down for ‘a few minutes’ on my comfy king bed, and before I knew it it was 7:30. I showered up and met the guys in Lee’s room to do some pre-drinking while waiting for the luxury van to come pick us up to take us to the club. The boys have a ritual of what they call ‘Anchormanning’, which evidently involves opening a bottle of hard liquor (Wild Turkey in this case) and passing it around to each member of the group. The object is to leave a few gulps for the guest of honor who will then finish the bottle. Amazingly, the group was able to just about kick the bottle before giving it to Lee who downed it in one long gulp. Then he threw up. And someone else too. All in good fun, right? ;-)

Now properly drunk, we piled into the van. Well, not all of us. Some members of the group had announced that strip clubs “weren’t their thing”. I didn’t comprehend (still don’t) but no one was judgmental about it. We just said, “more room for us”, and went on our way. The van ride was fun, with one guy (Glaser?) yelling out to another, “STOP SENDING EMAILS OF YOUR KID. AND A VIDEO? SIX-FUCKING-MINUTES?!?!” The guys were in hysterics. We got out of the van and piled into the place. It was small by NY standards (about ¼ the size of Scores East) but it was populated by an…interesting mix of girls. There were a lot of obvious U.T. students and a few Eastern Europeans and also a few desperate looking locals earning a buck for their kid(s) at home. Before David gets his titties in a twist, Yes. For the record I did get 3 lap dances in a row and spend a good 35 minutes with a rather thick looking girl with a sad story. What can I say? She was a naughty naughty girl. I look at it as a purely statistical story. If I pick the hot hottie, I have a .001% chance of getting laid. But if I pick the cottage-cheese thighs, professional whore, I stand a .005% chance of getting my jimmy whacked. Statistically, I had to do it. :-p

Oh, and there was poker. On the way into the club, David nudged me and pointed to the left. There was a poker table set up and people were playing! One table and only 4-5 players. But before we get too excited, it was purely play money. Rather stupid actually. For any amount ranging from $20 to $500 or more, you get a set of play chips. These chips cannot be redeemed for anything! At all! Meaning, if you win and leave, your chips stay on the table because they are worthless. So, in essence, you are giving money to the house for the privilege of playing against other people for nothing. The only thing that gets people to fold is that you have to pay to get chips, so if you bust out, it costs money to come back. Oh, and the dealer is playing too as another player. And since he doesn’t have to pay for chips, he routinely raises in order to get other players to keep ponying up chips. So did I join this insanity? Uh, are you kidding? I paid $50 and sat tight to watch this ridiculous, but funny, experience for about 30 minutes. Finally, I got KK and got outflopped when an Ace hit. Still, for the story alone, it was worth it. And there were breasts. Oh yes, there were breasts.

The group rounded up at 1AM, mysteriously missing one member, who was found in his hotel room later on that night (more to come on that). We asked the driver to drop us off in the Warehouse district and we spent the next hour at a bar in that area. The Warehouse area is populated by a somewhat more mature clientele, and the vibe was much more to my liking. Too bad I only got to stay an hour. At 2AM on the dot, the bar closed down, shooed everyone to the curb and we were on our own. Luckily, some of the other group members had glommed onto two separate groups of girls and convinced them to come back to our hotel room with us. So imagine the scene of 5 girls and a dozen guys, drunkenly stumbling back to the Radisson, intent on drinking more when they got there. Which is exactly what happened. As soon as we were in the door, the music was on, the girls were dancing and drinks were served. After about 15 minutes of general silliness, though, three of the girls decided they had had enough and left quickly. Maybe it had something to do with convincing them that they should jump on Paco who was sleeping soundly in the bed in the next room. When he groggily got up, so the story goes, he somehow thought they were strippers and did something unmentionable with their breasts. So they left with their tails between their legs. The remaining two girls were sports, though. They put up with everything and even stuck around when spirits starting running high and the room started to suffer. Let’s see:
The bed was destroyed. It was one of those sleep number beds that have an aero mattress in it and, as Lee put it, “There’s no more ‘Aero’ in it!” The right side of the bed concaved about two feet after they finished throwing it around.
The glass lamp on the table was destroyed when the mattress knocked it over in a crash of glass.
A few of the guys decided that the carpet on the floor existed to soak up the remaining liquid in whatever half-empty beer cans were lying around. So they turned them all over, at once.
A picture, worth $1750 retail according to the Raddison website, was nearly destroyed.
A full size CVS shopping cart was filled with trash and placed on the bed as Paco slept.

Yes, I was a rockstar at last, having, at lease tacitly, participated in the trashing of a hotel room. Now sober, the group awaits the updated bill with baited breath….

I woke up in the morning and a few of the guys trudged down, red eyed and weary. Instead of our usual pick-me-up breakfast, a brilliant decision was made to end the weekend gracefully. So we walked a half block over to the next hotel, The Four Seasons, to have their brunch. It was idyllic. Wicker furniture and an umbrella, overlooking the river, with perfect food and service. Oh, and waffles dipped in Banana crème brulee (The Lee Stern special). I am now in the Continental President’s club awaiting my flight home (you’re a legend Lee!).

Two more things I want to see. David did a ridiculous job getting this many guys down to Austin to have the time of our lives. Second, the guys, to a man, were a class act. Seriously. Readers of this blog might remember when I went to Vegas for a bachelor party of a Friend of a Friend in November and it was awful because it was a smaller group of guys and more than a third of them were world class assholes. These guys, even though most didn’t know me at all, treated me and everyone else, with respect and courtesy and a hell of a lot of class. And it made my weekend. Brotherhood does indeed have it’s privileges.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Pics from ACL and Austin

My Flickr pics of Austin are here. They'll be updated as the trip wears on up to Sunday, though my final postings might not be until Wed.

Austin, Tx - Day 2

I got up this morning at about 10:30 and only because my roomate Josh woke me up by slamming the bathroom door. But that's the way it is. So I groggily got out of bed, showered, and joined the crew downstairs. We were going to head over as a group to breakfast but half the crowd didn't feel quite up to it yet. They stayed behind by the pool and I joined the more adventurous half. After walking up to CVS to pick up sunscreen, we stopped at a local sandwich shop to eat a quick breakfast of subs and soda (breakfast of champions). The subs were delicious and served faster than even Subway can. The bread was great and it was a damn good sandwich. Not quite worthy of the praise heaped on it by some of the crew, but I wasn't quibbling.

We walked to 4th and Guadalupe where there were shuttle busses to take us to the fairgounds. Even though the park is pretty close to the hotel on the map, it still took 15 minutes before we were dropped off. And then it was another 10 minutes to walk to the entrance.

I handed by ticket to the gatekeeper and he scanned it, attached a bracelet to my wrist and threw my ticket away. Uh, it's a 3 day pass I said. He said the bracelet serves the same function. So now I have to keep this thing on me for 3 days, shower and everything. It seems pretty tough though, because I've sweated at least 10 pounds already and it hasn't budged.

We wandered around for a bit, getting the lay of the land and went stage hopping. So far, the best acts I've seen are Del McCoury, a bluegrass group, Peter, Bjorn and John and some nameless funk and soul bands in the WaMu tent. Joss Stone, Crowded House and Bela Fleck all sucked. Oh well. The entire group met up later and we camped out in front of the stage that is showing Queens of the Stone Age followed by The Killers.

Queens of the Stone Age are pretty decent. Not my thing, exactly but it's a decent hard groove. Ok, so I took a 15 minute nap in the middle of the set? Can you blame me? It's been wicked hot all day and the sun had just started to set behind the trees. After 7+ hours here, the weather was finally getting comfortable.

In the middle of the Queens set, I decided to pre-empt the crowds and go to the porta potties, after which I'd get dinner at the food court and get back to the group in time for The Killers. Uh, that's what about half a jillion other people did too! I waited on a line 30 people deep for the privelege of peeing in a porta pottie that looked like the streets of Calcutta, the really por section, in monsoon season. The looks on the faces of the women leaving the shitters were priceless. After 20 minutes of waiting and 30 seconds of peeing, I waited on a line another 30 people deep for a serviceable chicken wrap and some excellent spinach humus. It too me about 20 minutes to make my way back to the group. Like the red sea closing on the Egyptians, the crowd had thickened and cut off all walking routes to the middle of the crowd where they were. So after an infinite series of stepping over people's chairs, legs and blankets, I finally got back.

It was worth it. The Killers were outstanding. Even if they had a short self-indulgent film before their performance. They made up for it with a (pardon the pun) 'killer' set.

The festival, might I add again, is insanely well run. There was a long line of buses that was endlessly refreshed waiting to pick people up as they left the grounds. They even
put out a big fire that erupted at about 3PM, and quick-like. It turns out that either a truck, or a tank of propane, caught fire and ignited a row of porta-potties. The smoke was an enormous column but it was put out quickly and no one panicked. Just a fantastic showing.

Tomorrow, we're going out for lunch at a BBQ place called The Salt Lick which is out of town. But we should be back in time for Muse, Arcade Fire and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

Austin, Tx - Day 1

My first day in Austin was a little bit of a letdown. True, I started out the day by waking up at 5 am in order to catch the cab to LGA at 5:30, but that's irrelevant! ;-). The flight was remarkably smooth and event free. I got into Dallas on time, caught my connection to Austin and was at the hotel by 12:30 local time. I had been able to catch some Z's on the plane so I didn't feel I had to nap when I got there. So I unpacked and went out on the town to check things out.

The downtown of Austin is only about a mile square so it's big but walkable. The hotel is perfectly situated on the Colorado river on the south end of downtown. The first thing I wanted to see was the famous 6th street of Austin. 6th street is kind of like the Texas answer to Bourbon street in New Orleans. It's about half a mile long and populated with nothing but very cool bars and tshirt shops. Oh, and a Segway rental shop at the very end. But I was there at about 1PM and the whole town was...dead. Empty. Nobody around. So I wandered aimlessly, feeling like a reject from a zombie movie. I had a crappy slice of pizza. Some advice for pizza parlors: don't call it 'New York Style', people will just be disappointed. Then I walked up Congress Avenue to the magnificent Texas State Capitol building. The place is a pleasure to visit, and Emily the tour guide gave a wonderful presentation.

The Texas heat was getting to me, so I walked back to the hotel to nap. I was woken up at 6:30 by a phone call. Some of the guys, including Lee, the reason we were all there (it's his bachelor party), had arrived. After a quick cleanup, we all walked to the Iron Works BBQ grill. It was a no nonsense kind of place. You walk up to the counter to order and they give you a tray with your order on it. Then you seat yourself and eat. But, no joke, it was the best BBQ beef ribs I've ever had. It might have been the best $12 meal in recorded history. I made sure not to eat too much because I knew we'd be out drinking later. It was 8:15 and I wanted to go back to the hotel to see the famous Austin Bats take off from their nesting place, about 500 yards from our hotel. But I was outvoted and we went out drinking instead. We invaded 6th street en masse, but it was pretty early and the bars were just opening up. Still, we got round after round of Lone Star beer ($2 for a 16 oz. can!) and the crowd eventually came. So we went bar hopping and eventually ended up at this great outdoor place a few blocks north. EVERY bar we went to had live music bands. This place is crawling with live music of every type. We heard jazz, country, bluegrass, punk and straight ahead rock. We also spent some time at a place with a talented band who sounded jkust like The Killers. Could be worse. One down side, the bars all close at 2 AM. But that just means that the girls are drunk by 1 instead of 3.

A joke I heard last night (slightly redacted for decency, but you get the idea):

"True story: So I'm doing this girl from behind, and she's digging it. So I decide I'm gonna slip it in her ***. She turns her head and says, 'Isn't that a bit presumptuous?'. And I say, 'Presumptuous? Isn't that a big word for a 12 year old?"

Yeah, it's been a boys weekend all right.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Live from ACL!

Ok, I'm going to blog about my flight in yesterday and my trips around Austin before the Austin City Limits festival started today, but I've been noting that on my Blackberry and it will be uploaded tonight. But for now, I'm in the middle of the ACL fairgrounds and doing some live blogging for y'all!!

AT&T has kindly set up a tent they call 'The Digital Oasis', and it is. It's air-conditioned ('nuff said) and the temperature is a steady and sweaty 93 with no breeze in sight. But the music is kick ass and the scene is fantastic. There's about 50,000 very cool people wandering from stage to stage. The festival is incredibly well organized, with directions and fans spraying water just about everywhere you look. Also, they're giving out tons of freebies and the music is all starting on time. And it sounds great. I've listened to some bluegrass, funk, blues and rock all in the space of 5 hours so far, and there's 2 days to go!

I'm loving this, even if my body is sweating a ton of water. But there's plenty of booths to buy water and iced tead and beer, if I wanted to (uh, not in this heat thanks). Joss Stone is just starting her set outside the Oasis area, so I gotta run. I'm loving Austin!

Johnny Appleseed comes to Warwick

Abbie, Andy and I went apple-picking on Sunday. Why? Because it’s the fall, and that’s what you do. Actually, it seemed like a nice activity to get me out of the city for a little while. A bit of back to nature, if you will.

Abbie had rented a car for the weekend and generously agreed to do the driving for Andy and I. The planning was somewhat haphazard. We sorta got up in the morning and said, “Ok, who knows an orchard?”. Well, Abbie had just been up to Wicker, NY and had passed an orchard called Masker, so we figured that that was just as good as any. So that’s where we went.

The drive wasn’t bad at all. 90 minutes or so with pleasant company is just fine by me. The orchard itself is beautiful. It’s on a hill and it’s set up in sections that are about 5 acres each. At the top of the hill is a beautiful view of farms across the road, which are on similar rolling hills. As we pulled into the Orchard, the traffic was being directed by a boy no older than 10. It was a little surreal, but we quickly found out that the entire farm had lots of children working there. Whether they were kids of other employees or it was something the community did was unclear. As we drove up the hill, we were stopped by a child who handed us a bag to put our apples in. The bag had a map on the back and each section was labeled clearly with the breed of apples in that section. There was a sign on the road telling us to tune to a certain FM channel to hear news about the orchard. When we did, we found out that the only apples that were ripe for picking were the McIntoshes. Uh, oh. Andy doesn’t like McIntoshes. But that’s all they had.

We parked at the top of the hill and started looking around. Some of the trees were marked as being unripe for picking, but some weren’t marked at all. And we didn’t really know what the apples were supposed to look like! So we frantically went from grove to grove, tasting apples as we picked them off the tree. Finally, after going back down to the information shack to get some decent advice on where to pick, we were led to the proper grove and the apple picking started in earnest. Of course, by this time, we were too tired and it was too hot for us to do too much picking. We were planning on making fresh apple pies later with the apples we picked so we knew we only needed about 30 or so. It only took us a few minutes, with Abbie adventurously climbing some of the trees to get the choicest fruit.

Once we had our fruit in hand, we filled up a bag and headed on home. We knew we were going to need some groceries, so we decided to head home the long way to stop at Stew Leonard’s and Costco in Yonkers. If you’ve never been to Stew’s, it’s sort of like Disneyland, with food. A lot of fun. We had freshly made apple doughnuts and a few other choice samples of food while we piled our cart full of wonderful foodstuffs. And then it was back in the car to go back home.

When we got back, we had to unload a whole bunch of stuff into Andy’s apartment. It took what seemed like hundreds of mini trips shuttling back and forth. From the car to the curb, from the curb to the front door, from the door to the elevator, from the elevator to the hallway, from the hallway to the apartment. I was exhausted by the time we finished! When Abbie came in after returning the rental car, we were all so tired we ended up taking a nap on the couch for half an hour. But after we got up, Andy put we to work peeling and chopping the apples. Abbie prepared the other pie ingredients and Andy played captain, making sure everything was perfect. After much chopping, peeling, mixing and stirring, the pie was ready to be put into the oven. Some of Andy’s friends dropped by and wine was served. While the smell of the pies drifted through the apartment, we had some nice conversations and wine and it was really quite…adult. Like something out of a movie. But really nice. However, when the pies were done, Andy insisted on serving it right away. Now, I know pies need to sit in order to set, but I wasn’t about to argue with the host. So we ended up having apple-flavored goop, which was delicious, even if it wasn’t exactly pie. And we *still* had 15 apples left over! J

It was a great way to spend a Sunday and I thank Abbie and Andy for being so good about it all. Next time, we’ll pick a better orchard with a better layout.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The new Soho room

Last night, I came home from work at about 5:30...and promptly fell asleep on the couch. What a great nap it was, too. Not one, not two, not even three hours. But 4 full hours later, I woke up to find the night mostly gone. I was going to complete the experience by going to sleep early, but I got an email from Darko that he, Wendy and Carol were all at the new Soho room, which I will call The Virginia room. Far be it from me to give up the opportunity to experience a new room, so I high-tailed over there.

There was a bit of confusion getting in. Darko had said to call him when I got there so he could come out and get me, so I did. But as i was waiting, another gentlemen, who looked vaguely familiar, possibly from the Good Look club, wandered up to the same address. At that exact moment, a guy opened the door, looked at the other guy and asked him in. Uh, oh. I think I've been overlooked. So I called up Darko again and sure enough, he had sent out the guy to pick up someone, "with glasses". Well, the other guy had glasses too. But the confusion was cleared up quickly.

I got into a small apartment with 3 tables awkwardly cramped into 3 different little rooms. The place had a very speakeasy feel to it, with the subterannean entrance and the guy at the door letting people in cautiously. But when I turned the corner and saw Carol's smiling face, all the anxiety melted away.

There were 9 or 10 players maximum throughout the whole night, just one table. But it was juicy. There were two guys in town from Colorado and they were playing the role of 'whale' for the night. Buy-in after buy-in came out of their pockets and it all went away. They bet strong on middle pairs with flushes and straight on board and it was beautiful. Or it was for someone else. I only doubled through them once, when I flopped top set. Then my money got frittered away on three big hands.

Hand 1: I have AQo. Flop comes Q42 with two hearts. I bet, I get raised and I look over at his stack. It's short, thankfully. I push and he calls. He's got Q4. Ok, it is what it is.

Hand 2: I have AhQh. Wendy leads out UTG+1 with a raise to $12. About 6 people call. Flop comes Q78. Wendy bets $30. I get one caller to my right. I consider raising, but I get suspicious. Right now, though, Wendy is representing a good Ace. I call instead of pushing. The turn comes a rag, maybe a 2. Wendy leads out $130. The first caller folds and it's to me. I agonize over it. Set? Two pair? The betting is still looking like a good Ace, so I make a call that's against my better instincts and we check down the river, which is harmless. She had 7s8s.

Hand 3: I have KQo and I limp from UTG+1 with a $6 straddle in effect. No one raises and the flop comes KJ8 with 2 clubs. Danger, Will Robinson. But I have to see where I'm at so I bet out $18, just enough to make someone lay down with nothing, I'm hoping. I get one caller, whom I put on a flush draw. The turn comes a 9 and I put out another $22. He raises up to $75 and I know he's got me. I lay down, but not before I'm able to talk him into showing me Jc9c.

So, I'm losing with good top pair hands. Meanwhile, some action fish in the middle of the table is getting paid off left and right with all sorts of trash. $125 pots won with King high are not uncommon. The sickest hand I saw was this:

I have AQo in middle position (*that* hand again). It gets raised to $15 and a few people call, including me. By the time it gets to the BB, who just sat down and is playing his very first hand, he raises to $75. Fishy guy in the middle calls. Carol, to my right, agonizes and folds 88. I also agonize and fold my hand. The flop comes down a sickening AQ5, rainbow. BB shoves all in for his remaining $210 and fishy guy calls! I figure for sure I'm going to be looking at two pair over set, but oh no. BB turns over 66 and fishy guy turns over...Kd7d. Yeah, that's right. He called $75 preflop with K7 and then called an all in with King high and no flush draw. I wanted to puke on the fucking table. Do I have to finish the story of who won? Oh, yeah. The Fish rivered a seven to take down the pot. There is no justice in poker. There, I've said it.

Other memorable hands that I can remember:

Darko, with AdTd flopped Ac8d6d. His opponent, Mr. Whale, had AA. When Whale shoved, John agonized but made the call, motioning to the dealer to stop after the turn so he could ask to run business. Well, the turn was a diamond and John showed his nut flush, but there were still boat draws. So he explained what doing business meant and they did, 3 times. Each time, the board didn't pair and John avoided a bullet.

Fishy guy and the guy with glasses got involved in a huge pot too. Fishy guy had Jd9d and flopped a flush draw. The board was 8dTdAs. There was some betting on the flop and the turn came a 7c. At that point, all the money went in. The fishy guy had the straight with the flush re-draw. Guy with glasses turned up AdQd for top pair with a good kicker and the flush draw. But most of the diamonds were out for this guy. 6d gives Fish the straight flush, so there are 6 more diamonds in the deck and that's it. That's about a 10-1 shot at best. but wouldn't you know it, it hit on the river. Fishy guy stormed out with a lot of frustration and the rest of the table was equally frustrated. One of the guys defended the fishy guy as being a "good player" and he *did* play that one perfectly, but this is the same guy who called a preflop raise to $75 with Kd7d, so I wasn't saying a word.

The last big hand was, fittingly, the last hand of the night. Carol and two other guys (Guy #1 and Guy #2 for the purpose of this story) all put big money into the pot with the board ended up being 356 on the flop, a 2 on the turn and a King on the river. Carol had 33, Guy #1 had 55 and Guy #2 had A4! Wow. Poor Carol. Her sets really weren't working out tonight. Oh, except for the time she rivered a boat playing 25o! Oh, yeah, The Darko scores again.

I ended up down $300, Carol about the same and Darko and Wendy scored big. King of the Mountain is going to be a quite a climb. {Sigh}

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The return of Dustin

Tuesday night saw the return of “Justin” Dustin, who has been away from our table for some time. Dustin works with Scott St. G., so he really has no excuse not to come, but I pushed him to explain himself anyway. “Uh, I’ve been going to the gym a lot”. Ok, doofus, whatever. Me, I know I’m going to die of a heart attack slumped onto a poker table, still holding on to my nut flush draw with one card to come. But that’s just me.

I played tight both tourneys last night, mostly because I was card dead. I’ve pretty much given up trying to make too many moves, given the competition and have chosen the path of “wait for good cards, raise it up, and hope you flop”. I gave up lots of middle pocket pairs when the action was being pushed very high. By the time the first tourney was down to 6 players, I only had about 1700 in chips and I needed to double up. Abbie obliged me by putting me all in with her AT. I peeked at my first card, Ace of clubs. My second card? Ace of spades. Uh, I call? Once I doubled up, I felt a little more comfortable, but Abbie and Scott St. G. both had monster stacks. Until Scott made his patented “Poker Idiot” bust out by dumping all his chips to Abbie. Abbie was in the big blind and Scott had limped into the pot along with a few others. Flop was K2rag, I don’t remember the suits. It checked all around and the turn was a 5. Scott bet out and Abbie raised it up. There was about 2500 in the pot and Scott re-raised all in for about 4000 more. A huge play, which Abbie called down immediately. Scott showed KQ for the slow played top pair, big kicker. Abbie showed THE DARKO (25o) for bottom two pair. She was able to avoid rivering a second pair and she felted Scott to take about 70% of the chips in play. It was down to Abbie, Liezl, Krishnan and myself. I was in a tenuous second place, but Liezl kept limping into pots on the button, not allowing Abbie to give me a walk on my big blind. And then she kept firing out, taking the pots. Darnit, how am I supposed to keep building my chip lead if I have to give up my blinds all the time?!? ;-) Then I went completely card-dead, including a run of three hands in a row when my hole cards were 93o! But Liezl managed to donk off her chips to Abbie when she pushed with a weak Ace vs. Abbie’s AA and Krishnan and I were in the money. I had Krishnan slightly outchipped but I managed to lost to Abbie with an A7 and I was out in 3rd. Krishnan and Abbie chopped, with Abbie giving Krishnan an extra $5 to give up the fight. He was outchipped more than 10-1, so I think it was a prudent move.

In other news, we had a lot of new players at the table last night. Tony, Olga, Alice and Art all made their first appearance at the Wall Street game. And with the appearance of Olga and Alice, we have officially taken the mantle of the Hottest home game in New York. By ‘Hottest’, I am referring of course to degree of attractiveness, not temperature. The designation, formerly held by the IHO crew, has been tipping our way in recent days with the frequent appearance of Stephane and Mary from said crew at the game. And with Liezl, Olga, Vivian, Alice, Lana, Wendy and Carol, we’re way over the top now. It’s like a Maxim photo shoot for god’s sake! As PP said last night, “Wow”. (If I left your name off of this list, it was only because I forgot. You’re beautiful too.)

Oh, other features of the first tourney included Wendy going out with QQ on the 3rd hand when she ran into Viet’s AA. Whoops. The second tourney had a similar hand with Darko, who had his QQ also run into Aces. The question was raised as to whether you can get away from QQ if there is heavy pre-flop action or if the flop is ragged undercards, as it was in both Wendy and Darko’s cases. My vote was no, you can’t. My theory is that in a short-stacked single-table turbo tourney, like we run, the third nuts pre-flop is as close to gold as you can get. If you’re worried about running into a category 1 hand, you can try to see the flop as cheaply as possible and check the texture, but if you have to try to double through with something, QQ is a good possibility. This thought process was running through my mind in the second tourney when I picked up TT UTG with blinds at 200/400. I had about 2300 in chips and instead of pushing with a medium pocket pair, I decided to limp and either re-raise all in on a raiser or see a flop and hope for the best. Wendy came out and raised it to 1400 and it folded to me. Decision time. There are only 4 hands that are beating me at this point pre-flop and I was hoping Wendy had AK, AQ or something similar when I pushed all in. She lamented that I had “better not have Aces” or she was going to cry. She flipped up QQ (again) but this time it held up. It was strange, given her luck at the table lately, how natural it was to assume a Ten would flop. But no such luck on my part. Paulie had another monster run of cards, showing me and Darko QQ to take down a good pot without a showdown. The very next hand, he felted a hapless player with KK! Paulie went on to take down the tourney with our new player Art coming in a respectable second place. Scott St. G. came in 3rd to round out the finishing group. It was only about 11 and it would have been fine for me if everyone left, but there was much talk of a cash game. However, by the time the dust settled, only Darko, Wendy, Paulie and Tony stuck around. No cash game. “We could play Omaha,” chimed in Paulie. Oh, allright then. So we played low-limit Omaha for 90 minutes or so, playing 1/2 with 1/1 blinds. Tony, who innocently claimed to not know how to play Omaha, managed to take $22 in profit. It helped him that we only played Omaha high, because there were plenty of hands I managed to get the nut low and could do anything with it, though I did scrape together a whopping $9 profit.

Labor Day Weekend recap #3

Paulie, Darko, Wendy and LJ all drove down together Friday afternoon, but I couldn’t make it out of work until 5:30. So after an uneventful cab ride up to the Port Authority, I hopped the 6:30PM bus to Resorts and made it down to AC in 2.25 hours, with a stop at Cheesequake. Pretty damn good time for a holiday weekend. The crew were already playing deep in a tourney at the Showboat, except for John who had busted out early (surprise, surprise). So I took the opportunity to corral him and Paulie into playing low limit Omaha/8 at the Taj next door. Luckily, there was a game opening up when we arrived and we all managed to sit at the table together. It was a blast. The O/8 game at the Taj is low limit and as such attracts the same group of crusty regulars every time I see it. We were sitting at the 2/4 table, although there was a 5/10 table also running, but that’s way beyond us just yet for O/8, a game we’re just learning.
The characters at the table were right out of a movie. There was friendly Mike, who lectured on us on some of the finer tips on how to play, while simultaneously slowly whittling his stack down to the felt. There was the Greek man in the hat who had a habit of saying, “Boom!” in a thick accent. I liked him because he called me a “good player” when I saw him again on Monday. J There was the cantankerous middle aged Jewish woman who seemed to complain about EVERYTHING: “It’s so cold in here”, “I can’t believe they sat a new dealer here”, “Hurry up, you’re taking forever!”, “This place is a dump”, “Are we ever going to see a waitress?”. And, of course, the eager to learn Wall Street crew. The game was fun, although I can’t remember any specific hands. And really, at 2/4, does it matter? I liked that Darko really enjoyed himself because he usually has a real disdain for limit poker. But he commented later that he likes to play O/8 because it really sharpens your skill at reading boards, outs, and putting players on a hand. He’s right, too. I’m also new at the game, so I can’t say with any expertise, but it seems to me that a lot of money is won or lost by being able to put players who are pushing the action on whether or not they’re going high, low or both. If you have a middling high hand, say top set on a flushing board, but an opponent starts raising a multi-way pot when an innocuous 3 hits the board, you might put him on a low hand, especially if the 3 also makes a low possible. In that case, your top set might still be good. There are so many combinations and so many ways to win or lose that your reading skills become very very important. And in low limit, the check/raise play is so rarely effective and so rarely used, that you can get very accurate information when a formerly passive player starts betting or raising when a specific card comes out. A goo example of this happened at our own table in Tuesday’s cash game. The last hand of the night, the flop was JT7, with 2 diamonds. I had been check calling pre-flop and on the flop with 68 and two lower rags. When the non-diamond 9 hit on the turn to give me the low straight, I started the betting with the $4 big bet. Carol, who is an excellent player, immediately muttered, “What a sick card to come out”. She knew IMMEDIATELY that I had made a straight. It was the only story that made sense of my first-to-act bet. Of course, she might have put me on the KQ, rather than the 68, but she put me on a straight regardless and she mucked her cards when it got to her. She’s a super smart player because she puts her read of the player together with the betting patterns and the board to tell what’s in that player’s hand. That skill translates well to ALL poker games, not just O/8 or Hold’Em. And that’s why Darko loved his time spent at O/8, even if we played for about 6 hours and he made a whopping $15 profit.

Labor Day Weekend recap #2

In a previous post, I announced my intention to visit every legal poker room in the country. Since I was going down to AC this weekend, it seemed natural to knock them out. There are, by my count, 10 poker rooms in Atlantic City, although one is used for tournaments only. These would be:

The Hilton
The Taj Mahal
The Wild, Wild West (adjacent to Bally's used for tourneys only)

I was able to visit 7 of these and get my obligatory dollar chips from each one. In addition, I played at least one button round at each casino, booking an 'offical' visit. I even got photo of all of the poker rooms, except for Harrah's where the security guard told me he would have to "break my camera and confiscate the film" if he caught me taking a photo. Um, number one it's digital so there's no film, you gangster. Number two, if you take the 'film', isn't breaking the camera going a little overboard, you nazi ape? Just saying…

So, the 7 casinos I visited during the trip were The Hilton, Borgata, Harrah's, Resorts, Showboat, Tropicana and The Taj. Incidentally, I will, at some point soon, be putting up a website with a custom google map and links to all my reviews of the different poker rooms I'm visiting. Watch for the link in an upcoming post sometime in the next few weeks. In the meantime, here's the poor man's version of the poker room reviews.

The Borgata is the nicest hotel, and the poker room is on par with any of the big ones in Vegas, but it's SO big that it loses points with me. The room is slightly cramped (though the very tall ceilings give it an airy feeling) but the tables are top notch, the dealers are excellent and the chairs are by far the best in the city. But, on Labor Day Weekend of all times, the waitresses were insanely overworked. There were only 2 girls working about 30 tables in my section of the room and getting a drink was a major hassle. But the action at the Borgata is hot. It attracts all the tourist players, so the play is very weak and loose. There are also a good variety of games going, but it's mostly geared toward high limit players. There were no low-limit Omaha games going, but there was a 30-60 Omaha game and there was a waiting list for the active 200/400 Stud table! Also, I *hate* the brush desk at the Borgata. You come to the front of the room and wait in line to give your initials to the woman to be put on a list. There are so many games going that the screen showing the games sometimes has to cycle for 3 minutes before the screen with the games you're interested in pops up. Then, they call your initials out on the floor, but it's so loud on the floor, you sometimes can't hear it. Then you have to flag down somebody who works there and lock the seat up for you, but sometimes they only give you 25 seconds or so to find them, then they go to the next person on the list and you're outta luck! Once you've sat down though, the experience is pretty enjoyable. All the tables have in-table shufflers, which speed the game up a bit, and the chairs are a wonderful change from the other rooms. In addition, the waitresses are "Vegas-Quality" in terms of looks and can make for some nice eye candy. Also, since the room attracts young and hip tourists, the players themselves can be very attractive. The only other detraction I would note are the chips. I HATE them. The chips are plastic coated, not the traditional clay chips, with a weighted insert to give them some heft, but they are a bit on the light side. The worst part of the design is that the middle circle of the chip is ever so slightly recessed, and the resulting gap forms an airtight seal when the chips are stacked. This has the effect of the chips sticking together. Most people think, as I once did, that there is a magnetized chip of some sort which makes the chips stick. But I broke open one of the chips this weekend and it just ain't so. But shuffling the chips is a pain as a result and if you can't chip shuffle, what are you going to do when you don't have a hand, godammit?!? I rate the Borgata an 8/10 overall. They lost points on their chips, the brush desk and the noise level in the room.

The Hilton is a perfectly fine room, except that most night I go there, there isn't a decent game to be found. Usually, in my experience, there are only 2 or 3 tables going and the action on them is anemic. I do like the tournaments though, because they're relatively cheap and they don't have antes, which makes for a longer tourney and give players much more play. The tables have recently been upgraded, but the players are generally older and crabbier and the dealers tend to suck. The room does have 3 outstanding features though. The first is the huge bay window which looks West out over the city. It's not a beautiful view or anything but it's a welcome sight to see the sky at all in a poker room, which are usually dungeon-like affairs. The second great feature is a noodle bar, adjacent to the room, which serves up pretty decent noodle bowls, though you have to get them yourself. The third great feature, for me anyway, is the Asian gaming pit which is about 10 steps away from the poker room. Since the main gaming floor is downstairs from the poker area, having the Pai-Gow tables (my favorite non-poker gaming activity) nearby is a big boon to me. When I'm not feeling it at poker, and I want to de-stress from a bad beat, Pai-Gow can't be beat. I rate The Hilton a 5/10 overall. They lost points on their lack of ability to pull players into the room as well as their generally crappy dealers and non-existent floor staff.

Harrah's is in the marina area, and is the next casino over from Borgata, although you can't really walk there. The hotel is equivalent to the others on the boardwalk but the poker room is pretty unique. Instead of being one large room, the room curves and undulates so it feels more like a whole bunch of small and intimate pockets where poker happens to be played. The tables are perfectly nice although the chairs are on the cheap end. I never had a problem with the dealers there, and they are generally talkative and friendly. The play is pretty weak overall although I hear whispers that it gets sharky at times, though I've never seen that. The room is very pretty, with lots of pretty tiling to be distracted by as well as TV's, framed photos, etc… But the room is fairly small overall. Unlike other rooms, where being small feels like they stuck a poker room in as an afterthought, the room has the feel of being homey instead. I like the concept. I rate Harrah's 6/10. They lose points on not haivng enough types of games and on being at the ass-end of AC. Also, the security guard is a nazi pig who threatened to break my camera if I took a picture.

Resorts is the cruddiest and crappiest poker room in the entire city. I almost can't count the number of things wrong with it. It's tiny (maybe 8 tables) and it's adjacent to a smoking area in the casino and no there's no partition. About 10 minutes into my session, my eyes started to water up and I could only stand another 30 minutes or so before I picked up and left. The tables are just average and the chairs about the same. The dealers suck and couldn't care less, in addition to not knowing what they're doing. A guy exposed his winning cards on a hand but didn't show all the table before he mucked. The dealer took the cards and I asked to see them while they were in his hands. The dealer mucked the cards, started shuffling again and said to me, "He had a King". That's it?!? I continued my inquest. "What else, what suit?" Nothing from the dealer. He didn't say anything else and just kept dealing. It sucked donkey dick. I rate the Resorts room 3/10. They lost points on the size of the room, the location next to a smoking area, the crappy equipment, the piss-poor dealers and the lack of anything but 2/4 limit and 1-2 NL. They only got a 3, rather than a 2, because they're *right* on the boardwalk, which is within sight of the poker room, and you can even catch a view of the boardwalk if you're angled just right. Plus, the only Pai-Gow table in the entire casino is 15 feet away from the poker room.

Showboat is quickly becoming my favorite room in the city. It's relatively small, maybe 24 tables, half of which are usually used in tourneys, but the tourneys are top-notch and the staff is super friendly and competent. The tables are wonderful, with in-table shufflers, and the chairs are almost as nice as the Borgata. The room is across from the House of Blues concert venue, so on rare ocassions, you can actually hear some good tunes coming through the wall, like the night I was there and Twisted Sister was playing. :-) The tournaments are the big draw at the Showboat. $125 on Saturday night gets you 10,000 in chips (or was it 15,000) and 25-30 minute blind levels. The Wall Street crew usually has at least one member cashing in these tourneys and the structure allows for a lot of play. Cash isn't quite as good, with 2/4, 3/6 and 1-2 NL being the only games offered, BUT, it's adjancent and adjoining the Taj, which has every low limit game under the sun. The only other detraction I can think of for Showboat is the low ceiling which give the room more claustraphobia than is strictly necessary. I rate the Showboat 7/10. They lost points for the small room, the low ceiling and the dearth of games.

The Tropicana (or 'The Trop') is my favorite card room, but only for sentimental reasons. This was the first place I ever played in AC and was my 'home casino' for many years. There are some very good points to the room though. Their brush desk is the best in AC. Instead of using the newfangled Queue computerized system, they use the old school dry erase board with overhead cameras trained on it. The camera feeds are then fed to monitors in the room so you can see where you are. Floor staff promptly seats players whose names get called and it's actually audible! The dealers are competent and friendly (I even got asked out by one once! A woman no less!!!) and the room has a huge number of tables. The equipment is only so-so, with the tables showing their age and the chairs in bad need of an upgrade, but the sheer size of the room compensates. In addition, they're good about getting lots of different games going and it's not too hard to get a table. Plus, the Trop offers, in my opinion, the best game in the whole city, which is the 'Pink Game'. The Pink Game is 7.50/15 Limit Hold'em and is so named because the only chips used to bet are $2.50 chips, which are Pink in color. Bets are called out not by their amount but by the number of chips bet (3, 6, 9, etc…). Action is loose and there is just the right mix of sharks and tourists to keep it fun. Also, though it rarely runs, the Trop is one of the few rooms in AC to run Omaha/8 AND low limit at that. So it has a leg up on some other rooms in that respect. I rate the Trop 7/10 overall. The lose points because the room is somewhat grimy and crowded and the waitresses are notably slow.

Which leaves The Taj Mahal. The Taj is an interesting case, because until Borgata came to town, they were the biggest and best poker room in Atlantic City, or even the East Coast. At one time, they were considered among the best in the world. It's no mistake that in the movie Rounders, when Mike and Worm go to AC for a night of poker, they end up at The Taj. It was the gold standard for many years, but times have changed for the worse. Gone are the days when high-rollers would play at The Taj ("where the sand turns to gold"). I remember seeing roped off areas featuring small tables of 300-600 limit when I went 10 years ago but I haven't seen a game over 20-40 there for a while. Dealers at the other casinos point to a change of management as the issue. I don't know what it is, but it's a damn shame. The tables are old and creaky, the chairs are crammed in way too close, and the clientele is much older and creakier than even the tables of chairs! The few saving graces are the sheer number of tables (over 80 at last count) and the sheer number of possible games they run. When I showed up on Friday, Darko, Paulie and I all played in a 3/6 2 way rotation game of Omaha/8 and Stud/8. Good luck finding that anywhere else in Atlantic City! Everything else about the Taj pretty much sucks now. The dealers are surly, the wait staff overworked and the floor people mostly clueless. Oh, did I mention at that same rotation game, a brand new dealer, on her very first night, was placed at our table? She was overwhelmed. It was like throwing chum to hungry pirahnahs. I rate The Taj Mahal 5/10 overall. They lose points on their incompetent management, their prickish dealers and the general dirtiness of the room.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

R.I.P. Good Look Club

Two days after re-opening (with a 6-12 O/8 game I was DYING to try), the police have revisted the Good Look Club. This time, they brought a padlock with them. It looks like they're serious this time. We loved you, Good Look. You were the best in the city.

Hat tip - Anonymous (who reported from the scene)

Sick cash game - Walnuts is the monster

What a crazy sick cash game we had tonight. I'm too tired to go over all the details, but I'll give a few quick bullet points and then point you over to two blogs which have already posted about it.

Bullet point 1: Paulie is the new record holder for profit in a single night: $888. He couldn't lose tonight. He was already the big chip leader at the table, with about $475 in front of him, when he's sitting in the SB and *this* happens. It limps to him and he makes a yo-leven raise. Everybody calls (it was that kind of night). Flop comes A69 with two clubs. Paulie checks and it gets to Brian who makes a sizeable bet. Paulie reraises and Brian, who is the 2nd biggest stack at the table, moves all in for about $375 more! He bets about 3X the pot and Paulie INSTA-CALLS! Brian turns up 69 for bottom two pair and Walnuts has the top set of Aces. The turn and river are bricks and Paulie scoops what I believe is the single biggest pot we've ever seen around these parts. His run didn't end there either. He ended up holding onto all of that profit and it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Bullet point 2: I didn't play Hold'em tonight. I didn't get a lot of sleep this weekend, or last night, so playing at a 1/2 NL table, with the action going on, wasn't what I had in mind. So I dealt instead. We did end up switching to 2/4 O/8 at 11PM and I sat in for $100. That was more my speed. I made donkey call after donkey call and managed to get down to about $35. On the LAST hand of the night, Carol goads me into straddling, which I do, and get some craptacular hand like 8642 rainbow! Ohmigod how awful. But when it gets capped all the way back to me I say "Fuck it, maybe I'll hit 35". So I call and the pot is built up nicely. The flop brings JdTd3c. Carol bets when it gets to her and it's only two bucks. I should be folding, of course, but I'm not folding because I'm an idiot and it's the last hand. So I make the idiot call, along with everyone else, and the turn brings the miracle 9h. Miracle for me, that is, because it gives me my only possible way of winning, but there are still two ways for me to lose this. but I figure, "what the hell, I'm either good here or I'm not". So I bet when it gets to me. I'm gratified that everyone calls and no one raises me. I pray on the river for a non-paired low diamond (I'm asking a lot I know) and someone rewards my donkalicious play but rivering a 2c. I now have the 3rd nut straight. So I bet, of course. :-) I get a few crying calls and I show down my awful ass-end straight. One by one, people strain to see if they have something better and they fold. I end up scooping a big pot and end up with all of my starting money, plus 2 dollars. W00t!

Bullet Point 3: Brian. Ouch.
Bullet Point 4: Jordan. Ouch.
Bullet Point 5: Darko, you missed some damn juicy action and a whole lot of fun.

Check out these posts from Dawn and LJ for more details on the night.

Also, Kearns thinks I remind him of Jamie Gold. Not sure if that's a compliment, but the guy *did* outplay the largest tournament field in the history of the world, so I have to be somewhat happy:
That night, I met other poker players from New York. Ari, Charles, the
comedian, his wife, Jamie, who somehow reminded me of Jamie Gold, Karol, who used to live in Haiti where I was raised, Karol's brother and some of his friends. Nice environment, very nice people. They even had a Birthday cake break for Jamie Gold.

My employer busts my ass

Well, the good times are gone. Remember those disclaimers that ocassionally appear on my blog at the bottom? They appear when I post to this blog from work, which I did this morning. Uh, I got an email from the office which monitors these things and they told me I am violating company policy and to cut it the hell out. I weighed my options.

1. The ability to blog during business hours.
2. Having a job

So it looks like I won't be blogging from work anymore. That's why no follow-up to the Labor day weekend recap. More to come during the week, after hours.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Labor Day Weekend recap #1

There is waaay too much to put in one post, so I'll be posting little vignettes all day as I remember them. You can sew them together and consider them one long post as you'd like.

So, the binding thread of this group of posts is that the Wall Street crew (plus LJ), went down to Atlantic City for the entire weekend. The trips with the crew are always fun and drama-filled and this weekend was hardly an exception…

Everyone decided to take off on Friday and/or work a half day, except for myself. I had to work what ended up being a full day even though the markets closed around 2PM. There was so much work to be done this week that I didn't feel I could leave it half-finished, so I slogged it out until 5:30PM. The rest of the crew, Paulie, Darko, Wendy and LJ, made their way down at around 1:30, hitting only light traffic. I hopped a bus from the Port Authority at 6:30 and was also met with little to no traffic. Abbie decided to stay the night in Manhattan and met us down there Saturday morning.

The sleeping arrangments reflected the order in which we confirmed the trip. Wendy, Abbie, LJ and I all confirmed early, so we had one room. When Paulie and Darko came on later, they got a separate room. The logical choice would have been for me, the boy, to head over to the "boy's" room and separate us all out by gender. This didn't fit in with my plans to have each of the women cycle at least one night through my bed, but I wasn't about to quibble. ;-) But Darko and Paulie put the kibosh on my moving as they had paid extra for each of them to have their own bed and they were comfortable with the extra expense. So it was the three girls and I in the one room for the whole trip. Before you get an image of dunken late night orgies (yeah, I'm *that* badass), we BARELY saw each other for the entire trip. LJ was focused on her tournies, so she was up early and in early. Abbie normally keeps the same early-to-bed, early-to-rise schedule as well. Wendy is of the "Up at 2PM, Out until whenever" schedule. I'm pretty flexible on these trips but Darko usually convinces me to stay out late. So it was interesting every night, when I stumbled into my room in pitch blackness (because the shades were drawn and not necessarilly because the sun wasn't up) and not knowing who was in which bed! During these trips, Wendy and I usually share the bed because we're compatible sleep partners (cut it out you juvenile!). This means we are comfortable with each other's quirky sleep habits. I wear Breath-Rite strips, to keep from snoring, and she's cool and apreciative of that. And I'm totally OK with her changing positions every 20 minutes and sometimes getting up to change the CD that she listens to while she's sleeping (Don't ask for details, I don't know any). Having been married, I got used to having another person in my bed very quickly and this arrangment usually works out well. In addition, having been married, I also got used to being able to share a bed with a woman and not touch her in any way. :-) This also works out well for both of us and Wendy's boyfriend doesn't have to kick my ass. One faux-pas though on my part. Evidently, I need to bring Tshirts to sleep in, because going bare-backed is frowned upon as a breach of etiquettte. I'm still perplexed as to why that would be, from a purely scientific 'social studies' standpoint, but I'm cool with whatever Wendy wants. My bad. And please, no 'huggle' jokes.

There was not one, but two, pieces of high drama in regards to the room arrangements. One, Wendy wanted to invite a guy she had met in AC to stay in our room. Well, either our room or the boy's room. But no one was comfortable with having a strange guy the rest of us hadn't met stay with us. So that one was off the table. Ok, it wasn't high drama, but it felt that way at the time. The second bit of drama was in who would take the bed in our room. We stayed at the Fairfield suites, in which there is a Queen bed and a Queen sleeper sofa in the 1BR suite we were in. The bed, I assume, is more comfortable. The night we went down and LJ went to the room early, I asked Wendy where she and I would sleep. "The bed" was the answer I heard. But LJ had told me separately that *she* was sleeping in the bed. Rather than get in the middle of a potential cat fight, I decided to just let the matter play out. But Wendy had been so intensely sure that we would be in the bed, that when I stumbled in at 6AM, I immediately made my way to the bedroom on the right. Feeling along the wall (it was completely dark in the room), I found the doorknob and turned it ever so quietly. Now I was faced with a dilemma. I could barely make out the bed, but I didn't know what side Wendy would be on and I didn't want to wake her up feeling around for where her legs were. I mean, if sleeping bare-backed is rude, then feeling someone up while they're sleeping is damn close to rape! So I gently, and stealthily, made my way to the curtains to see if I could part them slightly and let in juuuust enough moonlight to see where she was. The moon's rays spilled out of the crack I had made and fell onto the foot of the bed. My eyes got adjusted and I saw….two lumps on either side of the bed! Uh, there were TWO women in the bed sleeping. Now normally, I would be very happy to see this but this was one of the few times in my life I was not happy to see two women in my bed (I CAN'T believe I just typed that). I put the pieces together and made an educated guess that Wendy had given up the bed to LJ and Abbie and I was right. When I crept back into the living room where the sofa was, Wendy was dead asleep, and there was a space for me on the right side of the bed. I undressed quietly and slipped under the covers, dead asleep in about 10 seconds. Problem solved and drama avoided.

Ok, this post was more about the hotel room arrangements than anything else. Not exciting, I know, but there's more to come. Stick around...

Like, duh!

Scientists confirm that rock stars tend to die younger due to drugs and alcohol:

Next on the crazy train called "How to waste money on the distressingly obvious": Why is there always significantly more sunlight in the morning than at night?