Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Tough Way to Earn a Bottle of Tokillya

Not much poker content in this one, in part because I've been too busy working of late. The sum total of my poker of late is a handful of small online tourneys and a single trip to Hammond Horseshoe, where I partook of one of their $110 Thursday tourneys of late. I just barely cashed in that one -- 14th of 14 of 110, but at least it's three-fer-three in terms of cashing at tournaments at the Horseshoe.

Next week I'll try my hand at one of the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza tournaments, as I'll be in Vegas for parts of Feb. 4-9. In so late on the 4th it'll really be the 5th, but that's fine.

So much for the poker stuff.

I went to gas up my car earlier today and drop off a latent lottery ticket that was worth a few bucks that had been sitting on a dresser for... at least a couple of months. I'm not big on lottery tickets, by the way; too -EV for my tastes. But there are two gas station within three-fourths of a mile of my apartment. One of them is a cheesy Citgo with pumps that barely work and a mini convenience mart with a roof that leaks so bad that on a heavy rain day there's four or five plastic buckets occupying the aisles. (Thank god the snack treats are sealed in plastic.) The Citgo's also the closest station to a low-income housing development just off the opposite way, so the clientele one stands in line varies between dicey and scary.

I fit right in, come to think of it.

The other choice is an upscale Mobil super gasmart up the same road where it intersects with Route 25. High-end pumps, brightly lit, stylin' canopies.... Last time I bought gas there the bastards double-billed my credit card.

So I use the Citgo. The staff there is friendly, and it feels like real folks to me.

Tonight I pulled in the midst of weather today that's been right at the freezing point. Gassed up, grabbed the window squeegee to scrub off some of the salt that was dimming my headlights, tossed the squeegee back in the rack and started to step around the end of the gas-pump island to head inside and pay. With the glare and the wet pavement, I didn't notice that there had been some significant drip-down from the canopy off the end of the island, which had frozen into a nasty patch of black ice where it reached the ground. I figured it out when my right leg was horizontal and my left leg was joining it in mid-air.

I have pretty quick reflexes, even at my advanced age. While falling, I saw I was going to land across the edge of the island, which was built up much like a sidewalk curb, and I managed to pull in my wrist just before it would have landed across that edge. At that angle, it would have been a snapped wrist. As it was, the wrist literally scraped through and my elbow and forearm took the brunt, losing a largish chunk of skin (and a bit of blood in the process), this despite the fact that it was through the sleeve of my winter coat that the impact occurred. It still hurt.

I climbed to my feet, wincing, checking to make sure nothing was broken. A car pulled in just then and the woman driving must have seen my wipeout, because she jumped out and asked if I need help. I flexed the arm and fingers -- nope, nothing broken. Not much she could do.

I walked inside and the woman at the counter, who's worked there as long as I've been in this area, must also have been told of my wipeout by another customer inside. She was upset by it, and yeah, before I go on, I get the whole insurance angle of all this. But if there's nothing broken, it's not the type of thing I'm that worried above -- we as humans don't live forever and a little bit of skin will grow back in a few weeks. The asshole that hit me with an errant drive (with a driver) off an irons-only golf range a decade or so was much worse, and though I was quite literally laid up for a weekend on that occasion thanks to a golf-ball bruise on my spine, I let his insurance company off with buying me a new bicycle.

Here, it was a woman I knew who had sincere concern, and I was in pain but not with any long-term injury. She ushered me behind the counter where the band-aids and sink and towels were, and then she said, "You need a shot." This being the non-high-rent district, the Citgo has a whole rack of those two-shot sampler bottles of various boozes behind the counter, not to mention a refrigerator full of chilled Mogen David and Boone's Farm just a few feet away.

I knew full well that she was feeling mighty bad about my wipeout, and it's very likely that spreading salt is one of her duties and she was both scared shitless that I was seriously hurt and relieved that I wasn't too bad off when it could have been worse. She kept insisting, "Shot? Beer? It's on me."

And so, fine. People that screw with me, they need to watch their backs. People that are nice to me and treat me right and are just trying to get by in life, I'm not going to screw them. That's my ethos. Fuck with me and you have need to be concerned, but I'm loyal and protective of those who treat me right.

I rarely drink hard alcohol. But on rare occasions.... "I'll take the shot of Jose Cuervo," I said.

She reached up and grabbed the larger size, the six-ounce bottle. "It's on me."

Whatever, I figured. She's not the owner of the station and I figure she paid that hour's wage into the till because of the incident, and while I didn't care about the tequila, I also know that in her own way, she needed to do that. She then followed me outside with the salt and left her other customers just waiting, just to make sure the stuff was taken care of.

Good peoples come in all flavors, sizes and wealth. There's your life lesson for today.

As for me, I'll have a sore arm for a few days. But it'll heal.

Strangely enough, as I picked myself up from the pavement, I noticed a dime next to me on the ground, and it was one that didn't come out of my zipped-up purse. Darned if despite the pain, I didn't reach down and pick it up. I thought of my very broke maternal grandparents and the hard life they lived through the Great Depression and for many years beyond, and I remembered my grandma saving her change, and picking up any pennies she would happen to find on her daily walks, saving them up in a tiny manila envelope just so she could give them to my sister and me. Little rubber-banded envelopes with 17 or 31 pennies bundled inside.

I think I remembered something about karma and life from seeing that dime and picking it up. Yeah, I could have been a big pain in the ass, and yeah, the pain in my arm is certainly going to be significantly more than the value of a six-ounce bottle of Cuervo.

Now ask me if I care.


I've decided to give ChipMeUp a try. I'm still figuring out the various bells and whistles so it may be a bit before I'm up and running on it properly. Anyone interested can e-mail me for details.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

No Poker Content

Just happened to be spinning the TV dials this morning and was reminded again of why Bobby Knight is and has always been the biggest jackass in the coaching world. "Mr. I Guy" was at again, translating what was supposed to be a live tribute to recently deceased NC State women's BB coach Kay Yow (who passed after a decades-long battle against breast cancer) into yet another who-gives-a-damn tale about his own coaching battles against Digger Phelps.

From the bottom of my heart: Fuck you, sir. One would think that such a widely acclaimed "leader" would someday pick up a clue as to what life is really about, but Kinght's in what now, his mid 60s? He'll remain eternally clueless and an embarrassment to everything he touches.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thank You, John

It was with considerable sadness that I learned of John Caldwell's decision to step down as Editor-in-Chief of PokerNews. John's stewardship of the PN site grew ever more impressive to me as I learned more and more about the operation, and the strengths that John brought as EIC were, I believe, things that all poker editors, writers, and poker media in general should strive for... even as the rest of us generally fall far short of those standards.

John's work ethic is legendary, as is his CrackBerry addiction. (Pauly's dream of a CrackBerry-free lunch with John, as noted over at the Tao of Poker blog, is a big funny. Prop bets?) John also shied away from the spotlight as well as any editor or writer I could name, always mindful that he wasn't the story -- it was just his job to cover it. And, no matter what stresses of the moment were at hand, you can always count on John to stay focused on the big picture.

Among other things, he's been a great mentor to all of us at PN, and he deserves my thanks and appreciation for that. So, thank you, John.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Oh, Yeah, It's 2009

Rumors of my demise have been somewhat exaggerated, though i did field a couple of e-mails of late wondering where the heck I was. "Busy times" is the short answer. I've desperately needed to spend some hours with friends and family of late, and the online poker swongs had eased a bit but were still trending generally downward.

I did finally arrange to get a few dollars back onto Full Tilt there, so I may play some of the blogger events under my supersekrit screen name there that no one knows, and maybe see if I can tilt Waffles. I did final-table the Daily Double B a week or so ago, which ain't really worth mentioning except for that at one point about an hour in, I was down to 75 chips with the blinds at 25/50. Yeah, I ran a bit better after that.

Stars has been a slowly ebbing trend but not enough to panic over; I've learned that online ranking services are widely inaccurate for all but the highest-volume players. In the past year, for example, OPR has shown my three-month ROI percentages as high as +93% and as low as -30%. That just tells me that the variance in my game exceeds their standard tracking period, and if does so for me, it must be similar for lots and lots of other players as well. Given, of course, that I've been back down to Bronze Star level on Stars since September or so, simply from not having the time to play. Maybe this month I can at least make Silver.


I've played at Bodog barely at all, and over at Merge I'd seen my biggest swongs, not helped by the fact that the bad-beat jackpot has grown so large that it's been worth dropping a few buy-ins to chase. But my bread and butter there, the smallish nightly guarantee MTTs, had been treating me... rather rudely. This week, though, I finally managed to not only make two final tables, but to take both of them down.

Maybe I'm due for an upswing.

Maybe you'll see at me a table in the near future; maybe not. As the saying goes, only time will tell.