Friday, January 27, 2012

A last minute drive to Iowa

I received an email a couple of days ago from one of my fellow Bourbonators that he was heading to Diamond Jo's Casino in north Iowa. OhPrincess2 has been sick the last couple of days with a nasty stomach bug and OhPrincess1 got some really big news today, so I really doubted I'd get a hall pass.

Well, hall pass I received.

Probably shoulda stayed home. I'm so rusty at casino cash games. Not a single blogger at my table to keep my champagne wishes and caviar dreams alive. I won the first hand I played at the table. Trudged along until I tangled my AA vs Q10o. 75% of my buy in snatched away by a full house. Believe it or not, I very seriously considered mucking my aces on the river. Woulda saved $70.

I wish I played cash games better. I just never see tournaments anymore.

My buddy is still playing. This casino has free wifi so my iPad will have to keep me occupied for a while. Just don't feel like getting out another buy in will help. I need to play this more. It was fun until my aces got cracked and I had to listen to my gut tell me I told you so.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Consider giving

I have a few blogs. Not the worlds largest following, but I know there are still people who stop by here now and then. I'd like you to consider helping me out. Here's a link to my cousin's fundraising page. She's running a marathon. My cousin has been inspiring me for a few years now. The death of her mother, my aunt, from cancer, inspired her to take up running.

Read the story.

Please consider giving.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

2011 #WPBT Winter Gathering - Day 2

If you go to the WPBT winter gathering and don't at least one new thing, you ain't doin' it right.

This photo on the left, U.S. District Court building for the District of Nevada. While I don't think I'd recommend this as top destination when traveling to Las Vegas, I would recommend going there for the reason I did.

Let's roll back the clock to the night before. I pretty much spent the night drinking beer. A +1 in my book. To top that off, I played CRAPS! Huh? It's true, until that night, I had never wagered a single penny playing craps. I think I wager more than that on that night but I totally enjoyed playing. As I remember, bloggers had pretty much taken over a table. I remember Drizz on my left, ThisIsNotApril on my right, and going counter clockwise were the Luckbox, his brother, Astin and a really foggy haze of people that for the life of me, I can't remember.

Want to know my losing strategy? I did what April did. As it turns out, she was doing what the Luckbox was doing. Well he was playing Eastern Midwest strategy and trying to out play Astin who was play super duper optimal South Eastern Canadian more optimal style. Near as I can figure, I got drunker and lost $50 in the process. Wee! CK stopped by and informed me that throwing two points was good. Double Weee!

All of this drinking led to me somehow getting back to the IP safely. A Las Vegas miracle. I was able to keep myself organized, cuz I was totally ready for Friday morning. Please keep in mind, I average 17 hours of sleep for the entire weekend over the times I've gone. That's 4 hours and 15 minutes a night. I believe the motto is "you can sleep when you're dead". Anywho, I was totally ready for Friday morning (I think I said that...). PokerVixen had asked if I would like to attend her swearing in to become a US citizen.

Ya! First, how cool is that. I felt really quite honored to even be asked. Second, it's really an amazing process. I took some pictures before they reminded us that it was in fact a court of law and photos were prohibited. Oops. No fear, it happens all the time. Problem is, I won't share any of those pictures. Some people really like their anonymity. I respect that. But let's not forget, Congrats! Welcome to America!

We finished up the ceremony and headed out for breakfast. As is a reoccurring theme for me in Las Vegas, I was starving. It's feast or famine I tell ya. PV and her friends took me to Du-Par's in the Gold Gate casino. You can see it there on the left.

Actually a very interesting diner feel inside. I like diners. I didn't take a picture of it but they claim on their menu to have been told by Esquire magazine that they have the best pancakes. I told you I was starving, right? I ordered the big stack, with bacon.

Pancakes were decent, they definitely made me lose that starving feeling. The bacon was a bit too crisp but tasted like bacon which makes most things better. All in all, the company was awesome and the food was quite satisfying. Nomnom.

Below is something we found kinda cool. This was on the placemats(?) I really liked 1933.

After leaving the Golden Gate, I needed to hook up with Astin and BrainMc. Vixen needed to change cloths. It was time for the annual trip to the Neon Graveyard.
The trip back to the strip went smoothly. Traveling with Vixen is great. She's pretty much a native now so just zooms. Through seemingly random communication, we decided to drop me off at Caesars and I'd walk to Aria and meet the other guys. This allowed Vixen an easy escape from the Strip and would ride with the guys. I sorta know the way back. (The museum is the complete opposite end of Las Vegas Blvd). What could go wrong?
Here's some touristy photos I took of the Bellagio on the way to Aria. Cloudy in Vegas isn't pretty. Welcome to Decemember.

I think with a deep blue sky, I'd be a lot happier with these.

Seems like every year, there are more street performers.

The decor at Aria seemed to be getting mixed reviews from everyone. I loved the theme of these enormous Christmas tree ornaments. I just never could find the right angle. I like this shot the best.

We agreed to meet at the front desk of Aria. BrainMc had rented a car. He would drive, but first we needed to catch a ride to the IP. It was parked there. Into a cab we go. So far so good. At the IP, BrainMc remembers his car is parked in a ramp, but not the normal ramp. A different one. One with doggy tracks leading to it. (Huh?) We go out a door and into another door and then up some stairs and then back down the stairs. We go back into the IP and try going down some stairs and then back up some stairs, then through a door, and back in the door, maybe an elevators? Maybe not. How about this door? These stairs? Hey! There's the doggy foot prints and the potty grass for the dogs out behind the IP? I had no idea.

Never fear. We have cell phones!

While I love being a free spirit, I'm a free spirit with document organized. TripIt is an awesome tool. You should check it out. I store all of my travel info the number for the Neon Graveyard. I called to tell them we were coming, there was just now way we could violate the traffic laws fast enough to get through the traffic on the interstate. Wasn't gonna happen. Not a problem really, they were just explaining the rules. I filled the guys in on them on the way. We were good.

I think this was my 3rd visit here. I don't want to imply that people shouldn't go here. I really do enjoy it, but it's been 3 years and I keep hearing that next year, they will have a visitor center and we can visit any time of the day. It's not done yet. The tour is pretty much the same tour I took last year only the calendar is a year older. The place is still pretty neat but as you can see from the pictures, they look a bit like last years. I know Astin took some great ones, and I think everyone enjoyed it. I just need to do something different next year. Pinball Hall of Fame? Nuclear Testing Museum?

They did a great job on this sign. Notice how now the sky is a deep blue. Sigh.

The following are some of the random shots I got while taking the tour. I haven't spent a lot of time post-processing them.

Every year, I try to get a cool shot of this guy. Every year. Astin's is better.

I like abstract rusting metal. I'm gonna spend some time with this one in Lightroom.

Sky all washed out again. Grr.

Not sure what a neon bar is.

Letters are EVERYWHERE. OhCountess is probably gonna make some of those letters as words signs. If you want one, let me know.

The next two have potential for something. I'm gonna try to spend some time getting the colors right.

O.C. Fat Kings?

This post is brought to you by the letter 'S'

Astin futzin' with his camera. Musta worked. He got some good ones.

After leaving the graveyard, we headed back to the Strip. I was actually not feeling good about now. I must be getting old cuz I kinda just wanted to lay down for a while. I plugged my phone in to charge for a few minutes and time passed magically and when the long blink ended. It was time to head to Aria for blogger cash games.

On the way, I shot this. Notice the "celebrity" photo ops all over Vegas? Seems the locals aren't all happy about these guys. Some of them are bad guys. I found one article, an op-ed piece. The guys seemed harmlessly annoying to me. There were a lot less clicker people this year.

The sites of Las Vegas.

Next up, the cash game, a roller coaster, the big tournament, some more photo walks and probably the coolest blogger experience ever.

Monday, January 16, 2012

2011 #WPBT Winter Gathering - Day 1

Take a deep breath. Hold it. Now let it out very slowly.


Ya, getting me to this point has taken a lot longer than I had hoped. I miss the carefree days of online poker and kids going to bed earlier. For those of you with infants that think they take a lot of ain't seen nothing yet.

As it happens, I went to Las Vegas, Nevada the first weekend in December. What happens in Vegas, stays...on the Internet...forever!!! Muwahahah

No. Really. It does. Be careful what you say on one deletes anything anymore. Damn cheap hard drives.

Ok, back to business. The minutia of the day is probably pointless to most everyone. Let's just quickly sum it up. I worked a half day so that I could be in a position to catch a shuttle to downtown Rochester, where I would catch another shuttle to fly out of Minneapolis airport on Thursday, like I've done every the 3 previous years only this time, Except this year I was really just travelling alone. Drizz took a different flight. OhCountess stayed home. It was quality me time. Am I the only one that really loves the feeling of being all alone in a sea of strangers, like at the airport? Damn, it's my drug.

The flight wasn't really all that much. I'm addicted to getting wi-fi now on flights. $8 just seems fair for 3 hours of Twitter and web surfing. Above is a picture of something new for me on a Delta flight, (I cheated and took this picture on the flight home...shhh...don't tell anyone) - the map of where Carmen Santiago is was wicked cool.

But no as cool as the WPBT bloggers. Not this trip. While airborne, I was watching the plight of one my fitness heros, PokerPeaker. Seems he was getting screwed by his airlines and his flight got cancelled. Low. I'll let you read it over at his blog, he's a way better writer than I am. Bloggers came through and got him to Vegas. You guys absolutely, friggin' rock.

If you've never landed at McCarren, you get off the plane to the greeting of slot machines. Someday, someone will need to explain their appeal to me. -EV with a touch of boredom just ain't my thing. Wish it was. Might make for some fun stories. Oh, wait...I did play slot machines this trip...but that was later. These machines I just skip. I seriously don't think you understand my desire to be checked into my hotel, and drinking beer(s) with the bloggers of the WPBT. I look forward to this from the moment I get back to Minnesota and realize it's over. I am already looking to book next year...which weekend? The first or the second??? I'm serious? Let's do this!!!

MSP is the most boring airport in the world to me. It's devoid of anything interesting. It's the cheap vanilla of airports. Maybe it's an upgrade from RST here in Rochester, but at least that one is tiny and doesn't try. The shot from McCarren is something I just love seeing. Could be that I usually see it while nearly sprinting through the airport trying to get to ground transportation...

This year, I did pause for a few minutes. McCarren has free wi-fi. Free wi-fi is the best wi-fi cuz it's cheap. I had promised my 8 year old OhPrincess2 that I would FaceTime with her when I found some wi-fi. I know the rest of the night was gonna be fun, but I did enjoy some quality time with her chatting it up and showing her around the airport. Good times...

Until the ride to the airport. Some hunyuck had gotten on our shuttle. We are moving and leaving the airport. He chimes in, "Is this the shuttle to the Rio?" You are kidding me? There's beer waiting for me and you want to take me to the Rio first? homicide illegal in Nevada? I think it is, so consider yourself lucky.

The bus winds through Bally's. I remember thinking to myself, "Hmm...self...should we get out here and walk? We aren't that far from the Imperial Palace. We might get there sooner if we do. Nah. It will be fine."

 Always trust your gut.

Next stop. The Rio. Kill Me F'n Now.

On the way to the Rio, I notice I missed a FaceTime. That's odd. I must have caught some wi-fi and the Mrs was trying to get me back. Then I received a text from her.

"Call home as soon as you can. There's been a death."

Um. What? Not really how I was hoping to start my weekend. Now think brain. If the death had been a human or a dog, she would have called me or at least said something more, right?

Another text...

"OhPrincess2 really needs to talk to her dad"

Big, deep breath. I never make phone calls on the bus. It's so rude, but this seemed different. Screw etiquette. I called. Goldie died. Her gold fish. For those of you that can remember being 8, this is a big deal. When I'm in Vegas, I like to think I'm a kid again. For a few minutes though, I was a dad. I wished I could hug her.

(It's OK, go get a tissue)

After dropping numbnuts off at the Rio, we headed back to the Strip and to the IP.

Home, Shitty, Home.

I'm not sure I can stay there again. I might need to crack the wallet open a little farther next year. Hm....

So I got checked in. Way faster than in any prior year. I think it took all of 15 minutes. I was impressed. I headed towards the Geisha. Ah, the Geisha. Look! The Dealertainers! Pai Gow! For some reason I could never explain, I felt like I was home. Where I was supposed to be.

I saw their faces, and all was right with the world. Jeebus. Hard to believe just 4 years earlier, I didn't really know anyone and now, I see StB and Iggy and I feel like a part of me has been found.

Iggy tells me they are about to get a cab and head to the Sherwood Forest bar thing over at Excalibur. "Can you hold that thought long enough for me to throw my suitcase into my room and come back down?"

They do and we share a cab over to the other end of the Strip. We chat it up and I'm looking forward to hearing about Iggy's trip to God's country in the extreme northern part of Minnesota. So jealous of him. The driver joins in. Good times. We then tried to explain the WPBT to him...don't think he really got it. It's hard to explain.

We find the bar, but not many people are there. I'm starving and I'm about to consume more beer than I ever should. A brand spanking new restaurant is open right next door. Lynard Skynard's. I coulda sworn that gym teacher was dead and most of the members of the band had died in a plane crash. I'm not sure any of them would have approved of this place. My worst dining experience ever in the state of Nevada.

I asked how this works. The tell me it's kinda like a buffet. I'm taken to my table where they hand me a ticket. "What's this for?" "Take that up to the buffet and they get you your food." the greeter tells me. She was cute and I didn't have the heart to tell her that this is much more like a cafeteria.

But it gets better.

I get to the line, now rememember, I've been working/travelling since 6:30 AM CST. I'm starving and I don't want to think real hard. "What would you like sir?", they ask. "What do you have?" They point to the sign. Ugh. Really? You can't tell me? I'm tired. The pork ribs sound tasty..."I'll take the pork ribs," I reply. "How much, in pounds, would you like?" Pounds? "I'd like 4 bones?" I ask. "We don't do it that way. Would you like half a pound or a whole pound?" You are kidding? Have these people never eaten BBQ before? "Half a pound?" They show it to me and the wrap it in paper and place it in a paper tray thingy and then place all of that on a shinny metal tray. It felt like McDonalds.

I get to the next stop on the line. A nice lady tells me these are the sides. They are $5 each. Wow. I just paid $18 for what turns out that half a pound is like 4 bones. (Bones are way easier to count people). Now I need to pick out sides at $5 a pop? Ugh. I'll take mashed potatoes and bread pudding cuz you say it rocks. Probably would have rocked more hot, but who's complaining?

Lastly, they put another paper tray thingy with 3 slices of plain white bread. "How much is that?" I ask. "It's free!" Oh, boy. Free slices of white bread. I feel so lucky. I sit down and then get to order a beer. I order the one I've never heard of, the Lynard Skynard ale. I have very low expectations for this. I figure it's just something shitty relabeled and I'm not disappointed. Rather meh.

The whole time I'm here, not one Skynard song is played.

I eat my food and ask the waitress if they have warm towels or even wetnaps. You remember, I'm eating ribs. "No. There's a sink across the restaurant you can use." Holy shit. This is a good sized restaurant and you want me to walk over there to wash up? I just want to remove tiny layers of sticky while I eat. Helps to keep the silverware from getting gross. I also notice something really strange...the white bread. I don't know what people in other parts of the world do with their bread, but I rarely eat it plain. It's white bread. I look around the table and nothing. No butter. Nothing. I do the only thing I could think of and I poured a little BBQ sauce on it. Not great, but I could eat it. I asked the waitress for butter. She said they didn't have any. Wow. By now, I'm beyond expectations for shitty. She's doing a decent job under the circumstances. I'm just thinking about what idiot got the green light and some cash to do this? This place won't last long. Last I checked, UrbanSpoon still had no one to rate it a star. There are ratings, just no stars.

I gobbled my food, made an exit and headed to the bar.

The rest of the night pretty much looked like this (see below)

More to come...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!!