Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fear & Loathing in the Valley of the Sun

I'm not one to waste a three-day weekend.  So, Friday evening, I set out for a little adventure in the desert.  Scottsdale to be precise.  Three days of sun, baseball and, yes, even a little poker.
I landed in PHX around 9:00 pm local time, headed for the rental car counter, and picked up my ride.  Thirty minutes later, I was at the lobby bar with a drink in hand.    
My last trip to Phoenix, three or four years ago, the gentlemen and I stayed at The Biltmore (where we had the pleasure of watching Pedro Martinez attempt to plow young ladies with Pineapple & Vodkas post-game at the hotel bar . . . perhaps a story for another time).  This time, I decided to use some of my 100,000 SPG points and platinum suite-night awards, and free-rolled a Casita Suite at the Phoenician:

Saturday, following an early morning run by Camelback Mountain, I spent the day at the pool:

There's not much better than spending an afternoon poolside in the 97 degree desert heat, floating around with a cold Miller Lite, and enjoying the local "scenery" . . . 
That evening, I headed downtown to watch Wade Miley duel Andrew Cashner:
The roof was open, and it was a great evening for some bases.  In the 5th inning, with a small lead, Miley took a comebacker off the leg.  And, while he shook it off and stayed in the game, he basically blew up his shit and failed to make it out of the inning.  The Padres ending up winning 10-6.  A bad night for my OVER 82.5 season totals bet on the D-Backs . . .
Sunday began with a 5 mile hike in the McDowell Sonoran Mountains.  I rolled into the parking area and witnessed several other groups of people about to venture out.  They had gear.  Like, a lot of gear.  Backpacks, hiking sticks.  And water.  Lots of water.  I felt somewhat ill-prepared.  For my part, I had my IPhone (and OAR's Live from Madison Square Garden queued up) and a half-drunken latte from Starbucks.  Fuck it.  It's the desert.  What could go wrong?

I made it just more than half-way around the mountain trail.  I was trying to run as much of it as possible, which was tricky given the terrain.  Then, it happened.  In the distance, I saw two very "in shape" women who were also running some of the trail.  I tried to catch up.  I found myself with a crap load of momentum rounding a corner and tackling a dip.  My left foot caught a rock.  Suddenly I was parallel to the trail.  Airborne.  Face plant.
I busted up my leg and left wrist; but otherwise, I walked away relatively unscathed.  It could have been much worse.  I could have easily landed on one of the many large, jagged rocks and broken something or knocked myself silly.  Or, the two women ahead of me could have witnessed my tumble.  I walked the remainder of the hike . . .
Sunday afternoon was spent at the pool.  Then, it was time for some poker.  I programmed Google Maps to Talking Stick Resort, and by 6:00 pm I was on the wait list for a $2/3 spread game.

The poker room had a decent set up.  Lots of space and plenty of TV's.  Yet, there was something somewhat depressing about the room.  Maybe it was the local crowd, many of whom looked like they should be spending their buy-ins elsewhere on more important things.
I bought in for the max ($300):
I had never seen $2/3 spread before.  Apparently, Arizona does not allow no limit games.  I had a basic understanding of what the game meant (basically, it played the same as no-limit, except that the maximum bet was capped at $300).  This, however, did not stop me from asking the gentlemen next to me, and loud enough for most of the table to hear: "so, what exactly is $2/3 spread?" 
The game was wild.  Much like my experience in South Florida last summer.   Lots of very big raises with relatively bad holdings -- $80 or $90 preflop raises would routinely be called.  The raisers would show hands like Q9 off, and the callers would have a weak Ace.  Money was flying around the table.  I kept my head down.  I was able to limp in late with 45, turned a straight, and got paid off.  I also hit the nut flush with A4 hearts.  The hand was somewhat interesting.  It was limped 5 ways.  I was second to act.  The flop was JTT with two hearts.  It checked around.  The turn was the 5 of hearts (giving me the flush).  First to act bet $20, and three of us called.  The river was an 8, putting several straights on the board as well.  Original bettor again lead out, this time for $45.  There were two players behind me (one of whom was very good).  Clearly, I'm beating a hell of a lot here.  The eight could have been a great card for me.  In the end, I choose not to re-raise (particularly with two behind).  Unfortunately, both folded and I won the minimum.  I took some stares from the table.  Clearly, any one of these maniacs would have shipped the river in that spot.  I don't think my play was terrible.  Although, as mentioned many times before, I sort of suck at poker...
I had a second big hand about thirty minutes later.  I had just gone for a walk around the casino in search of Ms. Kitty and/or her good friend Mr. Cashman (neither were present).  When I returned, I had just missed my big blind.  I bought the button for $5.  6 people limped in and the action came back around for my option.  I glance at my cards: two red AA.  Sweet.  I bumped it up to $22 and got two callers.  Seems reasonable.  Flop came down QTx with two spades.  I'm first to act, and I'm not messing around.  I bomb just under the pot -- $60.  Fold, fold.... 
In the end, I won just under $200 . . . and promptly pissed nearly all of it away on Oysters, Cabernet and a filet at J&G Steakhouse back at the resort.  Easy come . . .           
Monday morning I woke up early . . . again . . . when for a run, and then checked out "Old Town Scottsdale."  Cool little town:

Later, after some additional pool time, it was back to Chase Field for game 2 of the D-Backs' Memorial Day double header.  And, more psyched I could not have been -- my fantasy ace, and overall stud, Yu Darvis was on the mound for the Rangers.

Yu did not disappoint.  He gave up hits on his first two pitches, and promptly fell behind 2-0.  Then Yu did what Yu do -- 14 K's in 8 1/3 innings.  Mixing in his cutter . . . hitting 97 on the gun with his fastball . . . throwing the slider mid 80's . . . and working in a 66 MPH change up.  Just wicked.  Unfortunately, with a 4-2 lead in the eighth, he made one mistake to Didi Gregorious (I thought he was just a glove?) and left with a no decision.  The D-Backs went on to win the game with a walk off single in the 9th.  I listened to that play in the rental car on the way back to Sky Harbor, hustling to catch the 11:30 red eye back east.
This morning, I had a layover in Charlotte.  I boarded the 7:30 am flight to D.C., got to my middle seat, and found an open can of ginger ale in the aisle seat.  Shortly before take off, some chick who looked like a beaten Russian prostitute takes the seat.  She pulls her hoodie over her head, sips from the can, and constantly fidgets.  She's clearly ill.  I think she has SARS.  Fucken great.  I try to hold my breath for the fifty-nine minute flight, but it's no use.  I can't do it.  Russian Hooker spends most of the flight with her head down on the tray table . . . still fidgeting non-stop.  The old lady in the seat in front of her must be about to go bat shit.  But at least she's not being exposed to the SARS like me.  So, now, back in the office, I'm just waiting to contract a disease with no known cure.  My lungs are starting to ache already.  I have no idea what the incubation period is, but this is sooner than expected.  It could all just be in my head....  I hope so.  Because this weekend is the annual "gentlemen's bases" trip -- we're heading down to South Beach for a few nights at the Fountain Blue to see the Mets play one of the few teams in the league they may actually beat.  Looking forward to the beach scene as well.  A stiff case of SARS would be a bummer.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Greatest. Weekend. Ever.

I left the office in D.C. Friday night at 6:00pm and got back in the office this morning (Monday) at 9:00 am.  In between, this happened:


And, as Sunday drew to a close, I cashed this:

. . . which [nearly] paid for dinner here:

. . . and followed it up with a few glasses of Malbec here:

 . . . and then hit McCarren for the Red Eye back to D.C. at 11:59 pm. 

After sleeping a grand total of ZERO (0) hours Saturday night, I was asleep before the plane left the gate . . .

Not a bad way to spend a weekend.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Fuck Poker

Seriously, fuck poker.

After three years of fairly regular play, I conclude that $1/2 NL is bullshit.  Pure bullshit.  It's a fun game to play on occasion; but it's a roll of the dice.  It's bingo.  The Government is right; at least at low limits, poker is a simple game of pure chance.

I played an hour at MGM tonight, and got stacked for my third consecutive session of $1/2.  I sat around 1:00am with $200 and quickly ran it to $330 after picking off a couple of bluffs.  Then, in two hands, I lost it all.  The first hand I raised a limper to $10 with KJ.  Flop was K47.  Villain was short stacked.  He checked, I bet, he called.  Turn was another K.  He bet, I shoved (putting him all in for another $40 or so), and he slow rolls pocket 44 for the boat.  OK.  Nice hand.

The very next hand I raise 4 limpers to $14 with TT.  All call.  Flop is K5T with two hearts.  It checks to me and I bet $45 One caller.   Turn is a small heart.  Villain leads for $45.  I look at his stack and see about $60 red birds.  I shove.  He tanks and calls, and after a blank on the river, turns over 63 hearts for the flush.  And, bonus for me, he had two $100 bills under his stack, which I didn't even notice (use to playing east coast where cash does not play).  Stacked in two hands.

I guess the lesson is to start playing 63 suited for $14 preflop.  And then calling $45 on the flop with a six-fucken-high flush draw.  Or, maybe I should be calling raises with J3 or T2 (the hands that beat me last session at Borgata).

I mean, if I'm not getting beat by jackasses playing and hitting shit hands, I'm getting bluffed off pots by jackasses "value-betting" (in their own minds) mediocre hands (e.g., the dude who check raised my low straight on the river at Showboat a few weeks ago, with three to a flush and a higher straight on the board, and showed two pair...).

I might as well grind the Tarzan slot machine . . .

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

50 and Counting

Ticket Master released some additional "cheap seats" this morning for Saturday's show at MGM Arena -- a mere $250 face value.  It's the Stones, and Keith Richards might be dead in 6 months (assuming he's still actually alive).  So, I pulled the trigger.  Seats in the same section, same row are currently selling on Stub Hub for $1,300.  Insane.
Worse case scenario, I can scalp the ticket, grab the $777.00 combo below for dinner at Le Burger Brasserie at Paris, and still have enough left over for a $1/2 buy-in next door at Bally's

Vegas.  What a town. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Quickie in the Desert

I logged on to my USAIRWAYS account this morning and, out of pure curiosity, checked out how many miles a trip to Vegas would cost this weekend.  24,000 miles for the 8:35 pm direct Friday night and the 11:59pm redeye Sunday night.  A mere 24,000 miles.  Um.  OK.  You have me somewhat interested.
Logged on to my MLIFE account next.  Three free nights at NY, NY.   Interest level RED.
Checked the weather at www.noaa.gov:  90's and sunny Saturday/Sunday.  Of course.
End result, ten minutes later, I'm leaving for the desert in three days . . .  I mean, there really was no choice.  Only question now is whether to take the comp at NY, NY or spend a little cash and stay at a place with a decent pool and better looking hookers.       
Monday morning at the office is going to suck... hard.  But, you only live once . . .