Monday, December 19, 2016

Who Am I? And How Did I Get Here?

I second straight weekend of poker at MGM National Harbor is in the books.  Although I won a few hands this time around, the results were just as bad as last weekend.   In total, I've played 15 hours of $1/3, and am down just shy of $900.  My confidence is pretty much shot at the moment.  By the end of my Saturday session, for the first time during this stretch, I actually felt like I was playing bad poker.  I'll get to that in a moment . . . but first . . .
This weekend, I decided to stay at the Westin National Harbor.  It was actually my first time ever visiting National Harbor.  The area is currently about a five-by-five square block "entertainment" district, right on the Potomac River, in an area called Oxon Hill, Maryland.   Oxon Hill is a historically depressed area of Prince George's County, just over the D.C. border.  National Harbor began some years ago with the opening of the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center.  Shops, restaurants, additional hotels, and condos followed.  Then came new row homes at the back-end of the neighborhood . . . a Tanger Outlet Center and, of course, MGM Casino.  While the development is still relatively small, it's certainly a fun place to spend a weekend.  There are plenty of dining and bar options.  Friday night, I found an Oyster House, and had beers and fresh oysters.  Saturday night, I actually left the MGM to come back to National Harbor for a steak at a joint called Bond 45, and then found cheap beer two blocks away to watch Saturday Night Football on a big screen.  The National Harbor Circulator is a shuttle bus, run by Reston Limo's, which operates between 11:00 am and 4:00 am, making several stops in National Harbor, the Outlets and the MGM.  It's $5 for an all-day pass, and makes it easy and convenient to spend the weekend at one of the numerous NH hotels, with access to both the casino and the numerous entertainment and dining options in the neighborhood.  The entire area feels very connected, making it, perhaps, a more fun option for a gambling weekend than Atlantic City.

As for the poker . . . well, my run-bad continued Friday night.  It was an action table, with one loose cannon who managed to turn a $300 rebuy into a $3,000 stack.  This kid sat down initially in the 8 seat, bought in for $300, and dumped his stack on the first hand played when he hit a pair of 9's on a 68952 board.  He bet flop, got re-raised on the turn, and re-raised all in on the river against an older gentlemen who, SHOCKINGLY, had a 7 in his hand.  The kid took a seat change to the 1 seat, directly to my right, and rebought.  From then on, he could not miss a hand over the course of the next 3 or 4 hours...
As for P3 . . . he won zero hands the first three hours, before scoring some chips off a triple-barrel bluff.  It was my second triple-barrel of the night.  The first was on my first hand played, when I raised 9 T spades to 15, caught nothing on a 7 high flop, and bet three streets, only to be chased down by a guy hold a small ace when an ace hit the river...
Over the course of the session, I was dealt AQ five times, and caught neither an ace nor a queen on any of the occasions.  I had no premium pocket pairs.  I lost AJ to A5 on an A59 flop.  Still, four hours in, I was only down about $200.  Yet, I had that feeling of dread; like, that when I finally got dealt a hand, it would end up crushing me.  And, sure enough, premonition came to life on the final hand of the night...
After two limps, maniac luck box raises to $17 from the button.  He's sitting on ... well . . . he has me covered (prolly $2,800 or so).  I look down at JJ in the small blind.  I debate raising.  But, perhaps given the way I'd been running, I opt to just call.  We go three to the flop.  All undercards - 9 high (9 5 2, I believe).  Maniac leads for like $35.  I flat, figuring I can just let him hand himself.  Turn is a 6. I check, and he checks back.  River is an 8, making the board. 9 5 2 6 8.  I check again, and villain over bets $150.  The kid has made several bluffs like this before.  I snap call.  he tables  7 2 off, and, just like that, I'm down $400+ for the session.  It's past 1:00 am.  I'm done.  I wish everyone good luck and head back to the hotel . . .
I got an early afternoon start on Saturday, taking a $1/3 seat after a short twenty-minute wait.  I actually manage to win a few hands, and am up just under $100 two hours or so in to my session.  Then, this hand happens:
I call $3 with 77 in late position, and we go 4 to the flop:  5 Q 8.  Middle position bets $10, gets a call from seat ten, an older gentlemen who has barely played a hand in 3 hours.  Marginal spot, but I decide to call and see a turn.  Turn is a beautiful 7.  Middle position bets $20, old buy calls, and I raise to $65.  Old guy calls.  River is a 6, making the final board 5 Q 8 7 6.  This time, old guy leads out for $45.  Any 4 . . . any 9 has me beat.  Pre flop, he checked is option, so harder to put him on any sort of range.  It's only $45 . . . but, still.  This is an older, VERY tight player, who called my raise on the turn, and then lead with a "valuey"-type bet on the river.  He's got to be expecting a call from me, right?  Why am I ever raising the turn and folding to a $45 river bet?  Well, I'm convinced this guy hit the straight.  And, rather than waste $45 to see the flip side of his hole cards, I fold . . .  And, when he mucks, I'm pretty sure I see a Queen.  This puts me on insta-tilt.   Did he take that line with top pair?  Did he have Queens-up?  Or did he have Q 9 or Q4?   In the moment, I'm convinced I made an awful fold for $45....
A few hands later, I look down at 99 and open the action to $17.  I get one call -- from the maniac on my left.  This guy is a dream player.  He plays almost every hand, has dumped at least $800 the past two hours, and keeps telling the table he has another $1,500 in his pocket and is not going anywhere until he "gets his money back."  He starts the hand with slightly under $200.  We go heads up to a Queen-high flop.  I lead out for $35.  And, lag-tard jams $150+ on top.  Are you kidding me?!?!  I tank.  I'm tempted to make the call.  This guy has simply spilled money to the entire table the past few hours (of course, I was like the only guy at the table who did NOT "owe" him money).  It's hard to put this particular player on a queen.  And I've seen him stack off several times prior with medium pocket pairs.... There is a good chance my 99 is good.  Yet, for some reason - shattered confidence, perhaps --  I make a fold.  ATM shows a Queen... It's only 6:00 pm.  But I recognize I'm far removed from my A game (which, in reality, may be like a B or C game to begin with . . .).  I call it a night, down a mere $60... Best session yet at MGM.
In sum, it's been a fairly brutal 15 hours of poker the past two weeks.  I've definitely been running bad.  But I'm not sure if poor play is compounding the results.  But, shooters keep on shooting, right?  I'll be up in Atlantic City at the Borgata for four days after Christmas; and then heading back to MGM for NYE weekend.  I feel like I need to reset my game.  Tighten up a bit; get on some sort of a run.  Things can only get better, right?                      

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Tale of Woe

I played a 6 hour session at MGM NH Saturday night.  It did not go well.  If you follow me on Twitter at @PetePPeters, you likely know this from my post-session Twitter-Tilt-Barrage.  I bought in for a total of $700, and cashed out $272.  I was rivered repeatedly; showed down second best multiple times; missed every draw I chased; "hit" the draws I folded; called with the worst; and folded the best.  Without further ado, and more for my venting benefit than your entertainment, I provide the highlights.
  • Open AK to $15 and get 2 calls.   Flop is 5 A Q.  I bet, get one call.  Turn blanks.  I bet, he calls.  River is a 6.  I bet, he calls.  I show TPTK.  He stares at the board for a solid 5 seconds or so before slow rolling Q6 off-suit.  Off to a flying start.  Immediately add on for $200 (in for $500).
  • Flop top pair and a gut shot. I bet flop and turn before rivering the straight.  Villain leads, I raise, he calls.  We chop.  Top pair would have been good. 
  • Call raise in position with Q 9 spades.  Flop top pair on a Q J 2 board.  Check call flop bet.  Turn is a 9.  Check call.  River blanks.  Check call.  My two-pair loses to QJ.
  • Call a small raise 5 ways with A(d) 4(d).  Flop 3(d) (6)(d) (5)(h).  Open-ended straight draw, A-high flush draw, back door straight flush draw.  Not bad.  I call a flop bet.  Turn blanks.  I check-raise.  He calls.  I miss the river.  He checks, I fire.  He calls with 5 6 off. 
At this point, I'm becoming frustrated; but still having fun.  Beer is helping my disposition.
  • I raise AQ to $17.  5 callers (why not . . .).   Flop is 4 Q T.  I lead for $50.  And get two calls.  I check the turn.  Guy bets in the range of $100 and gets a call.  I fold.  Winner tables 44.  Ok. Pretty standard.  But . . .
  • Very next hand I call a raise with 9 T in position, and flop an up-and-down straight draw multi-way.  A smallish flop bet prices me in and I make the call.  Turn misses.  I'm again priced in by some joker and call.  River blanks.
Add on another $200.  In for $700.
  • Shortly thereafter, I raise KK.  Flop is Q 6 2.  I bet and get action.  Turn x.  I bet and get called.  River is a Q.  Villain leads big.  I fold.  Pretty certain I got chased down with a Q.
  • Open with Q T clubs.  I once again flop an open-ended straight draw and a flush draw.  I bet $25, its raised to $65, and then re-raised to $225.  FML.  I fold my HUGE draw.  I mean, I have not hit one yet, am already down $400, and would have to commit my remaining $300 on this hand.  Other guy calls . . . turn blanks . . . club on the river.  A flopped set beats two pair and my winning flush is in the muck.
  • Play KJ and lose to K9 on a K9x flop.
At this point, I'm properly titled.  Beer has turned from friend of my emotional state to arch enemy.  I send the following text to Lightning and Rob:
Lightning, being the good friend he is, provides his usual excellent advice.  I play on . . .
After a few additional minor losing hands, the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back: 
  • I open AA to $17 from early position and get two calls.  Flop is Q(c) 8(x) 9(c).  I bet $35.  Both players call, of course.  Turn is a 7.  I check (pot control and shitty board).  Villain 1, a typical Crasian-Asian, bets $100.  I'm prepared to call this bet given his table image.  But, then, old guy next to me -- solid player -- CALLS the $100.  I feel like I'm nearly always beat.  I recall the AQ hand above which played out similarly, and where my top pair was crushed by a set of 4's.  Thusly, I fold.  These two fine gentlemen decide to check down the blank on the river.  Crasian tables Q J and old man mutter an "I missed."   
At this point, I grab my remaining $200+ and, for the first time in years, abruptly mutter something about performing a sex act on the game of poker, and storm off from the table. 
Later that night, while enjoying a beer at Tap Sports Bar, I felt sort of bad about my reaction.  I should have handled it better.  This is, after all, my new local poker room.  Reputation is important.  I should have casually gotten up, offered the table a "Nice playing with you all . . ." and wished everyone good luck -- my standard departure routine. But 6 hours of getting kicked in the nuts got the better of me.  I vowed to do better next time the poker gods decide to take a steaming one on my head.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Vegas on the Potomac

Thursday, at 11:00 pm, the new MGM National Harbor opened on the shore of the Potomac River in the D.C. suburb of Oxon, Hill Maryland.    
MGMNH is the third casino to open in the Baltimore/Washington region (well, the 4th if you consider Charles Town), and was hyped for months as the "Gold Standard."  Does it live up to its billing?  I visited Friday and Saturday of opening weekend, and my initial impressions of the casino follow. 
MGMHN opened its doors at 11:00 PM and, according to news reports, by 11:30, it was at capacity and turning visitors away.  I was almost hesitant to visit opening weekend; however, I found myself in need of a few Starwood stays to re-up SPG Platinum, so I decided to spend the weekend at the nearby Westin and take my chances with the crowds.  And so it was early Friday afternoon, and I was in the office trying to bill a few hours, when word broke on several message boards that the casino had no video poker machines on the floor.  Like, none.  Now, if you know me, you can likely imagine my horror at this news.  I knew I was done being productive for the day and decided immediately to sneak out of the office to confirm this tragic news. 
I got to the Westin around 2:30, checked in, and tried to grab an Uber for the 5 mile trip across the river to National Harbor.  Two drivers, however, essentially refused to take me.  Word of the traffic nightmare around the casino had apparently reached the Uber community.  So I hailed a cab, and turned an $8 Uber trip into a $30 taxi ride.  When we reached the Casino, the valet circle / taxi drop off was gridlocked.  It took a solid 20 minutes to move through the line.  I could have hopped out, but I felt bad leaving the driver stuck in the mess I had created for him.  So, I stuck it out for ten minutes before eventually bailing and giving him an extra $10 tip for his trouble.       
Once inside, it took me all of five minutes to locate an entire section of the casino floor dedicated to video poker.  From single hand JOB, BP, DDB, Joker and Deuces Wild, to 10-hand Ultimate X to Spin Poker to 50 and 100-hand machines.  MGMNH has a decent selection at relatively typical payouts for the area.

Given that I have the willpower of a crack addict when it comes to video poker, I sat down immediately before even taking a lap around the joint.  I played a few hours on the hundred-hand machine and eventually hit the nuts:

It was perhaps 5:00 at this point, and I knew ThePokerMeister was seated in a $1/3 game in the adjacent poker room.  Notwithstanding that we live like 5 miles apart, it had been probably a year since I had last seen him (totally my fault, by the way . . .); so I rolled over to say hello.  After a few minutes of catching up, I headed out to finally take a lap around. 
The casino was packed.  The closest comparison was MGM Grand on New Years Eve.  Only, more people; and less space.  The casino floor was a bit smaller than I had expected.  One big rectangle, with no space wasted.  I was anticipating Aria; but it felt (and is) smaller.  In fact, Maryland Live! feels much bigger.  Slot machines were installed so close together that it was sometimes impossible to even pass between rows.  While this may have been due in part to the shear volume of visitors, the floor is still far more dense than most casinos.  In terms of variety, MGMNH has all the newest slots.  Many also have USB Ports, so you can charge your phone while you play - a nice touch.
I counted one bar and two lounges on the casino floor.  Felt Lounge looked particularly classy:

The lounges, however, were packed beyond the point of even trying to get a drink.  If I wanted to grab a beer on the floor, I found myself basically limited to a single bar which, itself, was typically packed 3-deep.  It took a solid 15 minutes to grab a $7 miller lite bottle.  Yes; $7 for a lite beer.  The same price was charged in the poker room (and, presumably, at the $100 black jack tables).  While I understand Maryland law prohibits free drinks, the decision to gauge for booze still seems unjustifiable.  Hopefully, MGM stock will hit the $40's and I can make up my beer costs on the back end...  
Overall, the vibe of the Casino floor was cool.  I would describe it as sort of a mix between Aria and Cosmo.  Table limits were outrageous.  Word was, there were one or two $25 black jack tables; but the cheapest I saw were $50's and $100's.  And even those were 6/5.  LOL as the kids say.
Outside the casino floor is the MGMNH Conservatory, the hotel lobby (and lobby bar), and "The District" -- a mall-like corridor that snakes around half the casino and contains shops, restaurants and the food court.  There are lots of high end options, as well as some more casual places, like Tap (the same bar that exists at MGM Grand next to the poker room).  Unfortunately, for reasons that were never satisfactorily explained, I was not allowed in any of the restaurants in the District (the best explanation I received was that they had run out of food the night before and, in order to ensure that it did not happen again, only guests with reservations were being allowed in).  Even the bars were off limits to Pete Peters.  This put a damper on the evening.  Being left with the prospect of not eating, I opted for a burger at Shake Shack and then suffered from self-loathing the remainder of the night.  Hopefully, access to the restaurants, including Voltaggio Brother's Steak House and Jose Andres Fish, will be much improved during my next visit.
After dinner, it was finally time to hit the poker room.  The list was 80 long at 6:30, but the giant Bravo Board made it easy to track my spot on the list (word is that text messages will be available in the future once the opening crush fades).  The room itself was nice.  Not spectacular; not the vibe of, say, the room at the former Revel.  Hell, I think the style of the room at the Horseshoe Baltimore might even be nicer.  But the room was cool.  And well-run, given the circumstances.  There were certainly a few hiccups.  Drink service was atrocious.  Friday night, I waited an hour for a water that never came.  And Saturday, I paid $7 up front for a miller lite, which came only after 45 minutes and two conversations with the waitress.  And the 25 minute line to cash out at the cage (with one employee servicing players) was a bit beyond the pale.  But, generally speaking, I really liked the room:

After a long session of $1/3 NL, I called it a night and retreated back across the river to the Westin.

I made it back to the casino around 2:30 Saturday afternoon, and decided to take a more extensive tour of the property before gambling.  The casino was even more impressive in the daylight.

I find it's always somewhat hard to fairly review a new property in an initial visit.  This was particularly true this time around, given the overwhelming crowds.  Nevertheless, my initial thoughts on the MGMNH are as follows:
  • MGMNH is a true destination resort.  It's head-and-shoulders above Maryland Live! and The Horseshoe.  I typically can spend a few hours at the latter joints before becoming bored.  Not so at MGMNH.  I can (and did) spend a full weekend.  And I'm looking forward to doing the same again in 4 days.   The property does, as promised, have that "Vegas feel."  While the casino floor is smaller than many (most, perhaps) of the Vegas casinos, the resort as a whole, including restaurants, bars, shopping, theater and hotel, is expansive.  It's big enough that you can stay occupied all day, between gambling, poker, drinks and dinners.  This may be the first regional casino that actually eliminates my urges to drive 4 hours to Atlantic City. 
  • Unfortunately, it's not all fairies and unicorns.  It appears MGMNH is screwing players with the comp system.  At any MGM property in Vegas, $10 coin-in at video poker earns you a point ($5 on slot machines).  A point gets you a certain amount of comps as well as progress along the MLIFE Tier Status.  At MGMNH, however, the best I could tell, it was $20 coin-in per point.  In other words, gambling at National Harbor earns you half the comps and tier credits you'd otherwise earn for the same play at a Vegas property.  I'm not sure why MGM made this decision; and it's somewhat disappointing.  Over the course of the weekend, I earned 1,688 points.  75,000 is needed to reach Gold; and 200,000 for Platinum.  It does not seem feasible to reach these goals simply by grinding at National Harbor.  But, I guess things could be worse.  I suppose the points will at least help reach status, when combined with some trips to Vegas and money spent on filets and cabernets at MGM restaurants
  • The transportation situation is currently a shit storm of epic proportions.  The parking garage was apparently full at several points over the weekend.  And the valet areas are simply gridlocked well into the early morning hours.  I tried to Uber home both nights.  The casino claims to have a designated Uber pick-up spot (much like at Aria and other Vegas properties).  However, both nights, Uber drivers claimed either to be unaware of this spot or unable/unwilling to try and access it.  Friday night, after a brief dispute, I had to meet my driver in the parking garage -- about a 20 minute walk from the designated Uber spot where I was waiting.  And, Saturday night, I was never even able to locate my Uber driver.  I was on the phone with him for 10 minutes, listening to him attempt, unsuccessfully, to describe his location, before my phone died (luckily, the slots have USB ports, as mentioned above!).  Eventually, after having difficulty with a second Uber, I was able to hop in an empty cab and finally get home, albeit at a cost of $30.  Frankly, at 4:00 am, the last thing I want is to battle 40 minutes to find a ride 5 miles back to the hotel.  Hopefully, this situation will be improved in the coming weeks. 
In sum - kudos the MGM on a job well done at National Harbor.    

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Poker Barrister is Dead

I'm making changes.  And I'm starting by rebranding this blog. 
Let's face it, the Poker Barrister was a fraud.  "Tales of Poker, the Law and Degeneracy"?  He only rarely played poker; and even then, usually poorly.  His skills as a barrister too were up for debate.  And, finally, let's be honest, filets and cabernets do not qualify as "degeneracy."  Perhaps the Poker Barrister just got old.  Regardless, as a result, the content of this blog suffered.  Updates of late were scarce, largely because of lack of interesting topics.  In short, the purpose of this internet space had been thwarted.  
But fear not; alas, this blog shall live on, albeit in a slightly different, broader and, hopefully, improved, basis.
There will still be poker and gambling content.  There may even still be the occasional work-related rant.  But there will be more.  As the new subtitle suggests, this blog will touch on other things as well.  Travel.  Sports.  Politics.  Health.  My endeavor is to improve both the quality of the content and the writing.  In the meantime, I'm going to leave the old posts hanging around.
If you followed The Poker Barrister, I hope you'll mourn him briefly, then subscribe here and stick around. 

Moving Forward

I'm trying to move on; trying to accept our reality.  Really, I am.  But he's making it so difficult.
The day after the election, I re-listened to Trump's victory speech.  He sounded Presidential.  He struck the correct tone; his message was on point.  I was hopeful to make the best of what I considered a bad situation.  Maybe his campaign bluster was all an act....
But it's been several weeks, and Trump without a speech writer is still the asshole he was during the campaign.  Putting aside potential appointments like Rudy Gulliani and Stephen Bannon, Trump continues to display the temperament and discipline of a high school bully.  He's spent the past day-and-a-half Tweeting about election fraud, trying to justify his overwhelming loss of the popular vote. 
To what end?  Does he not have more important things to focus on?   Why would a rational adult question the legitimacy of an election he won?  Shouldn't a President have a less fragile ego?  Shouldn't the leader of the free world act less petty?  And why the hell has no-one taken control of his Twitter account
While I want to be optimistic, the President-Elect is making it difficult.  It's hard to have confidence in the President's decision-making when he continues to act like an antagonistic social media bully.  If I were a betting man, I'd wager we, as a country, are pretty fucked . . .

Monday, November 21, 2016

Wheeling and Dealing (and Two Hands of Poker)

I've been driving a G37x for the past 5 years.  I bought it in March 2011.  Before that, I had another G37, sans AWD.  I really loved Infiniti.  Fun to drive; and no issues in nearly a decade.  The maintenance costs sort of sucked, but that's a whole different issue . . .  While I loved the car, due in large part to frequent trips to Atlantic City and Jets games during NFL season, the G37x had just shy of 100,000 miles on it.  Although the note had just been paid off in April, and I was enjoying the absence of a monthly car payment, I figured it was time to look into a new ride.
I had several requirements in purchasing a new car.  First, I did not want to finance it.  I had been saving up loose change for some time, and just wanted to drop a sack of quarters and nickels off at the dealership and be done with it.  This had me leaning towards something far less costly than another Infiniti.  Hell, I wasn't even sure if the Infiniti dealer would even accept change as a form of payment.  My other two requirements were (a) some power; and (b) all wheel drive.  I had gotten use to 300 HP+ and wasn't sure I could deal with a lack of torque.  And, living in D.C., which gets a fair amount of snow, AWD was important. 
I spent several months reading on-line reviews and watching YouTube videos, trying to narrow down my choices.  I considered a Ford Mustang Ecoboost; but the lack of AWD was bothersome.  I considered a Mazda 6; but besides looking cool, it offered neither power nor AWD.  I considered a Honda Accord V6 and a Ford Fusion Sport; but the reviews were not up to snuff.  Eventually, I started focusing in on the Audi A4 and the Acura TLX.  Both checked all the boxes; but were above my target price range, although the Acura only slightly so.  I weighed both for several weeks, and got estimates.  The A4 was clearly the better reviewed car, and had a ton of technology options the Acura did not have.  Eventually, I reached the point of: " . . . what's another $xxxx.xx . . ."  So, I made an appointment to test drive the Audi Saturday, with the intention of dropping off my sack of change if things went well and the price was reasonable.    
In preparation, I left work early Friday and made a trip to the DMV to turn in the lien release on my G37 to get clear title to trade in the car.  To my chagrin, they took my title and promised to send me a "clear" one in the mail within 6 days.  So, despite trying to make sure I had all necessary documentation to pull of a clean transaction over the weekend, I found myself in a worse spot than if I had done nothing.  The 2.5 hours I spent at the DMV waiting was just an added kick to the balls.  Friday evening, with no title in hand, I decided to at least get an appraisal at the local CarMax and see whether they would buy without a title in hand.  The process was easy.  CarMax lived up to its no-hassle billing.  Within 40 minutes, I had an offer in hand, good for 7 days.  And it was at the high end of KBB's estimate for the car.  Unfortunately, they would not buy without the title.  I left, but fully expected to return in a week to (get a new appraisal and) sell.
Saturday morning, I left the Mansion at 8:50 for the appointment at Audi.   I chose the location in Frederick, Maryland over Rockville (which is closer to D.C.).  I figured I might get a better price further out from D.C.; also, the roads in Frederick would provide a better opportunity to open the car up than the congested street's of Rockville.  I hate the car buying process, and was not looking forward to the morning.  I was also anxious to get out to Charles Town to play some poker in the evening.  Nevertheless, everything went smooth, despite the salesman's reluctance, for whatever reason, to actually offer me a price.  He kept quoting the MRSP on the various cars with various options, and would not directly respond with an actual number to my question - "well, how much off MSRP can you offer."  I had done the best due diligence I could.  Unfortunately, there were no Audi dealerships participating on Truecar.com, so I could not get a price evaluation from the site.  And Edmunds "fair price" was only marginally helpful.  The only reasonable piece of information I had was a "sonic, no haggle" price on a similar car from the Rockville Audi Dealership which I was using as a base.  But, since options vary so much car to car on this type of vehicle, even that was only of so much use.
When we got back from the test drive, the manager came over to give me an actual price.  I had a number in mind.  He came back EXACTLY on my number.  I have no feel for how much wiggle room a dealer like Audi actually has; and how much they will really negotiate.  I have a friend in Chicago who has owned two Q5's, and, in his experience, the dealer offered a take-it-or-leave-it offer both times he bought.  So, I countered $500 less; and the offered was quickly accepted.  I said, "damn, you agreed too quickly . . . I left money on the table, huh?"; to which he replied, "well, you offered a fair price, so I accepted . . ."  Who knows.  I'm sure I could have done better; but by how much?  I lacked the inclination to haggle over a few hundred dollars; but, if it were a few thousand, that would suck.  I'll never know...
And that left the matter of my G37.  I figured I'd have to drive it home 30 miles, Uber back to the dealer, and deal with selling it to CarMax after the holidays.  But, to my surprise, the manager said he's take it without title so long as I agreed to mail it in once received.  And, while I was expecting a low-ball offer, Audi came in only $500 less than CarMax - an amount I was not going to spend time worrying about.         
The paperwork was easy since there was no financing, and, after a 40 minute tutorial about the car's features, I was out the door and heading to play some poker.

As for poker . . . Yuk.  It was my first session in about a month.  I started out by chipping up to $330 or so, when the following hand happened:
I call $5 with 75x on the button, and we go 4 to the flop.  Everyone has about $300+ behind.  Flop is 4(c)  6(c)  8(h).  First to act makes it $15.  Second to act raises to like $75.  Third to act tanks, complains, and then calls.  I shove.  Call.  Call.  Call.  $1,200+ pot.  I figure 3rd to act is on a draw, given his tank-call.  Turn is a club.  Sure enough, he hits his flush.  The other two were set over set, bemoaning their misfortune.  I silently rebought, and moved on.
About 30 minutes later, I flopped another straight with 98 against a short stack ($120 or so).  He tables K(c) K(s) . . . flop brings two spades . . . turn is a spade . . . river is a spade.  Flush takes it.  I add on another $100.
Ultimately, I played 6.5 hours until 4:00 am.  At one point, I was in for $800 and felt like The Trooper.... I ended up taking a $230 hit to the roll when I cashed out.  Not the result I was looking for, but I felt I played well, and just got hit by the wrong side of variance.  The poker gods owe me next time out.
Happy Holidays,


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Wagering on Our Reputation

As a twenty year old, I was somewhat politically involved.  I was a full-time college student at SUNY Stony Brook, and a part-time super market employee (I spent Friday and Saturday nights stocking the dairy aisle of the local Waldbaum's for spending money).  I was a political science major; the duly elected President of the Stony Brook chapter of Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law "Fraternity" (yes, sadly, that is a real thing); and a proud member of the College Republicans (this last one may come as a surprise to people who know P3 now).  Despite all this, I still had friends and, for a time, even a girlfriend.  But I digress . . .
Suffice it to say, I was motivated; I was excited for the future; I had goals and ambitions, many of which were centered on law and politics.  As President of the pre-law fraternity, I often organized campus-wide speaking events involving local politicians.  As a member of the college republicans, we campaigned for Republicans running for local and state wide office.  I remember hanging out with actual Congressmen and, as a twenty year old, feeling like I was a part of something important.  I spent several election nights at the local Republican watch party (or, whatever it was called), hanging out with other like-minded people, waiting for the results to come in and the candidates to take the stage for their speeches.  Looking back now, twenty-three years later, I sort of hate my old self.  Or, at the very least, I shake my head in disdain at my naiveté.
Upon graduation, I moved down to Washington, D.C. for law school at George Washington University.  You'd think this would have been a fantastic fit -- law school in the center of the political universe.  Indeed, after my first year, I nearly spent the summer interning for the House of Representatives.  But, ultimately, a minor detail known as "money" sent me back home to Long Island to spend the summer working at the Suffolk County District Attorneys' Office, while living, yet again, with my parents.
I graduated law school in 1998.  Along with my new-found legal knowledge, I graduated with $100,000+ in debt - an almost unreal number for a twenty-four year old (of course, nowadays, I believe a JD from GW costs nearly three times as much).  I spent two years "clerking" for a judge in D.C., making, if I recall, $32,000 a year.  It was hard to live in D.C. on that salary.  And, by the time my clerkship ended, I had added nearly $40,000 in credit card debt to my financial profile.  By that point, any notion of public service was pretty much dead.  And so I did what many young lawyers do - I sold my soul in 2000 and went to work for a big law firm. 
Within two years, I was debt free.  Also, within that relatively short time, my perspective on many things had changed.  I had relatively little motivation to "succeed" professionally; in fact, my only motivations were to bill hours to secure the best bonus; and to have as much fun as humanly possible when I was not working.  My perspective on politics was likewise drastically altered during this period.
I spent only eight months at my first post-clerkship job.  I joined the D.C. office of a national firm head-quartered in Cleveland, Ohio.  It was, pretty much, a sinking ship from the moment I stepped through the door.  One of the D.C. "rainmakers" was a lobbyist and close friend of George W. Bush, and I recall supporting Bush throughout that election process on the thought that, if Bush won the presidency, our office would likely benefit.  The thought of an actual Bush presidency was a minor aside.
But I was gone from that first firm before the election ever took place.  I jumped ship with two partners and one other associate, and we headed across town to join the D.C. office of the one of the biggest firms in the world.  There too, we had somewhat of a horse in the Bush vs. Gore debacle, as one of the Shareholders from the Tallahassee office represented Bush in the post-election litigation.  But, more notably, it was there that I worked in the same office as Jack Abramoff and his team of "lobbyists."  Frankly, I don't even recall personally meeting Jack, aside from seeing him around the office on rare occasions.  But I did get to experience the benefits of our association, as did most of the firm's lawyers.  Jack had a luxury suite at Camden Yards.  Not the law firm; Jack.  Jack had his own suite.  It was behind home plate, and directly adjacent to the Washington Post's suite.  It was one of the various places he and his team would take those in positions of access and power to wield their influence.  Several times a summer, a bus, filled with booze, would take us associates to a game.  It was awesome . . . so long as you did not think too deeply about the basis of this perk.  More often, we'd run into one of Jack's underlings in the lobby at the end of the evening, and they'd invite us out for drinks. They always paid; it wasn't their money.  They always had a "client" to bill the evening to.  I'd be treated to free beers and drunken stories about what these guys did for a living.  The only cost to me -- whatever little optimism I still possessed about this country's political system was crushed.
Now, twenty-plus years after watching election night with the candidates at Republican County Headquarters, I consider myself about as apolitical as a person can be.  At least a few times a month, I'll be on the phone with attorneys from somewhere far away waiting for a conference call to start, and the small talk will inevitably lead to, "so, what's going on in D.C. these days?"  I never know.  I simply don't care.  What's the point?  The system is utterly fucked.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I have not voted in the past two elections, in part because I now consider myself a Democrat and Maryland always goes blue as a matter of course, regardless whether or not I vote.  But more so because of my disillusion with the entire political process.
This year, however, will be different.  I re-registered to vote; and, this afternoon, I'll leave work early to cast a ballot.  Don't misunderstand - my disdain for the process has not changed.  Quite the contrary.  I sit back and think -- "how the fuck did we get to this place?"  As a Democrat, I wonder - "HRC?  This is the best the Party could come up with?"  I'm by no means excited to cast a Clinton vote tonight.  But, I will.  Because, like, the alternative?  What. The. Fuck!    
Given our political system, and the nature of its checks-and-balances, the President is, for the most part, constrained in the impact -- good or bad -- that s/he can have.  President Obama said it best during his (fairly) recent visit to Marc Maron's podcast; to paraphrase, "the best you can hope to achieve is some incremental change . . . to move the needle just a bit."  I'm not as worried as some about the impact a Trump Presidency would have on our country.  Rather, I'm more just embarrassed that it has come to this.  There's not much that can be said about Donald Trump than what has already been said countless times.  In my view, he's a disgrace of a human being.  I don't even get to his policies (assuming he actually has policies).  He's an asshole of a person and that, in my view, should eliminate someone from holding the highest, most prestigious office in the world.  I mean, is Donald Trump the guy you want as this Country's international representative?  Is this what we as a nation have come to?
Obviously, there are many people who disagree.  I'm not sure what Trump supporters base their decisions on.  I'm sure many simply refuse to vote for Clinton, either because she's a woman or because of the supposed crimes she's committed by maintaining work emails on a private server.  Many others, I'm sure, are simply fed up with the establishment's status quo and think that Trump will somehow be a welcome change.  There are, apparently, people who think that eight years of Obama have been a bad thing.  I'm not sure what these folks think Trump is going to do to improve their lives, but, if I were to guess, I'd wager it somehow involves guns, the notion that "all lives matter," and repealing "Obama Care" . . .  And, finally, others likely find accord with Trump's message - he says the things they think.  These are clearly the most frightening lot of the bunch.  I guess everyone is entitled to their voice.  At least these folks are readily identifiable and can be more easily avoided. 

It's no secret that Trump's base is largely comprised of uneducated men.  When it comes to deciding a President, this can't be a good thing.  In a related note, it's also been shocking to witness the role of social media in this campaign season, specifically, the amount of false-information being disseminated across platforms like Facebook and Twitter.  This too plays right in to Trump's base -- people who are unable, or refuse, to look behind the meme and base decisions on fact rather than spin.  Frankly, what I've witnessed on social media these past few months, even from friends and relatives, has been embarrassing.   
I'm going to vote today.  Then I'm going to stay up, nervously, awaiting the election results.  Regardless of the outcome, I'm not sure there will be any real winners among us.  If Clinton wins; cool.  I'm fine with four more years of the same.  And if the misogynistic, egomaniac and likely, mentally ill, former host of Celebrity Apprentice wins this thing, I'll still be fine.  Hell, my consolation prize will likely be more money in my pocket, which is nice.  But if Trump does somehow win this election, I'll spend the next four years living in shame of what we as a country did on this day.             

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Vegas Trip Report

I got back from Vegas yesterday evening, and figured I'd give a brief trip report.  Because I'm slammed at work (or, am I just addicted to work?), I'm going to skip to the highlights.

First, with respect to my goal of reaching MLIFE Platinum at 200,000 tier credits.  Well, I failed.  I landed Friday evening sitting at 178,000.  I played 4 hours of 100-hand VP at $10 a rip and ended up earning only 6,000 points.  Sure, I could have crushed the game Saturday and Sunday and hit 200,000; but I chose to enjoy the rest of the weekend rather than WORKING grinding the machines.  I ended the weekend at 185,000.  It's painful to fall 15,000 short of Platinum.  But I have no regrets.  
Second, I got my NFL/NCAA futures action down (the primary purpose of the trip) as follows: 
Green Bay OVER 11 (-130) $650 to win $500
Kansas City OVER 10.5 (+150) $340 to win $500
Arizona to Win SB $100 at 6/1
Washington to Win NCAA Playoff  $100 at 22/1
FSU to win NCAA Playoff $100 at 15/1
Third . . . Saturday was one of the greatest days I've ever had in Vegas. 
  • It began at 6:30 am.  I roll downstairs, grab coffee, and play some $100 hand VP. 
  • 9:00 -- we begin watching football at the MGM book. 
  • 10:30 -- We roll to Tap Sports Pub at 10:30 for some food and breakfast beers. 
  • 12:00 pm -- Monte Carlo to play the 1 Cent 100-hand machine and enjoy some further adult beverages.
  • 8:00 pm - Hop a cab to SLS for dinner at Bazaar Meats.  A pre-dinner Patron & Club for me and an Old Fashion for MK at the bar before dinner.  Bazaar ends up being . . . an experience.  A stressful experience.  Perhaps I'm an uncultured dolt, but the menu is daunting; and the process of ordering is pressure-filled.  In the end, dinner was just OK -- the food was good, but seemed well overpriced. 
  • 11:30 - cab to Ex Cal for dem pokerz.  We end up playing all night.  MK leaves around 7:30 to shoot craps (seems like a good idea), and I end up playing poker until about 9:00 am.  At some point in this process, AlaskaGal shows up.  I think it was around 3:00 am, but I really can't be sure.

Yes, this is PPP after 16 hours of drinking.  Somehow, I manage to book a decent win:

All told, we play 16 hours of poker Saturday, and I book approximately $1,000 win.   I roll back to my room at the MGM around 9:30 and sleep until 2:00 . . .

And finally, Sunday . . . um, was a weird day, largely because both MK and I were recovering from a brutal 24 hour shit-show.  My day really did not even get started until kick off of the ND game at 5:00.  We hung out at the MGM sportsbook bar, sipping beers and playing VP while watching the ND-Texas game.  My mashing skills were on full display:

After celebratory (comped) shots of Patron (in fact, Rich the bartender comped ALL of our drinks over the course of 3 hours, including MK's even though he was not mashing), at 8:30, we rolled to Craft Steak for dinner.  Our plan was to play poker at Ex Cal again for a second straight all-nighter, and roll directly on to our flight home at 9:00 am Monday morning.  But, sometime in the middle of our bottle of cab, exhaustion set in.  Neither one of us could even finish dinner.  We ended up back up in the room by 12:30 and got a few hours sleep before yesterday's flight home.



Friday, September 2, 2016

Weekend Quickie

It's Labor Day weekend.  I'm skipping out around 2:00 today for a quick trip to Vegas.  Set to arrive late this evening, and flying back east early Monday (like, far too early).  A debaucherous business trip of sorts.   Primary objective is to get down on some NFL futures before the season starts next week.  Secondary objective is to rack up 32,000 MLIFE Points to hit Platinum again.  Taking this trip with my buddy MK.  Our goals further include being up for tomorrow's noon college kick offs (9:00 am local time); playing some pokerz; and, of course, hitting up two prime dinners.  Our last trip, over MLK weekend, during the course of three days, MK and I hit SW Steak, Nobu and Strip Steak - not a bad run of fine dinning (at least, I THINK we hit Nobu.  It's hard to recall.  I believe we began that day with breakfast beers at MGM, rolled to PH for beers and NFL playoffs, then to the Linq for beers and beers; then to Ruths' Chris for a quick wine which, as things tend to happen, turned into a bottle of cabernet, and THEN ended up at Nobu for dinner (which included another bottle of wine).   
All this sounds good in theory; but we'll see how this plays out in reality.  [For] it's been a busy week [u see]; I've been slammed at work and haven't slept more than 5 hours any night this week.  And, in order to take off a few hours early today, I woke up at 4:30 am to get an early start.  I'm hoping to power through festivities on heart, desire and adrenalin.  As we all know, gambling is hard WORK of course.     

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Post Mortem

I'm back from Atlantic City.  And I'm exhausted.  I played more poker this trip than in any other three day stretch. Ever.  Sunday, I put in a 7.5 hour session, beginning early evening.  Monday I spent 11 hours playing the Borgata Deepstack.  And, yesterday, I played a solid 11 hours of cash at Harrah's, divided into a five hour afternoon session, and a six hours post dinner.  The results were less than stellar; but I found the grind more enjoyable than ever.

The midweek cash scene at Harrah's was interesting.   Harrah's is currently running a $250 an hour high hand promo.  They are also giving a $15 food voucher for 5 hours of play.  This led to some fairly crappy games during the day.  Yesterday afternoon, at one point, there were six $2/4 limit tables running, and two short-handed $1/2 games.  The focus was clearly on flopping quads.  I was shocked by the amount of times people asked to be "swipped" in and out of Bravo to see where their hours stood, and how focused people were on getting a free $15 food voucher.  In any event, until late afternoon, the games were barely worth playing.  I sat down at 2:00 yesterday, and the table felt like a scene from Cocoon.  I was the only person under 60; and the only person who did not play at that table every day.  The prevailing discussion focused heavily on food; and, more particularly, what the Diamond Lounge was serving that day, and who they ate with.  And what the Diamond Lounge served the day before; and who they ate with the day before.  And so on and so forth.  

The evening games were a bit better; but still full of regular grinders.  Just younger.  That said, the tables were actually fairly fun.  

I started Sunday's session out fairly card dead for 4 hours or so.  But I found myself down less that $100.  Then I caught some cards. And got pounded.  AJ flopped top pair and had to fold to a turned straight;  Then AA lost to Q6 on a turned two-pair (yes, he called $12 with Q6); KK to flopped set of 4's (saved some money as an A hit the flop, and my flop bet got raised); JJ to a flopped Q.  Ultimately lost $335.

Monday I walked over to Borgata for the 11:00 am Deepstack.  $120 buy-in, 25,000 chips; 25 minute levels.  I spent an hour between noon and 1:00 outside on work calls, but based on the structure, not much damage was done.  I never seemed to get much going and was short-stacked most of the day.  About 6 hours in, I shoved JJ against KK and rivered a J to stay alive.  After that, I did just enough to get by.  Like a cockroach, they could not get rid of me.  Long story short, I lasted 11.5 hours until level 21 at 10,000/20,000/4,000 when I was forced to shove my A 5 and hit AT.  Out 12th out of 220. Fairly unsatisfying score.  Tournament poker seems largely to depend on not doing anything dumb; looking for good spots; and getting lucky.  It's largely 9 hours of boredom followed by an hour or two of excitement.  As one guy commented when we were down to the final two tables: "come on, guys; this is the fun part. We've spent 10 hours listening to people's dumb stories. Now let's play some poker..."  He seemed spot on to me.  I left Borgata at nearly midnight convinced it will be some time before I play another tournament.

Yesterday it was back to cash at Harrah's.  I dug myself a hole in the first session before digging myself out and pulling a small $15 profit.  During the evening session, I dug a $200 hole.  The guy to my immediate right snapped off two of my premium hands, both times with Q2.  Yes, Sunday it was Q6 that cracked my AA.  Last night, Q2.  The first time he cracked my KK with Q2 on a Q29 flop.  Fortunately, I checked the turn and saved a bit of cash. A short while later, he snapped off my JJ with Q2 when a queen hit the flop.  I lost the minimum there, obviously, given the circumstances.  But the fact that he was openly reveling in how he was dominating me with the hand made me want to punch him in the throat.  Ultimately, however, I dug out of the hole and booked a $200 win.

I had one interesting hand during the evening:

I'm 6 hours in, and sitting on about $400.  Crazy table next to us breaks, and we get one of their players.  twenty-ish black kid; sunglasses.  Tatted up.  He had been loud and animated at the other table. So much so he caught my attention numerous times throughout the night.  He's sitting on about $500 when he comes over.  Kid raises to $15 about 4 hands in at the table.  Action comes to me after one caller.  I look down at A(d) K(d).  Having finally gotten my stack back to even (I was in for $400), and the hour getting late, I opt to flat and see a fairly cheap flop.  We get two other callers.  

Flop comes out A(h) 7(d) 3(d).  Bingo.  Kid bets about $50 (things were starting to get hazy at this point in the night, due to it being past 3:00 am and my Corona count running high).   After a fold, I raise to $180.  Folds back to kid who starts flipping out, but eventually calls.  Turn blanks; he checks to me, and I shove $200 more.  Now, he's REALLY flipping out. Stands up; starts yelling about what type of game I'm playing; whether I'm on the draw; why I'm playing so crazy, etc.   My thoughts on the hand where that (a) I was most likely ahead with my Ace given his pre flop raise and the flop; and the redraw to the nutz is always nice; and this kid seemed kind of nuts, so I thought I could induce him to play back at me.  Not really my style to play so aggro and get a $400 stack in the middle with top pair (especially risking 6 hours of work to get my stack back to even); but this seemed to me to be the spot to stick it in.  Ultimately, the kid actually called the $200 on the turn; the river was a 4 of hearts, so my draw misses; kid tables AK for a chop.  Wow.  Pretty gutsy call. Doubt I could have made it if the roles were reversed and I was getting pressured.

Anyway, I quit the game at 4:30 am, had trouble sleeping knowing I had to be up relatively early to drive back to DC, and know I'm exhausted and trying to prepare for tonight's fantasy football draft.  It was a short, but fun, few days from the office.  And I'm already thinking about playing again this weekend.

Friday, August 19, 2016

I Gots Plans (Part Deux)!

I was suppose to be flying out to Vegas Sunday for a week of debauchery.  But, who was I kidding?  An entire WEEK off?  Fat chance.  I cancelled, called an audible, and opted for a safer option.
Assuming I can get a settlement executed today, I'm planning on taking off Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and heading to AC for some pokerz.  This, however, is no small assumption since we've been "negotiating" this agreement since June 2nd and have required no fewer than 6 extensions thus far.  And I put negotiating  in quotes, because I'm not sure that's a fair assessment of the process to date.  It's more like my client makes crazy demands; the other side makes some concessions; my client says "FUCK YOU" and reverts back to original; other side makes greater concessions; my client says "FUCK YOU" . . . and so on and so forth.  Monday night, the eve of the most recent deadline to get a deal finalized, my client pulled the nuclear option (yeah, it was a fun evening for P3, who loves communicating absurd demands at 10:00 pm); the other side shockingly gave in. So, after extending the deadline to today, it appears we have an agreement; but I'll believe it when the releases are signed...  Until then, I'm still considering my plans for next week tentative.
So, assuming we get signatures today, I'm planning on heading out to Columbia, MD Saturday night for Andy Grammar, Train and cold outdoor beverages.  Yes, I know I'm gay . . .  Then, Sunday, I'm making the drive up to AC.  I'm 500 tier credits from Diamond, so I'll knock that out this trip.  I'm planning on playing mainly poker, and saving my sweet, sweet "roll" for my trip to MGM Labor Day, where I'll need to grind out 32,000 more tier credits to hit Platinum again.  Yes, Diamond and Platinum --- liquid degeneracy still flows through my veins.    Borgata is running a deepstack series at 11:00 am during the week, with buy-ins less than $150; so I'll prolly play that during the day Monday and Tuesday, and then grind cash at Harrah's at night (with some smattering of the Devil's game mixed in).  I've locked down reservations at Harrah's for the Jets home game weekends through mid-October already, so I can sacrifice my ADP at this point and not have to worry about grinding cash through the machines.  I'm looking forward to a serious three days of dem pokerz.  I'm hoping the weeknight action is decent at Harrah's . . .   

Monday, August 15, 2016

Let's Get Ready to Duel!

It's August 15th. Just a few more weeks until another season of football is upon us.  In preparation, I'm trying to come up with a strategy to make another run at striking lightning in the weekly $100,000 top prize $5 Fanduel NFL Contest.   I came close last season.  On January 4th, I came in 16th out of 287,356, nabbing a solid $4,400 for my crisp $5 entry fee.  I scored 181 points.  187 took down the $100 grand.  A mere TD from glory.  I've been waiting nearly a year for another shot.
Over the past three years, NCAA Football has actually been by bread and butter.  I've cashed three contests for first place --- a 150 person tourney for $700, and twice, I hit the 1,489 entry ($2 contest) for $1,000+.  Sadly, this year, Fanduel has done away with college contests as part of its effort to navigate the legal / regulatory systems.  So, my 2016 season will focus on Sundays.
My plan is the stick to the $5 contest ($100,000 for first), and fire off a max of 25 entries per week.  Worst-case-disaster-bankroll over the regular season would be $2,000.  I'm going to start the season with $500, however, as I should at least hit some small wins every week to keep the account funded.  I'll be locking down some initial week one entries this weekend.  BRING IT!   

Monday, August 8, 2016

Closing Out Summer

I just got back from a quick 2 day trip to Boulder to see two of my favorite people. The trip started out rocky when I arrived at Avis at DIA and found the line out the door.  After an hour and a half wait, I final got a car.  I pulled out of the car lot and was immediately flagged over by another motorist.  I pulled over, and found out that the car I was given had a flat tire.  I turned around and returned to Avis.  After waiting 15 minutes for someone to check me back in, I returned to the office where the customer service representative filled out an incident/accident report.  Huh?  There was no accident (other than choosing Avis).  This was, according to the rep, standard practice.  Also, I was advised Avis may "try to charge me for the tire."  Um.  Good luck with that, Avis.
In any event, I made it to Boulder mid-afternoon and had a fun two days with this crew:

It's hard to believe it's August.  Summer is soon coming to a close.  I was hoping to take another full week's vacation; but, uncertainty about some court deadlines made it difficult.  Instead, I'm just going to take a few days here and there.  I am, however, making one last trip to Vegas Labor Day weekend.  It will be a quick trip -- arriving late Friday night and returning early Monday morning.  Heading out with my buddy MK for what will likely be a strong three nights of gambling, filets and debauchery.  Of course, I have 168,000 MLIFE points, and am determined to earn the last 32,000 to re-up Platinum for 2017, particularly given Borgata's recent announcement that it is joining MLIFE in 2017.  That, along with MGM National Harbor will provide two quality MLIFE choices on the east coast. 
In the meantime, I plan to spend a few weekends hanging out with friends near the Mansion and catching a few shows. OAR is playing in Columbia, Maryland this Saturday; and Train (my guilty pleasure) plays the following Saturday.  I've got a room locked down at a hotel stumbling distance from the venue for both shows.  There is little else I enjoy more than cold beers and live music on a summer weekend.
And now, back to the grind . . .

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


  • Company owns a two-room warehouse from which it runs its operations. 
  • Warehouse has a single entrance in the front, which leads directly into a lone hallway which dissects the building. 
  • On the left side of the hallway is the door to Room 1; on the right side, the door to Room 2.
  •  Company employs 8 workers who at any given time are divided equally between the two rooms.  Employees in one room are generally unaware of happenings in the other room.
  • On January 1st, the only people in the building are the 8 workers.
  • Later that day, a man enters the building through the front door.  He never leaves.  He's found strangled in the hallway at 5:00.
  • All eight workers are interviewed by police; none claim ever to have seen the man.
  • Prosecutor rules death a homicide; brings murder charges against all 8 workers.  No other charges are filed.  Each employee is tried separately. 
  •  Man's family brings civil suit against the company.
1.    What result would you anticipate from the criminal trials?
2.     What result would you expect from the civil trial?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Sick Days, Jackpots and Double-Ups

Follows is the trip report from the weekend, including my quest to grind 2,500 tier points and some poker content:

I took off for AC Friday at 6:30 am, rolled in to Harrah's by 10:00, and found a spot at one of the four hundred hand VP machines. The quest for 2,500 Tier Credits was afoot.  I started playing the 2 cent game at max pay ($10 a hand).  I was down $400 within 20 minutes.   The variance was pretty insane.   I realized that I could mash 10 hands per minute (the top end of my anticipated range), which meant I could reduce the bet to $5 per hand and still reach 2,500 within a fairly reasonable 8 to 10 hours.  So . . .

I reduced my bet and played a solid 7 hours, running fairly well.  I switched back and forth between Double Double Bonus and Deuces Wild.  I flopped trip deuces 5 times on DW, and trip Aces 3 times on DDB.   I also hit 16 Royals, which paid off $40 each.  By 5:00, when I took a quick break to grab my first beer of the day and to charge my phone, I was down $800 and had earned 1,800 TC's.   After reducing my bet, I had only lost $400 over 6.5 hours.  I'll take it . . .

After the break, I got dealt trip Aces for a 4th time.  It ran out like this:

Whiffed (this was, in fact, one of three times I struck out with monster flops . . . I also missed with trip deuces on DW and four-to-the-royal).

A few minutes later, however, the aces came through:

This was the type of hand I needed to have any hope of actually finishing this grind in the black.  I took a second break shortly thereafter, up $1,000 and with 1,950 TC's

When I returned, I went back to $10 a hand, trying to wrap it up as quickly as possible.   Variance hit again.  It was like the machine knew when I upped my bet and just punished me.   I dropped $450 and took off for dinner with 2,350 TC's and holding a $550 profit.

After dinner and more adult beverages, I finish the job just after 10:00 pm, hitting 2,500 TC's and $650 in the black.  So, had it not been for the Jackpot, the endeavor would have cost $1,100.  
Exhausted; I set out for one last beverage before calling it a night. 
I began Saturday where I had left off.  Mashing.  I earned another 1,000 tier credits, raising my total to just over 14,000 for the year, at a cost of $600.  So, my late afternoon, I was basically even for the trip.  I headed out for the 15 minute walk to Borgata for dinner at Bobby Flay's.  Shockingly, it looked like this:

After dinner, I walked back to Harrah's and finally got into a poker game.  It was 8:00.  It took a short time to assess the table - two nitty Harrah's regulars, two maniacs, and a couple of "club kids."  The maniacs had the game playing somewhat beyond my comfort level, raising and betting nearly every hand with any hand.  I hate these types of game because of the variance.  When it comes to poker, I don't like to gamble.  I leave that to the sweet, sweet VP. Anyway, it became apparent that the main offender was the "gentlemen" in seat 1.  When I sat down, he had an $800 to $1000 stack.  He wore a "wife beater" and was drinking both a Heineken and a shot.  He quickly busted a kid's KK with 84, having called a $20 pre-flop raise.  Based on the kid's angry comments while he was rebuying, this was not the first such hand Seat 1 had played to similar results.
Anyway, the second maniac (who was a Seven Star) who was seated to my immediate right in the three seat left the game after about 20 minutes, leaving only the 1 Seat to pump up the game.  Shortly thereafter, "Frank," one of the degenerate regulars, opened to $22.  It folded to me, and I looked down at AA.  I re-raised to $60, and Frank folded his JJ face up.  I was in the game . . .
A little while later, I got into a hand with seat 2, an older, semi-reg (a diamond member, from out of town, but who I had seen before).  There were several limpers, including Seat 2.  I had AJ in position and raised to $12.  Only Seat 2 called.  The flop was A(s) A(x) 6(s).  I bet $15; seat two flat called.  The turn was the 8(s).  I bet $40. Seat two shoved approximately $180 on top.  At this point, I had seen Seat 2 play one big prior hand.  He had turned Queens-full against Seat 1 and shoved.  I noticed how heavily he was breathing during the hand.  I suspected he had a monster.  Seat 1 called, and was shown the bad news.  Fast forward to my hand.  66 or 88 is possible; but not sure he's shoving his boat when I'm doing all the work on the hand.  Spades or a bluff too.  I look him over and notice the breathing . . .  Same as last time.  Yeah; I've got trip aces and a decent kicker.  I know he does not have a bigger ace.  I don't see what I'm beating given Seat 2's tight play.  His breathing makes this a fairly easy fold.  I actually flashed the ace while mucking.  He showed KJ spades.  I live to look for a better spot.
Shortly thereafter, I find it.  I'm on the button.  Seat 1 does what seat 1 does, and opens to $10 (still sitting on a monster stack0.  It folds to me.  I looked down at AA.  I have approximately $230 behind.  Normally, I'd three bet here.  But, to the extent Seat 1 has been inclined to give up on a hand, it's been when he faces aggression.  With only the blinds behind me (both of whom were tight), I opt to flat and try and trap.  But, surprisingly, the young woman in the BB (sitting on approximately $100) comes along.  Flop is Q(c) K(c) 4(x).  Surprisingly, the girl leads to $23.  Maniac calls and I just call.  My gut tells me the girl flopped top two.  However, I figure if I can get all in against Seat 1, I can still take the side pot to minimize the losses if my read is correct and I'm beat.  The turn blanks and the girl shoved.  Seat one again just calls.  Given stack sizes, I decide to shove, figuring Seat one will have to come along.  I do; and he does.  River is an A giving me trips.  I didn't need it.  Girl had Q6; maniac just mucked; I double my starting stack.
I was able to take a few more hundred off Seat 1 over the course of the evening.  One hand, I had JT and maniac and I saw the board run out A 9 T J K.  I had check called the flop; and check called the turn which gave me two pair (even though I hated it).  I checked the river and Maniac checks his hole cards.  Then he bets $150.  I had played the hand very passive.  I figure he figures he can bluff me off the hand.  Also, his peak at his hole cards was interesting.  I usually don't engage in table talk during hands.  But here I made an exception: "Sir, did you really need to look to see if you had the Queen?"  He smiled awkwardly.  I called.  He mucked.
An hour or so later, I got into a decent sized pot with a tight Asian regular (yes, tight Asians do, apparently, exist)  and Maniac (shocking).  By this point, Maniac had lost his entire $800 to $1000 and had rebought for $200 two more times.  He had his stack back up to $400 or so at this point.  I limp in early position with 77, maniac calls and tight Asian raised to $10.  Call.  Call.  Flop is 7 9 T (rainbow).  I check. Maniac checks.  Asian bets out.  He has about $150 behind.  I opt to flat.  Maniac comes along.  Turn is a 2.  Check. Check.  Asian  checks.  River is a 6.  I check.  Maniac checks. Asian shoves.  I feel like my set is good here.  I don't think Asian raised a hand with an 8 in his range.  And, while Maniac plays any two cards, his line does not have an 8 in it either.  So, I make a pretty easy call.  And Asian flips A(c) 8(c) for the win.  Clearly, I could have played my set differently.  But, under the circumstances, and particularly given Asian's starting stack size, I decided to play it slow with my finger on the fold button. However, as mentioned, based on the way the hand played out, I really did not put an 8 in anyone's hand, so I called down.  Shit happens.
I later took another $100+ off Maniac with KK.  Again, I flatted his open raise.  He started the hand with $200 or so and I figured I could get it all.  He bet the flop, and I just called.  He bet the turn, and had about $130-$140 left.  I figured if I shoved he would not get away from his hand.  So, I did.  Sadly, he actually found the fold button.  I think by this point he had maxed out his ATM limit (when he later busted again, he never came back . . .).  I should have flatted once more . . .
By midnight, my stack was close to $800.  I was getting tired.  And the table composition had changed over.  I had no real reads on anybody.  Also, the Corona Light's were starting to catch up to me.  I looked down at AJ diamonds and raised to $12.  The table showed the utmost respect for my bet, and I was called by only 5 players.  The flop was 885.  Out of position, I could have given up.  I should have given up.  But, that flop looked about as good as it gets for a decent Ace.  So, I fired $50.  Fold.  Fold.  Fold.  Fold.  RE-RAISE ALL IN.  FUCK!!!  There's one in every crowd . . .
I packed it in shortly thereafter, booking a $425 profit:  

I thought about gambooooling a bit more Sunday morning when I woke up.  Ultimately, however, I decided to finish the trip on the winning side for once, and just took off for home. All-in-all, a successful weekend.  Diamond status is all but wrapped up for 2017.  And hopefully my $35,000+ coin in raised my ADP enough to earn comped weekends during fall football season.  My next trip is tentatively booked for Wednesday through Monday or Labor Day Weekend; although I'm hopeful I'll be able to get a few more sessions of $1/2 in before then.
And now . . . back to the real grind.
P.S.  I'm curious what people's thoughts are on an appropriate tip for the hand pay?  I've only hit a couple, and am never sure what is customary under the circumstance.  Thanks.