|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
I'm booked! Bob and I are headed to Vegas the second weekend in December. Whoo hoo!
For the first few summers and winters I came home from college, I worked in a spring factory doing some absolutely mind-numbing work. When one is harnessed to a punch press for eight hours doing repetitive labor, one’s mind has a tendency to wander. And one of my recurring fantasies has always been winning one of those absurdly huge lottery jackpots.
Would life really be that much easier with all that money? Depends on who you ask. But who wouldn’t trade a beating, a drugging, a mugging, and a burglary for $314 million?
Since those factory days, I’ve always thought periodically about what I’d do with a huge pile of cash. I’ve fantasized about having a huge mansion in my home town, maybe a ranch near Jackson, Wyoming, or possibly disappearing into a small town in Italy to live in a villa near vineyards and an active farmer’s market.
But whatever I’d end up doing, I’m absolutely positive I’d be doing an awful lot of gambling.
Whether horses, poker, sports, or casino gambling, I’ve really grown quite attached to putting a few bucks out there on various things. But I’m low stakes. Real low stakes. I’ve never had more than $250 in my account at PartyPoker, I don’t really care about having a “properly equipped” bankroll (that 300BB margin) to attack Limit games, and the only reason I prefer $2/$4 to $.5/$1 is due to slightly “smarter” opponent play at that level.
What I’m trying to say is that it’s never been about the money for me. Well, let me rephrase that. It’s never been about how much money I can make gambling. It’s the action.
Let’s say I was worth $300 million. Now, assuming I’m worth roughly what I’m making now, the bankrolls I take on my rare casino trips would translate to $750k per trip.
Now, obviously, I wouldn’t be walking all over Vegas like I did last time looking for $5 blackjack tables, but I guarantee you I wouldn’t be betting $1k a hand, let alone $500 per. I don’t think I’d be sitting $100/$200 Limit, and I don’t think I’d need $1k on a horse race or NFL game to enjoy it more.
I like the win, and I like the action, but the action doesn’t mean more to me if I’m risking more. I really and honestly don’t care how much I win, so long as I can feel smart for making the choices that lead up to the win. That’s why I love the horses the way that I do. There’s just so much information to digest, and on those rare occasions that you can, from your hard work, discern exactly how a race will be run and watch it unfold just the way you thought, well, you feel like an honest-to-god Boy Genius.
And the beats? I don’t care how much money I have on a horse race or in a poker hand, they all hurt the same. As a matter of fact, let’s set up the BG Gambling Anger-o-mometer to measure exactly how pissed off I’m capable of getting (with some everyday stuff thrown in there for perspective):
Measured, of course, on a scale of 1-10.
0.1 – The grocery store is out of my brand of coffee, and I’m forced to buy a bag of inferior beans
0.5 – Trying to limp with crap from EP, being forced to fold to a raise pre-flop
1.0 – Three minutes worth of watching Bill O’Reilly couch his opinion/Fox’s company line as fact-based reporting
1.5 – Folding pocket Jacks when overcards hit a flop
2.0 – Checking my order as I’m leaving the drive-thru, and being forced to return the sandwich they screwed up inside at the counter
2.5 – Taking a flier on a horse for dubious reasons, and watching the chalk come in instead
3.0 – Women with unorganized purses that pay with exact change or by check in supermarket lines
3.5 – Watching someone take a handicapped parking spot without a permit, and jog into the grocery store (add 1.5 points if they are driving a “nice” car that they just want an extra-wide parking spot for)
4.0 – Getting an email from the ex-wife
4.5 – Trying to find a horse to wager on at a track like Bay Meadows where seven may be entered, six may be running, and no one on the board is worse than 5/1
5.0 – Outsmarting yourself by doing trifecta wheels rather than boxes, and watching the one possibility you didn’t account for across the four horses you liked materialize, paying off big
5.5 – A bad call or botched play that costs you those extra points you needed to cover the spread
6.0 – People in service industries who make you feel like you’re an inconvenience when you’re simply asking for basic service
6.5 – Inexplicably low exacta and trifecta payoffs when the chalk doesn’t finish first and you hit your ticket
7.0 – SUVs that drive way too fast for the road conditions, passing you doing 75MPH in the winter
7.5 – Watching a jockey who doesn’t try hard enough in the last furlong for third place who lets a horse or two by in the final strides, ruining your exotic wager
8.0 – Watching a jockey take a proven back-of-the-pack runner and burn him out over the first half of the track trying to take the lead, only to watch every horse in the field, predictably, pass him down the stretch
8.5 – The “Hey, they were suited” argument after they called your substantial pre-flop raise
9.0 – Watching the horse you just bet on at a harness track break stride before the gate even pulls away
9.5 – Runner-runner suckouts when you are in an initial position of overwhelming dominance
10.0 – Runner-runner suckouts when you are in an initial position of overwhelming dominance with the suckout artist celebrating like he just scored a touchdown when he spikes his two-outer.
Back on the horse
Fifteen minutes at the 25NL PartyPoker tables, and I’m down $23. I’m not sure if the guy who took my cash made a good play, or played a good hand semi-weakly. Well, probably a good play, as he got my money, that’s for sure.
Here’s the hand…
I see Ace Five of hearts in late position, and choose to limp. Not a lot of pre-flop raising at this table, and four of us see the flop.
The flop comes Ace Eight Five with two spades. The first two check to me, and I bet $1 against the $1.90 in the pot. Fold/fold back to the guy on my right who raises to $3.
Now, this is PartyPoker. The raise felt like a test. At that moment, I figured him for an Ace-something, but only top pair, or maybe something like KQ of spades, giving him a draw to the nut flush.
I went over the top pushing all-in. He seemed to think about it (god knows why) before calling…
Damn. I felt like I was in a position where I needed to slam the door shut with the best hand at the time, not push into a better hand with a draw.
Rather than trying to work my way back up, I just logged off. $23 was plenty for me to lose last night, thankyouverymuch…
Just some stuff
I was hooked Sunday night. I watched most of “Extreme Makeover” where they took a family and gave them a new home. I gotta tell you, sometimes reality TV can really get it right, and it did last night. The family involved was a widower and his eight kids, who were living in about 1400 square feet and three bedrooms. The family was just chock full of good people, all the kids seemed remarkably mature and well-adjusted (especially considering their mom had passed four years prior), and despite their situation, they loved each other and didn’t complain about sharing rooms or pitching in or anything. The show really helped you fall in love with this family, and it was very, very emotional when they saw the whole town come out to support them getting the home of their dreams.
Good things should happen to good people.
Carter and I had a few minutes to talk on Saturday, and he was lamenting the fact that he doesn’t have an anonymous blog, and asked how this was working out for me. Apparently, he made his mom cry once with a family-related post, and stuff like that will absolutely prevent one from trying to get too personal again. No one likes to make their momma cry.
Look, having anonymity here really isn’t all that important in the wide scope of things. In reality, there’s only one person I can think of that I really wouldn’t want reading this site, but I have my sneaking suspicions she does anyway. But as long as I don’t know that for certain, and as long as I can imagine that I’m floating all this stuff out here to people who don’t really know me, I feel like I can be more open. And that’s what’s important. If you’ve read me at all over weeks or months, it’s obvious that there’s stuff in my head that I haven’t been able to emotionally reconcile, and I’m not just talking about my marriage. That’s only a small part of it. If I could pay for a therapist, I’d probably go, but since I like to spend my money on other things, I just spill out whatever happens to be circulating in my head at the time. And I’ve always been a guy whose past mistakes really gnaw at him.
And writing them down really helps me try to get them out of my head. That’s all.
So the anonymity thing is really as much a crutch for me as anything else. I can lean on it to pretend that I’m protected enough to say anything I want or need to, and that’s good enough for me. If I were really concerned about keeping my anonymity fully, I never would have met other bloggers personally. That’s the short and the long of it.
By the way, Carter tried to also give me one of those “Sack up and get over it” speeches, when he misinterpreted my comment about how a girl in the crowd Saturday reminded me of an old crush as wistful flagellation, and not something that really felt warm and happy being reminded of an old friend (she’s far more old friend than old crush). That being said, yes, there’s a certain amount of “Sack up and get over it” that probably needs to be beaten into my head. No biggie.
I’m terribly glad my sports betting site was down when I tried to make my deposit prior to leaving Saturday morning. This seemed to be one of those easy weeks in the NFL, and I hoped to take advantage. As my performance in the Pauly point spread pick ‘em game indicates, I would have lost money for certain. If those spreads look too good to be true, they probably are.
I think I still would have taken Houston and New Orleans to cover though.
So my Lions are 2-1, which is one win north of where I figured they’d be going into the bye week. Their week two win over the Texans looks a helluva lot better with that Houston victory this week over Kansas City, by the way. Basically, our defense is bad without Boss Bailey, worse without Dre Bly, and even worse going with Bracey rather than Brian Walker at safety, even though neither are a good answer to the question marks at that spot. On offense, that Charles Rogers injury really hurts, especially because teams have been loading up against our run game and forcing Joey to beat them through the air. Now that Roy Williams has proven he’s a significant threat, they’ll back off our run game a touch, but it’s going to get much more difficult to throw the ball.
Now, if we can just teach Kevin Jones to wait for his blockers…
In my fantasy league (the one I’ve been in for years), I put up a monster week, thanks to the Minnesota Vikings offense and the Baltimore defense. I had Culpepper, Moss, and Onterrio Smith combine for nearly 90 points, got another 19 from the Baltimore D, and barely needed Chad Johnson and the rest of my team to suit up to carry the win.
That being said, I lost Rich Gannon, my only backup QB, for six weeks and am unlikely to land Kerry Collins to replace him due to being at the bottom of the waiver wire. That leaves me with either Mark Brunell or Josh McCown starting next week, depending on who I manage to land. I also lost my second TE of the season, Erron Kinney, to some sort of hamstring injury. I had already put Todd Heap on the shelf, so this was annoying. To make matters worse, the under-performing Charlie Garner blew out his knee, thereby ending his season.
With Minnesota’s bye week this week, my lineup will look something like this:
QB – Brunell (if I don’t get Collins, this is the likely pickup)
RB – Chris Brown, and either Steven Jackson or Tony Hollings
WR – Chad Johnson, Brandon Lloyd (assuming he’s playing), Keary Colbert
TE – Jeb Putzier (if I land him in free agency tomorrow)
I’ll be lucky to hang 80 points after this week’s 159 point effort. Good bye undefeated season!
Once Minnesota’s off their bye week, I’ll be looking loads better. I’ve got Onterrio Smith and Michael Bennett, and with Kevin Jones shelved, Artose Pinner should see 18-25 carries the next few weeks. Tony Hollings might be the starter if Domanick Davis is shelved too. I just need to cross my fingers that Chris Brown and Michael Bennett stay healthy, and that maybe one of my backup RBs (Pinner, Hollings, S.Jackson) ascends to be a starter, as I don’t have the depth to make a trade for even a serviceable starter.
You know, fantasy football is funny. Were it not for fantasy football, I’d have no real reason to root for Marshall Faulk to blow out a knee.
This is Bullshit
Of course, Microsoft is blaming this on spammers, but in reality it’s pure money grubbing. Why shouldn’t their free email client integrate with their system-default email program? I mean, if I’m using Windows (and frankly, who isn’t), I get a free email program from Microsoft. And the only free web email client that works with their free email program is Hotmail.
So, as of now, there’s a huge disincentive to use Hotmail. I’m closing mine down, that’s all there is to it.
Anyone have a Gmail invite they want to kick my way?
Sunday, September 26, 2004
Day Trip to Philly
Wow, am I tired.
In a very unlike me scenario, I've had stuff to do three weekends in a row. Bachelor party - Wedding - Bash at the Boathouse. I'm looking so forward to having a weekend coming up where I have absolutely nothing on the agenda, and can spend it relaxed and easy.
So it's 3PM, I left Al's haunt in Malvern, The Boathouse about fourteen hours ago, and have traveled 800 miles in the interim. By the way, did you know you can get an 815AM slice of pepperoni at the airport in Philly? Thank god. I was operating on an empty stomach since 130PM Saturday. I could give a shit that the slice cost me $4. It was good.
But I know you aren't coming by to see how I am now, you want to hear about yesterday. All right, here goes.
First off, I had a terrific time, and just want to thank my host and hostess, the Can't Hang family, for their graciousness and generosity.
Second of all, it's all true. Everything you thought you were thinking, were guessing you knew, and were convinced couldn't be just urban legend about the Al Can't Hang crew is all true. Very, very true.
I got up early for my 820AM flight out of Grand Rapids, which landed me in Chicago at 750AM. I was starving and hadn't bought a bagel in Grand Rapids, so I got to re-live those 30 minutes of my life, rectifying my past mistakes, and getting the bagel I needed to start my day. You know, if I could just put my senior year in high school in Chicago, and have the ability to fly out there and re-live every incident that crawls up my ass on a weekly basis... imagine the possibilities. Anyway, I was traveling with a digital voice recorder in lieu of a notepad, the first time I had used the thing for real, and found myself talking into it in public. Feeling dumb as hell in the process. You almost want to preface each remark with the phrase "mental note..."
So I get to Philly at Noon, and find Dr. Pauly waiting for me at the bottom of the escalator. As we're waiting for Mrs. Can't Hang to drive back around and pick us up at the curb, he tells me about the night before at the Borgata. Basically, Pauly, Al, and the Mrs. all lost at poker, but the Mrs. ended up hitting a $1200 slot win, which of course means she's amply covered Al's poker losses. As usual, I suppose. Pauly also told me that Grubby didn't look anything like he thought he would ("I mean, he eats Wendy's every day... shouldn't he be huge?"), and that Helixx got carded with his babyface, despite being a 30 some odd year old father of two. Oh, and that Carter should be joining us at the Boathouse later.
So the lovely Mrs. CH picks us up, and we've got an hour to kill before Derek will be coming in by train. I suggest that I might be hungry, and have my last meal for the next 20 hours, a real Philadelphia cheese steak.
From Delaware. Don't ask. But it was tasty.
After grabbing Derek from the depot, we went straight to the Boathouse, where Internet Celebrity (TM) Al Can't Hang was already in pre-bash preparations.
And yes, by "pre-bash preparations," I mean "doing shots with Lewey, Big Mike, and others at 2PM.
So with Pauly, Derek, Al, and myself all under one roof, how long do you think it took to get a poker game started? I think they measure frames of time like this one using the Heisenberg Principle, or Occham's Razor, or something. Needless to say, in less than 30 minutes, we had a game going.
I'll leave the "who was in what seat" and "who won/lost what" to Pauly's capable hands. I'm just going to pass along some highlights...
>> Big Mike and Lewey were good guys, with Big Mike looking like a younger member of the Siragusa family. Lewey was half crocked when we started at 330PM, and let's just say it kept going for him from there. Other than those two, Derek, Pauly, Al, and I started the game, and we rotated Landow in upon his arrival, and welcomed Brian and JW in at different times during our nearly five hour session. We all bought in for $40, and played $.25/$.50 blinds, NL ring game style.
>> First hand out of the chute (340PM), Al takes me for about $10 when he goes runner-runner on his flush draw to suck out on my two pair. I didn't see the north side of $40 again until approximately 7PM.
>> (From my voice recorder) "Took Lewey for $18.50 on a suckout with a 10, thank fucking god all-in (laughter in the background)." I would win my share of all-in battles, but was shortstacked every time I was in that position.
>> Pauly's two pair (with something-Nine, two Kings and a Nine on the board) bluffs Al's made set with a bad kicker right the hell out of the pot. Pauly was proud, and well on his way to a helluva day.
>> I surreptitiously played a hand blind from LP, putting in a $3 raise pre-flop. Only Lewey called. Flop came something like K32 with two spades. Lewey was first post-flop and pushed all-in. I said, "Shit, I'd better look at these before I decide," and saw 56 of spades. Announcing that I was feeling lucky, I called (I had him covered, with $12 left in my stack otherwise) and didn't catch. Now I was low man.
>> Pauly spikes a 10 to burn Lewey's 88, and takes a $50 pot off of him.
>> Doubled up against Big Mike with QQ. He had 9T and caught a Ten on the flop, I pushed, he followed, back up around $30.
>> Big Mike and Pauly decide to both play blind against an extremely short stacked Lewey. Preflop they both just called Lewey, but post flop Big Mike decides to push his short stack in - blind. Pauly, also blind, calls. They flip, and Pauly's 68 caught two pair. Neither had anything else, and Pauly won $56 on a lark, putting both Big Mike and Lewey in a rebuy scenario.
>> (From my voice recorder) "Pauly is cleaning up." His TT versus Al's 44, and Al gets knocked to zero. Pauly was sitting real pretty at this point. By the way, this is probably the two hour mark, and Derek hasn't seen one turn card, and only saw one flop - that from the big blind.
>> Derek finally plays a hand - 25o as a lark. Board flops the wheel, and tosses him a 6 for good measure. He doubled up against Pauly, who had caught two pair with A4 in the hole. Way to get it started.
>> (From my voice recorder) "Three hours, twenty minutes into the game, and 140 dollars... $160? (Lewey: "I don't know...") $160, and Lewey admits drunkenly that he's the biggest bleeder we've ever seen at the poker table (Lewey: "Yes I am!")."
>> Lewey's belligerent, and the quote from Al is, "When I'm the voice of reason, we've got a problem." By the way, these guys have been drinking for about five hours, and doing shots and Irish Car Bombs as fast as the bartenders can pour them. "Lewey's belligerent" is starting to be an understatement.
>> Lewey's one decent play of the night, moving all-in after catching two pair and getting a call from Pauly, is blown when Pauly spikes an Ace on the river to make a higher two pair. Pauly had Ace-something, and Lewey had J7. Flop came J75, they both went all-in. The board paired the five on the turn, and hit the Ace on the river. I think Lewey's going to be signing a pink slip over to Pauly by 3AM if this keeps up.
>> Finally up double digits (hit the $50 mark for my stack). My JJ saw an AK8 flop, which was mercifully checked around, and then the third Jack on the turn. It took me awhile, but I've battled back nicely from $12.
>> (From my voice recorder) "Four hours into the game, and $210 down, Lewey just now announces he's going on tilt."
>> Played from 340PM - 807PM, when Lewey's spilled beer on the table is reason enough to stop the insanity. I end up +$18, and Pauly well north of that. Al was up marginally, but left us a little early to keep putting the night together. Derek at least doubled up too. I just wish that I had gotten a bit more of Lewey's cash, but whatareyougonnado?
So, thus ended the poker game. It was nuts. Lewey and Big Mike are confirmed maniacs, calling you down with bottom pair if they've hit. Raising to thin the herd does nothing in this game, and I'm thinking Derek had the right idea, just waiting for big slick or rockets to push.
The party started, and was still raging when Pauly and I left at 1AM. Bands, beer, and more SoCo than one might shake a stick at. Here's a few highlights of the bash...
>> Carter showed up around 9PM, and was operating on less than an hour of sleep across his last 24-36 hours. He apparently spent 22 hours at the poker tables at the Borgata. That's dedication. Nice guy, it was my pleasure to meet him. He passed out (from being tired, not from alcohol) at about midnight on a bench on the patio of the bar. That was amusing. As was his willingness to eat nachos off of a random nacho plate we just happened to be standing by.
>> While one of the bands was playing "Sweet Home Alabama," which I hate as a redneck anthem, this was on the local news.
>> Carter, while working the room, found himself at a table outside with three women, one of whom was the Alpha Bitch of the bunch. I came to play wingman, and it was apparent that he was looking for a reason to ditch out on these women as soon as he had an out. Unfortunately, he left me there with them and took off. The Alpha Bitch was an abrasive brunette with jagged teeth and a piercing not on her nose, not on her lip, but on the patch of skin a good half inch above the corner of her mouth. She told me, "It's a Monroe." To which I said, "After former President James Monroe, obviously." Of course, dumb people don't understand sarcastic absurd humor, and she didn't find me funny. So I decided to be a dick. The Alpha Bitch asked me, in a really nasty tone, "So, what's your story." I simply replied, "Nine long, two around," making the measurements with my hands as to leave no confusion. She said, "Well, my man is much bigger around than that." The last thing I said to her, in response to that before the women got up and left was, "Well, you must create a hell of a vacuum when you're walking around." It took her a minute, she got pissed off, and I was free of that garbage.
>> One truth I figured out early in regards to the women at this party was this... Bad Asses. Some pretty girls, some nice racks, but a whole boatload of bad asses all around. One girl, even though she had a bad ass, had this terrific smile that reminded me of my senior year crush in high school, with whom I got to be really good friends instead. Her smile always warmed me up, and this girl looked just like mine from the side. It was hard not to stare. I tried (with Carter's help) to get her and her friend to sit down with us and have a beer, but they were busy with the costumes of the Al Can't Hang Experience, the 80s hair metal tribute band closing the show. Never did talk to her again that night. Oh well.
>> I have never seen guys drink like Al and his boys. Every time I turned around, they were drinking another SoCo shot. And another. And another. Oy. They're trained professionals kids, DO NOT try this at home.
I was telling Pauly this morning on the way to the airport that Saturday happened exactly as I thought it would. I had talked to Al enough online, and had seen pics of him and his wife online that I felt like I knew them already. And so it was comfortable and cool. I expected to see a lot of drinking, hear some bar bands, play some poker, and not get nearly enough sleep for my tastes. That's exactly what I got. And it was fun.
Much thanks goes to the Can't Hangs for the unexpected hotel room hook up. That was terrific of you guys. Thanks again for a great weekend.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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