|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Fun Fact: The Chief Export of Chuck Norris is Pain
I totally can't take credit for that, found it on Fark. I can, however, take credit for the following line:
Gracie: (while sitting playing poker at the IP) Did you know there's a karaoke bar downstairs? We should all go... Wouldn't that be the saddest thing you'd ever see in a karaoke bar?
Me: No, the saddest thing you'll ever see in a karaoke bar is the second chick who trots out "I Will Survive."
Woke up this morning with no need to cocoon into the sleeping bag that's been my banky for the past 48 hours. Thank god, the fever has broken, my appetite is coming back, and I no longer have the flop sweats. Thanks again Patient Zero.
Anyway, I'd like to clear up some Vegas trip misconceptions so long as they're on my mind...
· I was hammered at least five times during the trip, twice by Pablo for reasonably big pots
· I was kidding when I said Mrs. Spaceman made a "terrible call" in our tournament. Here's what happened: I had just knocked Iggy out, and was sitting on about 7000 in chips. I'm on the button and find the hammer. Mrs. Spaceman is UTG and makes it 900 (3X BB) to go. Folds around to me and I bump her to 2500. She calls. Flop is Ace-high, and I check behind her. Turn is another blank (giving me a gutshot draw), and she makes a smallish feeler bet, which I come over the top of with an all-in. I've got her covered by about 2250 at this point, and she goes into the tank. To her credit, she made the right read, made the call with her unimproved pocket Kings, and I missed the gutshot. That's how I lost the table chiplead on a hammer bluff.
· I got clobbered at the Mandalay sports book on both horses and football, but especially on horses. To be fair, I had two genius moments where I made a bet, I told whoever I was with (once with April, once with StB) what I thought was going to happen (not just who'd win), and the horses did precisely what I thought.
· Da Roostah can complain all he wants about me not making time to sit and go through the DRF with him, but I didn't take a whole lot of time to play as it was. Hard to get people to park it in the race book with so much else going on.
· This post is all about a moment to which I'm not sure I can do justice. Still, why not try?
It's the middle of the afternoon at the IP, and I get up to go take a leak. The men's room features a urinal row that's built into a hallway that's closed off at the back end. It's fairly narrow, and I'm not the only one in there. Down at the end there's a smallish Hispanic guy mopping the floor, and about five feet away some old guy. He's drunk.Of course, I get back to the table and have to tell the story, and I manage to utter the "I cannot urinate with you standing right there" line at a very quiet moment, and five tables worth of poker players simultaneously crack up. So, to clear up the misconception, I am not having any problems at all with my urination, elimination, or evacuation.
· I have no idea what THG did all weekend. We flew in together, hung out through our Thursday afternoon nap, and then I spent less than 90 minutes total in the room with him for the remainder of the weekend. I think he slept, but I cannot be sure. Speaking of 90 minutes, that's about how long our drive home from the airport was. I think there were less than 100 words exchanged total, most of them about how good a nap and shower were going to feel.
· Party Boy Al really disappointed me on Thursday night/Friday morning. I was tired of the beating I was taking at the Excalibur tables (Thursday/Friday losses = $500ish total), and thought I'd find Al and Big Mike at Sherwood Forest for a drink at about 2AM. No dice. Someone said they went back to the IP, and I figured the suite was in full effect. So I cabbed it back, and ran into Eva in the lobby. I asked her if the boys were hanging out somewhere, and she said they'd be up and in the suite. It's about 330AM at this point, so I head up to the nineteenth. I run into Big Mike in the hallway, and he's on the way to get some pop from the lobby. I knock, and Royce answers. Al's in bed. No one else is up there. I manage to get Al out of bed, we do a dial-a-shot with Bob at 7AM his time, I talk new world economics with Big Mike for 40 minutes, and then everyone but me wants sleep. Pussies.
· How about a blind item? And no, I'm not telling... Seriously, you didn't think that was going to get back around? I'm amused - a little insulted - but amused.
· Lastly, I know it's been said before, but what's up with bloggers marrying way over their heads? I'm looking at a couple of you in particular. Goddamn guys, way to bring me hope this holiday season. Now, to actually find a woman who enjoys sitting on the couch, watching me read Bloglines, and brushing dog hair off her sweater...
Friday, December 16, 2005
I feel like ass today. Not only am I varying between the flop sweats and feeling like I'm on the border of hypothermia, but I've got this droning soreness in my abdomen that feels like a gas bubble that just won't go away. It's one of three things - gas/constipation (although I'm certainly not lacking for crapping), my appendix infected (WebMD says the pain is on the wrong side of my body for that, so I'm probably clear), or the beginning of a kidney stone. Whee.
I'm home today, and have handicapped the card at Calder, which goes off at 12:30PM EST. I like the following plays:
· Race Three MCL $40K - #4 Cloudynhot ran strong last two out, but was DQ'd both times for bumping and/or cutting off other horses. Let's assume he's learned his lesson.
· Race Four - OC $25K N2X 5f Turf - Best Bet - I really like #5 Military Lass with a morning line of 6-1. The pace sets up for a closer, and Military Lass has shown she's adaptable to both fast and slow fractions on this surface and at this distance. Plus, trainer Scott Lake is 42% with winners in turf sprints over the last five years.
· Race Five - $10K Claim 5.5f - When the chalk is there, you've got to jump all over it. The play is an exacta box with the one and five.
· Race Nine - $10K Claim N2L 5.5f - #4 Xtra Jet is unlikely to face pace pressure, and I like to see that in a front runner on the dirt. The drop in class is a good sign too, especially in a N2L run. 5-2 on the morning line, I wouldn't play it anywhere south of that figure.
· Race Ten - OC $20K N3L 7f - #3 Crazy Caro should respond to dialling down the distance. 3-1 on the morning line, it wouldn't surprise me to see the odds go slightly north of that. His trainer's been too ambitious, and he's got a couple ugly figures on his line. I'm not worried about that, and like this play a lot.
More later, should I find the energy to get out from under this blanket. Blecch.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Totally Mailing It In
There's this dead zone I hit every day at high noon where my computer becomes damn near unusable due to the virus scanner that kicks in. The fucker grinds and grinds for almost an hour, and makes simple tasks like "switching windows" and "bringing up Google" torturous affairs.
Make. Mungo. Mad.
Yes, I could theoretically approach the IT group and ask them to reschedule my scan for, oh, I don't know... after hours perhaps, but I don't actually work for the company on whose campus I sit. I try not to ask many favors and operate on the "suck it up" theory when I feel wronged.
Still, while I can understand the corporate philosophies behind buying barely adequate computers for their staff (buy in bulk, get them on the cheap, can't be having work stuff on a personal machine and vice versa), I think there should be some sort of program where I choose to forego $25 a paycheck and am able to get a machine that isn't dragged to Vic-20 speeds simply by needing to check your email while editing a spreadsheet. Wouldn't you pay $25 every two weeks for a fast machine at work? Isn't $25 a pay period worth it to save the anger and frustration?
Here's what I'd like for my computer to do, both at work and at home (yes, I know some of these are software issues...):
· I'd like for it to trust that I'm on the active window I want to be working in, and not deactivate/switch windows because something in the background is done loading (or for a fucking pop-up).
· I'd like for it to prevent any virus scan from kicking in until the computer has been idle for at least 90 minutes.
· I'd like to fit more than one poker room window on my screen without overlap.
· I'd like to resize the YIM chat windows to whatever the hell size I'd like, thank you very much.
· I'd like for it to not take thirty fucking seconds to activate a menu I swear I just clicked.
· I'd like tabbed browsing in my Windows Explorer searches.
· And I'd like the browser to remember the scripts on certain pages that slow my computer down and just ignore them instead of trying to load them constantly.
It's not much, I swear.
A couple other things, just because I'm marginally irked today as it is:
· Diet Coke tastes like ass. I need to just go back to not drinking pop at all.
· I'm calling it now - I'm going to be a little closer to being sick tomorrow, a little closer than that Friday, be knocked on my ass Saturday and Sunday, and be not quite sick enough to skip work on Monday. Faaaaaantastic.
· Since I both work and live at least 150 miles from my nearest co-worker in my division? No office Xmas party. And whatever happened to getting a Xmas ham from your company? I like ham. I'd eat a ham. I don't remember even getting a card last year. Then again, the least desirable part of working for a small company or small division of a company is having to spend four hours on a Friday night drinking with the people you spend forty hours a week with anyway. Unless, of course, there's a happy ending. Update: My boss is coming out on Friday, and he'll buy me lunch. Usually, I end up getting flap jacks. So I got that going for me. That tidbit is related only to the "Christmas Ham" portion of the above, and has nothing to do with the "happy ending," I assure you.
· There is no fucking "war on Christmas," so can we dial down the rhetoric please? And this whole mentality about blaming the ACLU? Come on. Show me one case where the ACLU has engaged in anti-Christian rhetoric for the sole purpose of encouraging atheism or whatever O'Reilly's ranting about, and I'll eat my shoe.
· I used to free-base Chloraseptic spray as a kid. That cherry flavor took the sting out of the sore throats I'd have. Now, I'm a NyQuil guy top to bottom. Can't wait to dump a double shot of NyQuil on top of a double SoCo Manhattan tonight. Should be perfect for my sleep apnea.
· I'm starting to get some of the Xmas gifts from some of my vendors. I got a large glass jar of mixed nuts, which works for my lifestyle. I'd have had a good use for that vase in college, now I'll probably fill it up with glass beads and put it on a shelf like the suburban lemming I am. After I eat the nuts, that is. I also got a Harry & David basket from another, featuring a couple of pears. I chose to share, but not the pear. I will not share, no not the pear. God knows though that a piece of fruit is likely to send my gastrointestinal system into some sort of shock. I'm fairly confident all the maraschino cherries I've been eating haven't made up for that food group deficiency.
· By the way, did anyone besides me notice how fucking shitty the maraschino cherries were in Vegas? It's like they all ordered them from the discount outlet. Half had pits, they all tasted kinda waxy. Okay, fine. No one else drinks mixed cocktails that require a fruit garnish. I will offer, however, that the only place all weekend that had a decent grapefruit to go with my gin and your greyhounds was the IP's tournament room. I wonder if a salty dog would taste okay with gin...
· Ready to be jealous? I'm a single 30 minute excursion away from being done with Xmas shopping. D.U.N. Done. Even though some of my efforts were as much to get this shopping shit over with as anything, I think I did pretty good all things considered. Now, do I buy something for my boss who's coming in on Friday...?
So very tired... I wish this cold would hit already. I'm just going through the motions today.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
So very, very tired... Gracie made mention that the flu she knew was coming had finally stepped up to bite her in the ass, and I sit and type and bide my time until I end up collapsing under a three-digit fever, impenetrable congestion and the misery of daytime television from under three blankets and an afghan.
I just sneezed. It's coming.
I feel used up this morning, and though I'm tired, I certainly don't feel as thoroughly beaten as I did yesterday afternoon. I loathe the red eye, I cannot sleep through the collapsed nighttime of the eastbound midnighter. I want to immediately write my Senator to have him pass emergency legislation mandating the siesta for somewhere in the 2PM hour today.
So very, very tired. And it's cold here. We're barely breaking double digits, and every knuckle, knee and elbow on my body is aching and adding to the misery.
My bankroll hurts too. It's wailing the plaintive cry of the depleted, and despite only getting 2/3 of the way to my worst-case stop/loss threat level, the bankroll is bruised and battered beyond recognition.
It started early last week. I live in the upstairs unit of a rental home, and when I signed the lease nearly two years ago I was informed I'd be on the hook for a full third of the utilities, due to some square footage calculation the landlord hammered together. I pay less rent, I pay less in utilities, but I do not get to park in the garage. In related news, after brushing my car for the first time in five days yesterday I left the near-foot of snow on my roof intact. After a half an hour of aerodynamic adjustment, my car was rocking the Bobby Brown Gumby cut faded whimsically back to the rear.
I didn't forget where I was going here, it only seems like it. I have to pay my landlord for utilities, and did not receive an itemization of said charges until nearly ten months had passed. If memory serves, I had written a check to cover most of the outstanding bulk, and then had made a mental note to write bigger rent checks every month from that point forward to make sure I would no longer be behind. So instead of $600, I'd write $750 or so, figuring my incurred expenses would be taken care of.
I got my second invoice from the landlord (in month twenty-one of my residency) the other day, and it turns out I had worked up a credit balance of $1,500 after she had paid the utilities with my overage money, and would I like that in a check?
I then got my last Oddjack check on Wednesday, which was egregiously larger than any of my previous, thanks to Gawker Media's willingness to put me on the payroll for two whole months at the end of the run. Add that I'm already done with my Xmas shopping, and I'm walking into Vegas feeling absolutely loaded.
Nice feeling, actually. Others had mentioned you don't want to be broke in Vegas, but I'd add that you don't want to be cheap either.
Still, there's a difference between being cheap and going off the deep end. Raise your hand if you spent over $500 on meals this weekend... Seriously, hands up. No, you can't count spending on your wife or paying off a debt to someone else with a steak. Just on yourself, hands up.
Just me? Yeah, I thought so. How does one spend over $500 on three meals? Here's how...
Lunch at Bertollini's at the Forum Shops at Caesar's. In attendance? Matty, Maigrey, April (who should apply for my Frequent Dining Companion Card for bonus points and deep discounts), Absinthe and Helixx. I owed Matty a bottle of wine (to split) from our PokerStars Blogger Tournament last longer wager, so the Masi Valpolicella it would be. I had the Beef Tenderloin Pizzaiola as my entree, which was about halfway to being truly spectacular. It featured two tenderloin slices stacked atop fried risotto cakes with a topping of stewed tomatoes and peppers. The risotto cakes alone made this worth the money. I hadn't even thought to do something like that with risotto, and now have something else I want to try to add to my repertoire. The steak was acceptable (it's tenderloin and it tasted good), but they didn't include enough of the tomatoes and peppers, and I always thought (erroneously, perhaps) that pizzaiola included melted cheese on top. The addition of cheese would have bumped this up to a solid eight-point-five, but I'll give the entree a seven. As always however, the company at hand made this $112 expense (after tip) well worth the cash.
At the last minute on Friday night I decided to accompany Blood, Prof, April, Maigrey, CJ, Biggestron, TeamScottSmith and Shep to N9ne at the Palms. I had already acquired a solid buzz from my drinking at the MGM poker tables, and was starting to overheat just a bit too, which made me fairly uncomfortable. Still, I couldn't resist a trip into the fabled tables of N9ne, so I tagged along.
The whole of the environment at the Palms (from what I've seen, just walking in and out of N9ne) seems way too hipstery-self-conscious for my tastes. There's something to be said for a good menu and a great meal, but there's also something to be said for austerity in a restaurant. I've been to plenty of steakhouses against whose menus I'd put the one from N9ne, but what turned my head around about N9ne was that they made every effort to give the joint the feel of an upscale club, and I'm unaccustomed to that. The music was loud, the people better looking than me, and the brushed platinum look to the place gave it that neo-industrial hipstery aesthetic that just wasn't appealing. I'm not saying a steakhouse needs to follow the old cherrywood library model of some of the better ones in which I've dined, but I should be able to hear my dinner companions from across the table, and no party of nine should ever have the ends of the table wondering who might be eating with them on the other side.
I don't care if the interior designers are going for quasi-futuristic or throwback plush swank, just give me an opportunity to enjoy the company of those around me without feeling inadequately attractive or straining to hear the conversation, and I'll feel comfortable. I totally didn't get the need to create that club atmosphere at N9ne. I mean, there are places where being Abercrombie-attractive should absolutely buy you more social equity, but shouldn't a restaurant be the place where the palate becomes the equalizer? Especially at $50+ a head? Maybe it's just me, but I can see where maybe not wearing a collared shirt could have you feeling underdressed, but I can't see where being forty pounds heavy should make you feel inadequate for dining purposes.
By the way, I'm not that self-conscious here. It's just hyperbole to get my point across.
Anyway, the food was mostly very good to excellent. I had decided on the lamb when the waiter brought around a specials card featuring monkfish. I fucking adore monkfish, and asked Prof if it would be egregiously piggish of me to skip the planned appetizer and side dish, and instead simply order two entrees. He told me to go for it (negligible price difference), but the thought of eating a fish/lamb combo scuttled that idea. So I started with the Oysters Rockefeller, which were very good. Second-best order of Rockefeller I'd had in Vegas. These were light on the sauce, which was good, but still featured the liqueur that some restaurants choose to drain. Non-drainage is the sign of a knowledgeable chef. Anyway, they were finished with Pernod, which really added a nice depth at the end, and I really enjoyed them.
The entree was Parmesan-encrusted lamb chops, with four nice, thick chops on the plate incredibly soft to the touch. No beef with the flavor on the order, three of my four chops were just spot on perfect and delicious. The fourth was pure fat all the way through, and just remembering the sensation of chewing that big bite of lamb fat in my mouth gives me the chills. Really, really disgusting. The side order was a plate of "skinny fries," which was so heapingly huge that I wouldn't have taken a prop bet to clean the plate even at my hungriest. Good stuff though. Between the fatty chop and the use of the word "Parmesan" (instead of the classier and tastier "Parmagiano-Reggiano") on the menu, those were the only disappointing things about the dinner. The food was good, the service excellent, and the company (per usual) stellar.
I did, however, make myself feel like a complete idiot at dinner. We were talking about CJ's suckout streak, and how some people live out on that sixth sigma of variance for their entire poker career. Biggestron asked "What exactly is six sigma," to which I grabbed a sugar packet and my pen and got halfway in to sketching the bell curve before he said, "No, I mean what percentile are we talking?" I didn't think much of this until someone pointed out the next day that I nearly started to explain six sigma in my pencil-sketch sort of way to a research professor (in science, no less) from a pretty prestigious university. God, do I suck.
Anyway, N9ne gets an 8 of 10, mainly for the ambience deficiencies. Can't knock them too hard for one fatty lamb chop.
I've never spent $250 on a meal before, not even with my ex-wife's taste for meat (and fried food, candy, Coca-Cola, alfredo sauce...) and predilection for fancy restaurants. Even with the two of us on the bill, I'm not sure we ever broke $200. That makes Sunday's dinner a record-setter, that's for sure.
(By the way, I'm not complaining about the price when I total it up. I may have dented my bank roll, but I didn't cripple myself in the process.)
Along for the ride were THG, Bill Rini, the Prof, April (completing the trifecta) and Mr. and Mrs. Human Head. Now, while the love I feel for my poker blogging brethren knows no bounds, I must say that the wives of the bloggers I've had the privilege of meeting are just spectacular women. Two Rachels in particular, Mrs. Spaceman and Mrs. Head, made for terrific company this weekend. I had met Mrs. Head back in June, but don't think I had spent any significant time outside the bar in the MGM with her and Jeremiah. I'm really pleased we got an opportunity to rectify that, especially over a good meal. Mrs. Spaceman I'll get to, if only because she
Anyway, the Heads love food, I love food, and there's no way we're going to let another trip go by without a steak, some wine, and a chance to share each other's company for awhile. We grabbed the rest of the group and chose 3950 in Mandalay over the neighboring Red Square for our dinner.
We got in, and had a drink in the bar while our table was prepared. I picked up the first round, which for seven drinks turned out to be $85. I then asked the bartender for a wine recommendation, and he handed me the wine list. Unfortunately, the wine list featured a bottle of Brunello from my namesake vineyards in Italy, which I promptly had him decant for drinking about an hour from now. I had never bought a hundred dollar bottle in a restaurant before, so another first for me right there.
We eventually were seated and got to hear the Mr. and Mrs. Head origin story over appetizers (Oysters Rockefeller - good, but third best I'd had in Vegas - and Lobster Mac and Cheese which was phenomenal), and took the bartender's selection of the Ribeye steak as the majority choice for dinner at the table. While Prof and the Heads were ambivalent about their feelings on the meal, I was the right combination of drunk and happy to probably rank the experience as the top dining experience I've had in Vegas. Much of that too has got to be due to having a Ribeye, as I rarely take an opportunity to have that cut, and they did a really nice job of barely cooking it through for me. Bloody soft, and I don't mean that in the British sense of the word. Had a little asparagus on the side, and some sorbet and Starbucks to end the meal, so I was satisfied.
Total bill? $223, plus tip brought it to $268. Add my $85 from the bar, and yeah, that was a little pricey.
On the plus side, they provided complimentary toothbrush/paste kits in the bathroom, so I had that going for me. Not to mention a healthy buzz, a wealth of good conversation, and a cab ride to the airport to look forward to.
But I'm still so very, very tired...
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
About the Author
Greatest Hits [archived]
Guinness and Poker
Al Can't Hang
The Cards Speak
Tao of Poker
Tao of Pauly
Scott, Texas' favorite Fat Guy
Only Built 4 Cuban Links
Up For Poker
Ugarte's Poker Grovel
JD's Cheap Thrills
Poker Stars Blog
Vegas Poker Blog
Poker in the Weeds
Nickle And Dimes
Not a Poker Blog
Dispatches From The Culture Wars
Horse Racing Links
Curb My Enthusiasm
Daily Racing Form
They Are At The Post
Tampa Bay Downs
Your Average Horseplayer
Tote Board Brad
Left At The Gate
design by maystar
powered by blogger
Syndicate this site
Online Poker : Visit Dr. Pauly at Tao of Poker for the best written journal on Poker Around. From on-line poker rooms to off-line live tournament coverage including the WSOP.
Las Vegas : The Poker Prof's Las Vegas and Poker Blog is the goto stop for people who come to Sin city to hit the tournaments and poker rooms. From the World Poker Tour to the World Series if it's big poker in Vegas it's blogged here. Home to the Prof's Las Vegas Links Directory.
Utilities Provided By