Thursday, May 29, 2008

How Can I Resist?

My buddy Mike turns 40 in July and is celebrating his birthday in Vegas. Over the weekend he asked me if I wanted to head out with him and another poker buddy since we all had such a good time in Biloxi. I wanted to go, but I just didn't think it would work out.

3 things tipped the scales in favor of "yes" for me. First, Chris the buzzsaw would have his own room separate from us and spare us the snoring. Second, Mike had some good discounts that we could use. Bally's was giving him Friday and Saturday night for free and only charging $40 for Sunday. He also had a free companion ticket through his Delta AMEX and said we could just split the total. He booked our tickets and my half of the room and airfare will be around $275 for 3 nights. SWEET! Third and most important, Stacie said it was cool for me to go, especially at the price. My wife rocks, yo.

Our plans are to play a little cash Hold 'em, maybe a tourney, some Pai Gow (for drinking time) and he may see some Ultimate Fighting. I would like to visit Chad, my Vegas buddy, while I'm out there. I'm sure it will be packed, but if he and his wife are around we can hit the lake and I can try wakeboarding again. I will be arriving in Vegas on Friday, July 4th around 4PM and flying back Monday afternoon about 3 PM. Let me know if anyone else will be there at the same time and wants to meet up for a meal or just to say "Hi."

Insert random sign off phrase here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Well That Didn't Go As Planned

I can't recap much, because I didn't last very long. It was great to meet ISS Spock. Unfortunately for him, he fell victim to the long distance commute curse and was our Gigli. I went out shortly after him and spent the next few hours playing host until the cash game started.

Surflexus absolutely owned me during the cash game. If I called, he had me. If I folded, he showed the bluff. A few crucial hands with him and APOSEC72 changed me from doubling up to losing half of my buy-in.

Since we stayed up so late, Spock and I didn't take a long ride in north GA on Sunday. Instead, I took him around the area and through Buckhead for a few hours tour. I'm hoping he enjoyed his trip up and meeting some of the other ATL bloggers like Weak (who's back to blogging now) and Kaj.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

ATL Big Game

Stacie is taking her mother to Savannah for the long weekend so I thought it would be a perfect time to have some people over to sling chips in the basement. I enjoyed Kajagugu's deep stack bigger buy-in from a couple of months ago and decided I would like to do something similar. This time, the buy-in will be a hundo including the bounty on each person. I think the structure I created should allow us to go at least 4 hours with room to play some real poker. Well for those that know how at least. We will also have Foosball and a .25/.50 cash game as players bust.

We are on for late Saturday afternoon. I am hoping for at least 14 players including some of Atlanta's finest. We have the following heavyweights scheduled:

Surflexus - Maybe he will give us an early scoop on his high stakes plans

Kajagugu - I guess it takes a c-note to get him over to our hood!

Weak_Player - It's always nice to have the high roller come around and take our money with him on his next trip to Vegas.

APOSEC72 - Fresh off of his Bodog final table.

ISS Spock - Not technically an ATL blogger, but our favorite evil Vulcan from the Wheatie is living in Georgia now. He is going to ride his motorcycle up and I'm borrowing one for the weekend. Hopefully we can get in a ride in the north GA mountains on Sunday. I am thrilled that he will be able to make it and I'm glad he can meet some of the guys he used to play against on a weekly basis.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sausalito and San Fran Recap

We usually do bed and breakfast places or medium priced chain hotels when we travel. Our last trip to San Francisco did not give us a great night's sleep while we were in a downtown B&B. Stacie found a nice place to stay in a quieter part of town on this visit. We made Pacific Heights our base and stayed at the Hotel Drisco. Well played babe! This place had the best service we have ever experienced. It really was one of those places that had no problem getting you what you asked for and recommending things you didn't know were available. It is conveniently located a few blocks from the entrance to the Presidio, my favorite part of SF.

Our first order of business was to visit Muir Woods. We did not have enough time to visit last time so made plans to hit it early. It is a short distance north of the Golden Gate Bridge. When we got to the parking lot, I realized it was not the park I was thinking it was. We went in to the gift shop and looked at books on the park. It was a very nice park, but we had just spent a few days in redwoods already so it was nothing new. I was thinking this was where the Giant Sequoias were. You know, the place where you can drive cars through the trees. Oops, I was only off by 250 miles. We will have to do this when we come back for Yosemite some time in the future. I'm sure Muir Woods is a great place to visit if you are sticking closer to the city, but we decided to go do new stuff instead.
On the way back south, we stopped and did a little of the Marin Headlands area in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area near Sausalito. This place was huge and we could have easily spent a day here with all of the hikes. We just did the stuff we could drive to and then went in to Sausalito for lunch.

For activities this time, we spent most of our time in the northwest corner. We walked around Golden Gate Park, hiked trails near the Legion of Honor and had a drink at The Beach Chalet Brewery.
The food in the city was great and it was easy to find good Italian within walking distance. We now have another awesome dish to try and recreate. We had carpaccio di zucchini at Jackson Fillmore Trattoria. This stuff was the bomb. We also really enjoyed our entres, but I don't remember what they were since the appetizer was so fantastic.
Photo dump:
Obligatory cable car shot with Alcatraz in the background.
Stacie at the beach entrance of Golden Gate Park.
Japanese Tea Garden
Palace of Fine Arts. The easily recognized dome is on the other side. It was being pressure washed so it didn't make for a good picture.
Taking a break on Cliff Trail over by the Legion of Honor.

How's that for a driveway?
Here is some info I gave Jordan for his upcoming visit, so I figured I would share it with the rest of you:
San Francisco is a cool place to visit. The first time we went (10 years ago), we rented bicycles from Blazing Saddles and rode from Fisherman's Wharf all the way over to Sausalito. We went through the Presidio, Crissy Field, Fort Point, over the Golden Gate bridge and in to Sausalito. We had a meal there and then took the ferry back to Fisherman's wharf. I had a blast. Stacie did except for riding bikes over the bridge. She did not like that at all. She would have been better if we just walked the bikes over the bridge because she is terrified of heights and I can be a little tight when you have a speeding biker coming at you from the opposite direction.

Walking around SF can be plenty, but if you want to go on some nice trails with good views of the bridge, go to area around the Legion of Honor. It is the northwest corner of the city on the Pacific Ocean side.

I had been before for business without Stacie and went to Alcatraz with some work buddies. I thought it was very interesting. Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill gives you good views of the city. Tip: the Japanese Tea Gardens in Golden Gate Park has free entrance on M,W, and F from 9AM - 10AM, otherwise it's $4 per person.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey

I love this shot of Stacie sitting in a chair in the Big Sur river. There were tons of them set up behind a hotel in Big Sur.

When we left Big Sur, we headed north to Carmel-by-the-Sea. In Carmel, we stayed at the Cobblestone Inn. It was where we spent part of our honeymoon and we had fond memories of the place. Bow-chika-wow-wow. The room was smaller than I remember, but the price was still good and Stacie loved the afternoon wine and cheese. Carmel is a neat little village for walking and viewing all of the different architecture. It has a great sandy beach for relaxing but the water is way too cold to get in for us southern folk. We drove out to Clint Eastwood's Mission Ranch and toured the Carmel Mission.

After a few nights in Carmel, we headed back to San Francisco. Along the way, we stopped in Monterey for lunch and did some walking around. If you go to the Coast Guard pier / dock you can get very close to the sea lions. We were close enough to easily touch them, but that probably wouldn't be a good idea. I never realized how much they stink, but then again, I had never been that close. At the end of the pier was a "nursery" packed thick with dozens of young sea lions playing and learning in the water. That place was a little hard on the nose so you don't want to hang around very long.

Next up, Sausalito and San Fran.

Kickin' It OTP

That's outside the perimeter for those of you not from the ATL. People always ask me what it's like to live in the suburbs at Atlanta. I tell them it just like this:

Monday, May 12, 2008

Big Sur and Point Lobos

It usually takes me a couple of weeks to get my trip reports together. The first part is deleting about 100 photos. This is the good / bad part of digital cameras. You can take tons of pictures to get the shot you like best, but then you have about half of them to discard.

We flew in to San Francisco on Saturday a couple of weeks ago. We picked up our obscenely cheap rental car (a Malibu for $120 total for 8 days from ghetto rentals, Wahoo!) and drove south to the Big Sur area. We took 101 for a while and then made our way over to Hwy 1. The drive down Hwy 1 is just fantastic. It has the great coastline views and a few cool landmarks like Bixby Creek Bridge.

For the first few nights, we stayed at the Big Sur Lodge in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Man, did we sleep great here. Nice big comfy beds and it had a great fan in the room for white noise. The park is quiet and thick with tall redwoods. From the lodge, there is a short and easy walking trail that leads to Pfeiffer Falls. There are also other trails that take you through all of the ginormous trees and gives you views of the valley.

The first place out of the park I wanted to go was McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. It is located about 10 miles south of the lodge. It is a cool roadside waterfall that drops down to the beach and into the ocean. The regular trail was closed for repair until a week after we left, but this is the view we had from a scenic overlook. The views are best in the late afternoon and around sunset.

We spent all of our time outdoors hiking and site seeing. The temperature was cool with strong winds, but fortunately sunny. I thought I packed for the weather, but after a chilly initial day my ears were getting too cold and I had to buy a hoodie. Now properly dressed, we did a nice hike in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park that took us to the top of the shoreline hills. It was a strenuous hike, but gave us a great view of the area and a close encounter with a California condor. This is what we looked over while we had our picnic lunch.

The eating choices in Big Sur were much better than we were expecting but also more expensive. There are quite a few little restaurants and diners. I had one of the best meals of my life at Big Sur Roadhouse. It was a terrific butternut squash ravioli with toasted pumpkin seeds in some whatever sauce. Eating this kind of stuff is a huge step in my culinary advancement. I don't normally go for the fru-fru dishes, but this one was awesome. Stacie enjoyed a couple fine meals as well.

We attempted to tour the Point Sur Lighthouse that is on top of an old vocanic formation but it was way too cold and windy. The temp was between 30 and 40 with winds reaching 50 MPH. This 3 hour tour would have probably ended up a well as Gilligan's.

After spending a few days in Big Sur, we traveled back north to Carmel and stopped at one of our favorite places, Point Lobos State Reserve. It has been called "the greatest meeting of land and water in the world." At least 1/4 of the park's wonderful scenery is under water. We don't SCUBA so we'll have to take their word for it. For the land lubbers, it has great short hikes and you can see beatiful rugged landscape with cypresses and a wide variety of wildlife. This time of year you can see both harbor seals and sea otters with their babies. Stacie just absolutely loves sea otters. I'm talking, squeals like a little girl loves 'em. The best viewing place for them is Whaler's Cove. At Sea Lion Point, You can't help but hear sea lions on the rocks right off of the shore. They can be easily seen with low powered binoculars. We then hiked south to Bird Island and called it a day. If you are ever in the area, it is well worth spending at least 4 hours here.

Up next in chapter 2, Carmel and Sausalito.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

California Trip Report - Part 1

Fortunately for us going through security went smooth. I guess the TSA Gangtaz weren't on shift yet. This is funny, but the language is NSFW.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Just Playing Crazy

I had a blast in the Bodonkey this week. I decided to see alot of flops early when they were cheap. This paid off as I doubled up early when I flopped a straight flush draw and hit the flush on the turn. This put me in an even looser mood. I had no problem limping with suited connectors and hit 2 more straight flush draw flops. I quickly gave back half of my stack when I hit the straight on my second draw with a paired board. On the river, there was a half pot bet, raise (pokerpeaker), then I pushed over the top since I had them both covered and my head up my ass. The original raiser had a boat that was higher than peaker's and I've got nothing but a handful of Johnson.

So now I'm knocked back to around a little more than a starting stack. I get KK under the gun and raise it. It fold around to the big blind and he calls. The flop comes with an Ace and I c-bet it. I'm trying not to be scared everytime an A hits while I have pocket Kings. The BB calls, but I keep at it and when another A hits on the river, I think it's even less likely that he has one. The only thing less likely is me getting my shit together in these situations. So he shows his 3 Aces and I get knocked down a little more.

I made a comment to my fun nemesis, Love_Elf, that we didn't need another set over set situation again. As soon as I typed it, I was dealt pocket sixes and hit another on a Jack high flop. I bet in to her and shen thought for a little while and then folded. I told her that if she had pocket Jacks there I was going to puke.

Another bad play of mine during the night came against Elf. It was just the 2 of us heads up and I flop a flush draw with an A on the board. I suck at the details, but basically she min raised and I called with the intent of firing another bullet on the river to get her to fold a weak Ace. I talked myself out of it when I started to think that she might have 2 pair. I didn't test her like I should have and I looked like a big ole donkey. There were so many things that I did wrong in that hand that I hope I learned at least a little there.

Now I'm a shorty and pooooosh with the almight A,5 and Elf wakes up with JJ in the big blind. I swear I'm just going to start copying and pasting my old posts, because the stories are all the same. JJ works for everyone but me! She even hit another to kill my 3 outs.

I am going to jinx myself here and say that I will final table next week. I don't think I'm mathematically eliminated from the TOC just yet, so that's something to continue to shoot for. Even if I don't make the TOC, winning 109 tournament dollars will get me back above my initial investment.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Home Game Options

One of the advantages of meeting so many Atlanta poker bloggers is the availability of home games. Last Friday night was one of the rare occasions that I had a choice of 2 games. 23Skidoo and Kajagugu were each having a game. Kaj lives about 3 or 4 miles away versus the 45+ minute commute to the Skidoo Man Cave, so I did the local game. I had my usual good fortune in his neighborhood and was able to pad my live roll enough to cover the game I'm hosting over Memorial Day.

We had 11 players for the 1st game but didn't have to seat more than 10 at once since we had a late player show up after our first bust out. After losing a good chunk of my stack early on, I tightened up just enough to bubble.

I stuck around and we played a second game. This one got off to a wild and wooly start. This is a home game that can see a ton of limpers to the flop so in the first hand of the game I called from the cutoff with A,9 suited. The flop came out K,9,9. Wahoo! With 5 or six of us in the pot, I was just waiting for a bettor. Nope, it checks around to me so I check as well. Fortunately, the button puts in a bet. This generates 2 folds and a call before it gets to me. I put in my check raise for about half of my stack and this runs off the button but not David. Hmmmmm. No way he has K,9 or Kings. I'm thinking he has a connecting 9, so my kicker is gold. The turn is a 7 and we both get all of our money in the pot. He sees I have him out kicked but then notices that he has 9,7 for the turned boat. Brutal. As I start counting my outs for a chop (hey, I'm not greedy), I hit an Ace on the river for the win with my bigger boat. We all agreed to allow David to rebuy since he went out in the first hand with such dramatic fashion. On the very next hand we lost another player with all-in boat over boat.

With the benefit of doubling my stack early, I was able to pick my spots and be more aggressive with them. I might have been a little too aggressive in one hand, but I'm still on the fence about how I played it. Alan raised all-in (6-8X the big blind I think) from second position and was called by Kaj in the middle. I'm in the big blind with pocket Aces and decide to push over the top so I only have to worry about beating one player. My pair holds up against his pocket nines and I collect another bounty. I guess I have gotten so gun shy with pocket Aces that I really don't know how to play them very well.

I was able to ride my chip lead to the final three but then lost most of it pretty quick. I dropped to 3rd place as a shorty but kept up the aggression. I had the benefit of winning hands or my opponents folding. A double up and some steals later, I was back in the chip lead and held on to it for a no-chop win. This was a nice little cash with bounties and as usual, I had a great time with my other "home" game crowd.

I was invited to go to the Braves' game on Sunday, but I couldn't go because I had someone coming over to look at buying my motorcycle. He liked it and wrote me a check for ernest money. He is picking it up on Wednesday evening. I'm sure I will miss it, but I can always borrow or rent one when I make my infrequent rides that lasts longer than 2 hours. No fear, I won't be without a 2 wheeler for long. I know I will lose the small amount of cool points that I have when I purchase a 250 scooter in the coming weeks. I am buying it for running errands and commuting to work when Stacie and I don't carpool. It will be automatic and get about 60 MPG, so it should help cut down on the money I spend for gas. Thank God I already have a hot wife, 'cuz I don't think I will be quite the chick magnet while I'm sporting my Vespa knockoff.