Happy Wintersday!

I was at work late last night when Ed, who is a manager at the connected Arby’s, along with another man walked up to me. I didn’t know who the other man was, just an older guy, I would have guessed in his sixties. He was wearing work boots, heavy, black jeans, a sweater, a green jacket, and a beanie cap. Ed said, “Hey, Donnie, Phillip is looking for a place to stay tonight.” I was midway through my hotels on Chandler Boulevard monologue before I even knew it. As I ended with the “There is also a Sheraton at the casino across the freeway, but it is a bit expensive.” part, the look of abject horror on Ed’s face, as well as the smile on Phillip’s face told me that I was going the wrong direction with it. “Oh,” I said, “You are just looking for a warm bed for the night?”

“Yeah,” Phillip said as he handed me his I.D. (which I didn’t ask for or require, but he insisted I take), “I just got a ride in from Houston. I’m on my way back to Washington, but there aren’t many trucks running on account of the holiday.”

“Let me see what I can find.” I said to him as I offered him a seat near the payphones.

I don’t live anywhere near where I work, and in I don’t know the first thing about local homeless shelters, but I wanted to find the guy a place to stay. I called the local police department, assuming they would probably know since they are frequently called to escort vagrants from local businesses. Unfortunately, the local police department was for the Gila River Reservation, and they could only give me the number of the Chandler Police Department, who also couldn’t help, but were able to give me the number of the Phoenix police department. After a half a dozen phone calls, I was able to get the numbers of three area shelters. Since it was Christmas, though, each of the shelters informed me that they were already full. The last man I spoke with told me that a local church had opened its doors to shelter the “overflow” from the other shelters and gave me their number. The church was willing to take him in. Great. Except that the church was a good twenty miles away, through the heart of Phoenix. They also gave me the number of an emergency shuttle service to try, but said that it was unlikely they would give him a ride, since it wasn’t an emergency. I called their number but was only able to leave a message, and wasn’t too sure I was even going to get called back so late on Christmas Eve.

After I hung up the phone, I made my way to where Phillip was sitting. I told him that I had found him a place to stay, but that I was still in the process of finding him a way to get there. I offered him a cup of coffee and something to eat. He declined the food, but did get a cup of coffee. I told him he could sit in the restaurant while I found out about his ride, and went back to the phone. I called back the church, but this time I asked for driving directions. If I couldn’t find someone else to take him there, I was going to take him myself after I got off of work. He began to give me directions, then stopped and asked for my phone number. He said he would call me right back.

When he called back, he said that “since it was Christmas Eve” he had called the shuttle service himself and arranged for them to drive Phillip to the church. He then said, “You certainly seem to understand the spirit of Christmas.” I laughed. All I did was make a few phone calls to help a guy find a warm place sleep, and I would have done that regardless of the date on the calendar.

No Limit cash: A tale of two hands

Having enjoyed some success playing stud cash games in all forms (doing exceptionally well in Razz of late), I decided to take another crack at NLHE cash. Because stud games are all played in some form of limit, the amount that you can win or lose on any single hand is minimized. So it was my thinking that if I played a solid NLHE game, I would be able to double my money a lot faster. Well that is true, but I can also stack myself a lot faster.

My cash game got off to a fast start with what is far and away my largest single hand win to date:

And how bad must that have sucked for the other guy?

Unfortunately, that was followed almost immediately by my largest single hand loss to date. I was in the big blind on this hand, and there were two limpers prior to the button. The button put in a raise that made it $1.50 to go (.25/.50 blinds), and was immediately called by the small blind. That put the pot at $4.50, and with a suited 78, I was willing to call a buck to see the flop. The flop gave me every draw known to man, as well as top pair. I bet the pot, which got all but the pf raiser to fold, he went all in. I had him covered (the bet was about $40), but barely, and the huge overbet was just what I would expect from someone with an overpair who knew that there were too many draws on the board. I made the call as a pretty significant favorite, although he did have a better hand when the chips went in.  As often happens in these situations on PokerStars, I was staring at the screen mouth agape and forgot to screenshot it. This pic from a calculator though does nicely since it shows the odds:

A call that I really have to make with an OESFD. Any 4, 7, 8, 9, or heart and I win the hand. A quick look at the math shows that I had two shots at roughly 20 outs, and I managed to miss every one of them.

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… It’s… Little green men?

Let me just start off by saying that I don’t fit the profile. I have a full compliment of teeth, I don’t currently sport a mullet (the flashback of school photos from the 80s is making me cringe), I don’t regularly wear faded overalls or plaid shirts, my house, while it does have a tin roof, does not have wheels, and it never did! So no one was more surprised than me when I saw a UFO this morning.

The stereotype seems to be that only hicks see UFO’s, which I don’t think is actually true; hicks are the only ones that talk about seeing UFO’s. With everyone virtually disregarding the actual meaning of the term as an object that is unidentified, and instead thinking of the little green men in a saucer connotation, I can understand why others would remain silent. I, however, have to write about it, because the whole thing fascinated me.

I am generally a very skeptical person. I like to think that I don’t believe anything that there isn’t pretty solid evidence to support. I think the very same thing about UFO’s: there is no conclusive evidence to support the beings from another world theory, so I have always assumed that the objects were either actual aircraft whose reflections/lights were altered by natural phenomena. But that is so not what I saw today. And my logical self was arguing with my UFO seeing self the entire time I was witnessing it.

I am still not ready to claim that I saw a craft from another planet, but what I saw today did have characteristics that are not seen in any aircraft that I have ever seen (which is not to say that we don’t possess them, and being relatively close to the testing site in Nevada, I think that is the most realistic explanation). I am going to detail what I actually saw as well as my logical mind trying to rationalize it -because honestly I was having fun arguing with myself while tooling down the freeway at 75.

I came up over a hill and had just started down the other side. Ahead and to my right (3 o’clock or so) I saw a bright light, distance was impossible to judge as there were no buildings or other landmarks on the horizon to gauge depth, the same things kept me from being able to make any guess at the scale. It was hovering (I say hover only to mean that it wasn’t moving up or down) and moving slowly from my right to my left. The sun was coming up behind me, so my logical brain assumed that it was most likely a small airplane, probably in a banking turn, reflecting the rising sun. Easy and logical.

The next time I looked to where the light was there was no longer a light shining towards me, instead there were two lights, both as bright as the one I had seen previously, only now one was shining up and one was shining down. This shot my reflection of the sun theory straight to hell -unless this happened to be one of those new geometric planes with the prismatic cabins. Now my logical brain was guessing that it was actually a helicopter. This helicopter, so my logical brain was saying, was using a searchlight on the ground. That would all be well and good, except for the other light shining straight up. Now I was intrigued.

As I continued to watch it move, it switched direction a couple of times. The direction changes were such that it could not have been done by an airplane: it stopped then went the other way. This could have been done by a helicopter, so my logical brain was still telling me that that is what it was. Even so, I started paying a lot more attention to it at this point, mostly hoping that I would be able to conclusively say that it was a helicopter. I simply couldn’t.

As I mentioned, there was a bright light shining up from it and another shining down, but as I watched it further, I saw more lights. There appeared to be dim lights around the edges of it, the shape was elliptical, and brighter lights at either end of it. The lights at each end of it were not continuous, but I can’t say with any certainty whether there were two lights that were each flashing, a series of lights strobing around it, or a single light and the craft itself spinning (although my logical brain discounted this possibility right off the bat). I continued to watch it for several minutes as I drove (I did look at the road occasionally) assuming that at some point I would see … something … that convinced me that it was actually an airplane or helicopter. That didn’t happen.

After having watched it move slowly from right to left, then right, then left, whatever it was made an ascent. That is to say that it shot straight up into the air, with a speed so fast it could have been a bullet. And just like that it was gone.

I certainly don’t know what that thing was. What I do know is that it was not a conventional airplane or helicopter. It absolutely could not have been a balloon either. It was simply an Unidentified Flying Object. And enough to make me think that maybe not everyone who sees one is a crackpot.

NLHE: The woman who beats me, but I always come crawling back

Several weeks ago I made mention of my quest to turn my $1.36 on pokerstars into some serious cash. Admittedly, I thought the odds of doing it were pretty grim, but with the future of online gambling (money transfers specifically) currently up in the air, I wasn’t about to transfer any more funds into it (in fact I had transferred my money out of all sites but pokerstars and full tilt prior to this).

When I started trying to build up my buck, it was exclusively in stud hi-lo, simply because winning there (at micro levels) was fairly simple. It took a couple of weeks, but I was able to build the initial $1.36 to over $50 in low limit stud. At that point I started risking portions of it on NLHE tournaments. There is just something about the atmosphere of the NLHE tournament that just isn’t there in a cash stud game. Of course I was still playing those at low levels as well, with just enough success to keep the bankroll slowly going up.

Last week I also bought into the MATH and WWDN tournaments, which have a combined buy-in of just over half of my total bankroll. I managed to donk out of the MATH early after making simply a horrible call that I don’t want to discuss (the short story is just because someone is playing like a maniac and raising every hand doesn’t mean that they don’t have the cards to back it up -at least some of the time). The WWDN went notably better. I was playing well and getting some cards when I needed to. I managed to also donk out of that one after min-raising from UTG with AKo. It got a call from the big blind, who also happened to have a King, but when the flop was a King and two rags I never put him on an 8 to make two pair. Should have raised it more to push him out preflop. Noted. That cash (sixth place I think) put me right back at 50 bucks.

I am still playing the stud for a while each day, and I am still winning overall, but I am having more losing sessions than I used to, and after an entire week of nothing but stud I am only up about 4 bucks. So I needed to switch gears. Too much of anything can be detremental to my game (as evidenced by my play in NLHE when I was playing it daily). So I decided it was time to try out some HORSE.

I am pretty good at Hold ‘Em (hey, it’s my story), I can hold my own at Omaha, and Stud Hi-Lo has always been my best game. That leaves only Razz and Stud Hi to try to fake my way through, right? Well it turns out that I am not nearly as good as I thought at Hold ‘Em (see, it’s limit Hold ‘Em, a completely different game), and Razz likes to deal me an A23 every hand only to deal four consecutive kings afterwards. Omaha has quickly become my strongest game, and I just try to avoid getting into the hands at all in Stud hi. I have done pretty well so far. In four HORSE games (single table sng), I have finished on the bubble twice, second once, and third once -noting that the bubbles were back to back, followed by third, then second.

So I am having success -at least in the form of not losing any money- at every form of poker except NLHE. So all of the meager winnings from the other forms of poker end up going back to buy ins in NLHE. I do this even knowing that I will need at least a few premium hands, I will need to play solid poker for a couple of hours, and I will have to get lucky at least three times (luck in the form of winning coinflips, though suckouts help too) to have a cash finish. It takes a lot more work, a lot more time, and certainly a lot more money to play in them, but it is so much more gratifying to do well in a NLHE tournament than to stack someone in a stud cash game. Why? You got me.

But all the stud play over the last few weeks has afforded me the ability to play in the MATH yet again. This time I was able to make some plays when I needed to, pick up some cards in good position a couple of times, and, yes, even get lucky a few times. It took two hours to finish the game (I think there were 16 entrants), and I only came in second, but the $84 payday puts my current bankroll at just over $112.

$1.36 to $112 in just over a month. Now if I can just keep increasing it 80x every month I should be golden with a year…