Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Big 5-0

On October 26th I celebrated my 50th birthday. I had been dreading the approach of it as I just do not like birthdays that have zeros in them and to be quite honest I usually let my birthday come and go with no fanfare and just kind of keep it to myself with a quiet night at home. I had planned the very same thing on this particular birthday as well, but ManInBlack decided that was not going to be the case.

Although Joe had already given me a birthday present earlier in the month he decided that I was playing poker on my birthday. Now he didn't care if I went and played my league game at the sports bar or if I went to Sam's Town, but one way or another I was going to be doing something I really enjoyed on my birthday and that was playing poker. Since it was my birthday he was not going to allow me to take a bus anywhere and decided that he would be sending me via Uber to and from. I did not have any money, I think like $7 in my wallet since it's the end of the month which that's typical for me, so Joe said well if you want to play at Sam's Town this is what we'll do. We'll each go in for 50% $20 each I will give you my $20 and then I will lend you your $20 and then we can split anything you make 50/50. Obviously this is an offer I am not going to easily refuse anytime soon so off to Sam's Town I would go.

I was chit-chatting with Alysia Chang on Twitter and I happened to mention that I was going to be playing at Sam's Town that night and would probably have a birthday drink or two and when she realized it was my birthday she said oh I am totally there and although she is used to significantly higher quality tournaments shall we say, because it was my birthday she came all the way down to Sam's Town so that we could play in the tournament together which I thought was totally awesome. She also brought me a fantastic birthday gift which I absolutely love. She brought me a book called The LIve Poker Players Journal Black Edition and inside on each page you can jot down the  individual hand history in whatever game you're playing. She had warned me she was bringing me a birthday gift and I told her it was completely unnecessary, but this is Alysia Chang we're dealing with and if she wants to do something she does it there's no stopping that little hurricane and I was so thankful and thought that her gift was just so totally cool and awesome considering I start my exclusive live play, as much as I can that is with available funds, in November.

At Sam's Town you are not assigned a seat you actually pick a seat. They have cards spread out for each table position on each table they're going to have so I selected table 3 seat 10 and although I had not told Alysia  which table I was on she also ended up picking table 3 herself. Although we had once played and the Friday night Orleans tournament at the same time we had never played at the same table before so this was the first time I was able to see what the incomparable Miss Chang was like at a poker table.

Let me tell you something about Alysia Chang at a poker table. The woman is so lively if there was a sudden electrical power loss she could light up the table with her glow. She is funny, outgoing, lively, and a total smart ass, all things that are great to have in this world. I was having so much fun as we bantered back and forth at times like in one incident where when the dealer had jokingly said something about that it was going to cost her more chips than was really required and Alysia looked at the dealer and said "Well I'm color-blind so I'm putting out 2 green chips." and without missing a beat I looked over at her and I said "If you're color-blind how do you know they're green" lmao. It was this kind of jocularity and a lot of laughter which started this tournament out just on a great great note and quite frankly I was having a blast. When I had my first birthday drink of the evening, my beloved Colorado Bulldog, she tried to get the entire table to order Colorado Bulldogs just because I was getting one and although a couple of people did that was not enough so she decided that she had to not only get our table, not only get the table next to us, but the entire poker room singing Happy Birthday to me. I heard them singing it 4 tables away lol. I am sure I turned 50 shades of red and wanted to crawl under the poker table. I told her I would totally get her for that, but confidentially I actually loved every second of it because it was just a funny thing for her to do. I mean most people might get two or three people to get singing, but not Alysia, she gets the whole room going!!

The tournament was the 7 p.m. one so there is an additional blind level as compared to the 1 p.m. that they hold on a daily basis. Very early on I get dealt pocket aces and I raised to 1200 with blinds of 200/400 and get about four or five callers in the process. The Flop was King King 10 I think was the third card with two diamonds. With this many people and that flop I know it's going to be trouble. Bottom line is somebody had a king 3 I believe it was and ended up winning but it only cost me an additional 500 chips post-flop because there was no way I was going to get over rambunctious with the pocket aces on that board.

For 7 solid levels I was virtually card dead with a few exceptions here and there. In one hand I had limped in late position with a 46s and it got checked around the flop. I turned a flush draw and completely missed when a king hit on the river and when the other two opponents checked I fired out 1500 with 6 high and took it down. I never ever show Bluffs or show my cards generally speaking unless I have quads, but on this occasion I showed the bluff. It's probably like one time in a thousand that will happen, but I figured well first of all Alysia was at my table so I kind of did it for that reason because I had a friend there, but I also knew that the next time I bet on the river I would have the goods and might get an easier call of course that would call for actually having cards and having a hand to bet on the river. Three levels and a break and then four levels and a break and it's just a slow bleed.

The table broke and Alysia got sent to one table and I got sent to another. I was in the big blind and look at 67 suited. I had already posted the big blind of 1000 with only 5 bigs left in my stack. A guy who had been somewhat aggressive raises to 3000 and another calls and with 5 bigs in the big blind and a suited connector this is a no-brainer to me and I shove for my last 5400. Both of the players ended up calling and I flop a flush draw. The original raiser bets the flop and gets the cold caller out of the hand and the original raiser turns over JJ. There was I believe an ace on the turn and then a spade hit the river which tripled me up to over 18,000.
After that things generally moved in a positive direction.

There were 53 players in this and the top five were getting paid. We reach the final table and we were down to eight handed when somebody spoke up and asked about saving the bubble or possibly bubbles. There was a middle eastern guy in seat 10 and before anything could be discussed he immediately says no.  I leaned over to the woman directly to my right and said to her "if tradition holds he'll be the next one knocked out."  He was an aggressive type of poker player but he limited his aggression to post-flop play rather than pre-flop and then had this habit of either jamming or betting large amounts on the flop in comparison to the pot. We were still 8 handed when I got dealt pocket kings and decided to set a trap targeting specifically him. I was in late position with about 24,000 chips in my stack with blinds of 1000/2000 and I limped with pocket kings. This is something that I have done many many many many times online and it works to perfection a solid 80% of the time. There are a few people out there that do vlogs that seem to think that this is something that was only done in the 90s and not done or should not be done in today's day and age but I beg to differ with them. When something works 8 out of 10 times you do it, I don't care what year it is. If you want to call me old-school I'm fine with that as to me that's a badge of honor, but the fact of the matter is I will continue to set those traps, but obviously not every time.

Nobody raised after me in the blinds which I expected  and obviously no matter what that flop is, provided there's not an ace on it, I am going to be jamming, and perhaps even if there is an ace on the Flop depending on what the immediate post-op action would be, but be that as it may the flop came out 69X and as was not totally unexpected seat 10 who was in early position in this hand immediately goes all in and he definitely had me covered. I said to the table "well I hope I didn't just get caught in my own trap and I call and show the Kings and seat 10 shows 78 an open ended straight draw. I dodged and doubled up to a shade above 50000 and was in about 3rd or 4th chips at that point. This hand instantly put seat 10 on tilt.

For the next 6 or 7 hands he switched his mode and all of a sudden he was jamming preflop at one point three times in a row and one of the hands that he had to show was QJs so apparently as long as he had a couple of Broadway's he was good with it. He doubled up once then lost a good portion of his stack and as I whispered it to the lady to my right he was indeed the next one to get knocked out. Once that happened the remaining seven of us immediately agreed to set aside $50 each for the 6th and 7th place finisher taking this from first and second place money. Good riddance Mr. Cheapskate Aggro see you wouldn't want to be you and don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.

Now here's where it comes into play that I could have been the next one knocked out because they immediately start talking about chopping it seven ways, but let's be reasonable about this. At this point I've got a stack of $5,000 chips a foot high.  I looked to my left and one guy has only two 5,000 dollar chips another guy has three dollar 5,000 chips I immediately shook my head no to the dealer and said to the table not at this time which indicated that I would be open to a chop later on so and that I wasn't being a total ass but there was no way I was chopping seven ways evenly when somebody has 1200 in their stack and blinds are 2000-4000. I know poker traditional holds the guy who refuses to chop gets knocked out but I just felt a chop was completely unreasonable under those circumstances.

The saved bubbles got knocked out then fifth-place got knocked out and when we were down to four handed I had an opportunity to take the absolute massive chip lead but my QQ got beat by A3. It wasn't for a huge portion of my stack and the person that did beat me did end up getting knocked out in 4th anyway. We were down to three people and we had pretty much identical chip stacks. One guy had more than me and I had more than the other one and when one of them recommended a chop we all agreed very quickly and it was, after the tip for the dealer, a payout of $360 which meant $180 each for me and ManInBlack. What a great way to wrap up a great birthday.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Multiple Updates

Farewell Online Poker

Let's backtrack up to this decision.  Last week I was able to get out of the house. I spent money, played some slots, played some video poker, played a few tournaments at Sam's Town and cashed in a couple of them, and had fun getting out for the first time in several months. It was so enjoyable that when I tried to return back to online, whatever small appeal that it may have had previously, was gone. Because of that, because of getting out to Sam's Town definitely stoked the fire for live play, and because of the fact that my disability is increasing because of the widower's benefit that came through, I have decided that I will be getting out of the house more  and I will be restricting my poker to live play only.

Longtime readers of this blog will recall that I have tried to do this a few times in the past, but then again that was before the increase in the disability and let's face it, although I did try previously with just a few buyins here and there I always had to return to online. This is not to say that I am going to have an overabundance of money each month, only a few hundred dollars which I will explain the financial situation in the next paragraph, but I will be getting back into the free Nevada Poker Bar League again and playing that a couple of times a week in which they have a fairly significant freeroll every 6 to 8 weeks or so, and playing tournaments at Sam's Town maybe a half a dozen times a month and if I happen to cash in them I will be playing more of them.

No matter how you look at it even though I don't get around very well I will be getting out more and I think that is more healthy for me. Yes, I may have to stop and rest every block that I walk, and just to get from the bus stop to get across the street I may have to stop and catch my breath a couple of times, but at least I will be out there socializing with other human beings and to me this can only be good for me not only psychologically speaking but who knows maybe physically as well, that remains to be seen.

Financial Update

As stated earlier beginning November 3rd my disability will be going from $829 to $1,425 an increase of $596. I will not be able to enjoy that entire amount because I found out that with the increase in income my medical expenses will be increasing by approximately $234 per month. That $1,425 will actually be $1,291 because the first $134 will be taken out to pay for my Medicare Part B premium. My prescriptions will be going from $8 to $47 each so it is what it is. I will be increasing my food budget slightly,  increasing my credit card payments by a small amount, and I will be buying a monthly bus pass from now on because I also found out I can never drive an automobile again. In order to get a license in the state of Nevada you have to have vision of 20/40 in at least one eye and I have 20/60 in one eye and 20/200 in the other.  Anyway here's the rundown of the finances as they will be.

($455) Rent & Dish/Wifi
($171) Bills
($260) Meds/Walmart
($45) Monthly Transportation
($60) Misc
$300 left over/monthly

I'm  thinking of discontinuing one of the inhalers that my pulmonologist has me on because it only increase my breathing capacity by 5% over the span of three months and quite frankly $50 a pop per month is not worth it for 5%. If I do so that $300 will increase to $350 left over except once every few months I have to get my rescue inhaler. With my new Part C insurance that is taking effect in November I have to find a new pulmonologist because my current one is not part of the network. This does not exactly  break my heart because I was considering  finding a new anyway. However, I digress. As you can see with $300 a month left over and transportation already taken care of except for those instances where I decide you utilize Lyft to get me home from Sam's Town or some midway point that would leave me definitely 6 tournaments a month that I could play at Sam's Town. You have to figure that I am going to spend a few dollars at my league games if for nothing else than to have a drink while I'm there.

On a good note the increased medical expenses will not take place in November and they might not even take place in December but nothing is sure that latter point, but at least for November I am going to have a decent amount of extra money for myself and I am going to utilize that specifically.  for November I should have about $600 left over and I am getting a new prescription of eyeglasses and also buying myself a new Galaxy J3 cell phone. I'm going to meet up with a friend of mine who I have chatted with for a couple of years that lives here in Vegas but we have never met in person yet and we are planning on grabbing some dinner and a movie together so that should be enjoyable as well.

Disability Update

I received an update form from Social Security asking if my medical situation has remained the same, improved, or gotten worse since October of 2015. My health situation has gotten worse, but these update forms are always a little nerve-wracking because disability companies and Social Security has a habit at times of not taking all available information and making snap decisions without all the facts. I've got a friend of mine sometime back had a good portion of their disability taken away, but it was because the disability company they are involved with had only talked to one or two of their doctors and not all of them. They were able to get it straightened out, but it took nearly two months in the process. If that happens to me I'm going to be homeless and sleeping outside because I don't have any money in reserve to get me through a few months of the process like that. I did a little Google search and according to Social Security only 2.5% of those update forms get referred for a full I think they called it a CDR review and considering that I am going to be 50 years old very soon and they can see the doctors that I'm seeing and because quite frankly they been paying for it I don't think I have too much to be worried about but let's all keep our fingers crossed that they don't do something stupid.

I'm always a person that likes to prepare himself for the worst-case eventualities and I talked to my buddy and roommate ManInBlack about the whole thing. I had asked him, if God forbid the worst case scenario were to happen and I ended up getting my disability discontinued for awhile and ended up having to lose my spot in the house and sleep outsidefor a while if he could stash some of my stuff in his room. Things that I wouldn't carry around in a backpack like files, extra clothing, pillows and blankets, that sort of thing.

I told my bestie and roommate ManInBlack about what was happening and what the situation could result in and I did so because I wanted to ask him a favor that if that did in fact become my reality if I could stash some things of mine in his room that I would not be able to carry around with me on a daily basis in a backpack. My thought was my files and extra clothes that I would not be able to take with me, blankets, pillows, that sort of thing and fully expected for him to tell me that he would be willing to do this. However, instead he looked at me and he said to me,

"You know if anything like that were to happen there's no way I'm going to let you sleep outside. I would lend you the $400 a month rent that you need for however long it took until things got straightened out."

You could have knocked me over with a feather. Never before in my life has somebody offered to potentially help me in such a way. I was almost speechless, could barely utter the words thank you, and damn near had a tear come to my eye that's how I moved I was. I still can't believe that if that situation were to happene that somebody would be willing to do that for me. I don't even feel I'm worth such generosity, but let me tell you something ladies and gentlemen, that is one hell of a friend.

Medical Update

As for the medical part unfortunately the fact of the matter is I have gotten worse since October of 2015. Since that time my breathing capacity has gotten worse and last appointment with the pulmonologist I was only at 67% of capacity.  I also need to see a heart doctor because I am experiencing a lot of heart palpitations at various times with intermittent PVCs, preventricular contractions. I could just be laying down ready to go to sleep and the inside of my chest feels like it's shuddering and in addition any exertion is racing my heart in what's called tachycardia so a cardiologist is going to be in my somewhat near future. Of course if you put me on a medication that will be an additional $50 a month and which case I'm definitely just continue in that one and they are just to even things out.

I saw a back surgeon and he told me that yes I am going to need back surgery in the future, but we're not going to do it now. He also told me I have to lose a lot of weight before I could have any type of surgery, but I have what is called grade 1 anterolisthesis of the vertebrae L5 on S1.  What it means is my L5 vertebrae is slowly slipping. When the surgeon took one look at the MRI, even though it's 14 months old, he told me straight out you cannot walk very far and you cannot stand for very long at all. I didn't even have to tell him he told me what I was going through.

I also have a bulging disc on vertebra L4 through L5.  which means A spinal disorder in which a bone (vertebra) slips forward onto the bone below it and I have a grade 1 spondylolisthesis of L5 on S1 resulting in moderate to severe bilateral neuralforaminal stenosis which means severe foraminal narrowing, or stenosis, occurs when the foraminal canal — the space next to the vertebrae that allows the nerve roots to exit the spinal canal — narrows due to age or another spine condition that has protruded into the empty space of the canal. Gee...... thrilling.  Along with arthritis in my knees and shoulders and a torn right shoulder, the surgeon told me that I have arthritis in that lower back and one of the vertebrae is pressing against the nerve. Man I'm telling you this guy was nothing but a barrel of laughs with his medical report, but as I have said many times in the past and it may be an overused expression, but it is what it is and all I can do is try to deal with anything that comes my way. I refuse to surrender, I refuse to give up, and I refuse to let anything keep me down permanently. 

After talking with some cousins on Facebook it turns out that early-onset arthritis apparently is something that runs in the family. The body may be giving me fits but my mind is still ultra sharp and I think poker has a ton to do with it as a matter of fact I think I read one place that poker players have a lower incidence of dementia and Alzheimer's but I can't swear to that. However if true it does make all the sense in the world and the fact that my mind is as sharp as it is is something I am extraordinarily thankful for.

Well that's a wrap up for now. I'm going to be starting my league games this upcoming Thursday and I will start playing Sam's Town on Wednesday the 4th unless I need to rest up from activities on the 3rd. The fact of the matter is when I go out for a day or two sometimes I need to rest and relax for the next couple of days this is why only playing half a dozen tournaments a month is not any great hardship to me because it's not surprising if my body won't allow me to play more than that. Maybe it will maybe it won't, but we will see what there is to see. I'm actually looking forward to getting out and about again and dealing with real people again in-person socializing.  I mean we as human beings we are social creatures and being locked up in my room for the last couple of years was not healthy, but it was the only real choice I had considering the money available. That's all for now.  I will definitely update you sometime in the beginning to middle of November I would imagine so until then take care everyone and I'll see you at the tables.