Saturday, June 30, 2007


Sure, I volunteered at the local soup kitchen a few times back in high school, but lately the only charity I've been doing is when I donate my stack to a no limit hold'em opponent by overplaying AQ, or generously payoff a river bet knowing I'm almost certainly beat.

However, we're now doing a weekly gig at St. Vincent's hospital to take advantage of Oscar's healing powers - visiting patients with our therapy dog, hoping to put some smiles on people's faces. I went for the first time this week, with both Oscar and Mrs. Dynamite.

Since I spend a vast amount of time at work talking about my dog as if he was my son, my colleagues were eager to know how the first visit was. I tried to explain that, in a word, it was "hard." You see, it's not like we're just fulfilling requests of people who have asked to have a dog come visit them and are expecting us. Each week we visit one floor of the hospital, armed with nothing more than Oscar's smile and list of patients which contains only their name and how many days they have been in the hospital for. The difficult part is that many of these patients are quite sick, are not expecting you, may be sleeping, and you have no idea how they are feeling, or if you should interrupt them - or even if they will want to see you when you DO decide to wake them up.

To make matters worse, each patient is supposed to sign a "release" form acknowledging that they have approved the therapy dog visit - but it's really awkward to have to ask these patients: some very sick, some elderly, some non-English speaking, some suspicious, some illiterate - to sign any kind of release - as I fear they are already wary of people trying to take advantage of them or to sabotage their rights.

Now, as a poker player and a person with good people skills, I think one of my strengths is reading and reacting to people. In the hospital however, it's very hard to tell when you peek in on a patient who has their eyes closed if they will be happy to see you and your dog, or if they will be annoyed that you've just woken them up after they finally managed to fall asleep despite the pain of their recent surgical incision.

Still, we managed to navigate our way throughout the floor - taking a few early rejections in stride, and basking in the graciousness and smiles of several patients who acknowledged how Oscar brightened their day. Oscar did not rip out any IV's, despite his attempt to play "bedtime crazy time" with one woman who asked that we put him up on her bed (this is his favorite game when we get in bed at night - he spins around like a mad man, barks, and pounces at me while I pretend to hide under the covers). Oscar is still getting used to all the medical equipment - and his size is a little awkward - he's just small enough that it's awkward for the patients to lean over and pet him, and just big enough that we have to be very careful who's lap we place him on - especially knowing that many of these patients are surgical patients - but not knowing the nature of their surgeries.

One woman asked us "What made you decide to do this?" I explained to her that Oscar made people smile - no matter who saw him, or where we were - and we just wanted to see if we could spread that happiness around to people who might need it.

"Well, you put a smile on my face," she confirmed, as Oscar licked her hand.

until next time,

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Cops and Robbers

Finally! Something to write about! Unfortunately, the topic is a total cockchugger: the shutdown of my poker club.

Last week, another club on the east side of town was robbed. My immediate reaction: "Fuck." The reaction of the management and security at my club: *shrug* - and instead of tightening things up and laying low, they let in all the doucheballs from the other club!

Now, for some reason, when the other club got robbed, all people were concerned about was beefing up front door security. I had a different concern: the COPS! When a NYC talking head is spewing quotes like:

"I told the NYPD about the existence of this illegal gambling hall weeks ago . . . We're lucky that no one was hurt, but a bust could have prevented this dangerous armed robbery from happening. At least now this den of inequity (SIC) is closed for good"

It doesn't take a fucking CSI to figure out that the cops are going to have to do something to save face. Now, the cops clearly know about the club, and the club KNOWS that the cops know about the club, so they apparently made the level two thinking error of assuming they would be ok. How wrong. When I woke up Friday morning at 3:45am to see my cell phone flashing, and found a one word text from the Vortex: "Raided" - I knew our berry patch had been uprooted.

Since Channel 11 news was on the scene, turning it into a ridiculous, sensationalized story, I can't imagine this will be a case of "oh - we'll be open by Monday."

So, now I'll have to find another way to get my poker fix - like surfing the 2+2 message boards for ridiculous topics like this thread with a bold claim by David Sklanksy. I'm blatantly misquoting and oversimplifying, but Sklansky's basic thesis is that no one who is a certified Jesus Freak can beat him in a math test, because Jesus Freaks, are, by definition, not smart. Great stuff.

In more interesting poker discussion, Brian "SbRugby" Townsend made a recent post on his blog about a very important, very situation specific topic.

"An example of this would be if you were playing someone HU and raised preflop. The flop came down Kh Qh 2c you hold A8o and bet the pot and are called. The turn brings the 5 of clubs and your opponent checks and you check. The river brings another five and your opponent bets pot. Many players would say "I have ace high I fold" and if they held QJo instead they might say "I have middle pair I call." But the best players realize that these two hands have the same value on the river as an opponent value betting a queen is unlikely. I feel mediocre players would be more likely to call with the queen and top players would call equally with both hands. This is one of the little things that I look for when I am up against a new opponent, and to be honest very very few players call with QJ as often at A8 in that scenario, probably myself included, but the truly great ones call equally with both hands."

A key concept articulated by one of the games fastest rising young gunners.

In non-poker news, Mrs. Dynamite and I cooked some good stuff this week, including roasted vegetable meatloaf with potato and corn salad.

In even more important news, Oscar finally made his first visit to a hospital as a therapy dog! After passing the therapy dog test, we had to make it through all of the red tape at St. Vincent's, but both Mrs. Dynamite and I, as well as Oscar, are now fully registered as volunteers. Oscar even has an ID badge:

until next time,

Friday, June 08, 2007

No, thank you, I'll pass

I live in the West Village of NYC. It's a very liberal, very progressive, tolerant neighborhood. I've seen a lot of weird shit - so much so that very little surprises me or fazes me anymore (Nothing fazes Bill Gazes!)
I've a had a small black man offer to "show me what a real pussy looks like" as I walked down the street with Mrs. Dynamite. I've been proffered a plethora of illegal substances, and solicited for sex by too many tranny whores to count. But today, it was all about the tone of voice.
As I walked down Christoper Street at 9pm to grab a slice of pizza following a big poker session, a guy standing against a car who looked a little like an Italian Chris Kattan, looked at me and simply state/inquired/offered, "FUCK?"
It was the exact same tone of voice a waitress would use when pouring you a cup of coffee and asking "Sugar?" Or perhaps bringing you a Caesar salad and asking "Pepper?"
But no - this was "Fuck?"
Now, I don't think anything about my actions suggested that I was looking for hot man on man anonymous sex, but I guess this guy's preflop reads are a little off.
I didn't bother to decline, instead just continuing on my merry way, somewhat surprised that I'd even been surprised by this proposition.
All in a day's work.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


The WSOP is underway already, and two sites will keep you up to date with all you need to know:
WickedchopsPoker posts several times daily in their inimitable, irreverent, yet informative style,
and Pauly @ the Tao of Poker is again working the WSOP circuit with his veteran insight and angles.
Story of the day is Tony G threatening to whoop someones ass at Cardplayer - as they're stealing the chip counts Tony G's company bought the rights too. Read Tony's beef HERE.
The non poker topic this week is how the Sopranos season finale will go down next week. Big Show predicts a True Romance style Mexican standoff, where everyone dies in a hail of gunfire. I think a realistic scenario is that AJ actually kills Tony! Let's think about it - AJ has been portrayed as the biggest pussy of all time - couldn't Tony say something to him about being a MAN, and AJ respond by killing his old man?
we'll see.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Perspective, TILT.

You know, I steam home after a few frustrating poker sessions, and then have to put it all in perspective. I met up with some old friends on Thursday night, and found that my friend Steve's degenerative retinal disease is getting worse. He'll probably be blind by the end of the year; and meanwhile I'm annoyed that the pompous doucheball in the 2 seat spiked his 5 outer on the river against me, or that the quiet cockchuckker in the 7 seat rivered his flush (and I didn't pay him off - DYKWTFIA?). I can take a bad beat, but perhaps the best play I've made in each of the last two sessions I've played was to get up and leave when I realized I wasn't playing my best poker.

Tonight, as I TILTED toward the subway, and commended myself for leaving a game I wasn't enjoying, I remembered that I should keep it in perspective - I'm sure Steve would love to be able to sit in a 2-5NL hold'em cash game and lose the money I just lost - but he can't see the cards. As my buddy Leeroy once put it, after listening to Third Eye Blind's Semi Charmed Life, "We lead semi-charmed lives," and by that he meant, we lead CHARMED lives...

I have great wife, the best dog around, financial security, and my health. Knock on wood.

So every time I TILT myself and get mad that I smooth called instead of raised, or made a shitty payoff on the river, I'll think of Steve - and the fact that I deserve a big "fuck you" for sweating the little things.

My Dad reads my blog on occasion now - he's an elementary school teacher (for a few more weeks at least! He's retiring after 30 something years at the end of the month!), and his school's Internet filter blocks this site sometimes. I'm sure this post will cause it to be blocked, because I'm about to unleash a stream of FUCK YOU's, but, in the words of Tom Cruise's Joel Goodsen in Risk Business, "Sometimes you just have to say "What the Fuck?""

I try not to give stupid celebrities any more breath than they deserve, but I figure some of the latest news deserves a few FUCK YOU's.

Lindsay Lohan - REALLY? You get arrested for DUI and you're not even old enough to drink? Really? FUCK YOU! How the fuck do you crash your car driving drunk when you're underage... and YOU'RE LINDSAY FUCKING LOHAN?!?!?! Can't she hire a driver? THIS tilts me... "Kid Dynamite, what's the big deal?" you ask... Yeah - as long as Lindsay just keeps driving into trees, no harm no foul - but drunk driving is far from a victimless crime, and I don't think I need to get preachy on this. She should do some time in the joint, and have to poop in front of other people, (and toss the salad, of course.)

Jerry Buss - seems like a decent guy - but gets arrested for drunk driving a day after LL. Come on Jerry - you're worth about a billion dollars, play high stakes poker with pocket change, and bang chicks less than half your age - do you REALIZE how much you have to lose? Hire a fucking driver!

In other news - have you seen the new Streetview feature on Google Maps? They don't have it in every city, but basically what they did was drive around in a van with several cameras on it, and build a visual map database similar to the "virtual tours" you see on real estate sights - only this is basically for the world... eventually. Pretty awesome.

I'm a little worried about the future of American society. Sports Illustrated used to have a weekly sidebar titled "This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse," - and if the new shows Pirate Master and Sunset Tan don't qualify, I don't know what does.

until next TILT,