Sunday, April 15, 2007

Dogs Playing Poker

This is the original artwork Mrs. Dynamite commissioned my step sister Kaetlyn to do for my birthday. All of the other dogs in the picture are Oscar's pals. Of course, that's Oscar in the portrait on the wall also, and that's his food-toy "moleculeball" in the other painting on the wall.

If you like it, which you'd be insane not to, you can contact her about doing customized work.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Dynamite Birthday

I just got such an incredible birthday present, it necessitated a blog post. But first, a little background:

Mrs. Dynamite went on vacation with her mom and her sister this week, to the jungles of Ecuador! They went on a 4 day jungle camping trip, sandwiched between nights in Quito.

That left me and the O-dog alone to fend for ourselves. I managed to run the dishwasher on my own, but was forced to buy more socks and boxers in lieu of doing laundry. I'm kidding - come on, I'm totally domesticated. Kinda.

My biggest worry was leaving Oscar home alone all day - with only a dog walker coming mid-day for company. He hasn't been alone for several months since Mrs. Dynamite began working from home, and is spoiled by human company. The other problem was that Oscar has been sleeping until 9am lately - whereas I'd have to drag his lazy ass out of bed at 5:15am and take him for a walk before I went to work. I was not looking forward to the system shock it might induce in him.

So, Monday morning, as my alarm went off and I tried to lift him out of bed, Oscar gave me the startled look of a pledge at the beginning of initiation: non-comprehension, fear, panic. The look said "Yo, dad, I don't get it - what the fuck is going on? " (yeah, he's my baby, and I'm his dad...I know it's weird... unless you have a dog - then you understand)

Monday afternoon, I nervously returned home after work, and found Oscar acting relatively sedate and slightly insulted, as if to say "Man, I can't believe you deserted me!"

On Tuesday, the wake up look was one of "Are you fucking kidding me? AGAIN?" Coming home, I expected the worst, but was psyched to find Oscar stumbling out of his bed, waking up from a nap - I haven't been able to sneak in on him since he was about 3 months old - so I took it as a good sign that he was napping. I figured he was doing ok on his own.

Wednesday, however, after a wake-up scowl, Oscar rebelled - tearing up his pee pad, and pulling my jeans and sweatshirts off the chair onto the floor. He was clearly saying, "Pops - you better cut this shit out." I made a shocked sounds when I saw the torn pad, and Oscar immediately flopped over onto his back, surrendering and apologizing.

Today, when we got up, Oscar gave me a quizzical look that asked "How much longer is this going to go on?" He then tried to hide under the comforter in an effort to avoid being taken for his morning walk - and he didn't even KNOW it was raining out.

When I got home today, he was happy to see me, having abandoned his rebellious behavior - and helped me on the treasure hunt Mrs. Dynamite had set up for me.

She had scattered 12 clues around the apartment, which I ran around to find, culminating in a large, wrapped gift, which was clearly a framed print of some sort. I cannot do it justice with words, and will post a picture of it as soon as I have one, but it's a takeoff of the classic Dogs Playing Cards, only it's an original painting done by my insanely talented step sister. The dogs in the picture are Oscar and his friends: Paco, Clancy, Buddy and Gilly. It is absolutely incredible. Mrs. Dynamite had arranged the whole thing, and even driven to Boston to pick up the finished piece!

Mrs. Dynamite, in the birthday card she had left, also pointed me toward these pictures of Oscar helping her wrap the present.

thanks, baby, for the best present ever.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Vegas: March 2007: Part III

If you haven't read Part I and Part II, go ahead... I'll wait.
Where were we? Oh yes - wallowing in my own sorrow at having been too much of a pussy to circle Phil Gordon, who had just defeated Scotty Nguyen in the NHUPC, we meandered out onto the strip in search of a juicy double deck blackjack game.
Our first stop was the old standby - the IP. The Imperial Palace was hopping, and nary a double deck seat was to be found in the Champagne Pit. Big Show decided to show his mixed game skills by crushing the dice table briefly, before I prodded him to continue our journey.
Switching course, we tried a new tact: The Flamingo! Although I've never previously laid the double deck beatdown on The Flamingo, we found a friendly table which we dominated for almost 6 hours - along with a trio of characters from the Philippines. After a marathon session, I was up a handful of units, and begging Big Show to take a break, on account of my imminent starvation.
We traipsed through O'Shea's, which was on fire. Big Show challenged me: "I bet you cannot find a blackjack table in this place that pays better than 6-5," and I couldn't believe him for a second - but alas, there was no legit blackjack at O'Shea's - only 6-5 single deck. Still, the tables were packed, bottles of Budweiser were abundant, and a rockabilly band had the inebriated crowd amped up. Strangely enough, there is now a Vince Neil tattoo parlor at O'Shea's too... How bizarre.
In an incredibly poor decision, we settled on the Burger King at the O'Shea's food court for dinner! Holy cow - talk about a mistake Vegas veterans should know better than to make. I think we were afraid to do the Chipotle three-peat, which led to this clearly erroneous decision.
Absorbing the horrific aftermath of a few 99c chicken sandwiches, we hit Harrah's with Big Show's brother-in-law Swi, for some low limit EIGHT DECK blackjack! Harrah's had a few dealers with some tremendous flair - lightening speed and card chops - and Swi continually attempted to tilt Big Show by refusing to split 6's against a dealer 4, and staying on 14 against a ten. Big Show steamed over to the roulette table, where he backcounted 8 spins, then pounced with a massively positive EV "BLACK" bet, which of course, came through. Falling asleep at the eight deck shoe, I needed to move on, and we returned to the Mirage for, what else: PAI GOW!
Although I was fading fast, I still refused to down a RedBull - keeping my streak alive, and ensuring that this would indeed be a RedBull-free trip. We got a second wind at PaiGow, and mixed in a little double deck, where we met an interesting character: a highly inebriated guy from the Midwest would rat-hole his yellow $1000 chip, sticking it in his pocket, then run out of money on the table, and have to color down the chip again. Five minutes later, he'd be over $1000 again, and color up, putting the chip back into his pocket. Big Show provided a running commentary: "He's going South with it again... no wait - he's taking it back NORTH!" as we laughed hysterically. South - North - South- North, before retiring to prepare for our final assault on Saturday.
Saturday morning we had an agenda - absorb as much negative EV as possible before our early evening flights home. We rose early, and packed our stuff, before checking the Mirage business center to print out our boarding passes. America West (aka, US Airways) tilted me slightly by refusing to provide any services on their "temporarily unavailable" website, so I spent 10 minutes on hold with their 800-number as we checked our bags at the Mirage and walked over to the Venetian. I managed to secure a first class upgrade, and we hit the Venetian poker room.
Unfortunately, although it was 11am, there were no NL seats open, and the floor said they wouldn't be starting any new games, due to the 12:00 tournament that they expected to fill the room. Undeterred, we hit up Grande Luxe for a breakfast comp, and then made the decision: It was time for a Peach Chip Massacre.
We cruised over to the Wynn, and quickly found seats in separate 1-3NL Peach chip games. Big Show, it turned out, was at the juicy table, while I was at an unspectacular table. I put my name on a table change list, and just as the floorperson called me, I looked down at JT on the button. When an EP player raised to $15 and was called 4 times, I called too, and was giving the floor the "hold on a second" finger as I played this last hand. Of course, I managed to get stacked when the preflop raiser flopped a set of nines on the rainbow 3-9-Q flop. He bet out 1/2 the pot, I raised the pot with my open ended draw, and he put me all in. I called with a shrug, getting the right price, and watch the turn and river blank off.
I steamed over to Big Show's table where there were two chooches who had exceedingly liberal raising and calling standards, and a deep stacked Asian kid who thought he was a superstar. This kid wore a flat brimmed hat and sunglasses - sitting directly across the table from me, and put on a show every time it was on him. One hand, I raised to $12 preflop and he went into the tank. After 20 seconds, I feigned a look over my shoulder, "Are there cameras here I don't see or something? Come on - it's on you - it's twelve dollars - it's PREFLOP." Douche.
Somehow, I managed to NOT get felted when I turned an underflush against this pole smoker - a testament to my low-limit-no-limit chops. Twice in one trip I make flush under flush and don't go broke - jeez.
Neither Big Show nor I could felt the maniac, who nearly went out with a blaze on this raise-happy hand: Hollywood limps UTG. There is one caller, then SGM (Southern Gambling Maniac) makes it $18. Two people fold to me, and I smooth call with 9-9. The kid to my immediate left considers raising, but instead elects to overcall (he has T-T). Now the button, aka, FIG (fishy idiot guy) makes it $80 to go. The blinds fold, and Hollywood quickly springs to life, making it $260 MORE! However, something smelled fishy here - I didn't think this player was the type to make such a large limp-re-raise with aces. In any case, SGM, relatively quickly says "What the heck, I'm all in," for about $700. I fold, as does the kid to my left with T-T, and FIG calls quickly. Now Hollywood has a legitimate decision - he has QQ, and about $900 in chips - but his limp-re-re-raise has been re-raised and called! He thinks for a while and mucks QQ. SGM has AK, and FIG has the other QQ!
There is about $1700 in the pot, and the board comes 6-4-3....5....DEUCE! They chop it up!
After wallowing in Peach Chip hell for 4 hours, I can't take it anymore, and we make our way across the street to the Frontier - famous for their deep penetration double deck blackjack game, and also for being the only casino I've ever been at who actually GAVE me a joker when they changed decks. We joined a table with a bunch of chooches, who exhibited little double deck skill, instead relying more on "feel."
The Frontier pit bosses were giving us some indirect heat - by standing 10 feet away from us and watching us by looking at the mirrors on the ceiling over the table, rather than simply standing by the table and looking at us. Come on - DYKWTFIA? You think I don't notice you watching me? Fortunately I had just the play to counter the ceiling heat - the CHERRY ON TOP! I put a red $5 chip or two on top of my green $25 chips, to thwart the pit boss's attempt to monitor my variation in bet sizes! The Cherry On Top is an old patented play, originated as a superstition by our friend Tubbo, but had never found actual practical significance - until now!
Unfortunately, even the counterplay to neutralize the ceiling heat wasn't enough to neutralize the negative EV, and when, a few hours into our session, the dealer made a top of the deck blackjack to crack Big Show and I who each had a hard 20, Big Show didn't even bother with the "I have to go to the bathroom" (because the count is minus EIGHT) - he simply colored up his chips, and we went to crush the 3-card poker game for 25 minutes before we had to head to the airport.
Like a scene out of a movie, the dealer at the 3-card poker table was the opposite of skilled. He moved in slow motion. Normally, this isn't a big deal, but in this case, I ACTUALLY had a plane to catch, and was trying to get some play in before dashing to the airport. When a new player joined the game, and we were delayed for 5 more minutes as he colored down a $100, the TILT proved too much for me, and we had to find another table, where I steamed off the remainder of my double deck buy-in, and eventually actually cashed out my last $20, as I couldn't find the roulette table to implement a last-minute Martingale comeback.
Big Show and I walked back to the Mirage to grab a cab to the airport, where I was pleasantly surprised to find that when you leave Vegas on Saturday evening - there's basically no one else leaving. Big Show was unable to crack the Wheel Of Fortune slot machine at the airport, and another Vegas adventure was in the books.
I boarded my flight, enjoying the ample space in first class, made better by the fact that there was no one next to me. I was slightly confused when the steward asked me: "Will you be joining us for dinner?" Umm.. what? I'm HERE aren't I? I guess so! Even the fat bastard snoring in the seat behind me couldn't rile me up - as I was able to rest a little, as I tabulated PnL's in my head, and prepared for the next journey to the Desert.
Final Numbers:
Mirage PaiGow: -$1300
Venetian double deck: +$800
Venetian PaiGow: -$500
Mirage 1-2NL: -$55
Venetian 4-8 Limit: +$144
Venetian NL tourney: $-330
Venetian 2-5NL: +$528
Mirage PaiGow: +$50
Mirage 1-5 Stud: +$25
Mirage 2-5NL: +685
Caesar's 3-card poker: +$475
Flamingo Double Deck: $+150
Harrah's shoe BJ: flat
Wynn Peach Chip: -$480
Frontier Double Deck: -$400
net Pnl :-$208
until next time,