Friday, November 30, 2007

Have You Ever Seen the November Raining Blood Next Door?

It's pouring in L.A., our first big storm of the season. Please to enjoy a few of my favorite songs with "rain" the the title and add your own in comments.

It's reader participation Friday! For the first and only time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Old Man and the Aussie Millions

As he walked through the Aussie Millions tournament room, virtually nobody took notice. The few that did, quickly turned away, back to their conversations or, absent that, to staring at a fixed point elsewhere. Anywhere. Fearful of even the glint of recognition when they saw his face.

He took his seat. Number 9. Table 12. He’d no doubt he’d have been sat at #13 had one existed, but at the Crown Casino, none did. The young man to his left, no more than 21, leaned away from him, almost imperceptibly, but he marked it anyway. A lifetime of observation had honed that skill and he was thankful it still remained. He heard whispers at adjoining tables, muttered disbelief. “What is he doing here?”

See, Joe Speaker was salao, the worst kind of unlucky. And in a poker room, a poker tournament, he had become a pariah. Where many years before, he had been feted, he now kept his eyes down and his chin up, feeling their tension on him, summoning himself, his dignity, to face them.

Prosperity was seven years ago, a trite number for his anguish, as if he’d broken a mirror and his crime was simply one of clumsiness. Joe preferred to think of it in terms of months, 84 to be exact, because it gave symmetry to something he loved, a force with which he identified. And like Hemingway’s protagonist, Santiago, the Old Man, bountyless for 84 days, he despaired of his dearth of material success, relying only on his inner spirit to wake each dawn.

Santiago was after a marlin. Joe was after sharks. The Sea was vast green felt, spread far and wide, a familiar place, both kind and cruel. Here, he was on solid ground, despite the beautiful turbulence. The Sea did not change. It was the whim of the Gods which he feared, the forgetfulness of the cards. Where they once rose to meet him like a cresting wave, they have, for too long now, receded like the tide.

As the tournament began, chips clattered and chirped like a noisy flock of birds. Scattered voices echoed around the room, grumbling, distress and euphoria, though none at his table. Rigid silence was the order and for hours, he tasted their discomfort. Alone he remained, unregarded and inside himself. They would look at him, see his scars, those aged, hardened callouses. Some stared longer than they’d have liked. Joe saw that, too.

Tables broke and players rotated, some faces he knew, but most not. Only one managed to speak to him until he sunk his hook.

That man came up behind him during the first break. Pauly. Friend, benefactor, mentor. Pauly was there when Joe fell, dusted him off and lured him back. Even after all this time. Pauly spoke quiet words, not of back-clapping cheer, but of truth, inner, absolute truth. Joe nodded, thankful for his loyalty.

The next person to talk to him was unnamed. Joe did not know him, but he knew his kind. A kid, cocksure and stalwart, offered his initial, defiant poke. Joe let him nibble. “I know who you are,” the kid baited, rattling a litany of Joe’s failures, his history of drought. He leaned forward in his chair, chin out, a dare. Joe cajoled him invisible inches forward, respecting this foe. Though his actions cried for contempt, to deny his ambition would be fatal.

This was the moment of risk and danger. Where before, too often, he’d felt it acutely, Joe was now calm. Resolved. He gazed at the yards of green. Lifted his eyes and saw it: a twitch in the kid’s shoulders. Simple. Timeless and noble, as it ever was, and his knowledge was sure.

When Joe yanked the line, the kid nearly kicked his chair over in haste, haste equaled by his exit. Defeated. The worst knowledge one can have, a luxury Joe had never allowed himself. The breath went out of the table as Joe pulled the chips into his net. Nearby, they whispered and pointed as he lashed his stacks together in a fortress and set about protecting them.

Others awakened to a single insurmountable fact: Joe was a threat. Suddenly, inexplicably, and they dove at him in continual assault. He was exhausted and with each parry, he suffered. Weapons long unused were needed and though successful, he was running low, broken arrows strewn about. Time raced, then slowed down.

The hours turned day into night. Outside, Melbourne came alive with the lights and players began to stream from the building in their misery. Joe held on, fixated on the lights nearby, the ones that burned hotter than others, trained on that single spot, like a mirage, like a distant, illuminated harbor. They drew him closer, steeled his spine, and he idealized his journey, drew on his reservoirs. Of strength. Of experience. Of those scars, old as erosions.

He fought off others, but not before they left him bloodied. His body wearied, though he remained steadfast. When the announcement was made, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have our Final Table,” he had no thoughts nor feelings of any kind.

Joe was too far out. He knew it. Gone beyond in his pursuit and now caught in a vise of his own hubris. By this time, he knew the fight was useless. His triumph would not be material, though his spirit was quenched. They came at him as a pack and he swung desperately, fecklessly.

He could barely stand when it was time, faltering once, twice. A man with a microphone clapped him on the back, said something about resurrection and respectability. The remaining players, four in all, shook his hand as Joe blinked away the fatigue. Applause thundered faintly in his ears as the limped away, earning nods and smiles from the crowd that parted. A familiar arm came around his waist and bore him up. “Manolin,” Joe said, and he allowed himself to be carried out.


To the above post, which is my entry in the Write Your Way to Austalia contest, sponsored by Full Tilt, so I couldn't include the promised "I'm thankful for..." closing.

I'm thankful for people who push me to write.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dale Earnhardt, Joe Montana (college), Babe Ruth

Happy Blog Anniversary to Me. Three years. 3. Yeesh. The only thing I've ever held on to for longer than three years was that condom in my wallet during high school. No, it's not still there, smartass. I got a new wallet.

My holiday was nice, thank you. The weekend that followed it, not so much. I wallowed in existential filth (Who am I? What is my fucking problem? Where did I put the peppermint lotion?), as I am wont to do from time to time, but I have successfully belly-crawled from the muck. I went 72 hours without a shower. I reeked like a portable toilet at Woodstock. Police showed up at the apartment because neighbors reported a "dead body" smell. I didn't win any parlays.

The BBTwo is draining my bankroll slowly but surely. I've felt quite solid about the my game lately and, in fact, I was "in the zone" last Wednesday for The Mookie. I'd played exquisitely (playperfectpokerplayperfectpoker) for better than two hours and was mid-pack down to 20. I had doubled up early when an unfortunate player limp-called my button raise. He had A9 s000000ted. Seriously, people do this against me all the time. The flop, naturally, had an ace and a nine. But also a two, which went nicely with the pair of dueces in my hand. Later, down to three tables, we were six-handed and I picked up QQ in the SB. A short-stack pushed for about half what I had left and I jammed to isolate, as the BB had twice my stack. You know the BB woke up with KK. Six-handed. Shortie had AK. Three premium hands out of six. RNG douchery personified.

In the Riverchasers event on Turkey evening, I had the pleasure to play a) sober and b) on dialup (Time spent downloading FT software on Mom's computer: Thursday). Yes, my mother's home is a farmhouse in the 1850s. No booze, no hi-speed. I played well for an hour, more agggressive than usual, because my Mom was giving me shit about playing poker on Thanksgiving, so when my suited Big Slick was re-raised at Level 8, I shoved in against riggs. He agonized for a while over his QQ, but finally called, correctly pegging a race. And you know how races end up against me. Not only do you win, but you make quads. Awesome. I can only win a race when riggs is dealing. Ah, those were the days.

I was really looking forward to last night's MATH. I love (love, love, love) a good re-buy. Last night was not a good re-buy. My table--dear people, bless them all--was not the proper environment for a re-buy. They were holding onto their stacks ($10) like Mormons. (I believe it was Lavell Edwards who said, "When Mormons go on vacation, they carry two things: the Bible and ten bucks, neither of which they take out of their pockets.") Now, I can exploit a tight table, and did end the re-buy period up a grand from my starting stack (plus one re-buy off the top), but there were 130 re-buys total and I'm guessing less than 10 came from my table. One guy wasn't even there. So, while others were amassing chips, we were grinding out small pots. Which put us at a slight disadvantage as we moved to the knockout stages and bigger stacks arrived.

I raised pre-flop twice in the knockout stages. Someone had AA both times. The first time, it would have worked out for me. jeciimd was short and simply called with his rockets on the button. But then The Fat Guy re-raised from one of the blinds. I had to fold my pocket deuces. The cost was too high, roughly a third of my stack, to go set mining. The flop had a two. So did the river. Awesome.

The second time, I was down to T2400. It was the 100/200 level, so I was close to push and pray, but I figured a raise of just 600 would signal to the table that I wanted action. They duly folded around to the BB who pushed and I, in a bubble of pristine clarity, called with my Suited Hammer. Though I paired on the flop and picked up the flush draw on the turn, AA sucked out on me. Fish.


I have finally started the Anticipation Machine regarding Vegas. I've found the best way to deal with existential filth is to drown it in alcohol. I learned that from Dr. Phil. He also advocates making a complete ass out of yourself, which I'm also good at, though not as good as drizz. So Vegas is coming at the right time.

thg (who loves pocket jacks) has already posted some betting lines. I'm gonna offer straight cash. That's right. Mobneys. I'll give $1 to the first person to:

Ask F-Train if he's been working out.

Ask Betty if she's a stripper (I might donate extra for lasciviousness level).

Ask Iggy if he's ever been to Humpy's.

Ask Uncle Bracelet to help with the math.

Call DonkeyPuncher on the phone and ask what time we're supposed to meet at Spearmint Rhino.

Actually, on the last one, I'll give a dollar every time someone does that. I'm willing to go to $100.


I'm thankful for three years in this space and finding all the good fortune that eludes me on the felt in the friendships I've made.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No, Thank You

I mulled doing an "I'm Thankful For..." post, but every time I do these list type thingees, I always forget the good ones, like that comeback you should have tossed at the jackass in the full white sweat suit who had the temerity to make a dispariging remark about your kid crawling into the rack of Kobe jerseys ("Chill out, Mr. Rourke," for the record).

And there's the obvious, I love my family and friends thing, but anyone who reads here regularly knows where I stand on that and I hate repeating myself.

So I'm gonna do it this way. One "I'm thankful for..." per post, now through the end of the year. Ready. Go.

I'm thankful for the way my ass looks in these jeans.

Happy Thanksgiving, degenerates.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Daddy Does the Math

The road to Melbourne now runs through Hilljack.

Congrats to Daddy, who topped his runner-up finish in last week's MATH tourney with a victory in last night's 6-handed, turbo Push-o-Rama and is now headed to the TOC.

His tourney game is sick. Ask him.

I had to unregister late because of necessary AJ time. I hate playing when he's around anyway, but have loosened that tenet at times during the BBTwo because of the awesome potential for overseas travel and my masochistic tendencies. I've said it before and I'll say it again: If I raise, just call. Whatever you have. It'll be good by the river. Especially if I check-raise you on the flop. Your bottom pair, three-kicker will improve. Ask Jordan.

Tasks accomplished, AJ and I did pull up the tourney in the late stages to rail the final two tables. My son, bless his gambler's heart, exclaimed at one point, "SnailTrax is playing some Big Stack Poker!" Maybe some day he'll fondly recall the night I let him stay up past his bedtime to see Daddy take it down.

I will be enjoying some Hot Mookie Action tomorrow night and if my sister manages not to kill me with her maiden attempt at Thanksgiving turkey, I might make Riverchasers as well.

Additionally, I'm almost done with my "Write Your Way In" entry. Look for that next Monday. Prepare to be moved. Keep some Kleenex handly.


NaNo is looking grim. Not even halfway to the 50K, a fact mostly attributed to me deciding, around Word #10K, that I don't like the story in the first person and should change it to the third person. I've since been writing it that way, but I feel like the foundation I'd laid is incompatible and that scenes need to be shifted and blahblahblahnobodycares.


Been a bit of a roller coaster lately in Speaker Land (The Crappiest Place on Earth!) and the holidays promise more upheaval what with the custody issues: my first Christmas without AJ and X and I fighting over which one of us gets to buy him Guitar Hero II.

But enough of's almost Vegas Time! Be sure to hit up Pauly for the "How To" list. I never tire of reading that.

I will miss the Thursday night klatch at the Geisha Bar. Disappointing, but I'll be in early on Friday. Don't expect anyone to be awake when I arrive (GCox excepted), but I was mulling hitting a Friday afternoon crapshoot tourney, maybe Caesar's at noon. Drop a comment if you're interested. Reminds me of the time I organized a dozen or so bloggers to play a Friday afternoon tourney at Aladdin and when I was waiting for my taxi outside the IP, a motley crew of bloggers (redundant) quite literally spilled out of one right in front of me. They were in the death throes of an all-nighter, but happy as clams. Smelled a bit like clams, too. It's those random events that generally provide the hilarity. Whatever your expectations, don't let them obscure the possibilites. Schedule light. Be available for arbitrary silliness.

And don't even think about fucking Tilt Texting/Calling me on Thursday night from the IP. My phone will be off. Fuckers.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Yeah, That's News

cash advance

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Non-Frontier

I can't imagine anyone else shed a tear as the (New) Frontier was imploded yesterday on the Vegas Strip. I did, though. I have a number of memories of the place, nearly all of them occuring in my nascent Vegas phase.

My second greatest gambling-related moment took place there (this was number one). I was in town with two buddies, the first time I'd been to Vegas with them, and they were skeptical, to put it mildly, when I suggested we hit up the Frontier for craps. I'd always had good luck at the game there and they offered 10x odds on cheap tables, the latter information convincing Big Head and Jorginho to give it a try.

We walk onto the tiny casino floor and as we approached the craps table, one of the croupiers shouted, "Joe!" (well, he shouted my actual name). First time I ever felt like a Big Shot. Turns out dealers remember big tippers.

I had cleaned up on the table my previous visit and was tossing redbirds every which way at the dealers. Meanwhile, my girlfriend at the time was stashing black chips in her purse. When we finally called it a night, she stopped at the toilets before we cashed out and went back to our hotel. In the meantime, I sat at at vacant blackjack table digging the black chips out of her purse, which she left with me to watch. Didn't take long for two burly security guards to come up and ask me what the hell I was doing stacking blackies out of a woman's purse. I managed to convince them I was on the up and up, but they still stuck around to make sure.

It's the place where Big Head--on a subsequent trip--"fooled" the blackjack dealers. Needing a little card (they were dealt face down back then), he'd ask for a ten; needing a ten, he'd say "little one." When the dealer gave him the opposite of what he asked for, he'd celebrate, punctuating one 21 by splaying his fingers above his head, dancing them around and shouting, "You are my puppet!"

It's where I ended up one night with Bro and Sate. Bro had been a cooler all weekend and we were calling him "Eddie Mush." Sate and I were making a bit of a comeback at the craps table and when Bro walked by we literally shoved him away from us, prompting one of the dealers, who had been the beneficiary of several tips already, to say, in all seriousness, "I can have him thrown out if you want."

Yeah, you had to wade through the omnipresent picket line/labor strife to get there. The couple times I booked a room there, they smelled old and musty, though not on par with The Plaza. Amenities were few and there were no pirate shows or volcanos to behold. Still, I cut my gambling teeth there.

And I, for one, will miss it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ship It

1 Joe Speaker (you) 107.5
QB D. Brees NOS 18.9
WR H. Ward PIT 16.0
WR L. Evans BUF 6.5
WR D. Driver GBP 6.3
RB P. Holmes KAN 7.9
RB B. Jacobs NYG 10.5
TE A. Crumpler ATL 9.9
K S. Janikowski OAK 9.0
DEF CIN 22.5

That victory, my second in two weeks at Fantasy Sports Live occured in a "Joe Speaker Special." When you win a contest named after's pretty fucking rigged impressive.

For those of you unfamiliar with the "Joe Speaker Special" contest, it is one that has a much lower points/salary cap than the standard games. Owing to my propensity for frugality, Blinders created these to challenge those of you looking for "deals" amongst players. Of course, you have to beat me; and I rule.

The concept is really the same for other contests. You need to find cheap players who might have a breakout week. For the regular cap games, you do that so you can have Tom Brady and Randy Moss. In the Speakers, you need to find three or four just so you can get under the cap. In my team this week, you'll notice Priest Holmes. A fine example. This was the first week Holmes would get the bulk of the carries for KC because of an injury to Larry Johnson. Hence, his cost was low (since he hadn't been playing much), but now had an opportunity. Hines Ward, same thing. His cost was low because he'd been injured and I got him for a mere 90 pts. his second week back (he was 60 last week, I think, and I took him then, too).

It's all about the research. What won the week for me was Cincy's defense. On the surface, that seems a wasted pick. Cincy's defense is abominable (ranked 31st) and their low cost reflects that. However, they were playing an offensively gross Baltimore team AND a quick look at past performance showed the last time the two teams met, the Bengals caused 6 turnovers. Yesterday? Six turnovers and only 7 points.


The number of players is rising pretty quickly over at Fantasy Sports Live. If you've not yet joined (Bonus Code: Speaker), I invite you to take me on in a Joe Speaker Special. Anybody can win picking Tom Brady and Randy Moss. Try winning with Cincy's defense.

I dare ya.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


My week-long break from pokering lasted six days. Are you proud of me?

I got Mook'd in The Mookie. Welcome back!

I call the Full Tilt RNG "Tony." Why? 'Cause when I get my money in ahead, I like to channel Sosa from "Scarface."

"Don't fuck me, Tony. Don't you ever try to fuck me," I scream at the monitor.

Doesn't work. Last night it was AKs v. AQo and a queen on the river, middle of Hour Two. One of AJ's board games had the misfortune of being on the floor nearby and got kicked. Good form, solid distance.


Still plugging away at NaNo. I'm behind, but not egregiously so. Time, rather than dis-inclination, has been the issue. That and solidarity with the WGA. I just need one good three-hour roll to get back in the thing.

Going away this weekend and will hopefully get a few three-hour rolls. I'm not talking about NaNo any more.


Uncle Bracelet was telling me about his Halloween costume this year. He went as a Hanson Brother and my odd brain wiring asked, "The hockey players or the pop music group?" We then decided the funniest costume ever would be three guys, two dressed as Charleston Chiefs and the third dressed as Taylor.

Maybe you had to be there.

Friday, November 02, 2007

What's the Word?

I'm planning on moving within the year, by the end of next summer likely. To a new part of L.A., at least. Perhaps out of state. X is on board. She's sick of the area, sick of her job. Some of you might be surprised by that, but I'm not. It's her nature. Restless. Always looking for the next thing. Says she wants to be somewhere closer to nature. Maybe she and the Douchebag can hurl themselves into the Grand Canyon.

He might be a wrench in the plans. X opined that her "relationship" might be an impediment, to which I said, "If you ask him to go, he'll go." She got this gleam in her eye, sure and mischevious, like someone who has no doubt who's in control, and nodded yes, yes he would. That simple gesture verified for me what the allure is there for her. I always figured she had complete control over him, like she never had with me. That he bends to her every whim, unlike me. Total devotion, illustrated further in a pumpkin they had carved in front of their apartment that said "I (heart) X." It's like they're 12 years old and he has a terminal case of puppy love, which kind of makes sense considering he's dumb and ugly. He's hit the relationship lottery. For now.

Anyways...moving. The problem is my lease runs out in February and if form holds, my swank desert complex will offer me new lease terms of varying lengths with commensurate rent hikes, bigger ones for fewer months, smaller ones for longer. They have a house edge bigger than the casino, even when the market is struggling, as evidenced by the flyer I got in the mail yesterday listing the costs of moving vs. the costs of renewing the lease. And the offers of free rent plastered everywhere.

I can't move in February. Not in the middle of AJ's school year. I could re-up for a month-to-month at exhorbitant rates until school's out and then go. Or I could play some hardball. Try to get a lease extension with my current rate, promising more revenue instead of another empty space. It might actually fly and would make the planning a whole lot easier. Failing that, AJ and I will take to peeing on the carpet.


NaNo going well so far. I've stormed out of the gate to the tune of 3500+ words. I've gotten the internal editor drunk on cheap wine, so he's either silent or babbling incoherently, the latter of which meshes quite well with my writing mood. I've got the plot laid out, the characters outlined and some themes to hit. Just gotta line 'em all up. Eventually. On this first pass, I'm simply trying to get it down.

I'm definitely taking a week off from the BBTwo. Perhaps longer. Need a break from the game and comes at a good time where I can fill with writing, which is the idea of NaNo. Discipline. Do it every day. I'm down, though I'm not going to be writing the novel every day. I've got two other things percolating, as well. Bubbling even hotter than the novel and I want to keep those fires burning, too. Yes, one of them is a "Write Your Way In to the TOC" entry. Is there a word limit on that? Seriously. I'm looking at 2K already. Plus I have to post. All in all, should be a wordy November.

Anybody else on board other than Garthski and McFalstaff? Drop a note. We're all in this together.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

November Reign

After my glorious run to Level 7 of The Mookie, I bitched and moaned and threw a bunch of stuff. Then I ate some candy.

I was monumentally frustrated, basically folding for an hour and then losing a race. So many unplayable hands and I dropped 900 chips with The Hammer, which isn't such a good hand when someone flops a set.

I'm playing poorly, no doubt, but not hitting a single flop kind of adds to the misery. I'm taking a 10-day break after tonight's Riverchasers event, party because of the poker, but also because I've got a lot on my plate and want to focus on that.

Including NaNo. Yes, I'm doing it. I stayed up until midnight last night and dutifully banged out 230 words.

“Would you like to try our new Sauvignon Blanc, sir?” the girl behind the counter asked, a vacuous grin plastered on her face and a wine bottle poised over the empty glass in front of me.

“Absolutely,” I said. “Free alcohol before noon on a Wednesday? What more could I want?”

Her smile waned a little and her eyebrows knitted above her blue eyes. She was hot, this community college blonde, but diversion from her prepared script wasn’t a strong suit. She poured.

“The Blanc is drier than the Chardonnay and has a hint of apple and cinnamon…”

“Hey! Like oatmeal. So maybe I can expense this as breakfast.”

“…and is slightly tinny.”

Her pretty, unmarked face went blank then, so I just stared at her with an expectant grin. What now, sweetheart? I swore I could hear the gears of her brain turning, searching her banks for some kind of response, but she failed to find it in her memory of the four-hour training session she must have surely endured to gain her current employment. So she simply spun away and retreated to the end of the bar to commiserate with her colleague, an unkempt boy with pins or somethingorother stuck in his face who looked even younger than she.


I also have a weekend away planned and a Thanksgiving turkey project to do with AJ. Let's not get crazy, though, I'll still be betting on football, where I'm crushing the mythical online sportsbook and continuing to get my arse handed to me over at Fantasy Sports Live (Bonus Code: Speaker). I actually had a great last week, until the Saints gave up a meaningless TD to the Niners late, dropping me from 2nd to 4th in my Blogger contest.

My problem at FSL has been staying away from the chalk, i.e. Tom Brady. I've tried to win every week without him because of my pathological hatred for both the Pats and Favorites. Clearly not a good strategy and one I've not adhered to in the Sportsbook where money on the Pats is money in the bank. This week included. Seriously, New England is better than Indy and Belichick is schemeing the shit out of teams. They carved up a solid 'Skins secondary last week with no trouble. They seem to be reveling in the Villian's role and what better way to wear the Black Hat than to physically dominate the Colts and America's Favorite Pitchman.

Pats by two touchdowns. At least. Just 'cause I hate 'em doesn't mean I don't respect their skillz. Best team we've seen in the NFL in nearly 20 years, since the '89 Niners, I'd say.

See y'all tonight. If I raise, just call. With any two. You'll win.