Monday, December 29, 2008

Live Ticket!

I did not think the sight of 17-1 shot Naughty Nine hitting the wire first as the back end of my live Daily Double ticket could be topped this weekend. Then Deuce flicked that 90th-minute off-balance header into Cech's net for a brace and a draw against Chelski. Then that Eagle defensive lineman put a big paw in Tashard Choice's face for one of the more awesome stiff arms ever and caused a spontaneous riot in the sports bar.

It's close, but upon further review, since I singled Naughty Nine, I'll take the beautiful little man in the maroon silks as this weekend's Top Play.

I'm good at horses.

How good? After my fourth straight big money ticket cash, the curmudgeonly guy in the betting window (when you're hot, you ALWAYS go to the same betting window) raised an eyebrow at the nearly $300 payout and then hurriedly scribbled down my upcoming wager. Which I won, winner and exacta. And, presumably, so did he.

By the time I got back to the bar (we stopped at the bar for a drink and then Emet liked that she had a place to put the form and then I hit my first race and you NEVER move from your handicapping spot when you're winning), our group of four had swelled to twice that with assorted hangers-on who had heard me rooting the 5 home and wanting to know a) who I had in the 6th and b) when I was buying them a round of drinks.

The 7. And now.

One of the new guys was a train wreck of Dick Bro-ian proportions, though less inappropriate. He sidled up to Emet (because, seriously, seeing a hot chick at the track with a beer and a form in front of her is something that sends every male libido into the stratosphere) claiming to be a horse owner, a story which had more holes than the Lions defensive line. I bought him a beer, but not before demanding he drink the one he had in front of him, 12 solid oz. of malty goodness that he managed to mostly get in his mouth.

We all hit the 6th, thanks in part to a contending horse jumping over the rail a furlong out, and, after that, things got all fuzzy, because of the succeeding rounds and the fact I hadn't eaten all day. Fortunately, I'm at my best as a fuzzy handicapper. I'm not good, really. Mostly, I just try to stay out of my own way and try not to over-think it. I mean, nobody in their right mind singles a 17-1 shot in an exotics bet. Especially one that is making its first start. Oh, I didn't mention that? Regardless, betting that horse is precisely how I roll. He had a solid work tab, good connections and a sexy pedigree. He was 8-1 on the morning line, which I thought was a bargain. At 17-1? He's a fucking steal.


Earlier, in the 2nd race, I talked myself out of the 2 horse, another first-timer that I liked and went off at 6-1. I kept her in my exacta, but the others didn't come in and she won going away. Were I a little buzzed, I'd have probably not made that mistake. However, the fact I'd started out so poorly made me change things up and I started wagering on Golden Gate Fields simulcast races. I hit three winners in a row at the northern track (one I bet solely on the name, as it was very close to Donny's mother's name), which set up the rest of the day nicely.

Suffice to say, I was loaded, in more ways than two, and I paid for dinner, which was necessary to a) give me some actual food and b) sober up for the drive back to the IE, where I frighteningly realized I had not yet set my roster for the Blogger TOC on Fantasy Sports Live.

When I woke up on Sunday, I was further horrified to realize I didn't even remember who I'd picked and immediately logged on to see. Uh...not pretty. So, I pretty much changed my whole roster minutes before the games got underway, which, as Emet and everyone else will tell you, is a sure way to screw everything up.

Or rack up a huge 142-point day to become KING OF THE BLOGGERS.

Most of the damage was done by Drew Brees and his aerial stat-padding circus and the Artist Formerly Known as LDT (I refuse to call him LT). Steve Breaston (super pick, just super) and Ryan Longwell also had a say and I needed most of 'em since I had to beat Andre Johnson and Michael Tuner, both of whom had huge days. Congrats to Al and thg for making the Finals, though thg also needs to be called out for beating Emet in her first try on FSL. That was mean. She may have called you a "fucker" at one point, but she really didn't mean it.

Alas, trying to parlay my hot streak into poker immortality failed last night on Full Tilt. Nothing can ever change the fact I can't win a crucial race at a crucial time. On the felt, anyway.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Cold Desert

Hope everyone had a better Christmas than Harold Pinter.

Too soon?

I'm not a doctor.


I've mentioned several times how AJ often seems much older than he is (7). To wit: the top three items on his Christmas list this year were:

1) Electric guitar
2) Laptop computer
3) Plasma TV

Um...he didn't get any of those. Maybe if I hadn't chopped that MGM tourney and went for first. X and I contemplated going halvsies on the guitar, but I balked at taking on the added expense of lessons at this point in our country's financial state, not to mention the bankruptcy of my place of employment. Not like the kid didn't make out, what with four--FOUR!--different holiday celebrations/gift-unwrappings. Part of what makes him totally okay with his parents' divorce, I suppose.


Had Christmas dinner at Mom's where my brother-in-law, a vice cop in one of the most economically depressed areas of the desert, had us in stitches with some "Stupid Criminals" stories. My favorite was the baggy-panted drug dealer he rolled up on. Chris patted him down despite repeated claims of not-holding innocence and found a dozen rocks and $700 in cash in various pants pockets. The cagey dealer's reaction?

"These aren't my pants."


AJ did get FIFA '09 for his Wii and played a few games before we headed off to Mom's. He wanted to be ManU, but I threatened to take it away if he didn't play Liverpool. In the first match against West Brom, Torres had a hat-trick and Keane missed two sitters. This would be the perfect spot for me to make a "life imitates art" joke, but Keane-O had a brace today against Bolton, so I'll withhold.

Top of the table on Boxing Day! I still have my doubts about the Reds' ability to win the Premiership, but it would be nice to be IN the race when spring springs. So far, so good.


You have to admire the Yankees. They remind me of a man going through a mid-life crisis, spending wildly on new cars and squiring around a big-breasted trophy wife pitcher.


Blogger TOC tomorrow on Fantasy Sports Live. Al, on_thg and I for 150 marbles. Can you feel the excitement?

I really am pretty average at the Fantasy Sports thing. I've only won a single season in my long history (last year) and that was after Charger-ing into the playoffs at 7-7 and having my teams over-perform for two weeks (though I did draft Randy Moss in the 4th round, so I'm not a total fool). I've never even sniffed a payout in baseball. But I hold my own on FSL. Primarily because I get to pick a new team every week. I don't do any real research, other than reading various sites/newspapers and looking at matchups. I think I've won like $40 over the course of the 16 weeks of the National. Football. League.

The fun comes from sweating my teams, of course. Or watching a relatively meaningless Lions-Saints tilt and screaming at the screen because Drew Brees is in obvious stat-padding mode and Rod Marinelli's son-in-law is too fucking stupid to bring 8 guys to try to plant Brees into the Ford Field turf, because, you know, how you're doing it now is wrong. Might want to change things up. Or learn how to defend a screen pass.


Been cold and rainy lately in the desert. In fact, I had ice on my car this ayem. I literally had to turn the hose on my windshield so I could see to drive!


But it's supposed to warm up tomorrow, so Emet and I are going to Santa Anita. Forecast is sunny and beer-y. Want me to make any bets for ya? I'll accept Full Tilt or Stars transfers.


Gotta play on Sunday.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Hey Fellow Enthusiasts,

I have to say, I was appalled--APPALLED--by the number of you with whom I spoke last Sunday in the Sportsbook who do not have a Fantasy Sports Live account (Bonus Code: Speaker). I mean, you like sports, you play fantasy sports, you like me (said emotion my fluctuate from time to time), you like using your vast intelligence to dominate skill-based games, you like screaming at heavily-padded humanoids on your television. What is it about this concept you don't like? You have an aversion to Mouse Clicking? I notice that doesn't affect your Red Tube hits. You don't have $50 to throw on a site that guarantees hours of fun? Heh. I saw the way you threw money around last weekend like it was the Eve of the Apocalypse.

Your excuses are weak. Fail

But I--and all of us here at Fantasy Sports Live--are all about forgiveness. You may have snoozed, but you have not yet lost.

During the football season Fantasy Sports Live, has run a little something called the Blogger Battle. Simple rules:

1. Be a blogger
2. Get the weekly high score in the specific Blogger Battle contests

Do those two things (and you've already done one) and you get an invition to the Tournament of Champions. That happens next week. $150 free money added. The best part? Only three bloggers have qualified, the rather motley collection of myself, AlCantHang and on_thg. Which means the field will have a maximum of four.

It could be you. If you'd get off your ass.

Naturally, the fun does not end with the conclusion of football. Basketball and hockey are in full swing and Spring Training will be here before you know it. So saddle up and join FIVE-STAR RATED Fantasy Sports Live. like me. Even when I'm shilling.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Vegas 2008. Strap in.

Flew out Thursday night. Late decision. Was going to drive. Good thing I didn't. Which will become clear. Nice hand, sir.

Easy flight, up and down, 40 minutes in all, and empty taxi line. Fucking economy. Quick shower and two beers, which are Bud Lights because I'm sick and can't taste anything. I'm sick every year when I go to Vegas. Light this time around, just a head cold, but no taste buds. Off to the Geisha Bar.

Double greyhound to start. Joanada buys me a shot of tequila. First thing I taste in days. Unpleasant. But my head feels better.

DP is wearing a suit. He looks very handsome.

"He's out-gaying you this year." --F-Train.

Wearing a suit is less gay than not betting the Pai Gow bonus. Train calls me a Cooler then hits a full house. Still no money on the bonus. "It's a sucker bet," he says.

No shit.

Meet Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot. Nice guy. Cheap with the drink-buying, though. Betty is there and totally sober. This puts me on tilt. Lewey Award, I think, goes to BuddyDank who is, "looking but not seeing." He and Jo each hit a penny slot for over a grand. Looks like that profit went right to the Geisha Bar. Or the gastroenteroligist. I meet PirateLawyer who doesn't say 'eh' once. Not once.

I am not wearing a scarf.

April interrupts my conversation and makes me play craps. I lose $200. So I go play poker to get it back. Not so much. Tough table and they won't let me move to the blogger table where Grubby keeps stacking Grubbette. I lose $30 and go home to sleep.

Four hours later I awaken from perfect, dreamless, alcohol-induced delirium to go to the bathroom. As I return to bed, Bobby Bracelet texts me that he's in town. I briefly debate ignoring him for more sleep, but take two Tylenol and get dressed instead. How could I not? He's sporting a beard. Time to make Beard Money. First, Huevos Rancheros and then Blackjack.

I take $80 Beard Money from the table. Leave with DP to go play poker. 11 a.m. tournament at MGM. $65 buy-in. We swap 10% and are seated right next to each other to start. Push Fest. 2000 chips. 20 minute levels. Antes kick in at 3rd level. I double up with AQ v. QT. Bust another player with AJ. I check-raise on AA6 flop. He doesn't believe me. "You tried to tell him." -- DP

I bust another player and have nearly 8K at Level 2. I get greedy. Player to my left limp-pushes. I make loose call with AQ. Kings are good. Down to 6K. At Level 3, I raise another limper with JJ. He calls. Axx board and I c-bet. He calls. I check it down. Kings are good.

Fucking limping Kings.

I'm down to 2800 at the break. 300/600/75 when we come back. I more than double on first hand back with AK. Double again with QQ v. 77. Back in it.

116 players. Nine paid. I lose a race with JJ to AQ and am down to 6K. Same orbit, I gamble with KJs. Turn the jack against A9. El Doble. I push next hand from button and get folds. I push next hand with 55. SB insta-calls in a way that illustrates he's annoyed at my pushy tendencies. AQ no good. By the second break, we're down to 11.

We save buy-ins for 11th and 10th. That speeds things up. Down to six, chop proposed. Ten Seat wants to play. His M is about 5. One Seat has an M of about 9. Everybody else in the 1-to-3 range. Short stack open-pushes and Ten Seat calls with AQ. Shortie has 93. A3x flop. Blank turn. 3 river. "Want to chop now?" --Everybody.


$650 for everybody. $900 for One Seat. Deal.


DP gets his buy-in back. I'm his Horse. He didn't stay to watch, though. They're all at Hooters. Rooster stayed. "I'd never chop." --Rooster.

I know. You have too much heart.

Off to Hooters. DP announces my arrival from thirty feet away. "There's my Horse!" He has a tie on today. drizz has joined Bobby, Chad and DP. They're gambling. I stand there five minutes before I realize they are playing Three Card Poker and not blackjack. Dealer Kelly distracted me a bit.


I play Three Card Poker. They teach me. "Just play it blind." --Bracelet

I crush the table.

This game is easy!

Dealer Christie gives us fist pounds. We tip her egregiously well because she reveals our cards like we ask her to: slowly. More drama that way. Also more screaming. I leave with $200 profit to take a nap because Emet is coming and I don't want to be sloppy drunk when she arrives in two hours. Ironic.

I get two hours of awesome sleep. Phone rings. Emet says four words and it cuts out. I call her back. Same. But I get the gist. I step into the hallway in my undies. There she is, screaming down the hall. It is now 6:45. She got off work at 12. She's been drinking.


Dinner at Nine Fine Irishman. We go with something called the "Sausage Pail" to start. Breaded Irish sausage, grilled spicy sausage in a big ass pail. Mustard and curry dipping sauces. Unbelievable. #2 on the Weekend Food List. Fish & Chips followed, washed down with Smithwick's.

Back to MGM for Sportsbook Bar shenanigans. Emet meets everyone. Surprise appearance by Human Head. That was awesome. I meet bayne who regales berates me for a PLO hand that happened two years ago. 32 oz. of beer for $9. And only $5 when you refill the glass. Elizabeth shows with still-bearded Bracelet and she is finally assured I am not a fictional character.

Have SoCo with Al. A triple. At least. I split mine with Emet. Initiation rights and all.

I behave badly. I apologize. Sincerely. I was drinking 32 oz. beers.

Unable to find a cheap Pai Gow table at MGM, we go with the time-honored Four Corners move. We pass three unnamed bloggers on the bridge to The Trop. I know what they are doing out there. I say, "How's the action at The Trop?" They laugh the type of laugh that verifies I know what they were doing out there.

We take a short loss on blackjack at The Trop and go to the Excal for craps. We're getting hammered and my $200 buy-in is down to $60 when a guy goes on a heater. I forget what what he looked like. Oh yeah. "C'mon gray sweatshirt!" --Emet. Over and over again. There is a cowgirl at the table wearing a vest with mohair fringe that is the exact same copper-ish color as her actual hair and we wonder if they are one and the same. But even "the girl who asks too many questions" doesn't ask that one. By the time gray sweatshirt is done, we're up to $300. Color up.

The last stop on the journey is New York, New York for Pai Gow. Those late night training sessions really paid their dividends. And Emet wondered why I always broke out the cards when we got home from the bar. Because there's only one way to play the game and we were definitely in the BAC range to do so. Unfortunately, our dealer was a prick, capital P. Really? You've never had to deal to drunk people? Maybe it's time for a new profession if it bothers you so much that tourists have fun. Highlight was Emet's straight flush.

She set her hand correctly. That pays 50-1 on the Bonus, F-Train.

Cashed out another profit. I'm good at gambling. Bed.


Saturday morning. We run into BG and Head at breakfast and invite them over to the Sportsbook where we will spend the afternoon playing the ponies. Emet hits the first race. I'm oh-fer on the first four before hitting two straight winners. BG shows, as do drizz, Chad, April, Bracelet (now rocking a Fu Manchu) and Elizabeth at various points. BG tells me what I'll be eating that night and my mouth waters for six hours. #1 on the Weekend Food List. My two winners give me a small profit, horse tickets give us free drinks and Emet and I hit a college basketball parlay with UCLA and Xavier.

With our fancy french dinner looming, we decide we have time for craps at The Trop. We do, mainly 'cause of the cold table. I drop $200. The rest bet more judiciously. We go to get gussied up for Bouchon.

In the cab on the way over, Emet is querying the Ethiopian cab driver frequently about what language he's speaking on the phone. Or, he was Puerto Rican and his mother was Ethiopian and he was talking to her in some dialect NOT called Ethiopian. Very confusing. "Is there a word in your language for 'girl who asks too many questions?'" --BG

I'm wearing a hipster shirt with french cuffs that Emet bought me a few weeks back. Maiden voyage. You can't see the buttons. But they're there. Oh yes. Gray sportcoat on top. Joe jeans on bottom. I look good.

We stop by the Blogger Tourney to see how it's unfolding. Garth busts just in time for he and the fairer half of G+G Makeout Factory to join us for dinner. DP has a nice stack at a cash game. Maybe he made enough to buy a new suit. He's still wearing the same one.

Kronnenburg 1640 to start at the bar. BG and Bobby select the wines when we sit.

Here is how my muddled brain recalls BG explaining the appetizer to me at the sportsbook:

They take two types of salmon--poached and smoked--chop it up and shoehorn it into a turine. Then they pour butter on it, seal it up and stick it into the refrigerator for two days so the butter soaks through the entire shebang (BG doesn't use words like "shebang," that's my own). They unseal it at the table and remove the hardened butter coating from the top and then you spread the final prduct on crostinis.

After the first bite, I asked for more crostinis. The flavor was somewhere between heaven and above heaven. And there was plenty for all. My goodness. I have no words to do it justice. Creamy and rich with notes you could taste well after you swallowed. It was high cuisine and drove me mad with desire.

We passed around the various appetizers. I had snails ("Ewwwwwwww!" --AJ) for the first time since my Senior Prom. Back then, it tasted like garlic-flecked rubber. At Bouchon, it was tender, buttery-garlic nirvana.

By now, the red wine was flowing, courtesy of excellent suggestions by BG and Bobby. Four bottles worth by the time all was said and done. I went with the gnocchi for my main course and was mildly disappointed. My taste buds may have been overheating by that point and the flavor was just too strong and pungent. I asked if the waiter if that was how it normally tasted and when he agreed it was, I let it go. He comped it anyway, so I tossed an extra tip in his direction. To sum up the meal? Great food, great wine and the best company.


We adjourned to the Venetian poker room to check on the tourney progress. Down to 6 at the final table and I gave maigrey a peck on the cheek for good luck before we headed to the IP. Yes, I'm taking a measure of credit. How I roll.

I'm pretty sloppy by this point. I recall little. Lots of talking. Iggy wearing my jacket (the sleeves dragged the ground when he walked). Maigs coming home with the trophy and deposed Rooster not being able to take his eyes from it. See?

Love that sweater on The Rooster. "He looks like a Mexican Bill Cosby." --Iggy

"Blogger money is the sweetest money." --Maigrey

Silliness. Pai Gow. Bed.


My big Sunday morning bet was on the Niners. Emet and I headed to the IP Sportsbook early(-ish) and then she adjourned for coffee while I caught up on my myriad bets. "Caught up" meaning "screamed at three TVs at once." Garth was also sweating the Niners. "I was going to ask where you were, but I heard you while I was on the escalator." --Emet

I called the Dolphin kicker a "cocksucker." He obliged. Cashed the Niner ticket courtesy of a 49-yarder that hit the crossbar and came back out. Exchanged a bromantic hug with Garth. Chugged another greyhound.

Big afternoon bet was on the Steelers. Nobody should have been getting 3 points in that game was my thinking. Went to Gene for assurance. "They're going to look like shit all game and pull it out at the end, right?" He said something about gray hair.

Emet and I played the ponies while the Ravens and Steelers traded punts and field goals. I hit the first two races. Bobby and Elizabeth joined us. Played some numbers based on the time-honored Bracelet Game Theory Method. You've played roulette with him, yes? Same principle. Bobby's on the 9 horse? Bet the 8 and 10.

Steelers pulled it out. I got down on the Giants. Two out of three ain't bad.

In the meantime, we, plus Chad and drizz, went to Batista's Hole in the Wall for dinner, after a lengthy cab ride. "I've got this one, Bobby!" All-you-can-drink house wine, some minestrone soup for starters to guard against the incoming Arctic Blast. Then Chicken Alfredo and an awesome meatball. The perfect recipe for the way I was winding down. Also, I hadn't eaten all day. Disregarding the Bloody Mary olives.

Giants crapped bed. We walked back to the IP. I crushed rapid roulette for a double-up, mostly because I made a $5 bet on the numbers by mistake and hit (8 for AJ's birth month). One last Pai Gow session, which eviscerated my roulette profit, as I hit the wall. Then the wall hit me back. Three or four times. We went back to the room and slept for a long-ass time.


The rumored storm from Siberia finally hit on Monday morning and it delayed our flight for better than two hours, during which I hit my favorite airport slot machine and, for the first time ever, failed to profit. That sucked, until I realized we'd have been stuck in town had I stuck to my original plan and drove as the Cajon Pass was closed, not that you'd be wanting to drive tired and hungover with your body in complete revolt through the pelting rain and snow anyway. We made it home, despite it being one of those trips where the flight attendants are not allowed to get up from their seats.

"Did you get to do everything you wanted to do?" --Emet

Yes. I got to be with my friends.

Monday, December 01, 2008


The latest BCS shenanigans stink to high heaven. Nobody should be surprised by this. The system sucks. Out loud. Texas has a legitimate complaint.

But Mack Brown doesn't.

Surely you all remember Dec. 2004? No? Brown's Longhorns were 5th in the BCS that year as the season came down to its final weekend. #4 Cal needed to beat bowl-bound S. Miss on the road to lock up an automatic BCS bid and a Rose Bowl berth (their only loss was to eventual undefeated national champion USC). Cal won their game by 10 and in the next BCS standings, fell to 5th behind idle Texas, who were apparently so impressive while sitting around in their underwear that Saturday that nine--NINE!--writers and coaches leap-frogged them over the Bears in that final poll.

And Mack Brown lobbied for that vote for two weeks.

So...Mack knows the system. He's gamed it. And if you use it for ill-gotten gains, you're bound to get screwed karmically.

Feel bad for the players. The BCS is a travesty. Money-grubbing school presidents. Blah, blah, blah. All true. But Mack Brown can suck a dick.