Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I Have a Thing for Blondes

Ah, things are bustling in my world these days, but I do have a few stories cued up to tell.  For starters I need to tell everyone about the new woman in my life.  She's blonde with a long lean body and a deep throaty voice.  She's super sexy and I definitely have the hots for her.  Things have actually progressed pretty fast, in fact, she's moving in to the house today.

Some of you may be asking, "wait, what about Mrs. Flops"?  Well, for those of you who haven't already figured it out, Mrs. Flops is a super cool chick and she is welcoming this new lady with open arms.  In fact, the Mrs. has been pretty blunt about how she's looking forward to watching me do my thing with this new hottie.

So, I thought you might want to see a picture of my new lady.  Is it safe for work?  I suppose that's up to you, and really why would you want me to tell you in advance.  Half the fun is not knowing:

Monday, April 9, 2012

Weekend Update

The Flops had a very busy weekend.

Friday after work, I met up with someone that I know that plays in a band.  I mentioned in this post that I need to find some folks to play with.  A week or so after I decided to pursue that, I found out this guy who I have known casually for a few years in fact played guitar in a band.  I was at a lunch with him and just plunged in with, "so do you guys need a bass player?" and it turns out they did.  We arranged to meet last Friday evening for the band's regular practice.  It turned out really well.  I played real simple stuff but for the most part was able to fit things into the songs.  Although I wouldn't call my playing performance ready by any stretch I think I made clear that I understood the basic role of the bass player in a band and that I had enough knowledge and basic talent to give them faith that I can get up to speed by the time they perform next which is sometime in May, so ... I'm in my first band.

Which means Holy Crap, I've got a bunch of work to do!  Their set list has over 30 songs on it, some of which I had never heard before last Friday and none of which I really know how to play yet.  There are a couple of tunes which have parts which will technically challenge me, but I think the challenge is exactly what I need to improve my technique (i.e. the physical manipulation of the instrument) and having more confidence in my technique will allow me to get over one of the really big hurdles I've had as a musician.

Saturday was breakfast with Mrs. Flops followed by my bass lesson.  As you might imagine from the work I've outlined having to do above, I'm seeing my lessons with a heightened sense of urgency.  My teacher was definitely excited to hear about me taking this step and he's promised that we'll go through the whole song list and that he'll help me get ready.

After the lesson, the Mrs. and I headed out to run errands, the biggest of which was me making a run to the mens store to pick out some new suits.  That was an involved process, but I'm very happy with what we've picked out and think it will help me stay looking sharp during the day job.  When we got home the Mrs. announced that she had a bunch of work to do around the house and suggested I should go play poker.  Who am I to argue with a suggestion like that.

I got to the room about 10 minutes before the evening tournament was supposed to start and there was also a cash game going.  I elected the tournament which ended up only getting around 20 folks.  That was fine with me as I was starting to feel pretty tired (up late the night before and early that morning) and I knew the tournament wouldn't stress my brain too much.  

I was groovin' to some great music in my ear buds while I was playing and was able to get into a zen like state pretty quick that helped me be very aware of what was going on.I spent most of my attention focusing on the player two to my left.  I was able to pick up some tells on him, both bet sizing and physical which really let me know where he was at pretty solidly.  The hands he was in where I wasn't (which was a lot since he was playing just about every freakin' hand) I would watch his behaviors and then make a prediction on what he would showdown and I had him pretty well dialed in.  Unfortunately, the main way I got to put those observations to actual use was to know when he had hit some crazy hand that now had me crushed and making laydowns.  Meh, that's how it's going to run some time.  I played patient and as my stack dwindled and the blinds escalated found myself in EP with two 9s and about 11 big blinds.  I stuck it all in and it folded to the button who went into the tank and started counting his chips seeing how much he had left after a call.  The tanker had about twice my chips.  In my experience at this level of play someone taking this long to make a decision almost always has a hand that has decent equity against something like 99.  In this case it was AK.  Flop king, turn brick, river king.  I smiled and said, "that last one was just kind of rubbing it in."  Stood up, wished everyone good luck and headed out of the room.  It's nice to be able to bust out of a tournament and not feel that whiny "why can't I ever win a flip" feeling that can be so prevalent among poker players.  It's nice to be able to divorce the results from your analysis of how you played.  I was actually really happy with how I played especially with being so locked in on one player and knowing that if presented witht he right opportunity I would definitely be able to exploit him.  That fact that the deck didn't present me with that opportunity in that session is just the way it goes.  Besides, I was freakin' tired and the idea of crawling into bed was pretty appealing right then.

Sunday the Mrs and I got up and started working on a meal we were taking over to my Mom's apartment that afternoon.  We made the traditional Easter fare of cheese enchiladas.  That's one of Mrs. Flops' specialties and we worked on it together.  Rolling enchiladas is kind of a PITA, but when you have two people doing it it feels better cause it goes by faster.  I also smoked a chicken to take over to Mom's.  We wanted to make sure she had plenty of food at her place that she could just heat and eat because, well, because Mom is starting to show signs of not being so great at taking care of herself ... but that's a whole nother post.

Anyway, we shared a nice meal and then headed home in time to crash and get ready for another week.  It was definitely a busy weekend, but also a fulfilling one.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Honey Badger Don't Care

I suppose I should strive for some occasional poker content in this here poker blog...

Last weekend I played quite a bit all at the MGM and all involving allvegaspoker.com related activities.  First up was Day 1 of the first AVPT event and the next day I played in the AVP XV Meet Up tournament.  I took some video while I was there so expect that in a few days.  As a teaser I will tell you that the AVPT day I played was the toughest group I have ever played against.

For today I thought I would talk about a certain poker hand.  I've come to appreciate the power of so called "trash hands".  Trash hands is a misnomer because while these are starting hands that the untrained eye regards as having little potential for showdown value those wise in the science art science/art of the power of "trash hands" know better.

The pioneer in this field is of course, Dr. Grump who was the first to unlock the mysteries of Duo Quattuor.  As with many areas, further advancements were spurned on by what are most likely highly classified government operations working under the deepest cover.  Of course, I am referring to the Ironman of Poker.  Sadly, these men advanced perhaps too quickly in the field.  They simply did not have time to fully consider the ethical implications of their work.Sadly, if they had such time available, they might not have unleashed the Spanish Inquisition on the poker world.

Now up till very recently I was one of those naysayers, the ones who disregard these powerful poker tools.  Recently though, my eyes were opened - and it was all due to, the Honey Badger.  You see, every time the Ironman travels through Las Vegas, another powerful signature hand is unleashed upon the town.  Each such signature hand has a nom de guerre and this most recent trip it was to be 52 aka, the Honey Badger.

Now here is the interesting thing.  Long before this past IMoP trip I had been exposed to the Honey Badger, just not by that name.  You see, at my local casino 52 - or fiddy deuce as they like to call it is know as the nuts.  It's a point of pride among some players to felt someone with fiddy deuce and yet, I was never one of those who got it.

The moment it all coalesced for me was when I played in one of the Ironman tournaments from their last trip. The Ironmen all descended on the Aria for their daily tournament and I settled in hoping to see some hilarity ensue.  Deep down, I knew I should be looking for opportunities to deploy the Honey Badger, but still I resisted.

In fact, I was even presented with a golden opportunity to do it.  An early position raise ... a call ... folded to me on the button and I squeeze up the cards to gaze at 5 of hearts, 2 of hearts ... a Honey Badger sighting.

Now of course, the first rule about the Honey Badger is, Honey Badger Don't Care.  Mere pocket Aces?  Please.  In that moment, I would like to report to everyone that I felt the spirit of the Honey Badger move through me and that I called, or perhaps even was brave enough to throw in a substantial three bet.  Alas, I could not pull the trigger.  I played smart poker, conserved chips and sent my cards to the muck.  On to the flop then:




Yup, Honey Badger would have hit Donkey Kong.  Now you might think this is the part of the story where I talk about seeing the light and appreciating the power of the Honey Badger.  Nope, we're not even there yet.  You see after the action of the hand completed and as we were preparing for our next round of combat, the rather striking young Asian lady on my right uttered these words, "Huh, I folded five two."

There is no doubt in my mind she spoke the truth, she and I folded the same hand and then watched as one of the last two fives and both of the last two twos in the deck came on the flop.  Ladies and gentlemen, I'll defer if the Grump wants to correct my math but I believe that is about a 5000-1 shot.

OK, I may not be the quickest on the uptake, but even I can take that hint.  Just to make sure I got it though, the Poker Gods saw to it that immediately after disrespecting the Honey Badger I began the process of stack implosion.  OK OK, I learned my lesson.

I'm happy to report that since then, I have deployed the Honey Badger on several occasions with much success.  Plus, when you take a big pot off of someone and they start asking how you call with that, you get to look at them and say, "What?  I had the Honey Badger."  For some reason, hearing about that vicious furry bugger just makes people smile and maybe even helps them forget the beat they just suffered.

So, fair warning, if you ever find yourself at a table with me and the board is favorable to the Honey Badger, tread lightly.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Play That Funky Music

I've always had strong roots in music.  Those roots stem from my mother's side of the family.  My maternal grandmother got a masters degree in music back in the early part of the 20th century when the idea of women pursuing higher education wasn't such a common thing.  My grandmother, mother and mother's sister were/are all accomplished vocalists and my grandfather and uncle on that side of the family were/are also singers.

I sang in church youth choirs as a child, and I remember when I was in third grade one day the music teacher came in with a violin.  She was talking about how in the fourth grade students could start taking violin lessons in school.  I knew I wanted to play an instruments in addition to singing and since this was my first opportunity to do so, I rushed home to talk to my parents about getting in the violin program.

My mother had enough musical background to know that it was important to have a solid foundation before moving on to advanced levels and so her requirement before I could take up any other instrument was that I do two years of piano lessons.  I did, but rather than really diving into the piano I treated it more as a box to get checked off so that I could get on to the fun stuff.

By the time I finished my two years of piano lessons I was now old enough that in addition to taking up the violin, I could choose to learn how to play wind instruments.  So many opportunities!  I basically narrowed things down to clarinet and trumpet.  I remember deciding on the clarinet because I thought I would have too difficult a time playing different notes on the trumpet because there were only three buttons to push.  On the clarinet, there would be a certain fingering that would produce a certain note - easy right?  Yeah, that's what I thought, but I was like 10.

I played all throughout middle school and high school.  I really enjoyed my time as a "band geek" and it led to some wonderful opportunities.  I've played halftime shows at NFL games, played before Major League Baseball games, marched in the Rose Parade and spent a summer touring the US and Canada performing in a competitive drum and bugle corps.  

Fairly early on in my musical experience I found myself attracted to the low end instruments.  I moved from clarinet to playing bassoon and baritone sax and learned how to play a baritone bugle for the drum corps experience (those groups have brass only).  Something about those bass notes really drew me in.

As I got older, I got away from music.  Other things just kind of took over.  I missed having music in my life though.  Of course, I would share that fact with Mrs. Flops and about 10 years ago, she brought me an electric bass starter kit.  A good friend of mine who has since moved away was taking guitar lessons with a great teacher who also taught bass.  I started taking lessons.

I treated my playing as just sort of a getaway.  Frankly, I didn't put a ton of effort into it.  It was a good way to unwind though.  My teacher is a very wise soul who understood what I was there for and allowed me to have that experience be what I need.  So, it was basically good (and cheap!) therapy, but it wasn't anything that was driving me to share my music with anyone else.

So I just basically farted around with going to my lessons for about ten years.  I'd have fun with my teacher but really, I was spinning my wheels.  It was OK though, because spinning my wheels was what I needed in my life at that point.

All that changed a few weeks ago.  I don't know how to describe it any other way than saying that I found something that was always missing from my musical experience, passion.  Before I had always discounted the idea of finding people to play with.  I wasn't good enough and wasn't prepared to invest the time needed to get there.  One day we went to some friends' house, one of whom is a legitimate professional musician (albeit with a day job).  He urged me to bring my bass to the house so we could play and we did.  I kept it pretty simple, but I was playing with someone else.

It was awesome!  I needed more of this.  The point of music isn't to sit in a lesson studio working on things, the point of music is to express yourself and maybe I finally realized that I had things worth expressing - or maybe it was just that it was fun.

I've also started to see how a deeper understanding of what is involved in making music can carry over into other areas of your life.  In fact, I've got a post brewing around that I'm working on that will even tie music into poker.

So in addition to poker discussion in here, you can expect to see more talk about my musical journey.  I can't wait to tell my first story about some woman throwing her underwear on stage!