November 24, 2011

Poker! Yay!

With WPBT almost upon us (yikes how time flies!), I have become painfully aware of the poker dearth in my life. It's rather amusing that, as a guy who hadn't played online in over five years, I've played poker barely a handful of times since Black Friday (not counting my Vegas trip in June). [FN1]  Out in the real world, I've run into quite a few of the regular players from the Meadows, and apparently my absence has drawn some comments at the tables, likely the same kind of coffee talk as heard between barracuda when they notice a drop off in the local clown fish population.

My last visit to the poker tables was the first weekend in October, when I had scheduled a guys' weekend trip to Kansas City for drinking, gambling, and football. From my house, it's an easy 2.5 hour drive down I-35 to the Harrah's North Kansas City casino, which is pretty convenient. My crew for the weekend consisted of Santa, Jugweed, and Big E (our designated degenerate). Two Iowa State Cyclown fans, a Husker fan, and a Jayhawk fan, riding in a car with Iowa plates in rural Missouri—what could go wrong??

On our journey, I was driving so the other guys had broken out some libations, requiring a pit stop in Deliveranceville. We found a highly sketchy gas station / closed diner combo that would make a great Criminal Minds set after dark. Thankfully, it was mid-day, so we took a chance. On the front door we saw this important notice:

Yes, apparently in Missouri it's common to have as pets chickens, cats, dogs, and donkeys ... who are circus-trained. Also, it's important to advise folks to keep their pets outside, lest they be microwaved and served to passing tourists. (Perhaps I'm misreading the sign; I'm not fluent in redneck pictogaphy.)

We arrived at the casino mid-afternoon and immediately hit the poker room, except for Big E who headed off for some Pai Gow. As is often the case, I had a good start, making nearly $300 before dinner. As is usually the case, I should have stopped there. As is always the case, I forged ahead.

Dinner was an entertaining affair, in the Irish wake fashion. The Cyclowns kicked off against Texas as we sat down for dinner in the Harrah's sports bar (interestingly, 'Clown superfan Big E was wearing a Texas burnt orange sweatshirt). The 'Clowns promptly imploded. We enjoyed beer and bleu balls until the Huskers kicked off against Wisconsin in their Big Ten debut. The Huskers waited until nearly halftime before gagging up all hopes for a BCS bowl. Santa and Big E gave up on the 'Clowns and headed back to the poker and pai gow tables. I moved to the bar for a rum and diet or five while cursing the Huskers during their spectcular second half collapse.

Santa in typical Cyclown form.

Santa & Big E in full Cyclown denial.

Following the Huskers debacle, I debated between seppukku and poker as the proper method of purging my shame. Poker being the more painful option, I headed back to the tables. After mucking around some $2/$5 NLHE, I heard the siren song of the $2/$5 PLG (Pot Limit Gamboool) game. It was a lot of fun as always, but variance was not kind to me or my bankroll (down three $300 buy-ins net by night end). I worked up a stack over $1,000 after each buy-in, but four big hands all went against me—twice my sets were run down by combo draws, twice my combo draws failed to run down sets. Eh. PLG giveth, PLG taketh away. Praise be PLG!

The Harrah's North Kansas City poker room does have a couple of annoying quirks I had not noticed on prior visits. The most annoying is the chip buying system. No chips can be sold by the dealer, and they do not allow chip runners. So players who want to rebuy or even top off their stack must go up to the poker room front desk. This isn't a big problem, except the front desk is never staffed to sell chips except during the room's busiest periods. So, much of the time (particularly after midnight which is generally a lucrative time to play against bad or stuck players), players have to go across the casino floor to the nearest cashier cage to get chips, often standing in line for five minutes or so to buy chips. The problem with this arrangement is that many bad players who would've rebought if they had stayed at the table or been able to rebuy at the poker room counter end up cooling off on the walk to the cage and keep on walking on to a table game in the pits or out to their car or hotel room. Not a great way to keep players at the poker tables.

After catching a short nap, we met up at the Harrah's buffet to fuel up for the Chiefs-Vikings game. The food was decent, nothing special, but good omelets made to order, bacon, and coffee are really all I need. Our beverage server was a nice lady with a heavy, possibly Caribbean  accent. She kept us refilled with juice and coffee, speaking little, mostly one-word questions or statements. Toward the end of the meal, our server came over with a fresh cup of coffee for me. Setting it down next to me, she gave a small fist pump and declared in a soft voice: "Coffee! Yay!" So, for the remainder of the trip, and for the next couple of weeks, our crew would point something out in the same manner: "Field goals! Yay!" "Popcorn! Yay!" "Cheerleaders! Yay!" I'm certain our spouses enjoyed our phrase-of-the-month as much as we did.

The Chiefs-Vikes game promised to be spectacularly bad, considering neither team had won a game at that point, and both teams appeared actively engaged in the "Suck for Luck" festivities. Somehow, an exciting game broke out, made even more entertaining because it was probably my last chance to see Donovan McNabb suck in person. McNabb lived down to his reputation and led the Vikes to a rather pitiful defeat.

Santa, Big E, and Jugweed enjoy a tailgate beverage.

Great view from our seats of McNabb's utter suckitude.
OK, this play was a TD, but McNabb still sucked.

This was my first game at Arrowhead Stadium, and I have to wonder about some of their management decisions. At the gates, there was security screening, but it was cartoon security theatre. Men had to lift up hats, raise their arms, and be patted down on the chest and back, but I could've easily had a knife or gun in my cargo shorts pockets and it would never have been noticed. Why bother with this kind of security charade?

I'm not certain how this lady made it
past the fashion police at the gate.

Similarly, the game entertainment presentation was overtly sexualized, making me wonder about how comfortable parents would be bringing younger children to the game (not to mention the way such shenanigans are received by female fans). It's not just that there are official dance teams and cheerleaders in skimpy outfits on the field, but those women are shown on TVs throughout the stadium in a variety of regularly repeated announcements, providing close-ups of cleavage and booty. The worst moment, however, was at halftime, when the cheerleaders introduced fifty or so "Junior Chiefs Cheerleaders"—young girls from 6-12 years old, all in cheerleader outfits. They put on a dance routine, complete with suggestive moves, set to a medley of songs which included:

Look, anyone who knows me knows I'm far from a prude. I have no problem with adult women dancing around to whatever music they want, wherever they want, and for money if they want. I also don't mind the concept of a junior cheerleaders program; plenty of girls enjoy being cheerleaders. What struck me about this program was the utter obliviousness to whether the music and dance moves were appropriate for girls that age. I know we live in a hypersexualized society, but seeing a bunch of elementary school girls tarted up and dancing around to that soundtrack in front of an crowd of mostly middle-aged, half-drunk men just seemed a little inappropriate. Certainly not my idea of family entertainment.

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Hope to see some of you soon at WPBT, and for those who can't attend, I'll be certain to post the highlights of the hijinks.

WPBT! Yay!

[FN1]  Since my last post, work has gotten even busier, rather than more settled, after one of my staff attorneys left to take a new position. Sh*t flows uphill in some universes. Hopefully we'll have someone hired and in place by end of the year.

On top of the work situation, I coached a middle school mock trial team again this year. It was a great group of smart, funny kids who I had also coached last year as 7th graders when they qualified for state, but fell just short of the top 10 (who get trophies). This year, we practiced starting in early September, twice a week for three hours. In October, we added another day of practice as well as three dress rehearsal trials. Prior to regionals and state, we practiced six out of seven days in the week before competition, plus two days of regionals and three days at state. Quite a time commitment, not just for me, but also for the kids and their parents. But, it paid off as the kids won their first three trials at state and qualified for the final four. They got to try their semi-final case in the Iowa Court of Appeals courtroom, which they won. The kids then got to try the final round case in the Iowa Supreme Court courtroom with the Chief Justice presiding and the entire spectacle filmed for broadcast later this month on the local cable network. The team ended up finishing second, which is quite the accomplishment considering our regional alone had 48 teams (with eight going on to state), and the state competition had 32 teams. These kids (as well as the team that won state) frankly are better at evidentiary objections and cross-exams than many attorneys with years of experience. Mock trial! Yay!


  1. I'd forgotten how well you write - funny, too. Welcome back.

  2. Wait, you blog?

    Got in another 4 miles today, but if you continue to average 2 per day, I won't be able to catch you.

    Cracking a 99 point Altocedro Malbec tonight.

    See you in 2 weeks.

    Verisign word: leship


  3. Glad to see you writing again. Definitely going to miss being able to make the WPBT and getting to know some of the folks better. Need to get you folks to AC sometime

    BTW, it don't let me use my Google account to comment.

  4. Having seen similar performances by middle schoolers (and dreading the day my daughter gets there), I have to agree, there does seem to be a line that is being closed in on, and I'm also one that has no issues with adult females in anyway they'd like to portray themselves.

    Glad to see you back to blogging a bit.