Tuesday, 13 August 2013

4th street: recent life story update

I often think of my life situations in terms of poker, and I was looking at my present as getting a card on the turn that presents possibilities.  I really want to win this hand, and I need the stack infusion, but the flop wasn't so great.  Well, now the turn has come and I've got a chance to take it down - new life and new hope with a draw to the nuts.

Almost exactly a year ago I learned that my mother was terminally ill.  I lived in the west of Ireland and she in North Carolina, U.S.  I'd been planning to visit her since Christmas and hadn't found a way out of my day to day life to do it - work especially seemed too pressing.  The news sent me spinning - the only thing I was certain of was that I had to go to her as soon as I could.

Our relationship had always been a challenging one to say the least.  A very rocky road from early childhood.  She did a lot of work on herself in the last twenty years and had come round to being a solid, positive member of my family in the last several years.  When my marriage ended about nine years ago and I became a single mother of two children, something really kicked in for her and she became a rock for me in that stormy sea - albeit a distant one - with some financial support and general 'you can do this, girl!' encouragement.  She demanded nothing in return; these actions weren't bribes or preparations for manipulations.  She'd begun purely giving to me and my children out of love, and this did much to heal old, old wounds.

So, I new I had to go see my mother, but having spent little time with her in person since I became an adult, I wasn't certain enough of her behavior to book more than a week there.  After being with her for just a couple of days, though , I knew my 'new' long-distance mother was the same in person.  This was crushing to me in its own way because now I felt the loss of all the missed days.  At this point she was still able to have pretty normal days - walking and talking and even having energy to go out to eat some days.  I decided I had to stay and be with her until her end.  I knew this meant losing my job of six years - that's just the way my former boss rolls.  I also took into account the difficulties this would cause my kids, especially my son.  He's a teenager, and a remarkably stable and intelligent guy, but still - the prospect of being without your mom for months is serious.  He and his older sister (also a teenager) both completely understood though - we're a tight unit.  Together we figured out a workable solution.

So that was the flop - I've got maybe a pair of tens and the board is A J 9 rainbow and the villian seems to like their hand.  The villain here being opposing financial forces i.e. I've now got no income coming in and lots of expenses.  I flew my daughter out to stay with my son and continued paying for her apartment in Los Angeles, as well as my own rent and living costs for them in Ireland.  On the fortunate side, my hand began pretty strong: my family of friends in Ireland were elementally supportive - by that I mean down-to-the-ground wonderful in helping with everything there while I was a couple of time zones and thousands of miles away.

I am forever grateful for having a few months with my mother before she died.  It was a profound experience and it changed me: because I stayed I got to be her advocate in a complicated situation in her personal life and help make her last days better not just by being her companion and seeing to her physical comforts, but protecting her.  I know that's pretty vague but the details don't belong here.  We had some fun times too - her taste in entertainment is different to mine - we watched 'Farscape' every night on Netflix.  Who could predict my mother enjoyed goofy sci-fi?  We went to the zoo - her last real outing and very important to her.  I failed at re-creating her famous beef stroganoff, but delighted her with an above par reuben sandwich.  We talked and watched movies and I brought her fresh blooms from her rose garden.

She had two memorial services.  One in Pittsboro, North Carolina for her friends there, and her final interment outside Phoenix, Arizona which my children were there for as well.  She'd always loved the desert best of all lands.

My kids and I then went to Southern California to be with their Nonna - my Jody: former step-mother and daughter of my wonderful Grampa Arthur, she who has always been their fully realized grandmother and my best parent through all the years. In fact, before she died my mother took a moment to tell me that she'd always been grateful that my sister and I had Jody in our lives, and was forever thankful that Jody stepped up when we were young and needed a real parent.  So we're at our safe haven, our home in the U.S., and I'm trying to figure out the new puzzle of my life and mourn my mother.

We stay through the new year.   Jody has her own things going on of course, and I'm finally able to be there and be supportive.  She'd been our life-line, giving and supportive beyond belief always, but especially so in the last several hardship years, and though I'd made sure the kids got out to be with her every summer, it'd been years since she and I had time together.  Now it became clear to me she needed some support as well.  The things your loved ones don't tell you when you're far away and have troubles of your own can end up changing your priorities very quickly.

The end decision was the only right one in my power, I couldn't live so far away from people who need me anymore.  I have a very real family of 'other bloods' in Ireland, but they're all doing pretty well, and I knew it was time to focus on Jody, and be available to her and the others in my family here that I'd neglected for so long. 

So, here I am living with Jody in San Bernardino, California since the 1st of March.  I used my savings to move us here and keep us going.  I finally got an entry-level part-time job at the end of April - a struggle since I've no work history in the U.S. and I'm a middle-aged non-professional with jack-of-all-trades work history.  My non-work, non-jobhunt life has been pretty trying: studying, discussing and playing poker was a key factor in my life, and has kept me positively focused on possibilities during my last 15 years.  Out here there's no online, of course, and it's been too long since I had the money to play live.  What's worse is I'm waaay too far away for a meet-up with my mates on The Hendon Mob Forum.  I'm jonesing for sure.  I thought for a very short while I'd be able to make a living playing poker, but I just didn't have the bankroll for it.  So while my stats are still good, and I'm officially still up several thousand, my life expenses just don't give me the opportunity on this flop.

However.  Tomorrow I have a very good chance at a full time position with perks and future career opportunities.  I've been recruited, they want me, but it's not a done deal yet.  A full time job would not only mean my life expenses are covered, but I can begin rebuilding my bankroll as well and have enough money for us to make a visit home to Ireland.  On hearing this job news today I felt like the card that's come down on 4th street is a good one. 

So, let's see, we had a pair of 10's with a flop of A J 9 rainbow and the villain bet out and we called.  Well, the turn is an 8.  Possibilities. 

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Right Place, Right Time?

I had my orientation day yesterday. It's the first time I've worked for a such big company - it's quite a machine. We 'new hires' were a group of 12 from all different departments; from pastry chef to security guard to beverage porter.

The youngest guy there, Alonso, is fresh out of high school and this is his first job. He's super naive and crazy excited to be hired as a beverage porter. We all have to tell a bit about ourselves at the beginning of the day. Alonso's from an immigrant Mexican family (he arrived in the US at one year old) and tells us he's thrilled to have right-to-work status and he's going to stay focused on making the most of that opportunity. He has a natural smile any mother would smother-hug him for, and doesn't seem to have an ounce of guile or attitude.

During the walking tour of the premises, while the team trainer is showing us all the general points of interest we should be able to identify for the customers, Alonso asks the team trainer how many bars the place has. The trainer smiles and says, "focused on your job, huh?" - he goes on to say he's not certain, he'd estimate maybe 8 to 12 different bars but they could find out for sure later.

Throughout the day we learn about all the rules for employees (loads) and the benefits for full-timers (loads and generous), get fed in the company cafeteria (packed - great salad bar) and generally see a lot of slides and sign a lot of papers.

At the end of the day, The General Manager of the corporation and the VP come into the training room to speak to us. They're quite personable and refer to themselves by their first names. The GM leads a very relaxed Q & A about the company and its history and the focus on teamwork, saying if we do only two things: help our team members and help our customers, it will be noticed and we will succeed in our positions and our careers with the company.

This corporate situation is all new to me but I'm well aware that most companies will use those same words no matter how cut-throat the way they operate. Honestly, when I hear a company/employer use the word 'team' it usually puts me into cynic mode. I chose to apply for a job here, though, because every company person I'd encountered so far, as a customer and as a job-seeker, had actually behaved the way the posters dotted around the joint said they should.

So, anyway, after the General Manager finished talking with us, he turned it over to the VP, telling us she'd worked with the company for over 18 years and was also a member of the family that started the company and still owns and operates it. The VP told us she just wanted to be there to meet us and say hello and wish us all the best as new team members and then she asked if anyone had any questions for her.

After a beat, Alonso raised his hand. When the VP said 'Yes?' Alonso replied, "How many bars are there here?"

There was some light laughter from everybody, including the VP and GM. I cringed a wee bit for Alonso. After a second, the VP smiled and said, "Well, that's an interesting question for you to ask me." The Trainer called from the back, "Alonso is a new beverage porter." The VP responded, "Well then that's a perfect question for you to ask me, Alonso!" and turned to the GM and they both started working it out by naming and counting the bars on their fingers, smiling the whole time. When she gave Alonso the final tally, the VP smiled at him and said, "You look like you're raring to go." He grinned and sort of wriggled in his seat and said, "I am!".

Those two high-ups (as high-up as you can get around here really) met that moment with such easy-going grace that it left me feeling a bit 'Alonso' myself.

p.s.  I get my first paycheck Friday 10th May.  I may play before then but will definitely play that weekend!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Oasis spotted...

I got a bloody part-time job today!!!!

Went for a second interview, got offered the position there and then (and sent straight for the urine drug test when I accepted )

Passed that (adrenaline and caffeine are obv legal) and now I go for background check interview tomorrow. It's not much - entry level at $9.00/hr - but will get me started feeling sorted. I can't expect much when my last 10+ years of employment have been in Ireland and my talents and skills don't translate well on paper. (i.e. no degrees, just experience)

On a side note, I've been pretty shocked how many and varied the businesses are that now all require these pretty invasive checks. My records etc are as clean as an obsessive/compulsive's hands, but I can't help thinking all this is OTT.

Anyway, after I make some calculations regarding what my take-home wages will be, I'll know what I'll be adding to my BR each week and start playing accordingly again. Most likely at 1/3 at Morongo and 2/3 at the Bike.

I'm that excited about getting back to the tables again that I've decided I've got to set myself a task for the first 1/2 hour or so... I'm thinking of some memory poker tasks, maybe IDing players like... Seat 1: stack 380, 30ish male, coffee Seat 2: stack 200, player card, 20ish male, water Seat 3: ... And so on, just to get focused. If anyone has any other ideas to keep the able-player-morphs-into-overexcited-fish syndrome at bay, please let me know!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Rolling With It

I didn't get that seemingly perfect job I wanted.  I was pretty gutted but the fam was happy because it turned out it was full time and would cut down my opportunities to play poker seriously.

I've put a strict bind on myself that I can't play until I get that part-time job.  Even though I feel I'm out of the scared money/bad play cycle I was in, it's just not smart for me to play yet because I don't have the right bankroll for even $2/3 and this experience has taught me I don't have the gambool when my liferoll is going unfed. 

I'm mulling over a staking offer I got, but I'm pretty much torn about taking it because in my gut it I know I'd be more centered and play better if I had that steady non-poker income.   Funny thing is, if my life roll were bigger I think I'd jump at this particular staking opportunity but as it is I'm not comfortable.  Possibly because I've made my own way in the world since I was 17 and taking the staking deal because I 'need' it sits wrong with me.

Anyway, two more interviews coming up - this time for true part-time jobs.  And I've not been wasting my time away from the tables - lots of studying videos and HHs and watching Live at the Bike (even through the rough tech issues haha).  I'll post again when there's anything worth typing.:club:

Friday, 5 April 2013

Fool's Gold

09:15 (am) Tuesday, 04/02/2013 Golden Nugget Casino room #19-107:

My phone rings. Thankfully I still have one earbud in so I hear it and can pull the cord like a fishing line to find my phone. Must be some emergency - everyone I know knows that I'm in Las Vegas so they wouldn't be ringing me at this backward hour for nothing. It's Vegas! I got to bed at 7am!

But it's THE call - I'm "the chosen one"!!! Thank goodness Tina (hopefully soon to be my new boss), is quite easy and relaxed to talk with. I somehow sound coherent and set 2pm Friday as the day I meet the Managing Director.* On my way to a having a back up plan for my poker dreams

I found the Golden Nugget Poker Room a wearying place. All down to the regs. Especially one - we'll call him Budman. Because he kept going on about the weed he was chewing out of a little baggie while he played. I'd have found him entertaining company except that he was a cheater.

All was going well and I was having a great time at the 1/2 nlhe table: friendly, happy tourists and friendly, able dealers. Then another table broke and the players took our three empty seats. The 20something drunk guy in seat 5 was skilled, but drunk spewy, and he had well over $1500 on the table. It's a no max buy-in, but I think he'd won a lot of his $ earlier in the night when he'd downed fewer crown regal's. I'm using the $ symbol because here chips and cash play and while his stack was 500+his pile of $100 bills was very thick. Budman quickly grabbed the seat to his right and proceeded to lean back and sideways and any way he needed to go out of his way to look at seat 5 cards every hand. I told seat 5 to protect his hand and was told off for it by seat 9, a older latin lady who had just been brought to the table by Budman. I then said it to the dealer but he ignored it. When a new dealer sat, the second hand he dealt he told seat 5 to protect his cards but he was staring straight into Budman’s eyes as he spoke. That kept it in line for only a few minutes, but as soon as he spotted Budman started leaning again, the dealer repeated his warning.

I have to say, this situation tilted me pretty hard. Within an hour after sitting, Budman had called over 2 other regs. That’s normal, though not the loud and obvious way they all handled it. The tourists at the table were all talking about it quietly at the table and more openly outside the poker room on smoke breaks – and the atmosphere at the table was dismal. But that negative hunting atmosphere I’d have dealt with fine – it’s stupid short-term thinking to let a table full of tourists see your shark teeth. But the cheating is something apart and it did my head in. I’d like to hear if anyone would have taken any further/different steps with Budman. I would’ve given up and switched tables finally but there were no other seats available.

My session was okay in the end. As for the entire Golden Nugget poker room scene, it’s very small and doesn’t have food service, however they give away a lot of small bonuses for hitting different high hands and the tourists were good fun and mostly easy enough profit. But the regs I encountered definitely made it an ugly place to be.

Session stats:
Duration: 7hrs
Buy-in: $300.00
Cash-out: $435.00
P/L: +$135

P/L: +3,475.00
$/hour: +$15.51
Hours: 224

*meeting seemed to go well - I'm told I'll hear tonight or tomorrow whether it's or ...

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Twas the night before Easter

I felt much more calm and focused after watching the Tommy Angelo video. That, combined with feeling centered about my game while playing online, made me decide to head to the casino today. I really wanted to know if I could play my best before I get to Las Vegas tomorrow - I've never played poker there and I decided I'd rather blow some money here if my tilt play attacked again and then just be in Vegas for a mad (non-poker) holiday.

The first substantive hand I was involved in I mis-played AK: too soft p/f and ended losing 85 of my 300 stack. (Max buy-in for $2/5 here is $300) Played a few more hands, took small pots - up to 280 when I got AA. Played it excellently to get all the chips in on the turn heads up (7s4hJs Qd), river Qc and I lose to Qs9c. NH. I told the dealer to lock my seat and went out for a breather.

I did a tilt-check: all my mind was focused on was how I wanted to be in that spot again and again with seat 9. And a couple of other good reasons for being at the table: there were three other players overvaluing their hands besides seat 9 and all were willing and had done full re-buys and this kind of table was exactly what had led me to good sessions before my tilt-capade. So I got $300 more out of the machine. Yes, I know casino machines charge an arm and a leg and your firstborn but I thought the worst poker decision would be to leave.

The table broke after another hour or so of me not doing much and I sat at a table that looked just as good - except for one reg I'd seen before, quite the table captain with a loud voice and an opinion on every hand, lots of gold jewelry to go with his manicure, but he's not rude or bad-tempered by any means. He's actually quite a good player and a great reader of other players' hands. He's occasionally caught out by a fish making one of those bizarre winning hands, or folding to what seems to have to be a superior hand, but he doesn't berate them so I can live with him.

Tonight he had K4 on a 4d4cQd10s10d board and folded to a monster re-raise only to find the winning fish proudly showing his Ad6d. Fish had nearly folded on the flop, and actually play was stopped for a minute while players discussed it with dealer, but it fairly was decided since he hadn't released his cards, he was indeed allowed to re-check them like he wanted to and call the big re-raise he was facing. Table captain was (obv) one of the players asserting that since fish hadn't released his cards, they were live. Table captain did tank quite a while before his fold on the river but couldn't figure what he was beating. He never thought the fish was quite that much of a trout to be certain his flush was the nuts (and neither did the rest of us).

Anyway, that dynamic aside, my first real pot after a few limpers I raised to $35 w/ AcJc in LP, got two callers, saw Js 5c 7h, pot is ~$120 and I get donk-bet into by a reg for $75. He's a laggy older Asian player (always frowning but doesn't say much) - I tanked for a bit: He could have a set, 2pair, a worse Ace - really I'd seen everything with this guy, and especially that he likes to bet people off their hands. I figured I couldn't do anything but shove/fold with my stack. (sat with something >$300 after last broken table) I shoved. He called. J hits turn (Table Captain looks at me and says: you've got it now) river 10. Frown turns over 5d7c. Bit of an iffy way for me to double up, but I'll take it!

After that I continued to sit up and breathe and play well and also get lucky. Stacked a really nice old gent (about 80yrs old) who played quite well mostly but got too tricky with KK: I was in CO w/Qd10d, pot limped around entire table to SB who raised to $35 (into pot of ~$37 after rake), the bet was called in all but one spot so I called too and my gent on the button flatted with his K's as well. Flop came Qx10x6x, ck ck ck ck... to me. I bet out, old gent raises, I Re, he shoves and we're all in and I finish with a house to his KK. Felt kind've bad that it was him over anyone else because we'd been chatting along happily, but mostly I felt great of course.

I went on a good heater and ended well up.

Session stats:

Duration: 6:16
Buy-In: $600.
Cash-out: $1,435.


P/L: +$3,340.
$/hour: $15.39
Hours: 217

My heater was of the nature that a player I recognized (as a person I didn't much like tbh, obnoxious with a 'poker' baseball cap on) kept saying to the rest of the table: "You guys have sh** for brains when you keep playing with seat 6 in the hand! hahaha!" and the like.

It annoyed me even a bit after I left, but then I realized a guy like that was perfect - if he's so convinced of poker voodoo then he's someone I should play with again.

Anyway, playing well and spotting when I wasn't playing well and adjusting etc. leaves me feeling relaxed about Vegas tomorrow - but still on guard against the tilt-capade. I guess I'm also looking forward to seeing what celebrations Las Vegas creates for Easter LOL!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Learning to breathe

First: my interview went great, they even liked the fact that I was a poker player! I am told to wait and hear by early/mid next week about whether I'm chosen to meet with the Director of Ops and officially hired. The Human Resources Manager pulled me aside to kindly say, "Wear a suit when you meet with the Director - he thinks professionalism = suit." so I'm pretty confident

Second: I feel very lucky at this moment! I was browsing around different poker threads and sites - actually tracing someone I perceived as a troll on a poker forum in a thread I like started it off. I wanted to know what the guy was like that would come into someone's poker goals thread and be, well, dismissive is the kindest way I could say it. I traced his posts to other threads and so forth and in the end that search led me well outside the box. Eventually I ended up on Tommy Angelo's website and for signing up to his mailing list you get a free download of the last of his video series on the path to poker enlightenment - and it's called Tiltlessness! I've listened/watched half of it now (about 40 mins so far) and can't believe I found something I really needed to hear.

My current goal (besides getting some back-up income) is to play my best in Las Vegas when I head there on Sunday. I think the TA vid is going to help loads with that goal.

Anyway, before I keep rambling on and sound even more like a guppygroupie, I'm going back to finish the rest of the vid.