Monday, November 9, 2015

When I was eleven years old, my parents, sister and I visited Yellowstone National Park. I decided it was time to check it out again. Maybe it's changed, right?

The Park offers various tours, but you should sign up ahead of time to be sure of getting a place. I enrolled about this time last year to take the Essential Yellowstone Package. Package is a better name than tour as it included lodging, escorted touring, and most meals. I arrived Monday and left Friday with lots of fantastic stuff in between. Our group stayed in Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins.

We usually left left about 8 a.m. on our minibus with a dedicated guide. He said he wasn't a guide, but a teacher, and had a master's degree in something related (I don't remember exactly what). He was excellent, by the way. Well, 8 a.m. was correct most days, but one we left at 6 a.m. to see gray wolves in the Hayden Valley.

Above: Notice how the steam that comes from deep in the earth condenses, hardens, and forms walls for Castle Geyser.

Above: Yellowstone is said to be the world's largest concentration of geysers. Old Faithful is not the biggest, but it is the best known geyser in the Park.

Above: There are many geothermal activities besides geysers. This one is named Crested Pool.

Above: MOJO with the Yellowstone Grand Canyon in the background.

Above: The bison own the park, we were just visiting.

Above: We traveled each day on this mini-bus.

Above: This skeleton was probably an antelope or deer.

Photos taken with my point-and-shoot.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Above: Chicago is the location for the Summer North American Bridge Championship.

I'm in Chicago for the Summer North American Bridge Championships being held at the Chicago Hilton. Before you make leave any disparaging comments about Chicago, keep in mind that I was born here, um, well, several years ago. I did a Google search and my hospital is 25 blocks north of where I'm playing bridge.

I qualified for Day 2 of the Life Master Pairs playing with Bernie Yomtov, but missed advancing to Day 3, so I'm taking today (Sunday) off. Next up is the Senior Swiss Teams on Monday and Tuesday. Playing with Sandy McCay, Gene Simpson and Harvey Brody. Then the Mixed Board-a-Match Teams with Sandy and Jay and Kathy Baum. Friday is a sightseeing day, and Saturday I'll travel back to Orlando airport.

The weather here is wonderful. Seems like it is about 80 to 82 each day and a low of about 70. I'm enjoying walking around in shorts and a tee shirt when not playing bridge.

Above: The Willis Tower, built as and still commonly referred to as the Sears Tower, is a 108-story, 1,451-foot skyscraper. Click to enlarge.

Above: Some cities have their subways, but Chicago has the iconic L (short for elevated). From the airport, I took the Orange Line for $3 and a 20 minute ride to downtown. A taxi would have been $40 and a 30 minute ride. Um, you do the math.

Above: Love these lines while looking up at the tracks of the L -- gives an interesting photo op.

Top image from the ACBL web site. The other three taken with my point-and-shoot.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Phil Helmuth has a blindspot

I was just reading about the WSOP National Championship on the WSOP web site. This tournament is composed of players who have won a ring at the WSOP circuit main events in the previous year or were high in various player of the year rankings. They are also now allowing players to buy in directly for $10,000.

Loni Harwood is a favorite of mine, and I was pleased to see she won this event for her second bracelet. I was in New Orleans in 2012 when she won her first ring see here. I congratulated her and was impressed in that she was nice to a nobody like me. Some players aren't like that.

While reading the National Championship report, I ran across this:

It was no surprise to see numerous bracelet winners in this tough field, including the record holder for most career WSOP bracelets. Phil Hellmuth bought into this event, taking his seat just after dinner on Day 1. His stay was short lived, however, as he busted out just about two hours later.

Phil Hellmuth is a smart player, but I think he does one thing which is completely dumb. He likes to make his entrance into a tourament well after its start. His thinking, I believe, is that the pots aren't that big until after antes kick in. He calls it entering "fashionably late."

First of all, pots indeed can be big during the early portion. I've seem players spew off tons of chips with marginal hands. The flop is A 8 5, and they have big slick. They bet the flop, bet the turn and get raised and call. Then they call a big bet on the river and act surprised when the other player shows them a set of 8s.

The main thing, however, you give up when you enter late is watching the players at your table. How they bet, how they handle their chips, what cards they show in what situations, etc. There is a gold mine of information out there that Phil Hellmuth misses.

I don't get it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Do you like to accumulate things?

Derby Lane is having a type of tournament that I've not played in before. It's called the July Accumulator Series.

The tournament has nine Day 1s. There are Day 1s on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Then for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, there is a Day 1 at 1 p.m. and another at 6 p.m. Each Day 1 plays down until there are 12% of the starting field left -- then players bag chips. The entry fee is $160 (with $10 dealer toke), and if you bag chips, you get your $150 back. For the final on Sunday, you can use your two biggest chip stacks combined into one. If you make Day 2, you are in the money and the prize pool is guaranteed at $100,000.

I did a quick analysis on the Patience Factor, and it was 16 which is pretty good. I like to do that scrutiny. The starting stack is 20,000 chips, but the blind levels for all the Day 1s, are only 20 minutes (40 minutes for Day 2). Sometimes, 20K chips sounds like a lot, but then the tournament organizers zoom up the blinds at the speed of light. That's not the case here, though.

I think I'll go to St. Petersburg and play and see how I like it. If all goes well, I'll try again so as to bag twice to have a shot on Sunday.

EDIT: I played today (Wednesday) and bagged chips, albeit only 76K. I had a 150K stack and lost an all in to a shorty for a 60K pot (A-Q vs. 10-10), and lost another when I raised from the cutoff with A-J and was called by the big blind. I made a CB on the flop, and the big blind (who had me covered) went all in, sigh.

I'm going to play at least once more and try to get a second stack to combine with this to have a reasonable shot on Sunday, Day 2.

Update No. 2: I played yesterday and whiffed the 1 p.m session, but tried it again at 6 p.m. I bagged for 79,600. I got home at 3 a.m. I found myself playing cautiously on the bubble. Now that I have two chip stacks, I might play once more to try and advance with a big stack so might repeat on Saturday. The final is Sunday.

Undate No. 3: The final was Sunday and I finished 89th for $370, not what I was hoping for when first place paid $27,000ish. Because there were so many short stacks, it was a shove-fest from the beginning. I don't mind that, but at some point I needed to get my share of the pie, something that never happened. It's hard to call a shove with a queen and a 6. My busto hand was a Q-J vs. K-7 vs. 8-7 off. When I ran it though Equilab, it said I had 40% equity. When the board ran out with no pairs, the king-high hand was a winner.