BobC / Member

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BobC Blog

Vacation: Las Vegas, poker, and lounging around.

Went to Las Vegas with a few buddies last week to see Cal play BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl. OK actually we were there to play poker, and Cal being in the LV Bowl made a convenient excuse for us to go to Vegas. Despite losing a couple hundred at the tables (i'm about this close to swearing off low limit poker b/c of the suck-out calling stations that always hit their 2 outers on the river to snap off my pocket aces), this was one of the more enjoyable trips to Vegas I've made.

Day 1 highlights -- Wednesday, Dec 21. We're on a 6:30AM flight from Oakland, and it's cold and miserably drizzling in the Bay Area. All of us are groggy as hell because we'd been up very late. We arrive in Vegas at about 8AM, cab it to Luxor and find that we're not allowed to check in until 11:30AM. After having breakfast at the Pyramid Cafe, we trundle on over to the MGM to enter their 11AM daily no-limit hold'em tournament. I busted out after about the first hour--wasn't able to build on my stack before the first break, getting blinded down a bit. The blinds started going up so I felt I needed to make some moves to build my stack before getting blinded off. On one hand after all players folded to me in the small blind I attempted to steal the big blind by raising with A-8. The big blind reraised me all-in. Had I folded in this position I'd have been totally crippled, so I moved the rest of my chips in, and was rather upset to find that I was against 8-8. No aces fell and I busted out. However, my friend Lester managed to actually win this tournament, netting quite a hefty sum! Not bad for someone who consumed no less than 11 bottles of Coors Light over the course of the 3 hour tournament. Hey, drinks are free at the poker tables--gotta take advantage.

After that excitement, we finally were able to check into the hotel to drop off our bags, and we played a little more poker before going to the Bellagio buffet for dinner -- always a highlight of any Vegas trip.

More poker after that, deep into the night, but along the way, we met the best cabbie EVER on our way to the Wynn casino and their Lure nightclub. This guy picked us up at Bellagio, and was one of those chatty cab drivers who likes to tell his life story. Retired NYPD cop, claimed to be making $80,000 a year take-home, working 4 days a week (clearly I'm in the wrong line of work) on top of his $40,000 a year pension as a retired cop. Bought a 5BR, 2800 sq ft house in 2000 for $150K, which is now worth more than 4x as much. So we asked him what he did with all that money and he told his us favorite hobby was strip clubs. Excellent -- we quizzed him on what his favorite strip clubs were and he seemed knowledgable enough that we suggested he start a strip club ratings website. We also asked him what sorts of crazy stuff happened to him as a cabbie. At that point he whipped out his camera to show off pictures of an exhibitionist couple who asked if they could have sex in his cab. So he told us all about it, inviting us to flip through the pictures in his camera as he told the story. Some part of me was grossed out, knowing I was in the same cab as this couple who got it on right where I was sitting, but I was drunk enough at the time to be more amused than anything else.

Day 2) The next day we woke up and joined Luxor's daily poker tournament at noon. This tournament structure was very, very strange. The first hour or so was limit poker. I managed to tread water during this stage, going down to the felt a couple of times, but stayed alive by going all-in at those times with some fortunate holdings of JJ, QQ, and AA that actually held up. By the time the tournament switched to no-limit, I had a decent sized stack and started making more aggressive moves to try and bully the short stacks, including my boy Lester who pushed all in with a short stack late in the tournament on my big blind. I called the bet blindly, without looking at my cards, because it wasn't much more money and I was getting plenty of pot odds. He turned over K-7 and I flipped over, much to my dismay, 2-7, the worst starting hand in hold'em. What's even worse is that my hand was dominated by his, making him around a 3-1 or 4-1 favorite to win. I spiked a 2 on the flop and KO'd him. Unfortunately that momentum wasn't enough to carry me, and I busted out in 9th place, 2 spots out of the money. Amazingly enough though, my friend James won this tournament, making our crew 2 for 2 on tournaments this trip to that point.

After that, we had to prep for the football game later that evening. We hit up the convenience store in the Luxor and picked up a fifth of rum and a liter of Coke. Lester and I alone nearly killed that fifth of rum in about 40 min time at which point it was time for us to cab it to the stadium. I had quite a buzz going, and Lester actually passed out in the cab, but we otherwise made it the stadium unscathed and just in time for the game. Our four seats were split into pairs, so James and Mikey went to their seats while Lester and I somehow stumbled our way to find ours.

I will say this about Sam Boyd stadium - it has charm like an oversized high school stadium. Even the food was reasonably priced -- premium pints of beer for 6 bucks, large cheeseburgers for 4 bucks, and garlic fries for 3 bucks. Prices like that for stadium fare are unheard of in this day and age.

Our seats were on the 20 yard line, on the sixth row - we were right up front to the action and it was awesome. But as we made our way to the seats I became rather confused hearing a girl's voice calling my name (remember I was still pretty drunk having consumed half a bottle of rum). I turned around and found an old college friend of mine in the stands just one section over, proving the theory that you usually run into someone you know in Vegas.

The game was quite enjoyable, thanks in no small part to the fact that Cal won. As the name of this blog suggests, DeSean Jackson is in fact, your daddy, as he caught two TDs in the game and will be a future Heisman contender if we ever get a decent quarterback for him. I was slightly disappointed that BYU made it close in the end. I would have had an even better time if Cal had continued stomping on the Cougars like they were in the 3rd quarter when it was 35-14. No matter.

We intended to go to the Light club in Bellagio after the game to join the rest of the Cal young alumni in celebration, but the game itself and the drinking tired us out, and we opted instead to just chill in the room for a bit guessed it...playing more poker at MGM.

Btw, MGM is now officially my favorite poker room in Vegas. Unlike some other casinos on the strip that fence off a section of the floor, put a few tables in and call it a day, the poker room at MGM was actually designed and built to be a feature of the casino, not an afterthought. It stylishly wraps around a circular bar, is well lit, and has tables that include a thin granite ring around the sides to stack your chips on. The felt is ultra high quality and seems to attract zero lint. There are plasma screens visible from any angle tuned into ESPN, and even the seats are extremely cushioned and comfortable to sit on for long play sessions. The cocktail waitresses also come by quite often for drink orders. If you're a poker aficionado, you must check out the MGM next time you're in Vegas.

Day 3) We checked out of Luxor at 11, then headed over to Aladdin to nosh on their buffet. I have to say, it's easily the second best buffet in Vegas behind the Bellagio that I've tried (still haven't sampled the one at Wynn). Quite a variety of different genres. The Chinese food there was pretty white-washed as you might expect, but the Mexican and Indian offerings were quite good, as was the prime rib and seafood. After this, Lester entered Aladdin's noon tournament, but the rest of us chose to play pai-gow and limit poker to while away the time before we had to head to the airport. Believe it or not, Lester finished 3rd in that tournament, netting another handsome sum of money. He actually would have won it if not for suffering a bad beat that knocked him out. He was holding KK against KQ all in, making him about a 92% to win against the big stack at the table. J-X-X flopped, but amazingly, the big stack caught a running T and 9 to finish off his straight. Heartbreaking, but that's poker.

The rest of my vacation has been quite chill compared to the Vegas trip. Went straight to LA after Vegas to spend Christmas with the family. Lots of eating, last minute Christmas shopping, and I was so bored in LA that I finally busted out the PS2 and finished God of War. Also took my sisters to our favorite Cuban restaurant, Versailles, for some of their famous roasted lemon garlic chicken. Then it was back to the Bay.

My friends held a housewarming party/poker tournament on Thursday. Alex Navarro actually made it out, but that flaker Carrie totally flaked out on us.  I made a big pot of collard greens to go along with the meatloaf that the hosts provided. The guests generously pitched in giant sandwiches, cookies, beer, and a ton of booze. The big news here is that we had a 20-man poker tournament, which I won! Woohoo! I made back a good chunk of the money that I lost in Vegas with that win. I also got somewhat hooked on Guitar Hero, which is bad news because I'm quite close to buying my own copy now =(

To do list for rest of break:

-Play basketball, start lifting again

-Beat RE4, Psychonauts, Dragon Quest VIII, Indigo Prophecy

-Reset my sleeping cycle. Why in God's name am I still up at 5:45 AM spewing out poorly-written blog entries?  

Four more years!

From the unlikely hero file: Steve Levy, a lightly recruited quarterback from New Jersey, who was so far buried on the depth chart that he briefly switched to playing fullback, comes on to make his only career start in place of embattled transfer QB Joe Ayoob. Levy led the Bears to a dominating 27-3 win over the stanfurd cardinal, making it Cal's fourth straight win in the rivalry. Levy set the tone with a 56 yard TD bomb early in the first quarter.

On the other side of the ball, the wankers from Palo Alto mustered an impotent 26 yards rushing on 36 carries, and were sacked 8 times in the game. Cal's defense controlled the game from start to finish. When Cal RB Justin Forsett scored on a 21 yard scamper in the 3rd quarter to extend the Bears' lead to 13-3, stanfurd's hopes were all but quashed, as they were never able to muster any kind of offensive rhythm.

GO BEARS! Four more years!

X360 pricing rant: the irritable, ornery hangover edition

EDIT warning: After reading all that, I come off even more ornery than I originally intended. Just try not to take it too personally if any of these points hit home--it reads funnier that way. :D

"Only a complete idiot would buy the $299 model" - Michael Pachter

I couldn't have said it better myself. Wired controllers, no HD cables, and no hard disk. Yikes. Talk about being a second class citizen. There's a lot of hand-wringing on the forums about people who actually think this is a smart move, or don't understand the repercussions of all this. I'm going to attempt to refute all the misinformed defense of the "Core system" here.

"We don't need a hard drive -- I hardly used any of the HD space on my Xbox. I'll just buy memory cards."

Good grief--this particular sentiment makes my head hurt. A lot. You must not be a PC gamer to think this, so without getting too technical, let me put it to you this way. How do you think that Xbox games load levels so much faster than the equivalent PS2 game? You a big sports gamer--why do you think it's so much easier to scroll back in a season and check stats and basically carry out a franchise mode on the Xbox version of a sports game than on the PS2 version? Play a lot of RPGs--Why do so many PS2 games have an annoying, arbitrary limit on the number of save games, but some Xbox games pretty much let you make and keep 100 saves if you want? I'll give you a hint. It's not that MS packages a magic goblin from Redmond, WA in every Xbox. It's the hard drive that lets you do this. Hard drive caching is that friend of yours who helps you out so much, but you never pay any attention to him. Now that developers can't count on there being a HD with every X360, I am worried that those of us who do have the hard drive will be totally underserved, because the devs won't design with a hard drive in mind.

So when you go buy your core 360 system with no HD and you're getting annoyed at the 1 hr it takes to load up a Quake 4 level with all its gigantic, pretty textures....when you want to throw your (wired) controller out the window b/c you can't peruse box scores older than 5 weeks in your Madden 07 franchise mode...when you're wringing your hands b/c you need more than 4 save slots in your Morrowind game, take a moment to think about that "useless hard drive you didn't need." Because when it happens to me and I do have a hard drive, but the games aren't taking full advantage of it...I'm going to be thinking not-so-fondly about all of you, and especially of the nimrods at MS who thought the core system would be a good idea.

No matter how you try to spin it, not having a hard drive means we're taking a step back into the last generation, not forward into the next one. It irks me to no end that none of the next-gen consoles will have a standard hard drive.

"I don't need high definition cables. I don't even have a HDTV"

This one I can sympathize with just a little bit more, because buying an HDTV is not a trivial expense. But at the same time, I have a sneaking suspicion that most people who are saying this are the same people playing their Xbox games on their 20 year old, 13" TV, connected by an RF adapter. If that's you (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE), I have to ask: why did you even bother buying a console after the SNES? Because with that kind of a setup, SNES/Genesis is about as good of graphics as you can expect to see. With the PS2/Xbox/GC era, everyone should have gotten a TV that at the very least, had S-Video connection. With the upcoming era, you should be budgeting to get an HDTV at some point during that generation.

If you're still using a godawful TV that only has composite, or Lord forbid, RF capability, you need to cowboy up and buy a real TV. Do not use your money to buy a next-gen console. Buy a better TV now. Using a bad TV with current and next generation consoles is like going to the movie theater with your glasses smeared over with Crisco, and then complaining that the special effects sucked and the picture wasn't sharp. The pain is self-inflicted.

"Wireless controllers aren't that important"

Yea, and people used to think that pagers and cell phones would only come in handy for doctors and lawyers. You keep on using that broomstick to change the channel on your TV. The rest of us will be blissfully wireless.

How to make a 6'2 man look small

Have him stand next to Shaq. I had the chance to meet Shaq at a recent press event at 2K Sports (he's the cover of NBA 2K6). He's a really funny guy, and is always hamming it up, even for the small crowd of press who gathered to watch him and Marvin Williams do mo-cap work for the game. I have some other pictures of him in his custom made black mo-cap body suit. He just might be the world's largest ninja! Tyler and I joked he should make a new film called "Ninja Gigante"! Hey Shaq, if you're reading this, gimme a call. Your agents and I will work this out and get it done.

Celebrity Lookalikes

Sidney Crosby (new draft pick of Pittsburgh Penguins...supposedly the 2nd coming of Gretzky)

Equals....Mitch from Real Genius!

Must...stop...playing...NCAA 06

I'm trying to, because there are tons of other games I need to clear out of my backlog. But I find myself irresistably drawn to NCAA 06's elegant gameplay, its masterful interface/controls, and its addictive dynasty modes.

Or maybe I am just using it to help count down the 38 days until Cal football takes the field for the 2005 season. I once again have season tickets for this year and I am champing at the bit to see them play. They're coming off the best season the school has had in decades, and have reloaded with incredible athletes at many positions.

Or maybe I really just want to hurry up and be able to make fun of Jason for being a UW alum and him being excited about hiring an ornery, career .500 coach as their supposed savior.

Or maybe I'm just really sick of seeing 100% baseball on ESPN and am dying to see more coverage of REAL sports like college football.

Or maybe I wish to continue worshipping coach Jeff Tedford, who is one Rose Bowl berth away from being deified for all eternity in Berkeley as a true god among men.

If I'm having this much fun going to a game in Berkeley, I can't imagine what it must be like at those there-is-football-and-nothing-else SEC and BigXII schools!

Touch football

An odd thought occurred to this very-out-of-shape gamer today. Maybe it's all the NCAA 06 I've been playing lately. Maybe I'm anxious for the kickoff to the real college football season. Maybe I really miss weighing the same amount as I did in college. Maybe I just miss having inordinate amounts of free time and having many friends who also had nothing better to do.

I really miss playing touch football in the schoolyard.

Back when I was in junior high, my friends and I would play touch football almost every weekend. We'd all ride our bikes over to one of two different school playgrounds and just take over the field. Make no mistake--we were all really terrible. None of us ever played (or even tried out, I imagine) for our high school team. Only one of us played for the junior high team. We were just 10-14 dopey sports dorks who enjoyed tossing a football around (not very far), catching the ball (sometimes), and running (slowly) for touchdowns. It was even more amusing on the few occasions that a pretty girl or two from school would happen to walk past as we were playing. We'd all try really hard to look cool, but then end up looking even dumber in the process.

But the point is that none of us had anything better to do on the weekends, and even on the weekdays if it was summertime. So it was a very easy thing to ring up two friends, and tell each of them to call two people and have them all show up at the schoolyard at a moment's notice. Now that we're old, everyone our age has jobs/marriages/house chores/adult stuff to take care of. There's no such thing as 10-12 friends who all have nothing to do all at the same time. Today I don't think I even have 10-12 friends to get a proper game of touch football going. At least, not 10-12 who'd actually be interested in you know, going OUTSIDE and playing. These days it's even impossible to round up enough to run 3 on 3 basketball on a whim. We have to Evite this kind of s**t weeks in advance, try to figure out a central location for everyone to meet at, hope no one injures themself in the meantime/has car trouble that day/gets paged into work/gets guilt-tripped into flaking out by wife or gf/whatever and cross our fingers for a game to happen.

Things are so much easier when you're a kid. I guess it didn't seem that way at the time, but with the perspective of time and experience and of course the jading effect of age...most adolescent concerns are really quite trivial. I'm not so old (yet) that I don't remember what it felt like at the time. Your problems as a pre-teen/teenager seem at the time like the entire weight of the world. Depressed because of unrequited love for some silly girl . Drama between friends who are in a tiff over something stupid. A subject in school that's difficult. The pressure of cliques and fitting in. It was so "overwhelming" then. When you get to about 20 or so (or whenever it is you personally start paying your own rent/mortgage and car payments) that's when you realize all those petty concerns were entirely retarded. Then again, most of us still waste time in our twenties wrestling with very similar drama and issues. So who am I to judge?

Err yea what was the point of this again? I got lost in a tangent there. Oh yes, touch football. At least for today, I miss playing it. Maybe it's better I'm not playing it anymore though. In the shape I'm in now, I might tear an ACL or something.

Songs you once hated...

...can grow on you. But games you once hated, never do. I was thinking about this while driving around LA this weekend, and PM Dawn's "Set Adrift On a Memory Bliss" came on the radio. I used to hate that song with a passion. Yes, I was actually annoyed at the sampling of Spandau Ballet's "True." But years of occasional, but repeated exposure to the song has softened me, and now I've actually warmed to it. This isn't the only example of me liking songs I once hated.

But games you hate, never seem to grow on you. I suppose it's because you can't passively take in a game for a few minutes like you can with music. You have to actively play a game to experience it. And you're generally not going to do that with a game you dislike. But in the few cases where I have had repeated exposure to a game I dislike, I never do seem to warm to it. The Halo series is a great example. I've never cared for it. And everytime I find myself stuck playing it, I don't seem to enjoy myself much more than the last time.