Starving Crazed Weasels, July

Pretty decent turnout. At my table I had Cassie to my left, then Kevin, then Emily, then Robin, then Pete.

Cassie is a loose/passive. She calls too many hands pre-flop and then pretty much check calls to the river but she will fold if she hits nothing on the flop. Kevin is a tricky player. He plays a wide range of hands, will raise with little, call with anything from the nuts to a made hand, re-raise if he thinks you will fold...Emily plays different every time out. Lately she has been loose/passive but with looser calling standards than Cassie has. Tends to make to many calls because she doesn't believe the better...but calls with nothing herself. Robin is a tighter player who will raise with her good hands. Pete is a loose-aggressive player who makes a lot of moves. Me? I switch it up ever game.

Early on there were 3 limpers, I limped with 9/10 Diamonds knowing Cassie would check in the big blind. Flop came down 8/J/K, 2 diamonds. I raised, everyone folded.

Then I went card dead. For a long, long time. Nothing I could play. Kevin, Robin and Pete were taking turns raising. So I had to pick my place to make a move. Finally won a couple small pots. Picked up K/2 diamonds. Randomly called a raise from Kevin planning to steal. Someone else also called...I think it was Emily. Flop gave me a pair of Deuces and flush draw. I called another raise, Em also called. Turn was a blank. I called anyway. River gave me the flush. Kev raised, Em called...I though about re-raising but weakly called. My flush beat their straights...Em had the low end, Kevin the high end.

By now Emily was getting low. She had about 5 blinds was all. I picked up the Cowboys under the gun, raised 5 blinds. Em called, everyone else folded. The Cowboys held up and she was gone.

A while later with a limper I completed from the small blind. Cassie had yet to raise pre-flop so it seemed safe. Sure enough, she checked. I had K/2 again. Flop came K/Q/2, 2 clubs. I raised. Cassie came over the top all in, everyone else folded. Since her raise was only 200 over the 500 or so I had raised it was an easy call. She had 7/8 clubs, flush draw. It did not get there and I had put out my second person. Funny thing is...I was doing it with horrible cards. I was playing really poorly.

With an action oriented table like this with frequent raises I should not be playing K/2 type hands...yet I had done so twice. Now we moved Phillip over.

Phillip is good when he is patient but he tends to get bored so he plays a lot of questionable hands. But he seldom re-raises or raises into multiple limpers. Having him on my left is good.

Soon after I picked up Queens under the gun and raised. Kevin called. Paint maybe? Flop came K/J/10, 2 diamonds. I had a straight draw, backdoor flush draw and 2nd pair. I bet. He almost folded, then he said, "if it is worth playing, it is worth a bit more" and called. He is not the type who does the act thing so I doubted the King. Either Jack or a draw. Or both. Bet again on the turn. Same thing. On the river he checked again.

Now, I had watched him against Pete several times. When he thought he had the best hand he would check/call to the river, then bet. So when he checked here I was pretty sure I had him beat. I thought about putting him all in but decided that would seem desperate so I raised the same amount. He hesitantly called...and rolled over the K/Q. Ouch.

That took almost half my stack. Back to tight mode.

Shortly thereafter we combined to 1 table.

To my left was Eric. Easy to read. More on that later. To my right was Joe...he plays tight/passive. Kevin was to his right, then Kenneth, then Pete and finally...uh...someone.

Ken hit a couple nice hands and built a huge chip lead. Meanwhile, I was hovering between 3K and 4K. By now the blinds were 2/400. With 3K I have an M of just over 5. When it was folded to me, just 3 people left to act I pushed my last 3100 in. Eric folded and Pete...came over the top all in. Kenneth thought about it. I actually thought he would call...the chip loss would not hurt him and he could take out me and Pete, 2 of the more difficult players. But he folded. I flipped up my A/J and Pete flipped up...2/6? What? Well, he had not been paying attention and did not realize I had moved all in. I doubled up to 6800...ironically, the highest point I would get to all night.

Up and down, no real playable hands and now Kenneth was raising liberally. With 6800 and blinds now 3/600 I could not play much. Say he raised to 1800 or 2400, both reasonable and typical raises. I call the 2400. Now there is 4800 in the pot (minimum...more if the blinds involve neither of us) and I have 4400 left. I better be pretty sure I am beat to fold there...which means if I call I am really playing for all my chips. So if I enter a pot I am only doing so with a hand and I am going to push either pre-flop or on the flop. Pre-flop I will know Kenneth is committed so that means if I play a pot he is in my chips all go in on the flop. So I was playing really tight.

Got down to about 3K again and pushed with K/10 suited. Got called by 10/J and doubled up again.

Got down to 4 players. Almost called when Kenneth and Kevin got involved but then decided to wait for a heads up opportunity. Kev went out. Now it was me, Kenneth and Eric.

Ken was playing much looser than normal...raising with q/10 type things. He was playing really well. Eric was still playing tight. I had seen him play 3 hands: A/Q, A/K and A/8 suited.

Kenneth folded on the button. I planned to raise and steal the blinds. Just as a matter of course I glanced at my cards to mask what I was doing and reached for my chips. As I did, out of the corner of my eye I saw Eric glance at his cards. He straightened up and grabbed his chips. All of them.

Now, I had seen him straighten up before. He had a hand he planned to play. I had NEVER seen him grab all his chips. I had a 10/5 off suit. I said, "Well, I am going to fold since Eric has Aces." And by his jerk and upset face I knew I was right. He wanted to double up. I said it times, Eric is REALLY easy to read.

Of course, I thought I had more or less been on my game. Back at the first table there was a hand I laid down top pair when top pair was 10s and I thought Pete had Jacks or Queens. He later said it had been Jacks. I had a pretty good feel all night for what types of hands...made hands, draws, weak or strong...people had so it was not unusual for me.

Oh well. I just had no cards all night. Finally Ken took out Eric. By now he had almost 36K and I had just about 3. The first hand I picked up queens...and he folded the small blind. I doubled up once, then picked up J/9 suited, I had said up front I was going to play fast and push hard so I moved all in...and he called with A/K suited. He played really well and deserved the win for sure.

I played pretty well to get there with no cards most of the night and never getting over come in 2nd was pretty impressive.

And it was fun so there you go.

The last softball game

My shoulder was feeling about 75% and JJ really wanted me to play in the "Wacky Ball" tournament...not sure why, but he did. I would have been happy just filming...then, I will be an idiot and push it. I tested it out a bit before the game. I would be able to bat left-handed but no way could I swing right-handed. It just hurt too much.

The first game I just watched. It was a train wreck. We were demoralized when we went down 1-2-3-4 in the first and they dropped 7 on us. After that they were just toying with us. We got 2 runners to third but never pushed a run across.

Second game we played a team that had also gotten mercy ruled. We pushed across 2 runs in the top of the third. It felt like more. It should have been more. I do not know what happened. Anyhow, in the third inning, JJ put me in at shortstop. I have not played in a couple months and this was the 1-pitch inning.

First guy was a pretty good hitter. He had a couple warning track shots under his belt already and even when he batted with the mush ball he had put it past the "girl line' in the outfield. When you realize not one of us had gotten the mush ball out of the infield in the first 2 games...he had some power. And he then hit an absolute laser. Following the rule, "the ball finds the unprepared" it was straight at me. I mis-read the hop and had my glove flat on the ground. It came up and left a nice welt on my arm. Great, my first chance in almost 2 months and I botch it.

Two other grounders to my left I fielded cleanly and made throws to first. One was late and the other was a bit off line. Nick thought he should have caught it...maybe. It would have been a tough play.

So I was a bit down on myself. I probably should have made 2 of the 3 plays.

Next inning, with one out and running the bases in reverse I somewhat redeemed myself, picking off a hot grounder, stepping on the 2-1/2 base and firing to 3rd for a double play. Ironically, that would prove to be my last defensive play of the day and, quite possibly, my softball career.

We got mercy ruled again.

Last game, Becky singled and then Phil...hit into a double play. So 2 batters in we used our re-do. This time they still got Becky on a fielders choice but at least Phil was aboard. We ended up scoring him. It would be our only run of the game. In the bottom half of the inning their 3 run guy was on 2nd, someone else on first...they hit a flare down the right field line to score we used our defensive redo. Didn't matter...this was Emy's team, one we got 20 runned by when we had a much better team than the one playing today. They racked up about 9 runs that inning.

By the 4th inning they were ahead 15-1. And then they used their offensive redo. Whatever. Way to rub it in.

The upshot just was not fun to me. Did not enjoy the tournament, got sunburned, picked up a bruised fore-arm and aggravated my shoulder. I don't think I want to play anymore.


The Major

My first Major was at Pinehurst. I had only played it once with the Goose and it seemed like a pretty easy course. Of course, back then I had a pretty weak golfer not much better than the trash golfer this game makes you start out with. Now I have a power swinging monster who can reach a 600 yard green in 2 pretty regularly.

The first hole was tough. I got a little bit right, clocked a tree and was deep in the woods. I tried to chip out on the fairway and clocked another tree. My third shot looked good until I went lumberjack which brought it up short. I was pitching for par when I got to the green and 2-putted for a double bogey.

And did the same thing on hole 2. After 2 holes I was 4 over! That has not happened forever.

Well, I went to work. I straightened my drives. My irons got more consistent. A birdie here, a couple pars there, an Eagle, a the 9th hole I was even. Then I went nuts. The back 9 suited my swing perfectly. I ended the round with back to back Eagles to go 10 under and take a 4 stroke lead into day 2. By the end of day 2 I was up 10. I had a good round...but a couple guys had better. I really felt I knew the course, though. However, I had struggled once again on the first 2 holes, going 3 over par. That was tough. But I got even by about hole 6 or 7 and went on from there to get further under par.

The third round I had the best start so far...double bogey, bogey. Whatever. For whatever reason I cannot get left of the trees on either hole. By the end I was looking good...but a couple guys were making a move. I ended the day with a 6 stroke lead.

Championship Day for my first Major. Up 6. I tried something new on the first hole. I was in the fairway but very, very short. My second shot was beautiful, giving me a long-shot birdie. I adjusted my putt...and missed so badly I ended up with bogey. By hole 5 I had lost my entire lead as Woods came from nowhere. Now it was a battle. I would gain a lead of a stroke or 2, then lose it. And then on 15 I pulled a bogey while he hit a birdie. For the first time since day 1 I trailed with just 3 holes to play. I pulled out a miracle par on 16.

17 is a par 3. I was down 1 stroke. And I blasted looked hit the DROPPED IN! I had my 2nd Ace and this one was meaningful as it gave me a 1 shot lead on Tiger, who had finished, and on Oberhauser who had 1 hole to play. So to stay safe I needed a par for a possible win, probable tie.

And I birdied to win. It was awesome. A 2 stroke win made possible by my first tournament Ace.

Tiger Round

So in the Tiger Woods Challenge on the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 I struggled mightily with the Scotland course. I was not looking forward to playing it as a Tour event since I figured that would continue.

But I came out on fire. I hit a beautiful shot to Eagle the first hole. I birdied the second hole. I birdied the 3rd hole. I hit par on the 4th. By the 10th hole I was 10 under for the round. I ended at 14 under, setting my all time record of 58. I did not bogey a single hole. It was awesome.

For day 2 I came out expecting more of the same. But the wind had kicked up. Now my long drives found the rough. My second shots shot way left...not drifted, shot. I had one shot where I aimed 40 or 50 yards to the right of the green...and went O.B. to the left with a 60 yard window over there on a 108 yard shot.

After that I got smart and started using a lot of punch shots or at the very least changing the loft on my shots. And I fought my way to a sub-par round somehow, some way. It was tough but fun.

It was very challenging. I had gotten used to just unloading, powering up every shot as much as I could. Even when I missed the fairway it was not by much and I was so close to the green that recovery was no problem.

Now, however, I was hitting long rough, long second shots, bunkers...and even more importantly, tough putts. I had come to consider 30 foot putts routine because they were typically relatively straight. Now 20' were almost impossible and there were even a few 5' that...well, here is an example.

I had a 2 foot putt...and had to put it almost directly left instead of straight ahead. I put the minimum possible power into it. My next shot was from the rough 31 yards away, that is how far it rolled.

Under those conditions I was quite pleased to get under par.

2 more rounds like that and I eked out a 3 shot win.

Starving Crazed Weasels, June

This happened a few weeks ago so I am a bit hazy on it but more or less...

had 13 people so we split into tables of 7 & 6. At my table I had Cassie to my left, then Kevin, then Tim, then Kenneth. It was a pretty passive table early on. Twice I checked in the big blind with garbage hands and flopped 2 pair, took down nice pots both times. Gave a bunch of chips to Tim when I read him right but it didn't matter...I had A/K and bet pre-flop. He called. Flop was low, like 6/7/8. I read him for weak, raised, he called. Turn was a blank, I raised, he called. River was I think a Jack or something like that, he checked, I checked behind...and he had hit the jack. He had like K/J or something, I had him beat almost the whole way but he wouldn't go away.

Picked up pocket Kings, raised them, Kev called. Flop had an Ace, I raised, he called. I thought he might have an Ace but was not sure. Hit a King on the turn. Raised, he called. Raised on the river but it was a "keep him in" raise when I wanted to raise him all in. He called, he hit the King but my trips was better. Not putting him all in was a mistake.

Picked up K/10 early, raised it. Kenneth called from the big blind. I flopped top 2 pair. Raised. Kenneth called. I took a look at his stack. We were both committed. Either he would double up or I would bust him out. Turn was a Queen. River was a 9. Great, all he needs is a Jack to beat me...but we are both in so deep that the smaller bet I placed on the River to put him all-in had to be made. And he had to call...the river gave him 2 pair, Queens and 9s. He had called early on a gut shot so it ended up costing him.

The other table put out a couple people so I switched over to even it out. And quickly got a sense...there was one guy taking a ridiculous amount of time for every decision.

Now, there are times when I will take some time for a decision. Let's say in the hand with Kenneth the roles were reversed a bit. Let's say he had me covered and comfortably so. I flop top 2, raise, he calls. Turn is a Queen. Now there are some straights on the board as any A/J or 9/J completes it and I am now also losing to pocket Queens so there are several legit hands that beat me. I raise. If he re-raises me all in I am going to need some time. There are a lot of factors to consider:

How much is in the pot and what are the odds I have of re-drawing to beat him if I am behind? What hands could he make that play with? Is he playing his cards or is he playing me, did I somehow show weakness or fear of the straight?

So yeah, I will take some time. On the other hand, 3 people limp in, 2 people fold, and I look down at my cards I need 3 seconds to decide what to do. Not 3 minutes. To fold. Again. And again. And again. It slowed the game to a crawl and I started to tilt.

I had a great chip stack by now, clearly in the lead. Shortly thereafter we combined to 1 table of 8.

And Tim came over with a HUGE stack. He must have ran roughshod on them after I left. And he just kept rolling, taking out person after person.

I lost a large chunk when I raised pocket Queens, he called. Flop was Jack high. I raised, he called. Turn was a King, I raised, he called. River was a blank, he checked, I checked behind...and he had trip Jacks. He played them well. Only by making a river bet could he have gotten more but I was nervous anyway. This time I was reading strength.

Lost more chips when I had pocket Kings, raised all the way and on the river an Ace fell. He bet, I folded, he showed the A/4 he stayed in with. Bad play got good results.

Then got into a key hand. Phillip had been up & down and I had him about 2-1 in chips. He made a min raise, I called from the big blind with Joe and Tim also calling. I had J/9 suited. Flop was 9 high. I was first to act and raised the pot. Joe and Tim folded, Phillip called all-in. He flipped up J/10. Interesting call...assuming I had hit any part of the flop he was drawing to just 6 outs and I could easily have a bigger pair, bigger set, or even bigger cards. In other words, he could only beat a draw or a bluff.

Until we turned a 3. Ouch. Just like the Kings that lost to the River Ace I was a big favorite. We knew 7 cards. Of the 45 unknown there were 3 that helped him so I was a 15-1 favorite. Against the Aces I was an even more impressive favorite as he had just one shot at it. I lost 2 huge percentage plays.

And then came the crippling blow. Pocket Kings against pocket Queens and he rivered the third queen.

I went from threatening the chip lead to under 5K with 4/800 blinds in 3 hands where I lost to a 3 outer, a 3 outer and a 2 outer.

So when I picked up an A/8 clubs. Phillip had folded, Joe was short stack, Tim was big blind and had folded to lots of raises much smaller. I decided to steal the blinds and even if called an Ace high figured to be good 4 handed with 1 already folded.

And both Joe and Tim called...and Tim had A/Q. I couldn't hit my 3 outer and was out in 3rd.

I might have found a better place to get the chips in but I doubt it. With just the blinds to beat, Joe whom I had covered and Tim who had suddenly become tight I think it was the right move even if I had 2/7. It was still a meaningful raise and I needed chips. Plus, with the way our points are set up had I taken out Joe the benefit would have been well worthwhile. Oh, well.

Tiger 07 Redux

A few of my favorite moments

1) Matched up with Colin Montgomerie, 18th and last hole of regulation in stroke play in the Tiger Woods Challenge. We are tied. My third shot leaves me 59 feet from the pin. His 4th leaves him about 2 feet away. I need to 2-putt to send it to sudden death. The putt goes down, then up before curling back down. And...I nail it to win the match. I set a new record for longest putt. I advance.

2) About 9 holes after the Goose scores our first Ace I match her feat on the same course.

3) In a close match in Scotland I break it open when I drive a par 4 green off the tee and Eagle the hole.

4) I have a 104' putt that breaks both ways and is uphill...and pull up 6" off the cup. The best putt EVER.

5) Playing with the Goose on Riviera I real off 12 consecutive holes of birdie or better, though to be fair there were 2 mulligans in there.

6) just plain playing with the is great to find a game we both enjoy that plays well with 2 people.

Tiger Tour 07

Having grown older since the last time I discussed the X-Box (my birthday was held on an undisclosed day within the past fortnight moving from age to the advanced age of ....yes, I know, should I not now be past the time for playing video games? Smurf no! They still rock!, I should, in theory, have also grown wiser. The nature of the opening run on sentence which consists of one sentence interrupted multiple times including, but not limited to, a question mark and 2 exclamation points seems to indicate I have not.

Last Saturday we were at my brother's place and playing Playstation 3. Yeah, I am the only holdout. Both brothers, good friend Kevin, they are all PS3 guys. I am not. But we were playing Hot Shots Golf while the girls were doing whatever. The Goose thought it looked like fun so we decided to look for a copy on the X-box 360 which, of course, does not have it since it is Playstation exclusive. We elected to search for "a similar game".

I know they are out there. Polar Bear Golf has easy controls, shot-shaping ability, and a high fun factor. I have played various golf games over the years and, I must admit, enjoyed virtually all of them. Typically this is because they suit me.

I am not now, have not been, and am unlikely to become a hard-core gamer. I like my controls easy to learn, simple to use, and not overly complicated. I never cared for the fighting games, for example, where to pull off a special move "all you had to do" was push down-up-left-a-a-a-up-right trigger-left-b-a-b. Maybe down up...and if I recall correctly, on Mortal Combat I mastered Liu Kang's move which only required something like back-forward-a or some such simple combo. Be that as it may, it is therefore incumbent upon any game to have a short learning curve to maintain my interest.

For example, MLB2K7 was the first game I tried out. I wanted to like it. The controls were a bit complicated...I often found myself swinging while the pitcher was in the wind-up, for example...and I played an entire inning and thought I was doing well, striking out 2 of the batters looking...but then I discovered I had been BATTING. On the bright side, I got a hit in that half of the inning. On the dark side...I thought I was pitching and was batting.

Finally I figured out how to switch to "classic style" after about 8 15+ strike-out games. The learning curve was high and, for me, the fun factor was EXTREMELY low. So I stopped playing it in favor of Surf's Up and TMNT, games that are aimed at pre-teens...but that I truly enjoyed. Easy controls to learn and use...though I still am not terribly good at either of them because I am not very good at video games. At least I have beaten TMNT over a half dozen times...because it is very fun.

I also played Quake (4?) and was pretty successful...but for whatever reason only played it once. The looking up feature was troublesome but I could deal with was the puzzle nature that frustrated me. I just wanted to shoot stuff, not spend a half hour looking for something to shoot and finding nothing but corpses...but not being able to advance to another level.

And worse yet was Call of Duty 3. It was so frustrating that I took to shooting my commanding officer...during the tutorial. Which I never completed. And never picked up the game again.

Yet to show I am not COMPLETELY inept...I picked up NBA2K7 and mastered it...well, basically instantaneously. I won my first 3 games, dropped 1, won a couple more, dropped one, and have not lost since. The controls make sense. They are intuitive, easy to learn. Yet the game is still fun and challenging. Just the other night I hit a shot inside the last minute to take the lead for the first time in the game to run my season record to 35-0. Yeah, I am winning...but sometimes it is close and in this game I had to come back from a 20 point second quarter deficit.

Well, we went into a video game store and the only golf franchise they had was Tiger Woods PGA Tour series. They had 3 choices...06 was 10 bucks, 07 was 20, and 08 was 60. We settled on the 07, talked to the guy, explained the Hot Shots thing and he said, "oh, you might not like this one, the controls are really tough." Back on the shelf went the game, out the door we went.

At lunch I started thinking...Al has Tiger and seems to like it. A couple texts later and after lunch we went to a different game store, picked it up, and went home to play it.

The first game was frustrating. The menus were not easy to navigate and it took us about 10 minutes to set up a 2 player stroke play game. We both took Tiger so we should have had identical stats.

The Goose seemed to pick up the controls pretty easily. She was cranking out 250 - 280 yard drives. She Eagled like the 5th hole with a massive chip in. Meanwhile I was cranking out 100 yard, 140 yard drives and was all over the course. Later it turned out we had different editions of Tiger...she had his best version, I had his rookie version...but be that as it may, the game play was frustrating.

But I tried it again later. I went through the tutorials. It started to make sense. We both created golfers. I finished slightly ahead of her in the second game.

Then she had to work on school work. I was on vacation. I started working with my guy.

I won the first 2 matches in the Tiger Woods challenge but then ran into Annika Sorenstan. Again and again her 2nd shot would be in the rough, the bunker, etc...and mine would be on the green. So she would chip/pitch/flop to within 6" and par every.single.hole. And beat me.

I practiced. I played her again. I won the first three holes. And lost 4up on hole 15.

Well, then I discovered the Power Boost. I took a different path through the challenge. I began destroying people. My golfer got much, much better. Instead of maxing out at 244 yard drives he became capable of 250, then 260, 270...I could spin, add or subtract loft. My putting is nails.
There are really only 2 shots I cannot pull off...2 or 3, depending on how you count it. Draws and fades are train wrecks. I count that as one since they are the same shot, just pulling the stick left or right. Chipping is HORRIBLE. If I have an 8 yard chip I will either power up the putter for the long, long putt or power down a flop or pitch. I cannot master the chip.

I opened new courses. We played again. Since now my golfer was so much better than hers I gave her mass mulligans and took I think 3 per round. We tried TPC Sawgrass and Pinehurst.

The graphics, by the way, are awesome.

On Pinehurst, on I think the 5th hole she did it...she hit a hole in 1. Very nice. Then on the 15th or 16th, somewhere on the back 9, I hit my first Ace. She hits every major goal before me...well, not EVERY one. I DID drive a par 4 green in 1 with a monstrous 340+ yard corner cutting fade drive I pulled out of who knows where...turning a long 400+ yard hole into an eagle that missed being an ace by about a foot.

In short, I LOVE this game. Of the 20 matches to beat the Tiger challenge I have defeated 17 of the opponents. I even spend time in the pro shop kitting out my character. And, in a very shocking development for anyone who knows me, I am not min/maxing my guy. I wear a shirt that looks good but is not as helpful to my stats as others would be, I use a downgraded ball because I like how it looks...I even play the mini-games.

This game now competes with NBA2K7 and TMNT as my favorite games, games I will set aside time to play.

And when '08 becomes might find its way into my collection.



Being on vacation, I was close enough to go and since I did not make it out to St. Helens thought I might as well play. 12 players, divided into 2 tables.

To my left was Forrest, a decent player with some pretty easy to read tells. To my right was Bob, then Randy, a wild and horrific player who thinks chasing runner-runner draws is a smart play, to his right was Bill, a sometimes very good, sometimes very wild player, and the other player was...was...uh...someone.

Early on I was getting trash hand after trash hand. Two times in a row Bill dealt me 4/9 diamonds. Then he mixed it up with a 2 of diamonds, 9 of hearts.

The first hand I played I checked into the big blind with A/9 clubs. Flopped top pair and a flush draw. Called a bet with Randy also calling. Turn was a blank. Randy bet, the odds were right, I called. River completed my flush. I raised 1K into a pot of about 2K, Randy called and I took down a nice pot.

A while later I checked my option with 3/5 hearts. Flop gave me a flush draw. Bill raised the pot. The odds were wrong to call...but it felt weak. I called planning to take it away on the turn. But he raised again. Time to reconsider. This time I was getting better odds, I did not believe he had the flush draw...maybe top pair, maybe 2 pair, but no flush draw. My strict odds were not quite right but my implied odds were great. I called. And the river gave me the flush. He bet big, I called, he had 2 pair and I took down a nice pot with a crap hand.

Back to folding.

Pocket Kings, raised, no callers, flashed them to begin creating my image. Very next hand picked up pocket jacks. Raised, 3 callers. Flop was Q/10?Q. Ugly. Checked to me, I raised. Mary Kay, who by now had moved to our table after Forrest and the kid I had not played with before had busted out, hesitated, thought, and said, "OK, I see one more" and called.

Now, with some players, that means "shut it down, she is slow-playing trips." With Mary Kae that means, "I am on a draw and will see another card to see if I hit it." Everyone else folded. I bet the turn, she called, and the river was another blank, I bet, she folded. Very nice pot, I was up over double.

Didn't play another significant hand until the final table.

Now I had Barbara to my left: calling station, will call any bet with top pair or better, will chase draws whether it is statistically correct or not. To her left Bud. To his left an obnoxious guy whose name I don't know and I don't really have a feel for his playing style. To his left was...uh...someone, then Bill, then to my right Bob.

Picked up pocket kings, raised, couple callers, flop was blank, raised, turn gave me a set and I took someone out since he had K/J. By now Barbara had taken out 2 players and gone from short stack to chip lead.

Bill was coming over the top all in on me all night. Have to watch that.

Under the gun picked up 3/7 suited. I throw this away every time. However, I have been planning to choose a bluffing hand and decided this, my "superstitious hand" since it is our wedding anniversary, would be it. So I called planning to bluff on the turn if circumstances looked right. Flop gave 3 hearts. Checked around. Turn actually paired my 7. I decided to wait one more since Bill looked like he was thinking about raising. He checked. River was a blank, I bet, everyone folded.

I raised with pocket jacks, Bud re-raised his last few chips, an insignificant raise, I called. He had big slick. Flop gave me a Jack, turn was a Queen...if a 10 came I would lose the pot...but it was another Jack. Quads. Nice.

Raised big slick. Barbara called. I flopped top pair. Raised significant. She called. Repeated on turn and river, she had pocket 9s, took down huge pot. Similar play a hand or 2 later and now I was chip lead.

Not too much later took Barbara out, had commanding lead on Bob, played him soft since he was sort of on tilt. He wanted to go so we called it.

For the night I played very well. And, in a shocking turn of events...this time it paid off! I got in with the best of it time and again, my draws hit