Friday, August 10, 2018

A Day in West Virginia

The Mrs. and I spent the last Saturday in July in West Virginia.  If you've followed this blog, you know that the closest I get to nature and the woods is when I'm playing golf.  I don't think that counts.  I wanted to do a short hike and Harpers Ferry, which sits at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers, came to mind.

Since I don't do any hiking, I didn't even look at how long the hike would take.  Saturday morning I asked my wife if she'd like to go to Harpers Ferry and she said sure.  We had lunch in Arlington and headed out.  The 65 mile drive was pretty easy.

We parked near the river and at the bottom of the Maryland Heights Trail.  I thought that we would be able to drive a lot further up the mountain.  Near the trailhead we found a map that showed that a round trip hike to the Overlook Cliff was 3 miles and would take up to 3 hours!

The Mrs. was not happy.  I had told her that it would be a short and easy hike.  We didn't bring any water and she was still sore from going to the gym the day before.  She didn't want to do the hike.

I tried to persuade her but she stood her ground.  I was wrong about the difficulty of the hike so we decided to split up.  She went and walked by the river and across the bridge and I went up the mountain.  It wasn't an easy hike and it didn't help that I was trying to rush it.  I made several stops along the way.  It was a hot day but the trail was busy.  Plenty of people were leisurely moving up and down the mountain.

I was happy to find out that the hike was only halfway up the hill.  The second half of the hike was downhill.  I finally made it and the view was worth the climb.

As you can see in the video, the rivers had swollen due to rain.

I stayed up there 15 to 20 minutes enjoying the scenery and getting some rest.  On the way back, the first part was not easy since it was uphill.  After that, I practically ran down to the parking lot.  I reunited with the boss lady almost two hours after we split.  

Since I was exhausted, we drove across the bridge to Harpers Ferry to buy some water.  It's a very small town.  It was full of tourists.  I ended up getting a water and a Gatorade.  Then we went for ice cream.  It sure was delicious.

There was still daylight to burn so I suggested we drive over to Charles Town.  I had never been before.  It was only 15 minutes away and I wanted to check out the poker room at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.  When we arrived, we saw a lot of people near the track.  They were watching live horse racing.

We wondered over and looked at the horses getting ready for the next race.  I asked the Mrs. which horse looked good to her and she said #1.  I liked #3.  There were less than ten minutes before the race.  I went inside to use the bathroom and decided to place my first ever horse racing bets.

I placed two $5 bets on #1 and #3 to show.  Realizing that it wasn't much of a bet, I also placed two $5 bets on #1 and #3 to win.  I didn't have time to look at the odds and we placed all our trust on the eye test.

When I went back outside, I handed the Mrs. her tickets and we got ready to watch the race.  Check out the video below.

We were pretty happy with the outcome as #1 won and #3 finished third.  After the race we went inside to check out the casino.  The first thing we noticed was that smoking was allowed and the hideous carpet.

We strolled past the poker room.  There was no time for me to actually play.  It looked OK but nothing special.

On our way out, we stopped to claim our race winnings.  On the $20 worth of bets, our profit winnings were $2!  I guess our horses were heavy favorites.

We watched one more race before heading for the car.

It was a wild and wonderful day in West Virginia.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

MGM's New Poker Room

It's been four months since I've played poker at MGM.  Last time I played there I was still a single man in the eyes of the government.  When we got back from Europe, I found out that MGM's new poker room was opening.  If you remember, a year ago I wrote about the rumored room here.  Tonight, I went to check it out and play some poker.

I read a bit about the room online so when I parked in the garage, I knew not to press the "C" button in the elevator.  That takes you to the casino floor.  The "L2" button takes you one floor above the casino where the new poker room is located.  Walking into the room is much nicer now.  You don't have to put-up with all the other casino patrons and the music/noise is quieter when compared to the old room.

Inside the new area they also have a bar with casual food and a sportsbook horse race book.  For some nice photos click here.  Below are a few that I took.

After I walked around for a bit, it was time to play some poker.  I got seated in seat 4 and snapped a photo of my starting stack.  

I hadn't played in months so I wasn't even sure I remembered all the rules.  Just kidding.  I focused in on the table play.  It didn't take long to notice that the table was not shying away from putting money in the middle.  

Here is an example, three players put $55 in pre-flop. They all checked thru the turn on a 8-8-8-4 board.  The river was a J.  One guy bet and the other two called.  Two players showed J-K suited and chopped.  In another hand, a player bet pre-flop and got one caller.  The flop was A-K-10.  They got it all-in on the flop.  One showed A-K and the other A-J.  The turn was a Q!

The first hand I played was 9-9 UTG+1.  I opened to $11 and got four callers.  The flop was ace high and I had to fold to a bet.  Then I had A-Q and opened again.  Three of us saw the K-4-6 flop.  I ended up folding and the winner had A-K.  If an ace came on the flop, I probably lose many chips.

Interesting Hand: I'm dealt 9-9 in mid position.  Seat 2 opens to $15, I call, seat 6 calls, and seat 1 calls.  The flop is 5-7-8 rainbow.  It's checked to seat 6 who bets out $50.  It folds to me and it's decision time.  I have about $165.  The pot is $110.  He only called pre-flop.  I would think J-J+ would raise pre-flop.  If I call, the rest of my stack is going in on the turn probably.  I don't expect him to have 4-6 or 6-9 for a straight, a set is possible, and 10-10 is the one hand I'm worried about.  But if he has a set or 10-10 I have six outs.  What would you do in this spot?

I was involved in two more hands.  I had Q-9, called pre-flop, led out on a Q high flop, bet the turn, and checked the river.  The other player in the hand also had Q-9 and we chopped the pot.

The big hand of the night happened accidentally.  I was the BB holding 9-7.  I was planing to fold but when the guy in seat 9 bet $10 and got three callers, I decided to call as well.  The flop was 10-8-6.  I led out for $20.  Only seat 9 called.  My thought was that I didn't want to see another club.  The dealer put out the A♣ on the turn.

Well, my wishes weren't fulfilled but I decided to keep betting.  Maybe he doesn't have a flush but has a pocket pair or A-x.  If I check, surely he would bet his flush or A-x.  I beat him to it and bet $50.  He called.  The river was the 3.  I bet $75 and he called.  I showed my straight and he mucked.

I called it a night soon after.  My first session as a married man and playing in the new poker room was a success.  The main reason I won was because the cards went my way.  Isn't the saying - if you can stay out of trouble long enough, the cards will go your way. 

As I was leaving the poker room, I noticed that there was a new terrace overlooking the National Harbor.  Pretty nice view.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

McStory Time

I'm back from Europe and back at work.  The past week has been nothing but rain.  I was close to building an ark and purchasing some animals but the sun finally came out today.  An amusing thing happened at lunch yesterday.  Since it took place at McDonald's we'll call it a McStory. 

There are many options when it comes to restaurants and fast food around my office.  Even though I'm not a coffee drinker, once in a while I go to McDonald's and get an iced latte.  This trip, my coworker Alan asked me to tag along.

While we were in line, he showed me few coupons on his phone.  One of the coupons was for a free iced coffee with a purchase of a breakfast sandwich.  So I decided to use the coupon.  I ordered a sausage McMuffin, small box of chicken nuggets, and an iced mocha without whipped cream on top.

While I was talking to Alan I inserted my credit card to pay.  When the lady handed me the receipt, I saw the total, $6.66!  I showed it to my coworker.  He laughed and asked me why didn't I add something else to change the total.  I told him that I didn't even realize it was 666.

This is where the story gets interesting.  The lady hands me the iced coffee and the first thing I see is the whipped cream on top.  I shrug it off and take the food once it's ready.  Alan gets his food and we sit down to eat.  I opened the box with the sausage McMuffin but inside I found an egg McMuffin.  I checked my receipt and realize that when I ordered the lady misheard me.  I went back to the counter and they exchanged the sandwich pretty quickly.

Alan and I kept eating and chatting.  After I was done with the sandwich, I grabbed the chicken nuggets box.  I opened it and wouldn't you know it, no nuggets inside!  Instead I found two small burnt patties.  Just two patties, nothing else!  I laughed as I turn the box around and show it to Alan.  He started laughing and said that's what I get when I buy 666 worth of food.

I took the box back and once again they exchanged it for the correct item.  I sat down and cautiously opened the box.  This time the nuggets were there.  Alan and I mused over how every single item on the 666 order came out wrong.  It must be true that the number was cursed.  But then I noticed that they gave me a 10 piece nuggets box instead of a 6 piece.  We each ate a few and laughed about my good fortune. 

Update:  If you want to read a very interesting McStory check out this article - How an Ex-Cop Rigged McDonald’s Monopoly Game and Stole Millions.