Sunday, May 28, 2017

Potomac Shores Golf

Since the engagement story is out of the way, we now return to the regularly scheduled blog about poker and golf.  I guess the title gave it away, another golf adventure.

This time, we head 30 miles south of Washington DC to a Jack Nicklaus designed course.  I was invited to a corporate golf tournament with a four-man scramble format hosted by a law firm.  During peak times the price of a round can exceed $100.  My money was no good there.  Everything was taken care of!

There was one catch, the weather forecast didn't look good as we gathered on the practice green.  Rain with temperatures in the 50s.

Some of the lawyers didn't showed up.  I can't blame them.  This was a round for golf lovers only.  My team ended up being composed of three golfers: one lady, one gentleman, and myself.  I was the best player on our team since the other two people only play few times per year.  Nevertheless, our spirits were high.

We got a par on the 1st, a bogey on the 2nd, and a birdied on the 3rd hole (pictured below).

We couldn't save pars on the 4th and 7th holes.

We wrapped up the front nine +3.  The most memorable hole was the par 5 10th.  I hit a great drive down the middle.  Then, I hit a mid iron straight down the hill.

There are two giant trees in the middle of the fairway.  I managed to land behind them.  I still had a shot but it would not be lined up with the flag.

I managed to sneak the ball around the tree and onto the green.  My two partners missed their putts.  I hit my putt and it went in for another birdie!

We did not do well until the last hole.  To be more precise, we were +5 on holes 11 thru 17.  But on the 18th, we hit good drives and second shots.  We had an eight foot putt for a birdie.  My two teammates missed their putts.  The putting line looked like it was downhill with a right to left break.  I barely tapped it but it curled and trickled into the cup for a birdie!

Overall, I give the course an 8 out of 10.  On average, the distances between the holes were very long.  And the elevation changes on the course make it almost unwalkable.

I was very happy to get out there rain or shine.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Queen of Hearts: Part 2


Everything was going well.  For Valentine's Day, they went to dinner to the Georgetown Waterfront.  The dinner was pricey but enjoyable.  Ace had a fun time coming up with zingers about couples seated around the restaurant where the men appeared to be twice as old as their female companions.

The DC winter was mild but by March, it was time to welcome back spring.  The couple booked a trip to see her family and spend some time at the beach in April.  Ace decided that this trip would be a good opportunity to pop the question.

He spent few weeks learning about diamonds and engagement rings.  He talked to his brother who was already married.  He spoke to his married female friends also.  And he browsed the internet trying to understand the differences between all the varieties available.  Not to bore you with the details, he ended up getting a diamond stone with an 18K white gold ring. 

The QoH had a very busy work schedule so her departing flight was scheduled for Friday evening.  Ace was going to book his flights with points.  He had two options.  Either fly thru Atlanta with a 5 hour layover and arrive in San Juan at 10 pm or fly DC to Newark Friday morning and catch a connecting flight at noon from JFK.  He chose the second option.

Fast forward to that Friday, Ace made it to DCA by 7 am.  He had the ring in a box inside his carry-on bag because the box was too big to fit in his pocket.  After the gate attendant scanned his boarding pass, he headed towards the aircraft.  The plane was very small and before entering the aircraft, he had to check his carry-on as did all other passengers.  Only after he got to his seat did he remember that he left the ring in the bag!  To make the situation even more entertaining, outside the window he saw the United workers loading and moving the bags.

Before the plane left the gate, the pilot announced that everything was looking good and the plane should be landing 20 minutes ahead of schedule.  Ace was very happy to hear this because it gave him extra time to make it to JFK for the 12 pm flight.

The DCA to EWR flight was very short but 15 minutes before landing, the pilot made the announcement that due to airport traffic, the plane would have to circle above New Jersey.  Long story short, the plane landed at 9:20 am.  Then, Ace had to wait for his carry-on bag at the side of the aircraft.  Luckily, he got the bag back with the ring inside.

Because of New York commuter traffic, Ace decided to take the train to Penn Station and from there go to JFK.  He made it to Penn Station at 10:40 am.  He rushed to the street level to see if he can catch an Uber to JFK.  The app did not work and kept asking to verify payment.  He wasted 15 minutes and then gave up.  It was 11 am.  Defeated, he stood at the corner of 7th and 33rd.  He looked up and soaked in the surroundings.  He snapped a photo of the Empire State Building before heading back underground.

He hopped on the subway heading to the Jamaica Station.  As soon as he sat down, he thought of Seinfeld.  First thing that came to mind was the episode The Subway and also The Cigar Store Indian.

During the rest of the ride, he passed the time by thinking about his options now that he had missed his flight.  He thought, will there be another flight today?  At what time?  How much will it cost?  What if there are no other flights tonight or they are all full?  He hoped that the worst case scenario would not happen where there were no other flights on Friday AND a next day flight would cost a lot more.  He arrived at the Delta counter in Terminal 2 at 12:20 pm.

He approached the lady at the counter and told her his story.  She was very nice.  She typed all the info into the computer and waited to see all the available options.  To Ace, waiting on the computer felt like an eternity but, in reality, it was only a minute.  She looked up at him and said, "The next available flight to San Juan is at 6:30 pm tonight and there are seven available seats.  The cost to rebook is $50." 

This was music to Ace's ears.  It was almost the best case scenario.  He accepted the option immediately and everything went smoothly.  He remembered to take the box out and keep it with him during the flight.

He landed an hour before the QoH that evening.  The next day was very hectic.  For starters, it was cloudy all day and rain seems inevitable.  This meant that Ace had to choose a location that was covered or was near an area that had a cover in case it started to rain.  He considered doing it Sunday afternoon but the forecast was not good.

He ended up choosing an outdoor corner deck of a beach hotel.  The deck is near the resort pool and bar area and it has a glass railing.  The QoH had to stop by an event at 4 pm.  Ace used the opportunity to go see the place and make sure everything was going as planned.

The hotel personnel had everything ready by 5:30 pm.  Ace texted the QoH to let her know to meet him at 6 pm.  The two places are in close proximity to one another and she made it over by 6:15 pm.  They ordered from the menu and had champagne.  The rain stayed away and it was a wonderful moment.

Finally, Ace got down on one knee and asked the lady to marry him.  She said...Yes!  After taking few pictures, they let their families and friends know.  QoH's brother and few friends arrived shortly after to celebrate with the newly engaged couple by the ocean.

And that's the story behind Ace and the queen of his heart.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Queen of Hearts: Part 1

I named this blog the Adventures of an Ace for a reason. My goal from the start had been to write about poker, sports, travel, and life experiences.  I have written plenty of posts on poker and golf.  It's time to write about something else.

The following story will be made up of two posts.  The story is not related to poker even though the title might suggest otherwise.  Don't say I didn't warn you.  Just for fun, I'll refer to myself in third person.  As Al Galdi says every morning on the local ESPN radio station, "And away we go."

Ace moved to the US almost 20 years ago.  His English vocabulary consisted of some basic words and a few curse words every kid picks up no matter where they live.  You might be wondering, didn't he have English classes in school?  The answer is yes.  Just like you, he had foreign language classes in school and passed them.  Each summer he forgot most of what he had learned.  I'm sure many of you had similar experiences with foreign languages.

Nevertheless, Ace got his act together once he reached the shores of "the most free country in the world."  Just to clarify, Ace arrived to America from Europe.  He knew that to succeed in the US of A, he had to do well in math and English.

Ten years ago, he came to the DC area after graduating college.  He's had three jobs.  He left the first one because it was a bit too far from DC.  The second job was going well until they decided to move the office from Arlington to Baltimore.  As for the third job, as Goldilocks would say, this one is just right.  The workload is manageable.  The coworkers are pleasant.  The pay is OK and the vacation policy is great.  They even paid for his master's degree which cost close to $35,000.

Ace has a good group of friends.  They joke that it's like a mini United Nations due to so many of them (or their parents) being born outside the US.  After building up his social circle and getting his career on the right path, it was time for Ace to focus on the ladies.  He went about it like any other guy.  He met some girls thru friends and he met other ones by going out.  Luckily, he did not run into any completely crazy women.  One or two were a bit peculiar but they were inside the limits of normal.

One thing that frustrated Ace was the slow pace of meeting women that intrigued him.  There is no shortage of women in DC; but finding the ones that are very compatible proved elusive.

The first time Ace heard about the app dating craze was in February of 2014 during the coverage of the Winter Olympics.  Over the next nine months, Ace refused to try it.  He was always skeptical of online dating and app dating sounded just as sketchy.  But as more and more of his friends were trying it out and having fun, he finally gave in after Thanksgiving.

He spent the next ten months going out on dates.  Most of the women he met were originally from outside the US.  Just like in poker, the app dating deck produced some favorable and some unfavorable flops.  And then it happened.  In September of 2015, the app dating deck revealed the Queen of Hearts.  On a sunny afternoon during the last weekend of the summer, they went on their first date. 

On the first date, Ace learned that the Queen of Hearts (QoH) had been in DC for three years.  She moved to DC for grad school, graduated, and accepted a job offer.  She was born and raised in Puerto Rico and English was her second language.

The two of them found out that they had a friend in common.  Ace's good buddy (also from the PR) dated a girl that went to high school with the QoH.  Over the next few months, they kept going out and getting to know each other.

The QoH had many great attributes that Ace liked.  She was educated, beautiful, bilingual, tall, athletic, and laughed at his not-so-funny jokes.  They played tennis together and participated in a social volleyball league.  Ace even took her to a driving range.  Afterwards, the QoH suggested that golf should be reserved for Ace and his buddies.  It was a win-win for both of them.

In early 2016 they were officially in a relationship.  By officially, it meant telling their families.  They had planned their first trip together but it didn't happen (see what happened here).

In May, Ace accompanied the QoH to a wedding back home.  He met and stayed with her family.  It was a great trip that included delicious food and beautiful beaches.

In June, they toured the White House.

In July, it was time for the QoH to meet Ace's family.  That trip was a little bit longer since Ace's parents live in Belgrade.  It all went well and afterwards the couple flew to Greece for a seven day vacation.  They spent an afternoon in Athens and the rest of the time on the islands of Paros, Mykonos, and Santorini.

Hellenic Parliament

Stone Theater - Acropolis

Paros Island

The Great Door (Portara) - Naxos Island
Mykonos Windmills

Fira, Santorini

Oia, Santorini

The couple went to Canada for the Labor Day weekend.  You can see some of the photos here.

And in late November, the lady organized a road trip to one of the most famous projects in her profession.  Ace didn't know much about it before the trip but he truly enjoyed the experience.  Here is a photo of the famous Pennsylvania residence.

to be continued...

Friday, May 5, 2017

Boring Poker Session

I've played a bit over 33 hours so far this year.  I ran very good for the first 20 hours.  My luck has not turned around since I had pocket kings and lost to pocket jacks on the river.  I'm not saying that I've been unlucky.  I haven't had many good starting hands and/or my draws haven't been hitting.

Also, I haven't been enjoying playing.  Playing poker is a hobby and to some degree it should be fun.  Lately, it's felt more like work.  When you are running semi card-dead and the opposition is tough, no wonder it feels like work.

The last session made me realize that it might be time to take a mini break from poker.  I played for about 3.5 hours.  I had K-K and J-J but neither saw a flop.  Sitting there felt like work.  I was trying to read players and the moves they were making.  But mostly, I spent my time folding bad hands.

I started with $200 in seat 9.  After an hour, I was down to about $130.  I opened to $12 with A-9 in the hijack.  Seat 10 raised to $25 and got three of us to call.  The flop was 2-5-9.  Seat 10 bet $40.  It folded to me and I moved all-in for $107.  He was raising a lot so I figured it was 50/50 if I was ahead or behind.  He called with A-7.  The turn and the river were bricks and I was up to $310.

Last hand of the night, I'm sitting on $235 with A-Q.  Seat 2 was a short stack and bet $15.  He got called in two spots before I moved all-in.  Only the short stack called and he was all-in for $90.  He flipped over 10-10.  The board ran out 10,9,7,6,x.  I called it a night after the hand, down $55.

Two interesting hands happened where two players were dealt the same pocket pair.  Both resulted in chops but it was fun watching the hands play out.