Friday, July 25, 2008

Local Assets - The Little Cactus

God comes to the hungry in the form of food. – Mahatma Ghandi

When one is looking for really good ethnic food, one sure way to know how good a place will be is to notice how many people of that ethnicity are actually eating there. If you walk in to a Mexican restaurant and there are no Mexicans in sight, leave immediately. Another major “tell” is whether or not they make their own tortillas in house. A really good authentic Mexican place will both be full of Mexicans and will roll their own homemade tortillas. If you find a place that meets these two criteria, you are in the right place. Take a seat, order your preferred beverage and now proceed to enjoy the chips. If the place is truly great, the salsa will also be made in house and never store bought. The salsa should be somewhat hot and spicy, but not too watery, with a hint of cilantro flavor. If your chosen spot also passes this last test, you are ready to review the menu because you are definitely going to enjoy your meal. One of my favorite places is this little hole in the wall, sole proprietorship, single business location, local Mexican restaurant called “El Nopalito” which means “the little cactus”. This wonderful place is only open during the early morning for breakfast and afternoon for lunch because it is in such a bad part of town that they cannot safely stay open after dark. The food and service are consistently excellent which is why we locals keep coming back. The tourists can’t find this place so their clientele is entirely local folks that go out of their way to enjoy the best our little island has to offer. Every entrée comes with perfectly prepared beans (either charro or refried) and rice - which may seem run of the mill but isn’t. Why? Because even though beans and rice is a staple of Mexican cuisine, most places don’t take the time or effort to make the beans and rice worth mentioning. To be really good, the rice cannot be clumped together or lumpy. When you stick your fork in the rice, each grain should be individual and separate. Then, when you taste it, the rice should be well balanced with hints of flavor from minced vegetables cooked in it but not be overwhelmed by their presence. The charro beans are brown pinto beans cooked with bacon, onion, and cilantro. When cooked right, these are incredibly delicious. The refried beans are the charro beans mashed together with rendered bacon fat. Either smear these beans on your tortilla or use your chips to dip them with. Yum! And, I haven’t even described any of the entrées themselves yet. Suffice to say, this is a terrific local asset that one should not miss if ever on beautiful Galveston Island.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Whine Regarding the Nine

The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the business known as gambling. - Ambrose Bierce

Many poker insiders, bloggers, and so forth are lamenting the fact that the November Nine (i.e. final table of the 2008 Main Event) are not well known entities or established pros within the industry. Back in 2003, no one had ever heard of Chris Moneymaker.
However, the poker world would never be the same again after the previously unknown Moneymaker won. No big name has won it since and yet, it just keeps growing and growing. Guys like Greg Raymer and Joe Hachem that are now household names were unknown before winning the Main Event. It will be the same this year, one or more of these nine will go from unknown to well known when the tournament is over. So what is all the whining about? The World Series of Poker creates new “brand name” pros every year that will continue to grow the pantheon of poker legends well into the future. That is a good thing and keeps the pool of marketable pros from becoming stagnant. The WSOP is such a “brand name" now that it will never again matter if a pro wins it or not. The thing that has become the Main Event will live on and on. In fact, I think it encourages more amateurs and would-be semi-pros to play BECAUSE an amateur seems to win every year. Nothing could be worse than for all the amateurs to begin to think that only a real pro could win the thing. Why do we need or want some well known poker pro to win? If they are already well known, the only folks that really benefit are the WSOP and ESPN. It doesn’t make the prize pool any bigger, it doesn’t net the dealers any bigger tip, it doesn’t change the volume of entrants, sure more people might watch it on television but I think they will watch anyway. I love the “democratization” of the whole thing and that an “everyman” or “regular guy” will probably win. C’mon, does anyone really want to see someone like Hellmuth or Matusow win the Main Event? I sure don’t. I don’t even want any of the supposedly well known “internet pros” to win it. I definitely don’t want to see someone that is already a millionaire win it. I would much rather see Iggy or the Poker Philospher or some other blogger win the tournament. There is already a superabundance of the “rich get richer” phenomena in this country. Let’s watch a non-rich guy/non-pro win the thing and celebrate his success along with him all the while thinking… year…that guy could be someone I know or, even better yet, me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Congratulations to the Poker Philosopher and Iggy

One secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes. - Benjamin Disraeli

6,844 players entered the Main Event of the WSOP and two of our very own poker blogging brethren cashed.

I know the whole blogosphere is buzzing with the news of Iggy’s performance in the Main Event. However, another guy that deserves some kudos, as well as, respect is the Poker Philosopher.

He made a heck of a run this year but, unfortunately, was eliminated in 35th place, still not too shabby. I have been a reader and fan of both Iggy’s blog and Foucault’s (a.k.a. the Poker Philosopher) blog for a long time so it is great to see them both make a good run.

They both won their seats on PokerStars and then proceeded to go to the biggest poker tournament on Earth, the World Series of Poker - Main Event in Las Vegas, and stake their claim to a share of the big money.

Talk about living the dream.
Nice work, guys. Very nice, indeed.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Bo(dog) Knows …………. Fishing?

Most of the money you'll win at poker comes not from the brilliance of your own play, but from the ineptitude of your opponents. ~Lou Krieger

PokerStars has been my home for a long time. I prefer playing there over any other site out there. However, I am going to start spending some time over on Bodog. I played there back in 2005 but I preferred the experience at Stars better. It was the awesome BoDonkey tournament hosted by $mokkee that brought me back to Bodog recently. Bodog has just released their beta version with re-sizable tables and full screen capabilities. I always hated the fact that I could not enlarge the table or lobby to full screen size. I am a habitual multi-tabler and not being able to manipulate the table size, for me, made multi-tabling almost impossible. Now, it seems that has been fixed. Thank you, Bodog.

So, there I was three tabling (that’s the max you can play) with the new re-sizable tables over on Bodog and what do you suppose I saw? Well, first of all, there seemed to be a heck of a lot more tables and players on Bodog than I recall from 2005. I have heard from $mokkee and Waffles that the games are soft and fishy so I am going to investigate the matter. While I was there I saw lots of fishies making donk-alicious plays like this:

9 players, one limper and the blinds are in the pot so pot = 2.5 big blinds and suddenly a player in middle position goes all in for about 200 big blinds. I think, OK, he must have a really big hand but he is playing it terribly because everyone is going to fold. Then, another player calls him and shows 8-9s. The original all in bettor shows A-Ko. The guy that called the all in with 8-9s ends up pairing his 9 and wins the pot.

Wow. I am going to like it here. I played for about an hour and saw a lot more weak play. I also noticed that the players do not like to fold to pre-flop bets.
Sweet! I like to raise pre-flop with most of the hands I want to play so that’s more value for me. There seemed to be a lot of calling station type players so bluffing may not work as well as on Stars.

Even though each player may upload an image for their avatar, every third player seemed to be using the same default image. I am not joking. There were three kings of diamonds, three spade symbols, and two race horses. How annoying - and to make matters worse, it does not seem that you can turn off the avatars like you can on other sites.

Since my Bodog bankroll is small, I will initially be working on building it up at the low stakes tables. If you want to contribute to my roll on Bodog, drop by and donk off a buy in or three to me. I really wish they would allow one to play at more than three tables at once but it is still much better with the new resizable tables.

Local Assets - Italian Food

I cook with wine, sometimes, I even add it to the food. – W. C. Fields

Italian food is my wife’s favorite, so we enjoy it regularly. We really like (you guessed it) a small family owned place called Gino’s, here in Galveston. The owner really “gets it” when it comes to serving up premium Italian food with plentiful helpings at reasonable prices to his guests. Although there are other Italian places in town that have bigger signs and better locations with correspondingly higher prices, the food at Gino’s is unsurpassed.
The restaurant also used to include a bakery and although the bakery is no longer in operation, their garlic bread is still made in house and far and away the best of any Italian restaurant. The owner buys delicious fresh seafood and serves up plenty of it. The Fettuccini Porto Mio is a creamy seafood sauce with clams, shrimp, and mussels. This thing is heavenly and I am not really a cream sauce fan so that ought to tell you something. Their Chicken Marsala is also superb and among the best I have tasted. My all time favorite is the Spaghetti alla Pescatora which is a red sauce with shrimp, mussels, and crab that is very, very good. At most places you would get one shrimp, a pinch of crab, etc. but not at Gino’s – they give you half a dozen of the shrimp and close to a dozen mussels, as well as, plenty of crab. Seriously folks, give this place a try if you are ever in the Galveston area.
Oh, by the way, did I mention two people can enjoy a meal including premium entrees like these for under $35.00? When was the last time that happened for you?