Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sadly, I Guess Someone is Going to Have to Get Killed

Alliance - in politics, the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply inserted in each other's pockets that they cannot separately plunder a third. – Ambrose Bierce

I don’t know about all of you, but I truly despise robbers and thieves. I know robbery/thievery isn’t the only sin being committed out there but I regard it as among the most reprehensible. Pokerati has the scoop here. I am going on record right now that I hope a few (or more) robbers/thieves are shot and killed while attempting to rob Texas poker games (or game rooms) in the near future. Sometimes, folks should get exactly what they deserve. Apparently, these guys have to be taught a lesson and we Texans are just the type to do it. Around here, we are often armed and usually (at least) pretty good shots. Perhaps, after a few (or more) would be robbers become shooting fatalities, the Legislature will stop wasting time and pass legislation that will enable legal gambling (particularly table poker with rake) to be played in Texas. Most of the citizens of Texas want legal gambling in Texas. It is only the alliance of well funded special interests and the religious minority that are presenting any significant opposition. The problem is virtually every one of them votes and it seems most gamblers don’t.
For those of you not familiar with the goings on around here, there has been a plethora of robberies, at not only underground poker games, but also at the ubiquitous “game rooms” that have opened in every town. These game rooms are home to eight liners and other slot-machine-type of gambling preferred by many folks (although, not me). Texas is full of empty race tracks (both dog and horse) that would love to be filled with gamblers.
These huge facilities are sitting idle and some have already closed due to lack of business. Enabling these facilities to serve an “eager to play” public would be a win-win for both the residents, as well as, the cities where these tracks are located. Jobs would be created locally, local tax revenue would be increased, and players would have a nearby place to play(legally). No one in Texas is benefiting from the current situation where would be Texas gamblers have two choices – suffer the inconvenience of travelling a long way to our neighboring States (Louisiana or Oklahoma) or play at an underground room. At the underground rooms, one has to fear both robbers and police since they will both take your money if they arrive while you are present. This state of affairs is deplorable and unnecessary. Texas Legislators, please WAKE UP!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Good Luck, Mr. Woods

It's only hubris if I fail. - Julius Caesar.

And so it is confirmed, Tiger is human, too. He is not the first nor will he be the last to succumb to temptation.

Caesar did not have the benefit of a modern education drawn from the wisdom of centuries of scholars. However, I wonder if, during all those years of developing into the (current) world's greatest golfer, Tiger was ever provided any classical education. Ancient Greco-Roman history and mythology are excellent sources to use to consider the human situation. There are an abundance of examples in which a person rises from obscurity and becomes famous/powerful/wealthy. Then, due to hubris, they end up losing everything, or almost everything. Enough is never enough for some people.

Tiger had it made. He is one of the world's most successful athletes and has the accolades and endorsements that go with it. He has wealth almost beyond belief. He also has a beautiful wife and family. But, it wasn't enough for him. Although apparently able to resist the lure of some vices, like so many other exceptionally successful men, he was unable to resist the siren song of the lovely ladies. Even though there is an abundance of evidence that clearly demonstrates no one gets away with this sort of behavior for long, Tiger gambled for the highest stakes and repeatedly pushed all in. He not only gambled with his career and family, but also with his life and the life of his wife by, according to at least one paramour, having unprotected sex. His gambling, in this manner, was clearly out of control. He is fortunate not to have shared the tragic fate of Steve McNair. Now, he has irrevocably compromised himself and his family. He has withdrawn from golf, his life's work, to try to mitigate the self inflicted havoc he brought home. It would be difficult enough to attempt to reconcile after a single affair with one woman. He now faces the herculean task of attempting to reconcile after a dozen or so affairs with a dozen or so (at the time of this post) women. Frankly, I would not wager on him being successful in this endeavor. After all, a tiger cannot simply change his stripes.

However, despite all this adversity he will have to overcome, Tiger will recover, just as President Clinton did, just as Kobe Bryant did, just as all the others have. I suspect, by then, he will have learned an invaluable lesson. Family matters.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

You Were Warned

All new states are invested, more or less, by a class of noisy, second-rate men who are always in favor of rash and extreme measures, but Texas was absolutely overrun by such men. - Sam Houston

I guess some people will never get it. I wrote about it here. Don't mess with Texas poker players. Sure, we've got some cash since we are going to play poker, but we are some of the feistiest, orneriest, and most well armed folks around. If you try to rob us, you are at best an underdog and you may be drawing dead. Pokerati has the new story here. These kids are lucky to be alive.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Darvin Moon FTW!

Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul; the blueprints for your ultimate achievements. - Napoleon Hill

Go Darvin! While I have nothing against Joe Cada and also wish him well, I am pulling for the Moon Man.

While we hear a lot about the recent influx of young talent, and there is certainly no disputing the volume of young players we are currently experiencing nor many of their recent accomplishments, poker is an old guys game. Poker is about outsmarting/outlasting/outthinking/outplaying your opponents while sitting across a table - and that is what old guys do. It is what old guys have been doing for a long time. When knowledge, experience, wisdom, and cunning are what's needed, you need an old guy. Old guys are no match for young guys in football, baseball, basketball, etc. Those games are about physical strength and stamina first, and mental strength and stamina second. Poker is the other way around. Old guys are supposed to beat young guys at poker.

Besides, if Joe Cada does not win, it isn't going to slow down the onslaught of young guns at all. They will continue to pour in by the thousands and that is fine. Nothing is likely to deter that and we wouldn't want anything to do so. However, what is going to keep the older amateurs rolling in? Thousands of regular guys buy in every year and are often considered "dead money". However, year after year, one of them rises to the top despite the prevailing notion that they never had a chance. That is good for poker in general and also good for the World Series of Poker. A win by Moon perpetuates the rags to riches dream of an everyman. A regular guy that plays poker with buddies rather than for a living who goes to the WSOP and wins it all or at least comes close. Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer, Steve Dannenman, Jerry Yang, Dennis Phillips, and Darvin Moon are all great for the game in the sense that they truly keep the dream alive.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Using Both Hands - the SuperChop BBQ Sandwich

Why does man kill? He kills for food. And not only food: frequently there must be a beverage. - Woody Allen

I love poker but my first love is food and I like to share my experiences (about really good stuff) with my readers. I know there are a lot of pulled pork sandwich lovers out there but here’s the scoop on the ultimate BBQ sandwich. We're in Texas, therefore you know we are talking beef. Grand Prize BBQ, a little sole proprietor spot in Texas City serves two thick slices of made in house jalapeno cheese bread loaded with their delicious smoked beef brisket and smoked sausage chopped up right in front of you. The meat is piled high and no sauce is added until the sandwich is assembled. I don’t know if they invented the thing but I have never encountered one anywhere else. To devour this colossal sammy, you must use two hands and most people can’t finish one by themselves. I love taking associates from work to this place and watching them wear a portion of their sandwich back to the office after an “accident” while eating. There is a secret to eating a huge messy sandwich like this and not wearing it but I never reveal it until the 2nd visit. If you are in the local vicinity, stop in for one of these and you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit. – D. Elton Trueblood

Broadway – the primary entrance route to the city of Galveston – not the straight of the same name – has been forever changed. It was formerly lined with huge majestic century-plus old oak trees throughout the esplanade and also at curbside of the many stately old Victorian homes. The foliage of these massive trees - at some sections of Broadway – met in the middle forming a beautiful canopy of green above the roadway. This is no longer the case. Most of the big trees have been cut down to the ground. The massive influx of salt water that covered much of the city post Hurricane Ike, killed most of the oaks. A sparse few trees remain. The once proud entrance to the old city appears bare - wide open to the sun and sky like at no other time in my life. Although many small (approx. 10 ft) oaks are being planted to replace the old ones, I will be long gone before the street looks anything like it did before. The huge palms fared well and remain but without the oaks, it just doesn’t look the same.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I Still Blame Frist

Men become more civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt. - Ambrose Bierce.

I have been playing a bit of online poker again lately.

So, I ran the auto rate feature on PokerTracker last night.

A full 33% of the players in the database had their icon changed.

75% of them changed to indicate a better player rating than before.

This means that, yes - the online games are getting tougher.

There are still fish out there, but the ratio of fish to decent/good players is dwindling.

Although I have done well lately, I have also found myself in a rather “Jordan-esque” mood regarding online poker.

I still enjoy it but I don’t have the same drive to play online I once had.

My desire to play live, however, is stronger than ever.

Now, if I could just find more opportunities.

Sadly, I doubt the online environment will ever be like it was pre-UIGEA. The peak of the “boom” has passed and it seems unlikely, no matter what happens in Washington, that we will experience the massive influx of new players that we enjoyed during that glorious period.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Don’t Mess with Texas Poker Players

Poker is not a game in which the meek inherit the Earth. – David Hayano

This just in from the Houston Chronicle – Texans are well armed and not afraid to open fire. In fact, I suspect we lead the nation in the number of citizens licensed to lawfully carry a concealed handgun. I thought it was common knowledge but perhaps not. I regularly peruse the local news and frequently read about would be burglars/robbers being fatally shot by armed citizens lawfully defending their property. Each time I read this sort of news, I think justice has been served and we, the tax paying citizens of the state, have saved money by not having to pay to incarcerate the perpetrator. Let the news go far and wide, we Texans are more than capable of defending ourselves and no jury in the Lone Star State is going to convict one of us for shooting a criminal in the act of perpetrating a crime. Kinda makes one want to go to the shooting range over the weekend, doesn’t it?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Good Luck, Mr. Ivey

Logic: the art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. – Ambrose Bierce

All of the poker community, much of Las Vegas, and plenty of other folks are “a twitter” over Phil Ivey making the Nov 9. He is popular, photogenic, well known, highly marketable, etc., etc.
I admire Ivey, too. He is actually good at poker and he is not an ace-hole when on camera.
I would love to see him win and I sincerely wish him the best of luck. Perhaps he could usher in the next poker boom.
However, I don’t think he is likely to win. We have all witnessed plenty of well known players make the final table and fall short of winning. At the risk of stating the obvious, he is one of the short stacks. For him to win, he will likely need to either get really good cards or play very carefully until he can get it heads up or three way with one or two remaining amateurs. Think of when Joe Hachem won. With seven players left, he was the short stack at one point but he never went crazy. He played very patiently for approximately 12 hours and it served him well. The bigger stacks kept pummeling one another and he mostly avoided getting involved. He picked up a pot here or there but basically seemed to stay out of the way until all of a sudden, about 4:30am, he was the chip leader with four players left. He continued to let the other players self implode and when the smoke cleared, he was heads up against the lone remaining amateur.
He then (not surprisingly) went on to win the world championship. IMHO, this is the strategy that would give Ivey the best chance of winning.

However, I have seen him reach numerous final tables on the WPT and he is always one of the most aggressive players at the table. That worked well for Jerry Yang but that style of play has caused Ivey to be knocked out relatively early at most of the final tables I have seen him at. If he plays like that in November, I think it will be exceptionally challenging for him to win. He has said in the past that he is out to win the event and is not worried about the money. That is why he “goes for it” at those final tables. I hope he will mix up his playing style and remember that no one can win when there is still a table full of players. Even if he doesn’t win, I think it will greatly enhance the entertainment value of watching the WSOP Main Event if Phil Ivey is one of the last players to be eliminated.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Liquid Assets - Iced Tea

American-style iced tea is the perfect drink for a hot, sunny day. It's never really caught on in the UK, probably because the last time we had a hot, sunny day was back in 1957. - Tom Holt

Down here in Texas, we just recorded the hottest June on record for the Galveston/Houston area. Due to that excessive heat, it seems like I have been drinking iced tea by the gallon. A refreshing glass of iced tea is such a simple thing to make, yet so many people and restaurants get it wrong. The tea must be brewed to be strong and should be robust tasting since it will be diluted when poured over ice. It should smell like tea and it should have a distinct tea flavor without any odd tastes from an unclean urn or poorly maintained equipment. If a customer orders iced tea, kindly warn them before serving them any sort of flavored tea (e.g. mango tea, peach tea, plum tea, etc.) since many of us eschew those sorts of teas. The tea should not be cloudy or murky looking as this usually indicates the tea was not freshly made. The tea should be tasted regularly by the management to ensure none of these undesirable elements have crept in. A weak color means too much water is being added to the brew and this must be avoided. Anyone may dilute the tea further, if they wish, but no one may undo this damage once done. This is important. Many of us are choosing tea over soda or flavored water for not only reasons of taste but for caloric and anti oxidant content. Another great thing about iced tea is that, at least down here in the South, refills are customarily provided free (once when I was in Michigan they had the audacity to charge me for a refill and I remember looking at them as if they were crazy). Although, the tradition in the South is for sugary sweet tea, many of us actually prefer it unsweetened. It really is a simple but positively refreshing beverage (if prepared well) on the hot and humid days we frequently enjoy down here in Texas.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Do You Have the Will to Win?

All of my good streaks and all of my bad streaks of every length and depth have had one thing in common. They did not exist in your mind. They only existed in my mind. And this is true for everyone's winning and losing streaks. None of them actually exist. They are all mental fabrications, like past and future. – Tommy Angelo

Despite actually blogging about the extraordinarily good June I have been enjoying, I did not jinx myself (so far) and managed to continue my winning ways over the weekend. I kept thinking about the quote above from Elements of Poker but I also knew I could exploit my current image to my advantage. You see, I am not the only one that has observed and made note of how well I have been doing this month. Most of the regulars at the homegame are also well aware of how good I have been running.
However, what they don’t know is that it hasn’t been about catching good cards. Sure, I have caught some big hands but no more than everyone else. However, by using SPR and other such notions, I have been able to win some huge pots with my big hands. I have also been mercilessly “adopting” as many orphaned pots as possible and making a few more than usual turn and/or river bluffs. But despite all of this, the primary thing I have tried to do differently is bring my A game every time we play. I come with the will to win. What I mean by that is making sure I am well rested and mentally focused. Making sure I have eaten before playing and taking a break to eat during the game if necessary. Not allowing distractions, interruptions, or other player’s actions to cause me to tilt for even a brief period. I know this probably sounds trivial but it works.
Tommy Angelo is the Stephen R. Covey of poker. Reading his book to improve my poker habits reminded me of reading Covey to improve my work habits. His advice is so solid and reasonable that one thinks, “yeah, that’s obvious” but although the concept may seem obvious and clearly make sense, most players aren’t doing what he is recommending. One must have the will to win. A few of the players in our group always seem to allow distractions external to the game to tilt them into losing their chips. A few others always seem to over consume and have such a good time that they also lose their chips. Others are just playing for sheer enjoyment and to spend an evening with the guys while losing their chips. Meanwhile, I am visiting with the other players, watching them closely, enjoying a cold one or six, and quietly amassing a large stack chips.

Friday, June 26, 2009

This Just In...Lucypher Still Lucky...Go Figure

Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate. – Bertrand Russell.

I have been reluctant to talk/write about it because doing so always seems to bring it to an abrupt end.

However, this is a poker blog and I am supposed to blog about my poker activities.

Therefore, I will admit it. June has been a very good month for me and I am on a nice hot streak.

Although my online play has really dropped due to the fact that I am just too tired to play after we’ve finished all the family summer activities going on right now, I still play twice a week in a juicy home (cash) game.

In that game, I have been doing well.

I have been very pleased with my play lately and not just because of the results (although that is always a factor).

I am calling people down light if I think I have perceived a tell or a pattern revealing weakness.

I am overbetting (for value – thank you very much Fuel55) and getting paid on my big hands.

I have noticed a tendency for players to want to call preflop value bets with any two cards because as they say, ‘You gotta see the flop”.

I have been exploiting the hell out of this anytime I have a pocket pair or big cards. Then, a pot sized bet on the flop is usually enough to take down the already bloated pot.

Even though I still like to buy in short, I seem to quickly become one of the big stacks at the table.

I think much of this “heater” is a result of my continuing to read, think, and work on my game while most of my opponents are not improving and some have become downright predictable.

Of course, it also might just be a good month. Either way, I am thoroughly enjoying every minute.

Friday, May 15, 2009

And, So It Goes.....

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” - Mark Twain

Once again, we hapless Texans played the luckless Charlie Brown while the Legislature played the temptress Lucy; luring us in, showing us the ball, encouraging us to kick it only to have it yanked away as we approached with our unbridled enthusiasm. I can almost hear the deadpan voice of Dr. McCoy in my ear saying, “It’s dead, Jim.” And, now, we Texans will sit and wait another two long years for our duly elected representatives in Austin to do their duty and actually serve the folks they are supposed to be representing by passing legislation that will bring legal poker to Texas. The majority of Texans want this to happen but, as usual, the will of the people is not what really motivates the majority of our politicians.

The Honorable Rep. Menendez (D) is to be lauded for his tireless efforts on our behalf. Poker players all over Texas thank him for his staunch support of bringing legal poker to Texas. He is definitely a friend to Texas poker players. Governor Perry (R), on the other hand, should be considered Public Enemy Number One to Texas poker players. By promising to veto HB 222 even if it passed, he effectively killed the bill. I know there are enough poker players in Texas to help unseat him and my vote will go to his opponent no-matter-what for his insistence on blocking this bill. I sincerely hope the vast numbers of Texas poker players will turn out and use their vote to make their voices heard in the next election cycle.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Texas Hold'em in Texas? What a Great Idea!

What is a democrat? One who believes that the republicans have ruined the country. What is a republican? One who believes that the democrats would ruin the country. - Ambrose Bierce

It seems that I will not enjoy the privilege of playing NLHE at a local bar anytime soon. HB 222, currently being considered by the Texas Legislature, has been modified via political compromise to exclude poker at bars (that would have had to obtain a special permit) and instead to allow poker at dog and horse racing tracks. While this is not as good as poker at bars, due to the simple fact that there are a lot more bars than there are race tracks, it isn’t all bad for me. You see, right outside of Galveston, in lovely La Marque, is a large facility known as Gulf Greyhound Park. This place has been almost deserted lately and is struggling to survive. If HB 222 passes, it would infuse the place with some customers and some hope. The fact that it is located within 10 minutes of my residence makes the whole idea sound pretty darn good to me. In terms of physical proximity and convenience, it almost couldn’t be any better for me. I selfishly and shamelessly hope this bill gets passed for my sake.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Bodog is Back!

Opportunities multiply as they are seized. Sun-Tzu.

Everytime I play online poker at Bodog I wonder why I don’t play there more often. Although, I rarely play tourneys these days due to time constraints, the cash games are juicy! I have played nightly on Bodog for a couple of weeks and there is plenty of traffic for NLHE games. I am not sure why, but the Bodog cash tables seem to play faster than the tables on other sites. It might have something to do with the fact that no one is multi-tabling some ridiculous volume of tables, which always slows down the play of tables they are playing on. Bodog is still one of the best sites for avoiding data mining and other nefarious data collection activities that can make the game less fun for the casual player. In fact, Bodog ought to be the online poker site of choice for casual players and/or those that prefer to play without data enhancement tools. Not that there is anything wrong with those tools, but they do change the way the game is played. Are you a notoriously light 3-better? On other sites, players routinely have tools that identify your habits but not so much so on Bodog. So, get out of that rut you may be in on that other site and come try the online poker experience at Bodog. $mokkee has been spreading the news about Bodog for a while now and JD Schellnutt has recently had some nice scores in the tourneys, too.

They also have a sportsbook for betting on your favorite sport and/or team. Perhaps you have heard of the NBA Playoffs which are going on right now? It’s pretty exciting stuff that, perhaps, you might want to place a wager upon. They also have some interesting World Series of Poker prop bets that you may want to bet on. If any of you haven’t tried Bodog out yet, what are you waiting for? You could be the next one to score big on Bodog!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

Lack of money is the root of all evil. - George Bernard Shaw

It appears that we just might actually obtain the coveted right to legally play Texas Hold'em with a rake at a cardroom somewhere in Texas, hopefully in Galveston. Here is a link to the story. Even more importantly, here is a link to a site that will let you help us fight the good fight. Thank you in advance for your support.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mardi Gras Galveston – Maximizing Expected Value, Observations of a seasoned Mardi Gras Galveston veteran

Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose. – Tennessee Williams

As with most things, plan ahead. Check the weather forecast and make sure to bring appropriate outer wear such as a jacket or raincoat, etc. Wear comfortable footwear that can handle crowds well and that you won’t mind walking around in all day.

Eat well before you head down to the Mardi Gras. Then, eat more throughout the day to help keep you going until late night.

Bring some friends that want to party and that you will want to party all day/all night with.

Establish a meeting place in case everyone gets separated. You won’t hear or feel your cell phone in the noise and chaos of the crowd.

Buy your beads at discount mart or online - otherwise expect to pay dearly for the good ones (i.e. those that will entice a show). I recommend buying an entire package of nice ones. None of the ladies will know that you got a volume discount.

Buy your beer at a discount mart or a grocery store. Then fill your cooler and keep it in your car/truck. Park your vehicle just a block or so outside the Strand area and have a back pack or tube style pack to carry your beer into the Strand. Otherwise, be prepared to pay top dollar for your beverages.

Be prepared. If you might need some antacid, aspirin, caffeine, or other medicine to feel like partying late into the night, take some with you. Don’t be a party pooper and want to leave early because you weren’t prepared.

Regarding cameras:

a) You will not be fast enough to be able to photograph very many flashers – the whole thing just happens too fast.
b) If you try, you will miss out on seeing two pair for every one pair that you actually photograph. There are plenty of quality amateur photos on the internet. Your photos will not likely be any better than those readily available so don’t waste your time.
c) The high quality chicks won’t let you take their picture for fear of ending up on the internet. If they even see your camera, most of the best looking women won’t show while you are around. If you want to see the highest quality goods, come with plenty of nice beads and no camera.
d) Your camera will be at risk of being dropped or knocked from your hands in the chaos that is the Mardi Gras.
e) You will miss out on a lot of other Mardi Gras sights and sounds trying to get photos. Forget about it. Be in the moment – party NOW. That is what you came to the Mardi Gras for.
f) Exceptions. If you are one of the lucky few to be able to enjoy the Mardi Gras from a balcony above the crowds, then you will be able to get plenty of good photos. You just can’t do it from the ground. Also, look for women wearing masks. They understand how it all works and they came prepared to flash confident that their anonymity will remain intact. I predict women wearing masks will become the norm in the future.

That's it. Now, have fun and be safe.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Mardi Gras Galveston 2009, Part 4 - Lamb Chop City

Think where mans glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends. – William Butler Yeats

Sunday was another beautiful day and we spent a leisurely morning recovering from the previous evening’s debauchery. Sunday is also the designated day of our local homegame, therefore, it was foreordained that we would be attending the game as a group. However, given that we would be drinking most of the day, a solid breakfast was in order so we went out and bought some barbacoa (a.k.a. Mexican bbq – which is made from the cheek of the cow). Barbacoa is a tradition on Sunday mornings and is also rich and filling – a perfect start for a day of beer drinking. At poker, Anthony and I had some modest success but not a great deal. I won a big pot early and then went card dead. I lost two big pots where I was all in with another player and lost on the river to a 2 outer and then a 3 outer, respectively. However, Lew, the novice of the group, racked up a big win after successfully picking off some bluffs and generously offered to sport for dinner. Upon leaving, we discussed our options and decided it would be a feast of lamb chops chased with more ice cold beer. So, we went out and obtained three different types of succulent lamb chops (rib chops, loin chops, and blade chops). We prepared all of them the same way with lemon, rosemary, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Then, we grilled them to perfection. They were all really tasty but the rib chops were definitely the best. What was a surprise was that the blade chops were the 2nd best, edging out the loin chops. This is good to know since the blade chops are less than half the price of the loin or rib chops. Since everyone was leaving early Monday morning, we spent the rest of the evening in the backyard drinking beer and laughing about all the fun we had during this Mardi Gras trip and discussing how we were going to top this one next year.
I can’t wait.

Mardi Gras Galveston 2009, Part 3 - The Big Parade

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday is the big day for Mardi Gras in Galveston and the peak of the local revelry. It was also the only day of the weekend that was predicted to bring inclement weather so we prepared for the worst by acquiring some disposable rain ponchos in case we got caught in the rain. We relaxed throughout the morning knowing we would be partying late into the night. In the afternoon, we met up with the gang of friends we would watch the big parade with and made contingency plans in case we got separated in the chaos that is the Mardi Gras. Upon arriving on the historic Strand, I sought out one of my favorite street festival fares, the smoked turkey leg. It is perfect since one can hold one’s beer in one hand while holding and eating the turkey leg with the other. The Strand was packed with revelers and it was good to see so many people having a good time in Galveston again. The weather cooperated and never got too bad. The parade, however, was somewhat disappointing to me. I have ridden on floats in the parade before so I know a thing or two about how to do it right. One pays handsomely for the privilege of riding a float in the big parade and one should make the most of it. The whole idea is to throw beads to the folks watching the parade on the ground. If you aren’t there to throw beads, I don’t know why one would bother paying to ride on a float at all. The folks on the floats this year were downright miserly. Those on the ground come to see the parade in the hopes of catching some premium beads and to see the young ladies trying to entice the float riders by baring some flesh. None of that can happen if the float riders aren’t generously throwing beads. Maybe I should create a brief instructional video or something to help educate potential float riders of what is expected.
Anyway, although the parade was disappointing this year, we waded into the masses to see if we could do better at providing ourselves and other revelers with a show. I’ll not go into great detail but suffice to say, we kicked Mardi Gras ass, saw lots of exposed flesh, and had a great time!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mardi Gras Galveston 2009, Part 2 – The Feast(s)

No matter what looms ahead, if you can eat today, enjoy today, mix good cheer with friends today enjoy it and bless God for it. – Henry Ward Beecher

Friday was laid back with the main plan of the day being to feast on two of the quintessential Mardi Gras delicacies. The weather was beautiful, sunny and comfortable. The first item on the agenda was the children’s Mardi Gras parade at my oldest son’s preschool. So, we donned our beads and headed out. The kids never disappoint and we laughed about the funny things they said and did for the rest of the morning. Following that, we obtained a cooler full of beer and ice and went to find some lunch. The first of two authentic Mardi Gras entrĂ©es to be savored was gumbo so we headed to Leo’s on Broadway, of course. Following the superb gumbo, we ventured back into Houston to pick up my Bro-in-law from the airport since he wasn’t able to join us until Friday afternoon. Finally, 4:30 pm, the designated start time of the crawfish boil arrived and we went to another local legend’s place, the backyard garden paradise at Big John’s.
This formerly nondescript backyard has been completely transformed over several years of landscaping into a virtual tropical paradise complete with a massive macau parrot named Sarge and a koi fish filled pond with a functioning waterfall. There we took shots of grappa and feasted on the second absolute must have Mardi Gras entree, boiled crawfish with potatoes, corn, sausage, etc. and proceeded to party the night away in excellent company.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mardi Gras Galveston 2009, Part 1 - Arrival

Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious. – Saint Thomas Aquinas

I invited several friends to come down to the Mardi Gras this year. Johnny, my bro-in-law from Dallas, my poker buddy Anthony from Ohio, and an old beer drinking and camping buddy currently residing in Michigan, Canoe Lew. When I picked up Anthony and Lew from the airport on Thursday morning wearing Mardi Gras beads and sporting a cooler full of beer, they knew without a doubt that I was ready to get the party started. The weather was exceptionally favorable with clear skies, sunshine, and a temperature of approx. 63 degrees F. We left the airport with sunroof open and at Anthony’s suggestion, headed straight for a high quality gentlemen’s club for a free lunch and some entertainment. Unfortunately, the bad economy is affecting even these sorts of places and we were promptly informed that the lunch buffet was only spread on Wednesdays + Fridays and today was Thursday. So, we decided on BBQ instead. Not surprisingly, neither of these former Texas residents had eaten any good BBQ since leaving the Lone Star State. So, we headed for the well known Goode Co. BBQ joint on Kirby. Although they were pleased, I was disappointed. I have been a judge at quite a few BBQ cook offs/contests and I know the good stuff when I taste it. I ordered a combo plate with beef brisket and pork ribs. The brisket was pretty good but not great. The ribs had some sort of cinnamon or clove taste in the spice rub that did not suit my palate at all. After leaving there, we headed to one of my local buddies place at Gotham, a swanky condo he recently leased. Doug, my buddy residing at Gotham, works from home doing computer consulting and always forks over big bucks for a premium place. This was no exception. The loft itself was really cool but what makes it awesome is that one entire wall is glass with an unobstructed view of the downtown Houston skyline and the surrounding area. If I had that place, I would never get anything done because I would be too busy being distracted by the view. After knocking out the beer I brought, we proceeded to work on Doug’s supply. Before long, it was time to go meet some more friends at Taco Milagro, also on Kirby. Taco Milagro was unimpressive with respect to the food and drinks. However, they did not disappoint on the crowd they attract for an after work happy hour. We were surrounded by visually appealing women that were also apparently affluent. We partied there for a few hours before heading home for the evening.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Liquid Assets - Gumbo Redux

I live on good soup, not on fine words. - Moliere

Galveston is a mere shadow of its former self since the storm.
However, it’s good to know at least one thing is still as it was before Ike.
Leo’s gumbo. That’s right. Even though the lines have been longer than usual due to more people finding out about the place and I really don’t like to wait in a long line for much of anything, I have been to Leo’s for gumbo a lot lately. Today, I waited in line just behind the Mayor of Galveston, so the news about how good this place is has even reached City Hall. I know I already told you it’s the best gumbo available anywhere on the island. But, did I tell you how velvety delicious each spoonful is in one’s mouth? How they consistently pack the container with plenty of meat? How the roux has just the right consistency and always tastes perfectly cooked and is the true heart and soul of Leo’s, as well as, any gumbo? Look, here’s the deal. Leo’s folks fill you up with plenty of their own smoked chicken and his own made-on-the-grounds smoked sausage but they are the complements to the roux, that’s right, not the other way around. I just enjoyed my (somewhere around) 17th pint in the last month and there is one reason I patronize Leo’s so frequently – his gumbo is the best available.

If one has never had any gumbo before, I guess one could enjoy the gumbo anywhere. None of the gumbo on the island is inedible. However, if one has a palate that knows what real gumbo is supposed to taste like, I’ll see you in line at Leo’s.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hope Springs Eternal

There is no gambling like politics. - Benjamin Disraeli

Although Galveston has been literally devastated by Hurricane Ike, there appears to be one potential silver lining to the dense, dark cloud lingering overhead - casino gambling may be allowed to return. There are already rumors flying all over Galveston that bringing casino gambling to Galveston will be among the ideas considered by the Texas Legislature this year.
I whole heartedly support this concept and believe the time is right for Texas, as well as, Galveston. We are already a town highly dependent on tourism and casino gambling would really help to attract travelers and tourists to Galveston as a destination. We already have cruise ships landing and leaving all the time. Those waiting to leave on a cruise, those returning from a voyage, and the folks that drop them off and pick them up would all be likely customers.
Additionally, the Texas House of Representatives has a new Speaker this year and the distinguished gentleman apparently has family in the horse racing industry.
Thus, the prevailing political winds seem to be blowing in our favor and perhaps, just perhaps, I will be able to play legal casino poker in Galveston within a few years. For me and many other Texans, that would be great. We would no longer have to travel to Louisiana or Oklahoma to play our preferred games. Texans could and would just come to Galveston.
Every time I go across the state line to gamble in one of our neighboring states, all I see in the parking lot are vehicles with Texas license plates. Thus, if this miracle happens, it will be a boon for the Texas tax coffers, a boon for the rebuilding of Galveston, and a boon for many, many Texans. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Avian Flu?

When I played pro football, I never set out to hurt anyone deliberately - unless it was, you know, important, like a league game or something. - Dick Butkus

What happened? All the Birds won on the road. Other than the Steelers, all the Division Champs lost at home! I am baffled by this? A team fights all season to a) make the Playoffs and b) have as many Playoff games at home as possible. It is called “home field advantage” for a reason – it is supposed to be an advantage for the team that is fortunate enough to achieve it. This is no small feat to pull off in the modern NFL. However, after doing just that and securing home field advantage throughout the Playoffs (Tennessee and New York this year, Dallas last year), they proceed to lose at home, in front of their perplexed fans, and be eliminated.

My favorite team has been all but dead since the 2002 season. Thus, I was pulling for Tennessee to go all the way. That didn’t happen. I do not want to see the Steelers win another one. I despise the Ravens. The Eagles have had and squandered plenty of opportunities before. Therefore, although I am not a fan, I am rooting for the Cardinals to win it all. I know. It sounds strange just thinking it. The Cardinals winning it all. Go figure.