How I Met Jerry Coleman

jerry coleman baseball cardJerry Coleman died today. Seven decades in baseball. World Series MVP as a player. Broadcaster. Manager.

I met Jerry in the late 70s. I was working in Philadelphia radio and our helicopter traffic guy, Walt McDonald, knew Jerry from San Diego. Could he arrange for me to watch a Phillies/Padres game from the broadcast booth as Jerry did play-by-play?

Done.

I headed to the Vet a few Saturdays later and was escorted into the booth directly behind home plate. I was a little overwhelmed. Jerry Coleman was a big deal former major leaguer with a very distinctive voice. There was no mistaking whose hand I was shaking. He didn’t pass unnoticed in a baseball stadium.

The Padres took an early lead, but between innings Coleman explained how the Phillies looked like they’d figured out the Padres pitcher, who was beginning to tire. I saw none of this, but nodded anyway.

Next inning the Phillies blew it open! The Padres pitcher was chased, just as Coleman predicted and when he predicted it.

Both Jerry Coleman and his broadcast partner, Dave Campbell, were gracious that afternoon. It was my own personal reality show to take in and remember.

Over 35 years later, I still remember. It still makes me smile. I am one of many who will not forget Jerry Coleman.

Vegas Roundup

OK–this is a little nuts. I’m not that good a player. No one is. I’ve had nine winning sessions in a row including last night’s tournament win. I am seeing Benjamin Franklin in my sleep.

palazzo-slot-machines.jpgWe leave in the morning for Palm Springs, California. Vegas will be done for us. Stef left this afternoon. She slept her way cross country with an entire row to herself!

I played a little poker this afternoon and again tonight. Both times it was $1-2 no limit hold’em and both times I came home a winner!

OK–this is a little nuts. I’m not that good a player. No one is. I’ve had nine winning sessions in a row including last night’s tournament win. I am seeing Benjamin Franklin’s etched face in my sleep.

My friend Rick said I came with a positive attitude and that made me a more confident player. Others might have sniffed that confidence and moved away when I threw my chips around. Who knows?

frozen-hot-chocolate.jpgHelaine and I did take a little walk this afternoon and had dinner at Serendipity. This restaurant is an offshoot of the New York City original. After we both had our meals we shared the specialty of the house–Frozen Hot Chocolate. Good choice.

Before we leave a few words about this hotel: The Palazzo. It is spectacular. There are probably nicer hotels somewhere. I’ve never stayed in one.

This room–all the rooms– are suites. There is a sitting room a few steps down from the bedroom. There’s no wall, but the spaces are separate.

The bathroom is large enough for a bus terminal.

There are three flat screen TVs hung on various walls in the suite including one in the aforementioned bathroom.

Most spectacular is the huge area covered by windows. We’re looking west toward the mountains with a little peek up and down the Strip.

south-side-las-vegas-blvd.jpgThere are hotels and there is gambling elsewhere. There is no other Las Vegas. It is built on hospitality. It never fails in that regard.

Vegas is down on its luck right now. Hopefully it and all of us will recover before long.

The plan for Wednesday takes us from McCarren to Ontario Airport in California. Wheels up time probably under 30 minutes. Then it’s a 70 mile east through the desert to Palm Springs. We should be there around sunset.

Poker: It Really Helps To Be Lucky… And I Was!

My Aces held and at the end of the first hand I had three times the chips of any other player!

No tease here. Straight to the conclusion. I won last night’s 7:00 PM poker tournament at the Venetian. it took until 1:00 AM, but I outlasted around 70 others.

If you’ve watched poker on television (and what a sad little life that exposes) you’ve seen the type of tournament I played. The big difference is money. At the World Series of Poker there are thousands of entrants at $10,000 apiece. My entry fee was around 1% of that.

The exact amount I won is unimportant (and won’t be divulged here). It was enough to keep my interest.

As the headline says,”it really helps to be lucky.” I was. There were two hands which were pivotal to my win.

venetian-poker-room.jpgThe tournament is played at tables of ten. As players are busted the tables thin until the poker manager shuts one down and redistributes the players bringing everyone back to ten.

At the end ‘final table’ has ten players which shrinks as they get tapped out. In this tournament the final nine players got paid on a sliding scale. I won nearly ten times what the ninth finisher got.

I got very lucky, very early.

On the first hand I had ‘the button&#185.’ One player called the blinds, another made a bet which I then raised substantially. The first player in called and the original player declared “all-in.”

OK–let’s step back a second. This is the first hand. We haven’t seen any of the common cards. All we know is what’s in our own hand. Going all-in means this player is putting all his chips on the line. He’s risking the entire tournament in the first thirty seconds!

I called. The original small caller called.

No flop and there were three players all-in. Two would soon walk.

We turned over our cards. The player who went all-in first had Queens. The other had an Ace and Eight suited (what was he thinking?). I had two Aces.

My Aces held and at the end of the first hand I had three times the chips of any other player!

We continued to play an hour and a half until the first break. I checked my chips and had a few thousand less than I did after the first hand. That first hand allowed me to be very cautious. It also scared other players from picking a fight because I had enough chips to end their night. I probably wasn’t the chip leader but I was up there.

For the next few hours I played well. My stack grew and I stayed at or near the lead.

Flash forward a few hours. With around 20 players left I was dealt a pair of Kings. I made a substantial bet which was answered by an all-in from the only player at my table with more chips. I called and he turned over two Aces.

Yes, Aces beat Kings… except there were five common cards to come. The flop was dealt and there was another King! Now I had a ‘set.’ It held and I won a monster hand crippling my biggest opponent.

The odds were against me. The most likely scenario was my being busted out by the guy with Aces. I got lucky.

By the time we got to the final nine I was in either eighth or ninth place. It’s tough to say. You can ask for a count of an opponents chips while you’re in a hand, but mostly you just eyeball them and guess.

I continued to play ‘tight aggressive’ and it worked. Slowly I ate away at the other stacks. I also watched as other players battled it out. One-by-one they went away.

At the very end it was me an another player–he a high school athletic director from Muncie, Indiana. My stack was around three times his.

I asked if he wanted to make a deal for the pot?

The poker manager awarded us both second place money then divided what was left (the extra that would go for first) proportionally by chip stack. He got a little more than second place money. I won a little less than first. It was a good deal for both of us.

We played around six hours. Yes, I was very lucky. There is always some luck in a long tournament. I also played really well. That gave me the ability to be there to get lucky!

I’ll probably play cards again today, but I really don’t have to. My goal was to face major league pitching and do well. I did.

&#185 – The button player moves last which is a strategic advantage. The button itself moves after each hand.

A Night Of Poker When It All Went Right

If my math is right there was about a one in a thousand chance he’d catch the only two cards in the deck that would beat me. My pulse quickened and I held my breath.

I played poker last night. Though I favor tournaments, this was a ‘live’ ring game. It was one of those magical evenings when I played well and was rewarded. There’s enough luck in poker that those two don’t always go together.

For any poker fans reading I was dealt two 7s from the small blind, had two callers to the flop which came 667. I checked my full house which led to a sizable bet from the next player. I wanted him to fold so I moved all-in.

He spent a long time thinking and talking. He thought he knew what I had, but he was totally off.

I still wanted him to fold. I’d be happy to collect what was in the pot without chancing a ‘suck out.’

Instead, he called. I flipped my cards over. “Shit,” was his only response.

Though I was a prohibitive favorite, it wasn’t a lock. If my math is right there was about a one in a thousand chance he’d catch the only two cards in the deck that would beat me. My pulse quickened and I held my breath.

I played for three hours. The difference between me winning or losing was just big two hands. Aside from those I basically played even.

Geoff Fox Action News Promo – Circa 1985

While in California my secretive friend in the San Fernando Valley pulled out a videocassette and popped it in a player. Good grief I haven’t seen this stuff in nearly 25 years.

It’s a good friend who saves your memories!

A Day Of Poker In Paradise

I guess the dressing room for the “dolls” is behind the poker room because every half hour or so two well built and scantily clad girls walked by with a fully dressed female chaperon.

When I am in Las Vegas I play poker. I am a decent poker player in a city of excellent ones. It’s a challenge which is my fun. I’ve been playing in tournaments because you can get a lot of play with relatively little money at risk.

I played the noon tourney at Caesars and was doing really well until I got a pair of Aces dealt to me. That’s the best starting hand you can get. Unfortunately, another player at the table got lucky and ‘cracked’ them. I was gone.

I went back and found Helaine here at Palazzo. We had an early dinner at the Mirage Buffet. Vey nice. I could easily weigh 600 pounds.

More poker this evening. I headed back to Caesars where there are tournaments every three hours. The 9:00 PM tournament is a bounty tourney. I’d never been in one of those before. The prize pool was split between bounties for knocking other players out and the more cash for the final three of the 27 entered.

I won one bounty and held on until we were down to six. At that point I asked if anyone was interested in a deal. Amazingly everyone was amenable and we chopped the pot into four smaller and two larger shares. I was quite happy walking away with some cash.

This was a really fun table with people from all over the country and two men from Holland who deal at a casino in Amsterdam. No arguments. Everyone was very, very nice with good chitchat and stories.

Meanwhile, the Caesars poker room is adjacent to their “Pure” nightclub and Pussycat Dolls blackjack area. I guess the dressing room for the “dolls” is behind the poker room because every half hour or so two well built and scantily clad girls walked by with a fully dressed female chaperon.

I complained to the floor manager they were stalking me. That got a good laugh.

Pussycat Dolls at Caesars poker room