We’re Watching Poker

The audience at home knows who has what as bets are made.

We can and do offer advice to the TV set. We often can’t figure out why the player is doing what he’s doing.


Welcome to the 21st Century. The Foxes are home, downstairs on the family room sofa watching the World Series of Poker on ESPN. It’s compelling.

This year’s coverage features a high tech addition. The chips and cards are RFID enabled. Hole cards are read when the player puts money in the pot. The audience at home knows who has what as bets are made.

We can and do offer advice to the TV set! We often can’t figure out why the player is doing what he’s doing.

In order to keep it honest for the players, ESPN is running its “Live” coverage on a 30 minute delay. How is that still live?

Poker is an interesting game. There’s lots of luck, but enough skill for some people to make a living play. For some people a very good living.

The WSOP “Main Event” started July 5th. Once the field was winnowed from 6,683 to 9 the action was paused. It picked up last night for the final table.

Ninth out got around $750k. First place will get exactly $10 million. All for an original $10,000 buy-in–still too rich for me.

Last year Helaine played in the women’s event. I told her we should go back next year.

Five Hours Of Poker

tourney table

I am writing tonight from the poker table.   There are poker casinos in Los Angeles County.  This one is in Hawaiian Gardens.

I’m in a tournament.  For a fixed price I get tournament chips.  One by one the players are wiped out.  The last 10% get paid.  Winning can be lucrative with around 200 entries.

This is a cross section of SoCal.   Every ethnicity is here.  Only English is allowed at the tables,  but you hear many languages elsewhere.  Asia is well represented in the players and staff.

pepper-steakI come here hungry.  Waiters and waitresses orbit the room.  Food comes to the table.  It’s a huge, tasty, piping hot serving.

I got pepper steak and shrimp.  It comes with a bowl of rice,  unmatched knife, fork and spoon, chopsticks and plastic plates.  I added a small salad.

Every person here comes with the hope they’ll take it down. Most hopes get dashed.

Two things about poker.  It’s the only game in the casino where you play against players,  not the house.  And it’s primarily a betting game,  not a card game.

We’re ninety minutes in and just back from a break.  Few bust out in these early rounds.  The skill is being here at 3 or 4am when the winner is paid.

There’s some chatting,  a little friendly table talk. Everyone’s cordial.

There are disputes.  Dealers make mistakes.  Players make mistakes.  Floor managers come as arbiters.   I have seen angered players forcibly ejected.

A card room is loud.  Chips click.  Players talk.  Cards shuffle.

There is constant drama as players attack and retreat,  sniping for their opponent’s stacks.

Joyce is our dealer.  Based on her accent it is not her given name.  She deals the cards from her slender fingers to nine of us.  Dealers change every half hour.

There have been a lot of all-ins recently.   That’s usually a desperation move by a short stacked player.  The field is shrinking.

I’d like to say I’m doing well, but I’m not.   No rush to move,  but I’ll be eaten by the swiftly increasing blinds if I don’t move soon.

I spoke too soon.   I won the next hand, a big pot with four others in by making a big bet.  Bluff.  I wanted my bet to represent strength I didn’t actually have.

Being behind, the risk seemed more worthwhile.  One should not bluff often.

They just broke the table next to us.  One of their players filled a seat here.

Just lost to a player who was dealt two aces. That seems so unfair.

My stack has shrunk again.   You can’t sit still.  The stakes go up at scheduled intervals. 

Another player busts out and silently walks away.

The tournament’s been going almost three hours.  We still don’t have an official talky of how many played,  how many get paid and how much.

The guy next to me just played a hand.  First he paused the movie playing on his phone. Three players wearing earphones.

The next hand I play,  I’ll be pot committed.  In other words it won’t make sense to bet anything but everything I’ve got.

Break again.  Teeth minute pause.  Just putting off the inevitable.

One guy across the table has been drinking.  He’s getting a little talky.  Tonight I am quiet.  An observer.

His stack is larger than mine.   Maybe skill is overrated?  Maybe liquor is overrated.

He is cackling now.

Nearly two hundred players.   The top two or three will walk away with big money.   I’m looking less and less likely to be here for that.

Half the players are gone.  People are concentrating a little harder.  There’s less noise.

10:30 and I’m having a cup of coffee.  Still in, barely.

Hour five begins.  I now have too few chips to scare people away.

King King.   I’m all in with two others.

My kings get cracked!   I’m done.

Dinner was really good. I played well. No regrets.

As players are eliminated tables are consolidated until there’s a final table.

The Eagles Fans Of Irvine

Helaine grew up in Philly. Her dad was a diehard Philadelphia sport fan who indoctrinated his only child. When Philadelphia sports teams are losing, Helaine watches with the sound off.


I remember my first Eagles game. I went with my friend Marlene from Northeast Philly. Her dad had seats.

It was a spectacular September day. Mild. Sunny. We walked up the ramp, into the open and looked down at an American flag covering the entire playing field.

Goosebumps. Hooked before the kickoff!

I ended up buying those seasons tickets. I sat through every second of every game in that 4-10 season and the next few stinkers after that.

Helaine grew up in Philly. Her dad was a diehard Philadelphia sports fan who indoctrinated his only child. When Philadelphia sports teams are losing, Helaine watches with the sound off.

We sat down tonight with Stef, third generation Eagles fan, to watch tonight’s game against the Colts.

Tough to watch the first half. The Eagles didn’t look bad. They just didn’t look good. Down 17-6 at intermission. Ugly.

Well into the fourth quarter the Colts were on a scoring drive. They were up 27-20. A score would have almost certainly sealed the deal.

“Game’s over,” said Helaine in typical Philadelphia style, conceding the Colts touchdown and Eagles defeat.

But then, miracle of miracles. On a play where refs missed an Eagles penalty, Malcolm Jenkins intercepted. A few minutes later the Eagles tied the game.

They would go on to win 30-27 on a field goal as time expired.

Are you kidding me? This is how good teams win. I know because of all the times we’ve seen it done it to the Eagles! Do we even remember how to watch without complaining?

Two weeks into the season and we’re liking football a lot. We’re also waiting for reality to set in.

Changing Doppler With The Seasons

This is a sad year for the Phillies. In baseball terms, they suck. They’re getting older (not that there’s anything wrong with that), slower and less able to hit for power. The pitching staff has been so weak at times I expected walk-ons from the stands to toss a few innings.

We’ve seen them at Dodger Stadium and Angels Stadium. They’ll be in San Diego soon. It’s driveable. Maybe. But why?

Our attention now turns to the Eagles. There are high expectations for this team. I’ve heard it before, but never as positively as now.

Kiss of death? Probably.

To mark the changing of the season Doppler has lost her worn out Phillies tag and gone green!



A Night At Angel Stadium

Angel Stadium is a massive oval, the kind they don’t build anymore. It is without charm, but nicely maintained from a fan perspective… well, except for the urinal with a plastic trash bag over it in the men’s room!


The Phillies are west this week. We’ve had our tickets for a while. Tonight, Phils versus Angels in Anaheim.

Let me cut to the chase. The Phils struck first then fell apart. The Angels batted around in the sixth, scoring seven runs off three pitchers. Disappointing. The final was 7-2.

Angel Stadium is nearby. Without traffic (whenever that is) it’s 20 minutes from the house. Google directed me there at rush hour, avoiding the 5 and using roads I was unaware of until tonight. Well done, good buddy.

We arrived in time for batting practice. H and I like to watch the players. Who’s nice to the fans? Who’s chatting it up with teammates? Who’s bigger or smaller than you expected?

Angel Stadium is a massive oval, the kind they don’t build anymore. It is without charm, but nicely maintained from a fan perspective… well, except for the urinal with a plastic trash bag over it in the men’s room!

Hey, Angels fans — where’s your spirit? It was the dullest, most quiet ballpark I’ve been in.

In 2014 your ticket should buy a full night of entertainment. Most venues keep you busy between every inning. Not here. Videos lackluster. Live elements lackluster.

The video screens had panels that obviously aren’t operating correctly. This is Major League Baseball–The Show. Fix it.

The Phillie Phanatic was on hand tonight. He does more in Philly where he has more props. Still funny. The best.

We’ll be back. But Angels, you need to try harder to entertain beyond the game. You’ve spent just enough to be mediocre. For today’s prices it’s your obligation to be first class in every way. Just do it.

It’s Poker’s World Series

IMG_0074We’re in Vegas. It’s World Series of Poker time. Neither Helaine nor I, two small time card players, have ever been here for WSOP. This is our year.

Helaine is playing now! She’s around three hours into the Ladies Tournament. Whomever wins will probably be playing another 20 hours over three days!

IMG_0069We went to the WSOP site at the Rio yesterday afternoon. We wanted to scope the place out. It is immense–bigger than I imagined by far.

The large convention center halls have been stuffed with poker tables. The sound of chips clicking–a sound poker players love–is overpowering.

IMG_0066Yesterday’s Event #51: No-Limit Hold’em MONSTER STACK Tournament brought over 7,800 entrants! There were other tournaments already underway. The place was overflowing with players looking for a bracelet and 7-figure payday.

The parking lots were packed. There was a long line at the Men’s Room. It’s was nuts.

We returned this morning to a much more sedate scene. Everything was ready-to-go, but the players were just trickling in.

There’s still time for late registrations, but it looks like there will be under 800 entered–down from last year.

IMG_0065With Helaine playing at Rio I headed to Aria where a smaller 1PM tournament was starting. They had so many entries there were ‘alternates.’ They only play after someone else busts out. I was 38 on the list.

The called my number, I sat down and was dealt two 4s. Potential, but not a winner on its own.

I called a small pre-flop raise and watched A-4-5 come out. That gave me three 4s, most likely the best hand at that stage.

IMG_0064I bet and was called by one player. By the time we were at the River I was All In!

The final board was A-4-5-3-A. I had 444AA, a full house! He had AAAA, four aces.

First hand. Gone. Poker.

It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

“It will happen,” I said at the time to anyone who asked, “when I grow a second penis.” I actually didn’t say penis.

Our governor, Hartford’s mayor and a bunch of other prominent Connecticut residents were played. When all was said and done they looked naive and foolish.

PatslogoI remember the fall of ’98 like it was yesterday. Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, spent the summer flirting with Connecticut. He was using us to make his ‘real girlfriend,’ Massachusetts, jealous.

Gov. John G. Rowland of Connecticut and the owner of the New England Patriots scheduled a news conference at the Capitol today to announce an agreement to move the National Football League team from Massachusetts to downtown Hartford, a spokesman for the Governor said this morning. – NYTimes 11/19/98

“It will happen,” I said at the time to anyone who asked, “when I grow a second penis.”

I actually didn’t say penis.

Our governor, Hartford’s mayor and a bunch of other prominent Connecticut residents were played. Kraft saw us as bumpkins. We were.

By the way, I will never root for the Patriots as long as Kraft is associated with it in any way. I am still bitter. It may have been good business, but it was bad faith.

los-angeles-angels-of-anaheim-logoWhere were we?

Oh, yeah… I’m reminded of the Patriots story because of something going on down here. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are going through contentious negotiations over the team’s lease with Anaheim, their stadium’s owner.

Angels owner Arte Moreno wants the Moon and the stars. The City of Anaheim doesn’t want to get fleeced. The prevailing wisdom is the current lease has been a lot better for Moreno than Anaheim.

Now, Moreno has pulled a Kraft!

Angels owner Arte Moreno met with officials from the City of Tustin last week to discuss the possibility of building a new baseball stadium, a team spokesman confirmed Saturday.

One potential site would be the decommissioned Marine Corps Air Station, which would be accessible via the 5, 405 and 55 Freeways and is across the street from the Tustin Metrolink train station. LATimes 2/15/14

Tustin is the next city north from here. It is not the only stranger being kissed while Anaheim looks on.

Amid tense negotiations with Anaheim, the Los Angeles Angels baseball team has said it talked with FivePoint Communities, the developer of homes surrounding the Great Park in Irvine. What kind of talk, no one knows – or will say in much detail. OCRegister 5/2/14

I could walk to the games! We’re around a mile northeast of the park.

I’ll grow a second penis before any of this happens.

Moreno is playing hardball, but he doesn’t want to move ten miles farther from Los Angeles. The Angels are best served staying right where they are with a little stadium upgrade. It’s all about money.

I hope Anaheim remains firm.

The Clippers Inspirational Promo


We get the Clippers local broadcasts on Prime Ticket. They’re currently running an inspirational promo. Black and white. Silent. Text only.



WE ARE ONE and the Clippers logo.

Great, except Donald Sterling still owns the team. It wouldn’t surprise me if he still owned the team next year! And it is Donald Sterling who will most benefit should success find the Clippers.

Meanwhile, Leon Jenkins, head of the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP has resigned. It was his chapter (truly his… no one else seems associated with it) which was about to honor Sterling. The LA chapter is a ‘conscience washing’ operation. Pay enough money and your sins get washed away.

This too is disappointing and despicable, especially under the name of the NAACP. I expected more.

Southern California’s Palace Of Baseball

We brought a picnic of leftovers! OMG! All sorts of goodies from Sunday that made it into a soft sided bag and past security. The Foxes dined at the park!


As Phillies fans, Helaine and I were excited by the chance of seeing West Coast games in person. Last night was a first chance. We dropped Doppler at the sitter and headed up ‘the 5’ toward Chavez Ravine. Phillies versus Dodgers.

LA has traffic. Get used to it. It took 1:20 door-to-door. I can live with that.

IMG_20140421_181714-w1400-h1400Helaine got us great seats down low just up the line from first base. We had an unobstructed view of everything. It was a little tough to judge inside/outside pitches, but other than that, perfect.

We came early. The park is different when the teams are on the field taking batting and fielding practice. We watched A.J. Burnett walk up to the fence, sign autographs and take pics with fans.

Did he have to? No. Class act.

IMG_20140421_193333-w1400-h1400Speaking of which, thank you Dodger Stadium for being a class act too. Every employee we came across was helpful and friendly even though we were wearing Phillies gear. Maybe baseball realizes at the current cost for tickets we deserve to be treated well.

The stadium itself seems to be in pristine condition. It’s cool to see the zig-zag roof over the bleachers and hexagonal scoreboards, now in sparkling high def color. There are more advertising signs than in ’62, but this isn’t a 21st century glitter palace.

IMG_20140421_180820-w1400-h1400We brought a picnic of leftovers! OMG! All sorts of goodies from Sunday that made it into a soft sided bag and past security. The Foxes dined at the park!

The Phils opened with two runs in the first and never looked back. The Dodgers looked lackluster–like patsies on this night. It got chilly toward the end. We were prepared.

380828_20140421_184132-97324829.jpg_1024x1024Nice place to see a game. We should do it more often. Angels Stadium is even closer.

Where I Learned To Not Be Good At Sports

electchester playground

The photo (above) shows the playground where the Electchester Athletic Association had its games when I was a kid. I played softball there… poorly

I caught in a softball league that had no stealing! The Witness Protection Program couldn’t have found a better place to hide me.

It’s tough to see the field’s surface from Google Streetview, but there’s no grass. The surface is probably forgiving today, but when I played there on busy 164th Street the field was paved!

Yeah, we played on concrete.

No sliding in our league either!

Not that it would have presented a problem for me. I don’t think I ever hit the ball out of the infield.

Most folks are surprised to learn baseball can be played on the same surface used to land airplanes or park trucks. Oh yes it can. And, if I’m any indication, it can be played poorly.

electchester sledding hill

As long as I was looking, I slid Google Earth a little farther down 164th to the hill where we went sledding. After a snowstorm this little topographical bump would be crawling with kids.

No!!! Who did this? I am incensed. There are now fences and hedges to prevent sledding.

Sure, we used to slide out into traffic from time-to-time, but this was our place. For a kid in an apartment this was the great outdoors.

Is nothing sacred?

The Olympics Of The Best Athletes Who Can Afford It

There’s something about the winter games I don’t like. These are athletes of privilege. Not everyone who competes is rich, but no one competing is poor.

Kids can’t discover these sports unless they’re afforded the opportunity to try them. They’re not cheap. It’s a barrier to entry.

Please don’t misunderstand. We’re seeing terrific athletes. But there is a cost of this competition far beyond physical ability.

It’s really the “Olympics of the Best Athletes Who Can Afford It.”

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?


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.

Screaming At The TV

In poker, Aces sometimes lose to deuces. A bad beat. The Eagles bad beat the Cowboys tonight. The better team did not win. I’ll take it.

We were screaming at the TV. Screaming at the Cowboys. Screaming at Jerry Jones. Screaming at Chris Collingsworth.

We were especially screaming at Chris Collingsworth.

We both told him to **** himself. That’s right. Sitting on the sofa in pajamas, the Foxes let him have it. Game get to us too much?

We are the consummate homers. And we’re fatalists. On the game’s first play, a six yard run off left tackle, we assumed all was lost.

The TV sound remained up the whole whole time.

“If you weren’t here,” she said sometime in the second half when I asked if she’d rather watch in silence.

“He’s limping.”

“He’s rubbing his arm.”

“Oh, that’s not good.”

We see more hurt and illness than any family of hypochondriacs.

The Eagles move on to the playoffs. They’re playing New Orleans next Saturday in Philly. Every game from now on is win or walk.

Too much tension. Can you be fined for profanity in your own home?

A New Respect For Wrestling

Our cousins asked if Helaine and I would go with them to their son Max’s match this evening. Max is a sophomore at Beckman High School&#185. He wrestles!

My knowledge of wrestling is limited. I watched wrestling on TV as a kid. When I worked in Charlotte, we actually taped wrestling in the studio!

One evening I walked past a guy wearing a wrestling singlet, reading the Associated Press wire. It was a surreal moment.

What I experienced was meaningless. That’s not wrestling. What I saw tonight was and it opened my eyes.

What a crazy, brutal sport.

Beckman was visiting Northwood High School, also in Irvine. Think nice campus for a small liberal arts college and you’ve got Northwood.

The wrestlers are divided into weight classes. The idea is to pin your like sized opponent, though there are other ways to score points.

Wrestling on TV is violent, but it’s fake. This wrestling is violent too. No chairs are being thrown, this is much more controlled.

“Do people get hurt,” I asked? Max proceeded to explain they do and it was surprising there was no blood tonight!

It’s obvious while you watch, all the participants are deep in the zone. Everyone is pumping out maximum strength. Some, in pain and obviously losing, had an “I wish I was anywhere else” look on their face as their matches progressed.

Max won his contest. The Beckman Patriots won the meet. No one questioned my lying on my belly like a reptile to shoot 399 photos. It was a good night.

&#185 – As it turns out the Beckman High School wrestling team has a website designed by me.

Sometimes We Work Late

FoxCT is a Fox Network affiliate. Fox has sports! We’ve got the NFL, MLB, NASCAR and a little NCAA.

Here’s a TV secret. Sports never ends at the scheduled time. No hyperbole there. Never.

Tonight we followed the baseball NLCS. We presented a full 90 minutes of news. It was Al, Audrey, Bob and me plus folks on the floor and in the booth. The jib cam doesn’t fly on its own!

I got home a little before 2:00 AM.

Back in the New Haven days we followed ABC Monday Night Football. It didn’t start until 9:00 PM. The games didn’t end until 12:30 or later.

At one point, in an attempt to make more money ABC added an extra segment after the game. Waiting through that was awful. We could feel the viewers switching their sets off.

Things are more relaxed when you’re on late. Few viewers are there because they were waiting for you. People basically stumble onto the broadcast if they’re even awake.

Staying late every once in a while is part of the job. I try to have fun even when the rest of the world’s asleep.