Sunday, October 3, 2010

Taking a Break From This Blog

Welp, I'm kinda feeling bad about not updating this blog as much as I think I should. I spend a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook putting up my short takes, etc. But I've always tried to run my blog under the "Jim Rome" rule. "Have a take and don't suck." So I always try to put something thought-out and meaningful on here. Most of it has been poker, but I've gotten into other areas like fitness, healthy eating, and smartphones.

I could set my blog up to scrape news sites and post relevant stories, but there's a ton of blogs that do that and most of them kinda suck. I've even tried to run some banner ads that might make me a little money if clicked. But after 3 years, I was informed by one banner service that I had to remove them since I talk about gambling on here. Oh well.

So considering my blog neglect issues, my expanding subject matter, and my waining interest in posting, I think I'll take a break for a little while and take some time to decide what I want to do with my blog. Not saying I will definitely shut down, but that is one of many options I will consider.

In the meantime, please feel free to follow me on Twitter. I'm on there almost every day and I like it: http://twitter.com/Stick66 Cheers.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stick's Quest for Fitness: End Month 14

07/20/09 = 243 lbs(start) 30.8 BMI
07/20/10 = 215 lbs.(-28) 27.3 BMI, 18.8% Body Fat
08/21/10 = 217 lbs. (+2) 27.5 BMI, 19% BF
09/20/10 = 217 lbs. (-0) 27.5 BMI, 19% BF

Welp, at least I didn't backslide. Stats exactly the same as last month. Considering I attended a brewfest, a family B-day, and Mary's graduation dinner, I guess I should feel lucky that I didn't gain. The culprit this month is alcohol and desserts. I'm seriously thinking about going on a beer-less stretch for a month and see how it goes. My willpower sucks pretty badly right now. I'm not very confident that I could go very long without alcohol, but I'm willing to try. I'm going to a food show with Chef-C tomorrow where they'll have free food and drink for 2 days, so maybe I'll start after that. Hmmmm.

I think I'm doing well on the fitness side of things. Jogging on the treadmill longer. Lifting more weight and seeing my arms get bigger. Now I just have to get rid of my gut. I've changed my routine again to focus more on my abs and I think cutting the alcohol will help too.

Goal is still 199 and I was recently doing some calculating. At 217 and 19% BF, I am carrying 41 lbs of fat. If I lose just 20 lbs of that (about 1/2), then I'll be at 197 and 11% BF. Increasing my muscle will help those stats even more. From what I understand, over 200 with 10% body fat is pretty ripped. Would be nice. :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Stick's Random Update 9/14/10, Plus Justin.tv

Been laggin' on the blog updates. Between fiddling with my Captivate smartphone, working out, playing poker, Twitter, Facebook, and a brewfest last weekend, it hasn't dawned on me much. I was gonna say "haven't had the time", but I actually have. I've just been distracted, I guess.

Gained 6 pounds recently, but I think it's part water weight and part muscle gain. Been working hard, sweating a lot, and drinking a lot of fluids. The brewfest indulgence didn't help, but I'm still not discouraged. 1 more week until monthly weigh-in. I've checked my body fat % a few times recently and it looks good.

Poker has been going well. I was running bad the first week of the month in SNG's, so I decided to switch to 10NL cash games for a little while. Did well for a while and just had my first down day today. Still good for the month, though.

I decided to start a Justin.tv channel after reading some good reviews of their new android app. I'll be able to broadcast live from my phone soon. Not sure what I'm going to show yet, but it won't suck. I hope. Stay tuned: http://www.justin.tv/stick66/

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Stick's August 2010 Poker Results

Sucked. Again. 4 negative months in a row. This month it was -$393. That includes the Reno trip for live poker. Total for the 8 months of this year: -$875, about $500 of that is live. Slight silver lining. For as many hours as I've played, I feel like that's not too bad.

Here's the online damage for this month:





(No online cash games at all.)

I feel a solid commitment to STT/MTT's. I guess I need to study more. Hit the books. Watch some videos. Obviously, just playing and practicing isn't working at the moment. I feel like my basics are good and my reads are good, but it's my situational play that is lacking. I'll either fold too much or make a bad shove. Seems like I rarely make bad calldowns, but maybe I'm missing the opportunities where I should call down. Back to the books, I guess.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Stick's Quest for Fitness: End Month 13

07/20/09 = 243 lbs(start) 30.8 BMI
07/20/10 = 215 lbs.(-28) 27.3 BMI, 18.8% Body Fat
08/21/10 = 217 lbs. (+2) 27.6 BMI, 19% BF

Gained 2 pounds overall for the month. I was down to 213 at on point, but I blame some major eating & drinking in Reno for 4 days and a big Mexican lunch on 8/19 for the gain. So I'm not too disappointed considering the enjoyment trade off I had. It would be worse if I was surprised by the gain. I guess it really helps the positivity and motivation when you are prepared for setbacks. I should have no problem losing more than 2 lbs this month.

I don't have any trips coming up, but I do have a brewfest on 9/18 that I want to go to. That's only 2 days prior to my reporting day (20th of every month). I guess I could tack on a day like I did this month. We'll see.

I've changed my gym workout routine again to be more intense and I really think I'm seeing good results. I start with 5-7 minutes of cardio to get the heart rate up. Then some taxing of the abs and lats. Then about 20 minutes of weight training on arms, chest, lats, and abs. Then about 10 minutes of leg work. Then another 5 minutes of cardio to finish. I try to do it all in a circuit to keep the heart rate somewhat high the whole time. It takes about 40-45 minutes and I'm up to 6 days a week. I'm also tanning 5-6 days a week, so the overall look is pretty good. I can really see definition in my legs, arms, and chest. My trouble spot is my gut, but I think I'm still staying positive about it.

I just have to watch the diet a bit more and stay the course with the gym work. No problem.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back from Reno, Sad

Not only did I not have any poker profit in Reno, I also realized how far downhill it's gone in the last few years. Hookers, transients, and druggies downtown more than ever. I had the pleasure of being propositioned by a skank and the pleasure of wiping a druggie's blood off a toilet seat I desperately need to use. Yes, scary.

Not as many good deals to be had, either. The place that had a hot dog and a Heineken for $2 just 2 years ago now has it for $4.75. The $1.99 breakfast is now $2.99. So the cheapest places to eat are McD's & Arby's with their dollar menus.

Downtown Reno seems to cater more to locals now. Seems like a fun place to dance, party, and get your drink on. But as a relaxing, casino-based vacation spot, I think it has completely lost it. I haven't tried the outer places like Peppermill, Atlantis, and Grand Sierra and I'm not sure I will after this last trip downtown. I went for mostly poker and it was pretty hard to find a good game. Mostly regulars who only played at certain times. No late night drunken tourist donkeys like in Las Vegas. I'm better off playing the local Sac rooms here. Oh and the automated "PokerPro" poker tables at the Silver Legacy were a joke. Mostly greenhorn players who knew no etiquette and played extremely slow would brave the pretty little tables. And to top it off, it took an hour to get a tourney together there. Plus, it was empty most of the day so I don't think those tables will last very long. They didn't in Vegas or Folsom, either.

Oh well. I think the wife and I will go again to party. But sadly, never again for a "vacation".

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Heading to Reno on a Poker Binge

Almost forgot. I'll be in Reno 8/8 - 8/12 on another solo poker trip. Gonna grind some 1/2NL and maybe play some tourneys. I think I'll also step away from the buffets & casino bars and try to find some cheap eats and good local brews. Brews Brothers microbrewery is a gimme, but I think there's more around. I shall report soon on what I find.

But with my new Android phone, I'll be updating regularly on Twitter. Check my updates in the right side margin of the blog or you can follow me at http://twitter.com/Stick66 .

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Stick's Offbeat Las Vegas Travel Tips

It's been a month since I got back from my first extended trip to Las Vegas. I went with the intention of enjoying the spectacle of staying on the the Strip while also playing lots of poker and meeting some online friends from our poker forum. I stayed for a week (which was almost like living there to me) and I learned a few nifty things that I think could help other folks when they go to "Sin City" also. These things dawned on me both during travel and during my stay. It is my impression that these tips I will give aren't widely known. That's why I call them "offbeat". But if you are already aware of something I post here, you are that much more keen IMO. So here we go:

1) Many bags/luggage looks similar and could maybe even be the same model. To make sure someone in a rush at the airport luggage carousel doesn't mistake your bag for theirs and takes it home before noticing it's NOT theirs (happened to me years ago), put something brightly colored and noticeably different on your bags. An odd bag tag, bright yarn tied on the handle, sewn-on patches, or fabric paint all should work. Do it even on your carry-on in case you set it down before boarding.

2) One thing I learned the hard way is to leave enough room in your bags to fit all the crap you wanna bring back with you. I found some good T-shirt deals and was even given a couple for free by associates. With those and the ones I bought as souvenirs for the family, the total was 10 extra t-shirts I had to cram in my bags. It was tough and I learned my lesson.

3) If your ears don't handle pressure fluctuations very well (like mine; bottom of the pool, mountain travel, airplanes), then chew gum during take off. Worked for me.

4) There are a ton of shuttles at McCarran airport in Las Vegas. If you aren't renting a car or have other arrangements, don't waste your money on a cab. You can book a round trip shuttle online or just go to the shuttle window at the airport. Easy stuff and saves money. Remember to tip your driver when you get to your hotel.

5) When you check into your hotel, always ask the clerk if they have any complementary coupon books. They usually give a sheet with just a few on them to everybody, but they may also have a thicker booklet with many, many more coupons (my hotel did). Always worth asking.

6) To anyone who doesn't live in a city with similar water treatment, Las Vegas tap water sucks ass. But the water used to make the ice in the hotel ice machines is usually filtered. So every morning, I took my ice bucket and filled it with ice. Back in my room, I could put a bottle beverage in the ice. But I also learned that by afternoon, I had some nice drinkable ice water in my bucket. Then at night and the next morning, I still had nice filtered water for taking pills or choking down a protein bar before the journey to the buffet.

7) That leads to the next tip: Protein bars. Unless you are a non-drinker and/or are perfectly chipper every morning no matter the strange sleeping conditions, you'll appreciate something on your stomach before you make it downstairs to finally eat. I take enough protein bars to have one per day of my stay. And by "protein bars", I don't mean those gooey, fatty granola or grain bars. Find something with low fat, mid-to-low sugar, and at least 10 grams of protein per bar. They'll digest quicker and give you the correct kind of fuel when you need it.

8) You'll eventually meet "the flickers", as I call them. They are the lowlifes who try to cram the nudie bar flyers in your face while you walk the Strip. Unless you like that kind of thing, the best way to handle them is to ignore them. They won't bite or be offended. I say this because I was amazed at how many people actually tried to be so nice to them while trying to let them down easy while refusing to take a flyer. There's so many of them that you'd waste so much time doing that. Trust me. They won't cry or want to kill you if you just walk by.

9) The latest "fad" I saw in Vegas was oxygen bars. I tried one and I do recommend trying them. They are out in the open in some casinos, malls, and even outside on Fremont Street. The cost is something like $22-$25 as of this posting. Their pitch for the oxygen treatment is that it is supposed give you energy, make you more alert, and even fight the effects of a hangover. You sit down and are given an unused breather tube for your nose (like the hospital ones). The attendant hooks it up to a tube in front of your stool and you breathe in the oxygen for about 15-20 minutes. There are usually little switches in front of you to pick your favorite scent, but I left them all on since you get more oxygen that way. While you are taking it in, the attendant might show you some massage gadgets, scented oils, etc. available for purchase. I bought something. But again, I'm sure they'll be OK if you say "no". So after I was done, the best way to describe the way I felt was that it was like I just woke up from the best night of sleep in my life. No jitters. No side effects. The feeling lasted at least an hour, but probably could have been more if I wasn't drinking later. ;)

10) I recommend that everyone who stays on the Strip and hasn't ever been downtown to Fremont Street go see it once for at least a couple hours. But getting there in a cab can be expensive. Las Vegas has a decent bus system and 2 lines that run from the Strip to downtown. One is called the "Deuce". It's a double decker and stops at nearly every strip hotel. It can get crowded around meal times and on weekends. But if you ride at times like 2 in the afternoon or 11 at night, it's great. Clean and safe. The other line is the "Gold". It is regular size and makes less stops, but is actually quicker to get downtown on. You can get tickets for either bus at machines right on the street (Strip and DT) and they take credit cards too. $3 per ride or $7 daily pass as of this posting.

11) Make sure you check out both of the Strip's main malls, the Fashion Show Mall and the Miracle Mile Shops. It seemed like every clothing store had some really good clearance deals. 50-75% off some really good stuff. I like DC, AlpineStars, and Fox and I didn't pay anywhere near full price for any of that stuff. Look for certain brand's factory stores they have in those malls, too. They might have stuff there that you can't get back home. (And FYI: Most of the malls attached to casinos are more expensive than these 2.)

12) At some intersections on the Strip, they have escalators leading to walking overpasses. But beware later at night when some of the escalators shut down for various reasons. Some are pretty high and long to have to walk up & down. So if you are handicapped, drunk, sick, tired, old, etc., you could be in for a tough time.

13) Best beer pong: O'Shea's Irish Pub & Casino.

14) Best local microbrew deal: Ellis Island Casino & Brewery (1 block behind Bally's), $1.50 for a 22 oz. glass of some really good brew.

15) Best HUGE buffet: The Rio (take the free shuttle from Harrah's or Bally's), it's massive.


That's all I can think of right now. I think I'll be posting some reviews of a few of the specific venues I patronized. Restaurants, poker rooms, my hotel, etc. So watch for those.

I was there for a week and still didn't get to go everywhere and do everything I wanted. So there'll probably be another one of these posts next year. Cheers.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Stick's July 2010 Poker Results

Welp. It's official. I'm an online STT/MTT player, NOT online cash. I do okay at live cash, but I gotta stick to tourneys online. I got the "cash game bug" when I got back from Vegas on the 1st. So I tried to grind cash and I guess my style doesn't work online. Comfort, style, bankroll, you name it. It all points to tourneys for me. But I LOVE live cash games. So I think I got it figured out.

So I ended up this month for a total loss of -$154. That includes a live tourney loss and online cash, tourneys, and bonuses. Check the damage:





Had a decent SNG run at the end to get back positive:





Time for me to specialize. Get really good at online tourneys and build a bigger bankroll. Then possibly take a crack at online cash again. Meanwhile, I've made a pledge to myself to play more live games. I'll be going to Reno to grind for 4 days and then I'll try to hit some Sac area rooms.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Stick's Quest for Fitness: End Month 12

07/20/09 = 243 lbs(start) 30.8 BMI
08/20/09 = 235 lbs. (-8) 29.8 BMI
09/20/09 = 231 lbs. (-4) 29.3
10/20/09 = 223 lbs. (-8) 28.2
11/20/09 = 222 lbs. (-1) 28.1
12/20/09 = 222 lbs. (-0) 28.1
01/20/10 = 222 lbs. (-0) 28.1 BMI, 20.3% Body Fat
02/20/10 = 222 lbs. (-0) 28.1 BMI, 20.6% BF
03/20/10 = 223 lbs. (+1) 28.3 BMI, 21.0% BF
04/21/10 = 223 lbs. (-0) 28.3 BMI, 20.2% BF
05/20/10 = 220 lbs. (-3) 27.8 BMI, 20.2% BF
06/19/10 = 214 lbs. (-6) 27.2 BMI, 19.7% BF
07/20/10 = 215 lbs. (+1) 27.3 BMI, 18.8% BF

1 stubborn pound from my Vegas trip is still hangin' around. No biggie. I can lose that easily. But I do have another trip planned, this time to Reno, on August 8th for 4 nights. So it looks like more curve balls coming this month. Luckily for my weigh-in this month, we postponed my birthday dinner from 7/17 to this Thursday because my daughter was sick. I could have been a bit heavier if we went on the original day. I also noticed that my body fat dropped almost 1% (yes, I took numerous readings to check for errors). So I guess that means my muscle gain is catching up to my fat loss. Ummm, wow? Makes me blush. ;)

As for the year in reflection: I've learned a ton. I've worked a ton. I've done things I never thought I'd do. And even though I've only lost 28 lbs., I feel a ton healthier. The biggest thing is that I think I can keep this up. Many people "diet" and "work out" for a while, lose the weight they want, and then go back to being junk food eating sloths. But I think I like the way I do things and I like looking at my body. I like cooking healthy foods. I like going to the gym and reaching for higher fitness goals. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. Plus, it all gives me more confidence in other parts of my life (like poker and even social situations). So I guess you could say keeping fit helps my brain as much as my body.

Now if I could just get my family to climb on board. Every time I walk past those 12-packs of soda in the garage, I shake my head. :p