Posts Tagged ‘poker’


Posted: June 18, 2015 in poker

So, at the WSOP 2015 Colossus event at the Rio in Vegas, only 6.3% of the 22,374 (14,000 unique entries – not counting the rebuys) were women.  I wonder how many women did the rebuy?   I am not headed to Vegas until July.  One of the regulars in our poker group made it to Day 2 of the Colossus.  She is a great player!

I’m not sure how this relates to the writing prompt “Off Season” or “Choose Your Adventure” at all, but maybe for women poker players it always seems like the off-season.  Or maybe it’s because I’m having a bad run of cards.   AJ beaten by AK,  QQ beaten a flush….    It’s made me sensitive to phrases like “throws like a girl” and “that took balls.”

Honestly, I can’t be too upset, I beat men all the time.  Every time I make final table I’m beating a lot of guys to get there.  And any stereotypes about women poker players that go with it.  Most poker players seem more open-minded than to even notice gender, but I don’t know if that’s true of all of them.  Sometimes I get the feeling that some men just don’t like being beaten at cards by anyone, let alone a girl.

I know I’ve been called all kinds of horrible names on online poker, but I can ignore that, as it’s not the real world. They wouldn’t say those things to my face.

I guess they’re going to put a woman on the $10 bill. Maybe they should put a woman on the $100 to make up for lost time.

One of my co-workers gave me the the poster “the many emotions of Mister Spock.”

So, I’ve created “the many emotions of Phil Laak.” Hope you like it.


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Off-Season.” In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Choose Your Adventure.”


List: things i didn’t tell my mom

Posted: April 23, 2015 in poker
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Things I Should’ve Said To My Mom
1. I went to Russia & to Paris.   I’d been wanting to go for 20 years, and when I received a partial grant & scholarship I knew it was my one chance.  I didn’t tell her before I left because she would’ve been really worried.  I didn’t tell her when I came back because she would’ve disapproved that I spent the money.  I kept it a secret from her for six years, and then she died.  It was so beautiful.  I never talked to her about it.

2.  You were my Rosie-the-Riveter.  She square danced, built a cabin with my dad, raised sons, played piano, read books.  Really, all my friends loved her.  I should’ve told her more often.  When I was in my  twenties I barely called her.  When I had kids of my own I realized all she’d gone through with me and my brothers, and my dad who had gone senile.  We got a lot closer, but how lonely she must’ve been. Your strength became my strength.

3.  Your stories were excellent. One of my biggest regrets was saying to her “do you have to talk so much?”  My mom talked all the time.  Sometimes it was annoying.  It was selfish of me, as often she had no one to talk to.  Her stories were full of life, funny, interesting, detailed. When she grew up there wasn’t electricity. She could sort of morph one story into the next.  She was an expert at transitions.

4.  You were right.  She was right about the boy I lost my virginity to.  She guessed it.  She said she “didn’t trust him.”  I lied. She probably knew that. She was right about most things.

5. I took some beers from the fridge.  For a slumber party we had in high school. It was gross, we drank them warm. Part B. I later drank too much in college. I don’t think the two are related. Everyone drank.  I suppose that’s how you learn your limits.  You would’ve been embarrassed for me.  Sorry about that.

6.  Thank you for teaching me to play poker.  I should’ve thanked her for letting me stay up late at the cabin with my brothers playing Michigan poker, teaching me to fish, letting me watch The Twilight Zone & Star Trek when I was little, rocking me to sleep when I was sick with asthma and there was no medicine.  Thanks for sticking it out with my dad who was the sweetest man I’ve known.  Thank you for not squashing my creativity and allowing me to be a kid.  Thanks for the worry, I know you loved me.

7.  Goodbye.  I never had the chance to really say goodbye.  Even at the funeral, I was in shock to such an extent, I don’t remember touching your hand, though I know I did. I didn’t want to cry, which was a kind of tribute I made to you.  I counted roses to keep from crying and got through it with your British stiff upper lip.  Goodbye mom.

My mom unexpectedly died in 2007.  For a lot of very complicated reasons, mostly to do with my ex, my divorce, a lack of money and vacation time, I didn’t see her for almost six years before she died, though we Skyped regularly.


My (ever changing) Bucket list

WSOP ($1000 buy in) in Vegas
Kentucky derby
Kids  to Yellowstone & Mt. Rushmore.
Different trip:  Colorado, the Alfred Packer site. Lake City, CO.  Rock formations there
Hieroglyphs of hands.
Red Rocks concerts – all
Back to St Petersburg to Dostoevsky’s grave
Jim Morrison’s grave/Hunter S Thompsons grave
Oaxaca, day of the dead
Cherry blossoms on the D.C. Mall / the Lincoln monument
River rafting again.
Meet Bob Dylan  – favorite song “buckets of rain”
Do something for charity
Get one of my manuscripts published
Piano lessons
Purchasing power, or If-I-had-the-money list
buy cabin
buy cello for kiddo
send poker player Jack to the bluebird café in Nashville because we’ve written a great song together.
create college fund for kids
Looks like the model for the Rosie-the-Riveter poster died today.

Our lives are intertwined. Coincidence?

In Response to: “The Satisfaction of a List.”


Posted: April 22, 2015 in poker
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He said,  The top card of the deck is burned at the beginning of each betting round, so that if the card was marked, the players would not be able to cheat.

She said, I need more orange juice.  The man lit a cigarette.  She listened to Balalaika music in her head. He glanced at the copy of Doctor Zhivago on her desk.


She read a passage to him.  “They loved each other because everything around them willed it, the trees and the clouds and the sky over their heads and the earth under their feet.  Pasternak, Zhivago”

She picked up her empty Star Trek mug.  Leonard Nimoy seemed to be watching them.  The man ran his fingers across his temple and pressed his forehead.

She told him to leave. He went back to designing his board game.  She put lotion on her hands.  It smelled like gardenia.

She said, “Yesterday’s gone on down the river and you can’t get it back. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry”

The man said, Yesterday is the burn card.

She read silently. “All that’s left is the bare, shivering human soul, stripped to the last shred, the naked force of the human psyche for which nothing has changed because it was always cold and shivering and reaching out to its nearest neighbor, as cold and lonely as itself.” Pasternak, Zhivago. 


Write 500 words on any topic you like. Now remove 250 of them without changing the essence of your post.
 “Slash and Burn.”

sunrise, sunset

Posted: April 21, 2015 in poker
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Never, ever have I been an early bird.  I’ve seen a few sunrises, but probably almost as many from staying up all night as from rising early in the morning.   I worked the graveyard shift for two years, so in retrospect, I may have seen more sunrises than many.

Poker is a game that is lovely to play outside on a sunny porch with little wind and a cold beer, or in a smoky room, late at night in the presence of cowboys.


In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Early Bird.”  Since I don’t make sunrises, here’s a sunset.  Not photoshopped.

Religion, Politics & Poker

Posted: April 21, 2015 in poker
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“Polite Company.”

“It’s never a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don’t really know.” Agree or disagree?

The poker goddess would like us to live in a world where we can discuss anything in a reasonable fashion, where debate is encouraged, where ideas are freely bounced from one mind to another like a watercolor basketball dripping with fresh paint.

That being said, I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a town full of fundamentalist evangelical Christians, home of the New Life church (formerly run by anti-gay hypocrite Ted Haggard before his sexually scandalous downfall), Focus on the Family, and a couple hundred other tag-a-long Christian organizations.  It used to be, before Haggard lost his throne, that you couldn’t shake a stick without uncovering a burning bush, or drive down the street without seeing a religious fish bumper sticker.  It’s gotten a little better.

Now, I believe in god as well as the next woman, but I was raised CATHOLIC, which isn’t by any means a small demographic in America.   The philosophy is slightly different that with other Christian religions.  The church is sacred & holy, and we are supposed to do good works in the world.  (Though I haven’t been to church in a while, I think that my god understands this & would forgive me.  The god I believe in would also have slightly different opinions about women & birth control than the true Catholic god. Maybe I’m not a very good Catholic.) All of that being said, I’m pretty tolerant of other religions.  The world is a big place, and it can be a good place with loving people who want to help each other, even if they’re Protestant or Methodist or Jewish or Hindu, like my software co-worker & friend Bejoy.  (We’ve spent hours talking about India & Hinduism on the phone, and he is a good soul.) I find that many people in the U.S. confuse Hinduism with Islam or other religions.

So, if we look at the New Life church, which I’ve had occasion to visit, you have to make a choice on what you want to see: the good or the ugly.  The good part would be an active church with a lot of singing and community.  The ugly side would be the merchandising, the lack of tolerance for differences, the parade of the “less fortunate” that are brought out at the beginning of the service.  They say god is everywhere, but I felt more like I was at a high school pep rally than in the presence of God. I was really bothered by the lack of the sacred & holy thing.   There was a large screen and a lot of clapping. And stuff for sale.  CD’s and books and crosses.  It brought to mind a cross between a Church and shopping mall.  I don’t want to be put in the position to defend any religion, but the soup kitchen is run by the Catholics.  Do good works, that’s all.  Matthew 6:5-15

The other thing about my town, and it is one of the most beautiful towns, the mountains visible from almost everywhere, is the politics.  Almost everyone with an artsy creative side has moved to the west side, close to the mountains, as though they offer protection from the anti-Obama stickers and the still-after-all-these-years broadcasting booming barreling voice of Rush Limbaugh & the overbearing twisted Fox millionaire, Bill O’Reilly.  Apparently when he was in power, Dick Cheney ordered the TV’s at the air force bases to be set to Fox news.


I love my city, and it has gotten better, by that I mean seemingly more tolerant, but even as  I write this, I am filled with a little bit of  fear.  I may be offending my neighbors. But Free speech is in our constitution!  Beware offending the man with the cash in his hand.

I’ve sullied the poker blog with enough talk on these controversial topics.  They are definitely best avoided at the poker table, especially in tournaments where one sits for hours with strangers making pleasant small talk.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Polite Company.”

Best Cinematography

Posted: April 20, 2015 in poker
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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Four Stars.” Write a movie review of your life

Zoom in on the Arizona desert, a very large sun setting between the cactus covered mountains.  Phoenix is a dusty city in the early 1960’s, and the suburbs have been built in old grapefruit groves.  Three brothers play baseball in the front yard of a yellow tract home, and a girl toddles to the front porch and watches from the screen door.  She runs out and asks if she can play too, and they hand her the baseball bat.  She hits a ground ball toward the tree that marks 2nd base and starts to run. Her brothers cheer her on.

The title flashes on the screen written in a barbed-wire type face:  Arizona Slim.

The early part of the movie is set in a fantastic landscape and the cinematography is incredible, alternating between the lushness of the orange trees, the beauty of the Ocotillos & Saguaro’s, and  the summers in the pine-covered Northern Rockies near the New Mexico border.  Arizona Slim has a tissue in her hand and is sneezing through most of the childhood dramas.  Her mom wears red-lipstick and has a beautiful smile.  Her mom is often reading or taking her to the library, and her dad takes her fishing.  Arizona Slim goes to ASU at the height of the Cold War and studies Russian, only to find Gorbachev in power and perestroika when she graduates.  She works as a secretary for a few years and meets a very handsome boy, a poet.  Together they apply to study creative writing at the Iowa Writers’ workshop.  They aren’t married, and she gambles that things will work out.  Shortly after they arrive there, she ends it with him, he is killing himself with alcohol.  There isn’t a dry eye in the theater.

About a year later she marries a fellow grad student and they briefly live in Wisconsin before moving to Colorado.  Cut to scene of five feet snow drifts. After three children they encounter job loss and medical problems and their marriage falls apart.  She travels on a writing seminar to St. Petersburg, the most beautiful (cinematically) city in the world. She shares custody with her ex fifty-fifty, which means she sees her children alternating weeks.  She must somehow make this work, but she has a lot of trouble adjusting to it.  She feels she is a single woman half the time and mama the other half.  She thinks to herself that you wouldn’t treat an animal this way.  Colorado river rafting by herself with the kids changes her mind.  Again, the beautiful canyons, the big horn sheep.  Her hard working mom passes away, and the brothers that cheered her on as a child go their own way.  She never hears from them again.

As the years go on she again becomes serious about writing.  She begins to write about the people she plays poker with. She dates a few, but finds that at her age many men do not want to get involved with a family.  Either they’ve raised their own children  or they never wanted them to begin with.  She starts to keep a blog about her poker playing and eventually publishes a novel.  The young man she went to Iowa with dies young.  She begins to get better and better at poker, and eventually is the first woman to win the WSOP in Vegas.  Lights, poker, The strip, the casinos.  She takes the money and buys a B&B in the mountains.  Big table, pokerplayers, fireplace.  What a great show. Tearjerker, heartwarming, with a fantastic ending.


The mentor’s I’ve had haven’t known they were my mentors.  They never said, “I’m mentoring you.” In fact, to their faces, I stubbornly refused to take any advise.

“Do not ever tell me how to play.”

When I was in grad school and writing full time, I always wanted a mentor.  I was really disappointed that no one ever took me under their wing.  I had potential.  The world is a busy, cruel place, and time is hard to come by.

But poker, however is a game, and in order for it to be a good game, you need good players to play against.   Poker as metaphor.
Ten years younger than me, my friend Classic taught me not to bother to come to the table if I’m not willing to lose what I bring.  Bad Larry told me to play position.  He said “If you are the last to act you have some power.”  Jules taught me how to play one-on-one. She showed me not to be afraid to shove all your chips in when you’re the last two at the table.

I’m not a mentor….instead about all I know to do is play a good game, and try to mentor by good play.  The  thing I try to pass on:  never lose your cool.   It’s embarrassing to see someone enraged by losing.  Isn’t it better when someone gets knocked out and they offer up a toast to the poker goddess?   Or, instead of tipping over a chair, they say “Buy me a drink, you donkey.”

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Mentor Me.”