Friday, March 24, 2017

Dubai World Cup

The former "Richest horse race in the world" (Prior to the Pegasus Cup) is going to be ran Saturday morning and there's very little buzz around it.

That's too bad.  Because the Dubai World Cup is, on paper, a very entertaining race and will be featuring what I think is a very special horse in Arrogate, the 1-3 Morning Line favorite.  Running against him is a pretty strong field including Gun Runner,  a talented horse that hasn't lived up to his potential in big races, Hopportunity, a horse that's scored some big, big wins in the past over good horses, Keen Ice, who is "gritty" in horse terms, and Mubtaajij, a horse from Ireland who always seems to be in with a chance.

None of these horses are as strong, on paper, as Arrogate however. The late-blooming Bob Baffert horse who has made a mockery of the field in every race he's ran.  Most recently you saw him beat the great California Chrome in the Pegasus, and he won the Breeder's Cup as well.  In fact, had he not developed so late he might have been a Triple Crown winner in 2016.  He's that good.

Locally, Sam Houston Race Park is opening their doors at 6:30 AM to allow for simulcast betting.

I'll be there.  Look for the guy wearing throwback checkerboard Vans.

Let's talk ponies.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Houston Texans: Is it time to question O'Brien?

Stories like this make you wonder.

The fact is that Bill O'Brien is not the "quarterback whisperer" that he's been advertised to be. In fact, most of the quarterbacks who have left the Texans, Hoyer, the Fitz, etc. have played BETTER with their new teams than with Houston's professional football team.

For a supposed "offensive guru" O'Brien's offenses have been a consistent embarrassment during his tenure. On any team serious about winning he'd be on a seat so hot you'd feel the warmth in Beaumont.

But these are the Texans, owned by Crazy Bob McNair who is seemingly content to have the team win the pathetic AFC South some seasons and exit meekly in either the first or second round. He can afford to do this because he has one of the bat-shit craziest fan bases in the country, who continually sell out NRG stadium despite having a product that can only be defined as mediocre.

The reality that is starting to emerge is that, unless something changes, O'Brien's best work as coach of the Texans will be some funny monologues in Hard Knocks.

We all know that the Texans are lacking quality in the front office.  GM Rick Smith appears over-matched by his peers, but this trade (undoubtedly dreamed up by an increasingly clever looking Browns team) probably gives him something to point to for years now as evidence of his brilliance.

The question is whether or not the dysfunction at NRG has pervaded the entire team?  We know what the owner's priorities are, and it doesn't seem like anyone on Kirby has a real plan on how to win, and win big.

MAYBE the Texans don't get taken advantage of by Jerry Jones and the Cowboys in their pursuit of Tony Romo but the odds are not in favor.  And MAYBE the team starts 2017 with someone other than "Tom Savage" penciled in as the starter at quarterback.

But, if it IS Tom Savage and hope time for the team then the fans should riot.

They won't though, which is why their team is allowed to continue to court mediocrity on the backs of their unfailing loyalty.  Find something else to do on Sundays Texans fans, until the team gives you reason not to.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Gamble Blogging: A lifetime of running cold (Part VII) Vegas is a cruel, cruel mistress.

It's been a while since I added to this series but a lot has changed since I wrote this:

A lifetime of running cold series.

For one, I now have a hand-pay to brag about (later) but no Royal Flush yet.  I also have a ton of tales and some new locations to add to the story.

But first, let's pick up where we left off.

After my last trip to Vegas (in 2014) the wife and I started 2015 planning to hit Vegas several times.  We visited in March, June, August and December right after Christmas.  We stayed at TI, Mandalay Bay (again), NY/NY and Excalibur.

The first trip, in March, was going to be the trip where I finally got to do some serious sports betting for March Madness.  I had also decided to dip my toes back in the live poker well and play in one of their $40 buy-in daily tournaments for fun.

As is our custom, we arrived on a Thursday evening, ate dinner, hit the bar hard, lost just a little bit playing video poker and went to be somewhere around 2AM.  The next morning I was up and about early (around 8AM) I went and ate breakfast and settled down at a slot machine to play a little prior to the tournament starting.

It was at this time I ordered a cup of coffee with creamer from a cocktail waitress, sipped it, thought it tasted funny, but finished it regardless.  This, as it turned out, was a huge mistake that pretty much cost me the trip.

Thinking back I'm not sure if it was the coffee, but I'm pretty certain it was.  Because 1/2 way through the poker tournament I started feeling ill.  Very ill.  My vision was blurring, I was dizzy and my stomach was doing it's best impression of an over baked pretzel.  I wouldn't tell you anything about the last three hands I played in the tournament but it was pretty bad.  I started walking away from the table before the last card came out because I knew that something was wrong.

What was wrong was food poisoning.  A fairly hideous case of it.

For the next 38 hours I was confined to either bed or the restroom on the occasions that I needed to puke. I was also cold. So cold that my wife set the room temperature at 75 and still had to go down to the gift shop to by me a pair of sweat pants and a zip up hoodie.

All day Friday and all day Saturday I laid in the bed in the room half sleeping and half getting up to the bathroom.  My poor wife, who hates college basketball, stuck by my side in the room with nothing to do but watch March Madness while I came in and out of sleep.

This was, without a doubt, the worst trip to Las Vegas that we have ever experienced.

On Sunday I was finally feeling marginally better, at least enough to get out of bed, so our last day was spent slowly walking around the Strip.  At this point I was pretty much limited to drinking Pedialyte and eating some saltine crackers that we got from Walgreen's.

I didn't gamble, I didn't watch much of March Madness, we didn't see any shows.  It was all around just a horrid trip.

The remaining trips in 2015 were better, no one got sick, but nothing to brag about.  I was scared to drink coffee now but I did gamble and we had 3 trips with a succession of small wins and small losses that pretty much made gambling in Las Vegas just about a wash.

We didn't gamble much however because my wife was on a horrid losing streak and would just clam up and stop gambling after $20 or so. Then she'd get in a bad mood and so we'd just walk from casino to casino doing not much of anything but just ambling around.  We spent all of 2015 in this funk, a funk brought on by extreme sickness and some pretty rotten action.

Because our gambling had dropped, so did our comp offers.  We needed something to get us back on the beam and we needed it quickly because our Vegas passion was flailing and we really didn't know how to get it back.

About the only saving grace for this period of time were the shows that we saw.  We saw Penn & Teller and loved it, Zarkana before it went away, Mystere, a show at the Venetian called "Panda" and the Dancing with the Stars road show at the Tropicana.  We also dined well, when we ate, eating at all of Wolfgang Puck's places, Mesa grill, Gordon Ramsay's Steak and Pub, and we discovered the Crown and Anchor Pub for the first time.

The irony of the year was this:  In 2015 we spent more time in Las Vegas than in any year prior, we also gambled a hell of a lot less.

In 2016 that would change, not always for the better.

Combined Blogging: Las Vegas Central

For a while I toyed with the idea of creating a blog that was Las Vegas based, focusing on gambling, eating, drinking and just generally having a good time in the city.  This led to the creation of Las Vegas Central which I fiddled with in fits and starts but never really found the time to pay attention to full time.

So I'm combining the two and bringing all of my gambling stuff here.

I'll also be posting on the Vegas Fanatics forum where I go by the moniker: Nick Pappageorgio after the character from Vegas Vacation.  There I'll be attempting live trip reports and some other stuff so if you're into Vegas and want to see how a low-roller does it then join me.

Outside of that, this will be my main blog going forward.

Simplicity y'all.

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