Pages Menu
TwitterRsslogin
Categories Menu

NFL Week #3 Picks

Posted by on Sep 24, 2017 in Blog, Essays | 0 comments

 

 

Colin Kaepernick wasn’t the first NFL player to commit the sacrilege of refusing to stand at attention during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The national anthem’s first mutineer was none other than Duane Thomas, the enigmatic former star running back who played briefly for the Dallas Cowboys, San Diego Chargers, and Washington Redskins during the early 1970s.

Thomas displayed a brilliant, though disappointingly short pro football career tarnished by repeated controversies inflamed by deep personal resentment which led to his self-imposed solitude.  He went an entire season, which concluded with a Super Bowl victory, without speaking to anyone including — as impossible as it seems —  his own coaches and teammates.  No one could figure out what went on inside Thomas’ head during those years nor knew what created such intense bitterness and personal difficulty.  Inner demons perhaps.  To this day, his inexplicable actions remain a subject of speculation.

One thing is certain.  Thomas’ football ability was never in question.  He was so talented that he won the 1970 NFL Rookie of the Year award.  Despite not playing until the fifth game of a then 14-game season, Thomas still managed to lead his team in rushing yardage, leading many observers to compare his running style and enormous potential to the legendary Jim Brown.

Then, contract negotiations bogged down and things went downhill from there.  More like off a cliff.  Thomas held out for a higher salary (the Cowboys front office was notoriously cheap with its players at the time).  At the height of Thomas’ career, he earned just $20,000 per year (equal to about $126,000 in today’s dollars when adjusted for inflation).  If Thomas played in today’s NFL, he’d be earning 40 times that amount.  Like most pro players of his era, Thomas was exploited physically and grossly underpaid given what owners and television networks were making, by comparison.

Had ESPN existed back then, Thomas would undoubtedly have been a heated topic of discussion.  He rarely talked to the media, but when he did, his quotes were often wickedly accurate.  During his bitter contract impasse, Thomas called his own press conference.  There and then to a room filled with reporters watching in disbelief, Thomas called coach Tom Landry “a plastic man — actually no man at all.”  Head scout Gil Brandt was branded “a liar.”  Thomas had particularly harsh words for team general manager Tex Schramm described as “sick, demented, and completely dishonest,” to which Schramm later jokingly replied, “Not bad.  He got two out of three right.”

One of funniest stories about Thomas occurred during his rookie season.  Thomas didn’t pay any attention to protocols.  He had little respect for authority.  One day, Thomas wheeled into the parking lot at the Cowboys’ practice facility.  He pulled into Tom Landry’s private parking space, locked his car, and then walked into the building.  An equipment manager witnessed this and was startled by what he saw.  He immediately ran up to Thomas and hurriedly asked, “Why did you park in Tom Landry’s space?”  As though the reasoning for his action should have been blatantly obvious, Thomas snapped back, “It was the nearest one to the door.  Don’t you realize it’s raining out there?’”

That was Duane Thomas.

Eventually, the Cowboys got wary of Thomas’ antics, though his unorthodox behavior never impeded his abilities on the playing field.  They attempted to trade him to New England, but the woeful Patriots rejected the trade weighed heavily in their favor only a week later citing him as a hopeless troublemaker and shipped him back to Dallas.  Soon thereafter, Thomas was busted on a bogus marijuana charge that still remains the subject of controversy.  Drug accusations were the final straw for Cowboys management.  They’d had enough.  He was shipped to San Diego.  The terms of the trade included even the word “unconditional,” which meant the agreement was completed no matter how Thomas acted with the Chargers.

During the pre-season, his new team’s patience would be put to the ultimate test when Thomas took the field for a home game in San Diego.  He seemed totally lost during warmups.  He wouldn’t practice with his teammates.  He refused to go through the usual drills.  Just prior to the game’s start, players lined up along the sideline for the national anthem.  To everyone’s astonishment, Thomas was spotted wandering off, walking around behind the bench, staring down at the ground.  No player had done that before.  No athlete had ever demonstrated such a glaring disregard for an accepted tradition, Olympic medal winners Tommie Smith and John Carlos, notwithstanding.

Thomas’ career in San Diego was over almost before it began.  He never touched the ball or played a single down for the Chargers.

To be clear, Thomas’ defiance of the national anthem wasn’t intended as a political statement, as is the case with Colin Kaepernick last season and current NFL players now demonstrating their solidarity by voluntarily kneeling in protest against overt racial injustice in America.  Thomas’ curious actions during his flash-in-the-pan pro career are mostly forgotten.

Read more about Duane Thomas in this insightful article from Texas Monthly magazine entitled, “The Lonely Blues of Duane Thomas.”

__________

 

This is the third week of the NFL regular season.  I had some personal matters to take care of over the previous few weeks, which prevented me from posting my customary plays here at the site.  However, I did manage to post a few short write-ups on previous Sundays at Facebook.  So far, those plays have netted a small profit of $100 for the season (I lost $250 the first week and won $350 the second week).  I shall go forward from this point and will keep track of all my wagers and betting results.

For the record, this will be my sixth consecutive year to do this (actually 22nd year — dating back to other posting websites).  So far since posting plays here, I’ve enjoyed three winning seasons and suffered two losing seasons.  The usual vig is always included in my calculations, which means the biggest winner overall has been the house.  I’ve paid about $25,000 in vig.  Last year, I took a small loss.  That was entirely due to the Patriots-Falcons Super Bowl game which should easily have gone UNDER the total.  I strongly touted the UNDER.  But then the game when OVER in overtime, resulting in a painful swing of $3,150 to the negative, the difference between booking a modest win versus a small loss for the year.  Stupid shit Falcons.  I’m still pissed about that.

Here’s to hoping there won’t be any ranting material in 2017.  On to NFL Week #3…..

Note:  Lines are current as of Saturday night (taken from William Hill)

 

JACKSONVILLE +3.5 vs. BALTIMORE (Risking $220 to win $200)

Take the points in what should be a close, lower-than-average scoring game where the line appears to be overreacting just a bit too much to Raven’s hot 2-0 start.  This game likely would have been closer to a pick ’em if Baltimore had lost the opener and been 1-1 like the Jaguars.  Baltimore has played two of the most inept teams in the entire NFL so far (both Ohio teams), and should get a tougher test here on the road (in London).  Jacksonville won quite impressively at Houston in the opener and was involved in a tight game last week versus Tennessee in the second half, before collapsing in the 4th quarter.  This game is more probably meaningful to Jaguars here which have to look at this as a very winnable game.  Some intangibles here also favor taking the generous amount points in these annual London games.  Jaguars should keep this close enough to cover and certainly could win outright.

 

CHICAGO +7.5 vs. PITTSBURGH (Risking $220 to win $200)

Another home underdog is way too tempting to pass up, especially getting the half-point on the 7.  Steelers in the Tomlin era are notorious in road games in this situation, often playing down to their level of talent.  Consider the lackluster opener at Cleveland where Pittsburgh scratched out an unimpressive 3-point win.  There’s not much about the Bears to inspire confidence, of course.  However, they did play solid in the opener against a bona fide Super Bowl contender (Atlanta).  Look for Pittsburgh to go through the motions here and the Bears to have just enough talent to squeeze within the touchdown margin.

 

NY JETS +6.5 vs. MIAMI (Risking $220 to win $200)

This wager is not for the faint of heart.  Sure, it’s hard to bet the Jets, now 0-2 both straight up and against the spread.  But a closer look at both losses showed some fight in the Jets who kept things close in both first halves.  Jets were also on the road the last two weeks and now get a more comfortable situation playing at home.  I watched last week’s game closely and it appears Jets players are still with the coach, so to speak, which is not always the case with losing teams.  Miami is simply laying too many points here.  They looked rusty in the road win versus San Diego last week (I’m not calling them the LA Chargers — not just yet), and should have lost the game had the Chargers been able to field a decent kicker.  And, consider this — anyone like betting on JAY CUTLER, who is playing just his second game with the Dolphins, on the road, laying nearly a touchdown?  That’s absolutely insane.  Miami is the sucker play of the day in a card filled with sucker bets.  It’s either the Jets, or a pass.  I think there’s enough talent on this team to keep it close in a divisional matchup, so I will side with the home dog.

 

BUFFALO +3 (EVEN) vs. DENVER (Risking $200 to win $200)

Speaking of sucker plays…..Exhibit A:  the Denver Broncos.  This is a terrible bet given that it’s entirely predicated on Denver’s impressive home win versus (overrated) Dallas last week.  Here’s a quintessential case of a huge emotional letdown, especially a western team flying east for an early start, against what appears to be a much-improving defense.  Credit the Bills for shutting down two opponents in a row during the first two games, especially at Carolina.  Denver isn’t quite the team yet with its young QB to be laying this number on the highway.  Obviously, there are lingering concerns about Buffalo’s offense and whether they can score much.  But young Bills are at home here and have a great chance to make a statement by beating what’s perceived to be a very solid Bronco team (I think they’re mediocre).  Take the points and watch for an upset.

 

PHILADELPHIA -5.5 vs. NY GIANTS (Risking $220 to win $200)

Eagles come off a tough road loss but should bounce back against a team that looks totally lost at the moment, especially on offense.  Giants have no running game at all.  The offensive line is horrid, now to the point of being a punch line.  Mediocre Eli Manning isn’t making good decisions or throws (he’s been average the last five seasons and always seems to make at least one bonehead play when a big game is on the line).  And the best player on the field for the Giants (OB) still isn’t at 100 percent yet.  It’s hard to see how the Giants turn things around and fix their problems in just five days following a dismal loss at home to the Lions on MNF.  Coach Ben McAdoo was said to be an offensive-minded coach who would produce lots of scoring, but the Giants continue to regress under his shaky leadership.  Normally, a team like the Giants would be serious worth a look getting generous points versus a division rival.  But things in New York look terrible and the Eagles coming off the loss should be extra motivated this week at home in a bounce-back game after two straight on the road.  Big home opener with lots of confidence and momentum favoring the Eagles.  I’ll lay anything up to -6.5.

 

TENNESEE -2.5 vs. SEATTLE (Risking $220 to win $200)

Seahawks are another team with major offensive line issues which probably won’t get repaired in less than a week’s time.  QB Russell Wilson seems to be running for his life every time he drops back to pass.  Titans are improving steadily and now have enough balance to put Seattle’s solid defense to the test.  I think they get their first home win here after playing Raiders tough at home in Week #1 and losing the home opener.  Seattle struggled badly in an embarrassment of a win against pathetic San Francisco last week and also got shut down by Green Bay.  We’ve yet to see this team in the usual form of a Super Bowl contender and the spreads are now starting to catch on to Seattle perhaps regressing towards .500.  These could be two teams headed in different directions — so I’ll take the Titans laying less than a FG playing at home.

 

SAN DIEGO +3 vs. KANSAS CITY (Risking $330 to win $300)  BEST BET

If the Chargers had a decent placekicker, they would probably be 2-0 right now.  They lost two games in the closing seconds due to missing very makeable late field goals.  Line is overreacting terribly here to Kansas City’s two impressive wins.  Certainly, the Chiefs do deserve much credit.  But these are the games where teams flying high often have a letdown, especially on the road in an unfamiliar environment (first game in Los Angeles), versus division foe.  I’ll still take tough veteran Phillip Rivers over Alex Smith in a heartbeat.  I also like Chargers playing their second straight week at home which promises a more rested unit, in a perfect spot to beat a team that might be a bit overconfident.  San Diego has enough weapons to keep this game close, cover, and perhaps win outright in front of a non-existent void of a home crowd (one of the worst decisions in sports history to move this team to Los Angeles).

 

WASHINGTON +3 vs. OAKLAND (Risking $220 to win $200)

This is an absolutely ridiculous line.  Sure, Oakland is 2-0 SU and 2-0 ATS and has looked very good in those two victories.  But now they head east for a big SNF game against non-conference opponent loaded on offense.  Assuming the home field advantage is still worth -3 points, there’s absolutely no way Oakland merits being a 6-point choice on a neutral field.  I’d have this game much closer to pick ’em.  So, give me the home Redskins and hope for one of their best performances of the season in a statement game that they belong as contenders in the playoff hunt.

 

LATE ADDITION:  CINCINNATI +7.5 vs. GREEN BAY (Risking $220 to win $200)

I would normally pass on this game.  However, six starters and seven players overall are listed as DOUBTFUL for the Packers and that might be just a bit too much to fade, even for Green Bay.  Bengals appear hopelessly out of synch at the moment, but the added three days of prep time (they played last Thursday) gives the no excuses not to keep this reasonably close.  Lone was +10 before the late news on injuries, which is still bettable so long as we’re getting more than a touchdown.  It sounds crazy to try and make a case for Cincinnati here, but this is mostly an against situation with Green Bay, due to injuries and the Bengals enjoying some advantages with the rest and preparation.

 

ADDED THOUGHTS (OTHER GAMES):

Can’t touch the CLEVE-INDY game due to monumental QB issues on both teams, but I still have to ask — how in the hell are the Browns favored over anyone on the road?  Could be worth a wager for the junkies….Thinking UNDER in the HOU-NWE game, especially since HOU can’t seem to score much and the rookie QB should struggle.  NWE has botch slapped HOU around the last several meetings.  Could be an opponent they take for granted — also have to like HOU defense the way they are playing, which means UNDER 45 looks like the way to go…..Leaning TAMPA -2.5 on the road, but MINN tough place to play and Bucs not quite there yet as deserving of road chalk — likely a pass….Leaning also to PHX at home versus DAL which is coming off a kick in the ass and has to play on the road again.  I cringe having to wager on Carson Palmer and Cards look to be regressing, but this is the statement game for the home team so look for them to be ready.

 

Finally, I will close with a political statement:  I’m hoping that EVERY SINGLE NFL PLAYER TAKES A KNEE THIS WEEK DURING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM in protest against the idiotic stooge of a President and his preposterous comments about the controversy.  Wouldn’t that be something for owners to announce they would fire players who kneel, and then EVERY PLAYER takes a knee.  Wouldn’t that be a statement for the ages.  I hope it happens.  Scab games in our near future?

 

 

 

Read More

A Maverick Defined

Posted by on Sep 22, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics | 1 comment

 

 

Just now, I went and looked up the word “maverick.”

The definition is as follows:  “an unorthodox or independent-minded person.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has been labeled a “maverick” off and on during much of his four decades in public life.  He once championed campaign finance reform, which boldly went against the leadership of his own political party.  For many years he was pro-choice on abortion, that is until his ill-fated presidential run mandated a grimacing flip-flop.  He spoke out passionately against the controversial practice of America using torture as an instrument against terrorism, in stark opposition to the thundering rhetoric of a Republican administration and a constituency of chicken-hawk voters back home in Arizona bridled with proxy patriotism.

However, Sen. McCain’s most surprising maverick moment was revealed much more recently, during the bitter fight to preserve health care coverage for millions of American citizens.

We saw Sen. McCain, the American hero, in evidence a few months ago during one shining praiseworthy moment at the 2 am curtain call during what was believed to be the final desperate act of the despicable Republican dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, signed into law six years ago under President Obama.  Ironically, the man who endured something of a political humiliation by President Obama may become the deciding voice of history who ends up preserving one of the most important landmarks of the former president’s legacy.  Sen. McCain’s actions will go just as far in preserving another commendable political legacy — and that is his own.  Indeed, Sen. McCain’s thumbs down vote may have saved 30 million people in this country from being tossed into the streets.  We shall remember.  [READ:  JOHN MCCAIN’S GLORIOUS REVENGE]

Today, Sen. McCain announced his intention to vote against the latest three-card monte legislation hastily shuffled together and dealt by Republicans who are intentionally trying to fool millions of minions into believing that health care should be a privilege rather than a basic human right.  In fact, four Republican senators are currently expected to oppose Graham-Cassidy bill, as proposed, which is rife with tumors.  Provided this fragile legislative alliance holds together somehow for at least another week, that could mean a final crowning victory for Obamacare’s permanency.  Hopefully, it will also ignite a much-needed revival of the universal health care debate, which could become a reality if the Democrats don’t blow the next election (again).

Sen. McCain is a multi-faceted politician and clearly a flawed man.  Looking back now in what’s indisputably the twilight of his life, it bears remembering what sacrifices he’s made and the high price he’s paid for the occasional lapse or miscalculation.  But if history teaches us anything it’s that we usually remember the outliers to our expectations.  We forget the goose-steppers of history.  We admire and sometimes later honor the few lonely brave who chose to go in another direction and march to a different beat, especially when that beat leads us to become better people and a greater society.

To be clear, there are many things I still do not like about Sen. John McCain.  However, for those who champion the idea of true political independence, for those who wish more of our representatives would vote their conscience over petty partisanship, and for those who long for an unlikely hero in an incompetent power structure where so few actual heroes exist, Sen. McCain has come to personify a rarified political and personal courage.

Sen. John McCain was, is, and shall always be a maverick.

 

 

 

Read More

Robert E. Lee Loses Another Battle

Posted by on Sep 18, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, Travel, What's Left | 1 comment

 

 

We can’t help but be shaped by the experiences of our youth and the events of our past.

Last week in the heart of one of America’s poshest zip codes, a consecrated bronze memorial to Robert E. Lee was chiseled from its sturdy granite foundation.  Unencumbered, then it was chained to a giant crane and hoisted upwards into the bright blue Texas September sky.  Next, the bulky wrath of ire was loaded onto a reinforced flatbed truck.  Ultimately, the disruptive shrine and controversial symbol which instilled pride in some and to many others epitomized overt racism, discrimination, and hate was carted away to its final resting place somewhere outside the city, presumably never to return again.

Despite the sweltering humidity of the 90-degree day, a police SWAT team wore bullet-proof vests and black metal helmets.  Armed with assault rifles better suited for a military ambush rather than a typical weekday afternoon at the park, the forces remained on high alert for several hours, prepared for signs of resistance and violence.  However, there was no resistance.  There was no violence.  No one within this local community seemed to care very much.  Once the statue’s removal was completed, there was only a collective sigh of relief accentuating a much wider unspoken understanding which in some small way amounted to a city’s mass reparation.

Alas, the time to do the right thing had clearly come and although this moment had certainly been way past due for the great majority who viewed a Confederate monument in the 21st Century as culturally indecorous, racially offensive, and completely out of step with modern-day sentiment, we must also willfully acknowledge that it’s never too late to do what is a noble and proper deed.

In Dallas in the year 2017, the likeness of that bearded old general — seemingly so valiant and brazenly defiant riding so high and mighty upon his horse with a sentry in tow — did manage to make one last momentous stand here in the park named in his honor.  Though the real Lee is long dead and buried somewhere more than a thousand miles away, he waged one final ill-fated battle, his lost cause buttressed by an inexplicable lingering cult of adoration bolstered by a disdainful minority of reactionaries and historical revisionists who remain grotesquely insensitive to the very real scars of their and our history solely caused by the masochistic abuses of people of one skin pigment versus another.

And here it was, in Dallas, where he suffered yet another stinging defeat to a force greater than his own, this final humiliation not administered by a superior opposition army nor the blasts of angry cannons, but rather a perfectly legal and peaceful process set forth by democratically-elected local officials following the laws of this nation and guided by common human decency.  The Dallas City Council decided to act in unison and align themselves with the righteous principles of this century, instead of remaining preposterously tethered to some mythological mindset of a faux-romanticized era some 150 years earlier.  No one much feared the backlash of bigots anymore.

When the news of Lee’s final surrender here hit social media, the popular reaction elsewhere was quite predictably tainted by ignorance of this area’s multifarious past and liberated present.  Fact is, Lee lost his relevance in and around Dallas long before his haughty likeness was wheeled away.  Accordingly, I’d like to tell you more about those earlier defeats, those notable occasions commensurate with the victories of so many engaged in fighting the good fight, especially since I grew up in Dallas and spent a fair amount of my childhood living in and going to school in that neighborhood, all giving me a unique perspective of what removing Lee’s statue really means.

Lee’s bronze statue was erected in 1926 during a time when racism wasn’t in the shadows but was the law of the land.  Even though we consider this cringe-worthy, we must also agree that the memorial was marvelous work of skill and craftsmanship.  For 91 years, Lee’s statue stood at the center of what was known as “Lee Park.”  That was before the city council changed the name to Oak Lawn Park.  Indeed, Oak Lawn Park seems appropriate since it’s been one of Dallas’ most eclectic neighborhoods for a very long time.  The park lies within a shady winding valley nestled along the twists and bends of Turtle Creek, located about two miles north of Downtown Dallas.  The Turtle Creek area is canopied with picturesque oak trees, framed by perfectly manicured lawns, interspersed with hundreds of $10 million-plus homes that resemble castles, and several dozen high-rise condos.  It’s a really great place to live and one of the hottest real estate markets in the country, provided you can afford it.

Oak Lawn been like this for as long as I can remember.  Four decades ago, I attended elementary school nearby, which is still there today.  Holy Trinity Catholic School was within walking distance of Lee Park, on Oak Lawn Blvd.  Holy Trinity became famous when the priest in charge of the school administered last rights to President John F. Kennedy after he was assassinated in Dallas in 1963.

I have other memories, too.  I bought my first record album just a few blocks away from Lee Park, in 1971.  Music has always been important to me and a source of immeasurable joy.  I recall the huge record store where I used to hang out and spent many afternoons right after the bell rang and school let out.  In those days, there wasn’t any Internet where you could watch and hear popular music in an instant.  None of us kids had record collections.  So, it was really a big deal to buy the latest hit single you heard playing on the radio, or an album — provided that you had the money.  The first album I ever bought was “Hey Jude,” an album compilation of hit singles by The Beatles released right after the group officially broke up.  Actually, it wasn’t even an album.  It was an 8-track tape.  Remember 8-track tapes?

About that time, like many other big American cities, Dallas began experiencing anti-Vietnam War protests.  Some even turned violent.  Two of the largest protests were held at Lee Park, in 1970 and 1971.  Although I was just 9 at the time, I still hung out at the ’71 mass gathering because it was really cool to see so many strange-looking people known as “hippies,” and watch the excitement.  Their music was cool, too.  I also remember the movie theatre located next to Lee Park capitalizing on the chaotic situation on the streets by showing “The Concert for Bangladesh” on the giant screen, which was quite unusual at the time (I went and saw the music documentary — twice).   Here’s a file photo that was taken that day (above) with a link to a nicely-written blog story by a progressive writer who remembers the local activism of that volatile period.  [DALLAS 1960S ACTIVISTS REVISITED]

There’s a beautiful irony to this story.  No doubt, Robert E. Lee would spin in his grave at the idea of thousands of counter-culture hippies protesting a patriotic war in a park named in his honor.  Civil rights activists also held several rallies at Lee Park.  But the peace movement, blaring rock n’ roll, and cries for racial equality were nothing compared to what was to come next.

Starting sometime around the late 1970’s, the districts known as Oak Lawn and Cedar Springs began to attract increasing numbers of gay people.  Today, within sight of where Lee’s statue once stood, tens of thousands of openly gay, lesbian, and transgender citizens have come to proudly call this neighborhood their home.  Understandably, most of these trendy locals don’t have much regard for nostalgia or an old relic of the past intended to pay tribute to someone who fought to preserve the right of his rebel movement to enslave millions of people.  Such a man doesn’t deserve a statue.  He deseerves burial in an ash heap. [Here’s an interesting ARTICLE on the Oak Lawn “Gayborhood.”]

So, if Lee would have been pissed off before about the hippies and rockers and Blacks taking over his park, he most certainly might have shit a bronze brick at the notion of thousands of free-spirited activists marching in the annual Gay Pride parade, many of them gathered around his antiquated perch of isolation.  Once someone even stuck a gay rainbow flag in Lee’s hand, seemingly waving the banner of pride atop his horse.  Oh, the irony indeed.

I didn’t expect to revisit these memories nor experience an emotional reaction to the news blip of Lee’s vintage statue being removed.  I doubt many others, even living in Dallas, gave it much of a thought.  It’s pretty clear to most of us now that the old relic has no place here.  While we should study and remember our history and protect it when appropriate so that we might learn from it, that’s a very far cry from memorializing its most painful chapters and honoring those traitors who personally contributed to so much mass misery.

When the Civil War waged to the east, Dallas was then a small town.  It played virtually no role in the short-lived southern Confederacy.  Nonetheless, after that bloody conflict a long time ago the locals inexplicably decided to honor this man who symbolized the farce of their self-professed superior cultural heritage.  Even though Robert E. Lee wasn’t defeated on any battlefields here, he was ultimately upstaged many times over by the very people he would have disdained had been alive to witness what came later — including civil rights activists, war protestors, and tens of thousands of gays conspicuously dancing in the shadows of where a bronzed shrine once stood.

This was Lee’s final surrender and a notable victory for those still willing to fight a noble battle in a centuries-old conflict that has not yet ended.

 

 

Read More

Keller’s Drive-In (Dallas) — The Most Wonderfully Disgusting Burger Joint in the Universe

Posted by on Sep 15, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | 3 comments

 

 

My unplanned detour off Northwest Highway onto the oil-stained parking slick fronting Keller’s Drive-In prompted a most peculiar of culinary quandaries.  Namely — should I risk my life for a hamburger?  

From the rusty dangling carports taunting wide-eyed anxiety of an imminent collapse….to the dreary landscape beguiling a knife fight between rival gangs….a pit stop at this East Dallas hamburger haven demands a divine leap of gargantuan faith, garnished with an intriguing sense of unease.

Keller’s Drive-In has been around since before I was born — which is to say when all the Kennedys were still alive.  Growing up in Dallas, I fondly remember Keller’s Drive-In as that last great American hamburger joint before the microwaved abomination of corporate fast-food chains conspired to destroy the world and all but obliterated these genuine small-time monuments to food art and guilty decadence.

All I can say is — thank fucking god this awful place is still around and remains so marvelously defiant.

While we’re now in the midst of a trendy faux-renaissance of the good old-fashioned era of the greasy burger, unfortunately, most of the forgers financed by quinoa-nibbling waifs charge at least quadruple the price of the most expensive menu item at Keller’s — and still aren’t even half as tasty.  Fuck them.  Fuck them with triple patty sideways.

See, Keller’s is the raw real deal.  Taste buds never lie.  Where else in this compromised day and age of mass copy-cat conformity can you wolf down a piping hot guilty pleasure and guzzle a cold beer in the front seat of your car (ALL LEGALLY!) for less than ten bucks?  Indeed, Keller’s isn’t just a teary throwback to bygone authenticity given that its days are probably numbered, memories destined to be bulldozed into an Applebee’s next to Chevron.  It’s a cenotaph to anti-political correctness.  Let me put it this way:  If Jesus ever did return and was an auto mechanic instead of a carpenter, and he wanted to re-do The Last Supper, he’d host it at Keller’s.

On this day, I didn’t plan on eating at Keller’s.  Hell, I wasn’t even hungry.  I was full, even.  But you only live once according to my spiritual leanings and if my time has indeed come to keel over from a heart attack or a switchblade thrust into the abdomen by the newest inductee into the Banditos — then so be it.  My friends, this is precisely how I want to go out — with a scrumptiously sinful artery blocker in one fist and some kind of alcoholic beverage in the other palm, all while mutinously singing The Internationale.

Here.  Check out the menu.  Look at these prices!  “The Best” Hamburger clocks in at $2.35.  Throw in some greasy fresh-cut fries for a buck fifty-five.  Then, kill those intestines with a hearty milkshake for $2.25 (not the corn syrup garbage served elsewhere, but the real dairy product where you can taste the cream).  You can also add a cold beer for $1.75.  Holy shit!  I need to rent an apartment next to this joint!  Or, be buried here.

The best burger, plus fries, plus a milkshake, plus a cold beer comes to — cha -ding! — a grand total of $8.90!

 

 

Allow me to become a bit philosophical.

Food is the most obvious revelation and the ultimate confirmation, that above all else, egalitarianism rules.  Screw everything else.  Fact:  We all want to eat well.  Food is the magnet that makes snooty rich people drive into shitty neighborhoods for no other pursuit than that uniquely scrumptious meal you simply can’t get anyplace else in the city, or the universe for that matter.  Food is the epicenter our most inherent of social and commercial bonds, often between the most disparate tribes.

My rental car pulled up next to a Tesla.  Across the breezeway was a lowrider, which looked to be a ’66 Chevy Impala, though I’m not a car guy (thanks Google).  To my left was a soccer mom with her too many kids in a Toyota SUV.  Behind me was an old paintless pickup truck with a bunch of lawnmowers in the back — presumably all “rapists and murderers” doing their part of keep Dallas green and beautiful.  See, lots more cunts live in Highland Park than Oak Cliff.

Where else but Keller’s Drive-In would I witness a solo visitor from Las Vegas parked right next to an asshole driving a $100,000 car, next to suburban soccer mom, next to a Cheech and Chong wannabee, next to illegal aliens on lunchbreak — all eating pretty much exactly the same incredible meal for the same price?  If that’s not egalitarian awesomeness, then nothing is.

Note, however.  Badass bikers have recently been banned.  [READ “EATER DALLAS” STORY HERE]

 

 

Not often does one accurately describe a popular eating establishment as a total shithole, yet also give it a glowing recommendation.  Well, here you go.  Keller’s Drive-In is a total shithole with fabulous food at ridiculously cheap prices.

Which now brings me to the close.  The culinary encore of this review can be expressed in either one word or perhaps two words.  I’m not sure which.  That word or those words are — POPPYSEEDS.  Ersatz POPPY SEEDS.  I’d crawl over broken glass to devour those poppy seeds.  They’re sewn into every bun at Keller’s Drive-In.  My new sick fetish is poppy seeds.

I’m not sure what exactly is the best thing about Keller’s Drive-In, but the poppy seeds in the bun are right there next to the free knife fight.  Then, there’s the burger.  The burger is so messy, napkins aren’t adequate.  More like you need a beach towel, and perhaps a shower.

Keller’s Drive-In reminds us all of what we once used to be and what can still be, given the will of taste over convenience, the popular demands of quality over quantity, and the indubitable love of great food over mass production.

This is badass greatness on a poppyseed bun slathered in a special sauce.  Blow your dick off perfection with a heart attack in your hand all washed down with a cold brew.

Keller’s Drive-In is absolute magnificence.

 

Read More

North Korea Has Nukes: Let’s All Quit Panicking and Deal With It

Posted by on Sep 5, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 5 comments

 

 

THE RISK OF NUCLEAR ANNIHILATION IN THREE ACTS

ACT I:

So, everyone’s freaking out about North Korea having nuclear weapons.  I get that.

North Korea = bad.

Nuclear weapons = bad.

North Korea + nuclear weapons = worse.

North Korea + nuclear weapons + an intercontinental ballistic missile system + a hydrogen bomb = time to panic.

Let me be clear.  I wish there were no nuclear weapons.  I wish there were no international conflicts.  But, there are nuclear weapons and there are international conflicts.  That’s been the case since the United States became the first — and so far only — nation in the history of humanity to drop a nuclear weapon on a civilian population.  Not once, but twice.

_____

ACT II:

Students of world history everywhere foresaw these crossroads of conflict intersecting quite a long time ago and there was little, if anything, anyone could do to stop the inevitable pile up of geopolitical interests.  The wheels of what’s become a perpetual nuclear standoff were set into motion from the instant gunpowder was invented.  Call it — destiny.  So-called “advances in technology” created musket balls, then bullets after that — then bombs, then chemical bombs, then battleships, then bombs on battleships, then rockets, then bombs on rockets, then ballistic missiles, then nukes, then nukes on everything from rockets to airplanes to submarines.  Next up — baby strollers armed with nukes (don’t laugh — terrorists somewhere are probably working on this now).  And, we aren’t even finished with all the “advancing” yet — assuming the whole damned planet doesn’t blow itself up in a giant mushroom cloud of mass extinction.

Yes, a nuclearized North Korea is precisely what happens when absconding recklessly into the mad laboratory of political miscalculation.  Add one-part American global policeman certain to ignite flash points and a pervasive attitude of resentment (800 American military bases in 70 countries), a bitter Korean War still going on seven decades after the last battle was fought, combined with inevitable advances in military technology increasingly accessible to an ultra-paranoid totalitarian state willing to sacrifice every shred of human comfort within its borders for its own despotic survival — and that singular obsession was bound to spawn a successful nuclear weapons program at some point.

Well, that point is now.  As horrific daily life is for the average North Korean, millions likely starving and brainwashed, the only way Kim Jong-un holds onto his power for several decades (remember — “Dear Leader” is relatively infantile age 35) is to prop up the barricades with fiery weapons that no adversary will dare ever want to face.  That means building nukes and demonstrating the willingness to use such deadly instruments if ever seriously threatened by attack.

Hence, Kim Jong-un is behaving exactly as he should, that is, within his twisted distortion of what his nation-state should forever be — a one-man dictatorship.  He would be utterly foolish to scale back any nuclear ambitions now after coming so far, given those advances shall provide his regime not only membership in the coveted country club of players holding a nuclear super driver, but a negotiator that has to be respected if for no other reason than the man with the funny haircut has powers to wipe out his neighbors with one phone call.  It’s reminiscent of the local street thug who yanks a businessman off the street into a back alley and sticks a Glock pistol up to the temple and then blurts out — “So, do you respect me, now?”

Faced with annihilation by giving the wrong answer, what are we to say?

Unfortunately, we can’t take out this street thug, not without pronouncing an instant death sentence upon millions of innocent South Koreans, Japanese, and perhaps Americans who are also within range of the regime’s conventional weapons and nuclear scope.  If we had such powers to secretly rid the world of this menace, extrication by force would have happened quite some time ago.  Recall our nation tried to murder Cuba’s Fidel Casto multiple times and failed miserably.  By comparison, there’s little chance of penetrating an even more formidable line of defense within the psychotic state of North Korea.  Besides, there’s no guarantee that killing Kim Jong-un would even solve the bigger problem of nukes.  His successor might perceive the assassination of the national leader who’s worshiped as a god to be immediate grounds for launching a catastrophic end-all war.  So, let’s dispel the crazy talk of killing North Korea’s leader, at least for now.  That’s probably riskier than launching a military attack.

So, what should we do instead about this “threat?”

How about this:  Nothing.

That’s right.  Do nothing, except play it cool.

Of course, I don’t mean nothing in the sense of abandoning diplomacy.  I don’t mean nothing as in letting down our guard.  A wiser alternative — America’s defensive nuclear capabilities should be strengthened not just because of the looming North Korean threat but also the inevitable acquisition of nuclear capabilities by other rogue nations and perhaps even maniacal terror groups.  A sobering reality is the day will come when wackos somewhere will get nuclear weapons and we damn well better plan for that day.  Perhaps shutting down a few of the 800 military bases spread out in 70 countries could be a solid down payment on strengthening America’s national defense because right now it looks a helluva’ lot more like a national offense.

Quoting rogue journalist Caitlin Johnstone:

“It’s just mind-boggling how they keep selling the same plotline over and over and over again.  A mentally deranged dictator is threatening American safety and abusing his own citizens, and we need to take him out right now before he does any more harm!  People buy into it again and again, like a bunch of kids watching Scooby Doo thinking “This monster’s real for sure this time!”  Then it turns out the ghost was just the creepy old rich guy from scene three and the next episode they’re acting like it never happened.”

_____

ACT III:

The United States has faced identical threats before.  A few times, in fact.  So what, if anything, did we learn from our own history?  Listening both to breaking news and the knee-jerk ramblings our current leaders — apparently nothing whatsoever.

In 1949, the U.S.S.R. successfully tested its first nuclear weapon.  At the time, that closed-off nation was ruled by a cruel despot named Joseph Stalin who had previously murdered millions of his own people in a reign of terror known as The Great Purge.  Many people thought he was crazy.  Across the ocean, when news reached our shores that Stalin had “the bomb,” Americans panicked.  Congress launched investigations.  Sedetionists were imprisoned and executed.  The “Red Scare” led to a terrible scourge known as McCarthyism.

Some 15 years later, Red China successfully tested its first nuclear weapon.  At the time, that isolated nation was ruled by a cruel despot named Mao Tse-Tung who had murdered millions of his own people in a reign of terror.  Many people thought he was crazy, too.  Across the ocean, when news reached our shores that the People’s Republic of China had “the bomb,” Americans panicked.  Over the next ten years, Mao launched the Cultural Revolution, one of the most frightening periods of the 20th Century — all while he had nukes in his pocket

Today, another presumed madman has nukes.  Yet, as harsh as his rule has been for North Koreans, based on all the evidence there’s nothing to suggest that nation has any plans to launch an invasion of its neighbors.  More precisely to the question — who exactly is North Korea going to attack?  Only three possibilities exist:  [1] China — a nuclear superpower and its primary trading partner?  [2] Russia — with nuclear capabilities and nothing really of value within North Korea’s reach?  [3] South Korea — bolstered by a whopping 3.7 million troops (one of the largest armies in the world), plus a dominant presence by American forces backed with nuclear weapons?

What exactly is the threat here beyond the obvious risk of some kind of accident?

Does anyone seriously believe the North Korean leader is suicidal?  I don’t think so.  There’s no evidence of this.

Stalin and Mao — two icons who essentially comprise the ideological Mt. Rushmore of North Korea — weren’t suicidal.  Yes, they were cold.  They were cruel.  They were calculating.  They were also survivors, in part due to their imposition of domestic terror and threats to foreign outsiders.  They never came close to using nuclear weapons.  The same can probably be said of Kim Jong-un.

Of course, President Donald Trump lacks the willingness to try and understand the complexity of this crisis.  He possesses no knowledge of history.  For this and other reasons which are painfully obvious, he could not have handled recent developments in Asia any worse — except for launching a reckless first-strike himself, which he’s actually threatened to do in more than one tweet-crazed instance.  Trump’s dangerous rhetoric has accomplished nothing of value, othering than pushing North Korea into a dangerous corner.  Instead of “backing down,” as he falsely claimed the regime would do, North Korea is going full-steam ahead with their nuclear program.  They’ve even accelerated their testing.  Given Trump’s threats and demeanor at this point boosted by scandal and an imploding administration, North Korea would be crazy not to refine their nuclear capabilities.

Far worse than nukes parked permanently inside North Korea is America’s declining credibility in the world, not only to our enemies, but among friends.  Since North Korea called down President Trump’s tempestuous bluff, the United States now has few cards left to play.  We threaten to unleash “fire and fury” one day.  Then, this past weekend, the president admonishes our most essential ally in this conflict, South Korea, for engaging in diplomatic talks.  Simultaneously, we threaten to suspend all economic ties with China, the world’s second-largest economy and probably the best leverage we have in trying to negotiate with the North Koreans. Given all the double-talk and messy clean-up afterward by his increasingly frustrated subordinates, to describe President Trump’s doctrine on the Korean crisis as “confusing” would be overly generous.  It’s more like — incomprehensible.  It’s the crayon drawing of a 3-year-old.

Here’s a more reasonable alternative.  Stop panicking about North Korea having nuclear weapons.  This day was destined to come.  It’s happened before with eerily similar brutal hard-line regimes, and yet somehow we’re all still here.  And, it will likely happen again in another part of the world in the near future, what with “advances” in technology and all combined with a thriving pipeline of weaponry supplied by unconscionable death merchants seeking profits.

Alas, the only widespread panic that’s entirely justified remains the presence of a stooge occupying the White House right now who’s at the helm of this nation’s great military power, an incoherent hot-tempered narcissist prone to illogical impulse at any time of night or day, an entertainer-in-chief hopelessly lacking any of the critical skills of his cooler and more clever predecessors — from Harry Truman to Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan.  Even on their very worst days, no one ever thought any previous president might be crazy enough to send the missiles flying.

Indeed — perhaps, it’s time to panic after all, but for entirely different reasons.

 

Read More

True Heroism

Posted by on Aug 29, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Personal, Uncategorized | 1 comment

 

 

Today, I woke up in a cozy bed.  I drank a fresh cup of coffee.  I took a hot shower.  Then, I turned on the television set and devoured a hearty breakfast.

Right then and there, as the ghastly images of an unprecedented natural catastrophe in Houston flashed before my eyes, it occurred to me that several million people living in Texas and Louisiana weren’t able to enjoy the simplest of pleasures most of us take for granted.

Deep down, I do think most people are good people.  I believe most people want to help others when they can.  Despite our differences, I’m convinced that most people want to help their neighbors and fellow citizens in times of crisis — even those they do not know.  And, I’m just as certain that most people don’t care about the color of someone else’s skin, or how he or she votes in an election, or what lifestyle is chosen — good people will usually do the right thing when acts of human compassion are needed the most.

The relief effort now underway in Houston shows the better side of all of us.  Yes, we are petty.  Yes, we are spiteful.  Yes, we are flawed.  Yes, we make mistakes.  But we also care.  We want to reach out and help people in their time of need.  Many have already done so.

Yet, some people do go the extra mile.  Some people make the added sacrifice.  Some people risk their own lives to try and save others.  These are the true heroes.

In the past few days, I’ve seen and read amazing stories of some remarkable people.  They have opened up their homes to total strangers.  They have driven hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles, towing ramshackle boats to rescue those who are stranded in their flooded homes, who are waiting for a hero to arrive.  They have donated money, and food, and emergency supplies.  They have taken in pets and moved them into foster homes.  They have worked tirelessly around the clock — all while I slept, while I drank a fresh cup of coffee, while I took a hot shower, while I watched television, while I devoured a hearty breakfast.

A Houston police officer even gave his life.  His name was Steve Perez.  Wait a minute….his name *IS* Steve Perez.  Say that name.  Say it aloud.  He deserves to be known and remembered, not as a “was” but an “is.”  Steve Perez is a hero.

I’ve written before that I’m far more impressed by casual acts of kindness and random good deeds than the supposed marvels and talents of those who are rich and famous.  We sure have a peculiar way of defining our “heroes,” all too often associating personal valor with the talent to throw a ball or look beautiful in a movie.  Too frequently we misconstrue heroism with money, fame, and power.  Willfully accepting these shiny objects of superfluous celebrity stands as the very antithesis of being heroic, since doing so calls attention to oneself instead of one’s character and deeds, and letting genuine acts of human compassion speak for themselves.

Alas, the true heroes among us are not famous.  More often than not, true heroism is anonymous.  Heroes work in nursing homes, often for appallingly low pay and for little recognition.  They serve as caretakers, sometimes without the reciprocity of simple gratitude.  They willingly volunteer to help the less fortunate.  They fight to defend wildlife and protect the environment.  They commit their lives to justice.  They go out on nightly patrol, trying to keep our streets and neighborhoods safe.  I will admit, these heroes are much stronger than me.  They perform admirable deeds that in some cases I do not think I could do.  I think that’s what makes them heroes.

Right now, Houston has a serious problem.  It’s a problem of unfathomable size and scope.  Dealing with these problems will not be easy.  But solving the very worst of Houston’s immediate problems will be an absolute given, a certainty, all thanks to the many heroes out there working and volunteering as I type and you read, heroes with names we do not know.

 

Read More

10 Ways to Tell a Sports Handicapping Service is Dishonest

Posted by on Aug 28, 2017 in Blog, Essays, General Poker | 5 comments

 

 

When you see ads featuring douchebags driving fancy cars fanning wads of cash surrounded by sexy girls — run in the opposite direction.  They’re all crooks.  Every one of them.  Here’s the truth:  Real sports handicappers don’t call attention to themselves.  Real sports handicappers don’t toss around $100 bills like confetti.  Real sports handicappers don’t hang out in Las Vegas nightclubs.  Real sports handicappers work their asses off — because that’s what it takes to win.

 

It’s that time of year again.

The start of football season means two things.  First, sports gambling ramps up big-time.  Second, an infestation of predators will be hunting for fresh prey.  These predators are known as “sports handicapping services.”

Fortunately for us, dishonest sports handicapping services are easy to spot.  In fact, they make it way too easy.

Here’s some advice that’s never once failed me in my 20-plus years on the sports gambling scene and more than a decade living here in Las Vegas.  That advice is as follows:  When somebody looks and acts like a scumbag, he’s usually a scumbag.

Want to know more of the warning signs?  Okay, let’s do this.  I’ve compiled a list of things to watch out for.  Here are 10 ways to tell a sports handicapping service (also known as “touts” or “sports advisors”) is probably dishonest:

 

[1] When the Handicapper(s) uses a Pseudonym

Any successful sports handicapper should be willing to use his real name in all of his business dealings.  This is especially true when your hard-earned money is involved.  Sure, some handicappers may employ a catchy nickname for marketing purposes, and that’s okay.  But each of us has a legal first and last name.  Anyone who’s honest about what they do for a living should be willing to be known publically.  I’ve discussed this sticky point with some full-time touts who insist they use pseudonyms for legal reasons and/or to maintain privacy.  I call bullshit.  If you can’t take pride in what you do for a living, or you’re uncomfortable with your customers knowing your identity, then you shouldn’t be in the business.  Here’s a question:  Would you take financial advice from someone who doesn’t use his (or her) real identity and instead relies on a fake name?  Of course not.  This should also apply to anyone you trust to provide sports picks.

 

[2] Handicappers Using Phoney Academic Credentials

Over the years I’ve noticed many scumbag handicappers use “Doctor” or “Professor” in their titles.  This would be perfectly fine if they actually had academic credentials — particularly in fields such as statistics, psychology, or some other discipline related to sports gambling.  Fact is, these “doctors” and “professors” are frauds.  They’re liars.  Years ago, a scam-capper who went by the name “Dr.” Ed Horowitz was exposed as a cocaine addict and was found to be a convicted felon.  More recently, “Dr. Bob,” a college dropout who lit up the sports betting scene about a decade ago when he went on a (perhaps random) hot streak which caught the attention of mainstream media, has no doctorate in anything.  He’s still around.  Be careful about who you trust.  Academic titles shouldn’t be slung around loosely with the intent to establish a false credibility so as to fool people.  Academic credentials should be rightfully earned.  No sports advisory service to my knowledge has any doctors of professors working as full-time handicappers.  Perhaps they do exist and if so, they could post a copy of the doctorate at the website.

 

[3] Living a High-Roller Lifestyle

There are legitimate handicappers and honest sports services making a living researching games and then giving out the plays, and perhaps even betting on those picks themselves.  Every single one of them puts in massive numbers of hours.  This is especially true for bona fide sports services that really do care about their clients, which are few and far between.  If you see advertisements (or worse, “reality television” shows or videos) with douchebags posing with fancy cars surrounded by pretty girls, or fanning huge wads of cash — run in the opposite direction.  They’re all crooks.  Shit stains.  Scum.  Every one of them.  Here’s the truth:  Real sports handicappers don’t call attention to themselves.  Real sports handicappers don’t toss around $100 bills like confetti, nor hang out in Las Vegas nightclubs.  Real sports handicappers work their asses off because that’s what it takes to win in this business.

 

[4] Touting Only Recent Win-Loss Results

This is a red flag that screams — scam!  We see this frequently, especially on print ads and all over social media, including Twitter and Facebook.  “We went 8-2 our last 10 plays!  Sign up now!”  So, the service claims that they went 8-2.  So what?  I can flip a coin and it might come up 8 heads and 2 tails (there’s a 3 percent chance of this happening if you flip a coin ten times right now).  But why is the service bragging about only the last ten picks?  What happened the previous 20 picks?  Or previous 50 picks?  You can be absolutely certain — if the service had enjoyed a longer winning streak, they’d be bragging about it.  Fact is, the service might have gone 2-8 the prior week and ended up with a 10-10 overall record.  Minus the usual 10 percent vig plus the service’s subscription fee, congratulations — you’re well on your way to going broke.  All that matters in sports handicapping in the long term.  One day, one week, or even one month is almost meaningless.  Unless a service can provide a legitimate W-L record over a lengthy period (at least a year, and preferably several years), they should be avoided no matter what claims they make.  [One more thought:  A trustworthy service shouldn’t have to constantly brag about themselves — winners become self-evident]

 

[5] Failure to Post Comprehensive Win-Loss Record

This is closely related to the previous red flag.  All handicappers should publically post their comprehensive W-L results.  This is easy for a website to do.  All plays should be archived so that customers and potential new clients can see for themselves how the handicapper has performed.  That said, be careful because many sports services have been caught “scrubbing” their dirty records.   These unscrupulous services appear to maintain an updated listing of all recommended wagers, but they go back later — a few weeks or months afterward — when no one remembers the losing picks.  Then, they scrub away the losses.  Removing ten losses from 100 picks can make a 50-50 coin-flipping handicapper look like a genius since the falsified record would be hitting 56 percent winners.  One very strong indicator to know if a sports service is honest or not is to look carefully for losing streaks and losing seasons.  Oddly enough, this is a somewhat reliable indicator of integrity.  If a sports service has a few losing seasons, but also more winning seasons on their record, that might be worth consideration (provided they don’t have other red flags).  In short, be more inclined to trust a handicapper and/or sports service that admits to bad streaks and losing seasons.

 

[6] Different Levels of Service or Clubs — Based on Price

This is a dirty trick used by most dishonest sports services.  They offer different levels of service for their clients based on the price.  Often, you see “VIP” clubs and other elite offers which presumably provide a higher level of service (which implies better sports picks — but is junk just like the rest of their stuff ).  If I’m relying on someone else’s judgment, I want his best stuff at all times.  This would especially be true if I’m paying for information.  While the time period of a subscription is indeed a legitimate way to categorize clients (giving discounts to those who purchase a full season, rather than one month, for instance), no sports gambler should ever be receiving second-rate plays.  Any service with segregated membership clubs is a scam.  Without exception.  Here’s the reason — it’s playing the odds.  The more clubs a service offers, the better chance one of those clubs will get hot and produce a winning record.  That way, the service can market its best-performing club to future suckers (and ignore the inevitable losing records).

 

[7] Beware of Hype

Here in Las Vegas, several daily and weekly radio shows feature sports handicappers as regular guests.  These “experts” break down games and provide their picks.  While many are worthless so far as value, just about all of them do provide accurate information.  Most public handicappers who appear in major media work very hard to provide analysis, injury updates, and other data which can help the listener to make a solid pick.  Even those who don’t win in the long run can provide valuable insight on a game we may not know otherwise.  Hence, I do respect these handicappers who are willing to share their opinions.  That said, gamblers should avoid the braggarts and screamers.  Beware of so-called “experts” who spend lots of time touring their records and marketing next week’s picks.  YouTube.com is filled with these videos of self-promoting scammers who spend most of the program telling the world how great they are.  Stay away from them, unless you’re looking for a laugh.  Note:  One example of an excellent resource for gamblers is the daily video analysis released by Teddy Sevransky and Pauly Howard HERE.

 

[8] Any Sports Service Promoting a “Game of the …..” is a Fraud

No sporting event is so lopsided that it merits being promoted as a “Game of the Year.”  Yet, we see this garbage advertised all the time.  This is marketing targeted directly at saps and suckers.  Gambling is a long-term endeavor.  Gambling is about percentages.  No game is a lock.  Ever.  The most egregious violation of this “Game of the….(whatever)” is often witnessed early in the football season.  Dishonest sports handicapping services advertise their “Game of the Year,” sometimes even in early September!  How does a service know there won’t be a superior wagering opportunity later in the season, in October, November, or December?  There’s a reason for this and it’s a sure sign of dishonesty:  Scammers know most gamblers still have money early in the football season that will inevitably be lost from week-to-week.  So, they hype early season games to try and take advantage ignorance and desperation.  You will also see the hucksters promote multiple “Games of the Year.”  If you see anything like “Game of the Century” advertised (yes, this is quite common), that service is a scam 100 percent of the time.  These aren’t reliable handicappers.  They are clowns.

 

[9]  Touting Parlays

Parlays are bottom-of-the-barrel traps for chumps and suckers who lose consistently and are desperate to crawl out of the financial hole.  Some sports handicapping services are so vile, they prey on these most vulnerable who believe in the fairy tale of parlays — gamblers who hopelessly need a longshot winner to get back to even.  Hey — it’s tough enough to pick more winners than losers over the long run, let alone make two or more picks on a single betting ticket.  Yet, we often see “side and total” parlays advertised for the biggest games, especially the golden goose of fleecing for the sports handicapping industry, which is Monday Night Football.  Some services even promote 3- and 4-team parlays.  This is insane.  It should be a crime.  I’ve made perhaps 100,000 sports wagers in my life, and I can count on one hand the total number of parlays I’ve bet (they were all weather correlated — like when a hurricane slammed into Florida a few years ago and I bet several games in the region to go under due to rain and high winds).  Parlays are for losers.

 

[10] Beware of Concentration on Sides / Beware of Concentration on High-Profile Games like Monday Night Football

Betting sides (and nothing else) is at best a break-even proposition for 95 percent of all gamblers.  The lines for NFL and most college football games are rock solid.  Oddsmakers don’t make mistakes (or, if they happen — they’re very rare).  Value comes when we have reliable information that’s not widely known nor factored into the line (yet), which is far more common on propositions — such as the number of yards rushing a running back will gain.  There’s also still some value in second-half (halftime) wagering.  In short, the more exotic the wager (betting obscure players, quarters, etc.) the better the chances the number might be off since it’s impossible to calibrate every proposition of every game with complete accuracy.  Incredibly, very few sports handicapping services give out propositions, quarters, first-halves, and so forth.  They focus on numbers that are virtually unbeatable — sides and totals.  There’s a reason for this:  Most sports bettors want to bet on something they understand and can easily follow.  Very few gamblers take the time to consider a rash of cluster injuries along a team’s offensive line which might lead to allowing more sacks.  In such situations, betting OVER the sack total would be a far wiser wager than betting the side.  Again, very few services concentrate on these opportunities.  Similarly, sports services that always give out picks on the most popular games aren’t doing their customers any favors.  Betting values are much more likely to be found on an Arkansas State-Louisiana Lafayette game that almost no one cares about instead of the New England-Green Bay game.  Seriously — do you think a handicapping service knows anything special about a game likely to be watched by 50 million viewers?

 

My conclusions are as follows:  Avoid sports handicapping services.  You can probably pick just as many winners (and losers) as the typical “professional.”  Moreover, if you add in the cost of the service — which can be hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars — making a steady profit is even less likely.

A final word:  I have many friends in the sports handicapping business.  I know many of the biggest names known to most serious sports gamblers.  Some of them are honest.  Many are hard-working.  Most have experienced temporary flashes of profitability which launched their careers as public handicappers and provided some measure of client confidence.  But remember — all glory is fleeting.  Caveat emptor.

 

Disclaimer:  I have publically posted my football picks for more than 20 years.  I have posted more winning seasons than losing seasons.  Over the past five NFL seasons, my pre-game recommendations have been posted on this website.  In more than 1,000 plays, I have a produced a very small profit — but a profit nonetheless.  I have never once sold my picks, nor recommended any sports handicapping service.

 

Read More

Writers on the Storm

Posted by on Aug 26, 2017 in Blog, Essays | 6 comments

 

 

TEXAS HURRICANE IS A FALSE FLAG!

Don’t be fooled by the fake news of a “hurricane.”

There’s no “hurricane.”  It’s a false flag.  

It’s a false flag created by evil Leftist-globalist financier George Soros and his corrupt cronies at CNN to boost ratings.  They want to distract America from President Trump’s fight to #MAGA.

Someone with a Russian-sounding name told me they saw ads were posted on Craigs List. They’re paying $25 an hour for “extras” to stand next to giant wind turbines and get their hair messed up. I heard organizers are spraying the extras with garden hoses, so it looks like they’re standing in the middle of a hurricane. They’re “performance actors,” just like the Leftists who were hired a few weeks in Charlottesville to stir up shit. It’s probably a racket, paid for by Soros.  Someone needs to look into this.

You can’t trust the film footage you see, either.  Notice they always show the same flimsy palm trees blowing?  Palm trees are everywhere — especially in Florida.  Those look a lot like Florida palm trees to me.  Not Texas palm trees.  Florida palm trees.  I’ve got people down in Florida doing an investigation into the origin of those palm trees right now, and you won’t believe that they’re finding.  My theory is — that’s probably stock footage from some other old storm, most likely in Florida.  That’s what I heard.  I’m just saying.  Someone needs to look into this.

I’m also hearing the scenes of that flimsy piece of sheet metal blowing off the empty shed in high winds is fake.  You know the footage I’m talking about.  CNN shows some shackle of a metal shed out in the middle of nowhere, and all the sudden the sheet metal blows off the roof.  Wow!  That really looked real.  Someone needs to look into this.

Listen up.  There’s no way this hurricane is real.  It’s fake.  Fake news.  Seriously, do you think the President would pardon a convicted racist on a Friday evening and then spend the entire weekend on vacation (AGAIN!) if he *really* believed there was a hurricane slamming into a state that he won the in 2016 election?

Hell or high water — NO!!!

Someone really needs to look into this.

Mr. President — you are in my thoughts and prayers.

 

Read More

My Review of the New Westgate Poker Room

Posted by on Aug 25, 2017 in Blog, Essays, General Poker | 0 comments

 

 
When I first heard the Westgate was re-opening their poker room, my initial reaction was — what the hell are they thinking?
 
Poker’s popularity has been flat for quite a while, especially here in Las Vegas where the overall table count has declined and some once-popular rooms have closed their operations entirely.
 
Westgate has boldly decided they’re going to defy all this pessimism and strike out on their own. Poker rooms might be closing down elsewhere, but Westgate is determined to blaze its own trail and become a success, some might say, against the odds.
 
Westgate, which was known for many years as the Las Vegas Hilton (and The International, before that) has experienced a rocky road with poker. The Hilton ran a thriving room back during the 1980’s and even held some big-time poker tournaments. When poker declined in popularity during the 1990’s, the room faded and closed. It remained shuttered for more than a decade.
 
The poker room experienced a short-lived return during the poker boom of 2004-2008, but was still never able to create a much-needed niche in what was then a thriving local poker scene. It closed down again, sometime around 2010.
 
About three years ago, Westgate (the new owners) made a feeble attempt to offer poker once again — but failed. To those familiar with the Las Vegas poker scene, the Westgate had become a dead space. The old alcove that housed the poker room sat dark and empty. It was all but forgotten.
 
Then, completely out of nowhere, Westgate announced a few months ago they were renovating the old poker room, nestled conveniently next to the gargantuan Superbook (race and sportsbook). The Westgate offers one of the biggest and most respected sports gambling operations in the world, so positioning the poker room right next to all the giant screens and a new bar that spans the entire casino floor seems like they’re taking advantage of logistics and timing where the Westgate could be on the verge of a renaissance. This sparks reason for optimism. In short, the poker room is located in a perfect spot — certain to attract casual players hanging out near the bar and sportsbook. That’s essential to gain foot traffic (new business).
 
I made my first visit to the Westgate poker room late on a Thursday night, arriving around 9 pm. The sportsbook was relatively quiet this evening (the sportsbook is usually lively, especially when multiple sports are happening). There was just one poker game — $1-2 No-Limit. This night was expected to be slow (mid-week, just prior to a big fight weekend — so even having one full game was a positive). The max buy-in is $200 — probably a good decision since building a client base with require a fresh crop of novice players (customarily, the max is $300 and higher in some places).
 
The room made a very positive first impression. I approached the front desk and was greeted immediately by the manager, who I would later identify as David Fried. David was very much hands-on and gave me the full layout of the room (he was initially unaware that I’d worked in the industry, and only recognized me later — so the time he took with me would presumably be given to anyone). This made a big impact on me. I really appreciate people who spend time with customers and try and build a clientele, and David impressed me as someone trying to cultivate new clients for the room. Bravo.
 
[Side Note: David, who’s name I recognized from Facebook, has also made several announcements on social media about the new room, including promoting $1-1 Pot-Limit Omaha. I really like a room that tries to build other games. Kudos]
 
The room has about 8 tables (I think), just about the right size since they also offer tournaments. The room is bright (slightly too bright in my opinion, but that’s a matter of taste). For those who like to watch sports while playing poker, this might be the best poker room in the city since there are giant screens located right inside the room, as well as all the excitement just steps away in the sportsbook. This is a wise strategy, to combine the experiences of poker and spectator sports — which is likely to help the Westgate build a player base.
 
Cocktail service was stellar, almost in-your-face. Many poker rooms are considered the stepchild of F/B service, but I saw a cocktail waitress come by about every ten minutes. That’s another big plus. Next time, I have to find out if they freepour Johnny Walker Black (not the Red, which is standard elsewhere).
 
Although my sample size was small (one visit), it appears that Westgate attracts mostly out-of-towners. Based on the table conversation, 7/9 players were with conventions and were staying on property or nearby. This is another positive — who wants to play with grinding rocks with no personality? Indeed, this game was lively, with plenty of conversation. Everyone was drinking a beer.
 
Just a few hands into my poker session, I was dealt pocket aces. I moved all-in, and lost. Boom. There went one buy-in down the shitter. To my surprise, I learned there’s an “aces cracked” promotion. Any player that moves all-in and loses with pocket aces gets $50. This was kinda like getting kicked in the groin and then receiving a kiss. But hey, I’ll take fifty bucks whenever I can get it. Comforting salve applied to the bad beat.
 
One other attribute of the Westgate is the close proximity to parking. The prime parking spot is on the back lot, which is used by sportsbook patrons. I’ve made hundreds of in-and-out visits from this lot to the counters in the book. So, this makes the poker room no more than a one-minute walk from parking. Contrast this convenience with the madhouses of Strip properties and PAID parking, and this is another big plus for Westgate.
 
I give Westgate poker high marks. Building a loyal clientele will surely take some work. There are certain to be down times. However, given casino management’s willingness to go against the tide of perception as to poker’s future in Las Vegas, I have to admire the effort.
 
Congratulations to Westgate’s new poker room and their staff. I wish them much success.
 
Note: I forgot to snap a photo, so I took this one from CardsChat.com
Read More

My Thoughts on “Southern Heritage”

Posted by on Aug 15, 2017 in Blog, Essays | 2 comments

 

 

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

If you believe a “heritage” that committed traitorous acts against the United States of America costing 620,000 innocent lives during a hellish military struggle that was fought solely to preserve a perverted economic system based solely on keeping people in chains is worth honoring and defending — there’s not just something wrong with your heritage….

There’s something wrong with YOU.

 

Read More
css.php