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Posted by on Dec 28, 2012 in Blog, Las Vegas, Sports Betting | 1 comment

The Worst Bad Beat in College Football History?

 

Sports Betting

 

The onslaught of a”bad beat” in sports betting has a unique sound and feel all its own.  Think of an approaching freight train.  Recall the suspense of a slasher movie.  Imagine the instant right before an explosion.

I’ve heard this sound of terror many times.

Last night, Marieta and I sat down to a cozy post-holiday dinner at The Orleans.  There’s a weeknight steak and lobster special for $7.11 going on at the cafe all this month.  For those unfamiliar the layout inside The Orleans, the cafe is located on the casino floor, right next to the race and sportsbook.  The place was packed.

I had the perfect plan.  Enjoy dinner.  Then, go cash my winning sports ticket.  A hearty meal always tastes better with a winner tucked inside your pocket.  Indeed, I had about as conceivable a “lock” as there was.  I was so confident, that I considered ordering two steak and lobster specials.  Why not?  $7.11 twice was $14.22 — good for two steaks and two lobsters.

Then, I heard the rumblings of that horrible sound.  It was the freight train, the horror scene, and the final ticks before an imminent explosion.

Truly one of those “Oh my God,” moments.

But wait.  How did this moment of paralysis come to be?  Why would hundreds of sports betters, as well as thousands of gamblers out on the massive casino floor suddenly be making such an odd collective sound?  They couldn’t possibly be watching the same game I had bet on, could they?  After all, my bet was a “lock.”  It couldn’t possible lose.

Right?

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Posted by on Dec 26, 2012 in Blog, Movie Reviews | 3 comments

Movie Review — Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D

 

Cirque du Soleil Movie Review

 

About a half hour into Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D my wife leaned over to me and blurted out, “Are you as bored with this as I am?”

Frankly, I wasn’t.  By that point, my boredom had turned into annoyance.

Things went downhill from there.

Another scene or two passed and our mutual annoyance metastasized even further — into unconditional surrender.  We had enough.  But the cinematic Rubicon was passed.

In the final scenes towards the end of an overly-long 85-minute test of patience, I found myself talking back at the movie screen mocking the performers, oblivious to those within earshot around me.  I didn’t mean to cause a disturbance, but no one else seemed to care.  Needless to say, we departed the theater in a fit of rage and disappointment.

This movie should never have been made.  It’s a testament to the old edict that if you’re going to do something, then do it right — or don’t attempt it at all.

How in the name of James Cameron — who produced this monumental mess (this one sinks faster than Titanic) — do you screw up something as spectacular as Cirque du Soleil?  Who would have thought trivializing death-defying stunts was possible?  It’s baffling to imagine a production blessed with many of the world’s most gifted performers, with such an impressive array of set designs and costumes, and some of the most innovative music ever recorded could induce a mass slumber.

How bad was it?  For those who have visited the Las Vegas airport, recall the jumbo screen inside the baggage claim area.  Think of the 45-second video clips from one show after another.  Imagine that highlight reel repeated over and over and over again and then compiled into an full-length motion picture.  Indeed, the comparison of waiting for bags at an airport might be appropriate here, except there’s actual suspense in waiting for one’s luggage.  There’s no such drama in this montage of monotony.

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Posted by on Dec 8, 2012 in Blog, Las Vegas, Rants and Raves | 7 comments

The Christmas Decoration War

 

 

Christmas means war.

Let me explain why.

We’ve lived in “The Lakes” section of West Las Vegas for about ten years, now.  When we first moved onto this street, it was a quiet neighborhood made up mostly of retired people.  Now, younger families with kids have flooded into the area.  Our street also has many different nationalities — including Canadians, Palestinians, Chinese, Russians, Mexicans, Egyptians, Persians, and Romanians.  We even have a few Mormons.  They’re from some weird place called Utah.

During those earlier years, a few of our neighbors put up decorations over the holidays.  Usually, the lights and decorations were modest.  A few strands of lights here and there.  A lit up Christmas tree.  Maybe a Santa Claus or a manger scene.

Moreover, decorating usually began during the first week in December.  Thanksgiving was regarded as separate holiday.  Imagine that.  No one dared to put up lights at least until November had ended.

But something happened.

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Posted by on Dec 3, 2012 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas | 4 comments

What Strength Really Means — A Story of Two Cowboys

 

Personal Note:  In the coming days, I’ll be posting stories of people and incidents that have inspired me.  Hopefully, these special people will inspire you, as well.

 

How would you define strength?

Ponder this question for a moment.

How is strength best defined?  Take a moment and consider the possibilities.

Okay, so perhaps you have an answer.  Now, permit me to have a go at this.  Perhaps by the end of this essay, you may want to re-think your answer and consider alternative ways that strength is revealed in our society.

Here’s my take.

Strength isn’t manifested in achieving superiority, nor by making others inferior.  Strength isn’t exhibited in anger or intimidation.

To the contrary.  Real strength is embodied in personal sacrifice.  It’s going out of one’s way to help a fellow human being.  It’s putting another person’s comfort above your own.  It’s dealing with the bad breaks in life and making the most out of them.  That’s real strength.

I still have a lot to learn.  I have a long way to go.  No doubt, I have inner demons to conquer.  But life has taught me it’s the small things that really matter.  It’s the small things in life that bring joy and nourish optimism.  Small things, like a glass of vintage wine, a meaningful conversation with family or friends, a comfortable resting place beside a warm fireplace, hearing your favorite Christmas carol, or watching a golden sunset.

Each of those things might not seem exceptional.  But they are!  They are indubitably rewarding.  When we look back at our lives, I think most of us remember the simpler things we have done and experienced that brought us the most happiness.

It’s also the small things that often provide us with the most profound lessons.  A seemingly trivial moment in the middle of the day can reveal a great deal about what’s really important.  Our values stem not so much from formal education or access to the most learned academics.  Life’s most meaningful lessons are taught in the classroom of daily life and come directly from one’s own experiences and observations.  Our values are challenged and often reaffirmed by things that happen to us every single day.

 

………………..

 

The National Finals Rodeo is in town this week.  Every December for the past 27 years, thousands of rodeo cowboys and cowgirls come to Las Vegas from all over the country — indeed from all over the world — to watch and participate in the national championship finals rodeo.  Up and down the Vegas Strip, it’s backed up bumper to bumper with pick-up trucks and horse trailers — with license plates from Oklahoma, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Manitoba, Texas, and all points in between.  Cowboy hats are everywhere — whether it’s elegant Venetian or down-home Sam’s Town.  Almost every visitor has shiny new belt buckle and wears a pair of blue jeans or coveralls.  An “invasion” of cowboys would not be too strong a word.

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Posted by on Dec 1, 2012 in Blog, General Poker, Las Vegas, Restaurant Reviews | 1 comment

Restaurant Review: Kelly’s (Las Vegas) / Dinner With Terrence Chan & Co.

 

Photos of Kelly's Restaurant, Long Beach
This photo of Kelly’s Restaurant is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

INTRODUCTION:

It’s rare to get four very busy people who live in different cities together for a festive meal.  Fortunately, that was the occasion last night at a new restaurant located on Paradise Road, in Las Vegas.

I joined good friends Rich Korbin (who works for one of the better-known companies in the poker business — I’ll leave it at that), Glen Cadamartori (Marketing Director for Caesars Entertainment), and Terrence Chan (one of the best Limit Hold’em players in the world and currently a professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter) for drinks and dinner.

We chose a new steakhouse which just opened up about a week ago, called Kelly’s.

The following narrative will be a combination restaurant review and recount of our dinner conversation, which went three all-too-brief hours.

 

ABOUT KELLY’S:

I’m a carnivore.  Morten’s of Chicago, Ruth’s Chris, Del Frisco’s, The Palm, Smith and Wollensky — pick any of these places and you’re guaranteed to enjoy a good meal.

Friday night, we decided to go a different route.  Since both Ruth’s Chris steakhouse locations have now closed in Las Vegas (victims of the economy, no doubt), we noted that a new restaurant had opened up at the old Ruth’s Chris location on Paradise Road.  This is positioned in a busy strip mall, across the street from Del Frisco’s.  In fact, Yoli’s — the excellent Brazilian-style steakhouse — is also located along the same row of businesses.

Kelly’s has only one other location, so their excursion into the highly-competitive Las Vegas restaurant market is a major step for the privately-owned landmark based in Long Beach, CA.

Indeed, “Kelly’s Restaurant” has been an institution in Long Beach for more than 30 years.  It’s very much an old-style “power lunch” kind of place.  However, given its close proximity to the ocean and fresh seafood, there are many other menu options, as well.  One has to wonder if this would be a rubber-stamp of the proven Long Beach venue.  Or, would the new owners decide opt for a different flair near the Las Vegas Strip.

Upon first glance, Kelly’s looks very much like what was the former Ruth’s Chris restaurant.  Perhaps when the new owners moved in, they realized that redecorating costs would be minimal, since the dark-wood, white-table cloth ambiance would perfectly match the atmosphere Kelly’s would be trying to create.

Some holiday decorations around the bar and dining area added to a festive feel.  That cordiality was enhanced by very personal attention from the host (actually series of hosts) which greeted our party warmly as we made our way to the table.

Upon taking a seat — the look, the feel, the atmosphere all are what one would expect at a first-class steakhouse.  Add live music in the bar area provided by a piano-playing crooner performing old standards, and you have all the makings of a great night out on the town.

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