Archive for June, 2018

June 2018 Scrabble tournament: Part 3 of 4

June 30, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 30, 2018

I opened the second day of the Scrabble tournament with the final three legs of our 11-game round-robin, all against North Carolina players whom I’d faced before. First up, in game 9, was N—, whom I’d narrowly defeated in the spring. Playing second, she built up a modest 75-51 lead over the first four turns.

However, she exchanged all seven of her tiles in turn 5, allowing me to form ASSIzED*/TIPI, a 74-point bingo. (Assize, which takes an -S, is not a verb; it’s a noun meaning a court session, an inquest, law or legal edict or judgment.)

N— came right back with OUtDRAW/DO, a 75-point bingo that made the score 150-142 in her favor.

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June 2018 Scrabble tournament: Part 2 of 4

June 29, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 29, 2018

The big rout I’d experienced in game 4 left me feeling tense as I wrapped up my lunch break and sat down to play the fifth game of the tournament. My foe this time out was CC, who’d beaten me in January 2017 in part because I played DESPAIR instead of DIAPERS.

Playing first, I took the lead in turn 3 by converting AGHINY? into HArRYING, a 67-point bingo formed with the aid of an R on the board. (On its own, AGHINY? makes HAYINGS and NYLGHAI, the latter of which is an alternative spelling for nilgai, a large Indian antelope. In retrospect, HAYINGs/ZORIs probably would have been a slightly better play.)

I followed up with a trio of 30-plus-point plays: JOEY/AY 35, FEUD/OF/TE/SU* 31 and MENU/SUM/DE 33. That put me ahead, 205-103, midway through turn 6.

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June 2018 Scrabble tournament: Part 1 of 4

June 28, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 28, 2018

About a month after this year’s pokerpalooza concluded, I participated in a week-long Scrabble tournament. I was seeded third in the 12-person C division, which contained the lowest-ranked group of competitors after divisions A and B.

The event opened with an 11-game round robin, meaning everyone in the division played everyone once. That was to be followed by a five-game “king of the hill” battle. After 16 games staged over two days, the division’s top three players would receive small cash prizes.

My Saturday morning began with an opening game against D.A., whom I’d never faced before. Her rating entering the event was 991, a bit higher than my mark of 965. (My longtime local rival, J—, was the top seed with a rating of 1019.)

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May 2018 pokerpalooza: The rest of the mess

June 26, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 26, 2018

Following my elimination from the National Tournament of Champions Finals, I had a bite to eat before deciding to sit down at a $1-$2 no limit holdem cash table with $95.

I had a slow start, dribbling away chips. I got excited during one hand that I must have played from the blinds with decidedly inferior starting hand — say, seven-five off-suit.

The flop — 3-4-5, I think — gave me a pair of fives and an inside draw to a straight. I bet on it, and the older fellow to my left called. The turn was, I believe, a six, completing my seven-high straight (3-4-5-6-7). I bet even more; my rival called again.

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May 2018 pokerpalooza: Day 5, tournament 8

June 25, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 25, 2018

On the final day of pokerpalooza, my morning tasks included waking up, showering, dressing, breakfasting, brushing my teeth, packing, checking out and driving over to the casino, where I would be participating in what World Tavern Poker calls the National Tournament of Champions Finals. None of this was particularly challenging, especially because I’d done most of my packing the night before. However, there was a wrinkle thrown into my agenda.

Around the time I went downstairs to have breakfast, I received a phone call and voicemail message from an unfamiliar number. When I checked the message, it immediately became clear that I’d have to run an errand before going to the casino.

Remember when I deposited three hundred-dollar bills shortly after winning a tournament the previous afternoon? Well, I’d failed to retrieve my ATM card after completing that transaction. There had been a van behind me in the line to use the drive-up ATM; I remembering catching a glimpse of the logo on the side and thinking that it was a florist’s delivery van or maybe some kind of food truck. Anyway, someone had removed my card from the automated teller and placed it in the night deposit box.

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May 2018 pokerpalooza: Day 4, cash table stint 3

June 21, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 21, 2018

As previously mentioned, I came down from my tournament championship with a few hours of walking, tea-drinking, writing and relaxation in downtown Wilkes-Barre. A little before 10 p.m., after discovering that most of the places where I might have wanted to grab a quick dinner in the city center had closed at 9 or 9:30, I drove back to the casino to play holdem on a $1-$2 no-limit cash table.

I sat down at 10:10 p.m. with $122 in chips. I’ll recount a single hand, my last.

My opponent was a heavyset older man, maybe in his mid-50s, sitting on the far side of the dealer from me. He spent a lot of the (brief) time I was at the table cradling his head in his hands, as if he were extremely fatigued or grievously upset or maybe suffering from a headache. I actually found myself worrying on his behalf whether he was liable to make some kind of desperate wager that would cost him a lot of money.

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Pinball wizard or pinball gizzard? Tourney tales

June 15, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 15, 2018

I now interrupt my extended — nearly finished! — recounting of last month’s poker (mis)adventures (and my political-tweet interludes) to recount this week’s pinball (mis)adventures!

After getting hooked on pinball over the first half of 2017, I participating in a couple of Raleigh-based tournaments each month. However, I cut back on my competitive play earlier this year, since I felt that my skills were stagnating. But my friend K— began running pinball events on the second Wednesday evening of each month at Quarter Horse, an arcade that opened last year in downtown Durham. I wanted to support K—, and the event is about as convenient to my home as can be, so I’ve played in it regularly.

On Wednesday evening this week, I was running a little late and got to Quarter Horse just a few minutes before the competition’s scheduling starting time of 7:30. As we had 16 players, round 1 began with four groups of four players. My quartet was assigned to The X-Files, a 1997 Sega machine based on the hit television show. (The table’s development was apparently tied into the first X-Files movie, which came out in June 1998.)

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Cheeps and Chirps: Singapore summit edition

June 14, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 14, 2018

President Donald’s big summit, Twitter-style:

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May 2018 pokerpalooza: Day 4, tournaments 6 and 7

June 13, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 13, 2018

On Wednesday morning, I began playing in an event called the Patriot Poker Kickoff Tournament. I no longer recall much about this event, except that I did OK at my first table and then had a major flameout after being moved to a different table.

That afternoon, I sat down to participate in the fourth and final grinder tournament — my third go-round at this type of event. The event got under way a little after 3 p.m. with three tables of 10 players each.

Things began quietly before I started getting some cards and hitting some boards. A little past the midway point of the event, the equivalent of about $250 was sitting in front of me. One of the poker room supervisors, who was moving throughout the room and checking the largest stashes at each table, mentioned that I had the chip lead.

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May 2018 pokerpalooza: Day 3, tournament 5

June 11, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 11, 2018

Early registration helped me to secure a seat in Tuesday evening’s grinder tournament. My actual choice of a seat… well, that may have had an interesting ripple effect on subsequent events.

When the poker room supervisor led me to my table, where I was given a choice of two open spots. One was in position nine, two seats to the right of the dealer. The other was in position four. Initially, I headed to seat four, because I think that position affords a better view of the table. (When you’re next to or near the dealer, it can be hard to see the players on the dealer’s opposite side.)

Then I noticed the person in seat three: An older woman, apparently the same person from whom I’d won a big pot in my first cash-table stint the previous evening. Although she seemed to be a pleasant enough individual, I’d gotten the impression that she was the kind of poker player who held grudges. The prospect of spending three hours next to someone who was gunning for me was quite unappealing, especially when there was another open seat.

So I changed course and headed for seat nine. Immediately, I regretted this decision — as mentioned, I don’t like the obstructed views afforded by a spot near the dealer. However, I feared that reversing course twice in the space of perhaps a minute would make me look silly. I resolved to settle in seat nine and make the best of it. After all, isn’t it said that successful people make their own luck?

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Cheeps and Chirps: Trumpian perfectly normal presidency special edition

June 7, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 7, 2018

Presenting some tweets about Donald Trump’s perfectly normal presidency!

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May 2018 pokerpalooza: Day 3, interlude the first

June 6, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 6, 2018

As previously stated, I hoped that the magic from my golden hour at the cash table on Tuesday afternoon would carry over to that evening’s tournament. The format was once again a grinder, which incorporates elements of cash play into a three-hour event.

The run-up to this event was a bit unusual. After visiting my favorite local purveyor of tea, the Crimson Lion Hookah Lounge Cafe around the corner from the Wilkes University campus, I drove back from downtown Wilkes-Barre and parked near the racetrack.

Most of the tournaments at the pokerpalooza are staged in the casino’s ballroom, which for our gathering is stocked with portable poker tables and temporary poker dealers.

(The latter characterization is no exaggeration. Although all of the staff who handle cards at our events have passed a course on how to deal poker, they spend 51 weeks a year running blackjack and other games. Many of these activities don’t involve cards. Nor do they require casino employees to divide pots that have to be chopped because two or more players wind up with the same hand or to split unequal pots that involve at least one all-in with three or more participants. This can lead to no small amount of chaos, depending on how much the dealer bumbles things and how irritated and impatient the players become.)

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May 2018 pokerpalooza: Day 3, cash table stint 2

June 5, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 5, 2018

I wound up playing a light schedule at the pokerpalooza on Tuesday. I chose to skip the 10 a.m. bounty tournament because it rewards play that doesn’t suit my natural style. Also, I hadn’t qualified for the national championship finals, let alone become one of the last top 100 players in the finals, who fought it out for the title that afternoon.

It wasn’t until a little after 5 p.m. that I sat down for that day’s first personal poker exploits. As it turned out, this stint at a $1-$-2 no-limit holdem table would be my golden hour — my most magical run of play at the entire five-day conclave.

Unfortunately, thanks to the passage of time, I don’t recall a lot of specific clashes with other players. Even so, I’ll recount what’s stuck in my mind.

The very first hand I sat down to was ace-queen or ace-jack; moreover, I think they were suited. I made a modest raise. The flop had an ace, I believe, and I ended up battling with the player to my immediate left. I think he hit a pair of kings and was working on a straight that never came. I wound up collecting a modest pot.

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May 2018 pokerpalooza: Day 2, cash table stint 1

June 4, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 4, 2018

After taking a little time to lick my wounds, I attempted to wash away my dismal showing in the tag-team tournament by heading to the casino’s poker room. Once there, I swapped $120 in cash for chips and took a seat at a $1-$2 no-limit holdem cash table.

My only previous experience in a cash game — aside from bombing out of that afternoon’s grinders event — had come at the previous year’s pokerpalooza, which was held at the same casino in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Following a string of unrewarding tournament runs, I’d sat down for about two hours at a cash table late one night and come away some $20 or $40 to the good.

Obviously, I was hoping to make a bit of dough when I joined the table at roughly 20 minutes before 11 p.m. While I succeeded in doing so, I recall just one hand from this evening, and incompletely at that.

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