Single Dad, Sin City

I spend time with this boy every day. Every. Single. Day.

I became a first-time father at the age of 44. I didn’t have a clue what it took to be a parent. The time, the money, the patience, the lack of sleep…all of these things were foreign to me. When you have a child in your 20s you have more energy, more time for future planning, a brighter outlook at the world. In your 40s you are more realistic, but your energy wanes. The time you have to save for his future is shortened. 

My only goal every day is to try to make his life, his childhood better than mine. We should all want our children to be better off than we were. It’s why I work 40 hours per week and spend 40 more hours per week with my son. I also pay all his medical bills, buy the majority of his clothing and pay child support (don’t get me started on that).

Though very smart, this little boy is developing a little more slowly physically and speaking-wise compared to where he should be, but he is making progress. We spend every day working on the alphabet, colors and counting. We read a lot of books and use flashcards.

It’s made me smile proudly today when he said, “dad car” and “three (ba)nanas”. It’s seven months later than his pediatrician and the speech therapists wanted him to say those two-word combinations, but I am going with better late, than never.

He is active. He smiles easily. He laughs a lot. He wrestles with his dog. He is just the right amount of mischievous.

He is growing up in Sin City with a single dad. And we are going to do the best we can.

Beating A New Game

Recently my favorite poker room in the entire world got rid of a game and started a new, smaller game. It couldn’t be more fantastic.

Bellagio, the center of the poker universe since it opened in 1998, has been my go-to poker room since I started coming to Vegas in the late 1990s. Professional poker players — and I saw the likes of Eli Elezra, Cindy Violette and Card Player columnist Roy Cooke there in the past week — refer to Bellagio as “The Office.” In the early days, I enjoyed playing either $8-16 limit or occasionally $15-30 limit, as I was a more experienced limit player than no limit player.

As my tastes moved toward no limit Texas hold’em, I gravitated to smaller rooms where I knew some of the players and dealers. Like many of the no limit players in this city, I also tended to go where there were promotional bonuses for making high hands.

Most of the $8-16 limit and $6-12 limit in this town has gone away in favor of much smaller games ($2-4) or much bigger games (up to $2,000-4,000). Bellagio’s main limit game is probably $20-40, and that game is outside my bankroll. You would probably have to buy into a $20-40 limit game for a minimum of $1,000 to have a chance. A buy-in of $2,000-3,000 is more likely.

Recently, Bellagio ditched their $10-20 limit game. A shift manager told me that the game was not lasting because the players were just sitting in the game while they waited for a $20-40 seat. Instead of the $10-20 game, Bellagio went down to a $9-18 game played with $3 chips. The players in that game weren’t waiting for a seat in a bigger game. That is the game they wanted to play.

I took my first stab at $9-18 last Friday and Saturday. I instantly loved it! The action was good. The pots were big enough that you only needed to win 1-2 pots per hour to be profitable. I turned a small profit both Friday and Saturday while playing a total of 4.5 hours.

That was all a setup for last night.

After some initial struggles in the first hour, I got red hot over the next couple of hours. Flopped sets were rivering into full houses and beating the sucked-out flush. Suited connectors were flopping big draws and getting there. Even small pairs were holding up against people overplaying their A-K.

When it was time to go I was the proud owner of three full racks of chips, and a little bit of change on top.

If you are looking for a new game to try, I highly recommend the $9-18 at Bellagio. Be warned, it only spreads on one table so the waiting list can get a little long. However, it is worth the wait.

 

The Important Things

Yesterday was a rollercoaster of a day. It started out with a surprising find and ended with a thud. It was a day that came with an important lesson.

The day started with Mr. Jace and Facebook Live. He was showcasing his Batmobile driving skills all over our backyard with his doggie in on all the action.

While he kept playing I was doing a computer cleanup. I found and old login/password for a retirement account I had long forgotten about. It took a little digging, a lot of updated personal information and a long phone call, but the result was worth it. It turns out I have a pension from a company I stopped working for in 2004. The money, a significant amount, is just sitting there growing a little each month until I can cash it out 18 years from now. It was like finding money in a mattress.

My temporary euphoria was quickly extinguished as I received a rejection phone call and a rejection email, respectively, from two jobs I was going after. Both would have meant better hours and more money than I am making now, and both would have had better growth opportunities.

It stung a little to be rejected twice in one day. You would think all the practice I have had being rejected by women would have numbed those pains years ago, but it has not.

It took a few hours but I was able to finally wrap my mind around what really happened. Anyone who really knows me knows I hate the workforce. I always have. I am not afraid of work. In fact, I like working hard. I just hate working hard for someone when they make all the money and a make enough to get by in life.

I walked away from a job as a television sportscaster with no notice and no other job because I was fed up with all the nonsense. I left for Las Vegas in 2010 with no job in site. My first full-time job in Las Vegas offered to move me to a different department that needed help or take a buyout. I took the buyout without even hesitating.

The workforce — in my opinion — is for suckers. There is no real money in it. There is no real security in it . There is very little gratification in it. Unless you are the person at the top you are just a cog in a machine. Why do so many people drift toward real estate or a myriad of other sales-type jobs. There is an opportunity to see your own hours, be your own boss and make real money. Business don’t even need to give employees raises anymore. If they employee doesn’t like it they can be easily replaced by a person who will take the job for the same money, or sometimes even less.

No one is going to remember fondly the work they did screwing a tire on a car, flipping the burger just right or making sure ever single letter got into the exact right mailbox.

Jace driving his Batmobile around our backyard.

What they are going to remember are the times they had with their family.

The times they made goofy videos of a kid off-roading on a battery-operated vehicle with only one speed and plastic tires. The times they went to the park and fed crackers to the ducks and geese. The times they went to the playground and rode the slides over and over and over again.

Those are the things that are important. Not work. Work has put a roof over our heads, food on the table and much-needed insurance for a baby that spent 49 days in the NICU. Work, however, is also the thing the keeps most people from actually LIVING their life. Exploring, spending time outside, traveling…having a vibrant, well-lived life. Having a life where at the end of your days you can think back and say, “I tore that life up. I got every minute out it.”

That is what I am seeking. That is what is important. I am never going to feel that way at the end of my days grinding out a middle-class living for my son. I owe him the reality that ANYTHING is possible. That all your dreams CAN come true. That anything you want is within your REACH. You have to dream big, live large, and enjoy life. It is over quicker than you think.

I am working on it.

Be Money Smart

Financial peace can go a long ways towards finding our everyday happiness. The stress of money and financial issues can weigh us down and control our emotions.

The solution is not simply to have more money. Many a rich person has died penniless. Joe Louis had a 12-year reign as heavyweight champion of the world and earned more than $4.6 million (about $80 million in today’s money) in the 1930s and 1940s. He died broke. Stu Ungar won the World Series of Poker three times and earned more than $30 million during his poker career. He died with no assets to his name.

As Puff Daddy once sang, “Mo Money, Mo Problems”.

The key to financial independence is planning. Regardless of your current money status there are small gestures you can make to ease your financial burden:

Get a $1,000 emergency fund immediately — within 30 days. This is taken directly from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace and it is important. Need some ideas how to get that $1,000. I sold some furniture on craigslist. I had a garage sale. I sold a few items on eBay. It took a little more than 30 days, but I got there.

Plan ahead for Christmas. How much do you want to spend for Christmas this year? How about setting a limit of $500. There are 51 weeks from the the start of the year to Christmas Week. Set a goal to put $10 in box every week from the first of the year to the week before Christmas. That’s $500. If you miss a week or two, don’t fret. Whatever you have at the end of the year is what you can spend on Christmas. You will pay cash for any gifts you purchase, and you won’t feel the pinch on your credit card or paycheck.

A $5 bill here and there. The money saving tip I am using newly this year is the $5 bill. I have an empty cigar box in which I toss every $5 bill I get. If I break a $20 and get a fiver in change, the $5 bill goes in the box. This will motivate you to pay a little more often with cash instead of plastic. You will start craving getting those $5 bills to toss in the box. After six, 12 or 18 months, use the money to make your life a little easier by paying down a debt or taking care of a bill in cash.

Speaking of cash. Cash is king. Use it when you can instead of credit cards. If you can’t afford to buy something with the cash you have on you it may not be a necessity.

Be generous. This may seem to contradict all of the previous advice, but this point is the most important. Generosity is rewarded by karma, by the universe.

Be frugal with your money, but also be generous. Enjoy your life.

Be Kind

Be kind. 

In a day where each person make dozens and dozens of choices, being kind is the easiest choice to make. If you start the day with this one simple choice, your entire day will become better.

Kindness is contagious. If you are kind, the people you are kind to will tend to also be kind to the people they come in contact with. Kindness is disarming. Kindness is happy. Kindness brings good karma.

Here’s are easy ways to practice kindness:

Say “Thank you” a lot.

Compliment a stranger.

Send a random text to a friend that simply says, “Hello. Have a great day!”

Pickup a piece of trash that you didn’t originally discard and throw it away.

Let someone ahead of you in line.

Hold the elevator door until everyone else exits.

Overpay for something and tell the recipient “Keep the change.”

Put up something positive on your Facebook wall — a picture of a puppy, or your kids or a sunny day.

Find one thing in your house you no longer need but someone else could use and donate it to Goodwill or Salvational Army.

Buy the meal or the coffee for the person behind you in the line at a drive through.

Pickup a box of donuts and take it into work.

If you go grocery shopping, grab one of the loose carts in the parking lot that someone else didn’t put away and use it for your shopping.

 

Be kind. And enjoy the day.