Busy Weekend With Jace

Weekend are too short. We try to make the most of them. This weekend, Jace and me packed as much in as we could.

We started off Saturday morning at the Easter Seals Christmas Party at Texas Station Casino. Easter Seals has been very good to Jace over the past six months, helping him with speech therapy and development.

It was a great party thrown by a great organization for a bunch of deserving families.

Jace got to visit Santa and received a really cool wood car. That boy LOVES cars! He also played some games with the other kids, did a colors/shapes puzzle and made his mommy a paper-plate snowman with marshmallow and glue.

Jace loves to play with other kids, but since he is not in daycare right now he doesn’t get to very often. When it’s warm we go to a park where a lot of other kids play.

It always makes me so happy to see him content and playing with other kids.

After a stop back home for lunch and a nap, it was off to Mandalay Bay for a Christmas Party. Jace loves to go in casinos. The lights, the sounds, the people — it all amazes him. It was good to see my co-workers enjoying my little boy.

Saturday we made a few stops before Jace made his first-ever appearance at a college football game. We received free tickets to the Las Vegas Bowl, featuring San Diego State and Houston. After almost seven years in Las Vegas I was finally going to get a chance to see Sam Boyd Stadium (UNLV’s home stadium).

jace_football_gameJace LOVED his first football game. He loved the marching bands. He loved the National Anthem and the giant flag on the field. He loved the flyover. He loved the fireworks before kickoff. He loved the music. My little man couldn’t take it all in fast enough.

A Houston fan sitting behind us was even kind enough to take our picture at the game. We could only stay for part of the first half of the game, as nap time was again creeping up on us. But we will definitely be going back.

Saturday night I made a my way to Red Rock Casino for some much-needed poker. It was good to claw back a pretty big chunk of what I lost last weekend.

It was a great weekend with my boy.

Five Years And Going Strong

Today is the 5-year anniversary of me waking up at 5AM in Prairie Village, Kan., shoveling away the seven inches of snow around my moving truck tires, and rolling out of town to Las Vegas.

I had a great 17-year run in Kansas City. I moved seamlessly from the UMKC athletics department to the now-defunct Kansas City Blades to Metro Sports to owning my own business. I lived in Independence, Overland Park, Merriam, KCK (Kansas City, Kan.), and owned homes in Waldo and Brookside.

I met some wonderful people and made many new friends.

By 2010, I was ready to break away from the cold and snow and head to the desert.

The first five years in Las Vegas have been amazing. I went to poker school and got a job immediately. I was a manager by 18 months. I jumped from my first job in the suburbs to the world-famous Las Vegas Strip earlier this year.

I have made a slew of new friends. I had a son. We live in a great house in Henderson with a huge backyard and a pool.

There was one significant loss. Pirate, my beloved German shepherd mix, passed away after almost 12 years together. I still miss him.

Overall, however, Las Vegas has been very good to me.

This is how deep the snow was the day I left for Vegas. It had snowed 7 inches overnight.
This is how deep the snow was the day I left for Vegas. It had snowed 7 inches overnight. I miss Pirate. He enjoyed his retirement to Las Vegas.
Heading out on Interstate 70 across Kansas.
Heading out on Interstate 70 across Kansas.
No, I don't think I will.
No, I don’t think I will.
The next stop after six hours across Kansas.
The next stop after six hours across Kansas.
I spent the night on the Colorado/Utah border, then headed out the next morning to complete my trip.
I spent the night on the Colorado/Utah border, then headed out the next morning to complete my trip.
Utah is pretty nice.
Utah is pretty nice.
Out of Utah -- and briefly Arizona -- and about to enter Mesquite, Nev.
Out of Utah — and briefly Arizona — and about to enter Mesquite, Nev.
a.k.a. The Las Vegas Strip.
a.k.a. The Las Vegas Strip.
Pirate and I posing at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign.
Pirate and I posing at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign.

Don’t Be This Guy

The NFL (and to an extent the other sports leagues) are amazing at promoting their fans to buy jerseys. The reason behind this is the NFL knows the average playing career of an NFL player is 3.2 years. For every 17-year veteran like Peyton Manning, there are dozens of:

Sylvester Morris, Chiefs 1st round pick 2000, played one season in NFL

Charles Rogers, Lions no. 2 overall pick 2003, played 15 total games over three seasons

Erasmus James, Vikings 1st round pick 2005, played 28 total games over four seasons

Justin Harrell, Packers 1st round pick 14 games over 3 three seasons

 

I have already wrote extensively about why consumers should only buy vintage NFL jerseys.

Here’s another reason: Don’t be this guy!

 

Wearing a Vikings Percy Harvin jersey at a Vegas casino is not cool.
Wearing a Vikings Percy Harvin jersey at a Vegas casino is not cool.

I saw this guy at the Fiesta Henderson, a local’s casino in the Las Vegas suburbs Sunday. He is wearing a Minnesota Vikings’ home purple Percy Harvin jersey. The number of things wrong with this jersey selection is staggering:

1. Harvin played for the Vikings 2009-12. In only one season did he play at 16 games.

2. Harvin reportedly got in fights with coach Brad Childress and Coach Leslie Frazier.

3. Harvin was traded to the Seattle Seahawks, where he won a Super Bowl.

4. Harvin was traded away from the Seahawks as he continues to be a malcontent. He reportedly fought with Doug Baldwin and gave Golden Tate a black eye the night before the Super Bowl.

5. Harvin has been a nightmare player and teammate since he was first suspended as high school junior.

 

Buying this jersey was (a) a waste of money, (b) enriched a player who does not deserve it and (c) is such a poor choice when a jersey for Fran Tarkenton, Chuck Foreman, Ahmad Rashad, Alan Page, Paul Krause or any number of vintage Vikings would be so much more rewarding and long-lasting.

 

Single Dad, Sin City

I’ve been off my blog — and off the grid — for a few months now. Publicly, I stated it was for personal business. Privately, my close friends knew was that business entailed.

Jace Allen Harberts
Jace Allen Harberts

Meet Jace Allen Harberts.

Jace was born July 16, 2014, at Spring Valley Hospital in Las Vegas. Due to some complications during pregnancy, Jace spent a full seven weeks in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) getting around-the-clock care from an excellent nursing and doctor staff, in addition to his mother (my ex-girlfriend) and your fearless author.

I am happy to report that is he home to his mother and I, and we share custody of him.

I wasn’t expecting to be a parent, except to pets, for the first time a few weeks shy of my 45th birthday. However, those are the curveballs life sometimes tosses your way.

Obviously a few changes had to be made to accommodate this sweet addition to the family. One, my poker playing career is definitely on hold. Secondly, I changed the title of this blog to Single Dad, Sin City.

There will definitely still be some poker related content. That dream always stays in the back of my mind day and night. But my focus has changed. Now I’m playing for a different purpose. As the legendary Joey Knish said in the great poker movie Rounders, “I’m not playing for the thrill of (effing) victory here,” said Knish. “I owe rent, alimony, child support. I play for money. My kids eat.”

I did manage to play in one World Series of Poker Event. For the fourth consecutive year I used my gaming credentials to play in Event #1, the $500 buyin Casino Employees Event. I cashed in this event two years ago, but was not as fortunate this time around. After some early success I went pretty card dead. About five hours in I was sent to the rail.

Since that event my poker has been limited to maybe once per week, usually late at night between trips to the hospital to feed my son in the NICU. I’ve barely played at all since his release, though I did carve out a small win in the Mandalay Bay poker room today.

It’s poignant that the arrival of Jace pushed my poker playing to the back burner. The great weekly poker game I hosted at my home in Kansas City 10 years ago died due to my married friends having children, which led to less time and less opportunity for them to play poker. By the end, I was the only single, childless guy left in the game. So I packed up my stuff and moved to Las Vegas.

Did you know Las Vegas has the most single dads per capita of any city in America? That’s a fun little fact I found out recently. I’m glad I could contribute to the cause.

Jace is a blessing. But since I spent all of my adult years childless I am learning all kinds of new things. Baby diapers come in many shirt_and_pants_090414sizes. Baby clothes are cool and cheap, but they only last about three months and the kid outgrows them. When my baby poops it looks like someone exploded a can of spinach in a microwave. He has a schedule, and you are now on it. He doesn’t care if you sleep as long as you are awake when he is awake. When he is hungry he screams and his head turns bright red. The moment the bottle hits his lips, he quits screaming immediately and all the redness drains from his face instantly.

I love this guy so much. I have so much to learn.

And I have so much to teach him. Like poker.

Entertaining Railroad Tunnels Hike

I spent the morning tacking the Railroad Tunnels hike. Tackling is a bit overstating. The hike is relatively easy (little elevation gain) and relatively short (3.5 miles to the gate and back or 7 miles to the Hoover Dam and back).

Two of the marinas that service Lake Mead. The white part of the rocks shows how far Lake Mead has fallen over the past 80 years since the Hoover Dam was built to hold back the Colorado River.
Two of the marinas that service Lake Mead. The white part of the rocks shows how far Lake Mead has fallen over the past 80 years since the Hoover Dam was built to hold back the Colorado River.

This hike, however, is special to me since it’s the first hike I ever tried after moving to Las Vegas. In February 2010 I had lived in Vegas for all of four weeks. With no job to go to and prior to attending dealing school I had just one friend in town. I was looking to meet people and network so I joined a hiking group on Meetup. After joining the group this was the first hike I signed up to attend.

digging_the_tunnels_signEighty years ago this same trail was  a railroad track used to carry supplies to the construction of the Hoover Dam. The railroad tracks have been removed and the tunnels have some been reinforcements on the ends to keep them from collapsing.

One of the five tunnels along the path of the Raildroad Tunnels hike to Hoover Dam.
One of the five tunnels along the path of the Raildroad Tunnels hike to Hoover Dam.

I have been on this hike 6-7 times over the past four years, including twice down to the Hoover Dam and back. Today, I stuck with the 3.5 mile version. It offers an incredible view of Lake Mead and the surrounding mountains.

It is rare to see any wildlife on the hike, though coyotes, snakes, bats and rams are certainly possible. If you take the hike down to the Dam there is a much greater chance of seeing a ram. They are not rare in this part of the country. In fact, the rams come down from the mountains daily and feed on the grass in the parks in nearby Boulder City.

What you will see are a lot of people on this hike. Today was no different. The age range was anywhere from 8-80. Several kids were hiking with parents. I saw a small group of Cub Scouts hiking. There were a couple of elderly men taking a casual stroll all the way to the Dam. There were also a number of people hiking with their dogs. That made me jealous since Pirate passed away four months ago. He went on this hike with me a few times.

End of the hike selfie.
End of the hike selfie.

This is a great hike, and the short version can be done in just 75-90 minutes.

I finished my exercise for the day, nourishing the mind, body and soul with one simple but great hike.

Now it’s off to the Aria 1PM poker tourney to see if I can nourish my wallet.

 

The Heat Is On

I vowed I would put a bad 2013 behind me and make the most of 2014. The early results are in, and my life is trending.

Started the day with visit no. 3 to the baby doctor. The little girl or guy (should know which very soon) and momma are doing great. I heard the heartbeat racing away at 142 beats per minute, which is pretty cool. (By the way, normal for 12 weeks in is 140-150 bpm, so don’t be alarmed).

Later in the afternoon, caught up with my college buddy Toby Evans. Toby and I go back to our days of working sports information at the University of Northern Iowa in the early 1990s. That meant a couple of Iowa boys out on the town in Sin City.

The night started with the 5PM tourney at Bally’s on The Strip. I like playing at Bally’s as generally the tourists are very fishy. We decided for the $65 tourney and hope there would be an overlay in the prize pool.

As it turned out, there would be no overlay as the guaranteed $1,000 prize pool was eclipsed by $150 thanks to a few reenters.

There were plenty of fish, however. Here are a few hands I saw players exit the tournament with: J-9o, Ks-4s, Q-8o and A-3o.

I cruised to the final table as one of the middling stacks. Once there I took out a couple of players to rise to one of the two best stacks. With five players left I was the chip leader. The other players at the table started begging for discussing a five-way chop. There were four decent-sized stacks and one short stack. I tried to counter with voting in two bubbles, but they were adamant for an even chop. I have a special place in my heart for all the tourists who come here to dump money and make our city grow, so I took the deal. I had turned by $65 into $230 gross (before the dealer tip).

Then it was off to sushi at the fabulous Sushi Twister. The good thing about knowing someone in Vegas is knowing you can get off The Strip and find some great food at mom and pop places out in Vegas. Sushi Twister hit the spot, and Toby was more than satisfied by the spread.

LVHThen it was back to The Strip to check out the poker room at LVH. It has been awhile since the last time I visited the LVH. In fact, it was still the Hilton then. The recently put a new poker room back in the facility and I wanted to see it. The poker room is very nice. Five tables, a couple of overstuffed chairs and two TVs. It was posh, but it was disappointing to only see one $1-$3 game going on in the room.

The other thing about LVH is the casino is basically Graceland West. Elvis played LVH (then the Hilton) a lot. He once sold out 58 consecutive shows, according to Wikipedia.

It was another great day in Las Vegas.

Current Bankroll: $1,950