Chad: The Year In Review

Two thousand fourteen. Easily, the most eventful year in my life. As the final days of the calendar year burn away it’s a great time to reflect on the past 12 months.

That this was going to be a wild ride in 2014 was pretty much locked in when I found out in December 2013 that my ex-girlfriend was pregnant with my first child. At 44 years of age, I had thrown in the towel on having children and was enjoying my single life in Las Vegas. God had a different plan.

Having a child together wasn’t enough to bring my child’s mother and I back together in a relationship, no matter now much we tried. There was too much mistrust, animosity, anger and anxiety. In retrospect, we both should have tried a little hard and forgiven a little faster, but it didn’t happen.

By Spring we were trying to find ways to agree on a name, co-parenting and everything else through weekly doctor visits.

Meanwhile my plan to work part-time while pursuing some independent ventures got moved to the back burner (cause for some of the aforementioned feelings). Suddenly, I needed insurance and a full-time income to support this new little guy.

Las Vegas Strip Exteriors
Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino

My best option was a full-time job as a poker supervisor at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. Unfortunately the only available full-time job was on the graveyard shift. With some trepidation, I accepted the position. Suddenly, I was working 1AM-9AM five nights a week learning the poker trade in the center of the poker universe — The Las Vegas Strip.

I agreed to these graveyard hours because I wanted to provide for my son. I told myself I would only work on graveyard for 24 months before I had to find a new shift or a new job.

On July 16 — five days early — Jace Allen Harberts arrived on the scene. Born with a correctable health problem, Jace spent 49 days in the NICU recovering. The strain of a fractured relationship and a birth of a new child was only intensified by the twice-daily 35-mile round trip to the hospital while also working a full-time schedule.

daddy_jaceJace made it through everything like a champ. I was grateful to all the amazing NICU nurses at Spring Valley Hospital who taught me how to properly care for this fragile little life. And that full-time graveyard job I reluctantly took? MGM’s great insurance paid off in spades when my son was racking up $2,500 a day hospital bills.

After Jace left the hospital we had to try to figure out how to care for this little guy. It didn’t matter how much I had prepared, all the stuff I had read or all the advice I received, a single 45-year old man cannot possibly prepare for the task of taking care of an infant child by himself 70-90 hours per week. It is a daunting task. The crying, the screaming, the not being able to fix the situation no matter what you do. The only solution I ever found was a Jeep ride. A few minutes rumbling around the neighborhood had a calming and sometimes sleepy effect on my young son.

The year has ended on a flourish. My son is showing no signs of the being long-term affected by his NICU stay. He’s growing up to be a healthy, happy, good-looking boy.

Thanksgiving week I was offered the opportunity to leave the graveyard shift for a split shift during regular hours. Now I work two days and three swing shifts. I never work later than 1AM. Being back on a normal schedule has led to me being less tired, and by extension a better parent.

Twenty fourteen was a great year, but there are still dreams unfulfilled and goals undone. I am planning on working hard in 2015 to see some of these dreams and goal come to fruition. Still, it will be difficult to top the events of 2014.

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