Friday, April 27, 2007
Of course, a friend here in Cincy read my prior post about our town and just sent this lil email. Damn right-wingers.
Fu** Doonesbury, and Marge Schott will always be my hero, she has a World Series ring.
Let’s go eat lunch.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Wow. Yahoo offering real-money poker? WTF.
You can find the cardplayer story at: UK Poker News: Yahoo Opens Real Money Poker Site
The Yahoo website is: Yahoo Online Poker
Damnit, I want a piece of this. I know, I know, USA players won't be accepted but where there is a will, there is a way.
This is a genuine paradigm shift, imho. This is a major, major move and one that Party Poker has said will mark the beginning of "real" competition.
And it's finally happened.
Yahoo launched their poker site in conjunction with St Minver, one of Europe's largest gaming operators. It's powered by Boss Media AB software. Boss Media also supports the powerful gaming brands SportingBet, Bwin, and William Hill.
Thank God my fucking government had the foresight to protect me from myself and not allow me to play on Yahoo poker. Oh. The. Humanity.
And so yeah, I'm not holding my breath on Barney Frank's bill. Hell no, I wouldn't ever be cynical.
Wow, my strange city of Cincinnati was featured in a lengthy column over at ESPN. I think he did a pretty good job of capturing things here. The southern influence here is often overlooked.
And yes, this town is conservative. When I moved back here after several years of living in Las Vegas, I was astounded to find that the city had renamed the major cross-county highway to "Ronald Reagan Highway". WTF. Reagan's never even been here.
Our local newspaper won't run Doonesbury in the comics. It runs on the editorial page.
I could go on and on here but it is what it is. One wacky town.
Here's the entire article, complete with comments, at ESPN: Cincy looks for virtue amid the Bengals' vices
By Pat Forde
CINCINNATI -- There is no easy explanation for this place.
Cincinnati is a cocktail of contradictions, a town too conflicted for easy labeling. Its outside doesn't readily match its inside, making this a real-life Wisteria Lane: What looks like quintessentially normal America seems to have a ragingly weird undercurrent sluicing through it.
It is famously conservative and proudly prudish, yet it launched the porn career of Larry Flynt and once elected Jerry Springer as its mayor. (Springer later ran for governor, and part of his campaign was a TV ad wherein he admitted paying for a hooker -- with a check.)
It counts among its most famous women residents both Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and Marge Schott, who once referred to two African-American Cincinnati Reds as "my million-dollar n------."
It has been called bigoted, segregated and racially regressive, yet what other downtown has a nonprofit hip-hop youth performance center next door to the city ballet? B-boys and ballerinas pass on the sidewalk, one group walking in from the jagged surrounding neighborhood and the other popping out of BMWs from the 'burbs.
It is either America's southernmost Midwestern city or its most Midwestern Southern city, sitting a river's width to the north of the Mason-Dixon Line. One thing it definitely isn't: in step with the rest of Ohio.
It just might be the strangest city in Flyover America.
"I can't explain why it is the way it is," says Cincinnati Enquirer sports columnist Paul Daugherty. "I don't know why we attract eccentrics."
Daugherty moved here from New York in 1988 and has rarely been without column fodder. That's because the cultural inconsistencies in identity cross over to sports as well.
Cincinnati places a premium on propriety and civility, yet fiercely champions the dishonest (Pete Rose) and the profane (Bob Huggins).
It is part of a legendary football state, yet its biggest collegiate sporting event every year is the Xavier-Cincinnati basketball game.
And it is a place with a low crime rate -- except among its pro football players, who lead the National Football League by a wide margin in recent arrests.
Heading into an NFL draft that has put unprecedented emphasis on "character issues," the Cincinnati Bengals' draft decisions could be more closely scrutinized than any team's. That's what happens when you're dogged by a dirty reputation harder to shake than gum on your shoe.
"One of the ways we're trying to clean this up is through the draft -- drafting good-character guys," says Cincinnati running back Rudi Johnson. "If that means passing some guys up, so be it. We've already learned that doing it the other way didn't work out in our favor."
Doing it the other way, Cincinnati drafted guys such as Chris Henry, Odell Thurman, Frostee Rucker and A.J. Nicholson. Every one of them came with a character red flag that was ignored, and all of them have been arrested since they joined the Bengals.
That hasn't played well on Wisteria Lane. Cincinnati is the oldest of baseball towns, but it is passionate about its NFL team, too. Passionate enough to be pissed off by the run of bad behavior.
"It's an old German Catholic city, where you behaved properly and went to Mass," says Howard Wilkinson, a 25-year Enquirer political writer. "People here over the years have looked to sports stars with great reverence; and when you mess up, people are disappointed. The only one who seems to get a pass is Rose.
"It's kind of an old-fashioned place. I think that's had a big impact on how people look at the Bengals now. It's embarrassing, and people don't like that around here."
There have been 13 Bengals busts since Jan. 1, 2006; and even though it's been nearly four months since the last player got nailed, the wife of a former player has stepped in to fill the crime-blotter void. According to the Enquirer, 51-year-old Jeni Lee Dinkel, wife of former Bengals linebacker Tom Dinkel, entered a not guilty plea last week to charges of having sex with an underage boy in suburban Cincinnati.
Combine that with the eight-game suspension handed out by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to serial Bengals miscreant Henry this month, and you have a sordid story that never seems to stop.
"It comes up in every interview I do," Johnson, the running back, says wearily.
It comes up daily on the streets, too.
It's the football stadium at Taft High School, a thoroughly modern edifice with high-quality artificial turf surrounded by an all-weather track. Many of the schools in the Cincinnati Public League play their games here. On a perfect spring afternoon last week, the Taft Senators were having track practice.
Mike Martin is one of the assistant coaches. He's also the head football coach at Taft. He's also a former Cincinnati Bengal, a wide receiver for seven seasons in the 1980s who led the NFL in punt returns in 1984.
In five years, Martin has rebuilt Taft football, literally from nothing. The 2001 season was canceled when just five players came out for the team. Since then, he has breathed life into the program and become a powerful, positive influence in his players' lives.
Martin expects to have one of his best teams this fall. He's also hoping he might have a volunteer assistant coach come work with his players -- a guy named Chris Henry, who won't have much to do during the first half of the 2007 NFL season.
Martin has floated the idea to the Bengals' front office about Henry working with Taft while he serves his suspension. Martin says head coach Marvin Lewis was very receptive to the idea. It remains to be seen how receptive Henry is. The Bengals have put him off-limits to the media while he's suspended.
Being around a quietly charismatic guy like Martin might help Henry, who has been arrested four times since Dec. 15, 2005, making him the honorary captain of Team Mug Shot. Being around Martin's players might help, too.
"My guys will keep it real with him," Martin says. "They won't pull any punches. They'll ask him about everything he's been doing. Maybe it'll be good for him to hear it from these guys -- remember where he came from, and see how privileged he is to be in the NFL.
"A lot of these guys want to get where [the Bengals] are. Just listening to their conversations, it's amazing to them that someone would want to throw away such an opportunity."
It should be noted that the majority of the Bengals have seized their opportunity and made a positive impact in the Cincinnati community. But the steady stream of problems has overshadowed those good deeds. And Martin's players aren't shy about saying what they think of the Bengals' legal embarrassments.
"They've been crazy," says Kenneth Trimble, a highly recruited strong safety.
"They're disappointing the fans," says cornerback Ronald Hicks.
"Why they act like that?" asks Ronald's brother, Keyonta Hicks, also a cornerback.
"Most of them," says Darryl Robinson, another corner, with a mixture of amusement and amazement, "act like we do."
From the mean streets to the office suites, the kids aren't the only ones wondering. Bengals alums such as Martin and Reggie Williams are chagrined by the behavior.
"As a Cincinnati Bengals lifetime player, I find myself continually besmirched," says 14-year Cincy linebacker Williams, who was the anti-Chris Henry in his day: an Ivy League grad so respected off the field that he successfully ran for city council. Today, Williams is vice president of Disney's Wide World of Sports, but that executive job has not insulated him from disparaging remarks about the Bengals' character.
"They come up out of the clear blue, at any time," Williams says. "It equally rivals that distasteful era when they weren't winning."
Conservative and uncomfortable
When it was founded in the 1700s on the northern banks of the Ohio River, Cincinnati quickly grew into what has been called America's first inland boomtown. It rapidly became a gateway to the untamed West.
Today, nobody calls this a boomtown. The metro area population is around 2 million, placing it in the top 25 nationally, and there are many major corporations located here. But its residents admit that Cincinnati is as likely to think small as it is to think big: resistant to change, wary of the outside world and happy within its own cultural cocoon.
"From the day I got here [from New York], I was totally struck by how much better this place is than our own people give it credit for," says nine-year Xavier athletic director Mike Bobinski.
For comparison's sake to other cities, Cincinnatians might need to get out more. Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer says he has neighbors in his suburb whose idea of a vacation is to go downtown and stay in a hotel.
Not even the widespread passion for Ohio State football resonates much in Cincinnati -- the Enquirer doesn't have a Buckeyes beat writer.
And you can forget any kinship with the state's largest city, Cleveland, well to the north.
"Cleveland is an East Coast city," Daugherty says. "This is a Southern city. I'd say it has more in common with Louisville.
"I think Cincinnati is sort of an island unto itself, because it has nothing in common with the rest of the state."
Which seems to be fine with the locals.
"I don't really think of myself as an Ohioan," says Cincy native Tori Meeker, a bartender at the Rock Bottom Brewery downtown. "Cincinnati is very self-contained."
Cincinnati is almost its own nation-state, its life separated from Kentucky by the river and from the rest of Ohio by the I-275 beltway. Provincialism is fairly predictable.
"This is the only city in America where if they ask what school you went to, they don't mean college," says Cincinnati Bearcats basketball coach Mick Cronin, a Queen City native. "They mean high school."
The city basically has two factions to it: the gritty, working-class West Side and the more affluent East Side. Cronin describes the difference in terms of youth sports.
"On the West Side, they play to win," he says. "On the East Side, everyone gets to participate."
Pete Rose is the ultimate West Sider -- the hometown tough guy who made it big. You do that, and the headfirst slides count more with your constituency than the years of lying about betting on baseball. A recent reader poll in the weekly magazine CityBeat said Rose is still the favorite athlete in Cincinnati.
"We're homers," Cronin says, "which explains our affinity for Pete Rose. If the people in this town could vote for Pete to get into the Hall of Fame, he'd get in unanimously."
Similar affection has been extended to another famed-but-flawed hard-ass, Huggins. Certainly, Huggins' winning percentage dictated most of his popularity, but his unpretentious, combative style played well here, too. One thing Bob Huggins isn't: pretentious. No wonder he was popular in Cincinnati.
"He was perceived as a blue-collar man of the people," Dougherty says. "We love our white-bread, Chris Sabo, Cris Collinsworth, shut-up-and-play, dirty-shirt heroes."
Don't underestimate the "white-bread" part of that quote. Cincinnati has championed several minority sports heroes: Oscar Robertson, Anthony Munoz, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, among others. But it's probably easier to be Carson Palmer in this town than T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
In terms of demographics and lifestyle, this is a long way from New York, Miami, San Francisco and even Atlanta.
There are a lot of adjectives tossed around about Cincinnati: family-friendly, affordable and safe, to name a few. But one word that comes out of every mouth, without fail:
The last time Hamilton County voted Democratic for president was 1964, when the unappealing alternative was Barry Goldwater. The bigfoot AM radio station in town, WLW, is a fire-breathing bastion of right-wing oratory. The personality page on its Web site features 14 white males, led by the divisive Bill Cunningham, who last week ridiculed the emotional, multicultural memorial gathering at Virginia Tech in the wake of the mass murder there.
Cunningham ripped the fact that the first speaker was "some Muslim dude," followed by a Buddhist.
"Was there a Hindu?" he asked on the air. "Did they have a Hindu, too?" Later he lamented the lack of "mainstream, normal stuff."
"It's multiculturalism run amok," Cunningham railed. " … It's sad, but it's the way college campuses operate today."
Multiculturalism wasn't real big with Schott -- another Cincinnati native. She was generous with her money and kept Reds baseball affordable for the common folks, but the old German woman was off the charts with her political incorrectness.
Upon her death, Daugherty wrote, "She was Archie Bunker for real, at a time when Archie Bunker was no longer acceptable."
So you wonder how comfortable the city of Bill Cunningham and Marge Schott is for a clubhouse full of affluent, young African-American football players. Race relations historically have been troubled here, though they have calmed considerably after the small-scale riots of 2001 to protest what many in the black community believed to be brutal treatment at the hands of white cops.
"I live up north [of the city], and there are plenty of times I will be followed home [by police]," says Martin, who is black. "One time a guy pulled me over and asked if I'd been drinking. I said, 'Why? Did I do anything wrong?'"
Martin says the cop told him he was swerving. Martin responded that he avoided a pothole, never even leaving his lane.
"You don't have anything to do tonight, do you?" Martin says he told the cop. "He just started laughing and walked back to his car."
So: Are the Bengals who have been arrested for DUI, marijuana possession and other charges being targeted by cops who might let them go in other cities?
"It's more on the person's responsibility, not on the city at all," Johnson says.
He lists all the ways the police and the Bengals front office have tried to help the players avoid trouble: a meeting with the chief; e-mails advising where sobriety checkpoints will be set up; free limousine service from owner Mike Brown.
"What else do you want guys to do?" Johnson says. "How much can they do for you? At some point, you've got to take personal responsibility."
Which brings us back to Chris Henry.
The feel-good story of the year in Major League Baseball is Josh Hamilton, the 25-year-old Reds rookie. Hamilton has become a fixture in the Cincinnati lineup and a local fan favorite after he missed nearly four full seasons because of drug addiction.
Hamilton's suspensions from baseball -- which did not happen on the Reds' watch, or in detriment to the organization -- dwarf the half-season suspension levied against Henry.
So why the radically divergent attitudes in the city? Why is the white baseball player embraced and the black football player scorned?
"This is a totally different deal," Daugherty says. "One guy admitted he messed up and is trying to change his life. The other guy has not showed any remorse.
"We like to knock people down and then pick them up. That's what's happening with Josh Hamilton. They perceive him, rightly or wrongly, to be contrite about what he did.
"There is across-the-board condemnation of Chris."
That's unfair, according to Katie, a dancer at The Foxx gentleman's club in Covington, Ky.
In a puritanical purge in the 1970s, Cincinnati shoved most of the porn outlets across the river into northern Kentucky. They've stayed there. Covington has cleaned up its image and actually has turned its waterfront into a more vibrant area than Cincinnati's, but it still has the gentleman's clubs on its street corners.
And according to its employees, The Foxx is a place Chris Henry has been known to frequent.
"I know Chris," Katie says. "I walk into Chris' house, take my shoes off, get in his refrigerator.
"Chris doesn't have any alcohol in his house. Chris doesn't smoke weed. I just think he's involved with some of the wrong people."
Katie says she met Henry at The Foxx. Cindy, another dancer, says she hasn't seen Henry in her three weeks working there, but was told by a bouncer that the wide receiver tried to come in last week and was turned away at the door for his own good.
On the night Chris Henry allegedly was sent home from The Foxx, fireworks were erupting from Great American Ballpark. They thumped and echoed over the Ohio River in traditional celebration of a Reds victory.
Viewed from the Kentucky side of the river, the smoke from the fireworks formed a hazy halo over the illuminated stadium.
Just down the riverfront at darkened Paul Brown Stadium, there are no halos in sight.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Thanks to Scott for pointing out this lil AP story.
Democrat says expect online gambling bill Thursday
Wed Apr 25
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (news, bio, voting record) on Wednesday said he will introduce a bill this week to lift a ban on online gambling.
"Why anyone thinks it is any of my business why some adult wants to gamble is absolutely beyond me," Frank told a community bankers group conference.
Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, said he will introduce the legislation on Thursday.
Internet gambling in the United States was effectively banned last October when President George W. Bush signed legislation outlawing gaming financial transactions.
The ban irked some in the European Union, which is home to online gambling companies that were forced to withdraw from the United States.
Monday, April 23, 2007
"I just got a $500 fine by the State of Washington for playing poker on the internet.
The judge also gave me 30 days in jail when I asked if the court accepted frequent player points as payment."
I don't have much time before the start of the HOY this evening but I wanted to try and get something up anyway.
Let's start off with some perspective from the Babe Ruth of poker, Doyle Brunson, about our beloved game of poker and it's current state of affairs.
Bah, I'm getting pissed off just thinking about it but I'm gonna lay off this dead horse.
Let's move along to the Phil Ivey - Ram golf debacle. At the end of the 2+2 thread on this matter, Barry Greenstein chimed in with his two cents.
It is hard or me to believe how gullible the people on here and on the Hendonmob forum are. Someone trying to get out of a debt comes up with a reason not to pay, and so many of you bought it.
1. Phil never lied to them. And he didn't shoot better than he said he would. He putted well, but hit the ball worse. He shot in the 90's as expected.
2. Erick Lindgren gave Phil 10 shots during the summer. He now gives Phil 8 shots. They played even in a nine-hole TV match in Australia, and Erick clobbered Phil. When Mark and Ram asked Erick if they ever played even, he admitted they had, but he made sure that Ram knew that he was a much better golfer than Phil. That conveniently got left out of Ram's post.
3. Mark and Ram beat Phil five times in a row. The last time was in Barcelona where Phil lost six of the first seven holes and then walked off the course. Ram says Phil lost only $34,000, which is hard to do playing in increments of three different $10,000 bets per hole. (Two individual bets and a team bet.) Ram forgot to mention
that the reason they are not much ahead of Phil is that Phil won most of the money back at Chinese Poker.
4. After they played the first nine holes in Australia, they made a small adjustment in the match, and Ram and Mark asked for a contract. (A contract means no more adjustments while in Austrailia.) They continued for a total of 72 holes. (Mark didn't finish the last nine.) At what point, should they have taken responsibility for their loss? Or is it OK to play to try to win money back, and not pay if you lose?
6. Except for nine holes where Mark parred seven holes, as expected, since he is nearly a scratch golfer, I don't think Mark shot less than 45, where his average was expected to be 38. And Ram, who was supposed to be better than Phil, was having trouble breaking 100 for 18 holes.
7. If $140,000 had been won instead of $1,400,000, the money would have been paid and a new match would have been negotiated. As Benny Binion once said, "I usually find that people are honorable as long as they can afford to be."
8. I was not brought in as an arbitrator or to fight Phil's battles. Phil wanted me to show up because he said, "You're never going to believe what they have to say. Their whole argument is that since they didn't realize they were clear underdogs in the match, the match should be voided."
9. Phil usually tells me about his matches. I invariably tell him he is an underdog. He always says he likes to win as the underdog by being tougher under pressure, and if he loses he will practice and get better and eventually win the money back.
10. The reason Phil has never defended himself is that he is a private person, and he didn't even know these forums existed until I told him about what was being posted. I have a feeling Phil may have someting to say or write once this is settled.
I can't believe that this thread has gotten so big, starting from a false hypothesis.
Segue: the summer gathering of poker bloggers and assorted groupies is coming together nicely. Thanks a ton to the hard working folks behind the scenes, per always.
Here's the skinny with contact info if you wanna go - from Poker Stage:
The room block is ready for booking at The Orleans. For those who have forgotten, the rates are as follows -
Wednesday Night - $60
Thursday Night - $60
Friday Night - $110
Saturday Night - $110
Sunday Night - $65
There are 50 rooms held at those rates, plus the million dollars in taxes and other fees that come with. The room block will vanish in three weeks, so don't dick around!
Call 1-800-675-3267 for reservations. Make sure you tell them this is for the World Poker Blogger Tour, June 6-10.
Also, if you're coming, please email me (johnhartness AT gmail DOTDON'TYOUDARESPAMME com), so I can start compiling a contact list of everybody that will be there.
And from Vegas local, RadioVegas, we have tourney updates:
WPBT Summer Classic 2007
The WPBT Summer Classic 2007 tournament will be held June 9th at The Orleans in Las Vegas. Start time will be at about 2pm.
Buy in will be $65 + $10 + optional $5.
$65 goes into prize pool, $10 to the house and the optional $5 goes directly to the dealers.
Starting chips will be 1600 and if you pay the $5 extra dealer add on you get an additional 400 in chips.
I do not have a copy of the blind structure but its fairly standard with 20 minute levels. If enough interest I will make a copy of the blind structure.
It is important that I have a rough estimate of how many people will be planning to play so the Orleans can staff their dealers appropriately.
Drop me an email if you're attending: sloshr * gmail * com.
Arg, I gotta go play in this blogger tourney thingy. These 10pm start times are starting to kill me.
Allow me to leave you with an oldie but goody link/story.
Jonathan Lebed: Stock Manipulator, S.E.C. Nemesis -- and 15
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