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Poker game during a storm

I was living in Springfield, MO. with my daughter, Rossana, and her three children. The Sunday night poker game at Indigo Skies was a good one and I generally did well there. Senaca was an hour's drive from Springfield. I stopped at a gift shop along the highway to buy some Ozark fudge because I knew the kids and my daughter would enjoy it.

Playing poker and searching for gold

Dick Alexander was an actor who owned a house on North 26th Street. His friends included Nick Nolte, Wilfred Brimley, and Michael Landon, star of 'Bonanza' and producer of the 'Little House on the Prairie; television series. Dick was a friend of mine and when he suggested I move into the house with him, I took him up on his offer.

Playing poker in Louisiana's Cajun country

I lived in Mandeville, just across the causeway from New Orleans, for over a year. The publisher of a commercial fishing magazine had hired me as a field editor for his two publications, Fish Boat and Work Boat. Harry Peace was 94 years old but he never acted it. He would sneak up behind his writers and editors. When they turned to see who was behind them, he would jump up, click his heels and wink at them. Then he would continue walking.

Experiencing the Rainbow Islands

From the air, I could see the rainbows. A light rain was falling over Waikiki Beach and the imposing mountain called Diamond Head overlooked the crashing surf of Hawaii. I was here on a seven-day vacation and to teach a writer's workshop at the Ala Moana Resort Hotel. My roundtrip flight ticket and hotel bill were paid for by a poker tournament I had won at the Sahara Dunes Card Room near Elsinore, CA. As the American Airlines jet dropped flaps to approach the runway a giant rainbow appeared in the ocean. It stretched from Diamond Head to the sea. I wondered which side of the rainbow the pot of gold would be found.

Places honorable gentlemen should avoid

There is no mistake: when you find yourself in the badlands of New Mexico or Arizona, you have entered outlaw country. I had passed into a land that was strange to me. The people of New Mexico and Arizona have a different sense of humor compared to the rest of the country. They can laugh about themselves as well as the rest of the people. They can laugh about the temperature being 106 in the shade and his pardner responding, 'But you don't have to stand in the shade.'

A story of Jesse and Frank James

Neosho, MO. is a small community located halfway between Springfield and Joplin. I worked there as a reporter for the Neosho Daily News about 20 years ago. One of my assignments was to cover the annual Jesse James Days festival held in Pineville, MO., located just a few miles west of Neosho. In 1939, the first movie made about the James gang was filmed near Pineville. 'Jesse James' was directed by Henry Taylor and starred Tyrone Power, Henry Fonda and Randolph Scott. Before driving to Pineville...

Bill John's Big Apple Restaurant in Phoenix

When I rolled into Phoenix, AZ. on a February day in 1959, a blizzard was raging in my hometown in Western Pennsylvania. Phoenix was different. It was like I had died and gone to Heaven. I could smell the orange blossoms from the citronella and orange trees along Baseline Road where thousands of acres produced flowers and citrus fruit on farms owned by Japanese growers. The temperature at 5 p.m. was 82 degrees.

Change your game to start winning

A poker player must not play the same all his life. He changes, the game changes, and he starts losing. The losses continue and it seems he can't do anything right. The cards and winning hands just stop coming to him. What should be done to change his luck? Don't continue playing the games you have been losing at. Let's say you have been playing low-limit Holdem. One day you wake up to realize you have been losing steadily. Something has to give and something must stop. You need to step up your game to higher limits, maybe even no-limit. It will cause you to give your game the needed tuning and expand your range of playable hands.

Confidence - you must have it to win

It is Friday morning, Sept. 14 and I am watching Hurricane Florence batter the beaches and towns of the Carolinas. Having lived with my daughter and grandchildren in Charleston, S.C. for over a year, I know the nature of the people. I know how they think and how they react to adversity. They are tough. They are survivors. While the governors and other elected bureaucrats ordered an evacuation of the storm-ravaged area, many people chose to stay and protect their property. Good for them!

A bad beat jackpot at The Meadows Casino

Poker players are stubborn creatures. We never give up. I was in the middle of packing for my 1,500-mile trip to Albuquerque, N.M. when it happened. The bad beat jackpot at The Meadows Casino near Washington, PA. reached $30,000 and a special poker room rule kicked in. To hit the bad beat, players needed to use only one card, not two. Now, this may not sound like much to non-poker players. But to we veterans of the green felt jungle, it's almost like handing away free cash. Here is how it works:

Who would like to play poker against?

One of the perks of being a columnist for the world's largest gambling websites is the emails I receive from my readers. We have thousands of members in many parts of the world and they are intriguing people who are well versed in nearly every phase of gambling. This morning an email came in that made me smile and do some serious thinking.

Dishonesty in poker rooms needs to stop!

Poker rooms should be more honest when it comes to releasing information on their websites. It's sad but true for me to say this, but many poker rooms just refuse to practice honesty when it comes to revealing information on what games they spread for their customers. This irks the hell out of me and I suspect it upsets a lot of other people as well. The Hollywood Casino in Columbus, Ohio is a perfect example of what I am talking about. I made a recent trip by car to Columbus after looking up the Hollywood Casino's website on the Internet. I was planning to visit an old friend in Columbus and wanted to find out what games the casino was spreading.

Poker tips that can help your game

A couple of childhood friends and I were having coffee at the Coffee Shop, formerly known as Miller's Place in my hometown of Sutersville, PA. They had been pumping me for information about my experiences playing poker. Eddie, who had caddied with me at Youghiogheny Country Club near Boston, PA., was avidly interested in what I had to say. When I was through talking, he came out with what was really on his mind.

Learn to play lower limits

I received two emails this week from poker players who are in a blue funk because they are in a losing streak that they can't seem to shake. Joe P. lives in Hollywood, CA. and Frankie L. makes his home in Kansas City. Both play no limit Texas Hold'em and they say their opponents are eating them alive. They want to know what they can do to change their luck. I have been where Joe and Frankie find themselves and it is not a good place to find yourself.

Should you play poker when you're short of cash?

If you have done some serious gambling, you have probably done it with scared money. Most of the poker players I know have big bankrolls to back themselves up when they play. Some have financial backers while others operate businesses that provide a steady source of income to cover their day to day expenses. But every now and then a player will find himself with his back against the wall and nowhere to turn. That is when he must either play with scared money or stay away from any casino action until his ship corrects its course and he can dip into his pockets without worrying about where his money is going.

Playing poker with family and friends

During my many years of playing poker, I have often witnessed husbands and wives or fathers and sons playing at the same table. I have often seen best friends playing against each other for cash. Excuse me for saying this but I think it's a poor idea and I never do it. Most people play poker for blood. That means you do everything legal to win the pot. This sometimes requires check-raising or using other devious devices to secure the chips in the middle of the table. How can you do that with a clear conscience when the person competing with you for the prize is a member of your family or a best friend?

A drunken cowboy of Tombstone

One of the most colorful towns in Arizona is Tombstone, site of the shootout at the O.K. Corral. The blazing gunfight between Sheriff Wyatt Earp, his brother, Doc Holiday, the Clantons and the McLaury brothers has been memorialized in films, novels and books. The town still has remnants of the past, including a wooden sidewalk, saloons, and even an ancient rosebush. My parents visited me in Phoenix in the 1970s I decided to drive them to Tombstone, nicknamed 'The Town Too Tough to Die.' Our day-long visit there turned out to be memorable.

Willie Nelson tours again

Few people reflect the American spirit as well as Willie Nelson. Wearing his traditional stars and stripes bandana, the grizzled cowboy vocalist comes on stage and in his raspy voice belts out 'On The Road Again' and other standards that have made him famous across our great land. Every time I hear him sing that song, my spine tingles and I feel the urge to travel.

A small town game of poker

There is nothing like a small town restaurant to bring back the pleasures and memories of the past. I think people go to those cafes for more than the food. There they meet old friends, talk about old times, laugh over shared experiences, suffer along with a friend who has lost a loved one, and generally life as it happens. The favorite cafe gathering place in my hometown of Sutersville, PA., population 983, is Miller's Place. It sits on the downtown main street where a dozen businesses still operate along a river where coal barges once floated carrying coal to Pittsburgh and other destinations.

The power of choice

One of the problems facing a poker player has to do with judgment. Best-selling author Og Mandino said every individual needed to deal with four rules in order to lead a good overcoming life. Mandino is recognized as one of the greatest motivational writers who ever lived. His many books sold countless millions of copies around the world. His rules for life were summed up in something he called the God Memorandum. The rules were Count Your Blessings Daily, Go The Extra Mile Always, Proclaim Your Rarity, and Use Wisely Your Powers of Choice.

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