Long Time No See

So here I sit re-reading my blog, some of which I hardly remember writing.  I now realize I have not entered any new tales of life for quite some time–and never before on an IPad. Not being the best “typist” in the first place, I find the iPad inconvenient to use, but, ironically, convenient to hold while I put some words to this post.

I am almost 80 now. My gosh that is old, at least older than I thought I would ever be. I was around 14 or so when my dad, Louis, died. I probably told this story before, but old people are allowed to repeat themselves. Old people are allowed to repeat themselves. When he died, I was told he died at age 48. How young! What I discovered in later years was that he was years older than that.  Fact is he had lied to get a lower rate on his life insurance policy. So, his gravestone reads incorrectly. Growing up I always thought 50 was old. After all, my dad died around that age. Anyway, when I made it to 50 I felt I reached a milestone of sorts. Now I may see 80, wow!

I cannot discuss end of life, because I am really enjoying life too much. Cindy keeps me happy and on the move. We are moving into a new home with more comforts for the aging, but not the infirmed, mind you. Though we are both overweight, we function on our own.  We see our grandkids often and try to be part of their lives. In addition to new home– moving in a few weeks, we rented a cute one- bedroom apartment in Heather and Nate’s Brooklyn house, putting us closer to them and their three sweeties, Maya, Simon, and Saillor and, of course, in a-little-more-than walking-distance to Zach and Jenn and our youngest grandchild sweet Sol. We were lucky this summer, we got to see our west-coast grandchildren (hardly kids anymore), Matthew and Jordan. So, life is good.

Both cindy and I are looking forward to New York visits, hoping to see not only family and friends, but shows, concerts, museums.  I know, too much fuckin’ culture. Oh, well!

If you were looking for something exciting or comical in this blog, I have disappointed you. That is the bad news. The good news is that I am blogging again. So, stay tuned while I compose my thoughts and pen some interesting stories or games.



I came up with this game in November of this year.  From its outset, it has gotten lots of action.  Not only am I dealing it, but as many as four other players are dealing it as well. It plays well with up to nine players.

It is simple to deal; simple to play!

Each player receives three cards face-down. Three common cards, face-up, are then placed in the center of the table.                                                   
Players may use  ONE of the three (A, B, or C) cards along with their three hole-cards.
There is a round of betting.
Each player then receives one card face-up. Players may use their three hole cards and their face-up card with ONE of the three (A, B, or C) cards.
There is a round of betting.
Each player then receives another card face-up. Players may use their three hole cards and their two face-up cards with ONE of the three (A, B, or C) cards.
There is a round of betting.
Then a final common card  D is placed face-up on the board.
The board now shows A    C  
Players may use their three hole cards and their two face-up cards with D   plus ONE of the three (A, B, or C) cards.
There is a final round of betting.
This is a non-declare game.  However, there are conditions required to qualify for a winning hand.
Conditions: Two-pair-or-better for high hand splits the pot with best  low hand (any low can win). (If  no player has two pair or better, best low hand takes entire pot.)
Players may use one A  B or C card for high hand and another (or the same) card for low hand.
Basically each player has five of his or her own cards (three,  face-down; two, face-up), one common card, D, plus either A, B, or C — making a seven-card hand. Best five-card hands (of seven-cards available)  win. It is not a requirement that players must use common cards.
GAME: Thirty-Three

It’s Been A While

Just the other night a friend mentioned that I must have given-up on my blog. Another friend jumped in with, “Yeah. What’s up with that?” “No,” I answered.  “It’s just been on hiatus.”  

Moreover, maybe I’m the one who has been on hiatus.   What’s wrong with me! 

Sometime between my last post (in May) and now I came to the realization that my status in life has changed.  I didn’t have to complete any forms or even advise the government. It took a while for me to be cognizant of my new-found status. It’s been like forever that I’ve had a job or owned my own business.  Whenever anyone asked me what I did (As in, “What do you do for a living?”), I always responded with a job description or title; most recently with, “I’m working part-time for a friend.”

Now I am not working.  Now I am not looking for a job. I guess I would start a business if the right situation presented itself, but, basically, I am retired.  There, I have made it official.  Since I have come to this realization, I have become more relaxed about life–more casual in my day-to-day activities. David’s busy day is hardly busy at all. I’m happy with that status. 

The sixth of next month (December), Cindy and I will have celebrated forty years of marriage.  Now that’s an accomplishment of which I am proud. Occasionally, Cindy goes off to work or works from home. So, we spend most every day together. Except for the few nights a week I  play poker, Cindy and I are home (or traveling, though not enough).   As I am writing this, I am sitting ion my livingroom watching the sun set. Our cat is snuggling on my right. Our dog is sleeping beneath the piano. In front of me are framed pictures of my family and friends.  My heart is full of love for Cindy. So, retirement is good–life is good, status–excellent.

Deja Vu in Vegas

In May of this year, 2010, I was just in Las Vegas for four days.  Four of my friends and I had the best time yet.  We go every year. Every year we have a ball–poker and laughs all day and most of the night.  Though we slept at Harrah’s, we spent most of our waking hours playing poker at The Venetian, just a few doors away.

The Venetian has the perfect mix of both Hold ’em and Omaha.  Most of the guys play $1-$2 No-Limit, Hold ’em. I play mostly Omaha Hi-Lo. With a modicum of success, I’ve tried to ween a few over to Omaha.  The Venetian seems to have taken over as the Poker Mecca, not because of the size of their poker room, but because of their goal to be the dominant  poker venue in Las Vegas.

We played a little at the Wynn, where the crowd is a little haughtier; the room a little smaller.  Primarily, we went there to play in their Wednesday noon Omaha tournament, which ended up being much smaller than anticipated–just twenty participants.  Four of the twenty were us. So, right off the bat, we had a 20% chance of finishing in the money. After about five hours, I was the money leader. Rather than keep playing, I agreed to split the prize pool with three others, none of whom were of our quartet.  My $120 buy-in netted me a profit of $365 (collecting $485 for my five hours of play).

The other guys left town.  I was scheduled to fly out on Friday morning at 6:00 A.M.  I saw that there was an Omaha Hi-Lo tourney at The Orleans at 7:00 P.M. on Thursday.   I left the Venetian where I was playing $4-$8 Omaha Hi-Lo and not faring too well.  In about six hours I took half of only one pot and a quarter of two others–quite a costly session. The Orleans tourney was a $75 buy-in. I figured, even if I failed to come in, in the money, I would limit my exposure to $75 and get to bed at a reasonable time.

So, I hopped into a cab and traveled to The Orleans.  I signed up for the tourney.   There were 75 participants.  I appeared to be among the early chip leaders.  With seven places being paid, I managed to make it to the final table of ten.  Not wishing to go into all the details, I played smart and made it to fifth place, yielding me $345 for my $75 investment.  At 1:15 A.M., I hailed a cab and headed to Harrah’s.

There was no traffic.  We made it to Las Vegas Boulevard in five minutes or so. The cab turned left on Las Vegas Boulevard. Very shortly we were at that fatal corner where the accident of 2006 occurred. I am still haunted by the calamity of the evening and of the needless death of a friend I had met just a few days before. Now, the accident, the chaos, the catastrophe of four years ago came to life.  Actually, it was all bigger than life. While the cab waited for the light to change, to my right two men in electric scooters (similar to the one my friend was using when he was killed) crossed the intersection.  If that was not ironic enough, to my left, in front of Caesar’s Palace, was a huge billboard featuring Jerry Seinfeld coming July 23.  The video billboard was blaring just as loud as it did the night of the accident.  It was all too bizarre.  It could have been a dream–worse yet, it was real.

Draw to Five

Lots of action here!  Plays well with up to nine players. This is a hi-lo, 8-or-better, non-declare game.  This game was a mainstay of the Wednesday night game, in which I play, long before I joined the game. 

Since there are only three betting rounds, (optional) I suggest each player ante.
Each player receives three cards face-down; one card face-up.  There is a round of betting.
Three community cards are then turned face-up in the center of the table. There is a round of betting.
Each player is then entitled to receive one additional face-down card.  If player wants to discard one of his or her cards, player may receive a second card.  Player will receive an up-card, if an up-card is being replaced, or a down -card, if a down-card is being replaced.  Either way, each remaining player has four down-cards and one up-card.
There is a final round of betting.
Using your five card individual hand plus three common cards (eight cards in all), form your best five-card hand.
Best high hand splits the pot with best low hand.
GAME: Draw to Five

Having served as general manager and executive vice president of Brands Mart, a division of Allbrands Appliance and Television, Inc., I left as soon as they filed for Chapter Eleven bankruptcy. Brands Mart was good to me and let me do things my way. We offered extremely competitive prices on TV’s, audio equipment, and major appliances. Brands Mart was unique. To shop at a Brands Mart showroom, one required a membership card. The cards were free and available only through organizations, companies, unions, and such. I came up with a unique concept by accepting college ID as a form of admittance. (There was no Costco, no Sam’s Club, nor BJ’s.)

When I joined the company in 1968 or 1969, Brands Mart was one, closed-door showroom in Long Island City, New York. When I left, they were a major factor in the northeast with branches in New York in Long Island City, Deer Park, and Manhattan. In addition there were three branches in New England in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

My responsibilities including opening their Boston branch for them on Friend Street. The Friend Street location soon outgrew itself, and I opened their most successful branch, a 40,000 sq. ft. showroom in Cambridge on what was then a little known location, Smith Place. Soon after we opened, the entire Fresh-Pond section of Cambridge became vitalized. A Burger King soon opened at the corner of Smith Place. Brands Mart became the Mecca for off-price electronics. We became active in sponsoring major fund-raising events and yearly hosted the Brands Mart 5k in conjunction with the American Heart Association. Sidebar: The first Brands Mart 5k was won byAlberto Salazar, who went on to set a course record and win the Boston Marathon in 1982.

I was able to attract students from all over the metropolitan Boston area by advertising in all the college newspapers. Eventually, I spent most of my time as their director of advertising, running the advertising programs for all six Brands Mart locations (and for a partially owned division in Miami). I became familiar with all aspects of media, managing a $3,000,0000 annual budget in print, radio, and television, even dablling in the creative aspect from time to time.

Through Boston contacts, I became extremely familiar with some of the local publications catering to the desirable 18-40, male demographics. So, when Brands Mart filed for bankruptcy in 1979, I was approached by one of the weekly publications, “The Real Paper,” to join their staff as co-publisher. “The Real Paper” was definitely the weaker of the two major weekly publications in Boston. Yet, through both paid-for and free distribution, we boasted a weekly publication of 100,000.

Knowing little about the inner workings of publishing, I learned on the job. The paper was struggling when I joined their ranks. I was brought on, primarily, to use my contacts with major TV and audio manufacturers to garner some of their lucrative coop advertising budgets and oversee the sales department and strengthen the management team.

I became involved with all aspects of the newspaper. “The Real Paper” was a fun place to work (and learn). The staff was a compilation of both neophytes, learning the trade, and talented, accomplished writers. Over the years, “The Real Paper” was home to renown writers and reviewers like Joe Klein, Mark Devlin, Stephen Schiff, Monica Collins, Arthur Friedman, David Ansen, Mark Zanger, Jon Landau and so many others, who moved-on to bigger and better careers.

“The Real Paper” was more of a factor in earlier years, when music reviewers could make their own mark when new sounds and voices were setting the stage for the future of music for the younger generations. In a prophetic 1974 article, Jon Landau wrote “… tonight there is someone I can write of the way I used to write, without reservations of any kind. Last Thursday, at the  Harvard Square theatre, I saw my rock’n’roll past flash before my eyes. And I saw something else: I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time. When his two-hour set ended I could only think, can anyone really be this good; can anyone say this much to me, can rock’n’roll still speak with this kind of power and glory? And then I felt the sores on my thighs where I had been pounding my hands in time for the entire concert and knew that the answer was yes.”

“The Real Paper” rebounded for a very short time, but it could never compete with the major weekly in town, “The Boston Phoenix.” “The Real Paper” staff was not as hungry or as aggressive as “The Boston Phoenix,” which flourished while “The Real Paper” floundered. The owners of “The Real Paper” included some prominent investors, who had their own motives for keeping the publication alive. One such investor was David Rockefeller, Jr., who held senior-staff meetings at his Cambridge, Craigie Street residence. Why he needed the financial burden of “The Real Paper” was never made clear to me, but due to his support (and that of other investors), the paper continued to exist. (When I left the paper, I was pleased to have a letter of recommendation from him.)

“The Real Paper” had a very strong local presence devoting itself to community-based cultural efforts as well as the arts. Along with “The Boston Phoenix,” “The Real Paper” published a weekly calendar of events that kept the metropolitan area aware of all the concerts (major and minor), all the shows, all the movies, all the sporting events, and all the art exhibits. Since there was no Internet, one needed a newspaper to keep abreast of all the many arts activities of this vibrant area.

These newspapers formed the voice for all those who had something to advertise in the “Personals” section. “Personals” and “Arts and Entertainment” were the focuses, but some of the political viewpoints and causes were reason enough to attract the interest not only of readers, but of political pundits. Throughout the country “underground newspapers,” more aptly described as ”alternative newspapers,“ like “The Chicago Reader,” “The Village Voice,” “The Boston Phoenix,” and “The Real Paper” were popular forums for the counter-culture revolution that was occurring.

There were cliques within departments, but, mostly, we were a friendly group who socialized both in and out of the workplace. Two-to-three beer lunches at Plough and Stars across from our offices on Mass. Avenue were commonplace. Many meetings occurred there. Real work was actually accomplished. Of course there is a history of too much inter-socialization that occurred long before I joined the staff– like when the associate publisher’s wife moved in with the associates publisher’s closest friend, who was also the paper’s publisher. No scandals like that when I was there.

Readers of this blog may wonder what any of this has to do with playing poker. For my entire tenure at the “Real Paper ” (when it was purchased by “The Boston Phoenix” in June of 1981), I played no poker at all. One of the players in the Thursday night game in which I regularly played prior to joining the “Real Paper,” resented my joining “The Real Paper” and applied pressure with the other players to keep me out of the game. It was not until after I left “The Real Paper” that I re-joined the Thursday night group.


This game is really an “old reliable.”  It was around long before I joined the Wednesday night game. The game plays best with six, seven, or eight players.  We play with nine sometimes, occasionally using some previously mucked cards. When we are short a full table of players, I deal FIVE TWO, DRAW TWO often.  Since we usually have nine or ten players, the game does not get enough play.  However, when dealt, it gets plenty of action.  Since there are not many betting rounds, I suggest that each player ante–but that depends on your house rules.

The game is played non-declare, hi-lo, eight or better.

Each player receives five cards, face down. There is a round of betting.
Two common cards are then turned face-up in the center of the table.  There is a round of betting.
Then, each player gets an opportunity to play his/her five cards or to replace one or two cards. There is a final round of betting.
Using your five card individual hand plus both common cards (seven cards in all), form your best five-card hand.
Best high hand splits pot with best low hand.
GAME: Five Two, Draw Two


Recently, a friend of mine lent me a book entitled “New Poker Games” by Mike Caro.  Since this book was originally published in 1984, the word new is now probably irrelevant.  Nonetheless, most of the games in the book were new to me.  A few of the games looked quite challenging, but I have yet to suggest any of these games to fellow players in any of the home games in which I play.

The game I found most intriguing was a game Mike Caro called Tic Tac Hold ’em.  Like Hold ’em, it can be played with many participants.  Mike Caro rates this game as complexity, “medium to great;” luck factor, “medium.”

In Tic Tac Hold ’em, each player is dealt two face-down cards as in Hold ’em. Then nine common cards are placed  in the center of the table:

                                            C    D    E
                                            A    I   B
                                           F   G   H
Cards A and B are face-up; the others, face-down.  There is an initial round of betting.
Then, cards C D E are turned face-up. There is another round of betting.
Then, cards F G H are turned face-up. There is another round of betting.
Then, card I is turned face-up. There is a final round of betting.
Players may use the two cards from their hand with any of the following combination of cards (Think of Tic Tac Toe.):  Any three in a row, in a column, or diagonally.  That’s it–like Hold ’em with many more variables.

Every so often, one of our poker-playing group hosts an evening of $1-$2, No-Limit Hold ’em.  He gets more than 25 players and manages a very professional three-table tournament.   As losers drop out, they form a cash game.  Other than that, Hold ’em gets little or no action in our home poker games.  I have not (as yet)introduced Tic Tac Hold ’em.  So, I decided to experiment with the Tic Tac Hold ’em concept and developed Tic Tac Dough, an Omaha hi-lo (with a little twist) version.

Tic Tac Dough 

Each player receives four cards, face-down. Then nine common cards are placed in the center of the table:

                                            C    D    E
                                            A    I   B
                                           F   G   H
Cards A and B are face-up; the others, face-down.  There is an initial round of betting.
Then, cards C D E are turned face-up. There is another round of betting.
Then, cards F G H are turned face-up. There is another round of betting.
Then, card I is turned face-up. There is a final round of betting.
Players must use only two cards (of their four) from their hand with any of the following combination of cards (Think of Tic Tac Toe.):  Any three in a row, in a column, or diagonally.  Best five-card, high-hand splits with best five-card, 8-or-better  low-hand. 
Now, for the twist!  Though two cards from player’s hand may and must be always used for the high hand, there is a possibility for player to use three cards from his/her hand for low.  If there is no possible 8-or-better low-hand combination to be formed by using two cards in player’s hand and three cards on the table, then, player may use three cards in his/her hand and two cards in a row, in a column, or diagonally.  Of course, if there are not two or three low cards in a row, column, or a diagonal; then, there is no low hand possible.
Though the game gets plenty of action, it has not gained much popularity.


It was a simple game.  Probably still is. We just don’t play it anymore.  This game was in effect long before I joined the on-going Thursday night game, that was the first weekly poker game I became part of since moving to Massachusetts in 1970. FIVE-TWO-C was the mainstay of the game. Each hand seemed to take an eternity to play, since, after all cards were dealt and replacement cards were distributed, there was a declaration round followed by yet  another round of betting.  How long it took to play each hand was secondary to the yucks and camaraderie of this game in its earlier years.  There was an interesting mix of players. A few were excellent; the majority just there to have a great night with the boys. No wonder we didn’t care about how long it took to play a hand, game had no definite quitting time–going sometimes past 4:00 A. M.

FIVE-TWO-C is basically a five-card stud game with a common and two replaces after all cards have been dealt. [Hence, five (cards dealt to each player), two (replacement cards), and a common (community card).] It is a declare game as well, increasing the chances that there could be an additional round of betting after the declare.

Each player receives one card down and one card up.  There is a round of betting.
Each player then receives another card face-up. There is another round of betting.
Then, there is a common card. There is another round of betting.
Each player then receives a card face-up. There is another round of betting.
Each player then receives a face-down, fifth card of his/her own. There is another round of betting.
Then, each player has the opportunity to exchange a card for a new one. There is another betting round.
There is then another opportunity to replace a card.  There is another round of betting.
Then there is a declaration round.  Best high hand splits pot with best low hand.
There are seven rounds of betting before declaration. Game generates large pots, especially if players must pay for their replacement cards.

 It was the fall of 2006. Though the individuals were not all the same, it was our group’s second visit to Las Vegas. All of us were poker players. Some of us had gone in May, 2006 as well, frolicking and echoing lines from “Animal House”–though years past our prime.

The fall, 2006 trip included six, of which five were from the Wednesday night poker game in which I played. The sixth, a good friend of a few of the other attendees and brother-in-law of one as well, was a guy I had never before met. I had heard his name mentioned in various humorous stories. He used to play in a long-running poker game–a previous incarnation of our Wednesday night game. It was a pleasure to meet him. He exuded friendship. His round, full face seemed to have a perennial smile. We immediately started to bond. While old stories were being repeated, new tales were being spun. This tale is as memorable as he was. Rather than use actual names, I’ll call him Gill.

We were staying at Harrahs. Harrahs is certainly not one of the fancier venues in Las Vegas, but it sure is well located. In addition, Harrahs has always gone out of its way to make us feel welcome. Always great dinners at The Range Steakhouse! This particular night at Harrahs, we pigged-out on many great appetizers and then so many tasty main courses. We enjoyed them all while we laughed and drank at Ming’s Table. The good times and laughs continued as we all wended our way to Caesars Palace to play poker.

Las Vegas is a Mecca for billboards. It’s a Mecca for a myriad of neon lights. Loud jokes and song and music boom from marquees. As you cross Las Vegas Boulevard you are aware not only of all the hustle and bustle of the street, but of all the lights and all the noise from extravagant billboards. Each hotel, each casino competing to outdo the other–a cacophony of sight and sound. Outside Caesars Palace, their billboard featured Jerry Seinfeld, including some Jerry Seinfeld humor. The dialog boomed, yet it seemed to drift into the night air along with all the lights and the fountain sprays and the cigarette smoke.

The poker room at Caesars was unusually quiet. Management was kind enough to open a $5-$10, hi-lo Omaha table for us. At first it was just our group. Then, we were joined by others. To Caesars surprise, they had an actual Omaha game going. We cajoled and socialized with other players, who would come and go from the table. Every so often one of us would disappear for awhile and run off to shoot Craps or play Black Jack. While two of the group returned to Harrahs, four of us remained at Caesars, playing-on past 1:00 A.M. or so.

By the time we were ready to leave Caesars Palace, the night air had turned chilly. The four of us were anxious to make our way back to Harrahs as fast as possible. Three of us were walking back. The fourth, Gill, whose knee was more pained from recent surgery than he had anticipated, was headed back on a motorized wheelchair-scooter he had rented. .


We had come all the way from Caesars to Las Vegas Boulevard. One of the group was still waiting to cross. One of us had traversed the treacherous street. Gill, on his scooter, was just about at the center island of the boulevard. I was about halfway across the first section of the boulevard when I saw a speeding car traveling along the lane closest to the center island. This car just recklessly whizzed-by in front of me as I turned my head to the right and saw the vehicle racing along, headed directly for Gill on his scooter, not yet safely on the center island.

The impact was fierce and unforgettable. The horror is not to be described here. It was immediately apparent how close Gill and his brother-in-law must have been. One could feel all the true affection they had for each other. Their family ties interspersed with their business ties which interspersed with their long, on-going friendship–demonstrating that we become relatives by chance; friends by choice. This catastrophe has effected all of us. Too often I relive the events of this needless killing of this very vibrant man.

We were there for hours. A few witnesses gathered. Police arrived. Las Vegas Boulevard was closed during the lengthy investigation. The wanton, inebriated driver was taken into custody. Caesars Palace security showed up. Caesars Palace management team showed up. There was nothing they would deny us. They brought out blankets for us and the witnesses. They brought us hot coffee and cold drinks. They went out of their way to comfort us. Yes, Harrahs and Caesars are part of the same corporate conglomerate, but their personnel appeared to be trained in compassionate care-giving for the public. They offered to make phone calls for us. They offered us an inside comfort area, which we declined.

Through all this tragedy and sadness, Jerry Seinfeld’s comedic remarks kept booming through the chilling air. The humor was just out of place. We all were grieving and dealing with this shock and calamity. The constant recycling of the same Jerry Seinfeld routine was just an inappropriate interference. When Caesars management asked if there was anything else they could do for us, I said “yes” and requested that they please mute the Jerry Seinfeld sign.

The somberness befitting the tragic events finally quieted the impending morning dawn.