Chasing Snow, Days 20-23

Friday it snowed all day and we hung around the house. I worked in the afternoon and we played a few game of Settlers of Catan. I played the UBOC event, busted quickly, and we just relaxed most of the day.

Saturday there were two morning UBOC events, one of them being the $1k heads-up. I tortured my opponent but he ran hotter than me and I busted in the first round. I busted the other event quickly too, sigh, and we packed up to head to Beaver Creek.

My buddy Billy (cancer survivor, formerly of the money factory in San Diego and now of Chicago, who I stayed with there on the Great Ride) is a helluva skier and is spending a couple of weeks in this awesome house with his bud Martin. This house is ridiculous, three levels, six bedrooms, big deck with a jacuzzi overlooking Beaver Creek.

Sunday I played online all day and ran like Death to a car bombing in Baghdad.

Monday we hit the slopes in Vail, stoked to ride ten fresh inches. We met their buddy Sam and skied hard all day. I’m getting old and they’re young and kicked my butt all over the mountain. Halfway through the day they had me jumping off cliffs, which I’ve never done, but with ten inches of fresh powder I’ll try anything. It was fun, nothing like a constructed hit in a park but just as awesome in it’s own right. We quit sometime around two, I was bushed, and we headed home.

I had a sandwich with a banana, soaked in the hot tub, took a nap, and then woke up for the evening session. I made a deep run in the UBOC 9, $109 LHE, was top ten most of the tourney, chip leader with nine left, and busted eighth. The wheels on the bus just fell off, my better hands never held, and I went to bed frustrated.

One for ten. Not how I envisioned things going. Good thing we’re only halfway through.

Peace and good luck,


Chasing Snow, Days 17-19

Tuesday Shelley, Dave, and myself headed over to the ranch and met Dean, one of Dave’s neighbors (across the street and down two houses, about a mile walk through the woods). Dave taught us how to catch horses so we could take them into the corral and saddle them. I’ve ridden a fair amount, but I’ve never gotten to work directly with the horses. Like a kid in a candy store I gleefully walked into the pasture as forty head of horses looked at me, the bag of grain in my left hand, and a halter in my right hand.

So, wait… I’m supposed to catch a horse. Dave says all you gotta do is get the lead rope from the halter around their neck and you got ‘em. The problem is that horses know what that thing in my right hand is. I was instructed to catch Blaze. But Blaze didn’t want to get caught. Dave was going to catch Mariah, but she wasn’t having none of that gettin’ caught stuff either. It really was quite amusing. Horses that you didn’t want to catch would materialize behind you and be like, “Sup,” while the horse you wanted to catch didn’t want to get caught and would stay just far enough away so that you would continue pursuit.

The weather was gnarly that afternoon. We finally got four horses caught, and I ended up with Rebekkah, the “Caddilac.” She was a big girl who liked to fart in Shelley’s general direction. Off for a walk in the pasture we go, and this one black horse is following my horse around. I find it amusing. It snows good, then it stops, standard Colorado weather, and then Rebekkah jumps. I’m like, “What the?!?” I see the black horse between me and the rest of my party, ears back, and Rebekkah doesn’t like it. She responds to my commands to turn and try and get around this horse, but he won’t let me, and I don’t know horses well enough to know what’s going on. All I know is that I don’t want to get ejected by a pissed off horse. The black horse herds Rebekkah and I back to the central horse hangout. Dave is hollering instructions, but I can’t hear him through the wind and the snow. Things aren’t bad, I just can’t get my horse to go where I want it to go, and there’s a pissed off black horse making sure that I can’t get her to do what I want her to do.

Turns out she’s in heat and he’s in love.

So we take them back into the corral, remove the hackamores, saddles, pads, and halters, the whole time the black horse hanging his head over the fence watching us. It was a good afternoon.


That evening Dave and I headed up to Cripple Creek to play some cards. 30 miles of dirt roads to Canon City, 15 miles along the Arkansas River, and then another 30 some odd miles up the southwestern foothills of Pikes Peak until we reached the mining town revived by gambling in the last fifteen years. Took us two hours each way and it was great. We played a bit, played the tournament, both lost, caught up with several staff members that I worked with when I propped there in 2003, and had a good time.

Wednesday morning we got up early enough to drive out to Monarch Ski Area, hoping that there’d be some fresh snow. It was sunny and beautiful here. We drove through Custer County to Cotapaxi on the Arkansas, northwest to Salida, and then west on the 50 up into Monarch Pass. As we started gaining elevation we also gained clouds and snow on the ground, and by the time we parked, with the forty or so other cars in the empty parking lot, it was snowing. They got three inches overnight and were expecting another three throughout the day. It rarely stopped snowing, except for the occasional two minutes of sunshine that is customary for snowstorms in the high country.

It’s a dang good thing that there was fresh snow because I’ve finally gotten my jumping legs under me in the last couple of weeks. The first kicker I hit was nice and smooth, and I was feeling great about jumping today. Shortly after lunch we hit the big terrain park. I took the first jump perfect, skipped the rails and boxes because I have no clue what to do on or with them since they didn’t exist when I was nuts on skis thirteen years ago, and lined up for the next table top with kicker.

I hit it waaaaay too hard.

When I passed the back edge of the table top, I was still climbing, moving forward, and rotating to my left. Now the ground is falling away from me. This thought went through my head: “Sigh. … I’m glad I bought health insurance.”

I came down landing on my side from at least ten feet in the air. It knocked the wind out of me a bit, I thought I might have cracked a rib or two, but after ten seconds or so I was thankful to realize that there wasn’t anything major wrong. I sidestepped up the hill to retrieve my ski that had fallen off, and finished the run ending at the lodge at the bottom. I’m sure somebody got a good kick out of that show. I really think if I didn’t have that several inches of fresh powder I would have hurt myself good, so I’m very thankful that it decided to snow when it did.

Thursday I woke up, worked in the morning, and then headed to the ranch with Dave to feed some horses. Knock roll of hay onto it’s side, tie rope around roll and attach to hitch, drag into pasture telling horses to git, cut off retaining mesh, roll blue feeding ring around hay roll, repeat. Forty horses eat a lot of hay in the winter.

After that chore was done, Dave and I went for a ride. We spent a few hours wandering around the hills surrounding the ranch. Somewhere toward the end of it all I asked him if I could come work for him for free after the Series, and he said yes. I may just take him up on it.

The Ultimate Bet UBOC is underway, the first three events in the books already. I think I’ve lasted a combined two hours in the three of them. Better than bubbling. I’ll be playing every event, come catch the action it’s a good week for tournaments.

Peace and good luck,


Chasing Snow, Days 13-16

We decided to stay an additional day in Steamboat because Keller Williams was playing Friday night. That, and it’s just an awesome town. Keller put on a great show as always, this being the third time that I had seen him, and he did the solo act which is always cool. On stage there’s an electric guitar and bass on stands, a keyboard, electric percussion instrument, a mic, and a sound board. Keller comes out with his acoustic guitar to drive most of the songs, goes for a bit, records a loop, and then begins recording loops over the acoustic rhythm until he has quite a groove going. He then jams, and it is seamless. Keller lived in Steamboat for six years, and thus both Keller and the crowd were very much into the show. It was excellent.

Saturday we disappointingly ended up staying at the Antlers Hilton downtown instead of my buddy’s place. Furthermore, another one of my bud’s was having a birthday party that the entire (small) community of people that I lived with here in 2003-05 would be at. Shelley’s Ravens were also playing their playoff game. I was planning on watching that with her, then meeting up with everybody else afterwards. Turns out that even after being invited we weren’t really invited. Pretty brutal honestly. I felt very much unwelcome in a town that I used to live in with a group of people that I used to be very close with. I don’t get it honestly and am quite hurt over it, but we ended up having a great night anyways.

My still good buddy and former roommate Travis came up from Pueblo to watch the game with us, the Ravens sadly lost, and Travo got a call from his buddy up in Denver inviting us up to their home game, 5 cent – 10 cent $10 max NLHE. We made the drive up the 25, had a great night, and they were all very eager to “beat the pro” and then celebrate every pot (which was most) in which they did so. It was a very fun night, and it was good to finally meet that group of Travis’ friends, one of whom he named his son after.

Sunday I played online, ran like a quadriplegic through mud, made a deep run in the FTP million, and busted to Bax. Ugh Sundays.

Monday we had lunch, checked out the Garden of the Gods, and then headed out to Dave and Michelle’s ranch near Westcliffe in Custer County. I worked with Dave and Michelle at Peak 3 in the summer of 03 and have maintained friendships with them. After Peak 3 folded they bought the business end of the ranch, running horseback pack trips in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. This range is fantastic and the most magnificent range of mountains that I have ever experienced. It’s where Peak 3 was based out of, it holds South Colony Basin which is my favorite place in the world, and is simply a wonderful place. The ranch has somewhere between 40 and 45 horses on it and they run all kinds of pack trips out of here. They bought a piece of the ranch and some property to build a house on which we’re staying at this week, and I’m getting a taste of a lifestyle I’ve always wanted to experience. Living on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, working with horses, and enjoying life slow. I’m stoked. We’re hitting Monarch on Wednesday, and supposedly there’s supposed to be some snow coming in, which is very much needed.


Peace and good luck,


Chasing Snow, Days 10-12

After exploring a bit of town Monday night and meeting Jamesifer, we hit the slopes late enough to just pay for a half day. I’m fine with this. I was somewhat envisioning the actual chasing of fresh snow across Colorado, but the entire state’s gotten like six inches since before we left home. Snow conditions have gotten progressively worse since we’ve been here, but it’s been sunny every single day.

Steamboat is a pretty cool mountain, possibly my favorite thus far. They have many open glades of Aspen and Spruce rather than the dense conifer forests found at many other ski areas in the state. There are excellent tree runs all over the mountain, at many different pitches, and some sweet hike-to extreme terrain off the back side of the summit. We headed up there on Tuesday afternoon:


We ski’d down the backside, navigated a cliff, and then cruised through the trees back to the populated side of the mountain. It was super cool, just all the snow was old and tracked up. Let it snow FFS!

That night James and Jen took us to the hot springs in town, where James happens to work, so we got the VIP experience: free entry, no bag check, and the privilege of driving down the hill an additional hundred yards. I really want to check out the place in the daylight and might do that today; it seemed like the perfect blend between keeping it natural and commercializing it a bit. I would prefer it left alone, but I suppose it being so close to a town and so easily accessible would lead to people abusing it eventually. We soaked until about midnight, an incredible moonless and cloudless starry night over our heads.

Wednesday consisted of working/being lazy during the day. I put in about 3 hours and a dozen sit-n-go’s on Ultimate Bet, took care of some other business stuff, Shelley did some laundry, and we poked around downtown a bit. I like the town, not too big, not too small, and there’s an airport nearby, unfortunately it doesn’t fly direct to Vegas. That evening James and Jen picked us up for an evening of goodness. We dropped the girls off downtown who were meeting more girls so they could do whatever it is that girls do when they gaggle, and James took me to the local weekly tournament with cash game after.

We walked into this office building, and in the back room there were three tables set up. I bought in for $24, was handed t100 chips (10 white, 7 red, 3 black (dimes), 1 green). For the first hour I could rebuy for $20 and get t50 chips. No add-ons. Standard goofy home game rules. I busted shortly in the second table, just in time to start the cash game.

Rules: $1 ante per player, dealer’s choice (casino games only), and dealer chooses the limit. Some picked $10 limit (thus it was 1-10 spread). I almost always picked PLO something since it gives the most positional advantage, plus we can make the pot bigger. It turns out that I’m really good at “five card double flop PLO8.” It also turns out that you can make goofy multi-flop/split-pot rules and have it still be a casino game. One of them they played was double flop no-limit hold’em, where “the two best hands split the pot.” I’m still not sure WTF that means, but on one hand I had him crushed, but he had the 2nd best hand so got half the pot. I was 3 Breckenridge Avalanches and 5 Dale’s Pale Ales in at this point so the details are fuzzy.

James warned me that the crowd might be a little bitter. The later the night got, the more the piles of cash in front of us grew, and the more bitter those losing said cash got. We played until it was about time to go find the gaggle, and then in one hand of 5-card double flop PLO8, you can imagine the mess of cards about the table, I returned my hand to the dealer aiming for his muck pile, which was near the stub that was unprotected, and missed. I didn’t miss bad, but it was slightly questionable as to what the top card was, with four burns, two turns, and two rivers to go. The guy dealing lost his mind at me. Berating me like I tried to kill his hand. I can tolerate this for about 90 seconds. In the confusion of trying to decide what to do, I was like sorry, I missed, chill out, somebody sticks the five of spades in my face and asks “Was this one of your cards?” I say no, but wtf, it’s five card double flop pot-limit Omaha eight or better, you really expect me to remember the cards that I just mucked with old man bitter-face berating me because it’s my fault he’s lighting money on fire? Whatever. They get the rest of the cards out, bitter-face’s 267TQ badugi doesn’t make a winner on two boards, what a bad beat, and it’s my fault. 90 seconds had expired, I was about to lose my mind, so I quit. This isn’t fun anymore.

“I quit.”
“Yeah, you do that,” says bitter face.
Good one dude.

James and I found the girls with almost $700 of their money in our pockets.

Thursday we slept in a bit, hit the slopes at noon, and had a good lazy afternoon. There was even more ice than on Tuesday and we’re starting to need snow pretty bad. One bump run we did had sticks sticking up out of every between bump spot. We came back, Shelley napped, and then we headed over to the first show for the Ski-Jam (winter music festival coincidentally here while we are) opening night, and got to see The Wailers (as in Bob Marley and the) in a small venue for $20 each. They were great. The opening band, Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights, was also very strong, southern rock/blues/jam-band ish.


Peace and good luck,


Chasing Snow, Days 6-9

Friday when we arrived in Breckenridge I was a bit puzzled that we were being sent to a Ski Rental shop to check-in. I had talked to one of the local lodging dudes, explained that I’m interested in a king bed, somewhere walking distance to the place to be at night, and at least walking distance to the bus up the hill. It usually works great, because when you don’t know anything about the place and you tell the people who do what you want, it gets done.

Things are more expensive in Breck, and I understand this, so ended up paying $169 for a studio with a Murphy (the one that goes in the wall) bed and ski-in/ski-out. I should have taken pictures. The TV was one of those 13″ white/VCR combo’s. It had “cable”, but NBC and FOX came in snowy which made watching football a bit disappointing. The bedding was insulting. The fitted sheet didn’t fit, and one of us ended up lying on mattress by the morning. The sheets and blanket were somewhere between hospital and prison quality. Everything else was meh, but whatever, to be expected and no big deal really. But how the hell can you charge me that much a night and not spend $1k on bedding that fits and a small flat screen to hang on the wall? It looked like no money had been put into the place in twenty years. It was the 4 O’clock Lodge, and I booked it through Breckenridge Lodging. Don’t stay there or book through them.

We had a good time that night. Dinner at some cute Italian place, the food was cheap, and the service was excellent. People in Colorado are just plain more stoked. From there we walked to Cecile’s, and we found the first un-stoked guy in Colorado tending the bar. We didn’t even order a beer cause he was such an ass. Went upstairs to the Liquid Lounge, we were the first people in the place, and Matt the bartender was awesome so we hung out. Eventually the place turned into a club, was packed, and we were hammed. I’ve never done that before. Start a bar. Kinda wish we closed the joint, but we wanted to ski the next day.

On these long road trips you forget what day it is. It’s one of my favorite parts. If it weren’t for online tournaments on Wednesday or Sunday, then I’d never have any idea what day it was. I didn’t remember that tomorrow was Saturday until the next day. Skiing at Breck on a Saturday when the weather is good is asking for a headache. I knew this, but when you’re leaving Crested Butte today, that means you ski Breck tomorrow.

Most of the adult populations of Denver and Colorado Springs were on the hill. Lift lines were 10 min minimum. Even at the T-Bar. I quit at lunchtime, just too frustrated with the crowds. I chilled out that afternoon, and then headed up to Keystone for some night skiing. Cool part about Breck passes is that they work everywhere (Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, and sometimes Vail and Beaver Creek).

I hadn’t been night skiing since high school, and it was great. Nobody out there, good snow, and Keystone had enough of the mountain lit to be awesome. I really dug the village, hanging out in The New Moon Cafe, where I listened to a chick with a guitar and had dinner. Pretty much every single bar and restaurant had ski racks in front of them, and they were all full. There were skis and snowboards scattered about everywhere, and the bars were packed with people still in their gear. Best apres ski scene I’ve ever seen.

Sunday I played online, and FML. It wasn’t that bad, but I had a ton of stacks in awesome spots and only managed a 7th in the UB 100r. I think I lost a few bucks. Walked downtown after, hung out at Eric’s downstairs, fed a bunch of money into the Guitar Hero arcade game while drinking Breckenridge Brewery’s Lucky U IPA.

Today’s Monday. We drove up to Steamboat Springs on recommendation from Jamesifer, checked into the Inn at Steamboat, and have an AWESOME room for $100 a night. I went from the worst value room I’ve ever stayed in to probably the best value. It’s beautiful. We’re gonna stay here til Friday, and now since it’s 3:45 and people are getting off the mountain, it’s time to walk to the village. Perhaps some local idiot will do something funny.

Peace and good luck,


Bonus Blog, Pictures from Colorado



The Ski Patrol dude I was standing with watching this porcupine told me that earlier somebody tried to pick him up. He got bit. Who the hell comes up with the idea, “Hey, maybe I should pick up that porcupine?”

The thing was cute as hell though.


Mt Crested Butte

The Ice Bar

Beer and a show: The Michigan State Ski Club showed up.

Of the 50 that flew past the bar, this was the only chick. The bartender said, “Appropriate that they spent most of the afternoon with me.”

That called for one more run top to bottom, and I was treated with this panorama:




Breckenridge now. Peace.


Chasing Snow, Days 3-5

Telluride was a blast.  The mountain was huge and deserted, unfortunately there wasn’t enough cover to have most of the difficult terrain open.  I really enjoyed the town.  The first night our first and last bar was The Brown Dog.  The dude to Shelley’s left asked the general questions, then was like, “Wow, you’re a professional poker player?”  No fewer than five dudes randomly came up to me and asked, “Hey are you the professional poker player from Vegas?”  This cumulated with the bar owner hanging out for about twenty minutes.

They all invited us to play in their weekly $30 with one rebuy NLHE tournament, down at the Elks lodge.  I mean, ever since “Holy shit that’s a hell of an elk,” who hasn’t wanted to play cards in an Elks lodge?

Shelley and I got there a little early, and the head signer upper dude (who’s name I remember but don’t know if I should say) gave me the 20 questions game figuring out if he wants to let me play or not.  Members only.  I tell him who told me, “Plus a bunch of other dudes,” cause I could only remember one name, which correlated pretty closely with how much of the night I remembered.  Finally Shelley comes up with a nickname, and boom, we’re in.  Atta girl.

I had a helluva good time.  I was welcomed well by most, laughed at by a few, and one raised some eyebrows. I ran hotter than hell flipping coins, winning 4 straight $20 flips, then going 2-1 for $40.  It was sweet.  I got my ass kicked in the tournamnet, but had a great time.  We later played 1-2 NL (Hold’em) PL (all other flop games) Dealers Choice.  It was so much fun.  Thanks y’all!

In Crested Butte now, and things are off to a great start.  I’m at the bar watching the ALABAMA game and my battery’s about to die, and I left my charger in the hotel room.  Like a quarter mile away.

Peace and good luck,