Monday, I went over to Badger Poker, a Madison tourney that meets four nights a week.

I’ve been a bit trepidatious about this, even though the games are free (sponsors provide the prizes).

(Surprisingly, my sucky spell-checker doesn’t have the word “trepidatious.” Instead, it suggests “tendentious” or “dedications.”)

However, I’ve been wanting to improve my game, and my group of poker pals hasn’t really been able to meet for a while anyway. So three of us went down to the Dry Bean Saloon to check it out.

About 120 others joined us. The game was (as per usual, these days) no-limit Texas Hold’Em, and each player started out with $10,000 in chips.

I’m not gonna go into a Wil Wheatonesque hand-by-hand breakdown, but overall I was happy with my play. The big winner at out table of eight was smart and crafty, but also had some phenomenal cards. I had a few good hands, played them well, and was conservative enough to fold King-six offsuits, for example.

(Less surprisingly, my sucky spell-checker doesn’t have the word “Wheatonesque.” Instead, it suggests “Weapons” or “Wetness.”)

I lasted about an hour and a half (my friend Scott lasted 15 minutes, while Todd bowed out around 45 minutes in), and had not a bad read on our table. But as some players went out, others were rotated in, so it was difficult to keep track of new styles. After an hour of play, our table was down to five (even with the new rotations), and we were broken up and sent to other tables.

The blinds had risen to $1000-$2000 by this point (they started out at $200-$400), and though I was up, I wasn’t up by much. The new table was dominated by some large old guys, the kind with nothing to do BUT play poker, and I was pleased I lasted long enough to take one of them down with an Ace-King offsuit that ended up as an Ace-high flush.

Soon, though, I was done. As small blind, I payed to see the flop (nobody raised the big blind). I held a King-five offsuit, and flopped a pair of Kings. Not a bad hand, but dangerous with six people playing behind me. And no WAY should I have bet $6,000 playing first. I should have checked and tried to suss out what others thought of their hands.

Anyway, I was matched by two players almost instantly, and I should have known I was in trouble. The next round $6,000 put me all-in, which again was seen in a heartbeat. Even before the river was turned, I knew I was done. But I also knew I’d learned a solid lesson about keeping an eye on your play relative to your position – better than any book could pound in to you, anyway.

So if anyone in Madison or Milwaukee (where they also run games) is interested, I’d heartily recommend Badger Poker. It was a fun couple of hours, and nobody was a jerk.

I’ll be back next Monday. I wanna last TWO hours, this time…

****

I came up with a new installment of “Redshirts” and a pretty good panel cartoon for Amazing Stories, yesterday.

Now that Dragon Magazine no longer publishes many single-panel cartoons, Amazing is my only outlet for really, really bad puns and dumb, dumb gags (since Dork Tower is translated into five languages, I try to keep the puns to an absolute minimum, there).

And seriously, I NEED an outlet for this kind of humor. But I don’t use everything that comes to me.

When Amazing #306 comes out, you can see the ‘toon I came up with yesterday (hint – it involves a Martian Tripod). But here are other ideas I rejected before finally finding one I was happy with:

* Molly Ringworld

* Sky Captain and the World of the Day After Tomorrow

* I Spy, Robot

* Blaxploitation Hole

* Cyberpunk’d

So before you all start pelting me with rocks and garbage — as well you should — here’s the first single-panel comic I drew for Amazing several months ago, by way of getting on your good side again:

When I have time, I’ll try and set up a “”Redshirts” web page, and post some of those that have already run.

*****

I’ve done, what, three straight weeks of Star Wars and Tech-geeky cartoons recently, at a rate of five or so per week?

So I go with a ‘toon about how I genuinely feel about the season, yesterday. Y’know…one that kind of MATTERS to me…

And I get this in my in-box:

I’m really dissapointed in today’s comic. It used to be that every time I read Dork Tower, I was stricken with horrible cases of the giggles over your parodies of various nerdy things, the jokes and puns over Dungeons & Dragons, and everything else that made Dork Tower a great geek’s comic. But tonight I checked in, and I saw this comic. I had thought that Dork Tower was something detatched from things like that. Maybe I was wrong, but regardless, I was dissapointed.

I know, I know, I know…You can’t please ALL of the people ALL of the time. And the writer did say some kind things. But the whole “…MADE Dork Tower a great geek’s comic…” line seems to suggest that the moment I veer away from, say, Halo 2 or Han shooting first, I’ve jumped the shark.

There will be times when I just want to do cartoons that seem important to me, or try something a little different. I want to try new things. They may fail, or they may work. While my life does indeed revolve around Most That Is Geeky, that’s not ALL there is to me, by a long shot. Indeed, I don’t believe that is all there is to MOST geeks.

With the comic running every weekday (more often than not — not sure how long I can keep that up), I’d like to get try some longer story lines and actual story arcs, as well. We’ll see.

So just be prepared, is all.

****

I have to pass on this really terrific Curried Winter Squash Soup recipe I just got. Never made squash soup before, but this was DEAD easy, and really tasty. Just perfect for this time of year. Also, squash is DIRT cheap, which is a plus. The finished soup has a lovely but complex taste, and the rice really binds the ingredients together for an almost velvety finished texture. A good, crusty loaf of bread is the perfect accompaniment.

2.5 lbs winter squash, peeled and seeded
3 cooking apples, peeled, seeded and quartered.
48 oz. stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 t. Madras curry powder
A couple of dashes of red pepper flakes
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves
0.25 cups of rice
0.25 t. coriander
1 cup heavy cream
3 T. lime juice

Put the squash, apples, stock, curry powder, pepper flakes, onion garlic cloves, rice and coriander in a large pot, and bring to the boil. Cover and reduce heat, simmering 30 minutes. Cool slightly, and blend with a hand blender or pour into a blender and smooth. On medium heat, stir in cream (milk can be substituted for a healthier soup) and lime juice. Garnish with chopped chives and serve.

Peas, out,

John

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