stumbling toward optimism

Stumbling Toward Optimism

Heather and I naturally gravitate toward the bleak. Optimism has traditionally been anathema to our shared world view.

We’re not proud of our glass half empty –  more like glass-broke-and-hope-leaked-all-over-the-counter – outlook. But it’s become ingrained. Brush teeth, shower, think about how we are going to die one day and how it has all been for naught.

Twenty-five years ago in a single weekend I went to see Glengarry Glen Ross and Waterland, and rented the John Cassavettes’ classic A Woman Under the Influence. If you’ve never seen those films, don’t. At least not without a bottle of Prozac and the local suicide hotline on speed dial. These are three of the most depressing films ever made. Yet, a quarter century later, I still refer to this as the most enjoyable film viewing weekend of my life.

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Save Money on Groceries

Tips We Use to Save Money on Groceries

In trying to carve out savings for our poker pilgrimage, one of the first areas Heather and I attacked was how to save money on groceries. We wondered how we could spend $700 a month on groceries when we did not have extravagant tastes. Well sure, there was that weekly run to the tony local farm stand which carries a range of goodies on top of those fresh vegetables – expensive cheese and chocolates, nasty good breakfast items like cider donuts and chocolate croissants, and, sometimes, maybe a bottle of wine falls into the basket as well. Additionally, our grocery shopping often left us losing too much to freezer burn and watching forgotten fruit and vegetables morph into science experiments.

To use a poker term: we had leaks in our grocery shopping strategy!

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Venetian Poker Room Review

The Venetian Poker Room Review

The Palazzo/Venetian Resort Casino

First, I must couch this review within my general affection for the Venetian/Palazzo complex at large.  My wife and I started our annual poker jaunts to Las Vegas three years ago. I was uncertain whether I would like Las Vegas at all. As much as I love poker, I do not necessarily groove to the full casino experience. An entire city  of that environment might prove to be too much for me.

Choosing the Palazzo as our hotel was the critical and fortunate first step to loving Vegas.  The rooms have a large, multi-level design complete with a desk, dinette set, square coffee table and huge wrap around couch. The bathroom is bigger than some hotel rooms I’ve rented in New York City! Our room at the Palazzo always feels more like a small, beautifully appointed apartment. Whenever I stay there, I never want to leave.

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San Diego: One of our favorite cities

Our 5 Favorite Cities in the US

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. However, we highly recommend all of the products and services on this page . We particularly love CityPASS, and have used it ourselves in multiple cities.  We will not share anything on this page that we have not either personally used and loved or verified through extensive research. For more information, see our Disclosure page.

As we ponder our Poker Pilgrimage, we need to decide where our year of travel will take us. We have three basic criteria for places to earn a spot on our journey, a location must either have a poker room (or rooms: Hello Las Vegas!) we want to visit, be a spot that we have never been but would like to go (such as Charleston, SC), or be one of our favorite cities, and thus worthy of a return trip. Today, we thought we would share our five favorite cities and start to pin some way-points on our journey.

Boston, MA

Boston: One of our favorite cities
The Boston Skyline

Boston is an easy one. We live in the Boston area, and thus this is where our journey will begin. Boston has history, museums, culture, natural beauty, and sports teams galore. For the first time visitor we would recommend the aquarium, the science museum, Faneuil Hall, a walk down the Freedom Trail, a walk along the Charles River, taking in a game (Celtics, Patriots, Red Sox, or Bruins depending on the season), and a visit to any of the many historic and beautiful outlying towns. Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, and numerous New Hampshire cardrooms are within a couple of hours if your poker jones needs to be fed. If you’re looking to save on attractions, you can Save 45% or more on Boston’s 5 best attractions with CityPASS. The Boston CityPASS allows you to save on such attractions as the Aquarium, Museum of Science, and the Skywalk Observatory. These are all must-visits on our Boston list.

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Best Gifts for your Favorite Poker Player

5 Great Gifts For Your Favorite Poker Player 2018

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. However, we love all of the products and services listed here. We promise! For more information, see our Disclosure page.

You know who they are. She’s your sister who takes every vacation in Las Vegas. Or maybe he’s your dad who is up late playing on Poker Stars every night. Now you’ve got to wrap your mind around finding them a gift. Poker Pilgrims would like to help you out with suggestions for great poker gifts for the player in your life.

Great Poker Gifts


  • A book to curl up with would be at the top of our list of poker gifts. Which book, you ask? Here are some of our favorites:

For the Beginner: We love Phil Gordon’s Little Book series, starting with The Little Green Book: Lessons and Teachings in No Limit Texas Hold Em

 

 

 

Poker Tournament FormulaThe Tournament Player: Arnold Snyder’s Poker Tournament Formula is a must read for any player who wants to get serious about tournament poker

 

 

 

Poker Cash GamesFor the Cash Player: Harrington gives some good solid advice in Cash Games (How to Win in No-Limit Hold ‘Em Money Games) Vol. I that still holds up today.

 

 

 

Peak Poker PerformanceFor the Experienced Player who wants to enhance their play: We love Peak Poker Performance by Dr. Patricia Cardner and Jonathan Little from D&B Poker which covers the mental and physical aspects of being ready to play your best game.  If only we could do a better job of following their advice!

 

Life's A GambleFor anyone looking for a great poker read: Mike Sexton’s Life’s a Gamble by Mike Sexton from D&B Poker Mike Sexton is a giant in the poker world. His kind and measured approach to the game are welcome in today’s Doug Polk World. His life story is both fascinating and inspirational.

 

 

 

For other poker strategy books that we recommend, check out our post on Best Poker Books for Learning Poker Strategy.

Best Gifts for your Favorite Poker Player

 

  • A set of beautiful and durable playing cards  is a great poker gift to enhance the home game: We love these Copag Cards and use them heavily at our own kitchen table.


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  • A subscription to a poker training site to help them brush up their skills. We are admittedly biased here, as Advanced Poker Training pays us to do work (and blog) for their site. However, we can honestly tell you that their approach to training is the best that we’ve seen. Rather than just offering a series of videos and articles about how other people play poker, APT invites you to play your preferred game (tournament, cash, sit n go, whatever’s your poison). They then analyze your play and send out a weekly plan with practice exercises and advice. A membership at APT is one of our favorite poker gifts to give.
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  • A fun poker t shirt: There are a variety of t-shirts out there. However, we have created a few shirts for our own personal use, that you are welcome to gift to your loved one. Check out our T-Shirt Page or search us at Spiral of Doom T Shirts on Amazon to see more.

 

 

  • If you’ve got real money to burn, every poker player’s secret dream is a buy in to The WSOP Main Event for a mere $10,000. If that is a bit out of reach, perhaps a buy in to a smaller event at a card room near you.

BONUS IDEA

Any poker player who wears sunglasses at the table would love a pair of Blue Shark Optics. Blue Shark also offers glasses that block over 90% of blue light, protecting your eyes from damage from excessive screen time. Use the link below, and save $10 off your purchase plus free shipping!

 

We hope that our list of great poker gifts for your favorite enthusiast has been helpful. I know that I would love to get any of the above (hint, hint Paul). If you have ideas for other good poker gifts, let us know in the comments below!

 

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