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Your Pre Market Brief for 07/24/2020

Pre Market Brief for Friday July 24th 2020

You can subscribe to the daily 4:00 AM Pre Market Brief on The Twitter Link Here . Alerts in the tweets will direct you to the daily 4:00 AM Pre Market Brief in this sub.
Morning Research and Trading Prep Tool Kit
The Ultimate Quick Resource For the Amateur Trader.
Updated as of 3:30 AM EST
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Stock Futures:
Thursday 07/23/2020 News and Markets Recap:
Friday July 24th 2020 Economic Calendar (All times are Eastern)
(Home Sales and Oil Rig Count Today)
News Heading into Friday July 24th 2020
NOTE: PLEASE DO NOT YOLO THE VARIOUS TICKERS WITHOUT DOING RESEARCH. THE TIME STAMPS ON THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES MAY BE LATER THAN OTHERS ON THE WEB. THE CREATOR OF THIS THREAD COMPILED THE FOLLOWING IN A QUICK MANNER AND DOES NOT ATTEST TO THE VERACITY OF THE INFORMATION BELOW. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR VETTING YOUR OWN SOURCES AND DOING YOUR OWN DD.
COVID-19 Stats and News:
Macro Considerations:
Most Recent SEC Filings
Other
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Morning Research and Trading Prep Tool Kit
Other Useful Resources:
The Ultimate Quick Resource For the Amateur Trader.
Subscribe to This Brief and the daily 4:00 AM Pre Market Brief on The Twitter Link Here . Alerts in the tweets will direct you to the daily brief in this sub
It is up to you to judge the accuracy and veracity of these headlines before trading.
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Top 7 Online Card Games For Money Played By Professionals

Have you ever played card games online for money? If not, what online games can you play with playing cards and make money?
Let’s have a look at different card games to play online for real money. These Indian card games can be played online from home to make real money with ease.
What is the best online money making card games to play with friends?
Almost everyone has a fascinating soft corner for the realm of making money while having fun. The best way to earn real money or cash by playing online rummy card games.
Yes, there are many real money card games online in India, where you can play online games with your friends or strangers. In that most of the persons choose card games for earn real money online!
List of Online Card Games For Money Played by Professionals:
  1. Indian Rummy
  2. Poker
  3. Joker Wild
  4. Hearts
  5. Baccarat
  6. Blackjack
  7. Texas Hold’em
Indian Rummy
Indian Rummy is probably the most loved 13 card game that is the all-time favorite of a majority of professionals.
You can earn money by playing online rummy with thousands of players across the world from an app that can be easily downloaded to your device.
How to:
Out of many rummy sites or mobile app, you can choose Classic Rummy Plus App for its safe, secure & hassle free online gaming experience.
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Classic Rummy Offers
Welcome Bonus
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Refer and Earn
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Download Rummy Game App Now! Earn Real Money
Key Features of Rummy Game:
Poker
Poker is one of the finest online card games you can play. It is the most played money game that is still in the market for its unique genre.
Is online poker a good way to make money? Yes, with a wide range of users across the globe, online poker enables users to make money in a hassle-free manner.
How to:
You can play poker online for real money or for fun. Most online poker platforms provide the desktop version as well as the mobile version of the game.
Key Features of Poker Game:
Joker Wild
The aim of this variant of the card game is to get the best five-card hand, and this is ideally a variation of video poker.
How to:
Key Features of Joker Wild Game:
Joker wild game offers amazing opportunities to make money on an online platform in a safe and secure manner.
Hearts
This is one simple card game that can be played by any beginner) and is played by four players.
How to:
“Play Online Card Games for Real Money”
Key Features of Hearts Game:
Baccarat
Baccarat revolves all around the concept of getting a total nine or a total closest to nine.
How to:
Key Features of Baccarat Game:
Blackjack
All casino lovers have played blackjack at least once in their life. You must have surely heard of blackjack as a money-making game,
How to:
Key Features of Blackjack Game:
Texas Hold’em
The prime goal of this game is to get the best five-card. The game is a variation of poker.
Instead of playing against the house, this game puts you against a series of players.
How to:
Key Features of Texas Hold’em Game:
End Note: Top 7 Money Card Games Played by Professionals
Card games for money have always been a strong favorite for any professional or newbie.
Since the day of their inception, some good card game apps have proved to have a vital impact on the whole human society.
With a history that has emerged from late imperial China to finding its place across India, Card games have come a long way.
These are some of the most tempting online cash games where you can win real money.
Earning money by playing card games purely depends upon the skills and techniques.
Let’s Play free online card games to make money and enhance our skills.
Choose your favorite online card game and earn money like a professional.
submitted by ReyanshchandraK to u/ReyanshchandraK [link] [comments]

What a USL D1 league might look like

TL;DR: Man with too much time on his hands goes deep down the rabbit hole on a concept this sub already didn’t seem that enthusiastic about. If you really want to skip ahead, CTRL+F “verdict” and it’ll get you there.
Two days ago, u/MrPhillyj2wns made a post asking whether USL should launch a D1 league in order to compete in Concacaf. From the top voted replies, it appears this made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.
But I’ve been at home for eight weeks and I am terribly, terribly bored.
So, I present to you this overview of what the USL pyramid might look like if Jake Edwards got a head of steam and attempted to establish a USSF-sanctioned first division. This is by no means an endorsement of such a proposal or even a suggestion that USL SHOULD do such a thing. It is merely an examination of whether they COULD.
Welcome to the Thunderdome USL Premiership
First, there are some base-level assumptions we must make in this exercise, because it makes me feel more scientific and not like a guy who wrote this on Sunday while watching the Belarusian Premier League (Go BATE Borisov!).
  1. All D1 teams must comply with known USSF requirements for D1 leagues (more on that later).
  2. MLS, not liking this move, will immediately remove all directly-owned affiliate clubs from the USL structure (this does not include hybrid ownerships, like San Antonio FC – NYCFC). This removes all MLS2 teams but will not affect Colorado Springs, Reno, RGVFC and San Antonio.
  3. The USL will attempt to maintain both the USL Championship and USL League One, with an eventual mind toward creating the pro/rel paradise that is promised in Relegations 3:16.
  4. All of my research regarding facility size and ownership net worth is correct – this is probably the biggest leap of faith we have to make, since googling “NAME net worth” and “CITY richest people” doesn’t seem guaranteed to return accurate results.
  5. The most a club can increase its available seating capacity to meet D1 requirements in a current stadium is no more than 1,500 seats (10% of the required 15,000). If they need to add more, they’ll need a new facility.
  6. Let’s pretend that people are VERY willing to sell. It’s commonly acknowledged that the USL is a more financially feasible route to owning a soccer club than in MLS (c.f. MLS-Charlotte’s reported $325 million expansion fee) and the USSF has some very strict requirements for D1 sanctioning. It becomes pretty apparent when googling a lot of team’s owners that this requirement isn’t met, so let’s assume everyone that can’t sells to people who meet the requirements.
(Known) USSF D1 league requirements:
- League must have 12 teams to apply and 14 teams by year three
- Majority owner must have a net worth of $40 million, and the ownership group must have a total net worth of $70 million. The value of an owned stadium is not considered when calculating this value.
- Must have teams located in the Eastern, Central and Pacific time zones
- 75% of league’s teams must be based in markets with at a metro population of at least 1 million people.
- All league stadiums must have a capacity of at least 15,000
The ideal club candidate for the USL Premiership will meet the population and capacity requirements in its current ground, which will have a grass playing surface. Of the USL Championship’s 27 independent/hybrid affiliate clubs, I did not find one club that meets all these criteria as they currently stand.
Regarding turf fields, the USSF does not have a formal policy regarding the ideal playing surface but it is generally acknowledged that grass is superior to turf. 6 of 26 MLS stadiums utilize turf, or roughly 23% of stadiums. We’ll hold a similar restriction for our top flight, so 2-3 of our top flight clubs can have turf fields. Seem fair?
Capacity is going to be the biggest issue, since the disparity between current requirements for the second-tier (5,000) and the first tier (15,000) is a pretty massive gap. Nice club you have there, triple your capacity and you’re onto something. As a result, I have taken the liberty of relocating certain (read: nearly all) clubs to new grounds, trying my utmost to keep those clubs in their current markets and –importantly--, ensure they play on grass surfaces.
So, let’s do a case-by-case evaluation and see if we can put together 12-14 teams that meet the potential requirements, because what else do you have to do?
For each club’s breakdown, anything that represents a chance from what is currently true will be underlined.
Candidate: Birmingham Legion FC
Location (Metro population): Birmingham, Ala. (1,151,801)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Legion Field (FieldTurf, 71,594)
Potential owner: Stephens Family (reported net worth $4 billion)
Notes: Birmingham has a pretty strong candidacy. Having ditched the 5,000-seater BBVA Field for Legion Field, which sits 2.4 miles away, they’ve tapped into the city’s soccer history. Legion Field hosted portions of both the men’s and women’s tournaments at the 1996 Olympics, including a 3-1 U.S. loss to Argentina that saw 83,183 pack the house. The Harbert family seemed like strong ownership contenders, but since the death of matriarch Marguerite Harbert in 2015, it’s unclear where the wealth in the family is concentrated, so the Stephens seem like a better candidate. The only real knock that I can think of is that we really want to avoid having clubs play on turf, so I’d say they’re on the bubble of our platonic ideal USL Prem.
Candidate: Charleston Battery
Location (Metro population): Charleston, S.C. (713,000)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Johnson Hagood Stadium (Grass, ~14,700)
Potential owner: Anita Zucker (reported net worth $3 billion)
Notes: Charleston’s candidacy isn’t looking great. Already disadvantaged due to its undersized metro population, a move across the Cooper River to Johnson Hagood Stadium is cutting it close in terms of capacity. The stadium, home to The Citadel’s football team, used to seat 21,000, before 9,300 seats on the eastern grandstand were torn down in 2017 to deal with lead paint that had been used in their construction. Renovation plans include adding 3,000 seats back in, which could hit 15,000 if they bumped it to 3,300, but throw in a required sale by HCFC, LLC (led by content-creation platform founder Rob Salvatore) to chemical magnate Anita Zucker, and you’ll see there’s a lot of ifs and ands in this proposal.
Candidate: Charlotte Independence
Location (Metro population): Charlotte, N.C. (2,569, 213)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Jerry Richardson Stadium (Turf, 15,314)
Potential owner: James Goodnight (reported net worth $9.1 billion)
Notes: Charlotte ticks a lot of the boxes. A move from the Sportsplex at Matthews to UNC-Charlotte’s Jerry Richardson stadium meets capacity requirements, but puts them on to the dreaded turf. Regrettably, nearby American Legion Memorial Stadium only seats 10,500, despite a grass playing surface. With a sizeable metro population (sixth-largest in the USL Championship) and a possible owner in software billionaire James Goodnight, you’ve got some options here. The biggest problem likely lies in direct competition for market share against a much better-funded MLS Charlotte side due to join the league in 2021.
Candidate: Hartford Athletic
Location (Metro population): Hartford, Conn. (1,214,295)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Pratt & Whitney Stadium (Grass, 38,066)
Potential owner: Ray Dalio (reported net worth $18.4 billion)
Notes: Okay, I cheated a bit here, having to relocate Hartford to Pratt & Whitney Stadium, which is technically in East Hartford, Conn. I don’t know enough about the area to know if there’s some kind of massive beef between the two cities, but the club has history there, having played seven games in 2019 while Dillon Stadium underwent renovations. If the group of local businessmen that currently own the club manage to attract Dalio to the table, we’re on to something.
Candidate: Indy Eleven
Location (Metro population): Indianapolis, Ind. (2,048,703)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Lucas Oil Stadium (Turf, 62,421)
Potential owner: Jim Irsay (reported net worth of $3 billion)
Notes: Indy Eleven are a club that are SO CLOSE to being an ideal candidate – if it weren’t for Lucas Oil Stadium’s turf playing surface. Still, there’s a lot to like in this bid. I’m not going to lie, I have no idea what current owner and founder Ersal Ozdemir is worth, but it seems like there might be cause for concern. A sale to Irsay, who also owns the NFL Indianapolis (nee Baltimore) Colts, seems likely to keep the franchise there, rather than make a half-mile move to 14,230 capacity Victory Field where the AAA Indianapolis Indians play and expand from there.
Candidate: Louisville City FC
Location (Metro population): Louisville, Ky. (1,297,310)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Lynn Family Stadium (Grass, 14,000, possibly expandable to 20,000)
Potential owner: Wayne Hughes (reported net worth $2.8 billion)
Notes: I’m stretching things a bit here. Lynn Family stadium is currently listed as having 11,700 capacity that’s expandable to 14,000, but they’ve said that the ground could hold as many as 20,000 with additional construction, which might be enough to grant them a temporary waiver from USSF. If the stadium is a no-go, then there’s always Cardinal Stadium, home to the University of Louisville’s football team, which seats 65,000 but is turf. Either way, it seems like a sale to someone like Public Storage founder Wayne Hughes will be necessary to ensure the club has enough capital.
Candidate: Memphis 901 FC
Location (Metro population): Memphis, Tenn. (1,348,260)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Liberty Bowl Stadium (Turf, 58,325)
Potential owner: Fred Smith (reported net worth $3 billion)
Notes: Unfortunately for Memphis, AutoZone Park’s 10,000 seats won’t cut it at the D1 level. With its urban location, it would likely prove tough to renovate, as well. Liberty Bowl Stadium more than meets the need, but will involve the use of the dreaded turf. As far as an owner goes, FedEx founder Fred Smith seems like a good local option.
Candidate: Miami FC, “The”
Location (Metro population): Miami, Fla. (6,158,824)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Riccardo Silva Stadium (FieldTurf, 20,000)
Potential owner: Riccardo Silva (reported net worth $1 billion)
Notes: Well, well, well, Silva might get his wish for top-flight soccer, after all. He’s got the money, he’s got the metro, and his ground has the capacity. There is the nagging issue of the turf, though. Hard Rock Stadium might present a solution, including a capacity of 64,767 and a grass playing surface. It is worth noting, however, that this is the first profile where I didn’t have to find a new potential owner for a club.
Candidate: North Carolina FC
Location (Metro population): Durham, N.C. (1,214,516 in The Triangle)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Carter-Finley Stadium (Grass/Turf, 57,583)
Potential owner: Steve Malik (precise net worth unknown) / Dennis Gillings (reported net worth of $1.7 billion)
Notes: We have our first “relocation” in North Carolina FC, who were forced to trade Cary’s 10,000-seat WakeMed Soccer Park for Carter-Finley Stadium in Durham, home of the NC State Wolfpack and 57,583 of their closest friends. The move is a whopping 3.1 miles, thanks to the close-knit hub that exists between Cary, Durham and Raleigh. Carter-Finley might be my favorite of the stadium moves in this exercise. The field is grass, but the sidelines are artificial turf. Weird, right? Either way, it was good enough for Juventus to play a friendly against Chivas de Guadalajara there in 2011. Maybe the move would be pushed for by new owner and medical magnate Dennis Gillings, whose British roots might inspire him to get involved in the Beautiful Game. Straight up, though, I couldn’t find a net worth for current owner Steve Malik, though he did sell his company MedFusion for $91 million in 2010, then bought it back for an undisclosed amount and sold it again for $43 million last November. I don’t know if Malik has the juice to meet D1 requirements, but I suspect he’s close.
Candidate: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Location (Metro population): Pittsburgh, Penn. (2,362,453)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Heinz Field (Grass, 64,450)
Potential owner: Henry Hillman (reported net worth $2.5 billion)
Notes: I don’t know a ton about the Riverhounds, but this move in particular feels like depriving a pretty blue-collar club from its roots. Highmark Stadium is a no-go from a seating perspective, but the Steelers’ home stadium at Heinz Field would more than meet the requirements and have a grass surface that was large enough to be sanctioned for a FIFA friendly between the U.S. WNT and Costa Rica in 2015. As for an owner, Tuffy Shallenberger (first ballot owner name HOF) doesn’t seem to fit the USSF bill, but legendary Pittsburgh industrialist Henry Hillman might. I’m sure you’re asking, why not the Rooney Family, if they’ll play at Heinz Field? I’ll tell you: I honestly can’t seem to pin down a value for the family. The Steelers are valued at a little over a billion and rumors persist that Dan Rooney is worth $500 million, but I’m not sure. I guess the Rooneys would work too, but it’s a definite departure from an owner in Shallenberger who was described by one journalist as a guy who “wears boots, jeans, a sweater and a trucker hat.”
Candidate: Saint Louis FC
Location (Metro population): St. Louis, Mo. (2,807,338)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Busch Stadium (Grass, 45,494)
Potential owner: William DeWitt Jr. (reported net worth $4 billion)
Notes: Saint Louis has some weirdness in making the jump to D1. Current CEO Jim Kavanaugh is an owner of the MLS side that will begin play in 2022. The club’s current ground at West Community Stadium isn’t big enough, but perhaps a timely sale to Cardinals owner William DeWitt Jr. could see the club playing games at Busch Stadium, which has a well established history of hosting other sports like hockey, college football and soccer (most recently a U.S. WNT friendly against New Zealand in 2019). The competition with another MLS franchise wouldn’t be ideal, like Charlotte, but with a big enough population and cross marketing from the Cardinals, maybe there’s a winner here. Wacko idea: If Busch doesn’t pan out, send them to The Dome. Sure, it’s a 60k turf closed-in stadium, but we can go for that retro NASL feel and pay homage to our nation’s soccer history.
Candidate: Tampa Bay Rowdies
Location (Metro population): Tampa, Fla. (3,068,511)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Raymond James Stadium (Grass, 65,518)
Potential owner: Edward DeBartolo Jr. (reported net worth $3 billion)
Notes: This one makes me sad. Despite having never been there, I see Al Lang Stadium as an iconic part of the Rowdies experience. Current owner Bill Edwards proposed an expansion to 18,000 seats in 2016, but the move seems to have stalled out. Frustrated with the city’s lack of action, Edwards sells to one-time San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., who uses his old NFL connections to secure a cushy lease at the home of the Buccaneers in Ray Jay, the site of a 3-1 thrashing of Antigua and Barbuda during the United States’ 2014 World Cup Qualifying campaign.
Breather. Hey, we finished the Eastern Conference teams. Why are you still reading this? Why am I still writing it? Time is a meaningless construct in 2020 my friends, we are adrift in the void, fueled only by brief flashes of what once was and what may yet still be.
Candidate: Austin Bold FC
Location (Metro population): Austin, Texas (2,168,316)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Darrel K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium (FieldTurf, 95,594)
Potential owner: Michael Dell (reported net worth of $32.3 billion)
Notes: Anthony Precourt’s Austin FC has some unexpected competition and it comes in the form of tech magnate Michael Dell. Dell, were he to buy the club, would be one of the richest owners on our list and could flash his cash in the new first division. Would he have enough to convince Darrel K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium (I’m not kidding, that’s its actual name) to go back to a grass surface, like it did from ’96-’08? That’s between Dell and nearly 100,000 UT football fans, but everything can be had for the right price.
Candidate: Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Location (Metro population): Colorado Springs, Colo. (738,939)
Time zone: Mountain
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Falcon Stadium (FieldTurf, 46,692)
Potential owner: Charles Ergen (reported net worth $10.8 billion)
Notes: Welcome to Colorado Springs. We have hurdles. For the first time in 12 candidates, we’re back below the desired 1 million metro population mark. Colorado Springs actually plans to build a $35 million, 8,000 seat venue downtown that will be perfect for soccer, but in our timeline that’s 7,000 seats short. Enter Falcon Stadium, home of the Air Force Academy Falcons football team. Seems perfect except for the turf, right? Well, the tricky thing is that Falcon Stadium is technically on an active military base and is (I believe) government property. Challenges to getting in and out of the ground aside, the military tends to have a pretty grim view of government property being used by for-profit enterprises. Maybe Charles Ergen, founder and chairman of Dish Network, would be able to grease the right wheels, but you can go ahead and throw this into the “doubtful” category. It’s a shame, too. 6,035 feet of elevation is one hell of a home-field advantage.
Candidate: El Paso Locomotive FC
Location: El Paso, Texas
Time zone: Mountain
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Sun Bowl (FieldTurf, 51,500)
Potential owner: Paul Foster (reported net worth $1.7 billion)
Notes: God bless Texas. When compiling this list, I found so many of the theoretical stadium replacements were nearly serviceable by high school football fields. That’s insane, right? Anyway, Locomotive don’t have to settle for one of those, they’ve got the Sun Bowl, which had its capacity reduced in 2001 to a paltry 51,500 (from 52,000) specifically to accommodate soccer. Sure, it’s a turf surface, but what does new owner Paul Foster (who is only the 1,477th wealthiest man in the world, per Forbes) care, he’s got a team in a top league. Side note: Did you know that the Sun Bowl college football game is officially, through sponsorship, the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl? Why is it not the Frosted Flakes Sun Bowl? Why is the cereal mascot the promotional name of the football game? What are you doing, Kellogg’s?
Candidate: Las Vegas Lights FC
Location: Las Vegas, Nev. (2,227,053)
Time zone: Pacific
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Allegiant Stadium (Grass, 61,000)
Potential owner: Sheldon Adelson (reported net worth $37.7 billion)
Notes: Sin City. You had to know that the club that once signed Freddy Adu because “why not” was going to go all out in our flashy hypothetical proposal. Thanks to my narrative control of this whole thing, they have. Adelson is the second-richest owner in the league and has decided to do everything first class. That includes using the new Raiders stadium in nearby unincorporated Paradise, Nevada, and spending boatloads on high profile transfers. Zlatan is coming back to the U.S., confirmed.
Candidate: New Mexico United
Location: Albuquerque, N.M.
Time zone: Mountain
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Isotopes Park – officially Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park (Grass, 13,500 – 15,000 with expansion)
Potential owner: Maloof Family (reported net worth $1 billion)
Notes: New Mexico from its inception went deep on the community vibe, and I’ve tried to replicate that in this bid. The home field of Rio Grande Cr---I’m not typing out the whole thing—Isotopes Park falls just within the expansion rules we set to make it to 15,000 (weird, right?) and they’ve found a great local ownership group in the Lebanese-American Maloof (formerly Maalouf) family from Las Vegas. The only thing to worry about would be the metro population, but overall, this could be one of the gems of USL Prem.
Candidate: Oklahoma City Energy FC
Location: Oklahoma City, Okla. (1,396,445)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark (Grass, 13,066)
Potential owner: Harold Hamm (reported net worth $14.2 billion)
Notes: There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow and it says it’s time to change stadiums and owners to make it to D1. A sale to oil magnate Harold Hamm would give the club the finances it needs, but Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark (home of the OKC Dodgers) actually falls outside of the boundary of what would meet capacity if 1,500 seats were added. Could the club pull off a move to Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma – home of the Oklahoma Sooners? Maybe, but at 20 miles, this would be a reach.
Candidate: Orange County SC
Location: Irvine, Calif. (3,176, 000 in Orange County)
Time zone: Pacific
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Angels Stadium of Anaheim (Grass, 43,250)
Potential owner: Arte Moreno (reported net worth $3.3 billion)
Notes: You’ll never convince me that Rangers didn’t choose to partner with Orange County based primarily on its name. Either way, a sale to MLB Angels owner Arte Moreno produces a fruitful partnership, with the owner choosing to play his newest club out of the existing Angels stadium in OC. Another baseball conversion, sure, but with a metro population of over 3 million and the closest thing this hypothetical league has to an LA market, who’s complaining?
Candidate: Phoenix Rising FC
Location: Phoenix, Ariz. (4,857,962)
Time zone: Arizona
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): State Farm Stadium (Grass, 63,400)
Potential owner: Ernest Garcia II (reported net worth $5.7 billion)
Notes: We’re keeping it local with new owner and used car guru Ernest Garcia II. His dad owned a liquor store and he dropped out of college, which is making me feel amazing about my life choices right now. Casino Arizona Field is great, but State Farm Stadium is a grass surface that hosted the 2019 Gold Cup semifinal, so it’s a clear winner. Throw in Phoenix’s massive metro population and this one looks like a lock.
Candidate: Reno 1868 FC
Location: Reno, Nev. (425,417)
Time zone: Pacific
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Mackay Stadium (FieldTurf, 30,000)
Potential owner: Nancy Walton Laurie (reported net worth $7.1 billion)
Notes: The Biggest Little City on Earth has some serious barriers to overcome, thanks to its low metro population. A sale to Walmart heiress Nancy Walton Laurie and 1.6 mile-move to Mackay Stadium to split space with the University of Nevada, Reno makes this bid competitive, but the turf surface is another knock against it.
Candidate: Rio Grande Valley FC
Location: Edinburg, Texas (900,304)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): McAllen Memorial Stadium (FieldTurf, 13,500 – 15,000 with expansion)
Potential owner: Alice Louise Walton (reported net worth $45 billion)
Notes: Yes, I have a second straight Walmart heiress on the list. She was the first thing that popped up when I googled “McAllen Texas richest people.” The family rivalry has spurred Walton to buy a club as well, moving them 10 miles to McAllen Memorial Stadium which, as I alluded to earlier, is a straight up high school football stadium with a full color scoreboard. Toss in an additional 1,500 seats and you’ve met the minimum, despite the turf playing surface.
Candidate: San Antonio FC
Location: San Antonio, Texas (2,550,960)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Alamodome (FieldTurf, 64,000)
Potential owner: Red McCombs (reported net worth $1.6 billion)
Notes: I wanted to keep SAFC in the Spurs family, since the franchise is valued at $1.8 billion. That said, I didn’t let the Rooneys own the Riverhounds based on the Steelers’ value and it felt wrong to change the rules, so bring on Clear Channel co-founder Red McCombs. Toyota Field isn’t viable in the first division, but for the Alamodome, which was built in 1993 in hopes of attracting an NFL franchise (and never did), San Antonio can finally claim having *a* national football league team in its town (contingent on your definition of football). Now if only we could do something about that turf…
Candidate: San Diego Loyal SC
Location: San Diego, Calif. (3,317,749)
Time zone: Pacific
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): SDCCU Stadium (formerly Qualcomm) (Grass, 70,561)
Potential owner: Phil Mickelson (reported net worth $91 million)
Notes: Yes, golf’s Phil Mickelson. The existing ownership group didn’t seem to have the wherewithal to meet requirements, and Phil seemed to slot right in. As an athlete himself, he might be interesting in the new challenges of a top flight soccer team. Toss in a move to the former home of the chargers and you might have a basis for tremendous community support.
Candidate: FC Tulsa
Location: Tulsa, Okla. (991,561)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium (FieldTurf, 30,000)
Potential owner: George Kaiser ($10 billion)
Notes: I’m a fan of FC Tulsa’s rebrand, but if they want to make the first division, more changes are necessary. A sale to Tulsa native and one of the 100 richest men in the world George Kaiser means that funding is guaranteed. A move to Chapman Stadium would provide the necessary seats, despite the turf field. While the undersize population might be an issue at first glance, it’s hard to imagine U.S. Soccer not granting a waiver over a less than a 10k miss from the mark.
And that’s it! You made it. Those are all of the independent/hybrid affiliates in the USL Championship, which means that it’s time for our…
VERDICT: As an expert who has studied this issue for almost an entire day now, I am prepared to pronounce which USL Championships could be most ‘ready” for a jump to the USL Prem. A reminder that of the 27 clubs surveyed, 0 of them met our ideal criteria (proper ownership $, metro population, 15,000+ stadium with grass field).
Two of them, however, met almost all of those criteria: Indy Eleven and Miami FC. Those two clubs may use up two of our three available turf fields right from the outset, but the other factors they hit (particularly Silva’s ownership of Miami) makes them difficult, if not impossible to ignore for the top flight.
But who fill in the rest of the slots? Meet the entire 14-team USL Premier League:
Hartford Athletic
Indy Eleven
Louisville City FC
Miami FC
North Carolina FC
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Tampa Bay Rowdies
Saint Louis FC
San Antonio FC
New Mexico United
Phoenix Rising FC
Las Vegas Lights FC
Orange County SC
San Diego Loyal SC
Now, I shall provide my expert rationale for each club’s inclusion/exclusion, which can be roughly broken down into four categories.
Firm “yes”
Hartford Athletic: It’s a good market size with a solid stadium. With a decent investor and good community support, you’ve got potential here.
Indy Eleven: The turf at Lucas Oil Stadium is no reason to turn down a 62,421 venue and a metro population of over 2 million.
Louisville City FC: Why doesn’t the 2017 & 2018 USL Cup champion deserve a crack at the top flight? They have the market size, and with a bit of expansion have the stadium at their own SSS. LCFC, you’re in.
Miami FC, “The”: Our other blue-chip recruit on the basis of ownership value, market size and stadium capacity. Yes, that field is turf, but how could you snub Silva’s chance to claim victory as the first division 1 club soccer team to play in Miami?
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC: Pittsburgh sacrificed a lot to be here (according to my arbitrary calculations). Their market size and the potential boon of soccer at Heinz Field is an important inclusion to the league.
Saint Louis FC: Willie hears your “Busch League” jokes, Willie don’t care. A huge market size, combined with the absence of an NFL franchise creates opportunity. Competition with the MLS side, sure, but St. Louis has serious soccer history and we’re willing to bet it can support two clubs.
Tampa Bay Rowdies: With a huge population and a massive stadium waiting nearby, Tampa Bay seems like too good of an opportunity to pass up for the USL Prem.
Las Vegas Lights FC: Ostentatious, massive and well-financed, Las Vegas Lights FC is everything that the USL Premier League would need to assert that it didn’t intend to play second fiddle to MLS. Players will need to be kept on a short leash, but this is a hard market to pass up on.
Phoenix Rising FC: Huge population, big grass field available nearby and a solid history of success in recent years. No brainer.
San Diego Loyal SC: New club? Yes, massive population in a market that recently lost an absolutely huge sports presence? Also yes. This could be the USL Prem’s Seattle.
Cautious “yes”
New Mexico United: You have to take a chance on New Mexico United. The club set the league on fire with its social media presence and its weight in the community when it entered the league last season. The market may be slightly under USSF’s desired 1 million, but fervent support (and the ability to continue to use Isotopes Park) shouldn’t be discounted.
North Carolina FC: Carter-Finley’s mixed grass/turf surface is a barrier, to be sure, but the 57,000+ seats it offers (and being enough to offset other fully-turf offerings) is enough to put it in the black.
Orange County SC: It’s a top-tier club playing in a MLB stadium. I know it seems unlikely that USSF would approve something like that, but believe me when I say “it could happen.” Orange County is a massive market and California likely needs two clubs in the top flight.
San Antonio FC: Our third and only voluntary inclusion to the turf fields in the first division, we’re counting on San Antonio’s size and massive potential stadium to see it through.
Cautious “no”
Birmingham Legion FC: The town has solid soccer history and a huge potential venue, but the turf playing surface puts it on the outside looking in.
Memphis 901 FC: Like Birmingham, not much to dislike here outside of the turf playing surface at the larger playing venue.
Austin Bold FC: See the other two above.
FC Tulsa: Everything’s just a little bit off with this one. Market’s slightly too small, stadium has turf. Just not enough to put it over the top.
Firm “no”
Charleston Battery: Small metro and a small potential new stadium? It’s tough to say yes to the risk.
Charlotte Independence: A small new stadium and the possibility of having to compete with an organization that just paid over $300 million to join MLS means it’s best for this club to remain in the USL Championship.
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC: When a club’s best chance to meet a capacity requirement is to host games at a venue controlled by the military, that doesn’t speak well to a club’s chances.
El Paso Locomotive FC: An undersized market and a turf field that meets capacity requirements is the death knell for this one.
Oklahoma City Energy FC: Having to expand a baseball field to meet requirements is a bad start. Having to potentially play 20 miles away from your main market is even worse.
Reno 1868 FC: Population nearly a half-million short of the federation’s requirements AND a turf field at the hypothetical new stadium makes impossible to say yes to this bid.
Rio Grande Valley FC: All the seat expansions in the world can’t hide the fact that McAllen Memorial Stadium is a high school stadium through and through.
Here’s who’s left in the 11-team Championship:
Birmingham Legion FC
Charleston Battery
Charlotte Independence
Memphis 901 FC
Austin Bold FC
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
El Paso Locomotive FC
Oklahoma City Energy FC
Reno 1868 FC
Rio Grande Valley FC
FC Tulsa
With MLS folding the six affiliates it has in USL League One, the league is a little bit thin (especially considering USSF’s requirements for 8 teams for lower level leagues), but seems definitely able to expand up to the necessary numbers with Edwards’ allusions to five new additions this year:
Chattanooga Red Wolves SC
Forward Madison FC
Greenville Triumph SC
Union Omaha
Richmond Kickers
South Georgia Tormenta
FC Tucson
Format of Assorted Leagues – This (like everything in this post) is pure conjecture on my part, but here are my thoughts on how these leagues might function in a first year while waiting for additional expansion.
USL Premier – We’ll steal from the 12-team Scottish Premiership. Each club plays the other 11 clubs 3 times, with either one or two home matches against each side. When each club has played 33 matches, the top six and bottom six separate, with every club playing an additional five matches (against each other team in its group). The top club wins the league. The bottom club is automatically relegated. The second-bottom club will enter a two-legged playoff against someone (see below) from the championship playoffs.
USL Championship -- 11 clubs is a challenge to schedule for. How about every club plays everyone else three times (either one or two home matches against each side)? Top four clubs make the playoffs, which are decided by two-legged playoffs. The winner automatically goes up. I need feedback on the second part – is it better to have the runner-up from the playoffs face the second-bottom club from the Premiership, or should the winner of the third-place match-up get the chance to face them to keep drama going in both playoff series? As for relegation, we can clearly only send down the last place club while the third division is so small.
USL League One – While the league is so small, it doesn’t seem reasonable to have the clubs play as many matches as the higher divisions. Each club could play the other six clubs four times – twice at home and twice away – for a very equitable 24-match regular season, which would help restrict costs and still provide a chance to determine a clear winner. Whoever finishes top of the table goes up.
And there you have it, a hypothetical look at how the USL could build a D1 league right now. All it would take is a new stadium for almost the entire league and new owners for all but one of the 27 clubs, who wouldn’t feel that their property would be massively devalued if they got relegated.
Well that’s our show. I’m curious to see what you think of all of this, especially anything that you think I may have overlooked (I’m sure there’s plenty). Anyway, I hope you’re all staying safe and well.
submitted by Soccervox to USLPRO [link] [comments]

Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Mar. 4, 2002

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
PREVIOUSLY:
1-7-2002 1-14-2002 1-21-2002 1-28-2002
2-4-2002 2-11-2002 2-18-2002 2-25-2002
NOTE: I mentioned it in the first post of 2002 but a lot of y'all are aware that a few months ago, SaintRidley picked up the Observer Rewind reins after I stopped and started doing his own recaps from the 1980s. Well, he's been doing great work with it and he just finished posting the year of 1987. I went ahead and added it the Previously" section up there. ↑↑↑ Just wanted to make sure to bring it to everyone's attention.
  • It's been awhile since we've had major PPVs going head-to-head with each other, but it happened this week when WWA aired it's 2nd ever PPV live from Las Vegas, going head-to-head with PRIDE. Dave recaps the history of head-to-head PPV battles, specifically the WWF vs. Crockett war in the late-80s. How Vince McMahon created Survivor Series specifically to run it in direct competition with Crockett's first ever PPV, Starrcade 87. The resulting loss of needed revenue was a huge reason why Crockett eventually had to sell the company to Ted Turner and, in retrospect, set into motion everything that led to WCW's eventual death last year. He goes on to recap how Royal Rumble was created and aired on free TV to go head-to-head with Crockett's next PPV attempt, Bunkhouse Stampede. Then Crockett responded by creating the first Clash of the Champions and airing it against Wrestlemania IV. Not sure PRIDE vs. WWA is up there in the same league as that PPV battle. Which, to be fair, Dave admits it's not the same thing.
  • Anyway, the PRIDE show was among the greatest events of all time, one of the very few times in the history of the Observer that a show got a unanimous 100% thumbs up vote on the reader poll. It aired in Japan live and in the U.S. on a bit of a delay, with the matches edited in a different order. In Japan, the card was headlined by Vanderlei Silva vs. former UWFI wrestler Kiyoshi Tamura, which was an excellent fight that Silva won. In the U.S., the show was built around Ken Shamrock vs. Don Frye in the main event (in Japan, it aired 3rd from last) and the 2 men had an absolute war that should shut up critics who say both are too old. Shamrock lost a split-decision in a fight that Dave thinks should have legitimately been a draw. (This fight is considered to this day one of the all-time wars in MMA history. An utter slobberknocker. Neither fighter was the same again afterward and Frye has said that the damage Shamrock did to his legs in this fight led to him later getting addicted to painkillers). After the fight, Shamrock went over to ringside and hugged his girlfriend Alicia Webb, who you may remember as Ryan Shamrock. The girl that played his sister in WWF.
WATCH: Don Frye vs. Ken Shamrock - PRIDE 19: Bad Blood (2002)
  • And then there was WWA. A low-budget, amateur-ish event, marred by bad production and no-shows. Not that the crowd would even know, because most of the lineup was never even announced ahead of time anyway. The scheduled main event of Jeff Jarrett vs. Randy Savage didn't happen because Savage held promoter Andrew McManus up for more money at the last minute. Savage originally had agreed to work the show in exchange for a 30% ownership stake in the company, which was agreed upon. But three days before the show, Savage upped the ante, saying he wanted the 30%, plus an extra $50,000 in cash. At that point, they started haggling back and forth to try to strike some kind of deal. Ownership got pulled off the table and then Savage asked for a flat $250,000 fee to work the show. WWA turned that down and came back with a flat $150,000 offer instead. Savage turned that down and at that point, everything broke down. For what it's worth, a lot of the lower card wrestlers on the show worked for $300. Last second attempts to bring in Sting to save the show didn't work either. Road Dogg was also supposed to appear on the show but couldn't because of legal issues. Word is he got arrested 2 days before the show in Florida on a probation violation. As a result, the PPV was headlined by Jeff Jarrett defending the WWA championship against Brian Christopher.
  • The whole show was simply an embarrassment. The production was completely minor league and the crowd was totally dead for all these long matches with guys nobody cares about. The in-ring work was fine, but the booking often made no sense, with overbooked three-ways and 6-way undercard matches that ended up being more clusterfuck than match. It was also one of those Russo-type things where the commentary team made endless inside-references that only the hardcore internet fans would get. But then again, this show only drew hardcore internet fans anyway, so why not? They also constantly made reference to WWF, which came across as desperate and sad. In particular, Larry Zbyszko was given the chance to cut a meandering promo, challenging Vince McMahon to a fight over some unspecified grievance from 20 years ago and criticized them for having Chris Jericho as their world champion. Dave thinks Zbyszko was actually angling for a job from WWF by trying to start his own angle and says this promo was basically his job application. And he thinks it was pretty pathetic. Backstage, the disorganization was apparent and most even within the company saw what a mess it was and have already given up on the promotion as a lost cause. Dave said this PPV made it clear that nobody will be challenging WWF anytime soon.
  • Other notes from the WWA Revolution PPV: yes, in case you're wondering, that Japanese man sitting behind the commentary table all night who very briefly (literally blink and miss it) got involved in the Scott SteineDisco Inferno tussle was indeed NJPW star Hiroyoshi Tenzan and yes, they flew him all the way from Japan (and had him bring his ring gear just in case), only to have him do almost nothing and never be acknowledged on camera. Eric Bischoff was backstage, as a guest of Ernest Miller. Bischoff laughed off any questions about going to WWF but said the ol' "never say never" shtick. The crowd was about 2,800, most of them freebies and they were desperately giving away tickets in the casino before the show. During the first match, the building looked practically empty so they quietly began moving everyone closer to ringside to pack the area around the ring to make it look presentable for TV. Opening 6-way match featuring all the hottest indie stars was a sloppy mess, with too people flying everywhere trying to get their shit in and the cameras missing most of it. Bret Hart came out and cut a long, rambling promo before announcing Brian Christopher was replacing Randy Savage in the main event, to zero crowd response. By the 5th match, people in the crowd could be seen leaving, never to return. Jerry Lynn showed up, interrupting an Eddie Guerrero interview, at which point Dave mentions, oh yeah by the way, the WWF released Jerry Lynn 2 days before the PPV. Considering WWF has been talking about reviving the cruiserweight division after Wrestlemania, Dave doesn't know why they'd get rid of a guy who could be one of the best in the division. Anyway, yeah, this show sucked. Here ya go, enjoy.
WATCH: WWA: The Revolution PPV - 2002
  • WWF's latest investor conference call took place and wasn't particularly newsworthy, but there's some stuff to note. The new agreement with DirecTV is until August of 2003 and is under the exact same terms they were operating under last year, which means WWF gained nothing while losing an estimated $4.4 million in revenue over the last few PPVs. Following the brand split, WWF plans to run 16 PPVs per year, and increasing the price by an extra $5. Linda McMahon said Wrestlemania 18 has sold 58,000 tickets as of the time of the call, for a record gate of $3.96 million, breaking the record set by last year's WM. Dave goes through all the numbers and for the most part, in comparison to previous quarters, almost everything is down. Which is no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention because WWF is clearly on the downswing. Linda also said they're currently interviewing new writers and are hoping to double their writing staff, which Dave thinks is a terrible idea (and time has damn sure proven him correct). Finally, Linda was also asked how the purchase of the WCW library has benefited the company, which Dave thinks is an interesting question since revenues have declined since then and the Invasion angle flopped so hard that it killed any brand value the name "WCW" may have had. Linda talked about the value of the tape library but Dave points out that it's been a year and WWF has done practically nothing with that library (of course, in the end, they found ways to monetize that WCW library and it more than paid for itself).
  • In his first match as an official member of the AJPW roster, Keiji Muto lost the Triple Crown championship to Toshiaki Kawada in a match nearly a year in the making, before a sold out crowd at Budokan Hall. He hasn't seen it yet, but the match was reported to Dave as a near-classic (he ends up giving it 4.5 stars). The other 2 NJPW stars who jumped ship, Kendo Kashin and Satoshi Kojima, also worked their first official AJPW matches. Kaz Hayashi, formerly a member of Jung Dragons in WCW and who worked in WWF's developmental until asking for his release a few weeks ago, also debuted on the show and will be part of Muto's faction.
WATCH: Keiji Muto vs. Toshiaki Kawada - AJPW 2-24-2002
  • Obituary time for Swede Hanson, who worked primarily in the Carolinas and had a brief run in the WWF as a cult favorite babyface in the early 80s. Sadly, he passed away in a mental hospital because he had advanced Alzheimer's disease which made it impossible for his family to handle him and they had him put away. Jeez, that's rough. He also had a litany of other health problems. Dave gives an in-depth history of his career in the 60s and 70s as a heel in the Carolinas before talking about the WWF run. Vince Sr. brought him in as a monster heel to challenge Bob Backlund, and Dave thinks someone else must have backed out at the last moment or something. By this time (in 1979), Hanson was well past his prime and hadn't been a major star anywhere in years but he was a big dude and so they brought him in to face Backlund and they actually sold out Madison Square Garden with Backlund vs. Hanson in the main event (though Dave says Bruno Sammartino working the undercard sure didn't hurt). The match sucked and almost immediately after, he became a jobber in the WWF, but Vince Jr, on commentary, just loved to call him "Rawboned Swede Hanson" and the "Rawboned" nickname caught on. Vince said it with such gusto that Hanson briefly became a cult favorite jobber from it and the crowd turned him babyface at damn near 50 years old. It led to a brief career resurgence and him having a small role in the Backlund/Billy Graham feud for the title before he finally faded into oblivion.
  • Mark Henry won the "world's strongest man" competition at the Arnold Classic bodybuilding and fitness event. Henry has been out of WWF for the past 2 months training for this competition and the training paid off, with Henry capturing first place and making a legitimate viable claim to his "strongest man in the world" moniker. During the event, Henry became the first man in 50 years to cleanly press the 366 pound Apollon wheel weight above his head. In another event, he carried an 800 pound block of bolted together railroad ties up a 40-foot ramp faster than the other competitors. For his victory, Henry won a $75,000 Humvee and some other cash prizes. Over the same weekend, he also won another $1,000 in a contest where he was able to lift an inch dumbbell (which weighs 172 pounds) to his shoulder with one arm. There's a bunch of other weightlifting stuff here, but you might be surprised to find out....I dunno shit about any of this. I got winded lifting pizza to my mouth earlier. Mark Henry strong.
WATCH: Mark Henry at the Arnold Classic 2002
  • Another obit for former wrestler, promoter, and father of 80s valet Baby Doll, Nick Roberts who died of pancreatic cancer. Once again, a bunch of details and stories about someone I've never heard of in wrestling history that Dave somehow knows everything about. I know I've said it before, but these obituary pieces are some of the greatest reasons for subscribing to the Observer.
  • Masahiro Chono says he wants to take NJPW in a more serious, realistic direction. No sports entertainment gaga nonsense, they want it to be like a real sports product. So much so that, in his own match with Manabu Nakanishi at the last big NJPW show, Chono wouldn't even bounce off the ropes, saying that it's not credible and no one would do that in a real fight. Ah yes, Inoki's gonna love this.
  • FMW wrestler Kodo Fuyuki has said he plans to try to keep the promotion running after it was announced it was folding last week. FMW still has 8 shows scheduled for this month and Fuyuki said he plans to try to run them himself and keep the company going (no such luck buddy).
  • Japan Today, an American newspaper that covers Japanese news daily, had a story on Antonio Inoki battling diabetes. It says he was first diagnosed in 1982, which Dave says is right around the time Inoki's in-ring work dropped off considerably when he lost his stamina. The story said for the last 20 years, Inoki has eaten a ridiculously healthy diet and is in better health now at 59 than he was then at 39.
  • Dave said he got tons of positive feedback on the debut of RF Video's Ring of Honor promotion in Philadelphia. The show was sold out in advance, was well organized, and had several really good matches. They limited a lot of the mistakes that most indie companies fall victim to, such as too many matches, too many run-ins, too much mic work, too many guys trying to do too much stuff, etc. Steve Corino and CZW announcer Eric Gargiulo did commentary. Eddie Guerrero faced Super Crazy in an excellent match and the main event was a three-way featuring Low-Ki, Christopher Daniels, and American Dragon that Dave has heard rave reviews for. And thus, ROH was born.
WATCH: Highlights from ROH's debut show in 2002
  • Vic Grimes took the most insane bump of all time at an XPW event before 1,500 fans in Los Angeles. Grimes was facing New Jack in a scaffold match said to be at least twice as high up as the fall Mick Foley took off the Hell in a Cell. The ring below had tables stacked 4-high to break his fall, but Grimes ended up missing most of the tables when New Jack overshot him. Perhaps on purpose. Grimes missed all but the corner tables at the edge of the ring before coming down on the corner turnbuckles. After the bump, they tried to rush fans out of the arena since it was almost 1am and gave many the impression Grimes life was in danger. But he was surprisingly okay and was walking around backstage after, although he was definitely banged up. Grimes was really nervous about the bump earlier in the day, as you might expect and Dave says he's pretty damn lucky he didn't miss the ring because he almost certainly would have died if he took that bump straight to the floor. Elsewhere on the show, there was a match where porn star Lizzy Borden (wife of XPW promoter Rob Black) faced another porn star, Veronica Caine, in a match that was supposed to end only when someone was stripped totally naked. But right before it happened, the lights went out and the women were rushed out of the ring and when fans realized they'd been ripped off, they were so pissed the arena feared a riot. (Anyway, here's the bump and yeah....Grimes very easily could have died from this. No mention from Dave on the fact that New Jack also tazed him before this)
WATCH: Air Grimes goes long
  • Shane Douglas is expected to take over as XPW booker when his WCW contract with Time Warner expires next month.
  • Former WCW journeyman wrestler Chip Minton's primary career was bobsledding. He only wrestled in WCW occasionally while doing that, primarily as a jobber on the C-shows. Minton was part of the US bobsledding team in both the 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics and was planning to compete this year, but failed to make the team. Soon after that, he failed a steroid test and has been suspended from the sport for 2 years.
  • Remember a couple weeks ago, it was mentioned that Roddy Piper was in a car accident but he was playing down how serious it was? Turns out....very serious. Piper suffered 4 broken ribs, one of which punctured his liver and nearly killed him. He also suffered severe back injuries and shattered his ankle. Piper was taken to the hospital and was near death but obviously, he managed to pull through and has still been making all his appearances for XWF in recent days. (Yeah I think in Piper's autobiography, he dedicates the book to the guy who saved his life by rushing him to the hospital and even says he was clinically dead for a few moments. Then again, Piper was like a lot of those old time guys and was prone to exaggeration, so who knows).
  • Eric Bischoff is teaming up with Mark Burnett, the producer of the hit show Survivor, to produce a MMA reality show called Skien. From Dave's understanding, it will basically be a reality show with K-1 kickboxers leading up to a PPV event. (Here's an article about it from Variety at the time, but this ends up going nowhere).
WATCH: Variety article on Eric Bischoff's new reality show
  • Notes from Raw: only one thing really notable, they filmed a segment at referee Tim White's bar The Friendly Tap. The bar really is owned by White and WWF pretty much always films angles there when they're in town (Providence, RI). This time, the skit featured the APA going into the bar to drink and the bar was filled by a bunch of gay men and drag queens (played by a bunch of wrestlers from indie promotion Chaotic Wrestling) while the APA guys acted all grossed out by it all. Then Billy and Chuck attacked them. Dave thinks this played on all the typical homophobic stereotypes and he seems pretty irritated by it. Anyway, among the wrestlers from Chaotic were Todd Sinclair (better known now as ROH's senior official), Rich Palladino (ring announcer for Beyond now) and John Walters (indie wrestler and former ROH Pure champion).
  • Next week's Smackdown hasn't aired yet but it was taped and Dave has details. Notably, this is the episode where Austin chases down the NWO and tries to shoot them with a net gun. Dave says this was a mess, with the gun going off but no net being fired from it and they'll have to fix the whole thing in post-production. It went horribly when they filmed it and it aired for the live crowd and it killed the crowd and basically forced them to improvise on the spot (on one of the Something To Wrestle podcasts, Bruce Prichard tells this story and how frustrated they were with this net gun being a piece of shit). This episode also featured Stephanie yelling at Chris Jericho for getting her the wrong hand lotion and Booker T and Edge feuding over a Japanese shampoo commercial. (Rock/Hogan was great, but man, the build for everything else at Wrestlemania 18 suuuuuucked.)
  • Prototype won the OVW title from Leviathan at the latest OVW tapings. After the match, they did an angle to set up David Flair as the #1 contender for the title. Prototype's only singles loss in OVW came last week, when Flair beat him, so there ya go (this video covers ALL of that. The FlaiCena match, the Leviathan match, the post-match angle, etc).
WATCH: Prototype vs. Leviathan for OVW title - 2002
  • Wall Street Journal did an article talking about the decline in Smackdown's ratings, saying they were down 28% from last year and down 42% from the year before that. The article blamed it on Smackdown changing networks. Here's the thing though....it hasn't. Raw changed networks in 2000. Smackdown has been on UPN since its debut. Also, UPN has grown overall in ratings while Smackdown has declined. So....no. It's just because the show sucks now.
  • Charlie Haas, fresh off returning to the ring and winning the HWA title after the death of his brother, tore his ACL this week. He just had surgery and will be out 4-6 months. Rough few months for that dude.
  • A Washington newspaper did a story on James Dudley, who you may know as....WWF Hall of Famer James Dudley and little else. On-screen, he's never really done much. But Dave says Dudley started working for Vince Sr. back in the 1940s, when Sr. was a boxing promoter, and was essentially his Vince Sr.'s driver and assistant. Dudley did a lot of odd jobs for the company during those early years, working ticket booths and stuff like that, but to most people, he was just kinda known as Vince Sr.'s limo driver. So when he was indicted into the WWF Hall of Fame a few years ago, it was a pretty controversial decision among a lot of people, given that someone like Bruno Sammartino isn't in, by the company's limo driver is. Anyway, before his death, Vince Sr. made Vince Jr. promise to take care of Dudley and keep him on the payroll. So for the last 18 years or so, even though he doesn't work for the company, Vince McMahon has continued to pay him a salary. He also bought him a new car as a gift some years back.
  • Billy and Chuck's recent tag team title win makes Billy Gunn the most decorated tag team wrestler in WWF history, as he's now held the tag titles 9 times (3 as part of the Smoking Gunns, 5 as part of New Age Outlaws, and now once with he and Chuck). The previous record was Mick Foley, with 8. (to the best of my research, if we're only talking WWF/WWE tag title reigns, that record is now held by Edge).
  • USA Network CEO Barry Diller took part in a lecture at Syracuse University and talked about losing the WWF to TNN. When asked why it happened, he responded, "Because I'm a dope." He said he didn't fight hard enough to keep the WWF and admitted the loss hurt, but also said it may have been the best thing for them in the long-run because pro wrestling doesn't really fit the direction they're planning to take the network. He said wrestling fans came for wrestling and left immediately after it was over and there was never any cross-over fans who stuck around to watch the next show or anything like that. He said they could never figure out what to connect wrestling to within the rest of their properties.
  • WWF held a try out camp in Cincinnati and reportedly, nobody was particularly impressive, including AJ Styles. The knock on Styles was that he's average looking and too small. Wrestler Sonny Siaki was said to be the most impressive, but he also rubbed people the wrong way with his attitude so probably not gonna make the cut this time. Matt Morgan, who was on the Tough Enough casting special last season got a tryout and since he has no formal training, he was pretty awful but he's big so Dave seems to think he'll get a chance anyway. The other one they were impressed by was a woman named Erin Bray, who was one of the final 25 picked for the original Tough Enough. But then some other contestants spotted her out on a date with one of the show's judges and they threw a fit, which resulted in Bray not making the final 13. Another wrestler, Travis Tomko, is a guy who has worked some indies and is a former bodyguard for Limp Bizkit ("Tomko, gimme a beat." "No.")
  • Rock was a presenter at the NAACP Awards and Dave thinks he looked pretty great for a guy who was almost murdered in an ambulance by the NWO a few days earlier. Cheeky Dave is just the best.
  • Speaking of, Dave throws in a random paragraph to backhandedly shit on Kevin Nash. For years, people in the business joked that Lex Luger made the most money with the least ability or drawing power of anyone ever in wrestling. Dave says it's gotta be Nash. For example, Nash is not wrestling and is only going to be in Hall's corner for the match at Wrestlemania (his knees really are giving him problems), but he has been promised that he's going to get the same type of payoff as if he was the guy in the match working with Austin in the semi-main event. Not to mention all the huge contracts he signed in WCW, or how he got a huge-by-WWF-standards deal here, plus got Vince to cave to almost all his other demands regarding schedule and bringing back Scott Hall, among other things. (I mean, while Dave is being kind of a dick here, I don't think he's really wrong either. When it comes to top draws in the history of the business, Nash isn't anywhere near even the top 10 or 20. And he's never exactly been a great wrestler. But since the 90s, Nash always managed to make sure he gets PAID like he's in that upper echelon. Nash is one of those very few wrestlers who isn't entranced by the fame or the fake accolades. He treats wrestling for what it is: a business. It's the way they pay their mortgages and buy groceries, just like you and me at our jobs. I love it. I laugh my ass off every time I hear "Brock Lesnar signed a huge new contract to only work 6 matches a year." Good for him. I hope he gets even more money for less dates next year. You should always know your worth and never let your employer take you for anything less. Nash has always been one of the guys to do that and he's probably going to die comfortably in a nice house while these other guys from his era are still clinging to fame at 60 years old doing $300 indie shows on crippled knees. Anyway, that's my soapbox). Dave seems to feel the same way and admits, love him or hate him, you gotta give Nash credit for being one of the smartest guys in the biz.
  • Fear Factor featuring the Hardyz, Lita, Test, Molly Holly, and Jacquelyn aired this week. First they had to climb up a rope ladder hanging from a helicopter over the river and they all made it up except Jeff Hardy who slipped near the top and fell (knowing Jeff, he probably purposely let go so he could take the big fall for fun). Lita also got eliminated for being the slowest one up the ladder. Next they had to chug a gross drink that included bile, rooster testicals, spleen, and some animal brains all blended together. Molly Holly almost vomited after one sip and was out. Jackie and Matt succeeded. Test refused to even try. So then it came down to Matt vs. Jackie and they had to walk across the tops of high poles and move flags around. Matt Hardy ended up winning the whole thing and won $50,000 for charity.
WATCH: WWF stars on Fear Factor, Pt. 1
WATCH: WWF stars on Fear Factor, Pt. 2
WATCH: WWF stars on Fear Factor, Pt. 3
  • Sunday Night Heat is being converted into one of the B-shows like Metal and Jakked. Awhile back, they started airing Heat from the WWF New York restaurant but the production costs of that were high. So in a cost-cutting move, they're just gonna tape dark matches and throw them on Heat the same way they do those other shows, featuring all the nobodies that can't ever get TV time on the main shows.
  • As mentioned last week, Scott Hall has been taking a drug called Antabuse, which makes him violently sick when he drinks or even smells alcohol. It caused him to get sick after Raw last week when Austin poured beer all over him in a bit after the cameras were off. Hall has said he is clean and has been clean for awhile, except for the incident a couple weeks ago where he fell off the wagon. Others are skeptical and question if Hall only takes his medication on TV days and needless to say, there's some doubt here.
  • Everywhere he goes, Brian Christopher has been telling people he's coming back to WWF after Wrestlemania, but contrary to what he's saying, Dave says there are zero plans for that (indeed, it does not happen).
FRIDAY: More on WWA's PPV disaster, the landscape for any new promotion attempting to start up, WWF huge show in Japan, WWF loses appeal over "WWF" initials, Bret Hart given offer for Wrestlemania 18, and tons more...
submitted by daprice82 to SquaredCircle [link] [comments]

A Vegas Miracle - how I won $129,000 in my 3rd tournament ever

This is how I won $129,000 in my 3rd ever poker tournament. Note: don't try this, it probably won't turn out well for you.
I spent about 6 months grinding up a $5,000 bankroll playing home/casino games ranging from .5/1 to 1/3. The week that I hit that $5,000 mark, Matt, one of my best friends from college informed me that his job had placed him in Las Vegas for the next month and that I could crash with him for a few nights if I wanted to come on out west. I had frequent flyer miles for the flight and some Mlife/Fremont hotel comps for the rest of the trip. My grand total for flight and lodging for 10 days came to $200.
Now, I’m not going to bore you guys with low-level cash hand histories. The next 10 days were filled with me playing lowstakes poker for 10-12 hours a day. It’s as fun as it sounds – it’s not. I was having a good time in Vegas otherwise – but towards the end of the trip I had a realization: 1/2’s the same everywhere. I didn’t have to fly out to the desert to raise to $7 preflop.
After 10 days, my grand total from poker (and a fair amount of dumb degenerate shit on Fremont) was -$186. That wasn’t what I came out to do — I knew that I was a better player than my recent results had indicated. The morning of my return flight, I decided I was going to play tournaments until I either busted my $5,000 bankroll or hit something worthwhile.
I impulsively decided to not get on my plane at 11:30am. Checkout time from Luxor was at 11:00 – and I didn’t know where I was going yet. I had 30 minutes to pack up my stuff and figure out where I was going before they’d charge me a fee. I sorted TripAdvisor by cheapest first – I’ve stayed in crappy hostels/motels before and overall am a very low maintenance person. I figured that by staying somewhere for $20 a night, I’d be able to maximize the amount of shots I could take before flying back home. I accepted that there was a real chance I’d go back broke – but I didn’t really care. If I didn’t take my shot now, then when?
I booked the cheapest bed in Vegas - a 6-person shared hostel just past the Stratosphere. Let's just say you get what you pay for — it was not a happy place. A fair amount of the people in there were bordering on homelessness and there was barbed wire surrounding their outdoor gym. In addition to this, I had the constant stress of knowing that all that separated my bankroll from the rest of my roommates was a tiny lock. I took the Deuce to the strip, lived off food comps, and turned down invites from my friends to hang out. I was in town to play poker, nothing else.
Disclaimer: I had never played tournaments prior to heading out to Vegas. My only knowledge of hand ranges was from watching televised events. I downloaded a free Nash chart app on my phone while on the Deuce to the strip and studied it for 5 minutes – whatever, I get the jist of it. Let’s play some cards.
The first day of doing this I played the $140 daily at the Aria. Top 13 spots paid -- I finished in 15th. It was depressing to say the least — I felt as if I was at rock bottom. Before the first night of sleeping at the hostel I called the airline to see if I could get on the flight that I had deliberately missed the day prior. I couldn't.
I made it my goal to at least cash something so that I could get a decent hotel room.
I couldn’t have slept more than 2-3 hours the first night there. One of my roommates was loudly vomiting all night, the sheets itched, and I was going through an existential crisis... like dude, you’ve got a finance degree and you’re really doing this shit?
While on the bus to the strip, I opened Poker Atlas and saw that there was a $200 satellite to win a seat into the $1,600 Venetian main event. I decided that I was going to go take a shot at that.
I was at risk twice in the satellite but after studying the GTO method on how to win coinflips, I persevered and won a seat to the main.
The first day was surreal – once again, I was running on minimal sleep due to my housing arrangements, but I remember the following hands from day 1:
  1. Button opens to 2.2x, I’m in the BB with Q9cc. SB folds, we go HU to a flop of 832c. He c-bets, I call. Turn 4x, x/x. River Ax. I check, he bets, I x/r to like 3x his bet, he insta folds. I take it down and show air.
  2. UTG+1 opens, MP calls, I flat on the button with K10ss. 3 ways to a flop of Qs43xx. UTG+1 bets 40% pot, MP calls, I call. Turn is the Js. UTG+1 bets 60% pot, MP calls, I flat. River comes the 8s. UTG+1 snap bets 80%. MP flats, I flat. I announce king high flush, they both muck.
  3. Folds to the SB, he limps, I look down at Q10o, and check. Flop comes KQ6r. He leads 35%, I call. Turn 10. He bets, I call. River comes a J. He bets, I tank for about 45 seconds then flick in a call, he shows 76o… ship it.
The average stack after day 1 was around 40k, I bagged like 65k. I walked back to the Deuce stop outside of the Venetian and headed on my 30 minute ride back home. I kept thinking to myself, someone’s gotta win this thing, why not me?
I had to get in the money for this tournament to be able to get the fuck out of there. A min cash here was over $3k – that was more than enough for me to get a suite on Fremont for a few nights and party for a bit, then get home with my head held high.
Day 2: I get up at 7am after already being completely awake for the past 4 hours. There’s no way I slept more than 3 hours last night. I hit the Denny’s by the Stratosphere then get on the Deuce.
I get to the Venetian and feel like I’m about to fall asleep. I go to the self-serve coffee/tea dispenser in the middle of the room and make myself an iced coffee. I get to my table, and the cocktail waitress comes around. I ask for another iced coffee and toss her a fiver.
Here are some highlights from the 1st half of day 2:
  1. I open 97ss on the button, BB flats. Flop comes AK3s. BB checks, I bet 35%. He throws out a 5k chip – which I interpret as a x/r to my bet. I groan, make a joke about it being the first hand of the day, and start to muck. The dealer stops my cards midway before hitting the muck, and informs me that he didn’t raise, that he called my flop bet. Everyone laughs, I go silent and wait for him to make change. Turn is the 2s. He thinks for a second and bets 30%. I tank for like 30 seconds, then flat. River is a blank. He thinks for a second, then checks. I bet like 30% pot. He tells me that I’m an angle shooter and mucks. I tell him I’m not an angle shooter and show my 9 high. Everyone laughs, we get on with playing.
  2. CO opens, I 3b 87dd in the SB to 4x, he flats. Flop comes 1032d. I check, he checks. Turn is the 6d. I bet 55% pot, he flats. River comes the Kd. I bet 60%, he tanks, tells me he thinks I backdoored diamonds, then folds. Damn, these players are pretty good.
  3. I open KK UTG to 2.5x, UTG +1 flats. Heads up to a flop of K43r. x/x. Turn 8, I bet 40% pot, he calls. River 3, I bet 80% pot, he tanks, then calls with AK.
I bring my 3 racks of chips to the new table and immediately get some comments – whatever, I’m just on a heater, it happens. At this point, my body was giving out. I was trying my hardest not to fall asleep in between every hand.
Cutoff opens, I’m in the SB, I look down at KK. I put in the 3b, folds back to him. He puts in a healthy 4. We’re the two big stacks at the table – I’d guess he was 50bb effective while I was around 65bb. God damn, am I good enough to fold kings here? No, I’m not. I shove, he snaps, I know that I’ve just fucked up my tournament. He shows the aces. The dealer puts a king in the window, and I hold. I’m for sure the chip leader now.
I lose a few 40/60 and 60/40 flips and chip down a bit. I still have a very healthy stack, probably around 80bb.
The next 3 hands are from the second half of day 2:
  1. Aggro Asian guy on the button. Folds to him, he opens to 2.2x, SB folds, I look down at 43ss and raise to 7.5x, he flats.
Flop comes 894cc. I check, he bets, I call. Turn’s another 9. I check, he bets 75% pot, I call. River’s the 10c. I check, he bets 1.2x pot. I ask the dealer for a count of the bet – meanwhile, villain looks like he’s going to shit himself. I flick in a chip, he throws down KcQx. I laugh a little, show my 43ss, and obnoxiously say ship it.
  1. I open KQo UTG+1, MP 3bets me. I figure that a 4b from UTG+1 could take it down a fair amount of the time, so I decide to go for it. He thinks for a second and flats.
Flop comes AK4r. I check, he checks back. Turn is a 6, goes x/x again. River’s another brick. I put in a 30% value bet. He does a little grimace and tanks for like 20 seconds. It looks like he’s going to fold so I start verbally telling him that his queens are good. The dealer informs me that you’re not allowed to talk about your hand to another player. I inform him that I’m not talking about my hand, I’m talking about villains’ hand. Dealer laughs and lets me continue to antagonize villain. MP starts talking back, asking if I’m really bluffing. I inform him that once he folds, I’ll show the bluff. He ends up calling, I snap show, he pays me then gets up from the table to go for a walk.
  1. We’re playing 6 handed. UTG opens, MP flats, I flat TT on the button. 3 ways to a flop of AT9ccc. UTG bets 50% pot, MP folds, I put in a medium sized raise. He thinks about it and flats.
The turn is the Kd. He pauses for a second then checks. I figured AxKc was his most likely combo. I didn’t think he could fold AxKc to any sizing – I decide to overbet jam 2x pot. He tanks for like 5 min and eventually lets it go. He tells me later he folded AxKc. Nice fold sir.
I finished day two 2nd in chips out of the 64 players remaining. More importantly, I was in the money. My friend Matt offered to give me a ride to the hostel to grab my stuff.
On the way to the hostel I’m telling Matt how trash the place is and he’s kind of like yeah man, whatever, it can’t be that bad. We gather my belongings and head on out. Matt remarked to me that the hostel reminded him of jail mixed with a summer camp.
I open a same night hotel app and see a room at the Four Queens available for $110. The lady at check in was nice enough – however, she informed me that the only room they had available at my price point was a smoking room overlooking the Fremont St. experience. I paid the $20 to upgrade to a non-smoking in the quiet part of the hotel. Vegas man, I swear.
It’s like 2am at this point -- I get to my room, sit on the bed and close my eyes. I open them and it’s 11:00am. Ah fuck man, I gotta get to the Venetian. I hop in the shower, brush my teeth, and freshen up. Even if I don’t have clean clothes, whatever, I’m second in the main, who cares.
Some interesting hands from the first part of Day 3:
  1. I had two inexcusable punts in this tournament. This is the first one: I open 5h5c from LP, BB calls. Flop comes J62hhh. x/x. Turn is a 4x. x, I bet 50% pot, BB jams 15bb. I called – and immediately realized I fucked up, big time. He had 2 big chips in his stack that I didn’t see, making his shove effectively like 25bb. In addition, I didn’t have the 5h, I had the 5d. I really didn’t ask for a count or double check my hole cards. Villain turns over 64o and holds. In my defense, I literally didn’t know what ICM meant at the time. Whoops.
  2. Someone who I recognize from poker TV jams 22bb UTG. I’m in the CO with JJ, I ask him how much it is, he’s talkative and seems genuinely comfortable/down for me to call. I fold – I run into him a few days later at the Aria, he tells me he had AA there. I believe him.
  3. CO opens, button instantly jams 30bb effective. I’m in the SB with TT and 25bb – live reads, we’re flipping. I call for all in my effective stack, CO folds, button has AQ. I hold. He’s not happy I called with tens. Oh well, sorry bro, gg.
  4. MP opens, CO 3 bets to 7bb, button jams 20bb. I look down at 2 black aces in the big blind. I reshove, MP folds, CO calls off his 20bb stack. I’m up against AQ and QQ. I hold.
Even with my atrocious punt earlier in the day, I’m the chip leader again.
We’re down to about 15 left in the field. UTG opens, I 3b AKo on the button, he jams 20bb, I call. He has 99, a king comes on the flop and he’s gone.
It’s day 3 of the main and we’re playing 5 handed with 12 people left. Let’s fucking go.
  1. Button opens to 2.5x, I’m in the BB with A8dd, I flat. Flop comes A104r, I check, he bets, I call. Turn is a 7, x/x. River A, I bet 1.2x pot. He tanks, calls, I show, I’m good.
  2. CO opens to 2.5x, I’m in the BB with 108dd, I flat. Flop comes Kd4x2d, it goes x/x. Turn is a Kx, I check, he bets 60% pot, I flat. River is the 4d. I check, he bets pot. I tank and let it go. He tells me later he checked back a weak king on the flop.
  3. SB completes, I’m in the BB with J9o and I check my option. Flop comes Q108r. The SB donks out into me for 60% pot. I flat. Turn comes a brick and he leads into me for 60% again. I raise to 3.5x his turn bet, he thinks for a while then flats. River is another brick. He bets 80% pot into me. I tank for a while, then shove. He starts laughing and folds QQ face up.
Less than a week ago I was grinding buffet comps at Planet Hollywood. Now I have guys correctly folding top set to me.
I’ve made it to the final table. I pick up a few small pots and the two shortstacks at the table get eliminated in quick succession.
This is without a doubt the most pointless and just plain out stupid punt of my entire life: I open J2dd on the button into a ~18bb SB and a GTO robot with mid 7 figures in career earnings in the BB. Don’t do this, this is quite literally lighting money on fire. SB folds, BB flats. Flop comes Kh8h3d. I cbet, BB calls. Turn is the Kd, goes x/x.
River comes a 7h, he leads into me for half pot. Whatever, I’m going for it – I put in a raise. He thinks for all of 5 seconds then calls me with KQh. Wow, I just punted away $50,000 in ICM. Jesus Christ dude, what the fuck.
For the next orbit or two, I’m clearly pissed at myself. I get up after my button and do a lap around the poker room – I’m good. The monkey tilt is gone, and I’m ready to get back to playing normal ranges.
Anyway, nothing else really happens for a while – I look down at AKo UTG and raise it up. Folds around to the BB, he thinks for a while, then jams for about 20bb. I snap, he has AQo. I hold. I’m now second in chips. We go on a 10-minute break.
When I get back to the table, the prospect of a 5-way chop comes up. We’re all tired – and the pay jumps are very significant. If you couldn’t tell from this story, I’m a degenerate, but in this spot, I’m willing to reduce variance a bit. We run the numbers and come to an agreement – we all agree to take a very slight ICM bump to give 1st place a bit more money than his stack is worth.
I just won $129,000 -- huh? This was my second tournament cash – not too bad considering that it was my third tournament ever. Maybe I should start learning how to play MTT’s now.
I take $124,000 in a check and $5,000 in cash. I’m leaving Vegas in 4 days and don’t plan on coming home with any of the cash.
The winner of the tournament’s a pretty cool guy and he asks if I want to crash in his guest room tonight… like yeah, if that’s a real offer, I’m down. I pick up my toiletry bag from the Venetian concierge and we hit the Uber.
The next morning Matt picks me up at his house – I hit the Chase bank and deposit the $124,000. I take Matt and my other friend, Spencer out to the Sterling Brunch over at Bally’s – the entire time, Spencer just kept repeating “Davis, what the fuck”. I don’t know dude, seriously, what the fuck.
I get a suite at the D downtown that night and (very) long story short I end up hitting $100 on a number at roulette at 5am. It’s time for bed.
Here’s a link to my Hendon Mob, verifying my tournament result. Hopefully I see some of you guys at the WSOP in 2021.
https://pokerdb.thehendonmob.com/player.php?a=r&n=783521
Davis
submitted by davish34 to poker [link] [comments]

The Legendary Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards

The Legendary Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards
JERRY'S NUGGET PLAYING CARDS
Almost every hobby that involves collecting has a holy grail which every collector dreams of finding and owning in their personal collection. For some playing card collectors, the grail of collecting would be a sealed deck of original Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards in pristine condition. If you've spent some time in the world of playing cards, you'll almost certainly have heard of this famous deck, because name-dropping the famous "Jerry's Nuggets" often happens in discussion forums about cards. Owning an original deck of these is often mentioned as a badge of honour that cements your credentials as a serious collector. If you have one, it's likely a prized item in your collection, because it is one of the most iconic and valuable decks of cards there is from the latter half of the 20th century.
These playing cards were first created in 1970 in order to be used at Jerry's Nugget Casino, which is located in Las Vegas, Nevada. The casino was founded by Jerry Lodge and Jerry Stamis in 1964, hence the name "Jerry". It's still owned and operated by the Stamis family today.
But after being manufactured, the Jerry's Nugget playing cards were put into storage for around 20 years, and were never used on the casino's gaming tables. Why? Even the folks at the casino don't remember the reasons why. Was it because they wanted to keep in step with the other casinos in town that were using borderless Bee-backed cards at the time? Was it because the back design was too detailed or too simple, and could be marked too easily by card cheats? Who knows.
At any rate, they were sometimes offered as complimentary gifts to guests who stayed at the casino, while the rest were eventually sold individually at the casino's gift store for as little as one or two dollars each. They finally sold out around 1999, and according to rumour the final case was purchased by an overseas buyer.. But with magician and playing card expert Lee Asher singing their praises and selling them on his website, and with cardists Dan and Dave Buck also getting on the bandwagon, using them in some of their cardistry videos, and vouching for them, demand only continued to grow.

https://preview.redd.it/nkubo992c0e51.jpg?width=463&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=945cb8c6b15b6e823a43050d5cb9e82bc50c52a3
What made these playing cards special is that they were produced with a top-of-the-line grade of USPCC card-stock that was only produced for a limited period of time. It is thinner than most contemporary playing cards, and is simply not available today. What's more, modern printing methods simply can't replicate the original process used to produce these playing cards. This involved a cotton roller that would paint the embossing pattern on one side of the card, followed by a varnished finish that was applied by a dip coat technique. Environmental restrictions also mean that the chemical finish used for this has been abandoned. In short, technology has made these manufacturing methods completely obsolete, and this all means that it's just not possible for there to be anything quite like these decks ever again.
That in itself wouldn't make them the stuff of legend. But Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards began to develop a legendary reputation for amazing handling qualities. Demand began to increase, and over time, they have become highly sought after by playing card collectors and by those with an interest in card flourishing. As demand increased, the price went up, and their growing scarcity means that today you can expect to pay up to $500 for a deck on the secondary market.
As often happens in such cases, the story of Jerry's Nuggets Playing Cards began to attract some interesting side stories. There are reports about a large remaining haul of these playing cards being bought up from the gift shop, and held back by an unknown stranger who is sitting on what is now a valuable commodity. They also attracted the attention of counterfeiters, since the increasing price-tag suddenly made it viable to sell forgeries. Lee Asher has an extensive guide that contains information to help you identify illegal fakes, after sophisticated counterfeiters began flooding the market with them just over a decade ago.
But all this has only served to add to the legend that is Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards. Today most playing card collectors and magicians have all heard of Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards, and consider them to be the stuff of legend: a unique product with legendary handling, that is hard to find, and impossible to reproduce. As the old adage puts it, it's something often imitated but never duplicated. And as the number of playing card collectors continues to grow, the appeal, scarcity, and value of a deck of authentic Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards only continues to increase.

https://preview.redd.it/e6owf022c0e51.jpg?width=500&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=fb71ed6945e6968f0892ca68914f43ce5897b370
A RECREATION OF THE ORIGINAL
But this doesn't end the story of the famous Jerry's Nugget playing cards. Given how much in demand these legendary decks were, it was only a matter of time before someone saw a business opportunity here. What about a reprint, to cater to the desire of modern collectors to own their own copy of Jerry's Nuggets? The idea was not a new one, and it appears that there have been other Jerry's Nugget decks produced besides the ones that have become the stuff of legend, including a small printing by USPCC around 2010.
But in 2019 the market was ripe for producing something that would serve as a tribute and homage to the famous Jerry's Nuggets, while retaining as much of the original as possible. So a crowdfunding project was launched to produce an authentic recreation of the original Jerry's Nugget playing cards. Obviously such a deck could never be an exact replica, not only because printing methods made this impossible, but also because look-alike decks might only be abused by people seeking to make a quick buck by passing them off as a genuine vintage copy.
The recreation project happened with the blessing of Jerry's Nugget Casino, and with the cooperation of the United States Playing Card Company (USPCC), and the Expert Playing Card Company (EPCC). The amount of support this Kickstarter received is in itself a testimony to the popularity of these iconic decks. It raised almost half a million dollars, with the support of over 4,000 backers.
Two main versions of the deck were produced. The Modern Feel deck was produced by USPCC, with their popular thin-crushed stock preferred by many cardists. This means that its quality, feel, and handling performance is very similar to any other thin-crushed cardistry deck printed in their factories. But unlike most custom decks, the high volume of decks produced meant that USPCC could print these reproductions on the larger web press which they also use for big print runs of their Bicycle decks.
The Vintage Feel deck was produced by EPCC, and was manufactured in China with what is known as their "JN Finish". This is a firmer and more snappy card stock than what USPCC uses, while also being somewhat thin, smooth, and yet very durable. In EPCC's estimation, these match the look and feel of the originals as close as anyone has been able to achieve. In reality, many have reported that they don't quite live up to this claim, and suggest that the cards tend to clump more quickly then a USPCC deck, and that intense shuffling of the red deck can cause some bleeding of the colour onto the card faces. My own experience with the Vintage Feel decks has been fairly positive, and I appreciate the thin card-stock, smooth feel, and snappy handling. It performs more similar to a typical USPCC deck than the Master finish decks from EPCC deck do, but with heavy use the coating will wear, making spreads and fan inconsistent, although the fact that the cards tend to cling together slightly under pressure makes it ideal for packet cuts and sleights like the double lift.

https://preview.redd.it/42e9if37c0e51.jpg?width=500&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=963e0b01412960904ac80af530bb2d2e8d277b2e
So how do these decks compare with the original Jerry's Nugget decks from the 1970s in terms of looks? In the case of both decks, colour matching was used to recreate the iconic red and blue colours as closely as possible. The back design, court cards, and Jokers are all the same as the originals, as is the Ace of Spades (aside from some tiny numbers). There's also an off-center seal and a red tear strip on the plastic, all of which were distinctive features of the original deck as well. Both the Modern Feel and Vintage Deal decks also have a traditional cut.
A difference that the Modern Feel decks have from the original Jerry's Nuggets is that they come with an extra two cards (a double backer and a blank card), since USPCC now prints decks with 56 cards instead of 54. The new deck is also clearly distinguished from the original deck since the bottom of the tuck box states "Modern Feel 1st Edition - 2019".
The Vintage Feel deck shares one extra similarity with the original deck that the Modern Feel deck does not, namely the style of the long-tongue flap. This is a distinctive feature of the original tuck box, but couldn't be replicated with the Modern Feel decks due to the fact that USPCC has long discontinued this style of tuck design. And of course the unique and snappy stock of the Vintage Feel decks makes them look and feel different than a traditional USPCC printed deck, much like the original Jerry's Nuggets also had a unique touch about them.
Due to the high level of crowdfunding, many extras were produced as part of the campaign for the recreated decks. The Modern Feel deck was produced in two additional colours, Teal and Coral, as well as a blue luxury foil deck, a stripper deck, and a gaff deck. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards, the year 2020 has seen the release of yet more colours for the Vintage Feel decks, making them available in Steel Grey, Black, Yellow. A Modern Feel deck in rose (pink) was also recently released as part of a collaboration with Riffle Shuffle Playing Card Company, while a purple deck is being released in conjunction with Penguin Magic.
Suddenly, the market is full of Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards once again. But unlike the originals, they are now very affordable and readily available, which was one of the aims of this project. Now anyone can own their own deck of Jerry's Nuggets, without breaking the bank, with a recreation that is faithful to the striking and iconic design of the originals, and yet has the qualities and performance that the modern collector wants and expects.

https://preview.redd.it/nw5fez68c0e51.jpg?width=500&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=3c930544afcaf22fe8cb0ba63cb49b21c94fb4e5
CHICKEN NUGGET PLAYING CARDS
At this point you might think there is little more to say about the famous Jerry's Nuggets. Not so, because there is one more important chapter to tell in this saga. This one, however, is a miniature comedy, and will especially appeal to those with a good sense of humour.
Already back in 2016, and well before the concept of the recreated Jerry's Nugget decks appeared, Taiwanese magician and cardist Hanson Chien decided to create something very similar to the original Jerry's Nuggets, as somewhat of a joke: the Chicken Nugget Playing Cards.
Hanson has extensive experience as a magician and a cardist, and magicians know a thing or two about achieving the impossible. As a result, the fact these classic decks could not be replicated was not about to stop him. He set about to recreate them in the form of a parody deck, that would serve as a tribute to the original and iconic Jerry's Nuggets, but at the same time serving as a witty satire that would poke fun at our love for fast food. Not surprisingly, especially because this was prior to the announcement of the official replicas in 2019, these were tremendously popular, due to the Jerry's Nugget look, as well as the amusing artwork.
To produce the decks, Hanson set up his own playing card company, Hanson Chien Production Company (HCPC). He also used the exact colour specifications from the familiar red and blue originals, and he employed creative artist Limin for the artwork.
It was important to retain as many of the distinctive features of the original decks as possible, so the Chicken Nuggets carefully replicate details such as the off-center tax stamp, the red tear-strip on the plastic wrapper, and the historical 1970 date inside the tuck box flap. Paper of the same weight and texture of the old tax stamp was used, with a similar design and shape. The card backs feature the familiar "oil derrick" design of the originals, but with an important difference: these now read "Chicken Nugget".
But perhaps the biggest unique contribution that this parody deck makes is with the court cards. At first sight, everything seems very standard, until you look more closely at them.

https://preview.redd.it/gxdhub8yb0e51.jpg?width=500&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=accefe6496a22e0f7144967349b0514209d3fce2
Upon close observation, you'll see all kinds of details that parody our love for fast food. The royal characters that inhabit the court cards are consuming all kinds of junk food, including sweet things like ice-cream, chocolate, and donuts, snacks like potato chips and popcorn, plus American favourites like hamburgers, hot dogs, and french fries. Even noodles come in for punishment, as our court card friends are literally stuffing themselves with all kinds of unhealthy eats and drinks! The artwork will prove amusing even for people unfamiliar with the original Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards that these pay homage to. The court cards in particular are quite hilarious and well-drawn, and reflect a good sense of humor.
Of course anyone who is familiar with the iconic Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards will especially appreciate the clever spoof that this deck is, while being a wonderful tribute to a classic and famous deck. In parodying the original, great attention has been paid to detail in all elements of the design, faithfully copying the exact specifications of the original wherever possible.
The Joker gives us some indication about a serious message that underlies the amusing artwork, with this warning message: "Quit Junk Food. Make Life Good." As the creator wrote elsewhere during the crowdfunding campaign: "So while you're performing amazing magic, don't forget to rub your bellies and remind yourself to quit junk food." I appreciate this warning about the dangers of eating too much fast food and junk food - a message that today's culture needs to hear.
The decks were printed in Taiwan, which is also where industry leaders like Legends Playing Card Company (LPCC) and Expert Playing Card Company (EPCC) produce their cards. The quality of the cards closely corresponds to the Diamond and Master finish used by these manufacturers, and given that the same factory in Taiwan is used for the printing, the look and feel of these cards is almost identical. They have a very firm spring, and are extremely durable. While they don't spread and fan as smoothly as a USPCC deck, they do have a quality embossed finish, and are particularly good for packet cuts, since the cards hold together well.
It's not hard to see that a deck like this would be popular, and have a lot of cross-over appeal as a novelty item. It especially appeals to people who are already familiar with the iconic status of the Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards, and who can appreciate how this parody replicates the original. But anyone with a sense of humor can enjoy the amusing court cards and the fast-food spoof that is key to what this deck is about, giving it a broad appeal to card collectors and gamers too.

https://preview.redd.it/guu9k8lyb0e51.jpg?width=500&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=fddca43869ab90fa109fa9f3bc6bf879c19982f5
Due to the success of the original project, Hanson Chien was able to produce several special decks and unique packaging options, my favourite being the fast-food style brick box. Since the original campaign, the popularity of the deck has enabled it to be published in a number of other sizes and colours, including a deck with jumbo-sized cards, a limited edition black deck, a limited edition white deck, and a host of Chicken Nuggets themed novelty items.
ANOTHER JERRY'S NUGGET
Surprisingly, the story of Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards has one final twist. Just like prospecting for gold, in the world of playing cards and collecting, you never know when you're going to find another nugget. In this case, our "prospector" is Hanson Chien, creator of the Chicken Nugget decks, and the unexpected "nugget" that he acquired was a deck of Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards that hails roughly from a similar time as the original decks.
The precise date when it was produced hasn't been established with any certainty, but it was produced by the Arrco Playing Card Company in Chicago. More significantly, the artwork has a different look. The artwork and design corresponds to the chips and merchandise used by the Jerry's Nugget Casino at the time when it opened in 1964. The findings were reported by Lee Asher in a 2018 article in Card Culture, the official periodical of 52 Plus Joker The American Playing Card Collectors Club.

https://preview.redd.it/49wtcubpb0e51.jpg?width=509&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=6e2ce1e7100b37ea2992b91b04ac45dc1885c9f3
So is it possible that this is in fact the original Jerry's Nugget deck, and that what we've been describing all along as the "original" deck may in fact have been part of a second wave?
Who knows. At any rate, where there's a nugget, perhaps there's a seam of gold to be found in those hills. Hanson saw another opportunity here, and towards the end of 2019, he launched a project to make another version of his Chicken Nugget deck, intended as a homage to this new find. It is a vintage styled version of his Chicken Nugget deck, in the alternative design and colours of the vintage Arrco Playing Card Company Jerry's Nugget deck. Hanson Chien describes it as a remastered version of the Arrco deck, and has marketed it under the label "New Vintage Chicken Nugget". Much like the recreated Vintage Feel Jerry's Nugget decks printed by EPCC, these will have a thinner and firmer card stock.
But sometimes the twist in a tale comes back to bite you. Unfortunately for us, at this stage we don't know whether this latest twist will turn out to be a comedy or a tragedy. While the new decks are still being advertised on the Hanson Chien website, albeit with some production delays as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the Kickstarter project behind the new decks seems to have run into trouble. A few months ago it was reported that this campaign has become the subject of an intellectual property dispute, and the rumour is that it was issued by Jerry's Nugget Casino. This isn't likely to stop the new decks being produced, mind you, given that Hanson runs his own printing company, and he has since successfully run an independent campaign to get them published.
Comedy or tragedy? We don't know the final outcome of this latest twist just yet. But certainly the Jerry's Nuggets have provided us with a lot of entertainment along the way, and we can only be glad to see them getting revived interest and attention, and some spiffy new editions that give every collector the chance to add a recreation of this famous deck into their collection at a very affordable cost.

https://preview.redd.it/aahdy5nnb0e51.jpg?width=500&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=d274a33d2d7cc539d2f64d10d8065982cad4aeec
Where to get them?
Want to learn more?
Author's note: I first published this article at PlayingCardDecks here.
submitted by EndersGame_Reviewer to playingcards [link] [comments]

Former LA Councilman pleads guilty to obstructing federal corruption probe

By: Andrew Emett - July 8, 2020
Read the article here: https://www.nationofchange.org/2020/07/08/former-la-councilman-pleads-guilty-to-obstructing-federal-corruption-probe/
Accused of obstructing a federal investigation into the former Los Angeles City Councilman accepting cash, female escort services, hotel rooms, and expensive meals in exchange for political favors, the ex-councilman pleaded guilty Tuesday to obstruction of justice.
Representing Los Angeles Council District 12 in the San Fernando Valley from July 2011 until he abruptly resigned on December 31, 2018, with almost two years left on his term, former Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander served as the Council President Pro-Tempore and was on the Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee, which oversees many of the most significant commercial and residential development projects in the City of Los Angeles. According to the indictment, Englander was soliciting bribes from a local businessman.
In June 2017, Englander accepted multiple bribes from the unidentified business during a trip to Las Vegas. In addition to accepting $10,000 in cash, $1,000 in casino gambling chips, hotels rooms, and $34,000 in bottle service at a nightclub, the Councilman also received services from a female escort that were paid for by the businessman.
From August 2017 through December 2018, Englander knowingly and willfully falsified and concealed material facts pertaining to this federal public corruption investigation. Specifically, Englander covered up facts that he had accepted items of value during June 2017 trips to Las Vegas and Palm Springs.
On February 6, 2018, Englander reportedly instructed the businessman to lie to the FBI, withhold material information from the feds, and how to answer certain questions from the FBI. On February 12, 2018, Englander met the businessman in Englander’s car and, after the Councilman turned up the car stereo music to a loud volume to obstruct possible listening devices, Englander again repeatedly instructed the businessman to lie to the FBI while driving in a circle around the block to conceal their meeting.
In March, Englander surrendered to FBI agents and was charged with one count of participating in a scheme to falsify material facts, three counts of making false statements, and three counts of witness tampering. Later that month, he agreed to plead guilty to one count of scheming to falsify material facts.
On Tuesday, Englander pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of scheming to falsify material facts. His sentencing is currently scheduled for September 28.
On March 19, political fundraiser Justin Jangwoo Kim agreed to plead guilty to a federal bribery offense for coordinating a $500,000 cash payment to a Los Angeles City Councilmember. Kim is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge John F. Walter on August 17.
On May 13, real estate development consultant George Chiang agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute. That same month, Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar’s special assistant George Esparza pleaded guilty to his participation in the pay-to-play bribery scheme involving Los Angeles City Councilmen. In his plea agreement, Esparza also admitted to lying to special agents with the FBI during interviews in June and July of 2017 by falsely stating, among other things, that he had no knowledge of any city official helping on a project in exchange for money, gifts, or campaign contributions.
In June, Huizar was arrested and charged with one count of conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
submitted by NationofChange to u/NationofChange [link] [comments]

The Big Yoink: A Smol Detective Story, Chapter 13

Standard Disclaimer: I do not take credit for the setting, this story is set in the They Are Smol universe, written by our very own u/tinyprancinghorse.
TPH has a Website, a Patreon, and also a Discord if you need more smol shenanigans.
The first Smol Detective story can be read starting Here.
There will be some spoilers/references of the first SD story in this one, so consider yourself duly warned.
___________
First Chapter
Previous Chapter
Next Chapter
In the previous chapter:
Bgrarh gets some Contraband.
Oscar has a Nice Suit.
Two words: Conga Line.
In this chapter:
Resh'skk does some Acting.
Sssnnathor serves up some Snacks.
The Silken Feather does a Clever Girl.
___________
The shuttle was due to depart in [six hours], which should give Bgrarh-of-Arhraz plenty of time. He checked for the hundredth time that his lab door was securely locked, then pulled out the unassigned terminal he'd managed to snag for this. The latter was just in case anyone tried to check the logs on his own 'official' machine. What he was doing was not strictly forbidden by the Inquisition, but it would be considered impolite and cause for censure.
If he got caught, Bgrarh figured he could spin a story of finding the media 'somewhere' and examining it merely to see if he could determine its origin. They wouldn't believe him, but they'd probably let his possession slide...especially if he let the hypothetical Inquisitor watch over his shoulder.
He took a steadying breath and popped in the first chip, then selected "Doctor No". Within a few scenes he'd gotten the gist of this [James Bond] character in spite of the poor quality and terrible dubbing. The Dorarizin had a similar fictional character, namely one Inquisitor Hrnarah. She traveled the galaxy with a blaster at her hip, ready to mete out justice and bed any comely males she came across.
But Hrnarah was also, well, a she. This [Sean Connery] person was as adorable as any [human], but he was also quite clearly male. And even though [Connery] walked with the standard wobbly, about-to-fall-over gait of a [human], there was a relentlessness to the way he moved that drew the eye.
The movie ended, and Bgrarh chose another at random. This had a different actor playing Bond, one who was less imposing but more debonair. The movie followed much the same formula as the first, which was something that [Bond] also had in common with Inquisitor Hrnarah.
As the movie played on, Bgrarh began to pick up on why [Oscar] suggested [Bond]. Whenever the man entered a room, whether it be a casino, a denpile, or a prison cell, [Bond] acted as if he owned that room.
Bgrarh stood and began walking about, picturing himself as a well-dressed secret agent who'd entered a dance competition as cover for some covert assignment...which honestly wasn't that far from the truth. As he did so, his nervousness about the upcoming performance began to fade and he knew he'd found the right personality to emulate.
Of course, there were certain things that Bgrarh was not going to emulate. He wasn't an expert on [human] mating customs, but he was pretty sure it wasn't proper to kiss [human] women without their consent.
Bgrarh chuckled. If he tried kissing the Captain without permission she'd bite his head off. Although now that he thought about it, the idea of kissing her with permission was very appealing. She was quite a handsome woman, after all. Yes, she was the pack leader and thus couldn't play favorites...but she was also a Dorarizin with needs.
Besides, Bgrarh knew his time of 'season' was approaching. Maybe this what the [humans] called a golden opportunity?
___________
In one corner of the hangar deck, two long and sinewy bodies coiled about each other. Each of them held a long needle-like sword in one hand, with the other clamped to their opponent's weapon-arm. There was much pained grunting as each strained to be the first to stab. Finally one of them managed to wrest her sword-arm free with a triumphant shout.
""
With that line Hrathra'sstah lunged forward as her prop sword did its job and buried its holographic blade deep into Resh'skk's chest. The ex-soldier clutched at the sword-hilt sticking out of his chest (which kept it from falling off), then groaned and toppled backward. His own weapon fell to the deck with a clatter.
"" he gasped in mock agony. ""
With a wordless scream, Hrathra leaped onto him and pushed with both her hands at the pommel of the fake sword hilt, acting as if she was driving the nonexistent blade deeper into his chest. At that cue Resh'skk bit down on the capsule hidden in his cheek, then let a little emerald-hued stage blood trickle out of the corner of his mouth.
He gave another groan of pain. "" he said in a stage whisper. Then Resh'skk slumped flat on the deck, staring off sightlessly into space.
After a beat, there was the sound of two small pairs of hands slapping together. It was a gesture of appreciation that Jornissians performed as well, and the sound made Resh'skk feel better about this whole nonsense.
"[Bravo!]" called [Maria].
"[Yeah, that was awesome!]" added [Oscar].
Resh'skk stopped playing dead and picked his hood up off of the deck. ""
"" said Hrathra'sstah. She still lay sprawled on top of him in a position that he would have enjoyed in other circumstances.
""
Hrathra'sstah pressed a finger to his lips. ""
"[And the villain always has to give a big monologue when they die!]" said [Maria]. "[It's a tradition even in [human] drama.]"
"" Resh'skk made as if to get up, but Hrathra didn't budge from her perch on top of him. He felt her tail-tip coil about his own. Ordinarily, Jornissians were a little less fussy about touching tails; it was just a consequence of their body type. But this was a more familiar gesture, one that close friends engaged in.
He glanced over and saw the two humans bumbling off. [Maria] had her hand on [Oscar's] arm as she steered him away from the Jornissians. His [human] friend had clearly picked up on the opportunity and was giving him the private space.
Resh'skk turned his head back to look up into Hrathra's red, gleaming eyes. His old fears returned. How could someone so smart and capable find anything of value in a broken down ex-thug like himself? But he had to try. He'd faced down pirates trying to carve out his intestines, he could face down this.
""
She raised one corner of her hood. "" But she did pick herself up off of him. Resh'skk rose, coiling his lower half below him in the Jornissian version of parade rest. He clasped his hands before him, while Hrathra'sstah folded her arms.
"" she asked.
""
Her arms dropped to her sides as she stared at him in shock. ""
Resh'ssk nodded. ""
Her next words struck him to the heart, an icy feeling far crueler than any stab.
""
Not a trace of his inner pain showed on his face as his clasped hands clenched ever so slightly tighter. ""
Hrathra cut him off with waving hands. "" She slithered back and forth in front of him as her gesticulating grew ever more dramatic. ""
Now it was his turn to interrupt her with a gentle finger to her lips. ""
There was one long moment of mutual staring, then she lunged for him again in an attack that he accepted with literal open arms.
What with their long and muscled bodies, Jornissians are the gold-medal winners of the four Senate species when it comes to dealing out hugs. With these two Jornissians doing their very best to embrace each other, and on top of that doing their very best to kiss each other into oblivion, the resulting tangle was something that would make even Escher throw up his hands.
In the middle of Resh'ssk's bliss, he heard again the sound of a human applauding. He peered to the side and saw [Maria's] grinning face. The [human] stood just out of easy tail-slap range.
After a little bit of complicated tongue-de-tangling, Hrathra'sstah turned her head as well to regard her protege. "<[Maria]?>"
"[Yeah, boss?]"
""
"[You got it, boss.]" [Maria] gave a wink to Resh'skk before strolling away. At any other time he would have found the little alien's cockiness infuriating, but right now he was too happy to be angry. He clasped Hrathra anew to himself and kissed her snout.
"" he asked.
Hrathra'sstah rubbed her hood against his neck. "" She grinned up at him. ""
___________
The sunlight fell like a velvet hammer onto Oscar as he stepped down from the shuttle. He felt sweat begin to pop out on his forehead, and wondered if his furred crewmates would suffer even more. He supposed that the heat made sense, given that a Jornissian owned this planet.
In front of the shuttle was a wedge-shaped formation of Dorarizin wearing full armor. Oscar had seen the pictures during the one time any Dorarizin set foot on Earth. Princess Gwe-Zgranzre-of-Ngrul's honor guard had been almost as armored-up as these guys. But where their armor had been brightly colored and ornate, this armor was sleek and functional.
The armor's visual effect was to turn the already-impressive figure of your average Dorarizin into what looked like a walking tank. The sleek, ovoid, and featureless chrome helmets of the retinue tilted down as one while they regarded Oscar. After a moment, the lead Dorarizin's helmet hinged up to reveal a white-furred face with deep purple eyes. He looked at Oscar for a few seconds, then over at the sphere of Junior which hovered next to the human's shoulder.
Oscar heard the noise behind him as the rest of the crew disembarked from the shuttle. He smiled as he tried his best to keep his heartrate down. Myyreh was at his back, but asking her to take out a werewolf in power armor would be too much even for her.
"Howdy, folks!" Oscar pointed at the lead Dorarizin's armored chest. "Um, are you expecting trouble?"
The lead Dorarizin smiled in response, showing a lot more teeth. "[Not at all. I know it looks like [overkill], but we have certain security protocols that have to be followed for all visitors. I'm Nerlharg-of-Aergh.]"
Oscar settled for a bow in lieu of shaking hands. "Oliver Ward, pleased to meetcha."
"[Likewise.]" Nerlharg looked up at the others. "[I bid you all welcome. Please, follow me. His Excellency was very insistent that he meet your group right away.]"
Oscar slung his bag over his shoulder. The concrete of the landing pad let to a loose gravel pathway lined with tall greenery which was nothing like trees. There was a clear lack of bark, plus the leaves had an odd earth-brown tinge to them. The plants did provide a good amount of shade, however, which gave Oscar some relief from the heat. Further inspection revealed a few tall rod-like structures scattered here and there among the growth; these rods emitted a fine mist of water which drifted over the pathway and provided further cooling.
Nerlharg noticed Oscar's inspection. "[His Excellency's species is better built to withstand heat, but he provides for his subjects.]"
"He sure does," replied Oscar. "I already get enough grief from my non-human comrades about my water usage, so I don't want to be sweating more than I need to."
Nerlharg gave his species' bone-buzzsaw version of a chuckle, but didn't otherwise comment.
The procession crested a rise, and Oscar saw a few buildings ahead. The architecture gave the impression of a high-tech Aztec city, with multiple stepped pyramids situated along either side of the central promenade. A profusion of more greenery overhung each 'step' on the buildings. Oscar wondered if this was proper Jornissian architecture or if Sssnnathor just had a thing for pyramids.
The prominade led forward to the largest pyramid by far, a huge building that rivaled that of any Egyptian tomb. A sloping ramp led up to an entrance that one could sling a starship through. The scale was such that even the giants around him looked small as they passed underneath that over-sized arch.
Oscar wondered about the point of such overkill. Was it to show off Ssssnnathor's wealth and power? The entire planet was proof of that. Perhaps it was more of a subtle warning to any who entered, a way to say 'however big you think you are, you're in the house of someone far more important'.
Whatever the reason for the grand entryway, the pyramid's interior space was even more grand. The walls were clad in white marble with gold trim; they followed the slope of the exterior, with a spiral ramp leading up towards the apex far above. More green vines hung from the edges of the ramp, giving the whole space the air of a slightly less tacky Las Vegas casino. Three large snake-like figures waited in the center of the space in front of a long table piled high with various dishes.
The middle Jornissian could only be Sssnnathor. Oscar half expected him to be clad in some sort of outrageous Ming-The-Merciless getup, but instead he wore a sober-looking 'suit' the hue of sun-bleached bone. The white color contrasted well with his black-and-blue scale pattern.
Sssnnathor's face was split in a wide smile, and he had his arms outstretched in welcome. The guards on either side, however, looked much less friendly, what with their armor. A normal Jornissian 'exo-suit' made them look like a long dakimakura-style pillow. But these guys were all hard edges and armor plating, fitting well with the look of the crew's Dorarizin escort.
Each Jornissian bodyguard cradled a massive rifle casually in one hand; Oscar figured he just might be able to pick one of them up if he used both hands and all his strength.
Sssnnathor's purr-hiss boomed over them all. "[Welcome! You are a pleasant surprise.]" He slithered forward, his silver eyes fixed on Oscar. The tyrant glanced over at Junior as he approached, and stopped at a respectful distance as he lowered himself to look the human in the eye.
"[I apologize for staring, but this is my first time seeing one of your kind,]" said Sssnnathor.
"No problem, Mr. Snape. I'm Oliver Ward." There was no way in hell Oscar was going to get anywhere near the strangled hiss-purr of Sssnnathor's true name. He hoped that the translator matrix was doing its job.
After another moment of fascinated staring, Sssnnathor nodded and rose higher. He gestured towards the table behind him. "[Please, eat and be welcome.]"
___________
After the (fake-name) introductions and hand-shaking, Captain Rgrarshok found herself munching on a bit of grilled glrnada while inside she wondered if this had been the right course of action. Her unease wasn't helped by the fact that Sssnnathor was parked at her right elbow with a calculating smile.
"[It's always nice to have new entertainment, Captain Rgratz,]" said the tyrant. "[But I can't help but wonder why you chose to bless us with your presence. With two [humans] in your company you would have the pick of engagements, yet you come to an out-of-Senate-space backwater like this.]"
Rgrarshok swallowed her mouthful as she prepped the cover story they'd cooked up. "{This is hardly a backwater, but it's true we could name our price. If I'm honest, Excellency, we're not exactly welcome in Senate space at the moment. And it has to do with the [humans].}"
Sssnnathor tilted his hood in curiosity. "[Oh, really?]" He turned to regard the two [humans], who naturally tended to stick together and now conversed in low tones while getting covertly studied by every other person in the pyramid. "[You didn't kidnap them, I hope?]"
Rgrarshok laughed. "{Far from it. Their placement on our crew was done through legal channels...except for the fact that we submitted two applications, under two different names. My XO cooked up the scheme, and I agreed. We thought it would give us a better chance of success.}"
Sssnnathor hissed a laugh of his own. "[I suppose it makes sense from a mathematical viewpoint. After all, the odds of getting a [human] are astronomical enough as it is. Let me guess...both applications were awarded?]"
The Captain gave a weary nod and a sigh. "{The first one was a moment of utter joy for us. [Oliver] was a wonderful addition to our crew, we were so happy...and then we got word of [Masie] coming to join us. I can't tell you how much dancing we had to do so that the auditors never caught the scent that we already had another [human] on board. But we managed it, somehow. Only then to realize we were faced with quite a conundrum.}"
"[Namely, if you performed in Senate space the odds were good that the placement program auditors would find out about your [double-dipping]. Hmm, well I suppose your embarrassment of riches is also our good fortune. Otherwise it might have been centuries before my poor little planet was able to host a [human].]"
Rgrarshok performed a slight bow. "{With your kind permission, we plan to perform many times on your planet. Of course, we'll also provide you with a free private performance if desired.}"
Sssnnathor tapped a finger against his chin. "[Hmm, I don't think a private performance is necessary. I do have a gala planned in three [days] time, one where I will show off my latest acquisition. Would you do me the honor of performing there?]"
"{We'd be happy to.}"
___________
Ngralh-of-Arzgar strolled through the sunlit bazaar. He had his paws clasped behind his back in a casual manner, but his eyes never stopped moving. Ngralh was enough of a student of history to know of the primitive conditions his species had once lived under, that era far back in the mists of time when they'd been bound to one planet.
His surroundings were not that primitive, but this was about as 'squalid' as one could get in a star-spanning civlization. The booths around him were formed of cheap and flimsy plastic, tinted with a hodgepodge of colors that stated louder than words that they'd been formed from castoff pieces. The wares emphasized hand-made tools and clothing, things that were just a little nicer than what one could get while on the dole.
The air was filled with the scent of grilling meat, something else that one couldn't get while on basic income. While the smell made his mouth water a little, he was going to have to give the food-sellers a pass. Dorarizin had pretty hardy metabolisms, but there was no need to risk food poisoning.
Due to the meeting with Sssnnathor, their investigation was now two-fold. First was the hunt for the 'Silken Feather', as they'd planned. But second was an attempt to find out exactly what the tyrant's 'latest acquisition' really was. Had the thief gone ahead and sold the Claw to him?
Either way, his job was to work towards the former goal. To that end, he was looking for someone to press ever-so-gently for information.
"[A pretty scarf for your lady friend, good sir?]" The chirping voice came from a hunched-over Karnakian who presided over a rainbow-colored waterfall of fabric. Ngralh gave her a cordial nod as he stopped strolling to look over her selection. Hmmm, that purple number might look good on Egwreh.
"{How much for this one?}" In the haggling that followed he allowed the seller to get a better deal than usual, figuring that this would put her in a better frame of mind for questioning.
"[Would there be anything else, sir?]" asked the Karnakian after he'd bought two.
"{Is this the only market around? I have some colleagues who might be interested in larger items.}"
"[This is the largest market in the capital, sir.]" She leaned forward as her crest rose. "[You're with the entertainers who just arrived, yes? The ones with the [humans]?]"
"{That's right. I'm surprised word's spread this fast.}"
"[There's always interest when [humans] are involved, good sir.]"
"{I understand. Do you get many off-world visitors? We're trying to determine how much new audience turnover we can expect.}"
"[A few every [month] or so. This planet is very welcoming to all, no matter their past.]"
Ngralh gave an embarrassed click. "{How, er, segregated is it around here? I only ask because some multi-species colonies can be rough; the locals can take it the wrong way if one goes walking through another species' section of town.}"
The seller waved one casual wing-arm. "[Oh, there's no such problems around here but I would be careful, since do have some minor criminals wandering about. The various races tend to cluster together to take advantage of any species-specific infrastructure such as plumbing requirements.]"
He smiled at her and gave a bob of his head to simulate a Karnakian farewell. "[Thanks, you've been very kind.]"
Thanks to a few more generous purchases and pointed questions, Ngralh found the Karnakian portion of town. If the "Silken Feather" was in civilization, chances are it was somewhere around here. It would be far easier for her to keep track of incoming and outgoing ships, plus she'd have a handy population of raptors to get lost in.
For sure she'd be wearing a disguise. Instead of scanning each individual Karnakian that passed, Ngralh set his implant to ping him if it detected anyone matching the body proportions of their quarry.
He spent another hour walking among the Karnakians, trying to look like nothing more than a ship-bound crew member anxious to stretch his legs. His scans of the crowd turned up empty, and after a while he started to wish somebody would try to mug him. At least it would break up the monotony.
Ngralh turned down a narrow and deserted alley with walls formed of the same cheap plastic sheeting used for the market booths. He'd made it halfway down when two feathered forms suddenly blocked the far end. He stopped and glanced over his shoulder...sure enough, two more blocked the way he'd came.
The front and rear pairs of Karnakians began to close in with slow menace towards him.
"[Four against one, furball,]" said one of them. "[Not good odds. Now why don't you just hand over everything in your pockets and we'll call it good, eh?]"
Ngralh shifted his weight so that he was balanced on his toes, then extended his claws. While he might not be death-on-foot like Myyreh, he was still an experienced peace officer. That fact evened the odds more than they realized. Once he'd given these guys a good thrashing, he could lean on them for some more detailed information. His ears swiveled back as he tracked the sounds of the two behind him. They'd probably rush him first, and so he kept his back invitingly open...
A strangled chirp-roar sounded from behind him. He spun himself sideways, careful to keep the front two in his peripheral vision. Both of the Karnakians behind him sprawled twitching on the ground, each wreathed in blue electric sparks. As he took in the sight there was a blur of motion behind to the other two...
They didn't even manage a sound before they too were down and out of any possible fight. Ngralh turned carefully back to face his would-be rescuer, a green-feathered Karnakian with a yellow band around her neck.
The Silken Feather.
She stood just out of easy leaping range. The thief had never laid eyes on Ngralh during her call to the Furious Call of Inquiry, so he figured he'd play ignorant and try to lure her closer. "{You have my thanks, friend. I don't have any money on me, but if you'll follow me back to my ship I'm sure my Captain would be happy to reward you.}"
The thief snorted. "[No games, friend. You know who I am and I know who you are. A mixed-race crew who also happen to have [humans] on board, showing up in a conveniently quick manner after I placed that call? The odds of that are astronomical. I guess you tracked me after all.]"
Ngralh took in a deep, irritated breath and then relaxed. "{All right.}" He glanced again at the sprawled, shuddering bodies around him. "{You still have my thanks.}"
"[Oh, it's my pleasure I assure you. I can't allow any of our brave Senate investigators to get hurt in the line of duty, now can I?]"
The XO chuckled. "{I wasn't in that much danger. So. How easy do you want to make this? I can tell you right now the Captain is not going to allow any sale.]"
"[I would reply that it's not up to her, is it? I think the Matriarchs' opinions would carry greater weight in this case. In any case, just know that I know that you're here and that I'm watching you. I'll be in contact soon to set up the sale. Do you still have that Galnet node of mine?]"
"{Of course. It's evidence.}"
She grinned wide. "[Of course. You police must always play by the rules, eh? I'm rather surprised you don't try to tackle me right here and now.]"
Ngralh tapped the side of his nose. "{It wouldn't do any good. I smell nothing but these four bozos, which tells me I'm talking to a hard-light hologram.}"
The Silken Feather bowed her head. "[Excellent, it's always a pleasure to deal with competent adversaries. I bid you a good day, sir.]"
The green-and-yellow Karnakian vanished, leaving a small metal sphere hovering in the alleyway. The drone fizzed while its internals fried, then fell to the ground with a small thud.
Ngralh blew out a breath that any onlooker would have taken as one of frustration. But then he smiled and touched his ear. "{Egwreh, Myyreh, you're up.}"
___________
The Silken Feather maneuvered down a neighboring alley, looking behind her constantly. It had been a risk to expose herself, but the chance to show these silly police that she was on top of things was too delicious to pass up. The following negotiations would have to be done with great delicacy; she had to conceal the fact that she no longer had the Claw, while keeping in reserve her knowledge of Sssnnathor's covert activities. The latter should act as insurance in the case that she wasn't able to retrieve the Claw.
And she would retrieve that which she'd rightfully stolen. Sssnnathor was not omnipotent, and her audacity would act as a shield. The aged fool would never imagine that she'd be bold enough to try breaking into his main palace. As her mind whirled, she peered around the corner and scanned her surroundings on instinct. She saw nothing, and so she continued on her way.
The Silken Feather trotted along while plotting and was still feeling quite pleased with herself when Myrreh-of-Relgreh's fist came out of thin air and connected solidly with her jaw.
___________
The Silken Feather came to and almost on reflex reached out mentally with her implant to trigger the protective mode of her clothing. All she received was the lurch of an unsuccessful connection, which then made her realize she wasn't wearing her own clothes anymore. All she had was a simple shift made of plain fabric to protect her modesty. Locked tight around her feathered body was a cage of hard-light which allowed her to breathe comfortably...and that was about it for any movement she could perform.
As the Silken Feather blinked and shook her snout, a warbling voice intruded into her aching head.
"[Ah, you're finally awake! Sorry about taking liberties with your person, but you had way too many little goodies hidden in your clothes. We couldn't let you keep them.]"
The voice came from a small figure standing in front of her. Behind that alien was a much bigger form that she recognized as Captain Rgrarshok. The huge Dorarizin stood with folded arms and a steady, unblinking expression that was somehow more fearsome than a snarl.
The Silken Feather focused all four eyes on the small alien in front of her. It was the first time she'd laid eyes on a [human], and for a moment she stared in wonder. As all the reports said, the little-needs-protecting had a soul filled with starlight, almost like a hatchling's but much more complex.
Then her discipline reasserted itself as she took quick stock of her surroundings. She was pinned in the middle of what looked like a hangar deck of some sort. That meant she was in space and surrounded by enemies. Not to mention tied up and completely unarmed. It was a bad situation, but she'd been in worse. The most important thing for now was to appear as if she'd given up.
The Silken Feather smiled ruefully. "|I congratulate you on your plan. It was masterfully done.|"
The [human] shrugged. "[We got lucky. We didn't know if you'd realize that we were the Senate team, but we had [Ngralh] followed just in case you followed him. You didn't just follow, you actually made contact. [Ngralh] sends his regards, by the way, and thanks you again for your help.]"
The thief slumped in her bonds. "|It was my pleasure.|" She stared up at the Captain. "|Shall we make a deal, or are you just going to skip right to the torturing?|"
Rgrarshok grinned. "[Your interrogation will begin now. Go ahead, [Oscar].]"
The computer-generated cage around The Silken Feather shifted, moving her arms apart and exposing more of her keeled chest. She felt a moment of panic as the [human] wobbled towards her. Was he going to pull out a knife and start cutting on her?
The Silken Feather's shift didn't quite cover the front fluff of her chest, and as he reached her [Oscar] pushed aside some of the fabric to expose more feathers. The somewhat intimate act shocked her. She'd heard that [humans] would mate with just about anything, but surely he wouldn't resort to...that against her will?
Without a word, [Oscar] smashed himself face-first into her fluff like a nestling seeking warmth. The sensation created an automatic maternal response in The Silken Feather, causing her feathers to expand out.
"[Where's the Claw?]" asked Rgrarshok.
The thief tried to focus, but it was hard with a soft and warm little sapient doing his best to make a bed out of her chest fluff. "|Eh? Oh, that old thing? Who knows? Maybe I know, maybe I don't. You'll have to...oh...make it worth my while to...care...|"
"[Ah, you're expecting to make a deal with us?]"
The Silken Feather tried to focus, but [Oscar] was still squirming around against her chest. Her bound arms twitched...she wanted to hold the little alien in the worst way...
"|Wouldn't you, in my situation?|" she responded. "|After all, the [Claw's] location is the only bargaining chip I have right now. You must be mad if you think I'll give that up without at least an offer of amnesty.|"
{Oscar] let out a little warbling hum and reached out with both tiny hands to get a good grip on her chest fluff.
The act almost made The Silken Feather miss the Captain's next statement. "[And you must be mad if you think we'll let you go without having the Claw safe in our possession.]"
Any further strategy fled right out of her head. What was wrong with her? She was a ghost, a free soul, she was afraid of no one and wanted nothing more than lots of covert bank accounts stuffed full of credits. Now all that she could think of was the need to grasp this little being close to her, to build a nest and keep him safe and warm. The feeling was worse than any pain or injury.
"|I...well, that is...|" She shook herself and glared up at Rgrarshok. "|I have rights under Senate law! This treatment can't be legal!|"
Rgrarshok unsheathed a claw and held it up to her face. She inspected it closely as she spoke. "[What would you have to complain about? True, we have you bound at the moment but that is merely for our protection. Are we mistreating you in any way?]"
"|You know damn well what I mean...erg...can you tell him to stop squirming?|"
"[Tell him yourself.]"
The Silken Feather looked down at the little creature moving against her. "|I know what you're trying to do. It won't work.|"
"[What do you mean?]" asked [Oscar]. "[I'm tired and need a nap.]"
"|I just...please...|"
Rgrarshok chuckled. "[You know, if you wish to claim rights as a Senate citizen you'll need to tell us who you really are. It seems you've done quite an admirable job in throwing us off of your true scent.]"
The Silken Feather gritted her teeth. "|I will never tell you!|"
Rgrarshok waved her hand in a 'there it is' gesture. "[Then I guess you'll have to put up with [human] interaction. [Oscar], give me a call when you wake up and we'll continue.]" She started to lope away, only to be stopped by the Silken Feather's plea.
"|Please, no. I'll propose a deal. You release me and then I'll tell you where the Claw is.|"
"[You tell us where the Claw is and then we'll release you,]" replied the Captain.
The Silken Feather shook her crest. "|No. You can put an implant in me to track me if you like, but I won't tell you a thing until I'm out of your custody.|" She knew she was technically savvy enough to defeat any possible tracking they'd put in her, since they'd certainly try to capture her again after finding out the Claw was now in Sssnnathor's possession. After her release, she could then steal the Claw back from Sssnnathor as she'd planned. True, having the Senate team breathing on her tail would put a bit of a time constraint on things, but she was capable enough to pull it off.
[Oscar] abruptly let go of her floof and wobbled away back towards the Captain. "[She doesn't have the Claw. Not anymore.]"
Rgrarshok stroked a thoughtful claw along her chin. "[Agreed. She gave in far too easily.]"
"|What nonsense is this? Of course I have it! Not on me, obviously, but I have it stashed in a very safe location! One that you'll never discover unless I tell you. Release me and you can go get it yourself.|"
The pair of peace officers stared back at The Silken Feather for a moment.
"[If she'd sold it to [Sssnnathor], she would've been long gone with her money,]" said [Oscar].
"[True,]" replied Rgrarshok. "[So he must have found out somehow that she was here. The fact that she's alive means that he didn't get his claws on her directly. However he found out, the Claw is now in his custody.]" Her purple eyes stared steadily at The Silken Feather. [Isn't that right?]"
"|I'm not saying anything further,|" replied The Silken Feather. "|You may as well go ahead and torture me. Or whatever that was your [human] was doing.|"
[Oscar] gasped in mock horror. "[Me? Torture? No, I wouldn't dream of harming a single feather on your crest. But there are a few [Karnakians] on board whom you've wronged either directly or indirectly. I'm sure they'd be eager to...discuss...their grievances with you at great length.]"
"[Or we could just leave her tied up somewhere on the planet,]" said Rgarshok. "[Perhaps we should drop an anonymous note to [Sssnnathor] telling her where she is? Only in the interest of making sure she doesn't come to harm, of course.]"
"[Of course!]" said [Oscar].
The Silken Feather sagged once more, this time in real defeat. She had but one bit of leverage left to play. "|We can still make a deal for my release,|" she said.
"[With what information?]" asked Rgrarshok. "[If [Sssnnathor] has the Claw I'm sure you have no idea where he's hidden it. That's something we'll have to figure out.]" The Captain sighed. "[I'll bet this party of his is for showing off the Claw.]"
"[I'm not taking that bet,]" said [Oscar].
The thief shook her crest. "|I'm not talking about the Claw's location. I'm talking about [Sssnnathor] himself. He's up to something. Whatever it is involving cloning.|"
Rgrarshok placed a paw over her eyes. "[Of course he is. By the First Pack, I need a vacation.]"
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