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Yo Yo Yo

I'm sitting in the Las Vegas Airport, rockin' the free wi-fi access and waiting for my flight. It doesn't depart for another 2+ hours, but check out time was 11 a.m., and besides, I've learned to err on the side of great caution when budgeting time to get through security here.

Blog Expo was pretty cool. I got to meet some of the other SBNation folks in person for the first time, along with more nationally known guys like Rob Neyer, Will Leitch, and Chris Ballard (of SI). The Sports Blogging sessions generally had 30-50 people attending per session, so while it wasn't a huge, huge turnout, it also wasn't just us all talking to ourselves, either.

I skipped the keynote by Mark Cuban that ended the Expo yesterday. Regular LSB readers probably aren't surprised.

Nice stay at Caesar's. Got my ass handed to me on the blackjack tables...I had to hit more 15s and 16s the past few days than Ricky Martin at a quinceanera. But hey, I drank a bunch of free Diet Cokes at the tables...

One weird incident...I play blackjack a lot, always by "the book," and thus never really have problems with other players. Also, unlike a lot of blackjack players, who get pissed at people screwing up the deck by making bad plays, I don't care what other folks do...the odds of the dealer making a hand or busting don't change based on what anyone else does. So I'm generally pretty laid back, and don't end up butting heads with anyone.

But Wednesday morning, I came up to a table where a couple of guys were playing. I asked if they minded if I joined them, and they both sort of granted surlily, and one of them said, "We can't stop you." Which should have been sign #1 for me...

Anyway, I sit down, start is a $25 minimum table, and this one guy in the middle is betting $100-150 per hand, and losing. At the end of the shoe, he says something bitchy about the cards he was getting to the dealer, who was this nice woman I had been talking to, and who this guy had just been ignoring (other than suggesting it was her fault he was losing). She said something along the lines of, well, I can't control the cards, and he raised his voice and said harshly, "Well, you're dealing them."

That was sign #2 that I should go find another table. But I didn't.

New shoe starts, and within the first 5-6 hands, I have 12 against dealer's 2 twice. I hit both times -- which "the book" says is the right play. Both the other guys are visibly irritated, with the one guy who was rude to the dealer moreso, and start complaining about how I should have stood and that I took their cards and thus cost them their hands. I told them that's what "the book" said, and the dealer agreed, which pissed off the guy in the middle even more.

The other guy decided to sit out a few hands, and told the guy in the middle, "Hey, if he wants to ---- the deck, let him play by himself for a while and cost himself money rather than you." The guy instead plays two hands. I'm dealt A-6 against the dealer's 4.

I double down, per the book, and get a 7. The angry guy throws his hands up, gasps, acts visibly pissed off, doubles down on his 11 and gets a card that doesn't help him, and then starts flipping out when the dealer ends up drawing a hand that gets her a 20, because he loudly tells the other guy, if I'd stood like I should have, she'd have busted.

He then turns to me and says, "I just have to ask...what the hell are you doing?" I said, "I doubled down. That's what I'm supposed to do." He started berating me, "You had soft 17 against a 4, you never hit that, nobody hits that, you cost me $300!"

At which point I decided it was time to go.

He was so emphatic about it, I went back to my room and checked, and was fact, you never stand on soft 17. I was inclined to go back down there and tell him that's why he was losing so much money, because he didn't know how to play.

Anyway...that was the one negative of the trip. But I ended up getting to tell that story at several tables I was playing at the rest of the time, and commisserated about what an idiot that guy was.

A couple of notes from the Blog, it was interesting to me that, among fairly successful sports blogs, I'm sort of the exception in terms of not having access to the team, don't try to do interviews with players or management types, etc. I don't particularly want to do that sort of stuff, in part because it isn't really my thing and isn't something I think is part of the LSB vibe, and in part because guys like Jamey Newberg and Jason Cole already do that sort of stuff and are more plugged in than I'm ever going to be.

The other thing that seemed to be a universal belief, across the whole blog spectrum, is that you shouldn't do this sort of thing if you don't have a thick skin. If you are going to write stuff and make it available for anyone to read on the internet, you better be able to put up with a lot of criticism, both fair and reasonable and unfair and unreasonable, or else you aren't going to be able to keep doing it and be happy doing it for very long.

Which I was thinking about in reading the comment thread to Ben's projection/reality comparison post. I'm fully aware that Ben's style and humor isn't for everyone. Sometimes, it isn't for me. Similarly, my style and writing, or z's, aren't going to click with everyone, and there are going to be folks who don't like some of the stuff that we post here.

That's life on the internet. And the two things that can really cripple a community like this is if, on the one hand, it becomes an echo chamber, with everyone agreeing with everyone else (or with a handful of Alpha posters), or, on the other hand, where the community becomes so polarized that the comments section of any post or diary turns into just the latest of the same battles that the same people have been fighting over and over again.

The challenge is trying to maintain things so that we stay between those two extremes.