Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fake money on the World Poker Tour

In November I spent an inordinate amount of time obsessing over what appeared to be phony money piled on a poker tournament table. See here.

Tonight I was catching up on this season's World Poker Tour events, and caught another instance of the same thing. This is from the Borgata Poker Open. The episode was actually the first half of the final table, and the screen shots below are from the previews to the finale, which is why they have credits rolling over them.









If you look closely, you can see that the obverse of the bills is not good ol' Ben Franklin on the hundred, nor is the reverse even close to a real C-note. However, they are both suspiciously similar to the images on the fake 100s seen about halfway down the page here, a site that was pointed out to me by an astute reader in the comments section of that November post. I am nearly certain that these fake bills are the ones being piled on the Borgata table.

I'm glad to know this, actually. Now I will never enter a WPT event because, unlike most of the participants, I know their dark secret: They pay the winners in counterfeit money!

I feel like I need to shout this discovery to the world, like Charlton Heston trying to warn everyone, "Soylent Green is people!"


Addendum

Now watching the end of the tournament rather than just the previews, there is this better shot of the front of one of the bills, making perfectly clear that it is not Ben Franklin:

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and the echo answered "Fraud!"

(Bonus points for knowing where that line comes from without Googling it.)

Guess the casino, #91






To reveal the hidden answer, use your mouse to highlight the space immediately after the word "Answer" below.




Answer: M Resort

Seen on Fremont Street

Today's poker: I walked down to Binion's. I won some money. I came home.

The end.


There being no other poker content of interest today, we now turn to the non-poker portion of this post: some of the odd sights on my way home.

Before I even left Binion's, I saw a bunch of these guys:





I admit it. I had never heard of the "Soldiers for Jesus Motorcycle Club" before. Heck, I didn't even know Jesus rode a motorcycle!


Then I came across a band playing on stage:




Another thing I did not know: Both beehive hairdo wigs and wearing plastic bowls upside down on one's head are back in fashion! I would like to give credit to the band, but I saw no sign anywhere that would inform a viewer of who they were. Nevertheless, based on the calendar of events here, my research was able to determine that it was a group called "Loveshack."


The next thing I encountered was a bunch of these people:







I had no idea what that was all about. However, upon returning home and looking it up, I surmise that it is part of this thing. Seems harmless enough, but pretty silly, if you ask me. What's that? You didn't ask me? Oh, well, then--never mind.


Finally, I spotted a couple of the sign boys. I've been seeing them out on the Strip at night for something like a year now, and kept meaning to take a picture of them, but was never at the right place at the right time. Tonight I was, sort of:





They carry these electric signs around on their backs. Looks like a pretty crappy job, especially when it's hot. These particular signs are pretty tame. The ones on the Strip tend to be advertising prostitutes nice young women who will come visit you in your hotel room and help keep you company if you're lonely on your trip far from home.


If the simple trip from Binion's back to my apartment is any indication, this may be the strangest city on the planet.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Guess the casino, #90






To reveal the hidden answer, use your mouse to highlight the space immediately after the word "Answer" below.




Answer: Rio (Nope--not the Palazzo! Hee hee hee!)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Me and the Spewtard

It has been kind of a dry spell for interesting poker-table stories. It's not that I've been withholding them--it's that not much blog-worthy has been happening. That changed tonight.

I was playing at the Rio. I had thought it would be full of March Madness people paying more attention to basketball and their sports book tickets than poker. Surprisingly, I was wrong about that, and nobody at my table was giving the televisions more than an occasional glance. Oh well.

Soon after I sat down, I was graced with the arrival of a member of that rare species, Pokerus spewtardus, subspecies Bacchanalius.

For the first hour or so, I was frustrated because he was burning through buy-ins as if they were about to run out of chips and he had to get the last of the ones left in the drawer, but they were being distributed to every seat except mine. Completely card-dead. However, I was able to use the time wisely to figure out his betting patterns. For the most part, he bet small when he had real hands, and huge when he was bluffing, which was most of the time. I knew this not only through showdown hands, but because he was frequently holding his cards where I could easily see them, despite several warnings.

(Aside: Ted at Red Bull and Poker recently put up this post about playing against a guy who was terribly sloppy at protecting his hand. It's an interesting story, and shows the kinds of practical and ethical problems that such players cause for their opponents and the dealer.)

Spewtard was sitting on my immediate left. At first I thought I should move to get him on my right. But three things finally made me decide to stay put. First, Shamus recently mentioned an article by Rolf Slotboom arguing against the conventional wisdom that it is better to have the maniac on one's right. I'm not completely convinced, and his argument critically relies on having tablemates who are savvy enough to make smart adjustments to the maniac's presence, which might get one trapped along with the maniac. That is manifestly not always going to be the case in low-stakes games. But still, it was a thought-provoking piece that I have been mulling over. The second factor, though, was that after a while I realized that it didn't matter. This particular Spewtard was just as happy to call big bets as to make them. Furthermore, he would bet with virtually 100% reliability if the action was checked to him. Given those factors, I knew I could pick my spots well pretty much regardless of where he was in relation to me. And, finally, if he was going to be flashing his cards to somebody at the table, despite all sorts of warnings, it might as well be me.

Spewtard had blown through all of the money he had brought with him, and had borrowed more from a friend to keep playing. I was getting worried that it would be all gone before I got any of it.


Hand #1

This one actually didn't involve Spewtard, but it's how I got the big stack that would be put at risk in Hand #2.

A-Ko on the button. Bunch of limpers. I raised, got four callers. Flop: A-K-Q rainbow. Nice, because I don't think that anybody limp-called me with a pocket pair of any of those cards, so top two pairs is very likely to be good. My main concern will need to be somebody sitting on J-10. People have this irrational love of the J-10, even played for a raise and from out of position. As a result, whenever J-10 in an opponent's hand would be trouble for me, I am wary.

First guy bet $30 and he was called by two others before the action got to me. The J-10 was on my mind, but, on the other hand, I didn't want to fall victim to the "monsters under the bed syndrome," especially since it was obviously a situation in which giving a free or cheap card could spell disaster. So I raised to $100. (Sitting on about $225 at the time.) First guy pushed all in. Second guy pushed all in. I called. First guy showed A-10. Second guy never showed. Turn was a jack. Yikes! Made the inside straight for first guy. But--whew!--king on the river gave me a winning full house, and I chipped up to about $635.

A roughly $435 profit is perfectly fine for me for a day's work. So I had decided to finish the orbit and call it a night.


Hand #2

About two hands before I would have stood up to go, I looked down at the two red queens. This gave me mixed feelings, because while it's obvious a strong hand, the last two times I've had it, I've lost my entire stack--once to A-K and once to K-K. Reflexively, then, I'm feeling a little gunshy about it. Nevertheless, it makes no sense to be sitting there playing if I'm going to throw away premium hands. (Besides, after losing twice in a row with queens, heck, I was obviously due to win with them, right? It's impossible to get stacked three times in a row with Q-Q, isn't it?) So I raised.

Spewtard flashed his cards again, and I saw perfectly clearly what he had: A-J of diamonds. For him, this might as well be aces, and I knew instantly that there was almost no way to avoid an all-in clash. I simultaneously welcomed and dreaded it. He had recently gone on a luckbox tear, twice hitting nut flushes and getting paid off by multiple opponents who understandably thought that he was on a bluff yet again. His chips were in a huge messy pile, so I couldn't guess how much he was playing, but it was enough to hurt. It was enough to hurt a lot.

I warned him that I had seen his cards. Silly me--I thought that might dissuade him from playing. Nope. He said, "That's OK," and raised to $40. It was folded around back to me, and I reraised to $140, knowing I was well ahead. (To be exact, I was 68% to his 31% for the win.) He shoved. I called. Flop came all small and with no diamonds. Turn was similarly benign. River: ace.

Oooof. Talk about knocking the wind out of my sails. A three-outer will do that to a guy.

When all the chips were counted, he had $435, knocking me back down to within a few dollars of my original $200 buy-in, and neatly erasing every bit of profit I had had up to that point.

Let me just interrupt the story to make this observation: When you can see the other guy's cards, poker is really, really easy. But it's still also really, really hard.


Hand #3

Maybe 45 minutes later I was still at about the same stack size. There was only one player at the table that I judged to be smart and skilled enough to be a potential threat. (Actually, it was Woodrow, an off-duty Rio dealer, whom I wrote a bit about here.) He was sitting on the biggest stack, having taken most of what I had sent to Spewtard when the latter tried an all-in bluff into Woodrow's flopped trip kings with queen kicker.

Woodrow put in an early-position raise to $10. I called with A-9 of spades, but with extreme caution. If I didn't hit the flop securely, and/or if Woodrow put the pressure on, I wasn't going to waste any more money on it. This was the point at which Spewtard flashed his cards my way again: Q-9, one red, one black. He called, too.

Until recently, I would have spoken up about having seen Spewtard's hand. But I have had two recent situations in which making that announcement seemed to cause more problems than it solved (written up here), and I had decided that it was actually better not to interrupt the play of the hand. Tonight was the first time the situation has arisen since having come to that conclusion.

I don't recall all the details of the betting and raising, and they don't matter much. But it does matter that when the flop came 9-high, Spewtard picked up his cards again and held them so far in front of him that it was obvious to everybody at the table that I would have seen them. The dealer therefore made him show them to one and all. (Nobody but me knew that I had seen them earlier, and it no longer mattered.) Woodrow dropped out, and it was me, Spewtard, and one other player. I moved all-in on the river when no queen had come to help Spewie's hand, and the other guy didn't seem very enthusiastic about whatever he was holding. Spewie called, other guy folded.

This is how drunk Spewtard was: He didn't even remember that about 60 seconds earlier he had been forced to show his cards to the whole table. After the third guy folded, and the dealer said, "Let's see them, " Spewie said, "I have a nine." Oh, really? Wow--there's a surprise! I showed my better kicker and more than doubled up.

I left at the end of that orbit. The first reason was that Spewie was now nearly out of chips, and given how he was playing, I didn't think that his friend was going to lend him more.

But I'll admit that the primary reason was something pretty unusual for me--a purely emotional one. If I continued playing and lost my entire night's profit again, well, I'm not sure exactly what would have happened, but I knew that I would have found it very hard to deal with. So I took the money and ran. There was also this pragmatic consideration: Since I would be more afraid than usual about losing what I had won (due to the previous big ol' punch in the gut), I would be playing timidly, and even with a Spewtard at the table--or maybe especially when there is a Spewtard at the table--one cannot win at no-limit hold'em while playing timidly.


If you encounter a Pokerus spewtardus, rejoice. They are mostly benign and profitable creatures. But they do occasionally bite.

If the shoe fits...

I sat down to write what will be the next post about my encounter with a full-blooded spewtard, and wasn't sure what sort of image might work well to illustrate it. So I did a Google image search for "spewtard," just to see what might show up. I literally LOL'ed when I saw whose picture was right there in the first row of the first page of results:





That's right--it's Cardgrrl!

Hey, Google doesn't lie.

Blogger battle--to the DEATH! (Well, OK, not quite.)












Rather than do another regular single-table HORSE tournament, tonight I issued a challenge to Cardgrrl to play the game mano-a-mano for the princely sum of $2 each, which I had found was the lowest that PokerStars offered for heads-up HORSE STTs. She foolishly accepted.

I won the match (as if there were any doubt of the outcome), at which point she requested best two out of three. We had to move to a $5 game for the second one (because Stars only keeps one such table open at a time, and somebody was already seated in the $2 game, waiting for somebody to play with). I won #2 also. Predictably, this prompted a call for "three out of five." *sigh* Oh, the things one must do to be a good sport.

Being a gentleman, I totally let her win the next two matches. She will probably tell some other tale of, oh, I dunno, catching quads to my full house, or some such nonsense to explain the outcomes you see above. But just between us, we all know the real truth.

Still, in the end, I couldn't bring myself to be so gallant as to deliberately lose the whole series, so I had to put it away in game #5, and claim the title.

Total buy-ins: $14.05. Total prize money: $18.00. Net profit: $3.95 for about four hours of play. Excellent! My retirement fund continues to grow apace. I also claimed the bragging rights, which I am exercising to their fullest herein.

Actually, this was one of the most interesting things I've done in online poker. Neither of us had ever played HORSE heads-up except at the end of a tournament. It's not immediately obvious how hand values change, what is playable and what isn't, how strong a hand is likely to win, how frequently to bluff, how frequently to call possible bluffs, etc. I found that it often wasn't even entirely clear whether a river bet I was making was a bluff or a value bet. More times that I would care to admit, in the high/low rounds I won just the high when I was expecting to take the low, or vice-versa. Those are strange surprises.

Also, because of playing nearly every hand, I found myself falling into predictable, exploitable patterns, and had to make conscious efforts to change things up. When playing only a small percentage of starting hands in a full ring game, there is much less for an opponent to observe, so patterns take longer to become apparent. I found it useful to once in a while deliberate decide that the next hand, whatever it was, I would play either a step more aggressively or a step less aggressively than I would just based on the starting hand value. It must have done some good in sowing confusion, because it was on those occasions that I more commonly got a "Really?" message from Cardgrrl, apparently surprised at whatever action I had just taken (check where she expected a bet, or a raise where she had been anticipating a call or fold).

The most amusing part of each game was privately setting an over/under value for the number of hands past the end of Razz that Cardgrrl would discover we were now playing Stud, and, similarly, the number of hands past the end of Stud that she would notice that we had begun Stud/8. Hey, it's not my job to tell her! A fair over/under is three, but she got to five at least once. Those hand histories would look quite, um, interesting, I should think.

So now, in addition to being Lord of the $10 HORSE, I lay claim to the title of Master of the $2 Heads-Up HORSE--at least until the grudge rematch gets scheduled.

Guess the casino, #89






To reveal the hidden answer, use your mouse to highlight the space immediately after the word "Answer" below.




Answer: MGM Grand

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The tournament is on!





The second Poker Grump readers' tournament is now set. It will be held on PokerStars, Monday, April 27, at 21:15 EDT. It will be HORSE (limit), with structure and prizes as shown above. Password is "grumpy" (case-sensitive).

I realize that the game, the buy-in, the date, the time, the site, and every other variable will not be to the liking of all--but then, no possible combination could be.

After the first readers' tournament last year, I promised that I would give back my modest ($10) prize money, as part of my effort to persuade everybody that I'm doing this just for fun and to say "thanks for reading," rather than because I'm trying to take your money. There's no way to program this in to the tournament structure, but in order to make good on that promise, I'll transfer a bonus $10 to whoever knocks me out, once the tournament is done. I'll also promise now to do the same with any prize money I might collect this time around--it goes toward the next readers' tourney. On the outside chance that I win the thing, I'll roll over both the $10 from last time and the prize money from this time. If it's more than a few bucks, it may not all be a bounty, but it will get redistributed in some manner. (Guess you'll just have to trust me on that.)

Stars makes it easy to fund an account, if you don't already have money there. The "Instant e-check deposit" option can take the funds directly from your checking account, no muss, no fuss. If for whatever reason you can't get money onto the site in any other reasonable way, and you'd like to play, I will do exchanges as needed. Email me (see the profile in the left column for the address). We can do an equivalent trade (i.e., $11) on Full Tilt or via PayPal. You will, I hope, understand that in order to prevent being scammed by making an open offer like this, I'll ask you to make your end of the exchange first.

I'll make the next one NLHE again.

Incidentally, I like how Stars makes it easy to set up private tournaments. I hadn't tried it before. You email them, they review your history on the site. If they judge that you've played enough (I have no idea what the exact criteria might be, but I think they just want to be sure that you didn't sign up exclusively for setting up a private tourney), they enable a new feature on your client software. Under "requests" in the main lobby, there then appears the menu for creating a private tournament. It doesn't give some of the options available on Full Tilt, such as deep stacks or bounties, but, on the other hand, you can do it all yourself, rather than exchanging emails with somebody in customer service to do it for you.

Multiaccounting acknowledged

Last night I picked up the new (April) issue of Poker Pro magazine while at Fitzgeralds. I was surprised, but pleased, to see a feature--mentioned on the cover, no less--about online multiaccounting.

On pp. 32-35 they have short statements from ten online pros. They are of variable quality and depth of thought. The least helpful just sound like PR statements denouncing the practice without ever making clear exactly what is being talked about. But at least a few of them take the trouble to distinguish between simply having more than one account on a site and actually using more than one at a time. Some also make clear that any advantage gained is probably much more important at the higher stakes, and may be negligible at low stakes. (This certainly matches my experience. I think that only a small minority of the opponents I face are capable of noticing playing patterns, remembering them, and adjusting to them. Also, since there is a much larger pool of players at low stakes, the advantages of being disguised are proportionately reduced; most of the time one is facing a table of all unknowns anyway.) A few even acknoweldge that there are ethical "gray areas," where right and wrong are not clear.

It's not anything like a comprehensive discussion of the complex issues involved. For example, nobody mentions that among low-stakes players the most common motivation for opening a second account may be simply to get rakeback, having nothing to do with attempts to hide oneself or deceive opponents or cheat in a MTT. Still, it is something of a milestone merely to have one of the major poker magazines openly admit that the practice is going on. My friend Shamus last year did two thoughtful posts on the tension between poker magazines' roles as reporters of news and as cheerleaders for the game's image, an inherent conflict that is obviously further poisoned by the publications' dependence on the advertising revenues from poker rooms (both B&M and online ones). See here and here. That's why I was surprised to see such frank discussion of the problem in Poker Pro.

Kudos to the editor-in-chief, John Wenzel, for having the courage to acknowledge the elephant in the room.

On a tangentially related note, there is this interesting TED Lecture about research into cheating, and the psychological and social factors that make it not simply a cost-benefit analysis. (Thanks to Cardgrrl for the pointer.)

Guess the casino, #88






To reveal the hidden answer, use your mouse to highlight the space immediately after the word "Answer" below.




Answer: Flamingo

St. Patrick's Day in downtown L.V.




I took a bunch of pictures of random holiday revelers on my way to and from the Fitzgeralds poker room tonight, plus a few inside Fitzgeralds. You can browse the set here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Poker faces, #2






David Benyamine gets inducted into my new "poker faces hall of fame" on this week's "High Stakes Poker." As Gabe Kaplan comments, "That's the quads look."

"Guess" is back

I didn't do anything, just waited, and whatever the glitch in Blogger was, it's fixed. So now the missing "Guess" posts are back, approximately in the order as if they had deployed normally. If you like the series, you can now scroll down the page and catch the ones that had gone missing.

Guess the casino, #87






To reveal the hidden answer, use your mouse to highlight the space immediately after the word "Answer" below.




Answer: Bellagio

Monday, March 16, 2009

Another IMOP report

Last year I got a kick out of the allvegaspoker.com "Iron Man of Poker" trip report of a bunch of degenerates from Iowa. I had met them briefly during a tournament at TI. This year they were back, and there is now another wacky trip report posted here and here (including not-to-be-missed photographs). Again worth reading for the sheer entertainment value.

Example:

Grange also got in one last sarcastic comment before heading out. He gets
it all-in with a middle-aged lady who turns over her cards, sees she is behind,
and blurts out, “Help me Jesus!” The river is harmless and Grange, while raking
the pot, says, “Jesus must have been busy at the pot limit Omaha game.” The
Church Lady makes a very un-Christian face and storms out of the room.

I managed to get a little more face time in with the boys this year, including a session at Mandalay Bay with Grange (a faithful reader and commenter) the night before the rest of the crew arrived, another at Planet Hollywood the next day, and sharing a TI tournament table with Grange and Barbie (and, briefly, a cash game after bustout) the last night of the trip. Guess I didn't make enough of an impression to worm my way into the story, though. I'm not sure whether to be deeply offended or profoundly relieved.

The gang's approach to poker is well and truly insane, but there is no more fun to be had at the table than by sharing it with them. Go read.

Guess the casino, #86






To reveal the hidden answer, use your mouse to highlight the space immediately after the word "Answer" below.




Answer: South Point

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Two new $1-$2 NLHE games in town



While playing at Imperial Palace last week, one of the dealers, who also works at Bill's, mentioned that the latter has changed its standard game to $1-$2 no-limit hold'em. Previously it had had the peculiar single $1 blind. As you can see from the game plaque above, however, the buy-in has remained at the citywide low of a mere $20. It's very strange to have a no-limit game with a min buy-in of only 10 big blinds, but, hey, that's their claim to fame: the lowest buy-in no-limit game in town. It definitely does encourage people to sit down who have never played poker before, who were not planning to play, who have no idea how to play, who didn't even know there was a poker room at Bill's, and who would be intimidated if they had to put more money at risk. I welcome these people with open arms, even if it is for only $20 at a time.

So I had to check it out. I couldn't tell that it changed the game in any significant way, nor did I think that it would. Maybe there's a little less limping than before, but raise amounts haven't changed much, nor have average pot sizes, from what I can tell after a single session.

The game remains one of the softest you'll find anywhere. Example: Last night I joined a bunch of limpers from the big blind with the two red 9s. Flop 9-5-4, with two clubs. I bet small, about half the pot, hoping to keep many customers (which occurred) and/or look weak so that somebody would be tempted to raise me (which did not occur).

The turn was an offsuit 5. I had the second nuts, losing only if somebody happened to have pocket 5s for quads. I bet small again, same motivations.

Donkey #1 on my left shoves all-in. Donkey #2 across the table does likewise. All others fold. I think long and hard (not!) and call. Sadly, I have them both covered. D #1 has a naked flush draw. D #2 has top pair, bad kicker. They are both drawing stone-cold dead when the money goes in.

There is definitely a more consistent mix of a few predator species at the table than was the case when Bill's first opened its poker room last year, but you will still find a steady supply of clueless fish like these.

Last night's win rate: $165/hour.





The legendary Bellagio finally started spreading a $1-$2 NLHE game late last year, apparently the first week of December, as far as I can tell. (Previously the lowest game was $2-$5.) However, I somehow missed hearing about it until last week. So today I went to check it out.

As you can see from the photo, I went fully prepared to do battle in Bobby's Room, but Doyle, Phil, Daniel, Jennifer, Eli, Sammy, and the rest of the gang didn't show. They stood me up! The nerve! Well, can't really blame them for being afraid, when surely there are easier pickings if they wait for a day when I'm not around.

So I played out in the main room instead. I didn't recognize any opponents, but two of them (both Asian women, by coincidence) struck me as having all the markings of local grinders. The rest of the table consisted of quite a mix--couple of weak calling stations, couple of hyperaggo LAGgers, couple of typical tourists. Play unquestionably involved a higher level of thought than Bill's, but I could not tell that overall it was significantly different than a typical table at Venetian or Caesars or Treasure Island or Mirage.

Early on, I slow-played pocket aces from the big blind when I was up against a player in the small blind that I was sure would be pushing too hard with what I thought was only a medium-strength hand. I was right; I got him pot-committed before shoving, and more than doubled up. That's a move I would virtually never try at Bill's, where there is usually so much passive calling that it's more profitable to bet, bet, bet your strong hands, and you can't count on somebody else doing the betting for you.

Maybe 15 minutes later I had pocket kings and did the opposite--overbetting the pot on every street, counting on the players having taken note of how I played the aces, so that this action would look desperate. Sure enough, I got called down. (Had to check the river, though, because by then I was looking at a four-straight and a three-flush, so the payoff wasn't as full.) Again, playing at Bill's I would never count on the opposition observing play style and making inferences when it changes in a way that I can exploit. It's strictly A-B-C there.

Win rate: $132/hour. (Both rates are anomalously high for me, so the difference between them is almost surely meaningless, especially on a sample as absurdly small as one session apiece.)

Everybody and their brother has done a room review of Bellagio, and I usually do the full panoply of observations only when there's a new room opening, or a place I haven't been before. (I had played at the Bellagio once before, in October, 2006--the $2-$5 game, hit and run, because I was scared money back then.) I'll just say this: The most common complaints that you read about the Bellagio poker room at, e.g., allvegaspoker.com (see here) all seem to be true. These include wearing out chairs, overcrowding, employees that are unfamiliar with the concept of customer service to the point of bordering on actual contempt for the patrons, mostly excellent dealers, average drink service, long waiting times, hopelessly primitive list management, etc. I'll also add that I find it difficult to get into the place (seems one always has to wait through about five red lights just to turn right into the driveway), and it's too long a walk from the parking garage to the poker room. Boo hoo.

Nevertheless, now that I know that my preferred game is to be found there on a consistent basis, I will definitely be making the Bellagio a more regular stop than it has been before.

What happened to "Guess the casino"?

To tell you the truth, I don't know.

I prepare a bunch of them at a time, and set them to release one a day, usually about 1 or 2 in the morning. The last two days, the ones scheduled haven't published for some inexplicable reason, even though they were done exactly the same as all the other ones. I have tried resetting the publish time to a few minutes in the future and, when that didn't work, to a few minutes in the past, and nothing gets them out of their hibernation. They are still sitting in my queue of future posts, labeled "scheduled" with a date and time that are now well past. I have no idea what is causing this glitch.

But sooner or later, either Blogger will fix it or I'll figure out what's wrong, and then there will be a bunch of them to catch up, and things will get back on track.

Is it warm where you are?




It is here--70s today. And to prove that spring is really here (despite what calendars may say), today I took some snapshots of the famous Bellagio conservatory spring display for you. For the rest of the set, look here. And think WARM! Too bad I can't share with you what it smells like in there.

Don't let these poppies make you too sleepy, or the flying monkeys will get you.

Preliminary announcement

About a year ago we had an online poker tournament for readers. I promised to do it again, then kind of kept forgetting about it. So it's time. I'm tentatively thinking of the evening of Monday, April 27, 2009, on PokerStars--a HORSE tournament, low buy-in, probably just $10, because it's just for funsies.

This post is just to solicit information about whether there is some overwhelming reason that I shouldn't pick that date (which is mostly arbitrary)--you know, like there's a comet that will be crashing into the earth that day, or there's a presidential election, or something else I've missed.

Guess the casino, #85






To reveal the hidden answer, use your mouse to highlight the space immediately after the word "Answer" below.




Answer: Palms