Saturday, April 11, 2009

Zero-level thinking--or IS it?

Last week I did a post about zero-level thinking, and a hand that seemed to illustrate it. Last night I read the following story in Mike Caro's book, Caro's Most Profitable Hold'em Advice (p. 147). The man is certifiable, but he's crazy like a fox.

I get tremendous mileage out of one or two very blatant plays. I like to
spread hopeless hands. I want them to be so absurd that players will remember
them and giggle with me. If I just play a lot of semi-weak hands, that's not
advertising. That's just doing what they do. And they won't notice.

I've actually done this: I was the big blind at a no-limit table and got in
free with 3h-2h. The flop added two more hearts, so I had a flush draw. Nobody
bet until the river. The final board was 7c Kh 4h 9d 9s. Someone made a very
small bet on the river. Two other remaining players folded, leaving just me. I
called! The bettor showed Kd Jh--a pair of kings. I quickly spread my hand for
all to see--a hand that couldn't possibly beat anything! "I thought you had me
beat, but you just never know," I laughed, leaving everyone scratching their
heads. You see, that was very cheap advertising. It was a tiny bet. And I knew
my advertisement was getting a maximum audience, because all eyes were glued to
the showdown. And, yes, it turned out to be a very profitable session.


So when you see a play that makes no sense whatsoever, and you're inclined to conclude that the person involved has no idea what he is doing, is drunk, not paying attention, misreading his hand, or whatever--maybe, just maybe, he is actually thinking way ahead of you, and setting you up to make bad calls later, and he is in reality the craftiest player at the table, with you squarely in his crosshairs.

Or he's just a moron. One or the other.

Guess the casino, #109




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




Answer: Paris

Friday, April 10, 2009

Poker gems, #239

Mike Caro, in Caro's Most Profitable Hold'em Advice, p. 135.


There is nothing that scares typical opponents more than the thought that you might be lucky. That's why you should never complain about your bad luck at the table. If you do complain, opponents won't give you the sympathy you're seeking. Instead, they'll just think, "Hey, there's someone even unluckier than I am. Maybe I can beat him." And they'll be inspired and play better against you.

So, it's important to make opponents think that you're lucky. Emphasize the fortunate things that happen to you. You might simply tell your opponents how lucky you are. I do. Many players like to present themselves as unlucky. Then they brag about being able to overcome misfortune through skillful play. Most opponents are not intimidated by these boasts. What they instinctively fear is that you're lucky, and you should bury your ego and make them think that luck is why you win.

Poker gems, #238

Mike Caro, in Caro's Most Profitable Hold'em Advice, p. 117.


Hold'em is a game where you're only rarely able to impress opponents. Much of your profit comes from making the most profitable and most obvious decisions consistently over a long period of time. If you do that, you'll impress your opponents. You'll impress them with the realization that you have their money.

Guess the casino, #108





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




Answer: Palms

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Springs Preserve




I took the day off from poker today. Instead, I went with a friend to a place I've been wanting to visit since it opened: The Springs Preserve. Despite present appearances, this part of the desert has had natural springs. Over long periods of time they appear and disappear, but their intermittent existence is why this area has been settled by at various times by various peoples. The one that set off what has since become Las Vegas is now surrounded by this park/museum. It's basically a combined indoor and outdoor natural history museum of Vegas. It's really very nice--even more so than I had anticipated. We happened to choose a day of perfect weather for walking around: pleasantly warm, in the few weeks we have before it becomes intolerably hot here.

I took a zillion pictures (OK, more like 115). I was going to make a Flickr album from them, but that site warned me that I was about to exceed the limit for my free account. Picasa, on the other hand, said, "Sure, I'll post all of those for you for free!" So that's where they went. You can see them here, including a slideshow option.

The one above doesn't look like anything special, but it was to attain an interesting significance later in the day. After dinner, my friend and I watched the next installment in the Paul Newman Film Festival: "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." You may recall that in an early scene the gang is robbing a train. The man in charge of safeguarding the money on board is a little too stubborn about opening the door. He politely apologizes for refusing the gang's request, but keeps repeating that he was personally entrusted with the money by his employer, Mr. E.H. Harriman of the Union Pacific Railroad. I just assumed that this was a made-up name in the screenplay, but my more astute friend recalled that we had seen that same name earlier in the day, in the portion of the museum about the effect of the railroad on the development of Las Vegas. Sure enough. It's very strange to come across a relatively obscure historical name like that twice in one day, in two different contexts.

Anyway, the Springs Preserve is, I think, a worthy addition to your itinerary if you're coming to Vegas and want to get away from the casinos and find some non-Vegasy things to do. Be prepared to do a lot of walking, though--it covers a lot of territory. My legs are already aching, and I'm sure will be worse tomorrow. By then, though, I'll be back to my usual "activity" of sitting at a poker table, so maybe it won't be so bad.

Clouds (zero poker content)




While driving east on Charleston late this afternoon, the friend with me noticed this unusual cloud formation. I believe these are known as "lenticular clouds" (see here and here). I have seen them once before, but had forgotten the name until I got home and started poking around the interwebs. Very cool.

Erroneous calculation

About a year and a half ago I became curious about the probability of being the only player at the table who has been dealt a pocket pair to start a hand. While investigating it, I came across a surprisingly elaborate calculation of the solution done by Brian Alspach. Toward the bottom of this page, you see a table that lists the probability that somebody has a pocket pair larger than the one you were dealt. The first line of this table says that if one player has K-K, the probability that another has been given A-A is 0.0439, or about 4.4%.

This is incorrect.

I have now been keeping careful track over three years of playing, and now have sufficient real-world data to say that Mr. Alspach, bright as he is, has it all wrong. K-K will turn out to be up against A-A 99.3% of the time.

But there's more to this. If you have A-A, you would like an opponent to have K-K so that he is willing to put all his money into the pot for you to take (well, you'll take it about 80% of the time, anyway). But this mismatch turns out to be quite rare, with A-A finding its K-K victim only 0.2% of the time, according to my detailed and extensive records.

This is a statistical paradox, the bizarre mathematics of which have not yet been fully worked out. I have it on good authority that some of the top minds at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, are working on this seeming impossible pair of observations.

The full solution, though, is likely beyond even the next generation of supercomputers, lying in the realm of the paranormal.

Guess the casino, #107




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Answer: Caesars Palace

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Hero calls




My hero calls haven't been going too well lately, in my serious income-making cash games, anyway. (The donkalicious low-stakes HORSE games late at night online are another story.) The last three have been wrong, though I got lucky and sucked out with one of them. It's an expensive mistake to make. On the other hand, though, it's expensive to abandon the pot if you have the best hand. Money not won is just as bad as money lost (to invert a classic Caro-ism).

The Vegas Flea was kind enough to treat me to lunch at the Venetian this afternoon (thanks again!), and I had told him that I was trying to steer clear of marginal situations and close decisions, specifically including hero calls. But then there I was two hours later, facing one, hating the situation, and hating myself for having gotten into it.

I was in middle position with Qc-10c. Yay, crubs! I limped in. Button raised to, I think, $10. I called. Yeah, I know, that was already a marginal decision. When I look back at how I get myself into these messes, honestly it often starts something like this--a hand that can easily be dominated from the get-go, played for a raise from out of position. I know better than that, really I do. But sometimes I still act against my own better judgment. (If you never do, allow me to nominate you for sainthood right this minute. See Cardgrrl's confession on this same sort of matter here.)

The flop was 7-7-9 with two clubs. Yay, crubs! The button bet $15. I called. I did not stop to weigh the pot odds, having fresh in mind BWOP's recent insight: "[Y]ou're always getting the proper pot odds to call when you have the crub flush draw." (We are now on step 2 of the analysis of how I get myself into these difficult situations.)

The turn was Kc. Yay, crubs! They always get there! I thought this particular opponent, with a history of being quite aggressive, would fire on every street, so I decided to check-call again ($25 this time), with the intention of a river check-raise for maximum value. (How do I get into situations in which I have to make gut-wrenching decisions on the river? We are now on step 3 of how.)

The river was a red king. Ruh roh. I had not anticipated that. Now we had a double-paired board, and I was out of position against the pre-flop raiser, who might have just caught his miracle card to boat up against my crub flush. (Or is that crub frush?) Gulp. I checked.

How do I find myself in horrendous spots? I believe I have just laid out for you a full roadmap of the path to no-man's land.

My opponent bet $106. Why that odd amount? It was all the chips he had left, though he was leaving himself a $100 bill behind. But I had watched this guy for an hour, and everything about him was suddenly different than it had been when he had value-bet previous hands. He acted very rapidly this time, whereas before he had always been deliberate. He forcefully stacked up his chips and slammed them down in one big stack in front of him--completely the opposite of his usual calm, calculated approach to betting. After shoving out the chips, he sat WAY back in his seat, with his hands folded across his abdomen, glowering at me. I had never before seen him shift noticeably in his chair when betting, and he had never taken anything even remotely like this posture and facial expression. The bet amount was novel for him, too--his value bets had typically been half the pot or less, whereas this was approximately the size of the pot.

This was all classic stuff that should, by rights, be indications of weakness (because, obviously, he is trying to project extreme strength). On the other hand, was this guy smart and tricky enough to being doing it all as a sort of mind-game reverse-tell thing, begging for a call? Maybe.

As for his bet size, he could easily put me on a 7 here, given the line I had taken (slow-playing trips, then needing to be cautious when a third club hit), so he might expect a large bet to be called by the under-full if he had a king in his hand. He could easily have started wtih A-K, taken a routine c-bet stab at the pot when the flop was checked to him, bet his top pair/top kicker when the possible flush was checked to him, and then have made the near-nuts on the end. Conversely, though, he was definitely a player who could and would three-barrel complete air against an opponent showing weakness.

I HATE this sort of dilemma. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

I finally decided on a call. (The original plan for a river check-raise was obviously out the window, because he would only call a raise with a hand that beat my flush.) The combination of (1) the unlikelihood of him having a king and catching two more, and (2) the sudden appearance of a constellation of apparent tells, was just too much to ignore. I pushed $106 forward.*

My opponent picked up his cards and looked at them again, without showing them, and said, "Good call." GRRRRRRRRRRR! This is one of my, oh, million or so poker pet peeves. When you get called--especially when you get called for a large pot in a situation in which your opponent obviously had a difficult decision to make, show your f'ing cards already! Or, if you prefer, just muck them and surrender--that's fine with me, too. But this nonsense of expecting something like "Good call" to end your obligation to do one or the other is infuriating.

Nevertheless, after I sat there silently and defiantly, just staring into his eyes, psychically projecting all the bile and hate I could muster at his egregious lack of courtesy and ethics, he apparently concluded that he was not going to succeed at getting me to take him off the hook. He gingerly showed J-10 offsuit. How about that--I had been ahead all along! When he saw my flush, he disgustedly picked up his remaining C-note and stormed away from the table.


I suppose it's unrealistic to hope to avoid hero-call decisions. After all, the essence of no-limit hold'em, as Doyle Brunson pointed out long ago, is to put an opponent to a decision for all of his chips. Even if one were to try to avoid marginal situations by playing only ultra-premium hands, one is still going to have to make critical, difficult decisions, such as whether pocket aces are good as an overpair when an opponent's all-in suggests he may have made a set against you. So despite the irony of having to make a hero call in a difficult spot a mere two hours after having expressed to a friend my determination to avoid ever having to do so, maybe that resolution was ill-conceived to begin with.

I can't read soulz, but perhaps I can nevertheless make decisions in those marginal situations with sufficient clarity and profitability--the last three missteps notwithstanding--that I won't have to keep writing posts about how anguishing they are.




*Incidentally, I habitually do this, rather than just announce "Call," for what amounts to a stupid, purely psychological/emotional reason: It hurts less. That is, it seems somehow less painful to let go of those chips when there is still uncertainty as to whether I won or lost than to have to count them out and give them away after learning for certain that I have lost and they will not be coming back to me. I confess to having at least a few patches of irrationality in my psyche that I have not yet been able to eradicate, and this is one of them.

Poker terms

Heard a new one today at the Venetian. A guy had won two pots in a row. Then when he was on the button called a small raise, saying, "Heat test. If she [indicating the dealer] can make something out of this hand, we're onto something."

Flop was raggedy. Original raiser bet. The object of the story made a large raise, causing the other player to fold. He then showed his 6-3, with which he had flopped bottom two pair. He said, "Yep, it's a heater, all right."

The "heat test" was a new one on me: play a junk hand as a test for whether you're on a heater. It's a completely ridiculous concept, but fun.

Poker plates




Considering which parking garage I was in when I spotted this license plate today, I'm guessing that "Poker Kitten" is in town for the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza.

Poker gems, #237

Alan Schoonmaker, in Card Player magazine column, vol. 22, #3, available here.


Disregard your guilt about being dishonest, your fear of looking foolish, and the kick you get from fancy moves. Do whatever will improve your long-term profits.

Poker gems, #236

Mark Tenner and Lou Krieger, in Winning Omaha/8 Poker, p. 45.


If you aspire to become a winning player, realize that all you have control over is the quality of decisions you make at the poker table. Many of your opponents will blame and even berate the dealer for a run of bad cards. Some bemoan their fate, complaining that they, of all people in the universe, have the worst luck of all. That's nonsense. You know it and we know it. And they probably know it too. But for many players, it's easier to place the blame anywhere but squarely on their own shoulders, where it rightfully belongs.

Poker gems, #235

Mark Tenner and Lou Krieger, in Winning Omaha/8 Poker, p. 42.

Patience in Omaha/8 means becoming a bit of an extremist. You'll play hands at both the big and small edges of the spectrum, but if you're playing correctly you'll throw away hands in the middle range. Imagine Omaha/8 as though it were a game with the sevens, eights, and nines removed from the deck, and that you'll play only cards dealt from that smaller but vastly improved pool. If you can hold that image in your mind, you'll do OK in the long run....

Play patiently, and don't play hands that include the dreaded seven, eight, or nine. While you'll win some of the time with those cards--actually, you'll win some of the time with any cards--in the long run you'll bleed to death at the table. Be selective, be patient, and, in Omaha/8, throw those problematic mid-range cards away.

Poker gems, #234

Mark Tenner and Lou Krieger, in Winning Omaha/8 Poker, p. 41.


Because you have four starting cards in your hand, representing six unique two-card combinations, you should play hands in which all four are coordinated in some meaningful way. Many of your opponents will be playing hands that include danglers, misfit cards that add little to a hand. Suppose you've been dealt Q-J-T-3. The three ten-pointers are components of a playable hand, but the trey is almost useless. You've got a three-legged stool with a dangler. Now, three legs might be sufficient if you were milking a cow, but they're not good enough to milk money from an Omaha pot.

Guess the casino, #106





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




Answer: Palace Station

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Prop bets, dartboards, and poker




I don't do any significant prop betting. One dollar on the pig races at Bill's is about as far as I'll go. But I've been pondering lately about how one can think of poker as a prop bet.

Of course, the key to success in prop betting is setting the parameters in your favor, as well as settling on the maximum amount that your opponent will be willing to go for, if you manage to get the terms of the bet in your favor. You do the same thing in poker. If I have a stronger starting hand, I try to lure you to put money into the pot with your weaker hand--as much as I think you'll agree to.

In many forms of prop bets, the terms can change over time. This happens all the time in golf, for example. As the round plays out, it may become clear that one player is gaining an advantage over the other that will be difficult to overcome. The one with the advantage may try to get more money into the "pot," perhaps with different terms for the remaining holes, pressing his edge. In poker, you are effectively renegotiating the terms of your prop bet with every betting round, as new information is gained, and each party sees that his position has been strengthened or weakened.

But putting aside the prop bet analogy, let me tell you about one of the weird ways in which my brain works. I can't tell you exactly how long I've been thinking this way, but some time after I started playing here in Vegas I began imagining what we might call "the dartboard theory of poker."

Suppose we get all the money in before the flop. I have, say, J-J, you have, say, A-K. Nearly every time I'm in a situation like this, I envision a dartboard divided up into sectors of "me" and "you." We don't have an expert dart thrower on the line, one who could nail any sector of the board he wanted to, but rather a blindfolded drunk guy. The board is really big, so he can't miss, but where the dart lands is random. We have it basically divided 50-50, like this:





Or, more likely, it's about 52-48 (depending on the suits involved), like this:





(Yeah, I know these don't look like dartboards. They're just stupid Excel pie charts. Superimposing the colors over the image of an actual dartboard is way beyond my graphics-manipulation capabilities, so just use a bit of imagination, OK? After all, this whole post is about how to imagine things. Also, I didn't even bother cropping out the surrounding junk, because, well, I'm lazy, and didn't think it would help things, that's why.)

The board playing out is no longer a series of independent events, but a single throw of a dart, which may land in my territory or in yours--we'll have to see.

Once I started thinking of all-in situations in this manner, a fairly natural evolution (well, natural if your brain is wired in the scarily strange way that mine happens to be) is to start seeing the betting as efforts to move the line of demarcation between my dartboard territory and yours, sort of like a tug-of-war, with each contestant trying to push or pull the line his way. Of course, a more accurate description would be that each is trying to control his opponent's perception of where the line is, since usually neither one knows for sure, and it's not something you can actually change.

My vision of success in poker is when I in essence get an opponent to agree to match the money I have put into the pot when the dartboard looks something like this:





It's especially good if that happens when the opponent thinks the board is like this:





In fact, perhaps that's a necessary element, because no rational player is going to put the money in if he knew how the territory was really marked.

Once you have all the money in with one or more cards to come, you have made a deal with your opponent. You have the dartboard surface area divided between you in some manner--basically even, strongly in your favor, or strongly in his. Then a dart is thrown, and neither of you has any control over where it might land.

I realize that this way of looking at it isn't any different from just assigning percentages or odds or outs. But for whatever reason (a visually oriented brain, maybe?), it seems more natural to me to think this way. When I have completed a successful negotiation, and have, say, 90% of the board locked up my way, I feel that I have done my job well. It makes it at least slightly easier to let go of the result when I imagine it as a dart being thrown wildly at the board. I have exerted all of the control that I can before it is thrown, and there is nothing more I can do thereafter. It lands where it lands. It is what it is.

Here, for example, is how the dartboard looked in my hand against the Spewtard:





I can live with that. The object of poker is to get your opponent to put as much money in the pot as he is willing to, when as much of the dartboard is marked off for you as possible, and I did that.

There have, of course, been many situations where I was 100% to win, even with one or more cards yet to come--for example, when I flopped a straight flush. I think that the closest I've come to 100% without actually being there was this hand at the Rio, in which a guy made an all-in bluff into me with nothing when I held the nuts on the flop, and he had to go perfect-perfect just to get a chop. My dartboard that day looked like this:





On the other hand, I have been in a few truly horrible situations, but had the drunken dart-thrower deliver me a miracle. For example, when I was the one making an ill-timed all-in bluff into two opponents who had flopped flushes, I was unknowingly agreeing to a dartboard approximately like this:





Oops. But I think the worst I have ever gotten it all in with, and yet had the dart land in that tiny sliver of area with my name on it, was a tournament hand at the Venetian, in which the dartboard looked like this:





Once in a while, those drunk, blindfolded dart throwers can really thread the needle!

I don't have any profound conclusion to draw from any of this. I just thought I would share a couple of the odd visions that flash through my brain when I'm in certain poker situations.

Guess the casino, #105





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




Answer: Hard Rock

Monday, April 06, 2009

Readers' tournament, second reminder



Coming up three weeks from today. Full details here. Six entrants already signed up. Better hurry--it's capped at 5000!

Poker gems, #233




Gabe Kaplan, on the 4/5/2009 installment of "High Stakes Poker." (For more on Hickok and his final hand, see here. To see the biggest pot in televised poker history ($919,600 cash), watch part 2 here.)


I had a big rivalry with Wild Bill Hickok. Bill used to come over the top of me all the time. I was sad when he got shot, not because he got shot, but the flop on that hand came A-10-8, and I had A-10. I thought I was gonna win a lot of money finally, y’know, and boom, and it was over. Flop top two pair and the guy gets shot in the back.

Call of the century

From the razz portion of a HORSE sit-and-go recently completed.




I was just so convinced he was stealing that I was determined to call him down, almost no matter what. I knew making the call on 7th that if he had just one unpaired card lower than a 10 among his three down cards he would win. I decided that the chance that he didn't was worth the call. And whaddyaknow--I was right.

Or I might just be an idiotic calling station.



That's all I have to say about the hand. Now I have to say a word about how I got this animated for you.

I have lamented several times that there is no poker hand replayer that works for stud and razz hands. Tonight I did another search to see if perhaps that had changed, and found one here: http://www.universal-replayer.net/. It's kind of clunky, but it does a job that nothing else does (as far as I know), and even simulates the skin of whatever major poker site the hand occurred on.

The problem with it is that, as far as I can tell, it doesn't save or export the videos in any standard video format. So I downloaded a trial version of CaptureWiz here. That enabled me to make an .avi file from the replayer, upload it to YouTube, and then embed it above. Way more steps than such a task should require these days, but I don't know of any more straightforward way to accomplish it. Suggestions welcome. (CaptureWiz also apparently picked up whatever was coming in through my computer's built-in microphones and transferred it to the audio track, so that's the computer fan you hear whirring in the background. There's probably a way to stop that, but it's not important enough to me to spend any more time on it right now.)

Full hand history below for the obsessively interested:

*********** # 28 **************
PokerStars Game #26778907976: Tournament #153656543, $10+$1 HORSE (Razz Limit) - Level III (40/80) - 2009/04/06 3:41:53 ET
Table '153656543 1' 8-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: Rakewell1 (1995 in chips)
Seat 2: Brandon518 (2178 in chips)
Seat 3: YaDunSon (1664 in chips)
Seat 4: Cardgrrl (836 in chips)
Seat 5: STERGEON (1250 in chips)
Seat 6: tuckmaniac (1631 in chips)
Seat 7: Qn58903 (1421 in chips)
Seat 8: fluffyflo (1025 in chips)
Cardgrrl: posts the ante 8
STERGEON: posts the ante 8
tuckmaniac: posts the ante 8
Qn58903: posts the ante 8
fluffyflo: posts the ante 8
Rakewell1: posts the ante 8
Brandon518: posts the ante 8
YaDunSon: posts the ante 8
*** 3rd STREET ***
Dealt to Rakewell1 [6h Ah Ks]
Dealt to Brandon518 [Qh]
Dealt to YaDunSon [6d]
Dealt to Cardgrrl [Ac]
Dealt to STERGEON [4h]
Dealt to tuckmaniac [8s]
Dealt to Qn58903 [7h]
Dealt to fluffyflo [2d]
Rakewell1: brings in for 12
Brandon518: folds
YaDunSon: folds
Cardgrrl: folds
STERGEON: folds
tuckmaniac: folds
Qn58903: folds
fluffyflo: raises 28 to 40
Rakewell1: calls 28
*** 4th STREET ***
Dealt to Rakewell1 [6h Ah Ks] [4c]
Dealt to fluffyflo [2d] [3d]
fluffyflo: bets 40
Rakewell1: calls 40
*** 5th STREET ***
Dealt to Rakewell1 [6h Ah Ks 4c] [Ts]
Dealt to fluffyflo [2d 3d] [7c]
fluffyflo: bets 80
Rakewell1: calls 80
*** 6th STREET ***
Dealt to Rakewell1 [6h Ah Ks 4c Ts] [2h]
Dealt to fluffyflo [2d 3d 7c] [5h]
fluffyflo: bets 80
Rakewell1: calls 80
*** RIVER ***
Dealt to Rakewell1 [6h Ah Ks 4c Ts 2h] [As]
fluffyflo: bets 80
Rakewell1: calls 80
*** SHOW DOWN ***
fluffyflo: shows [Jh Qc 2d 3d 7c 5h 3h] (Lo: J,7,5,3,2)
Rakewell1: shows [6h Ah Ks 4c Ts 2h As] (Lo: T,6,4,2,A)
Rakewell1 collected 704 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 704 Rake 0
Seat 1: Rakewell1 showed [6h Ah Ks 4c Ts 2h As] and won (704) with Lo: T,6,4,2,A
Seat 2: Brandon518 folded on the 3rd Street (didn't bet)
Seat 3: YaDunSon (button) folded on the 3rd Street (didn't bet)
Seat 4: Cardgrrl folded on the 3rd Street (didn't bet)
Seat 5: STERGEON folded on the 3rd Street (didn't bet)
Seat 6: tuckmaniac folded on the 3rd Street (didn't bet)
Seat 7: Qn58903 folded on the 3rd Street (didn't bet)
Seat 8: fluffyflo showed [Jh Qc 2d 3d 7c 5h 3h] and lost with Lo: J,7,5,3,2

Guess the casino, #104





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




Answer: Flamingo

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Today's helpful hint





Today I was one of several people starting a new table at the Venetian. As things were getting underway, the cocktail waitress arrived. She asked for identification from one young man before taking his drink order. I thought he looked mid-20s, but you can never be sure. I couldn't quite hear the ensuing conversation, but there was some sort of problem. It concluded with him saying something like, "If you can't bring me a drink, fine, it's no big deal."

Since the drinking age and the gambling age are the same, I thought it was peculiar that they would deny him liquor but allow him to continue playing poker. But it was none of my business, so I didn't say anything. Soon, however, the poker room shift manager came over and asked to see his ID. Again there was some sort of problem, the nature of which I couldn't quite ascertain. But I heard him being instructed to have the situation checked out at the main casino cage. The floor guy said something like, "If they say it's OK, they'll give you a wrist band so you won't have any more problems. But if they say no, we'll have to ask you to cash out your chips and leave."

After several minutes he came back, apologized to the table for leaving so abruptly. The problem was that his driver's license (I thought I saw "Illinois" on it, but I could be mistaken) had expired. The casino personnel apparently had no difficulty believing that the license had been valid, the photo was really him, etc. Furthermore, the birth date shown would confirm him to be of legal age. But I am left to infer--and this is news to me--that when there is sufficient doubt of legal age that they have to check one's ID, an expired license does not constitute valid proof. I do not know if this is just a Venetian house policy or a Nevada gaming regulation, though I'm sure I have plenty of readers who are required to know this stuff and can speak up in the comments.

So, if you're planning a big trip here, and you want it to include drinking and gambling, and you are of an age that you still tend to get carded, then you should add to your pre-trip list of things to check that your license or other state photo ID card is up to date, not expired.

You're welcome.

Guess the casino, #103





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Answer: Green Valley Ranch