Saturday, September 26, 2009

Poker gems, #312

Daniel Negreanu, in ESPN's World Series of Poker Main Event coverage, broadcast September 22, 2009.

I don't think bubbling is a bad thing at all. If you're a bubble boy, that means you've got guts. It's the guys who squeak in the money like little rats--those are the ones who should be embarrassed. The guy who goes out with a blaze of glory and says, "I am the bubble boy," y'know, he should be applauded. This is a guy that's going to make it some day.

Guess the casino, #277

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

Answer: Paris

Friday, September 25, 2009

Guess the casino, #276

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

Answer: Imperial Palace

Mac King

There are a bunch of magic shows around town. I've seen a few of them, and they're pretty much interchangeable and forgettable. For a long time I assumed that the "Mac King Comedy Magic Show" was another of them. But then I saw some random comment from Penn Jillette about Mac King being the most innovative magician on the Strip. That caught my attention, and I started looking for opportunities to see the show. When Cardgrrl checked into Harrah's on a recent visit, they gave her a discounted coupon for the show, which she passed on to me. Yesterday I finally used it.

The show is really great. Except maybe for the cutting-the-rope trick at the beginning, essentially everything is presented in ways I haven't seen before. He is constantly foiling the expectations you have developed from a lifetime of seeing other magic shows. Because I never knew for sure where tricks were going, they surprised me, and made me wish I had a videotape of the show so I could go back and watch to figure out how things were done. Most magic shows leave me much less curious than this one did.

It is far and away the funniest magic show I've ever been to. The guy is just naturally funny. For example, at one point a female audience member was instructed to keep a few cards secure. She chose to tuck them inside the front of her bra. When it came time for the cards to be revealed, he asked for them back. She seemed a bit unsure of what to do. She tentatively reached toward the top of her shirt, and but then stopped to ask, "Should I take them out?" Without missing a beat, he responded in deadpan, "Just the cards."

At another point, a young woman was told to write her name across the card she had selected. She was a little unclear on the concept, and used the giant black pen to write her name across the BACK of the card. He rolled with it, and had a great time pretending how difficult it was to pick out the right card with the deck face down.

And if you don't laugh when he dons the "cloak of invisibility" and tiptoes around the stage, well, there's just something wrong with you.

I've never seen free tickets for this show, but it was well worth the discounted $10 apiece price, and I would readily go to see it again.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Famous pros' blogs, real or otherwise

Just a quick note to point you to this funny post from Daniel Negreanu's blog, in which he parodies what other well-known professional poker players' blogs actually are like, or might be like if they wrote them. Enjoy.

Something I hadn't heard of before

I use Yahoo as my home page, and the news feed on it has a "local" section. Today it featured a story from the Las Vegas Sun on the one-year anniversary of the opening of the Erotic Heritage Museum, which had somehow escaped my attention before now. Something, well, different to do when you're visiting next time.

Guess the casino, #275

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

Answer: Suncoast

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Guess the casino, #274

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

Answer: Palms

That's the way (uh-huh, uh-huh) I like it (uh-huh, uh-huh)

Mandalay Bay has recently become my default place to play on Sunday afternoons. I have played there four Sunday afternoons of late, booking no losses and averaging $353 per session. This week was no exception, even though it was actually the smallest of my wins.

It was one of those rare sessions in which nearly everything went the way I wanted it to. Because my ex-wife is visiting, I have had to modify my poker schedule to leave more time for playing host. Sunday that meant that I had only three hours to play while she did shopping and window shopping in the Mandalay/Luxor/Excalibur complex.

I hoped to be able to pull in $200 in that time frame, though it wouldn't really be right to consider that a "goal." I know from long experience that one has only limited control over hourly win (or loss) rate in a given session, so it's pretty silly to set specific monetary goals. But $200 was enough that I wouldn't feel like I was hurting my income to have just a short session, so it was what I was hoping for.

The ex arrived back in the poker room five minutes before the three hours was up, and I was up exactly $201, having hit that mark just about three hands before, which was very satisfying. Moreover, I had not had a single difficult decision to make the entire time. Every bluff I ran won me the pot (though that was only three or four). I made only one erroneous river call. I built my stack gradually, with no huge pots; I never won or lost more than about $60 in any hand. The only time my entire stack was at risk was when I was all-in, but I had the nuts at the time, so the risk was minimal--and we ended up chopping that pot.* I used table image and position to get enough respect that I usually won with a raise pre-flop or a continuation bet or check-raise on the flop. Few hands went further, which is why I wasn't faced with any really difficult decisions. In fact, I only lost two hands at showdown. One was the call I shouldn't have made for about $30. The other was when I made a pre-flop raise with some junk, a very short stack moved all in for so little more that I was compelled to call, and I didn't get lucky on him.

Overall, it was the classic Aesop's "slow and steady wins the race." And that, in turn, meant that it was basically stress-free poker.

Days like that are rare, but when they occur, they make me think, "Gee, this is EASY!" Then I usually get snapped back to reality the next time out.

*Here's how I Tweeted that hand. It's worth retelling because it was the only funny (though unintentionally so, on the part of the speaker) thing that happened all afternoon:

Unclear on the concept story: Board is Q8KK. Opponent and I both go all in. We
both show KQ. He says, "I knew I was good unless you had pocket kings."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Guess the casino, #273

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

Answer: Hooters

Another reader learns the 2-4 lesson


Monday, September 21, 2009

Cheap stuff to do in Vegas

I won't ever make this blog primarily about Vegasy things, but today's email from pointed me to this L.A. Times article about things to do in Vegas for under $21. It listed a bunch of stuff I had never heard of before, so I assume it will be helpful to others, too.,0,450572.photogallery?track=rss

Lookie what I got!

I got a package in the mail today. My dear friend Cardgrrl had told me to expect something. (Did everybody notice that she changed the title--or, more precisely, the subtitle--of her blog after the big decision of last week?)

It's a hoodie sweatshirt! Yay! I love my hoodie sweatshirts for cold poker rooms.

But look more closely:

It's Grumpy! With my name!

Is that the most awesome thing ever, or what?!

Thank you, Cardgrrl. I love it. Instantly my favoritest sweatshirt EVAR.

Guess the casino, #272

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

Comment: This one breaks a rule that I had set for myself, which is that features not accessible to everybody would be off-limits. As you might be able to tell, this photo was taken inside of a men's restroom, which puts female readers at a disadvantage. However, for all I know there are the same or similar doors in the women's restroom. Besides, I think you can take a pretty good guess at the casino just from the general motif, even if you haven't personally been inside this room.

Answer: Caesars Palace

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Guess the casino, #271

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

Answer: Texas Station

Poker gems, #311

Mike Caro, in Poker Player newspaper column, September 28, 2009, pp. 4, 25.

Question 2: Don't players get upset if you make them feel foolish by tricking them?

Yes. You should never deliberately upset opponents.... So, immediately after you've tricked an opponent and won a pot, utter something friendly that indicates you were just having fun. I like to say things that suggest I played the hand badly and simultaneously enhance my loose image, such as, "I was hoping you'd call, because I've been out of line so many times. You're way ahead of me overall, but I'm still trying the same stupid tricks." Just giggle and move on. Your opponent isn't likely to be offended, because you're talking about your bad plays, not how superior you were with this one....

Question 6: If I'm feeling uncomfortable about tricking my opponent, what should I do?

I strongly recommend solitaire.

Shows 'n' stuff (no poker content)

I did some non-pokery stuff this week.


Monday night I got two free tickets to "X Burlesque" at the Flamingo. Tickets came from a subscription service I've mentioned before: The performers (seven of them, I believe) are unarguably attractive women who hit the genetic jackpot in terms of matching contemporary society's ideals of beauty. But I thought the show was pretty lifeless and dull. I didn't even stay to the end. Not my cup of tea.


Also through the service I scored two freebies for Cheap Trick performing the Beatles' "Sargeant Pepper" album live at the Hilton Tuesday night, in what was once Elvis Presley's theater. You can read more about the show here and read a review of it here. My friend Shamus also wrote about the whole deal here. (I offered him my extra ticket, but, for some strange reason, he didn't put his entire life on hold and fly across the country on 24 hours' notice. Same thing with Cardgrrl. Go figure. And these people call themselves my friends. Ha!)

This was one of the most enjoyable shows I've been to in Vegas. The band did not just do a slavish copy of what one hears on the album, as an unimaginative "tribute" band probably would. Rather, one gets a definite sense that Cheap Trick is playing music that they love, respect, and admire, but doing it their own way. For example, tempi were usually faster than the Beatles played. It's highly evocative of the original, but not merely an auditory copy. Of course, some things just shouldn't be changed--e.g., having a prominent clarinet part in "When I'm 64," and it was delightful to have a live orchestra with Cheap Trick making their major contribution. (Hey, Shamus, while I'm thinking about it, here's an idea: Next time you post a hand history and need some pseudonyms for your opponents, how about "Vera, Chuck, and Dave"?) The whole thing was just a glorious celebration of some of the best music that the rock genre has produced, with the band having every bit as good a time as the audience.


I get a daily email from, announcing one or two free or cheap things to do in Vegas. Today's was an interesting surprise: An exhibition of dinosaur fossils at the Venetian. It's in preparation for a big auction coming up next month. See details here. My ex-wife is in town for the next week, and we were both kind of interested in this, so we went. You can see my photos here. It's a little odd seeing all these things with estimated bidding ranges attached to them. Usually such things are in a museum, not for sale.


After that, we went to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, also at the Venetian. I had never been there before. I had one free ticket and a $10 off coupon for another ticket, so it cost only $15 for both of us (usual price $25 each). It's OK, but nothing that's worth going out of your way to see. You can see my pictures here. You might even see your favorite Grump (hint: "Make it so"), and/or your favorite Grump's ex-wife (hint: bunny ears). Also, don't miss the last few photos: odd items for sale in the gift shop.