Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Tommy Angelo just posted this intriguing insight on his blog, about the arrangement of the windows on Treasure Island, Bellagio, and probably other Strip properties. The question with which he leaves his readers is why they do this (i.e., how does this help them make money). I don't know, but I'm curious. The only answer I can come up with quickly (and it's not a particularly good one) is that it makes the windows look bigger, so one is more likely to think, "Oh, I'll stay there because it has big windows." But who picks a hotel based on window size?
A couple of nights ago I had yet another poker dream, but this one contained the germ of an idea that just might work.
I was playing in a poker tournament in which the action was periodically stopped for a trivia question, and answering correctly allowed one to double up.
So here's the basic idea, as refined a bit by some daytime pondering. In a tournament, at the end of every level (or two, or three), you use a Trivial Pursuit or similar game card. You announce the subject. Players are then allowed to prop-bet with each other about whether they will be able to answer it correctly. (In order to reduce the time for such bargaining, you might limit it by saying that each player can make a deal with only one other player. You could go even further and specify the prop-bet pairings; e.g., the small blind with the big blind, UTG with the player on his left, and so on. In that kind of pairing, when the game is 9-handed, the button would be out of luck for that round.)
They could negiotiate for any number of chips up to what they have--like the "Daily Double" on "Jeopardy." (This is another reason for limiting the deals to one per customer; you don't want somebody double-committing more chips than they have.)
The question is posed. Players write down the answer on a slip of paper. The answer is announced.
If both players have it right or wrong, it's a push, no chips trade hands. But if one has it right and the other wrong, the agreed-upon number of chips moves from loser to winner. Then the tournament continues as usual.
I don't expect to see this implemented in the World Poker Tour anytime soon. But if you give it a try in your home game, let me know how it works out.
My dear friend Cardgrrl sent me an email overnight with the subject "I hate the 2-4," and the above photo. I suspect this was from one of her 45-player SNGs on Full Tilt.
You run into a believer, and there's nothing you can do about it.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I went downstairs to pick up my mail, and on the way back to my apartment spied this little critter on the door frame of one of the ground-floor units. I came back down with my good camera and snapped a few pictures. (Much bigger versions are available for you just a click away.)
I have not seen a praying mantis since moving to Nevada. I didn't even know that any lived here, though it makes sense that they would, given the abundant supply of crickets for food.
I think they are magnificent creatures. He (or she--who can tell?) was much more intense green than shows up in these photos. I suspect the blue paint tricked the camera's sensors somehow, and caused the green to be muted artifactually. He really isn't pale and washed-out as these pictures make him appear.
Alas, he did not seem to be thriving. He seemed weak and stumbling and slow-moving. The temperature here dropped down to 37 degrees last night, and that can't be good for him and his kind.
I worried that some dork would deliberately kill him as something grotesque, or he might get accidentally stepped on if he moved onto the sidewalk from where he was precariously hanging, so I gently moved him to the other side of the sidewalk, onto a shrub. Look at how nicely he camouflages!
I fear that he won't last more than another day or two, but he brightened my life for the day just by existing, and by reminding me of other places I have lived where a diversity of wildlife is more abundantly apparent when strolling around than it is in the desert of Las Vegas.
Graham "Ribbo" Ribchester, in Bluff magazine, November, 2009, p. 94.
The thing about tilt is that when you finally realize you need help controlling it, it's too late as, you've already burned through a significant portion of your bankroll.... Hindsight is a wonderful thing in the world of poker. Players often muse, "How could I have played that hand differently?" A question they should ponder over is "Could I have played those last 50,000 hands differently?"
Monday, November 16, 2009
I have occasionally been following the simultaneously sad and ludicrous hyperinflation in Zimbabwe via new reports on public radio. I remember laughing out loud in my car when a reporter said that the cost of a loaf of bread had reached ten billion dollars.
Late last year, inflation was so out of control that prices were doubling every 1.3 days, yielding an annual inflation rate estimated at 516 quintillion percent. (See here.) The government responded by producing currency of ever-higher values. That trend hit its peak in January, 2009, with what you see above: the 100-trillion-dollar note. It didn't last long. As of July, the Zimbabwe dollar officially ceased to exist. The bills are now worthless as legal tender. The last radio report I heard the other day said that they blow in the streets and people don't even bother to stoop to pick them up.
Their only value now is as novelty items, which is how they are being sold on ebay. You can buy them from several vendors there, as I did, for about $3, including postage.
It's really quite a nice note--except for the completely absurd demonination. It is also a sad testament to what happens when incompetent and corrupt governments destroy the economy of a nation.
Speaking of which, we probably shouldn't laugh too loud at the fate of the Zimbabwean dollar. With the insanely out-of-control spending of the current U.S. administration--only slightly less corrupt and misguided than that of Zimbabwe--virtually certain to produce a recurrence of our own unhappy history with inflation, our currency may also become, in the not-too-distant future, nothing more than a curiosity to be sold on ebay to those in other nations who will own what used to be our wealth.
I've been catching up on episodes of "The Amazing Race" that I missed last month while I was out east. Last night I watched the one before they get eliminated. (Saw that one just now.) They're in Dubai. They've been having a rough time of it there, and are hoping that the next clue will tell them to go someplace else.
Just before Tiffany opens the envelope, she pauses for a few seconds and reverentially says, "Please, Jesus, let us leave Dubai."
Now, this can't be meant at the most literal level, which would imply that they're being held prisoner and can only leave Dubai if there is divine intervention. They're free to do whatever they want. Under the circumstances, it seems most likely that what she means is this: "Please, Jesus, make this envelope contain an instruction that we fly to another part of the world."
But how nutty is that? The route for the race was obviously planned long in advance. The clue inside the envelope was printed, presumably, before the race even began. Other teams that are ahead of them have already opened their envelopes with identical clues and started working on the task assigned. So she is asking Jesus to magically change what has already been written on the clue. I'm not sure if she expects that, as a result, they will be told to go somewhere else while the other teams continue on in Dubai (because Jesus fell down on the job and didn't grant her wish; maybe she failed to click her heels three times, or burn incense, or sacrifice a goat as a burnt offering, or whatever else one must do to get the proper attention of supernatural beings), or if she thinks that Jesus will not only change the printing on the clue, but also reverse time and make all of the clues say something different than they did when they were created. Perhaps her intention is that Jesus will reverse time all the way back to pre-production meetings so that no option other than having the teams leave Dubai at that point is ever considered.
If she really believes that there is a supernatural being that works this way, and exercises such awesome powers on her specific behalf because she is so special to him, even when the goal is something as trivial and silly as winning a reality TV show, she is genuinely looney.
And logically speaking, if Jesus has that kind of powers and is willing to use them for her benefit because he is so in love with her precious self, wouldn't it have been a whole lot easier just to ask him for a million dollars to begin with, and skip the whole race thing?
Her request is just as shockingly daft, and in precisely the same way, as Jerry Yang asking Jesus to change the cards after the dealer has already shuffled and cut the deck, or Shannon Elizabeth fervently believing that the combined mental efforts of herself and her supporters can accomplish the same thing.
My guess is that if directly confronted with the insanity of her prayer, Michelle would come up with some flimsy explanation, such as that's not really what she expected to have happen. Of course, I'd then want to ask what she did expect to occur as a result. I mean, she's taking a moment away from a race to ask Jesus to do something--what is it, exactly, that she expects him to do, if not just what her words say? If she is really not expecting anything to happen, then it seems to me that she is guilty of having no faith, and/or taking the name of her lord in vain. If I were Jesus, I wouldn't take kindly to being bothered with requests from people who don't really expect me to do anything about them.
I can already hear the protestations coming in via the comments feature: "It's just an expression of her faith. It's not meant to be taken literally." To which I reply: Rubbish. She chose those specific words out of an infinite number of possibilities. I.e., if her thought was simply a more general, "Jesus, we could really use some help to do well on whatever this next task may be," well, words just about like those would have been more suitable, and they are, I assume, within her vocabulary and comprehension. She did not choose to say that. She said, "Please, Jesus, let us leave Dubai," which is not even close to being some vague wish about helping them with whatever the next challenge might be. It is very specific in nature.
So she either meant what she said, and she is insane, or there is a profound disconnect between what she says and what she means, which, to me, says that she is too stupid to select words that at least fall in the general direction of her intended meaning.
Either way, not a very flattering insight into the mind of Tiffany Michelle.
I was playing a HORSE sit-and-go with Cardgrrl earlier this evening when I caught this hand. It's not too often that I flop a straight flush--even in Omaha--so I grabbed a screen shot of the moment.
It seems morally outrageous that with such a great hand I had to split the pot with a palty little low hand of no real significance.
So it seems that the Cannery in North Las Vegas got robbed at gunpoint Friday afternoon. See here and here for the few details available.
The first word that popped into my mind when I heard this: HA!
(For those who may not know my history earlier this year with said establishment, read the posts here.)
I suppose the Cannery's official line will be that these thugs undoubtedly were skulking about days in advance, stealthily snapping pictures of the murals and other decorations, thus justifying the Canery's practice of apprehending all people caught engaging in such obviously nefarious activity.
Here's how I see it: If their idiotic security guards didn't waste time and manpower harassing and detaining perfectly innocent people doing perfectly innocent (and legal) things, then maybe they'd be available to stop the actual criminals who are committing actual felonies on the property.
I note that these crooks got away. Seems the Cannery security forces aren't quite so bold and brave at stopping people from leaving if they're carrying guns. "No, you just go right on ahead to the nearest exit, sir. We don't want to bother you. Besides, there are a few Japanese tourists taking pictures of each other at that slot machine over there. We're going to be busy taking turns flogging them in the back room for the next hour or so. We certainly can't let that sort of thing go unpunished! Here, let me hold that door open for you, as it seems that your arms are full of bags of loot. Thanks for coming and have a nice day."
Again I say, HA!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
This story is a few months old, but I just now came across it. It's from "Hollywood" Dave Stann's blog. Pretty disturbing ruling from the floor at the Wynn, assuming things happened the way Stann claims (and his tale seems to me to have the ring of authenticity). See here.