Saturday, August 28, 2010

New poker room at South Point

I played at South Point today, for the first time since they opened their new poker room a few weeks ago. It's definitely a step up, though a small one. Nothing was made worse, and a few small items were improved.

I counted 22 tables, which seems like way more than they'll ever be able to use--but what do I know? Dealers and management remain unchanged, of course, as do the rules, some of which are silly.

Tables look like the same old ones to me, though I think the chairs are new. (Sorry for my uncertainty; I don't spend enough hours at South Point to be sure.) The most notable feature of the new room is that the tables are luxuriously far apart. It might even now boast the greatest average inter-table distance in the city, were anybody to bother measuring.

The room was admirably quiet--well, "admirable" if you like quiet poker rooms, which I do. I think that's more a function of the fact that there weren't a lot of people playing the nearest slot machines than due to the room actually being acoustically isolated in any way. As you can see, it remains wide open to the casino floor on one of its long sides. I noticed not even a whiff of cigarette smoke coming in, nor on my clothes later, though again this may have been due to a slow day in the adjacent slots area rather than any special accomplishment of the ventilation system.

A very nice touch is the addition of a self-serve coffee machine, as you can see in the last photo above--and hot chocolate, too! I don't drink coffee (can you believe I have achieved my advanced years without ever even tasting the stuff?) and the weather was too hot for sampling the hot chocolate, so perhaps my mild excitement will prove to be in vain. I wish they had a water cooler alongside it. I'd be far more likely to use that.

They're still using a paper list, but at least they do it reasonably competently.

Not much else has changed that I could tell. Basically, it's the same room, moved over 30 yards or so, expanded, with a bunch of extra dead tables and a set of new chairs and a coffee machine thrown in. Plus ca change.

So much for the room. The session? Not much interesting to report, as has been the case lately. Most of my profit came in one hand. Pocket 9s, raised to $10. Button goes all-in for his last $26. Big-stacked big blind calls. I call. Flop is A-9-2 with two diamonds. BB checks. This is a situation in which I will usually bet. However, I thought this flop missed him, and he needed to catch at least something to pay off my set. Furthermore, I had, up until this point, played flops after a pre-flop raise with perfect transparency and predictability: Bet if I hit, check and fold if I missed. I thought this guy was smart enough to have picked up on that pattern, and take a shot at the turn even if he had nothing. Time to pull a switcheroo on him.

Turn was offsuit 3. He checked again. I bet $25. He check-raised to $95, looking confident as all get-out. He had played fewer hands than anybody at the table, so I had no sense of his degree of trickiness. There was no flush possible, no paired board. The only possible straight was 4-5 for a gutshot flop turning the wheel, which seemed unlikely, given his pre-flop call of a reraise when the betting had been reopened to me behind him. The only other hand he could have that had me beat was A-A, and the pre-flop action argued against that. I thought it was most probable that we had either set-over-set, or he had aces up, both of which were fine with me and would likely earn me a call, so I shoved. He called with no hesitation and said, "Straight." He did indeed have the 4-5. Oops.

But then he made his fatal mistake: He saw my cards and told the dealer, "Don't pair the board." The next card to come was probably a going to be a queen or something else unhelpful to me, but the God of Irony clearly heard my opponent, and felt compelled to do what he does. River: 3. Full house to me, pot to me. The classic suck and resuck, thankyouverymuch.

Other than that, not a single blog-worthy hand or incident.

Guess the casino, #613

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

Answer: Gold Coast

Friday, August 27, 2010

Guess the casino, #612

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

Answer: Circus Circus

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Warning: Dangerously funny

Remember the Monty Python sketch about the joke that was so funny that everybody who heard it died of laughter? I was reminded of that when reading the press release, posted at Pokerati (here), about today's sale of Cereus (UltimateBlecch and Absolute Puker) to a company called Blanca Games, Inc.

If you're willing to risk death, let's look at a few of the howlers in the memo.

"Stuart Gordon, Chief Executive Officer of Blanca Games, said, 'The acquisition of Cereus is a significant opportunity for us. Cereus is a major platform of well-managed assets.'"

"Well-managed assets"! That's a good one, Stuart! It's so well-managed that it's bleeding money and needed to sell before it attained a value of exactly zero.

Mr. Gordon continues: "From our perspective, we have acquired a large, sophisticated online gaming operation with state-of-the art capabilities, ranging from compliance to business intelligence to online marketing to customer service."

Oh, he's piling them on now! "State-of-the-art capabilities," by which he presumably means an operation that doesn't encrypt the data stream, so that anybody on a wireless local network is vulnerable to having their hole cards read in real time, as well as having their account data read, and their funds subsequently transferred to a thief. Or maybe he meant software that awards to the pot to the company's most prominent sponsored pro, instead of to the player who actually had the best poker hand. "Compliance"? I guess that refers to "complying" with the absurdly low standards of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission--which basically only requires that they keep paying their licensing fees and pay a fine when somebody discovers wrongdoing (the "somebody" never being the KGC itself, which can't be bothered to actually, y'know, regulate anything or anybody, especially when it is tightly enmeshed in ownership of the entity supposedly being regulated). "Business intelligence"? This, one must guess, refers to the highly profitable business practice of owning a poker site and using one's privileged status to play against one's customers while looking at their down cards. "Customer service"? I reckon this is a sly reference to running the biggest and longest-lasting online poker cheating scheme in history, then lying about it to your customers for several years after being caught.

Gordon continues with yet another knee-slapper: "We intend to leverage the existing strengths of the Cereus Poker Network, particularly in the areas of security and customer service. Although we are impressed with many of the new security features on the Network today, security is and will remain our top priority." Stop, stop--you're killing me!

Whew! I somehow survived reading that thing for a second time. I fear, though, that I may have killed off a substantial fraction of my readers. Oh well. There's more where they came from (as UB and AP clearly feel about customers).

Duke of Fremont beaten and robbed

See story here:

Guess the casino, #611

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

Answer: Aria

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Air and Space Museum

Yesterday Cardgrrl drove me out to Chantilly, Virginia, to tour the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum. (I find the "Udvar-Hazy" name completely too obscure to remember, so in my mind it has become the "Uber-Nazi" center. I find this much more amusing than Cardgrrl does. However, it turned out to have at least a touch of accuracy, as some of the warplanes in the accompanying photos represent the first time that swastikas have appeared in this blog.)

It's a very cool and interesting place to visit--a fact which I can best support not by describing stuff, but by showing you a ton of photos that I took while there. See here.

Most surprising fact learned at the museum: The U.S. had flying aircraft carriers in the 1930s. Who knew?! Second most surprising fact: The SR-71 Blackbird housed here flew coast to coast on its last run (20 years ago) in 64 minutes. Third most surprising fact (tie): The urine collecting devices on Skylab were yellow, and they shot their urine out into space after collecting it. In space, no one can hear you pee.

Go see this museum next time you're in the D.C. area.

Online mystery

I'm back in Vegas after a delightful week with Cardgrrl.

While I was visiting in her apartment one evening, we tried playing a sit-and-go tournament on PokerStars. I had my laptop with me and tapped into the wireless network that she has set up so that she can use both her desktop and laptop from the same DSL line. But as soon as one of us was registered for a tournament (single-table or multi-table), the other couldn't register for it. Instead, the second one to register would get a message saying that security wouldn't allow it while the first person was in the tournament.

OK, I can understand that--a little extra protection against two people sitting next to each other and sharing information in order to collude.

However, I've heard stories before of many, many people who live in the same residence and share a common internet connection and who are yet able to play simultaneously in tournaments while using different computers--husbands and wives, roommates, brothers, etc.

How is it that some people can do it and others not? Cardgrrl thought it had to do with the router settings, specifically whether the local network assigns the computers the same IP address or different ones. Is that it? If not, what makes this work? Inquiring minds want to know.

Guess the casino, #610

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

Answer: Suncoast

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Things I've seen

In the morning, I'll be flying back to Vegas. It has been a lovely and delightful week with Cardgrrl, as always, but life must go on. All play and no work makes Grump a broke boy. Or something like that.

My first day here (Wednesday last week) I went for a walk while Cardgrrl was on an extended work-related conference call. Here's some of what I saw.

Some very pretty flowers (pansies? I'm not sure):

A big, old tree with wrinkled skin:

A sculpture that I kind of liked, for reasons I can't exactly articulate. It is identified as "Divine Nature" by Chris Tousimis, 2006:

This is part of the outside of a Jewish center. I just like the assemblage of interesting lines--two peaks, one of them under a gentle arch, some vertical lines, some horizontal lines, some criss-crossy lines:

A lovely, simple, red door at St. Albans parish:

Many years ago, my brother told me about having seen a bunch of ants paired up two by two, heads together, mostly not moving, but occasionally the dyads would break apart and they'd each find new partners. He was at the time somehow in contact with E.O. Wilson, the world's pre-eminent ant researcher, so asked him what that was about. Wilson apparently told him that it was a territorial battle between adjacent colonies, and the pairs were soldier ants that had their jaws locked on each other. I thought that sounded pretty cool, and for a long, long time I have hoped that someday I would get to see such a thing for myself. (You might think photos would be on the web. Maybe they are, but do a Google image search for "ant wars" and you get all sorts of things, but not that.)

I stopped to look at a bunch of ants on the sidewalk, wondering what bit of food had attracted them. I was surprised to find that there was none. They were also mostly stationary, not milling about. When I looked more closely, I noticed that they were in pairs, head to head. I had found it! My own little ant war! And now you can see it, too. Look at the big version, and it's easier to see what's going on.

(The macro setting on my camera seems to have some aberration in the lens toward the right side. Never noticed it before, and don't know what it's about. More exploration needed when I get home. Sorry for the partially blurred image.)

Here's a shot from the basement of Cardgrrl's apartment building. Kind of a Hitchcock "Vertigo" thing going on, though it feels a lot safer on the bottom looking up than the other way 'round:

Finally, while on a trip out to the burbs for some errands, we passed by this sign, which is one of the finest examples of oxymoronity I have come across:

(Yes, I know that it's referring to Bush 41, not 43, and not to his own personal intelligence but to the gathering of security information about other nations. Still funny.)

Guess the casino, #609

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

Answer: Sahara

Monday, August 23, 2010

Guess the casino, #608

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Answer: Orleans

Sunday, August 22, 2010

An experiment in variance

Worth reading: "Poker's Inconvenient Truth." (Hat tip: Pokerati.)

Guess the casino, #607

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

Answer: Imperial Palace (Where else are there cookies in the poker room?!)