Thursday, September 20, 2012

Good read

"Bill Rini," on Howard Lederer, Ray Bitar, and the Full Tilt Board of Directors:

At every major juncture someone has issued a press release or some other communication expressing their hurt and playing the martyr card. Ray is hurt people think he’s been removed. The board is hurt that Ivey said bad things about them. Howard is working so hard to get the money back. Ray has worked tirelessly.

Blah, blah, blah.

What were they expecting? A medal? A pat on the back?

Do they not realize that they so poorly managed the company that they basically took a business that was printing money and almost couldn’t fail and nose dived it into the ground? I mean, when you consider how badly you have to screw things up to ruin a company of Full Tilt’s size and with Full Tilt’s cash flow, it’s beyond mind boggling that they feel they should get credit for anything. This is the kind of screw up that ends up being a cautionary case study in an MBA course.

That’s the part that has so far been missing in all of this, humility. How about a sincere apology and accepting of their responsibility in all of this WITHOUT pissing and moaning about how hard they’ve been working or how hurt they are? They’re grown men and women. They need to quit acting like children. 

Read the whole thing here.

He had no chance

My friend Lightning foolishly shoved in his stack with a mere 9-9 against somebody with the Mighty Deuce-Four. In case you have any doubt how that worked out, see here.

Words of wisdom

"It doesn't seem really that the government is morally against gambling, it seems more like the government is morally against gambling that doesn't lead to direct revenues for the government."

That's Steven Levitt, co-author of the Freakonomics series of books, on the public radio program "Marketplace" yesterday. Listen to the whole thing here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Opposite of Amazon.com

Today's example of horrible customer service:


On my ride this morning I noticed an alarming clunking noise with every pedal rotation. I think it is coming from the crank and probably indicates a bad bearing. I went to Schwinn's web site to find the nearest dealer authorized to do warranty work. Wanna know what I discovered?

There is none.

Not in Vegas.

Not in Nevada.

Not anywhere in the freaking United States.

Oh, there's a warranty, all right. But if I want to use it, I have to ship the bike back to Schwinn.

In Wisconsin.

At my own expense.

Think I'm making this up? See it in the company's own words here:


Now, it's possible that they mean only that the defective part has to be shipped to them, not the whole bike. But it's ambiguous. And the difference does me little good, since I don't have any easy way of knowing whether my guess about the nature of the problem is correct, and I really don't feel like pitting my all-thumbs mechanical idiocy against something like packed bearings. Even if I somehow managed to dissect it correctly, what expertise do I have to know what a good versus a bad bearing looks like?

All of which means that I'll have to pay out of pocket for the repair--just as if there were no warranty to begin with.

Thanks for nothing, Schwinn.

Ego deflation

Out riding my bike this morning. (12.43 miles, with 629 feet down and back up in elevation, thank you very much.) Rode past an elementary school, where the kids were out on the playground for recess. A little girl, probably kindergarten or first grade age, waved at me exuberantly and cheerily called, "Hi, old man!"

Monday, September 17, 2012

Foucault knows

Andrew Brokos, a.k.a. Foucault, is a poker player/instructor/blogger. I was not aware until today that he was also a devotee of the Mighty Deuce-Four. Witness:






Sunday, September 16, 2012

Look whose functionally illiterate




Enter the editor-in-chief of Bluff magazine (pictured above) into the Slow Learners' Olympics. I see a gold medal in his future.

The August issue is the third one in nine months that contains headlines with rudimentary errors of English--the kind that should have been shaken out of your system before high school graduation. (See here for the others.)

Guys, bookmark this great web site: Common Errors in English Usage. It might save you from further embarrassing blunders like this one. For the record, here is the entry on the who's/whose distinction:
This is one of those cases where it is important to remember that possessive pronouns never take apostrophes, even though possessive nouns do (see it’s/its). “Who’s” always and forever means only “who is,” as in “Who’s that guy with the droopy mustache?” or “who has,” as in “Who’s been eating my porridge?” “Whose” is the possessive form of “who” and is used as follows: “Whose dirty socks are these on the breakfast table?”
Please make a note of it.

Hard Rock




Last night I played at the Hard Rock for the first time in over three years. I was last there on May 23, 2009, to be exact. I never did particularly well in their "Poker Lounge." My experience was that they attracted too high a ratio of grinders to tourists. It's now been a couple of years since they shut that down and moved the room to a new wing of the casino, and this was my first time to try it out.

Why did I go? Well, I don't like there being poker rooms that I haven't seen--even ones that are merely remodeled or relocated within a casino. Also, I learned recently that an old friend from my Hilton poker room days, James Klosty, is now the Hard Rock poker room manager, and I hoped to see him. (He wasn't there, unfortunately.)

Finally, I am in the process of gradually liquidating my poker chip collection. The Hard Rock has probably issued more different commemorative chips than any other place in town. If not the absolute most, they are certainly in contention with the Tropicana, Rio, and Palms for top honors. Of course, I could just take the ones I don't want anymore to the cage and cash them in--but what fun is that? I wanted to play with them. I removed 26 ($130 worth) from my collection, leaving just six that I especially liked. (Two or three years ago I decided I had a completely ridiculous number of Hard Rock chips and that it was a Sisyphean task to try to acquire a complete collection, so the 30 that were left before last night's purge were already a culled set of favorites from a previous cashing-in event.)

As you might guess from the above photo, I pocketed another four to bring home. Which is not wholly within the spirit of the chip-reduction project. But it's still a net reduction of 22, so moving in the right direction. Besides, who could resist a poker chip featuring the Mona Lisa wearing Groucho Marx nose and glasses? Or Abe Lincoln in sunglasses? I love the elegant design of the Friday the Thirteenth chip. And surely everybody likes either Bob Seger, or the tailfins of the 1959 Cadillac, or both, right?

The Hard Rock parking garage is as maddening to negotiate as it ever was. But that actually worked out in my favor. I lost my first buy-in at around 11:20 p.m., and felt too tired to keep playing, so I tried to leave. But I couldn't. My car was on the 7th level, and there was a traffic jam all the way down to the exit. I had badly timed my bust-out to coincide with the end of the Fiona Apple concert. It was hopeless. If I got in my car, I would just sit in it, idling, inching forward, for probably an hour. I decided I'd be better off putting in another hour of poker. So I went back to the poker room, got in a different game, and in 90 minutes not only won back my lost buy-in, but an additional $195 on top of it.

The play was much softer than I remember it being in the Poker Lounge. The room is not as comfortable now, though. It's just a cordoned-off area of the casino floor, so there's a ton of noise and cigarette smoke, both of which annoy me no end. This means that I'm now going to be torn between remembering that the games seem easy to beat (if my one-night sample means anything, which it may not) and remembering the headache that the atmosphere gave me.

Will I go back again? I'm not sure yet.