Friday, April 18, 2008

More evidence that online poker is rigged

I've previously shown you definitive, irrefutable evidence that Full Tilt Poker is totally rigged--see this post. Well, here is more proof, as if any more were needed. It is worth noting that all the money got in before the flop, and I had two of the three opponents covered.

Oh, maybe I forgot to mention that once in a great while, the sites are rigged in my favor, and I don't see how anybody can reasonably object to that. You can view the full animation of the hand at the very cool "Poker X Factor" site here.

When the cards were revealed before the flop played out, my heart sank, because I knew that beating the J-J would be difficult with two of the other aces and one of the other kings in view. Then when I saw the queen on the flop, I thought it was basically over, and I'd end up with the third-best hand. It took a couple of seconds for the nut flush to register in my aged brain.

That hand was worth almost 16,000 chips when the blinds were still 80 and 160--not bad, eh? It pushed me into one of the top spots for a while, as well as collecting me two simultaneous bounties (this was a knockout 90-player SNG). Alas, variance caught up to me and I finished just out of the money in 14th place. But that one hand had sufficient entertainment value to be worth the staggering $3 entry fee.

By the way, this was my first shot at this format of tournament. I hadn't ever tried a sit-and-go of more than one table, but this post from Ted at Red Bull and Poker convinced me that these $3, 90-player tourneys might be a worthwhile investment of time. Just on the basis of my first try at it, I'd say he's right about the horrendous quality of play, suggesting a reasonably positive EV. He was also right about how fast they fill up, which surprised me. Not wanting to sit in limbo for a long time was a primary reason I didn't try the larger SNGs previously, but even though I was one of the first three or four to register, the whole thing was ready to go in maybe four minutes. I will definitely be trying this tournament format again.

Not that there's anything wrong with that...

This is a sensitive subject, one that I've toyed with writing about for months. On Sunday I decided to post about it, but still I put it off, because I'm not quite sure what it is I have to say about it.

But here's the question: Are there any gay professional poker players?

Well, the first problem is defining "professional poker player." There are probably many thousands of us low-level grinders squeaking by. Never mind that group. I'm really thinking about the upper crust of the poker world. Suppose we limit the field to, roughly, the group that did qualify or would have qualified for the Professional Poker Tour a couple of years ago. That field was somewhere between 150 and 200 players. That might be the most restrictive, limiting definition of poker pro that one could reasonably come up with. (They included few if any online tournament specialists, and not many cash-game specialists, so it is indeed a narrow selection.)

Statistically, it would be quite remarkable if there were not at least one gay person in a group of that size, wouldn't it? Yet I am not aware of a single name-brand player who has identified himself or herself as gay or lesbian.

Nearly every professional sport has experienced one or more players coming out of the closet. How can poker be different?

What brought this from an occasional idle passing thought to the point of deciding to post about it was Sunday's broadcast of the first installment of the NBC heads-up championship. In particular, I hadn't previously seen Tom "Durrrr" Dwan on television. During his first match with Phil Hellmuth, I was immediately struck by his speech patterns and non-verbal mannerisms. They weren't quite Jack-from-"Will-and-Grace"/Truman Capote/Harvey Fierstein flagrant--but they weren't exactly subtle, either. They were quite typical of what I've observed in many, many uncloseted gay men.

Since then, I've looked up several on-line video clips of other interviews with him, and seen the same things repeated. I've also searched his name with "gay" and found that at least several other people in various public forums have concluded or assumed that Dwan is gay, though never with any evidence specified.

I hasten to add that I have exactly zero information on Tom Dwan's personal life. I don't know if he's gay or straight or somewhere in between, and as far as I know he hasn't publicly addressed the matter. Furthermore, I honestly don't care, as far as the guy himself is concerned. As a good libertarian, I'm about as purely live-and-let-live as one can get. I'm interested only because of the rather striking (when you stop to think about it) absence of any gay high-visibility poker players, and the possibility that he might be the first to break ranks, so to speak.

Even if it's not Dwan, sooner or later, inevitably, somebody that we all recognize from televised and/or online poker events (even if it's somebody who is not currently well known) will out himself. Every time this little curiosity has occurred to me, I've wondered how this incredibly macho, sexist, swaggering, "I am the MAN" poker world will react to the news. My guess is that there will be a lot of public quoting of the famous Seinfeld line (a la the title of this post), accompanied by a lot of quiet, private, nasty bashing. You can imagine the kind of things that will be written by the scads of anonymous contributors to the poker forums--those who can't make a comment about a female professional player that doesn't involve judging her attractiveness or lack thereof. I don't envy whoever it is who takes on (voluntarily or otherwise) the role of the first openly gay poker pro. I think it will be a difficult mantle to wear.

And just in case the very writing of this post makes readers wonder--no, I'm not. Not that there's anything wrong with that....

Poker gems, #107

Roy West, in Card Player magazine column, April 9, 2008 (vol. 21, #7), p. 106:

I'll remind you of what my boyhood idol, all-American basketball player "Easy" Ed McCauley, said about practicing: "When you are not practicing, someone, somewhere is practicing. And when you meet, he will beat you." Many of your opponents, right this instant, are somewhere studying poker. Many read every word in Card Player and every poker book they can lay their hands on. Many have taken my private lessons. You had better get ready to meet them.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

47 and still kicking

April 17. April 17. That date kind of rings a bell, like it should mean something to me. But I just can't remember for sure. The memory is getting kind of fuzzy these days....

Stories, stories, stories

I got six, count 'em, six stories out of a long (for me), eight-hour session at Planet Hollywood yesterday. None of them is particularly profound, and none of them prompts me to write a longer diatribe about some subject, so I didn't think any of them merited a separate post. Instead, I'll just collect them here. They have nothing in common, except for having occurred on the same day in the same place.

1. Excellent situational awareness

This occurred on just the second or third hand after I sat down in seat #1. I was not involved in the hand. The flop was A-Q-x, and the turn and river were both small cards, no flush, no obvious straight possibilities. On both the flop and turn, seat 8 checked, seat 2 bet, and seat 8 called. On the river, the same happened again, except that this time seat 2 held an ace up to full view of everybody for about ten seconds as he pushed $35 forward. Seat 8 never looked up, just asked how much the bet was, then said, "I call." He then turned over his queen (second pair), looked up (immediately after seat 2 had put his ace back face-down on the felt), and asked, "Do you have an ace?" The whole table burst out laughing. Seat 8 had no idea what was so funny. Somebody said, "Dude, he was showing you his ace while he bet." At first, seat 8 didn't believe this, but when everybody at the table, including the dealer, confirmed it, he could do nothing but join in the laughter at his own expense for having been too absorbed in his thoughts to lift his eyes a few degrees above the horizon and see the plain evidence that he was beat before he made the final call. I've never seen anything like that before.

2. Not my turn

At one point I was in late position. Seat 9 (PH runs 9-handed games, so seat 9 is on the dealer's immediate right) looked at his hole cards and left the table. This is rude and against the rules, because it suggests that one is folding out of turn, which gives improper information to the players taking their turns. Anyway, the action got to seat 9, and he wasn't there. But his cards were still where he had put them down. He had not pushed them forward or towards the muck, so it was not obvious to me that his hand was dead. For all I knew, he might be a few feet behind me about to return, or maybe he had whispered to the dealer that he'd be right back. The dealer was in the middle of discussing something unrelated with the floorman (about breaks, and who was to push whom, and who would be going home early, blah, blah, blah).

The guy in seat 5 started pressing me to take my turn. But it seemed to me that I couldn't just assume that seat 9's hand was dead; as I said, he might have asked the dealer to hold things up for a minute. Far stranger things than that have happened. Seat 5 apparently thought I was a complete idiot and couldn't figure out what was going on. Three times--each with increasing emphasis--he insisted that I go. I just ignored him and waited for the dealer to take action. Finally she finished what had been distracting her, saw 9's cards, looked around, didn't see him, and killed his hand. I then folded in turn. Seat 5 looked at me disgustedly and shook his head. After all, I had cost him something like a precious 15 seconds of his life.

I still maintain that I acted properly. I just don't have the right or authority to kill another player's hand or to assume that it's dead before the dealer takes action. Yes, I have a pretty good idea what's most likely to happen, but I don't want to make incorrect assumptions, then have a big mess result because of some small fact that I might have overlooked.

3. Today's brilliant strategic advice

There was a funny and attractive young woman in seat 6 nearly the entire time I was there. But she wasn't a very good player. In one memorable hand, she had pocket jacks, but limped in along with about five other players. The flop was something like 6-7-8. She checked it, as did everybody else. The turn was a blank. She made a small bet and got called in two places. The river brought a 10. One of her opponents bet big, the other called. She realized that one or both of them must have made a straight, and folded her jacks face up. Indeed, both opponents did have the same straight and split the pot.

She was lamenting her rotten luck. Somebody asked her, "Why didn't you raise before the flop?" She said, "I didn't want to scare people away." She was then asked, "Why didn't you bet on the flop?" She said, again, more emphatically, "I didn't want to scare people away!"

Ingenius strategy, eh?

For the rest of the session, anytime somebody won the pot with a bet on the flop, the guy in seat 2 and I would quietly make a sarcastic comment about how the winner had misplayed the hand by scaring off all of his opponents. "He doesn't understand that you have to let them catch up and beat you."

4. Underprotecting and overprotecting

Early in the session, before the cool guy joined us in seat 2, that chair was occupied by a grumpy guy I've played with a few times before around town. An odd series of three hands resulted in him leaving the game.

He won a large pot on the first hand. He was then in the big blind, and still busy stacking up the chips as the second hand was dealt. He hadn't even picked up his cards when the under-the-gun player in seat 3 folded. But in the process of flicking his cards back to the dealer, they accidentally skidded across the top of seat 2's down cards, which were still quite far out in front of him, unprotected. The dealer, therefore, correctly scooped up both hands and put them in the muck. (If your hand is unprotected, and another player's discards run into yours, your hand is deemed dead. The underlying reason for this is that in such a situation it becomes impossible to know that you have been left with the same two cards you were originally dealt.) Seat 2 didn't understand what had happened. When the hand was over, he politely asked the dealer to explain it, and received an equally polite response. It seemed that all was well, no feelings hurt.

On the very next hand, however, the opposite problem arose. Seat 2, now being hyperaware of the need to protect his cards, went to the other extreme and completely covered them with his large hands. The player in seat 8 bet on the flop, seat 9 folded, and the dealer thought the hand was over, because he couldn't see seat 2's cards. He had already turned the three flop cards face down when seat 2 spoke up and stopped him. Everything was still playable: the dealer had not intermixed the stub of the deck (that's the cards still in his hand) with the muck, and merely had to turn the flop back face-up to get everything the way it had been. But in the process, he gently scolded seat 2 for hiding his cards, reminding him that the cards have to remain visible to the table at all times. However, no damage had been done, and seat 2 could still respond to the current bet.

Instead, seat 2 mucked his hand angrily, while claiming that he wanted to play it because it was a strong hand, but he said he wouldn't stay another minute at a table where the dealer was treating him so badly. He picked up his chips and stormed off.

The dealer had done everything right. Both I and another player, who was an off-duty dealer, reassured him of that.

Apparently this guy just couldn't grasp that there is a happy medium between leaving your cards unprotected way out in front of you, where they might become fouled by somebody else's discards or accidentally picked up by the dealer, and keeping them completely hidden from view.

Poor dealers: You do everything right, the player screws up, and you get blamed for it. I guess you have to develop a thick skin for that job.

5. Celebrity non-sighting

I had chosen PH rather arbitrarily for the session, not having been aware until after I got there that it was the venue for last night's star-studded premiere of the new movie "88." Apparently Al Pacino was there for the premiere (since he's the star of the film). But he didn't bother stopping in to say hello at the poker room. Bastard.

6. The Brotherhood

The big convention in town this week is the National Association of Broadcasters. A couple of players at the table were here for it. Down at my end of the table, a conventioneer in seat 4 asked seat 2 (not the jerk who stomped off mad, but the cool guy who replaced him) whether he, too, was here for the conference. Seat 2 asked "What conference?" Seat 4 said, "The NAB." Seat 2 asked, "What's the NAB?" Seat 4 got an impish look on his face and was obviously trying to think of a clever fake answer with which he could pull seat 2's leg, for not knowing about the big meeting. But he finally couldn't think of one, and had to give the straight answer. I said the first thing that popped into my head: "It's the National Aryan Brotherhood."

This not only brought laughs (fortunately; some people obviously would react differently), but provided fodder for a series of running jokes through the session. When one of the three of us would win a pot, one of the others would say in mock seriousness, "A win for the Brotherhood." We decided that we didn't like spade or club flushes: too many black cards. We declared that we liked aces best, because they had the most white on them. Etc. It was great subversive fun.

There aren't many places left in this country where one can be so openly politically incorrect and not run a serious risk of being fired or arrested or assaulted or sued. Thank God the poker table seems to be one of the last remaining refuges at which one can let humor take its natural course, without excessive self-censorship.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Another intolerably bad poker movie

I just watched "The Big Blind."* It is as bad as the worst of any of the poker movies I've previously reviewed.

There's a caveat to that, however--it has a lot more poker than most. It's not very good or interesting poker, but at least the movie does largely revolve around the game. It might better be called "Scenes from a Poker Room," because there isn't any central plot. Instead, there are something like 12-15 characters, forming about five distinct story lines. The only thing they all have in common is the real-life Lake Elsinore Casino.

The production values are about half a step above home movies.

There are a few recognizable poker faces. Here are Matt Corboy, Jennifer Harman, and, in a non-speaking, uncredited role, Daniel Negreanu (looking remarkably like Worm, the Edward Norton character in "Rounders"):

Corboy is best known in poker circles as one of the commentators for the one-season, ill-fated Professional Poker Tour. Here's another shot of him, with a look that the producers of the PPT, oddly, did not ask him to recreate for their shows:

Then there's the inimitable Scotty Nguyen, who plays a character named "Scotty," a poker player. Imagine that. He stars in what I thought was the best scene in the film (though it had nothing to do with poker). He is in a store, gets treated kindly by one stranger, badly by another, and deals with them both accordingly--but never loses his cool, speaking only a few carefully chosen words.

The poker is reasonably true to life, as movies go. The most glaring bit of phoniness about it, as you can see from the next screen shot, is that in this casino they play high-stakes cash games with plain, solid-colored chips--the kind you can purchase at K-Mart. That would certainly make buying into the game a lot cheaper: pick up several dozen generic chips at the discount store for a song, then take them to the casino, where they will be honored as worth hundreds apiece. I can't figure out why they had permission to shoot lots of scenes in the casino, but not use real chips. It's a glaring error, like shooting a war movie with water pistols as props.

But the whole thing is badly written, badly acted, and badly shot, so there's really no reason to expect anything better from the props, I suppose. If you're big-time into poker, you probably need to see this stinker just so that you can say you did. But don't expect much from it.

This customer review from (you can buy the DVD used from a few of their affiliated vendors) has it about right, though I think he's too hard on poor Scotty Nguyen:

This is a low budget widescreen movie (in LPCM audio=48 khz,16 bit, 2
chnnl--though, it sounded perfectly fine), sprinkled with a few poker stars. I
only rented this, so it was easier for me to watch the whole thing without
feeling ripped off. Jennifer Harman (top poker player), does an okay job playing
the very minor role of a woman (Linda-I think), who's temporarily playing poker
along with her boyfriend Lane (played by Matt Corboy-best known as one of the
PPT tv announcers, or as Officer Ray Carlson, in the tv series, "The Shield"),
until they win enough to get out of town. Corboy was good enough in the movie as
well (he had a goofy, yet, still charming persona), and I liked the way he would
often sing Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler" (You got to know when to hold 'em...) to
annoy people or please himself. After doing well, Lane decides to stay and keep
playing, while Harman's character decides to leave town (that's the last we see
of her in the movie).

However, Scotty Nguyen is so bad, it is actually quite funny. Half of the
time I couldn't understand what he was saying. He plays a wise poker player
named Scotty. He says baby, quite often, so I guess he's just playing himself.
But he's so bad, he needs to work on even playing himself, before his next small
screen appearance. At least at the end, they showed his WSOP win (with audio
only at the very end of it). Poker star, Daniel Negreanu, is just in a brief
scene near the beginning, sitting beside Jennifer at the poker table. He says
nothing and was obviously just doing his real life friend, Harman, a favor.

The movie also features several other characters that are struggling with
poker and some who are also ultimately searching for love. It has an annoying
narrator, who comments throughout the movie, but after awhile his drab comments
blended in with the awful storylines, so I was less repulsed. There is enough
poker in the movie, but it mostly centres on bad play and angry reactions,
rather than any quality poker.

So, yes, the movie is awful, but if you're a fan of poker great, Scotty
Nguyen, and want to see him in a train wreck of a movie, then look to rent it.
Whatever you do, don't buy it, or you just might decide to stop watching poker
movies, forever! You've been warned, baby!

*The date on this movie is somewhat mysterious to me. The usually reliable IMDB lists it as 1999 (see here), while the DVD is apparently labeled as 2003, at least according to the information on the torrents directory from which I downloaded it. (It's not available for purchase, nor from Netflix, so one's choices for accessing it are limited.) Jennifer Harman is credited as "Jennifer Harman Traniello," implying that she was married when it was produced. According to a book I have, she was married in late 2000. My best guess is that it was shot in 1999, but not released until 2003.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Poker gems, #106

Roy Cooke, in Card Player magazine column, April 9, 2008 (vol. 21, #7), p. 66:

One of the ugliest spots in poker is drawing dead and getting there.

More about the Benjamins

I first reported the alarming trend of mysterious ink stamps on the backs of $100 bills here last month. Nobody supplied me with a convincing explanation of where they are coming from. I have continued to notice them. Here's the latest batch from my wallet.

I tell ya, folks, this is something big and sinister. I can feel it. I think maybe they're coming from some Satanic cult. Or terrorists. Or Satanic cult terrorists. Yeah, that's the ticket--Satanic cult terrorists.

Not much cussing

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou

Gadzooks64 had this in her blog, and it made me want to check my own level. Pretty damn low, for a blog that is primarily dedicated to bitching (oops--may have just upticked there), and many of them are just me quoting other people.

New challenge

I just tried doing something new and demented. I played a $5 no-limit hold'em sit-and-go at the same time as a $5 HORSE limit sit-and-go, both on Full Tilt Poker. It was a little crazy jumping back and forth. I kept looking for the raise amounts in the limit games, and accidentally putting in min-raises in no-limit. I also made mistakes that I probably wouldn't otherwise make, such as thinking I had the nut flush in Omaha with just the ace and a four-flush on the board. D'oh!

I won the NLHE tournament. The HORSE, not so much--was leading, though, until I donked off most of my chips chasing draws in Stud, about which I know nothing.

It was a fun challenge, just to see if I could pull it off. But it made my brain hurt.

Recommended viewing

Go to the NBC Sports poker page here. Click on the "Heads-Up" section. Even if you don't want to watch the whole 64-player match, or even the whole two hours of the first show (which aired earlier today), at least treat yourself to the three-hand match in which Phil Hellmuth busts out at the hands of Tom "Durrrrrr" Dwan. It's "1st Round--Clubs, segment 2." It's only six minutes long.

For a second, it looks like Phil might handle the bad beat in a sportsmanlike manner, but then his true self shines through, and he starts haranguing and criticizing and making fun of his opponent for bad play.

The above is an actual photograph of Phil, taken just moments after this match ended.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Didja notice...

...anything different about that last post? If not, here's the secret: For the first time, I managed to figure out how to embed HTML links in the text, rather than include an entire URL.

I realize that this is something already known by every other blogger in the universe (yes, including those on Alpha Centauri), but it had escaped me until now. Even though Blogger provides a one-click wizard button for doing it, so that one doesn't have to mess with manually inserting tags, I'm so technologically backwards that for a long time I couldn't deduce how to make it work. I tried several things, then gave up. Then, because Blogger's help files are not particularly good, it took me 30 minutes of searching to find the simple instructions on using it. Oh--you highlight the text before clicking on the button! Why didn't anybody tell me this? And what's wrong with my brain that I couldn't figure it out on my own?

So this should address the objections that a couple of commenters have had in the past about long URLs uglifying my posts.

Slowly, slowly, step by step, I'll catch on to how things work. Unless somebody volunteers to put in the work of site design at no charge (and please don't take this as a fishing expedition to get such a volunteer--it's not; I kind of like it being a one-man operation), you'll just have to put up with things improving very gradually.

Poker massages

These are some scattered thoughts about getting a massage while playing poker.

1. In Las Vegas, they are available at Caesars Palace, Rio, Venetian, Palms, MGM Grand for sure. I assume they probably are also available at Mirage, Bellagio, and Wynn, though I don't play at those places often enough to have noticed. If they are available anywhere else in town, it's news to me.

2. The standard rate seems to be $2/minute, though I was surprised that the one time I indulged in one at the Rio I was charged $2.50/minute. At the MGM, you can't pay in chips--cash only. That's the only place I've seen that policy. I assume it was implemented because some players objected to anything more than trivial amounts of money being taken out of play.

3. Beware of a player contesting the pot while he's getting a massage. Most would rather sit back and enjoy the experience and sort of tune out of the game for a while, and will tend to play only premium hands, and get out of it if they don't improve. I have never yet seen a player caught bluffing while receiving a massage. It seems that there's some sort of fundamental incompatibility between trying to pull off a bluff while relaxing at the hands of a masseuse.

4. I think I've had a total of six table massages--all of them 10 minutes each--in nearly two years of playing here, so I can hardly claim a wealth of experience. But it seems to me that I don't play as well after it's over. I think I get feeling so relaxed that I lose both focus on and interest in the game. I kind of go through the motions, but tend to stay pretty much stagnant in chip count thereafter. So while I'd like to think that the massage is a nice way to break up a long session and get reinvigorated to keep playing, so far my experience is that it effectively ends any serious money-making. As they say, your mileage may vary. I'm sure there are others who get the opposite reaction, feel charged up by it, and can get back into the game even more aggressively than before. That's what I thought might happen the first few times I tried it, but it never works.

5. It's a sample of only one, but the young woman at the Rio was the roughest massage therapist I've ever encountered, in or out of a poker room. My shoulders hurt for two days after she was finished with me. Not a pleasant experience. It was also the only place at which the masseuses do not have cushions for their clients to use, which meant that I had to rest my chin on either my hands or the hard back of the chair--mighty uncomfortable.

6. Sometimes it feels so good that I want to propose marriage on the spot. Luckily, I have so far restrained myself. (Because, obviously, none of the young women would be able to resist such a tempting offer, and then I would be stuck.)

7. I usually only go for a massage when my infraspinatus is hurting me (see this post). I use this not only to help direct the therapist's attention to where it is needed, but as sort of a test for whether they are really licensed massage therapists, as all claim to be. If they don't know where the infraspinatus is without me telling them, they probably didn't go to school. So far, all have passed with flying colors.

8. You know that there has to be something to gripe about on this subject, right? Well, here it is. Several times, in the larger rooms, when more than one massage therapist is present, I have overheard men planning to get a massage, and discussing with their pals which one to choose. Invariably, the selection is made not in a rational manner (e.g., by having watched their styles as they work on other players, and picking what looks like it more or less matches what you know you like), but by physical attractiveness. It seems uber-important to these guys to be sure to get their massage from the "hottest" woman on duty.

This is so messed up it's hard to know where to start. How does the therapist's attractiveness tell you anything about her skill or technique, or even her personality, for that matter? Why do her looks matter, when she's going to be standing behind you, out of sight? Do you harbor some fantasy that she's going to want to date you as soon as she has touched your back? Do you think your friends watching will think less of you if you get a table massage from a rather plain therapist? Hear this, you meatheads: HER LOOKS CAN'T POSSIBLY MATTER!

One time at Caesars Palace there were two therapists available, one of whom was substantially more conventionally attractive than the other, and after watching for a couple of hours, the more attractive one was frequently busy, but the other did not get a single client, as far as I noticed. I had been watching to try to see which one looked more my "style" (I like gentle--I'm just a big ol' softie, you know), but I couldn't get any information on the second young woman, because she never got hired.* It was a horrendous imbalance, and the reasons for it must have been painfully obvious to both women. So when I had seen enough, I waited until the underemployed one wandered by, and asked her to work on me. It was a complete crap-shoot, as far as I was concerned, which one would be more to my liking, and I found it an easy call to let the decision be made by doing my small part to even the score between the two of them. I'm willing to say that the players who made their choice that night based on comparing these young women's looks were loathsome, shallow, warped pigs. I'm no hero for making the opposite choice, but I think that a touch of human sympathy is a far better motivation for a choice than the misguided ego-stroking that appeared to have behind the selection made by everybody else that night.

I think that a male trying to make his living doing poker table massages would go broke fast. But how does that make any sense? I'm ashamed of the degree and prevalence of sexism and chauvinism in the poker-playing population. Most of them seem to be about as shallow and homophobic as George Costanza (below, in two parts)--and how unflattering an assessment is that?

Oh, and by the way, that massage was the physically nicest, most perfect of the six I've had. I'd pick her again in a heartbeat.

*Yes, I know that I can tell them what I want. But as with picking a barber, it's just a lot nicer and easier to luck into one that automatically "gets it" than one that you have to direct in minute detail.

Addendum, May 18, 2008

I was at Mandalay Bay's poker room last night, and saw two massage therapists working the room. I had never noticed them there previously. However, it's not one of the places at which I spend the most time, so they could have been there for a while without me knowing it. Or it could that they're only there on weekends, so I just haven't been there at the right times to see them. Anyway, you can add Mandalay Bay to the list of places where table massages are available.

Addendum, October 31, 2008

Since writing the above, I've also seen massage therapists in the poker rooms at Red Rock and Excalibur.

Addendum, February 3, 2009

I can now also add Aliante Station and Boulder Station (yes, Boulder Station!) to the list of poker rooms in which massages are at least sometimes offered.

Addendum, February 7, 2009

Last night saw one wandering around the poker room at Imperial Palace offering massages, so the list grows again.

Addendum, February 14, 2009

Yet another addition: I saw massages being offered at the Harrah's poker room last night.

Addendum, March 1, 2009

Treasure Island has them, too.

Addendum, April 30, 2009

Now Bally's, too.

Addendum, July 14, 2009


Addendum, August 30, 2009

Red Rock.

Addendum, September 24, 2009

Bill's Gamblin' Hall and Saloon.

Poker gems, #105

Chris Ferguson, as quoted in Bill Chen and Jerrod Ankenman, The Mathematics of Poker, p. 1:

If you think the math isn't important, you don't know the right math.

Poker gems, #104

Phil Laak, in Bluff magazine column, April, 2008, p. 92:

Math, like gravity, is just one of those things you will have to eventually accept, like it or not.