Saturday, December 12, 2009

Blogger tournament

Home from the big blogger tournament at Caesars Palace. I finished in 17th place out of 86 players; top nine were to be paid. Not praiseworthy, but not completely shameful, either. I played well enough not to be kicking myself for anything, which is better than I usually feel after busting out of a tournament. And I lasted a couple of hours longer than either of my partners on the "Two Chicks and a Grump" team; I'm glad for that, because I worried that I'd make a fool of myself and thus make them sorry they recruited me. The tourney is still running as I write (down to last six, according to the latest Twitter feed), so final team standings are not yet determined, but I hear our team will end up in something like 5th place, which, again, doesn't earn any money, but also isn't cause to slit one's wrists in shame.

I had as much fun as I've ever had in a poker tournament. Met a bunch of new and interesting people, some of whose writing I had already been reading, and some of whom I think I should start paying more attention to. It was also surprising and humbling to learn that some of the luminaries of the poker writing world already knew who I was and read these silly things I write, when I had no idea that I was on their radar screens. But that fact is also kind of intimidating; it makes me feel like I should have something more worthwhile to say, and find a better way to say it, than has been my wont. (Of course, just as many people I met had no idea who I was, and kind of did the polite fake-knowing smile-and-nod thing when I mentioned the blog's name. That's more like what I expect, being a little fish in a big pond.)

I was grateful that so many people were kind and welcoming to me. As I've expressed countless times here, I'm just painfully shy and feel maximally awkward when surrounded by strangers. (How unfortunate for me that I have picked a job in which that's pretty much my lot every day, eh?) But this group made me about as relaxed and comfortable as it's possible for me to feel when I'm in such a situation. Get this--I even gritted my teeth and actively introduced myself to some people, instead of just waiting to figure out who they were by catching bits of conversation (my usual pathetically passive strategy). And nobody made me feel like a dweeb for doing so, or for the fact that I would subsequently run out of small talk about three sentences later.

Despite not making the money, I didn't leave empty-handed. The WPBT has a tradition of entrants bringing a bounty to present to the player who knocks him or her out--usually something emblematic of the one presenting it. I wish I had known of this in advance; I would have found some sort of Grump tchotchke (brag: I spelled that right on the first guess!) to give to Alcanthang, who sent me to the rail. I picked up the DVD shown above when I put a bad beat on Shane Nickerson, a very nice guy who, I have to confess, I had not heard of before we spent some time playing HORSE last night. Heck, I hadn't even heard of this show before, which tells you how out of touch I am with pop culture. But I understand he's the executive producer (see IMDB entry here), and he's on the commentary track of the DVD. Cool!

The whole weekend experience was overwhelming positive, and I'm already looking forward to taking my small part in it again next year--assuming I'm still around, still playing poker, and still blogging about it. None of those things is certain (what in life is?), but we'll see.

One of the people at my starting table today was Linda from She appears to be one of the few that has managed to write about the affair so far (though I assume copious other reports will be hitting the web in the next few days). See her report here. Hey, Linda--where can we see all those photos you were taking all day?

Guess the casino, #354

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

Answer: Green Valley Ranch


Beat: Playing no-limit at the MGM Grand while waiting for poker bloggers' HORSE game to start, got stacked when kings cracked on queen-high flop by doofus cowboy who thought top pair/bad kicker was foshizzle, got it all in, and turned a third queen.

Brag: I quickly made back $100 of the $200 lost before getting called to start the $3/$6 HORSE game against a bunch of other poker bloggers for about three hours, from which I emerged $8 ahead. And I only misread my hand once (Omaha, thought I had nothing, actually had a straight and took half of a large pot).

Variance: Despite being at the top of the waiting list, I never got a seat at what will become infamously known as Table 16, where the most degenerate of the bloggers were playing $1/2 NLHE, with, at one point, something like $5000 on the table where the maximum buy-in is $200. This gets listed under variance because I have no idea if I would have made a year's worth of poker income in a couple of hours, or lost the farm.

NB: The "BBV" designation is entirely original with me, to the best of my knowledge. Any resemblance to any other poker forum where the term "BBV" might happen to be used is purely coincidental and unintentional.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Another reader deuce-four story

A reader just sent me the PokerStars hand history of his first attempt to play the mighty deuce-four. It appears that we have another convert to the religion. Welcome to the fold!

My next career move?

For those of you who have been outraged at the gross inequality and sexism contained in Nevada's sex laws, or who have just not been able to find an adequate male companion for freebies, you'll be glad to know that Nevada has now legalized male prostitution.

For details see here. For the very, very, odd background on the change (including the lobbyist for the brothel industry making a biblical argument against it--yes, really!), see here and here.

And you thought it couldn't get any stranger around here!

Hat tip: Pokerati's Twitter feed.

"You ruined it for me!"

I played at South Point yesterday. It's not one of my favorite haunts. First, it's too inconvenient to get to. Second, my track record there has been only mediocre. As a result, I've only played there nine times now, the last time being in January of this year. But I was in search of cowboy hats (meaning those attending the annual big rodeo in town--on average pretty bad players willing to lose a lot of money), and all reports from the field were indicating that South Point was the motherlode of cowboys. It turned out that there was only one at my table when I started (I was there at non-prime time), and none when the two key hands of the day played out. In fact, by that time there was not a single player at the table that I would classify as bad, and I was thinking that I should probably go find greener pastures elsewhere. Good thing I didn't act on that thought right away.

I was down to about $150 of my original $300 buy-in when the first big hand of the day occurred. I was on the button and called a raise from one of the two loosest openers at the table. I had 3-6 offsuit. Again I realize that my reporting on such hands here must make it seem like I do this all the time, and again I have to stress that I don't. I take a flier once in a while when I have position and a table image that will preclude anybody guessing that I'm playing such junk. The UTG player came along after having limped. The flop was an unbelievably lovely 4-5-7 rainbow, giving me a straight and the second nuts, in a situation where it was virtually impossible that either opponent had the one hand (6-8) that's beating me. UTG bet $25. Original raiser called. I bumped it to $75. UTG moved all in, and had me covered. Raiser folded. I called. (Duh!) I showed right away, and hoped the board wouldn't pair, since I had to assume he had two pair or a set. No pair came, and he mucked in considerable disgust without ever showing.

That brought me back up to about my starting stack, which is what set up the big win a while later--a hand that was interesting enough to relate to you in detail.

I'm in the small blind with Ks-Kh. UTG limps. The guy who doubled me up in the previously described hand is down to his last $8 and puts it all in. Guy on my right calls from the button. I make it $25. The big blind thinks for a while, then calls. To my great surprise, UTG also calls. To my even greater surprise, the button calls, too.

Sometimes a hand starts out looking simple enough, then quickly careens out of control. This was just such an occasion. I had pocket kings. Desperate, short-stacked guy goes all in and gets a loose caller. I raise to isolate, fully expecting to be heads up as the odds-on favorite, folding everybody else out with some dead money in the pot. A no-brainer hand, with no more decisions to make after the definitive reraise scares everybody away. But then mere seconds later, I'm in a horrible quagmire: There's about $105 in the pot after the rake, and I have to act first against three opponents (plus the all-in guy, who isn't really a factor here), each of whom was willing to call a $25 pre-flop reraise, all of whom are at least as deep-stacked as I am, and none of whom are idiots or donkeys. How in the hell did this happen?

And, to make matters worse, I have two kings--the ace magnets. You just know what's coming on the flop, don't you? Yep. Right in the window, the ace of spades. Norman Chad may call it the prettiest card in the deck, but I assure you I find no beauty in it in this situation. The only redeeming value is that it is followed by the 10 of spades and the 3 of spades, giving me the nut flush draw.

I lead out for $50. The big blind tanks, and when he emerges, he announces himself all-in. He is a smart, experienced player--simultaneously solid and tricky--that I have seen around town several times before. He has me covered. Just as I'm pondering what in the world I should do with this mess of a situation, it gets stickier still, as the UTG guy also shoves. I don't recognize him, but his play and conversation have made it clear that he, too, is no dummy. Our stacks are very nearly even. (I had him slightly covered, as it turned out.) The button folds, and it's back to me.

Well, I have about $225 left, and the pot is effectively $600 ($100 from before the flop, plus my $50, plus $225 from each remaining opponent), giving me 2.7:1 on a call. I have two pulls at the nut flush, which should be the winner the great majority of the time. I worry only about the board pairing to make somebody a full house and destroy my flush. My king means that the only possible straight flush would have to be a perfect-perfect kind of ending, or a one-outer to complete a steel wheel, both possibilities too remote to bother accounting for. I think it's unlikely that either of these guys has flopped a flush, and it's mostly unthinkable that either of them has A-A, given the pre-flop action. If I'm right about those two assumptions, then either of the two remaining kings should also give me the winner. So I'm counting on 11 outs twice (9 spades plus 2 kings). Again, they're not pure outs because of the possibility of getting there and yet being defeated by a full house, and, of course, one or two spades may be in my opponents' hands (and maybe a king, too, if one of them has A-K). I'm probably between about 35% and 40% to win, or in the ballpark of 1.5:1-1.8:1, so it still looks like the math says to call.

Of course I have to assume that at least one of these guys has an ace--maybe both. I hate calling off all my chips when I have to believe that I'm currently behind and on a draw, but I know that sometimes it's the mathematically correct thing to do, and this seemed like one such situation. So after sizing up the numbers the best that I can, I grudgingly stack up my chips and put them in the middle.

The big blind shows Js-Jh. He is drawing nearly dead (6.5%), needing a third jack or runner-runner straight cards, without a spade hitting. The UTG player has Ac-3c for a flopped two pair, and is the heavy favorite to win (56%). The short stack has A-5 with no spades, but he can only win the little main pot of about $40, when it's the huge side pot that holds all the money, so he doesn't matter much. Besides, he can only win if a 5 comes with no spade. I'm 37.5% to win, or 1.7:1 against, which is about what I had estimated.

The suspense ends quickly when the dealer puts the queen of spades down on the turn. I don't even remember what the river card was, but it didn't pair the board, and the biggest pot I've won in a long time came my way. Single-hand triple-ups of a maximum buy-in don't happen very often in the games I play.

With a pot that big, there was predictably quite a bit of post-mortem discussion. The big blind explained that he had concluded that I had kings (though he obviously couldn't know whether I had the spade draw), and that his all-in raise would push me out of the pot. He had not anticipated being called by the UTG player. He asked me whether I would have called his shove if everybody else had folded. I almost never answer such questions (my stock answer, which is sometimes true and sometimes not, is, "I don't know. I'd have to actually be in the situation and see how it felt"), but this was a player I well respected, I knew I was going to be leaving soon to head to the bloggers' meet-up, and I thought the answer was sufficiently obvious anyway that I wasn't giving away any proprietary secrets. I said, "Probably not--not big enough pot odds."

UTG guy said to the big blind, "You ruined it for me!" Big blind replied, "You ruined it for me!" UTG had been planning a shove anyway, but was startled and worried by the big blind shove ahead of him. Although neither of them was happy with the outcome, they were both taking it in stride, and these comments were made in good fun.

But, interestingly, they were both correct. A push from either one of them alone would leave me in a bind such that I would probably have to fold. However, since I had to assume that the only way I could win was by hitting my draw, and since it was no harder to beat both of them than it was to beat just one of them if I succeeded, having both of their stacks in the pot changed the math of a call from unfavorable to favorable. They did indeed unwittingly each ruin it for the other.

Guess the casino, #353

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

Answer: Caesars Palace

More card protectors

I was playing at South Point today, sitting next to a guy who was using this cute little Bugs Bunny as a card protector. Bugs has a secret. Guess what his cards are?

When the player saw my interest in card caps, he pulled out another one. He said he has a bunch of such things, and onto each he has grafted a pair of hole cards.

I had to confess that I had no idea who this was, though I assumed it was a comic book superhero that I never learned about. Indeed it was. It's Daredevil. So now you know.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Invasion of the poker bloggers

Today starts a four-day annual takeover of Las Vegas by maniacal hordes of poker bloggers. Leave town now, if you know what's good for you.

See Pauly's post from earlier today for some history of the event.

Later today I expect to head to South Point to find the cowboys on the next-to-last day of the big rodeo. Then it will be off to Imperial Palace in the evening to meet some of the incoming bloggers, including my tournament teammates Jen and Katie. Friday night is a mixed game at MGM. Saturday is a private tournament at Caesars, with a team last-longer bet. I will be sporting the Grump hoodie, for sure, and wishing that she who gave it to me could be there.

There are other goings-on, too: drinking, golf, drinking, strip club visitations, drinking, group football watching on Sunday, drinking. Oh, and I hear there is to be some drinking at some point. Well, I don't drink, I don't play golf, I'm not much interested in strip clubs (thinking I may be the only single, straight male who has lived in Vegas for 3+ years without going to one), and I don't know or care a thing about football. Besides, prolonged interaction with groups of highly extroverted near-strangers--no matter how nice they may be and how much I like following their writing--is just the sort of thing that is maximally tolling on a quiet introvert such as I. So I think I'll have to pass on many of the scheduled hijinx.

But I expect to enjoy the portions I'm planning to participate in. It will be nice to attach some faces to the names behind the blogs. You can follow all the fun remotely in what I expect will be explicit detail via Twitter:

Guess the casino, #352

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

Answer: Binion's

Deuce-four in HORSE

My results in the occasional HORSE single-table tournament have been absolutely dismal lately. I needed a boost. And I got it tonight, in the form of my old friend, the deuce-four.

First there was this very pretty hand:

Then came the most critical moment. I was the short stack, found a decent hand, and pushed it as hard as I could. I was all in on the turn, with really my only prayer being a third low card so that my ace-deuce could take the low. As it turned out, I would have been quartered if that had happened, so it's a good thing it didn't. When the river double-paired the board, with no low, I figured I was screwed. I was stunned when the next thing that happened was that all the chips were put into my stack.

When one opponent missed his flush draw and the other his low draw, the four was all it took to win a three-way pot!

That hand put me into second chip position, miraculously. By the time we hit the bubble, I had nearly half the chips in play, and still held a slim lead when going into heads-up. I caught a couple of sneaky hands against the last remaining player, and this was the result:

My exploration of the power of the deuce-four in poker games other than hold'em is still extremely preliminary, so I'm not yet sure how it fits into the pantheon of starting hands for the various games. But, to quote Ed McMahon, "a child of four can plainly see" that there is considerable potential here.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Odd card protector, with an odd story

I'm always curious about the objects people use as card protectors. Today at the Orleans I was sitting next to a older gentleman who had a doozy.

It caught my eye first because it was so big. You can't tell scale here (I should have included a poker chip for reference), but it's about three inches across and an inch thick. It's a gold-colored medal in Lucite. Yeah, I know--the gold color doesn't show up, either. Crummy camera in the hands of a crummy photographer.

The writing around the edge was quite difficult to read. It took me a while to put it together. The medal commemorates the 1967 capture of East Jerusalem (and subsequent reunification of the city). That's Yitzhak Rabin and Moshe Dayan in profile.

Without too much difficulty, I found a small (23 mm) gold medal of the same design online, here. But this one is bigger. There's a bronze version that's 59 mm in diameter (I found one sold recently on eBay here), and it seems likely that's what this is, except that somebody took the added steps of, apparently, electroplating the bronze with gold and embedding it in Lucite.

The oddest thing about this was that the coin's owner had no idea what it was. After I had been looking at it for a minute or two, he asked me if I knew what it was. I told him what I had been able to glean from it. I was embarrassed that I knew very little about that piece of history, and I thought I was going to get a lesson about it, or maybe a lecture about the heroism of the Israeli military forces, or something like that. (I'll admit that I was surprised to see what the subject of the medal was, because unless I'm severely mistaken, this guy was not Jewish.)

Turns out, he had no idea who was portrayed on it. He had noticed that there was some foreign writing, but didn't even know what language it was. (I told him it was Hebrew.) He told me that he had come to Vegas but left his usual card caps at home, so just "picked this one up somewhere." Why this particular thing? Just because it was big and heavy, which is how he likes his card protectors.

I tend to assume that the objects people use for this function are embued with some sort of meaning to them, unless they're clearly whimisical or commercial. There's another assumption shot down. It seems that people can have possessions with no meaning to them, just the way that they can make bets that have no relationship to the size of the pot, the strength of their hand, or anything else that most of us use for making poker decisions. We naturally assume that our fellow players have logical reasons for choosing to do the things that they do, but sometimes there just aren't any, and our efforts to understand them are utterly in vain.

What I keep up my sleeves instead of aces

Monday evening I played at the Venetian. I was wearing my usual poker outfit of a long-sleeved shirt and a sweatshirt. About an hour into the session I was feeling warm, so I slipped the sweatshirt off over my head and draped it over the back of my chair.

A few seconds later I caught a bit of movement out of the corner of my eye, and was extremely startled to look down at my right upper arm and see a cricket! It made me flinch and jerk, because it was so completely unexpected. That caused the cricket to jump, landing in the middle of the poker table. Somebody quickly brushed it off of the table, and it was gone.

I still can't figure out how and when it got there. I wear different shirts and sweatshirts for poker than I do at home. (If you think I look slummy when at the tables, you should see me lounging around here. What I wear out is, for me, dressing up. It's the nicer crumpled shirts, with the less-threadbare sweatshirts!) Those two items had been draped across the unused side of my bed since the night before, when I took them off upon arriving home from my previous poker session. After I put them on Monday night, I headed straight for the Venetian, with my only detour being to my mailbox and a stop in the apartment complex office, where they had a couple of packages that had been delivered for me that day. There are usually a bunch of crickets on the sidewalks around this place, but it was raining all day Monday, and they weren't to be seen. It's hard to believe that one somehow jumped up from the ground and squeezed in between layers during that short walk, without me noticing it. It's barely plausible that one was riding along on the boxes I picked up and crawled from there up my arm, but I doubt it.

That means that most likely the little bugger had been not only in my apartment (which has happened a few times before), but on my bed (which has not), and found a warm, comfortable place to sleep inside my sweatshirt sleeve, only to wake up when we got to the Venetian. Hey, maybe he wanted an upgrade in accommodations. I know I would, if I had that choice.

By the way, the crickets where I grew up (Illinois) were all black. Here they're nearly all tan (as shown above; image taken from here), some of them so light that they look almost clear. They're harmless, but the sight of one showing up in the most unexpected place, at the most unexpected time, is a bit off-putting.

It was one of the oddest moments I've had playing poker.

Next time I'm playing cricket, maybe the ace of spades and a poker chip will fall out of my sleeve.

Poker gems, #334

Eric Raskin, editor-in-chief of All In magazine, in an unusually candid assessment of Darvin Moon's play at the final table of the World Series of Poker main event; from All In magazine, December, 2009, p. 8.

He freely admitted to the press that his path to the November Nine was paved with extraordinary luck. Still, we all assumed he had to be an above-average player to take advantage of all that luck and build such a dominating chip stack.

At the final table, we found out differently. Moon played some of the worst poker imaginable. He tried to bully opponents at all the wrong times, made a couple of calls that only a true amateur would make, and made it to the final two on sheer good fortune. He tried an all-in bluff on Antoine Saout after whiffing on the flop, doubling up the Frenchman. He made a terrible bluff-raise against Steven Begleiter on the flop, then folded to Begleiter's all-in move despite getting about 7 1/2-1 on his money to call. He got lucky to eliminate Ivey despite being dominated, then did the same to Begleiter. He ran an all-in move with K-9 smack into Cada's aces. He made an unforgivably loose all-in call with K-J and drew out to eliminate Eric Buchman. And on the final hand of the tournament, his call of Cada's all in with Q-J was utterly mystifying.

Again, nothing personal against Moon. He seeems like a nice enough, humble enough guy. But he would have been a horrible ambassador for the game, shunning media opportunities and potentially removing all of his winnings from the poker economy. Cada appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman a week after winning. It's not a stretch to wonder whether Moon even knows who David Letterman is.

Poker gems, #333

Daniel Negreanu, on NBC's "Poker After Dark," Monday, December 7, 2009, about how Phil Ivey looked playing poker on television during a tournament.

You look like a crackhead, especially that day. He did! He had his hyperfocus crack eyes going.

Guess the casino, #351

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

Answer: Binion's

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Guess the casino, #350

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

Answer: Harrah's Atlantic City (Hey, I never promised they would all be Vegas casinos!)

It's one or the other, not both

I noticed the above half-page ad in the new issue of Poker Pro magazine.

Right under the site's name it says "Exclusive gaming community." The in the copy underneath it says, "Everyone is welcome to join."

Well, which is it? Exclusive, or open to everyone?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Lacuna in the blog--or in my brain

After a friend of mine recently had trouble with a blog server, I decided that I should make myself a local backup copy of all the stuff I've posted here. I don't know that I'll ever need to do anything with it, but it represents a whole lot of time and effort, and I'd hate for it to go away because some dodo far away, out of my control, pressed the wrong button one day. Or, y'know, some exec at Google decides that the whole blogspot thing is a drag on the company's bottom line and pulls the plug on it.

So I'm going through the archives, saving each week's worth of posts as a separate HTML document on my external hard drive, when suddenly the archive jumps from 12/17/06 to 4/1/07, with nothing in between. I think it's maybe a browser problem, so I try a different browser, same result. Hmmm.

I wonder if it's a systemic problem with blogspot, so check some other people's blogs, and their archives are intact for those dates.

I check my "edit posts" page, where I should be able to get to every post in reverse chronological order, scroll back through, and the same gap emerges--no posts.

I try a Google search for "poker," searching only this domain name, get a bunch of hits. But then when I further constrain the search to that stretch of dates, nothing. It's obviously not a very complete search anyway, because using other three-month intervals finds only a handful of posts, but at least it finds something for other dates.

I try, the so-called "Wayback Machine" of the Internet. It doesn't acknowledge that even exists via the standard search page, though through a sort of backdoor approach I can locate about 50 posts, none of them in the time frame of interest, however. (Other blogs on blogspot seem to be similarly spotty.)

So the posts seem to have just vanished completely.

But here's the weirdest part: They may have never existed. It's possible that I stopped writing for a while, even though I currently have no memory of such a long gap in my blogging.

My best evidence for that possibility is this: I find the post I called #200--the first time I noted some sort of numerical milestone--on November 17, 2007. When I count backwards in time through the posts listed in my "edit posts" list, that really is the 200th one listed. So maybe I really did stop blogging for three months, and have subsequently blotted it out of memory. I hate to admit that possibility, but it's pretty hard to argue with a list of posts that exactly matches the number I claimed so soon afterward. But it's strange that I don't remember such a long pause, and it doesn't appear that I commented on it upon resuming writing, if that's what actually happened.

Questions: For those of you who have been with me from the beginning, do you remember me going silent for three months or so? For those of you with more technical chops than I have, can you suggest other ways of discovering what, if anything, might be missing? I'm leaning toward thinking that all that's missing is a chunk of my memory, but it would be nice to be more certain of that.

Son of Superfull

Back in August I told you about seeing a hand in which, when the board was complete, one player's seven cards were four kings and three jacks.

I have not seen that duplicated since (and wouldn't expect to for a long time), but tonight at the Venetian I saw maybe the next best thing: board of J-J-J-10-Q, and winning player with J-10 in hand. If the other one is a superfull, maybe this one should just be called quads full.

It seems a shame that in the Official Annals of Poker, the hand would be recorded with neither of the tens showing up.

What's the name of that magazine again?

As I was detouring through the shopping area of the Venetian on my way out (see post below), I passed a display of pamphlets and free magazines. This one caught my eye.

When I first glanced at it, I thought the name of the magazine had a different vowel as the central letter than it actually turned out to be. I think the reasons for my misperception may best be left in the realm of speculation.

The Venetian springs a leak

About 45 minutes ago I was leaving the Venetian via my usual route: up the stairs and down the hallway to the parking garage. But the hallway was blocked off. I assumed they were doing some cleaning, though it seemed odd to do it just as the evening crowd would be starting to come it. So I detoured around through the food court.

As I came to the spot where the corridor to the food court meets the one going to the parking garge, I suddenly understood why it had been closed off. Water was pouring in. It has been raining quite hard most of the day, and apparently the Venetian has a very leaky roof.

You can't really see the water in these pictures, but you can sort of get a sense of the rate it was coming in by looking at the light in the upper left corner of the top picture. It was like that for a broad area. You can see how many garbage carts they brought in to try to catch it; there was that heavy a flow over that entire area, probably a 15 feet x 15 feet section of roof. This is many, many gallons per minutes. Maybe it was a pipe that broke, rather than a leak from the roof. Whatever. It was a big mess.

I guess they didn't design the canals to double as an emergency drainage system.

How to lose $127 million

This Wall Street Journal article is a fascinating glimpse into the world of casinos and their whales.

I was surprised to read that state gaming regulations prohibit casinos from allowing visibly intoxicated patrons from gambling. If true, this must be the single most widely disregarded rule on the books. At least half of the time that I play poker there is somebody at the table that I can tell within 60 seconds is drunk. I have never--literally not once--seen or heard any casino employee advise such people to leave or stop playing, or cut them off from further alcohol, unless the player is intolerably unruly or falling asleep at the table.

Hat tip: Prof's poker blog.

Guess the casino, #349

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

Answer: Planet Hollywood

"Amazing Race" finale

I've been watching "The Amazing Race" this season. Tonight was the finale. I just finished watching it on tape. The last leg of the race took place in Vegas. It was cool seeing so many places I know. E.g., at one point they're trying to get to Mandalay Bay, and I recognized that one team's taxi was using the sneaky back way of Koval to Reno to get there, and the contestants in that taxi commented that none of the other cabs was going that way.

Their first task was to rappel down the side of Mandalay Bay--face down! Then they had to dash off to the Mirage and have the performers in "Love" hook them into harnesses with bungie cords and bounce around until they could reach a bunch of flowers high overhead.

Next they were told to go to the casino with the same name as the most famous casino in Monaco. Well, DUH! One of the teams knew instantly that it was the Monte Carlo, but two teams had no idea. One of them even asked, "What country is Monaco in?" They asked a couple of people, including their taxi driver, and got a consensus that it was the Venetian. FAIL!

Once they got to the Monte Carlo, they were ushered into the poker room--a place I've spent many hours. They had to count poker chips (tournament chips) until they had exactly one million dollars' worth. Boy, these people could have used some more experience making and cutting chip stacks! I know stacks of five and ten chips both by sight and by feel now, but I never knew such a talent might help me win a race on a reality TV show. These people didn't even know how to confirm that stacks were the same height; they would bend down to look at them at eye level, instead of the simple expedient of running a finger lightly across the top. Two of the three teams got their count wrong the first time, and one got it wrong a second time, too. I think I could nail that task.

Next it was off to the MGM Grand to meet Wayne Newton (who is now, of course, my close personal friend). He informed them that the finish line of the race was at his house, but not where that was. Once again, I would have an edge here--I've known where his house was, like, forever! As per "Amazing Race" tradition, all the other previously eliminated teams were there to welcome them, including Tiffany Michelle and Maria Ho.

Clearly the best team won. Meghan and Cheyne weren't my favorite people--just too Barbie and Ken for my taste--but they were a very strong team, played honorably all the way, treated each other well, were mutually supportive, and were in the lead for a huge portion of the whole season. They deserved it. (You can watch the whole episode here.)

But if Cardgrrl and I had been racing them for this last leg, they wouldn't have had a chance!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Hoover Dam is still there

My sister, brother-in-law, and niece are in town for the big rodeo, and wanted to go see Hoover Dam today. So that's what I did, rather than play poker at Mandalay Bay, as I usually spend my Sundays.

I've been on the dam tour three times before, but it's been 20 years or so. Guess what? The thing is still there!

I had not, however, previously seen the bypass bridge that is under construction. Man, that is somewhere between impressive and frightening. I'm guessing they'll have blinders up so you can't really see anything as you're driving over it, because if you could, I think it would paralyze drivers with either fascination or fear. It is REALLY high! There is allegedly going to be a pedestrian viewing area on it, and that, too, will not be good for those of us with any sort of acrophobic tendencies.

As usual, I took a whole bunch of photos and posted them on Picasa, here. The late afternoon sun made some shots quite nice, others not so much, and some impossible. But other than that, they're pretty much the same as about 10 billion other people have taken when touring the dam. Hope you enjoy them anyway.

Guess the casino, #348

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

Answer: Luxor