Saturday, October 15, 2011

Guess the casino, #1011

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

Answer: Caesars Palace

Friday, October 14, 2011

I might have to start playing the 10-6 more often

I saw this happen last night. It was a three-way all-in pre-flop.

How Deuce-Four wins

Sometimes it goes right for the knockout punch by flopping the nuts:

Other times it's more subtle, deciding to make "just enough" hand to beat whatever it's up against:

But either way, it wins every time, obviously.

Guess the casino, #1010

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

Answer: Rio

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Another day, another Deuce-Four winner

Ho-hum. Of course it made the flush. (A river 3 for the straight would also have been acceptable.)

Three strikes

I play at Imperial Palace enough that most of the dealers there know me by name. Last night, however, I was startled to learn that one of them doesn't even remember having seen me before, despite the fact that he has dealt to me well over 20 times. He usually makes small talk with me in a way that has previously caused me to assume that he recognizes me as a local and a regular. (He calls me by name, but only because he's looking at the Bravo display in front of him. I knew that, but still assumed that he knew mine as a familiar face, even if he didn't remember my name from one visit to the next.)

Last night he asked whether I had just arrived today. I was baffled by the question. Arrived where? It took a little back-and-forth before I figured out that he thought I was a tourist. He would have asked the same question of whoever was sitting in seat 10 (next to him), as I was. He had no idea who I was.

Strike one.

(This is, incidentally, the same guy I wrote about 18 months ago here. Anybody who plays as IP regularly will know exactly who I'm talking about from the description I gave of him.)

I lost a big pot at one point, holding A-A. In a three-way hand, I called a lead-out bet from a drunk Danish player on a flop of 7-8-9, and a third guy came along. I improved to top set when an ace came on the turn. Danish drunk bet $70. I raised all-in, another $126 on top of that. Third guy reluctantly called for a little less, Danish guy folded. I showed my set. River was a jack, at which time my caller looked suddenly relieved and turned over his 9-10, having caught his straight. So gross.

Anyway, as always happens in such situations, there was a lot of post-hand table chatter about what had happened. What was different than usual was that the dealer--same one as mentioned above--chimed in with his opinion that I had had "no choice" but to play the hand the way I did, and I had just been unlucky. It was not hard to read into his commentary the implication that the third player had played it badly--which he had, of course, but it is absolutely not the dealer's job to even remotely hint at such a thing.

Strike two.

This dealer has a long-standing bad habit that I have noticed many times before, but have never done anything about until now. When somebody wins a big pot, he says, "Nice hand" as he pushes the chips. This is something that Cardgrrl ranted about in her blog a couple of years ago, here. He did it to me last night after I stacked another player, being on the good side of a set-over-set situation--my queens to his jacks, poor fellow. (This was just two hands after the set of aces went down in flames, and it went a long way toward making me feel that the universe was back in balance again.)

Strike three.

After I had cashed out, I pulled the shift manager, Marc, out of earshot of the tables and mentioned the problem. I said, as closely as I can remember it, "To those of us who have been around the game for a while, those words sound like, 'Don't forget to tip your dealer.' In fact, I suspect that's exactly the effect he hopes to have. But even if that's the last thing on his mind and his motives are purely to be complimentary, it's a practice that has a huge potential for causing resentment. At least one player at the table will not think it was a nice hand, and could easily lash out at the dealer for appearing to take sides. The dealer should be a neutral arbiter of the game, and avoid any appearance of playing favorites, or commenting on how a hand was played or on the outcome."

Marc appeared to immediately get why this was a problem. He was either good at faking it, or genuine in his thanks for bringing it to his attention.

Now the question on my mind is whether this dealer will change his habit. Reasons that he might not include (1) the supervisor doesn't really think it's a big enough deal to do anything about, and he was just placating me; and (2) the dealer gets talked to, but decides that begging for tips is still worth the risk of another reprimand.

So for my readers who frequent IP, I'd be curious to hear if you notice that this dealer continues his "Nice hand" reminder to winners of big pots. Comments section will remain open for your observations.

N.B.: Putting the first observation above in the context of the second and third, and labeling them all as "strikes," will likely mislead readers into thinking that I was somehow offended by the dealer not recognizing me. Truly I wasn't. For the vast majority of dealers, including this one, I don't care one little bit whether they remember me from one visit to another. But it seriously surprised me, because his small talk had, over the course of many months, repeatedly been effective at conveying the false impression that he recognized me. Calling these items three strikes is just a rhetorical device that occurred to me about halfway through composing the post, and shouldn't be taken too literally as it pertains to the first incident.

Guess the casino, #1009

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

Answer: Buffalo Bill's (Primm)

Bravo app

I learned from Twitter a few hours ago that there is now an app for your Android phone (I don't know about iPhone) that displays the current live games from all the poker rooms in the U.S. that use the Bravo table tracking system. It's called the Bravo Poker Live Mobile App, and it's available for free in the Android Market.

I downloaded it as soon as I heard of its existence. It's a great idea. In fact, it's a partial implementation of something I suggested here nearly four years ago.

But on first fire-up, I see that it is not yet very reliable. If the app is to be believed, right now there are no poker games going on at the Wynn, Venetian, Mirage, Bellagio, Aria, or MGM Grand. The chances of that being correct are--wait a sec, lemme pull out my old slide rule--zero.

However, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they'll work out the bugs over time, and this will turn into a handy way of finding where games are being spread at any given moment. I sure hope so. We've been needing something like this.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

More reason to be leery of Luvin/Everleaf

You know that $79 cashout from LuvinPoker (Everleaf network) I mentioned yesterday? Well, maybe not so much.

Because I had made my initial deposit using a standard Visa credit card, I picked that same route for cashout. Several hours later, I got this email:
I'm contacting you with regards* to your requested payout.

Unfortunately, we are unable to process your request as cashouts via credit card are not available for US members.

Due to above, I have cancelled your request and kindly ask that you choose Wire transfer, Western Union or Pic-Club as payment method for your outgoing transactions.

Should you require any further assistance, please feel free to contact me at anytime.

Kind regards,

Risk&Fraud Analyst

OK. Annoying, but not fatal to the project. I went back to the cashier page and looked more closely at the options. It appeared that, as laid out in the message above, only three were tagged as being open to U.S. residents: Wire transfer, which had a $200 minimum, Western Union, which had a $100 minimum, and an e-wallet service called PIC-Club, with no minimum listed. I really didn't want to go through the hassle and security risk of having yet another e-wallet account (I have about five already, thanks to poker sites churning through them over the years), but OK, whatever.

I found PIC-Club, set up an account, and requested the withdrawal.

A few hours later, this email arrived:
I'm contacting you with regards* to your requested payout.

In order to cashout via Pic-Club, a previous deposit needs to be completed using this method. This is to create a payment pathway. Without previous Pic-Club deposit the transaction would fail.

Due to above, I have cancelled your request and returned the funds to your poker account.

Should you require any further assistance, please feel free to contact me at anytime.

Kind regards,

OK, now they're really irritating me. They appear to be deliberately closing down every means of getting my money back, one by one, with a new excuse for every one.

I sent them this email:
I want to take my money ($79) off of your site. There are virtually no games ever going, and I'd rather put the money on a site with more traffic.

I first tried requesting a cashout using the Visa card with which I deposited. I received an email saying that could not be done because I live in the U.S.

Looking at your cashier page, two of the other methods that were highlighted (and thus presumably available to U.S. residents)--Western Union and Wire Transfer--are listed as having withdrawal minimums above the amount I have on account, so those are presumably not available to me.

The only other option shown as available was PIC Club. So I went to the trouble of setting up an account there, then requested a withdrawal from your site. Now I get an email from you saying that that option is not available because it is not how I made my initial deposit.

In short, you seem to be deliberately cutting off every means of withdrawal.

Tell me: How do I get my money?
The reply:
Thank you for your email.

I'm sorry to hear that you would like to leave the site and feel that there are not enough games going on.

Due to our card room having players from all over the world the time zone can some time come into play with the amount of players that we have online at certain times.

Our busier times are usually evening or early morning GMT, but obviously it varies from day to day and of course holidays.

It might be worth giving it another try and playing around the evenings and early mornings GMT; we have many US members playing at our tables at all times.

Unfortunately, although our US players are able to deposit with Visa, I'm afraid we are not able to cashout to US Visa cards.

Yes you are correct that WU, wire transfer and Pic club are all available cash out methods.

As you know WU and Pic club require prior deposits and as you stated the amount in your account that you would like to withdrawal is under the minimum that is required for a wire transfer cash out.

To withdrawal your money you could make a deposit with Pic club or WU so that you have the required minimum amount you need to cash out, and then withdrawal all your money with the method that you deposited with.

Please do not feel that we are cutting off your means to withdrawal, we have many US players that are satisfied with our deposit and cash out methods.

Please also be aware that unfortunately it is not easy for us to find payment methods for our US players which is why your options may seem limited.

Should you require further assistance please feel free to contact us back anytime.

Kind regards,

With this much hassle, I was getting more than a little paranoid. I could easily envision making an additional deposit as Rachel said would work, then trying to get a withdrawal, only to be told some BS such as the money had not been on the site long enough, or I could only take out the amount recently deposited, not the prior balance. I wanted to get a commitment from them in advance that the proposed method would actually work as suggested, plus point out to them how completely idiotic and inconvenient they were making things. So I sent this:
Let me be sure I’m understanding you correctly. I want to cash out $79. You are telling me that:

1) I cannot withdraw that money via any of your methods right now.

2) However, I could, for example, deposit $50 through PIC Club, then, as soon as that transaction is verified to be complete, immediately turn around and withdraw $129.

Is that correct?

If so, can’t you see how absurd a policy and practice that is? Why would you make your customers jump through stupid, inconvenient hoops like that, just to get their money back? How does it benefit either me or your company to make me deposit more before withdrawing the entire amount?
This reply arrived a few minutes ago:
Thank you for your email.

Unfortunately, after visa deposit the only available cashout option is wire transfer and the minimum cashout with this method is 200$. Therefore, a cashout of $79 is not available for you until you increase your bankroll to $200 or open a payment channel via deposit with Picclub or Western Union.

I would also like to confirm that as soon as you make a deposit with Picclub you can cashout your funds with the same method. Minimum deposit with Picclub is $25. Minimum cashout is $20.

You can also make a deposit with Western Union (minimum is $100) and then cashout with the same method. Minimum cashout is $100.

I can understand that requirement of prior deposit with the same method may be inconvenient to you, but the deposit is necessary to open a payment channel in case of both payment methods – Western Union and Picclub. Once you make a deposit with Western Union / Picclub, you can use the same method for cashouts numerous times.

If there is anything else we can assist you with, please contact us again at any time.

Kind regards,

Let's give them credit for this much: (1) Getting this many full exchanges of emails in less than 24 hours is as prompt as one can reasonably expect. (2) The messages are polite, clear, and obviously written specifically to my situation, rather than being bedbug letters. They could use improvement in their English grammar, but I'm letting that go with just a stern look of disapproval.

In terms of the substance of what they're telling me I have to do, however, it's still completely maddening, stupid, pointless, and suspicious of shenanigans.

Nevertheless, I will do as they instruct, make the minimum deposit via this e-wallet service, then as soon as that is confirmed, make a withdrawal of the entire balance by the same mechanism. We shall see if it works as promised. In case it does not, I am readying my arsenal of invective.

And even if it does succeed with no further hoops to jump through, I am completely done with this site/network. Between the lack of action and the transaction hassles, I could not recommend in good conscience that anybody hand money over to them. (Of course, the hassles are only one way. The deposit was taken in a matter of seconds, no questions asked. It's only if you try to make a withdrawal that they suddenly get all nitpicky and roadblocky and "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that" on you.)

*Yes, it seems that the fine folks behind this do not understand the difference between regard and regards. (If you are similarly confused, see here.)

First pay-off for Poker Tracker

As I've mentioned, I'm experimenting with Poker Tracker. I have done nothing with the data it is accumulating. For now, I'm just getting used to the heads-up display (HUD), getting a feel for the range of normal for the various stats shown, learning to make mental correlations between those numbers and what I can expect from the players they're attached to.

Today was the first time that I made a crucial decision differently than I otherwise might have because of the HUD. Six players left in a SNG, I had 11 big blinds remaining and was in the small blind with suited K-10. Player to my right raised to 3x after everybody folded to him. It could easily be just a blind steal. It's a spot in which I have to think about shoving. I play tightly enough that I tend to get a lot of respect when I raise or reraise, and this would have been my first all-in of the game, which should command even more fold equity.

I was thinking about what to do, when it occurred to me to check the raiser's stats. I had three games running, which is the maximum that I can manage so far, and one of them was tricky and demanding most of my attention, so the other two (including the one in which this story occurred) were sort of on autopilot. For that reason, I didn't have a good sense of what the raiser's tendencies were from having observed him.

But the HUD told the story. His VPIP (voluntarily put money into pot) was 7%, and his pre-flop raise was 2%, over the course of 48 hands. Whoa! This is not just tight, this is Rocky McRockerson. Sirens started going off in my brain, and I clicked the "fold" button as quickly as the implication of those numbers registered with me.

The big blind either didn't have a HUD or decided to ignore it. He shoved with something like Q-J, and got insta-called by Rocky with his A-K, and exited the game when the board improved neither of them (and would not have helped me, either).

I ended up rallying and coming in second. (I would have won, but when our stacks were nearly even, we got it all in pre-flop with my A-Ko versus his K-Qo, and he caught a four-flush to win, leaving me with 2 big blinds, and I couldn't recover. Grrrrr.) That's $15 I likely would have lost had I shoved in the earlier spot.

Score one for Poker Tracker.

What's in a screen name? #38

Here's two more than caught my fancy. The first one is the winner in the self-referential category.

Poker gems, #440

Jeff Greenfield, commenting on last night's Republican presidential debate.

How to Use the Table Better: Next time, have the moderator deal cards, then watch them play a few hands of poker. (Not Texas Hold ‘Em—unfair advantage to Texas Gov. Rick Perry.) Few better measurements of shrewdness and temperament than how someone plays cards.

Guess the casino, #1008

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

Answer: Venetian

Update on networks and skins

There has been a lot of commotion since April in terms of which sites are and are not operative and/or open to U.S. players. It gets confusing. Let me see if I can manage to list them without screwing something up.

1. Bodog. This is the one I use the most, as I've been telling you lately. With the exception of the one time that I got a prepaid debit card instead of a check in the mail (which actually might have been my own fault; I might have clicked the wrong box on the cashout page), taking my profits off of Bodog has always been fast, easy, and reliable.

The latest news is that Bodog, per se, will cease to service the U.S. market later this year. They have also announced a complete overhaul of their poker software, due out in November. As I understand it, a new skin of the site will take over U.S. accounts, which, in theory, means that one will continue to be able to play, on Bodog, though it won't quite actually be on Bodog, if you see what I mean. I don't really understand why the change is happening, but I hope it goes smoothly.

2. Everleaf network. I set up an account on Everleaf via the LuvinPoker skin a year ago, as I reported here and here. I have barely touched it since the first few days of experimentation. Today it occurred to me to look in and see if my money was still there. It was. I noticed a $5 single-table SNG with two players signed up, so I decided to join them. The three of us sat there for three hours before a fourth person joined, and it was another hour after that before we finally had a table of ten and could start.

Once it got underway, it drove me crazy because it was so ssssslllllloooooowwwww. Seriously, half of the players took the full 20 seconds for EVERY decision. I don't know why, but it was maddening. I did not know that online poker could move so slowly. The final insult was that I had a commanding chip lead on the bubble--over half the chips in play--then lost them all in a series of four all-in pre-flop confrontations, in which I had the other player dominated each time (i.e., 75-80% favorite), and lost four in a row to bubble the damn thing. Had I been playing at the Stratosphere, I would have jumped off the tower.

I submitted a request to cash out the $79 that remained from my original $100 deposit and plan never to go back. Mind you, it wasn't the bad beats that prompted that; it was the ridiculous lack of traffic. It's just pointless to sign up for games that aren't going to go for hours, if at all.

3. Cake. I have an account on the flagship skin, Cake Poker. I ran the balance down to zero a couple of years ago and haven't touched it since. I don't plan to put any money on it until they clean up their act. People I know and trust have been trying to cash out for months, running into all sorts of excuses and delays, with no money forthcoming. That ain't good, and I don't want to get mired in it.

4. Merge. I had an account on Carbon Poker, ran my initial small deposit down to nothing and didn't go back. A few months ago there was a good offer from another skin, Black Chip Poker, so I signed up and made a $100 deposit. I dinked around with it in a couple of small events, but otherwise have let it just sit there. After I finish my current Bodog SNG experiments, I think I will try to do the same sort of thing on Black Chip and see if I can run up my balance to an amount that's worth something.

5. Yatahay. Strangely, I have had an account on this network for longer than just about any other--from long before I moved to Nevada, in fact. It's on the True Poker skin. Theirs was the first 3-D software, so I was curious and signed up for it. It was positively wretched--ugly and slow as molasses. As a result, my money just sat there for years. I finally cashed out sometime after moving to Vegas. In April, 2008, something reminded me of the site, and for reasons that I can no longer remember or justify, I threw another $50 onto it, played a microstakes game or two, then forgot about it again.

This odd, obscure little poker network came back to mind in January, when DoylesRoom announced that it would be moving from Cake to Yatahay. I had heard rumors about the move in advance, and I didn't want to play on Yatahay because of my prior bad experience with the software, so I put in a withdrawal request--which never got completed. A couple of times over the ensuing months I remembered that I had never received my money, emailed the DR support people, and was always ignored. Sometime in the summer I tried logging on, and the new software would not recognize me as a former player from the old site, despite promises made during the move that everything would stay intact. I wrote the support people again, explaining that I had money tied up in the old system, the new wouldn't recognize me, etc. Again, it was like throwing a message in a bottle into the ocean--no reply. I gave up, and mentally wrote the money off as a loss.

Today I was reminded of it again, because of the announcement that DoylesRoom will cease to exist. It is being absorbed by another Yatahay skin, America's Cardroom. I decided to give it one last try, because if the account info wasn't completely lost moving from one network to another, it likely would be with this next transfer. I tried the DR live-chat option, and after just a couple of minutes waiting, got a real person on the other end. Within ten minutes, he or she had found my old account and set it up on the new network. I checked, and sure enough--there was my $188. This was rather astonishing responsiveness, given the months of being ignored when using email to try to accomplish the same task.

In theory, within a few days the money will be transferred to the America's Cardroom site. We'll see. If it survives the transition, I'll try the allegedly updated Yatahay software before deciding whether it's worth keeping some funds there versus pulling it all out.

I think that's all the real-money sites that are available to U.S. players. If there are others I've left out, please let me know in the comments. I would like to have an account at all of them, even if I don't fund or use it. Why? I dunno--just seems like the thing to do. But all the problems are a reminder that keeping money in online poker accounts is an inherently risky thing to be doing these days. It could all vanish in a flash, without warning, because of site mismanagement or because of governmental actions. Be careful out there.


A few minutes after posting the above, I decided to see if I could locate any other poker networks operating in the U.S. I checked PokerScout, and, to my surprise, found four more: First Fidelity (YouWager), World Poker Exchange, Atlantis, and Legendz. I had never heard of any of these. The user reviews posted on PokerScout for all of them say the same thing: There's nobody there, literally not a single table going most of the time, don't bother. That is advice that I think I will take.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What's in a screen name? #37

Just an assortment of various screen names I've seen and liked recently. The first is especially good if you're a regular reader of The Onion.

Economist blog post

Shamus's blog post today points to this blog post by "J.F." at The Economist. It's a worthwhile read, and a generally good riposte to the absurdly shallow and thoughtless discussion of luck versus skill in poker that was found in the New York Times piece to which J.F. is responding.

I have just two quibbles with it.
Finally, consider losing rather than winning. Can you deliberately lose a hand of poker if you tried? Of course: bet badly, fold with winning cards, and so on. Can you deliberately lose a game of baccarat or roulette? No: to play you have to bet on an outcome that might happen, regardless of what you do.
This is just wrong. I don't even know how baccarat works, so I won't talk about that. But I do understand roulette. You absolutely can deliberately lose at roulette. Just bet the same amount on every one of the 38 spots (36 numbers plus 0 and 00). The ball will land on one of those slots, and you'll be paid 35:1 there. Suppose you bet $1 on each number. You will have spent $38 on every spin of the wheel, but win $35 back. If that doesn't constitute deliberately losing, I don't know what would. That thought experiment is, all by itself, sufficient to destroy the argument that any game at which you can deliberately lose is necessarily a game of skill.
Offhand, the only games I can think of in which luck plays no part at all are chess and go.
Also not true. In chess, the decision about who gets the white pieces--and therefore gets the advantage of moving first--is made by chance.

But, of course, I have no quarrel with J.F.'s overall theme, which is that skill predominates over luck in poker over the long run, so taking the example of any one hand, in which luck can certainly prevail over skill, is just silly. That's what the Times reporter did, and it's worth having J.F.'s more informed view presented as a counterweight.

How not to play kings

I was playing one of my usual nightly SNG tournaments on Bodog a few hours ago when this hand occurred:

Let's look at how my opponent played his K-K step by step.

He was in third position and limped after two folds (blinds 15/30). This is not good in most cases. If you have an especially aggressive table at which you will reliably see a light raise and reraise from the late-position players, then OK, maybe. But this table definitely did not fit that description. He could easily have ended up out of position facing four to five opponents in a limpfest.

I raised from the button with A-J. The action folded back to our villain, who min-raised. This is nutty. The whole point of the limp-reraise trick is to trap a bunch of money in the pot and take it down preflop with a prohibitively large raise, because you don't want to have to play the entire hand from out of position. The minimum raise will virtually never accomplish this goal. He was making the pot 255, charging me 50 to call. That is, he was offering me better than 5:1 pot odds for a call. Because he was only about a 2.5:1 favorite to win, I would be correct to call in that spot even if I saw his cards and therefore knew that his hand was better than mine. (My guess is that if you asked this guy to recite David Sklansky's fundamental theorem of poker, he would just stare at you with glassy, uncomprehending eyes.)

So now we have a flop: Ad-Qh-10h. He should consider this just about as bad a flop as he could have imagined, because high on the list of hands with which I might have raised and then called his reraise are any ace, Q-Q, 10-10, and K-J, all of which now have him crushed. He leads out with a half-pot bet. OK, I don't blame him for that. I might certainly have some smaller pocket pair that would be forced to fold, or a weak ace that I would fold for fear of him having a better one. But a bet here should be, from his point of view, tentative and probing, not committal. If he wins, he breathes a sigh of relief and moves on. If, on the other hand, he is raised, he has to assume he is far behind. It would also be justifiable to check/fold, just giving up.

I did not believe that he had any of the few hands that beat me here, so I raised. This should have been a clear signal to him to get out while the getting was good. Nope. He called. Fold would have been best. As a second-best choice, a shove over the top has the merit of giving me considerable pause, and might have even worked, convincing me that he played A-A, A-K, A-Q, Q-Q, or 10-10 strangely. I had started the hand with a stack of 1480 and had put in a total of 540 with my flop raise. It would hurt to put in more than a third of my chips and then fold, but I would still have 32 big blinds to play with, so I could do it if he told a good story.

Calling was absolutely the worst of his three options. What was he hoping would happen next? If a king came to give him a set, he'd have to worry that I had A-J or J-J for a straight. If a jack came to give him a straight, he'd have to worry that he'd end up with only half the pot, and only half of the blinds for profit. Any heart and he'd have to wonder if I had made a flush--and if I did, it would likely be the nut flush, so even a fourth heart on the river wouldn't help him. There just wasn't going to be anything on fourth street that he could really be happy with in this situation.

Of course, I was forced to wonder what in the hell he was taking this bizarre line with, but whatever it was, the 6s on the turn could not have helped him. If I was ahead on the flop, I was still ahead. With 1125 in the pot and him having only another 610 behind (I had him covered), it was a no-brainer to shove when he checked the turn. This was his last chance to do something right and fold a clear loser. He had only a bluff-catcher at this point. A fold would still leave him a workable stack of 20 big blinds.

Nope. He called. The only way he could win was with a jack on the river for Broadway--a three-outer. He didn't make it.

This guy had six decision points in this hand. Only two are defensible--the lead-out bet on the flop and the check on the turn (though the latter should have been made with the intention of check-folding if I bet). It would be difficult to find a way to play pocket kings any worse than this.

You see why I find these games profitable?

Guess the casino, #1007

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

Answer: Stratosphere

Monday, October 10, 2011

Guess the casino, #1006

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

Answer: Hooters

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Guess the casino, #1005

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

Answer: Tuscany

Memo and flowers

Warning: No poker content. If that's going to bother you, you could just stop reading now, rather than complain later.

I'm up in Salt Lake City, of course. Visited Mom in the nursing home today. I'm staying with Dad and one of my nieces, who has moved in here since the last time I came. Her cat also moved in. His name is Memo.

Why Memo? I asked her. She very helpfully told me, "It's short for 'Memorandum.'" Can you tell that I come from a family of smartasses?

I've been playing with Memo a lot today. He's an excellent cat and fun to watch.

That's his bird-watching perch. The finches come to the bird feeders a few feet outside this window, and he gets all predatory--crouching, stalking, sometime standing up on his hind legs.

That's my very red rental car in the background.

But his favorite thing to do is chase his butterfly toy. It has something inside that makes an apparently pleasing-to-cats noise when he bats or bites at it. So he does:

He also seems to enjoy swatting it under the stove where he can't get at it, then mewling pitiably until somebody takes mercy on him and fetches it out with a yardstick. Within a few minutes, it's stuffed under there again. It's a strange game, but at least the rules are simple.

As for flowers, well, here are the two that my dad mounted to the top of his car to make it easy to spot his car in a parking lot:

And here, in the rosebushes that line one end of the front yard, is one of the last roses of the season. It made me think of somebody I'm missing very much.

That's all from Utah. Heading back to Vegas tomorrow.