Monday, November 23, 2009

Rolling Rolling Rolling

As I mentioned last week, I spent the bulk of yesterday at Casino Niagara putting little plastic circles in various places on green felt while I or someone else threw clear red cubes with pips all over them across a table.

And it hit me as I bellied up to the rail that I haven't played craps since August, and that was in Atlantic City and was terrible. I hadn't played craps at Niagara since last year. It was a damned shame. My brain had taken the craps reflexes and shoved them in a dark little corner. I was placing minimum odds for the first few rolls, and felt like something was askew. Then I looked at the card - 3-4-5. It was all coming back. I confirmed that I could bet 3x odds on the 4 and 10 and the craps portion of my brain came leaping into the light, crying out in joy at his freedom.

The crew at Niagara was awesome as usual. Of course, it helps that when my group walks in, we turn a quiet, boring table into the most fun place in the house. Even on the cold streaks we're cheering and hollerin', joking with the crew, and showing the rest of the table what tipping is. They love us there.

And for the next 4.5 hours, we cheered ourselves hoarse and clapped our hands sore. And we didn't even win that much.

N drove E and myself there, and we started off warm, but things quickly cooled off. My $500 initial rack started to dwindle, climb back up, and dwindle again. It got to the point where I had around $28 left in front of me and N about to roll. I pulled out another $500, saying that I had faith in my buddy. Darryl, one of the top-notch crew (and who has been there EVERY time we've gone), pointed out that if I had faith, I wouldn't be reloading. I pointed out I needed the chips to bet on him.

I never touched that second rack. N went on a heater. Hitting 4 points for the fire bet and $125 to me ($5 fire bet on my friends). Breaking even was suddenly a possibility. M and his brother showed up around this time and brought new energy to the table, and the hot streak continued. By the time the dice went through the 5 of us, I was looking at a nice profit. The opposite end of the table had slowly warmed up to our revelry, but seemed afraid to roll... and they kinda sucked at it anyway. Except one older Asian guy who had high-fived N during his roll. That move alone had us up the volume when he got the dice. He was shocked, confused, and happy as a pig in shit when we started cheering him. The guy probably lost a few hundred bucks yesterday, but undoubtedly had more fun then he's ever had at a craps table.

The dice got back to N, and my profit was gone again. He went on another sweet roll, hitting 3 points and a lot of numbers in between, and our side once again turned it around. It went back and forth like this a few times, with us winning, and the other side of the table taking it away. We'd sucked in a random player to our side who was fist-bumping us whenever a point was hit. He was loving it too. The ups and downs continued, until the dice got to E for the last time. A conservative player who has no faith in his rolling, E always enjoys hitting the tables. He started his roll. 8......8. 5.....5. 8.....8. 9....9. 10.

The man was on the verge of our second fire bet hit for the day. The table was going nuts. He was having a blast. And he'd been hitting numbers between points like mad too. The 10 roll took a while, but with the bases loaded for me and my friends, we just kept raking it in regardless. Then.... HARD TEN! The table exploded! And he kept rolling! 4! C'MON 4!!!

But... 7 out. I looked down at my nearly $400 profit and we kept going. The next guy lost me around $100 and we called it a day, all of us happy with the results. -$475 to +$285 isn't a bad swing on a $5 table. Plus, we were starving.

We cashed out, and I couldn't resist the Blazing 7's, where I promptly lost $105.

Dinner - steak for the winners! Tanqueray No. 10 martini for yours truly. And it was decided we were going back!

Dinner wrapped up, M & his bro went home, well those of us who intend to have FUN in Vegas returned to the casino. The table was STILL $5 (unheard of for us - it's usually upped to $10 around 5 or 6 pm, and it was now 9), but our crew was gone, and we love our crew.

So I returned to the slots. Burger Girl! Where I went on a huge side game run and turned $20 into $90 on a quarter machine. I took that winning ticket and returned to the Blazing 7's that had taken my money earlier. In went the ticket, and out came $200 a few minutes later. BOOYA!

Off to Let it Ride! Oh how cold that was. Lucky for me, I had a 3-card wheel as I was getting ready to leave the table and $5 on the bonus. My loss had become tiny and I opted to up and leave the table.

To WAR! Easily the game that requires the least skill in the casino. It was mindless fun. Our first dealer was a bit of a downer, but he was soon replaced with Greg, who we engaged in banter immediately. He made what could be a boring game fun. I had been timing my bets horribly, increasing and losing, decreasing and winning. I was halfway through my stack and opted to finish off my reds and call it a night. Then the tied War happened, then another War was won. Suddenly I was even again, and it seemed like a good time to take off.

Up $335 on the day, which may not be a huge hourly rate, but it's tough to find another way to get paid for having fun. Vegas is right around the corner, and now I'm more psyched for it than before.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Assholes, Fun, and No Profit - For the Kids

Well, the charity game came off pretty much as expected. Except for the pleasant surprise that the dealers actually knew what they were doing. Sure, there were a few small flubs, and corrections that wouldn't fly at a real game (ie.- dealer accidentally mucks cards, asks player what they were and fishes them out for them), but you can't expect Vegas rules in a game populated with people who are only donating to charity.

My first table was a good one. We had 3 rebuys within the first orbit, and many more to come. There was chatter among strangers, jokes, and drinks. Hell, everyone there even seemed to know how to play.

Except one guy. Drunk, belligerent, and generally an asshole. String betting, neither listening nor understanding the dealer as she explained why she was refusing his raises, and belittling every server that passed. To the point where he brought a completely innocent one to tears because she followed his instructions and he was too drunk and sociopathic to realize he was in the wrong. I wanted a table change just to get away from him.

Then he offered his bottle of Grey Goose to the table, and staying seemed like not such a bad idea.

I was generally card dead and in for $300 when I finally put away my cursed Caesars AC dice. A friend had swung by to see how I was doing and prompted this dice removal. The next hand was cowboys. An all-in before me screamed aces, but I called anyway. Sure enough, the rockets had me dead to 2 outs. The K on the river prompted a fistpump from me followed quickly by an apology to the guy I busted. What can I say, I'm Canadian.

Then it was back to no cards until the same friend came back along with N. I look down to cowboys once again. This time they're good all-in against pocket Ts and I'm looking pretty good. The TT I saw the next hand took out the guy I'd just crushed with the Kings.

The table broke and that was the beginning of the end. No huge hands, and a few stolen blinds kept me around an M of 10, which was less than comfortable, but completely reasonable for the structure we were playing.

Then I made my big mistake.

Pocket 8's and a limping table had me raising it up to 8k (1k/2k blinds). I got two callers, putting the pot at $28k. KQ3 on the flop didn't look good. My buddy M pushed his last 7k forward, and there was one to act behind me.

I gave it some thought. Chances of a K were good, but he could also be making what he figured was a move (not a lot of poker experience) with his stack, so I couldn't discount AJ or a lower pocket pair. Plus, of course, I had my 2 outs to a set, or a whopping 8%. With 5:1 odds, I should have folded. But instead I called. The player behind me called as well. Now she was the worst player at the table. The type who didn't have any idea what her chips were worth, or even how dirty her stacks were. She was relying on the dealer for all instruction. After the dealer counted out 7k in 1k chips for her, she decided she was in.

I was done. She could have bet $1 and I'd have folded. Instead, she checked the brick turn and the brick river, and I happily checked behind. My buddy had AK for TPTK, I had my melted snowmen, and the newbie had KQ for flopped top two pair. Half my stack was now hers.

With only 15k left and the blinds at 1k/2k, I wasn't doing so hot.

I eventually looked down at JTo in position and decided to call a raise to 5k. KQx on the flop kept me in. The flop was checked. Turn was a brick, and another 5k was bet out. I ran the numbers. 8 outs once, or 17-18% 8k left. I go all-in, he's insta-calling, so it's around 6:1 for me to push here. Odds said to push, and I did. River brick sent me home. Right move, wrong card.

Still, it was a fun time, with a generally good group. I'm sure a good chunk of change was raised for the children, so I can't complain.

Next live poker? The usual home game the weekend before I head off to Vegas. I'm leaving the cursed dice at home.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Charitable Fear

Back in '07 I played in a charity poker game. It still ranks as the worst-run tournament I've ever played in. And I played at The Orleans WPBT tourney a few summers ago!

Tonight, I return to that scene. Actually, they moved it from the Hockey Hall of Fame to a less glamourous location - the upstairs lounge of a downtown bar/restaurant/club. The buy-in is substantially lower too, leading me to believe the days of open bar and free eats are long gone as well. But, it's poker, it's live, and it should still be a fish pond. Plus, it's for kids, so I'll justify my desire for live poker by saying it's for a good cause and building karma.

So $100 to play. $100 rebuys, and a "top-off" as well. I get the impression they haven't become any less clueless than 2 years ago, so my guess would be that it's a rebuy only if you're busto, and truly a top-off instead of an add-on, so you can't head into the break with a real stack if you're in trouble, making the appeal of rebuying towards the end of the period pretty thin.

But here's hoping they at least start mildly on time and don't start eliminating levels or changing the structure partway through the game. And that the dealers can keep track of the levels and hand rankings.

So, expecting terrible play, I'm torn between playing tight ABC poker, or being a maniac. This may be one of the rare times I opt to have a few beverages while playing... hell, I'm pre-drinking tonight. Maniac it is.

In fact, I decided to bring a Caesars Atlantic City craps dice with me as a card capper. I shall let it determine my choices for at least some hands this evening. THAT should fuck with everyone at the table, fish and shark alike.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Maybe I Should Make Plans For Saturday

The way my poker game has been going of late, I expect I'll be out of the WPBT game in Vegas around the same time as dead stacks would be. I'm playing terrible poker. Weak, scared, frustrated poker. I'm letting card death control my play, and am ignoring everything else. That's a formula for bubbling, which I've been doing a lot of recently.

I've got a live game tomorrow, but it's a charity rebuy event, so I don't expect it to be indicative of real poker by any stretch. The $100 buy-in will probably stop people from acting crazy, but the structure will no doubt be horrible, and the play painful.

I should probably once again step away from the online game, much like I did last year, except I'm not playing very much these days anyway. The craving to jump online has long-ago subsided, and the desire to stay there when I do log on is minimal and quickly wanes. I still love the live game, but seldom get to one anymore. I haven't been by my local club since they were busted, and the nearest casino is still 90 minutes away.

Speaking of which - I'll be at Casino Niagara Sunday afternoon with a whack of friends to roll some dice if anyone has nothing better to do. Depending how that goes, some terrible table games may be played as well.

Point being, I should figure out which craps games I want to hit while the tournament is going on after I've busted out 2 hours in.

Oh who am I kidding? I'll be due for so many pocket rockets and river suckouts that your heads will spin.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Vegas Itinerary

Ah, it's that glorious time of year. The leaves have fallen, the air is crisp (actually, it's been pretty warm here the past week), and my blogger brethren and sistren start heading into overdrive on the anticipation of the coming Winter Gathering.

I, of course, am no different. The excitement for the upcoming trip continues to increase as the date rapidly approaches. The flight was booked awhile ago, and the rooms at the Bellagio shortly thereafter. Car is rented. Ziplining is booked. Two dinner reservations are made. Golf payments have been forwarded, and the poker tournament has been RSVP'd to.

In other words - all that's left is the waiting. Well, the waiting and maybe a new pair of pants.

So, because you care, here's the general outline of my trip:


- Get in around 10:30pm, check-in, and hit The Strip until my brain stops working


- Up, eat, and head out to Boulder for noon to zipline over Bootleg Canyon - want to come along?
- Back, do some shopping, and then gamble if there's time before dinner at Robuchon
- Dinner at Robuchon. This is where new pants may be needed.
- Mosey over to the IP for degeneracy and the gathering of degenerates
- Gamble and drink until my brain hurts


- Up, eat, and head out to Golf course for to take pictures of the golfing bloggers. Really, I do it to zip around in a golf cart.
- Golf ends, Strip is returned to
- Dinner at Delmonico
- Back to finding bloggerdom. MGM mixed games I believe are in order? Whilst I dislike mixed games, I like the MGM card room
- Gamble until my brain screams at me.


- Up, eat, be amazed that I'm still in Vegas
- Register for poker tournament
- Play in poker tournament
- This period is foggy due to uncertainty of how I'll do in the tournament
- Eventually, everyone will gather at the IP and we'll drink, gamble, and be merry
- Brain thing again


- Get up, be totally sick of Vegas, go home
- Get home, start missing Vegas already

Sunday, November 15, 2009

How To Kill A Weekend

Has it really been over 2 weeks since I posted? I blame Twitter - all the stuff I'd normally drag out to hundreds of words I'm not cramming into 140 characters. Time to reverse that trend!

My weekend was dominated by a single thing. I heard about it on Thursday, and had planned to look into Saturday, but a bit more information revealed I might not have that long.

So Friday I rushed home from work and headed out. What I was looking for was easy to find. Right up the stairs, you can't miss it.

"Can I help you sir?"

Someone was about to make the easiest sale of his life.

But this all starts much earlier. Maybe some 7 years earlier.

I was looking for a house back then, and walked into one of the many I had seen. The place was nice, but didn't suit my needs. What DID suit me was up on the wall. A glossy black thing of beauty.

And on Friday night, I got one of my own - a 50" Pioneer Kuro Elite Signature.

They're sold out in Canada. The Pioneer warehouse is bare, with no more coming in. They're out of the TV-making business in 2010, and the 101FD is going fast. But the place down the road from me had some in stock. It was now or never.

Of course, buying a TV means killing a weekend. After annoying me by refusing to drop the delivery fee after I just dropped a few grand with minimal effort from the commissioned guy, I opted to come back Saturday with a vehicle capable of carrying this beast.

Saturday was spent setting the system up. 160lbs of 34" 480p/1080i CRT taken down, 70lbs of plasma glory going up. Furniture rearranged, wiring redone, and a universal remote reprogrammed for the new screen.

Oh, and I picked up that CD player I wanted too (far too lazy to rip/download my entire music collection), so that came into the mix.

A side benefit of the whole thing was fixing a few wiring issues from the last time I redid the system (Blu-Ray player and new receiver). Now the whole system works as I'd planned, and it's a thing of beauty.

50" of THE top-of-the-line TV, 7.1 surround, and at least half a dozen ways to send data to it all. Naturally the rest of the weekend was spent watching anything I could on it. Yah, I guess I'll be watching more TV and movies for a while. Even football and golf seem enticing now... okay, maybe not golf.