Friday, June 30, 2006

Make that three in a row

Just not my night...

Everest Casino: $100 match bonus: -$100
Something-out-of-nothing to date: $2,815

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Losing twice

I started playing at Casino Extreme tonight (sticky 100% match of $200, 15x WR), and lost all $400 in less than ten hands. The first hand, I'm dealt A7 versus the dealer's 4, and double down, losing when he gets to 19. The very next hand, I split 88 versus the dealer's 5, and he hits 21.

After losing, I went to Imperial Casino (also sticky 100% match of $200, 15x WR), and got up to $700 on the way to my target of $850, but then fell back down to $150 at the time I crossed the $6000 WR line. I kept betting $50 a hand, and a few minutes later, after hitting $0 and bouncing back a few times, I finally lost for good.

Casino Extreme: $200 match bonus: -$200
Imperial Casino: $200 match bonus: -$200

Something-out-of-nothing to date: $2,915

Bits and bits

  • My Seventeen Pedestals cache in Fife has gone missing. I need to replace it soon.
  • No response yet from I found a link to e-mail the casino manager directly (through, a great watchdog site), and did so last night. I also initiated a withdrawal of the $125 initial deposit, just to be on the safe side.
  • The new player bonuses are starting to get harder to find. Either the site is on CasinoMeister's or WizardOfOdds' list of casinos to avoid, the WR is too high, or they only allow higher-than-acceptable-risk games.
  • I'm still waiting on my withdrawals from Prism and VegasStrip to show up. Prism says it takes 5-10 business days for the withdrawal to be approved.
  • Yesterday, I ran an Excel simulation of 107 sessions of playing 0.50% house edge blackjack, given a 250% bonus on a $100 deposit, $50 a hand. In those 107 sessions, the simulation hit the goal of $800 58 times (54%), and busted out 49 times. Switching to 2.8% house edge War, the winning percentage dropped to just over 10%, reinforcing for me what a difference the house edge makes.
  • Listening to the Poker Diagram podcast on the way in to work this morning reinforced that I really need to get playing poker again. The last time I played was at TMIB's bachelor party, and like PokerDiagram's Zog, I got knocked out in a race, holding on to a naked big slick post-flop knowing the other player had hit top pair.
  • is still spamming me, in spite of my multiple unsubscribe requests. My domain registrar now sends autoreplies from my custom CDPoker address and forwards the incoming mail into my spam collection address before it even hits my e-mail server. Stupid site.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Poker for kids

OK; I'm torn here. I've taught my daughter poker. I think it's a good way to learn probabilities. It's a great social skill. But I also wouldn't want her wagering away her allowance on a weekly basis, and if you think probability is hard to teach, try teaching bankroll management when the bankroll is $5.

From the MetroWest Daily News: Library hits jackpot with poker-playing kids

BELLINGHAM, Mass. -- It had many of the trappings of a typical poker night -- chips, pretzels, cheese doodles, even an audible belch coming from one table.

But there was no beer or expanding middle-age waistlines to behold during last night's "Bubblegum Poker" program.

That's because it was held at the Bellingham Public Library.

It was a Texas Hold'em poker night -- using bubble gum as the currency -- strictly limited to the younger set. Anyone from fifth grade to a senior in high school was welcome, and a group of about 20, evenly mixed between boys and girls from ages 11 to 15, turned up for the event. takes my winnings; Vegas Strip softens the blow

It should be interesting to see how this turns out. Names changed to protect the parties:

You are now chatting with '[some rep]'
Your Issue ID for this chat is LTKxxxxxxxxxxx
Me: Hi, I made a deposit of $125 on June 19, using coupon BPBBE, got very lucky at War over the next half hour, met the wagering requirements, and requested a $400 withdrawal. It appears that the withdrawal was declined on June 21. Can you tell me why this was?
Rep: The money was taken out your account due to your gaming can withdrawal your deposits
Me: I don't understand. Gaming pattern?
Rep: The gaming patterns are the patterns of bets which the casino do not approve
Me: I checked the terms before I played -- War wasn't on the list of prohibited games. Can you explain what I did wrong?
[waited a long time]
Me: I checked the terms before I played -- War wasn't on the list of prohibited games. Can you explain what I did wrong?
Me: I played $5 a hand for about $1800. I could have just as easily lost it all as won what I did. I wouldn't consider this a low-risk strategy violating the terms. Is that the implication?
Rep: The decision has been made and its final
Me: That's very discouraging. Can you tell me what I should have done differently?
Rep: sir the decision was up to management not me.
Me: Is there someone I could contact to find out? I might consider playing at one of your affiliated sites, but I'd certainly hesitate to unless I could learn what I did wrong so I don't make the same mistake in the future.

Rep: sir there is nothing more i can help you with.
Me: I'm sorry to hear that. Thank you for the information. Have a pleasant evening.
Chat session has been terminated by the site operator.

So, I sent an e-mail to the casino's Customer Relations Manager. He's management, right? So he'd be the one to know why the decision was made?

From: [Me]
Subject: Question for casino management
Date: Mon, June 26, 2006 9:11 pm

Dear Mr. xxxxxx:

Below is the transcript of a chat I had this evening with [Rep], your very pleasant customer service representative. In that chat, he indicated that casino management took the $275 I won because of "patterns of bets which the casino do not approve." I asked him what that meant, and what I could have done differently, but he was unable to find out.

Can you explain to me why $5 a hand for about $1800 at War is an unapproved pattern of bets? I'd like to avoid making the same mistake in the future.

Thanks in advance,


However, I finished up my wagering requirements at Vegas Strip Casino, at $5 a hand, two hands at once, and ended up with a balance of $1,350. Taking away the sticky bonus of $275 leaves $1,075, but the maximum withdrawal allowed is 10x the deposit (10x $100 = $1000), so I'll end up withdrawing $1,000, which is +$900 after subtracting the inital deposit.

High Rollers Casino: reneging on their $125 match bonus: -$275.00
Vegas Strip Casino: $275 sticky bonus: +$900.00

Something-out-of-nothing to date: $3,315

Monday, June 26, 2006

The avalanche has started

The WSOP begins today. CardSquad reports:

Here is a quick look at what is coming up this week at the World Series:
Today: $500 NLHE Casino Employees
Tuesday: $1500 NLHE
Wednesday: $1500 Pot-Limit Hold'em
Thursday: $1500 Limit Hold'em
Friday: $2500 NLHE, 6/table
Saturday: $2000 NLHE
Sunday: $3000 Limit Hold'em

Looking good this time

I mentioned the list of Vegas Strip offers that rolled in last Friday afternoon, and on Friday night, I signed up for their "275% on $25 or more, max 10x cashout, sticky" offer (it's WR was 30x, not 40x like the 350% offers). It turns out "or more" means "up to $100,000", so it's essentially infinite. With numbers that high, the table limits would make achieving the playthrough pretty much impossible.

I bought in for $100, and got $375 to play with. 30x WR means I've got to playthrough $11,250. After a little bit of up-and-down at $50 a hand, my balance started going up, up, up, and I hit my target of $1000 at about $3500 of playthrough. Making up the difference of $7750 at $5 a hand would be quite tedious and time-consuming, so I kept playing at $50 a hand, dropped down to $650, then back up to $1012.50 at about the $6500 playthrough level. I then started playing $5 a hand, two hands at a time, and have fluctuated around the $1000 mark, down as low as $920, and up as far as $1200.

It got late, I got tired, and as I started to doze off, I watched myself stand on an 8 against the dealer's 10. Yeah, time to go to bed and finish up on Monday night. With about $1500 in WR to go, it's looking like I'll end between +$525 and +$1025.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Blacklisted again

I got another e-mail this morning, this time from Casino King, which I actually lost money at.
Our automated system has declined your request for a bonus. This may be due to abusive bonus activity.
Mind you, I didn't request a bonus, and haven't even fired up their software since I lost, but they're part of the same affiliate group that blacklisted me on Swiss and Kiwi, so this isn't really a surprise.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Maybe I should lose more often

As I mentioned in my last post, I lost $200 last night at Vegas Strip Casino, hunting for their sticky bonus. No biggie. It gave me a chance to watch the final three episodes of Doctor Who (thanks, LimeWire and Tivo!)

So this afternoon, I get the following array of offers in my mailbox:

  • 50% on $500 or more, no max, non-sticky
  • 80% on $25 or more, max 15x cashout, 75% sticky (?)
  • 100% on $1000 or more, no max, no WR, non sticky (!!!)
  • 200% on $50 or more, max 10x cashout, sticky
  • 275% on $25 or more, max 10x cashout, sticky
  • 350% on $25 or more, max 10x cashout, sticky
  • 350% on $100 or more, plus 10% on all deposits since June 1, max 10x cashout, sticky
  • plus a few others not worth mentioning (e.g., slots only).
In reality, almost all offers would have an upper limit, so as to what they mean by "or more," it's hard to say. Based on a conversation I had with Prism Casino a week or so ago, I'd assume it's far above my bankroll, though, maybe $10,000 or so.

That third offer in the list, 100% with no WR? it seems like a good deal, but I'm sure that if I were to drop $2000 in there and then try to instantly take out $4000, they'd refuse it, arguing "bonus abuse".

I'll probably drop another $100 on the 200% bonus tonight.


Vegas Strip Casino is offering a 200% (max $400) sticky bonus, 30x WR. I signed up, logged on, paid my $200, and lost the full $600 in about 70 hands.

No biggie, though. My luck has been amazing; I only expected to come out ahead on about 30% of my stickies, and I've been doing a lot better than that.

Vegas Strip Casino: $400 sticky bonus: -$200
Something-out-of-nothing to date: $2,685

Thursday, June 22, 2006

More on my getting blacklisted

I mentioned last Wednesday that Swiss Casino had locked me out, for what I'd guessed was a mistake regarding failed withdrawal attempts at an affiliated site, Casino Las Vegas. On Monday, I discovered that I was also locked out of Kiwi Casino, so last night I e-mailed Casino Las Vegas and Swiss Casino to find out if they could unblock me.

Swiss Casino replied first:

Thank you for choosing Swiss Casino.
I would like to inform you that your account was not locked due to your many failed withdraw attempts.

Also I would like to inform you that Kiwi Casino is also affiliated with us. For you to unlock your accounts you would have to call the respected casino security department and they can advise you on how to unlock your accounts.

The reply from Casino Las Vegas arrived this morning. Not exactly on point (I didn't request another bonus), but very enlightening:

Our automated system has declined your request for a bonus. This may be due to abusive bonus activity. The following is a statement directly from our "Terms of Use": "Casino Las Vegas reserves the right to refuse or rescind the Bonus for any reason including, but not restricted to, player abuse. In case of abuse, Casino Las Vegas reserves the right to discontinue player's membership and to prevent the player from accessing Casino Las Vegas in the future.

My violation? Ending up +$210 on their network after meeting their WR, I guess. From last Wednesday's post:

I started at Casino King, and on June 12, lost $100. I then played at Casino Las Vegas, and ended up +$303, with a balance of $533 ($303 + $100 deposit + $130 bonus). ... I should have waited to confirm, but instead played another $240, ending up ahead another $7.

At least I got paid.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

79 thousand pennies

Umm.. yeah. I won a boat full of money tonight.

Prism Casino's got a 250% sticky match bonus. I deposited $100, so started with $350, playing one $50 hand at a time. My balance got as low as $50 early on, but then took off, hitting $600 fairly quickly. My target was $850, and I still had about $4500 in WR to go, so I dropped down to $25 per hand, and started playing D'Alembert style. In spite of myself, I quickly hit $850, with $4000 in WR to go. I then flat bet $25 a hand, dropped down to $600, and D'Alemberted again.* At $875, I had about $2000 in WR to go, so dropped down to $5, two hands at a time.

Then the luck really kicked in. My ending balance? $1,140. No, there's no decimal point in that number.

Before making the withdrawal, I confirmed that I'd met the WR, and asked about the dozens of other bonuses available on their site. Surprisingly, the rep said that I'd be eligible to claim those bonuses, after my withdrawal was complete.

Subtract the $250 sticky, and the $100 deposit, and ...

Prism casino: $250 sticky bonus: +$790
Something-out-of-nothing to date: $2,885

*Yes, like all systems, D'Alembert is a long run losing proposition, and you should never use it when the bonus isn't sticky. But when you're fighting sticky bonuses, wild variance is your friend.

Yay! I got paid!

After a longer time than I would have expected, my withdrawals from American Grand and Casino Las Vegas both showed up in my Neteller account yesterday. Whew.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Quickest $275 ever

High Rollers Casino has a slightly different offer than most others. Wagering requirements are 7x for most games, except Blackjack games are 14x, and the standard four excluded games are excluded (baccarat, craps, roulette, sicbo). Minimum table bet is $5 per hand. Withdrawals must be less than the original deposit, or more than the original deposit+bonus.

I ran the numbers, and compared standard blackjack at 14x (0.58% house edge, expected final result $229.70, +/- $158.75) with War at 7x (2.88% house edge, $199.60 expected final, +/- $98.22). I decided to go with War, and it plays a lot faster than BJ does. After 30 minutes of play, I'd already hit my wagering requirement.

Maybe someone better with math than me can look over this "War" chart, but I think I ended up taking in more than two standard deviations more than expected.

- 2 SD- 1 SDExpected final+ 1 SD+ 2 SD
I ended up with $400.

High Rollers Casino: $125 match bonus: +$275.00
Something-out-of-nothing to date: $2,095

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sticky? Not sticky? Time will tell is currently offering a 300% / $300 bonus, and their terms and conditions mention nothing about the bonus not being fully cashable. My spreadsheet had mentioned that their bonus was sticky (meaning I read in their terms last month that it was sticky), and older sites (bonusbug, flopturnriver) refer to their bonus as sticky, but it's not listed there now.

I called them yesterday morning and asked "Is the 300% signup bonus non-cashable, or is it fully cashable?" The operator's response, "it's cashable".

So, I dropped in $100, had $400 to play with, and proceeded to play single-hand Blackjack Surrender at $5 a hand. The WR is $8000 (about 1600 hands).

I started out by losing my first ten hands in a row. If I had been playing for a sticky bonus, I'd have been broke by this point. It turned around though, and by hand 61, I was back at $400. By hand 275, I was up to $500. The next 600 hands fluctuated, then turned south, and at hand 960, I was down to $385. I climbed back up to $500 at around hand 1400, end ended at $457.50 when I had met the WR.

Because I'd made $8000 in wagers, CasinoOnline comped me $8. I took the remaining 50 cents and dropped it into a 5 cent slot machine, making $5 on my last nickel.

So, if it's not a sticky...

Casino Online: $300 bonus: +$370
Something out of nothing to date: $1,820

Hey, I've got enough for a single table 6-player WSOP satellite! (Nope. Not gonna happen.)

(June 21 note: no, it wasn't sticky. The $470 withdrawal just showed up.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I've been blacklisted

McCarthy: 'Are you now, or have you ever been...'I've been blacklisted, and it's not why you'd expect.

As background, realize that Casino King, Casino Las Vegas, Swiss Casino, 50 Star Casino, and Magic Box Casino are all affilliated casinos.

I started at Casino King, and on June 12, lost $100. I then played at Casino Las Vegas, and ended up +$303, with a balance of $533 ($303 + $100 deposit + $130 bonus). I attempted to make a withdrawal of $533, expecting that the $130 sticky bonus would be removed, and I'd get $403. Instead, I immediately got an error message indicating that I hadn't met the wagering requirements. I contacted online support, who said I'd need to e-mail casino support. I did, and waited 24 hours for a response, which never came.

My "comp points bonus" was at 252 points, indicating that they thought I was at $2520 in wagers, short $240 of the $2760. I should have waited to confirm, but instead played another $240, ending up ahead another $7 (bad RulesLawyer, expected loss of -$2). I attempted a withdrawal again, which gave the error message.

I phoned up Casino Las Vegas, and discovered (after much trial and error) that my cell phone wouldn't connect to their toll-free number, but my landline would. In the process, I attempted withdrawls two more times. I finally spoke to the customer service rep, who checked and said that I had indeed met the wagering requirements, and should now be able to make a withdrawal. I tried again to make a full withdrawal ($541 now), and got the wagering requirements message, and a message that my account was locked. I e-mailed them back, asking for assistance.

Meanwhile, I created an account at Swiss Casino, and played around on their play money tables, waiting for the floor manager to make a bonus offer or for another bonus offer to show up in my mailbox. After two hours, no offer came, so I hopped back over to the real money tables to make a deposit. I attempted to log in, and got a message that my account was locked. I e-mailed support to ask why, and got a pretty generic message:

Our administration system is completely automated and has automatically closed your casino account.

The reason for this may be due to a number of reasons including (but not limited to) the following:

1. Previous activity in the gaming industry and/or affiliated casinos

2. Previous activity with regards to banking and/or credit card systems

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused, but our system will not be able to maintain your account. We are unable to further assist you, and we thank you for your initial interest in our casino.

Have a good day!

Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Swiss Casino Support Team. We are available 24 Hours a day, 7 days a week.

(I like that contradiction: "We are unable to further assist you... please do not hesitate to contact us.")

Swiss' terms and conditions state that if a player is ever locked out of an affilliate's site, they are ineligible to play at Swiss. The five affiliated casinos all have similar terms.

My guess is that I triggered a security lock at Casino Las Vegas with my multiple failed withdrawals, which cascaded to their affiliates. Whether the lockout at Swiss is permanent, I don't know, but if it is, then that security lock will also cascade, making me ineligible to play at 50 Star and Magic Box.

(I received a response from Casino Las Vegas to my withdrawal question this morning, telling me to try withdrawing $411, which would be the withdrawal excluding the bonus. My account wasn't locked, and the withdrawal succeeded.)

Adding to the frustration, my $302 withdrawal from American Grand (attempted last Thursday) never showed up (they say it should take four days), and when I checked last night, it was back in my account. I called them up, and they said I was about $3000 short of the $9000 wagering requirements, thanks for calling, have a nice... but I interrupted before they could get me off the line, and pointed out that ($100 deposit + $200 non-sticky bonus) * 20 = $6000 WR, and not $9000 WR. The phone rep fell all over himself apologizing (calling me "ma'am" several times in the process; grrrr), and confirmed that I could make a full withdrawal. I did, and now need to wait another four days for the money to show up.

Casino Las Vegas: Playing when I shouldn't: +$7
Something-out-of-nothing to date: $1,450

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


I went for my third sticky bonus tonight, this time at Casino Las Vegas. Just like at Casino King, after I poked around for a few minutes, the floor manager IMed me and offered me an additional 30%. I took him up on his offer, getting a $130 sticky bonus for my $100 deposit. (If I'd have been checking my e-mail, I'd have seen a 200% offer in there.)

I started betting $50 a hand, started on a lucky streak, and hit my target of $500 after just $400 in wagers. I had $2760 in wagers to make, so I hit my target way early. I dropped down to $1 a hand, 5 hands at a time. By the time I got to $1400 in wagers, I was down to $415, so I went back to $50 a hand for two single hands, winning both, bringing me up to $515. I played the next $600 in wagers again at $1 x 5 hands, dropped down slightly to $501, then played the next 25 single hands at $10 each, bringing me up to $556. Back down to $1 x 5 hands for the last 400 hands, and I ended at $533. Subtracting out the $130 sticky and my $100 deposit...

Casino Las Vegas $100 + $30 sticky bonus: +$303
Something-out-of-nothing to date: $1,453

(shouldn't I be asleep?)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Papers, please

I'm surprised it took this long, but I got an e-mail tonight from Acropolis asking for a copy of my drivers license in order to process my withdrawal. I experienced the same thing two years ago when I was making my big withdrawal from Phoenician, so when I looked in my wallet and discovered my license was missing (I think it's on my desk at work), I was able to pull up the old e-mail and use that image.

I figured every casino would be asking for ID, but it makes sense that they only require it above a certain dollar withdrawal, I guess.

Sticky sticked me

Casino King has very similar terms to American Grand (100% $100 sticky), so I signed up there tonight hoping to do as well as I did on Thursday. I downloaded the software, and as I'm checking out the blackjack tables pre-deposit, I get an IM from the floor manager, offering an extra 50% if I deposit within 30 minutes. Sweet.

I make the $100 deposit, getting a $150 sticky deposit on top of it, and begin betting fairly big: $25 a hand, trying to get from my $250 balance to my $600 target.

No such luck. From the second hand, I started dropping, and finally, a third of the way to meeting the $3000 WR, I hit zero. The dealer was getting a lot of 6's, but wasn't busting on them. Ah, well. It's to be expected.

Casino King, $100 sticky + $50 sticky bonus: -$100
Something-out-of-nothing to date: $1,150

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Bonus hunting at brick-and-mortar

Last night was my brother's bachelor party. We went to Happy Days Casino in Lakewood, with the intent of playing $1 blackjack until the midnight poker tournament. As a pleasant surprise, when we signed up for the tournament, each of us got two up-to-$10 match play coupons. The best bet in the casino was, of course, blackjack, and to get full value, we've gotta put $10 on them.

Two bets, two wins, +$40. Bill also was +$40. Trestin was 1-for-2, so broke even. Phil, using Trestin's money, was 0-for-2, -$20.

I'm not gonna count this +$40 in my something-for-nothing count, though. Partly because it was out of my real-life money fund, and secondly because I ended up otherwise -$15 at blackjack and ended up losing at the first level of the poker tournament (-$25), so broke even overall for the night.

(Side note: Starluck just gave me $5 free, which I failed to convert into $20.)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

CDPoker: on my blacklist

Whenever I sign up for a casino account, they require an e-mail address. I use the name of the casino, plus my personal domain name (similar to That way, if I start getting spammed on one of those addresses, I not only know who to blame, but can also just direct that e-mail address into the trash.

I'm closing down my CDPoker account for two reasons. First, I've started getting spam to that address, even though I've used it nowhere other than my CDPoker registration. I e-mailed CDPoker two weeks ago, and they didn't reply; the spams just kept coming. I asked them about it in online chat, and their response was "e-mail the sender back and ask to be taken off the list." I checked their privacy policy, which lies as follows:

E-mail Addresses are NOT shared with any other organization for commercial or noncommercial purposes. E-mail addresses will only be used to provide our customers with information regarding new software updates, promotional material, and miscellaneous poker operations, such as deposits and withdrawals.

That's bad enough, but secondly, I've been working since late March to accumulate enough "points" to collect the $51 in bonuses I got from my initial deposits. To do so, for each 500 points I earn, I get $10 of my bonus money. At least, that's the way it was when I signed up. I'd gotten my first $21, and when I crossed the line for the next $10, expected to see it in my account. It wasn't there, so I checked the site. They moved the goalposts on me, now requiring 600 points for each $10. I complaned to customer support, and they graciously added $10 to my account, but said I'd have to earn points under the new rules.

So, for spamming and for changing the rules midstream, I'm taking my poker play elsewhere.

(Sure, it's easier to do this now that I'm collecing casino bonuses up the wazzoo, but it was the change in CDPoker's bonus requirements that led me to start looking at the casino bonuses to start with.)

My account there was also something out of nothing, starting with the freeroll I cashed in at Noble Poker, so I think it's fair to add it to my running total.

CDPoker/Noble Poker: 19th place in freeroll ($2) + PokerInside bonus ($20) + mad skillz: +$134
Something out of nothing to date: +$1,250

Local brick and mortar info

I've had to make some phone calls for my brother's upcoming bachelor party, and since there's nowhere online that seems to compile this kind of info on a regular basis, maybe someone surfing the search engines will find it useful. For brick and mortar casinos in the Tacoma, Washington area, as of early June 2006:

The best:
Happy Days, Lakewood: $1 minimum bets at blackjack, $3/$6 hold 'em, $20+$5 hold 'em tournament starting at midnight.
Emerald Queen, Tacoma: $3 minimum bets at blackjack, craps, and roulette. No poker available.

The rest:
$3 blackjack, $3/$6 hold 'em: Freddie's Club
$3 blackjack, $4/$8 hold 'em: Hawk's Prairie, Lacey
$5 blackjack, $4/$8 hold 'em: Silver Dollar, both Tacoma locations
$5 blackjack, $3/$6 hold 'em: Chips Casino, Lakewood
$5 blackjack, $3/$6 hold 'em: Muckleshoot. Roulette and craps available, too (probably $5).
$5 blackjack, $3/$6 hold 'em: Rising Dragon, Tacoma (manager says poker is slow, only offered if enough people)
$5 blackjack, $3/$6 hold 'em, full kill: Pt. Defiance Cafe, Tacoma. Evening tournaments begin next week.
$5 blackjack, no poker: Great American Casino, Lakewood
$5 blackjack, $5 craps, $2 roulette, $3/$6 hold 'em: Red Wind Casino, Nisqually

Silver Dollar 6th Avenue has a $45 buy-in tournament at 7:15 PM. No other tournaments after 3:00 PM on Saturday.

In case you're not aware, roulette and craps are available only at indian casinos; card games are available almost anywhere.

The Emerald Queen's Fife location only has slots and keno, making it the worst.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Another bonus collected

I had a strong late run at Acropolis tonight, ending up with an account balance of $453. Subtracting out the $110 sticky bonus, and my $100 original deposit, that leaves me...

Acropolis Casinos: $100 + $10 sticky bonus: +$243
Something out of nothing to date: +$1,116

(Dropping the 55¢ from the PlanetLuck withdrawal of June 3 -- turns out they only process whole dollar withdrawals.)

My First Sticky; setting targets

I signed up for the $110 sticky bonus (100% deposit match + 10% Neteller bonus, 12x playthrough) at Acropolis last night, and started playing. For an explanation of what "sticky" means, Acropolis has the clearest explanation I've seen anywhere.

I've been torn about what strategy to use -- bet it all then grind, bet big chunks then grind, or grind then bet it all -- but finally decided on the middle ground. By betting big chunks, then grinding away once I hit my target, I'd be able to either bust out quickly, or else have minimal WR remaining once I hit the target. (More on setting targets below.)

At least, that's the theory. I was too lucky. Starting with $220, I started by betting $25 a hand at Blackjack Surrender. I hit my target of $400 in about 20 hands, sitting at about $420. I was really surprised, since I'd expected to lose it all. I'd met only $500 of the $2640 WR, so it was time to start grinding away. Soon, at about $800 in WR, my account was down to $360, so I figured I'd do a couple more big bets, $25 a pop. About 15 hands later, I was back up to about $425, after a drop to around $325.

(Side note: on one big hand I was dealt 8-3 versus the dealer's 6. It's a clear double down situation, which I did and won. The words "Won $100" on the screen came as quite an adrenaline rush, though.)

Time to keep grinding away. I should have it completed tonight.

So why was my target $400? In the forums, there's two popular formulas. The first was written by someone with a small bankroll trying to play conservatively:

Target = Bonus + [{ Sqrt (Entire Bankroll * Bonus) } / 2]

So the target should be the $100 bonus, plus half the square root of (my $800 bankroll times the bonus). That's about $242. After withdrawing the $100 sticky, that'd leave me +$142. This didn't seem like a big enough target.

The same person who wrote the first formula recanted it once he had a bigger bankroll and a higher risk tolerance, and came up with this revised formula:

Target = 2/3 Bonus + Sqrt(2 * Entire Bankroll * Bonus)

So my target with this formula would be $67 + Sqrt(160000), or $467. After withdrawing the $100 sticky, that'd leave me +$367. That seemed a bit too high, a bit too risky. $400 sounded about right, though.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Chickens, eggs, hatching

A few hours ago, I ran the numbers and mentioned that I felt comfortable that I wouldn't have to use a chancy system to reach the $300 withdrawal requirement. Promptly thereafter, my account balance at American Grand started to go downhill. At its low point, it was at $200, getting close to 2 standard deviations below expectations. When I finally hit the $6000 mark, I was at $235, so needed to make another $65 to make my withdrawal.

For some of the best odds in the casino, with minimal variance, you've gotta go with the banker bet in baccarat. It's never allowed for wagering requirements in any online casino I've been at, but it's available after those requrements are met. Plus, there's no thinking involved at all. I figured out how to play baccarat once, many months ago, but I don't remember, really. Put money down. Click deal. Collect winnings. That's about all you really need to know.

I marked up a page with the D'Alembert system, and started betting. A short time later, I was up to $302, and made my withdrawal.

American Grand Casino: $200 bonus match: +$202
Something out of nothing to date: +$873.55

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A feeble attempt at rules lawyering

The first deposit wagering requirements at American Grand are written something to the effect of 9x deposit ($100) + 9x bonus ($200), and 20x deposit + bonus for blackjack. Roulette, craps, baccarat, and pontoon are excluded from the wagering requirements.

Another requirements page on their site says that for other promotions, wagering requirements are 30x deposit + bonus for all blackjack games.

So, since I was playing Carribean 21, and not true blackjack, I argued that the game should be included in the 9x requirements ($2700) and not the 20x requirements ($6000). They didn't buy it -- they say Caribbean 21 is blackjack. I'm not gonna fight them on it; I'm more than halfway there, and currently more than one SD ahead of expectations. As my brother pointed out, there's really no way to go after an online casino if they rip you off. Not that I expect Grand American to, but there's no need to tick off the golden goose.

I'm at currently at $407.50 at $3300 WR, which has moved my expected results from:

- 2 SD- 1 SDExpected final+ 1 SD+ 2 SD

One somewhat unique restriction to American Grand is that they require that you have less than your deposit ($100) or more than your deposit + bonus ($300) in order to make a withdrawal. I'm feeling more comfortable now about not having to end with a chancy 'system' to build back up to $300.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Caribbean 21 rocks

American Grand casino is offering a 200% $200 max match, with wagering requirements of 9x deposit + bonus ($2700), 20x for blackjack ($6000), Baccarrat, Craps, Pontoon, and Roulette excluded. I crunched the numbers, and they offer Caribbean 21, which has a microscopic 0.19% house advantage, and a standard deviation of 1.62. Expected results within one standard deviation are $163.12-$414.08. I'm about one sixth of the way in to the WR, and am sitting close to $400 (+$300).

By comparison, standard blackjack has a higher house edge at 0.43% but a lower SD (1.2), with expected results at $181.25-$367.15. Caribbean 21 has a higher risk, but an even slightly higher reward.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Up and up again

William Hill offered another 100% $40 bonus for June, so I took them up on it, and met the $800 wagering requirement the slow and safe way: $1 a hand, one hand at a time. In the end, I ended +$39, with my low point only at +$32 and the highpoint at +$49.

I also received an e-mail earlier this week from PlanetLuck, indicating that they'd dropped $5 in my account to "bring me back". I already had $1.05 there from some kind of loyalty program. The WR for their $5 was only 1x, so using the Labouchere system, I was lucky enough to grow the free $6.05 into $20.55.

William Hill: $40 June bonus match: +$39
PlanetLuck: $6.05 free: +$20.55
Something out of nothing to date: +$671.55

Oh, and I've gotta give props to Bet365 casino -- my withdrawal from there showed up in just an hour or so, compared to most of the other sites which have taken 24-48 hours.

Friday, June 02, 2006

That darn variance

It had to happen sooner or later. Tonight, I went back to Intercasino, because they offer a new 100% $100 bonus every calendar month. I deposited $100, and took it and the bonus to a Pontoon table and its microscopic 0.17% house edge. However, the minimum wager is $5, but I figured I could handle the variance.


The mojo that I had playing Pontoon back in late 2004 wasn't there, though, and $845 into the $2500 wagering requirement, my bonus and the original deposit are down to zero.


Intercasino: $100 June bonus match: -$100
Something out of nothing to date: +$612

A bad run of cards, and I still come out ahead

Grinding through the $4000 wagering requirement (WR) at bet365 was going slowly last night, even though I was playing 5-handed blackjack at $1 a spot. I'd gotten about a quarter of the way through it, my high point was at $450 (+$250) and low was $380 (+$180), and decided that yeah, I could handle a higher variance, so I increased my bets to $2 per spot.

The path to the WR was certainly moving faster, but wow, what swings. At the low point, I was at $198 (-$2), and the high point after the low was at $389 (+$189). I finally met the WR with my account at $231, then played a bit more, bringing the final balance to $250 (+$50).

There was a point where for something like ten hands in a row, the dealer was showing a good card (like a 5), and then spiked something like 8,8 to hit 21, laying the smacketh down on my double down split aces.

Ah well. I like to think of this as +50 instead of -150, 'cause I really did end up ahead. $200 deposit match, +$50
Something out of nothing to date: +$712

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Grinding away

I started at last night. 100% bonus, $200 max, $4000 WR. This will take a while to work off, but it's my first $200 bonus instead of $100.

I'm still thinking about that future state when I'm gonna have to start going after stickies, and what strategy to use:

A) all at once + small bets to reach WR, or
B) 15% plus a system + small bets once goal is met.

A third strategy I read about today is kind of an inverse of the first:

C) figure out what the WR would be for the strategy A, small bet to reach that, then do the all at once for the final push to the WR.

I've no idea which to use at this point. Fortunately, at this point, I don't have to.