Sunday, September 30, 2007

Do you know where you are, sir?

Quick wrapup. Friday night at the Imperial Palace poker table, I dropped another $87. Saturday morning I stopped back in to the conference and the four people there plus the podcaster were obviusly very bored; one person left during the hour I was there; I got the impression that several of us were flitting in and out.

As my last poker game, I headed over to the $4/$8 game at the Bellagio. I knew I was overclassed, and was pleased to only drop $35. The best quote at the table, though, was when a new player sat down to the dealer's right, the table welcomed him by taking his first bets from him, and he asked "Is there a bad beat jackpot?" The dealer looked down and shook his head, and the guy to my right, a relative loud mouth, looked at him and jokingly said in a snooty voice, "Do you know where you are, sir? This is the Bellahh-gio." Heh.

I think I saw a recognizeable poker pro in the high limit room, but I can't place his name. It might have been Johnny Chan, but I don't think so. I'll look thru some back issues of Card Player and see if I can figure it out.

Friday, September 28, 2007

My poker money, on its way to Detroit

After extensive research and a bit of shoe leather, I found a 5 cent video poker machine with a theoretical 0.07% player edge. Problem is, the variance is about 70, so until you hit the $200 royal flush, you're gonna be very slowly losing money. I played the machine (at Hooters) for a little more than an hour, before boredom over took me, and I bailed out down $30.

I then went to Imperial Palace and played poker for another 90 minutes against a crew of six former college roommates from Detroit. It was a lot of fun, and I stayed even until the table started shrinking. I suck at short-handed play though, because I view it through the inaccurate perspective that fewer players increase the value of each hand (this is wrong) instead of the correct perspective to treat empty seats as folding players. I dropped $65 in about four orbitz before the four of us at the table broke it up.

I then went a little tilty, and tried to win some of it back at roulette, but dropped a Benjamin there.

I hit the craps table at Bill's Gambling House at lunch (I had a match play), and extrordinary bad luck dropped me down another $62.

I've read that the poker tables at Paris are very fishy, primarily because it's in the middle of the casino, which pulls in the gambling types. I'll hit that after the final session at the conference tonight. I'n going to bail out early. It's a live-fire network defense exercise, and when it started, I was one of about 60 observers. After they all discovered how exciting it is to watch people through CCTV as they maintain a network -- with no screenshots -- I'm one of the last six.

The PaulDotCom Security Podcast is recording, but that can only do so much to keep the interest up. I'm outta here.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


It's the birthplace of the WSOP, the largest poker room downtown, and it's... well, it's a bit of a dive.

It's got the wall of photos of champions, but it's not really a structural wall -- it's a half wall in the middle of the room, as you might find in a museum, for displaying artwork. The dealers are old and crusty, and all of them talk with various accents: Russian, southern, Spanish. The other players are either really good or first time players, there's no in-between, except me.

Three hours of play, and I bailed out as I fell back down to breaking even.

The most amusing thing to me is that I've got a WSOP game for the PC that came out in the early 90's, and this place feels like it was last modernized at about the same time. Sadly, I think only six of the three do2n tables were in use, and when I sat down at the table, I was the 4th player. Eventually, it filled up, but I suck in short handed games.

Still, it was cool to look down at T2o, think "the Doyle", and realize this was where it happened so many years ago.

I folded.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ye Olde Poker Roome

I played $2/$4 limit at the Excalibur last night. Cheey, but not scary chezy like Circus Circus. Players were a little better than the Imperial Palace, but not great. It not only seemed like I was playing with the typical crowd from the Palace casino in Lakewood, but the guy two seats to my right was from Olympia, works as a car dealer in Shelton, and we chewed the fat about the poker rooms at Little Creek, Hawks Prairie, and Red Wind.

He says Red Wind is closing their poker room; I'm not surprised. The one time I tried to play there, they canceled their tourney due to lack of players.

I was down $50 in the first 90 minutes, but realized I was playing like I'd done a few months ago, loosened up a little, didn't bet suited aces as strongly, and ended up ahead $16 on the night.

Tonight, I'm bonus hunting my way to Binions. My table game luck has been mediocre, and I'm a few bucks down in spite of the bonuses. Hopefully, that'll turn around downtown.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Losing, Wynning

Emboldened by my $70 win at IP last night, I jumped in feet-first to the $4/$8 table at the Wynn poker room. It's by far the most elegant poker room I've ever been in. Cushy chairs, rich wood paneling and cabinetry, a hushed reverence among the players, and no posters for $1 Corona on the walls... Snazzy. The player to my left quietly muttered a f-bomb once when his flush got out flushed, and the dealer seemed seconds away from calling security before the guy apologized.

The woman to my right, although smokin' hot and posessing an equally hot James Bondian eastern European accent, got highly offended (in the way that high-maintenance people do, like Lovie on Gilligan's Island) when she called a bet on the river. The player who she called won, and when he remarked that he feared she'd had an ace, the dealer (correctly) pointed out that if she'd had an ace in this situation, she'd have raised him instead of calling. She didn't like this commentary on her game, "right in front of me, like I'm not here." The dealer apologized, although I think they were both out of line.

Oh, yeah. I dropped $100 over about 90 minutes. The players at this table were the best I've ever been up against (sorry, home game compatriots), and although I started playing premium hands only, then mixed it up when I thrice got my raises folded to (tiny pots, grrr), I frequently missed the flop; the cards weren't coming.

Finally, with only $18 left, I make a pure bluff stab at the pot pre-flop with a late position raise to $8 with 5h3c. Two other players call. The flop comes 2h4h6d. The big blind bets, I raise, he puts me all in, I call. The 7h and Th fall, and my flopped straight loses to his J high flush.

I think I'll head back to ghetto poker tomorrow. The elegance was nice, but its obviously better on the bankroll to play with folks who hope their pocket deuces will hold up.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Poker in Vegas: Imperial Palace

After class and they keynote last night, I went a-wandering. I intend to play poker at the two nicest rooms in Vegas (Bellagio and Wynn) and at the fishiest* (Excalibur and Imperial Palace).

I wandered past the Bellagio poker room (surprisingly small, about the same size as Muckleshoot), but I wanted to prove to myself that I could win in the fish rooms first. On the way to IP, I stopped at Treasure Island for a $5 bonus (lost net $10), then at the ghetto-on-the-strip Casino Royale (free $50 in very limited slot pay, net $0, as expected).

At IP, I started a $2/$4 limit table, and we played six, seven, or eight-handed for a couple hours. One guy had never played poker before; straightforward play worked against him.. The guy to my left always failed to hide his cards when he peeked at them; heads up, I checked and folded AJ against his 76 on a flop of 669. A couple sat down, but as they approached, the dealer remarked that they had raised every hand pre-flop the night before. When I got into pots with them at the table, it was with made hands, raising to get heads-up. Most to the time, they folded on the river. Net +$71.25 (yes, they used quarters for their 10% rake).

I then headed back to the hotel, dropping $30 on the roulette wheel at O'Sheas, another fine ghetto property.

* According to

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Forensics quote of the day

"A 9mm wouldn't work. You've gotta use a .357. Voice of experience." - Student in my forensics class, correcting the instructor's suggestion of the best, fastest way to destroy a hard drive.

Thank goodness for the $20 trick

I arrived at the SANS conference at Caesars' Palace at about 1:00 a.m., and used the $20 trick when I checked in, hoping for an upgrade. They upgraded me to a 900 sq. ft. suite for the first night, but I have to change rooms today. But what a room it was. Bigger than my first apartment, marble everything, a walk-in closet big enough to do ironing in, three thermostats for three different rooms (yes, one of the two bathrooms had its own thermostat)... wow.

They assure me that my new room is almost as nice, but has more techy stuff. It's a bit of a hassle, but I overheard another hotel guest complaining about the alternative he got. Caesars' overbooked: he was told to check into the Flamingo last night instead.

Followup: based on the price on the back of the door of my new room ($700 is listed for a $180 room) the room I was In last night was a $6400 room ($25,000 listed on the door).

(Jaw drops)

I doubt I'll ever see the inside of a room like that again.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Federal Gambling Act fallout: Bodog loses domain

A newsletter I received earlier this week, and an e-mail I received today, point out some collateral damage resulting from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

Bodog, which is the biggest name in North American non-poker internet gaming, was the defendant in a largely baseless patent infringement action. The lawsuit was filed in Vegas. Bodog representatives, fearing arrest if they set foot in the US, failed to appear. The plaintiff got a default judgement, forcing bodog to give up their flagship domain name. The Vancouver Sun writes:

The Las Vegas company obtained the judgment after the Bodog companies failed to answer allegations, filed in U.S. District Court in Nevada, that downloaded software used by Bodog customers to facilitate its gaming activities infringed upon 1st Technology's patents.

It is not clear why Bodog officials did not respond to the allegations. One possibility is they were scared away by the U.S. Department of Justice, which has declared war on Internet gambling.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cache machine this weekend

It's gonna be a busy couple of weeks. I'll be in Seattle for an all day CLE on Thursday. I have to be in Aberdeen by 7:00 on Friday night for the Grays Harbor Cache Machine pre-dinner. This is followed by a half day of caching on Saturday (Kim and Krys will be cache machining for the first time - yay!) before I have to make it to SeaTac for a 7:00 PM flight to a network security conference in Las Vegas. Yes, I'll be playing some poker (CheapoVegas says the Excalibur and Imperial Palace poker rooms are full of fish, and I've got to play at the Bellagio and Wynn at least once in my life), but I think my table time will be limited, as I do need to study for my GCFA certification test.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Mid month status, Macau bonus

Pai gow hasn't been nearly as good this month. I'm 19-32, only +$75. The First Card Ace bonus at Palace/Chips has been OK; I'm at +$0 in spite of the single $75 loss I mentioned in an earlier posting.

But, hey, I got this $20 bonus in the mail today. See? I think everyone in the neighborhood got these; too bad they track the "one per player" with their player's card.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The oddity of casino laws: La Center poker

I went to Portland for three days this week for a training class, which left me with evening free of family obligations. Time for poker. But where?

Other than some pointless strip club poker (free chips, free rebuy, skanky distractions), there's no legal poker in Portland. The nearest spot is 15 miles north, in La Center. Otherwise, it's 100 miles either way to Spirit Mountain (south) or Lucky Eagle (north).

They way the laws must be written, it sounds like Clark County has banned casinos, except they've left it up to municipalities to determine whether they want casinos within their boundaries. La Center is the only town that allows it, and it appears they've strictly zoned it. There's no casinos within 100 miles, but there's four of them here so close together, that with a baseball and good arm you could stand at any of them and hit any other.

Tuesday night, I played at Last Frontier, brought my super tight game, and ended up down $142. The game was $3/$6 full kill, which means that when a player wins two hands in a row, the bets jump up to $6/$12 for the next hand. My sets ran into straights, my flushes ran into boats, my AK and AQ never hit, and I mis-bet a $6/$12 hand, giving away weakness when I asked to pull back a $6 bet on a $12 round. Several hands were short-handed five or six player games, and my aggression only served to cost me money.

Frustrated, I wandered over to New Phoenix, which had two full tables, then to Palace, which doesn't have poker, then to Chips, where I got into a standard $3/$6 game, decided to play a little looser, and won $40. Still, being down $102 for the night was frustrating.

Wednesday night, after studying for my Thursday exam for a few hours, I tried to decide whether I was up to driving 15 miles to play again. The slightly looser play seemed to work the night before, so I decided that if I could double a $1 buyin at PokerStars' 2¢/4¢ limit tables, I'd be able to do well at the real thing. In 40 minutes of play, I was up $1.04, and hit the road.

Chips La Center had two full kill $3/$6 games going, and although I signed up, I really didn't want to play a full kill game, so I wandered around again, but didn't find anything better. All of the pai gow games charged 5% commission, so no go there.

I returned to Chips, and the waiting list had gotten long enough that they opened a third $3/$6 table, no kill. Nice. Two hours of play, and I was up $158, plus a comped dinner. Yeah, a comped dinner doesn't mean a lot when the office would otherwise pay for it, but still, that's cool. The change in my game? Looser, but not crazy loose. Luck helped a lot, too. I played A2o in late position, hit an ace on the flop, and won with it. An early position 98s hit two pair on the flop and won, as did Q8s on the button, which rivered a full house to beat a flush. Mid-position pocket fives hit a set, and beat a flush when the board paired on the river.

Is my game back? It's too early to say. I'm looking forward to Vegas later this month, though.

Monday, September 10, 2007

First card ace, second card ace, third card ace

I played the First Card Ace coupon again today at Palace. I was dealt another ace, and split them against the dealer's 5.

My first hand became A5, and my second became AA. I split my second hand, so it became A8, and my third hand became A8.

So I've got A5, A8, and A8 against a dealer 5. Very nice. The dealer takes his first card -- OMFG, it's a 6. He takes the next card, and I breathe again: it's a 2. He takes a fourth card, snags an 8, hitting 21, and taking my $75.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

First Card Ace

The Palace and Chips casinos are handing out free "First Card Ace $25 max" coupons the first four hours they're open each day (except Thursdays). I've played them twice, hitting blackjack with the first one (+$37.50) and losing the second (-$25). I'm not sure what the actual value of them is -- my math skills have gotten too rusty -- but one quote of one source says that the first card ace coupon gives a 50.5% player edge. Compare this to the roughly 1% house edge in blackjack or no-commission pai gow. I think it's close in value, percentage-wise, to the match plays.

Speaking of match plays, September is running badly: I'm 10-17, so I'm "only" up $45. I'm going to be traveling several days this month, too (three days in Portland, seven days in Vegas), so I'm not going to match August's +$570, unless the First Card Aces take up the slack, or if Happy Days keeps running out of match plays. Details?

They've finally got their policy and routine down. I walk up to the cage. They recognize me, stamp two match play coupons with the date and time, and hand them over, unless they've run out for the day. Then they direct me to the pit boss, who twice has given me a single $25 match play (value: about $12.25) instead of two $10s (value: about $9.70).

My cousin also gave me a handful of $10 match plays that he'd picked up this week -- he's been eating at Happy Days, but not playing there -- so I'll need to figure out how to extract some value out of them, given the fact that they give them out for free at the cage, and they limit you to using two per day. Maybe I'll just carry an extra, and try and schmooze the dealer into letting me play a third one once in a while.

(Image is of a similar "first card ace" coupon that the Sahara put out a few years ago.)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Tour deGenerate

Today was my daughter's first day of school, so I took it as a vacation day so I could drop her off and pick her up. In between? Poker.

The Palace tourney started too early, and the Happy Days tourney too late, so I looked for other tourneys and events.

First, I stopped by Palace and picked up a "first card ace" coupon, which when played with a $25 bet in blackjack, has a 50% player edge. In other words, unlike a $10 match play with an expected return of about $5, it has an expected return of about $37.50. I'm not certain of this, and am still researching the numbers.

Then I played $3/$6 for about an hour, ending up +$24. Then, off to Bowlero for their 11 a.m. tourney. No luck; the table games are all shut down, a note on the door says payroll checks will be distributed September 3 (yesterday). The lone table running was an Omaha Hi-Lo, but the tournaments are no more.

Next, I stopped by Macau to find out about their tourney. Noon start, $35. I made a quick jaunt to Happy Days to do today's match play (today's version: cage says talk to pit, pit gives one $25 match play, I lose), and return to Macau to play $3/$6 for half an hour, where two of my sets lose to full houses, as does my ace-high flush. Loss: $100.

In the tourney, I played really well, getting in with the best hand every time I should, but (sigh) went out on the bubble, getting my $35 buy-in back. Top four positions paid, and with 6 players left and less, under the gun, with exactly enough to pay the blinds, I pushed all in with AJo, hitting an ace, beating the guy to my left who pushed with his KT, but losing to a flush held by the big stack.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

They don't know their own policy

On Thursday, August 30, I showed the Gambling Journal ad to the cage, got two match play coupons, and played them.

On Friday, August 31, I showed the Gambling Journal ad to the cage, they told me to check with the pit boss, he said the ad wasn't good until September, but would give me a couple match plays after I played for a while.

Today, Saturday, September 1, just after openiing, I showed the Gambling Journal ad to the cage, they called the pit boss over, and the pit boss went to the back to talk to the casino manager. Eventually, they reached this conclusion: take the whole ad in exchange for two match plays.

Never mind the fact that the ad says "mention this ad". I suppose I'll have to collect a few for the times they decide to collect the ad. Silly, but easier than drawing unwanted attention.