Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Whidbey Island Cache Machine

photo by aribix I posted the first draft (.PDF) for the Whidbey Island Cache Machine last Friday. The event's coming up on January 3, and will involve considerably more hiking than previous cache machine events. The views will be well worth it.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Bad poker night

Sitting down at Palace's $3/$6 table last night, I had high hopes. The guy to my right, who had claimed to have turned $60 into the $600 in front of him, was playing the sheriff, paying to see people's cards at the end, because he had the money to burn. Two seats to my left, Sam was having an amazing run of luck, playing any two cards from any position, frequently raising pre-flop with small off-suit non-connectors, and rivering frequently enough to be ahead.

It didn't work out too well. I as down my first $100 in the first 90 minutes, mostly because two hands in a row, I lost to Sam's J5. One hand I had KQ, the board was K55/9/3; the next I had AJ and the board was J93/6/5.

I bought in for another $100, and after whittling away about $30 of it in blinds and limps, finally hit my first win with AA, then my very next hand with KK. The pots were decent sized, and I didn't have to show my hand to win, which surprised me, since most pots were going to the river with three players. Clearly, I had a tight image, they knew when I raised on the turn and river that I wasn't bluffing. About half an hour later I tried to do the same with middle pair/weak kicker, and this time, two people called me down. Bah.

Around 12:30 a.m., I won a good sized pot with trip kings, bringing my stack to $145 (down $55), but over the next hour, that stack got whittled down to $20. The coup de grace was a four-way pot, where I held 6 6, and the board was 4 5 7 / K / 6. Pot odds wouldn't let me get away, raising went crazy, and the winning hand was K 3. Sam, incidentally, had queen high. Down $180 for the night. Bah.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Lakewood casinos open for business

As of 12:23 p.m., the county elections department reports that the voting was 3,259 (38.6%) yes, 5,191 (61.4%) no. The News Tribune called it "rejected" earlier this morning:

Voters widely rejecting proposal to ban casinos in Lakewood

Published: November 5th, 2008 12:30 AM

A proposal to ban minicasinos in Lakewood was failing Tuesday night. Initial counts from the Pierce County Auditor’s Office showed Proposition 1, the city’s first citizen-led initiative, going down by a wide margin.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Gambling Commission rules changes,

There's some big Washington State Gambling Commission rules changes in this quarter's Focus on Gambling newsletter. The big ones:
  • Effective January 1, bet limits on table games are $300 instead of $200.
  • Effective January 1, mini-baccarat is legal. This game has the smallest house edge in the casino. The only better game out there is a limited number of video poker machines, which aren't legal in Washington.
Still on the table for November's Commission meeting:
  • Electronic poker tables
  • Raise the limit on a poker wager from $40 to $500
  • Increase the number of players at a table game, other than poker, from seven to nine
  • A casino that only is running poker tables, and has wager limits at $40 or less, doesn't have to staff a surveillance room.
On a different topic, I'm really curious to see how Lakewood's proposition 1 ends up. I have no sense of which way the populace is leaning. It could easily go 65%/35% either way, and it's such a micro-issue, there's no polls to go by. Best case: it's defeated, which entices a new casino to fill in the hole left by Happy Days, increasing competition and benefiting edge players (me!). Worst case: I have to drive to Lacey to play poker.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Electronic poker tables in Washington?

The Cardroom Connection newsletter for the first half of 2008 was just published by the Washington State Gambling Commission, and mostly it repeated the changes I listed a few weeks ago. However, a new item appears on page 5:

Petition for Rule Change – Electronic Poker Tables

PokerTek, Inc. has submitted a petition for rule change requesting that entirely electronic poker gambling tables be authorized for use in card rooms. The electronic poker table, PokerPro, provides an opportunity to play poker without a center dealer and uses electronic facsimiles of both gambling chips and cards. No physical gambling chips, cards, or a live dealer are used.

I'd heard about these tables a year or so ago, but for some reason never figured I'd see them in Washington. My gut immediately told me, "this would suck," because part of the fun of playing poker in a card room is the feel of the cards and the playing with the chips. However, after a good five minutes of contemplation, I changed my mind. For a slightly-good super-tight player such as myself, the advantage of having more hands per hour, lower rake, and no tipping the dealer makes for a greater player edge. I'll give up playing with bacteria infested chips to get an extra few bucks each trip.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Casino law changes, statewide and local

The May-July "Focus On Gambling" newsletter came out today (.pdf), and it's got news of a big law change, and a few other smaller bits. The big news (and I've already heard radio ads mentioning it) is that casinos can now be open 24 hours five days a week, and for 20 hours the other two days. I'd called this a "good change" in my post about upcoming regulations last April.

The other good proposed change -- the addition of baccarat to the list of permitted casino games -- will be discussed in August.

Also in August, they'll discuss increasing the maximum number of poker players at a table from 10 to 12 (boo!), increasing the tournament fee limit (boo!), and increasing the table game limits from $200 to $500 (meh.)

The Recreational Gaming Association requested that the proposal to increase poker limits from $40 to $500 be put on hold (yay for the delay!). They also

  • withdrew their request to increase the player-supported jackpot admin fee from 10% to 35%. (yay!)
  • withdrew their request to drop the requirement that table games be dealt from a shoe. (bizarre)
  • withdrew their request to eliminate the 5% commission limit for games like Pai Gow and Baccarat. (yay, I guess.)

Locally, the Pierce County Auditor told the folks that they were about 1000 signatures short on their initiative to ban casinos in Lakewood. David Anderson, who's spearheading the campaign, wrote in an e-mail to supporters,

By 12 noon on Friday, August 1, we will need another 1,000 signatures to enable the Initiative to ban casino gambling in Lakewood to make it to the ballot in November. The Pierce County Auditor reviewed the 4,939 signatures we previously submitted and determined there are 2,947 valid signatures. 1,992 signatures were challenged.

We will be meeting with the Auditor on Wednesday, July 23, to determine why over 30 percent of our signatures have been rejected in the hope that we can save some.

I suspect a lot of people who signed the petitions weren't Lakewood residents, or weren't registered voters. They've also had trouble raising funds. The image at right shows the group's donations.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Not even a nice place to visit

Last August, I wrote ("No notels soon?") about the motels in the Ponders/Pac Highway area getting closed down: Rose Garden, Fort Clark, and Vagabond are closed, and Colonial is re-opened and looking much cleaner. At the time, I wrote, "The Biltmor's still open. And the Fort Lewis is in business (and I've noticed it has had a lot less garbage overflowing their dumpster lately). The Western up on 112th is open (which used to be the Quality Inn). Is that it now?"

That list of 3 is now down to 2½. The News Tribune reports today, "The Department of Health announced today that the Biltmore [sic] Motel, at 12701 Pacific Highway Southwest, must vacate 12 units by midnight Friday. It has 28 units overall. The May 27 inspection revealed concerns including the danger of a roof collapse, mold, broken smoke detectors, exposed wiring, unsanitary floors, walls and fixtures, and 'other filthy conditions'" (their bad use of commas, not mine).

Which one's gonna be next? My money's on the Fort Lewis, former home of overflowing dumpsters, tuberculosis carriers, and rapists.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Party's over at PlayersOnly

I hadn't checked since May, but the $200 per month promo at PlayersOnly is done. "This promotion has now been discontinued. We’ll be running every week a new Casino promotion, so please keep checking our Casino promotions page for the updates." Wonder where I'll find my next one?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Long ways to go to make $15

PlayersOnly still has their monthly $200 deposit bonus: deposit $200, get $200 free, play through $8200, and withdraw whatever you have left. Blackjack's the best game available to do this with, but the variance the last two months has been brutal, and my impatience hasn't helped.

In March, playing a flat $5 per hand, I ended up ahead $389. In April, wanting to do just as well, I increased my bets when I fell behind, which made me end up even further behind, and eventually -- several hands short of meeting the wagering requirements, I ended up at $0.

This weekend, learning from my April mistake, I went too far the other direction and played a flat $2 per hand, grinding through 4100 hands. With a standard deviation of 1.2 and a variance of 1.44, then 66% of the time, I'd end up between +$101 and +305. And 90% of the time, I'll end up between -$150 and +$457. I was in the latter variance this time, ending up -$90.

After weighing the hassle of requesting a $110 check, waiting for it to clear, depositing it, and having it as a reminder of my lost $90, I tilted a bit, decided to take it to the baccarat table and place a bet with the absolute lowest house edge in the casino. $110 on the banker. Fortunately, I won, and withdrew $215.

That site's gonna give me an ulcer if June ends up just as icky.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

In my fort

I had to stay home from work today to take care of a sick kid, so I grabbed the hardware I needed from the office and set it up at home. I've got three laptops on three sides of a square table, with the power cords trailing off the fourth edge to a power strip. There's also a couple external hard drives and mice in the mix. This worked fine all day, until about 4:30, when my cat slowly saunters across all three keyboards, and noses my hand. I pull him into my lap, but as soon as I stop paying attention to him, he's back on the table. Finally, he lies down to rest.
I hope he's not contaminating the chain of custody form he's lying on.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Poker tournament: no skill required

Tulalip's 10:30 a.m. tournament structure is the worst I've yet to come across. You start with only 1000 chips, and the rounds are 15 minutes long. Blinds start at 25/50 and go up 25 and 50 each round. That's bad enough, but here's the weak kicker: only four rounds, and then two hands, then the four largest chip stacks are paid.

Moreso than any other tournament, in this one it's critical to build your stack fast. I did a mediocre job of this, and am still questioning if I should have called a caller and the blinds with 33 in middle position. I didn't; it would've incresed my stack by about 20%.

After the four rounds, I was in the final 12 (out of 45), and when I proposed a 10-way split, the regulars shrugged me off as if I was a loony. I got dealt K5 under the gun, and folded it. Three players got knocked out, the final 9 went to the final hand, the three biggest stacks folded, and everyone else went all in. The winner of the all-in fest (not me) cashed 4th.

This tournament requires very little skill. Push high pairs. Call with two paint cards. Get a lucky flop. That's about it.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

How to lose a lot of money in little time

I played my first cash game at Hawks Prairie tonight, and it's a $4/$8 full kill, a little higher than the $3/$6 I'm used to, but I was there, so figured I'd play anyway. The only other table playing was a $4-$40 spread game, way beyond my comfort range.

I bought in for $100 played for about two hours, getting up to $140, then dropping down to about $50 where I sat for a long time. Pocket jacks won, pocket queens lost, and when, on a whim, I played 5 3 under the gun, I split a pot against A5 when the board came A24/3/7.

A bit later, I get dealt T T in mid-late position. Three other players are in, I call, the button calls, the small blind folds, and the big blind checks. Six of us to the flop, $26 in the pot.

T 9 8

The big blind checks, the next player bets, the next player calls, and the player to my right raises. I've gotta get the betting big enough to make flush draws and straight draws a mistake, so I re-raise to $12. Button folds, big blind folds, and the last three players call. $62 in the pot.

I'm hoping for the board to pair to give me a boat (or quads, if it's the ten). Instead, the turn is J.

Clearly, someone's hit their flush draw, and someone's hit their straight draw. The first player bets $8, the next player calls, and the guy to my right calls. There's $86 in the pot, so I'm getting better than 10:1 to call. I assume I've got 10 outs (eights, nines, tens, jacks), so it's an easy call. Even reducing it a bit, I only need to have 5 outs to make this a profitable call, and if I hit one of them, I'm gonna be making a lot with my boat.

The river is a beautiful J

The first two players check, and the guy to my right bets $8. I raise to $16. The other players call. The guy to my right raises another $8. I put my last $8 in the pot. The other players call. The pot is $182. I show my full house, tens full of jacks.

The first player hit the flush, losing. The second player had a queen, for the straight. The guy to my right held J 9, for a full house, jacks full of nines. I go home now.

Still, I feel good about my play. I may be playing a little too tight, which is costing me some hands, but I'm still convinced that tight play is the best play.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Washington State Gambling Commission announces changes

The quarterly Focus on Gambling (.pdf) newsletter has some interesting bits for Q1.

A good change: Today, card room operations are limited to 20 hours a day, seven days a week. Effective July 1, a card room may request permission to be open 24/7 five days a week, and 20 hours for the other two days a week.

Good proposed changes: The WSGC is considering allowing baccarat. Betting on the banker in baccarat is one of the smallest house edges in all casino games.

Bad proposed changes:

  • Increase the number of players allowed at a poker table from 10 to 12. As if it wasn't crowded enough in some card rooms already. I have a vague recollection of sitting at an 11-player table once (illegal?), and it was almost too tight to reach your cards.
  • Increase poker bet limits from $40 to $500. In essence, this pretty much means allowing no-limit hold 'em. I generally suck at NLHE, so this would draw players away from my table. They did this in Florida last year, and the podcasters at Ante Up have talked about what a wild game $2/$5 NLHE is, and implied that it becomes a game of playing all-in or fold when you arrive any time after a game opens.
  • Increase the player-supported jackpot admin fee from 10% to 35%. I hate these jackpots anyway, and now they are considering taking another 25% off the top?
  • Remove the dollar limit on card tournament fees. I don't know what the limit is, but if this passes, it wouldn't surprise me if tournament fees went up across the board. I like my el cheapo tourneys, thankyouverymuch.

"Meh" proposed changes:

  • Increase table game limits from $200 to $500. That would match the Indian casinos, and would likely reduce the number of low-limit tables out there.
  • Drop the requirement that table games be dealt from a shoe. Huh? I don't know why any casino would want this.
  • Eliminate the 5% commission limit for games like Pai Gow and Baccarat. I don't know that any player would stand for a higher commission, so I don't see anyone trying this. Then again, there's some dumb players out there.

I think they have a list of proposed changes every quarter. Usually only a couple of these changes pass. Here's hoping for lots of match play baccarat this fall.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Phil Gordon Freakonomics interview

Phil Gordon was the subject of a long interview for the Freakonomics blog. My favorite bits:

On randomness: "I have a simple theory: change 10 river cards in any poker player’s tournament career and I would bet that they would be a losing tournament player for their career."

On avoiding games with a house edge: "I’m not a “gambler” by nature — I consider myself a “strategic investor.” In fact, what we do at the poker table isn’t very different than what investment professionals do — we just get our results every two minutes instead of every few months or years."

On sunglasses: "I don’t believe in the “dilated pupil tell” and other such nonsense. ... I’ve never worn sunglasses at the table and I think it looks completely stupid and is unnecessary."

On quick Lakewood-style tournaments: "The quicker the blinds escalate, the more chances you should be willing to take. Your stack will be at risk quickly, so you might as well push any marginal edge you have when you have it. If the blinds are escalating slowly, you can afford to give up small positive expectation plays."

On Omaha: "I think that it has a chance of surpassing Holdem as the most popular form of the game in five to eight years. As people become “bored” with Holdem, they’ll naturally progress to P.L.O."

On Rock-Paper-Scissors: "Never go rock on the first throw."

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Biggest Cache Machine ever; lucky; Spooky

The Yakima Cache Machine II was a blast. It's impossible to get solid numbers, but I'm almost certain that this was the biggest cache machine ever. I'm calling it 120 people, since the reservations we made at Old Country Buffet were for 70, they turned everyone else away, and someone told me that as a result, there were 50 more cachers eating dinner next door. Wow.

On top of that, I think my experiment in separating out the stupid micro-caches from the route worked well. As someone pointed out last night, anyone who wanted to get the micros that were near the route certainly wasn't prevented from doing so, and even in my car, we attempted a couple of them that were painfully close to where we were, because they still showed up on the map and on some of the higher end GPSRs.

It's been more than 15 years since I was a passenger on the ride through the Yakima River canyon. I've never ridden through there when there was snow on the hills. I stand by my claim that it's the most beautiful drive in the state.

I expected a few of the caches to have some relatively steep hill climbing, but I didn't expect there to be as many (7+). My legs and feet are still aching 24 hours later.

Was it the best CM ever? I think it might be. YCM I was my all time favorite, but this time there wasn't a really bad one on the route.

Oh, and on the poker side, I played again last night at Casino Caribbean, won $100 in a raffle, and another $63 at the table. When I won the raffle, I had the same dealer at the table who dealt me the quad aces the night before. He was as shocked at my luck as I was.

The drive home... well... When I left, Snoqualmie had traction tires required, and White pass had traction tires advised. The ol' Saturn doesn't take chains (not enough wheel-well clearance), so I'm heading home via The Dalles, Oregon. It's about an extra hour of driving compared to White Pass, which is the way I came over on Friday. No biggie. I got to eat a good pizza burger from Spooky's restaurant in The Dalles, which has free wi-fi, which is allowing me to post this blog entry.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Well, this trip has paid for itself.

I've been playing poker in casinos for something like five years now, and in that time, I've played in casinos at least 73 times (my recordkeeping starts in October 2005).

Every casino I've played in pays out a bonus for hitting four of a kind. Every casino, that is, except the classic Vegas ones (Bellagio and Binions) and the Tampa Hard Rock. And the last time I hit quads? May of 2005 at the Tampa Hard Rock (quad queens).

Tonight I'm at a table in Yakima, at the Caribbean Casino, and I'm down about $60 after losing a pot holding QJ when the board comes 2QJ/Q/K. The other guy had pocket kings, and my full house loses to his full house. I've been doing better at avoiding tilt, though, and soon I get two black aces.

I flop an ace, raise, get some callers, and turn the final ace. I check through the river, because if I don't make it to a showdown, no jackpot.

I got $116 for the quad aces, and another $25 for the high hand of the hour. And then I hit another two full houses over the next 30 minutes, leaving +$247.

Yeah, this trip paid for itself nicely.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Yakima Cache Machine II is Saturday

I'm looking forward to the Yakima Cache Machine II event more than any cache machine in a long time. Maybe it's because the first YCM five years ago was my favorite of the 15 I've organized. Maybe it's because the drive through the Yakima River canyon is, IMHO, the most fun drive in the state -- even better than 101 along Hood Canal, or the Olympic Peninsula loop. Maybe it's because I'm the navigator for a carload of cachers (dsvaughn, GeekGirl, and hydnsek) who are gonna be a barrel of fun. We're even gonna meet up on Friday before the event for a 3-mile, 12-cache hike through Cowiche Canyon.

I'm giddy.

(And yes, Yakima has poker rooms. Maybe it'll cover my hotel room costs.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Still four players

I played for about 4½ hours at Palace on Monday morning, taking a nice spring vacation day. I played well in the tournament, but when the blinds were getting high and my stack was getting low, I got knocked out before the money when I called an all in bet with AKo against QQ.

I then went to the $3/$6 game, and played some of the best poker I've played in months. A big part of it, I think, was I was in a seat that didn't have a good view of a TV screen. I hate those things; they're so distracting.

I held my own for a while. Up $20, down $20, then hit a couple of big pots (like AJ on JAJ flop) to bring me up +$116. A few blinds and a badly played pair of pocket fives brought me back down to +$96, and I left when my brain felt exhausted.

The best hand of the day, though, didn't earn me a big stack. Nope. Here's the situation. I'm in the small blind, and I'm dealt A♦K♥. The big blind to my left only has $2 after he posts his $3 blind. The under the gun player, who seems to be a good player but plays his draws too long, calls the $3. A few callers, and it folds around to the button, who raises to $6. The button's a crazy old Asian guy who has built a pretty good stack by paying whatever it takes to see the flop, and then getting out quickly if the flop misses him, but winning big pots with hands of two random cards.

I re-raise it to $9, the big blind is now all in, the under the gun player calls, and it folds around to the crazy button caps it to $12. I call, the UTG calls, there's $41 in the pots already. Main pot is $20, side pot is $28. Four players.

The flop is K♦T♥J♠ I've got top pair top kicker, and I really only fear AQ. I bet $3, UTG calls, and the button raises. This tells me that he's got a hand, and that UTG probably has a face card. I like my hand though, so I re-raise. UTG calls again, and the button caps it. I call and UTG calls. $85 in the pots. Still four players.

The turn is a Q♣

I'm gleeful, thinking one of the players hit two pair, and the other may have three of a kind, losing to my straight. There's probably another ace out there though, so we'll be splitting the pot. That's OK. If we can keep the third player in, we'll split his money. I bet $6. UTG laughs "I'm good," implying that he's got the ace. He raises. The big blind, who has been sitting back wishing he had more money in the pot, says "I'm good, too." The crazy button laughs and calls. I raise, UTG raises, we all call, and I say "I'm good, too." No way that the four of us have all four aces. $156 in the pot. Still four players.

The river's a rag. We're all laughing now. I bet, UTG raises, button calls, I re-raise, UTG caps it, we all call, and the grand reveal:

It's a four way chop. We each get our money back. The money from the people who limped then folded pre-flop paid for the rake and the tip. I thought this kind of crazy hand only happened online.

(And I'm still not sure why the crazy Asian was calling instead of re-raising. The rake had already maxed out when the pot hit $30.)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy dance

I entered a $1 + $0.10 9-player sit n go tonight, and got knocked out in 6th place. I then signed up for a similar 45-player tourney, and ended up with this:

PokerStars Tournament #80831143, No Limit Hold'em
Buy-In: $1.00/$0.20
45 players
Total Prize Pool: $45.00
Tournament started - 2008/03/14 - 01:42:34 (ET)

Dear LauricT,

You finished the tournament in 2nd place.
A $10.00 award has been credited to your Real Money account.

You earned 52.03 tournament leader points in this tournament. For information about our tournament leader board, see our web site at

Thank you for participating.

Solid play, aggressive with the big stack, picking my battles with the small stack -- I think that's my highest money win in a tourney ever. At one point early in the tournament, I'm dealt QQ under the gun, two middle position players and the button go all in. I consider going all in; I'm getting 4-to-1 on my money, because I've got the biggest stack, but if I lose, I'll be crippled. With three other players in... I fold. The players show 99, JJ, and AA. There's a J on the flop, and no aces or nines show (and no queens, if you're wondering), and I pat myself on the back for a good fold.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Five, but not six

My tournament streak ended in my sixth game, where I lost a third of my stack chasing an open end straight draw when I was dealt 85s in the small blind, and got a flop of 7-6-J. The 4 or 9 never came. After folding for most of 19 hands, I'm slowly getting blinded away, and with less than 18 big blinds left, I'm dealt JTs. I push all in, and get called by two players. No luck, I'm out, down $1.20 for the tournament, but only down $0.80 for the day, having placed third (+$0.40) in another $1.20 tourney earlier. Still feeling good.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Make that four

Hmm... something's going on. In addition to the two back-to-back tournaments where I ended up in the money, I also cashed in the next two I entered, on Wednesday and this afternoon. Sure, they're only micro-limit buy-in tourneys, but placing 18th out of 167, 1st of 9, 2nd of 9, and 1st of 9 ... it's a bit of an ego boost. Certainly, a big part of it has been luck, such as when my KQ♠ knocked out A♠ T♠when a four-diamond board hit.

A bigger part, by far, however, has been playing to get to such a position, and that's mostly because I've been following the small-stack fast tournament strategy that Tom Snyder wrote about in The Poker Tournament Formula, a book I picked up last year* after someone on the defunct Seattle Poker Forum recommended it. To over-simplify, if you've got less than 20 big blinds left, and you're not in the blinds, either fold or go all in. With 21-50 big blinds left, you're a little safer, so there's a few more calling options. With more than 50, you've got breathing room, so play really tight and let the other players knock each other out.

I'd be surprised if the streak lasts much longer, and based on in La Center last September, I'm hoping that I'm able to alternate between tight tournament play and looser cash game play.

But I can enjoy it while it lasts.

* I just re-read a post from last March where I mention this same book. I'd bought it with a gift card that TMIB and Pony had gotten me. I guess that's how I get all my poker books ;-)

** Oh, and I also got my $35 check as reimbursement for my $35 in Happy Days chips. Interesting that it's from the owner's personal account. I suspect I should probably cash it real quick.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

That's two

After a long, long drought, I finally placed in the money in two micro-limit tournaments today and last night. At PlayersOnly, I played in a $0.25 rebuy and add-on tourney, adding on $0.50 during the match. Top 30 positions of about 170 paid, and I ended in 18th place, ending up +$1.20 or so.

This afternoon, I took the $5.11 remaining in my PokerStars account, played a few hands of razz to double it, then played in a 9 player sit-n-go, $1+$0.20. The result:

PokerStars Tournament #79311255, No Limit Hold'em
Buy-In: $1.00/$0.20
9 players
Total Prize Pool: $9.00
Tournament started - 2008/03/01 - 18:07:39 (ET)

Dear LauricT,

You finished the tournament in 1st place.
A $4.50 award has been credited to your Real Money account.

Thank you for participating.

Very nice. I suspect that part of it was that I've been catching up on all the AnteUp podcasts I've missed since last summer, and have been re-reading Lee Jones' Winning Low Limit Hold 'Em, which TMIB nicely bought me for my birthday (well, that's what I used the gift card for). It's the gift that keeps giving :-)

(Screen shot from my bonus hunt last month. Deuces never loses, especially when my 8th card was a 7)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Smattering of stuff

  • After my $504 online bonus hunt win in January (yay,, I lost $200 of it at Palace playing $3/$6. Bah.
  • The odds caught up a little bit for the February bonus hunt. +$104 instead. The EV is +$186, I think.
  • The Yakima Cache Machine II is scheduled for March 29.
  • Shortly after Happy Days' closure, I contacted the state gaming commission to see what I should do with my $35 in chips. After a few missteps, they had the owner of the casino give me a call, and I'll be exchanging them for cash sometime soon.
  • Back on December 4, I was one of only two people who spoke in favor of Lakewood casinos at a gambling forum. This didn't surprise me, because most of the invitations went out to church groups, and it was hosted by the Tillicum/Woodbrook Neighborhood Association, whose leader is on the record of opposing gambling. The other person who spoke was the casino manager at Lakewood's Macau Casino. From what I understand, the city of Lakewood takes a B&O tax of 11% of gross receipts, meaning that when you play a $10 hand of blackjack, although the casino has a 1.5% edge over you (your expected return is $9.85), the city has an 11% edge over the casino (the casino's expected return is $8.90, plus 15¢ from the player). To be profitable they've got to count on the player cycling through their money eight times before cashing out (8 * 15¢ = $1.20, which earns them 10¢ after paying the state $1.10).
  • Apparently, dozens of casino employees attended a hearing on the future of casinos in Lakewood on February 6. I'd hoped to attend, but couldn't make it. The advisory board who heard their statements agrees with them, and on Wednesday, recommended to the city council that the moratorium on new casinos in Lakewood be lifted. It's up to the city council now, who can do whatever they want, in spite of the advisory board's advice.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Geocaches save lives

Two happy ending stories:

A pair of experienced climber on Mount Hood got caught by a storm, so aborted their attempt to summit the mountain, and then missed their turn on the way down. They built a snow cave overnight, and when they woke up, they spotted a piece of flagging tape in a tree, connected to a water bottle with this cache inside -- with its own coordinates. When they warmed up their cell phones and got a call from the sheriff, they were able to tell exactly where they were. (CNN video, NW Cable News.) KOMO, as usual, botched the story and instead says they found a GPS hanging from a tree.

A woman and her dog are in an off-leash park in High Bridge, New Jersey. The dog falls through the icy lake, and the woman goes in after him. She gives up and runs to the empty parking lot looking for help. Just arriving: a cacher looking for this cache. While the woman goes in after her dog again, he calls the park police, who save the dog and the woman.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Fourth best night ever

Back in the summer of 2006, the heyday of bonus hunting, before the UIGEA scared off all the online casinos from taking US players, I had some good winning days:

  • $900 from Vegas Strip Casino (it took 15 days after wagering was complete to get the money in Neteller)
  • $790 from Prism (which took five weeks to extract from their accounting department, and they've spammed me incessantly ever since)
  • $610 from Silver Sands Casino (which showed up a couple days later)
But since the UIGEA, it's been slim pickings out there. This week, though, I played the Wednesday bonus at PlayersOnly, and netted +$504. This is better than the $400 I made from the same casino last November.

Now that's a good start for the year. They limit me to one withdrawal a month, and I did one January 2, so I'll need to wait a couple of weeks before I get cash in hand. I hope they stay in business that long.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Cache Machine roundup

My daughter and I got 47 caches in Vancouver this weekend, starting in a group of about 30 people at 7:15 a.m. on Saturday, then in and between groups for the next seven hours. We took a brief rest at the hotel, then hit the road again to get three more before dinner at 5:15. We had about 60 people at dinner, and I got several e-mails and talked to a few people who wouldn't be making it to dinner. I'm guessing roughly 75 people attended.

I haven't decided whether I like lamp post micro-caches less or just slightly more than micros in the woods, which I hate. This cache machine had a lot of them. Unfortunately, when my goal is to get to as many neat places in a day as possible, if a microcache is there, I want to go there, too. And it's tough to tell what spot might be neat (e.g., a 180-degree view of the Columbia River and the Portland Airport, but the cache is a film canister under a trash can) and what spot might not be (e.g., a Humane Society office with the non-stop whining and barking of several soon-to-be doomed dogs, but the cache is a large ammo can next to a tree.)

More importantly, I spent a very nice weekend with my daughter, just her and me, exploring, laughing, picking on each other, and enjoying each others' company. I'll remember this weekend for a long time because of that.

The event got mentioned in another cacher's log, Rose Red.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Happy Days are gone again

On Wednesday, I wrote, "Happy Days is back to their ask-at-the-cage 2x$10 match plays for January. Apparently, I will be, too." Wednesday evening, I went 0-2 in blackjack match plays, down $20.

On Thursday, I showed up to a sign on the locked door with three words: "Casino is closed."

Today, the News Tribune reports:

Employees stunned by casino's abrupt closing
A minicasino in Lakewood, Wash. suddenly closed its doors Thursday after a vendor reclaimed equipment and some unpaid employees angrily confronted the owner, who later locked them out of the building.

Owner Jerry Bolser said he lost $3 million to $4 million and won't reopen because it would be "throwing good money after bad.

"Am I disappointed?" he said. "You bet."

Some employees, who hadn't been paid in weeks, had words with Bolser on Thursday just before a planned 11 a.m. opening. One manager, Jeff Young, said he shouted at Bolser, demanding that his employees get paid before they did any more work.

He said Bolser walked into his office and shut the door. Bolser said he needed to talk to his lawyer on the phone.
The minicasino had paid $167,000 in back gambling tax payments in November, but still owed the city more than $29,000 in interest and late payment penalties. Lakewood officials moved to revoke the minicasino's's business license, but it remained open while owners appealed to a hearings examiner.

Happy Days also violated a settlement agreement with the state Gambling Commission by failing to make a payment Thursday. The minicasino owed the state agency more than $24,000 for failing to disclose financial statements.

The business signed a settlement agreement Dec. 17 and paid about half of the amount then, said commission spokeswoman Susan Arland. The second payment of $12,082 was due Thursday and wasn't made, she said.

Happy Days workers last week filed 38 complaints with the state Department of Labor and Industries about not receiving paychecks.

I've got $35 in chips. I've e-mailed the state gambling commission to see what the chips are good for, other than selling to collectors on Ebay. I'm also really curious about their $50,000 player-banked poker jackpot. That's supposed to be distributed somehow.

My guess is that the big money will be donated: WAC 230-15-415, Removing a player-supported jackpot from play says, "(2) If licensees stop operating card games or fail to maintain a valid card game license, they must immediately distribute all PSJ funds to the Washington State Council on Problem Gambling."

(Hey, it's not like I didn't have an inkling of this risk last June.)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Grab bag: sober poker, cache machine, and the wrong side of SD

It's been a couple of weeks. Time for a few bullet points to catch up:

  • Sober players make bad opponents: I played at Palace again just before Christmas; several of the players were home on Christmas break from college or wherever, they brought their A game, and they weren't drinking. I was up about $70 after two hours, then the deck ran cold, I ran into a set, and walked away from the table down $100. Bah.
  • Cache machine is Saturday: I've got the plans and route finalized for the Vancouver (WA) Cache Machine event, and this one feels like it's gonna be one of the better ones of the 14 I've organized. I got a call from the Vancouver PD today in response to a couple of questions I had about parking locations, and they were happy to be aware that we were coming to town. The route seems like it's pretty solid, the caches seem doable, and it's a good mix of micros, pocket parks, and quarter mile trail jaunts, with some history lessons tossed in. Should be fun.
  • Bad bell curve. No biscuit: I played through my December $200 bonus at PlayersOnly last night -- and lost $250. I don't have my spreadsheet with me right now, but that's close to being 2 standard deviations off of the expected result. I'm OK with that, because even when you're gambling with a positive expectation wager, you're still gambling. Sometimes, rarely, the coin will come up heads 10 times in a row.
  • Back to Happy: This month's Gambling Journal says that Happy Days is back to their ask-at-the-cage 2x$10 match plays for January. Apparently, I will be, too.
  • ...and taxes: I closed down my 2007 spreadsheet last night with a third year of profitability. If you add the the PlayersOnly bonuses and the Happy Days match play bonuses together, that's pretty much my profit for the year. Everything else seems to be a wash: poker wins, poker losses, $30 on the ponies, a few bucks at charity bingo. Not as good as 2006 or (/me gets a dreamy look) the pre-UIGEA 2005 year, but still, it's in the low positive 4-figures for the year. It'll pay for a family vacation. Taxes take a small chunk of it, but tax on fun money hurts less than tax on money I really worked for.