Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act hits my bank

From my bank's statement today:

Not that it'll matter much, since all the good bonuses dried up a couple years ago, and I've been living off the same PokerStars deposit since 2006, but still... that just ain't right.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The (Un) Lucky Dog closes

The Lucky Dog Casino on Hood Canal, which I referred to in 2006 as "the coziest crappiest only casino on the canal", is closing, according to the Kitsap Sun.

The owners blame the recession. I suspect it's more the fact that it's a weak casino in a bad location, particularly in light of the fact that it's the only indian casino to close during the recession. When it opened, it was slot machines only. When I checked it out in 2006, they had slots, blackjack, pai gow, and 3 card poker. They didn't open a poker room until mid-2007, and although I've stopped in a few times since then, I've never seen a game actually being played. The last time I was there, I looked for the poker room, but I think it'd been replaced with pool tables.

Beyond that, Little Creek Casino has more games, is more luxurious, and is only 16 minutes away. It's like comparing Happy Days to Emerald Queen. I get the distinct impression that the people who live near the Lucky Dog don't mind a few minutes of driving. If I lived in the area, I'd drive past the Lucky Dog every time, unless they had better promotions or poker tournaments. I don't recall that being the case.

Also interesting in the article: the Seattle Times is quoted as saying that statewide tribal casinos netted $2.11 billion in 2008, up from $1.96 billion in 2007, but that Snoqualmie Casino's revenue is currently only a quarter of what they expected.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

What a trip - Vegas and the Inland Empire

It's been quite the week. If you've followed my Twitter feed, you know I've been all over Vegas and southern California's Inland Empire. Here's the details.

I drove up to Bellingham (about 130 miles each way) to catch an Allegiant Air flight to Vegas. For a total price of $232, I got one round trip ticket, a room at El Cortez, and one additional companion ticket for free. It would have been more expensive to get two tickets without the El Cortez room, so I considered that to be a throw-away room.

My good friends Bill and Becca had already flown down to Vegas earlier in the day from SeaTac, and Becca had checked us into our hotel room at Planet Hollywood, at $54 a night, including a free bottle of booze per night, $25 buffet credit, and $40 in freeplay. The $20 trick failed -- the desk clerk told them "We don't do that; that's why we're still in business." Jerk.

Kim and I, however, were stuck at the Bellingham airport, because lightning had kept our plane grounded in Vegas. Fortunately, I had my laptop with me, so 90 minutes after our scheduled departure time, and learning that our plane had just left Vegas to pick us up, I ordered a pizza from Dominos, getting an evil look from my hungry cohorts in the waiting area.

The plane finally arrived, and after an uneventful flight, and after not getting longhauled by the cabbie, we arrived at P-Ho, woke up Becca at 2:30 AM to get our key, and checked into room 2764. Excellent. It's the Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey themed room. For our first date, Kim and I (and several dozen people from local BBSes) had seen Excellent Adventure, so this seemed pleasingly appropriate. But tonight.. zzzzz..

The next morning, I let Kim sleep in while I went down to the P-Ho Starbucks to chat with Bill and Becca. From there, we wandered over to Bill's Gambling Hall and Badly Painted Awning Emporium to check out the Tix4Tonight booth and see what's worth seeing. The line was too long, so after winning $5 from R2D2, I went back to the P-Ho to wake up Kim while B&B continued on to the Forum Shops to get an iPhone charging cable.

We met up again at the [begin Thurston Howell voice] Belahhhgio [/end voice] and I won $85 at the table games, then lost $20 on the slots. We wandered the conservatory, then headed over to the Flamingo, where Kim and I promptly lost $100 at 3 Card Poker. On the advice of a caller to the FiveHundyByMidnight podcast, we went back to the Bellahhhgio and got a table on the patio at Olives at 2:30. Lunch prices, and you still get the fountain show at 3:00 and 3:30. We got the fountain show, all right -- the finale of the 3:00 show drifted heavy droplets across our table. It. Was. Awesome. As was the food. I'd highly recommend this.

From there, we hopped a cab to Sahara, where the four of us looked forward to cheap poker against bad players. Unfortunately, only 3 seats were open (Kim playes slots instead), and worse, the bad players don't seem to hang out at Sahara at 4:00 on Monday afternoons. Lost $9. We took a cab back to the P-Ho to freshen up for dinner, and I'm pretty sure I got longhauled after the driver talked me into taking Koval instead of the Strip due to construction on Harmon.

We grabbed another cab to Mandalay Bay and had dinner at Strip Steak. My steak was good, but not spectacular. Bill, however, is a scotch snob, and was very pleased with the flight of scotch that he ordered. After dinner, we wandered through the Luxor and up to MGM, where Bill and I played the plastic ponies of Sigma Derby ("the stupidest thing I've ever done with $5" he said; I ended up ahead 50¢), and then played for a couple hours in their poker room. I ended down $17 there, and began wondering where my poker skills have disappeared to. Meanwhile, the women wandered back to the P-Ho, picking up drink mixers on the way and grabbing our free bottles of booze.

Late. Time for bed. Tuesday's gonna be busy.

We're up in time for 10:00 breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi, which was good, as usual. We do a slow wander up the stripm ending up at the Mirage tram and riding into TI, where Bill plays blackjack, and Kim and I lose another $100 at 3 Card Poker. The women decide to head back to the P-Ho for a nap, and after I lose $40 at the blackjack tables, Bill and I take the Deuce downtown.

We first stop in at Binion's, where Bill and I sign into a $2/$4 limit game, I lose $29, and Bill makes the best checkraise ever. That's a story for him to tell.

Then, we head to the El Cortez to check out my free room. To my surprise, I get a room upgrade and a $25 dining credit. Checking in with Bill and with no luggage, I suspect the clerk thinks I'm gay. *snicker.* NTTAWWT. The room turns out to be nicer than I expected, kind of a shabby Holiday Inn quality, but yeah, I could see staying here. We then head to Fitzgerald's, where I hit quad 3's on Double Bonus video poker for $20, then lose $10 of it on the slots.

On the way back to the bus, we call the wives, and pick up tickets to Fab Four Live. This was a fun show, worth the half price tickets, but probably not for full price. We then went to Margaritaville and watched the volcano blow, twice, and then wandered up to Caesars and rode the spiral escalators. Then, back to P-Ho for the nightly booze line. Holly Madison and her doggy were in line behind me. Either she's an attention seeker, or even the headlining star of the casino's headline show doesn't get celebrity treatment at Planet Holly.

We head up to Bill and Becca's room, drink a little, then head to bed.

We use our buffet credits at Spice Market for breakfast (very good), then bid Bill and Becca goodbye. Kim heads to the pool to do some sunning, and I use the $40 freeplay coupons at slots and roulette, ending up ahead $71. As I'm doing this, I get a tweet from @LuxorLV: "How many Twitterers do we have in Las Vegas right now? If I were to say meet me at Luxor at 2 pm for a free gift how many of u would come?" I show up at 2:00 and get a Dexter DVD and $10 match play (which I turn into $8 cash).

I meet up with Kim again at 3:00, after waiting in the 103° shadeless heat for the Deuce, across from Luxor (the tram between Luxor and Excalibur was down). We wander down to the Flamingo and check out Nathan Burton's show. Fun, and I figured that with the free buffet included, it'd be well worth the $20 ticket. It is alone worth the $20. The buffet, we'll learn tomorrow, is a negative on the balance sheet.

We've got a bunch of downtown coupons to use, and Kim wants to see the Binion's $1,000,000, so we hop the bus downtown again. I try to impress her with the El Cortez coffee shop (my $25 credit covers the $24.92 bill), the slots at Binions (I lose $6 with a match play), and free tickets to Kevin Burke's show at Fitzgerald's, but she mostly spends the time downtown coughing from all the cigarette smoke. Eventually, we escape downtown (though I did see a few minutes of the Fremont Street light show), and head back to the P-Ho.

We stop for a kiss in front of the Bellahhhgio fountains, grab our fourth and final bottle of booze, Kim heads to bed, and I head to the poker room. Over the next three hours, I win $55, watch three hookers get escorted out, and see a parade of nightclub-bound women wander past with necklines so low that one of them actually popped out. Ahh, Vegas. It pays to play tables late at night, where everyone else is drinking.

It's our last half-day there. We walked up to Coke and M&M world to get a few gifts, and it's so dang hot we take the bus back to the Flamingo for a brunch buffet. Big mistake. At free, it's way overpriced. The ribs are like chunks of lumber slathered in BBQ paste. The waffles are like styrofoam. The drinks take 10 minutes to arrive. And the swarming flies remind us that just outside the window is a moat of flamingo poo. Big mistake. Should've followed FiveHundy's advice. (And table service? It's telling that we forgot the small bag of gifts on the table, wandered around the flamingo exhibit for 20 minutes, then made it out to Margaritaville before realizing we'd left it behind. When I went to pick it up, the table was untouched.)

We check out, catch a cab from P-Ho to the airport, and have an uneventful flight and drive home, giving me 12 hours before I have to be in a meeting in southern California.

My flight to the Ontario airport was uneventful, and I made it to my 11 AM meeting 30 minutes early. My work went quick and trouble-free, so I grabbed a late lunch at In-N-Out, then headed to the San Manuel casino for some $2/$4 poker. After several hours of play, and frustratingly down $77, I hit the road and made it to my hotel in Palm Springs just before dark. Grabbed dinner, surfed the web, and went to bed.

Saturday morning, I drove to the Agua Caliente casino, played the $3/$6 limit game, and lost my $100 buy-in in just over an hour. I'm still holding onto overcards too long (I've gotta learn to fold AK when the flop comes 579). I'm playing the right starting hands; it's my aggression that's losing me money when I miss the flop, or when someone playing an unexpected hand catches up. I'm grumpy.

To cool down before my flight, I drive towards the mountain that seems to be planted right at the edge of town. When I get there, I'm surprised. Yup. There's a mountain here. Looks like a near-vertical wall. And there's no town that direction. Google's topo maps show why -- less than 7 miles away is San Jacinto Peak at 10,804 feet. I'm at about 520. There's a trail here, but there's no telling where it leads. I should've looked for a geocache (there's one 100 feet from where I parked), but it was 104°, and that's too warm to do anything. I grabbed lunch at Taco Del Mar instead, used the airport's free wi-fi to post the start of the Tri-Cities cache machine page, and had an uneventful flight home.

Exhausted? Heck, yeah. Did I have fun? Heck, yeah. Would I do it again? Once I learn to play poker, heck, yeah.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Goofy gambling laws

Part of the fun of playing poker and other games in states other than Vegas and Washington is the unusual hoops the casino has to go through to allow gambling. In Washington, as you may know, the slot machines and video poker machines are really "video lottery terminals", which pull virtual scratch tickets from a virtual pile of pre-programmed prizes, then animate the reels to match the prize.

In Wisconsin, it's virtual bingo. A virtual card is drawn from a virtual pile, a set of X bingo balls is selected, and the pattern they make on the card determines the payout. The reels are then animated to match that payout.

I just experienced Arkansas slot machines at the Oaklawn racetrack. Buttons numbered 1-10 are lit up, and you select three of them. A horse race is selected from what must be a very deep pool of races (I saw some going back to 2002). If the finish of the race matches some or all of your picks, you win. The reels are animated to match that payout, as a 4-second clip of the finish race is shown in a little 2x3 windown on the screen. They call it "instant racing". The alternative is a bank of slot machines that spins the reels twice -- you pick which reels to hold after the first spin.

Also, to play poker, I had to sign up for the players club, load the players club card up with money, then use that card at an electronic poker table (no human dealer, no real chips, no real cards -- just 10 touch screens and a center screen). What a hassle. The only game they spread was $1/$2 no-limit hold 'em, which, I'll admit, I prefer a lot less than limit games. I left $100 lighter. Poor Arkansans.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

WSGC: All in for $500? Oops.

Back in May, in response to the Washington State Gambling Commission raising the all-in bet limit, I pointed out the following oddity of the rule:

You're holding pocket aces, and you've got $600 in chips in front of you. What can you bet while still complying with the law? Remember, "the maximum amount of a single wager must not exceed $40, except that an all-in wager ... may not exceed $500."

I think you're stuck tossing in $40, but that doesn't seem right at all."

Well, this quarter's WSGC newsletter is out, and they admit they were confused, too. They write:

The change allows "all in" wagers, only, to exceed the $40 poker wagering limit. The rule does not allow players to make call or matching wagers exceeding the $40 limit. Additionally, the rule is ambiguous as to who is eligible to make an all-in wager. For example, if a player has $550, could they wager $500, or, would they be ineligible to place the all-in wager? In other words, does a player have to have $500 or less to be able to place the all-in wager? Prior to the "all in" wager change, all [poker room] wagers were limited to $40.

Their proposed solution, which I expect they'll fast-track: removing the "all in" reference, allowing the rule to revert back to the $40 limit.

No other big news this time, except that they clarified that a poker room supervisor is allowed to accept tips.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Ruleslawyer rule number 1: Know the rules

The situation is as follows: It's late in a $1 + $0.10 single table double-or-nothing Omaha tournament. Top five positions pay $2.00 each, and the game ends once the 6th player is eliminated. There are six players remaining. On the button is the small stack, Eye Candy X, with 245. I've got 320 UTG, and blinds are 200/400. (See the attached screen shot for clarification.) I'm dealt A K J 6. I'm going to be in with a random hand next time, or this hand now, and this isn't a terrible Omaha hand. I'm all-in for my 320.

As I'd expect, the big stack to my left calls, cutoff folds, and Eye Candy X folds pushed his 245 into the pot. What is he thinking? There's absolutely no reason for him to get involved in this pot, unless he's certain that his hand is good enough to beat the three players who are already in, plus the small blind if they call. There's no way to be certain of that, so even if he's holding AAKK there, folding is the right move.

Small blind folds, the board is irrelevant, as the bigger stacks correctly just call it down. The big stack to my left wins, and Eye Candy X and I are eliminated on the same hand.

The rule in this case: "5. If two or more players are eliminated on the same hand, the player with more chips at the beginning of the hand is placed higher." I started with 320. Eye Candy X started with 245. He goes out in 6th. I go out in 5th. The remaining four players tie for first. I and the other four players each get $2.00. Eye Candy X gets nothing.

Monday, May 04, 2009

WA rules update: No electronic poker tables; all in for $500

The April 2009 issue of the Washington State Gambling Commission's Focus on Gambling newsletter is out today. Poker-related items include:
  • Minors will now be fined up to $125 and 4 days community service for gambling. The governor is expected to sign this bill. Currently, only those to allow minors to gamble are penalized; there is no punishment for minors.
  • The WSGC did not approve PokerTek's electronic tables. We won't be seeing them around here any time soon.
  • There's a rule change up for action in July, allowing quarters or 50¢ pieces to be used for the rake. I expect this will actually reduce the rake a little bit.
And here's the big one: Currently, WAC 230-15-135(1)(c) states that the maximum amount of a single poker wager must be $40 or less. Effective July 1, the limit is the same, except that a player may go all-in in Texas Hold'em for $500 or less, if they have no more than $500 remaining. This is at a way higher level than I'd ever play at, but I'm trying to figure out how this would work. Assuming a $2-$40 spread game, which is the closest we have to No-Limit Hold 'Em off the reservations, we could get a round of:

Small blind: $1
Big Blind: $2
UTG: $40
UTG+1: Call $40, raise $40
Middle position: "All-in for $250"
Fold, fold, fold, and it's to you on the button. You're holding pocket aces, and you've got $600 in chips in front of you. What can you bet while still complying with the law? Remember, "the maximum amount of a single wager must not exceed $40, except that an all-in wager ... may not exceed $500."

I think you're stuck tossing in $40, but that doesn't seem right at all.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Fish in Vegas and L.A.

C'mon get in the pot, fish Work sent me on a trip to Las Vegas and Los Angeles to do some data collection. Vegas was Tuesday, L.A. was Wednesday. Wrapped around this was a vacation day Monday and a buffer day yesterday, which gave me quite a bit of time to splash around the poker tables.

End result: up $123 in Vegas, and up $86 in L.A., for a net of +$209.

Before I left, I took a look at the reviews of the Vegas poker rooms at, and after sorting them by the weakness of the competition, made myself a to-do list: hit the soft poker rooms at MGM , Venetian , Bally's , Fitzgerald's , Bill's , O'Sheas , and Sahara .

I also planned to play 25¢ roulette at the Gold Spike, play video poker at The Palms , play Sigma Derby at MGM , visit the Pinball museum , and see Watchmen .

I got less than half this list done.

My plane got in two hours late on Sunday, at about 10:00 p.m. My luggage didn't arrive until the next day -- it took a detour to Washington, DC.

I took a shuttle to the Sahara, and tried the $20 trick at the front desk. For my $20, I was able to upgrade from their el cheapo $20 room to their top of the line ($39) premium room for 3 nights. The clerk also gave me a $10 off café coupon. Cha ching! I dropped my bags off in the room, then headed down to the poker room.

The Sahara's an old hotel -- according to their stationery, they're 55 years old -- and the place really oozes the retro mafia vibe. That's not a bad thing. The poker room is a good-sized 16 table affair, with some ugly fluorescent lighting and tournaments going on around the clock. I sat down at one of the only two non-tournament tables going, a $2/$4 limit hold 'em game. Strangely, there was only a single $2 blind. Players were as weak as promised. A couple hours later, tired, I headed back to the room $96 richer.

The next day, Monday, was my vacation day. I slept in until about 8:30, had a leisurely breakfast at the counter of the Poodle Dog-like Caravan Café, then hopped the monorail to pick up my rental car from Wynn. Sad thing is, the monorail doesn't get close to Wynn, so it was a long (but enjoyable) meandering stroll back up from Harrah's. I hopped in the car and drove downtown.

The Gold Spike, where I'd wanted to play 25¢ roulette, was further out of downtown and dingier than I expected. Parking was inconvenient, so I never made it there. Instead, I wandered into the Fitzgeralds poker room, but they didn't expect a game to get started until noon. I donated $20 to their slot machines, then wandered down Fremont Street to El Cortez, and when I saw that they also had roulette for a quarter, I was in. Yes, that game has lousy odds -- it's my weakness. I justify it by telling myself that it's a slow moving game, so the loss per hour is way less than most other games in the casino. I played 20 spins (about an hour), leaving $5 poorer than when I came in. Next stop: MGM.

Sigma Derby: Go, plastic horse, go!Sigma Derby is the most-loved game of the listeners to the Five Hundy By Midnight podcast, and consists of five mechanical horses racing around a cheesy plastic track every 90 seconds or so. It's one of the only coin-op games I saw the whole week, and at 25¢ a wager, it's worth every cent. The Low Roller in Sin City blog has some more good photos and YouTube video. The only remaining Sigma Derby machine is at the MGM, and I pumped $10 into it. Good times.

I then went to the MGM poker room and played a $2/$4 limit game, with blinds of $1 and $2, as it should be. The poker tables at the MGM are, physically, the nicest tables I've ever played at. Better than the Bellagio. Better than Wynn. Yeah, they're that good. The padded rail of the table has cup holders built in. There is a three-inch wide ring of marble around inside of the the rail, which smooth, cool, and super-flat -- a great place to stack chips. Some players complain it makes their chips slide around, but I didn't experience that. The raised, padded felt has a thick, bright yellow commitment line. In addition to the standard auto-shuffler, each table has a networked computerized display that allows the dealer to let the brush know when a seat is open, to call the floorman, or to call for drinks. The same system is also used for their player's club members to check in and out of a table. The only problem is the players are a little better than I expected; I left ahead only $5 after two hours of play.MGM Tables: Rich, corinthian marble

Back to the hotel room, and my luggage arrived. A quick shower, and I headed out again, first grabbing dinner at Chipotlé (thanks, Cha Cha), then on to the Bally's $3/$6 limit game. The poker room there is right on the casino floor, next to the craps and roulette tables, so it gets a lot of players who think, "hey, I've seen this game on TV, I should give it a try." I like this a lot. The room felt a bit disorganized -- the brush added me to the wait list, told me it'd be about 30 minutes, then called me back about 45 seconds later to point me to my seat. The players are wild. The noise from the band makes it hard to hear the dealer. Bit I played a couple hours and left $54 richer, so no complaints, really.

I wandered over to the Bellagio fountains and watched them twice -- one Rachmaninov piece, and one Elton John song (which I mis-Twittered as Manilow). Then to the Mirage volcano, which was down for repair. Next stop: the Venetian. I looked in on the poker room, and saw that there was an extensive wait list for their low limit hold 'em games. I dropped $1 on their slots, wandered back to the poker room, and decided that since it was after midnight, I should probably head to bed.

I woke up early Tuesday morning, and drove to the location for my 10:00 meeting south of town, arriving at about 8:15. Having almost two hours to waste, I grabbed my first breakfast ever at Sonic (quite good), then drove to the nearby Green Valley Ranch casino, and on their Star Trek slots, won back the $1 I'd lost at Venetian.

After the long day working, I dropped off my gear in my room, then headed to Treasure Island. I'd read a discussion on that they tend to have a low limit game running after 6:00 every day, and had a new bonus-spin wheel when you get a specific hand. I signed up on TI's list, but after two hours of waiting (and losing $20 in their slots), no game had started, so I headed back to the Sahara and played until 10:30, winning $23. A quick dinner at the Caravan Café, then off to bed.

Wednesday morning came early. 2:45, to be exact. I have a 6:00 a.m. flight to catch to L.A. The flight, the drive, and the arrival was uneventful, except that I was an hour early for my 10:00 a.m. meeting. Another long day working, finally getting out of there at about 6:30 p.m.

I checked into the Holiday Inn (under heavy construction), and then drove over to the nearby Hollywood Park casino. Worst. Casino. Ever. Imagine a high-ceilinged airport waiting area. Not a nice airport, though; think of LAX before they did any remodels. Add the scent of hundreds of humid people. Add the blinking lights and arcade machines of Chuck E. Cheeses. Toss in a loud guy on a microphone who never stops. Sprinkle heavily with the air of degenerate desperation. Their $1/$2 game has the bizzare structure of a $2 big blind, $1 small blind, and a $1 button payment that plays. Rake is $1 + 10% up to $5 total. I don't know what number was higher:

  • the average number of players to the flop,
  • the number of missing fingers at the table,
  • the number of missing front teeth at the table,
  • the number of games that didn't result in a showdown at the river, or
  • the number of games a really clueless newbie saw before losing his $40 buy-in
I suspect it's the missing fingers, but I'm not sure of that. After 90 minutes, I got out of there with $75 more in my pocket and a bad taste in my mouth. I got rid of the bad taste with dinner from Panda on a Stick and an episode of Dollhouse on Hulu.

Poker at The Bike: Ignore the electronic table, folks.Thursday morning, my plane wasn't scheduled to leave until 5:00, so I slept in until 8:30, then drove to the Bicycle Casino, where I last played two years ago. At the time, I described the rake as "insanely huge" at $2.50 for any pot above $5. They've since raised it to $4+$1. I literally saw a guy win a $7 pot which was checked to the river, but he only got $2 of it, because the casino took the rest. I played $3/$6 Omaha 8 for the first time ever, other than online. The guys at the Ante Up podcast say that the split games like Omaha 8 really bring out the argumentative players, and from what I saw, I can't disagree. Apparently, he was upset that the dealer was trying to split money he hadn't put in the pot. Whatever.

I played for a few hours, was up $65 or so, then dropped down to -$10. I jumped over to a $40 buy-in $1/$2 no limit game. This was also a first, because the only no limit games I've played have been online or in someone's house. I was down $11 when they announced a $3/$6 limit game was opening, so I jumped to that table -- as did only two other players. The game never started, I grabbed some lunch, and with about an hour to go before I needed to roll to the airport, I jumped back into the no limit game, leaving up $32 this time, or up $11 for the visit.

The flight home was mediocre. The TSA security theater at LAX pulled my bag full of electronics aside for hand inspection, even though it had gone through SEA and LAS with nor problems. The hand inspection set off the chemical detector. A Michael Moore look-alike gave me a TSA courtesy rub-down. I don't feel any safer; I now know what parts of my body can hide contraband. The plane was delayed at both LAX (missing crew) and SFO (no plane).

It was a very profitable trip. Must do again some time. But it's also good to be back in the rain.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Happy Days: here again?

From Lakewood City Councilman Walter Neary's blog, Neary-Sighted:

Tonight's Meeting: The Lakewood City Council will hear comment tonight [February 17] about a moratorium about mini-casinos. This is a big subject that defies the simplicity of one blog posting, but I mention the meeting at 7 p.m. tonight in case anyone wants to listen. What should be interesting tonight is that we will likely hear from the folks who operated Happy Days on Bridgeport. They want to reopen. I look forward to hearing from all sides on this one.
I wish them lots of luck. When they closed 13 months ago, they still owed taxes to the city and fines to the state gambling commission. But their liberal match play policy was a big part of my 2007 gambling winnings, so I'm hoping they can persuade the council to let them get back in business.

Monday, February 09, 2009

No Vacancy

The Suburban Times reports this morning that last week the City of Lakewood:
  • Issued a Notice and Order revoking the business license for the Vagabond Motel, 10005 South Tacoma Way. This action was sought because of increasing levels of criminal activity occurring at the motel. The revocation has been appealed and will be before the City's Hearing Examiner later this month.
  • Issued a Notice and Order revoking the business license for the Budget Inn, 9915 South Tacoma Way. The motel had high numbers of serious calls for police service. The owner did not appeal the revocation and as of this date, the motel remains closed.

I'd previously noted that in August 2007, the health department closed down the Vagabond and shortly thereafter closed Budget (and Fort Clarke, and Rose Garden). To quote Firefly, "come a day there won't be room for naughty men like us to slip about at all." Good thing, too.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Avoid ProMax Supply (a.k.a. Crazy Dave's Toolshed)

On December 15, I ordered a birdhouse from Crazy Dave's Toolshed ("CrazyDavesToolShed"), via Amazon merchants. The delivery estimate was Dec 19-24.

They shipped via FedEx ground on Dec 22 with delivery expected December 31. Due to snow, it arrived on Jan 3. The four day weather delay is excusable. The 7-day delay in shipping it is not.

I e-mailed them in late December, asking for reimbursement of shipping costs. I never heard back.

January 5, I left them a 1-star review on Amazon: "Ordered December 15, delivery estimate was Dec 19-24. They shipped ground on Dec 22 with delivery on Jan 3. How can they expect to deliver to the opposite coast within deadline when they wait a week to ship? E-mailed them asking for shipping reimbursement. Never heard back from them. AVOID!"

Today, January 20, I received a phone call from them. They walked me through the process of getting the credit, up to the point where she said "next to your feedback, click the word 'remove'."

Um, no.

"Then we can't give you the credit."

Never mind then.

Their feedback rating for the last 30 days is 86% positive, 9% negative. Looks like many others have had similar problems. Just speculating, but the company name now shows as "ProMax Supply", so maybe they changed their name or ownership to distance themselves.

I'm now going through Amazon directly to ask for the shipping credit. We'll see where that leads.

Followup 1/29/09: Amazon reimbursed me the shipping costs. Yay.

Search engine seeds: CrazyDavesToolShed, Crazy Dave's Tool Shed, ProMax Supply, CrazyDavesToolShed, Crazy Dave's Tool Shed, ProMax Supply, CrazyDavesToolShed, Crazy Dave's Tool Shed, ProMax Supply)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Casino changes, new WSGC newsletter

As I mentioned a few months ago, baccarat has come to state minicasinos. I've not visited one in a few months, but the billboard near the Puyallup River advertises that Chips Lakewood has baccarat available. It's the table game with the lowest house edge, so if any match plays come open, that's the table to use them at.

The latest Washington State Gambling Commission Focus On Gambling newsletter is out. It looks like electronic poker tables are still being discussed by the vendor and the WSGC. "At the November 2008 meeting, the petitioner requested the Commission hold over the petition to allow the Commission’s lab time to test the device and re-analyze the system for changes made after the lab’s initial review in November." They're discussing it again next month.

The Five Hundy By Midnight podcast has mentioned -- and a good friend of mine has confirmed -- that the electronic tables are already in use at the Excalibur poker room in Las Vegas. The more and more I hear about them, the more I'm liking the idea: faster play, no mistakes or rules arguments, no tipping, and, perhaps, lower limits and rakes.

The WSGC has approved the change to allow 9 players (instead of max 7) at table games. I think I've only once ever seen a full seven player table, so I don't think this will affect me, unless this prompts a casino to close down one of its extra blackjack tables and replace it with a poker table. That'd be nice.

There's one significant new proposal in the newsletter. Last year, the state casino industry asked to increase the single-bet limit in poker from $40 to $500. The WSGC asked for an alternative, so that $500 could only be used as a max all-in Hold 'Em bet. The industry countered with a proposal of a $300 max poker bet. The WSGC is discussing it.

Something I may not have mentioned before, and which is some of the most interesting reading in the newsletter, are the list of administrative cases. Usually, that's when a casino does something bad -- like failing to submit a report on time -- or when an employee does something bad. Like this one from page 13:

[T.L.O.] (formerly employed by Chips Casino) Lakewood
  • Admitted turning off the closed circuit television system on several occasions while working as the Director of Security and Surveillance.
  • Allegedly removed money from the house-banked card room’s count room.
The licensee waived his right to a hearing. A Default Order revoking his license was entered.

Most of them aren't nearly as egregious. The most frequent seem to be applicants for dealers' licenses who don't fully disclose their criminal history, dealers who fail to properly collect a bet, dealers allowing a minor to play, or casino employees who find money on the ground and pocket it instead of turning it in. Seems like a tough job, and it's one that can be ended by a single mistake.