Thursday, December 25, 2008

Home Game in Homosassa

Cory, Frank, Dana, Julie and I played around this fine big poker table. We played the quarter chip all in game and had a good time. They all played real poker. No wild betting. I was very lucky and Dana was very unlucky.

I got pocket aces twice, bet them all out once, value bet them the next time. Each time it ended with Dana and I all in and my aces holding against his tens once and another time his eights. I'd have lost to Cory if he had called the all in with his A-K as would have been right. King-King came turn-river.
Dana had pocket kings in a all in with Cory who also held pocket kings.
Dana split a good number of pots. We had ace-nine together. Also there was a long string of pots which were only good for one chip and Dana took one while I took the next and then Cory took one.

Julie and Frank played well, but with the predictable play of limit players. Julie often held her bets down to just one chip when she had good strong hands. She might have made more by betting more.

I imagine we will play again soon.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tampa Hard Rock

Another poker disaster. I don't seem to be able to win in casinos.
This wasn't all bad luck, however, I just made mistakes. I played no limit at Lucky's Card Room and it is much harder than limit.

I got lucky twice. Once I called an all in bet with top two pair and caught a flush on the river. Honestly I was so intent on hoping for the full house I missed the flush draw that sucked out a guy who flopped a straight.

Another time my pair of kings became quads on the turn. I bet a little on the river, but no takers. I had raised out all but one opponent preflop. $75 was the high hand award.

My worst hand was one in which I held a queen ten of hearts and one heart and a queen came on the flop. Two players were all in preflop and a good chipped fellow bet out. I put him on nothing and I was right, but I missed it that a guy was yet to act after me. So I called and the after acting guy had pocket kings, bet, and won everything in both pots.

It was a bad call. Betting guy had lots of outs. Had I known someone was to act after me, with enough chips to further raise if he wanted, I'd have folded.very bad poker.

After losing at Lucky's I went to supper at the buffet at the Hard Rock and then played the easy 2-4, getting a bit ahead and then just gradually drained by no developing cards. It was an easy table. Just no cards there. The few really good hands gave me no callers.

It was a fine day, but I am frustrated that I lose a little every time I play now and it is adding up. $241 lost this time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Poker odds calculator

Here is handy tool for figuring what the math really was when you went all-in

Thursday, December 4, 2008

To Turning Stone with John Blowers

My Monday trip to Turning Stone was a disaster. Slowly the poker drained me of $331 and I actually quit an hour and a half before leaving the casino. I think that is a first for me.

The pleasure of the day was redeemed however by companionship.

I rode up and back with author John Blowers

turning that boring and repetitive Thruway trek (been there ...done that.... for 38 years) into the most satisfying portion of the day.

John is lively, positive, and having a whirlwind life around the popularity of his novel and the plans for an upcoming movie and a sequel. Suddenly, he finds himself in the Texas hold Em inner circle. He has written his second article for Poker Pro magazine and has a seat at the Best Damn Poker Game along side Phil Helmuth and Annie Duke. Some of his interaction with these stars can be read in his latest Poker Pro article. This is the second article of four.

Lively and good humored, John makes an ideal traveling companion. He is having a fine time with all of the traveling and book promotion, enjoying the adventure, and yet not totally absorbed. Our stories and conversation touched on other interests as well, including his seat on the local school board.

One funny story intersected both worlds.

Attendance at school board meetings had dwindled over a few months and finally when the board looked out to see what community members might want to air concerns they saw jus one woman in the audience.

"We are happy to see you here this evening. Could you step up to the mike and tell us your concerns?"

"Well, actually," she replied, " I am just here because I am hoping at the end of the meeting to get Mr. Blowers signature on his poker novel."

It is amazing to John how much the novel has become the driving force in his schedule. But he has both the energy to keep up with all of it and pursue each thread as well as the clear solid self sense not to let it affect his down to earth attitude.

So it was a great time traveling up to Turning Stone and he also managed to keep me awake traveling home again.

And the poker was fine too, just expensive.

We both started with the $52 tournament. I rarely play, but thought it might be fun if I ended up playing John across the table, although that was not to happen. He plays in the local games at Greg's. Being tournament competitors might be a new experience.

I stayed alive. but did not have much opportunity to gather in chips. The game payed six. John was pushed out in 38th position. I managed to hold out until 16th, but with very little opportunity to capture a lead.

At the break, I was below average chips and I talked to John about what to do. He said that he thought I had just two rounds to make my move. I knew it was easy advice to take because I would be seen at my table as playing tight.

My first move was to go all in after a habitually loose player bet half his stack. I just had K-J but he believed I had more or he had nothing much, so he folded. My second move I had a pair of aces on the flop with a high kicker. I bet and again everyone folded. With the high blinds and the antes, in those two wins I had doubled up and gotten to an average chip size.

I don't remember what pushed me out. It really was a third move to get some power and not very dramatic.

I played 2-4 the rest of the day and John played no limit. He was delighted with his table and I was also delighted with mine. His started out tight, but then began to give great action, some of it from players who were bullying loose. In John's words It got "juicy".

My table was simply a no preflop raise collection of call stations, and included a woman brand new to the game. In spite of feeling quite comfortable with the competition, I just seemed to get drained with runs of bad cards. At one point I tossed an extra dollar on a small blind 2-7. By the turn I had a seven high straight. The button to my right had been betting each time and I put him on a lower straight. He had generally continued to bet any strength, so I checked my turn and it went to him. He checked giving another player a free card. The free card was another 7 and the other player held an eight for a winning hand.

John seemed to do well at his juicey table.
To get a view of the best contrast to our luck it might be good to compare two hands in which we held pocket aces.

My aces were held in middle position at this 2-4 table where it was extremely rare for there to be a preflop raise, where there were virtually no preflop reraises, and where I had played tight for an hour and a half.

A guy acting before me with pocket jacks raised. So I reraised my aces. Most folded after me, but one fellow with A-4 called those very rare shows of strength.
A four came on the flop with other rags. Jacks guy stayed. So did A-4. I bet into these two on the flop and again on the turn, but of course, A-4 caught yet another 4 on the river and bet into me when I checked my one pair and he beat me.
Imagine, staying with that hand against a tight table image guy like me who clearly rarely raised, but in this hand had reraised. Imagine calling him with two cards that ought to have been dumped at the get go.

In contrast, at the juicey no limit table, John held pocket aces against this young kid who habitually bet from $15 to $40 on every preflop.
The kid bet $30.
The flop was no ace, but king-X-X. Another player thought a good while. He has been a sensible player. Then he bet half his stack, $130 after which John pushed in his accumulated $500 with his characteristic smile. It wasn't a tell. He smiles and laughs, banters, and jokes throughout all his games (and most of his life.)

Both players called, so three of them are all=in and two turn over their cards, but John keeps his hidden.

Serious guy shows his set of kings. Loose kid has nothing I can remember. John has two outs.

The turn is one of them, a dark ace. Had it been the other dark ace, the river would have given the loose kid a spade flush. However, John gets to turn over his trip aces and that is enough to collect a huge pot.

Great drama. Greg would have loved it.

The reason I see all of this is by 11 PM I am busted and tired and just watching the no limit play. True to the character in his book, John is slow to leave. He likes this table and would have stayed until 4 AM, but I drag him out when players change and the table gets to be a conservative limp-limp table. I feel bad not to be able to keep up. I am almost tempted to try the no limit myself. But I know that I can't play this game yet. I need to watch a long while first and have a solid bankroll to be brave in the face of a bully.

Besides I have an early doctor's appointment the next day, and know that it will be 3:30 before I see my pillow. And then I have Greg's game for a good bit of Wednesday, so I need my 5 hours sleep.

Not only is my luck with pocket aces play very different from John's, but my energy also is in direct contrast. I am used to finding my pillow at about 9:30 each night. Also, I am a low roller. When we talk Vegas, John talks of comped rooms at the Venetian while I talk about the steak special at Ellis Island.

When we car pooled I left my 1999 Saturn and rode up in John's Caddy.
"Hmmmm." I remarked. " I don't know if going to a poker game in a caddy will ruin my "low roller" reputation or not.

Well, it sure was a trip to remember.

As a PS here is a nice article on publishing. Maybe I need to think beyond the Blogs.

Greg's games

I have had a number of local and family games lately. All have been fun. I sure like the structure of this no limit poker. At home one time we dropped the buy in to $5 and so the stakes were really low for the kids.

Greg's two games have been very different. Two weeks ago Jerry and John came and it was a good crowd. This week they were absent and so was Bill so it was a small group of five.

Two weeks ago "lucky" Greg piled up about 5 racks of chips in the course of the afternoon. He was unbeatable. But this week I started to hit as soon as I got there. Cards seemed to love me. I build almost three racks before that changed. Had I gone home with Phil and Bruce I'd have had a $100 profit, but I stayed to play with Peter and Greg. I was worried about being over tired, but that was not the cause of my defeat. Basically, it was these two hands.

I held pocket aces and two kings came on the flop. No one showed strength. The turn was a king, so I had the nut full house regardless of what came on the river.
I bet heavy.
Peter and Greg both called. On the river I bet heavy again and Peter went all in. Greg folded his queens and Peter showed the fourth king.
Now, this is not unusual in a game with ten players, but in a game of three, it is very rare. In fact, had an ace come on the river giving me the larger full house, and had we been playing at Turning Stone we would have hit the bad beat for 40 thousand.

The next hand was not a bad beat. It was simple Pokermaster lucky Greg at work. Greg was down a good bit when he went all in on a club flush draw. He held K-Q and A-J had flopped. I held A-J so I called his all in bet. On the turn came the 10 of clubs for a Royal Flush, so I was dead even hoping for a full house on the river. I think this is Greg's first royal at his own home game.

So there is it. That is my luck. I still ended the day $38 ahead, but I might have reduced my Turning Stone loss by half had the Pokermaster not decided to call in all his mantra strength.

And at my last game until March, too.

I just get no respect.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

John Blowers joins the game again.

John Blowers, author of Life on Tilt: Confessions of a Poker Dad joined our weekly game at Greg's again today. He brought along his recent article in Poker Pro magazine. The writer's life seems to be treating him to a great number of adventures around the country. It was fun to see him again.

John's website is here:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Return of Pokerbluegill

I knew Greg's game this week would challenge me because I would go into it with very little rest. It would have been tiring enough to go into the city for an 8 AM eye doctor's appointment, but I woke up at 2 AM worrying about what my eye infection might be.

I then had a few hours of what my commanding officer, fighter pilot Captain Rennsler (fresh out of doing bomb raids in Vietnam) at Kincheloe Air Force Base called "stare time."

Along with remembering poor Janice Newkirk's early death from rare eye cancer, and thinking about our three friends now struggling with some form of cancer, I worried about leaking windows, Little Grey squirrel who may or may not be living in the upstairs couch, and even the struggles and terrible fates of some of the characters in Water For Elephants, the novel I just finished.

And I did not sleep.

Then sometime after 5 thirty I did doze off because the alarm clock woke me at seven.
I hear an alarm perhaps a half dozen times a year, and then rarely in the early morning darkness with just enough time to shower and then a dash into rush hour traffic.

The eye exam proved my irritation to be nothing but a localized infection. More hot packing and some antibiotics cream should do the trick.

I had a fine morning walking the leaf covered sidewalks in Albany Pine Hills and infusing myself in crowds of young people on the Saint Rose Campus where I read the New York Times and bits of 19th century American literature.


Peter and I had a fine lunch. I was a bit off my diet, and the rich dishes of the Pakistani buffet (across from the police station where Madison and Western meet) was such a treat.

It had been a great morning, but at noon I felt my energy drain away. I was ready for a nap, but it was time for poker. This is not a good thing.

At Greg's I explained that I would be slow and everyone said, " That's fine." and "No problem" until I really was a bit slow, and then they hurried me along with prompts to play or post a blind or check my cards, and so I got confused and more jittery.
They did not do it on purpose to throw me off my game (although perhaps they will next time after reading all this) They did it simply to keep the fast paced play going, but still it was disconcerting.

Luckily, late in life, I have discovered coffee, an insidious drug, but one that keeps naps away.

It was a full table. Silver took an afternoon off work and made a rare appearance; most of the regulars were all there: Bruce, Phil, Greg, Peter, and me.

It was a treat to have Silver dealing for everyone and others doing the shuffling. That took away two tasks. While I don't much notice the arthritis anymore, I do have to concentrate to shuffle cards or my stiffened finger gets in the way. If I let the automatic part of my brain take over, it assumes the fingers will work a certain way and when they don't oblige, before I know it, cards are scattered everywhere. Relieved of that task, I can concentrate solely on the poker.

Greg was not playing his usual loose, aggressive game.
So I assumed his role.
I bet my good cards aggressively, but the flops caused them to look more like recent American bank mortgages.
I bet some of my bad cards aggressively to steal a few pots, and always there was one stubborn person who did not believe me, who seemed to know I had taken a risky mortgage and that I could not meet the balloon payments. So I was called down into defeat.

Soon I was low chip guy with multiple buy-ins.
And I was still tired.

I had consumed an entire thermos of the coffee we had bought in Hawaii, and it was strong and good and soon it began to work.

Well, better late than never.

Yet even awake, I lost.

Coffee is fine for staying awake, but it leaves me jittery. So does losing with lousy flop after lousy flop after lousy flop forcing me to toss away pots I had built.

Greg started to rake in chips and reach for more racks.

I could see he was aggressive only rarely, probably only with his good cards, but I could not do anything about it. The others still remembered his bluffs of other games and paid him well.

Bruce has radically improved his game and shifted his style, so that he is making good money from the improvement. His would be the first of a one-two punch to take Bill out. His Ace-King beat Bill's Ace-Queen. Then Greg outdrew Bill for the rest of his chips, and Bill quietly called it a day.

Peter was smuckered from the get go and all afternoon. I helped by staking him, but it did not improve his winnings. He was often stuck with second best cards. The worst was flopping a straight, going all in, managing to avoid Silver's spade flush river draw only to have Greg with two pair, 8's and 10's, draw an 8 on the river and make the winning full house.

Everyone accumulated chips, but, as always, Greg accumulated more of them, in spite of the fact that this normally aggressive betting machine was letting us all limp into flops unpressured.

I just relaxed into the inevitable abyss, while the coffee slowly woke me up.

I drank an entire thermos and called for another.
Greg tried to talk me out of the second thermos. He wanted to conserve on the coffee. He did not think I would drink an entire second thermos, and he wanted some coffee to enjoy the rest of the week.
Now, I had brought the coffee, so it was an odd conservation argument. But that is what makes Greg the Pokermaster, his ability to leverage what isn't his.

At my last buy in I had $90 invested. This is an unconscionable amount in our little game. $90 should be enough money to buy in for three weeks and lose. I had lost it all in one rather short afternoon, and everyone was heading home.

"Would you like to re-buy for $10 and play a while?" Greg asked.
He had three racks of chips.
I had half a rack.

"I'll just play this off and head home," I answered, knowing that I was playing uphill against the larger chip stack, still tired and very jittery.

So we started.

There were three turning points I remember.

One was a mind game. I did not do it on purpose, but I will if I can in the future.

Greg was commenting on how Bill and Silver just head home when they lose a pile of chips.
"You and I are the only ones who have such passion for the game that we stay no matter what," he remarked.

Greg and I have this conversation often. I stress the wisdom of not trying to win an uphill battle with just twenty chips against a hundred. Greg asserts that he loves to come up from behind. To me his claim reminds me of a millionaire Republican calling for the poor to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. I remind him that he is never in a position of having to win from far, far behind.
"You can't really talk about coming up from nothing because you are never the low chip person."

The very next hand Greg looses almost all of the rest of his third rack to me, and he looks at the loss and says , "I probably should quit for the day."

I go for his jugular.

"You are Soooooooo full of bullshit! A minute ago you were talking about how much fun it is to come from behind, and now you want to quit rather than risk your remaining two trays of chips! Unbelievable!!"

And it works just fine. He is insulted and stubborn, so he keeps playing.
That is his biggest mistake of the day.
I wish I could claim that my taunting was a planned strategy, but I just stumbled into his stubborn ego. In fact, somehow Gregg has heard me call him a "piece of shit," or pretends he has heard that. I have not said that at all, but when I see how determined it makes him, I file the insult away so I can use it another day.

And I see more clearly how mental sparring is part of this game.
I have him. He is not on tilt, but he is determined now to wipe me out and that is the next best thing because we will play now until one of us wins it all. I have $90 invested and he has $20, but with over $100 still in front of him, his $20 investment does not seem as real as the three stacks of chips he had when we started out head to head battle.

As more chips dwindle, so does his confidence. He gets scared, and then I really have him.

I'm fully awake. I'm flying with the coffee.
And finally I get cards. Once I get pocket aces twice in a row. Greg folds healthy pots, but I show him the aces anyway each time. It is unnerving to see pocket aces twice in a row when playing head to head.

Once I go all-in with just a pair of 8's and a nine kicker and Greg folds his pocket jacks. I show him my bluff with, "Aw gee, all I had was a pair of eights."
"You outplayed me!!" he shouts, and what he means is I out "Gregged" him, getting him to fold when I had anything but the best hand.
Showing those cards costs me a pot later when I try a similar bluff, but it also worked to unnerve him more and set him on a stubborn edge.

However, it takes a long while for me to make any progress, and I am up and down a lot.

At one point I flop two pair (8-10) and push the hand only to have him with a straight on the turn. I am all-in nad our cards are up, so I am ready to go home, when the river brings me my full house 8, the same full house that Greg used to wipe out Peter's straight earlier in the day along with most of Pete's accumulated chips.
Ahhhhhhh....Hill Boy justice.

So I have money to play with and I am awake. I work hard at patience. I remember The Tao of Poker and remind myself of how often at this stage of the game I would get too loose, get too bored shuffling and shuffling and waiting and waiting, and make bad loose plays.

I wait.

Soon I grind it to a place where for the first time in hours I have more chips than Gregg does.
Now I just need one good hand.
That is the advantage of being even chipped.
Low chipped I would need three or four good hands without a loss to win everything. Even chipped, just one lucky break will do it.
Gregg comes out strong after one flop when I have an inside straight draw K-Q. I put him on a bluff. That is a mistake. He holds two pair (A-10) and he has me beat easily. The turn gives me a pair of kings and has me pot committed, so I call Greg's value bet thinking it is more bluff. The river gives me the jack for the nut straight.
I go all-in.
Gregg thinks a while.
He studies my lack of smile.
Perhaps he remembers laying down the pocket jacks earlier to my pair of eights. He puts me on a bluff, calls the bet, and the game is over.

I have all the chips!!!
I have all the money!!!!

My huge buy in reduces the amount of my winnings, but they cover what I lost last week as well. More important, this breaks a long losing streak in poker for me lately. And of quintessential importance, I have taken the Pokermaster down!! Me, my cards, and his stubborn ego.

Ahhh.... the joy of it!!!!!!!!!!

I have a long time to enjoy it too, because even after I drive home, the coffee does not let me sleep for hours and hours. Elizabeth holds me, and still I don't sleep, just listen to her snoring in my ear and wiggle my feet, trying not to review again how characters in the last novel died.

It is a rotten feeling.

Tea wakes me up to a mellow awake sense of calm reflection; coffee wires me into agitated jitters.
Alcohol soothes me or makes me talkative and a bit silly; coffee puts me on an anxiety edge.

So for the second night in a row, sleep eludes me for a long, long while.

But that has passed now, and I've slept a few hours and will nap more today. It will be a fine day. I have defeated the threats of eye infection and beaten the poker master all in the same day. And I have indulged and delighted in a bit of urban autumn with fine flashbacks to younger days. But those reflections are a topic for another blog:



Dear Dewey,
Having had 14 hours to sleep on, dream about and reflect upon the loss of my three story home -- I have decided that our head to head play after yesterday's game and your drubbing of me was
I hope you turn "my" money into a fortune at your next games.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Savage ravaging

Another teeth clenching defeat at the hands of Greg, poker master. I lost $60 after being down, then up, and then finally destroyed. Greg just seems unbeatable. Bill did well also. Bruce and Peter lost. It has been a hard week for Dewey and poker.

Early in the game, it was not Greg who took me down but Bruce with hand after hand just a little bit better than mine. I built my $60 buy in back to over $100 when Greg got his fingers in my eyes and blinded me until it all was gone.

Were there memorable hands?

Well, Bill was banker this week and sat in Greg's usual spot. At first it looked like he had inherited the luck also. Twice on the river he pulled a queen to come from far behind on large all- in pots. Greg was the loser in these contests, tasting the bitterness of his own river catches. The hardest was when Bill's river queen made a gut shot straight and destroyed what had been good cards for Greg.

I'll wait to see if Greg has other memories. I remember one in which his 4-5 offsuit flopped a full house, but I'd rather forget that hand and most of the rest of them too.

Isn't it time for my social security check to arrive soon?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Turning Stone and Foxwoods again

Chunkmonk Charlie and I went up to Turning Stone and Foxwoods this weekend. I drove to Turning Stone. We took the Yankee Trails to Foxwoods. I won $23 at TS and then lost $60 so it has not been a good run of poker for me.

Foxwoods was very dysfunctional. Due to some tournament (and probably recent layoffs) many of the dealers had not dealt poker in years and made mistake after mistake. It was very sad. They were worse than the new dealers at Mohegan Sun.
I played a tough 4-8 table in the morning and lost $166. After buffet lunch I went down to 2-4 but it was a tough table too and I lost another $50. So I changed to a new 4-8 table. There I could do well.

Most interesting hands:

I flopped trip jacks with a pocket pair. I lost on the river to a straight.
Ten minutes later I flopped trip sevens and the same thing happened. This time two people playing 9-6 offsuit split the pot.

On a raised big blind with everyone in I added my $2, holding a stupid 3-7. Trip sevens came on the flop. The river brought my 3.
The very next hand I tossed away a small blind holding 5-6. Trip fives came on the flop and a six on the turn.

My second last hand, with just enough time to catch my bus, I help 5-6 of spaces and 7-8 came on the flop. On the river I missed the straight flush, but a 4 came and game me the hand. Another fellow said that had the nine of spades come, we would have had a bad beat. At Foxwoods that is not tens of thousands, but it would have meant a few hundred. But it also might have meant that I failed to catch my bus.

Turning Stone on Saturday would have been the place to play late into the night. I was sorry that was not an option. It was packed due to some big drawing and a poker tournament.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Author John Blowers joins us at Greg's

The calm routine of Greg's weekly home poker game was energized yesterday when author John Blowers joined our game. John's novel, Life On Tilt: Confessions of a Poker Dad has been so successful that it will soon be released as a movie and Greg's wife Ann has just finished her second interview with him on her weekly Schenectady Today Show on Channel 16 Schenectady Public Access Television.

Greg invited him to play poker.

So we were treated to playing against a published poker author as well as to the details of what it means to have a published novel on the verge of becoming a movie. John even brought along some clips to give us a sense of the film.

It was very exciting.

I remembered being at a home party with neighbor Bill Kennedy just as his book Ironweed was becoming a movie and there was similar excitement today connected to the expectation of a coming film and similar talk about the process and frustrations on managing to make everything happen. It is one thing to have an idea worth developing in fiction; it is another to meet and solve all the problems that come up as a novel, and then a movie, move to completion. We heard a good bit of the story of those processes.

All this was quite a contrast to the mundane banter of old retired grumps at our weekly game, Replacing the same old tired cliches like, "Leave one chip out, and you won't have so many" were stories that reflected all the excitement of film making and writing.

I never really could seem to engage Bill Kennedy in much conversation, but John was so amiable and enthusiastic that there was no distance between any of us. He was delightful in every way, and as Nugent remarked, very "down to earth." It can be hard to be a successful author without going "on tilt" with the success. John was "on the real" as my students would say, totally engaging and personable. I sure hope the movie becomes a big hit.

Of course by the end of the game we had all managed to plan John's next three books and movies, all of them about us of course. We live such exciting lives. We even have a sound track in mind. Bruce can sing the old classic, "Gloom despair and agony on me" ending with the thrilling climax, "if it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all." I hope John was paying attention. Stories like ours just don't come along every day.

John did give us a synopsis preview of a script idea for what may be his next film. It will certainly be very inspiring. It was a treat to be included in the process and asked for our feedback. I was reminded of Twain in his little pentagon shaped outdoor writing shed, calling in the children so they could listen to what he had written that day.

Of course, we are not children; we just act like children. And we weren't in Greg's poker shack down by the Lisha Kill, but in Ann's kitchen with a supper of sausage, pasta and appetizer. There is a certain romance about Greg's shed. But I better enjoy the comfort of Ann's kitchen, where Chica might lick my plate if I leave it on the floor, but she cannot not tip over the entire table, poker chips, cards and all.

My son Peter also played. He had given me John's novel for father's day and so there were three of us there who had enjoyed reading it. Hearing how the characters we encountered in the novel were morphing into film stars made the poker game into a bit of a literary/film workshop.

As well as discussion about the movie, John talked about his coming articles in Poker Pro magazine. He is going to Vegas tomorrow to work on interviewing for those articles. He also managed a place at the table in "The Best Damn Poker Show" and told us the story of those auditions.

John's novel explores classic tensions between an all consuming passion for poker and the demands of marriage and family. And yes there are encounters with "the other woman" and even with "another other woman."

Woven between the interpersonal conflicts are hands of poker where famous no limit players play against the protagonist Johnnoe Zandoken as he pursues his poker dream. So the book is part no limit poker and part chick flick. As "Cowboy" Kenna James writes in the Foreword, " When you reach the crossroad in life of whether to listen to your mind and hold true to your responsibilities or go on "tilt" and follow you dreams, which path do you choose?"

You can see how the movie will explore themes similar to those in "Rounders."

John also gave us lessons in computing outs, percentages, and pot odds. His mind worked quickly on the mathematics. I am hoping he did not teach Nugent too well. Right now none of us computes such information. I have given up all hope in learning to do it fast or accurately enough for it to be on any help to me. Bill, however, being a math teacher, may well have found some good new strategy.

All in all it was a delight game, Greg, and I did not even mind mind losing my $27. (Yeah, like that is ever gonna be true) Thanks for the treat.

And thanks for coming around to enliven our game John. I especially liked seeing Greg pushed to the wall. Delightful too was to see son Peter come back from defeat to win money. Especially since he then could pay me back what I staked him.

Twice Peter checked a nut flush and trapped John. That may take the edge off Peter's defeat this week. In a free online tournament Pete was one hand away from an all expenses paid trip to Vegas along with a free bankroll and a seat at a $20.000 tournament. going all in with his pocket sevens, Peter was called by A-6 with a 6 on the board.

Of course, the Ace showed on the river.

What a week of poker this has been. First 34 hours of poker in Connecticut and now an encounter with a published poker author. This retirement life ain't so bad, even if I can't seem to win money anywhere.


John Blowers sites of interest:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun


It was a losing trip. Only once was I ahead. Once more I came within eleven dollars of being even and then slumped back again. Overall I lost $414 at poker and $85 at slots and VP which I played just for fun and because it was my birthday.
I played 34 hours of poker so lost $14 an hour. This trip I could not recoup that in food and drink either. I drank about $60 in free drinks. Only one day did I eat for free (another $16) The loss drops my lifetime score to $4275 which is near my record low. Since May I have lost $1600. So I hope the score turns around soon. I don't want this hobby to actually cost me any money.

I played 34 hours of poker. So I lost about $15 an hour. Since most of my losses were just grinding, I can see why I do better when I play single blind games, especially that Laughlin game where the blind is only a third of what my first round bet will be when I have good cards. That difference alone accounts for a good bit of the losses. Also two blinds, especially in that small blind in the 2-4 games do tempt me to play "small blind specials."

I do think I played a bit too loose in the beginning. By the end I was as tight as a rock, hardly playing anything more than my blinds.


I loved the new Mohegan Sun room. The chairs were comfortable and the room bright and cheerful. It feels much different than the basement decor of Foxwoods. I liked that they dealt 3-6 and it seemed easy enough to move from table to table. I would move if I was ahead or thought the table was too tight or loose or simply because I had been playing tight too long to get callers when I bet. I am working on leaving most tables whenever I am up over $100 or the money seems to be draining even if I can't figure out where it is going.

One session of 4-8 was a real killer. It was one of those game where one guy bets crazy and wins over and over. He walked about up about $800 after betting and raising anything and everything, winning hands with just a pair on the river. Mostly he won because other people had poor hands. However, when he did have good cards he might check raise for added value. Without that one session I would not be down much. It cost me over $300.

Dealers were friendly. Some were very beautiful. One pretty Asian girl named Kelly's face took my attention off the game for half an hour. She was beautiful to watch and it made it easier to be patient.

Some of the floor were very good. Todd especially was aggressive about solving any issue. Cheerfully he helped people with any discomfort. One fellow seemed dysfunctional. Once there was a table spill and he came when called and did not seem able to see the spill or act to clean it up. I wanted to say,

"See that red stuff covering this fellow's chips and money and a good part of the table? Well, that is the spill." but I just waited.

At Foxwoods such a spill would cause the table to be shut down.

Many of the workers are new. I cashed in chips four times and three times they got the amount wrong. I'd be very careful to know exactly how much you have when you go up.

the 1-2 no limit had a $300 max so I only stayed a few minutes and never went back. I liked it that they had a $3-$6 game with $3 chips. That is my favorite game. I like the low dollar small blind and the larger pots. However, it did attract better players so I often moved back to the 2-4 where looser folks would pay me off.

I liked the feel of the silver snake skin styled padding around the table, but there were no places for drinks. They had a few plastic cup holders, but never very many. That is always frustrating. The chairs were very comfortable.

Both Mohegan and Foxwoods have swiping now at the table and keep track of people when they leave the table. This reduces the comps a bit, but it keeps players from leaving as often and I like that. In neither place did I experience very long waits until tables filled.

Because they are new, the dealers did not know the finer rules of the game and often made mistakes around issues like when someone could enter the game and how much they needed to post.

Still, I think that if I drive again, I will go to Mohegan rather than Foxwoods. The 4-8 at Foxwoods is just a bit too high stakes for hours of play and there are two blinds.

Mohegan bathrooms were much closer than Foxwoods although both places have good access.
Foxwoods had more established regulars. Mohegan draws in players better because it is close to the rest of the casino and people see it and decided to try a bit of poker.

However, most players could play well. There were very few maniacs. Even few Greg like aggressive bettors.


I did not have very many memorable hands. At one table I held pocket 6's which went to a full house on the river. Another player who was also named Dewey held a 3-8 and he caught 3's full on the river. He reraised me and I raised again to take a nice pot.

I folded pocket aces twice and pocket kings twice.

I made one fellow so mad he left the table because I raised my 8-9 on the button with everyone in and flopped a straight. He put me on high cards and paid me well based on my raise. I love that play. I told him, "I just felt lucky" but actually I find that it is a good play if everyone is in and there are no preflop reraisers especially after I have played a while and I am seen a tight. Rarely does the raise no get called for the one extra dollar all around, and when it catches, it pays. Often if I have a draw after the flop, I get a free card because folks with good cards are waiting for me to bet before they raise. If after four cards I have not caught my straight or flush I can usually throw the hand away having spent just $2 more for it. If I catch on the river, good players will bet their two pair in to my hand and be surprised when I raise and beat them. That is was happened to the fellow who got mad. Poker players often get mad when you don't play inside the box that they almost think of as rules of the game.

My worst fold was 5-3 on the river with 5-5-3 flopping. It would not have paid me much. I did not see too many of my folded rags develop into winners. In the 4-8 game I got rivered many times but players who should have been out of the hands. That cost me a good bit of my losses.

I don't think I played poorly too often. Most of the poor plays were simply one bet mistakes. For example, in the last game I had Q-10 for 2 pair against an opponent who had shown strength in first position before the flop. The river paired the board. He checked and I bet. He called with A-6 two pair. Had I better noted his position, I would have checked.

In the aggressive 4-8 game I might be in too long simply because the aggressors sometimes bluffed and the pot odds were very high. I bluffed four times, betting on the river with nothing after missing good draws. I won three of those and never showed. Twice the other fellow talked about what he had, and had me beat. Perhaps I need to bet out more often when I know I am beat but the other fellow seems weak.

My worst folded hand was an A-8 when betters looked strong on a flopped ace but no one had one.A guy bet into me and there were three behind me, so I folded. They all called and showed at the end. Most had kings.

Except for losing money, it was a fine trip.

More trip report narration and some great photos of places I ate in Groton where I stayed are posted on the Pokerbluegill board.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Slaughter in Schenectady

Well, Greg just must have Xray vision as he fleeced us all. He must have made a record amount of cash this week. My loses were $130 and there is no reason to think he did not take every cent.

Well, good game Greg.

I'll be back to get you next week.

I can't remember any of the hands, so I guess the other fellas were have to post details. I know generally I was not beat on the river, just beat. One river gut shot I drew against Bill raised the hackles on his old Delmar head, but for the rest of the afternoon I was just getting snookered and it was not from drawing for the gut shots either. The couple times I had good cards that would have won, most folded and it wasn't because I bet too much. They just did not have anything.
I took Greg down on only one decent hand when My A-9 two pair beat his smaller two pair.

We played until 3:30 and then folks cashed in, rebought and played again. I lost $80 in the first session and $50 in the second.


Greg reports the game after I left:

Nothing like good cards AND luck! You remember in the first couple of hands yesterday when Peter caught the 7 on the river and bested me -- that was lucky because all I had was $10. From there it was all uphill. With good cards coming it makes a bluffer like me even stronger.
Now, why I write: second to the last hand yesterday -- only me and Bill left -- he pushed a big bet in at the turn, I fold my pair of sevens and he shows that he's on an Ace "nut" flush only needing another heart on the river, which he missed. Next hand, me and Bill left, a lot of money in the pot, after the turn (the 8) he pushes in a very big bet -- the board shows 6, 8,9,10. One reason there's a lot of money in the pot is that I'm holding a 9,10. I think about it quite a while and finally decide, "it won't really hurt to make Bill's day" so I call. A 10 comes on the river! I push the rest of my money in saying, "I gotcha!" (Bill did have the 7!). Game ended!!!
Have a good (and lucky) day, Gregg

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Turning Stone with Chuckmonk

Charlie and I had a fine time at Turning Stone. I lost money. He made money.
His win was directly related to his patience and good play. He has been reading books about the game and unlike my reading, he is able to actually apply even the mathematics he reads to the game.

He did make some careless mistakes. Once he turned over his trip aces before the last opponent had decided to call and it may have cost him one bet. Another time he tossed in his big blind hand of J-2 but it did not muck, so the dealer gave it back to him. By the turn Charlie had trip jacks and won the hand. He gets caught in that mistake easily, but that won't last as he plays more times.

When we first go there, I could not get on a 3-6, so I played in the seat next to Charlie in the 2-4 game and caught plenty of great hands. I sat to the left of the dealer and the guy to his right was a habitual raiser so I started to reraise whenever that was in my advantage. After a while I did teach him not to just automatically raise, but in the reraised hands, I made money. My best hand was pocket sixes. He raised and I rereaised. It flopped a six, turned a queen and rivered yet another queen. One fellow called me with trips. I was full.

Before we went the the Savoy in Rome for supper I was ahead by $66.

When I go back there was a new 3-6 opening and charlie could not get on a 2-4 so he decided to play at the new table for a while. He liked it so well, he never went to the 2-4. Again he sat right to my left, so we could talk and have a good time.
I only know one hand that put us head to head at the turn. I folded so I don't know what he had.
In general, I may have played too loose, but I also just did not get cards, and when I did, I was really unlucky. My pair of deuces caught trips on the flop and two bettors. One bettor drew a gut shot straight. I raised my pocket pair of Aces after a regular raiser made the first raise with K-Q. Everyone folded. One guy turned over his cards by accident. One card was a king so the initial raiser then folded and did not call my reraise. I had managed to isolate him, but the exposure of the folded cards discouraged him.

Most of the players were fairly good. A couple were too loose. One guy called me twice when he should not have called. He surprised me both times. I had not put him on calling down.

My favorite hand was right after I lost with trip deuces. A guy with two pair complained bitterly about the other fellow calling and getting the gut shot wheel. The table was annoyed with him. He left. I had K-X diamonds and flop was A-X-X diamonds. I had flopped in middle position the nut flush. Now I had not played much in a while and I had been complaining a bit to Charlie. A guy before me raised. I had to either reraise or just call. Calling was the right move. Instead I pretended that I was totally annoyed with this hand and on tilt. I reraised. It worked and everyone in that hand called around. Most also called me on the turn and the river in spite of no more diamonds coming. I suspect they put me on a pair of kings.

However, most of the night I just got sucked dry with rag cards. And any good cards were quickly beaten.

Toward midnight I was quite a bit down, but the nut diamond flush hand and a couple others brought me back a bit. I think they were very surprised to see me win. I had become invisible at the table.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Huge Game at Greg's- 9-30

Nine players(Greg, Dewey, Chuckmonk, Silver, Slink, Wild Bill, Phil, Bruce and Peter) showed up to play Texas Holdem on a rare Tuesday game at Greg's. It must be a record. Five is usually a huge crowd.
Peter's two buy-ins went very quickly, but the rest of the crowd seemed to share pots back and forth. Slink managed to be the biggest winner when the game broke with Greg coming in a good second.
I was down $40, but Greg and I played a little heads up and I recouped $30 of my losses with a diamond flush on the river just as I did last week. So I am down $10 for the day. Charlie has not played with us much, but sure showed some good strategies and although he lost, I thought he played very well.
Phil made money I think. This was nice because this was his birthday game. I got him a card and put in some lotto scratchoffs and he won $8 there. Happy Birthday Phil!
We ate pizza from the local Inferno. It was cheap and very good. I brought chili I made from venison and beef. I used the slow cooker, so it stayed hot all afternoon. Mixed with some elbow macaroni it was very good if I do say so myself and the leftovers gave Greg and Ann a supper.
There were no really dramatic hands that I remember. My losses were due for the most part to no decent cards. I never had A-K and never had a pocket pair over eights except for once when my pocket queens were beaten by Slink's straights. Actually, my most productive hand was a 3-9 offsuit played out of desperation. It flopped two pair and beat Slink because he could not imagine that I would play such junk cards and took be for beating hard because I was on a draw.
A yellow jacket buzzed the table and Bill grabbed him, thinking it was a fly. That was poor judgement as the yellow jacket resented being taken for a fly and let Bill know it quickly with a sting on his hand. So Bill released him, frantically.
Well, a bit later someone noticed him in the curtains of the window and I determined to slap him dead as I did not want to be distracted from my gaming thoughts by an angry yellow jacket behind me.
My first clap of my hands merely stunned him, but my second clap dropped him dead in his tracks. Unfortunately, I had to raise my hands up high to get him, and when I did the second clap, my pants slipped down halfway to my knees.
Well, you never saw a table full of poker players carry on so much at that sight. It apparently was the funniest thing they had ever seen. I am happy none had a video camera. I expect it will be a while until I live that down.
It was a fine game with lots of banter and playfulness and no one too upset with losses. Bill and Silver did most of the dealing, and that is always such a treat.
I got to sit next to Chuckmonk and I enjoyed talking with him a bit between action.
I am tired tonight but wired from the game and too much coffee.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Greg's Game

At Greg's I took all the money. Ended ahead $174. Rarely does Greg not win money, but I beat him. His final buy in he played well and ground the $10 in to almost $50, but a 3-6 that caught a straight on the turn beat his all in on trip fives and cleared off the table.

Bruce beat me a number of times with fine full houses. He left early about even.

I destroyed Peter's huge lead by calling his all in and catching a diamond on the river for the nut flush. He had a straight and a smaller flush but my A-10 topped it.

Bill came late and left early and said he just wasn't having any fun. I caught a river ace right after he arrived and took a pot from him to build up some money after buying in for $90 and losing repeatedly. It was really lucky to come back from that hole I dug for myself.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Turning Stone

Well, I got a chance to play my favorite 3-6 game with no kill at Turning Stone yesterday. They had eliminated this game and gone just to 5-10 but I guess folks wanted it back. It felt fine to be playing a game I know so much better than no limit, a relaxed game and sipping some Myer's rum.

Many of the players were very good. One old fellow trapped me good with his full house. But many were just a bit too loose and over bet. I had pocket tens when the flop gave me a set. The turn gave my opponent a set of deuces and me a full house. On the river a queen gave him a smaller full house. I raised him on the river and he reraised me and I reraised him and he reraised me once again. And I gave it up and just called thinking he must have four deuces. Too bad. He would have gone the distance. He knew I did not have four deuces because he had one and odds were I did not have both queens, but he might have seen the tens coming.

I beat this fellow quite a few times and he went on just a mild tilt. We had a banter on my winning with various sorts of jacks. I would warn him I had them. The first time I warned him I actually had a set of 5's, but the second time I had pocket jacks. I won both hands.

Toward the end of the play a delightfully loose aggressive player joined the table trying to steal every pot with a raise. For some reason he had at least $500 in chips with him. I think that is where I finally won my profit.

I chased a few hands I should have let slide. Had I done that I'd be ahead more. I think that the advice in the Tao of Poker about not getting loser when ahead in chips is something I need to think about and may be why I stayed just about even. However, I did have a fine win playing 6-8 when two pair flopped and they held up.

I still would like to play later into the night as I better like the players who come after supper on Sunday. Also, too many players joined us while waiting for no limit games. We would just get to know their style and they would be gone. I see that as a disadvantage; however, it may have helped that they did not know my style and called more of my bets.

Here is the story of out dangerous journey to Turning Stone

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Greg Turns 70

Greg's 70th birthday game was fun. Players included Bill, Peter, Bruce, and Phil, as well as the old, old birthday boy from China.

It was a fine game, but with little drama. Most of us held fairly close to buy ins. Peter took me out one time with Aces full of tens when I had sevens full of tens. But otherwise there were few tricks and few surprises.

I won $93. Greg came out ahead $45 and the rest of the players left their money.

Peter was ahead over a hundred dollars at one point, but it dwindled away and in the end he went all-in in one desparate attempt to build up his bankroll and lost it all. So he lost $10 for the five hours of play.

Good to be home and playing the regular game. It feels like I am in one of those odd couple games on television that Jack Klugman used to organize in his living room.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

electronic dealerless tables

Here is a bit more reaction after my trip on the dealerless tables. I wrote it as a response to an article on Excalibur going dealerless on Vegasmessageboard so some of it is in repsonse to another poster.

Here is the newspaper report on the Excalibur

There is certainly a number of players who enjoy handling chips, and a few very good players who read "tells" effectively by watching the way opponents handle chips.
There is also a lot to be said for having some very pretty dealer to watch and flirt with during the long boring times between playable hands.
However, I have played dealerless at Four Winds New Buffalo Michigan and in the new Horseshoe Casino outside Chicago and there are lots of advantages.

The first is the same advantage I find in all casino games. There is someone else watching the game. In home games I find that so much of my time is taken up monitoring the game itself for misplay and error, that I just get tired. That is one reason I am willing to go to casinos adn pay a rake. It also lessens the possibility of cheating. In the electronic game, the elimination of the dealer eliminates the last of human error and most monitoring is unnecessary. The elimination of physical cards makes marking cards impossible.

The computer deals and cards never get misdealt or mixed up. There is never some card turned over that is the burn card and changes the game in ways you cannot calculate.
No player can play out of turn.
No player or dealer can miscount chips.
The amount of each player's chips is always visible. The amount in the pot is visible in numbers so the math of pot odds does not require converting chips to numbers.
Players who check do it clearly. Never is there ambiguity about who checked or some shifty player making four people after him act before he decides to bet. It can't happen.

Ever sit to the left of the dealer and wonder when it was your turn to bet, or what the player before you looked like as s/he made the bet or evaluated the flop? Ever find it frustrating to protect your cards? In automated poker you see the face of every player just by looking. You can't bet or fold out of turn and neither can any other player. You don't need to protect anything.

If you daydream and forget it is your turn, one of the other players will remind you. They have your name right there in front of them. They easily get your attention.

Also, the speed of the game makes tight play easier to manage without going to sleep with boredom waiting for cards.
This makes the loose guys last for less time. It means waiting out two self destructing maniacs takes half the time it does on a live table.
Dealer changes do not require washing and counting chip trays and shuffling and reminding of blinds.

Screens were easy to learn and use. Most played with their player cards rather than fingers.

Some reported that there was less player interaction, but I think most of those folks have not played much on these machines and just confuse this with playing on the computer at home and so they imagine a similar isolation. If anything, there is more player interaction. No dealer is there to get involved or to dominate every discussion. There might be a bit too much said at times depending on the floor supervision. I would watch for collusion.

Chips may be "fun" just as coins were fun in slots. But frankly I am tired of pushing in the chips on oversized tables to short armed dealers, tired of listening to them whine about it, tired of monitoring some brain dead neighbor player and reminding him to push in his chips because he can't get the idea that the dealer can't reach his chips. No chips drop and scatter when it is time to cash out. No chips splash the pot. No large chips are hidden in the stacks of an opponents smaller chips. Nothing is hidden. I even know the player's name. there is no attempt by some player to give his aging mother across the table chips and no lecture on how only money can be exchanged. There are no uneven split pots, no quarters to build up in my pocket. No noe can underbet by mistake. Try to raise less than a precious player and you just can't raise. No pot will be pushed to the wrong player, the winners cards mucked.

Buy ins do not hold up the game. I can put a few hundred dollars on my card and keep my chipstack at the max of $100, $5 at a time if I want. I don't have to put chips in my pocket and count and recount so as not to be accused of trying to get more than $100 on the table.

Most impressive was the rake reduction in many places. At the Horsehoe the rake was just $3. Compare that to the standard Harrah's $6 rake in their live poker room and add one dollar for dealer tip. They take the promo dollar in spite of the fact that they offer no promotion, only promotion promises.No mention in the article about rake or blinds for Excalibur and yet that certainly makes a big difference in long term play.

However, I think the rakes will change over time to reflect what the market will bear. Right now the idea was to attract new players to the machine games. One fellow reported on a cruise ship where the rake capped at 10%. If it is the only game in town, the rakes will go up. but that has nothing to do with having a delaer or not. It may well have more to do with player apathy. Very disturbing to me is that players just do not care about rakes enough. Rarely are they reported or advertised. In an evaluation of a poker room, I am more apt to learn about how comfortable the chairs are than how much the rake takes or how it is taken. In fact, I never meet a player who undertands how the Wynn rake advertised as 10% capped at $4 on a 3-6 game is much, much better than other rakes capped at $4 and advertised as 10%

Blinds for no limit were 50 cent and 1 dollar in these Midwest games. Another good thing for the low roller and for the tight player waiting for cards.

The Horseshoe put these machines outside their poker room and allowed smoking. So they both attracted smoking players and set up a spot where the live poker players might gather for a smoke. That was the worst for me. The place was worse than the El Cortez in the old days. But for smokers it was a great advantage. The argument for nonsmoking rooms has revolved around dealer health so for casinos that manage to keep a smoking section, these poker tables give them a loophole.

The only annoying thing I have noticed is that it is just too easy, when playing with that little plastic card (works better than fingers for most,) to start mindlessly tapping it on the hard plastic of the poker screen. That can get annoying after a while.

What needs to be invented next is some decorative pointed tool for playing that takes the place of the popular card protectors. I envision a light object that fits over the finger and extends it to a hard dull point, across between artificial nails and an unsharpened pencil. It does not have to be held like a poker card.

I wondered about the settling of disputes. Well, I experienced my first heated argument at a table at the Four Winds. One player would not sit, but insisted on kneeling in his chair. Other players insisted it would affect the bad beat and void it if dealt to this fellow. The argument went to name calling, but soon the floor was called.
The fellow working the floor was not very assertive. He did not insist on his way. Finally, he called his manager. While the player waited to "check the rulebook," he was put in a timeout position and needed to leave the table. He was in effect dealt out.
I thought it worked to diffuse the situation. Dealerless tables do lose the police role of the dealer. But there is less to lecture players about also. The show one/ show all frustration common at the table is eliminated. To show a card or two, you hit a button and the card briefly appears for all to see who are looking. By the way, you can't do this in the middle of the action.

Mohegan Sun in Connecticut takes the $4.75 from everyone every half hour, but I have heard that rakes in Montreal and Hull outside Ottawa are real rakes and not payments for the seat. Ottawa announced they held the largest tournament in the world using dealerless machines.
Turning Stone in NY has a machine or two, but use them only for sit and go games.

I am certain that they will catch on over time. They are a great benefit for the casino as they avoid all the problem of keeping enough dealers around, of labor disputes, of interpersonal difficulties.
The Excalibur argument that poker is somehow fading in popularity is not my experience. I think that is just a casino created excuse to get rid of the personnel issues.
A Vegas dealer I read speculated it had more to do with the position of Excalibur on the strip and with the large number of poker rooms. They simply had not competed well with MGM for the high games and those playing low 2-4 were drifting more to the Imperial Palace and others in that Flamingo strip area, even the little OShea's spread game.




I can't imagine being a dealer and being as open minded as you are here Hurricane Mikey. Very nice analysis. I especially was wondering why Excalibur was talking about the dip in the interest of live poker and your argument makes perfect sense in terms of strip geography. I don't see much dip in poker interest in general. I think if the trend was lessening Mohegan Sun would not have opened their large new pokerroom nor would the Canadians finally get on board with live poker, all dealerless by the way. The casino in Hull outside Ottawa has been advertising the largest tournaments in the world on dealerless machines.

I don't think that computerized blackjack results will dictate the trend in poker because I don't think that the computer improved the BJ game for the player in any way while the computer makes many improvements in the live poker game. One of the hardest aspects of live poker is the time it takes to play it and the patience it requires to wait while the player tosses hands away. The first third of the book Tao of Poker, for instance, offers advice on ways to develop patience. Patience and position are important in live poker. And in automated games twice as many hands are dealt and position comes around twice as fast. This is probably the key advantage to most of the folks who chose these new tables. That an the rake.

You are right that the rakes may go up to what the market will bear. This is especially true if playrs don't look at rakes before they play. But dealerless tables at least makes it possible for a casino to take less money and yet make more money. Competition and consumer choice should do the rest. Your ship example is a perfect case of a situation where there is not competition. Vegas is not an isolated ship.

And I am hoping that live poker players as a group are not as stupid as masses of slot players and VP players who will play anything. But even for them where there is competition, better games emerge to attract the few who know how to read a paytable and loose slots ( or the illusion) will attract customers.

Every hand of blackjack is played. 80% of live poker hands are discarded. Most of the players at the live poker tables point to the speed of hands per hour as a great benefit. Speeding up hands per hour in blackjack for mathematical saavy players (since it is a game with a house advantage for all but a tiny minority) just makes players pay more for their fun.

There is nothing in BJ analogous either to the added stats offered in poker by the computer. The machine tells us at a glance what each player has, what is in the pot, and even offers percentage statistics on all-in hands.
All that adds to the ease of the game.
Also in live blackjack, I don't think anyone plays out of turn as they do in live poker. NOr are other player's affected if one player shows his hand to another for advice.

It is hard to know when it is your turn in live poker. it requires constant monitoring, especially if the dealer is positioned between you and other players when the dealer is really in your way and obstructing your vision.

Sit to the left of a dealer and you have to wonder if the guy before you played yet, wonder how he looked when he checked the board and decided what to do, and protect your cards so the dealer does not swipe them up. And many dealers do not even tap your way unless you ask them and even after asking it is sometimes necessary to "teach" them they must by simply not betting until they in some way indicate it is your turn.

None of this in dealerless tables. You see the face of every player.

No problem with show one/ show all either. No need to monitor that. To show a card or two, a player hits a button as they fold and the card appears briefly for all who care to see it.

As far as the food analogy goes. Vending machines were expected to take over when they were first created, maybe in the 50's, but there the loss of the server who might be able to change the menu item or give advice took away from the experience as well as the assembly line production of the food itself.

Perhaps a more pertinent food analogy is the buffet.

I already tend to choose the buffet over the restaurant because for me it improved the food experience. I don't have to rely on the advice of the server or imagine what the food looks or tastes like. I can try a bit. Sometimes I can even talk to the chef. I no longer have to try to figure out if I want "over easy" or "over medium" eggs. I just tell the cook to make them so the yoke runs but the white is not slimy. Last time I even talked cooks into making me an "omlet" by tossing the fixings right on top of the "over easy/medium eggs." Getting rid of the middleman in that situation is of great benefit.

Also the drinks are included and the tip is less. Often the tip at a restaurant ends up being equal to what I pay for the entire meal at the buffet.

And yesterday at the Four Winds here in Michigan (where alcohol is not free) I cut out another middle man, the cocktail waitressI used their free areas for coffee and soda that they have scattered around the casino and improved the quality and the price of my coffee. Here too I did not have to explain just how much sweet and low I wanted and I could go back and warm up my coffee if it sat too long. And the free coffee was....well, it was free.
I even like the buffets where I get my own drink. That means I can mix my juices, or put a bit of lemonaid in my coke, balance my ice to my own taste, and have my coffee hot, just when I want it simply by walking up and helping myself.
Some like people waiting on them, but for me the best way to be served, is to serve myself.
Some poker rooms in Vegas have free coffee. I think I remember liking the one in Imperial Palace because it displayed a variety of flavors. Again I could add just a bit of hazelnut to my regular.

And while vending machine food did not take much of the food market, fast food places that eliminate the server have done very well, and partly because in the Food Court you leave no tip.

Of course, this is not good news for worker and the dealerless poker table is not good news for the live dealer. I was interested that it might improve service among those who do not care if they do a very good job.

This week I read an old Robert Benchley humorous piece from the 30's in which he described his inept ability to tell the elevator operator which floor he wanted in a loud enough voice and at the correct time. It was funny, just as his essay on the difficulty of getting and keeping enough coal in his furnace was funny. the humor reflected a time before technological innovation made his jokes outdated.

From the dealer's perspective this can't be a good change. From the player's perspective and that of the casino, it is improvement except for those who need live chips in their hands or want the dealer/player interaction and those stuck in comfortable ways like the writers who still only use snail mail. One fellow at my table yesterday brought with him some real chips just so he could continue that shuffling of two stacks into one so popular with poker players. They entertained him in comfortable ways. The fellow next to me had it much easier reading the Poker News between hands.

I know there are folks who go to Vegas just to find a particular dealer who makes them feel good in the way a good bartender might. And I was amused that when the automated blackjack machines created their large blowup screens with virtual dealers, they tended to be beautiful Asian women, indicating that some players want eye candy. Certainly many crave entertainment from a dealer as Imperial Palace found out when they created their Dealertainers.

The problem is that most serious poker players, especially in a no limit game want to concentrate, study other players, and not be distracted. I think electronic poker tables may catch on faster than many expect and that they won't attract beginning players as much as satisfy the needs of those who follow the game well and of those who wait for cards.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Four Winds

E and I went down to Four Winds for the afternoon. She played some 8/5 $1 bonus but short played just one dollar at a time. She was stretching out her $20 for just a little while. She won $12.

Today we found the self service coffee and soda. Nice. No dollar tip for delivery. Alcohol is charged, and tipping a dollar for a cup of coffee which may or may not have the correct amount of sweet and low is not fun for me. There are quite a few self serve spots scattered around the floor. I liked being able to just warm up a cup by topping it off.

There is also a section of smoke free machines and they had pretty good VP. I did not find dollar 9/6 JOB there; it was 9/5 JOB, but the Bonus was 8/5.

I played live poker and left just $6 up for the day after many ups and downs during the afternoon. I found the table full of regulars, for the most part, who were tight and passive so it was an easy game to play, but a hard game at which to win money. One of the players was the best from yesterday's table. It turns out he plays everyday. He has only missed about ten days all year. He was very hard to beat.

I had a few fine hands. I got paid once when I played a 9-7 offsuit just for the hell of it and had the nut flush by the turn. After the river made smaller straights possible, I went all in and was called by a tough opponent to my left.

I had another fine all-in bet when I had queens full of kings and my opponent was almost down to his last bit of bankroll. Otherwise I may have made more money on that one. I made no money on my four sixes. That same fellow bet $5 into me to try to steal, but would not call my raise to $15.

I see some of my errors and will work to correct them. But overall I believe I am ready to play some no limit on occasion. I won't play much in Vegas. I like the volatility to be about a swing of $100 over hours and hours of play with comps and free drinks being the real winnings. I could not play no limit everyday for 15 days.

Now, I have some more observations about dealerless tables.

1. the idea that there is no exchanges among players is not quite true. We had a great time talking and there were even some fishing stories. There were lots of stories about regulars and odd events. It was a fine, friendly table.
We had one fellow who refused to sit in the chair, but rested on his knees in the seat a head or so higher than out heads. I did not like that, but I did not know that the rule was to be seated. Another player took him to task about it out ow worry it would void the bad beat award. The award is now up to $210,000. (Imagine your aces full of kings beat by four of a kind and as consolation you win 105,000.)
The floor was a young fellow and he was much too nice about the issue and permitted the obnoxious kid to argue with him. In Vegas, once the kid said no to the floor, security would be called and he would be ejected. I remember one obnoxious kid who argued with a dealer too long about a hand being not only ejected from the casino but walked to his room in that casino and monitored while he packed his bags.

But I did feel that it did not take much to solve a dispute even without a dealer as the first round of support.

2. Using a plastic card to make decisions is just fine until some player's decide they need to tap it on the hard plastic of the screen. Repetitive tapping is pretty annoying. Since decorative card protectors have no place in this game, I suggest that decorative playing pointers be designed and I may get my own before the next game. Perhaps designing some that fit over the finger and act like a decorative finger nail would be very useful and comfortable.

3. I actually saw a fellow bring in chips and sit playing while he merged two stacks into one stack and played with them. They were of no use in the game, but clearly helped him concentrate and reminded him of the "old days."

4. I want to spend some time at a game with a friend to my right and left and develop a perfect way to be certain that even if someone is looking from above me, my hand is protected. The machine requires new hand positions.

5. Don't confuse players who have no idea how the machine works with players who have no idea how the game is played. When players need the dealer to help them understand blinds and raises, etc in a live game, you know they are not very good or faking ignorance. Here they just have not played using the computer.

6. Number one bluff reported to be working is to make an all- in bet and then fake being upset that by "mistake" you bet it all when you wanted only to bet only a little. The act is on in order to encourage people to call the nuts hand all-in bet or one of good strength.

7. That being said, do not get in the habit of confirming the bet too quickly. I wanted to bet $5 as an informational gathering bet and hit the $5 twice by mistake. I confirmed without really seeing that mistake, so I had to fold a $10 bet when the guy to my left went all in. I got the information I wanted only it cost me another $5.

8. Be sure when you go to the bathroom to go to options and choose "sit out a hand" and then hit Okay to confirm. Then when you come back you must swipe your card, enter your pin, and then you will be dealt back in. If you leave without doing that, you frustrate the table because the machine will indicate it is your turn. You can get timed out, but that is very impolite. When you come back, give yourself time to swipe and enter your pin so as not to miss a hand.

Okay, that is all I have. That is probably my last visit. We go home on Sunday.
See my next post for more response to the dealerless tables.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Playing on the way to chicago

I played poker twice on this trip. ONce at the Seneca Alleghany near Jametown and then last night here in the new poker room at the Horseshoe in Hammond.
I won only $4 playing a limit 3-6 with a $2 small blind and a kill. It was a hard game especially since the rake is that Harrah's $6 with one going into a pot for a promotional which they have yet to announce.
I would have lost much more because I went on tilt after a flopped two pair of K-7 was beat on the river by a K-9 who bet into me the entire time and caught a gut shot straight. This was a kill pot, stakes of $6-$12.
I got pissed and raised my next hand K-Q. A good player took over the betting after the flop but I had an open ended straight draw and caught the A for the nuts on the river. So that was no a kill,b ut it brought me back even and I decided to get out as the poore players had clearly been replaced by better players, and preflop raisers when the stakes are 6-12 is too rich a game for me.
I miss Laughlin.
I lost at SenecA Alleghany playing a no limit game. My last hand I had trip tens with a queen, my opponent TRIP TENS with a king.
So I am down $143 for the trip.
I am comfortable now with no limit, but I sure am spoiled by Laughlin. Thinking about it, I realize that I play best in games with one single blind. Players are easier to put on cards and I can play a tight wait and see game and throw hands away for free.
And compared to what the River Palms does with rakes, who wants to play at Harrah's. For only a $5 cut from winning pots at River Palms, the casino gives back every kind of high hand bad beat bonus you can imagine and free rooms for 6 hours of play. It will certainly be my new home.
The horseshoe also has games with dealerless machines that take a bit smaller rake, but they put them out in the smoking area and they were full of smokers so happy to be playing poker and smoking. It was a good idea by the casino, but there was no place for me in that scene.
I am hoping to play some no limit at Four Winds in New Buffalo Michigan when we get up to Lakeside. I am happy that Slink finally made me start with the 1-2 100 max no limit games as it gives me some flexibility. I don't think I am quite good enough yet, but I am getting it.
Greg's games helped me make that shift. Much of what we do there works in the casino. And there are always times when I consciously become Greg. That betting into weakness is a great technique. One old player at the El Cortez once told me that in limit poker if two people check, you bet. He gave away too much of his strategy, so when he did that, I raised him, but it was interesting advice.
My best hand last night was J-Q clubs on the button with everyone having seen one raise to my right. So I was the only reraise preflop of the day. All called and it was a nice pot when the jack hit the flop with rag-rag. They all checked and I bet and was not called. Another jack hit the turn. I just bet out and one guy folded and another jack stayed with me with a 10 kicker. It was a decent pot.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Turning Stone with Slink on Yankee Trails

Slink and I took the Yankee Trails bus up to Turning Stone for a day of poker. The ride was fine, the bus not so crowded that we did not get a seat together and we had plenty to talk about as always. It was much too hot and even a word to the driver did not get much relief back to us. Perhaps they leave the AC off to save gas. No one else complained so maybe it was just us. the driver was friendly and easy and not long winded in his instructions. He did not treat us old ones like a classroom of babies when telling the times to board and the time the bus would pull out. He did not worry us. He just drover the bus.

There was no movie. We did not need one, but had Slink not been talkative, I'd have been bored on the way home.

On the way out Slink talked me into trying the 1-2 100 max no limit game and I found it playable. I was up a bit in the morning, then down again. At early after noon when we went to the buffet, I was down $8..

After lunch I got down $40 and decided to buy back up to $100 so as not to be short paid on good cards. A few hands later I was dealt K-K under the gun. I raised the typical $6 and two seats away a fellow raised to $12 so that sifted out some late acting players.

Well, I thought as I called, if an ace comes on the flop, I'm done.
Flop was K-Q-X. Two hearts
I was thrilled.
I checked and bettor guy did a healthy bet that left the guy to his left and me calling.
The turn was a rag and no heart so that killed my runner runner king of heart high flush.
I checked and better guy tossed in three $25 chips.
He was a talker.
Here he turned to the guy next to him and said,
"That will make your flush draw very expensive."

So then I knew I had bettor guy beat.
I put him on Q-Q-Q
The guy next to him went all in and so did I.

I turned my K-K
Bettor guy turned A-A
and the other guy turned A-K
No hearts. Only one out could beat me.
River rag and I am sitting with almost $300 in front of me.

Well, I did not like playing that much in one hand nor did I like better guy betting behind me and pushing so after a few hands of listening to that and his endless drivel talk about his cat, I decided to go even if I was sitting next to a young cutie.

Bettter guy was not happy to see his money leaving.
I went to 2-4. The first game was short and bad.
I walked down and played my keno matchplays, $6 got me $12 bet across six games and so I watched the balls bounce into the shaft and at the end picked up my only win, just $2. Even with matchplays it is very hard to hit Keno.

Back at the poker table I was at a fine game full of calling stations. Everyone was in on every flop. So I began to raise my draw button hands. Once I raised on 6-8 just for fun. The guy to the left had K-K. On the flop I got an inside draw and a free card while K-K planned his check raise that was not going to happen. The turn gave me trip sixes so I raised K-K who finally was relieved to be betting his monster hand.
"You must have caught your straight he said as he called. I have a straight but it is smaller so I won't raise."
The river gave me my gut shot straight but K-K had to call me to see it.
He was pretty mad, but then he was mad the entire trip.

Later I hold A-J which Slink has been losing with all day on no limit even after he flops two pair. I flop J-J-9. I am last to act, but I don't bet.
The turn comes yet another Jack.
Well, I figure I win but I don't get paid on this. Even a guy with a nine full might not call my bet, but I figure wrong as a guy with a queen-nine bets and another guy calls and then I call. On the river the Queen makes the first better really happy. He bets. The second guy is very unsure so I take the chip stack off my chips and put them in my hands as if I am going to fold them when he has finally acted. He calles.
I raise. First better calls and the other guys swears a lot and throws his cards away.
So it was a decent pot afterall. No free room, however, like in River Palms.
No free drinks either. All day I've been adding my own Myer's rum from the flask that nephew Chris gave me for my birthday to the "free cokes."
With the bus bonus the buffet cost over $8,.

The freeplay goes like water threw a sieve. I play max bets on a Lion Fish machine where Slink once hit big. There is no reason to try any grinding bets because Turning Stone actually takes back the $25 they put on your card if you turn in a winning card. I was ahead $7 once. Guess I should have taken the seven and booked.

So the bus is not such a good deal as at Foxwoods. But it is much, much shorter. It is $5 cheaper too. So that almost covers the buffet.

Slink lost all day. He left ready for a poker holiday or maybe a 2-4 game switch.
I liked the no limit, but I think the 2-4 pays just as much with less need to concentrate at all on who plays what but just dance the limit dance in patterns and no need to throw everything away either. There 8-9 of clubs is a much better bet than K-10 offsuit. In late position especially. If I was a bit more ready to gamble big bucks, I would have had a fine opportunity with $250 in front of me to win some real money. But I hate risking that much on one bad beat.

And sitting next to a very sexy Asian dealer at the 2-4 was not too bad, especially when she told me that my gentle humming relaxed her. Almost put her to bed. For some unknown reason I was humming the theme from some old TV show (probably rum inspired) and at first I thought she was telling me in a nice way that it was annoying, but that was not it at all. So not having to watch my opponents, I watched her deal. Ah, the delights of 2-4 poker.

Came away just $136 ahead. It seemed I ought to have more than that, but I did not.
Stiill, that is a fine hedge against my losses lately.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bill's game July 23

poker - July 23, 2008

Bill hosted today and Robin came down so there were five of us, six for a while when Bill's son played. it was a fine game, different without Greg certainly who takes control of the table.

I played well and felt well in control. I had good cards, but I also had many folds when hands did not develop. I seemed to know what people had and play right. I lost in the beginning, bought in 4 times but ended $69 ahead.

Bill beat me in winnings. The rest lost.

One hand I remember had Bill with trip 8's after the turn. He bet "all in" but it was not all his chips. Peter reminded him that he had a full tray off to the right. It reminded me of once when Greg bet "all in" and then talked his way out of it when I called with lots of chips. Bill back pedaled so well that I decided to call him although I knew he had me beat. I had just pocket jacks, but the river might give me a flush, straight, or another jack. As soon as Bill back pedaled, i put him on trips at best, so I called his bet. A spade gave me the pot.

I got a bit goofy near the end of the session, the way I might at certain tables in Vegas.
I had been very tired. I was up today at 3AM and then I seemed to shift in second syndrome as an old college friend called it.
So I was singing some old TV western themes and goofing, and making a bit too much noise for the group, and they made me quiet down.
Then followed the old, "They would not let you do that in Vegas" discussion. We have a lot of those discussions, often on odd bits of rules. Bruce will often come up with some odd rule he hears on television that has no bearing on casino cash play. Today he was saying that "soft play' was illegal meaning that letting someone win was wrong. Well, not at our game, certainly. And when pushed he admitted that he got the rule not in casino play, but from watching television.
Oh, boy!!

At Slink's last week it was whether casinos let you see a rabbit run. One fellow insisted they did. When I finally asked where it was at Turning Stone and he agreed it was just once in a while. I was generalizing as I have been plenty places where the rule is "no rabbits" especially if a player complains about it. Nothing that slows down the game is tolerated in casinos.

So today is was about how much noise you can make at the table, how distracting you can be. I have been so often at tables where some lose, aggressive player tries to put us off our game with talk and banter. I know some who think it is just part of the game.

Well, anyway, I don't think these guys would much like the El Cortez after midnight when Action Jackson or any of ten other characters are going into their acts of distraction. I don't sing in Vegas, that is true, but I have been at pretty loud tables. The only rule I know is that you can't talk about a hand or read the board for people, or insult anyone. Otherwise, I have never seen even the worst agitator thrown out. Warned perhaps if it gets on the dealers nerves or a player complains.

Well, in less than a week I'll be in Vegas. At first I'll be at quieter tables, and certainly I expect Laughlin will be pretty subdued, but when I finally hit the El Cortez, well, I don't expect quiet there. If Catherine plays there will certainly be some whoop, whoop and a fine run of commentary.

I'm ready.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Son Peter and I took the Yankee Trails bus to Foxwoods today. I have a voucher, so the trip was free; Peter had a $5 coupon. The benefits are just fine: $20 in keno bets and a free $15 buffet for a $27 fare ($2 less if you book online)

However, it is a long ride, and we had not planned well this time. We had not noted that it was a combined trip, half Foxwoods folks and half Mohegan Sun overnight folks, so on the way out we had to stop at Mohegan Sun first. This would not be much of a time waster if the casino host was there on time and if they would just let the folks off the bus before they explain to them every detail of their two day Mohegan Sun staym warn them about every possible danger, and even be open to questions. Instead the Foxwoods folks must wait for the Mohegan Sun casino host to lecture the overnight folks. She ends by saying if they have any questions they might meet her at her desk in the lobby. I felt that in the lobby is where they should al have met be for the entire lecture.

On the way home one of the passengers brought a fine Johnny Carson comedy tape, so we were entertained. I always forget to bring a few so that the three hour journey back goes a bit easier. some drivers provide a movie. I guess Fred doesn't. This one was a very fine choice, but no one seemed to know how to play the second selection so we had just a one hour break in a three hour trip. And the piped in music was annoying. The quality of the sound is poor. I love Mamas and Papas, but did not recognize them when they sang or enjoy them. It sounded like some teenager had earphones turned up just loud enough to annoy the rest of us and not loud enough so that we could actually catch the melody.

On the way up Peter and I had some fine conversation and that works just great.
The bus driver Fred was very personable. He went over all the details, especially the one about making sure we made the return bus and did not get stuck overnight. Then he also had details for the Mohegan Sun people. He was perfect except he kept saying he was dropping them off tomorrow instead of picking them up and this confused some. He told some jokes so they could not always tell if he was just kidding or not. But in the end it all worked out.

The poker was fine, but both Peter and I lost. I won in the morning on a 2-4 table in spite of the fact that great cards after great cards lost. I lost with A-K three times in a half dozen hands. In the afternoon it went worse and I really lost. I ended $229 down which is a substantial loss for me even if it is only a variation of 1 or 2 hands at the 4-8 game.

Our opponents were not too hard to play. No maniacs capped the betting. Folks were believable and predictable. When I folded my predictions came true, but they were sad predictions. But in the afternoon too my A-K and pocket Kings lost enough to make the table feel sorry for me.

I had to show some and showed others, so that I might get some respect on raises, but that did not work either. It was not a mistake because I really was never in the position to bluff a raise without good cards and very few dropped out when I did make those raises. I tried to bluff with A-K one time againt a guy I knew was weak but he called my bets all the way with his simple pair of Queens and low kicker. I could see him thinking about throwing it in, but he just kept calling.

My best afternoon hand was 4-6 in a blind that caught 3-5 on the flop and a 7 on the river. I had someone betting in to me on the turn, who I check raised after two other people had called him. He called me on the river also. It was unthinkable that I might play a 4-6, I suppose. Maybe showing the A-K helped me after all.

Peter too lost most of his budgeted $70 at 2-4 tables. The morning table was also good for him, but the afternoon caught him. I played with him in the morning, and his play was very good.

The Keno paid us $5 each.

People were friendly at the tables, but not as interesting as Vegas.

I think I like these bus trips better in colder weather when I have been inside and bored for a week. It is just too long a ride even with good company.

I checked again, or tried to, on the poker rate at Foxwoods. As I understand it now, I might get a rate of $69 if I play a while and then ask for it, or I might not. Well, this is of no use to me if I want to sandwich some days between two bus trips.

Yankee Trails will get me there and back, but I would not have a certain place to stay, so I guess if I want to make an overnight trip, I'll book some of the mailed promos (still at $69) and then try for the bus. Even though the bus would cost me $52, it is a good deal as I get coupons for both days, so I eat two $15 buffets and have $40 in free keno bets. All that for about what it would cost me in gas/tolls to drive there and back. But if I drove I could find a cheap $40 motel.

Still, when I can stay in Nevada for under $12 a night, I have trouble swallowing the $69 Foxwoods rate as a "cheap promotion." I guess I need to get over that except that my mathematics of 11 nights of saving $50 a night in hotel expense by going to Nevada more than pays my airfare to fly to Vegas even if the airfare goes up another 50%. Add that to the fact that the first and only time I have tried to book Foxwoods at the $69 rate, they were out of promotional rooms. I suppose sometimes folks hear that hotels in Vegas are out of promotional rooms, but I have never personally been told that in the over ten years of booking promos.

Now if only Laughlin would have bus deals like Yankee Trails. The only promo bus rides I find are one day trips and no luggage can be taken along on the bus. The shuttle is currently $110. So in Nevada a shorter bus trip is 50% more, while the rooms are 60% less. If I were marketing Laughlin, I'd find a way to set up promo bus trips from Vegas in which folks paid for transportation and housing for three or four days.

Day bus rides to Tampa Hard Rock from Crystal River up North where we stay in winter area about the same price as our Yankee Trails, but stay a much shorter time, probably due to rush hour traffic. A short time at a casino is of no use to a poker player.