Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun

I took a pre-holiday solo trip to play some poker and see Johnny Mathis.  It was a great break from all the holiday planning.  I did fine in the 2-4 games, but I could not win at the Foxwoods 4-8, so I ended up down over $300.  Not a good score.
All the rest of the trip was delightful.

I had decided to see if I could not get a last minute deal on a Mathis ticket.  I know most of these tickets are comps given to slot players who don't value them but get them and then sell them or give them away.  When I checked the box office early in the day, a woman approached me who had two tickets and wanted $30 for both of them. One ticket at the box office was $35.

I only needed one and she would not split them, but that gave me the idea of price.  She told me that few of these shows are sold out and there are usually people trying to sell or give tickets away.  So about 6PM I headed toward the box office and on the way I saw six people talking about tickets.  I waited a bit away from them, and then said, "Excuse me, I wondered if anyone had an extra ticket for Johnny Mathis."  
Four of the group just left, but two fellows talked to me.  They had two tickets, but one fellow was not sure he wanted to see the show.
"Were you looking for a free one?" he asked.
"I was looking for a $15 ticket," I offered and that made him decide he did not want to see the show.
I did not pay attention to where the seat was located, but just headed to the theater.  
The place was huge.  I can see why they do not sell out.  It was like a huge sports arena. 
I realized I should have taken a look at where the seats were located. 
I was guided downstairs and then seated seven rows back and right dead center in the middle.  I have never had a seat this perfect for any concert.  Amazing luck.
Johnny looked and sounded great.  At 75 he is younger looking than I am at 64.  His voice was still pretty much the same.  That unique sound was so important to me in my high school years.  I was impressed and very pleased.

I expected the show might be Christmas dominated. Some take the theme so intensely that little other music happens, but this was a relaxed show with Christmas music and all the favorites and some newer songs I had not heard before.  He also sang “Crazy” from his new Country music album, “Let It Be Me.”  
I loved it all.
Behind him was a 30 piece orchestra.  We don’t hear or see this sort of thing often.
The set was soft and gentle.  There was a huge backdrop portrait of an old New England town covered in snow with just the lights of a church showing.  It seemed perfect.
All in all the show was a throwback to shows years ago. Not too much glitz and glitter and the music was not loud and in our faces. It was relaxed. Mathis is a relaxed, almost shy fellow anyway. He just moved a bit to play to different sections and sang the songs. It was about two and a half hours with a fifteen minute break in between for the bathroom and a water fountain. 
I have never seen such a long show. 
It all seemed simply wonderful.


There will be an interesting broadcast this Thursday.
Also on this site I get some of his music playing nonstop and it is fine to write this trip report to it.  Just now he sings with Ray Charles, “Somewhere over the Rainbow.”

Here is a review from Reno that also reviews Gary Mule Deer, whose fine comedy was sandwiched in between Mathis.

Maybe I’m one of the few who has not heard him.  He was really funny and had perfect delivery.  He sounded like Johnny Cash, but only finished one Cash song.  His jokes were aimed a good bit at seniors, a good choice for this audience.  I’m going to search him out and see his Utube clips.

Here is a local interview:

Johnny also sang with guitarist Gil Reitgers. This song was included.

I gambled the first two nights at Mohegan Sun and had such a fine time joking with other players.  The first night we all got to hear from one young woman who accepted a marriage proposal at the Mohegan Sun bar that night.  She had lived with the fellow a while, but she did not really expect the proposal and it was fine and fun.  Her best man played with us as well as did a very pretty girl who was his brother’s girlfriend.  She had a dry sense of humor.  She knew nothing about the game.  She would toss in her cards saying “Call” and someone would say, “ You mean fold” and once she said, “Well, they are the same in my world.”  I loved it.

There too was a delightful young black woman and her man who engaged me in a bit of joking and talk, and a cute personable Spanish girl with the coolest black cap. She was out of money by the second night but watching a family member and she was fun to sit with.  
I played right next to a dealer from Foxwoods who liked to raise preflop. I wanted to be to his  
left because of that.
I only really could use the position one time. I had pocket kings and reraised to eliminate the competition. It worked, but my hand ended up so good I should have just called and kept more people in. I caught a king on the flop and the turn and river were both deuces. He knew what I had, but he paid me anyway.
Then there was a young fellow who pretended he did not know anyone. Not Mathis or Lena Horne or anyone. He had me going for a while until I got that he was putting me on. He was very funny.
We also had a good discussion of jazz when he asked some serious questions.

I loved playing and talking with all these characters.
I ended up ahead after two days and about 17 hours of play.  

Then on Monday I went to a serious 4-8 at Foxwoods.  I want to learn a bit more about playing these harder games which are more poker and less luck. If I can get more comfortable, I can play the game at the Venetian.  Most of these folks know one another and play with each other often, so that puts me at a good disadvantage. They also play the game better than I do. 
I started aggressive, lost, and showed I was playing crap. I had had the experience at a 4-8 the night before at Mohegan when as soon as I bet, they folded. It helped me with pocket kings that held up as two people stayed with me to the river and had just a smaller pair. So I go paid, but I was lucky that the kings held up.
However, the rest of the morning was just terrible and I played poorly. 
By the time I reined in my bad play I was down almost $200.

I should probably have quit earlier, but I kept hoping I’d get some of my losses back.  All day I had just one full house and other than that not a hand bigger than a straight and few of those.  The full house was a strange 4-6 that flopped full.  I had some pocket kings and they won but lost with jacks and queens.
The only thing I did not like is there were a couple arrogant players. One old woman was the enforcer and any variation from strict rules, she called. She was annoying. Another fellow was a know-it-all and was downright rude at times. Most of the time these arrogant folks don't play as well as they think they do. I took pots from both of these folks who were surprised at my strength.  
The good players say very little and if they do think they can play better than I can play, they keep that to themselves because they don't want me to leave. One fellow did say he folded because I had a "glow" when I flopped my full house. That was good information. I'll try to work on that. I used to try to pretend that I had bad cards and try to believe it myself. Generally, I had not thought my expressions gave much away. In that hand another fellow called me to the river.
The dealer at Mohegan also gave me a good tip. He said that when there is a lot of talking, that means the guy has a good hand. I had never heard that. He said that was how he suspected I had a good hand with my pocket kings. I was joking about them too much with him. 
We did not have many head to head battles. We more or less stayed away from one another. I liked knowing he would raise just before me so I might throw away good but not great cards, especially things like Ace 8 or Ace 9 which I probably should throw away anyway. Also, I think he was smart to raise preflop on big cards in early position. That way he gets out the cards that might draw small cards and beat him.
I had a funny hand at Foxwoods. I like to raise on the button with suited middle connectors in games where most people play big cards, if everyone is in the pot. It builds a pot, disguises my cards, and often gives me a free turn card to draw to a straight. I should not do it with unsuited, but this one time I did, as everyone was in. At that table that meant that most had large cards, and it might mean that those were used up and not coming on the flop.
This time the flop did not help me at all. After the flop they all checked to me and I checked. My free card was a nine on the turn and one fellow bet just before me. I called and everyone else folded. He had pocket jacks. A nine came on the river. He bet and I raised, was called, and took the pot. Well, that caused some stirring of talk.
"You raised that preflop with 8-9 offsuit?"
"I did"
There was amazement all around.
For many of them that also identified me as a poor player. I certainly do not explain my thinking. Sometimes I just say that I felt lucky. I had not bet at all in a long while, so I liked offsetting my rock status with an unusual bet. But it did not help me because afterwards I never had any cards where I might show the power of betting out or raising and want to be called.

I was pretty careful, but I did have a bit of an on tilt experience. I don't play video poker because the pay schedules are so bad, but I was down a bit my first night of live poker and still not ready to drive back, so I decided just twenty bucks in the Double Bonus. Now in Vegas I play 10/7 DB, but here it was 9/6.
Well, my twenty ended up being $80 in. First I had made the mistake of hitting max bet for the first $20 and that is much higher than just 5 quarters. I had stretched it a bit by hitting the double up for any win on a pair and actually went three times once and won all three. But it dwindled as I played. Finally, I hit four 4's. Only 5 coins in, but it was enough to give me almost $40 profit and I cashed out and breathed easy.
Ironically, the pay table had not affected my play because I never hit a flush or a fullhouse. I sure was happy to see those nice paying quads; however, I wish I had hit them when I was playing max bet by mistake. I did not have the guts to try the double up on those quad 4's. I suppose it was the best bet in the casino, just like free odds on the dice, no vigorish, but I guess by then I was off tilt.

I stayed the weekend at a Ramada in Groton where the inexpensive hotels cluster.  It was a few dollars more than the cheapest Super 8,($123 total for both Sat-Sun taxes and all) but had better reviews and an indoor pool.  I liked it.  It was not very fancy, but fine enough. I could actually park my car and see it out my window. I was on the first floor of two floors available. The service was great.
One of Gary Mule Deer's jokes was:

"If the room is $29.99, you better just skip the complimentary breakfast."

Well, this was one of those breakfasts. On the other hand, a bit of orange juice and some oatmeal is plenty to start my day. I brought two ceramic cups this time, so I could avoid the Styrofoam bowls in the microwave.
Across the street was a Walmarts and the room had a coffee maker, fridge and microwave, so it was easy enough to eat there during relaxed non poker time and watch a bit of television. 
The pool was very shallow and the jacuzzi was very old.  It may have been brought to Groton by the first Connecticut pioneers.  Still I enjoyed swimming around a bit, especially on Monday morning when I had the pool all to myself.

The television lacked my TCM so all the television was commercials.  I can no longer tolerate commercials. I'm spoiled at home with being able to tape and fast forward and with Roku and Netflix. While having my bagels, I flipped between Bing Crosby in Holiday Inn and some other easy to follow story, but sometimes the commercials were on both stations.
I did have wifi, but I forgot to pack my external speakers or that would have entertained me.

I told the fellow at the counter that I was taking immune suppressive drugs and nervous about bedbugs. He said that he had been there three years and no cases had emerged. He was worried about guests to went to the cheap places, did not like them, and then came his way as the cheap spots nearby had had some cases. Of course, that was good marketing, but he also talked about his mother, struggling with cancer and on immune suppressive drugs, and her fear that just getting a cold might kill her. So I don't think he was just marketing. My humira is not at all that serious, but I do worry about the bugs. I checked completely and everything looked great.
Both the fellow and I agreed that it was not so much about cleanliness but just about luck. Still, I wonder if folks who have not treated bedbugs in their homes might also be folks who don't want to pay an extra few bucks to stay in a hotel. Or perhaps the slightly more expensive places get less traffic and so the odds are with them for less infestation. Just a thought.

The ride to Mohegan was about 8 miles and almost a straight run along the river on an uncrowded road. It was an easy drive. The drive to Foxwoods was a bit longer and windy. I liked it in daylight as it was through country with many old stone fences, some horse farms. At 3am I'd rather be coming back from Mohegan Sun as the turns were less complicated.

I drank too much to drive the first night, so I was not comfortable driving back at 2 or 3 am and waited until almost 5. It was a mistake to drink late into the night. But the poker was entertaining even into the early morning.
They gave great alcohol. On Sunday I had Glenlivet and they really brought a double so two was it for the day. After that I had virgin bloody Mary's. I asked for a bunch of olives and the waitress brought me three in my bloody Mary and another cup full of olives, maybe twenty. Well, that was supper. Amazing!
For the most part I ate bagels in the room, but I did have a free buffet at Mohegan Sun.  It was really delicious.  I like it better than the Foxwoods buffet, but that may be simply because I am used to that one.
Particularly tasty was a braised lamb and cavetelli pasta and a medley of roasted vegetables.  Other things looked very good, but these were so tasty, I made my meal on them.   I had a few deep fried shrimp that were quite meaty. The deserts were very good as well. There was a good bit of fruit and as well as a normal salad bar, I saw some fancy cold salads. In the spot where they must do the morning omelet was a pasta station where you picked the pasta and the chef put it together with anything you might like. I could not try all these tastes. I'll have to return.

I love the Mohegan Sun casino decor. Foxwoods reminds me of an overgrown shopping mall, but Mohegan is just full of glass and beads and colors and Indian shapes. It is like walking through a piece of modern art. I was sorry not to have the energy to pack a camera and share some of the sites.
This fellow captured some of the visual ideas a couple years ago.

Hit "older" so see some of the idea of the place.

The poker room there is brighter too.  In Foxwoods you do down in the basement.  At least this trip I played where I could see out the window and watch the pines move in the chilly wind.
I expected snow on Sunday, but the storm blow over and I had all clear traveling and an easy drive back home on Sunday.  I waited until after rush hour to leave so as to hit the confusion of Hartford when there were fewer cars.  Even so I exited once too soon.  The GPS brought me back easily, however.  Cost me just one minute in my ETA.  Then halfway home there are few cars on the road at all.  No tolls either.  I picked up a ticket, but was not charged either way.  I am not sure why.  Gas for my van is about $40 to $50 round trip.  Not a good daytrip,  but for three days of gambling, not so bad.  Often I go with friends, but this time I wanted some time to myself and the ability to be flexible around my own comfort.  I slept very well, did not push it so as to be overtired and all in all, except for playing over my ability level, it was a good trip.

Well, I can never remember many of the jokes I hear, but here is one from Gary.

In  the senior citizen home yesterday I heard an old man say to an old woman,
"I bet you can't guess how old I am"
and she says,
"Sure I can, just drop your pants and I can tell."
So he drops he pants and she studies the scene a while and then she says,
"You're ninety -two years old."
"Well, I'm be dad gummed," he says, " how did you you figer that out?"
"Why it wasn't very hard at all," she answered, "you told me how old you were at breakfast this morning."

Joke 2

So it seems Arizona has conducted a resent poll on the illegal immigration issue to see if it was really bothersome

27 percent of those who responded said that they were very concerned and wanted he government to do more about it.

70% percent said,
"No creo que haya ningún problema"

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