Saturday, October 27, 2012

Turning Stone/next year Kingston

Ron drove and we went up for the day together.  Actually, we did not get much more time than we would have on the bus, but Ron likes his car better and perhaps we had the privacy of talking without company.

The trip went fast.

Once again I tried coffee.  Three cups and it wired me for the whole day,  but the caffeine leaves me anxious and too wired.

I lost $80 after being ahead for a while.  I played just a small amount of no limit while waiting for a 2/4 table.  I still am uncomfortable even at a table with no real aggressive players as there is too much to watch and consider.  I lost a few dollars when I moved.
The morning is just too tight.  The 2/4 table was almost all regulars. 
But folks were friendly for the most part.

Ron did not like the 2/4 but did like playing the no limit and found a good table near the end of the afternoon,  but he did not win for the day either.

The buffet was just great!  I was off my diet a bit, but I had nice scrod, a seafood and tofu medley, utica greens, squash soup, and I tried a small desert of cranberries and corn meal in a sweet mix that was an old Indian recipe.  Off the diet but a good small taste of a new food.

On Fridays they have a live band with dancing in the buffet area and a cost of just $10.  I had $6 in points so it was a cheap meal and the only one we bought as we left about 6 PM and I was home by 8:30.

No big hands.  No Aces, kings, queens.  One pair of jacks that won.
In no limit I misplayed a hand. 
I had a blind hand of J-6 and it flopped J-6 so I bet $6.  That was fine.  Two callers.  The turn was a 6 and I bet $6 and everyone folded.  I forgot how strong the threat of trips was.  I should have waited for the river, especially since there were two hearts on the flop and none on the turn.  Another heart might have given a flush some spunk and made a decent pot.

I was happy with my play and I was happy with opponents most of the day and especially in the afternoon.  I put my name up for a 3-6 but none opened.  Later on Friday night there is sometimes a 3-6 game. 

I also heard about a Canadian game to try up in Kingston, Ontario.  It is a 2-5 limit.  Nice way to overcome the rake.

OLG Casino Thousand Islands380 Highway 2
Gananoque, Ontario K7G 2V4
(613) 382-6800 or 1-866-266-8422

This would make a great trip.  Just about 5 hours from home with Turning Stone just half way, so a camping overnight there and then some cheap rooms in Kingston would do the trick.  And it it turned out to be a bust (it is a small place) I could always come back to Turning Stone. 
It might be a nice place to camp up there as well with the Thousand Islands not far. 

Off season, the Peachtree Inn looks like a great buy even on weekends.

Lake Ontario is not far.  I imagine quite a few good fish in the restaurants.  Maybe walleye.
Blues is there
and a writers conference

It looks like a fine area for off season prices.  However, in season it gets very pricey.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Foxwoods Last One this year

Hard poker hands at Foxwoods.  I think I won only two pots before I went to eat at 1PM and had a losing session after eating. I ended down $122 for the day My best hand was four Aces and I got paid on the river.  There was a very loose player who could not seem to fold hands that he knew were losers. 
Most of the players were good,  but I would have done fine had I got any decent hands.  I folded a pair of nines before the river and a winning nine came.  That was frustrating.
One hand I caught trip deuces on the flop.  My opponent caught trip kings on the turn.  He had raised on the turn and I had reraised feeling very confident.  For some reason he could not figure that he had the nuts, so he did not raise my be on the river.  It was a surprise to see such a strong hand.  Even the dealer was surprised.  His kings were the nuts.

The players were friendly enough, but not very interesting.  A few joked a bit.

I had a fine enough time.
The buffet was as good as ever.  I ate a couple helpings of mussels, a good spinach salad, some wonderful green cooked at the Chinese section, a sweet potato and a nice piece of corn bread.  I had a very few deep fried clams.  I skipped the sugar free pie.

I played roulette again and had a fun time.  I lost $20, but really had a huge losing session.  I put in $20 and did not notice that my bets were $10 each instead of a dollar.  I hit a black number in the third column and so won both my bets and had $50 after that first hand.  Then it went downhill with plenty of single zeros showing up.  On my free play I played a fifty cent two coin slot and won $5 on the first $10 and then $5 on the second $5.  So all my play outside of poker cost me $10.
They had the ten drawings for $100 and I was there for them, taking a break from the poker table.  No luck.
The old folks gift was a cheap little bag that is worn about the hip.  I was disappointed in that, but the two free coffees woke me up and I did not get tired until the end of the day. 

The bus was almost completely full, but I found a seat next to a very friendly woman and we talked Vegas all the way down.  On the way back I watched a movie I had seen before about a tour guide in Greece who finds happiness and love. It was funny and passed the time.  Then I napped.
On the bus I met Brenda Temple's nephew and also the first wife of Ward DeWitt, Marion.  It was fine to see her again.  She told me Linda Jackson had retired.
I had dreaded the bus ride as the $11 price meant every seat was taken, but it ended up one of the easier rides.  You never know.

This one cost me.  The cash price was $11 but I needed to use up the last free voucher which cost me $20 in points.  I have more than $40 in comps, but Foxwoods won't clear them out in January when they do the clearing for the year.  At lest that is what the host told me when I asked.  They should still be there when I go back next year.  I hope that is right.  I would otherwise have used them for lunch and used my buffet ticket as a matchplay.  I may do that anyway on the next trip, but I might also do an overnight with my points giving me plenty of free eats.

I'll miss the poker in Florida.  It is not as good there.  I won't try to play as much as I do here.

No more news on Mohegan Sun poker room closing, so that may have been a rumor.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Atlantic City – October 8 to 12

Overall it was a fine trip except for the gambling score which left me $799 poorer, a huge loss for just 4 days of gambling.  I consider that large for 23 days of gambling in Vegas.  Most of it was in video poker.
Well, here are all the details.

The problem I faced is the same problem I face in most live poker venues.  The games were dominated by locals who play every day and all know each other. They played well and tight.  Pots were just too small to overcome the rake in these games, and unless I got a run of very good cards, I could not expect to leave with much profit.  Even then, the tightness of the games meant my good cards were just not paid off.

At Bally’s I found a game I love, a 2-4-6 game.  About my third hand I caught broadway on the turn.  I just called because there were people behind me calling and I saved my raise until the river when I could raise $6. 
Two people hemmed and hawed but called my raise, although they knew that I was representing that large straight or a smaller one that was also possible.  I suppose was new to the game and they could not put me on a winner with enough certainty to fold.

It was a good pot. But after that the tone of the game changed. 
After a while I held pocket aces. There were only six players left at the table and they were likely to fold preflop with anyone showing any strength. 
I did not raise preflop. The flop looked good;  it even included a king.
A woman held a king and bet $2 after the flop. I raised $2. 
She folded her king and showed the king but not the kicker. 
I could not believe she folded top pair that she had bet with just my $2 raise. 
So while my pocket Aces had held up fine, the pot was tiny.  I actually showed the aces, because at that point I could see no advantage to staying in that game.

My best session was one evening when I just got great cards all in a short while.  I was in middle position and three times my low pocket pairs caught trips on the flop.  Twice I slow played, and a bettor just a couple players behind me emerged with callers, and I check-raised at some point depending on the possibilities.  One time I was on the button with everyone in the hand, so I did a button raise.  Often with low cards that both builds a pot, gets me a free card, and disguises my hand.  This time I did not need a free card because I caught trips on the flop.  I bet each time and quite a few called me because it looked like I probably just had a high pair, and my trips held up and took down a fine pot.

Second best session was one where I had a young, no limit player to my right who was very aggressive.  Few raised in this game preflop, but he raised often and with hands that I would not have played.  It was fine to decide what I might play based on how he bet because he dominated the game and determined the action.  I did well, but did not get good cards enough to take full advantage of my position.  High pocket pairs would have let me use his raise to add a reraise and push out all the drawing hands.  I never managed that.

He could read the people, so his aggressive style did win chips.  He was skillful.  I wish I could read people better than I do.  I am left with just tight play as my advantage, providing the rest of the table are loose players.  I rarely can guess what people hold.

I was attracted to the cracked Aces promotion at Harrah’s and that was perhaps a bad idea.  These locals all followed those promotions, and they especially loved this one. They came and played very tight, basically playing for the cracked Aces. The same pattern happens at Imperial Palace and Flamingo in Vegas.

I left one game once I realized that the pots were just not going to overcome the rake and there was no one to pay me whenever I caught good cards. 
Over the course of my play for cracked Aces, my single pair of Aces won that hand, so I did not get the $100 bonus.

There was constant talk of the “bad beat,” but I think I still like playing at tables with high hands, although the one “bad beat” I caught in my life was when my quad Jacks were beat at Imperial Palace in Vegas and there was no bad beat jackpot at that time.  While there is plenty of talk about “bad beat,” it is a true long shot.

Some of the players also did something that really astonishes me on a 2-4 table. They failed to bet the nuts on the river when they were head to head.  I am likely to check raise the nuts, but they missed that bet even when they were second to act.  Those extra 4 dollar bits in the pots pay the rakes.  I can’t understand the attitude that skips them.  However, I guess these guys play with one another every day and have just decided not to increase the rakes by increasing the size of the pots when they are heads up.

I liked the players.  A decade ago, when I was last in Atlantic City, I seemed to find the table dominated by old whiners.  This time the guys were lively, positive, funny, and welcomed me easily into the group.  But whenever I get up to Atlantic City again, I need to change the way I select tables and look for softer games.

Part of the issue may simply be that I wake up too early in the morning and tend to play morning poker.  This is a mistake in almost any venue.  In the morning is when these groups of locals arrive and few tourists play.  Late night is when the games are the softest and I never am up past midnight.  I need to develop a nap structure as I do sometimes in Vegas that lets me start playing fresh at midnight and catch as opponents the players who are tired or drunk or the its-only-money crowd.

It also may be a Catch 22 that I came off season when many tourists are not coming to Atlantic City.  The rooms are affordable, but the fine opponents, the passive callers, those who play third best hands, they were all in their regular lives at home.  On some tables half the players folded preflop on a regular basis.  That is not my game of choice.  I want to be the guy folding preflop while everyone else is playing anything for $2.


I should not have played this video poker as hard and heavy as I did.  I really have not practiced the strategy, so that put me at a disadvantage.  It is just that finding any full pay VP games is rare in venues outside Vegas.  9/6 JOB existed, but every time I played it I would catch quad 3’s or quad Aces and wish I was on the more volatile game where those quads paid out huge amouts.

I caught quad 3’s once with a kicker for $200 and quad Aces without a kicker twice for $200.  The rest of my sessions were very dry and that contributed to my rather large loss.  I did not get quads much otherwise.   I suppose it did seed Harrah’s group for some future offers.  However, this is a huge loss for a frugal player, playing only 4 days.  $200 a day is not my bankroll. 
I had four to the royal so many times.  Just one lucky pull on those possiblities would have kept me even for the week. 
Of course, in Vegas I stay for 23 days, so it would really be beyond me to play as much as I played here in Atlantic City.

Part of what happened is that I knew this was my last VP for a long while.  In Florida over the winter I won’t gamble very much at all and they have no decent VP.  I don’t really do well at the Hard Rock in Tampa and I expect to just skip going unless I am picking someone up at the airport or have some other reason for the trip.  Maybe I’ll go down on the bus.  And the Silks has not worked well for me either.  So I pushed the envelope this trip.
The Atlantic Club offered a promotion that gave free slot play to any new cardmember who played for 30 minutes.  I played some penny slots at 5 cents a pull.  Then I thought it must be $30 and not 30 minutes, so I played a quarter slot for a while before heading back to promotions.  However, I could have gone after the first 30 mintues playing at a nickle a pull.  I was down about $10 when I got $10 freeplay. The freeplay was on scratch cards in a large drum and might go up to $1000.  A car was in there somewhere as well.   It hit for a profit on the freeplay and I left $16 ahead, having had some frugal slot fun.

I also played a bit of the video roulette at Showboat.  I like that slot because it is a single zero wheel and it pays back high (house advantage is just 2.70 percent compared to the average of about 90% on other slots.  I also can play for a while, using a low volatility betting pattern of one dollar on black and one on the third column and so covering most of the numbers on the board.  I won $10 just playing that pattern.  Sometimes I take profit dollars and put one on a number, say 17 for one spin.  Sometimes I increase my bets with wins, hoping to catch a streak of luck.  But I was content with just a bit of play this time and a frugal win.  I can get a similar deal on any wheel that plays the enprison rule; however, I can't play for very low stakes.  It is a losing game in the long run, so I want to play low stakes for just a while to have the fun of it.


Bringing my bike was great decision. The new Atlantic Club is trying free parking to attract players. They have an outside lot, so it was very easy to park and ride my bike up and down the boardwalk. What a great place to ride for an old guy. No hills. No traffic. Plenty to see. I shopped for cheap dollar hats, locked the bike along the railing to play poker, and just enjoyed the whole experience.


 I loaded it on the back of the van, parked for free at Atlantic Club and had an easy ride to the boardwalk.


There were plenty of restrictions on the beach, but you can note that riding a bike is not one.  I did not ride in the sand, however.

I could just wheel the bike up to where I wanted to look out.

I could also lock it right on the boardwalk fence along with my helmet and then walk the beach as long as I wanted, or shop, or play some poker inside.  The nice thing about owning an old bike like this is that if someone did manage to steal it, it would not be a tragedy.  In fact, I always have to decide whether to lock this old guy up or put a sign on it that says, "Steal this bike, please."

Note that the bike lock also locks my helmet, so I don't have to carry that into the casino. Photobucket
The rides were not without incident.
Once a small bungy cord got caught in my gears and I thought I was done but I managed to pull it out and there was not damage.  I was a bit greasy, but my hands cleaned up easily at Bally’s where I played a bit of poker and then rode home.  I was sure my arthritic hands would drop the lock key, but I managed to keep that from happening.  All the plastic on the key snapped off and I am left with a very little bit of metal.  I’ll have to find a day to drill it and put a larger key chain on it for another trip.  I did drop the horseshoe part of the lock and had to go down on the sand under the boardwalk to retrieve it, but that was no big deal. 

I have been stubborn about upgrading to a more comfortable seat, so my butt is the first thing to tire.  Here along the boardwalk, I could take plenty of breaks to shop or take a photograph or gamble.  It was fine to have a place to ride.  I can’t really ride here around my house as the roads are too hilly and there is no shoulder and what space exists on the narrow county roads has too my gravel for my comfort.

The times allowed are only 7AM-10AM in most months, but in October they are 7AM-12NOON and again at 4PM-7PM.  I actually rode some of the board walk as early as 3:30 PM and passed patrolmen who said nothing to me.

I found driving through the crowds very easy on this wide boardwalk.  The hardest thing was to remember to check behind me when other bikers came up on me and passed.  No one made much noise to help with that.  If I happened to swerve around walkers just as some biker was passing me, there would have been an accident. 

Here are some views of the Boardwalk


Here is the casino I think looks best with all its interesting shapes and towers.


 It has some interesting design instead of just the modern angles in so many of the others.


I did spend some time walking along the beach.  It was deserted for the most part. 


It was too cold to swim there and not allowed anyway.  I was happy to have the pool back at Harrah's.

I used to collect shells, but they never look as good once we get them home and they lose their salt water shine.  I do like the found art look of them. 



I see that this poor fellow had been playing 9/6 DDB as well.

I don't think I would ride all the way from Harrah's to the boardwalk, but going to the Nugget would not be impossible.  Actually, walking would be easy enough, and I think I could bike to Borgata without too much tough traffic.  I did not do that this trip.  I might have used more time exploring and less time at the video poker and come away less behind in funds.
I do hope my play will generate some free rooms or good deals in the future.  I talked to one fellow who would take his cards around to other places and try to match his tier levels.  I can't do that, being the lowest of the low.  I probably do best by just taking the deals that Harrah's offers.
I'd play at Harrah's in vegas if they offered full pay VP.


I had read that the rooms in the Waterfront Tower were the nicer rooms, so I asked for one.  They gave me a room on the 28th floor facing out over backwater with even a long view of the ocean on clear days.  There also was a long bridge with traffic at night winding along.  I loved the view.  I could see fishermen on some days and see gulls down by the water.  At my level I watched some circling bird.  It was not an osprey like those around the lake here, but it was some such bird and fun to watch so high up in the air.
Nice heavy curtains shut the light perfectly from these large windows.  I have not been in a room that had so much to see and yet could be closed down dark for sleeping.

The entire room was very upscale and delightfully clean and comfortable.  It included refrigerator and coffee maker and 42 inch TV.  It had a large walk in shower with a great soap strainer and a seat. 
I don’t stay in rooms of this quality in Vegas.  It was priced at about $44 dollars a night with all the fees and what not included.  Using points I got it down to $25 a night.

The parking was fine.  It cost $5 once and after that it was free.  On the first day they gave me one opportunity to park free at another Harrah’s property.  The other days I would have had to pay for parking in other locations without the promotional parking of the Atlantic Club.

Parking in town was also too much of a hassle.  Everything was metered and My van with bike did not really fit well into the short parking spots even if I wanted to pump quarters in the meters.  Quarters are useful on the Gardenstate Parkway as well with a fee every little while of 75 cents to $1.50.  I had a good bit of spare change to get ride of and thought the exact change bins were the best idea until one jammed and I could not get it to operate even with $3 in coins.  I am hoping that I don’t get a mailing with a photo of my car and a fine for driving through.  The attendant waived me along, but who knows.  After that I just went in cash lines with people.


I had read this was a good pool and it was.  It is covered with a huge structure of glass which lets in sunlight and gives space for growing palms and other greenery.  The pool is large and there are a few hot tubs set behind  and out of view of the pool area.   Some nights at 10 PM the place becomes a night club. This is a wonderful way to use space.  The pool hours are 7-7 and I really liked that.  I woke up every morning at 6 AM and the pool would give me something to do.  I was there to see the soft lights come out at dusk and it looked wonderful.

I also liked the security.  If I wanted, little lockers were available for me to lock up valuables.  I did not bother except once.  Pool visitors must have proof of being in a room and they are checked in with ID, so that the person in the room is the person showing the room ID.  I liked to see the security filter out folks who might want to steal.

I don’t know if I will stay at Harrah’s if I go again.  I wonder if the players at Showboat are more tourist types, and I’d be happier at those poker games or others along the boardwalk.  I heard that Caesar’s rarely has a limit game, but when they do, it is the softest.  However, that usually means weekends and I am not likely to earn free weekend nights anywhere except Vegas.

I would hate to give up the pool, but having my bike would give me plenty to do in the morning on the boardwalk so that might be a good tradeoff.  I would not have the good video poker, but given the cost of that game this trip, it might be good not to be tempted too often.  I would not play low pay tables in boardwalk casinos, and I want to play only at Harrah’s because that is where my play may generate mailings.


All that nickel/dime/quarter stuff along the Garden State  and parking fees at the hotels and the meters on the street is probably the most frustrating part of the trip.  Vegas is so open and free.

Driving down went well enough, but it is not my favorite kind of driving. I am not comfortable in aggressive driving venues with the unblinking lane changers and the tailgaters.  I drove in the daytime both times.  Going in I had figured the traffic patterns well, but coming home I hit the middle of my trip at rush hour and so encountered some hold ups.  If I go again, I guess I’ll wait the last day and leave around rush hour to hit the real traffic two hours into my journey.  Once on the NY thruway, the driving was easy, so I could manage that in the dark with no trouble, especially since my new glasses sharpen every image and reduce glare.

I had brought a cooler full of food, and so I ate most of  my meals right in the room.  My diet is strict now and the prices for food are outrageous.  The Harrah’s buffet is $32.40 and not very impressive.  I just walked through.  And while buffets are my favorite because I can always find plenty to eat that is on my diet, I don’t get that kind of value.

Discussion board friends recommended the Sack of Subs shop and I did have a good wrap there once, but I don't eat even the carbs that are in a wrap and my own food was much cheaper. 
My cooler contained:  pecans, peanut butter, wasa crisp bread,

I ate two buffets at the Atlantic Club (old Hilton) at $14 (with tax)  and those were worth the price because they included steamed clams and nice salads, summer squash, stewed tomatoes, sliced tomato and onion with horseraddish,  as well as some other treats.  I ate a sweet potato and a bit of a low sugar blueberry pie and one slice of sugarfree cheesecake.  The iced tea was very good there.

I also ate at Mcormick and Schmick's which had affordable lunch prices.  I had salmon salad and some mushrooms.  I don't recommend the mushrooms.  They were called wild, but I suspect they should have been called canned.  I ate at the bar and that was pleasant.  Service was great.  They had other entres which at lunch were just around $15 so it would be an affordable place to grab a late lunch and make that the meal of the day.
  The rest of my meals were in my room.  I looked around town for some interesting places, but did not find anything that attracted my attention.  I was going to search out this spot, but the one day I might have gone there, I had left the address in the room.

The Atlantic Club only serves the cheap buffet on weekends.  I stumbled into it on Wednesday because the cafĂ© was closed that day.  Also, if you go be prepared to wait in line after you pay.  There is a place to sit along a window, but bringing a book or entertaining phone is a good idea.  For some reason they are not prepared for very many customers and it takes a while to get a table.
It was lucky that I had a coffee pot because I had left my traveling pot at home.  I drank my green tea often.  The trick there is to run the water through the pot once to warm the cup and then the second time to steep the tea.  I always carry a cheap ceramic cup with me as well as a cheap bowl and silverware.  It was fine to dine there in the room with a table provided and  television.  No tips to consider beyond what I leave housekeeping.  This trip I just tipped on my way out and skipped housekeeping the other days. 
The key to making good tea in the coffee makers is to run the water through twice, once to warm the cup and a second for the steeping directly on the bag.  I always carry a ceramic cup with me for tea.  It is comfortable, makes a good drink, and washes easily so I keep more foam out of the landfill.

I had much easier access to downtown eateries if I rode my bike. I saw a Thai place that would probably fit my diet and wallet. Next time I may try some smaller eatery off the boardwalk.
I can't eat the junk food that is sold along the boardwalk or I'd have had a dollar hotdog and some taffy. However, next time I might plan a meal at this place. Indian food is definitely encouraged. Their menu is a bit pricey, but the selections fit well in my diet.


So, overall I want to go back to Atlantic City again.  However, off season will give me poor table selection.  I used to encounter the same thing when I went to Vegas during the cheap room times in December.  Now I go in more popular times and the games include poor players as well as the regulars.  In strip games I may find a table with just one or two regular rocks.  That is fine.  The same is true of Foxwoods even during the day.
I enjoyed the people.  They were just average New Jersey old guys, but they were good humored.  No extensive whining.  They had plenty of gambling stories and sometimes something else thrown in the mix.  Ron at the Harrah's table had just come back from Italy and could not stop talking about it.  He so throughly enjoyed the trip that it psyched me up for the French trip.  One thing he mentioned was the good taste of the Italian mozzerella which he mentioned was made from Buffalo milk.  Today in the NY Times I see the whole story of that process.  I almost wish I was eating cheese again.
Harrah's was hosting the Ms. Senior pagent, so there were all these old women in beauty pagent banners from all around the country.  My favorite on looks was Ms New Mexico.  I stopped and watched them dance a bit at one of the rehersals.  They were terrible, but I enjoyed the whole idea and enjoyed seeing all the different outfits.  It was not a beauty pagent.  It could not have been.  Many of these women were far from beautiful.

The day after I came back was my 66th birthday.  Here is what my son Keith wrote to me:

I decided to celebrate your birthday by heading out for some poker last night. Good decision!

At 11:00 I bought in for $300 at 2-5 no limit. At 4:30 I left with $4560. My best poker win a long shot. It was incredible, I couldn't lose. Some good cards, some good reads, some nice draws hitting, and some bad play by others. It was a blast. I didn't want to leave, but I had to get some sleep before the kids woke up

Meanwhile, this hat I bought rather sums up my video poker playing.  It happened plenty of times.



Monday, October 1, 2012

Foxwoods day trip

I took the day bus to Foxwoods.  $15 got me the ride, a buffet, and $10 freeplay.  Foxwoods gave me 10 points just for showing up.  That is $10 toward a future trip or toward meals if I ever go for overnights.   I had a fine day although I did have to encounter two of my least favorite opponents, both grumps and annoyingly sure that their opinion is the only opinion that matters.

One is a woman who declared that Florida was boring and she preferred Europe, especially Italy.  Few details and no stories.  I talked about how we rent and what we get, but she was only listening to herself.
The other is worse.  This pock faced guy just whines and moans all the time.  Nothing is ever worth celebrating.  He drives me nuts.  Then he is overly critical of every rule he can find.  This time he was on me for not being able to see my cards.  Then when he has a turn of luck that makes his cards ready for a fold, he always needs to look and look and talk to himself and give a whole lecture as if the game is only about his cards.  He holds up the action when he knows he is going to fold.

Otherwise I met some friendly and sometimes funny people.  One fellow named Bill remembered me from another day.  Another fellow missing all his front teeth was a good no limit player but did not do well here.  Another fellow named Bill had been one of the guys who taught the dealers how to deal before he retired.  He was a good player and easy at the table.  We only knew his past from what another player said and he never imposed his view.  And a third fellow named Bill was about 100 years old and acted it.  I had to look away not to see his cards.  He took a long while to evaluate his plays and he was often in hands he should have folded.  One young woman was a good bit of fun.  She was joking and very friendly and fun.  She reminded me more of Vegas.

I had good cards and I won money in the morning, but I lost it back on rivers in the afternnoon.  Once I had the flush and raised with it, but the guy with the bare Ace still called and caught.
I had pocket Aces twice and kings once. 
Playing 9-10 I flopped the full house, slow played it until the turn, and then caught most of the other players with even river calls.  It was my best pot.
I lost with trip 2's, folding them on the river to two opponents, one who had the flush and the other who had trip 2's with a higher kicker.
I felt on top of my game, and I felt that I left the table at the right times and switches tables at good times as well.
But in the end I lost $31 at poker.
I won $6 on freeplay in a quarter slot.
I won $5 playing my pattern on the single zero roulette machine.  If I had not taken profits to play the 17 each time I was ahead, I would have won over $10.
I found a 9/7 Double Bonus but it was in dollars.  It was in the last few minutes of my stay, so I decided to try a $20 bill and bet four hands.
On the third hand the machine dealt me a straight, so I cashed out $15 ahead.
Total losses for the day at Foxwoods were $5.
However, once again they gave me $10 in points just for showing up.
So, the day was one of profit with all things considered. And it is a great savings not to drive.  It costs me $60 in gas to drive and I don't get a free buffet or freeplay.  I do get to stay longer.
The price is still down to $15 for October.  I paid cash for this trip, but I'll just use up my $20 voucher for the next and lose the $5 as it is getting close to the time to go to Florida and over the winter I might easily lose my points.

I have found a place to stay, so I may make a few days of it and just walk to the casino from the hotel, about half a mile.
Weekday prices are $79 and I could walk there and back from Foxwoods or pay $6 by cab for a late night ride home.  She said if I stayed 3 nights, she could make a deal.  I thought I'd offer to skip breakfast, skip housekeeping and see what she might suggest.  It was a small breakfast anyway and would not give me much more than a piece of fruit.

One troublesome rumor is that Mohegan Sun is closing its poker room, probably within the month.  Folks at Foxwoods say it is unreliable anyway.  So, I guess that won't be an option for me.  I would not like getting stuck with games folding up at odd hours.  I have enough of that at Foxwoods.

Next week I head out to Atlantic City for four nights at Harrah's.   I hope the weather stays good.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun trip

I was disappointed to cut my four day trip to Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun in half, but there were a combination of factors.
Sleeping was one. I did not sleep the night before heading out and finally got up and fixed my cooler of healthy food, packed my bags and car and left early for Harvey’s house thinking that I’d just sleep the day there and be fresh for a night of poker. I napped along the way in the car, but the sleep apnea snoring woke me up. When I got unpacked at Harvey’s I gave sleeping a huge opportunity, but I just could not seem to drift off.
So I went to Foxwoods and played until after rush hour and headed back to Harvey’s.
It was fortunate I did not push the envelope. The route was supposed to be under an hour drive and it took me over 2 hours with two huge bottle necks of construction where three lanes had to merge into one and creep by road workers. The drivers were aggressive as well, ignoring the signs that a lane would end soon, and fighting for each inch when it was time for the merging. 

It was not the kind of driving I like. 
I don't drive well at night now.
New glasses did help, but still it was frustrating.
To merge myself I had to cut off the person behind me and that made me nervous, but there was no other way to merge without just saying, “Okay, so hit me if you have to,” and going when I had to go.
Getting out to the casinos in the morning was no problem. But I knew I did not want to fight this fight at 2 AM, even if I got a good night’s sleep.
Then finally, I just did not feel good. I think I may have had a reaction to the shingles vaccine. My body flared up and ached everywhere, so I was uncomfortable and just not having a good time even when playing poker. I was too tired, too achy, and too nervous about driving. I hate driving.

So, I packed up the next morning.
I might have just driven home from Harvey’s then because I woke up again at 4 AM with not that much sleep. But I had bought a deal at Mohegan. For $20 l got $30 in food at Margaritaville and $10 freeplay. If I went home, I’d be out $20 and I still had to eat somewhere, so I’d be out even more.
I thought I’d go ahead and drive to Mohegan and at least use the freeplay.  As it ended up spending a nice day there.

I’m home now and feeling pretty good, but not at all sorry to be in my house where I can sleep anytime I want.
I also realize the advantage of going by the old folks bus to Foxwoods for just a day. If I dont’ sleep before the trip, I will sleep on the bus.

Of the two casinos, I like Mohegan Sun the best. Even feeling punky I felt my spirits rise to the look of the place. It is just like walking into a piece of art with all the decoration in glass and odd angles and patterns. I love walking through the place. This piece of blown glass sculpture was stunning. I did not take my own photos, but here is one

In comparison Foxwoods is like walking a modern mall. There are a few pieces I like, but generally it is just boring. There is plenty of wasted space that could be used for art. Even where a few pieces of sculpture are collected there are long corridors of bare and boring.
One thing that always confuses me at Mohegan is the parking.  It is a huge casino and invaribly I park far from the poker room.  Because I was early, I had to wait for the games to open, so I took a walk back to the car to get a book to read and a jacket.  Both Mohegan and Foxwoods are kept pretty cold all year around.  Most dress in added clothing.

So I decided to exit where I had parked and head for parking closer to the poker room, so that when I left tired, I could just go to my car. margaritaville is right next to the poker room, so if I ate just before leaving, I'd be parked right for that walk as well. I took directions from poker players and from help on the floor, but nothing really told me exactly where to park. 
They said I did not wanted the Riverview garage, but the Sky parking.  It might have been easy had I used the valet, but I like to be able to revisit my car and like to park myself.  It took me three times to actually figure out where to park. Each time I left the lot, the exit took me a mile down the road before I could enter again.  It was doing multiple approaches in an aircraft.  Finally I realized that the Riverview parking was fine if I used the East access to the casino.  The West put me far away from the poker room.  Now if I can just remember all that.

The two poker rooms are also a contrast. Foxwoods is in the basement, almost dungeon like, with at most a view of a few pines out glass that is a long way from where we play. And the lighting is dim.
Mohegan is bright and cheerful and right there in the midst of the casino, not down in the basement.
Mohegan used to deal 3-6 but it is just not popular anymore. In both places it is 2-4 and Foxwoods offers the convenience of $2 chips while Mohegan still has just the $1 chip. I think at one point they had $3 chips for the 3-6 games.

I found Mohegan more populated with average and poor players than Foxwoods and that there was more conversation and story telling. It may have just been the day and the table, but I like a bit of entertainment while I throw away 80% of my cards.
At one table there were two old guys talking baseball. However, it was old baseball. One guy said he has not followed it since the 70’s and they were really talking about the 50’s. They could remember all the players. One guy did a good portion of the Red Sox team in 1949. I am not a sports fan, but this was just great stuff. 

They spent a long time wondering if Jimmy Piersall was dead yet (he isn't as far as I can tell)  but they steered clear of how nuts that guy acted.
These two guys had been raised in the Bronx, so it was curious as to why one had become a Red Sox fan.  He told the story of meeting the players when he was about nine on a stopped train and trying to get autographs.  He kept getting pushed from place to place by the older kids.  A player noticed that and came off the train and down directly to him so he could get an autograph.  I forget the player's name, but he was a favorite.  So, from then on this man was a Red Sox fan.  It goes to show that loyalty can often be created by doing something nice for someone, especially a child.  We might remember that and apply it to other places where loyalty is appreciated.
I kept wondering why one old guy looked so familiar and finally it dawned on me. His voice and manner of speaking was just like Humphrey Bogart. So I told him that and he laughed and said he had heard it before, but he did not get it himself. He said Bogart was a harder character than he was. I wanted to ask him to say, “Here’s looking at you, kid.” but I thought that would be a bit pushy.

At Mohegan I also found some decent VP. It did not give points for play, but the pay tables were 9/6 JOB and 9/7 DB. I played the 9/7 and did badly until I was down to just $13 of my hundred when I hit the 4 Aces. So I quit $113 ahead.
Of course, this play does not compare with Vegas. There I play 10/7 with a progressive royal, cashback, and points that bring me free 3 day weekend hotel rooms. But at least I had a bit of fun and got lucky.

These machines were located near a bar just before I passed into the section of the casino where the poker room is located.  There were lower pay tables in the mix, so you have to look.

At the poker I did well except for one session at Foxwoods on the first day. At my worst I was $62 down after the first day. It is 2-4, so I don’t expect much profit. If I break even, I am content to have been entertained and to have had a shot at a bad beat or high hand prize. 

I also have been playing $20 on a roulette machine at Foxwoods.  It is a dollar machine and I put $1 on the black and $1 on the last row and that gives me a bit of plenty of numbers and reduced the volatility.  Then if I get ahead a dollar, I put that on 17 all by itself.  I don't much like playing slots, but this is fun.  Also, I know that the vigorish is 2.7 on a single zero machine, so this is a slot that pays 97.3% and that is not bad.  I like knowing it.  Anyway, I was up and down.  The 17 never came when I bet it.  The zero came twice.  I ended with a $10 loss.

At Mohegan I moved from my first poker table where the baseball was talked out after finding one with more action and huge pots. I know that many players, especially NL players, hate it when so many stay to the river, but I like the pots to overcome the rakes. I hate it when I have the nuts and win $6. Here at this second table there was one fellow betting or raising every time. He was to my left, so that was not good except for check raises.
I got terrible cards, nothing good at all. I was just tossing cards and watching these pots being bet and called and perhaps won with just a pair. Other players were loose too. It was not uncommon to see a huge pot and then the river Ace high or one pair take it down.
My two best hands were hands I should not have played. I was a blind for a Q-6 and got caught in a squeeze and just decided to see the damn flop for the capped $2. A six came on the flop. Then I had to call the one bet flop and turn because I was pot committedm and only the guy to my left was making one bet each time and who knew if he had anything at all. At least having him on my left meant I was effectively in last position for each bet. 

The river gave me trip 6’s. I check raised that one. 
The loose guy turned over his busted Aces and said, “I could not get you out,” and thought "Duhh!!" and wondered why he thought that we could tell when he had a decent hand like Aces, since he bet or raised every hand he got.
For the largest pot I was on the button with 4-6 of hearts and just decided to play one time with most everyone in the hand. I thought if I raised after not having made  a bet or playing for a long while, I’d get respect from the guy on my left, and others. Forget that. 

Here again before we were done, the betting was capped preflop. Along the way of the play I had both a straight and a flush draw. On the river an Ace gave the guy on my left a straight, but I had a bigger one. At this point it was just the two of us. 
He bet. I raised. he reraised. I made it $16, and he just called to find that I had taken a really huge pot with a higher straight. That was his last hand. Having stacked up piles of chips and then found them bled away,  he had kept trying to get his money back, apparently unaware that unless he just got lucky, his play would drain him. 
And here he had gotten lucky, but I had gotten luckier.
He quit and went home. We had been in two hands together to the river, and I had beat him on both.
I let the button come around, but bet no more hands and then I went home. 

The game had changed.
The pot builder was gone. 
Weird that I had won all my profit on hands I should never have played. But all the while I sat at the table I got A-J a few times and 8-8 were my top pocket pair.   Nothing else of value.  Most of the cards were total junk or A- X little, too expensive to play with preflop raises.
I remember having A-Q with Q on the flop.  I checked, hoping to check raise, but that one time the loose guy folded and it went around.  A jack came on the turn.  A guy ahead of me bet and I put him on the jack.  I kept betting my queen, until the river.  He had Q-2.  There is the reason not to play that low kicker crap.  He had thought my letting it go all around with no bets on the Queen that he had my jack beat and he was pretty annoyed that I had slow played A_Q.  I could not explain that it was not slow play, but the desire to check raise and get a bunch of money in a pot that I had a strong chance of winning.  If loose guy bet, he would be called by folks with no queen, but a King or Ace or other pair because he just bet every time, except for some reason this time when I wanted him to bet.
I am amazed at how annoyed some of the players get when I do something that is against what they consider good play.  Checking that and raising the 4-6 were both motivated by me desire to control the loose guy to my left.  Each time I failed, but it worked out.  
And the 4-6 was also a hope that I might get a free card after the flop.  That did not happen.   
So I left my gambling adventure with $199 profit. This is a great profit for these low level games.

There were some straddle players at the table, but none that straddles every time.  Once I was midposition and held K-Q offsuit.  I raised the straddle and ended winning, so that became a topic of discussion.  The fellow next to me was polite.  The way he put it was that he had only once had a hand where he could raise a straddle.  Quietly, without informing the whole table, I told him that generally if a hand is playable, I either raise a straddle or I fold.  On a table like ours, my raise and the promise of a cap at the end of the betting would push out all those odd straight/flush draws and leave me with opponents I could play.  If an Ace came, I'd be done.  None did.  A queen came and I bet it.  Now I looked stronger than I was.  Down to just two people, my queens were good and did win the hand.  Had it gone badly, I could have gotten out.  This one cost me just an extra $2.  Many straddle players won't make the cap raise bet if they have seen strength on the table unless they have decent cards, so it also gives me that information.  Finally, it discourages the straddle itself.  The worst straddle players is one sitting to the left.  Every blind I have is then is raised blindly by this guy.  I often move if I am in that position, especially if the rest of the flops usually are seen for free in other big blind positions. 

Margaritaville is overpriced as has been mentioned on some of the boards. I had a good salad and their expensive jerk salmon with lots of vegetables. I ate at the bar as the place was packed and I did not want to take up a table for just me. I also went off the wagon to have a margarita. With the coupon, the meal was not too bad.
I like the idea of Margaritaville but I am aging out of the music played where food is served so the ambiance leaves me less than happy. If they just played old Jimmy Buffet singing his songs in that fine quiet almost folky way, I’d have loved it, but it was all drum driven rock and lyrics I could not follow. 

So, I won’t be back. 
The drink was fine, but overpriced. The salad was good, but average. The salmon was just great. I want to get a jerk sauce and do it at home.  (Actually, I tried a recipe after getting back but it was not as good as their recipe.  Perhaps I'll buy a jar of their sauce but technique might also be a part of the taste)
And I loved it that they doubled the veggie mix which was cooked perfectly. It all fit my diet.
It was the only food I bought. I ate on points at the Foxwoods buffet, having salad, veggies, Tuscan soup and filling up on two plates of mussels with lemon and salt. 

I sure love mussels.
girl with mussels - wikicommons
I ate a sweet potato for dessert along with a small blueberry sugarfree pie with the best crust I’ve eaten at a buffet. My diet is pretty strict now and I was off it a bit, so that added to the fun of the meal. Foxwoods again gave me 10 points just for showing up. Since I use them as fast as I earn them, that was like $10.
The rest of my “meals” were just handfuls of the food I brought, including that great bean dip I am making of chana dal beans, this time whipped up with kale, garlic, tumeric and black pepper. I also brought along some hard boiled eggs. That is a great bit to eat along the road. Then I had nuts to snack on and some fruit.
My food budget is much smaller on the piscatorial and egg but no bread/rice/pasta vegan diet. I did eat too much.

Along the trip I listened to Hillary Clinton on disc reading her memoir and it sure made the time go faster.

I thought that it might be a bit too politically detailed for me as I’m rather exhaustipated with all the repetition of the same political stuff, but it wasn’t. Much was personal and the politics was more about how it all made her feel than any arguments, except for the famous Women’s rights are Human rights speech delivered in China.  China blocked it from live television, but it became an inspiration to women all over the world.

It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls....It is a violation of human rights when women are doused with gasoline, set on fire, and burned to death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small. It is a violation of human rights when individual women are raped in their own communities and when thousands of women are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war.
If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely -- and the right to be heard.

I wondered how I had not remembered that speech.
Harvey’s place, where I stayed the night, used to be Harvey and Alice’s. Alice was a staunch feminist, active and involved. It was fine to have this speech to hear when thinking about Alice. She died just a few months ago after a long and difficult fight with cancer in which she modeled inner strength and determination. With experimental drugs she stretched her four months to live into almost six years and did it without complaint. I thought about Alice a lot on this journey.

My drive home was easy. I drove a bit faster than I usually do, had no traffic in Hartford, or anywhere really. No construction hold ups. One promised delay I never saw. I think I left the highway before I would encounter backup due to that accident. I was home in two and a half hours, not much more than it had taken me to go to Harvey’s from Foxwoods. 

I did miss a visit with Harvey. Well, next time.

I did discover that If I were to go early Thursday morning and leave late on Friday night that would be a good trip for me.  I could find a cheap hotel for Thursday night and get plenty of actio at Mohegan into Friday night.  I could take one of those excedrin PM to sleep.  They generally work.  I don't take them too often, but I'm less worried now that my liver function test is back to normal . meaning the diet has also probably taken a build up of fat out of my liver. 

So I am healthy enough on paper, just not feeling perfect this week.  Even today I feel achy and tired.  

So time for a nap.  I have my own bed here.