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. 

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