Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Jerry Silver

Jerry was known as the Rule Czar at poker  To my knowledge he never played in a casino poker room, but he had a clear and certain sense of how the game should go, and he usually got his way.
Actually, the last time I saw him, at a Gregg game,  I insisted on my way. 
He liked playing in my regular seat to the right of Gregg and had taken that seat away from me the week before. 
I came early.
I "locked" up the seat with my card protector and my chips.  He still wanted to unseat me, claiming to actually hold the seat I had to be sitting in it.
"It is common in a casino to lock up a seat with a card protector," I explained.
"But this is not a casino," he countered.
Still, even with his argument developed, he relented and let me have my regular place for our last game together.  As I remember, he won big.

In the old days it would take a long, long while for Jerry to make decision on how to play a hand. He would sit and figure and try to remember.  He would do math in his head or seem to.  He never quoted percentages. 
In later times he speeded up his action after taking plenty of ribbing from everyone.
At the old games at my house, he would deal the game.  I liked that.  He was the first I knew who volunteered to do that and it was a huge relief to me.  I hate dealing.

One day he showed up at Burden Lake on Saturday for a game scheduled for Sunday. 
"Am I early?"  he asked.
"Only by one day." I answered.
He came in, and we played a bit of head to head Omaha for an hour or so.   I won, so he was doubly frustrated.

In the last couple years Jerry has been a Facebook friend who played MyVegas and he was generous in remembering to send me chips whenever he could.  One time he wished he could send me his loyalty points (those that are used to directly redeem comps in Vegas).  There were times when I was out of playing chips and what he sent me got me moving again.  Wild Bill shared my comps the first trip (BeeGees Tribute, a couple buffets) and Elizabeth and I used $700 worth on our last trip.  Thanks, Jerry.

What I will never forget was the way Jerry would fold his cards when he had waited a long, long while to act and finally had decided to be beat.  Once he gave up hope for that hand, he would fold and mournfully say, "What a shame!"
His expression, tone and phrase seem to perfectly capture my feelings as we are forced to let him go this week. 


Silver, Gerald O. HARTSVILLE, S.C. Mr. Gerald O. Silver, 60, formerly of Waterford passed away on Friday, November 29, 2013 at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina after a brief illness. He was born August 6, 1953 to Reuben Jacob Silver and Mary Bayerle Silver. He was vice president of Business Administration and Finance at the Sage Colleges for more than 30 years. He relocated to Hartsville in 2010 and took the position of vice president of Business Operations at Coker College. Jerry was a member of the Delmar Businessmen Bowling League and a Siena College alumnus. He was a member of the Coaches Club of Siena College Basketball, a member of the Stadium Golf Course league and also an avid New York Yankees fan. He was preceded in death by his mother. Surviving are his loving wife, Cindy Theilmann Silver; devoted children, Samuel Silver (Kerianne) of Clifton Park, Matthew Silver (Jessica) of Saratoga Springs and AnnaMae Martin (Jesse) of Buffalo; a granddaughter, Charlotte Marion Silver of Clifton Park; his father, Dr. Reuben Silver of Wilmington, N.C.; a sister, Kathy Pearre (Howard) of Winston-Salem, N.C. and many nieces and nephews. A private memorial service was held on Sunday, December 1, 2013. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society , P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, OK 73123-1718 or cancer.org. Online condolences may be made at hayworth-miller.com. Hayworth-Miller Silas Creek Chapel, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Published in Albany Times Union from Dec. 2 to Dec. 3, 2013

Bill Neuman:
Dear Cindy and Jerry's family, I just re-read the Jerry's obituary and noticed there was a place to offer condolences. To say I am shocked and saddened by Jerry's passing is an understatement. We were friends for almost 50 years. I first met Jerry at Saturday morning bowling when he was in 5th grade. Until he moved away and a few college years we bowled together in a league for 40+ years. We won a city league championship together with the Delmar Businessmen. He and I bowled as teammates and against each other in the Action Lanes Classic for over 30 years. We had great times in Lake Placid, first fishing weekends, and then when the fishing turned sour, golfing. Great memories of our Ironman competition and the Battle of Saratoga golf matches with John Safarik and John Sterrett. It was an honor to be Jerry's best man at your wedding. I remember someone telling me at your wedding, that I was supposed to prank your car. So I filled up the hubcaps with stones, only to find out you took someone else's car. I'm very glad I made an effort to go play poker this past August and ultimately, seeing him for the last time. I will miss him very much. Our Friday night Delmar Businessmen and Lake Placid golfers are planning a get together to toast Jerry and share our memories, very soon.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Turning Stone when the bad beat was over $260,000 and even Aces full of Kings qualified

I am not a great lover of bad beat bonus awards.  I think I could play for the rest of my life and not hit one.  I get tired of hearing it, hand after hand, as if cheering the dealer will make it happen.  The repetition bores me.

I especially don't like what CET did.  They increased the bonus rake to $2, and then spread the bad beat hit across all the CET poker rooms in Vegas.  To do this they had to drop high hand awards, cracked Aces awards, and the easy freerolls that even tourists can join.  That change, the erosion of hourly comp value by the huge increase in buffet prices, and the end of really cheap/free room offers at The Quad after renovation and resort fees drove up prices has pushed me right out of the CET game.

Two Vegas trips ago, I arrived when it had just been hit.  If high quads must then be beat, and they are raking $2 out of each pot, I am in a losing spiral. 
The same thing happened in Atlantic City.  It was hit at 2 AM the first night I arrived.  The next day, I just went to the Taj instead.

The high hand bonus pays have the same odds of being hit every day.  That seems a better deal for those of us who don't play poker every single day.

I don't like the Turning Stone game.  It is fine for no limit players, but limit players find it especially hard to overcome the rake.  If pots are small, the house might be raking 25% of the pot rather than the 10% advertised.  At the flop they take $1, at ten they take $1 and at $12 they take the bad beat $1.  And small pots can be common if at a table with local rocks. And we pay $2 for a card and permission to play.   The card must be visible for the bad beat to be paid.  It adds another level of rules and paranoi to the game.  The dealer too must check.  Recently a dealer was fired because a bad beat winner did not have a card, and a law suit has started because he got slipped a card after the win.  All that just to milk us a bit more.

I also don't like it that the tables are often not full tables, and the players are rarely the inexperienced loose players that limit games need to build pots and overcome even a 10% rake.

However, when the bad beat is this high, table selection changes radically  and so the attraction of the 2-4 game.   With such a high bad beat payout the limit games attract no limit players and newbies. Not all tables have many of these folks, but I find if I keep moving, and especially if I try to move to a table as it opens, my table selection improves.  One of the mistakes I was making at low limit is not moving enough.   I'd get $100 ahead and then find I lose it in the later part of the game.  This makes sense because the players now know how I play, and the poor players have lost bankroll, and I am more weary.

Turning Stone normally has trouble (during the week) having two tables of 2-4;  during the high bad beat times, they sometimes have 5 tables.  This makes a table change easy.  Because of the long wait on lists, it is usual that a new game won't start completely full.   Some of those who signed up are doing other things.  So when a new game opens, I just ask at the desk, and they move me from my full table to the beginning table just as they are starting it up.

I did not expect to carve out a day to play at Turning Stone in the middle of all we are doing to get ready for Thanksgiving, for migrating to Florida over the winter, for a river cruise in Portugal, and so any Christmas things we do must be done this week.
But my sons and wife bought me a new rowboat for my October birthday, and the marina where I expected to make the arrangements is half way between my home and the casino.  So I fitted up the details on the boat and drifted up for some poker.  Just a little bit.  10 hours.

In the beginning the tables were full of local rocks and mine was not full.  I could grind out a few dollars if I were lucky, most of it from one loose regular who still has me confused.  He played with reckless abandon, and yet everyone there knew him. 
So strange. 
But around 3 the table got down to 5 very good players and there was no sense that it would build back up again.  So, I trusted my gut and left with my $56 profit.  I played $20 of it on a really low pay table (8-5 Double Double Bonus machine. 
I hit nothing. 
In fact, I never got short paid because I never hit a flush or a full house.  Playing just a few dollars and quitting if a quad is hit is a decent strategy.  The poor pay table can only grind me down if I keep playing. 
So I took my now $36 profit and headed to one of my favorite restaurants in the world, The Savoy in Rome. 

It was in between the lunch and dinner crowd and I was all alone in this relaxed and interestingly decorated dining room.  Linen was on the table.   A nice chianti (Glen Ellen Concannon) can be had for $5 a glass.  Background music is lounge like jazzy.  I asked the name of  femal vocalist on CD, but they did not know. 
Sinatra came next.  It is restaurant eating the way I remember it in the 50's. 
The place is decorated with everything from a large photo of Alex Haley to a gallery of generals and colonels who ate here when the air base was still open. 
Here is another traveler's review that shows that painting.

Here is a video that gives a flavor of the place.  But when I went this time, there were no people until later in the meal.


Ten dollar specials right now included a baked chicken and I had that.

For some reason I could not call for a spot on the list at Turning Stone, and when I got back to the poker room, I was on the list for a third table. 
These were good players. 
One said he used to run the room there at Turning Stone and told about the issues they had with collusion on no limit games, especially by folks coming out of Syracuse for some reason. 
Limit games rarely are good venues for collusion.  If they are, you will see a lot of capping the pot preflop.  Here there are hardly any raises preflop.  So we really don't have to worry as much.

Raises are especially rare during the quest for the bad beat.  Folks don't want to push out hands that might beat them, especially those suited connectors or one gaps. 

I don't play that way. 
I play poker.  However, I like it that I am the only one who raises preflop. 
Generally, I don't raise midway anyway.  I might raise on the button on $2 betting rounds if I have suited connectors and passive callers.  I might raise to build a pot, to see a free card, and to disguise my hand.  I might raise pocket Aces or Kings in early or middle position.  I don't raise A-K anymore in limit. I think I lose as much by announcing I have a good hand as I gain in building the pot.

I did not raise much this day.  The games were loose enough and folks hitting the flop would not wait for my continuation bet, (when I just check for a free card) but bet out in front of me when they caught on the flop.  So I would get fewer free cards than I would with a full table of passive callers.

A woman got table sympathy when she flopped trips and I called her with open ended on the way to Broadway.  The turn gave me an Ace, and I raised her.  The river kept me in with the nut, and I bet.  She called. 
The generally whispered scuttle was wasn't I a jerk for playing the open ended straight.

I switched tables not so much for that, but also just to start with new folks who had not seen me play and had new money. 
That was a great move.  A
s the poor playing folks lost and moved on, they were replaced with other poor playing folks.  And there was plenty of friendly banter and joking. 
I liked it. 
I enjoy the poker, but even more I enjoy good humor and good stories.

The tight, good player next to me was a dairy farmer.  That day he had transported some meat cows for someone else across the Saint Lawrence River.  The wind had been up and it had been a bit of a rough ride.  But the cattle managed it well.  It was a great story!  I told him about Vegas in December when the cowboys come to town.

I got great cards.  My favorite hand was one in the big blind when I held 3-7 offsuit and it flopped 4-5-6. 
I got plenty of action.  So much I feared the river would kill me. 
Two people were all in, so there were three pots.  On the river a 3 came, and I had to split the main pot with a woman who went all in with 7-2 (and no where near the blind.)  I was happy she had not been in all along.  She was not happy.

There was a no limit player who showed up with his red chips, talking about not liking this game because he could not push anyone off a hand, and clearly not in tune with limit poker.  He said that it was at that table where the bad beat would be hit, not at no limit tables.  So, he said he had his hundred to give it a go. 
For a no limit player $100 is nothing.  One bet.  I like that.  I can grind those guys down.

And he played like money did not matter, but could not get aggressive reraises from anyone to make it a maniac table.  He lost. 
He put me often on hands he was certain I had and I shook my head yes, but he was rarely even close.  I did have to not try to push him.  No river bets with busted flushes or straights.  He was not folding Ace high on the river.
When I left, his banter was not about a hundred anymore.  It was now two hundred.
At one point the old good player next to me asked me what the guy had meant by a comment that he was ahead, when the old guy had it on the turn. 
"He doesn't know what he is talking about, " I told my neighbor on the quiet.
And then I added, "But don't tell him."

So many times I've been in limit games where bad players are chastised for what they say or how they play.  Sometimes the criticism is so sharp, the bad players gets up and leaves. 
A poker table is not a classroom.  Teaching need not occur except through experience.
Pleasantly agreeing with idiots is often an winning poker strategy.

The closest we got to the bad beat was one fellow had quad kings and his opponent had Ace-Queen with an Ace and two fours on the board.  Had he held pocket Aces, we would have all been big winners.  He looked pretty disappointed.  He was a young fellow, perhaps not used to much poker.

One regular I've seen often was in a state of almost terminal depression.  He lost and left.  It seems a few weeks ago he had held a small quad and been beaten, but at that time it was not large enough to qualify for the bad beat.  So he was both frustrated with the game this night and carried all that sorrowful baggage with him as well. 
He did not interact much with the table banter. 
He annoyed us by too often folding his hand face up and so changing the game for those of us still playing.
He did not appear to be having fun.  He reminded me of those animals that pump well water.  Strapped onto long pole they walk over and over in a circular route and just walk around and around, over and over.

I was tired enough to go home about 9AM, my usual time with the over 2 hour drive to do to get home, but the game was still hopping, so I stayed a while longer. 
Then the players dwindled to six with the poorer players going home, and that was my cue to leave.  I went home with my $183 profit for the day and in bed by 1 AM. 
To win over $200 at 2-4 limit is pretty amazing. But that is what can happen when you get good table selection and minds are focused on the pie in the sky instead of the picnic basket right there on the blanket in the field.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun October 2013

Foxwoods sent me two free nights at Two Trees Inn, a short shuttle ride  from the casino, so off I went.

The ride through this part of the country should have been stunningly beautiful in autumn with colors at peak, but rain and mist obscured most the beauty and a progressive diarrhea managed to grab my attention.  This is not an easy journey for finding bathrooms.  
At the same time in between the fall fund drives I found some very good NPR shows and I had my Jack Teagarden  on disc and my own thermos of fresh ground coffee, so the 3 hour drive was comfortable enough.

I headed to Mohegan Sun to play there in the afternoon until my Foxwoods room was ready.  I sure do like that poker room.  I could move with my small bankroll from 1-2 NL to 1-1 NL and then to a rare 3-6  limit game that was just a delight.  
I ate nothing.  All day I just drank water and had just a few probiotic bits of fruit and nuts and some Pepto Bismal.  The diarrhea gave it up after I arrived, but that wasted feeling staying with me, and I tired out easily in the evening.


This was the only show venue on my trip.  One night I saw a comedy Hypnosis and the next a standard show of three comics.  Each night a girl was outside giving discount coupons.  The first night was $15 and the second only $10.  There is a two drink minimum, but they had a special self serve section in the back,  and I did not have to buy a drink the first night or deal with a waitress.  It was a ways from the stage, but the chairs were high and the view and engagement were fine for me.  The second night they sat me right up front, and I just told the waitress I was not drinking and that was fine with her.  There was none of the  pressure I had experienced at Sin City Comedy in Vegas.  And had I wanted a couple beers, draught beers were just $3 as compared with the $8 beers at Sin City.

The hypnosis show was pretty raw.  Pretty girls did suggestive things on stage and seemed not to remember afterwards.  I have seen similar shows in Vegas.  This one was not as smooth, but it was funny and fun to watch.  

One comic opened who could be very good, but something in his timing was a bit off.  I liked some of this jokes.  They were witty.  Both nights I thought the comedians who were not the headliners were second rate and not like I experience in Vegas.  


The Two Trees Inn is a short ways from the casino.  It could be easily walked, but in the rain and with the wasted feeling ,I took the shuttle.  Every 10 minutes it makes its rounds.  It is faster than any in Vegas. I walked twice on other days and each time arrived just as the shuttle was unloading, so I’m guessing the walk was about 12-15 minutes.  There is nothing much to see, just parking lots.  Near the end there was some very colorful landscaping with those cabbage like plants I enjoy.  It is not a walk I would make in the late night, early morning hours.

The Inn itself is very nice:   a refrigerator, coffee pot in the room, bottled water.  There is a fine little bar and grill with a pretty extensive menu right in the hotel as well as a nice pool that is open from 6 AM until pretty late at night.  A small workout room is attached to the pool area.  The jacuzzi worked and there was a bathroom right there and a bottle  that dispensed water.   Outside the pool was a sun porch area for sitting in comfortable chairs and outside that sunporch was an inner courtyard with a gazebo and a fine large pool of water fed by a small waterfall and a small stream over rocks.  It was very pretty there and warm enough one day for me to sit in the sun.

At first my clerk said there were no non smoking rooms left, but when tI overheard he fellow in the line get one, I asked why. She checked with that clerk and there was some way to put me in a nonsmoking room.  Had I paid for a guarantee there was an upcharge, but not right there at the counter.
The wifi did not connect immediately and I called the desk. They gave me a central ATT wifi number and the girl who answered was really wonderful.  In no time after loading Comcast.com  I was connected and afterwards it just connected automatically until the last day when I had to load Comcast again.  
Parking was easy.  I could park very near the door that was very near my elevator.  The ice machine area also had a fine water fountain for a cool drink with no hassle.
I liked the lighting.  It is very handy and just right.  Plugs were handy. The flatscreen is small, but there were a number of stations and I watched Jeff Durham with his puppets the first night until I just needed to sleep.  I really like that guy.   He is very polished and funny.  How he manages to produce so many accents and sounds and all seeming to come from the puppets amazes me.  I think it is pretty gutsy to have a terrorist bomber as one character.


These are fairly large places, so it is good to plan a parking area near  our destination.  At Foxwoods parking in the Rainmaker lot gets us close to the poker and buffet.  At Mohegan Sun parking at the Riverview lot and using the Sky entrance gets us close to the poker room.  I generally call ahead to get on the list and then I ask where is the best place to park.


I was off my strict diet.  Not radically off, but treating myself.  The Foxwoods breakfast buffet was great with good omelets and a great gravy for biscuits and some smoked fish.   Their lunch buffet I like because they have mussels and I eat two large plates full.  Good vegetables as well including a nice mix called Bahama mix and brussel sprouts.  I had one small piece of fried chicken and it was delicious.
My real treat of a meal was on Monday night when David Burke Prime has lobster specials.  I started with a fine, rich lobster bisque served with a puffy roll that was all crust and air.  Very good.  Lobsters came steamed or roasted lobster, Kung Pao-style lobster, or lobster carbonara.  I had my lobster  baked with herbs and spices.  I never had lobster that way before; it was delicious.  It came with a few parmesan  roasted red potatoes and mixed vegetables.  Then for dessert I had vanilla cream brulee, and they seved a small bunch of cotton candy.  I never eat a sweet dessert, so this was really a treat.  The 3 course on special came to $38 with tax.  I paid all but $5 using up points.
At Mohegan Sun just before driving home I ate a patty melt that was free at Johnny Rockets.  It was fine, but not the treat I imagined.
I did like it that a point was a point at all of these places.  I hated trying to figure out how to spend my poker earned points at CET when some of the choices don’t give full value.



I never thought I had the bankroll to play no limit.  I’d lost $300 plus in one hand a few years back at Excalibur, and so I have stayed mostly on limit games.  However, the 2-4 is just very difficult because the rake eats up profit.  
In years past I always thought I wanted my buy in to be the top buy in so that I’d have plenty if I got the best hand.  I’ve changed my mind on that too.  I go in short chipped.  
I like to start with $60 in front of me.  If I double up, I continue to play, but if I get above $200 I take a walk, cash out, and start again at $60 a bit later.   In Vegas it is harder as there are few tables that let me start so low. 
Also, I don’t stay at any one table for very long.  I think after a time the players get a sense of how I play, and then I am working against those perceptions.  If I am new to a table and short chipped, I might even get more easily called when I have the best hand because my opponent wants to see how I pay.  
I first thought I would go all in often preflop with very good cards and try to steal early small opening bets.  I do that sometimes.  More often I am playing after  the flop. I like poker after the flop providing I can’t be bullied out.  Short chipped I can’t be bullied.
in fact, it simplifies the game and for some this would take away the fun of bluffing.
I also will get more calls on the river when I bet the best hand because my all in is very moderate.  People will call just to see. 
This worked just great over this trip.

I moved from 1-2 to 1-1 and then to 3-6 limit.
The cards did not go as well as I would have liked.  Most of my winning hands were based on good reads rather than overwhelmingly good cards.  The 3-6 limit was a great table with a couple aggressive guys and plenty of passive callers.  For a while one of the aggressive guys played to my left and that made it difficult.  I never really got strong enough cards to let him raise and then squeeze the table with a reraise.  I tried that once with pocket Aces and they were cracked.  Aces in general need to be raised, but at this table everyone was staying, and as it turned out my opponent flopped quad 5’s which he was kind enough to show me when I showed my folded Aces after his river bet.
I remember losing one hand with 9-10.  The aggressive guy to my left had 9-10.  We flopped a straight to the jack but on the river a fellow chasing caught a flush.  
Another pair of my pocket Aces were cracked.  
I think that I had two full houses all afternoon.  Those were the best of the hands.
Once my pocket jacks caught trips on the river and beat a fellow’s pocket 8’s.  That was nice.
It is very rare that Mohegan has this game.  They will take an interest list, but most of the limit players are content with 2-4.  What a mistake!


Again I moved from game to game.  I had a short run of good cards that took pots of six and seven dollars at a tight 2-4, moved to find another tight 2-4.  I moved to a new 1-2 NL and there was a maniac acting two people after me.  I was never in a hand with him, but  the last hand I saw there were three people all-in preflop.  Maniac  was the last to act and pushed about  $300.  He held pocket 6’s.  
“Come on Satan,” he said as he showed his cards.
And the flop came 6-2-2 which held up easily.

So, I went for a walk.
I came back and played a very fine 4-8 limit game and had some good hands.
Then I went for lobster and comedy.
When I tried a new 4-8 it was all good players and I lost almost $100.
But each day I came out a little more ahead.


I started at a 1-2 NL and it was a fine table.  My A-8 of hearts caught two hearts on the flop and another on the turn.  A fellow bet into me and when I raised on the river with the nut, he raised to all in.  That was profitable.  I made almost $161 profit on that table and then left and got in a 1-1 NL for my $60 buy in.
That was a fine table.  I liked the game there.  My J-Q flopped  Q-Q-J and I just checked waiting for someone to catch a straight.  A fellow had 6-6 and a  6 came on the river.  He bet $10, I raised to $35 and he went all-in.  My cards were a huge surprize to everyone.  That was my best slow played hand.
My worst folded hand was 10-Q with three before me all-in preflop.  The flop included two tens and the river added one more.
The hand that made my 1--1 opponent the maddest was when I called his $2 preflop raise with 10-7 of diamonds.  It was silly, but he did raise to $3 almost everytime he had cards to avoid the table limping in to the flop.   I just felt like playing some junk.  Once in a while it is a good idea to be unpredictable. 
He called my $15 on the river, but did not like my diamond flush and he grumbled and stopped being the friendly fellow he had been most of the time.
"He'd have been out if I'd have bet $6,"  he muttered to himself in reference to me like I'm invisible. 
And I thought, Oh nice, I've spoiled that automatic raise thing and unsettled his confidence.
He must have been particularly puzzled because I had  tossed most hands away and was not getting decent cards very often. 
So why toss a couple chips at this particular 7-10 of diamonds?  Who knows?  I don't?
I do know that anytime my play seems to follow no easy perceivable pattern, I'm happy.  Then if the guy also mutters away and reveals his own inner reasoning, I'm that much farther ahead as well.
I did miss the opportunity to explain that 7-10 was my favorite hand and tell him he'd be surprised how many times it wins, even if it not suited.  If I win on some junk, I often talk that sort of talk.  If I'm believed, after a flop say of 8-9-J I might get more respect when I raise my pocket Aces especially if I make some small comment that reminds the guy of what I said, even something like, "What an incredibly strange game this is!"
And it won't hurt my game because I'll never play those two cards a second time. 
After that hand, he stopped the automatic $3 bet.  So that was a good call on my part.  I knew he would not make it $6 every time.  Once I called his $7 raise with good cards, but the flop did not help me, so I did not win that one.
There again, had I set the stage, I might have said, "Well, I guess they can't win everytime." to make him think I had 7-10 again.  

After I had a decent profit, I took a walk and played some VP and came back 2 hours later to another 1-1 game, but that one was full of very good players, and soon I decided it was time to head home with my profit.


I have always thought that it was no contest comparing the ambiance of the two casinos.  Foxwoods is rather like a shopping mall.  It has so little to look at that is of any value artistically.
Above the poker room is an  area that includes blown glass flowers by glass sculptor Dale Chihuly who also did those flowers in the Bellagio lobby.  However, these seemed so much less interesting, almost faded where those at Bellagio were bright and delicate.  I especially dislike the large leaves that seemed very artificial.  
The area itself was interestingly filled with some great stained glass windows.  
However, this whole area if basically unoccupied space.  This sort of display might be interesting to break up the long passages in other sections, but here it is seldom seen unless someone searches it out.
There are a few very interesting sculptures places along the hallways, some by Alan Hauser.  I like all of them.  There just are not enough.
In one hotel lobby there are a few display cases with small art work sculpture.  There is plenty of room for more, however, and  I wondered why it does not get used.

Contrast this to the explosion of color and shape and light and Native American depictions at Mohegan Sun.  It is aesthetically delightful just to walk around the place.  So many different pieces.  Here is wood and stone and glass and rock formations with light in and around these bits.  Even the back of the chairs at table games are loaded with tye dye like color.  
For blown glass there is Riverview, a very nice piece.  It is right there on one of the main walkways.

The poker room too is much brighter and more cheerful than the dungeon where we play at Foxwoods.

For my taste the games are better.  I really like the 1-1  NL game.  Sometimes I have to wait for it to start, but it is a game that I can keep playing for a while.  I wish that their old signature 3-6 game was up and running.  They used to even have $3 chips for this game, but now it only happens on request and only very rarely.   I don’t quite get the lack of interest because it is not that more expensive than 2-4 and cheaper in the long run as the pots make it possible to overcome the rake.
Yankee Trails always took us to Foxwoods, but now the trips are limited.  If I am going to drive, then I’m going to spend most of my time at Mohegan Sun.
One other advantage is that they still have decent poker pay tables.  8-5 Bonus is there as is 9-7 Double Bonus.  The games earn no points, but play in monitored and might generate room offers.  I like being able to shift from live poker to video poker and back again.
I can’t compare the rooms, but I have gotten good deals at the Microhotel a mile from Mohegan Sun and there is a free shuttle most times to the casino and back.  Since I don’t drink much anymore, I drive it.  And sometimes I stay more downscale at the Gronton Inn, about 15 minutes away.  They have cheap rooms with Roomsaver coupons and will estimate whether they will have openings if you call ahead.  The breakfast included with the room is sit down and order off the menu.  I like that .  I can get poached eggs and whatever else I want.


Poker at either casino is so much better than Turning Stone poker.  The rake is more gradual.  I don’t have to pay $2 a day to play.  The games have more variety and so table selection is much easier.   


VPfree gave me some full pay machine locations a long walk from the poker room in the Casino of the Earth by the Hall of Lost Tribes bar.  I was happy to find 8-5 Bonus and played it until I was down about $20 before I looked over the machine and found 9-7 DB.  I switched and in a few hands hit the 4 Aces.  I played a while and hit them again.  Then 3’s.  And in between the full houses and other good hits kept me just about even.  Then I took a slump and was literally going to cash out for $400 profit when the last hand gave me 4 Jacks, so I played a while longer and cashed out for $450 profit.  I went back just before going home and lost $20 almost without a blink.


I came home with $907 profit.
I had $53 worth of free food
The tolls along the Mass Pike were still lifted.  They come back  On October 15, so the expense of driving was about equal to what it costs to go to Turning Stone, about $40.

The rooms were totally free.  Foxwoods does have resort fees, $6.72  at Two Trees and $14 at all other hotel properties.  However, these are not charged on comped rooms.

The ride home was very easy.  I left about 7PM and encountered no traffic the entire route.  Rush hour can be a bit frustrating around Hartford where there are some interestingly confusing road changes, but  at this later time , that area was very easy.  With a few stops I was home a bit after 10PM.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Issues with my personal blog

Some of you read another more personal blog and I've decided to make that  a private blog by invitation only.   Let me know you want access, the gmail account you would like to use, and when I can, I'll send you an invitation.
I'll keep this blog, the vegas blogs and others public as long as I don't get spammed so much it is not worth the bother doing the moderation.
Sorry for the confusion.  I liked being public but that is just not practical anymore.

Foxwoods:there are guys more frugal than I


I find it odd that this fellow did not think to bring a book, both for the bus and for the dead time when exploration was over. It would seem to me that a day away from the chance that the baby would interrupt a good novel, would be welcome.  Unlike Vegas Foxwoods has areas where sitting is very easy.
I also missed his interest in watching gambling.  I love watching the games I would never play, like Sic Bo or roulette.  I do it as a break from the gambling when I go. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013


I have not always liked Turning Stone as a place to play poker.  In limit there are only 2-4 games and generally only one table with the same regulars.  
These folks are very tight.  
Overcoming the rake is impossible.  
And seating is at a premium.  Sometimes I have to wait an hour.  Friday night I came with my Four Fisgh book, but that night they seated me right away. There is no changing tables for better selection of opponents. I left that 2-4 table and played 1-2 no limit because the table was just too tight.

Foxwoods and Mohegan are both better venues for limit poker.
I have been hesitant to play no limit because I don’t really have the bankroll to play it, and I’m not ready to put $300 at risk in a single hand, especially to the risk of a bluff when I end up with second best after the river and my opponent is representing the best hand.
However, I’ve been developing a low chip no limit play where I buy in close to the minimum, rebuy if I lose,  and then leave if I win.  
I like it.  I think it rewards good play because everything is not risked on one hand.
It reduces the ability of my opponents to bluff.  They might draw out on me, but they can’t represent a river hand that they don’t have.  Meanwhile, I can often bet just a small amount on the river when I have a good hand and get called.  I might even have second best hand, bet, and get called by third best.

This happened when a river 4 of clubs made my opponents flush and my full house.  I did not have a 4, but I had a deuce, slow played from the beginning. It was second best, but I could bet $30, and I was called by the flush.

If I win, then I have to walk away and do something else for an hour or so, until I can buy in again for  the minimum amount. Or I can go and play 2-4.  

I played a good bit of poker, much more than the 4 hours required for the poker rate.  And I had a fine time.  

All of my winning sessions on this trip were on no limit tables, and I’d have come out well ahead had I played much less poker and just skipped the 2-4 games.  I ended behind $242.

Later on Friday night and then on Saturday night I was in loose 2-4 games that do offer good action and can be beaten by luck more than skill.  Once playable cards are selected, they often need to be played until the end, even on a draw; preflop aggressive raising and capping creates pot odds if the turn and river are not bet aggressively.  
This happened the last day at a table where most of my losses were realized.

On Friday night I played against an old fellow who was “off the leash” because his wife had gone to Buffalo from where they lived near Utica/Rome.  He had gone to a cheap movie in Oneida, was playing poker, and would go to the movies again at midnight. They wintered in Santa Barbara, California, and he was delightful for sharing stories and banter.  
He told about his neighbor who had been shot down in WWII and then paraded by the Germans in uniform to show they had captured the enemy.  German soldiers wanted to switch uniforms with him just so they might get something to eat.  He was fed.  They were not.

Next to this old fellow was a reserved young girl, but we managed to her laughing a bit.  She was pregnant and her husband was playing at a no limit table.  She was pretty reserved, but with a bit of banter, she opened up and laughed and joked some.  She plays no limit.  I played with her the second day.  Her manner at the table was a no limit manner where body language can make or break a win.

On Saturday a friendly fellow bought some of my silver strikes. This $8 sale brought my return on my $100 investment up to about $53.  It might be more; I lost count last Vegas trip.  My goal is to break even and have plenty of rings left to use as chips for poker games or to live a long, long life and so sell them all.  It is a fine hobby.  I have expanded to collecting and making card protectors out of "found" materials. Perhaps I’ll start a business.  Here is the one I made from two rocks found on Headwaters Beach, Ohio.

The photo does not do it justice.  What I like is that the white stone is a great handle and the piece is both heavy and yet can be set up on a stack of chips between hands.

The Turning Stone dealers were very good.  There were very few mistakes and only one that seemed at all a bit in a daze.  Dealers were better than Foxwoods, especially when Foxwoods has a poker tournament, pulls the poker dealers for it, and replaces them with blackjack dealers who don’t even know the game.  
I hate that.  
I pay for the dealer to pay attention to the game for me.  I don’t want to have to correct dealer mistakes.
Tony, the brush recognized me from an earlier trip report, perhaps on Blonde’s Board.  That was an odd coincidence. Nice of him to shake my hand.

On Friday night I played a $15 tournament and went for 3 hours.  I was exhausted, but it was a lot of poker for that little bit.  67 started, and I guess I left with about 17 players yet to go to the 3 who would be paid.  I played pretty well.  I just got blinded down and then had to go all in on a close possibility. No rebuys.  No bounties.  The cheapest tournament I have seen in a long while anywhere.

It does seem they are trying new promotions to attract players.  The bad beat was up to $208,000 and an incredible fantasy, but they are talking of high hand awards every so often or specials on club flushes.  I wish they would do cracked Aces.

Other gambling included a run using the slow hedge at the craps table.  I came out after a few times around down $10.  
I had not used my matchplay and that was a mistake.  The matchplays are only good weekdays, and I should have used mine on Thursday.  I lost the use of it.  Hard to imagine my missing a matchplay. It reinforces the idea that coupons need to be played off early in a visit.
I watched some of the young ones play “Beat the Dealer,” a new game that looks a bit like SicBo and a bit like craps, is simple to understand, and has a much higher vigorish than craps.  It is located in the same area and attracts those intimidated with craps play, perhaps confused by all the choices and the game itself.  I like watching this game.  I’d never play it.  Not at an 11.27% house edge.

Poker buddy and old neighbor Ron went up for one overnight, and I went for two.  The poker did not go well for Ron, and he did not have as much fun as I did.  Too bad.
We used coupons for $20 off the poker rate and so stayed right in the hotel for $66 a night.  I liked the room, loved the pool and the easy access, enjoyed myself.  I’d do that again.
The room was better than most of those I get in Vegas.  The view was of the parking garage, but it was not right under the window.  Directly in front of me were plenty of green trees that had been places around a driving circle.  Pines were full of cones, and maples were scattered in between.  
It was pleasantly quiet.  There were no noises.  I liked that.  
The room did not have a refrigerator, but it had a safe and a great coffee pot that made 3 large cups with Seattle coffee, and a nice flat screen TV that worked easily.
The bathroom was plenty big enough with good directions on how to switch the water to the showerhead, plenty of towels, Nice large soaps, good water pressure.  The flush did make a bit of too much noise, so I skipped that in the night so as not to wake my light sleeping buddy.  
Plugs were abundant, so it was simple to put in the apnea machine and to plug into the lamp base for use of  my little traveling computer for the free wifi. Wifi was easy as well, although I could not seem to get two people on using the one computer and move between them, so I could not play the MyVegas for Elizabeth.  She kept that up to date from home.  
There were two desks, so there was plenty of room.
I have stayed in their cheaper Inn down the road and this room was a definite upgrade.

I went up to the Savoy restaurant in Rome twice,
http://beta7.ictgllc.com/theromesavoy/Home.aspx once with Ron and once on my own.  It is one of my favorite places to eat in the world.  It feels to me like going back into the 50’s and going to an old fashioned Italian restaurant with linens on the table and an old and interesting bar as well as a wild collection of wall hangings that include sports banners, photos of officers from the old Rome Air Base, odds and ends of things, even a painting of Langston Hughes.  I sat under that on my second visit and watched the traffic in and out of the kitchen and listened to the live piano player as he wandered through old music.  For “Luck be a Lady” he included the usually skipped introduction.  “When you wish upon a Star” was followed with “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” There was "When Sunny gets Blue." I loved all of it.
The greeter is a very old woman in a shawl like sweater with a bun who escorts people to tables and moves chairs in spite of the fact that she walks with a cane.  She is just a wonderful character.
I was solo and it was a crowded night on Friday, but she gave me a choice of seats, and I picked one against the back wall in the center where I can watch the pretty girl waitresses (especially the blond with the sexy librarian look) and also see the pianist and any entering customers.  The movement keeps me entertained. 
Then the servers and clearers all bustle about and take very good care of the customers.  The place was packed.  There was a din of conversation like we might hear in an old live recording of a jazz club.  I did overhear one conversation.
“Beets, beets, I just love beets!  And I can’t figure out why.”
“Martha...now she makes the best beets….I love them, he beets.  Really!  I just love beets.”

Ron seemed to like the place.  He likes Sam Adams on tap.  However, his meal did not agree with him. Probably too much garlic.  He had a pasta dish with hat pasta, mushrooms, and vegetables.  I had some of it, and it was very good.  I ate some of the mushrooms and broccoli cold for the next days breakfast.  I had two chicken dishes, one a French dish and one with another marinade.  Both came with great risotto.
When I asked for a side of anchovies for my Caesar’s salad, they came without an extra charge.  Nice.  
I had the house wine.  There was a cheaper wine called table wine, but I went for the $6 chianti.

Casino Food was a bit more expensive than Vegas, and I did not bring my usual nuts and fruit for the morning.  I ate free at the buffet twice.  I liked the breakfast offerings better than the lunch offerings, but on Friday lunch included some old time music for seniors and a sale price of $10 so it used up less of my karat comp points.   There was a place to dance. I just watched.  
This weekly event is a great DJ presentation with two large screens showing black and white videos of the performers back in the days of the Dick Clark show. The performances were not perfectly in sync with the sounds, but it was still great to watch them.  I loved it.  I’d like to go with Elizabeth or some dancing partner.  I am no longer good at dancing with strangers.

Also, in that area was the Scare-a-thon, a convention for folks who like old horror movies.  Many of them were dressed gothic or in horror costume.  One fellow actually had the beginnings of two horns growing out of his head.  I really think they were implants and not makeup.  He had them on when he went on the elevator to his room with his wildly dressed girlfriend.
It takes a good bit of dedication to a hobby interest to have horn like nubs implanted in the forehead.  I would not have my card protectors growing out of my forehead.

I did not pay to see the main displays or the B movies but just walked about to see the people.
They were entertaining.
I also watched the dancing in the lounge on Friday night around midnight.  It was like being in a nightclub with no cover and the opportunity to watch the dancing girls and people over the short wall without even needed to buy a drink or being in the lounge.  I liked that for entertainment as well.
There were paid dancers in two places and plenty of pretty girls dancing on the floor.  Most everyone was about 18-25, but mixed in was a woman of about 70 having a fine time dancing and singing along to all the modern music.  I loved watching her.  It is so fine that some older folks can keep active and feel comfortable mixing with the younger ones and I loved seeing what a grand time she was having.  Perhaps she was there with her grandchildren.  Nice.

I swam three times and loved the pool.  The water was not super hot and did not seem chlorinated.  It seemed to help my psoriasis.  Perhaps there were salts in the water.  The Jacuzzi was hot and it worked fine too. It was empty except for one family on one occasion and shaped in a way that made swimming in circles easy.  


On Saturday I saw this show.
They were doing Abbey Road by the Beatles.  It was just great.  I got a seat very near the front and in the center.  The sound is the thing for this group, not costume, not egocentric talks, just the album, note for note, cut for cut.  
Then they took a break and followed with another set of songs the Beatles had sung, again with the intention of doing them just as they were done:

“Long and Winding Road”
“Oh La Dee, Oh La Dah, Life Goes on”
“Mother Nature’s Son”
“No Where Man”
“I am the Walrus”
“This Boy”
“Mr. Postman”
“You Say its Your Birthday”
“Let It Be”
“Twist and Shout”

So it was a fine mix and an amazing performance with so many musicians to pick up any small nuance that the Beatle’s included in their music.
I was particularly moved by “Let It Be” and amazed that after all the times I have heard this song, a live presentation could have that affect.  I wish I could let things be more often instead of having them wear on me.
The drummer in particular was spectacular and wonderful.
And since the entire show was about sound, the sound was perfect.  It was loud, but it did not grate on the ears.  There were no mike aberrations.  Sound was adjusted constantly, new for each song as were often the instruments.  Just one of the best things I have seen.

Fine too was to meet Jimmy and Sherry, old and loved friends, at the casino. They were playing bingo but not shouting much.  They had a room as well.  It was great to catch up on old times.  We don't see one another enough.