Category: Slot machines

As I was saying…

Okay, so I took some time off.

Since the last post, I visited Barcelona, Grenada, and Almeria, Spain, courtesy of the lovely Rhonda K. and the wonderful folks at Cosentino. Much eating and drinking was involved (was that a roofie I quaffed?). No casino visits, however. The rules for table games are just too wacky in Europe. And I just wasn’t willing to play poker in a non-English-speaking environment. It’s enough of a struggle playing in my native tongue.

Other stuff happened: A long stream of charming AIRBNB guests visited from around the globe, and I wrote a series of articles on casinos and gambling for the Oregonian, our local paper here in Portland. I’ve pasted one of them below for your edification.

 

AC: Will the last one to leave please kill the lights?

An article in the September 7th New Yorker Magazine takes a deep dive into the choppy waters of Atlantic City. You’ve probably heard some of this stuff before: the cataclysmic failure of the Revel, declining gaming revenues, the closing of this casino and that. But NYer staff writer Nick Paumgarten does a solid job of putting a human face on this tale of woe and also frames it in the perspective of New Jersey politics. Could Chris Christie’s presidential bid (such as it is) be put into jeopardy, smashed to smithereens, because of the Revel’s spectacular flameout?NewYorker, Sept 7

Who knows? But reading Paumgarten’s piece had me thinking about the several times I’ve visited AC. I’m not sure why I returned, especially after my initial visit.

That first time was actually three strange weeks I spent there in the summer of 1979 developing a stage play (“The Man Who Shot The Man Who Shot Jesse James”) with nine other like-minded artistes, and bedding down in the damp basement of a Quaker school. Water bugs the size of baby rats frolicked in the shower stalls, begging to be squished, while we taught acting classes and emoted in the gymnasium upstairs.

Gambling had just been recently legalized and we walked snootily through Trump’s crowded new boardwalk casino, decrying the glitz as offensive to our sophisticated Manhattanite sensibilities. The glitz stood in sharp contrast to the grungy streets immediately nearby, upon which pimps, prostitutes, and drug dealers openly plied their wares.

Yes, this was one strange town, a fact eerily demonstrated on our final night. As we were partying in the gym, lighting hit the school. Lights flickered, came back on. Partying continued for awhile, until someone pointed to the big clock on the gymnasium wall.

Creepy.

It was running in reverse.

 

Gambling Tips x 9

As mentioned earlier, I landed a nice writing gig for The Oregonian, which allowed me to expound on the topic of gambling tips. Here are the ones I landed upon as they appeared in the newspaper. I’m sharing this with you courtesy of the Oregonian Media Group, which published the following article in the September 9, 2015, edition:


 

No doubt about it: Luck plays an important role in all casino games. And everyone who plays experiences swings of luck, both good and bad. But you can sidestep bad luck and improve your chances of winning by following these simple bits of advice.

Tip #1. Join the club.

Spirit Mountain has the Coyote Club, Chinook Winds has the Winners Circle, the Mill Casino has the Mill Club. In fact, virtually every casino offers you the opportunity to participate in their version of a players club.

The concept is simple: The more you play, the more the casino rewards you in the form of free or discounted meals and hotel rooms, as well as giveaways, special offers and merchandise. If you’re not already a member, becoming one should near the top of your list on your next casino visit.

Tip #2: Double your money.

In blackjack, always double down (that is, double your bet) when your first two cards total 11. Also, double down when you have 10 and the dealer’s face card is nine or less. Caution: This move is not for the faint of heart. Be prepared to experience a pulse-pounding jolt of adrenaline.

Tip #3: Split those cards.

No, you should not physically rip your cards in half. In blackjack when you hold two aces or two eights, you should split them into two hands by doubling your bet.

Tip #4: Assume the position.

Texas hold’em is a challenging game. If you’re a newbie, an important thing to learn (after the ranking of hands, of course) is the importance of position at the table. Simply stated, the closer you are to the dealer’s button, the freer you are to play a wider range of hole cards. An example: you’d might very well fold a pair of pocket deuces in early position, but (assuming no one else has entered the pot) raise with them in a late position.

Tip #5: Read the fine print.

Rules and payouts differ from machine to machine and table to table. Whether it’s video poker, slots, or a table game, take half a minute to look over the rules, even if you’ve played the game previously. Occasionally rules and payouts will have been adjusted since your last visit, and it pays to be prepared by knowing the latest ground rules.

Tip #6: Take slots to the max.

To win the jackpot in progressive slot machines, there’s no choice: You must make the maximum bet. But jackpots on non-progressive slots often pay disproportionally more when you make the maximum bet versus the minimum. Take a few seconds to see which type of payout will yield you a better result then adjust your wager accordingly.

Tip #7: Can you afford more? Then bet more.

The payouts are often more generous on slot machines that have a higher minimum bet. That means, for example, that many times playing a dollar machine versus a quarter machine is a better choice.

Tip #8: New to video poker? Start with Jacks or Better.

Although you’ll find banks of video poker machines situated among slot machines, the two games could hardly be more different.

When you play a slot machine, nothing you do can affect the outcome; your only decision is how much to wager. In video poker, however, you must decide which cards to keep and which to throw away; this directly affects how much you win.

If you’re new to video poker, cut your teeth on Jacks or Better. It’s the original version of this electronic game and it’s simple to learn. The goal, as its name implies, is to get a hand that contains at least a pair of jacks. The higher the hand, the more you win.

FYI, payouts at the casino are generally better than the Oregon Lottery version of the game.

Tip #9: Visit the web

It will come as no surprise that the Internet contains a cornucopia of information about casino games. Many casinos, including Spirit Mountain, Chinook Winds, and Seven Feathers, post rules on their websites.

To dig a little deeper, check out the free basic strategy charts all over the Web. Wizardofodds.com is a good place to start.

Plus there are dozens of sites—free and paid—devoted to poker and tailored to players of all skill levels.


 

Texts from the Battlefield: Sam and the Main Event

You might remember that several months ago on this site, I profiled my friend Sam (“The Nicest Guy You’d Never Want To Sit Next To“), currently one of the most successful poker players in Portland. Several months ago his skills at the table really paid off and he won a $10,000 entry in the World Series of Poker Main Event.

He was generous enough to share with me the text messages he sent to his “rail back home” as he progressed in the tournament, which for him began July 6.  FYI, each player starts with 20,000 chips. Spoiler alert: Despite his enthusiasm and crafty play, he did not make the November 9. And a caution: The texts are lingo-heavy.

He started texting on day one start and continued through his final hand. Here they are, for the most part verbatim…

Monday 2:19pm

Rough first level. Got down to 17.5k [chips] at one point from 30k SS but managed to climb back to 23.6. Got coolered in one hand AQ<AK when he doesn’t three bet me pre and board runs out KQ6A6. I check called three streets. Lotta time to recover tho….Let’s fucking goooooooo!!!!

Monday 4:36pm

Second break…roller coaster level. Got back up to SS then back down to 23k. Now back over SS at 31k or so. Maniac at table keeps wanting to mix it up with me. Just won a big pot off him so prepared for fireworks going forward. Thank u all for the texts and well wishes!!! I will update every break which is every 2 hours. Thanks for all the support!!!!

Monday 7:15pm

Dinner break. Another roller coaster level. But ended with 26.5k coming back to 150/300/25. Let’s keep it going!!!!!

Monday 10:55pm

Horrible level. Good news is I still have chips. Gonna focus and not text any more until bag and tag after one more level. Thanks again for the support guys!!!!!

Tuesday 12:55am

Bag and tag!!!!! Got down as low as 6k but climbed back to 14k. Coming back to 500bb on Wednesday. Thankful for all the support. U guys are the best. Not what I envisioned…but day 2 is day 2.

Wednesday 10:24am

Day two starts at noon today. Coming back to almost 30 bb’s. Making day 2 was my first goal now I am hopeful to be able to chip up. Loooooooong way to go but I’m def excited to get back to the table. Same as last time…will update on breaks. 😎👍🏼

Wednesday 2:12pm

19k at first break. Table is good…no one has gotten out of line yet. Been all in 4 times. Once AIPF TT vs TT for a chop against a 14bb stack. Then bvb all in on KT9 flop….we both have KT lolol

Three bet cram AK and got thru twice. Then lost a flip AQ<JJ vs 13bb stack.

Coming back to 300/600/75 so surviving but looking for spots to gain chips.

Wednesday 2:33pm

Bust….Second hand after break I’m BB. There’s an EP open and a 3b from the CO. I have JJ and 4b rip. First guy recrams and is CL at the table. JJ<KK. Blah. Thanks for the support guys.


 

And then there’s this

Apropos of nothing, here’s something I just received in the mail.

IMG_1289It’s an envelope that asks the eternal question: How can something be free if it’s prepaid? Or vice versa?

“Yes, Mr. Ivey”

Yes, Mr. Ivey, you can have a private baccarat table.

Yes, we give you permission to wager up to $100,000 per hand.

Yes, we can supply that particular series of purple Gemaco playing cards.

Yes, we can supply the specific style of shoe you desire, so you can more clearly see the patterns on the back of the cards.

By Photo by flipchip / LasVegasVegas.com [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Tumultuous times for the edge-sorting poker champ.
Yes, we can supply a Mandarin-speaking dealer to communicate with your Mandarin-speaking associate.

Yes, the dealer will rotate the cards any way you’d like then place them into the shoe in whatever orientation your little heart desires.

Yes, we—being of sound mind—will provide everything you’ve requested and yes, we will take your money if you lose.

Oh, one more thing: We won’t allow you to win.

If we lose, all bets are off.

Thus seems to be the borderline larcenous logic of the two casinos—one in London, one in Atlantic City—engaged in legal proceedings involving Phil Ivey in which they characterize him as a cheater.

Adios, $12.4 million

On October 7, Ivey took what might be regarded as preemptive action by appearing in a segment of “60 Minutes Sports.” He doesn’t grant interviews often, which is a shame because he’s articulate and comes off rather well as an ambassador for the world of gambling. That is, rather well if you buy the premise (as I do) that he did not cheat.

Viewers were treated to a glimpse of his cool digs overlooking the Vegas Strip; his secretive rear-door entrance to the Rio during the WSOP; and a thumbnail bio of his New Jersey childhood.

Finally the interviewer got down to the crux of the matter: Would Ivey admit to cheating at Baccarat?

Of course not. His made his case (rephrased above) with utter conviction.

Then, the day after “60 Minutes Sports” aired, he was screwed. A British judge ruled in favor of Crockfords, the London casino, telling them they didn’t have to pay Ivey the $12.4 million that Ivey feels (as do many in the gambling world) he won legitimately.

And so sorry, said the judge. An appeal would not be allowed.

There’s a loophole that his lawyers will likely exploit, but for now say goodbye to $12.4 million, Phil.

How the Crockfords decision will affect the Borgata’s suit against Ivey is unclear, though it cannot be read as a good sign. In that case, the Borgata is suing Ivey to get back the $9.6 million that he won at baccarat.

By Photos by flipchip / LasVegasVegas.com [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Kid Poker: In Ivey’s corner.
Meanwhile, over at the ESPN site, Jeff Ma has written “Why Phil Ivey Got a Raw Deal,” an excellent analysis of the ethical issues involved in “advantage play.”

And none other than Daniel Negreanu weighs in on the decision over at the Pocket Fives site. Guess which side he landed on.

 

Welcome to the Casino Buffet

Some tasty tidbits from the world of gambling…

Video poker hell

While we’re on the topic of advantage play, Wired posted a fascinating article about two guys who exploited a flaw in a particular model of video poker machines that they discovered accidentally. Then, after they won a bunch of money, they went through legal hell.

Short version: Don’t screw around with the casinos. They’ve got friends in high places.

The longer (and highly recommended) version is right here.

 

“Mad” about slots

Slot machine manufacturers just love their TV tie-ins. I’m cool with the “Wheel of Fortune” slots, the “C.S.I.” slots, the “Big Bang Theory” slots, even the “Sex in the City” slots: Harmless little shows that don’t seem entirely out of place on the casino floor.

But how about this one: “Mad Men” slots.

No kidding.

By jdeeringdavis from San Francisco, CA, USA (Flickr Uploaded by tm) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
“Oh, sure. Walking the red carpet is fine. So are the Emmy nominations. And the Golden Globe nominations. And the fact that I’m a sex object to hundreds of thousands of females. But you know what I really, really want? My mug on a slot machine.”
Spin the wheel! If you’re lucky, you’ll get a “Don Draper Bonus”, and you can choose an ad for that next campaign!

Spin the wheel! If you’re luckier, you’ll draw a “Roger Sterling Bonus” and get this message: “Have a drink”!

Spin the wheel! If you’re unlucky, you’ll be dropped head-first into a brackish swamp awash with atavistic shame for the sexism and racism of the early 1960s.

But seriously folks, these machines feature graphics and video images from this brilliant, dark, sometimes creepy cult TV drama. While they might add an intellectual element to those banks of mindless electronic thieves, it’s like dropping a page from Nabokov into the Sunday funnies.

At least when you play “The Wizard of Oz” slots (yes, these machines exist) you’ll be smiling as you throw your money away.

With the “Mad Men” machines, the words “feel good” don’t exactly come to mind.

 

Nutty boy

In the category of Oddest Combination of Keywords Leading to My Site is this entry. And I quote:

“if a boy nut is cold what does that mean”

What does that mean, indeed? For starters I’d like to know what a “boy nut” is. Anybody?

And what would possess a person to Google this strange conglomeration of words? It looks like a phrase that you might randomly assemble on your refrigerator door with those magnetic word kits. While you’re drunk.

In any case, I really do hope that Stone-Cold Nuts helped answer this Googler’s existential question. If this website can help just one person solve the boy-nut-cold dilemma… well, that’s why we’ve been put on Earth, right?

 

 

A Sea of Slots

In any obsession, the world is filtered through a specific lens. The world becomes a Dickens novel, an Xbox game, a karaoke machine, a theatrical stage, a fishing stream, a blackjack table.

You bore to death your friends, family and coworkers with absurd factoids on topics of absolutely no importance. (“Did you know that on the Strip, dealers hit soft 16, but downtown they’ve got to stand pat?”) Their eyes drift. They yawn. They remember they left something in the oven. So you seek out other like-minded obsessives in your social circle or on the Internet—somebody, anybody who will understand this strange lingo that you speak.

Or maybe you start a blog so you can blather at will.

Escape to Blackjack Island

Blackjack tables inevitably exist in an island surrounded by immense, confusing banks of slot and video poker machines, rows and rows of flashing lights and game-show sounds (‘WHEEEEEL OF FORRRRTUNE!”) and outer-space sounds and the digital clanging of fake coins dropping into a tinny, non-functional cash tray. It’s easy to become disoriented (“Didn’t I pass that guy with the oxygen tank ten minutes ago?”), so locating BJ Island requires persistence. Hint: Drop breadcrumbs so you can find your way out.

As you wend your way through the Sea of Slots, you’ll notice that there are two strict requirements for playing slot machines in a Las Vegas casino:

#1: You must be over 21 years of age.

#2: You must have a pulse.

They are a morose, zombie-like lot, these slots players, each frozen and alone in her electronic cocoon. Apparently, when you pull out your billfold and sit down in front of a slot machine, you’re making a statement. You’re saying, “Leave me alone, unless you’re a cocktail waitress bringing me a free Jack and coke.”

Also: “These bright lights and high pitched noises give shape and meaning to my life. So please leave me alone.”

Also: “I am trying to lose my money in as fast and efficient manner as possible. So I am begging you, please leave me the hell alone.”

The source of much noise and distraction
WHEEEEL OF FORRRTUNE!

Slots: the Svengali of casino gambling. Also the Frankenstein. The Honey Boo-Boo. The Artful Dodger. The silly summer comedy that grosses way too much money. The antithesis of blackjack, craps and poker, in which you are forced to interact with real-life human beings.

The denizens of the Sea of Slots are a strange lot, but have no fear: They pose no real danger to those of us who play table games, for they are a sedentary people. That’s not to say I’d want to face them in an apocalyptic showdown. Look at these numbers.

Fact: There are 197,144 slot machines in Las Vegas.

Fact: There are 1971 blackjack tables in Las Vegas.

Do the math. Even if all of those blackjack tables were filled to capacity (seven players per table), we’d be outnumbered 14 to 1! In hand-to-hand combat, it would be a bloodbath. They’d pummel us with their canes, walkers and oxygen tanks, then run us over with their wheelchairs. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

No redeeming value

From the point of view of a card player, the sheer number of slot and video poker machines in Las Vegas is grimly fascinating. From the point of view of some non-gamblers outside of Nevada, the increased proliferation of those games in state-approved lottery locations is highly problematic.

Out here in Oregon, it’s becoming a political powder keg, thanks in part to a recent five-part series in The Oregonian. Reporter Harry Esteve writes in depth about the state government’s unhealthy reliance on the huge chunk of revenue – last year it was $856 million – generated in large part by problem gamblers hooked on those squealing, flashing, no-armed bandits.

Just think: 12,000 state-sponsored video gaming machines in Oregon without the redeeming value of a single state-sponsored blackjack table.

What kind of world are we living in, anyway?