June 2006
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Worst Vegas TV Ever?

It’s T-23 before we head off to the bone-melting Nevada heat so it’s really time to start getting in the mood.  So, prompted by my DigiGuide renewal reminder, I’ve been searching for what Vegas related TV is coming up over the next few weeks and hit upon these gems that I’ve not seen before.

I promise – as ridiculous (or as ridiculously dull) as these sound, they are the genuine synopses from the TV guide.  I couldn’t make this stuff up.

FILM: Leprechaun 3
Warwick Davies returns as the nasty wee demon, and this time he’s on the loose in Las Vegas… but he’s not exactly bringing good luck with him.

COOKERY: United States of Reza
After officiating at a biker wedding in Vegas, Reza hits the road back to the airport.  As a last gesture, he stops at a classic burger bar and creates a curried hamburger.

FILM: Hell Squad
In order to rescue the son of a diplomat who has been kidnapped by terrorists, a group of Las Vegas showgirls undergo commando training and organize a rescue operation.

SITCOM: Two and a Half Men
On a boring, rainy weekend, Charlie persuades Alan and Jake to go on a trip with him to Las Vegas. When Jake becomes ill Judith forbids the trip.

I honestly do not think that I’ll be setting Sky+ for any of these.

Some good news though, the third season of cheese-fest show Las Vegas finally starts on Sky One next Friday!  Here’s some stunning episodes teasers from the official web site.

"Monica is furious that nothing can be done to stop a rich ‘whale’ who always wins at the tables while Mike (James Lesure) searches for a wallet-nabbing thief."

"Mike (James Lesure), Mary (Nikki Cox) and Delinda (Molly Sims) are amazed by the Montecito’s guest magician, Criss Angel, as he performs magic tricks for the Montecito patrons on the casino floor."

"Jilian (Cheryl Ladd) sprains her ankle and convinces Ed (James Caan) to walk the family dog at a local Dog Show."

Can’t wait..

Not Cool

Perhaps this is the reason my PC has been overheating lately.

I knew something was up, it grinds to a halt on occasion – most often when I’m caning it with Poker Tracker imports! – and then I’ll reboot to see the CPU at 80 degrees, panic and shut it down for half an hour to recover.  I could see that the fan was spinning, but hadn’t really bothered trying to fix the problem yet…

So today I actually decided to take a look and see if there was anything obviously wrong.  It was, in fact, pretty obvious.  This picture shows the cooler after I’d started scraping the dust out of the fins on one side.  The top was totally covered in crap and would have stopped any air from being sucked through the heatsink at all.

My PC maintenance skillz are not what they used to be, so I’m slightly chuffed at this result.  I guess we still have to wait and see if it runs hot though…

Dealing with outdraws #2435

I usually ignore table talk, but occasionally there’s the odd comment that jumps out.  I strangely liked this one.  He’d been beat good and even though PokerRoom doesn’t have a profanity filter, it’d slip through on any poker site.

Succinct, offensive and with capital letters in all the right places.  A trash talk gem.

Why don’t you just give me your chips then?

PokerRoom 2/4 Hold’em (8 handed)
Hand History Converter Tool from (Format: HTML)
Preflop: is SB with As, Qh.
3 folds, MP2 calls, 2 folds, lucky_donut raises, 1 fold, MP2 calls.
Flop: (4.50 SB) Kc, Kd, 4d (2 players)
lucky_donut bets, MP2 calls.
Turn: (3.25 BB) Td (2 players)
lucky_donut checks, MP2 folds.
Final Pot: 3.25 BB
Main Pot: 3.25 BB, returned to SB.
No showdown. SB wins 3.25 BB.

Well I certainly can’t complain. I just don’t understand what hand he could have had here though to fold like that, on the turn and in position to take a free card. If it’s worth $2 to call the flop, it’s worth $0 to see one last card, surely? This wasn’t a disconnect either, it was a pretty quick fold but he was around next hand and not sitting out.

I was in check-fold mode here, perhaps a little weak but thinking that there’s not much I’m beating that can could call the flop bet – you have to expect a pair or better or a flush draw, which just hit. Best case is AJ or A9, which is pretty unlikely. For the size of the pot, I’m not going to throw chips away trying to take this one by force a second time. I can’t call any bet with one overcard and a gutshot draw, none of which are clean outs.

I can’t see a small pocket pair folding here to no bet – nothing to be embarassed about, and it feels like he was drawing to something, missed and then decided he didn’t want to show. Occasionally you see this, however daft it is, just so players don’t have to reveal their cards but it’s always on the river – this was a card too early. It would have to be two cards lower than a K, which is a muppet call on the flop, but not QJ (which now has a straight draw), QT or JT (which now has a pair) – so what, Q9 or J9 calling a flop bet here and hoping to catch something?

I don’t get it, but tyvm anyway 🙂

The heat is on

Hardly played any poker this week, but somehow managed to remember to register for all three of the PokerStars freerolls I was eligible for today – as I made GoldStar status last month during their double VIP points promotion I got to play the $5000 SilverStar Weekly, $7500 GoldStar Weekly and $100,000 VIP Monthly freerolls.

Two scores out of three aint bad.  A whopping $18.50 for the GoldStar (27th from 1138) and $100 from the VIP (218th from 2861).  The VIP freeroll, was one of the main reasons I went for GoldStar (amid, I’m afraid, several recitals of the Going For Gold theme whilst I was grinding it out).  I’m 3 for 3 money finishes in this now in the month’s where I’ve been able to play it, and it helps to make up for the fact I dont do very well in fixed limit on Stars still.

The other incentive for me to get back up to a VIP level was because I have lots of Frequent Player Points to spend and many of the items in their store are available to VIPs only.  So now I have just 6 days left as a GoldStar player and it’s unlikely I’ll even retain SilverStar into next month I need to make some decisions.

Originally I was planning to cash in 15000 FPPs (most of my balance) for one of their single table tournaments with a world champion.  These happen every week and entry is equivalent to $225 – you can’t buy in for money though, and can only redeem FPPs if you are GoldStar or higher.  This seemed like a decent option, as four out of ten places are paid something and there’s a $250 bounty for eliminating the champ.  I’ve changed my mind on this though, after I realised that they’re usually filled with the same players every week who I would expect to be very strong sit-and-go players and who would probably not be sweating a $1000 payoff like I would.  As I can only afford one shot at this, I’ll pass for now.

So what’s it to be?  I can afford an iPod Nano, but cool as they are, I don’t really need one.  My Creative Zen still does me fine, although it’s a bit of a brick in comparison to Apple’s beauties, and I really don’t fancy having to reload all my music back onto it, and actually face up to the fact that I have probably hundreds of hours of podcasts I still haven’t listened to…

So there’s the jacket that I had my eye on since I started playing at Stars.  Pretty nice, but at 10000 FPPs, it’s costing about $150 in terms of what else I could be spending the points on.  I’m not sure I like it that much, but have to decide quickly as it’s another VIP-only item.  Amazon gift certificates are available now, but again you have to be SilverStar or above so I have to order them this week or wait and then get VIP status again.  Such a dilemma!

What’s wrong with this picture?

This may have been covered numerous times in various places already – it’s about 4 years old now – but I only just got round to starting to watch the World Poker Tour box set, so – as usual – I’m just a little bit behind the times.  In any case, it’s still just wrong.

When I was watching this with Claire, we diligently paused the DVD to work it out 🙂  I said at first that you’d be about 70% favourite, whilst she said about 75% and I said, well actually yes that’s probably more like it.  You’re clearly a favourite as over half the deck improves you hand and there are two cards to come.

So, according to WPT you have any heart (9), 7 (3 non-hearts), 9 (3), J (3) or Q (3 non-heart) to win.  But you can also win with the other 3 10s, and somehow they’ve missed this!  As if 21 outs wasn’t enough, you actually have 24. 

There’s so many outs here that the rule of four isn’t close to accurate, and the full house redraw to lose or running pair to win makes it pretty tricky to work our from first principles, even if you can divide numbers into 45 and 44 in your head!  The rule of four would make you a 96% favourite on the hand, and with that logic the universe starts to falls apart. 

However I couldn’t believe that you’re only 2-1 here so I had to plug it into a calculator to find out if they got that wrong too…  but alas no, the answer was just over 69% – a bit better than 2-1 but not as far ahead as I thought.

What use this is I don’t really know, although it’s made me – somewhat compulsively – check out how the open-ended straight flush draw looks against various other hands.  You’re in pretty bad shape against an opponent holding 88 or 99, of course.  But you’re also behind to any overpair, the worst situation being QQ with the Q of hearts where you’re actually worse than 40% to win, and even ace-rag of hearts is just beating you.

Here’s what I didn’t consider and have subsequently learned, thanks to the WPT’s mistake!  The pair on board with two cards to come gives an opponent with any pocket pair a 17% chance to make a full house.  So even if you do improve to a straight or flush, you’ll still lose this hand one time in six.  If the board is not paired, you’ll only lose to a full house one time in 35.

In the middle of our street

Our house.  The one we’re staying in for the Vegas trip (T-33) as seen from space.

Dude, where’s your pool?  Either this is an old picture and the pool has been added recently or Google Earth has got it wrong – the house just to the left looks like it has a pool the same shape as the one we’ve seen.  Still, it’s somewhere round here…



Double bonus!

For as much as I don’t like InterPoker (probably a separate rant) their monthly $100 deposit bonus is good and when you can clear this in conjunction with a second bonus it’s really too good to turn down.

The second promotion was a bonus payout each time you are dealt poket kings.  After submitting your account number and the hand number, they promise to credit your account with $10.  The only condition is that the hand must have generated some rake.  In theory this is a great promo.  $10 free every 220 hands on average is worth roughly 1 big bet per 100 hands at $2/$4. I played 676 hands last night (ended up clearing about half of the bonus) during the promo period and was dealt KK just once, yet I saw AA and QQ 4 times each, and JJ a whopping 9 times.  A cynical player might say that all the KKs turned to JJ for the duration of this promo, and I did see others chatting about how they hadn’t seen KK the whole time.  But this was an InterPoker promo only, so I can’t believe that even if it was possible the whole Cryptologic network would put on a crooked deal just for one skin!  Of course, when they run this offer for just 5 hours at a time you’re not really getting a very big sample of hands, and those that are seeing a rush of Kings aren’t going to be complaining…

So, let’s just see how badly I messed up the one KK hand I did see:  Remembering that the hand has to be raked to get the bonus, and with everyone folding to me leaving just two players and the blinds still to act, I decide to just limp in to make sure we get the flop and the hand is raked.  Just the big blind stayed in for a free play, and of course flopped 2 pair with his Q5o to relieve me of $20.

Only myself to blame, though I still think limping here is probably right.  With any other player already in the pot I’m raising, and from early position you don’t want to encourage limpers to play against your big pair.  An open limp in middle to late position on a tight table gives up your the edge on a $2 bet preflop but locks in the extra $10 win-or-lose bonus.  It’s just a question of whether the bonus compensates for letting in opponents with crud hands.  In my case it didn’t, but I did only have one chance to find out.

That PokerStars Blogger Freeroll Thing

I didn’t last very long, but I wasn’t really trying.  Don’t see how they expect you to play it sensibly really when there’s over 2200 players registered but only about half actually turn up.  I thought Stars had started to prevent such freeroll stupidity now by only allowing registration up to 1 hour before kick off but for this they registered everyone automatically just for showing interest.  Four idle players at a table was not unusual.

In fairness, I shouldn’t have been allowed to play so I contributed to the farce.  You can see that my blog has only been running about 3 weeks, when their entry requirement was 3 months of regular posts.  But it turns out they didn’t actually impose any entry criteria at all, so it’s basically just a monster freeroll where you just have to make a little more effort to get a seat than clicking "register".

Actual Lulu

I’ve not made any secret of the fact that I was going to see Take That in concert this weekend. Certainly not my number one choice of band to see (I actually got the tickets for Claire‘s birthday) but really, whatever you think of them, whatever dissent you might show to boy bands in general, you have to find it fascinating that a pop group that split up ten years ago can still sell out the country’s largest venues in a matter of hours. I don’t really get it, and I’m not that embarassed, so I thought it might actually be interesting to see what the fuss is about.

The only problem was that we’d been given probably the absolute worst seats in the place. I expected it to be a long way away, so I was prepared to only be able to see four dots jumping around the stage (or, as I’ve now learned, three jumping around and one just acting a bit wooden).  However I had expected to actually be able to see the stage. Look at the picture below (apologies for the quality from my camera phone) – tell me how this is not a "restricted view" seat!

The big white arch changed colour when it got dark.  Very pretty.  Shame that it obscured all but the very front of the stage from view, including the large projection screens!  We ended up moving to the left quite a way into a block of empty seats for a better view of one of the screens, with not much less of a view of the stage – still pathetic though for a full price ticket, and whenever there was some kind of running about or dancing going on, we were oblivious.

60,000 girls and about 300 men certainly seemed to enjoy the show.  The female bias was pretty severe – and the commercials they showed on the big screens were somewhat targeted towards the audience: for body spray, spot cream and… bingo!

Support act was probably the safest choice in the world – the hopelessly bland Sugababes.  Oh, and if you didn’t guess from the title, the real, actual Lulu was there to sing her bit of Relight My Fire. I wonder if she’s going to travel around with them the whole tour just to do half a song…?