November 2006
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It’s not just Ticketmaster…

Remember when the Internet was flaunted as the marketplace of the future, offering lower overheads to traders and allowing them to pass these savings onto consumers.  Stuff costing less online is one of the main reasons, besides porn, that the Internet has become so great.

It’s not just Ticketmaster that seem to have forgotten this vision though, with their convenience charge (charged per ticket – clearly its more convenient when you buy several), building facility charge (think I might use the spa after the support act…) and of course the "if we can’t charge you over the odds to mail your ticket, you still have to pay to pick it up" charge.  First class stamp – two quid.  Collect from box office – two quid.  You now even have the option to print your own ticket for some events.  Two quid.

The auctioneers selling off the remains of the Stardust also charge a premium for buying online.  The auction fees are 10% if you buy on site, or 13% if you buy online.  Who am I to question the logic behind this?  I’m actually more concerned with the logistics of actually buying, storing and bringing home something as wonderous as this:

The auction starts a week on Friday at 11am PST.  That’s 7pm over here – and can you think of a more perfect Friday night in than phoning for a curry and watching the sale of thousands of pieces of memorabilia from a classic Vegas casino?

Well yeah, you’re right.  I do need to get out more.

$2/$4 or not $2/$4…?

So I thought I’d cracked it.  Felt pretty good about my limit game over a reasonable number of hands.  Then I went back to PokerStars, where in the past I’d been getting well and truely thrashed at this level, and it carried on looking good for a while.  Two bonuses cleared and over $300 up on top.  Now it’s all gone again.

My graph of the last 7000 hands (actually this includes some $1/$2 and $3/$6 too) makes me look pretty much like a break-even player with one very big rush, followed by an ice cold streak.  Really, that’s a performance I should be happy with, considering how well I used to do on Stars – definitely shows improvement.  But it’s inside my head again now: how can I tell whether I really suck at limit?

I’ve been here before.  The question is not whether I believe it when I tell myself these swings are to be expected, but whether I should believe it.  Sure, I’ve hit a bad streak.  It’s only a 100 big bet downswing which is not that unusual.  Or so you hear – I think I believe this now.  I did go through an extremely cynical phase of thinking the explanation of big losing streaks was simply misinformation spread by writers and professionals, probably aided by the card rooms themselves.  All of the above have a vested interest in keeping bums on virtual seats.

But how long do you keep going before you work out whether it’s just a run bad luck, or if you actually have a leak that needs to be plugged.  Blaming the maths could be a great way to convince myself I’m really great, but consistently unlucky.  Ruin then awaits.

If I’m going to live by the stats, Poker Tracker tells me that I’m not awful.  A little too tight still maybe, but not awful.  I’m sitting even after paying $300 in rake for those 7000 hands – winning about one big bet every 100 hands from players and giving it straight back to the house.  If you should only expect to make 2BB/100 then I’m one-third of the way there.

Also I appear to be bitching about breaking even, which really is not an event worth writing, and just a little greedy.  Sorry about that.  At least for now I’m even, although my confidence has taken a beating.  What I need is a goal to prove or deny my greatness.  The rate I’m playing, I should easily get 20,000 hands in this month, if not more.  I’m going to stick with PokerStars until that milestone and then take stock again.  Hopefully things will be clearer by then, but if it’s still the same story I really don’t know what I’ll do!

There’s no bonus to clear, but I should hit PlatinumStar level and clock up at least a hundred quid’s worth of Amazon vouchers so even if its inconclusive I’ll get some free shit.

Foam Party

It’s difficult to capture the sheer beauty of a leaky can of expandable filler in a two-dimensional photograph.  But here we go.  Probably the only highlight from my weekend of draughtproofing.



I’m Dreaming of a Wayne Christmas

Could Christmas be any better than having tickets to see a Las Vegas legend?

"Wayne Newton, whose voice and singing style are synonymous with great Las Vegas entertainment, will bring his acclaimed touring holiday show to Harrah’s Las Vegas. "Mr. Las Vegas" will be performing an exciting compilation of his classic hits and favorite songs of the season on a winter wonderland set tailored for Harrah’s. Appearing with Newton will be his talented orchestra, ensemble singers and other holiday surprises."

Already booked.  Seriously.

Another one bites the ‘dust

It was obvious the Stardust’s days were numbered a few years ago, when they were making a big deal out of its 45th anniversary.  It was never going to make it to the big five-oh.  As another legendary Las Vegas hotel shuts its doors today, I feel like I should be writing a little bit about what I remember about the place.

Unfortunately, that is very little.  The fact I have a players card (below) doesn’t necessarily mean I played there.  I have a whole bunch of players cards from all kinds of casinos I’ve been to just once.  And why not?  I vaguely remember some cashback promotion at the Stardust for cycling your money through video poker that they never actually coughed the rebate on, and I’m pretty sure that was the only time we’d been there until this summer. 

In August the end was very much in sight, although nobody quite knew when.  Today’s closing is ahead of schedule, because most of the staff have already moved on to new jobs and there was little point in keeping it open.  The gift shop sold merchandise bearing the dates 1958-2006, although it was still such tat that all all I ended up buying was an energy drink.  We just stayed long enough to win two silver strikes, both the same one as usual.

We never got to see Wayne Newton there or make a bet in the daddy of all sportsbooks.  Which, for people like me who missed the first fourty years of the Stardust, are pretty much the only things I can really say I know about it.  Oh, and it still did look pretty cool at night.  I do hope they leave the lights on until it finally falls over.

The Stardust will be be imploded to make way for Echelon Place, due to open in 2010.

Continue reading Another one bites the ‘dust