November 2008
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Can you tell what it is yet?

Thanks to NFL Gamepass and the triple-bill of football action today, I’m getting to see a lot of Thanksgiving commercials.

I’ve already been subliminally programmed to wake up at 5am tomorrow to go shopping at Sears.  Seriously, 5am?

Anyway, this one made me double-take and because I’m incredibly immature I rewound it to take some snapshots.

So what’s the UPS man drawing on the whiteboard today?

It’s a turkey obviously.  What were you thinking?

On top of the world, looking down on (mostly his) creation

Here’s how to get the best possible view of the Las Vegas Strip: build your own hotel, then star in your own commercial.

Steve Wynn liked it so much, he did it twice.

The ultimate comp

There is nothing left to achieve in this life.

We have complimentary accomodation for New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas!

I can’t take credit for this, it’s all in Claire’s name.  Four Queens simply loves her, it seems.  Just check out this invitation.

It’s the first mailer I’ve ever seen with a tassle (and a bloody nice one it is too)…

… or with a table of contents!

It’s also the first offer we’ve had that’s come jointly from Four Queens and Binions.  Here’s the dealio: 3 free nights, some free entertainment and a breakfast.

What’s "Tributepalooza" all about? It’s Fremont Street Experience entertainment at its finest.  Fake Queen, Fake Rolling Stones and Fake The Eagles.

In fact, I think us apparent-VIPs have something of a scoop on this terrific showbiz news as the FSE web site is still pretty vague about what’s happening.  It lists some kind of New Year celebration at 11:59pm.

Who is Cynthia Minx and what is her incredible musical talent?  From the video I found on YouTube, it looks like she does all the stuff you’d expect to find in Legends in Concert or American Superstars, but as a solo artist.

So that’s two covertastic shows (one indoor, one outdoor) for the price of none!

This offer is an unexpected curveball in the Christmas and New Year trip planning.  I thought we’d already got an awesome deal with 11 nights at the Rio for under $400, but as it’s only the last few nights that cost real money we could shave $270 off the total cost of this trip by moving Downtown.

To be honest though, choosing between a free room or a cheap suite is not the worst decision I’ve ever had to make…

Eating seeds as a pastime activity

I just can’t say no to free stuff, so when I had an email from a blog directory I’d signed up for asking if I’d like to test some new products and write reviews of them it I was in there like a shot.

So last week they sent me a "9 bar" pack.  The name’s a bit misleading though, cos there was only 3 of them.

I just finally worked up to eating one, and I was like "meh".  Which, honestly, must mean they’re pretty tasty considering what’s in them.

Look at the facts.  It’s made of seeds.  Seeds.  What am I, a fucking canary?

Not only that, it’s topped with carob.  I can’t remember ever enjoying anything made with a chocolate substitute.

So for me to end up feeling pretty indifferent about the product is really quite a good thing.

I also made Claire eat one with me so we could gague each other’s opinions.

Already she was like "yay, it’s a seed bar" but she gave it a go.  She reacted to the smell first (think pet shop) and then the taste.

"I can’t place what it tastes like," she said.  "Probably bark."

If you like health foods, I’m sure you’ll love it.

However, I’m holding out for a new brand of mince pies that will need reviewing in the run up to Christmas.

Apparently I eat better than I thought

Curry counts as one of your five-a-day.  Who knew?

As soon Ben and Jerry get with the programme and tell us that Cherry Garcia also counts, I’ll be one super-healthy individual.

I guess that’s why they call it the boobs

I just got back from seeing a Las Vegas show.  In Birmingham.

Elton John is taking his Red Piano show on tour and tonight was the first night.  In fact, the only other time it’s been played outside of Caesars Palace was a one-off at the dome last year for Elton’s 60th birthday.

I’ve seen this show twice in Las Vegas and loved it.  Fortunately, it travelled pretty well.

I wasn’t so sure at first, as it looked like a bit of a half-hearted effort to cram in some of the props.  The NIA has about triple the capacity of the Colosseum (13,000 vs 4,100) and felt ten times the size, but the stage wasn’t custom-built for Celine Dion and her 20,000 acrobats so it’s not quite as accomodating.

Before the show started it was pretty easy to spot where some of the gimmicks were only half concealed.

I’ll admit the balloons weren’t exactly meant to be concealed.  They drop from the ceiling during Pinball Wizard for a sort of interactive multi-ball kind of effect.  However, what you can see here is exactly half of the total number of balloons that were rigged to go off.  It’s like eight on each side of the arena.

It seemed like such a crappy token effort that I wondered whether the touring production of the show would really have the same impact.

Yes it did.

The video screen covered the entire back of the stage and there’s no doubt that it’s the visuals that make this show something special.  They still looked enormous, even from about three times as far away from the stage as the cheapest seat in the Colosseum.

Elton actually said that the stage was the same size as at Caesars, but it was definitely a bit smaller.  There was visible congestion between the inflatables in the finale, but they did just about manage to squeeze everything in there.

Those amazing blow-up breasts always hung on the stage itself in Las Vegas.  Here they were dangling from the arena ceiling.  You’d totally miss them if you were sitting in the front few rows, and that’s a damn shame.

Yes, it needs two spotlights.  One for each nipple.

There were two songs I definitely don’t remember seeing before, although there could have been more because the whole thing lasted almost two hours, rather than having the 90 minute curfew in Vegas to make sure nobody spends too long away from the casino.

I presume he included all the songs that have been part of the show in the past, even if they’re not part of the latest incarnation.

I’m sure I would have remembered Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and the bizarre – apparently autobiographical – suicide-leads-to-dancing-bear-incident visuals for Someone Saved My Life Tonight.

The previous link is for the full film that was projected in the background during that song, but you’ll have to confirm your age with YouTube to watch it.

Which brings me on to … kids.

Don’t take them to Vegas.  And don’t take them to a Vegas-themed show.

To be fair, the blurb on Harrah’s web site does say this about the Red Piano show:

Please note that The Red Piano is designed with a Las Vegas theme and mature audiences in mind. The video imagery that accompanies the music may at times be considered risqué, and includes montage style scenes that include brief frontal nudity.

However all I could find on the NIA’s site is:

The theme throughout The Red Piano is love, symbolised by the colour red and articulated through the songs and state-of-the art effects and high-end imagery.

So that could explain why parents might think it’s a great idea to take the family to see this show.  It isn’t.

Firstly, "brief frontal nudity" is something of an understatement.  There are a lot of naked boobs in the show.  It’s all very tastefully done, of course, but the tit count is high.  Almost every song has at least one pair.

Then there is plenty more blatent sex, drugs and other such rock and roll shenanigans.  Pamela Anderson does a pole dance.  Among the neon signs that litter the stage is one that simply reads "sluts".  And I already mentioned the suicide bit.

I saw several families with young children in the audience.  I didn’t see anyone walk out, but there might be one or two awkward questions before bedtime tonight.

As for what those 16 balloons actually looked like during Pinball Wizard, I just don’t remember.

The backdrop for this song is the most amazing Las Vegas montage of aerial shots, neon close ups and gambling scenes, cut at super high speed around shots of pinball machines going crazy.

I was transfixed: partly feeling homesick and partly trying to work out what’s still there and what’s been blown up or ripped down since they filmed it!

Wynn Las Vegas busto?

Wynn Las Vegas must be in serious trouble.

What other explanation is there for an apparently recession-proof world class hotel, whose typical clientel are supposed to be the kind of folks who don’t even notice when the rest of the world runs out of money, to send me – ME – this kind of offer?

I was wetting myself over the last offer I had, which was just a theoretical free night if you pump enough coins through the right machine.

This one is 3 completely free nights, plus the added temptation of free food if you play.

Two buffets for 100 points is too good a deal to pass up.  $900 coin in @ 99.5% video poker means it costs you, on average, $2.25 per buffet.

The only restriction in the small print is that you can only earn this comp once per night stayed.  Hardly a big deal, especialy if you take a doggy bag…

Considering the only action I have ever given to the Wynn is running precisely $900 through a machine in order to get this same food comp as a new player last year, plus the couple of hours I managed to last in their poker room before the $3 chip denominations really did my head in, I have no idea why they’d give me anything.

What’s this room comp worth?  Only $650…

The only minor problem is the very specific dates for this offer.  It’s no good unless they’re also going to comp me a flight and I doubt they’re quite that desperate yet.

I dumped a game and I liked it

It started out like this:

Seat 3: luckydonut (10336 in chips)
Seat 7: supra23 (3164 in chips)
Dealt to luckydonut [Ks Td]

I had been stealing his blind quite aggressively since we’d been heads up and I was in good shape to take the victory.

In chip equity alone, I was worth $20 and change of the $27 left to play, and so far he was letting me roll him over.  KTo here meant I was about to make another easy all-in move.

supra23 said, "ill pay you $30 to fold to me"
luckydonut said, "lol"
supra23 said, "no really"
luckydonut said, "why?"
supra23 said, "i just want the battle of the planetsp points"
supra23 said, "ill give you the first place money"
supra23 said, "i just want the first place points"

I stalled the game while we talked about it and eventually I timed out and folded on my massive king-ten.

I asked for $10 up front, which he sent, then I clicked "sit out".  The extra $17 arrived after he took first place.

But is this allowed?  I really have no idea.

Poker Stars haven’t contacted me about it yet, and their software much be able to detect this kind of dumping – especially if two player-to-player transfers take place between the last two players in a tournament.

There were only two of us left in the tournament and we made a deal that we both agreed on.  He got the leaderboard points he wanted and I locked in a win without any further risk.  We’re both winners, aren’t we?

To stand a chance of making the leaderboard myself I was going to need at least 4 first place finishes in my next 8 games.  So did I think that $7 in the hand was worth more than 18 league points in the bush?  (Remember, I was still getting 27 points for 2nd place).

Absolutely yes.

However it’s the other players who are competing for the same leaderboard that are disadvantaged by us agreeing to engineer his way up the league table.  That’s why, looking back, I think our deal could have been on dodgy ground.

So I was keen to check last week’s leaderboards as soon as they were final to see how well supra23 did.  If he’d pipped another player by 18 points or less, there’s a chance (albeit a very, very small one) I might have felt responsible.

In fact it didn’t actually make any difference.  20 places are paid but Poker Stars lists the top 100 and his name was nowhere to be seen.

Beats me why someone would go to that effort to buy a small number of points if they weren’t already in with a shot of one of the top places.

Two graphs equals twice the fun

I’ve given up at the $27s, at least for a while.

I’m on an absolutely horrible downswing, and for as much as I genuinely think I’m running abnormally poorly I’m just not confident enough that it’s the only reason I’m leaking money at hyperspeed.  So, I’m going to drop back down for a while and try to win enough to take another shot.

It’s pretty difficult to draw any conclusions from what’s happened this month because I really didn’t get to play enough tournaments to find any reliable trends, even though (sadly) the recent downward trend in my bankroll is pretty clear.

I can believe that I might not have enough of an edge to beat the rake at this level – or even any edge at all over the field – but I simply can’t believe the later stages of this trainwreck graph could be representative of my long-term loss rate.

I still thought it would be worth trying to correlate my luck against my results, using a refined version of the technique I developed earlier in the week.  The graph below runs from the start of October until last night.

The green line shows profit over time and was generated by PokerTracker as normal.  Then I used a pretty crude copy and paste to superimpose the blue line for my homebrewed luck factor, which I had further mangled to only generate a point on the graph on the very last hand I played in each tournament.

There’s no particular scale for the blue line on the y-axis, and it’s not a perfect match but it lines up fairly well.

Most of the sharp ups and downs are visible on both lines and overall I’d say that about half the time the movement of the two lines seems to be in harmony, but of course this isn’t always the case.  However, while I rarely had losing streaks during spells of good luck I did have some winning streaks during spells of bad luck.

If I had to suggest a hypothesis based on these graphs, I’d say that when playing the $16s luck did affect my results but at times I was able to overcome bad luck and still win anyway.  On the other hand, once I moved up to the $27s (just before the sharp upswing on both lines) my good and bad luck has been the predominant influence on my actual results.  In other words, my ability played a more significant role at the lower levels.

In other words, there’s definitely a chance that I’m getting pwned at the $27s.

However it is only a very small sample and, unfortunately, gathering more data could be pretty expensive.

PokerStars can’t afford a trademark lawyer

This was in an affiliate communication from PokerStars that landed today.

Using "PokerStars" within Domain Names

PokerStars does not permit its affiliates to use the term PokerStars or any of our trademarks (such as SundayMillion, EPT, LAPT, APPT, etc) in any domain used to send players to us. Any affiliate found doing so will be required to transfer the domain to us.

If you do own a domain containing any of our trademarks, please login to your registrar and unlock the domain which needs to be transferred. You should then send us the authorization code. We will then initiate the transfer and pay the transfer cost associated with this. Continued practice will cause the affiliate to be subject to termination and payments suspended. Please help us with this issue by either handing your domain/s over or reporting any such domains to us.

It must be the most feeble attempt to seize domain names ever.

In fact I can’t see this having a great deal of impact, other than providing cut-throat affiliates with an easy way to eliminate the competition: simply purchase an anonymous domain registration for something like and put the other guy’s linking code on the page, then snitch.