February 2010
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Terrible's new poker room, or something like that

I’m still not sure if this email I had tonight is genuine.


For a start, if Terrible’s really has live poker, I’m quite disappointed that this mailer didn’t come with a picture of Mr Terrible wearing sunglasses and an iPod.  They usually make an effort to dress him up whenever possible, and this would be a perfect opportunity.

But let’s assume this is for real (they routinely spell my name wrong on emails this way, so that goes some way to verifying the authenticity).

How on earth did they find space to put in at least one poker table?  It’s pretty cozy in there already.

The sportsbook is so small it has about half a dozen seats and the pit is perfectly crammed into the middle of the action so that if you want to play Wheel of Fortune and roulette at the same time, I’m pretty sure you’d be able to.  And if there happens to be a line for the cashier (particularly likely on paycheck day) snaking through a tightly arranged grid of video poker machines at least gives you something to lean on while you wait.

They’ve recently moved the player’s club out of the broom cupboard next to the gift shop into a kiosk on the casino floor, but I can’t see that space being any use for poker.  It’s not much larger than six feet square.

The mailer says “see casino pit for details”, not “see poker room”.  They clearly don’t have any pretensions of being the Bellagio (thank goodness).  It might just be one table.  And you might have to ask for directions.

There’s just nowhere I can think that even one table could go without needing to get rid of either slot machines, table games or space in the bingo hall, and I can’t see any of those happening for a game that (according to the coupon on this mailing) has a $20 minimum buy in.

That would make it one of only two such recession-busting poker games in Las Vegas (the other is a single $1 blind no-limit Hold’em game at Bill’s).  I can’t wait to see what games are on offer, and what kind of clientele it attracts.

I can’t find any other details about this.  Nothing on Terrible’s own web site, or any of the usual suspect Las Vegas poker blogs.  I might actually be the first to break this massive poker news in the whole of the “blogosphere”.

Oh how I hate that word.

However, to be fair, I’d be surprised if any other bloggers were on Terrible’s mailing list, let alone had ever stopped by for a 99c coffee and Krispy Kreme special.

Would the real Caesar please stand up?

The mug shot below is definitely not mine, although it definitely should be.


I have no idea who this is. At least it’s a dude, I suppose, but something has gone a little bit awry between taking the photo and sending the postcard.

iTunes had told me there was an update available to the crummy Caesars Palace iPhone app, and as the version had leapt from 1.0 straight to 1.3 you might have expected great things of it.

But you’d be disappointed.  In fact the product description still claims this is a “beta” release (which, clearly, is still a pipe dream) and the only change that it brags across three minor version numbers is a “new dining menu”.

Nevertheless, the app did tease me with an exciting new undocumented function: the addition of an “open in Safari” button in the toolbar of on most pages.  This would provide users with a way to capture some of its information for later offline viewing (so that, for example, it did not take 30 seconds and incur data roaming charges for overseas guests to view the property map).  Guess what?  That button actually does nothing.

Still, there was something of an enhancement to the “send a postcard” feature.  As you can see above, at least the template now actually has space to fit the photo that you take.  That’s a significant improvement on the last version, but however shit it looked before, fixing that should be secondary to making sure the right photo gets sent to the right recipient.

Otherwise it’s just going to be creepy.

I dread to think who ended up with the picture of yours truly, which I took only to test the postcard feature and expecting that nobody other than myself would ever see it.  The email comes from a no-name Caesars Palace address and there’s no option to add a personalised message, which might have given them a clue that it was broken.  It just says “A special message from your friend”.

Of course, I was pulling a stupid grin when I was playing about with this.  I bet I looked pretty special to whoever was unlucky enough to get that postcard.

Actually, given that I sent two of these to myself and they both came through with the same (wrong) picture, I have a suspicion of what’s messing it up.

I bet this feature would work just fine if only one person ever used it.  The problem is its immense popularity.  As soon as a second user comes along and smiles sweetly for the camera, he overwrites the first photo with his own.

So when you are sent a postcard, you have a small window of opportunity to view it as it was intended.  If you’re too slow, you’re in for a surprise.

Check it out if you like.  The image URL embedded into both emails I got is:  I thought the “UQ==” part might have been a unique identifier that was assigned to each photo uploaded.  That probably would have worked out OK though, because using upper and lower case letters, numbers and a few symbols, even just a four character filename could handle more than 20 million photos before it started overwriting the first one.

But I’ve tried guessing other values and found nothing but “404 Not Found” errors.  What I’m expecting, though, is that by the time you click on the URL above, the picture you see will probably be nothing like the one I posted above.

If I’m right, it could be amusing to keep checking back to that link to see what changes over the next few days.  Presumably, every time someone sends a postcard from the app, we’ll get to see some stupid pose that they thought was only going to be seen by a close friend.

If anyone catches a good one, either though this or through trying to make a postcard of yourself, send it to me and I’ll add it to the post!

Celine Dion is only the support act

Celine Dion announced this week that she would return to Caesars Palace next year, but she’s in danger of having her thunder stolen by British 80s boy band graduate, Matt Goss.

It’s difficult to argue who is the bigger star.

But even so, it’s Goss’s gig that’s getting attention here in the UK.  The news (which was announced nearly two weeks ago) has just started to hit the papers over here, and it even got a mention on Radio 2 last night.

Play the clip below to hear Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie give their critique of his career so far and announce his arrival as the new headliner at Caesars.

That’s if you consider playing in a 165-capacity indoor boat with a novelty rocking, floating dance floor (rather than the 4,296-seater Colosseum under the same roof) to be headlining.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

If you can’t be bothered to listen to the clip, here’s the highlight:

“He’s exactly what [Vegas] used to have and lost?  What, a bloke with some Doc Martins with Grolsch tops on?”

As the supportive partner of a former Brosette (is that such a thing?  Isn’t it like saying “former alcoholic”?) there was little doubt that we’d be seeing this show in April, and I’ve just booked the tickets.

I actually don’t mind and I’m quite looking forward to it.  The clips I’ve seen make it look, well, not bad.  And it’s definitely a Vegas show (complete with sleazy backing dancers called “Dirty Virgins”) – about as far from a Bros tribute as it could be.

I’ll give anything a go these days, and besides, my tastes are much broader now than they were when I was 14 years old and detested Kylie just as much as I hated Bros.  What was I thinking?

Super Bowl coin toss rigged like online poker

Here’s an amazing statistic, coming from the insightful TV commentary leading up to kick off in yesterday’s Super Bowl.

It came after the large no-cash-value metal disc they loosely called a “coin” was flipped into the air and landed on the side they’d decided that today they would refer to as “heads”.  I think that side had a helmet on it, so it was close enough.

“The past 13 years the NFC team has won the toss.  The odds of one team winning 13 straight are about eighty-one hundred to one”.

Obviously, this kind of revelation is the reason commentators don’t STFU during the pre-match shenanigans and wait for the actual game to start.

In fact, the number he was looking for is closer to eighty-two hundred.  Two to the power of thirteen is 8,192, which would give odds (assuming a fair fake coin) of 8,191-1.

The number’s right, but it’s not quite the right context.  Indeed, across a series of Super Bowls, the odds of the team from one particular chosen conference to win 13 coin flips is as above, but the probability of one team winning 13 straight is lower.

If we don’t care who wins the first toss (after all, someone has to win it) then whoever does only needs to guess another 12 correctly to make a streak of 13.  The odds of that happening are 4095-1.

Still a fairly unlikely occurrence, but it’s half the first number – and I’m sure they’d still have mentioned it if was the AFC team who’d got there.

It would be just as noteworthy – in fact, probably more so – if there was a streak of 13 straight heads or 13 straight tails.  The odds of any one of the four streaks I’ve mentioned so far happening brings the price down to a heavily discounted 2047-1.

I began wondering, with all the stats that are thrown about during a typical NFL game, whether a game ever passes that something doesn’t show up that looks vaguely remarkable.

This coin toss streak actually only considers consecutive Super Bowls.  It’s much easier to find wonderful patterns if you consider consecutive playoff games, or Monday evening games, or games played in domes, or in the rain, on the West Coast where at least one team is wearing blue.  And they do look for this kind of meaningless correlation.  All the time.

But in this case it didn’t need any such fudging.  I’ve tried to discount it as much as I can, but it’s still a pretty terrific streak of coin flips coming down in the same arbitrary (yet definitely consistent) direction.

It’s one to remember the next time you hear someone complaining about a “sick” (see my air quotes there?) losing streak when playing online poker. Maybe they lost five or six 50/50 races in a row.

They’ll probably try to convince you this never happens in real life.  Guess what… it actually does.

For what it’s worth, if you’d bet a dollar on the NFC winning the coin toss in 1998 and parlayed the winnings onto the same bet for the past 13 years at the typical bookmakers odds of 10-11, you’d be in for a whopping payout of $4474.51.

Not too shabby – but that equates to juice of more than 45% when you compare it to the true odds payout of $8192!

A money launderer's wet dream

If you’ve got any money that needs washing, Stan James are making it insanely easy for you this weekend.  Just bet both sides on the SuperBowl – with no juice!


A slightly less nefarious way to take advantage of this is through their £25 free bet offer.

Grab a partner, sign up an account each and bet £25 on each side of the point spread.  You can’t lose, and then you’ll both end up with a £25 free bet to play with next week.

There’s usually a way to cash in sports betting bonuses without any risk, but this one makes it pretty easy to explain how it works.

So I thought I would.