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More top search terms

I’ve spent way too long looking at my web site stats.

Here’s another top ten.  Not questions this time, just search terms that Google in their infinite wisdom decided to send my way.

As far as I can remember, I have never used any of these phrases as they appear below on my blog.

10. "if donuts could talk"

9. "vicky coren tits"

8. "pokerstars fucks people over"

7. "the gold coast casino makes the bands work a ridiculous 6 sets"

6. "games where you can be a donut"

5. "shit foam"

4. "spork funny pictures"

3. "doughnut disaster shirt"

2. "cinnabon tree"

1. "sims 2 i have looked in the trash and there are not any donuts"

Also an honourable mention goes to whoever searched for "puts baby in -corner" for its combination of randomness and advanced search term formation.  Indeed, if you don’t exclude the word "corner" and just search for "puts baby in" all you get is quotes from Dirty Dancing.  But why?

Your questions answered

I had a bit of a scan through this web site’s usage stats to see how people are getting here from search engines. 

Many of the searches are phrased in the form of a question, or at least in a way that suggests they are looking for a specific answer.

So, for those visitors, just in case you didn’t find what you were looking for I’d be happy to answer your questions. Here’s the top ten, in no particular order probably.

10. "7/5 odds pay out on $1"

Let’s start with an easy one.  $1.40, plus your $1 back.  Good luck on that dollar.

9. "how much is a cab ride from imperial palace to binions"

Bank on $20-25 depending on how generously you tip.  It’s a 6 mile journey, which at $2.40 per mile and a $3.30 drop charge would be $17.70 on the meter, assuming you get green lights all the way.

8. "poker hands what is good"

Umm… a flush is pretty good but a full house is better.  Does that actually help?

7. "how far is harrah’s rincon from the airport"

Assuming you mean San Diego airport, it’s 47 miles by road which will take about an hour on a good run.  Oceanside airport is a little closer (33 miles) but you’d probably need a private jet to get there.

6. "neteller difference between prepaid card and net prepaid card"

God alone knows.  Neteller’s card is touted as the prepaid card you don’t have to load and I’m afraid I still haven’t figured this out.  Use a real bank instead.

5. "i earned 250 base credits over the weekend at casino will i have cashback waiting for me"

Sounds like a Harrah’s question if you’re talking about base credits but I may be wrong.  Cashback doesn’t wait for you, it comes in the mail.  You get a voucher which either has to be cashed at the cashier or inserted into a machine.  However, 250 base credits is nowhere near enough (you have to earn 4500 reward credits in a month) and you don’t get any cash back from Las Vegas casinos any more.

4. "what is the least common demonitator of 18 and 27"

That’s a fairly random maths question to somehow end up here looking for an answer.  Demonitator is my new favourite word, but ignoring the awesome typo the answer is 54.

3. "is there a way around being able to take money from my account and put it into a online poker site"

In most of the free world you can just use a debit card on your bank account, so it sounds like a USA-oriented question.  Post UIGEA, you’ll have to slip some money to a dude at your local cardroom who says he can make it happen and hope that he remembers your screen name correctly.

2. "what if i charge 3000 dollars on my credit card and say it wasnt me"

It’s a coinflip: either free money or prison.

And finally, I’m just going to file this one under rhetorical questions.  It’s depressing enough that Google thought I might have an answer.

1. "why do children like violence"

You’re all very welcome.

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.

Immortalised

A few years ago Claire had a birthday cake made for me that immortalised my likeness in marzipan.

Today, a similar honour has been paid to me by Silverton Jim who has immortalised me as an actual walking, talking donut.

Read episode 7 of Stick to Vegas to see what this is all about.  Jim assures me he was not on crack when he wrote it, but I’m not completley convinced…

Free kicks

It’s been a while since Sporting Index last sent out a bet refund promotion.  Thankfully the dry spell ended this weekend.

Their new spread game is, as usual, some kind of random number generator apparently based around a computer sports simulation, but with no possible way it could actually be representative of what you see on screen.

This time it’s penalty kicks.  The goal area is divided into 35 areas and points are awarded for every goal scored depending on where it hits the net.

That’s if you’re betting on a "points" market.  You could just bet on the total number of goals, or the differential of goals (or points) between the two teams.  Or you could plump for something much more exotic.

For example, take the shirt number of the striker and multiply it by the number of points for the goal he scores (if he scores) and add them all together.  If that number is higher or lower than some other number, you might win money.

The question is: how do you make your decision as to which way or how much to bet when you have no way of knowing how the trajectory of the football is determined?

Each square on the goal grid might be equally likely to be hit, but there’s no reason to assume this is the case.  And even if it was, what is the chance that any particular shot is saved by the goalkeeper?  You’d have to factor that in too to see what the actual distribution of scores is likely to be.

This is all assuming that the RNG is fair.  I’m sure it is though.  Online gambling is never rigged.

The workings of this game are further obfuscated by the fact you can choose two teams from a list of five to play the shootout.  Brazil is most likely to score from the penalty spot and Mexico the least, they say – and who am I to argue?

As you select your teams, you can see the markets move based on how much better one team is than the other.  In fact the values in the markets are the only clue you have as to what’s about to happen.

You can also pick the goalkeeper, although this appears to make no difference to the numbers at all.  It’s just there for comedy value: choose from Hans Blocker, Dmitri Tipitova or Claude Le Ballawei.  I groaned out loud (GOL?), just like you’re probably doing now.

The offer I received was for a refund of net losses up to £50 on this game, providing I placed at least ten bets each with a £5 minimum risk.  Clearly, there’s no way you can lose if you do this right.

I chose the total points market to meet the requirements for the refund, purely because of the numbers involved.  For this combination of teams, the price was set at 51 points to buy – meaning that a 10p stake would always have a maximum loss of £5.10.  That’s very much a worst case scenario too, as you can only lose the full amount if there are no goals at all scored in ten attempts!

In fact the variance on this bet was pretty low.  After 9 spins I’d had a loss of £2 and a win of £2.60 and seven other results somewhere in between.  Overall I was down £4.40.

The way I usually like to play these things is to take the full amount of money that I can still bet risk-free after meeting the requirements (in this case £45.60) and lump it all on one bet at even money or fairly short odds.

The only bet in this game close to offering fixed odds is the win index, which awards 25 points if the chosen team wins the shootout, 10 points for a draw or 0 if they lose.  I’ve actually played this same bet on a real football match before.

I simply decided to pick the market which would allow me to buy one team at as close as possible to 10 points, effectively resulting in a fixed odds bet at 3-2 (25-10).  I wanted to make sure a draw resulted in a do-over, rather than a win or loss that would affect the amount I had left to play with significantly.

The bet I chose was Mexico vs USA, backing Mexico @ 9.4 points for £4.85 per point.  Worst case, I lose £45.59 (just 1p short of getting the full £50 refund, when you add in what I lost so far).  The draw is almost irrelevant, but the win is worth a healthy £75.66 for £71.26 profit in total on the promotion.

Mexico surged ahead early, only to choke later on in a frustrating 3-3 draw, which ultimately landed me just £2.91 for the effort.  After I stopped shouting at the stupid little pictures of pretend footballers, I increased the stakes ever so slightly and ran it again.

Unfortunately the USA won 5-4 that time.

Was worth a shot though.  Ship that refund…

Welcome to the cheap seats

At the weekend I went to see the NFL International Series game between the New Orleans Saints and the San Diego Chargers at Wembley Stadium.

There are a million bloggers who actually know what they’re talking about when they write about sports so I’m not even going to bother trying to analyse the game.  Except to say that it was a thoroughly entertaining evening and a cracking game and I loved it.

There are some things you can hope to see at a game and some you would probably never dream of.

It was high scoring (67 points on offense) and went to the wire with a hail mary pass at 0:01 remaining and only 5 points between the teams.  There was a coach’s challenge upheld, a 4th down conversion for touchdown, an "excessive celebration" (duly penalised) and an onside kick – which was recovered!

Add to that a missed extra point, which almost never happens, and an intentional safety play, which really almost never happens.

I can only remember ever seeing one intentional safety on TV – and that came after a botched punt.  This one was run straight out of the playbook:

Plus the team I bet on won, which never hurts.

Compare this to last year where we got to see a team that hadn’t found their form yet slip and slide in the pissing rain against a team who only won one game all season.  I think it must have put some fans off as it was a doddle to get tickets this year.

I’d already decided that I wasn’t going to bust a gut to get tickets or pay over the odds to have extremely bored security personnel who thought I didn’t really look like Club Wembley material harass me over my heinous plastic bottle.  The "cheap seats" (£55) were still a superb view.

Unfortunately, I only had a compact camera so most of the pictures I took serve only as proof – should it be needed – that "digital zoom" really isn’t any better than no zoom at all.  This is about the best of it.

  

Jesus “almost as popular as chocolate”

It’s official.  These two appeared right next to each other in my Facebook news feed today.

 

Cinnabon rolls into London

America’s favourite sickly sweet, highly calorific roll of lard has come to London.  Hello Cinnabon my old friend!

I discovered this by accident yesterday when I just happened to be walking through Picadilly Circus, killing time after a meeting which turned out to be much shorter than I expected.

In fact I carried on walking right through to Leicester Square past the venue where the World Series of Poker Europe is current taking place.  You’d think I might have been a bit more interested in that than I actually was, particularly with time on my hands.  Apparently not.

It’s still a travesty that the Empire’s iconic marquee sign was torn down to make way for the dullest casino frontage you could imagine.  At least now that there’s a major international event taking place, they made a bit of an effort to hang a nice big purple vinyl banner over the balcony.  Classy.

Anyway, Cinnabon only has a tiny store on the outside of the Trocadero, but it still smells as gorgeous as I remember when you walk past.  Which I did several times before taking the plunge.

"You want four?  In a box?".

I didn’t think my order was too complicated, but it took a while to sink in.  The store is pretty new, and this could possibly be the first take-out order they had.  Turns out they did actually have boxes.  I knew this because I’d seen them, right there on the front of the counter.  I can’t imagine who put them there though, because the staff seemed oblivious.

They also didn’t have any bags big enough for said boxes.  But never fear, I got an awesome improvised handle made out of sticky tape.

I’m absolutely positive that must be how they do it in America.  Yeah great, I’ll fit right in walking through the West End with that stuck to my fingers.  Fortunately I managed to squeeze the box inside my laptop bag and it didn’t travel too badly.

They were definitely similar in shape to their American counterparts, but seemed to be lacking in the addictive white sugary gunk department.  The stock photo on wikipedia confirmed that I remembered this right: we’re definitely getting stiffed on the good stuff.

And the reason for that?  Of course it’s the Great British business model of trying to squeeze every last penny out of customers by selling them something extra that costs next to nothing and should already be part of the deal.

In the same vein as Burger King charging 20p for a little packet of ketchup with your £5 meal, Cinnabon have decided that pots of their trademark sugary goodness are 50p each.

It can’t be long before somewhere introduces a pay-per-napkin policy.

I’m pretty sure that the last time I had a box like this in America, they just threw a handful of those pots into the bag (yes, they had bags).  I kinda OD’d on the stuff (needing an extremely greasy cheeseburger afterwards to dilute my blood sugar levels) so I remember that there was a lot of it.

Anyway, I ate one at night and I felt my pulse quicken almost immediately and it kept me awake for hours so they still have the same active ingredients.

£3.50 each or £10 for 4, in case you’re interested.  Not cheap, but a very pleasant way to get one step closer to coronary disease.

The fountains at Blackpoolio

That’s what it may as well be called.

This is not my video.  I did try to record the show when I saw it last night but I only had my phone on me and the results were pretty poor.  Apparently in the dark I’ll be lucky to get three frames a second out of it.

Fortunately there’s very little that isn’t already on YouTube, and even though this light and fountain spectacular has only been on display for a couple of weeks I managed to find a full length video.

Whereas Bellagio has a 9 acre lake and over twenty shows in rotation, Blackpool’s latest Las Vegas rip-off is a show named "Venus Reborn" which sits in a tin bath plonked on a garden by the promenade.

As well as the fountains, which sometimes shoot as high as three feet in the air, the show also consists of lights and cut-out silhouettes, which move a little bit.  It’s all set to Debussy’s Clair de Lune.

As far as I know Bellagio doesn’t actually use this music, but there is a strong connection: it is the soundtrack to the scene at the end of Ocean’s Eleven when the protagonists all watch the fountain show before going their separate ways.

Celebrity interior designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen is apparently the man responsible for bringing a water show to a Northern English seaside town for the wettest part of the season.  He said of it:

"For me Blackpool is Venus, which may seem an odd thing to say but there’s a sultry, voluptuous beauty to Blackpool, she’s like Venus a real pleasure girl.

"My tableau, Venus Reborn, celebrates what I hope will be a glamorous future for Blackpool.  Surrounded by classical gods and goddesses in tuxedo finery my very modern Venus rises out of her shell with a theatrical Vegas style flourish."

Indeed, if you can’t be bothered to watch the whole show (it’s about four and a half minutes, and not a great deal happens) do skip to the end and check out the dazzling finale where the goddess Venus holds out her palm to reveal… Blackpool Tower.

It’s not that clear on the video, but take my word for it.  It really is.

Maybe I’m being a bit harsh, it is only temporary.  Venus Reborn will be playing every fifteen minutes until the Blackpool Illuminations are turned off at the beginning of November.

Roam if you want to

After someone told me their iPhone contract on O2 had an optional upgrade that for not much extra would allow them to use unlimited data when roaming abroad, I decided to call T-Mobile to see if they could give me anything similar.

Currently I pay them £15/month for "Web’n’Walk Plus", which means I have unlimited data use (exceeding the "fair usage" 3Gb monthly limit would be quite impressive) on the phone itself, and can hook it up to my laptop to surf and play poker when I’m travelling.

No such luck, they don’t offer any unlimited data plans for roaming.

However, they have a discount package for international data usage, which brings the roaming cost down from £7.50 per Mb to £3.00 per Mb.  "It’s free, so I’ll just add it to your account", she said.

One Mb lets you check your email about twice, so it’s still an extortionate rate and I’ll probably not use it (unless I really can’t resist the urge to crank up Google Maps in the middle of the desert, just for curiosity’s sake) but suddenly the rate less than half what it would be otherwise.

What I don’t get is why isn’t that just The Price?