Mel B Leaving PeepShow

The news that Mel B. is leaving “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood, in Las Vegas, flew under my radar earlier this week.  Her replacement is someone I’ve never heard of – Shoshana Bean.  The cast will continue to rotate every few months to keep the show fresh.

Here’s a parting shot of Mel B.

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Here’s a shot of the incoming Shoshana Bean.

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Don’t forget Holly Madison as Bo Peep.

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Fontainebleau Files for Chapter 11

Fontainbleau filed for voluntary chapter 11 bankruptcy protection yesterday.   Construction has been marred by financial problems for the past couple of months and this continues the Las Vegas projects regression to completion.

“The decision to file for Chapter 11 was the direct result of certain lenders having refused to honor their contractual commitments to provide nearly $800 million in construction funding for the $2.9 billion resort-casino project, which is 70 percent complete,” the company said.

“It is unfortunate that our lenders forced us to take this step. By reneging on the revolving credit facility, they effectively shut down the project and put thousands of people out of work,” said Howard Karawan, chief restructuring officer of Fontainebleau Las Vegas. “Our goal now is to secure funding to complete this world-class project and restructure our existing debt.”

I still think that this doesn’t mean that the casino hotel won’t be completed…some day.  Obviously things will continue to be delayed, but I can’t imagine that a business this close to completion won’t open.  We’ll just have to wait a little while.

Construction photo below from the awesome website Vegas Today and Tomorrow.

Slot Machines & Video Poker: Slant Top vs. Upright

I’ve noticed a lot of incoming searches that are inquiries about slant top and about upright video poker machines so I decided to share my thoughts on each type of game.

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Upright Machines

I see more upright machines at casinos than slant top models.  The machines are placed on cabinets to place the games at eye level.  It’s nice to sit upright and have everything right in sight.  These machines promote good posture because of the line of sight.  Because there is this direct sight line there isn’t a real desire or need to slouch.

Some will put their feet up and lean back while they play poker.  When I was a kid my mother made me nervous about falling down if I lean back, so I don’t do that.

I don’t mind these games, but if I’m drinking something I’ll typically have to stop playing to pick the drink up or put it down.  It’s a small thing, but I don’t like the pause while I’m playing.

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Slant Top Machines

There aren’t as many slant top machines in casinos nowadays.  It seems to me that many of the slant tops are older games – specifically slots.  I stay away from the slots because most of them are old, although there seems to be some newer games coming onto the market.

The seats are lower to the ground because the games are set lower to the ground.  There’s a tendancy to lean foward to the game because of the arm rests.  I find these games to be have more room than the uprights.

The real reason I like slant tops is because I have easy access to the buttons on the game as well as my drink.  There’s little pause when I play these machines.  Specifically, I enjoy playing video poker on these machines early in the morning over a cup of coffee.

The type of machine doesn’t really matter to me.  When playing video poker the pay tables matter more than anything else.  With everything being equal, I would choose a slant top game.  I enjoy being lower to the ground and I don’t mind the posture as long as it gets me access to my drinks quicker.

What do you prefer?

World Series of Poker Starts Today!

The 40th annual World Series of Poker begins today at the Rio in Las Vegas, Nevada.  I don’t play casino poker because it bores me.  I play with friends and that’s all.  Here are some links for you to get more information.

There is a schedule of every World Series of Poker event here

ESPN television schedule for the World Series of Poker here.

I won’t likely read the news of the even but I’ll watch the TV coverage.  If something interests me, I’ll share it as usual.

4 Hour Roll In Craps

4 Hour Craps Roll at Borgata Atlantic City
This lady rolled dice for 4 hours!

Wow.  Just Wow!  This weekend, in her second time playing craps, a New Jersey woman broke a record with a 4 hour-long roll of the dice in craps at Borgata.  He turn lasted 154 rolls.  Yowza!

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A record-setting night for one gambler in Atlantic City.

While playing craps at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa on Saturday night, Patricia Demauro of Denville set a new record for the longest craps roll by hanging on for four hours and 18 minutes.

Borgata officials said that bested the previous mark of three hours and six minutes, set nearly 20 years ago at a Las Vegas casino.

I might have kissed Patricia if I were at that table.  The longest roll I’ve ever been apart of lasted about 45 minutes.  It was awesome.  Lately, I’m lucky if I get a roll that lasts more than 10 minutes.

I stopped playing craps at Borgata last year when I heard rumor that the tables were longer and the felt was bouncier than other Atlantic City casinos.  These were things I noticed when playing, but hearing this from multiple other sources played to my fears and has kept me away.  The more the dice roll the more difficult any strategy is.  I’d rather just play other games.

Photo: Time

Welcome To Las Vegas Sign Goes Historic

In my mind the “Welcome To Las Vegas” sign has been historic for years.  That’s because I have my own memories from the sign.  This week the world famous sign received official historic designation.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign is now officially a piece of national history.

Clark County officials on Thursday announced that the sign has gained listing on the National Register of Historic Places, to fit with the county’s centennial celebration this year.

County Commission Chairman Rory Reid says the 50-year-old sign at the south end of the Las Vegas Strip is an important symbol, as well as the backdrop for untold thousands of tourist photographs.

The National Park Service designation became official on May 1.

The sign cost $4,000 in 1959 and was designed by Betty Whitehead Willis of Western Neon.

It was erected after a group of Strip hotel owners asked Clark County for a sign welcoming visitors to Las Vegas.

And now…..time for a photo…

3 Card Poker Strategy

After my trip to Las Vegas I realized that I played 3 card poker more than any other table game.  This isn’t normal for me as I usually mix games up, but it’s how the trip went.  I thought I would offer my strategy versus optimal stategy from Wizard of Odds.  I don’t consider my strategy optimal or perfect because I haven’t done the math to prove whether or not it is optimal.

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How Top Play

The game is simple.  First the players bet on the Ante and/or Pair Plus areas.  Using a deck of 52 cards 3 cards are then dealt, face down, to each player.  After the cards are dealt the players may look at their cards.  If the player likes their cards and wants to play they put another bet in the Play circle.  After all of the players bet the dealer turns over their cards.

In order to win the dealer must “qualify” with at least a Queen.  If the dealer qualifies they can then win if they have a better hand than the player.  The player wins by having a better hand than the dealer.  The amount of the win depends on the winning players cards.

So if you play your hand you are betting 3 units.  If you fold your hand you lose 2 units.

Hand Ranking

3 Card Poker hands rank slightly different than regular poker.  Here’s the order from best hand down.

Mini Royal (flush)
Straight Flush
3 Of A Kind
Straight
Flush
Pair
High Card

Note:  Not all casinos pay out for Mini Royal Flushes .

Payouts

If you win there are multiple ways to be paid, which is what makes the game fun.  Pair Plus is the top circle and where the big money is paid, so let’s start there.

Pair Plus Payout
Pair:  Even money
Flush:  3-1
Straight:  6-1
3 of a kind:  30-1
Straight Flush:  40-1
Mini Royal:  50-1 (If available)
No Pair:  Losing bet

Ante and Play pay the same odds
Straight:  Even Monday
3 of a Kind:  4-1
Straight Flush:  5-1
All other hands:  Even money

I usually try to gamble with optimal strategy.  This is why I stick with Jacks or Better video poker.  It has the most simple strategy.  When it comes to 3 card poker optimal strategy goes out the door and I become passive aggressive.

Optimal Strategy

My number one reference, Wizard of Odds, says that you should play any hand equal to or better than Queen – Six – Four.  “In any poker based game hands are scored first according to the highest card, then the second, and then the third, and so on if there are more. So a queen/7/3 would beat queen/6/4. The queens tie so the second highest cards are used to break the tie, and a 7 beats a 6. The third card does not matter in this case because the hand was resolved by the second card.”

ECG Strategy

I have two different strategies depending on how many people are at the table.  The more players at a 3 card poker table the better the odds are for the player since more cards are in play before the dealer gets their cards.

If there is less than 5 of the 7 hands in play (I’ll sometimes play 2 hands at a time to get more cards in circulation) I typically only play hands Queen – Ten or better.  The third card doesn’t matter.  This is a little more conservative than optimal strategy.

If the table is playing 5 or more hands I will look at my cards after everyone else looks at their cards.  If everyone else plays I will play 95% of the time.  If this occurs sometimes I’ll just play blind.  This is much more aggressive.

**UPDATE If there table has only 3 or 4 spots taken I’ll usually play two hands.  The more cards on the players side of the table seems to increase the player hands while giving the dealer lesser hands.  This isn’t statistically based, but it seems to often be the case.

Conclusion

I like 3 card poker when I don’t really want to pay attention to the game but want to gamble.  As I’ve mentioned before I’m often a social gambler.  When I want to hang with friends, drink, chit chat and people watch I tend to sit and play 3 card poker.  Because of the big payouts there’s a reason for the excitement.  A $5 game can turn into a $200+ win.  I tend to play higher stakes, but the math is the same.

Tropicana Las Vegas is Going Canadian

It seems as though east and west coast Tropicana’s are dueling for attention.  The Tropicana in Las Vegas is in the news today.  Onex Corp., based in Toronto, is proceeding with plans to take over the Tropicana in Las Vegas.  

Gaming newcomer Onex Corp., a private equity firm with $10 billion under management, says it’s proceeding with plans to take over the Tropicana hotel-casino in Las Vegas as the property emerges from bankruptcy protection.

The Toronto company this week said it’s been accumulating Tropicana debt and expects to take control of the property this year, subject to regulatory approvals and finalization of the bankruptcy case.

It will be interesting to see if a newcomer to the casino game can turn things around at the Tropicana.  They do have casino experience on the team.  The question to ask is if the hill is too much to climb.  My last trip to the Tropicana was a few years ago and I played Tic-Tac-Toe against a chicken and lost.

To be frank, the real estate alone may make the deal worthwile.  I’m looking forward to seeing how things turn out.

Delaware Sports Gambling Bill Signed Into Law

Earlier this week I noted that Delaware was pushing their sports gambling bill through quickly.  Well the foot has been taken off the neck because the bill has been signed already.

NEWARK, Del. (AP) — Delaware becomes the only state east of the Mississippi River to allow betting on sports after the governor signed the legislation.

Gov. Jack Markell signed the bill into law Thursday.

Officials say they expect to have sports betting running in three months and table games such as poker, blackjack, craps and roulette, in play in no more than six months.

The sports lottery is key to Markell’s plan to address a projected shortfall of more than $600 million for the coming fiscal year.

But sports betting could face a legal challenge by professional sports leagues.

Delaware is one of only four states, along with Nevada, Montana and Oregon, grandfathered under a 1992 federal law that bans sports gambling.

As the AP article stated this bill will likely be challenged by the major sports leagues.  If that is the case, the NFL will be first in line.  Truth be told, this would be a dog and pony show by the NFL.  They have to give the appearance that they are against gambling even though gambling a major part of why the NFL is so popular.

Once this is all said and done I think this will give New Jersey precedent to move forward to make sports gambling legal in New Jersey.

Bellagio and Mirage Not Likely to be Sold

There has been rumor for a while that that either, or both, Bellagio and Mirage would be put on the market to help MGM Mirage amidst their finanacial concerns.  Yesterday, that was put to bed and both casinos will likely not be sold.

MGM Mirage today unleashed a series of financial initiatives aimed at bolstering its balance sheet — and signaled its Bellagio and Mirage hotel-casinos won’t be sold anytime soon…Take on new debt in the form of $1.5 billion in senior secured notes — bonds secured by the Bellagio and Mirage assets, meaning they couldn’t be sold unless other security is designated to back up the bonds.

While this saves both of those casinos, it moves some of the other Las Vegas properties up the ladder to be sold.  Mandalay Bay (a favoritecasino of mine) seems to be on top of the chopping block now.  Initially I thought that MGM Mirage would look to divest assets outside of Las Vegas if they needed to raise funds and they still might end up doing that.  I’m not sure the price to buy on the Vegas strip is right. 

If you were buying a business would you rather be a big fish in a small sea or one of the many in the most popular desitnation?  I would prefer to be the big fish and move from there.