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.

3card_poker

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.

Vegas Report – Bye Bye Vegas!

…Of course Monday was the worst day of the trip.  I had to go home and back to real life.  After a pretty unexciting Sunday I slept in until 8am.  It felt pretty nice.  I showered and packed and headed down to the casino to see the host on duty.  He was kind enough to remove my charges from the trip.  There weren’t many, but it was nice.  

For my final meal in Vegas I headed to Augustus Cafe.  I had a very good bacon and cheese omlette and decaf.  I don’t drink caffeine before I fly – especially coach.  

After breakfast I played a couple more slot machines.  I won $75 on the $1 Wheel of Fortune slots and broke even on some kind of diamond slot.  I only played for a while before heading back to the room so my friend could pack and we could head to the airport.

I had another nice cab driver on my final trip.  He was writing a book about travelers tales and other cab drivers.  Check In was quick and easy and, for a change, the security line wasn’t too bad at all.  Right as I get to the gate I get an email that the flight was delayed.  I decided to grab a grilled chicken sandwhich at Chili’s.  It was pretty good.  I get another email about my flight being delayed.  I’m now at the airport for at least another two hours.  

 

I was able to upgrade on the flight out to Vegas, but not on the flight home.  The flight out made me realize how much I love first class.  I had a middle seat and of course I couldn’t sleep on the packed flight home.  It wasn’t really uncomforatble, but I wasn’t comfortable.  

After boarding the flight a rolling out from the gate I was delayed for another 20 minutes.  The flight finally landed just after 11am eastern time.  Keeping with the theme of being delayed there was something wrong with the baggage carousel and I didn’t get out of the airport until midnight.

The last day in Vegas is always sad for me, but the delays at every step on the way home only made the last day long and miserable.  At least every other part of this trip was great!

Sports Gambling Closing in on New Jersey?

Sports gambling is one step away from becoming legal in Delaware.  All that needs to be done now is for Governor Jack Markell to sign the bill into law.  This will make Delaware the first state east of the Mississippi River to have legalized gambling.

The Delaware state senate moved quickly Tuesday to approve a sports gambling bill, leaving only Gov. Jack Markell’s promised signature as the final step before it becomes law.

Instead of sending the bill to a committee for a debate, the senators voted to suspend those rules and allowed it to be debated in the full chamber. A short time later, the bill passed 17-2 with two abstentions.

It’s not known what type of sports gambling will be allowed as that will be decided once the bill is signed.  New Jersey has had similar studies to those that Delaware has had in the past few years.  Hopefully this will be a step closer to legal sports gambling in New Jersey.  

Vegas Report – Last Night

…Sometimes naps have a good rejuvenating effect and sometimes they just make me more tired.  This nap was somewhere closer to making me more tired.  When I woke up I decided to try to start the engine again and headed to the Diamond Lounge for a nice big drink – a double kettel and soda!  It was damn good.  This time there was a hot buffet and the lounge was packed with people that piled food to the ceiling.

I was disgusted watching people shove food down their faces so I went to the casino to play craps for the first time.  About 2 hours later I was down $400.  I was never up and hung around for a while.  I love craps and had a great time.  I only wish I was travelling with someone that played so I played a little more.

I wandered around for a little while, kind of in a daze, and sat down, again, at the 1/2/5/10 cent Top Dollar slot.  I plowed through $100 in minutes.  I think I only sat down because it was familiar.

I was couldn’t find anyone I knew so I decided to go to the Augustus Cafe for a little dinner.  I had another grilled cheese and chocolate chip shake.  Again, it was pretty good but didn’t really give me the boost I was looking for.  The one place I haven’t visited yet was next on the agenda.

I took a nice walk over to Planet Hollywood casino.  It was ROCKING!  This is one of my favorite casinos and I think a highly underrated casino.  I dropped a $20 into one of those giant Wheel Of Fortune machines that I’m a sucker for.

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After I played through my $20 I walked around and noticed that PH is another place that added go-go dancers to their pits.  This is now the 3rd place I’ve seen go-go dancing at the tables.  I don’t mind scantily clad women gyrating, but the casinos use the dancers to distract from games with lesser odds.  In this case it was 6:5 blackjack.  I went to the heart bar for a drink and decided to lose another $20 in a video poker machine.  I’m not even sure which game I was playing.  There were lots of hot girls and I didn’t really pay attention to the game.

I have a short attention span and the rest of the trip must have caught up to me.  I headed back to Caesars Palace after that one drink.  In the couple of hours I was at Planet Hollywood Caesars did a complete 180.  CP was now rocking!  I was pooped and not in the mood to gamble any more (GASP!).  As I headed back to the room I won another $75 in the $1 Wheel Of Fortune slot machine.  After I win I head back to the room and crash….hard…for one last night in Vegas.  A sad way to go out as Monday is my last day in Las Vegas…