Posted by odiousgambit
Jul 23, 2019

Charles Town

TLDR: recently my recreational gambling has been at Hollywood Casino in Charles Town WV. There is a Sportsbook there now, a much appreciated development. The Craps table is another attraction for me; but the Darkside was unkind yet again on my latest trip. Again I'm struck by how impossible it would be to figure out the best way to play without doing the math. 

This year, including recently, I have had reason a couple of times to be in the Charles Town WV area and of course had to hit the casino there. I've just settled with the opinion Craps is the only thing worth playing in the table games, though I don't have any fresh details about the BJ situation. I simply ignore everything else except the sports book, the arrival of which I do indeed consider a very nice development. Seems to me that a dreary mood has settled in ever since this casino lost its geographical advantage to other casinos now closer to DC and suburbs. When it had its advantage, it was notorious for high table minimums, surly service, and the like. After MGM National Harbor opened for business not so long ago, they did respond with things like lower minimums, more games, and increased free odds in Craps; I detected a change in attitude too, as there clearly was a push towards more friendliness. On this last visit, though purely guessing, I'd have to say that's out the window, and upper management instead is flailing about blaming the employees for the decline in profits, and that is having the usual effect on mood. I also get the impression there and at the Greenbrier that WV in particular takes quite a chunk of the proceeds, challenging the ability of these places to make a profit. 


Some things I hadn't noticed before. The Craps table, only one going during the week [can't speak for the weekend], does go 24/7. When I cashed in some chips, the cashier had a device not too different looking than an ink pen that scanned the $100 chips! That I hadn't seen before. Love having the sportsbook there, connected to William Hill. By god if you need a break there are lots of nice chairs to sit at and watch some sports! The minimum bet is $2, so I feel free to just bet on anything I have a notion to, I find it quite fun. And the missus, not a gambler otherwise, will place bets too - that goes over well. So far you can't place bets with a smartphone - that will change. When it does, I could see them getting rid of it, so I'm enjoying it while I can. 

I hit the buffet for dinner instead of lunch for once. Not bad, but not much. Too bad they don't have Indian food, would love that. Just sort of the usual. I did notice the price went up at 4:00, and it seemed to me that you could go in just before 4:00 and get the dinner selections for the lower price. I don't know of course if the selections get better as time goes on?

Crappy Variance:

This time I decided to play the Darkside in Craps and really got clobbered. I really am trying to hone my techniques for taking some of the abandoned action on the 6 and 8 to resolve darkside that occurs with other players. It really is hard to pull off, darkside players being hard to draw out the way they are, not all take 'no action' on 6 and 8, and are enough of a minority of players they are sometimes absent altogether or not near me. I've never been able to take some of that action at Charles Town in fact - I seldom do anywhere in spite of my efforts. So I decided one thing I needed to do is to play the Don't myself to help break the ice, though you would think I would have figured this out long before. 

I always superstitiously stick to the same side, so if I start on the Darkside I don't deviate during that session. I also typically only play the DC, this limits my action compared to what I do playing the Rightside. Sure sounded like a good idea. 

When I approached the table there was a sign that said they were raising the table minimum shortly, but I didn't see where they posted what that min was. I couldn't find a spot and hate squeezing in; but I figured spots would open up once the min was raised. Spots opened up as I figured, though at that place I still couldn't see where the minimum was posted. I looked at what someone was betting on the line, $15, and concluded that what I had suspected was correct, that the min had been $10 and was now $15 [it's never $5 that I have seen]. I played for about an hour and kept my free odds bet to around $40, adjusting it depending on what the number was to resolve. All of a sudden I noticed someone was betting $10! I was making a bigger bet than I needed to at all, as I am a believer in increasing the odds size if I want to bet more, and never increase it on the line if there is room with the odds. I have no idea what that sign I saw about increasing the minimum was about, makes no sense. I just feel that there was no way the min was $5 to being with, as when I've been there at times of day when you seemingly only get a few stragglers playing and the min is never less than $10. But somehow circumstances led me astray* on the matter; I went back to the lower min; naturally this is when I started to get killed. 

Just for the record I did strike up a pretty good accord with another Darksider, and let him know how lucky I usually am with the 6 and 8. Unfortunately, for whatever reason he was not one to give up his action on the 6 and 8 and only nodded at my remark. 

The experience reminded me once again how utterly unable a person would be able to decide which way works best to play Craps just going by his own observations, not knowing the math had been worked out. Even an intelligent person can easily be deluded into thinking he can quickly get some intuition on the matter. I'm fairly sure what I would have concluded from this session. Some of my worst losses previously have occurred playing the Darkside, and that along with the latest would probably have me conclude it is the absolute wrong way to go, intuitively you feel the amount of playing time has been sufficient to make a judgement. And I can say absolutely and positively I could play for eons and not conclude that the only thing that prevents playing the Don't from being a fantastic moneymaker is the fact that the 12 on the comeout pushes. I've never gotten the sense that it matters at all. If I was ignorant that this is actually a fact, I think I would pounce on somebody claiming such a thing with a "No Way!". During this session the 12 pushed for me exactly once; I'm very attuned to the irony of the seeming irrelevance of that and always keep track. In fact during this session I fared pretty well against the 7 and 11 on the comeout too, not getting skewered much with them, though I didn't track those for sure. My impression was definitely that I was getting past the comeout better than usual, quickly setting up three bets to the point where the odds were in my favor, then only to see them get picked off.   The Rightsiders must have done OK, each shooter was killing me, then on the other hand hardly none of them were come bettors, and no doubt lost plenty of money on the sucker bets. I don't remember anyone coloring up with a nice big stash. 

Notice above how easy it is to write something like "naturally this is when I started to get killed. " If I learned Craps the way most people do, from other players and the dealers, and thought I could also learn the best way to play from observation, I'm not sure, seriously, how much superstition would affect me. I certainly have to fight it off, this time having to dismiss the idea that the dice noticed I went from $15 to $10, that I was showing fear in other words. They certainly did go after me at that point, one of the dealers remarking "that's just uncanny" as he scooped away my DC bets one after the other, knowing the odds had been in my favor. So do I really believe that? I do have to keep asking myself that.

*I realized I can't keep saying "hornswoggled"


ChumpChange Jul 23, 2019

Some casinos will grandfather you in at the lower table minimum if it goes up while you're at the rail. So people walking up to the table can't really judge what the table minimum is by what people are betting. The posted signs are what the table minimum is. People can still bet at the lower amount until they leave the table, bathroom breaks excepted. After an hour or so most grandfathered players have left the table.

odiousgambit Jul 25, 2019

Casinos I'm familiar with don't grandfather, those that do are showing they care, not something Hollywood/Charles Town is known for.

You can't see that sign for the minimum where I was. Of course I could have [should have] just asked. It's still a mystery though as I am confident the table was never at $5 minimum. The sign announcing the raise in the min was removed, but has anyone ever heard of the house wanting to raise it at a busy table and then changing their mind?!

Mission146 Jul 26, 2019

Great write-up! I don't have much to add, shame you couldn't pick up too many of those sixes and eights that other Don't players have seemed not to want in the past. It'd certainly be nice to find a table with someone betting substantially over the minimum that would let you take their 6/8 action!

odiousgambit Jul 26, 2019

thanks, Mission, good to see you back too

I'm repeating myself I guess, but the main problem is getting these darkside players to warm up to you.

Will I continue to go darkside every session from now on, to make myself seem more like 'not the enemy'? Still not sure. Snakebit too on that superstitious level. It is true that knowing it's possible one of these days I might get some of that action that I feel at least a little smarter about my gambling, low roller as it is anyway.

FleaStiff Jul 27, 2019

ASK what the minimum is if you can't find the sign. Sometimes its these newfangled signs that look like clear plastic unless viewed from a certain angle.

Nothing is worse than being whipsawed, but I would never want to feel obligated to the dark side.

no action for me on someone else's no action decision.

state's view casinos as tax revenue and later realize that so neighboring states.

gordonm888 Jul 27, 2019

I played Charles Town frequently about 7 years ago. Pai Gow Poker tables were often all at $50 minimum (or higher!) The poker room raked 10% (5% for the bad beat bonus) which is so high that it changes playing strategy. Still, I had fun.

odiousgambit Jul 27, 2019

>$50 minimum (or higher!)

you can see how they had it made! where do you play these days?

Posted by odiousgambit
Dec 31, 2018

John Daly

The guy is not buying the idea that he must now do complete abstinence, which makes me think he didn't go the Gambler's Anonymous route. Expressing some regret, not much, and a claim he quit the high roller bit. We'll see.

He is definitely the guy who nearly broke the bank at the Greenbrier a few years ago [but a loser overall I don't doubt in the slightest]


standbymyman Dec 31, 2018

I don't think he has anything to high roll with.

odiousgambit Jan 01, 2019

I agree, he is not a guy with control over such a thing any other way. Beloved golfer though.

Posted by odiousgambit
Nov 29, 2018

One Field Sobriety Test

ONM's blogpost got me thinking about the one field sobriety test I took in my "career" ... my career of driving under the influence, now over. There's 'somebody up there' who was looking out for me, and he's probably in trouble, as there has to be up there as well those who would say I richly deserved the opposite treatment.

There is one, one!, solitary time I got pulled over. I had made a two lane change to get to an exit I almost missed, and it was a bad place to pull that stunt. I was leaving a racetrack* that was new to me, and it turns out the state police had a station near the track. That's a bad situation, and yes I was later quite mad at my friends who forgot to tell me that; of course the gendarmes naturally decide that they want to nail each and every drunk driver who exits the track.

And I had put away plenty. Martinis. Yet I knew I was OK, and passed the test, including the breathalyzer. The cop was slowly realizing it all along I guess, and when I blew into the tube he said "you've had maybe a couple of drinks" or somesuch, and let me go. Today I feel I can say that the thing that saved me has to be, has to be!, that the bar there was serving watered-down booze. I certainly had more than two in a short enough period of time too; I should have blown something close to the limit on the basis of how many I had.** Somebody looked out for me.

PS: people say 'zero point 8' but it is actually 0.08 and actually I suspect a % sign belongs there too. Looking it up now, of course, and having trouble confirming the % thing. But 0.08 without the % sign means 8 percent, and I think that would kill you.***

*going to racetracks for me back in the day resulted in a bad experience nearly every time. It finally turned me against gambling generally for the longest time. Somebody up there was giving me a message.

**edited - ... depends on time and your weight, one drink being equal to another, and a lot of things, but 4 every hour is more accurate apparently [don't quote me]. My edit is to say I think now that 4 per hour, the first hour, will get you to 0.08 'depending' on this and that, but after that only 1 drink per hour will maintain you at 0.08 That's putting it away. I hear some states are tightening up the 0.08 thing too

*** Edit: yes the % sign belongs there. And 8% is what a strong beer is, so of course it would kill you, as would 1%.


onenickelmiracle Dec 05, 2018

Everyone thinks they were so bad driving after having a few, but I'm beginning to think we're pretty much lied to about what really drunk driving is, and we've probably never done it or just once or twice. Of course then, there is the statistics, but beyond just drunk driving, I don't think they ever subtract bad driving. In other words, the people are drunk, but the drunken part never really played a significant factor, but took all the blame. Some day I'll waste money on a portable breathalyzer device, so I'll presumably never worry again. Accuracy matters though, I'd hate to just assume .07 is good, when the police instrument might read .08 or .09.

odiousgambit Dec 07, 2018

I think if you think you might blow 0.07 it's time to take the advice of those who say "don't take the field sobriety test, or blow into the tube"

I'd say though if you've had, say, 4-5 drinks but over a period of hours [not just one hour], and you were eating too, a guy can assume he'll do OK and take the test and blow into the tube too, but that depends on your weight as well, and being aware some drinks that count as two for one, like the way martinis generally are made

Posted by odiousgambit
Nov 05, 2018

Lying, Mendacity, and Justifiable Deception

It always stuns me a bit to come across a gambler who would condemn all deception but the the types where virtually everyone gives license, such as telling a Hatfield on a killing spree you are in his family when you are in fact a McCoy. It just seems a gambler automatically is thrust into a world of at least some degree of deceit as gamesmanship - to offer or accept a bet means to expect to win the bet, those not fitting that description belonging to some other category than "gambler", even if the expectation is based purely on wishing for luck. And to be sure, if some element favoring his side of the bet can be hidden, all the better almost universally. After all, someone winning a poker hand because he was bluffing is held in admiration by other poker players, perhaps excepting the victim. 

So if there are types of deception, one can not look at it as a black or white thing. 

Here I'll skip any further examination of Justifiable Deception other than to say there's no guarantee there's agreement in all cases.

Mendacity is a difficult gray area. Although when you look the word up, you usually find a pretty simple definition, perhaps just "lying", I have found it usually is used for cases where people use deception in the conduct of their business. And it seems it is always used to condemn, yet there also usually an underlying implied admission that such is normal or partly accepted, thus the choice of this word rather than "lying". For example, accepted sales practices have the seller pretty much only mentioning the positives and none of the negatives. If a realtor selling a house were to include statements such as "the roof hasn't been replaced in 25 years" "all the appliances convey but are truly ancient" "we all know this type of siding is the worst kind" he might not have excluded a thing else bad there is to say, but is guaranteeing a terrible reaction from the buyer. One of the reasons for that is in fact that the buyer expects the opposite; if anything at all negative comes to light from the seller, he assumes he is only viewing the tip of the iceberg and that the truth is much worse!

I have always said the insurance business is so steeped in Mendacity, for centuries now, that there is no hope that this can ever change. Yet all their practices are completely accepted by society, with little push today for changes. Most of the financial world has the same problem as well, even your local banks. 

So when a gambler says he deplores lying and will have none of it, I say I have to admire the person; if he deplores all the gray area and condemns all of it, whether he is involved or not, I have to wonder. Just saying.


billryan Nov 06, 2018

A man who lies over drinks has many friends.

A man who lies about drinking does not.

As a Ranger, you learn this simple creed. You can lie all you want ABOUT the Rangers to others but never lie to a Ranger or an Officer.

As Judge Judy says, telling the truth means its okay to have a bad memory.

FleaStiff Nov 07, 2018

A mendicant's views on mendacity.

YouTube womens channel features professional poker player having bad luck at cards and with babysitter. Finally its five in the morning at high stakes game in Beverly Hills and her kid gets dropped off for poker daycare by fed up babysitter. Amid usual disputes host says get out of my game, that's a forfeit but players prevail upon him to let her finish the hand. As is the little kid's habit he wants to peek at her hand prior to being set up in the corner with coloring book and orange juice. She whispers to him briefly. Then after going all in on her final bet he host thinks she is bluffing rather than slow playing and she asks permission to go take a pee during which time the host asks the little kid to draw thecards he saw in her hand with the other players generally criticizing him. Kid draws two aces and host surrenders his two kings to what is actually he

r single ace. She anticipated the cheating and prompted the kids response. So who was more honorable.

AI poker programs learn to bluff....but not consistently.

Tuscany had website saying 'the odds are in your favor'...I threatened to go to the gaming board. Website was down in two days. lying??

Posted by odiousgambit
Oct 13, 2018

More Home Poker Thoughts

We get a friendly game going about once a month, very low stakes. 

In this kind of game I usually drink, many times not caring too much if I'm not playing all that well as long as I'm having a good time. In the September game I was well buzzed though, and wound up losing my buy-in plus a bit more, which really shouldn't happen considering the caliber I'm up against. So I had to wonder how much it had to do with the boozing. Clearly not drinking at all is the best way to go generally, however, the dynamics of poker can be weird and in a strange way the drinking can help in some of the factors too, specifically, others' ability to 'read' you. Daniel Negreanu blogged about this once, though that would be hard to find now. 

In any case I decided for the October game that I would hardly drink at all and see what happens. I was really focused on staying alert and applying all I knew to do. When I did finally have a beer it was one of those really strong ones that are almost as strong as wine, and I could tell just this one 12 oz beer was having an effect on how well I was playing. I was in this strange zone where I knew I had to focus and could tell exactly the degree to which I was distracted. Overall I still had it together and wound up not quite doubling my buy-in; maybe even I hit it just right, with people finding me hard to read. 

Some say not drinking to excess the night before is even more important, but in any case I think I can say for me the closer I stick to one beer the better.


TigerWu Oct 13, 2018

This is why I like to drink when I gamble... I have enough willpower to know that stupid decisions are made when drunk, so when I get tipsy enough it's a sign to walk away from the table and take a break. If I never drank I would just sit at the table until all my money was gone.* The alcohol gives me built in rest periods.

*By "all my money" I just mean my bankroll for the trip, not my life savings.

OnceDear Oct 13, 2018

With friends and low stakes, I'd say the booze is a must. For real stupidity, you want to try gambling online deep into the night while glugging stupid amounts of JD. It makes for some interesting OMG moments when you wake up an realise what you did the night before. ( Fear not, I'm still in budget and have accounts locked up tight as a drum with deposit limits )

odiousgambit Oct 14, 2018

yes, which night of the two was most fun? I swear a poker night is one hell of an argument for what's good about drinking ... one that goes counter to the idea that you don't have to drink to have fun. And I have fun playing poker sober too, depending on what my luck is like undeniably. I've counted and a player can expect to see maybe 40 hands in our particular game - there is socializing, eating, and a long cigar break too - and definitely it's not an all night thing. With that many hands it's possible to have crap for starting hands each time. Sober, I just fold instantly, but drinking ...

I think most of these nights you'll see me plan to only have one or two drinks with a frequent lapse into something past that

gordonm888 Oct 14, 2018

In poker, I am a strong believer in the importance of Awareness and Adapting. If you drink and get a buzz in a social game (where lots of other people are drinking) then I think that it is not a big problem as long as your are aware of your loss of persistent focus and adapt to it as well as adapting to the impaired playing of everyone around you.

In regards to doing poorly in your September game, remember that even the best players in the world do poorly in a significant fraction of their tournaments. Lady Luck is a bitch.

FleaStiff Oct 14, 2018

I assume its normal variance.

Is this just one table and all guys or is this a monthly home poker night with multiple tables? Too much booze will slowly make the females stop showing up.

If you want to slow your booze intake but not be obvious, try a different type of nachos/chilli/etc.

odiousgambit Oct 15, 2018

Thanks for all the comments

fleastiff, it's one table, up to 8 guys [and at least 5], women welcome but none have given the idea the slightest consideration, I don't believe.

FleaStiff Oct 30, 2018

Nope. Unless you've scrubbed the table, the kitchen, the bathroom, the ash trays, etc. women are not welcome and that is fine. Guys poker night. The sandwiches are either 'green' or 'brown'. That's okay.

But withloout fresh fish, how do you sustain the game. Don't you learn each others tells etc.

FleaStiff Nov 04, 2018

Anyway, we all think the incident you described was normal variance but if indeed something has been happening with your metabolism and alcohol, it is certainly best you find out about it at home in a fairly friendly game rather than in a casino or a casino's poker room.

Zinc and Bvitamin status is important, so of course is water intake. It can affect your response to that 'one beer'.