Posted by teddys
Feb 18, 2011

Video Poker Torture

I went to the casino to play video poker. Their best game is a 9/6 Jacks or Better Super Times Pay Spin Poker game with a payback of 99.82% with perfect play. For those who don't know, by betting an extra credit per line, you sometimes get a multiplier from 2x to 10x, which multiplies the pays of every line. The cards are displayed in a three-by-five grid. You can play up to nine lines ($13.50/spin).

I usually play three lines at $4.50/spin. I estimate I have dropped a couple thousand into this game. Just the other day, I said I'd had enough -- I'm only playing one line ($1.50/spin) because I'm sick of throwing money away.

Today, I had a draw to a royal with the 8x multiplier activated. Of course, the royal appeared on the BOTTOM line (the one I wasn't playing). I missed out on an $8K jackpot because I wasn't playing the way I play usually.

I hope I can find the humor in this. Otherwise I may kill myself. :)


Wavy70 Feb 20, 2011

I always say try killing a few others to see if you like it first.

But Kipling wrote it and Grandpa Simpson best stated it.

"If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,

And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"

JerryLogan Feb 20, 2011

According to the theorists you would have come out exactly at 99.82% whether you played 400 million hands of just a couple. It's a shame what happened, but did you at least make the game EV you were probabilitied to?

Ibeatyouraces Mar 01, 2011

I myself witnessed this happen in person and I can verify thet Teddy usually plays 3 lines. I fell off the chair laughing (not at Teddy of course) but at this debacle of bad variance! In a related matter, a friend of mine plays this game with max bet and had he been here and made the same play at the exact same nanosecond, he would have hit for 3 royals and a $24,000 JP.

One thing Teddy didnt mention was the original hand dealt was a pat ace high straight to boot! Yes we know he made the right decision to go for the royal, but to see the king of spades hit that bottom line on the fourth reel was just horrid for him. Kudos for this place though with the decent cash back which brings the game to an overall payback of 100.1%

Posted by teddys
Jan 19, 2011

Comp abuse 101

Horseshoe Hammond, in their Asian gaming area (called Le Cheng) has a "comp kiosk" for their excellent noodle bar, Foo. This is the first time I've seen such a device, and I heartily approve of it. It takes away the hassle and awkwardness of having to ask for a comp. Anyway, it requires 45 minutes of rated play on the "Asian" games (mostly baccarat, in four varieties:
-Macau "squeeze" ($25 min.)
-regular mini ($10),
-EZ no commission ($10)
-big table (rarely open, $25)
pai gow tiles ($25, no banking) is also available). I played for about one hour at $10 minimum mini-bacc, betting every second or third hand or so. My handle was probably 50X$10 (action was slow), so my expected loss was $5.30 (I mostly bet Banker). I got my noodle bar comp for two items from the noodle bar, which go for $11-12 retail. I got some pork shu mai dumplings and wonton noodle soup. Yummy. A good play if you're ever in the Chicago area.

I also did some gambling at Majestic Star in Gary and had no trouble getting meal comps after my play, which consisted of $25/hand blackjack for one hour, and $5+$10 odds craps (2 points) for about three hours (two separate sessions). Great Italian Beef (Chicago-style sandwich) in the deli. Buffet is decent; lots of moist items which keep well.


FinsRule Jan 19, 2011

They must have recently changed it.

The first time I was there I asked about comps after playing one hand of Pai Gow Poker, and they said "You're in the high limit area, of course you get a comp, and I got two meals after one hand of $25 Pai Gow.

I'm a vegetarian, so I had a small plate of grilled vegetables and bread.

JIMMYFOCKER Jan 24, 2011

Appreciate the insight

Posted by teddys
Jan 16, 2011

Going on tilt in Chicago

Stopped by Horseshoe Hammond on my way to Chicago, played BJ at $25/hand for exactly one hour, playing BS with small strategy adjustments based on a admittedly weak count. Got in for $500 and ended up losing 16 units. Tried to get my money back on the $1 99.95% DW machine that I know I can't afford. Went through another $515 in about 20 minutes. Oy. I was wandering around like those glazed-over VP players that Jerry was talking about. Geez, some lessons are tough to learn.


FleaStiff Jan 16, 2011


I hope you got a free drink though.

TIMSPEED Jan 18, 2011

That's not bad..bad is going on tilt after losing $2000 at a crap table, and buying in for $3000 MORE, angrily, only to lose it TOO!

dm Jan 19, 2011

No one can learn to know in advance how their luck is going to run. You played low ha games. Don't beat yourself up because you

didn't guess that it would be a bad day.

Posted by teddys
Jan 08, 2011

Southern Indiana thoughts / review.

I used some time off to visit Southern Indiana and burn off some comps/freeplay. I stayed at comp rooms at Grand Victoria, Hollywood Lawrenceburg, and Horseshoe Southern Indiana. Some thoughts:

++ Hollywood Lawrenceburg is an absolutely horrible store for the gambler. High limits, no comps, and no good low-roller video poker. I couldn't even stand going in there, even to use my freeplay. They really take advantage of their closest-to-Cincinnati position to ream you. Nicest hotel of the bunch, though, in my opinion.

++ Horseshoe had a multiplier day, and I got a 25x multiplier by random chance. I played 15,000 hands of $.50 Jacks or Better Video Poker, and earned 3950 points so $987.50 comp dollars total (half that amount in cash). The booth was kind of coy as to what cash I had; first they said I had $1,669.00 comp dollars. But then I checked my balance later and it was closer to the first number. You can only cash out $100 per day in cashback. I cashed twice. They upgraded me to Diamond-in-a-day, which allowed me to use the Diamond lounge. There wasn't anything special in there; some mediocre small bites, and a cash bar.

++ Stopped by Belterra again. Facilities are brilliant, but the casino itself is quite blah. Not sure if I'll be returning, since they didn't offer me anything.

++ Grand Victoria does a lot of things well, but it is boring. The hotel rooms are Microtel Inn quality. The casino has decent games but is small and is run pretty loosely. Not sure if I like the "homey" theme.

++ Rising Sun and Lawrenceburg have really nice public libraries.

++ Gambling went pretty badly. Couldn't hit a dang thing on Jacks or Better, just a steady downward slope. Played $.25 NSUD at Belterra and dropped $400 even after hitting the ducks. Craps: played four sessions at $5, taking 2x odds on the line and 2x on one come bet. Results: +250, -150, +30, -270. Urgh. Blackjack: Played two shoes in Horseshoe's high limit room at $25/hand. S17, LS (unadvertised), 6 decks, no RSA. Won $287.50. Spanish 21: Grand Vic and Horseshoe have the good rules, GV at $5 and Horseshoe at $10/$15. Probably lost about $100 total on both games. Also played "EZ Baccarat" at Horseshoe for about 20 minutes at $20 and won $40.

++ The buffet at Grand Victoria is better than Paula Deen's at HSI, and it is cheaper. I'm talking about breakfast. (First time I've had Guetta. Love it!)


FleaStiff Jan 09, 2011

It seems that 25x multiplier was a real good thing for you. Being familiar with their comp system and taking advantage of a 25x day is good. Diamond Lounge appears to have been in name only but that is what can be done when a casino is the only game in town.

The place that reams the gambler but is a nice hotel surely has their priorities wrong. Eventually the gamblers will realize what is happening. Lady Variance didn't seem to be smiling upon you this trip, though even at craps you seemed to do fairly well and remained a disciplined player. So congratulations. It wasn't a trip that ended in the plus column but it sure wasn't a blood bath either.

OneAngryDwarf Jan 09, 2011

Hi Ted,

Thanks for the trip update. Just curious: does Belterra have Ultimate Texas Hold'em with the good Trips paytable?

teddys Jan 09, 2011


Belterra and Hollywood have UTH, both at $5. The table at Hollywood is usually completely filled. I don't remember the trips paytables (I don't play it), but I think they are the bad ones. I'm only 50% sure on that though.

Posted by teddys
Dec 27, 2010

Trip report 12/21-25.

I took a trip to Las Vegas 12/21-25. The subforum this thread is posted in should give you an idea of how it went :) It was also the first time my parents had been to Las Vegas (mom-never; dad- since 1962), so I spent a bit of time showing them around. We also did some outdoorsy stuff, and some locals stuff to get away from the whole Strip vibe. It turned out to be a wise decision.

I arrived in Las Vegas late on 12/21. I had booked the trip on Expedia.ca with a $300 coupon and purchased a $280 package that included the flight and rooms at the Orleans. I had to book a shuttle service just to make the package deal work. I ended up paying $7.50 total for the trip. I threw away the Orleans rooms, and used free offers for the Gold Coast and Tuscany that included freeplay and some food. My parents booked packages through an airline for $480 each that included accommodations at the Rio. I booked a car on priceline.com for $108. My flight in was uneventful.

My first stop was the Gold Coast, where I checked in, scratched the gambling itch, and got to sleep rather late. My parents arrived the next morning, so I grabbed a large coffee and muffin from Kate's Korner (the Seattle's Best at the GC was closed for remodeling), and headed out to the airport. I made a pit stop at the South Point to attack some of their 50-play nickel NSUD machines which had treated me so badly last trip. It was also a double points day at South Point, so I was playing with a .33% advantage. I put in $200, and had literally one of the best sessions of my life. I just could not lose. I was cashing out tickets left and right, taking breaks to get coffee and use the bathroom, and just coming back and winning more. At one point I got dealt 3 deuces on the bottom line, and connected on the quads six times out of fifty. A rare occurrence to be sure. My third hand was a dealt wild royal, which set the tone for the rest of play. By the time I had to leave to get to the flight, I had built my initial stake up to $1200, and also redeemed $78 worth of cashback. Good start to the trip.

I picked up my parents and drove them to the Rio, where they checked in and kind of dithered about what they were going to do. They wanted to see a show, but for the life on them couldn't decide between Carrot Top, various Cirques du Soleil, Popovich Pet Theatre, etc. It didn't help that every time my mom saw an advertisement for a show, she said, "Oh, that looks good!" Eventually, about 30 hours later, we settled on Love at the Mirage, which turned out to be fantastic. We paid full price for the tickets, and they certainly weren't cheap, but I would say it is worth it.

For dinner, we walked across the street to the Palms, where we ate at Gardunos (see review in Palms section), and I played a little video poker to earn a $25 gift card to Home Depot. My dad was enthralled by the Playboy Club, which I guess he remembered from his "youth," but I didn't probe any further. We didn't visit the Playboy Club, but maybe if mom hadn't been around... :)

The next day we planned to visit the Hoover Dam. We drove out to Boulder City and found the bridge plaza, which was empty because we got there very early. The bridge walk is just amazing, and is going to become a must-see attraction, I think, in the future of Vegas. The informative plaques, and walking paths are really nice. The views are incredible. The only problem is the lack of parking; the plaza filled up pretty quickly. They are going to have to address this issue.

Later, we drove back through Boulder City having witnessed two accidents that tied up traffic in the other direction for miles. I had read about a park in Boulder City where the Bighorn Sheep hang out, so we drove over there to check it out. We didn't see any sheep, but the weather was very nice, so we walked around the neighborhood and counted foreclosed houses. A guy came up and questioned us on our suspicious behavior. I think we convinced him that we were not casing out houses for burglary later. He said the sheep had migrated to the other side of the mountain because of the rain, but that they were usually out and about all over the place.

We fortified with Korean/Hawaiian barbecue in Boulder City (Sunny's on U.S. 93; highly recommended), and I stopped into Joker's Wild to try to get my parents to gamble a little. I wasn't successful, although I got them to play blackjack for a bit. Craps was a failure. I got my mom to roll once, and she actually got on a little bit of a roll, and made me most of my money back. She didn't seem thrilled by it, though.

We then drove to Harrah's to see Mac King Comedy Magic. This is a great show. I would say it is the best value show in Las Vegas at $20 a pop. I think people may be prejudiced because he performs in the afternoon, but the show is absolutely worth it. His tricks were some of the best I've ever seen, and he is funny, too. He does a great bit with live goldfish that is famous. He also does a couple good card tricks, and has a finale at the end of the show that is simple, but so effective, and he absolutely nailed it. There are two big illusion-type tricks, too, so it is not all dime-store magic. This show is probably a better dollar-for-dollar entertainment value than Cirque.

After Harrah's we went to an off-strip house for a Christmas party that a friend of mine's family was throwing. It was great to see the locals' side of Las Vegas, and take a break from the tourist rush for a while. It is easy to forget that there is a real city with real people out there sometimes, and that they could care less about the latest carpeting at the Bellagio. It was also great to see a good friend, and we left well-fed with lots of Christmas goodies.

The next day, we had decided, based on this site's reviews, to do a hike in Red Rock. We drove to the visitor center and asked the senior citizens at the booth what hike was best. The guys at the info booth were hilarious; they were from New York and had an amazing sense of comic timing. We said they should be doing a show on the strip. We settled on the Calico Tanks hike, which is just off the trail to Turtlehead. We were some of the only people on the trail at first, and we kind of got lost after the trail markers disappeared. Thankfully, a local solo hiker caught up with us, and blazed a trail for us the rest of the way. The view at the top of the canyon was just breathtaking. You could see all the way to the Strip and across the valley. There was also a large natural depression that had filled with water, although we didn't see any wildlife drinking from it. On the way back, we found a much easier marked trail with natural stairs and groomed paths. Our guide had led us on a much more strenuous hike on the way up. All in all, I would say that it was one of the best hikes I have ever been on. The canyon formations and the colors of the rocks were just so unreal. It was like being on another planet. What a great natural resource to have so close to Las Vegas.

After the hike, were famished, so we went looking for food, first at the Red Rock buffet, where the lines were enormous. My dad almost flipped out from lack of food, so we had to stop at the next available restaurant, which was a small French bakery on Charleston near Buffalo. We got a couple quiches and soups and satiated ourselves so we could function normally. We then drove to the Tuscany, where we went swimming and I did a little video poker-ing. The nights entertainment was Cirque's "Love" at the Mirage, but first we ate dinner at Beijing Noodle Number 9 at Caesar's Palace. The food was just mediocre, but the decor of the restaurant was fantastic. There were hundreds of goldfish in tanks lining the entrance to the restaurant, and the orange-and-white design theme was really well executed and integrated into every element of the restaurant, including the hostesses dress and shoes :) It was definitely a case of the atmosphere overshadowing the food.

The Love show at Mirage was just overwhelming in its awesomeness. It was a sensory phantasmagoria of images and stimuli, and just didn't let up for 100 minutes. It is hard to be disappointed by this show, especially if you like the music of the Beatles. I was kind of disconcerted by some of the remixes that they did of the songs, because I am so used to the album masters, but it is very creative how they put the songs and acts together. As far as the performers, I preferred the pure dance more than the acrobatic elements, but both were done extraordinarily well. You really can't go wrong with a Cirque show. Just make sure your wallet can take the hit :)

After the show, my parents headed back to their hotel, while I met up with my friend Mike, a Las Vegas local, for some hardcore craps action. We have a semi-tradition to play craps in a different casino each trip, and this time the choice was downtown. First stop was the Golden Gate, where I bought in for $300 at the blackjack table in the "Party Pit" and cashed out $550 after invoking a 2-for-1 blackjack payout coupon. I can't recommend the party pit at the Golden Gate highly enough. Not only were the dealers "club" hot, they were the most enthusiastic and competent blackjack dealers I have every played with. The blackjack also pays out at 3:2, and I think the Golden Gate is the only place downtown and on the strip that has that in their party pit. Suffice it to say the dealer was well taken care of :) I also noticed that the dealers keep their own tips, and they rotate between dealing and dancing on the two platform stages. They also hustle tips pretty heavily, but man, can they work it :)

Mike likes big action, so we bought in for $700 at the craps table at the Golden Gate and he started playing $5 with 10x max odds on every throw. I said he was playing short and his system was high variance and he replied, "Yeah, I want high variance -- on the upside." Play was almost exactly even, and we enjoyed the free beers and watching the girls across in the party pit try to dance to some really horrible music selections like "Holiday" and "Good Vibrations." Eventually, the table went cold and Mike cashed out down to $300. We took a break and went over to Binion's to get a chili dog. I also checked out the new craps game at the Western, which wasn't as exciting as a thought it would be -- only $1 minimum with 2x odds. The dealers were very good, however, which is rare for the Western.

We took one more shot at craps at Main Street Station, where I faded Mike a $500 bankroll, and I bought in for $1000, taking $25 (5x) odds on every throw initially. The Hawaiians at the table must have been precision dice shooters, because none of them could seven out! Pretty soon Mike was betting $10 with $200 behind on every number, with $1 + $20 shoes for the dealer on every bet, and I had $100 behind every number as well. The casino manager and the pit bosses came by and started to give serious heat, and to criticize the way the dealers were handling the tip bets. (The dealers already loved us because Mike was tipping obscene amounts and they were making up to $50-$100 on every hit. Hey, it was Christmas Eve :)) Eventually, the one Japanese gentleman who had the hot hand sevened out when we all had a crapload of money on the table (we were pressing like crazy), so the good times ended. I cashed out $900 ahead, and Mike cashed out $1100, but he must have won at least $1000 for the dealers. If there is a more generous dice player I certainly haven't met one. The casino manager had softened up a bit and asked us where we were staying for the night. I still think she was disappointed that she wasn't going to be able to share in the tip haul for that shift. If only she worked at the Wynn :)

I drove back a little wealthier for the wear, and crashed out at about 5 AM. The next day I slept in and recuperated with video poker at the Tuscany, before I met my parents for the Rio buffet, which of course blew them away. They were also impressed that my Platinum card allowed us to jump the huge line. They insisted on making little sandwiches and sneaking them out in our pockets. I also took some cookies for later. The Rio buffet was excellent, as always. Their dessert station is still one of best for quality across the board.

We flew back on Christmas Day, so the airport was mostly empty and the flight was a breeze. The plane was maybe 1/3rd full. Believe or not, this was my first winning trip to Las Vegas. My starting bankroll was $438 and my ending was $2738. It's about time I won. I think it's because I didn't overdose on gambling and varied my activities to different pursuits. I think this is the way I will approach trips in the future. I'd also like to think I turned my folks onto some of what Vegas has to offer. They changed from Vegas-haters to slightly tolerant over the course of the trip. Maybe they will even come back :)


Ayecarumba Jan 03, 2011

Great report teddys! I'm surprised that there were so many crowds. I have heard from others who were there that week that it was very empty.