World's Worst Blackjack Player Part IIWhy bother? Another 40 unit loss in about six hours of play. Call it 400 hands. That's less than 5% probability -- tail end of the bell curve, and must be the third or fourth time it's happened. All the time it seems like. Jeezus, I better learn to count effectively or I'll be broke just by flat betting. It is too much to ask to break even once in a while?
Zion National Park: Report
Zion National Park: Report.
On the Wizard's recommendation, I drove out to Zion National Park with my friend to do some hiking. We left Las Vegas at about 7:00 A.M. and arrived in the park around 10:00 after some shopping in St. George. It was a hot day, and the park was not terribly crowded. We ignored the "parking lot full" signs and parked next to the visitor's center. It seemed you could drive your car as far as you wanted up into the park -- there were no barriers. We paid the $25 per car entrance fee and took the shuttle to the Angel's Landing trailhead. There were frequent announcements about the trail, about how six people have died, if you are afraid of heights or have health problems, do not attempt, etc. We literally laughed off the warnings. By the way, neither of us had hiking boots, water bottles or gear of any kind. We hiked in tennis shoes with 500ml Arrowhead bottled waters in a tote bag, and some food. I broke my sunglasses on the way up, and had no hat. It was HOT. Probably not the best idea to hike at 1 P.M. After 2 P.M., the sun falls behind the mountain, and the initial ascent gets much cooler.
The hike was fine, if not strenuous, for the first three-quarters. You wind up one canyon face, go through a small crevasse (very nice, with plants), and then through a series of switchbacks to another small plateau. This is where it starts getting scary. You look down and just see a sheer drop on both sides of you. The trail itself ends and you have to do a scramble up a bare rock face holding onto a chain. (See picture above--that's the easy part). I did the first 500 feet of the chain section, and then just freaked out. The path got so narrow there was nothing but chain, and then 1400 foot of canyon drop on either side. I couldn't do it, so I turned around and walked up to another smaller, safer peak. I saw the view of Angel's Landing and it looked incredible, but scary as hell. My friend chastised me and went on ahead, but he turned back after he freaked out at another, even more terrifying pass.
I felt pretty bad that kids were passing me, but everything in my body was just telling me not to do it. My friend slipped and only had one hand on the chain -- if not, he would have fell. Always use two hands on the chain! Somebody on the bus on the way back said to just look at your feet, which I probably should have done. If I had a tough motivator behind me I also maybe could have done it.
So, Angel's Landing beat me this time. Zion National Park is truly beautiful, but not outstanding in the way Grand Canyon or other National Parks are. To be honest, I preferred the Mount Charleston hike more. Somebody I will return to conquer Angel's Landing, but I may need some bets made against me :)
No shame. I saw that trail and every cell in my body said "really?" at the same time. Figured I will die the way God wants. Massive coronary at a craps table.
Great park. Probably the best LV day trip. See any condors?
I hate heights, so you have my sympathy there. Less sympathy with scoffing at the warnings.
I just read about a lady that fell 400 feet to her death thursday at Yosemite. No such thing as being too cautious.
I'm glad to hear you heeded my advice and visited Zion. Don't feel bad about chickening out on Angel's Landing. It is no place for anyone with height issues. However, I still highly recommend anyone who is in decent shape to at least try it. It is the classic Zion climb. My son (nine at the time) and I did it last summer.
Regarding falling, a cocktail waitress, and friend of Cocktail Doll fell to her death from Angel's Landing. It was suspected she was pushed.
Two royals in 35 minutesThe title says it all, methinks. Zowie!
I was playing at the Hard Rock at 8:00 A.M. (I like to play early morning sessions). The game was 8/5 Bonus Poker -- not a great paytable at 99.17% return but the best game in the casino at lower denominations. I wouldn't play usually except they were doing a "shot glass" promo where for every 250 points earned you could swipe your card and get a certain amount of freeplay. So I figured I would earn exactly the five allowed swipes, or 1250 points.
The first session went fine and I swiped for $10 in freeplay. Okay, great, thank you. Back to the machine. 'Twas playing merrily along, when suddenly got a *frickin royal on the redeal* WTF? That's the second time that's happened to me. Thanks very much. Cashed out, earned my second swipe ($25 FP), and moved to a new bank of machines back by the high limit area for the third points-earning round.
Playing along...okay, four-to-the-royal, seen that before...need the jack of hearts, fine...no pause, draw .... whaaaatt??!!! Another one exactly 35 minutes later! It was all I could do to finish earning the rest of my points without losing it.
By far , my most bizarre video poker experience ever. The slot attendant saw me walking around later that morning and asked, "Hit any more royals today?"
"Nope, just two!"
Anybody have a smaller lag time in between royal hits? Keep in mind this was _single-line_, $1.25-a-spin VP. This has been a very odd trip with at least three way-outside-the-bell-curve gambling sessions. (The first two were downswings so I won't write about those).
When I'm in Vegas I don't play a ton of VP usually (the last trip in May was an exception), but in February 2010, I hit a Royal at Casino Royale at midnight or 1am, then two days later, hit a Royal at Palms. I don't think I played any other VP during that streak.
Congrats, btw! That's really awesome!
That's awesome!! Hopefully the royals took the sting off of the two downswings for you...
Congratulations! I tend to go years between royals on single-line games, let alone minutes.
Congrats! The closest I've come to that was hitting 2 royals within a few hours of each other at Foxwoods a few years ago, for quarters like yours, but on 10-play instead of single-hand (and they were of course not dealt).
Well done. congrats
I hit a royal on 5c 3-play SuperTimesPay...then probably an hour later, I got a 3x multiplier and hit ANOTHER royal...
Aside from that I've hit a Royal, with quad aces back to back...
as Dave Chappelle says.. "I'm riiiich bitch!"
Outstanding stuff. My VP wins always seem to come in groups as well.
Best part, your 2 Royals required no skill on your part :)
(well, you did have to make the proper play)
Too many VPers say it is all skill.
My best was a natural Royal on Deuces Wild. (same as your second, just needed the JH)
Everyone was nice.
Next hand was dealt 3 2s.
Everyone was watching me play since they asked me to play off the Royal.
Sure enough, the 2H fell, first card.
Yes, I heart hearts.
It was cool, but there was absolutely no skill involved, except holding the proper cards.
So a Royal followed by 4 deuces is my best.
I do have a friend who says he did hit 2 Royals back to back - the second was on the draw, the only 2 he has ever hit in 40 years, but he had no witnesses or photos to back it up.
I still believe him. He does not play that much VP.
I hate you!!! LOL! In the two years I have been playing I have never hit one. I have hit one straight flush and gotten 4 to a royal a few times but not the nuts. Good for you thats awesome. BTW the promos and free plays is what makes unplayable games playable. At the Harrahs Philly the best I could do was a 9/5 JoB machine but I got $1360 in free play for the month ($40 a day for 30 days then an additional $40 a week) so it was more than worth it.
I was passing thru Reno Sept 11 2002 and stopped at the Alamo Truck Stop to get my Truck serviced. I had four hours to burn and blew thru $400 in two hours. My Co-Driver just hit quad A on a dollar machine and handed my 5 bucks, told me to hit the nickles...I was soooo pissed but took the five to a triple threat machine, hit max bet and went straight to bonus round. Next hand AsKs, hit draw and BOOM 10sJsQs. I took my eight hundred bucks. Gave attendant $50 and went back to my buddy with the Poloroid they took, tossed him a five and went to shop to get my Rig. He was tapped out after playing the $5vp and begged for an advance. I was fanning my cash all the way to Boomtown but decided to stop there as I cant pass up the ham and egg special they had. After breakfast hit the casino, and could not line up a pair. After I spent $400.00 I found my friend Billy and we decided to head to Sac to deliver our load of Budweiser. I stopped at high limit area, shoved in $100.00 and on the third draw 10dAdJdQd. I hit the button and Kd. $25k royal...
Closest I have come was the guy next to me hitting about 5 minutes before I did.
What was your total in free play for the 1250 points?
Both of my royals were in hearts! If only I had been playing at the Cal -- extra $500! (They give a 1000 coin bonus for a heart royal).
7craps--I have hit the royal/deuces double before. It was on a $0.50 machine at a small Indian casino in Arizona--high player advantage game. Love that $2500 positive swing!
hook3670 & QuadDecues--Yeah, I'm all about the freeplay. Earned $65 from $2,500 coin-in, for a 2.6% rebate, which is excellent. Unfortunately, I only cashed $45 of it :( I am having terrible luck with freeplay lately. I'm thinking of switching to lower denominations to play it off, even though paytables are often worse.
dagojoe64--Awesome hit!. I would never have the guts to play a $5 machine. Unless it was for the Riviera promo... :)
Oh, yeah, and 7craps--I agree with you that hitting a royal takes NO skill. I've never "hit" a royal: they always hit me. The skill is in losing less between those royals!
Teddy, that was the only time I ever played a $5 VP. I did play a $100 slot at the horse track in Des Moines only because there were three credits in the machine as I walked by. The only other "big" win I have had was on a Keno machine at Casino Del Sol here in Tucson when I hit 9/9 playing max with $1. Otherwise $.25 machines is it for me...
I'm still waiting for my big day. I've been playing for at least one year and hit one royal in the whole time. It was on a 0.25/credit multiplay machine and playing 1.25 a hand. Ironically, I was running out of money and started doing the minimum multihand bet when I hit the royal so I got 250 credits which is $67.50 instead of the sweet 4000 credits or $1000. But, like many others, I keep playing knowing one day it will be my day just like you had yours ;)
First Blackjack Tournament ImpressionsI played in a black jack tournament this weekend. Here are my impressions:
The casino I went to was doing "sit-n-go" tournaments. They would wait until five people wandered up to the table, and then they would start a tournament. The buy-in was $100 + a $5 dealer option which got you $2400 in tournament chips. Everybody always took the dealer option. They didn't seem to care how many times you played, and some people played every time. One guy who was playing in the high limit and would take a break and play the tournament.
The rules of the game were normal BJ rules except black jack paid 2:1. They dealt exactly twenty-one hands. Winner takes all (i.e., 100% equity to the player). I figured it was a fair 1:5 chance to win $400 (minus the tokes) assuming equal skill levels, so I planned to play as many times as they would let me. I ended up only playing in three. The first to act button rotated around the table and was determined by the first ace out of the shoe. (They reshuffled after the ace was dealt).
The first time I played I used the Wizard's method of betting the minimum each time. This worked well in the beginning as the high-roller and his wife were extremely agressive bettors and knocked themselves out early. However, a younger gentleman at third base was betting big and getting an incredible run of luck. It soon became clear I could not catch him no matter how much I bet. I was done by about the 16th hand. He won, and believe it or not, stuck around for the next tournament and won that too. (I didn't play that one). He left $800 richer.
I decided my strategy wasn't working and I switched my mindset to play the other players more than play the game. I entered another round with the high-roller and his wife, and two older guys. I decided to make medium bets of $100-$200 each round. As I had hoped, the high-roller and spouse busted out early again. But the other two guys were more prudent bettors and would not play crazy. They were betting big, and once again, first base was getting very lucky on double downs and BJs. I was done by about the 18th hand here, but at least I had progessed farther than before.
I figured my bankroll would allow one more shot. I hung around the tournament area, scouting the other players. I finally found a tournament pool to my liking. *WARNING* Misogyny ahead. There were two women in this tournament pool. Women are not known to be great wagerers in certain situations; this is just a gender difference. Empirically, they are not as successful in poker tournaments, etc.. Feel free to argue that point, but I liked my chances in this pool.
This time around I planned to vary my bets wildly and hope for a streak of luck. I would say for the first 15 hands I won exactly half of my hands. So I did not vary much from my starting bankroll. The two women did not bet very much at all, and also had not deviated far from their starting stack. I don't remember what the other two guys had; one busted out around hand 16.
On hand 17 I bet half my stack and got a 9 against a dealer 7. I doubled down and got a 10. Everybody else had stiffs. For some reason most people stood. Some hit and busted. Dealer turned over a 17, which was the best possible outcome for me, and a HUGE swing in my favor. I now had a commanding chip lead. The next hand (or maybe it was the one before), I got a blackjack on a medium-sized bet and that 2:1 payout also helped my stack.
We made it to hand 21 and I got to act last. I didn't even realize I had that position, and it turned out to be an enormous advantage. The women at first and second base both went all in. I had enough to cover First's doubled bet so I wasn't worried about her. Second base I did not have enough to cover. I bet enough so that if we both won, I would beat her by one chip. The other player was inconsequential.
The dealer dealt out the hands. Everybody had stiffs, and the dealer had an ace up. I made a comment that I'd never wanted to see a dealer blackjack so much in my life. The pit found that funny. Unfortunately, she did not have blackjack. First base busted. Second base hit to eighteen off a 12. I busted my 15. I figured I had to hit and give myself a chance because even though the dealer might have busted (and I would have won), she was most likely to make a hand and I didn't want to lose on the chance she made 17 or 18. I suppose the odds favored standing, now that I look at it, but it was very close, and anyway, I was looking good. Bottom line: Dealer turned over an 8 for a pat 19, I collected my $500 in chips, and left with a $185 net profit on the day's play. I enjoyed the tournament experience, and would like to play more in the future.
If you don't mind me asking, which casino was this event at? It sounds like a lot of fun. The casino that I go to only offers big tournaments with about 100 players and the winner from each table of 6 or 7 advancing. You have to make it through 2 tables to make it to the money, and even though all money is returned (minus a toke), it seems like a longshot. I'd rather play with just 5 people where I feel I actually have a chance to win.
Interesting times at the Pai Gow tableThe Wizard wrote about meeting Colonel Rob Patton at the Pai Gow Tiles table at the Paris. What he didn't mention is that I was there, and we played some more tiles after dinner at Mon Ami Gabi after Colonel Patton and his wife left for the Rio.
At this second session, the Wizard was losing a lot of his bets, losing his cocktail waitress trivia bets to me (Sorry, Wiz! :p), and I think he had also ran out of religion questions to ask me. So he politely excused himself and went up to his comped room at Paris. I was breaking even or winning, at the minimum of $25 a hand, so I wished him well, and stayed on to play. At this point I had had a few Irish Coffees, but was still feeling okay.
Not long after the Wizard left, two friends came to play at the table. One was a Chinese gentleman who spoke perfect English. The other guy was white, and was with his wife. The Chinese guy took a marker for $10,000, and sat next to me. The Caucasian friend ("Stu") sat on the other side, and took $1,000 in chips from "John's" (Chinese guy's) stack. It soon became clear that the friends were business partners in a factory in Guangzhou, and that John was willing to bet a lot -- a lot -- more than Stu. Stu would bet only one black chip, and his wife would bet a green every once in a while. John had no problem betting stacks of black, and even the occasional yellow ($1,000) chip.
After a few hours, Stu was losing, John was breaking even or winning a little, and I was doing really well. I had turned over two pair three times, an extremely rare hand. (To demonstrate how rare, the Wizard had insisted on taking a picture of it when I got it the first time). Stu and his wife excused themselves, and left. John remained, and a couple more Chinese people took the other spaces. I was now the only white guy at a table betting $25 every hand, while everyone else was betting at least $100.
This is when things started getting serious. John called for a cocktail waitress and a wine menu, which came immediately (he had been tipping the waitresses $100 every trip, and the dealers $100 every push). He ordered a medium-priced wine from California called Cakebread, but he was rebuffed by the beverage manager. She insisted on providing a bottle of 2008 Opus One. This is one of the most expensive wines you can buy -- most restaurants in Vegas sell it for $600-$800 a bottle. The server brought a bottle, a stand for the wine, and glasses for everyone at the table. He asked, "What do I owe you," and the pit boss said, "Nothing. Just let me know when you are ready for the next one. I already have it comped."
So I was now drinking ridiculously expensive, ridiculously good wine, as well as winning money. The table got on some really good streaks, and when it got bad, we co-banked against the house and somehow turned it around. John pushed his bets up to $5,000 a hand. We needled the pit boss to raise the maximum to $10,000 (for some reason Paris sets the limit on tiles at $5,000), but he said to talk to his vice president. Meanwhile, they kept bringing more bottles of Opus One, which I kept happily drinking when it was offered to me.
Finally, at around 7:00 A.M., the table broke. It just wasn't possible to win anymore. We all cashed out a ton ahead, John at least $50K, and bid each other farewell. It is hard to replicate this kind of gambling session. I went back the next night to try and get on the game, but it was New Year's Eve and minimums were $100. I saw many of the same people playing, including John, but they didn't seem to have as many chips this time. Ah, for more winning nights...
Good story, wonder what the Wizard will have to say. BTW why did you choose "John" and "Stu" for pseudonyms?
Great story. Must have been fun to drink that great wine.
Brutal!! How much bad luck do you think it takes to pay off your back-to-back royals?
I'm on a bad streak here, too. On the plus side, I just realized that one of my local casinos has a 9-7-4 paytable on UTH. So that's nice...
Not even close. You're the best player I know. I wish I had some sage advice like you gave me during my bad VP run. Don't tell me it was that Binions game again.
You have to sit in third base at a table with a beautiful woman in order to change your luck.
Teddys I have had streaks like you in the last year and it is beyond words. I lost $2200 playing $20 Pia Gow poker in Lake Tahoe, which is practically impossible. My last two BJ sessions ended up going through my bankroll in less than an hour and that was atleast 50 units each time. I sympathize big time!!
Quit playing the negative shoes when I suggest it! One shoe yesterday had a TC of minus 12!