UCSB Family Vacation CenterI just returned from a week at the UCSB Family Vacation Center. This is my third year, and as always, my whole family had a great time. There is always a lot to do for the whole family, but nothing is mandatory. Take it as easy or busy as you like. The best part is they have activities for the kids much of the day, so it is a great chance of the parents to do their own thing.
The staff are very enthusiastic college students. The other vacationeers are in general a very well educated and fun group. You see the same faces year after year, if you stick to the same week, so close friendships are often formed. Here is a summary of what I did this week:
Saturday: Long drive from Vegas & settle in.
Sunday: Sea kayaking lesson. The evening was "casino night."
Monday: Surfing lesson.
Tuesday: Golf at the Sandpiper golf course (which is along the ocean, and probably the most scenic course I've ever played). Adult "night on the town" in the evening, where we had a lovely dinner in Santa Barbara.
Wednesday: This is "family day." We do Sterns Warf and State Street this year.
Thursday: 27-mile Santa Barbara bike ride, and BBQ lunch at Goleta beach. The evening was trivia night.
Friday: Swimming races during the day. My relay partner dislocated his shoulder after diving in the pool (ouch!). The evening was karoake night.
Saturday: Head home.
During all this time I did a fair bit of petty gambling with a friend on trivia, gin, and blackjack.
For familes with kids, especially young ones, I can't recommend the FVC enough. If you're thinking about going, let me know.
Very nice. The University of Michigan has a similar program -- Camp Michigania, in northern Michigan. I went there for about 12 or 13 years, until we all got too old for it. Fortunately, my brother is graduating from there so we can utilize his "membership" in the future. I believe UC Berkeley has one, too, somewhere in the Sierra Nevada. I take it this center is open to everyone, not just UCSB alums?
Yes, I've heard of some other schools doing it too. I can't make any comparisons, but I think the concept is a great idea. While I am a UCSB alum, you don't have to be. However, if you are, it is a lot of fun to revisit the ol' campus and relive memories. I've been known to give a lot of unsolicited advice to the staff on classes and majors, most of who go to UCSB.
Alaska Vacation part 1I also have a blog on my Wizard of Odds site for more significant things I have to say than pondering who Mr. Sanders is. Here is a link to my blog entry on part 1 of my Alaska vacation.
Andy Rooney Hatchet Piece on GamblingI have some comments about Andy Rooney's commentary about casino gambling in the May 16 60 Minutes. Before you read further, here are links to the video, and the transcript. Note that the transcript has some comments not in the video.
Let me take this on a point by point basis.
Quote: Andy Rooney
In 2008 the casinos earned $32.5 billion. Last year they earned only $30.7 billion. I use the words "earned" and "only" loosely but casino income was down a lousy little two billion dollars last year. It's enough to bring tears to your eyes.
The way he puts it, you'd think the gambling business is just a bunch of whiners over a 5.5% downturn in revenue. However, I don't think his sarcasm would be appreciated by the thousands of in the gambling business in Vegas who are now unemployed.
Quote: Andy Rooney
It's a law for people to protect themselves by wearing seat belts for their own safety when they're in car. How come the government doesn't protect citizens from losing their money by making gambling in casinos illegal? There should be a sign in front of every casino that says "enter at your own risk...of losing your shirt."
So the government should outlaw gambling. Let's outlaw everything else that can be abused as well, starting with alcohol, tobacco, and junk food. Isn't Rooney old enough to remember what a huge success prohibition was? For those who believe government should hold our hand, and protect us from evil from cradle to grave, may I recommend moving to Cuba or North Korea.
About the signs at the door, would that really help? Furthermore, I see pamphlets for compulsive gambling frequently in the casinos. I believe in Atlantic City every piece of paper in the casinos must have the phone number for Gamblers Anonymous on it.
Quote: Andy Rooney
The thing that bothers me most about gambling is that people fritter away money so they don't get to spend it on things that someone else has been paid to produce. Gambling produces nothing.
There's only so much money in the world and if it's lost at a gambling table, it's money that isn't spent on things America makes. I mean who's best for this country - a machinist at an automobile plant in Detroit or a blackjack dealer in Las Vegas?
What kind of physical product do you make, Mr. Rooney, or anyone at CBS? Does a job only have moral value if it produces a physical object? The fact of the matter is most of the US economy is service related business, including CBS. Is the machinist in Detroit better for this country than a contestant on CBS's "Big Brother"?
Quote: Andy Rooney
The gambling casinos keep something like 20 percent of everything bet for themselves, so there's no chance of anyone but the casinos winning over a period of time.
I'd like to know the source of this statistic. He is probably referring to hold percentages, which is the ratio of money the casinos wins to actual cash presented at the tables. For example, the hold percentage is blackjack in 2009 was 11.31% (source: 2009' rel='nofollow' target='_blank'>http://gaming.nv.gov/documents/pdf/1g_09dec.pdf]2009 Nevada Gaming Revenue Report). For all table games it was 12.04%. So even if he is referring to the hold percentage, 20 seems way too high. I can't speak for other states, but I challenge Mr. Rooney to back up that figure.
Regardless of where the 20% comes from the "percent of everything bet," or the house edge, is much lower than that. Most table games have a house edge between 0.25% and 5%. Slots are 1% to 15%. Video poker is seldom over 2%. Only live keno and horse racing are consistently around 20%.
Regarding nobody winning over a long period of time, so far I have, and lots of professional gamblers.
Quote: Andy Rooney
They make billions - and where do the billions come from? They come from all of us because we're the losers. I mean, suckers is what we are.
If I write as though I was above all this, I'm not writing right. I've gambled half a dozen times in Las Vegas and even though I know how dumb it is. I think I can win. I've never won but that doesn't stop me from thinking "maybe next time."
I admire his honesty. However, is the experience of gambling a failure if you lose? What is your chance of winning money on a vacation in Hawaii or New York City instead? Most gamblers have the sense to know the odds are against them, but play anyway for the entertainment value, and sometimes you do win over a single trip. It wouldn't surprise me if Mr. Rooney lost all six times because he was playing slot machines. The next time you're in Vegas, Mr. Rooney, please let me know and I'll give you all the free gambling lessons you like. I can't promise you'll win, but I'll teach you to play so that your expected loss over a weekend is less than what you would pay for a ticket to a Broadway show. I'm serious about that.
The 91 year-old Old Coot Mr. Rooney can't do too much wrong to get me mad at him, which I can pointedly say separates me from quite a few folk... he has rubbed more than a few people the wrong way and gotten himself yanked off the air at least once by offending some group.
Well, he's taken on Big Gambling this time and kicking them while they're down. I see no reason to applaud their having problems, particularly, so I don't much think he was on the money this time. And the Wizard makes plenty of other good points. So I'll just say I often like to hear and sort of go along with his curmudgeonly stuff and see what I can glean from it. I don't need to agree with him.
The argument about "producing" something is the one that gets me maddest. A similar argument is everyone complaining about how much money is spent on political campaigns. This person or that person spent "millions to get elected". Heck, I've even complained. But where does the money come from and where does it go? It usually personal wealth or donations from wealthy, well-connected businesses or individuals, who may expect something in return. True, that can be a negative if the pols are dishonest. But who benefits? How about all of the businesses that employ people based on political spending. Printing companies, web design companies, caterers, polling companies...these are usually middle class businesses that can use the help. And of course the big one: The broadcasting industry, of which I am still employed. Maybe you hate those political commercials, but they can often be the difference in generating enough revenue to keep extra people on staff to cover more local events and emergencies. The next time you hear about a Michael Bloomberg or Meg Whitman pumping tens of millions of dollars into your political campaign and you think that it's just a waste of money, consider the spending a huge injection into the local or regional economy by a multi-millionaire. It works better than taxes!
I partially share Mr. Rooney’s sentiments about producing physical products, but I think he expressed it poorly – mostly just a rant.
There are two important facts: First, actual creation of wealth almost always involves production of a physical product. And to create wealth, that production must result in a product that has more intrinsic value than the entire combination of resources that were consumed in the production activities. Furthermore, most activities that do not create wealth actually destroy wealth through their inefficiencies. Most of the service industries that dominate the U.S. economy do not create wealth; they just transfer wealth from one party to another. The exceptions to this are the services that enable or improve the efficiency of the manufacturing sector, such as communications and information services. To some extent, the insurance industry also contributes to creation of wealth by enabling the manufacturing sector to perform its services.
Second, the fact that an activity destroys wealth rather than creating it does not necessarily mean that it is a bad thing. Essentially all of our entertainment and recreation activities consume wealth without creating more. But in many cases we willingly give up that wealth because the “personal value” is more important to us than the actual wealth. Dining out at a restaurant, going to see a film, play, or ballet, or gambling in a casino does not only transfer wealth from one party to another but grinds away a little through inefficiency. But we do it anyway, often because we feel it improves our lives.
Two really bad situations from destroying rather than creating wealth come to mind: (1) individually squandering personal wealth, such as through compulsive gambling or frivolous consumption, and (2) having a national economy that is excessively based on services rather than production, so that wealth is gradually or rapidly eroded, perhaps through depletion of natural resources. These two represent ways to destroy an individual or a nation.
End of response rant.
You're just preaching to the choir here. You should immediately fomulate a response and sent it to CBS. Be sure to mention your credentials.
The producing a product thing? That ship has sailed.
It's been decades since this country (the world?) has shifted from a manufacturing economy to a service economy. Detroit produces a manufatured product. Las Vegas and CBS produce entertainment services.
And don't try to tell me that 60 Minutes is part of the news department. As a whole, CBS is entertainment. And certainly the Andy Rooney segment is meant to be entertaining. As are all those Andy Rooney books (of which I own four.)
So who's the evil boogey-man now?
Hmmm... Do those books fall into the product or entertainment side of this fence?
Personally, I would think it would be the robot in Detroit! He produces much, and complains little.Quote: Andy Rooney
I mean who's best for this country - a machinist at an automobile plant in Detroit or a blackjack dealer in Las Vegas?
Oh, wait... Vegas has their own robots. They're called slot machines.
You complain about the evil gambling industry, and yet, you still dream about it and anticipate returning.Quote: Andy Rooney
I've gambled half a dozen times in Las Vegas and even though I know how dumb it is. I think I can win. I've never won but that doesn't stop me from thinking "maybe next time."
Do you have the same dreams and anticipations about your next new car?
Mr. Rooney is obviously resorting to old fashioned wants vs. needs view of economics. Although the perception of wants vs. needs is very prevalent, no serious economist uses those terms anymore.
How does the $30 billion a year gaming industry compare with the $40 billion a year soft drink industry? Colas have a higher physiological dependence than smoking and alcohol and is harder to give up.
Soft drinks account for one-quarter of all sugar consumed by Americans, and is having a significant effect on the health of America's children. Sugar supplies 99 percent of the 144 calories in a 12 ounce Coke. Forty percent of one to two year olds drink an average of 9 ounces of soft drinks per day.
Much of modern consumer culture is addictive behavior.
You'd better hope that ship makes it back into port. The economies that actually produce products efficiently are the ones more likely to sustain a stable future. Those that just pass wealth back and forth, grinding it down, are subject to near destruction from something as simple as a fat-fingered trader (whether that is what actually what happened last week or not). People express concern that China's economy has grown very strong while ours has weakened -- why do you think that happened? Certainly not their wonderful government. They just turn out products that we buy; they create wealth from their resources while we think the nation's business sector is going great if we can hand the same dollar back and forth to each other fast enough. Entertainment is great, and most of us enjoy it, but transferring your funds to the entertainer doesn't help the overall economy. Similarly, you can potentially make (or lose) a lot of personal money swapping corporate stocks and bonds with someone else, but that doesn't make the economy strong unless in the process you are providing new capital that lets the corporation produce something of intrinsic value -- value greater than the resources consumed. Ooops! Sorry -- back on my rant; it just bugs me when I encounter large numbers of people who think that high volumes of cash flow mean that something is financially/economically solid. And that is the tendency when the "service" sector begins to outweigh the production sector.Quote: DJTeddyBear
The producing a product thing? That ship has sailed.
Rooney's comments sound like something I'd expect for his generation. Stuck in the past. Why they have the old fart on anymore is beyond me. I could go down to the local old folks home and listen to some guy tell WWII stories and get more out of it that Rooney offers. He used to be entertaining. The last decade or so he is just sad. CBS's charity case.
Doc, I agree with you completely about 'intrisic value'. The financial sector has grown to be the largest share of GDP in our history, but no one can really show that its growth has had a positive impact that actually creates wealth.
Mike, do you actually take Andy Rooney seriously? I don't really know alot of Americans who make life choices or decisions based on something the old fart says. He's editorializing, and frankly, I don't think he belongs at the end of 60 minutes except as a traditional footnote.
He has a point. Casinos make money from us. What I think he doesn't understand is the value of its entertainment. Frankly, if you go somewhere, pay money, and are not entertained, it's a waste of money, isn't it? You could substitute the word "Golf Course" or "Broadway Show" for that matter.
The problem with gambling is that for some people, gambling isn't entertainment, and it isn't a money making venture either... it's an addiction. What percentage of Vegas revenue comes from problem gamblers vs people who are simply making the choice to be entertained? A valid argument, but you should make the same argument with alcohol and tobacco as well. Marijuana smoking is illegal too but what percent of Americans partake in that activity?
I wouldn't have so much of a problem with Rooney's comments if the money wasn't being spent in America. Harrahs, the Sands, Boyd Gaming, Wynn, and MGM are American companies with multinational operations, employing Americans at their properties and their head offices. Like Broadway, movie theatres, and golf courses, the industry employs hundreds of thousands of Americans, and when the casino industry hurts, so does America.
Rooney was a reporter in EU in WWII, for crying out loud. He was a reporter before there was TV. Who cares what he says, my Grandma is 92 and we just nod and pat her hand when she talks. Rooney is 91, he stopped being relevent in the 80's and we forgot to notice.
So, should we expect Mr. Rooney to set his sites on the stock market next? Granted, any seasoned trader can navigate the various global exchanges, and a "newbie" can get lucky by investing his life savings on the next IBM, Apple, Yahoo!, etc. We all know, however, what happens to the 401(k)'s and IRA's of the vast majority of the uninformed masses who trade without proper insights, professional and unbiased advice, or some sort of basic strategy - they tank just in time to postpone their unlucky retirees for about five to ten years! Sound anything like "big, bad casinos?" lol Casinos are just an easy target for a big mouth who has little brains AND a conservative network behind him. Hope you got your ratings, Mr. Rooney! Were they worth your dignity?
Who is Mr. Sanders?In an old thread I posted a question that has bothered me for decades, what is the difference between a state and a commonwealth?. To continue my tradition of torturing my readers with questions that don't have a satisfying answer, I will ask another one that has bothered me for decades:
Why does the sign above Winnie the Pooh's door say "Mr. Sanders"?
See example image.
The illustration can be traced back to the original Winnie the Pooh book by A.A. Milne, in which he writes, "Winnie the Pooh lived under the name of Sanders. That is he had the name over the door in gold letters, and he lived under it." However, that begs the question of who is Mr. Sanders, and if it isn't Pooh's last name, why is Pooh living in his house?
I've visited several web sites that pose these questions, and none provide a satisfying answer. Whenever I visit Disneyland I always find somebody to torture over these questions. Once I was referred to a Disney trivia expert working in a store on Main Street, who was adamant that Sanders was Pooh's last name. However, most Winnie the Pooh web sites make the following points:
The passage in the book about living under the name of Sanders was an inside joke to adults, implying that Pooh was living under an assumed name, evidently to hide a previous life in crime.
The name Sanders may have referred to Frank Sanders, a friend of illustrator E.H. Shepard.
Most web sites rebuff the notion that Sanders was Pooh's last name, and claim the most likely explanation is that Mr. Sanders was another bear that used to occupy Pooh's house. The evidence to back up these claims I find unsatisfactory.
That is about all there is to say about the matter, as far as I know. If anybody can shed any additional light on this mystery, let's have it!
Maybe it was where the Colonel used to live before he went on to join the army and patenet his fried chicken recipe.
Ok, Ill get it in before someone else. Colonel Sanders served in the Army as a private, and the title Colonel was an honorary title (Kentucky Colonel) bestowed by the Govenor in 1935, and recomissioned in 1950. (Source Wikipedia)
See? I've started disecting my own jokes to save you the bother.
I always liked that particular line from the Pooh books. I think Milne was just trying use some whimsical wordplay, or that it was an inside joke. You pointed out the double meaning of "living under." As a child, I thought that Mr. Sanders was a previous owner who forgot to take the letters off the house. I like my interpretation.
I always thought it was something Lewis Carroll would have written. He liked those sort of puns. Pooh shouldn't be deconstructed -- for that, read Ulysses.
Another more literal interpretation is that he found a real sign on his estate and incorporated it into his stories that he told his son. Once again, it is speculation, and not backed by any real evidence.
I think Milne's enjoyment of using something with a double meaning (one for adults, and one for children) is more in keeping with his genius.
I like the second answer better, since they Nearly Catch a Woozle. He must have enjoyed reading the Lewis Carrol stories and James Joyce Ulysses where wordplay is paramount.
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
I stink at pokerFor somebody who claims to be a Jack of all trades when it comes to gambling, I'm a pretty horrible poker player. Perhaps that is why I don't get any deeper into the game than the starting hand power ratings on my Odds site. I love the game. In my opinion, poker is the perfect form of gambling -- mixing probability, game theory, psychology, and luck. It would be a source of pride if I could hold my own with the best players. However, I can't even hold my own in online $2/$4 fixed-limit games at Bodog.
Unlike most people who lose at poker, I'm not going to blame an endless streak of bad beats. Of course I've had plenty, but over the number of hours I've played, I'm probably about at expectations. I think my biggest weaknesses are:
1. I'm too predictable. My bets tend to be proportional to the value of my hand. If I've got less than top pair, it is too easy to scare me out with a bet, especially on the turn or river, and I think my opponents catch onto that. If I try to disguise my play, and call on middle pairs or good drawing hands on the flop, it seems like I'm throwing my money away. Either I fold after a bet on the turn, or keep checking and lose.
2. I'm not picky enough about table selection. If I get a table with players who are obviously skilled, my pride will keep me there, trying to prove to myself I can take their action. Every good poker player I know will say that half of winning at poker is playing soft tables to begin with. I prefer a soft table too, but am too stubborn to leave a strong table.
3. I check too much. I need to raise and bluff more often. It happens often that I seem to get sucked into a pot with a mediocre hand, but don't fold because I've got too much vested in it, and I HATE it when I fold a hand that I would have won.
So that is my poker confession. Somebody give me a penance, please.
Drink three Bloody Marys and stick $20 on red (Single 0 of course).
I love poker, and I think having worked with people all my life my ability to read people to a certain extent definately helps, and online is a different game all together.
The advice I would give is:
1. Dont be afraid to drop down limits. If it isnt working at $2-$4 try $1-$2. And limit is renowned as being one of the toughest games to crack, as with a maximum risk amount limited on each hand, it is easy for players to justify calling down. Try pot limit for a good mix between the restricted risk of limit and room to manouvre with bets of no limit.
2. If you feel your bets give away your hand, you can disguise your bet by betting the same regardless of what you hold. I generally use a standard 4xBB raise , followed by bets of around 1/2 pot value.
3. I am also not picky about table selection, but I tend to search out tables with a low pot/hour value, as this generally indicates that the players are quite passive, or that there is a bully at the table preventing pots from building. Both of these I can adapt to with my style of play. not leaving a Table through pride can be expensive, but you can also learn from it, as you obviously have as you have identified your weaknessess.
4.A saying I have heard that I tend to play by preflop is "If a hand is good enough to call, its good enough to raise". Unless there is a raise before me and I dont hold a premium hand. If you have position, I believe you should definitely bet if it has been checked round to you. At best, you take down the pot, or isolate an opponent.
With poker, I believe the most important thing is not what you have, its what the opponent thinks you have. I am only a recreational poker player. These suggestions for your game may or may not work for you. I just hope they help.
Penance? For being honest with yourself? Never!
Some people have a poker face, some don't. I'm one of those who simply couldn't bluff even if the pot were only a penny! I understand that even poker bots have "tells". So I guess poker really is "the people game played with cards". I've even heard that one poker player wears a tie-dyed shirt and a plastic pocket protector filled with a dozen multi-colored pens simply because it is one of the props that he uses to make players who know they should fold want to stay in the pot just so they won't lose to such a caricature from the 1950s. A table where everyone is a tight player must be pure hell for some. I understand that many poker players consider tourists to be targets ripe for the picking whereas locals are real poker players but I've no idea if this is really true or not. Some of those locals have been playing poker since infancy and they just love players who are so predictable.
You've got to suffer that pain many times before you start to realize that it's more profitable to fold the junk hands that, by chance, would have won, than to have played them.Quote:
I HATE it when fold a hand that I would have won.
Of course, there's also the pain of falling in love with premiun hands that go nowhere.
Penance? Read a good book or two. Read the magazines too. I don't know about Vegas, but in AC, most poker rooms give away copies of a couple good poker magazines. Grab them.
Play tournaments. While you can't change tables, etc, playing where everyone has the same starting chip stack evens things out a little.
Don't emulate what you see on TV. They edit. A LOT. Only the really good hands get on the air. On the other hand, I think High Stakes Poker is the best / most realistic poker show going. It's a cash game. Players come and go. Some players play any garbage that comes their way, but they make something out of it in the way they play it - regardless that they didn't hit anything. Some players only play premium hands - except once in a while. Check it out. Usually Sunday evenings on Game Show Network.
You asked for penance, but are being given advice! I can't resist it either, but in my case it's a bit like the C minus student lecturing the teacher. I'm sure you could wipe the floor with me!
I'm sure you have read poker books etc. So here is some advice I havent seen in such.
#1, the most useful "tell" for me is not whether I can tell someone is bluffing, which is hard, but that I can tell that "the table" believes I have the best hand. This *is* something I seem to be able to discern, and it isnt watching for facial twitches or anything I am aware of, it is just something I pick up in the air somehow. This skill I think can be cultivated.
#2 Increase your speed in determining what is possible in the community cards [games almost always have these now]. Unless this becomes second nature, you will spend too much time doing it, or possibly missing something. Actually spending time dealing out cards, studying the result, and practicing getting to the conclusion, is actually quite helpful for me to do maybe the day before playing.
BTW I agree it is a frustration not to be better at what is just possibly "the perfect form of gambling" as you say. In my own case, I regret just not being able to spend the time on it.
OK. You want penance? You want to see your game change?
First: Play in a casino, where there's nothing to do when you're not in a hand but watch the hand in play. Watch it. And watch the players that are in the hand.
Second: Play in a no-limit game. Be prepared to risk it all.
Third: After you've been playing a while, and you think they can predict what you're doing, raise with 7-2 or some other garbage hand.
Me too! I lack the patience; plus when I'm losing I tend to go ALL IN a lot... ok, all the time!
Poker is definitely an interesting game. Years ago, I played a LOT of poker. Eventually got into playing tournaments, and after taking first place in two separate tournaments, I quit playing poker altogether.
Back then, I came up with the following: If you think poker is a game of cards, you're bound to lose money. If you think poker is game of money, you'll probably break even. If you think poker is a game of people, you're going to win money.
Things like table selection, game selection, hand selection, knowing when to raise, when to fold, when to bluff, all fall under the purview of playing your opponents, and not the cards. It's one game where sometimes the mathematical component doesn't necessarily help you. There were plenty of times when I knew I couldn't draw the flush, but I DID know I could bluff my opponent into thinking I drew the flush.
Of course, the math is good to know when your opponent is trying to bluff you.
I think your biggest struggle is playing $2/4 limit - or any other low-limit game. That is a completely different game than no-limit. Its more like Bingo. You can't make big enough bets to scare anybody out of hands, everyone has decent pot-odds, so everyone hangs around. That's how you can end up with a ton of bad beats.
So play either Tourney's or no-limit cash games, and be ready to push all-in after you hit a flop - or even pre-flop.