Did you ever forget a really good question before a speaker got to you? Used to happen to me in class a lot. Maybe that's why I went to so many colleges. Aside from the school of Hard Knocks, I went to a total of six colleges in California, Nevada and Arizona. Plus I went through Notre Dame, but that was in a police car, so that probably doesn't count. Anyway, I finally managed to get a four-year degree, but I still have trouble getting the answers I want, like how does the one drunk guy always find my blackjack game when I'm in the middle of a juicy shoe? And just how is it that when I find a really consistent dealer that just pushed into a roulette game and I can clock their spins perfectly, they suddenly get a sneezing attack or have to go to the restroom and someone else comes in and wipes me out? These are important questions!
Ask Your Questions - I'll Answer
If you also have questions about roulette, or any other gaming-related things, I'll try to answer them. Right now I've got lists for roulette, craps and blackjack, so those things are hot - but if you have other questions, send me an email at: casinogambling@Aboutguide.com and I'll try to set you right.
In other news, a reader commented on my discussion of continuation bets at poker, saying the advice is antiquated and standard practice for many players. Well, you're right, doesn't make it wrong. So is raising with pocket jacks to narrow the field, but if you didn't know that, would you raise with them? The point is, we only know what we know, and sometimes we need some advice to improve our game. I'll try to help you improve your game, but I can't if you don't ask. And for those of you who already know a lot, congratulations. Please stay at your own table.
I'm already booked for the beginning of the 2014 WSOP. If you haven't made plans yet, the WSOP starts Tuesday May 27th with the two-day casino employee event, and while it starts at noon, not all of the tournaments do! The first normal, average Joe no-limit Texas Hold'em event is Thursday, a $1,000 tournament, but action is heavy and it's planned as a three-day jam-fest. Wait, almost all the tournaments are! That's so they can get multiple events going along with plenty of cash games at the same time. What's that mean? It means you need a room for several days. What to do?
Well, other than staying at Aunt Flo's house in Henderson, if you need inexpensive accommodations, you better hop to it. The Rio is a Harrah's property (alright, Caesars, whatever) and their rates are reasonable right now, as are the rooms at Bally's, Flamingo and Quad. Surprisingly, the rooms at the Rio, where the WSOP is held, are still really low, although the weekends are $200+, and please note they charge a $20 per day resort fee. Bummer. If you want to stay close but not at the Rio, the Gold Coast is almost next door and the weekend rates are about half the Rio's. The Orleans, which has a pretty nice low-limit poker room of their own, is around the corner.
If you haven't been to the WSOP, the huge events hall isn't quite the same since online poker moved away from the US, but you can still buy plenty of logo items like $30 tee shirts, $10 shot glasses, and $5 tins of mints - the size of a poker chip. And, the action in the poker area is still unbelievable. There is plenty of parking in the back (way back) of the property, or you can come down from your room and walk approximately 7.2 miles to the convention center (yes, I exaggerated, a little). I usually see several well-known poker players at the craps tables. They have no questions about craps, but I always wonder why they play during the few 1/2 hour breaks from the tournament.
If you are hungry, like I always am, you can grab a sandwich, burger or other choices right outside the poker rooms. If you are on break, you won't have time to get to one of the regular Rio restaurants, so don't bother. Are there any slack-times during the WSOP? No. It's always busy. Enjoy.
Nevada, Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey (specifically Atlantic City) have been basking in the glow of legalized online gaming. Only Nevada has actually gotten their poker games up and running for players within the state (intra-state, Nevada-only players), but the other states aren't too far behind. It's obvious that there is a huge market for Internet poker in the US, it's just those pesky guys in Washington DC that keep getting access shut down to US players.
However, using a clue from the David Sklansky book of poker Gap Theory, the states above parred back their quest of the entire US market and took their fight to individual states. Until now.
In the next logical (and highly anticipated) step toward getting Internet poker back online for US players, Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada and Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware signed an agreement to establish a legal framework for interstate Internet gambling. Of course that doesn't guarantee anything at the national level, but it does mean the two states are now working together, with Gibraltar-based 888 Holdings, to design a system for players in both Nevada and Delaware to compete over virtual green-felt tables.
If all goes well, players in Nevada will soon be able to play against those in Delaware, and the obvious domino effect comes very quickly after that to include more and more states (because most states won't want to be left out of the taxation party, I hope, I hope) until many of us will be able to play poker online again. Against crazy players, for real money.
Roulette has been around for at least a couple hundred years, mostly in the same form: a spinning wheel with 37 numbered pockets, 1-36 and a 0. Occasionally the game had a 0 and 00, and when it was introduced to miners in the United States, it always had two house spots, although they were more patriotic, sometimes with an eagle instead of zero. When gambling when coin-op in the late 1800's there were plenty of choices for those who liked roulette. Although the games weren't exactly like roulette, they still had the feel of the game - and the gamble. The story of penny machines as gaming devices is an intriguing one, and the machines were as popular in the UK as they were in the US.Photo Courtesy (Nic Costa)
You could bet on one or more colors on this old Commercial wheel, the odds were never real good for the player (about a 75% return to the player), but coin-op roulette has continued to improve, and several manufacturers offer very nice games that don't require a dealer, and therefore are considered slot machines in many jurisdictions. Roulette Evolution, the IGT entry to this market, is very sophisticated. For the player, the video screen even allows you to drag your chips across the screen to wherever you want to bet, and in addition to traditional US bets, you can make Series bets (Called, or Racetrack bets) on some games.Photo Courtesy (IGT)
While most US casinos opt for the double zero wheels, even on their coin-op roulette, the betting options vary depending on jurisdiction. For those of you lucky enough to find a single zero Roulette Evolution in your local casino, all you have to do for pre-selected series bets is press More Bets and choose TIERS, ORPHELINS, GRAND SERIES, 0-SERIES, FINALES, or pick a number on the racetrack for the NEIGHBORS Series bet. It doesn't get any better than that, especially since the games pay the same odds as the live wheels do. I guess coin-op roulette really has gone through an evolution!
Gaming giant Caesars Entertainment continues to expand, this time taking over Baltimore with a 122,000 square foot casino planned for opening close to the Fourth of July, 2014. The half-billion dollar project is located along Russel Street, near Camden Yards where the Baltimore Orioles play baseball, and M&T Stadium where the Ravens play football. The idea of an urban casino is a new one, completely different than Maryland Live, but the odds are good for improving the prospects of the Carroll Camden section of South Baltimore.
Harrah's casinos purchased the Horseshoe name (mostly to get the WSOP) before becoming Caesars Entertainment. Like a Texas Hold'em continuation bet, the Horseshoe has a great starting hand - a long history of strong casino management, good planning, and plenty of capital. The Horseshoe Casino Baltimore will include plenty of slot machines, table games, and a 20,000 sq. ft. "Baltimore Marketplace" featuring authentic Charm City food outlets, premier restaurants, and several bars and lounges.
For poker players, there will also be a World Series of Poker room. Circuit tournaments will come to the Baltimore casino in late 2014 or early 2015. The Horseshoe Cincinnati offers 31 poker tables with Hold'em, Omaha, Razz and 7-stud. You can expect the Horseshoe Baltimore to offer the same.
It's always a good idea to have a plan when you go to a casino. If you have never been to a casino, do a few things first. Make sure you have your ID and make sure you have a way home. Those simple things will keep you from doing some dumb stuff, like arguing about being allowed to play when you have no ID to prove you are old enough to gamble legally.
That arguing thing, that's one of the dumb things I see on a regular basis. Ever seen a basketball player argue with a ref? Ever see the ref change their mind? You can't win, so save your breath. If you get cut-off for having too much to drink, accept the verdict. You won't be getting served anymore. And, if you are asked to leave or take a taxi home, do it. Don't sneak back in the casino! Yesterday I saw a player drink too much, pound the table, yell at the dealer, and then get escorted out to a taxi. The end you think? No way.
The guy must have gotten in the taxi and taken it up the street and had it turn around, because he was back 10-minutes later, ready to gamble, and ready to argue. So what happened? I watched him get tasered and then arrested. If you haven't seen someone get tasered, well, he was lucky he was drunk, because he flopped like a fish for 10 seconds. Note to self: don't get tasered.
Another dumb thing you should avoid is having no clue what you are doing. Why is it that a person will drive three extra miles to save 8-cents per gallon on gas, but refuse to learn a few rules before playing a game for $25 a hand? Do yourself a favor by reading up a little, or even asking the dealer how to play - first! It's cheaper. Enjoy.
I get a lot of email, and the most frequently asked questions about blackjack have to do with whether the game is rigged. The answer of course is "Yes." At least as far as the condition where every casino game is designed to make the house a profit.
An honest casino isn't like a carnival where the darts have dull tips so you can't pop the balloons. Of course you don't want to have trouble popping the balloons at blackjack because you are the one that's dull! By and large, casinos offer games that are "as described," which means it's up to the player to learn the game and then play their best. Because blackjack is a learned skill (nobody woke up one morning and said, gee, I should always split aces and eights), and the rules of basic strategy are derived from computer simulations as well as mathematical formulas, players simply assume they play well enough and should win quite often. That's basic human nature, as in, "I'm smart and should beat this game with a tiny house edge of less than 1%."
As human beings we make worse decisions when we are tired, irritable, or have been drinking. Surprisingly, casinos are likely to have games where there are no clocks and scantily-clad women serve booze. That's a bad combination for playing games of chance where you don't have the edge. So, be smart. Learn the games and play well, and forget about the old days where many of the games were actually rigged. Bummer.
When I was about 10-years old I hit my first slot jackpot, courtesy of my father. I had 45-cents in nickles saved from my allowance, and my dad dutifully took them from me and went with my mother and played the nickle slots at the Owl Club in Battle Mountain, Nevada one night when we were on vacation (to the Great Salt Lake, honest). At some point, a jackpot was hit for 150 coins (that's $7.50 for anyone who spent the last 30 hours watching non-stop Olympics coverage) and I got the nickles! I also got a nifty ashtray commemorating the event and my life drifted closer to thinking gambling was easy, which it is, but like the quote from the actor's deathbed, "Dying is easy, comedy is hard," remember that "Gambling is easy, winning is hard," so you should enjoy it at all times!
I'll always have a place in my heart for tiny casinos like the Owl Club, with a few dozen slot machines and not much more, or the Red Coach in Silver Springs with a single blackjack table where the owner would drive in from home sometimes if she was of a mind when the restaurant cashier called her and said "There's a fellow here, want's to play some blackjack." If you've never been to Silver Springs, that's fine. You can skip the trip to Gerlach to see Bruno's Country Club and to Fallon to see the Bird Farm (but they do have good pastrami sandwiches) in Northern Nevada too, but you might want to include Virginia City, which is now a revived ghost town, much like the casino spots of the high mountains of Colorado.
Virginia City is about a half-hour from Reno, and it's worth the drive (if you aren't prone to car sickness) up the mountain, because the town looks much like it did 100-years ago with wooden sidewalks and a steam-engine train that takes a little trip to nearby Gold Hill. Yes, that Gold Hill, where I once did a spectacular speech on baseball in the Comstock to a crowd estimated at nearly 10 people, but I digress.
If you make it to Virginia City, you'll find all the new tourist-trap things, and about a half-dozen cool saloons that have great old photos, exhibits, the occasional blackjack table, and several slot machines. You might not get rich, but it's a good afternoon spot, especially on a hot afternoon when you need a cooler temperature and a break from the big city. Take the kids and it's a family thing. Go with adults and you can gamble and drink and relax like the old days. Enjoy.
Alright, I've been served-up my humble pie for choosing the Broncos to win the Super Bowl. I am happy to say the game went over, points-wise, so I managed to break even, but that's hardly what we bet for, right? On the other hand, there's plenty to do in Colorado right now, and I come not to bury the Broncos, but to leave Denver and head to the casinos in Black Hawk and Central City (not stopping to sample any snacks the new marijuana shops are offering).
If you've never been to Denver, the airport is in the middle of nowhere, allowing for decades of urban sprawl before the highrises reach the runways. However, it's a really easy drive from Denver along I-70 to CO-119 into Black Hawk and Central City - about an hour, so no worries. When you get there it's like driving up the mountain to Lake Tahoe. Nevada and finding no lake, but a lot more casinos!
Dozens and dozens of bars and restaurants have received gaming licenses over the years, only to find that it's tougher to make a go of it than it might look to the casual eye, but now there are 20 casinos still open to choose from (think Reno), and each has it's own appeal. For years the maximum betting limit was $5 in the casinos of Colorado, but with the new higher limits (up to $100) you can make some moves on the poker tables, and several casinos have craps and roulette.
If you make the trip you are likely to have a great time. Cripple Creek has many casinos also, but the trip south of Denver is a bit tougher (9,500 alt.) with lots of switchbacks and you have to drive slowly. Might want to avoid the back seat if you can help it - car sickness is a complaint for some. There are also two casinos in Ignacio, CO - down past Durango and before you cross into New Mexico by Farmington, and in Towaoc, which is closeby and almost into Utah. Towaoc is your choice if you have an RV. It's in the country, surrounded by mountains, and real pretty. Enjoy!
If you aren't enjoying the moment while gaming, something is going wrong! I was at the Waste Management Celebrity Casino and Poker Charity Night prior to the kick-off of the 2014 PGA Tour stop in Scottsdale, Arizona and realized gaming isn't everything. Apparently there is also bidding on cool stuff for charity, eating lots of free food, and winning stuff in raffles. I also spent time listening to the Nate Williams Band (Nate's got a great voice), and checking out the stuff that Fender brought, like vintage Stratocasters that I played, understanding fully why I write words instead of playing notes.
Waste Management, which sponsored the night of fun (oh, and that golf thing also) at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort, was very generous with the invitations (hey, I got one), and with the food and open bar. The resort is amazing, the people were terrific, and Waste Management also put up $20,000 in prize money for the poker tournament winner to split between the Phoenix Children's Hospital and the charity of their choice.
Guests got to enjoy the company of players like Rickie Fowler and Charley Hoffman, NFL Hall of Famer Ricard Dent (who finished third in the poker tournament), and NBA Hall of Famer Julius "Dr. J." Erving, who wandered behind the blackjack tables and said "I'm just a Pit Boss here." Tournament Director and CEO of Dream Dealers Casino Events, Jeff Geller, ran a wonderful evening for the guests, and players across the room were all smiles gaming for fun at the nearly 24 tables of blackjack, craps, roulette and poker. In fact, even Waste Management's CEO, David Steiner sat-in to deal some poker!
Guests were able to play casino games all night, and many found dealers they liked so much that they simply stayed at one table for the whole event. Others walked the floor and tried games they didn't know about like Three-Card-Poker Prime, and craps. At the end of the night, players traded their chips in for raffle tickets, and placed their tickets into drawing boxes for gifts of their choice, from golf clubs to golf passes, and even jewelry. All for fun, all for charity, and all sponsored by Waste Management and Fender Corp. Who says you have to play for money to have a great time?