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Al Moe

Reading at the Poker Table

By February 6, 2013

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A while back I spent several days playing poker at the Monte Carlo casino in Las Vegas. The room's atmosphere is laid-back, with nine or ten tables, and the $1-$2 no-limit Texas Holdem game had just the right mix of players: half unsuspecting newbies, half know-it-all expert twenty-somethings who really had been playing for weeks! Great game. I was staying at the Cosmo, up the street, but the Monte Carlo is an M Life casino (MGM Resorts), and they had really low hotel rates if you played for five hours. All good stuff. The best part was watching the players watch everything but the game they were in.

My favorite session was where three players on my game were reading. No kidding. Two were reading Card Player, and the third was involved in a novel. He'd look at his two cards, and then toss them virtually every hand. It was easy to surmise he was playing only big slick and top pairs, but he still got action when he raised - but not from me. In addition to the readers, there was some very exciting ESPN news that hadn't been seen on TV for almost 15 minutes, so that took attention away from the poker too. Honestly, it was like playing poker with nine people with no short-term memory. Hysterical and profitable.

I'm really happy that today's players take such great joy in reading and watching TV at the table. Sure makes the games easier. I will admit that I used to read during my sessions, but I used to walk outside and sit in my car for twenty minutes for a break and it always helped. You can still do that at some clubs in California, but parking along the Strip isn't what it used to be. Believe it or not, you used to be able to park right in front of clubs like the Stardust and the Desert Inn, and walk 100 steps into the poker room!

And Speaking of Reading

I just got finished reading 1536 Free Waters and Other Blackjack Endeavors by Glen Wiggy. It too, took me back a few years to when I started playing blackjack (again, parking right in front of the casinos instead of in an 8-story garage) in Las Vegas. That was the best part of the book for me! The reading is fun and light, with some humor thrown in, like Spam into a skillet - weird and fatty.

Wiggy was a probability and statistics instructor at the Air Force Academy and a sometime poker and blackjack player when a student started quizzing him about blackjack. Turns out the student knew more about practical blackjack play then the instructor did, but that changed soon enough. Before long, Wiggy was playing everyday, over 800 sessions, and walking out of the casinos with cash, chips, and 1536 bottled waters.

The book presents an overview of blackjack from casual play to basic strategy and a simple plus minus count so the reader gets grounded in a little theory before embarking on any actual play. Wiggy is just funny enough to hold readers through the 200+ page book filled with sessions, sarcasm, and stories about his family. If you're new to casino blackjack, you might want to take a look. The casino interaction and learning curve ring true!


February 11, 2013 at 9:35 pm
(1) mel jung says:

still enjoy your endevors and would like to see e yuou again someday in Reno altho the only casino in town we o btothe knnow is harrahs and its ready to fold. sorrry….i spent superbowl there and they onoy alllowed t 2 v beers the whole time. ugh, mel

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