Aug 17, 2016

Vegas 2016, Part 4

Saturday, March 12

Well, this is a first - I think I was the second or third person to make it downstairs to the casino floor that morning. I'm not sure why I was "late" (for me) in getting to the floor that morning. As you know, I'm usually there by 5, 5:30 at the latest. I don't think I went down until about 7 - horrors! I was probably putting in my Saturday conference tournament picks for that damn pool and/or finalizing the parlays for the day.

I first headed to - where else? - the UTH table - but found no room at the inn. Layup and Wiz were there, playing, and were not in a happy mood. There were two other people at the table: one, a regular American from Lexington with a blue UK shirt on; he seemed to have made friends with Wiz and Layup at the table - but all three were annoyed with the second guy there.

This second guy was probably a Brit, wearing a sportcoat and clearly was still partying from night before. He was chain smoking and (I recall) had at least 3 glasses of alcohol at the table. Apparently, he wasn't budging from the table as he was winning, but was so obnoxious. I'll let Wiz and Layup explain in the comments why he was considered an ass - but that's the worst kind of gambler to gable with - an asshole who wins. An ass who loses is fine, because you know the pain is temporary as he's bound to leave soon. But a mean winner? Ugh.

I found no reason to stay there so I went over to play craps with a few strangers; the Bailey's and cocoa kept coming as I chased the Horn High ace Deuce, hard 4s and 10s, and the all small.. They never showed up, and I got killed. By then it was time for my morning massage.

After the spa trip, it was about 10:30 am on Saturday, and the sports day was in full swing! There was college B ball, golf, NBA, NHL - so enough sports to fill up the entire wall of the Mirage sportsbook. But - in one little monitor at the bottom center, I was watching FS2. Yes sir - it's FA Cup action, yo! Quarterfinals between Chelsea and my adopted Everton team! I even had on my Everton shirt.....

The book was packed, and there was literally no one else in the room watching soccer, let alone vocally rooting for a team. That means I could be as obnoxious as I wanted during the game - no one would have a clue what I was yelling at. Lukaku scored twice in the second half - both occured when the main game in the book, Michigan-Purdue, was in commercial, so everyone heard my shrieking - as Everton pulled the upset, 2-0. Everyone won a +170 bet on them.

What was next? A gambling experience that is a 180-degree turn from a thrilling soccer win; 30 minutes of Pai Gow! And not just any Pai Gow experience; three of us sat down to play and we found out we had a break in dealer. It was a complete farce; we literally played 1 hand every 5 minutes. I couldn't take it any more and got up....

Of course, UTH was still packed (and I think the ass was still there); by then, everyone else had joined us on the floor looking to gamble; 4 of us (Don, Mike, Mike and I) ended up at an empty $25 blackjack table. We had a good time; cards were decent (but never great), as we played for over 3 hours and I ended up down $10. However - I was shocked at the amount of shuffling that occured. We would have 5 or 6 people at the table, and I am pretty sure that we had a shuffle every 8-9 hands. I think we played with a 6 deck shoe - that's the only explanation, right? I can't ever recall a shoe being penetrated that "short" before a shuffle. Did I look like a counter? (Maybe it was Don....he has that look about him)

Parlay update...Don had the first winner of the day with Purdue in the Big 10 semis; my pick of Ark-Little Rock came home a winner; Mike A picked the Raptors, and they won. Wiz had Tx A&M - who won their SEC Semi. To keep the streak alive, all Mike D needed was to have Villanova win the Big east over Seton Hall. A layup, right?

(Not sure where Layup, Wiz and Leland went in the afternoon - I don't think there was an off-campus field trip, but you never know....)

Dinner was at Rose Rabbit Lie at the Cosmo - which was great. What a find, Leland. However, the excitement during this trip happened before dinner as we were walking through the Cosmo casino...we passed by the high limit area, and saw the Holy Grail....a UTH table in the high limit area!!!! It was reserved (no one was playing) but we had to ask the pit boss ....what action is needed to reserve a UTH table?

The answer was - $100,000 action per hour. (is that right???- ed. ) We quickly started doing the match. 6 people at a table, 40 hands/hour - meaning 240 total hands - --- this means action of $400 per hand is needed. That's about a $75-$100 limit table...........hmmmmmm.......well gentlemen, we now have our goals.

After dinner, we came back to the Mirage for the evening session; I think Leland, Mike A and I ended up at the craps table. Again, I was throwing out the $5 chips on the Horn High Ace Deuce and the All small. Leland and Mike A started playing the all small but not the horn.

At one point, Mike rolled - hit a point, and then he rolled again. He rolled a 2....loser on the line, but a winner for me. I pressed the Horn High. Next - a 12. YES! I said as the dealer (again) took the money from the line. Finally, a third roll - 3.....I started cheering loudly and did a little dance. $15 Horn High Ace Deuce - and the 3 came up!

Mike was a bit dumbfounded. "Why are you cheering? We lost again on the pass line. Did we win the all small with that?"

I think this is my direct quote: "No - all that's important, Mike, is that I make money. Just keep rolling like that and make me money!". The table got a bit frosty with my comment....

The night ended at the UTH table with a stoic Ruth who killed all of us with bad hands. I think many in the group finally turned against her.

Sunday, March 13

By 6:00 am this morning, both Layup and Wiz had left - Layup heading to Asia for a 2 week business trip immediately after leaving the Mirage. He said his business class flight was the perfect way to recover.  Mike, Mike and Don had an earlier flight to Cincinnati, so they were up and gone by 7.

That left Leland and I; I started the morning at the craps table where some kid hit 3 hard 4's in a row - and was just the "9" away from the all or nothing. Leland joined for a bit; we had the breakfast buffet then back for one last unsuccessful run at craps.

I took Leland to the airport in Layup's rental - I agreed to return it - and on the ride over, we talked about the 2016 presidential election. I tried to convey to him how Trump was attractive to many in middle America. (At this point, Trump was the favorite - but hadn't locked down - the Republican nomination). I think we agreed that it was sad how fractured America had become; we don't socialize with people outside our class/societal status much any more. It was a deep conversation - something that was more appropriate for a Monday dinner rather than a final discussion after a 100 hour gambling session.

I dropped Leland off at the terminal, then tried to find where the rental car return was for McCarran airport. Holy shit - it seemed to be in Tucson. Lugging my clubs all over that damn garage, on the overcrowded shuttle bus and then in the 30 minute check in line for Delta was a sour end to another great trip.

Jul 24, 2016

Vegas 2016, Part 3

Friday, March 11

I think I was able to sleep in till about 5 or so this morning. The body was starting to hurt. Nevertheless, headed down to the tables for my customary Baileys and coffee and an empty UTH table - and a nice winning session to start the day.

Wiz set up another round of golf - today was TPC Summerlin, a course we had not played before. We were going to leave around 8:30 in order to get there for our 10:00 am tee time. While we were packing up - the sports news of the year broke! The Browns had finally cut Johnny Manziel! The timing was no real surprise - since Wednesday March 9 was the first day teams could cut people and not have them impact the salary cap for 2016. We all expected the cut as we arrived on Wednesday - which meant we may have had a chance to see a drunk Johnny in the Mirage over the weekend - but it was not to be.

We got to the course around 9:15 or the course, we were warming up (and it was clear my swing stayed at the Mirage...); the coffee kicked in and I had to go to the restroom. Ah, what better time to check with some of the early scores? Yes, some games have tipped off already.....

oh crap.....oh no......

I don't think many of you knew what was going on. As you know, I love complex, under the radar sports pools. Anyone can participate in an NCAA tournament pool, but it takes a special kind of degenerate to play in (and lead) an NIT pool. That's one example. Another example is thefabulous suicide pool that Wiz got me in this year. I lasted until the Friday of the Sweet 16. Not bad!

Well, I was in a 10 day conference tournament pool this year. (I think this was the second year that I was in it.). I found it from some one I followed on twitter. Starting on the Friday before the Vegas trip, you have to pick 1) conference tourney winners and then 2) winners for each game each day. It was $100 entry and there were about 120 people in it. Not bad!

I got off to a good start in this pool - for instance, I picked UNC-Wilmington to win the Colonial before it started; that's multiple bonus points. I put my picks in early Thursday morning - and I was in around 15th place. Not bad.

And as I sat on the toilet at TPC Summerlin, I realized - I forgot to put in my picks for the Friday games in this pool.

What's the big deal? Oh, just that Friday is the day with the 2nd most amount of games. The deadline was 11:40 eastern - 8:40 pacific - and we were 30 minutes past that. I would get a 0 for the day.

Well, that's $100 wasted. I wonder what place I was in after Thursday? I checked....that was a mistake. Somehow, I was in 2nd place in the pool going into today. And I forgot my picks.

That's when I started to feel nauseous. How did you forget? That's like $2000-3000 you had a chance idiot. I emerged from the bathroom with an ashen face, and I think it seriously took me 3-4 holes (and a Rum and OJ, thanks to Gavin) to snap me out of it.

Would I have won the pool? I didn't do the math on it...I don't think I hit any of the conference tournament winners on the weekend (I had Miami for the ACC, Purdue for the Big 10, etc), so I probably would not have won. But......

Anyway - back to the golf. The golf was horrible. I had no swing - and people know what game I have when I have no swing. (Answer - none). I made a tremendous par from one hole by hitting it so far left I was talking to the landscapers from a neighboring house. We saw Sheldon Anderson's mansion - it was huge.

The round took some time; I think we played in over 5 hours. I sent Layup (again, he stayed back for work reasons) a text about the state of my game: "Help! Send golf balls".

Layup immediately responded with his situation: "Help! Send Markers!".

(Oh - sports betting out there? I had Cincinnati over UConn in the AAC quarters; Cinci hit a 3 with 00.8 seconds left in triple OT to win by 3! Right? Wasn't that the final score? )

 We didn't get back to the Mirage until 4:30 or so....( I can't believe we ended up being gone that long). Along the way - Layup sent some more cryptic texts about some strange happenings in the craps pit - along with a picture of a cheeseburger playing craps....(yes, you read that right). Upon arrival back at the Mirage, we had to check this out.

There was something strange going on at the craps pit. All the tables were open - which was strange for a Friday afternoon - but half of them were reserved. There was a big whiteboard by one of the tables titled "Tour De Craps XIV", with several names on it -like a big scoreboard. The felt on the tables were even changed; the three reserved tables had a "Tour De Craps XIV" logo on it.

There were about 4-5 players on the tables; some were normally dressed, but one was dressed in the Mayor McCheese outfit. (I never saw him actually roll, so not sure how he could physically roll with his face being a 3' long hamburger). One person - I think - was dressed up as Captain Morgan. There was one regular guy with a huge notebook taking notes and recording the rolls - seemed like a "statistician".

It was clear this was a private gathering. The tables were roped off and no one else could play; they had the tables in the back (that were against the wall near the cashier) so there was very little foot traffic in that area. But I was fascinated. What kind of play did they need to have to do this? And their own special felt? I glanced at the table at the amounts that were being wagered - there were greens and blacks, but nothing out of the ordinary.

(I did a quick google search to see if I could get any more information on this - this is the only thing I could find - a video from Tour de Craps IV. I do recognize the "King" hat, so this has to be the group.)

Dinner was at BLT that night - lot of talk about who would be the worst team in baseball this year - the Padres or the A's. Also, there was disagreement on whether the Orioles would be for real this year again or slink back to mediocrity .....I can't remember who was arguing what, or what the wagers were.....hope someone wrote those down).

Gambling that night was low-key; I did lose a side bet to Layup when betting my favorite coach - Jim Larranaga - vs. Virginia. Jim let me down this year , failing to cover vs. Va Tech earlier in the trip. I do note that Leland hit an "all small" for me during the night - my first one of the trip; I think he hit the 2 as the last low number for me to win the 35-1 side bet. Thanks!   I also have a 3 hour Pai Gow session - don't think it was with our friend John the dealer - and I lost a total of $25 for that session. Not bad for a Friday night.

The night ended with all of us exhausted and at -where else? - the UTH table. I think Ruth was the dealer. Only 3 of us were playing and the other 3-4 people were leaning on the back of the chairs watching. I got to the table late and sat down with Wiz and Layup; they were talking about a lady that was sitting their earlier. She must have made a bad impression, critiquing Wiz and Layup and (I think) was a chain smoker. Layup summed this players attitude succinctly:
"Not only does she play bad, she's a bad person as well".

That was an apt end for the night, as we all crashed around 12 - 1.

Jul 12, 2016

Vegas 2016, Part 2

Thursday, March 10

Got up - without the alarm, of course - at 3:30 am. Already had a couple of picks come in for the parlays on the phone overnight. First stop in the morning, of course, is UTH. There's not much better than 3rd shift gambling at a table by yourself, drinking Bailey's and coffee with OJ on the side. I think I was there for a good 90 minutes along from 4-5:30 gambling before anyone came down.

(by the way - around 5:30 there were reports that Don broke his glasses at the UTH table. it may have been from the night before, or early in the morning. A clear second place (to Micah) on household accidents that occur at the tables while gambling....)

Around 6:00, Layup came down (and others) and talked me into a baccarat session. Now, for a bit of honesty......Baccarat in the Salon is nice, leisurely, and fun....if you have the stakes to play. The $100 minimum in the salon for baccarat is steep; however, when I was an ex-pat, I had the bankroll to be able to have a few of those session. Now that I'm back in the US and having all sorts of expenses.....well, the Vegas budget dipped a little and I'm not sure how many of those Baccarat sessions I can afford. So I was a more hesitant than normal in the salon sessions.

Layup and I played for about 30 minutes (tops); I think maybe Mike A or Don or Wiz joined us for a bit. I had fun with my gyrations and playing each hand in about 1 minute, 30 seconds. The key hand came as the cards were going back and forth from banker to player; I usually bet banker but will zig zag when I have the feeling. Anyway, it was going back and forth and the banker just won the last hand....I picked banker on that hand and as the winner, made the choice for the next hand....I switched to player.

As Julia Roberts said: "Mistake. Big Mistake. Huge!" Banker went on a run of 6 winners in a row and - seeing all those profits go up in smoke - I couldn't stand it anymore and we left.

After breakfast at the buffet - it was Southern Highlands day! Best course in Nevada, bar none. (I know I say that every year). Everyone joined except for Layup - who got stuck with a work call and had to stay back. ( I think we can use the Julia image for that choice, too).

We had a team game; I think it was Mike A, Mike D and I vs Wiz, Don and Leland in a 2 best ball net match. (Is this correct???) Golf for me was mediocre; the low point was losing 3 balls on #3 and posting an X; I posted a Y on #6. I found the swing after that and played decent the rest of the way...somehow we won the front (thanks, Mikes) but lost the back and total.

Of course, during the game, the early games for the parlays were going on; Southern Highland has been the location of many b-ball gambling moments in past trips, such as the Syracuse- NC Asheville 1-16 near upset and the Charlotte/Davidson "4 techs in the last 10 seconds" for a miracle cover.  Nothing too dramatic this year, I had the early pick and had a lock. UAB - the #1 seed in C-USA - was playing the tourney at home and had a first round game against #8 seed Western Kentucky. The line was only 8! It's a lock! When is the last time the host team lost a first round game in a conference tournament?

I'm sure you can guess the result. 

Thank God Butler lost their game on Thursday - or else dinner would have been on me.

However, won one side bet with Wiz on another game - forcing him to sign my book - so that helped the gambling mood a bit.

Checking in with Layup, we heard various reports. Back at the Mirage, when he was supposedly working, Layup was:
1. playing roulette (always a bad sign)
2. playing blackjack on the main floor (which is a sign of insanity for him)
3. Playing craps with a down's syndrome kid.

Wait, what?

As we got back and gambled before dinner, Layup tried to explain to us that there is a Down's syndrome savant in the Mirage playing craps. He is a fierce,concentrated roller and is intense in yelling at the dice as they are rolled, He has a partner that assists in the actual placing of the bets across the table. Layup said that this kid was "hot", hit 3 or 4 points while Layup was there and made all sorts of money for the table. We weren't sure whether to believe him or not, but we had our eyes peeled.

Dinner that night was at Wiz's Italian place at Paris; apart from the fact that it was pitch black in there, the food was actually kind of good. (Jim Larranaga let me down in side bets with Layup, Wiz and Leland). We headed back to the Mirage, all headed our separate ways for a bit to get ready for the night session. I came downstairs first and....there he was! At the craps table! The Down's kid!

I alerted everyone in the group. "He is here! Repeat....He is here!"

Soon, the table was filled; Mike D and I were together at one end of the table with the Down's kid at the other end; Wiz and Layup were on the other end on the rail. Soon, other characters joined the action, even though it was a cold table.

A couple joined Wiz and Layup - can't remember the guy; the lady was about 25, wearing all black and weighed no more than 95 pounds and was about 4'11". The first word that came to my mind about her was "malnourished". He tried to teach her the basics of the game, but she just looked so utterly lost.

One explanation - believed by some in our group- was that she was one of those girls that escaped from the basement in that Cleveland house and is experiencing outside life for the first time. This is the first time she may have seen natural lighting in years! Does she need help? Should we call the police? " If you need help, roll a hard 6" was the text of the night.

Separately, a granola-like girl came up between Mike D and I; she probably had Birkenstocks on. We were setting lines on her native state (Vermont? Oregon? connecticut?) but she left before we were able to ask her.

Of course, while all this was going on, we lost track of that fact that no one on the damn table could roll - not even the Down's syndrome patient - and we all got our asses handed to us.

Many of us took a timeout to play Pai Gow; a few hours later, Leland and I found ourselves at a craps table (on opposite sides of the table, our customary location), and the table started to heat up. Points left and right; Leland rolled extremely well and was a "2" away from the all small; I hit some points, even though an idiot next to Leland kept reaching in late and I hit him twice in the arm with the dice.

While I was rolling, Mike D came up and was asking how things were going; I promptly gave him a two-handed shove that sent him backward 5 feet. He got the message. (I apologized later).

One more UTH session was in store - was that with Ruth? - and it was a winner..I think the day ended around 1:30 or 2:00.......when we went to bed at that moment, Johnny Manziel was still a member of the Cleveland Browns and Mayor McCheese was simply a fictional character from McDonald's commercials......

Vegas 2016, Part 1

Wednesday, March 9

The alarm went off at around 3:15 am in Cincinnati for the official start of the 2016 Vegas trip. Actually, the official trip started the night before, with Wiz and Layup getting there Tuesday night - they tried unsuccessfully to get any of us to join them on Tuesday. I picked up Don at the ungodly hour of 4:15 and made our way to the airport; 8 hours later we landed in Las Vegas. That's when we met up with the taxi driver from hell.

First round of golf in Vegas was just Don and I at an old favorite, Royal Links. Had the course to ourselves, and played in about 3 1/2. Of course, had a breakfast burrito which helped me shoot a cool 78 and beat Don outright. (It included back to back birdies on the front). That was the highlight of golf for the trip. The sports betting highlight also occurred that day; one of my big picks was Utah St in the 8-9 MWC first round against a fading Wyoming team. The Aggies were giving 2; 10 minutes into the game, it was 40-11 Utah St. Never a doubt as we got the first winner of the trip.

More taxi problems getting back; none of us had Uber, so we had the course call for a taxi - BIG mistake. 45 minute wait for the taxi, and we had plenty of traffic problems getting to the strip. I wanted to be back gambling by 3, but it turned out to be around 5 when I was finally checked in and ready to play.

First gambling? Of course - UTH! The UTH table is the first thing you see as you enter the casino from the atrium at the Mirage; Wiz, Layup and Dan the pit boss were there to greet us as we entered. The first UTH session was a bad one as we waited for the other 4 to arrive. I have it documented that we went over to the craps table as well before dinner - and that went horribly; we all got smoked and I didn't even get a chance to roll before getting wiped out.

By about 6, all of us had arrived; Mike D and Mike A from Cincinnati, and Leland from DC. First dinner of the trip is at Heritage as we all sit at the bar. Of course, we (Wiz, Layup and I) desperately search for something to wager on during dinner; we have the final ACC first round game between Va Tech and Florida State. Over under line is like 160; the under is a lock! These teams can't shoot!

The end result? I was in perfect midseason form with that pick. 

After dinner, all of us found an open UTH table and thus the trip fully began. The one issue with this trip; there are only 6 seats at UTH but 7 of us. Not sure who sat out for this first round. I went upstairs quickly after dinner and came back to UTH - maybe I was the one who was late and had to sit out- and I already found Layup and Wiz rolling their eyes.

Why? I guess there was a rookie pit boss who rarely handled markers. Soon after I got there, the pit boss came with the clipboard and had Layup sign the marker - and I heard grumbling like "did you get it right this time?" I looked down and all I can see are all sorts of crossed off names and numbers. This was the third time Layup had to sign something for a single marker.

Even after that, they did NOT get it right this time as the pit boss came back a fourth time for one last cleanup of the documents for the single marker.

The session - for me- went well; hit quad 3's on one hand that floated me for the night. After UTH, some of us (not sure who) played more craps; I was forced to be in a spot on the rail (I hate the rail) and promptly got shellacked. It was 11 pm Vegas time - I've been up for almost 24 hours; it was time for bed.

Two changes for this trip that were in effect on Wednesday:

1. The Mirage isn't giving out Fiji to just anyone anymore! Apparently, you have to have the platinum card in order to get the Fiji bottle water. If you have just gold - too bad! House water for you! This rule was certainly put in place to make snobs like Layup and Wiz feel superior...... I just with the house water would be in bigger bottles; the give out the house water now in 4 oz bottles that you can drink in a single gulp.

2. Parlay changes! Since some of the group loves money line picks for games, we went to a two tiered system for the daily parlay for the group. The original pick with the line is still there, with the cost reduced to $10 a man; we set up a second parlay with just money line picks (up to -300) for $20 each. Theoretically, the second one should be easier to hit and we would have more people being stuck with dinner bills as parlay tickets for the money line picks would go 6-1. Not sure if the group liked the change; mostly it worked well getting everyone bets in on time.

Jul 10, 2016

Hi! Welcome to Vegas 2016!

Hi! How are you guys doing? Hop in the taxi. Where can I take you? Royal Links? Sure, I know where that is.

Where are you guys from? Ohio, huh? I'm from the Midwest. Chicago. Well, actually, I was  born there. Been out here now for 22 years. Taxi driver for all of them. Love my job! It's so interesting, and I get to meet a wide variety of people.

Do you want to hear some stories? Great! People ask me what was one of the weirdest rides I had. Hoo boy! That's a tough one! So many good ones. There was this one time when I was at - oh, where was it? The Riviera? Sands? Anyway, a older gentleman got in the car - real nice guy, turns out he was an executive for a company you have heard of. You know tires? Yeah! This guy was the chairman of Dunlop Tires! He was eccentric. Talked a lot - we had a great time! - and during the trip, he asked to pull into a liquor store. Now, here's a 60 year old guy! What does he want in a liquor store?

Then he asked ME what I like! Well heck, I wasn't going to ask for just beer...I told him I like to imbibe in a little vodka now and then....well, he goes into the store and comes out with two plastic bags full of bottles.

He gives a whole bag to me! And there were good bottles in there- like Smirnoff! I said to him, "well, what is this for?" He enjoyed my company so much, he wanted to share this with me !
Well, golly, I had to call my wife right then!. "Honey, you won't believe this, but we are going drinking tonight! No, we aren't going out! That's the craziest thing! We're drinking in!" The executive got on the phone and talked to my wife as well - that was one crazy ride. I think he died 5 years ago or something.

Celebrities? You're asking about what famous celebrities I got to drive? Well, I'll tell you - this was in the 90s, One of the big heartthrobs from that day - Tom Selleck!  Oh my, he is my wife's favorite television star. Well, guess what! I was at the MGM one day, and guess who walks into my cab. Mr. Tom Selleck! I was cool, "hello, Mr. Selleck", but halfway through the route I had to ask him a favor.

"Mr. Selleck - can you call my wife and say hi? She loves you and this will make her week!"

And guess what? He did! He got on the phone - "Hi - is this Laura?" Laura didnt know what the heck was going on - but when Tom introdcued himself - hoo boy! Even I could hear the shrieks! Tom was on the phone with her for about 2 minutes - what a great sport! He hung up and he said to me - "I think I'll send you the bill for the hearing aid - your wife's cream may have caused me to lose hearing!" Ha ha, what a kidder, that Tom! He left and left a nice tip.

Oh! You may be wondering if there are celebrities that don't tip well. Glad you asked! I made a run this one time - I think from Mandalay - and had to pick up that guy from The Best Damn Sports Show. Have you  seen it? It was on Fox for a while ...oh yeah! John Salley! This big black guy, 6'9", gets into my cab, and introduced himself. Nice guy ! He just wanted a ride to the Caesars. We made a little small talk....we got there rather quickly, The bill was $8 - and he gives me a $10. Now, what am I supposed to do with that? I had to say something. "Hey Mr. Salley....we make our living on tips, you know!" He smiled and said keep the change. He's John Salley! I expected something more than a $2 tip!

One more story - oh, I should have brought this up earlier. I usually work the day shift - get in at 6, leave at 2 - what a great time of day to drive the cab. Not a lot of crazies then! But some mornings, you get some people coming in from the night before, you know what I mean? I start one day off at 6 in the  morning - bright sunshine - and then these 3 girls get in the cab. They can't be more than 25 years old!

Well, they may have had too much to drink, I tihnk - and then they start getting chummy with me. Do you like the way we look, stuff like that. I had to tell them I'm married!

But then all of a sudden one of them asks me if she should get a boob job. A boob job! Now, my eyes are on the road, so I can't - you know - study the assets! Ha! But then she - right there in the cab! - opens her shirt and shows me her breast. "Do you think I need a boob job?"

Now, I'm so embarassed I can't speak! I tell her I don't think so - it looks good to me! We all have a good laugh at that one. They tipped nicely, and boy, did I have a good story to tell the wife when I got home that day!

Well, here we are at Royal Links. You two have fun golfing! I hope to have you in my cab sometime soon on this trip!

And that, my friends, is how the Vegas 2016 trip got started for Don and myself.  I knew we were in for a peculiar trip after that opening cab ride.....

Apr 11, 2016

About last night

Last night, my "FWB" texts me and wants a favor.  I'm watching the Masters and don't particularly want to leave the house.  After much pointless texting, it becomes apparent that she wants "benefits".  "Sure, come over," I text.  Now, she can be a little annoying.  Actually, really annoying.  The last time we talked, I got irritated and told her to "Shut the fuck up".  So, I hadn't heard from her in 2 months.  She arrives at the house a couple hours later...with her dog.  Her dog is a medium sized dog and usually sleeps with us.  I've been single for 4 years now and I'm starting to find my little pug and dickhead cat annoying in bed with me.  But, what's the harm?  I get some "benefits" at the cost of little sleep.

Fast forward to the middle of the night.  Her dog keeps drinking out of the 10 or 15 times and I'm thinking this dog is going to piss in my house.  If only, that was the case.  6:30 AM, I wake up and am like "What is that smell?"  I look up and the dog has shit on the carpet.  And it reeks.  My "WTF is that" wakes the "FWB" up.  I explain and she starts cleaning up after her dog.  Now, I go downstairs looking for the piss that I'm sure to find.  Nothing.  But, the smell is even worse down here.  I get the flashlight out and begin searching.  And there it is, in my dining room, the biggest pile of green dog shit I've ever seen.  Just thinking of the smell, is causing me to dry heave as I type.

Apparently, the "FWB" had had a Sunday Funday brunch at her house.  And, her lovely friends had been feeding this poor dog people food all day long and I became the benefactor of that.  I guess this is why the dog was so thirsty.  On the bright side, no piss was found...just steaming piles of shit.

So goes, the single life of a 47 year old...

Mar 1, 2016

March 1st- Vegas thoughts

Happy March 1st everyone.  I've now transitioned from guilt ridden and stressed out to extremely excited and can't focus on work right now.   This past weekend I took the kids camping and spent some quality time with them at the beach which seemed to ease some of the concerns of not being around for the next 3 weeks.  The stress is also subsiding with a great run of 12-3 in NHL in the last two weeks coupled with some optimism at work. The confidence level is rising with less than a week to go, which is good.  With that, I was teaching Wyatt how to calmly roll the dice and not just sling it across the room.   I think I have a new technique that might change my rolling luck of the last two years.   

Last night I was thinking about goals for the trip and then there was some chatter around if certain things will happen, so I will put REALISTIC lines on some things that I want to do and what others have already said might happen. 

  1. Can Derek not drink for one 16 hour gambling session? +2000- this is real folks.  I'm going to see if I can do it and how it impacts my gambling.  I might just go to a water park or go on a field trip one afternoon. 
  2. Will there be a $15 craps table at 9:00pm on Friday at the Mirage?  -110- money has already been placed on this. 
  3. Will Tanya have our rooms correct? Yes +350/No -120.  She is the worst, but I have to admit I might of gone back to her at least 5-6 times to change the reservation. 
  4. Over/Under on the time is takes Eric to first complain about being overbooked, despite being advised that he was overbooking himself?  12 hours. Under -150
  5. Will someone yell at John to deal the cards?  Yes -135/No +450.   Lee, get ready for the worst dealer at the Mirage.
  6. Over/Under on the number of craps points hit for the trip: (must play at least 1 time for bet to be active)
    1. Wiz- 22
    2. Eric- 24 (not due to him being the best roller, but due to sheer volume of his play)
    3. Lee- 12
    4. Derek- 8.5
    5. Mike D- 10
    6. Mike A- off the board.  Will set line once I see his first craps roll. 
    7. Don- 10
  7. Over/Under- Derek's total number of missed All Tall/All or Nothing bets because he has to run to the bathroom and one of them hits.  1
  8. Over/Under on the number of Baccarat sessions for Eric. 5.5- note Eric said he hates Baccarat, but we all know he can’t help himself.  He loves the old ladies in that room.
  9. Over/Under on the number of Salon sessions for Eric. 1.5
  10. Over/Under on the number of markers Wiz will have outstanding at ONE table during ONE session. 2.5.  I’m giddy about this one J
  11. Will we have a UTH table designated “Reserve”?  Yes -175/No +200.  I think we are the only assholes to ask the pit boss to increase the limits so that we keep the idiots away.  It worked in July.
  12. Over/Under on Lee’s visits to the special pool section.  1.5
  13. Will there be an altercation at a table?  Yes -175/No +150,  There were 2 last year.  It all depends on what convention is out there this year.  Oh. Just googled it and we have 3 this year.  Western Veterinary Conference, National Association of Pizzeria Operators, Nightclub and Bar expo, and the Wedding/Portrait Photographers expo.  Interesting
  14. Will Derek bet on/against Marquette?  Yes +600/No-1000.  I’ve held true to my New Year’s resolution of not betting a game that involves Marquette. My hatred for Wojo has blinded me on this team so I’ve stayed away.  As Eric pointed out last night, the list for all of us is growing way to quickly on teams that we hate and can’t figure out.  Texas, Iowa State, and Iowa are approaching this segment.  
  15. Will the majority of the groups picks for the golf pool miss the cut?  Yes +350/ No -400
  16. Will we get a result of 6-1 or 7-0 on our daily college basketball parlay ticket?  Yes +700/ No -1000.
  17. Will there be a single bet placed at a casino outside of the Mirage?  Yes+200/No -250
  18. Will Wiz over tip for bad service at a restaurant? Off the board


Feb 29, 2016

Vegas 2016 Prep

Well hello out there! Today is the 5th anniversary of Janice and I's was a cold and dreary February day in 1996 when I got down on my knee on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River. It doesn't get much more romantic than that.

To celebrate, we (just the two of us) had a wonderful brunch at the Omni hotel downtown. Randomly bumped into another couple we knew and the four of us spent 2 1/2 hours pigging out.  Nothing like a 4,000 calorie meal at 11 am. What came after dessert? Another helping of Prime Rib! I'm still stuffed now and I haven't eaten anything since that meal. (Maybe that explain why I didn't sleep well and am up at this hour? )

That buffet certainly got my stomach ready for the Vegas trip, now just 9 days away. Need to get my game plan/strategy in order as well for the trip. Some notes to ponder as we get closer to the start:

- Loved Layup's previous post about this innermost feelings for the trip. I, too, am a little nervous about bankroll. We've got a lot of things going on this year - Spring Break trip, the golf trip to Ireland, and other things - and of course a bad college basketball season. It all adds up - quickly. And I don't have the ex-pat salary cushion anymore. ( I know, cry me a river...)

- Instead of setting loss limits on game, I like to make sure I know what I will take into a session for each game and my initial betting strategy. This, of course, will change on conditions such as time of day, alcohol intake, and general moods. But here is my initial plan for each game:

1. Craps - the hardest to figure out. Assuming a $15 table, we have:
   - pass line with double odds ($45)
   - 6 and 8 for $18 each ($36)
   - a $5 lotto ticket on the all small
   - hard 4/10 when the point is 4 / 10 (I know, awful...)

That's $86 per roller; if the point is 6 or 8, I may do a come bet instead of a 2nd place bet; this will get us to about $100 per roller..... ugh.

I think we need 7-8x the roller outlay as a bankroll, so we are talking $750 for a $15 table.

I'm looking forward to craps at the Mirage - I hate playing craps down here at the Horseshoe; I don't think I have ever come close to winning money. The thrill of the all small and a parlayed hardway just can't be beat.

What do I do at a $25 table?
  - pass line with double odds ($75)
  - 6 and 8 for $30 each ($60)
  - $5 all small
that's $140; 7x$140 = $980 so $1000 for those sessions.

By the way, we are flying through the craps curriculum here at the house with the two older boys. Freddie and Warren are now on the Craps 302 course, covering advanced topics such as:

 - What does 3-4-5 odds mean and how can you get more money on the table if you are limited by the odds
 -  What are the proper don't pass odds
 - What does "off and on" mean
 - How to ignore your dad when he is hustling for tips at the table.

It's fascinating to watch their strategies. Freddie, who is very conservative with his money, will always press his 6 and 8, while Warren - who bets $100 fields regularly - will always say "same bet" with his place bets.

2. UTH: Not much to say here. I think my baseline of 40x the ante bet is good for a session. So $600 for a conservative $15 game, $1000 for a $25 games. This has worked in the past; you can run out quickly if you get killed, but for the most part, it's ok. That's 6-7 "4x" loss hands.

3. Blackjack: Ugh. I'd like to play more blackjack on the main floor this trip - $25/$50 tables. I'm comfortable with 20x the minimum bet here. $500 for $25, $1000 for $50. Really don't want to go higher than that...... (I'll just stop here).

4. Baccarat. Double ugh. I do love this game, but this is getting expensive. (I went through my records - holy crap, what happened in 2014????? How did I lose that much money in baccarat? need to read the blog). 8-10x minimum bet is usually good, but that can get wiped out in 2 minutes with bad cards. Can we stay away ? (no...... I'll drag Mike A into this and blame him)

5. Pai Gow - this is the opposite of Craps for me at the Horseshoe. I usually have good luck at the Horseshoe with Pai Gow - mainly because I actually stay at the table when playing (how's that for an idea, Layup?) - but can't catch any cards at the Mirage, especially against John. I won't play with him at night - just too painful - but in the morning or for a break in the afternoon, yes, I'm sure I will play. I'm thinking 8-10x bet is a good enough bankroll here. So for $50 hands, $400 is fine.

6. Sports betting. I need to REALLY re-evaluate what I am doing here. This on-line account has been problematic. For the Vegas trip, it's all fun and games if you go to the window during the week and bet 87 games * go 40-47 and incur a small loss, and it's a lot of fun.

However, you do that 5-6 days a week (taking off on Friday), and it really wears you down. I can't get out of the "smorgasbord" attitude I have - oooooh look, there's a 1 pm OVC game today! - and just focus. I need to just pick the 3-5 games a day (or, 3-5 in afternoon and 3-5 in evening) and shoot for those. No more picking 20 games a day.

(* - that is a slight exaggeration, but only by a little. I'm sure there have been trips where I placed over 50 wagers across 4 days).

Planning to play golf 3 of the 5 days will be good - will allow me to get out of the casino for a bit and then focus on the sessions later that day ( or early, before golf). I don't think it's healthy to spend 24 hours in the casino each and every day (which is what we did last year).

I know a lot of these plans will be thrown out the window once the drinks start flowing and the all smalls start hitting - but I firmly believe you need to have a base strategy to start with and then adjust on the fly.

(Oh - drinks - I think I need to add to my drink choices, esp at UTH. What the hell should I drink while at a 4 hour UTH session? Rum and cokes? Vodka Lemonades? Tom Collins can only take you so far....)

Feb 23, 2016

Vegas March 2016

With two weeks left until our 19th annual trip to Vegas, I’m starting to get a little nervous.  The usual excitement that I have for the Vegas trip has been replaced by guilt and stress.  The guilt comes from my upcoming travel schedule.  I head to Vegas on Mar 8th and I don’t get back home until Mar 26th.  I have to fly out from Vegas on Sunday to Thailand, Malaysia, and Japan for two weeks for work, so I’ll be away from the family for 3 weeks.   For the first time ever, Carol mentioned that maybe I should head back from Vegas on Friday so that I can spend one day with the kids before heading out.   Yeah, I’m not prepared to do that just yet. So I’ll be flying out of Vegas at 7:00am to LAX, so catch my connection to Bangkok at 10:50am.  Nothing like a 20+ hour flight right after Vegas.

The stress comes from the bankroll.   College Basketball has been a disaster in Nov-Dec causing my Vegas bankroll to go down a significant amount.   I have rebounded in Jan-Feb, but not even close enough to make back any money.  Couple that with a 50/50 chance of me losing my job since AIG is a disaster, my annual bonus still up in the air, the market kicking me in the ass, and my last big trip to Vegas last July, where I got absolutely destroyed, my confidence level is at a new low and my stress level is at a new high.  If I start out ice cold on Tuesday evening in Vegas, I know I could become gun shy which is never fun or a good thing when it comes to gambling.    

Last year, I had the great success for the trip.  I played responsible for the most part and adhered to my strategy, and came back up for the trip.  Trying to read my notes from last year and while I had some very weak moments, I was able to minimize my losses and take profits when I was hot.   A couple of initial thoughts about what I need to continue to focus on for this trip:

·         Loss Limits-  This is more like a bankroll for a session.  I feel comfortable on what I take to the table now for a bankroll. 
o   Craps-  $1500 at a $15 table limit and $2000 for a $25 table limit
o   UTH- $1500 for a $25 table limit
o   Roulette- Don’t really play this anymore, but just in case it will be $300. 
o   Black Jack-Salon- This is really the only one I struggle with.  I really don’t like taking $2000 for the session.  Don’t know why, but this is the right amount. 
o   Baccarat- $1000-  Its not the loss limit that is the problem here.  Its my pressing and betting strategy.  Need to read up on this before going back out.
o   Pai Gow- $500-  I really hate playing this game now.  Maybe it’s because I have ZERO strategy on pressing or how to make money.  Or maybe I just hate the game now.  I won’t play this game by myself, and its only fun if we have a full table and we tend to be drunk.  Other than that, I feel like I’m on a time out whenever I play this.
·         Win Limits-  Wiz sort of drilled this into me two years ago and it really helps out to take profits when you get hot.   A pre-defined win limit just like a loss limit before you sit down at the table.  And you have to be prepared to pick up the instant you hit that win limit and not dick around.  I remember Wiz did this to me for the first time in the middle of the shoe in the Salon two years ago.   I was upset at first, but I now understand how important it is to pick up the instant you hit this limit.   For example, in July, Wiz and I sat down in the Salon for some afternoon BJ.   I set a win limit of $2k.  In the middle of the FIRST shoe, I hit my win limit.  I must of won the first 10-15 hands and I was pressing.   I decided that I would wait until the end of the FIRST shoe and if I was up $2k I would pick up.  Well guess what happened.   The second half of the shoe got cold and I was only up $1,500.  I decided that I would stay since I wasn’t at my win limit anymore.   3 markers later, I picked up down a ton and just sooo upset at what happened.  While this is an extreme example, I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me at Craps.   Win Limits have really helped me get away from the table with money and reset.   Other than the July incident, I have followed this frequently and has helped out tremendously on taking profits.
o   Craps- I think this is probably where Win Limits come into play the most.  I’m up a decent amount of money after a solid roll and I stay at the table to either roll or say that I’m going to leave after the next roll, or something like that.  Next thing you know you have given back some of the profits or all of the profits which leads to staying at the table longer.  I’ve set my win limits to $2k-$3k depending on the time and who I’m playing with.   If I hit my win limit in the middle of a roll, I will limit what additional money I put on the table. 
o   UTH- depending on the time and who I’m playing with it will be $2k-$4k.  
o   Salon- this is really tough and need to hammer out before I sit down.  I have gone on huge runs in the salon to where I’ve won $5k-$6k multiple times. So the x1 or x1.5 my bankroll wouldn’t of allowed me to go on some of those runs.  
o   Baccarat- No clue on this.   Just like the salon, I have gone on massive runs in the $5k-$6k arena on several different occasions.   Not too sure how important this is, since I don’t tend to bleed back profits in this game.   Since I’m not a huge fan of the game, I have no problem picking up after a hot run.  Might just set it at $5K. 
o   Roulette/Pai Gow-  Ugh.  Whatever.  If I’m playing these games, its on such an infrequent basis and with small amounts, so I haven’t even thought about it.   I will say that its to double my bankroll in a session. 
·         Sports gambling-  A couple of key things that worked for me last year:
o   Don’t be afraid to max out on games I love!  Can’t just bet the same amount on the games I love and games I have a small lean on.  
o   For games I have a small lean on but still want to wager, I need to knock my amount down by 75%.   This allows me to still have action on that game, but won’t eat into my bankroll in a large way.
o   2nd half wagering- Continue to either make double up or hedge out of overall wagering based on 2nd half lines. I can’t be afraid to hedge out, pay the juice and wait for the next game.  I don’t do a lot of this, but need to be OK with admitting I made the wrong decision and I now have an opportunity to get out of it.
o   Moneyline wagering on favorites-   Continue with this strategy. It seems to be working.
o   Limit Moneyline parlays-  I tend to do 2 or 3 team ML parlays since I don’t like to lay so much money on the favorite.  These tend not to work out, so I need to stay away from this.

·         Drinking-  So I’m trying not to drink so much beer over the past 3-4 years.   So at home I tend to drink Vodka or Scotch.  This works out well at home since I have a couple of drinks and I can call it a night.  But in Vegas, where I might be drinking for 8-10 hours, vodka is a bad bad bad choice and beer would be better suited.  Need to figure out what will be my go to drink.  Vodka lemonades have not treated me well in Vegas.   

I'm hoping to get some more posts over the next two weeks.  If you want to waste 4 hours of your day, go back and read the 10 years of Vegas posts.  They are classic.   

Jan 3, 2016

NFL Week 17: The Price is Right

Here it comes! Television's most exciting hour of fantastic prizes - the 60-minute Price is Right!

We save the best for last - the defining game show for me in the 1980s (and some of the 70s and 90s!) - The Price is Right. Will there ever be a more perfect game show invented? I say no. It combines game theory, strategy, probability, commercial placement of products (the most important?), luck, and not-simple math. Could anything else be more up my alley?

I won't bore you with the details of how the game works. Let's just dive right in to random thoughts on each part of the game:

One-bid (this is what the call the part where the 4 contestants bid for the right to get on stage)

- if you get called as one of the 4 in the opening sequence, you just have to go into place #4, right?
- or maybe you go into place 3 - since the 2nd pricing game tends to have the car - so if you assume #4 wins the first bid, then you are the last bidder for the second game!
- so many times the last bidder plays it completely wrong. If the highest bid of the 3 is $950, I see the last bidder bid $925 or something. WTF is wrong with you?
- In the 80s, it was perfectly normal for women - and men - to reach into Bob's pants pockets for a $100 bill if they got the bid exactly right. I think the Clarence Thomas hearings in 1992 ended this practice on TPIR.
- The $1 bid! I loved that. I would have been the ass that would have bid $47 or something like that - same idea, but more creative.
- Have we ever seen a $2 bid on top of someone's $1 bid? I'll have to search for that...

(Note: Here it is! -ed)

- The look on contestant's faces when someone bids $901 on top of their $900....priceless!

Pricing Games 
I did a whole year's worth of NFL picks with my favorite pricing games earlier in 2006 so no need to review them here. Some notes, in random order:
- Plinko is overrated. Completely brainless.  There, I said it.
- Love "Any Number". All numbers 0-9, included.
- If the Bonus Game is ever played again, that producer should be fired. Or else there are time constraints and they only have 45 seconds for a pricing game.
- I Love the Blank Check game! I was one of 4 people who liked that in 1984.
 - Clock Game - who could forget the strategy there? Couting up or down so quickly like Joe Isuzu.
- Cliff Hangers! The music!
- Love the Dice Game! Roll it over the line!
- Golden Road - I called Layup into the room whenever Golden Road was on.
- The Grocery Game was good in 1976, not useful now.
- Hole in One - or Two! I think the hole here is 2x the size of a real golf hole.
- Lucky Seven - Should you just guess "5" after the first number? Sometimes they throw a "9" in there so the "5" strategy won't work....
- One Away is in the top 5 games invented. Perfect.
- They need to somehow bring "Pathfinder" to a Vegas casino. Perfect drinking game.
- The Race Game! 45 seconds of people running around the stage! Any liabilities here from an insurance standpoint?
- How did they get the Pink Panther music for Safe Crackers?
- Need more Switcheroo in  my life
- People were complete idiots at Ten Chances. Too much thinking for the hyped up contestants.
- 3 strikes! Love the idea of placing the numbers in addition to pulling them out of the bag....

Showcase Showdown
I think at one point in my life, I memorized the order of the numbers on the big wheel...$1.00, 15, 80, 20.....after a few minutes of a refresher, I could do it again.
One of the most fun moments from our Vegas trip was me setting the line of the winning score at a random Showcase Showdown and getting those suckers Wiz and Layup to fall for the sucker side! Ha ha! It was under 87.5!
So - statistics question. You are the 2nd person to spin. The first guy has gone over. You get a .45. What do you do? Spin again, and risk the over? Or stand with a measly 45? What if it is a 60? Where is the breaking point?

To me, the showcase was anticlimatic. Not too much drama - and the difficulty of winning a double showcase. I mean, NO ONE got within $250 of the actual price in a showcase? I did try to do the math and add up the prizes to come up with a total - but that never worked. When I was in a bad mood, I loved to wish for the double showcase loser - both contestants bidding over. Happened about twice a month!

Loved the Astericks theme on the platforms! Perfect 1970s motifs that lived well into the 90s.

Of course, the hosts were perfect here. Can anyone do a better job at this game than Bob? And, for me, he had the perfect side host with Rod Roddy. Rod, of course, is my role model for color choices with my golf outfits.

That brings us to the end of the 1980s game show review....and that means one thing:

"Help control the pet population...have your pets spayed or neutered!"

You should also have your quarterback spayed and neutered, just in case. Oh Johnny.....

On to the games, quick predictions:

Atl 27, NO 24
NYJ 24, Buf 16. I think the Jets are focused enough to win this.
Chi 26, Det 24
Bal 23, Cin 20. Cincinnati may be playing it safe here after McCarron got banged up.
Pit 47, Cle 3. Am I predicting too close of a game?
Dal 20, Was 13. No motivation at all for the Skins.
Hou 27, Jax 13. Can't see the Jags putting up a fight here.
Ten 20, Ind 17. Josh Freeman as QB?
NE 27, Mia 17. Belicheck will pull it back at halftime.
Phi 26, NYG 17. The Eagles will be motivated without Kelly.
Car 24, TB 13
KC 24, Oak 23
Sea 27, Az 24. I don't think the Seahawks want to be embarrassed again.
Den 23, SD 10
StL 21, SF 17
GB 24, Min 21. No idea here.

Best bets; 11 of them. Last week: 8-6; overall: 117-96-7
NYJ -3
Bal +9.5
Pit -10.5
Dal -4
Hou -6.5
Ten (no line yet)
Phi +5.5
Tb/Car under 45.5
Oak +7
Sea +6.5
SD/Den under 42

Supercontest: need 3-2 to hit .500. What a disappointing finish! Last week: 3-2; overall: 39-40-1
Bal +9
Pit -10.5
Phi +3
Oak +6.5
Sea +6.5

Dec 27, 2015

NFL Week 16: Card Sharks

Aces are high
Deuces are low
Call it right
And win the Dough!
Ooooooooooon.......Card Sharks!

Why hasn't this game made a comeback? It's a game show so good, they made it twice in the 1980s - Card Sharks! What a great game. It's a good mix of Family Feud, mathematics, strategy and gambling all rolled into one. And the bonus round is easy enough to recreate with your 5-year old kid!

The main game is simple - there are five cards for each player laid out end to end. To win the game, you have to get to the end of the row successfully, calling each card "higher" or "lower" than the previous one. But before you can guess "higher" or "lower", you have to get control of the cards - and that is done with a survey question.

The survey questions are asked of 100 people that are of the same "type" - married men, Playboy bunnies, priests, etc.  - and it's a general form of "Have you ever.....". For example, a survey was done of 100 priests  and they were asked  - have you ever placed a bet at a race track?
The first contestant makes a guess at how many of those 100 priests said yes; the second contestant then predicted if the real answer was higher or lower than the guess. The answer is revealed; if the second contestant is right, he gets control; if not, the first contestant gets control.

Once they get control of the board, they can choose to change their "base card" - starting card - and then off they go with the guesses. They can stop and "freeze" at any time, and then the turn ends and a new survey question is asked. If they get a guess wrong, control goes to the other opponent. A player wins a game when they get through all 5 cards successfully; 2 out of 3 games are needed to win the match and go to the bonus round.

The strategy here is trying to figure out the percentages and when to change base cards. Aces are high, 2s are low, so the "middle" card is an 8. If your base card is 8 - or 7 or 9 - you definitely want to change. But what about a 6? Jack? 5? Tough choices!

The bonus game is where the great excitement for the game is - it's called the "Money Cards". It's a board with three rows - three spots on the bottom 2 rows and a single spot at the top. You start with $200 and have to risk at least $50 on each spot, guessing higher or lower. You can bet it all at any time, if you want. You continue for the three cards in the first row - and, if you survive, you get a $200 bonus to start the 2nd row and continue on. At the top, for the "big bet", you must bet at least half of your "pot". You can change cards at any time at the beginning of each row.

This is where a young Eric first learned of compounding interest! You start with $200 and can end up with $28,800 by doubling it each time! Easy as pie! I re-created this game with Layup as kids and now are teaching the boys how to play. Of course, Warren is usually the winner.

Cards Sharks appeared twice on TV, once from 1978-82 with our good friend Jim Perry. He was the perfect host for this - asked the survey questions with the right tone, and was able to create the right level of drama with the Money Cards. Card Sharks came back in 1986 with Bob Eubanks - the new show had a few more bells and whistles (cars, etc.) that seemed contrived - and personally, I just wasn't a fan of Eubanks hosting this version. Nothing could replace Jim Perry.

This show has a place in our Vegas history - in our 2006 trip, we found that the MGM casino has a table game based on Card Sharks. The rules are here (from Wizard of Odds)....our friend Don cashed out with a black chip (described here from some primitive Vegas diaries from 2006!).

The matron saint of our Vegas trip - or should I say "Holy Godmother" - is Norma Brown. Click this link for 3 minutes of your time that is well worth it. 

And - if your luck is going bad, cheer up - you could be this poor soul. When I first found this video, I wondered what would have happened if Layup was the contestant here.

What more to say about the Browns? I like what I see from Johnny right now....he is starting to be more comfortable in the pocket and yet scramble when needed...the team is starting, slowly, to respond to him (don't worry about the 4,562 drops in the Seattle game). He's like a "6" in Card Sharks. Do we keep the card and guess "higher"? Or change it? I think, at this point, we keep him and gamble. I've seen enough to give him 2016.....

On to the games:

Car 24, Atl 17. I don't see how a de-motivated Falcons team stands in the way.

Buf 27, Dal 10. Talking about motivation - Dallas is done for the year and I can't see them amping up for this game. Kellen Moore on the road against the Bills, coming home after 2 road games?

SF 23, Det 20. Monday night hangover, and I think SF's defense is playing better.

Ind 20, Mia 13. Again, the key here is to find teams that have packed it in. Have you watched Miami against the Giants and then at the Chargers? They are done.

NYJ 20, NE 17. Maybe this is a hopeful guess, but since the first game went over, I think this one will stay under the total - and an "under" game is good for the Jets.

TB 30, Chi 17. A .500 team will prove their worth against a Chicago team that has lost 3 in a row to fade out of contention.

Ten 22, Hou 20. I can bet against Brandon Weeden - on the road - and get points, too??

Pit 31, Bal 20. Almost an impossible game to handicap. What is the motivation for Baltimore? I know it's a rivalry, but they have nothing! And yet, I hesitate to lay the 10 points.

Jax 27, NO 17. Why did I fall for the Saints last week? Their defense is not getting better this year...I know Brees is starting, but I think the wrong team is favored.

Az 30, GB 20. Still thinking Green Bay is a fraud here. They were gifted 14 points last week.

Sea 27, StL 13. The Rams don't have the weapons to take advantage of the Seahawks weakness. I know the Rams lines are good, but in Seattle? The Hawks will find a way to get ahead early.

Min 27, NYG 16. Just the perfect opponent forthe Vikes - the Vikes are a methodical, disciplined team - and their opponent is a undisciplined, erratic team out of the playoffs with their one weapon suspended.

Cin 19, Den 16. I think the Bengals will find a way to win this close game Monday in a classic.

Best bets: 14 of them. Last week: 8-5-1; overall: 109-90-7
Car/Atl under 47
Buf -6.5
SF +9.5
Ind +2.5
Ind/Mia under 44
NYJ +3
NE/NYJ under 45
TB -3.5
Ten +4
Jax +2.5
Jax/NO under 52
Az -4.5
Min -7
Cin +3

Supercontest: last week: 3-2; overall: 36-38-1
Buf -6.5
SF +9.5
Ind +1.5
Ten +4
Cin +3.5