Oct 11, 2015

NFL Week 5: Classic Concentration

"Behind these numbers is a puzzle. Can you solve it? If you can do that, you'll have a chance to win a brand new car as we play Classic Concentration!"

Yes, in the 1980s, NBC aired a remake of the 50's and 60's classic Concentration for 5 years. The old version - from 1958 to 1973 - is still NBC's longest running game show. I'm sure this will be passed soon by American Ninja Warriors. Hugh Downs was the first host!!!

Anyway, the game play is fairly simple - everyone remembers the game Memory, right? Well, 25 cards are shown on the screen; behind each card is a prize. You have to find the pairs of the prizes to win the prize, make a match and keep your turn. The prize cards are removed to reveal a "rebus" puzzle behind the board. You have to solve the puzzle to win the game. If you win 2 games, you go to the bonus round.

Everyone has seen these rebus puzzles, right? Here's an example. It always sucks to have a match on square 1(upper left) and 25 (lower right) - usually these are blanks. Thanks for the help!

The cards also contained "Take" cards, where you can take one of the prizes from your opponent. Crush your opponent by taking the prize that was Martha's dream trip to the Poconos!

Most of the prizes you can win in this stage were not all trips, but more middling prizes like those on "Price is Right"....Sewing Machine! CD player! VCR Machine! Answering machine! State of the art electronics from 1988.

The bonus round is where you really wanted to get to. 8 cars were in the showroom - and 15 cards were on the board; 7 pairs of cards and one "dummy". You then tried to match all 7 pairs of cars in 30 seconds to win a car.....The cars were a wide variety of makes and models; I'd hate to be the poor schmuck who successfully completed the bonus round and ended up with a Geo Metro.

Your host for the 1980s version of Concentration was Medic Alert's own Alex Trebek! Alex seems like a nice guy, but he can come off as smarmy too. If no one could solve the rebus, he's go up to the board and start explaining the puzzle. "Now, here, we have a head of a nail....that means Head....and down here we have a bunch of students near a board....C'mon people, buzz in! This is a class!  Head and class? Let's go!"

When searching for Alex, there were too many pictures of him in 1980s sweaters for me to post. Let me just leave you with an image you can't unsee: A promo ad for Concentration in Toledo. Yes, when I think sex symbols, I think of Alex Trebek.....

Speaking of concentration, is it that hard to concentrate on a defensive play and not jump offsides until the ball is snapped? Finding another way to lose- that's the new Browns mantra since 1999. I bet fans of other teams out there lose 1 game in their lifetime on an untimed down with 0:00 left. This is our 3rd in 15 years!

- we had a pass interference called against us in Detroit in '08; up 6 with :05 left, Detroit threw a semi-hail Mary from the 40; we pulled down a receiver and was called for it. With :00 left, Detroit had a play from the 1; they scored and kicked the extra point and they won, 38-37. I think this was the game where Brady Quinn threw for 400+ yards.
- of course, there's the grand daddy of all losses, the Dwayne Rudd game. I can't relive the details here again.

And now, add the offsides FG to San Diego to that list.

I'm encouraged by our offense, but our defense- supposedly our strength in the pre season - is absolutely horrid. Rob Ryan coaching for us would actually be an improvement.

On to the games:

Atl 27, Was 17.  I really like this Redskins team, but this is a horrible matchup for them. The Falcons are well balanced and can throw, and this is in Atlanta - if the Skins go down 10, you really see them coming back?

Cin 20, Sea 13. I keep thinking Cincy will throw in a stinker - but geez, Seattle is just not good. Chi and Det do not have good defenses - and Seattle can't score on them. If the Bengals play mediocre defense, they win easily.

GB 31, StL 20. I think I will pass on all Rams games for a while. Just not sure what you are going to get from them. Do we really trust Foles to be consisntent?

KC 26, Chi 17. If Cutler is in there- and I think he will play - the Bears are fairly good offensively. I'm not sure if Alex Smith and the Chiefs are built to score 30+ vs. anyone.

Phi 31, NO 17. I'm just shocked at how awful the Saints are offensively. And - bad spot for them; they had their emotional high last week in prime time at home needing a win. Now they go on the road and face a desperate Eagles team.

TB 27, Jax 16. Tampa has been moving the ball recently, and turnovers have been their doom. This is the third road game in a row for the Jags, and they don't have the ball hawking D to really hassle Winston.

Buf 20, Ten 13. I can't stop thinking about how much pressure we - the Browns - got against Mariota. We dominated their offensive line. What will Rex and that D do to them?

Az 27, Det 20. I can't see how the Lions scores many points! They can't run, and Az pass defense is excellent. If the Cards are a Super Bowl contender - I think they are - they should win this game on the road vs. an opponent on a short week.

Den 30, Oak 20. This should be the game where Peyton breaks out....Oak pass D is very bad, and Den should have success airing it out. Only way Denver loses is if they look ahead to next week's key game....

NE 27, Dal 20. No idea here. Seems to easy to think that the Pats will win by 20 here...but they may save it for next week vs. the Colts.

NYG 30, SF 19. San Fran will give up a lot of points to the Giants pass offense, but I don't think the Giants D is good enough to completely stifle the Niners O.

Pit 27, SD 24. OK, before we get to this game, let me get something off my chest. We're going to hear a LOT during this Monday night game about the Steeler fans and how well they travel. I will puke 4-5 times.
Look, we have a first hand account of last week where the Browns fans made up at least 40% of the Q in San Diego. Why doesn't that get any press?  Because our games are not in prime time. We travel just as well as these in bred toothless fans - if not better - but no one hears about since 1% of the nation watches. It makes me sick.
Anyway, I'm not impressed with San Diego at all. They are scraping by with smoke and mirrors. I can't believe I am putting faith in Tomlin to expose this.

Best bets: 12 of them. Last week: 11-2; overall: 34-21
Atl -6 1/2
Cin -3
Sea/Cin under 43 1/2
StL/GB over 45 1/2
Phi -6
TB -3
Buf pk
Buf/Ten under 42
Az -3
Den -4
SF/NYG over 43 1/2
Pit +4

One and only one underdog. I hated this week.

Supercontest: Last week: 5-0; overall: 14-6
Phi -4.5
TB -3
Buf -2.5
Az -2.5
Pit +3


Oct 4, 2015

NFL Week 4: Tattle Tales

"Everyone in this studio has a money stake in one of our famous couples....as we play the game of celebrity gossip...Tattle Tales! And now here's the star of our show, Bert Convy!"

I had to search the internet to re-acquaint myself with this game. This was another show that I watched infrequently in the 10:30 am time slot right before Price is Right, and being 11 years old, I never could really wrap my mind around these "celebrities" or the stories they were saying.

There were three pairs of celebrity couples- we'll get to that definition in a bit- that played for real money to be split among members of the audience. The couples were split up to begin, with the men on stage and the women gone to their "isolation" chamber so they couldn't hear the questions. Bert asked the men some questions about their lives, relationships, etc. - very much like the Newlywed Game - and their answers were recorded.

Then - and this was the fascinating part to me back then- a mini TV monitor turned on right below the man on stage....it was the woman of the couple wearing these big, enormous, 8-track-like headphones! She answered the question; if it matched, the team won points.

The roles were reversed, the men went backstage, questions were doubled, and the same shtick played out. Finally, the big bonus question was asked - for $300!!!. The overall winning section got an additional $1000........ and that was truly split up among the members of the audience in that section.

I guess I never really understood that growing up - the money for the questions were split up among the audience. How did that exactly work? Some comments about this:

- Let's say the winning section had a pot of $1400 or so. How many people are in each section? Look at the opening picture above. 10 people per row? 15 rows? 150 people? So that's $10 or so each? That's it? I guess fast food meals were $2.59 back then so it's  a dinner for your family at Arthur Treacher's or Burger Chef......  (hey Eric, this would be a good theme for the future...bygone 1970's/1980's fast food joints.... -ed). 

- What if your section didn't win? You are splitting up $375 among 150 of your closest friends... so you win $2.43? Yeah, thanks a lot, Soupy Sales.

- How did they actually get the money? Simple! Have your own check-printing machine on site!

Cash prizes on game shows are typically awarded to contestants in the form of a check, mailed weeks after a show has been taped. Because of the impracticality (e.g., postal costs) of doing this for an entire studio audience,Tattletales kept a check-cutting machine in the studio and distributed the money to the audience members on their way out immediately after the show.

Fascinating. That had to be a job for a horrible intern at CBS in 1981.

"Hey Mark Goodson, can I work on Price is Right this week?"
"No, Chet, you will be working with Mr. Convy over at Tattletales printing out checks for 400 people. And don't spell Mrs. Krzyzchewski's name wrong!!"

- Bert always called the yellow section as the "banana" section. That's so Bert...  and yes, sometimes he played the game himself so he could share stories. So guest hosts were frequently involved.

- Who were these "celebrities" that showed up and participated in this game? Usually, these were other game show hosts at the time....Allen Ludden...Orson Bean...Bob Barker and his wife was on....B-list actors were the main stay. Dick Gauthier....Leslie Nielsen .... William Shatner....even Tommy Lasorda was on.

- I bet you are asking yourself - hey, homosexuality was rampant in the 70's and 80's in Hollywood...did they have gay/lesbian couples on stage? Silly reader...of course they did not have the gay couples on stage; however, they did sometimes match up a gay man and a lesbian woman as a partner.... one example I found was Dick Sargent (from Bewitched) and Fannie Flagg was a team. Charles Nelson Reilly was also on this show at one point....

Obviously, I had to use this game show this week to relate it to all the celebrity gossip going on about my beloved Browns right now. TMZ is now involved! Someone in the Browns locker room is a mole for TMZ! Three - 3!! - unnamed players say they are pissed since they want Johnny to be our starter. Um, I'm sure someone said something about Johnny winning vs. Tennessee and they want to see him play some more to see what he can do. That somehow turned into a big spectacle. Why does TMZ think America cares about this? America's fascination with Johnny is very surprising to me.

I think we will see a good effort out of the Browns this week. McCown moved the ball several times vs. Oakland, and we shot ourself in the foot numerous times last week. If our front 7 can play as well today as they did vs. Tennessee, the Chargers decimated O-line may have an issue protecting Rviers....

(prediction: San Diego 41, Cleveland 3).

On to the games:

NYJ 24, Mia 10. Boy, it's hard to "un-see" the Dolphins game last weekend. Have they played any good halves yet this year? I think the Jets defense will force several Dolphins mistakes, and that's all that is needed.

Atl 27, Hou 17. Houston's offense is abysmal, and while Atlanta won't completely shut them out, the Falcons will score enough to win by double digits.

NYG 23, Buf 20. I still believe in Coughlin's coaching ability, and he will bring this game down to his level and try to out-ugly the Bills.

Chi 20, Oak 17. I just can't see the Raiders playing 3 good games in a row. Check out the Bears' schedule so far: GB, Arizona, Sea. What a start. No wonder people are rating them 32nd..let's wait until they play a mediocre team to see if they are really that bad.

Cin 20, KC 17. Should be a defensive affair, with both teams running for 150 yards.

Ind 27, Jax 26. Not sure yet about the status of Luck. However, the Colts' lines are mess. How will they protect Luck? How do they defend passes? I see lots of scoring here no matter who the QB is for Indy.

Car 23, TB 20. Carolina has not impressed me at all on the offensive side of the ball, but their D should be enough to win this game.

Was 23, Phi 20. I'm not convinced the Eagles are legit. Two bad games and a game where the Jets gave them several turnovers. If Cousins can limit the mistakes, the Skins win easily.

Az 26, StL 16. The Cards wil have to run to beat the Rams, and while that's not their best offensive plan, they should be able to stop the Rams' offense.

Den 27, Min 20. Could be an upset - but then I don't know how much faith I have in the Vikes - and Tedddy - in leading a possible 4th quarter comeback against that Denver D.

GB 31, SF 20. All right, all right, I'm scarred. Never again (at least for a while) will I bet against the Packers.

NO 31, Dal 23. This is the last stand for the Saints. 0-3, at home, on Sunday night, against a vulnerable defense to fast teams.....I can't see the Saints losing no matter who is QB.

Sea 20, Det 10. Two teams that are still overrated. Seattle can't move the ball, and neither can Detroit.

Best bets: 13 of them. Last week: 6-8; overall: 23-19.
NYJ -2
NYJ/Mia under 42
Atl -6
NYG +5
Chi +3
KC/Cin under 44
Jax +9
Was +3
Az -7
Min/Den over 42 1/2
GB -7.5
NO -3
Det/Sea under 43

Supercontest: Last week: 2-3; overall: 9-6. I hate these picks.
NYJ -1.5
Atl -6
Jax +9
Was +3
Chi +3

Sep 27, 2015

NFL Week 3: Press Your Luck

"These three players are after Big Bucks, but they will have to avoid the Whammy!, as they play the most exciting game of their lives!"

This will be one of the rare game show write-ups where I don't have to saw much about the game. Who doesn't know Press Your Luck? The game was always in four sections:

Part 1: 4 questions asked to get spins

Part 2: First time around the big board - prizes were awful at this stage ("a Sewing Machine!"). You use your spins to "randomly" stop the board on a prize square. If it is a Whammy, you lose everything!

Part 3: 4 more questions to get spins

Part 4: The final time at the big board; prizes here were 5x as nice as the first round.

The key square to stop on, of course, was the "BIG BUCKS" square - that sent you to the highest dollar value on the board. That caused a lot of yelling and hollering and jumping!

If you knew nothing about the 1980s, I think this game show explains a lot about popular culture at the time. Bright neon colors everywhere! Big hair for all the contestants! Never ending cash grabs! And the debut of Rod Roddy!

Who could forget the horrible sound effect music played when the board was in movement. "doo doo dee doo doo dee doo doo......" I'm sure this music was the inspiration for the robot dance craze of the 80s.

Peter Tomarken was a good host - I wouldn't call him excellent; he seemed way too smarmy at times. Also, if there was a contestant he didn't like, you could sense some joy in his narration when he said "STOP....at a Whammy......"

Speaking of Whammy, we all remember the 5 second animation "skits" that were played when the Whammy came up. An animated Whammy appeared on the player's scoreboard and made a cheesy saying ("I cannot tell a lie.... YOU LOSE!") or dressed up as Tina Turner to sing while your money was taken away. I have to admit, this did not go stale, as the writers came up with 30-40 skits at least to use when the Whammy appeared.

Anyway, some more random notes on Press Your Luck:

- You could pass your spins at any time; the person that received your passed spins had to take them. However even I couldn't figure out the rules on who they went to . If you were in 1st, the spins you pass would go to the person in 2nd....if you were in 2nd and you passed, the spins went to the person in 1st....I never understood that. If you were the guy in 3rd, I guess you were just screwed.

- This is one of the very few game shows without a bonus round at the end. I guess the producers thought the final round on the big board was climatic enough that no additional tension was needed. They were porbably right!

- If a contestant got 4 whammies over the two rounds, you were eliminated. So there was some strategy/risk in the first round if someone got 2 whammies. Do you keep going, or pass so you don't risk a 3rd whammy? Would love to have seen how Rich Kotite or Andy Reid would have handled this.

- Did you know someone figured out the "pattern" of the Press Your Luck screen? yes! An unemployed truck driver from Southwest Ohio (!!!!) memorized the pattern of the screen and was able to win $110,000 on an early episode. He is my hero! CBS tried to accuse him of cheating - but, of course, it's not cheating if you figure out the pattern of the lights! Here's the Wikipedia link for more.

- At the end of the show, Tomarken would read a poem sent in by a reader that referenced the whammys and was suppossedly "funny". The author was usually an 11-year old boy from Monkton, MD or a 43-year-old housewife from Peoria, IL.

Some may say the Browns are trying to Press their luck by bringing McCown back to start in Week 3 after Johnny's win last week. Are we going against our week 2 pattern and hitting the buzzer earlier and risk getting a whammy? I am for the decision. If McCown was our starter week 1 - and he was - and he's ready to go week 3, he starts. We are 1-1 , the season is not over, and there's a good chance if we win we will be tied for the division lead. You play the QB that has the best chance to win. It's still September.

Don't worry- this is the Browns - Johnny will have plenty more opportunities to start this year. We will either be 2-7, or McCown will imitate Don Beebe and land on his head and be taken off for precautions, etc. etc. I'm sure, for one reason or another, Johnny will be in there for week 7 and we will be able to evaluate Manziel. And if not, that means we will be 5-2 or so!

On to the games for week 3:

Bal 30, Cin 27.  This has to be a kitchen sink game for the Ravens - lose this, they go to Pit on Thu night looking at 0-4 and then a tough division game after that. I can't see them losing here, alothough Cincinnati is the better team.

Car 24, NO 17. I think all those people who jumped on the Carolina bandwagon when Bree's injury was announced will be shocked at how close this game will be. Where, exactly, is Carolina's offense?

Dal 20, Atl 17. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Weeden and all that. But I'm not sure Atlanta is good offensively. They have Jones - and nothing else.

Hou 23, TB 10. I'm sticking with my gut on a blowout when a good defense meets Winston. And the Texans are desperate.

SD 24, Min 21. I can't get a handle on these two teams yet; I'll pick the team with more offensive weapons.

NE 27, Jax 20. I'm not going to call the upset or anything, but I think NE is a bit 'soft" physically. Pittsburgh ran all over them in the opener. And we've seen this plenty of times before - NE, at home, simply does not get up against inferior teams.

NYJ 20, Phi 16.  Too scared to pick anything here. The Eagles can't be this bad, can they? If the Eagles don't turn it over, will the Jets reach 20???

Stl 31, Pit 27. Let's be clear, Pit's defense is a shambles. StL has the advantage on each of the lines here to win the battle in the trenches. Both teams will score.

Ind 24, Ten 20. Should be a lot of sacks in this game - both o lines have problems. Should be a lot closer than people think.

Az 30, SF 17. As seen last week, I think SF is very vulnerable to a precise passing attack - something Pittsburgh excels at and Minnesota did not have at all week 1. Arizona is very much like Pittsburgh and I think they will move the ball easily.

Buf 20, Mia 13. I'm now on record for 3 weeks with my dislike of Miami. What have they been doing well?

Sea 30, Chi 17. A blah game. I don't think Seattle's D is good enough to shut the Bears completely down, and their offense is not firing on all cylinders yet.

Den 24, Det 16.  I just remember how easily Rivers moved the ball vs. the Lions week 1 - that's the blueprint for Manning here! How will the Lions score against that Denver D?

GB 23, KC 20. How many big games can the Packers get up for? Opener vs. their rival Chi, Sunday night at home vs. Seattle...and now this? Kansas City has the D to put pressure on Rodgers and slow them down.

Best bets: 14 of them. Last week:  10-5; overall: 17-11
Cin/Bal over 44 1/2
Dal +1
Atl/Dal under 43 1/2
Hou -6.5
TB/Hou under 40 1/2
SD +1
Jax +13.5
StL +1
Pit/StL over 48 1/2
Az -6.5
Buf +2.5
Buf/Mia under 41 1/2
Den -3
KC +6.5

Supercontest picks:  Last week: 4-1; overall: 7-3

Dal +2
Hou -6.5
Jax +13.5
Az -6.5
KC +6.5


Sep 20, 2015

NFL Week 2: Scrabble

" It's the crossword game you've played all your life,  but never quite like this....."


I miss this game show. It's very to have a game make a successful transition from a popular board game into a TV show (anyone remember the awful "Monopoly" game show?), but this worked. The play was easy, it was relateable, and Chuck Woolery was in his prime as a host. I worked the remote hard between Scrabble at 11:30 and the end of Price is Right for a while....(of course, in the mid 80s, that "remote" was actually Layup....

Anyway, the main game was simple. You had a word where one letter was given to you, and a clue was given to you that usually was a clever pun or had a second meaning. Then you picked "tiles" of letters out of the bin - 2 at a time - and placed them. When you knew the word, you solved it and won!

It's harder than it looks! The tiles aren't letters but numbers - so you don't know what actual letter is it when you pick them - and there were 3 tiles in the bin that were false letters and weren't in the word. If you picked them out of the bin and tried to use them, you lost your turn.

Of course everyone knows what those false tiles were called.....THE STOPPER. Devastating! You're trying to solve the last word, you have an "E" placed, with and "R" and an "S".....and you pick two tiles and the tiles are "Q" and "X". You're screwed.

They never quite perfected the bonus round. The first bonus round was the "Scrabble Sprint" - you had to solve 2 words in under 10 seconds to win the jackpot. Sounds ok - but how does that work on TV? How do you fill a 5 minute ending spot with 10 seconds of action? They should have taken suggestions from the NFL! (ba-da-bum).

The next format was a "head-to-head" format; two winners play the same 4 words; the lowest time wins. Again, good in theory, but does the viewer want to see two people struggle with the exact same set of words ? They are probably playing at home - so what do they do for the second set?

Oh - and the 5 foot tall "plunger" to stop the clock. "It's the only way the clock will stop!" Cool technology you got there, Chuck!

Scrabble also highlighted the height of 80s fashion. The hair! The neon colors! The ties! And, of course, the sweaters. For you kids out there, go google "Lou Carnessecca" as he was the fashion god of the 80s.

Oh, and Chuck Woolery was a perfect host. This wasn't too intellectual of a game, and he was the perfect mix of a joking host at the beginning, then turning serious at the end for the "big" jackpots of $5,000...... I'm sure we will talk about Chuck again in this blog later this year.

Here's a Scrabble clue for you...

"Building on the "C" in "Holy Crap".....Eight letters.....the clue is: "An accurate description for 16 years".....


Well - there weren't just three stoppers in the Browns tile bin, but 5. 5 turnovers vs. the Jets. Holy crap. The first one was devastating. We have a NINE minute drive in the first quarter....85+ yards....9 minutes vs. the Jets physical defense. And what happens? Josh does his helicopter impression and fumbles at the 1.

The second one was a killer also - up 7-0 second quarter; Fitzpatrick throws a duck that we pick off. Great, huh? Yeah, for most teams. Our DB - Gibson - takes two steps and then is stripped by Brandon Marshall. Marshall recovers at the 15 for the Jets; they score 2 plays later. Absolute killer.

I'm not going to rag on Johnny too much for the loss; we will take a more critical look this week at JFF with a  week to prepare against....Dick LeBeau. I think the intelligence level is about equal there, no?

What do you think of the Browns, Chuck?

Anyway, on to the games....

NE 23, Buf 20. I just can't trust Buffalo yet. There are holes in NE's defense, but I have to think that Belicheck will fix them with 10 days preparation. Did the Bills get too amped up for week 1?

Hou 20, Car 13. I couldn't figure this one out until I asked myself - how exactly will Carolina score? They have no weapons! They only managed 13 vs. the Jags.

Az 27, Chi 24. I remain impressed with the modest improvement of the Bears. But they can't stop precision passing games (like GB), and the Cards are a slightly worse version of the Pack. They won't stop Carson when it matters.

Cin 27, SD 17. I'm convinced Cincinnati is undervalued - strong lines on both sides- and people are overvaluing the Chargers after last week. The Cincinnati pass rush should overwhlem Rivers.

Min 23, Det 13. Speaking of the Chargers....boy, the collapse of the Lions vs. the Chargers was impressive. I'm not sure what the Lions do well. Their pass rush was not good; that will help to enable Teddy in the Vikes home opener.

NO 31, TB 20. Tampa could not look worse; but I don't think Rob Ryan is as good as his press releases. Tampa should be able to score here, especially with Evans back. The question is - can they stop the Saints at all at home?

NYG 20, Atl 17. Monday night hangover for the Falcons? They always seem to lose these types of games. The Giants will have to try to win ugly every week to be competitive; I think they can do it here vs. a possibly over-confident Falcons team.

Pit 23, SF 20. Boy, it's hard to miss the Pittsburgh holes in their defense. It will be bad this year. I just can't see the Niners taking full advantage, coming off a late Monday game. They don't have the passing attack to utilize the weakness of Pittsburgh.

Was 24, StL 20. Playing outdoors is different than turf, and the Redskins defense is better than advertised. I was surprised at how good Washington's D was last week, and there will be some letdown for the Rams after the week 1 win.

Mia 17, Jax 16. I really want to pull the trigger on the upset here, but I don't know how many weapons the Jags have. But I am not impressed with the Dolphins offense.

Bal 20, Oak 17. This is the test to see the true colors of the Ravens. Do they have offensive problems, or was it great Denver D last week? Will they have issues on D without Suggs? This game will tell a lot.

Phi 31, Dal 21. The Eagles of the 2nd half of the Atlanta game will show up for 4 quarters here. Not sure how Dallas can keep up with Bryant out.

GB 30, Sea 21. The Hawks are overrated. Their lines are not very good; look at St Louis last week! They only scored 17 offensive points vs. the Rams. And now they go into Lambeau against the Packers who want revenge?

Ind 27, NYJ 17. I think people are overvaluing the Jets due to the 5 stoppers we gave them last week. I expect the Jets to return to earth and the Colts to dominate.

Best bets: 15 of them. Last week: 7-6
NE pk
Hou +3
Hou/Car under 39 1/2
Az/Chi over 46
Cin -3
Min -2
Det/Min under 43 1/2
Atl/NYG under 51 1/2
SF +6.5
Was +3
Jax +6
Mia/Jax under 41 1/2
Oak +6.5
Phi -4.5
GB -3

Supercontest picks: Last week: 3-2.
Hou +3
Cin -3
Min -3
Was +3.5
GB -3.5

Sep 14, 2015

Another debacle - Quote of the week

It's now 11 straight losses in opening games for the Browns.
(I distinctly remember the last win - it was my first year in Iowa, 2004, when we beat the Ravens.....wow).

Quote of the week on the Browns board:

Someone posted:
The team laid an egg in the worst opener I've seen, and that includes the Pittsburgh debacle.

The classic response:

Which one? 1999 or 2007?

When you can't keep all of your opening week disasters straight because there are too many of them, that's not a good sign.


Sep 13, 2015

2015 NFL Week 1: Dream House

It's back! Welcome to the world-famous NFL Themed picks by Eric! This year, we are going with a theme I've wanted to do for a long while.....favorite game shows of the 70s and 80s!

Yes, these shows may explain why I am a bit warped. I loved watching these in my youth. Nothing better than a day home from school for some random holiday (or the infamous "Energy Conversation Week!" - those of you who grew up in Baltimore County remember that) and watching bad game shows from 9-12. 

Well, unfortunately for you, these are seared into my mind and over the next 17 weeks we will link one of those classic game shows to the NFL season. Let's enjoy some nostalgia!

Leading off is "Dream House". This show ran for 2 seasons in the 80s with the grand prize being .... a house! No silly car or cash here...give them what the people want...a 3 bedroom ranch with wood paneling that is value at $89,900! I wonder if any of these houses are still around....

How do you win a house? The game was played by couples against each other; in the bonus game at the end, the winning couple had to guess a three-digit combination that would unlock the doors to their house. You had 4 choices for the first digit of the code, 4 for the second, etc. So to start you had a 1/4^3 = 1/64 chance of winning the house. 

Each win on the regular stage allowed you to knock a digit off, so after a few wins, you could get the odds down to 1/27 ot even 1/8 or so. Then you chose the digits, pressed the "time-release bar" (fancy 1984 technology), and waited. The code COULD NOT BE CHANGED by the computer once you put it in - don't mess it up! We can't re-program ENIAC back there to start over .....

The countdown would begin, and the lights would light up if you chose the correct code...which they usually did not. Bob Eubanks was always disappointed. 

Why are we choosing this show to lead off? Well, here we are at the start of another Browns season, and we still have no answers at quarterback. Recall those 1/64 odds of winning the house by choosing the code? I feel like we are staring at the board every September, hoping we choose the right code to give us an above-average quarterback. The Jones's down the street were able to do this and get their QB - how come our code never works? 

When will our luck turn around and we enter the right code in to win our dream QB?

Every September we press the time release button, and what pops up behind the doors? Weeden...Frye....Garcia....Campbell....Delhomme.....a bunch of run down 1-bedroom studio apartments where the heat doesn't work. At least last year we got into a 2-bedroom apartment without rats in Hoyer........ I'm sure the transition to the McCown neighborhood won't be a good one, and then we will be evicted for Manzielville.......

I don't feel good about today's game. A lot of distractions going on for us...the latest Gilbert thing...our OL coach being suspended.....no wide receivers.....yes, we could beat the Jets, but I'm starting to think this could be a blowout the other way.

On to the rest of the games for week 1!

Ind 23, Buf 13. It is hard for me to see how the Bills under Taylor score. And I'm sure Pagano knows that if the Colts are to be taken seriously as the leading AFC contender, they need to make a statement and win this game. 

GB 24, Chi 20. I'm banking on Fox to bring some stability to the Chicago D and I expect the Packers to be a little bit off kilter for a couple of games without Jordy. New coach, rivalry, at home....the Bears should keep it close. 

Hou 23, KC 20. I'm very interested to see how Brian Hoyer does in this game. If they put up 30 vs. the Chiefs, don't call me at 4:15 pm and rub it in. Please don't.

Car 16, Jax 13. Where in the world will Carolina get their offense now? No WRs at all - is it the Cam and Greg Olsen show? Bradley has to cook something up for the Jags, right? 

StL 20, Sea 17. I don't know....I worry about Seattle's offensive line and the Rams' defensive strength....but how are the Rams going to score? 

Mia 24, Was 23. There's GOT to be some sort of "circle the wagons" attitude around the Redskins right now. It's the world world vs. them! Cousins is decent. And do you really trust Philbin on the road?

Az 19, NO 17. Something seems off here.....I think the Saints will play better by devoting more to the run game, and I want to see Palmer in action before I jump on the Cards' bandwagon.

SD 30, Det 20. I like the Chargers' defense, and I'm not sure what much has changed for the Lions' offense that struggled a lot outdoors last season. Plus, the Lions' D defintely took a step back.

Den 28, Bal 24. Should be a good game and the line is exactly where it should be . A close, 3-7 point Denver win. 

Cin 24, Oak 17. The Bengals have close to an elite defense, and they have plenty of weapons on offense. If they can't win THIS game - healthy, on the road vs. a myseterious Raider team - then lets cut the crap and pencil them in for 7-9 this year. 

Ten 20, TB 17.  I think Mariota>>Winston in terms of football IQ; and now we have Dick LeBeau on the sidelines for the Titans. You don't think he has anything in store for a rookie QB prone to mistakes? 

Dal 31, NYG 17. It's hard to see the Giants staying with the Cowboys here. How do they stop Dallas? How do they score? Will be fascinating to see which RB for Dallas gets the bulk of the carries. 

Atl 30, Phi 27. Are we sure the Eagles - Bradford, new RB, some new WR - are all that good in 2015? Let's wait to see how all that new talent gels in a game situation vs. a defensive coach. 

Min 27, SF 24. How truly bad are the Niners? Are the Vikes overrated? What will Peterson look like? I'll stay away until we get some answers here. 

Best bets: 13 of them. Let's try to do better than last year....
Ind -2 1/2
Ind/Buf under 45
Chi +6 1/2
Hou -1
Car/Jax under 41 1/2
StL +4
NO/Az under 48 1/2
SD -3
Cin -3
Ten +3
Dal -6 1/2
AtL +3
Min/SF over 41 1/2

Supercontest picks:

Ind -2.5
Chi +7
SD -3
Ten +3
Atl +3

Sep 10, 2015

Time to get ready!

So this is usually the weekend that I head to Hong Kong or Macau and are able to get pumped up for the coming NFL season by watching old pre-game shows or game intros on You Tube. Let's continue this tradition!

Here's a good one from 1992. I think this is the best theme music for the NFL over the last 40 years- yes, even better than MNF music. Short and dramatic - especially for this key game for the Battle of the Bays!

What an announcing crew here - can you imagine two more opposites in the booth? One is a Hall of Famer (but not for football), and one is, well.......not. Who could have imagined in 1992 that these two would be household names in the sports world.


I still love the old NBC montages....the "Great Games, Great moments" and the music....another one from the files:


And look who is on NFL Live '88 for the pre game show! What a B-list of talent! Len Berman, Frank Deford, Paul Maguire and Gayle Sirens.

Finally, it must have been embarassing for NBC to put on the NFL in the late 70s/early 80s, when they were competing against CBS and NFL today. Their graphics, music, intro to the games were horrible. Here's one example from 1979. Love to watch this just for the ads! Schlitz! Chrysler! 7 Up!


NFL 2015!

Get ready for new material on this blog!

The NFL picks will return with a theme I've always wanted to use....

And stay tuned tonight for more broadcast teams from the past!

Jun 1, 2015

2015 Vegas Diary - Part 6

Yes, yes, I know...2 months between parts. Let's try to knock the last day out with the final part of the diary. As per a usual Sunday, some great stories on the quietest day of the trip.

Sunday, Feb 8

Finally got some sleep and I think I woke up around 9 or so. The best night's sleep of the trip. I think we had the champagne brunch - I'm starting to believe that mimosas are highly overrated - and then the three of us (Wiz, Layup and I) headed to the UTH table. I think Don and Mike golfed this morning.

The morning UTH session was not going well. First, as I mentioned before, management of the TVs sucked at the tables. It's 10 am on Sunday - we have some wagers riding on the early round action at Torrey - and what's on TV? BeIN sports showing some 3rd-level European league game. If not soccer, then some women's swimming on CBS Sports Network.

And trying to get the pit boss to change is like an Act of God. They don't know how to work the remote, and apparently there's only 3 stations on the "standard" network they get. We were a bit testy with the pit boss as we pleaded/demanded him to change the channel. This went on for about 30-45 minutes. The TV never changed....and the pit boss was starting to dislike us.

Anyway, the session was not very good to me. Almost immediately I started losing, and never got back to even. I was betting greens - and I was slowly, slowly, slowly going downhill. Then a guy sat beside me and Wiz (Layup was to my right) and started talking to me. I wasn't in that good of a mood, but he seemed nice, so we started talking a bit.....

So it's now about 11:30 or so, I may a bit buzzed, and the stranger is talking about Royals at the UTH table - he saw one just earlier at Let It Ride. I then told him our story of the Royal at UTH..... I just folded a hand, so I didn't have any chips in play - so I turned to him and started talking about the time - 6 years ago?- where the dealer put a Royal on the flop. No money for us -since we didn't play the trips!

As I was telling this story,the previous hand ended and the delaer was starting a new hand. I took my stacks of chips, put one on the blind, one on the ante, wasn't paying attention, and kept telling my story. Someone won $750 on the trips - good for him!

There was a slight pause in the conversation and I heard Wiz in the background say "cmon, cmon, deal the cards!" What the F was his problem?

I finished the story - I don't think I had a final point - then looked down at my spot. The dealer had already started dealing - I had 1 card, and three other spots had cards..... and I see that there were blacks in my spot instead of greens.

Huh???? Oh shit.... oh no no no no. "Wait, wait, wait!" I asked the dealer.  He paused.

"I didn't mean to do this--- I've been betting $25's all morning!" I said. This was a mistake. I picked up the wrong stack! "I didn't look at any cards...can I change the bet?"

The dealer thought, and then pulled the pit boss over. Oh no....the one we have been harassing about the TV....

"Boss, he's been playing greens all morning, now he says the blacks are a mistake. Can he change the bet?"

The pit boss thought for about maybe 3 seconds. "Cards have been dealt...the wager stays. Play on".

Oh dear. Please let me get out of this with minimal damage.

The cards are dealt..... first card is an 8....the second card.....another 8. A pair.

Oh shit, as Layup and Wiz starts laughing hysterically. "You have to go 4 times!!!!" I do, don't I.....ok, 4 blacks go in the circle....

Flop comes...something random like K-10-2. No eights.
Last two cards......K-5.

Dealer flips over his cards, and realizes what's going on, so he does it very slowly. First card is a 5 - so he has two pair, like me, but his is lower.
Second card - exposes just a bit, like baccarat ---- finally shows a 3. No harm. My Kings and 8's beat his Kings and 5's. Winner!

I let out a scream of relief. Tipped the dealer, tried to tip the pit boss as a nice gesture, but he was not allowed to accept any from me.  Got out of there about even with that win.

Afternoon consisted of a massage at the spa - all 3 of us were in there, and we were waiting for our massages and relaxing watching the end of the Farmers. We all had money against Clemson's own Lucas Glover, and he missed a 2 footer on 17 for par to seal the win. Yes! A loud scream (mine was the loudest) emanated from the spa to the chagrin of the rest of the customers.

There was a four way playoff - Day, Stallings, Holmes and English - and the three of us took sides in the playoff....I took Stallings as a lark, and that was $50 down the drain. Not much better than betting on multiple-man playoffs on the PGA tour.

Dinner was at Japonais that night - the sushi, as always, was wonderful, and the final dinner with the entire group was bittersweet. I'd have that sushi sampler plate every week if I could.

We had one final run to the craps table. We all fit on one side, and I think the order was Layup, Don, Mike, me and Wiz. Things were going ok for a while at the table...lot of strange people on the other side, but nothing stood out until we saw $100 hard ways coming up in the middle of the table.

We all noticed about the same time - there was an old white guy - about 6'1", 250 pounds, about 60 years old in a white buttoned down shirt and jeans with a John Deere hat on. He was obviously drunk. Next to him was a black guy - about 30 or so years old - and it wasn't clear if he was with him or not, but he was giving the John Deere guy some advice. The $100 bets were coming from John Deere. Most did not win.....but every once in a while he did win - and when he did, he said nothing.

The bets started increasing - $200, $300 on the hard ways, $1000 on the field. The field seem to be winning for him. The dice passed to Layup - and he did not vary from his usual results: maybe 4 rolls and out. Thanks a lot. John Deere was not happy.

The dice passed to Don. John Deere now had $1000 consistently on the field. Don started rolling well - made a point and was hitting some numbers. Everyone on our side * was making some money. Then we were all rendered speechless....

"$500 on boxcars" came the bet from the other side.

Don rolled a 9. "Dammit".

"Do it again - $500 on 12". The purple chip was tossed.

Don rolls........a 12. I can't believe it. No one can. A $15,000 winner.

John Deere said nothing. The dealers - who seemed to know him and were pissed off - quickly paid him in 3 orange $5000 chips.

Two rolls later, the same bet returns. "$500 on 12". Don rolls a 4.

"God dammit, you suck!" And he was serious!

All of us were winning money, but we couldn't take our eyes off the car crash of John Deere throwing $500 chips around. He started putting $5000 on the field, and hit the double a few times, making all the workers pissed off. We picked up shortly after and headed to a new table.

(* - Don did not make any money on his roll; not sure why not. He was not betting big and did not change his betting style as he was rolling better and better. Thanks for taking one for the team, Don!)

Of course, Wiz, Layup and I found our way over to the Salon. We entered - and the room was blaring the music from the Grammys. It was about 9:30, 10:00 pm - when the West coast coverage of the Grammys was broadcast on CBS. There were 4 people sitting in the seats - not playing - near the TVs in the high limit salon; they were enjoying the telecast and they were the ones that asked for the volume to be set on "aircraft carrier".

For whatever reason, we sat down.

"CAN YOU TURN THE VOLUME DOWN???" we asked the dealers and the pit boss. The answer was no. Those special guests asked for it - and so it was.

We never found out who those people were - and I can't believe we were stupid enough to play. That was a quick beatdown.

OK, one last UTH session for the night. We head out there, sit down and join Don and Mike, and play for a while. After about 20-30 minutes, Wiz starts looking over at the craps table.

"He's still there! What an asshole!" He's talking about John Deere, of course. "I gotta do something about this".

Wiz gets up, and heads over to the craps table. I'm not sure what he said or did, but then we look - and John Deere has picked up and moved to another craps table, away from Wiz ----- and there goes Wiz, picking up and following him. This went on for about 10 minutes - with John Deere finally arriving at an empty craps table and the limit going to $100.

Wiz returned, defeat. "he's a dick. Afraid of me". "He's like the white rabbit - we're all chasing him but we can't catch him".

We went to bed that night - saw the John Deere white rabbit playing $10 blackjack at the CSM table.

Layup left extremely early on Monday - like at 4 am; he needed to be back in CA by 9 am or so. He was thinking about leaving on Sunday morning after his good fortune on Saturday, but we all knew that wasn't going to happen. Wiz left about 5, and Don, Mike and I weren't going to leave until 6:30 - so I had an hour to myself at the craps table for one last run; the final roll was a good one for me as I left with a profit for that final session.

Another great trips is in the books; next year we hope to have a full complement of people (especially from the Golf Side Pool) with Leland and others (like Mr. Chik-Fil-A and a celebration from someone returning from China); I'm sure we will all vote to go in March again and avoid February. See you in 2016!


Apr 3, 2015

2015 Vegas Diary - Part 5

Well, this is the problem with waiting too long to do the diary and not taking good enough notes. I forgot that Wiz was not involved at all in the Friday night/Sat morning gambling; he went upstairs with us after the BLT dinner at 6:30 pm or so and slept - and slept straight through until the next morning. I think it was a 13-hour sleep for Wiz. That has to be a record.

I also didn't blog about my UTH session at 4 in the morning, by myself, with 2 Welsh concrete salesman that were completely plastered. There was a Concrete convention going on at the Mirage this week - these guys flew all the way over from Wales to attend. They hit some nice trips while being at the table with Ruth and I for about 30 minutes.

Anyway, on to Saturday.....

Saturday, Feb 7, 2:00 pm

Got up from my nap/sleep - maybe slept a good 2 hours or so - and found Wiz and Layup at their usual position, the UTH table. Not sure where Don/Mike were (nap? Spa?).

As soon as I arrived at the table, Wiz starts laughing and trying to tell a story about Layup. Our pal Dan, the pit boss, soon joined in.

"You won't believe what happened! Layup got into a fight!"

What? I looked a Layup...he rolled his eyes.

Dan started talking. "Yes! He stared down this Texas guy and made him back down!"

I will get this all wrong, but apparently what happened while I was napping is that Wiz, Layup and this texas guy were playing UTH; Layup folded and was out of the hand...but still was trying to force Wiz into losing. Wiz had a flush with 4 on the board; the Texas guy congratulated him on the winner....until the dealer turned a higher card over and beat him.

Wiz is pissed, but then I think Layup started to mouth off ("that's why you don't celebrate") and the Texas guys said something about the trips; Layup may have said "why don't you leave" and then the Texas guy stood up and went around Wiz to confront Layup.

I guess those two stood eye-to-eye for a few seconds before Dan came over; I'm not sure what exactly happened after that and how the Texas guy backed down....but he did pick up and head over to the other UTH table to play.

I was surprised and a bit in shock. When did this happen?

"20 minutes ago. Cmon, you going to join us?"

Sure. Should I sit here? Is this the Texas guy's seat?

"Yeah - that's where he sit. Sit down!"

I did, and the seat was cursed. A bad session.

Dan made up this "prize" for Layup for winning the Saturday afternoon Prize fight.

We headed over to the Salon - too early, I objected, but was quickly overruled - for some blackjack. It was going fairly well for me and Layup - Wiz was getting hammered - when I got a 2, 2 vs a 4.

of course, we are splitting.

Next card is a 2.....here we go....We've seen this happen on previous trip....

Next card is a 7; do you double 9 vs a 4? "Hell yes, put the money out" said a desperate-for-entertainment Wiz.

I got a face on that. Nice.

The next card - for the second 2 - was another 2. Great.

Eventually, I had 4 hands out there, 2 of which were doubled.

The dealer.....busts! Whew!

Wiz's luck never turned; as Layup and I were both winning, he couldn't catch a hand and had to tap out in the middle of a shoe. Horrible manners.

Layup and I went to baccarat - the luck did not continue there - and then the three of us headed to craps. I think Don & Mike joined us there for some late afternoon rolling. Layup's main side bet is the "All or Nothing at all" - I think I've explained that before. He has not hit one yet on this trip; a $5 wager pays $825.

The table was going very well - we were all making money; Layup still can't roll, by the way - and after the three of us rolled, the dice went to the other side of the table. Layup's eyes were yellow and he had to go. "I'll be right back" he said.......

The new roller - first roll ---- 12... NExt....2 . Wiz and I both looked at each other and laughed.

When Layup came back to the table, 6 or 7 numbers were covered - all I needed was a 3 for an all small; the 9 and 11 were missing. It took Layup about 3-4 rolls to see what was going on. The reaction was classic.

"Hey Eric, you almost have your all small!.......wait.......Where's my $5........oh SHIT"

The roller hits the 3 to win me money..... and hit the 9. Now only the 11 stood in the way of the all or nothing at all...which Layup had no money on. Thankfully, he did not roll the 11. The suspense was useful for about 10 minutes of pure laughter at Layup.

Dinner that night was at Mesa grill, where I had 3 drinks in front of me at all times - a Pepsi to keep me awake, water for hydration, and the great wine that Don/Mike always pick. (or is it just Mike?). I always pick the wrong entrée there - I was happy with my ribeye, but should have chosen the filet. Oh well. And apparently I coughed on my hand at the dinner table to cause some commotion.

The five of us headed back to the Mirage and decided to take over a baccarat table. We were all having fun - choosing sides and such - when Don/Mike/I decided to associate each hand with a golf hole. I double bogeyed the hole I drove and was quickly replaced. After a while, Layup became the handler and got on a birdie train - he was picking winners consistently. Don/Mike/I finished up a course in Cincinnati (Sharon Woods) and quickly changed to Augusta.

"Here's the rookie on the first tee at Augusta" (as Layup looks at his cards while Wiz heckles)

Layup gives us a nod - "oh, it's piped down the fairway!". Now his approach ---- as he turns over his 9-K - "it's stiffed! 2 feet! What a start!"

Layup was on player (we all copied) and won 5, 6, 7 in a row. "He's 3 under at his debut at Augusta!"
Then the bad news. The cut card came out. "Last hand". Really? Now?

Layup picked player, again, and it won again. 8 in a row! But now what? Do you wait for the shuffle to continue the streak? Do you just call it quits as the streak can't continue across shoes? We had no idea what superstitious baccarat players would do. Everyone looked at me. "This never happened in Macau to me!"

I am still puzzled on what the protocol should be. Layup wanted to stay to continue his streak at the table- but then realized it would be 10-15 minutes before another hand was dealt. So we picked up.

Oh! I forgot! All of us were on player - except for one person in our party of German descent - Mike. He went through that streak stubbornly waiting for the banker run to happen - and it never did. Sorry for your luck!

And - one more thing! - Columbus was on back-to-backs; they were at Ottawa after the win vs. St Louis. The Blue Jackets were never in doubt and brought home another winner... a 3-0 streak for America's favorite hockey team during this trip.

After the Salon, I have us finding an empty craps table (with disasterous results), Wiz/Layup/I going back to the Salon (where I was up a bit), and then a Pai Gow session with John the dealer.....Id' say in 20 minutes I played 5 hands. That is not an exaggeration. Of course, the night ended with one more trip to Baccarat, which was a small win.

Overall, a great Saturday at the Mirage - depending on when you defined the gambling day to begin.


Mar 16, 2015

2015 Vegas Diary - Part 4

Friday, February 6, 10:45 pm

I woke up - how long did I sleep? It was about 3, 3 1/2 hours. Now it's about 11 pm on a Friday - I felt like a sophomore in college - napping before going out on a Friday night. I tried to go back to bed...no luck. Time for Friday night - or a new day, Saturday - to begin.

My notes in my diary are extremely unclear for the next 18 hours or so - I will try to piece them all together. I think I met the group at - where else? - the UTH table. We had about a 2 or 3 hour session with Ruth - she was a constant during this trip - and I have this as a slow burn of a session. Nothing happened, and a slow and steady loss.

Don and Mike went upstairs for the night - so I think it was just the three of us. Of course, you can guess where we were headed to....we couldn't find a blackjack table in the salon, so it was over to Baccarat. I'm not exactly sure what happened here, but it was a great session! The best one of the trip; I think we caught a choppy deck where 8-10 hands just alternated back and forth from the player to the banker. We caught it at the right time and played the trend and made money.

My notes now say that Wiz went upstairs - it was about 3 am - but the next session for me (and Layup) was the salon - so it's not like Wiz to pass up a blackjack session. He must have been sick. Anyway, Wiz wasn't there, and that was good luck for both of us; Layup made a lot while I did fairly well. I think we drank Hot chocolate and Baileys for the whole session.

It was now about 4 am. Layup was done for the night and he headed upstairs. I felt awake and energized from the 3 hour nap - it's like I live in China all over again! What to do now? I don't even have to make a Walgreens run! There was only one choice - craps!

I found an empty $10 table with the morning shift crew on it - everybody knows these guys, the surly dealers from Kentucky and Texas....started playing about 4:30, 5:00 am and drinking the same Hot Chocolate and Baileys drink. I wasn't doing that well for the first hour - just hanging around, losing a bit with 2 or 3 others at the table.

Around 6 am or so, a 21-year old man came up to the other side of the table. He was drunk, but not trashed. He's one of those guys we see every Vegas trip - stereotypical newbie gambler that is curious about the games....of course he put $100 down on the craps table.

He survived the first 20-30 minutes or so; I then rolled and got hot; I rolled about 5 sevens in a row on the comeout - no biggie for me, but for him, who bet $10 pass line, no odds, and maybe one number, it was awesome!!. I then went ahead and rolled another all small - my 3rd hit on the trip. Won a lot and it got the table fired up a bit.

The dice finally went over to the young guy, who then started to get hot himself. The whole table was winning money - except the roller, of course, who may have hit just 2 points but hit all sorts of numbers. He hit a few hard 10's for me when I had money on it; I just had to throw $6 into the middle.

"$5 hard 10 for the shooter, $1 for the dealers".

The roller didn't hear me; four rolls later, he rolled the 5-5. Yes! The dealer slid $35 to the shooter. He was confused; the dealers told him it was from me.

"Great! Thank you sir! Thanks!"

Uh, ok. I don't like the sir part, but whatever.

The table started filling up; an old man was to my left. The young guy finally sevened out; the dice came to me a bit later. I started rolling well again, hitting a couple of points and winning everyone money. The old guy was happy (he bought in for $2 grand or so), and gave me a high five.

"Nice roll, son. Keep it going" he said in his best Sparky Anderson accent.

It was like one big happy family - and I was in the sandwich generation. Being called sir and son in the same session.

The table turned cold around 7 or so, and I picked up and left. I went into the sportsbook to look around - found a Chelsea fan who looked desperate for any sort of conversation; by fate I had my Everton shirt on. He started chatting about the EPL and the games that were just going off....I tried my best to humor him but I was way out of my league.

Put $100 on Everton to beat Liverpool at +280. Now what? It was 7:30 am; what to do? I wasn't tired; I wasn't hungry; exercise? hell no.... I walked around and found myself back at the same craps table, at the same position on the table.

The second time around was just as good as the first. I almost pulled off the unheard-off "encore" roll with the all small. I was betting the all small, and no one else was playing that bet. I rolled - again, it was a good roll - and I rolled the 2 to win it. 35-1! The all small/tall/all bets had nothing in them; I was still rolling with a point of 9.

Can I put $5 back on the all small?

The dealer paused for a moment. "I don't see why not. Sure! Send it in....". I threw the chip in.

Next roll was a 2...and off we go.

I rolled everything else but the 3 before I sevened out....which meant I was one roll away from rolling 2 all smalls in a row before a 7. The session was wonderful again; I was at the table rolling and high fiving everyone when Layup and Wiz came down from their sleep/nap. To their credit, they did not jump and stayed away. I knew where to find them.

The great session ended, and it was 8:30 or so. Now it was time to eat - I found them and then the question was - where to get breakfast?

"How about White Castle across the street?" For those that did not know - and I didn't - a White Castle opened up in the Casino Royale.

Um......wow...... ok........

I did feel a little pathetic eating steamed sliders at 9 in the morning in a 3/4 empty restaurant. It was $8.99 for 4 sliders, fries and a drink. However, it was good eats.

We went back to the UTH table around 10 am, and the White Castle burgers did not bring us luck. I hit the wall, and around 11 am I went upstairs to nap/sleep/crash.

Little did I know what was going on at the UTH table while I slept......