I have two distinct lives. One in the trenches of low-budget film and television, the other in professional gambling. Because of the feast-or-famine nature of show business I need a reliable income... gambling. So here you will read about both worlds. Enjoy!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Gambling With an Edge - guest Stanford Wong

Our guest this week is Stanford Wong. We discuss controlled dice throwing, and his book, Wong on Dice. Bob and I also discuss "scares" which in video poker means near misses of a royal flush, but in blackjack usually involves security guards.

Click to listen Alt click to download

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dice Control

Stanford Wong will be on Gambling With an Edge this week to talk about dice control, and his book, Wong on Dice. The book is not really a "How to" on dice control.  It reads more like a chronicle of how he got interested, what he did then to convince himself it was real, then his experiences in learning to do it, and finally the reactions of other professional gamblers resulting in a large wager. Throughout the book Wong mentions a class called Golden Touch which he took in learning dice control, and a book called, Get the Edge at Craps by Sharpshooter. So what is dice control?  Can you really throw two cellulite cubes six or more feet down a table and have the results not be random?  And more importantly, if you can develop this skill can you win any money at it?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Gambling With an Edge - guest Ed Miller

This week's guest is Ed Miller, author of Small Stakes No Limit Hold Em, and How to Read Hands, as well as 4 other books on poker.  We discuss win rates for Las Vegas ring games, how hard is it to learn to be a winning player, how long can you go on losing as a winning player, and his appearance on the TV show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
Ed and Bob in the house.

Ed Miller podcast
Click to listen Alt click to download

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Small Stake No-Limit Hold Em by Ed Miller, Sunny Mehta, and Matt Flynn

We are having Ed Miller on the show this week, so I checked out some of his books. I am happy to say that Small Stakes No-Limit Hold Em is excellent. If you are a beginning or intermediate player this is a great book to start with if you are interested in cash games. Obviously many of the concepts will transfer to tournaments, but the focus is on 6 handed 1-2 or 2-5 games.

The book starts out explaining that much of your win rate comes from stealing blinds, and then explains different approaches to this. It explains value betting with good hands, the 3-bet 4-bet 5-bet game, isolating players, and more. One of the things I found most helpful was explaining stack to pot ratios. That is, choosing the size of your bets not just on the size of the pots, but on the size of your stacks. This is nothing new, but I thought it was very well explained in this book.

There are two things that might give the reader pause, but don't let this dissuade you. The first is that all of their examples are based on online 6-handed games. My experience in 9-handed ring games is that there is much more limping, and rarely can you steal the blinds outright. But the majority of the info will apply to larger ring games. The second thing is the chapter on "profiling opponents using stats." This was an eye-opener to me. I have not played a lot of online poker, and that is no longer possible in the US. I was aware that you could look up stats on all the online players at the major poker sites, but had never done it. What a mistake! In the book they show you what stats are available, and how to use them. It's like bringing a bazooka to a knife fight. As regular readers of this site know I believe online poker will be back, and soon. If that happens this book moves from just an excellent book to a "must have."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

California jumps into the free online poker market

Saturday California opened their own free online poker site. I'm not the only one who believes that legal online poker is coming soon, and everyone is trying to position themselves to capitalize. The CA site is called and is operated by a group called COPA, the California Online Poker Association. This is a coalition of CA card rooms like the Commerce, and Bicycle, along with various Indian tribes like Morongo and San Manuel. You can see all the members here This group is spending millions of dollars lobbying in CA in an effort to control online poker when the law gets passed.
I checked out the site.

The Good
They are using Playtech software so the site is miles ahead of the South Point site. The graphics are much better, you can make notes about the players, you can change backgrounds, although I really would like an option of no background, and you can use 4-color decks which I like. Two other very good features, you can play in a browser version if you don't want to download, and you can log in as a guest if you don't want to give them any information. (Obviously that will have to change if and when they are allowed to play for real money.)

The Bad
I couldn't resize the window. The cards and betting amounts are a bit hard to read so I would like to be able to make the whole screen bigger. I was using the browser version so maybe this is better in the download version.

The Ugly
On each player's turn a large clock face appears at their spot and counts down 15 seconds. It is too large, and annoying. You do have a time bank of an additional 30 seconds that you can use if you have a tough decision.

The Stupid
You can buy virtual gifts and drinks for other players. They call this "social gaming" and are planning a facebook app. So what? You're going to buy virtual drinks for some dude pretending to be a girl, and then go to Farmville and hook up in a cucumber patch? Just show me the money.

I hear that Barona will be launching their own free site soon, so this will compete for CA players. I'll let you know when it comes out, and give it a review.

Friday, October 14, 2011

South Point free online poker site. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

On our show last night we discussed the fact the South Point has opened a free online poker site. I believe you will start to see these springing up like weeds starting with Caesar's and MGM, but who knows, maybe even the Cal Neva will try to get into the act with a site that features 30-year-old beer-soaked carpeting. These businesses all believe that legalized online poker will be coming very soon, and they all want to be ready. They want to start building their data bases, and trying to induce customer loyalty. As your intrepid reporter I dutifully downloaded the software and signed up.

The Good
1. It's free. (Notice this list is very short.)

The Bad
1. The software looks and feels like online poker from 10 years ago. It is slow and clunky.
2. You can't resize the table windows.
3. The graphics are poor, and because you can't resize the window it is hard to read.
4. The buttons for call, fold etc are too small and react slowly.
5. The speed makes you feel like you are on a dial-up connection.
6. You can't change the background or make notes on the other players.

The Very Ugly
1. Every window is rimmed with annoying flashing advertising. Just what you want when you are looking at the screen trying to make a decision, 5 different ads in 10 different colors flashing away at different rates.

As you can see my opinion is that this software is not ready for prime time. But I guess that is exactly why they are rolling it out now, to learn from mistakes, iron out the kinks, and be ready when the real money hits the felt. Let's hope other casinos do better.

If anyone else checks it out I'm interested in your thoughts.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Gambling With an Edge - guest Michael Kaplan

Our guest this week is Michael Kaplan. Michael is the author of Aces and Kings: Inside Stories and Million-Dollar Strategies From Poker's Greatest Players which is a great book with New Yorker type profiles of all the top poker players.  He is also the gambling writer for Cigar Aficionado magazine which has lead him into becoming an advantage player at both poker and blackjack.  In this episode we talk about his travelling to Hong Kong for an article on horse racing, and his learning to play poker as a winning player.

Click to listen - Alt click to download

Friday, October 7, 2011

Gambling With an Edge - guest Darren Hay

Our guest this week was Darren Hay.  Darren is a video poker expert from the east coast.  Bob and I also discuss the case of 2 players from Poker Stars that were arrested at the Wynn for dice scooting, and the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) which was in town this week.
Click to listen. Alt click to download.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Notes from G2E

The G2E (Global Gaming Expo) was in Las Vegas this week so I headed in to check things out. In the past it was always held at the Hilton Convention Center, but this year the dates were moved up, and the convention was moved to the Sands Convention Center.

Used slots?  Looks like the economy is hitting everyone hard.
While glancing through one of the show magazines I came across some interesting tidbits.  On Monday they had a seminar in: How to eject patrons without visibility or liability. Man am I sorry I missed that one.

In an interview with Penn Gillette he mentions that Gary Loveman (CEO of Caesars) told him that prior to running Harrah's not only had he never worked in a casino, he had never been in a casino.  Say what?!  Now I understand why all the Harrah's properties are the way they are.

Of course I had to run by the Shuffle Master booth.  They always employ the hottest models.  They must get a first round pick every year.
New Blackjack table

The shoe reads every card that is dealt out and reports the totals here on a screen in the rack.  Surveillance can log into any table and also follow what is going on. This is not a continuous shuffler.  There is a shuffle machine mounted behind it so they still have to open the shoe and switch in a new deck when time to shuffle. I asked the man there from Shuffle Master if he can see the composition of the remaining cards in the shoe.  His eyes got big as if I had just caught him with his hands in the cookie jar.  "Oh no.  No one can log in and see that."  Right, I'm sure.

Lots of people trying to sell these electronic tables for every game.
Typical gamblers, more interested in the games than a girl on a stripper pole.
A lot of companies were clearly trying to class up the joint.
Surveillance companies were there showing off the latest gear.

And an oldie but goodie.

There didn't seem to be anyone manning the booth.  I guess even the sellers know it doesn't work.

This company told me they train casinos to spot fake IDs.  You  know,
because underage kids go in and try to drink alcohol.
The other area of interest for me is the new games section.  Everyone wants to develop the next big hit like 3 Card Poker.  Here is 3 Card Craps.
This is for states like CA where they aren't allowed to use dice. I hope I end up liking this game as much as I like 3 Card Poker.

Here is a nice man named Max trying to sell his game Bad Beat Blackjack.
Would you buy a casino game from this man?
Looks like a shifty eyed degenerate to me.

That's it for this year's G2E.