Saturday, February 16, 2019

Royal Flusher, the Chancellor and Under-Treasurer of the Exchequer

You know what? I like planning Vegas gambling stuff. In fact, I love it. I love tinkering with arcane made-up rules, dodgy strategies, and dubious money management schemes. Sometimes, they even pay off.

Long-time readers of this blog will know that I gyrate through over-planning panics every trip, just as surely as I spiral out through financial spins at the end. This time it's no different.

Royal Flusher, the Chancellor and Under-Treasurer of Her Majesty, the Quad Queen's Exchequer

This is something we've never done before. I am going to be the one to dole out the gambling stakes. Here's how it's going to work.

Our budget will be $500 a day. (God help us if we lose all of it every single day.) I am going to hand out only twenty dollar bills, with one exception - I will use hundreds to buy in at table games. I don't want to be the guy that spends five minutes digging through every pocket to dump two tens, a five, a bus pass, a fifty cent piece, and three sweaty singles onto the felt.

You know that guy don't you? He has a backpack on. He strolls up and watches from right behind you for 10 minutes, and then commits his $16 or whatever, plays two hands, and then he's broke and he leaves.

Anyway, I've noticed a propensity for very bad things to happen when I dump hundies into machines. With twenties, if things go badly, there is a natural stopping point at which one can apply the last shred of self control left in one's gambling quiver, and fire it wildly in the air somewhere toward the target of moderation.

Our choice of machines will be better this time. We'll stick to single line quarters as our base, with excursions from there. We'll use the Strict Rules of Parlay at times, but we won't buy in at higher denoms. Our main games will be Bonus Poker and Jacks.

When staying on the strip, we'll get somewhere where there are good paytables. All it takes is a Lyft ride or a bus pass and you can be at Ellis Island (or you can walk to Cromwell, for that matter), play the odd machine at Cosmo with a decent paytable, head to a locals place like South Point, Orleans, or Palace Station, or head downtown. No more 7/5 double double for the most part. We'll treat higher volatility stuff as a dessert, not a main course.

What else? Where there's 3:2 blackjack, I'll play it a lot more. I keep saying it and don't do it. But my results at the table have been pretty good, and certainly less volatile than the machines. And I still want that purple chip!

And what of Buffalo? I will probably play the old style ones at Luxor I did so well on and see if that continues, but again, video slots will take a back seat to stronger plays. That goes for you too, Keno. Dessert, not a plate of staple.

For bankroll management, we are going to try something we've never, ever done before. Our win/loss will be calculated as a team. And, I've figured out a way to prevent blowing back a big win that still leaves some reward towards future degenerate gambling action.

If, between the two of us, we win on the day, we'll split the profit to add to the next day's bankroll up to a total of $100 each. For every $1000 we're ahead on the day, $200 can go into the next day's bankroll.

For example, let's say I'm up $200 on the day and QQ is up $150 on the day for a total of plus $350. The next day we each get $100 extra and $150 goes "home" (This does not mean it goes into my secret wallet compartment for playing when nobody knows about it. No it does not. Really. Not.)

Say we win $1500 between the two of us. The next day, we each get $100 out of the first thou, and $100 out of the second, while $800 plus $300 goes home. We should be so lucky.

What else is on the list? A few more planned activities to get us out and about and away from the casinos. I might even try to drink less while playing - because that's when I get stupid, and do stupid things, like playing 4 hands of stupid $25 a hand VP in 8 seconds and losing $100.

Gambling is a serious business, Russ.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Keeping up with the Gambling Jones

When winter gets cold, the degenerate get a Vegas jones going. For that matter, I can jones for Vegas just about any time of year - even shoulder seasons are ripe for Vegas jonesing.

Just what is a jones and what is jonesing?

Geneva Smitherman, the esteemed author of  Black Talk: Words and Phrases from the Hood to the Amen Corner (1994) defines jones as follows:

1) A strong, overwhelming desire for anything you indulge in or acquire and never get enough of - money, sex, chocolate, gambling, clothes, etc. Originally referred to addition to heroin or cocaine.

2) Penis.

I guess jones is pretty darn close to the cojones.

But I'm gonna take definition 1, minus the white powder ingestion habits.

Would you say I have a strong, overwhelming desire for Vegas and gambling that I indulge in and can never get enough of?

Hell yes - all these trips later and I still love it!

So let's plan a little excursion to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada USA, where I go to visit my money.

Our last trip was, let's face it, pretty much a total debacle.

Merriam-Webster, esteemed author of Merriam-Webster, defines debacle as follows:

a : a great disaster
b : a complete failure : FIASCO

The last trip was 9 days and there were 2 people on it - me - Royal Flusher, and she - the Quad Queen. To get a detailed analysis of the trip results, Jimmy Poon has done some number crunching on the Video Poker WinSimulator 3000 (which doubles as a DOS 3.1 powered computer) using some custom software of his own design.

Jimmy Poon says our trip came out to 18 person-gambling-days. And on that last trip, we lost on 16 out of 18 person-gambling-days.

Using a sly trick of mathematics, I reckon that if you have a winning day, that also cancels out a losing day. In other words, a winning day followed by a losing day is the same as two break-even days.

Magically, I can now say that out of 18 person-gambling-days, we enjoyed the break-even equivalent of 4 person-gambling-days, and lost on 14 person-gambling-days.

That is a loss percentage of 14/18 which equals "OH GOD. OH NO. OH MY GOD" percent. Put another way, 77.77%, which seems like it should be lucky, but it sure as shit isn't.

And it took me 37-idiotic-crashing-bore-loser-writing-minutes to coax those squirmy facts into the blog.

We must do better this time. We've got to do a reset and regain some savvitude. It's time for some planning.

That's up next.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Increase Your Gambling Savvitude

"I only gamble for entertainment." "I expect to lose my bankroll anyway." "I don't mind losing but I hope I can at least sit and play for a while." This kind of thinking leads to one thing. Losing.

I've spent over 60 trips trying to solve Las Vegas. After the first 3 trips losing all my bankroll every time, I thought 'there has to be a better way, an edge I can find, or some way I can lose less!'

Some reading led me to learn that the return on slot machines is quite bad, and the return on blackjack, craps, and video poker can be much, much better.

That's when I started to develop a savvy attitude - or what I now call Savvitude.

Why Savvitude? Because I had to make something up for this article and savvitude sounded jargony.

What is Savvitude?

Savvitude is rooted in a general attitude that you are willing to make some effort in order to get a better deal, and that you are going to put yourself in the best position to win.

Do Savvitude like a Drunken Spaceman!
Let’s look at two gamblers, one with Savvitude, and one without. See if you can tell them apart at first glance.

We’ll call the first gambler “Johnny Greencash”.

We’ll call the second gambler “Loser Drunk With a Terrible Attitude and Somewhat of an Asshole” Sperry Blowhole.

Did you figure it out?

Which one has more savvitude?

Correct! Johnny Greencash has savvitude, and Sperry Blowhole spews money out of his gambling oriface.

Sperry thinks gambling is entertainment. He plays any slot or machine that looks shiny at any particular moment - and knows nothing about them. He plays 2 coins a pull on a slot that requires 3 coins a pull to hit the massive progressive.

He plays 15 numbers on keno tickets, 50-play video poker, betting one credit per hand, and doesn’t bother with casino player's cards.

Sperry plays in 29 different casinos on a typical four day trip - none of them in the hotel he’s staying at. He’ll play any blackjack game he comes across and has never heard of 6:5 versus 3:2.

Sperry knows he is going to have a good time (if he can remember it at all) and is more than likely going to burn through his entire gambling budget because WOOO VEGAS BABY!

Not one to flinch at rack rate for rooms, Sperry will book an offer if one drops in his lap, but has never talked to a casino host, asked for a comp, or had his play evaluated.

Sperry Blowhole is a bit of a twat, and a casino’s dream customer.

Now let’s look at Johnny Greencash’s approach to the casino lifestyle - one steeped in the sweet funk of Savvitude.

Johnny isn’t against spending a few bucks, but he wants to get value where he can. He puts a bit of effort into educating himself about the various games he’s interested in. He looks for opportunities to sign up for bonuses and mailings and weighs the different offers he gets to see which ones have the most appeal and the most value. (Johnny also reads Royal Flusher Vegas, to pick up on any useful gambling tips that he might come across. So far, he's been sadly disappointed.)

Johnny Greencash figures that if he is going to put his money at risk, he might as well try to reduce the amount he is likely to lose. He’s learned a little about odds and expected return, and picked up some strategies for his favorite games, and knows what the best and worst bets are. He uses slot clubs to his advantage, without being a slave to qualifying for tiers and racking up points, just to earn some tawdry casino swag, like a garter set, a shot glass, or a tin of Vermont's Original Bag Balm.

Johnny has introduced himself to a host or two at the properties he likes to stay at. He asks for comps and sometimes gets a free meal or some charges taken off his hotel bill.

Basically, Johnny has a positive attitude about the whole experience. He assumes that he can win, that he is going to win, and does everything he can to ensure it happens.

Read that again. He assumes he can and will win, every time out.

Of course, nobody wins all the time, or even most of the time. The point is that a winning attitude naturally leads Johnny to make sure he does the things that help him move in that direction.

What else increases Johnny's savvitude? Well, he knows a few money management strategies to limit his losses.

He keeps his eyes open, reads the rules of tournaments and promotions, looking for advantages and loopholes, and takes advantage of the goodies that abound if you are just willing to try.

Now, nobody’s perfect. Johnny occasionally has one too many Mai Tais, throws down a few huge cash bets on roulette, and ends up puking in a potted plant while trying to take the elevator to his room - not knowing he’s in the wrong hotel.

Having Savvitude doesn’t mean being anal and having no fun. But it does mean swinging the needle in your direction a little bit - or maybe more than a little bit - by shaving the house edge.

How's your savvitude? Are you going to be a Johnny Greencash, or that other mook?


Royal Flusher

Addendum: I am far from perfectly savvitudinous. I drink while playing skill games, and sometimes I play the worst game in the house - keno. When I'm on a losing streak, I figure that keno actually saves me money because it costs maybe $20 an hour. I can easily lose hundreds in that same hour if things go badly. I don't plan to, but it happens.

Remember the 15-number keno ticket that Sperry Blowhole plays? Why is that so bad? And why is, say, 6 or 7 numbers better?

Well, the odds of hitting 7 out of 7 numbers on Keno is about 1 in 41,000. (That's about the same as the odds of hitting a royal flush on video poker.)

The odds of hitting 15 out of 15 numbers on Keno is about 1 in holy-fucking-shit-that's-a-lot.
I'm talking about 1 in 428,000,000,000. (That's billions. Or nearly half a trillion. But who's counting.)

You don't have a hope in hell of hitting 15 out of 15 - and to add insult to injury, look at the payouts!!!

Hitting 15 out of 15 pays the same as  hitting 10 out of 10! There's no reason ever to play 15 numbers on a straight keno ticket.

10 out of 10 will come in, roughly, one time every 9,000,000. Would you rather have a 1 in 9 million shot at winning $100,000 or a 1 in 428 billion shot at winning $100,000?

With just a little observation, you can make a much better decision. (You can also decide not to play keno at all, which would be the best decision of all.)

To increase my savvitude, I play mostly video poker and blackjack, using strategies that return the most possible. I play craps too, which can have a very low house edge if you stick to pass line with odds.

Sadly, I have a thing for Buffalo. And that's part of it - yes have fun, but don't lose it all every time. Apply some savvitude and play to win. Your bankroll will thank you. And so will the potted plants.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Las Vegas 86, Flushers 3 - Post Trip Accounting Spin!

They keep saying I have to face the music. I think they mean 'turn your cauliflower ears toward the music'.

And I refuse. This last trip was a stinker, in terms of return on gambling bankroll 'investment'. I think we probably had worse luck on this one than on almost any other of some 60 odd trips.

So how do you deal with that? Well, for one thing, you don't add it up. It's like getting blown out 86-3 in a playoff game - you just put it away, there's no point in saying 'let's figure out what little things we have to tweak for next time'.

The bright spot about all this is... the Post Trip Accounting Spin!!! Let's look at how much money we saved!

First of all, transportation was dirt cheap. We had enough points on our First Regional Bank of Flusherville Gold Elite Infinite Super Wolf Blood Moon Mastervisa card to cover our airfare - which included a total of six flights. Pearson to Denver, Denver to Vegas, Vegas to Houston, Houston to Tampa, Tampa to Washington, and Washington to Pearson.

That's a lot of flying fun for no money, notwithstanding the fees of a couple of hundred bucks.

MGM Resorts comp offers have been outstanding in the latter part of 2018 (and continue to be!). They just keep banking the resort fees and giving free rooms, and food and freeplay.

Comp Amount Notes
Aria 3 nights$600I looked up the rates for similar dates in 2019
Aria free play$50
Aria resort credit$50
Wynn 1 night free$200 We still paid $447 for room, food, etc.
Wynn free play$200
Wynn buffets$180We had 6, we used 3. Overrated.
California 3 nights$300
California free play$60From points.
California food$300
Golden Nugget Freeplay$80This is the end of the freeplay free-for-all at the Nugget. They don't love us!

That's actually more than I expected. I usually don't count rooms as being that much, but it was super prime time for some of the nights, and it's also come to my attention that average room rates in Las Vegas are $130. So I've probably been a little light on room comp value in past trip reports. EVEN MORE REASON TO GO TO VEGAS!!!

Do Main Street Station scratch cards count as a comp?
After leaving Vegas, we spent a few days in Florida playing 'Dodge the Walkers' and avoiding any and all of the parks in fear of our lives.

Unlike Vegas, the weather was warm and sunny - really enjoyable, and an important recharger before facing the travesty that will likely be my 2019. I don't like to set high expectations, so anything better than a complete unmitigated clusterflusher will be a pleasant and welcome surprise.

With that in mind, here's what happened upon our return to Canada.

Oh fuck it, I was going to write a 3,000 exploration of my stupidity, but in a nutshell, we landed, and I took the wrong suitcase. And the lady whose suitcase I took, took my suitcase.

I noticed this only after we were on the UP train from Pearson to Union Station to catch VIA to Flusherville. I'd unpacked my iPhone cable and ended up leaving it on the UP train as we scrambled to get off before it left the airport. I lost the cable for good.

I spent about 30 minutes tearing around the airport trying to communicate with the idiot who took my bag. Even though I asked 4 times, she wouldn't come back to the terminal and forced me to track her down in the parking structure "in front of some elevators by the rental cars".

Fortunately, the exchange was made. We are both 50% at fault. Except that I mostly blame her. Flusher's rule.

See you soon!

I'm the one in the tights.

Had enough of Flushiepants?


Why not read up on another astounding Vegas trip report, like this one!

The Las Vegas $1K Scrounge Trip

The challenge... to travel to Las Vegas and stay for 12 days on a gambling budget of $1000US.

To make it work, I've pulled every cheap bastard frugally savvy trick I can think of.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Amazing Strict Rules of Parlay

This trip was quite a shit-kicking. It's amazing how a trend can persist day after day after day. Funny how that happens with losing, but rarely winning. Or maybe it's not so fucking funny at all!

We regrouped in the room, packed up as much as possible - we had a ball-busting blood-shot-eye 3:30 AM wake up call for a punishingly early flight out the next day - and set up some travellers, and headed down to the California casino to start what would be our last night of the trip.

We decided to try to do some Strict Rules of Parlay play, and after a couple of false starts, we settled in on our old friends, Flashy and Pinchy. I took Flashy.

The Quad Queen parlayed up from 25 cents to 50 cents and then to dollars, where she fought a really good fight.

Me? I had one of those perfect sessions, like I've had so many times before on this particular machine. One time it ended in a dollar Royal. A guy can hope, can't he?

I played for quite a while on quarters, and worked my way from $20 up to $40 the hard way - no quads. Then I bumped up to 50 cents.

Flashy was banging, and for one of the only rare times this trip, I felt the flow. The feeling that I was part of a frantic button-pushing luck dance, with the sense that I was surfing a gambling wave, and that the hands were interconnected, and had to be capitalized on before the wave broke, which it always does. When this happens, I get into an alpha state zone and I see everything so clearly, such as the low pairs I miss holding because I'm playing so fast. But it's all good, I know the hits are coming

Sure enough, on one hand I held three to a royal... I almost got it but was a 9 of clubs instead of the needed Ace. Damn.

Still, I've picked off a straight flush, and at 50 cents, it's worth $125. Just like that, the session got serious.

View from the alcove. I love this place. I hope they don't make it unplayable.
As the Strict Rules of Parlay dictate, I bumped up to dollars. Finally, I had a chance at pulling some decent money out of the machine.