Sunday, January 15, 2017

As I Was Saying, It's A Great Promo

When I first got to Vegas last month, I knew I wanted to take things easy the first couple of days, and not push myself too much.  I had only been cleared to drive and travel barely a week before.  And I hoped to feel well enough to stay in Vegas for over two weeks, through New Year’s. 

So the first couple of days I envisioned relatively short poker sessions just to see how things went and how I felt.  The trip up there, on a Saturday, eight days before Christmas, was smooth sailing.   I got on the road a bit later than I would have liked, but that was fine.  After checking in to the hotel, I hit the local supermarket to stock up on food.  By the time I put my groceries away and unpacked all my stuff, I should have been pretty tired, but I felt fine.

Just one thing left to do before heading to MGM for some dinner and poker—set up my laptop.  And there everything went off the rails.  I couldn’t get on the internet.  I had already gotten my celphone on without an issue.  But for the computer, I wasn’t getting the welcome screen asking me to log in to the service provider’s internet service.  Just a message saying there was no internet access.

I debated just leaving and dealing with it later, but I decided it was probably a quick fix so I called technical support.  After trying a bunch of things and checking all my settings, they decided the problem was not with their service but with my laptop.  I had an “invalid IP address,” you see.

I thought that was bullshit.  My laptop had connected to the internet from the hospital, from my sister’s house, and from my home just the day before.  It was crazy to think my laptop was the issue.  But they told me that I needed to call the manufacturer of my laptop to get it resolved!  Are you kidding me?  I left for the MGM, figuring I’d have Sunday to figure it out. 

Now, I’m sure all my readers have been dying to know if my parking situation had gotten resolved.  You all remember, right?  When last I was in Vegas (in early July), I had started getting these weird messages whenever I inserted my MLife gold card into the machine to either enter or exit the parking structures at MGM properties. I finally determined that the parking system thought I had never left the Monte Carlo parking structure in late June and that was causing the problem.  You can read about it here.

So, I wondered if the system would think my car had been in the Monte Carlo garage for all this time—like six months!  And if it that were the case, would it give me a hard time trying to get into the MGM?  Or worse, would it decide that, gold card or not, I had to pay hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars in long-term parking fees?

Well, the good news is, I had no issue at all.  The machine let me in, and let me out, and never once gave me a stupid error message.  It no longer believes my car is still at Monte Carlo (except for those times, I presume, when my car actually was at Monte Carlo this trip).

Anyway, I got in a game and it didn’t go well.  My mind wasn’t into it.  I couldn’t get my computer issues out of my mind. It was a non-starter that I be without an internet-connected laptop for over two weeks in Vegas.  I had to work, not to mention blogging.  I was thinking this could be my shortest trip ever—I’d be driving home the next day!  I came up with a bunch of things I could try the next day to see if I could prove it was not my laptop.  Like go to a place or two with public wi-fi and see if I could get on.  Then I remembered I still had an old, crummy laptop in my car.  Last I checked, it still worked.  I could try that.  If I could get on the net with it, well, then, maybe it was my laptop that was the problem.  And if the old clunker worked, I supposed that, worse case scenario, I could use it for this entire trip if I had to.

But I was totally distracted and not paying enough paying attention to the poker. I thus had a pretty bad session, highlighted by being on the wrong side of a set-over-set situation.  I ended my session fairly early, realizing that my head wasn’t into it and I had little chance of recovering on this night.  Besides, I had intended to make it a relatively short session anyway.  I cashed out while I still had some chips and decided to relax and enjoy the parade of proper young ladies who inexplicably wear provocative clothing.

That would also be a test.  Was my newly repaired heart up to the stress that this bevy of beauties would provide?  I’m happy to report that yes, my heart was up to the challenge.  Even though it had been six months since I had witnessed the display, my various body parts reacted just the way they are supposed to.

Well, for awhile anyway.  Suddenly the long day, and perhaps my medical condition, took its toll.  Nothing major, just extreme fatigue.  I was unable to do all the walking necessary to fully enjoy the eye candy.  I had to return to the hotel before I wanted to. It was shame, because this was the last time the club would be open until New Year’s weekend. Oh well.  I did see enough to remind me of what I had been missing.

Back at the hotel, I remembered to take my old laptop into the room and decided to spend just a few minutes seeing if I could get it on the internet.  And I had no problem at all.  Hmm….did I really have to contact Lenovo to get my new(ish) laptop on the internet?  It seemed ridiculous.  I used the old laptop to Google solutions to the invalid IP address thing.  I tried the suggestion at the first page I went to.  It was a bit messy, having to go into DOS and type a bunch of arcane commands.  But son-of-a-gun…it worked!  I got the sign-on screen and my good laptop was now on the internet.  Strange that it should have developed a problem just at the precise time to make me think it was the service provider’s issue.

I still wanted to take it easy the next day (Sunday).  In the afternoon, I saw a movie (Rogue One, which I thought was quite disappointing).  Then I headed back to MGM for some poker.

This being Sunday night during the NFL season, the latest incarnation of their football promo was running, and this was my very first exposure to it.  Recall that in prior years, the MGM used to give away money to a lucky random person after every score during the game (from $100 to $500). It was one of my favorite promos (although I did wish the games were played during a more convenient time).

But this year they were doing something else.  Starting two hours before game time, players were given a “football parlay card.”  The card consisted of five different poker hands (two pair, three-of-a-kind, straight, flush and a full house). Every time you won with one of those hands, you would get that hand on the card stamped (assuming the pot was $40 or more, and both cards in your hand played).  If you filled up the card with all five stamps during the game, you would get $300.  After the game ended, you still had until midnight to fill up the card and then you’d win $200. Remember, on the West Coast, the games typically end around 8:30PM-9:00PM.

Of course, I learned about the promo when it started back in September.  This would be my first chance to actually experience it for myself.  To be honest, when I heard about the promo, I didn’t think it was as good as the old one.  It just seemed like it would be too difficult to fill out a card in the required time period.  Especially for someone like me who doesn’t play a lot of hands.

When I went to the podium to get a seat, the guy there gave me a card and started explaining the promo.  He was new (to me) and didn’t recognize me.  I was sorta of nodding, “yeah, yeah, yeah.”  I mean, even tho I hadn’t played the promo myself, I knew about it from having entered it into PokerAtlas, and putting it in my Ante Up column.  And then, as I was trying to get to my seat, he added, “And at midnight, there’s a second chance drawing for $500.”  Wait, what?  I totally forgot about that part.  “How many stamps do you need to qualify for that?”  “Just one,” he said.

Yeah, it sounded familiar when he said it.  At midnight, anyone with an incomplete card, but one that has at least one stamp, gets thrown in a hopper, and they actually pick two winners.  First one pulled gets $500.  Second one pulled gets $300.  Glad he reminded me of it.

But I really wasn’t there for the promo, as I just didn’t think my chances of filling out a card were very good.  With the old promo, I did always try to play at MGM on football nites.

Interestingly, as I got to my table, they were paying someone $300 for filling out a card.  It was still the first quarter, or maybe early in the second.  I commented about how fast he had filled out the card.  A player near me explained he got three stamps on three consecutive hands.  Impressive. 

Still, I wasn’t paying attention to the promo, except in how it might affect the play of others.  As the session wore on, there was a guy at my table who was only one stamp away from completing a card—all he needed was a flush.  You can bet he played every suited starting hand he received.  In the fourth quarter, he was anxious for the dealer to deal faster and even called time on someone prematurely because he wanted to see more hands.

My session was dull.  I was more focused, but I was card dead.  I didn’t come close to getting a stamp, and the football game ended with my card blank.  But the players at the table were talking about the second chance drawing—all you needed for that was one stamp.  And a buddy of mine (a long time blog-reader) came by to say hi (and ask me about my health) and noticed my blank card. He reminded me that I needed a stamp for the last-chance drawing.

It was getting late, past 10.  I was still stampless, and was pretty much ready to call it a night.  I wasn’t tired, but I did plan on making it an early night again as part of my plan to take it slow.  When my stack dwindled down below $100, I didn’t add on.  I decided that was it.  I was nearly ready to go and didn’t want to risk another buy-in.  I had milked that one buy-in for at least four hours and was satisfied with that on a night when the cards just weren’t coming.

I was almost done when I had Ace-King and a guy straddled (the straddle at MGM is $5).  I raised to $20. I didn’t have much behind.  Only the straddler called and the flop missed me.  I made a c-bet that was called.  Fortunately, the other guy didn’t bet the turn or river (neither did I) and I won the pot with Ace-high. 

Then my pal Heather pushed into to deal.  She soon dealt me a couple of Aces.  I opened to $8 and had four callers.  The flop was King-King-X.  Ugh.  Not exactly a great flop for my Aces.  Surely someone had a King.  I almost checked, but instead bet $25.  The first guy tanked for a bit before folding.  Everyone else folded quickly.  The pot was mine.

I came thisclose to just mucking my cards and just taking in the pot when I remembered the promo.  I actually had two pair, Aces and Kings.  It’s easy to forget about that because usually when you think of two pair, you’re thinking of your two hole cards matching two cards on the board.  You’re really thinking of your hand there as whatever pocket pair you have.  When they ran a similar promo as their main promo (see here), I’d often forget to show my hand when I had two pair by having a pocket pair with a pair on the board—it’s such an easy mistake to make.

Somehow, at the last possible second, this time, I remembered.  I asked Heather if there was $40 in the pot (I’m sure I knew the answer when I sized my flop bet, but now I was thinking about having two pair and I can’t really hold on to two thoughts at once).  She said yes. (Of course there was: five players at $8 each is exactly $40, duh). I showed my Aces and gave her the card for the stamp.  My first stamp of the night.  There was less than two hours left to fill out the card, but I didn’t care about that.  I figured this would give me the option of hanging around until midnite for the second chance drawing.

Mostly due to my inability to lose my entire stack (despite my best efforts) (I’m kidding), it had gotten to the point where it was too late to leave early, if you know what I mean.  And you know, while waiting to bust out, I did some math in my head.  There were 6 or 7 games going.  A lot of the players in the room didn’t even have the football cards (they stop giving them out when the 4th quarter starts).  A few that did have them would leave, or fill them up and not have a card for the drawing.  If there were, say 63 players active in games at midnite, likely half or less would have cards in the hopper to be eligible for the drawing.  So 30ish cards eligible, and they draw two.  DIdn’t seem like such impossible odds.  And $500—or even $300—is nothing to sneeze at.

An hour earlier I was of a mind that, even if I got a stamp, I wouldn’t stay for the drawing.  But now, after thinking about it, and it getting close to the drawing, I decided that now that I had my stamp, it’d be worth it to stay to midnight.  I wasn’t really that tired anyway. 

Except that, as soon as I decided to stay (after getting the qualifying stamp), I did start running out of energy.  And after awhile, I realized I wasn’t focused on the game very much.  Luckily, in this case, I wasn’t getting any cards to play.  That hand with the Aces was the end of a long draught and the start of a new one.  I tried to get focused again but I was losing that battle.

I decided to just nit it up to an extreme degree.  I really didn’t want to lose what was left of my stack and have to risk any more money waiting for the drawing.  Of course, if I actually had really strong hand, I’d play it, but nothing speculative, nothing very risky.  I was basically waiting for a pocket pair, Ace-King or Ace-Queen.  Pretty much anything else would get mucked.

And if I did lose my stack?  My plan then was to buy-in for the minimum and milk that $100 for all it’s worth.  I wasn’t even sure I’d look at my cards before mucking them (just kidding—I think).  Maybe a long bathroom break would be in order.

It never came to that.  I don’t think I would have played most of the hands I received under any circumstances.  It was one garbage hand after another.  I did get pocket Queens once, and I did raise with them.  And then folded to a donk bet on the flop which had both an Ace and a King.  That was about it.

My stack, such as it was, survived until midnight.  The shift manager collected all the remaining football cards that had at least one stamp on it.  My card still had just the one, but it was enough to qualify.

The shift manager had all the cards and explained that she would be pulling two out; the first one would be worth $500 and the second one would be worth $300.  By this time I was really tired, but managed to be alert enough to hear her say, “And the winner of the $500 is….”

I actually imagined her saying my name.  I heard her say it, in my head, a few times, before I finally heard her announce the winning name. Yes indeed, she called my name, for real.  I gave out a quick little shout of joy, and heard her say, “I haven’t seen you for a long time. Welcome back.”

I waited a bit for her to bring me my $500 and then left as fast as I could.  The drawing had saved my first two days in town.  I told you I liked that promo.


  1. Am I imagining things, or did you previously have a similar problem with a laptop not connecting to the internet?? Just thought it sounded very familiar. Nice hit on the promo!!

    Nick (cokeboy99)

    1. Wow, good memory. I've had laptop issues before, and knew I blogged about them, but I didn't realize that I had trouble getting on the internet about 2-1/2 years ago and blogged about it! You remembered it before I did.

      I'm impressed you came up with that, especially considering what happened with your Cowboys today.

      Yeah, the promo was a nice score, thanks, Nick.

    2. Well, seeing as I have read every one of your blog posts, and even won a book from your contest based on a quiz with questions from the blog, I can't see why you'd be surprised that I remember things like this.

      As far as the Cowboys game, it was disappointing for sure! However, I thought they showed a lot battling back after being down a lot early, and they do have a bright future with the young offense, solid O-line, and decent defense. The defense will hopefully be upgraded in the draft and free agency. Now, if New England, Green bay, or Pittsburgh wins the Super Bowl, I'll have some money coming from future wagers!

    3. Well, I knew you read every blog post, I just didn't realize you memorized all of them!

      I think you'll win your bet, I can't see Atlanta winning the SuperBowl. I don't think they'll get there.

      But then, what do I know?

  2. it had gotten to the point where it was too late to leave early

    LOL, I like this.

  3. Replies
    1. Haha. As you told me at the time! I didn't get a chance to point out in my post my new column was all about MGM promos (but not this one). That was written before I won the promo and furthermore, Rob didn't know anything about it when I won. But I admit the circumstantial evidence is bad.

  4. same issue comes up quite often in my hotels too. but sometimes it works. sometimes the same hotel ive been in before.

    1. Yeah. Sometimes it might actually a software issue (ore even a hardware issue) with your laptop, Tony.

      Other times....the hotel could be messed up. So hard to figure out.

  5. Arcane command likely was executed from a DOS prompt window: ipconfig /release

    Congrats on the $500 score!

    1. Thanks, Lester...

      I don't recall to be honest. There were two commands I had to do, then reboot. I can't find the website I got the instructions from, hopefully I can find it if I need it again.

  6. If they give away $800 total to a pool of ~30 players, your EV is ~$25 ($26.67 if exactly 30 cards are in the drawing). If you're playing poorly, hanging around another hour or so chasing $25 (or a shot at a piece of $800) is likely -EV overall.

    1. Oh sure, so typical. Throwing facts and math at me.