POST RACE UPDATE: Big Brown. Wow.
Here is your Kentucky Derby winner.
How did I arrive at this pick? It took three easy steps...More in this Poker Blog! -->
1. It started with a text message this morning from BG:
"$21 to win on BOB BLACK JACK, $10 to win on MONBA"
With a brother named Bob, and the obvious gambling reference, BG would be crazy NOT to bet on Bob Black Jack. That's where his heart is. That means his head must be with Monba. (Full disclosure: This is only a guess at BG's motive for that pick, especially since on Friday, BG told me he wasn't actually going to handicap the card.)
2. I read off the names of all 20 horses to Lady Luck, and she selected Monba.
3. Armed with this knowledge, I did a little handicapping of the field. Here's what I figured out:
Colonel John should go off as the favorite and has a great shot at winning this race. Coming out of the 10th post, he's in much better shape than Big Brown. And in the Santa Anita Derby one month ago, he showed the 1 1/4m distance likely won't faze him. That said, I won't bet the favorite in a 20-horse Derby field.
Big Brown should go off as the second favorite. He also has a shot at winning this race, but coming out of the 20th post will be more than he can overcome. He'll expend a lot of energy to get himself closer to the rail and the four horses inside of him are too good to allow him that room. This is the best horse in the field, but he won't win.
Pyro should go off as the third favorite. It wouldn't shock me to see him win. He'll leave the gate just inside of Colonel John. The Blue Grass Stakes was a disaster for Pyro (he finished 10th) but I think the Louisiana Derby is probably a better indication of what he may bring on this day. However, he won't win.
A half-dozen other horses will be real contenders: Wood Memorial-winner Tale of Ekati, Florida Deby-runner up Smooth Air, Santa Anita Derby-runner up Bob Black Jack (who should be the early speed), Blue Grass Stakes-runner up Cowboy Cal, Illinois Derby-winner Recapturetheglory, and Arkansas Derby-winner Gayego (beware of injury whispers on this horse).
All those horses are certainly capable making this a very difficult field to break down. It doesn't take much skill, however, to list 10 horses that could win a race. What you want is the winner. And that winner will be Monba.
I anticipate Monba getting out good from the 14th post, following Bob Black Jack who may be the early leader. Look for Monba to settle in a few off the rail by the first turn. He'll be in trouble if he lets those big horses outside of him get a jump on him, but I think he'll be fine.
By the stretch, Pyro will be passing Bob Black Jack, Big Brown will be rallying from well back on the outside, Colonel John will begin his move from the middle of the pack, but Monba will be best positioned to get the win. He'll duel with Pyro, before winning by a length, Colonel John will get up for third, Big Brown fourth and Bob Black Jack fifth.
There it is. The Blue Grass Stakes winner will make it happen again.
And, since you asked, Big Brown will take the Preakness and Colonel John (after skipping the Preakness) will take the Belmont.
Place your bets!
My bets are now placed.
$10 Win #14 Monba
$10 Win #9 Pyro
$7 Win #2 Tale of Ekati
$5 Win #13 Bob Blackjack
$2 Ex #14 Monba w/ #9 Pyro
$2 Ex Box #9 Pyro, #10 Colonel John, #20 Big Brown
$2 Tri #14 Monba w/ #9 Pyro w/ #10 Colonel John
$1 Tri #14 Monba, #9 Pyro w/ #14 Monba, #9 Pyro, #10 Colonel John, #20 Big Brown w/ #10 Colonel John, #20 Big Brown, #13 Bob Black Jack
$2 Tri Box #9 Pyro, #10 Colonel John, #20 Big Brown
$1 Super #14 Monba, #9 Pyro, #10 Colonel John, #20 Big Brown
$1 Super #14 Monba, #9 Pyro w/ #14 Monba, #9 Pyro, #10 Colonel John, #20 Big Brown w/ #10 Colonel John, #13 Bob Blackjack, #20 Big Brown w/ #10 Colonel John, #13 Bob Blackjack, #20 Big Brown
$1 High Five #14 Monba w/ #9 Pyro w/ #10 Colonel John w/ #20 Big Brown w/ #13 Bob Blackjack
That's $96 dollars in bets. I planned to spend $100, but lost a few bucks on the 9th race (Oneida did pick the winner by name, however, or I would have lost even more!). Good luck at the windows!<-- Hide More
My good friends here at the Up for Poker blog hate it when I write about something other than poker itself. This is not the "Up for Whatever Is on G-Rob's Mind" blog. Frankly I agree that such a blog would be the most irrational sort of nonsense on the web... which is setting the bar pretty low.
That said, I do love to gamble on nearly anything at all. One year Otis and I spent an entire Super Bowl betting on whether the next commercial would be "Car, Food, or Beer."
It's a sickness. But if you're sick like me, poker is gambling for pussies.
So here's another way to not-gamble-for-money-because-that's-illegal:More in this Poker Blog! -->
FIRST THE BACKGROUND
There are a number of places where a person who was so inclined might place a wager on a Presidential contest.
The best known is Intrade, based in Ireland.
Here are the prices for the Democratic Nomination as of 1:50PM Tuesday:
Obama 81.3 (down .2)
Clinton 16.1 (up 1.1)
Those are the price of a "share" that pays $100 if correct. They are traded daily... bought and sold among users like commodities on the US Exchange.
There are other sites that offer similar predictions in similar ways, but very few that allow actual wagers. It is not LEGAL to bet on this in the US.
As I write this I'm bored out of my mind waiting for the polls to close in PA. I've made my "prediction" using the best information I can get and now I'm waiting for the die to fall.
But speaking of information, check this out:
These polls were all done in the past few days. First column is the pollster, second is the dates of the survey, third is the sample size (LV = likely voters) and finally the numbers:
|InsiderAdvantage||04/21 - 04/21||712 LV||49-42 Clinton +7.0|
|Zogby||04/20 - 04/21||675 LV||51-41 Clinton +10.0|
|Rasmussen||04/20 - 04/20||722 LV||49-44 Clinton +5.0|
|Suffolk||04/19 - 04/20||600 LV||52-42 Clinton +10.0|
|PPP||04/19 - 04/20||2338 LV||46-49 Obama +3.0|
|Strategic Vision||04/18 - 04/20||1200 LV||48-41 Clinton +7.0|
|Quinnipiac||04/18 - 04/20||1027 LV||51-44 Clinton +7.0|
|SurveyUSA||04/18 - 04/20||710 LV||50-44 Clinton +6.0|
Those numbers are pretty much useless.
Here are the Intrade lines:
Now I'm not saying those are damn good 10-1 odds for Obama but it ain't a bad bet.
I'm guessing Clinton wins by 10.
That said, I'd take the 10-1 and root like hell for Obama. As if you weren't anyway.<-- Hide More
Full disclosure: I've never won the Pick 6.
On Sept. 3 of last year, BG and I put together a Pick 6 ticket that came within a nose of winning. Five out of 6 paid a few hundred bucks for us, but we were that close to a big pay day. The day before, we lost one race by a head and another by a half-length. Close yet again to a really nice pay day.
If there's one truism in betting the ponies, however, it's that close doesn't pay the bills. And yet, here I am, imparting my amatuer knowledge on you. Thank me later.More in this Poker Blog! -->
1) Identify the card. Not every Pick 6 is made to be won. Each year, the Breeder's Cup features the Ultra Pick 6. In 2006, no one hit it. The year before, just one ticket that paid almost $3 million. It's a tough card. When BG and I played it last year, it was probably the worst results we'd ever had on a Pick 6 partnership.
It's important to identify a card you feel comfortable handicapping. Sometimes those Grade 1 Stakes are a little trickier, and a card full of Grade 1's might not be right for you. Pick a track you like and a track with which you have some experience.
2) Identify the carryover. A carryover in the Pick 6 is equivalent to an overlay in a tournament. It's money that's added to the pot by someone other than the bettors. That's always a good thing. On that one Pick 6 back in September, there was a whopping $245,000 carryover. When BG and I see something like that, we mobilize.
3) Identify your budget. It's just like your bankroll. You won't sit down at a $5/$10 NL table with $300. Don't plan on betting 4 horses per race with $300. There's simple math here. If you pick 3 horses per race, that's 3x3x3x3x3x3 mutiplied by $2. You better have $1458 for those 18 horses in that case. Mix is up a little, say 4x1x5x5x1x2, muliplied by $2, and you're spending just $400 for those 18 horses. Pick a budget and find a combination that fits.
4) Throw out the losers. Tossing horses is important. It makes it a lot easier to narrow down your choices. In every race, there are at least a handful of horses who just don't belong. I generally work my way through the card and eliminate at least half the horses from any consideration.
5) Find the "singles." Want to keep your budget down? Find at least one race in which you feel like there's a sure thing. Every "single" you find will significantly bring down your costs. Of course, it's scary going into a race with only one horse that will keep you alive, but most people don't have thousands of dollars to spend on a Pick 6 ticket.
6) Identify a few long shots. You'll rarely ever find a Pick 6 ticket full of chalk. It just doesn't happen. The difference between you getting that 5 out of 6 consolation ticket and the guy next to you cashing for six figures is finding the right long shots. You can't (and wouldn't want to) load up your ticket with long shots because, well, they're long shots for a reason. But finding one or two that may shock the field could help you to a much bigger pay day when they come in.
7) Narrow the rest. What I've suggested up until now is easy. This step is the hardest. In general, after completing the steps suggested above, you'll be left with as many as three times as many horses as you can afford to put on your ticket. There's no sure-fire way to narrow your choices. If there were, BG and I would be retired on our Pick 6 winnings by now. Instead, it's about smart handicapping and playing your feelings.
8) Get lucky. This one is kinda self-explanatory. Some of us are better at it than others.
Remember, it's not about handicapping each race individually like you would if you were betting a card. This is about picking 6 straight winners. This is about identifying a group of horses that can win. After you've made your choices and placed your bet, cross your fingers and pray to whatever god of luck you believe in.
And speaking of Pick 6's, BG and I are likely getting back on the horse (pun intended). That means we'll be looking for investors. We'll probably do a small one first to get back in rhythm before targeting a nice potential payday. I'll let you know when the time comes.<-- Hide More
I've never been much of a pool player. I can hold a cue stick and sink a few balls, but apart from one very unfortunate incident in the back of an Atlanta club in which I let hubris and drink get the best of me, I don't play for money.
Unless I'm rolling with one particular friend who, in the days before poker, made a few bucks hustling on a different kind of felt. In his day, he was a pretty damned good pool player and his demeanor makes him perfect for getting a game. Not surprisingly, he now spends more time playing cards than he does playing nine-ball.
I would never have asserted that poker killed the pool hustler's game. Fortunately, someone with more chops than me has done it.More in this Poker Blog! -->
In his New York Times Op-Ed, L. Jon Wertheim, senior writer at Sports Illustrated, writes that the advent of online poker and popularity of the game overall has played a roll in killing off the role of pool hustler in our underground gambling community.
Of course, Wertheim (as he pimps his new book on the subject), offers more than a few other reasons for the death of the hustler. Everything from gas prices, to the internet pool forums, to a scam artist are to blame for an ages-old gambling icon biting the dust. As I read through it, I occasionally substituted the word "poker" for "pool" and was bemused at how how many correlations I found. I don't have to point them out. If you read here, you already know what I mean.
Regardless, it makes for an interesting read, if you're into that kind of thing.
Oh, and if makes anny difference, if you happen to see me in Vegas next week, don't bother asking if I want to play pool. It won't turn out well for anybody.<-- Hide More
From across the street, it might have looked like I was checking to see if my wallet was in the right spot. Or maybe it would've looked like I was feeling my ass, just to make sure I hadn't lost it in the past six weeks. The joke would be on whoever was playing Otis Voyeur. I don't carry a wallet and I haven't seen my ass in years.
No, I was feeling to see how much I had in my pocket. After you do this for a while, you can get a sense for how much you're carrying. Thickness and weight, all jokes aside, make a difference.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I slipped in the door and worked my way into the crowd. It was an eclectic bunch--women, men, old, young, wealthy, poor. There was a line. I didn't want to wait, but my jones was too strong.
When it was my turn, I stepped up and nodded to the familiar face.
"How much?" he asked, tired, ready to go home. He needed the adrenaline we all sought.
"Ten," I said and handed him my bills.
The transaction took less than thirty seconds. I slipped my purchase in my pocket and made for my car as fast as I could. I knew how it would end. In just a few hours, I'd be wanting more, my ten turned worthless inside of a few lousy ticks of the clock.
I am running so bad at Powerball, it makes me sick.
Don't get me wrong, I know I can't win every time. I know I can't even win every week. And, I know it's a game with a lot of variance. I mean, one week you're winning the thing and you feel on top of the world. The next week, you can't win the thing to save your life. The swings can be insane. It's hard to shake the winning feeling after you win $180 million. That's why it's so easy to put money in time and again when you suspect you might be behind.
I've studied, too. I mean, I've considered there might be something wrong with my game. I labored over Super:System:Powerball. I have lucubrated over the numbers. I think I'm on top of it. I think there is a pretty decent chance that I have just as good of odds to win as anybody else in the country. And yet, week after week (espcecially recently) I walk away a loser. This weekend, some weekend warrior from Oregon took it down. It fucking kills me to see these jokers come in and think they own the entire world just because they can win one of these things. Come see me after you go a year without winning one, boys. Then we'll talk about how good you are.
But, I know, man. I know I just gotta keep plugging away. My time will come. I mean, everybody runs bad. Variance happens.
As long as this Powerball thing is legal, I'm going to stick with it. And since it's a game of skill, I suspect I'll be able to play the lottery for a long, long time.<-- Hide More
Think you know more about the NCAA Tournament than me? Well, you'd be wrong, but that doesn't mean you can't try. I've set up a bracket challenge to see just who amongst us can make the most correct guesses. Because, really, we all know this has nothing to do with college basketball knowledge.
So, now's your chance to lose to The Luckbox. Just click here to join the Up For Sports Bracket Challege. The password, appropriately enough, is luckbox. If you've got any problems joining up, just let me know!
Since the Wicked Chops guys seem to love alliteration so much, I decided to let the staff intern write the headline for this post. The post is inspired by a short trip to the Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner, LA. To be honest, there ain't much to see. Most importantly, there's no poker room. However, that doesn't mean there wasn't "poker" being played...More in this Poker Blog! -->
With the explosion of casino poker rooms in America, there's been a huge push to make a little extra money off the game. That means the introduction of table games with an element of poker. First, it may actually attract your average poker player who's either waiting for a table or steaming from a bad session. Second, it will attract those people who are still afraid of sitting down at a real poker table.
You've probably seen one of these games popping up in casinos in Las Vegas. It's called Texas Hold'em Bonus. The other one was new to me, and I've only seen it at this little casino in Kenenr. It's called Flop Poker. As most of you should know, there's no way these games could possibly be a good bet. The question, however, is just how much of an edge does the casino have? Thanks to the Wizard of Odds, I can answer that question for you.
Here's how it's played: Each player at the table bets the "Ante" and the "Pot." The dealer then deals each player three cards. After looking at your cards you can either fold (and lose your Ante bet) or bet the "Flop" (an equal bet to your Ante). The dealer then reveals the three community cards (for a total of six cards). You use all three of your cards and two of the community cards to make a five cards poker hand.
If you have a pair of Jacks or better, your Ante bet pays 1-1 and your Flop bet pays according to the strength of your hand (Jacks 1-1 up to Royal Flush 1000-1). Finally, the player at the table with the best hand wins the "Pot" (if there are six players who each put $5 in the pot, the player with the best hand wins $30).
Sounds simple, right? But can you win? The short answer is NO. In fact, apart from counting cards in Blackjack, you can't win at any table game. So let's take the bets one at a time.
The "Pot" bet has a zero edge. You put the money in and have an equal chance of winning the "Pot" as every other player. Theoretically, you should win the hand as often as everyone else.
The "Ante" bet is obviously a terrible bet. It pays 1-1 no matter how good of a hand you end up having.
The "Flop" bet is just a bad bet because the payout never approaches the actual probability of the hand hitting.
The Wizard of Odds tells us the house edge on your initial bet is 5.42%. However, because multiple bets are being made, the element of risk is only 2.91%. (The element of risk is defined as the ratio of expected loss to the total amount wagered.) For comparison, the house edge for Roulette is 5.26% (Roulette is one of the worst games in the casino).
Texas Hold'em Bonus
This game is a player vs. dealer game. You start by making an "Ante" bet and an optional "Bonus" bet (the Bonus bet is ALWAYS a sucker bet, in fact, the Wizard of Odds tells us the house edge on that bet is a whopping 8.54%). Each player and the dealer is then dealt two cards. After looking at the cards, you have option of making a "Flop" bet which is twice your "Ante" bet or folding.
Then the dealer lays out the flop. From there, the player can either do nothing or make a "Turn" bet equal to the "Ante." Then a turn card is dealt and the player can again do nothing or make a "River" bet equal to the "Ante." Finally, the river card is dealt and it's time for the showdown, using any 5-card combination from the seven cards available.
If the player beats the dealer, the "Flop," "Turn" and "River" bets pay 1-1. If the player's hand is a straight or better, the "Ante" bet also plays 1-1. If the player and dealer hands are equal, it's a push.
The Wizard of Odds tells us the house edge on the game is 2.037%. However, because the average bet on the hand is 3.81 units, the element of risk is a tiny 0.5335%. That's not so bad. For comparison, the house edge on Pai Gow Poker is 2.73%.
So if you're dying to hit the table games after leaving the poker tables, you may want to give Texas Hold'em Bonus a try. Just don't bet the Bonus!!!<-- Hide More
Updated with ongoing results
G-Rob threw down the gauntlet yesterday and decided to put his beloved flipping penny up against Luckbox and BG in picking the NFL games. I decided his methods were far too scientific to properly humiliate the sportsbettting side of UFP. With that said, we offer you this week's UFP NFL Humiliation Challenge.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Penny--Shiny Amercican currency equivalent to one cent -- also, G-Rob's friend
Li'l Otis--Two years old
While Luckbox and BG use years of NFL sportsbetting knowledge, G-Rob flipped his friend, and Otis gave his two-year-old the team names for each game. Whatever team name his son spit back out was the pick (witnessed by Mrs. Otis).
The next time the four players are in the same city, the loser has to buy the winner (or the winner's proxy) a shot of his choice and a companion shot for the loser to drink as well. The winner also gets to poke the loser in the belly and make the Pillsbury Doughboy noise.
KANSAS CITY +2.5 AT ST.LOUIS
Luckbox: Kansas City, to win outright.
L'il Otis: Chiefs
Winner: Kansas City Chiefs
CINCINNATI +3 AT BALTIMORE
Luckbox: Cincinnati, although the Bengals blow.
Lâ€™il Otis: Ravens
Winner: Baltimore Ravens
HOUSTON +13 AT N.Y. GIANTS
Luckbox: New York, not even I'm dumb enough to pick the Texans.
Lâ€™il Otis: Giants
Winner: Houston Texans
TITANS + 9.5 AT JACKSONVILLE
Luckbox: Titans beat the spread.
Lâ€™il Otis: Jaguars
Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars
COWBOYS -3 AT REDSKINS
Lâ€™il Otis: Redskins
Winner: Washington Redskins
PACKERS +3 AT BILLS
BG: Green Bay
Lâ€™il Otis: Packers
Winner: Buffalo Bills
SAINTS -1 at BUCS
Lâ€™il Otis: Bucaneers
Winner: New Orleans Saints
FALCONS -5.5 AT LIONS
Lâ€™il Otis: Lions
Winner: Detroit Lions
DOLPHINS +13.5 AT BEARS
Luckbox: Bears, by 30 (my lock of the week).
Lâ€™il Otis: Bears
Winner: Miami Dolphins
VIKINGS -5.5 AT 49ERS
Penny: San Francisco
Lâ€™il Otis: Vikings
Winner: San Francisco 49ers
BROWNS +12.5 AT CHARGERS
Luckbox: San Diego
Lâ€™il Otis: Browns
Winnner: Cleveland Browns
DENVER +3 AT PITTSBURGH
Lâ€™il Otis: Steelers
Winner: Denver Broncos
COLTS +3 AT NEW ENGLAND
Bears. Steelers. Colts.
Winner: Indianapolis Colts
RAIDERS +7.5 at SEAHAWKS
Lâ€™il Otis: Seahawks
L'il Otis: 8-6
So let me start by saying, yes, I've invested in the "Wacky Pick 6" ordeal. I have some degree of faith in the horse picking acumen of BG and Luckbox. But nobody, not even those with initials for names can outpick me (I use an initial AND a name) in football.
(Ed. note: Luckbox's picks are now added. And there are other "initial-names" I can think of, like F-You A-Hole.)More in this Poker Blog! -->
G-Rob: Hello, and good luck this week. Lots of good games. I hope to use skill and insight in picking them all just right.
G-Rob: Well said. Now let's agree on methods. I'll look up the gambling lines on NFL games (as of Saturday morning) then flip you, dear coin, to determine the winner. Heads is the home team... Tails the visitor.
G-Rob: Our first game...
KANSAS CITY +2.5 AT ST.LOUIS
G-Rob: Good read Mr. Coin. I agree. I like the Rams because they used to have Kurt Warner, and now they don't. Plus, St. Louis is the most dangerous city in America. The Chiefs will be scared.
Luckbox's pick: Kansas City, to win outright.
CINCINNATI +3 AT BALTIMORE
G-Rob: WOW! You and I are really on the same page. I like the Bengals because they have that cool "Fear the Tiger" song. Plus, nobody QUOTHS the Raven anymore. Nevermore!
G-Rob: Next up...
Luckbox's pick: Cincinnati, although the Bengals blow.
HOUSTON +13 AT N.Y. GIANTS
G-Rob: Damn you're good. By the way, did you know there's a college football coach named Houston Nutt? Nutt? HAW HAW! I'm glad that didn't influence your decision coin. I'd have been distracted.
Luckbox's pick: New York, not even I'm dumb enough to pick the Texans.
TITANS + 9.5 AT JACKSONVILLE
G-Rob: Starting to doubt the whole randomness thing Mr. Coin. You're really trying to impress me, aren't you? Don't worry... there's no WAY we could do worse than Luckbox.
Luckbox's pick: Titans beat the spread.
COWBOYS -3 AT REDSKINS
G-Rob: I'm checking you... hey... I'm not getting fresh... I want to see your... ouch... OK. You do have tails. I'm just sayin'.
Luckbox's pick: Crygirls, although I hate picking them.
PACKERS +3 AT BILLS
G-Rob: Nice. I agree because I'm sick of Bills. Plus, Otis is kind of a Packer.
Luckbox's pick: Buffalo, Favre is on his last leg.
SAINTS -1 at BUCS
G-Rob: I'm gonna go with you again coin, but I have my doubts. Athiests have a had time rooting for Saints. At least Pirates exist.
Luckbox's pick: New Orleans... they've got some magic.
FALCONS -5.5 AT LIONS
G-Rob: I like this pick because I've interviewed Vick. He was looking for an ear ring on the practice field and I asked him about the grass. I was doing a profile of the guy who cuts it. Plus, my sister in law had a drink with him at a hotel bar. Besides, Ron Mexico is an awesome nickname.
Luckbox's pick: Atlanta, the Lions just aren't very good.
DOLPHINS +13.5 AT BEARS
G-Rob: Hmmm, even Luckbox and BG might not make such a silly pick. But, since we're trying to show how useless that analysis is... good pick Mr. Coin.
Luckbox's pick: Bears, by 30 (my lock of the week).
VIKINGS -5.5 AT 49ERS
G-Rob: Well said. I think Joe Montana is awesome. You'll have to excuse him, he's upstairs masturbating. (Bonus Points to readers who get that joke.)
Luckbox's pick: Minnesota covers.
BROWNS +12.5 AT CHARGERS
G-Rob: This makes me happy because I once won a bunch of money in the Mandalay Bay Sportsbook while singing the Charger fight song with AlCan'tHang. Good Times.
Luckbox's pick: San Diego covers with or without Merriman.
DENVER +3 AT PITTSBURGH
G-Rob: I hope you're wrong. I hate Pittsburgh.
Luckbox's pick: Denver wins outright.
COLTS +3 AT NEW ENGLAND
G-Rob: I also hate New England. Never met anyone from Boston that wasn't either and asshole or a nerd. Nerds mostly.
Luckbox's pick: Colts win outright.
RAIDERS +7.5 at SEAHAWKS
G-Rob: Good Pick again. And remember, dear coin, you're just as likely to succeed as BG and Luckbox. In fact, I'll bet you do better.
Luckbox's pick: Seahawks in a romp.<-- Hide More
You'd think that someone known as the Boy Genius and someone known as The Luckbox would be able to manage a better than .500 record picking NFL games. You'd think that... and you'd be wrong. We've picked 4 out of 7 weeks so far, and I'm sitting at 27-28-2 while my fearless compatriot is at 26-29-2. It has to get better, right?
So without further ado, I give you week 8 in the NFL:More in this Poker Blog! -->
CJ: Welcome to Week 8. What I've been able to demonstrate thus far is that I'm not very good at this. But I took a week off to study really, really hard, and now I'm ready to roll!!
Boy Genius: No, you took a week off to sit on a cold mountaintop and watch a bunch of hippies dance in circles.
CJ: Okay, that too, but nonetheless. I've been enlightened.
Ari at GB -4
CJ: Let's get started with a really, really easy one. It's the Cardinals at the Packers and the Packers are giving 4.
Boy Genius: This is at Lambeau, which I imagine explains this line. I mean, something's got to give here. Arizona gave Oakland their first win last week, and Green Bay let Joey Harrington (!) throw for 400 and two TDs. Here's the trick though... Green Bay got two of their three turnovers on badly played balls by Miami wideouts, and if Arizona can take care of the ball, they'll be fine. I don't know about a win, but let's say it's close. Green Bay 23 - Arizona 21.
CJ: Well, something has to explain the line. After watching the Packers stumble week after week, perhaps only a visit from the Arizona Cardinals can solve their woes. Here's the thing... the Cardinals are the better team. There's no reason why the lost to the Raiders, and there's no reason why they blew it against the Bears. They don't blow it this week and Leinart has a field day against the Packers terrible D. Arizona 27-Green Bay 20.
Boy Genius: I can see that. Maybe Edge gets a chance to pad his gaudy 2.7 yards per carry stat line too.
Atl at Cin -3.5
Boy Genius: Anyway, the next game on the schedule is one I was hoping against hope I'd get to see on TV this weekend - Atlanta at Cincy. Alas, no dice for me on that one, I get mired in NFC/AFC East football. What do you think about Cincy's chances?
CJ: This should be a hell of a game. The Bengals are favored by 3.5 at home meaning in the oddsmakers minds, this game is a bit of a toss up on a neutral field. Atlanta may have had their coming out last week in that OT win over the Steelers, but their D was exposed. And that's something Palmer, Johnson, and Housyomomma should be able to take advantage of. Bengals win 31-24.
Boy Genius: I love how Chad Johnson's trash talk is back. I was really hoping D'Angelo Hall would bite on the bait, but apparently Mora lobotomized him prior to Thursday's practice. I think this could be a great game, maybe the best one on tomorrow's card. I'll project Atlanta coming out on top though. They're playing good football, and their defensive strength plays well against Cincy's aerial attack. When will Carson and CJ get on track? Maybe next week. Atlanta 27 - Cincy 17.
Bal at NO -1.5
CJ: Speaking of good games. Before this season started, was there any chance the Saints would be favored by a point and a half at home against the Ravens? The Saints? When do they come back down to earth?
Boy Genius: This week, plain and simple. They may be at home and they may be giving points away, but the Ravens defense is well equipped to play sideline-to-sideline with the Saints. I think this week is the one where the Saints end up looking like... well, the Saints again. Baltimore gets one offensive TD and one defensive TD, and that's plenty. Ravens 20 - Saints 16.
CJ: I'd love to disagree with you here, and by the time I'm done typing, I just might. I was in the Dome a few weeks back when the Eagles blew a 4th quarter lead. There was just something about that place. I still can't get the "Who Dat? Who Dat? Who Dat saying they gonna beat dem Saints?" out of my head. Until someone proves to me the Saints aren't blessed at home, I'm not going to pick against them. There, I've decided. Saints 21-Ravens 16.
Boy Genius: Fair enough, you don't want to mess with karma anyway - especially with the week you've had already Luckbox.
Hou at Ten -3
Boy Genius: Moving on, we go from extreme to extreme this week. Games like Atlanta versus Cincy are juxtaposed right up against Houston at Tennessee. Tennessee is giving three, and the line hasn't budged all week. Is it because nobody outside Vince Young's immediate family gives a crap?
CJ: That's gotta be it, otherwise, I'd see this game being at least a 5 point game for the Texans. I think they finally showed last week that there is a bit of promise in that team. Stomping Jacksonville isn't easy, no matter how banged up they are. Plus, they're starting to finally develop a running game. Wali Lundy put up 93 tough yards and should be the guy. Texans roll 24-12.
Boy Genius: I'm thinking this game might be more fun than that. Remember week one's Titans/Jets tilt? Didn't that one end up something like 38-35 Jets? I think we're in for an ol' fashioned AFC South Shootout (TM). Let's assume they trade punches all day long, and if they do who's going to be best equipped to be the last one standing? Tennessee, featuring running back Travis "Earl Campbell Junior" Henry. What's in his Gatorade bottle? Titans 41 - Texans 35.
Boy Genius: Yes, I just said to play the OVER.
CJ: That would certainly be a coming out for Vince. I'm not sure they have the firepower, but I sure believe the Texans could.
Jac at Phi -7.5
CJ: So what about my game of the week, Jacksonville at Philly, the Eagles giving 7.5?
Boy Genius: I turned down an invite to watch this one at the Linc from a luxury box. You heard me. I would bet the network execs came into the season with high hopes for this matchup, but with Leftwich sitting, Mike Peterson hurt, and the Jags not exactly firing on all cylinders, we're not in for a battle here. Philly's dropped two in a row, one emotional game and one fluky kick. Screw it, they come out firing. Philly's favored by 7.5 and they obliterate the line. Eagles 27 - Jags 13.
CJ: Jacksonville is missing 5 key defenders, which I think is a lot more important than losing Leftwich. After all, Garrard was 5-1 as a starter last year. This line opened at around 4 points, so it's clear the betting public thinks the line is a joke. I tend to agree. Eagles have lost all three on the final play of the game. There won't be a chance for that this week. Eagles 38-Jags 17.
Boy Genius: Either way, we both say blowout.
Sea at KC -4.5
Boy Genius: One of the more interesting games on the card today is Seattle at KC, which features a who's who of injured skill players. SENECA WALLACE! BRODIE CROYLE! MAURICE MORRIS! IT'S THE NFL! ON FOX! Line opened up with KC giving six, now it's down to four-and-a-half. Is Brodie Croyle worth a point and a half to the Seahawk secondary?
CJ: Would anyone in their right mind bet this game? I mean, apart from Iowa State fans? The game plan for KC should be simple if Huard is definitely out. Snap. Turn. Handoff. If they do that enough, they'll win this game. I see a low scoring slugfest with the Chiefs winning, but not covering. KC 20-Seattle 17.
Boy Genius: I bet it's not even that much of an offensive showcase. Croyle throws for 168 on 48% passing, no TDs and two picks. Wallace throws for 220, one and one. LJ is the difference, but will be running against ten to fifteen in the box all day. I think Seattle can get this win - Hawks 13 - Chiefs 10.
SF at Chi -16
CJ: And we move to the biggest line of the week, Bears at home giving a whopping 16 to the Niners. Any chance of an upset here?
Boy Genius: HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!11! Bears 44 - Niners 3. Next.
CJ: Have you forgotten the Cardinals already??? The Bears are exposed. It's all over for them! Aw, screw it. Bears 50 - Niners 6.
Boy Genius: Exactly. Which means you should play the Niners on the money line.
TB at NYG -9
Boy Genius: Exactly. Anyway, the Giants get to host the Bucs, who are one bogus roughing the passer call and one ridiculous field goal (sorry) from being 0-7. Giants are at home giving nine. Why do I think that's too light in this battle of the Barber brothers?
CJ: It's true, the Bucs have been rather fortunate, but... it's also clear they are playing much better. They were a playoff team last year, after all. I wasn't sure why they were as bad as they were to start the season. I don't think they have enough to win this game, but I think Gradkowski will keep it close again and the TB D forces Eli to make some mistakes. Giants 23-Bucs 16.
Boy Genius: Hmm... so the Bucs cover in your world? Is this just a feeble attempt to justify last week's Eagles loss? I just don't see it. The Giants are tough and are going to harass Gradkowski all day long. Barber gets 180 combined yards, Plax catches a TD, and the Bucs have a hard time getting anything going. It's all Giants, all day long. NYG 30 - Bucs 17.
CJ: Yes, Bucs cover. And not feebly!
StL at SD -9.5
CJ: Okay, let's move on to another big line. Chargers favored by 9.5 at home against the Rams.
Boy Genius: This line is wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong. Is someone on the Rams offense hurt that I haven't heard about? Is Ryan Fitzpatrick playing? Did Leonard Little get stopped for another DUI? No? Then what the hell is this all about? Rams aren't going to win, but they're not going down by two scores either. The Chargers can and will handle them - SD 27 - STL 23.
CJ: Maybe it's because Shawn Merriman will be off the 'roids this week. I'm puzzled by this line, too. The Rams have been a pretty solid team this year. They can put up points and their D isn't that bad. There's no reason they lose by 10 this week. Chargers 30 - Rams 21.
Ind at Den -3
Boy Genius: That's agreeable. Interestingly enough, we segway into another game where the line doesn't make a great deal of sense to me. Indy visits Denver and Denver's giving two-and-a-half away. Did I miss where Indy's dropped a game this year? I thought they were still undefeated. Help me out.
CJ: Clearly the bettors are giving the Denver defense waaaaaay too much credit. We're talking about a Broncos team that averages 3.467 points a game on offense. Or something like that. If they can't get in the end zone early and often, they won't stop Manning enough. Indy wins 28-10.
Boy Genius: I totally agree. The Broncos did shut down New England (winning 17-7), but their other victories were against KC, Baltimore, Oakland and Cleveland. So let's not get down on our knees and fumble for their zippers yet, alright? This game is either going to be the day the Bronco D gets taken seriously, or the day they state their case for a first round playoff exit. I bet the latter. Indy 24 - Broncos 9.
NYJ at Cle -2
CJ: And we're back to games I care absolutely nothing about. Could there be a more boring matchup than the Jets at the Browns? And on top of that, is there a good reason the Browns are giving two?
Boy Genius: No and no? Is the Browns defense appreciably better than the Lions D that couldn't stop the march of the Penningtons and the rise of Leon Freaking Washington last week?
Boy Genius: No and no.
Boy Genius: So let's just move on and say Jets 24 - Browns 17.
Boy Genius: Yawn
CJ: I won't waste twenty words on this game. Jets win and cover, 20-10.
Pit at Oak +9
Boy Genius: Last of the day games Sunday brings Pittsburgh to Oakland, which sounds like a great game... in 1978. It might be Batch versus Tuiasosopo if we get lucky, and you KNOW I'm praying for that kind of good luck. Jesus, has there been a year with more gawdawful backup QBs playing than this? Steelers giving nine in Oakland, what's your take?
CJ: My take? Maybe, just maybe, the Steelers are better off with Batch in there right now. I don't think Roethlisberger has been right since he was tackled by a Toyota Camry. The Raiders may have beaten the Cards, but they can't put up much of a fight here. Steelers 30-Raiders 12.
Boy Genius: Agreed, I can't see this one unfolding any other way either. Pittsburgh 27 - Oakland 10. Of course, this means you should jump all over the Raiders ("you" meaning everyone but me).
Boy Genius: By the way, here's a partial list of quarterbacks that could be playing this week: Batch, Walter, Croyle, Romo, Gradkowski, Wallace, Garrard
Boy Genius: Sickening
Dal at Car -5
CJ: Speaking of which, Sunday night is the official beginning of the Tony Romo experience. Could the Cowboys look any worse than they did last week?
Boy Genius: Gleefully, I say "YES." They're not that good, they just get the Ed Werder fellatio and the eternal blindness of optimism that befits Dallas "fans" coming into every week. It's emotionally satisfying to everyone else when they're looking for their QB of the Future by week eight, isn't it? Dallas getting five, Carolina at home, there's no way the Boys win and I'm betting no cover. Panthers 24 - NAMBLA's Team 13.
CJ: I hope you're right, I want the Cowboys to find new and interesting ways to suck. At least when my Eagles lose, it's heartbreaking. When the Cowboys lose, it make their fans sick with disgust. I think this week brings much of the same. If the Dallas O-line couldn't block the Giants, imagine what Julius Peppers will do. We might see Bledsoe back in the game yet! Panthers 21-Dallas 14.
Boy Genius: I'd like to see what happens if Parcells has a meltdown on the sideline mid-game. I know we've been waiting to see it from TO, but Billy's near the breaking point too.
NE at Min +1.5
Boy Genius: Anyway, last game of the week is the Pats visiting Minnesota on Monday night. I have some advice for my brother, who complains every week that his bets are always hinged around a single game that he manages to lose... Have this one be your game, that way you're live coming into Monday. Wouldn't that make sense? Minny giving anywhere from one to two-point-five depending on who you ask, so who are you asking?
CJ: This one confuses me, too. I guess being at home is what's got this line close for the Vikings. I just don't see it. The Patriots are rolling and shouldn't have much trouble with the offense of Brad Johnson and Chester Taylor. Give me the Pats as a road dog. New England wins 24-13.
Boy Genius: Hmm... I'm going to play the Vikes outright here. I think they're a jack-of-all-trades squad, just above-average at everything. I think they can take the Pats. Vikes 20 - Pats 17.
Locks of the Week
CJ: That's rather bold, especially once you hear my Lock of the Week (foreshadowing). But we'll start with yours. Where should we put our money?
Boy Genius: Hmm... I don't think the Chargers can cover. Play St. Louis as a road dog. You?
CJ: And I'm taking a road favorite. Give me the Pats all (Monday) night long. Not our usual great team versus terrible team "locks." Should be interesting.
Boy Genius: Absolutely, and as always, fade me immediately. Except Bob - listen when I tell you to key on the Minny game. That's that.
CJ: And good luck to anyone dumb enough to bet our picks, I know I won't!
Week 6 of the NFL season and Boy Genius and I are back again for our 4th week of picks. It's been, um, marginal at best so far. After three weeks, I'm a stellar 22-20-2 and BG is right behind me at 20-22-2. We should be better than this. The worst thing is that even if you were betting against us, you'd still be right around .500.
This week, we decided to get a jump start on the picks so that you can fully absorb them in time to make your bets. If you were to engage in that kind of illegal activity. So, without further ado, the CJ-BG football pick chat:More in this Poker Blog! -->
Buf at Det +1.5
CJ: Okay, welcome back sports gamblers. According to the U.S. Government, we are encouraging you to break the law. But since no one is crazy enough to bet our picks, I think we're fine. Let's get started, Buffao at Detroit, and the Lions are getting a point and a half. Thoughts?
Boy Genius: Hey, we get to lead off with my Lions. Faaaaaan-tastic. I thank insert-deity-of-your-choice here every day that I no longer live in Michigan and don't get weekly NFC North abominations piped into my my home. So the line opened at Lions GIVING one, now they're GETTING one. This Lions team isn't as bad as the Raiders, so even though they're currently winless I'm going to chalk them up for five wins through the rest of their schedule. That starts today. Kitna manages to look efficient, the defense gets a couple of Losman gimmies, and every snowed-in viewer in the greater Buffalo, NY area switches to their Fox affiliate by 330PM. Lions 24 - Bills 17.
CJ: I don't know what to think about Buffalo. I cerrtainly didn't expect then to give up 40 points to the Bears last week. Now they go into Detroit against a winless Lions team. I'm surprised by the volatility of this line as well. I'm also clueless here, but knowing your history on picks, guess that means I should take Buffalo to cover, 20-17.
Car at Bal -3
Boy Genius: Oh, that hurts CJ... That hurts. I'm going to forget you said that and move on to the Wooden Cigar Store Indian line of the week, dedicated to the one the Vegas boys got right from the jump. Baltimore's giving 3 to Carolina in Baltimore, and that one hasn't budged all week. Carolina has yet to find their rhythm and Baltimore got theirs derailed last Monday in Denver. Something's got to give. I think both teams can get after their opponent's QBs, and I think this is going to come down to one of these two teams making one big play each on offense and defense. Frankly, the defensive play could come from either team, but who on the Ravens is going 70 yards for a TD? I'm hesitant to pick a road dog after the couple of bad weeks I've put up here, but Carolina's a more complete team. Panthers 17 - Ravens 13. Panthers cover.
CJ: I've got a similar read on this game. There's been a lot of talk of what Steve McNair has been able to do for the Ravens, but, in reality, he hasn't been very good. He plays the safe QB role very well, but that's not going to win games against good teams (i.e. Denver) unless the Baltimore D scores, too. They won't this week, and the Panthers win 16-10.
Cin at TB +4.5
Boy Genius: We both look into the crystal ball and come up with a slugfest, which means all of you (two or three people - BOB AND DRIZZ) should be playing the OVER. Let's assume we're wrong on that one and move on to Cincy and Tampa. Hasn't this line been all over the place this week? Tampa was giving anywhere from 4.5 to 6.5 to the visiting Bengals, and as of right now you can get either 4.5 or 5.5 depending on where you want to spend your fictional gaming dollar-like credits. Whether you want to play the line at 4.5 or 5.5 take the Bengals. They're rested, they've done a good job of dealing with distractions, and they're capable of getting three picks off the young MAC QB Tampa's trotting out this week. Cincy's just got too many weapons, even for a quality defense like Tampa's to shut down. WHO DEY? 33 - Ball State 17.
CJ: I thought when this line moved from 6.5 to 4.5 that someone was shaving points. There's no reason for the line to move in Tampa's favor. I loved it at 6.5 and love it even more at 4.5. The Bucs haven't been very good this year and their close game against the Saints doesn't mean they're coming around. We'll soon learn that the Saints aren't as good as we think. And that means the Bucs aren't within a TD of the Bengals on any field. Cincy 30-Tampa 12.
Boy Genius: Hmm... I'm giving the Great Gradkowski credit for at least five more points, but we all know how good at this I've been so far, right?
Hou at Dal -13
CJ: You and me both! And I don't know if things will turn around this week. For instance, an easy bet each week should be someone to cover against the Texans. This week it's the Cowboys giving 13. Something tells me the Texans beat that spread. Carr is completing more than 70% of his passes and the Eagles showed how vulnerable the Dallas DB's are. Plus, if the Texans watched the tape, they know up the middle pressure could slow the Cowboys offense. Cowboys win 24-14, but don't cover.
Boy Genius: Shouldn't this be a rivalry game? They're in the same state and all, who do we have to talk to in order to get people to get fired up here? How about TO's position coach? Bet he's fired up. Here's the deal on this one... Houston's offense can keep them closer than 13, and I don't have faith that Bledsoe can find that kick in the stretch to pull away Secretariat-style. Julius Jones might be the biggest no-brainer fantasy football play of the week - and I think he'll get his 150 and 2 - but Bledsoe's predilection for back-breaking fumbles, sacks and INTs aren't going to cost a win, but should cost a cover. Dallas 31 - Houston 20. Line's just too damn wide.
NYG at Atl -3
Boy Genius: Since we're nearing in on your boys, and I know how excited you are to go to N'awlins to see them, I'll intro the next tilt. You know, I actually have NYC Fox to go with Philly's affiliate here, which means I get this game along with the Eagles/Saints tilt we'll talk about in a minute. This is the first time all season I'm going to have a difficult time figuring out what game to watch. It's not that the NFC East is growing on me, just that between Vick and Reggie Bush, I've got potential for some significant excitement in the 1PM hour. Atlanta's a three point favorite at home to New York, and I think that's about right. The Falcons have been nigh unstoppable on the ground, which means that Mikey doesn't have to worry about his semi-worthless WR corps making a play in a key situation. They've got plenty of second-and-shorts to look forward to. I think the strength of the Giants' D - their line - would seemingly be a neutralizing factor, but Vick is out of the pocket so quick that the Giants' stellar DEs are going to be in chase-mode all afternoon. Atlanta's D is also just good enough to not be a liability, and Abraham is scheduled to start. I like the Falcons - barely - 24-20.
CJ: As usual, for the Giants, the game will come down to what Eli Manning can do. Sometimes he looks like Peyton, other times he looks like Health Shuler. When get gets off to slow starts, the Giants become too one-dimensional and they can't effectively use all of their weapons. I think that happens again this week as Atlanta jumps out to an early lead. Should be a lot of points, but the Falcons cover, 30-24.
Phi at NO +3
CJ: Now on to the big game of the week!
Boy Genius: Oy
CJ: I'll be there, rooting on my Eagles. Their giving three points to the Saints in the Superdome. Everyone is saying this is a letdown game for Philly, but that just means they don't know Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb well. The Eagles are the better team, and Jim Johnson will devise a defense to control Reggie Bush. I don't think they'll have trouble covering. Eagles win 30-17.
Boy Genius: I'm sensing an uh-oh type of game for the juggernaut Eagles this week. New Orleans is playing confident, nearly possessed football, and I can't imagine any team wanting to walk into a Superdome filled with emotion this season. I've seen a couple of pundits picking the Saints outright here, but I don't know if I can go that far. But I don't think there's a person outside of the greater Philadelphia metropolitan area who's not rooting for a great, great game here (present company excluded). I think we get one here. Philly has a little letdown off a big emotional win against Dallas, and runs into a confident New Orleans squad. I'm thinking the Eagles win, but it's tight. Philly 28 - N'awlins 27.
Sea at StL +3
Boy Genius: I'm actually looking forward to the other marquee matchup in the NFC this week, which has got to be the most under-the-radar big game so far this season.
Boy Genius: Is Seattle capable of getting back to the big dance? Is St. Louis for real? No and yes. The Rams aren't just going to cover... they're going to win. Seattle's going to be geared up for this one, coming off that Bears embarrassment, but St. Louis is better than they've been the last couple of years - and they've played the Hawks tight year in and out. Bulger is efficient, Steven Jackson is leading the league in rushing, and Leonard Little will get keyed up and notch three sacks tomorrow. St. Louis all the way, winning this one 27-19.
Boy Genius: Oh, and the line is Seattle giving three as a road favorite. Whaddaya think?
CJ: It is an interesting line. Six of the 13 games feature home dogs this week, and two of those home dogs are 4-1 (Saints and Rams). Seattle is not as good a team as they were last year. That much is clear. I suppose it could be losing Hutchinson, I don't know. I do know that Shaun Alexander is out again and that's bad news for the Seahawks. Steven Jackson is healthy, and the dome isn't an easy place to play. I agree, Rams win outright 27-21.
Boy Genius: Whoo hoo! There's a dawg for you, now
go lay some money down at Bodog ignore this "spread" they keep talking about and root for your favorite teams, or just a gosh darn well-played game! Praise Jesus!
Ten at Was -10.5
CJ: Ha! That brings us to one of the least interesting games of the week. It's the last place Titans at the last place Redskins. The home team is giving 10.5 points. Can the Redskins really be favored by 10.5? Against anyone other than the Raiders. Last time I checked, the Titans actually put a scare in the Colts... and the Redskins aren't half the team the Colts are. I'm not ready to predict an upset (although the Titans have to win eventually), but the Skins won't cover, winning 17-13.
Boy Genius: Interesting? Yawn, booor-ring. Can we skip the aging and overrated Gibbsians versus the gawdawful shotgun attack of the Toothless Titans? No? Well, I'll make it quick then. I think Tennessee did the right things last week by sneaking Vince into the starting lineup as well as sticking with the shotgun. Indy wasn't prepared - but Washington will be. I smell a blowout here with a significant Vince regression paving the way. Skins 17 - Titans 6. Next.
KC at Pit -6.5
CJ: Next woudl be KC at Pittsburgh. Two teams moving in opposite directions.
Boy Genius: I'm really not sure what to make of this line. Hasn't Huard been playing efficient football? Can you say the same about Roethlisberger? LJ doesn't sit this week after nearly getting his head torn off by a Cardinals DB, but Pittsburgh guard Kendall Simmons leaves the icepack on five extra minutes and is scratched with frostbite? I'm sorry, motorcycle accident + appendix burst + icepack frostbite + Friday the 13th leads me to wonder.
Boy Genius: But the one thing I think about this game is that we're due for a "Dammit, we're the Champs" statement game from the Steelers, and I think that happens Sunday. Pittsburgh puts their foot down in a big way, 27-13.
CJ: Roethlisberger has zero TD's and 7 INT's this year. Hard to believe considering the two year run he's been on. Huard, on the other hand, has 5 TD's and zero INT's in his three starts so far. He's also completing nearly 20% more of his passes. I frankly won't trust picking the Steelers again until Roethlisberger proves he's ready to win, and 6.5 is definitely too many points. Chiefs win outright 24-13.
Mia at NYJ -2
Boy Genius: Wow, that's quite a limb there. I don't see KC having the stones to hang in a big game, but that's just me. Speaking of big games... Wait, how are the Jets favored against anyone but Tennessee, Oakland and maybe Detroit? I don't care if Miami is starting Joey (Fucking) Harrington, how do they give two to anyone?
CJ: Well, it probably has to do with the fact that they're playing a team that failed to get by the Texans. That says an awful lot about the Miami Dolphins. Culpepper was terrible, and Harrington isn't much better. That makes the talented Ronnie Brown a non-factor, and the Miami D can't win if it's on the field all day long. The Jets don't have much trouble here winning 20-3.
Boy Genius: To channel Joe Theismann, when you play a game in THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE, sometimes it comes down to NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE players who can make NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE plays. And the Dolphins have more players who are NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE PLAYERS. Jesus, these are the JETS we're talking about here. Can we keep our eyes on the ball? How in the hell are they giving points to the Dolphins, even at home? No. Freaking. Way. Dolphins win 20-17. I will not argue this.
SD at SF +9.5
CJ: Fine, I won't argue. I'm just content in knowing there's a lot of money to be won with the Jets now. How about San Diego at San Fran. Can we argue that?
Boy Genius: This line went from 7 to 9.5 this week, and I can't say that I blame bettors for jumping all over the Chargers on this one. Even though they're going on the road, they're well-equipped to neutralize Frank Gore and put the game in Alex Smith's hands. And we all know what that means, right? Should be a long day for Niners fans. I'm all about San Diego here, and feel good betting them at single digits on the line here. Chargers 31 - Niners 20.
CJ: Yeah, this should be one of the easy bets of the week. The opening line was a joke. If Alex Smith has to win the game, it'll get ugly real fast. The only weapon in the air anymore is Antonio Bryant, and he's one loose screw away from being a less-talented T.O. I love the Chargers here 31-14.
Boy Genius: Totally, they're going to harrass Smith into a couple picks, and I'd set the line of Niners overall versus only the scoring of the Charger D/Special Teams at Niners -7, so you know we're not looking at anything but a blowout here.
Oak at Den -14
Boy Genius: So here's a tidbit...
Boy Genius: I wasn't the first person to notice this, so I'm not trying to take credit for being clever, but how does a team averaging 12 points per game over their first four end up giving two touchdowns on the spread? Oh, when Oakland's involved, that's how. The one truth I have yet to see blow up in my face this season is that Oakland cannot cover any spread, no matter how unreasonable it sounds. Denver gets their offensive explosion this week, wins and covers - 15-0.
CJ: There's a good chance this week that more people watch women's bowling on ESPN 2 than watch Sunday Night Football, especially if the South American hottie wears something low cut. Is anyone really going to watch this game beginning to end? I refuse to pick the Raiders to beat a spread against anyone. It's just not going to happen. Denver 20-Oakland 3.
Chi at Ari +11
Boy Genius: There's a hot bowler? Really? So long as they don't call her "The Next Kournikova," I'll let it slide. So we're in agreement on Denver kicking the crap out of Oakland, how about Monday night's game to wrap it up?
CJ: When was the last time both Sunday night and Monday night football featured double-digit favorites? Not a good weekend for prime-time football. It's clear after 5 weeks that the Bears are THE GREATEST FOOTBALL TEAM OF ALL-TIME! I like where the Cardinals are going, and all, with the Leinart campaign, but the Bears defense will feast on the kid. Bears keep rolling 27-7.
Boy Genius: Boy, this game probably looked a lot better in network meetings in August than it does now, eh? If you had told me then that the Bears would give the Cards 11 in Tempe eight weeks ago, I'd have called you nuts. But now you've got Grossman on fire, an all-world D, and Matt Leinart. Shake well before opening, lather, rinse, repeat. I can't see the Cards keeping Alex Brown and Tommie Harris out of the backfield, I can't see Edge going for more than 50 yards on the ground, and I can't see Arizona hanging 17 points. Chicago moves another step towards immortality, 31-10.
Lock of the Week
Boy Genius: So who's your LOCK OF THE WEEK?
CJ: There's plenty to choose from this week, but I gotta look west and pick the San Diego Chargers to cover 9.5 in San Francisco.
Boy Genius: I'll look West, but climbing them Rockies gets a bettor tired. I'll settle with Denver over Oakland by 14, and keep riding the anti-Raider train until they prove me wrong.
CJ: Can't go wrong there! Of course, with us picking, you can go very wrong. I'd advise our millions of readers to find the games we picked the same, and bet against them.
Boy Genius: Absolutely... as always, fade me immediately.
Boy Genius: Oh, and good luck.
We'r'e back for NFL Week 5, and the third week of picks for Boy Genius and I. Last week, BG finished 4-10 and I did only slightly better at 6-8. It was ugly. For the year, BG is 13-17 and I'm 16-14. Not exactly gonna get rich betting with those records!
Undaunted, we go once more into the breech! There are some big games on the schedule and we are confident this week will be better. (It almost has to be, right? If it's not, I'm going to let Swirl pick for me next week).
Anyway, here they are:More in this Poker Blog! -->
Boy Genius: Good morning CJ. You know, I had a rough week last week and I'd like to open up with an apology and a disclaimer. The apology? To anyone who followed my picks, as I may have hit three for fourteen last week. The disclaimer? I always always advise fading me on sports bets.
CJ: We're all allowed a mulligan. And you're right, you warned them. Not that I was much better.
Buf at Chi -9.5
Boy Genius: We're going to set it right this week though, and we'll open up with one of the biggest spreads of the week - the invincible Bears against the Losman-led Buffalo Bills - Bears at home giving ten. What's your thoughts?
CJ: This is an easy one, right? The Bears are the best team in the NFC with the best defense, perhaps, in all of football. Grossman is playing like an MVP and the Bears' running game hasn't even gotten rolling. The Bills? J.P. Losman-led. I'll take Chicago 24-9.
Boy Genius: Big day for Rian Lindell (or whoever's kicking for the Bills then)? I'm with you. The Bears can shut down McGahee, and if the Bills can't set up the pass with the run, the Bears will be able to tee off on Losman all day. I think the Bears win and cover, but Grossman comes back to earth a bit. 21-10 Bears, with the Bears D getting one score.
Cle at Car -7.5
CJ: Big lines seem to be all over the place today, with the Cleveland Browns getting 7.5 in Carolina. Are the Panthers back?
Boy Genius: I couldn't possibly tell you. I can figure that with a banged up Cleveland secondary that Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson are poised for big games, but the Panthers D has been under-performing their pedigree all season so far. I hope they shake the cobwebs out, and I think they can give the Browns more trouble than the Raiders did last week. Carolina covers, 31-20.
CJ: Michael Irvin, who's a world-reknowned idiot, suggested Steve Smith is the league MVP because the Panthers are 0-2 without him and 2-0 with him. Of course, the world isn't as simple as it is in Irvin's head, but he's got a bit of a point. Carolina is a different team with Smith in there and better on both sides of the ball than the Browns. I'm not worried about the fact the line moved from -9 to -7.5, that just means it's easier to cover, Carolina 27-13.
Det at Min -6.5
Boy Genius: Irvin is a retard, but at least you're still in my good graces by agreeing with me yet again. Now, I'm sorry to have to bring the conversation to a screeching halt, but it's time to talk about the Lions. This is the time of year that Lions fans either have to start calling for the coach's head or praying openly for the first pick in the draft. We always have problems in the Metrodome and the Vikes are giving us 6.5. Do we have a shot at #1 overall? Can we run the table? Do we keep it going here?
CJ: Wow, that's a tall order. If you think the Lions have a shot at being as bad as the Raiders or Titans, you're sorely mistaken. I'm torn on this game. The Vikings started out great, but have come up short the last two weeks. In fact, they've been outscored this year overall. The Vikings do enough, but they fail to cover 24-20.
Boy Genius: I think the Lions have found their offense, and they'll find that maddening pattern of win some / lose some that has kept them picking outside the top five more often than they've deserved in recent times. I'm going Lions outright today, 31-28.
Mia at NE -10
Boy Genius: But you want to hear something funnier? I just picked up Joey Harrington in my fantasy league. He's STARTING for the Dolphins against the Pats. The line's NE -10 in Foxboro, isn't Harrington good for -16.5 at least?
Boy Genius: I can't imagine this game falling right for the Dolphins. Take it from a guy who watched Harrington's every snap for five years (or four, felt like longer). New England 27 - Miami 10.
CJ: This might be early favorite for pick of the week. The Patriots ripped up a hell of a Bengals team last weeek. They'll do the same and worse to the Dolphins, 30-7.
Stl at GB +3
CJ: It looks like the NFL was nice enough to match up the two teams our favorite teams played last week.
Boy Genius: Green Bay looked pretty bad in their loss, St. Louis barely held off a charging Lions team. Pack and Rams appear to be moving in opposite directions and Green Bay's getting three at Lambeau. What about Packer Pride?
CJ: I wonder how much Packer's fans care right now. This season is all about Favre's swan song. There's no way in hell he comes back next year. The fans actually seem willing to accept a season of lowered expectations, and the Rams will oblige. St. Louis 23-Green Bay 17.
Boy Genius: Nothing like a home dog to try and make some cash. I'm totally onboard with the Brett Favre fall from grace theory, but even an old magician still knows a few tricks. He's got enough talent to keep them in the game, and you know he doesn't want to look bad in front of his home crowd. Is it enough for a Packer win? Well, no. But could they get themselves in a shootout just like the Lions did? Absolutely. I kinda like the over (46.5) here, but can't see the Pack covering. STL 34 - GB 27.
TB at NO -6.5
CJ: The Saints came back down to earth a bit last week, but can you blame them? Who really could have been up for a game following that Monday Night game in the Superdome. And, really, it's not like the Panthers blew them out. Now the JV Bucs come to town.
Boy Genius: In a million years could you have predicted this line three weeks ago? New Orleans giving a touchdown to the Bucs? Even in the Superdome? Maybe this kid Gradkowski's got something to do with that, maybe Caddy Williams' back spasms are worse than we thought, maybe the Saints really are on a roll here. But I'm floored by this line. Have to take it with a grain of salt, and I'm thinking Gruden knows what he's doing with QBs. Play not to lose. Saints get the win, will have a hard time covering. NO 27 - TB 24.
CJ: It's about time we disagreed. Maybe you have to be down here to feel the spirit. Whatever it is, the Saints have it this year. They've outscored their opponents by 29 points in 4 games, an average of about a TD. The average goes up against a really bad Tampa Bay team. Saints win and cover, 30-10.
Ten at Ind -18
Boy Genius: Wow, an offensive explosion in the Bayou... I'll be impressed. Moving on, how bad are the Titans? Start two of the Vince Young era, and every gambler on the planet seems to think he's a three-score dog. Indy's at home and giving 18 points to Tennessee, and somehow I see this line and think it's pretty fair. Do you think Vince might actually thrive if they put him in a shootout?
CJ: Good question, I'm just not sure a game in the Dome is a good spot for him. Remember, the Colts are notorious for pumping in artificial sound and Vince had enough trouble without having a hearing problem. I think the line seems fair, just not sure I want to bet it. I could easily see it being Colts 41-Titans 17, but what if the Colts don't get that last TD? If you're betting it, take Indy.
Boy Genius: I'm thinking 17 points is the number here. The Titans will put a couple touchdowns up, but they won't keep Manning out of the endzone. Addai will get a ton of clock-chomping carries in the second half, and this will be a nip and tuck battle to see if there's a cover as the game winds down. Indy gets the win 34-17.
CJ: We're on the same page there, and if you're betting it, keep an eye out for Indy giving 17, the line is on the move.
Was at NYG -5.5
CJ: Now to the BIG, BIG, BIG NFC East matchup! The Skins at the Giants! [/sarcasm]
Boy Genius: This Giants/Skins line confuses me. Giants are giving 5.5 as a home favorite to the Skins, and while I think they'll get the win, this is the type of confounding line that would have me walking right by to find some easier money. Call this my DARTBOARD PLAY OF THE DAY, take the Giants and the points as they come out with a win 24-18.
CJ: I'm confused by this game all the way around. The Skins aren't nearly as good as they looked last week against the Jags, and the Giants are team turmoil, getting their bye week after a brutal loss to Seattle. None of that helps me make this pick. Something tellsme we've got a road dog that's going to pull out a win. Skins 20-Giants 17.
KC at Ari +3.5
Boy Genius: Very interesting... I hate these could-go-either-way NFC East slugfests. Let's go on to something easier. KC heads to Arizona, and is actually a road favorite giving 3.5 to the Cards. Kansas City comes off a huge shutout of an upstart Niners team that did nothing right last week, and Arizona continues to wallow in mediocrity. Huard! Leinart! It's the NFL on CBS! Christ almighty, I feel sorry for anyone in the hinterlands who has to watch this tripe on TV, but I think this is a very bettable game. Leinart couldn't ask for a softer spot (um, maybe Oakland) to make his first start, as KC's D isn't all that tough. What say you?
CJ: As Lee Corso would say... not so fast my friend! KC has the third ranked defense in all of football! Is this really a good spot? The good news is that Leinart doesn't have to play at Arrowhead. Now THAT would be a tall orrder. Either way, 3.5 isn't going to be enough. Huard won't put up 40+ again, but it won't be close, KC 33-Arizona 16.
Boy Genius: I totally agree. There's no way Leinart notches a win here, and I think even asking for a cover might be out of his reach. KC won't have to come after him, they'll get two picks and a fumble recovery out of base defensive sets. I wouldn't want to see Kurt Warner's smug I-Told-You-So face after this one. KC will win big, 27-10.
NYJ at Jax -6.5
CJ: Jacksonville is looking for a bounce back game after their disappointing play against Washington. Do they get it at home against the Jets?
Boy Genius: Jets and Jags, not exactly the glamorous national TV matchup CBS hoped for this week (we're actually getting Buffalo/Chicago here). I think the Jets are worse than they look, and the Jags a hell of a lot better than their 2-2 record indicates. Pennington faces a real pass rush today and there's no way he stays clean today. Jax will pick a couple of his wobblers, Mo-Jo-Dru lights 'em up in spot duty, and the Jags D brutalizes the Jets all day. Jags giving 6.5 at home, and they'll cover that easily. Jags 27 - Jets 13.
CJ: I always worry about any prediction that involves the Jags covering easily. They're a team that always seems to be one 4th quarter play from winning or losing. If this were in New York, I might suggest the Jets could win outright. All that said, I do think we'll have a cover here. Jax 20-Jets 13.
Oak at SF -3.5
Boy Genius: Speaking of glamorous national TV matchups, Oakland heads across the bay to San Francisco. This should be fun, kinda like watching someone slowly drown in quicksand. Is that giant sucking sound I hear coming from the West Coast? Can the home Niners cover the three they're giving Oakland as easily as I think they can?
CJ: Tell me there's a West Coast MLB playoff game today! California should really have something else to think about. On days like this, they should schedule a USC game on Sunday. But back to the game. 3.5 points!?!?!? Haven't we established that the Raiders must get at least a TD from every team in football? Niners cover 24-10.
Boy Genius: I wouldn't take Oakland as a one TD favorite against Ohio State. That's a push. This here's my LOCK OF THE DAY, and I'll stand by picking against Oakland until Andrew Walter magically turns into Kenny Stabler. Niners win 17-10. I'll let you set the stage for your boys, have at it.
Dal at Phi -1.5
CJ: Well, if you haven't heard, there's a game in Philly this week. I'm not sure it's been mentioned on any of them sports shows this week. Dallas comes to town, and, apparently, there's some subplot involving a wide receiver? Care to fill me in?
Boy Genius: Supposedly there's some author of children's books who's about to be pelted by 9 volt batteries.
CJ: The line is just 1.5. That suggests that if the game were played somewhere else, the Cowboys would be favored instead. I can't be trusted to be impartial on this game, but the Eagles will be the better team on the field today. It won't be a blowout, but Philly will be in control. Your final: Philly 24-Dallas 20.
Boy Genius: Hmm... So many other lines to play on this one, why do we care about point spreads and over/unders? What's the line on the league-mandated network delay on the profanity dump button? Over/under on the number of prescription pill bottles (filled with batteries, naturally) that land within three feet of TO on the sideline? I love the pick 'em nature of this one, and every fiber of my being says to pick the Eagles to cover. Naturally, I'm going with the Cowboys then. I'll take Dallas to win outright 24-20, with TO actually landing one of those TDs and breaking into tears in the post-game press conference.
CJ: The subplots should be fun, never underestimate the wit and ferocity of an Eagles crowd.
Pit at SD -3
CJ: There's a pretty good game on Sunday night, too, Pittsburgh getting 3 in San Diego.
Boy Genius: This one has a lot of potential to be the best game on today's card. Gotta like the matchups here. Roethlisberger vs. Rivers, Merriman vs. Polamalu, Gates vs. Miller. I'll be watching. Am I on the right track to think this line is wrong?
CJ: Are you suggesting the Steelers should be favored on the road? Or that the Chargers aren't giving enough?
Boy Genius: Chargers aren't giving enough. This is probably the best team in the league, the Steelers are riding on reputation, and I smell a statement game brewing. Rivers has a monster game and San Diego wins 27-13.
CJ: Good, I was worried you were completely off this game. The Steelers reputation has affected every line this year. San Diego is the superior team and LT, as usual, will be the best player on the field. Rotheliesberger hasn't been the same since his wreck, and he doesn't get healthy this week. San Diego 30-10.
Bal at Den -4
Boy Genius: Last one is the Monday night tilt with Baltimore heading in to Denver. Overrated versus Underrated. Denver's a four point favorite, which sounds like a fair price to me. Do you think Plummer puts the Denver offense back on the rails?
CJ: Against Ray Lewis and company? Not a chance. The ESPN crew shatters the O/U on number of shots of Jay Cutler standing on the sidelines after Plummer mistakes. Baltimore is my second road dog pick of the week, winning 20-9.
Boy Genius: Hmm... Yeah, we're going opposite directions on this one too. I think Baltimore's got a lot of momentum, but Denver's got something to prove. Denver always plays well in the spotlight, and I think Denver gets the win, if not the cover, in an awfully close game - 24-23 Broncos.
Locks of the week
Boy Genius: So who's your lock of the week?
CJ: There are a couple of choices out there. I'm going to stick with my gut reaction to the schedule and say New England giving 10 to the Joey Harrington-led Dolphins.
Boy Genius: You're way off. It's Oakland only getting 3.5 from San Fran. They'd need two TDs for me to feel comfortable giving them a chance to cover. Niners Niners Niners.
CJ: Can't argue with that.
Boy Genius: By the way? I couldn't do worse than I did last week, so I'm figuring on at least .500 on my picks this week.
Boy Genius: It's just up to you to figure out where I'm wrong, and good luck with that.
CJ: I'll refrain from actually betting our picks this week to give us a better chance of winning. Good luck at the windows!
Boy Genius: Fade me immediately, and good luck!
It's Week 4 in the NFL, and Boy Genius and I are back with the picks to make you money. In Week 2, I went 10-6 and BG went 9-7. However, our three picks of the week would have made a profitable parlay. We've got another great three team parlay for you this week as well.
Without further ado, the picks:More in this Poker Blog! -->
Ari at Atl -7
CJ: Okay, it's week four. We should have a good idea of how good these teams really are. Let's start with Arizona at Atlanta, and the Falcons are giving 7.
Boy Genius: I'm not sure if seven seems like a lot or a little given how pissed off the Falcons have to be coming out flat last Monday.
CJ: I wonder what team wouldn't have looked flat in that atmosphere.
Boy Genius: I'm thinking a lot. They're still without John Abraham causing havoc for Kurt Warner, and while I don't think the Cards will win, I'm all about the cover here. The Falcons aren't that good and Arizona's not that bad.
Boy Genius: Mediocre versus just a notch above.
CJ: Here's the big problem for the Cardinals. Kurt Warner can't help but be looking over his shoulder wondering if the next mistake will be the last he'll make as a starter. Atlanta is still a team that rushed for more yards in two weeks than anyone else did in three. However, I'm with you. Seven points is too much
CJ: Atlanta 23, Arizona 17.
Boy Genius: I'll back you on that, Atlanta 21, Arizona 17 was my pick, but we're just splitting hairs.
Dal at Ten +10
Boy Genius: Next up is Dallas rolling into Tennessee with the hugest story of the week in tow: Vince Young starts for Kerry Collins.
Boy Genius: Oh wait, not the biggest storyline here, but TO starts and looks like the Titans are giving ten. What's up with that?
CJ: Strange. Has there ever been a more disruptive force since Barrett Robbins disappeared on Super Bowl weekend?
Boy Genius: Tom Jackson on ESPN just said, "I'm not a Cowboy, and I was distracted." I think TO thrives on this stuff and has a monster day - over eight catches and at least two TDs.
Boy Genius: And if you think they won't try and get after Vinny Heisman, you're nuts. Ten seems like the right number, but I got Dallas covering here.
CJ: Yeah, this is just the kind of game that T.O. busts out a big one. The Cowboys are lucky they get to play the Titans, one of the worst three teams in football. Their defense is terrible, and the fast Cowboys D gets to feast on a rookie starting his first game
CJ: Dallas 27, Tennessee 13
Boy Genius: That's what I was going to say. By the way, I know Young didn't win the Heisman, but Reggie Bush took money in college, so I'm giving it to him post-mortem here.
CJ: Ah, skipped right over the Heisman reference... nice!
Ind at NYJ +8
Boy Genius: Anyway, the gods of arcane football rules are smiling on me with the Indy / New York Jets matchup. Indy's giving 8.5, and due to league rules the game must run unopposed in NYC markets - meaning I get Rams/Lions at 4PM.
CJ: Good for you... bad for the other 5 million people in the greater New York area.
Boy Genius: Hey now...
Boy Genius: I'm torn on this Indy/Jets matchup
Boy Genius: On one hand, Indy is 7-1-1 as a road favorite over the last couple of years...
Boy Genius: ...on the other hand, Hammerin' Hank gave me that stat and picked the Colts. Does that mean I'm supposed to fade him?
CJ: Ha! I wonder how Hank's doing this year. I don't think I ever saw him pick the right horse in a race. Then again... after yesterday, I shouldn't criticize anyone's horse picks.
Boy Genius: Yeah, let's not talk about that travesty. Can Pennington keep the Jets close? I don't think they have a running game, but neither do the Colts. Is this a recipe for a high scoring game?
CJ: It is, the over is a safe bet, as it usually is when the Colts are playing anyone other than Jacksonville, New England and Baltimore. The Jets are better than people thought they'd be, but that just means they'll keep it close in the first half.
Boy Genius: I like the over (47) too, and I actually like the Jets to cover - Indy 31 - NYJ 24.
CJ: We're on the same page today. I've actually bet this game and I have Indy 37, Jets 20.
Mia at Hou +3.5
CJ: Next up, GAME OF THE WEEK! Why this isn't a mandatory national game, I'll never know. It's Miami at Houston and the Texans are getting 3.5.
CJ: Here's my problem picking this game... don't the Texans have to win a game eventually?
Boy Genius: Like there's some unwritten rule in the NFL rulebook that mandates this? Hell's no. But they will win a game at some point... just not today. Miami needs a big game, I think they take the reins off Culpepper and he throws for yards by the bucket.
CJ: Did you draft Culpepper in any fantasy leagues?
Boy Genius: Sigh... yes.
CJ: Yeah, me too.
Boy Genius: And he's starting today for me, so I'm clearly just projecting.
CJ: Yeah, me too.
Boy Genius: But Miami comes alive today. The Texans are the tonic for what ails you. Miami 29 Houston 17. Easy cover.
Boy Genius: I'd play this one all day long for Miami.
CJ: Well, it's about time we disagree. The Dolphins aren't nearly as good as people hoped. The Texans are at home and I think their running game is a little better this week now that Samkon Gado has a few weeks under his belt.
CJ: I'm picking Houston 24, Miami 21.
Boy Genius: Well, you can't always be correct. Save your money for a sure thing.
Min at Buf -1
Boy Genius: Maybe that's Minnesota versus Buffalo? Minny gets in to Buffalo in a near pick'em situation with the Bills actually favored by a point. Am I seeing this right? Is there actually a belief that JP Losman can will his team to victory?
CJ: I was more shocked by this line than any other this week. Is this a statement on Minnesota's ability to play outside a dome?
Boy Genius: It's OCTOBER. This isn't frozen tundra weather. This is purely a statement that the Bills' defense is playoff caliber, which I believe. I think Minnesota's vulnerable here, but vulnerable to a loss?
Boy Genius: Okay, I'm onboard. Buffalo 17 - Minnesota 13.
Boy Genius: It's not an upset if the line's pointing you that way.
CJ: Losman excels at quarterback. Well... excels at losing close games. Not exactly a skill you want. Minnesota 19, Buffalo 13.
NOS at Car -7
CJ: Okay, now a game that features an undefeated team and a team in need of win, only it's the introduction to the opposite sketches. Saints are 3-0 and the Panters are 1-2. Here, the 3-0 road team is getting 7 points.
Boy Genius: This is an absolutely astonishing line. Are we supposed to believe preseason projections on Carolina or recent past performance? And re-read that same sentence in regards to New Orleans and you can tell I've got more questions than answers.
CJ: Right... how long will wildly inaccurate preseason predictions afftect actual betting patterns? This has to be a sucker line. Except for one thing. Why can't the Panthers win by a touchdown? Great defense. Solid running game. Good QB. And Steve Smith should be healthier.
Boy Genius: Plus, don't underestimate the emotional letdown angle. Saints won big last week, and have a short week to prepare for a tougher game on the road. I see them coming out flat. Panthers 31 Saints 10. Huge statement win for Carolina.
CJ: Carolina 23, Saints 14. But the bettors will be sweating the final drive of this game.
SDG at Bal +1
Boy Genius: That brings us to today's marquee game - a matchup of undefeateds. San Diego goes to Baltimore, with the hometown Ravens getting a full point on the Chargers. #1 vs #2 defenses. So why don't I see this one being close?
CJ: Ah... you're leaving me to decide which side gets the blowout. IF it's a blowout... and I say IF... the blowout would go the Chargers way.
Boy Genius: Ding ding ding... Philip Rivers is the real deal and we'll see that today. I love the Chargers in this spot and think they win by two scores - 20-10.
CJ: IF it was going to be a blowout, I'd be on your side. It won't. Philip Rivers may be the real deal, but he's never seen anything like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. The Ravens defense over the past decade has been as good as any in history.
CJ: Ravens 17, Chargers 16.
SFO at KCC -7
CJ: San Francisco is at Kansas City and the Chiefs are giving 7 points. Who is QBing for the Chiefs these days that they can give anyone 7 points?
Boy Genius: Well, who's going to be toting the rock for the Niners? Does this have any ability to be anything other than a slugfest? The seven points baffles me too, I can't see the Niners doing anything but keeping this close and both teams will keep the clock alive all game. I'm going full dog upset here - SF 17 KC 13
CJ: I'm also picking the dog outright, although I'm likely underestimating how much losing Vernon Davis will hurt the Niners offense. He was a great outlet for Alex Smith. Former Penn State QB Michael Robinson will make plays, though. San Fran 27, Kansas City 17.
Det at StL -5.5
Boy Genius: Can we talk about my Lions now? We get to save your Eagles for last, right?
CJ: Sure, go ahead...
Boy Genius: I'm going to ignore the "triumphant return of Mike Martz" angle and focus on who really matters here...
Boy Genius: Mike Freaking Furrey.
CJ: Well, um... that's bold.
Boy Genius: The Lions leading receiver comes back after two years in the St. Louis DEFENSIVE backfield with something to prove. If you think the little white guy ain't carrying a grudge, you're way off. Lions on the road are getting 5.5.
CJ: I tried to find ways to pick the Lions here. I actually like Jon Kitna, but the offense hasn't seemed to take to Martz system... yet. Will this be the week?
Boy Genius: The offense has actually taken well to the system - they just keep putting themselves into 3rd and 31 situations with dumbass penalties.
Boy Genius: At some point they're going to hang 40 points. The Rams defense will make sure it's not this week, but I like the Lions to at least cover - Rams 30 Lions 27.
CJ: This is another game I have coming down to who gets the ball last. If it's the Lions, they very well may beat the spread. However, I'm going with the home favorite to cover, Rams 21, Lions 10.
Boy Genius: We'll do better than 10 points.
CJ: And that's why I'm not putting my OWN money on that game!
Cle at Oak +1
CJ: Let's try Cleveland at Oakland and marvel over the fact the Raiders are getting just 1 point now.
Boy Genius: This line is stupid. The Raiders should be giving at least a TD to any team in the league. Hell, I'd only install them at -10 against Ohio State for chrissakes. They're bad. Real bad.
CJ: What the linesmakers are saying is that there's about a 50% chance that the Raiders beat the Browns. Has their been any indication that that's possible? Do they not understand that the only reason the Raiders didn't lose last week is because they were off?
Boy Genius: Browns 17 Raiders 10. There's no reason to believe otherwise. I'll even give you an over/under line of 1.5 for total Oakland victories by season's end. They are a bad team for the ages.
CJ: Browns 17, Raiders 13... Janikowski hits that other field goal. And I'm trying to figure out which game they win this year. It'd have to be a Lamont Jordan romp.
Jax at Was +3
Boy Genius: Totally. Can we move on to Jax/Washington now? Another home dog, which seems to be a trend this week, with the Skins giving 3 to the Jags. Are the bettors reading too much into the supposed resurgence of Mark Brunell last week? What happens when he runs into an NFL defense this week?
CJ: Exactly. Every QB with the Texans on their schedule will ssee a "resurgence." That's why Culpepper owners are happy this week. The Jags have a top 3 D in the league. The Redskins looked terrible the first two weeks. Another stupid line, in my opinion.
Boy Genius: Incredibly stupid. Epically stupid. My lock of the week actually, with Jacksonville absolutely obliterating this line. Jags 31 Skins 6.
CJ: It's not quite as bad for me, although we both agree the Skins don't get into the end zone. Jax 21, Was 9. Easy game to bet.
NEP at Cin -5.5
CJ: Which brings us to a tough one to bet... maybe. Patriots at the Bengals and the Bengals are giving 5.5 points.
Boy Genius: And the Pats are missing two starters in their secondary. That shouldn't matter, the Bengals don't throw much, do they?
CJ: Oh... every now and then.
Boy Genius: Hmm... in that case, gimme the stripes and a "who dey?" from the peanut gallery. And let the "what's wrong with Tom Brady" articles keep coming. You take the guy's best receiver and ship him away, replace him with Reche freaking Caldwell, and you tell me what he's supposed to think. Bengals 28 - Pats 21.
CJ: In my mind, the Bengals are the West Wing with Aaron Sorkin and the Patriots are the West Wing after Aaron Sorkin. You want to like it, it still seems good. But deep down you know it's just a shell of its former self and you're dying for Sorkin to come back to TV. (Speaking of which, if you're not watching Studio 60, you should be.) The Bengals cover, Cincy 30, New England 20.
Boy Genius: But the real line to be playing... which Bengal goes to jail this week?
CJ: Or over under on the season... 7?
Boy Genius: Over - rumor has it Frostee Rucker's got some problems rolling down the pike.
Sea at Chi -3.5
Boy Genius: Anyway, I don't know what to make of the line on Seattle at Chicago. Seahawks were giving one, now they're getting 3.5. Isn't Mo Morris at least serviceable?
CJ: Yeah, if anything, I expected this line to move the other way. First, it's not like Alexander was tearing it up this year anyway. Second, it's not like anyone runs real well on the Bears.
CJ: Bottom line, the Seahawks are a better team.
Boy Genius: I totally agree. I can't see the Seahawks blowing this one, even on the road. Seahawks 17 Bears 14.
CJ: Yet another road dog winning outright. Seattle 20, Chicago 17.
GBP at Phi -11.5
CJ: Which brings us to Monday Night and a game in which the worst QB on the field will get entirely too much hype. Green Bay at Philly, Philly giving a whopping 11.5 points.
Boy Genius: With their entire secondary banged up?
CJ: Yeah, Sheppard, Hood, Dawkins, Lewis, Consindine... all on the injured list.
Boy Genius: But the ever-mercurial Brett Favre in his national TV swan song... Does he rip your boys up?
CJ: Doesn't happen. Favre has been terrible the last three times they've played the Eagles. It hasn't even been close. And the Eagles boast one of the top 3 offenses in all of football. McNabb has never been better.
Boy Genius: I'm with you - Eagles 31 Pack 17.
CJ: You won't help them win the over... but I will. Eagles 38, Packers 17.
LOCK OF THE WEEK
CJ: Now, what everyone's been waiting for. The lock of the week!
Boy Genius: Who's your lock of the week?
CJ: The Jets aren't that good. The Colts are. I love the Colts giving 8 points.
Boy Genius: And I said earlier the Jags/Skins line was stupid, but I could say the same thing about the Browns covering Oakland just as easily. I'll lock 'em both up. Jags and Browns.
CJ: Well, last time we picked we gave everyone three games to bet and they would have made some money. I think this week is the same story. Lock up these three teams in a parlay, and count your money.
Boy Genius: Good luck, and fade me immediately.
CJ: But of course, good luck at the virtual windows!
I'm not sure I'll ever watch the NFL again. You think losing to a two-outer on the river hurts? Try blowing a 17-point fourth quarter lead to your division rival. Now THAT's a bad beat. I've never felt as bad after a poker beat as I felt yesterday evening.
I hate football. Thank goodness it's still baseball season so I have something to focus on this week (Go Phils!).
But I digress... here come the results. I finished a strong 10-6 with BG close behind at 9-7. We also nailed our Locks of the Week and suggested a three-team parlay that would have made you money.
Just some notes: Only 5 dogs beat the spread this week and four of them won outright (favored Denver won but did not cover). Only 5 road teams were winning bets this week (all winning outright except, once again, Kansas City).
Next week, you may not get any picks from us since we'll be otherwise occupied (The Bash!!!), but you never know. If you want a recap of last week's picks, they're listed below.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Buf vs. Mia -6
CJ: Mia (0-1)
BG: Mia (0-1)
Car vs. Min -1.5
CJ: Min (1-1)
BG: Car (0-2)
Cle vs. Cin -10
CJ: Cin (2-1)
BG: Cin (1-2)
Det vs. Chi -9.5
CJ: Det (2-2)
BG: Det (1-3)
Hou vs. Ind -13.5
CJ: Ind (3-2)
BG: Ind (2-3)
NO vs. GB +2
CJ: NO (4-2)
BG: GB (2-4)
NYG vs. Phi -3
CJ: Phi (4-3)
BG: NYG (3-4)
Oak vs. Bal -13
CJ: Bal (5-3)
BG: Oak (3-5)
TB vs. Atl -5.5
CJ: TB (5-4)
BG: Atl (4-5)
Ari vs. Sea -7
CJ: Sea (6-4)
BG: Sea (5-5)
StL vs. SF +3
CJ: StL (6-5)
BG: StL (5-6)
KC vs. Den -10.5
CJ: KC (7-5)
BG: KC (6-6)
NE vs. NYJ +6
CJ: NYJ (7-6)
BG: NE (7-6)
Ten vs. SD -10.5
CJ: SD (8-6)
BG: SD (8-6)
Was vs. Dal -6.5
CJ: Dal (9-6)
BG: Was (8-7)
Pit vs. Jax +2
CJ: Jax (10-6)
BG: Jax (9-7)
LOCKS OF THE WEEK:
CJ: Cin (win)
BG: SD (win)
Each week we're able, BG and I will get on the girly chat thingy and show off our sports betting expertise. (Full disclosure: I'm a terrible sports betting.) In fact, we're so secure in our manhood, we'll repost the entire chat for your sports gambling enjoyment!More in this Poker Blog! -->
Buf vs. Mia
CJ: Two teams that had a chance to score a big win over superior opponents in week one, and two teams that had terrible finishes. I thought Culpepper would be better than he showed, but maybe he's still coming back from the knee surgery. I knew J.P. Losman would be that bad. Miami is at home and should cover the 6 points.
Boy Genius: I don't know about that... I'd like this line for Buffalo at about +8, but I think they can keep it closer if Lee Evans and McGahee have big games.
Boy Genius: I begrudgingly go with Miami -6, but I don't feel good about it.
CJ: I'm not betting it myself because I'm not sure I trust Miami yet.
Boy Genius: You know, Miami's starting Andre Goodman at corner until Travis Daniels gets healthy.
Boy Genius: The guy couldn't start for Detroit last year, why should I have confidence in their secondary?
CJ: That's a good point... hard to go from unable to make Detroit's lineup to starting quality anywhere!
Boy Genius: I'd like to see Losman taking a page from Trent Dilfer and doing enough not to lose. This isn't an untalented team.
Boy Genius: He needs to take advantage of McGahee and take a few shots with Evans. That should loosen things up for the Bills.
CJ: Agreed. We'll see if he has the talent to do so.
Car vs. Min
CJ: Let's move on to Carolina at Minnesota.
Boy Genius: I'm having a hard time stomaching Minnesota as a 1.5 point favorite, even at home.
Boy Genius: This isn't the same Carolina team from last year's playoffs, but it's also not the same team from last week's decimation at the hands of the Falcons.
Boy Genius: You tell me how Minnesota's offense puts up 22 points, because I think Carolina gets three TDs in the dome.
CJ: You have more faith in Carolina without Steve Smith than I do. Keyshawn Johnson is not a threat without someone on the other side of the field (i.e. Terry Glenn in Dallas).
Boy Genius: Aw, take the reins of Drew Carter Johnny Fox! Kid's got BIG PLAY written all over him!
CJ: Ha! I actually think this comes down to what the Minnesota offense can do. Remember, the Falcons rushed for 673 yards in week one against the "vaunted" Panthers defense.
CJ: If the Vikings commit to handing off 31 times again this week, they'll keep the pressure off Brad Johnson.
Boy Genius: Look up "serviceable" in Merriam-Webster and there's a picture of Chester Taylor. 3.6 yards per carry isn't going to get it done against this defense.
Boy Genius: Minnesota's linebacking corps is suspect, and I think Delhomme has got to love having Keyshawn in a game like this. He'll take a ton of underneath stuff at five or six yards a pop, and they'll move the ball.
Boy Genius: Brad Johnson's got no shot at pulling out a win here. Play the Carolina money line.
CJ: Brad Johnson is the right QB to take advantage of a defense that loves to take chances. Take Minnesota and give the points.
Cle vs. Cin
CJ: Time for Cleveland at Cincinnati. A game I think we'll agree on.
Boy Genius: That Charlie Frye's going to be on his back more than Jenna Jameson this week?
CJ: Who knew Charlie Frye was actually a starting QB?
CJ: Did four guys get hurt already in Cleveland?
Boy Genius: Take Cincy, feel good about ten points, and hope Chad Johnson's got something up his sleeve to circumvent league rules for a TD dance.
CJ: Not only that, but Rudi Johnson ran for three miles last year against Cleveland. This game will be a blowout from the flip of the coin.
Boy Genius: Agreed. Take Cincy and give the ten.
Det vs. Chi
Boy Genius: How about my boys in Detroit traveling to Chicago? Bears giving eight, and they blew them out at Soldier Field last year. Did last week change your mind on this one?
CJ: Detroit is not a playoff team this year. They will, however, win games they shouldn't and be good against the spread for the first half of the season, until they start getting more credit.
CJ: That front four effectively handled the Seahawks last week and could do the same this week.
Boy Genius: Plus, Roy Williams said the offense "left 40 points" on the field last week.
Boy Genius: I think the Martz offense gets on track sooner rather than later, and if you've got Roy Williams in fantasy, play him. He's fired up and guaranteed a win this week.
Boy Genius: I think they cover, and I think this is an atypical game for the black-and-blue - How about a 33-28 win for the Bears?
CJ: Wow, playing the over, too! Obviously, you can't take anything from the Bears game last week. They had a bye against Green Bay. This will be a better test. The guarantee actually worries me (Williams is no Chad Johnson), but I LOVE Detroit with the points, especially if you can get 9 or 9.5.
Boy Genius: Take the Lions, but don't break the bank. This game last year was a blowout.
Hou vs. Ind
Boy Genius: How are you feeling about Peyton Manning taking on the Texans? You saw Houston first hand last week, can they hang with the Colts?
CJ: Ha! Fantasy owners should start Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Bryan Fletcher, Aaron Moorehead, Brandon Stokely and John Standeford
Boy Genius: Isn't Stokely hurt? Guess it doesn't matter this week, eh?
CJ: I'd start Flipper Anderson, too. Didn't he finish up with Indy?
Boy Genius: Flipper? Come on now... that's probably going a bit too far. Let me go out on a limb with Houston. One of the following things will happen today:
Boy Genius: David Carr will go for 300 and three TDs,
Boy Genius: Mario Williams notches his first two sacks,
Boy Genius: Wali Lundy gets 120 combined yards and a score
Boy Genius: or Gary Kubiak enters Witness Protection by the time the final gun sounds.
Boy Genius: Yeah, Colts are going to cover, even at a gaudy 13 points.
CJ: Right... all you suggested may happen, and that still won't stop Indy from scoring 45. I like Indy giving the 13 and take the over.
NO vs. GB
Boy Genius: Now, you have to watch the Green Bay - New Orleans game on local TV this week, right?
CJ: Game of the Week!
Boy Genius: Are you pumped?
CJ: They'll be sending everyone's jerseys to the Hall of Fame. This game is THAT BIG!
CJ: Now the pick...
CJ: Green Bay is TERRIBLE! Wow, I didn't think a Favre-lead team could ever be that bad. That said, the Saints aren't exactly world beaters. In fact, when was the last time the Saints were favored on the road?
Boy Genius: I think we'd be talking St. Peter and the apostles in that case.
CJ: The pick? It's tough... I'm taking the Saints
Boy Genius: I don't know how to gauge the Saints. Cleveland's not terrible, I suppose, but even with Brees pulling the trigger I'm unsure about their passing game.
Boy Genius: Plus, I think there are four games this year where Brett Favre hangs 300 and three. This is one of them. I like Green Bay outright in this spot. Home opener, Favre isn't going to want to look bad two weeks running.
CJ: It's gonna be about Reggie Bush. When he steps on the field, defenses get kooky. If he gets 15-20 touches, the Saints win.
Boy Genius: I like what they're doing with the kid, but Favre can put the Pack on his back and get the win. Better enjoy it Cheeseheads, may not be two or three more of these all year.
CJ: It could happen, I'm lukewarm here.
NYG vs. Phi
CJ: How about NY at Philly?
Boy Genius: Here's the one under-examined factor at play in this game - Philly's D-Line.
Boy Genius: In last year's playoffs, the Giants got beat when Carolina (or was it Seattle?) challenged Eli to beat them in the air by stuffing Tiki at every turn. That's your template. Eli's going to have to light it up, and Philly can play the pass too.
CJ: It's deep... 10-deep. They rotate 4-man lines every series, at least that was the play against Houston. Tiki historically roughs up the Eagles. This D is probably better prepared for Tiki than they've ever been.
Boy Genius: Agreed, but what about Westbrook? Is he going to play? How bad does this hurt Philly?
CJ: Andy Reid announced 10 minutes ago that Westbrook will start. He's the key. The Eagles are 7-0 against New York when McNabb starts, but one of those wins was a miraculous Westbrook punt return with under 3 minutes in the 4th.
Boy Genius: That news gives me hope for the Eagles. If I were Coughlin, I would have been praying to the god of knee injuries hoping to keep him out this week. With Westbrook on the field, this offense is multi-dimensional.
Boy Genius: So who's your pick? Philly's giving three...
CJ: I have to... my heart won't let me pick otherwise. Philly wins by a TD. Watch this game for one thing: field position. The team that has the shorter field will win this game.
Boy Genius: I like the Giants to cover, but I still think Philly wins 24-23.
Oak vs. Bal
CJ: Back to one of the week's ugliest games... Oakland at Baltimore.
CJ: Will Baltimore score back-to-back shut outs?
Boy Genius: Ugh. Who cares? Next.
Boy Genius: Just kidding.
Boy Genius: Oakland will get on the board if they have to throw nineteen straight deep balls hoping to connect on one. Randy Moss gets on the board, Brooks throws two picks and fumbles once, and Baltimore's swagger carries to week three. But did you really think BALTIMORE would be a two score favorite over anyone this year?
CJ: Before the season? Probably not. Now? I think they may be double-digit favorites 4 times this year. It's a perfect marriage of QB and coach. Steve McNair is perfect for this team. He will not put this spectacular defense in a hole. Baltimore covers easily.
CJ: And I like the under!
Boy Genius: No way. Oakland covers in a 17-10 Baltimore win. I wouldn't have Baltimore giving thirteen to LSU, let alone Oakland. Take the Raiders. They couldn't be THAT bad.
CJ: They may be. We'll find out today!
TB vs. Atl
Boy Genius: Does Tampa find their offense this week, or does John Abraham and the Falcons D-Line cause Chris Simms to throw another batch of bad balls this week? Tough game to pick.
CJ: I think so to. This is a trap game. Is Atlanta as good as they showed last week? Is Tampa as bad?
Boy Genius: No and no
CJ: Something tells me Tampa not only covers, but wins this outright. John Gruden is a real football coach. He can scheme. He knows offenses. He'll get what he needs this week out of Simms.
Boy Genius: I worry about this line. It hasn't moved all week, and Atlanta's giving less than a TD at home? That seems odd to me. Gut says Atlanta covers, but my head thinks it'll be closer. I've got to go with my gut on this one. Atlanta 24 - Tampa 17.
Boy Genius: I can't for a minute think that Simms doesn't have a few good games in him this year, but I don't think it happens against this defense. Atlanta should be geared up for this important division game. Going two up on the rest of the NFC South pack is going to be a great cushion for them. They'll come out firing.
Ari vs. Sea
CJ: Okay, what about Arizona and Seattle? Another of the 11 divisional matchups this week.
Boy Genius: Arizona ripped up on San Fran, who looked a lot better than people thought they would. Seattle looked inept and got beaten up by the Lions in a win. I don't expect a slugfest today, this should be a high-scoring affair.
CJ: I see a lot of points, too. The over is a good bet here.
Boy Genius: Especially at 47 points. You're telling me this doesn't have 28-24 written all over it? Come on, this one's almost a gimme.
CJ: Right, I think it's one of the top plays. But does Seattle cover the 7?
Boy Genius: Yes. Yes, yes and yes. I think they come out feeling embarrassed by last week and Hasselbeck has a monster day. Monster. They're going to hang 35 or more. Period.
CJ: If I had to be this game, I'd like it a hell of a lot more at 6.5. But since it's 7, and I have to make a pick, I'd still have to say Seattle covers.
StL vs. SF
Boy Genius: Now we talk Niners football against the Rams. Another divisional game with an upstart San Fran team and a Rams team who didn't move the ball as effectively as their stats and the score showed last week. Still, the line is San Fran +3 in their home opener. Tough to back this one, or do you smell upset?
CJ: I'm with you. Tough to back this one. St. Louis may not have been efficient, but they beat a Denver team that was supposed to be among the best in the AFC. San Fran hung tough against an Arizona team that's been the sleeper pick each of the last 3 years. San Fran gets just 3? Rams cover.
Boy Genius: I'm troubled by how Edgerrin ran the ball against the Niners D last week, and I know Linehan wants to make sure Jackson gets his touches. I think the old Rams offense blows this team out, but the new Rams offense needs to find their stride in order to pull away down the stretch.
Boy Genius: Does that mean I'm backing the Niners? No.
Boy Genius: But I think that San Fran has a shot at being that team this year who's in more games than they should be. They'll lose this one by ten (24-14, if you're curious), but I like them as a road dog in coming weeks if they show they can hang with the Rams this week.
CJ: An upset wouldn't surprise me, but the bet is St. Louis to cover.
KC vs. Den
CJ: Now we get to what was supposed to be a big game... KC at Den.
Boy Genius: Supposedly. But you've got one QB wearing a neck brace like he got rear-ended in traffic and another who's hearing footsteps behind him for the umpteenth time in his career. Does Huard keep KC in the game, or does Plummer play out of his mind to secure his hold on the job... for now?
CJ: Over/Under on sideline shots of Jay Cutler?
CJ: I'd give the Chiefs a fighting chance with Trent Green under center.
Boy Genius: Depends - there's a formula to use when considering mentions and shots of Cutler on the sidelines:
Boy Genius: Take three-and-outs, add incompletions, divide by interceptions and subtract touchdowns. In other words, eleven. I don't even know what that's supposed to mean.
Boy Genius: Ten and a half is way too much. Waaaay too much to give to KC here.
CJ: That's the biggest problem with this game. 10.5 is alot!
CJ: In a game between these two bitter rivals, I'd never be able to bet a double digit line. You're telling me the smart money is on a Denver team that lost to St. Louis last week and now can't even win the bet with a 24-14 win?
Boy Genius: The only 10.5 I'm taking on Denver is on articles by disgruntled Denver-area sports columnists wondering where the vaunted Bronco offense has gone. Chiefs don't win, but they don't lose by ten either. Denver 17 - KC 10.
CJ: I'm with you on this pick. As long as Huard knows how to turn around and hand off to Larry Johnson. Denver outright, KC beats the spread.
NE vs. NYJ
Boy Genius: So my afternoon game on CBS is the Pats and Jets. Am I in for a good one?
CJ: Yes, you are. Jets are better than last year and Pats are worse. That makes for a closer game.
CJ: So why are the Jets GETTING 6 points at home?
Boy Genius: Because it's the pupil meeting the master. Mangini versus Belicheck. I don't see this as the same situation Gruden got in his Super Bowl win with the Bucs knowing what the Raiders were going to do before they did it. Belicheck is a gameplanning master, and I'm going to go out on a limb... The Pats blank the Jets and win by 24.
CJ: Wow! That is a limb! I still worry that the Pats offense doesn't know where it's at right now. No David Givens. No Deion Branch. I love Ben Watson... but someone has to pull that D away from him. I think the Jets pull off the upset at home and win outright.
Boy Genius: Wow, well one of us is going to be more right than the other... I think your limb is shakier than mine to be sure.
Ten vs. SD
Boy Genius: One more 4PM game... Tennessee and San Diego renewing a decades-long rivalry... aw, who are we kidding. When does Vince Young start for Tennessee? Kerry Collins? Really?
CJ: Has a QB fallen from grace as fast as Billy Volek in the history of the NFL? The Titans could have gotten a first round pick for the guy... now he can't beat out a drunk QB and a QB who won't be ready for 2 years.
Boy Genius: Hey now, Kerry Collins is ready to play now. He doesn't need two years.
CJ: Ha! I'll give you this... Drew Bennett had a big game, so someone had to be throwing to him.
CJ: Not that that matters... SD in a romp. LT only has to play one half for the second straight week.
Boy Genius: Amen to that. I'd play this game at 17, and I'm not kidding. Tennessee gave up 30-something to the JETS last week. Keep your eyes on the prize, Tennessee is as bad as Oakland and Green Bay. Don't forget this.
CJ: That's exactly what I was going to say. 17 is not too much to give Tennessee today.
CJ: Shawn Merriman will just about lock up defensive player of the year after getting to sack the clueless Aaron Brooks and the flat-footed Kerry Collins.
Boy Genius: He gets Brooks twice, by the way. That's good for ten sacks right there.
Was vs. Dal
Boy Genius: Fine, Washington vs. Dallas, the game the networks think the nation gives a shit about.
Boy Genius: Sigh
CJ: Prop bet... more viewers... Washington vs. Dallas or The Wire?
CJ: It should be The Wire! One of TV's best!
Boy Genius: What I hope and what I think are two different things here.
Boy Genius: I want this game to be a 4-4 tie, with all points coming off safeties when the QBs fumble and chase the ball out the back of the end zone. 85 total yards combined in the game, Terrell Owens loses a leg in a freak tarpaulin accident, and Joe Gibbs gets fired.
CJ: I could get behind that result. Bottom line: Dallas can't lose here. They have last year's MNF debacle that cost them their season. They're already 0-1 after blowing a game against Jacksonville. They're at home. Bledsoe wants to keep his job.
Boy Genius: No Romo this week?
CJ: Not this week. Parcells gives Bledsoe at least 2 full games.
CJ: I also think Dallas covers the 6.5. It's a big line for a game like this, but Washington had their problems last week.
Boy Genius: I hate this rivalry. TV executives want to put this one in primetime constantly, and I just loathe both teams. I don't even care about the spread. Just to be contrary, I'll go with Washington to cover, although Dallas wins outright 23-20.
Pit vs. Jax
CJ: Fair enough. That brings us to MNF.
Boy Genius: The only thing I'm watching Monday night is the premiere of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." Sorkin is a genius, and it's about time Matt Perry got a chance to say his words every week. He was great in his guest spots on "West Wing." This show's going to be awesome.
CJ: The West Wing died when Sorkin left. I hope he brings that great writing to this new arena.
Boy Genius: Yeah, with John Wells at the helm they did that "ER" thing where SOMETHING BIG had to happen every week. Can't have a nuanced show about the Stackhouse filibuster anymore. Anyway, I think the MNF matchup is totally devoid of nuance. Jax and Pitt, and they're both sledgehammers on defense. Who comes out unscathed?
CJ: Tough one. How does Jacksonville win 12 games last year? I mean, really? How do they ever win? Leftwich always looks like he's one hit away from a body cast. Fred Taylor has 17 reconstructed knees.
Boy Genius: Yeah, but the line opened at Jax minus two, and it's now Jax plus two. Is Roethlisberger worth four points, or is this his "I'm Keith Hernandez" moment? He's not Superman, but I think he thinks he is.
Boy Genius: I'm onboard the Jags train. Great defense, big and fast wideouts, and Leftwich is a leader. I think Jax steals this one outright 17-14.
CJ: That's a pretty substantial move on the line, and the Jax deal is good. Those Jag wideouts may be the difference. Jones, Wilford, Williams. Unheralded, but Leftwich gets them the ball. I'm with you. Jacksonville wins.
Locks of the week
Boy Genius: Lock of the week?
Boy Genius: For me, it's San Diego. Play all your money at -11.5 on these guys, this one won't be that close.
CJ: Not a bad pick. I think it's Cincy giving 10 to the Browns. It won't be close either. In fact, if you're dying for a three team parlay, throw in the double digit line in Indy with the Colts.
Boy Genius: Well, good luck to us this week. One of these weeks I'm going to have to throw a lot of money out and back this stuff up with dollars. For everyone else? Fade me immediately, I couldn't be more wrong.
CJ: And, as I'll always say, I suck at sports betting. Have a good Sunday!
The Chairman of SportingBet PLC, Peter Dicks, was arrested Wednesday night after he landed in the United States on a flight from London. The arrest happened after Customs ran his name through a database and found an outstanding warrant from Louisiana.
Dick faces a warrant of gambling by computer. It stems from an investigation back in January performed by the Louisiana State Police Gaming Enforcement Division. In May, a judge in St. Landry Parish signed the warrant, and perhaps others, but ordered them sealed. The clerk of courts can not even tell us which judge signed the warrants.
Gambling by computer is a felony which is punishable by a fine of no more than $20,000 and/or imprisonment with or without hard labor for not more than five years. This is for anyone who "designs, develops, manages, supervises, maintains, provides or produces" any online gambling. For your typical user (i.e. me), the charge brings a fine of not more than $500 and/or imprisonment for not more than six months. If you'd like a good laugh, go ahead and read the gambling by computer law. Bottom line: It's all about the kids.
More on this developing story to come... (Also keep an eye on Wicked Chops Poker, who are, as usual, on the case.)
Now less abridged!
I have five minutes until I get on a plane back to Vegas. I have more stories from the past three weeks than I will ever be able to write. I don't have time to tell this story, but something inside me is dying to start.More in this Poker Blog! -->
"It's always hotter in the parking garage," I said. The Mark had to pee, Wil should've been sleeping, and Spaceman was on a three-week waking binge that even Pauly couldn't handle. We had just crossed the street into the Gold Coast parking garage. The idea was a simple one. We didn't want to play big. We wanted to play little. We wanted to play $5 Pai Gow.
"I've stayed here before," Wil said as we passed the registration desk.
"No, you haven't," I said. I was sober, save a couple beers and a shot of tequila that some photographer found in the back of a trailer. The photog said they had a frozen drink machine in there, too.
Into the pit. We walked like a thirty-something version the Resevior Dogs, without the black suits or violent demeanors. We were like Swingers, but without the good looks and hip banter. We walked like low-rollers. We wanted to play $5 Pai Gow.
And, of course, we wanted some steak and eggs.
Zone 1 is boarding. I'm in Zone 2
The $5 tables were full. We begged for four empty seats together, but the pit boss wasn't having it. Suddenly, The Mark was spreading six grand in hundreds across an empty table. I dropped a roll of $4,000 on top of it. Thirty seconds later, a new boss was there.
"A quarter a hand okay for you guys?"
Sure it is. Sure it is, indeed.
Zone 2 boarding...and this story waits...
Now in Hotlanta, with a dry sandwich and a watery diet soda in my system. This Dell Inspiron almost decided to shuffle down that mortal coil. Then, Lazarus at Hartsfield International, it popped up and said, "Keep writing, bitch."
Quarter a hand. When I told this story later, the listener thought I was playing really low. Instead, I instructed, we'd managed to find a table playing for five times what we planned. However, as we had stood an beseeched the eye in the sky, pointing to our stacks of cash, and screaming, "Helllllloooo," it was evident we were sufficiently rolled for the game.
What's the right buy-in for this game? A couple hundred a piece sounded right, and suddenly eight hundred bucks was on the felt and getting turned into green. The pit boss eyed us warily, but summoned all forms of service. A cigar for The Mark, cigs for Spaceman, a round of drinks for the low rollers. I mistakenly ordered a beer.
It started badly. No one won a hand except the dealer. Something was wrong. We tried to summon every ounce of winning energy we had, but the atmosphere was decidedly off.
The dealer, a decidedly male fan-boy type, was looking at Wil. "You're..."
Indeed, Wil was. He has been for years. He's more famous than he lets on. I've been walking down hallways where people yank out cameras and shoot him like Us magazine or People might be buying big. I've seen other celebs go out of their way to talk to him. Wil is the humble type and won't let you believe he's famous. He is.
It was established Wil actually was Wil. He was playing quarter a hand--wait, $50 a hand, now--Pai Gow poker in a dark, smokey, off-strip casino at 3am. Wait, maybe it is 4am now. But, he's nice, and he's telling about his favorite episodes, and he's signing autographs for the entire pit staff.
But we're not winning yet. I just wanted to teach the boys the game. And, of course, get some steak and eggs. (Note: Another time, I may tell the story of trying to woo a pit boss named Simone at the Excalibur, then getting a casino host out to witness my $200 a hand bets, and to then REFUSE steak and eggs on general principle.)
Then it hit me. Just as Spaceman and Wil started into telling the life stories of the cowboys on the $25 chips (Don Gay? Is that right? Am I remembering a cowboy named Don Gay? I remember Bodacious the bull, for sure, but Don Gay? Or was it Dennis?), I figured it out. I was drinking a blue-wrapped, room temperature Bud Light. There was neither vodka, nor grapefruit juice on the table.
The short-skirted girl was at the table as if the ten grand we put on the table would be hers before night's end.
"We need greyhounds, ma'am. All of us."
Wil wasn't drinking much, The Mark needs umbrellas in his drinks, and Spaceman is a beer man. But damn it, there is a way this game is played. And we're down a collective $300. No make that $400. And I'm in my pocket. What? I'm buying in again? I've got too much money on this table.
Pai Gow is a game of playing even. You play for the drinks, the cigars, the company. And, of course, the steak and eggs. I wasn't leaving down. It appeared I wasn't leaving at all.
Now, I'm not really the type to get all superstitious, but just about the time the grehyhounds showed, the dealer started dealing himself (now, it was actually a fan-girl dealer) pai gows.
"Pai Gow!" we screamed, and dutifully pointed at all the losers around us.
The pit boss, ready to leave her shift for the night stepped up.
"You're going to scare my regulars."
I looked at the regulars. They were aging, tired, Asian gamblers. They hadn't said a word all night. They were playing for a little nickel a hand and they hated everything about the Pai Gow lifestyle. They weren't getting steak and eggs. They weren't getting anything but sore-asses and finger-pointing from we low-rollers.
"Scare, ma'am?" I said. "Inspire. We will inspire them."
The winning continued. Suddenly, I was back out of my pocket. The boys were winning on either side of me. The green chips were stacking up. We couldn't stop playing long enough to pee, so we put out our chips and let the pit boss set our hands for us while we ran to the bathroom. We played the dragon like it was our own personal bitch. It was a tornado of Pai Gow activity so intense and insane that the greyhounds were all set on my napkin and my liver was fueling every bit of energy on the table. The boys read about Don Gay's exploits, The Mark blew his cigar smoke into the eye in the sky, the dealers got their autographs, and we screamed "Pai Gow!" loud enough to shake the parking garage pillars 500 yards away.
And seconds later, the old Asians woke up, stood up, pointed at their table, pointed at us, and screamed, "PAI GOW!!!!!!"
I looked at the pit boss and said one word: "Inspire."
It all passed too quickly for me to record more than that in my addled memory banks. I have no more. I only know that I looked down, counted out my chips, counted my other players' chips, and realized we were within $5 (FIVE DOLLARS!) of even. Over the past two hours, we had gambled hundreds...no wait...that was hundreds per hand...THOUSANDS of dollars. And we were down $5. I did a quick accounting of the drinks, cigars, commissions, and tokes and realized we were way, way ahead.
It was a good thing, because Spaceman and Wil were getting antsy. Just then the pit boss walked up and handed us our comp.
Steak and eggs, bitch. If Simone and that casino host could see me now.
It was with something like post coital afterglow that we four low rollers settled into the food joint at the Gold Coast and ordered our food. The table was awash with steak, eggs, shrimp cocktails, strawberry daquiris, and, for Wil, a dry English muffin.
Then the prop bets started. There exists video and pictures of that. I can only say that I lost everything I played.
Regardless, folks, as I prepare to board this final leg to Vegas, I'm bouyed only by the knowledge that steak and eggs still exist and getting them is still my game. I may need Wil's face, Spaceman's drive, and The Mark's roll to get what I need, but I get'em.
Steak and eggs.
Now boarding Zone 1<-- Hide More
If you're interested, the Derby picks are up over at my other blog.
Update: And the big Trifecta box is now posted as well.
(Update! Results below...)
My diversion from poker continues with another night at the races. Last Friday night, I posted a $700 profit with an un-repeatable run of bets. So you can safely assume the picks below will bomb. Nonetheless, here they are. I don't have time to go in depth, so you'll have to settle for simplicity.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Evangeline Downs, Friday March 17
(Horse number, Horse Name, Morning Line Odds)
#7 Arcatec 2/1, #4 Streaking Pine 9/5, #3 Plinko 6/1
Final order 4-5-7: I did not bet this race because I didn't get there in time. With the odds Streaking Pine went off at, I would have had WP money on him. I would not have hit an exotics.
#5 Sidcup 2/1, #7 Target Hit 5/2, #2 Green Gold 10/1
Final order 5-7-2: I got in with just 2 minutes before this race, so I didn't bet it either. It was as chalk as chalk gets, however. The exacta paid just $7.40 and the Trifecta $22.80.
#1 Convinceable 5/2, #2 My Proud Rebel 9/2, #11 Melrose Man 7/2
Final order 1-3-12: I did not bet the winner here because I wasn't in love with the odds. This would be a trend that would come back to haunt me. I missed on exotics here, too.
#7 Imski 20/1, #13 Angelic Kiss 5/1, #4 Proudest Princess 7/2
Final order 1-6-3: I wasn't anywhere near this race. My top pick ran well until the turn and then stopped.
#3 It Just Got Better 9/2, #6 Toolengthoflite 6/1, #1 Brasswick 15/1
Final order 6-7-8: The Toolengthoflite went off at okay odds, paying $10.20 , but I didn't have him to win. My exotics all failed, too.
#8 My Roarer 6/1, #12 Buck's Limit 8/1, #1 Hamel the Camel 6/1
Final order 12-10-1: I really liked My Roarer here, so, again, I didn't have a win bet on Buck's Limit and it's $11.40. Why don't I bet my picks? If the 10 isn't there, I hit the exacta and the trifecta (8 came in 4th).
#13 Sister Jill 5/1, #14 Vanilla Whirl 15/1, #3 Duplicate Award 4/1
Final order 9-3-8: Nowhere near this one. My top pick came in 4th.
#5 Raja Jet 5/2, #8 Texas Eagle 7/2, #9 Power Hawk 10/1
Final order 6-8-12: I liked the 6 here, but it was only my 4th chocie and I didn't have it in the necessary exotics.
#4 Motor Home 5/2, #8 Mr. Canaveral 8/5, #3 Robbeau 10/1
Final order 8-6-1: I didn't bet my second choice to win here. I didn't like the odds again. My top choice came home in 5th.
#12 Saro Smile 8/1, #1 Gold Bag 7/2, #2 Star Agenda 6/1
Final order 7-9-12: I had the #7 in some exoctics because I liked it, but the 9 horse screwed me. Gold Bag came in 4th and if the #9 was gone, I'd have hit the exacta and the trifecta.
#7 De's Sweet Dream 5/2, #8 Rich'n Restless 4/1, #9 Conessa Slaney 5/1
Final order 7-4-5: My top choice wins again, but, again, I don't bet it. It paid $6.20, so it's not like the odds were terrible. I did have it as the first half of a double, though.
#2 Valay Jeans 3/1, #4 Amy's Battle 5/2, #1 River Boat Blues 10/1
Final order 2-5-1: I had a large bet on Valay Jeans and some various exotics. I cashed the win ticket and the double from the last race, but the 5 horse screwed all my exotics. Those two tickets were the only cashes of the night. I finished down $200.
All my selections were made "blind" (without the influence of any morning lines). The horses are listed in my order of preference. No horses were harmed in the making of these picks.<-- Hide More
I remember this feeling.
It's like winning a big tournament. I haven't done that in awhile.
Tonight, I took my 3-day's worth of handicapping to the Evangeline Downs race track to try my hand at the horsies. I've been working hard at this the past few weeks and I've gotten a ton of help from Boy Genius.
It was a big night.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Here are the raw numbers:
I cashed a ticket in 9 of 11 races. I made a profit on my bets in 7 of 11 races. My top choice won 7 of 11 races. One of my top three choices won 9 of 11 races. 19 of my 33 choices finished in the money.
It started out nicely when I hit the win, the exacta and the trifecta on the first race. When Flyin Alfredo came across first in the 5th race, I won $164 on a $40 win bet and $111 on a $2 pick 3 bet. In race 10, I again had the winner, the exacta and the trifecta.
At that point, I was up more than $200 for the day. And I would have been happy to walk away then.
I'm glad I didn't.
In the 11th and final race, I put $5 to win and $5 to place on the #2 Rum Ball. I also had an exacta with #2 and the favorite #11 and a trifecta with the #2/#11/#7. When the race started, the #2 was getting odds of 42-1. That's right... 42-1!!!!!
The race finished 2-11-4-7. My WP ticket and exacta paid $530. Had the 7 gotten up for third, I would have cashed a trifecta worth more than a thousand dollars.
It's a night of horse betting I'll never be able to replicate. Apparently my luckboxing skills extended to the race track. I certainly can't complain about that!<-- Hide More
Gambling comes down to one sometimes undefinable element: The Edge.
Whenever you pull money out of your pocket and risk it in a gambling enterprise of any kind, determining whether it's a good bet or a bad bet comes down to the edge.
For example, walk into a casino and every table game and slot machine has a built in house edge. None of the bets you can make are "good bets." No matter what, in the long run, the casino wins and you lose. That is a fact. There is no way to work around that.
Place a bet on the roulette wheel and face a house edge so large you might as well burn your money. Now that doesn't mean that some bets aren't better than others. Taking max odds while betting wrong at the Craps table is a significantly better bet than playing the bonus bet at the Three Card Poker table. In the long run, you'll still lose, but the chance of you losing that single bet is much less at the Craps table.
So where should we bet?More in this Poker Blog! -->
The Poker Table
If you're reading this blog, you know this already. The beauty of casino poker is that the edge you have is based on your skill relative to the rest of the players at your table. In fact, sometimes all you need to be successful is just one player worse than you.
Of course, luck will alwys play a role. A bad stretch at the poker table is always a possibility. But if you pay correct poker and sit at a table with bad players, you will win in the long run.
The House does not set the line in a horse race. You set the line.
More specifically, the collective wagers of the hundreds or thousands of people betting a race set the line. The odds are based on the amount bet, nothing more. The track makes money every time you bet, not whether you win or lose.
With that in mind, you can create your own edge at the race track. All you have to be is smarter than most of the people betting on the same race as you. If the dumb money is all over the heavy favorite and the smart money is on the long shot, you have an edge, as long as you're part of the smart money.
When Boy Genius handicaps a race, he's not necessarily trying to determine who will win, he's trying to determine where he can find an overlay. If he handicaps a race and thinks a horse is a great bet at 4-1, but the final odds are 20-1, you better have a few bucks on that horse. If he thinks a horse is a great bet at 3-1 but it goes off at 6-5, the bet probably isn't worth it.
The Sports Book
This one is tricky. In this case, it is the house that sets the line, however, that line is constantly changing as more money is bet on a game. It's in the sports book's interest to have as many people lose as possible.
That's where the balancing act comes in. In the end, the line will likely fall somewhere in the middle of all money bet. Having about the same amount of people fall on each side of a bet protects the sportsbook from a huge payout.
This is where your skill comes into play. At the sports book, you lock in the line as soon as you make a bet. So if you do your homework, and can find a spectacular line, it pays to put your money down. Sometimes, the line in a game can move wildly from the time it's set to the time it closes.
Finding a good line gives you a better edge.<-- Hide More
It was just after 2am. I had three beers in my belly and PokerStars' screen burned into my corneas. I'd just finished watching BadBlood embarass a bunch of 180-SNGers. I'm not sure I've seen anyone play a final table stack much better in recent weeks.
Now, it was bedtime and Mrs. Otis was already dreading what would happen in about five or six hours.
"I'll Rock/Paper/Scissors you in the morning for who has to get up with the baby."More in this Poker Blog! -->
I couldn't believe what I just heard. I said, "Really?"
Through her pillow, she said, "You know, Roshambo."
I tried to ignore my gambler's arousal and said, "Okay." It was the kind of okay that men offer when someone offers to buy them a beer, pay for their lapdance, and take care of their student loans.
My wife, while fiercly competitive, rarely challenges me to any sort of contest. The simple act of competing against her was more than I could ask for. Plus, if I won, I wouldn't have to wake up at 7:30am.
Pshawwww...me win at Roshambo? Sadly, while I like to think I'm a master (and tend to beat less experienced players), I tend to collapse under pressure. G-Rob routinely beats me (except for one glorious night outside Uncle Ted's house in which I turned G-Rob into a panty-wearing pre-school girl in front of a group of people).
I shoved my face in my pillow and smiled. It was time to get in her head.
"So," I said, "What are you going to throw first?"
"Rock," she said, "or scissors, or paper."
Little bitch was messing with me. I started to get a little worried.
"So, best two out of three?"
She answered quickly. "No, just once."
And then I figured it out. She's been reading Jesus' Favorite, a bet-loss blog written by a friend of fellow poker bloggers Wil and Shane. Annie lost a Roshambo bet with Wil and ended up having to write a blog (which, incidentally, is just priceless).
"That Annie is one funny chick," the wife had said.
The next thing I knew it was 4am and I was stuck between throwing paper or rock. A part of me said to come out strong with rock and show the little woman who she really was. But, as she slept peacefully, I thought she might be on to me. Coming out with a first-throw-rock is the equivalent of a small-penised man buying a Porsche. False masculinity, and all. And so, I drifted off to restless sleep with paper on my mind.
The human alarm clock woke up just before eight. Mrs. Otis rolled over and said, "Ready?"
I tried to clear my head. Had I decided on Paper or Rock? And why was my lap-dance dream still grinding on my brain? "Yeah, ready."
My brain woke up. Don't throw rock, you bastard!. I listened just in time and threw out paper. My bleary eyes saw her hand...
She'd thrown paper, too. She'd put me on rock before she even went to sleep.
Like heads up poker, there's no room for error in round two of a Roshambo match. And no time (like four hours of drooling on your pillow) to consider the move. I had less than ten seconds to decide. And then it hit me. She was going to double throw on me.
I threw scissors and looked down to Mrs. Otis' double-paper.
Back to back papers, indeed.
In the equivalent of a poker room fist-pump, I buried my face in a giant feather pillow and pretended to snore. Mrs. Otis got up and trudged across the hardwoods. "You cheated," she said.
And I couldn't resist, "Next time maybe we'll play a little heads-up hold'em for kid duty. Whatta ya say?"
She was out of the bedroom before she spoke again, but I'm pretty sure I heard the words, "Cocksucking bastard prick-cocksucker."
Ladies and gentlemen, I woke up this morning to December 1st. The November Slide, if only by definition, is over and it ended with me mercilessly trouncing my wife in a high-stakes Roshambo match.
One week from this very second, I'll be inbound for Las Vegas.
The timing couldn't be much better.<-- Hide More
First, I mean no disrespect. I don't mean to be macabre. And I'm not making a joke.
But this is messed up.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I'm not going to say anything more. Good taste and all.
(By the way, if something should happen in the morning before I wake up, someone please call CJ and have him remove this post. After all, I got dealt aces twice and kings once tonight before bed)<-- Hide More
A gorgeous new casino opened in Louisiana this week. It's the largest riverboat casino in the United States. The L'Auberge du Lac is a Vegas style resort plunked down in Lake Charles. The casino was built by Pinnacle Entertainment, which has casinos in Nevada (not Vegas), Mississippi, Louisiana and Argentina. And pending approval from the Missouri gaming commission, there will be two Pinnacle casinos in St. Louis.
This was opening weekend, and, predictably, the place was packed. I decided to take the 1 1/2 hour drive to see what all the fuss was about. Besides, it gave me another opportunity to see the lovely Lindsay!! How could I pass that up! (Lindsay is the PR rep who helped made the introduction that made our Aladdin tourney possible.)More in this Poker Blog! -->
While visiting with Lindsay, I got a chance to meet Dan Lee, the CEO of Pinnacle Entertainment. My first question for him, "Why no poker room!?!?!" Apparently, Louisiana has a law about no more than 30,000 square feet of gaming, and Lee had to choose between slots and a poker room. Slots won. What a shame.
Without a poker room, that meant finding the nearest Craps table. I plunked down $200 at the $10 table. 20x the bet is about the minimum I like to start with when playing Craps, but there were no $5 tables at the time. It was a little slow-going because a few of the dealers were learning. I suppose that would have upset me, had I been losing.
I bet wrong, as I always do, and it was up and down. Unfortunately, I missed on four different 4's and 10's, each with 5x odds on the table (you could play up to 100x odds). That meant a swing of $95 for each hit. That's $380 I'd love to have!
Instead, my strategy had me up a little over $100 when it was time to go. It was just two hours of play, but that's all I was looking for last night. On may out, I threw my extra $20 on the table and bet the hardways for the dealers. They hit the hard 4 and the hard 6. Damn, I think I'd perfer that $90 to any karma that might come my way!
I'm not sure how often I'll go back to L'auberge. It is the closest thing to a Vegas-style casino you'll find around Lafayette, but if I'm driving a couple hours to gamble, I need a poker room.<-- Hide More
Whenever I get to the Coushatta for a little NL action, I have a little time to kill while the waiting list either whittles down or gets big enough to open a new table. Unfortunately, that makes it easy for me to give in to my gambling urges.
Slots do nothing for me. I know Grubby loves one-armed bandits, but I just can't seem to get much excitement out of them. The blackjack tables are okay, but I lose too much there, despite what the book says. Roulette is a money pit (as much as I'd like to play it!). And Pai Gow poker is fine at 3am when I don't have to think, but that's about it.
That means it's on to the craps table. And I think I've developed a system that keeps my head above water no matter how long I play. Sure, you won't get rich, but you'll walk away ahead!More in this Poker Blog! -->
It all starts with the table. First I'll tell you what to ignore. Ignore all of those boxes to the left (Hardaways, One Roll Bets, Horn Bet, etc.). Those are sucker bets. Those little C-E circles don't mean a whole lot either. And you're better off pretending the "Field" and "Big 6-8" areas don't exist either.
So what does that leave? Well, you've got the Pass Line and Don't Pass Bar and you've got the Come and the Don't Come Bar. You also have those numbers up top, but I'd stay away from the place bets.
When I play, I play "wrong." That means I'm betting against the shooter. If you're going to play this way, you need to do so quietly. Loudly rooting against everyone else is a quick way to get a right cross to your temple. Here's how it works:
Place a bet on the Don't Pass Bar. I play either the $5 or $10 tables. So let's say I put $5 on the Don't Pass Bar. The shooter throws the dice and one of four things happens; you win, you lose, you push or the point is set.
You win $5 when a 2 or a 3 or is rolled. You lose your $5 bet when a 7 or 11 is rolled. You push when a 12 is rolled. And any other number sets the point (that's those numbers up at the top, the black "Off" disk will flip over and become the white "On" disk and get placed on a number).
So let's say the shooter rolls a 9. You've bet "Don't Pass" so that means you win if $5 if the shooter rolls a 7 before again rolling a 9. None of the other numbers affect you at all. If a 9 comes first, you lose your $5 bet.
However, the real money comes when you lay odds. You see, you're at a great advantage to win your $5 bet because a 7 is much more common than a 9. That means you want to maximize your winnings. When you lay odds on a 9, you get paid $2 for every $3 you bet (same thing for the 5). For example, bet $15 and win $10 or bet $30 and win $20. That's a bet that you'll make after the point is set that's in addition to your "Don't Pass" bet (put the money behind your initial bet).
If you want to press your luck, you can also bet the "Don't Come Bar." It acts exactly like the "Don't Pass Bar" on subsequent rolls. If the 9 is the point, you bet the "Don't Come," and the next roll is a 4, your "Don't Come" bet will be moved to the square with the 4. You can again lay odds, and once again, you win if a 7 is rolled before a 4.
With the 4, however, you have to bet $2 to win $1 when you lay odds. So if you bet $20 you win $10 and if you bet $30 you win $15. Again, it's the same payoff for the 10.
When it's the 6 or the 8, you have to lay $6 to win $5. So for a $30 bet, you can win $25.
See how simple it is?
Generally, I'll bet the "Don't Pass." If a 10 or a 4 is the point, I'll take heavy odds, maybe laying as much as $60. If a 5 or a 9 is the point, I'll take solid odds, maybe laying $45 or $30. If a 6 or an 8 is the point, I won't take odds. Occasionally, I'll also bet the "Don't Come," but only if I'm on a good run. If a hot shooter steps up (hitting 2 points), I won't play until the dice move.
Again, you won't get rich playing this way, but I've figured out it's a pretty solid system for making money while having a little fun at the craps table!
In the old days, before children and the workaday world, Superbowl Sunday rarely had a chance to be boring. If there wasn't a keg iced down on the back porch or in the garage, there were several cases of beer in a cooler next to a table of food fit for a king's feast.
These days, though, when one has to keep an eye on the drooling kid, avoid stepping on the pre-schoolers who zip around the room like spilled mercury, and do one's best not to go into work hopelessly hungover, a Superbowl has a damned good chance of being boring. Especially if the Pats look bored and the Eagles look...well, how the Eagles looked (sorry, CJ).
Of, course, there's only one thing that can keep two UFP junkies from falling asleep in their man-chairs.
Prop bets.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The whole Otis clan took leave of Mt. Otis Sunday afternoon and headed over to Casa de G-Rob. As we discussed the Poker Superstars Invitational that had just aired on NBC and Gus Hansen's infuriating style of play, G-Rob and I settled in to sip beers and hope for an interesting game.
"You know," I said, feeling out the situation, "we should've come here with a stack of singles and just bet on what the next play was going to be."
I could see the spark in G-Rob's eye. All it took was the suggestion. Within a few seconds, he'd run to a drawer and pulled out a notepad and pen.
"Next play a pass or run?" he said.
"Absolutely a run," I answered.
Thank you, Andy. There's my run.
We started out with manageable stakes. A quarter a bet. And we started out with your usual bets. Will the next pass be to the right, the left, or over the middle? Over/under on the number of yards of the next runback. Which team will kick the next field goal (incidentally, I made this bet for a dollar in the first quarter and picked the Eagles; the bet lasted until the fourth quarter when the Pats finally kicked a field goal...bastards).
By and by, Uncle Ted and Marc came in to watch with us while the wives and kids cooed about wife and kid things. It was sometime around the second quarter when the bets started degenerating in football significance and increasing monetarily.
Before we knew it we were betting on the following things:
* Which head coach will be the next sideline close-up?
* Will the next bump shot coming back from break be a cheerleader or an ugly view of Jacksonville?
* Will the next commercial be for a consumable or a car?
* Will the next commercial have a celebrity in it?
* Over/under on number of real-time minutes it takes to finish the first half from the point of the two minute warning (I crushed this one with my over bet on the line set by both Uncle Ted and G-Rob)
*Over/under on the duration of the halftime break (I set the line on the this one at 45 minutes and everybody took the over...silly boys).
We would also combine them. For instance.
*For Otis to win the next commercial must be for a non-food and contain a celeb.
I started going downhill when I suggested we pick in advance the college football conference of the next player to be featured in a full-screen graphic. I went with my old conference, the Big 12, thinking the number of schools alone upped my chances. Uncle Ted took the Big Ten, G-Rob the SEC. The first player up was from the Pac-10. Nobody won, so we all stuck firm to our choices. The next player up was from LSU.
Tenatively, I suggested, "Um...that's not in the SEC."
The room, including the women, shot me down with looks of disdain and G-Rob took home another dollar.
So, I gave up the Big 12 and went to the PAC-10. G-Rob took over the Big 12 and sure enough, the next player came from Colorado.
Bah. I suck at this game.
Just before the halftime break, G-Rob proposed we all pick the song that Paul McCartney would use to open his show. I took the obvious, "Come Together." In this day and age, I thought "Come Together" was a lock and rockin' enough to open a show. G-Rob and Uncle Ted went all mushy, picking "Hey Jude" and "Let it Be" respectively.
Paul decided to surprise everybody by starting with "Drive My Car" leading someone to ask if a car company was sponsoring the halftime show. G-Rob suggested we keep the bet running and let our original picks run throughout the show. I still thought "Come Together" was a lock, but I was a bit worried about "Hey Jude."
Of course, Paul went on to put on one of the best halftime shows in recent memory (and if you disagree, I'm ready to fight on this one). And, of course, that's when my luck turned even worse and Paul closed with "Hey Jude" and put another buck in G-Rob's pocket.
Alright, I thought, back to my bread and butter.
"Alright, beer or no beer in the next commercial," I proposed.
"Beer." G-Rob said.
As we hit the next break, we saw one of the best commercials of the Superbowl (admittedly, they all sorta sucked): An international airport terminal where the crowd started to clap for a line of disembarking members of the military. G-Rob scratched a dollar for me on the notepad and we all sat back and marvelled at the effectiveness of the ad.
I stood to go get a beer to celebrate my win and stole a glance at the end of the commercial. As it ended, a full-screen slate popped up with two simple words...
I literally collapsed on the floor as the room exploded in cheers for G-Rob. I pounded my hands on the carpet, screaming, "No! No! No!" paying no attention to the fact that the kids had all gone to sleep.
When I looked up, G-Rob was in full Phil Laak dance celebration.
And then he said it.
"I rivered you."
That, friends, is how you make Superbowl XXXIX interesting.<-- Hide More
The shiny, tinkling noisemakers dangled from my fingers. The pads of my fingers barely grasped the red plastic that served as the handle. I set my eyes on an invisible point in mid-air, took a single breath, held it, pitched and released.
In this game, friends, the tension is so great, you can only hope exhaling will bring oxygen back to your brain. And if it doesn't, the best you can hope for is a quiet, easy death void of shame.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I barely missed my prediction that I would bust out in 91st place of the WPBT V tournament on Poker Stars. I lasted until 96th before going on a short-stacked blind steal with a weak ace. The small blind called with pocket nines and I didn't improve.
I told myself I was playnig to win and I needed to double up twice to be in contention. In my heart, though, I knew I had been outplayed by Doubleas on a hand two orbits ago. And I was despondent.
I started well, with my raises getting little respect pre-flop, but serious respect post-flop. I had built my stack up to a little more than average with a combination of strong starting hands and aggressive post-flop play. At one point, I limped in with A3 and caught two pair on the flop. I slowed played it until the river before finding myself in the unenviable position of having to call an all-in bet with it. After much hemming and hawing, I made the call, hoping my opponent had a big ace with an unpaired kicker. As it turned out, he, too, had A3.
My heart actually beat a little bit after that.
When you're standing at the end of a long hallway, your keys dangling from your hand, begging to be thrown on an arc of victory, your mind tends to go somewhere else. Before you stop breathing entirely, your lungs regulate the oxygen flow in a "just-so" manner that keeps you standing but calm.
Three bad things can happen:
You can mishandle your throw and risk termination for destroying company property.
You can impale someone in the temple (it's worse when it is the General Manager).
You can disqualify yourself and, as such, lose.
This, friends, is a game called Keyshoes.
The pentultimate hand of my demise in the WPBT V was against Doubleas.
He'd been playing fairly aggressively both pre and post-flop. Seeing any flop on the cheap was impossible if he was in the hand. Missing the flop was the worse possible thing that could happen. Whether he had it, whether he was in position, whether he had a read on you, you weren't going to win the hand without wanting to call your mommy first.
I had tangled with him on one previous hand in which I flopped trips with KT (KKQ on the flop). I slowed-played it. In retropect, it was a bad decision. When an A fell on the river (I forget the turn), Doubleas went all in. I had to call. He turned up K7 or K8. Had I pushed earlier, he probably would've called, but maybe not. Regardless, we split the pot.
I had chipped myself down on a couple of bad pre-flop calls, and sat just below my starting stack. I was angry, because in the minutes before I had been about 30th in chips out of 120-something.
As usual, Doubleas raised pre-flop, I re-raised with AKo. He called. The board had more rags in it than a Detroit Grease Monkey. It was eight-high as I recall.
He checked to me and I barely thought before firing off a near pot-sized bet. I was still tilting a little from the chopped pot ealier. And, after all, he had raised pre-flop, but only called my re-raise. I figured, at best he had AK or AQ, maybe a small pocket pair.
Doubleas broke my heart with an over-the-top all-in check-raise that would've put me out if I called.
I went in the tank.
Half of me still thought he had two overs, but that sinking "I want to keep playing" part of me feared he had 99, or worse had flopped a set of eights.
So, it was either hope he was aggressively playing overs (which is all I had), or hope he had 99 and hope I could catch one of my six remaining outs. Or, fold, and be left with around 900 chips.
And I still hate myself.
My co-workers and I created Keyshoes as a way to pass the time and add some spice to our relatively dull working lives.
The rules are fairly simple: Start at one end of the hallway, toss your car keys to the other end without hitting the ceiling or wall, closest to the door at the end--without hitting it--wins. Walk to the other end of the hallway, repeat. If the first winning player wins again, he wins the PM Magazine Coffee Cup trophy.
It is not a game without its dangers. There are many blind entrances to the hallway and anyone could walk into the line of fire at any moment. Managers roam the building at odd times and could end up with a house key stuck in their crotch. Exposed lighting is vulnerable to shattering on a mishandled throw. What's more, it's human nature to pick up keys you see left sitting unattended and many a Good Samaritan has come close to get clocked while trying to do a good deed.
Last night, I became a railbird much earlier than I hoped I would. The sheer humiliation of only being able to take part in the accompanying Yahoo! chat made me want to quit poker forev....well, at least for the night.
I went downstairs and watched the rest of the St. Louis game, returning to the computer between innnings to cheer on my fellow bloggers (Congrats to MtDewVirus and ToddCommissh for winning one for the bloggers).
I hate myself.
As I sit at work now, the PM Magazine Cup sits next to my computer screen, a token of my extreme superiority over my co-workers in a game of skill, chance, and danger.
At least I'm good at something.<-- Hide More
Welcome to the South Carolina Welcome Center.
First, we'd like you to enjoy all the amenities of our clean rest rooms. We have information services and free maps to help you navigate the foothills and beaches of the Palmetto State.
Please be sure to be careful as you cross over Lake Hartwell. Don't eat the fish, either.
And please pay no attention to those signs advertising poker casinos. First, we've gotten rid of them all. Second, it was only video poker, anyway.
Lastly, if you brought a rabid, amphetamine-crazed, homicidal chicken with you, please report to Agriculture Commissioner Charles Sharpe.
He's been expecting you.More in this Poker Blog! -->
But first, let's get a few things clear:
We South Carolinians--at least those who are the most vocal--loathe gambling. It may not be a mortal sin, but neither is hypocrisy, and we loathe that, too. Or something like that.
That's why we stood firm on the issue of video poker. Because we couldn't negotiate significant tax revenue from the proceeds of video poker play, we all got together, stood on our moral high ground, and got rid of all the machines. Well, almost all of them There are still a few around and that keeps our State Law Enforcement Division agents busy.
When the law enforcement officials aren't busy running over illegal poker machines with bulldozers, their colleagues on the municipal and county vice squads spend a decent amount of time busting up backroom craps games.
See, we loathe gambling.
Well, you have to understand, it's for the children. A couple of years ago, we realized that we were putting a lot of people in prison, not fully funding medicaid, and squandering our portion of the cigarette lawsuit settlement (pay no attention to our subsidized tobacco farms for they are just part of our tradition).
Because we were spending so much money on everything else, our education system had sunk to #49 in the nation (thanks, Mississippi).
Suprise, surprise. The sale of lottery tickets and the rake the state takes from it can contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to the state's education coffers every year.
Bring on Powerball.
So, we hate, nay, loathe gambling, unless it helps the children.
And those damned Catawba Indians that want to play high-stakes bingo can just go back to their reservation. What? Oh, they're already there? We'll have to find a way around that.
Oh, I see you did, in fact, bring your chicken with you.
Around here, we prefer to call it a gamecock. You'll notice our flagship state university's mascot is Cocky, the gamecock.
You're going to need a map to Aiken County.
First (nudge, nudge) you should know that cockfighting is illegal here (unlike those gambling heathen states, Lousiana and New Mexico). So, as you transport your gamecock, we suggest you paste a Tyson Food sticker on your truck. Fools'em every time.
I notice you also brought your new set of high-grade titanium spurs. Good choice. If you are pulled over by our law enforcement officers, here's what you say:
"Oh, goodness no, officer. Cockfighting? Of course not. That's barbaric. No, no. Pokey the Chicken here wears the spurs to ward off those menacing Chick-Fil-A cows that have been causing so many problems in the poultry community."
If that doesn't work just ask, 'Do you know Agriculture Commissioner Charles Sharpe?"
You might have heard recently that Mr. Sharpe was arrested and indicted on corruption charges surrounding his protection of a cockfighting ring. You might have heard a SLED agent was arrested as well. Well, that's just those pesky federales messing around with a states rights issue. We suspect we have some friendly judges around here that might be able to take care of the problem.
So, we loathe gambling, unless it is tradition.
Plus, cockfighting is nature. We here in South Carolina suspect most people will understand it is natural for two chickens to tear each other wing from breast in the farmyard.
Unnatural, you ask?
Well, poker for one.
God created chickens. He did not create cowboys full of rockets. He did not create a game in which 666 is often a winning hand. He did not create a game in which two Kings together, or two Queens together is a natural and winning union. God believes that King/Queen (suited, by the way, because we don't like that integration stuff) should be the winning hand in any game.
So, let's get this straight:
Lottery gambling--For the children.
Cockfighting--Illegal, but since it's a matter of tradition, you might be able to pay off a government official to help you out.
Poker--Satanic, unAmerican, and possibly homosexual.
So, thank you for stopping by the South Carolina Welcome Center. We hope you enjoy your stay in the Palmetto State.
Oh, and if you find yourself having an original or rational thought, please follow your map to some other heathen state. We don't want your carpet-bagging ass, anyway.<-- Hide More
About every two days my wife looks at me and says, "Where'd you go?"
My eyes have drifted off. They might be pointed at a billboard or a eatery menu. A few people know the look, though. It's blank, hollow, and could be 100 yards deep. She knows as well as I do that I'm not looking at anything tangible.
"I'm here," I'll respond.
"Bullshit." She says it in a way that is neither mean, nor condescending. It's a matter of fact statement because, it is, in fact, a matter of fact.More in this Poker Blog! -->
"Everything and nothing?" she'll ask, not even needing to ask the question.
"Yep." That's me, conceding my mind is working overtime on absolutlely everything and absolutely nothing at the same time.
"Okay." She understands. She gets that way sometimes, too. Although, she rarely gets the tell-tale 100-yard stare.
And that's about how it goes. I paralyze myself in an empty stare as my mind works like one of those rock polishers you had when you were a kid.
You know the ones. You find an old rock in the yard, put it in the tumbler for an inordinate amount of time, and it comes out looking like something you might buy at a hippy bead shop.
Something in my head tells me that I'm on the cusp of actually polishing a rock or two. I have some unexplianable sense of optimism. It may just be because life couldn't be much more confusing, so optimism seems to be the best course of action. Regardless, I have some faith that everything is going to turn out okay.
However, with that in mind, I'm developing that empty look more and more these days. I'm rock-polishing like nobody's business.
That's probably the reason for the infrequent posts here. I'm not really focused on the mundane, and everyone has tired of my noodling on the indecision of 30-somethingness.
That all said, I'm about to take a brief hiatus from writing, both here and on my main blog Rapid Eye Reality.
My to-do list has grown massive and I have more than a lot to do in the next two weeks in preparation for kid stuff, Bradoween, the Bradoween Open, current work stuff, possibly future work stuff, and a sideline writing project.
I'll be back in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, feel free to assault me with comments in the comments section. It lets me know you're all still out there while I'm staring at the menu and wondering whether I want the hot roast beef or a club sandwich.<-- Hide More
As I stretched out on my couch after the drive home, I closed my eyes and could still hear the casino in my head. The sounds are addictive. I wanted to jump in my car and drive back to The Paragon. Instead, I reminisced about Mrs. Beautiful.
Lunch was good. Not as good as the lobster tail dinner, but good enough to get me itching to gamble again. I headed back to the casino floor with a purpose. Apparently, the casino didn't understand my purpose because things quickly went awry...More in this Poker Blog! -->
I know how to play Blackjack. I know the game. I've played it and played it well. It's not that hard. There are times when you hit and times when you stand. Sometimes you split, other times you double down. And every now and then, you're supposed to get Blackjack.
Apparently the Blackjack gods hate me. I never saw a Blackjack. Every time I doubled down, the dealer managed four and five card 20's and 21's.
It was time to swear off Blackjack.
Instead, I was lured to the fool's gold of a Three Card Poker table. I had my initial $80 profit running through my head, while conveniently forgetting I had given it all back.
I sat down with what seemed like a Shriner's convention, and plunked a hundred dollar bill on the felt.
It wasn't a blur this time. I remember it all happening. It was like slow motion. A brutal slow motion, like when Rocky punched Drago in slow motion and sent him to the mat. I was Drago.
I didn't see a single pair or better. One guy at the table got dealt three flushes in a row. I wish I had been in his seat. Instead, my $100 was gone in just minutes. I ran from the table.
Apparently the tables just weren't going to work for me, so I headed back to the nickel slots. At least I had won money there.
I sought out that crazy Pyramid game again hoping to see the same luck as last time. I slid two $20 bills into the slot and started playing my 800 credits. 785... 770... 755... 400... 385... 370... 100... 85...
It didn't take long before it was gone. The funky pyramids didn't show up this time and I was becoming rather deflated. This trip to the casino was turning out a lot worse than I had envisioned.
I slid over to the next nickel slot machine and put another $40 inside. It was some kind of spelling bee game. I remembered that I hate bees soon after that $40 was gone.
Why do I even play slots? I've said countless times that I hate slots. In just 10 minutes or so, I had given back everything I made at the slots the day before, and then some.
I didn't really come to lose my $500. The only reason I brought that much was so I could take a legitimate bankroll to the poker table. Since the poker room was closed, I was stuck giving my money away to the casino.
I had already lost $300 and figured I should probably just head home.
Then I saw her.
She was stunning.
I was drawn to her, and that led me to the Roulette wheel. Her shimmering smile and bottomless blue eyes helped me forget the huge house edge I was facing.
I bought in for $100 and hoped for the best. I apparently wasn't the only man drawn to the roulette table, but most others merely stopped at the other end from Mrs. Beautiful and stared. Her plunging neckline made for an inviting sight every time she stretched to bet on the number 10.
I began my routine, playing the number 17 and surrounding it. That was a $9 bet every time the wheel spun, and a total of 11 spins if the numbers 13-21 failed to hit.
For awhile that looked to be the case. Even Mrs. Beautiful was having a rough time of it. She busted out and for a moment, I feared she was going to leave. Instead she pulled out another $20 and started again. It was a good thing she did because Mrs. Beautiful suddenly turned into Lady Luck.
It didn't take long before Mrs. Beautiful had every baby blue chip in front of her. The luck didn't spread to me, however, and I was getting close to busting out.
Then it happened. Mrs. Beautiful stretched across the table and placed one of her chips on 17. I laid out my 9 chips and decided to put an extra chip on top of 17. I knew, I just knew my luck was about to change.
The little white ball began it's trip around the wheel and started bouncing from number to number before finally settling in a spot it hadn't settled in since I sat down... 17 black.
"It's about time!" I said, then I turned to Mrs. Beautiful, "Thanks for changing my luck."
"Oh, you're welcome. I'm just glad you finally hit," she smiled.
The wheel man slid me 100 orange roulette chips and then 70 in casino chips.
I slid a $5 chip down to Mrs. Beautiful, "I figure I wouldn't have hit that without your bet."
"Thanks!" she was surprised. I'm not sure how often people tip other players at the table.
Things just got better from there. A few spins later, 17 hit again, this time for a haul of 135. Unfortunately, Mrs. Beautiful had to go and when she left the table, I stopped hitting. In fact, when she left the table, everyone stopped hitting.
I walked away from the wheel with a $50 profit. That's not much in the grand scheme, but I was down to almost nothing when I made my comeback, and I have Mrs. Beautiful to thank for that!
Half my money was gone. But I was actually feeling a lot better after my turn on the wheel. It made sense to walk away at this point. If I stopped anywhere else and lost, I'd feel terrible.
As I headed toward the exit, I had to pass the Craps table. The Wizard of Odds says, "Craps can be an intimidating game for the beginner." That's why I've never actually played. I know how to play (thanks to Hoyle Casino), but I've always been intimidated by the pace of play. Craps is fast.
As I stopped to watch, a player told me, "If you're walking into a casino, you're playing craps, or you might as well go home." He's right. No game in a casino has a lower house edge than craps.
In fact, the Paragon features 10X odds, and that means the house edge is just 0.184%. I hadn't cashed in my $150 in chips from roulette and thought, "What the hell?"
I took my chips and got ready to play.
The Wizard of Odds also gives this advice, "If you are playing for the first time don't announce this if you are male. Male virgins to the game are said to be unlucky, and the opposite for females. This is evidently because virginity is despised in men and valued in women." I made no such announcement and placed my $5 chip on the pass line.
It was a blur. But this is one of the greatest blurs I've ever been a part of. I was betting the pass and the come and playing 4, 5, 6, sometimes 10 times odds.
They were throwing red and green chips at me faster than I could put them in my tray. I love craps!!!
Before I knew it, I had more than $400 in chips in front of me, and combined with the five $20 bills in my pocket, I was actually up for the trip.
As the dice turned cold, I got myself back down to $300 in chips and knew it was time to walk away. Less than an hour earlier, I was two roulette spins from walking away with just $100. Now I was walking out of there with $400.
It's one of those trips where you lose money but walk away feeling like a winner. In fact, combined with the free room ($65), free dinner ($50), and free breakfast and lunch buffets ($20), I actually came out ahead.
I can't wait to get back to the Paragon to experience their poker room for the first time and to throw those dice again.
As I left the casino, I took a deep breath and smiled. I love to gamble.<-- Hide More
As I drove home, I wondered how it all had happened. I had a plan when I left early Tuesday morning. Swirl was in a kennel, I didn't have to think about work for two days, and my $500 already felt like it wanted to be $1000. The best laid plans...?
I didn't watch much of the news. In fact, I watched more ESPN than anything else. I was restless. I kept going over in my head how I had lost $100 without even trying. I started gambling at about 12:30 and after just 2 1/2 hours, I was wondering if I should turn around and go home.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Then my stomach growled and I remembered I had a free dinner at 7pm. I had about an hour to kill and took the long walk back to the casino.
First stop, the Slot Machines.
I once saw my Mom hit a jackpot on a "Wheel of Fortune" machine, and my brother's favorite casino sound is when that particluar slot spins the big wheel. I sat down and slid a $20 bill into the slot. I had 80 credits and a pocket full of hope.
Have I ever told you I don't like slots? I just don't get them. What's the appeal? I kept betting 3 credits and watched my total quickly diminish. I was barely catching anything to keep me alive. Then it happened...
A smile crept slowly across my face. My first smile of the trip, I think. I slowly pushed the "Spin" button and watched the wheel go round and round. Hmmm... looks like it's headed right for that 1000 credit spot. That would sure help the bankroll! Click... click... click... stop. Hmmm... right beside that 1000 credit spot, for a measly 25 credits. That's $6.25. I was rich.
It didn't take long for it all to disappear. I think I'll leave Wheel of Fortune to the rest of the family.
I checked my pockets to see if there were any holes. As quickly as I showed my $20 bill to the casino, it disappeared into their ever-growing coffers.
I figured the nickel slots might at least slow the pace. I picked one with mummies and pyramids all over it. I'm not sure what it was called, and frankly, I'm not sure what I needed to get to win. At this point, none of that mattered.
I pumped in another 20 bucks and played 5 of the 10 lines at 3 credits each (you could play up to 10 credits). After a few spins, I was actually up a hundred or so credits. Then I hit some kind of special spin. Weird sounds and funky animation led to 18 free spins. And anything I won on this spins was multiplied by 10. I don't know what came up, but suddently, my 400 credits zoomed past 2400.
I played a little while longer until I got back down to 2000 and cashed out my $100.
I was back close to even, and feeling pretty good about that. It pained me that the only thing I could win on so far was the nickel slots, but a win's a win, I guess.
It was getting close to my 7pm dinner reservation, but on the way to the steak house, I noticed the Pai Gow Poker table had finally opened up. I have many, many, many fine memories from the Pai Gow tables at the Barbary Coast, and just couldn't pass this up.
Even with Dott dealing, I plunked down $60. I didn't have time to spend $60 before dinner, but it feels good to have that many chips in my hand. 15 minutes later, I was still even and it was dinner time. I told Dott I'd be back. She didn't laugh maniacally this time.
Dinner was comped, and it was spectacular. Lobster tail and filet mignon with garlic mashed potatoes and bread pudding for dessert. Two complimentary drinks from the bar were just icing on the cake. It's the first time I've ever had lobster, and it was great. When they brought the $50 check, I handed over a litle "free dinner" ticket and left a tip.
With my stomach full, I made my way back to the Pai Gow table to find my favorite dealer slinging cards.
I pulled out five $20 bills, "You gonna treat me right again?" I asked Natasha.
"I'll do my best," she responded with a smile. I don't think she actually remembered me, but that's okay.
I was soon joined at the table by three women (two of whom had never played before) and a chubby man with thinning white hair. Chubby was accompanied by a man we'll call "The Cooler."
Things were going as poorly here as they had gone everywhere else so I decided to change my luck by being the "Bank." That meant everyone else at the table was playing against me. The hand ended up being a wash (I paid 50 cents commission), but it worked.
The run had started and I was suddenly up. It's the first time I topped $500 since the gambling began. I felt bad for Chubby, however, because his stack was quickly disappearing. It's remarkable, really, because Pai Gow is a game in which it usually takes awhile to lose money.
Chubby finally convinced his friend to take a walk around the casino to see if that would change his luck. He promptly won the next 10 hands. It's one of the most amazing things I've seen. "The Cooler" should offer his services to the casino because he's just bad luck.
It was approaching midnight and I had to be at a "media celebration" event at 9 the next morning. I wanted to keep gambling, but I also needed some sleep (am I getting old?).
I was sitting at $110 in chips with a couple of quarters in front of me. I decided to play one more hand and make a bet for Natasha.
"Do you want me to bet it on my hand or bet on this empty hand," I asked her.
She paused, "Well, if you bet the extra hand, you'll have to pay the commission on it. For a dealer bet, there's no commission."
So I put both bets on my hand. That was a bad idea. I got Pai Gow and the empty hand was dealt three pairs (Natasha peeked). Thankfully, a straight in the dealer's hand forced her to put 10-3 in her second hand and I pushed.
"Okay, Natasha, one more try. My hand or the empty hand?"
She paused again, "Well... it's your decision," she said coyly, then added, "But I'm feeling that empty hand."
That was good news for her, because I got dealt another terrible hand, and she got Aces and Jacks. The dealer hand couldn't match that so Natasha pulled in her 10$ tip and I tossed in the quarter commission. She smiled and thanked me and I wished the rest of the table luck and headed to bed.
The next morning featured team competitions for the media members in attendance. There was a three hole mini-putt competition set up on the practice green at the casino's gorgeous golf course (I got a 12, it was ugly).
Next was a slots tournament. We got 7 minutes to hit that spin button as many times as we could. My arm quickly tired, but at the end my 4810 credits were enough to win a nice Paragon Casino golf shirt.
Finally, we had a five hand blackjack tournament. We started with 100T and could bet a maximum of 20T per hand. I finished with 60T. The three other players at my table finished at 100T, 80T and 0T. The other table fared much better with two players topping 200T.
I was hoping that was it so I could get back to real gambling, but there was a tour of the reservation and RV park that just about put me to sleep and then the "awards" ceremony. When it was all mercifully over, I headed to the buffet for my complimentary lunch.
Then it was back to the tables with my $480 just waiting to turn into hundreds more!<-- Hide More
As I left the casino, I took a deep breath. It felt like I had just gotten there, yet I was exhuasted. And if I waited any longer to leave, I'm sure I would fall asleep at the wheel... and it's a drive you don't want to fall asleep on...
The drive was relatively short, just over an hour, but it winded through some small Louisiana towns I've never seen before and wouldn't be comfortable stopping in. Soon enough, the flashing sign welcomed me to the Paragon Casino.
It was my "free" casino holiday visit, and I was planning to make the most of it. I had a $500 bankroll in my pocket and visions of check-raises dancing in my head.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I checked into my complimentary hotel room (remember, it was Media Celebration time), and found it to be a little too far from the elevator. Of course, I wouldn't be spending much time in the room unless things went very poorly.
There was a press conference at 2:00 and a quick check of the cell phone told me I had an hour and a half to gamble before then. I took a quick tour of the casino floor and caught a glimpse of the poker room, the modest table games section and countless slot machines ranging from $.02 to $5.
I sat down at the first $5 Blackjack table I could find and laid out five crisp $20 bills. With a stack of red chips in my hand, I was ready to make a quick profit.
It was a blur. I can't really remember what happened, but minutes later, I was already down $100.
I stood up from the table and staggered. I was wounded. There was probably a cut above my left eye because my vision was blurry. I wasn't sure if I needed a stiff drink or an ice pack.
I still had plenty of time until the press conference and 20 more $20 bills that obviously wanted to be with their recently departed friends. This led me to the Three Card Poker table. I know, "Three Card Poker!?!?!?!?!?" you ask. I'm sorry, but I didn't have complete control of my faculties at this point.
I laid out another five $20 bills and got my second stack of red chips. I opened my betting by playing like it was Let It Ride, laying out three chips.
"You wanna play blind," the pretty young dealer asked.
"Um..." I looked at her name tag, "Natasha, I don't think I want to play blind."
"Then save that third bet until you see your hand."
Ah... it was starting to come back to me. Now that I was sitting, the blood was flowing back to my brain... or maybe it was just my face due to the embarrassment.
"That's okay," the cowboy two seats to my left said, "it don't matter how you play, she's killer with the cards." It was just Tex and I at the table, and I thanked him for the warning.
The first hand was bad, maybe a 10 high, and I just threw it away. In Three Card Poker, you bet an optional "Pair Plus" and the "Ante." If you want to play against the dealer after seeing your hand, you bet the "Play."
The second hand, I decided not to bet "Pair Plus," figuring I was just throwing money away at this table anyway.
"You sure you don't wanna bet that, hun?" Natasha asked.
Hmmmm, I love being called "hun." But I still couldn't quite remember this game, "Nah, I think I'll ease into it."
The three cards were just as bad and I threw them away again. Tex caught a three card flush, however, and I realized why you bet that "Pair Plus," it's the only way to make real money. The flush paid off 4-1.
Soon I caught a pair, then a flush a few hands later. I decided to press the "Pair Plus" bet up to $10 and I caught a straight (paying off 6-1). Things were suddenly looking up, and I found myself back to even. When things turned cold again I decided it was time to take a break. I was still smarting from that Blackjack run, so I tossed Natasha a $5 chip and a "Thanks," and found myself down just $20 overall.
Then I began the long trip back to the hotel room. Something didn't fell right, and I didn't want to lose my stash before I even had a chance to settle in. I watched a little French Open coverage and then headed to the news conference.
Long story short, the Paragon wants to build a water park, blah, blah, blah.
One hour later, I wanted to gamble again. I did just enough glad-handing that I can probably stay free there anytime I want (sometimes it's good to be a news director).
I thought, "How 'bout that Three Card Poker?" When I got back to the table, Tex and Natasha were both gone (I doubt they left together), and a stout woman named Dott was dealing to a few men worn with time.
I pulled out the $80 in chips from my pocket and got back to work.
It was a blur. I vaguely remember saying, "Shouldn't I at least get a pair just once?" To which Dott laughed... slightly maniacally and I, for a moment, imagined her with green skin and a big wart on her nose... "I'll get you my pretty and your little chips, too!"
I couldn't take it on the floor anymore. As I got up, I asked Dott when the poker room opens. Her answer tore my heart out. Then she stepped on my heart and poured some acid over it for good measure. "It's closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays because those are our slowest days," she said.
Great. I'm here for two days, and those are the only two days the poker room is closed. I remembered I'm a really bad gambler when the house has the edge, and that's every game in the house.
I limped back to my hotel room. Literally. It was a long walk, and my shoes were digging into my right heel. This was the second walk. [Flashback: I wrote, "I checked into my complimentary hotel room, and found it to be a little too far from the elevator. Of course, I wouldn't be spending much time in the room unless things went very poorly.]
I decided I'd catch the news and lick my wounds before trying a little more gambling before dinner. My only comfort to this point is the fact my room was free ($75 value) and I had a free dinner ahead of me. But why couldn't the poker room be open?!?
Stay tuned for Pt. 2 of Cold Cards, Hot Dice and Mrs. Beautiful<-- Hide More
Sunday, February 22, 2004 at 9pm eastern time.
It's the online poker event of the century.
It's the Grublog Poker Classic.
The Poker Grub has set up the first sanctioned poker blogger tourney in online poker history. Only poker bloggers are allowed, and since there are so many of you out there, it's time to get on board!More in this Poker Blog! -->
If you're interested, just click on the link above. We've already got at least 10 distinguished players registered including:
grubby (our host) from Poker Grub
Iggy from Guinness and Poker
FeliciaLee from the Felicia Lee Yahoo Journal
loveandcasinowar from love and casino war
anisotropy from Ansiotropy
HDouble from The Cards Speak
Mean Gene from Mean Gene's PokerBlog
Royal from Royal Poker
thefatguy from The Fat Guy
UpForPoker (that's me!)
With a lineup like that, it's sure to be a clash of the titans. Hopefully I'll be able to hold my own, but I do have my doubts. I better hit the tables as much as possible next week to get myself ready! Now it's your turn. Get on board!!<-- Hide More
In retrospect, it was probably the slightly homoerotic come-on that piqued my interest.
"You should come see me," was the call.
I'm not gay and even if I was, the grizzled black man with funny-looking teeth probably wouldn't have stirred my loins. However, as I walked toward the bathroom for the second time, the man said the words quietly.
"You should come see me."
As I drained the by-product of several beers and several more greyhounds, I decided I would indeed stop by to see the old man.More in this Poker Blog! -->
He was a shoeshine man of the first order. He buffed his first shoe on the streets of New Orleans and eventually made his way to Vegas, working the graveyard shift next to the men's room at the Luxor hotel and casino.
"I love this color shoe," he said. "It takes a real good shine."
As I sat and watched him slowly clean my shoes, working carefully on the scuffs, I began to reflect on the last 72 hours.
It began with a mad dash to a poker room. My poker jones had been itching for months. It needed caressing more than my body needed food. My stomach was thankful for the five-dollar hotdog and soda I bought seven hours later with a comp from the poker room manager. After seven hours of play, I was down a dollar, but plus five in comps.
Twenty minutes later I had avoided a much-needed shower in favor of a whore bath (wet hair, brush teeth, re-apply deodorant, splash on some aftershave), and met my friends for an $8 drink at the MGM Grand.
We walked aimlessly for an hour before standing in front of the Bellagio's water show. Sinatra sang "Luck Be A Lady" as water cannons shot white-lit streams a hundred feet in the air. It was then I realized that sleep deprivation can be better than any drug.
We sought out an old haunt, The Barbary Coast, in search of cheap Pai Gow Poker tables. Only finding $10 minimums, I spoke briefly to a pit boss. I'll admit I found myself feeling mildly powerful when the boss told us to sit down and he'd get a $5 game going for us. In the end, it didn't matter. By 2am I was betting $20 a hand. By 5am I had lost $150. The pit boss comped us breakfast. I ended the night down $151, but full of t-bone steak and eggs and up $20 in comps.
The night brought little sleep, but a new day in which I would win $150 playing poker and $10 more in comps. Still down a dollar, and after 13 hours of playing poker, I bought myself a slice of pizza at 2am. Besides three olives at 2pm, I hadn't eaten all day.
The New York New York offered $10 Pai Gow and the best dealers in town. When my terminally drunk buddy, Joey , tried to play a breath mint for the dealer, she barely blinked. When Joey started flirting, she responded with, "What did you slur?"
I lost another fifty bucks, but the dealers made it worth it.
Again, a basically sleepless night leading to another day of poker playing. This day in the poker room was mundane and barely worth mentioning. I spent my previous day's comps on a buffet lunch, then later bought myself a reuben sandwich.
The final night of Pai Gow was actually profitable. I cleared $100 playing at a $5 table.
It was in the middle of that game that I stopped by the shoeshine stand and got a good shine on my shoes.
As I stood up, admiring the new shine, I threw a $10 bill to the guy who had just massaged my leather.
I can't remember if I mentioned to him that I had only paid $30 for the shoes.<-- Hide More
One of two Americans at the table had just hit his 15 against the dealer's four. The crazy, half-inebriated Russians at the table eyed him like he was an incapacitated Stalin. The dealer dropped a five giving the stupid American a 20. Stupid American looked happy. Otis, the other American, groaned through a Russian woman's skinny cigarette smoke.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Otis--that's me--hates when ignorant players are rewarded with luck. The Russians felt much the same way when the dealer eventually dealt himself a 19, beating everyone at the table but stupid American.
Dateline--Aruba, The Excelsior Casino.
It was the smallest casino I had ever been in. A few blackjack tables. A three-card poker table. A poker room with limits too high for my bankroll. And a Let It Ride table where every five minutes a man would get up, dance around, and scream something in a foreign language, while pointing toward my blackjack dealer.
I was up about 30 dollars and trying not to think about the dealer reshuffling the five-deck shoe every time 52 cards had been dealt out. The Russian woman two to my right was drinking straight vodka, smoking long, thin cigarettes, and wearing a revealing open-chested shirt. Her double-down luck had been failing her, but the aura off her chest seemed to be helping me.
It was about the time the guy at the Let it Ride table screamed for the fifth time that the dealer began dealing himself three sevens on a fairly regualr basis. I started to lose quickly. It got worse when the Russian woman left. I stood up with my free Balashi beer and wondered where I was.
I had booked the Aruba trip as a vacation with dual purpose. It gave my wife the enjoyment of the beach. It offered me a poker room. Weeks of research offered me conflicting reports. Otis of the Small Bankroll couldn't play poker at anything more than a $5/$10 table. It was an embarassing fact. With a wife, a mortgage, and no Russian woman to buttress my luck, playing the $15/$30 game was beyond my range. I became a sad-faced railbird.
And so Otis' Aruban Adventure became a practice in bankroll maintenance. I knew that in three weeks I'd be sitting in a Vegas poker room with four days to play. I knew that there I could play a game within my limited means.
Over the course of the next three nights, each trip from the beach bar to the indoor restroom would involved a quick walk-through of the casino. I willed myself to not even stop along the poker room rail. But each time I did. I'd watch a few hands, watch the loose players call with nothing, and wish I was sitting there paying for my vacation.
Now I'm in the market for a well-endowed Russian to accompany me to Vegas in two weeks. Please forward all inquiries to the moderator. Better yet, send them by Mt. Willis for an interview.<-- Hide More