Poker Cats

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Internet poker lunch

DECATUR, Ga. -- After sleeping for maybe five hours, I woke up this afternoon to the sound of workers trying to pull a large tree off the roof of my old apartment building.

I scrambled out of bed, not wanting to find out if the workers could put a bad beat on me by having a large, old tree trunk crashing down on my window.

Anyway, I'm here now in Decatur Square at Raging Burrito, enjoying the rest of my day.

It's a working lunch, as I'm playing NL400 on the WP. Since there aren't a gazillion players at the Web site, playing at tables there has a Big Game feel -- I recognize nearly all of the regular players now and it seems like it's just a matter of removing newcomers of all their money.

And it seems like it happens quite often.

"I just want to warn you, I'm crazy," one player who I haven't recognized before says.

He goes all in on a table of about seven limpers. The small blind, a regular, calls with QQ for $219.

Mr. Crazy has AKo. The regular, already slightly ahead, immediately flops a set and Mr. Crazy disappears to wherever toasters with limited ammo go.

"Truth in advertising," Kurokitty says out to the table.

All around, you can almost see the regulars nod.

Ready for the Tour

It's totally dark down my street as I race down the quarter-mile hill on my way to work at 11:15 p.m., my single Cat Eye headlight making a halogen arc on the canopy of trees that whiz by.

Even at full speed down a hill, my Trek performance hybrid still has enough to allow me to pedal down it. It's one of those things where you'd be completely toast if you impacted anything but amazing to ride fast down a long hill.

When I approach Atlanta's famous Peachtree Street downtown, I wonder what it would be like to just take rides like this in the middle of the night for pleasure and not because I'm racing the clock trying not to be late for work?

I've been doing this more and more. Being on the graveyard shift and two previous days of doing nothing but burning casino bonuses made me feel like I hadn't gotten any exercise for a while.

With two months of commutes behind me, I've finally gotten my road legs and it's totally fun to tear apart hills and go straight down them. I like that I've gotten used to Atlanta's heat, although there are times at stoplights when I'll unclip my chin strap or completely take off the helmet.

There's plenty to be excited about -- it's that time of year when the WSOP gets going and the Tour de France is nearly upon us.

I try to imagine after watching Negreanu's video blog and hearing him say that it's 110 degrees in Las Vegas what that would be like. Today I've been on the Trek bikes Web site, looking at all the wicked road bikes -- the Tour-ready Trek Madone SSLx costs only a penny less than the buy-in for the WSOP Main Event.

I drool over the new patterns of the pro Giro Atmos helmets -- the two-year-old one I have is fire engine red. These are two-tone, in colors of Lance Armstrong's former Discovery Channel Team and special "Lone Star" patterns in honor of Armstrong.

With car payments to make and only so many casino bonuses to make them with (lol), I won't say that I'm looking for an even faster rocket to work. But I think about it nearly every day.

Cycling really gives me a similar feeling to playing NL. First, it's single buy-in. All of your chips are on the line every day. There are no anti-lock brakes, no front and side-curtain airbags. It's just you and one wrong move means you're toast.

I like the freedom and creativity that you get while riding that helps in your decision-making. You learn how to be selectively-aggressive riding, how to read traffic patterns and plan for a ride. I love it when my urban routes turn off-road, hopping curbs and turning grassy lots into part of your ride.

Like in poker, I may never make it to the pro levvel, but riding as hard and as well as I can is satisfaction enough.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Seeing the world via autoplay

I'm here at work, slugging it away on the first of two nights in the graveyard box training a new worker.

Meanwhile, my computer at home is crunching through the remains of a $12,000 WR on autoplay at Mummy's Gold Casino, all on French Roulette.

I don't even know what French Roulette is. But it has a house advantage of 1.33 percent or so, the lowest house edge that can be realistically used to clear the bonus. (Because of the proliferation of casino whoring, blackjack is not allowed as much anymore to be the primary way you can burn a casino bonus. At Mummy's, classic blackjack can only be used to burn 2 percent of your bonus).

This weekend has been great -- I've burned my way through lots of casino bonuses. Finished another autoplay at Roxy Casino using Casino War. I've never played casino war ever, but it looks simple enough.

I followed Scurvy's advice with the Mummy's Gold Casino's one hour of $500 free play and ended up doing that at the same time as Casino Classic's one hour of $500 free play on my other computer.

At first I kind of freaked out since I wasn't exactly sure if I'd have enough time to bet 100 bets while going back and forth. But I finally caught a rhythm. Mummy's Gold doesn't seem to have the betting restrictions that Casino Classic does for the free play. I made my $200 bonus at Mummy's using multi-hand blackjack.

At Casino Classic it was a little more difficult, as the betting limits were only $2 or so for multi-hand blackjack. So as time dwindled, I was looking for things that would allow me to bet more and more -- high-limit blackjack, which only allowed me to bet $20 for a single hand, and eventually a hail mary at the roulette wheel. I managed to bust out of all my free chips there. (You still get a $20 bonus if you bust out of the play chips).

If I had to do it over again, I'd do a little more planning for which games to play when I needed to gamble it up more.

But I can't complain. These bonuses are fantastic. Not sure what my end result on the French Roulette will be at Mummy's, but I quickly built my $200 bonus plus $50 deposit into $300. I then went to the blackjack tables and bet 5 hands at a time $10/bet, nearly lost my entire stake and then built up to $350, which I brought back to the French Roulette autoplay.

When I left, I had about $6,500 of $1 bets to go and I was up to $380. I should end up cashing between $170 and $220.

Not bad for not doing anything at all.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

In the kitchen

So it's a typical Sunday evening, I'm settling in, making up a bunch of spaghetti because of an odd craving I have for it right now and intermittently clearing a blackjack bonus at Sports InterAction Casino.

All around me, of course, are the telltale signs of my gambling life. A small ticket stub peeks out under a refrigerator magnet -- North Carolina vs. Georgia Tech basketball, Feb. 10, 2004.

Basking in the glow of a home game ruckbox heater, I appealed to the gambling instincts of a scalper outside the Tech stadium and got $50 knocked off the price of the ticket from the flip of a coin. If Mark and I lost the coin toss, we would have paid $50 more.

But like Arieh at the 2004 WSOP Main Event, it was never in doubt. We paid the discounted price and went through the door.

On my window ledge next to my sink are about a dozen Las Vegas-issue cocktail glasses waiting to be washed. The small ones are from Binion's and the Excalibur. A tall cylindrical one, like Atlanta's Westin Hotel tower, is from bally's. The best ones are the tall tapering glasses straight from the Bellagio, Kitty Stadium.

I'm not really such a klepto but parental influences are the worst of all, aren't they? My dad has a whole shelf at home of glass coffee mugs, gleaned from downtown Vegas casinos on various trips. When I picked out Doug and his wife Carolina's wedding present from Crate & Barrel two years ago, I found one of those glass coffee mugs and bought one for use at work, just as a reminder.

I love it though, when I'm at my desk at home, playing on my two computers, and I reach over and take a sip of Diet Coke from one of the glasses. Makes me feel like I'm there.

After hearing about Mark's great experience playing $2/5 NL at the Hustler in L.A. the other day, I was really tempted to point my new car in the direction of Tunica. The Gold Strike tournament series is going on and I can't think of anything more sweet than playing toasters for their tournament lives.

But then a thousand "but's" came along -- I woke up too late, bad weather in the form of much needed rain finally fell down up on the Atlanta area, my car cover was all soaked -- so I just settled in to play. After all, more than 13 hours of driving time to and from could be used for more profitable ways.

And as if on cue, I get reraised by an utg raiser to $80 in the WP's NL400 when I'm sitting on AA in the sb. I'm all in and before you know it, I take down a $772 pot thanks to a toaster's love of QQ.

I know many of the games on that site are super-tight. This may be the fishiest game there.

And why go anywhere? Why not stay in the kitchen, making spaghetti, taking down pots with Clonie ever so watchful at my feet?

It's not entirely me, the traveling cat, but I'm getting used to it.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Crazy 8s

So it's heads-up and out comes my sapphire blue 10-sided die that I recently found in a bag of dice from old role-playing games.

I give it a roll. Out comes an 8.

I raise it up in the small blind with xx. The opponent folds.

Maybe it's just a parlor trick but during my recent run at the PokerStars bonus, I began using the 10-sided die to help randomize my pre-flop raises. I guess it's sort of like Andy Beal having a buzzer in his shoe. No one can see me at my desk, so I'm free to increase my pre-flop raising percentage by a roll of the dice.

Heads-up I would:

1). Raise with playable cards
2). Raise whenever an "8" was in my hand (this is a variant of my randomization of full-ring NL play -- I'll frequently raise whenever I get 83o, from any position).
3). Raise when the die rolls an 8.

Many times opponents just fold, maybe having previously observed my play when it was full ring and shorthanded. Of course, if I get raised or re-raised I don't have to call with my 82o.

In any event, it was a good way to end the bonus. I cashed in 34 of 67 SNGs, for slightly more than half of the time and a pretty good profit.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Still plugging away

The experiment continues to be profitable. Cashed in 31 of 60 SNGs (6 1st, 15 2nd and 10 3rd) so far. Only have about 65 Frequent Player Points to burn before the bonus.

I feel like I wouldn't have been able to do this last year.

Yay!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Fantastic fives

Opponent: kurokitty, are you male or female?
Kurokitty: male (sorry)
Opponent: Good. Because I would hate to get beaten by a woman.
-$20+2 SNG, PokerStars


So I played five more SNGs at the same time last night, getting heads-up in four of those and winning two of them. All while fielding IMs from Kelley, who was saying 'What are you doing?'

Girls are so neg-EV. Just kidding.

I liked the fast air traffic control-pace. I wasn't able to focus and worry a lot about particular tables or hands, so I just made a bet and ran with it. One time, I reraised a guy all-in by betting 7000. LOL. I meant 700! He quickly folded.

One table I was down to 1,000 chips and the other guy had an 11K advantage. I turned the tables on him but lost in the end.

It's amazing to me how impatient people are in their heads-up play. They'll go all-in with a good hand and want you to follow, just to get it over with. Or call you just the same.

No, thanks. When I get my chips all-in it'll be for a good reason.

Twice I broke the back of people who finally waited for KK to raise pre-flop. I called them all-in with A3 and A4 respectively and flopped aces both times.

Anyway, the experiment continues to be profitable (13 cashes of 23 SNGs, 5 1sts and 6 2nds). Yay!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Somebody get kitty

york11yanks said, "9 fuqin lives"
-PokerStars Hand History, $10+1 SNG 6/20/06


I think I've found the new blackjack -- SNGs.

Remembering a previous Scurvy post in which he cleared a PokerStars bonus through SNGs, I delved into them the last two days. I've played everything from $10+1s to the $50+5.

I feel my record so far is decent -- nine cashes in 18 SNGs (1st: 3, 2nd: 4 and 3rd: 2)

I feel like I might be on to something. Sometimes it's a grind to play cash games all the time. I've been playing five SNGs at a time, playing conservatively until it becomes a gambofest and then not worrying about whether I may have the worst hand.

When I play SNGs, I sort of think about the live SNGs they have at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa, Fla., and the 2+2 advice -- let the toasters knock themselves out of the money and then play.

Three times in the last two days I've had Punk Hands of the Day -- a hand in which you pull victory from the jaws of defeat. All three of those times have dealt with 2-outer sets on the turn or river to win.

My last SNG -- a $10+1 -- I came from behind with 400 chips to win. The cat could not stand to lose!

I'm finding that in nearly every case, players are very weak in shorthanded play and then even weaker when it gets heads-up -- I've found very few toasters pre-flop raising, instead they try to get by with many limps. So stealing blinds and flops is soooo easy.

It's difficult to find the right (toaster-rich) cash games to burn the 'Stars bonus so I may have to play these for a while.

Who knows? Maybe I'll become a "tournament specialist." LOL. That'll never happen.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Return of the Dougbot

So I pick up Kelley from the airport at a little after 1 p.m., plenty of time to make it for the 4 p.m. Blogger tourney, right? Wrong.

After making the OTP journey back from dropping her off at her parents' old house so they could put a few finishing touches on it before closing it out, I switched on PokerStars, only to find that the stupid thing wanted to upgrade in two parts.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Finally, I got logged in and to my table. I was down about 60 chips, having been blinded down the first 10 minutes of play.

But I was starving, so I switched over the helm to Doug, aka the Dougbot, who made me a ton of money on the WP one afternoon as I was four-tabling $5/10 limit.

I went to get something to eat.

But kittyluck made a turn for the worse, kuro's QQ got snapped off by AJ on the turn and his last hand was AT vs 77, which held up. It wasn't the Dougbot's fault, though. Using pure Phil Jackson strategy, I kept the Dougbot in until the very end.

Just like that, cat was out in 1,000th place or so. Prizes only went to 54 of the nearly 2,500 players, so it wasn't likely I would have won anything. I'd much rather the Dougbot's luck turn for the worse when nothing was at stake.

I did joke that Mark's luck would have him at 10th place -- the prize being having to play Wil Wheaton heads-up. Although Mark also bounced out, having him play Wil heads-up would be a fun thing to see during the blogger's weekend, wouldn't it? Wouldn't it? LOLOLOL

I heard that Vic and Ryan did really well, though! Way to go!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Continuation

So I'm stting here at work, watching the United States play Italy on two screens in our newsroom.

One is an Italian channel that Giovanna turned it to and the other is ABC, which has a longer time delay than the Italian channel so I'm watching the one and listening to the English broadcast on the other.

Giovanna, whose shift has long since finished, is off to the side of the newsroom, saying something that sounds a lot like "Die, die, die."

I have more of a Phil Jackson kind of approach, showing little emotion, although I can't help little outbursts when U.S. goalie Kasey Keller makes some really nice saves.

"It's horrible. Horrible," she says as the match ends in a 1-1 tie. "Italy scored two goals, one was for the other team."

"Sometimes you get chicken and sometimes you get feathers," I say with glee. I can use that phrase for the rest of my life. LOL

Today, flush with days of experience cleaning and packing up things at Kelley's parents house, I turned toward my own apartment. I must have thrown out ten boxes of things and relegated three more to my basement storage closet.

Cleaning up is a lot like the end stage of a tournament when your M<5 -- there's no reason to keep waiting for that perfect situation when you'll actually use that stack of papers or go through those old magazines. You just throw it away.

Early this morning, during a cigarette break at Drew's game, Brandie was talking about how guys are messy but she said that I, who was meticulously tending to two sucky room tables and one Be the Dealer table on my laptop, an earbud in one ear, must be neat.

"No -- my place is a sty," I said. I don't gravitate toward that way. In the past, I never had enough energy to deal with it all. I operate in spurts where I'll just get sick of being so messy and then all at once deal with it.

Going through a box of papers, I stop to flip through the pages of a newspaper's one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Curious, I flipped through. There on the pages was a picture of my freshman roommate, Karleton Fyfe, looking very similar to the way I knew him. It gave me chills knowing that he was on this flight when my uncle, an American pilot who regularly flew the Flight 11 route from Boston to L.A., was not.

I found lots of Card Player magazines. Old VCDs of the World Series of Poker. It'll be great to look at those again.

But the best thing is that my apartment is cleaner and less cluttered than it's ever been. I can hold a poker game there and not have it look like I'm insane.

Maybe it's the influence of a girl. Drew's place is looking really nice now that he's seeing Brandie. Finally I have the opportunity to show off my apartment for a change.

Friday, June 16, 2006

A Francis Scott Key moment

So I'm sitting here, being bored at work, reading Ryan's blog about his phat pokery prowess, thinking about Kelley and out of the corner of my eye, fireworks are shooting out of Turner Field.

It was a true bombardment. I don't think I've ever seen fireworks shoot up as high. I could watch that stuff all day.

Sometimes fireworks will light up the night on the other side of the building at Centennial Olympic Park. Having the graveyard shift one New Year's a few nights back was spectacular because of the fireworks shows. And the best of all, of course, was flying back from Memphis (last year's Tunica trip) on the Fourth of July and seeing every little community on the Atlanta approach light up with tiny popcorn-balls of color.

I would have missed it if I hadn't been given this night shift tonight, to sub for Mr. Ed who is on vacation.

Thank you, rucky gods, for that moment.

Back to normal

"I am such a pack rat. I'll never be one again," Kelley's mom laments after midnight, with the movers coming in the morning and still lots of stuff to clear out and pack.

"That's what everyone says, ma'am," I say, trying to pack and label a box.

Ugh. I drove back from Montgomery last night to learn that Kelley and her mom were still busy trying to get ready for the movers.

I totally did not want to go. But I'm still a Boy Scout and it would be a chance to see Kelley. Happiness is dating a girl with a tiny waist.

I also totally wish they'd asked for my help much earlier in the process. I love logistics -- my job makes me a multitasker -- and I have lots of experience with moves, especially knowing how long they take.

I put together two Office Depot boxes in seconds, just out of memory like something from the Bourne Identity.

I finally got home around 3 a.m. It was so hard to drive back, I was really tired. I couldn't even play when I got home and just settled in to sleep.

Today I didn't have to go to work until the afternoon, so I worked to get things back to normal. Washed the car, removing all the bugs from the grill. Got myself out on the bike to Little Five Points (tried to go to a place for lunch but it wasn't open yet). Ended up back at the Dragon, carrying my laptop the whole way. But didn't play.

Ah. Someday I'll get to play. "Back to normal" doesn't provide any guarantee of being able to do it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Sweet Montgomery

Dude. Montgomery is way cooler than Hawaii.
-me to Mark


MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- It's totally hot and humid but I'm trotting along aside Giovanna past Old Alabama Town and on our way to the Capitol.

Running is the perfect way to get oriented to a strange new city and Montgomery totally fits the bill. The capitol is huge. The Confederate flag -- not some politically correct variant but the real thing -- flies on a corner of a monument on the lawn of the Capitol, which has white buildings that stretch on forever. A star marks the place on the steps where Confederate president Jefferson Davis once stood.

Not too far away is the civil rights monument, with a quote from MLK talking about how the waters of justice flow. Only the fountain that usually provides the water over the engraved quote hasn't been working for a week or so, a security guard tells us. Meanwhile, downtown is anchored by the huge buildings of the state's retirement system.

Mark, who once worked here, never said anything about any of this.

We're here with another co-worker for a journalism conference that's really been excellent so far. We all got up early and I picked everyone up and drove the 2-1/2 hour drive from Atlanta, my new car purring like the black cat that it is.

The coaches debunk the inverted pyramid style and challenge lots of things held dear in journalism -- like story critiques, e-mail praise from managers and flat writing styles that drown out voice and excitement.

It's totally like a short version of poker camp. It's good to take a break from what you're doing every now and then, break down what you know and soak up what you don't, in order to improve at your pursuit.

Now that I settle into my hotel room for the evening, I size up the square work table that my laptop is on and lament that I didn't bring my chip set and announce to all the journalists that I would have a game in my hotel room. A chance to bring the whales to you. Chip Reese-style.

Instead, I'll have to settle for the comfort of electronic toasters. And thinking about my writing game. I'd previously thought that maybe I didn't need my broadband card, but them's crazy thoughts.

Me and the unluckiest girl in the world

GRAYSON, Ga. -- I hear Kelley yell out in the yard and immediately I know something bad has happened.

I got tied up helping her mom move a very light shelf that her mom totally could have handled on her own. Always the Boy Scout.

I run upstairs and out the screen door and find Kelley in the yard, next to the U-Haul that we've used to move everything out of her parents' storage locker.

"Is it broken? I can't look at it," she says, looking away from her foot.

So I look at it and immediately think of the movie Syriana. The entire toenail on her right foot has been removed from her toe -- she was pulling out the ramp from the truck and it fell on it, displacing the toenail. I am still totally amazed at how little blood there was on the grass.

Enter me, a total ruckbox who has survived total car vs. off-road concrete accidents with no seatbelts at highway speeds without a scratch, and Kelley, perhaps the unluckiest girl in the world.

Of course, I'm not so rucky as to be able to avoid unloading most of the truck's boxes by myself while the paramedics, her mom and her neighbors all crowd around and look at her toe. It's like some embarrassing scene from There's Something About Mary.

It's 97 degrees and while the day is without Atlanta's characteristic humidity, it's hot. The sweat has soaked up my baggy khaki shorts and pull them down. I'm sure they sag more at the waist because of all that water in my body fleeing away.

I could be burning more blackjack bonuses in my four day weekend that I've been given. Already what little time I've been playing has been a bonanza. Great love from the gambling gods at Play Vegas from Home casino. Also tripled up on 32Red's monthly using gatoplay.

But I like to think of myself (mislead myself?) as the Boy Scout who does everything right, who takes outrageous bullshit from people who were raised by toasters and does not tilt since "good things always happen" to people who play life the right way.

Kelley needs help. Her mom needs help. Oh bonus lords and toasters, I'll have to deal with you another day.

We get in the truck, now unloaded, Kelley with a nice gauze bandage over her foot and maybe make it four blocks before it breaks down halfway up a hill on a suburban road. We're maybe a mile away from where we have to drop it off.

The scene doesn't seem too different from Third World countries where you see these kinds of breakdowns with vehicles of very iffy mechanical natures. There's a long line of cars behind us. There's a big line of cars forming in front of us, since people have to go into the other lane to pass. It's a burning sun and I'm out there yelling and waving my arms as I call "roadside assistance."

The difference, amazingly, is I hear no horns honk. The suburbanites politely wait as the policewoman directs traffic. It takes them a while longer to get to their Outback steakhouse, their Lowe's Hardware or their Olive Garden. But the motorists accept it and go on.

"I better not gamble today," Kelley, laughing, says to me, her neighbor and the policewoman.

"You don't know that -- you might have already burned all the bad stuff up," I say, thinking about the grand I've squirreled away the last two days from blackjack and playing NL and PL against toasters at sucky room. I feel like saying the line some yokel said during Star Wars: Episode II at a movie theater in Little Rock when Padme asked Anakin whether he could live a lie by sharing a romance in secret.

"I could give it a shot," the yokel crooned, cracking the audience up.

But I do reflect on that fundamental question: Girl, why are you so unlucky? Are there people who have the market share of wild ruckbox powers while everyone else is made to just make do?

Your car was totaled in October, at the bottom of the very hill I cruise by several times a week on a very unarmored bicycle. You injure your toe in a most painful way when you're helping your folks with a move. And on your way to dropping off the rental truck and getting to the ER to make sure your toe hasn't been shattered in some horrible way by the truck ramp, the rental breaks down.

But then I think, as the neighbor brings me and Kel back to get my car, maybe it's just variance. There's no telling how deep these tar pits are. You could lose every single time you pick up cards, on a BB bleeding spree that goes on to infinity.

Or you could meet that guy who thinks a lot like you, who's been burned in all the worst ways by the social toasters of the world but works anyway to make things a little better than he found it.

I could say your luck has changed. But of course, then that wouldn't be luck, but skill, to know a good gamble when you see it, to make a bet in the dark with all kinds of shit going on all around you but still knowing you have an edge.

And to know when your boyfriend's brain has been melted by having to stay out too long in the sun, when he's totally full of it. LOL

Monday, June 12, 2006

The best advice

... I've received in a long time came about five or six years back from the father of my ex-girlfriend. He said anytime he went anywhere with his wife, he always brought a book.
If I had remembered that yesterday, I mean bringing a notebook computer instead of a plain ol' book, I prolly could have cleared an entire blackjack bonus.
Maybe more later...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Life on autoplay

I'm lying down on my bed, staring at the ceiling fan that only worked for a month after it was installed. On my right are 71 chips from casinos in two frames, from The Plaza in Las Vegas to Lucky Chances in Colma, Calif., places I've played poker the last few years.

Next to that is a bulletin board, with an old postcard from the Horseshoe when it was the Horseshoe, a picture of Lance Armstrong and two old comps from the Grand Casino in Biloxi, before it was washed away.

To my left, cards flash by at a dizzying rate of speed -- 880 hands an hour. It's 32Red and I'm burning through the n00b bonus (100 percent to 50), $5,000 wager requirement. I'm doing 2,500 hands at $2 in one shot and it's like an electronic safecracker in the James Bond movies.

I'm about 50 bets ahead.

My entire life should be on gatoplay. For one, I get way more done -- I finished watching the rest of the movie Serenity and saw the entire film Crash on my portable DVD player. I don't get tired or bored like I do when I have to burn a 2,500-hand bonus playing blackjack.

That said, burning a bonus on autoplay isn't the best option. Even though the hands flash by like the computer is challenging itself at hundreds of hands of jan-ken-po -- the original Japanese name for roshambo, or paper, rock, scissors -- I can tell that it isn't conforming to the proper multi-deck blackjack strategy as outlined by the Wizard of Odds. I can tell when the computer on autoplay doesn't double down on 11 against an A. I pause the program and correct the autoplay strategy. But it won't let me correct other discrepancies, such as doubling down with A7 against the dealer's 6 for example.

I do a few hands on manual but realize even with its faults, the autoplay is the way to go. Soon I'm above 50 bets, which means I've basically doubled up. I go back and forth 10 bets -- up $20, then down, then up -- and eventually let the computer go about its business. It's like an Airbus on fly by wire. Let me do the work, it says. Sit back and enjoy the ride. I am a leaf on the wind, as Wash says during the turbulent scenes in Serenity.

But blackjack is blackjack and I've played enough bonuses to know that you can easily go 50 bets up or down. My worst showing ever -- and I've only busted out of blackjack only once online ever -- was down 70 $2 bets on InterCasino. Still, that made me only lose $40 after the bonus. I can't tell you how stupid I think people are when they tell me they're going to go play in a casino for $50/hand with no bankroll at all.

"I went up and down and then I promised my wife I wouldn't take any more money out of the ATM," a friend laments after a trip. I just thank God my life isn't filled with that kind of leak. You can be the high roller. I'm just here to take your money.

Like a plane landing on cue, the autoplay stops. I'm not even done with Crash yet. Those 50 bets are gone and I'm left with $99 -- which means a profit of $49, since I only bought in for $50 and got a matching $50 bonus. Sometimes you get chicken and sometimes you get feathers. I'm happy to have some extra money stay in my account.

Those who the gods wish to destroy, they make live in air conditioning. I play here, sleep here and eat here in this cocoon of cold air. I think of Mark's recent post on addiction and this is probably a lot like being a closet drunk -- in the morning I get up and do the routine all over again, climbing on my Trek bike and making the commute to work, a ride that has the right amount of freedom (the ability to not be stuck in traffic) and risk (you're 12 times more likely to be killed on a bike than in a car) for a gamblo. The weather is hot but I hardly exert myself going to and from air conditioned worlds. I come home, crank up the a/c full bore and turn on the computers again.

And sit and play, flying my own ship. Or lie back and stare at the ceiling, watching my life go by as the computers do all the work.

Happy June. And good hunting.