Monday, November 24, 2014

Technical Help

I've recently had some issues posting.  First, my work computer (where I'm posting from now) does not let me upload pictures.  It's been this way for a year or so.  And, recently, my laptop (an Apple Airbook) does not seem to be loading Blogger correctly.  Specifically, the "menu" bar at the top of the page (which, for readers, I believe has a search option, and a "Next Blog" button, and for bloggers, lets you access your account and draft new posts) simply no longer appears.  Has any one dealt with this issue before?  Is there another way to initiate a new post?  A big part of this blog is pictures, and I've lost some motivation to update without the ability to include them.  Hopefully, I can resolve this issue soon.

Anyway, beyond this, same old, same old.... Spent Friday night at the Horseshoe Baltimore, monkey mashing, drinking wine (bartender pulled out a bottle of 2003 Cab which was a pleasant surprise . . .) and playing poker . . . Saturday, I drove up to AC for more gambling, more steaks and wine, and an O.A.R. show at the Tropicana.  And, Wednesday, I'll start the trip back to Long Island for the holiday . . . a stop off at Borgata Wednesday night, Thursday with the family, and Friday heading in to NYC to catch O.A.R. again.  It's rough; but someone has to do these things.

So, if any one has suggestions on getting this page to load right, please let me know.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Jet Up!

The term is undefined.  However, based on usage and context, it appears to mean "perseverance in the midst of a multi-decade shit-show" . . . "still trying in the face of certain failure" . . .  "being all that you can be when you know you can't be much" . . .

Jet Up!

It's Monday.  Shockingly, I'm dragging.  After spending the previous two weekends in Chicago and Denver, respectively, and walking through my door well past Midnight Sunday night, this weekend I arrived back home at the early hour of 11:00 pm after making the five hour drive from the Meadowlands.  I could complain about being tired.  But I'll Jet Up! 

While my memory often fails me, I'm fairly certain Memorial Day Weekend was the last time I stepped foot in an AC Casino.  The Horseshoe Baltimore is 35 minutes away, and, since Revel, Trump Plaza and Showboat closed (causing a major reduction in capacity), I've gone from comped weekends at Harrah's to $200+ a night.  I simply have little reason or desire to travel 4 hours to Atlantic City to spend $500 on a hotel room.

But this past weekend was different.  It was Jets-Steelers Sunday in the swamp, and my co-worker/friend MK is from Pittsburgh and a huge Steelers fan.  He's also married with kids, and doesn't get away to the casino very often.  So, it seemed an appropriate time to Jet Up! and spend the weekend in AC.  And, Friday, my buddy "Jimmy" (who you've previously read about), who I attend the Jets games with, surprised me with a text that he too would be getting away from the family for the weekend and heading to Harrah's.  The game was afoot.

MK and I left the office around 5:30 Friday evening, and arrived at Harrah's by 10:00.  Jimmy rolled in shortly thereafter.  After catching up over a few frosty beverages, we found an open black jack table and sat down.  As you may recall, coming into this weekend, I was on a streak of 12 double-downs lost in a row.  I quickly picked up where I left off.  I ran my streak to 15, and was down another $300 before the waitress came around with my first drink.  I mean, for real?  15 doubles in a row?  I thought about walking away.  But, ultimately, I decided to Jet Up!  I rebought for another $200 and, a few hands in, looked down at 88 on a dealer 7.  Playing $40 a hand, I split and pulled a 2 and another 8.  Here we go.  I double the 10 and pull a . . . deuce for a 12.  Of course.  I split my 8's again and pull a 3.  I double and pull a 4 for a 15.  Of course.  I end up with a face (for 18) on the last 8.  Shockingly, the dealer busts, my streak ends, and I rake a solid $200 hand.  The very next hand I get a spot to double down again  . . . and pull 21.  An hour later, I'm sitting on a stack of green, and, when the shoe ends, I cash out a solid $1,300. 

After a bit more debauchery, as the hands on the clock signaled 4:00 am, MK, Jimmy and I decide to finally get dinner.  Off to Bill's Burger.  My diet has been clean all week.  But that's about to change.  We split some loaded nachos to start.  And a bacon cheese burger, of course.  And we order fries and onion rings as well.  The waiter brings out the nachos, followed by the burgers.  And, perhaps in an act of unspoken humanity, she forgets the fries and onion rings.  We consider just accepting her oversight and calling it a night.  But, ultimately, we Jet Up! and remind her about the remainder of our order,  At 4:45 am, we're stuffing ourselves with more fat and carbs.  It would not be Friday night / Saturday morning in AC without a completely unnecessary act of gluttony.  By 5:00 am, we head back to the room.

Three gentlemen in a room.  Two beds.  Fantastic.  I mean, one of the few things PPP enjoys more than fine wine and delightful filets is a good night's sleep.  Pete Peters is too old to be sharing a bed.  It's inhumane.  I imagine this is how poor people live.  A gentlemen with 25,000 Caesars' tier points should be entitled to his own damn bed.  Yet, I suck it up and sleep with Jimmy . . . Compounding matters, although I search the room for a suitable "rape guard," I come up empty.  Nothing.  The threat of man-on-man contact has escalated.  The risk level is beyond the pale.  But there's nothing that can be done.  Hesitant, I climb in bed and try to get some sleep.  Jimmy, for his part, seems unfazed . . .

7:30 am and the first encroachment occurs.  Perhaps it's a six sense -- I awake just in time to see an arm start to come over the top.  I react quickly -- "NO!!!" I declare, as I block the arm.  Jimmy, half asleep, oblivious, retreats, seemingly unfazed.

I try to get back to sleep.  I NEED more sleep.  It's only been slightly more than two hours since my last beer.  I try my hardest.  I think I fall back into a light sleep.  And them it happens.  I feel a knee . . . or maybe a shin or a foot . . . against my back.  What is the meaning of this?   How eff'n hard is it to stay on your side of the damn bed?  The thought of playing little spoon to Jimmy is, in a word, horrific.  It's only 8:00 am.   A mere three hours after the Bill's Burger debacle.  I'm still drunk.  Yet I know I'm never getting back to sleep.  I get up and head down to the casino floor to grind some 100 hand video poker.  I'm too old for this . . .

By noon, Saturday, I'm feeling surprisingly good.  MK and Jimmy decide to play some craps.  I take the opportunity to make a food run to the local Shop Rite in Absecon to load up on a delightful assortment of meats for the Sunday tailgate.  When I get back to Harrah's, around 1:00 am, MK and Jimmy are watching football and drinking Bloody Mary's at Exhibit Bar.  I grab a miller lite and the game is once again afoot.

At 3:00, we head over to Harry's Oyster Bar at Bally's to watch the Notre Dame game.  MK is a proud graduate of the Law School in South Bend, and doesn't miss a game.    Notre Dame is a wreck.  The words flying out of MK's mouth would never be tolerated at a Catholic University.  Hell, perhaps anywhere else in the country other than a casino bar in AC and we'd have been asked to leave. 

At half time, trying to change the luck of the Irish, we head over to Toga Bar at Caesars.  It's nearly 5:00.  Our plan is to intoxicate swiftly and be ready to call it a night by midnight, so we can get some rest before making the early morning drive up to the Meadowlands the next morning.  MK opts for Red Bull - vodka; Jimmy hits Jack and coke.  I go straight for the Patron and club.  After a few rounds, by 6:30, we are on fire and decide to grind some black jack before our 9:30 reservation at Izakaya at Borgata. 

We head upstairs and once again find an empty table.  The cocktail waitress comes by.  She's cute.  Not a local.  But from another land.  Her grasp of the local language may be somewhat strained.  I order a Corona.  Jimmy seconds the motion.  MK deliberates and ultimately inquires: "do you have any cocaine?  Or meth?"  The waitress, perhaps confused, delivers the bad news that she does not.  MK opts for Irish Coffee.  A strange choice for early evening.  But who am I to question the choices of a grown man teetering on the edge of a regrettable AC bender?  The cards eventually hit the air.  MK starts off hot.  After several black jacks in a row, he promises Karan, a rotund dealer old enough to be considering retirement, "we're gonna make out soooo hard after this session!"  [Perhaps not surprisingly, Sunday morning, on the drive north to the stadium, MK has no recollection of even playing black jack at Caesars until I remind him].  I do not fair as well.  I burn through a $300 buy-in.  I rebuy for another $300 and get started on a new streak of double-down losses.  I hit 5 in a row before I'm a full $600 in the red and decide I've had enough.

It's 8:30 when we hop in a cab to the Borgata.  First stop - Long Bar for pre-sake adult beverages.  Seems reasonable at the time.  We finally roll into Izakaya at 9:45 -- fifteen minutes late for our reservation; nevertheless, we're seated without issue.  We order some sushi and, after some deliberation, opt for a full bottle of sake. Time to Jet Up!  Rationale decision-making has called it a night.

At 11:30 or so, we're the only people left in the restaurant, and we're politely asked to leave.  We stumble 30 feet down the hallway and decide to grab "one last beer" at long bar.

It's mid-night when we arrive back at Harrah's.  Our plan was to be asleep by now.  But, at same point around half-way through the bottle of sake, we decided we'd play some poker before calling it a night.  MK and I get seated at the same table.  Jimmy is at another table.  Jimmy has never played $1/2 NL before.  But fear not.  I taught him everything he needs to know during the three minute cab ride from Borgata to Harrah's.  I think it sounded something like this:

PPP:  "Dude; you'll be fine.  Just buy in for $200 and play tight."

Jimmy:  "OK, man."

PPP:  "And always be thinking about position.  Play tight.  But play even tighter when you are out of position."

Jimmy:  "OK, man.  Hey, what do you mean 'position'"?

PPP:  Like, if it limps around to you, and you are, like, last to act, you might play AJ or AT.  But, like, if you are one of the first people to act, don't play AJ or AT."

Jimmy:  "OK, man."

PPP:  "So, play big pocket pairs, and like AK . . . otherwise, just fold . . . drink some free beers and have fun."  And, like, if you get a small pocket pair, you can limp and see if you hit a set."

Jimmy:  "Totally.  Is a 'set' three-of-a-kind?"

PPP:  "Yeah.  And, if you do play a hand, play aggressive.  Just bet the shit out of the flop.  Better to win very little than lose a lot by getting tricky."

Jimmy:  "Yeah, bro.  Totally."

PPP:  "But, like, if you are playing, like AA and the flop is like 78T and there are two spades, and you bet, and someone calls . . . and then you bet the turn and they call again or raise you, you are prolly beat, so you have to fold. 

Jimmy:  "OK."

PPP:  "I mean, if you play a hand, play aggressive and bet the fuck out of it; but don't be stupid and lose your entire buy-in with a pair, you know."

Jimmy:  "Totally."

PPP:  "I mean, have fun, but don't be afraid to just sit there and fold for a few hours and drinks some beers . . ."

In the end, Jimmy claimed he played one hand . . . and he couldn't remember whether he won it or lost it.

I called it a night at 1:30.  Jimmy came up to the room about half hour later.  And MK rolled in around 3:00 am.  I awoke in the morning without the assistance of an alarm at 7:15.  If Jimmy encroached on me, I was too exhausted to notice.

Sunday morning.  Rough.  My brain is not working.  Feeling shaky.  Nevertheless, by 8:15, we are on the road.  About an hour into the drive, my head starts pounding.  And I start feeling nauseous.  We pull over to a rest stop for gas.  I get out of the car, pace a bit and get some fresh air.  I down some Advil for my head and a Muscle Milk to coat my stomach.  Time to Jet Up!  We get back on the road and I feel better.

We hit the Meadowlands at 10:30, break out the cooler and start all over.  Ice cold Coors Lite.  Two hours later, everyone one is feeling good as we head into the stadium.  I'm openly rooting for the Steelers.  I mean, the Jets season is over, and I bet Pittsburgh OVER 9 wins at Bellagio during my trip to Vegas in August.  So, of course, it's 17-0 Jets in the first quarter.  Makes total sense.  Perhaps MK and I should not watch football together.  Between his Irish and Steelers, it would be hard to fathom a worse 1-2 punch performance in a single weekend.  Both his teams must have combined for 10 turnovers (as well as two missed chip-shot field goals).  Rough weekend for the guy.

After a few post-game filets, we headed back to D.C., arriving around 10:00 pm.  Another great (but exhausting) weekend in the books.



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Digging a Ditch to Hell or Building a Stairway to Heaven?

I can't help myself.  I just can't. 

Anyone who follows gaming stocks knows that over the past few months, the sector has been crushed.  Absolutely crushed.  While the indexes continue to rise, LVS is in the $50's (down from a high of $88).  MPEL is $24 after hitting $45 earlier in the year.   The culprit?  Largely the Chinese government, which has been cracking down on corruption which, in turn, has purportedly chased the VIP segment of the Macau market into hiding.  As a result, after years of year-over-year growth, revenue in the world's biggest gaming market is on the decline.  Add to this the fact that Japanese parliament is apparently punting on its casino bill this session, and gaming stocks have taken the biggest hit since the perfect storm in 2008. 

But, for how long?

Sheldon Adelson views Macau's issues as simply cyclical.  And if there is one thing I believe, it's not to doubt "Uncle Shelly."  Say what you want about the man (and, I'm sure poker players have some choice words given Adelson's stance on on-line poker), but the guy is a visionary.  While Steve Wynn may build the worlds most beautiful casinos, it is Adelson's vision that is transforming Cotai into the world's greatest gambling mecca.  If Adelson continues to build, I will continue to invest (it's worth noting the opportunities that Adelson has passed on -- Manila . . . Spain . . . additional domestic casinos . . .  In short, when Adelson moves into a market, his plan is to transform, not simply build a casino for the sake of building a casino).

As for Macau, the government's efforts are having the effect of transitioning the market from VIP to mass gaming which, over the long haul, may actually lead to larger growth, particularly as the Chinese middle class continues to prosper.  Infrastructure in the region continues to improve, most notably with a soon-to-be opened bridge from the mainland to the Cotai Peninsula.  And capacity continues to ramp up with all of the major players (LVS, MPEL, WYNN and MGM) opening new projects in the next several years (despite the numerous existing concessions, LVS continues to gain market share, particularly in the mass market).   Add to this the development of non-gaming attractions currently underway nearby, aimed at bringing family entertainment to the region, and Macau's possibilities seem limitless.  Macau may soon be more than just a mecca for gambling; it is shooting to be a world-wide tourist destination.

It seems to me, at this very moment, that LVS is the perfect combination of growth and value.  Is gambling going anywhere?  Is the Communist government in China going to tank the Macau economy?  I'm betting the answer to these questions is "no."  In the meantime, the company continues to give back to shareholders with regular dividend increases and an ongoing stock buy-back program.  So, while LVS continues to be the proverbial "falling knife," I continue to buy.  Hell, in 2015, at current PPS, the yield alone will be north of 4%.

You often hear the philosophy that diversification is the key to investing.  I call bullshit on that.  I certainly believe in mutual funds.  Indeed, they hold the majority of my investments.  However, I also believe that when you have a winning idea, you pound it into the ground.  Since 2008, the gaming sector has been my winning idea.  And now, as 2015 nears, I still believe that to be the case.  Short term - who knows.  It's been painful.  Days like today, I look at how disproportionately my portfolio leans towards gaming (the only individual stocks I own are LVS, MGM and MPEL) and I watch the market open, and feel nauseated.  But, you know . . . "blood on the streets" and all . . .   I'm willing to gamble on the thesis long term.  Gamble BIG.  In 2020, I'm either going to be crying over my foolishness, or rolling in funds.  But, as we all know, unless you're Tony Bigcharles, you can't beat the casino.  So I'm betting on the casino.   Time will tell if the bet is a winner.        

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pete P Peters - Family Man

At the airport in Denver, awaiting my fight back to D.C.  I arrived early, to allow an hour or so for cold beer and football before take off.

Saturday morning, I met my niece at the Denver Museum of Science and Shit (actual name).  We looked a stuff.  It was sort of like my typical Saturday.  Without the gambling.  And the football.  And beer.  She's a good kid, so it was sort of fun.

After the museum, it was off to my brothers place to meet my other niece:

Um.  Call me in a year or so when she learns some tricks . . .

After an afternoon at the park, dinner, legos and blocks, I retreated back to the Westin, and ventured out on the town for a few beers and to watch the end of the late games.  I played three college Fanduels . . . $25 total investment.  By the time I got back to the city, I was first in one tournament and 17th and 7th in the other two . . . each with well over 1,000 runners.  Heading in to the 4th quarter of the late games, I was cashing for $1,850 . . .  Once the Cal game went final (and Daniel Lasko's night came to an end), I was in the clear.  I started the day with .55 cents left in my account, and closed with just under 2 grand . . . .

This morning (Sunday), I went back out to visit the family . . . more legos . . . more blocks . . . another trip to the park.  No football.   None. 

My take on kids -- if you are lucky, they are happy . . . in a good mood.  You spend your day supervising . . . performing trivial tasks (putting on shoes . . . getting drinks of water . . . preparing snacks) . . . watching them have fun . . . pretending that the leaves on the ground, or some random fucken rock, is worthy of prolonged discussion.  If you are unlucky, you spend your day listening to a  kid whine . . . trying to get them to act civilized . . . doling out discipline . . .  Under neither scenario do you get to do anything that you actually would like to do.  And, in 20 years, if all goes well - best case scenario -- you produced a productive member of society . . .  What am I missing?