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    This thing, you need. Run your smartphone for days.

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    I use this cleaner for my iPhone, iPad 3, iPad mini and MacBook Pro. It’s great all-around and won’t mess up the oleophobic coating on iOS device screens.

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    If you’re having problems with your Adonit Jot capacitive touch stylus or Hex3 Jaja, you can improve its performance and reliability with careful application of thermal paste! For more on this, check out my capacitive touch stylus how-to fix-it guide. Months later (Sep 2013), my styli are still performing great!

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    The stuff I use to keep my iPad screen nice and clean!

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    Awesome capacitive touch stylus created by Studio Neat. Great guys, great product. I use mine every day! Bradtastic Approved.

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    Adonit Jot Pro is an awesome capacitive touch stylus for iPad & other tablets.

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    Pencil by FiftyThree Digital Stylus for iPad Air, iPad Mini and iPad 3/4 - Walnut

    Even if you consider yourself a casual doodler or note-taker, you’ll love this well designed stylus. Built for Paper by FiftyThree, the iPad app — however, many other apps support Pencil.

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Entries in gambling (4)


Finally, a Royal Flush

A progressive Royal Flush at Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, NV.

After a Royal Flush draught, it's really nice to hit one. There are a number of things that I don't like about GSR — the lines, the parking — but there is a game there that's pretty cool. A progressive Double Double Bonus game.

Despite its high variance, I like playing this game. Maybe more than 10/6 DDB non-progressive. I like the mini-progressive jackpots for Aces, 2,3,4's — I like the excitement of four-of-a-kinds. It's also great that I've been really lucky playing this machine.

Without a four-of-a-kind (4oK), you could lose more than $100 per hour. At a minimum, a 4oK is worth $62.50. If it's a special 4oK (2's-4's, Aces, 2-4 w/ a kicker A-4, Aces w/ kicker), it's worth a minimum $100. The game is more exciting than grinding away to profit $2.50 to $5 at a time.

Unfortunately, the machine GSR uses for this game also has Blackjack and Keno on it, so people are often playing 5¢ Keno on a machine that gives me a good (albeit risky) game.

Yes, there are other places in town to play. But I've never been more lucky at a machine. I know that that luck will likely run out, but for today, despite my cold and broken car (I was rear-ended earlier in the month, still nothing from the insurance company USAA), things are okay.


Winning Video Poker and a much needed change in luck

Video Poker is a game of variance, skill and luck.

Even a knowledgeable player playing an advantage game can lose a ton of money really quickly. An advantage game one is where the player actually has an edge over the house — in Video Poker, this advantage is usually no more than a few percent if you include cashback, comps and casino perks. The best consistent game in Reno offers players a 0.762% advantage on the base game (Full Pay Deuces Wild).

I’ve been on a bit of losing streak, aka negative fluctuation. These fluctuations are the real world results of variance, or the standard deviation from the expected return (ER). Example: holding four cards to a Royal Flush has a 1 in 47 chance of turning into a Royal Flush; on single play, I’ve been dealt over 60 of these (RF4) without completing the Royal Flush. This isn’t very unusual, but it does suck.

Because the Royal Flush makes up, on average, between 2.5-3% of a game’s return, any given cycle without a Royal is played at a negative. Royal Flush Cycles (the average number of hands played between hitting Royal Flushes) are usually between 37,000 and 44,000 hands, and unfortunately, it’s not unlikely that you’ll play through several cycles without a Royal.

Understanding the math behind the game makes session losses a lot less painful, but it still sucks when you’re trying to make money and leave with less than you started with. Playing Video Poker is not an easy moneymaking endeavor; if you play less than perfectly (failing to hold the mathematically most valuable cards every time — not always intuitive or psychologically easy), you cannot expect the theoretical return in the long run.

And then there’s Lady Luck.

Good luck, or bad, makes up a significant part of the Video Poker experience. Any given day, you can do everything right and lose your entire bankroll while the idiot next to you plays poorly a terrible short-pay game, hits Four-of-a-Kind after Full House after Flush and feels like a genius. Although mildly irritating, I accept it. I also know that that sort of player will be a long-term loser, and that that type of play keeps casinos open 24/7.

As stated, recently, my luck hasn’t been great. I normally play Deuces Wild ; when dealt three Deuces (or any three-of-a-kind), drawing two leaves a 1 in 23.5 chance of getting that elusive final card. I’d been dealt three deuces 51 times on single-play and 11 times on triple play (three line Spin Poker) without getting a fourth Deuce. Many times I’d thrown away Straight Flushes (such as WWW45) and Five of a Kind (WWW77) when 5oK pays 75 instead of 80 coins (as it does on NSUD, normally a 99.73% return game) and ended up with a 25 or 20 coin Four-of-a-Kind.

And then finally on Sunday, magic happened.

I was essentially killing time before a slot tournament, playing off $20 free play with a 5¢ Spin Poker machine with the NSU version of Deuces Wild, playing three lines (75¢ per play). A few hands go by, some missed Wild Royal Flush chances… and then I’m dealt Three Deuces — and it completes in the center line. Woo! Though only a $50 win, it was still a relief to finally see the elusive hand.

I played a few more hands, was dealt a Straight Flush playing nine lines (+$22.50) cashed out, and moved to my usual 25¢ “progressive” NSU Deuces Wild game.

(It’s called Progressive, but the reality is that the Royal Flush is just set at a perpetual $1199 — one dollar underneath the W2-G amount and $199 more than a normal quarter machine Royal Flush.)

Initially, I was dealt into several Flushes and natural Full Houses (no wild cards), drew into a bunch of Full Houses some Straights. And then luck turned and $70 turned into $1.25 really quickly.

I dropped in another $20 and fluctuated between $30 and $2.50 over five minutes. I was considering quitting to walk around a bit because nothing exciting was happening. A lot of Wild Royal misses. Not fun. Last hand, I suppose.

I was dealt a single Deuce and garbage. On average, holding a solitary Deuce is worth about even money. I’ll get my bet back and cash out. Draw.

The remaining three spill out. +$250

Up about $300 for the 35 minute session with hours until my slot tournament round, I played for an hour or so and stayed even. I hadn’t eaten lunch, so at 5pm I went to the Chinese restaurant in the casino and had a decent fried rice while relaxing, resting, writing/working a bit and watching some YouTube videos. After eating, I still had a few minutes to kill, so I sat down again. Put $25 in and lost most of it really quickly, and then drew a Five-of-a-Kind.

At 6:30 I played my slot tournament round, got a decent score but nowhere near the top ten (I did manage to place finally last week, somewhere between 21st-40th, at JA Nugget in Sparks, NV — winning $100 free play), and headed over to another casino (Grand Sierra Resort) to pick up a free gift that they give away every Sunday. It happened to be a Christmas dinnerware set; apparently, it was extremely popular because they ran out and needed to get more from the stock room. Twenty minute wait I was told. Sigh.

At this casino, the best game I’ve found is a particular Progressive Double Double Bonus quarter machine.

Recently on Instagram, I was indirectly criticized for playing $1199 Royal Flush Jacks or Better (99.956% return) instead of (probably 9/6 — Full House returning 9 coins per coin bet, Flushes returning 6) DDB (a practically unplayable 98.98% return). However, because the GSR progressive was at a decent number, it’s playable, albeit volatile.

The night prior, I hit four Queens twice in five minutes ($125) so psychologically, I felt good about the game. Plus, I needed to earn some tier points to get the next level card (Earning me a free buffet every Tuesday. My parents like to go there on Tuesday).

I sat down and started playing, staying fairly even. A few Flushes and Full Houses, many Three-of-a-Kinds and tons of duds. About 25 minutes in, I thought that the sets were stocked so I hit the service button so an attendant could watch the machine for a moment. A minute later, a slot guy came by. Right then, I was dealt a Full House, Aces and Eights. I immediately hit hold on the Aces.

While many people are probably happy with a guaranteed 45 coins, ($11.25) it’s the wrong play. By a lot. Playing Double Double Bonus, Aces are worth so much that you toss the pair and keep the three Aces. Most of the time, this will end with a 15 coin Three-of-a-Kind; on a rare occasion, it will become a Full House again (albeit with another pair since it’s impossible to draw discarded cards). Very rarely, it will become Four Aces (worth 818 coins on this particular machine, though normally 800).

But when luck is on your side…

I was just about to leave to get the free Christmas set before drawing two replacement cards, but thought, I shouldn’t leave the machine mid-game. I hit draw.


Very, very rarely, three Aces becomes Four Aces w/ 2,3,4 — a hand that normally pays 2000 coins, or $500 on a quarter machine — but this progressive was at $547, or 2188 coins. That’s why you don’t just hold the Full House with three Aces. Most of the time it’ll be disappointing, but occasionally: jackpot!

In this DDB game with the 2188 coin progressive 4 Aces w/ Kicker and 818 coin Four Aces, a Full House is worth just 9 coins for every coin bet for a total guaranteed return of 45. Holding three Aces and drawing two is worth an average of 13.1665 coins — about 1.46 times more than the Full House.

In the long run, holding the Full House instead of just the Aces on a quarter machine will cost you about $5 each time.

After this big win, I cashed out, got my free Christmas dish set and checked my tier points. I was close to upgrading my card, so I went back to play the machine. (Incidentally, since hitting the Aces with kicker, the game went from being practically even to a slightly negative game.) Unfortunately, someone was sitting there playing Video Keno (a game with a huge house edge) 5¢ per play. With several bucks in the machine, I thought it’d be a long wait. Unfortunately, there’s only one in the progressive bank of machines set with a good payable, and he happens to sit there and play a game he could find on dozens of nearby machines. I almost offered $5 for the seat; I wasn’t thrilled about it however, because the game was worth slightly less due to the progressive reset. Fortunately, he ran out of money and left after several minutes.

Since I only needed a few tier points, I didn’t need to play too many more hands. Fortunate, since I wasn’t really feeling well. Twenty or so hands in, nothing exciting. I was about to leave, down about $20 or so. And then I hit four Sixes.

With perfect play on a positive game, you’ll still lose about 60% of the time.

If you’re going to play Video Poker with the goal of making money, know that after any several hour session you play, you’re likely leave the casino with less money than you started with. Competent players can play 500-900 hands per hour; most people play quite a bit slower than that. Within a several thousand hand sample size, it’s unlikely that you’ll hit a jackpot hand, which can account for 2-3% of the game’s payback (depending on the game type).

It’s a very risky way to try to make some money, but if and when you do hit that big hand, it’s pretty nice. If you’re going to play, remember the odds and the math — and practice, practice, practice.

For more Video Poker stuff, check out my Instagram (@bradtastic).

Since I normally play Deuces Wild, here’s a bit about the variations worth playing:

The NSU game paytable (99.73%), betting five coins, should have the following numbers from Royal Flush down to Three-of-a-Kind: 4000=1000=125=80=50-20-20-15-10-5 — With the $1199 Royal Flush, this game has a slightly positive return.

Full Pay Deuces Wild (100.762%): 4000-1000-125-75-45-25–15-10-5 — It seems like a lesser paytable, but the 25 coins for Four-of-a-Kind makes all the difference. In Deuces Wild, 4oK is a common hand due to the presence of the wild cards, mathematically more frequent than Full Houses, Flushes and Straights, appearing about 6.5% of the time.

Note: These variations of the same game cannot be played the same way. There are numerous strategy changes based on the payout.

Lastly, I’m not a “video poker expert” — if you’re looking to learn, check out books by Bob Dancer and Dan Paymar. Good place to start. If you’re looking to check unique paytables, check out the Wizard of Odds Video Poker Strategy Calculator. It lists the odds of the game, probabilities and generates a strategy chart.


Update! Things are looking up!

Hey everyone! Hope you’re well.

Just another personal update so you know that I’m still alive and doing things.

Things are going really well here. I had several really slow, rather uneventful months in Oakland at the beginning of this year, but since moving here and getting settled, things have been picking up! I’ve got a bunch of new projects and have made some progress on major design projects that I’ve been working on for quite a while. I’m really looking forward to sharing those things.

In addition, my family just moved up here — about 30 minutes away. That’s really cool, too, because it seems to be much better for my father. I’m glad that the pets have adjusted well to the transition as well. I was a little worried about Muffin, my childhood dog, but she was apparently really good in the car ride to Sparks and has been very content since. (Really cute/heartbreaking: when the house was being packed up, she was really nervous and started crying because she seemed to think that she was going to get left behind. She’s been glued to my mom and sister since. And bonus! (formerly John Ascuaga’s) Nugget in Sparks has a pet-friendly floor, so she’s been able to stay with my family in the hotel as well!

More exciting news!

I finally got a few suggestions of local places to go for good food and coffee! (Thanks, Lindsey!) Java Jungle is a cool, artsy, indie coffee shop a few blocks away from me, and there’s a nice family-owned Italian Restaurant called Noble Pie Parlor that I now want to check out. The majority of the stores and restaurants in Reno seem to be chain/franchise places, and there’s a lot of fast food — not a lot of fresh. Most of the fish is frozen out here, and at the majority of restaurants that I’ve been to, there aren’t any vegetarian main courses. I asked at several, and after getting a strange look, I get suggestions like, ”Well, you can get a chicken salad… with a side of steak.” A lot of fried food and a lot of potatoes. Really heavy food. Fortunately, I really like eating at home — it’s been a necessity for so many years due to my condition that I’ve grown to vastly prefer it to eating out. But even as a true creature of habit, sometimes it’s nice to have a change.

I’ve been able to spend a fair amount of time with my dad and his friend Steve, doing one of my dad’s favorite things — gambling at the Pai Gow tables. My father is insanely lucky. People have a hard time believing how many big hands he’s picked up (seven card straight flushes, five aces, royal flushes, etc). I’d never had anything bigger than a full house until this weekend!

Several days ago, I got my first Straight Flush, and last night, I got four tens with two queens on top at The Nugget — and then we went over the The Grand Sierra Resort in Reno and I got a handful of straights, flushes and full houses. I stayed at the table for a bit too long though; four times in a row, I was one card away from a Royal Flush, usually with an off-suit face card for a high straight. What makes it so… addicting, I suppose, is that the card that I needed was usually in the hand of the person directly next to me. So while I was picking up pushes with bonuses, I was thinking, well, I think I’ll hit a big one pretty soon!” Sadly, no straight-flush or four-of-a-kind at *GSR. But I met some nice people there and had a pretty good time!

Unpacking and organizing is still going relatively slowly. I’ve been trying to find all of my computer equipment and get my desk setup but I’m still missing a few things. I really hope that Apple releases a really kick-ass iPad this year. Mine is starting to really show its age; a lot of new apps lag.

Although unpacking and the various new (and old) projects are going to continue to take up a lot of time and energy, I think I can set aside time to write some reviews and work on some long form content for Bradtastica and SaysBrad. I’ve added some things to my various social pages and Pinterest, but by far, the bulk of my posts have been on my facebook. Mostly link posts to the various articles that I’ve read, and occasionally YouTube videos that I think are worth watching. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, feel free to follow me there.

Wherever you are, take care and enjoy the rest of this Memorial Day weekend!


Got Nugget? Part One.

From Sparks, NV to Oakland, CA

I’m back in the Bay Area once again, after a nice relaxing week-long vacation — one so beautifully juxtaposed with the frenzied chaos of sound, drink, screams and laughter. The feint “clink” sound echoes through the walkways between high-tech digital slot machines emulating the sound of “coin payouts.” Buckets abound — as if they’re to be used by anyone anymore — there aren’t any “coin op” machines (insofar as I know)!

I felt a constant pressure there; one created by the overinflated egos and expectations mixed with the spirit of karma — positive and negative energy… in spades.

Blackjack — Win $700 during a fifteen minute rush; royal matches at 2.5:1 at least every other… 61 hands won out of 65. Loss of $470 during a ten minute beatdown; dealt two tens, dealer shows “6” — flips over “5” followed by “10.” Losing with a “20” when the dealer shows “6” — that hurts.

When that happens once…

It’s no biggie — and it’s not like I’m going to complain when I’m on the other side of that sort of Blackjack-magic. When bad beats happen like that hand after hand; well, that pile of chips starts to get small and the urge is to play just a little bit bigger — to win back the loss.

That’s generally a bad idea.

That’s probably the time to color up and play something else. Relax a bit… let the dealer “cool off.” People who’ll tell you that “cards have no memory” clearly don’t gamble much in the casino — the cards come in “runs,” and when you’re hot… it’s time to press the bets!

Especially with single or double-deck Blackjack… forget what the “guide” says and the “count.” Even if the deck doesn’t count rich — if you’re still winning each hand, why lower the bets back just because some book might try to tell you to?

Luck is essential. People who “gamble” and try too hard to use a “system” or mathematics generally aren’t having too much fun, win or lose.

It’s called “gambling,” and it’s supposed to be “fun.”

Playing against the house at a casino isn’t a career. The allure of “get rich quick” draws a lot of people to the tables and the slot machines, because, who knows — anyone could hit it big! That’s “luck.”

Many people find out that the dreams of “get-rich-quick” were payed for by a common, opposing reality — “get poor, quick.” The casino does not get so big and so pretty because the house loses regularly. The odds are generally against the player, but it is possible to win… sometimes, even… likely.

So gambling; win or lose, it should be, “have fun doing it.” 

If it’s not fun, spend your money on something else.


A few photos coming soon.