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Sports | Anorak - Part 235

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Sports news, commentary and scores with wit and added value. We compare and contrast the best and worst sports reporting in the mainstream press, blogs, TV and online. We love the English Premier League (Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs, Manchester United and Manchester City) and all things football but we cover cricket, rugby, the Olympics, tennis, golf, F1 and highlights of the sporting year.

C’est Un Cigar

TO a Portuguese casino on the outskirts of Lisbon, where Antonio Nunes, president of the country’s food standards agency, is smoking a cigar.

It is New Year’s Eve. The clock strikes 12, and the new law comes into force banning smoking in cafes, restaurants, bars and, yes, casinos.

Mr Nunes’ agency is responsible for enforcing the smoking ban. Says he: “We will have to look into what is in the law.”

More cigars…And a bonus 

Posted: 4th, January 2008 | In: Sports | Comment


Casinos Healthier Places Than Hospitals

TO the Daily News and news therein that: “If you have a heart attack, you’ve got a better chance of receiving quick lifesaving treatment in a casino than in a hospital, a new study says.”

“Nearly a third of hospital patients whose heart stops beating do not get a potentially livesaving shock from a defibrillator within the recommended two minutes, according to the report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“And a cardiac patient’s survival rate at a hospital is less than the 50% rate among people who collapse at casinos, airports and other locations where defibrillators are handy.”

To the casino…

Posted: 3rd, January 2008 | In: Sports | Comment (1)


The Casino That Turned into A Cigar Bar

FROM the land that invited us to debate the meaning to “sexual relations”, comes a definition of smoking.

In Colorado’s mountain casinos smoking is banned. In Colorado’s mountain casinos, the players are smoking cigars.

Gamblers were still able to light up in the Wild Card Casino in Black Hawk on Tuesday, the first day the ban took effect in casinos in Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek.
You see, the casino is not a casino. No, it is not. The casino is a cigar bar.

Gina Miller, a manager at Wild Card, says the casino has always operated a shop in sells tobacco products, including cigars and cigarettes.

“We’re operating under the law,” says she.

Stephanie Steinberg of Smoke-Free Gaming of Colorado says: “The Wild Card Casino is clearly a casino and has always operated as a casino. If they think they are a cigar bar then they shouldn’t have slot machines or a gaming license for that matter.”

The cigar bar exemption was part of the original statewide smoking ban that took effect in 2006.

You can smoke when you like in your home/office/warship… A Casino Bonus on Anorak

Posted: 3rd, January 2008 | In: Sports | Comment


Top Ten Poker Casinos

THE Top-10 casinos by poker tables.

No, not by the quality of the table – admire the wood; marvel at the green baize; smell the stains – but by the number of tables in any casino.

1. The Commerce Casino, California – 230 poker tables
2. Hawaiian Gardens Casino, Calif. – 130
3. Bicycle Casino, California – 115 tables.
4. Foxwoods Casino, Connecticut – 98 tables
5. The Borgata, Atlantic City – 85 tables
6. Trump Taj, Atlantic City – 71 tables
7. Hollywood Park Casino, California – 67
8. Bellagio, Las Vegas – 65 tables
9. Caesars Palace, Las Vegas – 63 tables
10. Pechanga Resort & Casino, California – 54

Or play online casino and qualify for a bonus

Posted: 2nd, January 2008 | In: Sports | Comment (1)


Star Trek Fan’s Poker Face

STAR Trek fans. Na-noo. Na-noo.

The Poker Anorak brings news from the world of fantasy, sci-fi and meals for one. A Star Trek fan who paid who paid $6000 for a poker-player’s visor worn by the android Data on the TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation has sued Christie’s, claiming the prop is a fake.

Ted Moustakis, of New Jersey, says he began to doubt the authenticity of the visor he bought at auction 2006, after “he brought it to a convention in August to have it autographed by the actor who played Data, Brent Spiner”.

Try not to laugh. This is serious. A man who spends six grand on a piece of TV tat has every right to know he is buying the right piece of tat.

According to the law suit, Spiner told Moustakis that it was not the real deal. Moustakis had paid $200 to have his picture taken with Spiner.

He is claiming – get this – $7million.

As William Shatner said to Trekkies: “Get a life people! Look at you! You’ve turned an enjoyable little job I did as a lark for a few years into a colossal waste of time!”)
Says Moustakis: “When I approached, [Spiner] saw the visor, and he said, ‘That’s not my visor. You bought that at Christie’s’.”

The case continues…

Play casino – and have a nerd-free bonus on Anorak. May the force be with you. Shazzbat! Etc.

Posted: 31st, December 2007 | In: Sports | Comment


New Year’s Eve In Vegas With Paris Hilton

THE Palazzo, Las Vegas, is open.

What is The Palazzo? Why, it’s the newest mega-resort casino on the Las Vegas Strip..

And it’s open in time for a New Year’s Eve celebration.

On Freemont Street, The Doobie Brothers and The Bangles beneath the giant Viva Vision screen.

On the Strip, the theme of the show is “The Best is Yet to Come”. Fireworks will explode from seven hotel rooftops for 8 minute and 20 seconds.

For those of you who want to be indoors, it will csot you $250 to party in The Park, in The Bellagio, $200.00 to listen to what’s left of boy band The Backstreet Boys, and $200 to stand on the sticky carpet at the Luxor and gawp at Paris & Nicky Hilton kind of dancing…

Or stay in. And play online…

Posted: 31st, December 2007 | In: Sports | Comment


Bed And Bored At the Niagara Casino

sink.jpgAN advert for a holiday to Niagara. For those of you not cold enough, wet enough or bored enough, this is the trip of your dreams.

But this IS Niagara, you say. It rhymes with Viagra. It puts vim and added boost in our flagging life. Niagara is where people go down the waterfall in barrels. They walk over it on tightropes. It’s the top falls in the world of falls.

And then you get there. And it’s full of amusement arcades, sulky children and parents who know they shouldn’t have bothered.

But the Niagara tourist board presses on, presumably because to advertise a weekend break in Miami would be disloyal: “Niagara getaway packages offer ideal holiday excursions for families and couples.”

And: “From the Winter Festival of Light to New Year’s Eve Niagara Falls, there’s truly no place like Niagara for the holidays.”

But there is hope. There is the Niagara Fallsview Casino. From this venue you can look down on the falls – yes down. You look down on things you pity, belittle and squash beneath your plimsoll. At least your room has a telly.

And if you stay beyond New Year’s Eve you can catch – get this – Kevin Costner, along with his band Modern West.

Or stay in, run the tap on full and play Casino online  – with the Anorak bonus

Posted: 21st, December 2007 | In: Sports | Comments (3)


Censoring Casino And Poker Adverts Does Not Work

simpsons-poker.jpgWHAT would happen if a minor were exposed to an advert for online poker?

Very possibly, the child would ignore it, more interested in the surrounding adverts for sugar, toys and debt consolidation services.

But if the child is a 9-year-old girl watching The Simpsons in the later afternoon or early
evening, and her father is New Zealand’s Problem Gambling Foundation chief executive John Stansfield, there will be ramifications.

TV3, which broadcasts the advert, says it has done nothing wrong. The commercial was “vetted by the Television Commercials Approval Bureau which pre-screens all TV ads before they go to air, in line with the Advertising Standards Authority guidelines”.

As reported: “Mr Stansfield said the commercial encouraged young people to think poker was a game of skill, and that they could become stars if they practised enough.”

Is this wrong? Poker requires skill, if you are to win over time. Anyone can get lucky in one tournament. But to make a living from poker over a period of years requires know how and, dare we say. practice.

Says Mr Stansfield: “My daughter spotted it. She’s 9. She was watching The Simpsons. There were people with great ball-playing skills, and suddenly it switched to poker playing. We have been trying to get the Department of Internal Affairs to do something about it, but TV3 should pull it themselves.”

Right it is that protections are in place. But is there not an argument against banning things, something that can make the prohibited appear glamorous and attractive to the young and impressionable..?

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Posted: 20th, December 2007 | In: Sports | Comment (1)


Drew Carey On Poker In The US

POKER has a celebrity face. Says American actor and game show host Drew Carey: “Maybe Dallas wouldn’t be ranked as the 34th most dangerous city in America if Dallas police weren’t devoting precious resources to raiding friendly poker games played by veterans.”

Carey is speaking in Reason magazine. “In his latest video for Reason.tv, Drew Carey examines a paramilitary-style raid on a poker game at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1837 in Dallas, which has now been forced to close its doors.”

Says Carey: “Poker is about as American as baseball and apple pie. It was born here in America. Mark Twain loved it. He’s a great American. Until recently, Supreme Court justices had a monthly game. They’re great Americans. You’d think playing poker in a VFW hall would be about as American as anything you could do.”

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink notes: “As a favoured dish of the English, pies were baked in America as soon as the early settlers set up housekeeping on dry land.”

As for Baseball, that’s a British game of rounders, albeit with big gloves and spitting.

Which leaves poker, a card game adapted from French, Persian and British card games.

Cary makes a, er, good point. Poker is an American game, albeit one you cannot play online.

As one legendary American put it: “The British are coming.” And we’re bringing poker…

Posted: 4th, December 2007 | In: Sports | Comment


Casino Tycoon Stanley Ho Buys A Dog Truffle

truf-pig.jpg EVERY year Anorak keeps a close eye out for the giant truffle story.

Often it is filed under “Pig Story”. There are many tabloid pig stories, notably: British Pork Scratching Week; celebrity A adopts Vietnamese pot-bellied pig; Jamie Oliver; A Day In The Life Of Rebecca Loos; pig finds giant truffle, and so on…

But today’s pig/truffle story – a giant white truffle weighing 1.5kg (3.3lb) has been sold for $330,000 (£165,000) at an auction held simultaneously in Macau, London and Florence – turns out to a be dog story.

With pigs now passed off as pet, dogs are moving into pig work. Look out for “Dogs Are The New Pigs”.

This truffle-finding pig-dog belongs to a Mr Luciano Savini’s truffle dog. It’s called Rocco. It works the Pisa truffle manor in northern Italy.

Macau casino owner, Stanley Ho, has bought it, having outbid British artist Damien Hirst and Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi.

Says Mr Savini: “I thought we were going to beat the record, but not to really get to this amount. The biggest truffle of the century and the most expensive truffle of the century. There are no more words to say – it is all very beautiful.”

More truffle news next year…

Posted: 2nd, December 2007 | In: Sports | Comment (1)


UK Casino Wins Carbuncle Award

glasgow-town-casino.jpgANOTHER day and to another starry awards do – this one for Prospect architecture magazine’s Carbuncle awards.

And know that Coatbridge town centre, North Lanarkshire, is Scotland’s most awful place according to the Carbuncle awards.

And the worst building is the casino on Glasgow’s Springfield Quay.

With casinos often neon palaces of lights, stardust and singers of yesteryear, housed in brick and paste tributes to Venice, Olde England and New York New York, it is encouraging to see that in the UK you can still produce a quintessential British venue…

Posted: 26th, November 2007 | In: Sports | Comment (1)


Blackpool Loses Casino Bid And Sinks

donkey.jpgTHE Blackpool Citizen has news of a “town hall slanging match”. Council activities are often dull affairs. But Blackpool is out of season and the locals are making their own entertainment.

The argument is over the future of conference facilities for Blackpool.

As reported, Councillor Doug Green, leader of the Lib Dems, wants new facilities. But the idea was shot down by opposition groups.

Council leader, Coun. Peter Callow, says: “The whole motion is utter nonsense, the timing is ridiculous. For a start there are still two years to run on the Leisure Parcs deal [owners of the Winter Gardens arena], and the Government have said that Blackpool needs a tramway system, a museum and a conference centre, and that they are going to help us achieve that. I don’t see Gordon Brown reneging on that at the moment.”

No, of course, Gordon Brown never changes his mind. It’s more of a blame-shifting exercise followed by a period of consultation, and ultimately openness. But what has this to do with casinos?

Well, Mr Callow says of the Lib Dem group: “They tried to smash our super-casino bid, which would have included a new conference centre, by supporting Manchester. It is an outrage they are now bringing this motion forward.”

“Total rubbish,” says Mr Green, saying only one party member objected to the super-casino, and it wasn’t him.

But we are wasting time. In the Sun, Dr John Collins, of Lancashire Climate Change Partnerships, says: “If you look at the worst-case scenario for existing climate sea-level predictions, a huge chunk of the west side of Lancashire ends up underwater.”

So Blackpool goes under. Someone get the lights…

Posted: 22nd, November 2007 | In: Sports | Comments (4)


Anika Wins Casino Pole Dance Invitational

OVER at the Mirage Hotel and Casino, the dress close is strict: bikinis only.

Inside the casino’s JET nightclub 25 bikini-clad contestants are taking part on the Pole-A-Palooza championships. To the best pole dancer, the spoils. To the worst, a very nasty looking rash and a slipped disc.

The winner is Anika, who won the top prize of $10,000 and a lifetime supply of poles….

Posted: 22nd, November 2007 | In: Sports | Comment (1)


A Casino To Surive Global Warming

FOR those of you who harbour dreams of owning a river boat, news from Canada.

Gateway Casinos is about to move its New Westminster casino from the Royal City Star riverboat to a land venue.

So the boat is redundant. The stern-wheeler can be yours for $5-million – ideal for Al Goreans and Noah Labour types worried about the impending flood…

Posted: 21st, November 2007 | In: Sports | Comment


England To Be Undone By Slaven Bilic’s Poker Face

IF poker has any part of play in England’s game against Croatia, Steve McLaren’s team are doomed.

Blessed with all the guile of Phil Collins in a thong, England could be undone by Slavin Billic.

The former West Ham defender is no mug punter. Alvin Martin, Bilic’s former West Ham team-mate, says of the Croatian manager: “He was great at gaming tables. In many ways that was where he was most at home – poker, mainly.”

Martin goes on to tell the Mail: “He had incredible bottle, an amazing ability to bluff…”

News of Bilic’s bluffing will come as little surprise to Laurent Blanc who missed the 1998 World Cup final against Brazil after being suspended for two matches for breathing in Bilic’s direction…

Posted: 21st, November 2007 | In: Sports | Comment (1)


War On Terror Bingo: Eyes Down…

airport-security.jpgTWO fat ladies… Excess Baggage!

News reaches the Casino Anorak that flyers aboard British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Airlines jets will soon be playing bingo.

Last year, passengers aboard Delta Airlines were invited to play Texas Hold ‘Em, but only on US domestic flights. With US protectionionism rife, BA and Singapore Airlines are prevented from offering the service on flights into and out of America.

But let’s play. And what with the current security situation, we need a new lingo for the bingo. Eyes down:

Is that gun? – number one
Blame the Jew – number two
WMD – number three
Shock and awe – number four
Bin Laden alive – number five
Hans Blix – number six
Virgins in heaven – number seven
Free Kuwait – number 8
Rumsfeld’s line – number 9
Al Qaeda’s den – number 10

House!

Posted: 19th, November 2007 | In: Sports | Comments (2)


New Frontier Casino for Cold Women And Dirty Beer

frontier.jpgTHE Casino And Bonus Obliteration Operation Module (CABOOM!) claims another victim.

After the death of The Stardust hotel-casino, the New Frontier casino on the north end of the Vegas Strip is now so much dust and bits of cement and plastic.

The casino-hotel that once carried the sign proclaiming “Dirty Women, Cold Beer” is gone.

The 16-story hotel tower will be missed for its Cold Women, Dirty Beer (we know someone who went).

The New Frontier was the place where Elvis Presley made his Las Vegas debut. It was Vegas’ first theme casino, a pioneer with a cowboy village theme. With bikini bull riding.

Do we miss it already?

Posted: 13th, November 2007 | In: Sports | Comment (1)


America’s ‘Bald Protectionism’ And Hypocrisy Over Online Casino

OVER there, in America, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is looking at online poker. He has considered the game from all angles and thinks it would be best if anyone caught playing online were jailed for two-years and fined $25,000 fine.

The idea is mooted in a bill whose larger purpose is to allow for three new casinos in Massachusetts.

Patrick’s fellow Democrat, U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, who is sponsoring federal legislation to license and regulate online gambling nationally, asks: “Why is gambling in a casino OK and gambling on the Internet is not?”

There is an easy answer. And David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, tells the Boston Globe: “If you were cynical about it, you’d think that they’re trying to set up a monopoly for the casinos.”

Reason magazine’s Radley Balko writes of Patrick: “I’ve seen the same politician push bricks-and-mortar casinos in one bill while restricting online gambling in another.”

Is the position confused? Balko says states like Texas, Illinois, and Virginia have cracked down on private gambling and poker games while spending millions promoting lottery scratch-offs with card-playing and poker themes. The writer senses evidence of Patrick’s “bald protectionism”.

Anti-competition laws… In America? Never!

Posted: 13th, November 2007 | In: Sports | Comments (2)


Casino News: One-Legged Bandit Strikes Rachel Hunter

DESPITE giving her all in a tight bodice and heels, Penny Lancaster has been dismissed from the Strictly Come Dancing pro-celebrity dance troop amid controversial scenes, of a force not witnessed since last week.

With a high kick that renders games of leap frog with shorter husband Rod Stewart a forgone conclusion, Penny looked capable. And now we read that Rachel Hunter, tall ex-wife of crooner Rod Stewart, is the victim of an “unprovoked attack” at Melbourne’s Crown Casino, Australia.

The Melbourne Herald Sun sees Hunter walking through the foyer of Crown Towers “when a woman ran up behind her and kicked her in the back – knocking Hunter to the floor – before sprinting off”.

Kicked in the back… And then sprinted off… You’d need long legs to reach Hunter’s back. Most of us would only manage to strike her in the buttocks or the back of the knee. And you’d need to be fit to run.

We wonder…

Meanwhile, a woman has been arrested and taken to Royal Melbourne Hospital for a psychological assessment.

Posted: 12th, November 2007 | In: Sports | Comments (3)


Casino: How To Wynn In Macau

ALWAYS good when doing business in foreign lands to know the cultural nuances. Better yet to know them and adhere to them.

So here’s billionaire casino developer Steve Wynn speaking at the Charles Schwab IMPACT 2007 conference. Wynn is the chief executive of Wynn Resorts, which operates a casino-resort in the Chinese special administrative region of Macau.

As he said, and as the Associated Press reported it: “That imbecile Mao Zedong almost ruined that country.”

Wynn went on to clarify his remarks, saying: “I said the Cultural Revolution almost ruined the country. It was imbecilic. I didn’t call him an imbecile, I said it was imbecilic.”

See above.

Posted: 1st, November 2007 | In: Sports | Comments (7)


Strip Casino

THE Daily’s Star’s Page 3 Girl Malene brings news. She has made her TV debut.

Lights down and send granny from the room as Malene appears on Red Hot Roulette. Malene is our ‘Lass Vegas’, two parts of show fronted by Naomi Millbank-Smith.

Says Naomi: “It is my first presenting job and it is live with no autocue so I made sure I swotted up on all the rules and increased my casino knowledge.”

Knowing when to say “black” and when to say “red” and both recognising and reading numbers ranging all the way from zero to 36 is the challenge. Naomi is up for it.
All that remains for you to transform your hovel into a Las Vegas casino is to put Celine Dion on the stereo and grab your chips.

And to increase your chances of winning, the channel is split into Red Hot Amateur, Red Hot All Girl and for older players Red Hot 40 Plus…

Posted: 30th, October 2007 | In: Sports | Comment


Casino Refuses To Pay Out Million Jackpot

GARY Hoffman is at the nickel slot machines at the Sandia Resort and Casino on an Indian reservation in New Mexico. It is Aug. 16, 2006 He hits the button. Wheels spin.

“I became ecstatic,” he says. He has just won $1,597,244.10 playing the Mystical Mermaid.

There is much cheering. A man or woman asks for his wallet in marriage. He declines. Why tie himself down. The winner walks home with about $385 and a few free meals at the casino.

“I won money, fair and square, and I’ve been cheated out of my winnings,” Hoffman tells ABC News.

The casino says not. It claims it offered Hoffman the maximum payout of $2,500 for that particular machine. Hoffman says that the machine went into bonus play. The casino says not. The big win was not real. It was a computer error. Thank you, Mr Hoffman, for alerting us to the faulty machine. Enjoy the buffet. Easy on the salmon.

Hoffman is less than delighted. He says a casino employee “became quite intimidating with me, pointed his finger in my face and said, ‘You didn’t win. We’re not paying you any money. Do you understand what I’m telling you? You’re not getting any money.’”

The machine was checked. A technical report showed that the machine’s memory malfunctioned, causing the slot to view a losing spin as a winner. Hoffman had won an “erroneous jackpot.”

“If he had gone into a bank and deposited $1,000 and got back a deposit slip that said a million dollars, he doesn’t get to keep the balance,” says Paul Bardacke, Sandia’s lawyer. “It doesn’t work that way. He knew it was wrong; he knew it was incorrect. That’s why he took a picture of it immediately.”

Hoffman appealed through the tribe’s internal review process but – shock of shocks – he lost. Then he took the casino to court.

But we learn that a jury may never get chance to hear Hoffman’s case. Native American tribes are treated as independent nations. New Mexico law generally does not allow tribes to be sued in a state court over a contract dispute, says Jeremy Kleiman, vice chairman of the commercial gaming subcommittee of the American Bar Association.

Hoffman’s lawyer sees things differently. Says Sam Bregman: “They spent millions of dollars getting these customers, these gamblers, to come in and gamble money, then when someone hits it big, they say, ‘Sorry, we are not going to pay you. The jury is going to be outraged by that.”

Mr Hoffman is single…

Posted: 25th, October 2007 | In: Sports | Comment (1)


The Chumbolone Casino: Gambling In Chicago

THE British Government’s attitude to casinos has been well documented. To recap: casinos are popular and the politicos would like a slice of the action. Casinos will raise money for the Treasury.

And news reaches the Casino Anorak of official goings on in Chicago. The city’s Mayor Richard Daley says he’d like City Hall to own a gigantic casino, “with all the contracts overseen by the city’s gaming board, whose members are chosen by the mayor himself”.

All hail the Chumbolone Casino.

The Chicago Tribune’s John Kass notes: “A casino with all the contracts and jobs and deals hidden from public view should be named for all of us chumbolones who believe taxes will decrease if the casino is built.” Chumbolense, we learn, is a term meaning “stupid idiot”.

Kass tells us the word was coined by Chicago Outfit loan shark and former Chicago Police Officer Anthony “Twan” Doyle. As reported, “Twan was convicted in Family Secrets for passing key information on an Outfit murder to Calabrese’s brother, Frank Calabrese Sr., while the FBI was recording their conversations.”

(Yes, the FBI – the organisation once overseen by Joseph Navarro, king of the tells. Calabrese was a hit man-turned-government witness.)

And who will run the casino? There will be jobs. And while there will be jobs picking up coins, parking cars and cleaning the toilets, there are other jobs in a more organisational capacity.

Kass looks over the CVs and suggests:
Robert Sorich – “the mayor’s former patronage boss, was convicted in federal court as part of a scheme that rigged city job applications to illegally build massive patronage armies for the mayor, in direct violation of a federal court order. Sorich is appealing his conviction on mail fraud.”

Raymond ‘Rayjo’ John Tominello – “Rayjo tutored under the famous Don ‘The Wizard of Odds’ Angelini and Dominic Cortina, the Chicago Outfit’s top bookies back in the 1980s, and he pleaded guilty to being one of their top lieutenants and went to prison for his crimes”

Says Jim Wagner, president of the Chicago Crime Commission: “You’ll end up having to pay a tax for all the corruption that will be brought into play, with the contracts, with the sweetheart deals, with the ghost employees and, history has shown, with the corruption of government and law enforcement.”

Meanwhile, over in the UK…

Pic: Beau Bo D’Or

Posted: 25th, October 2007 | In: Sports | Comments (5)


Joseph Navarro FBI Training Tells At Poker

THIS in the Telegraph: “A former FBI spy catcher has transferred his

behaviour-reading skills to the equally devious world of international poker.”

Did you know, for instance, the “hunched posture” indicates insecurity and that “joggling legs” suggest confidence. Joseph Navarro does. You may think an inability to control your limbs to be symptomatic of restless leg syndrome or too much caffeine. A hunched posture could be the product of a bad kebab or an advanced peptic ulcer.

“The involuntary non-verbal mannerisms will always betray a player’s hand,” says the caption beneath a shot of cards on a poker baize. Or, as we say, involve medial staff.

Mr Navarro, readers learn, was one of the world’s leading experts on behaviour and was involved in “virtually every US spy investigation between 1993 and 2003, including those of the double agents Aldrich Ames and Robert Hansen”.

Now he’s an instructor at the World Series of Poker Academy. He teaches players how to capture their opponent in a wire net and then transport them in a disguised meat wagon to a remote location in the Nevada Desert. Not, not really (although we have to enrol on his course, and cannot be certain). Navarro teaches professional players how to read their opponents.

Says our man with his finger on your pulse: “The involuntary non-verbal mannerisms dictated by the brain will always betray the strength or weakness of a player’s hand.”

The tells – bouncing “happy feet” of a player who is feeling good, “possibly because he has a strong hand”. Indeed. Navarro is good.

“The opposite – a weak hand – is conveyed by pursed lips, a crinkled nose and squinty eyes.” Aha! Genius. Or a head cold.

Says Navarro: “If your boss asks at a meeting, ‘Who is not pulling their weight?’, the shoulders will rise on those who are not confident. It’s called ‘The Turtle Effect’. You are trying to hide your head inside your shoulders.”

Oh, yes. Turtles are famously crap workers. Navarro makes a valid point.

But be warned: “Mr Navarro acknowledged that his techniques can also be used to mislead other players who know the same signals.”

And you may really have an ulcer…

Posted: 23rd, October 2007 | In: Sports | Comments (7)


Casino: Aspinalls And The Whale

FOUAD al-Zayat is nicknamed The Fat Man. He is a “whale”. We have no picture to hand of Syrian-born Mr al-Zayat and cannot say if this nom-de-guerre is founded on fact or irony.

But he is in the news. In spring of this year the High Court ruled that Mr al-Zayat must pay his gambling losses to London private members’ club Aspinalls.

Mr al-Zayat has been a customer of Aspinalls. In more than 600 visits, he bought £91m worth of gaming chips. He has lost more than £23m of them.

Mr al-Zayat was less than pleased with the ruling. The story goes that he stopped a cheque over a game which he thought unfair. He had asked that the croupier at his blackjack table be changed. He was told there was nobody else available. He later found this to be untrue. He owed £2million. He had written a cheque for the amount. And was then displeased enough to have the cheque stopped.

Al-Zayat claims the cheque was undated. He returned to the club and went on to lose over £10million over the next couple of years.

Aspinalls made limited attempts to recover the £2m until three days before the six-year validity of a cheque would have expired. Mr Zayat claimed that by not moving faster on the cheque, the club had broken the law against giving credit for gambling.

Lord Justice Sedley says: “Aspinalls, instead of burning their bridges with Mr al-Zayat by suing him on his cheque, permitted him for another six years to go on gambling so that he could lose millions more pounds to them. Then, at the last permissible minute, they sued him.”

Lord Justice Sedley says the matter “reflects no credit on either of them”. No pun intended…

Posted: 23rd, October 2007 | In: Sports | Comment