Digital Rodeo To Host 2nd Annual Andy Griggs Celebrity Poker Tournament

June 30, 2010

  • Andy Griggs

    DIGITAL RODEO is set to sponsor the 2nd Annual ANDY GRIGGS CELEBRITY POKER TOURNAMENT, which will be held THURSDAY (6/10) at the CADILLAC RANCH in DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE. The tournament kicks off at 2p (CT).


    All tournament winnings benefit charity organizations, including ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S RESEARCH HOSPITAL and the victims of the recent MIDDLE TENNESSEE floods. All winnings from the poker tournament are for charity purposes only. No gambling is permitted.

    Blackjack and craps available to the public as part of the event. Poker chips are provided as part of the entry fee. An acoustic guitar pull will follow the tournament at 5p (CT), and an online auction will be held as well.

    For more information and to view GRIGGS’ online video series of poker tips, visit

  • Digital Rodeo To Host 2nd Annual Andy Griggs Celebrity Poker Tournament

    PokerNews Op-Ed: The 2010 WSOP Tournament of Champions, Where it's 2004 All …

    June 30, 2010

    2010 June 27, Nicole Gordon

    There’s a reason democracy is difficult. Whether it’s a presidential election, the finals of American Idol or the World Series of Poker’s Tournament of Champions, we don’t always get the results we want. Just ask supporters of John McCain, Crystal Bowersox, or any of the dozens of young poker legends-in-the-making who have recently found themselves on the wrong end of the ballot box.

    Your average poker fan was probably not too surprised at the results of the voting for the 2010 WSOP Tournament of Champions. After all, it is a wall-to-wall collection of pros that came to prominence in the salad days of televised poker. However, for the “inside the beltway” crowd around the Rio and on poker forums across the world, the results were more than a little disappointing. Heck, I was disappointed myself, especially after undertaking such a painstaking process when it came to casting my ballot. Where were the young superstars; the Jason Merciers and J.C. Trans of the poker world? Where were the European players like Peter Eastgate or Max Pescatori? And hold on a minute ? Sammy Farha made the Top 20? Had he not reappeared in Las Vegas and won a bracelet a few weeks ago, Farha would be the true “WTF?” pick on this list. Seriously, Farha but not Chris Moneymaker? In case you’ve all forgotten, he’s the reason most of us in the Amazon Room are here right now.

    Instead of representing the champions of today’s game, the lineup for the 2010 TOC is a throwback to the poker world of six years go. Back then, Howard Lederer actually had to play poker for a living and even won a few tournaments. Now he needs to make seven-figure bracelet bets simply to keep himself interested in grinding it out for another day at the Rio. The last time Lederer won an open event with a field size over 25 players was in April 2004, yet he made it in with votes to spare. Johnny Chan may have ten bracelets and two Main Event titles, but he has hardly been a presence at the WSOP this year. Chan has played only two events so far and the All-In Energy Drink he had been touting for the last several years at the Series has been conspicuously missing from the tables this summer along with him.

    Additionally, a pair of players whom I wouldn’t even consider casting a vote for because of some inappropriate personal behavior at the WSOP made the Top 20. T.J. Cloutier infamously pawned one of his bracelets earlier this year before Cake Poker graciously bought it back for him. Should that type of blatant disregard for the bracelet really be rewarded with a ticket to a million-dollar freeroll? With the drunken buffoonery he displayed during his 2008 Player’s Championship win, Scotty Nguyen disgraced the very legend of Chip Reese that the tournament honors and celebrates. Should simple popularity trump the kind of disrespect for his opponents Nguyen showed that night?

    But like I said before, in an election, your candidate doesn’t always win. And in this particular election, there was only one requirement for candidacy: win a bracelet. Therefore, if 5,130 people had mobilized and voted in Russ Hamilton, he’d be taking a seat this afternoon instead of 20th-place vote-getter Antonio Esfandiari. That’s right. 5,130 votes. As one two-time bracelet winner told me on the day the lineup was announced, “If I knew then that 5,000 votes was all it took, I’d have worked a lot harder to get in. I thought I was drawing dead.”

    In the first year of public voting, mainstream visibility proved to be the key to winning a TOC seat. It wasn’t social media campaigns or viral videos that earned these 20 players their votes (although Jennifer Harman’s YouTube campaign did reveal her to be quite the comedienne). It was the sort of visibility garnered from years of television exposure that pushed up one’s vote total. A whopping 65% of the players who were voted in have appeared or are currently appearing in a television commercial for an online poker site (Harman, Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, Chris Ferguson, Allen Cunningham, John Juanda, Erik Seidel, Howard Lederer, Joe Hachem, Greg Raymer, and Esfandiari).

    So how did my own picks fare? Six of the 20 players I voted for got in (Brunson, Negreanu, Seidel, Cunningham, Juanda, and Greenstein). Not to disparage any of those six ? they are all obvious legends of the game and more than deserving of their seats ? but if I were to do it all over again, I probably would have shifted more of my votes to the lesser-known players who ended up really needing them. I’m still a fan of having a public vote decide a portion of the TOC field, but I suppose I just wish that the players coming of age on television today had the audiences their predecessors did. Perhaps in future editions of the TOC, the field of bracelet winners could be narrowed in some manner to better reward more recent World Series of Poker accomplishments. Confining the ballot to even the last five years of bracelet winners would still result in a lot of the TV-friendly, popular players getting a nod. Negreanu and Juanda won bracelets in 2008. Seidel, Cunningham and Hellmuth scored wins in 2007. And Phil Ivey won his eighth bracelet only a few days ago. However, some of the more recent champions like Brock Parker, Eric Baldwin, and Jason Mercier might have a fighting chance of getting voted in under such a scenario.

    2003–2005 was the heyday of televised poker. It’s when the ratings were highest, the game’s popularity was at its zenith, advertising dollars flowed freely, and the UIGEA wasn’t a glimmer in anyone’s eye. This year’s TOC field is in one way a nostalgic look back to that era of post-boom poker but also a very contemporary reminder that by in large, these are still the faces poker fans want to see. And with a Day 1 ESPN featured table that includes a brother-sister duo, an outspoken Canadian, two World Champions, a craps degenerate, a magician, a Frenchman fond of loud sparkly hoodies, and a man who never met a bottle of Michelob Ultra he didn’t like, it should at least be entertaining.

    PokerNews will be following the Tournament of Champions from wire to wire. Check out all the updates right here in our WSOP live reporting pages.

    The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions PokerNews

    PokerNews Op-Ed: The 2010 WSOP Tournament of Champions, Where it's 2004 All …

    Confusion over use of welfare debit cards at casinos

    June 30, 2010

    In the wake of a newspaper story that found California welfare recipients could use their cards in a majority of the 57 casinos in the state, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger moved to ensure the ATMs at the casinos no longer accept the cards.

    But a spokesman for the governor said Monday that it could be several weeks before the welfare cards are deactivated at the gambling establishments.

    “We said we need to prohibit these cards from being used in casinos,” said Governor’s spokesman Aaron McLear. “They’re going through the process of reprogramming them now.”

    Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, said it is “deeply disturbing” that welfare recipients are using the debit cards to gamble. Casinos are “taking advantage of folks that are on welfare and allowing them to use welfare debit cards to gamble and lose at the tables and slots,” said Huffman.

    “Already, people view casinos as preying on the poor. This only fuels the perception,” he said.

    He also said it is upsetting that it was allowed to happen at all.

    “It clearly tells us we have some work to do and ought to take some simple, but firm steps right away to make sure it never happens again,” he said.

    After last week’s publication of a Los Angeles Times story on the topic, state officials acknowledged welfare recipients used the debit cards to withdraw more than $1.8 million in taxpayer cash in casinos and card rooms between October 2009 and last month.

    The cards provided by the Department of Social Services are intended to help recipients feed and clothe their families.

    The “Electronic Benefit Transfer cards” function like a debit card that allows welfare recipients to buy food. But they also can get cash under the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

    The amount withdrawn at casinos is a very small fraction of more than $6 billion in cash distributed annually in California for the Needy Families program. The majority of the funds come from the federal government, but state and local governments also contribute.

    The state Department of Social Services contracts with a private ATM network to handle the electronic transfer of benefits to people on welfare. Officials said they only found out taxpayer money was being withdrawn from gambling halls after being notified by the L.A. Times investigation.

    Mclear said the system of paying welfare benefits using bank cards was instituted under Schwarzenegger predecessor Gray Davis, who followed the practice of other states.

    The addresses of the casino and cardrooms are listed on the state’s Department of Social Services website that allows welfare recipients to search for ATMs where they can withdraw their cash allowance. That typically ranges up to $694 a month for a family of three.

    The ATMs allow a maximum of $300 cash back in most cases.

    Typically, only the street addresses are shown for the gambling halls. They include four North Coast tribal casinos: River Rock near Geyserville; Konocti Vista in Lakeport; Robinson Rancheria in Nice; and Black Bart in Willits.

    The address of the 101 Casino in Petaluma, a licensed cardroom, is also listed.

    Officials from just two of those businesses returned phone calls from The Press Democrat seeking comment. In both instances, officials expressed surprise that the ATMs, which are owned by other companies, can be used by welfare recipients to access benefits.

    River Rock casino officials said they are against welfare recipients gambling. “The casino does not own the ATMs, but we’ve talked to the vendor, Global Cash Access, and we absolutely oppose the use of welfare cards at River Rock,” Chief Executive David Fendrick said in a statement.

    “In fact, our cashiers do not accept any government checks — welfare checks, Social Security checks, or tax refund checks — or any payroll or third-party checks,” he said.

    Global Cash Access Inc. of Las Vegas, has ATMs in casino around the country, but denied that the welfare cards work in their machines, including the one listed at River Rock.

    “These cards aren’t supported in our machines,” said Scott Dowty, a Global Cash executive vice-president. “We’ve never approved an EBT transaction.”

    He said an audit going back almost a year confirms that, but he said it hasn’t stopped welfare card holders from attempting to use them in the company’s ATMs.

    “We have had thousands of attempts on our system this year to approve EBT cards and all were declined,” he said. “We never want to approve a transaction with someone who may have a gambling problem, or is using a welfare card. It’s not a business we want to be part of,” he said.

    At Konocti Vista Casino in Lake county, another ATM network accepts the EBT cards, according to the state’s website. But casino officials there expressed surprise.

    “We had no knowledge EBT cards are even accepted,” said Mickey Burke, general manager of Konocti Vista.

    He said it wasn’t until the publicity surfaced about the misuse of the welfare cards at the casinos “that we checked it and found out.”

    He said it is ultimately up to the state to make sure welfare recipients cannot use the debit cards in a casino, but said “my finance people are looking into it, to see if we can have it cut off before the state does.”

    The EBT cards can be used in tens of thousands of ATM locations and only about 150 are in casinos and cardrooms, according to the governor’s spokesman McLear.

    “It’s a small percentage of the money used in programs,” he said of the welfare money withdrawn in gambling halls.

    But given the state’s fiscal deficit, it’s significant.

    “In a budget where you’re making cuts across the board, every dollar counts,” he said.

    Assemblyman Huffman said even though it’s only a small minority of welfare recipients who are abusing the debit cards at casinos, “it’s something we should have zero tolerance for.”

    The California welfare and food stamp programs “help people in need in a very genuine way. If you have a few of these incidents, it really does erode public confidence,” he said.

    Confusion over use of welfare debit cards at casinos

    Free admission for military personnel at Boca art museum

    June 29, 2010

    FREE ADMISSION AT THE BOCA RATON MUSEUM OF ART: More than 600 museums across America will offer free admission to all active duty military personnel and their immediate family members (military ID holder and five immediate family members), which includes active duty Reserve and active duty National Guard, through Labor Day . Visit for museum hours. The complete list of participating Blue Star Museums is available at Part of Blue Star Museums, a partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families and museums. (561) 392-2500.

    ‘THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE: AS GAY AS IT WAS BLACK’ EXHIBITION: Though Wednesday, Florida Atlantic University’s Stonewall Library Museum, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton. An exhibition about Harlem’s artistic movement and some of its leading gay, lesbian and bisexual participants. The Harlem Renaissance, which occurred during the 1920s and 1930s, shaped black culture for generations and influenced American society. The library will host two events related to the exhibition in June, which is national Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. (561) 297-3770. (561) 297-3921.

    DISPLAYS ‘MYSTERIES OF NATURE’ – THE WORK OF PHOTOGRAPHER PAUL CAPONIGRO: Through July 3, Palm Beach Photographic Centre, 415 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. Fifty images curated by Caponigro that feature a cross section of 40 years’ worth of work. (561) 253.2600. or

    FERRUCCIO GARD EMOTIONS IN COLOR: A COLLECTION OF ABSTRACT PAINTINGS: Through Wednesday, Taglialatella Galleries, 313 1?2 Worth Ave., Via Bice, Palm Beach. Part of Taglialatella Galleries Summer Artist Series. The exhibition highlights the mature phase paintings of Ferrucci Gard, a preeminent modernist celebrated for his exquisite mastery of color. His work, grounded in the purity of historical non-objective modernism, has evolved over the decades and been associated with the Kinetic art movement of the 1970s and the Neo-objective school of the 1980s. Features 11 original canvases from the artist’s mature phase, the late 1990s. (561) 833-4700.

    VANISHING FLORIDA – A TRAVELING PHOTOGRAPHIC EXHIBITION: Through Aug. 12, at the Jan and Gary Dario Gallery at Palm Beach State College, 4200 S. Congress Ave., Lake Worth.l Features the work of Photo Salon, a group of photographers which meets at the Armory Art Center. Photographers include Greg Allikas, Emalee Andre, Patti Boxold, Don Durfee, Pat Festino, Kurt Hammerstein, Marie MArzi, Dori McKearn, David Mendelow, Ray Neubert, Carol-Ann Rogus, Elle Schorr, Jackee Swinson, Robert Swinson, Ted Tribolati and Robert Vail. (561) 868-3270 or 868-3909.

    BEYOND THE FIGURE: ABSTRACT SCULPTURE IN THE NORTON COLLECTION: Through Sept. 5, Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach. A follow-up to “Off the Wall: The Human Form in Sculpture,” more than 20 sculptures are gathered and organized around such themes as “Lines,” “Assemblages” and “Vessels.” Sol Lewitt’s modular white cube sculpture and a Howard Ben Tre cast glass and bronze pseudo-architectural element sculpture are featured in “Lines.” “Assemblages” features typical wood constructions works by Louise Nevelson. “Vessels” is anchored by a group of seven Macchia by Dale Chihuly and Ursula Von Rydingsvard’s gigantic carved-cedar bowl. (561) 832-5196.

    TWO NEW EXHIBITS AT THE BOCA MUSEUM OF ART: Through Aug. 8, Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real in Mizner Park, Boca Raton. (561) 392-2500.

    • 59th Annual All Florida Juried Competition and Exhibition: The annual contest and exhibition drew 1,398 submissions from artists around the state. This year’s juror, Linda Norden, selected 91 artworks – paintings, sculpture, photography, videos and installations – by 80 artists.
    • Boca Raton Museum Artists’ Guild Biennial Exhibition: A juried exhibition for the professional artist members of the Boca Raton Museum Artists’ Guild is held every two years during the companion competition, the All Florida Juried Competition and Exhibition. A wide range of work will be presented which showcases the membership’s depth of talent.

    GICL…E PRINTS OF CARMEN LAGOS AND GUSTAVO CASTILLO: Through July 31, Highland Beach Library, 3618 Ocean Blvd., Highland Beach. (561) 278-5455.

    GLASS & JEWELRY EXHIBITION: Through July 9, Armory Art Center, 1700 Parker Ave., West Palm Beach. Featuring works by Armory glass and jewelry instructors Jose Cancio, Rishar Miranda, Camille Perrin, Theo Sable and their students. (561) 832-1776.

    ART FOR EVERYONE! EXHIBIT: Through Sept. 13, Delray Beach Public Library, 100 W. Atlantic Ave. Artists from Studio D Fine Art, an artist collective, display digital art, etchings, mixed media, water color, oil paintings, acrylics, charcoal and pastel. Artists include Jeff Harris, Johanna Boccardo, Jon Lane and A.J. Levin. (561) 266-9490.

    CITY HISTORY OF PALM BEACH GARDENS EXHIBIT: Through July 8, City Hall Lobby, 10500 N. Military Trail. GardensArt, in partnership with the Palm Beach Gardens Historical Society, presents a display of historical photographs and memorabilia. (561) 630-1100.

    ILAND VIEWS – A DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION BY KARI AND JEAUX MCCROMICK: Through Aug. 31, PBSC Eissey Campus Theatre Lobby Gallery, 3160 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens. Kari and Jeaux McCormick’s constant search for beautiful places, azure blue seas, and endless skies and their attention to detail along with architectural lines are captured in both film and digital photography. (561) 207-5905.

    THE FAIRYTALE PROJECT – AN EXHIBITION FEATURING THE ART OF ILLUSTRATOR JACKLYN LAFLAMME: Through July 24, Lighthouse Center for the Arts, Gallery Square North, 373 Tequesta Drive, Tequesta. Journey into an enchanted forest full of magical trees, whimsical creatures and fanciful paintings by this children’s book illustrator. Each painting is accompanied by storybook text viewers can read as they wander through the magical land. Meet the author and illustrator at a reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 17. (561) 746-3101 or

    THE CORNELL MUSEUM REOPENS WITH STUFF II: THE JOY OF COLLECTING: Through Sept. 25, Cornell Museum of Art & American Culture, 51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach. Approximately 50 area collectors loaned their treasured items to this exhibit, including décor, glass, household items, sports memorabilia, comic books, antique tools, women’s accessories, 19th-century greeting and trade cards, toys, vintage table-top slot machines and jukeboxes, duck decoys, lighthouses, baseball cards and other collectibles. (561) 243-7922.

    THE 2010 “PICTURE MY WORLD” EXHIBIT: Palm Beach Photographic Centre, 415 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. The exhibit features the work of 24 amateur photographers which illustrates their concerns about the environment, nature and their power – or lack of power – to do something about current changes. About 70-75 photographs, accompanied by journal entries, are in two categories: One by elementary students ages 8-12, and the other by teens ages 13-18. (561) 253-2600.

    MULTIPLE SINS: Through Sept. 25, Lighthouse Center for the Arts, Gallery Square North, 373 Tequesta Drive, Tequesta. The artwork depicts some of the ’sinful’ things we love most in life, such as chocolate, liquor, cigars and the human form. The exhibition features both juried and invitational artists, including Florida painter Carol Korpi-McKinley with her giant Junk Food paintings, and fine-arts photographer Barry Seidman, with his Drinks and Smoke series. Adults only. A lecture about photography by Barry Seidman is planned for 5:30-7:30 p.m. July 15. For information or to R.S.V.P., call (561) 746-3101.

    DINOTOPIA: THE FANTASTICAL ART OF JAMES GURNEY: Through Sept. 5, Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach. From the soothing, restorative environment of Waterfall City to the hidden wonders of Chandara, author and illustrator James Gurney’s magical world of Dinotopia comes to life in this exhibition that features more than 50 original oil paintings from the illustrated books Dinotopia: A Land Apart From Time, Dinotopia: The World Beneath (1995) and Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara. (561) 832-5196.

    MEMENTO MORI: MIXED MEDIA BY JUDITH BERK KING: Through Sept. 3, The Art Gallery at Eissey Campus Theatre, 3160 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens, Drawings, paintings and ceramic sculptures. Memento Mori is a reminder of death or mortality or of human failures or errors. A reception is 5-8 p.m. Tuesday . Free. (561) 207-5015.

    COMPONENTS OF SELF AND AN INTIMATE ENCOUNTER: Through summer, Schmidt Gallery on FAU’s Boca Raton campus, 777 Glades Road. Features painter Christina Major and ceramic artist Bethany Cohen, 2010 graduates of the MFA program. (561) 297-2966.

    FLOWERS AND BIRDS OF THE SEASONS: CHINESE PAINTINGS AND TEXTILES: Through July 18, Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach. A new installation in the recently revamped Niblack Gallery on the second floor of the Norton’s Nessel Wing features Four imperial-quality textiles of flowers and birds and an album of 12 paintings depicting flowers. The 19th century textile panels were executed in colorful silk floss and glimmering gold-wrapped threads. (561) 832-5196.

    1800s TO 1960s FASHION TREASURES: Museum of Lifestyle & Fashion History, Boynton Beach Mall, 801 N. Congress Ave., Suite 483, Boynton Beach. (561) 243-2662.

    Free admission for military personnel at Boca art museum

    NW Indiana casino appealing $27 million in taxes

    June 29, 2010

    CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) — Local officials say they believe a northwestern Indiana casino might owe $5 million more in back property taxes than previously estimated.

    The owner of Majestic Star is appealing the tax bills for its two Gary casino boats and is paying based on its 2005 assessment.

    Lake County Councilman Larry Blanchard estimates Majestic Star owes at least $27 million in taxes and penalties on 14 parcels dating back to 2006. Blanchard says several parcels don’t appear to be under appeal and on those the casino company owes more than $2 million.

    Majestic Star filed for bankruptcy protection last year. Casino general manager Larry Buck says the company is paying the required tax amounts while its appeals are pending.

    Information from: Post-Tribune,

    NW Indiana casino appealing $27 million in taxes

    PartyPoker Free $50 – No Deposit Required

    June 29, 2010

    2010 June 18, Elaine Chaivarlis

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    Introducing the 2010 Interns' Guide

    June 29, 2010

    You’ve got an awesome gig on the Hill, a sweet pad in a bustling city and three whole months to make your time in Washington count. All you need now is to figure out what to do with your off-hours.

    This is where we come in.

    We’ve compiled guides to point you to the most happening happy hours, free nightlife, cheap eats and city scenes — all of it perfect for the “over 21 but totally underpaid” set. If you’re looking for classic summertime fun, from outdoor movies to winery-hopping, we’ve got that too.

    And if you want to really do Washington like a local? Begin with this checklist, with nine ways to live it up like a true D.C. denizen.

    Soak up the Sun, Washington-Style By “Washington-style,” we really mean “Ways we invented because most of us don’t have backyards, two-story decks or fabulous pools.” Perfect example: The Sunday afternoon Spike’d Sundays parties at the Capitol Skyline pool, where $15 buys you entry to the city’s coolest pool and a burger cooked to perfection on a grill (another thing most of us don’t have). The Beacon Hotel’s rooftop has been buzzing on Sunday afternoons for two summers now, thanks to the party dubbed the Coolout; this year, a rotating cast of the city’s most notable DJs and bands join the mix to keep the free party going strong. But the spectacular view and stylish people don’t hurt, either.

    But parties are only one way to enjoy the outdoors. Rock Creek Park is where we go to picnic (under shade), run and bike, and hey, public pools have their charms, especially the public waterparks in the ‘burbs.

    Street-EatThe obsession with eating food purchased off of moving vehicles has reached a fever pitch. Join in on the collective feasting. Thanks to this fleet of tweeting trucks, you can get banh mi, chicken curry, cupcakes, pizza and even frozen yogurt on the go; this story has everything you need to know about how to find them.

    Have a Drink Unlike Any Other. Worry About the Bill Later. Washington has a handful of amazing mixologists, super-bartenders who pour so much thought (and love) into their drinks, that cocktail fans have come to know them by name. There’s Gina Chersevani, the bartendress at PS 7′s, whose Gnome’s Water cocktail (cucumber water, gin, miscellaneous good stuffs) is the most refreshing summer drink you’ll ever have. Todd Thrasher, the man behind Alexandria’s speakeasy PX, sometimes pulls out an incredible bloody mary that you have to see to believe (it’s clear). Room 11′s Dan Searing is a classic cocktails man, the kind of guy who will pour obscure spirits and offer little history lessons for particularly inquisitive customers. Get the full Searing experience by finding a seat at the bar on a Monday or Tuesday. Here’s the thing to remember: Organic ingredients, fine liquors, handmade bitters — they can all crank up the price of your cocktail to significantly more than your average vodka soda. Expect a D.C. craft cocktail to run you anywhere from $8 to $13. For more, check out this list of food critic Tom Sietsema’s favorite Washington sips.

    (Find plenty of other ideas after the jump.)

    Hit an Art PartyIt’s really enriching to see art and meet new people at a gallery reception — add a little free wine, and you’ve got a pretty great (inexpensive) evening out. Check out this list to get started tonight. Other art parties you shouldn’t miss:

    The opening receptions at Irvine Contemporary on 14th Street NW are fun because of the eclectic crowds they draw. But the gallery’s proximity to bars and clubs (including ChurchKey, Café Saint-Ex, the Black Cat) and restaurants (Masa 14, Bar Pilar, Posto) also make it a great launching point for a night out. The next opening is this Saturday from 6 to 8 p.m.

    The small galleries that dot R Street attract hundreds of 20-somethings once a month for Dupont Circle’s First Friday openings, held, as the name suggests, the first Friday of each month. The one to visit? Hillyer Art Space, where guests linger to hear DJs, chat in the secluded alley and sip beer and wine (a $5 donation is suggested).

    Hirshhorn After Hours is, by far, the biggest art party around; the Smithsonian museum hosts the late-night fete every few months in its massive outdoor terrace space with DJs, projections, dancing, and drinking. It’s so popular, the event (whose tickets hover at $18, not including drinks) is perennially sold out; get tickets in advance for the next installment on July 23.

    And finally, Asia After Dark launched last summer at the Mall’s Asian art museums, the Freer and Sackler galleries. Modeled after After Hours, the bash features DJs, food, performers and a chance to roam a museum on your time. On July 15, New York’s mistress of bhangra, DJ Rekha, will set the vibe for the new exhibition, “Arts of the Indian Subcontinent and the Himalayas.” Good to know: Tickets (priced at $18-$20) include one drink.

    Visit the Top of the Washington Monument (and Other Touristy Locales)We’ve all played tourists in this town at least once. You can stand out from the usual out-of-town crowd by sparing yourself the midday heat and doing your sightseeing by moonlight, when it’s cooler in more ways than one. You can visit most monuments (including the Lincoln and WWII memorials) at all hours of the night, and, frankly, many of them look even more grand when they’re lit from within. In the summer, tours of the Washington Monument are extended till 9:30 p.m. (reserving tickets online is imperative). For more touristy itineraries, check out this story.

    Relive Washington’s Punk Days There are outdoor concerts, and then there is Fort Reno. Free summer concerts have been held for nearly 45 years on the site of this old Civil War fort, where many a D.C. band — including, yes, Fugazi — has taken the stage and overcome heat and bugs to deliver a mind-blowing show. Today, it remains a way to get an overview of the D.C. indie scene (including bands whose members haven’t even started high school yet). The series kicks off June 28. (So far only two dates have been announced: June 28 and July 1, but keep checking back.)

    Watch Fourth of July Fireworks From the Best Vantage Point in the World How to have the most memorable Fourth ever: Enlist at least five friends. Pack a killer picnic (but make it alcohol-free, because booze is banned on the Mall) and a blanket to sit on. While away a few hours eating, people-watching and playing cards, and then, just after 9 p.m., allow yourself to ooh and ahh a little when the nation’s most spectacular fireworks show kicks off — with the monuments and the Capitol as the backdrop. Yes, it’s crowded, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome.

    Get to Know Jazz And Go-Go At some point this summer, someone will probably say to you: “There is Washington, and then there is D.C.” Get to know D.C. Talk a walk on U Street, taste mambo sauce (available at any of our fine carryouts), and check out the city’s musical traditions — jazz and funky, drum-driven go-go. Duke Ellington grew up on 13th Street NW and made his name playing the clubs of U Street along with such major jazz stars as Miles Davis and Cab Calloway. Today, the best and brightest musicians stop at Twins Jazz and, farther afield, Blues Alley. Both venues can be budget-blowing when you factor in $10-per-person minimums, but interns can take advantage of discounts. At Twins, students with ID can get half-price tickets for certain Friday shows. And at Blues Alley, admission to the 10 p.m. show Sunday through Thursday is half-price for students and congressional staffers.Or get a taste of the old U Street cool for free at Cafe Nema, where every Thursday night for years, local stalwarts the Young Lions have played a long set, free for customers (there is a two-drink minimum).

    For the definitive introduction to go-go, your go-to man is octogenarian Chuck Brown, the official “Godfather of Go-Go.” He headlines the (also very D.C.) National Capital Barbecue Battle on June 26. And fellow go-go legends Troublefunk will play a show on June 18 at U Street’s Prince Hall Masonic Temple.

    If You See One Piece of Theater, Make it Fringe The annual oddball-theater festival Capital Fringe runs July 8-25 and features a smorgasboard of one-man and one-woman shows, mini-musicals, spoofs, sendups, standups…well, you get the picture. Having trouble picking from the pack? No problem. Since Fringe is all about new and untested fare, we’re all playing roulette. You can’t really go wrong picking the wackiest titles: There’s “Twisted: A Collection Of Urban Fairytales,” “Chlamydia dell’Arte: A Sex-Ed Burlesque” or “Illegal Sex Acts: Live On Stage!”If you’re wary of a gamble, try “Finn Mc Cool,” “Handbook for Hosts” or “Showcase Showdown” — all three were produced by troupes who have delivered critical and audience hits in previous years. Tickets go on sale here on June 21.

    – Lavanya Ramanathan

    Introducing the 2010 Interns' Guide

    Some Players Can't Beat Beatable Games

    June 28, 2010

    The phone rang, and a voice on the other end said he had a question about beatable casino games.

    “You wrote that on every game, the house gets its edge by paying less than true odds, right?”

    “And you’ve written that blackjack and video poker are beatable games?”

    Right, provided the blackjack player is skilled at counting cards and the video poker player uses expert strategy and sticks to certain games.

    “So does that mean blackjack and video poker pay at more than true odds?”

    In a way. It’s more that a skilled enough player in blackjack and a skilled enough player with a good enough pay table in video poker shifts the odds of the game in their favor.

    “Explain, please. Why would a casino offer a game that favors players?”

    They don’t favor ALL players. There’s not one player in a thousand who can really count cards effectively enough to beat the casino, or play video poker well enough to get maximum return on the best games. The games make money. Just as important in some casinos’ views is that offering “beatable” games that most players can’t really beat is an attraction, a reason for players to choose their casino over a competitor.

    “How can they pay different to one player than to another? A blackjack still pays 3-2, no matter how you play the game. A royal flush doesn’t suddenly pay more because you play better.”

    In blackjack, the odds are constantly changing. As cards are dealt out, the composition of the remaining deck changes. When there is a higher than usual percentage of high cards remaining, the odds shift in favor of the player, because more blackjacks, paying 3-2 are dealt, and because players are more likely to draw high cards in double-down situations.

    “OK, but that would be true for both skilled and unskilled players, right?”

    True. For any player, sometimes the composition of the deck in blackjack favors players, sometimes it favors the dealer. But card counters can take advantage of that shift, and less-skilled players can’t. When the odds shift in favor of the player, the card counter bets more money.

    The card counter is no more likely to get a blackjack or win on a double down than any other player at the table. But by betting more money in those situations, the counter shifts the overall odds of the game. If I’m betting $10 a hand when the chances of getting a blackjack are 1 in 21, drop to $5 when they’re 1 in 22, but raise to $20 when they’re 1 in 20, then I’ve changed the odds of the game.

    “What about video poker? The pay table stays the same for everybody.”

    Yes, but a real pro will confine play to games such as 10-7-5 Double Bonus Poker, which pays 10-for-1 on full houses, 7-for-1 on flushes and 5-for-1 on full houses, and returns 100.17 percent with expert play. It won’t return 100.17 percent to everyone. The average player is going to get from 2 to 4 percent less than that, depending on how close to expert strategy they play.

    And the expert will know, for example, that holding a low pair instead of a single Jack or better will bring fewer winning hands, but more big wins. The pro will get back more money for the same amount of play.

    “Can a video poker player walk into any casino and start winning?”

    No, adjustments on the pay tables can make the games unbeatable. If you drop the full house payoff to 9-for-1 on Double Bonus, leaving a 9-7-5 game, then the long-term return with expert play drops to 99.1 percent. Every game, whether it’s Jacks or Better, Double Double Bonus Poker, Deuces Wild or anything else, is available to casinos with different pay tables. Part of expert play is learning to recognize the higher-paying games.

    Not every casino offers the highest-paying video poker games. You’ll find them mostly in competitive markets with a strong video poker following, where the presence of high pay tables will draw in customers. Most will not actually be able to beat the games, and most also will play other games while they’re in the casino, but the high pay tables draw them in.

    “And blackjack? Does everybody have beatable games?”

    No, there are options that can make blackjack unbeatable. If blackjacks pay only 6-5 instead of the traditional 3-2, or if the games use continuous shuffling machines, skilled players will avoid those games like the plague. Problem is, such games take the money from average players a little too fast, and casinos that use them risk driving away good customers.

    “So bottom line. What you’re telling me is that the odds are different for different players?”

    In those games, yes. In roulette or on slot machines, the odds are the odds. In some card games, such as Caribbean Stud Poker, Three Card Poker, and Let It Ride, skill can shift the odds, but not enough to give the player an edge. But in blackjack and video poker, where skill is a larger portion of the game, your play makes a big difference.

    Some Players Can't Beat Beatable Games

    Is it A Bird, Is It a Plane – No Its Superbooks at Ladbrokes Bingo!

    June 28, 2010

    Written by Julie
    Posted on Tuesday, June 1st 2010

    With the all new Superbooks at Ladbrokes Bingo, free bingo just got a whole lot better. This brand new feature is also available at William Hill. It gives a new meaning to free bingo, because it changes our options when we play. We all love free bingo, right, and in   a free bingo game, the norm is generally around 12 free tickets each. What Superbooks does is allow some players to play their tickets completely for free, and other players (those who want to), to hedge there bets. Like taking a times odds insurance bet when you play craps.

    So what happens at Ladbrokes Bingo, is when free bingo plays and they are Superbooks games, if you want to place a wager on them you can. These wagers will then insure your game and if you win, you win a times odds multiple on the prize money of the free bingo game. Don’t you think that is just a brilliant idea?

    Superbooks games allow an allocation of 60 bingo tickets per game and they also allow the player to mix and match which tickets they want to place these additional wagers on. The choice is completely yours. Superbooks made its second appearance at Ladbrokes Bingo this Bank Holiday weekend, but I reckon it is on the cards that they will return again. They allow players to win 5 x or even 10 x the prize money in the bingo game, and even if the prize is shared the Superbooks winners share of the prize is multiplied. Now how do you like them apples? Find out all the Superbooks FAQ’s you need to know from the site and learn how to play with these tickets, because they are going to make a huge difference to your ability to win!

    Is it A Bird, Is It a Plane – No Its Superbooks at Ladbrokes Bingo!

    Feisty, emotional Burge denies torture

    June 28, 2010

    At times on the witness stand Thursday, Jon Burge came off as the classic cop straight out of central casting — matter-of-fact and wry. At other times, the former Chicago police commander was combative as he fended off questions from the prosecution. At other times still, he showed raw emotion as he recalled the arrest of a cop killer nearly three decades ago.

    For nearly six hours, Burge testified about the allegations of torture and coerced confessions that have made his name infamous in Chicago for decades, led to his firing in 1993 and launched a flurry of civil lawsuits that cost the city millions of dollars.

    Burge flatly denied he ever tortured criminal suspects or condoned its use, saying that he had never witnessed a cop abusing a suspect in his 30 years with the department.

    The federal jury has heard the accounts of five suspects who alleged Burge and numerous detectives under his command used beatings, electric shock, Russian roulette and near-suffocation to force confessions to murders and other crimes.

    One by one, Burge denied their accusations. “No, sir, I did not,” he said repeatedly to the questions of torture. He denied he beat, shocked and pointed a gun at murder suspect Melvin Jones in 1982, denied that his detectives put a bag over the head of murder suspect Gregory Banks in 1983 and denied he played Russian roulette and smothered armed robbery suspect Shadeed Mu’min in 1985.

    Asked about the claims of Russian roulette, Burge, his voice tinged with sarcasm, said, “I may not be a Mensa candidate, but I’m not that stupid, sir.”

    Burge also denied he beat, shocked and smothered gang member Anthony Holmes in 1973, saying the ex-con confessed to murder and ratted out other gang members when confronted with the evidence against him. “He knew what time it was,” Burge said.

    Burge is not on trial for any of the alleged abuse. The statute of limitations long ago expired for charges stemming from any actual violence. Instead, he is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly giving sworn, written answers in a 2003 civil suit in which he denied ever using or witnessing torture on suspects.

    Much of Burge’s testimony — and the trial as a whole — centered on Andrew Wilson, who was arrested on Feb. 14, 1982, for the murders of Chicago police Officers William Fahey and Richard O’Brien five days earlier.

    Burge, then the lieutenant in charge of the Area 2 violent-crimes detective unit on the South Side, testified he didn’t go home for five consecutive days, staying at the office to supervise the dozens of detectives trying to solve the murders.

    As he recounted Wilson’s arrest in a West Side apartment, Burge suddenly stopped talking and looked down at the witness stand, his face reddening. “Excuse me a second,” he said.

    His face grew increasingly flushed before he let out a small sob and wiped at his eyes to remove the tears. U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow handed him a tissue.

    “This is an emotional topic?” asked Marc Martin, Burge’s lawyer.

    “Very much so,” Burge said.

    Wilson died in 2007 while serving a life sentence for the officers’ murders, but prosecutors read to jurors his testimony from earlier proceedings. Wilson alleged he was first beaten by a group of detectives and slammed into a window. Burge then entered the room, Wilson said, and shocked him with two different electrical devices — one a box with wires attached to his ears, nose and fingers with alligator clips and the other a curling iron with a wire protruding from one end.

    With the help of another detective, Burge pressed Wilson against a hot radiator as he was shocked until he spit up blood, Wilson alleged. Photographs taken at Cook County Jail later that day showed Wilson’s face bandaged over his right eye and what he said were burns on his face, chest and right thigh.

    But Burge testified that from the moment of the arrest, he ordered his detectives to treat Wilson with “kid gloves.” Burge insisted he never even checked in on Wilson while he was interrogated but instead left it to two trusted detectives to obtain a confession.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney David Weisman scoffed at Burge’s account, questioning why he would need to make clear that Wilson was to be treated gently if there was never any problem with abuse or torture at Area 2.

    “I didn’t have to tell anybody that,” Burge said. “I said that to preclude anything from happening that might hurt our case.”

    Feisty, emotional Burge denies torture

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