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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Horseshoe Casino Cleveland's poker room finds a following: one of busiest

Published: Saturday, June 16, 2012, 9:00 PM
Updated: Monday, June 18, 2012, 11:56 AM
Laura Kizyte deals cards at one of the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland's 30 poker tables.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Step off the escalator into the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland’s poker room, and the atmosphere abruptly changes.

The ring of slot machines and blare of music recedes, replaced by the cricket-like chirping of poker chips grinding between fidgety fingers. Whooping and laughter give way to silence and stone faces.

Cleveland is a poker town. And this place is proof.

The Horseshoe’s 24-hour-a-day poker room has ranked among the busiest in the country since the casino opened May 14, according to Bravo Poker Live, a software application that tracks tables in use, the kinds of games available and the size of waiting lists at casinos nationwide.

Information for the Horseshoe poker room, found through the app, has received more than 85,000 hits, according to the software’s provider, Genesis Gaming.

A check of Bravo Poker Live at midafternoon Wednesday showed that the Horseshoe had 16 tables going, eighth among 100 that supplied data; early afternoon Thursday, the number was down to 11, but that was still good for a four-way tie for ninth out of 90 venues.

Business really heats up at night, when most or all of the Horseshoe’s 30 poker tables are active. The turnout reflects pent-up demand from players who used to travel to play at casinos in Pittsburgh and Erie, Pa., said Dan Harkenrider, host of the "Division of Poker" radio program on ESPN radio outlets in Cleveland.

Harkenrider estimates that one in four Northeast Ohio residents play the game for recreation, and he speculates that many truly believe they could make poker their occupation if finances and other circumstances allowed. He said players can find games in homes throughout the region any hour of the day, any day of the week, with pots sometimes totaling thousands of dollars.

"Every couple of years, one of us makes a deep run in the World Series of Poker," Harkenrider said, referring to the game’s pinnacle event, now under way in Las Vegas. "We have a very rich history of great poker players."

Al Fisher of Rocky River says he is not a hardcore player but has been stopping at the poker room once a week since the casino opened. He said he will probably continue to go every week or two for a couple of hours, "depending on how the cards are treating me."

"It’s a game I grew up on, a game that’s fairly easy to understand," said Fisher, who is 50 and has been playing poker since he was about 18. "I do it from a fun aspect."

John Uzelac serves as organizer for the Cleveland Poker Meetup Group, a social-networking website for nearly 900 players. The group, founded in 2003, grew out of games that cigar-shop manager John Coleman formerly hosted in his small downtown apartment, Uzelac said.

Cleveland’s home poker circuit — where playing for money is legal as long as the host doesn’t take a cut — may be one of the strongest in the country, said Uzelac, known as "Data" for his fascination with the game’s percentages. He said members of the meetup group who move out of Ohio have trouble finding quality games, if they can find any games at all.

Hosts schedule games — Texas Hold’em is the most popular form — in houses throughout Northeast Ohio, with the largest concentration in the Cleveland’s western suburbs. Uzelac, who plays up to three times a week, said players routinely win or lose as much as $1,000.

"You say when and where – we’ll be right over," he said.

The home games continue to thrive, but not so the former Nautica Charity Poker operation on the west bank of The Flats. Nautica, which reported raising $10 million for charity during an eight-year run, closed this month, saying business fell off 80 percent after the casino opened.

The poker room is not a big moneymaker for the casino, which collects a maximum rake, or cut, of $6 per pot, but there are potentially lucrative spin-off benefits. Players might spend money elsewhere in the building or bring along spouses or friends who prefer slot machines and table games.

Harkenrider and Uzelac generally give the poker room good marks but also point out flaws, particularly the slow speed and developing skill level of largely inexperienced dealers.

Uzelac says the Cleveland poker room is "a solid operation that needs help around the edges." In addition to the dealers, he said, players complain about the pace of cashiers in making change, a shortage of dealers on weekends and long waiting lists.

Besides offering proximity, the Cleveland poker room lets players compete outside their social circle; it also has security and a surveillance system to discourage disputes, cheating and the occasional robbery. In a notable 2009 case, gunmen burst into a game at a business in Solon, stealing $75,000 in cash and $25,000 in jewelry. Six men were sentenced to prison and one to probation.

The room at the Cleveland casino is full of poker faces, some partly hidden by sunglasses or hoods that rules prohibit wearing anywhere else in the building. But manager Jeremy Smith said the grim countenances typically mask a friendly demeanor.

The casino tries to make sure its visitors remain happy, with rules that permit eating at the tables, as long as food is not messy, listening to iPods with earphones or using computer tablets, provided doing so doesn’t slow the game. Licensed massage therapists will relax tight shoulders — during play — for $1 a minute.

Smith, who formerly managed a poker room at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind., is frequently asked when the Horseshoe Cleveland will begin scheduling tournaments, during which a set group of contestants go at it until they are broke or finish in the money. He said the casino might try to accommodate tournaments late this summer but cannot do so while demand for the tables is so strong.

Caesars Entertainment, which manages the Horseshoe Cleveland, owns the World Series of Poker, and, according to Smith, may make the casino a stop on the WSOP tour early next year. He does not think the reception will disappoint.

"This property has the potential to be one of the largest circuit events," he said.

Follow Thomas Ott on Twitter @thomasott1.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Great Fiction: Soft or HARDcore, Neale Sourna's Got Stories for YOU!!

ENTER and FIND YOUR CHOICE of STORIES Enter and Find Your Choice Story(ies).

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Friday, June 15, 2012

SUMMER READING, Sexy, Romantic, Erotic Stories by Neale Sourna

Listing of books, ebooks, short stories, excerpts, novels and more, like games, poems, scripts/screenplays (still adding material)

by author Neale Sourna

PIE: Perception Is Everything

-- our hardcore main line
[sensuality is R, NC17, X, XXX]

medium and hard erotica / sensual romance / romantic erotica

Soft Focus

PIE: Perception Is Everything's Soft Focus

-- our softcore line

--[sensuality is PG13, Soft R]

soft erotica / sensual romance / romantic erotica and general fiction

Clear Focus

PIE: Perception Is Everything's Clear Focus

-- our nonfiction line
[PG13, R, NC17, X, XXX]

nonfiction (sexuality, romance, lovemaking)

Hobble [An Adult Fiction] by Neale Sourna (novel ebook cover)_Hobble [An Adult Fiction] by Neale Sourna [print book cover]

Tad V4#1 (Gay novella), Neale Sourna's North Coast Academies Diary_


No Wedding Night by Neale Sourna (ebook cover)

The Freelancer by Neale Sourna (ebook cover)

Temple and Silent Tommy: Bedrooms by Neale Sourna (WWII short story romance)


Neale Sourna's SexSinger: Cunnilingus (Sex Manual, Info, Games, Short Fiction)_Neale Sourna's CuntSinger: Cunnilingus (Sex Manual, Info, Games, Short Fiction)

Seduce Her Like Keanu Reeves, Ten (10) Easy Romantic Seduction Techniques, And the Bad


Listing of books, ebooks, short stories, excerpts, novels and more, like games, poems, scripts/screenplays (still adding material)

by author Neale Sourna

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Monday, June 11, 2012

China's Wuhan city covered in mysterious haze

Young and old residents of the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan were advised to stay indoors on Monday after a thick haze blanketed the city of nine million people, official media said.

Described by residents as opaque with yellowish and greenish tinges, the fug descended suddenly in the morning, prompting people to rush to put on face masks, witnesses told AFP.

The official Xinhua news agency quoted the environmental protection department of Hubei province saying in a statement: "Children, the elderly and people with heart or respiratory diseases are advised to stay indoors."

Xinhua said straw burning was the cause and denied there had been any industrial accidents in or near Wuhan, after Internet rumours suggested there had been an explosion at a chemical complex northeast of the city.

"I looked out of the window of my office and I could not believe my eyes," said resident Li Yunzhong.

"At first I thought it was going to rain. In 31 years in Wuhan I have never known anything like it. We are very worried because we do not know what it is."

[Related: China tells U.S. to stop tweeting about Beijing air]

France's consulate-general in the central city advised residents to stay at home, close their windows and limit the use of air-conditioning.

"The source of the thick cloud that has covered the city of Wuhan since this morning is at present unknown," it said on its website.

"Local authorities have promised us the information as soon as possible."

Xinhua described the haze as grey-yellow in colour and said it was seen in seven cities in Hubei province, including Wuhan.

Air pollution is increasingly acute in major Chinese cities and authorities are frequently accused of underestimating the severity of the problem in urban areas, especially in Beijing.

Air-quality monitoring showed Wuhan's PM10 particulate concentration stood at 0.574 mg per cubic metre at 2:00 pm, more than triple the daily average of 0.150 mg, Xinhua reported.

[Related: What's in the air you're breathing?]

But it quoted the environmental protection department saying industrial accidents were not responsible and analysis showed an increase in carbon particles from burning organic matter.

"Many farmers choose to burn crops that are left behind in their fields after harvesting," Xinhua said.

But Li was sceptical. "I doubt that," he said. "We don't practise large-scale shifting agriculture in our region."

Another resident told AFP she was leaving the city because of the cloud.

Wuhan is the capital of Hubei province and an industrial centre where many foreign firms have set up factories, including the French automotive group PSA Peugeot Citroën.

Alstom also manufactures boilers for coal-fired power plants there.

China's environment suffers from industrial pollution, increasing traffic and lax protection measures.

Official air-quality statistics are sometimes at odds with non-government measurements, and are often viewed with distrust.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Growing Economic Inequality 'Endangers Our Future'

Growing Economic Inequality 'Endangers Our Future'

In The Price of Inequality, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that widely unequal societies don't function effectively or have stable economies. Even the rich will pay a steep price if economic inequalities continue to worsen, he says.

NPR Fresh Air, June 5, 2012 Terry Gross

Listen to / Play Program

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Monday, June 04, 2012

Donna Summer FOREVER!! The Queen.

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