Servicing Your Air Conditioner Before Summer

If summer arrives as quickly as spring did, we’ll all need our air conditioners soon. Cold air is a modern luxury that many of us don’t want to do without during the hot summer months. Unless we properly maintain our air conditioning units, cool air may be a luxury we go without this summer. Here are four reasons to perform yearly maintenance on your air conditioner.
Efficiency: Time, age, and lack of use during the cold months cause air conditioners to wear down. Air vents and filters become clogged with dust and other debris. The result is a reduced ability for your air conditioner to circulate cold air throughout your house. In many cases, cool air may never reach the rooms in your home that are farthest from the unit.

Energy Costs: If your air conditioner isn’t running at maximum efficiency, you’ll be spending a lot more money this summer. If your Salt Lake City air conditioner is unmaintained, it uses more energy and runs longer than normal in order to cool your house. Added energy use and longer run times are most noticeable when it comes time to pay your electric bill.

Air Quality: In addition to cooling your home, your air conditioner is responsible for circulating air. Without proper maintenance, your air conditioner can’t do this effectively. Poor circulation leads to stagnant air as dust and moisture accumulate. Increased dust buildup occurs when air filtration systems are full or clogged and no longer filter air.

Safety: Poor air quality isn’t the only health concern caused by bad air conditioners. Each year, thousands of U.S. house fires are caused by air conditioners that are in a state of disrepair.

Each of these problems is preventable with a straightforward solution, annual maintenance. Hiring a certified technician to inspect and repair your air conditioner probably isn’t another bill you want to pay. However, yearly maintenance pays for itself in three ways, reduced energy costs, more efficient cooling, and increased air conditioner lifespan. A small investment now leads to big savings later.

It was mentioned in the beginning that summer is right around the corner. Don’t wait until the Salt Lake City summer hits to have your air conditioner inspected. Summer is the busiest time of year for technicians, and that means their availability goes down and their costs go up. Have your air conditioner inspected this spring and ensure that it’s ready to keep your house cool before the summer heat hits.

How to Make a Million Dollars Playing Video Poker

I’ll level with you – if I knew some secret method for making a million dollars on video poker, I wouldn’t be blogging right now. I’d be in the Alaskan wilderness catching salmon or just sitting on my back porch cracking open a beer.

So how can you become a video poker millionaire? The truth is, there is no one secret method that will turn you into a video poker millionaire. I’m suspicious of “get-rich quick” ideas of any variety. As a general rule, the less work something requires, the less effective it is.

I can think of a few outside-the-box ways to put two commas in your bank account playing video poker:

You could win a million dollars playing progressive video poker. Of course, you’d have to win an unlikely number of progressive jackpots to total $1,000,000 – video poker progressive jackpots are considerably smaller than slot machines, resetting to between $500 and $1,500, and rarely paying off more than two or three times the reset amount. Don’t forget how rare progressive video poker games are – you won’t find a single progressive video poker game on the Vegas Strip or anywhere in Atlantic City.
You could sit around putting money in the machine until you hit an uncanny streak of luck. Let’s say you’re betting max, $5 per credit and $25 credits per hand. If you could string together enough $30 payouts in a row, you’d eventually win a million bucks. It would take 200,000 straight 6-credit wins (to offset the coast of each round’s maximum bet), and would certainly raise some eyebrows at the IRS, but I suppose it’s technically (given enough decimal places) “possible.”
You could have a really gnarly slip-and-fall accident while playing a video poker machine. If it’s found that the casino was negligent in inspecting and maintaining their property, you’ll be entitled to compensation, damages, and (in rare cases) a punitive award designed to teach the casino a lesson they won’t easily forget. It’s within the realm of possibility that you could win a million-dollar settlement. Of course, this is abuse of the system, and it would make you a horrible human being. It may backfire too – the court may throw the case out, especially if there is no evidence of negligence.
Those three ideas are pretty far outside the realm of possibility. Instead of slipping in a spilled drink, waiting for a mathematical miracle, or losing your shirt chasing progressives, I suggest a more level-headed approach.

The Three Basic Tenets of the Video Poker Millionaire
The three tenets listed below aren’t exactly secret. They’re freely-available all over the Internet. I can vouch for this fact, as I’ve written dozens of blog posts on these topics over the years.

Once you’ve learned how to play video poker, all you need to do to (one day) make a million bucks playing the game is follow these three simple rules:

Learn Basic Strategy
If you want to have fun in Vegas and don’t mind eventually giving your entire $100 bankroll to the casino, you don’t need to worry about strategy.

If your plan is to earn a million dollars from video poker, you have to become a graduate student of gambling. It helps if you have a good library near your home, since some of the books you’ll want to read aren’t all that available online. In fact, if you live near a state university with a decent research library, you’re a step ahead.

While you’re at it, subscribe to some gaming magazines. If you’re mostly going to gamble in Vegas, subscribe to some Vegas content, too. Join a couple of forums. Depending on where you live, you may be able to find seminars in your area teaching legitimate video poker and other game strategies. By the way, this isn’t something you can do once or twice a year for a couple of years and be done with it. With new games come new strategies, and with new casinos come new opportunities for advantage gambling. You’ll really need to become a lifelong student of gambling and game strategy.

Choose Player-Friendly Games
Unfortunately, the heyday of +EV video poker is long gone. You can still find a few high-paying titles that make a special trip to a specific casino or website worth your time. Specifically, there’s enough 10/7 Double Bonus and full-pay Deuces Wild on casino floors in the gambling Meccas of America to keep things interesting. If you are absolutely determined to earn a million bucks from video poker, you should probably stick to these titles only, since any other titles are going to retain too much of your money over time.

If you don’t mind gambling a little (or waiting a few extra years to earn your million), you can play some of the 99%+ titles that casinos still host. These are generally available whether you’re online, in Vegas, in Atlantic City, or elsewhere in the USA. The so-called Not So Ugly Deuces games (which we call 25/16/10) is popular and gives the casino a less than a quarter-percent edge, as do most casino’s versions 9/6 Jacks or Better, and the venerable 8/5 Bonus Poker with a return of around 99.1%.

Casinos love to put sub-99% video poker games immediately next to identical games set high. This is especially true in the few casinos where you still find full-pay titles. This means you absolutely have to inspect every pay table before you play.

Manage Your Money (and Earn Comps)
The kind of dedication it takes to become a gambling millionaire means that it shouldn’t be hard for you to rigorously control how much you spend on video poker. But since you should always bet maximum, your wager size and scope are pretty limited. Instead of worrying about bet sizing, focus on earning those crucial additional benefits casinos give their loyal customers. That means joining the players club, exchanging club points for cash, scoring multiple-points promos, entering raffles and drawings, playing in video poker tournaments, remembering to mail in those bounce-back rewards clipping coupons, and doing all those annoying things that tend to make a casino trip less fun.

In exchange for a little bit of what always feels like wasted time, you’re putting a big dent in the casino’s edge. If you’re already playing +EV games, using comps basically extends your tiny edge. Not a statistically-significant amount at first, but over time, it makes a big difference.

Conclusion
I’m at the end of the post, and I have this nagging question at the back of my mind. Is this even possible?

I did some math – always a dangerous proposition – and came up with some interesting figures about this hands-off method of becoming a millionaire on Jacks or Better. To earn $1,000,000 playing 10/7 Double Bonus (which gives you about a 0.17% return per hour, when playing with perfect strategy), you’d have to play for 294,117 hours. That’s assuming you can play 80 hands an hour perfectly, making no strategic mistakes at all. That works out to about 100 years of playing the same game for eight hours a day.

Having said that, you could always form a partnership with other players working towards a common goal – but then, you’re not really a millionaire, are you?

All told, I think it’s an interesting question to answer and a good teachable moment. I am sure that someone out there has earned a million bucks (or even more) playing video poker, but they’re probably some sort of outlier, with an uncanny ability to play long-term and the best-odds games making very few mistakes. It’s also possible that a person would earn a million bucks worth of comps given enough time and enough loyalty at the right casino.

5 Things All Casino Gambling Fans Are Sick of Hearing

The life of a casino gambling fan is filled with peaks and valleys. On one hand there are the good days, when chips seem to rain from the heavens and all the cocktail servers are part-time models.

Then there are the bad days, when the old lady with the oxygen tank blows smoke in your face and every game seems out to get you. Of course, that just comes with the territory.

What doesn’t come with the territory, however, are some of the stupid comments you have to listen to while trying to win a few extra bucks. The ones heard in the background are irritating enough, but when the moronic chatter is directed right to your face it’s enough to make you choke someone.

This post details 5 things that all casino gambling fans are sick of hearing. If you’ve already been bombarded with these clichés over the years, then you have my sympathy.

For those who are just starting their gambling careers, get ready to hear these phrases until you’re blue in the face.

1. “This game is rigged.”
Let’s get something straight: casino games are not rigged. Sure, the rules may ultimately favor the house, but they’re also clearly printed for the customer to read.

The idea that the casino would cheat in the middle of play is ridiculous, and it’s one of the most common things that losing gamblers tell themselves. This allows them to take the blame off themselves for their perceived misfortunes.

If you do nothing else, don’t delude yourself into thinking that you’re being cheated. Just admit your role in the process and take your losses like a man (or woman).

2. “The drinks are free around here. Yes!”
Whenever I hear this, I try to get away as soon as possible. These words are usually spoken by someone who loves alcohol, and those free drinks will soon leave them sloppy drunk and wanting to strike up a conversation with their neighbor (in this case, you).

They don’t seem to realize that everything the casino does is for a purpose. When you have too much to drink, your brain ceases to work as effectively. When that happens, your ability to make decisions is adversely affected.

All of these factors add up to an advantage for the house. While you’re chugging down imported beer, the casino is lifting your wallet and quietly removing the contents.

3. “Hey, pal, can I borrow $5? I’ll pay you back after I win.”
No matter how bad your losing streak gets, you should never, ever ask a stranger to lend you money. Not only is it rude, it also puts the other person in an extremely uncomfortable position.

Still, I bet this has happened to me at least six times over the last decade, and I still remember every one of those cringe-worthy moments. At least you can turn down a homeless person while walking in a particular direction. In this kind of situation, you’re a sitting duck with nowhere to run to.

The only time I broke down and floated a loan was to an attractive thirtysomething female, and I still kick myself for that decision. As you might have guessed, I never got reimbursed.

It’s like feeding monkeys at the zoo. Give food to one, and the other will come running. The best policy is not to do it. After all, it’s a casino and not a soup kitchen.

4. “The smoke doesn’t bother you, does it?”
I always cringe when I’m playing slots and a blue-haired old lady sits down next to me. It’s not because I have some beef with seniors, it’s just that I’m fearful they’re a smoker. If they are, you can bet they’ll be fishing out a cancer stick within minutes of their arrival.

I’ve dealt with asthma ever since I was a child. I’ve got a minor case, but it can be aggravated by exposure to certain types of chemicals. Cigarette smoke is definitely on that list.

While I hate for someone to ask if smoke bothers me while I’m obviously turning blue, at least they have the courtesy to inquire. The people I really hate are the ones who sit down and intentionally blow it in my direction.

Here are just some of the chemicals found in cigarette smoke, as well as other places these same ingredients are located:

Butane – rubber cement
Tar – used to pave roads
Arsenic – rat poison
Ammonia – household cleaning products
Methanol – rocket fuel
Acetone – nail polish remover
5. “Time for another trip to the ATM.”
If I had a quarter for every time I’d heard this phrase uttered in casinos…well, I’d have a helluva lot of quarters.

Some players approach the casinos like maniacs, betting outrageous sums of money without even understanding the proper strategy for their game of choice. When they inevitably run out of money, their solution is simple: head back to the ATM machine.

Not only is this stupid, but it’s also a good way to end up with a drained bank account. This is exactly the reason why casinos place ATM machines around in the first place.

It’s also a total slap in the face to the concept of bankroll management. The objective is to play only with the money you can afford to lose, not dip into savings that are being held aside for food, rent, and your child’s college education.

Conclusion
Gambling at the casino can be tough, as a winning streak can quickly turn into a living nightmare. It’s all part of the game, though, and experienced gamblers learn to take the good with the bad.

While players can get used to the ups and downs of gaming, there are some phrases and clichés that are likely to set off even the most seasoned pro. Yell one of these at Doyle Brunson the next time he putters by on his scooter, and he’s likely to try and run you over.