Now for many people a 10-hour flight across 8 time zones might seem a little extravagant for what is little more than a long weekend, but if you live in London I guess there just isn’t much choice. Flying direct with Virgin Atlantic can be pretty reasonable off season at around $600 for a round trip - if get yourself settled in with a few movies and complementary beers then time and the atlantic just fly by. A week before I had booked the New York-New York online a pretty good rate at of $330 for 4 nights (Sat – Wed), so precisely 18 hours after first waking up in London I found myself checked in the hotel, showered, and in the poker room at the Monte Carlo next door 6pm local time sipping a Corona and being dealt in a 2-4 limit game.
The atmosphere in the Monte Carlo room was pretty excellent - it was a mixed crowd of regulars and visitors including a guy I remembered playing against in the Excalibur when I was there last year. Most people were there for a light-hearted game rather than a serious-serious game, and the dealers were excellent at keeping the banter going – after all it was only 2-4 limit! The room had changed a bit since I was previously there – it was still quietly tucked away the far side of the sports book but now there was a smart cashiers desk let in to the back wall. The table was in excellent condition, and the waitress service was accurate and pleasant, and for the most part frequent. I hit some excellent cards and ended up $99 up after 5 hours play and much drinking (and tipping). Top on the list of conversation was something to do with “Texas Tech” – apparently it is a college football team and not as I thought what they now play in the Excalibur poker room. At around 11pm I staggered off for some Kung Pao chicken in the nearby food court, and then turned in for the night.
Next day I had a very leisurely morning, winding up back at the Monte Carlo at 3pm. Or 2pm as they called it, because apparently the clocks had gone back. Immediate seating again, and I spent a pleasant afternoon with a much tighter crowd – never really hit anything and ended up giving back my $99 I had won the previous evening plus a bit more. A couple of guys at the table hit high hand bonuses for 4-of-a-kinds. I do like a room with a high hand bonus – it gives a bit of an extra dimension of excitement particularly when playing low stakes. Rules here I think are you must have 2 cards in your hand and $10 in the pot – they pay anything from $20 up to about $500 depending on the hand and how recently the same hand has been won.
Left around 7pm and walked down to the MGM Grand for some Sunday evening action. Had to wait around 20 minutes to be seated (around 7.30pm) at one of the two 2-4 limit games they had going. It’s a very different room from the Monte Carlo – big, “hip”, noisy, subdued lighting and right next door to a trendy bar. The dealers were very competent, but it is difficult for them to “entertain” a table with so much background noise. I chatted quite a bit with the pleasant people sitting immediately next to me, but beyond that the noise made it not easy. No high-hand jackpot here, which was a shame because I hit 4-of-a-kind sevens with my 7-2 offsuit on the big blind! Waitress service was good and my big discovery was that if you sit in seat 2 on table 17, you can just see the go-go dancers doing their thing every half hour in the bar next door, which at least makes up for the loud music that accompanies it. I walked away a little after midnight $4 down, which given I was as usual tipping the waitresses out of my chips I guess I made some money. Made my way across the footbridge back to the New York-New York – I had stayed in the MGM Grand a couple of years ago and I swear it was quicker back to my room in the NY-NY than it was to my room tucked in the back of the MGM itself! Disappointing the only outlet still open in the NY-NY food court was a pizza place – but it was tasty enough anyway.
The next day (Monday) I thought I would suss out the Excalibur. I had read quite a bit about the new electronic tables and was to be perfectly honest quite skeptical, but I thought it only fair to at least have a look. At the end of the day they would have to be pretty special for me to travel all the way to Vegas to use them when I can play online from the comfort of my armchair at home. And at home I don’t have to tip me for drinks.
Now the tables themselves looked pretty smart, and I am sure they are as good an implementation of hold’em as it is possible to get on a machine. However, there was only a single cash game going – a $0.5/$1 limit game. Now I have been to the old Excalibur room on many occasions, and the one thing you could guarantee is that you could get your choice of limit or a no limit games at pretty well any time of the day or night. I can only assume the room is not doing well at all. I made my excuses and left.
That evening, my final night of play, I went back to the MGM Grand. Probably not the best move I could have made – there were some pretty inexperienced players at the table who seemed to outdraw me on every river, but hey, sometimes the game goes like that. Even worse than that, the cocktail waitress forgot my drink. Twice. Now THAT is bad luck. Played for around 5 hours, lost my original buy-in of $100, and then another $60 re-buy. But had some fun trying.
Left the poker room again just after midnight, but learning my lesson of the previous evening decided to head for the MGM food court this time. I forgot exactly how far it was away (especially if you get lost), and when I got there pretty well the only thing that was still open was McDonalds ! Not a great end to not a great day, but all in all had a fantastic time in Vegas!