Stayed downtown for the start, as the strip was so expensive for that weekend. $200 for the IP, are you having a laugh??
With some nervousness I’d booked into The D (ex Fitzgerald’s) and wasn’t really sure what I was letting myself in for. It had been years since I’d been downtown and I guess I’d become acclimatised to the strip. I was pleasantly surprised. I have stayed a lot at the IP and The D was of a slightly better standard. The hotel hasn’t been fully refurbished and the rooms are dated as is the casino but for a low roller it’s OK. The staff were all friendly and welcoming. I’d read in online reviews that people complained about the loudness of the music. Can’t say I noticed it myself and it didn’t seem excessive. Also I liked the DT atmosphere; more relaxed and easy going than the strip which suited me fine. I ate at MSS 777 bar which I always like. The closeness of DT makes getting around such a breeze.
Binion’s – played a few of their tournaments including the weekend afternoon game. No good but managed to chop in a smaller evening game for a few hundred profit. Tournament room is a bit dated but again staff are good and the atmosphere was friendly.
Golden Nugget – won the evening tournament game outright for about $700. Nice one. Card room here is better than Binion’s, however was annoyed to see that they don’t display a tournament clock which isn’t really good enough when you’re paying juice to them for the game.
Monday I moved back to the strip as prices had now calmed down so Harrah’s was offering me a few comped nights and cheap nights. OK room usual Vegas standard. I like Harrah’s, it has lots of good memories for me and this year I’d been upped to Platinum so I wanted to make benefit of it. You get better rooms and can line jump things like the buffet (no good to me) and get a priority check in (useful to me). I don’t play poker there much as their tournies are too much of a shove fest but I did play a few early and late ones. As usual they became shove fests and my hands didn’t hold.
I came to the strip to mainly play at the Aria tournaments. These are the best available in the price range and I have had some good cashes and chops here so I know I can do it in this game. For the first two days I played four tournaments. This time the cards drew me in, chewed me up and then spat me out in a soggy pile on the card room floor. It was brutal.
I had to lay down KQ on a KQ9x turn. The action was too heavy against a lady I’d categorised as tight. It was early stages and I think sometimes you have to go with your instinct and what your head is telling you. Then I had to lay down a BB special in a limped pot holding 9,3 on a flop of 9,3,8. Five way and I check to raise only for it to go bet, call and then a small re-raise. Yuck! You know when you get stopped in your tracks thinking ‘Hey buddy, I was going to do that’? I fold as do the others and he shows 8,8 for a set. Self-congratulatory pat on back to self.
I bust out of one game holding AQ on an A56 board against AJ and the sneaky 5,6 player in mid position takes me out. Then I bust out holding KsQs on a flush draw flop. It all gets in and I miss my flush.
Next game I bust out holding A,A getting it all in on the flop against 10,10 and 9,9. Obviously 9,9 makes a set.......goodbye to me again.
Then the worst one came. From about 120 entries were down to 24. It’s the business end and you have to concentrate. I’d been playing out of my skin and was doing good despite losing a chunk when my KK get busted by AJ. Anyway, I’m on the button and it’s folded to me with AQ. I raise and as he should do, the SB raises all in. It’s an insta-call at this stage and he shows A9. Yes the flop brings a 9 and he has me slightly covered. GL GG nice hand and take the walk of despondency.
Aria – despite my run of bad luck I still think this is the best game and room on the strip. I have a comment about the dealers though. I believe a dealer is there to deal and not comment on the game or how people play. If they want a bit of chat with players then fine during breaks or whilst shuffling and nothing disrespectful to the players then that’s OK. One dealer they have cannot keep their mouth shut and thinks they are a smartass. Nothing directed to me but they certainly commented on how a player played their hand and constantly told the table how wonderful they were. You know the type who have a smart reply for everything. Just STF up and deal. I don’t want to sit listening to asses; I want to sit looking at aces.
I decided to give up on Aria and try out Caesars. I know the juice is high here but I’d just about had enough of the cards at Aria. CP wins the prize as the coldest card room I have ever been in. I was shivering and shaking with goose bumps on my arms. TAKE A JACKET.
I played quite a few games here and did better. I chopped two for about $500 profit each and then played the $235 on Sunday. Good game but you’ve got to watch those blinds as they do shoot up.
About 110 entries eventually I make the it to the bubble. Hand for hand and I pick up KK. Whoopee!!
I raise and get a shove from the SB. I call and he shows ...............AA!?!? No, not on the bubble, that is just sickening. I’m left with few thousand but manage a few double ups to get back in there. Eventually the bubble busts and we get to the FT. Now the blinds get manic at 8/16K. It’s folded to me and in the SB I push my 50-60K with K3. Obviously the BB calls with AK and I bust out in 7th or 8th for about $700. Pleased with it though.
One of my luckiest hands came in that $235 game. The blinds were something like 600/1200 and I had about 13K in the SB. Not good and I need to get chips to survive. MP lady raises to about 4k, call, call and I look down at Ad8d. Now I know she will call my raise all in and if she actually goes AI herself then it may induce the two callers to fold. If my hand holds then I get a double up plus the dead money in the pot. I have one of those ‘screw it, it’s now or never’ moments and push AI. As I expected she goes AI and the callers fold. She shows AK. Be positive, my 8 is live ;-). I flop the nut flush and take in a nice flop. You need luck to get to the business end of a tournament and sometimes you have to make your own luck.
Despite it being cold, I liked the card room at CP. The staff were all friendly and the games were well run. OK, they juice a lot, but the standard of play is softer than Aria or the V. They also give a cheesy tournament winner’s medallion which I guess some touristy players would like to get. I got one for one of the 10pm games that we ended up chopping. I may get a thick gold chain and wear it around my neck over my shirt when I next play in Vegas.
Imperial Palace – I moved from Harrah’s to the IP for the weekend as again prices sky rocketed. I got a deluxe room which was one of the best I’ve ever had at the IP – even a coffee maker. I didn’t notice any construction noise and know how to avoid the slow elevators. The place was packed though and the check in line was snaking out onto the casino floor. Time to use the Platinum check in. Those thousands of dollars I’ve gambled were an excellent investment for this line jump.
Sunday I move over to Bally’s for two comped nights in the north tower. Best room of the trip and I get to check in at 10am. Notch the first win of the day. Like Harrah’s, I have many good memories at Bally’s so I’ll always have a soft spot for the place. Met a dealer from an old trip who remembered me and had a good chat with them whilst playing Texas Hold’em bonus. I always believe you should play any two cards in this game blind before the flop. You don’t know what the flop will bring and are only playing against the dealer. I’m sure someone’s studied the theory and can prove me wrong.
I also played the 0030 tournament at the Flamingo which was a waste of my time, the dealer’s time and the other players’ time. Forget that one.
Saw O’Shea’s closing down and heard about the car lot getting imploded one night.
Food – a problem I have in Vegas is food. i watch my diet and very rarely eat food like fries, chips, sugary food and pastries. That’s most strip options out of the window then. This was also a solo trip so I just wanted somewhere to quickly and healthily refuel ready for the next tournament. The best options I have found are Chipotle burrito bowl avoiding the cheese and any fatty dressing, Asian outlets that will do steamed rice, vegetables and a healthy meat or chicken dish or casino cafes that do omelettes using egg whites as Harrah’s does. I also like the Asian Chicken Wrap from Munch bar at CP. I’d be interested to hear of anyone else that eats similar and what you do.
At Aria I went to the smart sandwich bar (Jean Phillipe??) and asked for the salmon sandwich but no red onions. They said they couldn’t do this as all the sandwiches were pre-prepared. What? You want me to pay $15 for a freaking sandwich but I have to have the onions in it? I could got to BK and get it my way for $5. Whoa! I’m starting to sound like my father.
Earl of Sandwich is another favorite especially the Jerk Chicken sandwich – with or without onions.
Players – I find the general level of tournament play in Vegas soft. If you play enough you do recognise the same faces and know the ones that can play that you need to watch out for. I recognised a handful of players from previous trips that I knew to be good locals. The standard of tournament play at Aria can be excellent with some real tough players. This though is mixed with the usual number of first timers, useless and average players. Some of the play I see in Vegas never ceases to astonish me in its badness. I honestly believe that of you are a competent, patient player then you should do well in Vegas tournaments. You just have to ride the variance and make your luck.
A few players tilted me this trip. One man I was next to in CP kept singing along to the crass songs that they play in there. Stop. You’re grating on me. I had to take a walk to clear him from my head.
Then at Binion’s I sat next to a guy who I think was an Islander and he was huuuge. He was so big he obviously had breathing problems and was gasping and wheezing next to me.
Now I don’t want you to think that I have a thing against fat people (I don’t, in fact some of my best friends are fat) but please give us smaller people some room at the ten person tables. Don’t eat your smelly food munching away at the table right next to my ear. Don’t riffle your chips in your chubby sweaty fingers all game. I’m sorry, I know I shouldn’t but it tilts me sometimes. Fat people feel free to hate me for this.
Hookers – no this isn’t going to be a review section. After a game I like to relax with a few drinks at the hotel bar and a game of VP as a nightcap. On this solo trip this attracted hookers. I probably had about ten approaches some pretty, some scary, some could have been men. The most attractive came up to me at Bally’s. She sat next to me and I immediately notice she was a pretty lady, short skirt, long legs and high heels. Immediately my alarm bells start ringing. She put cash In the VP and I looked to see how much. No player’s card and $5 in. Alarm bells get louder. I glance to her and see she is looking at me. She smiles and I give a non-committal smile and look back to my VP. She immediately cashes out and moves to the next machine away from me. Hey, I hadn’t even turned you down yet. I’m not interested in business but I would have at least expected you to make an offer before snubbing me. Come back, I want to turn you down. Some random guy sits between us and immediately starts the chat with her and I hear them talk business. Within five minutes they’re away.
Thanks for reading!