I have not posted really anything since this summer before my big trip after getting out of the Army. That didn't go as planned, so after spending the summer back home in North Idaho I am now back in school for my Masters. But, I had been getting a little stir crazy from not traveling in eight months, the weather absolutely sucking, and not being able to party or snowboard because of having my gallbladder removed during Christmas break.
I had also been hisitant about posting anything. But one thing I read on another post was the guy said he did it for personal accountability. That really resonated with me, and I'm trying to get back to being accountable myself.
So here's the first chance I have to get away, away from the usual people and places that have become so ordinary.
Friday, January 14
I my school (University of Idaho) and last class of the day (creative non-fiction writing) to get to Spokane, WA for the 4:25 flight to Salt Lake City and onward to Vegas. The flight out of Spokane left without any problem, but the flight leaving Salt Lake was about half an hour late because of the plane getting in late from Minneapolis. I guess they were having a blizzard back east or something. but got out of there and landed in Vegas about 9:30.
Got downtown around 10:00 after waiting for a cab and hanging out with a girl named Cody who was in town visitng her fiance who was there for some convention. This was her first time in Vegas so I was telling her about the spots and tricks I knew about.
I decided to stay on Fremont Street this time instead of the strip. I had been down there a few times, but never for more than a few hours. It was cheap, and I knew the Golden Nugget and Binion's both had no-limit poker games, which is what I was after. After checking into the Golden Nugget I dropped off my bag in my room, which was definitely nicer than the one I stayed in this summer at the Imperial Palace, but not as nice at Planet Hollywood. I headed down to the poker room with $500 and got right into a $1/$2 no-limit game. It's a nice room, a little cramped, but gets plenty of smoke from the rest of the casino. And surprisingly the cocktail waitresses are definitely good looking, especially for a downtown casino.
I played for about four hours, drinking the whole time. During a couple bathroom breaks I dropped a couple hundred at the blackjack tables, admittingly stupid of me. At the poker table I was up about a hundred bucks, then basically back to even the whole time. Then I got moved to a wild table with a bunch of middle-aged guys betting way above a $1/$2 game. They each had about $2,000 of so, compared to my $300~ish stack. So, being a little bored and drunk I got in a stupid hand and lost my stack when I tried to buy it with bottom pair and got called by second pair. Oops......
So then I got another $500 out of the ATM, plus $500 from my room and decided to check out pretty much all of the downtown casinos. incidentally, I had brought $1,800 with my from Moscow. That was part of the $6,200 I got from financial aid because I'm on the GI Bill and get all of my financial aid money direct deposited. So total, I had $2,300 in cash, and the trip itself cost about $600 for flight and hotel.
I headed over to Binion's to see if I could fart around in a low-limit game. They had one NL table going, which was full, and what looked like a five-handed limit game. Neither looked appealing, so I played some blackjack with some dealer who was old as dirt and slow as a snail. I play an agressive blackjack game, which got me into trouble this summer. I like playing three hands at a time, but nowdays stay away from Harrah's properties because they are restrictive. I found out that the downtown casinos are also extreme limiting. The pit boss at Binion's would not let me play my normal three hands. When I told her I had played three hands here before she just said "that was before." So yeah, Binion's is on my list of "places that suck." I went around to the rest of the places downtown and usually spent $100 at each one. I won some back at one of the places, the Vegas Club or the Golden Gate Casino I think. But stayed up until about 7:00 loosing a little here and there. I decided to call it a night with about $1,200 left, not a good start.
Overall downtown is not at all what I like. The NL games are more stupid than playable. For blackjack, the casinos are incredibly restrictive and not at all worth trying to eack out a profit.
Saturday, January 15
Saturday was a day of up and down, some stupidity and some genius :) I got up around 2:00 and the NFL playoffs were already underway with the Steelers v Ravens game. It was really cool being in Vegas during the playoffs, every casino had a huge crowd that was cheering anytime anything happened. Although it would have been more exciting to be around for the porn convention the weekend before!
After grabbing some Starbucks I got a cab to the Stratosphere. I figured it was on the way and I hadn't really checked the place out since going to dinner with a group of friends over a year ago. I got into a $2/$4 limit game, figuring it would be good to just mess around for fun and maybe make a few bucks. The Stratosphere had a cool promotion going on for the playoffs, at the end of each quarter they would give out some cash promo. At the end of the first quarter the total score was 14-7, totally 21. So, the poker room manager came over and dumped $210 into the pot before the cards were dealt. Needless to say, everyone was in the pot to the end. Unfortunately, I missed my gotshot straight and couldn't take in the monster pot, for a low limit game that is. I only stayed about half an hour and lost my $100 buyin, embarassingly to say. So then I hit a blackjack table for a little bit and made $100 plus the $100 I lost in the poker room. So day 2 looked like it was starting good.
From there I headed to the Bellagio, but the poker room had a big list and didn't look like it was moving any time soon. I played some blackjack on a six-deck table, and after about an hour and a few buyins cashed out $200 and change above.
I played a little single-deck blackjack at the new Cosmopolitan, which even though they don't have a poker room and is kind of small compared to places live the Bellagio or Aria, it is incredibly nice! I'll have to show you their 3-story chandelier bar, with a bar on each floor.
From there I went to Aria for their 7:00 tournament but only lasted the first few rounds. There was only about 40 people registered, but I just didn't get any cards. I ended up going all in qith QJs on a board of 8s10s3h8d, got called by A10 and missed all my outs.
So then I went next door to the Monte Carlo. I had to grab another Starbucks on the way, as my gas tank was running near empty. I got on a blackjack table and made a couple hundred bucks after about half an hour. Nothing too hot going on there, but it looked like I may be making my money back.
I decided to hit up Hooters. I had seen it during that December trip, but I figured there are hot girls and cheap tables over there. But when I got there it was packed! I should have figured for a Saturday night, I guess.
So then I got another taxi and headed to the Hard Rock. The cab driver on the way talked on and on about some massage parlor somewhere just off the northern part of the strip. It sounded like a good time, but didn't fit it into my schedule, unfortunately........
I've always like The Hard Rock. And Saturday night it was hopping! I found an empty table with a really hot and surprisingly ample-bussomed Chinese girl. The table was more expensive, but after 10 minute I was up a few hundred bucks and thought it was looking good. But then some hot brunett girl took over and it went downhill from there. I left that table and put my name on the NL list, but decided to try another table. And that's where the rest of my $100 bills went, I would say about $800 in about 10 minutes.
I left the Hard Rock, pissed at myself and starting to worry about money matters. The taxi line was about 70 people deep, but I decided I needed a walk and hiked the long haul back to the strip. I still had about $360 in $20 bills in my pocket, and knew the easiest games on the strip are at Bally's, The Flamingo, Bill's or the Imperial Palace.
Bally's was freaking packed all over the place. The $1/$2 list had about 30 people waiting, so I figured it wasn't worth the wait to stick around.
I passed through Bill's on the way, knowing the games are nitoreously filled with idiots (and TBC). Plus, the game is $0.50/$1 with low buy-ins, so I would have options. But, the poker room had moved from the front of the casino and I didn't feel like wondering around there to find it.
So I moved over to The Flamingo, dug out the last $300 in my pocket and got into a $1/$2 NL game that looked promising. Within the first half hour I got mixed up in a hand where I flopped top two pair with 10J against top-pair top-kicker (AJ). The other guy had been wrecklesly on a number of flops before, and we were all-in on the flop and I ended up winning, up about $200. From there I went on a nice heater at that table for about six hours. I made seom friends along the way (players and dealers). I played all kinds of hands, mostly because the table sucked and I wanted to look wild. I think when I called a preflop raise with 85off, flopped top pair and called an $85 flop all in against ace-high, I had successfully portrayed my idiot image. I ended up cashing out $1,300 and change by the time I called it a night just after 6:00 in the morning.
I had gotten really close to the felt that night, due to my own stupidity and lack of patience. But, I was heading back to my hotel with about half my money and a day and a half left.
Sunday, January 16
I got up just before 1:00 that afternoon. I had meant to get up earlier that morning to put a bet on the Seahawk's v Bears game. I was going to bet on Seattle, so luckly thing I slept in and missed out. My dad and I had been talking about the game the day before, and when I got up there was a message from my dad saying just how bad the game was going. I did manage to catch the rest of it that afternoon. Seattle made a good comeback in the 4th quarter, but too little too late.
So, like the morning before I grabbed some Starbucks and caught a cab to the Riveria. I had heard there was a good indian place in their food court and wanted to check it out. But when I got there, there were 20 or 30 Indian people in line, so I decided to get a sandwich and watch the end of the Seattle game. I also checked out their poker room, but there was just one dealer sitting in an empty room and I moved on. I walked from there down to the Wynn and checked out the place, since I hadn't been inside since 2006. It still looked amazing, and still had the Ferari dealership just down the hall from the poker room. But, the games had a big list and there weren't a lot of tables so I moved down the strip. I decided that I would head back to the Flamingo around 8:00 and see if I could make any kind of repeat of the night before.
I then went by the poker room at the Mirage where practically everyone was glued to the Patriots v Packers game. I got into a NL game after waiting for about 10 minutes, and it was a pretty entertaining table. I only ended up about $100, but sat with a couple old guys at my table who were all into sports betting. One guy kept talking about how he used to make a lot on sports back in the 70's and 80's, and another guy talked about how he was a bookie for 20 years in California. So, I cashed out and headed down the street.
I played a little NL at the Bellagio and after some lucky catches (making a straight with AJ against AA) I was up a few hundred. From there I went over to Planet Hollywood but lost my $300 buy-in after loosing a couple stupid hands and going on tilt.
From there I went back to The Cosmopolitan and the single-deck table. I decided $400 was my goal, to get back the $300 I droped at PH. It took about half an hour and a couple dealers, but cashed out $500 and got off tilt.
Before getting to the Flamingo's poker room I decided to get some dinner, but not at a burger stand or some cheap place like McDonald's. So I went to the Oasis Cafe in the back on the Flamingo's casino and had an amazing prime rib dinner! Although it would probably rate a two-star compared to other strip restaurants it was still great diner food.
I got into a NL table at the Flamingo just after 8:00. It went kind of like the night before up until about 10:30. At that time I just didn't get any cards worth even calling, not even to fit a maniac's image. Just after 11:00 I decided to walk around and cashed out $600 and change ahead. Things were definitely lookling good, maybe good enough to make my money back!
I went across the street to Caesar's Palace and bounced around a couple blackjack tables only to make $100. I fooled around a little bit in their Pussycat Doll pit, but despite the hot girls bouncing around I found the game and dealers only mildly entertaining.
I then decided to head over to the Bellagio, and this is where things really got interesting. I found an empty table, playing three hands at $25 each. I bought in for $200 and after 20 minutes sharing the table with some hot Asian chicks and the guy I had craked Aces earlier, I colored up about $350 ahead. Then I changed tables, but the dealer standing there went on break. For the 20 minutes he was gone I went up or down a hundred bucks and was basically even when he came back, just short of the $550 I sat down with. The returning dealer was named David, and was a retired Air Force NCO. He had been all over the world too, so we talked a lot! But the cool part when I could not make a wrong move on this guy's table! I could have awful hands, and he would flip over a 15 and bust, or give me all little cards giving my three 21's! I even remember one hand doubling with an 11 into a king and getting something like 14. David flips over a deuce and draws a 10. Cha ching! The most I bet was three hands at $35, but hit a lot of them! By the time he had to change tables I had a nice stack. Once he left, we shook hands and I decided to color up, cashing out $1,200 and change.
Then I went back to The cosmopolitan and played the single-deck table. On the first hand I played two hands at $25 each, one with 66 and the other with 22 with the dealer showing a 6. I ended up splitting and doubling each hand. On the last split I had a 25. The pit boss who had been watching jokingly suggested I finish it out and double. At first I said that was dumb, but decided "what the hell" and tossed out my last $25 chip. The dealer busted giving me $200 in the first hand with half the deck dealt! I finished the deck, gave the dealer $25 and color in $475. The pit boss who was watching the game came over to fist-bump me when he saw the big first hand.
Part of my celebration if I got my money back was to have a martini at the chadilier bar. I'll admit that I didn't know a martini was basically five shots of chilled vodka. It was intimidating, but downed the whole thing without even a chaser!
I cashed out there and headed back to the Flamingo to play a little and say hi to a few people. I ended up feeling REALLY hammered when I got there, and after saying hi to a few dealers cashed out $180 up.
Then it was over to the Mirage for a quick $250 score on blackjack and breakfast. FYI, they have INCREDIBLE bacon at the little diner in the Mirage! I was still pretty smashed, so I don't remember the name of the place, but I remember it's the only one open at that time of the morning.
I then decided for a last stop at Treasure Island. I went into their high-limit room, but played three-handed between $25 and $50 bets. I made a $300 score and decided to call it a night.
I had planned on going to bed around 2:00 in the morning to get up on time and check out without feeling too much like a zombie the next day. By the time I got downtown, found out the strip club down there was closed, showered and ready for bed it was just about 6:00 in the morning. The girl at the reception counter did give me another hour on my check out time, so that helped out a little.
Monday, January 17
I got up at 11:00 to pack up and check out. And man, was I feeling like I hadn't slept in three days. But, I packed up alright, got some Starbucks, checked out and headed to the Bellagio. I decided I was up enough, so played for a few hours at the NL tables in Caesar's and the Bellagio. I had some really good hands, getting pocket kings twice at the B and flopping sets twice at Caesar's, but played it conservatively and cashed out $300 and change ahead beetween the two rooms.
Just after 4:00 I caught a cab and headed to the airport for my 6:25 flight back to Spokane through Salt Lake City.
Once I got home to Moscow (my college town), sometime around 1:00 in the moring I counted my cash for a final tole. It came out to just over $4,600. Having paid for everything in Vegas in cash, and figuring in flight, hotel and cash I brought ot pulled out, it was a profit of $1,800. Not a bad weekend, considering how low I had hit.
There were a lot of poker hands that are of discussion, but I'll save that for some other time. Besides that, the MGM properties and Treasure Island are the best for blackjack. You can play multiple hands at the table min, double after splits, split aces more than once, and can double on any two cards. By contrast, most Harrah's properties (and downtown casinos) either won't let you play three hands, or require you to play at least five times the table min. Sometimes there are doubles after splits, sometimes not. Sometimes you can only double on 10 or 11 only. This probably isn't the right place for such discussion, but worth noting for the trip.