Back in February, in the midst of a four month “Day After Tomorrow”-esque winter in Iowa, the thought of a couples getaway weekend in Vegas beckoned as the perfect escape. Of course, juggling work schedules for four professionals is never easy, so our “winter” getaway got scheduled for mid-May—during the most perfect Iowa weekend of the year (sunny, low 80s)! But, Vegas is still Vegas, so we really didn’t feel much regret jumping on board our flight …
My Friday actually started off dealing with a preflight road bump. I had agreed several months ago to represent the 19 v/o nephew of a good friend in a shoplifting case. He’s a good kid, clean record, so I was able to work out a plea deal where he got a deferred judgment; basically, keep his nose clean for a year and nothing would go on his record. Well, he was scheduled to actually plead out in front of the judge that morning, so Thursday I went to find an associate to cover the hearing (a three minute process). While on the phone with my client and my associate, my client says those words no attorney wants to hear: “Ummm, yeah, there’s something I gotta tell ya.” He then proceeds to tell me he had been arrested again the day prior … for shoplifting! Of course, this ruins the plea deal we had on the table, so, instead of sleeping in, I had to get up early Friday and go to court to try to figure out some way to salvage matters. My job would be easy if it weren’t for clients ….
Idiot client saved from jail, our crew was off to the airport. Joining me on the flight were fellow AVPer Jugweed (also an attorney and Kansas fan); Jugweed’s wife “Anastasia Beaverhausen” (an attorney in my firm); and my fiance’/significant other, “Just Jack” (a/k/a “I Da Ho”, second cousin of Flo Rida, and an elementary school teacher). Jugweed and I were the hardcore poker players, while Anastasia and Jack were the self-designated drinkers, shoppers, and celebrity watchers. Flight was on-time, baggage and taxi lines were minimal, and we were checking in at TI by 3:30 Vegas time. There was a lengthy line at check-in, so Anastasia and Jack went to drink at the Breeze Bar while Jugweed and I got checked in (room reservations made back in February by Danette in the TI poker room—no snags at all on check-in).
All four of us took turns being ignored at the Breeze Bar by an older male bartender who had no problem serving basically the rest of the casino. We finally decided to check out the Palazzo, which none of us had been through before. It has some pretty cool details, but the vibe was not nearly as interesting as the Venetian or any number of other casinos. Something about the room just seems to suck the energy out of the place (not to mention they clearly are angling for a significantly wealthier clientele than our group, with $1 slots being the Palazzo’s version of nickel slots). We wandered on over to the Venetian and got margaritas, and Jack and Anastasia hit the Wheel of Fortune slots. We also stopped at the entrance to the Madame Tussaud’s museum to let Jack get a picture of him feeling up Nicholas Cage’s crotch (to go with his pictures of him flipping off Whoopi Goldberg and John Wayne from prior trips). Then it was back to TI to get ready for dinner. Jack and I stopped off at the Mist Bar in TI for a couple of extra mojitos; good drinks, but probably a more fun place later in the evening.
Dinner was at FIX Restaurant at Bellagio (full report/review here). FIX has a fun, energetic vibe, good food (love me some fried mac & cheese!), and great cocktails. After dinner, Anastasia and Jack headed off to browse the Bellagio shops before going to see the late showing of “O”. Jugweed and I, meanwhile, headed back to TI to start grinding out some poker hours.
Unfortunately, not much really stands out from the poker session. I had cold cards most of the session (QQ was the only premium hand I saw all night), and most of my big draws missed. I lost one big pot to Jugweed when I bet 99 strong the whole way on a ragged A-high board, and he passively check-called the whole way … b@st@rd! I ended up running a couple of big bluffs against a few passive type players to end up only down ~$200. Jugweed, though, ground out a nice profit.
Around 1:00 a.m., Anastasia and Jack got back from O, clearly hammered (they each took turns privately ratting out the other for catnapping during the show). They claimed to be planning to play some Wheel of Fortune slots and heading to bed, but I could tell Jack was in his obnoxious hyperactive drunk mode, never a good sign. Last July on a couples trip to Vegas with my brother and his wife, Jack walked hammered from MGM to Harrah’s at midnight, stopping every couple with kids to inform them they were terrible parents for having their kids with them: “I’m a mandatory reporter! That’s child abuse!” With that image in mind, I feared the worst. Sure enough, when I got back to the room around 4:30 a.m., Jack was nowhere to be seen. After calling his cell about 12 times (no exaggeration), he finally answered and slurred out that he was “on the Strip in a bar”. Thanks, that helps ... After talking to a girl at the same bar, I discovered Jack was at either Harrah’s or Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall. I convinced Jack to meet me on the sidewalk outside Harrah’s, where I then walked his drunk @ss back to TI. All the way, he kept talking to every stranger we passed (including the ones he stumbled into), mostly criticizing their attire, and occasionally declaring, “I’m too pretty to walk, I want a limo.” How I got him to TI without being arrested or getting into a fight, I have no clue ….
Saturday morning rolled around, and we headed down to the pool around 10:30. I had reserved a cabana (with an assist from Danette at the TI poker room) which turned out to be money well spent. The pool was packed, but we had a cabana, cushioned pool chairs, an LCD TV, and mini-fridge with water and soda. We also had rather attentive service. I was drunk by 2:00, so I went to nap while the others worked on their tans and kept drinking. Around 5:00 I headed down to play poker where I was joined by Jugweed, while Anastasia and Jack headed to the Caesars Forum Shops. Frankly, the session was pretty *bleh* with no real hands of note, ended up right at even; Jugweed continued to take money from babes and Canadians.
Around 8:30, our group headed off to dinner, with Jack wearing his newly purchased fabulous outfit (Diesel jeans and Armani Exchange shirt, for those fashionistas reading this report). Apparently, Jack and Anastasia had continued drinking while shopping, with Jack entering his hyper drunk mode. We wandered over to the Palazzo to try out Dos Caminos (full report/review here). On the way to the Palazzo, we stopped to let Anastasia and Jack get photos taken with a Humpty Dumpty sculpture outside a restaurant in the Venetian hallway leading to the Palazzo. Although we had to wait an hour for a table, the bar and restaurant were pretty energetic and fun. When we finally got seated, our server asked what we wanted to drink and Jack blurted out, “queso fundido blah blah blah blah blah” with random and incoherent Spanish words replacing the “blahs”. Now, queso fundido is on the appetizer menu, but none of us had a clue what he meant by the rest; frankly, the server looked a little freaked out. We made it through drinks and appetizers without further incident, but during the wait for our entrees, Jack kept nodding off for a few seconds, then jerking back awake and demanding to know where our food was … and threatening to go find it!
Anastasia managed to keep Jack calm enough to finish our meal, but the walk back to TI was an adventure. As we passed the Humpty Dumpty sculpture from earlier in the evening, two middle-aged women were having their pictures taken, so Jack jumped in, bellowing, “I want my picture taken with Humpty too!”, apparently forgetting the pictures we had taken less than three hours before. Anyway, we managed to drag Jack through the Venetian without being stopped by security. Jack had some trouble with the escalator from the bridge down to TI, causing some people on the “up” escalator to stare—as Jugweed noted, “You know you’re drunk when people in Vegas stop for a doubletake.” As we walked to TI, Jack decided to run up to groups of strangers and yell out, “Look it’s Paris Hilton!” or “Oh my god, it’s Beyonce!” Funny to us, probably a little alarming to them …
I managed to pour Jack into bed before he hit his super-hyper phase, and joined Jugweed and Anastasia for a poker session (Anastasia actually has pretty good poker chops, though she prefers 2/4 limit right now in the casino setting). Again, not a lot of memorable hands. The one hand I do remember was against the guy at the table who thought he was too good to be playing such small stakes and decided I was the guy he wanted to bust—every hand I played, he jumped in too. Anyway, I have Jh9h OTB, five of us see a flop of Qh9d8h, so a pretty big draw for me. Long story short, table captain and I get it all in right there, and I turn my flush … only to lose when a fourth heart hits and captain rolls AsQh. I kept grinding until 5:00 or so, and rallied to end up down only $200 or so, but a hand like that can make or break a session.
Sunday rolled around and Jack was still dead to the world at 10:00 a.m. when I woke up. Anastasia and Jugweed called and we decided to play the 11:00 a.m. NLHE tourney. Of course, as usual, my play ranged from incompetent to putrid, leaving me with a short stack early. I almost compounded the bad play by trying but failing to bust out prior to the rebuy period expiring, but I managed to accomplish that goal and get a new stack just minutes before the first break. Coming back refreshed from break, I managed to bust out by the fifth level when my flopped top two got run down by a monster combo draw. Jugweed busted out shortly after that, but Anastasia made a strong run, finishing just a couple of spots out of the final table.
By this point, Jack had finally decided to roll out of bed, so we headed to lunch at the Grand Luxe Café at the Venetian, taking advantage of my $60 in poker comps racked up during my past two trips. Jack cracked us all up by asking, “Where did we eat dinner last night” What did I have have?” In his defense, Jack claims the bartender slipped him a roofie … :roll:
After lunch, we headed to the Stratosphere so Jack could ride the rides on the top (I had done this on a prior trip, and having cheated death once, refused to tempt the fates again). Jack survived his ordeal and we headed to the casino to have a couple of drinks and play some cheap craps ($5 min., 10x max. odds) and Wheel of Fortune slots. The craps table sucked, as I got the table set several times, only to have some yahoo throw a 7. Jugweed and I headed off to find the spousal units who looked quite pleased with themselves. Turns out some creepy guy had been following them around and managed to try to rub up on Anastasia. Now Anastasia is a pretty fierce gal, so she promptly got the attention of security by screaming, “I have a taser and I’ll use it!” Apparently not wanting to call her bluff, security escorted the creepy dude outside. Fun times!
We headed back to TI where Jugweed and I headed to the poker room while Anastasia and Jack headed out for more shopping. The session started poorly when I flopped the nut straight (86s on a 5-7-9 board) against Jugweed and he went runner-runner J-K holding QT (yes, QT!) to snap me for ~$250 (he claims he thought I was bluffing ... b@st@rd!). I finally caught a hot run of cards, getting AA three times in half an hour, hit a couple of sets and a couple of straights, and also flopped quad 9s, making ~$250 profit and a bonus $100 for the HHJ (running my streak of HHJs at TI to three straight trips, for a total of two straight flushes and four sets of quads—any wonder why I love TI?). I also managed to felt a nice Canadian (they were all over Vegas due to the Victoria Day holiday up north) when I played 74s OTB against his preflop raise and a couple of calls. The flop was A-Q-7 with one diamond. He bet only half the pot ($25), so I thought he might have a PP like KK/JJ/TT and was just c-betting. In position, I called, thinking I would try to take the pot on the turn. Well, the turn hits another 7—Candyland!!—and we end up getting it all-in right there. Canadian guy shows top two and fails to improve, and frankly looked a little annoyed at my call on the flop; that’s what poker is all aboot, eh? ;-) By the time dinner rolled around, I had made a healthy $1450 profit, more than making up the prior poker and craps losses (but not yet covering spousal fees!).
Dinner was at Social House, and was one of the highlights of the trip (full report/review here). Although dinner took over two hours, the food and drinks were amazing! I highly recommend the blueberry mojito and the ginger saketini, as well as the mini Kobe burgers, the citrus miso cod (recommended by Danette), and the yellowtail jalapeno sashimi. Let’s just say those TI poker room comps were put to great use!
After dinner, we headed out as a group to play pai gow poker, a great way to score cheap drinks. Anastasia and Jack had never played before, so the dealer (Mark) was having fun teaching them the game, cracking jokes, and making a fun table. Then, disaster struck in the form of the Wicked Witch of Pai Gow (name withheld to protect the unpleasant). The Pai Gow Witch was a total control freak who was extraordinarily impatient with Anastasia and Jack, and frankly downright rude. Throw in the fact that the drink girl was also rude (“Stop asking about your drinks, I’m busy, you’ll get them eventually”) and the pai gow experience was a total buzz-killer.
Deciding that the Wicked Witch of Pai Gow was bad mojo for a vacation, Jack and Anastasia hit the Wheel of Fortune slots and had some drinks while Jugweed and I headed back for more poker. Anastasia crashed around 11:00, but Jack, fresh off his 14 hour power nap the night before, was still in hyper-drinking mode. Fearing that bail money would put a major hit on my poker bankroll, I cashed out and wandered with Jack down to Harrah’s to catch the last 2 hours of the dueling piano show, a tradition of ours. You absolutely have to catch this crazy show, which this time included, amongst other sites, a crazy fat 40 year old guy grinding on three drunk college girls. The show was a riot, and we managed to put back a few drinks as well.
We headed back to TI where I managed to get Jack to pass out safely, then I headed back to the poker room to check up on Jugweed. We ended up playing until 5:30, taking money from drunk Canadians until we had to leave for the airport.
Altogether, it was a fun, relaxing vacation … can’t wait for my next trip! BTW, a big shout out to Danette for setting up the rooms and cabana, and taking great care of us on our room rate (she got it knocked down to $129 for two of the nights, even though the Strip was packed and basic rooms on the internet had been jacked to over $400 the week before our trip). Also, thanks to the poker room managers and dealers for a fun poker experience; TI may not be the Venetian, but it is still my favorite small room on the Strip.