Day 1 (8/27/09)
I had a friend drive me from work to the Des Moines INTERNATIONAL airport to catch the 2:40 p.m. direct Allegiant flight to Vegas. Left on time, smooth flight, arrived early, touchdown at 3:14 p.m. Vegas time. Excellent, I thought. A large soon-to-be wedding party was on the flight in the back of the plane having a great time. They might have had to go sleep it off as soon as they reached their respective hotel. I picked up my bag at baggage claim after a short wait. I then, as usual, bought a $6 shuttle ticket to take me to the Flamingo. I knew I was in trouble when I boarded the shuttle and the AC was having a tough time being effective in the 107 degree heat. I knew I was in trouble when they were showing a movie (Sum of All Fears…which reminded me that Alec Baldwin was always the best Jack Ryan) on the shuttle! I knew I was in bigger trouble when the shuttle didn’t take the road that runs behind the Flamingo, etc. and instead proceeded to get on the freeway (15). After slowly y progressing to the exit for Frank Sinatra Drive (gotta at least like that name) visiting Luxor, Excalibur, Monte Carlo, NYNY, Bellagio, Paris, and Bally’s I was dropped at the Flamingo. It could have been worse. There were still people on the shuttle headed to Imperial Palace and Harrah’s. I’ve taken the shuttle many times. I was never put on one that made those early stops if I was going to the Flamingo. Anyway, I’d arrived. Once again I knew I was in trouble when the Flamingo up escalator wasn’t working (of course the down one was). So I dragged my bag up the stairs and waited in line to check into my GO room with a strip view. The line moved fairly quickly, check in was quick, and I headed to my room. I knew I was in trouble when my two room keys didn’t work. I headed back downstairs, went to the counter and announced that my keys did not work. They said, ok, you need to go get in that line! So, after waiting in another line I got new keys and headed to my room on the 16th floor. The carpet in the hallways of the GO room floors is different than the other floors. It was not, however, cleaner. I did get into my room and I have to say it’s both unique and nice. They gave me a jazz CD to pop in the stereo sound system which was a plus. The drapes and shears are button operated although the shears button moves the drapes and the drapes button moves….nothing. I did have a GREAT view of the strip. The sound system was excellent. There is a refrigerator in the room. Flat screen HD TV. The TV in the mirror in the bathroom was also a nice touch. I was going to make notes on my trip to this point using the hotel room’s pen and stationary….but there was none. Ok, good thing I had my laptop.
I played 2 hours at Venetian after following dinner at the Flamingo’s Tropical Breeze (which is no longer open between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.). I finished down $30 with no hands of note. AKo was only decent hand I was dealt. I did have the pleasure of meeting Cardgrrl and Rakewell when someone at my table stopped them to introduce himself. He turned out to be measurecutcurse, an AVP member who has family in Iowa. As I was leaving I stopped to listen to the regular evening band at the Venetion’s La Sensa bar and noted that they had added scantily clad dancers. It seemed very un-Venetian like to me. I hadn’t yet realized that almost everywhere in Vegas had added dancers. I picked up a $1 bottle of Michelob Lager at Casino Royale on my way back to the Flamingo. I then checked out band at Bill’s and got $2 Coors Light in a can. The band was not good but the beer was and people were having a good time. I then paused to have my picture taken with a nice looking girl at the outside bar in front of Flamingo entrance. Naturally, she included a light up dildo/vibrator in the photo along with our two large smiles. She indicated I was light up dildo/vibrator photo #27. Oh, I neglected to mention that Toby Keith’s was hopping at Harrah’s. I also checked it out on my way back. There was a lot of drinking and dancing going on. The Piano Bar was also hopping with dueling pianos (blonde twins) going. Carnival Court was also packed. Back at the Flamingo, I played some video poker for drinks one of the bars. I’m not sure I achieved a positive EV on my 4 baileys and cream because the bartender was kind of a hardcore about ensuring I was playing and making max bets. But it was worth it just to listen to an attractive woman from Wyoming talking to an older retired guy from Jersey. Apparently her husband had left her alone while playing poker. After they got up to go play roulette (or whatever) a nice hooker sat down to converse with me. 2:30 a.m. in Vegas. 4:30 a.m. in Iowa. Time for bed (without the hooker). No alarm!
Day 2 (8/28/09)
I slept in until 9:36 a.m. Vegas time, 11:36 a.m. Iowa time. I then had breakfast (eggs, bacon, toast, hasbrowns, coffee) at Tropical Breeze while reading the USA today. I checked out the pool afterwards. There was a new (to me anyway) GO pool for people over 21. There was a wide variety of topless folks, not all of them male. I didn’t stick around since I didn’t have my wife with me and I was feeling kind of like a dirty 50 year old man. I headed up to the room to shower before poker. Before showering, I paused to enjoy the strip view. I was starting to appreciate the GO room more. I couldn’t figure out where the “do not disturb” sign was though. I decided it must be with the missing pen and stationary. After a shower, I walked up to the Mirage to check out the Poker Room. I’d never played there and decided to give it a shot. I thought it was a very nice room with a perfect restroom location, and very proficient dealers. It did lack cupholders built into the table. I believe it was a $4 rake and no jackpot drop so that was a plus for me. I finished down $45 ($75 for the trip) in a 3 hour session. I had at least one donk hand where I limped with Q/10 suited (mistake one). Flop was Qxx. I bet and two folded, V calls. Turn was a blank. V checks, I checked due to concern over my lousy kicker (mistake two). River is a blank…or so I thought. V bets $50, I call (probably mistake 3) knowing he could be playing anything. Turns out he rivered a straight playing 7/5 offsuit. My bet on the flop did not give him pot odds to call. I guess he knew I was a sucker and the implied odds were there. Afterwards, I had a hot pastrami sandwich, pickle, and MGD at Carnagie Deli. It was outstanding and huge. I took half of it back to my room with me.
On a side note, as I was walking back into the Flamingo I checked out the poker room. There was a guy playing that had the biggest head I’d ever seen. He also had the biggest jaw and chin. Sorry, just caught my eye.
After getting some rest, I headed back to the Mirage and the Rhumbar to see if the meet Cardgrrl had suggested on AVP was taking place. Well, Cardgrrl, Rakewell, Minton, zippyboy , and ckbwop there. DMuz75 also joined us. We sat outside and talked and had a couple drinks. I had a very nice meeting and getting to know some very nice people. Well, nice except for the waitress who was extremely attractive but seemed to have a bad attitude. Eventually Cardgrrl and ckbwop needed food so they, Rakewell and zippyboy were off to BLT. DMuz75, Minton, and I headed over to Casino Royale and Minton taught me about playing the free slots outside the casino to get 2 for 1 beer tickets. We ended up getting six beers for $7 including tip. So we each had a couple beers, shot the breeze, and DMuz75 made enough on video poker to cover his Rhumbar drinks. After that, Minton and I walked down to Harrahs were we observed Pai Gow and he explained the game to me. It was great to meet everyone and I appreciated the hospitality.
Then I was off on a long trek to Excalibur. I took pictures and emailed them to my wife, daughter and son via my cell phone while I walked. I figured I needed to find a place where the competition wasn’t as tough as what I had experienced at the Venetian and Mirage. I played for an hour and ½ at Excalibur. The waitress was great. I’d never had a waitress stop by so often and she was easy on the eyes with a nice foreign accent. She also had ample glitter to highlight other ample assets. Plus, she called me honey. I sat next to a couple of very nice guys from Canada. I ended the session up $82 (+$7 for the trip). I decided to quit while I was ahead for the session and up for the trip. I wanted to go to bed on a positive note. I strolled through NYNY (hopping), Planet Hollywood (hopping), Paris (dead), Bally’s, and Bill’s on my way back to the Flamingo. It was 3:00 a.m. (5:00 a.m. Iowa time) and time for bed after gazing out Marie Osmond’s mouth….I think that’s about where my hotel window was…. at the strip for a minute).
Random thought: Why do guys in Vegas dress so much worse than the girls they are with? At least I had an excuse for my attire, my wife wasn’t with me.
Day 3 (8/29/09)
I slept in until about 10:30 a.m. I found that my wife had left me a voice message and tried to call about 3 times. She was trying to find out what kind of mulch I had used in a couple of landscaped areas in our backyard so she could get the same kind for one other spot. So I called and clued her in. Let’s see….solo in Vegas, sleep when I want with no alarm, eat when I want, play poker when I want, have a drink when I want….or Urbandale, IA and mulching a flower bed and digging holes for some plants that were on sale. Sometimes all is right with the world.
I had my usual breakfast of 3 eggs over easy, hash browns, bacon, and rye toast at the Tropical Breeze and then returned to my room to shower. The GO room showers have body jets and they felt great on my lower left back which can hurt from too much walking and/or standing on concrete….which is pretty much all of Vegas. It was also nice watching Zach Johnson and Tiger Woods play golf on the TV in the bathroom mirror while shaving and brushing my teeth. More points for the GO room although I still hadn’t found a do not disturb sign, stationary, or a pen and the control for the sheers ran the drapes. Also, the hair dryer didn’t lock open although it did work. So I made do. I also noticed the maid didn’t replace the shampoo bottle and left the floor matt/towel instead of giving me a new one. I really didn’t care but I suspect my travel director bride would have had these things quickly corrected . I’m not sure what that says about her or me other than that we are different.
I played about an hour and 50 minutes at the Flamingo. I finished the session up +$5 (up +$12 for the trip). A couple of guys made it very much an action game with high variance so I played very tight. The biggest action guy, who supposedly was up $1,000 playing that way the night before, went through $600 and left to play blackjack. I decided to play at the Venetian again. I stopped at Harrahs and had a $6 foot long chili dog, chips, and soda. I made my way to the Venetian and walked through the shops. Those people that pose like statues are fun to watch. I finally made it to the poker room where I suffered a slow death by 1,000 cuts. I finished the 2 hour and 15 minute session down -$128 (down -$116 for the trip). I need an opinion on one hand. I was dealt AKo in late position. One limper and I raise to $12. Both blinds and the limper call my raise. $48 in the pot. Flop is A, 4, 4. It checks around to me. I bet $50. The small blind re-raises to $100. He was new to the table so I didn’t have a read. What do you put him on? What do you do? I tanked and then folded. I figured I needed to raise or fold. He had bought in for the $300 max. I probably had $240 at the time the hand started. Anyway, there seemed to be 2 or 3 better players at the table so I decided to find easier pickings and headed back towards the Flamingo. I did stop to take a cell phone picture of midget Elvis and another of 4 guys visiting Vegas that decided to dress as Super Heroes for the night.
I decided it was time for a little video poker at the Bellagio so they and MGM know I was there. I have a couple Baileys and cream playing video poker at Fontana’s Bar while listening to an excellent band. I then decide to head over to Bally’s in honor of Grange95 and try the poker room there. I sit down at a 1/2 NL table and buy-in for the max of $300. I quickly realized I’m one of the short stacks with one guy having about $1,700 in front of him. Needless to say I play tight. I’m down to maybe $230 when I limp in middle position with QJo. $12 in the pot. Flop is something like Q63 with maybe a heart flush draw. I bet $12 and get 3 callers. $60 in the pot. Turn is something like a 5 or 7 of clubs. No flush possible yet. I bet $50 and get one caller after the other villain tanks and folds. $160 in the pot. River is a something like an 8 of spades maybe. No flush possible. I believe there was a possible straight but it would have been unlikely for the remaining villain to be in the hand with the cards that would make the straight. He was, however, the $1,700 stack and had been pushing the table around. I decided to be cautious since I had only top pair and decent kicker (weak/passive I know) and check. Big stack villain bets $140. I tank for a bit. He had played some pretty strange hands aggressively. I decided what the heck and call. He was playing 10/4 hearts (I waited for him to show…he wanted me to show so he could just muck) and I take the pot which moved me from a stack of under $300 to a stack of about $575 (I may not have all the math right on this one). I stayed a little while longer and decideed it was a good time for a hit and run. I left after an hour and 10 minute session up +$274 for the session and up +158 for the trip. I headed to Bill’s and get a $2 Coors Light and then stop at the Flamingo for a bit.
Random thoughts: Why didn’t I think to invest in the company that makes little black dresses? They are everywhere. What’s up with go go dancers everywhere in Vegas now? PH, Flamingo, Ballys, Venetian, Excalibur. Far more dancers than I’d seen in the past. Some suits must have done a cost benefit analysis and determined that the added cost of the dancers is more than offset by incrementally greater gambling and drinking due to the dancers.
I then made the mistake, in hindsight, of putting in 2 hours and 15 minutes before bed at Bill’s playing like an idiot in their $0.50/$1, $200 max buy-in game. I won several small pots and managed to lose the two biggest pots of the session by getting married to top pair, top kicker. Down -$141 for the session (up +$17 for the trip).
Random thought/question: If the cigar, cigarette, tiparillo girl was standing nearby and her extreme push up top was pushing up so much that she was unknowingly revealing a portion of her areola, would you tell her? I didn’t think so. 3:30 a.m. and time for bed.
Day 4 (8/30/09)
I slept in and then ate the Gambler’s Special at the Tropical Breeze followed by a shower. I started reading through the quizzes in the “Mastering No-Limit Hold ‘Em” book by Russell Fox & Scott T. Harker. After my shower, I read through the 8 hour NL session they include in the appendix. It made me think about the hands I’ve played that the author routinely folded depending on his position. I had a major limping leak in hindsight. I hadn’t played much lately and I was kicking myself for not reading this book and Angel Largay’s book cover-to-cover (again) before I came. I decided to go play for a bit and if it didn’t go well, I planned to read the quizzes in Angel’s book before heading back out. Oh, I also decided I’m going to put a TV in my bathroom mirror at home. I kind of like it.
Random thought/question: The channel guide on the TV didn’t come up when you pushed the button for it on the remote or menu. It did pop up briefly sometimes when I was changing channels but I didn’t know why. Why didn’t this room have a paper channel guide to refer to? I’m sure it was with the do not disturb sign, pen and stationary. I stumbled onto music stations and HD TV stations randomly.
Another random thought/question: What is up with hotel alarm clocks that are not extraordinarily simple to set? The room had one that apparently was a radio, alarm, and MP3 player. It also played nature sounds I think. But I couldn’t get a peep out of it nor could I figure out how to set the alarm. Once again, the instructions must have been with the do not disturb sign, channel guide, pen, and stationary. Of course, I could just be an idiot. Some of my poker plays would seem to indicate that.
I decided I needed to play somewhere new so I headed to Planet Hollywood. They had three 1/2 NL tables going. One only had 6 people and one guy had a stack of about $1,700. He was an older guy wearing a cowboy hat, handkerchief around his neck, cowboy boots, jeans, big belt buckle, and giant fancy glasses. I asked if I had to sit at that table or could get in one of the other two where I wouldn’t have been short stacked with a max buy-in. The attractive and charming floor manager said I’d have to be at the short-handed table. I said I’d wait. Another player was put at the table and I asked if I could sit there but get the first table change. She said sure. I had to wait a couple hands for the button to pass and before I even played a hand the floor manager asked if I wanted to move. I said, no, I’d move in a bit. For whatever reason I didn’t feel right moving before even playing a hand.
First hand, I’m in the cut off and dealt AJo. 3 limpers to me. I raise to $15 (maybe a little light?). Button calls, SB (the Cowboy) calls, BB calls, 3 limpers call. Seven players and $105 in the pot. Flop is J, 4, 2(?). Two diamonds if I remember correctly. BB bets $50. Folds to me. I bet $150. Button thinks for a while and goes all in (I had bought in for the $300 max and he had a similar stack to mine…a little more). SB folds. BB folds. I pause to think for a minute. I have TPTK. I hate losing all my money with TPTK. Flush isn’t possible yet although a draw to a flush is. Straight isn’t possible yet although a draw to a straight is but the cards the button needed for that didn’t make sense to call my initial raise. Possible set? I decided what the heck and called all in. Turn was a 6 of clubs. I believe the river was an 8 of spades? The button didn’t want to show his cards but eventually turned over KQ of diamonds. My $300 buy-in had turned into $719 on my last afternoon/evening in Vegas (again, I may have the betting/math wrong but I had turned $300 into $719).
At that point I primarily sat back, started ordering Coronas with a lime, and played as tight as Mr. Fox and Mr. Russell recommended. There was a TV right above our table, the atmosphere at PH was nice but mellow (the Heart Bar hadn’t started cranking yet), people at the table were very friendly, dealers were excellent, and I had reached a good place. I decided that once I had turned the $719 into $837 and received my 4th Corona, I was beyond my capacity to play poker (I can count the times I’ve played poker and had alcoholic beverages on one hand….probably never while playing NL). I cashed out up +$537 (up +554 for the trip). The floor manager, who remembered I’d asked for the table change originally, gave me a smile and a fist bump. She had a great personality and made it seem like she enjoyed what she was doing.
A note on Cowboy. I avoided him and his stack which was up to about $2,000 when I left. He had supposedly bought in originally for $100 but who knows. He was a character, entertaining, and a nice guy. He did bully the table a lot. Whenever he went all-in, he’d say, “Cowboy Up!” He gave me (and Mike…whom he felted 3 times) his business card. I won’t include his name but his card has a cowboy hat, lasso, his name, and said, “Sports Handicapper” for football, basketball, and baseball. Mike said, “So you’re a bookie.” Cowboy says, “No, I’m a sports handicapper. You give me $10,000 and I’ll turn it into $300,000 for you and only keep $30,000 for myself.” On two occasions he stood up to show us his giant belt buckle (like a rodeo champion might have). It said, “World Champion.” He said it was because he had twice won the world championship of sports handicappers. “I’m the only one to win it twice!” I asked him why he plays poker at PH and he said because they will put up the TV screen that has as many as 8 baseball games going at once. All the PH staff just called him, Cowboy, as did those of us that spent any time with him at the table. As I was leaving, he walked over to me and said, “If you know anyone that wants to borrow $25 or $30 million to build condos, I can make you $200,000 - $300,000 if they get their financing through us.” I, of course, said, “Cowboy, you’ll be the first person I call and I have your card.” You know, that table, that hand, and Cowboy, are why we non-locals go to Vegas. It is for that experience. Anyway, I can’t say enough good things about PH on this trip, though I’m probably not objective after 4 coronas and my biggest winning session ever. I know it doesn’t have the bravo genesis system, or an electronic waiting list, or walls. I have no idea what the comps were, if any. But the floor manager and dealers were excellent. The vibe of the casino at that time of a day on Sunday was excellent. The players were friendly and entertaining. And, for me, I won big. I would highly recommend that you give PH a shot. It reminded me of when Paris had the room that was on the casino floor with ropes around it. Except with a better, younger (at 50, am I saying that?), and more hip vibe. Note: I played for about 2 hours at PH.
After PH, I went to Paris and the raised sidewalk bistro Mon Ami Gabi. I did not have a reservation on that Sunday night. I got an outside table right on the railing, directly across the street from the Bellagio fountains. Perfect. Mac & cheese appetizer, crab cake appetizer, bananas foster desert, 2 pinot noirs, and coffee for $56.44 with tip. I watched probably 5 Bellagio fountain shows and countless people walking by. Priceless, just needed my wife with me. If you and a significant other and/or friends haven’t eaten outside at this restaurant while the fountains are going after dark, I highly recommend it. I’d suggest you don’t get a $2 Bill’s hot dog on your way back from PH if you are going to Mon Ami Gabi soon thereafter, however!
After dinner, I went and rested in the room for a bit. I then decided to walk around and maybe play poker but I wasn’t committed to the poker part of the plan. I stopped by IP and checked out the poker room. There were 6 people playing the Sunday night mixed game (Omaha 8, Razz, Stud 8, Badugi, 2-7 Triple Draw, Baduci, 3-2-1 Omaha, 4 Card Ocean Crazy Pineapple, and A-5 High Low). Several peope didn’t really know how to play most of the games but they were having a great time. If I hadn’t needed to call it an early night due to my 7:30 a.m. Monday flight I would have joined in (I’m past being into staying up all night before an early flight, particularly when I had to work Tuesday). I strolled over and watched the dealertainers. Billy Idol had the crowd rocking. After that I walked over to Harrah’s and checked out the poker room and then stopped at the dueling piano bar. A couple of guys were playing and really had the crowd into it. About 5-6 ladies (cougars?) were seated at the railing having a good time. Apparently they were all good friends there on a ladies-only trip celebrating one of their 25th wedding anniversaries. The crowd got a big kick out her celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary with a girls-only trip to Vegas. She said that was how they had stayed married so long. After that I decided it was time to head back to the room, pack, and get a little shut eye before getting up to catch my flight. And dream of my next trip to Vegas………