My trip to Vegas, from 1/14 to 1/17 really starts with a high-hand jackpot win at the Ameristar casino in St. Louis over Thanksgiving weekend . I FLOP a royal, win a $30 pot, but a $2200 high hand jackpot. Tip the dealer, (thanks Jason!) $200 and start planning my trip to Vegas with the remaining $2000.
I fly on Southwest direct from Kansas City, and arrive in Vegas a little early (thanks Southwest!), and go check in at the MGM Grand. Checking on-line, I found that their rates were lower than many of the top hotels (e.g., Caesars, Venetian, Wynn, etc.) and they also had a poker room that people on this site seemed to like. At check-in they upgraded me to a suite, which i was hoping they'd do since I knew it was slow, and I wasn't disappointed. I liked the MGM as a place to stay and would recommend it to people who want to stay on the strip in a big hotel that costs a little less that still has a poker room. I might try something different next time, though, just for a change of scenery.
Anyway, on to poker.....
After checking in with the wife and kids (thanks for understanding daddy's poker needs!) i thought i'd go down and play a couple hours at the MGM. I get there just in time for them to open a new table. Some nice folks, but OMG! was there some bad play on that table by people who were clearly inexperienced. I catch a few nice hands, get called down by folks who don't know enough to fold, and log a nice $300 profit. As an example, I raise pre-flop to $12 with AKoff.... victim in middle position calls me. Flop comes A, K, blank rainbow. V had proven himself to be a calling station, so I bet out $30. V calls. Turn is a blank, I bet $50, V calls. River pairs the board with a 2 or something.... little scary, but I bet $50 again, V calls. I turn over top 2, V turns over pocket 9s (thanks V!). little did I know this was the softest table I'd play at in Vegas. It was nice to start on a winning note, though.
I decide to walk up the strip toward Bally's. I have a burger some wings and a couple beers at a sports bar located between Paris and Bally's and have a nice time chatting with two other single guys and the bartender who's a poker player. Sit down at a new table at Ballys. Kind of a dumpy room, but seems to be good action and everybody is professional. After about 1 hour, i wake up with AA UTG + 1, UTG limps and make it 12 to go. FIVE people call (not good). Fortunately, UTG seems to have been slowplaying something, b/c he raises $35 more (thanks UTG!), I shove my $170, he goes into the tank, calls, and I take down a nice pot. I leave Bally's +$70, head back to MGM to bed.
Get up on Thursday, take the Monorail up a couple stops to the Venetian. Terrific poker room and awesome staff. Cocktail waitresses are both efficient and beautiful. I buy-in to the $150 noon tourney, and have a seat at a 1-2NL table while I wait. Generally very good play at the table. I win a nice pot when I call a raise from the button with 33 and the flop comes 553. Original raiser goes all-in for $120 or so, and I take down a nice pot. End up +175 before the tourney starts. The tourney has about 130 people, and I last to 42 despite horrifically bad cards. Hardly involved in any pots when I have to push with 55, get called by JJ and I'm out. Although i didn't have a very good tourney because of the cards, I recognize that its a really good tourney and would highly recommend it to someone who wants to play a relatively deep-stack regular tournament, and who is willing to spend about 8 hours to get to the end.
I stay at the Venetian to play 1-2 for a little while. I play at a table with a group of guys from Austin, TX.... nice guys, good players. I manage to slowly lose about $450 over the next 4 1/2 hours before making a comeback and leaving the Venetian +$25 for 12 1/2 hours of play (including tourney). I wouldn't take a job for $2/hr, but for entertainment, that's pretty good! I walk back to the MGM (nice to get a little exercise and see the sights-- although I gotta say I hate those sleazy little guys snapping their coupon books for strip joints-- an ordinance against that would significantly class up the strip, but it might be unconstitutional). I play a little 1-2NL and bank another +$125.
On Friday I head up to the Venetian again for the noon tournament, hoping to make it a little further and to get better cards. Alas, it was not to be. With my moderate stack I call two short stack all-ins with my QQ. One guy has AK and the flop comes AAx and I miss my Q on the turn or river. I make a move on a pot after misreading a player, quite badly as it turns out, and I'm gone pretty early. Between cash games before the tourney and the tourney, i'm -$350 at the Venetian this day. I decide to cab it up to Fremont street to play a little at Binions-- nice Ethiopian guy is the cabby and we have a nice chat. I think Binion's room is a little dumpy at first, but it grows on me. Table has a bunch of really nice guys and pretty good players (with a couple exceptions)-- I really enjoy chatting with Jerry, the dealer. There's also an older small, wiry black gentleman who's a hoot. I play only 1 1/2 hours or so, bank +$100 and then check out the rest of "Fremont Street." To me, the downtown area is not as interesting as the strip, although I admit I didn't stay very long. Anywhere else in America, downtown Vegas would be very cool, but with the strip just down the road, I wasn't so interested.
I cab it back to the MGM to play a little more and to get a nice dinner. I play a couple hours at a table with good-loose players, and end up down 50 or so before I head over to Craftsteak to eat dinner at the bar. I sat next to a really nice lady from North Dakota who was there to play slots, primarily, but we had a really nice chat while we both ate (thanks Rita!). I had a really nice spinach salad, some great fries and bread, but I gotta say, the ribeye was kind of disappointing, especially for the price. Back to the poker room for a little more 1-2 NL. I catch KK on one hand, raise, and subsequently get called down by a guy with 5-2o who catches his second pair on the river-- it kind of pisses me off. I'm feeling a little tilty, and a little impatient after that, and decide I've probably had enough poker for my first poker trip to vegas.
All-in-all a great trip. LOVED the Venetian and the poker room in particular, and next time I intend on checking out some of the other rooms (on the West side of the strip-- e.g., Bellagio, Caesars, Luxor, Mandalay Bay). As it was, I never crossed the strip on foot.