Today I went outside.
OK, so technically I went outside yesterday when getting into a taxi at the airport, but it is so easy to lose track of time, season and reality in Vegas.
Before I ventured out, I played the 9am $25 “tournament” at the Excalibur, ordering a hot chocolate to warm myself up. I knew what I was getting myself into, but the reality of a 2000 chip tournament with starting blinds of 100/200 doubling every 15 minute levels didn't quite hit home until one orbit into the competition, having already won a hand, I found myself with 6 big blinds to play with. Before that became 3, I shoved with JJ and got beaten by QQ. Would I like to re-buy? Hmmmm … now let me think about that for a few moments ...
What exactly is the point of this tournament? There were around 25 starting players, and by the time of the break at 1 hour this was down to I think 8 on the final table. It didn't seem to get any cash games started and there didn't seem to be anyone hanging around waiting either. Yet they needed 3 dealers to start the tournament (plus at least one more on stand-by “in case”), reducing to 2 after around 10 minutes. Who knows what those spare dealers did for the next hour or two – who actually would have been harmed if they started the tournament on 25/50 and gave everyone another orbit or so of play?
So, in the early afternoon I ventured out onto the strip. Man, that's hot. Even the card guys couldn't muster the energy. Stopped for a bite to eat in the showcase food court (opposite NYNY). I love the place for a quick eat as you can sit at the window watching the strip go by.
Made my way to Planet Hollywood (or “Mrs Fox's secret casino”, as I now like to think of it). There were I think 4 cash tables playing (3 x 1/2NL and 1 x 2/4 limit), plus the 2pm tournament in full swing. I got immediate seating at the 2-4 table, thus fulfilling my low-rolling mission.
Though I have not played there for a few years, I have a soft spot for the room is it is the location for my first ever live play (albeit at the Aladdin, and in a different place within the casino). The “room” is currently just a designated area of the casino without even the distinction of being roped off. I asked a couple of dealers if there was any truth to story that the room was going to move again – both said that as far as they knew it wasn't true. Though the room is on the main casino floor and by a busy bar I didn't actually find the location too bad – it certainly didn't seem as noisy as, say, the MGM. And I could do far more people-watching than in most other places.
I was impressed by the management of the room – I even saw the brush at one point literally sprint across the room to help someone out. And the dealers were a lot of fun too - when one guy was asking what the high hand jackpot would have paid for four-of-a-kind eights, the dealer joked 6 million dollars. We all agreed that as that was probably legally binding the casino would have to pay up and the dealer would be fired but would be more than happy to live off a 10% tip.
Chair comfort I was not so impressed with – not sure why as they were plenty padded. And I found the bar running under the table that I think was meant to act as a foot rest just got in the way for me.
Cocktail service was very fast and efficient – I had to turn down a drink on quite a few occasions (I have learnt my lesson trying to keep up with the service at the MGM on a previous trip). I'm not 100% sure if one of the cocktail waitresses may have used to be a cocktail waiter.
The guys at the table were a fun bunch and almost exclusively tourists. At one point a dealer hinted that the room management had done something to upset locals and they had mostly moved elsewhere – no idea what they did or even if this is true. I typically play 6 – 7 hours for a session, and this usually means the players at the table turn over a couple of times. This time, however, I had the rare experience of 3 of the players there when I started still playing when I left, all of which were a lot of fun. One of the guys, a Scotsman, was already a little “tired and emotional” when I first got there, and continued to drink throughout. Yet by the end he didn't seem so drunk. No wait, maybe that was just me catching up. He would sometimes think long and hard, like a minute or more, before making a call of $4 on the river into a $60 pot.
Not much to report about the play. For most of the time I was there, there were enough players calling with trash to build the pots and make it a beatable game. I was still up after 5 hours despite taking a massive beat when my ace flush was beaten by a full house (the guy had stayed with so much trash in the past I didn't think he had it, even when the board paired on the turn). However things started to go downhill as the table started to thin and we were down to 5 players. Now I always have a lot of trouble playing 2-4 limit short-handed – in fact I am sure the game is unbeatable in such circumstances – you end up playing a lot more hands which is shooting up the rake and increasing your variance. I dropped $50 in an hour, and though the number of players started to pick up I lost a couple more hands and decided to rack up $71 down on the session.
On the way back around 11.30pm I was approached by a lady of the night on the bridge between NYNY and the Excalibur: “What are you doing tonight, honey?”, she asked. An unkind person would have replied something like “Why, murdering prostitutes of course, how bout you?”, but I had no such ripost and just walked on.
So, two days into the trip things are looking excellent on the fun front, but not quite so good on the cash front. I am exactly $100 down on cash games (though of course most of this is waitress and dealer tips). I have been at two great tables where all the players were there for a good time – and I guess I've only been paying $5 a drink for all my entertainment ...
Sunday 30th August
Excalibur, $25 9am tournament
Time to drinking first drink: 10 minutes
Total drinks consumed: 1 x Hot Chocolate (Hot chocolate rating 8/10)
Tournament structure: 1/10
Ease of competition: ???
Fun-ness of dealers: 3/10
Fun-ness of table: 3/10
OVERALL RATING: 2/10
Planet Hollywood, 2-4 limit, 4.00pm – 10.15pm (6.25hrs)
Time to be seated: immediate
Time to drinking first beer: 20 minutes
Total drinks consumed: 4 x Corona, 1 x Sam Adams, 2 x Bloody Mary, 1 x Margarita, 2 x Jack Daniels (Bloody Mary rating 7/10, Margarita Rating 7/10)
Cocktail service: 8/10
Room management: 9/10
Ease of competition: 7/10
Fun-ness of dealers: 8/10
Fun-ness of table: 8/10
OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10