Brief background on me: 38 yr. old professional from Orange County, CA...Vegas junkie since I turned 21...spent the first 16 years as a legal gambler playing table games (90% blackjack), but caught the poker bug about a year ago and started playing in my first cash games over the last year (Flamingo, Nugget, and Binions). I hardly play any blackjack anymore once I recognized that I know all the decisions ahead of time so nothing really interesting ever happens in that game. Poker is different. I've read a few books, I watch it on TV and I love that there is so much to learn. Each time I play, I realize how much I don't know. I am very thankful to this website for helping a newbie like me. I used the information here to help me plan my poker itinerary on this trip. My plan for this weekend was to play in at least one tournament (low buy-in) and maybe some 2-4 limit.
So we checked into the Palazzo about 3:30 saturday afternoon for a two night stay (Originally booked a room at Caesars (one of my favorites), but saw a nice offer for the Palazzo online so I switched at the last minute). When I got to LV with the boys, it's Flamingo, IP or someplace like that, but for my wife the quality of our room is more important than any aspect of Las Vegas. $240 per night was our rate and it was worth it in my opinion. Very impressed with the lobby and personal attention from staff, but the room was even better: 770 sq feet (i read it somewhere) nicely appointed (separate shower and tub, TV in the bathroom, fantastic bed, sunken living room, two LCD tv's, turndown service with chocolates, electric drapery...nice touches). Overall great room.
The basic plan was to have two nice dinners, catch a show and do some gambling together. She booked a spa day for herself for sunday freeing me up for the whole day--god bless her--and this is the time I used for poker.
On Saturday, we caught a small lunch at the new Grand Luxe Cafe inside the Palazzo. The Venetian has one as well so this place is the exact same. i actually think it's a bit weird to have the same restaurants within a five minute walk of each other, but then again no one asked me for my design ideas. After lunch, I checked out the sportsbook to plan out my bets for the conference championship games. I was looking to make a slew of silly prop bets (i'm a sucker for that stuff), but was surprised that the Venetian book offered none. Oh well, found what I was looking for at Harrah's. I also peeked in at the Venetian poker room. Looked very nice, but a bit intimidating to me.
After showering and some lounging, we dressed for our first night on the town. Walked over to check out the Wynn (found it a bit garish) and then made our way to Caesars' Mesa Grill. My wife has a thing for their white peach margaritas. They are pretty good (at $13 each they better be!). Also ate one of the appetizers (a really good shrimp tamale thing). On the way out i cashed an old football ticket that had been burning a hole in my pocket since October. the winning ticket paid for most of the bar bill so I'm already feeling like a winner and I hadn't even placed a bet yet. yahoo!
Caught a cab to Mandalay Bay for dinner and a show: Lisa Lampanelli. If you don't know her she is this really raunchy, really funny lady. She appears on those celebrity roasts on Comedy Central. She was performing at the House of Blues at a 10 pm show. She spends the whole show basically insulting everyone in the front rows (thankfully I was up in the loge level). Her jokes are racist, homophobic, cruel, and offensive--exactly as a Vegas comedian should be. The faint of heart need not attend. Before the laughs we ate at Shanghai Lilly. Overpriced like most places, but we did have the best fried rice I've ever had in my life (if that means anything). The show started late and we didn't get back to our hotel until after 1:30 so it was off to bed and a good night's sleep.
Woke up at 8:30 and bounced over to Harrah's to make my football bets, then returned to the room to shower, kiss the wife goodbye and head over to TI for the 11 am tournament.
This was my first time at the TI room. It was smaller than I expected, but I like the cozy feeling. The staff was very helpful and the dealers more than competent. I had been reading some of the criticism on this site in regards to the "favoritism" it shows in regards to the TI room, but I will have to agree with the positive remarks. I don't have a lot of experience, but they made me feel very comfortable, answered all questions and treated everyone respectfully.
the tournament started with 20 runners, but i think two ppl rebought after busting out. My goal for this trip was to play smarter poker than my past experiences. I was careful not to chase after straights and flushes, but be aggressive early in hands when position deemed it. My first chance to put my plan into action happened when my first trip to the button occurred. The blinds were 25/50 and there had been two callers to me. I looked at J5o and decided to see what this table was made of. I raised to $150 and after SB folded and two callers, it was three to the flop. Flop was K/ 10/x. It was checked to me and I made a continuation bet of $300 to take it down. I actually think this was one of the few bluffs i ever made in the tournament. I got some great cards (Aces twice, Kings once, trips a few times). I was patient and just put pressure when I felt it could work. By the way, in the seat next to me was a TI dealer named TJ. Very nice guy, I enjoyed playing with him and hearing about life as a dealer.
I'm not all that good at remembering a lot of hands, but there were a few that were especially important to my day.
Hand one: I picked up AA in the second orbit and made a pretty big raise. One caller. Flop comes Q/Q/x. She check called me, then when I made a big bet on the turn, she raised herself all in and I thought it was worth a call since I had her pretty well-covered and there was a fair amount of mney in the pot. I was pretty convinced she had a queen at this point but to my surprise, she only flipped over 10/10. The river card was a blank so my Aces win.
Hand two: just before the break I had a healthy stack and was not looking to mix it up with anyone when this happened: In position I have a small raise and one caller in front of me and I see 33. I make the call and the flop comes A/Q/3. The first bettor (a lady with a really small stack) goes all in, the other guy (he has about three times as much as she does, but probably half of mine,) also goes all in. Even if one of them has QQ or AA the call won't cripple me so it was pretty easy. When we showed down I was happy to see that they only had pairs. My set holds up, they get an early lunch, and I go to the break with a nice little boost.
When we combined tables, after the break, I was healthy (probably 3rd or 4th in chips). I had a few really good hands (especially trip 4s that won a big pot and knocked a guy out) so that by the time we were down to 6 players I was chip leader. Top four were being paid so it started to really tighten up which allowed me to push a bit. Again, I didn't make any crazy plays, I just waited for interesting hands that I thought a weird flop might either make my hand or give me a bluffing opportunity. It worked out and eventually were were down to three players. Eventually we chopped the pot and I, as chip leader took the biggest cut. The winner was set to pay $392, but I settled for $346. The other two split the remaining money ($258 each i think). Still not sure i made a good deal or not. I don't know the chopping etiquette and I may pose the exact question in the discussion forum and get some feedback. Overall, I felt good about how i played, but honestly, I had very few tough decisions. The cards were very good to me. I'm proud of my discipline, but it wasn't really tested all that much.
I decided to play in the 2pm tourney as well. I was feeling pretty good and it was a great way to watch the football games. the 2pm had 32 runners and I was knocked out in 11th place when my Q8 was outkicked by Q10. The big stack really stared me down before calling...apparently he thought I might have had two pair, but his stack was big enough to take the hit if I had had it.
After that I played some Pai Gow Poker and then went back to watch the end of the Packer game in my room.
Eventually the wife and I made it out to dinner at Tao (inside Venetian). What a great meal! i highly recommend the ShabuShabu filet mignon. It's very thinly sliced raw beef that you roll on a little fork and then cook at your table. Delicious. We ate that as an appetizer and I finished up with the Chilean sea Bass. Perfect. The meal (w/ two cocktails each) cost us $225. Pretty pricey, but worth the splurge for us. The rest of the night was more Pai Gow Poker and eventually bed.
Gambling:+$185 poker profit
+26 Pai Gow Poker
-25 video poker
-60 in sports bets
Poker room: Treasure Island earned my business and i will be back. thanks again to everyone working that day.
Food: highly recommend Tao
Hotel: Really liked the Palazzo
Thanks to all the contributors of this site; it is helpful to many of us. Sorry if this was long. but wanted to get it out while it was fresh in my head.
Next trip: My annual March Madness trip with the boys on 3/19-3/21.
Good luck everyone.