This trip was my 15th for 8 days from 12/01 to 12/08. Stayed at Bally’s and played only tournaments. So just a run down on my success or the lack of and a few of my Vegas observations.

Landed at about 7pm following an easy but long (10 hr) flight from London. The new terminal at LAS was a breeze with no horrific immigration queue as used to be the case in the old terminal. Collected my bag and was in a cab by 7.30.

The driver was an old lady; so old she reminded me of Driving Miss Daisy but I knew being a Vegas cabbie there was no way she was going to be as sweet.
‘Freeway would be best at this time’ she said catching my eye in the rear view mirror.
‘No thanks surface streets will be fine’ I politely replied.
I am sure she then stung me by purposely driving past the exit for Swenson and then back again and driving so slowly that I almost found myself apologising to other drivers for the obstruction we were causing to the free movement of traffic.
After getting my bag out of the trunk myself – she was so old I’d have been embarrassed to let her do it - I paid the fare, positive that she’d got back at me for refusing the freeway.

I checked into Bally’s and a $20 trick got me a good room in the north tower with a fountain view.

After getting showered, changed and unpacked it was about 8.30pm and I had all the good intentions of going down to the casino and chugging a few beers before retiring for the night at maybe 11pm. I settled in to play some VP at the bar for a couple of hours.

Sure, good intentions on your first night in Vegas?? I should’ve known better.
I recall looking at my phone before bed through a squinted eye to stop the double vision – 0530...... c’mon we’ve all done it and worse!!

I wake at 1130ish and decide to get some food and play the 1pm over at Aria.
It’s not long before I realise I’m still drunk. I check my cash and the damage is nowhere near as bad as it could’ve been. Quite a relief as I head of for Earl of Sandwich to get something to soak up the alcohol still flowing around me.

I enter the $125 and settle in for a sobering afternoon of coffees and yawn stifling. Self-conscious that I look how I feel and that my eyes are like a pair of stop lights I’m lucky enough rather than skilful enough to make it to 11th place just before the cash.

I exit Aria through Crystals which always seems to be mocking me with a sneer of ‘Take a look at what you can’t afford’. I guess if your business model depends upon low volume, high profit margins then you don’t actually need many people through your shop as I never see people in them, but they’re still going.

As I walk out into the early evening air on the strip I’m hit by a nipple hardening breeze that cuts through my light shirt and forces me into a light jog past the panhandlers and card slappers.

I won’t give a day by day account as with my writing style that’ll just take too long and probably bore everyone so I’ll just highlight some of the things I noticed in other posts.

Planet Hollywood.
I played in one of their $70 crapshoots with the $1K guarantee.

In true Dragnet style the real first names have been changed to protect the innocent in the following;
As the first dealer sat down I noticed that her name badge gave her first name and surname. This seemed strange to me as I’ve never seen that before.
Even stranger to me was that this was an Asian lady but her name was Mary Goldfinger.
Nothing else on the badge except the PH logo and ‘Mary Goldfinger’.
As I folded the usual run of 8,3 and J,2 cards I wondered whether she had married a Jewish guy or if indeed there were Jewish communities in China, Korea or other parts of Asia. When the next dealer came over my eyes almost popped out of my head as I caught sight of his badge showing the PH logo and the name ‘Mike Caddyshack’.
This was too much; surely no one could possibly have that surname. Mike is clearly abusing the PH staff name badge policy!
I turned around to see what the badge on the dealer at the table behind had on it. His one said Paul and then clearly underneath was the phrase, ‘my favorite movie is...’ In a sudden moment of enlightenment it all fell into place as I felt slightly daft and happy that I didn’t ask Mary in alcohol induced confidence whether she had adopted her husband’s Jewish faith.

The tournament was a four way chop netting a small but always helpful $180 profit.

This is taking way longer than I thought to write so I'll continue in a reply to this post. Hope you've enjoyed it so far and thanks for reading.

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  1. Still writing? :wink: Still waiting for the rest. I love long and overly detailed trip reports. Especially when they're as entertaining as this.

  2. This looks like the start of a good one ... looking forward to more. Thanks!

  3. Enjoyed report, looking for more. Thanks for taking time to write.

  4. Thanks for the replies.
    Popped in here to take a look at Buddy Valastro’s new restaurant which is imaginatively called ‘Buddy’s’. I have family addicted to his Cake Boss show and so had to report back. I like the guy on TV and like any Italian family baker he has charisma. Though I hate to say it, I think his restaurant may suffer. In a city with more quality eating options than anywhere else in the world I just don’t think his place will hit it. The location doesn’t help as it is kind of awkwardly tucked into a space that isn’t that easy to find and you don’t find yourself walking past by chance. I think he’d have had more success opening a place based upon his baking and cakes as opposed to full dining.

    I did look to play a tournament here but on the day I turned up they were running a $200 survivor tournament where the last 10% get a level payout.
    Hmmm?? Not sure about that and didn’t fancy it, so back to the Aria.

    I’ve always had a soft spot for this casino and poker room. The staff are always great and some of the tournaments have a bit of play in them and you know they’ll be over in 3-4 hours as opposed to the crapshoots or marathon games elsewhere.
    First thing I had to do was leave a tip for the dealers.
    Yes, that’s right I left a tip for the tournament dealers before I even knew whether I’d cashed.
    Reason was that last year I got down to heads up and got so badly sucked out on that I was in such a rage with the cards. It was my last day and I’d had such a run of bad luck it just infuriated me and all got too much. I’m ashamed to say I stormed off in a huff and didn’t tip the dealers an appropriate amount. This was covered in last year’s TR on here so please don’t flame me for it now.
    I hope the tip I gave this day made up for this and ridded me of the bad karma last year’s hissy fit caused.
    The bad thing about the Mirage is their VP. Some of the machines say 25c games but when you settle in you see the max bet is actually $2.50 and the bar tenders could do with some of Buddy’s charisma.

    I only played one tournament here and went to register 5 minutes after the start. They only had one 10 handed table going and I was already number 4 alternate. Surely starting off with two tables would encourage more players?
    By the time I got in it was a real crapshoot with only 5k chips and fast blinds but it was my last game and I wanted to play a game before leaving.
    The rest of the casino is starting to show its age but I have lots of happy memories at this place and feel comfortable here. I spent a good few evenings grinding out a few bucks on VP and getting slightly drunk. Hitting AAAA4 and a few other 4OAKs helped save the bankroll. The staff are all friendly and willing to spend a few moments of idle chit-chat with you which is important to me as it makes you feel wanted.
    The front area of Bally’s is looking dreadful with the water gardens area decaying and dirty. It always reminded me of what a 1970’s architect predicted 2013 would look like. However in 2013 it just looks so, well, 1970’s and like the film set for Buck Rogers. I saw signs of the upcoming construction here where they will construct a large retail area (please god, no more Louis Vuitton). This probably explains why they are letting it run down.

    Now if only this place had a card room Vegas would be perfect for me. I really take to the style and mood of this casino. The Bond bar has to be the best place in Vegas to play 25c VP and get comped drinks. Encore would have won this but of course Mr Wynn won’t comp for playing VP at the bars.
    I witnesses the culinary workers picket on Saturday and this has certainly grown in size and volume since last year. Clearly I don’t know the full story behind this picket but having seen the personal abuse given to the public entering the casino any sympathy I may have had to their cause has gone.
    One of these days they are going to abuse the wrong person and I can see why Metro has a permanent presence there.

    So the old IP has gone! That dirty, dingy hole of escalators that took you nowhere, home of the worst buffet in Vegas, where I played BJ once and had to wipe away the dust that fell from the light fittings onto my cards, where your shoes got stuck in the black gunk on the carpets, elevators that must have been female given their mood swings, where they would give you a room that was 20ft from a live band that plays until 3am, corridors that stunk of weed and a casino area that stunk of.....well as the Venetian has its own unique smell so did the IP except they didn’t pipe it in, it just bred itself into the air.
    Replaced by the Quad! (Exclamation mark is my own though I think Caesars should adopt it.) You are kind of forced to walk through the Quad now if going north to south on the strip and to me it just looks like a random collection of building blocks from the outside. As I walked in the first thing I noticed was the smell. You could have kidnapped me back home, blindfolded me and dumped me here and I would have immediately known where I was. The IP. No, sorry The Quad! How can you spend millions totally changing the place including the infamous carpet and still keep the smell?
    Anyway, I don’t like it. Sure, it’s better but it just has no atmosphere or character to me. Pass.

    More to follow...

  5. Caesars Palace
    Another one of my favorite card rooms for tournaments with a good selection of games available. I like that this card room is separated from the rest of casino and has a different vibe about it as opposed to the Aria or a smaller one like Harrah’s. I played the 7pm $100 (??) game here and you do get 20k chips but it is advertised as a turbo with fast 12 minute levels so you have to loosen up or get lucky to survive.

    I did both by raising in MP with J8 to see a dream flop of J88. Even better was that all the action was done for me by two other players holding 8x and a dead straight draw. Super treble up. I made it to the final table where I had aces hold up twice on an AI. We did a three way chop at 11pm for $700 each which was a nice touch. One of the other two was a pleasant guy I was speaking to that had just won a WSOP ring at an event in Lake Tahoe – he was wearing the ring! Really nice guy. This tournament is fast but is perfect if you want to play whilst family or buddies want to take in a show or dinner and you will finish in perfect time to meet up with them for continuing late night adventures.

    Aria is definitely my home of tournament poker. The $125 games are just so well structured with a lot of play in them that it is hard to play anywhere else. The only reason to play elsewhere is if you cannot dedicate 8 hours to a game or have been knocked out and don’t want to re-enter. At least 80 players in every game I played and take my advice to buy in early to avoid being an alternate especially at the weekends.
    I did not cash here this time but I was still happy with my game. The best I came was 11th, then 17th and I generally survived through the first 50% of the field in other games.
    This game attracts a mix of players from the very good to the bad. I saw players fold QQ pre-flop and others correctly call with K high on the river. You have to know your game here and be able to concentrate for long periods. That said with the cards falling in your favor and some luck you should be able to cash regularly and with around $2500-4500 up top a good pay day is achievable.
    The staff are professional and pleasant and the game is well run. It is obvious that they are experienced at running the biggest tournaments in town on a daily basis. If I lived in LV this would be where you’d find me every day.

    I can’t really remember hands of note but what I do recall are certain hands.
    I raised UTG to 3x with 10,10. The BB calls. By the turn of Kx10x we are all in and my heart slumps as he shows KK. That crucified me in one game and I bust out a few hands later. Out!
    Then I had JJ and on a 8 high turn it’s AI vs KK. Out!
    Late on in a game I had Ax in the BB and it’s folded to the button who raises. I believe it’s a steal and shove. He calls with AK. Out!
    My last game at Aria it’s folded to me in the SB and I look J8. With about 8BB left I shove only to be called by Ax which holds. Out!
    You get the idea...

    In one of the games though I did manage to knock out the table chip leader by beating him on three consecutive all in hands. On the final hand I was BB and he was SB. He had about 3 BB left and it got folded to him. Obviously he shoved and I called without looking. I turned over AQ and he had rags which I managed to beat. I didn’t feel sorry for him as that’s just the game but I did see how bad it was for him to bust out in three consecutive AI hands against me. He was cursing under his breath so I didn’t want to turn around and say false condolences to him.

    Another of my favorite rooms purely for the comfort and opulence of the whole W/E resort. Also the fact the card room is placed where a lot of foot traffic passes which attracts plenty of spectators especially late on. Well it did when the tournament final table used to be positioned by the rail.
    I played the $10k guaranteed Friday $200 game here. It’s a good game but not as good as the Aria. There are 500 bonus chips for registering before 11am and 500 for being at your seat at the start which I don’t like. Also there is a $100 add on at the break so it is really a $300 game. That’s quite chunky though the guarantee helps. It starts at 50/100 so is over faster than you’d think. I came 9th which was out of the money. I’d recommend this tournament if you want a game that’s over quickly enough to meet your friends for dinner or a show as it isn’t going to be a long haul like Aria.

    Final section to follow where I'll get on to hookers and blow, or as it turned out on this trip, a taste of Aloha and an offer of comedy....

  6. Your room summaries are great. Looking for ward to the finale. :sunglasses:

  7. @billycanuck

    Thanks, just struggling at the moment with time to complete it. Hopefully will get it done soon.

  8. Wonderful trip report so far! Thanks, and keep it coming!

  9. as of Christmas Day 2013 construction has started on Ballys front.

  10. I never thought finding time to finish this off would be so tricky. Christmas has been a mad time at work.
    Anyway, here's probably the last segment.

    Unlike previous trips I only got offered drugs once this trip. I was walking between Bellagio and the Cosmo when a young guy sidles up to me and in a hushed voice offers, “want some weed?”
    I gave my standard look of blank rejection that I reserve for such offers and porn slappers, only for this to turn to a confused frown when he then said, “want some comedy?”
    Comedy? I like to think that for a guy in his mid 40’s I’m reasonably street sharp and worldly wise but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a drug referred to as comedy? I’ve heard many slang terms for cocaine but not that one.
    I can just see a naive visitor taking the dealer at his word,
    “Why yes, I am looking for comedy. Tell me, can you do any Spade, David Spade? I’ll pay you well for some Carrot Top. Can you beat Tix4Tonite?”

    And that was it for my encounters with Vegas’ finest street drug dealers – or for all I know, undercover Metro. I must be looking older and that just gets compounded with only one hooker approach. I don’t count those ladies who catch your eye as they sashay along the strip; more the bar approaches.

    So I’m passing some time at Sully’s bar at Bally’s playing VP and chatting to the friendly bartenders as I contemplate holding for the flush or gambling for the 4OAK, when I notice from the corner of my eye a single lady who has sat two machines down from me.
    My hooker radar immediately pings into life.
    I smoke small cigarillo cigars and as I light one up I hear a voice to my right say,
    “Excuse me could I get a cigarette from you?”
    Ok, now the hooker radar has blipped into life as the sweeping light on the screen detects a presence about 18” to my right.
    I turn to look at her and immediately the radar goes blank.
    There’s no way this woman’s a hooker. She’s wearing a sober trouser suit that wouldn’t look out of a place on a 1970’s Sunday School teacher and heels as flat as my call bet when holding the nuts. My guard goes down.
    I explain that I’m actually smoking cigars, but she still wants to try one. As she leans her head in towards me to catch the flame of my lighter she pulls her hair away from her face and balances herself by placing her hand on my leg.
    The hooker radar goes into a state of confusion; the eyes are saying no, the actions are saying yes.
    I’m about to warn her not to inhale too much as these aren’t cigarettes when she takes a deep long draw on the cigarillo, her eyes looking at mine as she purses her lips around it.
    As she exhales, her eyes move straight ahead with a concerned look and then it begins.
    Like a teenager craftily taking their first drag from the smoke they stole of their father, she starts coughing, choking and retching. I thought she was going to be sick and as people start to look over I kinda want to put my hands up and say
    “She’s not with me.” I feel I should make attempts to comfort her but that would involve physical contact and I still think something’s up with this lady.

    The barman offers her water, but with a now croaky voice she asks for a Grey Goose. I tell her that I did warn her they’re cigars and you’re not really meant to inhale them that much but she continues to smoke although easing back on the inhalation. She tells me that she’s from Hawaii and what a lovely place it is. The conversation moves on through small talk about the price of gas in our respective homes and I ask what she does for a living in Vegas.
    “Oh, I’m looked after,” is the reply.
    Hooker radar now comes back into life with a healthy glow of detection.
    I tell her that I’m not interested (thank you very much, I’m always polite) and she shouldn’t waste her time with me. I avoid my dated cheesy line of ‘after an hour with me, you’ll be paying me $200’.
    She smiles and with the half smoked cigarillo hanging from her bottom lip says to me as she walks away says, “We could have had such a great time.”

  11. (when she takes a deep long draw on the cigarillo, her eyes looking at mine as she purses her lips around it. As she exhales, her eyes move straight ahead with a concerned look and then it begins. Like a teenager craftily taking their first drag from the smoke they stole of their father)

    ok, now it sounds like your writing to get published in playboy magazine?....
    sounds like your making it more dramatic than it is to make it interesting and forgot the cardinal f**cking rule... always leave yourself and out" meaning don't tell fish stories about your poker trips!... it was ok till the part where the aka hooker appeared.

    im out..