After getting very frustrated and angry with some of the latest goings on at my workplace, I was happy to have some vacation time this week. What better time to take care of some family matters and head to a few gambling establishments?
The trip started out on Tuesday in just about the worst way possible as I first had to have a meeting with some of my staff at work. However, 90 minutes later I was on the road (a very wet and windy one) to suburban Chicago to stop at my Mom's house to pick up my brother, the King of Komps.We went to the hospital to visit my mother, then had lunch at a Chicago area staple: Portillos, home of , in my opinion, the world's best Chicago-style hot dog.
Next stop: Hollywood Casino Joliet.
Going to Hollywood is almost like going back in time. Years ago it was one of the first dumpy Illinois river boat casinos called The Empress. That was back in the day when one actually had to pay to go on the cruise -- and the boat actually sailed! However, an extensive makeover resulted in turning the crappy old boat into a decent casino.
Hollywood has a rather small poker room. I played there once before, and the action seemed about the same. There was one table going and a waiting list of about seven people. I decided to stroll around the casino and mash a few buttons. I saw a bank of video poker machines and just randomly picked one out. A few minutes later ...
Seemed like a good sign to me! Unfortunately, I didn't have time to find out if the machine would produce again as I was called to the poker room while a new table was being seated.
General impressions: The poker room staff didn't impress me one way or another. They were a little friendly with the locals (probably most of the players there), which always make me wary. The tables were nice and the chairs were good. The players seemed mostly fishy. I didn't get many cards in the short time I was there, unfortunately. I was content to play for a bit and take away a reasonable profit. The KOK texted me that he was ready to go, so we headed out to the parking garage. The funniest thing about the visit was that I have never parked so close to a casino before, breaking the short distance record I had set at the Gold Strike in Jean, Nevada.
We drove across town to Harrah's Joliet, for the KOK had not only scored a free night, but also two free buffets and a little gambling cash. After checking into the hotel, we ate at Flavors buffet. Unfortunately, Harrah's Joliet got rid of the Paula Deen buffet and replaced it with something that would not even be found in some of the lesser casinos in Las Vegas. My grade: D+ -- certainly not worth spending money on. Very good Kung Pao Chicken, but aside from that ...
I went to the poker room, which is not one of my favorites due to their system of having a feeder table to the "main table" in the poker room. They did change the blinds in the regular games from $1-3 to $1-2, which certainly was appreciated because my table never filled up. Someone said that the main table always has to have at least eight players. Therefore, even though we were shorthanded, players kept getting snatched away. Most of the time in the two short sessions I played, the table had only four to six players. In fact, I left the first session because I was tired of playing with such a low numbers. Better to mash some buttons, right? Fortunately, my friend Willy Wonka ...
... was kind to me.I mashed some buttons before playing my second session. As with the earlier play at Hollywood, I was able to take modest profits from each session. Poker is much more fun when the results are positive!
On Wednesday morning, we checked out of the hotel and again visited my mother. Lunch afterwards produced a bowl of baked French Onion soup that was out of this world:
After a trip to the cemetery to visit my father's grave site and a sojourn to Walmarts
for the KOK to pick up some items, I decided to head south. I was thinking that I might head to Harrah's Horseshoe in Hammond if I didn't feel fatigued. A little sports radio chatter had me feeling good, and I decided to go to The Shoe, which has, arguably, the best poker room in the Midwest.
Before playing poker, however, I decided to look up my friend, Willy Wonka. He was not very friendly this time! However, I also mashed a few sweet, sweet video poker buttons and came up with this:
I went to the poker room and was seated immediately ... and hit a set of 9's in my first orbit. Was this an omen?
As things were, I was card dead for several hours. Few decent hole cards came, and nothing ever connected if I was in a hand. I decided to take a break and headed to the restroom. While taking a leak, I heard what appeared to be a woman's voice. Someone waiting just outside the bathroom for her man? Umm ... no. It appeared that a man was having sex with a woman in one of the restroom stalls! None of us could see what was going on, but we sure heard it! Before I walked out, I mustered up my deepest voice and yelled out "SECURITY!" I hope that caused their hearts to skip a beat!
I went back to the table and lost a little money when someone lucked out on a turn card. I was then in a pot with A-10 diamonds when the table jokester, who was going on tilt, pushed all in on a flop with two diamonds. He only had $75 behind, and I thought it was time to gambool since nothing else was working. Everyone else cleared out and I caught a diamond on the river. Thus started the rush.
I won several hands and then looked down to see J-J. I bet $10 and was raised to $30 by the player on my left, a decent guy and decent poker player. I was almost positive that he had Aces or Kings, but I knew the implied odds here were worth a few redbirds. Everyone else folded and I called. The flop: Jack high! I pushed out a bet to disguise the set and he raised. I reraised, he went all-in and I insta-called. He weakly asked "Do you have pocket Jacks?" I affirmed that I did and proceeded to crack his Aces and felt him. Shazam!
I had the biggest stack at the table but soon ran into problems with a young guy who, frankly, seemed to have my number. I won a few pots off him, but then was pummeled in a few more. I decided to leave the table just after midnight, knowing that I had a 2 1/2 hour drive home. I left with a nice profit.
But ... of course, there was no way I could leave without mashing a few more buttons, could I? My old friend Werewolf Live was waiting for me ...
... and he delivered! Even my nice ladies of Mermaid's Gold were nice to me this night. And my friend Willy Wonka, who took a few bucks off me earlier in the evening, gave them back.
The long drive home is never much fun in the wee hours of the night, but this trip was made with a big smile on my face. After not playing poker for so long, it was nice to get back on track with a great session and three good ones. Yowsa!