Sunday, March 06, 2011

Wasn't I Just in Las Vegas in December?

I guess I was. However, it was now the end of February and time for the first Las Vegas trip of 2011. It is hard to believe that it is already over one week since I checked into my hotel for the trip. Time flies, eh?

The trip actually began the night before. Since I was leaving on one of the early (6:50 am) flights out of Chicago, I chose to drive up to my mom’s house the evening before. Therefore, in the morning I would only need to drive 30 minutes to the airport instead of two hours.

My flight Sunday morning was only half full and got in 20 minutes early. As soon as I got to the baggage claim area – BOOM! – my suitcase was right in front of me. I took these to be good signs.

After checking into my room at the Imperial Palace, I made tracks to catch the 11:00 am bounty tournament at The Mirage. I had never played at The Mirage before, so I was looking forward to this. Unfortunately, things did not go well. The table lucksack was catching and hitting every card and flop. He started getting a huge stack and began pushing everyone around. I finally saw my chance when I was dealy Q-Q in middle position. The lucksack had already raised, and I re-raised. He called. The rainbow flop with middle cards made me think that I was way ahead. I was afraid that he would chase a straight, however. He checked, and I made a big bet. He went all in and I called. The mofo flopped a set! I would have certainly preferred a turn or river suck out, but it was not to come that day.

After a quick lunch, it was time for me to make my first appearance in my Las Vegas home, the Bally’s poker room. I texted The Neophyte and he soon met me there. It is always fun meeting bloggers in person for the first time. Neo sat down at $1/2 NL and it was off to the show!

The highlight of the long session came when I limped into a family pot in late position with Q-2 sooted. The flop: Q-2-2! I checked the flop and hoped that someone would hit something on the turn. A guy in early position raised, and I just smooth called. The river came and he checked. I started counting out a big raise, and the guy got all excited and pushed all his chips in! The dealer was trying to get control of things and I just said “It’s fine. I’m all in anyway.” I turned over my flopped boat and he mucked his cards in disgust. Big pot. He stepped away from the table for a minute and bought back in for only $100. I was dealt A-A and raised to $15. The other player pushed all in and of course, I called. He flipped over A-K sooted. He didn’t suck out, and I felted him for the second time in minutes. Man was he pissed. He stormed out and I never saw him the rest of my trip.

Neo headed out to eat dinner (I met his wife, the Poker Queen, at this time)but I was not hungry and stayed at the table. After several hours I took a dinner break and then went back to the poker room. In the meantime, I was setting up a meeting with two old friends from the Shark Poker Tour, HyppieChyck and JigDog. Jiggy worked until midnight, so we made plans to meet in Casino Royale ($1 Michelob bottles!) at about 1:00 am. Hyppie and Jiggy were pretty much just as they are at the virtual tables – lots of fun! We talked a lot about the Shark Poker Tour, some of the players, and life in general. After a few hours and a few beers, I hit the wall and had to call it a night as my day was already past the 24 hour mark. I headed back to the IP to hit the sheets.

My usual routine in Las Vegas in to play cash games until about 5 in the morning, then sleep through the rest of the morning. The Neophyte and Lucki Duck, however, seem to believe in this strange ritual in Las Vegas called breakfast. I have heard it exists, but …

Monday -- With all the good things I had heard about the Hash House A Go Go from others and just this trip from Neo, I decided to give it a try. I decided to go with the chicken salad sandwich. The verdict: very good. The Texas toast made it huge, and the bacon, cucumbers, other flavors blended in made it very different.

Played some $1/2 at Bally’s (naturally) with Neo and saw him take two nasty beats in a row to a below average player who chased. Unfortunately, the down side of playing at Bally’s is that the poor players will sometimes hit when they chase. Neo should have had a big stack and been ruling the table. Instead, he had to take his lumps. Poker really sucks sometimes.

This was just a long day of cash poker. A few potential evening plans never materialized, so I was satisfied to play long into the night.

Tuesday had a terrific start. I had barely gotten to bed when an alarm went off in the IP. I had to throw some clothes on and dash down ten floors of stairs. The funny thing was that once outside, it was like nothing happened. No one told us whether to stay outside or go back. Everything seemed normal in the casino. Sheesh.

The day began with another lunch at Hash House A Go Go. The salads looked so good that I had to try another – the cobb salad minus blue cheese. It was excellent.

It was back to Bally’s for more cash games for the afternoon. The evening would be fun as Neo and Poker Queen were going to Green Valley Ranch and I went along. On the way, we all got our first taste of In-N-Out Burger. The verdict: Pretty good for a regular hamburger joint. Not sure that I hold it in as great esteem as others do. But I will go back.

I really liked Green Valley Ranch. Nice casino with lots of different food options, especially inexpensive ones. The poker room was pretty big, but when we got there only a few tables were open. The room started to fill up as the after dinner crowd filtered in. My end of the table had a few players talking and having fun. Neo’s end was quiet. In fact, even when the room was filled, it seemed waaay too quiet. Maybe I am just used to the noise at Bally’s. I made my only real error of the trip when I failed to notice a pair on the board when I hit the second nut flush on the river. I was shocked at a re-raise, thinking that someone perhaps rivered the nut flush. The full house surprised me.

After Green Valley, we went back to … Bally’s! I texted Lucki Duck to see if he was up for some donkatude, but it looks like he didn’t get the message until the next morning. So … Neo and I hit up some more $1/2 NL. We had some fun guys at our end of the table, and that along with a young, busty blond cocktail waitress serving plenty of beer and Jaeger Bombs, we had a great time.

Final day (Wednesday): Lucki Duck and I arranged to meet at Bally’s poker room (his choice – I swear!). We played some $1/2 NL, then went to lunch with his wife, Neo, and Poker Queen. As Neo and Lucki have written, it was a great lunch with just a group of people talking about families, jobs, etc.

After lunch, it was time for me to leave. I hopped a cab to the airport and had a nice flight home – in early again (thank you Southwest!). I got home at about 1:00 am Thursday – just enough time for a few hours sleep before leaving for work at 7:30 am.

So … what to make of this trip? Although I enjoy playing at Bally’s, sometimes the horrific beats tend to dent your stack. That is the price for playing with some really horrible players, I guess.

The best part of this trip, however, was very clearly meeting and hanging out with some online poker friends. Downing beers with Hyppie and Jiggy was great. I wish I had had more time to talk with them.

Playing poker with The Neophyte and Lucki Ducki and meeting their wives was priceless. In case you have never met them or played against them, Neo and Lucki are great guys that I am proud to call friends. They both have wonderful wives and are bright, witty, and solid poker players. So many times I have gone to Las Vegas by myself to get away from the world and have talked to very few people. This trip felt more like I was playing poker in a modified home game where the experience was much more valuable than the bottom line profit or loss.

They were, of course, very charitable in letting me blab on and on with my endless stories. But … that is part of what friends are for, right?

Next Las Vegas trip: Unplanned at this time, but probably sometime during the WSOP.

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Blogger Josie said...

You better not go again unless you're meeting me there.

Nice recap btw.

6:39 PM  
Blogger The Neophyte said...

Loved the stories and the time together. Hope we can meet up again on another one of these as the Ballys poker room wouldn't be the same without you in it. Great writeup.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

Wish I had been there, sounds like a great time! Good report.

8:14 PM  
Anonymous wolfshead said...

If I ever get things straightened out you're going to have to make a trip east this summer and we can hit Bally's in AC and get some beach time and poker

10:06 PM  
Blogger Lucki Duck said...

Of course I picked Ballys... like you would play somewhere else!

Enjoyed pitchin' cards with ya. Hope we can do it again sometime.

12:04 AM  

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