Sunday, June 09, 2013

June 2013 Las Vegas Trip Report - Part I

My summer 2013 Las Vegas adventure began a week ago on Sunday with an always welcomed unremarkable flight on Southwest from Chicago-Midway into McCarran. This trip probably set a record for the quickest time from landing to hotel check-in at Bally’s. I was thankful that I had recently gotten a Total Rewards credit card, which automatically returned me to Platinum status, allowing me to bypass a huge check-in line.  I continue to sing the praises of E-Z Rent-A-Car in Las Vegas: fast and cheap – the way I prefer my women and my rental cars! The trip was off to a good start.

I had planned to watch game two of the Chicago Blackhawks/L.A. Kings hockey series and did so in the comfort of a largely empty sports book at Bally’s. I actually headed to MGM to watch the third period so that I would be ready to take up Rob on an offer for a free dinner. We ate at Wolfgang Puck’s Bar and Grill – a first for me. Rob ordered his usual nekked hamburger that was “cooked” by being passed through a flame for five seconds or so. I tried an Italian Sausage pizza, which was actually pretty good. Afterwards we played a session in the MGM poker room. MGM used to be a premier tourist poker room, but since it is relocated every few months or so it has gone downhill in my opinion. Anyway, we were seated quickly and came across a real jerk at the table. He was playing wildly and muttering nasty comments. I am sure that Rob will be posting a more colorful (and lengthy) version of the events, but suffice it to say that all the fun was sucked out by this guy. You should have seen the reaction from Rob when the guy dissed him and made a big re-raise on him. We eventually got table changes and I proceeded to have a poor session. I took off for my usual home base – Bally’s – but had little success my first session there. Not a great poker start to the trip, but hey – at least I was in Las Vegas!

Monday was the unofficial TBC day. I drove down to Jean to finally see the Gold Strike Casino, an interesting mixture of the past and the present. Tony was playing his usual Dealer’s Angel video blackjack machine (four spots) and was upset at a guy watching him play. It didn’t help that Tony was mad that he was down some and then hit the wrong button when he meant to cash out, losing four more bets. Watching how long the cashouts took reminded me of old Las Vegas. Tony had arranged for buffet lunch comps for us but first wanted to talk outside in private. He had a bone to pick with me and was frustrated with some other things and didn’t hold back. I was surprised to see how many different ways he could use the word “mother fucker” when he was angry! It was the first time I had seen one of the famous Tony explosions. Frankly, it was a little scary even though I know that Tony is a fearful guy. Little wonder that many casinos have 86ed him after seeing him explode.

The lunch buffet at Gold Strike was actually okay. It was small and there was nothing exotic, but the food was fresh and flavorful. One could do worse. We then headed to Texas Station, where I had never been, to play a spread limit Hold em game that Tony could afford. Well, this limit rookie got his clock cleaned by the locals, running into quads, getting Aces cracked by Q-9, getting hands run down on the river, which of course is par for limit poker. As I told Tony, I lost my ass there! However, the casino itself was okay and the poker room seemed to be run well.

We then headed to Arizona Charlie’s Decatur where a low buy-in NL Hold em game was supposed to start at 8pm. We got there early and played limit, but the NL game never materialized. While the service and the vibe in the poker room was friendly, a real negative was that smoking was allowed. The small staff there filled in at the table, which was appreciated since it kept the game going. I lost a few bucks there but had a fun time.
Finally, we went to Palace Station and got seated for limit poker, but Tony wanted to play at larger stakes than I did to lessen the effect of rake. I didn’t want to be the rookie at a higher limit, so we decided to just call it a night since we were already past the time when Tony would usually be going to sleep on his machine mania schedule. We made the trip back to Jean and I headed back to Las Vegas. I then hit a night session at Bally’s that was unremarkable. Two days in Las Vegas with nothing but a few losses to show for it. The poker on the trip would have to get better!
Tuesday had a good start as I was meeting Lucki Duck and his lovely wife for lunch at Ellis Island, one of my favorite places to go for its steak special. Although the price keeps going up, under $10 with a players club discount is still a good deal. Eating there is certainly not akin to eating in a fancy Las Vegas steak house, but it is still a solid deal for less than $10, which includes a salad, veggie, potato and a draft root beer or beer. The Ellis Island dark draft is an excellent choice.
Anyway, it was nice to catch up with Lucki, who is a really nice guy. I got to hear about his WSOP cash, solidifying the notion that bloggers just might have some mad poker skills. Lucki is a proud Texan (aren’t they all?) so I love to rib him about Texas. However, I got tag teamed by Lucki and his wife, so my attack was answered. Heck, Lucki even paid for my lunch, so I guess Texans might just be okay!
It was at this point in the trip that the poker turned around. In fact, every session I played after that lunch resulted in a profit. Were the eyes of Texas upon me?
After lunch I met up with Cutter, one of the guys who posts at the Roughing the Punter forum . Cutter had been helping Tony with gambling advice and with sharing some comps with him. Cutter gave me some fascinating views into the life of a professional gambler. I learned a heck of a lot in the few hours we talked.  It was also nice to meet another of the many people who have tried to help Tony.
The rest of the day consisted of poker and more poker at Bally’s. I was tired at the end of the day and felt a tad off, possibly from drinking what seemed to be a drink with an odd taste to it. I called it a night at about 2:00 a.m., frustrated that the Bally’s poker room wifi was down. I was never able to connect there the rest of the trip. If only I had been at a fun table late at night and decided to play through the night into the early morning. If only I had stayed until, like 7:30 a.m. ...


Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

Sounds like you had a good time.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Tony Bigcharles said...

i dont think thats entirely accurate, be aware it wasnt YOU i was mad at.

10:27 PM  
Blogger grrouchie said...

yeah - if you just played for a few more hours you could have been $6k richer.

To be young

12:40 AM  
Blogger The Poker Meister said...

Did you see Mojo when you were out there? Welcome back!

10:00 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

Thanks, PM. No -- MOJO blew us off to play poker. Imagine -- final tabling a Las Vegas poker tournament instead of eating hamburgers with friends. The nerve of the guy ... : o )

10:32 AM  
Blogger PokahDave said...

If I can ever get back there i'll make you stay at the table until 8:00 AM....and i'll collect my winnings from the Bruins Stanley Cup win...

12:17 PM  
Blogger Jordan said...

I would love to hear more about what you learned about the life of a professional gambler, from your conversation with Cutter. Any chance you can give more details in Part 1A.

3:55 PM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

@Jordan Don't think I'll say more in a public forum. Email me if you want to hear some details.

7:12 PM  
Blogger ~Coach said...

I lived the closest to Palace Station BY FAR when I was in the desert, but found it so unbearable that I would drive all the way to Red Rock (and sometimes Green Valley Ranch) to accumulate hours for the Station Freeroll Tournaments...

5:48 AM  
Blogger Cranky said...

Thanks for the trip report. Looking forward to reading the rest. How do you like Bally's rooms?

9:05 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

Hockey is totally rigged.

12:04 PM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

@Cranky - Bally's rooms are okay. I have only stayed in the south tower, which is supposed to be nicer than the north tower. I usually get the room for free or for little and do not spend much time there, so actually almost anything is okay with me. The north rooms usually have a desk and a love seat.

7:55 PM  
Blogger Cranky said...

light - thanks for the info. Would love to stay anywhere in LV at this point. It's 5+ years since our last foray there. We'll get back there at some point, though.

8:58 PM  
Blogger ManInBlack said...

yeah no kidding., I am still pissed about what happened at 7:30am

2:20 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

Hey, my burger wasn't "nekked" it was wearing a bun! But I like my burgers like I like my women....raw.

12:44 AM  

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