Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Tripping Reno with Tony Bigcharles

On Tuesday, June 23, the Phoenix leg of my trip came to a close and I got ready to fly into Reno. The afternoon flight was great -- at least what little I remember of it. I snoozed almost the entire time. After we landed in Reno, I got my suitcase and picked up the car from Hertz that I had gotten through Priceline: a Toyota Yaris. Meh.

The trip to the downtown Harrah's Reno was quick. Reno is smaller than I imagined. Harrah's Reno seemed dead, and I appeared to be one of the younger patrons. I can't even tell you much about the hotel since I spent so little time in it. However, I was frosted to find out that, despite paying the famous Caesars' resort fee, such simple things like coffee and water in my room were not covered. $3 for a bottle of water in the room? $1.50 for each K Cup of coffee? No thanks!

I headed to Peppermill to play some poker with Tony Bigcharles. The plan was to head to a buffet for dinner. Tony told me that he would cover my buffet with comps. Sweet!

I was getting hungry as the evening wore on, but Tony wasn't and the game was good, so we played on. Early in the evening, I woke up to find that I was dealt pocket Aces. I raised and Tony stayed in the hand. I remember the hand a little differently than Tony. In my mind, the flop was A-8-9 -- I had flopped top set. Tony remembers the flop as A-9-2. Tony started going through his usual jabbering about the hand, and all the guys at the table, who I am sure were tired of his talk, watched the hand closely. It was pretty obvious who they were rooting for in the hand. I raised and Tony talked and talked. I just kept quiet. Tony remembers an 8 on the turn, which gave him two pair. I remember him already having two pair on the flop. Whatever.

The jabbering continued, and I had no idea that Tony was that strong. He told me that he considered shoving on the turn, which would have been sweet to the tune of over $300 from the sockroll. However, he held back. The river was an Ace, giving me quads. Fortunately for Tony, the card scared him off and he folded instead of shoving to my raise. He still jabbered on why I was silent, and all the guys at the table had a chuckle when he tabled his two pair and then saw that I had quads. The quads were good for an immediate $75 high hand bonus, and it held up several hours later to give me an extra $100 for the top hand, 6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

We headed out for the Grand Sierra Resort, where Tony could pick up a free buffet pass for that night and would buy mine with his comps, which he remembered being around $50. He was shocked to find that his comp balance was ... 72 cents! While he tried to rectify the situation with the GSR players club personnel, I got concerned that we would not get in the buffet by its 9:00 closing time. Tony's situation stayed unresolved and we got to the buffet at 8:50 only to find that they shut off the line early due to lack of seating.  Dang! So instead, I drove us to Denny's where we ate instead.

We went back to Peppermill for more poker and I picked up my $100 bonus. I continued to have some success on the slots as my trip continued, and even had this fun shot from a Pete P. Peters favorite game, Miss Kitty.
Yep -- those sticky wilds in the bonus game are fun -- especially when 13 of the 20 spots are already wild. Meow!

Wednesday was pretty much more of the same -- poker, poker and more poker. However, Wednesday was just one of those days when things did not go right. For example, I raised with A-Q and got a few callers. The flop was Queen high with two rags. One guy stayed with me and my raises  preflop, after the flop, and after the turn. What could he have? I was concerned I was just playing right into his hands. The river seemed to be an innocent looking deuce. Only this time, when I raised on the river, he re-popped me. I called. He showed Q-2! What? He called all my bets with top pair worst kicker and then sucked out on the river? That was pretty much how the entire day went.

Mr. Bigcharles himself donked me in a hand. Sorry, but with a week having gone by and my life being filled with many challenges at work and in my personal life, many of the details are lost. But as I recall, I raised with A-K, Tony called and stayed along, then hit a flush on the river. What I mostly remember is that I had had a really rough poker day and was really pissed at the beat. I was looking for the nearest stapler to throw, but not seeing one, laid into Tony pretty good. I think he was a bit surprised that I got so angry in losing a hand. Hmmm ... perhaps his play-by-play chatter had something to do with it?

I was finally able to meet Tony's friend Karen, with whom I had exchanged texts and messages the past several weeks. Like many of the people I have met who try to help Tony, Karen was great! Sometimes I think that Tony has no idea how much some people are trying to help him.

Thursday was the day we planned to go to Lake Tahoe. We headed out early in the afternoon on a wonderful day. Some pictures on the way to the lake:

We got to the lake and were ready to start driving around it, but Tony suggested that we visit a couple of casinos first -- the Tahoe Biltmore and the Crystal Bay Casino. What is a degenerate gambler to do? So naturally, we turned right instead of left and headed to the casinos. I was quite surprised to see what the Tahoe Biltmore looked like. I was thinking that perhaps, being on Lake Tahoe, it would look like the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, FL...

... or perhaps the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina.
Unfortunately, it was not quite what I expected:
Tony directed me across the street to the Crystal Bay Casino, where I could take advantage of its ATM promotion, while Tony went to play one of dem GOOD machines -- a video blackjack machine -- at the Biltmore. I ran $50 in free play through the Enchanted Unicorn and Konami Lotus Land: Tiger's Winnings slot machines, profiting $115. Not bad! Afterwards, we ate lunch at the Biltmore Café , mostly on Tony's comps, then headed around Lake Tahoe. A few pictures of the lake:

The pictures really don't do it justice. It was very pretty and populated by tons of people stopping their cars along the lake and wading in it or sunning themselves on the shore. I am ashamed to say that I passed up my chance to dump Tony's body in the water and steal his sweet, sweet sockroll. I guess I will just have to continue going through life as a poor man.

After driving several miles around the lake, we headed to Carson City, where I was hoping to check out the Nevada State Museum. Unfortunately, we got there a little bit before it was closing. I really wanted to visit the gift shop, but as with the buffet at GSR, the doors were locked EARLY. Dang! We stopped in the little casinos in the downtown area (this is where the picture of Tony next to the Batmobile was taken) and then headed back to Reno and the Peppermill.

There were a couple of hands that final night that put a damper on the trip. In one, I got Pocket Rockets on the button and put out a $20 raise. I got one caller. He was a youngish Asian guy who was with a guy closer to my age. They hadn't played for too long and I didn't have a great read on him.  The flop was 10-3-6 with two Spades. I put the guy on a flush draw and was quite surprised when he re-raised my $35 bet after the flop to $100. I had about $450 to his $300 (prior to the hand) and I pushed all in. He tanked for a bit (high card on the flop was a 10, and I didn't put him on a set because of the re-raise), then called. The turn was a blank and the river was a spade. He flipped over his cards to show 4s-5s -- a flush draw and an open ended straight draw after the flop. My stack - decimated. I just got up from the table and headed toward a Miss Kitty game to lick my wounds.

I returned and built my stack back up. A few hours later, after the table was broken and I was playing with mostly new people, I had the most heartbreaking hand of the trip. A player from a $3/5 table came over with a decent stack, and he was pretty aggressive. I was waiting for my chance. I attempted to limp in with pocket 6's and he raised to $16. I called. The flop: a beautiful 2-2-6! I hollywooded a bit and got him to shove all in, which I happily called. He showed pocket Queens - sweet! Until the river, that is. He binked a Queen on the river to win a pot of about $700 that was within my grasp. How devastating. I played for a bit longer but didn't have the heart after that. Besides, I had played through the night and had to check out of my hotel room in a few hours anyway.

Tony, who had left the game earlier to catch a few hours of sleep, amazing reappeared in the wee hours of the morning and was there to join me for breakfast -- which he paid for! Afterwards, he gave me an agreed upon $50 toward my car rental costs (the lightning36 cab company has reasonable rates!) and I headed back to my hotel room to get one hour of sleep. Before I left town, I stopped by Peppermill to tell Mike, the poker room manager, what a great room he ran. I really enjoyed playing there.

So ... although I took it on the china few times in the poker room, I had a great time playing poker and visiting with Tony. I only wish he could change some of his behaviors when playing poker -- namely constantly chattering about hands, goading people and showing his bluffs. I am convinced he loses more than he will ever realize by playing that way. But, as we all know, Tony's gonna Tony.

Is Reno worth a visit? Well, aside from Peppermill, I briefly played at Atlantis. One table of $1/2 going there. Meh. Peppermill appears to be the only really good option in town -- certainly not enough to justify a trip there for poker alone.

For my trip to Scottsdale and Reno, I won both at poker and slots in Arizona, and won at slots and lost in poker in Reno. The two big hands I wrote about were the difference between a small profit and a small loss for the trip. N0t exactly what I was shooting for, but the trip was great nevertheless.

Happy gambooling!


Blogger Kat Martin said...

I got hit by the Batmobile in Leicester Square around 1988

4:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Long time lurker and reader, thanks for the trip reports allowing those of us living far away from VEGAS/casino heaven the chance to live vicariously...

7:54 AM  
Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

Thanks for the report and the photos. Does Tony chatter like that away from the table? Is it an ego thing where he is trying to show everyone how smart he is?

9:06 AM  
Blogger karen said...

It was great to meet you! Youre a great guy. Hated to see that 66622 lose. Was sick to watch. But happy you enjoyed your trip

9:53 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

@Memphis MOJO -- Tony has a tendency to talk without taking a breath, especially when he is agitated. This happens away from the table quite frequently. At the table, he uses the chatter to try to fool/manipulate the other players, and somehow feels this need to review all the steps that went into a play. This becomes particularly irritating for someone who has lost the hand, as none of us would like to feel like the other player was sticking the loss in our faces.

Peppermill has a limited list of regs. I have heard that that are sick of him, but apparently not enough to make a big enough fuss about it. Surprisingly, the management doesn't sit on him more, for it is likely that loses the room business, chases people away, or at the least, sometimes takes away the feel-good aura that makes a poker room enjoyable for players.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Ace said...

Enjoyed reading the trip report! Some funny statements, too. That picture of TBatmanCharles and the car is badass! And if that O was a U in the background, it would be hilarious!

1:06 PM  
Blogger Poker & Gambling 24/7 said...

Leave your work and personal issues behind by becoming a professional poker and slot player. Move to Phoenix/Las Vegas/Los Angeles and everything will melt away.

5:15 PM  
Blogger The Poker Meister said...

"Tony's gonna Tony." Unfortunately, Tony will not change until Tony gets hard data that it costs him. Since there's no way to provide data to him, he'll never change his behaviors. It's an interesting case study: he started tracking his poker earnings and realized that he does better w/ poker. From his more recent posts, it sounds like he's lessened his VBJ / -EV habits to a limited extent. If only he'd try stopping the chatter for 10-20 sessions and see how it compares to his prior history....

6:44 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Is the chatter a new thing? I played with him several time around 18 months ago, and don't remember him talking much at all!

2:46 AM  
Blogger Kat Martin said...

In my experience it depends if he's winning or losing. When losing he's buried in his phone. When he wins a pot the table is granted a ten minute babble in which TBC explains his brilliant reads on each street, his superlative play, and what his opponent did wrong.

4:27 PM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

@Greg & @Kat -- He seems to not be honest about this, but when not in a hand he constantly plays with his phone and has no idea what is going on at the table. He misses tons of information. When in a hand, he starts talking almost immediately most of the time. Afterwards, particularly if he wins the hand one way or another, he talks about it, explaining why everyone did what they did, etc. After losing a hand (particularly one where he got lucky and won), the last thing anyone wants to hear is Tony doing a play-by-play analysis.

One time Tony sat down and an older guy at the table muttered "Well, it WAS fun here". After Tony sat down, the guy left after an orbit or two. I doubt that was an isolated incident.

5:09 PM  
Blogger FlushhDraw said...

How is it in all these years someone has not decked him?? I'm not prone to that kind of violence, but others however are not always so controlled.

5:23 PM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

@FlushhDraw I think your question ranks right up there with "Who really killed JFK?"

5:34 PM  
Blogger Kat Martin said...

He's so physically puny I think only really old or physically disabled guys would feel okay popping him.

10:49 PM  

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