Friday, February 26, 2016

"Stealth" Las Vegas Trip Report -- Part II

After being out so late Wednesday night, Thursday morning was largely lost in getting a few hours of sleep. After that, I hit the Gold Coast buffet and planned to head to Rio to catch a shuttle to The Strip. However, when I saw the shuttle at Gold Coast that could take me to the Orleans, I jumped on it. This would be the day that I would finally play at Orleans. I had always avoided playing there, hearing that I would actually be one of the younger and less crabby players at the table.

I am happy to report that I had an excellent time playing $1/3 NL at Orleans. The locals at my table were fine and appeared to mostly be good players. One young agro guy sat down on my right. On a fun hand, I led out under the gun for $12 with A-A. Unfortunately, call ... call ... call ... call ... and then it got to the agro guy (about $100 behind), who declared "all in." Talk about manna from heaven! I decided to just call in hopes of getting one other person in the pot. Everyone folded, however, and my A-A faced off against J-J. The aces held, and I was feeling pretty good ... until my K-K got flushed by a woman who appeared to be a pretty good player -- and was hitting almost every flop. I finally decided that I wasn't going to be making money there and caught a shuttle back to The Strip.

The shuttle dropped us off at the Forum Shops. The weather had turned pretty cool, and my shorts and t-shirt were just not quite cutting it that night. I headed to my honey hole, the Mirage. I sat next to a friendly local who, after chatting with me for an hour or so, proceeded to tell me how each of the locals at the table play. Shazam! After getting up some, I began just treading water and decided to catch a late dinner. I knew that AC was playing in an Omaha tournament at Orleans, so I decided to see if she would bust or go head toward a victory. Unfortunately, she busted out, then drove us to Firefly Tapas Kitchen & Bar. What an excellent choice -- especially since Firefly had a reverse happy hour from 11:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. However, the parking area was a little sketchy, and we were confronted by a thin woman who claimed that she was pregnant and who wanted to do a crappy clean-up job on the car for money. She even said that we shouldn't worry about her doing anything to the car. Yeah -- right! We briskly walked into the restaurant and were hoping that she would be gone when we got out.

After some great food, we decided to call it a night. AC drove me back to Gold Coast and I got to bed with the hope of getting some sleep for a big final day and a half.

Friday, February 19 would be my last full day in Las Vegas. After getting up in the morning, I got a phone call from The Poker Meister. A nice long talk about poker strategy and pros playing in the Baltimore area got me ready to check out of the hotel. Additionally, several texts from regular texting buddies PPP and Rob had me rolling on the floor. And once again, AC provided transportation, but first, a trip to a local sushi bar...

 for some tuna poke ...
salmon skin salad ...

and sushi.
With the main course down and with plenty of time on our hands, we headed downtown. There was one place I knew I had to visit: Mermaids. It was time to channel my inner 3dollarbag.
AC looks on in horror as I enjoy my sweet treats

And then it was time to check out my final hotel. Since I spend little time in my room when I go on poker trips by myself, I hate to spend much money on hotels. Friday night in Las Vegas usually means big bucks on The Strip, so I opted for a motel just off The Strip that received decent ratings on Strangely enough, a couple of days before the trip I could not find this motel on the usual site, the Comfort Inns website. AC told me that she went past the area the day before but did not see the Roadway Inn. We found out why: it had been sold and was being converted to a Siegel Suites Extended Stay. It was already in kind of a sketchy area between Wynn and the Convention Center, but additionally had construction going on all around and remodeling of the hotel also. It looked creepy.
Yikes! I was kind of scared to even get out of the car! AC then asked "Do you want to sleep on my couch tonight?" and I quickly accepted. We dropped off my stuff at her place, and then while AC went out to engage in some Blood Bowl action, I took the monorail (another first in Las Vegas for me!) to Harrah's and headed to ... where else -- Mirage.

The table I was at was okay, but I wasn't catching any cards and I knew that winning money would continue to be difficult there. I switched to a table that seemed to have one or two drunk guys, and voila -- a heater started. In my first big hand, I called a raise with Ad-4d. About five of us were in the hand at $12 apiece. The flop was 4s, 2d, 5d. There was a raise and an all in. Even though none of my flush draws had been hitting, I knew this pot would be big and I called for about $100. There was another all in, so anticipation was high. I rivered 10d and scooped a nice pot. Poker is EZ sometimes! A few hands later, I called a raise with Ah-8h. The flop was all hearts. Boom!

A guy who had a lot to drink was getting aggressive, and I kept catching cards. At one point he made a $21 raise. Looking down at A-Q, I called. The flop was Queen high. The turn -- an Ace! Another decent pot.

After several players left and/or were felted, it seemed like I needed to get out of the game and catch the monorail before it shut down for the night. I cashed out at 2:20 a.m.
I would have had a bit more, but it was my last night in Las Vegas and I was generous with the tips I was giving to the dealer who kept feeding me excellent cards. I caught the monorail with a big smile on my face.

Saturday morning AC and I had salmon omelettes at a local restaurant, and then it was off to the airport. After getting into Chicago, I decided to take a detour and visit my Mom and thundering36 before heading home. While heading back home I saw the road that would take me to Harrah's Joliet. Nah, I decided. It looked like it was finally time to go home.

So ... I had a great trip, won money and had an excellent time. Many, many , many thanks to AC, who not only shuttled me around, but provided great company for several meals and even put me up for my final night when my hotel situation got messed up. It is certainly good to have friends in Sin City!

It is beginning to look like my next Las Vegas trip will tentatively be June 12-17. My original plan was to take my son to celebrate his college graduation, but it looks like my wife might also be able to go. It looks like it has all the making of another excellent trip!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"Stealth" Las Vegas Trip Report -- Part I

Things had not been great for me lately. The governor and legislators in Illinois have caused numerous problems for almost all higher education institutions in the state. I had to tell some people in my department at work that they might lose their jobs. My mother-in-law's dementia has worsened to the point that she is now in a nursing home. The weather was cold and snowy. What better time to head out to Las Vegas! This is the beginning report of the trip I called my "stealth trip."
Oops - not that "Stealth"

As always, I waited until the last minute to pack. Then it was off in the cold and snow to Chicago to catch my flight on Monday morning, January 15. After lucking out with nobody in the middle seat on the flight out, I got my private Uber driver to pick me up at McCarren and take me Flamingo, where I would stay for two nights, to check in.
Alicia "AC" Chang and unidentified Uber customer

We stopped to pick up some food from where else but ...
Loaded up with food from the gods, we stopped off to make a delivery to a hungry soul:
Michelle just waiting for the In-N-Out

After eating, it was finally time to play some poker. First stop: Flamingo, which has tended to be a bad place for me in the past. It did not disappoint. I kept getting low pocket pairs and calling raises. Surely I would hit a set and win a nice pot. Ummm ... no. I had several nice flush draws, and surely I would catch a card to hit the flush and win a nice pot. Ummm ... no.

I made my way to Bally's and  couldn't seem to do anything right. I got few cards and when I did, they were always counterfeited. I always claim to want to get to bed at a decent time on my first night in Las Vegas. This time I really did get to bed earlier than usual, licking my wounds from the disastrous first night in Las Vegas. Things had to get better, right?

One interesting note from the first night: the friggin' Wyndham reps were all over me. I usually go to Las Vegas by myself and don't get bothered by the timeshare people. However, walking around with AC, the Wyndham reps thought we were a couple and were on us like ants on a fallen picnic hamburger. What a pain in the butt.

Tuesday started out with a freebie brunch at Paris. Caesars Entertainment Corp has a great promotion currently going on in Las Vegas: get 50 tier credits, get a free buffet (Caesars Bacchanal not included). 50 tier credits = three hours of poker. Sweet! After stuffing myself like the glutton I am, I texted my brother, thundering36, to rub it in. He asked me if I had eaten a crepe yet. I hadn't, but still had some room in my gizzard for this awesome treat:
As always, thundering36 could be counted on to give an appropriate comment: "I hate you!!!!!" I guess a strawberry, raspberry and blueberry crepe with whipped cream, powdered sugar and raspberry sauce will do that to some people.

I played some more poker at my old "home," Bally's, and still was going nowhere. The only bonus was having a nice chat with Bally's dealer and good guy Ron -- balt999. I played some $1-1 NL at The LINQ and the run bad continued.

I finally decided to go to the place that had been really good to me the past trip or two: Mirage. Surely I could do at least a little better there? Well, ...
Ding -- we have a winnah! The biggest pot I won was when I raised with J-J and got several callers. The flop: 10-J-A rainbow! I knew that I was vulnerable if someone played K-Q, but that wasn't going to stop me. One player actually laid down a set of 10's after I pushed, one had two pair and one didn't show. The turn was a blank and the river was a King. I thought I was dead. However, no Queens were in play and I scooped a huge pot. Shazam!

I cashed out and went to join AC, Michelle and Kristi, who were playing at The LINQ. AC posted this picture, which she captioned "lightning's angels:"
One gets the feeling that more than a few drinks were consumed prior to the picture!

I decided to buy in for $140 at this $1/1 NL game. The first hand I was dealt A-Q and called a raise. The flop was Ace high, and the initial raiser pushed the rest of his $100 stack. I decided to call. It turns out that he had A-J and shipped his hundo to me. Sweet! I played several hours and ended up with a decent profit. After such a poor start to poker, I dug myself out of my hole. Things should only be going up from here, right?

On Wednesday morning, I packed up and had my Uber driver take me to Gold Coast. Thanks, Boyd Gaming, for the two comped nights at Gold Coast. As I checked in, I had to tweet out this picture of my room to 3dollarbag and ShadyStevePoker:
Yes -- the guy who grew up in the 60's and 70's who has yet to partake of the evil weed gets assigned room 420. Shazam!

For lunch, AC and I went to a place I had been wanting to try for several years, Ping Pang Pong. A look at some of the great dim sum:
After lunch, it was time to head back to the poker table. Destination: MGM. I made a nice profit there when I called a raise with 8-8. The flop had a King and two small cards, and I just didn't believe the initial raiser. My gut told me that he bricked and was trying to push me off my hand. He raised the flop and I called. The turn seemed to be inconsequential. He raised again and I called. The river seemed to be another brick. He put out a big raise, which certainly stunk to the high heaven. He either had me all the way and played me for a sucker or else I was dead on in my read. I called. Bingo -- his A-Q was no good. Woot woot!

I headed down to Harrah's to get in a quick session before dinner with AC and Michelle at the Rio buffet. Yes -- another free buffet, courtesy of poker. The session at Harrah's was less than successful, after which we were off to Rio. Afterwards, Michelle and I got in a session at Bally's.
The session at Bally's had a couple of disasters. A shorty was all in with K-K and I called with A-A. King on the flop. Shit. And finally ... finally ... I finally flopped a set -- 6's on a board of 4-5-6 rainbow. One would think that I was good. I raised and was re-raised. The villain obviously flopped the straight. I called the raise with the hope that I could pair the board. No luck. I checked and the villain raised big, and at that point I had to just let go. Bah! What had potential to be a great session ended up being disappointing. At least I did have good intuition in heading back to The LINQ for the midnight ticket drawing since I had about a dozen tickets in the hopper from the previous late night session. One of my tickets was pulled, giving me a free $100. Can't argue with that! I returned to Bally's afterwards. At about 5:00 a.m. I decided to call it a night. After a cab ride to Gold Coast, it was time to hit the sheets and dream about crushing some more poker before the trip ended.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

"Stealth" Las Vegas Trip Report Coming Soon

I got home last night from a trip to Las Vegas -- Feb 15-20, to be exact. Due to a bunch of things going on at work and in my personal life, I decided to keep the trip relatively low key. I planned to start a trip report today, but what was supposed to be an easy few hours of Sunday work turned into an emergency situation that I had to help handle.

So ... it is coming. Poker, food, friends, the horror hotel, my personal Uber service, ... Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Presidential Proclamation -- National Tony Bigcharles Day

Presidential Proclamation: Tony Bigcharles Day, 2016


In the history of No Limit Hold em Poker, many players have distinguished themselves as visionaries and ambassadors of the game. It takes a unique individual to distinguish himself over years and across the entire country, playing wherever he could find a poker game or one of dem GOOD machines.

Be it living in casino hotels, apartments and boxes (when necessary), the search for a beatable game is the most noble of tasks for the itinerant gambler. To do so for twenty or more years requires dedication, perseverance and intestinal fortitude far beyond the common poker player. Tony Bigcharles has provided a template for those looking to dedicate their life to finding the perfect game.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Wednesday, February 10, 2016, as National Tony Bigcharles Day. I ask that the people of the United States honor Tony through prayer, contemplation, the ringing of bells, evening candlelight vigils, and other appropriate ceremonies and activities. I invite people around the world to participate in this commemoration.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.


Disclaimer: Of course, this is not an OFFICIAL proclamation from the President of the United States, u see. It is just my way of being the first person to say Happy Birthday Tony! I hope you are prepared to have a wonderful birthday tomorrow!

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Good Eating on the Cheap the lightning36 Way

Sometimes some of my online friends like to post pictures of the food and drinking they are having for dinner. If the friend is Pete P. Peters, you can bet that there will be a picture of a glass of Cabernet (usually Stags' Leap or Jordan ) followed by a picture of a grilled filet mignon -- served in a nice restaurant, u see. If the friend is Alysia Chang, you can bet that there will be a picture of some tasty-looking alcoholic beverage followed by a picture of sushi or the like -- also at a fine restaurant, u see again. However, I am not exactly a fine restaurant type of guy. And, being a guy who is naturally cheap and will soon be cutting a five figure check for tuition for two kids in college, simple, uncomplicated and good works well for me.

Yesterday my wife informed me that she was going to dinner and a movie with a friend, leaving me to fend for myself and procure dinner for my daughter. For my girl, the task was easy -- pick up some sushi at a local grocery store.

For me? Well, I decided to go with an 8 oz. strip steak.

 I prepared it simply -- seasoned with a freshly cracked pepper medley and Himalayan Mineral Salt and pan fried in olive oil.
Cost: $4.00

To accompany the steak, a salad.
Cost: approximately $.20

To enhance the dinner, some Cajun crab dip and chips.
 Cost: approximately $.25

To drink, a bottle of a nice Belgian Ale.
Cost: $.83

Total cost of my steak, salad, crab dip and ale dinner: $5.28 plus tax. And okay -- I did have a deli chocolate chip cookie and frozen fruit and veggie bar for dessert. Cost: approximately $1.06

TOTAL: $6.34

Cheaper and healthier than even the Las Vegas Ellis Island steak special.

So yeah, if you are wondering, this is how I roll, baby!

Disclaimer: I got home and was starving and gobbled up the dinner. I didn't think of making a post about it until later. Therefore, the pictures of food came from the internet.