Thursday, August 24, 2017

Las Vegas Trip Report Part III: Filling in Some Details

For many reasons, including style, memory and, most importantly time considerations, I do not usually write epically long posts like my friend Rob. However, I sometimes get asked to expound a tad on some of what I've written. I have had three such requests from my last post. So ... here we go!

The trip with Alicia

It was my last night in Las Vegas, so I wanted to make it worthwhile. I had been playing poker with TBC at Planet Hollywood, but his sleep schedule dictated that his night would be ending quickly. Alysia called and asked if I was up for  getting a dinner off The Strip. Hell yes! However, her car was in the shop ... again (ha!) and she would be driving her brother's car. He was getting dressed and then the two of them would pick me up. That seemed okay, so I said goodbye to Tony and headed to the nearby ABC shop to get something to drink. I eyed a big ca of one of my favorite beverages, Stiegl Radler, but decided against it since I didn't want to chug it or drink it in the car. Bad move, as AC's brother, Solomon, took FOREVER to get dressed. In the meantime, I burned time in a sports memorabilia shop. I'm sure the guy running the place has seen plenty of my type before: always trying to be a comedian. There was a 50% off sale, and I spotted a signed photo of former Chicago Blackhawks player Alex  Zhamnov. For those not quite into 1990's NHL history, Zhamnov was traded to Chicago for legend Jeremy Roenick. Blasphemy! Zhamnov never quite panned out in his several Chicago seasons. I saw a $50 price on the photo and asked the guy, "$25?" He said "yes," and I replied  "You'll give me $25 to take this away from you?"

Anyway ... AC and Solomon picked me up and we headed toward Rio, where Solomon was heading to meet up with friends before heading out to Sapphire Gentlemen's Club. Watching AC and her brother navigate their way was a treat in itself!

Once at Red Rock after eating dinner, AC had a strict deadline of when we had to leave. Let's just say I kind of ignored it and stretched things out a little. We headed to Sapphire and picked up Solomon and friends. And no, I had no desire to go inside. u see, I believe in CLEAN LIVING, of course! I was squeezed into the back seat with the friends, who I'll let AC describe in a blog comment. We dropped the friends off at Ellis Island, and AC decided not to join me for a late late night session at Venetian. Once there, I was treated to the loud noise of a huge gang walking through the V. It turns out that the gang was led by none other than NBA superstar Kevin Durant!

I eventually grabbed an Uber back to my hotel and got a short amount of sleep before taking the hotel shuttle to the airport.

Koala Logic

I saw TBC take a nasty cold deck beat at Wynn/Encore and keep his composure. Good job, Tony! However, Koala was peeved that at either that beat or one other bad one, Tony blamed the loss on Koala. u see, if Koala had not been there, Tony would have already left and NOT lost the later hand, of course. Well, I figured that logic was good enough for me. When I torched off my stack at MGM (A-K vs A-A on a King-high flop), I informed Koala that it was his fault since I was there with him and he owed me a few hundred dollars to cover half my loss. Amazingly, he turned down my request. However, on the night I cashed out about $1,400 dollars at MGM, he later told me that he was entitled to half my winnings that night! The nerve of the guy -- he he!

Could TBC hook up with the Man-hating Woman?

I have described the Man-hating Woman as having similar behaviors to Tony: quick angry outbursts, not paying attention to play at the table, burying her face in her phone playing Candy Crush Saga or Bejeweled. Seems like a match made in heaven, right? Ummm ... no. Believe it or not, Tony has much more in the way of social skills than that wretched woman. She's actually just the female version of the nitty, nasty Las Vegas grinder that we visitors despise. She wears headphones to tune out the world, plays uber-tight and at some point sucks the fun out of the table. One would think that someone living in Las Vegas being able to make money off poker would be a tad happier or, perhaps,a tad smarter and use personality to make the table atmosphere optimal for a grinder to make money. Well, that's not her. Sadly, I think she is just one of those people who thrives on being miserable. I wouldn't want to see Tony or anyone but a sworn enemy get anywhere near her.

The ride from Hoover Dam to McCarran International Airport

Long after I'd flown back home, Alysia drove TBC and Koala to the Hoover Dam area where they hit the local casino. On the way back to Las Vegas, they called me and we had a long, funny chat. The subject then focused on Tony's getaway, which he decided would be that night. He spotted a cheap fare to Cleveland and wanted me to go online and book his flight for him as Alysia drove him to the airport. Now, of course, booking a flight usually means providing information that I didn't know ... like maybe Tony date of birth or other personal information. I also wondered why a guy who could easily torch off a couple grand martingaling blackjack seemed afraid of the plane fare going up $50 dollars or so when the flight was only around a hundred bucks anyway. I actually looked up the flight to see if it was still around $100, but as Alysia was getting near the airport anyway, Tony wound up getting the ticket there ... at the cheap price.

Next trip to Las Vegas?

I am tempted to make a trip in a few weeks -- September 4-8. That would make three trips in a span of about ten weeks. Would that officially make me a degenerate? Or more of one?

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Las Vegas Trip Report Part II: Reuniting with Koala, Las Vegas Friends and the Return of the Man-Hating Woman

Outside the Mirage on a great hot summer day

Reuniting with Koala

This past trip to Las Vegas was at a somewhat unusual time for me. I tend to travel to Las Vegas in late January/early February, May/June and early September. Many years ago I would sometimes go in the early part of July, but this year's trip was scheduled way in advance and with a specific reason: to coincide with the vacation trip of my Aussie friend, Koala.

I first met Koala in Las Vegas in June 2012 when he planned a special tournament designed to assist Tony Bigcharles. Koala and I shared a meal and played some poker at Harrah's, having a great time and laughing quite a bit.  Over the next several years we traded emails, connected through social media and online forums and occasionally played in some online tournaments. I was not able to meet up with him his last trip to Las Vegas, so I made sure I wouldn't miss this one.

Although we had not seen each other in five years and most of our friendship had been through electronic communication, it was like two old war buddies having a reunion. We played several poker sessions together, shared some meals and had plenty of time to just b.s. about poker, our poker friends and life in general.He was around to see some of my craptastic poker play (including my torching off my stack with A-K vs A-A on a king-high flop!) and put on quite a show at MGM on a special day with hourly high hands when he hit several in a row.

We both stayed several nights at Excalibur and used that as our home base for that week, hitting the Excalibur poker room, MGM, Wynn/Encore, Mirage ... As the week ended, we both checked out of Excalibur -- me to stay at another hotel, and Koala to pick up his rental car and take a trip to the Reno/Lake Tahoe area. As always, seeing and playing poker with old buddies makes for a great Las Vegas trip.

Las Vegas Friends

Having visited Las Vegas something around about 100 times over the years, I have some friends who either live there or visit frequently like me. A shout out to a couple of my dealer friends I briefly saw last trip, AlaskaGal -- Kristi -- who deals at the Mirage, one of the rooms where I've had regular success, and Ron -- balt999 -- who deals at Bally's, which used to be my number one poker room in Las Vegas.

I was happy to catch one night with VegasDWP before he left on one of his many trips outside the U.S.A. David was able to sling some cards with Koala and me at Excalibur, then treated us (thanks again, sir!) to dinner at the Burger Bar in Mandalay Bay. As I recall, he might have been heading out after the meal to a Trump supporters rally ...

And, u see, what would a trip to Las Vegas be without seeing infamous Las Vegas and national poker grinder TBC -- Tony Bigcharles, of course? Tony and I got to play a couple of times at Wynn/Encore and also at Planet Hollywood. While playing at Wynn?Encore, I also got to meet one of TBC's other acquaintances, Benny Profane.

And then there is Alysia Chang, my former personal Las Vegas Uber driver and now sometimes source of transportation. She was able to put her coding work aside for a bit and and showed up with her brother, Solomon, at a dinner with friends at Nine Fine Irishmen in New York-New York. Also at the dinner were Koala and Stacy, another TBC acquaintance from his time at the Gold Rush in Jean, NV.
 Solomon, Koala, Alysia, Stacy and me

Alysia was also able to borrow her brother's car while hers was in the shop, drive us to the Roma Cafe for dinner, then to Red Rock for a late-night poker session.
My veal parmigiana at Roma Cafe

And ... on her drive back from Hoover Dam with Koala and TBC, she dialed me up for a fun phone call, including Tony's request for me to purchase his plane ticket to Cleveland while he was en route to the airport. Good times!

The Return of the Man-hating Woman

Just about a year ago, I wrote a blog post titled Attack of the Man-hating Woman, about an altercation I had with a very unpleasant woman at a poker table in Caesars Palace. The memory of this woman has been burned into my brain. I was really hoping to never run into this wretched person again. However ...

One of the days of the trip, Koala and I headed to play some cards at MGM. We were put on the wait list but were told that a new table would soon be opened. A few minutes later we were getting settled into our new table when I spotted the woman in seat two. Yes, it was the man-hating woman! I didn't know if she would remember me after a year, figuring that her interaction with me was probably indicative of her regular behavior at the table. I was in seat five and was keeping an eye on her, wondering if she would be involved in any interesting situations. My intuition was spot on. She won a hand -- maybe a suckout -- against the guy in seat three. He gently ribbed her about it, and she abruptly got up from the table and moved to seat nine. The guy started asking "What happened?" The man-hating woman refused to say anything. She preferred to play poker with her headphones on and , ala Tony Bigcharles, kept her face buried in her cell phone as she played Candy Crush Saga, Bejeweled or some other game. I got my old blog post up on my cell phone and asked the guy to read it. He kind of looked at my phone and didn't show much interest until he seemed to understand that the post was about her. He then read it and had a funny look on his face. Then he understood. It wasn't him. It was her.

I had no desire to again have any type interaction with such a pathetic human being. I did catch her first name from the MGM log in system at the poker table. I wanted it just in case there is some need for it in the future. She seemed to be friendly with one of the dealers, so I wondered if she is a regular at MGM.

My assumption is that one or more of my blog readers might have played poker with this woman one or more times in Las Vegas. Look the the frumpy, somewhat overweight woman with brown hair, pale skin and brown glasses who plays poker while wearing headphones and keeping her nose buried in her cell phone playing phone games when the action is not on her. If she seems to get pissed off for relatively no reason at a man -- BINGO, you have now experienced the man-hating woman. Good luck with her!

Thanks for reading.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Passing of a Poker Blogger Friend

It is with great sadness that I have been asked to help spread the word of the passing of a former poker blogger and friend. Earlier today, I received a text message that Wolfshead (Herb Gaasche) passed away this morning.

Wolfshead was one of the old time poker bloggers who also transitioned into the new group several years ago. He was known for his acerbic comments, particularly toward the woman he loved to chaeuffer around, Very Josie.

I was fortunate enough to meet Wolfshead in person on one trip to Las Vegas in 2010. His humor was even better in person. Despite many problems getting around due to various health concerns, including a stroke, he was a good sport and joked about his situation.

Unfortunately, over the past several years, he had a few more strokes and his health continued to deteriorate. We had not traded text messages for some time, and just over two weeks ago I sent him a text to see how he was doing. One of his nephews, Patrick, responded to me text. He said the Wolfshead recently had a leg amputated and had been bedridden since December. I left the usual kind of message that I normally would for him: "Please tell him to get off his fat butt or I'll sic Josie on him." This morning when I heard about his passing, Patrick wrote: "When I told him of your message, he was unable to communicate but his eyes lit up with joy."

Sometimes life is just really interesting. I had not heard from Wolfshead for a few years and just sent the recent message to him on a whim. Two weeks later, he is gone.

Patrick said that Wolfshead requested that his services be delayed for a month or so in order to give his long-distance friends the opportunity to attend. I will post an update when I receive additional information.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Oh Yeah - About My Most Recent Trip to Las Vegas ... - Part I

With finalizing the sale of my mom's house and with work keeping me plenty busy, I had yet to write anything about my second trip to Las Vegas in July. Now is as good a time as any. 

Poker Highlights
Believe it or not, I'm writing actual poker content! Sadly, too much stupid and impatient play on my part turned what should have been a winning poker trip into a losing one. However, there were two hands that certainly got the juices flowing.

Hand #1 --  I was playing my usual $1/2 NL at MGM in the evening. There were a group of guys in for some type of computer convention, and they were having a fun time at the table. Aside from the fun play, there was the possibility of a nice bonus for certain high hands on a progressive pyramid payout. To get one of the bonuses, you had to have a full house of 10's full, 7's full or 5's full while holding the designated pocket pair. For those of us who are recreational players, these jackpots are sweet to shoot for.

I had been playing for several hours and had grown my initial stack from $200 to about $400. The drinks were flowing and people were having fun. I had been hot and cold in terms of getting cards, but it was still a fun night. I looked down to see that I had been dealt pocket 5's  -- or as the old time bloggers used to call that hand, Presto! I had only had one other chance at the progressive bonuses when I was dealt pocket 7's, but nothing came from them. This time, with Presto, I just had a feeling. I either limped into the pot or called a small raise. The flop was sweet: 10-3-5 rainbow! I was thinking that I didn't want to raise anyone out of the pot, but I didn't have to worry when a guy in early position made a $10 bet. This player made some terrible plays when he first came, then went on a heater and was pretty much the table captain for an hour or so. He was playing some very good poker. I called along with another player or two. At that point, I was silently praying for the board to pair. Then the turn came -- a 10! Shazam -- bonus money! The guy in early position put out a bet of $75. I didn't want to hollywood too much, but I acted like I had a tough decision. Apparently reluctantly, I called the raise. I don't remember the river as I was excited and doing my best to remain looking calm. The original raiser put out a raise of $125. I took my time in making a move, and then finally said "all in" and pushed my remaining chips into the middle. The villain had me covered by a bit and had to decide whether or not to commit about another $200 to the pot. He went into the tank and took quite a bit of time before saying "I call." I flipped over my pocket 5's and said "jackpot hand!" He them flipped over his -- K-10! I got a huge pile of chips and also collected a $599 bonus for hitting a jackpot hand. My stack looked pretty sweet.
Not bad for a $200 buy-in!

I was told that I could pocket the bonus chips if I wanted, but I told the table that they were there for the taking. Play continued for a time afterward, but then several players left and were replaced by a whole new group from another table. It was already past 4:00 a.m. and it seemed like a good time to call it a night, so I took a restroom break and was walking back to the table with a smile on my face. I spotted an attractive hooker and guess I looked a tad too long. She smiled at me and ... ahhh, you know me. I headed back to the table, cashed out and headed back to Excalibur via the Tropicana. Not a bad evening at all!

Hand #2  --  I headed to the north end of The Strip to fling a few cards with Tony Bigcharles at the Wynn/Encore poker room. A new $1/3 table started up and we were seated. At the opposite end of the table, a maniac decided to raise every hand. He collected some chips but lost most of them to another player at the table. Everyone was playing very cautiously, waiting for the chance to hit a big hand and decimate the maniac's stack. He left the table for some time when I looked down to see Pocket Rockets. Dang -- where was the maniac when I needed him? Then the pre-flop fun began. Raise. Three bet. Four bet. All in. All in. All in. Both players had me covered. One player was to my left and was a totally solid player. The other guy in the hand was playing live for the first time and had made some questionable plays. Since I was not able to isolate, I was a tad nervous as the dealer dealt out the hand. The highest card dealt was a Jack. We turned over our cards. The solid player had K-K and the other had Q-Q. My aces had held and I scooped a nice pot, tripling up This was the first time I had ever been involved in a A-A vs K-K vs Q-Q hand.

I am rarely accused of writing long-winded posts that resemble the writings of another blogger, so I think I'll stop Part I here. However, I see that several bloggers have written posts in the past few days. Check out the new posts by my friends Rob, Lucki Duck, TBC, PPP and Ace.

Coming in Part II (and maybe a Part III): Reuniting with Koala, Las Vegas friends and The Return of the Man-hating Woman!

Thanks for reading!