Sunday, February 17, 2019

Las Vegas Trip Report: Up and Down Like an Elevator - February 2019

I began my Las Vegas trip a week ago - Sunday, February 10. It was a rare Sunday work day, as I was sitting at a table at an open house for a special program. The plan was to work noon-3m, head home, say goodbye to my wife, and then head up to Midway Airport in Chicago, a 2.5 hour drive, and then catch an evening flight to Las Vegas. However, a snow fell that morning, so I thought my best plan was to just take my packed suitcase with me to work. The road conditions for the first 75 miles were supposed to be bad, so I left the open house at 2:15 to head north.

I just got outside of town on the interstate when traffic slowed down and then came to a complete halt. Fortunately, rescue teams were able to get a car involved in an accident off the road, so my careful trip continued. I reached the airport almost two hours before my flight, so things worked out pretty well. My flight was only a little delayed in leaving.

A chimed in on a funny situation on the flight. A young guy with an aisle seat was asked by an elderly woman if he could put her suitcase in the storage bin. A second person did also. Then a flight attendant asked him to do something. His girlfriend and their friend were laughing about it all, so naturally I figured it was my time to butt in. I tapped the guy on the shoulder and said "Excuse me, but my back itches in a place I can't reach. Could you scratch it for me?" The row went crazy. Good start to the trip!

Getting in at Harrah's about 11:00pm, there were only a few people in the check in line. I was asked if I wanted to forgo room cleaning for a $10 food credit. I asked "Is this like it was before - $10/night? The answer was no - only $10 for the entire time of five nights. I chose to decline the "generous" offer.

I grabbed a quick meal and headed across the street to the Mirage. It was nice to see Kristi/AlaskaGal, who was working that night. I lost some money on draws that wouldn't get there, but the big hand I lost money on was when a guy flopped a straight flush. Ouch. I then climbed back in the positive and felt good. Unfortunately, a new guy came to the table and just wouldn't shut up. Worse yet, he would first talk before acting on his hand and really slowed the game down,. He was betting big, often with crappy hands. I took my shot at a huge pot and missed, starting off the trip down a buy in. It was time to head back to the hotel and sleep.

After a night's sleep and some relaxing Monday morning, I was ready for a long day of poker. First stop: my former "home" for poker - Bally's. Years ago this place used to be my cash cow. That afternoon, I was at a table that seemed local/semi-pro infested. I changed tables and got another similar to the first. I was already down a bit and didn't feel good about the game, so I cashed out and headed up to MGM, one of my favorite rooms. MGM didn't disappoint, as I recouped most of my losses from the first two sessions. I then decided to close the night at another favorite room, Planet Hollywood. I was down some and then had a chance to get involved in a big pot where I had a big flush draw. I decided to jam the rest of my money in and hit the flush on the river. Ding! I went home for the night back in the black.

Tuesday late morning I decided to eat in arguably the best buffet in town, Caesar's Bacchanal Buffet. I heard that Tuesday through Thursday were the least crowded days, and I was able to be seated immediately. The food was just as great as when my brother, thundering36, and I went a few years ago. A few food porn shots:
Sweet & sour chicken, seaweed salad, cheese and prime rib
Meatball, egg with salmon paste and caviar, shrimp, Asian beef dish
Caesar salad, salt and pepper shrimp, tuna poke, seafood chowder and pizza
Freshly made crepe with chocolate sauce, whipped cream, mixed berries and mango

After indulging, I decided to, guess what - play poker! I bought into the Caesars game and was disappointed when everyone was nitting it up. In the first 45 minutes, I got KK, KK, AA and AK and was only able to get action on one of the hands. Unfortunately, once the game loosened up, I was getting no cards. I had a few second-best hands, then finally decided, down half a buy in, to head back to Mirage for the evening.

Kristi was working again, and I looked up on the wait list to see the name Luke. I knew that Luke Johnston appeared to be working on attaining hours for a promotion, so I was guessing that was the Luke I know. Sure enough, he came in and shortly thereafter was seated at my table. Kristi was dealing , I was in seat four and Luke was in seat seven. I sent out the Bat Signal on Twitter, but no one else was able to come. Early on I was dealt pocket Kings, and raised Luke and another player out of an Ace-high (of course) flop. Later we joked about whether or not he thought that I was just dicking around with him by doing that. I had a successful session and amazingly, won back the exact amount that I had lost at Caesars that afternoon!

After we cashed out, Luke and I had a great discussion including politics (if only Chris Abramski could have joined us!), poker, poker players, dealing poker. Some readers might have had their ears ringing that night, but I'm not disclosing what we shared! Anyway, props to Luke, who I had been wanting to meet. I hope we get to play again in the future.

I wasn't ready to call it a night, so I decided to get into the late night Harrah's game. The cards came my way, and I immediately started taking down pots. A few hands in, I flopped four to a Royal (Ah Kh Qh Jh). I had not gotten a Royal for quite some time and just had that feeling. The turn ....... 9h! I has happy to pull down a nice pot as an opponent also got a flush, but lower. I doubled my money in less than two hours and decided to call it a night. The up and down pattern continued.

Wednesday morning was another leisurely morning after staying out most of the night to play poker. Not knowing where to go for lunch, I stopped at an old favorite, In-N-Out Burger for my usual order: Double-Double Animal Style fries and a chocolate shake. Although, in my opinion, the fries there are generally tasteless and below par, mine were actually good this time. Seeing as how I was eating at The LINQ, I decided to play at a room I don't particularly like and rarely do well in: Flamingo.

I nervously sat down and prepared to get violated. Surprisingly enough, I was gifted a double up plus in the first ten minutes when an older gentleman at the table neglected to see that there was a bigger full house possible on the board. I tweeted and asked if I should cash out then. Unfortunately, MrBen and Mr. GF09 both advised me to leave or play blackjack (RobVegasPoker suggested that I martingale!), but their sage advice came way too late. I saw one player donk off $300 calling an all in with top pair top kicker against a set, so when he was a relative shorty and he went all in, I called him with top top. Unfortunately, he had a set! I then had second best hands a few times and decided to cash out with a meager profit. If only Mr Ben and Mr. GF09 had gotten to me in time ...

Next stop: Bally's. Once again, I did not appear to be at a table with recreational players. And once again, in the first several hands, I flopped four to a Royal. I didn't even get my flush or straight this time. However, about 20 minutes later, another player at the table got (flopped?) a Royal. I was frustrated and took a small loss and decided to head back to MGM since the new pyramid bonus numbers would be up after being depleted over the past week.

At MGM, I wasn't getting any cards. I went down a bit, then crawled out with the help of a $100 pyramid bonus for a nines full of deuces full house. Then the bottom fell out. I had been mostly card dead, then get rivered time after time. Frustrated and down a buy in, I cashed out, ate and headed to Planet Hollywood.

I was holding my own there until another table broke up and some new players came in. Play suddenly got kind of wild, and one young woman in particular was raising big almost every hand. At one point, she took a horrendous beat when another player pushed all in with A-Q against her Q-Q. She flopped a set of Queens, but her opponent went runner runner A A for a bigger full house. She wouldn't give up her cards for some time, staring in disbelief, figuring that somehow she could not have lost. She appeared to be on tilt, still raising big - maybe bigger. I was dealt A-Q sooted and decided that this would be my slot machine hand. She raised big once again, and I monkey shoved my stack into the middle, figuring that she would fold. Much to my surprise, she called, and I guessed we were flipping, and I could live with that. The board ran out dry and I announced "I have A high." when she asked "How high is your kicker?" I thought I had her. I flipped over my A-Q and she flipped over A-K. Dammit!I sure pegged her wrong. It looks like she just was on a torrid streak of catching cards. It was time to call it a night.

I slept/lazed around all Thursday morning, unaware of how much rain had fallen. I knew there were flash flood warnings, which I saw as I waited to take the monorail to Westgate for Trooper Thursday.

I got to Westgate with a little time to spare, although I did not have time to eat anything. I played at Trooper Thursday twice before, and both times we had mini sub sandwiches and cookies, I recall. I was hoping some food would show up.

I was at Trooper's table in seat six. A local poker pro nicknamed Feather was next to me in seat seven, and Trooper was in seat eight. A bass player from a metal band from Denmark was in seat one, so the mix looked a bit eclectic. The first hand at the 2pm start was a bomb pot, and I flopped the second nut flush draw. I believe there was $80 in the pot (maybe $70), and I called a bet with my draw. Whiff. A bigger bet was now made after the turn, but with all the money in the pot I had to call. Whiff. I was down $100 on the first hand. Not a good start.

Things turned around after I won the next bomb pot when I flopped a flush and called an all in from a player with pocket Aces. Oh well ...

I made it into the Trooper's vlog, so that was kind of fun.
Thank goodness some pizza came at around 5 :00 or 6:00 since I was starving, having not yet eaten that day. I did have some of Trooper's coffee, and I thought it was really good.

I was fortunate to win two more bomb pots, which allowed me some flexibility to play. And by the way, the guy in seat seven (Feather, who was a really nice guy), went on for some time about the hand he lost to the bass player KK vs AA, which is kind of the basis of the vlog and vlog title.

I played for about six hours, making a very good profit. In the three times I have played at Troooper Thursday, my winnings are in the low four figures. I'll take that! I decided to head back to the Strip. But before I got on the monorail to head back south ...
TheTrooper97 and yours truly

I hopped on the monorail and headed back to Mirage. I tweeted that I was there and found that Chris Abramski was on his way. Chris was seated next to me, so we were able to have a fun night chatting about life, politics, poker and people. Chris won some big hand early while I lost several and made a huge error that cost me $100. I had donked off about $400 when I decided to play ultra tight, pick my spots, and shove when necessary. I was able to work my stack back up while Chris's went down. The big hand for me was when I flopped a set of 4's. I boated up on the turn and both players hit a flush on the river.  Fortunately for Chris, he won some big hands before we left. After being stuck about $412, I settled for a $19 loss. I can certainly live with that!

It was off to bed with my last partial day in Las Vegas coming up. I was running a small profit but wanted to get  in one more session before heading out of town. I headed to the Mirage after checking out of Harrah's to get some lunch at the Carnegie Deli, a freebie thanks to Mirage poker comps. 
Half of a Carnegie Deli Sandwich

I got in a game at Mirage and got raises snapped off a couple of times. My draws didn't hit and as a grand finale, I shoved my remaining chips in after the turn with a pair and a flush draw. I was surprised to get called, except I did from the only person or two among the rock garden who would. I was happy to see the flush on the river, which I expected would put me back in good shape. Unfortunately, my opponent's flush was a bit bigger. I headed back to Harrah's to grab my suitcase and bag and headed to the airport via Uber. The trip was officially over.

After all the poker I played, my report is pretty simple: with all the ups and downs, I essentially broke even on poker, making a slim profit. However, I did have a great time, got to play lots of poker, played some hours with friends and got away from work, the cold and regular life for the work week and was going home just in time for the weekend. As always, I am thankful for the many blessings I have been given in this life. Now, it is back to reality!

Thanks for reading. 


Anonymous Mrs. L said...

Nice report. I head out this Saturday. For me it’s all about mixed games, so I’ll be badugi hunting for 5 days.

6:45 AM  
Blogger mrben09 said...

Nice report. I'll try and stay in your time zone for your next trip ! Did you get into it with seat 4 at Troopers game ? Guy will call anything if he thinks he has a hand, but he just gets there enough times to put you off.

9:43 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

@Mrs.L -- Good luck! You might have difficulty finding much more than $1/2 or $1/3 NL games. You should probably be looking at Orleans, Venetian or Wynn for the best selections.

@Mr Ben -- I won a little money off seat 4 (Otto?). He was a late entry to the table. Came with a huge stack of chips.

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Mrs. L said...

Surprisingly, Aria has been having a 4/8 limit mix going quite a bit lately.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

Interesting report. Thx for all the pics.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Sandi Joy said...

Good post

4:43 PM  

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