Friday, September 11, 2020

Las Vegas Trip Report: August 30 - September 4, 2020

With more than a little trepidation, I scheduled a weekday trip to Las Vegas at about the same time I did very year - right around Labor Day and right around the birthday of thundering36, my brother. The way the calendar worked out this year, I actually went the week before Labor Day instead of beginning the trip on Labor Day weekend. Being newly retired, I now have more flexibility in terms of when I can travel at the end of August.

I was playing poker pretty regularly until the COVID-19 crisis hit. Since then, however, I had only played online until I took a trip to the St. Louis area to play poker a few weeks ago. I felt the rustiness in St. Louis and also felt it in Las Vegas. Despite some COVID concerns, I decided to make the trip.

I had already been warned by my wife as to what I would find when I got to Chicago Midway Airport on a great Sunday morning: the ever-popular food court was closed.
Things seemed really slow for a Sunday morning, which I expected. Not knowing what food options would be available, I had stuffed away a large bag of Gardetto's and a Coke in my carry on. That was a wise choice as I always had a ready snack if I got back late from playing poker.

I am claustrophobic, so I had initially been concerned about wearing a mask for the entire flight. However, the St. Louis experience helped train me to keep on a mask for an extended period of time. I also stayed up late the night before my trip so that I would hopefully sleep most of the flight, which I did. My Southwest flight had empty middle seats and still had some availability.

Upon picking up my luggage at McCarran Airport, I took the shuttle to get my used car. Rates finally went down as my trip neared. I didn't make the reservation until the day before. I rented a full size vehicle from Thrifty. The wait was not too long and my customer service rep was fast. Apparently, Thrifty is using some cars that belong to Hertz. I was given a GMC Terrain which I liked. The only problem was that it reeked of smoke! I thought that perhaps whoever cleaned out the car was smoking when doing so, but the smell was indicative of a lot of smoking inside the vehicle. Had I known it would smell that much, I would have asked for a different vehicle. At least it was relatively cheap.

I was spending four nights at the Flamingo. Perhaps one good thing is that with all the sanitizing for COVID, I couldn't smell the familiar piped-in custom smell for Flamingo, which I do not like. That was a big plus. Most of the checking in was done via machines set up in the lobby. The process seemed relatively efficient.

My Fab room:
It was okay. The room was decently nice, but the carpeting was old and stained. One time thundering36 got us a sweet comped room/mini-suite at Flamingo, but the few other times that I have stayed there, the rooms have tended to be underwhelming.

How Safe Did I Feel?
One of my major concerns with making the trip was the level of safety I would feel. This would include airplanes, restaurants, poker rooms, inside casinos and The Strip. The answer: very safe in all places. Everywhere I went, people were wearing masks. Social distancing was not always around six feet, but I believe that people were respectful about being too close. When in the South Point buffet I forgot to put my mask back on as I went to get some more food, I was tracked down by a friendly employee who brought me a fresh mask that was in a sealed plastic container. The poker rooms had plexiglass up to separate players. After a player left, the seat, plexiglass and entire area was wiped down. The poker rooms felt especially safe to me.

How Was It Playing with plexiglass?
I was glad that I had gone to St Louis for a trial run to see how play was with plexiglass separators. Once you get used to them, they are not so bad. However, they certainly cut down the chatting and friendliness at the tables. I guess that is the price you must pay to play poker in a COVID-19 world.

Poker Horror Stories
To put it bluntly, my first evening of poker sucked. I decided to play at Venetian,  which was eight-handed $1/3 NL. One kind of scruffy looking guy was raising $20-25 many hands, only to later showdown with crappy hands that were the initial raise. I was in the small blind and made a call with a one gapper. It didn't cost much, and several people were in the hand. I had a gutshot straight, which I hit on the river, in a hand where everyone was checking. When it came to me, I threw out a bet of $10, practically begging for some callers. To my surprise, the big blind raised to $40. I was guessing the maybe he had the same hand as me or hit a lesser hand like two pair. I announced "raise," took my  initial $10 raise back, and pushed out a stack of $100 in redbirds. At that point the scruffy guy started got agitated and yelled out "you can't do that!" Huh? I clearly announced my intention to raise, took back the chips I originally raised with, and put out $100, then said "$100." Scruffy guy claimed that since I did not announce the amount of my raise before placing my chips out that I was restricted to only putting out  minimum raise. Everyone at the table was wondering where this came from, and the dealer waited a bit and then called for the floor as scruffy guy wouldn't let it go. The floor came, heard the situation from the dealer, and said the raise to $100 was okay. Scruffy guy then said that one of the room bosses had made a decision the other day that since the plexiglass was up and it appeared that some people could not hear things properly and other players were using the listening issue to angle shoot, that an unannounced re-raise could only be two times the initial raise. The floor said that he would inquire about this, taking more time. After what seemed like an eternity, the floor said to scruffy guy "You are correct. The raise can only be to $80." We had been waiting for a long time and I was certainly tired of listening to scruffy guy as well as thinking that this unannounced rule was not fair to everyone playing. I then made a big mistake, which I own. The big blind announced "all in." Instead of taking my time to re-examine the board, I insta-called. It turns out that I had missed that a bigger straight than I had was possible. The big blind tabled his hand and indeed I was beaten. I know that it is my own fault for not carefully re-examining the board, but I felt like I was so frustrated at listening to scruffy guy's unending yapping that I was pissed and just made the call. I left very unhappy.

I next went to Caesars Palace even though the game would be short handed. It was $1/2 and I bought in for $200. I was seated quickly, apparently at a table that kept losing players. One guy who had been away from the table then returned. He apparently was a regular because he seemed to know the female dealer quite well. She was announcing everything in a loud, shrill voice due to the plexiglass, and the guy started telling stories that I, and I imagine others, didn't really care to hear. He started by saying that he had connected with a young woman  on Tinder or some other dating or social media platform and was ready for a first date with her when COVID-19 put a hold on things. In the meantime, he had lost 40 pounds. He claimed that he was 6'6." Remarkably, in that same amount of time, the young woman had gained 40 pounds. Well, of course now he was not going to take her out. Huh? Was this guy really bragging about this - it was okay for him to have an extra 40 pounds, but now that this young lady put on the same amount (very common for many to put on weight due to COVID restrictions) he wouldn't take her out? And sometimes people actually wonder why poker is seen as a haven for d-bag males.

Along with hearing this shit show, I ran an overpair into a higher overpair and then two pair into a flopped set. In my mind, it was time to call it a night in poker and unwind with some slot action. Very crappy start to the trip.

Who Did I See in Las Vegas?
People who know me know that I am a social guy and always like to connect with old friends and meet new friends and online people I haven't met in person. I like to think of these meeting as some of the real highlights of my trip. I went to see ManInBlack. I stopped by his place to see how his apartment was coming along, then headed out for some lunch at The Egg and I. I had never been there before and apparently was a failure at lunch (according to RobVegasPoker) for not actually eating eggs there! It was lunchtime, however, so I opted for a buffalo chicken wrap while MIB wisely opted for the greatest looking cheeseburger. Next time I go for LUNCH, I'll give that a try. Sorry for disturbing your egg equilibrium, Rob! I have known MIB for many years and admire his tenacity to keep going when times get rough.

I headed to the Sahara poker room Thursday evening for some mixed poker games. Luke Johnston was sending out invitations and got Chris Abramski and Shady Steve to show. It was good to see Luke, whom I've met a few times, Chris, who I have known for several years, and Steve, who I had messaged with many times but never met in person. I was disappointed that Steve did not bring his attractive girlfriend for fear that I might steal her away.

Unfortunately, the mixed games were not mostly of the HORSE variety, but other games which I do not really know. As I told them, they might win my money, but I am not just giving it way playing games I know little about. Unfortunately, I didn't get much time to talk with Luke or Steve before Chris and I heading to another table to play some $1/2 NL. I didn't particularly like the other people at the table and it was my last night in Las Vegas, so I left after a short time to go bonus hunting at Venetian.

Opinion of Poker Rooms for This Trip
Caesars - I have never felt comfortable playing at Caesars. It is the only room where I have been warned due to getting into it with someone. And with what I mentioned earlier, I did not have a good experience again. However, the desk people were very friendly to me as I waited to be seated, so props to them.

I only played one session at Orleans. It is another room where I feel slightly uncomfortable, maybe because it is such a locals place. Nothing negative happened there, so maybe it is more me.

I spent a lot of time at the V because of the high hand promotion that started at the beginning of September. I wasn't able to snag one there, however. I took an overall loss there. I find that the players there tend to have an edge to themselves there, but I also recognize that the level of play there is, in my opinion, above average.

Red Rock
Played one evening session there. It's nice just to take the drive out there sometimes. Play at my table was wild. One guy should have been felted early on when he ran his KK into AA. He was saved by a King on the flop or turn. He then went on an unreal heater and cashed out a short time later with around $1,300. Nice ROI!

South Point
I was pleasantly surprised at South Point. I had only played there once before since I recently have not rented a car. I found the daytime regulars to be pretty tight and good players. Play was a little looser in the evenings. I found the players to be friendly and mostly polite.

I tried the the morning tournament there and had some aggro people at my table. I got bounced out of the tourney with AA when two aggro guys called my preflop all in and I had a terrible runout. I lost to a crappy hand like J-9os. Meh.

Food and Miscellaneous
Some restaurants were closed or had abridged hours. I pretty much took the low road this trip when eating. I did, however, enjoy the buffet at South Point twice. They did an excellent job with serving the food.
I am surprised that more places haven't opened theirs. And I had a graveyard special at the Coronado Cafe inside South Point one night.
Overall Trip Evaluation
I did have some excellent sessions during the trip, but not enough to overcome some errors I made along the way. I really felt like I was at a disadvantage from only playing b&m poker for two days in the past 7+ months before the trip. Poker friend Bill Tait told me that I am too hard on myself, but I worked for years doing a job where part of it required an anal attention to detail. I am used to having everything be 100%. I struggle inside when I do stupid stuff in poker. I'm getting better at letting things go.

I am glad that I took this trip and got away from my house for several days. It is amazing how for some of us our homes have almost become prisons due to COVID-19. Even so, I considered canceling the trip the morning of, which I have only done before due to medical reasons. I'm glad I decided not to wuss out. I am looking forward to another trip to Las Vegas in the next few months. It may or may not happen depending on if and when my house sells. Once that happens, Phoenix and "The Stick" will be source of my poker successes and frustrations for at least a year.

Note: I did not see any of the fighting or terrible behavior that has recently been posted on Twitter. The weekdays I was there were just typical Las Vegas days -- except for the number of healthy looking younger people who were tearing around the Las Vegas Strip in scooters! And I did get tested for COVID four days after I got home from my trip. The results were negative.

Thanks for reading!


Blogger sevencard2003 said...

normally u wont find loose games in the red rock. and u shouldve told that guy that he was out of line to expect the woman to have not gained weight locked in her house without an open gym. it was wrong of u not to join in Horse because u didnt know some of the games, u could learn with friends. and thats a horrible floor ruling. the guy was definitely angle shooting, had he the nuts he wouldve snap allowed your reraise.

5:04 PM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

@TBC: 1) I have not been to Red Rock enough to know. The first times I went I recall them being pretty nitty. 2) I thought that even though the guy was a jerk, it was not my job to inform him. People are free to do and say pretty much want they want. Who am I to tell him how to act? 3) They didn't play HORSE, they played other games that I did not know. In fact, I hardly knew any of the games they played that night. No sense losing money in games I don't understand. Next time stake me and I'll be happy to lose your money as I learn. 4) I agree that the floor ruling was horrible. He wasn't angle shooting as he was already out of the hand. Looking back objectively, I can see him wanting clarification. Unfortunately, it took a lot of time and just pissed me off since he wasn't even in the hand at that time. And he wouldn't shut up. And I tend to believe that if he was in the hand and had the nuts that he wouldn't have said a word.

6:04 PM  
Blogger unabletodeleteblogprofile said...

Loved this. Especially your take on the rooms.

12:02 PM  
Blogger pokerwayne said...

Rumors are that Wildhorse will be starting poker back up soon. Just another option for you. We are still trending right direction for Covid. But never know about next week or month.
Weather has finally turned after a brutal summer, 50+ days over 110. You will enjoy Az winters.

4:41 PM  
Blogger AyeCarambaPoker said...

Nice TR - if there’s 2 things that go hand in hand it’s poker and d-bags. Have you heard the latest story doing the rounds? It’s a player at Stones in Sacramento who constantly retrieves cards from the muck then threatened another player to “meet him outside” as he’d had the temerity to complain about his actions!

How were the bars or bar areas of restaurants? Social distancing must put paid to the whole idea of sitting at a bar for a few hours - especially by oneself as more seats must be kept free and bars must hate solo travellers right now. My utter nightmare!

I’ve just booked my next trip to Vegas too - for Super Bowl weekend next year! No idea if the travel restrictions will have been lifted by then but always good to have something to look forward to. Will have been 50 weeks since my last visit if I actually get to travel but I’d only rate my chances at under 50%

7:46 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home