Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Las Vegas Trip Report - April 15-19, 2021: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I have now been back home for one day after my trip to Las Vegas. My February Las Vegas trip was not really a gambling extravaganza but more of a mini-vacation with my wife, who needed to go to a conference for work. So really, this was my first real gambling trip to Las Vegas since last September. As always, there are some real highlights and some unfortunate lowlights. I'll use a theme I believe I have used before, paying homage to that great spaghetti western: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

As always, hanging out with friends in Las Vegas is the best. Being able to play poker and sit at the same table with them is even better, even when plexiglass makes communication difficult. I originally picked the days of my trip some time ago to coincide with the vacation that my central Illinois friend, Nick, was taking. Nick and I played $1/2 and $1/3 NL poker together at Flamingo, Wynn, Bally's, and Planet Hollywood. Nick also had a ton of comps he was trying to burn through, so that meant that many of our meals were comped. Free food always tastes better, so thanks, Nick! Nick plays a much different kind of poker than I play, and it garnered him good results some of the sessions. Because he has a very aggressive style, he is also able to frustrate and irritate some players, which is always fun to watch. He irritated the hell out of me when I flopped a set of 3s on a very wet board. It turned out that he had both straight and flush draws and called my big flop and turn raises. He binked the flush on the river. I believe I uttered an epithet or two ...
lightning36 & Nick outside the Mirage pool area

I also got to play a session of $1/2 NL poker with Chris Abramski at Flamingo and with grrouchie at Planet Hollywood. Nick was also part of those sessions. I don't recall Chris and I playing too many hands against each other, and unfortunately, grrouchie felted me when I was short stacked at Planet Hollywood when I flopped bottom two pair. I should have taken the hint when he reraised me after the flop. Either he had an overpair to the board or had a set or top two pair. I should have gone with my gut and folded, but I didn't. I went to my favorite Kitty Glitter slot machine to lick my wounds.

I was concerned about Uber/Lyft service on my trips to and from McCarran. I was shocked that I was able to get my quickest Uber ever to get from the airport to the Mirage. Speaking of the Mirage, I was able to use the MGM app to check into my room and get my key just after 11am. One hour from plane touching down to being in my Strip hotel room -- excellent! I had no problems with my room at the Mirage.
My room at the Mirage

Using Nick's Caesars comps and my Caesars and MGM comps, I was able to get free meals at Margaritaville, Johnny Rockets, Guy Fieri's Vegas Kitchen, the Paradise Cafe (at the Mirage), Gordon Ramsay Burger and Buca di Beppo. Not bad! Next trip I'll perhaps plan on eating at a steak house I haven't tried. Blame Pete Peters for a growing addiction to steakhouses! Drinkwise, I began with White Russians but changed over to Margaritas for the rest of the trip. Only one Corona and no Bloody Marys. I almost feel like I cheated on my besties! 

The Farmhouse Burger with added toppings
The breakfast "buffet" at Buca di Beppo

I had a good $1/3 NL poker session on my one trip to the Wynn/Encore poker room as did Nick. I was also able to say hi to one of the regulars - my old poker friend Arch, who I believe has known Tony Bigcharles longer than anyone I know. I also had a killer $1/2 session at Planet Hollywood. About an orbit or two after coming to the table, I won a big hand with set over set. Everyone at the table knew what was happening as both my opponent and I kept raising after the flop and couldn't wait to get all our chips in. I had middle set and was relieved to see that he had bottom set. The opponent was understandably upset and seemed to want to reclaim his chips a few hands later. I raised to $12 from middle position with A-Qsooted. He and a LAG player at the table called. The flop was J-rag-10 rainbow. The opponent made a small raise to $12. After the set over set and a few other good hands, I felt like my mojo was working and called the $12 with my gutter. The LAG player also called. The turn was a beautiful King. The opponent made another small raise and I bumped it up to $100. The LAG player folded and the opponent went into the tank for several minutes. He called. I don't remember the river, but I pushed in the rest of my chips. He folded in anger. Clearly on tilt, a hand or two later he shoved his now short stack all in and was called by the LAG. The LAG won the hand. I heard from another player that the opponent pushed all in with ... 3-2os!

Although I was down early and ended with only a small profit, my late Saturday night session at Planet Hollywood and some great moments. I was dealt A-A and shoved all in after the flop and was called by 10-10, which did not improve. In a big hand, I was dealt pocket 9s and saw a flop of 9-3-3 with only one other player in the pot. I checked and she raised, so I smooth called. The turn was an 8. I raised, and she reraised me. I called. On the river, I raised $200. She called. She tabled pocket 8s for a really disappointing hand for her.

I also had an interesting winning session late Sunday night at Planet Hollywood. A guy at the table appeared to be angry/drunk and was enjoying making huge raises and driving people out of pots. chipped up some and then had an interesting hand. The problem player did a button straddle for $10. I looked down to see Ac-10c. I decided to put my plan into action. I merely called the $10 bet. there might have been another caller. When it got back to the button, he did exactly what expected: He raised to $50. I then pushed by entire stack in - about $250. He had me covered and maybe an extra $200-300. He thought for a bit and then folded. I had no idea if he would call. I figured I was ahead and was willing to take my chance against a random hand to double up. I figured if he was gonna have some crappy hand and bink a lucky card on me, it was gonna be for an extra $200. Readers - what do you think? Would you have done the same thing?

I flew on Southwest Airlines from Phoenix. The flight is only about an hour long with just over 40 minutes of actual time in the air. I messed up checking into both my outgoing and returning flights. I missed the beginning of the check in period by one minute on the outgoing flight and ended up with a C6. I got an aisle seat in the back of the plane and then saw that I chose a seat next to a woman holding a baby! Fortunately, the child did not cry until we landed. For the return flight, I missed the check in time by an hour but still managed to get B41. Again, an aisle seat in the back of the plane. However, I slept most of both flights, which was pretty sweet. And Southwest was ... Southwest, which is fine!

As good as Uber was coming in, Uber and Lyft were bad when I was leaving. I tried at least four times each to get a ride, but there was never a driver in the area nor one that accepted the ride. I finally went to the Bally's cab stand and just took a cab and was there quickly. It cost more, but at least I got there.

Of course, it is good that Las Vegas appears to be coming back, but the Strip sidewalks were full of people walking slowly. And hey - the porn slappers were back Saturday and Sunday nights. The smell of weed along the Strip is overpowering. 

Some of the poker rooms still have limited hours and are not always open when you might like. This was especially the case on Monday when the room options were more limited. This will hopefully change sometime next month when some COVID-19 restrictions are scheduled to be eliminated in Nevada.

I was able to use the MGM app and get into my room at the Mirage very early. At Bally's, where I spent one night, it would have cost an extra $15 to get into my room before 4:00pm. Seeing as how the stupid resort fee there is now over $40, I refuse, as a matter of principle, to give them anything more. I ended up finally getting into my room around 2:00am.

These three poker hands -- and the last one in particular -- are the kind of poker hands that rip your heart out.

The first happened Thursday night at Flamingo. The session was actually fun at the beginning. A talkative guy sat down, saying that he was originally from Columbia and now lives in San Francisco and that this was his first time in Las Vegas. We found out he had actually been here one time before, but apparently, he didn't get to play poker. He was wild and played about 75-80% of the hands, most times limping in if he could or calling small raises. In one hand, I flopped a gutshot. He minimally raised on the flop, so I called. I hit my gutter on the turn! He then bet $40 after the turn. There was a flush draw on the table, so I raised to $100. He had been calling most raises and in many cases, sucking out on others. He went in the tank for a minute or so, then folded. Rats. Unfortunately, I went card dead and had no other chances to grab his stack. He eventually got booted for dropping too many F-bombs. Nobody playing at the table wanted this loose luck sack to leave. He sucked out so many times and ended cashing out around a grand when asked to leave by the room supervisor. Chris Abramski was waiting to join me at the table and replaced him, so Chris never had a chance for some donk money. Nick later joined us when he got into town. But the play that tilted me was when I had  A-3 in one of the blinds and saw a flop of  3-3-A! I checked the flop and hoped that someone had an Ace and would bet it. It checked around. The turn was a ten and a put out a raise. A player to my left raised to double my bet. I called. The river was a rag. I bet again and he pushed all in. I insta-called, ready to scoop in a nice pot. Unfortunately, the other player had 10-10, so he beat me with a bigger full house. I was felted, was upset, and went to play slots to cool down.

My many Saturday night cash game hours at Planet Hollywood earned me a free ticket into a PH $100 daily tournament, which I entered at 4pm on Sunday. There were only 17 entrants. At the end of six levels, we were down to seven players. We had a scheduled break and moved to the final table during the break. A guy was able to late register at the last minute, going immediately to the final table. He ended up being the first one out! Another player busted, leaving six of us. only one player appeared to have significantly more than the rest of us, and I was perhaps the shortest stack. I stayed in pushing a couple of times, but was not called. Then, the crucial play: I was dealt Ad-9d, certainly a hand to push with. A guy who seemed to be the biggest luck sack in the world in the cash games the night before pondered his decision, then said "call." The flop brought two diamonds, so I had a nut flush draw with no Ace and no 9 on the flop. He turned over his cards and had A-2! I was shocked to see that he called with that hand, knowing that he would be behind any Ace. He had me covered by a little. The turn was a blank, and the river ... a 2! Boom - I was out and very unhappy to leave via a three outer on the river. 
Readers - don't you think that the guy CALLING with A-2 was a terrible call? I had 8 big blinds left and he had a couple more. An offer to chop was likely coming soon, and the double up would have put me in decent shape with about as many chips and most players. I was pretty frustrated.

My poker time ended in about the worst fashion imaginable. On Monday afternoon, I hoped to get on a table at Bally's. There were two $1/3 NL tables going and I was first on the list ... until a friggin' Caesars Diamond player signed up, knocking me out of the top spot.  I hate this rule at the Caesars poker rooms. Anyway, one table had a lot of chips and likely was an action table. The other table had small to medium stacks and seemed tight. The guy who jumped ahead of me got on the tight table. He immediately requested a table change. I had to now wait longer until two people decided to leave. The guy who jumped ahead of me transferred to the action table and I went to the tight table. Suddenly, everyone starts leaving the night table, leaving only thereof us. Meanwhile the action table (and the seat I could have had) was full at eight. I cashed out to go to Caesars in final session. As I walked away, I saw that a player at the action table decided to leave, but one of the other two remaining from my table jumped in. Nice. I hoofed it toward Caesars.

At Caesars, I wasn't getting any cards and appeared to be nitting it up. I then won some pots, especially against one player who kept having second-best hand to mine. I was ready to leave with a respectable profit for the short time there since I had to walk to Bally's, pick up my bags, and catch a ride to the airport. I decided to play one last hand. I looked down to see A-A! I put out an opening raise of $12 and was called by the player to my left, who had been doing quite well. When action was on the guy I kept beating, he raised to $45. When action came back to me, I raised to $140. The player went in the tank and said "You must have Aces or Kings." You think? He then called me. The flop was Jack high and I was hoping that he didn't hit a set of Jacks. We both pushed all in and turned over our cards. He had Q-Q! All I had to do was fade two cards and I would finish with a nice $500+ pot right before I headed home. The turn was a blank and the river was ... a Queen! A loud profanity slipped out and the other players looked sympathetic. The dealer was waiting to see if I would disparage her, but I just jokingly said "You really need to learn to deal that river better." I said goodbye and fist bumped the guy who got the best of me. But really -- the tight player at the table makes a huge raise, you have Q-Q, you know he has Aces or Kings, yet you call and hit the two outer?

I sent out a tweet about hating poker. I lived all my life until recently in Illinois. There was always this huge Midwestern part of me that believed that if you work hard and do the right things, you will be successful. In poker, however, it seems that I have hit this long streak where I get pounded right in the butt way too often when I make the right play and a good pot is at stake. I am very frustrated and today announce that I have officially retired from poker. My wife said it would last a day. Ha! Today I begin day three. How long will it last? I dunno. I just know that I am very discouraged. 

Thanks to Nick, Chris and grrouchie for the fun we had playing. As for poker: KISS MY ASS!

Thanks for reading!


Blogger VegasDegen said...

You might make it a week, it's like trying to leave a gf/wife that spends all your $, but is great in bed.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Lester said...

AcTc shove play made sense. The other play you asked about I couldn't find scrolling through the post again but if it was an action play of course I endorse it. Quitting poker is one thing. But did you also quit dem machines???

8:50 AM  
Blogger seattleirish said...

lol - very entertaining blog, sir! Sorry about the run bad. That tide shall turn.


10:50 AM  
Blogger norm said...

Alas ------- "that is Poker!"

3:10 PM  
Blogger Mr Subliminal said...

When you retire from something, you turn your back and walk away, not write a lengthy essay on the subject at hand.

See you on the felt.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Tony Bigcharles said...

i didnt think u would be capable of playing AT suited that way. i thought only I am. rooms are way too quick to throw people out for swearing, when theyre causing no harm. was the guy named Greg? had a weird dream about him recently. and on the really serious things people do like putting their racks and waters on the floor for people to trip over instead of in the back of their chair and getting a table, they dont give a fuck about.

3:31 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

@VegasDegen - I assume your time frame is accurate. It was just taking the crucial losses both within 24 hours. It just pisses me off to see donk play win out.

@Lester - I play some slots for fun but don't play vbj. I play a little vp. I am always looking for one of dem GOOD machines. 😀

@seattleirish - Thank you. It was a great trip, but a terrible way to end both the tournament and the cash games.

@norm - Sadly, I understand. Sadly.

@Mr Subliminal - Poker and me - sorta like another version of Brokeback Mountain. 😃

@TBC - We haven't played at the same table for several years. I want a shot at the sockroll! And the guy swearing was named John. He wasn't swearing in anger. He just kept dropping F-bombs. He had been warned many times. I don't think anyone at the table minded since we all wanted a chance to stack him.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Ace said...

Props to you for writing this up after all those coolers. I have been happily retired from live poker since late 2019 :) A newborn and a pandemic will do that to you...BUT...I'll never give up golf!

8:41 PM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

@Ace - The biggest problem is that they come at the worst times. I am used to having things go well for me. In poker, even when you play well things can screw up. It's frustrating. Thank goodness I never picked up golf, which appears to be the king of frustration.

2:18 AM  
Blogger Ace said...

haha yeap, golf can be full of bad beats as well

10:34 AM  
Blogger The Poker Meister said...

Without the donks winning some of the time, there's no game to win. It's okay - think of it as paying it forward. I know that doesn't make you feel any better, but that money will stay in the poker ecosystem.

1:36 PM  

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