Sunday, July 18, 2021

Las Vegas Trip Conclusion -- July 11-15, 2021: Did I Misplay JJ As Badly as Possible?

Since Tuesday night was a late night for me, I had no plans to wake up early on Wednesday, my last full day in Las Vegas. I was guessing that being out late several nights was taking a toll on me. I was just really bushed. I waited until the afternoon to head to Ellis Island. I had seen notice of its prime rib special and decided that would be my meal for the day. It was pretty spectacular. And no ... this was not the "old" steak special. That still exists. This one was $18.99.

I was not able to finish my potato and my green beans, and there was a significant amount of fat to trim, but the prime rib certainly was delicious.

I went back to my room to relax, maybe even sleep. I seemed abnormally tired this trip. After a couple of hours, I decided to play some $1/3 at Bally's while waiting for Tony Bigcharles to wake up. I had decided that I would try out the new Resorts International poker room. I had only played a few orbits when Tony called. I had added $100 to my opening stack when I outflopped Aces, so I decided to just take the small profit and run. I picked up Tony (u see, the hotel location must remain SECRET, of course) and headed to Resorts World. I was quickly seated, and Tony followed shortly thereafter. He did notice that Mrs. Lederer was right behind us playing Omaha.

The play that got my shorts in a knot began when I looked down to see JJ. Although some people hate to play JJ, I don't mind it. I was relatively new to the table and had no idea how any of the other players played. I had about $350 in front of me. About six other players at the had me covered and were more around $600-700. TBC had less than $100. Someone raised to $40 and there was at least one caller - maybe two. I considered monkey shoving, but most people were raising with less pre-flop -- as low as $7 and as high as $25. I decided to call and evaluate after the flop. Tony, short-stacker that he is, surprisingly called the $40. The cards on the flop were all below 10 with two clubs. Everyone checked ahead of me and I pushed out a stack of $100. Tony, who had a lesser amount (maybe $35-50?), called. Everyone else folded. I turned over my pocket Jacks and Tony turned over QcJc. The turn was a blank. And the river? What else: a club! I was pissed. As I looked over at Tony, he started jabbering about the hand (those who have played with him before know what I am talking about). Of course, when you get sucked out on, the last thing you want is to hear the person that did it talking about the hand. I said, "Shut up Tony," but he kept jabbering on. I then very loudly said, "Shut up, Tony," and the people at the table were all looking at me. The guy on my left had played with him before and understood why I was upset. It was bad enough losing the hand, but then I had to hear his suck-out jabbering. I then announced that a ride from me would cost $60, then $80. He left the table shortly after to play Omaha as I muttered "friggin' short-stacking #$@#@#." A short time later he texted me "And I've never seen anyone misplay JJ so awful (sic)."

Now, a few things. I will admit to having what is sometimes referred to as an "Irish temper." It's just part of me. However, in 2021, I have been sucked out on so many times that I just exploded. My odds calculator tells me that I was a 62% favorite over his hand preflop and a 54% favorite after the flop. Later on, I asked Tony why he was even in the hand for $40 when he was short stacked with Q-J sooted. He said that he was getting about 5-1 odds, so he did it despite it leaving him with about $35-50 after the flop. Frankly, I though it was a moronic play for him to be in the hand with a short stack. Mine was around $350 and most other players had me covered.

So ... please comment on the hand. Was Tony right -- that I really played my JJ hand terribly? Buts as a short-stacker, should he even have been in the hand with his hole cards?

Now, what didn't help the situation any was that I was starting to feel bad. Aside from some fatigue, I had begun to suffer from some severe gastro-intestinal issues. You don't want to hear details.

An orbit or two later, I got AA in early position and raised to $15. I got called by several people. The flop was 7-7-K. One guy stayed in the hand with me. I was putting him on K-something. I was wrong. He called with some crap hand of 7-rag. Boom - I was felted and pissed. I left the table to find a restroom and then play some slots.

I hung around for several hours. I did give Tony a ride. We went through a fast food drive through and then I dropped him off at his hotel. I went back to Bally's in some pretty horrible abdominal pain. Let's leave it at that.

Thursday morning I woke up around 8:30. I didn't know if I could make the drive home. It takes about 4 1/2 hours, and there are long stretches with no off-highway services. I considered staying an extra day and just staying in bed, but after sleeping a couple more hours, I felt a little better and decided to just head home.

About halfway between the Hoover Dam and Phoenix is a little stop called Wikieup. I had seen that a restaurant there advertised Chicago-style food -- Dazzo's Desert Oasis Chicago Eatery & RV Park --, so of course, I had to stop in ... wearing a Chicago Blackhawks t-shirt and a Chicago White Sox cap! I ordered a great special: a fully-dressed Chicago hot dog, fries, and a Bud Light.

The Chicago hot dog was spot-on with everything EXACTLY like you would get in a superior Chicago-area hot dog joint. Next time I'll try an Italian beef sandwich.

I ran into some heavy rain in the final two hours back home. Nothing I hadn't seen a million times before in Illinois. Nothing else was notable.

How would I evaluate my trip? Meeting new friends and seeing some old ones was excellent! I was not able to see/meet a few friends I wanted to see/meet, but sometimes that just happens when in Las Vegas.

As for the poker and gambling? I am sorry to say that this trip will not be put in the winning column. I did not play as much poker as I planned, but there are always other trips to be made in the future, plus there are three great poker rooms within a 25-50 minute drive from my house whenever I feel the urge.

A final thanks to Dan Kuester for assisting me with getting my room at Bally's. Also, thanks to both the new and old friends I saw this trip. The poker might not have been great, but the company was awesome!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Las Vegas Trip Report So Far -- July 11-14, 2021

Planet Hollywood  Poker Room Event
This current trip to Las Vegas has been pretty good so far. Of course (u see), almost any trip to Las Vegas should be good. But how did this one start?

I was saddened to hear that the Planet Hollywood poker room would be closing. I had spent many fun nights playing there. As luck would have it, a distribution of the extra rake jackpot money was to be held last Sunday, the first day of my trip. So ... the drive to Las Vegas began with waking up at 4:00am on Sunday, loading up some drinks and beginning the drive from Phoenix to Las Vegas. The best part of the trip is, in my opinion, the area of Arizona just south of the Nevada border. The scenery is absolutely stunning, especially to a guy who lived in Illinois his whole life until last December.

I got to PH early - just in case. As advertised, they began the process at 11:00am. They stated they would not recognize any line that might have formed prior to 11:00. By 11, the poker room was teeming with people. It almost seemed like PH didn't realize there would be such a big crowd. The man giving instructions throughout the process wasn't using an amplification system -- definitely a mistake. We were led up the nearby escalator to the mezzanine level. I'm guessing the elevator couldn't handle the load of people since it shut down, forcing people to walk up it. 

People were standing around wondering what was going on. I saw The Trooper (@TheTrooper97) and had a brief conversation with him. He put out a nice vlog on his experience with this day. Anyway, we were divided into groups. The Caesars Seven Star people were few in number and were to get seats in the poker room. Most of the Diamond and above people got seats -- all except four, who were placed at the top of the wait list. For the remaining Platinum and lower hoi polloi, we were to pick a tournament card from the organizer. If it was blank -- cya. If it had a number, you would be placed on the waiting list. I drew a card with the number 8, so I was actually 12th on the wait list.

The process: Drawings for $10,000 WSOP Main Event seats would be every half hour. To get in a drawing, you needed to win a pot with a straight or higher using at least one hole card. If you ticket was drawn, you won. The ticket hopper was then emptied for the next drawing. You could only win once, so when people won the Main Event seat, they left. I believe only one or two other people left during the event until the very end. With number 12, I was hoping I'd get in before it ended. So ... it was slot city time ... for several hours. Those of us with small wait list numbers hung around and had fun plotting. Could we find some spoiled food and deliver it to players for free? Perhaps some Ex-Lax infused chocolates?

I finally got in a $2/5 game in time for the final two drawings for the final $10,000 and the remaining $4,000. Despite winning a few hands, I never had a hand good enough for a ticket. Such is life. I was able to meet Bill Boudreau (@billvan1971) in person. That and a decent run at slots were the highlight of the PH day.
The now empty Planet Hollywood poker room   R.I.P.

What the long-time poker room area has become

After wasting most of my day at PH, I drove to South Point for some uneventful cash game play. I was pretty tired and headed to Excalibur, where I was staying for one night. I was so zonked that I just took off my clothes, collapsed on the bed and crashed at midnight. 20-hour days used to be easier in my younger years!

Monday Morning Blues
I awoke Monday morning and was in a dazed, tired state. I just stayed in bed, caught up on news, made social media posts, etc. It had rained Sunday night and my car looked like crap with Las Vegas rain drops on my Arizona dust, so I got my car washed and headed for lunch. When the eating area of a local Popeye's was closed, I made a terrible mistake and disregarded what Yelpsters said about a particular restaurant. I foolishly ate lunch at Kirin Buffet on East Flamingo near Maryland Parkway. It was terrible! The restaurant was hot inside. Almost everything was bland except for the sushi. It was probably the second or third worst Chinese buffet I had ever experienced. You don't want to go there - trust me.

I then went to the airport to pick up and meet for the first time Dan Kuester (@ddkuester), whom I'd know on Twitter for some time. After dropping Dan off at his hotel, I checked into Bally's, where I would be staying for three days. Thanks to Dan for getting me hooked up with a great room!

After some relaxation time in my room and a quick dinner, I headed down to the Bally's poker room and said hello to my old friend and Las Vegas lifestyle/poker/garage sale vlogger, poker dealer Ronnie B (@balt99). Ron and I have been friends for many years. I think I have finally forgiven him for felting me at the old Luxor poker room. After all, it has been more than eight years.

I sat down to play and was later joined by another Twitter friend I had never met in person, Jeff Temple (@JT88Keys). What kind of a guy is Jeff? When my youngest daughter had her iPhone stolen at her high school and I was searching for a cheap replacement, Jeff sent me an old one - for free!

I was at a table with some bad mojo when Jeff came and was seated at a new table. I quickly moved there was able able to sit right next to Jeff. Just two Midwest guys who talked like they lived next door to each other! One of our dealers was another friend -- Vinnie, who many people might recognize as Tony Bigcharles's friend "Vince."

I built up my stack form $300 to about $575, taking advantage of a great run of cards and some loose, poor players at the table. One of the guys seemed annoyed that I was winning and had bested him a few times. I was dealt pocket Aces and three bet this guy big. He called. The flop was 4-5-6 rainbow and he muttered something like "I caught some of this." A bet and a couple of raises later we were all in. He flipped over A-7os. Now why this guy called my big pre-flop three bet with this hand? Anyway, as luck (and poker) would have it, he binked a 3 on the turn and won a big pot, doubling up through me. An orbit or so later, I flopped a set of Kings. Another crappy player at the table was relatively short stacked and decided to shove and chase a flush, which he hit on the river. So not only Aces went down, but a set of Kings. I kept my profanity to a minimum, but I surely was not happy looking at my scrawny pile of chips that should have instead been over $1,000. Sometimes poker really sucks.

After Jeff left to eat and go to bed, our table broke and I was moved to another. In my first orbit at the table (the same one I vacated earlier), I twice called guys who went all in and seemed to be on tilt due to losing other hands. Both times I had A-Qos. I won both hands, and just like that, I was back at even for the night. I left a short time later with a minimal loss. It should have been a great session.

Tuesday on my Mind
Tuesday another old acquaintance from online poker days, Chris AKA Mrs. Lederer (@MrsLedr) invited me to have lunch at the South Point buffet. She was being joined by another old poker social media (AVP) friend, David Petina (@dappoker). Dave was able to use his comps to pay for lunch for all three of us. Yes! Dave, Chris and I had a great time talking poker at lunch. 
Blog Hero, David and Chris

Chris then went to enter an Omaha tournament while Dave and I talked about tournament poker. Recently, I had been thinking of giving more tournaments a try. I decided to play in the South Point 6:05pm NL donkament. Later on, Dan Kuester entered late and was seated at my table.

I was down a little early, but hung in and chipped up when the times were right. I think the only time I sucked out was when I won with A-8 vs 8-8(70% favorite). As we were at the bubble (players could not agree on paying the bubble), I made a big raise on the button with A-10. The guy on my left, who had me covered, three bet me, which would put me all in on the bubble. He had only been at the table a relatively short time, but I got the impression that he was a solid player who wouldn't attempt to bluff off most of his stack to abuse the bubble. With his big raise, I started thinking of all the better hands he might have. I decided to fold (I was called out on this type of fold one time many years ago). He showed ... A-J! Good thing I am a wuss or had a great read on him). I could always chip back up.

I kept hanging in. Dan was moved the other table when we got down to 18, and he cashed a short time later. I kept hanging in and chipping up until finally we were at the final table! My final hand was shoving UTG with A-Q. The same guy who had the A-J before made a huge raise, so I was pretty sure I was sunk. He had A-K. With so poker god suckout assistance there, I finished in 7th out of 129 runners. Without a few suckouts guys had at the final table, I would have finished 5th or higher. But no complaints - I had a good run!

I drove Dan back to Encore and was going to head to Resorts World to play poker with  Tony Bigcharles AKA TBC (@sevencard2003), but we were both tired and hungry and decided to eat instead. Of course (u see), we got one of our favorite meals: country friend steak.
A TBC and lightning36 favorite: country fried steak

Blog Hero and the legendary Tony Bigcharles

I gave Tony a ride back to his hotel and headed back to Bally's. I was tempted to  get in a little late night poker, but just went up to my room and crashed instead.

I am here all day today (Wednesday) and have to drive home sometime tomorrow.  I am currently running a gambling deficit this trip and hope that maybe I can break even or head into the positive column before I leave.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Destination: Las Vegas!


As things have gotten a tad boring and mundane at home, what with 100+ degree days every day, dips in the pool and trips to the local casinos just isn't cutting it anymore. Therefore, it's time to take another road trip to that magic place.

Trip details: I am driving up On Sunday, July 11. It appears that I will be staying one night at Excalibur and three at Bally's. This trip should be fun, as I am looking forward to meeting some online friends in person for the first time. On Sunday, it is definite that I will be meeting Dan Kuester (@ddkuester). Since Dan is a huge professional wrestling fan, I might have to keep him in line with a figure four leg lock! I also plan on meeting Jeff Temple (@JT88Keys) and perhaps have him confirm that my singing voice would be good enough to be featured in one of his show choirs. Finally, I hope to connect with and expose (umm ... not the way you're thinking) the dude who runs around on Twitter and Twitch calling himself "Lightning Poker" (@lightnin_). The audacity of this guy! We joke back and forth about who the REAL lightning is. Followers of this blog know the easy answer.

I pretty much gave up playing tournament poker sometime after Black Friday. I occasionally play in online private freerolls and low buy-in games hosted by When in Las Vegas, I have  sometimes played in daily tournaments, most recently Planet Hollywood, South Point and Sam's. I did chop my most recent tournament at Sam's and in fact chopped several years ago at places like Caesars and Sahara. I played in the WSOP before when I won $2000 tournament package, and am tempted in play in something this year -- either a lower buy-in event like the Colossus or maybe the Seniors or Super Seniors. Yep - I am old enough to play in either. However, I get the feeling that I would most appropriately fit in the group know as "dead money." I've got time to think about this. Maybe I need to get a couple more in-person tournaments under my belt to help me decide.

As always, I am open to connecting with old friends or meeting new people while in town. Please post a blog comment, PM me or text me if you want to meet up. I don't really have a firm schedule at this point.

Thanks for reading!