Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Unsatisfying End to Las Vegas Trip of Feb 15-19, 2023

This is the second part of my trip report from my sojourn to Las Vegas last week. The first part is included in the post "From Good to Bad to Hopefully Good Again in Las Vegas?"

Thursday, Feb 16, 2023

I played an afternoon session at Venetian. It seemed that for most of the session I didn't get playable cards or missed the flop completely. You know how those sessions are: your draws never make it while theirs do.

One of my nephews was in town to play some Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments, so I took him out to dinner. Afterward, I headed to Resorts World to play some $1/3 NL. I immediately got some great cards and started quickly accumulating chips, apparently upsetting a player who seemed to believe that he was the table captain. He gave me crap about raising a limped pot in position with J-10 sooted, so it was on! He raised, I re-raised when appropriate. I think he finally got frustrated and left the table for a break. Some soft players left the table and replaced by players who seemed to be on the ball. I had only been there a half hour and was up $226, so I decided to close it down for the night as I was tired.

Friday, Feb 17, 2023

I played an afternoon session at Horseshoe, which is near the top of my list of poker rooms with the most profit. I was tempted to play $2/3, but decided on $1/3, where I had been having much success. Well, not this session! I had the second best hand several times and lost pots to a player who was playing anything and lucking out. After I'd had enough abuse, I messaged Tony Bigcharles that I would pick him up and drive him to the Friday night NL cash game at Poker Palace that he had been wanting me to play for years. Tonight was the night! I have already written about the night in my previous blog post, "First Impressions: The Poker Palace in North Las Vegas." It is a quick read.

Saturday, Feb 18

My day started out with a free breakfast, courtesy of the Black Bear Diner west of the Strip. I have been to a Black Bear in Arizona several times, and it never disappoints.

Talk about a disaster of a poker day! I began an afternoon session at Venetian. Nothing seemed to go right except for one hand. I flopped a set on a wet board and shoved. One player had been dealt a straight. After the river, he said "I have the nut straight." He was shocked to see that I had rivered a boat. I was due one of these. 😅 But outside of that gimme, the session sucked. I was forced to leave with a loss.

I then played a session at Horseshoe and seemed to be on top of my game and had more than doubled up. I should have left and picked up Tony so that we could go to Sahara, but instead I decided to stay. I then made a really big mistake: soft playing a hand due to the high hand promotion. Believe it or not, with only one other person in the hand, I lost after I FLOPPED A SET OF ACES! I got greedy and wanted that $200 for high hand. Naturally, my opponent either turned or rivered a straight. I was so discombobulated that I am not even sure. I later played another hand stoopidly and lost another chunk of my stack. I was just sick that I made such egregious errors. I try to play smart poker, but his session in particular I really played poorly. I guess that is the challenge of poker. I left with a meager profit when I could have left with a nice win and a well-played session. Bah!

My final stop for the night was Westgate. The games Tony and I planned to go to at Sahara broke up, so he headed there. I decided to join him.

A second nephew from a different brother was also in town for a football coached workshop. He and his wife stopped in to see me at the Westgate poker room. Glad to see that Las Vegas has become a fixture for the lightning family!

Unfortunately, I was not able to sit at the table I wanted, one that included Tony and James "PMan" Urbanic. However, there was a huge benefit to playing at the other table: meeting a player that Tony called "Black Mark" who has know Tony for many years. We were able to trade a few stories, which was fun. After getting short stacked after a bad run of cards, I called a raise with Q-10 - a favorite hand. The flop was ten high with two Spades. The initial raiser checked and another shortie pushed all in. I was guessing he was on a flush draw. I shoved. The player across from me, who seemed to be a solid player, also shoved. It came back to the initial raiser, who thought and then shoved. Yes - a four-way all in! The turn and river were bricks and I thought I was in good shape. The initial raiser had a big Ace that didn't hit. The shortie who shoved had, as I suspected, a flush draw that didn't hit. I was feeling pretty good until I looked across the table at the solid player. The dastardly villain had K-K and scooped the entire pot, felting three of us. At that point I decided that my poker on the trip was over. I hustled Tony to his place, went back to my hotel, Excalibur, and ended the trip playing some slots for fun.

Sunday, Feb 19, 2023

I needed to check out of my room by 11:00am. I packed up my things and thought about getting in a session at Wynn before I drove home. As it was, I was pretty exhausted and wanted to get going on my almost 300 mile drive home, so I decided to leave Wynn for my next visit. I remembered why I stopped driving to Las Vegas and instead took cheap Frontier flights when I could. The drive, despite excellent scenery and views (especially the view of Lake Mead with all the surreal hills and mountains - one of my favorite views!), seems torturous when traveling alone. I always take naps on long driving trips, so that just lengthens the time to get home. I was pretty exhausted when I got back to Casa lightning.

I had been having pretty good success on my recent Las Vegas trips. This one, though fun thanks to seeing some friends and relatives, goes down in the books as a losing trip. I'm taking a few days off from poker before deciding which of my three local rooms can set me back on the right track. C'est la vie.

Thanks for reading. 😀

Monday, February 20, 2023

First Impressions: The Poker Palace in North Las Vegas

For several years, Tony Bigcharles had been wanting me to go to the Poker Palace in North Las Vegas with him on a Friday night when the Palace runs No Limit poker tables. I am rarely in Las Vegas on Friday nights, but I was this week. I decided to finally give it a try. I was expecting to find a scummy place that seemed dangerous. My impressions were not very accurate.

We drove from the south Strip area at 6:00pm. Despite the somewhat heavy traffic on the interstate, we got there in about 20 minutes, courtesy of the diamond lanes. We easily got signed up on the cash game list, knowing that the game would likely start in just over an hour. In the meantime, I saw that Tony had already gotten seated at a $3 minimum black jack table. When the seat next to him opened, I decided to give it a try despite being unfamiliar with the chart for proper play. I must admit, it was a blast! The dealers were fun, as were the other guys at the table. Tony helped guide me in some strategies, and then went ballistic when, on a whim, I split my J-J cards with the dealer showing a low card. Tony claimed that he got a bust card he shouldn't have gotten because I took a card I shouldn't have taken. I  didn't want to try to explain that the subsequent hands he won afterwards were because I had split the Jacks, but I doubted that he could follow my reasoning. In fact, the way I see it, he owes me about $50 of his profits. My Las Vegas friend, Norm, joined us in winning at blackjack and then playing poker.

The poker tournament had few people bust early, thus the NL game started much later than usual. Tony and I started at one table, and Norm was able to play when a second table opened. The game was really fun and loud! At the beginning hands, I was dealt A-K, A-Q and A-A and was able to accumulate some chips. Poker is EZ sometimes. However, my payback was being card dead and not having many hands connect for hours. I was getting a pretty small stack and therefore decided to shove with a second nuts flush draw after a flop. One person called. The turn gave me the nut flush and I felt pretty good after the river was dealt. Unfortunately, the guy who called went runner-runner full house, Aces over Kings. He not only felted me, but jumped into second place on the Poker Palace February high hand list. Ah well ...

After Norm and I stopped playing, we witnessed some very bad Spanish Karaoke in the bingo hall after the bingo games were over. Poor young woman. 😅

So really, how was Poker Palace? The good and the bad:

Good: Cleaner than I expected, employees and players were friendly, favorable rules on blackjack, well lit inside and out, good security presence late at night, large parking area, great drink service. 

Bad: I never saw anyone at the players club station, thus never got a card. Norm got one and was awarded $20 in free play. At one point, the cashier station had no one working for about 20-30 minutes! It was frustrating to have to wait to cash out my blackjack winnings. I was parked far away, and walking to my car was a tad uncomfortable. Norm had a security officer ask if he wanted an escort to his car. I was walking out with Tony, so I was less fearful with a companion.

I did not play any slots or bingo and did not eat at either of the restaurants, so I can not give an evaluation of those options.

Conclusion: Poker Palace was much better than I expected. The poker game (single $2 blind) and the blackjack were fun and the players were having a good time. I would definitely go there again to play the Friday night poker game and blackjack. It's a small locals place, so outside of that, I doubt I would wander that far off my usual haunts on the Strip.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 16, 2023

From Good to Bad to Hopefully Good Again in Las Vegas?

Last week was a great time as my two daughters, who originally were supposed to visit at Christmas (flight canceled for weather), then rescheduled for January (I had COVID), and finally were able to visit Saturday through Wednesday. The visit went well, although my wife and I have not been able to persuade any of our kids to move to Arizona. After they left, things started to go wrong. 

I was walking our dogs when one of them lurched at some small animal. The particular part of the road we were on had some gravel on it. I slipped on the gravel and face planted. Well, to be more precise, I stuck out my right arm and the heel of my right hand slammed into some gravel, causing a few wounds and drawing some blood. However, I landed on my left side and surprisingly felt okay. Until the next day. I woke up the next morning and felt like a truck had slammed into me. I was sore all over. Most of the soreness went away, but then my ribcage started hurting. I had cracked a rib once before and had also once had separated cartilage there, so I knew that feeling. Getting out of bed in the morning is particularly challenging. I had a Las Vegas trip scheduled February 13-17, so I thought that I would just see how I felt after a few more days. 

On Friday early evening, I decided to get in a poker session at Talking Stick Resort and also see the huge carnival that was set up outside as one of the celebrity attractions for the Super Bowl weekend, which was happening on town. As I headed toward the Stick on "the 101," a highway that loops the greater Phoenix area, I was going about 75 mph on the crowded road when I saw a huge piece of wood coming toward me. It looked like a door to some type of cabinet. I had no time to react, which was probably for the best. The wood bounded right toward me, hit my car's front bumper, then bounced away. The wood could have easily hit the windshield and possible hit me or caused me to lose control of the car. I am sooooo thankful. I will need a new bumper, but at least the same old me was okay. At least my session at the Stick was successful. 

Unfortunately, I woke up Sunday morning with increased pain in my ribs. I tried to get into a convenient care place with x-ray capability Sunday afternoon, but was not successful. I just figured that I would see my personal care physician at an open appointment time Monday around noon. I thought that I would wait until seeing him before making a decision on the Las Vegas trip I was scheduled to be starting on Monday. I was driving to Las Vegas, so it would have been possible for me to leave Monday afternoon. 

My doctor wasn't keen on my getting my cheast x-rayed since it would likely not make a difference. He said I either had a very small crack or some minor ligament/cartilage/bone trauma or bruising. Surprisingly, I had no external bruise. I still didn't feel great and decided to cancel my trip Monday afternoon. I was looking at rescheduling later in February or in March, around planned visits from family and friends. 

On Tuesday, the anti-inflammatory medicine I was taking made me feel much better. I had no plans for the next several days since I was goingto be away from home, and then looked into modifying my trip to Wednesday - Sunday of this week instead. I decided that I would gauge how I felt Wednesday morning and decide. I woke up very early Wednesday morning and felt pretty good, so I packed my things, took care of some business at home, made a new reservation and headed out on the road. It was a good decision. I still have soreness, but hey -- I'm in Las Vegas! 

Last night I picked up Tony Bigcharles and drove up to South Point to play some poker. I decided to go with the $1/2 NL game, which has usually been very good to me. The first hand I played, I called an early raise with 4-4. The flop: K-4-rag! I bet and a woman at the table pushed all in. It turns out she had some crap hand, so I almost doubled up the first hand I played. Poker is EZ sometimes! I switched to Tony's table since two people at my table were flapping their gums non-stop for 45 minutes. I captured some more chips there, and Tony and I both cashed out with nice wins. 

I then drove up to Sahara. Tony got in Chris Murray's deep stack game, but I was tiring and not willing to be the tired fish in their game. A shout out to James "Pman" Urbanic, who I finally met at Sahara. I played some slots, took Tony home, and called it a night. I am divulging for the first time that I have a secret bat cave in Las Vegas. I must keep the location secret, but here is the elevator I take to get there - no sliding down a bat pole for me.
Tonight (Thursday), I am taking one of my nephews who is in town out for an early dinner, but otherwise have no set plans beside some poker this afternoon and this evening. So far now, all is well in the world. Hit me up if you want to get together while I am in town. 

Thanks for reading!