Here's your basic trip report: WAY too much fun.
Okay, a slightly longer version. I didn't really take notes, so the details will be a little skimpy -- i.e. maybe I'll stay on topic instead of wandering off into random spew mode. Oh, who am I kidding. This will be long, rambling and probably pretty boring.
I flew in Friday night, got in just before midnight, Vegas time. Also known as 3:00 a.m. EDT. (I wish I could sleep on airplanes. I just can't do it.) Eventually figured out a way downtown -- I didn't have the patience for the 600 person long taxi line, and most of the shuttle services were booked solid. I wandered around a corner and found a shuttle just heading out -- he wouldn't take me downtown, but it was $4 to get to the Strip. I jumped all over it and cabbed from there downtown. Worked like a charm.
Sometime in the wee hours, I arrive at the fabulous (and often mocked) El Cortez Hotel & Casino. I had found most places downtown sold out for at least one night, I didn't really want to move around and I refuse to pay Strip prices. It's just me and I don't plan to do anything there other than sleep, you know? So I stayed at the ElCo, even choosing the cheapest type of room -- in the old section directly up the stairs from the casino. You know what? It was actually quite nice. Clean, very respectably furnished, good water pressure, what more do you want? There weren't even any cigarette burns or bad smells. This was at least two star quality for a sub-one star ($22 or so per night) price. Now, you probably wouldn't stay there if you were married and had a demanding spouse, or if you were paranoid about being in the vicinity of an occasional moderately sketchy person, but it was perfect for me.
By now it's pushing 2:00 a.m. local time and I'm stunned that I'm not sleepy. It's a little late to head to the Excalibur game, so I wander down to the casino for a little $3 blackjack. The ElCo has pretty decent rules -- seems to be pretty much single deck, 3:2 pay. Of course I got crushed. How many times can you pull at 12 against a dealer 10? Yeesh. Blackjack is so rigged. The good thing is you have to work really hard to lose forty or fifty bucks playing $3 a hand. Shift change come for the table games -- I wish I'd brought a camera, they lined up to come in and the late shift was all Asian, all female. Hilarious. Maybe that's not the right word. Time for sleep.
Saturday morning I'm up bright and early. Sleep is for the weak, right? I get some breakfast and make my way down to the Aladdin. I get there with at least an hour to kill, so I waste a few bucks (scratch that, I was actually up a few bucks) playing slots and getting bloody marys. They go down really well when you're not losing. I mill around for a few minutes before the event, meet CJ and a few other folks, and get seated at the toxic Seat 10, Table 10.
The portion of the WPBT Aladdin Classic I was involved in was easily the least memorable part of the whole trip. I was at the same table as Bill Rini, The Fat Guy, Easy Cure, Joaquin, Royal, Lance Kim, I think Mr. Subliminal and I'm drawing a blank on anyone else at the moment. I didn't get any especially playable hands in the first hour -- had one pair (deuces) and limped, flop was rainbow overcards and I instafold. No sooted connectors, no big aces (AJo twice, raised before it got to me both times). Pure garbage. Last hand before the break I get A4s, lots of limpers building a (relatively) huge pot, I limp, Bill pushes. If I fold, I would have 2 BBs (800 chips) when the blinds go up after the break. I call and pray, and get no help against Bill's AQ (I think, maybe it was AK). With the loss, I have one $25 chip left. I lose when the dealer races off the $25 chips, but he determined with the help of the floor that you can't get raced out. So I live another partial orbit, lose with sooted crap and I'm out in 55th or so. With the rapid escalation of the blinds, I should have probably just pushed a lot earlier with whatever crap I had and hoped to steal the blinds or get lucky if anyone called. I guess I'm just happy to not be Gigli.
It was more fun to watch the rest of the tournament than it was to play it. Both Bobby Bracelet and BG eventually made their way through Table 10, Seat 10, ultimately falling victim to its bad mojo. Nice finish for BG, however. As the whole world knows, Bill put my chips (and those of many others) to good use and won the whole thing. Well played, sir.
After the event it was time for a trip to LaSalsa and the AlCantHangButCanHeEverAfterparty. I got to meet a lot of very cool people. I'd make a list but I don't want this to go on forever. Good times. It was a little annoying that there wasn't any beverage service after a while -- those LaSalsa people left a lot of money on the table and that's despite their efforts to bring me things I didn't order like that $15 margarita. So it's back downtown, this time to the Plaza. (Side note: The Plaza looks *exactly* the same as it did the last time I was in Vegas and happened to have stayed there. That was in 1993.) I get into a 3-6 game with Shelly from Hella Holdem. This game brought me my personal poker trip highlight -- I bluffed a guy out of a pot with the Hammer. In 3-6 limit.
I raised it preflop, flop was all hearts. He bet, I raised, he folded. I showed.
Man I wish I'd had my camera at that moment. The stunned looks were priceless. (Yeah, yeah, I did have one heart).
Alas, that game also was my only profitable poker session. I won something like $23 after tips. After I cashed out, I didn't see anyone else around and I was running on fumes, so I made my way back the the ElCo for a few hours of sleep.
Sunday morning, I got up early and had breakfast. I figure I've got hours to kill before anyone else is up and around, so I hit the 1-3-6 spread limit game in the ElCo's "Poker Room". Well, "Poker Alcove" would be a better description. It's 3 tables. I'll have a lengthy post about this experience soon, probably, but I killed four or five hours just hanging out playing cards. Lost a few bucks in the process. Yes, I truly do suck at poker.
I spent part of the day making my down Fremont Street, stopping in at each casino to check it out. I picked up a few freebies (which will probably be used as White Elephants come the gift-giving holidays), played a little of this and a little of that, winning tiny amounts of money in each place except Binions - those bastards - and eventually made it down to the Plaza. Long story short, I hung around at the bar and got into the 2-4 mixed game that was set up with the help of J.T. the poker room manager-type guy. Multiple hours of sippin' SoCo, remembering that I don't have a clue how to play Razz or Omaha/8 effectively and chatting with the contingent -- Jason, Gracie, Alan, Iggy, Pauly, Derek, the Poker Geek, Al, The Fat Guy, BG, Bob and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few. I inflict a painful Hold'Em beat on Derek when my flopped set of 7s defeats his flopped set of 6s. Sorry again, man.
The game breaks somewhere in the vicinity of 1:00 a.m. and it's back to the ElCo, since I'm pretty tired at this point.
Thing is, I get a second wind on the walk back and I can't even consider going to sleep. I've got to leave on Monday, so time is short. Must gamble. I know, I've never played craps before and the home base has a $3 table with 10x odds. Perfect. Especially since I know virtually nothing (ok, I kind of know the basic plays, but not many of the exotic bets) about craps and i've got more than a couple shots under my belt. Recipe for disaster, right? Wrong! I roll like I've actually played this game before, holding the dice three times for at least 15-20 minutes. I hit a ton of numbers (not so many points), so I mostly make a lot of money for the action betters around me rather than myself -- I made a guy a minor fortune when I rolled hits for his horn bet four times in a row and he pressed the first three. Craps is certainly entertaining, at least when you win some. I cash out up and finally decide to try and sleep sometime between 4:30 and 5:00.
Nothing special about Monday. Got up early, hit Binion's (those bastards) for breakfast and decide to spend the couple hours I had before going to the airport trying some more games I'd never played before. Won some money playing Roulette at the Vegas Club (again, a first) hitting red four times in a row. Quit as soon as I lost a bet. Got my ass handed to me playing Let it Ride -- biggest loss of the trip -- a reasonably entertaining but wickedly -EV game. Time flies when you're losing money.
Dragged myself down to the airport, stood in line for a couple hours and barely made the flight out. But for the need to be at work today, it wouldn't have been a bad thing to have missed it. I would have been perfectly happy to spend another day, another week, maybe even a month in Vegas.
Some of the Highs:
* Meeting a lot of the people I read every day, and finding out they're even more interesting in real life. Just hanging out on Saturday afternoon and Sunday evening were my favorite parts of the trip.
* Losing money to bloggers playing poker.
* Getting a lot of bang for the buck all things considered.
Some of the Lows:
* Not getting to meet everyone. I can think of a lot of folks I really didn't get a chance to talk to -- or even say hello. Damn this whole being an introvert thing and the general lack of time. I did also spend too much time on my own (not that I didn't enjoy it, it was just a wasted opportunity).
* Getting there on Friday. If I could do it over again, I'd have found some way to get there earlier.
* Learning once again that I just don't have the patience required to be a winning B&M poker player.
* Note to self, lighting your money on fire is a better idea than playing Let It Ride.
I could go on and on, but I think this is already way more than anyone would find interesting. Until next time.