Wednesday, May 10, 2006
A Wiggly Good Time
I recently returned from a family trip to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. We took our daughter and her Grandparents joined us for 4 of the 6 days we were there. We kind of scheduled this trip around taking our daughter to see The Wiggles in concert. They were performing at the Thomas & Mack Center.
If you don’t have kids, you probably have no idea who The Wiggles are. I can tell you I didn’t know who they were 2 years ago. Kids are addicted to their funny antics, catching songs, and wiggly dances that they perform. They hail from Australia and families came from all over to see them. We heard one woman “bragging” that they had come from Virginia just to see the Wiggles. Their US tour will take them to many cities, but Las Vegas was just the right place for us to see them.
We arrived on Sunday and while I watched our daughter, my wife went off to play blackjack. She loves to play blackjack and doesn’t get to do so very often, so I wanted to be sure she could get some play in. We later learned that it is not at all uncommon for parents to just leave their kids unsupervised in their hotel room while mom and dad run off to the tables. Personally, I think this is criminal and couldn’t imagine a parent doing such a thing.
At any rate, it wasn’t until 9am on Monday morning that I was able to play my first hand of poker. I walked over to the Bellagio and signed up for a single table satellite to their $500 buy in daily tournament. The buy in was $130, and the top two received a seat. I busted out 4th. Incidentally, John H. was in the same satellite and we were able to catch up on his adventures since moving to Vegas last summer.
After I busted out, things seemed kind of slow at Bellagio, so I headed over to Caesars where the World Series of Poker Tournament Circuit events were taking place. I really wanted to play in Event 8. ($1000 +60 buy in NLHE on Wed) They run single table satellites all day every day so I entered a $130 single table which paid the winner 2 $500 tournament entry chips and $170 in cash. Unfortunately, I busted out 4th again. This trip was definitely not starting out the way I wanted.
After busting out of my second satellite, I decided to try my hand in the cash games and promptly bought into a 2/5 NLHE game. A couple of buy ins later, I walked out of Caesars having lost nearly every hand I played. I was beginning to question whether I should even play anymore the rest of the trip.
I walked back over to Harrah’s were we were staying and decided to play some blackjack. While blackjack is not my favorite game to play, I do like to play occasionally. After a couple of hours of playing, I doubled my money and cashed out. Even so, I was still down over $700 for the day.
My wife’s parents flight was severely delayed, so while we waited on their arrival, we decided to take a stroll on the strip. We walked from Harrahs north to the Wynn and back to Harrahs taking in sights along the way. We then headed south to Belagio to see the fountains and maybe catch Leslie on a break while there.
This was Monday May 1st and the illegal immigrant march was taking place as we started to head to Bellagio. There were so many people in this march, when you stood on one of the bridges over Las Vegas Blvd, you saw a sea of people in both directions. I don’t know how many showed up, but there had to be in the neighborhood of 100,000 marchers. The march lasted nearly 2 hours. I wonder how Las Vegas would operate if all these people were “sent back” as some have suggested.
I awoke Tuesday morning (Wiggles day) and decided to head down to see what was going on in Harrah’s poker room. But on my way, I heard it calling to me. You see I don’t really play slot machines. Truthfully, they are nearly the worst thing you can play in a casino, but there is one machine which calls to me and I must answer the call. I usually play $100 a trip in these machines and as I had to pass right by them to get to Harrah’s poker room, which means I had to stop. WHEEL OF FORTUNE! There is just something about getting that wheel spin. After 20 mins and blowing the $100, I walked into the Harrahs poker room just as they were starting a $50 tournament. So I bought in. I didn’t realize that this was a re-buy tournament and that there was absolutely no way I could finish it (if I were that lucky) since the concert started in 3 hours. It’s a good thing anyways, as I couldn’t stand this tournament. The dealers treated the players like morons. Well, that was because half of the table was made up of very inexperienced players who had no clue as to what was going on. Normally, this would be a good thing, as they have virtually no shot at winning the tournament. But I found that my patience was worn thin as every hand was a lesson on how to play a tournament. I know you have to start somewhere, but damned this was just too painful to sit and play. There were 3 ladies at this table who had only seen poker on TV and had never actually played before. You can imagine how slow and agonizing the hands were. All the while, knowing that I had to leave before the tournament would finish, I decided I was not going to re-buy and that I should probably just bust out for my own sanity’s sake.
I went back to the blackjack table and waited on the family to come down for lunch. When they came down, I cashed out (for a loss) so we could eat lunch before we headed over to see the Wiggles. If you are trying to keep track, I was down over $1100 for the trip. Thankfully, my wife had booked some wins at blackjack, so we were positive overall, but the losses weren’t helping my ego any.
After the show, Grandma and Grandpa took over babysitting so we could both go play. I headed over to Caesars and my wife stayed to play BJ at Harrahs. Still wanting to play in Event 8, I entered another single table satellite. This one was for $200. The winner got 3 $500 chips, plus $310 in cash. When we were down to two players, we chopped the pot. I took 2 $500 chips for my tournament entry into event 8 plus $140 in cash, the other guy got the other $500 chip and the rest of the cash.
Feeling good about my win and wanting to get plenty of rest before the tournament, I headed back to Harrahs where I found my wife still playing BJ. We hadn’t played “together” yet, so I sat down at her table and bought in for $500. She was up quite a bit, so we played together for a while. After some brutal shoes and dumping all of my $500, we cashed out her winnings and headed up for a good nights rest before the tournament.
I entered event 8 and was hopeful to make the money as were the other 210 people that entered. Sadly, it was not meant to be and I went down in a blaze of glory, AKs losing to a gut shot Q on the river to KJd. I am not even sure how far into the field I lasted, there were still more than 100 players left, so I wasn’t even close. Oh well, I’ll try again next time.
After losing so much at no limit, I decided to try some limit poker. I prefer 15/30 and 30/60, and as I hadn’t been to the Wynn poker room, I decided I would give it a shot. I stopped by Harrahs and Grandma, wife, baby, and myself headed over to Wynn. Grandma hadn’t been to the Wynn before and said she wanted to go check it out. We stopped for lunch on the strip and then strolled over to the Wynn. I think Grandma was impressed, as anyone would be. The Wynn is a beautiful casino with perfect attention to every detail.
I got on the list for 15/30 and bid the girls adieu. After about 20 mins, I settled down into the 15/30 game to play. There were some very aggressive players on this table and I had to get out of no limit mode and back into limit poker play. The table was a must move game and the whole time I was there (maybe an hour and a half) the table was short handed. Players were moved to the main table, others sat out, walked away, or just cashed out. At one point we were 4 handed for about 20 mins with 2 players missing from the table. I finally decided to book the win before I blinded it all off. I cashed out +$106. Wooohooo! I finally won at poker. Hell, that only left me down -$1900 for the trip. Things were looking up!
I left the Wynn and jumped into a cab to head back over to Caesars. When I arrived, the room was packed. The tournament was down to about 15 or so players, plus they had started the second chance tournament at 7:00pm. It was nearly 8pm and I decided to try my chances at no limit again. I bought into a 2/5 nlhe game for $300. As players busted out of the tournament, they would fill seats that were occasionally vacated by busted players in our 2/5 game. I was doing ok, up about $180 or so around midnight. I considered calling it a night, but this guy sat down at our table and I saw him make a bold steal. He showed his hand of 67o and I decided I was going to take his stack.
Reminiscent of my trip to Vegas in March of ’05, I ordered a chilled Tuaca to loosen things up. One of the players at the table then turned me on to a drink called an oatmeal cookie (Baileys/Butterscotch Schnapps/Goldschlager). After a few of these, I wasn’t feeling any pain. I then proceeded to go on a run of cards you get when the deck hits you square between the eyes. What made things even better is that many of the players thought I was being “over aggressive” in my inebriated state – how wrong they were. A local who was playing with us said, “You are unbelievable! You’ve knocked out like a dozen players.” My chip stacks steadily grew. One player even pointed out that I had a “dirty stack”. I responded by saying, “I know. That’s my nickname. Dirty Stacks.”
I must have tipped out over $400 to the dealers/chip runners/floor people. One particular chip runner named Tej, became a personal assistant of mine if you will. I informed him that every time we had an empty seat, it was his job to get it filled. I rewarded him handsomely and his tokes were probably better than he had ever received as a chip runner.
The dealers were all my friends too. (Funny how that happens when you are throwing tokes around.) On one particular hand, I was getting a massage from one of the massage therapists that work the room, and I looked down to find KJd in my hand. I raised preflop and the board came QJ8 with 2 diamonds. I made a small bet and my target stack raised me. There were 3 callers when it got back to me so I went all in to isolate. He called. I told the dealer (Patches) if he hits this hand he was getting 10%. I wonder if he believed me as he was getting pushed as soon as the hand was completed. There was no waiting for the diamond and I told him I’d get him after I counted the size the pot. It took a while to count the pot down as my manual dexterity seemed to be non-existent at this point in the night. With the help of a couple of the players, we determined that I owed Patches $65.00. So I cut out $65.00 in red chips and walked, err, stumbled, over to the table he was on and plopped the handful of chips into his shirt pocket with the familiar clanking that only true clay chips can make. I then said, “I told you, 10% - I’m a man of my word.”
Later still receiving my massage, Patches came over to join in giving me a massage. I am sure all of the players at my table were either entertained by all of this or completely in raged that some drunk ass is winning all of the money, and getting all of the attention. I didn’t care what they thought though – in fact, I probably wasn’t coherent enough to even know that anyone was steaming.
After winning another large pot, I decided I was going to toke ALL of the dealers and stumbled to every table in play and toked every dealer dealing, and then the girls at the cage, and then the floor persons, the girl who maintained the wait list, even a nice Hispanic fellow who was wiping down tables. Hell, “It’s not my money!” I exclaimed. “Share the wealth!”
Around 3:00am, I determined that I should stop drinking as my trips to the rest room became more frequent and more difficult….as I couldn’t walk straight anymore. I decided it was time to call it a night and go. How much did I win? I wasn’t sure as all of my stacks were dirty and I wasn’t in any condition to rack them up. So my personal assistant, Tej, racked up all of my chips for me. I told him I had bought in for $300 and he said, well, you’ve had a good night – I count you at $3,120.00.
Call it $3,100 and keep the $20.
Finally, I was in the black, for the trip.
But then came the time to pay for my foolishness. I exited out an emergency exit as a short cut and the wave of alcohol hit me like a tidal wave. After puking 3 times in the bushes, I staggered back to Harrahs to sleep it off. It’s a wonder I actually made it. Wondering through the casino, I ran into my wife and family. Thank goodness. She guided me up to bed.
Well, I didn’t really get any sleep. I was soooooo sick for the next 12-14 hours I could barely do anything but run back and forth to the restroom. We were scheduled to fly out this day and there was just no way I could fly. So we extended our trip for another day. (Maybe that was my plan all along!)
The rest of the trip was rather benign, although I did get to play one more 3 hour session Friday night before we headed off to the airport. It was a worthwhile session as I booked another win for just over $500. So all in all, it was a good trip. Baby got to see the Wiggles, Grandma won playing BJ with my wife, Grand parents spent time with their granddaughter, I won, my wife won, we paid for our room and Grandparents room in cash, covered all of our expenses and came home with more money than we left with. What more could you ask for on a trip to Vegas?