Random thoughts about my interests which include (in no particular order) poker, finance & investing, politics, football and whatever else I happen to see that piques my interest

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Vegas - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Got back from Vegas late last Friday night/early Saturday morning.  It was a fun trip and I'll detail more in the next few days about everything but thought I'd talk about some of the things we saw this trip.

Good things - Wow did we eat well.  Of course travelling with our daughter the foodie ensured we would hit some restaurants we had never been to before.  Here are some places you might want to try next time you go to Vegas:
Cinnamons Restaurant - This is a small chain from Hawaii, the Vegas location is the only one on the mainland, and they serve authentic Hawaiian dishes.  I had been wanting to try Loco Moco and this was my first chance.  It was great.  Try their pancakes too.  They are known for their guava chiffon pancakes but the PQ opted for the Red Velvet pancakes.  We expected them to be pretty dense but they were very light and fluffy not to mention delicious.  Our daughter got the Korean BBQ which I feared would be spicy but was actually a bit sweet and very tender.  The restaurant is located west of downtown near Summerlin right off US95.

Rice with a hamburger patty, brown gravy, and 2 eggs on top.  Loco Moco indeed

Eats - Just outside of downtown in an area that used to be run down but is now in a renewal, Eats is a nice locals breakfast/lunch/brunch place.  A bit hipster and it gets loud in there but the food is worth the wait.  We hit this place just before noon on the morning we arrived in Vegas.  I had a very tasty chicken fried steak and eggs and of course sourdough toast which I usually can't get here in Florida, our daughter had a fantastic killer grilled cheese and tomato soup and the PQ had a delicious chicken sandwich on ciabatta with home made chips.
The Peppermill - right on the strip just north of the Wynn/Encore across from where the Resorts World is being built.  This is one of the first places we eat in Vegas.  If you've never been here, you must go.  Step back into the 70s.  Purple neon and velour covered furniture.  Food is great and portions are huge.  Usually I get an egg dish but I chucked the diet for the week and it had been so long since I'd had French toast that I got this huge order of French toast with fruit (hey that's good for me right? ) and whipped cream.  I ate half then traded with the PQ and had some of her chicken fried steak and eggs.  None of us finished our food and we all left stuffed.  There's also a lounge in the back with a fire pit which does great business every night.  In the Vegas tradition I had Baileys and coffee with my breakfast.
Somewhere under this is 6 halves of French toast.  

Wynn Buffet - I thought it was excellent, our daughter was unimpressed saying the food lacked seasoning.  Didn't stop her from piling on the desserts.  Great biscuits but a surprising lack of sausage gravy to go with them.  Strange, not refined enough for the Wynn?  

No sausage gravy but you can get a breakfast candy apple at the Wynn

El Burro Burracho - TV Chef Guy Fieri's Mexican restaurant in the Rio.  There's also one in the Linq I believe.  Wow this was good.  I've been wanting to try Beef Machaca Enchiladas and they were fantastic.  The girls split an order of trash can nachos which were also excellent.  We'll be eating here again next time.
Gordon Ramsey's Fish and Chips - didn't have any fish but the chips are out of this world.  While not a fan of his, the man knows how to make delicious fries.
Pink Taco - more excellent Mexican food this time at the Hard Rock casino at the Pink Taco.  I wasn't really hungry so I had the quesadilla appetizer and me and the PQ split some queso fundido.  Our daughter was after the pink tacos and really enjoyed them. We'll also be back as the Hard Rock treated us very well in the casino.
Barley Bros Brewery - by Lake Havasu.  Right next to the London Bridge that was moved stone by stone from London to Havasu City.  PQ had one of the best steak sandwiches I've had - thick but very tender and the bun was perfect.  My burger was really nice and the cole slaw with it was really good.  The foodie had a pizza which was also well made and tasty.

Other good things.  Trader Joes in Vegas sells hard alcohol including their own brands of Rum, Vodka, Scotch, and Gin.  Finally went to the Gamblers General Store outside downtown.  Very cool, got a number of souvenirs there.  Gambling at the Hard Rock and Palms was fun and profitable.

Bad Things - It was very sobering to go to the Welcome to Las Vegas sign at the south end of the strip and see the memorial to those killed only a week before.  It was good too to see the offerings from people who many times did not know the victims and the city really has come together over the tragedy.  The concert venue was still taped off and police were not letting people in except for a few at a time to retrieve belongings.  The window where the shots were fired from was easy to see as it was the only one with plywood on it.  Ugh.   My gambling the first 3 days qualifies as bad.  I couldn't win anything on any game whether machine or table.  I was calculating how much I could continue to lose and still have money but thankfully everything turned around the last few days.  Paying for parking on the strip is definitely bad.  What the hell, I'm coming to your casino to play and dine and put money in your coffers and you have to nickel and dime me to park there too??  And it's not a buck or 2, it's serious coin if you stay awhile.  When did the Strip Casinos become Disney World?  Almost makes a person not want to play on the strip.  This is not an issue off the strip, no charge at the Rio even to valet, nor at the Palms right down the street.  Fortunately as a Caesars Platinum rewards member I get free parking and valet at their properties on the strip and I did make use of that.  But even self parking at the Wynn or Bellagio costs if you stay more than an hour.  I can see myself not going to those places very much in the future.  One other place I parked for free was the Tropicana which I had never visited before.  While I was gaming there, the PQ and Foodie were visiting M&M world, Hershey World and World of Coke at neighboring casinos. Odds weren't nice at the Tropicana but the people were extremely nice and the layout was cool inside there.  I was surprised to find I was a rewards member there due to signing up for a rewards card at Boom Town in Biloxi several years before.  Another bad thing was I didn't play much poker.  I had plans to play on 2 different nights including the last night we were there but ended up backing out.

Ugly Things -  I did play one small poker tourney at Harrahs.  Like the poker room much more than the old room as it's not set off completely from the rest of the casino.  I lost to maybe the worst player I had ever played with.  Of course, I wasn't the only one - he took out at least 4 others.  It was crazy.  The drivers around the strip are absolutely nuts.  I saw some outrageously bad driving including a taxi who decided the left turn light was green when it was red on Las Vegas Blvd and almost caused a huge pile up at Harmon.  Some guy apparently climbed over one of the sidewalk barriers on LV Blvd and was run over.  As Ron White says "you can't fix stupid".  There's a reason those barriers are there and walkways were built over the street.  I picked up a nasty cold about half way through the trip.  While I wasn't suffering much during the week, I was tired a lot and it really kicked in when I got home.

Well that's enough for now.  I will update with some food porn pics a little later and some more in depth posts including my poker tourney and exit.  Going to hit the poker tables at Derby Lane and try to improve on my Vegas experience.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Getting Ready for Vegas

We've all heard it said, hell we've probably said it ourselves, that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.  I thought it was Einstein who sad it but some places say the author is unknown.  But Einstein was pretty smart so I'm sure he said a lot of wise things in his life.  But I digress.

Saturday was a long day for me.  I headed into work about 10 because I have 3 days to finish testing and I have a lot to do.  Of course I get there and the testing environment is down.  I contact a couple of people and 3 hours later they get it figured out so I can start testing.  Great.  I was hoping to not work on Sunday too but that pretty much clinched it that I'm coming in on Sunday too.  Lovely.  I was able to get a fair amount done in the next 3 hours but missing out on 3 hours of testing meant I had plenty to do by the time I left at 4 that afternoon.

I was a little tired but I had talked to the Poker Queen earlier in the day about maybe going to play poker that night at Derby Lane.  There was a small tournament at 6 that we like to play.  And we're off to Vegas in a week.  So after work, I headed home and picked up the wife and off to Derby Lane we went.  Because, hey let's do the same thing again and hope my results change.

We arrived about 45 minutes before the tourney and went to sign in.  I was thinking maybe I'd play a little holdem before the tourney to get into the flow of the game but when we got there I was hungry (since all I'd had since breakfast was some peanuts) so we figured to sign up and I'd grab a bite before played.  We went up to the window and told the girl there we wanted to sign up for the tourney.  And were told we'd have to wait until 5:30.  What?  It's 45 minutes before the tourney and we can't sign up for it?  I was miffed.  Then the room manager came by and told the girl it was ok to sign people up now.  So we got that out of the way.  We went over to the snack bar and I got a bite before we started.

The tourney was s $60 buyin with 15K in chips and 20 minute blinds.  I did not get off to a great start, lost one hand early on when my Q high flush ran into a K high flush.  That sucked.  But I didn't lose too much.  After a couple of orbits I was down to about 13K.  Blinds were 50/100 and I was in middle position when I looked down at KK.  After a couple of people called, the guy a couple of places to my right raised to 2500.  What?  I had notice this guy and another one a few places to my left seemed to make large preflop raises but this was big even for them.  I figured he probably had a mid pair like from 8-J or even Qs.  Which is great for my KK.  So I reraised him to 7K which was kind of dumb because it was more than half my stack.  But I don't mind taking it down there and if he reraises all in I'm not dumping Kings at that point.  I really doubt he has AA but if he does I'll stomp my feet and cry about how unfair poker is take my beat down like a man.  And rebuy.  But I figure he'll fold or push here.  He surprised me by calling.  Ok, now what?  Flop is 10-6-3 rainbow.  He checks to me.  I'm really hoping he doesn't have 10-10 as that's right in his range there but I'm pot committed already so I push in.  He goes into the think tank for a long time.  Now I know he doesn't have 10s and I figure he has JJ or QQ so I'm hoping he'll call.  Finally after a minute he folds.  Still a nice chunk of change for me.

A little later I call on the button with A2 of hearts.   5 of us see a flop of 10-5-3 all hearts.  BINGO.  Now how do I get chips out of this.  Everybody checks it around so I check too.  Turn is an 8 of clubs.  Guy in early position makes a small bet of 350.  Comes around to me and I just call as do the 2 blinds.  Nice, now we're getting a pot built.  River is a 2 of spades.  The guy who bet now puts out 2500.  Much better.  It comes to me and I immediately raise him to 6K.  He thinks for quite a while.  Tries to get a reaction out of me and finally calls.  He doesn't like it when I flip over the nut flush.  Not long after that he busts out and a older gentleman moves into his seat.

I'm not sure what this older guy is playing but he's calling a lot preflop, even when it's raised, then stays in calling the flop and turn only to fold at the river.  He wins a couple of hands but loses more.  Blinds are up to 75/150 and I've about doubled my 15K starting stack so I'm feeling pretty good when I get JJ in early position and make a raise to 600.  The old guy is in the small blind and is the only caller.  Flop is K 6 3 rainbow.  I don't like the king but he checks into me so I bet out 900 which he calls.  I'm not sure what he's calling with here but he hasn't shown me much so far.  Next a 9 of clubs hits the board.  It's not a scare card so after he checks I put out 3500.  I'm hoping to take it down here but he calls again.  Now I'm getting a little worried.  River is a 10 of diamonds.  While not a terrible card, it's not great.  And since I don't have any idea what he has, when he checks, I check behind.  He then mucks his hand as I turn over my JJ.  I never found out what he had but it wasn't too much longer before he is gone though he did hurt one guys stack pretty good when he backed into a straight on the river.  I'm a little over 40K when everything starts to implode.

I raise in late position with A-10.  Blinds are 200-400 so I raise to 1200.  3 people call but the flop is 10-6-3 with 2 spades which I'm liking.  It's checked to me and I bet out 2500.  Guy in the small blind raises me to 5K.  I'm wondering if he's on a flush draw or if he really has the goods here.  Everybody else folds and I decide to call. The turn is an 8 of clubs.  He checks to me and I think for a bit.  I almost checked back but decided he's probably on a flush draw so I bet 6K.  And he goes all in.  I ask the dealer to count it down and it's another 13K on top.  I can afford to lose this hand but then I'm down to around 15K again.  I think for a couple of minutes and figure he probably flopped a set of 3s or 6s so I fold,  I never found out what he had and if he bluffed me, good for him.  But I felt fairly confident he had me.

A little later on blinds are 300/600.  I haven't had much to play and I'm slowly bleeding chips from blinds and ante.  I raise in early position with AQ suited.  Guy to my right who was on the button and the old guy who folded to my jacks both call my raise to 2K.  Flop is a nice Q62 with 2 hearts.  It's checked to me and I bet 5K.  Old guy calls all in (of course) for less than 5K and it comes around to my neighbor.  Who pushes all in for almost 20K.  Oh crap.  Now I start to think.  What the hell did I get into?  I start thinking it through.  My options are pure bluff, semi bluff with a flush or straight draw, set of 2's or 6's or AA/KK.  I toss out pure bluff, why do it here?  With the other guy calling he has to figure he'd probably lose most of the pot to him.  Semi bluff is possible though again, he doesn't get all that much if I fold and he doesn't fill his flush or straight.  I didn't think he had AA or KK.  If he did I think he raises preflop instead of calling and I'm sure he reraises me preflop.  So I'm left with pocket pair making a set.  Of course this took me probably 2 minutes to work through. I'm not the brightest bulb out there in the poker world.  So I fold and he flips over 66 for the set and takes the old guy out.  I'm now down from over 40K to just over 25K.  And the break can't come soon enough.

I meet up with the PQ over the break.  She had just over her starting stack, hadn't gotten much to work with.  But with the blinds and antes increasing she knows she's going to have to make some moves.  And I got to see a couple of them.

Not long after break my table was broken up.  I came out of the break running pretty well and hit a couple of big hands.  No all in's but I doubled my stack.  I was not thrilled to move.  Wouldn't you know I got moved to the PQ's table.  One of the first hands, the PQ gets it all in vs a guy who came over from my table.  He was a pretty solid player.  Flop was King high with 2 hearts when the PQ pushed all in.  The guy calls and flips over KK for top set.  PQ has QJ offsuit with the Q of hearts.  She's drawing nearly dead but the turn and river are both hearts giving her the flush (K of hearts was on the board) and a miracle double up.  It would not be the last time the card gods smiled on her that night.

Not long after that the PQ was moved to another table to keep them balanced.  As for me, I spent a lot of time folding having nothing worth playing.  I did make some chips on a couple of well timed semi bluffs so I actually was up to about 55K in chips.  Average stack at this point.  I figured for the final table I would need to be near 100K.  We got down to 2 tables so I knew I'd need to take some chances.  On the button I was able to just call with K5 of hearts.  I almost threw it away, then I almost raised with it but decided to just call.  It worked out.  Flop is KQJ with the QJ of hearts.  I figure I might not be ahead but I certainly have a decent shot to win the hand.  It gets checked around to me and I put out a healthy raise of about two thirds the pot.  Folds around to the guy in seat 7 (I'm in 3) who pushes all in.  Everyone folds back to me.  I get a count on it and if I call I'll have about 20K left.  As blinds are 800-1600 now, I'll be in push or fold territory.  Then I start considering what he might have.  I didn't think he had flopped a set or even two pair as I suspect he'd have raised any hand of QJ or better in that situation.  I also discounted A-10 for that reason.  Now 9-10 is definitely possible.  But more likely I felt he had either a pair plus a draw like J-10 or a just a draw.  Maybe flush plus straight draw too.  I put my odds at 60% I'm ahead and even if I'm not, I have a decent flush draw.  Only thing I fear is he played something like A2 of hearts.  So I call.  And I'm right.  He has 10-7 of hearts.  So he's drawing just to a straight as no heart saves him.  He's calling for a 9 and gets his wish on the river.  Unfortunately for him its the 9 of hearts and I take him out.

At this point I'm feeling pretty good.  I've got almost 100K, nearly the biggest stack at the table.  I get to play a little bully and no one wants to mess with me much.  But I keep it pretty mellow just trying not to dump a bunch of chips.  We get down to 5 handed while the other table is 6 handed.  PQ is low but holding on as she pushed in AQ of clubs preflop and got called by a big pair.  Flush on the river again saved her.  I lost some chips when 2 guys went to war with me in the middle.  I decided to get out which was good but dropped me down to about 95K.  The good thing was, one of them got knocked out and we're at final table time.

We draw seats for the table and I get seat 3 again.  And directly on my right in seat 2 is the PQ.  She was not thrilled but we never tangled as it turned out.  I've got an average sized stack for the table but the guy in seat 1 is a monster.  He's sitting on nearly 300K - and only 900K was in the whole tourney.  Seat 1 proceeds to play more than half the hands.  He gets it in with some smaller stacks taking one out but losing a chunk to the guy in seat 8.  He and the guy in seat 10 keep tangling sending chips back and forth but along the way seat 1 is losing to some other guys like seat 4 directly to my left.  I do not get to benefit from his largess, I can't draw any cards and I can't hit any flops I do see which are quite few.  Every time I'm in the small blind, seat 4 puts in a big raise and I can't call or go in over the top with the crap I have.  Seat 4 takes a healthy piece off of seat 1 and he falls down to about 100K.  I keep going down and I'm about 70K when the PQ gets all in and loses to go out in 8th place, 2 off the money.  She wasn't too disappointed as she didn't get a lot to work with and she got lucky a few times to stay in the tourney.  Making the final table was a very good result for her.

At 7 left with 6 places being paid, I'm content to wait out the bubble.  I'm not getting much to play anyway.  Seat 5 is very short and seat 6 is not far behind.  But seat 5 makes a big double up and seat 6 ends up splitting a pot he was behind in.  I'm wondering when the axe will fall.  All the while I'm dumping crap hands, best I get to see is K9 in the small blind and I can't call seat 4 when he raises me all in preflop.  Finally seat 6 gets all in and busts out and we're in the money.  Now I just gotta keep moving up.  So I channel my inner Memphis Mojo and buckle down.  I take down the blinds and ante's a couple of times with all in preflop bets but I'm still bleeding chips.  Guys are talking about a 6 way split with the 2 big stacks, seats 4 and 8 getting extra but we keep playing on as no one can get to a consensus.  I'm down to about 40K and one off the button when I look down to AQ suited.  It's folded to me so I push in.  Seat 4 next to me calls and we're off to the races.  He flips over QJ off so I feel pretty good about my chances.  I hold and I'm back up close to 100K.  Just after this we reach a consensus.  Top 2 stacks get 500, rest of us walk out with a little over 300.  Not bad on a 60 dollar tourney.

I felt pretty good about my play.  I was a little too conservative at the final table maybe but I picked good spots to play I thought.  I also thought I made the correct lay downs which allowed me to keep playing.  I'm not really sharp but I'm ready for Vegas.  So in 2 days the PQ, myself and our daughter hop the big bird to Las Vegas for 6 days of fun.  Staying at the Rio this time and I'll be renting a car so we can take a day trip or 2 depending on how the gambling is going.  Hope someone of us is lucky this time.