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

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Back from Sin City

Got back last weekend from Las Vegas after 6 days of fun and games.  It was not a profitable trip, in fact I tried to find new ways to lose.  I'll detail a few of the ugly ones a little later.  I did play a lot of craps - mostly poorly - a fair amount of video poker and even some regular poker.  Nothing went well until the day we flew home.  Then it all turned so at least we left on a high note.

We arrived on Sunday morning.  The flight out of Tampa left at 6:15am and was packed.  We had to get to the airport around 4:30 am, fly to Houston and change planes there.  Then another packed flight to Vegas.  Arrived about 9:30 am Vegas time.  Who flies from Tampa to Houston at 6:15 on Sunday morning?  Apparently a lot of people.  I was not too surprised about the flight from Houston to Vegas though.  Every flight I take to Vegas is full it seems.

We had grabbed a bite to eat at the Tampa airport around 5:30 am but that was 7 hours before we landed so after picking up our rental car - big thanks to Hertz, they make it so easy to pick up and drop off cars if you sign up for their Gold Plus Rewards - we headed to the Strip.  I thought it would be nice to see if we couldn't get a cheap breakfast at Ellis Island so we stopped in there.  Got a great parking spot and apparently hit the cafe there at just the right time between early morning rush and late morning rush and got seated immediately.  The Poker Queen got the NY Strip and eggs for 6.99 and I took the corn beef hash and eggs for 7.99.  Almost the cheapest meal we had the entire time in Vegas.  But we did eat well.

We gambled a bit there while Pittsburgh was losing to Jacksonville.  That was sweet.  There was some leather lunged Steeler fan in the bar cheering every time the Steelers did something right and imploring the defense to stop Jacksonville.  I saw Jville was up 2 scores at the half but the way he was cheering after that,  I figured Pittsburgh had come back and taken the lead.  So imagine my surprise as we were leaving to see the Jags up by 10 points with very little time left.  I saw a lot of sad Steeler fans that day after the game ended with a Jacksonville victory.  And I have to admit I did giggle a bit.  Not a Steeler fan here.

We both only lost a little playing Video Poker at Ellis Island, so after leaving there we still had some time to kill before check in at Ballys.  The PQ suggested we should go by the Hard Rock.  Now I like the Hard Rock.  I never do poorly there and she usually does well too.  This time she did not have good luck and I started off really rocky at the Craps tables but before I left it all turned around and I had managed to make about $40 after being down almost $200.  That's a win in my book.  Turns out it was almost my last win until we left on Friday.  OUCH.

Check in was easy and the room at Ballys was nice.  Plenty large enough.  Only thing they don't include in the rooms is a fridge.  I like having one just to keep water cold.  We ended up buying a small cooler and keeping it full of ice and some water bottles all week.  The weather was near perfect for Vegas in January.  Daytime temps in the 60s, at night it fell to the high 40s, low 50s.  And boy did we eat well.  Breakfast is big for both of us but since I had been sick the week before we left, my appetite was not what it had been.  So we pretty much avoided buffets until the day we left.  And while we went to some old (and new) standards such as the Peppermill, Ellis Island, and Cinnamons, we also tried out a couple of new places that we both enjoyed.  I can recommend the Lucky Penny at The Palms wholeheartedly.  Also we really enjoyed the Pantry at the Mirage.  Big thumbs up.  I almost never finished a meal at any of the restaurants which for me is very unusual.  After arriving on Sunday we went to see comedian Gabriel Iglesias (Fluffy) who's last show at the Mirage was Sunday night.  After the show we were ready for a late dinner and the Pantry was terrific.

The Gabriel Iglesias show was a blast and much different than I expected.  They announced he was trying out some new material but the show was much more than just comedy.  Iglesias was much more introspective about life - both his and his life with his girlfriend and her son Frankie.  Gabriel has talked about Frankie in his shows for a long time, since he was a preteen, and now he's 20.  As a man who's now in his 40s, he realizes there is more to life and he talked about some of the things he's dealing with - his weight, expectations, family, etc.  It was a really fine show and he went way over the time he planned for the show, he was onstage for at least 2 hours.  By the end he had brought out his two dogs to the stage and was taking questions from the audience about different things.  The PQ and I really enjoyed the show.  He even allowed people to take pictures during the show.  He said, "the show is over, we're just talking now.  If you want to take pictures, go ahead"  The PQ snapped some on her phone which has an awesome camera.

We did go to one buffet, the AYCE buffet at the Palms.  They are still renovating the Palms and had recently opened the buffet.  It was good, some of the items like the Denver scramble were very good.  And it was pretty inexpensive, especially after using our player points.  I think our total cost was around $10.

As for the gambling, I took a bath on Monday through Thursday.  Craps, video poker, poker, it didn't matter what I played.  We played a poker tourney at Planet Hollywood on Monday.  My tourney came to an end when a guy with KK overplayed his hand and lucked into a river straight.  I raised with 99 and he reraised.  I had not been impressed with some of his other plays but figured him for a good hand from AJ up.  Flop was QJ3.  He made a smallish flop bet so I decided to call.  Turn was a beautiful 9 giving me my set.  I checked again and he pushed all in.  I wondered if he had QQ or JJ and flopped the set but I'm not folding a set there so I called his all in.  He had me slightly covered.  We turn over our hands and he's holding KK.  River is a piece of crap 10 giving him the straight and it's good bye to me.  I've been losing like this a lot lately.

The PQ continued on in the tourney and in fact later in the tourney called two all ins with AA, flopped an Ace and rivered the last Ace to more than triple up.  That got her to the final table and she ended up splitting the winnings 5 ways at the end for a $600 score and dinner for us at Gordon Ramsey's Burger just off the casino floor.  We ate there once before a few years ago and the burgers are excellent.  The parmesan truffle fries are even better and we split an order with our burgers.  The drinks however are quite pricey there.  Still the PQ had plenty left over from her victory.  While the tourney continued, I decided to play some 1/2 no limit.  Another beat down courtesy of a 10 left me muttering to myself.

I check from the big blind with Q9 offsuit and 6 of us see the flop of Q94 rainbow.  Nice.  I lead out for $10 and get 2 callers.  Turn is a J.  Not a great card for me but unless someone played QJ or called my post flop bet with K10, I still should be good.  This time I lead out for $27.  Guy 2 places to my left pushes all in and has me covered.  Other guy folds and I go into the think tank.  He had been pretty aggressive so I wasn't sure if he had me completely beaten or was pushing crap.  I thought for about 5 minutes but finally decided to call.  He had J8 suited.  I'm sitting pretty until another crap 10 hits the river and gives him the straight.  First I couldn't understand his flop call and while his all in was a good turn bet, I cannot believe another yahoo gets rewarded on the river against me.  After that mess I packed it up and left the table muttering about how much I hate 10s.

This poker karma extended to my next tourney as well.  We played a knockout tourney at the Mirage a couple of days later.  It was only 2 tables and the PQ didn't have much luck losing to some clown staying at the Mirage who comes down to the tourney wearing shorts, a tee shirt, flip flops, and a purple robe.  Guess it takes all kinds.  He was running all kinds of good though and knocked out 3 or 4 people and amasses a big stack.  I'm struggling to keep above water and we get down to one table then down to 5 people left after purple robe knocks out a decent sized stack across the table.  I believe they both had top pair and he out kicked him.  I'm sitting between big stack purple robe on my right and an older guy who also had knocked out a few people and had a good stack on my left.  The older guy called a couple of other all ins and lost including one of mine so he gave up a good piece of his stack.  I also made purple robe fold a hand when I pushed all in over the top of him and he had noticed how tight I had been.  Told him I had 2 pair.  Finally my turn comes.  I look down at KK in first position and just call the blinds.  No one raises and 3 of us see the flop.  It's jack high and not connected.  It's checked to me.  I lead out for 4K into a 5K pot and only purple robe calls.  Turn is a 5.  Board is still rainbow and not connected so I'm not worried.  Purple robe pushes all in.  Ok now I'm worried.  Did he play something like J5?  I don't care as it's too late in the tourney for me to fold so I call.  He was surprised but turns over J6 while I flip over KK.  He congratulates me on a nice hand.  Then the dirty dealer turns over a Jack on the river.  Goodbye.  I wasn't even upset as I expected something like that after the way I had been running. 

I did have a decent night in the Ballys poker room playing for about 3 hours and leaving up about $130.  Not a huge win but defnitely beat what I had been doing.

Friday we checked out of Ballys around 8:30 and headed over to the Palms for some breakfast and gaming.  I didn't play any craps but did stay about even on video poker.  The PQ won a little.  After that it was a quick trip to the Gamblers General Store near downtown for a few gifts then since it's on the way, we head to the Hard Rock before we hit to the airport.  That turned out to be a great decision.  I immediately hit the craps table.  There was a newly opened table with no one on it and another table with 5-6 people playing.  I went to the deserted one and immediately started rolling some numbers.  I played the All Small, All Tall, and All numbers bets.  I rolled all the small numbers and was one off the Tall numbers when I put a 7 up.  I was also playing the 6 and 8 and each time I rolled one, I added another $6 to the amount bet on the number until they were up to $30 bets.  I rolled a goodly number of sixes and eights.  So after my first roll I had made almost $100 profit.  Since no one else was on the table I kept rolling.  This time I managed to roll all the numbers for a nice $350 win.  One more roll and I hit all the small numbers.  I had also placed a bet on all the numbers for the dealers so they raked in some cash there.  I kept betting the hard ways for both me and the dealers and while I was able to roll some hard ways, I never got in a groove where I was rolling the same number more than once.  I ended up rolling for about and hour and a half all told and cashed out for a nice $600 win.  While not enough to make up for the rest of the week's losses, it's always nice to leave Vegas with cash in your pockets. 

At the same time I was rolling, the PQ was scoring on the video poker machines and she ended up cashing out for a few hundred dollars as well.  We both love that Hard Rock in Vegas.  I always seem to do well there. 

So that's my Vegas week in a nutshell.  Fun but not profitable.  Played a lot more poker than last time but again, not very successfully.  We should be heading back in late October so I need to practice my craps game a lot between now and then.  The PQ and I did manage to play a poker tourney last night at Derby Lane in St Pete and while she was out after a while, your's truly managed to hit the money for a 7th place finish.  Not a big cash but I'll take it.  Hopefully next time I'll avoid a couple of errors I made this time and do better.  But for now I'm satisfied.  And that's not always the case.