Big Show and I decided to plan a very advanced Vegas trip - the summer midweek assault. This type of trip is not for amateurs - aside from sitting poolside (which we do not do), there is little else to do in the 110 degree heat but gamble. Which was the goal, of course. In typically obsessive fashion, I agonized over the details of my trip: Southwest flies direct from Manchester to Vegas, but for some inexplicable reason, they've eliminated their nice flight times - around 5pm on each side - and instead now offer only a 7am departure to Vegas, and a 9am departure from Vegas. I do like flying out of Manchester because it's closer than Logan, and it's very easy to deal with in terms of parking and security. However, if I went with the Manchester flights I'd have to stay an extra night in Vegas, which isn't the worst thing in the world either. There were additional considerations: the Boston based flights were on US Airways, where there is always the possibility of a first class upgrade, but I was really gambling there since I could already see that the only seats available in coach were middle seats - which offered a high price to pay for the first class upgrade gambit. There was only one thing to do, consult with the Master, Dirty Dave, who advised:
"This one is clear cut: ditch the cozy confines of Manchestah, and get your butt back to Logan!
Those SW flight time are really bad- on both sides!!
In general, one now wants to err on the "get me the fahk out of here" side and less on the "I scheduled one extra 'chill' day to do some shopping and see the Hoover Dam" side.
Use the extra $150 to blast thru a magazine on the grease gun and 20 footlong meatballs from The 'Way (about one every three hours).
One last thing- middle seats actually trade over aisle seats on redeyes. Less risk of being awoken by a bathroom tripper and moreover, u put yourself in a position to catch some "soft shoulder" if you pass out on a hot seatmate."
Although I wasn't in the market for "soft shoulder," I couldn't ignore my Sensei, and promptly booked the US Airways flights via Logan. Being a stickler for details, I freaked out a little when I later saw that there was massive construction going on at the Logan Terminal B access road, which I'd need to use, but my fears turned out to be unfounded as the trip to Logan, including the parking at the terminal-side lot, turned out to be a piece of cake.
I'd lifted the offer to upgrade to first class - paying the premium for comfort on the nearly 6 hour flight. After 2 23oz Sam Adams in the airport, I hit the bathroom twice, and boarded the plane. I was in the window seat, with a guy around my age wielding a full assault arsenal of Apple products (Macbook Pro, Ipad, Iphone) in the aisle seat. We pushed back to taxi for takeoff, and despite having already relieved myself twice, the two Sam's tall boys were straining my squirrel sized bladder. I figured we'd be in the air in 5 minutes, but my hopes were dashed as we continued to taxi, and the pressure in my loins grew (that sounds like a cheesy romance novel!). I was on the verge of making a leap/run for the bathroom - if I'd been in the aisle seat I probably would have done it - but I didn't want to cause a commotion and get Tased, so I thought of dry fauna and formulated an emergency backup plan - could I pee in the barf bag? I was sure that the moment I threw in the towel and made a dash for the bathroom we'd take off. Finally, 20 minutes later, we took off and climbed rapidly. I made pleading eye contact with the flight attendant, making charades to him that I had to use the bathroom. He told me to wait 2 more minutes, and I lept out of my seat, hurdling Apple Boy, as soon as the first "ding" went off signaling the end of the initial ascent. This prompted the flight attendant in the back of the plane to get on the p.a. system and remind everyone (aka: ME) that the fasten seatbelt sign was still illuminated and that we should remain seated.
Disaster averted, I returned to my seat and tried to get a nap in, as I listened to live Phish on my Ipod. Dinner time came, and the flight attendant came by to explain the choices: chicken with pasta, or "blackened cod." I actually thought he was joking, and quickly confirmed "chicken, please," but Apple Boy shocked my, blurting out, "I'll have the fish." Whattttt? Fish on a plane? Didn't you see Airplane?
Blackened cod? Come on - is this your first time on a plane?
We arrived in Vegas without incident, and I stepped off the plane (it was 9:30 at night, keep in mind) into 106 degree heat. "It's a dry heat," I always joked. "Yeah, so is an oven," the Big Show responded by phone, as I headed to the Palazzo to meet up with him. I'd canceled my Mirage comp, as Big Show had secured a Palazzo comp. I had some EV math to do with the Mirage - they were offering me $75 in free play, but would charge me daily resort fees of $15. Now, two resort fees = $30 (plus tax), but the $75 match play had an EV of $37.50... so it was REALLY thin to keep the Mirage reservation and not use the room. I passed on that, and canceled the room.
A few guys from my old NYC poker game were out in Vegas, playing cash games and WSOP tournies, and Big Show and I met up with them, catching up on all the NYC poker gossip - who owes who big money, how much so and so is raking per year out of his game, and the general state of the game. After the recap, over a beer in Bill's Wynn hotel room, Big Show and I were desperately seeking negative EV at the tables, while Bill returned to the Wynn poker room to dominate the 5-10NLHE game. First, though, he sat with us as we crushed the Wynn Pai Gow table, all the while wondering out loud, "Why does the casino even spread this game? And how on earth can you guys sit here and play it?" When he finally figured out the 5% commission we paid on winning bets, Bill understood the casino's interest, but couldn't grasp our desire to play Pai Gow over real poker, and retreated to his hold'em game.
The waitress sauntered over, and I gave some deep thought to my first drink order, before deciding on "margarita, rocks, salt." She pursed her lips and explained apologetically, "I can't bring you salt at the table." I tried to charm her, "I don't want salt at the table, I just want it on my glass," but she explained that she was not allowed. "Really, why not?" I probed. "People were using it to mark the cards," she admitted. "Yeah, that's what I want it for," I countered, instantly, before conceding to a saltless margarita. Still, I had to admire Steve Wynn - again - for the littlest details. Salt? Really? What is the negative EV for Wynn by serving salt rimmed glasses? The beauty of it is that I bet Steve Wynn could tell me precisely what the negative EV was. I also respect Wynn's table design - which has a lampshade light fixture only a few feet above each table, allowing the casino to put the cameras that much closer to the action. More ingenious design (note: I currently have no positions in any Vegas related stocks).
The Tuesday Night Whore Factor at Wynn was shocking - a seemingly endless procession of working girls parading back and forth along the back corridor on the casino floor. Last trip, I opined about the theory of the March of the Penguins - but these girls were not Penguins - they were pro's. "Where are they coming from?" I wondered. "Where are they going?" Big Show countered - as they seemed to be on a dead end to nowhere - near the Ferrari museum at the end of the casino floor. "Self park?" I offered, flummoxed by the mystery.
We took a few handfulls of units out of the Wynn Pai Gow game, before returning to the Palazzo to crush their double deck blackjack game for a few hours.
Our favorite pit outside the Salon area was vacant, and Big Show promptly managed to get the table minimum rolled back from $50 to $25, so we had greater optionality if things went bad. We fired up cigars, and chatted up the pit boss about the state of business (slow) and her favorite TV shows, which led me to declare that Dexter (Showtime) may be the best show on TV right now. After dominating the game, Big Show and I decided to take a walk through the Venetian before retiring for the night. The poker room was like I'd never seen it before - and it was 2am on a Tuesday. They had every table in the room filled, and 20 tournament tables that spilled outside onto the casino floor also full - all running cash games. Incredible. This was partly a result of the WSOP, and partly a result of the Venetian's Deep Stack tourney that was going on - but the poker attendance was quite impressive. We grabbed a slice of $5 pizza and headed up to the room, where we encountered one obstacle to sleep: we could not figure out how to turn off the light between the beds.
There was even a master switch for all the lights in the room - which basically killed power to the room with a resounding "THUD," yet it did nothing to quash the bedside lights. After a full 5 minutes of inept struggling with the situation, I called the front desk and admitted, "hi, I have a stupid question - can you please tell me how to turn off the light between the beds?" "Yes sir - is it the light with three sconces and a mirrored backing?" "That's the one," I confirmed. "There is a switch at the bottom right corner," she instructed, and I thanked her as I found the illusive switch. "Do you get that question a lot?" I asked. "Several times a night, sir." THEN MAYBE YOU SHOULD F'ING FIX IT! I wanted to shout, but instead I thanked her again, hung up the phone, and said "Steve Wynn would have it fixed." Look - I know you Vegas locals hate Wynn - I don't know anything about him as a person, all I'm saying is that I think he's the best in the business at running a casino, and that he'd fix these little annoyances that Venetian allows to bother their guests and waste their employees' time several times a night.
I dozed off for some fitful sleep in preparation for a sizzling hot Wednesday.
stay tuned for Part II, which contains actual poker content.