If you missed Part I of the trip report, go read it now.
(warning - this post contains some ACTUAL POKER CONTENT! but not too much)
Wednesday morning we woke up around 9:45 and went in search of cheeseburgers. I have an insatiable appetite for cheeseburgers anytime I'm in a "drinking" or "was drinking the night before scenario," and although I didn't hit it too hard on Tuesday night, my cheeseburger thirst needed to be quenched on Wednesday morning.
We walked across the street to hit BLT Burger at Mirage, but we arrived at 10:20 and they didn't open until 11am. Deciding to kill some time in the Pai Gow pit, the dealer was aroused from his stupor, explaining "You guys are probably the third customer I've had all day." I looked at my watch - "Wait - you've been here since 4am right?" "Yep." "And you only had TWO players all shift?" He nodded again. Big Show and I just looked at each other and shook our heads. Talk about channel checks. After taking enough out of the Pai Gow game to pay for breakfast, we gorged at BLT Burger; feasting on bbq brisket nachos, and "backyard burgers," which contained bacon, cheese, bbq sauce and an onion ring. We caught a cab out front and headed over to the Rio, in search of some WSOP cash game side action.
Big Show and I were quickly seated next to each other in a 2-5NLHE game that was just starting - I took the 8 seat and let him have position on me in the 9 seat. They deal the game 9 handed at the Rio, by the way. I hadn't played a hand of poker since October of last year, and I was quickly confronted with a decision. On the very first hand, it was folded to an older guy on the button who opened for a raise to $20 and then won the pot with a continuation bet on the flop. The next hand, I was in the big blind and looked down at QQ. It was folded to the old man, who was now in the cutoff seat (one to the right of the button). He open limped, and the SB called. I made it $20 to go and they both called (we started with $500 stacks). The flop came J-8-5 rainbow, and the small blind checked to me. I bet $45, and the old man made it $125. The sb folded and it was back to me. Now, I have realized that almost all of my poker edge comes from the fact that I make good decisions based upon what I know about my opponents' behaviors. I had a constantly increasing catalog of knowledge when I was playing in NYC with the same group of people, but in Vegas it was (and usually is) an entirely new group of people whom I knew nothing about.
Was this guy raising me just because he thought I was making an automatic continuation bet? Was he raising me with an open ended straight draw? Did he slowplay aces or kings (seems highly unlikely given the action)? Did he flop a set? Did he have a big jack? I decided that his limp-call action preflop made a hand like JJ/88/55 unlikely, as he'd already shown aggression in the previous hand, and was likely to open-raise rather than open-limp with those hands in late position. Once I made the decision that I wasn't folding, I had two choices: raise (perhaps a bad idea, as I risk getting all worse hands to fold, and I only get called by better hands?) or call? Out of position, and with basically one pot sized bet left in my stack if I called, I took about a minute and announced "all-in." My opponent took 10 seconds and called. I winced, but I was slightly confused - a set should have been an insta-call for him here. The board bricked off - deuce then trey - and he said "if you have a set you've got me." I shrugged and tabled my queens, and he turned over jack-five, for flopped two pair. I nodded, said "I didn't put you on that," and shipped him my chips, then pulled out another buy in and bought them back from him.
In the next orbit, I opened for $20 with KQ in middle position, and was called by the small blind. The flop came Q-J-x with two clubs, and the SB checked to me. I led for $25, and he checkraised to $125. Again, I was in a spot against an opponent I knew nothing about. I thought I liked this flop. This guy looked like a very tight local grinder, and although there were three handfuls of draws on this board, I took a while and decided that I would be hoping to chop at best - I gave him credit for KQ/AQ/QJ or better, and I mucked my hand.
Not two orbits later, I looked down at QQ again under the gun. I made it $20, and Big Show smooth called to my immediate left. Action folded around to the small blind, who shoved for $240. Big Show only had $420 left, so I re-shoved in an attempt to isolate the SB. Big Show snap called, and his AA held up (the SB had AK). I toppled Big Shows stack after he stacked up my chips, and I continued to battle in a pretty poor game.
A Southerner who said he recognized me from past trips sat down to my right, and was on uber-tilt since he'd flown up here from Florida to play some WSOP tourneys, but they wouldn't let him play because he had an expired ID! This guy was 50-something years old, and was a pit player at Harrah's properties as well - he was comped based on his casino play already. I suggested he talk to his host, and others suggested he demand to speak with the tourney supervisor, who had earlier refused the request to speak, but the Southerner was annoyed and simply decided to change his flight and go home. Steve Wynn would never let that happen! Nice work Harrahs...
After 3 hours, Chops finally found me, and we picked up our chips (Big Show up small, me down 7 hunge) from the game to wander around the room, checking out the action in the $25k 6 handed WSOP event, where we spotted a plethora of big name pros. My buddy Ted was also still alive and in the money on day three of the $5k PLO event, which saw a who's who of poker make the top fifty spots. He was about 15th in chips with 30 people left, and I said hi to him before heading off to record a podcast with Chops.
Chops, Big Show and I went to the Poker Royalty hospitality suite, where I grabbed a Diet Mountain Dew and a cheesecake square and sat down to talk poker, finance, and pop culture with Chops on the podcast. He was impressed that I knew Ted, a Ginger, who was still alive in the PLO event, and that Ted hadn't used his Ginger skills to steal my soul. As we were finishing up, Mike the Mouth barged through the door, desperately seeking a shower. There was one in the bathroom, and Mike closed the door, but then realized after 30 seconds, "I'm drawing dead - there's no soap and no towel."
"Rod Tidwell it, Mike," I suggested, thinking of course of Cuba Gooding Junior's character in Jerry Maguire, who refuses to use a towel, preferring instead to "air dry." This elicited an outburst of laughter from the people in the other room, but Mike declined, and ventured back out onto the poker floor.
We said goodbye to Chops and cabbed it back to the Palazzo, where Big Show and I monopolized a double deck blackjack table, playing two hands each. After grinding for several hours, we were each down a little, and Big Show asked the pit boss, Danny, for a cigar comp. We'd each been playing two hands of $50 or more for several hours, and had always been comped cigars previously with no questions asked. Danny gave us some pushback, explaining that they'd changed the rules, and that we could only get cigarettes, not cigars, which now required a $500 average bet! This was, obviously, absurd. Big Show explained, "I don't want a $100 cigar, I just want a $20 cigar," but Danny kept claiming his hands were tied. The dealer, noticing we were tilted, urged us to just go buy a cigar, but we explained that it was all about the principal. I steamed into a state of crazy bajungi tilt, as Big Show continued to negotiate, asking the cigar girl,
"how much are the cigarettes?" he inquired
"$10," she explained
"ok, and how much is this cigar?"
"How about if I take the cigarette comp and apply it to the cigar and pay you the difference?" He offered.
"Of course, no problem," and Big Show had his cigar.
Meanwhile, I'd gotten felted, and asked for a marker. The pit boss twisted the knife by telling me that my line of credit had to be re-activated over at Casino Credit, which put me into full-on Bajungi Tilt, as I'd asked the pit boss the night before to confirm that the credit line was active, which she had done. "Fuck it," I said, and pulled another buy-in out of my pocket. I was getting blown up, and felt like I was looking into the abyss - not the first time this had happened at Palazzo. I steamed away from the table, up to my room, to grab my own cigars, which I had brought with me. I stopped by the Palazzo's dueling piano players on the way back to the table, but they sucked. I love dueling pianos, but I stopped to check these guys out three times and was vastly disappointed.
I stopped by Casino Credit, and they said "oh yeah - you're all set," which tilted me even further - WTF? Why would you tell me it's active the night before, then tell me it's not active when I want to use it, then, when I go to activate it, tell me it was all set all along? Steve Wynn would never let that happen - eff you Shelly! The boss at Casino Credit politely explained that there must have been some sort of miscommunication, so I walked back into the BJ pit, scoured at Danny the Pit Boss, and sat down at a different table across the pit, alone. I took out a marker, played two hands at once, and pounded out a big win - getting back all the cheddar that I'd lost an hour before under Danny's evil eye.
Nearing 11pm, I got a call from the Chairman, who I'd "grown up" with in the NYC poker scene roughly ten years earlier. He now lived in Vegas, and he came to meet Big Show and I at Dos Caminos at Palazzo. As the hostess seated us in the empty restaurant, she pointed to the steps, "please watch your step," as she led us down. "Do people fall down these stairs every day?" I wondered aloud, and she answered mysteriously, "not EVERY day." I went to use the bathroom and discovered a ramp near the stairs - if people fall down the stairs, why don't they take them down the ramp instead? I wondered, but would get my answer in a mere twenty minutes. The Chairman and his wife joined us to catch up on all that is Vegas, NYC and NH, and we were soon interrupted by hysterical screaming coming from the other side of the Godfather-esque round booth we had.
"OH MY GOD! I can't handle this - she's BLEEEEEEDING" came a shriek, and I looked over to see a helpless Penguin looking over her fallen pack-mate. There was another Penguin CRUMPLED in a heap on the ground - apparently she'd taken a head first (drunken, presumably) dive down the ramp (not the stairs!) and was now lying with her face against the intersection of the floor and wall, on the shiny marble. I mean - WIPEOUT! Big Show glanced over the side of the booth, and I wondered "dude, is there a puddle of blood on the floor, NHL '94 style?" (and here's the classic video that goes along with that) Paramedics and EMTs were summonsed, and the wounded Penguin was swabbed and blotted with a variety of gauze pads and antibacterial sprays.
After saying goodbye to The Chairman, who had to work in the morning, Big Show and I sought out more blackjack action at the Venetian, where Big Show almost got into it with a classic complainer. This doucheball was ranting about how he always lost, after making suboptimal non-by-the-book plays, and made some comment about how Big Show kept getting blackjacks. Big Show was absolutely hammered at this point, and said, "hey man, don't hate on me - it's not my fault."
"I know I know, I just can't win," The Complainer whined.
"Play better!" Big Show suggested, but I was in the seat between them and quickly mediated the situation, which didn't last long because The Complainer soon busted out.
We picked up soon after and headed up to the room. I'd been sweating Ted's $5k PLO progress all night, and hadn't heard from him for 5 hours, when he had said he was at the final table. I managed to get an update on Big Show's Iphone from the WSOP site that Ted was still alive with 4 people left! I went to bed wondering if he was going to take down the gold bracelet and $530k first prize...