As usual, when I planned this trip to Vegas I put a lot of thought into analyzing my flight options. I'm an easy 30 minute drive from Manchester (NH) airport, which offers one direct flight (Southwest) daily. The problem with this direct flight is that it leaves NH at 7am, arriving in Vegas at 10am Left Coast time. The alternative was to take a circa-5pm flight out of Logan, but that would require driving to Boston in Friday rush hour, which was something I didn't even want to mess around with.
Thus, I found myself getting up at 4:30am on Friday, after having tossed and turned since 2am, paranoid about sleeping through the two alarms I had set (which would have been impossible, as my dogs go nuts when the alarm goes off). Zombified, I cleared security, choosing not to offer a wise-assed retort when the TSA Frisker asked "Anything tender or sore?" And headed to grab a bagel breakfast sandwich. "You look like you're still asleep," the cashier told me, and I explained, "Yeah, I'm kinda trying not to wake up - MUST sleep on the plane."
My friends derided Southwest's "Communist" tendencies, and I blundered as I entered with my B45 boarding pass, panicking and snagging an aisle seat in row 5 next to an elderly couple. I should have continued toward the back of the plane where there were still aisle seats available, but instead dove into this seat next to the husband who was in the middle seat, and who turned out to be far too large for his seat. The flight was uninteresting, aside from the old lady pulling out a Nintendo DS about 90 minutes from landing, where she proceeded to give Mario Brothers a severe cursing out. I thought she was going to smash the system on the tray table.
Landing in Vegas, I quickly arranged lunch with The Chairman, and headed over to Aria to check in. After dropping my bags in the room, I sat for an hour in the 1-3NL hold'em game, (played with normal $1 and $5 chips, not the $3 peach chips the Wynn uses) as I waited for The Chairman to pick me up for lunch. I played one hand of note, when an old European man stepped into the path of the KD Express. He'd somehow managed to avoid going broke on the prior hand when his 66 flopped bottom set against an 8-9 flopped straight (6-7-T), and both players slowed down when the turn brought a potential flush.
This hand, I raised it to $10 with QcJc in early position. The OE (Old European) called me, as did one other. When the flop came 9c-8s-2c, I bet my overcards, gutshot and flush draw: $15. The OE made it $60 to go, and I paused to count his chips. "He's got about $95 total?" I asked out loud, and the dealer countered "more like $135." Jeez - bad counting - I'm out of practice. I took 35 seconds, shoved out a few stacks of red chips, enough to put the OE all in, and he called. The Qd peeled off on the turn, which was good enough for me to drag the pot. A nit in the 2 seat piped in "So that's the kind of game it's gonna be?" Huh? What did you expect me to do - fold? Please. DYKWTFIA?
I spent a few minutes chatting with one of the Floor managers in the poker room, who I knew from The Mirage. "You're here full time now?" I asked, and she replied "Yeah - that place is a sinking ship." Oy - so sad - the Mirage used to be one of the centers of the Vegas poker universe. Now they struggle with $3-$6 limit games and 1-5 Stud. I spotted David Oppenheim in Ivey's room playing in what I believe is a 200-400 limit mixed game. I didn't recognize any of the other players in the shorthanded game.
The Chairman arrived in short order and we headed 150 yards around the corner to Todd English's PUB - Public Urban Bar - an upscale bar with 35 beers on tap. Our waiter asked "Have you guys been here before?" And when I replied "No," he proceeded to spend 5 full minutes explaining the menu. This put the Chairman on BAJUNGI tilt, and he explained, "Jeezus - I haven't eaten HERE, but I've been to a RESTAURANT before! I know what a MENU is!" My burger was incredibly disappointing - a small patty on a large bun - with undercooked streak fries to boot. I didn't return to give the PUB a chance at redemption.
After lunch, I said goodbye to The Chairman, and had a problem. You know that feeling that you have on Sunday morning of a standard trip to Vegas, after two nights of fitful sleep and excessive partying? Well I felt like that at 2pm on my first day. Major issue. I returned to the room to regroup and wait for reinforcements to arrive. Dov, who I was sharing a room with, had smartly noted the Fallacy of "Saving It," and explained that we would be hitting it hard that night. The Fallacy of Saving It is as follows: When everyone arrives at 9pm on Friday night, the tendency might be to say "Let's just hang out tonight, gamble, drink, but save the big club night for tomorrow." No. That doesn't work at our age. You have to hit it hard the first night, right off the bat.
So I napped, poorly, until around 6pm where I rallied and returned to the Aria poker room for a little 2-5 NLHE action. I sat in the 2 seat next to a young gun in the 1 seat who was fully "local poker pro'd" up: hoodie over trucker hat, sunglasses, etc. He wasn't a douche though, and the table dynamic was pretty decent. I later described the game to Big Show as "sneaky good" - it was a game that appeared horrible at first, until you realized that guys would call you down with second pair, and you just had to make thinner value bets. Of course, I didn't realize this until I had a multi-barrel bluff called down, which made me nod, shrug, and alter my game plan. The young gun (YG) had shown a propensity to make a big button raise after multiple players limped: he did this at least 3 times, once showing 8-9 offsuit after continuation betting the flop and taking the pot down. So as I sat in the small blind with pocket tens and about $330 in my stack, I decided to pop him back after 4 people limped and he made it $35 to go. I 3-bet to $135 and everyone folded back to the YG who went into the tank. I shuffled my chips for a few minutes, then stopped and waited. He finally called. I had less than a pot sized bet left and pretty much planned on shoving any flop. When the flop came K-T-9, my plan didn't change, and I was INSTA-called. I turned my hand faceup as the dealer quickly peeled off the 4c and the Jd. The player two to my left started to say something, and I quickly put up a finger to hush him, mouthing "shut. up." He paused, and then couldn't contain himself, blurting that he had queen-ten and would have called if I hadn't reraised preflop. The YG wasn't the kind of player who would overlook the 4 card straight on board, but everyone is capable of making mistakes, and I tried to politely explain to Mr. QT that he should keep his mouth shut until the pot is pushed.
YG held his cards, shook his head, and mucked. "I had you crushed," he muttered, and I was temporarily confused: KK-QQ-JJ all still beat me. "You really had AA?" "I've played like 4 hands all night," he replied. "Hey, you set me up," I explained, "all those button raises, and you showed the 8-9 earlier!" He smiled and shook his head, explaining "that wasn't by design!" He proceeded to pester me for about 20 minutes - would I have called a preflop shove?" (yes) and lament about the beat.
After another hour, I picked up from the game and cashed out, needing to get changed for our pending night out at Marquee, the club next door at The Cosmopolitan. First, I stopped by the sportsbook to check the NFL lines, and marveled at the camouflaged step that Aria installed in the entrance to their sportsbook. I am willing to bet that within 6 months you will either read about lawsuits regarding trip and fall accidents about this step, or you will see it turned into a 8 inch ramp. If you're bored at Aria, just stop by the sportsbook and count how many people almost eat it when they miss the step - you won't have to wait more than 5 minutes. Steve Wynn would never let that happen!
I returned to the room and changed, as The California Kid, JR, and Blazer arrived in the adjoining room in short order. Dov was stuck at McCarran, awaiting his checked bag, and Big Show was on his way over, with his wife in tow. The team finally fully assembled, and I had to shepherd Dov to make sure he didn't primp and preen too much, finally managing to get him out of the room and on towards Marquee, which was next door, yet a 25 minute walk away. The scene outside was a total zoo, of course, and even with our table reservation we had to wait for a half hour. The Cosmopolitan is a hipster hell, trying WAY too hard to be the hot new place. Of course, that's how Vegas works - there's always a hot new hip place (Hard Rock and The Palms have previously held that title) - the key will be to see if Cosmo can maintain the image. I have some history with this place, as I had a refundable deposit down for a condo-hotel room there at the peak of the bubble in 2006. Fortunately, I bailed, and the project proceeded to get foreclosed on, and is now owned by Deutsche Bank. Although they had sold a full tower and part of a second tower, I think that the condo-hotel concept is now gone, and that they're all hotel rooms now - (yep - confirmed)
Thankfully, our table was in The Library at Marquee, which turned out to be much better than being in the main room, which offered up colon shaking house music spun by DJ Chucky - as if I know who that is. All I know is that it was "untz untz untz" hell, and louder than anything I've ever experienced. Being in the "side" room Library was a blessing, even though we were out of the thick of it. We polished off our bottles of booze, and Blazer and I went to wander around the club. When I returned, Big Show had ditched me, so I decided it was time for food. I wandered out alone, and ended up at the Cafe at Aria at 4am, where I enjoyed a perfectly acceptable steak and cheese sub as I listened to the drunk girl in the booth behind me blubber to her boyfriend about how she totally liked him, but like she was worried about what would happen if she got pregnant and then he was mean to her, and like what would she do then, and like she'd lose all her friends, and like then the alcohol took over and she was just bawling. Ahhh. Vegas.
I trodded back up to the room, where I found an early-Saturday-morning-East-coast-time text from Erik the Nit, begging for status updates. "Got it it in bad, sucked out, bottles, noise. Standard." I replied, before dozing off to prepare for Saturday.