Monday, January 16, 2006

Vegas Winter Assault 2006 - part 1

Ahhh. Vegas. Where to begin... On any trip to The Desert, I'm writing in my head as I go, but this trip wrapped up with a scene at the Mirage 2-5 NL cash game that was so many sigmas away from normal it's almost impossible to describe - all that in due time.

Thursday, I logged on to to check in for my 8pm flight. Would I like to upgrade to first class? Fuck yeah! I fill out the form with my name, address, credit card info, etc, and hit "submit." "We're sorry, First Class is not available." What the fuck? Why the fuck did you offer it to me then? You couldn't run that little check BEFORE I filled out the form? Bad Beats: 1 Kid Dynamite: zero.

5 1/2 hours on an Airbus A319 wedged in the window seat next to a guy bigger than me was another bad beat, but a few hours of sleep had me re-upped and ready to rumble with a hard core cast of characters awaiting my arrival at the Mirage:

The Big Show & his girlfriend, Ms. H
Dirty Dave - master of analogies and all things gambling
Craig - mackdaddy extraordinaire

I did a Superman-esque quick change in the room, and met the crew back in the Mirage sportsbook. The Thursday night NLHE tourney was just wrapping up, and the guy who won was the same guy who beat me when I finished second a while back.

Big Show was killing time in a blackjack 6-deck shoe, and I tried to take a picture of him at the table, which almost got be barred. We convened to make a plan, with Craig and Dirty Dave yearning for a lounge scene. I was aching to absorb some negative EV at the tables, but we aimlessly wandered over to Treasure Island, and ended up at their lounge, Mist. If you click on that link for Mist, you'll see a page with lots of people having a great time dancing it up and partying. What we saw was the 5 of us sitting in a corner booth while some Chinese Gangsta types tried to impress the ladies with their sunglasses-at-night styles.

After a few slow rounds of drinks, and some unsuccessful female sorties by Craig, we left Mist, with me wondering which had a higher EV: playing $25 double deck blackjack with free drinks tableside, or paying $10/drink at Mist.

We rambled over to the Venetian and headed into Tao - their nightclub. I can't really figure out Tao: the space is oddly shaped and has a very poor flow. Perhaps the problem is that we never went upstairs - I'm not sure if the real club is the upstairs part - I hope so, for their sake.
The Big Show tries to circle me @ Tao

After a few more rounds at Tao, it was 3:30 am, and I'd still failed to get any table action. We settled on the old standby: the IP double deck game, and felt quite at home walking into the Champagne Pit.

The Imperial Palace is a Vegas icon. Built in the style of an ancient Asian "palace," it is vastly outdated, but retains an old school charm that cannot be denied:

-the incredible kitsch of the "Dealertainers," celebrity look-alikes who deal blackjack and get up on a little pedestal to lip-sync or sing performances twice an hour
- the irony of the "Champagne Pit," serving IP private label non-vintage bubbly
- cheesy plastic bead necklaces awarded for blackjacks
- most importantly, a double deck blackjack game dealt face down by easily tilt-able dealers

We played for a few un-eventful hours, where I rang up a $264 loss, and Big Show ducked out at Harrahs to get some sleep as I returned to the Mirage. I scoped out the scene in the poker room at 5am. There was one seat in the 1-2 NL game. I was not trashed, but certainly not at peak performance, so I hesitated, before politely declining the seat. I took two steps toward the rail, and then, like Mike McD in his "let's play some fuckin' cards," scene, turned and told the floorperson "I'll take it."

I bought in for the maximum, $200, and watched the chooch-fest in front of me. I could not find a hand, and a failed 3-bullet bluff ate up 1/2 my stack. The two goofballs next to me were young Persian looking dudes playing like rocks and thinking they were in the big time game. One of them turned to me and said "They call me Mack Nut, 'cause when I'm in a hand I have the Mack Nut." He did a little head jiggle as he said this. Now you have to understand, it's about 5:30 am, and I'd normally find this funny, but this dude was serious! I looked him dead in the eye and say "You're kidding right? Because you didn't really look like you were kidding when you said that." His buddy went nuts, and embraced me into their posse - an honor which I apparently didn't grasp the meaning of. I felted myself with 4-5 suited, and returned to the room to recharge.


I woke up early and hit the poker room by 10:30. There was still no 2-5NL game going, so I again sat in the 1-2NL game which I simply could not beat. I managed to get felted with A-Q, of course, when I ran into a flopped set of 5's. By 12:30 I was seriously tilted: how can the fucking Mirage not have a 2-5NL game going at noon on a Friday?!?! Finally, we got a game going around 1pm. We were 4 handed, and the game broke as quickly as it began, but reformed just as quickly with an all new cast of characters.

I picked up some early pots, and had built my $500 max-buy in up to about $850, when I played this monster:

UTG raised to $15, and was called by a woman two to his left. One more player called, and I called in the cutoff with 8-9 offsuit. The big blind came along, and we saw a flop of 4-6-7 rainbow. The BB bet out $25, the initial raiser folded, and the woman made it $50 to go. It was folded to me, and I elected to smooth call the $50. The BB called the $25 raise.

The turn was an offsuit ten, giving me the nuts. The BB bet out $100 and the woman raised all-in, $280 more. I announced "I'm all-in," and the BB actually thought for a few seconds before he called off all of his chips: I had them both covered. The BB had the same hand as me (what was he thinking about?), but the woman didn't turn her hand up until the river paired the ten on the board. Her set of 7's had filled up, and she scooped a $1300 pot.

I shook my head, and she immediately racked up her chips and left the game! Holy crap! That's the second time this has happened to me in two consecutive chips to Vegas: I get my money in with the nuts against a set, get drawn out on, and watch my opponent run for the doors! The thing with this woman was, when we were playing shorthanded, she won a few pots, and left the game for 5 minutes to essentially just take money off the table. She has every right to leave the game, but there was no fucking way I was about to let her take these chips to the cage and then get back in this game with a min-buy-in. Not to worry, there was a list, and she did not return.

I took a walk to see what was going on in the celebrity tournament they were having on the casino floor: Mirage has a new nightclub, Jet, and they sponsored a tournament for the Mirage high-rollers which featured Paris and Nicky Hilton, Shannon Elizabeth, Kevin Connelly (from Entourage), and Leonardo DiCaprio. I'd been talking to the poker room day shift manager, Danielle, angling for an invite, but to no avail. She did tell me that they'd delayed the tournament starting time by two hours for Leonardo, who wanted to play but couldn't make it at noon. She finally told me to go talk to "that balding guy over there," about playing in the tournament, as she pointed to another floorperson, Mark."

"Hey Mark - how do I get into the Jet tournament?" I asked
"You need an invitation," he replied
"Ok - can I have an invitation?" I smiled, no fear.
"If you don't have one by now, you're not getting one." he laughed.
"Danielle told me to ask you," one last attempt.
"Sorry. No Dice." And I was still shut out.
"Do you know who the fuck I am?" but Mark had turned away to resume his duties.

I wanted to try to pass Dirty Dave off as Hassan Habib - he's a spitting image if he puts on the frosted glasses, but Dave wasn't up to the deception, although he did oblige me with a great rendition of Habib's pocket fan which he'd deployed during crunch time at the WPT Championship to cool himself off.

When the tourney started, Leonardo DiCaprio proved to be a complete douchebag - wearing a hat down low over his face and HEADPHONES! How do you wear headphones when YOU are the celebrity in the high-roller invite only tournament? These people are here to talk to YOU!

I returned to the NL Cash game, and hunkered down.

The game was weak - alternating between tight passive and loose passive, but almost always passive. There would be cycles where I could run it over for a while, but then a huge fish showed up two to my left and altered my rhythm. This guy was a calling station in every sense of the word, and I was aching to play a big pot with him. He had amassed a pile of chips which drifted up and down like a wave, and we each had about $650 in front of us when we played this pot:

After 3 limpers, I limped on the button with 4-6 of hearts. Fishcakes in the BB checked his option.

The flop came 4-6-T with two diamonds and one heart: I had bottom two pair with a backdoor flush draw.

Fishcakes bet out $20, and a solid player in MP raised to $55. I bumped it to $175, and Fishcakes cold called. The MP raiser went into the tank and stared at me. His A-T was clearly trailing, but he took about 3 minutes to fold it.

I put Fishcakes on a diamond draw, and when the turn was an offsuit jack, he checked to me. Now, in this spot, I can check behind him, and win the pot if he fails to improve on the river. Alternatively, I assume he'll call me if I move all-in here, and he'll be getting a bad price to do so. I want his stack, so I quickly move all-in - $320 more for him. He calls just as quickly, and the river is an offsuit king.

I table my hand and he turns over.... Ten Six... Aiyahh! Holy cow - I wanted to play a big pot with this guy and I did - but I ran into a better hand.

Dirty Dave later made it to my table, the main game, from his must move table, and we had some fun with a local guy named Rock, who was at the table with his girlfriend. The girlfriend, an angry looking Persian, was wearing a lowcut shirt that read "I'm bored, you're ugly, have a nice day," or something like that. When she had sat down an hour before with attitude, I told Dirty Dave I was going to stack her within the hour. She proved to be a calling station: she seemed to be some sort of player, but I think it was really just that she liked stacking off her chips into the pot.

I flopped a set of nines on her, bet the flop and turn, and put her all in for her last $45 before the river card hit the table. She called, and I stacked her chips as I smiled at Dave.

So, Rock comes to the table a little later - this guy is a Vegas local, and a real character. He has hair that looks a little like Chip Jett's, and like to talk in a variety of fake accents: Nordic, Asian, Armenian, etc. He played like a Rock, and said things like "I'm going to come into ze middle, and you vill know that I vill have some-ting" with a singsong fake Swedish accent.

The game tightened up, and when I raised with pocket aces I was happy to get called by Rock's girl. The flop came A-A-5, and I had to take a moment to process the scene: how are there two aces on the board if I have two in my hand? I actually flopped quad aces? Are you fucking kidding me?

I checked, and she checked behind me. On the turn, I threw out a $55 bet, and she called, but I couldn't snag a call of my $105 river bet. Although we were having fun with Rock at the table, we were running out of time, as we had a dinner reservation at SW Steakhouse @ Wynn.

After nine hours, I finally racked up and cashed out: down $400 for the day, $300 of which came from my 1-2NL session.

Dinner @ Wynn

Dirty Dave set the stakes high when the waiter came to take our drink orders at Wynn: "Belvedere martini with blue cheese olives," holy cow - great call Dave - how do you bring the aggression that is Blue Cheese Olives? That is a natural talent, one that cannot be learned.

I was quite disappointed when the waiter brought over Dave's martini without the fucking olives! Are you fucking kidding me? We made a big deal about it when Dave ordered, and then they fucked it up? Dave quickly remedied the problem, and was brought a skewer of BCO's. Overall, SW Steakhouse didn't meet the service standards I'd expect from such a pricey and hyped restaurant, although the boneless shortribs I had were excellent.

When the waiter returned for our dessert order, he joked about the $650 glass of 60 year old McCallan's they offered. He told us that one guy once bought a bottle, which they sold to him at cost: $3000. "Three grand is cost? Are you kidding me?" I asked him. "Yep - $650 an ounce."
I hammered him back with "$650 an ounce: sounds like my sperm."

Now, the waiter was standing behind me, so I couldn't see his reaction to my line, but the awkward silence and the stunned look on the Big Show's face told me it had hit the mark. I didn't get the Big Show to shoot water out of his nose from laughing, but I'm hoping that's only because he wasn't drinking when I said it.

We left the Wynn, and headed back to Harrah's to check out the dueling piano show and assault their table games. I couldn't help but laugh and think of Bobby Bracelet's post, as one of the performers began beat-boxing a rhythm track for his partner on the second song we heard. The two dude pianists left the stage for the Pinnegar twins: identical twins who look like weathered versions of Tara Reid. Wow - that sounded even harsher than I meant - I mean, Tara Reid already looks weathered. We hung around for a few roaring renditions, including Journey's "Don't Stop Believing," Bohemian rhapsody, and Scenes from An Italian Restaurant, before I begged Big Show to let me use the crapper upstairs in his room.

He finally relented, but as we made our way up to the room, the perfect storm in my stomach required me to use the public facilities in Harrah's - as I was worried I wouldn't make it to Big Show's room, especially since I was in line for crapper use behind him. Ok, maybe this is a case of Too Much Information, but anyway, I've said it. I took a dump at Harrahs. That makes my list of casino's I've taken a dump at: Mirage, TI, Bellagio, Harrah's.

I dropped $200 in the Texas Hold'em No Limit Bonus Poker table game at Harrah's, and then grinded back a $40 win in their Pai Gow game, before we tired and returned to our stomping grounds.

Back to the IP

We hit the IP double deck BJ game, and were tearing it up. A few hours into our session, my favorite Vegas pit boss, who shall remain nameless, gave us this high comedy moment: A girl walks by, in typical Vegas attire, with her rack practically falling out of her shirt. A voice booms out over the music, "Look at those fuckin' tits," and I practically fall off my chair when I see that it's the pit boss who is leering at her. You know the IP isn't long for this world when the pit bosses are catcalling the patrons like this, but it's still nice to see some people still being real in Vegas.

Dirty Dave had another memorable line when we were deep into a double deck shoe, with a count that was clearly in the double digits. Dave dutifully hit his 13 against a dealer 9, and drew a deuce. He took another card, knowing that he was walking through a mine-laden deck here, and spiked an ace for 16. At this point, we're all pretty sure there probably isn't another baby card left in the whole deck, so Dave asks "Can I draw from THAT pile?" as he points to the discard pile in the rack. Big Show responds, "How's the back room in this place," as we all laughed till our stomachs hurt.

We are anticipating a big Saturday night, as we have a table at Jet, so we pack it in early. I book a $514 win at the IP, and we're all excited about how crazy Jet will be on our blowout Saturday night, as there should be a lot of celebrity spillover from the poker tournament.


Saturday, I played 6 hours of 2-5 NL hold'em at the Mirage. Early in the session, I hit a streak of about 5 hands in a row where I'm forced to lay down a hand on the turn to an opponent's raise. I then play this hand, where I choose not to lay down:

I limp in EP with 3-4 of spades. A solid local limps behind me, and then it's raised to $15. 3 call the $15, as do I and the local calls behind me.

The flop is As5s7h : I have a flush draw with a double gutshot straight draw. I bet out $60, and am called by the local and the preflop raiser.

The turn is an offsuit 8, and I now bet out $100 with my 4 high.

The local quickly moves all-in. The preflop raiser folds. It's my last $225 back to me, and I'm getting better than 2-1. I have at least 6 straight outs, plus the 2 of spades, and as many as 15 outs if my flush draw is live too. I know this player is smart enough to observe that I've been making laydowns, so that plays a small factor too. I call.

The river is the deuce of spades, and I barely have time to register that I've made the Steel Wheel - a straight flush.

The local announces "Flush," and spikes his 7s8s on the table. I silently turn up my hand, and he goes into some bullshit about me having hit my only out. I explain to him that I had slightly more than one out, as I rack his chips, and again forget to shout "Pass the Sugar," in this perfect time to apply that line.

I am not into the game, instead focusing on the Seattle - Washington NFL game on the TV, so I rack up near the end of the football game to go pull off another coup: scoring a prime table for the Denver-NE game in the Mirage Sportsbook. Big Show is geared up in his Shannon Sharpe Denver jersey, and Ms. H is wearing the Rod Smith jersey. I counter with the Steve Grogan Patriots jersey.

My Patriots give the game away with 3 fumbles, and I TILT up to the room to change into some more presentable clothes, as we take off for an early event at Pure, the Caesar's nightclub, which is being sponsored by Big Show and Dirty Dave's company.

After a few rounds, we return to the Mirage for some last minute clean up before the big appearance at Jet. As we head down to Jet early, around 10:30, the scene is out of control. There is a red carpet set up, and throngs of people in their finest party slut-wear.

Big Show has a very good Vegas club hookup, but I immediately wonder if we may have a problem with the table. I find Big Show outside, and he confirms our fears: they don't have us on the list. Turns out, we're looking at the wrong list, but when we find the right list, the story is the same. Big Show manages to get our contact on the phone, who confirms that he couldn't get it done for this night - we basically picked the worst night of the year to try to get into Jet if you're not a celebrity. I know what you're thinking: "Do you know who the fuck I am?" Correct, but even KD couldn't swing it, so we returned to Pure, and angled a table there.

We're at the point in our lives where 4 people have trouble killing 2 liters of vodka, especially on our third night in Vegas, but we stayed for a long time, doing a number on the liquor stock.
This is what $1000 looks like at Pure:
We left Pure and went with the old reliable IP Double deck game.

This time, we tilted the crap out of Bob, a flaming gay dealer, who likes to be confrontational. He was messing up payoffs, paying off pushes, and overpaying bets, and Big Show slow-rolled a blackjack on him, which led to Bob threatening to call the floor if we did it again. "What exactly will you tell the floor when you call them, Bob?" I asked him, but he was too steamed to even answer.

Bob tried to tilt Big Show by claiming that "The Book" says to stay on a 12 against a 13, which led to a friendly table-mate failing to hit his 12, and everyone at the table losing when Bob spiked a 4 card 21. Big Show was slightly steamed, but, pro that he is, re-focused.

I eventually cashed out +$88, and was in bed in the Mirage at 7am.
I took this picture of the Mirage on my way home: that's a full moon in the upper left.

Sunday's NL cash game at the Mirage was so incomprehensibly bizarre, I'm trying to figure out how to put it into words. It was so amazing, I need to really do it justice.

Until then,

1 comment:

The Bracelet said...

Freaking beatboxing...