I woke up Sunday morning, Dec. 23rd, at about 10:30, refreshed and eager to attack the day. The day was sunny, but cold, as it appeared out my window. By the way, I have a very nice view of the Stratosphere tower, facing the strip. This is in sharp contrast to the usual view I have at hotels, namely the parking lot or a large air conditioner vent. The Slayer and I had already agreed the night before that we should meet up for breakfast before doing anything, so I called him up and we agreed to meet at The Peppermill, a moderately upscale diner on the strip next to the Riviera. I showered, got myself dressed and drove there to wait for them. They were a bit late because they had parked their car at The Venetian’s valet the night before and they were told it would take them 20 minutes to get it! Well, after a while they’d had enough and took a cab to the restaurant. Bad news for me, as I was now stuck playing chauffeur for the rest of the day. I’m exaggerating, of course. We were probably going to be together most of the day anyways.
After a monstrously huge breakfast of Ham and eggs, French toast and pancakes (not all for me, silly), we decided on what we were going to do that day. I originally had wanted to go the Orleans noon O/8 tourney, but I discovered that they didn’t have that on Saturday (Mon. and Thur.), so we decided to hit the gun range instead. Rachel, Slayer’s GF, had never fired a weapon before and Slayer was eager to show her what all the hubbub was about. We drove to The Gun Store (that’s the name of the place) and walked inside. It was a madhouse. There was a line of about 15 people in front of us, all holding their targets and ammo, eager to get a chance to blow holy hell out of their pieces of paper. The 3 of us got up to the cashier and proceeded to order from our own little ‘menu of death’. Slayer went big, ordering two sub machine guns and the SAW, a military grade weapon. Rachel really didn’t want to shoot at all, but Slayer convinced her to take a crack at the MP5, a submachine gun with a very light recoil. I wasn’t in too much of a destructive mood, so I opted just to take 30 rounds on a Glock semi-auto pistol. The shooting went very quickly, taking just 6 or 7 minutes to blow through three magazines. It was still fun though, and I got my shots into a decently tight grouping. I had a bunch of outliers though and the employee who was watching over me said I was ‘anticipating the shot’ too much, which threw off my aim. Hmmmm….Is there a poker lesson in there somewhere?
After shooting up a bunch of targets, we decided to head over to Binion’s for some poker. Rachel isn’t a poker player, so when we got there, I thought it would be nice if I introduced her to Pai-Gow, because everyone needs something to do. I was going to drop Slayer off at the poker room and get Rachel onto the $5 tables, but Slayer joined us and we spent a pleasant 90 minutes playing min. bet Pai-Gow. After a while, we all got bored so we walked into the legendary Binion’s poker room.
For a Saturday night (granted it was early), the place was relatively dead. Some of that was due to a MTT going on in the back. But there were only a few cash tables going. Slayer and I signed up for a table and a new table was started to accommodate us. After about 30 minutes, a feeder table was set up as a must move and we were able to play about 4 hours with a full table. I did not run well.
The table was full of locals who played a pretty tight and aggressive game. I couldn’t get into a draw cheaply and was routinely being bet out of pot odds. I played back a few times, even C-betting Ace high to take a few $60 pots, but my speculative suited connectors did nothing for me. My initial $200 buyin was down to about $160 when I got QQ on the button. It limped all around to me and I made it $20 to go. This was slightly larger than the normal bet, and I wanted to make it look like I was stealing in position. The BB, a young kid with large headphones and sunglasses, who obviously looked the part, re-raised me to $70 straight. I went into the tank thinking about what could be happening here. Of course, he might have a monster, AA or KK. Or he might be interpreting my move as exactly what I hoped and he was trying to steal right back with AK, AQ, JJ or TT (or even garbage). A call seemed to be superfluous to me. I would only have $80 behind so my choices were either all-in or fold. I decided that there was a 50/50 chance I was ahead and I pushed all in for $160 total. He insta-called (whoops) and gently turned over AA. No miracle Queen for me and I was felted. Rebuy! There were no other big hands to report for the rest of the session and I ended up about $210 down. Slayer, on the other hand, did exactly what he always does. Made donkey calls and when he caught he got paid off big. He also donked off his first buyin and a very stupid call. Slayer was UTG and came in for a raise to $7 (smaller than the standard table PF raise to $12). He got a few callers and the board came QT3. Slayer bet out about $15 and got two callers. The turn was an Ace and it checked all the way around. The river was a King, making the board QT3AK. Slayer bet out $15 and the woman to his left went all in for $100 more. The other guy in the hand said, “I guess I call”. It was back to Slayer, who looked in pain, and he said, “Shit. I call too”. NOOOO! I was praying he wouldn’t call because he turned up AA. Needless to say, both his opponents had the Jack for the runner runner straight. By slowplaying his turned set, he completely screwed the pooch and then got married to it to the tune of his whole stack! I’ve got to have a stern talking to that boy….
We left Binions and drove back to the Bellagio where Slayer and Rachel were going to the theater to pick up their tickets before the show. The traffic on the strip was HORRENDOUS and they were able to call the box office and convince them that they didn’t have to pick up their tickets right then. So then we turned around and I dropped them off at the Venetian for them to get ready for the rest of their night. Now I was alone and I had to decide what to do.
After some thought, I decided to give Boulder city a try. I set my Garmin to give me directions to Sam’s Town and off I went. Freedom is a good thing. J When I arrived, I had a quick dinner at Willy and Jose’s, which is what Tony Roma’s would be if it was a Mexican restaurant. After the dinner, which was just a notch above Chevy’s, I hit the poker room.
The Sam’s Town poker room is very much a ‘locals’ room. It has 8 tables snuggled into a corner of the casino which, despite being away from much of the casino floor, is still relatively noisy. To make it worse, the first table, where I sat playing 4-8 HE, is close enough to the casino entrance doors that there was a very very cold draft coming onto the table. I had to play in my heavy jacket and most players were bundled up with scarves. Despite the frigid temperatures, it was a very pleasant game to be in. The locals are relatively loose and aggressive which makes for some fun pots. This is not your standard Atlantic City game where the action is limped all around and then 5 people stay to the river. Here, raises and re-raises are common and the play is mostly good. Which suited me just fine, by the way. I like playing big multi-way pots, because I can use my good sense of odds to figure out when to go for my draws. Every so often, when I’d hit a big draw, a chunky Mexican guy at the other end of the table would sarcastically say “wow, you’re such a good player. You must be the best player in Vegas”. I paid him no mind, especially considering he had to make 3 trips to the ATM. LOL! Still he was annoying enough to everyone that he had to actually be warned by the floor. I sat at the other end of the table with this woman, and we hit it off quite well. We both had sizeable stacks in front of us, and every time the chunky Mexican would berate us, we’d have a good laugh at his expense. My best line of the night was, “The stripe on your ATM card must be worn out by now”. He didn’t like that. After going card dead for quite a while, I went on a card rush for about 15 minutes and went into the profit zone. At about 2AM or so, I felt that as much fun as I was having, it was probably time to cash in my profits and visit another casino. So I said goodbye to my new friends and headed off to other pastures.
I wound up at Sunset Station, where I was pleasantly surprised to see a nice, large (for 9 tables) and comfortable room with a few games going. Even the cocktail waitresses were hot. The equipment was all pretty top notch and the players were something awful, even for locals. I joined into one of their 4-8 with a ½ kill games and went up $150 in about 30 minutes. I was able to hold on to the profit for the next 90 minutes and I decided to pick up at about 4:30am. The table wasn’t as friendly as Sam’s Town, but the loose and aggressive limit style made up for it. After I cashed out, I went walking around the casino for a bit. This place is a real find! The casino is super clean and neat and pretty. Not pretty like The Wynn, but they clearly do a good job. The centerpiece bar, The Gaudi bar, is inspired by the architecture of Antonin Gaudi, the famous Barcelona architect. Barcelona was my first European trip back in 1998, so it struck an extra special chord with me. The casino was very very nice and I could definitely see myself coming back in the future.
I was all set to drive home to the Stratosphere, it being 4:30am and all, and I programmed the coordinates into my Garmin GPS. As I was driving, I had to take an exit ramp and just off the ramp was Boulder Station. I remembered from my research that it had a poker room. Ah, what the hell, I though. Might as well check it out. The room here at Boulder Station is much dumpier than Sunset Station. 9 tables crammed into a little room that allow smoking! L I sat at a 4-8 HE with a ½ kill table (fun game) which lasted about 4 hands (seriously) before breaking up. I looked up at the board for available games, and was delighter to see an Omaha game (also 4-8 with ½ kill) running! I signed up immediately and was seated inside of 10 minutes. My first hand, I get As-5s-6s-Qc. I’m in the big blind and it limps around to me and I check. The board comes out with 238. I check and call one bet with my gutshot wheel and second nut low. The turn is a Queen. Again, I call one bet. The river is a Queen and I call another bet. The guy shows A533 for the boat and the same second nut low. Oh well, I thought, quartered. No biggie, at least I get my money back since there were plenty of people in the pot. The dealer shoved the ENTIRE pot to the guy to my right with the boat. When I protested that I get ¼ of the pot, the dealer calmly said, “Sir, this is an Omaha table, not High-Low. There is no low.” Whoopsie! Thank god I didn’t raise! So the rest of the night, I heard a few comments about it, but it actually worked to my advantage when I had the nuts and check-raised. No one believed me! I lost my first buy-in on some sick nut draws that didn’t come in and then I was down to the nubs in my second buy-in. After splitting a big pot with another Mexican who got angry at me for the rest of the night (what is it with those guys?!?), I went on a card rush for about 3 hands in a row where I took my remaining $40 and built it up to $400! It was a think of beauty. At this point, I had been so engrossed in the game that I had been playing for about 4 hours and it was 9:15 in the morning! Everyone at the table was getting a bit sleepy, myself included, but I took a cup of coffee to keep me up for the ride home and determined to play just until UTG and then leave with the profit I had earned. The second to last hand, I get Ad-Td-Ac-8c. Woot! Aces double suited. I raised and got a whole mess of callers. This was a very loose table and the pots were BIG. The flop came with two clubs and no clear straight draws. I believe the flop was Qc-3c-7d. I had the nut flush draw and runner runner nut flush the other way. I bet again and again got called by a few folks. The turn was 9c. Gin! I bet out and this time a few people folded, except for the angry Mexican. The river was 9d. Uh-oh. I decided that he couldn’t have been calling my bets with a set, right? He’d be raising. So I put him on two pair or a set he slowed down with when the flush came. So I value bet and he popped me. Grrr….I called and saw the bad news. He had Q9. Nothing else, mind you. He needed runner runner perfect to beat me. Ah well. Because I was controlling the betting the whole way, I only lost about $40 or so. I was still up $160 and decided to pack it in.
I drove back to the hotel, in the harsh glare of daylight, and finally put my head to the pillow at 10:30am! I love this town.