Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Arizona trip report - Part 8 of 8

Arizona Trip Report - Day 8

Viv and I woke up on the late side and groggily got out of bed to get ready for the day. We went down to the hotel restaurant for "brunch", which was really just lunch since it was around noontime. Outside of New York, "brunch", if they have it at all, is strictly a Sunday affair. This whole thing we're used to here of having special breakfast and lunch options available on Saturday or Sunday from 11a-4p is really a Manhattan thing. Too bad too, because the rest of the country could use a few more brunchy type places. I ended up having some crab cake sliders and a side of fruit to start my day and the sliders were excellent! The restaurant, which sits in the resort overlooking the golf course, was a very grand affair, but mostly empty. I suspect the economy has had a big toll on tourism in Arizona, and definitely in the wintertime when it's harder to golf.

After lunch, we headed to Old Town in Scottsdale, which is the main shopping area. This section is done up to look like an old west style town, with two story adobe buildings, wooden store signs and canopys and even a few swinging wooden doors. I think the building actually date from that period, hence the look, but the stores are not sawdust joints at all. There's quite a bit of high end shopping and a ton of art galleries. I was in the market to get a few Christmas gifts for Ali and her family and Viv was nice enough to come along. I wish I could describe in detail here what I found, but Ali reads this blog and I don't want to spill the surprise of her gift! Suffice it to say, it's very beautiful and in excellent taste (Viv helped pick it out, natch). I also got some nice items for her sister and mother. Amazingly enough, everything I got them was purchased from the same store, the Four Winds Jewelry store in Old Town Scottsdale. If you're in the area and looking for tasteful version of southwestern style jewelry (no clunky ugly turquoise here), I highly recommend it.

As we were walking around, it occurred to me that I could probably use something for myself too, as a memento. I decided on getting a money clip, which I've never used (I have a George Costanza wallet), but which my brother has recently convinced me to try. But not just any money clip; I wanted one with an Eagle Dancer on it. In the hotel we were staying at in Scottsdale is a 3 foot sculpture of an Eagle Dancer, which is a spiritual symbol for the Hopi Indians who populate this land. The sculpture was great but a little freaky. It looked like Iron Man, circa 1966, with feathers running along his back and arms and an eagle mask on his head. Viv, Chris and I took a picture in front of it and it intrigued me so much I thought a money clip with that symbol on it would make a great memento of the trip.
(This is not the sculpture, but you'll get the idea)

Alas, there was none to be found. After dragging Viv into more than half a dozen stores, I couldn't find a single example. Too bad. I'll try Ebay or Google next.

Our shopping trip was short and purposeful, and though I really wanted to peruse the galleries, I could tell that Viv was itching to get another crack at the $2-$5 tables. Besides for which, the galleries were showing mostly southwestern art in their windows and I hate southwestern art. Native Americans and wolves make for really bad artwork. I like the works of Frederic Remington, and a few other painters and sculptors of the western genre, but I mostly detest what passes as southwest 'artwork' these days. The test I normally apply here is, "Do they sell this in the mall?". That weeds out a vast majority of the crap sold as art these days. My next test is, "Is this the work of an 'artist', or somebody who paints for money?". That weeds out most of the rest. With few exceptions, the universe of works that remain can be considered 'art' in my mind, though my own taste and preferences lead me in a particular direction. Oh, one more thing on this subject; There is a special place in hell devoted to Thomas Kinkade, the self-styled "Painter of Light". Vermeer, and the rest of the Dutch school, knew how to paint light. This guy is a total hack. If you own a Thomas Kinkade painting, you are a tool and you have zero taste. Here endeth the rant.

So we made our way back to Casino Arizona and went back to our respective tables; Viv to the $2-$5 and me to the $1-$2 table. I don't remember how I did it, but I managed to run $160 into $360 by playing tight and conservative. For the life of me, I can't remember a single hand during this little session, but I was playing well and getting paid off when I had it. After 3 hours, I picked up and Viv and I, and her friend's friend Larry, all went out to dinner at The Mission in Old Town Scottsdale. The place had been recommended to me by more than a few locals and it was great. In addition to having a very young and hip club vibe, the food (Nuevo Latino) was outstanding. We had a great time chowing down on the local cuisines and after graciously stuffing ourselves, at a slow and even pace, we were ready to attack the casino again. I went back to another $1-$2 table that was looser and more aggressive than my previous one. I waited for hands and finally got lucky with pocket Kings. I was in the SB and a few people limped (a rare occurrence). I popped it to $15 and got re-raised by the BB to $45. It folded back to me and I slid out $100 total. He insta-shoved for his stack of $240 and I quick called. He sighed audibly and said, "you got me" and flipped up AQo (?!?!?!). Granted, it was 2:00a when this hand occurred and he was tired, but really? After 3 bets PF you shove with AQo? Man, that's bad. I turned over KK and the flop came K42. A guy said, "Oh man, I folded pocket fours!" before his friend pointed out I had hit my set anyway. A 2 on the turn boated me up and closed the deal. The guy got up and said, "Oh well, I wanted to go home anyway". What a nice gift!

I held on to my profit for the rest of the night, not going up or down. One hand where I could have made an additional $200 bothered me for a bit. I had JJ, again in the SB. Again three people limped in. I raised to $20. This was a very big PF raise for this table, so with just three limpers, I expected to collect the blinds and move to the next hand. But no, two players completed their limps and called. Hmmm... I was first to act on a flop of T52. A seemingly harmless flop. I put out $30 and the first person called! The second player...min-raised to $60! WHAT. THE. HELL?!? So now I was faced with a conundrum here. I was either ahead of two players or way behind. If either have an over pair to me that they're slowplaying, I'm toast. If either have a set, I'm toast. The only way in which I'm good here is if one has a flush draw and one has top pair. If that's the case, I have to basically shove to drive out the flush draw and hope that the guy with top pair likes his hand enough to call! But what if I do that and both players get committed to the hand? In that case, JJ is a dog to stand up to two hands. So I did the prudent thing, and folded. The first caller called the min-raise to $60 and the turn was a brick. First player checks and the min-raiser shoves for $140 more. The first player thinks about it and calls and shows AT (top pair/top kicker), the raiser shows A4 for a useless over and a flush draw! The river bricked and the AT took down the big pot with a pair of Tens. It made me sick to think about it, but I have to think that 8 times out of 10, faced with the same situation, I am well behind there. I posed the question to Viv, "What would you have done?", and the answer was "Raise and find out where you stand". Of course, that's what she always says. My problem was that I'd have to raise to $160 in that scenario and I'd have about $200 left behind. If one of the players then shoves for $400, I'd probably have to fold. But if I call and he shows a set, I'd be the moron who stacked off on an overpair. As a wise man once said, "Don't go broke on one pair". Makes sense to me.

I cashed out at 1:00a +$240, which is perfectly fine for me. For the rest of the night, until 6:30a (nice cracked out session!), I played $3-$6 O/8. They had a Monte Carlo promotion going, which meant that from 3:00a through 9:00a, they had high hand one-time jackpots for any quads, a straight flush and a royal flush. Quad deuces through 9's paid $400. Quad 10's through Aces paid $450, a Straight flush paid $500, and a Royal Flush paid $599. Each hand would be paid only once, so once it was hit the bonus was gone. The best part was that they allowed Omaha tables to participate! Obviously, attendance at the Omaha guy was heavy and the table was full for the entirety of my session. The locals liked this promotion so much that even the straight hold'em players switched to $3-$6 O/8 for that time period. A new O/8 table opened up at 4:00a!!!! While, 4 players at my table did hit a bonus, I wasn't able to capitalize. I flopped sets 6 times but couldn't quad up. I had straight flush draws twice and a Royal draw once. The Royal draw was a sick wrap. I had A2KT in my hand. A great PF Omaha hand, but I didn't raise it. In fact, no one raised. The unwritten rule for this promotion is to come into the hand only with eligible hands and then limp and check the hand all the way down, betting only if the board can't make a bonus. The reason is that if you bet other people out of the pot, the hand might not complete to the river and then a winner won't get paid. So my flop with my big and unbet hand is QJ4. I flopped a wrap Broadway draw, two straight flush draws and the Royal draw. But none of my cards hit. In fact, I didn't even get the low, nor did I make a straight or a flush! The board ran out 24 for an awful hand and I mucked. Yeesh. Still, the promotion was a lot of fun and I only left because I was super tired and Viv and I needed at least a few hours before going to the airport the next morning...errrr, this morning.

We cashed out, drove to the hotel, slept for 3 hours, got up, checked out and drove to the airport, boarded the flight and landed in JFK about 35 minutes late but without any other issues. Oh, as we drove out of the casino, I took this picture:

Viv and I, the night before had actually seen these wild horses a few hundred yards off the road. It was an amazing sight to see them grazing in the desert grasses.

It had been a tremendous trip, both profitable (+$930) and interesting. I really would like to go back to Phoenix and Scottsdale because I feel like I missed a good part of the city and it might be worth seeing. It's no New York, true, but few are. Actually, none are. Still, it looks very pleasant. Maybe I can take a golf outing with someone?

My next trip is already planned for March. I'll be flying into LAX and taking a week to drive up the coast into San Francisco. I can't wait. I'll be in Paris for New Year's with Ali and then a long winter until Los Angeles.

And that's all she wrote for now. Join my dead pool!!!!


ASG said...

Does that profit include transportation and lodging, both what you used and what you canceled without a refund?

Jamie said...

No, the profit is indicative of my poker playing only, not my overall profit/loss. A full accounting of the trip's P/L would go something like this:

R/T flight to Phoenix: $270
Rental car (Phoenix): $280
Lodging costs: $600
Meal costs: $250
Cost of gas: $110
R/T Flight to Farmington, NM: $200
Rental car (Farmington): $40
Holiday gift shopping: $400
Total Costs: $2,150
Profit from Poker: $930
P/L: -$1,230

Costs are approximate, but pretty close to accurate.

The Poker Meister said...

Great trip report! I've played at the Desert Diamond in Tucson - found the NL (spread limit) games to be very easy to very hard, depending on the day. You're right about El Centro: it has the highest unemployment rate in the nation, and is a pretty dangerous area. I'm going to Monterrey, CA (San Jose area) in January; I plan on scouting out Mortimer's Card Room, Banker's Casino and the Marina Club... will let you know the feel of those places when I get there.

Memphis MOJO said...

Terrific report, thanks for sharing!

ASG said...

Not bad at all. The only reason I asked was your TR started with a lot of "I skipped these hotel reservations and stayed here instead" and had a canceled flight in there.

Jamie said...

Thx for the comments guys.

ASG - Skipping the 'hotel' reservations usually isn't too bad of a hit because I use Hotels.Com and I can cancel most rooms without penalty if I give them 36 hours notice. Also, I generally book myself into $45/night rooms, so even if I want to change my itinerary at the last minute, it's not too bad. Obviously, some flexibility was needed for this trip!

BWoP said...

Thank you for taking us on your crazy journey! There's no way I'd travel to half of the places you went to, particularly via some of the more dangerous driving routes :-)

I hope to see you in Vegas soon!