Jun 30
by Don

So during one of our Vegas romps; myself, Lori, and 44 were at the Mirage playing blackjack at around 2 pm.  There weren’t a lot of people there and basically we were just going to kill some time before we had to go somewhere to do something else.  44 has an incredible ability to plan for things, but not over plan.  He always comes correct with a dinner reservation that is on point with whomever we are running with at the time.  A fancy affair is normally the case at least once a trip, however this was not going to be one of those evenings.

Nevertheless, we are all playing blackjack at one of the handicap tables that are always sprinkled throughout a casino on a few blackjack pits.  You can recognize them because they are always low (like the old school sit down table top video games) and there is always a seat missing for someone in a wheel chair to roll up in.  Cool.

Our dealer had to be, no lie, 80+.  He was funny, but kind of crotchety.  Like, “I have survived WWII for this shit?” kind of crotchety.  It was glorious.  We laughed at him and each other while we were playing and 44even tried to get a picture on his first generation camera phone, FAIL.  However we were happy just playing and killing time.  This was mainly due to the fact that our dealer was slow.  I mean like mind numbingly slow.  But that was cool because we are all having a good time and he was telling jokes and just generally being old and ornery.

It could have been great, but really Paul you are too damn slow!Now contrast this with the experience that Lori and I just had at Caesars. Lori was playing in the main pit off of the entrance (which has some of the best players odds in all of Vegas) and I was watching her and the roulette table next to her.  There were some crazy drunk people who claimed to have a “system” for roulette.  Of course it didn’t work, but I digress.

So Paul (the dealer) is a young man by comparison.  Seemingly in control of all of his motor skills, married, and even had a friend meet up with him during his break.  What he didn’t have was any semblance of speed by which to deal the damn game.  He was so deliberately slow that several players left out of disgust.  It was just so choppy and purposefully slow that it made it hard to even enjoy the “action”.  Now from a player rating standpoint this is a good thing because you are rated on the length of time you play versus your avg. bet size.  However there comes a point where it’s just too slow.  This was that point.

Eventually Lori made a little money and we had to bounce.  Paul was killing the Mojo, and we just had to find a new spot to start punishing Vegas.  That spot as it turned out, was Harrah’s. Thanks Paul for umm, nothing.

Jan 17
by Don

So the day finally came for Lori and I to get on the big bird and head to Vegas.  Seeing how it’s only a couple of days after the US Airways successful “ditching”, everyone on the flight was very subdued.  The flight was uneventful, which was good, and we got into Vegas about 11 pm. 


As we walk off the plane and go to the baggage claim area I noticed something strange.  Where the Prickly Pear once stood there is now a California Pizza Kitchen.  The PP was basically a crappy airport bar with some food options.  We have had to have many a meal there and well let’s just say that it was never a memorable experience.  I guess people finally got fed up with the crappy food and slow service.  Ahh the memories.


We get our bags and head to what will most certainly be a long snaking cab line.  Typically this is about an hour wait and then you can get to your hotel.  Friday late night is by far the busiest time of the week to fly in.  So imagine our surprise when we get outside and there is no line.  In fact there are only about 10 people waiting in total.  We look at each other in disbelief.  I wonder what this says about the city.  We will see.


We get to Harrah’s and check into one of their newly remodeled rooms in the Mardi Gras Tower.  Here are some pros and cons:




-The room has a good layout in that there is a new built in wall unit that saves a bunch of space.  This is huge in that the room is small but spacious enough for two.


-There are two flat screen TV’s and a great new bed.  It could be that I was dead ass tired, but I slept like a baby.


-The bathroom is all new, with granite counter tops and a shower with great water pressure.


-The AC sensor has been moved so you basically have comfort throughout the night, unless you sleep like a corpse and never move.




-There are no HD channels.  Why have flat screens with no HD channels?  Of course the analog channels look weird, but hey it’s cool.


-The toilet flushes forcefully, but doesn’t actually go flush fully.  Good to know.


-The view is of the pool and not the strip.  I really don’t care about that, but some might.


So that’s the skinny for now.  More later as we try and get our act together and get there.

Oct 16
by Don

Well I need to apologize for calling out my bud for not providing a guest post as promised.  Well good  ol’ Thunder Nips came through.  Thanks and Enjoy:


So myself and Kanuck recently took a quick two-nighter out to the motherland.  Vegas calls my  name hardcore about every 4-5 months these days and the only way to quiet the nagging voice in my  head is to just bite the bullet and go.  I’ve been going 2-3 times a year since mid 2005, so plenty of trips over the past 3 years.


This was a landmark trip for me in that it was my first one where I had gotten completely comped at Harrah’s.  Fun factoid: comped rooms don’t even include tax and other service fees therefore making them completely free.  Most people don’t realize this.  See, I’m already saving you money.


As I try to do with every trip, I make a point to do/try new things that I haven’t done on previous trips.  This is sometimes hard for me as I’m a creature of habit and like to stick to the places I love to hang out in during time in Vegas.  With this just being a 2 night trip, I had to maximize my time!


Kanuck had a last minute work change with his schedule so he did not arrive in town until about 4 hours after me so I had plenty of alone-time to start doing my thing.  I don’t mind spending a day alone in Vegas by the way.  Try it sometime; it’s empowering to know you can do exactly what you want to do with zero people to worry about satisfying or anything like that. 


So, I landed, caught a cab to Harrah’s (traffic is getting worse and worse in Vegas btw), checked in, threw my crap down in the room, and headed out.  I first visited the sports book and laid down a few baseball parlays for me and a friend and then highballed it to Bellagio.  Now, I only went to Bellagio for one reason only….the drinks!


Let me preface this next section by pointing out the fact that I am indeed a straight male.  However, ON OCCASION, I enjoy a fruity alcohol-filled beverage.  Fine beers will always be #1 in this Polish heart of mine, but hey…I’m a man of variety.  Through time spent on the message boards at openvegas.com, I’ve learned that many find the drinks at Wynn and Bellagio to be the best in town.  So I went over there for a little slot action for the main reason being to enjoy these drinks for free as I played. 


I first tried the infamous Bellagio cocktail.  I’ve heard many good things.  It was…….ok.  I imagine it’s a big hit with the ladies but it was simply too weak for me.  It’s apparently sparkling white wine with passion fruit puree mixed in it.  Not bad, but not great…very sweet.  However, I then moved on to the strawberry daiquiri and was simply the best I’ve ever had.  Made with real strawberries and a decent amount of alcohol, this hit the spot.  I highly recommend it. 


I also had aimed to try the pineapple mojitos at Wynn but did not get a chance to.  They’re apparently exquisite as well.


I then moved on to Flamingo for a little more slot action and to check the table limits.  Most limits were $10 so I decided to play a random slot and, wouldn’t  ya know it, I hit $300 on a single spin!!  My credits kept going up and up, people were stopping and looking, it was great.  There’s rarely a more uniquely thrilling moment when you hit something on a slot that you don’t know exactly how much you got and it keeps counting up…and up…and up.  By the time it got to 1200 credits, I was flying high!  What a start to the trip!


From here, I went to Casino Royale and had a strong craps session and then went to finally meet up with Kanuck at Harrah’s.  We mostly stayed near Harrah’s, had another decent craps session at Royale where I showed Phil the craps ropes, then back to Harrah’s where we both hit a bad streak of luck on blackjack.  Basic strategy by no means equals winning kids, let that be a lesson.


Day #2 centered around us getting over our respective hangovers and then heading to my favorite Vegas dive…Ellis Island.  EI is a tiny casino off-strip (behind Bally’s/Paris) that has the best cheap food in town.  They also brew their own beer on site and it’s of course free if you’re playing but only $1 a pint if you’re not.  Can’t beat that with a rubber snake.


But, the food…ahhhh the food.  Perhaps the single best BBQ value in the entire world is in this little hole in the wall joint.  I’m talkin’ a half rack of ribs, a half BBQ chicken, two ears of corn, baked beans, slaw, and garlic bread.  The portions are huge and it’s truly mind-blowing the first time you see the plate.  On top of that, it’s actually really good!  AND….$9.  An amazing deal, it could also be easily split by two lighter eaters.  You can also find an easily obtainable buy 1-get 1 entrée at Ellis Island coupons in the American Casino Guide book which essentially brings the meal down to $4.50 each for 2 ppl dining.  They also have a $7 top sirloin steak dinner with 2 sides and a beer.  Another outstanding meal to check out.  Go to Ellis Island, you won’t be disappointed.  Don’t expect much on ambiance though.  Oh yeah, they also have $5 BJ.


After this, we went to check out the comedian Vinnie Favorito at Flamingo.  Very funny, I highly recommend it.  He basically is a hardcore Italian dude who cracks on the audience for an hour.  Sounds simple, but it was hilarious.  Again, you can also find a buy 1-get 1 ticket coupon for this to make it very inexpensive.


After this, I played some more and headed to bed.  Overall, a great yet quick trip.  Funny though, I had unusually bad luck at table games but unusually great luck on the slots.  It’s typically the complete opposite.  For the trip, I did not come home ahead and but came home with over half of my budget still intact.  And that, my friends, is considered a winning trip in my book!

Aug 1
by Lori D.

So Donald is forcing me to write about the Ladies Event in this year’s World Series of Poker.  I say forced because I am still pissed.  But since I have to here we go.  The best thing about the tournament was that it was easy to register.  Went to the window plunked down $1000, showed a picture ID, signed a waiver and I got my seat card.  Easy enough.


Playing in the ladies tournament is certainly different then playing in a regular tournament.  The atmosphere is different, the play is different, heck even the table chatter is different.  In this year’s tournament I started off at a table with Clonie, who is a very friendly professional poker player, and 8 other mom’s.  The table chatter was way too friendly for a poker table.  The ladies were pulling pictures of their children out of their purses and sharing with the table.  They were passing their phones around the table showing off their children (which is illegal in tournament play).  It was just strange.  I would much rather sit there with my head phones on and concentrate on the game at hand, but that is just me.


Plus the tournament itself is poorly structured.  You pay $1000 to enter the tournament and only get 2k in chips to play with.  Yes, the blind levels are longer then normal but it still doesn’t give you much ability to make moves.  Even if you try and make a move it doesn’t mean you will be rewarded.  There is far less aggressive play so trapping is hard to do.  Ladies just will not throw away Jack’s or better no matter what the board or preflop action says. 


In fact, my last hand I had KK and she had JJ and even with an A on the board and my aggressive betting after the flop, she would not let go of her JJ and called my all in.  The river brought a J and I was out.  As I am leaving she is apologizing to me saying, “I never throw away a painted pair”.  I just smile and head for the door thinking to myself how in the world could she call me down?


With how people play, blind structure and the number of chips we start with all being crap, I have sworn off this tournament from here on out.  I would rather just play men who think that I can’t and will inevitably dump their chips to me.


I need a JWB and coke!!!

Jun 14
by Don

Well it’s my turn at the WSOP when Monday comes rolling around with Event 17; a NL Shootout event.  The format is simple actually with only 1000 people allowed in the event it’s a pretty tight field.  How it works is basically you have to win your table and you are in the money.  Then the 100 winners play in 10 tables and the winners of those tables are the 10 to the final table.


So the make up of players at your table is key in this tournament since there will not be any breaking down of tables and no one filling spots as people start getting busted out.  I am sitting in the 3rd seat with 1 and 2 empty to start the tournament.   No big deal as people are often late to start, but they normally show up in short order.


The 3rd hand in the game I get KK one under the gun and I have the guy in the 10 spot betting into me.  I flopped another K and now I am cooking. He bets out and I go back over the top of him and put the pressure on.  Well after some time he finally folds so that’s good.  I probably should have just let him hang himself, but it was so early I doubt he would have. 


Well I am raking in my chips and the guy in the 2nd seat shows up, it’s Umberto Brenes.  Oh great, the Shark is at my table and now it’s going to be that much more difficult.  Umberto is actually a great guy who is pretty genuine.  He played very solidly and didn’t really try anything on anyone, but you know he probably could have if he wanted to. 


Now we are two hours in and the 1st seat is still empty.  We have just been blinding it down when guess who finally arrives; Phil Hellmuth.  So now there are two world champions at our table and you have to beat both of them to advance.  Nice.


Phil is just as advertised.  Boisterous and loud, he is immediately mixing it up.  He notes to everyone that both he and Umberto are wearing the “old school” bracelets from their previous championships.  This is not news to anyone, but thanks Phil for pointing that out.


Well I am the big blind and I wake up with AA.  This is a dream as Phil is the button and I assume that he will try something.  Everyone folds to Phil and he just calls.  He is actually saying that he is trying to trap Umberto and gets him to call.  I of course raise, and Phil then says that he is raising it up by going all-in.  Umberto shows his cards to the other end of the table (which is something that anyone else would have incurred a penalty for, but it’s Umberto and everyone loves him) and folds, which leaves me to call Phil’s all-in.  I do it and flip over my Rockets.


Phil’s face was ghost white as he turns over JJ and when the turn brought the 3rd Ace he gets up and starts to shake everyone’s hand.  I thank him and told him I appreciated him showing up late.  He smiled and walk out after playing for about 20 mins.  Mint.


So now we are down to one World Champion left and it’s the last hand before the break.  I am the small blind and l look down and see KK.  Freaking Sweet.  Umberto raises on the button with the table behind him already folded and mostly gone for break.  Well I just call and the flop brings A-5-J and I feel good about it.  I don’t think that Umberto has an A and surely he is just making a move on me.  So I check and he bets.  I call and the turn is another 5.  I think blank, but I check just to see if he will fire another one.  He does and I call because I am not feeling great about my initial read, but I don’t want to release my hand.  The river comes a blank and I check again.  Umberto fires a 3rd shot that almost puts me all in.  I now am screwed.  Either my read was right at the start and I have the pot, or Umberto actually has an A and I am basically done.  I call and watch Umberto flip over A5 for a BOAT!  Haha.  Umberto milked me like a cow all the way down and I donked off basically all of my chips.  I come back from break and go all-in with a J10 and get bounced by Q9.  Anti-climatic for sure.

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