Mar 7
by Don

Pittsburgh Gil was all about this place so of course we had to make a visit.  He is all about beer and has his own site with a great review of the place here.  I won’t try to recreate his review as I feel that he does a great job of telling of all the general tom foolery, but I can tell you that even those who do not drink beer, there is some great food to be had.

If you are in town and want a somewhat different Vegas experience, I would definitely recommend going to the Hofbräuhaus if for nothing else the opportunity to stand up in your seat and swing your oversized mug of beer while singing some crazy German drinking songs and having an overall great time.

Mar 1
by Don


Well it wasn’t quite like that, but getting back to Vegas always does feel like a homecoming of sorts.  I was watching Poker after Dark on NBC the other day and Gabe Kaplan was on and he reminds me how much I loved that show as a kid and how the overarching theme of struggle and survival is so apropos for any Vegas trip.  This one was no different in that there were some highs and some lows, but at the end everyone learned a lesson of some sort and we all had a great time.

So the particulars for this trip were that Lori and Mr. Cub were having birthdays that needed to be celebrated.  Pittsburgh Gil and War Eagle both were down and we had a crew.  5 is always a good number in that it’s small enough for one cab at all times and there are plenty of different things for everyone to enjoy.

Lori and I got out there a couple of days before everyone so we had planned on playing some tournament poker to start the festivities.  We love playing in the Deep Stack Extravaganza that the Venetian puts on 4 times a year.  It’s a well-run tournament that always attracts good players, but at the same time is something that could yield a nice payday if you run well.  The goals are always the same; cash first and then play for the final table.  Seems simple, right?

We play in event 24 which was a $350 buy-in that has a top prize of $18k, nice.  These events are always long and if you are playing at the final table it goes on the following day.  So basically if you can play for about 10 hours you will be in the money and if you can play a bit longer then you could end up at the final table.

Lori plays well and lasts about 7 hours which includes a lot various bad beats along with some great play, but in the end she just ran out of steam.   Personally I am very proud of her as she is always a tough out and as we have seen in previous posts she is no stranger to the top spot.

My run is much more bizarre in that I never really get anything going.  I am consistently under the chip average at about every break and when we get down to about 29 players I am constantly battling to not be the bubble boy in this thing.  So of course I find myself all in with A10 on my big blind for which I didn’t have to call and I could hope to survive, but honestly I don’t like doing that.  I would rather play it straight and if I bubble out then I bubble out.  The button pushes me with A9 and somehow I didn’t get sucked out on and survive in the money.  Step one accomplished.

Now on to the final table, right?  Well something happen when we were playing 6 handed that I like to call the fallacy of JJ.  Basically I tried to squeeze a raiser who had two min callers behind him.  I have JJ on big blind and I shove all in over the top for about $140k worth of chips.  Well he calls with a little less and flips over KK.  Awesome…  I don’t suck out and get bounced @ 19.  I was the bubble after all in that my ouster insures the remaining player that its now only down to two tables and then ultimately the final table.  12.5 hours equals 19th place and regret of what could have been if I didn’t get impatient.  What can you do?

Never fear though, we have only just begun and there are so many other stories to tell…

Dec 5
by Don

Well actually we owe you all (or y’all if you will) a post or two from our quick trip in Sept., but I have been totally swamped as of late and well I have just fallen down on the job!

I will say that there is a large trip planned for Feb. to celebrate a milestone birthday for Lori so stay tuned for posts related to that as well.

Thanks and enjoy your holiday season!


Apr 18
by Don

I still owe you all more from our March Madness trip, but 44 was kind enough to drop a top ten list on us and who am I to refuse such a gift. So without further ado…

1. This year our approach was better (and more profitable) because we got some outside help. We bought a pick pack from an expert on and we also religiously read Chad Millman’s blog on ESPN which is full of sharp money tidbits. We combined their opinions with our own and the mix worked really well. When I got back I totaled up all my bets for the trip and realized I ended up $1500! That mainly happened thanks to a big 3-0 run late on Sunday, the last day of the trip, when I had several parlays in play (thanks Cornell, Xavier and Duke for all covering!). Unfortunately I blew most of my winnings at blackjack, but what can you do.

2. I like money line bets on the underdogs, particularly with the lower seeds in round two. This year the money line paid off very nicely on many second round underdogs, such as Northern Iowa, Cornell, Washington, etc.

3. Conversely, in doing some reading after the fact, I also like the concept of parlaying the money line on a few heavy favorites in the second round. I didn’t place a bet on that this year, and I’m lucky I didn’t, because most people bet Kentucky-Kansas on a money line parlay in the second round and lost a bundle when Kansas was upset. But, in most years, that bet would have worked really well. I will definitely be looking at the odds next year and will strongly consider a second round money line parlay on 2, 3 or 4 of the number one seeds to win outright.

4. This year’s trip was the best we have ever had, because we kept the group small and we all had the same mindset of focusing on the games and our handicapping. Most March Madness (MM) trips get derailed by day two or three, because there are too many late night distractions – night clubs, strip clubs, all night blackjack marathons – and the focus on good handicapping goes away. You can see this easily by going to the sportsbooks before the first game tips off each morning of MM and looking at the crowd. On the first day of MM, the books are packed and everyone is focused on the games. By day three, the books are very quiet before the first games, and the crowd shows up around the start of the second set of games, looking crazy hung over and with no clue who is even playing, much less who to bet on. We fell into that trap in years past, but not this year. Our focus this year helped us come out on top.

5. The Mezz at Planet Hollywood was a nice place to watch the games, but I was really jealous of those who got a secured seat an Emril’s Stadium in the Palazzo. That place is MM heaven. I hope we’ll be there next year. We’ll see.

6. Thanks to Don for tricking the staff at Paris into putting a rollaway bed in our room. 44 and Hollywood appreciated not having to sleep in the same bed this year.

7. All time classic MM moment, one I will never forget: Northern Iowa’s Farokhmanesh taking that three point shot to kill Kansas late in the game when up by only one point and with 30 seconds still left on the shot clock. The Mezz went crazy. Everyone literally freaked out when he took the shot. It was an incredible sportsbook moment. Especially for those of us who had Northern Iowa on the money line!

8. Every year I am tempted to suggest we bring the girls along. I know if Don and I brought Lori and Goldie, it would get us out of some trouble when we got back home. Leaving the girls home alone for 5 days isn’t a popular decision. But frankly, as reinforced this year, it is a necessity. We did the trip “right” this year, because we really focused on the games and we used our dinners and free time each night to handicap the next day’s games. There is no way bringing the girls along would be compatible with this type of trip. Sorry Goldie.

9. There is something about the first and second half lines that make them seem more exploitable than the full game line. I think this is partially due to the fact that very little attention is paid to those lines, so I get the impression they can be beat. I didn’t have a particularly good record betting first halves this year (although Hollywood did), but I want to continue to explore that angle as a possible way to beat the books.

10. Based on my observations of the MM games this year, I am working up a special formula called the “Explosiveness Quotient” that may factor into my handicapping next year. Stay tuned….

Overall, it was simply an amazing trip. There is nothing like MM in Vegas. I can’t wait for next year. I guess the only question at this point is whether there will be 64 teams or 96 teams to bet on!

Mar 29
by Don

So we have our home base of operations established and get up early for Thursday’s action.  We bounce downstairs and over to Planet Hollywood about 1.5 hours before the first tipoff.  It is critical to get our bets in and find a good spot because this first game is our beloved Gators and this will most likely be their “one shining moment” as they are a slight dog in their first round game.

We go up to the “Mezz” and see an incredibly snaked line of bettors waiting to place their bets for the morning action.  We make a quick executive decision to head back downstairs to the actual sportsbook as sure they would have more people working and actual pros manning the booth and not temps who just got a crash course in sports wagering.  So we bounce only to see an almost equally intimidating line there.  Oh well, we are here and we need to get these bets in.

The line moves slowly, but we are make some progress.  I strike up a conversation with this Michigan State alum and he is chatting me up about this year’s team when his buddy comes over and says, “Hey man your dad is up at the front.  Let’s go.”  I didn’t even have time to process what he was saying when Sparty looks at me and says “let’s go!”  So we proceed to the front of the line and cut about 200 people who have been waiting for God only knows how long.  When I get there Sparty and his friend were already smoothing things over with the people at the front by saying that it was his dad and what not and how it was all good somehow.  Glorious.  I had left 44 and Hollywood behind without even a word, but when you have a chance to jump the line, you jump.   They understood.

So after the euphoria of the moment passed, Sparty finishes his thoughts on this year’s team and how he has watched every game that they have played this year and that there was no way they would cover the spread.  He says that this team is all IZZO and fairly light on superstar talent.  Every game is a grind and the 14 point spread was way too much, no matter even if they are playing a middle of the road team like New Mexico State.  He predicted that they would win, but it would be 7 or less and in no way would it be double digits. I thought that he made a lot of sense so that only confirmed that little bit of action I was already going to bet.

That’s what great about this weekend.  Everyone comes out and is a small expert on the team that they follow.  If you can get some real intel as to the feel of a team and not straight homerism then you are ahead of the game.   Well my man came through because MSU only won by 3.  Nice.

If someone was to ask me about Florida I would have said that we have virtually no inside presence and have to have an up tempo game to have success.  They will hang tough, but will probably drop this game because they just don’t have enough consistent firepower to beat a good opponent who has balance scoring.  True to form, Florida put up a great fight and took BYU to double overtime before losing 99-92.  No shame in that.

« Previous Entries Next Entries »