June 30, 2011

Vegas Trip report!

My apologies for the big gap in time between blog posts, I went on a bit of hiatus after my trip to Vegas, and since getting back on the online-poker grind I've been super busy. I realise there's a lot going on in the poker world right now but I think my Vegas trip report is long overdue, so here it is (major tl;dr warning!).

Day 0/1 (8th/9th June)
I drove down to Gatwick airport the night before my flight, as I like to side-step any panic-travel on the day caused by traffic and such. I also wanted to make sure my son Clark understood I was leaving, rather than sneaking off at 5am, so I said goodbye to him before his bedtime which ranks pretty high on the hardest-things-I've-had-to-do list.

The flight was pretty standard, although I seem to forget how long a 10-hour flight even though I've been on a few of them. At least I scored some run-good by being given an emergency exit seat, so ship the infinite leg-room as well as not having to worry about disturbing other people when you really need a piss :)  ... I also caught a really funny film, Just Go With It, and presumably embarrassed myself a fair amount putting my girly-laugh to good use.

I also scored some more run-good that fellow poker pro Alex Martin, who has been a friend of mine on the circuit for a few years now. We ended up sharing a taxi to my hotel, as he was at a loose end as the guys he was staying with weren't expected for a few hours. We met up with Mark Long, who had kindly offered to let me share his room whilst in Vegas which I snap called due to wanting the company, and my 'inner nit'. His 'inner nit' had chosen Bally's as our hotel, lol, but it's spot on location wise and he used the old $20 trick, so we had a pretty nice room.

We ended up going out for a couple of drinks and had a nice meal at the Grand Lux Café (portions ftw). We played Beer Roulette (a tamer game than it sounds, we simply ordered each other a random beer off this list of about 25), and I got the bottle Michelob Ultra which has to be the worst beer I've ever tasted, and I'm including Carling when I say that just to give you an idea of how gross it is!

On our way back to the hotel to go and sleep, which sounded like a pretty solid plan given it was now 11pm and I had been awake for approximately 23 hours at this point. Instead we went to this bar/nightclub place right on the strip between the Venetian and Bally's. Alex and Martin were drinking Vodka and Redbull's like they were water (which with all the ice they put in, they may have been), and we kept getting rounds in together, so needless to say I got completely wrecked. Factor in jet-lag and it wasn't looking so great the next morning!...

Day 2 (10th June)
I felt pretty rough and a little shakey (damn Red Bull/vodka) but managed to man-up enough to go and play the $340 Deepstack at Caeser's Palace. I hadn't played there before, and they have a nice poker room. It was kinda eerie though as there the room was jam packed with 300+ poker players, yet was almost silent but for the sound of chips being shuffled. It seems everyone takes these $340s seriously!

I was playing a good tournament, and had a great table. Built up steadily to 40k from 25k when I get the following hand at 800/1600 (200). Seemingly tightish dude opens UTG to 4800. I make it 14k from 40k with AK. He tanks, then jams. I call. He has ATs. I lose. Sigh. I decided to play the $120 turbo after busting as it seemed the easiest thing to do, and bust that jamming 95s on the button for 15 bigs or something after an old guy limped the cut-off. Big-blind rejammed with 88 and I didn't get there.

One thing about Caeser's is, it is bloody freezing in there with air-con on. It seems in Vegas you have to make a choice between wearing sufficient clothing to not die of hypothermia inside, but melt in the sun outside, or be comfortable(ish) in the heat outside, or die of said hypothermia. I was feeling pretty ill when I came out of Caeser's (damn Red Bull/vodka), and I thought walking outside in the warm and getting something to eat when I hadn't had much all day would make me feel better.

So I headed to Fat Burger, which is this awesome fast-food joint I discovered when I went to Atlantic City a few years ago, and now make sure I go to a least once when I'm in the States. Unfortunately everything in Vegas seems to look closer than it actually is. I knew Fat Burger was opposite the Monte Carlo where I stayed last year, I knew the Monte Carlo was next to the new City Centre complex. I could see the City Centre complex from Caeser's, therefore I deduced it wasn't that far. 30 minutes later, after fending off a gazillion people trying to hand me hooker leaflets (invasion of personal space or what), I get there feeling rather worse for wear. I only manage to eat half of my amazing burger as I'm feeling pretty dodgy now.

I decide to try and get a taxi back to the hotel as I didn't think I could manage another epic walk. So I walk the opposite way up the strip, which might seem illogical, but I couldn't think of anywhere I'd passed to easily get a taxi. Of course there's no where easy the other way either, so I end up walking through MGM (which is bloody huge) to the monorail. By the time I get to my hotel room, I've probably walked about the same distance it would be to walk back anyway, and been charged $5 for the privilege! Sigh!

So I get back to my hotel room and I'm nearly dying. Longy is feeling a bit rough too, but it's Friday night in Vegas so we decide to do what most other people presumably do there on a Friday night. We went to bed at 8pm and slept for 13 hours. Lol.

Day 3 (11th June)
I'm feeling so much better after my monster sleep, although I do have a banging headach. Longy says there's a Seven-Eleven just behind the hotel so I go to buy some paracetamol. Except American paracetamol is pretty weird and not called that, so I'm taking these little orange pills that I recognise only from Wayne's World (probably not a good sign). We go and grab breakfast at this fairly budget looking place, but it was pretty awesome value for a breakfast and recommend it, it's at Ellis Island Casino, and it seemed really popular, there was even a small wait to get a table. I had eggs, toast, some dodgy potatoes and a ham steak that Homer Simpson wouldn't have been able to finish (given that he isn't real), pretty sweet for $5.

Being the nits we are me and Longy decided to take advantage of the free-shuttle between Bally's and the Rio, seeing as we passed it on our way back from breakfast. We were going to register for the $1500 WSOP Event, which was the biggest event I planned to play. We thought we'd got there in plenty of time to make the start, but sigh, there was a solid hour long queue to sign up and we ended up missing half of the first level.

I couldn't have got off to a much better start as I received an early Christmas present. With a 4500 starting stack and blinds at 25/25 this hand comes up. UTG raises to 75, 1 caller, I get KK in MP and 3-bet to 225. UTG 4-bets to 450 and caller folds. I decide to just call as I figure a 5-bet looks too strong at this point. The board comes down a 567 rainbow.  He leads out for 750. I want to get the money in now with this flop but I decide to make it 1800 rather than shove, just trying to look a little weaker like I might have TT and fold to a shove or something like that. He pretty swiftly jams. I'm pretty much sigh calling here as he would play AA this way, maybe he has a set or 88 which I'm not exactly crushing. I'm kinda hoping he couldn't fold JJ/QQ, but with half my stack in the pot, I'm never folding. It turns out he has spazzed out with ATos. I guess he put me on TT/JJ and was doing his best to rep KK/AA. He doesn't bink.

I pretty much maintain my stack for the next couple of levels, with few interesting hands. Then I get this hand at 75/150, about 3 hands after being moved to a new table: I open to 375 with AKss in MP. The SB 3-bets me to 1050. All I know about him is he has a lot of chips infront of him (at least 20k), so I figure it's fairly likely he's been either playing aggressively or donking around. Playing a ~9k stack I could shove, but decide to give him the chance to 5-bet jam on me, so I 4-bet to 2475 with the intent of snapping if he jammed. He flat calls. This kinda sucks but only until the flop comes down AJ5 rainbow, which I'm obviously super-happy with as I'm now never folding which makes things easy for me. He checks. I bet 1475 to try and induce a jam, but he again just calls. The 6d hits the turn, putting backdoor diamonds out there. He checks again. I have just under 5k left and the pot is now ~10k. I bet everything except my 25-chips, so effectively shoving. Once he starts tanking I'm pretty happy I'm ahead, but then 2 minutes later he jams. I obviously snap. He shows AThh. So I'm pretty damn happy. I'm a 94% favourite in the biggest event I'm playing to have 4 times average chips and be in good chip posit...oh sfhg£$76yugczxcawqnsv4tghfghsg. Ten on the river.

Poker can be brutal. I'm such a nit when it comes to taking shots but the one time I do I get three outered in a sick spot. But meh, obviously this kind of thing has to be expected when you play live donkaments so although I'm sufficiently bummed it's not like it's a huge deal. A few years ago this might have induced me to go on some Vegas-fuelled Bajungi tilt, but I'm far too sensible for that these days.

Longy bust out with Kings shortly after me, and both at a loose end we headed to the Venetian to try and catch Simon Galloway, who was super helpful to me in his role in charge of admin stuff at Team Moshman, who I used to coach for. We had spoken to a lot, but never actually met. We ended up going for a meal with a bunch of the Team Moshman guys, including Collin himself, and his wife Katie Dozier. It was kind of one of those situations where there's a shit-load of you round a table, and you only get to speak to the person next to you/opposite or whatever, but it was nice to meet all of those guys and put faces to screen-names so to speak.

Rather fortuitously we also bumped into David Nicholson in the Venetian, who posts on Blonde Poker, and who I'd met once before at Dusk 'til Dawn. It turned out he was staying with my good friend Stuart Rutter and some other poker players (including the legend that is John Eames), in their ridiculously sick house.

And when I say ridiculously sick, I mean it. John Eames' room alone consisted of a bathroom with 3 sinks, a kitchen, a living room, and a wardrobe that had an upstairs as well as a downstairs!! They guys joked that he'd only brought 3 polo shirts with him, lolz, a bit too much closet space then! They had a sweet pool, jacuzzi, a gym, a huge TV and best of all, a butler! He wasn't exactly you're sterotypical 'Jeeves', he was a nice but quite abrupt American guy they jets them all around. Here are some pics of the pad:

We started off the evening by playing "The Apprentice" drinking game (which we watched on Stu's computer monitor in the lounge through the magic of BBC iPlayer and a VPN), whereby you had to be drinking whenever the contestant you were given talked, and I got bloody Melody who whouldn't STFU! Fortunately I was fairly on the ball to the 'holding your glass in the air whenever something cringeworthy gets said' so avoided the double shots of rum forfeit on that, and thank God Melody was't fired as the forfeit for that was a dirty drink with mixed spirits and some Tabasco sauce thrown in for good measure. Ugh!

The rest of the night was very much a mix of balla and fail.

Fail: We all headed for Henderson of all places, these two lasses that a couple of the guys were friendly with wanted to go to some gig there. Some of the guys get a taxi and me, Dave, Longy and Stu get ferried by the Butler there in a sweet ride. So we go to this budget casino and of course not everyone has passports and can't get into the gig. #fail! Stu resorts to doing a one time punt on red, he see's the wheel wrong and celebrates when it comes in black! Oops! It's like not realising your opponent has backdoor straighted when you think your overpair has held!

Balla: We head to this closed off bar and get a table and Stu gets in some champagne for everyone, including a bottle of Cristal! Sick life!

Dave Nicholson, David Dial, Stu Rutter, Me, Longy, Lee Davy

Fail: Upon leaving this place to head for the trip we try and get a taxi outside. Zero taxi's turn up over the course of the next half an hour. Rather than thinking to ask the casino to ring one (we were rather drunk by now obviously), we decided to try and hunt one down on the main road. No bloody taxi's came past. Stu resorted to offering a guy with a pick-up truck $100 to take us in the back of his truck lolz. That could have been fun/dangerous! Stu gave him a $10 down payment and we sure saw him again! Finally after about 45 mins a taxi finally came past and we managed to head to the strip.

Balla: We went to a club called Surrender at Encore. It's now 1.30am and to get us into the club and get a table with bottle service, Stu claims that his name is Joe Hart and all the Man City players are desperate to get in. It seems to work as we're soon in this sick club, with hot girls dancing all over the place on poles, getting bottle service at this cool table. We spent the next few hours chatting it up with the randoms who thought they'd take advantage of the bottle of vodka/mixers that kept getting replenished on our table.

Was a pretty awesome night all in all, as at least all the fails were pretty comedy, and for a complete nit such as myself, it was interesting to see how the "other half" live! We left at about 5am, and it was kinda depressing to walk back to our hotel as the sun was rising. Well worth it though! Reading Dave's blog post about the night he get going 'til 4pm the next day!

Day 4 (12th June)
The epic night out before put paid to the idea of playing the $1k WSOP event taking place, but I don't think either me or Longy were that bothered after dropping $1.5k the day before. After waking up around Midday I took the opportunity to go to an outlet mall as I was desperate to stock up on some clothes as no-where close-by to home sells the kind of clothes/brands I like.

There was an Ecko store at this place which was my main motivation for heading there. I usually hate shopping but I was in heaven here. I pretty much liked everything. I must have spent at least an hour going round the store, and I ended up with a pile of about 15 things to try on, and bought most of them. Not only were the clothes awesome, but they were ridic cheap. When I do manage to find Ecko stuff in England, it's like £25 a T-Shirt, £40 for a hoody. It was more like £6 a T-Shirt, £12.50 for a hoody in this place, so I was well away. I ended up spending about $400 lolz, and it literally only just all fit in my suitcase when it came to packing my suitcase (I'd packed pretty light for this reason).

I also bought two sweet pairs of trainers from the Nike store. I like Nike trainers as I know that a size 8.5 UK will fit my perfectly every time. It makes the whole process so much easier!

I looked for a toy to take home to Clark but didn't really find anything I thought he'd like, so I bought him a small Ecko t-shirt to look like Daddy. Poor kid, it's probably in his long term best interest to look less like me.

After getting back from the outlet center me and Longy decided just to go play cash games in our hotel for a bit. Ended up just playing $1/2 for 3 hours or so. I got kind of a lame table draw as everyone was pretty nitty and weren't that talkative. I also ran fairly Godish against the one guy I was talking to on my left, so I felt kinda bad. At least I booked some kind of win for the trip, as other than that, there wasn't much win involved, poker-wise! Typical that I run good at bloody $1/2 but nothing else! I won like ~$350.

After a few hours me and Longy went to grab a bite to eat and had a couple of quiet beers before calling it a night. I was glad to get on with Longy so well, I presumed we would, but we kinda hung out a lot so would probably have sucked had we not done. Fortunately he can talk non-stop about poker much as I can myself so we didn't run dry on conversation.

Day 5 (13th June)
This was my last full day, and fancied playing another tournament seeing as I had only managed to play 3 so far. It was pretty slim pickings for a one day tournament, and it turned out the Golden Nugget had the highest buy-in 1-dayer running ($230), so headed there for something different.

This had to be the softest donkament ever played, my expected ROI in that thing must have been ~6526%. Unfortunately a couple of hours in I probably got presumably the best player other than me and Longy in the field on my direct left ffs. The requirements weren't high, but he was clearly solid MTT-er and we got chatting and it turned out he was an American online grinder that had been screwed by Black Friday, so felt kinda bad for him. I lasted about 8 hours but with 3 tables left I went out in a standard spot where I 3-bet jammed QTs for 15-20 bigs from the SB to a button open. He snap calls AT and I obv don't get there.

With Longy still in but short I was at a bit of a loose-end. Figured I'd hang around to see if he bust or whatever. Had a stroll down the downtown street under the roof, which is okay but pretty damn tacky. I ended up deciding the nut thing to do was sit down at a Blackjack table that had hot dealers in low cut tops. I worked out I was losing about ~10-cents EV each hand if I bet $10 every time and thought it was worth it for a perv and a couple of White Russians. Lolz. How budget am I.

Quite randomly I get speaking to the guy sat next to me and it turns out he's some sick online poker player who's wife was still in the tournament. It was quite comedy that he Sharkscoped me from his phone to see who I was, and was pretty gutted that he had my Sharkscope completely crushed. What are the chances of me sitting next to someone playing budget blackjack in the Golden Nugget casino who wins more at poker than me? His online handle is Andressporano, and it turns out his a super-nice guy. He's from Alicante in Spain but has been living in Alaska for the last few years. I had good fun talking to him about poker and such whilst waiting for Longy to win/bust (winning would be good as I had 15%, busting would be good so we could go out and have beers). Longy ended up making the final table, which must have been the lolest final table in history. I think the standard open was 5x lolz. Obviously he got sicked with QQ vs AJ to bust in 8th for peanuts, which was pretty brutal given how soft the table was.

It was like 1am and we were both kinda beat so we just headed back to the hotel, despite the taxi-driver trying to hustle us with hookers/asian massage parlours. GG your tip there mate.

So the pokerz went pretty shitty all in all, which obviously happens a high percentage of the time when you only manage to play 4 MTTs, however soft they are. If I was going out for longer I probably would have grinded the supposedly ridonkulously soft SNG satellites in the Rio, but I didn't really see the point when I was going for such a short time. Live poker is so soft, and it's kinda fun when you're used to shove-botting online, but at the end of the day the variance is just ridiculous. I could probably play the same amount of poker I played in Vegas in less than an hour playing online. I definitely felt pretty motivated to get back online and start winning again after donking off a fair chunk in Vegas.

Day 6 (14th June)
With my flight at ~4pm I didn't have time to do a whole lot before I left. I went to grab brunch with Longy and to say goodbye to him which was emotional. I really appreciated being out there with someone though, as in 2007 I did it alone and turned out to be a big mistake. This left me a bit of time to look for a present for the missus. She had mentioned she'd like some kind of designer hand-bag (joy) so I went to the 'Miracle Mile' at Planet Hollywood that had sod all, and then tried the fancy shops at the City Centre.

I bet I looked a right picture walking into the Prada store with my Liverpool shirt and Umbro shorts on! Felt rather out of place to say the least. You know the items have to be bloody expensive when instead of displaying the prices, they put them inside an envelope somewhere inside. I was about to get the hell out of there and tell Liz I'd buy her something nice at home, when I saw this bag I knew she'd really like. It was apparently in the sale, as it had an even more extortionate price crossed out above the one I ended up paying. This was going to be an epic fail if Liz didn't like it, not that I was going to give her a choice of liking it or not! Thankfully, she uses it everyday now so in about 18 years time it will have been worth the expense.

There was nothing particularly noteworthy about my journey home except it was rather arduous as you would expect.

Arriving home (15th June)
After the epic journey home I could not wait to see my son and fiancée, and I made sure I spend most of my time over the next few days with them after not being there for a whole week. I kind of didn't realise how much I'd missed Clark until I got home. In the time I was away he started speaking in short sentences as opposed to just words, and I was kinda bummed that I'd missed this development, though it might only seem like a small thing.

All in all it was a really good trip. Although it wasn't at all worth it for the poker, I had a good time around that including one really sick night out. However I have to say it was a bit of an epic journey to only spend 5 days in Vegas. I wouldn't really recommend it for such a short amount of time, unless you avoid spending your time playing poker completely I guess. Next time I would definitely want to go for a bit longer, but having said that I don't want to leave my family for the length of time I would need to get the most out of it. I guess I might get my future poker fixes on the European Circuit or something. Still, Vegas is such a sick place to go, and although my bankroll took a hit, it was definitely enjoyable.

Cliff notes:
Went to Vegas....Had a good time....Came back

Could have saved myself a few hours with that version! :)

Share this

4 Comments to "Vegas Trip report!"

Mark said...


Well that's obv lie, as my ego knew I would get the odd mention.

Was good to meet up at last and I had a great 2 weeks even if I did do my bollocks.


Unknown said...

Hehe :)

Yeah man was a good week, thanks for everything. I just read back the "it was emotional" line and it sounded kinda harsh, was just trying to be funny cos I felt like I gave you a bit too much man-love earlier :)

Ramon Sfalsin said...

Hi James
Good Luck!!!!
We made an invitation to you by e-mail.

The Market Examiner said...

Just caught up with this, thanks for writing, great insight into a 5 day poker Vegas fest. Went myself for a stag trip last year and had a fantastic time, would love to go again soon. Maybe next year's main event if I can donor my way through a satellite!