Monday, June 16, 2008

Back From Vegas Craziness

Well I'm back from a truly crazy weekend in Las Vegas. Let's just say it feels grrrrreat to be back at the office wearing my tie here on a Monday.

Speaking of Monday, before I forget:

Once again this week for Mondays at the Hoy at 10pm ET on full tilt (password as always is "hammer") will see us playing shorthanded no-limit holdem, and once again the payout structure will be awarded in $216 increments as buyins to this Sunday night's 750k guaranteed to the highest-finishing lawyers players in the MATH. I think we will keep this payout structure for this week and probably for next, but I am going to rethink things for the July tournaments and see whether continuing with the buyin payout format makes sense or not in a world of freely exchangeable $T for tournament buyins.

So, about Las Vegas. For starters, let me just say that this was without a doubt one of the craziest weekends of my entire life, in a way that I did not at all expect when I left for Sin City on Wednesday evening. I've already written about my World Series of Poker experience, which I will get into a little bit more below but which in general did not end with the cash or the lasting to Day Two that I had been looking for and expecting. After the WSOP, as I woke up on Friday, I guess I had had higher expectations on myself than I thought, in that I didn't really feel like playing poker much in the a.m., with thoughts of my WSOP first-day bustout still fresh in my head. My brother had gotten in to town along with another old friend of ours on Thursday afternoon while I was busy folding through my table at the Rio, and then on Friday morning (the Morning After) super early my little brother showed up unbeknownst to me along with a couple of other longtime friends I haven't seen for ages, and we proceeded to have a proper bachelor party for my little bro all weekend long, as he is getting married in two short weeks. I had had no idea whatsoever that he was thinking about coming, and he finally got clearance at the last minute and was able to score some short-notice e-saver fares on a cheapo airline to make it happen.

Anyways, after the surprise of seeing my little brother out there with us at Bellagio, thanks to some early winnings and a lot of generosity among the people I was staying with there, we had a more or less "limitless" pot of money to play with for the weekend festivities. The end result, among the things I am even really at liberty to discuss in this kind of a forum, was a whirlwind few days full of renting feraris to rive out to red rocks, my second foray on the helicopter ride to the grand canyon, seeing Danny Gans at the Mirage and Wayne Brady at the Venetian, and some infuckincredible dinners at some of the most amazing restaurants I can recall eating at. And with the guys I was running with this weekend, we never even took a taxi once. It was a limo, every trip, every time. Mini-bar in the room, whatever the fuck we wanted. Drinking, smoking and varous other vices were indulged, and perhaps we will just leave it at that.

The only downside of all these people showing up for an impromptu bachelor party is that I ended up completely blowing off the group of bloggers that were out there this weekend. It was great getting to meet cmitch and vinnay and ck for the first time, the very night I got in, who I in fact literally bumped right in to just as I came out of the elevator on my way to register for the WSOP after I got in to the Rio on Wednesday night, which was really Thursday morning. I managed to run in to LJ in the hallways around the Rio poker room just after busting from the WSOP on Thursday shortly before 9pm, so I gave her the news of my elimination and asked her to pass it on to cmitch and vinnay who both were apparently playing at the Rio, while I was heading over to find my brother for the first time at Bellagio. But in the end, Friday we ended up sleeping late and before I knew it there were Ferraris downstairs waiting for us at the valet to head out to Red Rocks, followed by early dinner and then Danny Gans at the Mirage, and going to the Venetian for poker with the bloggers just didn't fit in to that schedule. Saturday proved to be very similar, with a trip to the luxurious Bellagio buffet for breakfast fit in right before our departure to McCarron for the helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon. Then it was back to get ready for our awesome dinner at Prime, where I had literally the best steak I have ever eaten in my entire life in addition to an incredible raw seafood tower platter which I split with my brothers and our other friends. Then we headed straight to Venetian for Wayne Brady, and by the time that show was done, we were into the evening portion of our plans which are not going to be detailed here but which were pretty crazy, especially by my usual standards.

So this was one crazy weekend to me, which began with my deep run but eventual no-cash in the WSOP and which ended up surprising me by covering my activities all through the weekend more or less back to back. And to be honest, in retrospect this weekend was exactly what I needed. Sometimes getting away, away from my stress at work, away from the daily, hour-to-hour responsibilities of the kids, and even away from the whole poker blogging thing, can do a world of good. I know some of my friends in our group are aware that I have been mulling things over with my blog for some time now, and this weekend gave me some great perspective into things and for that I am feeling extremely thankful as I return to the rat race this morning.

I thought I would leave you with some of my overall lessons and impressions from Vegas:

1. As I mentioned in my previous post, I feel that I played too tight in the later portion of Day One in my WSOP tournament. Or maybe too timid, is the more accurate description. I was not wowed about just being at the WSOP and sitting with David Sklansky and red ftp poker pros and whatnot, but I do think I played it like it is the biggest buyin event I play in. Which it is. I'm not sure what to do about that, as one possible answer would be to accumulate more experience playing in large-buyin tournaments, but that is just not something that is going to happen anytime soon. If anything it is getting increasingly harder and harder to get out to play in these large live events, so that is simply not an option to help get me into a better mindset for future WSOP-style attempts from me. So this leaves me for just one real option that I can think of for this problem, which is to find a way somehow to "force" myself to play the $2000 buyin tournaments just the same way that I play the nightly 28k, the 50-50 or any other of the various nlh tournaments I play. This one is easy in practice but very hard to figure out practically how to make that happen. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that playing exactly one live poker tournament in a casino in between annual trips out for the WSOP is probably not the best way to get myself into that right mindset.

2. Not that this is anything new coming from me, but Las Vegas is SO much more of an adult-themed place again than it was ten, even five years ago when I used to be out there 7 or 8 times a year, I can almost not even believe it. There are nude or topless pools in several of the major Strip resorts now (you can check Carmen's archives for more details from several of her casino pool reviews). But there are also these "erotic shows" like "Fantasy" at Luxor, "The Bite" at wherever that is, "Thunder From Down Under" and I think even the Chippendales are all showing regularly at the major resorts nowadays, and several other similar shows as well. That would never have flown even ten years ago when the Strip and the city were so busy building themselves up as a "family" entertainment destination. Now the adult-themed stuff seems to be the norm even among the biggest resorts on the Strip. The Rio has their server women wearing almost nothing in a strappy over-revealing outfit that shows breast as well as their sides, bellies, backs, etc. But the Rio takes it a step further, with the chicks in those outfits actually dancing on the tables in the casino at regular intervals, replete with lighting and loud music to go along with the scantily-clad bodies. It's nothing that I'm complaining about, but it is very noticeable as compared to what the city used to be like when I first starting coming out there in the mid 90's.

3 (2a really). The hookering in Las Vegas is out of control. And I'm just talking about right at the big casinos, the big Strip resorts. I'm not even touching all the strip clubs, of which there are obviously several prominent ones and where I know as a fact in some cases you can get yourself laid if you want to, and if you have the cashish of course. But having spent various parts of the weekend at various casinos on the Strip, I have to say the pace of hookers readily willing and available has never, even been anywhere near as rampant as it seems to be right now. Maybe it's just me not being from Nevada where prostitution is legal in some places, I don't know, but here I am staying at the Bellagio, the ultra-posh retreat for the rich and famous even among Vegas's elite, and I am telling you, if you wanted to get a ho, you could just walk down to the casino and within five minutes or so, you would be able to find one easy (or she would find you). In fact, skipping the casino entirely for a minute, you could just hit the lobby of the Bellagio anytime after say 11pm or so, and you couldn't wait probably five minutes without being propositioned. Right there, right in front of the registration desk, with hotel employees all around and watching the whole thing. It is just amazing I guess I'm saying how easy it is to get laid in Las Vegas if you're in to that kind of thing. I know I've read a million times that hooking is not technically legal within the city limits in Vegas or some shit like that, but these days the personnel who work in the big resorts in the city at the least do nothing to stop it. At most, they even have things set up to actively allow the solicitation to go on, right in front of their noses in very obvious and open fashion. It just seems amazing to me.

4. The Bellagio is fucking nooiiiice. I'm traditionally an MGM / Monte Carlo kind of guy, not needing any of the fancy schmancy stuff to be perfectly happy in any hotel, let alone in Las Vegas with so much other great stuff to do. But even being that kind of a guy in general, Bellagio is still pretty fucking great. The buffet is my favorite of all the big resorts on the Strip, which I was intoduced to last year by Fuel and Iak and Eric before my WSOP run to the cash began. But the quality of the stuff overall all through the resort is just so much better at Bellagio then at so many other places in Vegas. We were in the new Spa Tower at Bellagio, and thanks to my brothers' gambling degeneracy, me and two other guys literally shared a three-huge-rooms suite, each one with its own bed and its own bathroom. It was pretty fucking awesome. Even my suite at the Rio on my first night out in Vegas was actually super fatty -- they said because I was a one-nighter there just to play in the WSOP on Thursday that they were able to upgrade me free of charge. So for under $100 on Wednesday night / Thursday morning I managed to score a 1000+ square foot, two-room huge suite at the Rio, where literally just the bathroom was probably bigger than my first studio apartment in Manhattan. The bathroom alone had I think five "rooms" -- more like compartments, really -- including a dressing area, a vanity, a large marble shower, a jacuzzi bath and a toilet.

The incredible suite at Bellagio was more or less the same setup only larger since it was for three people instead of one, but the thing about Bellagio is that it was just nicer. All of it. The furniture was stained oak at Bellagio as opposed to some kind of formica or some shit at Rio. The windows were true floor-to-ceiling at Bellagio and sported better views, while at the Rio they only extended about two-thirds of the way from ceiling to floor. Bellagio had perfect high-speed and wireless internet access, in each of our three rooms in fact, while the Rio did not even offer this in the room. That one I still cannot believe, in today's day and age. But it was all stuff like that. Everything at the Bellagio is just better than the comparable stuff at the Rio. And don't even get me started on the chicks. Those of you who've hung a lot at Bellagio know exactly what I mean about that.

5. The last thing I would mention about Vegas was the comps. I've been reading all about how the comps Vegas offers to its players have been declining as revenues and profits have slowed over the past year. But that was not our experience. Now granted, a couple of the guys I was out there with play regularly like lunatics and there were four of us staying in the suite they had offered us, but I was still shocked to find at the end of the weekend that the hotel basically comped us for every single thing we had charged to the room during the entire stay. So all three rooms of the fatty suite, all three nights, totally free. Two full meals for 4-6 people from room service, free. Two late-night dinners for four at the Bellagio Cafe, free. Our incredible $585 extravaganza at Prime? Awwwllll freeeeee baybeeeeee. We did have to pay for the two shows we saw at other hotels on the Strip, but otherwise all of our in-hotel expenses were basically totally paid for. And what was cool was we spent a good deal of time talking to the host there about what level of play exactly it takes to have a huge fatty suite and all of our reasonable living and entertainment expenses paid for while we were at a place like the Bellagio. Basically it comes down to playing four hours a day, with an average aggregate bet per hand of $200 or more. That's it. If you come out there and play $200 a hand blackjack for four hours a day, you can have that suite and dinner at Prime and 5 other meals for 4 and they'll take care of it. How awesome is that? Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not going anywhere and playing $200 a hand of blackjack for four hours, hopefully never in my life will I do that. But it's not that much money, in that anyone who is even just a little bit rich can probably pull that off once or twice. By my calculations, I've played quarter ($25) blackjack several times in my life, and in my experience you want to have a good $500 or $600 there to really have some level of comfort that you're not going to get wiped out very quickly in the average situation. So that's about 20 units to play with at quarters to feel comfortable. So, moving that up to $200 betting units, that means you would comfortably need $4000 to sit down at $200 blackjack and play it like you can handle losing for a little bit. So if you've got $4000 to risk for four hours a day at a game that is just barely -EV if you play it correctly (and is a lot of fun to play as well), you can basically live reasonably well for free at Bellagio for a few days. That surprises me that that's all it takes. Not that I'm sitting here with $4000 to go drop at the BJ tables, but I am surprised at how attainable that number seems, in particular at a place like the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

OK that's all you're getting out of me today. I'm glad to be back home after a crazyass weekend in Vegas, bummed that I did not run deeper in the WSOP but still glad to be back home with my family. I'll see you tonight for Mondays at the Hoy on full tilt!

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Blogger PokerFool said...

Sounds like fun. Were you able to play any cash games at all?

Someone must have hit it big in your group, huh? Any details? 5 figures? 6?

9:42 PM  

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