I was on a small mission on Thursday. I wanted to check out some of the new card rooms on the Strip as well as play in a tournament. So when I left Harrahs that morning, I head due south to check out the Imperial Palace, Ballys, and Aladdin.
First stop was the Imperial Palace. I had heard that they had generous comps for poker players. Supposedly you were catching $3 an hour just for playing poker. These comps could be used anywhere in the joint. I had also seen they had some tourneys as well according to various websites. It was roughly 10:30 when I walked into IP. It was around 11 when I left. I couldn't find the damn poker room. I was walking all over the place, up the escalator, down and around to the back. I even went up an elevator into the hotel! I thought that this better be worth it if I do finally find the room. After walking around, I read some of the signs (of which NONE directed you in the direction of the poker room) and headed up a different bank of escalators towards the sport book. Alas, I did find the poker room up on the third floor by the small keno area. There wasn't a sould in the place. All this searching for nothing. If there was a game going, I would have hopped in to kill some time. Instead I walked down one long set of stairs. As I did I thought about when the last time someone actually went down these stairs as that carpet was in some pristine condition.
So I continued on to Ballys. I like Ballys. It is the one place I will screw around and play slots and video poker. I checked out the poker "room" there. Not a room per se as it is a roped off area by a main bar. They had one game going at the time so I piddled around playing slots. Walked out with a nice profit and headed on over to the Aladdin.
The Aladdin has two daily tournaments at 9 and 1. At about 12:15 I plunked my $40 down for the 1pm battle (1500 to start with a $20 rebuy for 1000 more). The Aladdin poker room is smack dab in the middle of the casion. It used to be a dollar slot room. It was a pain to find at first, but after walking in circles I did. I killed some time playing Crazy 4 Poker and video poker. I should have continued to play those games as I absolutely stunk up that poker room. I got a feel for how things would be on the first hand. I was dealt J J about 3 off the blinds. UTG limps in as does the second guy. I raise it up to 120 to get people out. Everyone folds, including the blinds. First limper folds but the second calls. Flop comes Q high. He checks. I bet out 150 and he calls. Turn is a rag. We both check. I bet the river to drive him out. He calls and turns over Q 2 suited. Q 2 suited??? WTF? He called a big bet preflop with that crap! I knew this was going to suck. I get A K a couple of hands later and pay off some knucklhead who caught his set of deuces on the turn. I continue to watch hand after hand these 3 guys call preflop with crap and hit flops left and right. At first I am licking my chops waiting to get a hand to play. But everytime I do, the flop doesn't help me or catches them royally. I finally blow out of it when my Q Q gets busted by a flush on the turn. I knew the idiot had it but I didn't want to play anymore. I was beyond tilt. The crappy play by these guys was getting to me.
But wait, this is a rebuy tournament. I rebuy another 1000 and quickly piss it away when a couple guys call 500 preflop bets and I have A J. I moved all in looking to either make a killing or be killed. Needless to say, I was walking out of the place a couple of minutes later having just played the worst tournament in a long time. The blinds hadn't even done a full round and I was bounced. I did get a Howard Ledered DVD out of it though. They handed out HL's DVD on Tells to everyone who played in the tourney. That was nice but now I had to carry this thing with me as I walked around.
It was about 1:35 when I left the Aladdin. I walked across the street and into the Bellagio to get a look at what was happening in the WPT tourney and see what kind of wait there was. The 4/8 game can be wild there and since it looked to be about 15 minutes, I signed up. I meandered around the edge of the WPT area wathching a bit of play. I saw that Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth and Howard Lederer were among the bigger names left. It was just when I popped a twenty into a video poker machine that I got the call. I went in and bought in for $200. I was going to be seated outside by the tournament but someone else took that seat. So they sent me back into the room and I pulled up in the 3 seat. There were a couple of old farts at the table, the usual regulars who plays like rocks except for one guy who liked to play a lot of hands. Big Manny was on my right. Apparently he is a dealer at the Bellagio. Two spots to my left was a guy who was telling stories about hookers. A lady who liked the action and wanted to mix it up was at the far end. On my left was a young guy and two spots on my right was another younger dude who were decent players. They were willing to lay down hands and spent a good amount of time reading players.
I started just beyond the button and posted when given the option. I was there to play poker, not watch. 4 people limp in when it comes around to Big Manny who raises it. I look down and see 3 5 hearts. Seeing the pot was already building up and figuring no one is going to fold, I call for another bet to see a flop. Flop comes 6 4 K. Nice. It checks around to Big Manny who bets. I call as does 2 others. Turn is a 2, filling my straight. It checks to Big Manny who bets. I raise it up to 16. The others fold and Big Manny calls. River is a rag. I bet it, catch the call and take down a huge pot. Sweet start! A couple of hands later, I have 3 3 and call a raise from the big blind. Flop fills my set and I take down another good pot. I was up $150 rather quickly when they moved our table to make room for their daily tournament. They sent us out to the last table by the WPT event. Though the velvet ropes separated us from the real action, the proximity to these guys and watching them walk around kind of pumped up my game. We would be playing on a WPT table. That was cool. It was also strange that during the table change, we lost 2 players. But the loose old guy was still there as were the young dudes who were helping pump up the action. Unfortunately, Mr Know-it-all took one of the spots. This guy claimed he was busted out on the first day of the tournament. Yeah right! This guy wasn't any good. For example, the first hand he played, he caught runner runner for a flush. He showed his K 6 to beat out the Picture Lady and her two pair. She was pissed that he not only caught the flush, but he had absolutely no reason being in the hand after the flop. And the stuff that came out of his mouth was amazing. There was one hand where he folded his small pair, with a 10 high on the board. One of the young guys had bet out on every street and his hole J J won it. This guy says very loudly that he had him on jacks. Huh? There are 4 different over pairs he could have but somehow, you put him on jacks? I knew he had the overpair, but why do you guess the lowest of them? The table was laughing at that comment. At least Mr Know-it-all bled some chips into the game.
I had stacks of chips in front of me forming a nice pyramid. At this point, I was trying to win enough to cap off the top of the pyramid. Things were going good. I was hitting flops pretty damn well. My 9 9 turned into a straight when the flop came 8 6 5. The 7 hit on the turn and I started raising it to bust K K. I limped in with an A 10 that paid on the turn when 10 5 2 flopped and a rag hit the turn. Guy on my left even called my hand prompting me to show it to him. The lucky 3s came around to me and paid off hugely. I limped in. Flop came 4 4 K. Someone bet it out and I just called with 2 others. Turn was a 3. Sweet. Bettor came out again. I raised it this time and had both callers as well. River was a rag and my full house beat out two pair on two callers. My pyramid was nearing completion. It also didn't hurt that I had a stack of red building on the side.
Then I lost all focus. As the WPT event was going on, and they were shuffling players and cameras around, she walked up and sat down at a table just beyond the ropes. For the next 20 minutes, I don't have a clue on what happened at our table. I sat there staring (I don't think I was drooling) at Shana Hiatt. Oh my God is she hot. TV does not do her justice! I must have looked like a love sick puppy. I then started talking with Big Manny who told me he was done in Aruba with the tour and said she looks even better in her bikini. Of course I had to tell him to watch his tongue. He cannot talk about my future wife like that! He roared with laughter at that comment. That was a line I continued to use if anyone mentioned her name.
Needless to say my game was pretty shot then. I won some other hands, but nothing really noteworthy. Some of the bleeders left the game. Big Manny was gone. The Picture Lady had left as did Mr. Know-it-all. Floorman took over on the far end. I ran into him with A K. He had limped in and called my raise. Flop came J high but with two diamonds. I bet it out and he raised. I called to see the turn. Turn was a diamond. I checked, he bet and I folded. Wasn't about to mess with any flush. I tried limping in with some aces from there but nothing else was hitting. Worse of all, Shana had gone and left me alone. And my pyramid was beginning to crumble. It was time to rack up and get some dinner.
I had to gather 4 racks to gather all of the chips. I walked back into the poker room and was stopped at the podium as they wanted to know what table I came from. I also had runners coming up to me to buy racks off of me. Yep, the big winner was being recognized!!! All in all, my take from the Bellagio was $283. Pretty good for 4 hours at a 4/8 table.
So I went back to the room to drop off the DVD and to get something to eat. I kicked around Harrahs playing blackjack for a bit (there are some people that simply should not be playing blackjack!) before going across to the Mirage. I checked the list for 6/12 and saw there were a dozen names on it. So I decided to take it easy and play 3/6. I bought in for just a hundred and sat down. Right away I noticed some weird things going on. This Chineses lady was playing every hand and showing down nothing or folding on the river chasing whatever she came close to. There were 3 Georgia Tech buddies who were pretty tight and folded a lot but were always giving shit to each other when they lost a hand. The young dude on my right was pretty damn tight as well. But worst of all was the continual suckouts that were happening. No one was folding until the river. And then someone was hitting the miracle card. Amazing. Disgusting. This was some bad poker.
I had the Chinese Lady suckout on me. I had raised it up with K K. Two people including her had called. Flop came J high with two clubs. I bet it again and only the Chinese lady called. Turn was a club. She checked and I bet again. She called. Now I am not sure she hit her flush on the turn. I was rather confident she hadn't. I groaned when the river came another club and now she bet out. I gave the crying call and saw her show Q 9 off. WTF?!?! She sucked out the flush with absolutely nothing. I got a couple more beers in me after that bad beat.
A couple of hands later I get heads up with this crotchedly Greek guy. I limp in with J 10. Flop comes J 8 4, rainbow. I bet it out and he calls. Turn is a 2. I bet and he calls. River is a K. I bet and he calls showing K Q. I say to him in a disgusted tone "You stayed with nothing?". "It was two over cards". Screw you! Yeah, the bets aren't big but that is some stupid poker to be playing. This kept going on. I was more shocked when I won a pot. And those were few and far between. I didn't play long here, maybe an hour or so. This table just sucked. There was little action and worst yet, was the total asshole at the other table.
I call him the Cookie Monster. I wanted to tell him to shut the hell up. This guy was loud and obnoxious and annoying people at tables around him. Every time he won a pot, he would yell "Shift the cookies!". When he wasn't yelling, he was badgering another guy (I hope this was his buddy) to tip the dealer. Don't know if the guy was stiffing the dealer after every pot he drug or not, but this guy was riding him to tip the dealer. "Give him 2 bucks!" "Tip him for losing!". It kept going on and on. I was so tempted to whip the Lite bottle at him but decided that I
1)was too young to be banned from a poker room,
2) didn't want to waste good beer and
3) didn't want to be someone's bitch in the pokey for the night.
So I left and went back to playing blackjack. Overall I sandwiched the day pretty well. Two bad sessions with one meaty one in the middle. From the poker perspective, this looked to be a profitable trip. Now if only I could stay away from the craps and Pai Gow tables.