Monday 6/6/05 and Tuesday 6/7/05

Posted by in Poker

I woke up Monday morning with no real plans for the day. I of course wanted to say a good-bye to my Vegas love, the MGM Grand, and the day before, BG had extended an offer of horse betting and then dinner with the prof. But overall, I was up for wherever the day might take me.

I got dressed and headed downstairs to the Plaza casino, expecting to see the same sight I had every morning – familiar faces happily degenerately gambling away; albeit a smaller crowd, given that many had flown out on Sunday. But what was this? No one was playing poker?? No one was playing craps? Or blackjack? What the hell was going on here???

A quick phone call to Pauly identified the source of the problem. The gambling was going on the sportsbook today! Well duh. BG had told me that. Monday was ponies day! Our one race on Sunday was merely an appeteaser (emphasis on the teaser).

I hit the sportsbook to find BG, Al, and Eva all hanging around the bar, BG mulling over the day’s racing forum. Soon we were joined by Pauly, Derek, and Chris. Our good friend Boris was working the sportsbook counter and we made many a trip to him in our Willy Wonka like quest for the golden ticket. Alas, our luck was not as with us this day.

One of our first races featured a horse named Gamblen Derek. Again, easy pick there. However, when the race went off, Derek was nowhere to be found. People! When the horse named after you is running, you must be present. Otherwise said horse is doomed. It’s a miracle he didn’t trip over a patch of dirt and break a leg or something. We were all losers with that one.

Undaunted, we tried again. And again. And again. One race at BG’s home track featured a Texas horse. “I have to bet on that one” I said. BG pointed out his poor past performances, coming in 6th and 7th place in previous races. “How’s that different from all the other ones we’ve been betting on?” said Al. “Good point” I said, and placed my bet on the Texas horse (along with the “sure thing”, cause I’m not totally stupid!). Both losers. Did I mention the Texas horse had 7/2 odds even??

At one point, Al bet on a race and wouldn’t tell us his selection because he didn’t want BG to say anything about the horse to jinx it. We got him to cough it up though, because this race we all decided to bet on a different horse just so one of us would be a winner. I do believe the lovely Eva was the winner of that race.

It was a fun time, sitting there at the bar with this great group, piling up little white slips of losing tickets, listening to BG talk about track conditions and pay outs; eventually succumbing to -EV and being the last one to give in to video blackjack. (Stupid video blackjack). We decided to head over to Caesar’s where we would be meeting the PokerProf in a few hours, but there was a race coming up later that had two horses in it that couldn’t be missed, so we stopped off to visit Boris and made a bet on Gift of April and April Afternoon – guaranteed winners, right?

We all pile into two cabs, me, Eva, and Al in one; BG, Chris, and Derek in another. We arrived first. (Not that we were encouraging the cabbie or anything…) We hit the sportsbook where I learn from Al and BG that in Vegas, you can bet on anything. Wanna make a bet on the Texans winning the SuperBowl? You can. (I admit, I was a little tempted. A $2 bet would pay out BIG.) Innocent me was baffled. How could you bet on such a thing when the season hasn’t even begun? And who the hell would do such a thing?? I mean, wait for a game at least… But then, that’s not gambling, and that’s not Vegas.

Chris and I, being the poker fiends that we are, are looking for the poker room. Of which Caesar’s has none. (And they call this place a casino…) So we decide to head off to the Bellagio, agreeing to meet back for dinner later.

What? I’m going to miss my namesake horse race you say? Break my rule, you say? Yea, well – it’s poker. With my buddy Chris. And it’s my last day in Vegas. The horses are just gonna have to take one for the team this time, OK? But true to form, they lose! Should have called my twin…

As we walk over to the Bellagio, I tell Chris I am more jealous of the LA Bloggers than ever – with their casinos and whatnot. In the past month I have become a poker room addict (happy Fred?) and am really going to miss it. We hit the Bellagio poker room and get on the list for the $4/$8 game. I get seated first, and pull out my card protector and new lucky penny. I’m in the 4 seat, the 3 seat is absent and has been for a while apparently, and what I notice right off the bat are seats 1 & 2 – they’re “pros”. They’re chatting it up about how they just kill Party Poker and how great they are – you know the drill. Much like brown shirt, I decide they must die. In addition, seat #2 reminds me of a man I loved once…that doesn’t work in his favor either.

My first hand I make the Ace-high straight on the turn. Helllooo Bellagio! Don’t really like ya all that much but thanks! Other hands of note:

I look down and find the hammer. I plan to raise, because…well, I’m kooky that way. However, before I get a chance, 1 seat raises and 2 seat re-raises. 3 bets to me with the hammer. I call. Flop is worthless to me, so when it’s bet to me, I fold. After the hand is over, 1 seat and 2 seat are discussing it (cause they’re pros, remember) and 1 seat asks what I had. “I had 7-2 off actually” is my reply. “There are very few hands I’ll call a raise with, and that’s one of them.” Oh a good laugh they had over that one. Just you wait Henry Higgins…

3 seat finally comes back and takes his chips, and leaves table. Well WTF? Why couldn’t you do that 10 minutes ago?? Chris had been seated by this point, but he could have been seated earlier…grr. Anywho, guy sits down in the 3 seat, and his buddy sits down across from him in the…what? 7? 8? seat. He starts talking about how his buddy has rivered him all night and all into today. Ha. Funny. I never hear that shit. I have the button, dealer deals. Except…I only get one card. I only realize this after all the action has been completed (blinds, calling of blinds) and it’s on me. Dealer says “Oh” and gives me a card. I ponder WWFD for a moment and then decide it’s not a big deal since it’s the card I should have gotten anyway and I’m still acting in turn like normal. I end up with Jc9c and decide what the hell and limp in. Flop 4 to the flush and bet it out. Make flush on turn, bet. River, bet. Win hand. 3 seat tells buddy “Hey don’t worry, she’s going to river me today”. I inform him cooly “Actually it was the turn.” We then debate it a bit, but eventually he remembers that yes, it was the turn. 3 seat becomes my biggest contributer to my shark rep at this table – previously they were all about checking for a free card – no way with me – if I had a piece of it I was betting it, and every time I bet, he’s commenting on my aggression. He’s also laying down hands way too easily.

Hammer again. 2 seat raises. I call. By this time 2 seat is mildly tiltly, no longer the pro at the table. I’ve grown to like the 1 seat, he no longer has to die. I pair the 2 on the flop, bet it out. Flush draw arrives on the turn (not mine, mind you, it’s just there), bet it out. River comes to complete said draw, I bet. 2 seat thinks…thinks…then mucks. I show my cards and say “Remember how I said there were only a few hands I would call a raise with?”. We are now fully tilted and re-buying.

This was by far the most aggressive I had played, so I actually didn’t leave a winner. Because it was still casino poker. Because when I got Queens and raised it up, and got callers, and a King hit the flop, I knew I had to get out. And sure enough – not only was there one King out there, but every other fucking one. Kicker contest between K7 v. KJ v KQ. OK, one of you should not have been calling my raise…

Chris comes to get me, and helps me rack up. By this I mean he carried off half of my chips, disappearing into the poker room crowd, having spied some Full Tilt poker pro in the middle of the room and wanting to say hi. “I knew you’d understand” he said. Of course I did. (You know it wasn’t Phil Gordon, or else I would have left my chips at the table and beat Chris there by a mile).

We head back to Caesar’s, sharing our table tales as we go. We wander around the Forum Shops looking for the damn Animatronic Zeus, of which no one in the Customer Service booths has apparently ever heard of. “It’s either that one there or the one down this walkway here.” OK…thanks. We call Al & Eva and find out they are at neither. We all meet up, are joined by the Prof, and then head off in search of dinner.

We arrive at this posh looking restaurant called Boa and take a quick look at the menu. All are agreed it’s good and so we go in, saying our goodbyes to Chris in the process as he’s got to catch his flight back to LA. BG did an excellent write-up of dinner, as requested. For the record, I also ate spinach, had some of Al’s Foie Gras (that’s liver, people), and some of BG’s tuna. Plus the snail! These are major accomplishments for me. Eva and I also tried the signature cocktail, a cinnamon-infused mixture that was very nice. Gracie and Pablo joined us right in time for the main course, it was great to see them and have them join the party, not that we were doing a lot of talking at that point! Then it was time for dessert on the terrace – which offered a magnificent view of the Vegas lights. Our server Victor took excellent care of us; he and BG bonded over the wine list, he arranged for us to have VIP status at The Foundation Room for dancing that night, if you pulled out a cigarette he was there with a lighter, Pablo wasn’t feeling well so Victor got him tea from a sushi place nearby… Sigh. It was truly an unforgettable evening, not only for the service but for the company. I thank BG for including me in it and the Prof for allowing us all to tag along to dinner.

After dinner Grubby took BG, Gracie and Pablo to the airport and Derek went to the Rio to hang out with Pauly for a bit before he took off. That left me and the Prof. What to do, what to do…

We decided to walk the Forum Shops for a bit, before Prof headed back to the Rio himself and I paid one last visit to my love. Very long story short – I never did get to see my love again. Instead, I got involved in one of the best conversations I’ve had in a long time. We talked Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, the future of blogging, Phil Gordon, why the hell is my cell phone buzzing so much, closed and then re-opened the coffee shop in Caesar’s, tracked down a place to buy a pack of cigarettes, and in general, had a good time.

However, the Prof is a working man, so at about 4am, when the $1500 Limit event was heads-up, he was heading over to the Rio. I was told I could come along, “if I wanted” but that “it would be boring”. Boring? A World Series of Poker Event??? How could such a thing possibly be boring??? It’s the WORLD SERIES OF POKER. Bah. I thought about it…I did have a flight in a few hours. And then there was the MGM…but no, this was my last night in Vegas. And it was the World Series. And this man had a press pass. πŸ™‚ I was so going.

You want to see a 180 degree mood change in a man? Take the Prof from oh…just about anywhere and then put him in the Rio. πŸ˜‰ It’s pretty clear that he’s working very hard to make sure everything goes off perfectly for Poker Player. My heart immediately went out to him and Pauly, because I could see the stress and fatigue in their faces. Me, I was excited as hell to be there – it was the World FUCKING Series after all. To them, it’s a job. I’m the fangirl, they’re the professionals. I asked Pauly if there was anything I could do for him – get him a drink, something to eat, etc. He replied that at the moment, all he needed was to really hit the bathroom. Couldn’t help him much with that. Fortunately a break was called and he could run free for a moment.

Break time over and the tournament was back on. And yea, for the record – limit tournaments are kinda boring. It’s a lot like low-limit casino play – river suckouts keep the short-stack alive so these things go on forever. Still, I got to see a WSOP bracelet presentation live. I got to tell the 2nd place winner “Congratulations”. I got to see the full Norman Chad ESPN winner interview, and I’m willing to bet you won’t, because let’s just say eloquent the winner was not. It was like something out of Entourage, and I got to witness it first-hand. And I’ll never forget it. Thank you Joseph.

After the boys decided to call it a day, they gave me a ride to the Plaza, where I checked my flight departure time, realized there really was no point in even trying to sleep, and packed up. I headed for the airport, found my flight was delayed, and wished I had charged my laptop like I had planned on doing. I dozed off numerous times while waiting for the flight, and when finally on the plane, slept for a couple of hours. (First time sleeping on a plane. Now I know the trick! Stay up all night.) I came home sick and cranky. I began wading through 80 some e-mails and making the transition to reality. Back to work, back to an overly needy cat who just won’t leave me the fuck alone, back to an apartment that needs cleaning (especially so thanks to said cat), back to friends with drama, back to drama with friends, back to a life where I no longer find myself getting up everyday doing something I truly love (no offense Scott). As a friend of mine said to me, “Everyone is happy in Vegas. Vegas is not reality.” I know that. But for a week it was mine, and I didn’t have a care in the world, and I could spend all day doing what I love.

I kinda miss that.