Sunday, August 14, 2005

50th trip to Las Vegas

I just got back from a trip to Las Vegas last week. This was my 50th trip to Las Vegas and probably my last one for a few years since I will be moving there in a couple of weeks. This trip had go be moved up one week due to some scheduling conflicts with the movers, so I made this trip alone instead of with my future roommate, Hendo. His motorcycle had to be shipped out there and stored. Although I went alone, I did get to see Leslie (former Austinite and Bellagio poker dealer, her husband “Big”, my friend Brandon, and “Applied Math” Eric E (whose blog is listed to the right). Going to Vegas alone can be a bit tricky. I tend to gamble too much since I’m not coordinating my schedule with anyone. Luckily, it was a mildly successful trip.

After flying into Las Vegas on Southwest late Tuesday night, I hopped on the shuttle to Dollar Car Rental. I usually book with Alamo; they always seem to have the best rates (around $13/day pretax), plus they only charge your credit card for the exact amount of your bill. Unfortunately, Dollar had the best rate this time, but they pre-authorized my credit card for $350. Yikes!

I drove out of McCarran airport into town via Paradise Road up to Terrible’s Hotel and Casino. I’ve stayed here dozens of times over the last five years. I always get to stay and eat for free here. Playing video poker here gets me all the comps I need. The first night I ever stayed here I hit a $2000 royal flush on my friend Wyatt’s 21st birthday. My last trip here I flopped a royal for $1000.

After checking in, I made my way over to the Palms Hotel and Casino, my favorite place to play video poker. The Deuces Wild progressive machines right next to the front door pay out over 101%. In addition, you get a great view of all the hotties walking into the casino, and its right next to the waitress station, too. Over the next year, I’ll be spending 40-80/week playing these machines.

Within the first 2 minutes of play, I hit a royal flush for $1266 after drawing to KQJ of clubs. Candyland, baby! Boy, I was overdue for a royal here; the Palms had been eating my lunch for the last few trips. After playing for just under an hour, I decided to head on back to my room and get some rest. What a nice way to start a trip! However, after returning to Terribles's later that evening, I proceeded to drop $375 playing 50 cent Jacks or Better video poker and $200 playing at the $1 level. This game only pays back 99.54%; it's the highest payback machine that the casino offers. The reason I play here is because it is so easy to get slot points which I use for free rooms, meals, gas, liquor, and other offers. On Sundays and Thursdays, the comp rate is at 5X points, so I usually only play on those days. $1 of play gets you one point; a weekday room costs 5000 points. Since I play on 5X pts days I only need to run $1000 for a free room night. This takes me less than one hour of play at the 25 cent level and less than 30 minutes at 50 cents. If I play at the $1 level, one hour of play gets me 5 free room nights. Not bad, huh?

The next morning I went back to the Palms to play. Within the first minute of play, I hit 4 deuces which pays $250. I was playing so fast that I didn’t realize what had happened. The credit meter jumped from $102 to $352. It took me a few hands to realize that I had hit it. After playing a while longer, I cashed out so I could meet some friends for lunch. I returned to the Palms later the same night, and luckily hit 4 deuces again. After cashing out at 4:30 am I strolled past the poker room. The Palms has two separate poker rooms. The original room has about 7 tables spreading 1-5 7stud and 4/8 HE with a 1/2kill. The second room used to be the Keno lounge. It has 4 tables spreading 2/5 NL HE. I really believe this is one of the softest spots in the city to offer this game. Although I don't like to play NL HE, there was one seat available, so I decided to take a shot and see if I could make a quick score. I usually try to get my shit all in quickly and double up and leave. I bought in for $220. On my third hand during my small button I had As4s. Six players limped and the flop came Ad 7d 3d. Everyone checked the flop and we saw a turn of 4c. Everyone checked to me so I bet out $30, and I got one caller. The river came 4h. The other player immediately bet $100; I had him barely covered with $178. The only two hands that could beat me were pocket 7's or Aces. There was a chance he could have slow played a set of 7's since the flop was suited, but I figured the chances were slim, so I went all in. He showed 43o for a smaller full house. Candlyland, baby! I won a couple of smallish pots with AQ and another one with KK limping in the SB and catching a King on a rainbow flop. So within about 20 minutes I cashed out $660. So Day 2 ends, and I'm up about $1400 overall for the trip.

I had lunch the next day at Gardunos at the Palms. This is a Mexican restaurant and the food is pretty good. During lunch they offer a fajita buffet with other selections like chicken enchiladas, carne guisada, tamales, rice, beans, etc. It only costs $8.99. I highly recommend it. If you ask for a table in the back room you get of view of the pool area. What a view it is!

Day 3 was a pretty ugly. I'll wait and post it some other time.

It's only 7 days til I leave for Las Vegas and I got a bunch of packing and organizing to do. I've also got to finish an online defensive driving class by Monday afternoon. Boy, am I ever ready to get out of Austin and have a change of pace.

Friday, July 29, 2005


Las Vegas. It's been referred to as "Sin City", "Lost Wages", "The Devil's Playground", etc. My new favorite term is "Candyland". My friend and former boss, Mike K., came up with that saying during a group trip this past April that coincided with the World Poker Tour Championship held annually at the Bellagio Hotel. Five of us flew in on a Saturday night (love those nighttime views of the city from the airplane); our friend Jason had already been in town for two days. After checking into Terrible's Hotel and Casino, we headed out to the Bellagio via the West Valet door near the poker room. Fast cars and fast women as far as the eye could see. Light, one of the hottest and hippest nightclubs in town, is just down the hallway. On a Saturday night, some of the finest looking women in the world can be seen walking past a line of Ferraris and Lamborghinis, dressed up, or as usually is the case, dressed very scantily. So that's why Mike's first words upon arrival were a loud and enthusiastic "Candyland". He hadn't been here for a few years. We're slamming Tuaca shots and winning big at the new MGM poker room; Mike would yell "Candyland"! Making big money playing craps while a beautiful and well-endowed young hottie rolls for 30 minutes at the Palms, Mike yells "Candyland"! Jason hits a $1000 jackpot on the "Wheel of Fortune" slot machine; Mike yells "Wheeeel oooof Fooortune"! Gotcha! Eating Fatburger in the hotel room at 5am after having a "smoke", "Candyland"! This "smoke" was delivered to him by a friend of a friend whom we never even saw while we were at the Bellagio at 2am. Candyland, indeed!
Obviously, living in Las Vegas and visiting Las Vegas are too entirely different animals. I've visited Las Vegas exactly 49 times in my life; trip #50 is right around the corner. I've also lived there for about a year and a half. In my humble opinion, living there is better. Why? Mostly because when people travel to Las Vegas they have a sense of ugency surrounding them, especially if they came to gamble. FYI, Austin, Texas is the largest city in the country that is also furthest from any casino worth mentioning. So when my degenerate gambling friends make a visit, they gamble hard, party hard, and get very little sleep. Hell, some of them will play poker all day and night and then go to their hotel room and play poker online using their laptop and the hotel's wireless interent connection. I used to say that it took me 2 days to recuperate afterward for every day that I had spent in town. Anyway, living in Las Vegas can be very enjoyable, especially for someone like me who is on vampire time. Casinos, shows, golf, concerts, an unbelievable collection of restaurants, Lake Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon, and easy access by cheap flights to LA, SF, SD, Tahoe, Denver, etc.
So, if you're coming to Candyland, let me know. Gamblinsteve also doubles as Chaffeursteve and Tourguidesteve. And as the saying goes, "What Happens In Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas"!