Highlights: I played a lot of poker and ate a lot of buffets. Stayed at El Cortez (Nov 5-6) and Riviera (Nov 7-12) Complete Trip Report with pictures at: www.premierpokertour.blogspot.com WEDNESDAY NOV 5th. Left London (Ontario Canada) with my travelling companion Gina, bound for Detroit Wednesday morning. Paid $287 inclusive for my flight from DTW to LAS on Spirit. Price actually dropped after booking, but it was still cheap enough that i didnt cry about it. Arrived in Vegas without any problems and headed for the Rental Car Terminal. Alamo didnt have a car for us. Actually, they didnt have a car for anyone... lol. The whole place was nearly empty. They would just offer people a car as one was returned. Not what we ordered, but the Chevy Malibu they offered us was acceptable, better than waiting. It was a quiet car, a bit of a pig on gas.. but at 50 cents a litre ($1.80/gal) you can afford to drive a guzzler down here. (Paid $124 / 8 days + $27 gas). 5:30pm Headed downtown to check in at the EL CORTEZ hotel. Room 5567 in the Pavillion tower. $15 a night w/ACG coupon. Room was adequate. Bed was comfy. Some minor complaints: No hot water on second day, shower tub very slow to drain, Traffic noise, big gap around door. It was noisy because of the setup of this tower. Its more like a motel. The hallway entrances are outside the building. The floor material is uneven tile, so the laundry cards pushed by the maids make a racket in the morning. But hey, for $15 a night, how can you complain. Went down to the ElCo casino floor and played out $10 slot freeplay from the ACG book. Burned through it playing Turkey Shoot and Hoot Loot. Every trip I like to hit a few different places to eat and play poker. The first was the GREEN VALLEY RANCH located south of the strip in Henderson NV. Dropped my camera getting out of the car on the way in, oops. No more pics this trip. Putting a positive spin on it, it was my $120 "vegas camera" and not my expensive Panasonic Lumix. The 'Feast Buffet' was good but not exceptional for the price. 2for1 ACG coupon, 2 of us ate for $20. Features: crab legs, mongolian grill, custom pasta station, prime rib, sliced turkey and pork ribs. overall 7.5/10. Obama wins ! Plenty of mixed reactions from players at the poker tables about their new president. Headed over to BINIONS to check out their recently renovated poker room. Its a big improvement. It's quieter, stylish, modern, and essentially smoke free. Rolling office style chairs that adjust up and down. New tables, but someone wasnt thinking too clearly. They ordered tables with 10 cupholders when they play games 9 handed. There was some confusion about who gets which cupholder. But at least it's an improvement over the old tables with no cupholders and having to use those dirty plastic ones that you have to jam under the padded rail. It wasnt set up yet (the room is that new) but a table-based player management system is probably in place by the time I post this. Now all they need to do is upgrade the dealers & floor staff and this will be a top notch room. All staff could use an attitude adjustment. Binions pays $2 an hour in comps. They record them with pen and paper so its a little sketchy that you actually get what you earn. I heard a few stories of them not accurately logging hours. Regular players accumulate hours towards entry into a freeroll ($50,000 tourny. 25hrs to qualify). Update: When I cashed mine out at the end of the week, it was short. Saw "The Duke of Fremont". This guy is a real character. I had actually seen him on a previous trip over at the Golden Nugget. He's always dressed in a fancy suit or tuxedo, usually has a fedora and cane and walks around like his shit don't stink. He comes into the poker room and sits down at $1/2 and pulls $10,000+ in cash out of his briefcase and puts it on the table. When I saw him do this this first time, I thought it was a joke, a casino promotion or something. Usually he doesnt even play any hands, he posts his blinds and folds, then disappears, schmoozing around the casino until he returns a half hour later to post his blinds, then disappear again. At Binions, he never left his seat. He actually played a few hands, not many but a few. I played fairly conservative poker. I had been up for over 24hrs now, it's silly to get too fancy. Finished the session + $90. Hit the 'Lanai Express' inside the FREMONT Hotel before heading back for sleep. Had the 2 item combo plate, rice with orange chicken and mongolian beef for $6. Very Satisfiing The PBR (Professional Bull Riders) were holding their World Finals event this week in vegas, so lots of cowboy hats and belt buckles everywhere we went. THURS. NOV 6th. Temps: High 66F (19C) , Low 46F (8C) Up way too early, 9am. Forgot to turn the ringer for my cell phone off. Went to the FREMONT Hotel for breakfast buffet. 2 for $7.32 with coupon. They have instituted a "one coupon per person per year" policy. 241 buffet coupons are the main (only) reason I have for visiting the Fremont. Good news is, a new year starts soon. Buffet wasnt as good as on previous trips. Less selection. Back over to the EL CORTEZ to put some valuables and cash in the lock box at the front desk. Won + $7.50 on Hoot Loot slots, enough to play for breakfast. When cashing in the ticket, I noticed the ATM fees. $3 + 3.95%. To take out $1000, the fee was $51. Ouch. Bring cash. Drove to the Walmart at Charleston & Jones to get Gina some better shoes. The ones she brought were giving her blisters. I was looking for a replacement camera and some antihistamines. Next stop was the VENETIAN poker room. + $140. Went for dinner and met up with Sonny 'The Money' Rattan and Tom Whattam (guys I know from www.ElitePoker.ca in Hamilton). We wanted to do the SILVERTON Casino buffet, but the line up was long, 1hr +. Sonny had mentioned the Green Valley Ranch had an Omaha tourney thursdays, so we headed there for buffet. Buffet was decent. I had several ACG coupons left, so we all got it for 1/2 price. Turns out the info that Sonny got from the AllVegasPoker website was bogus. Monday is the Omaha tourny. Thursdays is Holdem. We all decided to play the holdem tourny since we were there anyways. Rake was high, about 30%. 26 players. I finished 8th. Tom chopped with 5 left. GVR had 7cash tables going. Three $1/2NL, three $2/4L, one $3/6L. Back to BINIONS to play a couple more hours of poker. ED WOODS from Hamilton was there. I really didnt get dealt much that was playable. + $45. Went back to EL CORTEZ. Won +$11.77 on Turkey Shoot slots, enough to pay for something to eat. The El Cortez Cafe was under renovations. Very limited menu after midnight. 2 breakfasts, salads, fruit, and drinks. No burgers, fries, sandwiches, etc. Breakfast was $3.95 . Home fries were cold, eggs were ok. $11.31 for 2 of us. Rate: 2/10 FRIDAY NOV 7th Drove back down to the SILVERTON for Lunch Buffet. Excellent as always. Awesome desserts. Carrot cake and the chocolate crusted pecan pie are A+. Approx. $9.50 for 2 with ACG coupon. Back third of restaurant was closed off for slot machine storage. Explains why the lineup was so long the other day. At 1pm the Silverton poker room had one table. Just old farts pushing small pots back and forth to each other. The Bass Pro Shops inside the casino always has some good deals. New Balance running shoes $34.95. 1/2 price Tommy Bahama shirts $69. 2pm. Checked into RIVIERA. As a money saving measure, they have installed kiosks for self check-in. It was pretty simple, swipe your credit card and it brings up your room reservation on screen. Downside, you couldnt select what tower you wanted or offer a 'tip' to the staff to upgrade you to a nicer room. Room 934 in the North Mediteranian Tower. Nice pillowtop king size bed. In room fridge, flat panel tv, dressing table (no countertop in bathroom. High shower faucet, plenty of HOT water with strong pressure. In room safe for extra $3 a day. More cowboys everywhere. Lots of SEMA (auto industry) guys everywhere. Supposedly 130,000 people here for the auto convention. Went to the WYNN to play $1/3 cash game. They use $3 chips, which sounds good in theory, but i don't like it. I won + $145 in the first half hour so i took that money and bought into (late) the 7pm $140+$20 deep stack tourny that Sonny & Tom were playing in. Good structure, 30 min blinds and 10,000 starting chips. I didnt last more that about 20 minutes. Only bad beat story in this report ( I Promise ! ). I raise with TT, villain (AK) raises, I call. Flop is T 4 A. I bet, villain raises, I push all in (started the hand with 9400). Villain hesitates only 3 seconds then calls and rolls over AK. Yippee for me. Turn is K. River is K. I lose. Good example why I prefer cash games instead of tournys. In a tourny, I'm out and donkey continues. In a cash game, I rebuy and win my money back from him. On the bright side, the tourny was basically a freeroll using other peoples money from the cash game. Went back to the RIV to freshen up before heading back out. Walked everywhere for the rest of the night so we could get our drink on. Walked directly accross the street to SLOTS O' FUN. Used ACG coupon for a free chili dog and a cold Corona. That is one messy chili dog, bring some moist towelettes. SlotsOfun was very busy place. No service staff at the booth except during day because of layoffs. Had another coupon $15 in chips for $10. Tables were too busy so saved for later. They offer $3 craps, $3 BJ, and the min bet on roulette is 50 cents. No wonder this place is busy ! 1:30am We hiked down to SAHARA, hoping to hit a juicy cash game full of people knocked out of the 11pm late tournament. No $1/2 game, only $2/4 Limit and a single $2/5NL game. I sat down at the $2/5 game, but it didnt last long, broke up within a half hour. Players were weak enough but they kept leaving, it could have been good if more players. Left - $10 Played PaiGow poker for a couple hours. Sonny left Pai Gow to shoot some craps and made a nice + $500 profit after a young kid got on a hot roll. 6am Walked down to the PEPPERMILL restaurant which is right beside the RIV. Huge portions, fair prices. Sonny, Gina and I ate for $53, I was the only one who finished my plate. Having been awake all night gambling, its not that surprising that conversation turned to prop bets. Sonny spotted an item on the menu called 'Fruit Platter'. Seeing how huge our portions were, he figured that has got to be a lotta fruit. Gina mentioned that I dont eat fruit. Its not that I dislike fruit, I'm not allergic or anything like that, its just I'm not a big fruit eater. Sonny suggested a prop bet that I couldnt finish this fruit platter. I'm not a big eater, but I have won a couple food bets in that past (eating worms, crickets etc). I was pretty close to taking the bet on a whim, without even setting out a prize if I completed the task. Sonny, trying to get a better idea of what he'd have to offer as a prize, asked the waiter "what exactly does the fruit platter come with ?" HAHA ! 1 whole Pineapple, half a watermelon, a honeydew melon, a canaloupe melon, several bananas, several apples, orange slices, kiwis, etc. Plus a LOAF of Banana Bread ...LOL ! If I wasnt out of the country, I might even try this just for laughs. But there's no way I could make a real attempt at it without spending some serious time on the toilet afterwards. My body is designed for protein, non fruit. SATURDAY November 8th Up late the night before, not awake in time for the AVP tourny. Got up at 1pm. Arrived at the GOLD COAST Buffet at 2:55pm. Buffet closes at 3pm for one hour. Reopens at 4pm for dinner. Played slots to kill an hour. Slots have tightened up a lot. Heard numerous others throughout the trip mention they felt slots werent paying out as well as they had in the past. Burned through - $20 in no time at all. Put $10 in video poker and milked that until buffet opened. Drink service on the floor was really slow. Ordered 2 crown royals at a time because it'd be 20-30 minutes before you saw a waitress again. Sonny and Tom joined us for dinner before heading to the WYNN to play another deep stack tournament. GC Buffet was good as always. About $6 each with ACG. I went over to the HARD ROCK poker lounge. Very busy. Nice atmosphere, a little loud at times. Good dealers, comfy chairs. $1/hr comps. Seen JAMIE GOLD, SHAWN SKEIKAN, THOR HANSON, JEAN-ROBERT BELLANDE. The Duke of Fremont made an appearance, shook everyones hand but didnt play poker. Better than average competition, which I tend to do well against. Good session, + $ 237 Went back to the strip to check out some of the smaller poker rooms and maybe find a soft game. BILLS Gambling Hall was super busy. Both tables in the Poker "room" were full but lots of short stacks. Hit OSHEA'S, same thing. Flamingo poker room was reasonably busy, but didnt seem that inviting. Walked down to the IMPERIAL PALACE. Short waiting list and floor said he'd likely open new table within 20 mins. Good to his word, 15 minutes later we were seated at new table. Speaking of tables, they're huge. 10 man rectangular tables with no drink holders. They had a giant pink dye-sub poster of 2 women printed on the felt. Very distracting and likely to cause drunks to miss poker chips that blend in with the print colours. Poker wise, it was a rollercoaster night for me. I couldn't close any of my huge draws all night, 2 royal flush draws, 2 open ended str8flush draws, 1 dbl gutshot str8flush draw, none of 'em. Got stacked at one point and had to rebuild. I was on the happy side of AA vs. KK and set over set 555 vs. QQQ to rebuild my stack. Finished + $ 220. Gina hit her first live straight flush. 10 high with 78 of clubs in her hand. High hand jackpot paid her $250 bonus on top of what was in the pot. She finished the night + $ 340. 6am. Went back downtown for $6 CALIFORNIA breakfast buffet. Great value. I can eat $6 worth of bacon...lol. - $20 on video poker. When we came out to the car, it was raining. A first for me, raining in vegas. SUNDAY NOV 9th The big day is finally here, the WSOP main event final table that has been delayed for 4 months. Unfortunately, I'll have to watch it on tv like common folk. The line up to get into the Penn & Teller theatre is crazy long and the set up inside isnt very good for spectators. Went for dinner buffet at the ORLEANS (241 ACG) and hit their poker room after. Always seems to be a nearly full room, even during the week. 1/2 hour wait. Their list procedures are a little sketchy. Names occasionally appear above you on the list with out explanation. They have different colored symbols they can put with peoples names. Green is phone-in, blue is table change request, etc... but people with no symbols got bumped for no obvious reason (locals friendly w/ poker rm manager ?). Watched a bit of the $4/8 and $8/16 Omaha H/L cash games. Very juicy. People had very little clue to what is a good starting hand or even knowing if they were winning. A new must-move $1/2 table was started and we got seated. I didnt even get to play a hand before I was moved to the main table. After about a half hour, JERRY YANG, 2007 World Champion sat down next to me at our table. Super nice guy, very friendly. He showed big bluff first hand then played tight ABC after that. (He left +$300) It was a real up & down session for me, lots of tough decisions (which I usually avoid). River beat me on several big hands/pots. Sometimes I just got outflopped.... I had QQ against villains AK. Flop is QTJ of spades. Later, I folded a flopped gutshot Q high straight flush draw, face up, to the shock of the dealer and most of the table. 3 all-ins behind me. Had invested $50 on the flop but would have cost me my stack, $220 more. What most people fail to consider in this situation is what your opponents likely holdings are. With 3 other people all in, it is highly like one of them is drawing to the Ace high flush. One of my other opponents may have already made the straight. It is quite possible in this situation that I am drawing to a one-outer to hit the straight flush. I might even be drawing dead if they have my str8flush card. Atleast I got a "wow" out of Jerry Yang for my fold. Left the Orleans + $25. 1am. Decided to check out CAESARS PALACE. The entire casino floor was very quiet, nearly vacant, very few people at all. The poker room was the same, almost empty. 2 tables of $1/2. The high hand jackpots were a joke. $100 for 4 of a kind, $100 for a str8 flush, $500 for a royal flush. They scoop $1 from every pot and all they want to pay back is $100 ? That's weak. Signed up with the brush and he told us to have a seat and grab a cocktail, wont be long. Sounds good. After 2 failed attempts to get a drink from a snobby Caesars waitress, we bailed. No action, no service, no thanks. Headed back to the RIV and called it an early night. MONDAY NOV 10th Up at 10am and out of the room by 11am. Off to the SILVERTON for Lunch Buffet. $9.63 for two. Their pecan pie tastes like a giant butter tart. Played another session at the VENETIAN. No noteworthy hands. + $56 Recieved comp tickets to the REAL DEAL, a poker based game show that recently opened up at the V. Sonny, Ed, and Tom were just finishing up a tournament at the WYNN so they joined Gina and me. The premise of the show, two poker pro's and 4 (somewhat) randomly selected audience members play a game of holdem on stage. The rest of the audience plays along on computer touch screens. The audience sees its hole cards and bets or folds based on the flop, turn, river. There are also mini contests throughout. Pick 5 random cards from a deck of 52 and the top 3 people with the best hands win a prize. The final hand, you randomly select 5 cards and if you hit a royal flush you receive $1,000,000 (over 25 yrs). The two pros for this session were Todd Brunson and Jennifer Harman. Jennifer was high energy and seemed sincerely interested in being there. Todd, no so much. Vinny Favorito was the MC and did a great job trying to keep this contrived production seem natural and moving along. Lacey Jones co-hosted and did an acceptable job. I was a little shocked to see Lacey, who was voted "hottest girl in poker", close up only 5 feet away. I guess you can have skin as rough as TJ Cloutier and still be voted hot. I'm sure she's a nice girl, she comes across as friendly... but I have met hotter poker girls. One of the flaws with the show was in the software. There was a serious time lag. On a couple occasions, the live hand was being dealt before action was complete on the handhelds. I was able to fold on the turn, saving myself a $16,000 wager because I saw the dealer on stage deal out the river which gave one of the players a full house which beat my two pair. If there were serious prizes at stake, there'd be lawsuits flying. Prizes were decent although not enough to make me drool. Sony headphones, a portable dvd player, autographed posters, books, a bunch of $50 gift certs for V restaurants. I left with a pretty good booty. Everyone left with a RD hat & deck of cards because the crowd won 5 or 6 hands. I made trips with one of my random 5 card selections so I won a poster autographed by the RD poker pros. When I went to collect it after the show, the girl says "oh you won the books ! ?" I said, sure ? ! She gave me autographed copies of SuperSystemII and Daniel Negreanu's Power Holdem. Autographs include Harman, Brunson, Laak, Esfandiari,etc. Overall, I liked the show. Would I pay $75+ for it ? No. If it was free, I would go again and again. There were about 100 people in the audience and there were people who actually paid full price for the show, including 2 people who paid $140 for VIP front row seats (my freebee seats were in the 2nd row) and they got to meet and take pictures with the pros backstage. Immediately after the show we headed out to the GREEN VALLEY RANCH to take a shot at the PL Omaha 8ob tournament that we missed earlier in the week. Had I known the structure and rake (25%), I would have skipped it. We arrived a little late but got on the list to be put in as other players got eliminated. By the time I got seated, it was late into the $100 blind level. Starting stack was $2000. This basically gave me no play at all. Example: 1st time I play my big blind there are 4 players to the flop. Pot is $400. Under the gun bets pot $400. If I bet pot ($1200) I have committed 65% of my chips to this hand and there are still 2 people to act behind me + the original bettor. No wiggle room at all. Finished 11th out of 36 by folding a lot. Gina came in 9th and Sonny came in 6th. On a positive note, I made + $ 80 playing the cash game while I waited for everyone to bust out. Funniest moment of the day. Sonny says " You gotta see this ! " There was a guy at the poker room cage asking his friend to take his picture, posing as he cashes out his racks of $1 chips, like it was a huge payday. Being the smartass I am, I say to Sonny " Dare me to get my picture taken with him?" So I go over and ask the guy if I can get my picture taken with him (and all his chips), like he's a poker superstar. I Love how he fans out his money for everyone to see. Classic ! Hungry!. Went downtown to the GOLDEN GATE Shrimp Bar & Deli for one of their famous sandwiches. Had the Cable Car (turkey, ham, roast beef, swiss cheese, lettuce,mayo) $6.99 Great shrimp cocktails for 99cents. Wandered down to the GOLDEN NUGGET to play a little poker. Got stacked by donkey bombers. -$200 The Nugget has started raking 50cents preflop, so if its raise and take it with no action, the GN is still getting there's. Boo ! Played The Price is Right Dice game - $10 TUESDAY NOV 11 Had GOLD COAST lunch buffet using 241 LasVegas Advisor coupon. $9.03 total for two. Very slow drink service. It was busy, Veterans Day. 6x points so there were seniors galore. Used $5 matchplay from ACG on roulette. Will + $10. Gina + $10. Free lunch ! Back to the VENETIAN poker room. Got two more free REAL DEAL tix from Mr. Bill, the floor guy. Another good session against predictable players waiting to get into the deep stack tournament. + $251 playing 2pm-6pm. Headed over to the ORLEANS for Dinner buffet and brought Tom with us. $7.53 each with ACG coupons. Great buffet as usual. Didnt use the RD tix, couldnt make it back from buffet in time. Dropped Tom off at the MGM and headed downtown to BINIONS to play poker. Had plenty of good starting hands, just couldnt hit the board to save my life. Was down $ most of the evening but hit Quad Deuces to get back to even. 8:30pm-1am. Left minus - $10. Earned $9 in comps so we'll call it even. Hung around Binions, I played Zeus, HootLoot and Shopping Spree slots (+ $8) while Gina was playing Pai Gow. She was doing well so I popped across the street to the NUG to check out the poker room. Sat down at a table with 3 russians. $2400, $1600, and $800 stacks. Very suspicious. They were the only ones who ever won a pot. I sat for 2 orbits then left. Talked to a guy at a limit table on my way out. He said I'm the first person all night who left the table with money, they knocked out every single player who sat in the game. Not sure what was going on, very fishy though. Walked back over to Binions and convinced Gina to leave with a + $50 profit at Pai Gow. WEDNESDAY NOV 12th Up before 10am. RIV's Kiosk Checkout was easy to use. Headed downtown to BINIONS to cash in our comps in the gift shop. Picked up some sweatshirts, hats, card caps for folks at home. Pretty reasonable prices. The Real Deal playbill had a coupon for "1 free book" from Cardoza publishing, the guys who print Doyles and Daniels books. The ad shows SuperSystem, Caro's Book of Tells, Poker Tournament Formula, etc. Being the gullable type guy I am, I took this to mean that I could choose from one of the books shown in the ad. Wrong. The free books are actually booklets on off beat topics or contain only rudimentry content. Avery Cardoza, did you approve this ? Do you realize how many people you are going to piss off ? Remember the potential prop bet with Sonny involving the fruit plate from Peppermills ? Gina and I thought it would be funny to send Sonny a fruit basket. We hit the Walmart Super Centre and bought a basket, clear wrapping and fruit galore. Along with a watermelon, cantaloupe, bananas, bag of apples, there were a bag of lemons, a coconut, and an onion...lol. Got a few strange looks putting it all together on the trunk of our car in the parking lot. Too long without food so we hit the WYNN buffet. Gina earned 2 free buffets earlier so we wanted to use them up. Excellent food as before. I love that they have bathrooms located inside the dining area. Most buffets, you have to leave and use facilities on the gaming floor. Their bathrooms actually have private rooms with real locking doors, not just partial metal walls. Headed back up to SLOTS'O'FUN to use our $15 for $10 coupon. Crapped out and headed next door to Circus Circus, to use the same offer there. Half hour of play and left with an overall + $ 7 in profit between Gina and I. Woohoo 3pm. Went to the VENETIAN to get some poker in on our last day. Saw TEDDY "The IceMan" MONROE. He holds the record for most WSOP coverage disproportionate to his actual results. Met up with high school chum ANDY BRUINEWOUD and his wife GLORIA in the poker room. They are vegas veterans and gave me the scoop on what they saw of the WSOP final table from inside the P&T Theatre. Played at the V until 8pm. (+ $45). Headed to the MGM and left the fruit basket for Sonny at the Bell Desk. Would have been way funnier if we could have gotten into his room and filled his room with fruit, but we didnt have time. Dropped off the rental car and headed for the plane. Overall, great trip. Left + $1500 so I cant complain. Bye Vegas, see you in a couple months.