Although we played a little poker over Super Bowl weekend, this was the first proper poker trip in two full years due to stupid, fucking COVID-19. But vaccinated I was, and I really treasure these Guy Times in Vegas, so I pushed hard to make this trip happen. We didn't have Scott this time (who was with me Super Bowl weekend and will be with me for the upcoming Super Bowl), but Pete, Pat and Phil were all there, and we met up with Tim (also from previous Super Bowl trips) along the way. But Scott was not forgotten. He made a bet with me for a $2 bill... he bet that Pat would win the most money in poker tournaments, and a second $2 bet that Pat would have the highest individual cash. What was really hard, though, was to find poker tournaments that were in our wheelhouse. We don't play high buy-in tournaments because our bankrolls wouldn't allow for high entry fees for the 7-9 games we'd play on a trip. But between the lack of open poker rooms with tournaments and the World Series of Poker in town (with many of the poker rooms having Tournament Series with much higher entry fees) it took a lot of work to put together an agenda that hits all of our buttons. But with some mental gymnastics, we were able to get in as much poker as we wanted. I am getting old, however. A couple of weeks before the trip, my Posterior Tibial Tendinopathy flared up. What's Posterior Tibial Tendinopathy? See that green tendon (which may not be green in real life) that goes from the calf muscle to the joint at your big toe? Very owie. Don't know how I hurt it or what causes it to flare, but in addition to feeling like you broke your ankle, when it gets angry, since the nerves are so close to the skin, it can be very painful to the touch. As of today, I haven't bowled in three weeks and it may be a couple more before I do. But the worst of the worst part is that the tendon goes below then ankle exactly where most shoes contact the ankle. When the nerves were pulsing, shoes were not an option. I was concerned about how much walking I would be doing, and I packed an extra pair of shoes and bedroom slippers (as a worst case scenario). I also made sure I had these... These 25 bills had been in my lock box for over two years. Time to let them breathe! I didn't take a lot of photos this year, as, well... I get bored of seeing slot machine and VP photos for minor wins so I set a $500 minimum photo rule. This report will be a little more blue than some of my normal reports, as our house is now empty (including the dog) so I no longer have to watch my mouth (in a few years, it will be considered adorable for this drooling old-timer to be mindlessly swearing like a sailor with Tourette's). Also, same disclaimers as every trip... I don't like live trip reports so I don't even try, and the poker talk will be indented so that it is easy to skip over. All times PDT, except where shown. Thursday, September 30 at 9:01 PM CDT - Phil and Pat left. Fuckers. When we set the date, we found an insanely cheap Spirit flight (like, $48 or so) that left Friday night, and a reasonable Southwest return flight on Tuesday. A few months ago, Spirit changed its flight time from 7:30 PM to 7:20 AM. Phil doesn't do mornings, so he got a refund and was going to find a Southwest flight on Friday night. I decided to keep my morning Spirit flight, and they got jealous that I would be there 12 hours before them, so they changed that flight to Thursday night (getting in 12 hours before me). So fuck them. I hope they had a horrible time. Friday, October 1 at 5:00 AM CDT - Up and at them to get ready for my flight. I grab the Chromebook to download The Many Saints of Newark off of HBO Max... that is, until the wife caught me. "I thought we'd watch it together", she said. Sigh. I downloaded other stuff and headed out. 6:30 AM - She didn't think it would work... I tend to pack a little heavy for Vegas... For example, I hate to take just four pair of tighty-whities for four days as I don't know what kind of mood that my colon will be in. However, my foot thing required me to take my dress shoes (and slacks) and bedroom slippers as I didn't want to be footily-miserable for five days. Those took up valuable real estate, causing me to make some hard cuts. Once I had finished packing my bag was bursting at the seams. But it fit! 7:00 AM CDT - I may have been too cheap to pay for a carry-on, but I did decide to break the bank for the 2-across, Big Front Seat for $53. Brought the total cost of my outbound flight to $101 and I would be there by 9:00 AM. The wins keep winning! Maybe they'll ask me to be co-pilot. For the first two hours over 10,000 ft - Watched The Highwaymen. It was an enjoyable look at two over-the-hill former Texas Rangers played by over-the-hill actors Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson chasing down Bonnie and Clyde. Might have been about 20 minutes too long, but it killed time nicely. For about 40 minutes until we got back to 10,000 ft - Started watching The Deuce, which was a series on HBO about the prostitution and porn scene in New York in the 70s and 80s. Hope the guy in 2A enjoyed the titties. 9:00 AM PDT - Arrived early, sat on tarmac for 25 minutes as we wait for the gate to be available. It seems that I lose more Vegas Time to tarmac waiting than I do to stoplights. Home. Finally home. 9:30 AM - Get my Thrifty car from the Dollar rental counter and head to the Hertz lot to get my car. "Anything in this row" she says. As we know, red cars get better parking spots. But there was one SUVish-type car in that row, so I grabbed the white Ford Ecosport. Worst fucking car I've ever driven. Besides the fact that the interior was smaller and had less room than my Mazda 3, it accelerated like a dump truck... I thought the overdrive might have been on so I clicked it and it made even MORE noise as I accelerated. I also had no idea how to open the hatchback, but I figured one of the others might know so I just threw my bag on the back seat and started my vacation. 10:00 AM - I circled back to the soon-to-be Harry Reid International Airport to get Pete (whose flight was about a half hour after mine) and then to the Paris where Pat and Phil spent the night. Four guys are in the Paris porte-cochère, trying to figure out how to get the back open to stash the bags. I said "RTFM", and Pete found it in the glove box. The next trick was that the first three guys all tried to read it before passing it on because nobody had their cheaters ready. Finally Pat, the engineer, found the page that said the release was above the right brake light. What brilliant scientist decided to put it there? Instead of opening up, the door opened right to left (meaning the person opening it also had to step out of the way to let the door complete the openizational process) like a '62 Rambler Ambassador. (Note, not my photo. My mom was 14 in 1962). "JFC, James", says you, the Gentle Reader. "Enough of the effin' airport and rental car talk... would you PLEASE get to the Vegas part of your Vegas trip report?". Fair enough. Thanks for asking. 11:00 AM - Lunch time for those of us that had been up for seven hours, breakfast for those who fucking arrived the night before. Melissa and I ate at one of the Egg and I locations in May and I used it as recon for a poker trip meal. In that trip I had the butterscotchie chip pancakes and I've been dreaming of them for the past five months. So what did I order? Right. The Chili Burger. Don't @ me. (Side note regarding meal photos for the rest of this report. Phil and I are foodies. I don't like eggs, turkey, ketchup, mushrooms or olives. Or organ meats. Tripe, too, for that matter [though I guess that is an organ meat]. I do like Foie Gras [which is an organ meat, too... I guess you can skip the part about organ meats]. Point is that unless it contains one of the no-no foods, I'll try anything. Phil doesn't even limit himself. If it is edible, he tries it. Pat and Pete, however? Food is sustenance and frankly not worth spending a lot of money on. Therefore, their food is boring and not worth photographing.) Phil had the Blackened Prime Rib Benny. He said it was "good, not wow". He is a hard-to-please Foodie. 12:00 PM - Seated at the first poker tournament of the trip at the Sahara . We didn't know what to expect at the Sahara. It is a relatively new poker room with only seven tables. But they had one of the few sets of tournaments with entries under $100 as there are now only 19 poker rooms in Las Vegas and most of those with tournaments raised their entry fees with the WSOP in town. But once we got started, we were happy to see the turnout. Sahara 12:05 PM Friday tournament - 21 entries at $60 each (add-ons available). Start with 10K chips. Fourth hand with blinds 100/100, with red JJ. Two spades 269 on flop. Called 600. Turn blank, called 1200. River Js, raised from 2500 to 5000, guy had two spades. It was going to be one of those kinds of trips. Re-bought for $40. Card dead through L3, but with 8500, had AJ and raised to 1000, then called 3-bet to 3000. Flop 22J, he shoved, I folded. I was already $100 in and he screamed that he had a 2 or JJ. Couple hands later I had black KK, bet 1000 with three callers. Flop 663. Same guy as before bet 3000, I shoved last my 4500, he called then said "I misread the board" and showed 45. I dodged the seven for a huge triple-up. At the end of registration, everyone still alive can (and does) add on another $40 for 10K more chips... I'm now $140 into a $60 tournament. First hand post-break had AA that held for a nice pot. After a few rings of being card-dead, I had AQ, and with an A on the flop, one opponent bet big. His betting pattern didn't suggest he had AK. I was right... he had flopped two pair holding A6. I am relegated to Slot World in 11th place. 4:30 PM - I am actually holding my own nicely on the slots and manage to level up my tier status at Sahara to the Premier Level. No idea what that means except that they brought a blue card to me, but whatever. Pat finally finishes on the bubble in 5th place, and each of the other players give up $20 each so that he gets $80 for his 4-1/2 hours of work. I won more than him on the Dragon Links, though. 5:00 PM - Phil decides that we're hungry, and as a group we decide that we don't need to check into our hotels unless there is time before the evening tournament. 5:30 PM - I had always wanted to try the Pork Belly Bahn Mi at the Art's District Kitchen (located inside the brewery). But I had waited too long as its no longer on the menu. So I started with a beer. Can't complain about the selection. I started with the #9 Honey Dip Porter... meh, not worth $8. Then I tried the #18 Calutron Girl Hefe for $4 (all of the beer with orange numbers are $4 for Happy Hour) which I liked much better. So what did Phil and I have? Thought you'd never ask... Pork Belly Tacos. The best thing we tried. Steak Kimchee Tacos. Had we not tried the Pork Belly Tacos, this would have been the best thing we tried. Tika Masala Fries. They were very good. Not $13 good, but they were lovely nonetheless. Pete didn't actually have the pager, but he may as well have once I saw the hockey puck of a burger that he ordered. From left... Your hero, Pat, Phil and Pete. 6:30 PM - Time to quickly head downtown to check in before heading to the next poker tournament. I get my room at the California, drop off my bags, then head towards the valet when I see Phil playing an old 3-reel dollar slot. I figure two can play that game, so I slid in $20, downloaded my $40 in free play, and on my last "free" spin, I really pissed him off. Without wagering a penny of my own money, I was $800 up as we left to head to the next game. 7:00 PM - We arrive at the Westgate and immediately am awestruck by what they've done to the SuperBook. That is insanely gorgeous. We sign up for the poker tournament, but they are short of dealers so they only have two tables and have all three of us on the alternate list. They finally get to me around 7:40 PM. Westgate 7:00 PM Friday tournament - 32 entries at $75 each. Start with 10K chips. Nothing of note thru 8:30 (about an hour since I started). The blind structure isn't too onerous, but the game had been going on for over 90 minutes and I am noticing my stack get shorter and shorter. One of the problems with cheap tournaments is that some people use them like a lottery. There was one of those guys two seats to the left of me. I have KK and shoved. Mr. Lotto called my 6500 all in pre-flop with Q8 which held, putting me at 13900. Two hands later he shoved blind with J5 to someone else and walked away He had missed his lottery hit and gave up for the night. A little while later in the big blind with 8-10, flop is 8J8, One guy bets big, I raise all-in, he calls, and with a J on the turn, his JJJ88 beats my 888JJ and I am relegated to the casino floor. 9:30 PM - Although I love playing craps, I choose to only afford a $10 game. Unfortunately my local removed all table games (blaming COVID, natch) so I don't get to play much. However flush with cash from the slot hit, I buy into the $15 game and manage to play for almost two hours until all the guys find me. Pat had cashed for $211, making him 2-for-2. One day in, Scott is winning both bets. 11:00 PM - Exhausted by an early start to the day, I get to my room and collapse. I consider going back down to gamble, but I had played enough at Sahara and Westgate, so I was happy to call it an early night. Evening came and morning followed, the First day.