Summary: â€¢ Solo trip 1/31-2/5 â€¢ Didnâ€™t get felt-up or scoped-out at the airports â€¢ Friendly, mellow cab drivers â€¢ Stayed @ Harrahâ€™s â€¢ Saw a new casino â€¢ Ate some good food â€¢ Played mostly poker cash games & tournaments â€¢ Won some/lost some â€¢ Froze my butt off walking around â€¢ Got sick/got better â€¢ Met some cool people â€¢ Went home Trip Reports are for people who suffer from the depression of missing Las Vegas. Reading Trip Reports may result in the onset of sudden rash decisions such as booking a trip without consulting a significant other. In such cases sever tongue lashings can occur. Trip Reports should be taken with coffee, tea, soda, or an alcoholic drink. Trip reports should not be read at work, but if this should happen, avoid Trip Reports that have the words â€œhookerâ€ or â€œstrip clubâ€ in their titles as these may catch the eye of IT departments. There is a risk of dependency in reading Trip Reports. Individuals reading Trip Reports for more than four hours should seek immediate medical help. Warning: This Trip Report is long and contains lots of poker. Leaving on a Jet Plane: While being a bit leery of the current use of body scanners and invasive pat-down searches, I was pleased to swiftly pass through the TSA lines, both coming and going. My friend recently returned from a trip and reported he no longer required his yearly prostrate exam. My plane landed in Las Vegas Elvis style â€¦ All Shook Up. The 120+ tail winds made for a fast flight from Portland, and those winds made for a whole lot of shaking. Come on Baby Drive My Car: After once being long-hauled and experiencing some exceptionally rude drivers, it had been a long time since I have ridden in a cab. Knowing that this trip would be mostly devoted to playing many hours of poker, a car would be simply an added expense. Cab #1 ~ The airport cab line was 1 person long and I waited in line for â€¦ Â±20 seconds. I wasnâ€™t tunneled. The driver was 60ish, professional, and quite cordial. Cab ride #2 ~ This ride was Tuesday to the Orleans for breakfast & coupon run. The driver was around 38, very laid-back/mellow, with long blond hair beneath a black leather fedora. He said that he loved playing tennis and basketball ~ not a stereotypical cab driver. (None were.) Cab driver #3 ~ On the return from the Orleans my driver was around 55, probably of Middle Eastern descent, another mellow fellow, and a terrific conversationalist. He was interested in dating my niece who works in the casino industry until he learned that she is 38. â€œToo young for to for me!â€ was his reply. Cab #4 ~ I was driven to the airport by a 70-somehting Asian man who was the epitome of cool. He bowed to me when I paid him. This, and all of my taxi experiences, exceeded my expectations. I may do this in the future if I stay on the strip. Not Hotel California: The check in line at Harrahâ€™s was long but moved fairly swiftly. Check in took only about 10 minutes at 4:00pm. I requested a room away from the Carnival Court and was accommodated. First night ~ dinner, some poker, and early to bed: I unpacked, looked for bed bugs (seriously), and then headed over to the Venetian to check out the info on their Deep Stack Extravaganza. Noodle Asia is a frequent meal stop for me, and this night I had Calamari Rice Noodles. Good and tasty, but I would have liked some vegetables in it. After dinner I located an $80 Satellite for one of the $350 events that I wanted to play in. Ten runners plunked down money and in about an-hour-and-a-half four of us remained in the running for the two $350 paid spots. I was the shortest stack but still had a goodly amount of chips, so when I was first to act in a hand and discovered pocket 8s, I shoved. The button tanked and eventually called with A-2 suited, so I got my money in as a 66% favorite. He caught an Ace on the turn that kicked me to the curb. I was pleased with how I played, so it was all good. I made it back to Harrahâ€™s and took in the comedy show at the Improv â€“ always a good choice, then hit the hay immediately afterwards with visions of owning a Venetian Deep Stack tourney dancing in my head (only children and slot players have visions of sugar plums), soâ€¦ My Room ~ Day one ~ to sleep, perchance to dream: My room, I was to discover, had virtually no soundproofing. Conversations in the hallway or nearby rooms could be heard clearly. I became a listening voyeur. I tried NOT to listen, truly I did, but the harder I tried not to listen, the more I couldnâ€™t help myself. In the wee hours I eventually I nodded off andâ€¦ Around 3:30am I awoke with a nasty headache and clogged sinuses. Crap! I took some aspirin and hijacked the box of tissues from the bathroom. My Room ~ Day 2: I woke again at 5:45am to an old woman asking, â€œHow in the hell do you turn on this goddamned shower?â€ She and her husband discussed and tinkered with the shower for 5 minutes. Try as I might, I couldnâ€™t help but visualize a pissed off, naked old woman. Eventually the shower started, and then it was the manâ€™s turn to make noises that Iâ€™ll refrain from mentioning as families may be reading this. And then I was done sleeping, but I wasnâ€™t done with my headache. I lazed around the room, showered, and hit up Harrahâ€™s buffet for breakfast with the big $5 off coupon. Yep, Iâ€™m cheap. After breakfast I took my daily health walk and headache down the strip to check out the Cosmopolitan. Since I donâ€™t like the Aria, I wasnâ€™t expecting much from the Cosmopolitan. I was wrong. The casino was beautiful and I have never experienced so many genuinely attentive casino employees with pleasant attitudes. Twice I asked security folks where things were located and twice they offered to walk me there! Employees at the Playersâ€™ Club desk (Identity Club) were exceptionally pleasant, attentive, and focused on positive customer relations. Iâ€™m a poker player and, sadly, Cosmopolitan does not have a poker room, so I decided to play some VP simply because I liked the vibe. I quit even, which is a Win in my VP book. BTW, the machines I played had decent pay schedules. In case my cardiologist is reading, I speed walked back to Harrahâ€™s. By now my headache was back with a vengeance. I had requested that my room be made up before leaving, and it was, so I took some ibuprofen and went back to bed where I stayed for a good part of the day feeling sorry for myself. While in bed I heard a new group check into the neighboring rooms and across the hall. It was Chinese New year and it seems that the newbies were 6-to-8 Chinese women, all friends around 60-80 years of age, some of whom obviously liked a little drinkie-poo. Listening to loud, high-pitched Cantonese with a headache can be annoying. They eventually moved the party to parts unknown, but I tip my hat to them. They remained neighbors for the duration of my trip and they made a lot of racket when they returned to their rooms, but they were seldom in their rooms. Those were some Hearty, Party Girls! With the headache somewhat abated and my stomach grumbling for food, I decided to hoof it to Ellis Island to sample the ribs that I had read so much about. Walking to the EI from Harrahâ€™s in the cold wind was not for the feint of heart. Arriving at dusk, there was an hour wait for an inside table but I was told that I could immediately dine under the outside tent that had freestanding heaters. Deal! It was cozy under the heaters as the wind whipped around outside. The ribs were amazing â€“ perhaps the best I have ever had, and their microbrew (amber) was very tasty, and the price was quite affordable. Will I return? Absolutely. My long, cold, windy trek back to Harrahâ€™s was somewhat mitigated by walking with a waiter heading to work at Toby Keithâ€™s I Love This Bar and Grill. I asked what was good on the menu and he said that it was the Fried Bologna Sandwich, to which I dubiously replied, â€œReally?â€ He assured me that it was big and very good. Iâ€™ll let you try it and report back. I made it back, cranked up the room heater, and then headed to the poker room for some 1-2 no-limit. There was a seat open. As I was settling myself I noticed that there were two friends at the table who were well into their cups and saw themselves as poker experts. If you play poker, you know the type â€“ loudly analyzing everybodyâ€™s play, especially the â€œmistakesâ€ made by others. The dealer asked if I wanted to see the first hand under the gun, something I virtually never do, but I was in Vegas, baby! Good decision. Lo-and-Behold, my first no-limit hand at Harrahâ€™s was pocket aces! The last time I had pocket rockets was during the Reagan administration. (Just kidding. It was Clinton.) Regardless, I raised to $12 and everybody folded to the â€œexpertâ€ in the big blind who called. The flop came: K-8-2 rainbow (different suites for the non-poker players, so no immediate threat of a flush). I raised to $25, the big blind raised to $60, and I shoved all of my chips into the pot. He had about $125 left so I had him covered. He tanked. He started talking to me and the table, â€œWhat do you have? What do you play? I donâ€™t know you. Are you coming into the game and trying to bully the table?â€ This went on for two-three minutes. I just stared at the board and Iâ€™ll be darned if he didnâ€™t call with a K-Q. The turn & river didnâ€™t help him, and I was bucks up! :banana: Another player was hitting the booze a bit. He was from the Chicago area where it where the blizzard had hit. It seems he runs a private plow and contracts with a government agency for snow removal, but he couldnâ€™t get home. Since he was stuck in Vegas when he should have been plowing roads and making big bucks, he decided to drink like and gamble. Many of us have been there and done that â€“ not plowing, but drinking and gambling. He was strong player, but I think the booze cost him a couple big pots. When my nose decided to close down for the night and my head started doing the Rumba, I went to bed. The next day was my last chance to play in a $350 Venetian Deep Stack tournament and I wasnâ€™t going to squander that opportunity. Day 3 ~ â€¦ You Gotta Know When to Fold â€˜em There were nearly 235 participants in the Venetian tournament and they were generally much stronger than the competition I am used to. Even though I didnâ€™t feel that great, I (cough - hack) played pretty darned well, thank you. At least for 7+ hours. I have an eye issue and it strains my eyes trying to see the board when I sit at either end of a poker table. Naturally, I drew seat #3. Grrr. I enjoy discovering things about people at my poker table. Seat #1 was a young man from Lucerne, Switzerland. The young man to my immediate left was from the Chicago area. During a break he showed me a photo that his sister texted him of her car buried in a snowdrift outside of her apartment. The table also had some very serious, tough, Vegas poker regulars. My favorite player was in the 8 seat. He was about 30 years old and spoke with a heavy French accent. After an interesting hand he would whip out a notebook and jot something down. I later learned that he had won his Vegas trip playing a series of 6 tournaments in France and finishing, if I recall correctly, first twice and third once. His prize was a flight to Vegas and 12 nights at the Imperial Palace. Frenchieâ€™s note taking was because he was writing a blog about his experiences. He was a hoot! He busted around the 4-hour mark. We were to run into one another in a number poker rooms over the next three days. (Isnâ€™t it strange how you often run into the same people wherever you go in Vegas?) Our table broke near the 7-hour mark. Of the original 10 players, only the guy from Switzerland, the guy from Chicago, and myself remained. I had a stack about 20% over the average and was overjoyed that I was being moved to a new table where I might be able to see the cards better. Of course, I landed at the other end of a table in seat 8 where I where I was soon to make my stupid mistake that would knock me out of the tournament. Dammit!!! The tournament kicked off at noon and I went out around 7:30pm in approximately 60th place. Twenty-seven places were paid. I hope to do it again. For you poker players, what follows is my suck-out hand and my stupid play: Suck-Out: Around the 4-hour mark I was getting short stacked with about 12 big blinds. Everybody folded to â€œSwitzerlandâ€ on the button who raised. Iâ€™m in the small blind and think he may well be stealing, so when I see that I have pocket Queens, I shoved. Big blind folded and â€œSwitzerlandâ€ snap-called with pocket Kings. Oops. I flop another queen and apologize. Man, was he upset â€“ not at me, but at the poker gods. Stupid Bust-Out Play: I had only seen one a few orbits at my new table when a man in early position limped. Everybody folded to me in the big blind and I raised 3x the blind with A-Q off-suit. The flop came A-6-3 rainbow. I bet about two-thirds of the pot. He smooth called. A duce came next and I again bet about two-thirds of the pot. Now any fool should see that he flopped set when he smooth called again. But noooo, not me. Another Ace hits on the river giving me trips, my heart thumps, my brain shuts down, and I idiotically shove. Doh! What was I thinking! Of course he had flopped a set of 6s and now had a full house. He also barely had me covered. With my dapper down, I shook his hand and took my buy-in receipt to Noodles Asia and used it as a $10 coupon for the chefâ€™s special stir-fried seafood. It was great and helped remove the taste of stupid defeat. Late that night I played poker at Harrahâ€™s and won something like $50 with no hands of note. My Trip ~ Slip Slidinâ€™ Away: The next morning I had my favorite Vegas breakfast, a strawberry waffle, in Harrahâ€™s coffee shop. Afterward, I rode the monorail up to the Sahara and played my LVA coupon where I bought in for $40 and got $50 in special chips. Blackjack was good to me and I cashed out with $130. Then I rode the monorail down to the MGM where I played no-limit. I sat at the table near to the rail and watched the lions while the people watched us. I played there most of the day and was card dead, ending the session $80 down. Early that evening I played at the Flamingo. I was sitting to the immediate left of another Chicago snow refugee (retired fireman) and the French guy from the tournament. Here is an interesting hand: We had been playing together for about two hours when Frenchie, in middle position, bet $10 and the Chicago Fireman in the small blind called. I had pocket Kings in the big blind. Yippee! I raised $25 hoping one will drop. Both called. The flop came 10-7-x and Chicago bet $12, I raised $50. Frenchie raised another $60. Chicago pushed for about $260. Okay, I figure one of these dudes had a set, so I folded. Frenchie had pocket 7s and Chicago had pocket 10s â€“ classic set-over-set, and on the river Frenchie sucker-punched the Chicago Fireman with the case 7! Ouch!!! Before he was felted, the Chicago Fireman taught me the joys of drinking a Malibu Rum and pineapple juice. I may have a new favorite Vegas drink. I had a good run at the Flamingo, grinding my way to a $200+ win. As I was getting seriously hungry for a nice meal, so I took my stomach and my bankroll over to the bar in the Mesa Grill at Caesars. OMG, what food! I started with the Goat Cheese â€œQueso Fundidoâ€ (orgasmic). The entree was the Coffee Rubbed Filet Mignon with mushrooms and Ancho Chile Sauce ~ simply astounding, and a side of Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranates and Toasted Pecans. What a unique side. I lack the vocabulary to describe how wonderful it was. Also, I had two glasses of absurdly good wine, each glass costing more than the bottles of wine I buy for home. After dinner I played more poker at Harrahâ€™s, won $100+ and went to bed with no hands of note. It was a grind. Thanks to the five people who have read this far. Friday I played a lot of no-limit at the Venetian, Harrahâ€™s and the Flamingo. The whole day I was card dead, had no hands of note, and lost almost $200. I could have lost much more. The only bad thing about poker is that sometimes you go long spells without playing a hand. Well, you go long spells if you donâ€™t want to lose a lot of money. Early that evening I ate at Harrahâ€™s Oyster Bar. A very solid, repeat choice. Friday night I played in the bounty tournament at the Mirage. This is the third or fourth time I have played this tournament and every time there has been at least one major drunk at my table. Always, this person has been amazingly lucky and knocked out some of the better players. These drunks really tick off the some players, put a few on Tilt, and I really like playing with them if they donâ€™t breathe and/or spit on me when the talk. This time it was a 60-something woman who lucked out a many times, but I caught her at about the 2/3 mark to double up after she had single-handedly taken out two of our tableâ€™s better players. The game ended for me at 1:45am. I made $50, including my bounty, because of a deal to pay the bubbleâ€™s entry fee back. Yes. I was the dreaded Bubble Bitch. This tournament has a very good structure and is well run. And the dealers are competent and handle drunks well. The â€œfloorâ€ is professional, quick, and correct in decisions. Experience shows. This was the first trip in my last 5 that I didnâ€™t come home a winner, but I wasnâ€™t hurt too badly. Since I now mainly play poker, I experience less bankroll variance. I should note that I did play craps once at the Orleans and won $150. As for poker, I had pocket Kings more frequently than ever before and they cost me money. It seemed like every time I had pocket Kings somebody would look me up with an Ace-X, and then an Ace would invariably flop. I would make a continuation bet, get raised, and I would fold. I would say, â€œShow me your ace.â€ Almost everybody did. I also had pocket Aces 6 times and only won a pot with them four times, and then only once (the first time) did I win any significant amount of money. Finally, I have never felt so positive about a losing trip. I was never felted in a cash game, and in the difficult situations I found myself in, I feel great about that. In my earlier poker days my losses would most certainly have been well over $1k, but I only lost a little over $250, even counting my tournament buy-ins. Thatâ€™s at least an $800 win, right? Sure! I think Iâ€™ll tell that to my wife â€¦ well, maybe not. Is That All There Is? Yes. Thatâ€™s all there is. Thanks for reading.