It must be autumn... in addition to leaves flying in the air, there is the faint smell of poker cards in the air. That must mean that our poker crew is back for the the seventh (almost) annual Poker Guys Trip to Las Vegas for Playing Poker. As I prefer to do on these Poker Trip recaps, I like to time stamp them. Now why do I prefer them that way? I dunno. But this is my trip report, so neener, neener, neener. First to recap the players, the Original Four are myself, Scott (who is the plant supervisor where I worked when we started this pilgrimage in 2009), Pat (who was the lead engineer at the same place) and Ben (Scott's Stepson). By the following year, Pat had left our company to join a competitor, and brought along another engineer, Phil. A few years after that, one of my bowling buddies, Pete, joined our group. Finally, for the first time, Jimmy joined our group this year. Jimmy is Pat's brother in law, and a regular member of our home poker game. Jimmy is also afraid of flying, likes to do his own thing, and is probably an undiagnosed adult ADD victim. Didja get all that? No, well, I'll skip ahead to the very last picture that was taken before taking the group to the airport... From left, Scott (seated), Phil, Pete (seated) Pat, me, Jimmy, Ben. Now that you can put a face to the name, here is how our poker weekend generally works. The Original Four (plus Phil) enjoy poker tournaments (long play for reasonably little money). We aren't bankrolled for the higher buy-in, long format tournaments. We also enjoy the casino hopping, as each poker room has its own character, characters, and appeal. The idea is we hit a tournament in the morning, drive to another after that, then one more after that. After we are pokered-out, we head back downtown (which is where we usually all stay) and do some social gambling before heading to bed. The next morning, we shower (hopefully) and repeat. So without any more endless paragraphs of delay, we start in Milwaukee on Saturday morning (all times are PDT until Daylight Savings Time ended, then it switches to PST... except where noted. Still with me?). Saturday, November 5 @ about 3:30 AM CDT - Although I hate the 6:30 AM flight that we sometimes take anyway, this year Southwest's earliest direct flight left Milwaukee at 8:15 AM. So please, anyone, explain why I am rolling around in bed after about three hours sleep, waiting for the 5:00 AM alarm to ring. Around 4:00 AM I get tired of rolling around and just get up and start watching TV 4:30 AM CDT - Dozing in front of the TV, my wife gets up to use the loo, and asks why I am up. I mumble about getting some sleep and hoping the alarm eventually wakes me. She decides to sit with me so that I don't fall back asleep. 5:55 AM CDT - I told Ben that I would be there at 6:15 AM. I was a little early. I explain why, he says that he also had been rolling around in bed since about 4:00 AM. 6:15 AM CDT - Picking up Pete 15 minutes early as well. He was ready, though, as he had been rolling around in bed since about 4:30 AM. Notice a trend? I think we were all excited to go to Vegas. 6:45 AM CDT - Earlier this year, I bought the TSA precheck service (5 years for $85) and we arrive at the screening area with zero bodies in line. I still use the precheck line because, dammit, I paid for it. I hand my boarding pass to the screener and make a funny about wasting my money because there is no line for the peasants, and like a trained drone he monotonically replies "Sir, you can keep your shoes and belt on, so I'd say you are still ahead". He must bring down the house at parties. 7:45 AM CDT - We all play the "What boarding position do you have?" Game. I have pre-board authorization since I bought a Customer of Size ticket. Pat and Jimmy are in the A20s as they paid for the Early Bird, Phil had Bsingle digit, while the rest were buried in the Bs because they didn't check in on time. Jimmy (who, again, is afraid to fly) had been saying for weeks that he wanted to sit alone, didn't quite get his wish... From left, Phil, Pete, Pat and Jimmy. Scott and Ben ended up in the back somewhere. This must have been before takeoff, as Jimmy is still smiling. Actually, he did fine. He and Pat played cribbage and Jimmy won... must have taken his mind of the flying part. 10:30 AM PDT - After a very uneventful flight (the best kind) we headed to the rental car shuttle, then directly to the car (thanks to the great service offered by Alamo). I had rented a 7-person minivan for $183, but when we got to the garage, the attendant said we looked like we could use extra room, so he pointed us to the 8-person minivan. Though nice of him, I am not sure we really could have tucked another body in the way back. 11:00 AM - We decided to have lunch prior to the first poker tournament, and I remembered from my recent April trip how much I liked Rollin' Smoke BBQ, so we headed back there again. I had the two-meats-and-a-side plate ($12.59 less 10% coupon) and it was just as good as I had remembered. Phil got the beef ribs, and it looked like steaks attached to bone... something Fred Flintstone would eat. Everybody raved, so I felt good that my honorary title of Tour Director had thus far been earned. 11:35 AM - We had decided in advance that our first game would be at The Orleans. The others headed to the poker room while I headed to the jhon, and when I got back... that look I got... like my Tour Director title was on the line. The Orleans had a special event in progress, and no extra dealers to work the tournament, therefore it was cancelled. Luckily, Poker Atlas said that Red Rock's tournament started at 12:05 PM, and was 25 minutes away. 11:36 AM - Running through the self-park garage for the minivan. 12:04 PM - I pull the minivan up to the main entrance and let everybody out. I figure that I can miss a few hands so I find the parking space. 12:15 PM - I check into the tournament ($110 entry, with about 35 total entries) and see that Jimmy and Pete have decided to instead play a cash game. I am seated at a table with nobody else from our group. 1:00 PM - A little earlier, Ben had been moved to my table as a couple of people had busted, and in the last hand before break, I was dealt JJ. Ben was a bit short-stacked, but made a big bet before the flop. As nice of a guy as I am towards my buddy, I went all-in. He called, having 99 in his hand. I dodged the 9, knocking him out and giving me an above-average stack. 2:30 PM - Along the way, I bleed a few chips and I was dealt 99. I wasn't as short-stacked as Ben had been, but I played it exactly the same way; I made a big bet, somebody put me all-in, and I called. He had 88 in his hand. I avoid an 8 and now I have a pretty big stack of chips. 2:40 PM (I actually checked my watch on this...) 10 minutes later I get 99 again. This time I have a lot of chips and don't want to risk them, but another guy was short-stacked so when he went all-in, I sensed desperation and I called. He had AK. The flop included a K and a 9. An A fell on the turn, but the river was nothing and my three 9s beat his two pair, giving me a commanding chip lead. 3:30 PM - I've put it in neutral (even folding AK suited when I was out of position) and guys are knocking each other out left and right. Finally, it is down to two players and we decide to chop. Since I was the chip lead, he offered me a little more money. I turned my $110 entry into $800, which is my single largest tournament win ever. 5:00 PM - Normally we'd scramble to a second game right away, but Jimmy (who doesn't quite get the cadence) used his only vote of the weekend to head downtown to check into our hotels. Both Jimmy (The D) and Pete (4 Queens) were using my offers, so I had to check in to each, not allowing me time to check into the Downtown Grand. We had decided to play the next tournament at a place we'd never played, the Suncoast. I had never been there, so I checked the map and saw it was very close to Red Rock. Good thing we were splitting gas money. 6:45 PM - Suncoast gives an extra amount of starting chips for arriving 15 minutes early. Unfortunately at this time, I was heading towards Reno as I had missed the turn from US 95 north to Summerlin Parkway. It was kind of my fault, as I had told the co-pilot that I had looked it up and knew where I was going, but Ben stopped navigating and the crew was giving both of us a hard time about it. But we turned it around and did get to Suncoast right at 7:00. 7:05 PM - Suncoast was also having a charity poker event, so they were a dealer short and were late starting the tournament. The poker room manager said that because the tournament might not start for 15 minutes, he'd give us the early-entry bonus, so all was good. There was one catch... since all seven of us wandered in at the same time, we were all (except Pete) put at one table. That was an odd dynamic, as we could have stayed at home and not dealt with Jimmy's flying issues (or my directional imbalance) and played a home game. But the competitiveness got to us and we played a little bit of cutthroat poker. We did have a non-group join our table (out of 25ish entries at $70/each), and Jimmy baited him and I thought the other guy would get pissed off, but he gave it back to Jimmy as good as he got it, and they each raised a glass to each other as it was all in good fun. 8:15 PM - I fell out of the tournament before the break to the non-us guy (who proved to be quite the drinker) so I headed to the casino floor for my first real gambling of the trip. Emboldened with the big Red Rock win, I decided on Royal Flusher's Strict Rules of Parley... I cut off the pic, but that was clearly quarters. The half dollar parley hit, so onto dollars... OK, so I bailed on dollar video poker, but Frogger was very nice to me. 9:30 PM - I cashed out with a ticket for about a $400 profit, and for that brief (oh, so brief) moment, I was over $1000 up on the day. 10:30 PM - I met up with Phil and played some double-deck blackjack, giving away $200 of my uppage, before the group caught up with us, celebrating Ben's win in the poker tournament. 11:30 PM - We headed back downtown, and Phil, Scott, Ben and I decided we were a bit hungry and headed to Binion's Cafe for their apparently wonderful hamburger. I had never tried it and decided to give it a go... It was alright. Nothing special. It was fine. Would I have it again for $6, sure. Would I go out of my way? Maybe not. One of our traditions is that tournament winners buy the next meal, so I picked up the tab, said good night to everybody, then I headed to the Downtown Grand to check in and go to bed.