"I'd like to welcome you all to the Sixth Annual Conference on Chemical Incapacitation..." -- beginning of the Toast to Sonya and the Board at the patio party. This isn't a chronology or anything, and I've missed a lot of stuff but I just wanted to highlight a couple things. Surrender the Booty That was what my T-shirt for the poker tourney said -- a skull/crossbones pirate t-shirt that Cindy had sent me from St Croix. Figured it might bring me better luck than, say, a t-shirt that said "ATM". It worked. Thanks again Cindy! Heck of a table draw. Two former champs (Jack21 and Royal Flusher), and a bunch of good players, Sticky and Mikey among others. Started out the usual way, with nobody buying my bluffs, so I backed off and waited for better hands. Meanwhile, to my right, one of the former champs (Jack21) was assembling a stack after knocking off pocket aces and a flush with quad jacks, which cooled off the table for a while. At the first break, I'm really hungry, and dash off to Mermaids for a dog, which in true downtown fashion, I paid for in silver. It accelerated a bit when Eric and I got into it - I don't recall all the cards, but I took a big pot off of him, a little while later he took one back off me, then he pushed all in, with me holding queens. I wasn't feeling too good about it, but I called and he turned over... 6-3 offsuit? I think he was looking forward to showing that after getting everybody to fold, not so much after getting called. heh. But wait - the flop and turn gave him four to a straight, just needing a five to cripple my stack. Last card wasn't a five. But the dealers started counting the pile. WTF? I have him covered! (Everybody knows this) I was starting to think I was missing something, something I'm not seeing is giving him the hand... but no, they're just making sure I had him covered. Something like a $14K pot - I know this because I heard Dougie on the other side of the dealer from me say, "who gave Doc Al fourteen thousand in chips??!" Which really wasn't a good thing because now I'm willing to take some chances vs the short stacks. Don't recall the order, but I wound up finishing off Mikey, and Sticky, and Dougie, and some Crazy Beach at the end of the table. When Dougie went out he handed me a ring inscribed with "Player", which I guess was for whoever knocked him out. Made it to the final table and knocked out Scott (getting his plastic viking helmet as another trophy), and SteveB. SteveB was mad about something on that hand, I think I heard him saying "how can you call that with...", but they were already dealing another hand and I had to get busy stacking his chips. heh. Seriously though, I was getting lucky a lot too - small pair vs two large cards, and a set comes on the flop. That kind of stuff. But the bubble was interminable. I was trying to work on more short stacks (mikenhe and DonD in particular) but my mojo was pretty much used up. In fact Don almost took me out, but I got bailed out on a split pot. And I was also making the mistake of tangling with eventual winner prometheusG at the end of the table, which I really shouldn't have been doing. So at the end I landed at 4th on a busted wing and a prayer. But it was fun. So I took the underwear off my head and went to collect my winnings. Oh yeah, maybe I forgot to mention. In the middle of all of this Serious Poker Action, I'm staring down the board in the middle of a hand, but I'm also noticing the peanut gallery is getting kinda frisky, and there's flashbulbs going off like it's the first pitch of the World Series. Whatever, I'm concentrating. Something brushes my ear. Turns out... there's a pair of sky blue womens panties (inscribed "Dynomite") hanging off one the horns of my acquired viking helm. Has been, in fact, for about the last ten minutes, maybe more. But they came in handy as sort of a do-rag/helmet liner, because that was one uncomfortable viking helm. But that just meant they started hanging other stuff on the horns ... got to be a reflex, just dumping the helmet every couple minutes or so. Whatever. I still gots da chips, rail-biyatch! Hotel thoughts or Robin Leach meets Rick Steves Stayed at the El Cortez and the Wynn. At the El Cortez I got one of the dreaded "Vintage Queens" - rooms in the oldest part of the building, right up the steps from the casino floor. Turns out it was decorated much the same as the renovated Tower rooms. In fact the bathroom was nicer and more spacious than the Tower room bathrooms. And it was quiet, I only occasionally heard muffled announcements from the casino floor. But it had already had evidence of hard use/neglect, as all the faucet handles in the bathroom were loose. And -- this was odd -- the TV would come on whenever you turned on the light on walking into the room. In fact, if that switch was on, but the TV was off, having the heater come on would turn the TV on again. Which my neighbor never figured out, because all night, his TV would come on for 30-45 seconds, then go off. But overall, if you just need a cheap, decent place to crash, it's nicer than you might expect. Here's a couple pics: Now I thought I'd booked the Encore for the last night, but turns out it must not have gone thru. I still got into the Wynn on the same deal, so no harm, but still... anyway, the Encore "promenade" and casino areas are very, very nice, and there are a number if nice bars/gathering areas around the perimeter of the casino. Although it gets a little claustrophobic after a while. Considering it's the same size as Wynn, the public areas (including the pools) seem undersized. Gratuitous Wynn and Encore pics. Didn't get many, just wandered around slackjawed most of the time. On the last day I made my way down Las Vegas Boulevard to some of the off-strip properties. Started with South Point, which I've wanted to see for a while, being that it's Jackie's son's place. Well, the best thing to be said for it is, it has a lot of space, and a lot of bars. Pretty large race/sports book area, so if you can't get a seat on NFL sunday anywhere else, drive down here. Otherwise... not much of a draw. Next stop was the new M Resort. It was like going from taco bell to, well, Ken's house for dinner. I really liked how the design of the place worked with the surrounding desert. And very modern and chic and whatnot, with some nice looking lounges, including one where you could sit out on a patio, overlooking the pool and into the valley beyond. Didn't feel any gambling love here, though, so I moved on. Coming back up the I-15 I stopped at Silverton. A little gimmicky in design, it was also a good compromise between the other two places. And I got free slot play and a cafe half-off coupie for slot signup! So I had lunch here and played a little VP. Some pretty good VP here IMO. Even found a slightly older Game King multidenomination machine with nickel 9/6 JoB -- although I was "poisoned" by this point by quarter VP. Here's a couple pics of the Airstream trailer converted into a tiny bowling alley in the Shady Grove lounge. Maybe you can "break The Bank" -- Oops! Last thing, and there's no way around it -- it's more fun to win. I'm not much of a gambler really, and my trips are usually a combination of small wins punctuated by larger losses. We've all been there. Not this time. Mind you, my whole trip together doesn't combine to even a single one of CoasterKikky's hits but it's nice to just keep coming out ahead. Which I did most trip. El Cortez was particularly good to me. Had some free slot play from a fun book plus an ACG, which I put into some slot or another and ran from 15 to 30 bucks, then put that in a double bonus VP machine and the second hand came up quad fours. So I rolled their free bucks up to 100+. I'll take it. Then later I ran into DonD at the El Co, he was walkin' in, I was walkin' out. He tells me "Doc, I gotta show you this new game." So we go over and start playing this game called "Three-way Action Poker" or something like that. Sort of like one hand of 5-card draw poker then with two extra cards to make a 7-card hand. You get paid for your dealt hand, for your draw, and for the final 7 card hand. Obviously the best thing is to hit a good hand like quads right off the bat, and keep getting paid on it. And I got quad queens fairly soon of the bat, which was good, because this is also one of those penny slot type things where max play is 90 credits at two cents each or something like that, and I wound up running my queens win down to a couple bucks at one point. Then Don hit quads plus trips at the end for 12000 credits (x2, divide by 100... hey that's 200 bucks!) and I thought, man *I'd* like one of those hits. And... I got one a short while later. Sweet! This one I cashed out. Table games were good to me too. Not amazing, just good, so that I could have fun, not worry about it, and cash out up at the end. That's a good day, tater. Like I said, it doesn't add up to a single W2G, but really, IMO you only need to gamble as much as the wins are fun and the losses don't bug you that much. Roll Credits... I've got a ton of folks to thank, as usual: - thanks DonD for pointing out the game, and introducing me to people around the Plaza and El Co, and getting us a limo to go down to the suite party - thanks Eric for the happy hour and cabana time, that was a great time (as usual). Glad you could join us for dinner and now you know where the Venetian is. heh. - thanks Angy for hosting the suite party again, and in general letting us riff-raff hang about. - thanks Mikey for the dinner invite, always a good time that ends up with me laughing until my stomach hurts. And thanks for the tip about the shape known as the "oval" - I bet that's gonna come in handy. - thanks Dougie for giving birth to the poker tourney, I know it wasn't easy. I'm just glad I could participate for more than 30 or so minutes this time. - to everyone who made it, nice to see you again or meet you for the first time, hope you all had fun, let's do this again some time!