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Ultimate Texas Hold 'Em and other games (Cromwell, Palazzo)

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by UTHer, Sep 4, 2017.

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  1. UTHer

    UTHer Tourist

    Joined:
    May 3, 2014
    Messages:
    10
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    10

    My Trip Report

    Prologue

    After having enjoyed several of the reports here, I’m contributing my own. Warning, it’ll be long. Some reasons for the trip:
    1. A buddy of mine was going to be in town for a little work conference
    2. I had some nice offers piling up from previous trips’ play
    3. This developed after the trip was originally planned, but it turns out I’ll be switching roles at work after Labor Day, so this week would be a good chance to clear the brain..
    4. Who needs reasons, really?
    I’ve used room offers before, but only for a night here and a night there; I kinda felt like I was missing out on some of the value from the 5 night stay offers, so after some lobbying with the wife I got myself a 5 night hall pass. The only condition was that I avoid the weekends. Done and done. The offers which I booked:

    Cromwell, Mon 2/28 - Sat 9/2 + $375 Promo chips
    Palazzo, Tues 2/29 - Sat 9/2 + $800 Free bets + $300 F/B
    NYNY, Mon 2/28 - Thurs 8/31 + $250 F/B

    I originally double booked Cromwell and Palazzo since my friend would be needing a place to stay after his conference was over, and for the freebies, of course. I added the NYNY room once I realized I had some Mlife money as well; I could’ve chosen any of the Mlife properties, but the nicer ones like Bellagio or Aria came with less F/B credit, and I wasn’t really planning on staying in this room anyway.

    Monday, 8/28

    JFK - LAS

    On this trip I wanted to bring a nice bottle of wine for one of the dinners, which meant I’d definitely be checking a bag. So, I packed one of my bigger suitcases with the wine, a laptop (had a small bit of work I’d need to check in on), and more clothes and shoes than I’d normally carry, if only for padding. After zipping everything up it felt really heavy… like, over the 50 lb. limit heavy. We also don’t have a scale anywhere at home so I had no way to know for sure.

    AA’s website lists hundreds of dollars worth of fees for going over their weight limits, and, not knowing how serious they were, I had no choice to bring along an extra large duffel just in case I needed to repack at the airport. At the bag check I’m greeted with my first Lucky Win of the trip:
    [​IMG]

    I comment “whew, just made it” to the check-in lady, who says I actually had up to 70 lbs. allowance for being Platinum. I’m still not sure if I believe her, as that doesn’t seem to agree with what the website says, but whatever. Anyway, I mention Platinum status because it’s pretty useful for getting standby upgrades, but on this flight I was third in line :blah: So, not that great a chance. I loiter around the gate just in case, and to my disappointment they board the plane without upgrading anyone.

    I’m in my seat waiting for takeoff when they call my name to buzz the attendant… who comes by with my first class boarding pass! I’ve never had it happen while seated on the plane like that. I’m assuming some of the online check-ins didn’t show up.. or maybe the gate agents just screwed up and forgot to clear the upgrades. But in any event, I’ll of course take my first class seat for Lucky Win number two!

    The ride is uneventful. I try to keep my mind off Vegas by reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. I’d started this book maybe 8 years ago but judging by the bookmark I’d made it about 30 pages in. I start from the beginning. A couple times I get sleepy and take a nap in between chapters. By the time we land I’ve made it maybe 2% of the way through the book (but at least past the bookmark!). I’m not feeling confident about my prospects of finishing this book on this trip; oh well, perhaps in another 8 years.


    Uber

    My priority-tagged bag is one of the first onto the carousel (ok, that’s the last subtle brag about Platinum status), and I’m off to find my Uber. I book the Uber while walking to the pickup area in the parking garage, and arrive just about the same time he does. Nice, things are humming along. We make the usual chit-chat about where I’m visiting from, yadda yadda. I must’ve somehow given off the first-timer vibe, because I notice we’re driving south (you know where this is headed). Hm, ok, I’ll try to give him the benefit of the doubt and check Google maps; the route going up 15 takes about the same amount of time as going up paradise, even if it is bit longer distance-wise. I decide I don’t really mind the long-haul if it doesn’t cost me time.

    As I’m thinking this, we drive right past the 15 north exit, headed west. WTF? I’ve heard of long hauls but this is a new one. I ask if he knows where we’re going, and I think then he realizes he’s been found out. He mumbles something about traffic, then confirms “we’re going to the Cromwell, right?” He then takes the next exit just to get back on the highway going the other way, then back onto 15, which by the way is smooth sailing. So much for that traffic. Here’s the route as reported by Uber:
    [​IMG]

    I stay quiet the rest of the way, craning my neck to gawk at the pretty buildings like an okey-dokey tourist, then thank him kindly for the ride. I don’t want to tip him off as to what’s coming next. Later, when I get to my room, I’ll file a complaint with Uber about the ride, regarding a suboptimal route. I’ll be immediately refunded $9.25 of the $20.86 fare; and I mean immediately, like as soon as I click. I’m not sure if there’s some algorithm that’s validating the distance of these long-haul complaints or if they just automatically throw some money at the unhappy rider, but either way I’m satisfied with the result. Seriously, did that guy think he’d get away with this?


    The Emissivity of Black

    I have a pre-checkin ritual where I bet once on black. The origins of this go back to college, where in our first Vegas trips we had one of our group who was a physics major who swore that “emissivity” caused the air to be slightly thinner above the black numbers on the roulette wheel. We’ve since lost touch with him (that’s a different story altogether), but his memory lives on in the “emissivity of black” bet, or just “emissivity” for short. I don’t really play roulette otherwise, but I do need to bet the Emissivity at least once per trip, so at some point it became the thing to do after dropping off my bags with the bellhop, on the way (okay, with a slight detour) to registration.

    However, the Cromwell has a weird setup. I walk up to the guy who I thought was the bellhop, but instead he offers me a water (sure, thanks!) and walks we right up to the checkin desk. He brings the water as I’m checking in, and I tip him. But when I’m done, I turn around and he’s still there, and now he wants me to follow him to my room… along the way he tells me all about the building, the nice restaurants (did you know that Giada is a famous TV chef?), the room, etc. He eventually talks me through every aspect of the room, all the way through to the bathroom. I distinctly remember that the last factoid he mentions is that the bedroom floors are made of wood (cool). Finally the tour is over, and I’m not sure whether I should tip him again (what’s the verdict on this? FWIW I had my own bags the whole time), but he doesn’t really present the opportunity and is gone.

    Ok, so now I’m in my room a little disoriented. I’m in my room and still haven’t gambled. What to do now? I decide to go down to the cage to collect my $375 in promo chips, and see what I can do with those. I walk around the Cromwell looking for a good spot, but honestly the place was pretty dead (it was around 11am at this point). Luckily, I read the fine print on bet vouchers, and they say they’re good at any CET property; so, off to Caesars!

    I take a beeline across the bridge, into Caesar’s lobby, over to the high limit room, right up to the single-zero roulette table. I plop it all on black; the floor understands what’s up and comments, “I prefer the Don’t Pass myself”; to which I reply, “takes too long to resolve.” This is only half-true. More importantly, I can’t bring myself to make a line bet without maxing the odds, and at this point I’m not yet warmed up to the $2250 max odds I’d need to lay on a $375 Don’t. That plus I only bet Don’t when shooting by myself. But most importantly: EMISSIVITY.

    To wit: first spin lands BLACK. Dealer tallies up the vouchers and pays out $375. These are the vouchers you can keep betting until you lose, so I keep them right where they are and add a green chip from my new winnings. Next spin: BLACK. Dealer slides me four black chips. I add one of them to the bet. Sadly the next spin is RED, but I’m glad to walk away with a fresh $650 in chips.


    Donkey Games

    Next stop: Mississippi Stud. This is not my game of choice (that being Ultimate Texas Holdem, which we will get to), but it’s a good warm-up. I find it’s actually quite a bit swingier on a per-bet basis than UTH, but it also has a built-in speed limit: if you’re playing optimally, the max unit you should bet on most tables is $10. To show my logic on this: let’s say there’s a max table aggregate payout of $50,000 (which is what you see in most casinos, Caesar’s included). The royal pays 500:1, which means that any amount over $100 that you’ve bet will not be paid out in full. If you’re playing optimal strategy, you’ll have bet 8 units on a royal, which means the max ante you should ever be putting out is $12.50. And Caesar’s doesn’t let you bet in increments of one (I tried), so the max you can actually bet is $10. Also, this doesn’t account for other players’ winnings, which would eat into that max table aggregate; it shouldn’t come into play with a $10 ante, but theoretically could if you had another player who hits a straight flush (100:1) while you hit the royal.

    Anyway, enough nerding out over the math of Mississippi Stud. I lose a few hundred bucks because this game sucks, cash out my remaining couple hundred or so, and get up to go back to the Cromwell.

    I decide I've had enough foreplay; time for UTH, or as I like to call it, the Cadillac of Donkey Games. At the Cromwell UTH table I pull a $2k marker and we’re off. I start off at an $80 ante, which is about the right size for me. Going by similar math as with Mississippi Stud above, the most you should be betting at UTH is about a $90 ante. TBH I’m not sure why I chose $80 and not $90; but that’s the bet I’d stick with for most of this trip.

    It does not go well. I don’t remember all the details but it was up and down, punctuated by bouts of freefall; I do remember one particularly bad stretch where the dealer had KK twice and two full houses in the span of ~10 hands. I think I was in for the 4x raise on at least three of these, so that’s some 20 units right there evaporated. I’m saved by the bell when it’s time to leave for my massage. Not too sure but I think I escaped with about $500.


    The Mandarin Oriental

    I like to set aside a spa day on each trip. Usually it’s near the end, but this time I thought I’d mix it up with one at the start. Mixing it up further, I wanted to try the Mandarin Oriental, which of course isn’t attached to any gaming so is never going to be comped. But I’d read good things and the prices were actually quite a bit better than the other big spas on the strip, so I took the plunge (so to say).

    In short: very impressed. MO might be the best Vegas spa I’ve been to, which includes Caesar’s, Bellagio, Aria, and V/P. The one thing they might be missing is the ice room which Caesar’s has, but it’s made up for with great views of the strip, and really airy, bright facilities; in contrast, most other spas feel like a weird dank grotto full of naked men. On that topic: I prefer being naked at the spa, but more and more I’ve been seeing guys in swim trunks. Not to stereotype, but it seems generational too; I’m in my early-mid 30’s, and all the naked guys seem to be my age and older. What’s going on here? Anyway, I’m the only naked guy for a while with two college-ish aged kids who apparently enjoy soaking their shorts in ball sweat; but the nude cavalry arrives soon after to even out the numbers.

    After enjoying the facilities for a while it’s time for my massage. I get the “East Meets West” for two hours, which involves deep tissue mixed with some assisted stretching. The deep tissue part is so effective I doze off and start snoring; and then the stretches invigorate me going out the door. Fantastic, I highly recommend this treatment.

    By now it’s 5:30 or so, and it’s time to check in on my wife and toddler. Did I mention I left my wife alone with our toddler for a week? She’s truly an angel, and TBH I’m still not sure why she even let/encouraged me to take this trip, but I wasn’t about to question it. That’s not to say that I didn’t help out extra around the house in the weeks leading up to the trip, and let’s just say that the big Disney World vacation with her extended family in a few months wasn’t exactly my idea… but again, she really is a great wife and mom (hi honey if you’re reading this!).

    We have a video chat after I finally find a quiet place upstairs in Twist by Pierre Gagnaire. It’s closed Mondays so it’s empty and I feel kinda creepy being in there, but it’s a good place to have our chat. Afterwards I walk across to the MO Bar, which I’ve also heard raves about, and it does not disappoint. The view is grand, as advertised, though it does overlook some run-down urban blighty stuff. I order my go-to, the Boulevardier; the bartender comes back with what might be the best version I’ve had so far. He used Noah’s Mill (from the same distillery as Pappy), and a combination of Aperol and Campari for the Campari portion. Bravo, sir.
    [​IMG]


    NYNY, Bizarro Drai's, and the Mansion

    Considered another drink at the MO, but I’m already feeling this one and realize I haven’t eaten since breakfast on the flight. I need to check in at NYNY anyway, so I head over there and grab my key card from the kiosk. Again, I only have this room for the $250 MLife dining credits that come with it, but I go up there anyway to have a look and leave a little tip for housekeeping. Downstairs, I grab a Guinness with Fish and Chips at Nine Fine Irishmen:
    [​IMG]

    I don’t know why, but I had this exact meal on a random trip once and come back for it whenever I’m nearby. Anyway, it hits the spot and I’m ready to roar back into action. And not a moment too soon because I get a text from my friend saying that he’ll be at his company party at the Cromwell. Perfect; I head back that way.

    So, my friend, let’s call him Chuck D, is in town for a super geeky nerd convention. He works for some dweeb tech company and they’re in town selling or buying or demoing their stuff to the other dorks or something, I dunno. Anyway, DweebTech has apparently rented out Drai’s for a private party, so the usual eye candy that can be spotted at the Cromwell has been replaced by tech bros in striped shirts. This drains my mojo and I blow up most of another marker at UTH and craps. I’m walking back to the craps table from the restroom when I hear Chuck D calling my name; I request evac, and soon we’re in a cab back to MGM, where he’s staying.

    So, it’s been a long day for me (I was up at 4 AM in NYC) and he has work the next day, but we do have one item to get to: I want to see/play at the Mansion. I sit down at the one Bac table with a nice Australian(?) guy. The table eventually fills up with some players taking mid-five figure markers, so I figure things ought to get lively, but they don’t. I with my puny $100 bet seem to be the only one cheering when the table (some with several thousand out) pulls a natural. I mean, I get that sometimes you have to bring your own party but I just can’t right now… so at one point I realize I’m up a hundy and dart up to leave. The dealer and floor freak out, like I’m robbing the joint. Oops, I owe something like $55 (lol) commission. Yay, $45 profit!

    Manage to cab back to Cromwell, and I'm out like a light.
     
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  2. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Messages:
    17,750
    Location:
    Missouri
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    21
    Nice start! And welcome to the forum!
     
  3. Richard Alpert

    Richard Alpert LOST

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2015
    Messages:
    7,740
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    11
    Awesome first message--right to a TR! :thumbsup:
    Welcome to the Board! :D

    RICHARD
     
  4. ardee

    ardee VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2007
    Messages:
    8,089
    Location:
    SoCal
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    105
    I'm gonna remember the emissivity thing on our trip next week. Thanks! :thumbsup:
    Welcome to the board.
     
  5. amk121

    amk121 VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2012
    Messages:
    1,814
    Location:
    east coast
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    22
    Welcome to the board! Great TR so far!
     
  6. UTHer

    UTHer Tourist

    Joined:
    May 3, 2014
    Messages:
    10
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    10
    Tuesday, 8/29

    Breakfast and Palazzo

    I wake up around 7:30 and wander down the strip in search of breakfast. As I pass Mon Ami Gabi I see that there’s still plenty of outside seating; sold! I get some coffee and eggs benny, and eat slowly waiting for the fountain show.
    [​IMG]

    I finish eating and still no fountain show, oh well, still a good meal. Inside Paris I stop and play Mississippi Stud over some comped Bailey’s and coffees; I actually make a little money before I realize that this game still sucks and leave.

    I have to take care of some work for a few hours (boring) and around noon head to the Palazzo. Check-in isn’t for a few hours so I plop down at a UTH table and start firing away. V/P is cool in that they’ll actually allow you to play two hands of UTH at once. The second hand has to be dealt/played face-up, I presume to prevent you from covertly switching your cards around or something. I go two hands at $50 for a while, then bump it to 2x$80. All the while burning down my stack. At around 2PM I’m tired of getting kicked in the teeth and decide to see if they’ll check me in early.

    The checkin line isn’t all that bad, only a few minutes. When I get to the desk the dude takes my card and ID, punches some stuff in, then tells me oh, you’re actually a VIP guest and why don’t you go to that exclusive room over there and stand in another line.. Arrrrgh! :bang: Thankfully there’s no line in the VIP room, but that was a little aggravating; maybe I missed it but I never understood that I have any special status at the V, nor that there’s a separate checkin line for whatever I am. Also, I’m a table game player so I have literally zero Grazie points (only slots accrue those) and therefore total bottom of the scum barrel status as far as I know. Can anyone explain how this works?

    Oh well, I grab some exclusive VIP cookies in the lounge, and to be fair they are rather tasty. After checking out the room I go claim my $800 in free play chips, which along with the leftovers from earlier that afternoon give me a credible threat to mount a comeback. But nope, it’s another bloodbath and I quickly burn up the freeplay, and escape with maybe a couple hundred cash. Now, at this point I realize I’m not painting a very attractive portrait of UTH as a game, but I promise it does get better. In fact, in hindsight this would be the low point financially of the trip.

    Went back up to the room to check in with the family for a great pick-me up. Mentally, I was ready to keep fighting. The body, not so much. Time to refuel.


    The Comeback Begins

    For whatever silly reason, I wanted to try Bruxie over at The Park. Actually, the reasons aren’t so silly:
    • I live in NYC, and many of the popular places in Vegas are actually retreads of local joints: Carbone, Scarpetta, Morimoto, Milos, Masa, Le Cirque, etc… not that these aren’t all great, but when traveling I’d just prefer something I can’t get at home (says the guy who just had fish and chips last night…). Bruxie is from LA, from what I gather; certainly not NY anyway.
    • I needed to start using up that Mlife food credit.
    • Seriously, why has no one made a fried chicken waffle sandwich before? I feel like the idea deserves to be rewarded.
    I cab it to Monte Carlo, which is very much still in renovation mode, and walk through to the Park. On the way I spy a UTH table with a nice little progressive brewing; more on that later. But anyway, back to Bruxie: I walk in and it’s empty. I wonder for a second if I’ve snuck in before opening, but then I see some diners over in the corner, and a guy behind the counter who asks me how it’s going. Cool, let’s have a waffle fried chicken sandwich!
    [​IMG]

    It was delicious. I want more of this in my life. Bad beat: they aren’t actually part of the MC/Park, so I can’t charge it to my room. But oh well, still a fine meal. I am good to go. That UTH table is still in my mind, so I head back into the MC.

    A lot of UTH tables, and poker carney games in general, around town have a $1 progressive side bet that you can make. There’ll be a counter showing the jackpot, which you typically win by flopping a royal. I first got hooked on this by the one at Caesar’s, which I think got up over $300k before some lady won it the weekend before one of my trips. This is a photo I took to share the bad news with a buddy of mine who was chasing it with me:
    [​IMG]

    Another nice one was when the Venetian jackpot got up over $1M this past February, though their side bet is $5, so scale accordingly. I was actually there at the table when the counter passed the million mark, and we all let out a little new year’s cheer. Not sure how big that one got but the dealers told me it hit over the summer; it was down around $260k or so during this trip.

    Back to our story, the Monte Carlo’s UTH jackpot is sitting at a cool $160k; it’s no million, but at a $1 side bet I think this is currently the best one in town. I get to work, pulling out $3k in cash. Another “feature” of MC is that they have a posted table max of $25k, which means I’ll be betting $45 antes max. So, this game will play about 4x smaller than at the Palazzo; basically, a relaxing afternoon in comparison. That makes it all the more remarkable that I manage to go on a tear, and leave with just under $2k in profit; finally banking a nice UTH win for the trip! No progressive, but I’ll take it :woohoo:

    Not sure where I want to go next so I start walking along the monorail path, out the MC, through the Aria, Vdara, and into Bellagio. I used to haunt this place a lot more, before all the PGP penny pinching nonsense started (Mlife execs, are you listening?). But why not take the old girl out for another spin? I scope out the S17 BJ tables next to the craps pit. There’s one table with a guy playing wearing blue cleaning gloves; another with an old due in a suit playing while his twenty-something Asian ‘niece’ watches; and another with a guy who looks like he’s down to his last 3 bets or so.

    I choose to play with Blue Gloves. Come to think of it, this guy’s probably onto something here: casino chips have probably got to be the filthiest things I touch on a regular basis; and I ride the New York subway every day. Anyway, the guy turns out to be nice, and we go on a nice run together. I’m up maybe $600-$800 when Blue Gloves colors up and leaves. I don’t want to play alone so I move over to another table to join a player who wasn’t there when I arrived. A couple hands in I try to surrender and am told I can’t; oops, this is a double deck table. That’s actually slightly better in terms of house edge, or would be if I could remember the slightly different strategy for double deck. I just vaguely recall that you’re supposed to be a bit more aggressive with doubles and splits. Luckily, the corner cases don’t really come into play while I’m there.

    At one point I get dealt AA and joke about wanting to resplit it (I know it’s not allowed at double deck). The pit boss sternly says: “You can’t resplit aces here… you know you can’t do that,” then in an ominous tone, “...and we know you know you can’t do that.” I guess this is her way of putting me on warning about advantage play, lol? For the record I don’t actually count cards, though I will sort of vaguely keep some notion of if there’ve been a lot of low or high cards, as well as the penetration into the deck. I think this is the sort of pseudo-counting that ends up profiting the casino since it just makes people bet bigger with no real edge. Anyway, I do vary bets with my fluffy fake-count feelings as though I were actually counting, and I think this has set off some alarm bells in the past as I’ve definitely gotten some heat. But nothing more than careful watching by pit bosses; I think once they reviewed the tape they realized I’m actually just another dope more or less randomly pressing his bets.

    Anyway, real or not, the “count” gets “high” on a couple shoes and I pull off some well-timed presses. I buy back my marker and leave with I think around $1.5k in profit; the Bellagio seems to have me at closer to $2k (or they miscounted a different session which we’ll get to later in the trip). In either event, things are on the up and up.

    On the walk back to Cromwell I am unable to resist Ben and Jerry’s. Forget the name but this coffee-chocolately-chunky flavor is good for a little caffiene+sugar kick in the pants:
    [​IMG]

    I try to sit down at Cromwell UTH with my big boy ice cream cup but they won’t let me so I go eat it in my room like an a**hole. Big mistake on their part, because this gives me a chance to focus my brain and recenter my chakras (read: use the bathroom and change clothes) for a continuation of my comeback.


    The Plight of Mr. Happy


    If you’re familiar with UTH strategy bear with me and/or feel free to skip the next couple paragraphs. I won’t go over the basic rules, or even basic strategy, as there are plenty of resources online to learn those. I will say, though, that most people I see playing the game are doing it all wrong. They treat it like Let It Ride or other similar carney games where you try to tread water for hours while hoping to catch a big hand or two. But in UTH, optimal strategy will have you raising 4x preflop on many more hands than most people seem comfortable with; this turns the game more of a coin flip game like blackjack or baccarat. The average bet ends up bigger too: I’ve heard that it’s about 4x the ante, which seems about right; anecdotally, I find $80 UTH plays similarly to $300 blackjack, and needs to be bankrolled accordingly.

    You’ll also end up calling at the end with really funky-seeming cards, based on some basic math. A lot of people mess this part up too and think you’re a wizard when you sneak a win with 10 high. A dealer at Caesar’s got angry at me once for “counting cards”, which, granted, I was doing right in front of her, out loud and on my fingers. That, coupled with the aggressive preflop strategy, has most people looking at you like you’re a maniac. I get lots of “ooh, we gotta gambler here”-type comments.

    Back at the Cromwell, I ask the UTH table if they mind if I take first base, which is open. I always do this as a courtesy, but it’s especially worth mentioning for this story. No one objects and I sit down. Immediately I win a couple marginal 4x hands (something like K6 and J8 suited). The guy immediately to my left, let’s call him Mr. Happy, notes that I “got good cards” from taking “his” spot, and not-so-subtly hints that maybe I should throw a tip his way. I ignore him, which is about the most polite thing I can do. First of all, I could have just as easily caused him to get better cards. Second, based on the way he plays I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have made more than *maybe* one unit with those hands anyway.

    Now, one last thing about UTH: when the dealer is missing hands, it’s really good. Just like when the dealer is busting in blackjack. And just like in blackjack, you can get some really nice runs for the table when this is happening. Also like in blackjack, you could be that unlucky sad sack who’s getting dealt 6s against 7s and still losing while the rest of the table is going on a dealer bust-fueled rampage. This is basically what happens over the next couple hours or so: the dealer strikes out a ton (often with a pair on the board, which increases payouts) and the whole table is doing great and yukking it up. The whole table, that is, except Mr. Happy, who is getting dealt rags.

    At one point he gets dealt aces and doesn’t have enough for the 4x preflop bet. He tells me to give him 5 dollars to complete it; I’d like to say he asked, but it really was more like a demand. I say “this is a loan, right?” as I toss it his way. Aces lose. He throws a mini-fit. I feign sympathy and say he can keep the five. As he’s rebuying for another $100 (oh, so you did have money in your pocket?), he mumbles a few more words somehow blaming me for his luck.

    This goes on. Several times, I spot him out of the corner of my eye, literally turning his shoulders to stare me down. I’m not really worried about physical harm, but the thought does cross my mind that he might try something crazy like grabbing my chips, so I keep a bit more attention there. At one point the dealer makes a really slim pull to beat the table. To keep it genial I turn and make a comment like “can you believe that sh*t?”, and Mr. Happy starts… (not sure how to describe this) he starts sort of waving his fist, which causes his rings to rap against my watch, and not just one or two hits either. I’m not sure if this was intentional or if he was just spazzing out. TBH I’m still not sure.

    He actually gets down to another all in, and pulls another $5 marker from me. To his credit he actually pays this one back. But he eventually loses again, and then with a straight face he says “you took my cards and you’re doing good. You should give me $100.” The rest of the table is now watching this really awkward scene. Again I take what I think is the nicest/most passive line and just say hey, I did ask if you were ok with me sitting here. Some of the other players make comments to the effect that "the cards don’t know where they’re going", etc.; I get the sense that they’re not trying to get too involved, but clearly on my side of this.

    Anyway, Mr. Happy eventually switches seats to try changing his luck (it doesn’t work), then sometime later busts and leaves. I cash out soon after as the heater seems to be cooling down. I buy back my marker and have over $2k left over. At this point I’m about back to even on the trip, plus a few hundred extra. I get to bed around midnight, as I have to be up early in the morning.

    Just to tie up the story with some moralizing: we’re all going to have winning streaks and losing streaks at the casino, you can’t control that. What you can control is how you react to the bad times, and namely by not being a prick to other players at the table. I’ve had plenty of fun even at losing tables, because the players had a good attitude about it. And even at a winning table, one bad apple can sour the experience for everyone. Luckily we had a good cast tonight, and not even Mr. Happy could bring us down. Don’t be Mr. Happy.


    Up next: road trip!
     
    • Like Like x 2
  7. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Ugh $10,704.

    The $1 jackpot at my local has crossed over $200k recently. Highest I've ever seen it, definitely in positive territory before taxes.

    Nice detailed story about "Mr. Happy"!
     
  8. Char1

    Char1 VIP Whale

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    Following along your adventure.
    Good Luck
     
  9. IWannaBeInVegas

    IWannaBeInVegas VIP Whale

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    Loving this report. Cant wait for the next installment
     
    Planning has begun
  10. The Rumor

    The Rumor VIP Whale

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    ha, I saw that this weekend if it's the casino I'm thinking of!
     
  11. RedRiverRose

    RedRiverRose High-Roller

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    This report is great. I eagerly await more.
     
  12. UTHer

    UTHer Tourist

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    Thanks folks for the kind words, and for indulging me and my little mini-blog here with your attention. I'll try to keep things rolling.

    Regarding positive territory: It's not a slam dunk but definitely possible, depending on paytable. The standard jackpot payout I've seen is 100% for flopping a royal, and 10% for a straight flush. There are 4 royals, and 36 more straight flushes possible, out of C(52, 5) possible flops. So, if X is the jackpot, you're going to break even when:

    1 = [ 4*X + (1/10)*36*X ] / C(52, 5)

    solving for X, you get:

    X = C(52, 5) / 7.6 = 2.6M / 7.6 = about $300K

    So, disregarding the other paying hands, such a jackpot would be profitable at around $300K. The rest of the paytable varies from place to place, but let's say 4OAK pays 1000:1; that would contribute about 24% value and make things profitable closer to $200K.
     
  13. UTHer

    UTHer Tourist

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    Wednesday, 8/30

    On The Road: Boulder Strip

    Like a lot of people on this board, I have a $1 chip collection. I’ve collected most of the Strip/Downtown/Off-Strip casinos, but had yet to hit the Boulder Strip. Well, today’s the day! My plan is to try to hit as many of the Boulder Strip casinos as I can and get back to the Strip by lunchtime. The route as I preplanned it:
    [​IMG]

    I manage to actually wake up to my 5:30 alarm and Uber over to the Macarran rental car center. My reservation is for a Corvette, but the 911 next to it looks pretty sexy. I ask about the Porsche and it’s twice the cost, so I just keep the ‘vette.
    [​IMG]

    Another minor reason I chose the ‘vette is that it’s a convertible. This turned out to be kinda pointless, since I wound up spending a lot of time just opening and closing the top at each stop. I eventually just gave up and kept it closed for most of the trip. You might say that getting a fancy sports car was pointless as well since I’m literally driving like 5 minutes between casinos. I don’t think I ever drove it for longer than 15 consecutive minutes. I’m not a car guy by any means--I live in the city and consider it a perk not having to deal with car ownership. But man, I could tell this is a monstrous machine, and the subwoofer growl every time I hit the ignition never got old. I pretty much stuck to the speed limit and got over 80mph maybe once on the highway, but it was still a blast feeling the acceleration off the line at stop lights.

    The tour itself is uneventful. Most places I literally just park the car, go inside and buy my chip, and get going again. The only exceptions are: (1) getting a coffee at GVR, and (2) stopping to win a couple hundred playing craps at Sunset Station (I really just needed more $1 bills, heh). Some really random bad photos from the trip:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]



    This is the El Dorado casino, which doesn’t have table games at all. If you ever take a trip like this, learn from my mistake and first check for table games before just blindly going to any casino on the map.
    [​IMG]


    Speaking of mistakes, I decide to put the top down after Boulder Station, for the last cruise around the highway and back to the Cromwell. Bad idea: even with free flowing traffic, my skull bakes like a potato in the 100 degree heat. Lesson learned, except in early mornings there’s not a lot of value in having a convertible in Vegas.

    The final haul, not bad for a morning’s work:
    [​IMG]


    Javier’s, and UTH: Donkey Game to the Stars

    I get back into the Cromwell by 11:30. I turn my attentions to my most pressing concern, which is that I need to use up about $230 worth of Mlife dining funny money. I decide on Javier’s at Aria for lunch. I get the Javier’s margarita, which sounds a lot like a Cadillac margarita, and substitute Herradura for the Patron. Pro tip: I’ve heard independent People Who Know Tequila say Herradura is the best, so far be it from me to disagree. The margarita is good, but the real standout is the chips/salsa. It sounds really dumb to say, but Javier's might have my favorite chip/salsa spread ever: perfect amount heat, and the chips are ultra crispy.
    [​IMG]

    Trying to spend a bit more of the funny money, I get the scallops. I also add the $8 side of “Vegetables”, which I don’t think anyone’s ever ordered before because the waiter seems unsure that's even a thing. He asks how I want the vegetables prepared (steamed? grilled? sauteed?) and I think he’s talking about the scallops, and we spend longer than I care to admit sorting out that misunderstanding. Those are my steamed veggies on the right:
    [​IMG]

    The scallops are fantastic, perfect sear on them, and the sauce is tasty. The steamed veggies are… well, steamed veggies. They fill me with nutritious vitamins, I presume.

    With no real plans after lunch, I head towards Bellagio with a vague idea that maybe I’ll take another crack at blackjack. As I’m walking from the lobby down the casino floor I glance over at UTH to check out the scene. There are three seats filled and the minimum is $100… cool. I keep walking towards BJ and I’m past the Baccarat Bar when the delayed reaction hits me: What?? A 3-player $100 UTH table on Wednesday afternoon? This bears investigation.

    I sit down at first base and act like I’ve been there before, taking out a $5k marker. At the other end is a guy in a “Bellagio Las Vegas” t-shirt, next to him a pretty lady, and then an older gentleman. The last guy is playing quarters, so I guess he was grandfathered in. The other two are playing black chips and above.

    As it turns out, Bellagio Shirt is actually a celebrity that I think a good number of people on this board will have heard of, if not recognize. The clues which lead to this discovery:
    • He cracks a joke about being afraid of his own shadow lately and that’s why he’s staying indoors. It gets a grin from me, but the pit and dealers laugh just a little too heartily.
    • There’s some casual talk about that time he got too drunk and was betting $40k at baccarat.
    • A random dude walking past the table stops and gladhands him, saying “Hey [name], what are you doing here? You belong at the craps table!”
    • Those last three could have just meant he was another random high roller, but this last one was the smoking gun: when the older gentleman got up to leave, he casually asked “Hey, do you [pursue a certain activity]?,” to which the answer was a droll, “I used to.”
    When I was walking back later the clues finally came together in my head and I wondered, “oh, was that [name]?” Sure enough, some Googling confirmed it was him. Sorry if all these details are vague but both he and his wife/girlfriend were nice people and it seems like they’re honestly avoiding the public eye, so I’m not going to unnecessarily out them.

    Fans of the movie Swingers might also appreciate the following scene from the session: a guy walks up to the table wanting to play, and the dealer/pit boss subtly asks if he knows it’s a $100 table. The guy confidently says yes while pulling out *two* hundred dollars. The dealer hands him two black chips. Guy looks down at the chips, and we can see the gears turning as he realizes that it’s a $100 bet game, not a $100 buyin. Guy walks away. The only thing missing was Vince Vaughn standing tableside goading him into playing a hand. This exact sequence actually happened twice with two different guys, both for $200.

    Oh yeah, as to the game itself, it was a bloodbath. I ragequit when I got down below a 4x bet, so I’m guessing I lost ~4500 or so.


    Emeril’s and MGM

    I got some texts from Chuck D. First, he won $500 playing Hold Em Bonus list night. I’m certainly not one to judge anyone playing the donkey games, but LOL at him nonetheless. What’s more impressive is that he apparently did it with no big hands, just grinding it up. Hmm, maybe I should check this game out sometime. Second order of business, his nerd conference is over today and he might need to move into my Cromwell room early tomorrow. So, I pack everything up and by some miracle my luggage fits into the tiny Corvette trunk. Over to the Palazzo! Not gonna lie, it’s pretty fun cruising up the strip in a bright red muscle car.

    I spend the afternoon getting some affairs in order: family video chat, booking more spa time, dropping off the wine with the somm at Carnevino for tomorrow’s dinner. I technically have the Corvette until 6AM, but can’t really come up with a sensible plan for it that also lets me drink tonight. I can drink and gamble, but I can’t drive and gamble, so drinking wins. I dejectedly return the car around 7.

    Dinner is at MGM, and I pick Emeril’s. I get the Original Sazerac, which uses brandy as in the original recipe. It’s authentic, as far as I can tell, but I’m not sure it’s a good thing. Not a fan of the flavor.
    [​IMG]

    I still have a load of food credit and basically need to spend it tonight, so I treat myself to some oysters for one. Yum.
    [​IMG]

    I get the pecan-crusted redfish, which is excellent. No photos though. Here’s some bread instead:
    [​IMG]


    With a few bucks left to spend I consider blowing it (and a lot more) on some Pappy. Even in my spendy mood, this just seems overpriced and I can’t pull the trigger.
    [​IMG]

    Besides using up the funny money, the reason I came to MGM is so that I can hand off the Cromwell key to Chuck D, who’s staying here. He’s out with his dweeb coworkers, who collectively can’t seem to decide on anything, so it’s a lot of noncommittal texts as to when they might be headed back to MGM. No matter, I’ll can occupy myself as long as I need to.

    I have no appetite to return to the Mansion, and I’m still a bit stinging from UTH this afternoon. I decide on S17 blackjack, which is on offer at the low low price of $50. I basically tread water for a couple hours, periodically checking in on the adventures of Chuck D’s crew, who for whatever reason go the the Hard Rock Cafe for margaritas? Eventually he makes it back to the MGM, but then starts the world’s longest phone call with his wife back in his room.

    So I’m out there trying not to bust my roll this entire time. At some point I move over to double deck, and about one shoe in a motley crew of three shows up. I’ll call them the Whale, the Tuna, and the Bag Man. The Whale leads off with a bet of I think $3k. He parlays the win. Soon he’s betting the $10k table max, in chocolate ($5k chips). Meanwhile, the Tuna is betting much less, maybe $800 or so (still way more than me). The Bag Man is just watching and not playing. A couple times when the Whale busts his roll, he gestures to the Bag Man, who then casually pulls out some more chocolates for the Whale to play with. Most importantly, they were a fun group, win or lose, and even rooted for my puny $100 bets.

    We hit a couple good shoes. I’m pressing my wins, and get up to a $500 flat bet. By the time Chuck D wraps up his phone call upstairs and finds me at the table, I’ve made about $5k profit. Color up, please! :woot: I want to spend that last Mlife credit, maybe on some drinks, but Whiskey Down is just too rowdy. We decide to shut it down for the night.


    Nightcap

    I cab back to Palazzo, thinking about how I’ll spend tomorrow morning… but as I cross the casino on the way to the room I notice it’s not even 11 yet, surely there’s time for some UTH? I find a table with one other guy, a Chinese fellow, and take out a $4k marker. The guy’s been drinking and is pretty lively. Once he makes a remark to the pit boss, “I see the Italy people, they use kiss between two man for respect.” Then he blows a kiss to the pit boss, who acts alarmed, “Aaaa, no! I don’t want that kind of respect!” It was funny at the time, I think you had to be there.

    The Chinese guy also had no clue how to play, but it didn’t seem to be hurting him. He’d make bad folds which turned out to be right, or bet completely random hands preflop (I think 56 suited once), which would win. Meanwhile I’m getting rocked betting 2x$80, and am quickly down about $3k. But then things turn around and the dealer just can’t make a hand. As quickly as it went, I make back the $3k with a little extra. I think it all happened in about the span of one dealer break, as the dealer came back and had to do a double take at my there-again stack. Now we’re cooking with gas. I decide I’m going to go to bed at the next good chance.

    Problem is, a good chance doesn’t present itself. I start off thinking I’ll stop the next time I lose a double all-in (I call the 4x bets “all-ins”); that doesn’t happen, and I win or chop pretty much all of my double all-ins for the next couple hours. If that sounds outlandish, it’s not that far-fetched; in UTH you expect to win a majority of the 4x hands, which is another reason why I like this game. All the same, you expect to lose a couple every once in a while, so this is a very good run.

    I start to attract more attention from the pit bosses, who increasingly stop by to watch the hands play out. At some point they send The Cooler, a stern-faced grey haired pit boss, to stand over my shoulder. During one hand he breaks his motionless vigil by lunging at the card shuffler and pulling out the deck. I think maybe he suspected I was getting an edge by watching the shuffler (I was seated right next to it)? He orders a new deck be brought in immediately. None of this works, I keep crushing.

    Well, maybe it does work, because at some point I’m still winning but not feeling very welcome and start looking for an excuse to leave. I order a Boulevardier--my only alcohol for the whole session, probably another red flag for The Cooler--and have to explain how to make it, which is never a good sign. Apparently the bartender Googled it though, and it comes out alright. I tell myself I'll leave as soon as I've finished drinking my nightcap, and I actually do. I color up almost exactly $10k, for a profit of $6k on the session! :wiggle: I buy back all my markers at the cage, pocket the change, and go to bed.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Funny Funny x 1
  14. bmw7a

    bmw7a Tourist

    Joined:
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    Amazing trip report! Getting me in the mood for some UTH when I head to Vegas in 10 days. Its my favorite game too these days. Keep running good!
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. topcard

    topcard Older than the Stardust!

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    Quick note: I love this!
    :beer:
     
  16. topcard

    topcard Older than the Stardust!

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    On my last trip, the UTH dealer at 4-Queens was chastising me for some of my 4-plays... I explained to her that I played the correct, 'Shackleford' basic strategy...
    She says, "You 4x a Queen-Ten? Your strategy is wrong!"
    (I then win the hand)
    She says, "You got lucky!"
    me: "Yeah - I'm sure that's it."
     
    • Like Like x 2
  17. Lhammer28

    Lhammer28 High-Roller

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2007
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    I can't wait to get to Vegas and play UTH, I've been having the itch to play for a while now! I definitely enjoyed reading your posts!

    Now,I'm super curious about this celebrity tho!!!
     
  18. TIMSPEED

    TIMSPEED The biggest Degenerate on VMB

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    With that last comment about the celeb...it had to be Ivey...but would he dress so tacky as to wear a bellagio t shirt???
     
    Back with a bundle! (OF CASH!)
  19. Lhammer28

    Lhammer28 High-Roller

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    But why would Ivey belong at the craps table??
     
  20. The Rumor

    The Rumor VIP Whale

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    Ivey is a legendary craps player
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
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