And I suppose the title of this post really should be, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way Out of the Forum.”
But I wanted the title to match the musical I’m paying homage to exactly. You know that musical, don’t you? It’s the one that opens with the following:
But before I get to the story from whence the title came, I have to discuss a little poker first.
For this evening’s session, I decided to return Caesars Palace another shot. I failed to mention that the story I told here took place at Caesars. It wasn’t the bad beat that made me hesitant to return to Caesar—that could happen anywhere (and usually does). The reason I almost didn’t return was because of the temperature in the room that night was unbearably cold (as I’ve mentioned, this was a running theme during this trip—poker rooms almost as cold as the outside temperature). When I told my pal Don of the issue of the temperature, he told me that the back of the room is particularly bad and that the tables closer to the front are usually much more comfortable. My table was in the very back, of course, and my seat was as far away from the front as you could get.
So I went back there in hopes of getting assigned or reassigned a table where it wasn’t freezing. I arrived and was taken to a table right away. They took me right past a table with an empty seat in the very front. I asked if I could play at that one and they said no, a player from another table was moving there. So instead, they took me to the exact same table I had played at a week earlier, the freezing one. Worse, the open seat was the same one I had then, too.
Well, I would have asked for a table change immediately but it turned out that a player was leaving in a middle seat, so not quite so far in the back of the room as the other one. I took that seat instead, and figured if the temperature wasn’t more to my liking, I’d ask for a change.
And in fact, for the first half hour or so, the weather at my table was pleasant enough. And then, there was the poker….
One of the first hands I hand was pocket deuces. There was no raise, and in fact no betting at all. The flop was all face cards, more highish cards on the turn and river, no one took a stab at it, and my deuces were good. It was an $8 pot, but that sure as hell beats hitting a set with those deuces and losing your stack.
I limped in with pocket 6’s and then it was raised to $12. Another player called the $12, my call would close the action so I called. The flop was King-8-6, two spades. Remembering what happened the last time I caught a set in this room, and seeing those two spades, I decided to make a donk bet, I put out $25. The other reason for the bet was that I hadn’t been at the table very long, and hadn’t see the preflop raiser raise before, so I really had no strong feeling that he would c-bet and give me the opportunity to go for a check raise. The preflop raiser folded, but the other player called.
The turn card was the 6 of spades, not a bad card for me. This time I checked my quads and hoped that maybe the other player caught his flush. But he checked behind. The river was a blank. It looked like the other player had about $40-$45 left, so I bet $35. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think you’re more likely to get called if you don’t say “all-in” when you don’t have to. He immediately announced all-in, and I announced call and turned over my quads. He was showing the flush. Lucky for him he didn’t have more chips.
The very next hand I had Ace-King offsuit in the big blind. There were a bunch of limpers so I added $15 to my buck and had one caller. The flop was Jack-10-4 and my $25 c-bet took it.
Not too long later I called $12 with 6-5 of diamonds in late position. I was hoping a few of the early limpers would call but they didn’t and we were heads up. The flop was 8-7-7 rainbow. I called $20. The turn was a 9, giving me the straight (but the “ass” end of it, as I’ve recently started hearing it referred to). I called $40. The river was another 8. Yikes. Having a straight on a double paired board didn’t really thrill me. He put out $40 again and I went into the tank.
The reason I hadn’t raised the turn was because my straight was the bottom end and the board was paired. Now it was double paired. It pretty easy to believe he had a boat there. But I dunno, I guess I just had a feeling that maybe he didn’t. So I made the hero call. I was pretty surprised, pleasantly so, to see him turn over King-9 there. That was a nice pot to drag.
I had Queen-Jack of hearts in the big blind, no raise. The flop was Queen-high, one heart, I called $20, heads up. There was no more betting and my Queen was good.
I was up $235 but I had a dilemma. It was no longer comfortable at my table. It was freezing again, every bit as cold as the last time I’d played there. I couldn’t stay there and that was frustrating because obviously I was running well. I’d doubled up in less than 90 minutes. If poker was the only consideration, I’d have never considered leaving, but I was at the point where the cold was so bad I couldn’t really concentrate on the game anymore.
Of course, I could have asked for a table change in the hopes of finding a warmer spot. But here I became kind of superstitious (hard to believe for a poker player, I know). I don’t like changing seats when I’m running well, and I certainly don’t like changing tables when I’m running well. While I was wrestling with that, another problem presented itself. The table got short, and there were no players to replace the players who left. We were down to 6 at one point. And I realized that even if I wanted to change tables, it would be a good while before they could move me because they would want to fill up this table first. Either that or I could hang on and see if maybe they would break the table.
But I really didn’t think I could wait. It was just too unpleasant where I was sitting. So I felt I had no choice but to leave the poker room, even though it was too early to quit for the night. Now, there are any number of other poker rooms near Caesars of course. However, this brings me to the other issue of the night—my back. Actually, my back had felt real good all day, as good as it had been since I got to town. Then I drove to Caesars, parked a million miles away from the casino, and by the time I walked to the poker room, it was aching pretty good. If I walked to my car and headed to almost any poker room on the strip, that would still be a lot of walking.
So I started wondering if I could make it on foot to any nearby room. The trouble was that it was really cold outside, which would ordinarily encourage me to walk briskly when I was outside. But my back only allowed me to walk slowly. I was trying to figure out if I thought I could make it across the street to the Linq.
Then I had another idea. Just up the Strip from Caesars is Mirage, And you know, when I’m feeling ok, I’ve been known to park at the Mirage and walk to Caesars (because I hate the Caesars parking structure). If you exit Caesars from the northern most exit/entrance, you are actually only a few yards or so from the southern most entrance of Mirage.
The trouble is that at the northern most end of Caesars is something called “The Forum Shops at Caesars.” It is their big shopping plaza. So the closest entrance/exit to Mirage from Caesars is thru the Forum Shops.
I’ve walked through the Forum Shops many times over the years. And every time I do, I come out of there with but one phrase going through my mind. “Never again.” If I ever meet the architect/designer of this place, I will punch him in the face as hard as I can. If you’re familiar with it you no doubt know what I mean, and if you’ve never been there, there’s no way I could accurately describe it for you (and also, consider yourself lucky).
The place is a maze, and it is designed to make you walk as much as possible to get thru it. I swear, Magellan couldn’t find his way through it. When I enter it from the Strip, I always get lost trying to find the casino, reaching a dead end instead. Also, you have to go up one or two levels from the street (I never remember which) just to get to the level that actually has most of the shops and that goes to the casino. On top of that, the escalators are super slow and semi circular so it takes forever to go up or down a level….and then they are spaced so you have to do the maximum amount of walking from wherever you happen to be to get to them. There’s a point where are literally two feet from the bottom of the escalator and you can’t get there because of some barricade blocking you and you have to basically walk a city block to get on the damn thing, all in a big, useless circle.
So why would I even consider going thru the shops to get to the Mirage on this night? I mean, aside from the fact that I’m stupid?Well, I usually get lost coming in from the Strip and heading to the poker room. This time I was doing it in reverse. I figured it would be much easier to find the Strip from the casino than it is to find the casino from the Strip.
I wasn’t sure how much—if any—walking I’d save if I went thru the shops. But the important point was that it would be warm walking thru there, so I could walk slowly. The key though to making it work was to not waste any steps—in other words, not get lost.
Thus, I cashed out and proceeded to the shops. I kept looking for the fork that I knew I had to correctly navigate in order to take the direct route. And then….somehow, as much as I was looking for it, I totally missed it. Suddenly, after seemingly walking forever, I was at a freaking dead end, and had to double back. The scream I let out was likely heard at the In-N-Out Burger. Not the one on Tropicana. The one in Barstow.
Note: Yes there are one or two giant maps in the place you can look at, but because the place is so weirdly laid out, I found them totally useless. I was so mad, and by this time my back in so much discomfort, that I almost gave up and figured I’d just get back to my car and call it a night. But as I was retracing my steps, I realized what I had done wrong. There was a restaurant jutting out that, from the angle I approached it originally, looked like it didn’t have a way around it. It turned out that if I noticed I could make a right there, I would have found the exit to the Strip. Grrr. I decided to make my way to the Mirage as planned.
By the time I got near the exit, and had to take those stupid, slow moving escalators, I was pretty enraged, and then as I said, I had to take a long walk around to get to the front (hard to explain, but if you’re familiar with the place you know). I escaped, took a few more steps, and entered the Mirage.
By the time I got to the poker room there, I was in bad shape. My back hurt and I was actually sweating (because I was wearing a heavy jacket inside the Forum shops). And I was dying of thirst. I had to wait a good 20-minutes to get seated. By then, I was not really in the best frame of mind to play poker.
I don’t think that was the reason I lost my $200 buy-in in relatively quick fashion, however. It was mostly that I was getting bad cards, and a few second best hands. Nothing noteworthy enough to mention here. It wasn’t pretty though. When I was done, I still had a small profit for the night. But now I had to head back to Caesars. I was sure this time I would be able to find my way back to the casino from the shops. I was 100% positive.
And then when I got to the Forum entrance, it was freaking closed for the nite! My luck had sucked since the first hour of poker. I had to make my way back into Caesars the “long way” in the cold. Grr. Somehow I made it. I think I sat by a slot machine to catch my breath before heading to my car—which was parked a long way from the casino.