Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Promos & Pastrami

This is gonna be another multi-part post.  Because I haven't finished writing the whole thing, I'm not completely sure if it will be two or three parts—I'm thinking I can do it in two but on rare occasions I find myself getting a bit wordy so who knows?  But anyway, you will be rewarded for coming back to read part 2 as it will feature a famous Vegas & Poker celebrity!  In the meantime, enjoy part 1....

And I'm finally getting to some of the stuff from my late October visit to Vegas.  This one revolves around the MGM football promo.  I should mention that immediately upon my return to L.A., I learned that MGM discontinued the promo I'm about to describe.  The current promo is more or less the one they first introduced a few years back—random cash drawings each time a team scores during one of the evening NFL games.

But when I was there on this particular Sunday in late October, the promo was the one they had going last year, the poker parlay card.  Basically you have to fill out a "parlay card" which consists of five poker hands you have to get (and win with) in order to hit the promo.  And there has to be $40 in the pot.  And both cards have to play.  If you complete the card before the football game ends, you get $400.  After the game is over, you have until midnight to complete it and get $200.  At midnight, there's a drawing of all the incomplete cards (but they must have one stamp on it for making one of the hands) and two people get money.  I can't remember how much they get, but it's not as much as last year (I'm guessing $300 and $200).  The five hands you have to make are two pair, three-of-a kind, straight, flush and full house.  If you get quads or a straight flush, you can use it as a wild card and choose what hand to stamp.

Like most promos, I have a love/hate relationship with this one.  I love it when I hit it, and hate it when I don't.  In the story I linked to in the first paragraph, I hit the promo and decided that I liked it so much I suggested they could even run it when there wasn't a football game to go with it.  But then, on my last night in town in September, I tried it again.  I didn't hit it and I found myself playing stupidly trying to get there (I haven't written about that night and probably never will). 

But I was giving it another chance the first Sunday I was back in town in October.  Even though the game doesn't start until around 5:30pm pacific time, they start handing out the cards at 3:30, so you could conceivably fill out a card even before the game started.  In fact, one of the regs at my table in September was running good and completed a card during the first quarter of the game.

This night I got to the room around 4pm and had to wait about 10 minutes before getting a seat. On the second hand I was dealt, I raised to $10 with Ace-King and got two callers.  I bet $20 on the Ace-high flop and didn't get a call.

Not long after, I was in the big blind with 9-7 of hearts and no one raised and a lot of folks limped.  The flop was pretty good: 8-6-5, rainbow.  I led out for $6 and got a couple of calls.  The turn was a 10 and I bet something (couldn't remember when I made my notes) and it was heads up.  I looked at the rake, there was a red chip waiting to be dropped so that meant the pot was at least $50.  I didn't have to worry about the pot being big enough, just about winning the pot.  The river was a harmless low card and I bet $40.  He called but mucked when I showed and I got a stamp for making the straight.  That was a great start because as I've mentioned before, it's usually harder for me to make a straight than any other hand on the card—even a full house.

Not long after, the next dealer dealt me Queen-Jack of diamonds and I limped in after a few others had done the same.  The flop was Ace-Queen-4 and no one bet.  So when the turn was another low blank I bet something....but I'm not sure what.  I'm also not sure how many callers there were.  But there must have been a few.  The river was another Ace and this time I checked.  I could see that the rake had somehow gotten to $4—meaning a $40 pot.  If my two pair was good (Aces and Queens), I could get a stamp for it.  I figured I'd check in case someone was playing a weak Ace and had been afraid to bet it.  No one bet and my Queens were good, and I had my second stamp of the evening and it was still early.

I opened to $10 with pocket Queens and had one caller.  The flop was Ace-high and I tried a $15 c-bet, but he check-raised to $30.  I called.  The turn was a third diamond and we both checked.  The river was a blank and he bet $40. I let it go.

I opened to $10 with two Aces and got a call.  Medium flop and I bet $15 and he called.  I bet $30 on the turn, he called.  I checked the river when the board paired.  There was also a possible straight out there.  He mucked when he saw my Aces.

I had 10-6 off in the big blind and there was no raise.  A few of us saw a King-10-x flop and I called $10 with middle pair.  There was no more betting.  The river paired the King and my pair of 10's were good.

Next dealer gave me 9-6 in the small blind.  I called $6 because a few other folks already had.  The flop was 9-9-2.  I donked out $5 and got a call.  I bet $10 on the turn and $15 on the river, both blanks, and he called each time.  He didn't show when I opened my hand.  But the pot was over $40 so I got a stamp for three-of-a-kind.  Three stamps and there was still plenty of time in the game left to get those last two stamps.

But I had a bit of dilemma.  I needed to eat.  I really couldn't wait for the game to finish. Yeah, even though I was running so well, was up at least $100 and was 3/5's of the way to the promo money, I had to take a quick dinner break. Medical conditions demanded it. Fortunately, I'm a fast eater.  However, I had learned on my last day in town in September that the Stage Deli at MGM, located next to the sports book, was about to close down for good.  I think I ate there on the last night it was open!  That was pretty bad news. The Stage Deli wasn't great, but it was a very decent place to use one's poker comps and not get completely hosed.  I'd say it was almost reasonably priced (especially when you consider how expensive everything else is at the MGM).  They had a couple of things I liked, particularly the roast beef sandwich if you put BBQ sauce on it.  Over the past 10-12 years, I must have consumed a few hundred sandwiches from there—almost all of them paid for with poker comps. And it was about to be gone.  That night, I asked some of the poker room staff, but they all were shocked to hear from me that the place was closing.  So they couldn't answer the most obvious question:  What, if anything, was going to replace to it?

Well, while I was back in L.A., I heard from one of my spies that a new deli opened up in the same location.  This one was called the "Sports Deli."  I had looked it over a few times since getting back to town but this Sunday night would be my first chance to give it a try.  Even before I ate there I noticed a few things about it that were problematic.  For one thing, the menu offered a much smaller selection of items than the Stage Deli.  They didn't even have a roast beef sandwich—at least not like the one I used to get.  And they don't even have any kind of rolls you could put your sandwich on, just white, wheat or rye bread.  The other issue was the price.  The sandwiches were all at a buck or two more expensive than they were at the Stage Deli.  A pastrami or a corned beef sandwich was now $14.99 (if memory serves the last price they had for that at Stage Deli was like $13.25).

This was my actual sandwich
So I got my comp printed out and rushed over to the new deli to give it a try.  Well I can honestly say that they make up for the new higher prices and worse selection by having lousier food.  The pastrami sandwich was—how should I put this—disappointing?  Too mild.  It was awful. It kinda/sorta looked like pastrami but it really didn't taste much like pastrami. I guess you could call it a pastrami-like substance. I actually couldn't finish it, it was so bad.  And the bread was bad too.  It was not bakery or deli rye bread, it was more like super-market rye bread.  All-in-all, a pretty unpleasant experience.  And for $16 in hard-earned poker comps (I added on a tiny serving of coleslaw for a buck)!  I really don't see myself going back there again, except maybe for a Nathan's hot dog, don't see how they could mess that up. But I guess Tap will be getting the bulk of my future poker comp expenditures from now on.

And with that, I'll stop and get back to writing part 2, which is now posted here.  Check it out and read about my meeting with the famous poker celebrity.  


  1. I wasn't a huge fan of the Stage Deli, but it served a purpose -- particularly late after an MGM session. But at least it did have a decent selection of things to eat.

    1. Yeah, it certainly wasn't great, but it filled an important niche and the food was decent...and no outrageously overpriced. The replacement is awful all the way around.

  2. I assume having food delivered to the table is also an option? I understand not doing that as I have mixed feelings about of the tim I understand not doing that as I have mixed feelings about it at times.

    1. Yes, usually you can get food delivered to you. They offer the service, sometimes tho if they are very busy they will say they can't get it for you and you have to get it yourself.

      I could have gotten it myself for that matter, and dined at the poker table. But I generally don't like eating while playing, especially if I am going to eat with my hands like I would a sandwich. Ugh.

      So I figured I would just gobble down the sandwich over at the Deli and not get mustard on the cards! :)

  3. Happy Thanksgiving Rob! I opted to take a pass on Thanksgiving this year and picked up an extra shift at work which will pay for my Xmas in its entirety. Bon Apetit!!

    1. Sounds like a good deal, Lester. Happy Thanksgiving to you!