Sunday, June 19, 2022

"You'll Read About it on the Blog!"

As I mentioned in one of my last two posts (or possibly both of them), I’ve been to Vegas twice since mid-April.  I’ve never told my stories in chronological order, so let’s start with the reason I went back there a second time, just at the end of May.

My long time poker/blogging pal Lightning organized a Poker Blogger (and readers) Meet Up Game for May 30.  This was to celebrate the return of retired blogger Josie to Vegas.  It’s been 10 years since I first met Josie in person in Vegas. At her insistence, she has her own personal label on this blog, so you can find it on the right side of the page and find all the blog posts that reference her. I think the prime motivation for her timing of this particular visit was to see Koalapete from down under again, who I first met on the same trip that I met Josie and have seen in Vegas a few times since.  Josie was coming to Vegas with her long time pal Gary, aka The Crafty Southpaw (The link is to his seemingly defunct blog, even tho he hasn’t posted in over four years, but you see, Gary is not on Twitter)  My recollection is that when I burst upon the blogging scene, some 11 years ago, Gary was the first person to add my fledgling little blog to his blogroll, and I am forever grateful for that.

I wanted to see all those wonderful folks again, and I wanted to finally meet Gary, who always struck me as a great guy from his blog.  So I had no choice but to head up to Vegas just a few weeks after I’d returned from there.  Lightning, enterprising fellow that he is, did a blog post about the game and soon everyone wanted to attend! 

The location was the fairly new Sahara poker room, which I had never been in since the hotel underwent about 17 ownership and name changes.  It is a small room and is sadly short of players too much of the time, so I could never find a game there during my last trip.  Since it was quiet and the manager over there is a good guy, Lightning figured it would be a good place for a private game (or two), and he was right

I was surprised to see Mr. Ben, but then I shouldn’t have been. Ben lives in England, but despite that, of all the bloggers I’ve met in Vegas, I’ve probably run into him the most.  It’s like he’s always in Vegas when I go.  He is a good guy, and it is always a pleasure to toss cards with him. I don’t believe he made a special effort to show up in Vegas for the game, but like I said, he’s in Vegas a lot.

Josie greeted me with the traditional ass grab, or at least that’s what she tweeted.  In reality there was a big hug but no ass grab.  I don’t think anyone else hugged me, and I’m not complaining about that. 

By the time we started, there were enough for two tables, and I think a third table of mixed games broke out at one point.  We drew for seats, and at the “main table” I got seat 8, sitting between Ben in Seat 9 and Lightning in seat 7.  In seat 6 was Luke Johnston, not a blogger but a long time twitter pal to most of us, and a former dealer at both Sahara and the WSOP.  Blogger and twitterer Mr. Subliminal claimed seat 4.  He lives in Vegas and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him several times before.  Usually he is sitting next to me at the Wynn and after about an hour and a half he finally gets around to telling me who he is since I apparently suck at matching names and faces.  This time I recognized him!

Seat 5 was taken by Joseph W, aka Hockey_Poker who I only recently started following on Twitter but is a prolific poker player and, I guess, a hockey fan.  By strange coincidence, I met Joe for the first time earlier that same day.  You see Lightning, Koala and I had lunch at the Cafe at South Point, and afterward, I wanted to check out the tournament area they had for their summer series.  I was kibbitzing with one of the dealers there I know (it was Mike, ex of the MGM) and somehow, even though we had never met, Joe figured out I was Rob or perhaps I figured out that he was the hockey poker guy.  I have no idea who first realized who the other one was.  But I did recognize him when he showed up at the MUG game and took seat 5.

Gary, Koala and Josie took seats 1,2,3 respectively.

It was a really fun game, but we were surprisingly restrained, and not nearly loud enough to justify having the room to ourselves. But we were laughing all the way through.  A few of the Sahara dealers were having fun knowing it was a big group of friends and were making as many jokes as we were.  Sadly though, as much fun as we were having, I didn’t catch a lot of “blogging material” type comments and I didn’t catch a single “woman said.”  That’s probably because Josie was so far away from me it was pretty hard to hear most of what she was saying.   Same for Gary & Koala (tho I wasn’t expecting any “woman saids” from them).  And after a couple of hours Josie switched tables so she could play with the one and only Tony Bigcharles  (he needs no introduction) who responded to Josie’s many pleas on twitter that he come down from Reno to play in the game.  Another twitterer who needs no introduction, Alysia Chang was also at that table.  There may have been some other people at that table that I knew or should have known but I can’t recall.  Sorry.

So….the poker.  The very first hand I was dealt pocket 6’s on the button.  Instead of facing a raise, a re-raise and a 4-bet, as you might expect from a game like this, it folded to me.  I have to raise there, right?  I made it only $8, but the blinds folded.  Can’t win them all if you don’t win the first, right?

Later, with King-Jack of spades I limped in and Ben, acting next, raised to $11.  It was four-way and the flop was Jack-high. I checked, Ben checked and the rest checked as well.  On a blank turn Josie bet $15 and I called, heads up.  There was no betting on a blank river and I claimed the pot, beating Josie’s pocket 8’s. 

I got pocket Aces and before it got to me, Joe made it $11. After a couple of folds, I made it $33.  Joe called, we were heads up. The flop was Ace-high but two spades.  I bet $35 and Joe called.  There was another spade on the turn and we both checked.  A Queen on the river put four to Broadway out there, in addition to the possible flush.  When Joe bet $45, I tanked for awhile, but the board was too scary to raise.  I just called.  Turned out that Joe had rivered a set of Queens. Set over set is always nice if you have the bigger set, but Joe didn’t have that set til the last card.

I limped with 9-7 clubs.  The flop had two clubs so I called Josie’s $15 bet.  Heads up, no more betting.  The final board had two jacks and a third club hit the river.  I didn’t bet it because my flush was low and the board was paired, but I won the pot.

I didn’t write down the details but I lost a pretty big pot when I rivered the bottom end of the straight with a Jack in my hand.  However Lightning had King-Jack and won with a bigger straight. I was kind of chasing the gut shot all the way through and just needed a King to get it.  Instead, an 8 gave me the bottom end, so I called off on the river only to see Lightning’s bigger straight.

As I noted, Josie moved to the other table and was replaced by a fellow named Gabriel.  I’m not sure if or how I know him, but he was apparently part of our group and was a good guy.  Anyway, he opened this hand to $10, and before it got to me, Luke called the $10.  And I looked down at the dreaded Pocket Kings!  Well, now, what do I do here?  I believe Gabriel had a lot of chips and I was thinking, “here goes my stack.”  Nevertheless, I did indeed three-bet.  Not sure why I bet a little bigger than I ordinarily would have, but I made it $50.

Everyone folded and of course, I mean of course, I had to show the Kings. I figured almost everyone there knew of my perpetual problems with that hand.  So I showed my hand and everyone reacted.  At least a few people, including Gary I specifically recall, shouted “Dreaded” or “the dreaded hand” or “Dreaded pocket Kings.”  I have to admit, it warmed my heart a little!

Luke had left and been replaced by someone not of our group.  And this new player was acting like he really didn’t know what he was doing, like he had never played poker before.  I had pocket Queens and this newbie had opened to $6 in front of me.  Lightning called.  I was thinking about raising but I got caught up in thinking this newbie was so quirky and so unpredictable I should play it safe and just call.  The flop was K-Q-X.  The newbie checked, Lightning bet $8.  I made it $25.  The newbie folded and Lightning tanked. He talked about trying to get a read on me.  Finally, reluctantly, he folded.  I told him, “You can read about what I had on my blog post!”  I didn’t show.  But I believe I texted him what I had just to be a nice guy.  I think he folded a King with a weak kicker.

I had pocket 9’s in the big blind and Gary opened to $12, a few others were in the hand.  My 9’s were an overpair.  I really don’t remember the betting action but on the river, with the 9’s still an overpair, Ben took a stab at it with a $25 bet and I called.  He said, “Well you won, I have nothing.”

Now, my good buddy Don had arrived and took over Joe’s spot in the center of the table.  He opened the pot for I don’t know how much and I called with Ace-10 of hearts.  I didn’t accurately record the betting action, but there was an Ace on the flop and I called Don’s c-bet.  Another Ace on the turn. I think I called but I may have bet, can’t recall.  I do recall the river, it was a 10. Yahtzee!  Kaola was in the hand too and he led out for $25.  Don tanked a long, long time..I had the nuts so it was just a matter of how much I was gonna raise if he did call (if he had raised, I would have shoved).  But eventually he folded.  So I put out $75 and now it was Kaola’s turn in the tank.  He thought a long, long time, talking through the hand.  I suspect if he didn’t know me, a call would have been easier.  But eventually he folded.  I shouted over to him, “You’ll read about it in the blog!”  However, after we were done playing I did tell him I had the boat.  He told me had pocket Queens.

Eventually a good chunk of us got up to move on.  I had played 4-½ hours. My longest poker session by far since the 2020 lockdown.  There was a lot of nice conversation after we were done playing too.  I did get to chat with both Alysia and Tony who were at the other table the whole time (or maybe they were at the mixed game that sprung up, I know Alysia was).  Alysia and I compared our results for the night, she won a buck or two, I recovered from down over $100 to book like a $7 loss.  Tony was really interested in learning about the re-opened and re-located poker room in Ventura.  I answered all his questions, and I must admit I have been remiss in not discussing the new room here on the blog. I hope to rectify that soon.  I have no idea why Tony is so interested in the Ventura poker room though.  It’s not like it is practical for him to play there.  Now that it is right on the beach I’m sure there is no lodging anywhere near there that he could afford.  I’m not sure there is lodging near there that that Elon Musk could afford.

The goodbyes were turning out to be long, most of us were through playing, and when I left I thought everyone would soon join me in departing but that was not the case.  I got texts from both Lightning and Don that I missed a big time brouhaha.  It was at the other table, not the one Lightning, Don and I were playing at.  Don was still playing and Lightning was just chitchatting.  But apparently a drunk guy gave another player a “beer shower” (and got beer all over the table) and then took a swing at the same guy, but the guy successfully ducked the punch.  He fled, but I think I heard that security caught up with him, and the victim was hanging around because he wanted to press charges.  I hope that in Lightning’s version of this night, which I’m sure is coming soon, will give more details on this epic skirmish.

It was really great meeting old friends, making new ones, and just bullshitting and playing poker with a great bunch of folks.

I saw we do it again, soon, what do you say?

Very funny dealer (Tom, maybe?), Gary, Kaolapete, Josie, Mr. Subliminal

Joe (Hockey_Poker), Luke, Josie, Lightning, Mr. Ben, yours truly.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Escape From Caesars Palace

This is really a “guest post” from my friend Don, who I’ve mentioned numerous times on this blog. In fact, he’s done guest posts for me before, here, for example. I think the circumstances under which I received this report are interesting.  He didn’t verbally tell me this story, nor did he write it up as an official submission (as if this blog had anything as formal as an “official” submission!).  No, it was a series of text messages.  

This was actually texted to me the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, which also happened to be the day I was driving up to Vegas myself for a “meet up game” that I'll hopefully tell you about some time in the future.  If not, I’m sure Lightning will blog about it soon if he hasn’t already.

The subject was not poker but paid parking, a topic I’ve covered quite a bit over the past few years, ever since Vegas Strip casinos decided to charge for the privilege of losing all your money to them playing games where the odds are legally stacked against you. It was great timing, because at the time I was in the middle of trying to figure out my own personal solution to the pay-for-parking problem.  As I write this, that situation has mostly been resolved (but perhaps not totally) and I definitely want to tell you that story when I have time to do an 87-part blog post (only a slight exaggeration). So the timing was perfect, even more so because I could actually listen to Don’s text messages while driving to Vegas.

I recently acquired a new car and it has “Android Auto.”  When you plug your phone in, the Google map program displays on the video screen that all new cars come with these days.  But also, it will read you any text messages that come in while you drive. The text-to-speech technology is pretty good, and a pleasant female voice reads you your messages.

So for a nice chunk of the trip, I was listening to Don’s tale of woe, and imagining that the sweet female voice I was hearing was actually Don’s (I know that sounds weird).  One glitch though.  For some reason, every time a new text came it, the program would repeat Don’s previous message before reading the new one.  Since I really didn’t have anything better to do than hear Don’s story, I didn’t mind one bit, in fact, it was like watching the “previously on” segments of a TV show you are binging.  A nice reminder of where we were in the story.

What you need to know is that Caesars (and I presume MGM too) recently changed their paid parking rules.  I believe when they first resumed charging for parking after reopening, they allowed locals to park for free.  So, Don was getting free parking as a Vegas resident, but now, no more.  Three hours max for free (which is two hours more than the tourists get)  Here’s what Don texted me, more of less verbatim.

This is how bad the night went.  I never dragged a pot, lost a $450 pot to a 2 outer on the river and that's NOT what tilted me about this evening.  Trying to get out of the Caesars garage did.

They changed their parking rules.  Locals only get 3 hours free, then they have to pay the stupidly high fees.  So, when I busted, I was about 90 minutes into my session and said "well no point in rebuying now" and headed to the garage.  That was at 11:20pm.

I get near the elevators and there is a crazy long line at the payment kiosks.  I thought "no problem there is one on every floor."  So, I walk up 2 flights of stairs and find no payment kiosks.  They still have signs that say they are on every floor, but they aren't.

I walk back down to the second floor, no kiosk.  I walk back into the casino, wait in line.  The kiosk there won't read my ID.

There's a speaker right over the kiosk, but I can't hear the support people.  So, I go back to the poker room AND to the Caesars Rewards desk to try to find a number that I can call on my phone.  They don't have one.

I walk back to my car (again up the stairs because there's a ton of people in the elevator lobby).  I get into the parking area and see a really long line to exit.  I walk to my car in the back of the garage on the 3rd floor.  As I do, I see a long line from the upper floors and cars merging from all over on floor 3 to exit.  The cars on the 3rd floor only have 1 lane to get out and they are backed up behind my car, around the corner, and snaking back towards the casino entrance.

I sit in my car without starting it for 10 minutes and see 1 car pass behind mine.  I'm like "f*ck this, it'll be over an hour before I even get near the exit."  So, I walk back down to the casino to wait.  I find a different payment kiosk, which also won't take my local ID but where I can hear support.  People behind me are bitching at me and I say "look, this thing won't read my ID, it's not my fault parking here is a f*cking joke."

The service rep answers and tells me to scan the ID at the exit.  I reply "that's great, but I've already been here 2 hours and I'm never getting out of the god damn garage before my 3 hours is up."  He says to ask for him by name and he will make a note for his coworkers to let me out.

I go sit by a slot machine - not playing, just sitting there with my back to the machine to watch the slut parade around the Vanderpump Lounge.  I think that's named for a reality TV star, but for all I know a "Vanderpump" could be some kind of German sex toy.

I wait about 45 minutes, walk to the elevators, see no line, and go to my car.  The line to exit is only about 10 cars long now and I head out.  I get to the gate and scan my ticket.  It still reads the $23 I was supposed to pay about 90 minutes ago, so either the service rep noted my parking ticket number or their system recorded the  time when I initially tried to pay.  I scan my ID a few times, it still doesn't read it.  So, I push the service button and finally get out of the garage.

To be fair, I did stop for gas on my way home.  But, I walked in my door at 1:10am.  Remember, I INITIALLY LEFT THE POKER ROOM AT 11:20pm.  So, it took me 1 hour and 50 minutes to get home from playing a 1 hour and 30 minute poker session - in which I never won a hand.

I've ridden buses in this town and I know that, even on a busy Saturday night, I could have caught the strip express bus, waited outside the south strip transfer terminal with the homeless for 30 minutes to catch the Warm Springs bus.  Taken that to right across from the parking lot Google maps says is my house and walked home in LESS TIME than it took to get my car from the Caesars garage here.

Don’s pain kept me entertained for a good portion of my drive.  I did wonder how the gate finally opened and he wasn’t sure, but assumed it might have been from the guy he talked to passing his ticket number around.  Before I even had a chance to ask him, Don added that I could use this story in the blog if I liked!  He knows me.  This story is right up my alley. My thanks to Don for sharing his story with me and allowing me to share it with you.

I especially loved the Vanderpump joke but to be honest, if he had made it a week earlier I wouldn’t have had a clue what he was talking about.  It was just days earlier I first heard the name Lisa Vanderpump when it was announced she was doing the first “Shuffle Up and Deal” at the WSOP.  I had never heard of her.

Also, I should explain that during my last trip to Vegas in April, I tried to find Don’s house using Google Maps, and even though he is located on a perfectly normal street in an ordinary part of Vegas, the Map program directed me to a parking lot behind his house, insisting that that was where Don lived.

Before I post this, I want to make an editorial comment on the whole paid parking situation in Vegas, if I may.  (Of course I may, it’s my damn blog and no one can stop me).  It’s not just the cost of the parking that pisses people off, although that ain’t nothing.  It’s the ancillary problems that it causes, as Don found out.  Without paid parking, everybody leaves that very busy Caesars garage (it was after all the Saturday night of Memorial Day Weekend) smoothly and promptly.  But to get that damn parking fee from us, or make us come up with some way to get free parking, they have kiosks to deal with, tickets to lose, credit card payments to make. And sometimes the damn gate just stops working for no obvious reason. If you’ve ever left a Strip casino that charges for parking on a busy night, you know it is hell to get out of there, even if you don’t have to personally pay to park.  You get stuck in a long line behind people who haven’t figured it out.  Maybe they forgot to pay, maybe they lost their ticket, maybe the damn ticket that should work doesn’t, maybe their card that should work doesn't.  And even if every single car in front of you exits without a major issue, it still takes three times as long to get out of there as it would if there was no gate and no damn parking payment required from anyone.

So, if you thought I might have changed my mind on how much paid parking in Vegas sucks, well, think again.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Will I Ever Publish Another Blog Post?

Well, the question answers itself, doesn't it?  If you are reading this, the answer is decidedly yes!

OK, so I guess what I mean then, is this my last blog post?  Will I ever publish another blog post after this one?  

I think so. I intend to, anyway. Maybe another one very soon.  

I just noticed that my last post was published in November of last year.  November!  Long time, no blog!  

My productivity was already waning even before the initial lockdown hit, and after that, well, the lockdown took away my will to live write. And my material. Even though I have some posts "mentally" written, forcing myself to get in front of a keyboard has been exceedingly difficult.  Plus, I've been busy, mostly with personal stuff that I can't talk about but also with things like taxes and Vegas trips.  

Did I say Vegas trips?

I did, I did.

If you don't follow me on Twitter, you might not know that I have been to Vegas twice since Mid-April.  Yes, twice.  If I can shake off the writer's block, I should be able to crank out a few posts about those trips, now, shouldn't I?

Yes, I should.  Perhaps of equal note, remember that poker room out in Ventura that I was my go-to room for many years when I was home in L.A.?  Well, I was sure it was never going to re-open, but somehow it did!  Back in February in fact.  And I've been to it several times and although none of the game reports were that exciting, I certainly feel that I owe your folks a review of the new location   So there's that.

And I have a doozy of a story that only tangentially relates to Vegas, about what I went thru to get a credit card that I wanted to have in my wallet before my most recent Vegas visit.  I estimate that it will roughly be an 87-part post, so decide for yourself if you really want me to shake the writer's block.

So I do have some material.  It's just a matter of forcing myself to write it up.  Fortunately my pal Don came up with a series of text messages about the hell he recently went through trying to escape the parking structure of a major Vegas casino/resort, and even before I asked if I could run them as a guest blog post (which I was about to do), he volunteered to have them published in this here blog.

So I at least have one, mostly pre-written post that I can get up fairly quickly.

Hopefully more after that.

So, as I used to say whenever I ran a mult-part blog post, stay tuned.

And so.....if I get back to writing regularly, maybe I will be comfortable enough writing that I won't have to rely on the crutch of using the word "so" so many damn times in a post.

To finish this off, here's a pic of the kind I know my readers always used to look forward when I published regularly.  In fact, I'm quite sure that pics like these are the main reason you all miss my blog.  Enjoy!