Monday, October 31, 2005

Vegas: Part 3 – Friday (aka Happy Birthday to Me!)

Previous posts:
Part 1: Wednesday night - Plaza tourney
Part 2: Thursday - Storming the Castle

Yes, Friday was my birthday. This year saw me turn a ripe old 31. How the hell did I become an adult? Pretty trippy.

On Friday, we discovered the Monorail on the Las Vegas Strip. For three bucks, you can ride it end to end one time. For $10, you can get an unlimited day pass. It goes all the way out to Sahara, and from there you can catch a city bus line downtown (handy if you’ve already purchased a $5 day pass for the bus). It was easy to use and fast enough for my taste, once we figured out where the Monorail stations are. The bummer is that it isn’t open 24 hours; it currently runs 7am to 2am. So, just make sure you’re playing poker somewhere from 2am to 7am and catch it on the way home. There’s a station right near the Imperial Palace, where we’ll be staying for the 2nd Annual WPBT Winter Classic in December, so that is cool.

Our first stop of the day was to play at the infamous Bellagio poker room. You hear so much about what a wonderful place it is, and how it’s the best poker room in Vegas. I was excited to finally get to play there. We planned to play their $4/8 limit hold’em game (which I believe is the lowest limit game they spread).

We took the city bus from downtown to Bellagio, and on the bus met a local guy who worked security for the boutiques in Bellagio and on the Strip. He’d been in Vegas for 4 months, and in contrast to most of the people we’d talked to thus far that lived in Vegas, this guy hated it. We were surprised to hear that, because we’d been chatting with a couple other locals and dealers that said they absolutely loved living there. Randy and our Vegas-hating local chatted sports along the bus ride while I avoided having my nose crammed into a fat guy’s butt crack. (The large man was part of the standing-room-only crowd on the bus, and had his back turned toward me so that his sizable ass was right at the level of my face). No offense to fat people – I’m no skinny minny myself – but please face forward when you’re standing in the aisle on a bus!

The local guy volunteered to show us the way to the garden at Bellagio. He took us for first-time Vegas visitors, and neither Randy nor I had the heart to decline his favor. We followed him through the maze of people to the lobby of the Bellagio, where he bid us farewell and headed off to work. We later saw our friend working security at Tiffany’s jewelry store. Rough job, standing there looking all official. He was a cool guy, as far as random chatty bus people go.

Randy and I checked out the fall display at the Bellagio garden, and of course marveled at the colorful ceiling thing in the lobby. The Bellagio really is a gorgeous place. One thing I realized, though, is that I prefer the style of “contemporary” classy as opposed to the traditional classic style of the Bellagio. I mean – Bellagio is nice and all, but I always feel out of place walking around there, as if I’m not houty-touty enough to be there. Compare that to someplace like MGM Grand, which is also an upscale type of place, but of modern décor. It’s more contemporary upscale. I feel much more comfortable in that type of setting. Anyplace that looks like it came out of an IKEA catalog feels like home to me.

After taking in the sights, we headed to the Bellagio poker room, full of anticipation. It was packed to the brim on this Friday afternoon, and the waiting list for $4/8 was 15 people deep. However, there were video poker machines nearby, so we decided to wait it out. Of course, we expected a wait to play in the most prestigious poker room in Vegas.

We put our names on the waiting list, and the woman at the podium instructed us to check back every 10 minutes to see if the list had moved. It was impossible to hear names called anywhere beyond the front entrance of the poker room, so we decided to heed the woman’s advice and be strict with our check-in’s. We walked down a few rows of machines and played video poker for 10 minutes. True to our plan, we went back to the podium to check the progress of the waiting list. There were still 13 people ahead of us. We confirmed our position with the podium attendant and said we’d be back in the prescribed 10 minutes.

More video poker…. (more losing)… After blowing through another $20, I suggested we go check in again. We arrived at the podium 9 minutes after our previous visit. The attendant (what are those people supposed to be called?) was on the phone, so we craned our necks to view the list ourselves. Our names had been scratched off! WTF??!?! We asked the woman why our names were scratched off, and she asked which game we wanted. We said, $4/8. She seemed agitated (damn low limit players bothering her constantly), and said, “That’s on HIS list,” referring to the man on the phone. We waited for the man to get off the phone and then asked what had happened. He said, “We opened a new game. Your names were called.” I said, “We were just here 9 minutes ago, and you didn’t mention a new game opening.” Our arguments were futile, and the guy said all he could do was put us back on the waiting list.

Randy and I took a step away from the podium to allow others to step forward, and I sighed in disgust. Having already seen how well organized the waiting list for MGM’s poker room is, I was very disappointed in Bellagio’s setup. The people at the podium were rude (probably because we were low-limit players). The waiting list system was archaic. I would have expected someplace as nice as the Bellagio to have invested in something a little more efficient than the paper-and-pen method. There was a digital screen outside the poker room, but it only displayed the games available and was not tied to the waiting list in any way. The poker room didn’t look “all that,” either. I’m sure the high limit room was beautiful. We could see a bearded Barry Greenstein off in the distance playing in there. The regular room, however, was cram packed with tables. Players looked like sardines smashed in there. The only perk appeared to be that the player chairs had wheels on them. All in all, I was not only disappointed, but was not impressed in the least.

As we debated our next move, Randy nudged me to look the other way. What should I see approaching but the most lovely Gus Hansen, walking towards us in all of his bald-headed glory. I was completely dumbfounded, and in an effort not to appear like I was gawking, I picked my jaw up off the floor and looked away as he brushed past me. He passed so close by that I felt the whoosh of air on my arm as he flew by. Holy shit. Gus Hansen just walked past me. HOLY SHIT! While I have a poker-dork crush on Phil Gordon, Gus is just…. Dreamy. I’d drool over him even if he wasn’t a poker player. I have this little thing I do where I mock Gus’s arm flex at the beginning of the WPT shows. Randy said I should have done that when he walked past. No way!!! I could not believe that Gus had just walked past us. Like, out into the world, like any other human being. Yeah, I’m a lame ass fan girl.

That was all I needed to see at Bellagio. Randy and I took our names off the list and left without playing. We decided to head over to MGM, where the waiting list system was fantastic and people treated us like royalty – even playing the measly $3/6 game.

(Gus was wearing a white t-shirt and blue track pants with a white stripe down the side. Wheeeeeeeeeeee!!!)

Off to MGM it was… we played some poker and had a good time. There was more losing for me. Here’s how my poker was going so far:

  • Plaza tourney: big loser

  • Excalibur: down a buy-in

  • MGM – 1st time: +$20 or so, after losing a buy-in and making a valiant comeback

I was hoping to at least break even, and thought maybe I could build some momentum after that last MGM comeback. Besides, it was my birthday, right? I couldn’t lose on my birthday!

Within 20 minutes of sitting down at the poker table, I saw the following hands:

  • KK got beat by AA. Of course, someone has rockets when I have kings. What are the odds of that? 489 to 1. On my birthday, even.

  • AA lost to 7-5 suited (the winner cold-called my preflop raise). Why couldn’t we have been at Excalibur? A wheel spin would have made me feel better.

  • I had to toss JJ on the flop when the board came AKK and action in front of me went nuts.

20 minutes, and a good portion of my stack had vanished. I was down to $20 or so. Randy, on the other hand, was kicking ass and taking names. I had absolutely no sense that a rebuy would do me any good, so I motioned to Randy that I wasn’t going to rebuy if I busted. Shortly after, Randy ran into a highly concealed boat-over-boat hand, where he and his opponent both held pocket pairs preflop and made full houses. I think it was Randy’s QQ versus the other guy’s AA, or something like that. It was a huge pot, and Randy lost. He was still up for the night, but it was definitely time to leave at that point. We cashed out and decided to get something to eat.

Randy wanted to take me to a surprise place for my birthday dinner. I was fine with that. I like surprises. We made our way across the walkway to New York, NY, and on the way thought it might be fun to ride the roller coaster. We got up to the coaster landing to find we’d made it just in time for the last run of the night. It was almost midnight by now. As we stood in line securing our personal belongings so as not to lose them on the ride, though, Randy realized that his new Razr cell phone was missing. We got out of line for the roller coaster and sprinted back to MGM to retrace our steps. Luckily, someone had turned his phone into security, and after a little while of running from one security booth to the next, we found his phone. We missed the roller coaster, but thankfully found his phone.

By now, all I want to do is SIT and eat! We headed back to NY, NY (déjà vu), but by this time, the surprise restaurant was closed. Randy had planned to take me to the Chinese restaurant where I first introduced him to General Tso’s chicken last March, on our first trip together. It was a sweet gesture, and it’s the thought that counts. I’d much rather he found his cell phone than ate Chinese food at that moment. We ended up heading to a diner type place, where the chicken Caesar wrap I had was just as tasty.

Tired from running around searching for the cell phone, we skipped our free bus ride downtown and took a cab instead. Upon arrival at the Plaza, we promptly crashed out.

Another day in Vegas, in the books. Tomorrow: the posse arrives.
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  1. jremotigue said...
    Keep cranking them out - they're great to read! Make stories up if you need to ;-)
    Unknown said...
    I've railbirded at the Belliago but never played there.

    I can't understand why they'd be rude to the low-limit players since we're usually the better tippers. Very bad business practice on their part.

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