Friday, December 09, 2011

WPBT event #6 for me. The art of the Trip Report is lost on me these days.

I used to write very detailed trip reports (because I used to take copious notes whenever I attended poker-related events). These days, not so much. Couple that with the fact that I have a terrible memory (I blame the advent of multitasking and habitually splitting focus amongst 12 different things instead of honing in on one), and you have a recipe for disastrously empty trip reports.

But don't think that'll stop me from trying to write one. :-D

Day 1.... Friday

Yeah, Friday. For those that missed it, I moved half way across the country and started a new job this past August, and I wasn't feeling up to requesting time off work for a weekend of qualifying for the #degenerate hashtag, so I didn't make the typical Thursday pilgrimage. That means, I missed the reunion at the Sherwood Forest bar, for which I am truly bummed.

So, a day late, I hopped a plane from DC to San Francisco. Paid an extra $60 for "economy plus" seating on United (touting up to 5" extra legroom - and they weren't lying. Legroom was nice). Of course, as my luck had it, the plane was half empty and I had the whole row to myself anyway.

I had hoped to accomplish 2 things on the plane: sleep, and get some grading done. I was on the road by 4am to get to the airport for my 9am flight (2 hour drive from the Shenandoah Valley to DC/Dulles), so I was beat. I passed out before we even took off (and slept through take-off - crazy!), but unfortunately woke up about 15 minutes into the flight and never fell back to sleep. Fail. I also wasn't in the mood to grade anything. Instead, I read the last couple hundred pages of Steve Jobs' biography (SO. FRIGGIN. GOOD).

The next leg of travel was from SFO to Las Vegas. Is it just me, or are United regular economy seats actually smaller than Southwest's? I swear they must be. Holy claustrophobia, Batman. Flight was packed but fine.

Arrived at LAS and hopped the shuttle to Aria. April (Maine!) and Maura and Michelle were kind enough to wait for me to arrive and check in and change clothes (which took for-ev-er due to the slow shuttle and my gawking at the room at Aria... and pressing buttons). We headed out to the Fashion Show Mall, which surprisingly just seemed like a regular mall. There was, however, a California Pizza Kitchen, and that turned into a delicious dinner (complete with the most crazy good mac and cheese balls - thanks Michelle! - and conversations about everything other than balls). What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, people.

I was also treated to a warm-up poker beverage by Maura, who is responsible for the awesome caboose bounty that I gave away this year. (See Falstaff or BrainMc for its significance - though Falstaff might not remember. There were a lot of pitchers involved at the Geisha bar that year). My other bounty was the infamous Wild Turkey shooter, which has passed through many WPBT blogger hands over the years, including OhCaptain and Dr Pauly. They were the only two present of the list of previous bloggers to covet the bottle, so I had them sign the matboard of the shadow box frame I mounted it in (thanks to the TSA for tearing the frame apart, screwing up the mounting, and cracking the glass). If you're a previous winner of the Wild Turkey bottle, see Chilly's friend next year to sign it. He promised me he'd be back with it.

After the mall, I headed down to the Aria poker room to find some bloggers. I'm not into mixed games, but a new blogger NLHE table was starting up, and I scored a seat there. Eventually both April's where there (former CA April and Now In CA April). Huge thanks to the latter for her mad prowess at herding cats and organizing the WPBT weekend, once again.

Not much was happening poker-wise, until Lightning felted me. Queen high flushes would become my weekend nemesis. The nuts! Good hand, sir!

There was a bit of a congregation going on at the Skybox bar next door to the poker room, so I played social butterfly for a little bit (and had the first of many conversations with BrainMc that somehow neither of us would be able to remember). Greeted Iggy and Pauly and Kat and assorted others.

After that, I hit the hay! It was only 1am Vegas time, but I had been up for nearly 24 hours at that point, and I'M OLD, PEOPLE. And I love to sleep. So I called it a night and crashed out in the most awesome hotel room ever.

Day 2... Saturday

I discovered the hard way that the magic computer box in the Aria room that looks like an alarm clock and acts like an alarm clock doesn't actually buzz. It can turn on the TV or lights or open the curtains or change the room temperature at any time you specify, but it doesn't buzz. I set it for 9:45am expecting it to wake me up by buzzing, and... nope. Good thing I woke up anyway. How can such a high tech room not have standard alarm clock functionality?

Off to the Aria Buffet with April, Maura, and Michelle. Yum. So much good food. Pancakes, cheese blintzes, and pesto pizza. Livin' the good life.

We snuck out of the buffet one at a time to go register for the WPBT tournament, just in case breakfast ran late. I ran into Poker Geek but was on my way back up to scarf down breakfast, and sadly that's the last I saw of him all weekend! So that sucked - sorry for bailing so fast! I also bailed on metsfan at another point (due to an urgent call of nature), and didn't end up seeing him later either. So to you boys and all of the others I only got to hang with in passing, my apologies!

The tournament was uneventful on my end. I was surprisingly not nervous (I usually am). Maybe I knew subconsciously that I'd be out soon :) I did go into it thinking I either want to bust out early or go all the way, because being the first 3-time WPBT Bubble Girl just didn't sound like a title I wanted. I was pretty card dead, and lo and behold, the Queen high flush came back to bite me in the ass again. Chilly's friend, this time, held the nuts, and knocked me out. (He went on to finish 2nd in the tournament, I believe, so at least my chips went to good use). I did get to see rcfox, which was a nice surprise! Also got to chat running with Dr. Chako, which is one of my favorite topics of convo.

I hung around the Losers' Lounge (aka the rail) for a while, then took off in search of more poker. The list at Aria was ridonkulous, so I walked over to Monte Carlo. Unfortunately, the average age in the poker room at that time appeared to be about 30 years my senior, so I left without sitting down.

Just then, a tweet came in from maigrey, who informed me that she was riling up a blackjack table at Monte Carlo. Once she vowed to help me out (I haven't played blackjack in years and have long since forgotten most of the rules), I agreed to play. I stalked her out and found a lively table at her command. Things were great, until that toxic woman came to deal! (I remember her name, but I don't want to be mean and post it... heh. I'm so lame). Man. Get. Her. Off. This. Table. We praised our male dealer every time he came back to save us (ironically, I can't remember his name). I won back all of my poker losses to that point, plus some. I think I like blackjack! It was a really fun table, and we were even graced by the presence of Drizz for a brief moment in time, but he vanished as quickly as he appeared.

Eventually, it was time for food, so I tagged along with maigrey, Chilly, Katitude, and [god help me I can't remember who else]. We headed to some cowboy themed place in Monte Carlo. There were cowboys. And line dancers. And college football. Chilly did some 'splainin to help me understand college football playoffs and overall conference organization, now that I'm rooting for a college team (GO DUKES!). Sadly, the Dukes had been knocked out of the playoffs that day. Boo. We had a good run.

Then, again out of nowhere, Drizz arrived, and we all fed him table scraps like he was a DrizzPup. Good times.

Determined to play more poker (now that I live so far away from any live poker options... I needed to get my fix!), I conned BrainMc and OhCaptain and Numbono to join me at the Imperial Palace poker room. (Again, I totally can't remember who else joined us. I suck). My luck wasn't any better at Teh Poker, but we sure had a good time! :) There was a crazy CanAsian guy (*term copyright BrainMc. Definition: a Canadian Asian) in the ten seat that was playing like a total happy-go-lucky maniac. He ran his $200 up to $900 before felting out, all within an hour or so's time. He bought the table a round of Patron (though I declined) and told us how he was in the process of beating cancer and was just out to have a good time and enjoy life. More power to you, sir. I wish you the best of luck and victory in your fight. It's a tough game, though, when you're faced with constant $20 preflop raises at a $1/2 NL table.

That didn't stop BrainMc and I from having great laugh-fests over stories that we couldn't remember 10 seconds later. Literally. I blame the fact that the IP is a black hole for electronic devices. Had we been able to immediately tweet our very, very funny one liners, we'd have had an archive to remember them by. In reality, it's probably a good thing that we were swallowed by the vortex of No-G service. We probably weren't that funny. EXCEPT THAT WE WERE! Seriously. Had a stellar time hob-knobbing it Saturday night. I haven't laughed that much in ages. 

I didn't play much poker and eventually walked away with $14 of my original buy in. Meh. OhCaptain tried to convince me to go on a photo walk, but I was totally lame sauce by that point. I was cranky at the poker gods and sleepy and meh. I didn't feel like going out in the freezing cold (it was colder in Vegas than it was back in Virginia!), so sourpuss me declined the photo walk. That turned out to be a giant mistake, first because I passed up an opportunity to hang out with OhCaptain (OhDumbOfMe) and second because I ended up walking in the cold anyway!!

See, I bid my friends farewell and headed for the cab. When I got there and told the cabbie to take me to Aria, he goes, "That's right across the street." I said, "Ummm, yeah....?" He said, "I can drive you there, but I'm gonna have to go all the way around - it's gonna cost you!" I was totally taken aback. The ride cost us $7 on the way there. What the heck was it going to cost me for the way back?! There was a group of guys waiting for a cab behind me, and in my flustered state, I backed away from the cab and let them take it.

I stepped back into IP to pull up a map of the Strip on my phone. Aria didn't look all that close, but after the cabbie implied that I'm a giant wuss for not walking it, I decided to walk it... in the freezing cold. Turns out, it took about 40 minutes to walk from IP to Aria - which SUCKED because I was COLD and CRANKY already! But I did get to walk through Bellagio, where I got to check out the cool penguin display they had up for Christmas. It marked the first time I took out my camera all weekend. So, my apologies, OhCaptain. I should've just taken you up on the photo walk! I'm losing my ability to party properly. Damn old age.

Day 3... Sunday

Last day in Vegas. I had to leave for the airport around 1pm, so there wasn't much time to hang out. April and I hit the Aria buffet after a false start at another Aria restaurant (where the line was. not. moving). Food glorious food. This time, we settled in and relaxed and enjoyed plate after plate of ridiculous goodness. I made a rare trip to the dessert line and ate an insane quantity of junk food. (That may have been what prompted me to later buy a quarter pound of gourmet chocolate treats in the Denver airport during my layover and proceed to eat that for dinner). Wow. Holy junk food bender.

We headed over to the Skybox bar in Aria to see how the sports betting #wpbt 'ers were doing. I paid Falstaff for my last-longer team debt (sorry, guys!) and ran into Lightning again. I live vicariously through Lightning now, since he hits up all of my formerly-local poker rooms in and around Chicago. We had a great chat about food and fitness and - well, my friend, I am glad you will be around for many more years to continue loving life. May we still be rockin' it next year and the year after that and a hundred more! And if you ever find yourself on the east coast, holler! Would love to play some cards with ya out here. (Likewise, if I find myself trolling the IL/IN poker rooms, I'll keep ya posted!)

On that note, I took to the roads once again for my flights home. Since I was too chicken to try to get Monday off of work at the new job, I could not join my friends that were running the Las Vegas Half Marathon on Sunday night. Oh, how I wish I did! Huge, huge regret. I spent my first flight kicking myself for not finding a way to make it happen. Then I spent my layover (and subsequent snow/ice delay) in Denver obsessively refreshing Twitter to get any nuggets of information I could about the race and how everybody was doing. OhCaptain and Maura kindly shared photos of the runners on the strip, and I continued to beat myself up for not being one of them.

I'm still mad at myself, as I sit here getting ready to head out to Fredericksburg, VA tomorrow to run my own half marathon on Sunday. It just won't be the same without a gaggle of bloggers cheering me on or crossing the finish line with me. Mad mad mad.

All in all, this was yet another most excellent WPBT trip. You're an fantastic group, my friends, and your kindness and generosity and good-natured-ness never ceases to amaze me. I'm so glad to be a part of this wonderful little family. /end cheese

I learned a couple things on this trip (besides how to play blackjack). First, it's definitely worth upgrading seats on airplanes. Second, now that I'm an east-coast-er, flying to Vegas takes a freakin long time - and as such, it's probably no longer feasible that my primary goal when booking a flight is to find the cheapest one possible. It might just be time for me to graduate to paying for a bit of comfort (whether it's upgraded seats or direct flights). Third, 2 nights is just not long enough to spend in Vegas, particularly when it takes a solid 24 hours or so of travel end-to-end, round-trip, from where I live.

With that, I conclude this trip report. I'm forgetting a lot of notable names and events, but such is life. Tomorrow, I head out for my half marathon weekend, and then back to work for finals week. Real life beckons! In other news, I'm getting an iPhone on Monday *squeee!* :) I know. That has nothing to do with anything. But I'm excited!

Until next time, take care! And if you find yourself in Atlantic City, gimme a holler!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

So, I'm a latecomer to the WPBT Winter Classic this year. I will arrive Friday, early afternoon. I'm phlyersphan on twitter if you don't have my cell phone number.

Final weekend details if you missed it: #WPBT Final Details

I can't even tell you how bummed I am to miss the return to Sherwood Forest. Over the summer, I made a group of (non-poker) friends go there for drinks at the end of a night of bachelor-partying (yeah, I crashed the bachelor party. I'm just one of the guys anyway).

I got sucked down the old-blog-post rabbit hole last night (a la Katitude) and have concluded that this is my 6th WPBT event. My first was summer 2005, and there was a lull 2007-2008 where I couldn't make it out. I'm such a bad blogger. I didn't even write trip reports for all of them.

This year, I'm staying at Aria, and considering the short nature of my trip (I leave after lunch on Sunday), I'm figuring that I won't leave Aria all that much.

Friday: Arrive to Aria by 4pm or so. Text everybody to find out where people are at. I hear Monte Carlo is the afternoon hang-out, but by the time I could manage to get there, it'll probably be time to head back to Aria for the mixed games. I don't really play mixed games, so I'll either be in Aria's poker room playing NLHE or maybe hitting up their 7pm nightly tournament (which I really like the structure of). I went deep last time I played it (busting 2 out of the bubble... seems to be my M.O. I'm sooooo due to hit....)

Saturday: WPBT tourney at noon. Planning to play poker well into the evening and win the tourney. Then I will make Falstaff wear a kilt and recruit some minions to carry me around on one of those guys-carrying-a-girl-on-a-chair things, maybe while fanning me with large feathers and feeding me grapes. OhCaptain is in charge of capturing the moment for all eternity. No plans for Saturday evening - will go with the flow.

Sunday: Sounds like football will be at The Pub at Monte Carlo. Since both of my fantasy teams are in the gutter this year, I may be playing poker instead, likely at Aria or MGM. (I'm not sure I can survive a trip to Vegas in which I don't play at MGM). But I might be lured by the desire to hang out with my WPBT peeps. We will see. I have to head to the airport around 1pm, which logistically complicates any plan that has me leaving Aria.

I checked into my flight online this morning and in my half-sleepy state, convinced myself that it was worth it to upgrade to the premium economy seating (extra 5" leg room). $59. It's a 6 hour flight - I have to fly from DC to San Francisco first, then hop a short flight to Vegas. So it's a beast of a flight on the first leg (and NO WIFI, shoot me now). Maybe I wasted my money, but I do have a lot of work to do on the laptop, and I think it'll be more comfortable in the upgraded seat.

My bags are already packed, and now I'm just counting down the minutes until work is done and I can go home and try to sleep - ONE MORE SLEEP till Vegas!! I have to wake up around 4am to make the 2 1/2 hour drive up to DC for my flight.... meh. But it will be worth it, because I'm going to win the tourney, of course.

(Editor's note: more likely, I will bubble like I always do - and that would make me the first blogger to bubble in THREE WPBT tourneys). Go me!