The poker gods have been appeased

Craps, Football, Green Bay Packers, Las Vegas, NFL, Restaurants, Vacation

For those of you (well, that means me, but, whatever) that enjoy Vegas trip reports, poker and gambling tales, this one's for you.

But I understand that I have some new readers that have seen me as a contributing writer on the Vegas Bright site, so first some history...

1st Annual Poker Guys Trip to Las Vegas for Playing Poker from November, 2009

2nd Annual Poker Guys Trip to Las Vegas for Playing Poker from September, 2010

3rd Annual Poker Guys Trip to Las Vegas for Playing Poker from October, 2011

4th Annual Poker Guys Trip to Las Vegas for Playing Poker from October, 2012

5th Annual Poker Guys Trip to Las Vegas for Playing Poker from November, 2013

The title of the 2010 blog posting was "The poker gods were not happy".  Poker kicked (Sponsor's Name Here)'s butt, can he finally get his revenge?  Let's find out.

All times shown are PDT, except where noted (do note that all photos below are mine, except the poker tournament finals)...

Saturday, September 12 @ 3:45 AM CDT - (Side note; 3:45 AM?  Yeah...) Although Southwest Airline's entry into the Milwaukee market in 2009 is actually the reason our Vegas pilgrimage started, in the past six years Southwest has "won" the battle for Mitchell International Airport and is celebrating it's "win" with round trip fares to Las Vegas that have hovered around $400 for the last couple of years.  We got our round-trip this year on Southwest for $252... as long as we flew from Chicago Midway.  So I set the alarm for 3:00 to leave at 3:45 to get to (Sponsor's Name Here)'s Official Poker Buddy, I'll call him Pat, by 4:10 AM.  From there, it was on to pick-up more Official Poker Buddies, I'll call them Scott and Phil, from a parking lot in Kenosha at 4:45, to get to the off-site parking lot by 6:00, so we can leave at 7:20.

That's four hours of monkeying around and the need to be awake, so I planned my trek to Pat's house routed so that I can get a coffee from McDonalds.  Of course, the first McDonalds wasn't 24 hours, so I re-routed again to another, larger McDonalds that I figure HAD to be open 24 hours.  But I was boned again.  I picked up Pat, then Scott and Phil as scheduled.  Tired and grumpy.

5:10 AM CDT - I stop through the drive-through McDonalds at the Lake Forest Oasis.  It's two hours late, and too hot to drink.

6:00 AM CDT - We arrive at Midway Park Ride and Fly (off-site parking at either Chicago airport is the only way to go) and I start to drink my coffee.

6:15 AM CDT - The guys begin to go through TSA, while I chug-a-lug still-hot coffee.  This cements my belief that McDonald uses nuclear power plant technology in their coffee makers.

8:30 AM PDT - The flight landed 50 minutes early.  I wondered why and how that would be, and decided "don't ask, don't tell" is fine with me.  The flight was good, I got a short nap in and was ready to go.  We booked the rental car on Alamo and took advantage of the on-line check-in before I left.  We got off the Las Vegas rental car shuttle and walked directly to our car.  I don't know if I can overstate how wonderful it was to NOT waste time in line at a rental car desk.

9:00 AM - We've picked a red car.  Red cars get better parking spots.

9:20 AM - We arrive at the Rio for the first tournament of the weekend for $60.  In what was a very disappointing trend, the tournament only had about 20 entries (Side note; the largest tournament we played had about 30 entries on Sunday night.  Part of the fun of the first trip were some pretty big tournaments, including one at the Sahara with a $45 buy-in that had over 100 entries.)  We don't have the bankroll for the big money tournaments, but I wonder what happened to the tourists that used to play the lower entry games.

11:30 AM - My exit from the tournament happened when we were down to about eight players.  I was dealt a decent starting hand and there had been a couple of raises in front of me.  I went all-in, hoping nobody would call and I that would get the pot.  Instead I was called by TWO players, and the guy with the biggest chip stack knocked both of us out.  Although a bit disappointed that what I thought was a good move failed, I knew that there was a lot of poker to come, so I hit the casino to take care of the gambling jones.  I play a little of this and a little of that, and by the time we leave, I had won about $30.  Pat cashed in the tournament for about $300.  A good start!

1:00 PM - We head to South Point for lunch and the second tournament for $60.  We start with lunch at the Coronado Cafe inside of the South Point.  I've had the $14.99 prime rib special often.  So what did I have?  Right, the porterhouse.  Thin shoe leather, and full of gristle.  I guess I chose wrong.

3:00 PM - South Point's tournaments offer a "Bounty" for eliminating a player, and I've played very good poker, earning two "Bounty"s of $5 each.  But I again had a good hand with which to go all-in, and my opponent had cards fall in his favor to eliminate me.  The tournament played three places, and I think I was out in sixth, while Pat and Scott were still alive.  Back to the casino floor for me.

3:58 PM (I love digital photos!) - I've decided to play video poker, following Royal Flusher's "Strict Rules of Parlay".  Simply stated, put in some money and play at one demonination (in my case, $0.25) until you double your buy-in.  If you start losing, once you get down to the previous level, go back down in denominations.

At the $0.25 level, I hit this...

Nice win, so I parlayed up to half dollars.

4:14 PM - After a few ups and downs at that level, I hit this...

The cash meter kept climbing, so I kept parlaying.  This time to switch to dollars.

4:16 PM - Two minutes later, this...

In 18 minutes, I've gone from $77 in the machine to $616. (Side note; I can hear it right now "Stop!  Take your money out of the machine!  Do not blow it!!!")

Actually, I did take it out of the machine.  I walked to the poker room to see if the guys were done (they weren't) so I did what any warm, blooded American male would do.

4:34 PM - I really had considered going to the sports book to watch some football, but I found the bank of dollar progressives, and...

If you notice the cash, you'll see that I did give back quite a bit of the first dollar hit, but this hit pushed my total even higher.  I cashed out, and played a few low credit slots to pass the time.  By the time we were ready to go at about 5:30, my $60 buy into that first video poker machine had turned into this...

That, my friends, is a good day at the office.

5:45 PM - Pat and Scott were the final two in the tournament and split first and second place for $300 each, so except for Phil, this was a great session.  Phil has a good friend, I'll call him John, that had moved to Las Vegas a few months ago, and they were going to break off the group and go to dinner.  But over a thousand dollar profit between the three of us had us benevolently inviting John and Phil to a nice dinner with us.  But where?

We each pulled out a phone and started checking nice steak restaurants.  Circus Circus Steakhouse?  Packed.  Gordon Ramsay?  Ditto.  Golden Steer, Charlie Palmer, Heritage, Redwood Grille, Hugo's, Vic and Anthony's... all were a washout.  We decide to go downtown, check into our respective hotels, and reconnoiter.

6:45 PM - We're all standing at the Triple George Grill, right outside the Downtown Grand hotel, when we learn that they had a 90 minute wait.  So we decided to head towards Fremont East (an eating and drinking district just off the Fremont Street canopy).  It was only about 105°F (but it was a dry heat) and five guys were strutting (ok, dragging) past...  Nacho Daddy (nah) Denny's (no chains, please), Banger Brewing (Side note; I have a great story on this one. We walk in and see that it is only a brew pub which serves no real food so we walk out.  About a half a block later the bartender had chased us down asking why we left.  When we told him that we were looking for a sit down dinner, he seemed put off and said that we could sit outside.  Again, in the105°F temps), Mickie Finnz Fish House (someone didn't like seafood) so we settled on Hennessey's Tavern.  If you're scoring at home, that was 12 restaurants that were passed on before we settled on something.

7:45 PM - And "settling" was an apropos description.  It was alright, I guess.  Pat and Scott had Jameson ribs that didn't have a lot of flavor, I had a Reuben sandwich that had been sitting a while and the bottom slice of bread had turned to mush, and Phil had the Ahi tuna.  Nobody had any raves, and we split kind of quickly as we had another poker game to play and we had wasted two hours looking for and eating a mediocre dinner.

8:00 PM - On to Binion's for their tournament ($65) and truth be told, nobody was in a poker state of mind.  Between the early flight (my alarm went off at 1:10 AM Vegas time), the adrenaline drain after a big afternoon at South Point and a walk on a very warm evening had its effect on all of us, and we all fell out of the tournament pretty quickly, and with little fanfare.  Phil made it to the final table, but even that didn't last long for him.

9:00 PM - With a stack of bennies (money, people, money) in my pocket, I hit Binion's slot floor and played an awful lot of different machines without any success.  A trend that I am noticing in some of the new slots is that the bonus game often doesn't pay very well (if at all). On one particular machine, I decided to sit there until I hit an elusive bonus game, and when I hit it and played through the bonus, the bonus game paid... exactly... $1.60.

11:00 PM - I've made it back to the Downtown Grand (where I was staying on a comp) to place my football bets on their sportsbook kiosk, with the intent of heading right to my room to go to bed.  But those tricky devils; they put a casino between the front door and my hotel room.  What's a boy to do?

11:30 PM - I am having even less luck on slot machines here, so I switch to craps.  I played for a little while but quickly lost $100 and decided that I was too tired to win, so finally went  to bed.

Sunday, September 13 @ 7:55 AM - What fun!  An early-morning game of "Where's Scott?". Phil, Pat and I are ready for breakfast at Eat (Side note; I've decided to bail on the lower case e and the useless period at the end.  Sorry, Chef Natalie) and we can't find Scott.  Even though we are all at different hotels downtown, we are all hooked up with phones (and Scott had promised to keep his on for a change). However we had a busy day planned, so we headed to breakfast without him, knowing we were eating about a mile from the Golden Gate.  We speculate that the hooker he picked-up had jacked him and he's lying motionless on his hotel room floor.  We also decide that if he's not on Tuesday's flight, we'd draw straws on who would have to pay someone to check his hotel room and contact his wife.

It would be the least we could do.

8:20 AM - Eat never disappoints...

8:21 AM - Just as breakfast arrives, Scott calls and says (to paraphrase him by quoting Stu Garner in The Hangover) "you never walk away from the table when you're on a heater."  Apparently Scott was too busy winning more money to spend time with his buddies.  He asks me to pick him up after breakfast and drop him off at a morning poker tournament.

9:00 AM - After dropping Scott off at the Flamingo, for what turns out to be a poker tournament with six measly entries, Pat, Phil and I head to Rum Runner to watch the Green Bay Packers game.  Every year since we've done these trips has included spending four hours at the best damn Packers bar in Las Vegas.

11:30 AM - The Packers are not putting the Bears away, and its gotten frustrating.  I've put a lot of money on the Packers and the way the game is going, the final score will be right around the seven point spread.

From left... Phil, (Sponsor's Name Here), Pat

1:15 PM - The Packers not only win, but won by eight points and won a pocketful of money for me.  Another wonderful time at Rum Runner.  The Packers are 4-2 in games I've watched from there, which is not Super Bowl caliber.  Methinks I'll have to go more than once a year to raise that percentage.

2:00 PM - The next poker tournament we're playing as a group is at the Monte Carlo ($60) and though the game started with 11 players, enough late comers and reentries bumped the total to 23 players for a decent prize fund.  This game, my friends, was the soft game that we were looking for.

3:00 PM - At the first break, I am the chip leader of our table, and I've only had to show my hand once.  I've certainly benefitted by a run of good cards, but nobody has any idea how good (or bad, for that matter) my cards are because each big bet has everybody scattering like pigeons in the park when that mean kid charges at them on a Big Wheel.

5:00 PM - I am one of four players left.  The Texans fan has a big chip lead, Phil is second, and I am somehow in fourth place in this tournament that pays three spots.  I have a feeling I am about to fall out without cashing, so I propose taking $20 from each of the three spots to give to fourth place.  Everyone looks at me like I've dropped from the planet Xnagrebt.

5:03 PM - The very next hand, Texan wins a hand from the third place guy, and immediately after, I knock that guy out of the tournament.  I again bring up chopping the total prize fund three ways, and at first the Texan (with a huge chip lead) balks, but then he looks at the time and notices that he is supposed to meet his buddies to cheer against the Cowboys, so he accepts.  Phil and I each win $230. 

We find out that this guy had never played a poker tournament, so he asked Scott to take a picture of us...

5:45 PM - I didn't really take too many food pictures, as this wasn't a "foodie" trip.  For the most part, meals were kind of catch-as-catch-can.  We headed to the Planet Hollywood for their 6:00 PM tournament and I decided that I needed to hit the restroom first.  I turned to the right and found myself unexpectedly right outside Pink's Hot Dogs.  Pink's started out in Los Angeles and has been featured on TV shows numerous times.  I decided that a dog was more important than that other thing.

I stood looking at the menu board, mesmerized by the options.  I decided on The Spicy Mojave Dog.  It wasn't actually too spicy, but it was a real treat...

That's a Polish Sausage, topped with nacho cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo and jalapeno peppers. Nummers!

7:00 PM - Back in the olden days (like, a year ago) the Planet Hollywood poker room was right next to the Heart Bar on the casino floor.  There was ambient casino noise, but it was off the beaten path a bit, and large enough that the noise wasn't an issue at most tables.  They have since moved it...

The brain surgeons running the casino at the Planet Hollywood have unconscionably put the poker tables in the center of a food court, which is also the entry into a shopping mall.  The casino noise is nearby (I am standing in the casino taking this picture) as is a sports bar on the right.  And on top of all of the noise, every time you looked up from the table, you saw gawkers in the hallway, looking at the poker players like they are zoo animals.  Concentration was almost impossible, as was hearing yourself think (and hearing the dealer and other players playing the game).

7:30 PM - But with all that said, I am playing very well.  This tournament also has a "bounty" which pays a nice $25 chip for knocking out another player. This $65 tournament had about 24 entries.

8:45 PM - I got bumped from the tournament, but not before knocking out four other people, giving me a cool $100 in chips.  That's back-to-back tournaments turning a profit.

11:45 AM - A Sunday night tradition is to head over to Binion's and play Pai Gow Poker while hammering Captain and Cokes (well, not Scott as he doesn't drink, and not Phil has he's gone to bed).  OK.  So it's just Pat and I drinking.  But we're also losing, so a little after midnight, I head back to the Downtown Grand.

Monday, September 14 @ 1:00 AM - Dammit, someone put a casino in between Binion's and my hotel room again!

2:00 AM - Actually, though I am just playing slot machines, I am not doing too poorly.  Not winning, mind, but only down about $30 after two hours.  Then I see a Quick Hit machine.  I've historically had very good fortune on Quick Hits (including this beauty on a $0.60 bet last Father's Day).  However, I throw away too much money chasing a bonus as the game betrayed me, so I headed off to bed.

8:00 AM - I get a text from Scott "We're at the Grand".  I ask him why.  He responds "I don't know'.  I happened to have just walked into the casino to cash in my sports bets, so it takes me no time to find him and Pat.  I mention that I've given too much money to the Downtown Grand, so I had planned to head to the California and play some of the video poker with the good pay tables.

8:15 AM - I find a row of three machines at the Cal, in an alcove near the cashier and we play for a few minutes. The other guys mention walking around, then I see it... a video poker machine that doesn't accept bills. I head to the cashier to buy a couple of rolls of quarters.

8:16 AM - Armed with my $40 in quarters, I see that this is a dollar machine.  I head back to the cashier.

8:17 AM - Armed with $100 dollar tokens I sit down and open up one roll of 20.  The first hand is a full house for a $45 payout.  It was so cool when the coins started dropping, until I realized that without a credit meter, this would happen for every winning hand.  I play the $20 that was in my hand, then take $20 out of the coin hopper and repeat a few times.  Ultimately, I decided to quit with a $25 profit.

8:30 AM - I schlep back to the cashier and say "Now I remember why I like the "ticket out" machines. That gets a laugh from all the cashiers but the one counting my coins.

8:40 AM - I go back to the guys and see Scott sitting at a $0.25 Sizzlin' 7s.  I sit next to Scott (who has already hit three 7s for 300 quarters) and slide in a $100 bill.  Pretty quickly, I hit three mixed 7s for 200 quarters as Scott hits for 200 at the exact same time.  About 10 spins later, Scott hits for another 200 credits and - sure nuff - I hit for 200 at the same time again.  After a little while more, Scott cashes out and I say "I'll play mine down to 600 credits".  When I get to 603 credits, I hit the button then hover my finger over the "cash out" button while watching this...

I almost didn't want to stop playing as I had a $200 profit just from this machine at this point, but I was reminded that I had promised to cash out.

9:00 AM - We decided (since we've parked the car at the Golden Gate valet) that we will eat at Du-Par's for some pancakes.  The game changes, however, from "Where's Scott?" to "Where's Phil?"  Difference is, Phil arrives before we're seated and we all enjoy a good breakfast.

10:00 AM - Normally, we start playing cards as early as possible, but the tournaments had been lightly attended, so we instead chose a later game.  We head towards the Treasure Island, and since we're there early, Phil and I decide to hit a blackjack table.  We were pleasantly surprised when just about every table we found had a $10 minimum and still payed 3:2 on a blackjack (only their double-deck games pay that evil 6:5).  We each get a nice run of cards, and I walk away and head towards the poker room with a $150 profit.

12:30 PM - The tournament at Treasure Island ($65) only had 11 entries, but had a $500 guarantee into the prize fund which is why we chose to play.  Pat and I had made the final five, hoping to secure one of the two sports that cash.  Pat goes away first, and a couple of hands later I am dealt a QQ.  I raise, the guy next to me calls, a third guy goes all-in, I call, and so does the guy to my left.  We flip the cards over, and "one guy" has JJ and the "other guy" has KK.  I start running scenarios, and if no face cards come on the board, I'd lose to the "other guy"s KK but will since I have more chips than he, I'd get the side pot from the "one guy".  Until the flop includes a Jack.  "One guy" gets all the chips, and me and the "other guy" sulk out, wondering how the guy with the worst hand won.

2:00 PM - We go over to the Linq and check out their new poker room.  There wasn't a soul playing cards, and the attendant tells me that they had 20 players at the earlier tournament, but that nobody had signed up, yet.  We walk away, pretending to consider it.

2:15 PM - We pretend to consider the Linq game as we walk to Harrah's (conveniently located right next door).  Phil had been keeping an eye out for sushi or a noodle-type-place.  We settle instead for the Oyster Bar.

It is a little expensive ($28 for a dozen Oysters Rockefeller), and Pat instead chooses the nearby Subway, but those of us who did partake really enjoyed it.  I'd stayed and played at Harrah's in the past and have never given the Oyster Bar a second thought before now.  I'll think twice next time (while shuffling My-Sugar-Na off to Subway)

3:00 PM - This $75 tournament (Side note; here is another Caesers' property which has moved its poker room into a hallway... though this hallway at least has a wall) has 24 players, and the second most annoying player ever is at my table (the most annoying being the Cocaine Cowboy from the 2012 trip.  This guy didn't seem high, which actually made him more annoying as it would seem that he's just like that.  He talked constantly... tried to guess everyone else's hands out loud, goading other playing into raising him (or calling his foolish raises) and arguing with the dealer.  It has thrown everyone off of his or her games, and I believe the poor guy to the left quit the tournament just because this guy started showing pictures of the seven different motorcycles that he's won in casinos over the years.

3:45 PM - I am out of the tournament after playing possibly the worst poker of my life.  I was afraid to call this guy's raises because my cards weren't good enough, and therefore was afraid to play cards that I knew to be good because "He's just going to raise me anyway".  I run - don't walk - away from the game and back to the Linq.

4:30 PM - I first find a Pai Gow Poker game to relax at near the sports book (in part so I could watch part of the Monday Night Football game).  I also want to get a $1 chip from the Linq to add to my collection.

5:00 PM - Pai Gow Poker isn't nearly as much as fun as when you are playing with friends and having a few drinks, so I head over to the center bar.  I promise to myself to NOT play the video poker at lightning speed, and to try to limit it to two hands or so in between plays.

5:30 PM - During halftime (I apparently didn't set a limit for that period) I hit this while playing for half-dollars...

That's my third video poker hit of over $400 in three days, and I am not even playing VP as my main game.  I decided to parlay to dollars, and give a couple of hundred back (and on my way to giving back more) when the guys find me and drag me away.

7:00 PM - Back to South Point for their 7:00 PM tournament.  My pre-trip research found that there are actually 13 tournaments on Monday that start at 7:00 PM with a buy-in of $100 or less, but I think that Scott, Pat and I were interested in recreating the magic from Saturday.

9:00 PM - We can't.

9:30 PM - While planning the trip, comped rooms (the hallmark of our trips) were hard to come by, and as a matter of fact, the Downtown Grand didn't come through until only a month before we left.  In looking for cheap rooms, we considered Palace Station because of its proximity to both the Strip and Downtown, and also the prices.  We decide to stop in and try to seed the place for future offers.  It was pretty much a quick washout... didn't seem like a place we'd want to hang around at, and other than Phil hitting four deuces on video poker, we weren't really successful.

11:00 PM - Another yearly tradition that is usually a Sunday night thing is to try to get the guys involved in a winning craps game.  We head to Main Street Station and lose a buck-and-a-half pretty quickly.

11:20 PM - Phil wants to play Let It Ride.  I am not a huge fan of that game, but I did hit a three-card straight flush for a $250 win, once, and I am nothing if not a follower, so the four of us went over to the Golden Gate to play.

11:30 PM - Phil seems to be winning something every hand, and I am bleeding money.  Since we've left South Point two hours earlier, I am down $350 and digging into my pocket again.  Both Scott and I are trying to plan an exit strategy when Scott has two 8s in his hand, and the dealer turns over an 8 on the board.  I mention that I need the dealer to turn over a 9 for a straight, and Scott says definitively "No.  One more 8".  And almost as if he called it, she turned over another 8.  That gave Scott four-of-a-kind and a $500 win.

11:45 AM - As happy as I am for Scott, I'm tired of getting killed.  However, I soon hit back to back straights, then my own three-of-a-kind and suddenly I am ahead for this session.  Pat and Scott mention going to bed, but Phil and I - in deference to the degenerate gambler's code - need to continue on in our last night in downtown Las Vegas.

Tuesday, September 15 @ 1:00 AM - Phil and I are nicely settled into a $5 blackjack table at the Fremont with a new, um, friend that I'll call Healthcare.  She is playing two hands at a time at $15 a hand... poorly. She is proud of the fact that she hated casinos until she arrived in Las Vegas from the Kansas City area, but once she "learned blackjack three days ago" she can't leave.  She may know the mechanics of the game, but after awhile, the dealer stopped trying to tell her NOT to double on 12 because she just responds that she always trusts her gut.  She's pleasant enough (though she will not shut up) so Phil and I don't leave.  Besides, I'm winning!

1:15 AM - At some point, both Phil and I realize that we both got out of bed Saturday morning at 3:15 AM... which translates to 1:15 AM in Vegas.  Within three days, we've lost an entire night's sleep.  Man, I LOVE this place!

3:00 AM - I can't go to bed, yet, as I've found another hot video poker machine...

9:00 AM - I catch a few hours sleep and pack to leave the Downtown Grand.  When I arrived Saturday evening, there was a sign at the valet that said "Valet $11".  Because I know better, I assume that doesn't include me so I use the valet.  

After dumping a bunch of money Saturday night, I went to the players club to see if I had reached (or how far I was from reaching) the next player's club level. The clerk couldn’t tell me how far I was from the new level, but she said that I had gambled enough to receive a voucher for the valet charge to be waived. She told me to give the voucher to the hotel clerk.

Long story short, while trying to check-out it was discovered that the voucher had already expired. I was then ping-ponged back and forth between the hotel desk and the players club booth until finally, a front desk supervisor intervened, with a comment that I should have never been charged for parking because I was a hotel guest.

*Sigh* If I was a hotel guest, why was the charge even there in the first place? And why didn’t the valet attendant, two different players club clerks or the hotel desk clerk know? Or, did the front desk supervisor just use his discretion to waive the charge?

10:00 AM - Angry at the Downtown Grand, I have breakfast at S+O, which is their coffee shop.  There.  That'll show 'em.

12:00 Noon - Our flight leaves at 6:20 PM and we know that we only have time for one game.  I selfishly suggest The Orleans ($70) because I know we all usually play poorly at the last game on the way to the airport, and if that's the case, The Orleans has all the games, the best odds, a dozen restaurants and is close enough the airport to keep us occupied.

2:00 PM - Proves what I know.  I am probably playing my best poker ever in this game.  Every move I make works, every time I fold it turns out that my hand would have been a loser, and I have a nice stack of chips for the bulk of the tournament.

3:15 PM - The tournament narrows down to a final table of 10, and Pat, Scott and I are all still alive. We are concerned, however, as we have about 75 minutes before we have to leave for the airport.  "Don't worry", Scott says. "These final tables always go quickly.  It'll be less than an hour."

4:15 PM - There are still seven players left (Scott is out, but Pat and I are still alive), and our flight leaves in two hours.  I hastily jot down confirmation numbers and the airline phone number, and ask Phil to contact Southwest Airlines and ask if we can take a later flight.

4:30 PM - One guy drops out, and a wonderful lady in the game suggests that even though there are still six players alive in a tournament that only pays three places, we all call a draw so that we can leave and get to the airport.  At first, the chip leader balks and says that he wants to play cards.  The lady offers this guy $100 more than the rest of us.  That made the chip leader happy, everyone else appeared thrilled to survive, and I can't thank this lady enough.

We turn to Phil and tell him that we don't need to change the flight, and he says that he's right in the middle of it.  He now gets to stay on the line and undo the changes while we wait for the turtle of a tournament director to make payments.

5:30 PM - We've got the car from the valet, got gas, returned the rental car, and cleared security in enough time to actually get a quick meal in the airport.  We get to the gate just as they are beginning the boarding process... leaving no time for the traditional $20 in the airport slots.

This is the second time in our six poker trips that I turned a gambling profit, and only the third time in 15 total trips to Las Vegas.  Some stats (because I am fascinated by them)...

  • Poker only -$40
  • Video poker only +$850 (Boo-yah!)
  • All craps games -$250 (and craps is usually my favorite game)
  • All blackjack games +$200
  • All sports bets +$24 (I didn't tell you about the bath I took on the two Monday Night games)
  • All games at Binion's -$310
  • All games at Downtown Grand -$420 (that's why they keep inviting me back)
  • All games at South Point +$634 (that's why I may never get a comp offer)
  • Total gambling profit (includes poker and all casino games) +$130

My wife is planning on bowling her first ever Women's Nationals tournament in April.  Now to keep my untapped Vegas savings safe for seven months.  Maybe someone should hold it for me.

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