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Gamble Gamble Gamble (AC Trip Report Pt 2)

Ah, day 2. The night before, I had lost some late night cash playing 1/2 NLHE like a complete donkey. I finally went to sleep around 3 or 3:30 am with headphones playing in my ears. I prefer a little white noise when I sleep, like a loud fan or A/C unit, but there were no white noise appliances available, and I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep in AC without some distracting noise; after all, people are going to their rooms at all hours of the night, drunk, loud, and oblivious to their slumbering hallmates.

I woke up around 9:30, but when I rolled over to check the clock, it looked like 4:30 am, since I couldn't see the top bar of the 9. I wondered why I was so awake, and decided to try to go back to sleep. I finally gave up when wifey Kim started moving. I looked back at the clock and realized my mistake. Since wifey Kim was getting up, 6 hours of sleep would do. Besides, when I'm in AC, sleep is the enemy.

When traveling with 12 people, it's easy to make everything complicated. Rather than get wrapped up in the masses, wifey Kim and I decided to get dressed and find breakfast at our own pace. Since it was Christmas, most places were closed and we refused to wait in the long line for the overpriced buffet. Instead, we ended up getting some crappy looking bagels from an ice cream shoppe type place. Amazingly, the bagels tasted 100x better than they looked.

After breakfast, we stopped at the poker room. It was already a little past 11am and Roose, Hole and bro-in-law Marc were in the Tropicana's morning tournament, a $65 buy-in, if memory serves. I was a bit envious of their opportunity to play, and made the best of it by jumping into some 1/2 NLHE. I don't recall what wifey Kim was up to, but I got in several hours of play.

Marc had busted from the tourney already, but Robbie Hole was doing well and Roose was nursing a shortstack. I considered my options and put myself on a 1/2 list. I was finally seated at a table next to a guy who looked like a young Mark Curry. He was jocular, although his table chat revealed a lot about him. When a player (who was ironically at the table with me the night before when I played like crap) bet $10 on the flop and turn of the first hand, Curry said, "Oh, here's the bully of the table." All for $10 bets!? Shit.

I was card dead. I mean card dead, man. Just ridiculous. But I also wasn't playing well. I lost a decent amount over several hours and decided to switch tables. I had already established a losing image and I was getting no traction.

At my new table, I won a pot on a sheer bluff. I fought back and won some money back, but ultimately got up from the table down $200 or so from the entire session. I just couldn't hit a flop to save my life, and I wasn't playing tight enough to weather the storm.

I stopped by to check on Roose. He made it to the final 4, so I ran some calculations to help him propose a chop. One player refused, so I told Roose good luck and beat feet. I had wifey Kim on the phone and I wanted to see her for a bit.

As it turned out, my brother Dave and his girlfriend Andrea were looking to find some cheaper table games. We decided on the Hilton, which is right next door to the Trop. The Hilton is usually reliable for lower stakes because its a piss poor casino/hotel and its the last casino/hotel on the Trop side of the Boardwalk. Since it's the last on the strip, it gets less foot traffic. Hence, lower stakes.

The four of us headed over. It was surprisingly nice out as we made the short walk. At the Hilton, Dave and Andrea immediately found a $10 blackjack table and went to work. I wanted to play some with wifey Kim, so I just followed her as she chose her game. We ended up at the Wheel of Fortune slots. It was a $1 slot machine, and while we usually don't play slot and very rarely play over .25 slots, since wifey Kim was in the mood, I played along.

The first machine she sat at had an odd Wheel Spin option. On most WoF machines, to spin the bonus wheel, you only need to hit one Spin symbol, which is located on the third wheel. For the machine we sat at, you needed to hit three symbols in a row. I considered this as I checked the wall of machines. They all required the three symbols except for one of the machines, suspiciously at the end. Once I eyed the prize, we cashed out and headed over to the one Spin symbol machine. We were down about $60 when we hit the Spin...and hit for $250. A dozen spins later and we hit again for an additional $25. Two dozen spins later and we hit for another $200.

When we cashed out, we had $500 for a $400 profit. We split the cash and I convinced wifey Kim to join me for $5 min bet craps. We played for an hour or so, both of us breaking even. Wifey Kim then went for some roulette, where she won $50 by playing $25 bets on the outside. We returned to the slots and found a Jeopardy machine with a function much like the WoF's wheel spin. Instead of spinning a wheel, you can hit Double Jeopardy, at which point lights on the Jeopardy board go out until one remains with your bonus prize. In the end, we lost the $50, but felt satiated. We found Dave and Andrea, still playing blackjack, so we bid them farewell and returned to the Trop.

A quick note on the Hilton poker room. The Hilton used to have a big open poker room. Not anymore. They now have about 4 tables right in the middle of the casino floor, with no dividers of any kind. It's like walking down a row and seeing: blackjack, blackjack, blackjack, Spanish 21, roulette, roulette, craps, craps, poker, poker..." It just looks and feels all wrong, since you have all these table games followed by 10 dudes squeezed around a table trying to make actual decisions. I don't think they had anything other than 2/4 Limit running at the time. Frankly, it just disgusted me.*

Returning to the Trop, I had already received a call from Roose that he had chopped the tourney heads-up with the dude who refused to chop earlier. Roose's take was north of $800 profit, which was great news. He was with the other guys playing Pai Gow, so I convinced wifey Kim to stop by with me. Once there, I grabbed a seat and wifey Kim excused herself to freshen up before dinner.

Pai Gow is awesome. The four of us (me, Roose, Hole, and Marc) all won money. I don't think I lost once and ended up $186. The dealer and pit boss were having fun and so were we. The only reason we got up was to meet everyone at Ri Ra, an Irish pub restaurant in the Trop for dinner.

Everyone grumbled as we cashed out of the table, but I was happy. "This is a great excuse to lock in a win, guys," to which most agreed begrudgingly. Upstairs at Ri Ra, we were the first of our party to arrive. We grabbed seats in a side room where a cute waitress was slumped over a lazyboy. The small room was like a private party room, so we all spread out on the comfy couches while some of the single guys started chatting with the waitress. The exchange of the night went to this conversation, about 15 minutes after the four of us and the waitress (who was mostly texting on her iPhone as she sat slumped in a chair) had been sitting around waiting:

Marc: So, is it busy tonight?
Waitress: Nah, not really. I have a few tables.
Marc: Really? And how are those tables doing?
Waitress: Um, I've got to go. (at which point she got up and actually began doing her goddamn job).

When everyone arrived, we prayed we wouldn't be at the lazy waitress's table. We lucked out. The food at Ri Ra was actually great. I highly recommend the creamed spinach, which everyone thought was great. It has a bit of cheesiness to it that works well. Everything else was fantastic too, including the patty melt I had ordered.

Full and satisfied, I joined wifey Kim up to the room. It was probably 9:30 or so, maybe later, and she eventually fell asleep around 11pm. I must admit, I was facing an internal crisis. I knew the guys were playing poker. In fact, we had plans to play 2/4 drunken limit hold'em that evening. But I was comfortable in bed with wifey Kim and tired. I decided to call it a night...until I got a text at about midnight from Roose: "I'm at 2/4 and there's a seat open. Hurry up."

I made a split-second decision and threw on my clothes. I was down at the room in 5 minutes...at which point I saw the list for 2/4 limit had 4 names. I was pissed. I guess Roose didn't know about the list, but obviously the seat at his table was already taken. "That guy's about to leave. Just take his seat." "I can't, man. I can't just cut the list." Man, I am way too much of a good two-shoes, but somehow, cutting the line felt like cheating and I am very conscious of my reputation in the gambling community. I knew that no one at 2/4 limit mattered in the big sense of the word, but I try to conduct myself in a reasonable and fair way.

I strolled the floor to check out my other buddies and saw the young Marc Curry sitting at a table. He was motioning for me to come over, so I walked over when he hit me with a proverbial kick to the sack. "Man, after you left, the guy who took your seat went on a tear. He had Aces and Kings so many times, we had to start making him show." I was livid upon hearing this, but I felt on some level that Curry was just intentionally trying to get me upset, so I didn't give it up. I laughed about how funny that was, full on laughing, as a sorta way to stop myself from going all HULK SMASH on him and the table. It was then I realized that my gambling night was over. That dousche rubbed salt in a still open wound and I knew that any poker would be bad for me.

As I returned to the slumbering wifey Kim, I thought back about what Curry had to say. Ironically, as I left the poker room before the Hilton trip, I stopped by my old table and took a peak at the guy sitting in my old seat. He had less than $200 in front of him. That meant one of two things: (1) Curry was straight lying to me and was trying to tilt me, or (2) the run of great cards for my replacement happened after I left for the Hilton, in which case moving tables didn't matter. Realistically, a million different things would've changed if I had stayed in the seat next to Curry, so I didn't lose anything at all. If anything, I saw this all as a learning experience. Curry tilted me with words and I wouldn't play tilted. At least I could be proud of that decision.

I returned upstairs to bed where I easily fell asleep. The next morning, wifey Kim and I woke up to the sound of her brother Marc talking in the hallway as he walked to my parents' room. We got up and joined them. The crew was figuring out breakfast. The parents all went out on their own, leaving the younger generation to go to breakfast at the Seaside Cafe in the Trop. The meal was decent and the company was great. We all got along well. Wifey Kim, me, my little brother and his girfriend, Roose and his wife, Robbie Hole and bro-in-law Marc. We prop bet through the meal and all left satisfied.

My bro, his girlfriend, wifey Kim and I loaded up the car. The parking garage was pretty far from our room, so once there, we gave up on returning for more partying. We were all pretty exhausted and we headed home.

Overall, I was down about $120. I lost about $550 playing poker and won a decent amount back on table games. I learned that 1/2 NLHE poker should not be played during Xmas anymore. It seems every year that I lose playing 1/2 NLHE during these trips. My mind is on wifey Kim and my time feels short so I push the action. Distraction and desperation are never good for one's game. In the future, I will concentrate on tourneys and 2/4 Drunken Limit Hold'em. With tourneys, the finite chips and life will cap my losses and also help me focus. With drunken 2/4 limit, it's about socializing and, well, getting drunk for cheap. Getting drunk works well with distractions and desperation, like a little trifecta of degeneracy.

For the year, I did not come close to reaching my goal of $8,000 profit. We'll discuss that further in another post. In the end, though, as disappointing as that is, it is merely a blip on my overall poker career. It's one long session until you are dead, and I hope to have many more years in me.

Until next time, make mine poker!

*If the games there were soft and profitable, disgust or no disgust, I'd still play.

posted by Jordan @ 9:39 AM,

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