Monday, January 26, 2009

WSOP anybody?

We interrupt this Vegas trip report for some breaking news:

Yes, yes, I know it only seems two seconds ago that Peter Eastgate brought home the Big Bracelet (non-Bob version), but the 2009 WSOP Schedule has been released. The first place I saw it was Pokerati, so they get the Garthmeister J. stamp of approval.

Of interest to me were a couple of events. First of all there is a $2500 Mixed Event, which features the following games: Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, No-Limit Holdem, Pot-Limit Omaha, 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball. Sounds like fun! Unfortunately I am doubtful that I will make it for that one, since I will be intending to show up to Event 55, the $2500 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball Limit event. I couldn't make it last year, which was disappointing, but hopefully I can swing it this year.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dispatches from Sin City, Vol III aka Dude, Where's The Porn Convention aka Triple Draw!

Yep, back from Vegas, and hiding out in the Garthmeister J. Bunker, avoiding the masses of Inauguration-related crowds. But on with the updates!

  • Dateline, Monday: I manage to sleep in, which is quite the effort for me in Vegas. I jump out of bed, and race to Denny's for lunch/breakfast, intent on sustenance before dialling into a meeting. My body is still feeling decidedly unhappy about consuming more fat or grease, and I scan the menu for something I might be able to handle. It appears Denny's has exactly one (1) salad - a chicken salad that is available in either "grilled" or "deep-fried" form.

    The grilled chicken is OK.

    I make it back to the meeting, which I bang out in record time. I have decided that I want to try and head down to the Venetian; prior to leaving DC, Grubby let me know that the AVN Convention is in town. Yes, the AVN Convention, also known as the big porn convention. Frankly, checking that out is exactly the kind of thing that screams Las Vegas, so why not try and get there? Monday was the last day of the convention, so I hoped enough of it was running for me to take a peek before deciding what else to do with the day.

    Those who know me well also know that I have no direction sense, and can be completely hopeless at finding things. And so it came to pass: either the convention had shut up shop early, or I am completely unable to find an extremely large convention populated by porn stars and those that like to look at porn stars.

    Right. So I probably couldn't find it.

    Since I was moving down that end of the strip, I figured I might as well head to the Wynn, and see if I could pre-register for the conference. That was done without mishap, so I decided to have a look at the Wynn and see what they were spreading in the poker room. One of the first labels I saw was for "4-8 Mix: List of Interest". Intrigued I asked the woman running the room what was in the mix game that ran.

    "Well, there's Triple Draw..."
    "Stop right there," I interrupted. "I'm interested. What time does the game usually start?"

    The woman explained that it was hard to say, since the mix game usually relied on the same bunch of folks turning up and deciding they wanted to play. She must have noted my disappointment, as she immediately said that she could put my name on the list, and for a $100 deposit she could give me a pager which would reach me anywhere on the strip. That sounded good, so I handed over the Benjamin, and put the pager in my pocket.

    At the woman's suggestion I also walked out and signed up for a Wynn's player's card on the floor of the casino, so I could get $10 slot free slot-play. That sounded fine, despite the fact I had never played slots in a casino. I received my card, and then channelled my inner Grubby, wandering around the slots, wondering what I should play. I couldn't find a Monopoly Big Event, but I did find a Mr Cashman.

    But wait a moment... why try and imagine what Grubby would play? Why not just ask the man? So I did, and he prescribed some Wizard of Oz action. I managed to find the machine in question, but unfortunately it was occupied by a quartet of people. Deciding not to wait, I wandered next door to check out the new casino, Encore, that had opened as a kind of sister-Casino to the Wynn. Predictably fancy, going with the red theme even more strongly than the Wynn. Walking back through the Wynn, I noted that the quartet of folks were not moving from the Wizard of Oz machine, so I moved onward, figuring I'd check out the Palazzo on the way back to the IP, where I could chill out and decide what I wanted to do if the Mix game didn't run.

    The Palazzo was pretty nice, and walking through to the Venetian I was particularly smitten by the menu of B&B, a Mario Batali restaurant. Finally making back to the IP, I sat down at my laptop, and idly looked at the schedule for my conference. With a jolt I realised that the conference started at 1pm! For some reason I thought it had started at 9am, and had been busy avoiding alcohol... but this changed everything! Getting myself together, I wandered back down to the Wynn, figuring I could sit in a NLHE game and wait and see if I could play the Mix game later.

  • Dateline, Monday evening: After talking to the Wynn poker room chick and being told that the NLHE lines are moving swiftly, I head out in search of food. I hop between possibilities, before settling on Carnevino, a Palazzo restaurant, and have a lovely appetizer of Italian cured meats and peppers, followed by a sumptuous lamb pasta, accompanied by a couple of glasses of robust red wine, which was a lovely and leisurely way to start the evening.

    I head back to the Wynn and quickly sit down at a 1/3 NLHE table, buying in for $500. The game apparently used to be uncapped, but as a sign of these economic times a cap had been introduced. I immediately had a horrible few orbits, dropping $200 as I was outkicked, missed draws, and found out where I was (in a bad position) in some hands. Cursing aloud, I wished that the 4-8 Mix Game would start. At that outburst from me the sullen looking girl in the five seat immediately perked up, and asked if I was serious. I let her know that I was... and in twenty minutes time I was sitting down with three other folks at a 4-8 Mix game. Good times!

    The mix of games we end up playing is as follows: Badugi, LO8, A-5 Triple Draw, Stud 8, and 2-7 Triple Draw. Fuck and yes. I am joined initially by Joy (the formerly surly and now happy girl who started the table), Kendall (who proceeds to build a fortress composed of $2000 worth of $1 and $2 chips), and some guy from Detroit who professed his love for all things Motown by way of a forearm tattoo and a Detroit hoodie. Over the course of the next hours we were joined by a cast of different characters, and at one point we had a full table of eight players. I was proceeding to call with second-best hands in Badugi, and having the odd second-best hand in Stud 8, and then winning all my money back at Triple Draw.

    Since landing in Vegas I had been really tight in the shoulders and neck, and spending hours at a poker table wasn't helping. I eventually succumbed, and scored another first... yes, I got a massage at the table. Big timing it, baby!

    Finally I retire at 2:30am, down an extra $100, as my Triple Draw winnings aren't enough to keep things afloat. I thank everyone for the great time I had, and say that I hope to see them more often during the next week. I slide into bed at about 3am, and finally fall asleep.

  • Dateline, Tuesday morning: Waking up isn't fun, and I finally shave and put on my business duds, a far cray from the cargo pants and t-shirt which has become my defacto Vegas uniform. I meet up with my co-workers (two of which had flown in the previous evening, one due the next day) and we grab a quick lunch at the Wynn, before heading into the day's session.

  • Dateline, Tuesday afternoon: The first conference session is a bit of a death march: 1pm until 6:30pm, with only a couple of minutes here or there to steal a break. As it was quite warm outside when I was walking to the Wynn, I had rolled up my shirt sleeves, and hadn't carried a sweater with me. In the high-ceilinged conference room it slowly got colded and colder, and towards the end of the day my throat began to get dry.

    Yes, I was succumbing to the Vegas Ebola Virus.

    Determined to soldier on, I kept at it until the final speaker had finished. Walking out of the conference area one of my co-workers expressed a desire to gamble, so we wound our way back down the strip, ending up (for one reason or another) at Harrah's. We plonked ourselves down at a $10 blackjack, and immediately got handed our asses. I ran through around $300 in an hour and a half, eroding my blackjack winnings from the heady high of +$500 on Saturday night to the decidedly less sexy -$100. That meant I paid about $150 a whiskey sour during the session, whiskey being the sole alcohol I was prepared to drink in my early-onset Vegas Ebola Virus state.

    Once the last chip left my grasp, my co-workers and I figured it was a good time to head back to our respective hotels and try and get some rest ahead of the 9am Keynote to officially kick off the conference proper.

  • Dateline, Wednesday: To be continued! Will Garthmeister J. be crippled by the Vegas Ebola Virus? Will Blackjack return to further erode the bankroll? Will more Triple Draw be played? Stay tuned to find out!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dispatches from Sin City, Vol II

It's time for the promised Volume II of Garthmeister J. loose in Vegas...

  • Dateline, Sunday morning: It had been my intention to wake up early and put a bet down on the Giants against Philly, but this did not seem to be a good idea at 9:30am, so I rolled over and went back to sleep. When I eventually surfaced and made it down to the casino floor, I noted that Philly was busy smacking the Giants around rather handily. Sleeping in, FTW.
    Making my way to the sportsbook, I had to admit to being a little rattled. I was 0-2 betting on the favourites, and would have been 0-3 if I had been able to get out of bed. I had ideas of maybe reversing field and betting on the Chargers, right up until I saw that the IP had the Steelers -3.5. I was expecting -6.5, maybe -6, so I was a little suspicious. Was there an injury I didn't know about? Was the fix in? When it came down to it, I was unable to give up the apparent free field goal, and put my money down on Pittsburgh.
    I decided to make my way to the Bellagio for the game, as I wanted to check out the poker room and maybe play once the game was over. Settling in at the bar, over a video poker machine, I noted that the Bellagio did have the Steelers -6.5. Weird. I then watched as the Chargers opened the game by marching down the field and scoring a touchdown. Sweet. Fortunately the Terrible Towel-waving denizens of the Bellagio Sportsbook (really - there were really people waving Terrible Towels) managed to inspire their boys home, and I was able to book a win. The bad news is I dropped $100 at video poker drinking my "free" drinks.
  • Dateline, Sunday post-game: I walk up to the Bellagio Poker room and ask for my name to be put down on 1/2 NLHE, 2/5 NLHE, and 4/8 LO8. Apparently LO8 won't go off for some time, so I assume that NLHE is going to be my game. It's neck and neck between 1/3 and 2/5, but I am called first for 2/5. Within 5 minutes at the table I work out that a) there is another Australian at the table (named Peter), b) he lives where I used to live, and c) he's friends with a guy I used to work with.
    I decide it is a very small world.
    We are joined shortly by an older gentleman decked out in a jet black suit and a scarlet button down shirt, with gold chains and glasses. I think he looks like Clark Gable, Peter thinks Burt Reynolds, and mere minutes after I compliment the man (named Mark) on his suit I manage to flop a set against his Aces, and take down an approx. $1000 pot. Mark then proceeds to spend the next three hours trying to work out what holding I had, somehow not coming up with the correct answer (set of 8s) until I finally break down and tell him - since we had been been keeping in synch with our drinks (Coors Light for him, Michelob Ultra for me) I thought I could throw him a bone. In the meantime a young Belgian fellow has arrived and begun running over the table. I make a play at him at one point, and lose $75 for my troubles. This may have made me make money a little while later when I manage to flop a set of Kings and turn a boat. He doesn't pay me off for the maximum, but I take down a tidy $600 or so pot.
    After five hours or so, my stomach is telling me it's time to eat, so Peter and I decide to clock off. We're both up, me about $650, Peter a touch less. We finally manage to find the Bellagio Cafe and grab a bite. By this stage I have regressed to eating the seared Ahi tuna salad, as the idea of putting more fatty food in my system does not appear to be a good idea. Peter and I have a good dinner and a great chat. He leaves to go to bed and fly out the next day, I leave to play blackjack.
  • Dateline, Sunday night post-Blackjack: I am even drunker than I was after playing poker and keeping time with Mark and his Coors Light drinking. Unfortunately I am down $300. Stupid Blackjack. I feel very Bracelet-y as I stagger from the table and back to the IP. Sleep envelopes me.
  • Dateline, Monday: To come in the next volume of "Dispatches from Sin City". Warning: Triple Draw might be involved!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Dispatches from Sin City, Vol I

You know what? Since I'm here in Vegas and all, why don't I let you know how I'm going?

  • Dateline, Friday evening: I land in Vegas at about 10:30pm, and am in line at the glorious Imperial Palace waiting to check in an extremely short time later. Checking in takes a while, and so does sorting out the various reservations I have for my stay here. Using corporate travel agencies is the roolingest! I eventually get my room sorted out, get myself organised, and then head down for some craps. I say hi to various familiar faces from my adventures during the Winter Gathering, and then proceed to dump $500. I manage to fight back somewhat, limiting the bleeding to around $200, and discover at around 5am that I am fucking drunk. Sleep sounds good.
  • Dateline, Saturday: I surface around noon, and manage to confirm that a Denny's Heartland Scramble is God's Gift to a hangover. I head back to the IP and make my (bad) sports bets for the day's NFL games. Yeah, betting the favourites didn't work out too well. I then head to Binion's to meet up with Michalski and crew to play the Saturday $110 10k guaranteed tournament. Dan, true to form is a) late, and b) not going to play the tournament.
    We decide to record a podcast at the first break, which you can all hear here. To continue the story of the tournament (begun in the podcast), I went card dead in the middle, doubled up with QQ on my first (and only) hand at a table when I was moved UTG and then promptly got moved again, and finally busted when I was short and had to push and got called by Mr Erratic-and-Retarded for almost his entire stack with a marginal holding that then managed to issue a hideous beat on me. Of course. Nine off the money. Of course!
    I then head to the Golden Gate Casino for some fine diner cookin'. I briefly consider heading back to the Strip, but am swayed by this corner of Binion's containing three blackjack tables, populated by super-cute dealer chicks in cowboy outfits. Blackjack and I are not really on speaking terms, and haven't been for some time, but I decide that hanging with the Cowgirls is worth a couple of bills.
    So, eight hours later they are closing the place up around me. I am completely shit-faced, have just over $700 in front of me, have had Deep and Meaningful conversations with all the Cowgirls (one goes as far as to say "We've talked about food, travel, and writing. This has been better than most first dates I've had." Thanks, Stephanie!), been advising one of the pit bosses about what to do with his forays into writing dealer and player manuals (at one point he not-so-jokingly asked if I wanted to be his agent), and talked philosophy with the swing-shift pit boss who is intent on telling me what times he usually works so we can chat again as "I've never had a conversation like this in a casino, ever."
    So I had a pretty good time.
    Since it is now eight hours since I have eaten, and once again, I am smashed, I head back to the Golden Gate. I then proceed to demolish some meatloaf in record time, impressing my server who is actually kind of stunned at how fast the food disappeared.
    Walking back towards a taxi rank, I notice the "Girls of Glitter Gulch" establishment. OK, so I used to live on the edge of the Red Light district of Sydney, and as a result I have only really been to a strip club one (1) time in my five years in the US. But screw it. And after all, I'm drunk. I have a couple of fine lap dances with some fine ladies, they close the place up around me an hour and a half later, and I head back to the IP to pass out.
  • Dateline, Sunday: To come in the next volume of "Dispatches from Sin City".

Friday, January 09, 2009

Vegas: Part Deux

Part Deux you ask? Part Deux? What happened to Part Un? It seems Part Un got lost in a maelstrom of apathy and alcohol. This despite the fact that Saunter and I both agreed it was our funnest and bestest trip to Sin City yet, featuring:

  • Crazy mixed games at the IP
  • Winning my charity tournament rebuy at "No Bust" Blackjack at the Hard Rock
  • Winning 4th in the charity tournament, and getting to play and chat with a bunch or Pros
  • Enjoying a great suite at THEHotel at Mandalay Bay
  • Pablo and Gracie's wedding
  • Getting reamed at Black Jack at the Venetian
  • Getting to play a bit in the blogger tourney
  • Busting out of the blogger tourney just in time to join Joe Speaker, Emet, Bobby Bracelet, Elizabeth, BG, and Drizz for dinner at Bouchon
  • Having not 1, but 2 crazy hot craps sessions
  • Having a great dinner at Wolfgang Puck's Trattoria del Lupo
  • Sucking hard at the Sports Book, except my dramatic 49'ers pick
As many others have mentioned before myself, Derek has the best write-up I've seen.

Not even a month later I am winging my way back to Vegas, this time for work purposes, though I decided to tack a weekend on to either side. Should be fun, even without the Imperial Palace crawling with Bloggers. I shall give Freddy Mercury your best regards.

Until then, enjoy this picture of me with the random goodies I won from the charity tournament. Not pictured: the WSOP Main Event buy-in that went to the dude that finished in 1st. So close!