August 2007
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Day 15: The smallest show in town?

Instead of checking out the Vegas Lounge scene, I saw a novelty "vegas-style" lounge act that just happened to be in town.

Richard Cheese was playing at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas.  Not in The Joint, but inside the steakhouse.  Audience capacity: 230.

With ambient lounge lighting that made it impossible to get a decent picture.

A review may follow when I work out what I actually thought of the most peculiar little show I’ve ever seen.

Day 14: Parlez-vous poker?

Rack your brains really hard and try to guess which faux-French themed casino is responsible for this amazing sign.

I played $1/$2 no-limit at Imperial Palace last night.  Best game yet.  Obviously winning money helps, but it was much friendlier than anywhere I’ve been so far: no locals and no attitudes present.  Lots of 7-way limped flops too, which can’t be bad.  I got lucky with a set of 2s against top two pair – it’s not exactly difficult to win when that happens.

However I’m finally starting to see situations where players are making big mistakes.  For instance, with the board showing TJQK by the turn and all different suits, the player to my right moved all in for about twice the size of the pot.  Everyone who didn’t have an ace folded round to one other player who called and a split pot looked imminent.

Sometimes you just guess wrong.  The call actually came from KQ for two pair, who had already flipped it up tournament style and then made a full house with a queen on the river for nearly $500.  Nice hand, sir.

Afterwards I turned to the player who got beat, feigned some kind of sympathetic grunt and said "but you wanted that call, right?".  "No", he told me.  "I never want a call when I’m all in, I’d rather just take the pot down than get drawn out on".

"I’d want to be called by a hand with four outs all day long", pipes up one player who wasn’t involved in the hand, but seems to understand a little about how you actually win money from gambling – it really is as simple as getting a whole bunch of money in the middle when you have the best of it.

The equity here if the other guy folds is just the $100 or so in the pot.  The equity if he calls is about $270 (roughly 90% of $100 in the pot pot, plus the $200 call).  Yes, you definitely want the call.

"It was only three outs", someone else replied. "I had a queen".

"Even better.  So he won it this time, but what about the other ninety-seven percent?".

It’s so very very close to being correct.  Indeed 97% would be spot on, if only poker was played with a 108-card deck.

Day 13: Socks the hard way

It’s out with the old…

… and in with the new.

I’m actually throwing away some casino socks for the first time ever, and I’m finding it very difficult.  I’m still not even sure if the ones shown above from MGM Grand are replaceable.  I do know that some thread-bare socks I’ve been desparately clinging on to – particularly from Orleans, Boulder Station and Hard Rock - have been missing, presumed dead, from all known gift shops for several years.  But I know they can’t all live forever, and I need to learn to let go.

If there’s one thing that Harrah’s might actually be good for, socks could just be it.  While they seem to be a dying breed everywhere else, I’ve had a pretty good haul so far from their casinos: 3 pairs from Caesars, 3 from Flamingo and 2 from Paris.  Bally’s had a couple too, but exactly the same as the ones I got earlier in the year, which are so dull I’ve hardly worn them at all.

But is pink really my colour?  Baby girl pink with white birds on?  Those Flamingo socks are something else, but they’re definitely a man’s size and they’re Vegas socks, so I just had to have them.  Whether they’ll ever get worn is something only time will tell…

EDIT: The full supporting cast, so far:


Day 12: Lovely vehicle for ducks

Here’s a top money saving tip: If you have a rental car on a package that comes with a full tank of fuel included (so you return it empty), find some reason to exchange it mid-rental you’ll get a full tank of fuel absolutely free!

Expected value: up to $50.  It’s a good one.  That same tank would need you to cycle $10,000 through a video poker machine at Terrible’s!

This wasn’t completely planned – hence why we only got about $30 gas value out of the exchange (this time!) - because whatever was causing water to leak through into the passenger seat had been getting progressively worse until it was too much to put with any longer.  After the drive to the Grand Canyon the carpet on that side of the car was soaked through, so much so that you would have to actually sit with your feet in a puddle.

So on the way back we dumped it in exchange for an identical Jeep Liberty.  Even though we’d only paid for a mid-size car to start with, we still got to keep the same type of SUV that we drove off with when there was no mid-size available last time.  Bargain.

Afterwards I played $1/$2 no-limit at the MGM Grand, hoping to find one of the "literally giving away their chips" tourist games that are apparently everywhere, all the time, where you sit down with nine players who are just waiting for the first chance to give you their money.  I lost $240.

It was only two significant hands, and I think I played them as well as I could.  I tried to keep the pot small with bottom set on a scary flushing and straighting board and I made sure that the pocket tens that beat my aces did not have the correct price to call my third raise, even with implied odds.  Generally though, the standard was high and I was stuck on a table with many young, aggressive and certainly competent players.  My table selection surely needs to improve, and it will do as I learn more about this game.

The only other no-limit live game I’ve played so far was at Binions, and was just as tough.  I was stuck between three rock-tight locals and five knowlegeable gamblers who were in town for BARGE and loudly analysed every hand that one of them played.  I did manage to get a decent profit with my nut straight from one player holding two pair, although it was lucky - I’m certain he was the only guy at the table who was going to pay me off.

So, the jury is still out on whether it’s really as easy to win in these games as someone who came for a weekend, flopped a monster, got paid and went home is likely to tell you.  More research is definitely required!

Day 11: Gettin’ my kicks takin’ pics on Route 66

Welcome to Williams, Arizona.

Gateway to the Grand Canyon, situated on historic Route 66.

A middle-of-nowhere truck stop town with classic motels…

roadside cafes…

sadly neglected neon signs…

and animatronic figures adorning the buildings.  In fact, they must have liked this puppet wild west old-timer so much, they used him twice…


Day 10: Where do you want to go today?

Actually, none of the above.  We’re off to the Grand Canyon now.  It’s in the other direction, but I just like this sign…