Trip report for July 30 – August 6
South Point, Binions, Golden Nugget, Orleans, M Resort, Mirage, Excaliber
We arrived in Las Vegas from Seattle/Tacoma at 12:30 PM. My wife (wifey) and I are staying at the South Point casino for the first two nights. We both enjoy poker. She is strictly a low limit LHE player. I like to get some variation playing tournaments, some NLHE, and some Omaha8. When we are in Las Vegas we generally try to play where there is always a LHE game going so my wife can find a game.
We usually rent a car and stay off strip where the room rates are good. Wifey plays enough VP and blackjack at South Point to generate weekday room comps. So, the first day we spend getting settled and acclimated to the 106 degree outside temperature. We have a wonderful dinner at Don Vitos before sitting down to play poker. Wifey plays the 2-4 LHE game with mostly locals and I play the 1-2 NL with a $200 buy in. There are two NL games going. Both appear to be mostly locals. About 90 minutes later my wife walks away with an $80 profit looking for a blackjack table. I drop $120 in about 2 hours where I am pretty much card dead and find it hard to find any kind of rhythm. I always try to periodically evaluate the table to determine if it is likely to be profitable for me. As players come and go the feel of the table either gets better or worse. Since my game is conservative I need to have some loose and/or inexperienced players. Most everyone at the table seemed to be waiting for the same thing. This table was the ‘primary’ 1-2 NL table. The other started up later. I find that when a room has multiple games going there may be a big difference between the primary and subsequent table as far as quality of play. So, after 2 hours of very few opportunities and my reluctance to gamble on the first day I recognize that this table is not beatable. I cash out.
I’ve played in this room before where there is a lot of action and beginners. Not tonight. The good this about this room are:
- Very spacious
- Usually several games going
- PA will call you when your seat is available, so you can move around the casino
- Smoke free
- Good drink service
- Monte Carlo bonuses
- $1/hr comps with many restaurants to choose from
Question for the group: Do you find a big difference between the primary and secondary tables? Do you find the secondary tables easier?
After a casual breakfast at the South Point buffet and a late Lunch at Baja Miguels we drive to the Orleans to use some free play coupons and play poker. Since I enjoy Omaha8 and the Orleans poker room offers both Omaha and LHE this is a another good option for us. Wifey sits at the 2-4 LHE game with a bunch of locals and sit at one of the three Omaha8 4-8 table, also with mostly locals. In the past I have found the Omaha players in this room to be loose and like to gamble. There are many players that will see the river. You can flop the nuts, continue to bet it, and still have three river callers. On this day I was being dealt some very nice starting hands. Many times I would call 2 or 3 bets and was seeing very favorable flops. The pre-flop raisers would continue to bet my hand for me.
I was up about $100 after catching some cards and seeing some very loose play. Then this had occurred. I was on the button with Ad2h6d6h. The betting was capped pre-flop before it even got to me. It was a great flop for me – 6s4dJd giving me a set of 6s, the nut diamond draw, and the nut low draw. To my surprise (not really) the betting was capped before it got to me again. There were 5 of us seeing the turn. The turn was Qh. Now things changed as it was checked to me. I bet my set of 6s and my other draws. It was called by 3 others. Knowing that in Omaha the river can be nasty I was hoping that either the board would pair or that one of my draws would hit. The river was golden, 6 of clubs giving me quads. One person to my right bet out. I raised. Everyone folded. I didn’t show my cards. An hour later I left up $190. Wifey was also very happy being up $80. She usually hates this room because she can’t win. This time she was good. We thought that it would make sense to move on before rush hour.
As many people have reported this room is very plain, but always seems to have a lot of activity.
Compared to other rooms this one is below average on style and comfort.
Question for the group: Do you give much thought about when to leave a table? Do you wait until the luck turns bad? Caliber of competition? Something else?
On the way back to the South Point we decide to take a quick trip to the M Resort. We stayed here for a couple of days during our last trip in April. During that stay the poker room never had a live game going. Only tournaments. We thought that we would see if anything had changed since then. Wifey likes the Studio B buffet at the M. She also has had some good luck in the poker with some of their promos. Well she was lucky again. With the Dodger game on the screen they had a promo where every time the Dodgers scored a run they would randomly award $25 to a player plus splash the next pot with $25. Not a big deal. But, Wifey won two of the $25 bonuses plus a free buffet. On one of the splash pot hands I was dealt QJ off suit. The flop was 8,9,10. Nice little bonus. This 2-4 LHE game was made up of mostly locals and one older guy tried to do a lot of pot stealing. The table had him figured out pretty quickly and he had to rebuy three times. One of the locals gave me his free buffet coupon, so after a couple hours of play we had a nice dinner (with wine) at Studio B. If Wifey is happy, then I am happy.
Little did we know that the M poker room would close the next morning. This is really too bad because this room was clean, smoke free, and good to the low end player. Good luck to the Penn National folks with this casino because I probably won’t be back except maybe to use my points to buy some donuts from Baby Cakes.
We drove the 5 minutes back to South Point. Wifey is off to play blackjack and I buy in for $200 at the 1-2 NL game. This time there is a more positive feeling as I detect a couple of aggressive players to my right and left a couple of inexperienced players. After turning a straight and winning a nice pot my confidence improved. I was in middle position with KK. One of the aggressive guys in early position raised to $7. I popped it up to $21. Another player (drinking heavily) in late position went all in for $110. It was folder to me. I called. My kings held up over his pocket jacks. After a couple of other inexperienced players lost the rest of the buy-ins I got and left with a $140 profit.
Played some video poker before calling it a night and hit for 2 deuces on a quarter machine worth $250. After a slow start on Day 1, our second day was a good one.
Question for the group: Do you keep an eye on what and how much the other players are drinking?
Thursday, Aug 1
Up for breakfast at the SP buffet.
I played some of the low limit table games including Pai Gow, blackjack, and craps. Wifey and I also played in a free ‘senior’ slot tournament that’s held at South Point on Thursdays. Last time we played in this mindless process I won $100. This time we didn’t cash. How can it be so easy to win $100 when sometimes I can work so hard to lose $200 in poker?
We checked out of South Point and drove to our next destination, the Golden Nugget. This hotel has been a favorite of ours since the Steve Wynn days. I remember one time trying to seated at the Carson Street Café at the Nugget. Spotting an open table we tried to seat ourselves down. We were told ‘no way’, that is Mr Wynn’s table, reserved for him 24 hours a day.
Our room is in the newer non-smoking Rush Tower. Wifey says that the beds are ‘to die for’. It’s also very quiet in these rooms away from the Fremont Street madness.
We both like this poker room. They offer both 2-4 LHE and 1-2 NL and there are games running running around the clock. They offer a Monte Carlo board which has been very lucky for us I the past. In addition, they will pay double payouts if you play and win with quads or better between 2:00 AM and 2:00 PM. We find that there are 10-20 regulars that play here during these early times. We always see ‘Check in Dark’ Frank and One-Tshirt Bill. They will try to get a $30 buy-in last all day.
We sat down to play the 2-4 LHE for a couple of hours. These games are pretty soft, but there is always someone who tries and sometimes catches their gutshot draw on the river making their 9-7 offsuit the nuts. We both leave up a few dollars, but neither of us came closing to any jackpot hand. We head over to get a wood-fired pizza and soup at the Grotto. Not bad Italian food. Does anyone remember Stefano’s restaurant with the singing waiters? Now that was good.
We walked east down Fremont Street to the El Cortez. They have a poker room with two tables running some sort of spread game. They say that Jackie Gaughan still plays there sometimes. Not on this day. This place has the best Blackjack rules around offering single and double deck games with 3for2 blackjacks, splitting, and double-downs, but it always seems to kick our butts. Both poker tables are playing short but we decide not to play.
On the way back to the Nugget we stop for dinner at the Mediterranean Café. It’s on Fremont under the canopy just west of the new Denny’s. Wifey and I can split a chicken kabob with rice and pita and still not finish it all.
I sit down at one of the several 1-2 NL games at the Nugget. Wifey is off to give the Nugget a blackjack lesson. My $200 buyin lasts for about 90 minutes. I’m zigging when I should be zagging. I try to limp to see a cheap flop but it is followed by a good raise. I attempt to bluff opponents who are holding the nuts. Not a good session. Time to move on.
Friday, August 2nd
Golden Nugget buffet for 2. This buffet is not worth paying for. Options are minimal and food is very plain. Even for breakfast.
I decide to play the Binions morning $60 tournament. Being August they have a very small turnout. There is only enough for one table. The table consists of 3 locals, a man from Germany, myself, and 4 other tourists. At the beginning there is one tourist who is limping and overplaying everything. Unfortunately, a local with the most poker savvy is directly to my left. I am able stay about even for a few rounds by raising in position. In one hand against the aggressive tourist I flop a straight with KQ offsuit. I call his preflop raise. I let him bet the flop. But, he shuts down on the turn and folds to my small bet. We lose 4 players over the next 30 minutes, but I am not able to chip up. I end up going all in with AQ a couple of times. The first one is not called. The second one is called by the big blind with AK and I am done. This will be my one and only tournament of the trip.
On the way back to the Nugget I stop at the Four Queens to use a $10 free play coupon. I was able to recoup $7 of the $60 tourney buy in. But it will get better before the afternoon is over. I join my wife who is playing the 2-4 LHE table at the Nugget poker room where they have 2-times Monte Carlo bonuses going until 2:00 PM. The table is full of people who either don’t know it’s their turn or they can’t see the cards. This kind of game is slow but not stressful.
When Wifey and I play at the same table she gets a little annoyed. She would prefer to play at a separate table. But, she is really a much more creative player than I, often stealing pots and representing made hands. Sometimes with limit poker this is hard to do because at some tables you will always get a caller or two. But, she has some tells and I am the only one paying attention to them. But, whenever she attempts one of these steals I get out of her way.
With Wifey on the opposite end of the table and 30 minutes left before the double jackpot ends I am dealt AsAc. When the action comes to me I raise to $4. As is typical at a low limit game, I am called by four others including Wifey. The flop is all diamonds 4,7,J. One person leads out. I raise, and Wifey calls. The original better and two others call. The turn is Ah. It is checked to me. I bet $4. Everyone folds but Wifey. Now I know that I am in trouble. No matter what hits the river for the sake of my marriage I must check. The river is Ad giving my quad aces. Wifey turns over 5d6d giving her a flush and open an ended straight flush draw. The Monte Carlo jackpot for quad aces was 256*2 for $512. I end up giving my wife half since her call allowed me to see the river. If Wifey is happy, then I am happy.
After a nice toke for the dealer we left this game shortly after to get lunch at the Main Street Station’s Triple 7 brew pub. Once again we can split a burger or fish and chips and still not finish it all. We have to eat light anyway because we have dinner reservations at Hugo’s at the Four Queens.
Hugo’s is an old school restaurant where the waiters dress in jackets, they have a wine steward to offer advice, and they give each lady a red rose. I have the rack of lamb and Wifey has raspberry chicken. After a wonderful dinner we play some blackjack and poker before calling it a night. I play 1-2 NL at the Nugget and again find myself card challenged losing and on the losing end of some showdowns. I leave the table down about $120. Wifey is again kicking butt at blackjack. I’m sure that she is still happy.
We start our day with a little adventure. We heard of a little downtown café (called EAT) that offers authentic beignets. It is located a on Carson a little south of the El Cortez. So, we take the walk in the morning heat. Breakfast is a good home style meal. It’s Saturday afternoon on Fremont street and it is already getting busy and crazy. We decide to play some more poker at the Golden Nugget during their 2 times promotion. It’s the same crowd as previous days. No jackpot today, but I do manage a $55 profit over 2 hours. Wifey also pull off a small profit. After a little down time we decide to drive over to the Palace station for Mexican food. We came here several years ago and had good meal. Not so much this time. Service was slow and the food was below par. On the way out Wifey played some goofy dragon machine and won a small jackpot. Back to the Golden Nugget for some Saturday night poker action. This room gets some crazies on the weekend, who are will to try the game.
This session was the most trying and stressful all poker sessions during the eight day visit. This 1-2 NL has one beer drinking 45-year old who appears to have no fear of losing his stack, even multiple times. The remaining players are ultra tight with starting hands, but more than happen to limp in. In fact, there were several times we had 7 players limp in to see a flop. So, the first time I see pocket aces I raise on the button to $7 with 2 limpers and the blinds. There are four to see the flop. The flop is 38J offsuit. It is checked to me. I bet $21. The big blind (young female who has been playing tight) check raises to $45. It’s folded to me. I can tell by her reaction that she likes her play. She has another $80, but I fold my aces. She tells one of the other players that she had a set of 8s.
The beer drinking player is getting very lucky catching cards and taking out players by out flopping better hands. So, he his stack is up to $400. Mine about $150. Forty minutes later I pick up pocket Aces in early position. I raise to $14 in order to prevent limpers from catching up. I get four callers. The flop is not a good one. It is 7, 8, 9 with two spades. I lead with a bet of $35. The beer drinker goes all in and is called before it gets back to me. I fold to see a flush draw and the nut straight. The beer drinker hits his flush and pulls down a nice pot. I am able to build my stack back up to about $160 on a couple of small pots when this hand occurred. There was a young player in middle position who had not raised one time in the last 2 hours. I am on the button with pocket kings. The beer drinker limps in early position. The young lad raises to 8 dollars. I reraise to 25. The beer drinker calls. The young lad reraises to $60. Before I can act the beer drinker has already pushed all of his chips in. I know many of you may question my play, but I look a the young guy and he is not nervous at all. Knowing that the beer drinker has already created an all-in situation I decide to fold my kings. Both player turn over there cards. The young lad has pocket aces. The beer drinker has As8s. I’m pissed at the beer drinker for playing out of turn, but I’m glad that my read was right. The flop is all spades. The turn is a 10, the river a king. The beer drinker wins another big pot. By this time I’m thinking that poker is not any fun. I make a comment to the winner that it was pretty rude to play out of turn especially with such a weak hand. But, I wish I hadn’t said anything. He tells me that he is just here to have fun and doesn’t care about the money. My goal now is to get some of it back from this guy, because everyone at the table knows that he will eventually dump his entire stack.
I watch the beer drinker. He continues to seek out action. I’m down to less than $80. I’m on the button with As9S. The beer drinker is in early position and raises to 15. Everyone else folds to me. I call. The flop comes A93. He checks. I check. The flop is a 10. He bets 30. I go ahead push the remaining $65 in. He calls showing QQ. This is my biggest small pot of the night. I stay long enough to watch the beer drinker lose the rest of his stack. I leave down only $100 which feels like a victory considering some of the hands that I lost with. I feel like my competitive juices got the better of me during this session. I’m on vacation and should be enjoying myself more.
During this time Wifey has been playing at one of the 2-4 LHE tables. She hit quad 6s for a small jackpot of $50. If she’s happy I’m happy, too.
Today we check out of the Golden Nugget to spend the last two nights on the strip at the Cosmopolitan. Wifey really like the Wicket Spoon buffet and has always wanted to stay here. Their web site lists rooms starting at about $180, but I was able to get casino rates for two nights at $105. The rooms are very nice. Ours had a balcony overlooking the Aria and south strip. But, the kitchen extra closet space go unused. First stop is brunch at Wicket Spoon. The line is painfully long, but the extra hour wait is probably saving us money. We have been here 3 or 4 times before. This time was our worst experience. The food was not up to par, but the waiter did not charge us for the champagne service, so we save about $20.
After the big meal we decide to go for a walk-about down the strip to the Mirage. The temperatures are still above 100 so we stopped at the Bellagio for a while. We go to the Mirage poker room about 5:00. I love the Mirage poker room. I have done pretty well with both limit and no-limit sessions in this room in the past. We both were seated immediately. Wifey is playing the 3-6 LHE and I am playing a short 1-2 NL table. I really do not like to play at a short table. There were 6 of us and it was clear that they were all more experienced and more aggressive than me. So, I started out playing very tight and following the action hoping the table would fill up. The guy to my right was raising almost every hand. The guy to my left would often reraise. I played one hand in the first 30 minutes. I raised with pocket aces and got one caller. The caller folded to my continuation bet. This hand was followed by many folds. To break the routine I decided to raise preflop with Kd4d. I got 3 callers (crap!) including the small blind and the big blind. The flop gave me some help. It was 4sQd2d. The small blind bet out with $15. The big blind called. Both of these plays kind of surprised me. Rather than raising I just called (with bottom pair and a flush draw). The turn brought the 4h. The small blind bet 30. Both of us called. The river brought a 10s. The betting was checked to me. I bet $40. The small blind folded. The big blind gave me a long look and called showing a pair of eights. I turned over my Kd4d and they were shocked since I hadn’t played anything in the first 45 minutes. Thank you.
After another 30 minutes of mostly trying to stay out of the war zone the table breaks and I get moved to another table. Wow, what a difference in quality and style. The new table is full, the stacks are smaller, and the players are more passive. I am in seat one. There is a young man playing loosely in seat 6. There is an off duty dealer in seat 10. He is wearing a long sleeve shirt over the top of his Mirage dealer shirt. This is no big deal. He is playing very tight and wins a big pot from the young lad in seat 6 by hitting quad 5s. He gets an extra $100 from the house for his quads. Twenty minutes later he takes the same guy down with quad kings and another $100 from the house. There was a point in the hand after the turn where the off-duty dealer went all in (with a set of kings) and the young lad was trying to decide whether to call. The lad started to move his chips forward, but not over the line but stopped. The dealer announces “all-in and a call”. It appeared that this was premature since the player did not announce a ‘call’ or did his chips cross the line. But, he did not object, so I guess it was his intention to call. The river brought another king, and the off-duty dealer’s quads crushed the other players flush draw.
I was involved in a couple of favorable hands. In this hand an older gentleman in seat 4 raises to $12 (with pocket 8s). Two others call. I am on the button with Jc10s and call as well. The flop is a good one, 7c8c9d. This gives him a set of 8s but I have the nut straight and a flush draw. He likes the flop and bets $30 eliminating the other callers. I just call. The turn is a blank. He bets $60. With him betting the turn I’m putting him on an over pair, so I just call. The river is the 3 of clubs putting 3 clubs on the board. He quickly checks to me. I don’t think that he was drawing for clubs or that he would check a made flush, so I put a small river bet of $45. He immediately calls and shows his set of eights. My jack high straight wins a nice pot.
I also caught a set of 4s in a hand where the young preflop raiser’s AK looked good to him when the flop came A,9,4. I reraised on the turn when a 6 came and he folded showing the AK. I never know how to play a set when the board is not too dangerous. In this last hand it is possible that he had pocket aces, but not likely. I feel like I should have gotten more from him than his flop and turn bets. I could have called the turn and hoped that he continued to bet on the river. I’ve got a lot to learn.
With my wife still ahead at the 3/6 LHE game and me up $350 we decide to secure a winning session and call it a night. We head back to the Cosmo.
My wife has earned some free meals, etc using MyVegas.com which is an MGM Mirage sight. She earned us two free buffets and the Bellagio buffet. So, we go on Monday for an early lunch. This our first visit to this buffet. We thought that is was very good. While at the Bellagio we check out the conservatory. It has a nice summer exhibit with a display of live exotic birds (small and colorful). We take the tram to the Mandalay bay for another freebee (Minus 5) where you put on fur suits and go into an area that 5 degrees below zero. They pour you 2 drinks made of ice. It was a totally bizarre experience and a nice buzz for early in the afternoon.
I blame the buzz being responsible for why we stopped at the ExCal poker room on the way back up the strip. They have one game going, a 2-6 spread limit game. My wife doesn’t want to play and I should have listened to her. I lost most of my $100 by in to a young aggressive player. He was doing a lot of raising at this table of mostly older folks. I’m thinking about leaving when I pick up pocket queens. The hand is already raised by time it gets to me. I am in position so I decide to just call the 8 dollars. Everyone else has folded. The flop is 873 with 2 spades. He bets the max $6. I raise. He reraises. I reraise and he caps it at $24. He is representing a large pair but based on his previous play I am not yet believing. The turn is a 10 of spades putting 3 spades on the board. He bets $6 right away. I raise. He reraises. For the first time I’m thinking that I might be behind, so I just call. The river is a 5 of spades. Now there are four spades on the board. I hold the queen of spades. He bets $6 and I make a reluctant call. He turns over AsJc for the win. Sometimes I hate this game. I quickly grab the rest of chips and leave. We spend the rest of the day away from the poker table, mostly playing some of the new slot machines with wifey.
We have enjoyed the room at the Cosmo, but probably won’t stay here again. We don’t fit in with the young and high rollers that seen to be common here. My wife has also earned a free breakfast for two at the Aria. This is also a nice buffet. Lots of good fresh food and many different options. But, the best part is that it was free and included a line pass. Good job, Wifey. Now to the airport and back to Tacoma.