Wife, Poker, Gourmet and Geocaching

Reports & Blogs by assenede about Aria Casino, MGM Grand, Wynn Casino Posted

April 29 – May 8 2013

MGM, Wynn, Aria, Excalibur

Wife, Poker, Gourmet and Geocaching


The ideal weather in Vegas certainly is to be found at the end of April and the beginning of May if you plan outdoor activities. With temperatures varying between the seventies and the nineties, pool lingering and strolling/walking/hiking are a delight.

However, if you’d expect this time of year to be busy in Vegas, you couldn’t be more wrong. This being the 8th trip in 4 years, the buzz has never been this low. Vegas on the decline? Yes. Ever since my first visit in 2009, the number of people on the strip and in the casinos seems to have diminished.

No announced AVP visitors either during my 10-day visit in this time of year. On the other hand, I was accompanied by my lovely wife for some quality time together and some serious stretches of poker/shopping. I took my spouse for her second visit to Sin City. Besides enjoying the Tropicana pool close by and from our bungalow balcony, I took her to the Bellagio conservatory, the Stratosphere top of the World restaurant, the lodge on Mount Charleston, the Wynn, The Rainforest café @MGMGrand, the steakhouse @the Excalibur, the delicious buffet @ the Tropicana, but most of all, our compact little car allowed her to drive to the shopping malls around town.
She did the Miracle Mile @PH, the Forum Shops @Caesars palace, the Premium Outlet Centers both North and South and of course, the Fashion Show mall. Our suitcases were half empty flying in, but stuffed to capacity flying back out.

Since I discovered geocaching last year (for those who do not yet know this: it’s a GPS treasure hunting game that has over 5 million participants globally) , I wanted to find some caches in and around Vegas. Unfortunately, my current European Cell phone carrier had extravagant rates of 20+ dollars per Mb for data in the USA, and the special prepaid SIM card I had bought online from ReadySIM through Amazon was never delivered. I complained, of course, and was assured it would be refunded. Anyway, the lack of data coverage outside of the hotel forced me to download offline maps, reducing the options for finding more caches on the way.

We did pick up some nice caches on the way to Mt Charleston and in the vicinity of the hotel. But my wife chickened out one some of the caches that were tagged as favorite ones by other Geocachers after having read cache logs that one cache container in the wild seemed to be guarded by a large scorpion … brrr….

We did get to spot some rabbits and several deer near the caches, and can definitely recommend having lunch at the Mt Charleston lodge. There was live country music and very good food for a fraction of Strip priced meals. My wife had excellent spare ribs and I enjoyed a classic fish and chips in a relaxed atmosphere. The temperatures up on the mountain were what we are used to in Belgium, with about 60 degrees.


As I already mentioned, the poker action in every room I visited was slow, except for the Aria, which is a shark pool.

First tournament
Aria 1pm ($125). About 100 runners.

Around one hour into the tournament, Level 2 , 50/100 blinds. I have been playing somewhat loose in the first level, losing a few smaller an winning a few smaller pots. My stack about 9600 until I get dealt KsKc in late position. V (about same size stack) in early position raises to 300, one caller in MP (V2) , I bump to 1200. V calls, V2 folds. Pot 2850. Flop brings Th7s3d and V checks. I fire 1500, a half pot bet, and get called by V. V is a German tourist who has not been seen to do anything out of the ordinary, except that he has been involved in too many small pots, I as have I. Turn brings Ah, V checks, H checks behind. River 2d. Nothing much out there. No draws, so after V checking the river, I bet another 1500 for value and get called by V with … 72 for a rivered two pair ! Half of my stack gone, but no worries yet.

Last hand of level three; with my stack back up to 7000-ish, I receive two red sevens OTB. Blinds at 100/200. V (UTG) is the chip leader (around 30000 chips), who has however only played one hand, in which he tripled up with KK > AK > AQ about 45 mins earlier, busting two other players. He’s been patient ever since. V bets to 800 UTG and as the break is announced, I call after one other has called the 800.

Pot is at 2700. Flop comes down 722. Bingo ! V1 checks, V2 checks, I bet 1800, V1 raises to 3800 and I slow down a little, before I shove my last 4500 in the pot. I’m instacalled by V with aces, and I don’t even bother to look at the board anymore knowing ‘ll take this down, until I hear a shout at the table … V spiked his two outer Ace on the turn. Bang … two outered. Out with 54 players remaining. No cash. I stand up and head to the 1/3 cash game, knowing I got in in good. Coolered, but no tilt. I win back my tournament buy-in after three more hours of cash play, where I cash out 546 for a 246 profit.

Second tournament
MGM 11am ($80) Only 16 runners.

When down to 8 handed, in level 5, my stack is on the low side around 12BB. Three big stacks, two average and three small stacks. I have (open) shoved twice, picking up uncontested blinds and antes before. I shove again with AQs and get called by a middle stack with …. AJo.

Dominating, I think I’m doubling up, but the dreaded jack spikes the river and again I’m out with a three outer this time. I return to the cash games, but am unable to make a profit on an ultratight table of locals (only two tables running at the MGM) who were waiting for premium hands, and cash out $81 down.

Third tournament
Excalibur ($40) 20 runners

I go back to the casino where I always made money on my previous trips (Excalibur), to seek out the true fish and dodge the ever present locals. I spot some of them including an AVP member I had previously met (Rayman) and who I knew to be a regular there. As there was a waiting list for the cash games, I decide to hop in the Excalibur 40$ donkament as a late registrar. This fast paced 15 min level low starting stack tourney is basically a push or fold from the third level onwards. I get dealt QQ on my first hand in and get the opportunity to shove from the SB on the flop on the first hand with my starting stack of 5000 after a preflop raise to 1200 and two callers in 200-400 blinds. Both V’s called my shove and I was again delighted to see both V1 and V2 flipping over JT, on a J82 rainbow flop. I basically only have to dodge one remaining jack and two remaining tens for a triple up. But alas … the one outer jack hits the river again. Busto again. Three times I got it in a large favorite, three times I bust on two and three outers. I hate tourneys and decide to stick to cash for the remainder of the trip.

This time I do tilt, this being my third cooler in just as many tourneys, and donate another 300 in the ensuing cash games, playing way too loose and betting out too strong on single pair hands, causing me to lose too much on a lot of medium sized pots.

Cash games

Apart from two losing sessions, one at the MGM (-81) and the one I mentioned at the Excalibur after my tilt (-300), I make a decent profit on all other sessions. Using Poker Agent as an App on my android phone, I deduced that my optimal game is found in and around the 4 hour session mark and the easiest opposition is to be found at the Excalibur.

I make a total of $1064 in a week of cash game play, including the losses mentioned before. A little less than I expected, but good for a $22 an hour average at 1 / 2 and 1 / 3 games. Just about enough to cover the expenses of the 10-day trip for myself (wife not included)

About half of my profits were made thanks to actual winning hands at showdown. The other half was made thanks to excellent reads on the players in the hand, bluffing scare cards, exploiting weakness, etc. Thank you again Zachary Elwood. Your book (Reading poker tells) made me earn another $500.

Evaluation of the rooms and the action

Excalibur: still my favorite: Only a couple of tables but a constant supply of exploitable fish and tight locals. Action since my last visits constant.

Aria: the current top room in Vegas in terms of game selection and occupancy. However, too many good players for easy money. Fewer fish and more sharks. A good spot for celeb player sighting, not only in the big game, but also on the bigger stakes tables.

Wynn: Used to be one of my favorites, but I found the action to be too slow.

MGM: definitely on its way down the ladder. What once was the top room at the south end of the strip is reduced to a middle sized room. With the poker room back in its old location, the number of tables has been reduced (blackjack tables in the middle of the poker room … a profanity!!) and despite a pathway going through the poker room, action is decreasing.

Basically, Vegas is on the decline. Live poker has gone past its glory days.

IMO, the standard of play has tightened up. Whereas 2pair used to be a good betting hand, it has turned into a bluff catcher nowadays. You just don’t see a lot of players putting their stack at risk with TPTK anymore. Play has evolved…

There is still money to be made, but it now has to come from good reads and premium cards.

But that’s just my impression after ten days of Vegas.

I could be way off.

Anyone care to comment?

Last Edited:


  1. Are there actually geocaches on The Strip?

  2. @pseudoswede

    Oh yes... on and off the Strip...
    Quite easy to find if you know the Game...
    Difficulty / terrain below levels 2/2

  3. Good trip report, well done.

    As far as play evolving, it's been said that the bad players will either lose all their money or become better. Probably a little of both, but I have noticed the days of donkeys shoveling money in the pot with middle pair seem to be long gone.

    I've become the old 'Mr. Coffee' at the table. Will bluff in late postion once in a while but if I don't have the near nuts or drawing to them, I fold. Set miners have killed my bankroll and TPTK and middle two pair have been loss leaders.

  4. Man, great trip report. Seriously. A little bit of everything: Non-poker (wining, dining, shopping, hiking, geocaching), hand recaps, room reviews, and even some views on the state of the Vegas economy and poker. :grin:

    Thanks for taking the time to write it up!

  5. Great write up. Thank you for sharing.

    I wanted to play at Excal, but decided to watch some college hoops in their sports book. Also, for 40 bucks, their daily tournaments seem very enticing.

  6. Assenede-- Trip reports like yours are exactly why I love this site. Very well written & packed with good info.

    Just imagine if ONE of your three bad beats would have held up as they should have!!!!

    Hope to see more reports like this in the future from you-- Paul

  7. Thanks for posting. There has been a shortage of trip reports lately. I found yours really interesting.

  8. Thanks for the trip report. I love Mt. Charleston and have been up to the lodge there a few times. A great get away from Vegas and much cooler temps.

  9. Great TR.

    How was the steak house at Excalibur? I've heard good things.

  10. I love the lobster bisque and nice filet there.
    The steak itself is excellent, and reasonably priced

  11. Nice TR-- thanks for taking the time to post it! I'm going to have to visit Mt. Charleston some time to break things up.

    I agree with you about poker being on the decline and the quality of play going up. It's getting harder to find players willing to make many bad decisions.

  12. Good Job.
    I have made some of the same observations. I did notice that your timing was better for outdoor activities than poker. Your in the slow time before the WSOP kicks off the satellite season and people are getting ready for summer vacations.

    FWIW here's are what I consider top times. First up Superbowl weekend. Hotel rates are dirt cheap, weather bearable for you northern euro's, and lots of gamblers. Next inline is the NASCAR race in February. Lot's and lots of rednecks throwing away cash over this week. You like american southern accents? Then comes the NCAA final four weekend. This is when the bucks up black folks come to town. Can be fun and profitable, especially if you bet b-ball and play poker.

    Now there's the granddaddy of them all, the National Finals Rodeo. This is when rich ranchers and poor cowboys mixed in with guys with oil wells in their back yard come to play...Can you say Texas! If your parking space is taken up by a one-ton duel wheel pickup you'll know the NFR is in town. Cowboys will still bet middle pairs and inside straight draws to the river. If you ride bucking bulls for a living, your a gambler. Also the CES (consumer electronics show) in January can be good; especially if you like playing Asians. They have a strong presence in the electronic business and take to the tables in droves at the fancier joints like the Venetian and Wynn.

    Anyway those are a few tips I will share with you as many Europeans don't know these things and you did a good report. Welcome to the Red White and Blue.