Last week was my annual 48-hour guys trip to Vegas. Usually it happens in the summer, but this year it was postponed due to some scheduling conflicts. There were two of us staying in a comped room at Paris with another buddy down the street at MGM Grand. As always, there was little in the way of actual plans, leaving the schedule open to gamble and drink as much as possible.
Day 1: One long losing blackjack session
I landed at 11am on Wednesday, took Uber to Paris. As a sidebar Uber is absolutely the way to go from the airport to the Strip, $14, easy access from the parking deck and no worries about long-hauls. I’ve found that cab rides from the airport to the Strip are about $20 and the ride back to the airport is less than $15. I had a noon call for work which took about 15 minutes then headed straight to my favorite table on the strip.
I walked through the indoor street connecting Paris to Bally’s and found ‘my’ table open. The table I always look for is the $50 6-deck shoe in the high-limit area at Bally’s. I know most of the dealers and pit bosses, I can almost always play by myself, and it is a pretty good atmosphere. I sat down around 12:30, bought in, and promptly got a blackjack. Unfortunately, that was the only good part of the first shoe, the rest was a downward slog. 2nd shoe, first hand blackjack again and another losing shoe, ugh. 3rd shoe, dealer starts with blackjack and you guessed it, I won a bit. So I was now settled in, the drink girl knew to bring me a Bud Light when mine was almost gone and it was time to grind away. I played shoe after shoe and then yada, yada, yada it was after 9pm and I realized hadn’t eaten anything since pretzels on the plane.
I walked to Burger Brasserie next door for a solid burger (way overpriced, but it’s Vegas and I had a $30 food credit) and got a text that my buddy had just landed. At this point it is 10:30 PT, I’d been up since 6am ET, drinking beer since noon, and it was time to lurch back to my room to pass out. Overall a fun day, but playing for so long at the same table is never a great strategy and not surprisingly I ended the day down over 25 yards – that makes for some expensive ‘free’ Bud Lights.
Day Two – Don’t call it a comeback
After the losses on day 1 I woke up early and decided to walk the strip before my buddies got out of bed and get off to a positive start to the day. Coming from the east coast I never sleep past 7am in Vegas so I was up and out the door at 6:30. Walking the strip early morning is always an interesting experience with a combination of degenerate gamblers continuing their streaks of good or bad luck, club kids coming home in full party gear, golfer guys grabbing coffee, hookers looking for a last trick, convention attendees hurrying to breakfast, exercise buffs crushing a few miles, and the homeless randomly strewn across the sidewalks. It makes you feel awesome and awful for yourself and for people in general at the exact same time.
After my slow walk down to Venetian and back I got my buddy and headed to Earl of Sandwich at Planet Hollywood for a quick breakfast and to get the comeback started. After a quick bite I jumped into the $100 table at Planet Hollywood which continued my losing ways with another 10 yard loss, oof. I also played $100 worth of team slots with Chris from Faces N Aces who was not in Vegas but playing virtually – that was a total bust – playing $1 WOF machine at $5 per spin and it was gone within 5 minutes and only one positive win in the whole play. My buddy went back to the room to rest for a bit so I walked with him back Paris and stopped by the $100 table at the high-limit room. This session was bumpy as well with a slight win streak followed by some uneven results that finally trended down until my buddy came to grab me for lunch down another 5 yards, grr.
Lunch was another good, but over-priced, burger at Gordon Ramsey’s BRGR at Planet Hollywood which I paid for with points so I couldn’t complain too much. At lunch our third friend joined us and we discussed the $80 daily poker tournament at PH. We decided to all play and split any winnings equally between us. The three of us bought in and were assigned to separate tables as part of the 50 person field. These small tournaments typically start slow and this was no exception, I played conservative and hovered near even for the first few rounds until we got to break. Both of my friends were doing better, one was up about 50% and the other was the chip leader after a double knock out. After the break my table started to loosen up and I made a small run while my buddies were treading water. A few minutes later one of my guys busted so now we’re down to 2 chances to earn our money back. Right before the 2nd break I was hurt by a tough river card leaving me towards the bottom while buddy #2 busted out on a semi-bad beat. Now the team hopes are down to me and I’m about 16th out of the 20 players left at the final 2 tables. My strategy was to wait until I had a huge hand, go all-in, hope for the best and repeat until I got back into better shape. Fortunately people were now playing very loose and 3 of our 10 players were gone in just a few rotations. I picked off a couple of blinds going all in with no callers and then shoved with Queen-9 of diamonds and was called by a guy with similar stack size and a pair of 3’s – terrible call on his part I thought. Flop was Queen, 9, blank, then river was another Queen to give me a boat. Now I’m back in the game. With a decent stack and players donking off chips as we got close to the final table I made a nice move to get back to a respectable position of 6th out of the final 10. So you’re saying there’s a chance. Once the final table started the dude in 8th immediately started pushing for a chop. A couple of people were going to go along, but me and the guy with huge chip lead said no. 2 more busted and guy pushes for chop again, but the two of us say no again. Next hand I bust out guy right behind me and now I’m 4th out of 7 and choppy keeps going so I said ‘NO, we’re here to play poker…worry about your cards not the chop.’ Chip leader and dealer agree with me and shortly after I bust out #7 to get to 3rd of final 6. We all put in $20 to pay off whoever lost next which was the bubble. Now we’re down to 5 and I’m basically in a tie for 2nd, way behind the chip leader who had the rest of us all covered by far. We get down to final 3 with chip leader at 4x me and other guy who were tied. I offer chop to other guy for 2nd and he declines then immediately goes all in with Queen Jack and I call with King Queen and now I’m heads-up at about 1/3 of chip leader. I get cards and play well heads up to get us nearly even. I then pick up a flush vs his straight and cripple him. Couple hands later and he’s all in with King 10 spades and I call with King Queen. Queen comes on the flop and only one spade, fade the next streets and I just won $1400. Split 3 ways after the $80 buy-in and I’m up ~$400 in poker after getting crushed in blackjack, go figure.
Back to my games
I was hoping to parlay my poker luck into blackjack winning so I went back to the PH HLR and proceeded to play for several hours while my buddies wasted their winnings playing the big wheel. After an hour my buddy comes in to tell me he is going to get the big wheel girl to hang out with us tonight – riiight. The only hand of note in this session was pretty fun – a $150 bet saw me get 77 vs dealer 5 – split, then a 7 so now I’m working 3 hands. 4 lands, double (face down), next 7 gets a 10. 3rd 7 gets a 3, double (face down) – Total hand is now 5x$150. Dealer turns over a 2 for a 7 – crap – next card is an 8 and….10 for the bust! That was a solid win, but overall session wasn’t great so after another hour I’m ready to roll and he proclaims he got the digits, but she can’t hang out tonight because she has to take her dog to the vet after her shift (which ends at 9pm) – okay, whatever makes you feel good. I lost a few bucks, but nothing terrible at blackjack and now we’re headed to play some team roulette.
We each pitched in $100 for roulette, got $5 chips, picked a few numbers and played a few of the outside bets. Team roulette can end in 5 spins or be a lot of fun. In this case we were drunk enough and we hit a number (that I picked) the 2nd spin. Now we’re up and 2 spins later we hit another number (friends pick, #34) so we’re rolling and sure enough #34 hit twice in a row. Now we’re way up, take our 100% profit off the table and keep playing the rest of the money with no further hits until it runs out.
It’s 9pm and dinner time at BLT Steak at Bally’s. Great steak dinner, used a $100 comp towards the bill so free for me and my buddies were happy to get a discount. After dinner the guys headed back out to PH to watch girls spin wheels and I decided to call it a night.
Of course, when I say call it a night that means stopping by the Paris HLR before bed – my bankroll was hurting and this was a high-risk move before I got on the plane early in the morning. I bought in and started off with a decent shoe and then had a great shoe to more than double my buy-in. At that time another guy came into the room so I decided to cash out. Now that I was on a roll I wanted to keep playing and headed to Bally’s HLR. Bally’s was another good run and generated more than a triple-up on my buy-in, but at 1:30am I had to quit and cash in so I couldn’t push my winnings even higher. With these last-ditch efforts I was back to nearly even for the 48 hours and called it a night at 2am to get up at 6am for my flight home.
At the airport I played Wheel of Fortune slots and ended up doubling my $40 before takeoff.
Another fun, although not ultimately profitable, 48 hour guys trip to Vegas in the books. Maybe I’ll follow this week’s results up by becoming a poker player first and a blackjack player second – yeah right – blackjack is where my heart is even if it is hurting my bankroll in recent trips. As Arnold would say…I’ll be back!