OK, So I’ve been wanting to do some course reviews for ages and seem to have the writing bug again so why not. Lets also get one thing straight, I’m not a pro by any stretch. Anything below 110 makes me happy, although with practice I need to be sub 100 80% of the time and as football is starting to take a back seat I need to push on with the sticks and balls.
My latest round was at Bali Hai in Vegas, just off the back of the Mandalay Bay near the Fabulous Las Vegas sign (visible through the trees on the back 9) . Not a usual venue for me but I had an invite from @Onechiquita and @VegasDWP while I was on vacation so time to step up my game. Unfortunately DWP couldn’t make it in the end due to back issues, so myself and Alysia soldiered on.
Prior to the game, we hit the driving range and although very short and netted , there was a pyramid of Callaway balls freely available in each bay to smash down the track, which is a nice touch.
At 7000 yrds its a long one, and I imagine in the heat a killer as it is all open with no shade. Stuffed in between Las Vegas Boulevard and the I15, you would think it’s pretty noisy but I found it very relaxing even with the planes from McCarran passing over regularly. Buggies are essential.
The 1st hole has a long gravel trap to the left for about 200 yrds and I found it easily with my tee shot. Not a great start.
Being in the desert, sand was plentiful, and I found many bunkers, but with a South Pacific theme to the course, I suppose more sand than usual is standard. But with the sand came water and there was plenty of that as well, as I discovered on the back 9 with 2 visits to the pond in front of the green.
The course itself despite being man made has a good undulation and sometime you are firing off into the unknown. It has the feel of a wider links course in places, but without the killer rough.
The clubs supplied were Callaway XR’s which didn’t feel too different to my Callaway Big Berthas. But the hybrids were fantastic and may be a future purchase.
Overall worth the $160 including club hire and buggy. We did try to scam local rates for me but that didn’t quite pan out due to their very on the ball identification policies !
16pts Stableford and 117 says i didn’t play well. With the exception of a few holes I thought I played OK. The course is huge. 3 of the 5 par 3’s are near 200 or over. The others are over water and round other hazards. There are a few +450 yrd par 4’s as well. So all in all I got what my golf deserved.
I’ll give the course 5/5 for location, and 3/5 for the actual course. Its a bit long in places and suits the better player.
I have just returned from my latest trip. Rather than do the usual full blown trip report, saying I went here and won this on craps and blew this on blackjack, I thought I would concentrate more on the poker side of things. So if you are looking for restaurant reviews and pictures of the conservatory in the Bellagio then you are on the wrong place, please feel free to move on. That said breakfast in RiRa at Mandalay Bay was stunning if you enjoy a fry up.
For the record, the week was more or less even, with some decent wins and unfortunately losses. Add in my free rooms and bundles of resort credit and it was an easy week in all reality.
So there were 3 tournaments, and 2 cash sessions.
First cash session was in the Excalibur. It ended up $22, after a couple of hours, so nothing that exciting but there were 2 hands of note.
One was with a guy who wanted to be the table bully. There was 3 spades on the flop (which had been seen by 4 players – 7 dollars in the pot) and I had top pair no spades. He leads out for 5 dollars (?) 2 folds and i call. Another spade on the turn, He puts out another 5. Now he has the flush obviously but I now have 2 pair, which could be interesting if the board pairs on the river. So I call.
The river comes a blank, he puts out another 5. I think about re raising but then decline the offer and fold. He loses it. He asks me very loudly if I would have called if he went all in. I just laugh. This really upsets him, and he asks again with a more raised voice. I tell him that if he hadn’t noticed there were 4 spades on the board and he must be f****ng mad. This seems to to really annoy him, and he huffed and puffed and went on tilt. I took the next hand off of him down the river for about 24 and he was still banging on about the previous hand. Obviously had the ace of spades. But the reaction was just great. He then started spewing chips to everyone (except me, boo), and left promptly. Bye.
Next up was red jacket guy. Some Vegas regulars may have had the pleasure previously. Personally I never had. RJG was a regular, as evidenced by getting a hello from 3 dealers. He was nearly 70 and had a bald head and this bright red suit jacket with matching shoes. He came to the table with pockets full of chips, over the 300 max buy in , but they let him pop them all on the table. Maybe he had been playing earlier, I don’t know, but what I do know was he had been drinking, and drinking hard, and was on my immediate right. Good news, except for the whisky breath.
It was very evident that he was playing every hand. Calling every pre flop raise and wanting to lead each street. Consequently he won a few pots by scaring people off. I’ll be honest i thought he was a bad player and there could be some fun afoot. He also seemed to have a pattern of play I wanted to exploit. I was about 60 down at this point. I had A4 os.
Pre flop there are 3 of us in. Flop is 4 9 2. RJG goes in for 10, other guy folds. I call. Turn is a J. 20 in from RJK I call. River is another 2. He goes in for 50. I call with effectively with bottom pair as anyone with a 2 has a set. He sees my pair of 4’s and mucks. The table just looks at me like I’m mad. Now to be fair this is not a line I would usually take. But what I had noticed was , if he had nothing he would always lead out. If he had a hand he would check and check raise any action. It was an experiment that paid off. No more no less, but I was up. Was it bad play by me? Maybe, but sometimes gut feel is worth following. It all went a little quiet after that and I left.
The next day I played a cash game at the aria. 1-3 buyin 300. I left this session about 50 down but it was quiet as hell but not without a story or 2. There was a guy in who had just moved to Vegas but apparently had never lived in any one place for more than 3 years and I would pitch at 50 +. So you would think plenty of street smarts and awareness….. He seemed a little jumpy and mentioned a couple of times, he had had a bit of day. No one took him up on the lead. Eventually he couldn’t help himself despite no one asking. And then this story. That morning he had parked at the Aria and was walking towards the casino when 2 girls stopped him and asked him if he wanted a drink. So he took them up on the offer (really ?). When they got to the bar they ask him to pay (and he stayed, remember they asked him?). I don’t know how the next bit went down but he ended up back at his car, with them, and they robbed him of his phone and wallet and roll. Shocker. Anyway he managed to alert someone and next thing there are sheriffs ( I imagine actually metro) and Aria security. He got his gear back, and was held for questioning for a bit, but I actually think he thought he was unlucky. This broke out the conversation into several people telling similar stories about friends and one guy about himself (not guilty personally – but I do remember an Aussie getting fully fleeced in his room after being roofied for the lot, passport, cash, everything, one new year). This guy was still convinced it wasn’t that type of thing and he was just unlucky. However his poker “skills” were balancing out his thickness as he was taking down pots left and right with top pair, and made about 800. I was also told by another reg the $500 max buyin 1-3 at the new Wynn room is good, but never made it down there.
Tournament 1 was the 10:30 at the Luxor. We had about 22 entries and top spot was $379. I was pretty quiet until a late entrant turned up. She was local and on staycation with her husband. First hand she laughed at me for taking down a pot with 8 8 in my hand on a board containing J,Q and K. Sort of understandable but she did flog it a bit. Anyway next hand i look down at 8 8. Lol. Flop comes A 10 8. double LOL. Me and her in the pot, she goes in large. I call. Turn is the case 8. LOLLLLLSSSS. She goes in again large, I call. River is 10. Quads against quads will be a pain, but unlikely. she goes all in . If the 10 was in the flop i might have folded (like hell I would). So I ask her if 8 8 is still funny, and I slow roll the cards. She flips out a little, the table have a laugh and the next hand I take her remaining 300 chips (7.5 starting stack). I get to the final table with about the 3rd highest stack , but there is a young middle eastern lad with a bundle of chips. way out in the lead. He had been on my starting table and was over betting and getting there a lot. But he seemed to calm down against me. Anyway early on we got in to hand where I took him to the river with AK, on a board of A, 10, 6, 7, 2. I ended up all in for about 18k. He tanked for ever and asked me if I had the A. I told him I had whatever he thought I had, or maybe not. I also pointed out he had the chips so surely he must be a better player than me. I was trying to induce the call, but fair play to him eventually he laid down. I was chip leader. Touch.
He then went on tilt and a funny thing happened. He was down to his last 2k and got into a hand with a loud know it all local. He was all in in the small blind, and the big blind raised to 10. The other limper got out of the pot, so there was 10k in the pot. The cards were put out and the young guy won. The dealer pushed all the chips and mucked the cards. He pushed to the know it all. The young guy made a fuss rightly and everyone agreed the other guy won, so the dealer make the know it all give 6k to the young guy. He went out a few hands later. Then know it all, waited until he left and called him a dick and all sorts and said he only handed the chips over to keep the peace. I took this up and told him if anyone is being a dick sir its only one person. As you can imagine this went down well. Anyway 2 hands later matey was out as my flush took his top pair down, despite him being all in and telling me I had a flush. You’d think that if you were a know it all and knew all the hands in play, you would play better. Obviously not and we are down to 2. I offered the chip and the other guy wanted to play, so play we did. 3 hands later its my AK against 10 10 and I win. Job done and $379 – 20 tip.
Being a reigning champion of a tournament has responsibilities (lol) so I played the same one the next day. This was a struggle to get going and we needed a shill from the room, but soon we had 15 entries including lates and a top spot of 279. This game was easier for me and I managed to chip along quite nicely. 3 of the late entries were 3 russians, 2 girls and one guy. I had two of them to my immediate left and one to my right. The girl on the right was the only one who spoke good english. This was a bit of problem as they spoke across me several time in Russian. I did gently suggest this was against the rules. Anyway nothing was done but the girl to my left went out. They carried on chatting and then the dealer pulled them up, by now i was past caring as they were not colluding from what I saw and there was only the 3 of us left. The girl had about a blind in chips and lost it to her fella and then there was 2. I asked if he wanted to chop as we were about even. As he had no idea what I was asking i had to ask the girl back to translate. He wanted to play. This was a bit of a pain as we had lots of chips each and if we just go back and forth it could take forever. The 1pm had started and this isn’t great for the room. The dealer on the other tournament caught my eye and gave me a double thumbs up after she saw matey wanted to play on. Anyway, I like heads up and any paint pre flop is an instant raise and he didn’t play back and soon I had 3/4 of the chips in play. Blinds are 2k/4k. He then shoved when I had the “dreaded KK” and we have a 2 time back to back champion !!! It even came with a “well played Ben” from the dealer at the other table! So another 279 – 20 for tips and we move on.
I wanted to parlay this win into something, so i noticed The Bellagio had a 2pm $200 tournie, so i hopped a cab up there and tried to buy in. There were four of us at the desk and couple in seats. There was 5 mins to go and a TD (I assume) came out and said it tournament was to be cancelled. Having just left one that needed a shill and then got more than enough to cover themselves, I was bloody annoyed. not to mention dow a cab fare. Also knowing how lazy most local players are there would have definitely been some late shows. Also I’m sure some in the room would have joined in seeing it being pretty low in numbers. Anyway that was that, whether i agree or not. I will say that no wanted wanted to discuss it, and the customer service was completely the opposite of what I had experienced in the Luxor earlier that day.
On a separate note, i was there earlier in the week and they made me wait 15 minutes to get into a 1-3 game to set up a 2-5 so I left. Don’t think I’ll be back soon.
I got some lunch and reconsulted the schedules. There was a $65 happening at 3 in Harrahs. I made my way across the road a got in. To be fair i wasn’t really feeling it. There were locals who didn’t make you too welcome. I was stuck in the corner against a wall with a TV right over my head and had a girl next door to me who in the first hour went through 4 coffees and 4 waters and was constantly getting up to go to the loo. Because of my position I had to keep moving about. So once i took the opportunity to do the same and by the time I came back she had shoved a drinks stand between our seats as well, giving me even less space. I was happy to get out pre the first break with no hand at all trying to run a bluff if i’m honest.
So that’s the poker info from the last trip. Nothing ground breaking but proof my old online sit and go skillz are still sharp !
If you stuck with this and don’t like poker , here’s the Bellagio Conservatory.
I have decided to split this TR up as there was some actual poker playing taking place, so i’ll come to that in pt 2. This is more the regular trip report with some photos and tips thrown in.
Day 1: We arrive via a direct VIrgin flight kindly covered by my Virgin Miles, which is always good. We also scored some v.cheap Premium upgrades, so quite relaxed on landing. The easiest immigration run ever, gets us in the terminal in record time, and then 30 mins to wait for our bags.
We then headed off to pick up our car. I had ordered a focus, but for $96 got an upgrade to a Grand Cherokee. Seemed churlish not to take it , especially as the Focus became a Yaris on further discussion !
Quick checkin at the Excal, and we retire to the room ,and then head out for a gamble. Pretty average, but the Dos Equis are flowing, and life is good. We retire for an early night, and hopefully try and avoid the jet lag.
Day2: Awake at 5am ! what’s a man to do prior to going out shopping. Craps at 6am can be a lonely experience, so sacked it off in favour of some sorting of the Sat Nav for our various destinations for the week. Breakfast was taken at Mr Mamas (last seen here) . We had a bit of an experience which was a little unfortunate, but resulted in a free meal. I wont go into details, as they don’t deserve it. Hit the outlets for what was for us quite a quick shop, and we are back at the hotel for lunch MrsMrBen had some friends coming into town, so I managed to get across to the MGM to play some pokers with @lightning36 and @robvegaspoker . +$17 later I headed back for some more gambols back at the Excal.
Day 3, We start the day at IHop and a lazy morning. From there, I played in the TI 2pm poker tournament with lightning and although I lasted longer and made the final table, i ended up with zip payout. Shame. On the way back I went to our room, but no one was about. We were on the 27th floor, so i called the lift. The lift doors opened and I was greeted by a bemused couple and a slightly rotund, drunk ,tattooed Aussie girl, sitting on the floor, shouting out me, “You must be a VIP, the lift didn’t stop at our f***king floor” Well, thank you maam. Anyway the couple get out, and its me and Jabba. She is still shouting at me, and then gets up to leave when we do reach her floor. Her last words are “Are you Australian ?”. Now i am used to, although confused to being asked this by Americans, but you are an Aussie love. Really ? That night was pretty quiet, with a few quid changing hands between some table games.
Day 4 Today was take a drive day via Jamms for Breakfast, home of the pot o bread apparently, of which I had the banana and nutella version, which was very nice thanks. And we then headed out to the Red Rock Casino. Which if it was closer to the strip would be a firm favourite. The pool alone is worth it. We have a free night available there and will take it up on our next visit. Post a quick stop at Trader Joes (for peanut butter !) we head back via dropping off some fine English corn snacks and real Kit Kats to the lovely @LVA_Tweet That afternoon I found a slot machine that liked me. Approximately 40 minutes on max credits did my comps with MGM no harm and netted me about $170. The evening was a grown up affair. We went to a show (for free). Namely LOVE at the Mirage, a Beatles homage delivered by Cirque Du Soleil. Fantastic is all I can say. If you like your Beatles post 68 and colourful, this is for you. Not a bad seat in the house either. Post the show, MrsMrben was v.tired so hit the hay. I stayed up and played Drunken Black Jack with p3 which was funny, for me at least !!
Day 5 was Saturday and saw breakfast at Claim Jumper at Town Square. Good but not worthy of a Steak and Eggs challenge. No macbooks in the Apple store, so no good for me. I played in the 11am poker tournament at the MGM, and made it just past the break. boooo.Had a very good gamboool in the afternoon (about bloody time). The evening was back at base post dinner at Rice and Co, and late on while I was winning hard on the craps table, a less wobbly P3 appeared and another night of BlackJacks commenced, while MrsMrBen was out on a ladies night out, with another profit for yours truly. We are back on track.
Day 6 Breakfast at the buffet at the Aria. Always nice. But as it was comped I had to produce ID. No driving licence. What!!!. Anyone who has been to the states knows you need this all the time, if not more. Its always ID this, and ID that. Panic sets it as i munch through my brekkie. Where did I last use it. Town Square. So we head off back to mall and draw a blank. Bugger. We then try Rice and Co. They are closed but tell us that all lost stuff is handed onto Casino Security. We go down to the floor, and eventually I strike gold and am reunited with my new best friend from the DVLA. That afternoon we head off to Primm for a nose around. Don’t bother is the best review you will ever get for this place. Dead, dead, dead. But we did go on the rollercoaster at Buffalo Bills. On the way home we went to the SLS and sampled the fayre at the Northside Cafe . Great grub and a great price. PRO TIP. Every Sunday, one of the restaurants in the SLS is half price for players card holders (free). We were lucky, but will phone ahead next time !.
Day 7 Lost most of winnings in the morning, so rested up for the afternoon. Early even we took in some fine Filipino fast food at Chow King in Seafood City. From there we went our for a strip cocktail wander. First stop Double Barrel in the Monte Carlo, then onto the Aria. Things started to get a little messy, as the old fashioneds kept coming and fun was had. We then met up with a group of bods from BMW Canada, who plied us with more beer. Also met one of the senior guys from this set up who is a scouser. Odd !.
Day 8 was a comped breakfast at the Bellagio buffet, which was quality as usual, but customer service was a little lacking. Not in numbers, we had a guy in our area, but he thought chatting up the two girls on their own was way more preferable than doing his job. For the whole time we were there. Back to the MGM and the poker tables with P3 for what will become the famous Aces folded session (more next time). We had more friends come in that evening so we had another adult night with more cocktails in the Aria and dinner at Julien Serranos. After dinner, I hit the Vegas wall. Hard. More than Hard. I went straight home and bed, pre 10pm. Hard.
Our last day was quite relaxed, with some more poker (solo) in the Excalibur and a decent profit, and then back into the comfy premium seats for the 10 hr flight home. Only one slight issue , was the call over the plane intercom of “Is there a doctor on board?” Luckily there was , and even luckier it wasn’t for the pilot. One of the Flight Attendants had taken a turn and was out cold in the galley. As we didn’t land in the States and ploughed on to Gatwick I’ll assume alls well, that ends well.
Work commitments mean this one is a little late, but is a 3 parter. This part will cover the main trip, the other two will cover my day at the Aria tournament and the final part will be a small write up of the SLS vs the Sahara.
Flights over on Xmas day were very agreeable as BA gave us a free upgrade to business, which is always a good start to any trip. Changing at Chicago was not quite as painful as we expected and AA delivered us to Vegas early evening. We went to pick up our car and I then understood why car hire prices had gone through the roof. The car park was practically empty. Vegas was going to be busy this year. But it was cold, and for Vegas I mean cold…..
The dice of life had rolled and I (we) had some spare time on our hands, so we took ourselves off for an unscheduled trip to Vegas (not a lot of poker content, some near the end, sorry Rob !).
Getting a car on landing is the only way to do it now, makes life so easy. So I picked up my MKZ from the airport and we were on our way. By the way, for speed and ease, Avis > Hertz (based on sample of 2 !).
We were in our nice hosted room in no time and were straight back out for dinner. The venue was to be Max’s Filipino Food on Flamingo. Max’s. Fastish food, but the crispy Pata ? Well, we will be back, put it that way.
A couple of decent table wins and our beds were calling.
Day 2 started with breakfast at the world famous Peppermill. Make sure you have a large appetite before you go, you will need it. Yes its tacky and neon, with multi coloured sugar in the dispensers, but the food is just………..mmmmm. So a big breakfast needs a big walk, so it was off to the outlets for a stroll and shop. I managed to get back in time to catch West Ham Sunderland in the MGM sports book. Learned that a dollar tip doesn’t get you too far for a beer in here! SO 8 dollars down but 3 points up it was back home for a gamble up. Another decent night at the tables gave me 5 straights wins at my table visits. The weekend was going well, roll on the week. That night we ate at Rice and Co in the Luxor. This place for sushi, etc is well underrated. BUT, don’t sit at the back, the aircon will kill you. But they will prepare Cali Maki’s if asked (not on the menu) and have a foursquare special to take a little off the bill (always useful in this town !).
Then the crash happened at the tables but was controlled and I was still ahead !!
Thanks to myvegas the next days breakfast at the Mandalay Bay was free, and another large feed at the buffet We took a drive around town, bought some sneakers in Caesars and then took off to the Town Square Shops. This place is more locals based than tourists and to be fair, wasn’t really for me. Until i found the cheapest A&F in Vegas. This place was a revelation, and will be on this list now for many visits in the future (car allowing !). That afternoon, i smashed the craps table for a few hundred so was good to go for the evenings festivities in KGB Burger in Harrahs. Another freebie thanks to MrsBen and Total Rewards.
Next day was the ever impressive Aria buffet (free !) and a gamble up on the strip. The gamble up did not work out for either of us, so we scuttled off home early after taking in the Bellagio conservatory. No penguins as spring is in the air, but good all the same. When were in the Bellagio, we saw 2 girls who had, what I can only describe as Arse Implants. This was the first time I have seen this, and I was taken aback (no pun intended – no photos either. I had one but it was blurry, I will see if MrsBen has any).
Thursday was the first day without the car so it was back to me in the pit and MrsBen at the pool. I don’t know who was more surprised, when i met her out at the pool, clutching 900 in chips from a 100 buyin on a Blackjack Table. Anyway, all donations gratefully received.
Buca de Beppo for dinner, courtesy of our pit boss and a few beers in the evening was a good start to our weekend preparations. I say preparations, we actually didn’t do a lot, apart from pool and tables. I hit another heater on the craps table to ensure went went home well in profit, and MrsBen was no slouch on the slots either and made quite a few bob for herself. We had our last evening meal in Camelot Steak House, which was quality as usual (and free !).
We left on sunday, well ahead cash wise of where we were to begin with, and with full bellies ! I also got the see WHU vs Liverpool, but least said the better. Apart for the American Liverpool fan in his Gerrard shirt, who I swear had never seen a game of football (soccer) in his life. The glory hunters have started and they haven’t even won the damn league yet !
SO POKER !………….
I got to play in the 9am crapshoot at the Excal twice and the 10.30 variant at the Luxor once. I could give you tales of bad beats, etc, and you know what, I will.
1. Made the break and went out pushing A9 (the best hand in poker) into 2 random diamonds, who made the flush on a A93 flopped board.In the final table.
2. Luxor, tried a couple of moves, got no hands, and ended pushing a lucky draw to get out early, and succeeded !
3. And this annoyed me. I have made the break, just about to final table but i am low in chips and blinds are coming round fast. I have an M of about 2 (!), so i push Q3 clubs. Not a great hand but I’m in a bind. As my chips were low I get 4 callers. Great. Flop is Q35. Even better. This will put me on the final table and in about 6th place, so something to work with. One guys goes in heavy. Everyone drops out. The guy next to me offers his condolences. I say, with more than rye grin “I might be in here”. I turn over my Q3, and get to see raise guy turn over……………………..33. No Q for me so I’m out. But he was a nice guy who also had a chip and a chair earlier, and had turned it around the be chip leader. So fair play says I.
One strange thing in the last tournament was one guy I will call Texas Pete. This guy was drunk but communicative and seemed to have an understanding of life at this point in time. He re raised a pot early on to about 3K (you start with 4). He had 300 left. Another guy went all in and had him covered. He asked how many chips the guy had left. He asked about 8 times. He ummed, he arred, then folded ? LOL WAT? REALLY? You have taken 1/2 a blind interval, to Fxxxing Fold. REALLLLLLYYYY???
This was our first trip to Vegas this year and was long awaited as our first trip away since Easter. As usual we were flying Virgin, and they have reconfigured their planes a little. Due to their ultra expensive pricing for Upper Class, I imagine there has been a downturn in uptake, so they have taken Upper Class out of the top deck and replaced it with Prem Econ and Econ. However the Econ has more space than downstairs which is much appreciated by me !
So we settled down for our 10 hour flight, and it was noticeable we were being flanked by some Weekend Millionaires. This was borne out as the flight went on, as they got pissed, started arguing and if not for some very direct words from a stewardess might of got the flight prematurely landed. That aside, flight was great and we landed on time, and due to our position on the plane, were whisked through security in record time. Bags collected it was off to our usual haunt, The Excalibur, where once again we are graciously looked after by our host. We had a nice hamper of choccies etc in the room as we arrived ,which were just as graciously devoured!
Part of our deal was $100 in freeplay. Between the two of use we spun this around to nearly $200 cash, so good start to the week. Unlike previous trips, night one was a quiet one, and early bed. This is an unusual tactic for us but seem to handle the jet lag, so will be tried again.
Saturday was upon us in the morning. Quick trip to the pool for Mrs mrben09, quick trip to the poker table for me. 77 doesn’t beat jj, so that was me early doors. We retired to Tacos and Tequilas in the Luxor for lunch, and had some great Mexican grub which kept me going for the rest of the day. That afternoon , my wife’s cousin was coming in from Seattle, so we decided for evening we should go upstrip, as Floyd Mayweather was doing his thing across the road, and it was going to be crazy down our end of the strip. So for the evening we met in Javier’s for cocktails and then went to the Mandarin Oriental Sky bar just outside for some more cocktails. This bar is on the 23rd floor and has floor to ceiling windows covering the whole strip as a view. Post drinks we hit the ever favourite Lemongrass in the Aria for dinner. Fantastic as always and remarkably cheap considering the surroundings. We left just as telecasts for the fight were finishing and the casino floor was packed to the gills. I had already paid for my Poker Tournament the next day so we retreated to the Bellagio and the YellowTail restaurant for a few drinks and a catch up. Suitably refreshed we headed across the road and a bit of a gamble up in Harrahs. We have never spent a lot of time here, but will be doing in the future. It may not match Aria and Bellagio for swank but the staff more than made up for it. Quick waitress service and friendly dealers made for a top night (and winning a few quid always helps). We also took a quick trip through the Quad (previously the Imperial Palace). This is still a work in progress but definitely an improvement on the old dark IP.
Sunday was my day. I have been a member of AllVegasPoker.com for some time but due to living some distance away, I’ve never been in any of their sponsored tournaments. Today changed that and I entered into AVP XIX at the Aria Poker room. Post registration and picking up my freebie t-shirt and other goodies I met some people that i have conversed with online for some time. There are photos of me at their facebook page from here, but i wont be linking them. As usual with the Aria the tournie was well run, and I got to the first break without to many dramas. I shared my table with 2 AVP employees, and was quite amused to watch the CTO completely suck out on the Marketing Manager to much abuse and incredulity. The first price for just over 8k, so i needed to get some hands and post break the antes were biting and I needed to make a move. The move turned out to be a disaster. I was dealt 10 10 in mid position. I called a raise, and two of us saw the flop. the flop was 9 jq so i shoved with the chance of a open ended straight. My opponent tabled a jq and won the hand. So out in about 2 hours but a decent time non the less. Before i met the girls (who were in the middle of a 4hr (!) buffet in the Cosmopolitan, I hit the Blackjack table for a quick $200 win. Although everyone at the table was nice, i noticed they thought i was a little odd. Why was confirmed once I left the table and realised i still had my AVP name badge on while playing. Oops.
We ended up the evening at Harrahs again and won a few quid.
Monday was a 9.00 start at the Excal crap shoot poker tournie with Michael from Australia who i had met the day before at the Aria. He bombed early just before leaving to start his 2 day trip home and I held on, to finished 3rd and triple+ my buy in . Good start to the day. We then did our usual pilgramage ti the North Outlet stores and hit the shops. Some good golf gear was picked up a new suit amongst other things. In a non holiday move we had a Genius appointment with Apple in the Fashion show mall early evening . Using the usual “it’s only up the street” approach we set off on our walk. 1 hr 20 minutes later in 99 deg heat we were at our destination and knackered! But we got a replacement Iphone 5, so all good. Dinner was in ZoozaCrackers in the Wynn. I didn’t have the burger but it look amazing, but the nachos did well enough for me.
Tuesday we cashed in the first of our myvegas (facebook promotion) and had a free brekkie at the MGM buffet. Not as big a selection as I thought the worlds biggest hotel would have, but all good nonetheless. Being in the MGM meant I had to play the 11.00 am tournament at the MGM poker room. The current location for the room is shocking and no wonder takings are down. However the staff are professional as ever. Unlike my poker, I was out quite early, having got no hands or worth, and losing a straight on straight (10 vs J) pushed me passed caring and I shoved until i could leave ! We had a late lunch in our secret hideaway off the strip, Kapit Bahay. This simple Filipino restaurant never fails and once again the beef steak and pancit were tasty as ever. So much so we went Friday as well.
Wednesday was a long day. Lunch was in Buca di Beppo in the Excalibur. The large portions kept us going until the evening, where we used another voucher for a large saving in Plant Dailies in Plant Hollywood. This is just by the escalators up to some other restaurants and the nightclubs. This meant we were delayed by about a million people trying to get photos of Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck who were there promoting their new film Runner Runner. From there we went to see Vegas the Show . This is a variety show charting the history of Vegas as a resort destination from the mobsters up to current day featuring hits from Sinatra, Tom jones, Elvis and Elton John. Well worth the price.
Post show we headed home and hit the tables. We lost a few quid but that was on the cards as we had hardly spend anything in the previous 4 days. Thats when we met Betty, Rita and Biscuit (false names, as you may of guessed). 2 50’s style ladies and one completely normal lad, all hailing from Essex. They were great fun, and we stayed at the roulette table until 6 in the morning. Everyone won and the crack was great. Biscuit could not lose and ended the evening with a $25 drop on the 00. This comes in to great cheers and $875 to Biscuit. During this early morning gambling session we also met Alan from the Hangover (maybe). I say maybe as he hardly said 2 words for the hour or two he was with us but the photos show he could of been.
Thursday was a late start as you could imagine, so we cashed in another myvegas token for the Aria Buffet. Way better than the MGM and definitely one to be done again. This led us the relaxing part of the holiday and we stayed pretty local for the rest of the week. I played the Luxor tournie Friday morning to no avail, but got a few decent runs on the craps tables to get the money flowing back my way for the trip home. We ended our trip on Friday evening in Michael Minas pub 1842 in the MGM for a really nice meal with some local beers. I lodged the Dirty Dog (not nice, had it last trip) in favour of the Anchor Steam from Cali. not bad for a American beer, and a vast improvement on the DD.
Our flight was delayed on Saturday but at least Virgin let me know via text, so fair play. We had a very late checkout from the Excal, so it was like another days holiday, and the craps table was good to me again.
All photos taken by me on this trip were with the Nokia 925, and for a mobile they came out well. The others are from a 4S.
The Excal Tower 2 Entrance
The oldest working gaming machine in Vegas. The Sigma Derby
10 months after our last Vegas adventure we return courtesy of Virgin Atlantic to what is becoming a regular annual (ish !) trip. Such as here, here and here
The usual routine for these trips is that Mrs Ben hits the pool, and MrBen hits the poker table. This was sort of the order of events, but I had to change stuff around as the poker events in our hotel seemed quite slow.
Day one we got there quite late on, so i just made a quid hundred on the blackjack. Not a bad start. There was also the usual slot machine crawl, where you start with a 20, and try to build to 100 by hit and running bonuses. Mrs Ben nearly made this (after 3 hours), she was up to 80, but we had had a few drinks and it was time to retire.
Day 2, i set about my usual 9.00am poker comp. By this time i had hit the gym and had breakfast. Gotta love jetlag. Breakfast was in the ABX Burger ad Pancake house. The breakfast pancakes for £6 are amazing. Bombed the tourney early on, but made up for ir with another $150 on the Blackjack table. Lunch was at Lemongrass in the Aria, which is a chinese-thai modern type restaurant. Dim-sum. Oh My God. Get there early, we were towards the end of the lunch session (which is Dim-sum time), and just grabbed what we could. We also had the mee-goreng, which was spiced to perfection. More details on their website here.
That evening I took a bit of a kicking and was $250 down on the tables ans slots, but easy come and easy go, eh ?
Day 3 started with Breakfast at the Mandalay Bay buffet. As usual the fare was good in a nice setting. My 9.00am bombed again, when my KK was called allin pre flop by some clown with A9, who then hit a 9 on the turn and the river. Cheers, Nice hand. Always tomorrow i suppose. Having the hump i dropped 20 into an Alice in Wonderland machine and picked up a $120 Jackpot. Feel better now.
I then retired to the pool with MrsBen. The pool at the Excalibur has been redesigned this year and is way better than before. In fact with 4 pools and at least 2 hot tubs/Jacuzzis, this place is severely underrated.
In the afternoon we tool a amble down the strip and headed towards Caesars Palace. We cut through all the usual suspects, Aria and Bellagio (quick +$35 slot win. Hehe). Our destination at Caesars was the Cheesecake Factory. Now in the city full of restaurants why bother with a chain. Because its not in the UK, and its just great food. The portions are huge, so main course only thanks. We shared some enchiladas and the “Bellagio” pasta. Strange name bearing in mind the location ! Fantastic allround, and I managed not to buy anything next door in the super sized Nike Store.
Day 5 started like 3 with my 99 hitting AA early on. Lucky this 9.00 am is only $30 !. As we had friends up from California we rented out a Cabana by the pool for the day. Well worth the next to nothing we paid ! This made for a nice relaxing day.
The evening was spend on the road again, and we hit the Palazzo for dinner. We had heard good things about the Grand Lux. Well, heres my thing, don’t go there. The burger i had was very greasy (greasy is different from juicy !). Mrs Bens ribs were dry, and the meat wouldn’t come off from the bone, and therefore was sent back. Chips were OK!. One other thing regarding the Ventian and Palazzo. They used to be quite refined, and a bit classy (for Vegas !). They now seem to have this rock vibe going on which suits Planet Hollywood, but I’m not sure about here. The Zebra Lounge gets a special mention. The band think they are playing Wembley and have a speaker stack to match. Far too loud.
On day 6 i changed venue for the morning poker comp. I went next door to the Luxor for their 10.30. This was a good move, and one I may make more permanent in future trips. Better organised, friendlier,and way more confortable. After getting away with a split pot, which i was well behind on. I managed to scrape 3rd for $134 (40 buyin). 3rd or maybe second was probably my best chance, as there was a lady who arrived at the final table with over half the total chips, and seemed to hit every hand. But i did my bit and took out 3 people on the final table. The rest of the day was by the pool, and chilling out.
The evening was a bit of an adventure for me as we went to Shibuya, a Japanese restaurant in the MGM. I’m not a Sushi fan, but i do like wagyu beef. I did try some Sushi as well, and I may be coming round (more on this below !). Not cheap but a fantastic meal and great vibe and service. More info here
Day 7 was spend mainly at the North Outlet Centre. This places never lets us down, and this day was no different, with bargains from Ralph Lauren, Burberry and Hugo Boss amongst others. My Jordan IV’s got some love from the market sellers. Our trip there was undertaken by Taxi, with a guy who seemed to no more about football than any American i have ever met. He was Mexican to be fair, but you get the drift. We discussed Booby Moore vs Pele, Leeds and Chelsea in the 70’s, and low centre of gravity being the reason for Maradona and Messi being better footballers than me.
That evening we found craps. The game not the tummy bug !. It took me about an hour to work out what was going on, but once we got going, we were flying and both made a tidy profit. Its also a great game for socialising, and just great fun. A few beers were had and great crack all round.
Out last full day started slowly after the night before but we tried the Public House in the Luxor for lunch. Great food, great price, shame it was showing “Being Liverpool” on the main screen. Might visit one evening when its full on our next trip. Can be found here
We also had dinner in the Buca di Beppo Italian in the Excalibur. The food here is just WOW. I really love it. The portions are a little scary, but likea mamma used to maka. ! Find it here
The evening was more of the same, Craps and Blackjack.
We flew back the next day just in time , as the Storms were coming and flights were starting be cancelled all over the place.
So overall, another great trip. The Excalibur looked after us well again, many thanks to Yvonne our host as usual.
+ Lemongrass, Buca di Beppo, Cheesecake Factory
– Grand Lux, Venetian in general.
On our trip you could tell that Vegas is still deep in recession. I currently give the Tropicana about a year after a successful relaunch, that seems to be falling apart. Oh and the Mirage seems to be the number one hotel if you are looking for Hookers, or maybe it just seems that way ! Never used to be like that.
The end of the year brings me and my wife to Vegas for the 3rd time in 12 months.
It was the first time I had flown BA to Vegas instead of virgin but it was great and a little early. But for Xmas day, it should be !
We stayed at the Excalibur as usual, looked after by our great host. Xmas day evening we were supposed to meet friends and hit up Dragon Noodle in the MC, so we headed off quickly, got there and turns out they didn’t want to go there and were back in the Excal. So we traipsed back and ended up in the food court. Merry Christmas!
Once they left, we did what all people with 8 hrs jet lag should do, and started drinking and gambling until 6am. Rough, but hey!
After a little lay in on day 2 and breakfast/lunch in the Lynard Skynard I got some 1/2 in. 3 hours returned $192. Good start to the week. And we got to dragon noodle in the evening. And it was worth the wait. Dim sum was fantastic.
With a broken body clock i was up the next day at 5.30, so hit one of the new restaurants in the Excal. The ABX Burger place. the pancakes were fresh as a daisy and most filling. Missus TLJ hit the tix booth for some Elvis cirque action and I hit the poker room again. Another 3 hours but down 70. No problem, 20 mins of blackjack got me another 150.
I then got the call of the wife on holiday “shopping time”, so a quick trip to the premium mall got that out of the way, and we rested and then hit the Aria for the show. Bearing in mind this show is closing, I really enjoyed it, and it played to a near full house. Afterwards we went to the secret pizza bar in the Cosmo. I had heard about the real arcade machines and was a little disappointed to find a PC in a galaga shell. Cop out!
Day 4 found me at the breakfast 9am crapshoot in Excalibur. #This started a little late as a guy was being CPR’ed and then trollied out. They set the comp up with all the medics and nesr dead guy in the room (not the biggest room either), classy ! I busted early with 10 10 against a rag who hits a on the river. I’ll be back. Today we went for a wander around the strip, highlights being $167 bonus on the pinball slot in the MGM, and dinner in the cheesecake factory.
Day 5 was a bit of a washout in the crapshoot (i’ll be back), and turned into a relax with Penn and Teller in the evening. So the Rio, what a tip! You need to a be parkour expert to navigate the slots, they are that close together.
Day 6. The crapshoot had 30 runners + rebuys, etc. got to the final table with no worries . Then busted 2 guys in quick succession with back to back full houses. I was way chip leader when heads up, so asked my opponent if he wanted to play for stacks, as time was getting on. He won the first, but the second we played cards down. The board was k high, and he had qk, and I turned over………AK! $498 in the bag. I knew I would be back. Lol. My first tournie win in Vegas !
I then got a tweet regarding the noon comp in the Trop on NYE with Mr Gold. $100 buyin, 500 in my bin, so why not.
Not a lot to report the next day, so onto NYE. The Trop room is nice, and the players were friendly. I got seated on a table with a bounty. A lady who i did not know, who was a poker tv presenter. I made the break, after being chip leader (between hands one and two. Lol), but was card dead, hard. As well as me, Dennis Phillips and Jamie Gold were still in . So far so good.
I have a bad leak, that post break I always try to buy hands, and today for no different. Blinds are creeping up , so I go all in post a 455 flop with 46. Called by tv lady with ……….66 and that’s that.
Spent NYE on the strip, and it was fantastic. Outside Bellagio for midnight, saw fireworks and then back home for more beer and merriment.
Next day was quiet as you would expect, but we tried the new Italian in the Excal. Lovely and massive portions. Good hearty food.
We headed home the next day via Chigago. How big is that airport ? I thought if I kept walking I would be in Canada!