On account of being old men, we went to bed early Monday night, and were up by 10am on Tuesday. We hit the Mirage buffet, which was a very pleasant surprise. Although we were too early for the lunch items, the breakfast showing was quite solid, and a steal at $15/person.
Big Show and I decided to take a tour of the strip to do some channel checks of the development of the new projects, and to try to find someplace other than the Venetian with a good double deck blackjack game. The Harrah’s properties have a decent game, but with no DAS (double after split). We wandered down the strip, through all the casinos of yore; O’Sheas, Harrahs, Casino Royale, Flamingo, the immortal Imperial Palace, Bally’s, Paris, and eventually came to the newly remodeled Planet Hollywood. I flat out LOVED the way PH looks inside, but they don’t throw a double deck game, so we walked out front to stare speechlessly at the amalgamation across the street.
Although it’s in foreclosure, construction is still going on at the Cosmopolitan. There is even a rumor that Starwood may come in as a partner and re-brand it as a W Hotel. Still, getting back my deposit on a unit at the Cosmo (man – this is a few YEARS ago now, I think) must have been the best real estate decision I’ve ever made. And then we have CityCenter. I’m going on record as saying I think MGM’s CityCenter will be the biggest disaster in urban development history. The project cost will exceed $10B (probably by a LARGE margin), and, quite simply, they’re too late. The game is over.
A few of CityCenter’s buildings are nearly finished – the ones back behind the Cosmopolitan, and they have two hideous strip-front buildings with Frank Gehry–esque curved colored blue and yellow glass. Horrible. All in all, including the Cosmopolitan, I counted at least NINE towers in various stages of completion in this one project alone. Mind boggling. Of course, then there is more development across the street, with the Planet Hollywood condos, and elsewhere on the strip as well (the halted Echelon project, for example, where the Stardust used to be). Speaking of Echelon – talk about startling project management. When I read a month ago that Boyd decided to halt construction of Echelon for “3 or 4 QUARTERS” due to a slowing market, I figured they just had a frame in the ground and a few stories built: aucontraire – the Echelon skeleton is built – and they have completed the glass on almost half of the tower. Simply shocking that they can halt it now.
Anyway, we wandered back to the Mirage, and snagged seats in the… wait for it…. 1-4 stud game! Now, my NLHE game has been so off lately, I figured I’d get back to basics – but 1-4 stud was absolute HAZING. I’ve never played a poker game in a casino where there are US quarters in play! Aiyahh! We were 6 handed, and half the time you’d raise the bring-in and rake in a pot with a single $1 chip in it. Of course, I’d make a big motion of fake-sweeping a pot toward my stack with both hands, scooping and scooping, corralling the one lone chip, and a mountain of imaginary chips. At least it made Big Show laugh – and he’s a stud specialist!
Big Show went on Bajungi tilt when he pounded a pot all the way with kings up, make kings full on the river and bet out. He got raised, and immediately put out a three bet. His opponent called, and showed aces full! Big Show was on tilt that his opponent didn’t put in MORE bets on the river! “I thought you might have quads,” his opponent pleaded, but Big Show couldn’t believe the nittyness – and he was on the LOSING end of it! It reminded me of the time some uber-nit at the Venetian 4-8 limit game just called my river 3-bet with pocket jacks on a 5-T-Q-5-J three heart board. He should have paid off my quad fives with a 4-bet and a call of my five-bet!
After more than enough hours of low-limit hell, I collected a BLT Burger comp as a reward for the 1-4 stud self-hazing session, and Big Show and I hit the PaiGow pit again. Big Show quickly steamed off a buy-in, and went to tackle the face up double deck game (all MGM properties changed from the pitch, face down, double deck to the face up game, to speed up the game, and, we were told, because people were marking cards when they got to handle the cards in the pitch game!) I was left to take on an Asian PaiGow dealer heads up at her own game – hardly a fair fight. Nevertheless, I ground out a small win, and Chops came by to chat on his way home from closing another big business deal. After Chops left, Big Show collected a comp from the BJ pit, and we hit BLT Burger.
I live around the corner from the original BLT Burger in NYC, and the Vegas version was an adequate imitation. I pressured Big Show into ordering the Twinkie Boy shake – which is basically a liquefied (did you know that’s how you spell LIQUEFIED? me neither) Twinkie with milk and ice cream. “You might as well just throw that right in the toilet and cut out the middle man,” I told him, foreseeing the gastrointestinal trauma it would be sure to cause even the most lactose tolerant.
Being somewhat bitter about our Venetian hostess falling down on our room comp, I wanted to be a vindictive consumer and not give them any business. However, we came to the sad realization that if we wanted to play double deck pitch blackjack, they indeed have the best game in town, and caved in to our moral sense of consumer rights advocacy.
We monopolized the table outside the high limit salon, with each of us playing two spots. When interlopers threatened to disrupt our monopoly, Big Show muttered “time to break out the cigars,” and we laughed at the thought of using them like a bug-bomb smoke screen. We got the pit boss to comp us some cigars, and the waitress brought us several rounds of nice port. The cigar girl tried to light my cigar, but I wanted her to roast the end more before she tried to light it. “Put it in your mouth,”she urged me, and I had to stifle a witty retort, as Big Show was already choking back laughter from two seats away.
Cigars successfully lit, table monopoly maintained, ports grasped, we sat back and enjoyed throttling the Venetian’s double deck game, until they pulled another classic Venetian “fuck you, the customer is NEVER right” maneuver. It was Tuesday at 8:30pm, and we were at a $25 table, of which there were 3 of in the vicinity. The other two were empty. The pit boss bumps the table minimum to $50, and tells us “You guys can play quarters until 9:15, then you have to go up.” Now, we can handle the action, but it never ceases to amaze me that they would risk having a customer walk away by not grandfathering him into any limit he was already playing. The pit boss explained “you’ll win faster this way,” in the classic house sales line.
Eventually, the Venetian gained a measure of temporary revenge, when they ground back from a 30 unit deficit to put me in the hole, but I redoubled my efforts, fought off tilt, and eventually walked away up 7 hunge or so. No post would be complete without a reference to some casino urinal, so, for my most loyal reader, Bones, I have to mention that I drank so many Fiji’s, champagnes, ports, and beers that I literally must have used the high stakes salon pisser 20 times. It is one of the nicer heads that I know of, by the way, but it’s hidden away in the bowels of the high stakes area. Clearly, a player of my stature carries the aura of “I am JUST the kind of man who is supposed to use that pisser.”
Finished with blackjack for the night, we decided to check out the late night action in the poker room. I was quickly seated in a 4-8 Omaha 8 or better game with a half kill, which Big Show managed to join 10 minutes later. The game went bonkers when Crazy Mike showed up. Now, Crazy Mike is a tremendous character – he buys into the low-limit game for $1k, and splashed chips around, throwing out blind preflop raises – he’ll put out a stack of chips and just say “unlimited – the maximum,” and raise or reraise whenever it got to him. He also came armed with his own little side table, on which he had 2 corona six-pack cartons which were filled with bottles of Fiji. Now, Mike acted kinda like an obnoxious ass, but I loved the kid – he was young, claimed to be rich, hated poor people and liberals, and clearly was intelligent behind the crazy persona. He had the floor wrapped around his finger, and insisted on cans of Pepsi, a bucket of ice with a scooper, and wine glasses. He was more than willing to share, but only if you agreed to drink it his way.
As far as ludicrous situations go, this game was probably crazier than 6-Sigma-Sunday, although nowhere near as profitable. Mike seemed to take a liking to me when he found out I was not poor, and I think he felt disappointed yet somehow more secure when I relented to his insistent questioning of “are you worth more or less than TEN?” and told him that my net worth was “less” than 10 million. He complained that everyone in Vegas was a total whore, and that he couldn’t meet a nice girl, while at the same time passing out stacks of chips to the staff, and donking off chips to the table. He clearly realized the irony of him feeding the whore addiction. “I mean, they brought me TWELVE Fijis! Who needs twelve Fijis?” He pleaded with me. The cigarette girl came by the table, and I said to Mike, “You should date HER.” He looked at her, looked at me, and simply said, “She sells cigarettes.” I nodded and pursed my lips – good point kid.
I had one noteworthy hand in the Omaha game, where I held QQxx in a raised pot, and the flop came Q-6-6. I let out, got raised by some doucheball to my immediate left, and I three bet him. on the turn, I checked, he bet, and I three bet. We had another douche trapped to doucheball number one’s left the whole time.
On the river, I still had the second nuts, although a low was possible. I bet, doucheball one raised, and douche number 2 was all in for his last $24 or so. Now, I may be up against 66, but I’m not nitty enough to just call here, especially in a high-low game, so I three bet it. Doucheball one put on a hemming and hawing show, and stacked out a bunch more chips. “Raise it,” the dealer announced, and it was 4 bets back to me. I finally figured out that this schmuck wasn’t acting – he had meant to call my 3-bet, but had accidentally put in a 4th bet. So I promptly 5 bet it back to him (SUCK IT!), he called, and I scooped the side pot when he showed a 6 – I thought the doucheball had a low, but his hand was faceup, and neither he, the dealer, nor anyone else at the table said anything, so I just raked in the side pot. The second douche got half the main pot with his nut low.
Crazy Mike left his stuff at the table, but went in search of more action elsewhere in the room. After several minutes, I tried to find him, but he had disappeared, and our game rapidly broke. Big Show and I checked our baseball 3-team parlay, and found we went 0-3! That’s how to do it if you’re gonna fail!
We putzed around a little, played a little more PaiGow at the Mirage, and pounded a few more drinks before Big Show pussed out, saying his head hurt and he wanted to go to bed. I, being an even wussier old man, was only too happy to oblige, and we turned in early to prepare for our last full day in Vegas.
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