Saturday, March 26, 2011

You know it's a virgin drink, right? (VEGASTORY 5 of 6)

An expensive non cocktail
My Saturday in Las Vegas was, one could say, a "Market Correction."

Stories of failed poker tournaments are vastly uninteresting and difficult to follow even when you know all the players and terms used.  I bought in for the $60  Harrah's tournament at 10 am about forty minutes before it started.  That time was meant for me to grow $140 to $200 in craps to fund the tournament.  Instead I ended up walking out of Harrah's short $200.  The next tournament I wanted to play was the 3 pm at Caesar's and had zero intention of gambling at all before that.  Which I was amazingly able to do.  I think I might've hit a wall on Friday night; I was also rather hurting from the celebration post Xavier win.

Caesars, similar to Wynn, was running a poker tournament series that canceled most of their usual daily tournaments - but kept the buy-ins somewhat reasonable.  They had correctly geared it towards the basketball fan population calling it, "Hoops & Hold'em."  I chose the series' event: Saturday's 4:00 PM $130 double stack with 20 minute "turbo" levels.  The time before it was killed by watching Richmond and Wisconsin make it to the Sweet 16.  Watching the end of games in the Caesars Sports Book is always a spectacle.

I haven't had much success in tournaments at Caesars, but have always had a great time because of the cast of characters that show up to play:
  • A headphoned man who had seen my late night IP poker celebration/meltdown the night before
  • An attractive nurse from North Carolina, but moved to Vegas a few months ago with her professional poker playing boyfriend.
  • A quietly charming fellow born in Florida, lived in Austin, and now from San Francisco who was second strongest conversationalist behind your truly
  • A man from Sweden that was wearing a Sturgis Motorcycle Rally T-Shirt
That T-Shirt: It was not a shirt from the Rally, just an Urban Outfitters type of tight graphic tee referencing the annual event in Montana.  I'm the farthest thing from a motorcycle enthusiast, but I know that Sturgis is a big deal.  Someone else at our table was from Montana, and he made a mention of it to the Swede in the Shirt.  Now I understand the Swede was not communicating to us in his first language, but he had no idea of any large bike rally.  He was wearing the shirt because it "looked cool" to the anger of the man from Montana.  I tried to cut him some slack, mentioning that I like a few bands from Sweden.  He wanted to know which ones - so I told him Peter Bjorn and John along with Miike Snow.  I didn't expect him to have heard of Miike Snow, but how can you not know of PB&J?  The man was an impostor.

Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks by Pedro Rossi

Meanwhile, Mr. Charming wondered aloud what music was playing in the headphones at the end of the table.  This is when I went into one of my most repeated jokes: "Probably Yanni."  That line almost always gets a shock chuckle, even if they don't want to laugh.  And sticking to the playbook I followed it up with the, "It makes sense, very calming music to settle your heart rate during cards... Personally, I prefer John Tesh."

And that's when Mr. Charming made the mistake of asking a follow up question because he's too young to really know who John Tesh is...  Let me tell you all, sports fans, that I have an incredible amount of knowledge on John Tesh built only for conversations such as these.  I don't own any of his music, but do appreciate at least one of his songs (The NBA on NBC theme song).

By this time the entire table had correctly assumed I was insane, going off on a monologue that lasted two hands about the career path of John Tesh.  It's taken me over 5 years to decide what kind of image I wanted to reflect at a poker table.  I used to wear headphones, sunglasses, act like I know what I'm doing...  Now I want people to think I'm just a crazy guy there to have fun, which is why I quickly ordered a Strawberry Julius.

I knew it was an option, but I asked the server anyways.
TQ: Last time I was here, there was an incredibly girly drink that had strawberries and whip cream and the whole she'bang?
Server: A Strawberry Julius?  You know it's a virgin drink, right?
TQ: Of course I know it is!
Server: Do you want extra whip cream?
TQ: Please yes.
Server (now walking away): Oh, and a cherry to top too?

I was short stacked when I made this order, and jokingly refused to play a hand to make sure I was still at the table by the time the drink arrived.  When the drink arrived I made my moves, and won the next 5 pots I entered (including two all-ins) that grew me to above the chip average... Sadly,  I made one mistake, which is all it takes in these things - and busted out on that sixth hand I played post Julius.

Express at Caesars Forum Shops
Not mentioned in the post, until now, is that the day started with a few sports bets placed in the IP Sports Book, of which none won.  Therefore, for those keeping score (and I was) every gamble I attempted on Saturday ended up being a losing one.  However, I was still up for the trip.  Being the responsible gambler that I am, I was done gambling for the day.  In a favorite Vegas Story of my past, this "quitting gambling" led to an infamous trip to Express.  Thankfully, I had other plans in mind, but wanted to take a picture of the storefront for instant FB publishing to the delight of a few of my friends.

The night ended with Mexican food with some friends who had spent the day in Old Vegas (a.k.a. Downtown / Freemont Street) before that gang set out to find a Beer Pong game.  I'm not a fan of Beer Pong (a.k.a. Dirty Balls in Beer), but was okay to drink from the sidelines and talk to more strangers - or so I thought...  The Beer Pong Enthusiasts set their pitchers down in the battledome that is the back of O'Shea's Casino.  I became quickly disinterested in that scene and set out to see two casinos that have been completed since my last time in Vegas: The Cosmopolitan & Aria.

Quick reviews of the two:
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas: A high concept club that happens to be an extremely expensive casino.  Beautiful on the eyes, both in clientele and architecture - but not an option at all for thousandairs such as myself to gamble.  True, I was done gambling - but I was hoping to get into a blackjack table just for a chance to change out with a $1 chip souvenir.

Aria at CityCenter: Very impressive non-claustrophobic layout that I sincerely hope will be a future option for me to stay at in the future (if the price is not too much of a stretch).  The Poker Room looked beautiful - playing in a tournament there will be on my list of priorities for my next visit.  The gambling there was expensive, but not too crazy.  After all, it was a Saturday Night on the Strip - $25 minimum bet blackjack is to be expected.  The only drawback is that it takes a crazy long time to walk to it's front door.  They need to get some moving sidewalks like The Venetian and Caesars.

And that's really all I did on Saturday.  Yeah, rather lame when looking back on it.  I kept my eye on the prize - I was there to watch basketball, and the following day would bring a great gift: Marquette vs. Syracuse!  I needed to rest up, recharge, and pack up for my last day in Vegas.

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