Went to Las Vegas with a few buddies last week to see Cal play BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl. OK actually we were there to play poker, and Cal being in the LV Bowl made a convenient excuse for us to go to Vegas. Despite losing a couple hundred at the tables (i'm about this close to swearing off low limit poker b/c of the suck-out calling stations that always hit their 2 outers on the river to snap off my pocket aces), this was one of the more enjoyable trips to Vegas I've made.
Day 1 highlights -- Wednesday, Dec 21. We're on a 6:30AM flight from Oakland, and it's cold and miserably drizzling in the Bay Area. All of us are groggy as hell because we'd been up very late. We arrive in Vegas at about 8AM, cab it to Luxor and find that we're not allowed to check in until 11:30AM. After having breakfast at the Pyramid Cafe, we trundle on over to the MGM to enter their 11AM daily no-limit hold'em tournament. I busted out after about the first hour--wasn't able to build on my stack before the first break, getting blinded down a bit. The blinds started going up so I felt I needed to make some moves to build my stack before getting blinded off. On one hand after all players folded to me in the small blind I attempted to steal the big blind by raising with A-8. The big blind reraised me all-in. Had I folded in this position I'd have been totally crippled, so I moved the rest of my chips in, and was rather upset to find that I was against 8-8. No aces fell and I busted out. However, my friend Lester managed to actually win this tournament, netting quite a hefty sum! Not bad for someone who consumed no less than 11 bottles of Coors Light over the course of the 3 hour tournament. Hey, drinks are free at the poker tables--gotta take advantage.
After that excitement, we finally were able to check into the hotel to drop off our bags, and we played a little more poker before going to the Bellagio buffet for dinner -- always a highlight of any Vegas trip.
More poker after that, deep into the night, but along the way, we met the best cabbie EVER on our way to the Wynn casino and their Lure nightclub. This guy picked us up at Bellagio, and was one of those chatty cab drivers who likes to tell his life story. Retired NYPD cop, claimed to be making $80,000 a year take-home, working 4 days a week (clearly I'm in the wrong line of work) on top of his $40,000 a year pension as a retired cop. Bought a 5BR, 2800 sq ft house in 2000 for $150K, which is now worth more than 4x as much. So we asked him what he did with all that money and he told his us favorite hobby was strip clubs. Excellent -- we quizzed him on what his favorite strip clubs were and he seemed knowledgable enough that we suggested he start a strip club ratings website. We also asked him what sorts of crazy stuff happened to him as a cabbie. At that point he whipped out his camera to show off pictures of an exhibitionist couple who asked if they could have sex in his cab. So he told us all about it, inviting us to flip through the pictures in his camera as he told the story. Some part of me was grossed out, knowing I was in the same cab as this couple who got it on right where I was sitting, but I was drunk enough at the time to be more amused than anything else.
Day 2) The next day we woke up and joined Luxor's daily poker tournament at noon. This tournament structure was very, very strange. The first hour or so was limit poker. I managed to tread water during this stage, going down to the felt a couple of times, but stayed alive by going all-in at those times with some fortunate holdings of JJ, QQ, and AA that actually held up. By the time the tournament switched to no-limit, I had a decent sized stack and started making more aggressive moves to try and bully the short stacks, including my boy Lester who pushed all in with a short stack late in the tournament on my big blind. I called the bet blindly, without looking at my cards, because it wasn't much more money and I was getting plenty of pot odds. He turned over K-7 and I flipped over, much to my dismay, 2-7, the worst starting hand in hold'em. What's even worse is that my hand was dominated by his, making him around a 3-1 or 4-1 favorite to win. I spiked a 2 on the flop and KO'd him. Unfortunately that momentum wasn't enough to carry me, and I busted out in 9th place, 2 spots out of the money. Amazingly enough though, my friend James won this tournament, making our crew 2 for 2 on tournaments this trip to that point.
After that, we had to prep for the football game later that evening. We hit up the convenience store in the Luxor and picked up a fifth of rum and a liter of Coke. Lester and I alone nearly killed that fifth of rum in about 40 min time at which point it was time for us to cab it to the stadium. I had quite a buzz going, and Lester actually passed out in the cab, but we otherwise made it the stadium unscathed and just in time for the game. Our four seats were split into pairs, so James and Mikey went to their seats while Lester and I somehow stumbled our way to find ours.
I will say this about Sam Boyd stadium - it has charm like an oversized high school stadium. Even the food was reasonably priced -- premium pints of beer for 6 bucks, large cheeseburgers for 4 bucks, and garlic fries for 3 bucks. Prices like that for stadium fare are unheard of in this day and age.
Our seats were on the 20 yard line, on the sixth row - we were right up front to the action and it was awesome. But as we made our way to the seats I became rather confused hearing a girl's voice calling my name (remember I was still pretty drunk having consumed half a bottle of rum). I turned around and found an old college friend of mine in the stands just one section over, proving the theory that you usually run into someone you know in Vegas.
The game was quite enjoyable, thanks in no small part to the fact that Cal won. As the name of this blog suggests, DeSean Jackson is in fact, your daddy, as he caught two TDs in the game and will be a future Heisman contender if we ever get a decent quarterback for him. I was slightly disappointed that BYU made it close in the end. I would have had an even better time if Cal had continued stomping on the Cougars like they were in the 3rd quarter when it was 35-14. No matter.
We intended to go to the Light club in Bellagio after the game to join the rest of the Cal young alumni in celebration, but the game itself and the drinking tired us out, and we opted instead to just chill in the room for a bit before...you guessed it...playing more poker at MGM.
Btw, MGM is now officially my favorite poker room in Vegas. Unlike some other casinos on the strip that fence off a section of the floor, put a few tables in and call it a day, the poker room at MGM was actually designed and built to be a feature of the casino, not an afterthought. It stylishly wraps around a circular bar, is well lit, and has tables that include a thin granite ring around the sides to stack your chips on. The felt is ultra high quality and seems to attract zero lint. There are plasma screens visible from any angle tuned into ESPN, and even the seats are extremely cushioned and comfortable to sit on for long play sessions. The cocktail waitresses also come by quite often for drink orders. If you're a poker aficionado, you must check out the MGM next time you're in Vegas.
Day 3) We checked out of Luxor at 11, then headed over to Aladdin to nosh on their buffet. I have to say, it's easily the second best buffet in Vegas behind the Bellagio that I've tried (still haven't sampled the one at Wynn). Quite a variety of different genres. The Chinese food there was pretty white-washed as you might expect, but the Mexican and Indian offerings were quite good, as was the prime rib and seafood. After this, Lester entered Aladdin's noon tournament, but the rest of us chose to play pai-gow and limit poker to while away the time before we had to head to the airport. Believe it or not, Lester finished 3rd in that tournament, netting another handsome sum of money. He actually would have won it if not for suffering a bad beat that knocked him out. He was holding KK against KQ all in, making him about a 92% to win against the big stack at the table. J-X-X flopped, but amazingly, the big stack caught a running T and 9 to finish off his straight. Heartbreaking, but that's poker.
The rest of my vacation has been quite chill compared to the Vegas trip. Went straight to LA after Vegas to spend Christmas with the family. Lots of eating, last minute Christmas shopping, and I was so bored in LA that I finally busted out the PS2 and finished God of War. Also took my sisters to our favorite Cuban restaurant, Versailles, for some of their famous roasted lemon garlic chicken. Then it was back to the Bay.
My friends held a housewarming party/poker tournament on Thursday. Alex Navarro actually made it out, but that flaker Carrie totally flaked out on us. I made a big pot of collard greens to go along with the meatloaf that the hosts provided. The guests generously pitched in giant sandwiches, cookies, beer, and a ton of booze. The big news here is that we had a 20-man poker tournament, which I won! Woohoo! I made back a good chunk of the money that I lost in Vegas with that win. I also got somewhat hooked on Guitar Hero, which is bad news because I'm quite close to buying my own copy now =(
To do list for rest of break:
-Play basketball, start lifting again
-Beat RE4, Psychonauts, Dragon Quest VIII, Indigo Prophecy
-Reset my sleeping cycle. Why in God's name am I still up at 5:45 AM spewing out poorly-written blog entries?