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Card Room Crawl – The Real Deal

Card Room Crawl – The Real Deal - Tue Oct 02, 2012, 06:26 AM
PSO-Davina Darr's Avatar
Since: Sep 2012
Posts: 20

this is a trip report copy-pasted from my website www.niceandsunny.com.


Card Room Crawl – The Real Deal: Summary Blog Part 1 (Binion’s) - Tue Oct 02, 2012, 06:28 AM
PSO-Davina Darr's Avatar
Since: Sep 2012
Posts: 20

this was supposed to be an attempt. An attempt to live for 28 days from poker alone. This undertaking was not supposed to convince me to become a poker pro. It was to find out if in theory I could be able to.

If you haven’t seen the awesome trailer I had made for this ...here you go:

I took one month unpaid leave from work and flew out to Las Vegas. I had thought about Atlantic City or even London for this adventure. London though would have been too expensive and AC – as much as I like it – simply doesn’t have the variety of games that Vegas has.

Just one month before I had come back from Nevada’s desert to my little home island, the Isle of Man. The 2 weeks in July (as every year) have been my summer holiday during the WSOP and after some special Cash Game coaching I had done quite alright.

Now I found an opportunity in between two jobs to take some time out and instead of waiting in the office and spend my time with little special tasks while I waited, I decided to dare an adventure that I might never be able to try again.

The plane to Vegas took off on 30th July!

Normally I would go chronologically through my experiences (as I have done in my previous Card Room Crawls on IntelliPoker), but in this case I will go (or “crawl”) from poker room to poker room and summarize all that I have experienced in each one.

Courtesy of my iPhone app PokerJournal I could keep track of almost all the poker I have played.

Let’s start Downtown as well…that’s where it all began anyway:

Binion‘s Gambling Hall & Hotel

Every poker player’s heart should leap when hearing the name Binion. Benny Binion was the one who once started to host the World Series of Poker in this establishment.

Many years ago today’s “Longhorn Room” was enough to cater for the WSOP. Today it’s unthinkable to have a mega event like that in here.

Instead this room is used for conferences and dinner parties. And so it was on 4th August when I was here participating in BARGE (Big Annual Rec. Gambling Excursion), an annual event where for 22 years poker and gambling fans meet up for fun games, socializing, networking, food and drinks. Part of it is the banquet, and I was part of it here in the Longhorn Room. We had good food, drinks and a couple of interesting speakers. The main speaker tonight was poker pro Karina Jett. She told us about her incredible life and I was well impressed!

Earlier this day the BARGE Main Event took place. The only No Limit Hold’em event with $100 Buy-In. There are a couple of things that are different when you play at BARGE, there are a lot of little rules to pay attention to. As this was my first BARGE I learned about most of these rules only shortly before. One of them was to tip the dealer $1 for every pot you won in the tournament (usually you only do this in cash games). Another thing was to have a bust-out (bounty) prize that you give the person that knocks you out of the tournament. So I quickly made sure I had enough $1 chips on me and also ran across Fremont Street to a souvenir shop to buy a Vegas-themed snow globe in shape of a pyramid and lollipops in dollar wrappers.

Unfortunately I had to hand over this prize quite soon, when my flopped two pair ran into a flopped set. I left the unromantic tournament room and went to the cash game area.

The tournament area full of BARGErs

Me playing the BARGE Main Event

The Binion’s Poker Room

Things went better here. Although the Binion’s poker room is in a different location as it was back in the old days, it still has a very special feel to it to play in this historic place. The walls are decorated with big framed black and white photos of the likes of Benny Binion, Amarillo Slim, Puggy Pearson and Doyle Brunson.

Here is the result of my hours at Binion’s:
  • Poker Room Quality (0-10): 5 – there is no free WiFi, only 7 tables in the cash game area, therefore many more in the tournament area. There are some more tables in the so called “fish tank” – an additional room next to the tournament area. The cash game room has a high ceiling but it all feels a little dark with the dark browns and beiges and the colourless photos. The dealers are ok, so are tables and chairs. Everything is mediocre.
  • Comps: $2/hour (this is awesome and you can use those comps easily at any of the Binon’s restautaurants and Cafés. As the tables are not equipped with a computer you have to remember though to check out at the desk when you leave)
  • Promos: usual High Hand Bonusses (progressive but small)
  • Player’s Card: Binion’s
  • Hours Cash Game: 6.53 in 6 sessions (2 winning, 4 losing)
  • Cash Game Profit: $302
  • Hours Tournament: 1.45
  • Tournament Profit: -$100
  • Total Profit: $202
And you can’t go to Binion’s without having your picture taken with $1 Million!

Me with my German poker buddies Sascha (l.) and Kevin (r.)

I will work my way down South now and from card room to card room.

The next article will feature the Stratosphere Tower…

Card Room Crawl – The Real Deal: Summary Blog Part 2 (Stratosphere) - Tue Oct 02, 2012, 06:29 AM
PSO-Davina Darr's Avatar
Since: Sep 2012
Posts: 20
Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower

I only had one spontaneous session here during this trip: to play the $60 donkament. The $40+$20 tourney was adopted from the Sahara when this shut down and is still quite popular.

My friend Bree and I decided one evening spontaneously to play this tournament at 11pm. The buy-in is $40 and you receive 4500 chips. At any time you can use the $20 addon for an additional 4000 chips. If you ran out of all your chips the $20 function as a rebuy (you still get only 4000 though ). I usually wait until the end of the rebuy period and simply use it as an addon. Also almost all tournaments in Vegas nowadays are re-entry tournaments. This is very popular with the players and the casinos. The casinos like the fact that people pay a full buy-in incl. fee again (as opposed to a rebuy tournament where the fee is not paid again) and the players like that the prize pools are nicely juiced up this way.

It became quite obvious fairly soon that this tournament in this somewhat remote casino will be popular with the locals and these usually have a certain attitude towards tourists. The following situation displays this quite accurately:

I played Qs8s and the board read 8dJdJsQh5c. At the showdown I peeled over my hand and joked „I have 3 pair!“, both players on my right shook their heads and said in a slow teacher’s voice „Noooo, you have 2 PAIR! Queeeeeens and jaaaaacks, see?!“.

Thaaaaaaank youuuuuu foooor beeeeeing sooooo niiiiiice aaaaaaand eeeexplaaaaain aaaaaaa stuuuuupiiiiid fooooreigneeeeer hoooow zaaat pooookeeeeer thiiiiiing woooooorks!

If I had busted early from the tournament I would have done the SkyJump from the top of the Stratosphere Tower, an almost free fall from 300m with a view of the nightly lit up Las Vegas Strip. But I stayed in the tournament, that long in fact that I chopped the prize pool amongst the remaining 5 players for $165. So I made $100 instead of spending $129 on the SkyJump.

After the tourney I won a little money on the Hangover slot machine (this one has been nice to me the whole trip) and then I was introduced to the “Ultimate Texas Hold’em” table game. I enjoyed this very much. You can basically bet on the strength of your hand on three streets (preflop, post flop and river) and your bet decreases the later you bet. So there is some kind of skill involved if you know your odds. It still is a casino game though, so in the end they had my money and the Stratosphere’s player’s club didn’t even manage to get a player’s card for me. Sucks!

And here is the result of my hours at Stratosphere:
  • Poker Room Quality (0-10): 4 – there is no free WiFi, not even proper mobile reception. Only 7 tables with a few extra outside of the poker area for the popular tourneys.
  • Comps: $1 per hour
  • Promos: usual High Hand Bonusses (small payouts), extra bonus for „Set over Set“
  • Player’s Card: ace PLAY
  • Hours Cash Game: 0
  • Cash Game Profit: $0
  • Hours Tournament: 2.32
  • Tournament Profit: $100
  • Total Profit: $100
The next Casino will be my favourite – the Wynn…

Card Room Crawl – The Real Deal: Summary Blog Part 3 (Wynn) - Tue Oct 02, 2012, 06:31 AM
PSO-Davina Darr's Avatar
Since: Sep 2012
Posts: 20
Wynn & Encore Resort

The Wynn is simply the most awesomest hotel in Las Vegas! During my vacation here in July I had the chance to stay at the Wynn for 5 days for a “good price”. I felt like a princess!

Play 6 hours per day at the Wynn for the poker rate ($129 week days/$199 weekends) to get THIS!!!

The hotel lobby. Makes you feel good every single time you see it!

Pool Day? OMG! (looks like an advert, right?)

The quality of simply EVERYTHING is right here. And so obviously also the poker room.

Comfortable chairs at tables with integrated sockets to charge your phones, situated away from the constant ding-ding-ding of the slot machines…the staff is extraordinary, the cocktail waitresses probably the most attractive ones in Vegas, free high-speed internet, $2 comps per hour… *sigh* What else can you possibly ask for?

Well…winning maybe.

Unfortunately it didn’t go well at all at the Wynn. While I still earned some money here in July, in August somehow nothing worked out.
The main problem here was, that the games are high. “High” as in the stakes being $1/$3 minimum and “high” as in the quality of the players at the tables. Just to name an example: I sat at the $1/$3 tables with WSOP/WPT legends Gavin Smith and Joe Bartholdi. Both having earned several millions in tournament winnings already.

My cash game with Gavin Smith

One funny hand has to be told here that I had played with Gavin Smith. First of all when I sat down at the table I wanted to be sure they know I’m fun, so I was the friendly smiley only women at the table. The game was only running for an hour or so after Gavin had busted out from the Bounty tournament and when I had been knocked out as well I made sure I got a seat here. But despite the short period of time the stacks were sky-high already. Players had around $1000 on average in front of them.

Not having the bankroll to compete with this I sat down with my standard short stack of $100 (I had to go back to short stacking after I got beat up pretty bad in the first couple of days and my small bankroll took a big hit).

Gavin welcomed me at the table and told me straight away that there is a mandatory button straddle of $6. So the game was basically $1/$3/$6 and faaaaaar too big for me. But hey, how often can you play against a drunk “WPT Player of the Year”?

I was on the button on the first hand and placed the $6 on the little “Dealer” disk which earned me cheers from the whole table. “She’s in!” screamed Gavin.

Very soon after I sat down I had aces and got a full payout from the gambling Gavin. Sweet! I played on with $200 while Gavin figured out that I was German and sang “99 Luuuftballoons” from that point on. I completely cracked him up by finishing the line in German “…auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont!” …he loved it and just didn’t stop singing that song.

After about an hour – I still had around $200 in front of me – I found AcQc in the cut-off. Gavin was in the Big Blind. There was one limper for $6, and I made it $18, everyone folded to Gavin who called and the limper also called.
Flop: Qd9c5s
Gavin checked, I bet $40, Gavin called, the limper folded.
Turn: 2c
Gavin checked, I bet $80 and so only had about $60 left. Gavin called once again.
River: 9d
Gavin starts singing “99 Luuuftballloooooons!”, grabs some of his $100 bills, throws them high up into the air and lets them land in the middle of the table. As much as it pains me, as it is sooooo obvious that he actually has one of the 9s he is singing about, I have to make the crying call. And yes, he turns over 9hKs.

I had a good laugh about this but obviously would have preferred if Gavin hadn’t gotten up right after this and taken my money to a club but given me a chance to win it back. Oh well, it was an experience.

So the high quality players are one issue, while the rich Wynn quests are another. I know these are exactly the kind of players you want at the table: rich arrogant men, that want to prove their wives or mistresses (that usually sit quietly behind them and stroke their arms or backs) how much of an alpha male they are. They don’t care a bit about the money. The strategy here is obvious. Sit tight, try to get into many pots cheaply and try to let them pay you off, if you happen to flop big. Because it is against their male egos, they can’t fold…so whatever you do, DON’T bluff!!! (…especially not when you’re a woman)

Unfortunately I ended up a few times too often getting the money in with the best hand and having the guy draw the 2- or 3-outer in the end to get all my chips. In the long run I would get them…But my bankroll was not designed for hits like this and I had to walk away like a beaten dog (or well, as I am female “a beaten bitch”! )

Another funny thing that happened here was that a guy played in one of the $1/$3 games that looked exactly like “the 18 Million Dollar Man” Antonio Estfandiari, I managed to take a secret photo of him and tweeted it @ Antonio. And he did actually reply! I know, I’m such a fan girl! haha (…but I looooove Antonio! )

A special promotion in August pulled me back to the Wynn despite the runbad. They offered $3 comps per hour! That means I only had to play around 9 hours for a free buffet! And the Wynn buffet is the best! As I lived the poker diet (one big meal per day) this came in very handy and I earned 3 buffets during my trip. With the money I lost in the games I could have just bought the 3 buffets, but it’s so much cooler to get them for free and a Line Pass (to skip the endless lines like a true VIP) on top of it!

But yeah, as much as I love the Wynn…it wasn’t good to me on this trip.

Here is the result of my hours at the Wynn:
  • Poker room quality (0-10): 9 – as already mentioned above, there is almost nothing else you could think of that is missing in this poker room. I don’t give the full 10 points as there are some things like the missing function in the chairs to lean back (as in Aria), or missing cup holders for the drinks and a very slow service when it comes to food deliveries to the table.
  • Comps: $2 (sometimes $3)
  • Promos: none
  • Player’s Card: Wynn
  • Hour Cash Game: 40
  • Cash Game Profit: -$498
  • Hours tournament: 8.17
  • Tournament Profit: -$205
  • Total Profit: -$703
The next hotel on our way down the Strip would be the Venetian. As I am allergic though to the fragrance they use here I can’t really spend much time and play poker. So the next casino I will tell you about is The Mirage.

Card Room Crawl – The Real Deal: Summary Blog Part 4 (Mirage + Lake Mead and Hoover D - Tue Oct 02, 2012, 06:33 AM
PSO-Davina Darr's Avatar
Since: Sep 2012
Posts: 20
Mirage Hotel & Casino

I had always heard a lot about the Mirage poker room, but I had never played here before.

I don’t think I have missed much though. It still puzzles me why so many people suggested playing here. I might be unfair as I haven’t played too much here. I only gave it two short visits.

But here’s a question: what is it with poker rooms and the colour BROWN? If you do it right (as at the Wynn) it can be classy, but most poker rooms – like this particular one – use brown in combination with beige. Add to it old tables and chairs and a slightly (or more) used look and you feel like nothing has been touched by an interior designer since the 70s.

The other thing that almost freaked me out during my first session here were a couple of weirdos at my table. All locals that knew each other and all staff by name. Three of those weirdos I have to tell you about (I was sitting right in between these guys in seat 3):

Weirdo #1 (seat 4 – to my left): This guy sat down with a respirator mask. Nobody seemed to be surprised about it, but when I turned around and saw that I was wondering if he has an infectious disease that he wanted to protect US from or if he is just scared of our germs. I decided that it was hopefully the latter. It poses the question then though why he kept touching those gross casino chips with his hands (after all I had seen people at the poker table with rubber gloves before) and no hand sanitizer (as I carry one in my hand bag at all times when in Vegas) in his direct reach.

Weirdo #2 (seat 2 – to my right): He and Weirdo #3 started talking about some language questions. As this is one of my favourite topics (I speak German, English, some French, have a certificate in Latin, learned a little Greek and a little Finnish and simply looooove languages) I offered my opinion on one of the words they were talking about and said that as around 60% of all English words this one derived from Germanic roots. Now he almost exploded as he was insulted in his American pride that his language was actually not what he thought he said something along the lines of “German would have been like more influential but there was something called ‘the war’!”. I just looked at him and shook my head. That’s right… I know this routine from living in the British Isles for a couple of years…if you run out of arguments against a German just mention the war.

Weirdo #3 (seat 1): He was once again in conversation with Weirdo #2. This time the topic was restaurants. Weirdo #2 recommended a certain place and Weidow #3 immediately raised his voice “I will not go to that place! The chef is GAY and WHO KNOWS where he had been before…!”

That was enough for me then and I was glad that my friend Kim had asked me if I was interested in joining her and her dogs on a trip to Lake Mead. So I left at 7.30 in the morning (yes, it was a night session that had started at 2am at Harrah’s).

Let’s wrap up the poker experience before I show you some pics from my only trip out of Sin City during this poker month.

Here is the result of my hours at the Mirage:
  • Poker room quality (0-10): 4 – the room has no character. Everything feels old without evoking nostalgic feelings (at least not for me). The players were unfriendly with some very weird people. On the other had staff was friendly, the room has couches to wait on for a seat at the table and the room is spacey.
  • Comps: $1/hour
  • Promos: some High Hand Boni and Freeroll Championship
  • Player’s Card: MLife
  • Hours Cash Game: 3 (2 losing sessions)
  • Cash Game Profit: -$96
  • Hours Turnier: 0
  • Tournament Profit: $0
  • Total Profit: -$96

After a little sightseeing tour through the Mirage (I didn’t see the dolphins though and still haven’t seen the volcano…shame on me) Kim picked me up from the hotel entrance…


…and we drove out to the desert!

4 girls with 12 legs…

First stop was Lake Mead. I still can’t believe my only trip out into the desert was in my hoody…but that’s what you get for being a spontaneous poker degen.

…me at Lake Mead

Proof that I was in the water… (and probably radio-active now… )

Teasing a dog…

Teasing two dogs…

…me at Hoover Dam (Arizona side…another State ticked off my list)

On our way back we stopped at Boulder City trying to find food. But the only thing opened and convenient was Taco Bell. I couldn’t finish it as it was so blunt and boring. Why do people like this stuff???

Lucky? Let’s ask Zoltar in Boulder City!

South America? No, Boulder City, Nevada.

And finally on our way back into the city and a little trip through Downtown I found the Neon Boneyard! Kim almost got a heart attack when I started screaming in the car. We drove by by coincidence while in July I was out there trying to find it and we just couldn’t.

As the Neon Museum is frankly quite shit at making this place accessible to the public I took secret pictures through the little holes in the fence (glad the iPhone camera has such a small lens ). Here is an example:

Me taking secret photos of the Stardust sign through the fence…

Quick, quick…I think someone’s coming…

Next stop on my Card Room Crawl will be Harrah’s.

Card Room Crawl – The Real Deal: Summary Blog Part 5 (Harrah’s + an “almost” romance) - Tue Oct 02, 2012, 06:35 AM
PSO-Davina Darr's Avatar
Since: Sep 2012
Posts: 20
Harrah’s Las Vegas

I had never actually played much at the Harrah’s poker room before. Although I had stayed at the adjunct Imperial Palace in the past. My memory of the room was that is was relatively difficult to get to (through a forest of slot machines) and that no game was going twice I tried it here.

There is an easier way without slot machines in the way but that means coming in through the so-called “party pit” in between Imperial Palace and Harrah’s. An area filled with stands that sell all kinds of stuff and loud (often live) music. This is a smart bottleneck on the East side of the Strip that slows you down on your way and basically funnels you into the Harrah’s casino as it’s cooler and less crowded in there. If you take the main entrance that waits with an open air-conditioned mouth you will need to get through the slot maze to the poker room, if you walk further to the right outside you will find a small side door that gets you directly to the poker action.
This obviously has advantages and disadvantages: on the one hand, it’s quite noisy at most hours of the day, on the other hand you get drunk party people that want to try “that poker thing” and you can take money off (although they make the “working conditions” not necessarily easier or more pleasurable).

Personally I avoid the party pit altogether and usually take a route in the back from Imperial Palace over to Harrah’s (just follow the Monorail signs).

In total I had 5 sessions here during my month. The most memorable was the one that started at 2am.

At some point during the trip I had finally got into the “right” poker rhythm: sleeping at day, playing at night. So I woke up at midnight and got ready for the action. I decided to screw all make-up and styling efforts and go in my hoody, pony tail, no make-up. Who cares how I look like, right?! (I would regret all this later…)

My breakfast consisted of Asian food at the Ginseng restaurant that is known to be open very late. I know, gross…but this messed up daily routine does weird things with your head…and your stomach.

The idea was then to basically play as long as possible at Harrah’s and maybe check out The Mirage later (yes, this story happened before what I described in part 4 of this summary blog when I went from the Mirage to the desert in my hoody).

I wasn’t sure if I could handle drunk poker around me that shortly after waking up. But it was ok.

And I had the benefit of the doubt. Arriving at this time of night MUST mean I’m drunk as well…so I usually play along and pretend I’m drunk. In this case though I only ordered Red Bull from the waitress (without the vodka).
An “almost” romance at the poker table

As soon as I sat down at the table I noticed a cute guy two seats on my left and was distracted straight away. Just from the way he looked, was dressed an behaved it all matched the image of my perfect man. I actually posted on Facebook “Playing at Harrah’s with what could be the man of my dreams two seats on my left!”.

It didn’t take long to get into a conversation. Unfortunately a man of big proportions was sitting right between us and it was difficult to talk and keep eye-contact. Luckily he left at some point and cute guy moved over to sit next to me (away from his friend he was here with). He told me he was actually a high stakes player and coach and was only here playing $1/$2 because of his friend. He showed me photos of his table stacks at the big games and pictures of his hot model ex-girlfriend. These things irritated me a bit and I felt I should probably stay away from him.

But then he asked me how long I would still be in town for and asked me to go for dinner some time.

The weird thing in all this was that I was sitting there…no make-up, weird red-coloured pony-tail and a damn hoody… and he still asked me out.

I agreed to go for dinner with him and we added each other on Facebook. At that moment when he added me I remembered that I had posted the “man of my dreams” thing and frantically tried to delete the post while he added me. I am still not 100% sure if he had seen it.

The dinner never happened as he is a typical professional poker player (I had been warned, but I just cannot listen). It is just impossible to plan something or get him away from the table

What we did have though was a spontaneous breakfast date some morning when I woke up at 7am and he had finished his session at the Bellagio. We met at Hash-House-A-Gogo at Imperial Palace and talked over breakfast. He told me about crazy gambling sessions and losing several $10ks to the casino at blackjack and baccarat.

He actually beats the high stakes poker games just to lose it in casino games. It’s like described in all those gambling books I read. It’s the stereo-type of a Las Vegas poker pro. It made me sad as I actually started liking him even more. A good guy with some bad choices.

I always do that… I pick the generally perfect guy for me, but always with this one thing I feel like I might be able to fix. I only had 4 boy-friends in my life and 3 of them were alcoholics. I always think I can help them and then have the perfect relationship. It obviously didn’t work out in either of those cases.

Now this man is not an alcoholic but a gambler. It’s an addiction I can understand more than the alcohol, as I have gambled away a lot of money myself and I still enjoy doing it, even though I could use the money for better purposes. But it’s fun….and life is short.

I am reading Vicky Coren’s “For Richer For Poorer – Confessions of a player” at the moment and she explained this gambling habit of poker players like this:

“Later tonight, or tomorrow, or next month or next year, he will lose all his money in a baccarat game or a poker game at whatever stakes he can muster, and then he will find a way to make more money, and lose it back.
All of us who gamble know what masochism is. We know that smart poker is about controlling the risk of pain, mad gambling is about abandoning yourself to it. For Mr Big, that is the strongest attraction. This is how he releases the darkness from his soul and trepans the whispering spirits from his brain.”

After our breakfast we took a walk down the Strip along the party pit, the Venetian and Palazzo down to the Wynn. We played some cash game until he went home to bed. He came back later for 5 minutes that evening to check on my tournament progress and then I never saw him again.

We stayed in touch though and I offered him a time-out from that Vegas poker life and to come over and visit me in Europe for a proper beak from it all. Being a gambler myself though, I would BET on it that he will not be getting his passport and taking some of the money that he would usually shove down the casinos’ throats and buy a plane ticket out of there.

And there I am again…ooooh so picky when it comes to men… Finally finding someone to find interest in and once again it probably will be a struggle or not lead anywhere…

We all know masochism…

OK, back to the Harrah’s poker room. I had played a couple of cash game sessions and also tried the $60 donkament (which I chopped 4 ways in the end). It was a profitable poker room for me. And had I found out about the $5k freeroll earlier I might have played here more often.

Here is the result of my hours at Harrah‘s:
  • Poker room quality (0-10): 6 – the room is dark with huge pop art photos of random poker legends on the wall. It all feels a little soul-less in here. Staff is friendly and mostly good though.
  • Comps: $1/hour
  • Promos: Mini Bad Beat, High Hand Boni und Freeroll
  • Player’s Card: Total Rewards
  • Cash Game Hours: 9.11 (4 winning sessions, 1 losing session)
  • Cash Game Profit: $393
  • Tournament Hours: 3.31
  • Tournament Profit: $270
  • Total Profit: $663 + 1 almost romance

The next card room is the Imperial Palace. As this has been changed dramatically though and I don’t have much to say about it, the next blog will probably be about 2 card rooms.

Card Room Crawl – The Real Deal: Summary Blog Part 6 (Imperial Palace) - Tue Oct 02, 2012, 06:37 AM
PSO-Davina Darr's Avatar
Since: Sep 2012
Posts: 20
Imperial Palace

As I think I have mentioned earlier that this was my Vegas home for the most part of my stay. Unfortunately the Imperial Palace is a construction site all around. The O’Sheas casino, that had been next door has been demolished and from my window I had a premium view of the “Linq Project” construction. The world’s biggest observation wheel though was around the corner. It was interesting to see the foundations being set up over the time.
Also in general it seemed like they were working in super speed. I could see progress every day…and also hear it very often at 5 in the morning…meh.

This is where you once could play Beer Pong on sticky floors
while leprechauns served you green shots right from the bottle straight into your mouth!

Trying to keep business alive with super cheap rooms and “construction” offers…

It will be interesting to see the progress or maybe even the opening of the Linq Project next year.

…and it remains to be seen if Imperial Palace will still be standing then…

A couple of years ago when I had stayed at the IP as well, I had loved their poker room! It was directly in the entrance area and had so many passers-by that were usually in a party mood and drunk.
The staff knew my name after only a few days and put me on the $1/$2 waiting list as soon as they saw me getting out of the elevator.

Because of the construction chaos though the poker room has been relocated to the 2nd floor. NOBODY accidentally walks by here and the desperate announcements about tourneys or new cash game tables didn’t work either. The room is dead.

The only time I played here I took part in one of the $60 donkaments: $40 Buy-in, 1x$10 Rebuy, 1x$10 Addon. The quality of the players was unbelievably bad. I survived the crapshoot to the break, had a cigarette at a slot machine, won $230 and didn’t feel too bad when I bubbled the tournament.

I had no desire whatsoever to try playing here again. I really do hope this poker room will see better times in the future…provided the casino will still be standing.

Bye bye, IP?

Here is the result of my hour(s) at Imperial Palace:
  • Poker Room Quality (0-10): 3 – the room is located so far from everything else that it feels like playing in a storage room. There are no tables going most of the time and the tourneys (if they happen) are basically one table S&Gs with re-entries and alternates.
  • Comps: $1 pro Std.
  • Promos: High Hand Boni, limited Aces and Kings cracked
  • Player’s Card: Total Rewards
  • Hours Cash Game: 0
  • Cash Game Profit: $0
  • Hours Tournament: 1:06
  • Tournament Profit: -$60
  • Total Profit: -$60

I didn’t play Caesars during this trip, as I don’t like this poker room very much. O’Sheas – and so it’s so called “Strip Poker” - is gone, so the next casino on my way South is the off-Strip Rio.

Card Room Crawl – The Real Deal: Summary Blog Part 7 (Rio) - Tue Oct 02, 2012, 06:38 AM
PSO-Davina Darr's Avatar
Since: Sep 2012
Posts: 20
Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino

This was the first time I had been in Las Vegas without the World Series of Poker being on at the same time. Nevertheless I decided to stroll along the holy hallways of the Rio Convention Center to see it in a completely different look this time.

For a couple of days the Star Trek Convention was held here. I had heard a lot about this and although I am not a Star Trek fan I really wanted to see crazy Trekkies in Klingon costumes and Spock ears.

The Pavillion Room that I only know stuffed with poker tables, the bracelet ceremony stage and the soothing rustle of thousands of poker chips, was now a gigantic cinema that showed Star Trek episodes around the clock it seemed. You needed a wristband though to enter and the price they charged was a little too high for the 15 minutes I gave this little visit. So I just continued walking down the halls that are usually full of poker players and WSOP logos all over the place and walked by people in funny outfits instead. I took some quick paparazzi photos of these scenes…

The Amazon Room was full of stalls and stands selling all kinds of Star Trek memorabilia and other stuff. I couldn’t walk in without the wristband…but from outside I though I heard the sound of chips being ruffled between the hands of hundreds of poker players…but that was just imagination.

That’s all I could and wanted to see so I made my way back to the casino floor and the poker room.

I don’t like the Rio poker room. I can’t tell exactly why…somehow the atmosphere doesn’t feel right. Next to the poker room is the so-called “hooker bar” (as I have learned from Pauly McGuire’s book Lost Vegas) and in front of it stands an orignal WSOP final table just to have a look at. At exactly this spot I was playing a drunk poker game in 2009 after I busted from my first and only WSOP event – a $2000 Buy-In NL Hold’em – with other German bust-outs. That was the longest I had ever played here.

This time I didn’t play much either. Two sessions added up to not even an hour.

The poker room offers a $5000 freeroll for that, in order to participate, you have to play 15 hours per week. This makes it very popular to mainly locals as the Rio is a little too far off the Strip.

Here is the result of my hour(s) at the Rio:
  • Poker Room Quality (0-10): 5
  • Comps: $1-$3/Hour
  • Promos: High Hand Boni, Bad Beat, Freeroll, cash drawings
  • Player’s Card: Total Rewards
  • Hours Cash Game: 0:58
  • Profit Cash Game: $43
  • Hours Tournament: 0
  • Profit Tournament: $0
  • Total Profit: $43

And we’re going back to the busy Strip. The next poker room is the Flamingo.

Card Room Crawl – The Real Deal: Summary Blog Part 8 (Flamingo) - Tue Oct 02, 2012, 06:39 AM
PSO-Davina Darr's Avatar
Since: Sep 2012
Posts: 20
Flamingo Hotel & Casino

During my previous visits I had played here quite a lot. Especially when I had stayed at the Imperial Palace in 2010. There are so many tourists here that have no clue and are drunk. The central location of this casino helps a lot. Also they have a lot of High Hand and Bad Beat kind of promotions and 2 weekly $2000 freerolls.
So it actually makes sense to try and get those hours together.

Unfortunately this poker room turned out to be my nemesis on this trip. Specifically those drunk tourists that did not have a clue fleeced me several times with “I know I shouldn’t have called that, but I really had a good feeling about this!” or “I knew you had aces but I just wanted to gamble with 72…sorry it hit!”

So exactly those players you want to have at the table broke my neck a few times too often and I stayed away from the Flamingo like a beaten dog.

The poker room itself is quite alright. It’s right at the entrance from the Strip next to a bar and a deli. Staff is friendly and mainly skilled. Two things annoyed me quite a bit here: the tables are crammed in quite a lot, it’s difficult to move around, and it’s freezing cold!

People actually went outside on the Strip to warm up in tournament or general cigarette breaks. It’s ridiculous!

Here is the sad result of my hours at Flamingo:
  • Poker Room Quality (0-10): 7 – good mix of locals and tourists
  • Comps: $1 per hour
  • Promos: High Hand Boni, Bad Beat, Freerolls
  • Player’s Card: Total Rewards
  • Hours Cash Game: 30:30 (1 winning session, 5 loosing sessions)
  • Profit Cash Game: -$1058
  • Hours Tournament: 5:03
  • Profit Tournament: $0
  • Total Profit: -$1058

When you leave the Flamingo and turn left you get to Bill’s Gambling Hall right next door. Another Caesar’s casino. I didn’t play there on this trip though but walked on a little to Bally’s, which also belongs to Caesar’s.

Basically the center East side of the Strip from Harrah’s over Imperial Palace, Flamingo, Bill’s, Bally’s, Paris and Planet Hollywood is all Caesar’s Entertainment. The new Linq Project will be the center piece of it all…

Card Room Crawl – The Real Deal: Summary Blog Part 9 (Bally’s) - Tue Oct 02, 2012, 06:40 AM
PSO-Davina Darr's Avatar
Since: Sep 2012
Posts: 20
Bally’s Hotel & Casino

OK, this will be a very short blog article.
To make it a little more interesting I will add 2 videos that I had recorded for my video blog, but never published. They aren’t very good but give some nice Vegas impressions.

The first video is me on the way in the taxi from Excalibur to Flamingo to play the freeroll on my 4th day or so in Vegas and the second video is me walking from Flamingo to Bally’s trying to give an update without people thinking I’m a little crazy…

Heh….little did I know that I will spend a lot more time at Luxor and Excalibur in the end anyway… *sigh*

Right..and this was my only visit at Bally’s in Vegas. The poker room is in the middle of noisy slots and I really didn’t feel very comfortable here.

Here is the result of my hours at Bally‘s:
  • Poker Room Quality (0-10): 5 – too loud, good staff as far as I could see, good mix of locals and tourists
  • Comps: $1/hour
  • Promos: jackpot based promos, didn’t see much infos
  • Player’s Card: Total Rewards
  • Hours Cash Game: 1:32
  • Profit Cash Game: -$100
  • Hours Tournament: 0
  • Profit Tournament: $0
  • Total Profit: -$100
Once again I fell victim of a gambler who just managed to hit his card and one stack down I left and walked over through the connected walkways to Paris for some good food.

On my real trip I then walked on to play at Planet Hollywood (you have to go outside into the heat though for this.

On this blog trip down the Strip the next stop will be Bellagio though.

Card Room Crawl – The Real Deal: Summary Blog Part 10 (Bellagio) - Tue Oct 02, 2012, 06:41 AM
PSO-Davina Darr's Avatar
Since: Sep 2012
Posts: 20

The Bellagio is still very impressive. The big lake in front of the curved building with its famous fountains, the huge glass sculpture ceiling in the hotel lobby, the richness in detail wherever you look…

Sorry…just a crappy screenshot from my videos…

I had asked myself before my session here why it was that I didn’t like this place though. When I arrived at the poker room and interacted with the staff I realized what it was. The people working here are almost exclusively arrogant and unfriendly. This starts with the floor people, continues with the dealers and ends with the waitresses.

When I sat down at 8:00 in the morning not only were there players left from the night before but also all kinds of garbage under the table…racks, water bottles, napkins…I could hardly put my feet down on the floor. When I called and asked for them to clean it up I was treated with a look of incomprehension. They did eventually get someone to tidy it up but I still felt those looks.

Really? I’m the customer and I think I can ask for an environment without used napkins and empty bottles snuggling up against my feet.
The tables are quite small but there was a lot of room between the tables, which was pleasant (I think during WSOP times there is not so much space available as it’s more busy). I really liked the chips. I would say they are the ones of best quality in Vegas. Even more surprising that I forgot to bring one as a souvenir…

I played a while without success and decided to enjoy the $17 breakfast buffet (unbeatable price imo).

Here is the result of my hours at the Bellagio:
  • Poker Room Quality (0-10): 7 – separated from the rest of the casino it feels quite pleasant to sit in this poker room. The colours are bright and friendly. No free WiFi.
  • Comps: $1/hour
  • Promos: none
  • Player’s Card: MLife
  • Hours Cash Game: 2:00
  • Profit Cash Game: -$40
  • Hours Tournament: 0
  • Profit Tournament: $0
  • Total Profit: -$40

After a little longer walk you get back to the Strip and directly opposite is the entrance to Planet Hollywood.

Card Room Crawl – The Real Deal: Summary Blog Part 11 (Planet Hollywood) - Tue Oct 02, 2012, 06:42 AM
PSO-Davina Darr's Avatar
Since: Sep 2012
Posts: 20
Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino

This poker room was suggested to me several times. I only had a faint memory from my first Vegas visit in 2008 when I visited all kinds of casinos with two Bavarian cowboys (…true story!). I remembered this poker room on an elevated level in the middle of the casino. There was a noisy bar next to it and I actually didn’t play. If I want to have noise around me then I might as well play slots…

…taken from the Planet Hollywood website
Well, nowadays the poker room has it’s own area a bit to the side. Still next to a noisy bar and noisy video poker machines (…people, pleeeeeaaaase press the damn button when you have won and NOT listen to every single DING-DING-DING for every single cent? Thank you!).

A BIG drawback here is that you don’t have free WiFi and not even proper mobile reception. Drunk people are still there en mass so it can still be very profitable to play here. Also a BIG plus is that “Earl of Sandwich” is just around the corner! And that’s awesome!

The main reason this poker room gained some popularity recently (next to drunk tourists) are the daily tournaments with guarantees. That was reason enough for me to come over as well and give it a go. I’m a tournament player after all so why not give it a go?!

The Buy-In is $70 with a guaranteed prize pool of $2500 and a guaranteed first prize of $1500. In most cases these tourneys seem to have overlays.

So, yeah. I played one, fought my way through the 44 players, made it to the final 3 and chopped for $700 each! Sweet!

For the first hour a guy was sitting next to me that I had seen on TV before. A blind man. His name is Hal Lubarsky. How does a blind man play poker you ask? Well, in his case an exception is made and he actually has a friend (or a man he pays…or both) who tells him all the action at the table and tells him his cards. Hal then takes his neatly stacked chips and makes his bets accordingly. I find it very impressive to play live poker without all the visual benefits of reads and tells etc.. There was one example when a bad player wanted to check, saw that it was only Hal against him and then bet. If he had done that against me, I would have raised him obv.. But in this case Hal folded as he couldn’t see the obvious bluff.

As impressive as this was, I got quite irritated after a while. You have to image that Hal’s “assistant” commentates on everything. A hand starts and in a monotone voice he would say something like this: “9 players to the hand. Button on 2. One, two three [which meant how many people to act before him]. 6 is on, fold, it’s on you…” etc. The constant commentating confused me a little, but soon the table was broken anyway.

The cash game sessions went either very good or very bad. Next time I will have to get in some night sessions here again.

Here is the result of my hours at Planet Hollywood:
  • Poker Room Quality (0-10): 7 – Staff is capable, tables and chairs are fine (although I don’t understand why you would use tables without betting lines), the waitresses are fast and attentive…
  • Comps: $1/hour
  • Promos: High Hand Boni with progressive Royal Flush jackpots (the one in clubs was over $6000!)
  • Player’s Card: Total Rewards
  • Hours Cash Game: 9:16
  • Profit Cash Game: -$228
  • Hours Tournament: 3:17
  • Profit Tournament: $630
  • Total Profit: $402

A little walk through the casino then gets you back to the Strip and you can take one of the bridges to the other side and to the impressive City Center. Next Stop: the probably best and most popular poker room in Vegas, Aria.

Card Room Crawl – The Real Deal: Summary Blog Part 12 (Aria) - Tue Oct 02, 2012, 06:44 AM
PSO-Davina Darr's Avatar
Since: Sep 2012
Posts: 20

Walking over from Planet Hollywood to Aria… North view from the bridge…

South view from the bridge…

West view from the bridge…City Center

Aria Resort Hotel & Casino

The ARIA Poker Room! Many poker players feel a near-climax-sensation when they hear this name. This poker room is by far the most impressive in town and probably one (if not THE) best in the world.

Artistic gold card designs frame the room from all sides, there are roughly 24 tables and the color scheme is warm and inviting.

Everything is of high quality. The super comfortable chairs even lean back and you can relax when not in a hand and watch the action. There is free WiFi.

…photo from the Aria website…

A dream you would think. But before I let you get off on it I need to number the negative things.

  • While at the Bellagio it’s the staff being arrogant and stuck-up at the Aria it’s the players! …because they play at the ARIA, understand? THE ARIA!!!
    It feels like everyone in the room is not allowed to have a good time as this poker room is high class and if you just do as much as smile you will be given the eye that asks you to please leave and play at the Flamingo! It’s not about intimidation. I don’t care about that. It’s about having your damn nose up in the sky just because you place your ass on an ARIA poker room chair!
  • What is wrong with cup holders anyway? I already mentioned this in my Wynn review. Why do you only use a napkin to protect your tables from drink spills? At least at the Wynn there is an abundance of little tables to place your drinks on. At the ARIA…not so much.
  • Food service. Again. How the hell can it take up to an hour to get your food? It makes more sense then to take your chips, cash out, have a little break, move your legs to a restaurant, have some healthy food and get back. Most tables can’t be THAT good to almost starve… (although…what do I know? …there have been players peeing their pants because they didn’t want to stand up…)
  • Waiting list. This also takes far too long. It’s one of the main points most ARIA players complain about. It can take forever to get your seat. Even in a simple $1/$3 game. Advice: call ahead and let them put your name on the list while you make your way to the City Center
  • Fragrance. WTF? I know I am a very sensitive person as I am allergic against…well, everything, but seriously…WTF? I can’t go to the Venetian/Palazzo anymore because their obsession with their special perfume they pump into the air-conditioning system is getting out of hand. And the ARIA uses a bit less aggressive vanilla kind of smell. It’s fine most of the time and I just get a slight tingle in my nose. But one morning I stayed until 5am and that seems to be the time they refresh their fragrance tanks…the smell got so strong that while coughing and sneezing I had to stumble out of the casino. Again: WTF?

Apparently the tournaments are supposed to be real good here, but I didn’t get the chance to play one…next time.
Cash Games were not going well for me. Tables are tough and there are almost no weak spots (besides me? ).

The most exciting part here is that you play with a lot of big names. Obviously don’t be too interested in the stars as you will get the Flamingo look again. Just occasionally let your eyes wander around the room and “Ivey’s Room” and just happen to stare at the likes of Jennifer Harman, Jean-Robert Bellande, Gavin Smith, Huck Seed or David Benyamine.

It definitely feels special to sit in the same room and (sort of) play the same game as these guys. But I’m keeping my nose down. It doesn’t mean I play better just because I breathe the same air… remember that, ARIA players!

Here is the result of my hours at Aria:
  • Poker Room Quality (0-10): 8 – The Wynn with it’s table outlets and a more stable WiFi wins this battle for me. Also no annoying perfume and shorter waiting times. So, only 8 points for the ARIA.
  • Comps: $2/hour
  • Promos: none
  • Player’s Card: MLife
  • Hours Cash Game: 9:49 (2 winning sessions, 2 losing sessions)
  • Profit Cash Game: -$465
  • Hours Tournament: 0
  • Profit Tournament: $0
  • Total Profit: -$465

Next stop: MGM.

Card Room Crawl – The Real Deal: Summary Blog Part 13 (MGM) - Tue Oct 02, 2012, 06:44 AM
PSO-Davina Darr's Avatar
Since: Sep 2012
Posts: 20
MGM Grand Hotel & Casino

The MGM poker room was once one of my favorites in the past. Right opposite of the Lion Habitat, tourists could choose between watching those big wild cats on the one side or us sharks and fish on the other. It was also just cool to sit at your poker table while watching real lions being fed. …only in Vegas!

Now everything is under construction. I assume things will be back as they were but for now there is no Lion Habitat and the poker room feels like a storage facility with dozens of unplugged slot machines standing around. At least it’s close to the Emergency Exit doors…

I didn’t play much here so there is not much to report really. When I was here in July I made quads twice in one session and was disappointed to find out that there are no high hand bonuses. This room would need a promotion like this as it’s not very inviting in it’s dark corner with bad phone reception and no WiFi.

Unfortunately I have missed the celebrity tournament which happens once in a while with actor and comedian Brad Garrett (widely known through “Everybody loves Raymond”).

During August I only gave this poker room two short chances, but I just didn’t feel comfortable here.

Here’s the result of my hour at the MGM:

  • Poker Room Quality (0-10): 5 – no, WiFi, bad mobile reception, lack of atmosphere and somehow bored staff.
  • Comps: $1/hour
  • Promos: none
  • Player’s Card: MLife
  • Hours Cash Game: 0:59 (1 winning session, 1 losing session)
  • Profit Cash Game: -$12
  • Hours Tournament: 0
  • Profit Tournament: $0
  • Total Profit: -$12

Before we continue on our trip down the Strip we will take a little detour to the Orleans. I would love to also take a detour to the Hard Rock Hotel, but the awesome poker room that I liked so much, is gone…moved to a different place and not being awesome anymore at all. I was standing in front of it, looked around, sighed and left.

So, yeah..Orleans next…

Card Room Crawl – The Real Deal: Summary Blog Part 14 (The Orleans) - Tue Oct 02, 2012, 06:45 AM
PSO-Davina Darr's Avatar
Since: Sep 2012
Posts: 20

The $1 chips are so ugly that I begged a dealer to sell me one of the bright and colourful $3 rake chips!
The Orleans Hotel & Casino

The Orleans is West of the Strip and is especially popular with the locals. It is one of the older establishments and everything has a bit of a 70s feel to it. Many poker rooms have this unexplainable love for the colour brown, but if you mix it with beige the whole things seems as if no interior designer had laid hands on this for a loooong time. As the inventory also the players are a little older.

I paid the Orleans a couple of visits, as every Friday the biggest regular tournament in town is hosted here – a simple $125 tournament with quite a good structure. Every week there are around 300 people playing it and so it’s $6000-$7000 for first place. That’s quite alright.

In total I played 3 tourneys here. Two of those mentioned above and one HORSE tourney. But I made the money in the cash games really (means, I financed the tournaments through it).

The Orleans definitely has the most annoying waitresses in town! It might be that due to bad hearing of most of the elderly players the waitresses use these loud and squeaky voices, but those with perfect hearing go crazy after a short while from all the “Cocktails? Cocktails? Cocktails? Cocktails? Cocktails? Cocktails? Cocktails? Cocktails? Cocktails? Cocktails? Cocktails? Cocktails? Cocktails? Cocktails? Coooooooooocktaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiils?????” It could also be that they are all on drugs…who knows…

Here is the result of my hours at The Orleans:

  • Poker Room Quality (0-10): 4 – no WiFi, basically no mobile reception, seedy chips, chairs and tables, no good atmosphere and remoteness from the Strip. On the positive side: the games are good and the food court is right next to the poker room with different fast food on offer.
  • Comps: $1.25/hour
  • Promos: changing all the time… Bad Beat Jackpots, Splash The Pot
  • Player’s Card: B Connected
  • Hours Cash Game: 3:25 (2 winning session)
  • Profit Cash Game: $337
  • Hours Tournament: 12:35
  • Profit Tournament: -$350
  • Total Profit: -$13

Back to the Strip and a short and actually quite pointless presentation of the Tropicana poker room (it has been closed shortly after I left)…

Card Room Crawl – The Real Deal: Summary Blog Part 15 (Tropicana) - Tue Oct 02, 2012, 06:46 AM
PSO-Davina Darr's Avatar
Since: Sep 2012
Posts: 20
Tropicana Hotel & Casino

Well, it doesn’t make too much sense now anymore to give you a Tropicana Poker Room review as this had been shut down only shortly after I left Vegas. I will tell you about it anyway and publish a second blog today to make up for it.

So, originally during my August stay I had not planned at all to play here as the room was dead. It was a nice room, quietly situated next to the Sports Book….and a little hidden. Most people didn’t even know that there WAS a poker room at all.

Jamie Gold had been the “face” of this room. It was called the “Jamie Gold” room in the beginning and he actually played here quite often himself. For whatever reason the cooperation had been cancelled though earlier this year.

The only reason I actually ended up playing a session here was because my flight home had been delayed one day. Virgin Atlantic had booked all passengers into the Tropicana, paid for dinner and breakfast and offered a free shuttle to the airport. That was literally: Winner, winner, chicken dinner! A free day in Vegas. Awesome!

When I let the world know about my extra day on Facebook and stay at the Tropicana I was informed that there in an interesting Mixed Game Monday evenings. I am not that good in all those variants that are not Hold’em or Omaha, but I can obviously play them all. So I though “Meh…why not!”.

Unfortuantely that was again the only table running and the atmosphere in the group wasn’t too nice. Everybody seemed to know each other and they didn’t really make me feel welcome at the table. First “Crazy Pineapple 8 or better” broke my neck a little, I worked my way back up in Baduci. I stood up with $19 losses as I just simply did not enjoy myself.

It’s no surprise that the room is gone now. They haven’t done a hell lot to promote it right…and Jamie Gold was a questionable choice anyway…

Here is the result of my 37 minutes at the Tropicana:

  • Poker Room Quality (0-10): 5 – free WiFi, pleasant atmosphere, but a hell lot of tumbling weed
  • Comps: $1/hour
  • Promos: High Hand, Cash Drawings, Rakeback
  • Player’s Card: Trop Plus
  • Hours Cash Game: 0:37
  • Profit Cash Game: -$19
  • Hours Tournament: 0
  • Profit Tournament: $0
  • Total Profit: -$19

Right opposite is the Excalibur where I had stayed the first week of my trip.

Card Room Crawl – The Real Deal: Summary Blog Part 16 (Excalibur) - Tue Oct 02, 2012, 06:47 AM
PSO-Davina Darr's Avatar
Since: Sep 2012
Posts: 20
Excalibur Hotel & Casino

This was my home for the first week of my stay. And on the one hand (I have mainly played here and at Luxor) I should have stayed here the whole trip and on the other (resort fee and remoteness from everything else) I shouldn’t have…

The Excalibur is connected with the Luxor by a tunnel with automatic walkways which makes jumping from one room to the other quite easy.

View from my room

The poker room is at one of the 4 ends of the Excalibur cross… every time I entered the casino from one of the 4 sides I got completely lost and didn’t know where I was. No idea how then manage this…but it can’t be that difficult, can it? (Maybe I got so confused because of the constant presence of the Thunder From Down Under boys ).

Yes, I went to see the show! It was so much fun. Will definitely do it again.

The specialty of the Excalibur poker room is “the wheel”. For High Hands and Aces Cracked you can go and spin the wheel for a special prize between $20 and $100. There are Triples and Doubles and +Spins etc which gives you the chance to increase your bonus. This was quite rare though. The wheel excited a lot of people. I’ve never seen a woman clapping her hands in joy when loosing aces just because she can spin the wheel. Myself I once lost $75 with cracked aces and won exactly this amount back on the wheel. That was quite good.

In the evenings and especially at weekends this room can get quite loud. Not just because of drunken people but also because of the Lynyrd Skynyrd bar that offers karaoke and live music.

It’s mostly $1/$2 NLHE and $2-$6 spread limit tables on offer. For those of you that don’t know spread limit, in every betting round you can only bet an amount between $2 and $6 in this case.

The comps are only available for a few restaurants what I find a little disappointing. They should really make sure to offer the whole range of restaurants…maybe even all MGM properties…

Dealers were often quite bad and floor staff relatively unfriendly.
One thing surprised me big time though! The day before I was to check out from the Excalibur I had a message on my phone in my room that said I should contact the poker room as they owe me money. I absolutely couldn’t think of what they were talking about but obviously went down to see what money they owed me. It turned out that on my first night here (probably still jetlagged) I had cashed out around $300 but had only received $200. They noticed then that they had $100 too much in their register that night and went through all the video footage from the “eye in the sky” to find out who was paid too little. They saw me probably half asleep grabbing the money without counting and walking away. Then obviously they found out who I was from my MLife card check in at the table and also found out I was staying at the Excalibur and made sure I was returned the missing $100. That was quite incredible imo.

And just to clarify: I usually always pay attention when they count the money in front of me and always tip the guy $1. I must have been jetlagged as I had only arrived that afternoon…

Well, I liked playing here in general. I liked the atmosphere and I met a lot of fun people. One of them for example was a guy from San Diego who was half Irish, half Mexican. His mom called him “my little Green Bean”… it was hilarious.

Here is the result of my hours at the Excalibur:

  • Poker Room Quality (0-10): 7 – free WiFi, party atmosphere that is bearable, bad players, fun promos.
  • Comps: $1/hour
  • Promos: High Hand & Aces Cracked Wheel, „Deuces never Loses”
  • Player’s Card: MLife
  • Hours Cash Game: 31:36 (5 winning sessions, 6 losing sessions)
  • Profit Cash Game: $22
  • Hours Tournament: 1:42
  • Profit Tournament: -$35
  • Total Profit: -$13

Unbelievable how I can actually get out of this room breakeven after over 30 hours of play (reflects the whole trip quite well…meh).

But let’s take the walkway along the food court over to the Luxor. The place where I played most during this trip.

Card Room Crawl – The Real Deal: Summary Blog Part 17 (Luxor) - Tue Oct 02, 2012, 06:48 AM
PSO-Davina Darr's Avatar
Since: Sep 2012
Posts: 20
Luxor Hotel & Casino

Yes, those are people up there on top of the pyramid – probably working on the Sky Beam (or saving Criss Angel – worst show ever btw…DON’T GO!).

If you should take a taxi to the Luxor Poker Room it is recommended to ask the driver to drop you off at the Tower entrance as opposed to the pyramid entrance. That way you are right at the poker room and avoid walking through the usually very crowded hotel lobby.

Even though this room has nothing special to it, it became one of my favourites. There is the exciting High Hand Bonus Wall, many TVs, funny often drunk players and capable staff (with only 2 exceptions).

I made a lot of friends here and met a lot of interesting characters: a couple of German guys I played a lot with and stayed in touch, a woman that provides massages (with happy ending), a male stripper, a Federal Agent who chases Mexican immigrants at the border (I though he was a boxer when I saw all the bruises on his arms, but he showed me his badge), a guy that looked like “the dude” with his poodle (yes, at the table), the founder of a fashion label from Atlantic City, a friend of Surinder Sunar who told me they once flew to the Isle of Man just to jump into the water at the Fairy Bridge for good luck…and many more. I LOVE live poker for this!

As at the Wynn they knew me after a short while and made me feel welcome.

The Luxor poker room was also the place where I broke a personal record: a 17 hour poker session. It had started at the Orleans with a tournament and in total I played 12 at the Luxor then. Unfortunately with $600 losses. I was so unlucky, that in the end I just used my comps for a free breakfast and left after the next bad beat to go “home” to Imperial Palace.

Insider Tip: opposite of the poker room is the High Stakes Slots area. The toilets (washrooms, bathrooms, restrooms or however you crazy English speakers call them…) here are much cleaner than the normal once just a little further away. In the 40 hours I have played in this room I used these quite often and nobody ever stopped me…

…definitely +EV imo…

Here is the result of my hours at the Luxor:

  • Poker Room Quality (0-10): 7 – free WiFi, not too annoying party atmosphere with a lot of bad players, fun promos.
  • Comps: $1/hour
  • Promos: High Hand Bonus Wand
  • Player’s Card: MLife
  • Hours Cash Game: 43:30 (7 winning sessions, 3 losing sessions)
  • Profit Cash Game: $500
  • Hours Tournament: 0
  • Profit Tournament: $0
  • Total Profit: $500

Excalibur, Luxor and Mandalay Bay are all connected with a Monorail. This doesn’t cost anything here and makes it easy to get from one MGM property to the other. You can also walk. All three casinos are connected by shopping areas and food courts.

The way to the Monorail
Next and last stop on my way down the Strip will be the Mandalay Bay.

Card Room Crawl – The Real Deal: Summary Blog Part 18 (Mandalay Bay) - Tue Oct 02, 2012, 06:49 AM
PSO-Davina Darr's Avatar
Since: Sep 2012
Posts: 20
Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino

I only really had one proper session here. For one reason: Rock n Roll!!!

KISS and Mötley Crüe played here on 11th August. But not just that. Also Lostprophets, All American Rejects and the awesome Steel Panther. So the house was full of rockers! Who would I be if I was missing on this day?

I dolled up in a sexy black dress and heels and looked forward to a day at the poker tables with tattooed, pierced and leather-wearing men while finishing the night by watching Steel Panther (as almost every time I am in Vegas).

Unfortunately things didn’t go the way I had hoped they would. In German you would say “Erstens kommt es anders und zweitens als man denkt!”…but this is almost impossible to translate…
First of all there were almost no rockers at all at the poker tables.

Am I the only rock fan who also loves poker? Naaaa….can’t be.

I watched the KISS fans in their freaky outfits walk by and to the gig. Then it was quiet for a while. After a couple of hours the freaky rock fans flooded back in to the casino and a couple of them got stuck in the poker room. It happened exactly what we were waiting for. The guys were drunk, completely psyched from the concert and played bad. Once again I just got really really unlucky against them and hadn’t I cashed in the donkament earlier I would have been really depressed.

It didn’t help my mood either that nobody wanted to go with me to see Steel Panther. And I really didn’t want to go alone.

All in all this poker room is a good place to play. The ceilings are high, the colours are light, a nice atmosphere with many loaded tourists.

Here is the result of my hours at Mandalay Bay:

  • Poker Room Quality (0-10): 7 – no WiFi, dealers are – despite there age-proven experience – not very good
  • Comps: $1/hour (…it uses the very modern system of filing cards!)
  • Promos: High Hand Boni
  • Player’s Card: MLife
  • Hours Cash Game: 09:05 (2 losing sessions)
  • Profit Cash Game: -$316
  • Hours Tournament: 1:24
  • Profit Tournament: $200
  • Total Profit: -$116

So there we go. The Mandalay Bay is the last casino that I had visited going South. I almost went to South Point, but unfortunately we drove by by accident. Well, there is always a “next time”.

The next and last part of this summary blog will be the overall summary of the trip and I will publish it tomorrow!

Card Room Crawl – The Real Deal: Summary Blog Part 19 (Conclusion) - Tue Oct 02, 2012, 06:51 AM
PSO-Davina Darr's Avatar
Since: Sep 2012
Posts: 20

And that was it. Over all this is the result of my hours, days and weeks in Las Vegas:

  • Hours Cash Game: 202:53 (31 winning sessions, 36 losing sessions)
  • Profit Cash Game: -$1235
  • Hours Tournament: 39:31
  • Profit Tournament: $450
  • Total Profit: -$785

PokerJournal screen shot of my Las Vegas Card Room Crawl

This teaches me several things:

  • I am a break-even player. It says -$785, that means at 243 hours of play only -$3.2 per hour. This amount was surely already spent by me for drink tips alone (I had paid these mainly from my chips and didn’t get into the habit of noting these down in Poker Journal. On top of it is the rake and dealer tips. So yes, break even…but I don’t have that money really in my pocket… Next time I will note down the drink tips.
  • Basically I am incapable at this point to make a living at the $1/$2 and $1/$3 tables. But not many are anyway. I was hoping to make the jump to $2/$5, but I never got the chance as the grind-up didn’t happen…
  • If I will try it again some day (and I probably will) I will do it with a bigger bankroll and will then hopefully make my way to the $2/$5 tables as well. The first couple of bad sessions just hurt me far too much and dampened my spirits…
  • Next time I will also rent an apartment and a car to be more flexible in table selection. I needed a while to figure out which casinos I feel most comfortable in and to get to know many of the regulars. And once I was in a poker room I was reluctant to leave again as taxi would have meant wasting money and walking through the heat wasting time.
  • I am better live than I am online
  • And probably the most important thing: I always was a better tournament player and I probably should stick with it. Next time (when I will take a bigger bankroll) I will put more weight on tourneys and only play cash games to fill the gaps.

The numbers

243 hours of poker means I have played an average of 8.38 hours of poker every day. If you consider that I spent 2 days sick in bed and spent half a day at Lake Mead and Hoover Dam the average of poker day hours increases to 9.1.

That is a hell lot of card play! And I have to admit: I am not done yet!


In the beginning I was concerned that the lack of a daily routine will cause problems for me, but every day was filled with new experiences and so it didn’t affect me at all. I asked myself how long I would be surviving in this life in this city without going completely crazy.

Despite the high amount of hours I have spent playing I tried get some time off once in a while: a birthday party, Thunder From Down Under show, half an excursion day, an evening in my favourite bar Don’t Tell Mama and several restaurant visits.

The cold (AFTER a visit in the desert!) was an unscheduled time-out that annoyed me a lot, but you can’t do much against these things happening unfortunately. After all it was the first time I ever had a cold in my 6 Vegas visits. That is almost a miracle.


Side note: the promotions can all be different today. Casinos often change their promos on a monthly basis. The best thing is to call them before your trip to Vegas and ask about current promos. Obviously you can check their websites as well, but many casinos neglect their poker room websites.

I hope you enjoyed my trip report! Maybe you want to try something like that yourself some day. I am happy to give some advice. Feel free to contact me on Facebook or Twitter.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading!


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