After the great OUTDOORS of Colorado.. wow… it was time for the great INDOORS of Las Vegas.
Summer is poker season in Las Vegas and the city is flooded with all these people who dream of becoming the poker champion of the world. Including me. It’s 100 degrees F every day, but very dry heat. Still, you don’t want to be out in it, unless you are near a pool. They had a heat wave at one stage where the maximum was around 115 for the whole week!
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is held at the Rio, which is off the strip (Las Vegas Boulevard) but is so big that some people never venture out of it while the poker action is on. Jenny and I did of course because there is far more to life than poker ! And besides, the room-rates go up so much at The Rio on the weekends that it’s too expensive to stay there. So we spread ourselves around the various casinos, picking up the best bargains on offer. And there are certainly lots of cheap rooms! Not wanting to be outdone by the Rio, many of the other casinos have their own poker tournament series and cash games as well, so we were never short of some action, be it at the Venetian, the Golden Nugget, Binions, Caesars, the Aria, or wherever.
Altogether we stayed in 6 different hotels during our time in Vegas, giving us a different insight at each new place. For example at the amazing Fremont St you would see people from all over the world, rich or poor dancing with the street kids & homeless and having the time of their lives. We were particularly taken by the cute Mexican, 3 year old break dancer, who had all the attitude of a polished performer with head spins included. He earned his parents a lot more $$ than they’d make on the slots.
There are plenty of attractions around town. There are heaps of fantastic shows to choose from. Restaurants for all price ranges. Buffets galore. Free slot play, although this is much harder to find compared to our last visit. Swimming pools, gymnasiums, shops, museums. Water shows at The Bellagio. Volcanic eruptions at The Mirage. Carnevale type performances and gondolas at The Venetian. Circus acts at Circus Circus and a roller coaster at New York New York. Buskers everywhere. And every casino is its own little world, where you can people watch, shop, window shop, enjoy a coffee or a drink. As long as you avoid the slot machines and watch where you eat and drink, it can be great value.
Vegas attracts huge crowds, particularly on weekends, when the Americans all fly or drive in to spend some money. Our favourite area was Fremont Street, the lively downtown Las Vegas mall. It’s covered by a gigantic canopy which doubles as the world’s largest movie screen. There are stages with rock bands, dance music, every conceivable cartoon dress-up dude and four ziplines right down the centre! Every hour, on the hour, from 8pm until 2 am, they project a 10 minute colourful rock show onto the screen, eg, Queen or Bon Jovi. It also has the most interesting collection of people that you would find anywhere in the world. Buskers, dancers, exhibitionists, homeless, tourists, sales people and so on. They are a sight to behold.
A few of the highlights and memorable sights/events of our stay :
* playing in the World Series of Poker Main Event (see separate blog)
* winning $2500 in a $125 poker tournament
* seeing ‘Love,’ the Beatles Cirque du Soleil show at The Mirage. This was one of eight in Vegas we could have chosen!
* winning $750 from a single free $5 slot play we were given at The Golden Nugget
* seeing the ‘Legends of Las Vegas’ show at The Flamingo (Elvis, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and Rod Stewart)
* the buffets and restaurants
* hanging out by the pool, especially at the Golden Nugget, where they have an enormous aquarium full of sharks and other fish and the water-slide actually passes through the middle of it!
* playing cash poker games with people from all over the world, along with all the table banter!
* hanging out at the Venetian amongst gondolas and opera singers
* free drinks while I play and free food when I am done
And now for some poker highlights……….
* I had a fullhouse on the turn but was beaten by a runner runner straight flush on the river…. straight out of a tournament!
* I beat QQQ44 with 4444Q….big cash
* There was an African-American guy at our table who did the ‘Skanky Leg’ dance whenever he won a hand. When he was successful with a bluff he would throw down his weak cards and cry out, “Stole one! Stole one! Like a runaway slave!” He had everyone in fits.
* My KKKQQ could only be beaten by one possible hand, a Royal Flush, and it was! Plus he got a $505 bonus for the Royal.
* My 89 beat AA when I flopped a straight!
*My KQ beat a KJ and a K10 to win a $300 000 pot in a tournament. (This was the one I came 3rd in.) If only it was real money!
* I played 66 and flopped 6666 so the AAQQ guy couldn’t put me on a 6
* My 888 72 busted AA 872 brick brick
* My QQQQ beat AAA for a monster pot
Win, lose or draw it has all been a lot of fun and I’ve heard enough poker stories to fill yet another book. One story that a dealer told me: one of the household poker names won $85 000 in a poker tournament but then managed to lose it all within an hour playing Craps! Dumb.
As Elvis once said, “Viva Las Vegas!”