So I’m sitting here on my couch reminiscing about Vegas. It’s only been about a month since that trip, but I already have strong pangs of nostalgia from the trip, mainly because it was so… epic. Starting from the infamous craps roll to the biggest pot I’ve ever played at 4AM which just happened to be the very last hand at my very last night in Vegas to get me unstuck for he trip, it really was a pretty surreal experience. Also let’s not forget all the wonderful food we ate (literally, every single meal was good except maybe 1 or 2) and, of course, me losing my wallet at Rhino and having to go through an ordeal about not having an ID. Trips like these in general are just a nice break from the mundane routine life that we go through, and certainly Vegas was not an exception. Ironically, the day before the trip I wasn’t necessarily too excited, probably just being emo and wanting to spend the last week of 2012 pretty low key. Little did I know for what lied ahead…
It was the day of Christmas, and… I forget what I actually did this day. Maybe it will come back to me later. Ohhhh that’s right. I ended up having a late lunch/early dinner with my extended family at my aunt’s house because my parents were still in Cancun. I still needed to get back to my apartment and actually start packing for this trip. As it turns out, there was a lot of things that needed to be packed and a lot of last minute errands to be taken care of back at home before I could actually leave for Jie’s house. The plan was to pack everything, go to Jie’s house, and have Min take us to the airport at 5:30AM (solid).
I got to Jie’s house closer to 12AM, which was super late (solid moment #2). Lo and behold, as I enter Jie’s house I find none other than Minsoo Kang himself sitting on Jie’s couch with his cheesy ass grin as he is whopping Jie’s butt in NBA2K13 (speaking of which, Jie got a “notice letter” from the “community” of his condo couple days ago about an incident of profanity and obscenities being yelled at during the middle of the night. Pretty sure this may have been the night when this occurred). They are in their usual taunting matters, which they like to call “bantering,” but I know Jie is just trying to pour all his love for Min because he won’t be seeing him for the next two weeks or so. I’m just settling in watching them play, but also taking in my last moments and mapping out in my head one last time our itinerary for the trip. Get to L.A. by 10AM, rent a car, have lunch real quick at this Chinese dumpling place that Jie’s been raving about called Dim Tai Fung (ended up going twice lol), drive to Vegas by mid afternoonish and grind some until we were to pick up Tom late at night. We would stay in Vegas until the 31st and then drive down back to L.A. to celebrate New Years with some of Jie’s friends, and the last remainder of the trip would be spent on eating our little lives away.
With that in mind…. obv fall asleep around 3AM cuz that’s what we do.
We wake up at 5AM in order to catch our 9:30 flight and I’m pretty delirious but excited at the same time. Min was kind enough to drop us off and we would soon be off to board our flight. I’m always a little paranoid about TSA because of the sheer amount of money I have on me, but obv we end up just breezing through no biggies. So to save some time, long story short flight was fairly unremarkable, except for a stretch of very (and I mean VERY) strong turbulence where I literally thought ‘this is where I might ship it even before I get to Vegas’ while falling back asleep. But next thing I know when I wake up my eyes we landed just fine. We rented our luxurious Ford Focus at AVIS (where I actually bumped into an acquaintance I knew from Maryland who also happened to fly out and rent a car, unlikely, but not improbable I suppose). It was about 10:30AM by the time we got into our cars, which translated to 1:30PM EST. Considering how Jie and I haven’t eaten anything up to this point, we were starving and headed over to Dim Tai Fung.
We arrive there around 11:30AM and please someone explain to me how this soup dumpling place is already packed with hordes of people waiting OUTSIDE the restaurant. Apparently this place has two locations right next to each other and both of them were absolutely jam packed. Unfortunately, we did not get a seat until around 1:00PM, which was once again, 4:00PM EST… Safe to say I was pretty cranky because I was just soooo hungry.
Adding to the annoyance factor. Someone please explain to me why driving from L.A. to Vegas, which is known to be a roughly 4 hour drive, would take us 8 hours. EIGHT WHOLE HOURS. But the answer to that rhetorical question was simple: just too much traffic. So once again I shall cut to the chase and say we get to our destination at Cosmopolitan at 9:00PM, pretty fatigued, but nevertheless excited. Even though it’s only been 6 months since my last visit here, which was also a very very good trip, I was still getting giddy about being in Vegas. The atmosphere is really like no other.
We finaaaaaaaally check in to our rooms, which was quite nice actually. So since our plan was to get here by mid-afternoon and grind some before picking up Tom, I would honestly say that our plan worked out pretty well…not. Okay so now we only had about an hour and a half to kill, which certainly not enough time to grind unless grinding entailed getting to the B and putting our names on the waiting list just so we can see PEACE. So Jie and I did what other prudent degens would do in the exact same spot: go shoot some dice.
We head downstairs to go check it out. Jie and I start a table (one of Jie’s favorite pastimes and joys, starting craps tables) each buying for $500. We want to take it easy and set the tone right for the trip. Don’t want to end up shipping it so hard in our first encounter with the gambling gods.
So I start shooting, and to my surprise I have a somewhat decent roll. Jie’s turn, and Jie has a somewhat decent roll too, which didn’t make us much money but prob put us around even. We had little foresight as to what would happen next.
Random nag stroller probably in his 50-60’s joins us at the other side of the table. There was nothing unusual about this sight; Jie and I had plenty of people just join us when we start tables. He buys in for about $100-200, once again not an uncommon sight. Then he just starts chucking the dice: no setting the dice, no dice control, no taking his time and focusing before each throw, but literally just fucking chucking it like he just ran out of fucks to give 30 years ago. This is usually a bad sign. I would say 9,999 out of 10,000 times (yes. cuz I played for 10,000 rolls) this ends up in the shooter crapping out. However, who would’ve known this would’ve been the 1 out of 10,000 time. DUN DUN DUN.
Jie and I are wary at first, so we agree upon betting $18 each on 6 and 8 and seeing where it goes from there. $18 each. $36 total invested. About 30 minutes later, this is what was on the table: $1k on 4, $700 on 5, $300 on 6, $300 on 8, $700 on 9, and $1500 on 10. YES. WE ACTUALLY HIT THE 10 WHEN WE HAD $1,000 USD. The man just kept hitting number after number, point after point. It was literally the sickest thing I’ve seen in my craps career. When he finally crapped out, I looked at my stack and I had roughly $7,200. We, of course, insta-cashed out.
So now Jie and I are back in our room, giddy as shieeeeeeeeeeeeet because of what just happened and I just can’t stop laughing. Seriously, what just happened there? We started from $36 and somehow ended up about $6700 in 30 minutes. A great way to start the trip, most definitely. We were just chilling in the balcony with Jie having a smoke reminiscing what just happened (not much to reminisce btw because it just fucking happened an hour ago). And I took this beautiful view:
Life was good.
We finally pick up Tom at the airport, not without some minor difficulties but it was fine. Another thing Jie kept on stressing besides the Dim Tai Fung soup dumplings, was that we HAD to go to Spearmint Rhino the night we arrived to Vegas to “set the tone.” For those that don’t know, Rhino is prob the most renowned gentlemen’s club in Vegas. I’m not really into that stuff so I’m pretty whatever about it. Sure enough, we go there and it’s pretty dead inside. The promises made by Jie of girl:guy ratio being 2:1 was not going to be fulfilled that night. We end up leaving somewhat disappointed, and decide it to just call it a night, but not without high anticipations of what the next day will bring.
We wake up around 11AM and it’s a beautiful morning.
With the epic heater from craps the night before and the anticipation of getting to play some poker in the heart of Las Vegas, I was eager to start my day.
For brunch/lunch, we decide to go to Wicked Spoon just downstairs. I was overall impressed with the food, but didn’t have much of an appetite because of the anticipation ahead.
We then decide to walk around a little before actually heading to the B, which will become our sanctuary for the next couple days. I needed to buy some shoes so we decide to check out Krystal mall, which had all the higher end stores.
(Inside Krystal mall)
We stepped into LV and I actually saw a pair of shoes I was somewhat interested in, but I wanted to explore my options a bit more so opted against it for now.
We then go to the Aria to check out what games are running. And ahhhhhh the memories. They are literally flooding in to my head. Had such a good time on my first real Vegas trip here. But enough with the nostalgia, anyways, we go to the Aria poker room and it seems pretty dead. Not to worry though, we would soon take the tram over to the legendary B.
I should mention this here, the premise of this trip during this specific time was based on Jie’s “insider” info that games were supposedly very good right after Christmas. So naturally, we had high hopes that many high limit games would already be running. I was probably envisioning at least 2 $10/20s with maybe a $10/20/40 or $25/50 game. Keep in mind this is only 2PM, so I may have set the bar too high.
To our disappointment, we get to the poker room and there’s only one $10/20 game going. It looks like a pretty good game, but there were 3 of us and only one table to share. Not the most ideal situation to have 2 players you’re not going to play against to be at the same table. There was one open seat, so we had to decide which of us 3 would end up taking it. We end up drawing for it, and Tom, who happened to be at the bathroom not aware of this abysmal situation (lol), was first up, followed by me, and then Jie. Jie getting the shorter straw said he was probably just gonna go to the Wynn because he saw there was a $10/20 running on the bravo app (amazing app that keeps track of what games are running in the local area at a given time. *Unfortunately, Bellagio is not a part of the bravo system). Telling Jie that I might join him later if I have to wait too long or if the Bellagio game sucks, I wish him luck and I decide to wait around a little. Sure enough, a seat opened up soon and I was able to start playing.
What on the surface seemed like a pretty amazing game actually ended up being a somewhat dull game with nitty grinders with not much action going on. That was combined with me not being able to get anything going. There was a guy who was sitting to my right who was clearly a recreational player in his 40’s-50’s but had a pretty good idea how to play (“R”). Only hands I remember from this sesh is me flatting his bvb open with a weak K. Floating him on a benign A high flop and firing turn and river on what I remember to be where everything got there and he could only literally beat a pure float on the flop, which, of course, he decides to call anyways of course with an A pair 9 kicker. This is of course without any history. Solid. $2k off the bat in a nitty game, not necessarily a place you want to be.
The only other hand I remember is that I noticed this R guy liked to 3bet iso the only fish at the table. So in one instance, I decide to cold-4bet with K6cc to $760 after his 3bet to $260. He tankkked before finally folding saying he folded AK. Lol don’t know if I believe him but okay.
But unfortunate for me, the rest was just me bleeding away not getting anything going. Meanwhile, Jie has been texting me how awesome his game is and how there is this guy from Macau who is literally driving the action to generate $10k pots almost every hand. Since I couldn’t get anything going and the game was so incredibly assy, I decide to make the big move and call it quits only 2 hours into my session to catch a cab to Wynn. I was also thinking to myself during the cab ride, this is the beauty of Vegas: to not have to be confined at one casino but be able to play at multiple casinos wherever the action is, esp given that higher stakes games don’t run often.
Jie is really good about putting names on, and he thankfully put me on the list even way before I got there so I was only #3 on the list. Mad props. But it seemed like forever for a seat to open up. So I decide to become a tourist and check out the waterfall scene that I vaguely remembered from my trip to Vegas 5 years ago with my family, but haven’t seen in my most recent trip:
Finally after about an hour of just sort of waiting around I finally get a seat around 4:30PM and sit with $6k. My first impression is that the “Macau” guy is sitting on about $40k and is clearly driving the action. Other guys… somewhat disappointing as they are only sitting on about $1-2k stacks. It was clear that they were just sort of “Wynn regs” who probably plays $2/5 and is taking a shot at this Macau zilla. Turns out, he is NOT from Macau (nice one Jie) but is a Korean that may or may not frequent this casino often, as he was known by name by the players and staff.
To my dismay, he would often leave the table, so I was forced to play a bunch of shortstack poker to get some zilla action. The only other player that had a healthy stack to play some deep live poker was this Chinese guy named Frank, who seemed like a local pro. He was already rubbing me off the wrong way with his constant raises, iso’ing, 3betting, don’t know what it was but it was most definitely irking me.
Another side note: one of my poker friends recently gave me the nickname, “King Cobra.” He explains it as such (paraphrased), “Danny, if people generally stay out of your way then you don’t go after them. But once you start to get irked at something or someone openly challenges you, man, they better watch out because you are gonna go right for their head and strike them with your venom and they won’t know what hit them. Oh and plus, your head is bigger than your body so that fits too.” Whatever, I dig it.
So clearly this guy Frank was rubbing me off the wrong way f so I needed to get him. It was an absolute need. He’s been raising a loooooot of pots and finally he decides to just limp in EP, probably aware of his own image. Good thing you decided to slow down Frankie boy cuz you were starting to irritate me a lil. But meh too late. I was on the button with 45o. Don’t give a fuck raise to $120 and he calls.
Flop ($270): 246r
He checks and I bet $180 with my mid pair + sd. Sort of a no brainer bet; I’m not really trying to pot control here with a pair of 4’s with 2 streets to go. I think it’s more profitable to turn my hand into a semibluff against an opponent I don’t have history with and try to take the pot down, if not now then by barreling on scarier cards if he decides to continue with a pp. Plus my hand is somewhat deceptive if I do make a straight or tripssss.
To my surprise, he c/r’s me to $480 very quickly. It was a small check raise and it was very fast. I certainly could’ve 3balled him here, but figured there are enough air in his range where I don’t necessarily have to turn my hand into a bluff. Plus, if I had an overpair in my range, I would probably proceed by flatting anyways (against a thinking player, I must consider my own perceived range as well as balancing my range). I decide to call.
Turn ($1230): 7cc (bringing backdoor clubs)
He deliberates for a little bit, then checks. Hmm interesting now I have a decision. I pick up an open-ender and my opponent checked to me. I decided to go with the betting route: if he does somehow have a higher pair, or has something like 87s that tried to bluff and picked up a pair, I have the perfect type of hand to apply max pressure on turn and river as I would have if I Had an overpair, while at the same time having the potential to be able to improve to trips, two pair, or straight. Plus, you know. Fuck him. I bet $920.
To my surprise, he makes it $2920 to go. We were about $6.5k to start the hand. So he literally put me into a decision. For one, his line did not make ANY sense at all with any type of holding. I was also thinking, wowwwwwwww did I really just get double c/r’d here? I was getting pretty ticked off, but I was also trying to think objectively. It seems like he could have some legit hand here (although I was flabbergasted as to what he could have), he could certainly have clubs (although in hindsight he might just barrel with club draw then to go for the ambitious c/r but I wouldn’t rule it out completely). All in all, I sort of had no idea what to think of his range. People just don’t double c/r that often. Although in hindsight, it the “feel” that I got from his second c/r was considerably stronger than the first c/r.
So in the end, I decided to just call with about half my stack invested. This may seem questionable, and while I’m not advocating this is the best play, I felt that I would be able to play better in position by deciphering his range depending on which river card fell and depending on how he reacted. In a nutshell, I thought I would be able to make a better river decision. This stemmed from the fact that I didn’t want to shove (and rarely have worse call me), and didn’t want to fold either (obv cuz he’s gay).
River ($7070): 3c
River brings me a straight and also completes the backdoor flush. Frank seemed a little hesitant on what he wanted to do, then just announced all-in. Certainly not folding on this river card when I pretty much have no clue on his range, so if he just happens to have clubs here, so be it. Ended up being a somewhat easy decision for me.
And that’s when he flipped over 777. Looool wow pretty sick. I matter of factly flip over my 54o and end up scooping a nice $13k+ pot. Visibly, Frank was steaming and tilt-reloaded for 10 flag chips ($5k each), before he probably thought it best to call it a night and quit early. So I’m off to a nice spot cuz I ended up luckboxing it obv. But of course that was only the beginning to the session before I would tangled with Tom, the Korean zilla…
To be continued.