Sunday, December 26, 2010

Belated WPBT Winter Classic 2010 trip report

Yes, I have been back from Las Vegas for almost two weeks. I will use the "busy holiday season" excuse for not posting my report sooner. If you want to read into that the "too lazy to get around to it" excuse, I won't say that you are too far wrong.

One big difference about this year's trip compared to previous years is that my wife Pat came along for the first time. That changed my activity schedule somewhat, but I still participated in a fair amount of poker blogger fun. Another change this year is that I didn't arrive until Friday, so I missed the usual introductory get-together at the Geisha Bar at Imperial Palace. I think I will try to make it out on Thursday next time, partly to join the gang at the Geisha Bar and partly so I will have the early half of Friday available for additional tourist time.

Friday evening, after checking in at Bally's and grabbing some dinner, my wife and I went to MGM Grand so I could play in the traditional blogger mixed games. Pat went off to look around the casino and hotel, while I sat down with a blogger all-star group that included CJ, Snuffy, Poker Grump, Special K, Very Josie, and 23skidoo. I know there were a couple of others there whom I either did not know or have forgotten (sorry). We played HORSE, and I went up early during the Hold'em and Omaha 8 rounds, but then went card dead during the Razz, Stud and Stud 8 rounds. I walked away a whole $7 in the black, but had fun playing with the group, which is the main thing. There was a very interesting Razz hand involving Josie and skidoo, which you can read about at Josie's blog here or at Grump's blog here. Hilarity always ensues when bloggers play mixed games. I also finally met my last longer teammate BrainMc in person.

Saturday was the day of the big blogger tourney at Aria. Pat and I decided to get over there early to look around the City Center complex a bit since neither of us had seen it before. Beautiful place, with very weird but attractive architecture. I got to the poker room early and hung out with several bloggers while we waited for the starting time to arrive. After a blogger group photo, which I have not seen yet and don't know whether it has been posted anywhere, the tourney began. The Hammers started flying fast and furiously, from players trying to pick up the $50 bounties offered up by PokerStars for the first ten players to win a hand post-flop while playing 7-2 offsuit. I got one early on, raised pre-flop, but took the blinds when no one called. Later, I called a PF raise from Vinnay with 66, whiffed the flop and folded to his C-bet. He showed the Hammer and took one of the last available Hammer bounties before they were all claimed.

I got AA and KK a few times in the early levels, but got no action for them and was unable to build a chip stack. I lasted to about 51st place, when my KT was bested by F-Train's A-rag and another blogger's KJ (sorry that I didn't catch her name). I didn't make my goal of lasting longer than last year's finish of 29th, but I feel like I made mostly good decisions, which is about all you can do anyway. By the end of the night, Miami Don had taken the trophy and first place, in a six-way chop with the other finishers. Congrats to Don! Unfortunately, TAG Team did not finish in the money in the Last Longer Challenge. BrainMc went pretty deep, about 16th I think, but Mike and I didn't hold up as long. Maybe next year.

After I busted out, I called my wife, who had met a friend who lives in the area for lunch and then gone shopping at the Fashion Show Mall. We chilled at the mall for a bit and then headed to the Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood for dinner. We have been to this buffet a few times before and it is a definite favorite. The line to get in was monstrous, but at least we weren't starving when we got in it. The food did not disappoint when we eventually were seated. We bought a 24-hour buffet pass there, which is good at the buffets at all of the Caesars' (formerly Harrah's before the recent corporate name change) properties. After dinner, we went back to Bally's and I played $1/2 NLHE in their poker room for about an hour. I finished up $50, which capped off the night nicely.

We used the buffet pass again the next morning for breakfast at the Flamingo and then dinner at the Rio Sunday evening. In between, we drove down to Hoover Dam to check out the new bridge. The view of the dam from the new bridge is very cool. We then drove back to the Strip, gawked at a few of the casino hotels, and waited in the long line at the Rio for their buffet. One side note about that buffet's queuing system: they had one line for people using coupons, comps, discounts, or other promo-type things, and three or four lines for people paying with cash or credit card. About 95% of the people in line were using something that required them to stand in the promo line, including us with our buffet pass. They would move people along much better if they had more lines for promo customers.

We then drove downtown to check out Glitter Gulch and the Fremont Street Experience, which we had not seen for many years. It was packed with people, which made for a festive atmosphere. There were lots of costumed performers there, including some dressed as rock stars, cartoon and movie characters, and Vegas showgirls. I wish now that I had taken more photos there. I went into Binion's and the Golden Nugget to look at (but not play in this time) their poker rooms. On a future visit, I would like to go back down there and play a few hands, and look around some more.

We drove back to Ballys and hit the sack to get some rest before the flight home on Monday. It was another enjoyable gathering with the poker blogger group, and I look forward to the next one. Many thanks to April, CK, CJ, Al, PokerStars, and everyone else that had a hand in making this event another success.