Friday, March 16, 2018

Hoping for Lightning to Strike (Not Lightning36)

I say this every time I decide to post on here again, but jeez it's been a long time since I last felt motivated to share anything.  I've got a few things to share, so we'll see if I can fit it all into one post or have to split it into multiple ones.  (Super long posts are kind of the trademark of another certain blogger and I wouldn't want to steal his schtick.) I've got a lot to cover though:

  • A recent trip to Vegas
  • Some shenanigans at my local casino
  • An update on my show choir's super successful season

The wife and I made a very brief visit to Las Vegas for her birthday back in February.  We were low-rolling due to some unexpected medical expenses and a dryer that went on the fritz right before the trip taking an unexpected bite out of my gambling and entertainment budget.

We stayed at Luxor and I'm fairly certain that was the very first time I ever set foot in there.  We arrived about 6:00 PM on Valentine's Day and cabbed it from the airport. I don't like to assume I'll get long-hauled, but I have this habit of carrying on a conversation with my traveling companion as the cabbie is loading our bags that makes it clear that I'm not a Vegas newbie. Either it works or there are just way more honest cabbies than you'd expect from all of the stories about tunnel trips to south strip locations. I'd like to think it's just honest people. (I'm a very glass is half full guy with a dose of pragmatism.)

We had several nice meals and did the usual Vegas touristy stuff like the Bellagio fountain show, Fremont Street Experience, Forum shops, etc. The first two days in town I played three losing sessions of blackjack where I dropped $100 each time and lost probably another $100 here or there on various slots and video poker.  So it was lose, lose, and lose some more for the first two days we were there.

On the final evening we went back to Luxor pretty early because the wife was feeling tired and a little sickly.  She has a very sensitive stomach so it doesn't take much to make her queasy.  She was settling into bed early at about 8:00 PM, so I told her I was going to take one more stab at the blackjack tables at Luxor.  I only had about $200 left in the budget to gamble that I was willing to risk.  This time I sat at a $10 table, purchased $100 in chips, and tripled my money in about 20 minutes.

I headed up to the room to let the wife know I was headed out to the strip to play some poker with my newfound winnings.  I caught the tram from Luxor to Excalibur and then hoofed it up to Planet Hollywood. It took me about 15 minutes to get a seat at one of the 1-2 tables.  About 20 minutes into my session a typical younger Vegas grinder took the seat to my right.  On his third hand in the game he raised to $12 from UTG.  I called from UTG+1 with Q-10 suited. I believe there was one other caller preflop in late position.

The flop was Q-10-X.  (Sorry didn't take notes.)  He bet $20. I raised to $50. He flat called.  On the turn he checked and I counted out my remaining stack.  I only had about $125 remaining. If I make a significant enough bet there relative to the pot I'm pot committed no matter what happens, so I decided to just stick it all in.  He snap called and I groaned knowing that a grinder like him isn't doing that with just an over pair or top-top.  He showed me the bad news...pocket queens.  I went ahead and showed my two pair and as I wished the table good luck and got up to leave he quietly said, "Yeah that's a rough one."

I headed up the street to another of my favorite rooms at Bally's. Got seated pretty quickly at the only 1-2 game they had going.  A short time later they opened a 2-3 table and it filled up quickly.  The guy on my immediate left at the 1-2 game had a sizeable stack of like $1,500 and I was concerned that he was going to be super active and aggressive, but he played very tight and straight forward.  I later learned from the rest of the table that he was just running incredibly hot.  He was foreign, but I couldn't make out the accent.  Perhaps Israeli?  As we were playing, a friend of his with the same accent stopped in the room, put his name on the list for both the 1-2 and the 2-3 and prepared to leave to get something to eat.  He gave $500 to his friend on my left and asked him to buy him into whichever game he got called for first.  He put the $500 on the table behind his chips, but the dealer asked him to remove it from the table since cash no longer plays at the Bally's poker games.

His friend made it back just as he was being called for the 2-3 game.  The person leaving was in the 3 seat, but the guy in the 2 seat said he wanted to move to that spot, but was currently in a hand.  When the new guy got to the table he tried to sit in the 3 seat, but the dealer informed him he would have to wait until the hand was over to take the 2 seat instead.  He argued that he wanted the 3 seat, but the dealer told him it was a house rule there that players currently in the game have first pick of seats that are vacated.  This didn't sit well with the new guy and he voiced his displeasure rather vehemently.  The dealer called over the floor who backed her up and made him wait for the 2 seat.

After the hand finished they took their respective seats, but the new guy wouldn't let it go. He started threatening the guy that moved to seat 3 and when seat 3 essentially told him to shut up seat 2 reached over and pushed over seat 3's chip stack.  Seat 3 immediately returned the favor and the dealer yelled FLOOR! The floor guy came over and issued them both a final warning that if they said anything else he would boot them.  After things calmed down over there I turned to my tablemates and said, "I just want to thank everyone here for behaving like adults." Without a beat the dealer replied, "The night is still young."

I've been playing more frequently at my local casino because their bad beat hasn't hit in a while and has grown to almost $250,000. To qualify in this room it's aces full of kings beat by quads or better.  Both hole cards have to play and there is no pot minimum required.  They'll pay it on any cash game table that takes a jackpot drop and is at least 4 handed.  Losing hand gets half the jackpot. Winning hand gets a quarter of it.  Anybody dealt cards at the start of the hand splits the other quarter.  I figure lightning can strike and the odds of hitting that are better than the lottery.

The closest I have come to hitting it was hitting a set of sixes on the flop.  My opponent turned a straight flush and we had one pull on the river for me to get the last 6 in the deck.

Sometimes when I go to the casino I'll take $100 and try to double it at the blackjack table and then go play poker.  For some reason I play less timidly if I know half my buy in is house money, so that plan works for me.  Tuesday evening when I went to my local casino, Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, it was not terribly busy.  They had one $5 blackjack table open and it was full.  There was one regular $10 blackjack table open and all the seats were full, but the lady sitting at third base had no chips in front of her and was just spectating.  Usually if you just hover with cash in  hand the floor will ask spectators to make room so you can play, but in this case they seemed oblivious so I moved on.

I found another $10 table that was the blackjack + 3 variety where you can make a side bet on a 3 card poker hand with your two cards and the dealer's up card.  You can choose not to play the side bet and the blackjack plays just like any other game.  At Prairie Meadows they pay 3 to 2 on blackjacks and the dealer hits on soft 17. The only other house rule I don't like is they will only let you split aces once. If one of your aces gets another ace dropped on it then you have 12 and that's it.

This table had two guys at it, but one was coloring up and leaving as I sat down.  I won the first two hands I played and lost the third. Just then a guy sat down at first base that should I put this...a little rough around the edges.  Leather coat, greasy hair, scraggly beard...looked like he just came off a week long bender.  He asked if the dealer was treating us right and I told him that I'd only played 3 hands so it was too early to tell.  The other guy at the table may have been a mute since he never spoke once.

On the very first hand after the rough guy sat down I was dealt 15 and the dealer's up card was a 7.  I hit and drew a 10 and busted.  Rough guy grumbled that I was playing stupid.  I assured him that I was playing exact basic strategy and would not stray from that.  He didn't seem to know what that was.  When it was the dealer's turn she revealed an 8 under the 7 for 15 and then drew a 4 to give her 19.  Rough guy loudly complained that I had "stolen her bust card."  The floor person told him to let me play my hand however I wanted.  She also brought him a strategy card with the chart for basic strategy on it, but he claimed they made that up to get people to lose more.

A couple hands later a similar situation happened and he reacted the same.  I was back to my original $100 so I shook my head, made eye contact with the floor person who was now strangely silent and said, "I'd like to color up please." Then I took my $100 to the poker room and bought in short to the 1-2 game.

Lastly I want to brag on my show choir kids a little We had by far our most successful season ever.  We competed four times and all four times we were awarded 1st place.  They also give out caption awards to the groups.  The sort of big three captions are best vocals, best choreography, and best band. So in our four competitions there were 12 of those available to us to win. We won 11 of them only missing out on best band at our penultimate competition.

Here is a video of my varsity show choir. This year's show was themed around finding love in the world. It is a very fun and light-hearted show that featured a wedding with a very impressive gown and a rocking reception with a very quick onstage costume change that is almost like a magic act.  The set list for the show was:
  • "Two Scenes" - San Fermin
  • "Footprints" - DJ Tiesto
  • "All Over the World" - ELO
  • "Around the World in 80 Days" - Bing Crosby
  • "An Old Fashioned Wedding" - Annie Get Your Gun
  • "Some Enchanted Evening" - South Pacific
  • "Celebrate" - Kool and the Gang
  • "Locomotion" - Little Eva
  • "We Are Family" - Sister Sledge
  • "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" - Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
  • "Shout" - The Isley Brothers
Please enjoy and let me know what you think. For the uninitiated show choir can be a strange experience, but most people walk away very impressed when they realize that every person on that stage performing is 18 or under (except for one fat old bald guy at the piano).