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Vacation details - Peter Hentges

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January 24th, 2006


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01:03 am - Vacation details
Vacation Day 1: Last week, I went out to visit my parents in Mesquite, NV. Saturday, I took the bus and light rail down to the airport. This works slick. A bus a block from my house drops me at the Metrodome, I walk across the street and catch the train and zip! I'm at the airport. Arrived plenty early and went through security with a minimum of fuss.

My dad had sent me detailed directions on where to pick up a shuttle from the Las Vegas airport that would drop me at one of the hotel/casinos in Mesquite. The directions were so clear and simple that I, fool that I am, left them at home. So I arrive at the airport and wander into the cacophony that is the Las Vegas airport and promptly forget the details. I know I'm supposed to go straight through baggage claim and then do something. Well, I get to baggage claim and see signs for shuttle buses. OK, I figure I'll find someone to ask. There's someone at kiosk outside the door that is arranging limousines and they look like they want to help. I say I'm catching a shuttle to Mesquite and he says, "Oh yeah, they park over there, you'll see them no problem." Well, it's about an hour before I'm supposed to catch the shuttle so I settle in. An hour rolls around: no shuttle. I ask again and discover that the shuttle isn't affiliated with their company. It's suggested I ask at the Information counter. Great. Couldn't have told me that an hour ago.

So I ask at Information and the vital step I missed was the need to go down one level. This has taken enough time, however, that I've missed the shuttle. Fortunately, there is a schedule nearby that seems to indicate that another will be coming along in two hours. If nothing else, I can fork over the $30 and catch this shuttle ride.

So I go back into the airport and play video poker for an hour and a half. I'm up $20 and cash out and go down to wait for the shuttle. There's plenty of room and the driver is willing to accept that I'm supposed to have been on the one two hours earlier for a pre-paid trip so I don't have to pay. As the other passengers and I settle in, he checks in and discovers that, in fact, I am in the right place and will be dropped off in an hour or so.

So I get to Mesquite two hours late and $20 in the black, have a nice little prime rib dinner and crash at my folks' place.

Vacation Day 2: I fall easily into a daytime schedule and awake at something like 9:00 a.m. Reports are that two of my dad's brothers have come out to Vegas for the weekend so my dad and I head down to Vegas to meet up with them. They're staying mid-strip in the old Imperial Palace. We chat for a bit and they wander off for their own activities. My dad and I are off to wander the strip and see about catching a show. We walk in search of a half-price ticket place my dad remembers from a previous visit. The day is chilly for Vegas and windy. We duck into a casino or two along our walk to gawk and warm up. We finally find the place, up by Circus Circus, only to have its DSL go out and be unable to sell us tickets while we're waiting in line. They give us pointers to another of their outlets across the street and about halfway back the way we came. If only we'd known.

We pick up tickets for a variety show at the Aladdin called "V." at 7:30 that night. The tickets we get are actually vouchers and we should pick up actual tickets at the box office. The sooner we get there, the better seats we'll get. So we hop on the bus, tired of all this walking, and get off at the Aladdin, figuring it'll be good to get the tickets and then get a bite to eat. While we're in the neighborhood, dad suggests we check at the Bellagio for tickets to their Cirque du Soleil show so we swing in to that box office. We get pretty decent seats for the variety show and front row seats for "O."

It's getting late enough that I suggest we eat after the show so we wander back to the Imperial Palace in hopes of seeing the uncles again, but they have wandered off. We sit for a while and then head over to the Aladdin for the show.

It was enjoyable enough with some truly funny moments and some exciting acts. But it seemed a bit short and none of the acts seemed to be headliner-worthy. So we weren't particularly satisfied but, hey, the tickets were pretty cheap so it wasn't all bad. The meal after was pretty decent and I had fun watching the table full of women who were pretty obviously on a "girls night out."

Vacation Day 3: My dad has become something of a semi-pro poker player during his time out in Nevada. He mentioned that he stopped at the bank to get a couple of hundred dollars out while I was there and that this was the first time he'd touched any of his own money since they moved out there last year. And he probably only did that because he insisted on paying for everything including the meals and show tickets. Monday is the day he plays in one of the little local tournaments. So we went down to one of the local casinos to play some cards.

The tournament cost $20 to sign up for (which my dad rightly did not pay for) and if you play in a cash game for two hours, you get some extra chips to start the tournament (if you don't play, you can buy them for an additional $10). The game during the day was populated with the kind of crusty old rocks that one often sees in games during the days in Vegas. These are the regulars. They all know each other and how they all play. They are here to put in their time for the night's tournament and toward a big tournament on Saturday. They have punch cards for a time clock just like it's a union job and, for them, it pretty much is their job. I felt pretty good to spend a few hours there in the afternoon and only lose about $40.

They play a strangely structured Texas Hold 'Em game. The blinds are $1 and $2, but the game has the initial bets at $4 and later bets at $8. So if you raise before the flop, the first raise is to $6. Also, they play with a 1/2 kill, meaning that if you win two pots in a row, you put in a third blind of $3 and the bets are now $6 and $12. The result is that there is a lot more calling pre-flop than one would expect from players this tight and one can often play speculative hands for fairly cheap, particularly in late position. Further, someone getting on a little streak and winning a couple of pots can result in kill pots that quickly rise in value. So its possible to make some good gains if you catch a decent hand during a kill pot but if you end up second best in one, you can also lose a good chunk in a hurry.

The tournament started at 6:00 p.m. We grabbed a quick bite to eat at the snack bar associated with the casino's attached bowling alley. Decent enough sandwich and soda for about $5, which was comped by the poker room for the amount of time we played there.

My dad and I got seated at the same table for the first rounds of the tournament. During this period, if you run out of chips you can buy back into the tournament for another $20. We both survived through this without having to buy more chips but several others added this additional money into the prize pool for the tournament. After three 15 minute rounds, there was a brief break which gave everyone a chance to go to the bathroom, get a smoke, or whatever.

After the break, the significant event was me knocking my dad out of the tournament. He had me dead to rights with trip 10s on the flop, but I got lucky and ended up with Jacks full of 10s to win. This little incident would make for much jocularity as I was introduced to more of my dad's friends throughout the week, so it wasn't a big deal and, hey, that's poker.

I went on to the final table at that tournament. The locals all wanted to split the prize pool at that point. With 10 of us at the table, that would amount to $138 each. Not a bad little take and many of the people at the table play for just this reason. I didn't want to split it up just then, however, because according to the payout schedule, I was guaranteed $50 and if I made it to 4th or better, I'd make more than the $138. I ended up one of the last two at the table and split the remaining proceeds with the other fellow, taking $278. So that put me up a good $250 for the tournament and over $200 for the trip!

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Comments:


From:emyjo
Date:January 24th, 2006 07:33 am (UTC)
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You're such a little pro-star! Who knew it?

This makes me miss Vegas. I LOVE IT there.
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From:jbru
Date:January 24th, 2006 08:46 am (UTC)
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And Mesquite was a lot like Vegas-lite. Not as many people or as much high-buck stuff, but all the cheap that Vegas used to be and decent enough stuff around otherwise. Very nice. And, only an hour from Vegas if you really need a big show or a rollercoaster.
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From:cakmpls
Date:January 24th, 2006 01:23 pm (UTC)
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I'm impressed!
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From:jbru
Date:January 25th, 2006 10:00 am (UTC)
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I made over $500 playing poker on vacation. While I don't expect that to happen every time, it certainly gives me a positive feeling for going back again!

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