Planet Mark's Blog. Thoughts, News And Strategy For Poker Tournaments Of All Size

Poker, Food and Random Thoughts from Las Vegas

My original plan was to do a ‘Las Vegas Trip Report’, covering the ups and downs of 10 days in sin city. Many people do these over at 2+2, Vegas Message Boards and on personal sites and blogs. I have changed my mind. Instead this post is a random collection of thoughts, tips and experiences. It is much shorter than a trip report, hopefully more suitable for today’s fast-paced browsing.

Poker, You Have a Problem

Poker first, since this is a poker-themed site!

While the entire trip was not supposed to be too focused on poker – I did go with the thought that it would be great to carve out some time from the general eating, drinking and degenerate gambling to enjoy this.

After just 2 sessions (1 tournament and 1 cash game) I had changed my mind.

It was not the games - they were juicy by any standards – it was the players.

These were a mix of young hoodie type ‘grinders’, middle aged types with greasy hair and / or the bad skin of smokers and the occasional tourist like myself. Instead of being fun sessions; they were drab, even a little sad. Even as stacks were pushed around and poker was played very badly, the atmosphere was negative, the talk came across as entitled, nerdy and dull…

I’ll cut to the chase; the games (and those around the other tables and other rooms) were stacked full of life’s losers.

So I made a decision: These were not the people I wanted to spend my vacation time with.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one either… I checked out the poker rooms in most of the casinos at some point during the trip. The same types / faces in each… the irony was that the very people they looked down on the most, the table game players, were largely speaking successful people. Sure, craps, blackjack and my personal favorite Mississippi Stud have a house edge. The thing that poker players seem to miss every time is that the players in those games all know this. They are not patting themselves on the back that they can spend their hard-earned vacation time in a game that ‘earns’ $20 an hour (or whatever), these are ordinary, mostly successful, people having fun, chatting, drinking and enjoying the occasional winning streak.

Poker is simply not competing with this at the moment, and as someone who is a big fan of the game it saddens me that things have gotten so that the very players who crave the tourist dollars most are the ones unwittingly turning these otherwise willing players away - at least at the 1/2 and 2/5 levels...

I bubbled the poker tournament (got short and hung on for a good while!) though came up good in the cash game for a small overall profit for the trip. For the record I lost money on all the table games, though had a much better time playing those… 

No Online Celebrity Sightings

We kept an eye out for TheTrooper97 – though no chance to cameo in one of his videos came up and I did not want to crash his dealing sessions at the Linq.

After one show we walked through the MGM. I stopped by the poker room to see if one of my favorite Vegas bloggers - Rob - was at the tables… only on the off chance, since his trips are intermittent, and he has almost certainly never heard of ‘Planet Mark’ anyway.

While there was no sign of Rob, something he often highlights in his blog was well underway. This is the ‘Slut Parade’… the wobbling, not-used-to-high-heels show of 1000’s of women in revealing dresses making their way to the Hakkanan night club.

It was such a good show that the good lady and I stopped in the sports bar for a quick pint of Guinness to watch the parade. I hope they all had a great night, and that some of them even remember it!

Show Highlights

There are some amazing shows on offer. Having seen a few of the Cirque du Soleil productions over the years, I thought it was time to branch out.

The highlight by a long way was Le Reve at the Wynn.

This show blew both me and my good lady away. It is set on a water stage in the middle of a circular theatre, with acrobatics, trapeze work, songs and stunning visual effects. The title means ‘the dream’ in French – and it really did have a dream-like quality. Go and see it, it’s as simple as that!

Other notable shows included Absinthe (in a big top outside of Caesars Palace), which was funny and over the top – almost crude at times. We also saw Billy Idol (a parody of himself, though fun), The Cult (80’s rockers, excellent!) and even managed a trip out to Boulder City for some zip-lining.

Food Highlights

One of the main reasons I love Vegas is the world class food. This trip did not disappoint, with plenty of highlights. It was not just the expensive places which are worth a note – Wicked Spoon, the buffet at the Cosmo – was excellent for only $50 each.

Highlights for me include Katsuya Sushi at the SLS, the interior is designed by Philip Stark and the yellowtail with Jalapeño was amazing. Giada at the Cromwell (where we stayed) was also excellent as was Gordon Ramsay’s Steak at Paris. Speaking of Paris, Mon Ami Gabi is a great spot for lunch, you get to watch people on the strip from opposite the Bellagio fountains while enjoying their famous steak and chips. Below is one of the courses from Giada... I recommend you check it out!

Tourist Stuff Highlights

The Neon Museum (downtown) was worth a quick look, though the Mob Museum was a little too detailed for me. I enjoyed the Sharks at Mandalay Bay (rays and a Komodo Dragon also included). We managed both outlet centers (sigh) and the North one is definitely the best. We also checked out Circus Circus to find the famous chicken tossing game. For the record I became the undisputed chicken tossing champion, winning a toy octopus which was given to a random kid.

One last tip, the busses got a lot better since my last visit. Taxis can be a hassle (waiting, long hauling), and for $20 / 3 days you can get a deuce / slx ticket which makes getting up and down the strip super-easy.

There Will Be a Next Time

This was a long trip (and a long journey from Budapest via London too). We both had an amazing time and even managed to bring back some of the spending / gambling money. One thing is for sure. It will not be my last Vegas trip… we could stay somewhere else, eat at different amazing restaurants, see different shows, do different tourist things and gamble at places we have never been before and create a completely different experience starting right now. That is the beauty of Las Vegas. I hope that the poker games will lighten up a little, if the game starts being fun for tourists again – then everyone will benefit.

GL at the tables, Mark

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