Matt’s Vegas Blog
I’m heading to Vegas in a few weeks so thought I’d post a blog entry before I go.
January 2019. Despite my 2018 trip to the WSOP for the millionaire-maker which was basically “awful” (as I didn’t win a hand of cards in 6 days, blowing my planned bank-roll after 3 days, and was seriously looking for a flight home after 4 days as it would’ve been cheaper than staying) my memory of those events had faded by January when the WSOP 2019 schedule was released. With flights usually cheapest 5 months before their departure date (I don’t know if that is strictly true, but I have read that somewhere). I found myself booking a week in Vegas in the middle of June, to coincide with the WSOP Seniors event – Yes the Seniors event!! I don’t feel particularly “senior” but I’ve been eligible for a couple of years now, Seniors is 50+, Super-seniors is 60+ (so something to look forward too – NOT)!
Travel, Hotel and Car Hire
I booked through Thomas Cook from Manchester rather than Virgin airlines (who I usually book), as the costs were almost identical but the flight times from Thomas Cook were slightly better, arriving earlier in both McClaren (out) and Manchester (back). Flights are direct as I personally don’t think the cost saving of changing in New York or Atlanta, outweigh the increase in travel time, certainly not on the way back when all you want to do is get home. I’m a fairly seasoned traveller (my career choice has helped) so I don’t find long-haul flights particularly interesting, I see them as a means to an end, rather than part of the experience. I’m a airline loyalty-scheme agnostic. I got an accommodation deal included (via Opodo) for the 4 Queens in downtown rather than staying on the Strip like I have done the last couple of years. I’ve not stayed there before but based on last year at The LINQ where I only used the hotel to sleep in rather than take advantage of any of the facilities it had to offer, I don’t think I’m taking that much of a risk, but we’ll see… Also the 4 Queens has free car parking and most importantly no resort fee – which is basically a charge that should be included in the room rate (but for some reason is listed separately so you think you are getting a better deal than you actually are…).
I’ve booked a hire car in Vegas – I did this last year too – it makes it much more flexible in where you go and when, by the time you have factored in Lyft/Uber fees it’s break-even cost wise (if travelling by yourself). Last year I had a couple of days using the car for day-trips out to the Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon which you can do via tours, but is significantly more expensive and less flexible. I also visited Red Rock casino which I’d recommend (few tourists/more locals), but is not somewhere most people go as it’s not on the Strip or Downtown. The down-side of car hire is car parking/valet parking fees (not free anywhere on the Strip except for the Venetian) and it curtails any drinking. As a poker player who mainly plays sober I don’t see this as a problem. One of the reasons I’m staying downtown is for Freemont Street – which I’ve always enjoyed and is close enough to where I’m staying to do on-foot (unlike the Strip). I also like visiting American diners for breakfast, being mobile gives a much greater range of options and gives a bit more of a view on the real America, rather than the falseness/fakeness that is inherently LV.
The conclusion is that I want to fly, stay and get around as cheaply as possible because I’m a tight git… and I want my main expense to be on buy-ins. I think I have my priorities right as I’m going to play poker rather than a holiday/to gamble, but not everyone will agree I’m sure. I’m also travelling solo so I don’t have to consider the unrealistic demands of she-who-must-be-obeyed and for those who know my wife Ash, please don’t tell her I said that!
For reference purposes: flights inc luggage, accommodation, car hire in LV, meet & greet car parking in Manchester and Insurance = £1250 for 7 nights.
If anyone has any advice on the 4 Queens let me know – but if it’s bad maybe I don’t want to know?
Prep (or not Prep to be more accurate)
In preparation for Vegas I’ve failed miserably to play many tournaments since January. I’m predominantly a tournament player rather than a cash player but I’ve not played any cash either. Compare this to last year where I hit Vegas after a particularly good run-in to June, final tabling 3 tournaments at DTD in the previous month. Perhaps that is why I was more disappointed in the results I got from Vegas? i.e. I’d gone with the intention/expectation of cashing enough to cover my bankroll and expenses and what happened was the complete opposite… This year with work and home commitments I’ve played the occasional tournament at DTD without cashing and no multi-day events – So definitely not the correct prep!
If anyone has any advice before I go please let me know – all feedback on preparation is appreciated, even at this late-hour.
So what events am I playing in Vegas?
WSOP Event #32 $1000 Seniors NLHE is my primary focus. This is a four day event and I’m planning on being there on day 4 obvs…! Blinds start at 100/100 with BBA, 20k starting stack, 60 minute blinds. Only old people allowed! Last year saw 5918 entries, with first prize of $662,983… (it was $1500 buy-in last year) so something worth playing for. It should suit my game style with long’ish blind levels and fairly tight-play. The polar opposite of last year’s milli-maker (where I finished about 6000th of 7361). I was going to review my notes from last year but they are on a phone I don’t have anymore without a back-up apparently. If I did have that phone it would show the record of tournaments played, buy-ins, key hands and cards I played, decisions I made, spots I missed etc… so I can analyse afterwards, which I think is essential and restaurant reviews which I’ve also lost. From what I remember I mostly got it in bad, I made two decisions that were affected by being a “staked player” (40%) and didn’t want to explain how I’d gone out with top pair, crap kicker to my backers. I’m self-staked this year and it’s my own bankroll I’m blowing, I consider that bankroll spent already.
In the unlikely event of me getting outdrawn/losing a flip (lols) before the final table there is also a $600 buy-in £750k GTD NLHE 2-day event at the Venetian as part of their Deepstack series (multiple Day 1s). There are other one-day tournies I may play depending upon how I’m feeling and my sleep-pattern, which becomes topsy-turvy in LV. If you’ve never used it Poker Atlas gives real-time status on cash game wait-lists and a breakdown of all tournaments scheduled by day. It’s an App and I look at it daily.
I may play a couple of the WSOP daily side events – although they are crap shoots by level 7 based on last years’ experience (but you can pay using revolut so it’s £s not $s which seems to make a difference for some reason, probably because the buy-in looks less).
Note that if you haven’t played the WSOP you can pay by debit card if it’s registered in advance (via Bravo Poker). I’ve got a revolut MasterCard debit card (managed by a phone app) which gives spot exchange rates and no forex currency fees. Worth checking out if you haven’t got one as it reduces the amount of $s in cash you need to carry, it also removes forex charges which are just a rip-off imo. It works for most forex and bitcoin etc.
From what I can remember I played cash a few times last year:– Golden Nugget (+$200), Flamingo (-$120), Bellagio (+$150), Red Rock Canyon (-$180) – all $1/2 NLHE – I usually sit down with $350-$400 – and I might give this a go but it’s not the reason I’m going (although it was certainly more profitable than anything else). For me the standard of play downtown is looser than the Strip. There is more drunks downtown I’ve noticed and local/old-skool players. I enjoyed the Bellagio for the ambience the most and rubbing shoulders with some players I’d seen on TV (who were playing $50/100).
If I check-in on Facebook at the MGM on Saturday afternoon for the Tyson Fury/Tom Schwarz fight you’ll know I’m not running very well. Since neither of these boxers are known in the US getting a ticket shouldn’t be a problem. Plus it’s late afternoon Vegas time, rather than evening.
I’ll do a Cirque Du Soleil show I imagine.
If I’ve a spare day then I’m heading over to Death Valley (I’ve planned for day trips this time). I’ve done the Grand Canyon twice (which is fantastic).
If anyone else is in Vegas June 11th to 18th please reach out if you want to talk bad-beat stories… actually any conversation other than that please…
I’ll keep notes as I play and will probably update Blueblood on Facebook occasionally – and then write some further blog entries when I’m home.
As you can probably tell I don’t take poker that seriously. It’s not my livelihood, I’m lucky that my bankroll affords me the luxury of playing at the +$500 buy-in level. I’m tight as tight-is-right, except when it’s not.
I try to ensure that my emotions are kept in check throughout, don’t get side-tracked by alcohol, strippers and coke (well not that often!).
….And you’ve got to win the flips.
Hope you’ve found that interesting, and if anyone has any advice please comment.