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The poker gods were not happy


You know, even I am tired of going on vacations.  It started when My-Sugar-Na didn't come along to Reno with me in May, so I treated her to a few days in Manhattan in July.  But I couldn't let the poker boys down in September now, could I?


Last November the group that included the older one, whom I named Pat, the younger one, whom I named Ben and his step-father, whom I named Scott all went to Las Vegas for two-plus days of playing poker and whatever else that middle-aged guys do in Vegas.  This year's trip was a bit earlier in the calendar, but a couple of 100 degree days (eerily reminiscent of the New York City trip) will likely kick it back to November next year.


(Side note before I even start; I had a boss that told me over 15 years ago that a printed report was only accurate the second it was printed, after that it was garbage.  Especially when coming from a live IT system, once a receipt or PO was processed, or an invoice paid, or an assembly pulled from stock for a QA problem, etc., that report is effectively out of date.  Well, the internet is like that, too.  My post below is about my trip to Las Vegas last weekend for some live poker tournaments.  I found this site and this one and this one and this one, all which list times and buy-in amounts of various tournaments, but much of the info on one site conflicted with one (or more) of the other sites.  So I called a couple of casinos to spot-check and it turns out that in many cases, none of these lists were accurate.  Therefore, I called 45 Las Vegas area casinos and spoke to the poker room manager of every one of them until I had compiled the perfect matrix, sorted by casino and also sorted by time of day.  And I would love to post the document for anyone else to see, but as soon as I do...)

I will try to be more concise on this trip report, but who am I kidding (all times PDT, except for where our heroes begin).  


Friday 9-10 @ 5:00 PM CDT- Our flight didn't leave Milwaukee until about 7:00 PM, but at our meeting spot inside the terminal, Pat had a surprise... he was bringing a +1.  A co-worker of Pat's (I'll call him Phil) had been hearing about Pat's upcoming trip for awhile, and he got the jones so bad that he wanted to come along.  He found the exact flights we were taking on Southwest for only $310 round trip (not bad at all for a same-day cross-country trip) agreed to room with Pat and buy-in on the car.  I wish I had the means to wake up one day, go to work, and at work decide to fly to Vegas ten hours later.  Must be nice.

Friday 9-10 @ 8:45 PM PDT - The five of us deplane and because we all just carried-on our bags, the smokers in the group needed to get to a gift shop to get a lighter.  While standing and waiting, Scott and Pat and I saw a long, cool woman in a black dress, just-a 5'9" beautiful tall.  We were no longer in Milwaukee.

Friday 9-10 @ 8:50 PM - We have caught up to the long, cool woman in a black dress, just-a 5'9" beautiful tall, on the escalator to ground transportation.  We certainly didn't follow her on purpose (at least not the three of us that are married) but if she was leading the way, passing her certainly would have been rude, no?  The stalking coincidental parade ended, however, when she entered a limousine at the curb, and we had to schlep over to the rental car bus.

Friday 9-10 @ 10:00 PM - By this time, we have picked up our minivan (for $66.37 total for the trip... Thank you Entertainment book), driven downtown, have checked into our home base at Fitzgeralds and have walked across the street to begin the poker tournament at Binion's.  This tournament was - we would later be disappointed to realize - was the biggest that we would enter at about 40 entries at $60 each.

Saturday 9-11 @ 12:35 AM - One of the Top 10 Values as noted by the Las Vegas Advisor website is a pitcher of beer and a 16" pizza for $10 at Benny's Bullpen inside of Binion's.  Scott and Phil had busted out of the tournament early, and both Ben and I busted out back-to-back (in 11th and 12th places, respectively).  I had inquired earlier, and had been told that Benny's Bullpen was open until 1:00 AM, so Ben and I went in to buy a couple of the pizza and pitcher combos.  Unfortunately, I had not been told that they stop serving food at 12:30, and we "just missed it" according to the waitress.  Daunted (that is the opposite of undaunted, isn't it?) we reported back to the group.  Phil decided to go off on his own to play some blackjack, and the rest of us decided to look for some decent late-night eats in downtown Las Vegas.

Saturday 9-11 @ 1:00 AM - Two blocks off of Fremont Street is the Main Street Station, and their brew pub was absolutely hoppin' (get it?  Brew?  Hoppin'?).  Each of us had a great sandwich and Ben and I had some good beer.  One thing that all of us noticed as soon as we walked into the Main Street Station casino was that it was full of Asians.  It certainly wasn't a problem, just odd that so many of one ethnicity would be in that one casino.  Asians outnumbered everyone else - I'm not kidding - by about 10 to 1.  The marketing machine that is Las Vegas rolls on.

Saturday 9-11 @ 9:00 AM - In last year's trip, because we were only going to be there for two days, we felt obligated to stay up as late as possible to get the most of our Vegas experience.  With a three day trip this time, I did not feel so inclined the first night, so I had gotten to bed at about 2:00 AM and had gotten a reasonable amount of sleep.  I went across the street in the morning to the Fremont (no sports book at Fitzgeralds) to place some football bets and to meet the guys for the first tournament of the day, and Pat mentioned that Phil won't be joining us.  Turns out that Pat had just sent Phil to bed after a night of heavy drinking and blackjack.

Saturday 9-11 @ 10:00 AM - We are seated at the Green Valley Ranch's poker room in a game with about 35 entries at $40 each.  It is good tournament strategy to play quite conservative early on to allow yourself a read on your opponents.  However, in the very first hand, I am dealt a pair of 10s and the flop includes a 10.  I get one player to call a big bet, but when I bet on the turn again, she folded.  Very early on, I have a nice set of chips and already have one player short stacked.

Saturday 9-11 @ 12:30 PM - I played pretty good poker, but similar to when I had a large chip stack at Binion's the night before, I got caught in a hand I wished I had back.  At Binion's, I had what I thought was a great flop and made a big bet, and one player went all-in against me.  I decided to fold that hand, and it cost me half of my stack.  This time when in that same position, I called the all-in and the player (who had been in the small blind) had flopped a full house with 2-6 in his hand and a 2-2-6 flop.  I had more chips than that guy, but with three legs kicked out from my seat, I wasn't long for the tournament.  After losing, I went into the casino to kill time with some $0.25 video poker and caught a four-of-a-kind and quickly cashed out.  I wandered around and another machine called my name.  Before too long, I had gotten a joker-aided Royal Flush.  Neither win paid a fortune, but it covered my poker tournament loss as well as money I had lost playing craps while waiting for the tournament to begin.

Saturday 9-11 @ 1:00 PM - Had you ever heard of the Green Valley Ranch?  I had vaguely heard of it but none of the rest of our group had.  It is a relatively new property in Henderson, and was very nice inside with a huge sports book and numerous restaurants.  I was very impressed with the entire set-up, and wondered aloud why this property wasn't mentioned in the same breath as sister property Red Rock.  In the poker tournament, Ben and Pat came oh-so-close to cashing, but had busted out, so we made our way to tournament number two of the day.

Saturday 9-11 @ 3:00 PM - Scott had continued his amazing run of being the first one of us out of a tournament, but I made my - by far - earliest exit in the tournament at TI (Side note; TI used to be Treasure Island, but in the de-theming that Vegas felt it needed to do about five years ago, there ain't one pirate-related nothin' in the whole casino.)  The tournament at TI cost $50 and had around 30 entries (which I thought was kinda weak for a strip property).  My bust out hand this time is one in which I had 88 in my hand, and the flop was 2J8.  The turn was a 2 (giving me an 88822 full house).  I went all in and a lady called me with a 2J in her hand, giving her a 222JJ full house and giving me that warm, tingly feeling of a big score. Until the river came up a J.  Suddenly my 888JJ full house lost to her JJJ22.  Sigh.  Double sigh.  Twice now I've lost to full houses that include lots of 2s.

Saturday 9-11 @ 4:30 PM - I was in trouble.  Even with some modest video poker wins at Green Valley Ranch, I had been losing money.  Didn't matter the game or the stakes, I was already a few hundred down (and with this being my third major vacation - fourth if you include sitting inside the Red Cross building at the Iowa State Fair - in four months, I had a limited bankroll to start with).  After losing the poker tournament, a few green cheques at the craps table and some red ones at the Pai Gow Poker table, I had to take a break from the losing.  I went to the sports book to watch some football.  However, being the degenerate that I am I needed a quick fix.  I looked at the horse racing odds and saw that it was 1 minute to post time in the 15th race at Remington Park, so I bet $5 across the board on the second favorite, the #11 horse.

Saturday 9-11 @ 4:32 PM - When you're hot, you're hot, but when you are not....  No, I didn't lose that horse race, but I did read the damn board wrong.  It wasn't 1 minute to Race 15, it was 15 minutes to Race 1... it appeared that I would be stuck there for awhile.  Luckily, Pat came around and I explained what he had done.  After he got done laughing, he said that he would bet the second favorite, too, and we could cheer our horses on.  He bet on #7 (which was the favorite when I bet.  Wanna guess who the new favorite was?  Right.)

Saturday 9-11 @ 4:42PM - OK, the race hadn't started yet, but I went to the bathroom and on the way back... yeah, I know.  Addictions are rough.  But I was in Vegas, what did you expect?  I plugged a $20 in a $1 Wheel of Fortune slot, and on the second spin I got a chance to spin the wheel, and it came up $250!  I hit the "cash out" button practically before the wheel stopped spinning.  Suddenly, I was ahead at the TI, and ahead for the day.  Inside the casino, the clouds parted, the sun came out and the birds started chirping.  Without my feet touching the ground, I get back to Pat and our race was about to start.  It dawns on us that we had bet on #7 and #11, and they are co-favorites, so we decide to combine and split any winnings from the race.  The #7 took an early lead but fell back a little, while the #11 came on strong and was never really challenged.  But in the race to place, a horse was coming on inside the rail for a photo finish.  We waited and waited and waited, and then realized that horse on the inside was #1, not #7.  My ticket had won, Pat's lost, and I had to give him half of my winnings (about $11).  I was out four bucks, and all I could think was that the Wheel of Fortune machine didn't realize it was me who pressed the button.  Shortly after, Ben finds us (he came in 5th in the tournament that paid 4 spots) and we head back to Fitzgeralds or about 90 minutes of decompression and naps.

Saturday 9-11 @ 7:00 PM - As described last year, my wife had gotten a $50 certificate (off of a $100 purchase) for Hash House-A-Go-Go, but when we went on Sunday evening last year we found they did not serve Sunday dinner.  We weren't going to make that mistake this year.  We arrived and were seated right away (with Phil replacing Scott, who wasn't feeling well, though Scott's was not self-imposed as Phil's had been).  Actually, Phil admitted to being far less than 100%, but he did soldier on.  Unfortunately, he was ill prepared (get it?  Ill?  I am on a roll...) to deal with the portion sizes.  He tried to go for something light (the Sage Fried Chicken Penne Pasta) and his portion was enough to feed a small Gypsy caravan.  The guy paid $23 to nibble at some pasta and tell us how good it would have been if he hadn't been praying to the porcelain goddess all day.  Upon return to the hotel, Phil goes right back to bed and doesn't even bother with the next poker tournament.

Saturday 9-11 @ 9:00 PM - At this point, we have just started a poker tournament at Fitzgeralds that only has 21 entries at $40 each (but has a $30 "add-on" that gets you bunch more chips.  Since everybody else at the table adds-on, I feel compelled to so that I am not short stacked before the first card is dealt.)  It was a sad little tournament, as we are in prime time in the middle of downtown and the tournament can barely field two full tables.  Scott continues his streak of bouncing out of a tournament first.  I make it about two hours or so, but I never really got on a roll.  Instead of sitting around Fitzgeralds all night, Scott and I decide we are going to play Go-Go blackjack

Saturday 9-11 @ 11:30 PM - I am not a big fan of blackjack, and I know that the bane of true blackjack players is a game that pays $6 for blackjack on a $5 bet.  Traditionally the payoff is 7.5:5, and the reduction of the blackjack payout is clearly a way to increase the house edge.  For the most part any blackjack game with half naked dealers in front of another half naked girl writhing on a pole to some horrible hip-hop music is going to pay 6:5... think of it as a "Tax on Near Nudity".  Scott and I start our Tour of Teddys at the mostly empty Plaza.  We play at one particular table until the dealer gets tapped out and replaced by this half naked, middle-aged dealer with poorly fastened fake eyebrows and a significant paunch.  There is no better "get out of here" signal than seeing this thing, so we leave.  (Side note; On the Monday after we played at the Plaza, they announced that they are closing the hotel for a year to refurbish the property.  The Plaza announced it would be a $20 million re-do, but that they have no financing in place.  The Lady Luck in downtown closed in February 2006 for a refurbishing, and that property is vacant four years later.  The Plaza is clearly in trouble.)

Sunday 9-12 @ 2:00 AM - Scott and I bounce around to the California casino (which doesn't offer Go-Go blackjack) and the Las Vegas Club (which does).  Eventually Pat and Ben catch up to us and we decide to break up the party and go to bed.  I've played almost three hours of bad-odds blackjack at three casinos and I am out $14.  From a gambling perspective, a loss is a loss.  But from a "Tax on Near Nudity" perspective, I am happy to pay $14 for that entertainment.

Sunday 9-12 @ 9:00 AM - Although the group has agreed to play a morning tournament at the South Point casino, we got our signals crossed a little on our departure time.  I am taking my time getting showered and dressed while watching NFL pregame shows when Pat calls and said that if we sign-up early, we get a bonus set of chips.  This does not allow me to get my bets in while downtown, so I figure we go to South Point, sign up for the tournament (about 35 entries at $60 each), then I can make my sports bets.

Sunday 9-12 @ 9:55 AM - I am racing two clocks.  I have been in line at the sports book for about 20 minutes (football betting is HUGE at the South Point), and have five minutes before both the poker tournament and NFL games start.  The guy in front of me is betting on almost every single game and total, and has countless parleys.  The total cost of his bets is $28,000, so then a pit boss has to come over and verify all bets were correct, and that the money was good.  Tick, tick, tick, tick.  Finally I get my bets made.  The long and short of it is that I made $6 on the day, making some good bets (Houston over Indianapolis and the Packers under 47-1/2) and some bad bets (Cincinnati to cover against New England, and St. Louis to beat Arizona outright).

Sunday 9-12 @ 12:35 PM - Scott makes it 5 for 5 (five tournaments entered, five tournaments being the first out).  I can't even remember what I lost on, but I had made it pretty far in the tournament and only Pat remained.  South Point has a hot dog cart next to the sports book that sells dogs for $0.75, and I was going to grab a couple of dogs.  The line is very long (and taking forever) and just as I get near the front, Pat comes around and says that he is the last one out, and it is time to head to Rum Runners to watch the Packers game.  I think that I spent more time in lines at the South Point than doing anything else.

Sunday 9-12 @ 3:00 PM - The Packers are up big at halftime, and all five of us are getting our fill (including Phil, who is feeling better) of those glorious hamburgers and big ol' 24 oz PBRs.  Except that once again, the burgers aren't agreeing with Scott, so I offer to take him back to the hotel.  While I am gone, Phil decides that he hasn't placed a bet in while, so he, Ben and Pat wager on my return time.  Though cute when I walk in at 3:43 for a Ben win, this will become serious business during the rest of the trip.  When I do walk back into Rum Runner, the bar is very dark compared to a very bright, sunny day in the desert and I almost run right into a cameraman from Las Vegas local news Channel 5 who was there to get some footage for a report on the evening news (Click here, type in "football" in the search field, then click on the link "Football Fever Hits The Las Vegas Valley".  Our group did not make it on the footage, but this is a really nice piece about my new favorite out-of-state Packers bar.)

Sunday 9-12 @ 4:30 PM - As noted above, I had bet on the Packers final score to be under 47.5.  This seemed like an easy win when the halftime score was 13-3, but with five minutes to go the score is 27-20 and the Eagles are driving for a game-tying touchdown.  I am rubbing every good luck charm that I have and my luck manages to hold off the Eagles so I win my bet by a half-point.  I've also got St. Louis to beat Arizona outright and the bar flips the TVs to the end of that game.  The Rams are driving - could I possibly go 2 for 2 in last minutes of games?  Well, no, these are the Rams and I lose that one.

Sunday 9-12 @ 6:00 PM - We are checked into the tournament at Red Rock and have some time to kill.  Ben, Pat and I find a $5 blackjack table, but all the betting is computerized.  The dealer takes your money and virtual money shows up on the computer screen at your seat.  The player taps the screen with the amount to bet and the dealer starts pulling cards from the automated shoe.  The cards are "read" by the computer so that you know exactly what your total is, then each player can simultaneously hit, stand, double, etc.  without waiting.  Once the hand is resolved (win or lose) the dealer presses a button and all monetary transactions are completed on the computer screen.  It definitely speeds up the game and eliminates many errors, but, isn't part of the fun playing with your chips and watching the other players hit or stand?  Once again, another win for the casino as they easily increase the number of hands per hour (and, obviously, their win) by almost 25%.

Sunday 9-12 @ 7:00 PM - Scott isn't with us, so I am playing his role of "first out" of Red Rock's tournament, which had about 35 entries at $65 each.  Again, my demise were some good hands which lost big about an hour into the tournament.  First was AK suited, in which I won, but it was because other players folded after the flop.  The next hand was AK off-suit which fell when neither an A or K came on the board.  The third hand was another AK off-suit (three consecutive AKs... I don't know if that has ever happened to me).  Again, the cards failed me and after my big post-flop bet was rendered to be stupid when a player went all-in, I folded and counted the damage... Three AKs in a row and now I have barely four big-blinds left.  Oh, look... the blinds just increased.  Bye, everybody.

Sunday 9-12 @ 9:30 PM - I make a long phone call to My-Sugar-Na, then find Ben and play some Pai Gow Poker when some guy comes up to a couple at our table and talks about how all the finalists at the tournament split the winnings and everybody won $280.  I ask if one of those players is wearing a Packers jersey, and the guy said that he was, and Ben and I high-five each other.  "Sweet!  Free dinner!". Seconds later, here comes Pat ambling past looking all dour, like somebody just kicked his new puppy.  We busted him, though, when Ben thanks him in advance for dinner.  We head to the coffee shop (the same one we had the great meal at last year) and though they don't have the three-courses for $15 special, the surf and turf was still $15 and the prime rib dinner was also $15.  Dinner was again great (well, except that the chocolate shake tasted more like chocolate milk, but Pat was paying so what did I care!)

Sunday 9-12 @ 10:50 PM - (Warning, this will only be funny if you were in the minivan with us.  But read it anyway.)  We no sooner get in the van to head downtown when Pat, Ben and Phil decide to bet on exactly what time we will arrive downtown.  I end up being referee, and have to clarify what qualifies as "arrive".  It is agreed to that the van's dashboard clock will be the official timepiece, and the clock stops when the first person's foot hits terra firma.  Admitting that he has no idea where we are, Phil chooses the earliest time at 11:08 PM. We head east on Charleston and I point out to Phil that the Stratosphere is way, way down there and looks very small.  Phil gets agitated and tells me that he will pay any and all speeding tickets. I thought that kind of odd for a $1 wager, and I don't take the bait.  As we drive, I tell him that the Stratosphere is getting bigger, and it almost gets his hopes up, but before long, it is 11:05 and we are just getting on the freeway.  There is no way to that 11:08 will win, and Phil begins sulking.  Meanwhile, Ben is up next.  An 11:12 arrival wins it for Ben, and 11:13 or later wins it for Pat.  The tension, the drama, the harassing... you'd think the van was full of 8-year old boys.

Sunday 9-12 @ 11:11 PM - Waiting for the stoplight at the corner of Fremont St and Casino Center Blvd.  The tension is palpable.  The light is green and I proceed and turn left onto Carson towards the parking garage.  One more left turn and we are there.  Phil (who, remember is out of the competition) wants back in, with double-or-nothing on the ethnicity of the valet.  I reject that on grounds of inappropriateness.

Sunday 9-12 @ 11:12 PM - Oh-oh... I turned onto 3rd St instead of 4th St.  Ben is apoplectic, he can't believe that the referee will job him out of a couple of bucks.  Quickly, I make the U-turn (and the light) and it is still 11:12 when we get to 4th St with a green light.  At this point, Ben is mentally spending his money and Pat is reaching for his wallet.  But wait!  The referee - with a rare show of respect for Mother Earth - idles around the corner and into the valet lane.  Ben is pounding the dashboard (doesn't he realize that the environment is fragile?) and the clock becomes 11:13.  Pat wins.  Lucky guy.

Monday 9-13 @ 3:00 AM - The five of us were all back together pretty quickly, and we played some Pai Gow Poker.  I won $175 over two hours betting $10 to $15 a hand (in other words, I crushed that game) and once Scott, Pat and Phil leave, Ben and I see if we can recreate that craps table magic that we had last year.  We start at Golden Gate and play for a few minutes when the pit boss states that they will close the table down because the third shift never showed up.  I am up a whole $6.  We walk over to the Plaza to an empty table and before we even get our cheques, a group of five drunk guys from Minnesota show up to play.  They will all play the same conservative strategy on the same numbers.  Except they are drunk, so they are slow, and annoying, and more than once one of the syndicate members forgets to make a bet (which cheeses off the leader, because they are all supposed to be playing together).  This game is moving too slowly for the middle of the night, so Ben and I bail (with me down $9) and head to Fitzgeralds for a game.  There is only one guy shooting dice, and I lose immediately on his roll, quickly on Ben's roll and quickly on my roll.  So when the other guy shoots, I play the table backwards (playing the Don't Pass and Don't Come).  Doesn't take a genius to figure out what happened.  The other guys starts hitting point after point and after four rollers, I am down about $200.  It's bedtime.

Monday 9-13 @ 10:00 AM - Feeling the effects about a 4:00 AM bedtime, I'm slowly packing and preparing to check out of the room.  It wasn't the fanciest of rooms (I contend that the Golden Gate's room 408 is actually nicer) but it certainly served me well for three evenings.  The five poker guys meet in the valet area for the trip down (or is it up) to Santa Fe Station for the last tournament of the trip.

Monday 9-13 @ 11:00 AM - Heading south on US-95 towards the Boulder Highway.  Ben's smart phone lists the address on Rancho Drive, but the map shows that it is just off of US-95.  We realized we were in trouble when we got to Boulder Station.  I got off the freeway and asked for directions, and one guy told me we were 25 miles south.  I head back the other direction, and about 10 miles later we get to Rancho Drive and Ben (still insisting that his phone was right) told me to exit the freeway.  I drove up Rancho for awhile and we got to Texas Station.  One more pull-off for further directions at a 7-11 and were told that it was exactly 5.2 miles north yet on Ranchero.  All that did was give Ben and Pat something new to bet on.

Monday 9-13 @ 11:30 AM - Exactly 5.3 miles later (and another win for Ben) we arrive at Santa Fe Station and are signed up for their Noon tournament, which ended up with a very disappointing 18 entries at $60 each.  Before the tournament starts, I kill some time playing video poker.  I like $0.25 Deuces Wild at five credits, because it gives a lot of little victories, and since I don't have the patience to play for more than a few minutes, I just like to make my $20 last.  Today, my first $20 goes up in smoke so I reach into the pocket and almost immediately get a 4-of-a-kind.  The very next hand also results in 4-of-a-kind.  You can random number generator me to death, but I know that after two good hands, this machine is about to go ice cold. I take my modest profit and move to the next machine over, and proceed to drop almost $30 before winning the next hand.  Then BOOM BOOM, consecutive deuce-aided Royal Flushes.  It seemed weird that I couldn't get anything little... no straights, not flushes, nada, yet twice I get back-to-back big hands.

Monday 9-13 @ 1:00 PM - Screw this place.  I am so flustered and frustrated that I can't think right, and I can't wait to actually lose and get the heck out of here.  There are these two older guys (screaming "I'm a local!!"), one looks and sounds like Joe Pesci, and the other guy is older, and looks almost like the Hesh character from The Sopranos.  They are sitting right next to each other and I can't tell if they know each other, but they are certainly acting too casual... not following rules, talking back to the dealer and when the pit boss comes over for a ruling, yelling at him.  This is all quite distracting to me, and clearly the dealer, too.  On one hand I have J8 of diamonds, and only I and Hesh are in for the flop.  The flop contains a 10c9dKd, giving me 4 cards to a flush and a open-end straight draw.  Hesh bets and I call, and the dealer clears the board and gives the money to Hesh.  I protest and he admits his mistake.  Instead of calling the pit boss over, he re-flops.  The three new cards are nowhere near what I have and I just fold.  I spend another half hour or so trying to cool down, but I am playing lousy poker and I am out before the first break.

Monday 9-13 @ 4:00 PM - We are back at South Point, as I needed to cash in my football bets from the previous day before leaving.  We stop for linner at the Coronado Cafe, and I have the prime rib (a repeat entry on the Las Vegas Advisor's Top 10 Value list) and am very happy with it.  The prime rib was just as good as last year, and this time the salad and rolls were top notch to match.  We have about half an hour before we leave for the airport and we all want to stand around a craps table for awhile.  However with the rest of the group being newbies, they aren't as excited about learning in front of other people.  Phil. however, joins me at the table and in very short order, I am down well over $100.  The dice make it to my hands, and I start that heater that I have been impatiently waiting for.  Midway through, the guy standing next to me says that I shouldn't worry about my flight, and that he'll pay for a different return flight if I miss mine.  An intriguing offer as it is, my roll doesn't last quite that long and I cash in only about a hundred bucks ahead.

Monday 9-13 @ 5:00 PM - Standing in line in the sun, waiting for the shuttle at the rental car facility and it occurs to me that this is the first time all weekend - despite a couple of 100 degree days - that I am uncomfortably hot.

Monday 9-13 @ 7:00 PM - On the plane while it taxis the runway, I sit and reflect on this trip (if I do it slowly enough, it makes the three-plus hours of flying time seem shorter) and how it rated to last year.  I liked the extra day, I liked the extra guy, not crazy that at one point, 40% of us were under the weather.  I didn't like the poker (at least I cashed in one tournament last year) and wasn't happy that the tournaments didn't have many players.  We had no bad meals, and I don't think there was any time where we said "I wish that".  I guess that makes this a good trip.  We agree that we will pick a weekend in late-October or early-November in 2011 (depending on the Packers schedule... gotta get back to Rum Runner again).

Now I get to take a break from vacations for awhile.  Takes too much time away from work and blogging.  I get to wait seven months or so until next year's trip to bowl Nationals in Reno.  Till then, what should I blog about?  This, or this, or this?

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