Las Vegas Odds And Ends

Here are a few Las Vegas tidbits too short for a blog entry individually, but worthy of note.


Here are a few Las Vegas tidbits too short for a blog entry individually, but worthy of note. I saw Elvis yesterday. Creepy.

Helaine saw Michael Jackson. Extremely creepy.

“Which nose stage,” I asked?

“The last one,” she replied. “He was carrying a shopping bag.”

Maybe extremely creepy isn’t creepy enough?



There’s a building just off the strip in City Center. It’s never been occupied. Its windows are gone. Workmen are demolishing it where it stands!

It is under deconstruction.

During the original construction major deficiencies were noticed. Architects redesigned the building with fewer floors. Then more problems. It’s too weak to survive an earthquake Vegas is easily capable of.





antonio and helainePoker has celebrities. Really. Helaine had her picture taken with Antonio Esfandiari.

I said hello to Greg Raymer.

“That’s Jennifer Tilly,” Helaine said as we left a registration area. Sure enough she was on her cellphone sitting on-the-floor behind a large sign at the very corner of a hallway. Unless you came out the door we used she was invisible.

Outside a roped off area with a few tables dozens of gawkers stood and watched Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Vanessa Selbst, Erick Lindgren and others play in a very high stakes tournament.

There’s live Internet coverage of the action every day and ESPN will broadcast a boatload of highlights.

I currently recognize more poker players than Phillies players!


We’re across from Bellagio. In Fenway terms, we have a partially obstructed view of the fountain show.

Last night about 1:00 AM I was at the room’s desk, typing. I heard some pop, pop, pop and thought it was the fountains.

Then more pops.

I turned to see fireworks going off from the roof of the Cromwell Boutique Hotel. It’s not quite a block away.

No clicky on this trip, so I picked up my point-and-shoot, braced myself and fired off a few shots.

I have no idea why fireworks went off at 1:00 AM on the nose, but they did. Thank you. Two minutes well spent.

Someone I Played Against Is In The World Series Of Poker

I just looked at the list of the remaining 27 in the World Series of Poker.

Greg Raymer is there. He’s last year’s winner, and I’m pleased because he’s from Connecticut and seems like a good guy.

More interesting to me is number 13: Tommy Vu.

A few years ago Tommy Vu used to do real estate infomercials on late night TV. He had a yacht, big house and bikini clad babes. With his thick Vietnamese accent, he was anything but slick. That was probably the key to whatever success he had (at infomercials… if real estate was so good, why would he be hocking it on TV?).

Two years ago, at a real low stakes table at the Mirage in Las Vegas, I sat next to Tommy. It was most likely $2-$4 limit Texas Hold’em. $2-$4 is a level players of my skill set play so we can lose our money more slowly&#185!

He looked familiar. He was certainly well known in the poker room. Everyone said hello to Tommy. When he got up, someone told me who he was.

I remembered him immediately. No one watches more infomercials and other overnight crap on TV than me.

Obviously, Tommy has graduated. If he were to bust out now with 27 players remaining, he’d win $304,680. If he can hang onto his position, finishing at 13, he gets $600,000. This year, first place money is $7,500,000.

He probably didn’t learn anything from my play, though it’s likely I contributed to his buy in cash. Go Tommy!

&#185 – I actually think I play well enough now to clean up at $2-$4. That’s an easy statement to make while in my pajamas at home.

Poker’s Sting

Where have I gone wrong? I was doing so well a few months ago playing online and then “poof.” I’m still up, but I’ve been crushed. My stake is no longer an impressive multiple of the original buy-in.

Why? Well, I could be a conspiracy theorist and wonder if pokerstars has decided to stack the deck against me. I read things like that all the time. I don’t believe the theories, but I read them.

The answer is much simpler – I’m not playing as well.

I still haven’t quite figured out what I’m doing wrong, but I am trying to see where I’ve changed. I have also dropped down in class, playing at cheaper tables with the hope the competition is weaker and where I can stretch my money. After all, winning at lower stakes is much better than losing where the potential is high.

Meanwhile, as I often do, I have been playing on the computer and watching the World Series of Poker on TV. They’re replaying the 2004 tournament on ESPN this week.

Surprisingly enough, when they got to the final table’s telecast (at 2:00 AM EDT) instead of playing it back as it aired, a commentary by Greg Raymer was added. Raymer, from Southeastern Connecticut, won the 2004 WSOP and helped lower my taxes by bringing home $5,000,000.

I had seen him interviewed in the past, but only briefly – only in sound bites. This time he’s sitting in front of a TV, probably giving his commentary while watching a playback.

It’s incredibly interesting to watch and hear and he’s very impressive. He’s not a showboat, not a comic, but a very smart guy who understands the game at a mathematical level I’ll never reach. He’s soft spoken and classy – a radical change from 2003’s winner.

Make no mistake about it, he was lucky a few times on the way to his win. But, over time, a player is much more likely to fail because of luck than succeed.

Everything’s For Sale I Suppose

Tonight at work Bob Wilson reported on kids playing poker. Interesting story.

A few minutes before he went on, we were discussing Greg Raymer from Connecticut and his big strike in the 2004 World Series of Poker. No one could remember how much he won. Since I was sitting in front a computer at the time, I went to Google and took a look.

The answer was $5 million. Just as interesting was the ad which came up on the right side of the page.

Wow. I wonder if Greg knows?

Losing At Poker

A few weeks ago, I hit it big at Pokerstars. I turned $3 into $966, winning a 1296 person tournament. I felt as if I were on top of the poker world. Since then, I’m not sure if I’ve won a hand!

OK – that’s an overstatement. Still, the poker fortunes have decidedly turned. It’s not that I’m playing badly (I’ve really worked hard to avoid going into tilt). It’s just a really long run of bad cards – and it’s driving me a little nuts.

If there’s a way to lose, I have found it. This past weekend, playing in the same tournament, I finished 128th. Only the top 81 were getting paid. I played my Kings against another player who had 2s. Of course the third two turned on the last card.

That in and of itself isn’t unusual. Bad beats are a part of poker. It’s just I’m getting ‘bad beat’ all the time.

Last night, with a King, Queen in my hand, I watched 2 more Kings come up. I bet them hard, all the way to the end, only to see my competition turn over King, Ace.

Helaine has hit the same rut too! She just told me about her loss this evening, playing Kings against a lower pair and losing when her opponent made trips on the river.

It can’t last forever. Well, actually, it can. It shouldn’t – but it can.

Rather than squander my money away, I have moved down in stakes, hoping to gain some advantage by playing less savvy opponents. Still, we’ve given back a few hundred dollars of our winnings.

Right now it’s frustrating.

Oh – one more poker note before I go. Last night, one of our reporters interviewed the winner of the 2004 World Series of Poker. Greg Raymer. Though he’s physically built like a poker player (don’t ask, but think about all that sitting), he seems a sharp contrast to last year’s big winner Chris Moneymaker. Raymer is an attorney from nearby Stonington. He’s well spoken and seems well liked. And, he plays at Pokerstars and Foxwoods Casino – the two main places I play… just for a whole lot more money.