AcesAndEights
AcesAndEights
Joined: Jan 5, 2012
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March 8th, 2012 at 1:01:18 AM permalink
I was in Vegas last weekend for Trouble in Vegas, an Ultimate tournament. I usually go for this tournament every year, in fact my first trip to Vegas as an adult was for this tourney in 2008. I bookended the weekend of running my ass off with a couple of days for gambling, of course. Nothing too exciting happened, but a few interesting anecdotes.

I brought a sufficient bankroll to count BJ with a spread of $25-$250 or $25-2x$150 and have little risk of going bust on this trip, but I ended up playing much more craps than I had originally intended, since I was partying with my team mates for most of the weekend, and counting cards at blackjack is not the most social activity.

I ended up only playing BJ on Thursday night right after I got in late, and Friday night. Thursday night I played at MGM Grand which still has a decent selection of S17 games at $25 mins. Since I was staying at the Excalibur that night, it was close by. I also played some H17 at Mandalay Bay and Luxor. Up about $300 on Thursday night. I wandered over to NYNY and saw a 3CP game that looked interesting; they were using the iTable software where you place your bets on the touchscreen. I sat down and within 20 minutes the software had screwed up twice, resetting the hand before it was resolved. One of these times I was dealt a flush, so was obviously a bit miffed. At first, one pit boss was going to replay the hand - and let me re-place my bets - with the cards as dealt. Obviously this is a huge opportunity for me, since I could put my entire balance on the PP, although I modestly only bet $25 I think (I wasn't even playing the PP originally). However, a second PB came by and nixed it, since there is a sign saying that malfunctions void all hands. Well, nuts to that. I left and went to sleep around 5am.

Friday I met up with a high school friend who now lives in Vegas with her Air Force husband and 2 kids. Spent some time with them, played some low-stakes Candyland :). Played a double deck game at Aliante Station as she lives about a mile away, and made about $200. Also met up with the Wiz on Friday to purchase a couple of his gold coins.

Friday night I headed up to Fremont street since I had never seen downtown before, or as I like to call it, "Old Vegas." I wandered around the FSE for a bit, and hit up some of the DD games at Fitzgerald's, Fremont, and the Golden Nugget. I was up, down, up and about even. Fitzgerald's was looking pretty nervous when my $300 buy-in turned into nearly 1K in the space of about 15 minutes (more luck than card counting), so I made a speedy retreat. The downtown joints are notorious for heat, so I wasn't surprised at all by this. I also found a 3 card dealer who was flashing pretty good downtown, but she went on break and never came back. I wasn't betting big or anything; I'm guessing it was just the end of her shift.

Later Friday night the rest of my Ultimate team arrived and we checked in to the Luxor, and the booze starts flowing. I play BJ with a friend, trying to count down an 8 decker at the Luxor, but it's tough carrying on a conversation and trying to teach him basic strategy while I'm counting. We play craps for a bit at the Luxor and then decide to start wandering. We don't have to play until 2:30pm on Saturday, as opposed to the standard 9:00 or so start for these tournaments, so we figure we can stay out pretty late. We start walking up the west side of the strip and stumble on to the Minus 5 ice bar at the Monte Carlo, which was awesome. It's a $15 cover minimum, but a friend and I upgraded to the $55 VIP, which gets you a free hat, the use of a nicer fur coat for the duration of your stay (instead of the standard parka), and a free drink. You're of course paying for the novelty, but I thought it was worth it. I can now say I've drank whiskey out of a glass made of ice, so there's that.

We continued drinking and wandering that night and I get separated from the group and start playing craps at Paris, playing $25 on the DP, laying full odds ($150) and adding a couple DCs also with full odds. Obviously I'm the jerk at the table, but there are some rowdy dudes at the opposite side of the table giving me friendly needling as opposed to outright hostility, which is the best you can ask for as a darksider. It's especially funny when you have a couple nice rolls, making everyone else money, and losing it hand over fist yourself (yes, I roll against myself). After leaving Paris up $200, I wander over to the Bellagio and bet the exact same way, except I'm the only one at the table so I'm just rolling against myself. I drop $1300. Ouch. This was the first table where I start trying to use my new-found craps lingo. None of the dealers have heard of the Skinny Dugan.

I try to play BJ at one of the Bellagio's nice S17 tables, but I'm too drunk and quickly realize this. I take a cab back to the Luxor and pass out around 7am as the sun is coming up.

Ultimate on Saturday is rough, we fail to win a game. But we picked up a Canadian couple who are fun and good, so it wasn't all bad. Drinking continues throughout the games, although I'm driving the team minivan so I have to take it easy.

Saturday night I suit up for the tournament party, which is at the LAX club in the Luxor. After looking at the line to get in, even with our group deal, we decide to forgo it and head to some nicer spots to wander around, since some of the group has never been to Vegas. We take a cab to the Palazzo and wander around there and the Venetian before some people want to learn how to play craps. Now here's where some of you other craps players will be happy to know that I switched to the Pass Line while teaching other folks - I just couldn't bear to be winning while they were losing, or vice versa, especially since I would have to teach them both sides of the game at once. We head to Harrahs since I know they'll have a $10 table, and it's a pretty good time. Our side of the table can't shoot to save their lives, but the other side had some monster rolls. This time I'm playing $25 PL with max odds, and 2, 3 or 4 come bets also with max odds depending on how it's running. I'm in to the table for a grand and it's looking bleak before a guy in a hoodie has a monster roll, making numerous points and also rolling a bunch of box numbers, which means all my come bets are winning. Everyone in my group decides to shoot the dice one more time and then call it. I finish up $1.3K, so I make up for last night at the Bellagio, phew.

We then head to Casino Royale for $1 beers and more craps. Now wearing my Sunday best and betting green chips, I don't exactly blend in at CR (it was actually my first time here). In fact someone at the end of the table said they thought I worked there until I started rolling the dice. I have a really nice roll here myself, hitting about a dozen sixes it seemed like during one point cycle, which again means a bunch of come bet winners. Up another $500 and the trip is looking good.

More Ultimate on Sunday and we manage to squeak out a couple wins against more even competition.

Sunday night most people start leaving but a few are still around. We head to Caesar's Palace and as we're standing around wondering what to do one of my non-gambling friends makes the remark "render unto Caesar"...so I proceed to lose 2 grand in short order. Now, I brought all of this money along on this trip with the expectation of playing a +EV game, so I'm starting to get a little upset with myself for playing a -EV game. But, I realized that expectation or not, I simply have more fun rolling dice than playing cards.

Sunday and Monday night I got a comped room at the Flamingo, so we head back there, lose a bit more money at Craps, and hit the sack, physically exhausted from a long weekend of playing disc and standing around the craps tables.

Monday morning it's just me and one other friend. Neither of us had been to the Wynn before, so we wander up there and check out the dice tables. They look fun, and they have the "all tall"/"all small" bets. We play here for quite a while and my buddy even hits the all tall with his own buck riding on the line, calling the boxcars for the win. It was one of the coolest moments, he's like, well I'm going to roll a twelve, so might as well play the field too, right? Proceeds to call the 12, roll it, and get paid triple on the field and $35 on the all tall. Gambling! Woooo! The dealers at the Wynn were also very funny and entertaining, and got the hang of my betting pattern quickly which is always nice. Also when you're betting max odds like that, it's nice if they will pay you with black chips when it's possible, to reduce the hassle, which they did no problem. I go up $550 and we cash out and head to the Planet Hollywood to meet the other 2 people who are left, since I realized we hadn't been there yet and usually the cocktail waitresses are nice to look at. I may have miscalculated that for a Monday afternoon, as they were just average, oh well. We play craps at PH for a while, and everyone else has to leave while I'm having a pretty good session. At PH, I end up $1.75K, so now I'm making some progress again.

I've got one more night in Vegas at this point, and my flight leaves at 6:40am on Tuesday. I wanted to check out the Aria and the Cosmo as I had never been to either to gamble before. We did hit up the Chandelier bar in the middle of the Cosmo on Friday night and I highly recommend it - very cool vibe.

So to cut it short, since I know I'm rambling here, I played more craps at Aria, Cosmo, Bellagio, O'Sheas, Flamingo, and Flamingo again after I was all packed and checked out. My biggest win was at Cosmo, where I bought in for 1K and cashed out 4K. This was completely wiped out by the first session at the Flamingo, where I blew 3K in short order.

At a certain point on Monday night, I decided that my new rule is that I only play dark side at an empty table. I've been pretty much completely won over to the cheering and camaraderie of the light side. I'm not superstitious and don't believe in "hot" or "cold" tables, except in retrospect. So I don't try to play the trends, I just love playing the dark side when I'm the only person there. Nothing better than getting 2 or 3 DC bets up there with full lay odds and rolling that El Diablo, then getting the dice back.

One old dealer at the Bellagio did actually know the term Skinny Dugan for a 7, and said he hadn't heard it since the 80s. He was incredulous a guy my age would even know the term, so it made sense when I said I had learned it on an Internet forum. Also, many dealers got a kick out of the Big Dick slang, which is alive and well. I tipped well on the whole trip, usually having the dealers ride with me whichever way I was betting, with a full green chip. Sometimes I would throw in $5 on all the hardways, high on the point, which actually hit several times, so I felt good about that, but in general I don't like giving the dealers sucker bets. As is appropriate, I always tip more when the dealers are being helpfel/cheerful/etc. I always have my come bet odds working on the come-out roll, so it's a pretty good indication of dealer service how quickly it takes them to start putting down the little "on" button before I have to ask.

So in retrospect, I think I may be calling my career as an amateur card counter short...when I'm in Vegas, the allure of the craps tables is pretty strong for me. For the trip I ended +$827.50 on BJ, and +$3.4K on craps (if the numbers don't add up from the post above, I may have left some out, I'm pretty meticulous about my spreadsheet). Obviously that is pretty awesome, but I'm still coming to terms with the huge craps losses, and the fact that in the long run I will lose money at this incredibly fun game. I'm hoping that with my significant green action, I may get some decent room offers for my next trip from either the EE or MLife, although I probably would have been smarter to focus all of my play with one of the other, rather than spreading it around.

If I do decide to keep playing craps with that much money, I'll probably look into casino credit rather than carrying that much cash around. I saw a bunch of people draw markers and it definitely establishes you as the "high roller" at the table.
"So drink gamble eat f***, because one day you will be dust." -ontariodealer
AcesAndEights
AcesAndEights
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March 8th, 2012 at 1:15:41 AM permalink
Oh yeah, two anecdotes I forgot (as if such a long post could have anything missing, lol).

At one place, and I really wish I could remember where but I can't, we're in the middle of a point cycle and some place bets had just been paid out, a few more going up, etc. I make a $25 come bet and after all the chaos, there's my lonely green chip left in the Come box. The stickman (actually stickwoman in this case) asks, "what's that?" Trying not to laugh or be snarky, I say "that's a come bet."

Also, at the Cosmo I tried to use my MLife card as I could have sworn they were part of the chain. As I found out they're not and I'm in the process of getting a card there, one of the dealers says "well not yet, at least." Heh, at least he has a sense of humour about it.
"So drink gamble eat f***, because one day you will be dust." -ontariodealer
DanMahowny
DanMahowny
Joined: Feb 25, 2012
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March 8th, 2012 at 6:21:28 AM permalink
Good reading with my morning coffee. Thanks for posting.
"I don't have a gambling problem. I have a financial problem."
Woldus
Woldus
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March 8th, 2012 at 8:05:58 AM permalink
Aces...

Great stories... we're heading out Sunday to Wednesday with my daughter (21st) and four of her friends so you really got my juices flowing. BTW I ALWAYS put my wife on the Don't - she loves rolling that 7. Dealers often joke with me about betting against her but I always tell them I know how my baby rolls...

I have a question though (maybe a different thread altogether but...) You mentioned a 3CP dealer flashing a card. I never really thought about it or looked for it before. Which is the best seat to take advantage of it and is it when they pull their hand out of the machine or when they spread out their cards?
WongBo
WongBo
Joined: Feb 3, 2012
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March 8th, 2012 at 8:52:23 AM permalink
With a right handed dealer the best seat is at first base.
They usually flash when removing the cards from the shuffler.
In a bet, there is a fool and a thief. - Proverb.
FleaStiff
FleaStiff
Joined: Oct 19, 2009
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March 8th, 2012 at 9:20:04 AM permalink
Sounds like it was great fun.

As I understand Skinny Dugan is the nickname for Big Red from a generation ago, it was also a bar where dice crews used to actually hang out ... and was a code word for finding some action if you were not in Vegas: "I'm looking for Skinny Dugan" "You can usually find him around 4pm at Joe's Bar". Its a bit passe now though.

Getting a marker can also mean that you are simply just drawing down your own front money account that you deposited rather than have the casino actually extending credit to you. Its convenient, impresses some and costs nothing. Vegas is actually pretty safe though unless you get into sleaze situations where Mickey Finn's and outright robbery can take place.

I once had a chat with a host who was comping me to nothing much in particular and when I mentioned my recent action at the Venetian she wondered why that didn't show on her computer. So far, the Evil Empire doesn't own The Venetian but she just assumed every casino was part of the Evil Empire.

Your action, particularly your habit of including the dealers, should indeed get you some very sweet offers. You will probably get rated a bit higher than otherwise simply because you included the crew. They often round things upwards a bit for anyone who has been "their friend" even if the toke bets didn't hit all that often. The significance to them is that you were making them and are therefore a right sort of fellow. So they will help you out a little bit. They know it might bring you back to town sooner and might even bring you back to their table. So you will probably be rated a bit above your actual action.
AcesAndEights
AcesAndEights
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March 8th, 2012 at 10:38:54 AM permalink
Quote: FleaStiff

Your action, particularly your habit of including the dealers, should indeed get you some very sweet offers. You will probably get rated a bit higher than otherwise simply because you included the crew. They often round things upwards a bit for anyone who has been "their friend" even if the toke bets didn't hit all that often. The significance to them is that you were making them and are therefore a right sort of fellow. So they will help you out a little bit. They know it might bring you back to town sooner and might even bring you back to their table. So you will probably be rated a bit above your actual action.


Yeah, that's what I was hoping. Between this trip and my others in the past year, I've made it about 3/4 of the way to Platinum, so maybe I can cross that bridge when I go back for the bachelor party in about a month.

I just logged in to the MLife website, and it's not displaying my tier credits anywhere. It's got my express comps, but usually there's the little slider along the "Saphire....Pearl...Gold..." etc. bar...anyone else have this problem recently? Was wondering if I came anywhere close to Pearl on this trip.
"So drink gamble eat f***, because one day you will be dust." -ontariodealer
RaleighCraps
RaleighCraps
Joined: Feb 20, 2010
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March 8th, 2012 at 9:08:56 PM permalink
My slider is missing as well. You are playing heavier than I have been, and I was in the Pearl range. Not sure where I am this year, with only one 3 day trip on my account.
Always borrow money from a pessimist; They don't expect to get paid back ! Be yourself and speak your thoughts. Those who matter won't mind, and those that mind, don't matter!
kneelb4zod
kneelb4zod
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March 9th, 2012 at 2:23:40 PM permalink
Aces, what kind of ultimate tournament were you attending? We have a brewery owner here in MN who plays "professionally" as its been said. Although I think that started when his brewery began winning microbrew of the year awards, and he could afford to be a pro.
kneelb4zod
kneelb4zod
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March 9th, 2012 at 2:24:48 PM permalink
disregard above, just saw the link.

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