Details of Vegas

Before I begin, I know from personal experience that hurricanes suck ass. And while the worst of Ivan may be past and thus most news places will stop reporting on it within the next day or so, the bad part about a hurricane is the damage and the damage clean-up/recovery. So, the people affected are going to be dealing with it for a long time. I can’t tell you how happy I am in a very unfair way that the storm went in east of New Orleans…but I’m sure they’re feeling effects, too, nonetheless…and y’all all know my “New Orleans is a bowl” theories. 🙁
So, if you are inclined to send happy thoughts, this is a good time to send them.

Since early this year, HWHNYBN have had plans to be in Vegas during the weekend of Sept 11th. The Las Vegas Hilton (our usual home base) had made their $100,000 Craps Tournament extremely easy to get into, and it included a free room for the weekend. So, we both had entered, giving us 2 free rooms for the weekend. Some of you may remember me ask
ing around to see if any of y’all wanted to use the extra room. The taker ended up being some friends of ours from Maryland who have been to Vegas with us before.
A couple of months ago, HWHNYBN realized that while we had received confirmation that we were entered in the tournament from LVH, he had not called to actually tell them we were coming! Oops! And yeah, sure enough, they were overbooked. They were, in fact, having to book convention-goers into a nearby hotel because they had run out of rooms because they made this Craps thing so easy to get into! So, our casino host said we would still be entered in the tournament, but no free rooms. Stinky.
A bit of serendipity entered the picture, however, in the form of the Women’s Poker Club. I had joined the WPC not long before this, because I was trying to find women’s only tournaments in Wisconsin. I kept hearing about them at Potawatomi, but they’re hard to find because the police are cracking down on the bars that run them, so they are rarely publicized except to bar patrons. I haven’t had any luck on that front with the WPC, but I found out after I joined that they were running their first ever gathering the same weekend we would be in Vegas anyways. I had already told the organizer that I’d be in town, but that I probably wouldn’t be around much because of the Craps t
Well, to make a long story short, we booked rooms through the WPC for the weekend. The rooms were at Binion’s Horseshoe, which isn’t as nice of a place as the Hilton, but it is right downtown, and it’s a historic/nostalgia kind of thing to stay there. We checked in with our friends from MD before booking, and they were cool…so for the first time ever, we actually paid for a room in Vegas. Now, granted, we paid like $20-25 per night…but we still paid.
Since we were using a WPC room, I decided to enter the WPC’s no-limit tournament on Sept 11th and formally register for the gathering. They weren’t doing much outside of poker lessons (which I rightly suspected would be more basic than anything I could use) and tournaments, but I was still really looking forward to meeting a bunch of other women who play poker.
So, for the weekend, I was entered in both a craps tournament and a poker tournament. On Thursday night, HWHNYBN was playing in an online tournament for a 1 in 41 shot at a spot in a WPT event in the Carribbean. So, he went off in search of a Borders to get online. That gave me some time to go up and check out the WPC hospitality suite. I didn’t have the schedule printed out (silly me), so I didn’t know for sure when anything was starting. And there I ran into the two women who run the WPC site. They quickly introduced me to Lou Kreiger (!!!%
29 and told me a very amusing Lou story. Lou had accidentally gotten locked in the suite bathroom earlier and was unable to get out. The hotel had to send up a maintenance guy to take out the bathroom door lock.
Our MD friends were actually driving in from Phoenix, by way of the Grand Canyon and a few other thingies, so they were due in later that evening. Since I had some time, I helped Goddess get the tub set up with drinks until they called, utilizing my vast hospitality room set-up experience from Mensa RGs. I met some other WPC members, paid my tournament entry fees ($125…the most I’ve ever paid to enter a tournament), and socialized a bit before my MD friends arrived.
When they got in, I got them settled into their room, did greeting hugs, and found out that HWHNYBN had not made it into the finals of his tournament, so he was headed back to the hotel. We agreed to meet at the WPC hospitality suite, but we were both itching to play some poker at Binion’s, so we didn’t stay long before heading downstairs to hit the tables. I managed to sit down at a really weak $2/4 table, wherein I won about $50 over the course of an hour or two. HWHNYBN didn’t have so much luck…he won about the same amount playing $4/8.
After that, we met back up with our MD friends for a private naked party in the room. To avoid TMI in an otherwise sex-free story, I won’t give details, bu
t it was very fun for all involved.
On Friday, we had the first round of the Craps tournament. HWHNYBN and I went to play. Now, he had played in a Craps tournament before. It was my first time. We’d both read up on Wong’s tournament strategies on the plane, and I’d actually written notes on my hand. We were both figuring that I had no hope of doing well in this tournament, as I know absolutely nothing about Craps. Still, there’s enough luck involved that it was a chance at a large prize. After working with HWHNYBN on strategy, we had decided on a very simple approach for me to take. I would make a large place bet, splitting my bankroll, on the 6 and 8. As soon as I won one of those, I’d take my bets down and make minimum bets until I noticed someone approaching my bankroll amount. If a seven came first, I’d bust out…which wouldn’t be a terrible thing as then I wouldn’t have a conflict with the WPC tournament on Saturday. Really, my best hope for winning was that the table would be cold. Sure enough, my table was sevening out every other roll, seemed like…and my lead was solid going into the final roll. So, I made it into the next round.
That sounds cool, but it really sucked. The next round was at 11am on Saturday…smack dab in the middle of the NL Hold ‘Em WPC tournament. And being that this was a pretty major tournament, the Hilton wasn’t going to let HWHNYBN (who had los
t his round) take my place. Nonetheless, we went to celebrate at Hooters, for two reasons…first, they have awesome wings, and second, I had decided what I wanted my poker hat to be, and I needed to buy it from a Hooters in Las Vegas.
Because I wear prescription glasses, I can’t do sunglasses at the poker table very easily. But, since I was going to be playing in the biggest entry fee tournament I’d ever been in, I wanted *something* to help hide my eyes while I was peeking at my cards. So, I decided on a pink glittery Hooters Las Vegas baseball cap. We eat there so often…and given that I’m this poker playing chick…it seemed strangely fitting. So, I had to buy it. Hence the lunch at Hooters.
I had been looking forward to playing in the WPC tournament for weeks. So, the plan was for me to play in the WPC tournament, and if I got knocked out soon enough, I’d head over to LVH to do the craps tournament. HWHNYBN would spend most of the morning at LVH, checking in with me occasionally, but hanging out there to see if he made it into a wild card spot. He’d stop back by Binion’s at 10:30 or so, so that if I was out, he could drive me to LVH.
We went to a new show in Vegas called “Bite!” at the Stratosphere. It was supposed to be a vampire-themed topless show, but really, the only vampire part about it was occasional fake blood and lots of fake teeth. It was more 80s ro
ck themed than vampire-themed. I think HWHNYBN and I had more fun ripping on it than seeing it, although it was still cool. And, I don’t think our MD friends had been to a Vegas show before, so it was fun for them.
I got up at 8am the next morning to get ready for the tournament. HWHNYBN was already elsewhere, so I had time to kind of relax and take my time in getting ready. I took a bubble bath and got dressed in something comfy before heading down and getting settled at the table. Remember that whole 11am plan? Well, 11am came and went, and there I was…still doing alright in the WPC tournament. At that point, I and another woman were alternating for biggest stack. I think there were 20-30 people left. We started with 49 (quite a few less than had registered).
The women at my table were jealous of my iPod mini, btw. Some of them had never seen one get used during poker before. As many of y’all know, I’m almost always listening to music while playing poker. I actually got the idea to bring the mini with me from watching a World Poker Tour event on TV. One of the players had it with him, and I was like, that’s a great idea. When I’m at home playing, I’m usually listening to music or watching TV in the background. I mean, if you figure that you should be folding 70-80% of the hands you get, that’s going to be a lot of sitting around doing nothing. Plus, I was doing my best
to focus on each hand as an individual event, and not think about how the other tables were going or how few people were left each time I looked up. I didn’t want to get hopeful at all, so I didn’t want to hear the background chatter from observers about how well anyone was doing.
I know HWHNYBN came back at one point, to see if I was done and could head to the LVH tournament. At that point, another woman had the lead over me at the table by at least a few thousand. HWHNYBN mentioned to me during the break that I should respect her raises and try to stay out of pots that she’s in. Sure enough, my next two good hands came on pots that she raised behind me on. I groaned internally every time it happened!!
I managed to take back the lead eventually, after HWHNYBN left. My game actually started turning around when someone who was sitting to my left started calling me Pinky, after my hat. I know we had a couple of mom/daughter pairs playing. At one point, a mom was telling her daughter something about that she was close to needing to go all in, and the mom got admonished for “coaching at the table.” And the mom said the coolest thing, she was like, “I’m her mother!” And the dealer hushed and it was really funny.
There were at least 3 professional (or mostly pro) women poker players playing: Barb Enright, Rose Richie, and Cat Hulbert (who, admittedly, is a Stud player first and foremost). I knocked out Rose Richie while we were still at 2 tables. Barb and I were the final two. Cat was gone before I ever saw her. Once we got to the final table, ten players left, I had a fairly huge lead on the rest of the table, and I was the clear favorite.
Eventually, we were down to three players. Me, Barb, and someone else? I was definitely the big stack at the table. I can’t remember how big the disparity was, but I think it was like 8 or 9 times. The someone else decided to make her move and went all in. The blinds and ante were wearing the small stacks down to the point of necessity. But, she had really bad timing. The first and only time I was dealt pocket aces in that tournament…and that happened to be the hand she went all-in against me, while I was in the big blind. I called, and I think the aces held. I know I had another big hand where this third person doubled up off of me…so I may be confused, but I think it was the aces that took her out.
Once it was down to me and Barb, we took a break. Barb was already congratulating me, but I was still in the non-acceptance mode, wherein I was still telling myself it could all change. I generally suck at heads-up play
, too, so I knew all that needed to happen was for her to beat me out on an all-in twice, and I’d be in trouble.
After our break, we sat back down. I was big blind on the button, Barb was small and first to act. She looked at her hand and said “all-in.” I peeked at mine…
…and it was 10-7 of diamonds. Nonetheless, given the stack disparity, I had to match anytime Barb went all-in, and let luck sort it out. All I needed was one good flop, after all.
Barb flipped up the ace of hearts and the 2 of diamonds. Not a bad hand at all for heads-up…
The flop came down with the queen of diamonds and two rags. It took me a minute to notice that both rags were diamonds. I quietly said to Barb, “I think it’s over. I made my flush.” And, it pretty much was. There was no way that Barb could beat the flush, as mine would be higher than hers, even if a fourth diamond fell. She hadn’t made a pair, so a full house for her wasn’t possible. I think she may have had an inside straight draw, but the turn eliminated that possibility, and it would have been beaten by the flush anyways. I have no idea what the last two cards were.
And that was the only point where I let it sink in at all that I had won or that I was close to winning or anything. So if I seemed overly giddy or shocked or silly…that was why.
It was my first ever live casino NL Hold ‘Em tournamen
t, too. And I won $1875 (the wad of cash you see me holding in the picture). Not too shabby for a day’s work! I got my picture taken a few million times. I was actually on the front page of the Las Vegas Sun Times the next day, but all you can really see of me is my iPod and part of my elbow…I’m hidden by the dealer! I might show up in a poker magazine…depends on how much room they have. Oh, and to some extent, the cooler part of winning the tournament is that I got a WPC champion ring. It’s white gold, really pretty…and I know it won’t mean much to those who don’t know what it is, but it means a lot to me. I beat out a few pros and a bunch of non-pros who still have been playing longer than me…and that’s just plain awesome. Lou also autographed a copy of his book and gave it to me (although, as he said, I really don’t need the book!).
When I got back up to my room, I actually put the cash on the bed and rolled around in it a bit. And then I folded it up and put it in a safe deposit box downstairs (after all, a whole casino of people had just seen me with this wad of cash) while HWHNYBN drove back to the hotel to pick me up. I still had a shot at the wild card in the LVH tournament, even though I had missed my 2nd round. I ended up not eating lunch that day until 4pm, as celebrations and LVH stuff kept us busy. We had a comped late lunch at Outback…I had a hamburge
r with an add-on lobster tail! Neither of us made it into the final wild card, but it was still worth a shot. I called my mom and dad as soon as I was able. They were very excited for me. And my mom had walked a charity marathon that day, and so I got to be super-proud of her, too. It was for a children’s charity in South Carolina, and she raised a bunch of money for them by walking. Oh, and I kept showing off my ring to everyone I met. I was ridiculously giddy once I let the win set in.
That night, we celebrated by going to a strip club, which is my favorite Vegas tradition now. We tried a new place, and the girls there were awesome (Cirque du Soleil like almost) at climbing to the top of the pole and doing acrobatics while up there. Then, I was dead tired, and we had to get up early the next morning to finish off some coupons at Casino Royale, so that was pretty much that.
Oh, and on the trip home, we were on a 777 from Denver to Chicago, which has TV screens in the seatback in front of you, and they track where you are and show a little Amazing Red Line on the map. You also have like 8 channels of in-flight TV to choose from. I watched Discovery (Monster House, Lost Ruins of Atlantis) while HWHNYBN watched USA (Monk, Stargate). I also typed up some e-mails. It was a very comfortable and nice flight, especially since our 5-person bank of seats was empty except for us.
So, that’s it. What am I doing with the money? Buying a Certificate of Deposit and keeping it tucked away for a rainy day. Oh, and we’re going to go to Ireland, too, but that’s another post. 🙂

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