A new guest post trip report on Las Vegas from TBR member Jason “Jambasket” Burge today, with more illustrations by Julie M., who appeared in Zoo episode 8.
It’s been 105 days since I last visited Las Vegas. Since then, I’ve maintained a couple of streaks: I rode the Peloton bike for 100 days in a row and haven’t had a Monster energy drink for 105 days. I would have kept the Peloton streak alive, but I had initially set a goal of 30 days, then 100 days, and I decided to break the streak knowing that the Vegas trip would break the streak anyway. I also built my own super computer – even the nerds at the computer store are jealous. What the hell have you been doing since I wrote last?
The days leading up to travel day are always busy. I have a lot of planning and household maintenance to complete before heading to Vegas to goof around for a week. My goal for travel day was to arrive to the airport gate at 11:30 am. That’s when my flight is scheduled to board. An hour drive, an hour to handle some financial matters at MGM, thirty more minutes to the airport, thirty minutes for the shuttle ride, and another 30 minutes to escape the TSA scam means I should leave the house at 8:00 am.
I leave my house a little early, but it’s fine as I need to check my tire and buy some gas. I’m in and out of MGM in a flash, which is very odd. I can’t wait to see what problems they’ve caused for me on the other end. Anyway, I decided to get some breakfast.
I wanted something quick and shitty to start off this treacherous day. As I pull into McDonalds, I see they’re hiring and offering up to $15/hr. I guess that’s the new minimum wage everyone has been crying for. Hopefully when they walk into the restaurant, the rows of ordering kiosks remind them that the minimum wage is $0/hr. Now they only employ cooks and food runners. This location also seems to have cut out cleaning duties as the place is a disaster. Or is that just part of the décor? Even the kid who brought my food out to the table looks like he’s been wearing the same uniform for ten shifts straight; perhaps he’s some sort of bot. At least the Mc-Shit sandwich I ordered hasn’t changed.
When I arrive at the airport, a greeter asks if I’m checking bags and pointed me to the counter. What kind of sucker do they think I am? I ignored her directions and make my way out to the curbside luggage drop-off to check my bag. Usually, a $10 tip will score you a Priority bag tag, but evidently inflation has also hit the curb-side bag check industry as well since $10 only garnered a “Thank you” today. Oh well, it’s not like it matters anyway. I’m seated in row forty-seven, and by the time the herd gets their shit and gets off the plane, and after the shuttle ride over to baggage claim, even the Detroit Metro Airport staff could have my bag waiting for me.
As I walk through the Detroit airport, I notice a new business: Minute Suites. They offer you a room where you can shower, nap, meditate, watch TV, etc. I can’t help but think this is just some introductory Mile High Club operation. God only knows what’s going on in these rooms and I look forward to the local news showing us what the blacklight reveals.
I arrive at the gate way too early again and have 2 hours to enjoy a favorite past: people watching. However, for some reason, nobody is catching my attention. Perhaps I’m just accustomed to the crazy? I board the plane without issue and the flight is pretty smooth. As we come in for landing, I start to feel a little sick. I’m a seasoned flyer, so this is rare, but although I was sweating and queasy, I managed to not barf. Good thing too, as I couldn’t locate the doggy bag. As we’re deboarding the plane, the lady behind me, in row 48, decides that it would be a good time to use the bathroom, which is located around row 20. Good fucking luck you idiot! However, the gods got instant revenge. She forgot her luggage back in row 48 and got stuck near the bathroom. So, now she has to wait, and trust me, I’m not in a rush. Now would be a good time to retie my shoes, right?
I make my way to the baggage claim and see that the baggage attendant in Detroit slow-rolled me. The Sky Priority tag is there! LFG! I now make my way to the auto rental shuttle line, which is long, and it’s located outside and it’s very cold and rainy. After a long wait, I arrive at the auto rental center. Here’s a tip: always use National. Its motto is “Choose any car in the isle and go.”. My understanding is that all of the other places require you to check in at the counter, and those lines are always very long and very slow. Do yourself a favor, skip the line, choose any car and go. If you want to push the system a bit, choose a car from the Executive Isle. Often times they’ll let you slide if you don’t get too greedy.
I finally arrive at the hotel and I’m ready to check in and relax. Just one problem: the check in line is a zillion miles long. I stand in it for about tweny minutes before a good Samaritan, who was just making her way through the line and into the casino asked me if I had checked in online. I said yes, and she said to head over to the kiosks and get your keys and that there’s no need to stand in this line. I head over and check in within a minute. I never saw this lady again unfortunately. Obviously, she probably recognized me from my popular YouTube channel. If you’re reading this, and I’m sure you are, I have a gift for you.
I finally check into my room and relax for a few before it’s time to head to Garagiste. I meet Persuadeo, SDJen, Criminal Bizzy and Michael for a few glasses of wine. After four glasses of wine, it’s time to go to bed.
Day 1: Settling In
I wake up early as I often do and make my way out to locate some coffee. As I pass some slot machines, I notice some prostitutes are out. Are people really looking for a prostitute at 7am? Starbucks isn’t open yet, but it’s opening soon. I chat with a guy in line and he asks if I’m in town for the 5x tier credits Caesar’s Rewards is offering this week. I hadn’t known about this, but I’m close to the Diamond level, so this 5x bump may help the cause. Also, do people really travel to Vegas for this? After picking up my order, I notice a guy in line behind me wearing a Solve 4 Why shirt. I would later find that his name is Patrick Muth and I believe he won a tournament package giveaway done by S4Y. It doesn’t appear that he cashed any of the events, but I’m sure it was a cool experience nonetheless.
I make my way to the room and start a session on WSOP.com. I run pretty hot, winning 400 bigs, before tiring. I decide to head down to the Wynn to scope out the WPT tournament series. I didn’t realize this was happening when I booked my trip, but having never been in town for a big series, it should be cool experience.
I arrive at the Wynn and spot Joey Ingram in the restroom. I walked out just behind him, but he disappeared, never to be seen again. I make my way over to the tournament area, passing by the empty Balenciaga store. During the entire trip, I would never see a single customer in any of the locations, and I’m happy to see that, even though the protest will soon be forgotten. Unfortunately, I’m wearing a Puma shirt, which is under the same umbrella as Balenciaga, but I’m going to plea ignorance. As I enter the tournament area, I spot stars all over the place. Rabichow, Bonomo, Cada, and a few others. I can’t believe Bonomo actually has pink hair in real life. I thought it was just an effect of the cameras.
As I walk around the tournament area, I begin to wonder if I’m really apart of the poker community. I’ve played poker for over 20 years and have never been an event like this. Also, how do so many people have 10k to play in this tournament?
I make my way back to the hotel to check into my new room, which was graciously provided by SDJen. Yes, the same SDJen that took second in the WSOP Super Senior event in 2022.
Day 2: Dinner is Tough in Vegas
I wake up and play another online session. Nothing much of note this morning, breaking about even. I decide to make my way back to the Wynn to scope out the tourney scene. I grab a glass of wine and hang around the tourney area located just outside of the poker room. I decide to play some slots while I drink and realize that there’s not much difference between what I’m doing and what the tourney players are doing. Yes, I don’t have much respect for the tourney players. Sure, there’s an element of ignorance to this stance, but let me have my fun, I’m not that serious. Also, I spot Patrick Muth in the mix; looks like this is a HORSE tournament.
The waitlists at the Wynn are incredibly long. 100 people waiting for 2/5. What I’d like to know is who walks up to the counter and adds themselves as the 80th or 100th person? What’s wrong with you? You could walk across the street to Resorts World or down the street to Sahara and start any game you want right now, but they won’t. Everyone talks about how poker players are so smart and develop skillsets that would allow them succeed in other industries. I couldn’t disagree more. I’m just full of hot takes today, I guess.
Anyway, walking around this tourney area is awesome. I’ve never seen any of these big names in person. As I walk in, I see Rampage Poker, who just won a million bucks the day before taking some photos at the podium. I would later find that he had won another tourney! This guy is on fire and it’s good to see. I spot a few other stars and start to head over to Resort World to grab some dinner with Persuadeo.
As I walk through a long corridor towards the exit, I can’t help but wonder how much money is invested in the Wynn property. There are millions spent just in this hallway: the carpet, lights, chairs, tables, and various décor. It’s mind-boggling to me.
I arrive at Resorts World and meet Persuadeo. The first restaurant we head to is closed. The second, also closed. Even the food court is mostly closed. It’s only about 10:00 pm in Vegas, at a casino. How can it be this hard to locate some food? We head to my favorite pizza place in Vegas, The Sand Dollar, but there’s a Christmas party or something going on and the place is packed. We finally find a place that is open at this hour: Izakaya. We order a bunch of food and call it a day.
Day 3: Live Poker
Today is the day I’m going to play some live poker. I have the Sahara game at 7:30 pm, but I need a warm up session. After all, I haven’t played live poker since my last trip to Vegas. I make my way over to Bellagio. On my way over, I see some clown who is sagging his pants below his kneecaps. This guy can barely walk, but I guess the price you pay to look that cool.
I get a seat in the 5/10 game. The usual suspects are seated at the table, which is good because none of these guys are tough and I need to ease into the live poker scene. Our dealer has just come from the 20/40 limit game and he doesn’t look happy. He tells us that the people at that game are miserable and another player reminds him that that’s where poker players go to die. These guys are exactly right. This is where the players that are too risk averse for NL find themselves trying to earn enough comps to cover their losses.
My session is pretty boring, hanging around even without any interesting spots. I finally decide to call it quits after I make an unnecessary bluff catch, costing me $350. I head to the buffet with my friend Ploof to get some brunch.
After brunch, I log another online session, again breaking about even. I play a regrettable hand that interrupts my nap. The CO opens and I three-bet 54hh from the BTN. The CO four-bets and I call. I call a small continuation bet on K42tt. The turn brings another 2 and my opponent jam for about pot. This is a spot where I believe players play extremely poorly in four-bet pots. There aren’t many hands that have incentive to jam this turn, yet most players don’t use smaller sizings once the SPR gets to 1 or less. I tank for a while before folding, but wish I had called.
I head over to Sahara to play the 2/3 game. If you’re ever in town, be sure to check this game out. The game is $600 minimum, uncapped, show one card rule, and usually has some action creating add-on game going. Today the add-on game is the “small blind game,” where the small blind is eligible to win a side-pot should they win the pot. The pot grows by $5 each time the small doesn’t win the pot. This is a great game as it adds a clear incentive to a position that generally has little incentive to VPIP much. Throughout the night, I would fold the small blind many times, either completely forgetting about the game completely, or misunderstanding just how little the incentive needs to be in order to make many hands positive expectation from this position.
Another fun aspect of this game is at every dealer change, double board PLO or PLO5 bomb pots are played. I’ve never played these games, so I have no idea what a decent strategy is. There are a lot of moving parts in this game, and they are very fun to play. If this is your thing, Resorts World, and maybe a few other rooms on the strip offer these games exclusively. I can’t help but think if you put in some effort to understand these games a little bit that they could be a very profitable game choice.
I’m largely dealt out of the game. It’s hard to enter pots with J6o and 82o, so I basically just sit and watch. I win a few small pots and end up winning a few hundred dollars before calling it a day.
Day 4: The Olympian
I wake up and start another online session. I’m immediately stacked 3 times in the first few minutes. End up with the money in with 33 on 2456r vs 86 and lose. All in pre with AK vs QQ and not that it matters, but I flopped the A but the opponent rivered the Q for max pain, and then in a three-bet pot with QJ on K94JT, lose to AQ. Not exactly the start I was looking for, but this is poker. I battle for a while, make a key bluffcatch on KJ36tt after facing a jam after my double barrel with QJ, and somehow fade a flush draw. I make a few more solid bluffs and end up down maybe fifty bigs or so. Not bad considering the start.
I take a break and decide to go check out the Joe Weider Olympian body building contest that is in town. Although the contest hasn’t started yet, this is still a site to see. The contestants are the most muscular people you’ll ever see. I think the most notable thing about them is their thighs. They are so big and sculpted, that the muscle appears to be constantly flexed, and it looks painful. I wonder how healthy these people really are. Surely it can’t be a good thing to sculpt the human body is such shapes. I have no idea, but it’s always cool to see people that are at the top of their sport.
Given that I don’t know anyone in the body building sport, I start to wonder if I’m around any really big stars in the sport. This would be similar to them entering the WPT tourney room and walking past some of the poker stars. They’d never know, and probably wouldn’t care. I take note of a few name tags as I ride the elevator with these beasts. Andrea Shaw and Big Ramy. Turns out, these are some of the biggest names in the sport, each having won this contest many times. In case you didn’t know, Arnold Schwarzenegger won his competition six years in a row before retiring. Just think, they have no idea that they rode an elevator with a big YouTube star.
I became interested in this competition and followed it. Andrea and Ramy were the favorites for their divisions, but neither of them won. Also, first place pays $400k. I didn’t realize this much money was up for grabs.
Persuadeo and I agree to meet for dinner at The Sand Dollar. I arrive first and walk in and see that the place is packed once again. We decide to eat at Good Pie, another pizza place in town. I order some New York style cheese and a Sprite and Tito’s . The pizza is really good, and the drink is way too strong and even Persuadeo agrees. I ask the waitress to bring me a Sprite so that I can avoid getting plastered off of one drink, but she forgot. It’s hard to find good service these days.
Day 5: The Final Day
Five days is a long time away from home and I’m ready to get out of town. My flight is scheduled for 6am the next day but if I can fly out sooner that would be awesome. I don’t have any luck finding a new flight, so I guess I’m stuck here for the day. I don’t feel like playing poker, but could handle a few chores.
I pack up my suitcase and walk it over to Bellagio where my car is parked. I had to park over there since Planet Hollywood doesn’t offer free parking for hotel guests, but this was after I discovered they charge $18 a day. Well played Caesars. My gold status at MGM earns me free parking, and I’m happy to take advantage of that. I then make my way over to Aria to wire some money to Detroit, gas up the car, and grab some lunch. I’m very sluggish today and head back to the hotel to take a nap.
I wake up around 4 and I’m starving. The Bellagio Buffet opens at 5 for dinner, so I take a shower and head over there. I skip most of the line with my gold status and scarf down a lot of food. The bartender sells me on the All You Drink package, which is only $24.99. The bartender, Rick, remembers me from a few days ago. Rick is the guy everyone wants working for them. He’s quick, friendly, and has worked at Bellagio from day 1. Each time he’s waited on me, he’s thanked for me visiting Vegas, and you can tell he truly means it. You won’t get this from the Gen Z crew. Anyway, the downside to Rick is that he knows me now, and will be pouring generously. I get wrecked at the bar and head back to the hotel. It’s only 7:00 pm, but I’ve had my fill. It’s bedtime.
Until next time, Vegas.
Jambasket in Vegas