You're only as young as the last time you changed your mind. – Timothy Leary
Friday was our 10th Anniversary. We celebrated by sleeping in and reminisced about our honeymoon, ten years prior in Las Vegas. The weather is supposed to improve but only barely does so. We enjoyed brunch at IHOP on the old end of the strip since we had eaten there during our first trip to Vegas together. It was decent, and in fact, better than both the IHOPs near home in Texas, but not great.
Sadly, the Holy Cow brewpub, another interesting eatery we enjoyed on our honeymoon (also located near the Sahara), has been out of business for a few years. After brunch, we went downtown to the Golden Nugget and Fremont Street. Downtown Las Vegas looks older, crappier, and more dilapidated every time I go there. It’s not even a shadow of its former self, it’s a sad reminder like an old faded poster of a band that used to be good. The Golden Nugget is the only decent looking place down there. Their poker room was almost empty on Friday around noon. I should have inquired about the room used to film High Stakes Poker. I would love to sit at the table, get a photo, and even buy some merchandise but if the possibility even exists, they don’t advertise it effectively since I did not see anything about it while we were there. Don’t they know that HSP is the best poker show (AINEC) around? One would think they would take advantage of this marketing and merchandising opportunity given all of the Nugget branding in the show.
After we left the Nugget, we headed over to the Mirage to get our pre-purchased tickets to Love from the will call window so we don’t get stuck in a long line the night of the show. They have a magnificent marine aquarium with lots of coral (photo above).
At approximately 2pm, the Mirage poker room appeared almost dead with only two tables going. I notice there are no CardPlayer magazines in the Mirage poker room either. Surprisingly, the waitresses at Mirage seem a bit long in the tooth, as well as, not as shapely as I would expect for people that spend all day on their feet.
After we left the near empty Mirage, we went to the Fashion Mall on the strip. Foolishly, we did not valet and had to tour the garage for about 20 minutes to find an available parking spot. Despite the sort of interesting exterior appearance of this place, the mall itself was bland, unimpressive, and un-Vegas like. It basically resembled any other shopping mall anywhere in the country. I thought it was a terrible waste of limited Vegas time. Why in the world do people shop while in Vegas? You pay to fly there. You pay to stay there. And then, with all the unique activities one could engage in while in Vegas, thousands of people shop.
I don’t get it at all. I saw nothing there that I could not acquire in a mall in Houston or from the comfort of my own home on the internet. Plus, you have to carry or haul your newly purchased crap back home enduring the airlines draconian baggage policies or pay to mail it. WTF? We don’t waste too much time at the mall. Once my wife sees the thing, she agrees with me that it’s no different than the mall back home and that coming to Vegas and shopping seems silly.
When we get back to Planet Hollywood, she wants to relax in the room and I, of course, head back to the poker room. I obtain seat 3 and immediately become acquainted with some interesting characters. Sitting next to me (in the 2 seat) is a redheaded woman I will call the “California cougar” since, judging from her hands and face, she is roughly 55 but her boyfriend (in the 8 seat) is at most 30. She is chatty, frontally augmented, and tells me she is from some place in California that has a nearby casino but I have never heard of. She also tells me she likes to play suited connectors but I don’t see her show any during the approximately two hours she is at my table. At the opposite end of the table (seat 7) is a big, affable gentleman from South Carolina named Billy. Billy is the table captain, a solid player, and has the entire table covered thanks to him felting a couple of opponents soon after I sat down. A new fellow, soon to be revealed as a complete neophyte, takes the seat to the right of the cougar (i.e. the 1 seat) and his buddy takes the 4 seat. I start straddling my button each time I have the chance. Soon, most everyone is doing the same. The neophyte revealed himself when he straddled his button, no one raised, and when the dealer looked at him and asked option? He folded. Yes, folded. Every time he was big blind and there was no raise and every time he straddled his own button and there was no raise, he folded when asked about his option. The dealer subtly grinned as she mucked his hand but never said a word about it.
Soon, the neophyte and Billy get into a big hand. Having watched the novice a few rounds, he never bets without a really solid hand although he called and chased a few times. The flop has two spades and the river brings a third spade. Neophyte shoves all in. Billy says call but does not move his chips forward since his stack is huge and he easily has the other guy covered. The neophyte apparently did not hear him say call and thought he said fold since he did not push any chips forward so he flips his hand forward face down and reaches for the pot. Billy tables Ks - Qs for the King high flush and stares at him. The dealer begins to gather the pot and push it to Billy when the noob says, “wait!” The dealer says, “Sir, you mucked your hand”. The noob says I thought he (Billy) said “fold.” The dealer begins to explain what happened, still preparing to push the pot to Billy, when Billy, the Southern gentleman, tells the dealer to turn up the noob’s hand and let it play. The dealer says OK and turns up the noob’s As-9s for the nut flush and Billy graciously loses a pot of approximately $450 with a shrug and a wry smile. Now that, my friends, is a true Southern gentleman. To make matters worse, the neophyte picks up all his chips and leaves right after that preventing Billy or anyone else from winning any back. Now, in my home game, if a new guy did that against me, I would definitely behave the same way Billy did. However, this is Las Vegas and the noob was a complete stranger, so I have to admit, I doubt I would have been so kind.
While I am still contemplating what I would have done, my button arrives and I straddle it again. I am dealt 4h- 5h. The flop comes 10 high with two hearts. When the 10h comes on the river, one of my opponents goes all in. I wonder if he has a higher flush so I replayed the hand in my head. I did not put him on a flush so I called. He tables K-10 for trip tens. I table my flush and he’s felted. Minutes later, my wife arrives and says she is ready to go eat so I cash out (up one buy in).
We dine at the Spice Market buffet, which had come highly recommended, and are regrettably underwhelmed. Great diversity of entrees but most of it has been sitting too long to be really good. Like everyone else mentioned in the Bible, I am quite fond of lamb but sadly, the lamb kabobs were overdone and chewy. I tried the osso bucco but it was also chewy and compromised from sitting too long under the heat lamps. The beef short ribs were good but not excellent. The prime rib was the best of the meats since it was deliciously juicy and rare. My wife, not being much of a food adventuress, stuck with her favorite and enjoyed the pizza - which was surprisingly good. While I usually skip dessert, I indulged and was glad I did. The desserts were very good. The service was reasonably attentive and kept our glasses full of their iced tea – which was tasty and definitely freshly brewed. Finally, the time had arrived to go see Cirque Du Soleil – LOVE. The Mirage poker room was packed to capacity at 9pm on Friday. Surprisingly, floor waitresses are no better looking on the night shift at Mirage than they are on the day shift. Maybe just another sign of how far the Mirage has fallen. The show, LOVE, was very good, and in fact, quite trippy. Someone in the creation/design of this show has enjoyed an altered state of mind and their influence and creativity was not lost on me. The music sounded incredibly clear and good. Seating is comfortable and no better/worse than any other large concert type venue. Given the success of this show and the fact that there is already a similar show about Elvis’s music, I am wondering how long it will be before we see a similar show about the Stones, Led Zep, etc. For good bands that made good music with wide market appeal, there are new fans waiting to be created. Suffice to say, my wife appreciates the Beatles more now than ever before. As we left, we talked about the music and the show. I hugged my wife closely and gently reminded her, I told you it was good stuff a long time ago but you know what they say about prophets in their own land.