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Old 01-10-08, 11:25 AM
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Default 2Tone Vegas Trip Report #8: 100k+ geeks in the desert

This will be ridiculously long. I’ll separate out the CES part for those who are interested in that aspect.

The Consumer Electronics Show, held every January in sunny Las Vegas, is a highlight of my year. It is among the largest trade shows in the world, with over 100,000 attendees checking out the latest in just about anything you can plug in. This was my third time attending. Getting my company to send me is a major perk.

I arrived Sunday afternoon. Hotel rates during the show are through the roof, so I stayed at the Excalibur for $225 a night, twice what it usually is. Dropped my bags off, and headed out for a tour of poker rooms on the strip.

First up was Planet Hollywood. After the epic failure that was the Aladdin and what seemed like endless construction, the rebranded hotel/casino is finally done. And I’d say it is not bad, but nothing special. They have a Hawaiian Tropic restaurant (Hooters by any other name), and all the expected shops, bars, and hundreds of slot machines. As for the poker room, they were spreading a couple tables of 1/3 NL, and a 2/4 limit game, with tournaments every night at 7. I was looking for higher than 2/4, so I continued on my way.

Next was Paris, which was also spreading a smaller NL cash game. But they added me to the list for a 3/6 game directly across the street at Ballys, as they are on the same system. By the time I made the walk over, my seat was ready. The tables was actually pretty solid, but I ran well (AA 2x in an hour), and I left up $60-something.

Ready for a break, I went over to Bellagio. Poker room was hopping, but the big game was not in progress. I hit the buffet, which was good, but not great. Still, it is always nice to enjoy unlimited crab cakes and carrot cake.

Then it was over to Caesars, which has a great poker room. It is in its own closed-door area, with dozens of tables, a separate tournament area, and a good selection of games. They sat me immediately at a fishy 3/6 table, and I ran over it, spending some of my Slansky bucks earned in a nasty downswing at the end of last year. I even hit quad 10s for a $60 high hand bonus. I left up $200, which is pretty awesome for a game of that limit.

Poetry is the new name of what used to be OPM, the hip-hop club located in the Forum shops. And unlike the other mega-clubs (Jet, Moon, etc.), it is full-on hip-hop – no techno or 80s rock here. They frisk you at the door, the only club that does so, at the clientele sport Rocawear and Timberlands, not Armani. Being a short, bald 37-year-old white guy who is heavily into Jay-Z and Ludacris, I loved it. I spent some time with a rough-around-the-edges local lady who used to strip, but now just dresses slutty. She pretended to flirt with me, and I bought us gin and tonics. A fine example of a symbiotic relationship. I was back in the room by 2 a.m.

Begin CES portion

Those into consumer tech have probably seen all the media coverage. In person, it is difficult to convey the magnitude of it all. I spent most of my time in advertising/marketing sessions, but even if I had spent it all walking the floor, I’m still not sure I would have had time to see everything.

Highlights:

The TVs are sick. Panasonic made headlines with a 150 inch (!) HDTV, the world’s largest. It is basically a movie screen. Sony went the other way with what they call an OLED TV, that is only 11-inches across and a remarkable 3 millimeter thick. Sharp went for quality, showing off a prototype of a TV with 100:000 to 1 resolution. All of the very latest ones have this weird hyper-real quality to the picture.

Perhaps the most out there was LG’s full-on 3D TV. You have to be the right distance away, but when you are, it delivers a true 3D-experience, to a point where you want to jump back when Jet Li kicks. And no glasses required.

LG trotted out a new phone called a Viewty, with a 5.1 megapixel camera. No more blurry camera phone pics. As a whole, I wasn’t blown away by any of the phones, because while the tech specs are great, the interface sucks, especially compared to the Iphone (Apple is the only company not as CES), which you don’t have to learn how to use. Motrola’s most advanced phones require training to use half the features.

Big name brands have huge booths, all with some kind of attraction. Panasonic had NFLer Michael Irwin signing autographs. Dolby had a 60ft. high Transformer model. The car stereo companies all have crazy vehicles, including Lamborghinis and tricked-out cars that look like Pimp-My-Ride rejects. The smaller companies have goofier but fun products, like a full-size R2D2 robot that projects DVD movies out of top of it, just like the original did in the movie. Or a vest you wear while playing Halo that lets you feel it when you get shot. Or sunglasses that play movies inside.

Intel gave me a T-shirt and showed off its new chip, which is super-fast. The Go-Daddy girls pranced around in tight tank-tops. GM had a hydrogen-engine car. Dell had a semi-truck you could walk through, filled with top-of-the-line gaming gear. And I loved the Lennon bus, which is touring the country in support of music education.

The whole thing is just too much fun.

End CES portion

Monday night I returned to Planet Hollywood to play in a $70 tournament, which was supposed to have a bounty of Mike “The Grinder” Mizrachi. But he didn’t show. Oh well. 61 players sat. I took a big hit early when I had to lay down pocket Kings when the river put a one card straight out there and the villain pushed all-in. But I got it all back next orbit, tripling up when my Ace-high flush got there. That put me in solid position, until I lost more than a third of my stack after correctly guessing a loose player had nothing more than an Ace when he pushed all-in, but he got one on the turn. Blinds reached the stratosphere, and I lost a race with AK vs. a pocket pair. Out in 11th, top eight paid. Meh.

A couple times during the tourney I got encouraging text messages from none other than TP/Mark himself. After I busted out we met up at the Bellagio poker room, where he was running ice cold. We went off and enjoyed a couple of beers and some good conversation, and played a fun round of “Who’s a hooker?” at the bar. Always a pleasure – thanks man.

At around midnight, he went back to his skill game, and, after a brief detour at Coyote Ugly, I went back to Excalibur to tangle and with the drunks and donkeys. A co-conspirator and I convinced a 2-4 table to switch to 2-6 spread game, and I ended up winning another $30 or so before crashing out.

Tuesday night I upgraded to the Wynn buffet, which is a major step up from the Bellagio, and well worth the close to $40. Seared tuna, delicious fried chicken, great veggies. Yum.

On the way back I stopped in at TI. Nice casino, and poker room is dark and atmospheric. But again, no limit games, though at one table a bunch of degenerates were playing a short-handed game of Chinese Poker.

After another small winning session at Caesars 3/6, I waited well over an hour to pay $30 to get into Pure, the celeb-studded nightclub. On previous trips it had been so crowded I couldn’t even get to the doorman to grease him, and I was curious about the place. It’s definitely a great space. One room is all red, and has an elevated stage where the Pussycat Dolls perform. The other is white, and features a dance floor and tables for bottle service. Upstairs is an ultra-swank deck overlooking the strip. Tons of guys, but some gorgeous girls as well. But like LAX (same owners), it is more about $400 bottles of vodka and celebs in the VIP than anything else, and the dance floor is too small. Tao and Moon remain my favorite clubs. Or at least my favorite clubs where the girls don’t take off their clothes.

That’s the thing about Vegas. It finds your weakness. Some people piss away thousands at the table games. I play only poker (Though I did spend $5 on the Sopranos slot machine, just because it had Tony S. on it).

Some drink themselves into a stupor. I enjoy cocktails responsibly.

Some people stuff themselves sick with food. I eat no more than my fill.

But when I beautiful girl wearing only lipstick and a thong wants to sit in my lap and coo in my ear, I’m helpless to resist, even at $20 a song. This time it was Olympic Gardens, which such a liberal dance policy that I’m sure it constitutes a crime in most states.

Wed. evening I squeezed in a few more winning hands at Excalibur before dashing off to the airport, happy to be going home to see wife and kid after a few days away. Next trip is TBD, but hopefully it won’t be too long – probably for the WSOP. And I’m still going to try for the marathon in December. We’ll see.
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  #2  
Old 01-10-08, 11:55 AM
melioris melioris is offline
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awesome report 2-tone. lots of classic lines in there, but my favorite is quoted in the + rep you got.
  #3  
Old 01-10-08, 12:10 PM
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Zybomb Zybomb is offline
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Nice report -- enjoyed it
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  #4  
Old 01-10-08, 01:56 PM
Trinket Trinket is offline
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Good stuff! Sounds a blast!

+rep for the enjoyment
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  #5  
Old 01-10-08, 02:19 PM
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Reel Deal Reel Deal is offline
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Top shelf report! Thanks.
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  #6  
Old 01-10-08, 11:52 PM
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Spidey44 Spidey44 is offline
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Great report...I can't wait to get back!
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