Sunday, January 30, 2011

How many times have you asked the poker gods?

I don't know how many times I've asked the poker gods to let me flop quads. I know, calling from out of position with medium pocket pairs is stupid, that's why I checked! Plus, 3 other people were going to see this flop so why raise, out of position with 9's?

He bet into me every street too until I was all in :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Trip Report 5: Roller Derby at the Riviera

It would appear I took a bit longer of a break then I had planned, getting to the last of my trip reports. You know, it happens. It's friggin' cold here and sitting at a computer writing isn't...who am I trying to kid. I played some poker, hung out with the wife and kids playing Uno, I even played a live cash game at the neighbors house. I took a break. Felt good, now back to the story.

You will remember that I busted 13th in the blogger tournament at Aria. Felt good to go deep, sucked to just miss the money by a hair. I thought hard about sweating Drizz on his journey to win the whole thing, but a few months earlier, StB, Katitude and PokerVixen had talked me into getting tickets to the roller derby. I had only ever seen it on TV, so a live match could be a lot of fun!

I left Aria with about 30 minutes to the start of the derby. I normally don't carry a long lens with me without a purpose while in Vegas. They are heavy and big. So I needed to get from Aria to MGM to get my lens and the zip as fast as the monorail can take me to the Riviera on the other end of the strip. Uff. Thankfully, I seem to now my way around the strip like a pro and new to walk quickly from Aria to MGM, dart through the casino avoiding all the tourist pitfalls, up the elevator to the suites, in my room, grab the lens, look longingly at the bed and dream about sleep for a second, then back down the elevator, race through the shopping and food court, thinking about how hungry I was and calculating the time it would take to get food...nope, too long. Hop on the monorail and wait, and wait, and wait.

The MGM and the Riviera are on opposite ends of the train. Sigh. At least there my iPhone was there to keep me busy. Except, at this moment #ATTFAIL was in full affect and my service sucked. VinNay had been texting me, interested in attending the roller derby, but alas, my phone sucked. Data worked, but texting was a nightmare. He ended up doing something else anyways, but damn AT&T.

I get off the monorail at the Las Vegas Hilton. For some reason, I remember the terminal being a lot closer to the Riviera then it was. Could be, I'm pretty much a dumb ass and went the long way, but the nice alley I chose eventually got me there. I really don't recommend taking unknown, poorly lit roads devoid of humans when travelling in Las Vegas. It's really quite creepy and a tad on the scary side. I coped with the situation by cranking Rob Zombie's More Human Than Human and run/walking most of the way there. You know, it might have been really safe but I'm from a small town in Minnesota. I just assume I look like an easy mark.

It took me a while to find the back ballroom hosting the Sin City Rollergirls. The Riviera is what I like to think of as Old School Las Vegas. It's got a lot of glitter, but the smells and the sights are like out of the movies from decades ago. The carpet is really something to behold.

When I arrived, it didn't take me too long to find Kat and PokerVixen. They had pretty decent elevated seats and reserved a nice cushion for me to rest my butt. There was food at the venue and I hadn't eaten since the breakfast at the MGM the previous morning. These burgers weren't spectacular but they did hit the spot.

Seems the Sin City Roller Girls were battling the Hoover Damned. You just have to love the names in roller derby.

I sat with these two fine ladies and enjoyed the action. I really had no idea what was going on, but the ladies helped me out. This is definitely an experience worth checking out. I'd really like to go back next year, hopefully with a faster long lens and a monopod. The following are the shots I got. I'll give some description when necessary, but for the most part, I'll just leave you with the pictures. They do a far better job then I can of sharing with you the night at the derby.

This following little dude provided us our half time entertainment. In case you can't tell, he did a nice little dance rendition of Michael Jackson.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Like I need another blog

Well, we officially have a for real blog for my whiskey club, aka Bourbonators. To help things along, a few other members will be posting as well cuz we all know I need more blogs. If you are interested it's here: - stop by, ask questions, ponder coming to a meeting.

Next meeting is tonight and I've set up emailing posts...which could be occurring while we drink. This could end poorly.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker

Online Poker
I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker! The WBCOOP is a free online Poker tournament open to all Bloggers, so register on WBCOOP to play.
Registration code: XXXXXX 742766

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pot Limit 5 Card Draw - How I blew 45 minutes

I brought up Facebook tonight to see what's happening in the universe. That's a lot of silly games people play. Full Tilt has been running a lot of freerolls and overlayed tourneys lately starting from social networking Juggernaut. I figured what the hell, the kids and OhCountess went to bed early and I left the Apple TV up in the bedroom.

Tonight last minute, impulsive tournament was 5 card draw. I outlasted well over half of the field and even got a short railing from Mr. AlCantHang. I sure hope he's enjoying the weather up here in God's Country.

Um, kay. I haven't played this (5 card draw) sober since, um, since, um, since...well, I'm not sure I've ever played 5 card draw sober. A few months ago, inaugural Gambling Tales Podcast Freeroll Champion DeeBakes had talked me into playing Deuce to Seven Triple Draw. I had a good time and walked away thinking about stuff. Not life stuff, or profound stuff, but poker stuff.

I liked playing these obscurer games because the remind me of something that seems to be alluding many of the players in the tournaments. The fundamentals of solid tournament poker.

First rule: Know your position. So many players forget the value of position. I haven't found a game yet where position doesn't matter.

Second rule: Know what you are drawing to/trying to accomplish. Drawing to a gut shot straight draw is crazy gambling in any game. If there are more cards to come, have a plan, count your outs, understand what your opponents are trying to do. In 5 card draw, the number of cards a player chucks is important. Think about what kinds of hands a player stands pat, draws 1, 2 or 3 cards. If they don't shove a lot and draw 1, they are probably drawing. Again, reference rule 1 for how and why to remember this. The more cards make your hand a monster, the more valuable it is. 2233 is two pair but only drawing to 4 cards that make it better.

Third rule: Hammers are still cool and should be played like the proverbial nuts. Er, maybe not.

Forth rule: Never play a hand with a 9 in it. It's neither high nor low. Unless you have a lot of them, 9 high/low sucks in all games.

Fifth rule: Stud 8 sucks. (That's my opinion. It's another way of saying, don't expect to make money at games you suck giant monkey balls playing)

Sixth rule: luck, while a part of the game, doesn't win it. You can bet every street, shove every hand but eventually, luck loses to well timed aggression.

Seventh rule: on the word aggression. When you appear strong, raise. When others continually behave weak, bet stronger. No variation of poker rewards the weak, passive player.

Eight rule: while you can't win if you fold, folding and conserving chips can be a very valuable way to stay alive in a tournament. I remember hearing something from Annie Duke, a woman, once said about tournaments on line, (it went something like this, my memory is poor and I don't remember where this from to even look it up) "...a lot of the time, you can just let the weaker players impale themselves on your chips." While this sounds contradictory to the aggressive, not weak thing, this is also important to remember that when a less skilled player is trying to be aggressive, let them do the raising for you when your hand rocks. They don't mind and are really quite good at it.

These rules aren't colorfast and probably aren't even useful. Some (most) are just the ramblings of an overtired geek, but I think this can definitely spur on some conversation. What are your thoughts on rules that transcend games? Why is it, that the more experience I have playing poker, I find learning variations a little easier? Do you really think you can honestly say, your puppy is cuter then mine? (Shameless plug for my photoblog, almost doing the JJOK always link to yourself thing...but I'm only a D lister...)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Knowing when to play the hammer

I think I picked the wrong time to lay down the hammer preflop. What was I thinking?

Congrats to my friend DeeBakes! He won the Gambling Tales Podcast freeroll the other night! Here's his recap. Head on over and congratulate him.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mookied I Did

Played the Mookie. Saw old friends. Lost all my chips. (LB)A2 vs (BB)32. A33 flop. Sigh.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Trip Report 4: The #WPBT Winter Classic Aria featureing a Group Photo

Saturday morning had arrived in Las Vegas. Back in Minnesota, my wife was struggling through one of the worst snow storms we've had in a very long time. The furnace intake pipe had gotten plugged with snow, twice. She was so snowed in, a neighbor in a 4 wheel drive had to take her to work. I honestly had no words for her. I felt terrible sitting in a hotel room, in Las Vegas, enjoying the mid 60's for highs. What could I do? Funny thing, I couldn't even fly home if I wanted to. The airports were all closed.

I pretty much just spent the morning hanging out in my room, watching some cable news and playing some online poker. Stupid I know, but there comes a time when a guy just wants to enjoy the quiet.

The tournament was scheduled to start at noon at Aria. I was really excited to see this place. It opened the day after I left in 2009. Some of the local bloggers had really good things to say and Phil Ivey's Room was there. How cool is that?

Aria and City Center aren't really all that hard to find. They basically define huge. The walk there from MGM isn't too bad. I was hoping to get there early enough for the poker lesson, but that didn't happen. Kinda bummed about that. I did swing by the Louis Vuitton shop for a little motivation. Not that I'd ever want anything there, but I told my wife that if I won the tourney, I'd stop by there on my way out to get her a little something. She just laughed.

The walk into Aria isn't completely finished from the Bellagio side. You are walking around The Cosmopolitan which I believe open THE DAY AFTER I LEFT (I smell conspiracy). When I finally found something with Aria on it, I also ran into CK which was good. She gave me directions to the card room. Aimless wandering could end.

The night before had pretty much decimated my cash supplies. I learned a valuable lesson about modern casinos. The ATM's are label "Coupon" something. I guess it makes sense they want you thinking about cashing out rather then getting more cash.

The card room really is beautiful. It's not quite as secluded as Caesar's but it's not sitting next to a live band. Whew.

Lot's of bloggers were already there. Here's Dawn.

Joe Speaker relaxing the day after golf. Like the zen :)

On the left, you can see my bounty, a photograph I shot when Kat was in town circling the lakes with her hubby. I think I actually took this photo when we were down to two tables. I have a habit of keeping my bounty in my bag until someone asks.

My starting table, to the best of my memory, had CaityCaity, VinNay, Avoque, PokerGnome, ThisIsNotApril, PokerVixen and I know I'm forgetting people and some of these might have moved to our table. Very sorry about that. I had a notebook.I failed to use it.Sigh.

I felt really good going into the tournament. Structure seemed excellent, the staff of the Aria Poker Room were outstanding. I had an excellent mix of players. Team Skol (Drizz, Mattazuma and myself) were all wearing our purple with pride.

Gnome was on my left. He was schooling the table in tight/aggressive. I was trying to stay in that range. I seemed to keep an average to slightly short stack all day. Which is better then no stack. There weren't many memorable hands. I remember the first time I took my bounty out was for CK. I was shortish and moved in. I was definitely in a could be stealing position. I think I had KK, so I wanted a call. She folded, the bounty not quite enough to get her to do it. Maybe next year I frame something bigger.

I had a lot of fun with every dealer. As soon as someone new would sit down, I'd apologize for the table. Just in case. I didn't want to forget to do it. You never know with this bunch.

My big lucky moment came when I shipped it in with QQ. Special K called with AJo. He had been on a rush for a while, accumulating chips. When the flop came ace high, I grabbed my camera bag and started standing up. I hate that feeling when you see the flop hit that ace. Ugh. Now you are on a two outer. Vindication in the form of a resuck filled me with much joy when the third queen came on the river. I got the queen and didn't even use my "ONE TIME!" yell. Gotta save that for the final table to the Main Event.

There was only a few hands I really regret. One had BuddyDank raising and this old guy next to me (he was someone's dad. Don't remember who) moving all in. I looked down and found 44. Not a great hand, but I was in the little blind and it was starting to get really expensive. Buddy had been his usual nit/aggressive and the old guy had a really bad habit of show me his cards. I did see this one, but every time he'd shoved before, he showed me his ace. I was at best in coin flip. Of course, I would have flopped a full house and busted both of them. I don't know if it was right to fold.

Something that was weighing on my mind about then was the Luckbox Last Longer Challenge. Drizz and I were both still in it. Matt had busted 70th and we were still in the running. Ugh. Metagames. Drizz also had to be two to my left at that time. Double Ugh.

My run would end in 13 place. I think I had J9o in early position. The blinds were just about to put me in the too short to do anything range so I had hoped to get one more steal in before the jump. Shelly was also short and found AJ. Why did it have to be AJ. AQ would have been so much better. As it turns out, not only did she get my photo, but she also got the little bottle of Wild Turkey from ebhizzle, got from me, that I got from VinNay and he got from Dr. Pauly. Very glad it went to someone that loves a good tradition! See ya next year! (Maybe we need to talk about getting it mounted. Just a thought)

With my demise, Team Skol was still in it. Our champion, Drizz just need to go a little deeper. I know I probably should have stayed, but I had tickets for the Sin City Roller Girls with Kat and PokerVixen. I had just enough time to get to the Riviera to catch most of it. With modern technology, Matt stayed behind and kept me posted with Twitter. Now, going into the tournament, I was already stuck $250. This tournament added $135 to this. Uff.

The #WPBT hashtag was filling with people talking about the chop. It was a big one. Drizz negotiated it well and Team Skol ended up 3rd in the last longer challenge! $58 dollars in cold hard cash and $200 in PokerStars money! That makes me slightly less stuck! Woot! Woot!

I know there's stuff I'm forgetting from the day. I got a feeling there's gonna be an odds and ends posts filled with all the crap I've forgotten.

I'll share the pics and stories from the roller derby in my next post. Now, it's time for something I know a few of you have been waiting patiently for. Before the tournament April was kind enough to get the poker room manager to delay the tournament a few minutes and take a group photo! You won't see this many bloggers together in one photo all that often. We had 97 paid entrants in the tournament. Several photos were taken. Large group shots are much like herding cats. You just never get everyone together, smiling and looking shart at the same time. The two pictures seemed the best.

If you would like a copy of one of these without the watermark and with better resolution, just drop me an email at the link above. Up on top where it says "Contact Information". If you click through them, you will see a larger version. Normally, I hope people send me an email requesting permission to use my photographs in their blogs. I don't think I've ever declined a request. I just like the courtesy of being asked. You don't need to do that for these two photos. They are for you. You can still drop me an email to say hi :) These should be on Flickr in the next day or two.

WPBT Winter Classic 2010

Still to come, Roller Derby, Lagasse Sport Stadium and a photowalk I won't soon forget. Stay tuned!

Struggling with frustraion

For being a subscriber to Card Player magazine, I get these regular emails, the Card Player Newsletter. Now usually, I read the Pro Tips and move on. I get the hard copy of the magazine so I'll usually be reading it later. This one caught my eye. A tip from Thomas Marchese:

It really has to do with patience and not getting frustrated. With live tournaments you are really playing in just a few, even during the course of a year. It is just about playing you're A-game as much as you can until you run good. Everyone is going to run good at some point, so all you can do is play your best consistently and you will have better results eventually. Thomas Marchese
Ain't this the truth. I find staying in my A game to be about the hardest thing to do. It becomes increasingly hard when you are trying to focus with kids, a dog, a puppy, a job, a life, just trying to get a slice of your attention. Getting the good run of cards is something that just seems so far away.

I really think my biggest struggle with this game is just this. Staying in my A game.

How do you stay in your A game? Are you able to get away before your C game kicks in? It might just be time to read Elements of Poker, by Tommy Angelo.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Trip Report Part 3: The Neon Museum and more flushing sounds #WPBT

So basically, parts one and two got you through Thursday. What can I say, there was a lot to Thursday.

Friday started the way Fridays usually start on this trip. Very slowly and please, for the love of Pete, keep it down. There are headaches among us. It's not like I really slept a lot. I think the total for the night was 3 hours. Weee!

So my credit card receipts show me as having breakfast at the buffet at MGM. This matches my memory fairly well and a photo I took (shown on the right). Again, my company was really the highlight of the meal. Gracie, Pablo and BettyUnderground.

The food there was pretty tasty, but the service, well, we had to beg to get our check. When we finished eating, most of the staff were just standing around, except our waitress. No one knew where she was or interested in helping us find her. Bad, bad, bad.

I wondered over to the card room, still a bit shellshocked from the night before. I hate losing, it destroys my confidence. There's this new thing being dealt over at the MGM card room. It's called "Beginner Hold 'em". My poker dyslexia read it as "Lightly Breaded Fish". The one kind of seafood I like. It's regular ring hold 'em with a max buy in of $50 and set up as a 5¢/$1. I only had about 35 minutes to kill before we needed to leave for the Neon Museum, so what the hell? Pablo, California April and Shelly were in...

Really, if you need $15 quickly and know how to read people and play aggressively, this is your game. In 30 minute I made $15. Most of it just firing at pots no one wanted.

But I had places to be...

Kat was running into some logistical problems so it was up to me to find Mattazuma and his lovely lady down the Strip aways to catch a cab. The Neon Museum is on the other end of the Strip and by the other end I mean go past Downtown other end. It's most definitely a cab ride.

We played twitter tag until we finally hooked up at the taxi stand of Bally's. I had the address of the Museum and experience getting there, so the cabbie's lack of knowledge didn't stop us. Of course, we called ahead just in case to make sure they knew there was a good chance we might be light. We are bloggers and not terribly organized.

The first picture on this post is of the new gateway to the Neon Graveyard. The city invested in a very nice entrance. This is much improved over last year. Now the city dudes using the leaf blowers were a bit annoying, but I understand things need to get done. This was one indication to me that things were indeed moving forward on this place. Last year we were told that by this year, they would have a building ready. The building was still in the same shape as last year with the offices still across the street in a small office complex. Hopefully, their dreams come true soon. I'd love to be able to shoot at a different time then none or 2 PM.

This following picture is of our tour guide. She was most definitely a girly girl. Right down to the peroxide blond hair. Thankfully, she knew all the good stories to tell about the many pieces on display.

A probably should look at the white balance of this one. Seems a little cold. For some reason, I just love the layers of signs.

This dude is still here! It would be so awesome if he was moved to somewhere that made a better background. Oh well, I guess I'll have to wait until I get some better glass. The detail on this one is amazing.

Finally, the silver slipper. This is the first in a series of restored signs that the hope to place down the center of the Strip, a bit of nostalgia for us history buffs.

I'm still going through the pictures. A lot of stuff hadn't changed since last year so I didn't bother shooting it again. I still very much enjoyed the tour. She told a few new stories and hanging out with Kat and Mattazuma is always a good time.

When we were done, we shared a cab back to the IP. I was an easy monorail ride back to MGM. I figured I go back there, freshen up in the hotel room and get ready for a night of poker. Tonight was cash game poker.

After sitting on the bed in my hotel room, I noticed a hour had passed. Let this be warning to you new people. If you stop moving for a few minutes, be prepared to lose some time sleeping. It happens.

I cleared cobwebs out of my brain from the unscheduled siesta and headed down to the card room. I bought into the $2/$4 limit hold 'em game as per my custom. I've never been very profitable at these stakes, but they weren't spreading $3/$6 either. Shelly and April were looking for that as well.

I sat at the table all night. Shelly was there. Wolfshead, Jasper6294 and a blogger I'd never met and didn't catch his name was there. Wolfshead was there when I got there and couldn't wait to get to a bigger game. I had fun tweeting that I could see him and was at his table. At that point, we'd never seen each other formally. Jasper was running with the gods and so was the other blogger. This very nice pharmacist from Chicago was sitting on my left, a cowboy on my right. The cowboy was a good, solid card player. Shelly was 3 to my right. The cowboy's wife was on the opposite end of her husband. I had nice conversations with the people on either side of me. I should the pharmacist my blog. She seemed to have a good time reading it on my phone. She also thought it was kinda cool I seemed to know tons of people in the card room. Hi fellow bloggers!

The night didn't go well at all.

Shelly mentioned it in her blog. she said I was "...getting kicked in the gut." Frankly, it felt like repeated kicks to the nuts with a "thank you sir, may I have another" coming from my mouth every 10 minutes. Let's see. I ran into quads, once while I was holding the big end of the full house, once were I flopped the nuts straight and they rivered it. My two pair was never good. AA lost to AQ. If I flopped the straight, someone would improve with runner runner to something bigger. It was some of the most miserable poker I've played in forever. I could tell bad beat stories all night. I really should have listened PokerGrump, "$2/$4 limit is impossible to beat. Don't even try." $200 lesson learned.

I will say this about the MGM poker room, there is a very good chance I will never play there again. This has nothing to do with the dealers, the players or any of the staff in the card room. My experience there was just fine. No, this comes from the fact that someone decided to place a live band right next to the poker room. There were times that night we couldn't hear the people sitting next to us. As for hearing the dealers, not a chance. They were yelling and doing the best they could, but the band was just too loud. To put icing on the cake, beside being loud, they also sucked and sucked bad.

At one point, a few of us were trying to figure out what the song was they were trying to play. Granted, I know nothing of country music, but this was indescribable. One guy finally cracked it. They were playing "Cocaine" by Eric Clapton. We had no clue. They were stumbling all over their instruments. Sad. I hope they pick a new venue next year for the mixed games. This was awful.

So, here's my degeneracy so far.

  • +$35 playing Pai Gow
  • -$100 playing blogger $1/$2 NLH
  • +$15 Beginnger NLH
  • -$200 playing $2/$4 LHE
I'm stuck $250 at this point. Sigh. I suck.

Up next: The WPBT Winter Classic, Lagasse Sport Stadium and a Photo Walk to remember. Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Trip Report Part 2: Foie gras and the $100 Cooler #WPBT

Bloggers really are some of the best people you will ever meet. If you've never attended a blogger gathering, your soul is missing an experience like no other. These invisible Internet friends, I just don't know if I have the words other then, they rock.

I live on the city limits of the 3rd largest city in the 21st most populated state located in the frozen tundra of the Midwest. As has been pointed out many times by the east coast bloggers, I live in a fly-over state. Which is just fine with us because then we don't have to share God's country with them. What most people don't realize is that we endure the cold bitter winters because until you've sat in an Adirondack chair next to one of 11,842 lakes, you've never found perfection. No, seriously. One of my favorite comments from a blogger that has enjoyed one of our lakeside summers goes like this, "How do you guys keep jobs in this state?" He was fortunate enough to spend about a week up north. Once you are there, it's tough to pull yourself away.

So, know you have the back story. Bloggers rock and I don't get out much.

A couple of days before this year's gathering in Las Vegas, I received a direct tweet from Gracie.

@Peacecorn: When are you getting in?
@OhCaptain: looks like my plane is scheduled to land ~1PM on Thursday.
@Peacecorn: 6:40 on Thurs. EEEE! Would you like to join us for dinner at Picasso @ Bellagio that night? Reservation is at 9:30pm. (1/2)
@Peacecorn: Garth, his better half, Kat, Me, Pablo, Al, and Drizz will be dining. Garth and I owe his better half a nice dinner as she won our Fantasy Top Chef game.
@OhCaptain: sure! Never eaten there. Sounds like a lot of fun! I'll add it to TripIt and other reminder systems now. I may have had a couple by then :)
Sweet! Dinner plans!

I had eaten at the buffet at Bellagio before. Food was good. I quickly looked up the web page for this restaurant to check out what I'd signed up for, but if memory serves, their servers were having problems and the page didn't load. I didn't really think much more about this. I just simply love getting fed.

Now, go back to the previous recap to fast forward to about 8:30 PM at the Imperial Palace (IP). I'd done some drinkin, some Pai Gow and little more drinking. I wasn't really smashed, just lightly toasty.

The other dinner goers were starting to gather at the Geisha Bar. I noticed my good buddy from Minnesota, Drizz looked a little different from his usual.

Now, this photo on the left is an artist's rendition of how I normally see Drizz through several hours of drinking. He's dressed for success at the IP for the holidays.

This photo on the right, is how he actually appeared.

Kat had mentioned that she had some unexpected funds arrive that would pay for dinner and she was dressed to the nines as well.

Garth and his better half were now here. They looked fabulous.

Gracie and Pablo showed up. Crap, his shirt had a collar. A collar.

I was wearing this t-shirt and a pair of tan cargo pants.

My carry-on is usually filled with only camera equipment and changes of socks and underwear. I just can't bring myself to wearing those for too long without a change. T-shirts, pants and hoodies (my standard Vegas uniform) are worn until they, you know, can't be worn without laundry soap. I bring with me cash for the usual daily expense, aka poker. For everything else, there's Mastercard.

I have shopped the gift shop at Bellagio before. I knew they would have some golf shirts, polos and the like. This wasn't really a big deal, it was just me pulling a "not ready for primetime" gaff. The gift shop had a very nice black Nike golf shirt on clearance. Whew! A collar!

Clothing attire set, we headed down the stairs to the AAA Five Diamond restaurant. I had assumed this meant it was decent. I did a lot of assuming on this trip. We were taken to a large circular table and seated by a most gracious staff. The picture below should give you a pretty good idea of what I saw.

Removing the menu revealed this lovely plate. The cubist has done well.

Have I mentioned that I've never eaten at a place like this before? Now, mama raised me with some manners. I wasn't used to eating with the hogs outback. No, I knew approximately which fork went with which foods. I do still wonder why this first plate was used. It was pretty and all but never at one thing off of it. We just looked at it.

Our menu for the evening consisted two sides. A five course and a four course. The 5 course had a few choices to be made and seemed to make sure you had to order at least one item of the seafood persuasion. The menu on the right, the four course, for as good as my French is, seemed to be navigable without seafood. There were a few things I had no idea what they were, but when I travel with the bloggers...

Remember how I said I don't get out much. This is where the bloggers come in. I love adventure but I usually don't know where to start. Adventure starts right here, right now...just without seafood. I don't like seafood. In the vernacular of the common man, I'm really picky. I like land roaming animals. But back to the story.

I was determined to eat everything that was served to me. Regardless of what it was...avoiding the obvious picky stumbles (seafood), I was gonna do this. I needed to spread my wings.

The first dish was a squash and marshmallow soup. I was looking forward to this because, while I'm picky as hell, I LOVE SQUASH! Below is a photo of the soup. The serving staff did an excellent job of laddeling the soup from the serving dish to the dinner dish.

The soup was outstanding in flavor. I don't remember exactly what was the lump of stuff in the middle and I'm pretty sure I would normally had avoided it because I don't normally eat the lumps in the middle of things I don't know what they are but on this day, I at it. Those three marshmallows you see there, added a sweetness to the soups fresh squash flavor. The soup seemed a little on the cool side for me, which very well could be how it's supposed to be served but definitely didn't diminish the flavors. If I had one complaint, the marshmallows had a slight crispness too them that associate with things that have sat uncovered too long. Again, maybe that's how it's supposed to be, but I did notices a roughness to their texture.

It was at this point that a blogger saved the day for me, yet again. Kat leans over to me and said "You gonna stop recording and start experiencing?" What was I doing? I kept taking pictures when I should have been letting the atmosphere and the good food take over. Thank you, Kat.

The other courses tried my senses and my pickiness. I actually don't remember everything I was served. I ate everything on my plates. When I was done with the foie gras, I leaned into cat and asked what it was. The told me it was foie gras, but you might as well have told me it was [fill in the blank]. I had no idea. I'm guessing the way it was prepared for everyone else was way better then the way I had mine. Mine was a chilled meat pate served with browned pineapple and green things and a red sauce. I'll be honest, it was tough for me to get that one down, but I'll remind you, I'm REALLY picky and I ate ALL of it.

The roasted veal chop was another story. This was amazing. Holy baby cow! Al did a write up of this dinner and I think he had the same thing. My goodness. Cooked to absolute perfection and served with a rosemary flavored mashed potato. Just spectacular. As Al said, "...more step along the path until we sat back with those silly "fat and happy" grins." Those of us eating the veal chop had a dilema, there were tasty bits of meat still stuck to the bone that our forks just weren't getting. Is it appropriate to nibble on the bone? We weren't sure, so we did it anyways. Nomnomnom.

I know I'm missing a course. Wish I could remember it, but I stopped recording and just started experiencing. This experience must have left me. So sad.

Somewhere along the way, we noticed that the latest WPT winner was also dining there. Antonio Esfandiari he was celebrating his victory that day in the Bellagio Five Diamonds Championship. Not my first brush with poker fame, but a pretty cool one. (Meeting Dario Minieri wasn't really all that cool, he was kind of an ass)

Just when we were being reminded that it was inappropriate to quote from Monty Python's Meaning of Life that we were full and couldn't eat another bite, they served dessert. This I had to record.

I know there's a better name for this, but it was a chocolate lava cake with a walnut(?) ice cream? It was easily the most amazing thing I've ever eaten. The green in the picture is a reflection of a light. Please ignore that. The chocolate star. Tasty. Wow.

We were really enjoying the great company and the outstanding food. Truly one of the best experiences of my life. Thank you.

The patio doors and all the windows look over Lake Bellagio. These next two shots were taken from the veranda outside of the dining area.

Well, we finished up. Fat and happy for sure. The maitre d' was kind enough to take a group photo for us.

We headed back to the IP to catch up with those unlucky enough not to join us. Hopefully, no one had to endure the Burger Palace.

So, why did I mention the $100 cooler? I had sobered up while dining at Picasso and figured I could join the bloggers now playing $1/$2 NLHE. I haven't played live NLHE cash in a long time. I was determined this trip to not miss too many chances to play live poker with the bloggers. Although, past experiences with live poker usually mean losses by a cooler...this should be different. Blogger money is usually so easy and sweet.

I held my own playing most likely overly tight and aggressive. Not really getting into too many hands and never seeing a river. Maybe 30 - 45 minutes into the session, I was dealt K 10. Almost everyone had limped into the pot, including Miami Don. The flop comes 10 10 6. GIN!

I check in the LB. Someone in late position does a smallish raise, it comes back to me I raise it again to like $35 and then Miami Don raises again to cover my entire stack. Now, there are 2 hands and 2 hands only that beat me. A 10 and pocket 6's, while those hands are possible, he might have an overpair (not likely), he could very easily have Q ten, J ten, 10 9 or some other flavor of ten. And I could have been less pot committed as well. I make the call and sure enough, he had sixes. DAMN! My first session of poker and I'm fading the turn and the river hoping for something bigger then sixes to make a pair. I miss and Don takes all of my chips.

Not a great start to the trip, but hey, I was up $35 playing Pai Gow so this leaves me only stuck $65. I can do better.

Up next - The Neon Musuem, the sound of more cash getting flushed and the blogger tournament.

Stay tuned!