Note: The official IMOP trip report will be posted in randomly intermittent installments. Parts I & II of the report can be found here and here. The author of the report is our cruise director, Santa Claus, with occasional editing by yours truly. Enjoy!
Santa wakes up from his nap and catches up with Fat Jesus and JeBeDIA at the Venetian for an early morning session, the highlight of which was Fat Jesus coining the phrase "Poker Porn"—when you fold a hand either preflop (or worse, postflop) only to see your cards play out to be the nuts for a huge pot. Poker Porn—all the visual but no satisfaction.
Barbie came stumbling into the V a little while later loudly announcing “Good morning, bitches!” still not having slept but managing to roll a poker table pretty well at PHo. This was also about the time Barbie started his “Epic” table game streak. He started the “fourball” blackjack strategy at the Venetian, turning $50 into $870 in three minutes by essentially just letting his first bet ride four times before pulling back the entire stack. It would prove to be a good thing he came up with this strategy because it made up for some seriously bad poker losses early on. After what amounted to being awake for about two and half days, Barbie finally decides to take a short nap before the 11:00 a.m. Mirage tourney.
River Joe gets to the Mirage early (since he had accidentally checked in and all) and actually plays 3/6 limit of all games; he ends up hitting a few sets and inside straights on his way to a tournament free roll as the rest of the Ironmen make their way in. Early on, River Joe lives up to his nickname and gets it all in with QQ against AA and hits his one-outer on the river for nice double up. Another fun moment occurs on the last hand before the 2nd break. Barbie is put to the decision of calling an all-in bet for roughly 40% of his chips. Foreigner is playing over sound system. A large man in wife beater and straw hat sitting at Barbie's table begins “bouncing” (jiggling?) to the music. Either way, the only part of him moving is his gut. As Barbie is contemplating the call, he sees the guy out of the corner of his eye. Barbie looks up and says to Colt, “I’m distracted” and nods towards the guy. Colt bust out with laughter and has to leave the table as guy continues his belly-dance oblivious to the distraction it is causing. Mirage again turns out to be good to the Ironmen, with three at the final table and Barbie and River Joe both cashing.
Mr. Chow had busted out early on and hopped in a cash game to bide the time. He is doing usual "a-hole maniac with a smile on his face" routine when Sahara joins him. A prime example of why it is best to avoid the Ironmen happens next. Chow straddles and 8 players call the $4. Chow bumps it up another $10 w AsJh and predictably gets five callers. Flop is Js Xs Xh and a nice Canadian who Chow had been chatting up bets $40. Sahara and Chow both call. Turn card is a third spade. Canadian bets $200, leaving $250 behind. Chow pops it to $400 and gets Sahara out. Canadian squirms, thinks, closes eyes, squirms some more, stands up, sits down, rolls over 6s4s and asks Chow, “Do you have the Ace of spades”. After the initial answer of “$200 more will tell you for sure," Mr. Chow rolls over the Ace of spades. Canadian then does the whole routine again before mucking the winner. Sahara tweets, “Mr. Chow has wrecked poker”. Very true.
Post-tourney, it was finally time for another new IMOP event we’ve been trying to pull off for a few years: The Third World Poker Tour. Our gang pretends like we are degenerate, but we always seem to wind up in the cushy confines of the high end poker rooms. Well, we put a temporary halt to the snobbery with this event. If you recall, we all gathered ‘round the Binion’s roulette wheel to let fate both pick our heads up (of sorts) IMOP opponent and the venue where each duo had to play. Rules were simple. Both participants go to the venue together, sit in a 1/2 NHEL game with $200, and play for 90 minutes. First one to bust out loses, otherwise the player with more money at the end of 90 minutes wins. IMOP points are awarded to the winner, with negative IMOP points for the loser. A few in the group were not excited about heading to such exotic locales as Riviera or Sahara, but the tweets were well worth it.
In the first match, Baby Los heads to Luxor with Bonnie but it doesn’t last long as Los plays nearly every hand and busts out in short order as they try to spend the absolute minimum time slumming it away from the Venetian. Bonnie gets in the cab line as Los trams back over toward Monte Carlo. Bonnie hears people yelling "taxicab confessions" as he gets in and he asks Rita-the-cabbie what that was and she proceeds to tell him she has worked for HBO for 14 years and he’s being filmed! Pansy that he is, he discloses nothing interesting, but does tell her his name is Barbie from Cedar Rapids. After the interview, she informs him that he has no shot at all at making it on TV. Kind of sad when our craziest competitor can't make the big time.
In another match, Lucky and Fat Jesus wind up heading to Excalibur, describing the competition as similar to “blowing goats”. After walking half way across Camelot they finally made it to the poker room and after 90 minutes and no seats nearly went medieval on the poker room staff. They finally get seated and see the table bully alternating between going all in or making huge over-bets pre-flop, so Lucky limps from under the gun with AK. Bully pushes all in for about 120 and it folds back around to Lucky who insta-callsl. Bully flips over 34o and manages to turn a 3. Lucky decides that AK stands for "A Kick in nards". However, he works his way up to about even and finds a way to outlast Fat Jesus in the painful heads up match.
Colt and Grange end up next door at Monte Carlo with nothing of note happening, except perhaps applying for their AARP cards and being accepted into the coffee klatch of the 90-somethings who thought they were “cute”. Colt does win the match, but gets disapproving glares from the regulars whenever he bets over $15.
Sahara and River Joe proceed to slum it to the north end for their Third World Poker Tour options of Circus Circus or Riviera. So, after a flyby at CC where they have one limit game going, they proceed over to the purgatory of Riviera. With no air conditioning and no money on the table, Joe took one for the team so they could get out of there, pushing with top pair, weak kicker into three other callers, and loses to top pair. better kicker. The whiny tweets from our resident blue blood, Sahara, were priceless. We may have to declare the Riviera the official venue for next year just to see if his head literally explodes. Highlight of the event was on the return trip, before making their way into the Venetian, the oppressed duo stops to gawk at the Express Runway Models who are having some sort of outdoor event. All they seem to remember are legs, legs, and more legs.
Santa and JeBeDIA head to the Stratosphere for their match, despite having the option to play one very last session at the actual Sahara before it shuts down permanently. (Note from Grange: “Raise a glass of Keystone and a stale cigarette to the grand old home of the kickoff tourney, sadly lacking in tortillas even today.”). Upon arriving at the Strat, they are pleasantly surprised at how (comparatively) nice the place turns out to be. A brand new game starts up and they get seated. On the very first hand Santa raises pre-flop to $17, gets a couple callers and bets $30 on a board of Jx 4x 6x. He gets min-raised by a very large meathead at the end of the table and snap calls. Turn is a 4x and he calls a $40 bet. River is another 6x and he then bets $100 on the river. Meathead asks, “Will you show if I fold” and Santa replies, “The rules of our competition require me to show my hand," and JeBeDIA audibly groans knowing that Santa has luckboxed the Grump into a full house. The guy eventually folds, and after tabling the Grump, Santa successfully tilts not only the muscle head, but also his buddy who was still waiting for chips. JeBeDIA is now significantly behind after one hand, but catches up on the second. He calls a button straddle from early position with Ace-Deuce (that crazy nit!), flops two pair, and check raises to $40, getting three callers. He bets $100 on the turn to chase draws and scoop the pot, so after two hands Santa and JeBeDIA are both up over $100 and have the two buddies at the end of the table gunning for the two "loose aggressive" guys. They end up felting muscle head's buddy at least three times between them, before he leaves the table down $800. Despite posting his best session of the trip, JeBeDIA still loses to Santa and they head back to the Strip.
Hard to believe, but there's still more to come! Check back soon for the Jacket Dinner report (with pictures), as well as the Saturday and Sunday hijinks.