we're sooooo money!!

yes, it's that time of the year again: V-E-G-A-S.

this past weekend, my friends and i made our annual trip to las vegas. ok, it's more like semi-annual ... ok ok, 5 times in the last two years for me. yes, i have a problem. leave me alone.

this was by the far the biggest group we've had in vegas. the 'sinners' were:

  • saran "2 minutes" chari (and by 2 minutes, i mean how fast he can lose $200 playing blackjack, of course.)
  • sky "i'm gonna have to win back all the money saran lost playing slots" grealis
  • rich "but still not smooth" fields
  • matt "let's play rock-paper-scissors for shots this time" fields
  • joanne "blackjack queen" pons
  • ranjit "i'm hooked on poker" jose
  • joe "i'm newly single so let's really sin" greenstein
  • dallen "i won't play these stupid casino games 'cause i'm too smart" chao
  • "vegas" dan
  • jeff "i'm only playing poker this weekend" barrett (and he meant it)
  • sarah "final table" savage (aka "pai-gow poker queen")
  • and me, jamie "too tired to think of a nickname" tsao

some highlights from the weekend:

 

cruisin' in style
on friday night, with the taxi-line outside the hilton about 50 heads deep, we decided to do it 'donald-trump' style. the 10 of us go into a stretch limo, and rolled vip-style to club rain at the palm's.

in da club
after gambling at the palm's for a few hours, we decided to party it up at club rain. we got the hookup, and all got in for $10 each. with pyrotechnics going off above center stage, hot go-go dancers shakin' their asses from high above, and 50 cent boomin' from the speakers, we got our drink on, and danced among the masses. good times.

running into rockets
by day 2, i was itchin' to play some poker, so i decided to sit down at the no-limit cash table at bally's. the table was fun, w/ lots of action, and lively conversations. everything was going pretty smoothly for me. i was aggressive yet cautious, and was doing fine until i was dealt every poker player's nightmare hand. i was in the small blind, when a good solid player raised from under-the-gun to $25. everyone folded around. before looking at my hand, i jokingly commented to the raiser, 'what do you have? aces?' he replied semi-sarcastically with a smile, 'yeah, i have aces.' having only $1 in the pot, i was prepared to fold when i peeked at my cards and found two kings staring at me. holding back my excitement, i slowly counted out a raise of $75. the big blind folded, and then my nightmare began to materialize. he waited about 1 min, and then said, 'i'm all-in'. with about $125 left, i had to call. i was getting about 3-1 odds. with kings, the only hand he could have to make this a bad call was aces. i called. he had aces. the rest was history. $200 in one hand. damn. and that's no-limit hold'em for you.

'O'
sky has a friend who performs in 'O' by cirque du soleil, so she was able to get us the hookup on great seats. saran, sky, rich, jo, sarah, and i watched the 7pm show saturday night at the bellagio. i've seen 'mystere' and 'varekai' and enjoyed them both, so i had high expections for 'O'. i was not disappointed. the show was amazing. i particularly enjoyed the music. my favorite was the divers flipping off these swinging pendulums.

meeting tiger woods
after the show, we hung out around the poker tables at the bellagio. i saw a few pro poker players that i recognized: hung la, joe awada, to name a few. but i wanted to see someone really famous. a big-time player. then as if on-cue, phil ivey walked right by me!! i immediately run after him, with joanne following closely behind as my camera-woman. after exchanging a few poker tips, i got my kodak moment with him. after joanne took the shot, phil said to me, "damn, does she have a sister?" don't worry paul, other than a few million dollars, phil ivey's got nothing on you. later on that night, i also saw freddy deeb, daniel negreanu, and tobey maguire (spiderman) at the tables. so yes, i met the tiger woods ... of poker, that is.

and since i'm on the topic of celebrities, i saw jeanette "the black widow" lee at the hilton. i challenged her to a game of 9-ball, but she wussed out. i also saw contestants from 'the ultimate fighter' show: kenny florian, chris leben, and stephan bonnar. they were in town for the season finale, which was being broadcasted live. (btw, i saw the finale this past monday (replay), and kenny, as i predicted, got his ass whooped by diego sanchez. yes, i follow the show, but i swear it's the only reality show i watch. pinky swear.)

queen among kings
on sunday, ranjit, sarah, and i decided to play in the 1pm no-limit hold'em tournament at the imperial palace (rich was gonna play as well but he never got out of bed). $55 buy-in with a $25 rebuy. 58 entries. top 10 places paid out. i couldn't get a hand to save my life. after 3 rounds, i had played only 2 hands. i basically got blinded out, and finished somewhere in the middle. ranjit played very well, and was among the top chip leaders throughout the tournament. but alas, with 12 players left (2 more til' the money), he broke the cardinal rule, and went to battle w/ the chip leader ... and lost. doh. 12th place. tough to swallow but a very impressive showing for his first real tournament. nice job jeet.

and this brings me to sarah. as one of only 4 women competing, sarah created quite a stir with, without a doubt, the hand of the tournament. holding pocket queens, she's in a raised pot with a guy holding pocket aces. after flopping a queen, sarah goes all-in with her trips, and gets called. the turn brings a heart-breaking ace, giving the guy better trips. but the river then produces the miraculous 4th queen, giving sarah quad-queens over his aces-full. wow. with this big win, sarah rode her rush to the final table, finishing 9th. $108 for her efforts. not bad. congrats sarah.

and there you have it. another awesome trip to the greatest city in the world. i mean, where else can you drink til' your kidney fails, smoke and second-hand smoke like chimneys, lose $100 playing blackjack in 5 mins, lose $100 playing with a stripper in 3 mins, sleep 5 hours during the entire weekend, get rejected by the hottest girls alive, and still go home delirious YET satisfied?

only vegas baby.

(btw, dan was the big winner on the trip. he couldn't lose playing blackjack. he stayed up playing blackjack for 8 straight hours into the morning, winning $900. they don't call him 'vegas' dan for nothin'.)