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Trip Report Part 4 [long]
Posted by Barfarkel on 19 July 1999, at 8:52 p.m., in response to Trip Report Part 1 [long], posted by Barfarkel on 17 July 1999, at 2:04 a.m.
REMOTE_HOST: 126.96.36.199; REMOTE_ADDR: 188.8.131.52
After the Star Trek show I headed downtown to the Golden Nugget to meet up with Buffet Please with whom I'd been playing phone tag for a few days. I recognized him from his description at a shoe game where he wasn't doing too well. We walked and talked, comparing count systems and game charts, heading for the El Cortez.
We sat at separate tables and I employed the cover that worked so well here last time: betting a "progression" as I won and resetting to 2 units after a loss. Used this red betting scheme for 15 minutes until I was sure they were ignoring me. Then I started betting with the count. Spread $5-$40 for 45 minutes, getting @ 60% pen at their SD table and winning $100. This was my own money, not a scheduled team session. Meanwhile Buffet was losing $150 at another SD table. Buffet is a schoolteacher and lives on the central California coast. He's a nice smart guy and gets to LV more often than I'm able to. Unlike me, he prefers shoes to pitch games.
Headed to Boulder Hwy. area to pick up my buddy Stu and wife Lynette. I'd been saving the Bellagio buffet comp for several days. Funny that the B comped me after only one session playing red at a $10 DD table earlier in the week. Previous trips I had to play 2 or 3 separate hour long sessions to score a buffet comp there. I'm happy to report that the Bellagio buffet is as good as ever. They cut open the crab legs lengthwise so you don't need to break them, just scoop the meat out of the open shell and dip in the drawn butter. The shrimp were large, plump and peeled. Many kinds of fish, pork loin, chinese specialties [I especially liked the potstickers]. Everything is good there, including their unique desserts.
Toured the Venetian with Stu, who had done much of the wiring there. He pointed out each area he'd worked on. I liked the shopping area [mostly not opened yet] with the canal running thru it. The area fronting LV Blvd is wonderful when viewed from the 2nd story balcony at dusk with the Mirage volcano erupting in the distance. What a panoramic sight. My favorite part was St Marks Square, a huge open atrium with natural light thru the glass canopy, outdoor restaurant tables, the canal and a stage where some costumed Venetians were singing a comical opera.
And, oh yeah the casino...Walking thru we saw the DD cut card being put in at 60% pen. The shoe cut was more generous though. We estimated 1.2 or 1.3 on the one shoe we observed. We didn't play there, I just got a players card from the promo booth like I always do.
After the nightly team meeting at which I recieved numerous accolades and a few admonitions to spread higher, Scott and I were to go to Santa Fe and play at separate tables, pretending we didn't know each other. Scott went up @ $800 in the first 20 minutes then had to endure icy dealers, one who [he said] tried to deal seconds, and lots of pit scrutiny until he colored out. On the other hand I lost and lost and kept buying in for hundred after hundred. After the fifth such buy in the cards turned and I won it all back plus $185 profit. The pit gal was staring earlier and wouldn't even comp me to a pack of smokes. When I complained to the pit boss, he said "of course you can have a pack" and wrote me a cigarette comp. That's how I know they weren't on to me. We had a great drive back to the strip with a $1000 profit in our pockets.
Next morning I was at Slots-A-Fun again, playing for nearly 90 minutes at the 2 SD tables. I limited my spread to $10-$50 and got rule of 6, or 50% pen heads up. Lost $78. My first loss after 5 consecutive wins. Hey, coulda been worse, and I wasn't worried.
Since I'd ordered a copy of the Las Vegas Advisor two weeks before I left and never got it, I stopped by Huntington Press to pick up a copy. Met Anthony Curtis who recognized me from last Dec. when he'd helped me figure out the rules of the Blackjack Master [a battery powered Radica gameboy type BJ game like they sell in the casino gift shops] which I had bought from him. I said "Hi Anthony, I'm Barfarkel" and he recognized me and was most friendly. He's much younger looking than you'd imagine.
On to the Bellagio DD game. This was a key session for me. It started out badly. Lost several hundred and switched tables a few times. Kept at it for 2 hours, digging into my pocket for more. Finally after going in for $600, the cards got better. The key hand was a pair of 7's with $100 bet against a 3. Split the 7's. Got another 7. Wound up with 17, 14 and 17 in a mildly high count. $300 on the table. I'm praying and sweating.....and....the dealer busts! Raised my arms, touchdown style and let out a whoop. The pit likes me there and I think they were happy to upgrade my rating from red to green. [I flirt like hell with some of the pit gals there]. On the next hand I bet $150 [this is the largest single bet I've ever placed] and got a Blackjack! They paid off with 2 blacks and a green. Soon after I colored up, receiving my first $1000 chip [it's white and yellow at the B]. Won $525 with a $25-$150 spread.
Later that evening I used the coffee shop comp that I'd gotten at TI after my first green session win. Dinner with Grifter and his friend was deelish. Barbequed lamb chops medium rare, shrimp cocktail, caesar salad and Long Island iced teas.
At this dinner I got some sobering news. The other team players were getting hammered and had lost 200 units. The bank had lost a third of it's value. Turns out I'm the only winner in this high octane group. My hope of recovering my earlier losses was fading fast. We agreed to keep at it and hope things would swing around.
Left to see the Cherry Poppin' Daddies at Bally's. I love that whole neo-swing, horn driven jumpin' jive. The girls thought so too as the dance floor Bally's had set up in front of the stage was jammed with swingin' cuties. I was stylin' in my Bugsy Siegel black and white houndstooth sports jacket and danced with a bevy of babes. Failed to snare one as the show let out though. Excellent show.
Wonged into a DD table at Bally's with a $50 bet, won, won, lost, lost and cashed out with a quick $50 profit that paid for the show. Went to the Flamingo hoping to upgrade my rating at the hotel I usually stay at, using the team's bankroll to play green. Found a good pen good rules game with only one other player and got hammered. Lost $450 in less than 30 minutes. I think I won like 2 hands the whole session.
Met the rest of the team at midnight at the Oxygen Bar [it's called "Breathe"] on Sahara and Decatur. Had my first dose of pure oxygen. I preferred the lemongrass flavor [there are 4 scented choices] while downing one of their herb cocktails. I had the Zen Martini which was delicious. You wear a nosepiece and recline in a comfy chair while breathing in and it's very relaxing. Walking out into the night air afterwards I felt most rejuvenated and ready to play BJ. best part was that Grif had "juice" there and the bill was taken care of [call it a team expense].
We tried the Mirage but the lowest Dd table was $50 minimum so we tried wonging in a few times. Grif and Scott won a few hundred and I lost $150.
My last morning in LV found me at Slots again, playing for 80 minutes at the SD tables. I used a $10-$50 spread and got 3 rounds to 3, or 50% pen heads up with the dealer. Won $260.
Played Bellagio DD for 30 minutes, getting 75% pen at the $25 tables, spreading $25-$100 and winning $320. Cut the session short to go meet the team at a comped Mirage lunch buffet. Learned that the team had taken even more of a dump at the tables. Their losses were now @ 280 units and the bankroll had lost half it's value. Good thing they waited till after I'd eaten to tell me or I would have lost my appetite in a hurry. Now it looks like despite winning @ $1700 for the team, I was going to have to kick in $500 to cover their losses. Kick in is right, I'd like to kick in something right now! Like some asses!!!
Allright, calm down...all is not lost. I'm leaving tonight and if the team could manage a few wins I might get out of this thing even which was all I could hope for at the moment. Grifter and I went back to the B where we played for an hour. I won $250 with a 1-4 spread at the $25 DD tables while Grif lost his whole session stake at the next table. We got @ 65% pen with no heat.
Sat outside on the B's balcony overlooking the lake and the water show while we sipped iced teas and commisserated. At least the water show was spectacular with a huge rainbow stretching across the fountains of water.
Checked out of the hotel, met the team at our farewell dinner, a comped affair at Ming's at the IP, where we settled up and they said their goodbyes to me. Played my last session at the Ip DD $25 game where I lost $175.
Results: Solo red play: lost $1011 in 14.5 hours
Team green play: won $1784 in 12 hours
Looks like a net win of $773 doesn't it? But my $1784 team winnings might just as well have been flushed down the toilet for all it would ever profit me as the team's losses sucked it up into the vortex. Plus I had to kick in the $500 which was my share of the lost bankroll.
Well, don't feel too sorry for me. I don't. I knew what I was getting into and was determined to see it through. Even though I lost a few hundred with the team, the feelings of having won playing green were indescribable, and the money can easily be replaced. Plus the knowledge and confidence gained will benefit me in future trips. I heard later that the team had broken up 2 days later when the losing slide continued and Pittsburgh Phil pulled his 50% stake out to depart LV. Scott had to return to Canada, his dreams of living the LV counters life shattered. As for Grifter, he's moved out of LV, giving up the game temporarily while he rebuilds his bankroll in his new straight job. As for Allan, he lost his entire team buy in and is now "orphaned". And Pittsburgh Phil lost a lot more than I did too. So I guess I fared not too badly, compared to the others.
I feel I learned a lot on this 8 day LV trip. Like how to actually win money from casinos, not just how to count and convert to True and use indices which is only part of the whole "game". Plus the green play raised my ratings in several hotels I'd like to stay at in the future. Hopefully those mail offers will be flooding my mailbox soon.
Don't mean to end this report on a downer. I had fun and learned a lot. So "Don't cry for me, Argentina". You've gotta be philosophical about it and hang in there. The cards will turn around again and again, and I'll be there when they do.
Thanks for reading this overlong narrative. I'll chat at you all soon.
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