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Vegas Hotels Meme - Walter's Walk
February 11th, 2011
10:41 am


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Vegas Hotels Meme
EDIT: I only list the first time I stayed somewhere, so ladies please stop sending me texts saying you slept with me at The Orleans in 2007 or whatever. I remember. Honest.

- Imperial Palace. This is where the National Open used to be held, so became my first Vegas destination. I'm sure 25 years from now a lot of Chinese-American 40-year olds will have South Point at the top of their list. Dan Savoca, Adam Mayer, Andrew Koines and I drove up from Phoenix in Dan's old Cadillac which he bought after hitting a big tri- at the dog track (redundancy left in for readers who don't know Dan personally, but when Dan hit a tri-, it was always big). That thing wasn't just a boat, it was straight out of a Chuck Berry song. The engine was 500+ cubic inches. Not being a GM guy, I couldn't tell you exactly how many, but I think we had to refuel in Wickenburg, Wikieup and Boulder City. The skyline was nothing like it is now, but as we came around the bend, it looked beautiful to me. Not wanting to press the luck on the fake ID too much (I was 19 and looked about 14) I played 1-4 Stud at the IP the whole time, but the big kids had bigger ambitions. In the evening, ChrisB (name semi-redacted to protect the guilty) rowner flew up with $200 in his pocket, ran it up to 6k playing blackjack and, of course, spewed.
- (The old) Aladdin. At the time it was under some kind of receivership I think, where the Mob, Wayne Newton and the federal government were jockeying for ownership, or more likely, not to own it; I'm not sure which. In any event, there were about thirteen people in the joint, one of whom, oddly, was Frank Gorshin (aka The Riddler) who sat by us in the coffee shop. Completely unrelated, on the drive home, we somehow missed the turn on I-40 and kept driving to Flagstaff. The next 100 times I've done the trip, I have simply boggled how that happened.
- Stupak's VegasWhorld. This place was not as nice as the Hotel Nikko, say.

- Some dump behind the Imperial Palace. For the life of me, I can't recreate the thinking that motivated me to stay here. Cheaper than Imperial Palace?! What??? I remember losing in a 1-4 stud game with a straight flush vs a straight flush, and the next day playing my first titled player, an IM from Finland, Timothy Binham. I had gotten a good position from the black side of a Sicilian and was starting to really press. As I came back from the bathroom, I saw him doing something with my scoresheet, and panicked. As I got to the table, I saw he had written 0-1 and signed it. Score!

- The old Riviera. Highlight of this trip was sneaking into the Leonard-Hearns II fight at Caesars Palace. The judges scored the fight a draw, but there wasn't another person in the place who didn't think Hearns beat him like a mule with three legs. Prefight I'm standing at a urinal (this story is 100% true, not just a setup for a lame joke (which I know I've told before, but it bears repeating(now my parentheticals have parentheticals; can you tell I've been reading David Foster Wallace this week?))) when a very short, very fit, very bald black man in a damn sharp tux sidles up to the one adjacent. Marvelous Marvin, who was doing the PPV color. So now I can honestly say I had it out with the champ for one round, and held my own.

- The Stardust Motor Lodge. I spent the summer of 1990 playing Omaha and Hold'em at the Mirage, but stayed at the Imperial Palace all the while. I think the check-in boy liked me as my tab ended up being -- honestly -- slightly less than $10 a night. My friend Shelly came to town with her mom and upon departing, her mom sprang for a room for us at the SML, which was actually a step up. We slept together, and nothing happened. I was lame.

- Excalibur.
- CircusCircus.

- Stardust, proper. I was playing a Scrabble tournament here, and at the same time the casino was hosting a blackjack tournament. Chris Ferguson ambled over(I didn't know him at the time; he told me this story a few years later) from the latter to the former, saw how much money was in Scrabble, and ambled back. Probably for the best for all parties. The Law of Comparative Advantage in action.

- Flamingo Hilton.
- Luxor.

- Maxim, Ballys. This was during the Scrabble Superstars Showdown, in which I started strong but eventually spewed. Pivot point was when I let Eddie Halper get away with the then phony CLUELESS.
- Holiday Inn.

- Binions.
- Golden Nugget.
Though geographically proximate, spiritually quite apart.

- Sahara.
- Orleans. I think this was my last BARGE or so. Do they still have it?

- Bellagio (places starting to get a little nicer around now).

- The Venetian. The World Scrabble Championship was held here in Dec 2001. Colleen, who had just turned three, remarked, "This is a really nice place, but I don't think anyone lives here."

- Turnberry Place. I stayed at extempore's pad for a month while he was traveling America. Not sure if that counts, but highly recommended.

- (New) Aladdin. Much improved on my '86 visit.

- The Rio. obv.

- Palms Place. Stayed here for two weeks after renting a house in June w jorj95 and Ryan Hughes. Liked it so much I stayed for six weeks in 2009.

- The Hotel. No gambling. This was Colleen's 11-yo birthday present: a road trip to see Metallica. She still talks about it, and if you know how jaded 12-yo girls can pretend to be, that's something. Source of this photo.

- MGM Signature. Not as nice as Palms Place, but not bad. Sadly, I think I left my lucky yellow hat there...

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(5 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:February 11th, 2011 06:24 pm (UTC)
I played in the national open at IP in (I think) 1983 and 1986. I wouldn't have played you though since I would have been in the B section.
[User Picture]
Date:February 11th, 2011 06:39 pm (UTC)
What state did you live in then?
[User Picture]
Date:February 11th, 2011 07:13 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:February 15th, 2011 10:27 pm (UTC)
Impressive memory. I stayed at many (not all) of the same places over the years, but also a few dives that you didn't mention, like the Las Vegas Club and the Hacienda. But I'm pretty sure I couldn't put a timeline on my stays. I also didn't have as many brushes with celebrity. I only remember seeing Redd Foxx in the Bally's poker room one night.

I didn't get to the National Open until 1987 (the only year I ever played it, surprisingly, and I was even on crutches at the time thanks to an ACL repair surgery recovery period), where I had a reasonable showing (eg beat Kaushansky, Elo 2362) horribly marred by losing for the first time ever to a computer program (LaChex). I was a pretty big favorite against it, but totally fished out. After that, I made sure to sign the "no computer program opponents" sheet at the start of every tournament I played.

I probably spent more time at the poker tables than playing chess during that tournament (didn't get a lot of sleep... Oh to be young again!). I remember marveling at how fine chess players like Kamran Shirazi and Dmitri Gurevich could play poker so poorly.
Date:April 25th, 2011 07:50 pm (UTC)


While I did spew and had to borrow cab fare to the airport to get home, it was quite a ride and I would not change anything, as it shaped my gambling forever. I too was underage, and the big hand that killed me was doubling down on a $2K bet with 11 and the dealer showing a 6. I laid out the $4K and got an 8 for 19, the dealer had 16, and got a 4 for 20, c'est la vie.

The next time I came to Vegas I went home with $2K extra.

Good times Jimbo :)
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