Entertaining Railroad Tunnels Hike

I spent the morning tacking the Railroad Tunnels hike. Tackling is a bit overstating. The hike is relatively easy (little elevation gain) and relatively short (3.5 miles to the gate and back or 7 miles to the Hoover Dam and back).

Two of the marinas that service Lake Mead. The white part of the rocks shows how far Lake Mead has fallen over the past 80 years since the Hoover Dam was built to hold back the Colorado River.
Two of the marinas that service Lake Mead. The white part of the rocks shows how far Lake Mead has fallen over the past 80 years since the Hoover Dam was built to hold back the Colorado River.

This hike, however, is special to me since it’s the first hike I ever tried after moving to Las Vegas. In February 2010 I had lived in Vegas for all of four weeks. With no job to go to and prior to attending dealing school I had just one friend in town. I was looking to meet people and network so I joined a hiking group on Meetup. After joining the group this was the first hike I signed up to attend.

digging_the_tunnels_signEighty years ago this same trail was  a railroad track used to carry supplies to the construction of the Hoover Dam. The railroad tracks have been removed and the tunnels have some been reinforcements on the ends to keep them from collapsing.

One of the five tunnels along the path of the Raildroad Tunnels hike to Hoover Dam.
One of the five tunnels along the path of the Raildroad Tunnels hike to Hoover Dam.

I have been on this hike 6-7 times over the past four years, including twice down to the Hoover Dam and back. Today, I stuck with the 3.5 mile version. It offers an incredible view of Lake Mead and the surrounding mountains.

It is rare to see any wildlife on the hike, though coyotes, snakes, bats and rams are certainly possible. If you take the hike down to the Dam there is a much greater chance of seeing a ram. They are not rare in this part of the country. In fact, the rams come down from the mountains daily and feed on the grass in the parks in nearby Boulder City.

What you will see are a lot of people on this hike. Today was no different. The age range was anywhere from 8-80. Several kids were hiking with parents. I saw a small group of Cub Scouts hiking. There were a couple of elderly men taking a casual stroll all the way to the Dam. There were also a number of people hiking with their dogs. That made me jealous since Pirate passed away four months ago. He went on this hike with me a few times.

End of the hike selfie.
End of the hike selfie.

This is a great hike, and the short version can be done in just 75-90 minutes.

I finished my exercise for the day, nourishing the mind, body and soul with one simple but great hike.

Now it’s off to the Aria 1PM poker tourney to see if I can nourish my wallet.

 

Five Things You Don’t Know About Las Vegas

I love everything about Las Vegas. The Strip, the casinos, the weather, the scenery, the tourist traps, the dives, the traffic. This is where I wanted to live for last 10 years in Kansas City. It’s where I have lived for the past 3 1/2 years.

A popular setting for movies (The Hangover, Vegas Vacation, Oceans 11, Mars Attacks) and television shows (Vega$, Las Vegas, CSI Las Vegas), many of the tourists who come to Las Vegas think they “know” Las Vegas.

Here’s five things you don’t know about Las Vegas:

1. Las Vegas is small. When you are flying in or driving in to Vegas at night and see all the lights, Las Vegas seems huge.The metro area boasts more than 1.9 million people according to the 2010 U.S. Census. That makes Las Vegas a little smaller than Cleveland and Kansas City, a little bigger than Indianapolis and Nashville.

bellagio

 

 

 

 

 

2. The Bellagio is not in Las Vegas. Nor is Mandalay Bay, MGM, Aria or The Mirage. The Strip is not part of Las Vegas, but rather part of three unincorporated towns — Paradise, Winchester and Enterprise, Nevada. Paradise, Nevada, is actually the largest unincorporated town in the United States with a population over 200,000 people.

3. It’s a desert out here. All of Las Vegas, as well as parts of Utah, Arizona and California lie within the borders of the Mojave Desert. It may be hot in Las Vegas, but the Mojave Desert’s hottest spot is Death Valley, Calif. The hottest temperature ever recorded in the World happened in Death Valley, when it reached 134F in 1913. (thanks, Wikipedia).

4. We are kind of popular. Las Vegas boasts one of the 10 busiest airports in the United States. The city attracts more than 30 million tourists a year, and a lot of them fly to get here.

golden_gate

 

 

 

 

 

5. The oldest casino in Las Vegas is the Golden Gate. Located downtown on Fremont Street and opened in 1906, the Golden Gate (then Hotel Nevada) is the oldest casino still in operation in Las Vegas. The casino operated before gambling was prohibited (1909-1931). When legalized gambling was restarted in 1931, the Golden Gate brought the tables and slots back out of storage. (source: Golden Gate Casino).

Now come on out for a visit. What happen here, stays here.

 

Poker Action Heating Up

The 2012 World Series of Poker isn’t even complete yet — the October 9 are still to come — but us local grinders are plugging away trying to get ready for the 2013 WSOP.

Ben Devlin (@BenDevlin), Ryan Gordon (@crustyscoops), Dave Miller (@SilentRaise), Chris Nedrud (@jayhawk1980), myself and five Twitter-free others are competing in a 44-week, 22-tournament poker club with first place being a seat in the $10,000 Main Event at the 2013 WSOP.

Every player in the club is going to win something. Beside the fantastic grand prize, the overall runnerup will earn a $2,000 Mega Satellite seat to the 2013 WSOP Main Event. Third through sixth will earn $1,000 Mega Satellite seats to the WSOP ME. Seventh through tenth earn spots in Daily Deep Stacks at the WSOP, with opportunities to improve those to Mega Satellites.

This group was put together with an eye toward solid, tough poker players who could compete at the WSOP level. Of the 10 players in the group, three have previous WSOP Main Event experience, three have cashed in other WSOP events, one has earned a seat into the Main Event via a WSOP $1,000 Super Satellite and others have three- and four-digit cashes in various live events around Las Vegas.

The group ranges in age from early 20s to early 70s, and represents just about every style of playing no limit hold’em.

We have completed three single-table tournaments so far, and I am currently tied for fifth. I am one of only two players to improve my finish each of the three tournaments we have played.

It is going to be an exciting race toward the 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event!

A little success at Aria.

In addition to the poker club, I am trying to step up my live game play. I spent last Saturday with some local grinders in the fabulous Aria poker room. I bought in for $200 to a 1-3 No Limit hold’em game.

You can judge my results by the picture.

This may even inspire me to give the Aria tournament another try. I’ve played four Aria Tournaments, bubbling each of the last three. I am due for a cash at that tournament!

 

Play Like A Donkey And Your Ass Goes Home

It’s been a rough week on the poker table for me. First, I got crushed in my own home game, including getting doubled through by this guy on the second hand of play AK vs JJ. It’s perhaps what I deserve for trying to sit a table with a guy who’s had more than $720,000 in just tournament cashes since last summer.

Despite the loss in my own home Wednesday night, I decided to spend Thursday night at Aria grinding in the $1-$3 NL game and make back the money I had lost the night before and try to win some more to play in the Friday night tournaments.

My bad play made sure that wasn’t going to happen.

Poker is a game of information. With that information a player can make the right decisions at the right time to maximize wins and minimize losses. Even a momentary loss of focus can lead to failure. Here’s how.

I was down about half a buyin from early in the game. By the time this hand came up I had folded 20-25 hands in a row as my cards were not worth playing.

In between hands I was changing a song on my iPhone to something else when I didn’t notice that under the gun (UTG) +1 had raised the $3 big blind to $15. I also didn’t notice UTG+2 call the raise. I am not sure how I missed both of these actions, but I just didn’t see them.

A mid-position player called the $15 and the player to my right folded. That’s when I looked down at Q-Q. Since I had missed the first raise and the flat call while fiddling with the music on my iPhone, I believed there was only $19 in the pot (the $15 flat from the player to my right and the two blinds). With that incorrect knowledge I raised to $35, a raise of not even 3x the previous bet.

If I was heads up with one other player, he would have to lay $20 to win a $54 pot. But there was $30 in the pot I didn’t even know about. I had just bet $35 to make the current pot $84. All three players with $15 in the pot would surely have to call with those odds.

Unfortunately for me, it gets worse.

The last player to call $15 before I raised said something to me, only I didn’t hear him due having my headphones on. I pulled off one earpiece and told him I hadn’t heard what he said. He told me an oft-heard phrase at the poker table, “I wish you had told me you were going to raise before I called.” We both laughed and I put my headphones back on.

As the action moves back around the table both blinds fold. The original raiser goes all in for $175. Again, I miss this action completely. And that is really hard to do at Aria, because it is one of those poker rooms that tosses out an ALL IN placard when a player goes all in.

I look up to see the 10 seat, who was the second caller, ponder a call. He’s Hollywooding it a little bit but then he also elects to go all in for around $300. That is more than I have left.

The joking tourist to my right folds. I was still thinking I was heads up with just the 10 seat for all my chips despite the fact that there are now two ALL IN placards sitting on the other end of the table when I decide to go all in.

This is a terrible play for the following reasons:

A. These two players were the first raiser and a flat caller of a 5x preflop raise.

B. Both of these players are all in, and they both have me covered.

C. Neither player apparently thinks much of my tight image or the fact I have folded every hand for the previous 20 minutes.

D. Q-Q cannot possibly be the best hand here preflop.

E. I’m only into this hand for a total of $35. If I fold I still have plenty of chips left to play in this game.

None of those thoughts even crosses my mind as I push my stack in the middle.

There was no more betting since all three of us were all in. The board ran out K-10-2-Q-J rainbow.

Player A had K-K for a flopped set. Player B had A-A for a rivered nut straight. Player C (me) was in third place before the flop, third place after the flop, second place on the turn (when I hit my Q) and third place again on the river.

I had disobeyed a basic principle of poker: I didn’t even bother gathering all the information I needed to play this hand.

A great player — even an above-average player — would have flat called the preflop bets with QQ and/or folded to the two all-in raises preflop.

Because I didn’t gather the correct information to play the hand, all I was left with was a long walk to my car and a simmering drive home from the Strip to my house in Henderson.

How A Guy Is Supposed To Spend A Weekend

I live in Las Vegas. More accurately I live in the Las Vegas suburbs, but since there is only two of them (Henderson and North Las Vegas), I just say I live in Las Vegas. Plus Las Vegas is tiny town. Bellagio isn’t in Las Vegas. Neither is Mandalay Bay. Nor is Caesars Palace. They all say they are in Las Vegas, but they aren’t. They are in unincorporated Winchester, NV and unincorporated Paradise, NV. If they can claim Las Vegas, so can I.

Vegas is supposed to be all play and no work. I do work pretty hard. But I like to play. And since I have successfully avoided getting married or having kids, I can play hard when I have a weekend. Like this weekend.

First Hole
The first hole at the Boulder Creek Golf Course.

Thursday (which is my Saturday) started off with a golf outing at Boulder Creek Golf Course.

Golfing. At 9AM. In January.

Me and three buddies — Jameson, Chris and James L. hit the links with some friendly per hole wagers that increased on the par 3s.

Did you see the view in the photo. That’s the first hole of one of the three nine-hold courses. Nothing but blue sky and mountains as far as they eye can see. I’ve golfed in worse places.

After a long round — the four of us all carry bogey handicaps — we retired to the clubhouse for a late lunch, to finish off the beers from the round and settle up money-wise. I lost $9 to Chris, but won a combined $9 from Jameson and James L. so the wagering came out just fine for my tastes.

After the short drive back to my house it was time for a nice 90-minute nap.

After the nap it was time for a shower and get ready to head to the Strip. Gambling adventures with my friend Ben at Mirage. The poker room is hosting a $50,000 freeroll next month and we are trying to qualify.

A pretty successful ‘Saturday’.

Sunday (a.k.a. Friday) meant giving my weekly tour at the Neon Museum. The tours were packed this Friday with close to 25 people on each tour. I had a good mix of Midwesterners, a few locals and the usual contingent from southern California. It was also the first time I have had a tour that included a bride-to-me and bridesmaids, already decked out in full regalia.

After the tour I had time to stop by Sushi Twister for a to go order on my way back home. The weather is perfect for enjoying my patio table and chairs and having lunch outside.

After plowing through my domestic duties and another brief nap it was time to head back to the Strip. This time Ben and I had a gambling adventure from Hard Rock Hotel to Aria to Mirage. He won, I didn’t. It didn’t matter.

It was still another great weekend in Las Vegas!