Sunday 11:00 AM
I get ready and head out the door to go meet Henry. As I get closer to the strip the traffic is bustling. The sidewalks are filled with people. I pull in towards the casino valet, hand my keys over, and walked towards the entrance. There are many people moving about. Some are checking in or out. Many appear to be headed to gamble. Others are at the tables in the lobby bar sitting next to their luggage as they stare into their phones. As I wait, I notice that the NFL Sunday games are on. When he arrives, we order a couple of drinks and decide to find some better seats where we can watch the games.
Our conversation is all over the place. We talk about health, goals, and poker. I share some of my aspirations to one day chase some WSOP hardware. When I ask him why he is interested in poker, he tells me it’s because of poker vloggers. Names like Brad Owen and Daniel Negreanu are dropped. Henry describes how he likes to watch the thought process and what it takes to play a game like poker. He tells me how he wants to compete in the World Series of Poker and win. I explain to him that while I can teach him the basics to poker, I don’t think I should be teaching him tournament strategy.
Sunday 6:00 PM
The traffic waiting to get into valet is backed up. It takes me almost 15 minutes to get my car pulled in to exchange my car keys for a valet ticket. Henry is already waiting in the lobby entrance. Our conversation is soon interrupted when he receives a phone call; the limo has arrived. After a couple of minutes waiting outside, I see the limo. It’s one of those stretch SUV limos from The Circa. As we climb in the driver lets us know that all the drinks are complimentary. Henry grabs a beer and I reach for the bottle of Grey Goose and make myself a vodka and cranberry.
We arrive to The D and make our way up to Andiamo. We are shown to our table and the host lets us know that the dinner tab will be picked up by Henry’s Executive Host. Henry orders the Chilean Sea Bass. I order Bone-In Ribeye. We both agree to order Tuscan Roasted Potatoes and Asparagus with a Balsamic reduction for our sides. The waiter recommends a bottle of Chianti Tuscan red wine to have with our dinner and we agree to try it.
As we wait for our dinner to arrive, we swap gambling stories about our time in Vegas. Suddenly, he changes subjects and says, “Bizzy, I want to be there when you win the World Series of Poker and I want to back you the whole way.” I smile as I reach for my glass of wine and let him know that I am not really a tournament player. He nods and says that he thinks we can work something out. We continue to talk gambling strategies over dinner. After we are dropped off at his hotel, as we part ways, he turns to me and tells me he wants to meet up on Tuesday.
— Criminal Bizzy (@Criminal_Bizzy) January 2, 2023
Tuesday 3:00 PM
Henry and I head to MGM Grand. He explains to me that he wants to play some blackjack and then wants to see me play poker. We make our way through the casino floor over to the high limit area. We walk up to the first blackjack table as he reaches into his pocket and tosses $10k onto the table. We order some drinks as the money is counted and verified by the floor. After a few minutes, Henry plays his first round of blackjack. He plays 3 hands betting $400 each and wins! As play continues it just seems like he can do nothing wrong. About halfway through the shoe, he counts out his money, looks at me, and asks me what I think he should do. I take a moment to think about it. I can see that he has doubled up. I tell him to color up. He smiles and reaches for more chips to make another bet. He loses this time as more chips are placed on the wager spot. He loses again as more and more chips are placed on the wager spot. Soon he loses all his profit. He walks over to the roulette table to make a wager, he loses again. Did Henry lose his mojo?
He reaches into his pocket and pulls out another $10k. There isn’t enough on the table to double down on a soft 14. I question the play in my head, but it doesn’t seem like an unreasonable play. There is now enough money on the table to cover all the bets he wants. The dealer busts! He starts to win some bets, but he continues to slowly bleed money. Soon he buys in for the rest of the $10k band that he broke. He walks over to the table next to us hoping to change his luck.
Henry’s mood has changed, he looks a little worried. He isn’t saying much. I try to tell him that maybe it’s time to go; cut his losses and call it a night. His chips are placed in front of him. Switching tables does not work. He continues to lose hundreds of dollars a hand. Some hands crossing the $1k threshold. I can see his chips are getting low. I try to tell him one more time, that maybe it’s time to go. There is no way he is going to win all his money back. Its blackjack, the house has about a 2% edge. There is no way he has been counting the cards because I have been keeping track of the count; it’s never been in his favor.
One last bet is made. This could break the trip for him. He wins the hand! Then another and another! Soon he has a mountain of chips in front of him, but is it enough? Chips and cards are going by so fast that it’s becoming difficult to keep track of both. At a quick glance it looks like he has $10k in front of him. The bets are getting significantly larger. By the time the shoe is finished, he colors up for $40k! It’s unbelievable, after all it’s not like he is an advantage player. I am amazed at what I just witnessed. The dealers and the floor are all buzzing. He looks as if he has just won a marathon race.
Tuesday 7:30 PM
I arrive back to MGM after going home to change out of my hoodie and t-shirt. We head to Wolfgang Puck for dinner. As I look over the menu deciding what to order our waiter comes over to get us started with drinks. I see there is something on the menu called a barrel aged old fashioned, the description says it’s their own house blend aged in a barrel. I ask our waiter about this, and he informs me that they take quality whiskey like Old Forrester or Four Roses, blend them, and barrel age them. I am skeptical about this, but I order the drink. It wasn’t that bad, but if you ask me, they should stick to food and leave the bourbon to the professionals.
Tuesday 10:30 PM
“How are you feeling?”, he hands me a $500 chip and says, “Let’s see what you can do.” I feel good but a little awkward. Unfortunately, poker is not a game to earn fast cash. I walk up to the podium and ask how long the wait it is. The wait time seems reasonable, so I add my name to the $2/$5 interest list and the $1/$2 list. After about 15 minutes, my name is called. They are starting a new $1/$2 game. MGM has a 9 handed game, I claim the 8 seat. Everyone is buying in for $200 or less except for one player who buys in for the max, $600. I decide to buy in for $300. Its immediately obvious that the deep stack player is a grinder. The player to my immediate left in the 9 seat, knows how to play poker but claims its his first time playing in a casino. I observe he has no bluffs and make a mental note of this. The rest of the table isn’t immediately memorable except for one guy, who seems to get a little sticky.
The first hand of note against him happens when he is in the BB. We get a couple of limpers before I look down at AKo in the HJ. One of the limpers is the UTG+1, I decide to make a small raise to $8. The CO, BB, and LJ call. 4-ways with a pot of $35, we see a flop of JcAdAc. The BB decides to donk into 3 players for $10! The LJ calls and I decide to put in a raise to $50. Everyone except the BB folds. I doubt he has an ace but what could be calling here? JJ? KQ? The rest of the hand is uneventful. I want the opportunity to see his cards. He tables what looks like 67 with a club.
The game continues without very many notable hands. The player who had never been in a casino before seemed to be getting paid. Multiple times he would be in a hand, call the flop, and then on the turn something would change. An over card would hit, a draw would come in, or a card that paired the board would show. It wasn’t always obvious at first but once you looked at the board you could see it. The amazing part is that players would still bet into him, and he would have it each time he called.
Time was ticking away. Hand after hand went in the muck. I picked up a small pot here and there, not really making any big plays. Patiently waiting for my opportunity to come. The hand started out with a limp from early position. Our sticky friend raised it to $15 in MP. The button called and then it was my turn to act in the small blind. I made a 3-bet to $60. It folded back around to our sticky friend who tanked. My assumption was that maybe he was thinking about jamming. I honestly didn’t really expect him to call, but he did. Everyone else folded. As the flop came down, I started to eliminate combinations that were less likely to have thought about calling for so long. Hands like AA, KK, AK, and sometimes QQ would put in the 4-bet at these stakes. He could be calling with a suited ace, some sort of broad way combo, or medium pocket pair. The flop came down 673 rainbow, normally a board I would not like because of all the pairs and two pairs that my opponent could have. Our opponent checked rather quickly with a slight look of disappointment in his face. I had already counted that he had a little less than the pot. I went all-in, again he tanked. What could he be pondering? Eventually he folded his hand. The players at that end of the table were discussing the hand as I heard him say that I couldn’t have pocket aces because he had Ace-Jack. He was right about one thing, I had AK suited.
Wednesday 2:00 AM
By now most of the places where we could have bought cigars were closed. The bars that were open didn’t have them and the gift shops that were around only had cigarettes, snacks, and personal necessities. For a city that never sleeps, it was difficult to find what you wanted. Someone suggested that we go across the street to one of the other MGM properties where they might have a store that sold cheap cigars still open. Off we went to look for cheap cigars.
Eventually after speaking with some of the staff and a little haggling, we found quality cigars. We got our pick from the humidor that was brought down to us from the main gift shop that had already been closed. While I personally am not a fan of Cohiba, I think it was the best one out of the selection they had. We made our way back and found ourselves where we had started the day. There we were promptly provided with a cutter and matches to light our cigars. We ordered more drinks and smoked our cigars as the night slowly drifted away in the cloud of smoke above us.
Bizzy’s 2023 Gains: $195.25