A relaxing and rewarding trip
to The Venetian

Jul 20, 2004 1:49 AM

Back in June my wife asked me if I could book a visit to The Venetian for two mid-week days. She’d been working a lot of hours lately and wanted some rest and relaxation at one of her favorite resorts.

As I sifted through my offers I found one that fit the bill: Two comp nights with some restaurant and play credits. The call was made, and we just returned home a few days ago.

Although this trip was mainly for some R&R and I only took along $500 to help support that desire, restful it was not. Right from the start at check-in I felt the change in agenda beginning to form. It seems the offer required a certain level of play on this particular trip in order to qualify for the two free nights — something rather typical of The Venetian in recent years (or I’d be charged $175 per night).

But since this was mainly a break for Cindy, I didn’t much care. We still wouldn’t play any more than our $500 would allow us. ATMs, check cashing privileges and casino credit are not options for anyone who wants to be a successful professional gambler.

Because of the minor situation we found ourselves in, our first stop after a refreshing visit to our room was at the circular bar in the middle of the casino floor. I actually felt like either getting that play requirement out of the way, or lose the $500 and forgetting about it for the remainder of our stay. I had no plan on how to win since I was not on a for-profit trip, so we sat at one of the open $1/$2/$5 machines, ordered a few drinks, and began play. Yes, these machines have lousy pay tables, but whether I was in for simple recreational play, I never have a problem with that.

I guess around $300 into the game using a small progression in denomination as well as volatility, we drew four 8s for a $1,250 win. But while we were waiting to be paid, our daughter called. She said, "Dad, Paul and I just had an idea. We thought since you were in Las Vegas and not playing professionally for you and mom, you could win us enough money to put a pool in our back yard"!

I said, "Ha, Ha," but my wife said, "Let’s go to the high limit room and do it"! It was her trip, I was on her schedule, and so into the room with the big limit machines we went.

She chose a $5/$10/$25 machine with typically bad pay tables. I felt like a tourist who didn’t know what he was doing, but we had a few more drinks and all was well.

Because of our relatively paltry bankroll on hand, I didn’t give us much of a chance to win anything other than covering the requirement for the two free nights, but my partner had other ideas. She was in a totally different frame of mind, and was determined to attain what to her was a goal set for Marissa.

After losing $500 on $5 Bonus Poker (BP), I switched to $10. Naturally, $500 went even quicker after that. We had about $400 remaining, so I switched over to $10 Double Double Bonus (DDB). To our surprise, on our very last hand, four aces appeared for an $8,000 win.

Because of how I’ve trained myself, I immediately said we should quit and go upstairs. But my wife had other ideas, and she had no intention of quitting until her goal was met. I think the only rational thought process going on was her trust of my game-playing decisions. So we continued at the same machine.

It’s funny how things happen when playing video poker. I am probably the most disciplined and determined video poker professional in the history of the game, yet here I was, at one of the most fabulous resorts in the world, being led into helter-skelter play by someone who neither cares much about video poker, nor plays it very often.

We ran through $1,000 again on BP with nothing. But again, on $10 DDB, we hit four 8s for a $2,500 win. On the next go-around, $1,000 once again disappeared on Bonus Poker, this time $500 went south on the $10 DDB game, but on $25 BP we again hit four 8s for $3,125. Cindy ordered two more drinks for us, we were having a great time, but I was beginning to wonder what in the world was going on.

At this point I lost count of where we were — one reason why I rarely drink when playing for profit. But I knew we did not have enough for a pool, so we continued on. After about $4,000 into the machine on $25 DDB we hit four 3s with a "2" kicker for $20,000. At this point I kind of knew we reached her goal, but I spotted a game that I’ve never played before: $1 hundred-play video poker. I believe those machines to be both a waste of time and something only a fool would play — which is exactly why I sat down at the thing. Tonight, I wasn’t myself, and it was fun.

How did we do on it? Well, I put $4,500 into it, but a dealt flush and dealt three queens (yielding seven quads on DDB) gave us a profit that I still haven’t figured out. The next day in between the spa and other relaxing activities, we romped around town and won a little at the Hard Rock, Tuscany, Westin, and Monte Lago before losing $4,500 at the Rio.

All in all, we counted $19,990 when we returned home. I had a 24-hour headache and Cindy remembers very little of what happened at The Venetian, but there indeed will now be a pool in our daughter’s back yard. I guess goals can come in all forms.

Even though we did not have any type of plan to play at this level on this visit, I had to incorporate a progression and a few other skills from my winning play strategies — if only to feel somewhat right about what we were doing.

One of them was on the big winning hand on $25 DDB poker. The deal was 3-3-6-6-x. Most people would go for the full house because that’s what the math models say to do. But not me. A full house would have meant little as we chased our goal. But four 3s would have been $10,000 — and we could have hit a full house regardless. I NEVER count on the kicker, just as I never count on a royal. But one thing I do know is how to give good fortune the opportunity to show, and how to handle good luck when it comes my way.