There’s nothing quite like the excitement of booking a poker trip to Las Vegas. I’m sitting at my desk a few weeks before my 26th birthday, and at this moment in time I have been to Vegas twice. Well, I haven’t been to Vegas twice, but I’ve been in Vegas twice.
For my 24th birthday my girlfriend (now wife) and I spent one night at the MGM Grand and saw a comedy show at night. After she went to bed I wandered down to the poker room at around 2am and played for a couple hours. Not much of a “Vegas adventure.” We did walk around the Strip a bit the next day to visit some of the casinos, but it was so hot I got a nosebleed and we decided to hit the road early. We were living in LA at the time, so we just stayed one night. Money was a little tight so we were happy to save some money and only stay for Saturday.
The next time I found myself within the city limits was while my wife and I were driving across the country to move back to Connecticut. It was March 2020, the second day of official COVID-19 lockdown. So, needless to say, there was no poker playing or bright lights on the Strip. I believe the only stop was at a gas station. I contemplated playing the slot machine there, just to say I gambled in Vegas one more time before leaving the West Coast, but I decided against it (I’m allergic to slots and table games).
This brings me back to my desk. I read the big announcement by Cardplayer Lifestyle founder Robbie Strazynski about the inaugural Mixed Game Festival at the Westgate in Las Vegas, sponsored by PokerStars. I immediately told my wife who’s reaction was “you have to go” (I hit the jackpot with her). I sat down, started checking out flights and submitted my time-off request to my manager. I have never been more excited for something poker related in my life!
This announcement is coming at an absolute perfect time for me. Just days ago I made the decision to pursue poker writing (thanks to Geoff Fisk’s article, here). Not too long ago, I reached out to Robbie and we discussed me contributing to Cardplayer Lifestyle. In my initial email to him, I mentioned how I LOVE mixed games, but living in Massachusetts and being a small stakes player, it is almost impossible to find.
The closest I can get to mixed games is a $1-$5 stud that runs at Foxwoods everyday, the next stakes up are $20-$40. That is a massive jump, one that my bankroll is not ready to make. There is also a H.O.R.S.E. game at Mohegan Sun, but it is 2.5 hours away and the game runs at 2pm on Thursdays; not a great situation considering I have a 9-5 job. Even when I lived in LA it was hard to find mixed games. Beyond a monthly $5-10 mixed game at Hustler, the next game was $25-50 or $50-100 at the Bike. More games that my bankroll couldn’t handle.
Since my current living situation and bankroll are not conducive to playing mixed games, the upcoming Mixed Game Festival is the perfect opportunity to meet other mixed game players and get to play at affordable stakes. I can’t wait to be splashing around playing $4-$8 dealer’s choice, shooting the breeze, and enjoying my Vegas trip.
While I am very excited for the mixed games, I realized I can also knock off a bucket list item while I am there. I want to play in a bracelet event. I’ve only ever played in three live tournaments in my poker career, and they were all small daily tournaments (none of which I cashed in). The dates for my trip will line up perfectly with this year’s WSOP Event #8 NLH Deepstack. As outlined in my recent Bracelet on a Budget post, this would be a very cost-effective way to play in a bracelet event, and I can parlay it into playing some low-stakes mixed games.
I am debating on crossing off my bucket list item by playing, but it’ll be hard to pick folding 2 cards over calling with 4+. Whether I’ll be taking Monday and Tuesday for the tournament or spending my entire trip in the mixed games, one thing is for sure: I am going to Las Vegas during the World Series of Poker and I couldn’t be happier!