Friday, June 25, 2010

Checking out Aria

Although I lived in New York City most of my youth I never actually have been to the Statue of Liberty. Living in Las Vegas I continue to find myself taking for granted some of the new and exciting places that pop up. It has been some time since City Center and Aria have been built, but I have never actually toured the area. I might have a subconscious dislike for the City Center project, as I had a large number of patients in my practice who were in construction working on the site. When the project was completed, due to the economy, many of them could not find work in Las Vegas. Since these men were out of work, they were also out of health insurance, and I was out of a good chunk of my patient population. It is not fun being involved in the game of economic dominoes.

In City Center, next to Aria, is the Mandarin Oriental Hotel that was hosting a "Knock out Obesity" conference with Sugar Ray Leonard as a keynote speaker. Allergan, a company that produces adjustable gastric bands (and other medical products), was funding the event. I was invited to attend to discuss some potential business opportunities with some surgical centers in Las Vegas. Five years ago this kind of stuff was very exciting to me. After spending years of talking to people all day in my office, doing lectures and groups I view these meetings, and unfortunately other social events, as a chore. Poker has been a good escape from the constant talking I do all day, and is likely why I am so quiet at the tables and generally go unnoticed.

Although I was not looking forward to going, I have yet to visit the poker room in the Aria, and so leaving a bit early to play a little weekday poker softened the mental blow of having to socialize all evening.

Usually I avoid driving down the Las Vegas Strip due to the traffic. When I do go to strip casinos I almost always come from a back entrance. Since I have never been to the Aria I was not really aware of an alternative way to get there and so for the first time in a while I drove down the strip. The traffic wasn't so bad since it was a weekday and I must admit it was fun looking at some of the goofy things that go on these days. Although I have lived here on and off since 1992 I felt a little like a tourist when I started taking snapshots of the Superman look-alike that was helping some lady with directions. I guess times are changing in Las Vegas when Superman look-alikes replace Elvis look-alikes. You couldn't pay me enough money to do this, but it might be a good choice of outfit for Shaun Deeb's quest to promote sexual equality as suggested by the author of the crAAKKer blog.

Getting into Aria, finding self parking and getting a spot was incredibly easy. It was also a pleasure to find how close the poker room was to the parking lot. I have spent alot of time playing poker at the MGM and estimate a good 1/2 mile walk from the parking lot to the poker room, so I guess anything is a pleasure in comparison.

Aria has a very chic atmosphere that the look of the poker room was consistent with. It is, however, a little small for my taste and difficult to walk through with the tables being so close together. The wait was minimal and once seated I was very comfortable.

There were at least 2 locals that I have seen before at the $1/$3 table that I was at, 3 others who I did not know that were playing fairly strong, and 3 softer players that were drinking booze. I found the chips visibly pleasing, having a cartoon like quality to them.

During the time I played, a weight loss surgeon from Mexico sat next to me. Against my intentions we began chatting for a while. It turned out to be a good business opportunity since he does lap band surgery on patients from the United States and needed a local physician to care for them. I hope he does surgery better than he plays poker. I found it both frightening and amusing that he adjusted the lap band of three patients in his hotel room earlier that day. I was happy to offer him a safe clinical environment to do this. My goodness...the things that go on in this town.

In 90 minutes I profited $200 bringing my win streak in cash game sessions to about 6. I wish I could say that about tournaments in which I am 0/3 in cashing since the WSOP. At about 6:30 I racked my chips and headed to the Mandarin Hotel for the evening event. I actually enjoyed myself and had some very interesting business opportunities present themselves. When I got home I spent some time with my family, put my son to bed and then played a $2.20- 180 entrant NLHE turbo on poker stars. I came in second which was around a $75 prize. Overall it was a good day for me. I might find myself visiting Aria again.

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