Travel Blog (Vegas Adventure 16)


So I heard about this place in Vegas to get a good cut. With poker players from around the world coming to Vegas, some for 6-8 weeks at a time, many of them need a cut or two while they are here.

I was told to check out “High Rollers” which offers a premium cut with a premium experience. They cut anything but do seem to specialize in the old school styles like the undercut. 


Walking in, the first thing you notice is the decor. Martin, the owner says they had bought the shop back in Feb 2012. 

Since then, some celebrities of sorts have been patrons of the shop.

Bryce Harper used to come here for a buzz. (A signed jersey and bat are hung on the wall)

One of the first things the winner of the first WSOP Colossus did was get a haircut here. 


These dudes at pretty cool and chill. They take their time and the conversations are interesting. A chiropractor came in and chatted about his band and the local bar scene. They give some serious attention to each patron. At one point, the man on the right started playing guitar as he waited for his next appointment. 

My haircut lasted 50 minutes, which is 40 minutes longer than my usual places in San Antonio.

It was well worth it.

It was an appointment day ($30 per cut) and I was a walk in which they usually only take on the back half of the week ($20 per cut). On their website they list all the packages.

If I lived in Vegas I would consider becoming a patron full time. If you are in town, and need a trim, consider stopping in.

Movie Reviews: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone


This movie answers the age old question of what happens when a Magician headliner in Vegas loses it all, but is too aloof to really have a crisis of conscience. 

That man is Steve Carell, playing Michael Scott as if he found a new career. It is sort of daft humor, in the trope of being so clueless and desperate it is funny. Steve Martin and Chevy Chase did this trope in the 80s. 

Steve Buscemi plays his partner, but not as hammy as he could. Part of me thinks he was miscast. The part had to go to a lesser star than Steve Carell, but I think it could have gone to someone from TV with a serious typecast. You know, like Keifer Sutherland or Sean Bean. It certainly would have added something for the role.

Jim Carey steals the show in one of his better comedy roles of the last 20 years. I enjoyed the Chris Angel spoof, except for the little power drill nonsense that baffles me to why it was even needed.

The secret to the movie is the ensemble cast. Olivia Wilde is the heart of the film and works because of her. I’m not sure who else could have seriously played it serious in dreaming of being a magician and being interested in Steve Carell (the real magic trick in the film). 

Alan Arkin is funny as hell, although he kind of plays the same role he does in everything as the cranky old man. Seeing him under the bed makes me laugh. 

The movie works in a stupid pathetic way if that makes sense. It’s over the top ridiculousness but I laugh and smile and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I lived in Las Vegas for 4 years. Maybe it’s because the ending is so laughably bombastic that I applaud it.

Movie Rating: 7/10 Disappearing Acts

Travel Blog (Vegas Adventure Part 15)


It happens every night in Vegas in every casino. Most of the time it is at the bar. Other times, they are called to people’s rooms (lower end surprise pricing). For the wealthy, everything is prearranged. 

It is fairly easy to spot. 

If you see a dressed up woman at a bar alone, constantly checking her phone and the bartender isn’t really trying to press them to chat as if they have seen them 100 times before, they are likely a hooker. 

If you see some nice looking younger women dressed to the nines, talking to an older, slightly pudgy man in a suit from India, China, or remarkably distinct nationality, between midnight and 3am in Las Vegas, they are a hooker.

If you see a man in their 60s with a cute blonde in her 20s, holding hands in Vegas, come on, that isn’t her grand daddy.

In my 8 days here, I’ve only been approached once. Last year I was approached once, almost to the point getting intercepted after taking an alternate path to avoid them. 

Last night, I was playing poker at a certain place and we all watched the negotiation commence from afar. The girl in white was aggressive as a leopard. We don’t know the pricing she was quoting him but he was toiling with the idea. It isn’t too often this man from Indian descent was probably away from his wife long enough to get a quickie and blame it on gambling losses. 

He walked away.

Then the woman in white turned and said something again, presumably a counter offer.

He returned to negotiations. 

We don’t know what the exact terms were. We think they were working in pairs and offering a three some at a cost of at least a thousand each due to their looks. 

Mr.Indian businessman toiled with it for 10 minutes, then finally decided to walk away.

Then the poker room peanut gallery shouted and yelled that he should have taken the deal, shocking the man thinking he was incognito. 

He shook his finger at us, when really, he should take a long look in the mirror.

Movie Reviews: Rounders


Rounders

For any poker player, Rounders is the equivalent of A Field of Dreams for baseball or Hoosiers for basketball.

To me, this film works as a poker movie (the only one besides Maverick) and a drama. 

I’m not gonna lie, when I was younger and played a ton of poker after the “Moneymaker” moment,  I watched this film like every week. You see, every home game would play this in the background over and over and everyone would nod their head at how they would have kicked the legs from Teddy KGB and reraised Johnny Chan as well.

For a poker player, this movie might have contributed to the poker boom and WSOP Dream as much as Chris Moneymaker’s Miracle run. It came in 1998 to little fanfare and was certainly ahead of its time. 

Ironically, it’s a movie where poker and cheating play a big part, showing the honest people that play and the assholes that give it a bad name. When the cops beat the crap out of them for cheating, I really don’t mind. They deserve it.

Flash forward 12 years or so, and life imitated art when all the “big stars” (aka criminals, thieves, fraudsters) of rigged sites like Full Tilt poker had the FBI freeze the site, because as it came to be known, people like Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson took all the money in the accounts and paid themselves, like a Ponzi scheme. 

In a way, all the degenerate gamblers who got lucky in the early 2000s got in on the con and enriched themselves with everyday people’s money. Grandma that just wanted to casually play 25 cent poker? Bam, Full Tilt robbed her. 

Ironically, a few poker players like Howard Lederer’s sister Annie Duke advocated that poker is a skill game and should be able to be played online for money in the US while her brother was giving her money from people’s accounts. 

They are the Worms of poker. 

From what I hear, they avoided the WSOP until this year after posting online an apology. Every single person I talked to playing WSOP events think the same thing. They are all a fraud and should rot in jail. All of them. Just like Worm.

Funny how in a country that if you rob a gas station for $50 you can get 20 years in jail. Rob $100 million from poker accounts and nothing happens.

Rounders is a masterpiece. The movie is even better today and holds up in theme and character arcs. I’ve seen it more than any movie outside the Empire Stikes Back.

Travel Blog (Vegas Adventure Part 14)


Vegas is a city where dreams go to die. 

In the old days, when the Mob ran the Vegas, there was a saying that if you went broke, the casino would ensure you would get home by buying you a bus ticket. 

When the corporations and suits took over Vegas, things changed. Nobody gives a shit about the homeless and those that lose everything, not even the city. 

This is sad. 

In a city that millions are wagered, and some high rollers bet as much as $100k on a hand, just outside, literally on the bridge between the opulent Palazzo and the Wynn, there was one homeless woman begging for money, and another who evidently had turned in for the night and decided to sleep on the there. 

Go down the escalator and enter the Wynn promenade and you can buy Rolex and Loius Vuitton and Chanel, and just outside people are destitute. 

Back when I used to live in Vegas, I saw all sorts of stuff. I lived behind the strip for 3 months as I was trying to close on my house. 

There is a huge homeless problem surrounding the strip with people suffering all kinds of addictions and bad turns in life. 

In fact, they estimate 2000 people actually live in the storm drain tunnels beneath Las Vegas. 

I know, because I have seen it. When people lost their homes in the housing collapse, some people even moved their entire furniture sets inside. They sleep at night and come out in the day and roam the strip. You’ll see them scavenging casinos looking for dropped money or tickets. They hand out those club tickets and ask for a donation. 

Some efforts are made by charities to get folks on their feet, but many don’t break the cycle. 

And sadly, many are vets. 

Here is one story I have, from my first week in Vegas in 2008. I was at chipotle next to Harrahs and a homeless man with torn up clothing, bloodshot eyes, was hogging the corner table just outside. He watched as a woman was done with her burrito bowl and she tossed it in the garbage. 

The homeless/drugged man then walked inside and reached in and grabbed the remainder of her bowl from the trash. He took it outside and mumbled to himself and ten started eating it with his fingers as tourists walked by. 

The next time you are in Vegas take a look, the homeless are not as invisible as you may think.

Travel Blog (Vegas Adventure Part 13)


I went to a Gelato Bar after my Korean meal, I figured what the hell, why not stop in.


It was a pretty average looking Gelato Bar. They said everything was made fresh each day, however, I highly doubt this fact as a reasonable business model. 

The prices were what you would get at cold stone or something. What I thought was interesting was the add ons, like boba and mango jellies on top. 

I paid $8.05 for my 2 scoops of strawberry and orange in a waffle cone. 


It was tasty, but to be honest, too much considering I just ate a full meal. I got down to the waffle cone part, but couldn’t finish it. 

The environment is decent and what you expect from a post-bar-hopping night. There was a fussball table and board games to play. As I was leaving, there was a group of 4 people dressed nicely. The two women in the group were excited and taste tested half the flavored. The two men paid. 

If that goes on all nights, that is a pretty good business at $8 a pop.

Travel Blog (Vegas Adventure Part 12)


For those of you who want to eat Asian food in Las Vegas, know that there is a pretty large Asian community west of the strip on Sprint Mountain road. You can find any Asian sect of food you want plus a score of karaoke bars and foot parlors and grocery stores in this area. 


I went to a restaurant a strip mall called “Mr.Tofu,” a Korean spot next to a karaoke bar and a tiki bar. The place is pretty small but I’ve been coming here at least once a year the last 6-7 years. 

The food is a pretty good and the price is decent so it makes for a quick bite. For the first time in many years the menu was updated to include combo prices. In the past, the kimchee tofu soup was a seperate item for $8 but now it’s a $3 add on with a main dish. 

So I ordered a Diet Coke and a pork bulgogi combo and asked them to make my soup extra spicey. The order comes with some standard Korean side dishes that seems to change every time I go.

The tofu soup was hot as hell, the way I like it. The vegetables seemed fresh. 
The bulgogi was awesome. This is why I come here. For the price and quality it is hard to beat it in contrast to the prices on the strip.

With the total price plus tax and tip, I think I left $25.