Thursday, May 22, 2008

An Amazing Opportunity with the Syndicate Pt. 1

In all the craziness of the recent times of my life, I once again found the perfect three-day escape. Every time I leave Vegas it seems as though the only thing I want to do is go straight back. I realize that I'm not the only one with this feeling, nor am I even one of a select few, but I can't help but love that place.

Three weeks ago I was given the amazing chance to be part of an age-old crew that has come together for decades to form outstanding feats of gambling glory: the Syndicate. The Syndicate that I'm referring to consists of my father and a large group of rotating friends, who, in their younger years, went to Vegas almost every weekend to take on the casinos and have the time of their lives. Some still go pretty regularly, but as the older generation dies out the tradition is being taught and handed down to the next in line.

The object of the Syndicate is very simple: everyone puts in the same amount of money on a certain gambling venture, and if there's overall profit then everyone splits what comes of it. If everyone loses, then it's on to the next game. A lot of the time this consists of everyone putting in a certain amount of money into a single machine, whether it be slot or video slot, while one person takes the chair and tries to dominate that specific game with his fellow members cheering on in rally. This isn't to say that table games are not on the ballot, because they are, but the exception is that craps is rarely , if ever, played for the Syndicate. While most of the time the group will lose, if you use the extended currencies to hit a hot machine the big payouts tend to even everyone out.

This latest adventure pitted two old-timers and a first-timer (myself) against the wonders of the City of Lights. The father and I headed out on a Friday noon to meet up with the other, Ben, who would likely be in full swing. Ben is still a Vegas junkie. He's a monthly visitor and, luckily for us, he and his brother play enough and high enough that they get comped wherever they need to. This weekend it at the Palazzo. I was excited to check it out, as I was staying next door at the Venetian during the Palazzo's soft opening but failed to go in.

While we would be staying at the "new definition of luxury", we needed to head to the Orleans first so we could hit up the daily 7PM tourney. The two of us got there barely before the tourney started, so we said a quick hello to our third member and quickly bought in for $105. Before we started the tournament I learned a few rules about the Syndicate.

Rule #1: There must always be either 3 or 5 people in the Syndicate. The odd man must have final say over a tied vote.

Rule #2: Always have faith, the Syndicate will prevail!

Rule #3: Drink a lot.

Rule #4: "Details". (This'll be more clear later in the story.)

So we all grabbed a couple drinks and headed to take our seats. After a few hours of play I was pretty standard stacked, but doubled up right before the first break. The three of us found out that I was the biggest stack of the Syndicate's three horses, yet in my mind Ben was the favorite to pull through the weekend's first victory.

Eventually I ended up blinding down and found myself with about 11k with the blinds at 1000/2000/300. There was a break and blind increase in a few minutes so I was hoping to double up again like I did before the first break. A few hands later UTG raised to 6.5k while I looked down at AKo in the hijack. I obviously snap shoved for the rest of my short stack and got called 3 ways behind. I was up against AKo in the SB, 1010 UTG, and for some reason the 40k stack BB called my RR and then called the UTG's 35k reshove AI with...KJo. So I was drawing to chop with a case K or one of two Aces, but neither fell and the 1010 picked up a healthy pot.

I was out before the second break with no cash, but looked over to see Ben, the group favorite, on the rail. We scouted out Father-man to check his status as the tourney went into the second break, and it looked like his stack would be in trouble after the break was over. The Syndicate's first investment looked weak.

The two of us found a drink girl and a Texas Tea machine, and decided to play some two-way action as we each plugged a $20 into the famed machine. Now this is where I caught my first glimpse of the beauty of a function like the Syndicate. Even on a low budget you can play and drink for a long time and still have a ton of fun. You triple your play-time on any machine, and when the play hits you get fun money given back to you. There are a few times in my first trip with the group that we ended up hitting big payouts when were down to our last 1/3 of the buyin. Without buying in for triple or split action from the Syndicate, one would more than likely walk away after the first $20 or $100 without success. The Syndicate, my friends, is a group founded on the idea of success.

While this was not true action in the sense of our ring, we both played and hit the bonus, for which I picked three spots that were the lowest payouts on the board. Mark one for Chris being horrible at gambling this weekend. We bottomed out and hit the bar and then the rail again to watch our third player play on. He eventually broke before the cash and we hit our first loss of the weekend.

It was time for some more drinks so the three of us grabbed 'em and took off running. The casino was about to be our bitch for the night, we were convinced of it!

We munched up a Chinese food dinner before we roamed the casino floor for a while. Unfortunately, hours of drinking and pumping machines full of twenties at the Orleans resulted in nothing more than lighter pockets. At the tail end of our session we landed on another Texas Tea machine that took us up to almost even with a four-spot bonus that hit pretty big right off the bat. We cashed out, shipped the split profit from the game, and decided to head back to the poker room to take advantage of their 11PM $80 tourney.

After the drinks that were in me, and facing a small field of four short-handed tables, my brain almost considered this tourney a locked win in favor of me. My fingers had different plans though. I lost about half my stack in the first two orbits, and got into a couple quarrels with a kid who thought he was God's gift to poker. There he was at an hour-to-midnight wearing a beanie, sunglasses, and a pair of headphones, playing the best poker of his life.

Ben was again knocked out before me, and I lasted about half an hour before I pushed my stack with 27hh UTG. The kid called with 38o and, as fate would have it, 8-high held across the board. Obviously the Gift made sure that the table heard that he KNEW 8-high was good, he knew it! plans for this tournament didn't pan out.

I was fearless in my defeat, however, because I knew that the video poker bar was feet away! After watching some nub falling over as he walked away from the same bar, I sauntered up and pounded some $20 drinks while I played free video poker. Right at the end of my third drink I hit a couple full houses and shipped back a double-profit. My losses were shrinking, this was good news.

This is where things got a bit hazy. The drinks didn't stop, the gambling didn't stop, but somewhere along the way my memory began to cower away. The Syndicate fought hard throughout the night and from the evidence of the morning after we were only down $160 from gambling, and only around $100 each from tipping. We loaded our bags from our car into a cab and took off to the Palazzo to top off the night.

Part 2 is going to be a mix of story-telling and "fill-in-the-black" memory, but I'll do the best I can to recall it all in my next post.

I know that I have yet to continue on the other Pt. 1 I started about my birthday trip in December, but I feel like writing this one now while it's fresh. Bear with me here, I just started writing again ;)

And be sure to check out Splendid Simplism for daily updates on my life that aren't gambling related.

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