Colombia Part 1, February 2020

I haven’t blogged in awhile so let’s get back to it! For months I had been planning my first ever trip to Asia. I was planning on going to Hong Kong, Macau, Manila, and Singapore all in the span of about 2 weeks. However, due to the the Corona virus some of my flights around Asia were already canceled, and I heard they were even shutting down casino’s in Macau. Thus, I decided to cancel my trip to Asia.

Fortunately, I was able to get refunds for most of my flights and accommodations. I still wanted to go somewhere in the same time frame and I had a round trip flight from Vegas to LA still booked. I researched flights all over Europe, Central America and South America. Ultimately, I decided I was due for a return to South America. I have traveled pretty extensively in South America, traveling to Peru with my family when I was a teenager. Then later living in Northern Chile for 4 months while teaching English and being able to take a week off to go to Buenos Aires. However, that was about 10 years ago. So where to go next? I saw a direct round trip flight from LA to Bogota, Colombia for a similar price as my main Asia flight. Colombia…Interesting history, culture, inexpensive, and casinos. Vamanos!!!

After spending a night in LA visiting friends, chilling at Manhatan beach, and a brief poker session at Hollywood Park Casino (-$150 playing 2/5), I flew to Bogota the next night. I arrived at my airbnb Sunday morning the 9th. I was pretty exhausted and spent the day sleeping, resting and researching things to do in Bogota. I read there was pretty much only one casino that has live poker, Luckia Casino.

Not really knowing anyone in Bogota, why not meet some people at the poker table…The poker room was in the basement of the casino, a small room with about 8 tables. They had a few games going of 1/3 and 2/5 Colombian pesos. I decided to start with 1/3 and see how that went. My session was pretty uneventful, only really winning one decent pot when I raised preflop with QJ and getting one caller. I bet on the flop of Qjx and was called. Turn didn’t change much, I bet again and my opponent folded. I was still pretty tired and very hungry so my session lasted less than 2 hours, where I was down a little bit for most of the session. However, I won a random drawing for $100 Colombian pesos which put me up a little bit, enough to pay for dinner and a beer across the street from the casino.

I spent the next few days sightseeing and doing tours in Bogota. Highlights included a food tour where I made empanadas with a Venezuelan family. Also a coffee shop tour and hiking up and down Monserrate, a mountain on the edge of the city with a church and shops at the top. I checked out a couple museums which were nice…the gold museum and indigenous history museum.

I played a few more poker sessions at Luckia. They were pretty frustrating, I just couldn’t seem to win any hands or decent sized pots and didn’t have any winning sessions. At least they had a nice dinner brought to each player in the game. I felt safe playing there and although still frustrating to lose, I was playing lower stakes than I generally play in the US.

Overall, Bogota was OK. Unfortunately, I chose accommodations that were slightly away from the action and I spent a lot of time in transit to the tourist areas. Public transportation was confusing and crowded. Bogota was also extremely congested and polluted. It reminded me of Santiago, Chile another South American city that i’ve visited in the past.

Check out some pictures below, i’d be happy to answer questions if you have any: https://photos.app.goo.gl/EE7tzd9E1FF3nHE47

Thanks for reading, part 2 coming relatively soon, haha. Hope everyone is doing OK during these crazy times!

-Ben