Saturday, December 20, 2008

Vegas Day 10

"Vegas Day 10"

Well, sad times. The babies were pretty sick. There was talk of having to put the little one in the hospital. At this point, Claire decides that she *has* to go home today... two days ahead of schedule. She makes the arrangements for the new flight, and we head down to the Excal poker room to meet up with the others.

Session 1: Excalibur 50c/$1 NL Hold 'Em

I couldn't really concentrate on this game. I played for about 45 minutes before we headed out to lunch. I made around $45.

With the group together, we decide to use our 24 hour bus pass to head out down the strip for some food. I'd been wanting Italian, and I got a few backers... but where do we get decent Italian food on the strip? We get on the bus without knowing where we're going. I bring out my iPhone and google Italian food on the Vegas Strip, and I get a lot of hits for restaurants in the Venetian. Well, that makes sense I guess. The Venetian is supposed to mimic being in Venice, Italy, right? They all sound pretty expensive, so I keep searching and find a review for Maggiano's. It's got a good rating, and they supposedly offer a great group/family meal deal. None of us had ever heard of it (turns out its a chain owned by the company that runs Chili's of all places... and that one is coming to Austin soon,) but it sounded good. So it was decided. We need the Fashion Show Mall exit.

We get there and the place looks kinda fancy. I feel under dressed in my Pac-Man T-Shirt. Everyone else in our party seems at least half-way well dressed. Drat. Anyway, we get seated in a room with a great view of the strip. I ask for a family menu, and man, it's awesome! For $20 per person, we basically get our choice of two appetizers, two kinds of salads, two main courses, two pasta dishes, and two desserts. Wow! A single bowl of Rasta Pasta at Rain Forrest Cafe was $20. This was a great deal indeed. But how as the food going to be? Well, as it turns out, fucking excellent! Best chain Italian food ever.

Halfway through the meal, Claire checks up on the girls. The little one still isn't doing well. They're at the doctor's office again. I start feeling really bad and decide to also cut my trip short. My biggest regret was not being able to go to that $6000 guaranteed free roll at Monte Carlo the next day. (Turns out Brent chopped at the final table at that very same tournament for like $600!) But I figured I really should leave.

After our excellent meal, we had back to the hotel. Claire sits down for a bit more poker, but I head up to the room to bring down our stuff and then go to the front desk to settle our tab. Sad times. I hate leaving Vegas. People were telling me that I was nuts to want to go for 11 days. It was Day 10, and I could have stayed another 10 days easily... if not more. Oh, well.

The end tally for myself was +$1451.75. Claire started to make a comeback, but ran out of time and ended up -$550 or so. After I paid the hotel, and you figured in the meals and airline tickets, it was probably dead even. So... you know, playing tons of poker and earning a free vacation wasn't so bad, right?

In any case, I can't wait until the next Vegas trip! :-)

Anyway, here are the final session stats:

TOTAL: +$1451.75

December 10th
-Wednesday- (+$185.50)
6:15p in Excal .50/1 $200buyin
8:30p out $224.50
(+$24.50 / 2hrs 15mins)

10:00p in MGM 1/2 $140 buyin
2:15a out $181
(+$41 / 4hrs 15mins)

2:45a in PH 1/2 $145 buyin
6:15a out $265
(+$120 3hrs 15 mins)

December 11th
-Thursday- (+$106.50)
7:30a in Venetian 1/2 $250 buyin
9:00a out $0
(-$250 1 hr 30 mins)

10:15a in Excal .50/$1$100 buyin
1:30p out $456.50
(+$356.50 3Hrs 15mins)

December 12th
-Friday- (+$140.75)
8:00a in Excal .50/$1 $200 buyin
8:45a out $275.50
(+$75.50 0hrs 45mins)

9:00a in Excal Tourney $20 buyin
10:00a out $0
(-$20 1hr 0mins)

10:00a in Excal 50c/$1 $145.75buyin
2:30p out $251
(+&105.25 4hrs 30mins)

11:30p in Excal $1/$2 $463.25 buyin
4:00a out $443.25
(-$20.00 4hrs 30mins)

December 13th
-Saturday- (+$400.50)
4:15a in Excal 50c/$1 $100 buyin
5:00a out $200.50
(+$100.50 0hrs 45mins)

1:00p in Excal Tourney $30 buyin
3:00p out $0 10th
(-$30 2hrs 0mins)

3:00p in Excal 50c/$1 $100 buyin
3:30p out $122
(+$22 0hrs 30mins)

3:30p in Excal $1/$2 $300 buyin
5:30p out $430.50
(+$130.50 2hrs 0mins)

8:15p in PH $1/$2 $200 buyin
11:45p out $354
(+$154 3hrs 30mins)

1:00a in Excal $1/$2 $300 buyin
3:15a out $323.50
(+$23.50 2hrs 15mins)

December 14th
-Sunday- (+$507.50)
5:00p in Excal $1/$2 $300 buyin
8:15p out $599.25
(+$299.25 3hrs 15mins)

6:30p Excal Bonus $50 raffle

12:15a in Binion's $1/$2 $200 buyin
2:00a out $291
(+$91 1hr 45mins)

3:30a in Excal $1/$2 $300 buyin
4:15a out $367.25
(+$67.25 0 hrs 45mins)

December 15th
-Monday- (-$48.50)
4:15p in Excal 50c/$1 $318.50 buyin
8:45p out $226
(-$92.50 4hrs 30mins)

8:45p in Excal $1/$2 $300 buyin
11:30p out $344
(+$44 2hrs 45mins)

December 16th
-Tuesday- (-$247.25)
12:00p in Excal 50c/$1$196.25 buyin
1:00p out $77.75
(-$118.50 1hr 0mins)

1:00p in Excal $30 tourney
1:45p out $0 20th
(-$30 0hrs 45mins)

1:45p in Excal 50c/$1 $264.75
3:15p out $0
(-$264.75 1hr 30mins)

4:00p in monte carlo 1/2 $195 buyin
8:00p out $310
(+$115 4hrs 0mins)

8:45p in Excal 50c/$1 $164 buyin
10:30p out $195.50
(+$31.50 1hrs 45mins)

11:30p in Excal 50c/$1 $100 buyin
11:45p out $119.50
(+$19.50 0hrs 15mins)

December 17th
-Wednesday- (+$331.75)
3:00a in Excal 50c/$1 $147 buyin
7:00a out $113.50
(-$33.50 4hrs 0mins)

2:15p in Excal $1/$2 &300 buyin
2:30p out $468.50
(+$168.50 0hrs 15mins)

5:15p in MC $2/$4 limit $100 buyin
5:30p out $131
(+$31 0hrs 15mins)

5:30p in MC $1/$2 $151 buyin
1:15a out $276
(+$125 7hrs 45mins)

3:00a in Excal 50c/$1 $100 buyin
3:30a out $140.75
(+$40.75 0hrs 30mins)

December 18th
-Thursday- (+$30.50)
1:30p in Mandalay $1/$2 $195 buyin
3:00p out $263
(+$68 1hrs 30mins)

7:00p in Sahara Tourney. $65 buyin
9:15p out $0
(-$65 2hrs 15mins)

12:00a in Excal 50c/1 $220 buyin
2:00a out $247.50
(+$27.50 2hrs 0mins)

December 19th
12:15p in Excal 50c/$1 $100 buyin
1:00p out $144.50
(+$44.50 0hrs 45mins)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Vegas Day 9

"Vegas Day 9"

Kind of a slow poker day for me. Claire's been in town a couple of days now, and as I've already stated, she's been running pretty bad. She's down almost $1,000 already, and honestly, I've kinda lost my focus. I'm grateful that we're collectively still up, but I'm a little dismayed that the majority of my profits, which took me the better part of a week to cultivate, have been wiped away very quickly by her horrible luck. And I want to stress here that despite her results, she *has* been playing quite well from what I've seen. It's mostly been very bad luck that's put her in such a large hole. Sure, I saw a hand or two that I might have played differently, but certainly, her decisions haven't been horrible ones.

So I woke up and the first thing I thought was "It's almost time to leave Vegas. That blows." Then I start thinking, "Two-thirds of the profits are gone. That really blows." I sigh, collect myself and head down to the poker room where we all seem to convene at the start of everyday. Everyone is there. Honestly, at this point, I'm not even really feeling up to playing. Maybe I need a change of atmosphere. I kept hearing about how the game at Mandalay Bay was an easy game. Maybe I should head over there. I convince the Price Brothers to take the short trip with me, and we're off for the first session of the day.

Session 1: Mandalay Bay $1/$2 NL Hold 'Em
We get to Mandalay Bay, and the poker room is pretty hoppin'. They've got about half a dozen table spread, but they all look full. This is a good thing as we're less likely to all end up on the same table. But as luck would have it, all the players cashing/busting out are from the table I sit at, so I end up with Brent and Brian at my table anyway.

The first thing I noticed are two old dudes speaking something that *sounds* like Spanish to each other. And they're speaking it alot. Enough that the dealer reminds that that it's "English Only" at the poker table. These guys don't care. They continue chatting it up in what might be Italian or Portuguese, and the dealer is such a pussy, that he lets them.

I watch the table play a few hands, and right off the bat I can tell these two foreigners are action players. They're in every hand raising and re-raising. If that weren't enough, we also had a crazy old Asian dude that loved to mix it up too. After a while, I spotted a couple of tight/aggressive players. And now I'm thinking, "Great. Mandalay Bay is easy, huh?" I tighten up and just watch everyone. This is probably the toughest table I've played at the whole time I've been here. I don't plan on staying too long.

I end up in a hand from the small blind with 5s 9d. Certainly not a great hand by anybody's standards, but I'll call $1 to see a flop with any two cards. The flop comes a friendly 3s 4s 6d. I check. Crazy foreigner #1 checks. Crazy foreigner #2 bets $10. Crazy Asian calls. The lady on the button calls. I call. CF #1 calls. WTF? That many draws? Spades and straight draws I guess. Turn comes Tc. Nothing for me or a spade draw. I check. CF #1 checks. CF #2 checks. CA bets out $20. Huh? A different guy bets the turn than bet the flop? Anyway... Button lady folds. I call. CF #1 calls. CF #2 folds. We're three now. River comes 7h. Bingo. I made my straight, but I'd have preferred a deuce. Still, I'm thinking I'll just check and see what happens. Crazy Foreigner #1 immediately goes all-in for like $120. Crazy Asian is now agonizing over whether he should call. He takes a good 2 minutes or so, and finally gives it up. Here's the interesting part. Crazy Foreigner #1 throws his hand towards the dealer, face down, past the betting line, and starts smiling. Hello? I'm still in the hand, dude! He was so focused on Crazy Asian that he had forgotten about me. I point out to the dealer that he mucked, and that I should win! CF #1 erupts in anger and snatches his cards back out from the middle of the table. Now, his "mucked" cards were well passed the betting line, but not touching the muck pile which had been collected into a neat stack by the dealer as soon as the river had been dealt. CF #1 all of a sudden is an English speaker. "I all-in!" "No!" "I all-in!" "I all-in!". "I no muck!" I laugh and ask for the dealer to get the floor over to the table. Dealer explains the situation to floor, and both players plead their cases. Me, using standard English like, "He threw his hand away." and CF#1 with "I no muck! I no muck!" As usual, the floor pussies out and rules against me. CF #1 is still huffing and puffing, and I'm still laughing at him. I tell him to settle down and take it easy. I call. We both show a 5 for a straight, and the dealer chops the pot. You know, I think if I had just let him go a letter longer, CF #1 might have had a heart attack. It was so funny. I tell him "Well, that was exciting, huh?!" He looks to CF #2 and says something in foreign-speak that sounded like he wanted a translation of what I said to him. CF #2 translates my comment to him, and he smiles at me. I smile back. What an idiot.

A few hands later I ended up with AKs (spades) in the small blind again. A handful of people called the $2 blind, and I popped it to $10. I got 2 callers. CF #2 and CA. The flop comes tiny cards, 2s 3d 7c. Not so good. I throw out a continuation bet of $15, CF $2 calls, and Mr. Crazy Asian decides to raise me to $30. Usually I throw my hand away at this point. I mean, I don't really have much of anything here but a pair draw and a couple of back door draws to a straight or a flush. However, I felt like I had been playing really tight and re-raise all-in to $90 might take the pot down based on my table image. This was, of course, assuming CA hadn't flopped a set. He was definitely capable of calling $8 more pre-flop with 22, 33 or 77. Still, I had him on an overpair like 99 or TT. So, I pushed. I went all-in for $90 total. $60 on top of his $30, and a re-re-raise. He called pretty quickly. I guess he had me on either AK (which of course was correct,) or he was just mesmerized by his overpair. He flipped over TT. Crap. I flipped over Ace King of spades. Well, I could still hit an A or K, right? Turn was a 5c. River was a 4d. No Ace. No King. The dealer starts shifting the chips to CA. But, waitaminute! I have a straight, Mr. Dealer! I bring that to the Dealer's attention and he's like... oh, of course... trying to act like he saw it the whole time. I call him out on it and ask him flat out, "You didn't see my straight, did you?" He responded, "Of course I did." Yeah, right. I tell him that I'm going to tip him $1, but nothing more. He grunted.

Well, after that mess, I decided I'd had enough of Mandalay Bay. I ended up +$68 after everything was said and done.

The Price's didn't do so well. Brent lost $200, and Brian and Sean were down for the session so it didn't take much convincing to get them out of there.

We decided to head down to Margaritaville for dinner, and after that, I convinced people that we should go to the Sahara for their famed 7pm tourney.

Session 2: The Sahara $65 NL Hold 'Em

For $65, the Sahara offers a pretty decent tourney. It's pretty well known as probably the best bang for the buck tourney in Las Vegas. To be clear, I say $65, but it's technically $40 with a $25 rebuy/addon. You can use the rebuy up front (which in effect makes it an add-on,) or wait until you actually bust to rebuy. The odd thing is that if you bust, and you already used your rebuy, you can re-enter the tournament one more time as a 'new player' and get a new buyin with another re-buy option. You only get to do this once though, so it's not like it's an infinite rebuy tourney.

In any case, being the smart poker player I am, I oped to load up with my rebuy/addon as soon as possible. As anyone who plays poker knows, chips are power. Why wait? Anyway, first hand of the tournament, and the guy to my right and the guy to my left are all-in after the flop. No shit. It's AK vs. KK and the flop comes AKx. Ugly. The 2nd hand of the tournament. I get AA, I raise, one guy calls. The flop comes small cards... something like 9 high. He bets, I raise, he calls. Turn comes an Ace! He bets, I raise, he goes all-in. I call with a set of Aces. He's got JJ. Blank river. I win! That's two all-ins on the first two hands!

I sit on my stack for almost two rounds. I made a few raises and took down a few small-ish pots here and there. Meanwhile, the guy that had busted on the first hand had re-entered the tournament as a new player. And his luck had dramatically changed. By the end of the 1st break, he was by far the biggest stack of the tourney. It was crazy the number of chips he had. I was a pretty big stack, and he had me like 10 to 1. He just kept busting people, and they kept sending us new ones. I hang around for another round or two when I finally pick up a decent hand. AKs (spades). I raise a pretty good amount from the button with about 3 limpers and the two blinds yet to act. The ultra big stack is in the Big Blind and as agonizing over his hand. He's correctly pegged me as a tight player, but he ultimately ends up calling. The flop comes all tiny cards. He checks and I push all-in for about 2x the pot (sounds familiar, huh?) I probably could have just checked behind him, but I definitely couldn't just bet out with a continuation bet. The blinds had grown enough by then that I would have basically committed myself anyway with any decent bet. So, I bet it all. He thought for a little while, and finally nervously called. I showed AKs... nothing really. He had JJ. Turn and River were blanks, and I was done.

I looked over to see how Claire was doing. And not only was Claire still alive, but she was the big stack at the table! Apparently she had hit a set of 8's and got paid off pretty big. Well, it finally looked like Claire's luck was chaning! She stuck in there and played pretty a tight/aggressive game. She ended up taking down a couple more big pots and was basically in a position to cruise to the final table. There were 97 entrants in the tournament, and they were paying the Top 10 (final table.)

The prize breakdown was retarded. It was *heavily* weighted towards 1st place. I mean, like 60% of the payout was 1st and they were paying 10 places. I hate that. I agree that 1st should be well compensated, but it seemed way out of whack for a tournament that was run pretty quickly. Claire ended up surving and making it to the final table without a problem. Soon after they lost their tiny stacked players, the table offered an 8-way chop. Since the payouts were so heavily skewed towards #1, and everyone knew that one bad hand could make them go from 1st to last, they all opted to take it. Claire was paid out $450 for her efforts which netted her a nice $385 profit. Thing were looking up for her!

We got back to the Excalibur near midnight, and decided to play a bit more 50c/$1.

Session 3: Excalibur 50c/$1 NL Hold 'Em
I'll be honest, I don't remember a thing from this session. I made $27.50 in 2 hours. That's about all I can say about that.

By this time, Claire had been keeping close communication with her mom and the kids back home. Both kids had gotten pretty sick, and the little one, only 5 months old, was on a nebulizer treatment every four hours. Basically, she had to wear a mask that vaporized medication that she could inhale. She had some sort of bronchial infection (not bronchitis) that was making it very hard for her to breathe. Claire was seriously contemplating had back home a couple of days early...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Vegas Day 8

"Vegas Day 8"

This was a turnaround day. I was up +$331.75.

The first session is basically a continuation of Day 7.

Session 1: Excalibur 50c/$1 NL Hold ‘Em
Claire had been running bad. I mean she was losing with great made hands. Top pair/top kicker to two pair. Two pair to straights. Sets to flushes. That kind of shit. So we decided to take a break for a really late snack at Fatbuger around 2:00am. This was like, I don't even know... my 3rd time to Fatburger in a week? I was getting pretty sick of it. Anyway, after the break we returned to Excalibur and started this session at 3:00am. At this table, there was a crazy old Texas coot named "Murray". Murray was one of those guys that you felt bad watching lose over and over. I mean, he was a horrible player, sure, but you have guys at the table you want to see lose and guys you're like "Aw, shucks." when they lose. Murray was an "Aw, shucks." guy. He constantly misplayed his hands and pretty much made bad decisions whenever he could make them. He would go all-in for $75 with AA pre-flop with $2 in the pot. Or all-in with J9 with an AK9 board for like $60 into a $30 pot and 3 people behind him. He lost over and over and kept reloading... all the time getting drunker and drunker. And you sorta feel bad for the guy, and then.... Claire picked up Aces, made a pretty good pre-flop raise, and there's ol' Murray again. He goes all in for like $100 on a 9 high flop, no straight or flush possible and $15 in the pot. Claire thinks for a while, but if you'd been watching him play, he could have anything. Pocket deuces, two pair, Ace high. Who knows? Claire calls, and Ol' Murray has a set of 6's. Wow. I don't feel bad for Murray anymore. Now, he's a dick. That's about all I remember from this session. I ended up getting up from the table after Claire busted. I was down $33.50.

We go to bed.

Session 2: Excalibur $1/$2 NL Hold ‘Em
I wake up around 1:30p and Claire and Brian were already down at the poker room. I shower and head downstairs where I find Sean sitting down at the table next to theirs waiting for Brent to show up and for Claire and Brian to get up from their session so we can all go to lunch. I take a seat next to Sean, and we try to decide on a place to have lunch. Well, we sit there and sit there and sit there and Brian and Claire are still playing. Max might have been playing too. I have to note here that Sean and I were pretty much permanent residents on the "interested" list for a $1/$2 game, just waiting for a game to make. All of a sudden, we notice that the table where we were sitting at, you know, just killing time, lights up and shows a $1/$2 game starting literally right under our noses. Sean and I look at each other for a second and then immediately log in for $300 each. Four other dudes show up within a few seconds, and then we hear them blare out over the PA that a new $1/$2 game was starting. Sweet. The game lasted for 22 minutes. No kidding. Within 22 minutes Sean and I had busted three of the four players. Granted, everyone but Sean and I bought in for $40 to $100 each. But in 22 minutes I was up $168.50... just waiting for Claire and Brian to get up from their game. Not bad.

After finally prying Brian and Claire (and Max?) out of their seats, we head out to lunch at Hooters.

It's raining pretty hard and cold as a motherfucker, so after Hooters we decide to take a cab to the Monte Carlo. I had to rack up like 4 more hours of playtime at the MC poker room to get into their $6k freeroll on Saturday, and every else wanted to check out the casino.

Session 3: Monte Carlo $2/$4 Limit Hold ‘Em
All 5 of use show up at the MC poker room, and of course, they want to seat us all together on a new table. Yeah, no thanks. We didn't travel all the way to Vegas to play each other. We can do that back in Austin for free. So we decide to wait for open seats at one of the three $1/$2 games they already have running. After about 10 minutes, I say "Fuck, it." and ask for a seat at the $2/$4 limit table just to kill time. I convince Brent to take a seat next to me. Now, I hadn't played limit in a looong time. I knew it was a very bad game to play, but I was just gonna have fun for a bit. And holy crap... that game is horrible. There is no way you can beat the rake. The pots are tiny and they rake just as much as they do in NL. Plus, after you tip, you're lucky to make $5-6 per for a good made hand. The funny thing is that Brent and I won every single pot we played for the first 6-7 hands. Either Brent or I would take down the pot playing crap like 68o and just getting lucky. Brent gets called up to take a seat at the $1/$2 game right as the dealer is about to deal him in. Brent declines the card so I get it. It's a Jack. Next card I get... another Jack. Sweet. I raise and get 2 callers. I flop a set of Jacks and raise and re-raise as much as I can (which isn't a lot.) I take down what seems to be a monstrous pot, and after tipping and rake, I'm up a whopping $32 total after winning like 4 pots in 10 minutes. Right after that win, I get called up to $1/$2.

Session 4: Monte Carlo $1/$2 NL Hold ‘Em
I'm sitting to the left of Brent, and after about 15 minutes, Claire gets sat at the far end of our table. Curiously, there are 3 couples on this 10 person table.

Claire continues to have horrible luck. On one hand, some guy raises pre-flop in early position to $8. She re-raises to $25. The guy goes all-in for about $90. Claire calls. Claire flips over KK. Guy sighs and shows QQ. Flop... nothing. Turn Queen. :-( River. Nothing. Guy doubles up. About 10 minutes later, Claire decides to re-load for another $100. Immediately, she picks up another big hand. A loose aggressive player limps in, Claire raises to $10. Guy goes all-in for about $100 total. Claire calls. Claire has KK again. Guy has AA. She does *not* suck out a win. That $100 she had *just* reloaded... gone. Some time later, she flops a set to my flush. She makes a Q high flush to my A high flush, and loses pretty much every single way that you can lose with good hands. It's pretty ridiculous.

Meanwhile, I'm down to $30 from my $150 buy-in. I limp in for $2 with 67o from the Big Blind with damn near the whole table in. The flop comes 578 rainbow. That's about as good as I can hope for folks. I got a pair, and I'm open ended. I bet out $6. Loose-aggressive guy to my right raises to $15. Everyone start folding around until it gets to a guy in late position. He calls. I'm thinking... I got like $22 left. I go All-In. Loose-aggressive guy calls. Late position guy? He goes all-in for like $200. Great. He's got something huge. Guy to my left folds, and it's heads up all-in. I flop over the pair and the open ender. Guy flips over the nut straight: 69. Pfft. I'm pretty much drawing to a split. Turn comes 7. Trips. River comes a 5. WTF? Runner Runner Boat! Haha. I win! I looked this up. I was 2.42% to win that hand. Meanwhile, Claire's losing with monsters. Anyway, I drag the $90+ pot and proceed to turn that into $276.

One other thing to note about that table, the dealers were inconsistent. On one hand, I had KQs on the button and everyone was limping. I raised to $6 and got some callers. The flop comes all unders and the checking train starts. Check. Check. Check. Check. So I'm thinking... I'll take this down now... I'll bet $30. I go to put in my bet when the dealer starts to protest. I look to my right as I'm about to lay down my bet. Brent's betting. WTF? Brent's in this hand? And he's betting? OK, well, I'll just pull my money back and fold. Nope. Dealer's like. "You have to call or raise." I'm like "What? It wasn't my turn." He's like. Well, you were putting in $30 and he already put in $20. I protest, "But it wasn't even my turn when I put money in!" He sticks to his guns. I have to call or raise. Fine. I fucked up. I'll put in $20. Everyone else folds. Brent and I check it down. He's got JJ. I totally miss. Boo. But I'm OK with it.

About 10 minutes later. It's raised to $6 and I fold. I watch the action go around and the guy on the button throws in $11 across the betting line. I'm thinking... that's sorta weird. Why didn't he just throw out $12 or $10. Next thing I know the dealer is saying "Did you mean to raise?" The guy's like, "No, I meant to call." The dealer says, "He calls. Make it $6, sir." I was perplexed. I let the hand play out, and then I ask the dealer, "Why did he get to take back his bet pre-flop when he made a legal raise?" Dealer says, "Because he didn't mean to raise." And I say, "Aren't you the *same* dealer that made me put out $20 when I accidentally bet out of turn?" He's like, "Yeah, but that was different." And I'm like, "How's that different?! We both made legal bets!" His response? "Christmas spirit." I'm stunned. Are you fucking kidding me? Fuck that guy. I never tipped him again. I was very close to telling him that I couldn't wait until he was replaced by a machine (a la the electronic tables at Excalibur that NEVER made mistakes,) but I bit my tongue because I thought Claire was geting embarrassed at my protesting. Anyway, it's true. Within 5 years, live dealers will be the exception rather than the norm. And hopefully, only the *good* dealers will survive.

Session 5: Excalibur 50c/$1 NL Hold ‘Em
On our way back to our room... we wandered back into the Excalibur poker room and played a bit more. Nothing much went on here. It was a short 30 minute session. I made about $40.

I'm really starting to appreciate the electronic tables...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Vegas Day 7

"Vegas Day 7"

An even worse day than yesterday... I was down -$247.25 for the day.

I started out my day at Excalibur.

Session 1: Excalibur 50c/$1 NL Hold ‘Em
I’d been playing mostly $1/$2, and the one time I played 50c/$1 recently, I played like a maniac. It’s like if I was playing 5c/10c back home. I was playing a crazy number of hands and being super aggressive. I sat down this time and almost everyone was under $100. I max buy for $100 and proceed to do the same thing that I did last time that lost me money.

I’m a horrible maniac player. Every time I raise with bullshit, someone has a super strong hand. Every time I catch with my bullshit, nobody seems to have anything to pay me off. I played for about an hour before the cash tables started to disintegrate due to the crappy $30 tournament that was about to start. I convinced Sean to signup for the stupid tournament, and faced with a dying table, I joined him.

Session 2: Excalibur $30 Tourney NL Hold ‘Em
I think I talked Sean into playing the tournament by telling him how well my strategy of all in or fold worked that last time I played. I explained that it worked well enough that I thought you could actually win the tournament with it. Basically, when it gets to about the 5th round, the blinds get so high that it becomes incorrect to simply call or raise a small amount. So, you wait for a sorta decent Ace or any pair and push all in. Most of the time, people are too scared to get knocked out and fold. So you steal and steal until someone finally stands up to you. By the time this happens, you probably stole enough blinds to be able to afford a loss. And sometimes you even knock them out. The strategy isn’t perfect of course, but poker is a game about imperfect information.

I usually try to steal some pots early with decent starting hands to build up a small cushion. I did the same here, and it was working mostly fine. Then I took a small hit on some high cards that didn’t pan out and was just below the chip average when I got a hold of AA. I was in mid position. The blinds were $100/$200. I raised to $500 with about $1200 behind that. This is why you have to go all in or fold. I was committing almost 1/3 of my stack with a small raise. I hadn’t started my all in or fold strategy yet so I wanted to sucker one or two players in. The plan was to push all in on the flop no matter what. I did end up getting two callers: Some dude in little blind and Sean who was in the Big Blind. The flop comes whatever. Both check to me and I push all in. They fold. OK, so far so good.

So now I’m at $2700 with blinds at $100/$200. I look down and I see TT. Now on my path to all in or fold, I push. The lady to my left agonizes and calls. She’s actually a big stack. Great. Everyone else folds. She flips over KK. Bah. I miss and get knocked out. So my strategy ended up sucking, right? Wrong. Sean employed the exact same strategy and ended up chopping it 3-way. It was just a matter of good/bad timing. Oh, well. At least Sean got some money out of it.

Session 3: Excalibur 50c/$1 NL Hold ‘Em
I went back to the 50c/$1 table, and I went back to the loose-aggressive style. Again, not good! I couldn’t help myself. They were so meek! I kept topping off to $100, and before I knew it, I was in for $264. I won small hands and lost big ones, over and over. I didn’t adjust and subsequently ended up completely busting. I believe that this was just the 2nd time that I had completely busted since I’d gotten here.

I got up and made a bee line out of the casino. I had to get out of that poker room. I ended up at the Monte Carlo. In all my times in Vegas, I’d never been inside there. I wasn’t even sure if they had a poker room. They did.

Session 4: Monte Carlo $1/$2 NL Hold ‘Em
The poker room is OK. It’s a little tight and certainly not fancy, but it was OK. I really liked that they brought my cranberry juices in a huge glass. But it’s a rather bland poker room all around.

I sat down to a super old man. He must have been 90. He had that involuntary head shaking and bony hand thing going. Super nice guy though. I heard he was a regular of the room and a millionaire to boot. He was only one of two players with over $200. Everyone else was $150 or less. I like that in a table. I bought in for the max $200 and started analyzing the players.

They were a pretty meek bunch. I got a few decent hands early and took down a couple of pots with some continuation bets. Then about 30 minutes into the session, I got dealt AA in the small blind. There were five limpers, and I popped it to $12 hoping one of them would get brave. I got two callers, and the flop comes AKK! There’s no bad beat jackpot in this room, so I’m really not hoping someone was limping in with KK. But I know that in all likelihood, I probably have an unbeatable hand. I check. Someone checks behind me. The button gets brave and bets out $20. I call. I’m hoping I play it right and not call too quickly or too meekly. The other dude folds. The turn brings a harmless 7. The guy on the button checks before I get to act. Oops! He realizes he went out of turn, and he also realizes that I saw him try to check. I immediately bet out $20 in hopes he thinks I sensed weakness in his check, and that he thinks I’m full of shit on a steal attempt. It works I guess because he calls. River comes an 9. I bet out $60. I’m again hoping he’s sensing a steal. He folds. Boo. The rest of the table starts making comments and is convinced I stole it though. :-) Shortly after this hand, the table starts to dwindle. There is another $1/$2 game running, and we combine.

On this new table, there is a pretty aggressive guy on the far end of the table in seat 3. About 10 minutes after combining I pick up AQo in late position. I bet out $12 and Mr. Aggressive calls from the big blind. The flop comes Q84 rainbow. He checks. I bet $20. He calls. The turn comes a J. He checks. I bet out $20. He check-raises to $40. I stop to think for a moment, and call. I’m really not sure what he has... two pair? QJ? A min raise bluff? The river comes a 5. He leads out for $45. I call. He flips over J4o. Wonderful. He calls $12 pre-flop out of position with J4o and then calls $20 on the flop with bottom pair. What can I do about that? Pfft. Anyway, now I’m down to about $150.

The next 3 hours are the most grueling I can recall in a long time. A loooong string of *really* horrible hands. I honestly don’t know how I kept my sanity. Finally I pick up some big hands that connect. I get back up to a little over $200 and decide I’m going to quit the session now that I’m about even. Right before I decide to leave I pick up 89s (spades). I flop an open ender and turn the nut straight. Someone bets way too little on the flop and way too much on the turn once I’ve gotten there. I double his bet on turn from $20 to $40. He calls. On the river he checks, and I bet out $50. He makes a crying call. I flip over the nuts. He flips over two pair. Yay me! I get the fuck out of Dodge with $115 of profits.

Just in time too. Claire was just about to arrive! After Claire's arrival, I ended out the day with two short, uneventful 50c/$1 sessions at Excal.

Session 5: Excalibur 50c/$1 NL Hold ‘Em
Don’t recall much here. It was a pretty short session. I was up $31.50

Session 6: Excalibur 50c/$1 NL Hold ‘Em
Again, pretty uneventful. I played for 15 minutes and won $19.50.

So I started out shitty, but made up for some of it in the end. Still, this was the worst day by far.

Vegas Day 6

"Vegas Day 6"

Worst Day so far. I was down $48.50 today. It’s my only ‘down’ day of my trip so far. Hopefully ever. Someone pointed out to me that if my *worst* day is being down $48.50 that I’m doing really well. And that’s true. I’m still up over $1290 for my trip, but I really wanted to get to $2000 before Claire arrived. And that’s gonna be hard to do now.

One problem was that I got crap for sleep the night before. I just could NOT get to sleep. I finally fell asleep at like 10am, and woke up at 2pm to Sean and Brent texting me if I wanted to head to the Excal buffet.

In all my trips to Vegas, I’ve never once done a buffet. I’m just not into fancy food, and Claire could never eat enough to warrant a buffet’s $20 price tag. I decided, fuck it. So I got my tired ass out of bed, and headed down to the buffet.

I had been saving up my $4 Excal meal vouchers since I got here. I had more than enough to get the buffet for free so that was good. What wasn’t good was the long ass line to get a seat.

After spending about 30 mins in line, we finally got a seat. The place reminded me of a crappy Sirloin Stockade or Golden Corral buffet. It was nothing special. Well, that’s not true. The Mexican cuisine was something special. It was quite literally the absolute grossest looking Mexican food I’d ever seen in my life. I ended up having some fried chicken, some beef things with gravy, mashed potatoes, some chicken noodle soup and a salad. The salad was the best thing, and it wasn’t all that. Still, somehow I managed to eat too much. Yay.

Tired and bloated, we headed to the Excal poker room. As expected, there was no $1/$2 game running so I had to jump into a 50c/$1 game.

Session 1: Excalibur 50c/$1 NL Hold ‘Em
This table was so freakin’ tight it was ridiculous. The average pot size was $8. $8! A $5 raise was met with raised eyebrows and lots of comments. I was not used to playing 50c/$1 anymore. This was not a good thing.

About the 2nd hand in, I was in the Big Blind with K6o. I checked and flopped a pair of Kings on a board of K49 rainbow. Small blind bet $3, and I raised to $9. Every folded back to the small blind. He called. Turn card comes a 6. Sweet. He checks, and I bet $15. He calls. This guy only has like $17 left after the call. The river comes an A. He goes All-In. I course I call. Guy had rivered two higher pair. He was calling me down with a pair of 4’s until he spiked the Ace on the river. Lucky idiot. Alright. I see this is gonna be a long game.

I reload back up to $100. There’s now way I’m letting these guys off easy. They’re so meek that I start playing almost any two cards and playing very aggressively. And they call me down over and over with high pairs and beat me for $20-$40 pots. Which I guess makes sense because if they’re gonna wait for KK, they might as well go the distance with me. I’ve been raising tons.

I kept topping off to $100 waiting for the chance to catch one of the the bigger stacks. I finally got one. I’m in small blind with 46s (spades). Flop comes 3h 5c 7d rainbow! I check. Some guy bets $5. Guy in late position calls. I call. Turn comes a Jh. I check. Dude goes all in for $83! Sweet! Guy to my right thinks about it. I’m thinking... Call! Call! He folds. Boo. I call and announce that I flopped the nut straight. Guy has a 2h 5h. A pair of 5s and a flush draw. I dodge the flush with a river Kd. Now I’m in business!

In the 3 or so years we’ve been playing at Excal, I’ve never got to sping their “High Hand Wheel”. Basically if you’re at Excal and you get Aces full (with both hold cards) or better, you get to spin a wheel of fortune style wheel for some free cash. I’ve NEVER hit a qualyfing hand here. Can you believe that? They used to allow you to spin it if your pocket Aces got cracked. And I’d done that 3 times before. Yay. Anyway, I hit quad Q’s on this table, and FINALLY got to spin it! I won an extra $35. :-)

The only other memorable hand was when I had QQ and some guy in early position raised to $6.50. He at first was going to raise to $7.50, but took it back down to $6.50 for some reason. I raised to $15 with my Queens, and he immediately raised me to $40. I’m sitting there thinking... are you serious? I look at my Queens. I look at him. I say, “There’s no way that you are brave enough to do that to me without AA or KK. There’s just no way. I’m folding my Queens.” I fold and notice that the hand doesn’t end. I look up, and Brent had called my $15 bet! Oops! I apologized for talking about my hand. I really didn’t mean to. I had no idea there was another player in the hand. He was OK with it. He understood that it was an accident. Brent ended up calling, and the raiser started going on and on about how he couldn’t beat me. That I was too good. The thing is... I didn’t even know he was going after me. Haha. He shows KK. Brent shows AK. He’s still going on about how I folded my Queens. I mean, I didn’t think that was that hard of a fold. A meek player from early position raises, decides it’s a bit too much, reduces the raise, he gets re-raised by an aggressive player (me), and then all of a sudden he’s re-re-raising? Yeah, it’s not too hard to fold QQ there. But that just goes to show how bad these players are. I think that the folding of QQ was just common sense. He’s thinking I’m a genius. And he seemed sincere too. Anyway, his Kings hold up. Brent loses. :-(

With all the top-offs early on. I was in for $318.50 on this table. I actually got all the way to $319.00, but I played a top pair of Queens poorly and ended up down $92.50 for the session (including that $35 I won on the High Hand Wheel.) I probably could have made it back, but the table broke. Bah. My first losing session in a while. Oh, well.

I headed to the $1/$2 table.

Session 2: Excalibur $1/$2 NL Hold ‘em
As expected, this table last only about 2 hours... I made +$44 to sorta offset my earlier losses. Because I hadn’t slept much the night before, I was dead tired. We ate some cheap 25c wings for dinner at Dan Marino’s, and this time I slept like a log.

Tomorrow: Claire and Brian fly in to Vegas!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Vegas Day 5

"Vegas Day 5"

Best Day so far. I was up $507.50 today. It started rather late. My first session was at 5:00pm.

Session 1: Excalibur $1/$2 NL Hold ‘Em
Bought in for $300, and my logs say I was up $299.25. As best as I can remember this session, it was simply slow and steady. I can’t even tell you a big hand I won. I played fairly conservatively. That’s probably what’s keeping me going up slowly instead of swinging all over the place.

One cool thing about this session was that it was during Sunday Night Football. The poker room has a promotion where they give everyone sitting at a poker table a raffle ticket at the start of every quarter. And then at the end of each of the first three quarters they draw a ticket and give away $50. For every touchdown that gets scored, they’d draw for another $50. A field goal would result in a $25 draw. And at the end of the game, it was a $200 giveaway. As a bonus, for me anyway, the Cowboys were playing. Brent won $50 as the winner of the first drawing. And the Cowboys scored, they called my ticket and I won $50!

For those that watched the game, you know that there was a safety during the game. I guess they didn’t plan on that ever happening because they didn’t have a drawing lined up for a safety being scored. And if you didn’t watch the game... the Cowboys crushed the Giants: 20-8. :-)

After the game, we decided to have dinner at Margaritaville. We ordered some Volcano nachos, and they rocked! I knew the Nachos were huge and was considering just splitting that three ways as my meal, but Brent and Sean both ordered food, so I decided, fuck it, and ordered a bacon cheeseburger. The food was all great. Way too much of it, but it was still great. During our meal, a band started playing... just a cover band, you know. But man, they were really good! They started out with an Eagles song, and if wasn’t looking at them, I would have sworn it was the Eagles themselves.

After dinner, we decided to head downtown to Fremont Street so the guys could check out the Fremont light show and Binion’s. Binion’s is rich in poker history, and I think every half-serious poker player should play here at least once in their lives.

We got there about 30 minutes before the last light show for the night. Sean’s a big wuss when it comes to the cold, so he was making a beeline for the warmth of the casino and wasn’t too interested in the giant Xmas tree. We decided to kill some time playing some cheap table games. The nice thing about Fremont is that you can play stuff like $5 blackjack or $4 roulette all day long. And that’s exactly what we did.

Sean sat down and played some $5 blackjack. After about 15 minutes he was up $25 and cashed out. For the remainder of the time, Brent and I played $4 min roulette. I bought in for $100 and proceeded to get down to about $45 pretty quickly. With just a few minutes left until the last light show of the night, I was at $60. I put $20 on a 2 to 1 bet in hopes of just breaking even. I hit. I was happy to get out of there even!

The light show was not as Christmassy as expected. It was basically two chicks (and many cut/pasted clones of them) dressed up in costumes and shaking their money makers to some popular music. I’ve definitely seen better Fremont light shows, but it wasn’t bad. After the light show, we headed to the Binion’s poker room.

Session 2: Binion’s Horseshoe Casino $1/$2 NL Hold ‘Em
I made a beeline for the place where the poker room USED to be. Turns out that they still played poker there, but it looked weird. No wall of Poker Hall of Fame. No wall of WSOP winners. And it was almost completely empty. Like three tables out of maybe 20 were playing. Turns out that this area was Tourney poker only now. They had created a brand new cash game only poker room down the hall.

The new cash game room had about 8-10 tables. 4 of them were running. Sean, Brent and I were put all on the same table. I hate that. I immediately asked for a table change and got one about 3 hands later.

Binion’s is always full of locals. They love that place. And that always kinda makes me a bit uncomfortable. Not that they are better than any other players, but that they are super chummy with each other and the dealers.

I sit down to a short handed table. One big dude has a big chip stack in front of him. He’s got almost $1000 on the table. I start with $200. Immediately I saw this young Asian guy raising and this older dude re-raising to $50 preflop, and I’m like... great. They fire some more on the flop, but the board starts getting really ugly on the turn. They both slow down and Asian dude shows KK and the old dude shows AA for the win. Hmmm. Maybe they’re not crazy aggressive players?

Turns out I was right. They were extremely meek. We only played there for a bit under 2 hrs. Brent has busted out $200 fairly early and Sean was only a little bit up. I was up $91 myself. We decided to get out of there. I think we’re all starting to prefer the electronic tables at Excal to be honest.

We’re all falling asleep on the bus ride back. Dead tired. We step off the bus, head into Excal, and we look at each other... poker? Yeah!

Session 3: Excalibur $1/$2 NL Hold ‘Em
Luckily there’s a $1/$2 game running. A lot of the times there is no $1/$2 game, and we have to wait around to start one. Brent heads to 50c/$1, and Sean and I sit at $1/$2.

We play almost exactly 45mins before the game dies. Pfft. Lame. At least I’m up another $67.25. I’ll take it.

We throw around the idea of going to check out Mandalay Bay, but decide it’s probably not a good idea as it’s almost 5am and that games everywhere are pretty thin at that time of day.

So, it’s beddy bye time. Still, that was an all around kick-ass day. Good times.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Vegas Day 4

"Vegas Day 4"

Today was a pretty good day. My buddies Sean and Brent made it into town. They’ll be here the rest of time I’ll be here too. If you’d like to follow their twitter antics, you can follow them here:

I woke up today and for some inexplicable reason, I felt like playing in the $30 1pm tourney. I played in the $20 tourney the day before. And it was basically a luck fest. But while the $20 was an $18 + $2 tourney (The “house” gets $2 from every entry,) this was a $25 + $5 tourney... which is *worse*. The blind structure and starting chips are the same. But there I was... paying $30 to get in.

Session 1: Excalibur Tourney $30 buyin
I’ve always been an aggressive tournament player. That’s what probably makes me pretty successful at tournaments. With such a quick tournament structure, aggressiveness isn’t a style option, it’s a necessity. If you find yourself calling more than a small percentage of the time in fast tournaments, you’re probably doing it wrong. Outside of the blinds, I think I entered two pots that I didn’t raise.

This worked fairly well at the beginning. I stayed above the chip average (it’s nice to have stats available to you on the fly when you’re at an electronic table) through most of the early rounds. If I caught a decent Ace or a face card and another card that was sorta close (KT, QJ, K9s, Q8s etc.) I’d raise four to five times the BB. If they lead out, and I had missed, I’d fold. If they checked to me or I sensed any weakness, I’d make a 1/2 to full pot-sized bet. It worked really well until the blinds were so high that the only move that made sense was All-In.

So about the 4th or 5th round I became Mr. All-In. I wasn’t short stacked, but I saw no reason to raise anything less when the blinds were 600/1200 and people had like $4000-8000 chips. I had around $12000 and was the chip leader on a small table of about 6 players. We started with 4.5 tables and by this time we were already down to about 15 players on two tables with my table being the smaller table.

My table began to fear me. I stole blinds quite often, and when I did get a caller, they were up against my AT or my small pair. I knocked two people out and were down to the final 10 players. They told us to take a 10 minute break after which we’d come back to the final table.

I started watching an old Cowboy’s game in the sports betting room, and became a little too engrossed in “Emmitt’s Greatest Game.” I ended up rushing back to the poker room just in time for the game to resume. I looked at the chip stacks and saw that my $17k was good enough for 2nd biggest stack at the table. One guy had $18k and the rest were between $4k and $12k. To give you an idea of how short stacked you are in this tournament, every player started with $3k in chips and there were around 45 starting players. The blinds at the final table started at $800/$1600 and the biggest stack was only $18k to start. Not a lot of wiggle room. Every hand ended up with the winner being the new chip leader.

I decided that I wasn’t going to slow down and was going to continue putting people All-In. I want to amass a huge lead and pound the smaller stacks into submission. I wasn’t about to try to fold myself to 5th place so I can win $55. I put the smallest stack pretty early on and lost a coin flip. I was down to about $11k. I put in the next guy and lost another coin flip. Now I was a short stack. I was down to about $5k and in the $1600 big blind. I announced to the table, “Don’t even think about calling. If you’re coming in, you might as well put at least $5k in there because I’m not letting you see a $1600 flop.” They all got a kick out of that, and all but one guy obediently folded. Raising to $4k when I had $5k was stupid, but at least he raised. I looked down at QTo. I pushed. He called with a pair of eights in the hole. A coin flip! Better than I thought! Yeah, no. I lost. Oh, well. I played for 2 hrs, and it was pretty fun pushing those guys around for that long. 10th place.

My next session was another 50c/$1 cash game.

Session 2: Excalibur 50c/$1 NL Hold ‘Em
I only played in this session for about 30 mins before I got a seat a the $1/$2 game. Not much to say. I bought in for $100 and cashed out $122. Moving on…

Session 3: Excalibu $1/$2 NL Hold ‘Em
I’d been buying in for the table max of $300 at every Excal $1/$2 game and decided to go with that again because only one guy was at $300-ish. Everyone else was $150 or below. Just like I like it.

Like most sessions I’ve been playing. I start out by being pretty aggressive from the start. This allows me to feel out the table and if anything sets me up to look like a table bully... buying in for the table max and starting to raise everything out of the gate. If it works, I continue to go with it. I’ll raise with stuff as low as J8 from middle position and almost anything in late position. If I catch a lot of resistance and re-raises or check raises, I slow down and tighten up.

Well, at this game, I didn’t get a lot re-raising, I was getting a lot of callers. Way too many. The kind that just won’t fold. I tightened up pretty quick. It worked pretty well. I was up about $100 or so for most of the time.

The most memorable thing about this table was the talkative and getting-increasingly-drunk player at the opposite end of the table. He was doing well and playing loose-aggressive. He was also showing almost every hand too. He hated that me and another player never showed. His rationale was that he showed every hand, we should to. After yet another gripe about how the other dude didn’t show, I finally called him out on it. What did he want us to do? Show every hand because he wanted us to? He started to get belligerent and went off on how this was a low stakes and and it was ‘just cards’. And I agreed, it was ‘just cards’ so let us play however we wanted to. He go a little nasty, and I very nearly called the floor on him. He came off looking like a total douchebag to the table, and he knew it. But at least it worked, he finally shut up about it.

Inevitably, after a couple of hours, the game started to get short handed. I didn’t really wanted to be around Mr. Douchebag anymore, so I got up and took my $130 in profits with me.

By this time, Sean and Brent’s plane had come in. They had tickets to go see NIN at Planet Hollywood a few hours later, so we decided to have dinner at Rain Forest CafĂ© and head over to Planet Hollywood so they could see the show, and I’d kill time playing $1/$2 in their poker room.

Session 4: Planet Hollywood $1/$2 NL Hold ‘Em
I started this game with $200. The table max was $300. I’m not sure why I choose to buy in for less than table max at places other than Excal. Comfort level? A feeling of familiarity at Excal? Dunno.

The first thing I noticed is how pissed off and annoyed our dealer was. The table I got on was just starting. Our dealer was not happy to have been assigned this brand new table. It’s pretty common to come across dealers that complain about being overworked or on a 14 hour shift, but this guy wasn’t even attempting to hide it. That’s what I wanna see. This is why I love live poker with live dealer’s right? Electronic tables suck! I want real dealers like this guy... pfft. Luckily, after we all got our chips, another dealer showed up and relieved him before he dealt the first hand.

I started off aggressive again and met immediate resistance and re-raises from a guy at the far end. Plus, there were two Brit friends sitting next to each other that loved action. Before I knew it, I was down about $70 in about 20 mins. Tighten up time. I dunno if I’m contagious or what, but when I’m playing tight, my side of the table tends to tighten up. Either that or the loose players that sit next to me bust out, and I end up sitting next to tight players longer because, well, they last longer. In any case, my side of the table was running pretty cold. After about 2 hrs, Mr Bad Attitude dealer came back. Oh, no.

Still looking pretty grumpy, Mr. BA counted up the box, mumbled something to himself, took a deep breath put on the fakest smile ever, and started dealing. I’m was thinking... dude, if you’re gonna psyche yourself up and paint on a fake smile, do it BEFORE you get to the table. We all saw you.

Still down about $50, Mr. BA dealt me my first AA in a long time. There are two things that I’ve noticed about my Vegas trip so far. I’m not getting dealt AA very often, and my % for hitting sets on the flop is waaaay below the average. I’ve hit some full houses, but they’ve been with two unpaired hold cards. I think I’m due for a lot of sets pretty soon. Anyway, I got dealt AA and one a decent sized pot. Then the next round, I got dealt AA again. Both time I had them in the Small Blind and both times I took down decent pots. By the time Mr. BA left, I was up over $100. I forgive you Mr. BA. I forgive you.

Within 30 minutes, NIN let out. I cashed out up a bit over $150. Not bad.

By now Sean and Brent wanted to play poker. We decided to head back to Excal so they could check out the electronic poker tables. I gave Sean and Brent the tool of the room and introduced them to the poker room crew. They still have about 6-8 people running the room. Most of which I recognized from the old days. Anyway, after getting them situated, I was able to get into a $1/$2 game.

Session 5: Excalibur $1/$2 NL Hold ‘Em
This game was a tough one. In fact, all my $1/$2 games at Excal have been tough. It’s like the 50c/$1 game is equivalent to the $1/$2 games at other places, and the $1/$2 is like $2/$5. Which makes me wonder, why don’t I just play $1/$2 and make more at other places? Well, I know the answer, I keep winning at Excal. ;)

Anyway, this game was up and down for a while. I somehow managed to get to +$23.50 after a couple of hours and was happy to have it. Again, it was 4 handed before too long, and I got out of there.

I was up $400.50 for the day. My best day so far. Time to start Day 5 now. Until next time...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Vegas Day 3

"Vegas Day 3"

Well, this sucks. I'm at Krispy Kreme and they seemed to have locked the WiFi network today. WTF? I can see the connection, but I can't get an IP. Fucking lame. And that's cuz I bought a donut and a juice from them because I didn't want to just mooch off their connection. I don't even like KK donuts all that much. Anyway, I'm writing this into Notepad for now. I plan to find a WiFi connection later and cut/paste it into blogger.

Friday was an All-Excal day. I've been having enough success that I thought, "Why fuck with what's working?" I mean, I want to play in bigger games for more money, but I also kinda don't wanna lose, you know? The 50c/$1 game here is ridiculously easy. So why not build my bankroll a bit? I'm not looking to get rich, right?

Session 1: Excalibur 50c/$1 NL Hold 'Em
This session started early. 8am. There is only a single table of drunks and hardcore low-limit poker addicts left. They're playing a short handed game with about 5 people. I don't actually remember a whole lot about this session to be honest. It was short. 45 mins according to my logs. My logs also say that I was in for $200 which means I busted and rebought for the full amount. Sooo, I guess that's what happened. About the only thing I remember is that in this game was there was a huge Asian dude (like muscle huge) that looked more than a little mentally challenged, and he never said a word. Hmmm, now that I think about it more. HE was the one that busted me. Yeah, I remember now. I busted to him on a bluffed AK that whiffed to his flopped baby flush. The other dudes were calling him the Silent Assassin. He said not one single word in 45 mins. It's coming back to me now. On my 2nd buyin I raised with JTs (remember this is like 5 handed) and Mr. Assassin called me. This wasn't too surprising. He had been catching big cards, and in my opinion he was not a bad player. But his one fault was that he called big bets (like my AK bluff) with marginal hands (like his baby flush when there were 4 diamonds on the board by the river.) The flop came JT4. I bet out $25 and he called. Turn came a blank. I went all in for like $100 more and he called. He showed QJ. River was a blank, and was back in the black. I ended up with $275... up $75.

The reason this game broke up is because two of the five players left the game to play the $20 9am tourney. Yes, $20 tourney if you can believe that. With no cash game left, I decided, fuck it, I'd play in a $20 poker bingo game.

Session 2: Excalibur $20 NL Hold 'Em Tournament
This went about as well as you'd guess: horribly. You started with $3000 with $25/$50 blinds and 15 minute rounds. Yay. The only nice thing about this was that since we were playing on Electronic tables, you got a LOT more hands per round. We figured that playing 15 min blinds on the electronic tables equated to 20/25 minute blinds at a live dealer table. Also, the casino took less for the house because they didn't have to pay any dealers. Still, the blinds came up fast, and I found myself going All-In with QJs with less than 10 BB's left. I got called by QQ. Haha. Oh, well. I actually flopped two hearts, but the flush was not to be. I think I finished in the high 20's with 40 people registered.

I've been keeping a log of all my expenses... for food, shopping, entertainment and transportation. I *nearly* put down that $20 buyin as entertainment because I really didn't consider it poker. :-) In the end, I logged it as a hit to my poker roll though.

After the tourney, there were enough people wanting to start a cash game. So there I went, right back into a 50c/$1 game.

Session 3: Excalibur 50c/$1 NL Hold 'Em
This wasn't too exciting. I basically played for 4 hrs and made a little over $100. I ended up leaving this game because they announced that a $1/$2 game was starting. I moved to the new $1/$2 table, but it ended up just being 3 dudes just looking at each other for 10 minutes. The game didn't make. I intended to go grab lunch, but ended up going back to my room and sleeping for about 9 hours.

I headed back downstairs around 11pm. Lo and behold... a $1/$2 cash game at Excal!

Session 4: Excalibur $1/$2 NL Hold 'Em
I sat down to a nearly full table. Biggest stack was just a hair over the Maximum $300. I decided to just buyin for the Max amount myself. I played rather conservatively for the first hour or so when the table was full, but the game slowly started losing players. I mixed it up with the short handed table for a while and was up roughly $40 or so. Then about 2 hours in I caught my first big pocket pair: two black Kings. I was on the button, and the aggressive player to my right raised to $17. I didn't feel like adverstising the big pair in my hand, so I just smooth called him. The blinds folded, and it was heads up. The flop came a pretty uninteresting 973. I don't recall the suits, but they didn't come into play, so whatever. The guy leads out for $25. I immediately raise to $75, and he quickly goes All-In for about $100 on top of my $75. Now, I know what you're thinking: "He's got Aces! It's obvious!" Well, it was NOT obvious. If you had played with this guy for 2 hrs you would have quickly called too. But, yes, he had Aces. He doubled up, and I was down to about $140 bucks from my $300 buyin. I added back on to bring myself up to $300 again, but now I was in for $463.50.

I kept playing well, but the short handed table was not very easy. It was probably one of the hardest tables I'd played on actually. Two of the guys were intently talking about their online playing habits. How they play 12-14 tables at a time, Poker Tracker stats, etc. etc. Definitely not newbies. While I didn't feel like the fish at the table, I knew it was going to be rough making my money back. Everyone had between $200-$700 on the table. I just had to wait for someone to make a mistake and pounce. I battled my way back to $414. Then I took a string of 3 bad hits to the same guy.

This guy was the weakest player by far. He wasn't bad, but the other 4 of us were clearly better than him. In hand number one, I raised with QTs. He calls. I flop an open ender. He checks and I make a 1/2 sized pot bet. He calls. On the turn, I hit my straight. He seems really disinterested in the pot, so I make a small bet. He calls. River comes, and it puts a possible flush on the board. He leads out for about 1/5th the pot. Yay. I make a crying call. He's made his flush. Very next hand. I have 33. I call the $2 blinds and the it's three of us to the flop. I flop the first set I've seen all day. 783. Everyone including me checks. Turn comes an 8. Full House! I lead out for like $7. The pot was only like $6. One guy folds. My nemesis calls. River card: 8. Yes, ANOTHER 8. I'm not left with 8's full of 3's. He leads out for $10. Great. If the guy had flopped a 7, I'm done. I make another crying call. The guy's got Quad 8's. :-/ VERY next hand. I get AKo. I raise to $10. My nemesis calls me again. I flop top two: AK9. I bet $15. He calls. Turn comes a J. He checks, and I check. River brings a 3rd heart. He checks, and I bet $10 and say, "I guess you can pay me a little back with my flush now." He says, "You really have a flush?" then calls. "Cuz I have a straight. Queen Ten." Ugh. WTF.

I'm down to barely $300 again. After some time, I end up with 24s in the small blind. Aggressive guy to my right (the AA guy) raises to $6 and I call. I flop a pair of 4's and a flush draw. Guy bets out $15. I call. Turn comes a blank. The guy bets $15. I call again. River comes a 2 for two pair. The guy checks. I bet $25, and he calls. He had flopped a pair of Kings. There's some of my money back.

About 20 minutes later I have AKo. Same aggressive guy bets out $15. I call on the button. We're heads up. Flop comes A55. He bets out $25. I call. This guys does all my betting for me if you haven't noticed. The turn comes a 9. He bets $25, and I call again. River puts three hearts on the board. He checks. I mention that I made my flush and bet out $50. He's agonizing about a call. I started thinking, "Why the fuck did I say anything?" Too late. After a couple of minutes, he makes the call. I win. He says "I had pocket Kings." Whew. He owed me though.

In the end, I cashed out $443.50... down $20. Of all my sessions, that was probably my hardest one so far. The player skill level was pretty high. I really had adjust my play. But I never went on tilt, and I felt I played passively, aggressively, loosely and tightly at mostly the right times.

After this game, I figured I'd try the 50c/$1 game again.

Session 5: Excalibur 50c/$1 NL Hold 'Em
This was a quick session. 45 mins long. Only one memorable hand. Fairly early on, I had KQs (spades). I raised to $4 and got a couple of callers. The flop came Js Ts Kd. Not a bad flop, huh? Top pair, Queen kicker and an open ended straight flush draw! I led out for $12, and got a quick call from a dude with about $130. I had started with about $100 myself. The turn was a dud: 2h. I bet out $25, and the guy's like "Fuck it! I'm all-in!". So I start thinking, I'm either way ahead or behind but drawing to the nuts. I call. He's got J7 of clubs. WTF? I end up hitting a 4s on the river to make my flush, but I didn't need it. I doubled up to a bit over $200 and stayed there for the rest of this short session. What an idiot.

So after 2.5 days, I'm up $533.25. Not bad. Nothing earth shattering, but I'm having fun and making a little money. Nothing wrong with that, right? :-)

Until next time... I keep hearing them adverstise the 50c/$1 NL game over the loud speaker. I'm sure there are pleny of casual players waiting to buyin for $20 and $40 just wanting to hand it over to me with J7s. ;)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Vegas Days 1 & 2

"Vegas Days 1 & 2"

Yes, my first day was so full that it spilled over into two days. I woke up at 6am on Wednesday to work for 4 hrs before heading out to the airport. I didn't end up going to bed until 6pm on Thursday. Even then, I meant to only take a quick nap... and 11 hours later, I woke up. ;-) It's probably for the best. I needed the rest. I do kind of regret missing poker's 'primetime'... late evening.

Speaking of Poker... how was it for the first 36 hrs? Up and down, as expected. But mostly up. I had 4 sessions.

Session 1: Excalibur - 50c/$1 NL Hold 'Em
Yes, that's right. 50 CENTS - 1 dollar. Lowest limits in Vegas as far as I know. Why did I come all the way out to Vegas when I play in a 50c/$1 pot limit game on Wednesdays in Austin? Well, the answer is: I didn't. The Excalibur has some of the softest games in Vegas, and they used to have a $1/3 NL game. Then they switched to $1/2 about a year ago, and finally this passed August, the abandoned their traditional poker for all-electronic Poker Pro tables. While I wasn't too thrilled about the limit changing to 50c/$1, I was sorta interested to try these new electronic tables.

What I found was that the table was eerily quiet. Not much talking and very little action. The min/max is $20/$100. I expected people to be going all-in every hand with so little on the line. But nope, everyone was tighter than an Asian Catholic school girl. One of the nice things about playing on the electronic table was that you can see your stats for the game. I was seeing only 12% of the flops myself. I played for a little while, got up about $25 and then decided that rather than adjust to the tight play, I would go grab something to eat as I was starving by this point. Plus, I could revisit the game later. I'm here for 11 days after all.

Dinner: Hooters Casino
I ordered a Buffalo Chicken sandwich. I was so hungry that I asked for some fries as an appetizer just to get something on the table quickly. The food was OK. The sandwich was a little tough, but whatever. My hunger satiated, I walked across the street to the MGM to try some live $1/2.

Session 2: MGM Grand - $1/$2 NL Hold 'Em
Nothing special about this session. I'd played quite a few times at the MGM. While Claire used to prefer Excal (she hasn't played on the new Electronic tables yet), I tended to prefer MGM in our first Vegas visits. My last trip out here though, I did much better at Excal, but MGM was still my 2nd favorite place. The poker room at MGM is usually quite lively. I played for about 4 hrs and made a paltry 40 bucks, but at least I didn't lose. The most exciting thing that I saw here was while I was waiting for a seat.

I strolled by the $2/$5 table and saw a couple of people were All-In (at the MGM, when you're all-in, the dealer puts an All-In marker in front of you for the cameras to see.) One guy was in for about $400 and another guy was in for about $500+. The only reason there hadn't been a flop yet was because there was an old man standing in their way. I came in late, but from the looks of it, the swanky douchebag looking TypeA player to the old man's right had raised, the old man made a big re-raise for about $150, and next guy went all-in for $400ish. When it got back to swanky Douchbag, he went all-in as well. The old man was left thinking about the $1000+ in the pot... $150 of it being his own money. This is were I came in. Douchebag was showing everyone else but the old man his cards. I mean everyone. He was calling over people from off the table to show them his cards. He was being an annoying dick. He had Aces of course. The old man was a curmudgeonly old fuck. Somber and grizzled... about 110 years old. He was not pleased. With about $1500 in front if him, he called. Before anyone had flipped, I knew the 1st all-in guy had KK. I could tell by how annoyed he was seeing Douchebag flaunting AA around the table. But what could the old man have? AKs? QQ? Another pair of pocket Kings? Nope. 9To. Yes, Nine Ten offsuit. The old man flopped two pair, and the turn and river were blanks. Wow. The old man promptly raked in the giant pot and told the other two players to get off his damn lawn. The KK guy was pretty upset, but Douchebag took it rather well. I guess he was rich. Or maybe he wasn't such a Douchebag after all... Naw, I'm sure he was just rich. ;)

After the MGM session, I headed out down the strip. After walking for a short while, I came to Planet Hollywood. I strolled in started Session 3.

Session 3: Planet Hollywood - $1/$2.

I sat down to a full table. The only other tables running were for a 2am tournament that had just started. I got a couple of big hands early and took them down with aggressive betting. I started with $150 and got up to about $200. There were about 4 friends at the table. Young guys in the early to mid-20's. All Canadian. One guy looked almost exactly like Nick Papagiorgio (Ethan Embry's alter ego in Vegas Vacation). He was dressed up in a loud yellow loose fabric blazer with a dark T-shirt underneath. he even had the gold chain going. He must have dressed this way as a gag because all his friends were calling him "Papagiorgio" all night. They were a fun bunch. Papagiorgio and the older man on my left started playing prop bet games based on which cards hit the board. This was more entertaining than the hands I was getting dealt. I ended up staying until it got down to 6 handed. I was playing EXTREMELY tight, and they all definitely noticed. I used this to my advantage. I took down almost every single pot I entered with agressive betting. Even when I whiffed completely, they all had me on large pocket pairs. A couple of times I got them to fold made big pairs to my bets. In the end, I made a little over $100 in that session. Nothing too special.

After this, I started to get hungry. It was nearly 7am. I wanted a something cheap and quick. I found a scuzzy old McDonald's further up the strip.

Breakfast: McDonald's
I'm not a big fan of breakfast foods. But McDonald's only serves breakfast during the morning. This is extremely annoying. Whataburger rocks. Anyway, I ordered a chicken biscuit meal. I pulled out the chicken and pretended it was a giant chicken McNuggest. I ate the hash brown as a giant fry, but I had my orange juice as a just a regular sized orange juice. Cuz, you know, it was regular sized. I spread some strawberry jam on the biscuit halves as dessert. See? Who says you can't get lunch during breakfast time at McDonald's?

I strolled over further up the strip. I saw the Rio and though about walking that way, but it's hard to cross streets in Vegas. You have to plan it right to get to the overstreet walkways. I didn't, and by the time I realized it, it was just easier to just keep walking down the side of the strip I was on. I tried to find a game at the Paris hotel, but I couldn't find the poker room. They might not even have one. If they do, they don't advertise it very well. Then I walked into Harrah's. I did find their poker room, but it was very early in the morning and they just had one game: a $1/$2 NLHE short handed game with everyone having about $600-800 in front of them. No thanks.

A little further up the strip, I found the Venetian.

Session 3: The Venetian - $1/$2 NL Hold 'Em.
This was by far the worst session. I had to wait for seat, and after about a 5 person wait list, they started a new table. I started out with great hands, and went up over $200 pretty quickly (I started with $150.) Then the game filled up, and I made some bad plays. I got caught with Q9 hitting two pair against a flopped flush. And with AJs I flopped top pair Jacks Vs. QQ. Not good. I ended up dropping $250 there. It sucked. Rather than rebuy again, I decided to think about my mistakes and walk down the strip to cool off (literally and figuratively.)

I walked all the way back to Excalibur. I was pretty tired. It was already about 10am on Thursday. I'd been up over 30+ hours.

Session 4: Excalibur - 50c/$1 NL Hold 'Em.
There were a few reasons why I decided to play at Excal again. The biggest reason was that I was getting tired and my room was at the Excalibur. I didn't get a room Wednesday cuz I knew I wouldn't sleep that night. But I couldn't check into my room yet because Check-In time hadn't arrived. So I figured I'd kill time at the Excal poker tables. The other reason I decided to play at Excal next is because the limits are low and the amount I have to risk is lower. I figured I could just play for a while and try to make just some of my $250 loss from the Venetian. I ended up making much more than that!

I bought it for the Max of $100 and proceeded to crush the table. I started 5 handed because they had a tourney going on. As people busted, they'd take a seat, I'd crush them and they'd leave. Another tourney player would show up on tilt, I'd crush him and he'd leave. It was great. After a while, I built up to about $200 and people got scared of me. The game was still very very tight, but I had loosened way up and got really aggressive. It felt as if I could basically take down any pot I wanted. They were so meek. I purposely didn't play some hands and mixed stuff up with checks and folds, but everytime I got aggressive, I won. I checked my stats on the electronic table.. I was playing 45% of the hands! I never play that many hands. What was even weirder was that it shows how many rivers you saw and how many you won. I was at 8/8 wins at the showdown. People would call my raise preflop and then try to call me down with anything. As I was about to leave I got KK and raised to $10. A pretty big raise at 50c/$1. I got called by at a guy with just over $100. It flopped T high. He led out for $15. I raised to $50 with my Kings. He called! I was like... WTF. Don't you know who I am? ;-) Anyway, the turn comes garbage and he goes All-In. I have like $250 now, and he's all in for about $50. Of course I call. He's got KTo. haha. I'm up to like $460. With that win, I decide it's time to check into my room. So not only did I make up for that $250 loss, but I made another $100+ in profits. Whew.

I'm up now to about $300 in total profits.

After getting to my room and showering, I decided I was pretty hungry. I hadn't eaten since 7am, and it was almost 6pm. I laid down on the bed for just a bit, and woke up at 3am. ;-) It really felt like 15 mins. I don't remember dreaming or anything. I thought for sure the clock radio was wrong. But I checked by phone... yep, 3am.

I re-showered and talked to Claire for a bit, now I'm down by the Krispy Kreme donuts in the Excalibur. It's the only place to get free WiFi in here. ;-)

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Until next time...

-Rob in Vegas

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Vegas Day 0

"Vegas Day 0"

Well, here I am. The day before my Vegas trip, and my sleeping schedule is already jacked up due to poker. For the last couple of nights, I've been waking up at around 4am. All due to my marathon poker session that started on Saturday night.

By tomorrow evening, I'll be on Day 1 of 11 in Vegas. Everytime people ask me how long I'll be in Vegas, and I reply "11 days," they inevitably cringe. "That long?! You're going to get sick of it!" they scoff. They don't understand. They go for Cirque du Soleil and a little blackjack. I'm there for poker. A lot of it. In the last 25 days, I've logged 86.5 hours of *live* poker. That's 3.5 hours of poker every single day. Voluntarily. The only reason it was not more was because I had to work and spend time with family. Not that I don't enjoy time with my family. :-) But the point is that I played as much as possible, and it wasn't enough. So 11 dedicated poker days in Vegas? Yeah, trust me... not a problem.

Some people might say that I have a gambling problem. But I say it's only gambling if you lose. :). Sure, that sounds cocky, but I'm very confident that over the course of the trip, I will be profitable.

Stay tuned to this blog for at *least* once a day posts from Sin City. Track my progress here and on twitter.