Posts Tagged ‘Bellagio’

During the World Series, Strip rooms offer:

–Better games

–More comfortable chairs

–Better dealers

–Better service

…yet the big room at the Rio is always packed.



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Like any proper poker player I tend to remember those that suck out on me with ridiculous draws, while forgetting those (very rare) times that I happen to catch a long shot.  So I will remind myself about the hand below next time I get hit.  We were in Vegas last week, so, per the norm these days, scrounged together a bit of money to play with.

I have started and stopped a post several times recently on my latest complaint about not having a roll: your entire session really comes down to that first significant hand you get involved in.  Win, and suddenly you have a real stack and can play.  Lose, and you grind and grind and hope that one spot comes up.  And most of the time it doesn’t seem to, at least in my case lately.  The post was crap.  So I never finished.

But in THIS case I got lucky in that hand, and it enabled a nice trip with a decent profit.

2/5 NL at Bellagio.  I am the effective stack with about $550.  The villain in the hand was the table captain.  From this point on we’ll refer to him as, say, the table captain.

The table captain raises in EP.  A couple callers.  I re-raise with AA.  One caller, table captain calls.

Before the hand continues, a bit about the table history to that point.  I had been there for less than an hour, and had been forced into playing more hands than I like during that initial time, because somebody put a gun to my head and said “play more hand than you normally like.”  Plus, my cards were pretty good.  I originally bought in short ($300), lost half of it the first hand when I raised with AK and continued on the flop, only to have the table captain insta-push, apparently not overly intimidated by the $150 I had left in front of me.   First error: pre-flop he had asked me how much I had left, knowing exactly what he had in mind.  Rather than maintaining my standard stoic, unflappable posture, I decided to be funny and said “$300,000.”  He wasn’t impressed.

Next hand I double up against a weak player.  Went like that for a while, but in a net positive way.  I was starting to feel comfortable.

Meanwhile, I am paying attention to the table captain the whole time.  He’s got the biggest stack, and he’s not-so-subtly looking for all the weak spots at the table to push them around.  A little while later I rivered a nut flush that wasn’t as hidden as I suspected.  I checked in EP to two players including him.  They checked behind.  Like the true amateur I am I tapped the table, said “good check” or something to that effect.  He loudly said “I’M NOT A MORON!”

I think he was starting not to like me.

Now my stack was getting a little bigger and his a little smaller.  By the time the big hand came around I think he had both a.) accepted that I wasn’t a fish and b.) decided that he really, really, REALLY wanted to stack me.  And, in retrospect, I think he knew I knew that’s what he wanted.  More on that in a bit.

Returning to the hand: the flop comes a rather tame looking 9 6 3 rainbow.  He checks,  I continue with an overbet, trying to make it look like I am just continuing, because I know he’s looking to push me off the hand, and here’s where I’ll make my stand.  He calls.  Bingo!

Turn is a Q, no draw helped.  He thinks for a minute, and checks.  I bet.  He raises, but not all that much.  Now I stop to think.  Although not that clearly.  There is no obvious draw out there, and he is playing back at me.  Is he just getting ready to blow me off the hand?  Does he actually have something?  I dunno.  So I just call and decide to see how I feel at the end.

And the river is an absolutely gorgeous A.  Or did it matter?  Suddenly I am lost in my own hand, and get even more lost when he bets out.  Now: there was no way I wasn’t going to push in this spot, but I took my time trying to figure out if there was something I missed along the way.  Eventually I push, adding another $200 or so to a $1000 pot.   He starts bitching and moaning about my Hollywood act.  Shows a set of 6’s (appropriate).  Waits and waits.  I try and look like the 66 made me sick.  He calls.  I turn over the AA.  He bitches more.  Save the response to the 66 I was not acting, of course, but I was happy to have him think I was, as it got him even more flustered, and he lost the rest of his stack shortly thereafter (albeit not to me, unfortunately).  No doubt he had great things to say about me to his friends later on.

But here’s the thing I have to admit: he played me like a fiddle.  Not that the hand would have necessarily gone down differently, but I should have known.  Once I knew he accepted I was a decent player, I should have realized that he HAD to be strong there.  He KNEW I was itching to make a stand, he waited for the perfect spot, and he got it.  Unfortunately it didn’t work out as he planned it.  Pity.


Among the(poker)  highlights of the trip: met Tommy Angelo at the Rio on Thursday, and he took me on a tour around the World Series facilities.  Bumped into several authors whose books I have read in the process.  Increased the pain factor at not being able to play, but good times nonetheless.

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Some random thoughts and events since my last post for my legions of followers:

My Q1 run of play was certainly positive.  Unfortunately, all the MASSIVE profits quickly went toward bills and expenses, extinguishing my temporary roll.  I think I know this song.

I’ve played only one session in the last couple of months.  Was in Vegas for a trade show a few weeks ago, and scrounged enough money together for a 2/5 no limit session at Bellagio.  For what its worth: ‘scrounged’ is an excellent word choice here.  I remain undefeated in this particular game over the years, which, no matter how incredibly awesome a player I am, is a statistical improbability. It helped that when down to my last few hundred I flopped quad 8s, and got matched up against Aces full AND a guy intent on calling everybody no matter what.  Another statistical improbability.

Speaking of statistical improbabilities: why is it that while I played high stakes all of the statistical improbabilities I encountered seemed to benefit my opponents?

My wife suggests that we find a way to get me playing more.  Assuming I do, will I be able to cope with this kind of pressure?




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Its not just that I beat up on the 2/5 game at Bellagio the two nights I was there, and got to do my little stroll across the bridge late at night all happy like a couple of times.  I just love the whole thing.  I love the restaurants (Border Grill at Mandalay Bay is a great little find).  I love just walking around.  I love seeing the crazies waiting for an Insane Clown Posse concert at House of Blues.  I love eating at House of Blues.  I love walking around Luxor for no reason.  Etc.

But perhaps the best part of this trip, poker notwithstanding, was Thursday evening.  My last meeting ended around 4:00, my flight wasn’t until 9:00.  I decide I’ll relax in the Mandalay Sports Book.  Lots of open tables on the upper level.  I start thinking I could get the computer out and get a little work done.  I ask if its OK.  Waitress says yes.  No power outlets, except for a closed off section on the right.  Waitress says go ahead.  So there I sit for a few hours, getting through a bunch of emails, going through several Coronas, and watching the NBA finals (hitting a first half parlay in the process).  Very, very nice.  Here was my view:

I didn’t even mind the convention I was walking while I was there, ostensibly the real reason for my visit.

Ready for another run…looking for reasons.  Maybe I should try a WSOP qualifier.

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Having dinner at Mon Ami Gabi at Paris.  Sitting outside on the patio, across the street from Bellagio.  On about the third glass of wine, watching the Bellagio Fountains perform to Bocelli’s Con Te Patiro.


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Not much to report.  Ended up down because of a last afternoon session, just an hour at Bellagio before going to the airport, an hour that saw my sets losing to draws in two of three consecutive hands.  So it goes.

Before that I was never +/- more than a few hundred bucks, which was the plan.  Observations:

-Best Hand: 2/5 NL the first night, Bellagio.  Called a decent size re-raise behind two callers from the BB with 44 (questionable, but the first raise was a min raise by someone who’d been doing the same thing consistently).  Effective stacks about $400 – $500.  Flop was tame, something like 992.  Checked to the re-rasier, who overbet the pot.  Folded to me.  I looked at him and sensed weakness.  He did not look like he wanted to be called.  He had this tell–difficult to describe, sometimes players who are weak seem to sit with their mouths open while they slowly tilt their heads down, or make an effort to look away.  I know this because I used to do it myself.  In my head I’m thinking “OK, I may be right, but better to fold, be patient, wait for a better spot.”  Alas, my hands took control of my brain and pushed all my chips in.  When he called quickly, I thought I was dead, but as it turned out I was right, and two more blanks won me a big pot.  Table got a kick out of that one.

-Worst hands: the aforementioned sets.  Happened two other times during the trip as well.  In at least two of these spots I underbet (or didn’t raise) on draw-heavy flops.

-Crappy old habits: Quickly got up $500 during an afternoon session at Ceasars.  Rather than getting more aggressive or shutting it down altogether, I got loose and passive, calling moderate bets with moderate hands, and bled it all back.  Fear of losing one’s winnings often ends up causing the loss.

-The value of aggression: One night at Bellagio I played next to a pimp.  A genuine pimp.  They told me so when he left.  And he had two members of his stable sitting behind him.  I think they were Russian.  He wasn’t great, but he just bet and bet and bet big, lost his stack once, but eventually walked away a big winner after a relatively short period.  When a great player plays like that…unbeatable.

-The Bellagio – Ballys stroll is still all that.

-I really can play this game, if I put it all together.

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We are booked for two nights in Vegas next week.  Comped at Ballys.  My wife gets these offers.  I’m not sure why, as she doesn’t gamble all that much.  One time she got comped FIVE nights at Paris, with tickets to a concert.  They seem to be into the hispanic name.  Somebody should look into this.  Or maybe not.

Our last few trips have been five nights; this one will be a quick two, without the kids.  One night dedicated to culinary and alcoholic gluttony,with dinner at Mon Ami Gabi, the French steakhouse inside Paris.  Its probably not the BEST on the strip, but its our thing, has been for many years, EVERY time we go.

The other night will be poker, likely 2/5 no limit at Bellagio.  Will be my first session in abut six months.  The plan (hope) is to bring enough money to enable effective play, win a little, pay off the trip, and, ideally, continue to play occasionally at home with the leftover money.  Pay back what we took out, and end up with a small roll.


Either way, i am looking forward to being there, to walking the strip, eating in the Forum Shops, doing the whole thing.  We’re back in San Francisco after that, where the long, long vacation comes to an abrupt end on the 11th.

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