Posts Tagged ‘Las Vegas’

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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A decent, winning session last night, but an odd one.  I am normally at my best when I’ve built a big stack (not necessarily when I bought in with it).  I am good at massaging it, growing it, leveraging it, not risking it.  But not last night.

I got up big really early on, thanks not only to my stellar poker ability but also to a nice run of cards.  But then I ended up giving up more than half of the winnings, some to suck outs, but a good deal to bad judgment and passive play.  And I think the problems started on a hand I won.

3/5 NL with about $2100 in front of me (peak of the night): I called a pre-flop raise from the BB with A7 suited.  The raiser is about as ABC as they get.  His continuation on a 9 high flop for 1/3 of the pot was very, very weak, and, playing very well at that point, I called with nothing, intending to take the pot from him later.  A 7 came on the turn and I decided that I was good.  I checked and he bet about 1/3 of the pot again, I elected to call (for what I perceived to be value).  I intended to bet the river, but a K put me in check/call mode.  However, he checked behind, and bitched and moaned about my three-outer.

Here was the issue: in my head I was thinking “dude, I was going to take the pot from you with or without the 7, you are weak, give it a rest, I used to play high stakes, I am cooler than you peons” and I think that is a fair assessment (well, maybe not the cooler part), and I think that’s exactly what would have happened.  Problem was, I must have been tired, because I then  felt this silly chess-pounding need to prove to myself that I could manipulate the table however I wanted, that I could take down a pot any time I wanted, and, of course, this led to some really poor calls on the flop, some ill-timed bluffs, and to getting myself into bad river situations.

I did still get up and leave with a decent win, but I do think ego cost me a good deal of money last night.

In Vegas next week.  Going for work, but methinks there is a good chance I might be seen at the Bellagio once or twice.

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Haven’t played in weeks.  I think I need the brain exercise.  I haven’t spoken with my wife all day today, all over a little spat in the morning.  I think that had I known I was going to play tonight, I’d have been motivated to end the spat earlier, keep her happy.

I also think we both need a Vegas trip.

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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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