Thursday, July 10, 2008

Vegas Trip Report, Day 4+ THE WSOP!!!

Welcome back for the final edition of the trip report. I will try to fit the end of the trip in this space. Let's see how I do!

Day 4 was WSOP day, the reason that I was in Vegas. The $1500 PLO8, Event #43. The plan was to get to Rio @11ish, register, grab some lunch and a quick chair massage to get rid of the Day 1 jitters. Everything went well and I cabbed it over to th Rio, having missed the 11am shuttle. Called Predator from the cab to review the game plan and get a pep talk. Tight, aggressive. Don't be a wuss. Don't go passive and spew chips. Got it. Got registered and ended up at Amazon Blue, Table 27, Seat 2. I had been getting a lot of Seat 2 assignments so maybe that was a good omen.

Ran to the Poker Kitchen for Brunch. I'd finally managed to sleep in a bit in anticipation of the long day. Brunch was a Burger, fries, Diet Mt Dew, and a banana. Several people recommended the burgers, and they were right. Not a bad deal. Then I headed in and got a 5 minute "warm up" neck and shoulder massage. I was pretty tense as this was my first WSOP event. The rub down definitely helped get me to calm down and focus.

Got to my table with 10 mins to spare and did some rubbernecking. I saw John from PokerNews but he looked busy and I didn't bother him. Their media table was a row behind me. I watched people mill around and start sitting. No pros at my table when the cards went in the air, but there were a ton in spitting distance. Scott Clements, Gobboboy, Eric Sidel, Marco Traneillo were all at the adjacent tables, but no one at ours that I noticed. The guy in seat 3 started chatting me up and seemed nervous. He admitted it was his first event and had a few backers. I'd be nervous too. I had one person that asked to own 10% of my total trip, but I didn't have any specific backers for the tourney.

Then, the cards were in the air! I was officially in a WSOP event!

Got a bunch of nothing for the first 20 mins. I had one hand where the new guy to my left min-raised PF and I found AALL in the BB. I smooth called. Flop was 9 4 4. I bet out 250, he called. Turn was a J. I smelled a rat on the flop smooth call and check-folded the turn. He said "how did you know?" and showed me 99. The spidey sense definitely picked up on something and I'm glad I trusted the read.

The deck slaps Seat 3 square in the face for a bit. He's up from the initial 3k to about 7500. He's busted one guy in Seat 5. Then, the late arrivals start to show up.

There was one issue at our table. Seat 7 and 8 were empty but had chips to start. Blinds were being taken away for a bit, then they came in and picked up Seat 8. Finally, they picked up Seat 7 into the dealer's tray and loaded it up for a new buy-in. That's when we got our table Pro. DevilFish came and sat down in Seat 8 about 45 minutes into the tourney. Damn. Nothing like an Omaha expert. Bah!

A few minutes later Seat 7 shows up and he's got no chips. He bought in the day before and should have been blinding down. Now he gets a full stack back. Small thing, but still annoying. It is his BB when the floor goes off to "investigate" why he has no chips. The ruling in these events is that you can't post or play until your BB so he wants chips. DevilFish asks Seat 3 to loan him 1k so he can play until his chips arrive. The dealer tells us that will get him into trouble. He calls the floor. The floor says he has to wait for the chip issue to clear up and to skip him. Seat 7 gets pissed and gets up. By the time he's the button, his chips show up. He doesn't come back. Well, he didn't come back as long as I was there, which we shall see isn't much longer.

The hand that did me in came 30 minutes before the first break at the 1.5 hour mark. I find myself on the Button with AJ34, with suited hearts. This is a nice hand in position and I decide to limp with 4 in front, hoping for a big flop. I get what I need with a flop of J 7 2 with the 7 and 2 hearts. Checked to DevilFish who fires out 500. I smooth call and the others muck. This was mistake #1. I should have raised him out, but I want to scoop a big pot, not win a smaller pot. Turn is Qc. DevilFish bets out 1k. I count down and this leaves me with 875. I'm not going to be a wuss, right? Wrong! Maybe I was start struck versus DevilFish. I didn't think long enough about it or I would have come over the top here. Strike 2. River is Qd. Crap. My monster draw went down the toilet. DevilFish pushes all in and I stop and try to reconstruct the hand. What could he have that I could beat? I make error #3 in the hand and finally fold after thinking for a good 2 minutes. DevilFish shows a J and mucks. I say "Yeah, right. You had a Q to go with that". He claims KKJx. I start to think about it and realize that I just lost a pot that should have been mine. There's no way that he had AA or KK on that flop (I had the Ah). He's not going to bet out. My best guess is that he had a low draw, most likely he flopped 2 pair with a hand like A2Jx, or 23Jx. I had at least a chop and possibly a scoop. If I would have thought for 60 more seconds or asked him what he had to try to get some information, I think I would have called. Instead, I was weak and mucked.

Blinds hit me now and I get nothing playable. Check/fold in the BB. Call/fold in the SB. I get Ak23 double suited in the cutoff and call. Instead of pushing. Again. I don't think I have fold equity. Flop misses and I'm down to 225 at the break.

I leave and go kick myself for playing like a passive donk. I was fairly card dead except these two hands. I give myself a pep talk during the break and watch the 2-7 triple draw final table. 15 minutes later I'm back with a new attitude.

UTG I find A 3 5 J with the ace suited and push. 3 callers. Flop is Ks Js 8s. My ace is a spade. Finally! Now I'm up to 675. I can come back. The next hand I am in the BB. Seat 3 raises and DevilFish calls. Everyone mucks to me and I find AdKdAs7d. I push. Both call. Flop is Td 3d 5c. Seat 3 checks to DevilFish who pots. He folds. DevilFish turns over Ah 2c 7c Qs. He's got the nut low and backdoor flush draws. I'm in good shape to get up to over 1k. Until the turn brings a club. And the river. DevilFish scoops me and I'm out.

I don't want to dwell too much on the past, I have learned my lesson. I didn't have my head on right or I would have made the call earlier and not ended up so short stacked. But that's why we play, to learn and grow. Hopefully this is a growing experience and I plan to return next year. I might play in the LO8 vs the PLO8 as the structure was a little fast. If you didn't move much by the first break you were in trouble as you came back to 150/300 blinds. With a 3000 starting stack, you need to move early or you will be in trouble.

I learn that there have been 100ish players busting every hour from the original 720 that started. So looks like I probably made the top 450-500. At least I wasn't out in the first 10 minutes.

So I'm out and owe Bleu a C-note. Bastid. Prior to the break I did go look him up and he had a nasty seat. He was in Seat 9. Seat 1 was Joe Hachem. Seat 2 was Gavin Smith. Yikes. Good luck raising your button or CO there. Gavin was playing his normal run-over-the-table game and had a nice stack. Bleu was sitting on 5kish. I told him I was in big trouble and he smiled.

I go over and check out the side game action. There's an interest list for 10/20 O8 so I get on it, hoping it will fill with players that are busting out. Meanwhile, there is a seat open in 5/10 LHE so I take it. I mix up my play between TAG and LAG and it pays off when I get A3 suited in the BB. Player 2 to my left raises and 2 call to me. I call. Flop is 3 3 7. I check my set and the raiser bets again. One caller to me and I call, hoping to get maximum value. Turn is the case 3 and I check. Raiser bets again, folds to me. I call. River is a J. I check again hoping that he puts me on a middle pair. He bets and I'm able to check raise and get that last bet. It was dicey checking to hope to get that final bet, and some would say to bet out on the end. By checking I was able to get $10 more out of him. I show the trey and he mucks. He claims a middle pair. Hope it wasn't 7s or else I got lucky :)

A few orbits later they start the O8 game. They were only waiting on a dealer. I go and mark a seat but come back until the table fills. I only get 3 more hands in and the O8 game is ready to go. I pick up and move, up a little.

The game is typical for a tourney bust-out game. People are cautious, trying to not make the mistakes that they did in the tourney. Being Limit vs Pot-Limit, there are a few more loose players. I'm holding my own when 2 guys get up for dinner. Bleu comes over and announces that he just busted as well. Same type of hand that I had vs DevilFish, but he came over the top on the flop and missed. Sucks to be him but I give him his $100 last longer. He's on the LO8 list but they can't seem to fill seats in our game. We are the game that the floor has forgotten. They change decks and the cards are warped, badly. We ask for a setup change. No luck. Dealer #2 comes in and immediately flips one of my hole cards. I ask for a setup change again. Nothing. 3 hands later she flips ANOTHER one of my cards and I ask her to call the floor over. We finally get a new setup after the guy to my right threatens to start tearing up cards.

There's 3 ahead of Bleu but they still aren't calling off the list. The dealer finally tells him to just go get chips as we have been 6-handed for about 30 minutes, since Seat 1 took a dinner break. The seat to my left is open and I debate taking it so that Bleu can't have position on me. I decide not to be an ass and it comes back to bite me. Bleu gets in the game and the deck doesn't just slap him, it pounds him. There's a 73 year old Navy man in Seat 2 that looks like Popeye. He's a riot, telling stories and mixing it up with Bleu and myself. I decide to turn up the gambool and straddle. Bleu blind raises. People give us the "hey, this isn't 3/6, what the hell you two doing?" speech. The next dealer is one from the Venetian on Day 3 and looks at me and says "Uh oh, you're starting again?". We of course Straddle/Blind Raise again right away and he laughs. Too bad the money flows to Bleu for the next 2 hours. He starts selling chips from his pyramid to other new players as they sit as we can't get a chip runner (remember, we are the table that the floor has forgotten). He's up about $1200 in 2 hours. I'm kicking myself for not taking that seat.

Finally, the guy to Bleu's left gets up and I change seats, hoping to change my luck. I'm stuck about $550. Finally, the luck swings. I find A3JK in the BB right after I scoop a kill pot UTG with a good hand (but don't remember the specific hand). Popeye is in as well as 4 others back to me. I say "what the hell!" and raise. It scares out no one, Bleu included. Flop is 3 3 7. Again. I can't believe it. Maybe I can hit my quads again! Bleu checks out of the SB and I fire out $15 (it was a 1/2 kill game, not a full kill). Popeye Raises! He's my hero! 2 others call and Bleu mucks. I call and hold up my hand so Bleu can see and say "I don't know what I want on the turn" and BOOOM...there's the 3. I'm happy that Bleu kept his poker face instead of laughing his ass off. I bet it again. Popeye RAISES AGAIN! I love this man! One caller back to me and I decide to see how far this will go and raise. Popeye and the other just call. River is a 9. Now is the time to give you Popeye's tell. It was balls-on accurate. He would always announce his hand by saying what he was putting YOU on. When the 9 came he said "I bet that 9 hit you and filled you up, but I'm going to raise you anyway when you bet." He'd done this at least 3 times previously and shown the hand that he said that "he bet you had". I know he's got 99xx. So I bet. Sure enough here he comes with his raise. Other caller finally bows out, I'm guessing he was on the nut low draw with no backup. I raise. Popeye calls and I show him my 3. He shows 99A2 for a busted low draw. I love the low-draw only raisers and scoop a HUGE pot.

Next kill I win again, but it is only $120ish. I post a 3rd kill in a row and count up what I have. I've just had a swing of almost $1k in 3 hands and now I'm up 350ish. Ask Bleu if he wants to take a dinner break and tell him I'm not going to push my luck and I'm picking up on my BB. He says he's done too and we pick up on his BB. Popeye was a great guy and came over to shake our hands and wish us luck. He made the table a fun experience.

I get a $10 comp from the floor and we head to Bleu's favorite place at the Rio, the Sports Deli. He claims they have great burgers. I waffle as I had one for lunch but finally cave. It's much better than the poker kitchen's. It's huge. I can't finish mine. Bleu's GF calls and asks if he's coming home anytime soon. He says he still wants to play poker. She must ask if he's retarded since I hear him say "no honey, I'm not retarded!". I realize what she's asking for and give Bleu a hard time on the way to the car. On the way back to the strip he realizes that he's not retarded and drops me at the Mirage, one of the few rooms I have yet to play. He's off for a booty call and I head in.

There's not much action, even though it is pretty early (it was just after midnight when I arrived). I see that there are 2 different 5/10 O8 tables going and one has open seats. I ask if it is a must-move and the floor says yes. I decide to sit anyway. There are 2 other open seats. This game was really rocky for about an hour while players moved to the main game. Finally we get down to 4-handed. One is an old guy that sits out saying "only the house wins in a short-handed game!" We ask for a rake reduction and the floor grants a maximum $1 rake from each pot. Not too shabby so we continue 3-handed. I'm next on the list to move to the main game and the 3 of us are all under 40 and start talking. Turns out the other 2 are 2+2ers that post a bit on the O8 forum. One, who will forever be known as "final table Ted" or FTT is sheepish when his buddy tells me that he made the FT of the Binion's PLO8 on Day 2. He acts embarrassed about it and doesn't want his buddy telling people "Because it was only Binion's!". I'm at a loss. A FT is a FT. I'd be damn happy. Oh well, they are drinking. We decide to get a bit loosey-goosey and I end up down just $26 when they call me for the main game. I decide that it is time to go instead and give up my seat to the other two. I head back to crash prior to Day 5. I have a red-eye flight so I plan to play a bit before heading back to the grind of real life.

Wake up on Day 5 at 10:30ish and Ralph is ready to try out the Treasure Island room. He's heard good things about it from one of the forums he reads so we head over. The poker room was nice, but TI was a bit of a disappointment for several reasons. #1, it was not quite 11am. The poker tourney started at 11am and happened to be a bounty. $125 buy in with $50 bounties on every player. Not a bad deal. We hadn't had breakfast, so we headed to the deli near the Sportsbook. It is closed. It has breakfast items on the menu. Strange. We ask at the cage near there if there is anything open with breakfast food. They point us to the buffet or donuts in the coffee shop. The buffet is too long, we just need a quick bite as we have 15 mins prior to the tourney start. neither one of us want donuts. She points out that it is a 5 min walk to the food court at the Fashion Mall across the street so off we go. I get a KFC chicken biscuit, Ralph opts for an eggs and hash browns from the cheesesteak place. We wolf it down and head back 15 minutes late for the tourney.

Within 20 minutes I have 2 bounties. The deck is finally cooperating with me and I have built up to about 5.5k from the original 2k starting chips. I would have had more, but both bounties were shorties when I got to them. I take out a 3rd and now I'm sitting on $25 profit. Things are going well. Ralph busts after he is crippled in a 3-way pot with a nut flush draw that misses. He heads to the Sports Book to watch the Germany Soccer game that he put a bet on. I get up to about 14k by the first break.

Coming back from the first break we find reason #2 that the TI sucks. Apparently, they have decided to drill for oil or something in the hallway right outside the poker room. I ask the dealer (who is only 2 seats away) what they are doing on 3 separate occasions and can't hear his answer. All I hear him say is "they say they are using the muffled jackhammers!" and the rest is lost in the noise. I'm getting a headache quickly and don't have my mp3 player to at least try to cut out some of the noise.

Back from the break and I take a hit with TT vs AK all in. Would have been bounty #4 and put me over 20k. He flops his A and I can't improve on my 2-outer. I battle back to 12k when they break down to just 2 tables. The guy who busted Ralph comes into the 4 seat and I'm in 9 (we are 10-handed). He is UTG and min-raises to 1600 with 400/800 blinds and a 100 ante. Ralph tells me he's been playing junky hands and getting lucky. 2 callers to me and I look to find AA. I think for a bit and push. He whines about "what? this is my first hand!!" finally he calls. Folded to me and I say "you're in bad shape" and show my AA. He has AQ offsuit. I'm very happy with the flop of K T T. The 9 on the turn is a bit troublesome. And the J on the river just plain sucks donkey balls. He counts down and I find myself with 1800 instead of 25k+. Crap. That's what I get for telling him he's in bad shape. DAMN YOU POKER GODS!!!

Next hand I have QsTs in the CO and push to win the pot, knowing that I have no fold equity, as there were 2 limpers in front adn the bounty is $50. Button calls as does AQ boy. Flop is A 9 4. AQ checks, others check to the button. He pushes all in to isolate (thanks for the protection now, you tool). AQ whines and folds. Others fold and I say "I'm in bad shape" until I see his 9 6 off. Wow. I have 6 live outs. Too bad none make it, and I'm out. I cash in my $150.

Ralph is playing a 1/2 limit game. I tell him I can't stay with the jackhammer going off 10 feet away and he agrees. He picks up and we over to the Sushi place in TI (which I have heard great things about) only to find it closed. Strike 3 for TI. At 1:30. I guess they don't serve lunch. We decide to hit the food court again for lunch and decide what to do. I finally decide that the AA cracked is an omen and I'm going to nap, then get up and hit some small NLHE games at the IP or nearby. Ralph heads back to Mandalay Bay and I get some shuteye. I get up an hour later and wander the IP for a bit. I get on the 1/2 NLHE list but the games aren't giving up many players. An hour later I go wandering. I finally give up and head up to the room to pack. I grab a cab at 9pm for my 11:30 flight and head home to civilization.

I count down my BR after the cab ride and dinner at the airport and realize that after expenses and without the WSOP buy in, I would have left Vegas +300. Instead, I'm -1.2k. But the WSOP was my reason for going, so I'm not upset. I was able to play (mostly) great poker, with just a few mistakes that I've learned from. I got some great experience that I can build on next year.

That's right, I'll be back for at least one WSOP event in 2009. Beware, Vegas. Meanwhile, I'll be online or at the Argosy near Cincinnati, OH. I'll cya at the tables.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Vegas Trip Report, Day 3

Hello dear readers. Thanks for popping in to see what's new.

When last we left, I was doing very well in Vegas. I was up in cash games and doing decently in the SnGs for tourney chips at the WSOP. My goal was to play in the WSOP Event #43, $1500 PLO8 buy in event. Thus far I had $1k in tourney chips and more than enough to cover the rest from cash game winnings. I kept expecting variance to hit, and today was the day.

After Virge dropped me off on Sunday night (Day 2) he headed over to watch Bleu playing some 30/60 O8 at the Bellagio. When I woke up on Monday (finally after 9am. Must have been the good food) I sent Bleu a text to see if he was up. Much to my surprise, he was still up and at the Bellagio playing. The 30/60 game. All night. We were planning to get to Virge's around 7pm but he wanted to try to do a lunch instead. Seeing as the boys in Henderson are night owls, I was sure we wouldn't know anything until closer to noon, and then only if we could wake someone up.

In the meantime, I headed over to Bellagio to rail Bleu. He was doing well and had a winning session versus Paul Darden over the wee hours of the morning. When I got there it was a bunch of older gentlemen filling the game with Bleu, so I watched. Meanwhile, I got on the 2/5 list. I haven't ever had good luck at the Bellagio, but I was hoping to change that. Bleu was doing well, holding even while I watched. We tried calling and texting Virge and Lusky, but no such luck. Meanwhile, they called me for the 2/5 game and off I went.

I sat with a full $500 buy in and watched the action for a few orbits. The two players to my right were being frisky with each other and pushing more that I would expect. I was waiting for the right hand to limp/call and then come over the top and isolate versus one or the other. Meanwhile Blue came over and said he just raked 4-5 pots in a row, all kills. Noyce. I waited and waited, finally got up and went over to chat with Bleu about the action and how I was card dead. Still no response from the Henderson crowd. I told Bleu that I was going to stack one of the young agros, I was just waiting for my spot.

I found myself on the button with KK. UTG+1 player, a blonde that was trying hard to fall out of her top and distract others (which was working on the guy to her left) opened for $20. The googly-eyed guy to her left called. Fold fold. One aggro called. The next aggro called. I decide that they might all be playing A-x and have each others outs so I raise to $100. Folded back to blondie who thinks for a bit, then pushes. I was trying hard to get a read on her, but she was just being her bubbly self. Everyone folded back to me which made me think for a few minutes. She could have AA. She could have KK-TT (she had pushed earlier with TT PF in EP). She could have AK, AQ, or AJ and think that I was trying a position steal. With the callers behind her, I thought for sure I was good against her range and I called. She of course tables AA and my first $500 is gone. Whoops.

I rebuy for $200 and build a bit, getting up to $325. I get involved with aggro #1 with AT suited in position and we build a $100ish pot PF. Flop is all low cards, no spades. He bets out $40 and I think for a bit and finally call. Turn is another blank and he again bets out a little less than half the pot. I have to put him on a pair and muck. Down to under $200 now so I pull out $300 to fill up. Nothing, card dead. Nothing, card dead. Sigh. I decide that I'm going to pick up on my next Big Blind. I find AsKs UTG +1 and raise to $20. 3 callers. Flop is K 4 T, rainbow. Aggro-boy #1 is in the SB and bets out $40 again. I think I might finally have a shot at his stack, so I smooth-call. 1 caller behind. Turn is a beautiful K. SB bets $100. I min-raise $100 more. Folded to aggro. He thinks for about a minute and then pushes. In hindsight, I should know that he's got to have TT or 44, but I'm blinded by my top set. I don't even hesitate and beat him into the pot. Sure enough, he's got 44 and I can't hit a T or K. Down $1k, I decide that the Bellagio is cursed for me and get up. Such is life. Looking back now, I realize that I could have mucked the AK after the over-the-top raise, but I really didn't think he'd be playing bottom set that way. He had been playing a lot of hands (2 pairs, str8 draws) the same way, so I did fall into his nicely laid trap. Sometimes you just have to admit you were outplayed. His maniac image did well for him and I fell right in.

Went back to check on Bleu and he was well up. I called Ralph and he was over at Bally's playing a low-limit game again. Finally convinced Bleu that we needed to head out to Henderson before he falls asleep and he tried calling Lusky. Finally got someone out of bed around noonish. Ralph walked over to Bellagio and off we went.

On the way I asked where we were going to stop. I had mentioned that for a few hours to pick over these boy's brains I'd be willing to spring for some nice steaks and grill out. Bleu said he knew there was a Whole Foods near their place in Henderson, so off we went. I would have prefered someplace less "organic" (read PRICEY), but Bleu was the driver. I think I got rolled :)

We get out to Whole Foods and it's exactly what I thought. $0.69 per ear of sweet corn? Dear Lord, did the Pope bless the field? I'm more of a 10 for $2 guy! Their meats all did look good and weren't too far off what I'd expect to pay in the desert. Bleu wanted hot dogs for some reason so we picked up a pack (for $5) and buns (for $4). Sheesh. Walking back to the Bakery for some dessert and we have our first out-of-the-casino Pro sighting. There's Phil Gordon, strolling through the Bakery. He's a lot taller and thinner than I expected, and his eyes are totally bloodshot. I give him "the nod" and he stares at me like I just check-raised his grandmother. No nod back. No acknowledgment at all. What the hell Phil? You've stacked me twice with suckouts in Bad Beat on Cancer events and I can't even get a nod? Granted, he was pry tired as hell from playing cash games all night, but give a guy a break!

We finish off the shopping trip with a strawberry shortcake and 4 huge cookies and head over to Virge and Lusky's place. Good thing we woke Lusky up, as Bleu hadn't been out there before and didn't know the address. We get there right about 1pm and fire up the grill.

Bleu pulls down SS2 to read what Matusow says about O8 tourneys as he plans to play the PLO8 event tomorrow as well. We decide on a $100 last longer while he's curled up on the couch, looking like he's read to fall asleep any minute. He's been up for 26 hours, so who can blame the guy? We get the corn and potatoes going (little nuke help on the potatoes) and Lusky shows me a few things he tracks while playing online. We have steaks for me, Ralph, Bleu, Virge, Compton, Lusky and Lusky's GF. The GF never makes it out of bed as she's not feeling well, but Lusky did take her up a plate. Maybe he just ate it himself, we will never know. Compton finally gets his lazy ass out of bed and claims that he "doesn't really like steak" and "especially not for breakfast". Damn Canadians. Eat some red meat you Frenchy! :-D

Bleu asks if anyone is going to eat Compton's steak. After eating his and 2 hot dogs. We all hum and haw while he goes out and grabs it off the table in the back. By the time I finish my first steak he's packed away the second. That boy can EAT. They were all 16oz+ so he was slowly falling into a food coma. Virge ran up to vacuum his bedroom and make it presentable and I got online for the first time in a few days and made some posts on the forum and 2+2 about my week so far. Virge calls us up to see his setup and we talk poker for a bit. Bleu starts to think that their couch looks like a nice place to crash, and Ralph is itching for some action. I would have liked to stay around to pick some brains for a while longer, but I have their AIM info as well as cell phones and I decide to head back to the strip with Ralph. Bleu will drop us off before heading home to crash and sleep through to the PLO8 tourney. I debated asking him to drop Ralph and staying in Henderson for a while, but finally decided that would be asking a bit much from Bleu, and headed back. We dropped Ralph at Mandalay Bay and I went back up to nap prior to the evening festivities. Was a good time in Henderson and I definitely need to spend some more time there and learn from the pros. Thanks again, guys!

I wake from my food coma around 6pm and check in with Ralph. He's not happy down at the Luxor and we decide that I'll scope out the Venetian to see what is going on there. We have heard that they have a nice O8 game that goes every night. When I get there the O8 list is 10 deep so I get on 2/5. I tell Ralph that it's a go and he arrives a bit later and gets on the O8 list. Meanwhile, they start a new 2/5 NLHE game and I'm itching to make some back after the morning losses. I get one whole orbit in again and get called for O8. I sense a pattern. I get up and move into a very tight and mopey 4/8 LO8 game and decide to gambool a bit and see if I can wake these people up.

Boy did that ever work. I straddle the second time I am able and get a few looks. The guy across the table from me just got back from a tour in Iraq and has been hitting everything. He gives me the look and I say "I straddle to change my luck. Let's see if it works!" He laughs and calls. The game starts to change complexion and loosen up a bit. I manage to win a few and get up when pandemonium breaks loose. There's a few folks in the game from PokerNews that are in town covering the WSOP. One is starting to tilt a bit with the new action and is down to his last $30. I'm UTG and straddle again. The guy to my left blind raises and it continues until we cap at $24 PF. The tilting buddy is next and cold-calls the $24 before the cards are even out of the shuffling machine. We have a $200ish pot PF. Who's not gonna see this one to the end? People are starting to laugh and yell. The poker room thinks we are nuts. The list for the game starts to fill up. The dealers are telling us they have never seen this much action in an Omaha game. We start having a good time for the next 2 hours or so. Then, another PokerNews writer sits 2 to my left and becomes a wet blanket. People are starting to realize that they are losing and start to clam up. Ah well, it was fun while it lasted. I was up and down quite a bit and moved seats after the Iraq vet left to see if he had a lucky seat. No such luck, I finally call it quits 5.5 hours in and realize I lost about $240 in a 4/8 game. But I wanted to gambool it up and get out some pre-WSOP jitters. I think it was well worth it as I had fun and got to meet some neat people. I also think I got all the gambool out of my system so I could tighten up and play solid for Day 4.

Next up - Day 4. The WSOP. And my encounter with the DevilFish. Look for it in a few days.

Meanwhile, I'll cya at the tables.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Vegas Trip Report, Day 2

Welcome back dear readers. Let's move the story along, shall we?

When last we left, I had a fairly good Day 1 in Vegas, with $1000 of the $1500 in tourney chips I wanted to use to buy into Event #43 (which would occur on Day 4, for those wondering when we will get there).

Day 2 again started early. Even with getting to bed later, I couldn't sleep. I was up by 8am, showered, and off to McDs for a quick breakfast. Then over to Caesar's to check out the action. I arrived at 9:10 and realized that I missed the $70 9am tourney so I asked where there were open seats. One open in the 2/5NLHE game so in I go. A few hands in they announce that there's still seats available in the 9am. I didn't think to ask. Damn internet poker, I forgot that you can usually buy in live for the first 2 levels. I had played one hand and was down $15, but cashed out and got into the tourney.

I was lucky in that the stack I sat at had only seen one Big Blind prior to my arrival. I guess there were a few slow players there, but so much the better. I built up a little bit, but never got anything big going. Just prior to the first break at 10am I badly misplayed KQ from out of position and ended up all in versus AQ. I went with my gut that said he had a medium pair instead of my head that said "Whoa! Slow down! He might have AQ here!". I bet into him on every street on the Q-6-6 flop and then pushed on the river thinking he would lay down anything other than a full house. I was wrong, and I was out. There I go, trying to play level 2 or 3 poker in a small buy in game. Sigh.

By that time Ralph was up and he wanted to head to the south end of the strip and play some poker at Luxor or Mandalay Bay. We were planning to hit Binion's by 4pm for the PLO8 $160 buy in, so I was okay with a few hours and then a nap. We got to Luxor and there wasn't much action at 10:30, so we walked over to the Bay. They had a 2/4 NLHE game going as well as a few limit games. Ralph hit limit, and I sat at the CRAZIEST NL game I've been in for the last few years. It played like a dime/quarter home game. The 4th hand I was there UTG straddled for 8. I was in MP and decided to fold my J6 as there was a new player to my right that cold called. Three other callers back around to Mr. Straddle. He pops it to $100. Guy to my right calls. Guy 2 to my left folds. Then things get interesting. CO counts down and pushes for $68 more. Button counts down and pushes for $230 on top of that. Back to SB who now folds (huh?). BB Pushes for his full $400, Mr. Straddle Calls. Guy to my right calls. The pot is around $1500 and we haven't seen a flop. I suddenly want my cards back. Talk about Pot Odds!. Being a cash game, no one opts to show until the river. Mr. Straddle shows AK and scoops all the pots. on a board of K J 8 6 T. Damn. My J-6 would have scooped! Other hands shown were AJ, 76 offsuit, 95 suited, and 7-4 offsuit. I think I like this game!

Soon to find out the Mr. Straddle likes the straddle/big bet option when there are limpers. I use this to my advantage when I find QQ. I limp, 2 others limp. He pops to $100 and I shove. 2 folds to him and he gives me a dirty look and mucks. A few others at the table shoot me a significant glance and I know I'm not the only one who noticed the trend.

QQ shows up a few more times and I do well. One hand I'm in EP and raise to $15, new woman at the table who is talking about how she just cashed in a WSOP $1500 NLHE event calls, and 2 others. Flop is a beauty with K Q 3 rainbow. I check, she bets out $25 into the $60ish pot. Two mucks and I decide to smooth-call, hoping she puts me on AQ or AK. Turn is a 7. I decide to get crafty and bet $100, hoping that she might have something good. I get very lucky when she goes over the top of me. I call and show the QQ. She tables 77 and says "crap, I out you on AK or AQ and thought I had you there". I'm up to about $850 now from my original $400. A few hands later I get it all in with QQ again vs A-3 suited and they hold. I strike up a conversation with the new player to my right as he asks about my Full Tilt hat. Turns out he's in the online poker biz and we chat for a few rounds.

One of my last hands I finally find myself with position on Mr. Straddle. He's been showing junk and is a complete maniac. I have Q9 clubs (PANGER!) and the button. I call the raise and so do 3 others. He definitely has a target on him and we are just competing to see who can get his stack. Flop is Tc 9s 8h. EP new guy bets. Next mucks. Mr. Straddle calls. I am obliged to call with my gutshot/flush/middle pair. Turn is a 4c. EP bets again, but now about 1/2 the pot. Straddle calls. I figure I have to go with it here and call since the flush might make it. River is Jc. EP bets like $20 and you can tell he's not happy. Straddle happily calls and I go all in. I have everyone covered. EP mucks, and Mr Straddle calls. I show the flush and he shows a 9h and mucks the other card. I'm now up to about $1500. I like this game! The new player to my right says "Damn it, I could never get a hand or hit a flop vs him. You're a lucky SOB!" Yes sir, I am :)

I get up when the BB gets to me to keep my profits and go nap prior to the tourney. Since I have been hearing horror stories about how late the Binion's tourneys are going I head back. Ralph is doing okay in his limit game and decides to stay. He will meet me at Binion's later. I get lunch and take a quick 45 min power nap, then head downtown, splitting a cab with someone that was coming out as I told the doorman I was headed to Binion's. He's going to the PLO8 tourney as well.

Get to Binion's and the line is LONG with about 20 mins left to cards in the air. I hear people grumbling and finally they bring over 2 more to help with registrations, speeding things up quite a bit. I get paid and into my seat with 3 mins to spare. I hook up my mp3 and decide to sit in for the long haul. I usually don't use music or anything else, I like to hear what's going on. I decided to block things out for the first 20 mins or so and give myself some time to change gears. There's quite a bit of chatter at the table about online players, so I eventually turn it off to listen in. I know a few of the online names that people are discussing, and tell them they wouldn't know me as I'm a small-stakes guy. This table is pretty uneventful, and I just can't hit any flops. I have a donkey moment when I have 9c8c8h7h in the BB. The flop comes out Tc7c4s. I SB and I check and someone takes a stab for the minimum (I think we were at $50/100 blinds). Button calls, SB calls, I call. Turn is Js and SB checks. My brain takes a vacation and I find myself betting the Pot. This scares off no one as there are two good flushes and a low draw still out there and all I have is a straight. I should have check/called. I have no idea what I was thinking. River is, of course, the 5s. BB now pushes all in. I fold and curse myself for my stupidity. He gets 3 callers and shows the As2s for the backdoor spade nut, and the nut low. One other shows the Ksxs and the last shows A2o. Ship 3/4 to the SB. I feel like a moron. After that, I got no respect for a raise (and I don't blame them). I was out by the first break.

The good news is that there was a list for a 1/3PLO8 game so I got on it. Meanwhile I sat in a rocky 3/6O8 game and lost $22 while waiting for that game to start. Ralph had arrived just before I registered and had made it into a nice 4/8 HORSE game. One thing I forgot to mention that was funny about Day 1 6/12 HORSE is that Binion's had no way of tracking what game we were on and ended up with a stack of Post-its with the game name. By Sunday they had upgraded to 3x5 index cards. Classy! Ralph says the 4/8 game is good but there's 3 in front of me on the list. I still sign up and hope I can get into it. No pros that I knew this time, so I was hoping I could do well.

Meanwhile, the 1/3 PLO8 game starts. I look around and 7 of the 9 players claim to have busted in the first hour of the tourney. This is usually a good thing, because they are either going to be steaming and crazy, or rocky as hell and easy to bully. A few orbits in I know who is who and manage to hit 3 of my draws, one to scoop and I'm up $300ish. Two orbits later I stand with $250 in profits when I get called for HORSE. Looking back, I should have stayed as there was one ATM that was steaming and short buying, pushing with every hand (he played T 7 4 5 single suited from UTG, calling a raise from LP and then staying in when a T hit the board. Yeah, that type. AND I LEFT! Sigh)

The HORSE game is good and the guy to my right and I start talking a bit. He's a dealer in from Montana to play some WSOP events. Nice guy to chat with, but that was the only nice thing about the table. By the time I get there, Ralph is down and says that the table makeup has changed quite a bit. He decides to go and nap, and I stay on for a few hours, finally leaving down 160ish.

As I head back on the Deuce towards the strip, I get a call from Virge, who just woke up. He's hungry, as am I. We've never met in person, but he suggests that he picks me up in Caesar's circle drive and he'll take me to "The best food off the strip" after we find out that his first choice, the Sushi House at TI closes at 11pm on Sunday. We meet and get caught up in some nasty traffic as there's a fire in the rear lot at Caesar's. We ask Bleu if he wants to join in but he's in a nice 30/60 O8 game at the Bellagio and doesn't want to leave. He would end up playing all night, with 4ish hours HU vs Paul Darden. But that's a Day 3 story..more to come later.

Virge and I finally get out to his favorite place, which is Shucks Tavern & Oyster Bar out in Henderson. He's right, the food is fantastic. We chat poker while I enjoy some seafood bisque and then some of the best blackened scallops I've had in a long time. Virge admits that he hates to play with me online, because I'm too crazy. His advice is to quit trying to play so fancy. As I usually play with him in private events, I can see his point. I usually try to mix up my play and play level 2 or 3 versus people. I have some things to noodle, wondering if this bleeds over into my "normal" game. Food for thought and good food. We call it quits just after midnight and he drops me back at the IP, where I'm staying. He then goes off to rail Bleu at Bellagio. We all plan to meet up for Day 3 and grill out and talk poker at Virge and Lusky's place in Henderson around 7ish. Little did I know that would change.

Coming up - Day 3. Including an outside of casino encounter with a well-known poker pro.

Meanwhile, I'll cya at the tables.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Vegas Trip Report, Day 1

Welcome dear reader. I'm still trying to figure out who you are! I have returned. I did well, but not great. We'll get to the final tally later on in the week. Today, let's talk about Day 1 in Vegas.

Got in well after midnight local time on Saturday early early morning. I guess that counts as Day 1. But I crashed versus hitting the tables tired. So the real Day 1 started on Saturday, around 9am. Yep. I'm an early riser, for a poker player.

First thing we did is realize that the shuttle from Harrah's to the Rio for WSOP events didn't start running until 10am. Crap. So Ralph and I cabbed it to the Rio to get going.

I wanted to play a few Single Table SnGs. He went off to check on the ring game action. I signed up for a $175 buyin that paid out 1500 in tourney chips and $120 in cash. 10 runners. I did well on the 3rd hand, doubling with QQ vs 66 getting it all in on a T-hi board. I don't think I gave up the chip lead again until we got to HU play. What's funny is that I ended up HU with this guy. I didn't know who he was but there was a Swiss guy at the table. I made a comment to John early on about if he was a pro and the Swiss guy started laughing. I asked him what was funny and he said "You don't know who he is? I know who he is!". John spilled the beans after the HU match. I guess he found a new reader :) Pokernews is much bigger in the EU and AUS than in the US. I hope that changes for him.

But back to poker. I ended up HU with a guy who had a clue which was good and bad. Good, as he offered to chop right away, and we each took a chip. We kept the last chip and the cash in for the winner. Looking back, I should have made it winner gets the chip, loser gets the cash, but I was planning to win it, dammit. The worst part of HU play is that we were both playing TAGish, and there was a lot of raise/folding. It became a test of who was going to get bored first and make a mistake. I did get him in with A6 suited versus QJo and he caught a J on the flop. The turn J buried me and I was down to T2500ish versus his T7500. I battled back to even bit but finally lost with a K8o. I can't remember what he had, but I think he had an A and neither of us paired. Last hand we played blind at 300/600 as I had exactly 600 left on the button. After the flop I turned over AA. He had 2d4d. Flop was A 3 T with 2 diamonds. 5 on the turn and I was drawing slim. No river help and I was done. Such is life. I can't win those 60%ers. That would turn out to be a theme for the week.

Ralph was patiently waiting as the game took around an hour and a half and there was not much cash game action that early in the AM. As he was itching to play and thought about playing in the 4pm HORSE at Binion's, we headed downtown. I'd never played downtown in my previous visits, so it was going to be a new experience.

Got to Binion's around 11:30 AM and there was some low-limit action in LHE, O8, and NLHE. I was waiting for the PLO8 game or a Mixed Game to start up, hoping that we might get HORSE going as the tourney was that day. Meanwhile, I sat at the 1/3 NLHE. Within 30 mins they announced an interest list for 6/12 HORSE and within an hour it was up and going. I sit down in seat 5 and look over at seat 1 to see someone I recognize from CardPlayer. Might have been Vince Burgio, but I'm not sure. He was in PokerStars gear and someone commented that they like to play Omaha, but he writes about it. I didn't want to look like a tourist and ask so I kept my lip zipped. He was definitely in the "pro" category though.

About 20 minutes into the game a guy says "Hey, that's Oklahoma Johnny Hale! Let's see if we can get him to play!" He took seat 4. There's a bunch of missing records from early WSOPs, but I guess he has a few bracelets in Razz from back in the day. I managed to beat him when he had a possible 7-hi showing but I had 65 under. Nice to scoop a legend in his own game! I played for a few hours while Ralph played some 3/6 O8. We took a break around 3 and headed over to the Nugget for the buffet, as we heard it was great food. It definitely was great food, but the weekend price was a bit high and there was still quite a bit of breakfast-ish stuff for 3pm. Ah well.

I was a bit tired and went back to nap. Ralph decided to not play the HORSE (which was a good thing. It finally ended at 8am Sunday with an 8-way chop). Woke up and decided to meet up with Bleu to play. We met at Caesar's. The original plan was to grill out with the boys in Henderson, but he was supposed to be in a Freeroll at Caesar's. Being a poker player, he can't read a calendar and the Freeroll was on Sunday instead.

Anyway, Bleu and I met up at Caesar's and then headed over to the Bellagio to see what the action was like. There wasn't much going on there, so he got on the list for the 30/60 mixed game and we figured we had a few hours to kill. We headed up to the Wynn and got on the 10/20 O8 game. Meanwhile, we played some video poker while waiting. We went back after an hour (and I was up $2!) and I sat at 2/5 NLHE as we were near the top of the list. 2 hands in and they start up a new table as a must-move and I'm in!

The deck hit me pretty hard in the O8 game. I had some great runs. Bleu wasn't doing quite as well, but got moved into the big game. He said the action over there wasn't as good so when they called me up we decided to break instead. We called Ralph (who had been napping, taking the 2nd shift) and headed back to the Rio. I played 2 more SnGs, got knocked out of one quick and then chopped a 2nd one for another chip. Again, I had AT vs K5 and he flopped a 5. I couldn't catch up and ended up all in short with Q6 with 1200 in 300/600 blinds. Again, should have gone for cash to 2nd, but I learned. In good news I had 1000 in tourney chips for my 1500 buyin event. I was on a roll in cash and feeling great!

Tomorrow (or maybe later in the week) will be Day 2 of 4. Meanwhile, I'll cya at the tables.