Monday, December 20, 2004

Vegas...Day 1, Lots of crappy play

It was nice to get back to Vegas. You can play poker just about anywhere, but playing in Vegas is the best. The energy of the city surges through you body as you make the bet and take down a pot. Plus, you have so many choices now as to where to play, and for what limits. You can wait for an hour or hop right onto a table. If things are going good, walk out of one casino and check out the competition at the next. It is great.

So I started out by heading to the Bellagio. Part of me wanted to play but the biggest reason to go was to see out the hoopla about the World Poker Tour Five Diamonds Event. It was something to see. All these extra tables outside the poker room, chips being tosses about by the pros as people 3 and 4 deep watch all the action. It was a geek out moment as you saw the guys you watch on TV just casually walking about. This is their place so it makes sense. I found it funny how people were trying to watch the action from just beyond the ropes. Stranger was the table that just had Chris Ferguson, was the one that had the most people. Especially when one table over was Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, and Andy Bloch. Daniel Negreanu was one table over from them and was chatting with Brunson in between some hands. I watched this for a bit before leaving. There was a huge list for the 4/8 game so I decided to head over to Monte Carlo.

They started a new 4/8 game at Monte Carlo just as I arrived. I like this poker room as the play is usually good, but they also have the bonus payouts for good hands (quads, straight flushes and royals). But I had forgotten one thing that I didn't like. The half blinds. Instead of blinds being 2/4, they are only 1/2, thus inviting more players into a pot. Add that to the bonus hands and people will play any connected, any suited and of course, any connected suiters. It is a cheap price to call so why not, especially if you might hit a bonus hand.

There were some really loose players at this table too. There were the two Middle Eastern guys to my left, the fat lady to my right. The old regular two spots to the right. An old guy who was going to play every hand no matter what. A lady who wouldn't shut up about getting a no limit game going and the old guy's wife. I was the youngest person at the table. I noticed the loose play right away and couldn't wait to get a hand. It took a long time for me to finally get to play a good starting hand. I had tried to limp on a couple of hands and play my blinds but nothing good was coming my way until I went on a bit of a rush. Was dealt 9 9. I raised it up to build the pot because I knew at least 6 people would see the flop. Sure enough, they all limp on in. I flopped the set and easily took down a good sized pot. Next hand, I get a pair of deuces that became a set on the flop. This time, I wasn't paid off as they all folded on the river. The kill button was slid my way and I raised it up with A Q clubs. This time, they all folded around. Did I suddenly have a rep at this table?

There was one big hand that turned quite interesting for me. In mid position, I was dealt 9 9, both black cards. Of course, 7 people see the flop, K Q J, all spades. Now I am going to the gutshot straight, flush and straight flush. The old guy bets out. Everyone folded around to me. With a ton of outs, I call. Turn is the 10 of spades. I now have hit my straight flush. Old guy bets out. However, I am screwed. This guy has played any A ever since the table started. Does he have the ace of spades? I just call. In hindsight, I should have raised for information, but I only called figuring he had the A. River is a blank. He bets out and I call it down. He has an A, but it is diamonds. My straight flush held up. But because I only had one of the cards in the hole, there is no bonus payout. Oh well. I still think it sucked that I get a straight flush but couldn't really capitalize on it. I should have bet it on the turn to see where I stood. Hell, it was only another 8 bucks.

I only played one major hand after that. Limped with K Q. Flop came K Q 3. Two players paid off my two pair. Funny part was the look of total disbelief as I kept betting out and they called. It was like I had a royal flush with the way they reacted.

The play at the table was pretty wild in the pots I wasn't involved in. As I said before, people were playing a lot of crappy hands in attempts to get bonuses and well, because they were stupid. There were a couple of suckouts, like when the fat lady next to me filled her flush on the river and showed K 2 suited. I saw that coming from a mile away. The old guy who was playing any ace hit a couple of times when he had nothing until an A hit the river. As loose as this game was, I had gone cold and was getting tired of it.

It was now about 4:30. I had been playing there for roughly an hour when I decided to head down to Mandalay Bay to see if I could get in the 6pm tournaement. I walked on down and got one of the last 3 seats. Had some dinner before the game got going.

They start with only 30 players for the Mandalay tourneys. You get 500 in chips and the blinds go up every 20 minutes. They are designed to be done within 2 hours or so. It was an interesting group of people playing. A couple of young guys who looked like they never played in a casino, much less have been playing poker for very long were spread out amongst the tables. The two at my table were playing extremely tight. To my left was some dude in a jogging suit wearing sunglasses. Next over was Southern Miss. He was watching the college playing North Texas as we played cards. Every 10 minutes he reminded us that was his team. Both of these guys were rather tight. There was one guy who was out in 10 minutes that just plained sucked. The Kentuckey guy on the far end seemed to be rather stupid and he would overbet the pot with any pair. There was the dirty guy on my right that kept flashing his cards. Funny. He would get the first card and peel it up to take a peek. But then he would pick it up off the table and get a look at the whole card, like the other half may be something else. Then he would do the same thing with the second card. I was given a full view each and every time. Way I see it, if he is going to show me the cards, I will let him. And finally, there was the worst player ever from the country of Mexico (he was speaking Spanish with another guy later on). He was terrible, calling bets with nothing. Calling bets with absolutely nothing. Again and again. Of course, he got lucky on a number of these hands, hitting miracle cards on the river and knocked a couple of guys out.

I took down a small pot early from Worst Player in Mexico when I saw a flop from the big blind with Q J. Flop came Q high. I bet it out on each street just to see WPM show A high. Huh? He did this a couple of times. On one hand, he pissed So Miss off when he busted A K with a set of deuces on the river. He called So Miss all in bet with bottom pair and pulled it out. Unbelievable. Didn't matter because So Miss wasn't that good anyway.

The dirty guy kept showing me his hands. There was only one hand I didn't see. The first card he got was a K. The second card he took a peek at and quickly slammed the first card down on it. Right away I knew he had cowboys. Early position raised and he went over the top and all in. He got called by QQ and doubled up. Right away he starts folding hands left and right, saying he is going to sit on his lead, that he doesn't need to play for a while. He threw away some playable hands too. I didn't catch many hands after that. I was moved to a new table when we were down to about 24.

At the new table, the chick on my right had a huge stack. Apparently she was knocking people out left and right. Otherwise, the stacks at this table were all rather small. I would make a nice move just a couple of hands in. They consolidated us to 2 tables. One of the young tight players was shifted to the button. I was under the gun and raised up to 150 (blinds were 25 50) with black A A. Everyone folded around to the young guy who went all in. The blinds folded and I quickly called. His 7 7 received no help and I knocked him out. Next hand, I get red A A. I raise it up to 150 and get just So Miss to call. Flop came K high but with two hearts. I push to make it an expensive draw. He thinks and folds. He had a flush draw with bottom pair. I am sitting comfortable now at around 1700. Meanwhile, the chick to my left is slaughtering everyone. She takes out So Miss- who happens to be her husband and taught he tournament strategy over lunch. She takes out sweatsuit next. Then she finally obiterates the Worst Player from Mexico. By now, the majority of the table is playing scared. I recognize this and start to steal blinds. I am able to do this with any A or two face cards with some success, taking the blinds at least once per round. The slick haired guy on my right is also playing scared folding his small blind to me every so often. When he does call, I bet the flop to take the pot uncontested. I keep doing this until I run into the a flop with the chick. I raise preflop with a ragged A and she calls. I bet the flop, J high, and she calls. Uh oh. I check the turn and now she bets. I run. That didn't work, but I only give a few chips up.

The slick haired guy takes a big blow when he loses a sizable pot to the old guy next to him who keeps going all in on the small blind. His A K loses to 4 4. Next hand, he goes all in with his remaining 900. I have 1300 at this point and look down to see 9 9. This hand has served me well today so I think about it. I think he may be on tilt as he kinda sang "all in" when he pushed. I call. He shows A A. Oops! Wow, what a bad call. There was only about 12 people left. With 5 getting paid, I should have avoided a confrontation. Instead I go from being mid stacked to short stacked.

They soon got us to the final table. Blinds are now 100/200 with a 25 ante. I am in trouble and need to make a move. When the big blind comes around, I go all in blind. With only a 50 call, the guy who limped calls and show 8 9. A 4 hits the flop and I double up. But the ante begin to bleed me. No cards are coming I go out with 6 9 in the big blind. Big lick does nothing and I was done in 9th. That sucked. I played pretty good I thought but made one big mistake.

It didn't help to go over to Luxor and drop a couple hundred on a cold craps table. Having done that, I get a beer and head back up the strip to Harrahs where I was staying. Out of curiousity I check out there newly opened poker room. It is spacious but there are only 3 games going. There are openings on the 4/8 and the NL game. I decide to try playing no limit. I buy in for $100 (max buy in is $120). I sit down to a full table. There are a couple of big stacks, with about $200 or so but otherwise they are around $100. I get K Q on a early hand and limp on in. Flop comes K 10 4. I bet the pot and get re-raised up to $50 by a guy who looks like he just left his trailer park. Pot is only like 10 bucks and this guy raises a huge amount. Without having a real read on him, I call. Turn is a rag. I check. He checks. River is a rag. Checks around and I see he missed his straight. Interesting. Mental note is made on trailer park. Trailer park does this a couple of more times. Then the Pitt Panther next to him starts doing the same. He limped in on one hand. I have A K diamonds and raise it to 10. Pitt raises it up to 40. Huh? I call to see a flop. Flop totally misses me. He acts first and goes all in. I have no choice but to fold. I would have liked to have seen what he had but the price was too high.

There were some nice guys at the table. The older guy on my left was from England and was telling me about the card rooms in Amsterdam. How they are pretty good and he does well there. You just need to know which ones to go to. Some are rather shady. He hit quads in a hand and said he had two pair, nine and nines with an ace kicker. He had been waiting to use that line. Next to him was a guy who was bouncing around from hotel to hotel and supposedly had a flight leaving just before 1 am. He was drinking Cherry Cokes with two cherryies. On my right was a guy from Chicago who was playing tighter than tight but claimed he wasn't getting any cards. On the other side of the dealer was a dude who looked like he either got in a hell of a fight and had taken the bad end of it, or was a drag queen with a night off. Something about him looked weird, very weird. But he seemed to be a nice guy. Or is that girl?
Two young kids were in the middle. One had a Baskin Robbins poker chip. He said he was dying to play A 3 because of the chip. Cherry Coke says he needs to play it just to he could shout "Baskin Robbins!!!" and slam the cards down on the table! We all get a good laugh from that one.

The play at the table is rather choppy. Trailer park and Pitt are bullying the table. Every time trailer park played a hand, he would make a bet of 2 to 3 times the pot, forcing people out. I was praying for a hand to take him on with. It never came. He was taken out by Cherry Coke about a half hour later. Cherry Coke pushed all in preflop because trailer was leaving. TP called the bet with his $160. Turned over J J to Cherry Coke's A K. A hit the flop and it was done. Trailer was busted out.

My chip total kept floating between 50 and 100. I wasn't catching many cards and wasn't able to pull down any real pots. New cranky guy came into my left and ended my game. I limped with Q 10 from the small blind. Flop came Q 9 8. I bet out a pot sized bet and he called. Turn was another 8. I bet out 20 and he raised me another 20. I re-raised back for only 6 more. He showed 8 4 and won with his set of 8s. I wasn't having much fun at this time and knew I should have left before this. I just wanted to get back above my buy in but that sure didn't happen.

Stay tuned for day 2. Getting drunk playing Pai Gow and then deciding to hit the Mirage.

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