Saturday, February 17, 2007

My Last Few Days in Vegas

I took the next day off since I was so burnt out. I did not realize it at the time, but after reviewing my records for the trip, I was putting in an average of seven hours a day. That includes the first day, the last day, and the two days I took off.

The following day, I had a really good session at the Bellagio. I finally was rewarded for my patience. I pick up JJ in the CO. There were several limpers ahead of me. I have started playing situations like this a little differently, at least occasionally. I limp in expecting to fold if I miss the flop. Some tables will not fold to a raise and I want to take down a big pot, not a small one.

I get the flop of my dreams: QJ4, two spades. The table checks around to LP who bets $40. This is a player that is going to pay me, I know it. I pot it and he calls; everyone else folds. This is fantastic. The turn is a blank, and LP checks to me. I have $414 remaining behind. My only problem is how to get it all-in. I am guessing he will call at least $200 here. He does not want to be pushed around. I bet $225 and he calls. The river is another blank. I push for my last $189. He calls, I show my set, he mucks, and I take down a $1045 pot. Wheeeeeeeeee!!

It is still relatively early in the evening, but I want to book this win. I cash out and head over to the MGM. I decided I want to mix up my game a little. I play much looser and more aggressively than I normally do. I think it is something I need to incorporate into my game plan, and I am willing to make the investment. Most players are not going to see it coming if they are expecting my usually TAG game. It doesn’t work out for me that evening, and I call it quits, down a bit at the MGM, but nicely up from earlier at the Bellagio.

I, again, feel completely burnt out so I take the next day off. The day after that, I head back to the Bellagio. This turns out to be a fairly bad session. I just couldn’t hit any hands. Finally, I flop the nut flush and get all-in. The dude that I get all-in against is resigned to lose his money. “I have to go soon. I am probably behind and have to go see my wife…” When he starts saying these things, I immediately know two things. One: He will call me. Two: He will suck out on me. It never fails. He shows two pair and then he spikes his boat on the turn. That fucking figures.

Later in the session, I make a mistake that makes the session much worse. I get involved in a pot with AQ in EP. Four people see the flop. The flop comes ace high and I go to the mat with my AQ against a player in LP with AK. I just could not figure out why he wouldn’t raise at any point. If he had re-raised before the flop, I was gone. In a four-way pot, I would think that he would be concerned he may not be good even if he hits the flop. I have since learned that many people will play AK that way. I won’t, but I can no longer exclude AK from a player in LP’s potential holdings just because he didn’t raise. Live and learn. I book a sizable loss and head out.

The final session of my trip, I finally get a chance to catch up with Linda. She even dealt my table while I was there. She is now dealing more regularly. I had only started playing the Bellagio towards the end of my trip, so I didn’t know that until just then. When she got a break, we talked for a bit. Insane gambler-bookie dude is playing 10/20nl, and I ask her to watch his play while she is dealing that table. She reports back that he is less than completely solid based on her observations. I am not surprised. I am looking forward to playing him in some home games; he hails from somewhere in the Southeast part of the country.

There is a donkey on my right that keeps accumulating chips. I can’t seem to get involved in a pot with him. He started with $200, and works his way up to $2,500. He dishes out bad beat after bad beat. I still can’t get any of his money. At least he doesn’t have the chance to dish a bad beat out on me.

A solid player that I had played with in several earlier sessions is on my left. He and I talk for some time. A punk-assed kid sits down. He is white, but is sporting lots of gold chains, a basketball jersey, and a baseball cap worn sideways. He talks about how good he is and what a pro he is. When the punk gets up for a break, the solid player posts a line of 2 hours for the under/over on when the punk is going to bust out. I take the under for a dollar. The punk returns. He notices us discussing the over/under and we point to the basketball game that is on the opposite screen. The punk gets into an argument with a player from Detroit about the straddle rules at Greektown. The player from Detroit is just trying to tell a story about some idiot that blind straddled his whole stack and lost. We don’t care about the punk’s notions of the rules at Greektown, though he insists that he is a legend there.

About an hour into the over/under period, the punk gets all in with a straight draw and loses to a boat. He leaves, I collect my dollar. Sweet!! That was the best part of the session. The worst part was me running my boat into quads. I still eked out a win, but a much smaller win then I expected.

On the plane home, I do my bookkeeping and discover that I am roughly even (in poker) for the trip. I played 105 hours. I likely paid about $1,000 in rake. I took $2,700 in bad beats. To my knowledge, I didn’t dish any out. I made a few expensive mistakes, but I feel that I achieved many of my goals for the trip. I played 5/10nl twice and won each time. I played with more discipline than in the past. I did a better job of not playing when I was not feeling it. There a number of areas where I still have room for improvement, but that is the subject of a future post.

But the question still remains, why was I there? I will tell you next time, I promise. I admit that I was putting that off initially to promote interest in my trip reports. But, I was also lost in the moment of playing and staying focused. And I was torn between writing about my poker sessions and writing about my motivations. In the end, poker won out against meta-poker. But now that I am back, that is coming up next.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Day Eight, A Day Late

I started the day at the Bellagio a little after noon. I sat at a $2/$5NL table. I play very tight for the first hour. My tight play was not just my feeling out the table at a low price; I was totally card dead. Eventually I wake up to AhKc UTG. I joke about opening for $35 being a bluff because I am bored. Everyone except the button folds. The flop comes A72, two diamonds. I bet out $75, the button raises to $150. My read on him is that he has a weak ace. I jam for another $300. He calls quickly. He shows Ad8h. and proceeds to four-flush me. After patiently waiting for cards, picking a good spot, and making a great read, I get fucked in the ass. I am happy about everything except the ass-fucking. Not that there is anything wrong with that; it is just not my style.

Not too many hands later, I pick up KQ in LP. I limp, CO calls, Button raises to $25, I and the CO call. Flop comes Q high, somewhat coordinated. I check, the CO checks, the button fires out $100. I and the CO both call. I think the CO has me beat, but I want to take one off because I think I am getting paid if I hit. The turn comes K. I jam, the CO thinks for a while and calls. The button mucks aces face up. The CO shows a flush draw and a gut-shot draw. The river misses the flush and the gut-shot but pairs the board. I take down a monster pot that should have gone to the button. The pot was $1,175.

I play for a few more hours uneventfully. I cash out at 6:07pm for a $689 win. I am not feeling quite done for the day, but I do want a change of scene, so I head over to the Venetian. I sit in a 1/2NL game and order food service. I play a few rounds before my sandwich arrives. I sit out for a round and eat my sandwich. I start crashing hard, so I get up and get ready to leave. I forget to clock out and lose my time played. No sandwich for me next time. Doh!

I drop $200 on dice on the way out. The main dice pit is on the other end of the casino, but they have one table immediately opposite the main entrance to the poker room. How convenient!

It was a good day. Next up, day ten, and then I will be caught up and will, therefore, be able to talk about why I am really here.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Day Nine

Well, I am really burned out today. I don’t feel like going out to play poker at the moment because I had such a long, crazy day. Perhaps after I am done with this post I will hit it. Or maybe I will take a nap. Who knows?

Yesterday started off early; I was on the road before 10:15am. I got seated at a 2/5nl table at the Bellagio at 11:06am. Yes, I carry a notebook with me. My first table was dead and the few hands I could play got not much action. And there was little action outside of the pots I was playing. And, most importantly, there were no donkeys. I transferred tables an hour later and that is when things got really bad.

I lost two monster hands, both to bad players. In one hand, I had top two and the villain’s flush draw hit. In another, I flopped trips and the other player flopped a boat. The players were really annoying me. A drunken idiot sat my right and a punk ass kid sat on my left. They were both annoying, but in different ways. There was a solid player on my right that I got into a huge hand with. I don’t think I could get away from it.

I had QQ in MP. He raises to $25 UTG. I re-raise to $75 He thinks for a while. He calls. At this point, I am wondering what is up. I had shown a huge bluff on the previous hand. He had been seen making moves at a few points in the session. Because of these things and the length of time he thought before calling me, I can put him on a number of different hands. Flop is small, uncoordinated rags. He checks to me, I bet $125. He thinks for a while, and he pushes. It is $215 for me to call to win $547. I am getting reasonable odds considering the range of hands I can put him on. Some miserable cocksucker calls time on me while I am sorting it out. I do a good job of staying focused on the decision. I feel I am probably beat. But given my odds and doubts, I call. He shows aces and takes it down.

The guy that won the pot was nice and I was not at all upset at him or even upset about losing the hand. But that cocksucker that called time on me must die painfully. I had not even been thinking a minute when he called time. He was an old fart that plays a hand once an hour. He wanted more hands so he can eventually get a monster and peddle his nuts. And he didn’t want to wait another minute for me to make a decision for all of my chips. Cocksucker. Prick. Bastard. Yes, I was steamed. But I didn’t let it affect my play. I wish I could not be mad at all when some guy is a prick, but at least I left it at emotion rather than letting it move on to my behavior. I am improving.

I lose a few more medium sized pots before getting fed up and moving on to my next adventure. The only consolation was exchanging knowing glances at a solid player across from me while the donkeys attacked each other. I see a hand where a guy pushes all-in in a three way pot. Both players call. One shows JJ, the other shows AK. The board is KQT. The donkey that pushed in had A2o. The board comes running 2s. Why can’t I get any donkey dollars? I book an $1128 loss after a seven hour session. Normal people would have given up way before I did. But I am making a calculated decision here. I feel I am making good decisions; I am letting my thoughts rule me, not my emotions. I have a desire to succeed at a high level, and I only have a few playing days left before I go home.

So I do the only logical thing; I sit in the 5/10nl game. At the Bellagio, the game is capped at $1000. That is what I sit with. I had to first go to the cage and cash out, and then buy a rack of $10 chips. In the MGM 5/10 game, all chips play, but there are no $10 chips. People had $5 chips, $25chips, and some $100 chips, but mostly bills. And it is uncapped. The Bellagio game is mainly $10 chips, with some bills in play. But since it is capped, bills are not a big force, at least not in the must-move game I am a little uncomfortable with the $10 chips. But I knew it would be there, I have no problem with the math, and I have experience from the $10/$20nl game at Commerce from a year ago. So I am mostly fine with $10 chips, but many people that are stepping up are not. I am, however, a little uncomfortable with the level of play. I know it is going to be a tough game. My play is very tight for the first few orbits, playing no hands. The dealer gets pushed and time is collected. In this game, they collect $6 per half-hour time instead of rake. That is different than all other games I have played except Foxwoods and the Commerce $10/$20NL game. I am cool with it here; the game moves quickly, people make decisions, even big ones, reasonably quickly.

I pick up a premium hand, I raise and all fold. Wash, rinse, and repeat. Finally, I get involved in a hand. I raise to $40 in LP with 77. The BB calls me. The flop is K93. He checks to me, I bet $60, he calls. The turn comes T. He leads out with $60, and I call. River comes blank. He bets $140, and I think for a long time. My read is that he is a solid player and is probably making a play at me. He shows A9o and takes it down. Should I have played back at him? I am not used to placing a lot of chips at risk on a re-steal. This is one hard aspect of that game. There are a lot of playahs make plays. And there are also players just playing. It is hard to know the difference. It is much harder than knowing donkeys from good players in $2/$5NL because the overall skill level is higher. Does anyone have any thoughts there?

The next hand that I got involved in was a monster. I believe it was a good test of what I am made of as a poker player. I was small blind. There were 4 limpers to me. I glance at my cards as a formality before completing for $5 more. I had T4s. The flop comes JT4, rainbow. MP leads out for $30; the Button makes it $90. I make it $200 total. All fold to the button who immediately jams. It is another $440 to me.

My thought process involved putting together a lot of meta-information. One bit was very valuable, in my opinion. I went back to two days ago at the MGM. I remember playing with a guy there. He is the same one that had stacked Don on a draw. I had talked to him for a long time. He plays in big games in the SC area. And he takes sports action, I think. I got the impression that he had flown a bunch of his most valued customers and some buddies to Vegas for a poker junket. I saw one of his other buddies in my game earlier (it was a must move-game, and one of his buddies had gotten up.) Earlier in my current session, the bookie, big time playah guy had greeted me and introduced me to his buddy, the guy sitting on my right. This is the guy on the button. This is the one that I am facing a $440 all-in re-raise from at this very moment. Oh, he looked like a gambler and played like one. “I call” I say. He leaves his cards down. The dealer runs it. He looks at me. My cards are still down. “I called you,” I say. He gets ready to muck his hand. His hand is in the muck before my hand is fully face up. “Good hand,” he says.

One orbit later, I get into another confrontation with him. This time, I am the BB and he is the SB. I have KK! There is one limper, he raises it to $80, and I make it $200 straight. He smooth calls me and we take the flop heads up. The flop is K82, rainbow. I just about come in my pants. He checks to me, and I make a $250 bet. He pushes in for another $300. I call and the dealer runs it. I show my set. He shows his aces and mucks. BOOYAH! Good time to get some luck.

I lose a few small pots and a few players get moved to the main game. I realize that it is 8:40pm and that I have been playing almost continuously since 11:00am. To top it all off, I have not eaten lunch and had a small breakfast since I was in a hurry to motor early this morning. So, I do the logical thing, I sit in the $10/$20NL uncapped game with $5,000.

Actually, I am just kidding. I pick up, and go to the casher. I cash out for $1,203 in chips and $1,000 in bills. I book a $1,203 win. This cancels out my pounding in $2/$5NL and then some. I head to the North Valet. I am going downtown to the Golden Nugget to get some food and do some straight-up gambling. Downtown is a cluster-fuck due to road construction, Saturday night, and a bunch of other woes. It takes me a while to park. I get into the Nugget and immediately hit the blackjack table.

I buy in for $1,000 and nearly get felted by the dealer. I need to buy another $200 in chips to handle a double-down followed by a split. I win. I then win the next fourteen hands in a row. I am exactly unstuck in this game! I get up. It was the most fun I have ever, ever had in a non-winning casino game session.

I move right along to an empty $5 craps table. I open it up with a bang. I spin many points in a row, making come bets and taking max odds the whole way. When I finally spin a seven, I have had the bases loaded for some time and I have $175 in profit. Not bad for $5 dice.

I then move on the poker room. They spread $1/$2NL uncapped. There is a list, the floorman tells me it will be about twenty minutes and that he would lock a seat up for me. I go play Pai Gow to kill time. I walk with a $1.25 loss. Back in the poker room, a must-move game is forming and I lock up my seat. I sit with $300. I don’t play much, but notice small stacks and a lot of limping pots.

It quickly comes my turn to move to the main game. There are deep stacks, and crazy, inappropriate large bets all over the place. I have arrived at Donkeyville. Sadly, I fade fast as it is now 12:45am. I cash out for a modest loss and head back to my home away from home. On my way, I remember that I still have not eaten.

I stop on the way at a tavern. They have these things all over greater Vegas. It is a food and video poker bar. This one is just down the road from my bed. They have a ½ priced ($4.95) steak and eggs breakfast after midnight. I play $10 worth of $0.25 video poker while waiting for my food. I pay $15 for my steak and eggs. HEEEEHAWWWW.

I finally arrive back at the crib at 2:00am. I crash hard.

This has been one long post and I still haven’t gotten to why I am really here. I probably won’t next time either; I haven’t posted about Friday yet. Please note that Friday will be my next post even though I am posting about Saturday first.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Day Seven

I am still posting because I want a journal of what I have done on this trip. But I would like it a lot more if I got some comments. *sniff* me so unloved *sniff* The day before yesterday was long and mostly uneventful. Don and I played at the MGM. After I got seated at the 2/5NL table, I got up and went down to the pit where I was last playing blackjack.

I had re-checked my notes and I had actually given them closer to three than two hours of $100 action when I was on pit-tilt. I sit at the table, buy-in for $1000, and immediately ask to speak to the host. Apparently there aren’t so many around that early in the day. Early in the shoe, the pit manager comes over to see if she can help me. I tell her I want a nice meal for two. She goes and checks. A little while later, she comes back and tells me that I only have about $50 in credit; I could get a meal at the café or two buffet tickets. I am thinking “THAT IS FUCKING BULLSHIT.” I nicely ask her if I could discuss it with the host. She promises that she will send him over. This is at the end of the first shoe.

I finish the second shoe, up $200, and get ready to get up. I shove my chips forward for the dealer to color-up and ask her to send the pit manager over again. I am fully prepared to tell her that their comps are way out of line and that I had gotten the distinct feeling that I am not a valued customer. I don’t have to play there anymore. This is not a bluff; I am really serious.

She comes back accompanied by the actual host. I tell him what I want. He tells me the same thing the pit manager told me. I tell him what kind of customer I have been in the past at the other MGM-Mirage properties, I tell him that me giving the MGM Grand action was unusual for me, but would definitely do it again if it were a positive experience, which it wasn’t at the moment. He compromises on a meal at Wolfgang Puck’s. This is the first notch above the café or the buffet. That is marginally satisfactory for me. I agree.

He explains that the real problem is the alcohol. When they comp a meal, it includes the booze and some people would take advantage of that in a gourmet room. For example, one could order a $500 bottle of wine with their $200 meal. I asked for a food-only comp. They don’t have those. I ask how much action it would take to get the kind of comp I was wanting. He told me about five times as much action. I told him that I would get RFB, no questions asked, for that kind of action somewhere like The Golden Nugget. He agrees and tells me he plays at the Golden Nugget. Enough said.

The moral of the story is don’t play casino games at the MGM if you want comps. They are tight even by Strip standards. That is fine. I shouldn’t be playing there anyhow. Next time I choose to gamble, it will be for fun, I won’t be on pit-tilt, and I will take the time to drive myself to the Golden Nugget.

I return to the poker room with my comp ready to go, I sit and play for several hours without getting involved in any big hands. Don gets busted by an aggressive player on a draw and packs it in. I don’t blame him a bit for packing it in, but I did have to go cancel the comp. I assume I will be able to get the same or better without too much additional BS at some point later in the trip.

I return to my game. Another hour goes by without me playing any big pots. I then make the only mistake of the session. I raise to $45 in the BB with AQd. There were several limpers in the pot, and I had just shown a big bluff two hands earlier. A loose, aggressive, and very good player in EP re-raises to $100. Given what I know about this player, I put him on several possible hands. A re-steal is possible as are TT, JJ, QQ, and AA. I decide to see the flop. Flop comes Q high, two diamonds. I check to him, he bets $100. I call. Turn is a blank; action is check, check. River is a blank. I bet out $100, he calls and shows me his aces. I regret my play on the hand, but given what I know about him, I don’t regret it a lot.

I change tables and start playing some really solid poker. I find my way back to close to even before the table dries up. I am tired so I call it a day.

I am now a full day behind; I had a great session at the Bellagio yesterday that I want to tell you about. It will have to wait until next time as I want to get down there before there is a long list; Saturday is super-busy, even early in the day. I also want to get into why I am really here, but, unless nothing happens today, it will have to wait until Monday.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Six, Six, Six, Six….

I forgot what six was for. Well, no, I still remember vaguely. The day before yesterday was really, really bad poker-wise. I misread the board on the river; I thought I had the nuts. The problem is that I failed to notice that that the river paired the board at the same time it made my nut flush. This resulted in severe stackage. However, I did have my flush on the turn, and the person that got all of my chips did have top two at that point. If I had bet at that point, I would have lost significantly, but perhaps not as much as I did on the river. A few orbits after I had re-bought and I was starting to rebuild. I flopped a wheel. I got stacked again as the other guy had flopped a six high. I had lost two buy-ins plus change. It was time to bag it.

Fortunately, I could not bag it; on my way out, I went on full-on pit-tilt. I played some dice and dumped two hundred. Then I really went nuts. I got the remaining $1000 in my pocket out and bought in for the whole thing on a blackjack table. No, this is not my whole roll; this is just what was in my pocket. I almost got felted by the dealer before I started to win. I got up about $1000. I decided this was a good time to get crazy drunk. I went and checked with Don; yes, he would drive me home.

Back at the blackjack table, I was drinking and giving $100 action. On some hands I bet as much as $250. This would have been one of the stupidest things I did in a casino in recent history, except I had $2500 when Don came to collect me. I wanted to finish my last drink and Don was antsy because he had just taken a couple of sick beats, so he took my five white chips ($500 at the MGM, most other places they are purple) and cashed them for me. He came back and counted them out in front of me. I paid no attention; I just stuffed them in my pocket. I am sure it was right.

So let’s review: I suck at poker, I went crazy in the pit, I got drunk, and I made $1500. This cancels out my craps and poker losses for the day. I am hoping the day will be a net positive in that I gave them $100 action for two hours; I hope to turn that into a nice dinner later today.

Since I did not have my car the yesterday and Don wasn’t going anywhere, we just hung at the crib and played on-line. I bubbled in the 11:00 24+6 on Tilt. I bubbled in the Hammer Day tournament on a bad beat (my AQ vs. AT soooted.) I then kicked some ass in the blogger cash game. It was a good and relaxing day.

I am ready to go back to work now. Yes, I know I missed a day of posting. But I have probably already exceeded last year’s total posts, so cut me some slack.

I am still a little foggy, so I am not even sure I know why I am here, so I will cover that tomorrow instead.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Day Five

Yesterday was short and sweet. I went to work like it was Monday morning. I worked seven hours and I went home. It is easy to take the rest of the day off when it is payday. Yeah, that’s right I got paid. When it was time to cash out, I had four full racks and a partial rack on top that I was carrying to the cage. I got up to the window, and bent at the knees to do the heavy lifting necessary to get the chips up onto the counter (the counter is a little high for me at the MGM.) I was in for $600 and out for $2227.

The action was very good at the MGM, with most of the regulars taking the day off after working all Super Bowl weekend. At the start of the session I had a good table. But the few other good players got the chips before I could and it started to dry up. Thank goodness for table changes. My second table was loose and I did get a lot of the chips. It was a lot of back and forth at first. I made a set and got paid a few hundo. I then gave up most of the winnings to someone else’s set.

The big hand of the day went down like this: I am in LP with 99. EP makes it $20 to go. I call, BB makes it $40 to go, EP folds, I think for a while. I am deep at this point and so is the BB. My read is that he is a bad player that has aces or kings and he is likely to pay me if I flop big. I call. The flop comes nine high, rainbow. In my head I am all “OMFG, OMFG, OMFG.” He bets $100, I calmly wait for just long enough to sell TPTK or TT, JJ, or QQ. I begrudgingly call. The turn is a blank. It is especially loud in the room at this time. He says what I think sounds like “all-in.” I am a little stunned as the pot is about $300 at this point and I still have $800 behind and he has me covered. I ask him to repeat himself. “ALL-IN,” He says again. I say in a loud, excruciatingly carefully enunciated voice “I call.” I immediately flip over my nines. He shows his kings, the river is a blank and I take it down.

Now, realistically, this was not a very hard hand for me to play. I was in the right place at the right time, I made the right read on him, and I played appropriately for my hand and my read. But I did do some things correctly yesterday that led me to this situation. First, I had eaten in small amounts at regular intervals. Second, I had taken regular breaks. Third, I did not get involved in pots out of boredom. Fourth, I made it a point to constantly scope out the other tables and move at the right time. Finally, I was patient, patient, patient. These are the things that I am going to keep doing since I got the appropriate reinforcement for these behaviors.

The other thing I did right yesterday didn’t even happen until I got home. I transcribed my scrawling excuse for hand written notes on my sessions into an Excel spreadsheet. I broke them out by poker, stupid bets on the Super Bowl, and craps. It is very sobering to see my some of my hard won dollars go down the drain in –EV wagering. But I am still improving. I used to have my own host, now I just have a player’s card. Soon, I won’t even be rated. Maybe I will even have to go to one of the skid row places to play $1 craps. The bottom line for poker is looking good. +$950 for the trip, and the trend is positive. I would be +$2150, were it not for that big hand at the Venetian the other day. I am not at all upset about it; I got my money in with the best of it. I am merely taking note of it here as I am trying to gauge how well I am playing overall.

Again, I ran out of time before I can tell you why I am really here.

Until tomorrow,


Monday, February 05, 2007

Day Four

I didn’t make it out to play live yesterday. After the Super Bowl, I just chilled for a while, ran my QQ into a set and bottom two into top two in 1/2nl. I then fell into a super stupor that I never recovered from, so I went to bed. Yeah, I know I implied a second post in a single day and didn’t get there. You knew it was too good to be true.

My Super Bowl moment: discussing possible “wardrobe malfunctions” with Don and Carmen. I suggested that Prince may whip it out and start waving it around. Sure enough he did. You missed that? With the big sheet flying in the breeze and the perspective projection, he appeared larger than life with his penis shaped guitar, and he was wailing on it. Tell me it didn’t look like he was waiving it the breeze.

Now, speaking of units, here is what I had in bets:

Bears and the points, 4 units
Bears on the money line, 2 units
Bears -3 ½ +280, 2 units
Under, 2 units
Bears to score fist, 1 unit
No 3 unanswered scores, 2 units

Here I am tearing up my tickets:

So, when all said and done, I lost 6 units. I feel I got good value and I am not terribly upset about it.

About the MGM 5/10NL game: I hadn’t planned on playing it the night before last. I had just come from the Venetian not really feeling it. I sat at the 2/5nl at the MGM and it wasn’t very loose. I wasn’t feeling it either. I got up for a break, looked at the other 2/5nl games and decided that they didn’t look that good either. Then I spotted the 5/10NL game.

It had been one of my goals this trip to play 5/10NL, but I had planned on playing a capped game, and had also planned on playing after I had been running well for a while, so this was unexpected. I saw an open spot and I picked up from the 2/5 game and sat at the 5/10 game. I took another five bills from my roll and put them under my chips.

I played very, very tight for a few orbits while I was sizing up my opponents. It was clear early on that I was up against three drunks and one known donkey; the rest were good players. I had a very loose and not too aggressive drunk on my right. There was another drunk on his right, and a third on his right. Happy day!

I took several pots from the drunks and made one of the good players lay down a better hand than mine. Then a series of horrible things happened: one drunk got up, and got replaced by a rock. Then another drunk got eject for telling the floorman to fuck off. He was upset that the waitress would not serve his non-playing friends drinks. The sober players all offered to buy his friends drinks, but he wasn’t having any of it. He insisted that he was gambling with thousands of dollars and he was entitled to anything he wants. The floorman didn’t even bother to explain that the amount of money he had had no bearing on what he was contributing to the bottom line; waste of time. Out he went.

One other person got up, and got replaced by two rich, middle aged golf shirt and Rolex wearing fuckers that each had three thousand in bills. They both played really tightly at first, and then I noticed the first one had loosened up, was playing more pots, and was bluffing at some of them. This is where I really cleaned up.

I played a pot against the loosened up golf fuck with the intention of taking it away from him on the river. I had J9 suited and flopped a flush draw and a gut shot on a very uncoordinated board. There had been a small raise from called in four spots pre-flop, so there was about $125 in the pot at the point. He bets $100, I think for a long time, and call. Turn is a blank, He bets $100, I think for a long time, and call. River looks like a blank, but it makes my gutshot and a possible back door flush! I get to raise him here with near nuts! At this point, I believe that he is making a play for the pot, but really hope he has a real hand. He bets $200. I think for a long while, then I get my bills (I had collected a few more in earlier pots) and I count out two bills, announce raise and count out four more. He thinks for a while, asks me how much more I have behind, and I tell him (about $500 more.) He thinks for a short time longer and mucks. Damn, he didn’t have anything. But I still took the golf shirt, Rolex wearing fucker’s money.

The remaining drunk loses most of the rest of his money, and the game slows down. The sober donkey leaves because he got into a fight over a pot he was not even in. I decide it is time to go, so I cash out for $1800, a $900 profit.

I still want to play in a real 5/10 game, but it was fun playing in that one. I will probably hit another later in the trip, but not soon, unless I am so lucky as to find another table with drunks and one or two known donkeys. Not too likely, I am guessing.

I wait in a long line at the sports book to buy my losing tickets. There are two windows open and there are a bunch of people ahead of me asking stupid questions and then buying $25 tickets. Oy. I finally get up to the window, lay down my bets, and hit the road at 2:30am.

That brings me up to yesterday, and I didn’t really do anything other than watch the Super Bowl, so my Day 4 post is going to Day 3 part 2.

Next up: today’s action, I update my blog roll, read some other blogs, and, if that doesn’t fill my time, more about why I am really here.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Day Three, Part One

Wow, yesterday was such an action packed day that I may have to post twice today! If I do post twice today, do I get a day off, or are am I going to get nailed for not sticking to posting every day while I am in Vegas? Whatever, I suppose.

Yesterday, I got up early, and was banging out yesterday’s post in a rush to hit the road. Around 10:00am, Don started harassing me about getting going. I have to blog, I have to get going; the guy is never happy. The tournament started at noon, and we wanted time for Don to register (I already had my ticket,) and to have breakfast. We had just the right amount of time to do that at a leisurely pace.

I was ready to play, or so I thought. Looking back on it, it is clear that I did not have my head in the game at all. I busted out early. Way early. In fact, I busted before the end of the first orbit. I will stipulate upfront that I played like a complete donkey, and that I know exactly how I should have played the hand. Nevertheless, I am going to tell you how the hand went down so I can get to the main learning point that I got out of the experience.

I was in the small blind with AK, it folds around to late position who made it 200 (blinds were 25 and 50.) I call. The big blind re-raises to 700. Late position folds and I call. Flop comes K-rag-rag. I check, BB bets 1000, I make it 3000. BB thinks for a while, and then shoves. I think for a while. He asks me, “Do you have AK?” I reply “Is it good?” He mutters under his breath “It is if you have it.”

I keep thinking. Someone calls for the clock; the floor arrives and gets ready to start the clock. Here is where I feel like I am in slow motion, falling to the canvas, with the beads of sweat flying off my face one by one in ultra-slow motion. I call, he shows his aces and I am done.

Yeah, I made several different mistakes here. I am about to tell you my thought process, but please keep in mind that I am not saying my thought process was right or that I did the right thing, or anything close to that. I am not even going to get into what I would have done differently. I just had the “deer caught in the headlights” feeling. He implied that I was good. My experience is that really top notch players will say things like that to get the call. Anyone below top notch will probably tell the truth, figuring that you will never believe them. Also, there is no way he should push there if he has aces. Now here is the clincher: he was a Euro. I was figuring he was a donkey, so I called. Back to full speed, face hits the mat, splat.

Now that I have been carted off in the ambulance, let me tell you what I have learned. It is a well established principle that if the choices are call or fold and you are in doubt, you should fold. But how does one exercise that discretion when he is in “deer caught in the headlights” mode? It is instinctual. I have had similar experiences a few other times in my poker career. Every single time, I have made the wrong decision. For now own, when I am feeling like the deer caught in the headlight, I muck. I know that this sounds obvious, but it is experiential learning and words, even words better than I am capable of writing, are not adequate to express how much of a difference this is going to make for me the next time I am feeling that feeling.

After attempting to shake off the horrible feeling of just having committed an incredible donkey move in a big tournament, I sit in the 2/5NL game at the Venetian. I do not get involved in any big pots, I lose a few little ones, and then I go card dead. I am really not feeling it, and I think I need a change of scene, so I book a loss of $375 and I roll out to the MGM around 7:30PM.

Up next: I play in the 5/10NL game at the MGM, and my Super bowl bets.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Progress Report, Day Two

This has been a rough two days. The first day, Thursday, I get into LAV airport around 10:00AM, an on-time arrival. I then spend more than 45 minutes waiting for my luggage. Sadly, that is normal for LAV. Picking up my rental was a snap; I used Alamo’s on-line check-in. I drove straight to the MGM to meet Miami Don.

I played 1/2NL for a bit while waiting for 2/5NL. I book a quick $50 win, then get called for 2/5NL. I play tight-aggressive, looking for opportunities to win several small pots. Miami Don shows up and gets seated. The complexion of the table gets interesting. There are three or four major donkeys, one or two rocks, and the rest are solid players. One of the donkeys is playing every pot and spewing chips. I can’t get any of those chips. One of the other donkeys sucks out on me in a big pot. I slowly bleed chips as I go card dead. I lose a coin flip. Eight hours later, I am stuck $450 and we call it a day. We head back to Don’s place where I am staying for the trip.

Yesterday, we got up early. Don has been getting up early, and I am still on Eastern Standard Time. I spend time getting my stuff together, unpacking, and writing yesterday’s post. We go get breakfast, and then head down to the MGM. The place is jamming, and teaming with donkeys. I love super bowl weekend. There was a 5/10nl uncapped game running by 1:30pm. There were also more than 10 1/2nl games and 3 2/5nl games at the same time. I want to play 5/10nl sometime during this trip, but not uncapped, and not until I am running well. I sit at 2/5nl.

I play small ball for a while and build up a few of stacks of profit. I then switch gears in an attempt to get involved in some large pots. I don’t catch a hand and my profit dwindles. Smokkee shows up and sits at 1/2NL. The three of us continue playing our games for several hours.

We roll out of the MGM around 6:30. I have booked a $150 win. We are heading over to the Venetian to play a satellite to the Saturday $550 tournament. I have a really rough cash game session, and I get stack in a hand where I am way ahead. I quit, and hang for a while. I then play my satellite. It is $130, ten seats; top two pay a tournament seat. SNG Machine, Smokkee and I are all playing the same satellite. Smokkee busts first, and SNG Machine busts second. I hang tough, and then start chipping up. I end up winning a seat!

I play 1/2nl for a while and book a $200 profit. I wait and wait and wait because Miami Don is going deep in the nightly tournament and we all drove there together. He busts out in the money, and we head out at 2:30am. It was a long day for a marginal profit for me. I sleep a few hours, get up, bang out this post, and now I have to hit the road; the big tournament starts in two hours.

I wish I could have spent more time on the details, proof read this thing, added hyperlinks and shit, but damn, I am posting for the 2nd day straight and you know about how things are going. Got to motor; wish me luck.

Friday, February 02, 2007

DQB, a Mathematical Approach

I have just arrived in Las Vegas for another two week stay. I want to tell you all about my setup, the trip, the games, and so on. I intend to post every day while I am here. Yeah, I know you will believe it when you see it. I will take that as a challenge. I will get to the beginning of that tomorrow.

Today, I wanted to discuss a hand I have been kicking around in my ahead for some time. It was a $0.25/$.0.50NL game on Tilt. A brief summary of the hand: I was small blind, there were a few limpers to me, I completed with huge odds and 89o, and the big blind checks. I flop top two on an uncoordinated board, get all-in against the big blind, he shows me bottom set, and I get runners to make quads to take it down. For your reference, the full hand history is here.

After the hand, I said something like ‘sorry for the beat.’ He went on to tell me that he would have gone away in my spot. I took it back my apology and called him a pussy. I got to wondering if my play was correct. Intuitively, I was sure it was. At the time, I had gone through all of his possible holdings in my head. I recognized that there was a significant possibility he had bottom set, and a very small chance he had middle or top set.

The thing that makes this hand interesting to me is that he and I both had essentially random hands. Paradoxically, this turns out to make the analysis compact and clean. Here is what I did on paper after the fact:

There are some very unlikely holdings he could have that I am beating, like an over pair, or a straight draw, or a pure bluff. I ignore these possibilities for this discussion. His more likely holdings are some combination of threes, eights, and nines. How many combinations are there? There are two remaining nines, two remaining eights, and three remaining fours. That makes a total of seven cards. He most probably has two of these seven cards. I think any of these possible combinations are equally likely. On to the math:

There are C(7,2) possible hands he likely has. This is 7!/(5!*2!) which works out to 21 possible hands. There are six ways for him to make bottom set, one way to make middle set, and one way to make top set. This makes a total of eight possible ways for him to make a hand that is beating me. This makes 13 ways (21-8) that he can make a hand that I am beating. The odds that I am ahead are 13-8. Of course, I am assuming he plays any of these hands the same way. With little information on this player, I think the stakes we are playing drive me to this conclusion.

Something else I find interesting about this hand can be seen from his point of view. With his 44, he can make the same basic assumptions I did. If he does, I have six ways of making top set, and six ways of making middle set, the only hands that are beating him. That makes 9 (21-12) ways that I am not beating him. His odds that he is ahead are 3-4 (9-12). This means that, on average, that he is behind! He told me I should have gone away, but did not consider going away himself.

Now, looking at it at the top level, of course it all goes in every time. But I am happy that my intuition was correct there. And that the math shows he is a pussy if he would have gone away in my spot.

Tomorrow: My setup, why I am here in Vegas, and a quick update on how my live games have been going.