Moving in Reverse

Posted by in Poker

My last trip to Vegas, I started off healthy and ended up sick. I also spent my last night in town by not sleeping at all. This time, I’m starting off sick and will hopefully be over this crap soon. And my first night? Who wants to take a guess as to where I was? πŸ™‚

I arrived on tilt Thursday afternoon, as my flight was an hour late getting in, then we had to sit on the runway for a while before pulling to the gate…talk about torture. I can see the MGM, but…so close, yet so far away. Then add in slow moving people in the airport, and I was not a happy camper. Don’t you people know you’re impeding my ability to gamble??? Move.

Arrived at the hotel, settled in and caught up with my dad, and then since he was going to dinner with coworkers and then possibly downtown to gamble, I decided to hit the Rio and look for the two hardest working bloggers in the business. We said our hellos and then of course, with the whole working thing that they had to do…I went off in search of food while they went back to media row. We planned to hit the hooker bar for dinner, but since I hadn’t eaten anything more than a bag of peanuts all day, I thought I should get at least some real food before a liquid dinner. I called Maigrey and we chatted while I ate my overpriced pizza slice, sitting at an empty tournament table, relaying news of bustouts that were coming fast and furious. So furious in fact that it was decided to play through the dinner break and make it down to 27 players as soon as possible. Well, no one wants to be the Binion’s bubble boy…things slowed down considerably and I parked myself at another empty table, which I would share with a rotating cast of characters, most notably, Gus Hanson’s nephew. [Please excuse the crappy camera phone pic girls]

One of the things I loved the most about the WSOP when we were there in June was the people watching and the conversations you overhear. This time of course I didn’t get to hear those great cell-phone call bustout sob stories, but I got my fair share of interesting ones. Plus the people watching…the poor guys wandering around in their “WSOP participant” t-shirts. I told Maigrey the shirts should say “I paid $10,000 and all I got was this crappy t-shirt”. So I stayed in my little spot, occasionally catching a view of the featured table footage that was on the big screen overhead, but in general more interested in my surroundings than the tournament going on. However, I was tired and starting to feel run down…#28 needed to hurry the hell up and go home. Finally he did, shortly before 10pm.

Then I saw a familiar face walk by, so I got up from my seat and went over to say hello. We chatted while waiting for Otis and Pauly to get done with their meeting. The loose plan was that the four of us would go somewhere…drinking or gambling, or a combination of the two (now where would you do such a thing in Vegas??). After the meeting though, Pauly decided to be the responsible one and go get some sleep and do some writing. Otis was whisked away to a meeting of his own, but said to call him if we were still out in an hour or so. So Grubby and I went to…

…the MGM Grand! (You’re shocked, aren’t you?)

We arrived to find a long waiting list for just about everything, and decided to play $3/$6. While waiting for our spots, we railbirded one table and picked random participants to cheer for. Then we realized that we would soon be sitting at that table, so we decided to play the newbie role, talking to each other about why was it certain players had to put in money on each hand before cards were dealt, etc. A spot at the table we were watching opened up and I was next on the list. Grubby was seated at the other $3/$6 table nearby.

I spent the first hour of play wondering why the MGM had forsaken me. Had I not spoken highly of it enough? Where were all my drunk tourists that I loved so much a month ago? My table was full of people who actually knew how to play. I had a WSOP dealer, an MGM regular, a quiet woman in the one seat who knew what she was doing, an older man who was a fairly solid player, and a rotating cast of fish. But the fish were the minority, clearly. Who wants that in poker? Not only that, I was card dead. Highest pairs I saw were 7s, and my sets never came. I’d flop open-ended draws, and of course they’d never hit. I never even saw the hammer, and at this table, the flops were coming 7×2 one right after another.

Remember how I said that it was going to be weird to know that I could look up from my table at the MGM and not see anyone I know coming around the corner? Otis fixed that. He chastised me for not calling him since we were still out, but as I told him, I assumed he was probably busy, and I didn’t want to bother him. He had brought his blogging assistant Madeline with him as well as two PS players from London. They were seated at the same table as Grubby, and Otis joined them there. Otis and I took a smoke break, and he said “Seems like we were just here a few weeks ago, doesn’t it?”. I replied “I know. One of the dealers even recognized me.”

We went back to our tables and I found that the topic of conversation at mine had turned to the WSOP, as it does many times around Vegas. The guy to my right was quoting chip counts and bustouts with remarkable accuracy, so I asked – was he reporting the WSOP? And that’s how I met Snake from Wicked Chops Poker. He mentioned how he really enjoyed the PokerStars blog, so I made sure to introduce Otis to another fan.

Well….while my stack was doing fine, it seemed like if I was going to play at a table full of people who actually knew how to play, I could at least make it my friends. Once a spot opened up at the other table, I moved over, sitting across from Grubby and one seat away from Otis. More unremarkable cards. But a better playing experience.

Hank was in town for the Full Tilt Championship tournament, and earlier in the week we had talked about possibly getting together if he had time. Around 4am I got a text msg asking if I was still up. 6am Texas time, of course I am! I called him and told him that the party was at the MGM and he was missing out. There was something said about having to drive back to LA in a few hours. Pffftttt, I said. This is Vegas. Who sleeps?

Grubby’s latest includes a recount of that evening, and he did it far better than I could. I think my two favorite parts of that evening were when we introduced ourselves to our new friend Anthony, and Otis then remarked “You know what’s so great about that? We all gave our real names”, and then hearing from Hank “She doesn’t know how to play. I call” when I would raise pre-flop. It was even better when he’d fold after I bet the flop, meeting his stare with a happy little smile. Our night wrapped up shortly after 8am, and I was in bed around 9, sleeping most of the day in order to get up and do it all again the next night.

Friday night after having dinner with my father and his friends at the Hilton, it was decided to hang out there for a bit and play the slots. Since the Hilton was the hotel we stayed in during my first trip to Vegas, I decided to stick around a bit and take advantage of the fact that I could now enter the casino. I put $10 into one slot machine, and lost it all. It occurred to me how boring this was…hitting a button, doing nothing? $10? That’s two big bets right there! Wasteful. This would conclude my slot play for the evening, but yet I still managed to do quite well from them…

After the Hilton it was decided to head downtown to the Golden Nugget. While I had of course “been there, done that” I knew that Reader Jim was at Binion’s, and I remembered the Nugget games as being quite juicy, so I joined the gang for the trip to the casino and then quickly took off for the poker room. I was seated at a $2/$4 table that featured a local resident being visited by about six of his high school buddies. They started off by saying that one of them was getting married Monday. They didn’t know to who yet, but they had till Monday to find her. It seemed like a good idea, they said. “Or just a great excuse to have a bachelor party” I said. “Why didn’t we think of that??” It turned out that all of them were from Texas, a few also from Austin. We bonded and became fast friends.

The local was sitting on my right and soon hit a rush of cards that caused him to knock all but one of his friends out of the game. Jim took one of the open seats, to the left of all the madness at our end of the table. (Lucky for Jim). I was in the middle of the local and his remaining friend, and then on his left was a Norwegian who shared our fondness for straddles and playing in the dark. Jim was smart enough to stay out of this. I was often trapped in straddle raises and re-raises, done by people who hadn’t even looked at their cards yet. We created a chain of straddles, and would see how far we could get it around the table – when Jim played along, that was half the table that was a little crazy. I of course didn’t help much, with having raised with the hammer once before and winning on the flop (showed, of course) and then my notable hammer boat. Local: “She scares me. She raises, it could be Aces or 72”. Jim even got in the action and made a drop of his own.

At one point I got up to take a break and find the restroom. On my way back to the table, I ran into my father, still plugging away at the slot machines. I told him he needed to be in bed, since he had to work the next morning, and asked him how much money he had sunk in those damn machines. He responded by showing me the $100 bills he had amassed from his $3,000 win on one machine, then showed me a ticket for another $1,100, and was even up on the machine he was playing at the moment. Hmmm…maybe reconsider this poker thing…

While I was certainly happy for dad, he needed to be in bed. I hit the cash out button on his machine and made him get up. It was 3:30am at that point, he needed a few hours of sleep at least. I came back to the poker table and was told that I had missed my blind. “I know, I know”, I said. “But it was totally worth it” and I showed them the $1,100 ticket that my father had won, which he had given to me. I then settled in for more play, comfortable that my father was on his way home and all was well. I should have known better. Didn’t I say “like daughter, like father?”

When Jim and I left the poker table around 5am, he made the comment about needing to find my dad. “No”, I said, “I sent him home hours ago.” Then I looked to my left, and saw him sitting in front of another slot machine. Jim laughed, and I proceeded to yell at my father for his up-all-night antics. Do as I say, not as I do. He cashes out his winnings from the machine he was on, another $500, and I cashed out my gifted ticket. Jim was nice enough to see us home, and I went to bed for the day. My father read the paper.

Last night it was somewhat similar, dinner with my father and his friends again, this time at New York New York. They keep picking places with no poker room…plenty of slots though! This time I mandated that if slots were going to be played, he could at least use my MGM Players Club card and earn me some points. I sat with my dad as he played for a while, then it was decided to take one of the group to the Wynn and the others back downtown. I considered going to the Wynn, as I’ve yet to check it out, but…Grubby had given me a tour of New York New York the other night, and I knew how to easily access the MGM Grand from there. Choice made, I signed up for $3/$6 and was seated quickly despite the packed house.

I sat down at the table in the middle of a conversation with John. I don’t even remember my cards, but I was in the big blind…they must have been good because when I bet the flop I won. Then I got a call from Pauly on the next hand. That time it was AJ, and an Ace landed on the flop. I asked Pauly to hang on for a second while I played it out, but again, no seeing the turn. The woman on my right seemed particularly annoyed by my phone calls and winnings, angrily mucking her cards each time. Turned out she was just an angry mucker, but I apologized to the table, tipped the dealer well, and settled in to play.

The theme for last night was “annoying women players”. I kinda warmed up to the woman on my right after a while, but we then had another woman sit down at the other end of the table who took on the role of table expert. Commenting on the hands, analysis of the play, etc. I hate people that do that, and I admit I found it funny when she busted out. (This is why you keep your thoughts to yourself at the poker table. Or write them in your blog later.) Then there was the lady in the one seat, who was stacking her chips in two stacks of about 100 chips tall. I was nice and didn’t knock the table on purpose.

More cold cards at the MGM. Aside from my two starting hands, I didn’t see much else good and busted out my buyin. Maybe I should always be on the phone while playing…or maybe the MGM just doesn’t love me anymore. I considered rebuying, but honestly, the music from the night club next door, which I normally find to be part of the charm of the poker room, was really bugging the hell out of me. The room was packed, so was the rail…they were even feeding the lions which attracted more people. I love the MGM most when it’s gotten quieter…it was just not our night. I walked through the hotel to take the monorail over to the Bellagio, which treated me well my last time out. I felt…defeated somehow. And a little sad that the place I loved so much wasn’t doing it for me anymore.

I arrived at the Bellagio and signed up for the $4/$8 game. I was instantly reminded of why I prefer the MGM. πŸ˜‰ The waiting list system alone is far superior to anyone else’s. Why a hotel like the Bellagio can’t invest in a decent mike system is beyond me. While hovering around the sign-up podium so I would be sure to not miss my name being called, I saw Ted Forrest leave and saw Tiffany Williamsen do a walk through. Fortunately I didn’t have to wait too long for a table and after securing my chips, I sat down in the 10 seat, the same seat I had during my table time at the MGM. I hoped my cold card problems were not seat-related.

At the time, the button had just passed so I could come in if I wanted, with great position. I declined, deciding to wait for my big blind to post. The woman in the 7 seat could not believe this. “You know you can come in now. The button just passed, it’s great position. You’ll have to wait a full orbit before you play”. “I know”. She then says to the guy on her left “That’s nuts. It’s cheaper to come in now.” While I don’t exactly follow that logic, to each her own. I had my reasons for waiting an orbit. One, I’ve been working on reading people and putting them on hands. Is there something wrong with taking the opportunity to observe the table before I get in to play? Two, given my recent time at the MGM, I wanted a little break to get my head straight. So screw you lady.

In my first orbit, I found pocket 10s. Raised, got a few callers, including Ms. table coach and hit my set on the flop. Had the callers all the way to the river, and took in a nearly $100 pot. Don’t ever fucking question me sitting out an orbit again. Next hand, pocket 5s and flopped the set again. I settled in, happy that the Bellagio was liking me. On those two hands, I made up what I had lost at the MGM and then some. I went down a bit, then up again over the $300 mark. The second time it happened, I thought about booking the win. But it was such a fishy table…and besides, it wasn’t even midnight. What was I going to do? Go to bed???

You know how this ends, right? My big hit came from playing QT in the blind. Flopped the two pair and bet it out. All saw the turn with me, which was a harmless rag. Had a few less see the river, which was an 9. Which meant it was a huge pot for the guy in the 5 seat holding J8. Tilt. I thought about it…should I have check-raised the flop? Or the turn? Yes, that would have been best I suppose, but I honestly didn’t see this one coming, and truth be told, I doubt it would have made much of a difference. In these games where the standard move is to check then call, a check-raise isn’t often noticed for the move it is. I built back from that one, but was still seduced occasionally by the huge pots that these tables can create and played my draws to the river. 4 outs, but when there is over $100 sitting there…hard to turn away. I ended my night once the drunk guy who had been shortstacked and rebought twice already hit a rush and got a huge stack in front of him. He had dinged me earlier when he slow-played his Queens and left me a little stunned. The table itself was getting a bit crazy, with the same guy raising every hand with apparently nothing, and I was getting tired. I left down $50, which wasn’t bad at all, but considering how I had actually been profitable for the entire night at two points earlier in the evening, I was mad at myself for not leaving then. I felt like I played well, as opposed to some of my other loose calls in previous games, but I was still getting sucked out on and the people playing K2 because it was s000ted were raking in huge pots one after another. Sometimes I hate low-limit casino poker.

On my way out of the casino, I ran into Barry Greenstein, and I stopped and thanked him for everything he had done for Charlie. So when I left the Bellagio with tears in my eyes, it had nothing to do with the night’s poker, I promise.

I have a little over 24 hours left in Vegas at this point. My bankroll is pathetic, but I’ve had a great time playing at least. Tonight is dinner with the Prof (I’ll tell Victor hello for everyone) and then who knows what. Maybe I’ll play Keno with the numbers from the back of my “showered in luck” fortune. Or maybe it will be my turn to get hit in the face with the deck. Whatever the case, I’m sure it will be a blast. And that I won’t be home before dawn. πŸ™‚