Thursday, January 18, 2007

Vegas Trip Report 1-5-07

I was very excited to get back to Las Vegas. My last trip was the solo trip to the World Series of Poker and the Blogger gathering. It was fun, but it’s always better when you travel with your good friends instead of meeting them there.

We arrived at the Palms at 6:30 PM on Friday night. We had dinner reservations at Nine Steak House in an hour. I caught up with everyone at the blackjack tables after I tried to get a bet down on the Phoenix Suns vs Miami Heat game that was starting in just minutes. To my dismay, I found out that the Palms does not take bets on NBA games because the Maloof brothers own the Kings.

So I sat down at a $10 black jack table and impressed my friends by requesting a $500 marker on my new line of credit at the casino. Since I had never done it before, I had a bunch of questions for the pit boss. Apparently it works like a delayed debit card. Take as much as you want up to the limit. Pay it back at the tables or the cage if you can. If you can’t pay it back, they will just take it out of your bank account after 30 days. I joked that after 30 days, the Maloof brothers distant cousin Guido Maloof comes looking for you to collect.

After dropping a quick $130 at Black Jack we went to dinner. The food was fantastic and the gang was having a great time. The “house” music blaring too loudly was definitely not to my liking. I had a filet mignon with some potatoes. We also shared some great appetizers of popcorn shrimp, shrimp cocktails, and fried calamari. My final bill was $120. Yeeouch!

After dinner, Rob and I hit the poker room. I got on the list and had to wait for about 30 minutes before a spot in a 4-8 limit game opened. I still felt a little rusty with the live game compared to the online game. I started out losing right away and it never really reversed itself. After an hour or so, Rob came back in and said he was going to put his name on the 2-5 No Limit list. Since I was getting bored with the 4-8 game, I told him to put me on too. It took a while but eventually I was called away after losing $130 in the limit game.

I have only played 2-5 No Limit a couple of times. I would prefer to play lower, but this was the only No Limit game they were running. I figured I would buy in for the minimum for the first couple of rotations and see how the game was. If I liked the game, I would add more cash to the stack.

It did not take long to realize that there were a couple of bad players at the table. There was an Asian man in the 3 seat to my right that was a calling station and I was hoping to trap him. Since I was playing on a short stack, I was playing extra tight. My plan was to raise a good hand preflop and then stick most of my stack in on the flop if I had more than one caller.

After about an hour, the bad Asian raised the blind to $25. It was folded to me and I had pocket Queens. I thought about raising to $75 or $100 and seeing if any overcards hit the flop. I only had $270 in front of me so my next bet on the flop if I liked it was going to be all in. This guy had me covered by a couple hundred dollars. I also thought about just raising all in. He had raised light before, so the chances of him having AA or KK were pretty small. Plus he might just be stupid enough to call me with AQ or worse. I decided to push it in and with only 2 seconds of thought, the Asian called me. When you get a call that quick, it’s usually never good news. I was wrong, it was pretty good news, he called with A-6 offsuit! So my decision was good, but my luck was bad again as an Ace hit the flop.

I thought I handled the pain pretty well. I was not upset since I want him to call with that hand all the time. I did ask him what hand he thought I was playing and he said he didn’t know. So obviously he is stuck in first level thinking and only playing his cards. That’s useful to know.

I dug into my pocket for another $300 and tried to play patient poker. It was tough going as I was not getting much to work with. Finally I did win some of my money back on two hands. I raised Ace-Jack from middle position and got two callers including the bad Asian. The flop came A-J-7 rainbow. They checked to me and I checked it through, hoping to trap. The turn was a blank and they checked again. This time I bet about ½ the pot and the Asian called. The river was another blank and he check called a $100 bet. I had him crushed. The second hand, I raised pocket Tens from the big blind after 4 callers. 3 of them stayed for the Ten high monotone flop. Since there were so many draws I overbet the pot and nobody hung around.

I was getting really tired around 1:00 AM since I had been up since 4:00 AM with the baby in the morning. I told myself I was not going to quit until the Asian got up. He finally did at 2 AM and two really attractive blonds sat down at the table to play with their boyfriend’s money. They weren’t clueless but they weren’t strong players either. In my single days I would have started ordering Red Bulls and Irish Coffees to stay awake, but I was spent and called it a night down $280 in poker.

Bill woke me up at 4:30 AM getting ready for his day. The man can’t stay up past 11 anymore and I am the one who gets to suffer for it. I can’t complain too much though, because my sleeping in skills have long eroded away and I was wide awake by 6:00 AM.

I went downstairs and had the power breakfast of a Sausage McGriddle and large Coke. I needed to replenish my cash so I went to the cage and took out another $600 on the line of credit and headed to the sports book. It was NFL playoff Saturday and I wanted to come out of sports betting retirement and make a big score. Here were the games I bet:

Kansas City +7 against the Indianapolis Colts
Seattle Seahawks -2.5 against the Dallas Cowboys
Arizona -2.5 against Washington State in college BB.
Washington -15.5 against Arizona State in college BB.
UCLA -1.5 against Oregon in college BB.

I bet $100 on each game and felt like a big time gambler. I had never bet so much on sports on my life and I was excited because I felt really confident about each of the games.

After the sports book I walked by the Poker Room. Luckily there was a spot open right away in the No Limit game. Usually I like playing poker in the morning because you often catch bad players after an all night bender and there are lots of easy pots to be won. This game was no exception as I had a 21 year old on my left who had been up all night and was playing any 2 cards preflop. I also had another guy in his mid 20’s on my right who had also been there all night drinking.

I started out slowly trying to get a read of the table. The drunk 21 year old on my left kept exposing his cards to me, so I knew I would make some money off of him. After about 20 minutes, Joe Awada, WSOP bracelet winner, sat down on my right. I thought about getting up, since this game can’t possibly be profitable for me now. However I was in position against him and I figured I would just play tight and try to avoid pots with him. Maybe I’ll learn something.

After not playing a hand for 40 minutes, I find pocket 7’s on the big blind. There are 3 other limpers when it gets to me. I guess the correct play would be to check and hope to flop a set. I figured I could raise and win the pot right there or play one other player heads up. I raised to $35 and everyone called. Shit!

The wannabe pro on my left was one of the callers and I had seen him expose one of his cards which was a red King. The flop was 9d-5d-2c. It looks pretty ragged and I think I have the best hand. I want to win it now so I bet $100 into the $140 pot. Wannabe Pro goes into the tank. He’s thinking as hard as he can while the other two players in the pot, including Joe Awada, look like they are folding for sure. All I need to do is get by this one pathetic player. He took so long that one of the other players called the clock on him. If he takes this long, I gotta think I am ahead and that he is trying to call with a draw. He finally decides that if he calls, he might as well go all in so that’s what he does. It’s $102 more to me. Since I put him on a flush draw and I am getting 3.5 to 1 from the pot, I have to call as well.

He turns over King-9 offsuit for top pair. Good read by him, I guess, although I don’t know why he is limping with that hand preflop under the gun or calling a 7x blind raise from the tightest player at the table. Anyways I am drawing to two measly outs and I don’t improve.

This may be a little results oriented thinking, but I definitely think the correct way to play that hand was to check my options and hope to flop a set. If I had done that and then maybe put a feeler bet on the flop, I think I would have got away for a lot less. I think I also learned that when a player thinks for a long, long time that he probably has some kind of made hand, but that he's just not happy with it. A draw would call much quicker.

I rebought for another $300 and managed to win about $75 back. I also got to ask Joe Awada a few boring questions. The funniest part of the session was that the Wannabe Pro kept calling him Joe Juanda. He even called his buddy on the cell phone to brag about playing with “Joe Juanda”. We all heard it and Joe Awada got a good laugh out of it.

I met the guys for lunch at Garduno’s and got to check on the first of my sports bets. It did not look good as Oregon was busy beating UCLA. I would eventually go fucking 0-5 on all of the bets. Marty asked me what the odds of doing that were. I told him the same as winning 5 in a row, have you ever done that? Officially it’s about 3%

After lunch I went up to the room to watch the football game and catch a nap. After a couple hours I was bored and went back down to the poker room. I was placed in a must move game with a beautiful line up of players. All of them looked like they were tourists playing with scared money.

Thankfully the deck hit me upside the head and every starting hand I was dealt seemed to be AK, AQ, KK, AA, etc. The one decent player at the table was on my left, and he was having horrible luck against me. Every pot he was in with me, he lost with a really good hand. Mine was always just a little bit better. When the guys came to get me for dinner, I had run my $300 up to $660.

We went out for another spectacular dinner at Delmonicos in the Venetian. I had filet mignon again with wine and different appetizers. The most exciting moment of the night was watching Dallas fuck up their playoff game against Seattle by botching a 21 yard game winning field goal. Unfortunately Seattle did not cover so I had lost my 4th bet in a row. My last hope was the Arizona Wildcats who were behind by 12 to Washington State. Eventually I would find out that the Cats managed to send the game to overtime before they finally pissed it away. After dinner, I was hoping the gang would want to stay at the Venetian and gamble since their poker room is awesome. However the gang, led by Rob, were gung ho to go to Score’s.

Scores gets rave reviews by Howard Stern in New York, but the Las Vegas version was definitely the junior varsity. It took an hour for me to find one girl worthy of spending $20 for a dance. It seemed like half of the girls had surgically enhanced bodies, but the face of a man. The Spearmint Rhino is definitely the best place in Vegas. Luckily I escaped from the club only $100 lighter and went back to the poker room at the Palms.

I had made up my mind that after losing the $500 in sports bets that I was either going to lose my $300 buy in or win big. There was no in between. I started out well when early on, there was an early position raise to $20. I had pocket Queens in middle position. I thought that no one else would call the raise, so I just called. It’s folded to the Big Blind who now raises to $120. It looked like a squeeze play. The first raiser folded and it was to me. If I just call, my only move on the flop is to push it all in. This guy had made some aggressive moves in the short time I had already been there, plus he had to figure that my hand was not that great since I just called the first raise.

I decided to gamble and move all in. There was enough in the pot, that if he calls with A-K it’s worth it. I will just pray I don’t run into an overpair. He thinks for about 20 seconds and calls with AK. Amazingly my QQ held up and I had a quick double up. Now my stack is $550 and I should be ready to roll.

It was still relatively early in the night so I had time to make more money. Unfortunately, the cards were not cooperating. Every time I had a good hand, someone would make a better hand and I would have to lay it down. The few bluffs I tried, the other player would have just enough of a hand to call. I eventually frittered away all of the profits from the Queens hand and left the table down $119.

Another big loss in Vegas. What a surprise.

Overall, I think I played pretty well. I lost the one big pot with QQ when jackass called with A-6. The pocket 7’s hand was not played optimally, but he almost laid it down. If I win one of those hands, my loss isn’t nearly as bad. Overall I only lost $185 playing poker. The rest of approximately $1,000 loss was from $500 in sports bets and the rest from blackjack.

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