Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Win In Vegas!

For the first time in I don't know how many trips to Las Vegas I finally left a winner!

I met up with Bill and Chris in the airport in Phoneix on Friday morning and made it to the 4 Seasons before 9:00 AM. Our room wasn't ready so we had a little breakfast and caught up on each other's lives for a while.

Our gambling did not start until around lunch time when we took a cab down the strip to Bill's Gambling Hall (the old Barbary Coast). They did not have any BJ tables that looked good so we moseyed next door to the Flamingo. They were just shuffling brand new decks for the $5 minimum tables and had open tables so we sat down.

The one first for me and the boys on this Vegas trip was that the waitress at the Flamingo actually brought us our drinks for the second round before we even had to ask for them. We were shocked at the level of service. It was also nice to have a dealer openly root for us players in the hands instead of being a stone faced robot. We all started cold, but I went on a streak and ended up $143.

I decided to take my winnings to the Flamingo poker room and see what I could do. The boys were heading back to the Mandalay Pool since the sun had finally come out.

Luckily, I found the softest 1-2 No Limit table in all of Las Vegas. Nobody liked to raise preflop, but everyone was willing to come in for $2. Pots were routinely 7-8 handed. I was short stacking it with only $100, so I figured I would raise my really strong hands preflop and push hard on the flop and hope they hold up. I would also look for opportunities to get in really cheap and flop a monster.

I really won all my money with 2 hands back to back. The first one I picked up pocket Kings in the big blind. I raise a bunch of limpers to $15 and two callers behind me. The flop is Q-Q-9. I bet $30 and get one call. An Ace hits the turn and it goes check-check. Another Queen falls on the river pretty much assuring me that my opponent was not slow playing 3 Queens. I am all in for $45 and he calls with J-9. There's my quick double up.

The very next hand, I pick up A-K in the small blind. I raise a bunch of limpers to $15 and get 3 callers. Flop is A-J-T. I bet $60 and everyone folds. There's a quick $135 in two hands. I finish the session up $125. I am off to a great start!

After a few hours of poker, I check in with the guys to see how the pool scene looks. They call back from the "Adult" pool and tell me I must come right away and bring $50 for the conver charge. I lathered on the sunscreen and headed out to the beach. It was definitely worth the cover charge. I laid around and drank Coronas while watching drunk and topless girls prance around the pool. Life is Good!

We made dinner reservations at Rao's in Caeser's that night and I had made plans to meet up with my friend, Jason who lives in Vegas. We had a good dinner with some really over priced wine. Jason is doing well with his new job working for the casino owner of the joints in Mesquite and playing quite a bit of golf.

Chris and Bill were ready to go downtown and I figured I would tag along. Our first stop was the Golden Nugget. Again we could not find a good cheap table so we walked next door to the Horseshoe. Now it's just called Binion's and they have done some minor remodeling. New carpets and floors and they have made the place a little less cluttered.

My morning luck was not carrying over and I lost a quick $79. Bill and Chris wanted to try their luck at the 4 Queens, but I decided to jump ship and go to the poker room.

Binion's poker room is one of my least favorite places because it is so dark and dirty and nobody from their staff is very friendly. I was immediately placed at a 1-2 No Limit table. It was only 6 handed and it took them moving a couple of players before I realized that I was sitting at a must move table. The floor person had not even mentioned it to me when I sat down and what was worse is that she had not written my name down to move to the main game. I said something to the floor after they had moved two people that had sat down after me and I finally moved to the permanent game.

This game was much tougher than the one at the Flamingo. I bought in for $100 and I was fluctuating right around that amount for the first 90 minutes. During the game I made my classic Las Vegas blunders again. I had Ace-Jack of spades in the blinds and limped preflop. The flop was 8 high with two spades. I checked, an early position player bet and the middle guy called. They both had a lot of chips and seemed like decent players. Since the board was so low, I thought a big raise might also represent 9s or Tens as well as a flush draw. I raised all in for a pretty good amount. The first guy folded, but the last guy called with his pocket 10's. Once again, my draw did not come in. Although I was favorite on the flop, I am really starting to reconsider these types of moves when it comes to cash games. I just don't know if I can get the players to fold often enough to make it worth it.

Here is another hand that I may have misplayed. I have 9c-Tc on the button. I raise 4 limpers to $15. That may have been the first mistake. I was not playing many hands so I thought my raise might narrow the field. It did and I got 2 callers. The flop was Q-J-5 and I think there were two hearts on the flop. They both check to me and I bet $30 with my open end straight draw. I then get check raised to $100. So there's $175 in the pot and it's $70 to call. Now I cannot remember if I had enough money to make this call or not.

If $70 was all I had left then I guess it would have been right to call with two cards to come. Instead I folded. Basically I did not do a thing right that entire hand.

I ended the night down $49, so just a minor loss.

The next day most of my poker was back at the Venetian. This was another soft table, but not as easy as the Flamingo. Unfortunately I was not getting any traction and I was hovering around my $200 buy in the for the first 3 hours.

One hand I was not sure about: I have QJ in the small blind. Two limpers and I complete and the Big Blind checks. The flop is K-Q-J. I bet $10, the BB folds, one limper raises to $30, and the button calls. I call as well. The turn is an Ace. I check and the other players end up all in. I fold.

The raise on the flop worried me, because someone easily could have a better two pair. If it's just one player raising I think I may have reraised. The smooth call from the button may mean he's slowplaying a straight. It turned out that I saved a lot of money since they both made the straight on the turn. I still don't know if that was the right move though.

My time at the Venetian was pretty boring until the last 30 minutes. I was getting a little irritated that I was not really flopping any monsters. I was only winning or losing $20 at a time and still had just under $200 in front of me.

Finally a big hand comes up. I have A-5 in the small blind. The flop is X-X-5 and there are at least 4 players in the pot. I check and everyone checks behind me. The turn is another 5. Now I lead out for $10. I get the BB to fold and UTG raises me to $30. Everyone folds back to me. I reraise to $100. Now he goes into the tank for a couple of minutes. The longer he thinks about it, the more I think he has the other 5 with a weaker kicker. He finally just raises me all in and I call right away. We both turn over the same hand. I curse my rotten luck and he is happy because he was afraid I might have a higher set for a full house. All that excitement for nothing.

A little while later I pick up AJ of hearts in middle position. I raise a couple of limpers and everyone folds behind me. The BB calls along with one of the limpers. The flop is all hearts and I finally flop the monster. The BB who was one of the better players at the table, bets into me for 1/2 the pot. The limper in the middle folds and I smooth call. The turn is a blank. This time he goes all in. I double check my cards and call. He had the K-5 of hearts for the 2nd nut flush. I doubled my stack right there, up to $400. What a great feeling when you can call with the nuts!

I left soon after to catch a movie with Chris. After watching Brave with Jodie Foster we headed back to Mandalay Bay to see if we could find a $10 black jack table. After wandering around for 30 minutes without any luck, I decided to head for the poker room. In my previous trips to this poker room they did not spread No Limit poker. Now that's almost all they do. I found immediate seating at a 1-2 table and bought in for $100.

My very first hand I pick up KQ and raise. A young hispanic guy with a cocky attitude calls from the blinds. The flop is misses me completely. He checks and I bet $15. He check raises me to $30. I fold and he shows pocket 2's. He was bluffing with the best hand, but for some reason it pissed me off. This is a weakness in my game. I should not care who beats me or who I beat. Just look for the best opportunity to win money.

Eventually I was whittled down to $50 and bought another $100. Then my luck began to turn. I picked up pocket Queens and raised from early position. The button called me. She was a decent player so I figured she had a decent hand and that also she may lay down to a continuation bet. The flop had an Ace. I decide to see if I can get her to fold and bet $15. She calls. Now I'm done with the hand. The turn is a Queen. Ok maybe I'm not done. I check and she pushes in her last $50. I call and she shows Ace-Ten. My three of a kind holds up and she goes home. Nothing like hitting a two outer to get someone's stack.

Later in a limped pot with 6 players I am playing Ace-6 in the small blind. The flop is A-8-8. Since there are so many players in the pot, I just check to see what happens. Everyone checks around. The turn is a 7. Now I decide to see if I can win this thing. I bet $10 and I get two calls. I am still not putting a lot of money in this pot because someone could be slow playing an 8. The river is a beautiful Ace. I bet $30 hoping for calls. The BB next to me curses and throws his hand away. The big breasted brunette at the end calls out of curiousity I guess because she mucks after seeing my hand. The big blind claims he had 7-8.

I believe that's what he had, however I can't believe he threw it away so fast. Did he even consider that I might have pocket 9's, tens, or jacks? However I was happy that I hit another two outer to win a pot.

I finished the Mandalay session up $46 and I finished the trip up $305. Finally a winning poker session in Las Vegas!

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