Sunday, March 22, 2009

Las Vegas Trip Report

I went to Las Vegas for the opening round of the NCAA Basketball tournament on Thursday and Friday. I expected to play a fair amount of poker against young fraternity guys all pumped up because their team won, or drunk and angry because they lost.

My friend Chris, along with Bill, and Henry were the gang ready to cause trouble. The problem was that I am the only trouble maker in the bunch. For the trip Chris and Henry played exactly zero hands of black jack. The only bets Chris made were with Bill for $10 each on the the tournament games. Bill played black jack with me for about 1.5 hours and went to bed at 10:30 on Thursday night. Henry had only been to Las Vegas 2 times and does not gamble.

Friday afternoon while watching my Arizona Wildcats run over Utah, Bill decided that he would rather leave early and try to sleep in his own bed on Friday instead of spending the night in Vegas and leaving very early the next morning. What sane man with a wife and 3 kids at home is in a hurry to leave Vegas? Especially when he is winning?! Bill had just won big bets on ASU and U of A.

I guess the city of Las Vegas was counting on me to help their economy. The trip started on a sour note as I had to pay Bill $500 from the lost golf bet. My goal was to try and win it all back by the end of the trip.

We arrived at the Paris hotel at 8:30 AM and took in the buffet. It was a decent selection highlighted by the Crepe making station. After that we decided to play black jack until Chris arrived. Once again, the black jack tables were not kind to me and I lost $130 playing on a shared bankroll with Billy.

Needless to say, I grew weary of the blackjack table and was jonesing to play poker. I left my friends for a few hours to walk over to the Caesar's Palace poker room. I jumped into a $1-$3 No Limit game and was soon making money again.

On the button I picked up Ace-Seven offsuit. There were two limpers to me and I raised to $12. I got one caller in the Big Blind as the limpers folded. The flop was 7-9-J.

The blind lead into me for $20 and I made the loose call. The turn was an Ace. He checked and I bet $40. He calls. The river is another beautiful Ace. He checks again, and this time I bet $100. Somehow he calls again and I win a nice pot. He did not show but I'm guessing he must have had a Jack with a King or a Queen.

Some time later I limp along with a few others with 22 in late position. The flop is 5-5-7. An early position limper leads out for $10 and everyone folds to me. I don't know if I believe he has anything so I call thinking maybe I can take it away on the turn. Unfortunately another player calls behind me in position so now I am probably done with the hand.

However the turn card is another 2 giving me 2's full of 5's. Now the early player leads again for $35. I decide to try and bring along the player behind me so I just call. Once again, the player behind me does not do what I want because he folds.

The river is a King. He bets again, this time $65. I had initially put him on a 7 with maybe an Ace kicker, but now I am believing that he has a 5. The question is should I raise him? I don't have the nuts and there are a few hands that beat me. However there are a lot more worse hands that will call. I pushed all in for $165. He stared me down for a while and eventually called. He made a comment about "nice catch" so I think that confirms that he had the 5 but he did not show his hand either.

I left Caesar's Palace up $300 for the session. I met up with the rest of the guys and hung out in the room watching the day's games. We decided to have a steak dinner at "The Strip" in Planet Hollywood Hotel. I had not been in the hotel since it opened and I was pleasantly surprised. It had a hip and exciting vibe and was definitely more busy than Paris. The restaurant was great although I could have done without the $7 split plate fee per diner. The 23 layer chocolate cake was fantastic and 3 of us could not even finish the one slice they gave us.

After the big dinner my non-gambling friends did not want to party. Bill wanted to go to bed and Chris and Henry wanted to walk around on the strip. I decided to stay and play poker at Planet Hollywood. Their poker room is a bit of a disaster as it is right in the middle of the gaming floor and is only separated by velvet ropes. It's very hard to hear and it's not all that comfortable.

I sat down at a $1-2 No Limit table and right away I began to get annoyed with the player in the one seat. He was in every pot and he would take a really long time to make his decisions. Some of them were a little ridiculous as it was obvious that you either call if you have it or fold if you don't. Finally on a board of 7-8-9 one player bet, the one seat min raised, and the original bettor went all in for $100 more. We waited about 2 minutes while he hemmed and hawed. I had had enough and told the dealer to put him on the clock. The dealer complied and the player looked at me with daggers and said, "Do you have someplace you have to go? Are the blinds going up?"

I calmly told him that I felt he was taking too long and I would like to play a hand. He eventually made the call only to find himself crushed. He had 5-6 for the 9 high straight, but his opponent had Jack-Ten for the Jack high straight. Apparently that busted him because he got up from the table. He hung around for another hour talking to his friend at the table but he never bought back in. It's a shame too, because I really wanted to see how he would try to attack me at the table.

I had bought in for $200 and had lost $50 in various small pots over the first 40 minutes. Then I picked up pocket Kings in late position. There was an early raise to $10. It folded to me and I made it $30. The intial raiser made it $100 and for a brief second I considered that he may have Aces. But I really wanted to get it all in, so that's what I did. He called with the Aces and unlike AIG, I was not bailed out by catching a King.

That session at Planet Hollywood was a loser and I think I left around $250 at the table.

The next day I had a $300 up swing again at Bally's before the U of A game. I also bet $100 on the University of Arizona in their game against Utah. They won easily and I was rolling.

My last session was at the Venetian. There was one big hand of note and I'm not sure if I played it correctly. It was my third hand at the table and I was in the small blind. Five players limped in for $2 and I completed in the small blind with 5-2 offsuit.

The flop was 5-3-2 with a flush draw. I lead out for $10 and they all fold except for a late position player who raises me to $30. I thought that maybe he had a small over pair or maybe a flush draw, so I moved all in for $165 more.

So what hands could my opponent have that would call my bet and be behind? Maybe tens or Jacks? Maybe a suited Ace with a pair on the board?

Looking back, I think the proper play may have been to call the raise and see what happens on the turn. If I still think he is on a draw and it doesn't come on the turn, I greatly improve my chances of winning the pot and I can bet less and still have my opponent making an easier incorrect call.

The problem with moving all in is that most of the hands that will call me are the ones that beat me? That is what happened here as he turned over the A-4 for the wheel. I did not hit any of my four outs to the full house and I was broke in 3 hands.

I bought in for another $200 and played the next 4 hours into the night. I left with exactly $200. I was never up or down more than $50 for the rest of the night.

So overall I broke even for the trip in gambling if I don't include paying Bill for the golf.

It also made me smile that when I got home, I had an offer from the Harrah's company to book my room for the World Series of Poker at some really cheap rates for the summer. Stay tuned.

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