Monday, February 25, 2008

Vegas is goooooot!

It was a pleasant enough flight to Vegas this time around. I left work at 3:30 on the dot so I could make it to the airport in time and it was a breeze. When the subway/airtrain combination is running well, it's the best $7.00 you could spend to get to JFK.

The flight was long at 6+ hours, but I was soon in the land of dreams and any discomfort I had washed away like a baptism when I spotted the Venetian out my taxi window. I got to the counter and got the keys to the suite. CK and Thomas G. has been here since the morning and I was going to find them on the gaming floor when I dropped my stuff off in the room. A note on the room; it was *pimping*. A big room with a step down living room and 2 queen beds with a huge bathroom that had a TV in it. Hooyah. Thank god for poker rates, right?

CK and Thomas were huddled around the Let It Ride table (where else?) waiting for me. We hooked up and went over to the poker room to check out the Friday Night action. I was pretty tired actually and the lines to get on the table were long, so we decided to hit the Grand Luxe instead for dinner and then see how we felt afterwards. After some catching up, the trip started to hit me and I called it a night. No poker yet, but there were plenty of more days to come for me.

I got up early (about 9:00a) and was sitting at a 1-2NL table at 9:50a. Thomas was on a military schedule the entire trip and he was normally up at 8:00a every morning! CK, on the other hand, slept through each morning as if she had been mainlining Ambien. Man, that girl can sleep! The action at the 1-2 table was pretty stale and I ended up ekeing out a tiny little profit, but I was jazzed to play. CK, Thomas and I hooked up for lunch and decided to blow off the Venetian for Caesars. I was happy to hop rooms during the trip because I needed to book official 'visits' for my "I'm playing in every poker room in America" tour. I've been to Caesars before, but never played there, so I was looking forward to it.

The room at Casesars is cool because it's behind the sports book in a completely closed off room that has no access to the casino. It's its own entity, which makes it very quiet. When we got there, there was a celebrity tourney going on, with Rollie Fingers, Bobby Slayton and Carrot-Top all in attendance. I put my name on the 1-2 NLHE, and the 4-8 O/8 lists and wandered over to celebrity-gawk. Carrot-Top and Bobby Slayton walked right by me and let me tell you, Carrot-Top looks 3x as freaky in person as you would think he does. His eyebrows are shaved and he has them drawn in pencil and his years of steroid abuse have him hunched over like a cartoon caveman. Just scary. But everyone at the tables I talked to said his show is great. Um...yeah. I'll wait for the HBO special.

I got sat a few minutes later at the 1-3 NLHE table, with Thomas and CK playing the same game at different tables. CK and I were both waiting for the O/8 game to start up and we kept calling out to the brush desk everytime they asked for confirmation of the list of players! My 1-3 NLHE play was not going so well and I lost half my buyin chasing a flush, but that was beside the point. I started the get antsy and got the stones up to go beyond my comfort zone and put myself on the 1-3 Pot Limit Omaha list. We were getting into tough territory boys and girls. Of all the games I was waiting for, wouldn't you know it? The 1-3 Pot Limit Omaha game was the one that got off! I was so nervous when I sat down for $300 at this game. CK was to my right and everyone at the table seemed to be licking their chops looking at me. It was comforting to be with CK but I was jelly inside.

Then something wonderful happened. What I like to call the "discomfort effect". Instead of being outplayed and brutalized, the higher limits actually forced me to tighten up and wait for premium hands. I didn't waste one or two small bets with marginal starting hands, so I kept my stack up. When I had great hands, and flopped well, I pushed hard. In the end, we played for 2.5 hours and I was up at the end of the session! I even attempted a bluff, which didn't work unfortunately. I had a wrapped straight draw to Broadway but missed every street. I had bet the flop OOP, but checked the turn and my opponent checked too. When the board paired on the river, I fired out $50 into a $75 pot. He hesitated, counted out his chips and nearly folded, but then said "this is such a bad call" before making a great call. He had top pair, top kicker. Bleccch.

The game was volatile and people were busting out quick. Each time, we would try to recruit new players from the brush desk but people were skittish about Pot Limit. So we made a deal at the table to try doing a mixed game of 1-3 Pot Limit Omaha Higha and 5-10 O/8. But when people started coming over, we found out that Pot Limit was still not attractive, so we ended up dropping it entirely. CK was actively trying to recruit from a nearby 4-8 HE table and she got the attention of two loud guys who seemed to more interested in her "rack" than her rack. She kept trying to get them to sit down and prove their 'manliness' but they declined unless she "sweetened the pot", so to speak. But she got in the zinger of the night when they finally picked up from their low limit HE table and made one last crack at her. She yelled out as they left, "I hope you shrivel up and die". The ENTIRE room burst out laughing and they left with their tails between their legs. Score one for BWOP!

We had a great time telling the table that they weren't going to get any Jewish players to come play "PLO" but even though they called it properly ("Pot Limit Omaha"), we still had to switch to a full 5/10 O/8 game for another 4 hours or so. I ended up being slightly even there but had such a great time that I didn't care. We went back to the Venetian where we starting playing table games and doing a little drinking before calling it a night. Pai Gow was brutal to us that night. After dropping a bit at my wheelhouse table game, CK suggested we try her game, Let It Ride. She's been telling me for weeks that she doesn't lose at this game, but somehow I didn't believe her. Well, I basked in her ruckbox aura that night. CK, Thomas and I all ponied up $300 at the $15 minimum table and proceeded to lose, hard. Even the drink girl never came around. I mean, what's the point of playing a negative EV game if you can't make up your losses in alcohol. The tables behind us had a girl who made FOUR visits to them before we even saw one person. We called the pit boss over and complained but he told us, under no uncertain terms, to go fuck ourselves. So CK organized a "sit-in". We refused to play a hand until we got drinks. That did it. The girl appeared and rudely took our double orders (in case we never saw her again). I had a Mojito, and it was pretty good, being my main drink these days. I was down to my last $45, just enough for one hand, when CK told me that I had to play my last hand "blind". No pulling back bets, and no looking at my hand. What? Are you serious? She was, deadly. Well, I tend to wither under her gaze so I did what she told me. The dealer flipped over 8s2s and I moaned that I would need to pair up in my hand or hit a miraculous two pair to make money. I had already lost the money in my mind. The dealer flipped my cards and spread them ever so slowly, with dramatic flair. The first card I saw was Qs. Hey, an overcard! Good stuff. The next card was 9s! Hey, getting better. I prayed for a Queen or a spade and the last card....3s! FLUSH!!!! We screamed and gave each other high-fives like we had just hit the Mega-Millions!! Wow, what a win. 8-1 on my $45 = $360. I played four more hands, none of which hit, and I walked away even on the Let It Ride session. The BWOP 'aura of ruckboxiness' had held and the legend grew...

In the morning, Thomas and I had breakfast at the Luxe, with CK sleeping hard. We decided to walk around a bit and hit some other casinos, especially as the $550 deep stack tourney had taken up all the cash tables at the Venetian. I *almost* registered for the tourney but ended up not doing it, convincing myself that I would do better at cash. We walked out into a seriously nice day out on the strip. Temps must have been about 75 degrees or so and we made our way over to the Bellagio. The room at the Bellagio is storied, but overrated in my opinion. The only good thing about it is the action. 2-5NL is the smalled NLHE game they spread. I wanted to play middle limit, so I got myself seated at the $8/$16 game and proceeded to CRUSH it. Two hours after sitting down, I was up $400+ and Thomas and I left to head back to the Venetian. It feels good to rack and run. :-)

On the way back, we called CK, who was still in the process of getting herself acclimated. We passed by the Imperial Palace on the walk back and decided to see what all the fuss was about. Dawn is always raving about this place and it *is* a fantastic location for such a mediocre looking hotel. It's a few hundred feet from The Venetion, Bellagio and Mirage with a very short walk to Treasure Island and the Wynn. Good company. The poker room was less impressive. 8 tables in a smoky and loud area, with two 1-2NL games and 2 $4-$8 games going. What popped my eyes, though, was the size of the stacks at the NL game. The average stack size was about $600, with one guy sitting on nearly $2000! At a 1-2 game! Thomas and I sat in with very puny $200 stacks. I sat patient for a few hands and was treated to some sick sick action. There were three canadians at the table, two twins and their chubby friend, who were pushing the table around. A young gun at the end of the table (no Crasians amazingly), finally got sick of the bullying and made a sick play at a big pot. The betting pre-flop was something like a raise to $25 and 3 calls. Bully twin fired a $100 bullet at the pot on a King High and got called by young gun. Turn was a brick and twin fired another $100. Young gun came over the top for $250 more, which left him $100 behind. Twin bully folded after going into the tank and young gun flips over Queen high. OMG, I was so hoping to take a slice of this action. It was hard, though, with a short stack because I couldn't fire any real bullets. I made some money on KK, but sat tight otherwise. Thomas, who should know better, lost a chunk after flopping a set on a 3 flush board and then calling all the way down when the fourth club hit on the turn. We left quickly afterwards because we were frankly outmatched and outstacked. Better to move to easier climes. But boy I want another crack at the cracked out table. Go IP action!

We made our way back to the Venetian and got a light dinner before heading up to the Wynn. There was a juicy 10-20 O/8 with a half kill going and I put myself on the list. I called up CK and convinced her to come over, which she did and sat with me until the game broke just past midnight. It was a good session for both of us as there was a known calling station at the table and he paid off every hand he was in. There was one hand where it folded around to me in the small blind with calling station on my left in the BB. I asked if he wanted to chop and he refused. "Nothing personal," he said. OK. I know some people are like that, but I tend to win these hands when people don't chop. I had Ad 8s 3d 6d. Not a terrible hand. I called and he promptly raised. Ok, buddy. You're in for it now. I called and saw a flop. 4d-5d-7s. Hello nut straight! "Uh, oh," I said, "I flopped it". I bet out and he called. Turn was 2c. Hello nut low! HAHA!!! "Uh oh," I said, "I'm even better now!". He didn't believe me and called another bet from me. River was Kd! Another nut high! Nut/nut feels good, don't it? I bet one more and he called again. I showed him the bad news and the table laughed it up at the guy. Teaches him to raise my SB, the bastard. :-)

It was a great day for me, and I'm glad it was, because it would be the last good session I would have that trip. I went back to the Venetian and accumulated a few poker hours by donking it up at 4-8 HE before going to sleep. When we got up in the morning, the $330 Deep Stack tourney had, once again, taken up all the cash tables. Note to self, don't try to book the poker rate during a big tournament series! Thomas and I hopped a cab over to the Orleans just in time for me to enter the O/8 tourney, the best Omaha Hi/Lo tourney in Vegas! I did really well up until the second break and then I missed two big draws to get chopped. I was all in with 30 players left (out of 95 to start) with AA27 single suited, but couldn't hit a thing. I couldn't get onto a cash game because the waits were so long so I played Multi-Hand Blackjack for a quarter a hand on a slot machine while waiting for Thomas to finish up his session. The way the Multi-Hand game works is that you get 7 hands to the dealer's one. It's like you're playing a full table by yourself. The button for hit and stand are right next to each other so you're constantly using your middle finger and index finger to flip quickly between the two. I was up about $2.00 when I made a big mistake. Instead of hitting the HIT button, which deals a new hand, I hit the STAND button, which is the same button for MAX BET! Oh crap! Before I knew it, I had bet $90 on one frickin' set of hands! Damn it. I played slowly and carefully, getting good hands for 6 out of my 7 dealt hands and one black jack. The dealer then proceeded to bust with a 26! SWEET!!!! I won a $65 profit, nearly paying for my O/8 tourney buy-in!! Sweet lady luck. I cashed out immediately and Thomas and I headed back.

At the Venetian, my good streak came to an abrupt end when I lost a chunk playing in a short handed 4/8 O/8 game and then donked off a whole bunch more playing 4-8 HE for 5 hours late into the night. I blame the 4-8 HE loss on the very very hot asian girl who sat next to me for the whole night chatting me up. She didn't win either but we had a great time talking. I was *shocked* to find out she was turning 40 next month because she looked 27 at worst. You can see my distraction....

Thomas left on a plane that evening and CK and I were leaving the next evening. We got up late to check out and ended up having a nice dinner and a last cash session at the MGM Grand, a tradition for BWOP. I got up the nerve to sit at the 2-5 NL table for the first time ever. It was relatively mild, and if it hadn't been for me chasing a relatively cheap draw with two overs and the nut flush draw, I would have been up for the session. We got to the airport in just enough time to check in and get to our gate.

The flight home was uneventful except that I probably made a mistake taking the redeye. It was the first time I had done it and the morning after was brutal to me. I'm scheduled to take the redeye back from my Southern California trip in May, but that's probably the last time I'll try it. Too hard.

Vegas was awesome, as always. Don't know when I'll be back, but I'm itching already.

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