Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Working in Vegas, Part 2

I was actually working in Las Vegas, so I wasn’t staying out too late on the evenings where I was working the next day. I played poker those evenings at Binion’s, playing the $1/$2 No-Limit Hold ‘em game. I was done working on Thursday, and I had planned my trip so that I was returning early in the morning on Saturday. That allowed me to get some longer sessions of poker in on Thursday and Friday.

On Thursday evening I went to play at the Wynn. I’m sure you’ve heard me rave about the Wynn’s poker room. I played in a five hour session there, and after losing a couple hundred dollars I decided that maybe I should take a break and hit a club for the evening, so off to the Bellagio and the Bank I went! I don’t think I’ve ever dropped so much coin for a night of drinking as I did that night! It was a good time though. I was able to chat up a couple of local ladies while I was waiting in line to get in and spent most of the evening with them and their friends.

Friday I decided I would attempt to get into the Bellagio tournament. On Fridays and Saturdays their tournament has an entry of $1060. I really didn’t want to spend that much, but they do have satellites that cost $225 and the top two players get their entry to the $1k tournament, so I played in one of those satellites. After a couple of players were knocked out the remaining players and I noticed something on one of the televisions stationed around the poker room. The Monte Carlo hotel was on fire! It was obvious that the sign was on fire, and it appeared as though several rooms near the top floors were also on fire. I hope that no one was hurt, and if I was reading the screen correctly it appeared as though everyone was evacuated successfully. After the initial excitement of seeing the hotel next to us being on fire it was back to poker. I eventually busted out of the satellite, placing 4th. On my last hand I got it all in on a King-high flop while I was holding K-T. My opponent called with K-9, and the 9 and the turn ended my run at a satellite seat.

I was going to take a walk on the strip, but the news seemed to indicate that the fire at the Monte Carlo was causing a scene on the street, so I ended up playing craps for a while at the Bellagio instead. Luckily, I was ahead from playing poker during the week because I wasn’t getting so lucky at the craps table. After about two hours of craps it was back to the poker room for what I knew was going to be my last session before heading home.

The session started on a losing note when about a half hour in to the session my pocket Queens ran in to pocket Kings. The board bricked out for me, and I had doubled up that player. I added some chips to my stack by rebuying, and on the very next hand I decided to limp with A-5. The flop was pretty much what I was looking for: A-5-5. My opponent had an Ace, and I tried to give the appearance that I may be on tilt from the prior hand. It worked, and I was able to stack that opponent off. It was unfortunate for him because he had lost to A-5 just a couple hands prior to this when someone made a straight with that hand. The session moved along without any serious pots, but about a half hour before I HAD to leave for the airport I had the following hand. I was dealt pocket Aces in the small blind. There had been a raise to $25 and a call by another player, so when the action got to me I popped it to $85. The initial raiser went away, but the other player called. I wasn’t really worried since I had Aces, and the flop was: 9-7-2. This flop appeared pretty safe. Since there was already almost $200 in the pot and I had to act first I bet $125. My opponent moved all in for an additional $70. I had a bad feeling as I grabbed the $70 worth of chips, but with a $600 pot out there I couldn’t fold AA with that board for $70. My gut feeling was confirmed right away as my opponent showed me pocket 7s, giving him a set of 7s. I didn’t catch the necessary Ace, and since I had to leave in half an hour I decided not to rebuy.

My last two trips to Vegas have ended with big hands getting cracked, and I hope that I can end that trend on my next trip. On my last trip to Vegas my last hand there was KK and I lost a large pot. My next trip to Vegas should be the WSOP trip, so let’s hope that I can avoid the big hands getting cracked there!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Working in Vegas, Part 1

As 2008 began, I started to shift my thinking towards preparing for this year’s World Series of Poker. As part of my preparations I wanted to focus on some live play since the WSOP isn’t played over the Internet. I got the opportunity to work for a week in Las Vegas in mid-January, so I left a couple days early and planned my work trip to stay an extra day and a half after I was done working.

I started by playing at the Bellagio, and within two hands I found myself down my initial buy in of $300. I was dealt Q-Q, and with the blinds at $2-$5 a player in front of me raised to $25, so I reraised to $85. My opponent called and the flop came: K-9-x (x was either a 2 or 3). My opponent checked, and I fired $125 in to the $180 pot. My opponent reraised, and I was pretty much committed to calling since I now only had $90 left. My opponent showed me A-K, and I had to rebuy after I didn’t hit my Queen on the turn or river. I continued my tight play, and after about 6 hours, I had worked my stack to about $1400, putting me up approximately $800. I was looking forward to playing at the Wynn’s poker room, so I cashed out and headed over there.

I was able to get in to a $2-$5 game at the Wynn fairly quick, and because I was ahead from my session at the Bellagio and because of the stacks at the table I bought in for $400. At the Wynn you can buy in for as much as you would like. Most poker rooms have a lower limit and upper limit for your buy in. For example, at the Bellagio’s $2-$5 table the buy in range is $100-$500. There were at least three players that had over $2000 at the table, and one of those had over $4000 at the table, so I decided to buy in for the extra $100 for two reasons. First, if I got lucky and picked up a hand I’d be able to double up for more if I bought in for more. Second, big stacks have a tendency to try and put small stacks to “the test” for all of their chips. The more chips I have in my arsenal the harder it will be for them to push me around. After buying in I posted a big blind instead of choosing to wait for the big blind to get to me. Just like in my session at the Bellagio, hand #2 provided a significant change to my stack. I was in early position and was dealt 8-8. A player from UTG (under the gun) raised to $35. This is pretty standard in a game with larger stacks so I decided to call. Three other players also called and off to the flop we went. It came:

K-8-4 (two spades)

The UTG player who had initially raised led out with a bet of $125. I called, figuring that most players would exit the hand and I would be playing heads up against this player with my set of 8s. The player with a $4000 stack moved all in though as the action went around the table. The remaining players folded back to the UTG player, who thought for a long time. He had about $2000 in front of him, and I’m sure he was considering not only what I had and whether I would call, but even if I did call, there would be a significant amount of money in the side pot that was created by Mr. Big Stack. He mucked, and I called. As I turned over my cards I inquired, “You weren’t slowplaying Kings before the flop, were you?”. My opponent chuckled as he turned over A-K when he saw, to his horror I’m sure, that I had a set of 8s. The man was a foreigner, and he got visibly upset when he saw he was almost drawing dead. He actually took his stacks of chips and just shoved them into the pot, creating a mess. It took several minutes to sort out as the dealer and floor supervisor had to “reconstruct” the hand and betting so that I would get paid correctly. Apparently, the foreigner wasn’t used to losing. During the delay he got up and left, but I didn’t care since I already had doubled through him. I played for a couple more hours, and after losing about $150 of what I had won I thought it was time to quit. Not bad for Day #1!

Because I was going to be working the next couple of days I decided to play poker where I was staying, which was Binion’s downtown. I played in the $1-$2 cash game and made it a couple of bucks there. Binion’s holds a nightly tournament, which I got in to both evenings. The tournament had a $60 buy-in, with an optional rebuy/addon, if needed for $40. I had to rebuy, but was doing rather well in the tournament when the following hand came up. I was in the big blind when two other players and the small blind limped to me. I was dealt Q-9. I checked, and the board came Q-9-2, giving me top two pair. I checked, trying to get someone to fire a bet and I would then raise (also known as the check-raise). No one bet, and turn card was a 3. I checked again, thinking for sure that one of my opponents would bet since they had been pretty aggressive at the table. No one bet again and the river showed an Ace. I led out and bet this time, hoping that someone holding an Ace might raise. Well, I got what I wanted. A player moved all-in, and to call wasn’t going to cost me so it was an automatic call. My opponent showed me his A-2. Oops. That’s what I get for trying to get too cute with a hand. The hand left me as a shorter stack, and I never recovered. I exited in 9th place, which was a final table finish, but in a tournament that had 43 players they were only paying 6 spots, so I finished just outside the money. I’m still kicking myself for how I played that hand, especially since even with the limps the pot was a decent pot! Lesson learned.