Posted by Johnnymac 7:16 PM
I was in Vegas over the weekend for some sports gambling and poker. This is the first time I have ever been there for a football weekend and it definitely won't be the last. We had a blast - wake up early and grab breakfast, then head to the sports book to make our bets before sitting down in a poker game for the rest of the day. Not counting 3 hours of play on Monday morning (see below), I broke even on about 29 hours of poker and sports gambling and the only money I lost outright (-$150) was during two what-the-hell sessions of $5 blackjack. I have no reason to be upset about this because blackjack is designed for the player to lose and I had no illusions to the contrary when I sat down in the game.
Until this weekend, I had always played in the smallest limits that were offered - 2/4 and 4/8 holdem, mainly. For this trip, I I resolved to move up to the next limit so as to test myself against better competition, so I played mostly 6/12 and 8/16 holdem at the Mirage and Bellagio, respectively. I was pleasantly surprised with the results. Both games were much tougher than the little games - not necessarily tougher to beat, though, just tougher - mainly because they didn't have as many angry young posers or drunks and instead had more local players and semi-pros. There were still 2-3 loose tourists or foreign guys sprinkled in there, but without the implicit protection offered by playing with a lot of other bad players, their bad play got exposed a lot more and they seemed to lose more often when entering the pot with sub-standard holdings. For example, I got excited in these bigger limit games because I often was able to steal the blinds a few times or even occasionally chop my blind with another player, two things hardly ever happen in a wild low limit game. This was enjoyable because I was finally in a game where more advanced concepts mattered more towards winning than simply catching cards and outdrawing the other people at the table. It was rewarding to see Sklansky in practice rather than just as an idealized concept.
Anyway, I played well for the first 29 hours or so and I was pleased because I certainly wasn't the worst player at the table and I never got the impression that I was in over my head with much better players as I was fearing.
So what happend in the 8/16 game on Monday that was so different than the weekend? I hit a lot of second place hands and things got very expensive all at once. Then, to top it all off, once I got down a little bit and had given back all of my winnings and some more on top, I started to overplay some hands and call too many raises in the hopes of making a comeback. While I didn't go crazy and start playing any two cards, what I did was still a form of tilt. That is, I let my emotions influence me into making worse plays than normal, and I think it was mainly because the amount of money involved was a little higher than my comfort level. So I learned something.
The 8/16 was a good game, but I was ever so slightly in over my head and I'm probably not ready to move to that level (or 10/20) just yet. However, I am going to start playing some higher stakes than just the little-bitty games from now on, and I'm excited to know that I have reached to point in my game where I am ready to do so.
Maybe I didn't end up winning money in Vegas this weekend, but I did learn a lot about the quality of my game and that counts for a lot.