We got to Vegas at lunchtime and ate at Mon Ami Gabi, the Parisian cafe that overlooks the Bellagio fountains. Nothing like dining in France and viewing Lago di Como...only in Vegas. Teh food was excellent. We checked in and quickly made it to the Alladin for some $1/$2 NL (which is the only game I played). The game was very easy and I picked up $275 without much effort. The best players were not very good. No pros. We went and ate sushi and then played a little BJ while I waited for a spot in the poker game at Bally's. I won a little at BJ and finally got in the game. It was nuts.
They usually don't put the NL game near the passers-by because the rubbernecking causes traffic jams. However, when the game started that afternoon, it was the only table left. We had a hug crowd watching us. It was like being on the WPT. Money was flying around like nobody's business, with pots regularly exceeding $100. Somehow I got the table image of tight experienced guy. That happens when the other guys have never played before. I got up $250 by waiting for monster hands and milking the chips out of 2nd best hands. (On a side note, this is a new skill I have developed that deserves its own post. I used to bet my boats too heavily, but now I think I have mastered the art of betting just enough to get a reluctant call).
A smart person would have either cashed out or stayed sober. I am not a smart person, so I did neither. I found myself caught up in the bright lights and the attention that my $450 stack was receiving from the crowd. So, I did what I always do when excited - drink heavily.
I am not sure if the drinking was the cause or not, but there were two hands that made me lose all $450 + another $200 buyin.
Hand#1 Flop was 6-8-10 and I held AT. The only other guy in the pot was the tightest guy at the table. He always raised preflop with premium hands and limped with very good hands. He had limped, so I doubted he had AA, KK, QQ or JJ. I was hoping he had KT, QT, JT or maybe 99 or 77, all of which may call or may fold. Either way, I was going to be ahead. I made a huge bet for half his stack and he re-raised. Hmmmm...a tight guy check raised me. I would have to assume he has the straight, but he NEVER played crap like 79. Call. He had 79.
Hand#2 I floped the King high flush. He flopped the Ace high flush. When I flop the King high flush, I tend to bet huge to force out the Ace looking for the 4th of the suit.
I bought in again and played from midnight to 6:30am to get back all but $90 of my losses.
The next day I got a $80 cup of coffee (rather than paying $2, I played Roullette to get a 'freee' cup, which ended up costing $80), made some bets at the sportsbook, met David for lunch and then we went and played more poker at Bally's. The competition was hideous and David got a kick in the nuts when the worst player called David's big all-in bet with a gutshot draw. Guess what happened?
I had better luck. There were two hands in particular that helped me out:
Hand #3 I was dealt KJs and called a raise from the utg. I had position and had been winning a lot with hands like KJs. The reason that these hands were so profitable was that although I threw away a lot of cash pre-flop, I ALWAYS got a call when I hit the straight, sometimes 2 calls. The flop came Jxx. He bets something decent like $70. I am almost certain he has QQ, KK, AA. If so, I am beat. Well, there is one way to win this hand...."I'm all in. $160." He had that "oh shit" look on his face. He did all of his thinking out loud and after a couple minutes concluded that I had JJ. He folded and I won a big pot.
The number one reason I bet that bet was that I noticed that he was a pretty solid player but not much of a risk taker. My assessment was correct and paid off. It was at this point that I reflected upon my hand the night before when I lost to the flopped straight. My greatest strength is puttung a man on a hand. I think that booze impedes that ability more than any other ability. So, when I drink, I take away my biggest strength and give myself little opportuinty to win. OK, no more beer.
Hand #4 This was a thing of beauty. I played Q4s. I can see John grimace as he reads this, but you have to understand, nobody ever raised pre-flop. We had 7+ players seeing every flop. I got multiple callers when I would hit a big hand. It would have been stupid to not give myself every opportunity possible. Starting hand requirements droppped to include "but they were sooooooted hands, too". Flop comes QQA. Bets, raises and calls build a big pot. The turn is a Q and I am money. Only if a A comes on the river and someone had AA could I lose. Bet, Raise, I call. Turn is a 4. Bet, raise, I re-reaise and the BOTH call with an A to make Q's ful of A. I show the Q and scoop about $300 in profit.
I cash out up $313 and Jane and I go back for a nap. The 2.5 hours sleep from the night before weren't doing me any good. We checked out Bellagio and the place was a circus. The waiting list was long and I didnt want to strand Jane. We played video poker and drank a pint while we watched football. We went to Tiffany's and saw a pair of earrings she liked but we couldn't afford. Then I faced the decision of playing at Bellagio or Alladin. Jane could hang out with David while Kim and I played, so we went there.
We got to the Alladin for some more poker. Kim was already playing and I sat down at a table they created after I made the waiting list 10 long. The crowd included 7 undergrads. They had all seen Rounders and the WPT on TV and had the lingo down. However, they failed to pick up much strategy. We only played for about 1.5 hours and I picked up $95. This was easily the worst quality players so far and it was very hard to get up and leave, but we had dinner and show reservations.
While I waited for the 3 others to change I played craps and won $200. My only goal was to score a free beer, but the $200 was nice. We ate at the same sushi restaurant, Ah Sin, and made our way to the Luxor for Blue Man Group. I won $5 at BJ while waiting and then we saw the show. Fantastic. Absolutely beautiful. And the music was great. My main comment afterwards was "I really didn't smoke enough crack before the show..." If you have seen the show, you understand. I knew that if I played I would be up all night, so I crashed.
I played the next day and occilated around +50 and -50. I won a bluff on my last hand to win $6. I put it all on #23 at a nearby roullette table and lost.
Seeing as how I just won enough to cover the entire trip, I went back to Tiffany's and bought those earrings. I felt like Jim McManus getting that bracelet for his wife. I met Jane, David and Kim in the mall and we eventually made our way to the airport.
I won $820. That's $200 on craps, and $620 on cards. I only had one real losing session at anything, save the $6 roullette bet. We got back to Dallas and watched the Texas Tech v the money line (+$350) and Tech v the spread come through. Now, if Tennessee beats A&M, the total will grow to closer to a grand.
Overall, the competion was soft. They weren't the crack addicts on Party Poker that call and make a 2-outer to win. They are smart enough to fold when they should, which makes bluffing a more profitable play. But they hang onto pocket pairs all the way to the river and call too many bets on the river. They also tend to give away the strength of their hand too often. I think the competition at the Bellagio (from what other players told me) are much much much better. Add in the presence of a few Party Poker crack addict types and accusations of collusion and I don't think I would have had much/any luch at Bellagio.
Let's go Rocky Top. The Cotton Bowl is a 10-15 minute drive from my house, so I may sneak in tomorrow morning to start off the new year.