Join Date: Mar 2009
Re: Things to Do in Vegas When You’re Degen (A Low Limit Trip Report)
When I finally found my way to the Aria I was on the brink of dehydration and my body was going into withdrawal from not having gambled in almost an hour. I stumbled through the near empty casino, following the signs towards the poker room where I aimed to satisfy my thirst for whiskey and low stakes hold’em. The brush standing behind the poker room podium was a sight for sore eyes – a glorious desert oasis. I almost wanted to poke him to make sure this wasn’t a mirage.
Now I was pretty schnozzed at this point, but I was surely not going to let my inebriation stop me from further satisfying my vices. I needed to put my sober game face on to make sure I wouldn’t get booted out of the joint before I had the chance to post a single blind.
“Hello good sir, I would be interested in participating in one of your 1 dollar – 3 dollar no limit Texas Hold’em games.” (Damnit, I was laying it on too thick!)
However, no need to panic - based on his reaction, I think I could have had a syringe full of heroin poking out of my arm and he would’ve thrown me in the first open seat. “Oh yes, right this way, my man!” he said enthusiastically as he guided me to a nearby table. A chip runner wasn’t far behind grabbing me $200 worth of chips. The table was composed of people in their mid-20s to mid-30s and everyone appeared to have an alcoholic beverage in front on them. Good stuff.
“We have a rule here,” said the cheerful guy to my left, “If anyone wins a pot with 7-2 offsuit and shows it, everyone else at the table has to drink a shot.” I nodded and wiped away a single tear streaming down my cheek.
“Are you okay?” asked the guy’s girlfriend sitting to his left.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m just so happy you’re all in my life right now.”
And so it went. It had to be about 3:30 AM by this point but there were several tables still going with new players continually coming into the games. The Aria had just opened a few months earlier and everything was so pristine. The chips were new, the felts were new, the chairs were new. So nice. While the poker room was hopping, the same couldn’t be said for the casino proper which, I had noticed on my way in, was relatively deserted. That didn’t bode well for such a new Vegas property. I suspected part of the reason was that you needed a goddamn Sherpa to find the place. However, it was the early morning of a weekday in July, so who knows. Also, the economy, et cetera, blah blah blah.
The rumours I had heard about the Patron were true. Within minutes I was sipping on a tumbler of the stuff. I had never seen top shelf tequila served in a poker room before (for free no less). However, I had never thought to try ordering it before. The only reason I knew Aria served it was because a day earlier I was playing at Caesars and an ornery fellow tried ordering a shot of Patron and was told by the server that they didn’t have it. Compounded with having lost a large all-in pot in the previous hand, this sent him into a tizzy – he slammed his fist on the table and he shouted, “Bull**** casino! They have it at Aria. Okay gimme a shot of Cabo then.”
“We don’t have that either.”
“Cuervo then, CHRIST!”
Kid likes his tequila, I guess.
So anyways, I was enjoying my time amongst my tablemates. Everyone was tipping the servers liberally so the drinks were coming fast and they were coming aplenty. I also got off to a great start when I flopped a K-high flush with Kh-9h on a 2h-7h-8h board and I got it all-in against someone holding Ah-8x and my flush held. With my stack over $400 I was feeling pretty good. The nice guy to my left – a roofer from Des Moines named Mason – was keeping me in stitches with his ridiculous table banter. He was one of those personable and amusing guys who seemed more concerned with having fun than actually winning money (but without trying too hard to be funny). I played one hand against him in which I held AKo and the final board read Q-T-T-2-J with a three-flush. Suspecting he had a lone Q, I really should have extracted more value from him but I messed up. As I was thinking about my decision he said, “Hey man, why is your penis hanging out of your pants?” Given my recent sensitivity to my unzipped fly I gave a quick glance at my crotch and he shouted, “Ha, I made you look!” The whole table was in hysterics and I’ll admit I thought it was pretty funny. I ended up just checking for some reason and he checked behind with A-Q. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I’m not a very good player – I don’t have that killer instinct to stack off a nice guy.
The 7-2 offsuit rule only came into effect once when a cagey fellow bluffed the snot out a poor soul holding two-pair on a A-K-J-T-4 board. After he showed his 7-2 offsuit, there was a celebration at the table that might have suggested we were about to divvy up a bad beat jackpot. Nahhh, we were simply giving ourselves permission to get drunker.
This is the kind of atmosphere that makes me love playing poker in Vegas. There’s something unique about the Vegas poker experience compared to the one you might get back home in your local poker joint. Back home, I actually live less than 5 minutes from a poker room but I rarely go. I can’t stand sitting among the same lineup of degenerates and villainy. The locals in my poker room are there every single day and they do nothing but complain about how horrible the poker room is. They spend their days deluding themselves into believing that they’re eking out some kind of meaningful existence playing $1/$2 no limit with a $5/pot rake and, because they spend 8+ hours of their waking lives playing low limit poker, there’s not a thing that’s interesting about them. Not an ounce of intrigue. And the stories…goddamn. They have a sick compulsion to tell the same inane stories over and over. I’ve been to that local card room a dozen times and I’ve probably heard the one about the straight flush versus quad 5s that didn’t qualify for the bad beat jackpot at least 20 times. I knew I had to stop going when I seriously contemplated sticking my hand in the automatic shuffler just to numb the pain of having to listen to Paul rib Jason for the 100th time about that time 2 years ago when he incorrectly folded Kings preflop versus Queens.
But Vegas has a different feel. Each year I come to Vegas I can walk into any of the dozens of poker rooms and it’s a brand new lineup. Not only that, most of the low limit players are tourists and they come from all walks of life. I like to meet new people, find out where they’re from, what they do for a living, what sports team they follow, how many shemale hookers they’ve nailed on their trip so far, etc. And for the most part, people in Vegas are there to have fun – they’re not a bunch of miserable frucks sitting around a rock garden all day.
Of course, in Vegas you’re still going to come across your fair share of a-holes. And just like Adam Carolla has his list of “Guys I Can’t Hang Out With,” I have my list of “Guys I Can't Play Poker With”:
-Guy who wears aviators at low-limit games or home games
-Guy who thinks quoting Rounders at the poker table is funny/relevant
-Guy who wears poker apparel (e.g., PokerStars cap, poker shirt that says "I got the nuts") non-ironically
-Guy who has to give a full replay of every hand he's involved in (we know, we were there when it happened 10 seconds ago)
-Guy who always announces that he "would've won that hand" had he played his rags
-Guy who feels compelled to justify every play he makes, no matter how bad his play is
-Fat guy who refers to poker as a sport (also non-ironically, of course)
-Guy who only loses when he's unlucky (and lets you know about it)
-Guy who orders elaborate meals at the poker table (not the time nor the place for spaghetti and meatballs)
-Guy who constantly uses sophisticated poker terms at low-limit casino tables (save it for your book, Sklansky)
-Guy who tries too hard to use "intimidation" at the poker table (your pile of $1 clay betting disks does not scare me)
After about an hour of festive play at our table, a grade-A dill hole was moved from another table to fill a vacant seat. This dope encompassed at least 4 “Guys I Can’t Play Poker With” in one. Mirror sunglasses – check. Poker apparel – check (some horrid Full Tilt shirt). Indignant whenever he does not win a pot – check. Criticizes the play of others by using terms like “polarized ranges” – check. Plus a garden variety of other poker douchiness. Johnny Serious sat down at the table and carefully unloading his rack of reds like he was placing a row of Fabergé eggs in front of us. My buddy Mason to my left informed him of the 7-2 offsuit/tequila rules and his terse reply was, “I don’t think so.” He then proceeded to order a pineapple juice. I’m not sure if he also ordered a tampon with his drink but, to be fair, I couldn’t quite hear his order from across the table.
Johnny Serious was quite fond of giving out sarcastic advice to our tablemates:
“Nice bet – it’s great that you’re betting pot into 4 players with only top pair” (chuckle, chuckle)
“Hey, keep trying that bluff. You’re only going to get called by the top of my range.” (guffaw, guffaw)
“Post oak bluff eh? Save that for the kiddie game down the street.” (chortle, chortle, snort, snort)
Jesus Christ I wanted to reach across and slam his face into the felt. He turned potentially one of the most fun poker tables into a goddamn poker funeral. I immediately pegged him as someone I would go out of my way to try to beat (probably another reason why I’m not a profitable player). He was very aggressive and I ended up bleeding off about $100 to him in various pots in which I tried to call his preflop raises in position to flop something and take advantage of his 100% c-betting. However, I kept missing flops by a mile.
Finally, with my stack at just over $300, I called his preflop raise of $12 with A-To on the button along with 3 others. The flop was A-J-T rainbow. He bet out $35 from early position and one other player called behind him before it was on me. I didn’t know whether to just call or raise. I was fairly certain I was ahead of both players but I feared that if I raised Johnny Serious would fold. There’s nothing I like better than catching a cocky bluffer, so I certainly didn’t want to lose the opportunity to do so. I called. The turn was another Ten. Bingo. Johnny Serious bet out $70 this time and again the other player called. Now I was really confused. I was almost certain Johnny was on a complete bluff and I was hoping the other guy was slow playing KQ so I called again. Before the river I couldn’t even conceive of a bad card but then it came – a Jack. Now the board was A-J-T-T-J no possible flush and I held A-T. I beat any Ace, any Ten, and KQ but now I couldn’t beat a Jack which I hadn’t considered previously. Johnny Serious immediately moved in. Christ. I played it so terribly. Now I had no clue. I was going to fold if they other guy called but he thought for some time and then finally folded. Now I was faced with a decision for my whole stack in which I had no idea whether Johnny had a random Jack and it was my fault for playing it so badly. I thought about my situation – I was still only in for one $200 buy-in at the Aria and I had $400 left in my pocket. Not bad if I called and lost. I could head back to the hotel with some profit since Greeky left me at the Luxor. Whatever. I closed my eyes and pushed my stack across the line.
I opened one of my eyes. Nothing had happened. I turned to Johnny Serious – he was just sitting there, doing nothing. Prick. Okay, so that means he either has a garbage hand or he’s slow rolling me. Either way, I was going to make this sonofabitch turn his hand over.
“I called you fella,” I said.
“What do you have?” he asked.
“I can’t remember. I’ll have to look at my cards again. But first you have to show your cards because I called you.”
“Whatever,” he said before sheepishly turning over A-6.
“Full house,” I declared and flipped over my A-T. “I win the game and you lose.”
Morgan jumped from his chair and shouted, “Canada!” (that was his nickname for me) and he gave me a high five. Johnny Serious took off his sunglasses and shook his head. It was one of those pure moments at the poker table that you’ll always cherish – I beat the faux-pro who thinks his poker poop doesn’t smell. But really, it smells exactly like poop.
“God I love this game,” I said raking in the $700+ pot.
“Two more Patrons for me and my wealthy friend,” declared Morgan to the nearby waitress. Yes, please!
…to be continued