So, by way of introduction: Iím Adam. I used to be a winning micro/small stakes grinder, but I havenít played nearly as much online since Black Friday. This is my fifth consecutive year playing in the World Series of Poker. I wrote trip reports for my first three trips, here:
2008 Trip Report
2009 Trip Report
2010 Trip Report
They were enjoyed by many 2p2ers, some of whom relished the chance to visit Vegas vicariously, and others who liked my writing style and my unique take on things. Others didnít like them, but felt compelled to read and comment anyway. Some were in between. The common negative theme was that I was a mooch with my rich backer, Steve (and before that, Andrew Robl, my previous employer and first WSOP backer). Iíll own up to that. The other frequent criticisms were that I gambled too much and am not especially good at poker. Since I have a certain susceptibility to emotional swings, I let the haters get to me a few times during previous trips and even decided not to share a trip report last year. I started a write-up of my brief 2011 trip, but later on in the year both it and my pictures from the trip were lost to a computer virus that tanked my system. Nothing all that memorable happened while I was there, either, so apart from my tweets (@warteen, which Iíll be updating again this year if you donít want to wait for my write-up), that trip may as well never have occurred. I figure Iíll suffer the negativity I risk this year in order to avoid having that happen again. That, and I know there are enough people who legitimately enjoy these write-ups to make them worthwhile.
Quite a bit has changed for me in the last couple of years. I finished my second degree at MSU as well as my intern year as a high school math teacher Ė Iím looking for work now, but the job market in Michigan is pretty brutal. Also, my wife and I have our first child on the way in October, a son. I say this is my final trip report because Iíve agreed with my wife that since the kid is on the way, I wonít be doing this trip without her anymore Ė and I have to figure that I wonít have the time to write one if we go together (or with a kid in tow). Iíve undergone quite a bit of personal growth as a result of my internship (which was extremely trying), marriage, and impending fatherhood, but obviously Iím nowhere near where I want to be yet, so try not to be too hard on me. Iíll say preemptively that I intend to gamble (but play more poker than before), and I fully plan to let Steve pay for anything he offers to and not feel guilty about that (he can afford it, I canít very well, and heís been exceedingly generous with me up to and including covering my gambling expenses at times). However, after reading previous yearsí TRs in an effort to better myself, I see that I need to be careful not to be a cheapskate with the little money I do have or manipulate/guilt Steve (or anyone else) into taking care of me. Iím sure you guys will keep me honest on that front. Honesty, I think, is the main thing I have to offer. That and my mad writing skizz-nills. If you donít like any of that, stop reading now and save yourself a headache/douchechills (in b4 ďtoo lateĒ). (-:
Iíve taken previous trips that were too long (12 days, 8 days) or too short (4 days), so this time Iíve planned to make it a worthwhile trip and not overstay my welcome/budget (5.5 days). Since itís my final trip of this type (i.e., without my lady), and Steve and I havenít had any success at the WSOP previously, Iím going to do everything I can to make this the best trip I ever take. To that end weíve both been practicing tournaments over the last few weeks; heís improved tremendously (with the results to reflect that) and despite my bad run, I did manage to break through to a final table recently (and finished 3rd in that large $11 MTT) and, I believe, make my game better. With the sheer amount of poker weíre playing on this trip, Iíll be disappointed if one of us doesnít make a deep run in something.
The other thing Iím planning to do is not be quite as quick about posting my TR as I have been in the past. This is a measure of emotional protection, I suppose. Iím posting as much as I have now, and then the next entry likely wonít come until Iím at least halfway through the trip. Iíll still be active in the thread(s), and I hope thatíll encourage people in Vegas to come meet up with me and be part of my journey. Especially since, for the first time, my good friend Jason (MSUpokerGOD/JDLade) isnít joining me Ė heís just started an internship of his own in Chicago Ė and Steve has his girlfriend flying out, so it might be a little lonelier than before if I donít broaden my social horizons. Iíve met so many awesome people, 2p2ers and otherwise, in my previous outings. I hope this year is no different.
Okay. That said, I hope you find this enjoyable, for whatever reason. I hope that whatever I write here doesnít reflect too poorly on me or on the God I serve (the extent of the proselytizing Iíll do here, with apologies to those who take exception). If I canít pull that off, at least Iíll have a detailed record of these halcyon days to look back on. Letís get started, shall we?
FRIDAY, JUNE 22ND
My wife and I wake up at 5:05 A.M. at our home in DeWitt (north of Lansing). I split my toe open last night in the dark, which hurts like a mother, but other than that everything is set up for my trip. I eat some cereal, bid our pets farewell, and weíre off. Lauren feels sad Iím leaving; I remind her Iíll be back Wednesday night, which isnít so long at all. I get out at the airport and say goodbye to the woman I love. I have her snap the first of many pictures from this trip before she goes.
Me, at the onset of the trip, trying to display the kind of confidence that will ultimately deliver victory.
Iím quickly through security Ė small airports are great Ė and on the plane. Steve texts me and says my room at Caesarís is set, and heíll contact me when he wakes up, wishing me a safe trip. This is a short trip from Lansing to Detroit departing at 6:00 A.M., and itís unremarkable. I continue to reread A Storm of Swords
and the flightís over before I know it. Iíve got a two hour layover in Detroit, so I bust out my laptop and write exactly what youíre readingÖ rightÖ now. Woah. I also watch some TV shows on my computer (MasterChef Australia Season 3, since Iím a reality competition junkie and Iíve already seen all the good American ones), because thereís no free internet here. At this point thereís still an hour to kill and nothing else to write about, so Iíll just, uh, stare off into space I guess. (A+ TR so far.)
Me, waiting at the airport. Not every moment can be exciting, people.
I finally get in the long line to board the plane, reading my book, and I realize I could definitely use another hour or two of sleep. Perhaps when I get there. My seat on the plane is an aisle seat near the front, which is nice, and next to a cute girl, which is also nice (but ultimately meaningless since Iím spoken for, and Iím guessing itís her boyfriend sitting next to her). At one point I glance over and notice that sheís looking at bikini pics on her phone, possibly of herself, which is mildly interesting I suppose. Out of duty to my readers, I consider taking a stealth shot of her, but I ultimately decide that would be inappropriate.
About halfway through the trip my laptopís battery dies, so without a lot else to do I end up talking to the girl a bit. Her name is Ashley, sheís a 21-y.o. bartender and ex-gymnast, and Iím familiar with the area she comes from. Sheís in Vegas for a friendís wedding, so I give advice she might find useful from my Vegas experience and we talk about assorted things. The trip comes to an end at around 10:00 and though I lose track of Ashley before I can say adieu, Iím happy to finally be in Vegas. I take a call from my wife Lauren, and she tells me that the stray cat we took in the other night has feline leukemia and had to be put down. )-: I head down to the taxi concourse, where the line is the longest Iíve seen it.
Hooray, Vegas! Öhooray, lines.
I look for someone to share a cab with to cut down on cost; I find a couple headed to the Bellagio who agree, but then join up with someone they know instead. Eventually I ask a father and son, Clarence and Mike, if theyíre heading to the Strip, and they confirm that theyíre on their way to MGM. That seems a bit far from Caesarís from what I recall, but Iíd be happy to save the dough so I ask if theyíd be willing to split a cab with me. They oblige, and we head together to the MGM Grand. On the way, the lady cab driver asks for the spelling of some names for an electronic game, and Iím happy to find I can correctly spell Maserati and Lamborghini. When we arrive, Clarence says the cab is his treat, since I have to walk. I thank him profusely and wish the two men luck on their trip. That worked out nicely! Or so I think, until I grasp the length of the walk in front of me.
My first look at the Strip this year, after I emerge from a detour through MGM Grand.
Itís a long way to Caesarís, there in the background, made longer since Iím carrying my luggage. (Or lugging my carryage.) The Cosmopolitan was new last year, and I think the shops on the right are new this year.
Yikes. I start walking, cutting through MGM to the Strip, and then realize Iím hungry to the point of feeling weak. Steve mentioned getting food after I got here, but heís probably still out cold and the time zone change has messed with my stomach. I duck into Subway and get a breakfast sandwich to hold off my hunger, convincing the girl to give me the combo deal that didnít quite apply to the one I ordered since I hadnít spotted the sign in time (and tipping her in thanks with the extra money Iíd have spent). The sandwich is seriously, like, manna from heaven. It gives me the strength to continue lugging my gear to Caesarís. The Strip is much as I remember it, though theyíve put up a few new buildings since last year, I think. Tons of street performers abound Ė I see a Batman, Elmo, Hello Kitty, Iron Man, human statueÖ Lovers of performing and needers of money come from all over to glean a living from folks walking around with abundant cash and a desire for cheap thrills.
I check in for the room that Steveís gotten comped for me a little after 11:30, putting my credit card down as insurance. Iím in Augustus Tower, one of the nice new ones. Unfortunately, I find out that internet access here costs 15 bux a day. Yikes again. Iím not willing to get ripped off like that, so Iíll have to figure something else out to get my fix. Iím pretty tired at this point, so I update the TR and watch ESPN while I ponder taking a nap.
The room I got to stay in. I know beggars canít be choosers, but Iíd probably choose something like this anyway!
I pass out until 1:45 or so and see that Iíve missed a text from Steve, enumerating another secret Iíve got to keep from Summer (choose your colloquialism, I suppose), and his room number. I decide to grab a shower and change clothes first, because Iím kind of grimy from the plane ride and it feels almost like a new day Ė I could be up late. I realize that the one thing Iíve forgotten is a comb, but I make do and head out. Downstairs I get a $2 comb at the gift shop thatíll serve, and meet up with Steve in his fancy villa in the Roman Tower (the same one heís had the last 2 years).
Steve and me, in one of the side rooms to his villa. The goal is for one of these faces make it the front page of wsop.com before the trip is up.
Also there is his cousin Brett, who I believe I met last year. We catch up about what theyíve been doing since they arrived on Wednesday (partying, mostly, though I already knew that Steve played in Event 38 at the WSOP), and poker plans for the trip. He mentions possibly playing on Carbon Poker, so I tell him my wireless situation. He says heíll get that comped, too; we just need to switch it so that the roomís on his card rather than mine. We then decide to grab dinner at the Noodle Company No. 9 downstairs, which made for a really good meal last year. Steveís friend Adam (A.K.A. ďThousandĒ) shows up to join us, but this is the extent of his entourage this year, until he discreetly flies them out before Summer arrives on Sunday.
Brett and Adam at dinner. Does Adam have the crazy eyes? I feel like Adam has the crazy eyes.
Dinner for me is roast duck, which comes out cold and not as tasty as I would have liked. But thereís fried rice and good company, so I leave full and happy. Steve and I walk by the craps table, and he wants to play a bit; at a $25 minimum, though, Iím not going to be foolish enough (or degen enough) to want to do that Ė at least not yet. So I just keep him company at the table, which is fun for me because I havenít gambled in a couple months to build up for the trip. After Steve wins a bit of money (including on my own roll, which the stickman lets me do despite not playing), I encourage him to set some back so we donít lose too much, because he has a limited roll (a lot of his funds are tied up in Silver right now) and we want to be able to play enough poker. So when a few bad shooters come, we walk away from the table with him down only two hundred (which is pretty small for him). I still havenít gambled yet, which is good I think. I donít want to overdo that. We swing by the Diamond Lounge (ooh, free cookies) to do the credit card switch.
We all head back up to the villa and Steve says heís going to take a ď30-45 minute power napĒ. I sit with Brett and watch old SNL episodes on TV. Over an hour later, Steve hasnít emerged (heís been going at it a little too hard if you ask me), so Brett and Adam decide to head down and play some blackjack. I go with them, and when they canít find a suitable table I introduce them to Three Card Poker (and explain the very simple optimal strategy) instead. I plunk down some of my own money to join them, since itís just a $5 table. We have fun with that for a bit, and run pretty good against the dealer, so Adam and I are both up when we leave. Theyíve been having room key issues, so Adam goes to the desk to sort that out, Brett goes off in search of blackjack, and after getting a new rewards card, I try without success to find Brett. I end up wandering by the sports book and the poker room, just taking it all in since I havenít been here in a while. No more gaming for me at the moment, though. I realize that despite my nap, Iím still a little groggy. I probably canít do a crazy amount of poker tonight. But thatís okay, because tomorrow Iím going to be playing in the WSOP event. Eventually I go back up to the plaza, and everyoneís there. Steve says heís got a headache and is going to sleep for another hour (which could mean longer). I suggest that he sends me ahead to the Rio to try a few satellites Ė again, not intending to play past my capacity Ė and he agrees, flipping me a $500 chip and saying heíll meet me there later. I run back up to my room to update the TR before I go, because if I let it go too long Iím likely to lose some details (which might not seem valuable now, but I think Future Me will appreciate them). I plan to get on the internet later on tonight; even though itíll be comp points for Steve, I still donít want to order more than I need. So one 24-hour session starting late tonight to post this, and then weíll go from there. For now Iím off to the Rio, intending to get some caffeine once I get there.
Another angle of the Strip, from outside the front of Caesarís before I head the Rio for some pokah.
Once the taxi drops me off, thereís no easy caffeine to be had, but I feel ready to jump into a satellite anyway.
The Poker Pavilion set-up at the Rio this year. Even after all these trips, itís still staggering for me to see this much poker going on at once.
Game #1: $175 STT
Iím in the 7 seat for this game. Itís only 1000 in chips, and my strategy here is going to just nit it up when thereís poker to be played and exercise perfect pushbotting at other times. That gives me enough of an edge over the field. The table is pretty quiet, both verbally and in their play. Raises are enough to take down most pots in the early going. I pick up a pot that makes it to the flop early with top pair. Still at the 25/25 level, however, I raise late position with KQo, and the big blind, a black guy with sunglasses who I find it impossible to read, calls. The flop comes J-hi and I fire a small cbet, which he calls, then on the A turn I decide to carry on, but he calls that too. I give up and he rolls over ATo, hurting me. Iím low for a while, but double up with AA>AKo, then start playing poker again. I get AQo 3 times in the ensuing levels, pushing and repushing without getting looked up. I show every time, because I know that when Iím inevitably pushing with crap I want them thinking Iím strong. At one point I make a nitty laydown of 99 vs. a push from the Asian guy to my immediate right (probably the second-friendliest guy at the table), and he shows AJo after taking it down. I build up a good stack, but Seat 1 is always ahead of me and abuses my blinds. Eventually he and I are in the final 3 with my friendly neighbor, and weíre all playing fairly standard with a lot of aggression and folds, because nobody can pick up a hand. This goes on for several orbits, and Seat 1 has well over double the chips of both me and Seat 6 near the end of the 150/300 level. He proposes a deal, though, after the first one he thought of wouldnít work with the payouts offered: Weíll chop everything 3-ways evenly, and the two of us each give him $100 cash. I look down at my cards on the button as heís saying this: 62o with around 7 big blinds in front of me. Furthermore, I like both of these guys Ė I learn the 1 seat is Danny, the 6 seat Jay Ė and Iíd love to start my trip with a win in poker, so Iím happy to take the deal. (As Iím talking to them, I find that both guys have folded some pretty strong hands to my pushes, so my effort at creating a table image seems to have paid off.) By the time the payouts are resolved, Iíve turned $175 into $440 (and cash into a lammer, but thatís okay because Steve and I will be buying into events). A strong start, as far as Iím concerned.
I go back toward the desk, still feeling fresh enough to play another one, and the desk man is holding onto one 175 ticket, so I grab that and go again!
Game #2: $175 STT
Iím right back in the 7 Seat again at the very same table. Hopefully I can duplicate my run. As I get seated, a fellow player in a Batman shirt says, ďHey, Warteen!Ē I smile and ask him to remind me who he is Ė he says that he met me once, 2 years ago, but since Iíd recently reread my 2010 trip report, thatís enough to jog my memory: Itís 2p2er spoonfox! Heís in the 1 Seat. I talk with him a bit, surprised he remembers me. He says he really enjoyed my trip reports, which I guess made me memorable, and I appreciate the compliment. I let him know that Iím working on another one as we speak. On the first hand, a girl cripples herself bluffing against the old guy with a trucker Ďstache in Seat 3, and I notice in subsequent hands that heís a super-passive calling station, and I see him limp KK once and pick up a pot with it. He runs really good and builds quite the stack. This table is a lot more talkative and outgoing than the last one, which suits me fine. At one point I come up with the line, ďAn eight, a jack, or a punch in the faceÖ Any one of those things would have knocked you out,Ē to the tableís amusement. I wait patiently for a hand and donít get one until the 25/50 level when I have about 875 chips left Ė I pick up AA in the big blind. The button, a young guy, raises to 225. Iím thinking about what I might do here but ultimately decide to just shove after shuffling my chips indecisively. He looks me up with KQo, then is disgusted that I shoved instead of doing whatever he wouldíve done. LOL, leveled. I double through him, and build a nice stack through continued tight play. Spoonfox gets coolered (AT vs. 34 on an A34 flop) and busts, the talkative fish to my left finally goes out in 5th after hanging around for a while, and suddenly Iím the chip leader with 4 to go.
Thatís where we pick up the action: Iím the big blind at 150/300 with roughly 4200 chips. (Yes, the structure is super shallow.) Cutoff folds, button (the super-passive calling station with 2k or so behind) limps, SB (decent-ish old guy, also 2k behind) completes, and I look down at AJo. Iím torn here. Iíve seen the button limp with KK already. But on the other hand, my hand is begging to see five cards and these guys might well fold since I comfortably cover. Go on,
something inside me says. Do it. What are the chances heíd limp-trap twice?
So I push all-in. Button beats me into the pot and rolls over QQ after SB folds. A queen flops and about half my chips are gone. The very next hand, I openshove my SB into the BBís ~1500 stack with T6s. He wakes up with KJo. A 6 flops, but a J turns and Iím all the way down to 500 after being the big dog two hands ago. I double up with Q8>J9 on the next hand, and after that I shove 89s in the CO/UTG. The big blind really looks like he doesnít want to call, but he saw my T6s push and ultimately does call with K9o, and just like that Iím out in 4th. Sad times. I pat him on the shoulder, say ďnice handĒ, and make my exit.
I realize Iím too tired to play another game just now, and Iím a bit hungry as well. I text Steve to see whatís going on. He says theyíve saved me some food from room service and I should come back to maybe go to the club with them. I hop a cab back to Caesarís and enjoy the food at their villa. I call Lauren and wish her good night. Steve agrees with my AJ play (questionable) but not the T6s SB push (super standard IMO). Heís a bit of a nit TBH. I need to go back to my room and charge my phone (and update the TR obv), so I tell Steve to call me when he knows whatís going on, letting him know that I might not go to the club (much as Iíd like to get some pics, thereís really nothing else for me there and Iím getting pretty tired). The text comes shortly thereafter; he asks what I want to do. ďGambool a bit, then sleep,Ē I respond. ďOkay, Iíll give you $500 to gamble with, meet me at the craps table now?Ē Uh, yes. Okay, good. Wasnít expecting that, but not going to turn it down. At the table ($25 min), Steve takes out a $2000 marker and puts down some bets. He loses them all very quickly. He puts down some more. Those are quickly picked up by the bad guys, too. One more round of losses ensues. Disgusted, Steve decides to go back to the room to prepare for the club. He gives me $500 in chips and bids me come with him to pick up the lammer Iíd left there. He decides to give me another $840 in cash along with the $500 lammer and the chips heíd given me - $340 to play with tonight, and everything else to buy into tomorrowís event. Thatís mighty fine, since I donít plan to be out much longer anyway. We agree to leave by 10:45 or so in order to register at the Rio. I say goodbye, reminding him and his boys not to party *too* hard because we have some poker to crush tomorrow.
I take a look at the Caesarís craps tables, but theyíre all full and, yep, too expensive. So I venture forth onto the local Strip in search of something more reasonable, so I can extend the fun and not blow all of Steveís money right away.
Caesarís Palace comes alive late on Friday night. With this many people, itís going to be hard to find much to do.
The Strip by night. The only other place Iíve ever been thatís impressed me more with the sheer overwhelming nature of it was New York City.
I end up at Billís Gambliní Hall and plop down a hundo at a $10 craps table. Unfortunately, the dice arenít any kinder to me than they were to Steve, so I lose quickly and head out. I walk in one direction, then the other, going through the Flamingo and Paris, not doing much. I roll for a while at Paris, but only finish slightly below even. Itís not even that much fun, because of how worn out I am, so Iíd best quit soon. I notice the teeming mass of people outside, most of them pretending to be something theyíre not. (What? Where did that thought come from? Man, I am tired.) I realize Iím running out of gas and still want to do some writing tonight, so I trudge back to my room, arriving around 2:00. I originally woke up in Michigan about 24 hours ago, so I figure that while I can get the writing done tonight, the posting will have to wait.
Iíve done a lot in Vegas today. Maybe too much; Iíve still got a lot of time ahead of me. But itís been a good start to the trip all the way around, and Iím ready to rest and hopefully be refreshed and prepared for whatever faces me tomorrow.
To be continued! (Probably on Monday.)