MONDAY, JUNE 25TH
I’m at a Four Card Poker game and the dealer’s been kind of rude. I peel my cards one at a time: Q
. I gasp, and the force of it wakes me up. In my dreams, right?
It’s 8:00 A.M. I finish yesterday’s TR and transfer the pics from my camera to the computer. I post the one from Saturday and think about whether Steve will consider letting me play in the $2500 today, because that could well be my last chance at a WSOP shot for long time to come (maybe the fact that I won the satellite yesterday will help). I ask him via text, but he says he’s positive we can’t do it, though he wishes otherwise, and in fact I need to cash in those lammers so we can play today. Guess he’s hit his cash limit, so it’s good that I shipped that tourney yesterday so the fun can continue comfortably.
The WSOP satellite plunder from yesterday. Got to do something with those lammers…
Steve says he and Summer are getting breakfast. I ask if he’d like me to join them, but he says that I don’t want to be around her this morning as she hasn’t said a word to him; however, I can go anywhere and charge it to the room. I thank him and grab breakfast at Central. It’s quite good, with possibly the best orange juice I’ve ever had. I swing by the room – still haven’t heard from gobbo, unfortunately – and head out toward the Rio at Steve’s direction, needing to get cash for the lammers from someone in line for the $2500 event (or hopefully Jimmy, if he contacts me).
Once I arrive at the Rio, I spot Dennis Phillips, who always seemed like a nice guy. I approach and ask if he can help me out with the lammers. He says he would, but he already has a stack of them. I say that’s all right and wish him luck. Then I go stand in front of the registration room, hoping I can find someone to help me out. Several people go by and I’m feeling uncomfortable with the whole thing. It’s tough to approach people, essentially with a hand out (they don’t gain anything tangible by helping me, even if it’s free to them), and be rejected. Thankfully, a tall guy with glasses named Michael stops on his way to the cage and helps me, trading me $1500 in cash for my three lammers. I ask if he’s on 2p2; he says no, so I tell him he will be now (in my TR) since he did such a nice thing for me. Hopefully it will translate to good fortune at the tables for him. I’m a little disappointed I didn’t hear from gobbo, though, since I had planned to take a fun pic of our exchange for the TR.
Steve texts and says to meet him at the Bellagio poker room, where we can play in the $230 deepstack this afternoon with the cash I’ve obtained. I hop a taxi over there, musing that we did sort of end up indirectly paying a small vig on the trade in the form of cab fare. Steve still hasn’t arrived by the time I make it to the poker room, and he says I can play cash until the tourney starts. That makes me happy, since I haven’t had a chance to do that yet and it’s really where I have the most experience. I hop on the 1/2 NL list and they start a new table shortly thereafter, where I buy in for $200. I’ve heard a lot about the Bellagio poker room but have never played here. It’s a really nice place, unsurprisingly.
The high-quality poker room at the Bellagio, home of Bobby’s Room.
I’m in the 6 seat at this table; I choose it intentionally because there’s a pretty lady in the 7. (It’s not that I want to sit next to her, but rather that I think she’s less likely to be aggressive and problematic on my left than other players.) On the first hand a guy goes raise-bet-bet/call all-in with 4
that flops nothing and turns a flush draw (he didn’t have the odds to call). He gets there on the river against the old Asian guy who had a set. Nice. Not long after that I get T
in the small blind. It limps around, and I make it several big blinds to go; the old guy limp-pushes for about $70. I call him with a shrug; the board comes out Axxxx and he mucks and leaves when I show my hand. A very nice start. I take down a few pots with raises after that.
On the next orbit, I have 6
in the big blind. There are several limpers, the small blind (a guy slightly older than me who might be good) completes, and I check. The flop comes 3
. I quickly check; there’s a bet and a bunch of callers, then the small blind raises. I decide to just flat him and hope that the turn doesn’t kill my hand, and another player calls as well. The turn is a J
; the guy bets and I jam. He doesn’t take too long to call; he has 6
and I take his whole stack. Total set-up in my favor. On the next hand I have A
but don’t get any action. Still, boomswitch activated! I let Steve know via text that I’m up to like $375 in half an hour; he’s impressed.
Pleased with my progress so far and not seeing any tough spots at the table (I was right that the girl to my left isn’t playing many hands), I start to open my game up a bit. The table takes notice but doesn’t play back, thinking I’ve just got good hands every time. Eventually I raise 5
in the CO and only get one caller, the 4 seat. The flop doesn’t give me much: 4
. He checks, and I decide to check it back. The turned 6
gives me a beautiful open-ender, so I bet when the player checks to me. He calls, but I don’t sweat it. The river is a perfect 3
, and even better, the guy bets out $30 into me! I don’t wait long before I overpush all-in, and he can’t get away from his hand. “Nuts,” I say, rolling over the unorthodox starting hand, and he sends it all my way before leaving. I’m pretty clearly the table captain now.
Wow, what a fantastic start at the Bellagio!
I’m all the way up above $800 by this point after playing some pots well without showdown, and Steve shows up (joking as I’m texting him, “Sir, no texting at the table.”) and I step away for a moment to tell him about the incredible heater I’m on. He asks if I’ll still play in the tournament. I think about it and ultimately decide that I’m a lot happier at the cash table, and I’m a cash specialist at heart anyway. He says that’ll work and goes off to play.
I go a few orbits without anything big happening, getting up near $900 and then sagging down to just a bit over $800 when some players pick up hands in small pots. I text Steve and he advises me to take off if I get down to $700, because a $500 win is great. I agree.
Not long after, I squeeze on the button with Q
. A European girl in the big blind who hasn’t been involved in many pots coldcalls, and another player comes along. The flop is just what I’m hoping for, K
. Two checks to me, I bet, and the girl checkraises. The other player folds, and I decide to just set her in. Unfortunately, she rolls over J
, not the hand I was hoping to be up against. The turn bricks out. “Clubby!” I say, and the river is the 8
! She’s a little disgusted of course but doesn’t say too much as she departs. Well now I’m just in god mode.
Wow! Was not expecting this kind of run.
Shortly after this, a young Brit sits in the 5 seat to my right. He’s both knowledgeable and friendly enough to be right on my conversational wavelength, which works out nicely. I find out his name is Steve. There’s also an old guy who’s been kind of the rules sheriff (letting people know when it’s on them, telling them not to talk during hands he’s not even in, etc.) and has switched seats three times, finally winding up to my left when the pretty lady leaves. I talk with him about our respective lives (his is that of a retiree, consisting mainly of poker and golf), but don’t get his name. I play some pots against Steve the Brit but he always seems to draw out on me. I lose as little as I can, considering.
There’s a point when I get J
on the button and 3bet. An Asian girl in the 1 seat asks how much I have behind before acting. I kind of laugh, flipping through the hundred dollar bills and saying, “Enough.” She ponders for a moment and cold-calls. “So she’s telling me she has a small pocket pair,” I mutter to Steve the Brit. Another player calls as well. The flop comes A
. They both check and I decide to check as well, figuring I probably won’t win this one but I might make a play on the turn, depending. The turn doesn’t change whether I’m ahead, an A
. They both check again, and I bet this time, thinking the guy doesn’t have anything and the girl probably doesn’t. This time, she raises. I don’t buy that she has an ace here, and I don’t think she’d continue to bluff the river. I decide to make the call, which should slow her down with anything except a monster. The river comes T
. She bets big. “So, you’re telling me you have pocket twos,” I say, and fold. She says that I’m right, and I believe her. The table wants to know how I knew that. “She told me,” I say. (Maybe I’m saying too much, but the table’s already plenty scared of my stack and I’m riding high.) “What’d you have, something like pocket jacks?” she says. I confirm. One of us clearly has an edge on the other, though it’s hard to be certain with this little data. If she bluffed there, kudos to her.
I get K
on the button. UTG raises, 3 players call, and Steve the Brit reraises. I think about what I’m going to do, and then decide to throw six bills in, covering everybody. I get some agonized looks, but eventually they all fold, with Steve laying down what he says is AK, and I pick up a very nice pot with no sweat. Steve wants to know how much to see what I’ve got. “Ten bucks,” I say, not thinking he’ll go for it. “How about two?” he says. “Five,” I respond. He agrees, and before he can pay the girl in the 1 seat flings a red chip at me. I roll over my cowboys.
Not long after that, Steve the Brit raises in early position. I decide to flat with T
, because the table hasn’t been active enough to make me fear a squeeze (and I’ve been 3betting plenty, Steve noticed, so I want to switch it up). Indeed, there are a smattering of callers, including the 1 seat in the SB and the 2 in the big, an older Hispanic guy who’s been a little bit rude and talkative. And my good luck hasn’t come to an end yet, because the flop comes a remarkable 6
. Steve continuation bets and I call. The girl in Seat 1 calls as well, then the old guy (nursing a half stack or so) pushes all-in. Steve folds. I act like it’s a tough decision, then call. The girl calls as well. The turn is a safe Q
. The girl checks, I push, and she ultimately calls all-in. When she sees what I have, she calls for the dealer to pair the board for her 6
. (The old guy has J
and is drawing dead.) It’s just this dog’s day, though, because the river is a king and I win the huge pot. As I’m stacking my chips, she replays the hand and wants to know why the old guy didn’t reraise with his jacks. Oh, well!
That girl’s kind of tilted now, which leads to this hand: I have K
and she raises UTG. I call in late position, to see what I can see. The flop is a relatively sparse T
. She bets, and I decide to call and see if I can take it away from her on the turn. The turned K
changes the situation, though, and now I’m betting for value when she checks to me. She comes along again, leaving about $80 behind (she didn’t start full-stacked). The river is the 7
and she quickly pushes what she’s got left in. I have a decision to make, and I’m leaning towards calling but not sure. Then I see her pick up one card and show it to the guy next to her. That makes my decision very easy. I call. Sure enough, she’s got the A
and a J
. She killed herself with that action, because it was apparent to me what she had as soon as she did that. I take her money and she leaves the room.
Umm, yes. Yes, that’ll do nicely.
The last memorable hand occurs when I get 3
. I raise and the sheriff, to my left and with position, 3bets. I have more than enough set odds, because he probably has the second-biggest stack at the table (over $300 behind), so I call when it comes back around. The flop rolls out T
. I bet out into him, and he raises to $75. I think for a while, and something in my gut tells me it’s the right time to go for it. I push all-in. He hems and haws, looks like he really wants to call, but just can’t bring himself to do it. He says he’s folding a pair higher than the board, and I buy it. Living on the edge for a minute there, huh?
Eventually I realize I’m feeling hungry enough that I might not be able to play as well as I’d like to for much longer, so I take a walk to get something to hold me off until dinner (Steve has told me we’re doing sushi with Summer after he’s done with his tournament). When I get back to the table with my minestrone from Snacks, Steve the Brit has finally taken off with his girlfriend as he’d been threatening to do for a while. Steve (the American) texts to tell me he’s out of his tournament and it’s time to go. I leave the table with a little over $1800, and the memory of a dream run that I’ll never forget.
Steve wants to settle up, so I give him the cash and he allows me to keep a bit under $600 in cash and chips for myself. Awesome. He heads back to Caesar’s to clean up. I go to the craps table for a bit. While there, a fat guy comes up and throws down $650 on the Hard 6 and hops the Hard 6 for $50. The next roll is a Hard 6, making him well over $6000. Wow. He takes down his first bet but leaves $25 on the hop, just in case. Another Hard 6, another $1500. Run goot! He doesn’t stay long, but I find out he’s a graphic designer from Utah. (Later I’d run into him at a table game at Caesar’s and discover that his name is Brad.) I finish slightly ahead, continuing the absurd run-goot, and head out when Steve contacts me.
I meet Steve and Summer outside Hayakumi in Caesar’s. I haven’t seen Summer for a few years, but she’s as pretty as ever. Still, I can tell that she and Steve aren’t really getting along, as they sort of make snipes at each other through the evening. They’re as polite as they feel they can manage for my sake (not that it matters all that much to me), and I resolve to keep it positive, especially with how awesome I’m feeling after that incredible session at the table.
Steve and his on-again, off-again main squeeze Summer.
We order dinner – I get the second-cheapest meal on the menu, which still costs $79 – and some sushi as an appetizer. We talk about the state of online poker, with me doing my best to keep it in terms a non-player like Summer can understand, and then the conversation moves into what she’s been doing lately (hobnobbing with the CEO of Hooter’s, for one). All in all it’s a great evening, and I think by the end of it the two of them are feeling a little bit better about their relationship. That was my goal, anyway. They’ve both said and done some pretty horrible things to each other, but at the end of the day I think they’ll probably be in each other’s lives for a long time. So I figure I should encourage them to make that as pleasant as possible.
After dinner, they want to play some video poker, which Summer is considered lucky at. I watch for a while, but it’s pretty dull, so I wish them luck and go off in search of my own fun. Caesar’s is too expensive and too crowded, so I go back over to the Bellagio, thinking about sitting down at another poker game. Once I get there, though, there aren’t enough 1/2 or even 2/5 games running (Bellagio’s mostly for the higher-stakes players) that I could get on anytime soon, so I go to gamble instead. There’s an empty craps table, so I ask if it’s been cold or if they just opened. One of the crew, Louie, remarks in a roundabout way (via an analogy about stocks) that it doesn’t really make a difference if the table’s been cold. I acknowledge the point but say that you can’t play this game for very long without becoming a little bit superstitious. “Don’t think of it with superstition,” he says. “Think of it as a dance of numbers.” I think that’s kind of awesome. I end up staying at the table until very late at night, seeing lots of people come and go and having a couple multi-point rolls myself. I am on the verge of losing what I’d put down to play with, but go on a good run at the end and decide to leave once I’m close to even. Although it’s so late, I decide to try out the Clue slot game I’ve been eyeing. I don’t normally enjoy slots, but the ones that are more atmospheric/video game like (e.g. The Hangover, Dark Knight) have been quite a bit of fun. And sure enough, it is a lot of fun and my money lasts for a good long while. I enjoy the narration of the game and it reminds me of the Clue books from when I was a kid. I finally get a chance at the “Solve The Mystery Progressive”. The murderer (Mrs. White) and room (the Study) are already given (thanks to other players failing previously), but there are 4 weapons left to try. I decide on the revolver for a reason that makes sense at the time, and as it turns out I’m “absolutely correct” and claim the cash reward of about $200. I immediately cash out and leave, stumbling back to my room at around 3:30 A.M. It was just my day!
The cherry on top of one extremely lucky Monday.
TUESDAY, JUNE 26TH
I’m woken up by a call from my mom, who’s apparently forgotten what time zones are, and even though I get back to sleep and actually start the day much later, it’s not enough. I end up being tired and having muddled thought processes throughout the day. Steve agrees to put us both in the 2/5 NL game at the Bellagio, and it starts well enough – I 3bet with QQ and take down a reasonable pot with my cbet – but then I slip up. I have K8o in the big blind and see a bunch of limpers. On a board of K
, I bet out twice into a halfstacked old guy and check/call his push on the river, pretty convinced I’m good. But I’m wrong, as he rolls over KJ. I’m down to about $270 and ask Steve for a rebuy so I can play my game properly, but he says the $500 is all I get for the day. I survive for a little while, losing some money trying to hit sets and failing, until finally I limp-push ATo UTG when the button raiser has KK. I’m busto, and by coincidence Steve busts from his game at exactly the same time. I find out that he decided to call a three-way all-in with nothing but a gutshot on a 2-flush flop; I ask him why he did that, and he says it’s because he doesn’t give a f***. Well, I do! d-:
My fatigue-based negative outlook continues through the day, despite multiple failed attempts to take a nap (I just can’t get the sleep I need in order to improve things). It permeates to my gambling, also, and I lose quite a lot. It’s my last full day in Vegas and it’s pretty well a failure, unfortunately. The only good thing that happens is that Steve tells me that Summer wants me to come to dinner with them, back at the Noodle Company No. 9 (of course she’s not to know we’ve been there already), before they go see Celine Dion. Dinner goes well because I’m careful to monitor my behavior (which trends toward the dickish when I’m this tired). I talk with them about my upcoming fatherhood, and Summer mentions that my wife must be the disciplinarian because I’m “so kind”. Means a lot to me, even if it’s way off-base IMO. (-: After they leave, I isolate myself in the hotel room as much as I can, to avoid losing more, but at one point go downstairs and do so anyway. Ends up being an extremely costly and not all-that-fun day. I’m finally able to get to sleep late at night because I think to take a hot bath/Jacuzzi first.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27TH
I wake up feeling better than yesterday, though Steve doesn’t join me downstairs right away. I win before he arrives, but then he convinces me to really
degen it up (including 2 rolls of $50 min craps) and of course I lose horribly. By the time I wish Steve and Summer farewell to head home, I’m close to broke, but that’s okay as I didn’t bring anything I couldn’t afford to lose. Caesar’s got so much of my money! But it was an awesome trip, and worth every penny. Steve made money on me, which is fantastic! I mean, sure, he didn’t keep any of it due to gambling and partying, but still. Not my fault. I head to the airport and before long I’m on my way back to the real world. I’m coming back here with Lauren in a few weeks, actually, but it’s more family duty than vacation.
So was it my best trip yet? I think so. It’s hard to match the excitement of the first time back in ’08, but finally booking a win (overall) means a lot, and the angst of past years was absent this time. Instead, I focused on meeting amazing people and having a great time. To me, that’s what these trips are supposed to be about. So that’s the end of my Vegas trip reports, at least ‘til I’m retired… Now bring on family life.
Various pics from the last couple of days:
A late-night tuna burger at Central.
The final meal before I headed home.
On the way out of Caesar’s.
See ya, Vegas!