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Old 07-17-2018, 12:01 PM   #1
Rimlog
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Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

I have enjoyed a lot of trip reports here over the years, so I thought I would have a go.

This thread will tell the story of a visit to Vegas based around the 2018 WSOP Main Event. I will begin with a spoiler, which is that I fell early in the Main, but I went with a lot of fallback plans, based on the various series that run alongside WSOP. It might be interesting to anyone planning to have a go at the Main Event, and unsure of when to book flights, or what it is like to be in Vegas if you bust out. Another mini-spoiler (I’m home now as I write this) is that I did end up having some success in my fallback plans.

This will also be a disappointment for anyone looking for grisly details of the seedy side of Vegas. The trip was heavily poker-based, and if I did have some degen moments (which may or may not have happened), they won't appear here.

A little about me first – I am based in Ireland, and semi-retired from a career in software start-up companies. I had good fortune with a couple of them, which gives me quite a lot of freedom to combine voluntary work, travel and poker, so I am in the lucky position to be able to treat myself to a larger buy-in event from time to time.

I am a recreational player, but I take it reasonably seriously, and do a bit better than break even overall. I play mostly $215 to $1050 No Limit tournaments on PokerStars, and I have probably played about 50 multi-day live events, mostly at the PokerStars Festival level. I tried the Main once before, in 2016, without success. I have made a handful of final tables in large Sunday PokerStars tournaments (not the Million, unfortunately), and a few deep runs in live events, so I don’t panic if I find myself at a table with big names, live or on-line.


The previous time that I played the Main, I booked flights and hotel to cover the entire event (apart from the November bit), and felt afterwards that was not the best plan. This time, I booked a homeward flight to coincide with Day 7 of the Main, thinking that I will be more than happy to miss the flight if I am still there.

I decided to spoil myself this time, staying in the Aria, and flying business class, using air miles left over from my company days. When I went to book, the agent told me that there was a special offer on the day of my flight out, and for 10% more than business class (BA Club World), I could go First Class. I had never travelled First before, so snapped up that offer. I have always had a sort of idiotic superstition that if you behave like you have no money worries then you won’t have. Life has treated me well, and I have never had much reason to abandon that plan. (Another way in which I am lucky is that I have a great wife who indulges my poker passion, and was more than ok with me going. Vegas in the summer is her idea of hell, so I travelled alone).


I did a fairly sick amount of preparation for the Main this time around. Some of the things I would highlight as most valuable were:

- PokerGo live coverage of the 2017 Main Event.

- Hunter Cichy – Advanced Concepts in No-limit Holdem. This book focuses quite a lot on cash poker, but a lot of it seems applicable to deep-stack tournament play, and I found it really well-written. He thinks very clearly and explains his thoughts well, with nice insights on things like the sort of board where you should consider checking strong hands in position, and the sort of board where leading turn and bombing river as a bluff is most likely to work.

- Andrew Brokos – Thinking Poker Diaries. This is a series of 8 short books, each one covering his run in the Main Event for a particular year.

- Jonathan Little – Cashing the WSOP Main Event.

I found the Andrew Brokos series invaluable for getting into the right frame of mind, and they would be top of my recommendations for anyone making similar preparation.

The live coverage of previous Main Events is also a must. Ali Nejad and Nick Schulman led the commentary team, and as well as being entertaining I got a great deal from their observations on how hands were played. Watching live coverage from Day 1 right through gives you a great feel for the pace of the game, and the value of patience in that format.


My own playing style is fairly conservative, but certainly not old-school TAG. I understand that to have a chance in these large events you need to win your share of pots where you either start with nothing, or end up with nothing. I have a maths / software background, and while I am too lazy to put in deep mathematical study away from the table, I have some understanding of GTO play, of the need to balance ranges, and the need to have a reasonable number of bluffs in your range. As a sixty-ish man, usually smart-casually dressed, I am able to use my table image to get big bluffs through sometimes, and often get raised eyebrows when forced to show down a “funky” hand, or a failed bluff.

I’ll include a few hand examples in the report, but please be gentle with me – I am interested in comments, but I’m well aware that I’m an amateur and fall miles short of the standard of most on here.


I booked my outward flight for 1st July, and registered for Day 1B on 3rd, planning to take a rest day on the 2nd, looking over my preparation materials. (I registered by bank transfer. It is fairly well documented on the WSOP site, but PM me if anyone needs advice on how that all works).

That’s it for post number one.
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Old 07-17-2018, 12:19 PM   #2
Eri_manga
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

Nice preview! Subbed and looking forward to reading the rest of your trip. I married into a mostly Irish family so I’m rooting for you.
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Old 07-17-2018, 06:46 PM   #3
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

Looking forward to this!
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Old 07-18-2018, 08:42 AM   #4
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

Ok, the day has finally arrived, probably seven months after I got management approval to go (Thanks love x), and I set off. My sick preparation included buying new suitcase, backpack and “man bag” for the trip, and planning pretty much what to wear each day – I’ll not go into some of my superstitions about those things, but I’m pretty sure I put more thought into them than most.

One of my concerns was getting cash safely there. I brought with me $9000 in cash to cover a worst case scenario of fallback tournaments. That is within the allowable limit, but I have heard stories of cash disappearing on the way through airport security. I divided my 90 “benjamins” into four piles, putting them in two wallets, a money belt and an envelope, thinking that those smaller piles should not be too conspicuous in the scanners. I tried to keep my backpack in sight as I went through each security check, and all went smoothly.


First Class was nice, although not the “wow” I was expecting. On my return I got a window seat in Club World, and I would not pay extra again for the upgrade. In First, you get pajamas, proper sheets and a duvet, but BA Club already gives you a flat bed that is easy to sleep in. Here are a couple of pictures. I followed my usual formula for long-haul – two scotch and gingers, two glasses of wine with dinner, and I am usually able to sleep after that. So it proved, and I arrived in Vegas feeling quite fresh.



One advantage of First, though, is that you move swiftly through the airports, so it was quite a short time from touchdown to arriving at the hotel.

As I walked in to the Aria room, the TV came on playing soft music, the blinds drew back slowly, revealing a view over the Rio and other resorts, and the lights came up slowly. Fairly simple technology really, but unexpected and I was impressed.



I knew it would be silly to play on the 2nd, and I had actually booked a Cirque de Soleil show to make sure that I would not end up getting tempted, but I realised that I had time to make the 10pm Deepstack game at the Rio (not bad, considering I left London at 5.30pm UK time). I thought that made sense, to get me used to the surroundings and the feel of the tables, and I certainly did not feel ready for bed.

Uber to Rio. Uber works really well here, with one caveat – most of the casinos seem to have chosen locations for Uber pick-up that are deep in parking garages or similar, where wifi and cellular networks have no signal. This means you have to book the car first, then hurry to the pick-up point and hope for the best. I suppose their concierges get more tips from regular cab passengers. Once I got used to this, Uber was easily the best option for me.

It took only a couple of minutes to pick up my Main Event seat at the FasTrac table, and then about three quarters of an hour of queuing to register for the Deepstack. Lots of people getting $10k counted, and there seemed to be quite a few problems with ID issues etc. I later found out that there is a separate dedicated desk for Deepstack registration that would probably have saved me time.

This Deepstack has 10k chips and 20 minute blinds, but it plays really badly. There are a couple of hours of re-entry, and there were a lot of people playing double-up or re-enter gambles, and generally splashing around. I went out quickly after getting it in twice with top pair against optimists with flopped flush draws and nothing else. I decided not to bother re-entering.

I later found out that the 1pm and the 10pm games play this way, and the other two, at 4pm and 7pm are much better. I think the 1pm game starts crazy because it ends up with the biggest prize pool, and people are prepared to gamble at the start to build a big stack.


I had planned to spend the 2nd by the pool, looking over my preparation, but when I walked out there I walked straight back in again – much too hot for me, even in the shade. I spent the afternoon in the room, getting organised and then watching PokerGo – 2017 coverage, and some of Day 1a this year.

I had an early dinner at PF Chang, a nice Chinese restaurant at the front of Planet Hollywood, before heading to my show. It was Zumanity, at New York, New York casino. I had not researched it – just picked it because it was nearby - and it turned out to be a poor choice. It is an “adult” show, and much less original than the other Cirque du Soleil shows I have seen – standard adult cabaret with beautiful dancers, stand-up comedians embarrassing those near the front (I used some of my poker skills to become invisible in my front row seat, and managed to avoid being picked on), and the usual aerial tumbling. There were a few world class acrobatic performances thrown in, and a memorable set involving two perfect women, a large goldfish bowl full of water, and no clothing, but overall it was just ok.

I had a couple of beers in a hotel bar, deflecting the usual offers of “company”, and was back in the room by 11pm starting to anticipate my 11am start.


Another thing I will mention that is prominent any time I play poker is our syndicate. Around ten years ago, a friend started a poker syndicate, six people in total, with the idea that we play a league of ten or twelve evening games, contributing some money each time, and the league winner gets to represent us in a big game. Most years the Irish Open has been our target tournament. There has been a bit of turnover of people over the years, and the rules have been refined a bit, but it has been a great success. We chose people who all take it quite seriously, and have a variety of playing styles, and there is no doubt that it has helped develop our games significantly.

Sadly, one member, who was our best player and a remarkable guy in many ways, succumbed to cancer a few years ago, after a long and brave fight. The syndicate now bears his name, and his place is now taken by his son. I will keep this report anonymous, so this is not the place to name him and pay tribute, but I always consider that he, and the rest of the syndicate, deserve a lot of credit for any poker successes that I have.

This tournament is out of the reach of the syndicate budget, but they always provide a great Whatsapp rail, and if I get a deep run in anything they will always have at least a small piece.

End of post two – more poker in the remaining posts, I promise!
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Old 07-18-2018, 09:23 AM   #5
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

Ooooo, nice so far! Keep it up.
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Old 07-18-2018, 01:55 PM   #6
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

Subbed.

Spoiler - I will be appropriately disappointed if(when) you bust out of the Main AND appropriately happy if you should have success in a fallback event.
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Old 07-18-2018, 03:10 PM   #7
Stu Ungar
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rimlog View Post

One of my concerns was getting cash safely there. I brought with me $9000 in cash to cover a worst case scenario of fallback tournaments. That is within the allowable limit, but I have heard stories of cash disappearing on the way through airport security. I divided my 90 “benjamins” into four piles, putting them in two wallets, a money belt and an envelope, thinking that those smaller piles should not be too conspicuous in the scanners. I tried to keep my backpack in sight as I went through each security check, and all went smoothly.
Very enjoyable trip report and photos..thanks, OP!

One question, though..is the above really any cause for concern?

I don't know what the problem would be if you simply had $9,000 in your pants pocket. You are going to Las Vegas, for chrissakes..that's what most people are walking around with..
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Old 07-18-2018, 03:28 PM   #8
michelle227
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Ungar View Post

One question, though..is the above really any cause for concern?

I don't know what the problem would be if you simply had $9,000 in your pants pocket. You are going to Las Vegas, for chrissakes..that's what most people are walking around with..
Traveling domestically, it should not be a problem. But there are declaration issues with large sums of currency when going through Customs. I agree that $9K is not a large sum for some people, but there are no carve-outs in the laws for 'but I was going to Vegas...get with the program guys' sort of situation. And while the $9K is below the threshold requirements, I would be inclined to err on the side of caution...

https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/det...-into-or-leave gives more detail.
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Old 07-18-2018, 07:04 PM   #9
Rimlog
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Ungar View Post
Very enjoyable trip report and photos..thanks, OP!

One question, though..is the above really any cause for concern?

I don't know what the problem would be if you simply had $9,000 in your pants pocket. You are going to Las Vegas, for chrissakes..that's what most people are walking around with..
I have seen a few posts on this site about security staff seeing a block of cash in luggage, separating people from their bag for long enough for it to disappear.

I think you would be unlucky to be a victim, but it seems an unnecessary risk to leave the notes in one pile, which would show up clearly in the scanner.
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Old 07-18-2018, 08:02 PM   #10
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

Keep up the good work!
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Old 07-19-2018, 03:22 AM   #11
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

i took 10k over and 31k usd back, no issues, just declare and keep in your man bag, do not put in luggage haha

gl
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Old 07-20-2018, 10:28 AM   #12
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

Unsurprisingly, I woke up early, at around 8am, and I soon realised that I was not going to be able to get back to sleep. If you don’t have at least a wee bit of childish excitement going into the Main Event you probably shouldn’t be playing!

The Aria cafe has a good range of breakfast options, so I headed down, armed with a tablet to watch some of 2017’s live PokerGo coverage, to get in the right frame of mind. I also keep a small notebook where I have been noting down bits of last-minute advice to myself, for reading before the start. Most of the advice is about forcing myself to take time for any decision that could commit me to a big pot, and about choosing lower variance options in this tournament – obvious stuff, but most big poker decisions that I have regretted in the past have been made too quickly.

After double-checking that I have packed everything that I might need for the day, I headed down early, to get tuned to my surroundings, find the table, grab a water bottle and a Starbucks etc.

The last time I came over for the Main, I was disappointed that the tournament areas became quiet and lacking in atmosphere as the tournament moved on, leaving Main survivors playing in the corner of fairly empty rooms. This year, the schedule is better, with more side events coinciding with later stages of the Main. The atmosphere was great here throughout the entire trip. I hope the organisers agree that it is an improvement and stick with this approach.

Waiting for the doors to open:



I sat down at my table in good time, and started checking out my table-mates. About three seats stayed empty for the first half-hour. I decided this was not good news, as pros are more likely to sit down late, but the players that did turn up gave me no cause for alarm. Several of them looked to be in their fifties, fitting the stereotype of the wealthy small businessmen that make up the bulk of the amateurs playing the Main. There was a Japanese-looking lady of about 40, who looked a bit nervous. The youngest player was an athletic looking big man of about 35, wearing headphones – the most likely to be a pro so far.





Obligatory stack photo:



Loving the structure, as I knew I would. Slow structures suit my game in general, and I like having time to assess the table before getting too heavily involved.

After half an hour or so, I was feeling very comfortable. No one is playing particularly aggressive or crazy, and it is not too expensive to see flops. There are two players at the table that seem bad – the Japanese lady, and a serial limp-caller of about 55. The Japanese lady plays a tight starting range, but she does not seem to take account of how the board changes the strength of her hand. She has paid off a couple of times with big starting hands on raggy boards where she could never still be good. I have successfully punished the limp-caller a couple of times, raising his limp and c-betting to take the pot.

One quite lucky hand in the first level (75/150). The limp-caller limped in early position about three places to my right. I limped behind with 66, preferring to set-mine than try and punish this time. One other limper and the big blind checked his option. Flop was T45 rainbow. The first limper bet half pot, and I called. The other two folded. Turn was a 3. Check-check. River was an off-suit 7 – not bad! He bet 1k. I made it 3k and got the call. He had pocket fives – unlucky sir!

Played one hand of significance this level with the Japanese lady. I raised in early position to 350 with 6d5d. The Japanese lady made it 700 from the small blind, and I called. The flop came 975, with one diamond. She bet 800, and I called with a pair and a gutshot. Td on the turn gave me more outs, and I called her bet of 1200. The river was another 5, giving me trips. She bet 1200. I made it 3200. She called, and mucked – I’m guessing an overpair.

I finished level one on a very satisfactory 62k. Although I got lucky in those two hands, I played plenty of other more standard ones. I am feeling very comfortable at my table and “in the zone”.

The table has got a bit tougher, with two of the three empty places taken by sub-thirty players who seem quite strong, and the third by a guy in his early forties who is active and fairly aggressive. I have chatted a good bit with a young guy to my left. He is an Irish on-line pro, who has played the Main three times before with one deep run to three-hundred and somethingth. Likeable young lad, and he certainly seems to play well.

Level two did not go so well. Early on, I ran 88 into 99, and 99 into TT in successive hands with raggy boards, and paid off a bit in each case.

One key hand was against the forty-something player, whom I will call Splashy. He plays a lot of pots fairly recklessly, not counting bets but throwing in a handful of chips. He raised from the cutoff, and I decided to flat with AhKh in the small blind. I like to mix it occasionally, and slow-playing a hand that can hit big against a loose and aggressive player seemed like a good time to do so. The flop came JTx, with two hearts. We both checked (I was ready to check-raise, and was surprised when he checked behind). I led on a small black turn card. He called. The river was a black king – one of only a few outs that did not give me the nuts. I bet 2600. He made it 7500. I thought for a good while, and decided to call – my hand was under-represented, and I decided he had some worse holdings, and maybe some bluffs (given my image) in his raising range. He had KK – the hand could have gone a lot worse.

After that, I laid down two pots to the same player, in both cases when I checked decent bluff-catcher hands to him and he fired big overbets.

That player has dominated the table since he arrived, running like god and playing very aggressively. I am not the only player to give him chips – he has had unlikely winners each time he has been called.

I have some decisions to make in this spot. I came to the competition with a clear strategy of taking my time and playing small-ball, arrogant enough to think that I have an edge on the Day One field. With this guy on the table, your chips are on the line each time you enter a pot with him. He is prepared to put you all-in in a heartbeat, either with a strong draw, or with a bluff. I decided that I can’t just batten down the hatches and survive. Even if I folded my way to Day Two, I could easily find a similar table captain tomorrow. I decided to tighten up a good bit, but be prepared to go with it if I think I am in a strong spot.

I started level three at about 38k (starting stack was 50k) – still a huge stack in terms of BB. Splashy raised form the hijack to 800. I found black kings, and made it 2300, with him the only caller. The flop was a beautiful / ugly KJ8, all hearts. We both checked the flop. Turn was Qd, and I bet 2500, getting a call. The river was a small black card. He bet 3500. I made it 10k, and he folded.

At the start of level four, the Japanese lady has gone, and the other possibly bad player, the limp-caller is down to 9k. The table has become a lot harder.

I struggled badly in this level, all against Splashy. I paid him off with 77 on a TT632 board, when he had the unlikely ten (T6o), and a couple of other similar ones. He does not seem to miss, and is inflicting similar pain on the rest of the table.

I went into the last session of the night with 27k – still over 50bb.

Early in the level, he raised his button (my bb) as he had done every time. I had AQo, and made a standard 3-bet, which he called. The flop came ace high with three spades, but otherwise fairly safe (no spade in my hand). I made a standard-sized 3-bet, which he called. At this point, I am 100% sure of my read, that he has a junky hand with a single spade. I have just over a pot-sized bet. I decided to make a committing bet of about 90% of my chips. For some reason I feel he will call that but fold to a shove, and I want his chips in as a >80% dog. That is exactly what happens, and my heart sinks as the ugly spade comes. I don’t have the heart to try and spin up my remaining change into a playable hand, and throw it in. My read proves exactly right. Despite being a nightmare to play against, he is a nice guy, and graciously apologetic about busting me. I manage to exit fairly graciously myself, although it almost feels like someone else talking.

I walk up and down the corridors of the Rio, stunned and too tilted to even think straight for about half an hour. Eventually, after ranting to my syndicate friends for a bit, and registering for a $1500 no-limit side event two days later, I start to calm down.

I have thought a lot about it since then, and –painful and inevitable as it all was – I don’t think I have any regrets. I put my chips in with better odds than AA v KK pre-flop (not quite sure why I was so certain of my read, but it proved correct), and was rightly pleased to get the call. If the spade does not come, I more than double up on the hand.

I go through the rest of the night feeling fairly lost, without even enough enthusiasm to get drunk. One bright side of it, which makes me feel a bit better, is that I came with a programme of fallback tournaments in several different casinos. Although a deep run in the Main would have been very exciting, I would have ended up seeing only the Rio Convention Center, and I will now get a broader view of Vegas, which may be better fun overall.
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Old 07-22-2018, 05:18 PM   #13
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

Interesting read. I can hardly believe it's actually possible to have such a luxurious airplane seat! Anyway, looking forward to the next installment.
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Old 07-23-2018, 01:21 PM   #14
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

With my ticket for Event 66, Thursday’s $1500 bracelet event in hand, I notice that there is a nice game on the Wednesday in the Wynn Classic series. I phone them to check whether there should be plenty of room, and the lady at the desk suggests that it might be no harm to register tonight, as some of the games have had alternate lists.

I decide that going to Wynn to buy in, and have a few drinks, may be just the medicine I need, so that is what I do.

The Wynn always fascinates me – people there just seem to drip money more than anywhere else in Vegas, and it is a good people-watching spot. As I step out of my Uber at the entrance, I notice a white Ferrari pulling up, and after the gull-wing doors open upwards, a seventyish man in a white suit struggles out. Out of the back pop two pneumatic eighteen-year-old girls on huge high heels, who proceed to grab an arm each and escort him along the lobby toward Pensioner Paradise.

After getting my red Wynn loyalty card and seat assignment for the next day, I get myself a Scotch at the “Lake of Dreams”, a Wynn cocktail bar with quite a cool free animated show. Not a bad spot to lick my wounds, and I return to the hotel a bit later feeling more optimistic.



There is no better antidote to a poker hiding than sitting down with a full stack at the start of a new tournament, so I am feeling myself again as I sit down in the Wynn the next day. For me, the Wynn has now taken over as the best place to play in Vegas. The last time I played here, there was a different poker room which was quite comfortable, but a bit dark and sombre. They have now cleared away an area of slot machines to create a nice bright poker area which has taken the Aria’s crown.



One criticism and one mixed blessing; for some reason, their cocktail service is very poor. I heard a lot of regulars complaining about it, and a few times there was a fairly crazy wait, even for a bottle of water or a coffee. It seems the waitresses arrange informally who is covering which tables, and they don’t manage it very well. The other ?negative? is that the tournament area is outside the Wynn’s Beach Club. This means that at some times of day you have a very distracting parade of scantily clad young people (I’m curious about the demographic – I wasn’t sure who was there on Daddy’s money, and whether some of the girls were working), and later in the evening it gets VERY noisy.

Almost everyone I spoke to in this event, and subsequent Wynn events, was a Main Event casualty, which all helped with the healing process. I noticed that Greg Raymer sat down in the tournament, but unfortunately I did not get a chance to play with him.

I also noticed an English older gentleman whom I will not name, who re-entered at least three times that I noticed. I have played with him often, in London, Ireland, and a couple of foreign locations. He is a complete nightmare to play against, because he tends to bet several times the pot frequently, with any part of the board, or any draw, and plays exactly the same way when he has hit a set or two pair. He is hopelessly negative EV, but he will re-enter any number of times, and sometimes runs deep when he stumbles on a stack. He seldom makes money, but knocks out a chain of decent players on the way.

He was at my table for a while, and I played a couple of hands with him, but fortunately he did not last long there.

Nothing worth dwelling on as far as tournament play is concerned. I passed the break with about an average stack, and lost a “race” soon after that when my QQ failed to hold up against a strangely 4-bet A7s. I was surprised at that play, because the standard was pretty good overall. I enjoyed the tournament despite the abrupt ending, and I will certainly come back.

The good news was that gave me an opportunity to visit my favourite restaurant in the world – the Ruth’s Chris Steak House at Harrahs. I always find an opportunity to get there when I am in Vegas, and their New York Strip Steak has never let me down. (Whatever you do don’t touch the plates – I heard the waitress warning my about 400 degrees plus, but quickly forgot, and spent ten minutes with my thumbs in my iced water glass!).



I finished the night playing a cheap rebuy tournament in Planet Hollywood – wild poker, lots of drink, great fun, no prize. A good day overall though.

A little bit of poker success coming soon, I promise!
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Old 07-24-2018, 12:10 PM   #15
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

I sat down in Event 66, which did not kick off until 3pm. Although it has 1-hour levels, you only start with 7500 chips, so you need a good start. I also found that many people were playing very aggressively at the beginning to try and build a stack, so the structure felt faster than you might expect. Pots built quite quickly and you need a few to go your way early on to get any traction.

After a couple of hours I had entered a couple of pots without success and was down to about 6500. An Italian pro has recently arrived at the table with a big stack, and has been getting involved in a lot of pots. He raised to 350 at 75/150. I have black KK in the small blind, and make it 1000. He calls, and two of us see a flop of T72, with two diamonds. I bet 1200. He makes it 2500. I pretend to think for a while, and shove. He calls with KTo, and I hold.

After a period of poor cards, and one or two hands that flopped badly I am down to about 9k. A mid position player makes it 450 at 75/150/25. I have 86s on the button, and decide that I am just deep enough to see a flop with that hand. The Italian LAG comes along in the big blind. The flop is T66 rainbow. The opener bets 1200, and we both call. On a J turn, he bets 1200 again. I ship all-in, and they both insta-call! The opener has aces, the LAG has A6, and his kicker wins it. So much for my last chance at a 2018 bracelet!

I finished at just about the right time to enter the 7pm Rio Deepstack, which turned out to be my first success of the trip. It has 25000 chips, 20 minute levels, and re-entry for 9 levels. I don’t have any hands recorded from it, but I played solidly and well, and found myself on the final table (from 227 entrants).

At about 4am, there were 7 players left and high blinds had turned it into a bit of a crap-shoot. We noticed that there was no big gap between the stacks (I was chip leader), and that a seven-way chop gave us approximately third place money of $7000, so that is what we did.

The Rio have a slightly surprising policy of not facilitating chops at all – they would not even pause the clock to let us discuss it. I knew that there was a potential complication with my tax status, and said so, but at that time of night most people were too tired to listen properly, and we ended up getting into a bit of a muddle.

The tax issue was a nuisance, but ended up not too bad. As a UK citizen (I am in Northern Ireland), I am exempt from tax on poker winnings, and we have a tax treaty with the US. There is a system, whereby if you are registered with the US authorities and have an “ITIN” number, then you can receive a full payout with no tax withheld. The Rio are one of a few casinos sophisticated enough to know this system well, and able to do the application process for you. Unfortunately, some of the paperwork has to be done by day-time office staff, so they were unable to process my payment that night. As I was officially receiving first place money of $17000, we did not have enough cash for all the players to walk away with their $7000.

Fortunately two of the more civilised and well-informed players agreed to come back the next day to meet me and get the remainder of the money (we swapped passports overnight for their security). I was very grateful that they volunteered, as some of the others were a bit aggressive and impatient to get away.

Although it was a relatively small event, I was delighted to get a nice chunk of cash, and a US entry on my poker resumé!
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Old 07-24-2018, 03:47 PM   #16
Beachman42
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

Congrats on the nice score. A FT is a FT no matter where you experience it.
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Old 07-24-2018, 05:28 PM   #17
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

Nice TR so far, looking forward to the rest!
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Old 07-25-2018, 11:43 AM   #18
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

The following morning began with a rush to the Rio to meet the two guys and split the remaining money. Murphy’s Law – the one time that I had a hard deadline to be there was the time that Uber let me down totally. I’m not sure whether I made a mistake when booking, but the car did not show up. It happened also that Uber had allocated me a deaf driver, so when I phoned (in a noisy area of poor reception) to find out what was going on, the conversation was difficult, to say the least. I eventually found out that my car was at the Rio (ie my drop-off point rather than my pick-up point), so I had to give up and sprint to another part of the hotel to get a standard cab.

Fortunately, all involved were patient and understanding, and we got our business done at the Rio. I headed back to the Aria to late register a two-day event in their Aria Classic series.

The poker room at the Aria is comfortable and well-run. During the Series, they add about a dozen tables in an area outside the poker room, which is a decent environment to play in. The picture below is of the main room – not the Series area.



A relatively uneventful tournament for me. I chipped up a bit for a few hours, but when the blinds were 500/1000 with 1000 big blind ante, I had about 33k, which was well below average, and looking for a spot to try and double up.

I picked up KK in early position, and raised to 2400. The player on my left made it 6300, and I chose to flat call, adding some risk but improving my chances of the double, planning to check-raise all-in on any flop. The flop came A63, with two diamonds – not ideal, but I proceeded with the plan. He insta-called my check-raise, not with the expected ace, but with 6d4d! Another six on the river took me out. Clearly, a 4-bet pre would have won it, but I am not unhappy with my plan at that stack size.

I played a bit later in another Wynn game, with not a great deal to report from a poker point of view, but a couple of things to mention. I was at a table for an hour or two with Matt Affleck, famous for one of the most painful Main Event bust-outs ever, one which arguably won the event for Duhamel.

He was pleasant and quite chatty. I was quite amused and impressed by his modesty when an awful player beside him was lecturing the table about how the Main Event was just luck – “anyone could go deep if they got the right run of cards”. The guy did not realise that he was sitting beside someone who is pretty good proof that it is a skill game.

Matt did not run well, and got knocked out fairly early. His place was taken by a guy I have played with before, and one of the people I least wanted to see at my table. I had played with him in Dublin years before, but I think he may be based in London, playing the “Old Vic” there. He is a very strongly built and exceptionally good-looking guy, possibly of Israeli or Middle Eastern origin, who dominates the table in every way when he is there, combining personal and poker aggression in a very intimidating fashion. He is in almost every pot, playing in a way that lets you know you are playing for stacks if you enter a pot with him. In one early example, he doubled up when he shoved a raggy flop with 73o, having missed it, and caught a 3 to take out his opponent who had been unable to get away from AK.

In another pot, he was called down to the river by a young French pro, sitting beside me. On the river call, he slid his cards face down to the middle,
saying “you’ve got it”. The French guy kept his hand face down, also, waiting to see his hand. He announced “ten high”, and the French guy said, “I would like to see those cards”. The dealer flipped them, rightly or wrongly (not sure what the house rule is there), and the aggressive guy said “You are a piece of ****!”. French guy was taken aback, but stood his ground, saying – “You’ve been playing very aggressively, I just wanted to see what you are playing”. The big guy stood up, put his face in Frenchman’s face and said again “You are a piece of ****”. The dealer was utterly pathetic, saying nothing and trying to look invisible. Several people, including myself, asked for the floor, who showed up a few minutes later, but after the big guy had thrown his chips across the table and said he was leaving. The floor told him his behaviour was unacceptable, at which point he pinched the cheek of the floor man, saying “you are a piece of **** too”.

I was not impressed, when leaving half an hour later, to notice this guy in a cash game. The Wynn’s operation impressed me every other way, but that guy should have been barred without question.

The following day I came back to the Wynn for a $200k guaranteed game, which went well for me. I did not note down any hands from the early stages, but made it into the cash 71 left of 689 players, apparently the biggest tournament the Wynn had held to date. Min cash is $2576, and when the bubble burst I had 305k, with average about 200k.

I continued to run well and play well – nice structure – and when 35 players were left, I had 448k, with average 394k. The tournament has got steadily tougher. At the beginning there were a mix of ages, including plenty of older Wynn regulars. At this point, the average age is about 30, and every pot is wrestled for.

In one hand at this stage, I raised in middle position with red tens. A guy with a monster stack flat called on the button. The flop was AKx. I decided he had a weak ace, and barrelled flop and turn. He folded to my pot-sized river shove – phew!

A redraw at 27 players left – I have about average stack.

In one key hand from around here, I had about 115k. A short stack shoved from mid-position for about 40k. A player on my right, with 130k re-shoved. I had QQ on the button. I decided that the player on my right would probably have flat called AA and KK, so I may be dominating everything but the likely AK. I did call, he did have AK, and I held, to give me enough chips for a real run at it.

Squeezed through to the final table a bit short-stacked. My brain is fried – it’s a young man’s game these days.

... and with 8 players left lost a race to the big stack – my 99 vs his KQ. Out in 8th for $15.5k. I know I will be pleased in hindsight, but that race would have been nice to win. First place was worth $130k!

I can’t complain about my luck though. Just before the final table, I had a desperation stack and twice cracked KK with AJs – once with an ace, once with a wheel.

If I don’t go too crazy from here on, that guarantees me a profitable trip, even allowing for my extravagant hotel and flight choices.

By the way, a shout out to Matt, who was in charge of the Wynn tournament through it's later stages. He was incredibly busy - I suspect they were not expecting so many players - and ran it beautifully, finding time to listen to, and deal with, lots of petty complaints about drinks service, at the same time as processing the paperwork of every player after the bubble burst, so that our payouts were ready for us. An amazing combination of professionalism, hard work, and pleasant nature.
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Old 07-25-2018, 12:06 PM   #19
TheGramuel
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

Swapping passports overnight is brave
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Old 07-25-2018, 01:23 PM   #20
synth_floyd
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

You traded passports with another person? Yikes, glad it worked out.
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Old 07-25-2018, 08:26 PM   #21
Rimlog
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGramuel View Post
Swapping passports overnight is brave
Quote:
Originally Posted by synth_floyd View Post
You traded passports with another person? Yikes, glad it worked out.
Yes, my first reaction was "Not a chance!", but after we failed to find any sensible alternative I realised that if the passport did not come back, he was walking away from $7000. The main thing, though, was that the guy seemed very legitimate - he was the only one of the players that chopped that I would have done that with.

The casino were not prepared to get involved at all. I asked if they might agree not to pay me out until the three of us were there, but they weren't up for anything like that.
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Old 07-31-2018, 11:42 AM   #22
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

This post will complete the trip report. Although I have a number of days to go, there were no more exciting runs, so I’ll just mention some hands and encounters that stick out in my memory.

The next day was the Wynn Seniors event. As expected it played very differently, despite having a number of recognisable top players in it (Greg Raymer seems to be playing the whole Wynn Series).

There was more limp-calling in the first level of this than I have seen all trip. Also, much more chat and showing of hands than in other tournaments this week. I chipped up steadily early on, and had doubled my stack by the end of the first level.

Soon after this, an interesting hand. UTG limped, and a lady to his left made it 600 (at 100/100/100). I found QQ, and decided to flat call. The button and the original limper also called. The flop came AKx, and was checked around. The turn came an offsuit Q. JT is unlikely for the raiser, but either of the other two could realistically have it. I led for 1200 – around half pot. Two folds, and the raiser makes it 4000. Bigger sets make sense, but in a re-entry I am not getting away. I jam, and am surprised to see her fold. AQ maybe?

Another interesting hand at 100/200/200. Utg made it 500. Two callers before me, and I also called with JTo. They all have around 20k, and I have 30k. Flop Q82 rainbow. Checked around. Turn is Kh, putting two hearts on board. Two checks, and the player on my right bets 1200. I decide there are a lot of weak stabs in his range, and make it 3200. He calls slowly. The river is a small black card, and my bet of 5100 takes it down.

At close of registration, I had 55k vs average 38k. Blinds 500/1000/1000. I’ll not dwell on the rest, because it was neither interesting nor successful – it involved twice losing to short stack shoves when I got it in ahead, and then getting it in behind myself as a short stack.

By the way, after about half a dozen tournaments this week with big blind ante, I am definitely a fan. It speeds up the game a bit, but I am a bit anal about smoothness of structure, and it definitely improves that a lot.

The highlight of my day (and perhaps a highlight of the trip), was a couple of hours in a small Aria evening tournament with a fun crowd, including a guy called John Morgan. He is a whale, famous for one hand in particular (Google “John Morgan quads”).

Shortly after arriving at the table (which included several twenty-somethings), he offered a bet of $100k that he had the youngest girlfriend of anyone at the table (he looked well into his sixties, but later claimed that he and his girlfriend have a combined age of 77). One quote – “I haven’t smoked in 10 years, haven’t had a drink in 15 years, and haven’t had sex in 8 hours”. He was just one of several very entertaining players at the table – great fun, but not good for my head the next morning!

Here’s “Guess the hands” from a Rio Deepstack a couple of days later. Blinds 150/300/25. Most stacks are around 20k. Utg limps. I make it 1200 two positions later with AQo. The two players to my left call. Utg makes it 5200. I fold. The two players to my left both call the 5200.

The flop comes T93 with two spades. Utg bets 7200. Two calls!

The turn is a small red card. Utg shoves. The player to my left calls, and the next player folds, keeping his cards, so all three were shown. Try and guess the three hands before scrolling down.




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Utg had KQo. Caller had AsJs. Folder had T9o. AJ won it with ace high.

My final tournament of the trip was a 4pm Rio Deepstack, and I bubbled the final table for a massive $383. Still, always nice to finish with a win.

I had plenty of fun in the last few days, if no more memorable results. Going back with more than I came with was a nice feeling, though, and improves my chances of attempting a similar WSOP trip again.
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Old 07-31-2018, 02:04 PM   #23
Beachman42
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

Great run & great read! Cheers!
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Old 08-03-2018, 06:47 AM   #24
TJ Eckleburg12
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

Two final tables in one week is a successful tourney trip for anybody, nice job and great read!
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Old 08-07-2018, 11:41 AM   #25
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Re: Vegas Trip Report - around WSOP Main Event

Even though I knew a lot of the detail pre-read - still thoroughly enjoyed it
- these 18 year olds picking up old men in their Ferrari's - what are they like!!!

Well played sir - one day……..
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