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Three Years in Las Vegas Three Years in Las Vegas

04-27-2008 , 06:13 PM
Originally Posted by Gazillion
Either the greatest level of all time, or UglyDeuces is in the top 5 biggest ******s with an internet connection
I won a lot of money on both online and live play, I still dont consider myself a pro, you know why coz its not a profession, its an addiction, its gambling girlfriend.
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04-27-2008 , 06:16 PM
OK, no one is that stupid.

Nice level
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04-27-2008 , 06:26 PM
Originally Posted by UglyDeuces
I won a lot of money on both online and live play, I still dont consider myself a pro, you know why coz its not a profession, its an addiction, its gambling girlfriend.
Ban the amateur and delete all traces from this classic thread IMO.
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04-27-2008 , 06:27 PM
u can be a professional hula hooper if that is what u do for a living...

if ur primary source of income is from playing poker then u are a professional poker player...
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04-27-2008 , 06:33 PM
Originally Posted by LozColbert
It is time for seven years in Las Vegas.

Bump. When I first joined these forums in 02, you were the strat posting star. Well, you and Clarkmeister. Did NL even exist then? Heh.
I haven't written anything yet but I have started thnking about it. I plan to have something up on May 10th.
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04-27-2008 , 06:36 PM
Originally Posted by seefut22
u can be a professional hula hooper if that is what u do for a living...

if ur primary source of income is from playing poker then u are a professional poker player...
i no this isnt tru cuz it wasnt in teh dicshionary.

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04-27-2008 , 07:55 PM
Congrats on your success, it was an entertaining read. You have inspired me to quit my job and try out for the NBA.
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04-27-2008 , 08:01 PM
grinding the 20/40 game at the mirage for a living sounds worse than prison
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04-27-2008 , 08:10 PM
Originally Posted by nycballer
grinding the 20/40 game at the mirage for a living sounds worse than prison
No it doesn't
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04-27-2008 , 08:20 PM
Have you realized that you should move to NL yet, as that is where the money is at?
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04-27-2008 , 11:35 PM
Originally Posted by Dynasty
It has been three years since I embarked on my career as a professional poker player. On Thursday, May 10, 2001, I arrived in Las Vegas with two suitcases of clothing, a garment bag with four business suits which I've worn only once at most, a gym bag of miscellaneous items, and a cashier's check which was going to provide everything else I was going to need.

I've met many 2+2ers over the last few years and often the topic turns to my decision to play for a living. But, I don't think I've ever told the story on the forum and certainly haven't given out all the details.

The story probably starts a little more than a year earlier. In March of 2000, I was working as an accountant at Investors Bank & Trust in Boston. I had been an employee there for four and half years. It was the only job I held since graduation from college in 1995. But, after being very enthusiastic about my work for the first couple years, I became very disillusioned. Simply put, I couldn't find any joy in the 9-5 workforce.

One day, Human Resources asked all employees to sign some form which stated that after leaving IBT, no employee would try to recruit from IBT. It's a standard practice. However, there was something about being asked to sign the form which made me feel trapped in the job. It was as if signing the form meant I was going to be stuck there forever. So, I refused and my employment at IBT was abruptly over.

For more than a year, I considered different ways of making a living while using my savings to pay the bills. In the fall of 2000, I resigned myself to returning to accounting and had several job interviews the day after the Presidential election (after staying up to 4:00am watching the drama unfold). I had bought four new suits for the interviews and eventual job. I bought new shoes. I bought new shirts. I bought new everything. It probably cost me about $1,500-$2,000. I got a couple job offers and turned them down. I couldn't go back. The money was wasted.

The only source of income I had (and it was miniscule) was running chess tournaments. Chess, like so many games before it, was something which I could immerse myself in. I started playing actively in chess tournaments a few years earlier, about the same time I became disillusioned in my job. Strategy games have always been my favorite hobbies. Whether it was chess, rotisserie baseball, a dice-based wrestling game, I always got more joy out of strategy games than anything else.

On Easter weekend of 2001, more than a year after leaving my job, I went to Foxwoods to play in the 3rd Annual Foxwoods Chess Open. I had been there the previous two years and it had become my favorite chess tournament. It was a four-day tournament with two games per day on the final three days. That allowed some time during the day to play in the casino.

I thought gambling was rather stupid. I enjoyed walking through the casino and watching the games but I had no intentions of playing much. The first year I was there, 1999, I gave myself a budget of $20 and used it to spend some time playing quarter slot machines just for the hell of it. At some point, I hit a good-sized win on a Triple Triple Diamond machine and that become my favorite. I think I broke even on the machines that year. The second year, 2000, I lost the $20. The poker room also intrigued me but I couldn't muster up the courage to actually play.

When I went to Foxwoods in April of 2001 to play in the chess tournament, I decided I was going to give the poker room a try. On my first day, I noticed a practice table but it didn't have a dealer. I made a mental note to go back to that spot in between chess games and see if I could get some lessons. On the second day, a dealer was there and I sat down. There was a player who had busted out of his stud game but decided to stick around and play at the training table for a while. He gave me some basic advice on strategy for 1-3 stud: "Play pairs, three flushes, and three straights. Fold everything else." It made sense and I followed it. That stranger was the first influence on my poker career.

I have a vague memory of playing poker with my parents once when I was about 7 years old. That wasn't for money. In college, two friends and I played draw poker for quarters for a few hours. Other than those two occasions, I had no experience whatsoever. On the afternoon of Saturday, April 14, 2001, I played casino poker for the first time. I bought in for $60 in a 1-3, no ante, 7-card stud game. I booked a small win and was more anxious to play poker again than I was to finish the chess tournament.

While playing 1-3 stud, I remember thinking how big the 1-5 stud game looked. "Wow. That game is played with a $0.50 ante rather than no ante." Those stakes seemed intimidating.

In between chess games on Sunday, I played for two hours and lost my entire $60 buy-in. It was a little disheartening but I came back that night after my final chess game and played an all-night session. In total, I logged 19 hours at the 1-3 stud tables and won something like $80.

I returned home after the weekend chess/poker getaway. I had been looking for a new apartment because I had to leave the one I had while some kind of repairs were being done. Things came together.

There I was- unemployed, looking for a new home, disillusioned with the 9-5 workforce, and knowing the one thing I truly loved doing was playing games. So, I made probably the biggest leap of faith of my life to date. With experience of only 19 hours of 1-3 stud, I packed a few bags and flew to Las Vegas with the intention of making myself a professional poker play.

It's interesting to look back and see how little I knew about poker and the poker world. Here are a couple examples:

1. I had never heard the word "hold 'em". I had noticed that at some of the poker tables at Foxwoods, the players only got two cards. But, that hardly seemed like poker to me. After all, how can you play poker when you are only dealt two cards? It seemed silly. I didn't intend to get involved with that game at all. I thought 7-card stud was a real poker game where you got all your own cards

2. I had no appreciation of how many places you could play poker. I knew there were casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Connecticut. But, I had never heard that poker was legal in California. "Poker in casinos in California? How strange." I certainly didn't know anything about online play.

In the 25 days between leaving Foxwoods and arriving in Las Vegas, I arranged for an apartment. I took a taxi from the airport to my new unknown home and signed a lease without even looking at the apartment.

On my first day in Las Vegas, I had dinner at a nearby casino buffet, bought a few groceries at the supermarket, and then walked one mile to the west to get my first look at the famous Las Vegas Strip. It was impressive. My new backyard was an interesting place. I spent my first night sleeping on the floor of my completely empty apartment using a jacket as a blanket.

I managed to get my couch and some other furniture delivered by mid-afternoon the next day. Other furniture came in the next few days and so I decided to start my new career.

I had learned through scouting all the Strip casinos that my preferred 1-3 stud wasn't played in Las Vegas. So, I was immediately going to have to jump into the big 1-5 stud games. On Sunday, May 13, 2001, at 8:45 pm, I officially became a professional poker player. I bought into the Flamingo's 1-5 stud game and booked a $72.50 win in 4.25 hours of play. It was a good start.

Before I arrived in Las Vegas, I had purchased a copy of Seven Card Stud for Advanced Players. It was probably a very good sign that I recognized 7CSFAP wasn't the right strategy book for my games. Within a week of arriving in Vegas, I discovered the Gambler's Book Shop- an incredible store with books on any form of gambling you could want. I started my poker library with Roy West's 7 Card Stud Book and added more than a dozen more over the next half year.

I spent the summer of 2001 exclusively playing 1-5 stud. When I wasn't playing, I was reading my newly bought library. I also came to appreciate that 7-card stud was not the ideal way to make a living. I knew I was going to have to learn that strange two card poker game called hold 'em. So, I started by playing in play money no-limit tournaments on I enjoyed it a lot and even managed to finish first in one tournament which had about 200 entrants

As the summer ended, I decided to make my first jump in limits. On Friday, 8/31, I played 4-8 stud at the Bellagio. On the following Saturday and Sunday, I played 5-10 stud at the Mirage. The following Tuesday, I played 4-8 hold 'em for the first time at the Monte Carlo. I won $40.50 in five hours of play. I was on my way up.

In late August, I discovered the forums. My first posts weren't much different than everybody else's. In the stud forum, I asked a question along the lines of "What do you do when somebody always raises with an Ace doorcard?" In the small stakes hold 'em forum, I asked, "How do you play when you make a small flush with 76s?" Right from the start, I was a prolific and opinionated poster and that got the attention of a couple Vegas locals who had been terrorizing the Mirage 6-12 hold 'em game for a while.

I got an e-mail from Dave Clark who you all know as Clarkmeister. He and his friend, Derek Andrew, wanted to meet up. I had been planning to make another trip to the Gambler's Book Store so I decided I'd meet these guys before heading there.

On Tuesday, October 23, 2001, Dynasty and Clarkmeister met face-to-face for the first time. Has the world been the same since? Dave and Derek left their 6-12 game and we chatted for a bit in the Mirage Sports Bar. I'm sure Dave was his usual chatty self and I sat there mostly quiet, occasionally making a comment or two.

Dave learned a few things about me that day. I mentioned that I was planning to go to the Gambler's Book Store- to walk there. Dave seemed appalled at the idea of making the four-or-so mile walk; especially knowing I'd be walking back too. But, he and Derek decided to go with me. Of course, we were taking his car. I bought "Inside the Poker Mind" which Dave recommended highly and we returned to the Mirage.

Dave then got a taste of my poker discipline when I simply refused to sit down in a hold 'em game. I had played six days in a row and that day was supposed to be a day off. Also, the Mirage was my stud room. I hadn't played a single hand of hold 'em there. The Monte Carlo and Mandalay Bay had become my hold 'em homes. However, I couldn't be outright rude. So, I said I'd play some 1-5 stud with them for an hour or two so we could play and chat.

Before Dave and Derek even got into the stud game, we all had the same idea. We decided to play a $15 satellite for the evening hold 'em tournament. I had never played in a real tournament and was intrigued by it. Dave was the first player eliminated. He got a free play in his big blind with something like 87o and the flop came 9,6,5 two-tone. He and another opponent went all-in on the flop. Unfortunately for Dave, the other guy had 87s for the same flopped straight and a flush draw to go with it. The flush came and Dave was out early. Maybe that's why he doesn't like tournaments. I finished in 4th place. Derek finished in 2nd.

Dave and I would occasionally see each other over the next few months when I would go to the Mirage to play 5-10 stud. In December, I moved up in stakes again and played in the Mirage 6-12 and Bellagio 8-16 hold 'em games so we bumped into each other a lot more and even played in the same games a few times. But, I'm not sure if we were actually friends. We were certainly friendly. If I saw him in the Mirage, I would always say hello and talk for a bit if we had the time. But, we never did anything else together.

Dave is an extremely extroverted and social person. Any 2+2er who has met him would surely say the same. I'm close to the exact opposite. I'm very introverted and a bit of a loner. I'm particularly quiet and distant when first meeting most people. So, if it were not for our common love of poker, it seems unlikely that anything else would have made us friends.

If there were a moment when our acquaintance became a true friendship, it would be our first poker road trip together to the Commerce. Dave, Derek, and I took the four-hour drive from Las Vegas to California and spent four days in the largest poker room in the country. Long drives and sharing a room sort of forced me to start talking and everything flowed easily after that.

When playing hold 'em at the Commerce I stayed mostly in the 6-12 games while Dave braved the 9-18 on the important-looking raised platform. I annoyed Derek a bit by getting a $229 share of the bad beat jackpot just hours after arriving.

On the third day of our trip, I made the next jump in stakes and played 10-20 stud on a whim and had good results. During the rest of the winter, I spent most of my time playing 10-20 stud at the Mirage and 15-30 stud at the Bellagio. When I played hold 'em, it was mostly 4-8.

In late March of 2002, I returned to Massachusetts for a week to visit my family and other things. I had been a professional poker player for 10 months but most of my time was spent playing small stakes. During this week off, I realized that I was simply going to have to make another leap of faith. If I wanted to make it as a player, I needed to have the confidence in myself and move up in limits. So, I resolved myself to move up see what happened. In April, I started playing the Mirage 10-20 and Bellagio 15-30 hold 'em games.

On April 5th, I had a big day. I even made a post about it. For the first time, I made $1,000 in a single day, thus paying my rent, and then some, with a single day's work. I played the 10-20 stud game in the afternoon and won $456. In the evening, I played the Bellagio 15-30 hold 'em game for the very first time. I booked a $596 win. $1,052 in one day! I was hopeful that it would always be so easy.

By June, I was a regular in the Mirage 20-40 hold 'em game despite actually having bad results in the 10-20 hold 'em game. Of course, having thirteen consecutive winning sessions in the 20-40 game and a winrate of 3.7 big bets/hour for the month of June meant I didn't give a damn what my 10-20 results were. I was crushing the 20-40 game.

For the past two years, I've been content in the 20-40 game. I've pretty much stayed there except when I thought the game was regularly bad for a stretch. I would move up to 30-60 if the Bellagio waiting lists weren't such a mess. I'll probably do it this summer anyway when I'm playing the graveyard shift.

Somewhere in one of Mason's books, he discusses that a lot of players who try to make a living at poker start of quickly but then burn out. He said that it should take three years before you should know whether you can make a living at this profession. My three years are up.
Thats a long post.
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04-28-2008 , 12:57 AM
Originally Posted by nycballer
grinding the 20/40 game at the mirage for a living sounds worse than prison
I've never been to prison, but I doubt you get to sit in comfortable chairs and have waitresses bringing you free drinks. And if they do, I'd hate to think what those 'waitresses' would expect for tips.
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04-28-2008 , 12:59 AM
Originally Posted by montanad12
Have you realized that you should move to NL yet, as that is where the money is at?
have you idiots realized this was posted in 2004... Almost 4 years ago... Before you even thought about poker?

Last edited by B1ight; 04-28-2008 at 01:15 AM.
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04-28-2008 , 01:12 AM
Originally Posted by B1ight
have you idiots realized this was posted in 2004... Almost 4 years ago... Before you even though about poker?
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04-28-2008 , 02:28 AM
looking forward to the update. this is easily one of the top all time threads on 2+2.
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04-28-2008 , 02:47 AM
epic dude, great post
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05-01-2008 , 05:03 AM
It's time to get your story and advise on the 2+2 pokercast. We want to hear it from the horse's mouth.
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05-07-2008 , 11:27 AM
Very much looking forward to this!
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05-07-2008 , 11:37 AM
now its time for a 3 year update on this post. How's he doing?
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05-09-2008 , 05:44 AM
Seven Years in Las Vegas

My seventh year in Las Vegas started about six months removed from my bankroll low point and stuck in games for stakes smaller than I thought my skill level was capable of beating. It ended with me in probably the best financial shape since I arrived in Las Vegas and playing in bigger and more varied games than I’ve ever played before. The turning point would be when variance became my best friend during a $100,000 freeroll tournament at Caesars Palace on Father’s Day.

In May of 2007, I was still mostly playing in the small 1-2 and 1-3 no-limit games on the Strip. Occasionally, I would play the 2-5 games when they were good but I was buying in for just $300 and playing conservatively. The goal was to grind out wins and rebuild my bankroll steadily.

During the month of May, Caesars Palace was running a promotion. If you played sixty hours during the month, you would qualify for a freeroll tournament played in mid-June. The freeroll tournament offered a $100,000 prize fund and a seat in the WSOP Main Event. Since I liked Caesars Palace anyway, I accumulated the hours there and qualified for the tournament.

It was impossible for me not to notice the tournament would be played on Father’s Day, almost exactly one year after the death of my Dad. I’m not spiritual at all. In fact, I would probably best be defined as an agnostic. But, I definitely had an unusual calm confidence that I would win the tournament. For whatever reason (possibly arrogance and/or foolishness), I arrived at Caesars Palace thinking I would take the first prize of $32,000 and the Main Event seat.

The tournament had about 330 players and an atrocious structure. I had calculated in advance that by the time antes were added on the third (twenty minute) level, the correct pre-flop strategy would probably be all-in or fold. In fact, by the time the third level started, the average M was probably about 5. My personal M rarely got over 10 and I was usually in a relatively strong stack position compared to my opponents.

During the first two levels, when there was some play, I picked up KK twice and AA once. The hands held up and I accumulated some chips. On level three, I switched to an all-in or fold pre-flop strategy except when I could limp in late position behind other limpers. One of my early all-ins was from the cutoff with QTo and I got called by the big blind (with a slightly smaller stack than me) with 88. The flop came K,J,9 and I won the pot. A couple levels later (one twenty minute level lasted about one orbit), I pushed from middle position with 87s and got called by the Button with KK. The flop gave me no help other than a backdoor straight draw. But, the turn was an 8 and the river was a 7. So, I survived a hand which should have crippled my stack.

Most of my all-ins didn’t get called. Despite the small stacks, players were playing cautiously. I was surviving by stealing the blinds and antes about once an orbit while knockouts were happening at rapid rates all over the room. I even got lucky on a table switch when I moved from early position to late position, effectively getting 5-6 free hands.

Some people were trying to organize a chop even before we reached the money but a couple players outright refused. Twenty-seven players were going to be paid. 27th place would be $600. Making the final table guaranteed at least $2,000.

The field whittled down to four full tables when a player min-raised UTG. He had done it before so it didn’t seem unusual. I thought he did it because he thought it was the better play not to risk too much of his short stack. It was folded to me on the button with AQo. I had a relatively large stack but my opponent had not much less than me. I was close to the cash and could probably get there by just folding the rest of the way. I also thought playing safe could get me to the final table. But, I decided the best play was to make the all-in reraise which I thought might not get called by this opponent. So, I did it. He thought for a long time before finally calling with AJo. The flop came J,T,9 rainbow and the vast majority of my stack was now likely to be lost. The turn was a blank but an 8 came on the river. I made a straight and now was in great shape.

When the field was down to 27 players, talk of a chop began again. A 27-way chop would be worth $3,703 to each player. That would have been a nice payday for a freeroll and only finishing as high as 7th place would yield a bigger prize. But, one of the holdouts was still in the tournament. I never decided whether I would accept a chop or not.

I made the money with a relatively large stack. I maintained it until about fifteen players were left when a late position player moved all-in. It was folded to my big blind. I looked at my cards and found KK. It held up against his TT and now it appeared I was final table bound.

At the final table, I had the second largest stack, though my M was still in the upper single digits. The payouts were 1st $32,000 and a WSOP Main Event Seat, 2nd $17,600, 3rd $9,000, 4th $7,000, 5th $6,000, 6th $5,000, 7th $4,000, 8th $3,000, and 9th $2,000. The chop holdout had made it to the final table so no deal was being discussed.

That unusual calm confidence which I arrived at Caesars Palace with had stayed with me the entire tournament. I still felt it at the final table. I could tell others at the table were somewhat stressed by the difference between the payouts of 9th place and 1st place. Even the chip leader was unwilling to get involved holding AQ. They were playing tentatively and I picked a few spots with pre-flop all-ins to improve my stack position.

I eventually took over the chip lead with five or six players remaining. The players were so cautious that it was folded to my small blind several times. Since the player on my left was probably the tightest player at the table, I raised even when I looked down and saw 32o. But, this time he had a hand and went into the tank. I had him covered but a loss would cripple me. He thought for a good two minutes before folding. I reassured him with an “I’m sure I had you beat.” On the very next orbit, it was folded to my small blind again and I found AKs. I moved in immediately and got called by his Ace-rag after another long think. It was down to four players and I was still in the chip lead.

I picked up QJo UTG and considered moving in with it. I thought I was unlikely to get called. But, I simply had a feeling that folding was right. A three-way pot developed when the previous chip leader who had been so cautious with AQo pushed in with it on the button. He got called by the Small Blind’s AKs (with the second biggest stack) and the Big Blind’s 33 (with the smallest stack). The Big Blind’s 33 won and he tripled up. The Small Blind AKs won chips from the Button. The Button was eliminated.

It was three-handed. I had an M of about 5 or 6 but was the biggest stack. However, it was about to be my big blind. At that point, the Button asked to stop the action to discuss a chop. The Small Blind rushed to agree that he wanted a chop. I remained mostly silent but indicated that I would listen.

The negotiations started out well. The Button said that since I was the chip leader, I should get the Main Event seat. The Small Blind agreed immediately. So, without giving up anything, I was already up the equivalent of $10,000. I actually didn’t want the seat. If I could, I would have traded it for less than $10,000 of additional prize money. But, I found out later that both opponents weren’t from Las Vegas and didn’t want the seat either.

The Button proposed I get $22,000 of the $32,000 first place prize money. He and the Small Blind would split the remaining $36,600 ($17,600 for 2nd, $9,000 for 3rd, and the remaining $10,000 1st place money). The Small Blind agreed immediately. So, the decision was entirely on me.

I still felt that unusual calm confidence. I was sure I was going to win this tournament despite the ridiculously small stack sizes relative to the blinds. In fact, the Small Blind’s recent tripling up had got him very close to my stack size. However, my rational side took over. Despite my good run that day, I knew I wasn’t destined to win even one more pot. It was not at all unrealistic that I could finish 3rd and bring home just $9,000. But, I could tell both opponents were desperate for a deal. So, I made a counter-offer.

“I’ll take $25,000” was my reply. The Small Blind seem annoyed. He correctly concluded that I was squeezing him for an additional $1,500. The Button didn’t seem to mind though and agreed. The Small Blind facing two people who were in agreement on a chop didn’t seem to want to be the holdout and agreed as well.

Officially, I finished in first place. That was a necessary designation in order to be given the WSOP Main Event seat. And, now I suddenly had $25,000 which I didn’t have about six hours earlier.

$25,000 is no fortune. But, it’s more than enough by itself to be properly bankrolled for deepstack 2-5 no-limit and 30-60 limit (the highest I had played previously). When I woke up that day, I was struggling to build a bankroll. Now I was fully rolled to play all my old games and a few new ones. My days stuck in the small stakes were suddenly over.

It felt like freedom. As I walked through the Caesars Palace poker room, literally holding 250 $100 bills in my right hand, I swore I would never let myself fall into such a bad bankroll position again.

The next day I had Mat Sklansky mail me Volumes 1 and 2 of Harrington on Hold ‘em. Since I don’t play tournaments, I never bothered to pick those books up. But, now I thought it would be good to do a little studying prior to the WSOP.

In the next few weeks, I did some reading while also playing some of the most enjoyable poker. During one session of 10-20 limit at the Mirage which lasted into the early morning hours, I had fun while Barbara Enright (5th place, 1995 WSOP) seemed annoyed at how badly I played in each pot that I beat her in.

I was looking forward to playing in the Main Event. My arrogance/foolishness was alive and well because I had that same calm confidence that I could win this tournament too. I chose to play Day 1A to maximize my rest before Days 2 and 3.

My table at the Main Event was filled with unknowns and nobody seemed to be an expert. I thought I was probably the best player at the table.

The first level was uneventful for me. But, on the second level I picked up AA UTG and successfully got in a limp-reraise which was called by just the raiser. My check of the A,9,4 flop (two clubs including the Ac) was met with a large bet. I check-raised, my opponent moved in, and he was drawing dead with AK/no club. He was busted and I nearly doubled up. Shortly afterwards, I busted another player with 33 on a 5,5,3 flop when his 54 didn’t outdraw me. The only sign of the deck slowing down for me was when I flopped quad 4’s on the button and didn’t get any action from the pre-flop raiser.

I was extremely relaxed while playing. I found it much easier to play aggressively in the Main Event than I would in a cash game. I even got in another 32o raise when it was folded to my small blind. The Big Blind called but he folded to my bet on a flop which gave me absolutely no help at all. I might have been the most aggressive player at the table in picking up the blinds and antes pre-flop. But, I wasn’t reckless when any resistance was shown either pre-flop or post-flop. I was staying out of trouble.

By the fifth level, I built my original T20,000 stack up to over T70,000. It was a healthy stack at my table and for the tournament at the time. I hit a dry spell for a bit and fell to T61,500 by the middle of the fifth level.

Then, I picked up KK UTG. The blinds were 300 and 600 with a 75 ante. I raised to 2,000 and got called by an opponent in MP.

The Button, who had me covered, reraised to 7,000. He had intentionally been playing aggressively the last couple orbits and showing it off. In the blinds a couple hands earlier, he raised several limpers with ATo, didn’t get called, and showed the table his hand. He was trying to be the table bully now.

I started thinking about how much I was going to reraise. I figured making it 20,000 to 25,000 was right and was trying to figure out the precise amount. Then, I noticed the Small Blind was in the tank.

The Small Blind had played a bit erratically at times. He made quite a few pre-flop reraises and flop raises against the pre-flop raiser during the day. I had the read he might be over-valuing some of his hands. But, now he was faced with an UTG raise and button reraise. His stack size was larger than mine but smaller than the Button’s. So, if he got involved in this pot, he had to have a real hand.

The Small Blind made it 20,000.

I took my time and evaluated the situation. 20,000 was 1/3 of my stack. Quickly, I decided on an all-in or fold strategy.

It was impossible to believe the Small Blind didn’t have a big hand. But, did he have AA? My gut told me I was in a bad spot. I’ve folded KK once in a cash game and was right. A couple other times I thought my opponent probably had AA but pushed all-in with KK anyway. I didn’t think the Small Blind was a particularly strong player. But, he had shown signs of being over-aggressive.

The deciding factor came from the Harrington on Hold ‘em books I had just read. Basically, Dan says to never fold KK pre-flop or you’ll just be giving up too much in the long run. So, I went with Dan.

I moved all-in. The MP folded. The Button called instantly and I was sure I was beat. The Small Blind gave very little thought before also calling. I worried I was in an AA vs. KK vs. KK situation but hoped for AA vs. AA vs. KK.

The Button had AA. The Small Blind had QQ. The flop came Q,5,4. The turn was a 2. The river was an Ace. The Button, John Dutchak, became the Day 1A chip leader with about a 200,000 stack. He finished 160th and cashed for $58,570.

My read on the hand was actually wrong. I thought I could beat the Button but was worried the Small Blind might have the AA. It ended up being the opposite. Maybe Dan was right. But, I wish I went with my gut.

Suddenly, I went from a strong stack size to heading home. It was disappointing. But, I was satisfied with my play. Calm confidence is good as long as you don’t ignore cold hard reality.

Shortly after the WSOP, I took a planned mini-break from poker to indulge my Harry Potter obsession. The 7th and final book came out in late July so I reread the whole series at a leisurely pace while not letting anything else distract me. A short break like this can be revitalizing and I expect I’ll take them from time to time.

Once that was done, I got moving on my poker future. First, I decided I’d rather burn myself with an iron than ever play 1-2 no-limit again. That game felt like a symbol of failure to me. I preferred not playing while waiting for a seat in another game over playing 1-2 (though a few months later this irrationality left me).

No-limit was now my game. I was probably bankrolled for 5-10 no-limit. But, my 2-5 experience was less than it should be and entirely short- to mid-stacked (60 big blinds). So, I decided to put in extensive hours at 2-5 playing deepstacked ($1,000 buy-in) and evaluate my play. This type of patient approach to moving up in stakes may be overly conservative but it has served me well before. Besides, I’m in no rush to take over the poker world.

I was unsatisfied with my play over the next several months. I was winning but I wasn’t winning as much I thought I should. More importantly, it seemed I was playing too defensive, possibly scared poker. I would make hands and get paid. But, opportunities to win pots without the best hand were routinely passed over. I was in too much of a fit or fold mode, even heads-up.

There wasn’t much aggressiveness in my game, either pre-flop or post-flop. If I raised and you were contesting the pot against me, it was almost always best for you to fold unless you stumbled into the nuts. I was experiencing a no-limit psychological problem. I knew it was a no-limit problem because I would occasionally play limit (10-20 or 20-40 at the Mirage depending on what was running) and had no problems there. I could pick up J7s in mid-position and have no problem open-raising to pick up the blinds. In one hand, I decided before looking at my cards to raise no matter what I had if it was folded to me. My J5o got shown down in that hand and got some attention. But, I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, play that way in no-limit.

So, I spent some time reevaluating my play and gave myself some basic instructions to ramp up the aggressiveness pre-flop and in some post-flop situations. The results were good. It wasn’t just a matter of winning more. I could tell that I was simply playing better. On one day, I four-bet pre-flop against a LAG four times in about two hours and never had AA (though I did have KK once). Each time my read was right and I took down a decent pot without seeing a flop. Previously, I can’t remember ever four-betting pre-flop at 2-5 without AA. Now, I was seeing a good situation and making the right play to win the pot.

I continued playing deepstack 2-5 into 2008. I was winning and building up a stronger bankroll. I was also observing some 5-10 games and didn’t observe any substantial increase in the quality of play. The games obviously had some players who knew what they were doing and the play was more aggressive. But, it was also easy find multiple weak players in nearly every game.

So, by the spring, I started playing some 5-10 no-limit at the Bellagio. The game at the Bellagio has a $1,000 buy-in cap and I thought it was better to start out in a capped game. The Wynn’s, Venetian’s, and Caesars Palace’s games were all uncapped. I played conservatively, but not passively, and was winning immediately. The game was not too much more difficult to beat. However, it offered much bigger swings since players were far more willing to both make plays with big draws and also with marginal hands when they suspected their opponents had the big draw. It was a bit surprising to see more all-in confrontations in the 5-10 game than in smaller limits. But, perhaps that’s caused by my still limited hours at these stakes.

My hours at 5-10 are still not substantial because of a recent change in my game selection. Now that I feel capable of beating that game, I’m playing no-limit a little less often. Recently, I’ve been mixing in more limit hold ‘em, 7 card stud, and Omaha eight or better. For me, it’s an effective way of keeping poker fresh. During the month of April, I played 5-10 no-limit, 2-5 no-limit, 30-60 and 20-40 limit hold ‘em, 20-40 stud, and the occasional 5-10 Omaha eight or Better. I’d be comfortable playing at least 20-40 O/8 but the Bellagio has recently only had a 30-60 game going.

I’m looking forward to the 2008 WSOP which starts in just three weeks. I don’t anticipate playing in any of the tournaments. But, I think I’ll be camped at the Rio most days and putting in big hours moving through all the game variations. I’m sure I’ll play some HORSE and maybe give TD 2-7 or badugi a try if they’re offered at medium stakes. That’s in addition to playing all my regular games.

In many ways my seventh year in Las Vegas was my best year. But, it ends much like all the others. I’m optimistic and expect my eighth year will be even better.

Last edited by Dynasty; 05-09-2008 at 05:57 AM.
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05-09-2008 , 05:59 AM
rumor has it that phil laak also plays in these 5-10nl games at the bellagio. can you confirm?
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05-09-2008 , 06:29 AM
Seems like your seventh year in Vegas is a lucky one. Can't beat the power of seven.
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05-09-2008 , 07:45 AM
Good story.
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05-09-2008 , 09:58 AM
Originally Posted by Dynasty
Seven Years in Las Vegas

My hours at 5-10 are still not substantial because of a recent change in my game selection. Now that I feel capable of beating that game, Iím playing no-limit a little less often.
wtf, if an unjustified(sample size) "feeling" that ur beating 5-10 nl doesnt motivate u to play more what will? plz play poker to make money.estb ur win rate figure out where you are making most of your money focus on improving your many leaks, both situational and fundamental (we all have them). then beat the piss out of the game for all its worth. you sound like your treating ur job like it is a hobby.
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05-09-2008 , 09:59 AM
Great read. Thanks.
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