Thinking as a Hobby
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2004-12-28 12:37 PM
Vegas Does Derek
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Well, I'm back from Las Vegas, and holidays with the folks, down in Lockhart and Austin.
Here's a recap of my three days last week in Vegas:
If every day had been like this one, I would have come home early and never wanted to go again.
It was snowing here in Dallas. Snowing. So I had a two-hour delay on the runway as they de-iced the wings, then because of more delays, had to de-ice them again.
So when I arrived in Vegas I was tired and cranky. I should have gone to bed and tackled the tables the next day, but instead I walked to the poker room in the Imperial Palace, bought $40 in chips, and sat down at a $2/$4 limit table.
The first playable hand I had was about 20 minutes in. I had a pair of 9s in the small blind and only one person limped in ahead of me. I raised...a reasonable thing to do in this position. In poker you generally want to play tightly, then exploit those situations when you think you have the upper hand. But this time the little old lady in the big blind had pocket kings, a monster hand. I lost about $20 on that hand.
Over the next hour and a half, I only drew two more playable hands, both pocket jacks. I played them aggressively and lost them both. One guy had Q10 in the big blind, called my raise, and called all my bets into him but never raised. In the other hand, I was up against pocket aces. I played for 2 hours at the limit table, buying in for an additional $40, and lost it all. I never once had a winning hand.
Then I played in the Imperial Palace midnight tournament. I went back to my room, took a short nap, then came back. It was a $45 tournament with a $20 rebuy (which means if you lose all your chips, you can buy another stack for $20). The format was no-limit Texas Hold 'Em.
The first playable had I drew was a pair of kings, a monster. One person raised about 1/5th of his stack in first position. The guy on the button called. I was in the big blind. I went all in. Both of them called. The first guy had AQ, but the guy on the button had AA. I was fucked. Aces are a 5-to-1 favorite against a smaller pair. Luckily, they guy had lost half his stack on a previous hand, so he only took half my chips.
Two hands later I drew AA, the best hand you can get. I went all in. Four people called. Awesome, I thought. The flop came J 9 2, all different suits. One guy still had chips after calling my all-in. He put in the rest of his chips. Everyone else folded. He had pocket 2's. Just to add insult to injury, he drew another 2 on the river, for a 4-of-a-kind. At this point I was out of chips, but could have rebought for more. But after losing back-to-back hands with KK and AA, I figured I needed to just go to bed, wake up fresh, and try again the next day.
Day One Total: -$125
I walked down to the Aladdin and did my Christmas shopping around noon, spending money on actual tangible items. My friends showed up around 3, and we spent the afternoon/evening cashing in free coupons for drinks, meals, free chips, etc. We went downtown to Binion's Horseshoe Casino, where they hold the World Series of Poker each year. We also visited El Cortez and the Golden Nugget. I didn't play...just watched.
That night I went by Caeser's Palace, and when I asked a bartender where the poker room was, he said they didn't have one. So I walked across to Harrah's, which had a nice poker room, but a waiting list. I waited about 15 minutes, then walked back next door to the Imperial Palace. This time I bought in for $100 in chips. Having a bigger stack makes you feel better, even if you're losing.
The very first hand I was dealt was AA. I raised pre-flop, and bet every round, with takers, and won the hand. For the next 2 hours I got a good mix of hands, winning some and losing some. I was also drinking quite a bit, which probably degraded my play a bit, but made for a more enjoyable evening.
I cashed out for $101 at the end of the night. Between tipping the dealer and the waitress I probably won about $15.
Day Two Total: -$124
On the third day I played two tournaments and another hour at a limit table.
The first tourny was at the Luxor, with a $28 buy-in. I won a dinky hand early with a Q6 in the big blind, lost half my chips playing an AQ aggressivly, then switched tables and never got another playable hand.
That afternoon, I played for about an hour at a limit table. I bought $100 worth of chips and cashed out with $145.
Then it was off to the Sahara for another no-limit tournament, my last poker of the trip. This one had a buy-in of $40, with a $20 rebuy, which you could use at any time. I registered, then stood waiting with a friend outside the poker room. About 10 minutes before the tournament was about to start, she whispered to me, "Is that Ira Glass?"
"I don't know," I said. "I've heard him on the radio, but I have no idea what he looks like."
She had attended one of his speaking engagements in Dallas, so knew what he looked like. She asked him if he was Ira Glass, and he said that yes, he was. He said he had gotten addicted to poker two years ago while doing a story on the World Series of Poker. I asked him what table he was at. Number one...same as me.
So I got to play poker with Ira Glass. He was the only one drinking at the table, and he played very aggressively. I think he was bored with the slow play in the first hour, but nobody wants to be kicked out early. Very early on, I hit a straight on the flop, but couldn't get much action, so didn't make much money on that hand.
Ira lost his initial stack just before the first hour was up. He rebought, but was still the first to go at the table. Three others were knocked out that same hand.
I was on the big blind with T6 of hearts, with only a couple of limpers in front of me. The flop was AH 6D 3H, giving me middle pair and a flush draw. This is a pretty good hand. I have 9 outs to a flush, 2 outs to a 3-of-a-kind, and 3 outs to two pair. I was first to act, and this is a good place for a semi-bluff. I bet about a quarter of my stack, everyone folded but one woman, a young Hispanic. She called. The turn was 9D. I bet the same amount. She called. The river was JC. I'd hit absolutely nothing. I put her on AT, AJ, AQ, or AK. I knew she had me beat, and my only chance of winning the hand was to go all in. But she'd hung in there that far, and I knew she'd call. So I checked, ready to fold if she bet, essentially conceding the hand. She had AK.
I hung in for another half an hour, drawing horrible hands. I finally got KJ of spades in the big blind, but one person raised in front of me. Everyone else had folded, so I'd be going against him heads-up if I called or raised. If he had something like TT, it'd basically be a coin flip. Likewise if he held something like AQ of hearts. The only two hands I'd be virtually screwed with were KK or AA. So I went all in. He called. He had KK, and won the hand. My friend's wife ended up placing 5th, though, for $250.
So, that was it.
Day Three Total: -$167
Not horrible. I would have liked to have won, but there you go. I was pretty close to even on days 2 and 3, and I had a horrible run of luck on the first day, not winning a single hand, even with some very strong cards.
On-line I enjoy tournaments, but I found I didn't really like them much in Vegas. They were expensive, for one thing. If they were all $25, I'd be fine. And I don't like the rebuy system, in which that money goes to the house, and not the prize pool. I understand why the casinos do it, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Some tournaments also have weird twists...like the Luxor one, which is limit for the first hour, and no-limit after that. It's kind of difficult to adjust your strategy when the rules are constantly different.
So, if I'd just stuck to the limit tables, I'd be pretty close to even. If I visit Vegas again, that's probably what I'll do.
That, and take comfortable walking shoes.
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