Monday, October 12, 2009

Vegas Trip Report

I’m pleased to report that my lack of posts for a month was more to do with being a slacko rather than busto. The ultimate poker player’s paradise, Vegas was every bit as good as I imagined it. Multiple days of jet lag spent on Aussie time, sleeping most of the day and up all night.

Results Oriented
My priorities were to have fun and leave Vegas unscathed. I held my own on the felt by playing the lowest limits with mostly recreational players. I found the games soft and was able to assess playing styles and abilities relatively quickly.

I arrived with under $200 and managed to cover all of my expenses for the week. First session I was down to $120 after cabs and bought in for $100. I was quickly on a roll with 5 winning sessions in a row. Then I was silly enough to play the only table open in the Rio with grinders on the graveyard shift. This dented my BR as I was now playing a game with myself to see if I could leave Vegas without visiting the ATM.

My very limited bankroll (self discipline) curtailed any temptation at upping redline aggression and instead I played relatively nitty, taking positional opportunities when they arose. Pocket QQs were particularly kind UTG. I’d limp knowing that a raise wouldn’t be far away. An early raise of $10 might see 5 limpers and then I’d shove AI and take it down preflop, worked every time.

My best results came in the cheapest game in town, Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall, with its $5.99 Steak and Eggs, 50c/$1 blinds and $200 BI. A little predatory, it was the softest night game in town with a great view.

Poker Rooms
Spoilt for choice, I probably played in 25 poker rooms as I cruised the Strip. In approximate order, I liked the Venetian, Bellagio, Caesars, MGM, Excalibur, Binion’s (for traditition), Bill’s (for profit), Paris etc. Only disappointments were the Hard Rock which could only rustle up 2 tables on Saturday night and the Rio (where I stayed) which was the worst.

I learned a lot about the lifestyle by talking to the Vegas grinders in the graveyard shifts. For example, they put in 7 hours per day at the Rio and get entry into a $2000 freeroll with about 15 runners, final table getting paid. Also, 125 hours per month at Harrahs tables gets you $650 cash. These guys take nitty and bonus chasing to a whole new level.

My tale of woe was C-Betting a steal attempt on the first hand of the FR to rise above average. Then 2nd hand, blinds 25/50, grinder UTG makes it 200 to go, I look down at AKs in the CO and decide to call as more than half the field get paid so no need to get too rash early. Flop A94 with 2 diamonds. Grinder leads out for 200, I make it 600 and he called. Flop comes diamond, he bets 1500 and I had to decide was it a flush or air. These guys are so intent on getting every little promotional edge available, I couldn’t see him busting out 2nd hand, but I managed to convince myself that he might just have AQ or similar with the A of diamond redraw. Alas, no, he had KJ of diamonds and I was on the rail 2nd hand. No doubt, the butt of grinder glee.

My biggest surprise was the number, quality and value of affordable deep stack tourneys that they run. One cash I was proud of was a $120, 7500 chips, paying 9 places with 98 runners at the Venetian. I final tabled, finishing 7th when my pocket 6s got cracked by K5 with the K on the Turn. My pocket rockets held up twice mid-way thru to put me into position me well. This cash was particularly sweet as I was down to my last $3 in US dollars after the buy in. Top 3 paid approx $3K, $2K and $1K so I got my chance to dream, In the end, my welcome $369 payout and 6.5 hours of enjoyment was enough to kickstart the roll again. BTW, no need for an iPod in the Venetian as the music is excellent.

Enjoyment Factor High
There didn’t seem to be too many comps , but I didn’t search any out. I was intent on playing as much poker as possible and had a ball. I was free-rolling and relaxed my no drinking while playing rule from the second day. When it was completely relaxed by the end of the week, I moved to $2/$4 Limit which can be played on auto pilot. In this mode, I met an incredible range of characters all out to have a lot of fun. A poker players paradise!