FYI: I put the restaurant and hotel info in Part Two.
During this trip, I encountered controversial poker strategies in each session. Some of these strategies are well known, others are more obscure. I’d encourage you to explore the strategies so you can utilize them in your own play.
This was my first time being in Vegas when the WSOP was happening. For years, I had been hearing about how soft cash games were during the Series. I couldn’t be more excited to go on the trip. Furthermore, I purposely scheduled my trip when a $1,500 NL Event would be happening. I could then make the decision to play the event after I arrived.
My trip from Madison went perfect. Luckily, our pilot moves up the departure time to avoid heavy storms that are moving in from the West. Additionally on the flight out, nobody was seated next to me. It sure made the 4 hours a little easier. Winning!!
I land and catch a cab to Harrah’s. Check in went off without a problem and they agreed to give me a room that did not face Carnivale Court.
After a quick freshening up, I head out to play Mirage.
Mirage $1/2 NL
Strategy: “10% of the time, it works EVERY time”
I am seated at a table and immediately get down nearly $400 in the first hour of play. Not a good start. No major hands to report, just situations where I would invest $40 & $50 and I’d be forced to release my hand. This is by far the toughest table I’ve ever played at the Mirage. Fortunately, my table breaks and I’m moved to different table.
Shortly after sitting down, I flopped a Set and played it tricky to bust a Canadian. After that, I bust him again when I flop a Jack high flush. Winning a couple of small Pots, I’m back to even. The good fortune continued when, again I flop a Set to nearly bust a German. I had him call a large River bet when I made my hand look like a busted draw. I bust him a short time later when I flop top two with KJ.
Its 3AM and now I’m up over $400.
A new player, a UPS driver from Texas sits to my immediate right. It didn’t take me long to see his strategy. His plan was to two and three out me repeatedly. While it IS controversial to put all of your money in a Pot with less than a 10% chance to win, this strategy would surely put me on “monkey, pimp tilt” and have me leaving the table muttering. Also, he has the benefit of temporarily increasing the number of chips in front of him. Being the friendly sort, he seems willing to distribute his winnings from me to the other players at the table.
For example: I raise in mid position with AA. I get four callers including my new Texas friend. Flop is Jack high with no obvious straight or flush draws. Checks to me. I make a Pot sized bet and it folds to Texas. He calls. The Turn is a 9. Immediately, he moves in for his last $25. I call. He shows me, 99 and I don’t improve on the River. It didn’t phase me much and I was happy that he was so short stacked.
There were two other hands where I got away from each with only modest losses. In both cases, he Turned two pair with awful hands dwarfing my flopped top pair.
Next, I raise in mid position with AKos. I get four callers. Flop is Ad,4d,8d. I re-check my cards and see the Kd. My Texas friend makes a small bet. I re-raise. Texas friend goes all-in before it’s his Turn. Dealer corrects him. Asian guy on the Button thinks for a long time and shoves. Texas friend can now go all in. Its $120 for me to call with $40 of that going to a side Pot with my Texas friend. Texas shows A4 and Asian guy shows a Jack high flush. The dealer rolls out the Turn and River. I don’t improve. Sigh.
Shortly thereafter, I raise in late position with 8,Tos. I get two callers. Of course this included my Texas friend since he’s pretty much out played me to this point. Flop is K,J,4. They check to me and I make a $30 bet. The first player folds and my Texas friend calls. Turn is an 8. (At least, I have a pair now) Texas checks. I bet $50. He acts like he wants to fold but after some thought can’t help shoving for $17 more. I frown but feel like I can’t fold for $17. He shows 8,9os! I have him crushed……er, he has me crushed. As the dealer wheels out a 9 on the River. Ugh!
The finale was when he hit a Turned 9 on a Q high flop board. Of course, I held the inferior hand of AQ. While he had the powerhouse, Q9.
I silently racked up my remaining chips and cashed out. Unfortunately, I cash out down $223 the first night. I leave vowing to avoid using UPS again. I guess 10% of the time it works ALL the time for him.
I awake in the morning to find a message from my friend who was planning to meet me in Vegas. His connection in Chicago was delayed. He wouldn’t be arriving to Vegas on time. We had planned to visit the Rio and view the WSOP in action. With his delay, I’d make the trip Rio myself.
Rio WSOP $1/3
Strategy: “The Earl Campbell Strategy”
They have immediate seating in the conference room at the Rio. I decide to sit immediately. The table is full of douchebag guys that think they are way better than they are. I win a couple of modest Pots with TPGK.
One of the douchbags raises UTG. A couple of callers to me and I call with 44. Flop is 8,5,2. Douchebag makes a relatively small bet into the Pot. I call with my read that my fours are ahead. The dealer puts a 4 on the Turn. The douchebag makes a slightly larger bet. Again, I call. The River puts a third spade on the Board and is a 9s. Douchebag bets again. I call and wait for him to show his cards.
“You win,” he says to me.
“Don’t want to show your cards?” his buddy asks him.
“Umm, no,” he responds and throws his cards in the muck.
I laugh and the dealer pushes me the Pot. I push in my cards in the muck and toss the dealer his tip.
At least if you’re going to employ the Earl Campbell Strategy, don’t make a half-hearted attempt to run over me.
The action feels really pushed by the dealers. With no auto-shufflers, they seem to be really pushing to get out hands. (I LOVE fast moving games, but this was off-putting and sloppy.) Combine that with the fact that my tablemates are douchebags, made it easy to pick up and explore the WSOP. I cash out up $144.
They conducted the National Anthem for a gentleman that had won a bracelet the night before. Very cool that they acknowledge the win that way. A crowd of 10-12 railed Hellmuth as he was making a deep run in the 2-7 Event. (I think he ultimately got second.) They sell an insane amount of poker schwag there.
I get a call from a high school friend that is in town with his wife. They want to go play a session.
They really want to play at the Mirage as they had a lot of fun there in the past. Let’s do it! I grab a cab back to the Strip. My other friend is texting that he is stuck in Denver. Not a good day of travel for him.
Mirage $1/2 NL
Strategy: “Getting wasted and going all-in every hand is NOT a path to riches.”
It’s 3PM and we sit at a new game. Fortunately all three of us got to sit at the same table which was fun. One of the guys at the table boasts of playing in the WSOP 2-7 Lowball Event. He talked about all the famous pros he got to meet and play with. (I think his goal was to play with the famous players than it was to compete for the Bracelet.) I buy in for $300 and win a couple of small Pots. Then this hand comes up. I limp with 6d,5d. A player 2 seats behind me raises to $12. Four players including me call. Flop is 2d,3s,4d. Great flop for me!!
We check to the raiser. He bets $40. One fold. Mr. WSOP asks how much he raiser has left. $135 is the total. “OK. I raise $135,” he states. PERFECT! I stop for a minute and think. Assuming Mr. WSOP is a logical player and he’s willing to drop $10k on a WSOP buy in, the most plausible hand he is holding is a bigger diamond draw. I shove hoping to cut off the diamond draw. My shove is an additional $301.
The initial raiser reluctantly folds. Mr. WSOP thinks for a bit and folds showing K,4os. WTF??
I stack a nice Pot.
Then I lose a tough hand detailed in this post:
The night rolls along. Mr. WSOP proceeds to drink a Sam Adams and tequila shot every 45 minutes.
The alcohol takes a toll and Mr. WSOP starts to go all-in on a regular basis and he starts to hemorrhage cash. My friend gets a nice payday when Mr. WSOP goes all-in on a A,A,4 flop and my friend has AA. $400 for the all-in and another $100 from the Mirage make for a nice payday for him. However, his wife has a bad run of it and ducks out early.
My friend manages to finally arrive at 10PM. Long day of travel for him. He happens to get seated at our table too.
Mr. WSOP manages to double up damn near everyone at the table. I finally get my double up when I flop a Set and call him on two streets and then call his all-in on the River. He had complete air.
I win a few more Pots including one where I call three streets from Mr. WSOP with a pair of deuces.
An English guy refuses to leave to go to the club with his friends because Mr.WSOP is dumping cash. “You’d have to be mad to leave this game,” he tells his friends. They bring a different shirt for him but can’t convince him to leave.
At 3AM, Mr. WSOP announces that he needs to leave to catch a flight. We are saddened by the news. We estimate that he poured $2k to $2.5k into the game for us. Despite his drunken state, Mr. WSOP acted quickly, took his beats in stride, and was never anything but nice to everyone at the table. The alcohol clearly clouded his decisions and made for an expensive night for him. After 12 hours, our table breaks and I cash out up $532.
I awake the next morning and text my friend. We meet downstairs to grab lunch (too late for breakfast.) We grab Caesar salads at Lagasse Stadium. We decide to head to the Wynn because my friend had never been there. Additionally, the Wynn’s “day shift” seems to be softer than the V and other “day shifts” on the Strip.
Strategy: “Think consistently. Win consistently.”
Again, we are starting a new table. My friend and I are seated at the same table. I win a decent Pot early when my AA flops a Set and Turns a boat. After that I was a model of inconsistent play. It didn’t add up to profits. For example, I raise with As,Qs. Flop is K,6,5 with two clubs. I make a continuation bet. Get one caller. Turn is a King. Check, Check. River is an A. He checks. (Obviously, I should check in this spot because I will only be called if I am beat.) Instead I bet $50. He goes all-in for $58 more. Second bad decision is that I call. He shows me K,2. Nice hand,Sir.
This same player cracks my top two pair with top Set. Ouch.
Combine that with a few more losses and just like that I’m down more than $350.
I make a nice play with Q,T in a raised Pot. Flop is 9,T,J. SB leads for $20. (A small bet into the $60 Pot) One caller to me. I call. Turn is T. SB leads for $25. One fold. I call. (I am putting him on J,T here. So I will need to get lucky on the River.) The River is a Q. BOOM! SB thinks (I’m sure about the size of bet I will be willing to call.) and bets $60. I think and move all in for $160 more. He insta calls and confidently shows 9,T. I show him the bigger boat and stack the chips.
After 4 hours, we need to leave to grab a nice dinner. Unfortunately, I book a loss of $94.
We head back to the Harrah’s to change. I always like to have one upscale meal when visiting Vegas. This trip I chose Lagasse’s Delmonicos inside the Venetian. (Review will be at the end of Part Two.) From there we plan to head to the Palms to visit a few of the clubs. A friend of mine is part owner in the N9ne Group and got me free VIP access to every club in the Palms. No waiting and No cover! (Again, reviews will be at the end of Part Two) I’m too old to wait in line and pay a cover to buy overpriced drinks.
After visiting the GhostBar, Playboy Club and Moon, we elect to hit the Palms poker room.
Palms $1/2 NL
Strategy: Being a poker dealer does not guarantee that you will be a great poker player.
We are seated immediately in a $1/2 game. One player maintained that he was a WSOP Dealer. It was easy to see that he had no friggin’ clue how to play poker. He makes a series of confounding moves where he gets all of his money in with middle pair, bottom pair, and hopeless bluffs. I raise with 6,5 and get him to call me (he didn’t like to fold pre-flop). I flop a straight and get him to lead into me. I flat and re-raise his Turn bet. He folds. He blew through $6 bills in the hour I was there. I have a nice little profit in a little over an hour. However, the wheels come off when my AK runs into a flopped Set on a K high flop. I end up making a couple of ill-advised moves on a decent new player to the table. We elect to head back to the Strip. Unfortunately, I book a loss of $157.
More upcoming in Part Two including……..seeing LVM, meeting the Poker Grump, hitting Quads, and more controversial poker strategies.
Questions, Comments, and Feedback are always welcome!