Over the past two years, I've made a good dozen (give or take) trips to Vegas while I've been job hunting. The latter took nearly two long, tortuous, frustrating, depressing years. And finally, I got an offer. I arranged the start date to allow one last Vegas trip, over the July 4th weekend.
I've procrastinated on getting this trip report in, so the memories may be a bit foggy, but I'll do the best I can, with the help of my log and Twitter feed. (Speaking of, how does one get their feed on the AVP front page?)
I ended up getting a good deal for a holiday weekend, the Crestwood Suites on Flamingo, about 3 miles east of the strip. It's a bit like an extended stay property, so for booking at least 7 consecutive nights, the rate dropped by $10/night. Interestingly, the rate doesn't fluctuate, so it was $40/night weekday, weekend, and holiday.
It's not much of a place. Two 3-story buildings, maybe a couple hundred rooms at most. No property-level amenities whatsoever, not even a pool. But the wifi was free (and worked) and the rooms had small kitchenettes. The bed was unfortunately quite cheap and soft, and I consider myself quite lucky that I didn't wake up with an aching back each day. The walls weren't all that thick, so some nights I heard not a small amount of noise. But it was clean, and the A/c worked (and wasn't too loud). It was an easy jaunt to the Strip every morning. The most interesting thing happened on my last day. When I headed out the door, training my suitcase, there were more cop cars in the parking lot than customer cars. I simply packed and left, never to know what was going on.
As usual, I drove from the Bay Area to Vegas. Unlike some folks who reported recently, I kept to a reasonably responsible 80-ish, which puts the trip around 12 hours, much more responsible for 560 miles that the 7 hours some people report.
All of which meant this I got in shortly after the rush hour crush on Wednesday, July 29, and I decided that after the long drive, I didn't want to take on any poker. But it's Wednesday, which means steak (& seafood) night at the Orleans buffet. The line is short, I fill up nicely on steak (not a seafood eater, so I pass on that). I hit the sack pretty early to get ready for a week of promo chasing. Yes, I'm shameless.
Up in the morning, I was off to the Mirage. Got there early enough to get the game going at 8:45am.
Now understand that promo limit poker has two primary goals: play solid, tight poker, and play for promos, in this case, as with most, it's to get aces cracked. Especially at this level, where the games tend to be loose-passive, part of that strategy included merciless set mining.
Early on I was getting a bunch of small pocket pairs, but hit no sets. I made a PF raise w/ AK, flopped top two, and 66 called the flop bet to catch his two-outer. I get AA in the BB and 4 of us see a 663 flop. there is some flop and turn action, but I don't get the AA cracked. The "consolation" is a pretty nice pot. 3 people cold-call a PF raise w/ QQ and they hold up on a J-high flop. I get same-color AA (the jackpot!) and think I have a chance on a K77 flop that sees some action--until an ace hits the river. Again, it's a nice pot though. I called a CR in the BB w/ Q6 suited, then CR the CB on a AQx flop. He folded KK face up. One of the most amazing folds I've seen in a low-limit limit game. Even with that success, I left at 1pm up just $8.
I headed over to the Palms for their aces cracked, and got into a $4/$8 game at 2pm Twice early on, I flop sets with small pairs, and can't bet the river because 3 or 4 to a straight & flush on the board. I get AA, and am 0 for 3 for the day in getting them cracked.
I should note here that in limit poker, a lot of your profit (or loss) comes from hitting or missing your draws. In loose games, you'll get a chance often enough to pay for draws. If you go on a run of hitting them, you'll fin yourself with some big stacks in front of you. But if you miss a bunch....
And that's what was happening. I was getting some big draws, and missing them. That meant a slowly dwindling stack. Id didn't help when I flopped a set, paired the turn card, and found myself against a bigger flopped set. Basically, for the last 3 hours there, I'm getting either trash hands (which quickly see the muck), a few small wins, and some ugly big losses (like flopping the 2nd nut flush in the blind only to have the naked ace hit the turn). I quit at 7pm down $115.
Friday morning, I'm back at the Mirage, and getting the $3/$6 game going at 8:45. Early on, I flop a set with 33 and think that it might be a good day when it holds up on a board with 3 to both a straight and flush. Alas, it was not to be. I did get a bit of a laugh when a self-professed no-limit player blurted out "I can't stand these limit games!" I had to wonder, if winning poker is about making good decisions, what is says about his decision making. As usual, I get 3 PF callers with KK, and they hold up after 10-10 flops a set only by rivering a straight. Even with that, I head out at 1pm exactly even, again off to the Palms.
After a 2+hour wait, I get a seat at a $4/$8 table. Not a particularly eventful session. I did have KK hold up when an A flopped. Shortly after 7, the makeup of the table changed, so I decided to get up. I did have a small profit of $38 at the time.
I decided to head back to the Orleans, where I get in to a $4/$8 Omaha game. This was a frustrating session. I was getting some good hands, but completely whiffing. For example, I had A23 twice, and flopped all high cards. I hit a lucky 25x flop with A3, but an A hit the turn. I flopped a set of aces after a couple of maniacs built a big pot preflop, but couldn't pair the board by the river. I just wasn't running well, and was starting to get a bit tired after a long day of poker, so I picked up down $111. Tomorrow is another day.
Saturday morning, the $3/$6 game at the Mirage didn't get foing until 9am. I knew it was going to be a slow day when it took me more than an hour to win my first pot. And it got only worse. In the first 2 hours, I saw only 1 pocket pair, and won only 1 1/2 pots. My second pocket pair of the day finally shows up, and it's the same 88 I had the first time. A bit later, I get 3 PF callers w/ QQ, and an A hits the flop. Not long after than I flop KQ w/ QQ. Unfortunately, it's only heads up. Fortunately, he called flop and turn bets. A bit of good luck strikes. 6 limpers, and i have KJo in the BB. Flop is 10-9-x. A LP player bets, and with a gutshot & 2 overs, I take a flyer--and see a Q hit the turn. I'm able to CR as well and build a nice pot. Even with that, the slowness of the day leaves my down $18 when I pick up at 1pm.
Stupidly, I forget that the Palms promos are weekdays only. I get there to find a mostly empty poker room. I decide to walk over to the Rio and check out the WSOP.
Unfortunately, the smallest limit game offered is $10/$20--and there's not even a list going. So I just wander a bit. I watch a couple of final tables. They are getting ready to start the $50K Poker Player's Championship, so I hang around a bit, and it turns out that Tom "durrrr" Dwan is in a table by the rail. I get a great shot on my iPhone of him in a perfect "durrrr" pose/expression. I love it when my photo timing is good. I watch a few hands--Dwan is as aggressive here as he is on TV. Doyle is one table behind Dwan, but the crowds are so thick, i don;t want to make my way over to watch. I'm not much if a star watcher anyway.
I decide I'm going to give the Mirage tournament a try, now that they've dropped the evening buy-in. They are also running a ladies' tournament, and Linda Johnson & others are there, playing away. We get 4 tables. I get KK and QQ early, they hold up, and I wonder where those hands have been all day. I raise in EP with AhQh and only a loose player calls. The flop is 997 with 2 hearts. He calls my turn CB, and I go all-in on a turn 3. He calls and turns up.....AQ!! A heart hits the river and I have a nice double up. I made it to the break up a bit. But it wasn't long afterward that I tried to punish a couple of limpers with a sizable raise w/ QQ. Unfortunatley, I ran into KK. I wish I could say that the river Q saved me, but I was dead when a K hit the turn. I finished 36th of 45.
Back to the Mirage on Sunday morning, and got the $3/$6 game going at 8:45. Unfortunately, we have a few maniacs in this game. Fortunately, one of them gets felted quickly and leaves. I get AA (first time since my first day, and they are the same color, but I don't get 'em cracked. (That's 0 for 4 for those who are counting.) ON a 245 board, I feel pretty comfortable with 10-10, but the BB has 22. I get AA again, and finally get them cracked. Nice $150 bonus. I get tired of one maniac who is still hanging around, raising almost every pot PF, and decide to leave at 1 up $96 (not counting the bonus).
It's Sunday, so it must be time for the mixed game at IP. I get on the list, and then go upstairs for a 1 lb. stuffed burger at Hash House. Yum. I'm on one of two mixed games going, but unfortunately, they are both short. In 2-7 triple draw, I'm seeing more aces, including AA, then I was seeing in hold 'em all day. I lose some of my stack by making some questionable decisions, then get hit with the deck for a bit. in A-5 triple draw, I get and push 75 and 65 lows, they find trips twice and AAKK once. So at 10pm i decide to take my $41 profit and walk away.
Interestingly, I make a quick trip back to the hotel before I return to the IP. I can see it's getting close to raining. In fact, a lightning strike hits not too far away as I'm driving back down Flamingo. No long after that, the skies open up. I'm safely in the IP garage, but I feel a bit of worry. Sure enough, word gets to me during the game of the "IP river," but fortunately, the rain has ended and the "river" has subsided by the time I'm ready to leave. But as I enter the garage, I hear fireworks. Turns out the Caesar's fireworks were just delayed by the rain, and if I'd known, I could have headed out to the front and watched some of them. Bummer, as I was looking forward to a good fireworks show. I still think it;s weird that Caesar's doesn't so them on the 4th.
Month, it's the 4th, and I'm at the Mirage yet again. I just miss getting the last seat in the first game, but a second game gets going pretty quickly, and I'm starting at 10am. Early on, my QQ runs into not only JJ hitting a J on the flop, but KK hitting a river K. I get mixed AA and don't get them cracked. The session is otherwise uneventful, and I head out at 1pm up $9.
Back over to the Palms, I'm in a $4/$8 game by 1:30. It's a new game, and it's raised PF the first hand. I have A-10 in the BB and call, and flop Q-10-10. Sweet! Then again, I proceed to get QQ cracked twice, then go card dead for a good couple of hours. Card deadedness is only mildly more tolerable when I'm up. But I then lose a good chunk of my profit on a river 3-bet with kings full of jacks running into kings full of queens, the only hand that could beat me. I finally hit the nut flush--and get bet into on the river. Woo! I finaly decide to head out at 7pm up $41. I feel like it could have been more. I had lots of KK and QQ, but not a single AA.
I have dinner at the Palms buffet because I've played enough hours to get one comped. It's not as bad as some Yelp reviews say. Some decent stuff, some questionable stuff. I meander outside to the garage and watch some fireworks shows from afar. Not really the same as being up-close.
Tuesday morning, I'm back at the Mirage again. (Notice a pattern?) The $3/$6 game gets going at 9am. I start well. In the BB, I flop top pair and it holds up, and then a flop an A with AK, and it holds up too. I'm not too happy to have a loose-aggressive player on my left, but I trap him nicely after I raise PF with AQ, he cold calls, I check-call an A-high flop and then CR his turn bet. That nice play notwithstanding, it's more of a Sissyphean day: I go up two steps only to fall three steps back. That said, I get same-color AA and get them cracked for another $150 bonus. I'm done at q down $43, but the bonus makes it a profitable day.
Over to the Palms, I'm in a $4/$8 game by 1:30, just as they are starting another game. I get lucky early w/AQ vs. AK flopping AQx--and I gave thanks also to the guy who didn't chase his two-outer to the river. I called a PF raise in the BB with 55. The flop was AK5. The turn was a 5. The river was a K. The river went 3 bets. Not only a huge pot, but a $78 quads bonus. I finally get AA here--in a pot that was raised PF, but didn't get 'em cracked. I did get my KK cracked by 66 flopping a 6 though. I finally decide to head out shortly before 7 up $114.
And my last day, of course I'm at the Mirage in the morning. The $3/$6 gane gets going at 9:15. It's an ugly lineup though; I have a bunch of calling stations on my left. Had one call my PF raise w/ 86o. Finally, I get a chance to move, and put them on my right. It's my turn for runner-runner. I cold-called a raise by one of the loose guys with KQs. Flop was K7x. BB led, I raised. Q on turn, then Q on river caught up with BB who had 77. That all said, a bit later, I should know better to bluff a calling station on the turn when he calls my flop CB. Later, I hit top 2 on the flop w/ AQ only to lose to 77 hitting turn 7. Finally, 15 minutes before I have to leave, I get AA, and get them cracked for a $75 bonus. Still, it's a good table, even if I have been running more bad than good, so I stay one more hour. It doesn't help, and I leave at 2pm down $99.
For the trip, my poker play over some 50 hours of cash games, I wound up with a profit of.....$8. It was the bonuses that made the trip end with a nice little profit.
Got to spend some time at the tables with some familiar faces. Bob and some of the other players at the Mirage. Bill, one of the most enjoyable dealers to ever sit in the box. Missed catching Local Rock though. I think I met one other AVPer, but I forgot the name. Got to chat a bit with Chris, which is always pleasant. And it was a nice way to spend one last week before my job makes an honest man of me once again.