Having racked up enough hours yet again, I couldn't resist returning to Sin City to participate in the Mirage's second quarterly freeroll. I really made it a weekend trip for the first time, driving down on Friday, May 18, and making the return road trip back on Monday, May 21. All this gave me just a bit more than 2 days to play poker.
I ended up at the Ramada on Flamingo. Turns out, cheap rooms for the weekend were challenging, and I turned eventually to Priceline. It was just a bit less than $50/night, but with not only free wifi, but a nice little free breakfast buffet. The only drawback was on my arrival. After midnight Friday night, the room I got, while away from the street, ws also facing west. And the A/C had not been left on, although the curtains had been left open. That meant the room was HOT. And although the A/C did a pretty good job of cooling the room's air down, the floor and furniture still radiated a lot of leftover heat. So it was quite a bit later than I wanted before I could really hit the sack and get a semi-decent night's sleep.
Still, the night was a bit short. I was up at 8, schlepped through the breakfast in near record time, and over to the Mirage I went. I had actually forgotten what time the freeroll started, and although I got there in time to get the first $3/$6 game going of the day (at 9:15), I would have only 45 minutes to play before the freeroll began. Even so, my first session of the trip was a "successful" on, finishing the 45 minutes up $6.
I had 50 hours worth of chips, plus the dealer add-on, so I was one of the big stacks at the table with 15K in chips. Unfortunately, my start was not a good one. I was down to about half my starting stack when my table broke and I was moved. Then I doubled up in an AK vs. 88 race flopping a K, and then again with QQ vs. A-10, especially when I got a bit of a sweat with a KJs flop and a 10 turn. All the resulted in my making it to the first break with double my starting stack.
My table broke again and I got moved to a table with a lot of big stacks. But I lost about 2/3 of my stack open-raising with A5 and having the BB go all-in on my for just 8K more and who turned out to have A7. I turned up the aggression a bit and started open-pushing all-in with decent hands. I was getting little resistance and picked up a lot of blinds and antes. I made it to the 2nd break with about 21K in chips, but that was "only" about 10 big blinds. In fact, this would become a pattern. Once or twice, I get reraised by one of the more aggro players on my left after I raise with a big-ace hand. I release, not wanting to play a big pot out of position, deciding I want to bide my time.
As we kept losing players, I made it next to the final 30. My stack was up to more than 40K, but the big blind was now 4K. And that was right about where I ended when we broke for the day. I had made it to Sunday! I decided to take the rest of the night off. I went over to the Orleans, did a Fuddruckers burger, caught a movie, then had a nice ice cream sundae at Baskin Robbins.
Sunday morning I was back at the Mirage bright and early. 9:15 and the $3/$6 game got up and running. I found I had a major flopaholic 3 seats to my right. Not too far in, I flopped a set with QQ. The same river card that made the flopaholic's flush also paired the board, and he raised me on the river. Unfortunately, he left for the morning tournament. Fortunately, he was back soon; he busted out in the first round. Unfortunately, he's now 2 seats to my left. I get same-color aces OTB in a hand that's rasied preflop. The flop came K-10-10, but an ace on the turn killed any action--although the preflop raiser and the flopaholic did call my turn bet. One thing I like about the Mirage poker room is that there's a Panda Express right across the street. It's not hugely overpriced for a Strip location, and the food is reasonably healthy: lots of low fat meat and lots of veggies. And with the Chipotle now right next to it, it now gets almost no lines, so I can get in and out. Meanwhile, as the afternoon gets late, the table makeup changes, with a few more aggressive players. I'm down a bit form my high, so I take a break, finishing up $22.
And then comes the freeroll final session. I try, mostly jokingly, to engineer a 60-way chop, where we'd all get $500. There are actually a few players who say they'd go for it. I am one of the shorter stacks, and we start the action with two of the bigger stacks on my left. I decide to play with a bit of caution, but I know I'll probably have to gable a bit at some point. Unfortunately, I start card dead, and get down to 10 big blinds. I finally woke up with AK in the BB after the CO raised. He didn't call. We get down to less than 40 and I double up with A-10 vs. 99 when an ace hits the flop. 90K in chips sounds nice, until you realize that the blinds are 4K and 8K. I get lucky in yet another race, this time it's me with the pair, 10-10 vs. KQ. There's a king in the window, but miraculously, a 10 finds its way into the flop as well.
I make it into the final 30. The minimum payoff is not $350. I have about 120K in chips. There are not really huge stacks at my new table (we have re-drawn), but the biggest stack is 2 seats to my left. I get lucky again. I'm down to fewer than 10 big blinds and I shove with QJs. I'm up against AK, but I flop a flush draw and make it on the river. I've really been around 10 big blinds for many rounds now. Still, I cant always get lucky. I have an AK run into a short stack's AA. I think my (relatively) tight image lets me pull off a bluff. I called a button raise in the BB with KJs. The flop is Axx, and it goes check-check. I bet the turn blank and he folded. And it helps me get into the final 20. It's a $500 minimum now. I hit a huge suckout. Down to about 8 big blinds, I went all-in with KJs. I ran into a shorter stack's all-in who hit his ace on the flop. But a turn jack and a river jack seriously saved me. We began talking about a chop, and we ended up chopping at 12 for $1760, after each giving the then chip leader a bit.
But we weren't done. The December freeroll championship gave extra chips to all who made the final table, plus even more to the first and second place finishers. And it wasn't long before I made it to the final table! And at one point I was chip leader, getting there by doubling up with QQ vs. AQ. But I ended up in 3rd place taking a big ace hand against a small pair and not improving. And it was one of the other regular $3/$6 players, a local, who ended up winning it all.
Once I collected and tipped, I booked it over to the Imperial Palace. But it was late. 15 minutes to midnight, to be exact, and there was not only a seat open at the only mixed game table going, it was a short table. I made the 6th player, and about 10 minutes after I sat down, one couple got up. We played for awhile very short, just 4 players, but it wasn't really fun. One of the games came up in the rotation, one player said he didn't want to play that game, and that was it for the table. I got to play for only an hour, and I lost $10. Very disappointing that I didn't get to play more, because that has always been one of the main reasons I plan my returns on Monday instead of Sunday.
I get to the Mirage early, but the $3/$6 game has already gotten underway. I figure it's going to be a bit of a wait, but I get a nice surprise: a seat opens up almost right away. I get AA, and although they don't get cracked, they take down a nice pot. And the Indian flopaholic is back again. 3 seats to my left. And of course I proceed to go completely card dead. After being patient for a long time, a drag a pot when I flop top 2 pair with J9 in the BB. Still, I get down $80 before finishing up at 2pm down "just" $27. My notes say that I also get $50 for getting AA cracked, but I guess I didn't tweet it. So even without the tournament cash, the trip has been ever so slightly profitable.
All-in-all, while the cash games were a grind, and I am sad about missing so much of the IP mixed game, I really can't complain about the trip. I think I made generally good decisions in my tournament play, and that combined with just enough luck left my bankroll in much better shape than when I arrived. I can't wait to get back.