For the first time ever, I took an extended 11-day trip to Las Vegas. I wanted to have time to check out a bunch of different rooms, rather than sticking to 4 or 5 favorites and also get to see the WSOP in person. Played a lot of poker, mainly cash games, and spent a lot of time at the WSOP -- playing side cash games and watching some of the pros, but not playing any events. Even $1000 is still a bit too rich for my blood, and the satellites looked like crap shoots.

I couldn't possibly write a full trip report in one post but I'll hit some highlights and then try to add on a day-by-day report. Was mainly playing on the strip, but got to Hard Rock, Rio (of course), and made a couple of trips downtown. Had a very unique experience at El Cortez (don't laugh) and played one of Binion's deep stack tournaments. Ran into and played alongside a number of AVP/Facebook friends. Saw about 20 poker rooms over the course of the trip. Also got to see EA 27 in person. I was up a lot the first week -- including a couple of huge cashes, then hit some coolers and didn't play as well the second week and gave it all back and finished the trip down a bit.

I stayed at Alexis Park the first week and Imperial Palace the second week. The middle of my trip was Memorial Day weekend and everything was crazy. I think IP wanted $200 for Saturday night and I couldn't fathom 11 days at IP. Also wanted to see what it was like to stay off-strip, non-gaming property. I arrived Monday afternoon, got my rental car and headed to Alexis Park to check in and get settled. Alexis Park is a fairly nice extended stay properly across the street from the Hard Rock Hotel. I was actually fairly impressed for the $59/night I paid and the place was deserted during the week. OK, on to poker.

Once settled I headed to Wynn as I hadn't played there in a about four trips. Played an uninteresting session for a couple hours and cashed out down $2. Headed to Mirage for the 7 PM tournament and for dinner and Carnegie Deli. Dinner was good, tournament wasn't. Busted midway through and never got anything going. Was so long ago that I don't remember much except that dealers were pretty mediocre. Played 1/2 NL for a couple hours and made back $20. Took the tram next door to TI and lost $80 in 1/3. It was 12:45, I hadn't been feeling so great so I decided to make it an early night. Tried to take the tram back to Mirage but apparently they shut it down 15 minutes early. Had a long walk/drive home when I really wanted to crash. Day 1: Not much going on, down $60 cash, 0/1 in tournaments.

Day 2: At 10 AM, headed to Mirage where I knew there'd be a game Tuesday AM. Got into a game next to LasVegasMichael and headed to Starbucks for some breakfast. Played a brutal session -- kept playing well and missing or getting drawn out and adding on another 100. Aside from a small pot to LVM, I don't think there were any hands I played poorly. TheOD was at the neighboring table and we were having an informal contest to see who could get stuck more; unfortunately that was the only thing I won that day. Cashed out down $400+ and headed to Venetian to see if I'd fare better there. And I knew running bad was starting to affect my game. Played at V from 4 to 11:30 with just a 45 minute break for dinner (good food, horrible service at Noodle Asia). Was down a couple hundred pretty quickly but ground back to almost even. Needed a change, but wasn't tired so headed to IP for a couple hours and made a quick $100. Typical easy IP game.

Day 2: Down $400, -$460 for the trip.

Wednesday would be a better day. My friend Meier flew in for a few days and I knew that would change some things since he's an action player. To be continued once the trip report is posted...

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  1. Day 3 (Wednesday 5/26): I picked up Meier at the airport and we decided to head to Bally's where we expected there would be good games. They only had one cash table running so it took us a while to get into a game. Game was pretty good at the start, but I lost a big pot early. A few limpers to Meier who limps on the button. I raise from BB with 88, perhaps a caller or two, and Meier re-raises. Against an EP limp-reraise I'd figure QQ+ and dump it. But I'd seen Meier make this squeeze play with any small pair. And I figure if he has JJ-99 I can take it away from him on the flop. I call. I forget if I led the flop or check-raised the flop but Meier shoved and I finally decided he must have a hand, though strangely played, and fold. He had KK but I put a lot of money in the pot to find out. After a couple of hours the table dynamics changed -- the donators had lost their money -- and we decided it was time to change venues, though probably 45 minutes too late. Played even on the session except for the above hand and wound up down $160.

    Walked over to PHo in time for them to start the first table of the day. Played for an hour and was up $80 but the table wasn't that good -- generally boring and tight. Since it was the only NL game running, we left. Just missed AlaskaGal who said the second table they started was pretty good. And thus began one of the really interesting parts of my trip.

    For reasons I still don't understand, Meier was able to get a deal on Expedia for airfare + 3 nights at El Cortez for less than the cost of airfare alone. If anyone understands this, let me know. While he probably didn't need to check in to El Cortez at all, we figured better safe than sorry. We wound up in a 1-3 spread but you could bet/raise 6 on the river. The room is dinky but the players were terrible. A seat opened on my left and a new player sat down who the players and dealers seemed to know. He bought in for $15 and was terrible and would hold his cards so I could see it, so it was easy to tell. One hand he limped UTG with Q6o and on a AJ-rag flop called a bet and then called a raise behind him (no pair, no draw, queen high). Turns out he is Jackie Gaughan, the owner of El Cortez. He has a blast playing is fun to play with -- always yells "one for the money" when he calls $1 pre-flop -- and is a donator in the most literal sense of the word, though he does play incredibly slowly. Played an hour and half and cashed out up $50. While I'm not sure I have the patience for this game, it's probably the most profitable low limit game in town. Certainly check it out if you're already downtown.

    Wandered around downtown for a while. Walked through the Fitzgerald poker room but didn't play. They didn't have a game going but told us they could/would start five-handed an everyone who started the game got $20 ($40?) if they played 3 hours, or something like that. Eventually wound up in a cash game at Binion's where I made $80 in an hour. Grabbed some late dinner at a hole-in-the-wall taco joint and headed back to the hotel. Decided to drive across the street to Hard Rock, since we wanted to play a bit more but didn't want to go far. Neither of us had ever been there before. Played from 12:30-1:30 and broke even. Would have played longer but it took us 20 minutes to wander around and find the poker room, and Meier is wimpy about staying up late in Vegas. I like the room, but the location isn't so great, at least coming from the parking garage. As important, people were having a good time playing and willing to gamble to back up their egos. Clearly this is a place people come to gamble.

    Day 3: Up $80, -$380 for the trip

    Day 4 got off to a late start for a variety of reasons. Despite the early night we didn't get seated at a poker table until almost 1 PM. Played at the V for about 5 hours. Never really got anything going and cashed out down $100. I really don't remember this session at all. Took a break for dinner then decided to walk next door to the Wynn for 1/3 NL. Now this session I'll never forget. My first hand I'm in the BB with 76s suited. I flop a flush draw, check and call after a bet and two calls (easy call getting 5:1). Turn the flush and lead out and get called in two places. River is a face card, not my suit. I lead and get called by a straight. Near double up on my first hand. While the callers built a big pot that hand was actually calm given how the rest of the session went. Most people were playing $800 deep, a few had $1500, and at one point I watched the guy on my left (who was loose, terrible) count out a stack of 22 $100's. This is because most hands were raised pre-flop. Half the pots were 3 players for $25 each, a quarter were raised $15-20, and 1/4 were limped usually six ways. With $50-100 in the pot pre-flop, pots were huge. Of course in a game where it's expensive to see flops you need to get a good hand to be involved or be willing to 3-bet steal with air. Played until 12:30 AM and wound up ahead $300. Action was still great and I tweeted to try to get some AVPers to come over but no luck. I could tell I was fading and while the action was good, the game required a bit of patience to beat.

    Day 4: Up $200, -$180 for the trip

    Having reversed course, over the next few days the money really started rolling in...

  2. Enjoying the trip report so far!

    I, too, have played with Jackie at the ElCo. He must have come on hard times after selling the place. When I played with him he went through almost 2 racks in less than 2 hours. I could tell I just could never cut it in the poker world when I was too soft to check raise a millionaire when I rivered a boat. Sigh.

    Looking forward to the rest.

  3. @packbacker I had an unfortunate hand with jackie. I had Q2 he 77 the board was Q272? He bet the river i raised and said sorry jackie i think i turned ya and he just called showing the better boat it was a really gross feeling watching the millionare with diamond rings rake my pot ouch.

  4. Are we going to get more on this one? :laughing:

  5. more more.. I want to hear the positive results. more details on hands would be great as well.
    thx adrock.

  6. Wow, I dropped the ball over the holiday weekend. I'll try to include more hands, but I don't take many notes on hands. I'll see what I can pull from Twitter and what little I remember.

    Day 5 (5/28): Meier and I get to Mirage at 1 PM (yes, another late start, I don't remember why) to start a new 1-2 table. LVM is playing at the other table. The session gets off to a bad start as my wife keeps calling as we're getting settled; and she usually never calls when I'm in Vegas. She's supposed to leave town to visit her sister but is feeling lousy that AM and not sure what to do. Eventually it all worked out and she took the trip but it was a big distraction for the morning. I actually make it back to the table in time for the first hand. I look down at 22 and think "if someone raises they're going to get stacked on the first hand". Meier obliges and opens for $10. Flop A-K-2, yahtzee. I forget if we were heads up or not, but he bets, I raise and he calls. I shove the turn and after thinking for 30 seconds, he calls and tables AK. Ugly cooler for him. There's an aggressive V at the other end of the table who will limp and call a raise with almost ATC and then over bet the pot or shove when he hits two pair. He's had some wild swings. Played a hand where I either limped AA or just smooth called and he shoved an A-8-2 flop. I snap called and stacked him. Later I raised with AA and he called. I led the flop and he shoved for ~$100 into a $50 pot. I knew he had two pair but the bet size was so absurd I couldn't believe it and though flush draw was part of his range. I made a stupid call and got bailed out when the board paired giving me a better two pair. Also made a few sick calls and kept building my stack up to $900. Spent a while talking to Mirage Poker about the room and some of his dealers and he was very candid. About 4:20 I feel like I've run so good that I've taken all the money there was to take and we decided to head to the Rio to check out the WSOP. Cashed out up $600+.

    Had lunch at In-N-Out Burger (awesome) then spent a long time wandering around the Rio and watching the $50K players championship. I'm not star struck but it was cool to see a tournament with 100 players and 50 of them are name players. Got to see pretty much every big name player up close and personal. Didn't get any autographs but did snap a few photos. One surprise to me was how many players entered late. 1/3 of the field was late entries. I guess when it's a mutli-day tournament there's no rush to play the first hand. Were a number of dealers looking very bored until the tables filled up.

    Then played the first of a series of bad sessions in the WSOP cash room. While I liked the environment and experience, my bankroll wishes I'd never played in these games. First table sucked -- lots of blind chops. Really, you came to play in the WSOP to fold; where are the gamblers. Got a table change and before I even had my chips out of the rack people were complaining that the table sucked. I got on the list for PLO and cashed out down 150. PLO table was full of terrible players. In one hand a guy turned over 6668, declared "trips" and since he had put money in the pot post flop, I don't think he was kidding. Someone asked why two pair won and I think he was serious too. Unfortunately I was card dead and wound up down $25. But not before I saw what's truly the sickest beat I've ever seen. Don't remember the exact action but I have QJ72 and fold my junk, V1 raises, V2 re-raises, V3 smooth calls, and eventually V1 and V2 proceed to get all in pre-flop and V3 lays down KKxx after thinking a long time. V1 shows KK72 suited in clubs and V2 shows AA72 also suited in clubs. V1 can't hit a K because V3 folded them. His club flush draw isn't good. Neither 77 or 22 would be any good because V2 would have a better kicker with trips (they don't know I folded 72). The board comes 7-2-x-x-x (no ace, no clubs) and the players chop with two pair. The case 7 and case 2 were the only way V1 could win anything; he had .004 equity.

    Day 5: Up $440, +240 for the trip.

  7. AdR:

    Help me out on this one (I've NEVER played PLO, but am familiar with the game): wouldn't V2's two pair (As and 7s) beat V1s two pair (Ks and 7s)?

    What am I missing?


  8. @SeattleIrish

    Because with Omaha you have to play 2 cards and ONLY two cards from the four you have. Therefore each player can only play the 7 and 2 from their hands, the AA & KK (surprisingly) don't play.

  9. Insane hand. If I didn't trust your posts I would have thought u made it up. Good to hear the comeback. Odd question. On that first hand do u ever shove with anything less than AK? Not saying I can fold AK just thinking of hand ranges.

    If I was to check out any one tourney players championship would be it. Anybody stand out attitude-wise?

  10. @vookenmeister
    On the PLO hand it wasn't until after the hand played out and they chopped that V3 mentioned he folded kings and I realized I had folded 72. My friend and I talked about the hand quite a bit. It''s tough to put me on a hand. It's unlikely I smooth called with AA or KK, I might have AK, I probably don't just have AQ, I might have A2s (though I don't call with that hand). I have to have exactly 22 or a bluff. I think he can fold AK there every time and come out ahead.

    Play in the Players Championship was very cordial. The final table was interesting (I'll get to that). Hellmuth did his typical late arrival and circled the room before taking his seat.

  11. Day (Saturday): Meier had a plane to catch so we knew we'd just get in one short session and we went across the street to Hard Rock. Good move. We started the second 1-2 game and it wasn't very good. I took a look at the other table and saw $3000 on the table with one player with $1500. Watched a player get all-in for $120 with 87s and got on the list for a table change. Meier soon followed. At the table there was a drunk woman who was spewing cash or would be but was hitting hands for a while. I don't often seat change, but when the seat on her left opened up I jumped for it. Not sure if I won any big pots off her -- in fact she may have bluffed me off one hand -- but Meier won a couple big pots calling bluffs. In the end she seemed to go through at least 1G in a couple hours before changing to the other table.

    In this session I played the biggest and scariest pot so far. I raised a straddle to 20 with KdTd and got 4 callers. Flop AdJdJs. Everyone checks to the button (I don't see much point betting with an ace on the board) who bets $100, SB shoves for $320 (I have him covered), EP goes all-in for his last $80. I tank for a long time. I know I'm up against trips but I have a royal draw and am getting 2:1. Finally I decide SB could have any kicker and that probably only kills one out, call and river a Q to take down the pot. Had the gambler's special for lunch -- $7.77 for surf and turf -- steak and three jumbo shrimp, IIRC. It wasn't great but it was $8!! Cashed out up $400 and took Meier to the airport.

    Was going to head toward TI/Venetian but saw Tweets from AlaskaGal that she and Clem were going to see DMuzio's band Soggy Harry play at Harley Davidson at 7, so decided to stop at Aria so I was closer to meet them. Through the magic of twitter and text messaging made a plan to meet AG and Clem without ever talking to them. There wasn't a 1/2 open so I played 2/5. In fact my records show I've never found a 1/2 (or 1/3?) seat at Aria. Could immediately tell this was a good game with a few people splashing money around very light, but I was card dead. Finally picked up 99, raised, got three caller and it held up on an 8-high flop to win a $250 pot. A bit later I raised KK in EP (maybe the blinds even) and got a few callers. I led a jack-high flop and got raised. I couldn't fold and after thinking a while figured given stack sizes it was all going in on the turn or river. I shoved and V mucked AJ face up. Another $300 win and I cashed out a few hands later to meet AG and Clem. Up $430 in an hour and a half.

    Found AlaskaGal and Clem shortly after 7 to have dinner and listen to Soggy Harry. Unfortunately it took them a while to get set up and didn't actually start until about 8. We listened for a couple hours (OK it wasn't that long but Dmuzio will read this I'm sure) then walked down to MGM. We got seated right away AG and Clem got on one table and I was at another. Right away I dropped most of a buy-in. Raised with KQs and led a Q high-flop and got one caller. The turn gave me a flush draw or straight draw or maybe both and I decided to check raise and got called. River was a blank and I think we checked in down and he showed AQ. Was a good table with a number of bad players but couldn't get anything going and kept pulling Benjamins out of my wallet. AG and Clem seemed to do OK but not sure when they left. I kept chasing my losses figuring eventually I had to make a hand; I was wrong. Cashed out at 3 AM down $400, which isn't that bad just very frustrating.

    Day 6 total up $440 (same as day 5), $680 for the trip