Early morning wake-up call at 6 am to leave for the airport at 7:15 am. Picked up my traveling companion at 7:30 and drove to the airport with my wife. Check in at 8:45 to get through security and customs about 45 mins later. A quick break the restrooms and trying out the wifi on the new netbook and skype home. Aircraft boarding and departure with US Airways was on time. Stopover at Philadelphia, a swift pass through customs and border control and after a timely flight an early landing in las vegas, half an hour ahead of schedule.
As we had rented two scooters, we had arranged for an airport pickup by harry from rent a scoot, who drove us to the Tropicana, where we checked into room 1714 with a strip view.
We walked about for a few hours and hit the sack to wake up at 630 am, which would be our standard waking time for the next week or so.
This was going to be a training holiday for live tells. I had just finished the new book by Zachary Elwood on reading poker tells and found some interesting concepts that I was going to experiment with at the tables.
Wow … I spotted at least fifteen important and recurring tells from his book , even from regulars and decent to good players. As a matter of fact, there were perhaps only two or three players I played with that I did not spot any tells on after going through extensive periods of observation.
I had intended to play at more properties,but ended up playing only three of the on this trip.
The Tropicana was the hotel I stayed in, so whenever there was action in there, I sat down. There is a decent rakeback promotion from 10 am to 7 pm where you get 80 dollars rakeback for 8 hours of play and four shots at a 200 dollar raffle. Unfortunately, this promotion is a nitfest, where you hardly see pots over ten dollars, with absolutely no action but with the stone cold nuts. No money to be made. The average age was 65+ and two at the table were poker book authors from the nineties (Alan Shoomaker being among them).
The real action would start at night when the promotion was over and the tourists would come leaking in. The room however has trouble keeping full ring games running at night; I played shorthanded for two nights, luckily with some worse players, giving me the opportunity to play LAG with the tells radar in full swing . I couldn’t believe how readable my opponents would get. The style created big swings in the stack, but was highly effective. Had it not been for numerous suckouts by the worst player at the table, who just kept shoving with air and getting there, I would have been up 2k on one evening. A few locals and dealers were then eager to get in the shorthanded game but made the mistake of buying in short (100-150) with over 1500 on the table between two loose players. Every pot was raised to a minimum of 15 preflop, so it was surprisingly easy to know when they actually had a hand. It didn’t take too long to bust their high pairs on low boards, as I’d basically play any two preflop in this kind of setup.
Definitely, if not playing total rocks, and with enough behind, LAG play is a money maker, provided the tells radar is finetuned.
I got one suckout myself hitting an eight outer for a straight against a flopped set for 300, but had my aces cracked preflop by K7 for 400, lost with a flopped set of fours to a flopped set of aces after a decent preflop raise on an AK4 rainbow board (which I saw coming by the body language but couldn’t lay down) for 500, lost a 700 dollar pot with kings to aces, had my queens cracked by tens that got there on the river for another 500, but still managed to make an overall 2000 profit.
The laydown of the week was a hand where Alan Shoomaker laid down his pocket kings for a whopping two dollar bet on the river in a pot approximating fifty dollars on an ATK4A board against another regular, getting one to twenty five on his money. Uber nitty, but villain showed the aces.
I sat in one of the larger MTT at the MGM, which was hosting the grand challenge series, but busted out after three hours, with an M of 9, trying to open shove steal from the CO with K7 and getting called by the chip leader OTB with … K8. Might have been a little too impatient, after three hours of having gotten no action at all on aces, kings and queens. This is why I prefer cash games by far.
MGM is still one of my favorite rooms, because of the incessant action, but the competition factor makes me look up the Excalibur every time, despite the lousy management, the poorer dealers, little enforcing of the rules and bad floor calls. The Excalibur is a certain money maker every time. From my last trip, I have learnt that you always want to top off max at the Excalibur, to maximize value against the bigger stacks.
This was my sixth Vegas visit in three years, and one where I felt like a shark in the water. I was preying both on other sharks and fish alike. I was properly rolled, willing and able to vary the style of play depending on the players involved and the situation at hand, and working hard on my image.
I tried out different image types and played each of them in different sessions: the uncertain tourist look, the shades and cap, the overconfident look, the slow thinking player type, the abnoxious knowall, the offensive approach, the table comedian, and the mr. Niceguy.
I owe a special thank you Zachary Elwood. His new book on poker tells is a must read for live play and allowed me to sniff out upcoming action and read bluffs, which I would never have called down or even shoved into before, both against clear cut amateurs and good to decent players.
I also had a questionable floor call. A novice dealer there was absolutely not in control of his game and I found the floor decision to be poor on this matter, despite me liking the floor person a lot. Here’s the setup:
I’m heads up in position, playing loose with K7 on the button against a tilting Northern Irish guy. The pot has grown to about 70 on an AxTx7XX board, and I sense weakness, so I bet out about 75, expecting to take it down, since he has only about 150 behind. The Irish guy says call and starts counting out the chips ten at the time rather slowly, but counts them out clearly over the betting line. When he is at about fourty (over half way) I table my hand saying, you probably got me here. The guy goes berserk, shows 97o, says, you told me I have it, and wants to rake in the pot, including my bet which is still not matched. The floor is called over. The dealer confirms my line but says he didn’t hear him say call although the entire table did. I point out that he definitely said call, otherwise I wouldn’t have tabled, and that he had more than half the necessary amount over the betting line already so that even if he hadn’t verbally called, his actions constituted a call. The floor nevertheless ruled against it and only awarded me the pot with the amount already over the betting line, 35 dollars short of the correct amount. I’d like to hear your opinions on this.
Apart from the poker, we went to see both David Copperfield and Chris Angel for the two high end magic shows. Copperfield still is the better of the two. We had dinner at three steakhouses, one at the Excalibur, one at the Monte Carlo, and one downtown at Binion’s. All of them good food. We preferred the breakfast buffet at the Tropicana over the MGM’s because of the better food quality and the cosier setting on the terrace near the waterfall. We enjoyed the rainforest café, but also breakfast on the strip at Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris Las Vegas.
Having rented two scooters for the week, we easily roamed around town, with minimal effort, no parking hassle and no sore feet, putting in over two hundred miles of distance on the tach.
We also had a great experience renting a private aircraft (yours truly is a private hobby pilot) and doing some flying around Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon, for only a quarter of the price a commercial helicopter tour would have cost. We visited every higher end hotel on the strip, from the M resort to the Stratosphere, and went up and down to downtown and back, as our moped scooters from rent- a- scoot allowed us to get there easily. The flashy little retro models even got us to Henderson executive airport where we did the flying. No drinking and driving though. Always sober when driving…
I also met LVM on the last day, begging him for an AVP card capper which had been promised to me after my first trip report now already two years ago, but who referred me to Jon Friedberg. So Jon, if you are reading this, I’d be glad to get one in the mail….
One small regret though … I had tried to book a poker seminar with Jamie Gold during my stay but the man was not in town. A special thank you to Andy Cobb from the Tropicana poker room who really takes care of his players.
See you at the tables on my next trip...